Reflections about Puzzles

Carol A. Hand

There are so many things I would like to write about but the truth is, I don’t have time. I am too busy doing something I have always loved to do. Solving puzzles.

It’s a trait that helped me survive jobs in overly politicized competitive bureaucracies. When I worked for state government, it involved mediating conflict in creative, unexpected ways. Like designing a solution for an outdated funding formula for county programs that was overly dependent on ever-shifting demographic data. When working for an inter-tribal agency, it meant figuring out how to exert tribal sovereignty over exploitive university researchers or state administrators who used divide and conquer tactics to create competition among tribes in order to limit funding for necessary services. In academia, it meant learning how to teach the most unpopular courses in ways that engaged students and provided information that would be helpful in a future I might not see.

Figuring out how to keep experimenting with more effective ways to teach research this semester is keeping me busy. Some days, it takes a lot of discipline to sit at my computer all day and into wee morning hours redesigning assignments or grading student papers with comments intended to both encourage and educate.

Interestingly though, doing other types of puzzles helps me transition between different topics, research methodologies, and styles of communicating. I am grateful for free online card games, or the digital jigsaw puzzles I can create with my own photos. (I doubt that the one posted below would be interesting, though.)

Cryptogram Wisdom

Solving cryptograms before I fall asleep helps me let go of any other puzzles that might otherwise keep me awake.

There are puzzles I don’t like to solve, though, that have to do with technology. Sadly, I have to rely on technicians or time. This week, I was locked out of WordPress. Fortunately that challenge was addressed by someone last evening. I don’t need to know who or how or why. I am just grateful that others find it interesting to solve technological puzzles.

All of this is meant as an explanation for my very infrequent visits to blogs these days, including mine. I want to let you know that I value what you all share and will return again as soon as I can. In the meantime, I send my best wishes to all.


In case anyone is interested, I have typed the cryptogram quotes below:

“One must learn by doing the thing, for though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.” (Aristotle)

“The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.” (Bill Paterson)

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” (Albert Einstein)

“Love is a medicine for the sickness of the world; a prescription often given, rarely taken.” (Karl Menninger)


38 thoughts on “Reflections about Puzzles

  1. Carol, no need to explain to me, why you haven’t been around. And I am more that certain that the others who follow would, and will, express the same.

    You are definitely more intelligent than I am, Carol. I get anxious and nauseated just looking at a puzzle like the one above. I’m always afraid this kind of puzzle will only confirm what I have feared for a long time: I’m not too bright;-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Dave. Just a reminder lest you forget – you can write symphonies – blending so many complex instrumental sounds into something beautiful. That is truly a gift, my friend. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Carol. My stepson used to say something similar, especially when I messed up something around the house: “Dave good at music.” We still laugh about that one!

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  2. You are indeed a genius Carol, and right where you need to be. I was remembering a friend in Wyoming who did play solitaire (using a deck) and she told me it cleared her mind and helped get rid of stress. I do that myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Trace. Actually, the process of teaching is humbling. Students always make me realize things I didn’t consider when designing assignments, or what I don’t know and have to learn, at least superficially, in order to help them. At least I know I have been able to solve puzzles in the past. It gives me hope I can keep doing it for now…

      Sending my best wishes, dear friend. 💜

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the JUMBLE word puzzle in my morning newspaper (remember newspapers?) because they’re usually just challenging enough to get my brain working until I’m wide awake, but rarely too hard to solve (just the thing for someone who’s not much of a coffee drinker). After that, finding time for other kinds of puzzles would be a puzzle I couldn’t solve, even if I wanted to.

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  4. Carol, glad to know all is well. I so enjoy your posts. I have come to see that the technological challengers which pop up from time to time have something for me. I need only slow down to discern what it may be. Creatively solving problems of any type anywhere and navigating the often treacherous landscape of government takes an enormous amount of effort. I know it well. Thank you for what you’ve done and continue to do for others. Thank you for updating us. Sending blessings to you. ❤️

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  5. I like doing the daily NYT crosswords on a computer app that keeps track of personal stats — and all the fun stuff that lets you cheat too 🙂 All part of being a word nerd, I guess.
    My regards to all the lucky students who get to have you as their teacher!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Kindest thanks, Carol 🙂

        Wordnerdery is one of my favorite hobbies. Among the “word nerd” definitions offered on the Urban Dictionary:

        nerd who is good at word-related subjects, such as grammar and foreign languages, rather than math and science like a stereotypical nerd.
        Person A: Did you know that the little dot on top of a lowercase letter “i” is called a “tittle”?
        Person B: You’re such a Word Nerd

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Hello Dear Carol,, thank you for the reminder that Art is the ultimate dichotomy. Freedom of expression, and in its purest form, not worrying about acceptance of the audience while nothing is more satisfying than knowing that your expression inspired or encouraged a kindred spirit to escape even for a brief moment, the weight of the world. ✌️

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