The New York Times Crossword

One of the little perks of my job is having access to free copies of the New York Times, because I love the crossword. This is from Monday of this week–Monday puzzles are easy, but still fun. I admit, I love the puns in the theme answers (23 Across: “Article of outerwear for a champagne drinker? Bubblewrap” 53 Across: “Article of outerwear for a General Motors employee? Chevy Blazer”).

crossword

 

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One Reason Why I Love Crossword Puzzles

I just finished doing last Sunday’s syndicated New York Times puzzle.  I’m pretty proud, because it’s only the 2nd Sunday puzzle I’ve ever finished without having to cheat and Google a single answer.

I’ve done dozens of these now, and it still surprises me how stumped I can get by simple answers, just because of tricky clues.

In this one, 14 across was “Where roots grow.”  I immediately got it into my head that it was about plants.  Five letter answer…SOILS?

It wasn’t until I had a P in the final spot that I realized: it wasn’t about plants, it was about hair.  SCALP.

A good crossword puzzle shows us how we make assumptions, and it challenges us to constantly re-evaluate them.  This is a mental skill sorely lacking in our day and age.

Spring Self-Improvement Report

Last year, I started breaking down my list of lifetime goals into smaller steps and making those my resolutions.  Instead of just starting at New Year’s, though, I split the calendar up into the three major divisions that my life as a father and teacher naturally fall into: a Spring semester, summer, and a Fall semester.  To keep my summer at a useful three months, I schedule those goals to be done in the three months before I report back to school for the new year, which means that this year my “summer” is defined as May 22-August 24 (even though I still have two weeks left this school year). 

That also means that my Spring semester for self-improvement–January 1 through May 21–just ended.  I had set ten goals for myself to achieve during this time, each correlated to the larger “bucket list,” and it went surprisingly well.  For comparison, out of the ten goals I set for last Fall, I only accomplished…two.  A poor, piddling, puny little two.  This time around, out of these first ten goals for 2010 (including the eight I rolled over from last year), I finished seven.  Not bad. 

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Always Be Looking Forward To Things

Something that I’ve long found that consistently increases satisfaction in life is to have something waiting for you every day that you’ve been looking forward to.  I have a few ways of doing this.

The first is merely to focus on the pleasure in some of life’s smaller, frequent tasks: seek contentment in folding laundry while you watch an old movie, listen to a certain radio show during a regular commute, watch for changes in moon phases or sunrise times during that commute, or have a favorite snack you indulge in each night, for example.   

The second is closely related, and something that I also do to be more effective at work: put lots of routines in place.  Set a schedule for working out on Saturday mornings, browsing your favorite blogs or web sites two or three nights a week, grilling burgers in the backyard while the kids run around every Wednesday evening, or getting up just a few minutes earlier to pray or do a puzzle or enjoy a bigger breakfast.  Putting these things into your daily routines will also help take the edge off of those less savory events in life that aren’t always negotiable: work, confrontations, obligatory activities, etc.

Finally, let some standard financial advice help out your general happiness in life: diversify.  Continue reading

Book Of Mormon In New York Times Crossword!

In yesterday’s (5/21/08) New York Times crossword, the clue for 18-across was “Book of Mormon book,” four letters.  That would make three possible answers.  Which was it?

This is especially exciting because about a million people do this crossword each day, and a Wednesday puzzle is supposed to be relatively easy; or, at least, the answers shouldn’t be too obscure.  Thus, the editors at the Times feel that the Book of Mormon is mainstream enough that its global readers will understand the clue and either know the answer or be able to find it out quickly. 

And so the influence of this amazing work grows…

The answer was “Omni,” by the way.