Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cheesecake crisis

Jon turned 50 recently.

Okay, fine. He turned 508. [That should read 50 subscript 8.] In base 10, he turned 40.

Now, some men might panic at this “over the hill” marker. Some men might rush out and purchase a red sports car. Some men might even trade in a current spouse for a trophy wife.

Providentially, Jon is too practical to buy a Ferrari--and he already has a trophy wife. ;)

Further, as life expectancy lengthens, we can be grateful that we all have an extra decade or so. He’s barely hit middle age! (Wait, if 50 really is the new 40, does that mean my assertion in the first line was right?)

Nonetheless, it occurred to me that my sweetie might be worried about going senile. I wanted to cheer him up, just in case he was concerned.

I decided to give him a mental mountain to surmount. What could be a better birthday present than the euphoric endorphins that come from meeting and mastering a challenge?

My natural inclination was to write rhyming riddles, but part of marriage is putting the other person first. While Jon could no doubt solve my Tolkienesque wordplay, wouldn’t he much rather do something involving math and encryption?

I wrote—okay, fine, I plagiarized—a bunch of hard math problems, instead. Thanks to Tim Sanders, the original author, for letting me hack his questions. It would have taken me ages to create them from scratch.

Oh, and I also sacrificed my natural inclinations by ministering to Jon’s domestic needs. (In other words, I actually planned, prepped, and cooked a real meal.)

For homeschool that day, I took the kids grocery shopping. Each boy picked out one chocolate bar for daddy and helped purchase ingredients to make a special dinner. (I also threw in a mini lecture about choosing grades of hamburger based upon the fat/protein ratio.)

After we got home, they made a special cheesecake for their dad. Daniel made the crust, Eric made the filling, and I scorched it in the oven. It was a group effort.

Then I assigned Eric and Daniel to design a treasure hunt for Jon. The hidden treasure was the chocolate bars.

Meanwhile, I worked on hacking math problems.

Jon normally gets home around 7 p.m., so it was a nasty shock when he called around 4 and said he was leaving work early.

*Ahem* Sorry. I mean, it was a delightful surprise that he was coming home early--but aaaaaaaack! Only halfway through the math, and I hadn’t even started the second cheesecake!

Jon’s brother, who was in town visiting friends, came over. Poor Ryan showed up and found the house in chaos, dinner unstarted, and me scribbling frantically, muttering mysterious “mod” math to myself. He very bravely took over my messy kitchen and made the pasta. Thanks, Ryan! You’re a lifesaver.
When Jon got home from work that day, the kids ambushed him with a treasure hunt. Solutions are at the very bottom of this post.

First clue: Your electronic display
Second clue: Zuchst in dein Zimmer nah die Tur.
Third clue: guy ebbz bs rzretrapl fgbentr
Fourth clue: fvyirejner
Fifth clue: “A chair that changes pitch conceals a thing you wish.”
Sixth clue: A map.

While Jon worked on those clues, I finished up writing mine and then provided reinforcements for Ryan.

After dinner (rigatoni noodles with kielbasa sausage and extra cheese),  I handed Jon his math clues with an apology. “The treasure they point to isn’t ready yet,” I confessed. “But you can solve them anyway and collect tomorrow.”

Here they are:

[Standard moaning about blogger's idiotic formatting. It looked cooler as printed in Word.]
1. Four friends are sitting around one afternoon thinking up large numbers.  If Olive chooses 100^200^300, Lily chooses 300^200^100, Heather chooses 200^300^100, and Peony chooses 200^100^300, which person has chosen the largest number?

2. The 26 letters of the alphabet are arranged in alphabetical order clockwise around a wheel with a counter.  On each trial, the counter starts at 0 on A and is moved clockwise around the wheel.

On Trial 1, the counter moves 2222222 letters.
On Trial 2, it moves 33333333 letters.
On Trial 3, it moves 4444444 letters.
On Trial 4, it moves 23456 letters.
On Trial 5, it moves 5678912 letters.
On Trial 6, it takes a break and moves only 212 letters.
On Trial 7, it moves 78912 letters.
On Trial 8, it moves 202020 letters.
On Trial 9, it moves 404440 letters.
Finally, on Trial 10, the poor thing moves 108 letters and then collapses in exhaustion.

In order, what are the letters the counter ends on?

3. Assume a base-36 numbering system where the digits 0 through 9 represent 0 through 9, as usual, and the letters A through Z represent 10 through 35, respectively; what is the base-36 value of the base-10 number 625700?

**Spoiler Alert. The answers are given four paragraphs below. Quit reading now if you want to solve them yourself.**

Poor Ryan. I should have waited, because Jon spent the next 30 minutes obsessively working on math problems instead of capitalizing on his limited minutes with his brother. That was an error on my part.

As Jon finished his first clue, I said, “Doh! I should have changed the question to ask ‘Whose number is the largest’ so that the answer had an s on the end.”

Jon shrugged that off. How forgiving he is of these glitches! I appreciated his attitude: why obsess about minor issues when there is more math to be done?

Once he emerged from his hyper focus, I confirmed his decryption. (“Olive(‘s), cheesecake, desk.”)

I had intended to hide olives and cheesecake, Jon’s two favorite foods (the rigatoni is a distant third) on my desk, behind my computer. (Actually, I had briefly considered hiding them in the dryer, but didn’t want to deal with the extra computation. And while “van” was a non-obvious spot and only had three letters, it was also disgusting. Not quite as disgusting as olives, but close.)

After dinner, Jon spent some time talking to Ryan and I put the kids in bed.

The next day, I made the second cheesecake--with a hitch.

I had lied to my husband. Lied. To his face. (I figure there should be a grace period on these things. As long as I ‘fess up within 24 hours, we’re fine, right?)

You see, the “mistake” on problem one wasn’t actually a mistake. I intended the clue to read “olive cheesecake, desk.” I didn’t want to admit that, though, so I tried to confuse the issue, such that Jon would think I had planned to serve him olives and cheesecake separately.

Instead, I served them together.

I was trying to make a point about the nastiness of olives. “If he loves cheesecake and olives so much,” I reasoned, with false sophistry, “Then he should love them both even more if they are put together. Synergy!”

Behold, pictures of my efforts:

When Jon got home, I presented the treat to him.

I hoped that Jon would take a bite and gag in revulsion.

Instead, he spotted the olives in advance. (Ah well. At least this proves dementia hasn't yet set in.)

"Did you think I wouldn't notice?"

And then he ate them anyway!

Olives. And cheesecake. And strawberries! Together.


(No, beloved, you’re not senile. Instead, you’re a sick, sick man.)

I had spent the last 12.43 years believing that I was “the crazy one” in our marriage, but now Jon--calm, steady, sensible Jon—had just exhibited the most behemoth-sized case of "the bonkers” I’d ever observed. He was a batty basket case. And I had never noticed this before???

I fear the shock of this seismic paradigm shift will send ME into a mid-life crisis.

Right. It’s not all about me. Sorry. Focus on Jon, instead.

Dearest, I want to assure you that I still love and respect you. I will devote my energies to helping you find the highest quality of medical care available. I will gladly sacrifice all the money you earn toward your cure.

Or we could compromise: I promise never to make olive cheesecake again, and you promise never to have a midlife crisis. A cheesecake crisis is bad enough. Or, even better: You promise never to eat olive cheesecake again, and I promise never to turn 40.


Solutions to the treasure hunt:

1: Jon’s computer monitor. (“Do you know how many electronic displays we have in this house?” asked Jon, rhetorically, but still got it on the first try.)
2: Search in your room near the door. (It was written in German. Eric spent quite some time with a German/English dictionary. I gave him some grammatical advice, although I fear the cases still aren't quite right.)
3. Storage room. (Jon thought it was the garage, based upon how often I throw things in there when company approacheth.)
4. Silverware
5. Rocking chair
6. The map, once interpreted, placed the treasure (chocolate bars) behind some encyclopedias in the library.

No comments: