Monday, February 13, 2006

I Spy with My Little Eye ... A Bible Brain-Teaser

From H:
A friend sent me this Bible brain-teaser, which apparently has made its way all over the Web.

Can you find thirty (30) books of the Bible in the paragraph below? Actually, there are thirty-one (31) if you can find the variant of one Old Testament prophet.

This is a most remarkable puzzle. It was found by a gentleman in an airplane seat pocket, on a flight from Los Angeles to Honolulu, keeping him occupied for hours. He enjoyed it so much, he passed it on to some friends. One friend from Illinois worked on this while fishing from his john boat. Another friend studied it while playing his banjo. Elaine Taylor, a columnist friend, was so intrigued by it she mentioned it in her weekly newspaper column. Another friend judges the job of solving this puzzle so involving, she brews a cup of tea to help her nerves. There will be some names that are really easy to spot. That's a fact. Some people, however, will soon find themselves in a jam, especially since the book names are not necessarily capitalized. Truthfully, from answers we get, we are forced to admit it usually takes a minister or a scholar to see some of them at the worst. Research has shown that something in our genes is responsible for the difficulty we have in seeing the books in this paragraph. During a recent fund raising event, which featured this puzzle, the Alpha Delta Phi lemonade booth set a new record. The local paper, The Chronicle, surveyed over 200 patrons who reported that this puzzle was one of the most difficult they had ever seen. As Daniel Humana humbly puts it, "The books are all right here in plain view hidden from sight." Those able to find all of them will hear great lamentations from those who have to be shown. One revelation that may help is that books like Timothy and Samuel may occur without their numbers. Also, keep in mind, that punctuation and spaces in the middle are normal. A chipper attitude will help you compete really well against those who claim to know the answers. Remember, there is no need for a mad exodus; there really are 30 books of the Bible lurking somewhere in this paragraph waiting to be found. God Bless.

To ponder:

1) How many did you find on the first read? How did your method change as you progressed?

2) Did you "cheat"? How? Why did you consider it cheating?

3) Did you feel competitive? Whom did you feel you were competing against?

4) How did you attempt to solve this? Did you try to do it really quickly? Were you slow and methodical? Was it more important to get done fast, or to find all the books, or were both about equal priorities? Did you keep track of the books as you found them? When you got stuck, did you go back and review the ones you'd already found?

5) Think about the method you used to solve this puzzle. Is it similar to the way you try to solve daily challenges in your life?

1 comment:

Holly said...

The first time I did a clean read-through. I found 15. Then I used my first "cheat": I went through the books of the Bible (from memory) and did two letter searches. I found another 8, bringing the total to 23.

Then I quit, figuring it would take some work to find the rest.

The following day, I came up with an even better "cheat": I took out all punctuation and spaces, causing all the words to run together. Then (from memory again) I went through the books of the Bible, marking each in red text as I found them. I found 29.

Figuring I must have mispelled one, I pulled up the books up of the Bible in one Window, and checked my answers. I quickly discovered the missed book and--TA DAH--found my 30. Not certain whether I got the correct variant: my guess is "Ames" (Amos).

So, did I feel like I was cheating? Yup, at first I did. In my mind the "honest" way to solve it was through the hard work of a straight read without any aids. But I wanted to complete the brain teaser super fast, thinking I'd impress the friend who sent it to me.

Then today I realized there were no rules assigned to the brain teaser. I brainstormed the fastest and easiest way to solve it, and I was done in minutes.

I think there is merit in hard work, and merit in "smart" work: figuring out the best way to tackle a problem, and thus minimizing the time and effort it takes. I was greatly satisfied with the plan I devised to get through the puzzle in minutes. And I was also greatly satisfied with finding the answers in the first straight read. I don't know which was more satisfying.

Maybe we need them both. It seems many of us do a lot more "smart" work than hard work these days. The things that give me the most pleasure in my life seem to be those I spend the most time on.