Monday, June 05, 2017

Frenzied Computations

One of my favorite 'retirement' pastimes is Lumosity. For a couple of years now, I've been getting their daily workouts, 5 games designed to challenge me in different areas: problem solving, attention, speed, memory and - damn, I forgot the 5th one!
 Rectum! Sorry, wrong movie. That was from Punch Line, where Tom Hanks plays a stand-up comic who, in the opening scene, flunks out of Medical School. His original answer was "poop chute", at which point the examiners pack up and start to leave the room. Hanks then smacks himself in the forehead. I coulda had a V-8!

Flexibility was what I meant to say.  Memory, at least short-term, is not one of my strengths..So yeah, I get a fair-to-middlin' workout every morning with that first(or second)cup o' Joe. Get the old encephalon warmed up for the day. 

Sometimes that does me for the day, but many times I linger and work on one game or another. One I've always loved is Train of Thought, where you have to connect different colored trains with their respective stations. Maddening but fun. I somehow worked through the different levels, 14 in all, until I got to 13. 

Seems like I was locked in that level forever, something like the Bill Murray character in Groundhog Day, having to re-live the same day over and over and over.  Finally made it to 14, and even through 14, and thought there'd be some kind of fanfare after all that Herculean effort. Maybe throw me a parade or something. But they just give you more trains..

In the last week or so, they've added a new game in which I've had much the same fate. It's called Fuse Clues. You're the superintendent of an apartment building that's just lost power, and you have to connect the fuses. There's a series of numbers, with of course about half of them missing, and you have to deduce the remaining numbers. Like the kind of thing you'd see on an IQ test, only with cooler sound-effects.

Some of them are baby-simple and others are hard as hell.  And I've found additionally that they sometimes throw in numbers that almost work in a certain way, to throw you off course. Maybe a bit of sadism or schadenfreude on the part of the game developers, who knows? Wouldn't put it past them..

Well somehow, I've managed to squeak through the different levels- 12 this time- and just as with the trains, spent an eternity on the penultimate level. I'm now on level 12, and getting my arse kicked just as I did on the level before this.  But I'm hanging in there. 

Fuse Clues involves a bit more ciphering than any game I've played on here. There are number sequences you sometimes have to work out on paper(at least this dummy does!). So I'm noticing all this paper with furious numeric scribbles, and I flash back to almost 30 years ago. 1988-89. 

In that period, I was a married guy with kids(her 2, at home with us). My ex worked at a retail facility that had a Lotto machine, and for a time became hooked on 'playing the numbers'. She had all kinds of  schemes going as to what might come through, most or all of them scribbled on little pieces of paper. Quite often, her numbers would almost make it(I'm sure she would love this feature of Fuse Clues!), much to her dismay.

She'd walk around our apartment intoning, 5-1-4, or whatever the almost-numbers were. Her daughter, then about 5, would walk behind her- 514!- just like Mommy. She had no idea what her Mom was talking about, but still had this look of great certainty on her face. That's one thing(of many, of course)that's so cool about kids, their ignorance/wisdom.

I used to refer to all my ex's  scribbles as her "frenzied computations". Always easier to see 'flaws' in someone else(if indeed they are flaws)than in oneself. So, almost 30 years later,  I look around the room here and see a wastebasket stuffed with my own nombres. My own frenzied computations, if you will..

So this recent experience of mine was a sort of portal to a time long past. One of the better moments from that period. There were, of course, many funky moments as well, but I try not to revisit those. I'm thinking of Kurt Vonnegut Jr's planet Tralfamador, where you could "literally" revisit any moment of your life- past, present or future. And naturally, you'd concentrate on the good times and avoid the bad ones. 

I haven't thought about my ex-wife in a long time. Wish her the best, no reason not to. I'm imagining that there's something she's engrossed in, and probably has a notebook or a wastebasket full of some kind of frenzied computations. 5 1 4! 


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