Logic puzzle fan stories

The Push-up-Pix Millionaire

Monday, October 6, 2003 Phil B.'s puzzle solution

I first discovered picture-forming logic puzzles in Games magazine back in 1996. I was immediately hooked and bought the Paint by Numbers book published by Games. But after I solved all the puzzles in the book, I wanted more. I called the Games magazine office in New York City and spoke with a very nice lady who shared everything she knew about these puzzles, which wasn’t much. She told me she heard they were called Oekaki Logic in Japan. She also told me about a Japanese book store she knew in NYC called Kinokuniya.

I called Kinokuniya and although they barely spoke English, we were able to complete the transaction for a one year subscription to Oekaki Logic magazine. I’ll never forget when that first issue arrived. It was 100% in Japanese and it was packed with puzzles. Little ones, huge ones, easy ones, difficult ones, color ones, it was fantastic. Since that first magazine in 1996, I have ordered many puzzle books and magazines from Kinokuniya and even visited the store in person once.

Thanks to Conceptis Puzzles and the internet, there is now what seems to be a lifetime supply of puzzles available. So getting quality puzzles is now very easy. Before the internet, acquiring the puzzles was as big a part of the hobby as solving them.

A pet peeve about these puzzles

Speaking of solving puzzles, I enjoy a wide variety of puzzles. I like all sizes. Sometimes a challenging 15 x 15 is just as satisfying as a 50 x 50 with a pleasing image as a solution. And sometimes a pleasing 15 x 15 is as satisfying as a challenging 50 x 50. I also enjoy all the different variety puzzles the come around every now and then. I prefer to solve puzzles on paper because I can do it anytime and anywhere. The downside to paper is when I solve difficult puzzles that require “what if” strategy. I do not like the erasing involved to get rid of my temporary markings. But I don’t like sitting in front of the computer to solve them even more.

In my house, these puzzles are referred to as “puzzle book” because that’s the way my son describes what I’m doing while I’m solving puzzles. The phrase is both a noun and a verb. Even if I’m solving a puzzle on a sheet of paper, I’m still doing “puzzle book”.

I do have a pet peeve about these puzzles, other than they take up too much of my time. And it is, what do you call these puzzles? Pic-a-Pix, Paint by Numbers, Nonogram, Griddlers, Oekaki Logic, Puzzle Book, etc. Unfortunately copyright and trademark issues are involved, but it would be nice if there was one generic term we could use, like we do for crossword puzzles. I personally prefer Oekaki Logic because that’s how I referred to them for many years, but I realize that’s not a very practical name to use.

Recently surpassed 200,000

I am married and we have a son. We live in Western New York State. I work as a Systems Administrator for a very large IT company. My company is currently contracted to perform all desktop, server, and networking functions for a large printer company.

So far, I’ll bet my story is familiar to most puzzle lovers out there. But this is where it gets unique. I have another hobby that occupies some more of my time, pushups. I started doing them on New Years day 2000. I’m not doing them for fitness, although that is a fringe benefit. I’m doing them because I decided instead of having a New Years Resolution for 2000, I’d have a New Millennium Resolution. And that is to do One Million Pushups before I die. I recently surpassed 200,000, so I’m more than 20% there. I created a web site at millionpushups.com that I use to keep track of my progress and to tell my pushup story.

Believe it or not, I have combined these two passions and do them at the same time. I sometimes do sets of pushups while solving puzzles. When I’m working on a difficult puzzle, I usually take short breaks to rest my eyes. It’s not uncommon for me to do a few sets of pushups during these breaks. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve been stuck on a puzzle and the next move comes to me right after a pushup break.

I’ve been doing these puzzles for 8 years now and I still always get this anxious feeling to hurry and start the next puzzle. I have my theories of why this is, but I suspect you all know what I mean.

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