View Full Version : Has anyone else heard this one

02-14-2009, 05:23 AM
Sometimes, we have that moment of sudden inspiration where we nearly instantaneouly lock onto a key word that leads to a very quick solution of a cryptogram here on this site. Even if we've never seen the quote before, we might be able to solve it under 20 seconds or less. My theory is this: eventually, we will see very few cryptograms with a record solve time over 20 seconds because one of us will have that quick moment of inspiration. If this site continues for many years, one of us will have that quick moment, just by the laws of chance. There's even a wikipedia article that touches upon this.


Here's another point to ponder: we are solving English language cryptograms, therefore, if we solve them with maximum expediency, the greatest number of keystrokes we would make would be 26, the number of characters in the English alphabet.

Here is the quote that led to my first 10-second solution time, back before Steven made the upgrade to automatic letter advancement: "There is no instinct like that of the heart."--Lord Byron. Looking at the quote, it has an economy of characters--only 12. It did not use all 26 characters of the English alphabet. Obviously, quotes which have fewer characters will have an even faster solve time than those which include X, Q and Z, which are on less accessible parts of the keyboard.

I think soon, most cryptograms on this site will have a record solution time of under 20 seconds. Do any cryptedians or cryptediennes beg to differ? Here is your forum.


02-21-2009, 07:44 PM
My theory is this: eventually, we will see very few cryptograms with a solve time under 20 seconds...

Hmmm. What's wrong with the sentence above? I posit this problem may be solved (edited) by its author with the addition of three letters, appropriately placed, so its meaning becomes congruent with the ending paragraph below:

I think soon, most cryptograms on this site will have a record solution time of under 20 seconds.

But, basically, I agree. Given a very large number of solutions for a particular cryptogram... then inevitably we will see outliers on the probability curve, including both lightning quick and exceptionally slow solve times. (Personally I've found myself at both ends.) The more hits on a puzzle, the more often this will happen.

I disagree, however, with the "infinite monkey theorem," so-called, for reasons beyond the scope of my comments here. Those monkeys -- or rather, the ghosts inside a Cray super computer -- could spew random letters from here to eternity and never hit on Hamlet. Shakespeare lies beyond the realm of pure chance.

02-21-2009, 09:56 PM
For those cryptos with a moderate to high success rate, I agree, most will eventually have fastest times under 20 seconds.

There are a few with very low success rate - under 20%, and those may tend to stay up a bit. Even some of the moderate - in the 20% to 40% range may have slightly higher fastest times. In order for the curve to kick in and get fast outliers, you need sufficient number or percent of solutions.

Also, as new puzzles are added, it will take a while for enough people to solve them to get the fastest time down.

02-21-2009, 11:21 PM
Thanks for pointing that out, munchlet. I have since edited my post. Also, in one instance I should have said "over," instead of "under."


02-21-2009, 11:37 PM
Bansai, that picture hurts my brain. ;)

02-22-2009, 12:57 AM
Bansai, that picture hurts my brain.

Sorry about that, kat. Have you considered taking an acetominophen or ibuprofen product?

(This is not spam. I swear!)

02-22-2009, 02:15 AM
Bansai, last time I took a pain reliever containing ibuprofin (about 3 weeks ago) I had an extreme allergic reaction. Whether it was the ibuprofin (which I'd taken before with no adverse results) or stress, or maybe both, I'm not willing to risk it again.
I was unrecognizable. I was covered in hives, my eyes were swollen almost shut and my neck was bigger around than my face. My blood pressure was 179 over 113.:eek: But, after much epinephrine and some xanax (my nerves were shot!) I was back to my normal self in about 36 hours.(The swelling around my eyes lingered for the next day)
So, as cool as that picture is.. well...you get the idea. I'm at a loss for headache remedies now. Acetominophen hurts my stomach. Any suggestions?

02-22-2009, 06:04 AM
kat, I'm so sorry to hear about your ordeal. I'm on blood pressure medication, but my highest readings ever were 142 systolic and 98 diastolic. I can't even imagine 179 over 113. I have no allergies which exclude use of any over the counter pain relievers. However, I had an extreme bleeding ulcer 4 years ago and was hospitalized for three days. I had no idea I was having an ulcer when I was taken to the emergency room. I didn't feel any great discomfort in my stomach, though I did have heartburn a couple days before. I felt warm and feverish and I thought I had Asian flu. When I got to the hospital, I was so dizzy, I couldn't walk more than a few steps without reeling, so naturally they put me on a gurney as I got out of the car. It turned out I wasn't dizzy from fever (in fact my body temperature was 96.2 degrees F at that point), I was dizzy and cold from internal loss of blood. In fact, while I was hospitalized, my hemoglobin count became so low, they were considering a transfusion. And in these times, doctors are very reluctant to give transfusions, given the possibility of tainted blood. If I had been over 55, they said almost surely would have given me a transfusion. Since then, the only over the counter pain relief I can take is acetominophen, as all others, including aspirin and ibuprofen have warnings for people with ulcers and gastric bleeding. If acetominophen upsets your stomach, I would suggest Aleve, which has the active ingredient naproxen sodium. I'm not supposed to take this one either, but once in a while I cheat and take one anyway. At least it's not as harsh as aspirin. It's the 21st Century. I wish someone would develop a dermal aspirin patch, so ulcer patients can take aspirin too.

02-22-2009, 08:09 AM
I agree, they should make a pain reliever that is taken through the skin for people that have problems absorbing it through the stomach. naproxin sodium gives me as much or more pain than acetominophen. I've tried Aleve, and no aleviation. Vicodin helps, but mostly just because of the stress relief. I don't take many drugs.

02-23-2009, 07:57 AM
Any suggestions?
Maybe one or two.

I happen to work at a drug store chain... not however in Rx.

It's fairly amazing, though, how much a registered pharmacist can help you. An R.Ph. will refer you back to an M.D., of course, but they too complete rigorous training to become experts in pharmacology (drug indications, interactions, side effects). Every day our pharmacists dispense ample advice along with the prescriptions they fill.

You need not even purchase a prescription. The pharmacist will advise you re OTC drugs (no need to purchase those, either). Friendly, helpful faces in Rx increase customer satisfaction and sales for the entire store. It's good for business. So. Have you talked with a pharmacist re this problem?

Next would be non-medical alternatives to popping pills. Disclaimer: I adore ibuprofen, taken it daily (200 mg at bedtime) and consider this med a wonder drug if not a panacea. I remember thirty years ago when the stuff was dispensed by script only... those were NOT the good old days (says this creaky old lady). And yes, lucky me, no side effects either.

That said... with alternatives like relaxation training, meditation, biofeedback (using your mind to control your body), people who have enough discipline and determination [which would exclude said lady in dunce cap] report remarkable results with pain control. Plus you save money 'cause you don't gotta buy all them pills!

'Course we drug store employees would prefer you continue with the pills and support our profit margins. But since you have tried them all...

But last (so obvious I forgot)... we do sell analgesics that are absorbed through the skin: Ben Gay, Tiger Balm, creams, patches, ointments... for relief of backache, arthritis, bruises, strains & sprains.

In fact, we sell a lot of these. But none of them (so far as I know) relieve the pain in your brain...

aka an Excedrin Headache.


02-23-2009, 09:00 AM
In order for the curve to kick in and get fast outliers, you need sufficient number or percent of solutions.

Also, as new puzzles are added, it will take a while for enough people to solve them to get the fastest time down.
Agree, Maradnu... and was thinking "Law of Large Numbers," so I google'd that and found this enlightening dissertation:


which reminds me:

a) how totally out of my depth I am on this subject, and

b) how I might more productively fill my free time (so called).

For those so inclined... scroll down to this question:

Are the ‘extreme outliers’ really extreme in fat tailed processes?
And check back with us when:

a) you understand the answer, or

b) you have developed the requisite fat tail.

So much to learn, so little time! :eek:

(I really shoulda saved that dunce cap to my desktop.)

:confused: :confused: :confused:

02-23-2009, 09:24 AM
I have since edited my post. Also, in one instance I should have said "over," instead of "under."

Interesting, Bansai, that you edited your post -- correctly -- but not the way I had in mind. Shows how open-ended the writing process can be.

Do you suppose someone might design a crypto-puzzle with multiple correct responses? Rather than the single, determined, one-correct-response style we tackle here...

Just wonderin'. I think I prefer a single correct answer. :confused:

Also... I read the message on your buses (sneaking in politics here?) but before that, at first glance, I was hearing a song and it went like this:

Over, under, sideways, down,
Backwards, forwards, square and round.

Who else remembers playing that one on the jukebox?


02-26-2009, 06:20 AM
Do you suppose someone might design a crypto-puzzle with multiple correct responses? Rather than the single, determined, one-correct-response style we tackle here...

Munchlet, I'm not sure that's feasible, unless the different possibilities were thought out beforehand. It doesn't seem likely that notable quotables could have the same letter combinations. However, someone did once create a crossword puzzle with two possible solutions for the New York Times. Even then, it was only one line of the 15x15 grid which had 2 different solutions. Read this link for further info:


And I'd like to recommend that everyone here see the film, "Wordplay," the documentary of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, which makes mention of this puzzle. Bob Dole and Bill Clinton both make mention of this particular puzzle in the film.


02-26-2009, 06:37 AM
A multiple-answer crypto would be plausible - a simple (but nonsensical) example, if I didn't screw it up, would be:


... could also end up being solved as ...


I'd be super impressed if anyone made a fair-sized cryptogram (60-70 letters at least) that could be reworked in multiple, sensible, answers - and not in a cheap way, like changing just one word from BAD to SAD, or something like that.

I loved Wordplay - the CLINTON, BOBDOLE puzzle just blew me away!

02-28-2009, 06:49 PM
More often than not...

I do not begin to understand my own posts after I write them!

Life has been... shall we say... stressful. Understatement. One doesn't want to work retail in the present economic situation -- it's bad and getting worse -- so I show up here to let off steam, engage my mind in some neutral fashion. Then back to Life in Hell.

At times Mad Munchlet goes off on a bender (alcohol not required). Off on some tangent or diversion -- diving down an intellectual rabbit hole.

One can only hope that someone somewhere finds these musings and meanderings quasi-informative, diverting or entertaining. Just keep me away from threads where people are having quiet sensible discussions regarding practical matters.

Best regards, Andrea

02-28-2009, 07:16 PM
That's how Bret Fetzer at amazon.com describes the target audience for Wordplay, a documentary for crossword solvers as well as curious observers of said species.

The linguistic ballet of the crossword puzzle and the obsessive minds that wrestle with them are a source of delight in the charming documentary Wordplay.

Thanks, Bansai, for the heads up here. A must see. Long ago, before I started working Sundays, Will Shortz and his weekly puzzlers on NPR's "Weekend Edition" were a Sunday morning highlight.


[Shortz] is the only person in the world to hold a college degree in Enigmatology, the study of puzzles, which he earned from Indiana University in 1974.

Chicago Sun-Times reprints the New York Times crossword (on week days). I can handle Monday's and Tuesday's puzzles... might take a stab at Weds. After that, fuhgeddabout it!

02-28-2009, 08:06 PM
Please note Bansai's link above: a short [fascinating] bio of Will Shortz, NYT crossword puzzle editor.

The double solution for Election Day, 1996, was absolutely awesome. How ingenious. What talent, first to think of the idea and then design a puzzle around it. All my life I've wanted to think that way but to this day remain relentlessly linear in my thought patterns. What a rut. :(


02-28-2009, 08:57 PM
It depends on how much divergence you are looking for. There are puzzles on this site which can have a word or two which could be any one of several words, which make equal sense. This is particularly true where there are words with one or more letters used only once in the puzzle.

03-01-2009, 07:58 AM

Not very educated in these matters, but I just read about a cancer patient that used patches for pain relief.

03-02-2009, 08:41 AM
I've seen such pain relief patches before, too, momof6. I know they exist. There's even a girl who frequents my bar who has any number of maladies who has them prescribed by her doctors. She has dermal patches that slowly medicate her with oxy-contin, among other things. I only wish they had over the counter patches that would allow ulcer sufferers to take aspirin. Maybe one day.


03-02-2009, 09:41 AM
interesting. I have been concerned since the allergic reaction I had due to motrin. Like the feedback. Curious, Bansai, "My bar", hmm... The bar you frequent? And the poor girl who has any number of maladies? Well, curiosity/Kat Go figure. It's late.

03-03-2009, 02:55 AM
...have you tried Tylenol # 1 with codeine...

Actually, poots, I don't have a condition for which a doctor might prescribe codeine (or is that over the counter for Canucks?) And I rarely need an analgesic when I am not under the care of a doctor for a particular malady. What I really miss about aspirin, is that nothing picks one up more and alleviates minor hangover symptoms more than good old acetylsalicylic acid. In addition, it's actually bad for people (especially men), to use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for hangover symptoms.


That's why I want them to develop an over the counter dermal aspirin patch!

03-03-2009, 03:41 AM
"My bar", hmm... The bar you frequent? And the poor girl who has any number of maladies? Well, curiosity/Kat Go figure.

Actually, kat, my bar is a place I frequent. However, at one time this same location was a restaurant where I was employed. Actually, I've worked at three different restaurants over the years, here at this same location. That's how fast restaurants and bars come and go here in my crazy Palm Beach County community. As I've told you in an earlier private message, I spent 23 years in the restaurant/hospitality industry. That's why I've gone completely insane.


As for the girl with any number of maladies?


They no longer serve her. One evening she fell off a bar stool right next to me. Alcohol/Oxy-Contin/Driving don't mix. Am I conceited if I say I think she had a little crush on me? (Why can't I meet a normal girl?)

03-03-2009, 11:46 PM

How long have birth control patches been approved for use (by prescription)? For three weeks female hormones are efficiently absorbed through one's skin directly into the blood stream -- resulting in 60% greater exposure to estrogen (so says Ortho Evra's web page), presumably because the digestive tract has been bypassed.

So I'm wondering why NSAID patches are not available OTC -- and remember that Vioxx (used to treat arthritis) was pulled by Merck in Oct 2004 due to potentially lethal cardiovascular side effects: heart attacks, stroke. Damages from Vioxx-related lawsuits have totaled $4.5 billion... and just last October Pfizer promised $894M for claims against Bextra (Celebrex only, in the same class of Cox-2 inhibitors, remains on the market).

Would that be the reason... you think... that something as simple and effective as a pain patch is still not available OTC? Too risky for big pharma's big pockets...