Monthly Archives: March 2023

What3Words triangle challenge

I have a new game for you. I’ve written about the location app/website What3Words before. If you don’t already know what it is, click on the link or download the app. It’s a way to identify any spot on Earth using only three words.

The challenge is as follows: Find three distinct points using What3Words (W3W) that produce a triangle of minimum perimeter length and that follow these rules:

  1. If point 1 is in the W3W form of A.B.C, point 2 must be in the form B.C.D, i.e. the W3W address must start with the second and third words of the original W3W.
  2. Point 3 must have W3W address C.D.E.
  3. The total distance you re trying to minimize is the straight line distance from Point 1 to Point2 + the distance from Point 2 to Point 3 + the distance from Point 3 to Point 1.
  4. Points may not be duplicated, i.e. all three points are separate.

I chose a random point not too far from my house that had three short words I knew were used by W3W and tried to find the best triangle I could starting with that seed. I found one of 37.327078 miles total. The points are:


See if you can beat that.

Our Ignorant Newsies

I haven’t posted one of these lately. There are so many, it seems pointless, but I enjoyed one my wife brought to me yesterday. A commentator on NPR about something ended her rant with the statement:

“We can’t keep burying our heads in the sand like a flamingo.”

The Other Side of Night by Adam Hamdy

The Other Side of NightThe Other Side of Night by Adam Hamdy
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The blurb from one reviewer said “…like no crime novel I’ve ever read.” That’s true, but that’s not actually praise. A lot of us are fans of conventional crime novels. If you are, you’re likely to be disappointed in this one, as I was. It’s set in England. The main characters are a male physicist, a brilliant child, a woman police detective and a scientist couple. The woman has recently been expelled from the force, but we don’t know the details of why. The woman scientist dies and the now ex-detective suspects she was murdered, even though she had cancer and died in a hospital. Then that woman’s body goes missing. Okay, that’s a pretty good setup. I was interested for the first 60% of the book. But at that point, the deaths (there are more) are explained and the culprit convicted. The case is solved.

Suddenly there is a white page with nothing but “Part 2” in the center. Everything we thought we knew starts to come into doubt. It becomes weirder and departs from the mundane. The characters are scientists, remember. And this is a novel, i.e. fiction. Science and fiction. Enough said. I found the ending imaginative, but unsatisfying. Still, it kept me reading and was entertaining enough to merit three stars.

View all my reviews

Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

Riders of the Purple Sage (Riders of the Purple Sage, #1)Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This laughable fantasy is a cross between a fairy tale and comic book for horny teenage boys of yesteryear. Out on the Utah prairie two broad-shouldered, straight-shooting men separately find beautiful women who are near helpless without them and who give themselves to the men. Either man can single-handedly kill a half dozen attackers and take only flesh wounds in return which they stoically endure. The plot is convoluted and makes little sense. All you need to know is that there are bad guys and good guys clearly identified and killing is the way things get settled. One man finds a hidden Eden where a man and women can live with abundance all around.

The one aspect that I found most interesting is the way Grey portrayed Mormons of the day. It would be politically incorrect today. Mormonism comes across as a violent cult led by lustful hypocritical men. While I’ve known several Mormons that I like and respect, there is some truth to the cultish aspect. My son was cut off from contact with a good friend when he was in elementary school when the friend’s Mormon mother found out we weren’t Christians.

The writing style is hard to describe. It’s an amalgam of rusticity, elegance, and hyperbole. It’s so different from anything else I’ve read that I imagine any other Zane Grey book would be instantly recognizable.

View all my reviews

How to retire, Part 2

See the previous post for suggestions 1 through 4.

5. Learn to do something solitary and fun. This overlaps to some extent with item 1, but not entirely. The reality is that there will be times when you can’t socialize. Your health problems or those of others may be the cause. The Covid pandemic lockdown is a good example. So you need something you can concentrate on and keep you occupied. Even so-called mindless amusements are fine if you enjoy them: jigsaw puzzles, daytime TV, solitaire. But I recommend something new. I’ve learned enough computer programming to have create three games I play against the computer every day and I also solve ciphers that I exchange via email with a distant cipher hobbyist. Other ideas: take an adult education class or learn how to do something new from YouTube videos.

6. Develop a routine. Boredom is the biggest problem for new retirees, and it can be mitigated by developing a regular routine. If you know the next thing you’re going to do, your mind can relax. For me, I take of my morning ablutions, get dressed, take care of the cat, open up the blinds, empty the dishwasher, fix and eat my breakfast, sit with a cup of coffee and watch the morning news or read a book for a while and that takes care of an hour and a half or so. Then I retreat to my office to read the comics online and join in the comments section where I love to swap puns and enjoy those of others. The usual trolling of other social media is mostly absent. People who read funnies, or at least those who comment on them online, are apparently baby boomers like me and there for good humor, not arguing. Then Wordle and a check of my email and  the New York Times newsletter (which usually covers more than the morning TV news) and another hour is past. Then it’s time for a few of my online games.

Four days a week I exercise, either running or going to the gym. Somewhere in there I work on generating my own cipher to solve and send it to my cipher buddy. By the time I’m done with that it’s lunchtime and after lunch I sit with my coffee and read and then work my buddy’s cipher if I haven’t done it in the morning. My afternoons are then mostly free for chores, shopping, reading, online browsing, writing (this blog, for example), etc. but I have two regular luncheons or Zoom meetings each month and get together with my friend every Saturday for geocaching or television. Evenings are spent with my wife watching TV or reading, talking, and, of course, dinner. I could go on, but you get the idea.

7. Do more housework. If you’re married or living with a partner, it’s your turn now. You aren’t working. Your spouse will appreciate it, and, yes, expect it, and it will give you a sense of accomplishment and self value. You’ll find there’s plenty to occupy you if you get bored.

The bottom line: be proactive and create your own retirement plan.

How to retire, Part 1

Many people, men especially, work for decades and then, voluntarily or not, retire without a clear idea of what they will do after retirement. In some cases they have a plan, but find it’s not doable due to financial, medical, or other reasons. I have some suggestions that have worked for me and seem to for others I know.

1. Develop a hobby or pursue one you already have. For many men I know, golf works. It’s not my cup of tea, but it works for many and helps provide some moderate exercise and socializing. For me I found several that have kept my interest: geocaching, cryptography, guitar, writing, reading. My interest in geocaching has waned somewhat, but I still go out regularly with a buddy. I can no longer play guitar due to arthritis in my hands, and that’s a big hole, so develop more than one hobby if you can.

2. Join a group. You will find that the friends you socialized with when working will tend to drift away. They or you may move to be near kids or grandkids. Some who are still working aren’t available at the times you want to do activities. There are usually community groups for retirees or ones that share your interests. For me, I found Sons in Retirement (SIRs), but for you it may be Elks, Kiwanis, or some charitable organization. Volunteering works for many and I spent several years at some activities, but they don’t all work. I wanted to socialize and that’s not always easy. Recording books for the blind was tedious and solitary, so I quit that. I ended up serving on a civil grand jury, which was a living hell. What worked for me was using my legal skills serving as a judge pro tem with the county, helping parties try to settle cases before going to trial. I enjoyed that for five or six years, but eventually I got tired of the commute downtown and the suits and ties.

3. Exercise. You may be able to combine that with item 1 or 2, but don’t become too sedentary. Maintaining your fitness and health is a huge factor in being able to enjoy your retirement. I still run 5+ miles twice a week in my mid 70s , but I’ve always been a runner. You should do whatever fits your fitness level and preferences, but do something.

4. Make new friends, especially at least one close friend. Group socializing is great, but you need someone to whom you can tell your health problems, complain about your spouse, brag about your grandchild’s latest accomplishment, or just go to lunch. When I first retired, my closest friend was still working and when he retired he moved out of state. I signed up for and joined several guitar/folk music groups. None were well-organized and after a few months of meetings, they all petered out, but at the time I joined one group, I noticed another guy, a recent retiree, who lived near me who had just joined. He mentioned that he had uploaded some videos to YouTube, so I searched his named and found them. He played very well, and liked the same style of stuff I did. So I contacted him and suggested we get together one-on-one to share stuff. He agreed and we’ve since become best friends. I got him into geocaching, too. Twelve years later we still get together every week, alternating between geocaching and TV shows that our wives don’t like. He still plays guitar, but I can’t now.

I also helped form a book club within the SIRs branch. The intimacy of a small group is very different from the big luncheons with a speaker. We meet monthly, mostly via Zoom now, and several of those members are now good friends. Note that in both cases I took the initiative. You can’t sit around waiting for someone to invite you, although that’s great when it happens. You need to proactively seek new friends. Pick up that phone or send that email.

That’s it for now. Tomorrow I’ll give you more suggestions from my own life experience.