9 September 2018

Sunday morning puzzle

Sunday morning puzzle

I was led to this problem by my great friend Karthik’s son – Aadi – who is a whizkid in logic and numbers problems. I need to spend more time with him just to learn about more puzzles.

This problem was published in New York Times as the Tax Man Problem. I have changed the description a little – but the problem is the same.

You and I sit across a table with twelve cards marked 1 thru 12 between us. Following are the rules of the card:

1. You pick a card.
2. I get to pick all the factors of that card that are remaining on the table.

(To explain, if you picked card marked “10” first, I pick up “1”, “2” and “5”. )

3. We continue with this.

(To explain, now if you pick “8”, I pick “4”. Remember “1” and “2” are already gone in the previous move)

4. You CANNOT pick a card if there are no factors of that card left for me to pick.

(To continue with the above example, you cannot pick “11” now, because its only factor “1” is already gone and I am left with nothing to pick)

5. Finally, when you have run out moves (there is no card left for you to pick without violating Rule 4 OR there are no cards left on the table), the game is over.
6. Now we add up our cards.

Whoever has higher total, wins.

To finish off that example:

You: 10
I: 1,2,5
You: 8
I: 4
You: 12
I: 3,6
You: run out of moves (you cannot pick any of the remaining cards – 7,9,11 – since they have no factors left)
I: 7,9,11

Your total: 10 + 8 + 12 = 30
My total: 48 . I WIN!!

Question: What is the highest total you can get and win?

8 September 2018

African capitals

Continuing with the learning of the Dark Continent, managed to nail all the African capitals in two different tests in first chance.

Forget my knowledge in Geography… trying to memorize names everyday for about 20 minutes might be a good way to stave off age-driven memory loss issues.

Also, who knew there are cities called Ougadougou, N’Djamane, Mbabane or Bujumbura? That was a lot of fun!

Ramesh Krishnan, your turn now. (For the rest of the readers, Ramesh beat me on the African country test by almost a whole minute!)

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6 September 2018

Charlie from TVA

It was almost 8 PM by the time I sank into the empty chair in Delta’s Skyclub in Chicago, suitably tired after a whole day’s worth of meetings. My flight kept getting delayed and it was getting increasingly clear that I was not going to reach home before 2 am in the morning. Not having anything better to do, I shut off the laptop, tucked in my papers and pen and grabbed a glass of wine.

Turning towards the elderly gentleman sitting next to me, I asked: “You are headed to Atlanta too?”
He: “Yes, sir! You too, I presume?”
Me: “Indeed. It is going to be fun trying to get back home tonite”
He: “Atlanta is home for you?”
Me: “Yes. You too, I presume?”
He: “Not really. I have to get to Nashville from Atlanta. I am going to miss my flight. Probably will get a flight early in the morning”
Me: “Do you know the Atlanta area? Do you need help with hotels?”
He: “Thank you. My granddaughter has already booked me at a hotel next to the airport”.
Me: “Great! I am Rajib, by the way”.
He: “Charles. That name – you are from India, are you not?
Me: “Indeed! Have you ever visited India?”
He: “Visited? I used to work there.”

That was surprising. I have met elderly Americans who were in India during the world war but not too many who actually worked there.

Me: “You worked there? What were you doing?”
He: “I was in construction that time. We were doing projects for power stations”
Me: “Which parts of India?”
He: “Around the borders of West Bengal and Bihar. I do not remember the exact names but this was all around coal mines there”

That was exciting. I am from that area.

Me: “Asansol. Purulia. Raniganj. Chotta Nagpur. Do any of those names mean anything to you?”
He struggled to remember – “I think they are familiar. Something is coming back to me. We were about four hours of train journey from Calcutta. Calcutta had some great British clubs.”

By this time, I was excited enough to blurt out quickly – “Believe it or not, I am actually from the area where you used to work. A place called Durgapur – which is only a few miles from those places you remember”.

He seemed more surprised than me.

Charles… Nashville… Construction projects… West Bengal… really old person…I kept musing…

“Wait a minute. This was in the 50s. right?”, I asked.
“Yes. Sound about right”
“Were you with Tennessee Valley Authority?”
“That is the only company I have ever worked for. How do you know about that?”

“You are just not going to believe what I am going to tell you now. I actually know you. Or rather, I have heard about you.”
“Really? From who?”
“Do you remember a Rakhahari Ghosh when you worked in India?”
He drew a complete blank.

“You called him RG, I believe. Apparently, you had handpicked him and given him a double promotion”.
“Something seems to come back to me. A thin, short boy, if I remember correctly. He was very hard working. Most hard working of the lot”
“Yeah, that would be a good description.”

He seemed to be somewhat lost in thoughts..

“He left me, I think, after some time”
“Yes, against your wishes, he left the job”
“I think he wanted to join a government job”.
“Yes, again! He took a job with the Indian Railways”.

“So, how do you know him?”
“Rather well. I married his daughter. He is my father-in-law. And he will be thrilled to bits to hear your voice. Do you mind if I call him up right now?”
“Sure. I will be impressed if he remembers me still.”
“He does,” I assured him as I speed-dialed my father-in-law.

Just as he picked up the phone on the other side, the PA system came alive in the Skyclub drowning his voice.

Strangely, instead of the lady coming over the PA system with yet another announcement of delay, it was the sound of a dog growling loudly.

I woke up from my bed, startled.

Sitting up, on the verge of breaking into a sweat, I realized that I was dreaming all this time. I came in very late (actually very early this morning) and had gone off to bed immediately. Even the dog was too asleep to realize it. Now he had figured it out and was on my bed wanting attention.

Half sleepily, as I gave him a belly rub, my thoughts went back to that day in 2014, when my father in law and I were sitting around the kitchen and over a cup of coffee, he told me the story of his first job and how he had always regretted later going for a government job per his parents’ wishes. He wished he had stayed back with Charlie.

Somewhere, in the back of my mind that day, I had made a note… What if I found out Charlie some day? What if I ran into him? How cool would it be to put him and my father-in-law together again? That would just be an incredible chapter in my life.

The chapter in my life, unfortunately will remain incomplete forever.

We lost my father-in-law a few weeks back.

Instead of closing out the chapter, I choose to put a “…to be continued” in the end.

3 September 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Mezcal #2: Del Maguey Vida Mezcal

Region: This Mezcal, like the previous one I had reviewed is also from the Oaxaca state. Specifically in Del Maguey distillery in the village of San Luis Del Rio. This mezcal production was started in this distillery back in 1995 – however, this particular bottle launched about 8 years back.

Agave: This is 100% espadin (specifically anguvstifolia type). This particular espadin matures in 7-8 years – a couple of years earlier than the Sacrificio that I reviewed last time.

Roasting: The “pinas” of the espadin agave are slashed and then roasted in underground pits. Different types of wood is used to burn the fire for 3-8 days.

Smashing: The slushy pinas are then smashed partially by windmills and partially by horses pulling a big stone mill when the wind is not blowing. The fermentation itself takes a week to 10 days.

Distilling: The resulting liquid and some amount of the fiber is then distilled. If you remember, all mezcals have to be distilled twice. Vida mezcal is distilled in copper stills heated by burning wood both the times.

This mezcal is then diluted (for the purpose of exporting – Sazerac imports it into America), to bring the ABV down to 42%

This is my second full bottle of mezcal. This appealed less to me than the previous one. I am still a novice in the mezcal arena. But the earthy tones and the smokey nose was less pronounced. In fairness, this is not reposado and therefore is not aged (traditional mezcal is NOT aged).

Clear in color, the liquid has a earthy nose and to the palate, the typical mezcal smokiness is immediately noticeable. It also has some faint traces of wood and spice. The finish was long (longer than the Sacrificio)

3 September 2018

Brickbats or Bouquets?

After 10 days of frustratingly scrambling thru the refrigerator searching for stuff, I finally gave in today and organized the whole dang thing by categories. While not exactly following a Dewey decimal system, the post-its at least spell out the categories. In the process, I managed to come up with an empty shelf too. I was so pleased with myself that I called Nikita to show off my organization powers.

“Do you like how I have organized everything?”
“You know what she will say, right?”
Somewhat deflated, I asked “You do not know that.”
“I should know, dad”
“Because that is what I do to her when she tries to organize my bedroom”.

Oh! Boy!!

I did not even take a picture of the “before” situation to undo everything!!