By Sunday, things were beginning to slow down, though Neil was still disappointed that we’d overslept so he missed the first 20 minutes of Sunday’s talks.
During the first break, we went to the exhibition room, where the artists and puzzlers were taking down their exhibits. I’d admired Jenine Mosley’s clever shapes, made completely out of egg cartons, and told her I was thinking of bringing the idea to Kelly’s home school group as a project. She gave me one of her eggs-o-skeletons to take home as an example I could follow:
Around lunch time, the much-anticipated gift exchange had started, so Neil and I ran up to get in line. For the event, many of the participants bring a gift, such as one they would give to Martin Gardner, for each of the other participants. Neil had made a 9-9-9 puzzle for others, and he was excited to see what he would be getting in return from puzzlers, mathematicians, and magicians. The line took a while to get going, but luckily for Neil, he was in line behind Bram Cohen, who loaned Neil one of his puzzles to work on while they waited:
Neil thinks he had the key to solving one of them, but I’m not so sure, because Cohen said the trick to his puzzles is that they seem to be loose and solvable, especially when they aren’t.
After Neil got his gift exchange bag, we went up to the hotel room so he could play with the gifts, and he was so excited, he didn’t have any lunch. He still wanted to see the talks, and I told him he may not bring his gift bag down to the talks. So in the end, I did find some lunch for him, and I got him to eat it.
All too soon we reached the last lecture, and the puzzlers started to disperse. Dick Esterle invited us (and the rest of our group) to join us at The Varsity, a place with hot dogs and cheeseburgers, perfect for Neil’s kiddie palette, and my desire to keep my own meals on the smaller side. I tried a slaw dog, which was surprisingly good. Esterle solved Neil’s puzzle box in record time, and challenged Neil with another puzzle–to take three straws, set between glasses just far enough so that one straw can’t touch two glasses, and then set those straws up so that you can set a salt shaker on top of them.
Neil or Corey came up with something like this, which is not quite right:
Then Esterle showed Neil the trick. The next day Neil tested Peter with it, and I suspect we’ll see it again. Neil also bought himself another book of optical illusions and puzzles, which he’s been testing us with, but thanks to having learned the puzzlers’ philosophy, I have a better chance of solving them now.