The Importance of Good Rules

Many times, people do not know how to handle a situation. Many times, it is because they do not know the rules or do not have any rules.

I was recently playing a game with a friend of Smash Up by Alderac Entertainment Group. We were having a good time. It is a great game. Unfortunately, we came across a case that we did not know how to handle. The rules did not seem to cover it.

I have since found out that the rules do cover it, but at the time, we did not know how to handle the case, and it was frustrating.

An example in a larger sphere is meetings. Some people do not like meetings, because they do not know how to handle them. The basics of Robert’s Rules of Order are not complicated, nor are a few basic rules of organisation for meetings. If you do not know the rules though, you may have very unproductive meetings. Here are some of the rules for meetings:

A meeting is not for doing things; it is for making decisions and monitoring the results of implementing the decisions. In and of itself, a meeting is of little value.

A meeting must have a purpose. If the purpose of the meeting is to discuss marketing plans, discussing office furniture purchases is off-purpose.

A meeting must have an agenda. Without a plan of what will be discussed, it is all too easy to go off-course and waste time. Attendees should know, in advance, what is going to be discussed, and should have the opportunity to research the issues.

A meeting should have only the attendees required for making the decisions. People who are affected by the decisions can be informed of the decisions after they are made. Concerns that they may have can be addressed through the research the attendees do before the meeting.

Unfortunately, there are some who will try to derail meetings or who look upon them as time off. Therefore, the above and any other rules must be enforced.

You may disagree with some of the details, but can you really see a meeting working without a set of rules?

Good rules are important to getting good results.

Odd Language #175: Taking Over

“The executive officer in his acceleration couch had taken over when Riedel regained full consciousness.” – David Drake, The Miltary Dimension, p. 194

The issue: When Riedel regained consciousness, he found that the executive officer had taken over OR the executive officer took over when when Riedel regained consciousness. Presumably, it was the former, but the latter is also a valid reading.

Puzzle #178: Kittens

Kittens are so darling and so prone to disappearing. You have been busy trying to count them.

You know that four of them have black fur, four have grey fur, and three have white fur. Each kitten is of at least one of the three colours and maybe more.

One kitten is grey and white only.

One kitten is black, grey, and white.

If there is a kitten that is just of one colour, then there are two of them that are just that colour.

There are no kittens that are black and grey only.

How many kittens are there of each colour combination, and how many are there in total?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #176 Solution: Race to the Ice Cream Truck

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

Important Games

I like playing board games. They are a lot of fun. Working out how to use the rules effectively is good, mental exercise.

Not everyone agrees with me. I sometimes run across people who do not particularly care about the rules. A common line from such people to excuse their behaviour is “It’s only a game.”

Try that line on one of their games, and watch the explosion.

Games do have rules. In the interests of peace, if you are playing a game, play by the rules. Do not give someone else a hard time for playing the game correctly. If you really do not want to play the game, then do not play it, but please do not ruin someone else’s game.

Puzzle #177: More Marbles

You have some marbles each of one colour of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

The number of red, yellow, and blue marbles are each even.

There are more red marbles than blue marbles, and there are more blue marbles than violet marbles.

The number of orange, green, and violet marbles are each odd.

The number of orange marbles plus the number of violet marbles is equal to the number of yellow marbles.

There are more marbles that are yellow than of any other colour.

There are at least two but no more than nine marbles of each colour. Each colour has a different number of marbles.

How many marbles are there of each colour?

Submit your answer to Gene Wirchenko <>. Your answer should be in the form of a proof. That means to show how your answer must be correct. The deadline is Wednesday, October 26, 2016 at noon Pacific Time. I will post the answer shortly after.

Puzzle #175 Solution: Fun Names

Spoiler Inside: Solution to Puzzle SelectShow

My Favourite Month of the Year

My favourite month of the year is about to start. October having started, you might think that my favourite month of the year is November.

Actually, it is not.

My favourite month of the year is from about October 11 to November 10.

That is a one-month period.

If you were to ask ten people, “Which month is your favourite?”, all ten would probably give a calendar month answer. Why?

I am rather precise on the days, because the deciduous tree leaves are in full fall colours, and then, they start to fall. By the end of this month, the trees are fairly bare.1 This is not true of the calendar month October, nor is it true of the calendar month of November.

1Well, around here. If anyone from the southern hemisphere is reading this, yes, I know it is spring for you. I am discussing what I see. Do drop (push up?) a line though. I would be delighted to hear that someone Elsewhere follows my blog.2

2My first footnote on this blog.

Odd Language #173: Feeding How?

I ran across an interesting post signature line recently: ‘”We must feed.” actually offering food.’

The issue: Some verbs can be tricky with two senses that could apply: one that is active and one that is passive. The usual sense of “We must feed.” is expressing being hungry, not that one must be a waiter. Another verb like this is “to photograph”. “I do not photograph well.” might mean that I am a camera klutz or that when I am photographed, the picture tends to not come out well.