In the morning I had to update my spreadsheet where I keep my crossword puzzle results. I created the tenth annual sheet, to receive the 2023 results. The first one was made in 2014. The 2022 numbers are now final.
There’s a fairly clear trend if you ignore the Saturday numbers. The Saturday LA Times puzzle (what the San Jose Mercury prints) is “hard” in that it has jokey clues with puns and obscure allusions. Fridays, the puzzle generally has much longer words or whole phrases, with tangential clues or pop-culture references.
The puzzles for Monday-Thursday are much more predictable. It is interesting how well they are graded to get gradually harder through the week, each day taking 1-3 minutes longer to solve than the one before on average.
What’s significant to me is the steady rise in solving time for Monday-Thursday. These are the days where the puzzle basically tests your ability to recall your vocabulary, to remember instantly that a “church section” is going to be either “nave” or “apse”, “party torch” is a “tiki” and so on for a few thousand typical crossword puzzle words.
For those M-Th puzzles, there is a clear trend of slower recall. For several years I regularly solved the easiest, Monday, in under 7 minutes, now it’s averaging 8. Bye-bye brain.
After doing that I took a walk over to the creek to see if it was still flooding. Not at all. Running strong, but far below its banks. Must have been some kind of trash clog yesterday.
The big event of the day was a pizza party. Edie and Carolyn, our 6th floor organizers, set it up. I got to order the pizza. Which was supposed to come at 5:30 but actually came at 5, which was annoying. But we got the 6 pizzas up and put them in the oven of the range in our dining room and it worked out ok. 16 people had signed up for this. Then two of those opted out, they got invites from their children or something. Yet there were 16 in the dining room at the peak, so I don’t know who came but there was pizza for everybody. Very nice affair. Sixth Floor rules ok.