Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Cow-orkers VIII: Sour Stuff

Germans need lots of "oxygen". They're always complaining, Ich kriege keinen Sauerstoff ("I'm not getting any oxygen"). If only. At the same time they also complain about drafts being terribly unhealthy and even have a special belt for motorcyclists to "protect their kidneys" from all that cold air rushing by. German bikers even wear it in summer.

Twenty below 0°C isn't uncommon in winter here. And yet there are a lot of Germans who will insist on opening the window all the way despite gale force winds, dropping the temperature 30 degrees in as many seconds. Because they "need some oxygen".

Berti is one of these people. Luckily I don't sit anywhere near Berti anymore. He's in a different wing and we're separated by a couple doors.

Unfortunately my neighbour Joe is also one of these people. He gets in around 6:00a.m. and opens Every. Single. Window. We're not talking much these days. He's angry that I come in and close the windows. He then waits for me to go get coffee or a smoke and tilts half of them back open, including the ones right next to me so that I get a nice breeze.

But back to Berti. He has the uncanny ability to ask the stupidest questions and keep carrying on, following up with further questions into the most niggling details no matter how improbable, taking any conversation on so many "But what if?" tangents of impossibility that you've long forgotten what it was you were talking about.

Berti doesn't save this talent just for meetings. One would think, what with Berti being a non-smoking health nut, that I might get away from him by going outside for a nicotine fix, a killer sudoku in hand to pass the time. One would be wrong.

"So what is that?"
"It's a puzzle. All the numbers 1-9 in every row, in every column, and in every box."
He studied it and looked confused so I showed him again.
"Ah okay. But you have a mistake here then," pointing to a couple 3s sitting diagonally from each other.
"No, diagonals have nothing to do with it."
"But they have to."
"No, Berti, they don't. The diagonals have nothing to do with it."
"Look! You can't do diagonals because only the diagonals between the corners have 9 boxes!"
And that's where I should've stopped. But I didn't. I continued, asking him,
"How he hell could you get the numbers 1-9 in this diagonal which only has 5 boxes?"

He's one of those people who doesn't understand the concept of a rhetorical question. Berti took this as in invitation to brainstorm. His grasp of the hypothetical is unparalleled.

He looked at the puzzle again and started making shit up, explaining how you could connect this diagonal with that one and get a total of nine. And therefore the numbers have to fit according to the same rules because they could, since he'd just figured out a way to make diagonals count. Forget the fact that sudoku puzzles have been around for quite some time and the rules have long been agreed upon.

"No! The diagonals have nothing to do with the damned puzzle."
"But they could."
"No, they couldn't. They don't. That's not how the puzzle works," I explained again, stubbing out my cigarette.
"But it would be possible to do it."

I went back inside and he followed me up the stairs continuing his explanation of how it must be possible to follow every potential diagonal wrap-around and ensure they're all unique. I started to take off my jacket as I went to talk to one of his neighbours about a problem but he'd already opened the window again and the temperature was dropping rapidly. I went back to the CubeDesk of Hate only to find Joe was already treating our section to some fresh, -5°C oxygen.

The my-head-shaped-dent in front of my keyboard is getting deep enough to offer some shelter from the wind.

x-posted from HuSi.

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In compliance with $MegaCorp's general policies as well as my desire to
continue living under a roof and not the sky or a bus shelter, I add this:

The views expressed on this blog are my own and
do not necessarily reflect the views of $MegaCorp, even if every
single one of my cow-orkers who has discovered this blog agrees with me
and would also like to see the implementation of Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit.