Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Daily Office (Sunday Brunch: January 27, 2013)

The daily office is a discipline of prayer and song that is part of many Christian traditions.  Largely associated with the monastic life, but also followed by many priests, the daily office is a prescribed routine of services, each contributing structure to the day with assigned readings, prayers, and antiphons.  The most common parts of the daily office are called matins, lauds, vespers, and compline.  There are also minor hours to the day in some disciplines like terce, sext, and none

Vespers, the service for the end of the day (distinguished from compline, which is evening prayer), is the part most familiar to laypeople, particularly if you’ve been to a jazz vespers, a tradition first established by and for the musicians who were sleeping Sunday morning after playing late Saturday night. It's a more personal form of worship.
Jazz vespers in Ambler, with our friend Justin Sekelewski on bass.  

Justin was one of Sabers' predecessors in the various school orchestras in Glenside. 

Other faiths also have their equivalent to the daily office: the Muslim call to prayer five times daily, the Jewish sacrifice of praise, et cetera.   The kind of routine is something universal: I suspect Buddhist monks have their daily office too.

Almost three years ago, I saw a puzzle called samurai sudoku, published in the Washington Post.  I tried one, got through it, and did a few more while on vacation that summer.  Maybe a year later, with solving regular sudokus no longer feeling like a mental break because they were too short, I got into the habit, a daily office so to speak, of working on a samurai sudoku at the end of the day.  It was a good way to let my brain unwind, and it may have helped me sleep better. 

Well to make sure I wasn’t solving the same puzzle twice, I started printing out each day’s puzzle, and soon made a resolution to solve every one of them, though not necessarily the day they were published.  The puzzles went on a clipboard, and when I finished one, I started the next, sometimes putting one aside to solve against the clock. 

Working the puzzles daily sure improved my sudoku skills, and I started recognizing patterns that would hint at the best strategy for breaking through and “reducing” (a term I borrowed from the matrix algebra I learned in quatum mechanics and since have forgotten) the puzzle into five individual grids with all the overlapping squares filled in. 

This weekend, I closed out the last 2012 samurai sudoku (which actually happens to be the December 23 puzzle), and with it will close out the self-imposed obligation to do every day’s puzzle.  I ended up only doing nine against the clock, with the best being 13:34 on June 6: just 8 ticks off my all-time best.

By October, the samurai sudokus were enough of a routine that I started looking for ways to make them an extra challenge, such as working them without making any notes in the squares.  So that told me it was time for a new daily (or somewhat daily) office, which I’ve already started and will invite you to join me on next week.

Now on to this weekend’s brunch menu:

Fannee Doolee does not like Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, and she didn’t like their Wall Street Journal variety cryptic named “Surprise.”  I’m sorry to say she doesn’t like wordplay or anagrams or containers or charades or puns or double definitions either.  But at least she does like difficult and challenging crosswords.  She is not particularly enamored of Richard Maltby or Kevin Wald: she’s more into Patrick Berry.  She’s certainly opinionated about the constructors at the Nation: she does not care for Joshua Kosman, but she loves Henri Picciotto.  To each her own, and maybe Hex can try and win her heart with a special puzzle next month. 
[update: the solution to that puzzle has been added to the blog]

Hex also have their regular weekly block cryptic at the National Post.  There's a pretty obvious dinosaur theme.  Falcon has the solution (with pictures) and explanations for you. 

The New York Times variety puzzle this weekend (behind the paywall) is an acrostic. Hex comment on it at Wordplay.

1 comment:

  1. hi. just dropped by to appreciate your efforts on sharing such informative blog posts. will be looking for more updates .

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