Friday, April 12, 2013

Survivors (Puzzle No. 3,279)

The late posting of this week's puzzle link is brought to you by colon cancer screening, which the US Preventive Services Task Force and major medical organizations like the American Cancer Society recommends you have when you turn 50 and at regular intervals thereafter.  I've written several reports on the topic over the years (and I'm going to be working on a new report on colorectal cancer staging); now I got to experience it firsthand (well, not exactly hand).  The preparation wasn't fun, but wasn't as bad as I feared.  The procedure itself, as I knew from that earlier research, was pretty easy.  They gave me a sedative, and next thing I knew it was over.  There were two other reasons I made sure to get screened: my mother and Paul Stewart.  Both of them are colon cancer survivors, for which I'm quite thankful.
Photo courtesy NHL Officials Association

Paul Stewart and I have a few things in common (besides the receding hairlines): we're both University of Pennsylvania alumni (and were defensemen there), our sons are the same age, and we both talk to the players a lot on the ice.  If you remember the beer commercial where some NHL officials were miked up: Stewy was in about half of the plays they showed.  I loved the commercial because it showed that the NHL was just like men's league, but with a whole lot more skill.
This month marks 10 years since Stewy's milestone 1,000th game, which in turn was a milestone 5 years following his colon cancer diagnosis and treatment.  My mom had her 5 year milestone last year.  Thanks to the the doctors and other professionals who took care of them, they're both still with us and doing the things they love.

So if you're 50 and you haven't had a colonoscopy or other screening test, ask your doctor about it the next time you see him or her.  I want all of you to enjoy many more years of puzzle solving.

We should have known from last week's edition of Word Salad that some tougher puzzles were on the way.  Hot and Trazom use several of the rule-benders they wrote about in this week's puzzle, and they've already inspired some discussion over at the official site.  I think there's a lesson there.  You can do a by-the-book puzzle that's hard or easy, and the solvers will solve it and thank you.  But the puzzles that are off-kilter get people really thinking.  The challenge is to get them to have more positive thoughts than negative ones.

Link to puzzle

Degree of difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): Hard.  I got the right half before the left half, and it took a little while to get a toehold.  But once you get the 15 down the middle, things will start falling into place.

Hozom's comment:  Hidden Meanings, in which Hot and Trazom explain "sandwich clues" and point us to Peter Biddlecombe's clue contest in the Sunday Times (i.e. London).  

Solution and annotation posted Monday: join us for Sunday brunch in the meantime!

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