Puzzle Cases

Puzzle Case #1: Downsizing the Alphabet

        The telephone industry has decided to redesign the arrangement of the letters of the alphabet on telephone touch-tone pads. In the new arrangement, one (and only one) letter of the alphabet will be assigned to each of the twelve standard buttons (0-9, *, and #). Your job is to 'downsize' the alphabet to just twelve letters, while trying to maintain maximum intelligibility for words in standard English. Please turn in a list of your twelve remaining letters, and samples of two sentences written in your new 'downsized' alphabet to illustrate its use. One sentence should be a familiar saying of your choice and the other must be the following: "Why did that quick, brownish fox jump over each lazy sheep dog?"

* Responses to Puzzle Case #1

        Your new telephone alphabet has become immensely popular. With the mass-production of mobile cellular-phones that interface with computers, these new telephone touch-pads have essentially replaced conventional typewriter-style keyboards, and the 12-letter alphabet has become the de facto standard for written communication. Congress, after eliminating the Dept. of Education, makes your 12- letter alphabet the official alphabet for the country. What do you see as the advantages of the new alphabet? What are the disadvantages? What changes do you foresee in the future as a result of its wide-spread adoption?

Puzzle Case #2: Thai Cuisine

        You have to cook an authentic Thai dinner. Provide a list of some the ingredients that you would use.

Puzzle Case #3: Balancing Act

        You skipped out of gym class [again] to practice your scales and etudes. Your power-obsessed gym teacher has kept you after school for detention and will only release you if you can make a chair stand upside-down, with only the top-edge of the back of the chair touching the gym floor. It doesn't take you long to realize that this chair cannot balance by itself. You look around the gym to see if there is anything else you could use. There are some more chairs of various sizes; in the corner there is a bin with basketballs; behind the bleachers there are some milk-crates with tennis balls, jump-ropes, and pom-poms; next to the pool entrance is a stack of kick-boards; and against the far wall is a hockey net and some sticks.Puzzle Case #4: "I am Tiger Woods."

        In filling out some applications and surveys (e.g., U.S. Census forms, financial aid applications, and so forth) you are required to indicate your ethnic and/or racial identity by checking the appropriate category:

____ American Indian/Alaskan Native
____ Asian/Pacific Islander
____ Black (not of Hispanic origin)
____ Hispanic
____ White (not of Hispanic origin)

Which category would you check? What if, as NikeTM suggests, 'you are Tiger Woods'? That is, which category would you check if, like Tiger Woods, your father were African-American (with some American Indian heritage), and your mother were Thai. [Remember, you can and must pick only one.]

Puzzle Case #5: ER

        You have been hired as a script-writer for the television drama "ER." How would you prepare for your new job? What creative differences are there between being a script-writer for "ER" and...a playwright?...a novelist?

Follow up:

        After having worked on "ER" for some time, you have been asked to prepare a reference manual for new writers on the show to ensure consistency from episode to episode. What kind of information would you include?


School of Music, Western Michigan University,
Kalamazoo, MI 49008-3831
Revised: 16 September 1997