How to Entertain an Engineer

Mr. Bernie is an Engineer with a Master’s degree. He enjoys brain puzzles, math, and physics – None of which I give a fig about. That is what make our marriage so great. It’s really quite hard to get something over on the man. Math games, bring them up. Sudoku, piece of cake. It seems that I have my own branch of Mensa in my house.

My folks like to find puzzles and give them to him. The latest one they sent him is a doozy. It only had nine pieces. Mr. Bernie looked at it and snorted. He thought he could finish that in no time flat. Nine pieces; four orientations each, nine places to put them. That looked easy enough. My mom called to tell us that her nephew in-law, the architect, got it put together in no time flat. J. is also a very bright man. Mr. Bernie figured that he should get it done in about the same amount of time. Turns out they were teasing, J. didn’t finish it.

My Dad was so tickled to stump Mr. Bernie that he had to call and tease him. My Dad wouldn’t call someone, other than my brother, unless his hair was on fire. For Dad to call shows that he was pretty pleased by this whole chain of events.  Dad loves to tease and this was right up his alley. Mr. Bernie told my Dad that he was close to solving it and would have it done after dinner. My Dad just chuckled.

Nine assorted pieces like this one.


We dumped the puzzle out and stared at it for a bit. We moved the pieces in the places and thought, this should be easy. Um, ya, not so much. After about an hour of moving the same pieces around, Mr. Bernie had an idea. He said to me, “I’m doing the same thing everyone else is doing and getting the same results. I think I will turn this whole thing into a spread sheet and solve it mathematically. If I had a compiler, it would go even quicker.”   I don’t know about you, but a spreadsheet is usually not my “go to” answer for picture puzzles. Heck, he lost me after spread sheet. Much less a compiler. He then proceeded to make a box with nine squares. Then in each square he noted characteristics of each piece. He saw that each side was a tail or a head and was of only one cat breed. He mumbled something about a system of simultaneous equations, or something like that, and into  the office/craft room he went. He was in there for about an hour. Finally, he had enough and said he would finish the next day. (I was glad as I had Hoarders on the DVR and wanted to watch it.)


a spreadsheet for the puzzle - he says that it isn't pretty, but does the trick.

His lovely spreadsheet - Open Office Style

On Thursday night we were back at it. Mr. Bernie reminded me that the orange cat should be towards the edges because we had way more heads that tails for him. Counting how many heads for how many tails? I won’t bore you with all the details. He got disgusted and went back into the office/craft room. After about a half hour he came out grinning. “I solved it Bernadette!” He proceeded to tell me the order of the pieces. I got six laid the way he said and we hit a road block. He scratched his head and frowned. “I must have written down something wrong. I need to count heads and tails again. These two pieces don’t match what I have programmed.”  Back to the computer he went. After about 20 minutes he was back with the solution.

I had to call the folks and let them know it was solved. They were pretty impressed. Then I mentioned the spreadsheet and that took the wind out of their sails. They were glad to know it was solvable as my Dad, Mom, cousin, her kids and her hubby J. had not solved it.  I promised to post a picture on the blog to show them all that it can be done.

Ms. Scoobie was glad it was done. She kept getting scolded for walking on it.

There you have it. This deceptively challenging nine piece cat puzzle is solved. It has a unique solution, so look carefully.

Today I’m the Friday Feature at Chicken Noodle Gravy!!  How cool is that? I’m very honored. Katie is one of the blogs I read daily. Be sure to pop by today and say, “Hello!”

If you scroll down to the post after this, you will find my Friday Fill-in from Feeling Beachy.

It’s a busy Friday! I hope you all have a wonderful day!!

For The Love of Blogs Never Growing Old


  1. Jeez…he sounds so much like my husband it isn't funny. Jeremy would have done the SAME DAMN THING. The spreadsheet and all. I get so exasperated sometimes with him doing these same kind of things, but like you and Mr. Bernie, our differences work for me and Jeremy. I have a feeling I'm going to have to find this puzzle for Jeremy after I get him to read this post when he gets home.

    • Oh, I will send you an email to the puzzle maker's name. You can find them online. Its so worth it. *lol*

  2. Glad to see he didn;t give up. Congratulations are in order.

  3. WHAT THE HECK WAS THAT ALL ABOUT???? You totally lost me there… puzzle and cats, and spreadsheets, and mathematical whaaat?

    hahahaha but oh Bernie, your mister is definitely one of a kind!!! And now I know what to give him for his birthday present (huahahahahaha *evil laugh**)

  4. I love those puzzles!!! I've never done the cat one, though. We've got a penguin one, and a bear one, and a flowers one. I've done others, too. They had a few at our favorite coffee shop where we used to live. We'd spend Saturday mornings with a cuppa chai, a big-ass burrito, and one of the puzzles! :-)

    Never used a spreadsheet, though… That sounds like something my dad would do. He did one for his Sudoku games. Crazy engineers!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I can’t believe he used a computer and spreadsheet to solve a puzzle! That is hysterical!! Alpha Hubby is also an Engineer but I’m not sure he would have thought to do that (then again, he’s electrical so he probably would have just torched the whole thing after awhile!). This was a great post!

    • When I told Mr. Bernie what you said about your Engineer he laughed. Thank you it was a fun post to do.

  6. Haha, that is awesome. Of course he would go and get a spreadsheet to help him! I have to admit, I love puzzles and brain teasers like this. They are fun to me at least :)

  7. I think Mr B should hang out with my mother and my daughter.

    Strange, strange people all three…….

  8. Love your blog!
    Hiya! Newest follower from Follow Friday Over 40 Hop– please stop by and say hello! Would love if ya followed back!
    The Purple Goddess

  9. I have seen those puzzles for sale before and never got one because really, how hard could a 9 piece puzzle be? Well, now I guess I have my answer and it makes me glad I didn’t get one for a whole other reason!! :)

  10. Bernie, it makes my head hurt just READING about his spreadsheet. I can’t even fathom being able to actually put such a thing together…the spreadsheet, that is. Not the puzzle. I can fathom the puzzle (although I probably couldn’t DO the puzzle). Happy Friday!

  11. I am scared, really scared. My 17-year-old son sounds kind of like Mr. Bernie. A math whiz. Puzzle solver. Should I be scared? Or happy? Or?

    Glad the Mr. finally solved the cat puzzle.

    • I know that Mr. Bernie read a lot of books on relationships as he got older. He had to think outside his math world when it came to dating. If your son is like this, he is destined for great things. As long as he has the social life to go with it. :)

  12. Those puzzles always drive me crazy! I love them!

    I'm new to your blog! I found you through FTLOB and can't wait to read more! Feel free to check out my blog as well!

    Simply Kate

  13. following from 40+ blog hop, liked your blog.

  14. OMG.. I love that he wanted to create a spreadsheet!

  15. Hellooooo there! I'm visiting from Chicken Noodle Gravy – I'm your newest follower! Happy Easter Weekend!

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