Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The unwinnable game?

Greeted Friday morning by the realization that it had been a year since the passing of Michael Jackson, I was taken aback. A whole year? It felt like four months, maybe. Rarely had time ever felt so fast. And lately it always feels fast. But this was light speed.

I realized I am basically in exactly the same place in life that I was a year ago. A year older, yes. Generally happier now that Bama has won the national championship. But other than that, nothing has changed.

I began to ponder my life -- perhaps life is too strong a word there -- existence. What was I doing? Where was I going? What were my goals? Would I leave my mark upon this world? Or was my life like a Windows screen saver -- briefly entertaining, but at the slightest movement of the mouse of death, gone without a trace?

As I went to take out the trash that evening, I passed a lone fisherman, casting and reeling in his line in the middle of the parking lot. Now there's a guy who knows what he's doing with his life, I thought. Clearly, this individual had chosen the Bill Dance path to fame and fortune.

I began to think of my heroes -- Jason Morgan, Michael Scott, Sam from Cheers. And... that really didn't help a whole lot. So I thought of the most successful person I know, Orville Redenbacher. Still nothing.

It was at that moment that I recalled a little something from my youth known as Guinness. As in, the book of world records. Of course! The easiest way for a man (woman, or other) to leave their mark upon the Earth is to set a record! Thank goodness I thought of it, as my other best idea was to father twenty children to get my own reality show.

The only question now was which record to set. I delved further into my screen saver analogy... screen saver, Windows, Microsoft, Bill Gates. At the same time, the mortal words of Jim Halpert appeared in my head: "Those mines aren't gonna sweep themselves." Ah, yes! Windows games.

But which one? Well, that was easy: FreeCell. It's more fun than Solitaire, less confusing than Hearts, and I was never that great at Minesweeper anyway.

Of course, one doesn't undertake such an undertaking without first doing the proper research. While searching for what the actual record for consecutive games of FreeCell won was, I came upon an online FreeCell community, which I promptly joined. There, I will be able to play online from any computer and as my consecutive games streak grows (ideally), I'll be able to see where it ranks amongst the greatest streaks of all-time. Best of all, this will allow my public -- that's you -- to follow along with my progress if you wish.

The site also keeps up with your total hours playing FreeCell. Now that, I don't care for. That'd be like my TV flashing, "Bone, you have now spent 31,000 hours of your life watching ESPN. That is the equivalent of 3.5 years." There are some things I choose not to know.

Here's another interesting tidbit that I discovered: Did you know there is one deal of FreeCell that is impossible to win? Yes. Game #11982 in the Windows version is the unwinnable game. You'll learn as you become more familiar with the FreeCell cult, er, community, that those numbers are sacred and we all have proper reverence for game #11982.

So then, it is entirely possible that after weeks and months and hundreds of hours, I could be on the cusp of breaking the consecutive games record and be dealt the unwinnable game.

Still, I refuse to let that thought deter me. Lack of patience, time, skill, perseverance, those might all deter me. But the possibility of facing the unwinnable game shall not. For I am not doing this just for myself, but for the children I've yet to bear. I want one day for them to be able to log onto freecell.net and say to their friends, "That Bone in the number one position, who spent several thousand hours on this website, and now has severe carpal tunnel syndrome, that's our dad."

Besides, great accomplishments are rarely easy. Do you think the Wright Brothers never had any setbacks, doubts, or arguments? Sure they did. Orville would say, "Why do I always have to be the one risking life and limb and doing the test flights?" And Wilbur would respond, "Because somebody's gotta be on the ground working the stopwatch." (Source: Bone's Revisionist History Of Aviation, Vol. 2. Also, Propellers To Popcorn: Bone's Book Of Famous Orville's.)

And so, for my next trick, I will now attempt to set the world record for the most consecutive games of FreeCell won.

If you're interested, the current record is 19,793. My high so far is 10.

What? I only started yesterday.

"Countin' flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all. Playin' solitaire 'til dawn with a deck of fifty-one..."


  1. Thanks for making me laugh.
    Pondering our lives--you have one--seems to be a theme :)
    You tied in many thoughts first seemingly randomly then a pattern, uh free cell, emerged

  2. Call the History Channel, I think you've got the makings of a fine documentary with Propellers to Popcorn.

  3. Is Boggle too good for you now? :)

  4. There are some things I choose not to know.

    Reminds me of the following saying, "Ignorance is bliss."

  5. Bone- Watch out I am a Freecell Freak! Game #4000, #23184, #28431, #11483, #19832... challenging... why oh why do have these refence #s???? Well, the dork that i am - i wrote them down because i found them challenging (or i might have had to go do some work or something distracting) and I wrote them down because I do believe that you speak truth that there is only ONE game that can not be won... so I am getting carpal tunel to prove i can win...
    I'm sure my boss is tracking my progress, so I don't know if I will join the freecell addict, but this is appealing... FREECELL ANON- "I play freecell, and I can't stop" - Daily Panic

  6. Obviously, a way to make your mark on the world is to spend 1,000, no 100,000 hours playing Freecell. I wish you all luck!
    Thanks for making me laugh today.

  7. You keep this up and they'll be giving you a padded cell! Too funny...

  8. I don't think you need to be worrying about future children if you're spending all your time playing FreeCell ;)

    The line about Aviation history is one of your best ever. Well, hilarious ever :). Loved it.

  9. Pia - Thanks for letting me know I made you laugh :)

    And if the post unfolded like a tense game of FreeCell, well that was entirely intentional... by my subconscious, I'm sure.

    Renee - Can I borrow that for the title of my autobiography?

    Susan - Thanks. I was pretty proud of that one.

    Small Town Girl - Well, I wasn't sure how you'd set a record in that. Maybe playing for the most hours non-stop? But yes, I can rarely win online Boggle. Especially when they have some people playing teams. I'm only one man! And only a decent typist :)

    Ed - Yeah, six of one...

    Daily Panic - Ooo, keeping track of the games you haven't solved, I love it! lol You HAVE to join freecell.net!

    I forgot to mention their slogan: "Draining workplace productivity since 1996." Feels like home to me.

    OKChick - I appreciate your support. As for making you laugh, you're most welcome.

    Sage - Yeah, I can see that. From FreeCell To A Padded Cell: The Story Of Bone.

    TC - Hmm, I suppose that could pose a bit of a quandary.

    Thanks. Haha, yes, it's good to make the distinction between best and hilarious there.

  10. You know, even after you first mentioned Free Cell, I was still convinced you were going to talk about the epic tennis match! Now that would be a hard record to break.

  11. Ha! This is great, Bone. And I love the ear worm, thankyouverymuch.

    And I think Susan's got a good idea. With your writing skills, you could make this journey into a very humorous book or doc.

  12. How many hours are there in a lifetime again?

    You do make me smile Bone.

  13. naturally, I've been trying to beat game #11982 since I read this. No shame. Had to take a break from reading to attempt it twice.

    Have decided that my mark on history will be to beat this game.
    Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  14. J Adamthwaite - Well, if it's any consolation, when they were posing by the scoreboard following that match, I had the thought that I wish I could get someone to Photoshop me in place of Isner.

    Actonbell - You're welcome very much. It's really too bad for me that Ear Worm Implanter is not a profession.

    Coooper - Not sure. Though I did calculate at an average of 3 minutes per game, it would take roughly 990 hours to break the record. Or a smidge over 41 days.

    So, not too bad.

    Cami - Love it! Yeah, I had to go and try like five times myself.

    May the force be with you, young Camillia.

  15. Bone, you are an inspiration. You have set the bar high...*lol* (I'm leaving your blog with a big smile on my face, as always) :~)

  16. Wow!! You really had me going there I thought we were headed for a deep conversation. You were moving or something and then you hit me with Freecell. Great job.

  17. I miss being here more often. You, my Bone, are hilarious.

    I wish you well. You always whooped me at Dominoes. I have high hopes that you will top 20k wins before too long.

    Though. If you spend too much time on freecell, when will you have time to procreate? Just sayin'.

  18. I am honored to be amongst your public!

  19. I am trying to spend a lot less time online- it is starting to frighten me how much time I spent playing Bejeweled Blitz and what not.

    Besides the MJ/Farrah time warp which I felt myself as only a few months... I feel a sort of urgency since last week. My oldest son enlisted in the Marines in the delayed entry program. His ship date is next June 20, 2011. I don't want it to fly by like the last year.

    Love how you finished with the Statler Brothers... my dad used to sing that song a lot!

  20. Don't want to make you jealous...but my current winning streak on Freecell is 24.

    I don't want to know how much time I spend on that game.

  21. I haven't had any luck with #2860. Give it a whirl

  22. Total Games: 5439
    Games Won: 5416
    Win Percentage 99%
    Longest Winning Streak: 722
    Longest Losing Streak: 2
    Current Streak: 722

  23. ive won 3276 games with no loss of game yet,time togive it a rest I think. W.L.

    1. i just hit 1400 games with no loses. will keeping playing 5 games a day until i reach 100,000. i took a pic also. ace