A couple of days ago I received a small envelope in the mail with unusual handwriting and no return address. Intrigued, I opened it and found the following note cards. Top note card was on the top of stack, left image is the front and right image is the back of each card. Click for larger images.
I think the initial reaction of most normal people would be, "What the hell, what insane serial killer sent me this?!" (okay, maybe not totally normal people). My first thought, on the other hand, was "Mike's Birthday Puzzle." I checked the stamp on the letter, and yep - from the town of his university. Nice try concealing your handwriting, but foiled by the United States Postal Service!
Mike is one of my best friends, and in addition to being hilarious and a brilliant mathematician, he's also a Puzzle Master. I think he's deserving of this title since he's full of trivia (go on Jeopardy already, Mike!), always carrying around puzzle magazines, and has created unique puzzles that have been printed in said magazines multiple times. During our sophomore year of high school, Mike decided (maybe out of boredom) to create a puzzle filled treasure hunt that would lead to my birthday gift. I would have to figure out one clue to find out where the next one was hidden - usually somewhere in one of our classrooms - until it led me to my present. It was so fun, for both him and me, that it started a tradition. Every October since then I start getting puzzles, so by the time November 2nd rolls around, I'll have found my gift.
See, the part that I didn't mention is that Mike is way, way smarter than me. And while his puzzles seem to get better and better, I seem to get stupider and stupider. I generally have to resort to outside help and many hints, and I think he takes special glee in the fact that Mike's Birthday Puzzle is infamous enough to deserve capitalization and a certain amount of fear. But I have the upper hand this year, Mike! I have a blog! So fair readers, I present you with the first clue of many in the puzzle - the note cards - and I will update you with whatever other information I receive.
That being said, I have no idea what those note cards mean. I wouldn't put it past him if the whole thing is a red herring just to make me go mad. So if I have to go mad, you're going down with me.