Cool Christmas Ideas 1: Mind Games

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Christmas has become the time where electronics have dominated our lives, literally. It seems that wherever we go, we always find that nothing works without the use of robots, internet or any sort of technology. Everything is all run electronically and we don’t have to use our brain. Did you know that we use only 30% of our brain on a daily basis, and we don’t know what for, aside from the basic motor skills, the usual routines and the like. The rest of the brain mass left aside is inert, like a vegetative state. With that majority we have our creativity, our logic and the problem-solving skills both on paper as well as in praxis. In other words, we have more convenience than logic

This leads to the question of what gifts are available that will train the person’s logic and challenge them with problem-solving WITHOUT the use of any sort of computer or electronics, whatsoever?

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Enter two woodworkers who have teamed up to create some “hands-on” toys and other games for families to enjoy. The first one is Constantins Rätsel Werkstatt, located in Liel (Schliegen) in Baden-Württemberg. Its founder, Jean-Claude Constantin is a staunch opponent of massive production, internet sales and “big business” and as a result, he has used his expertise in woodworking, combined with the use of Querdenken (logical thinking) and a philosophy of human-to-human interaction to create some unique handmade games and other items which will lead people to spend time to break the codes, unlock the most impossible locks and solve some hard problems.

Joining him in the creation of some unique games is a woodworking firm deep in the heart of the German state of Thuringia called Kokolores Knobelwerkstatt. Founded in 2016, the company has a hand full of workers who have been supported by Constantin in creating some mind-boggling games, following his concept but having a lots of fun doing that and presenting people with a challenge at the Christmas markets.

Currently based at the Christmas markets in Wiesbaden, Mainz and Jena, there is a chance that if the sales are successful that they could expand to add a few Christmas markets, although the principle is to make the presence on a low scale to encourage people to visit their booths. There are enough reasons to do that.

Mazes, games that unlock “secret passages”, boxes with specials keys, locks that take a genius to unlock, and all kind of wild games- all of them have a duo purpose: to reactivate and make use of one’s logical thinking skills while requiring some creative thought and lots of luck, but also to give a person a chance to work with them with a lot of fun and passion for hours on end. All of them are handmade and put together with a lot of thought and passion to it.

I could go on forever talking about them and my experiences, combined with that that my wife and daughter both had, but it would take a couple more pages to write about the highlights. Plus it would spoil the fun for others wishing to find that perfect but challenging gift. Plus apart from what the cashier at the Christmas market in Jena mentioned: “They are really cool activities that you can spend hours of fun with,” it would be nice to allow others to go to the booths and try for themselves. So henceforth, have a look at the pics and if you are in the area of Jena, Mainz or Wiesbaden, go to the booth at their respective Christmas markets and give them a try. You will never go wrong with finding a present that requires the “natural” e-brain of a human to do the work and train it, instead of the plastic and metal version we see every day in front of us on our desks.

You will thank them for it.

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FlFi Christmas 2018

2018 Ammann Awards Ballot

Since midday today, the voting process has started. Several bridges in Germany are in the running. The Ammann Awards voting will end on 8th January 2019 with the winners being announced afterwards. Go out there and vote for your favorite bridge! 🙂

The Bridgehunter's Chronicles

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Finally, after the last minute push for nominations, combined with all the registrations being added, the 2018 Ammann Awards voting Ballot is now here. Between now and 7th January, you have a chance to vote for your favorite bridges in each of the categories below. As in the past, there is no limit in the number of votes you can submit per category. Yet a couple minor items to keep in mind:

  1. In the categories of Best Example of a Restored Historic Bridge, Mystery Bridge  and Best Bridge Photo, only the photos with little information is available. This way, voters can have a look at the photos more carefully before voting. Especially in the Restored Historic Bridge, the voter should have a closer look at what was done with each bridge and decide what was done with it. All the information will be revealed when the winners are announced in January.
  2. Before…

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