Zulagen hurts my brain

Hey kids! Winter break’s over, so here’s a puzzle to thaw out your brain.

You know those mental rotation exercises that are all like this:

Mental rotation exercise puzzle with Beijing's CCTV tower

Well today I give you a violin maker’s variation on that exercise.

I almost broke my brain making zulagens. Zulagens are little helpers that redirect clamping force to where you want for glue-ups. Here, a page out of my notes to explain how it’s used:

0104 zulagen

This zulagen pushes on the ends of the C-bout ribs, and the serrated face reduces slip during clamping. It’s important for the two sides that push the ribs to be squared up nicely. Before you serrate the face, this is what you want:

0104 quiz 1

No light passing through the inside edges of your square.

But this ain’t your regular blocky block! The square reads diagonally across the reference surface (labeled “DOWN”). Sure, you can just flatten your DOWN surface and then square up each angled face individually, but why make it so easy when you can make it WAY HARDER THAN YOU NEED TO?!?!


Turn on your planing brain, it’s time to figure out how to square up the two angled faces with minimal planing.

Based on the light passing under the edge of the square, where should you remove material if you wanna get the job done in one go? Each question has ONE SINGLE ANSWER ONLY!


Let’s do the first one together:

0104 quiz B

The face on the right is fine and good, so the answer has to be A or B. The other answers would affect the squareness of the right face (Remember? Square goes diagonal on reference surface). The left face is reading bigger than 90, so you want to decrease the angle. The right answer is B.

Okay, you’re on your own now. Hover over the image for the answer. Remember, pick only one.


Get warmed up with this one, which is similar to the example.

zulagen mental rotation planing puzzle 1


Now for the good stuff.

0104 quiz 2


0104 quiz 3


0104 quiz 4

So, how’d you do? Comment below if you want to brag (or whimper, or correct me, or point out some technicality that invalidates the whole thing).

And now, circularity for closure.

escher cctv tower


Chinese food scavenger hunt

Alright, people, count up your points.

My oldest sister just got back from her first trip to China. I threw together a food-related scavenger hunt for her, and she brought it back with check marks (and a few corrections and edits by real Chinese people). There are of course many many many things missing, but it’s all that popped in my head in the hour before she left. Also, my handwriting looks worse than a 4-year-old’s.

sichuan dry pot 麻辣香锅

sichuan dry pot mala xiangguo 麻辣香锅

腐竹 tofu skin
海带 seaweed
山药 yam thing that I’d never had before going to China
莲藕 lotus root
chicken wings

skewers 串

skewers chuan'r 串
starring: squid! roaches! silkworms! saury fish!

various fruits 水果

various fruits shuiguo 水果

榴莲 durian菠萝蜜 jackfruit
火龙果 dragonfruit
百香果 passionfruit
金橘 kumquat
杨梅 some kind of berry

various meats / bbq 烧肉

various meats and bbq shaokao 烤肉

Main blundering error here is where I wrote “barbecue hunger” instead of “barbecue goose.”

松树鳜鱼 squirrel fish
红烧肉 red braised pork
澳门烧肉 macau roast pig
烧鹅 bbq goose (… not hunger)
烧鸭 bbq duck

sticky rice in a leaf 糯米鸡 / 荷叶饭

sticky rice in a leaf nuomi ji 糯米鸡 heye fan荷叶饭

and now for some odd pairings:

pineapple bun 菠萝饱 / thousand year egg 皮蛋

pineapple bun boluo bao 菠萝饱 thousand year egg pidan 皮蛋

pumpkin and lily petals 南瓜百合 / yak yogurt (yunnan) 牦牛酸奶

pumpkin and lily petals nangua baihe 南瓜百合 yak yogurt from yunnan maoniu suannai 牦牛酸奶

Yaks have huge nostrils and eyes.

And of course, on a China-related scavenger hunt, this is obligatory:

squatty potty 厕所

squatty potty cesuo 厕所Apparently, Mabel’s most uttered phrase was “厕所在哪儿?” She got so many points from this!!