Archive for October, 2011

Lost Gem of Pain

Shervmack Himels (AKA Detective AK-47 code 5) finally had a day off of vigorous crime solving. Little did he know that this “day off” wouldn’t be that much of a day off. He had called to invite three of his friends over and was currently brewing coffee when the doorbell rang. He hurriedly went to open the door to usher his friends in, momentarily forgetting about the coffee he was making. After a short while of conversing, Shervmack remembered the drinks and left to bring four cups of freshly brewed coffee into the living room. One cup was set down on the table in front of each of the visitors who sat on couches. The last cup was for himself. A full pot of steaming hot coffee was placed in the table center. Currently, they were talking about the subject of gems.

“Do any of you know what p-painite is?” Adam Hilder said quietly, shifting around on the couch. He was a rock collector and an expert on the subject.

“Yes,” Alberta Enstince acknowledged. “Wasn’t it discovered by Arthur C.D. Pain?”

“What’s that?” Beric Obarnum asked while setting down the cup of coffee he was sipping from.

“Exactly, you don’t know w-what it is because painite is a very, very rare gemstone discovered in the 1950’s. Its color is usually r-red,” Adam explained.

Beric was looking around the room, appearing to be searching for something when he angled his head to face Adam, “Hmm? Oh, so that’s what it is.”

Detective Shervmack chimed in, “And they’re expensive. Well, not to a millionaire like in one of the cases of mine. A wealthy millionaire had died and they couldn’t solve the crime and so they hired me. With my crime-solving skills, I was able to identify the murderer. I was overexcited when the millionaire’s will was read shortly afterwards. He had left his rare rock collection to the one who solved his murder. Apparently, he was still alive for a short time after he was shot and during that time, he called his lawyer to put that last-moment note into his will.

“I inherited the rock collection and, after looking through the rocks, I discovered one of the rocks was painite. Having researched about each rock, I knew how rare it was. Most of the other rocks I donated to a museum but some I kept. On the other hand, would you like to see it?”

“Wow! That’s quite a mouthful to consume at once,” said Beric, who probably hadn’t been listening. He picked up his cup to find it empty. Disappointed, he reached for the pot to refill his cup. “Now what did you say?” He definitely was not listening.

“Yes, I would like to see it!” Adam shouted eagerly as he jumped up to his feet and bumped the table. He winced when the detective’s cup of coffee spilled over the table. “S-sorry about th-that,” he stammered, unsure of what to do.

“Nah, don’t worry about it,” the detective said, waving his hand. Quickly, he grabbed a rag from the kitchen to soak up the brown liquid.

After the incident, the detective beckoned for his friends to follow him. They entered a door upstairs that led to his bedroom. A window was opened and a strong gust of wind blew inside. From under the bed, Detective Shervmack pulled out three suitcases. He reached for the one on the right and opened it, never having to unlock the case. It was filled with a variety of assorted items. After rummaging through the case for a while, the detective finally pulled out a small, red gem in anticipation. “Ah, here it is,” he said, holding the priceless object up to the light so as to get a better view. Shervmack handed the gem to Adam.

Inspecting it, he said, “This is the r-real deal alright.” Then he passed it toAlberta.

“Wow!” she exclaimed, cherishing the quality of the rock. “There are so few in the world and you have one of them? That’s amazing.” She gave the rock to Beric, whose mind had obviously been wandering off. As he held it, his face showed confusion. But then he recognized the gem for what it was.

“Man, this is huge!” he said with his eyes wide open. Then added, “Well, only if it really is that rare. You should sell it and get rich!”

“I don’t want to sell it though,” the detective replied, kindly accepting the rock back from Beric’s outstretched hand. “It’s important to me.”

“Ugh, my hair is messed up. Shut the window,”Albertasaid with annoyance. She patted her now wild hair. “May I be excused to the bathroom?” The detective nodded and she excused herself with a hairbrush in hand.

Shervmack placed the gem away into the box to the left. Then Adam realized, “Those suitcases are unlocked. You know how easy it w-would be to get in and steal the painite rock?”

Beric had walked over to a table next to the door and connected some earphones he found lying around to his iPod touch. He heard only part of the detective’s reply: “Well, I never put it back in the same box aft–” Then Beric put on the earphones to listen to some music as the detective watched his back. As he continued to talk, Shervmack put the cases back under the bed in an alternate order with only the box to the right in the same place.

Albertawas walking back to the bedroom from her trip to the bathroom. She heard the detective talking to Adam as she entered the room and stood next to them.

“I tend not to put the gem back in the center as most people would open it first,” the detective said. Shervmack was facingAlbertaas the wind blew at her hair again.

“Didn’t I tell you to shut the window?” she retorted. “Now my hair is going to be messed up again!” She was trying to keep her hair from blowing around in the wind.

“Oh! Sorry,” the detective apologized. He promptly shut the open glass window and locked it.

Beric pulled the earphones out of his ears and placed them back on the table to rejoin the group, though he seemed more asleep than listening as he lied down on the bed. After some more discussion about the gem, they exited the bedroom to return to the living room. A few hours later, his guests left. The detective was by himself in his home again.

Detective Shervmack decided to retire to his bed and read a good mystery book. He walked upstairs and entered his bedroom. Suddenly, he froze. On the ground in front of his bed, two suitcases were opened. “No!” he shouted as he stumbled over to the suitcases. Searching again and again, he could not find the gem. Thinking back, he remembered all three guests going elsewhere at some point in time. They had all been gone long enough to search through the suitcases and steal the gem. Then a light bulb went off, he knew who did it. “Why would my friend steal from me?” he wondered.

Who stole the painite gem?

What clue(s) gave him or her away?

Solution

The following day, Detective Shervmack drove his energy efficient Chevy Volt to Beric Obarnum’s home. He knocked on the door and Beric answered. Happily, he said, “Hi there, old pal!”

The detective’s face did not respond with happiness. He looked at Beric sternly in the eye. “Why did you steal it yesterday?”

“Wh-what do you mean?” Beric asked, faking a confused look and tone.

“You know what I mean.”

Beric let out a breath. “Okay, so you figured out I stole the gem. I was testing your skills so I left the cases open on purpose, just in case you’re wondering. How did you find out?” he asked, pulling the small, red gem out from his pocket and handing it carefully to Shervmack.

“Good,” the detective said, giving a relieved sigh. He still had some suspicions. “How I figured it out, eh? Well, if I recall correctly, two suitcases were opened when I came back to my bedroom. When you were distracted with the earphones with your back facing me, I had put the cases back with the left and the center ones switched.”

“I didn’t see that.”

“Yes, but Adam and I did, ask him yourself. Going on, you also heard me say I never put the gem back in the same place I take it out.”

“Correct,” Beric agreed. “Go on.”

Detective Shervmack continued, “So, you saw me put the gem into the case to the left. You decided to open that one first, but you didn’t find the gem because I switched the cases. Then, knowing that I don’t put the gem into the same case I took it out of, or the one on the right, you opened the box in the middle to find the gem. In total, you opened two cases so you were the one who stole it.”

“Yes,” he said, surprised. “That is exactly what happened. But the thing is, what about Adam andAlberta? They were possibilities too, weren’t they?”

“They certainly were possibilities and I thought about them too,” the detective said, preparing to give his explanation. “IfAlbertawere to have stolen the painite, there would have been three suitcases opened. She did not see me put the cases back in switched order so that the gem was in the center. Also, she had heard us talking about not putting the gem in the center, so she would not have opened the center box first.”

Beric cut him off, “I didn’t see or hear that.”

“Again, ask Adam or Alberta. It did happen. Continuing, she would have opened the box to the right because she saw that I had taken the gem out from there and because she didn’t hear me say that I never put the gem back in the same place. Then she would open the box to the left, as she would think that the gem wouldn’t be in the center case. Finally, she would open the center for a total of three boxes. Adam, of course, would have opened only one as he saw everything.”

Beric clapped his hands to compliment him. “Wow! Incredible! You’re a genius!”

Detective Shervmack Himels grinned and bowed just for fun. With his head near the ground, he said, “Thank you, thank you.” Then he stood back up and added, “Just don’t test me again.”

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The Doom Machine Review

Last year, during ELA (English Language Arts) in 6th grade, I wrote a book review for homework. After handing it in to my teacher, she corrected some mistakes and handed it back to me. She gave the class a chance to send their review to the Democrat and Chronicle or keep it. I chose to send mine to Democrat and Chronicle. Today, I found my review in the newspaper (yay!). I have posted the one from the newspaper’s website.

The following is taken from: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/article/20111007/NEWS05/110070315/Children-s-book-review-Brighton-

The Doom Machine by Mark Teague

Reviewed by Muxing Zhao, a student at Twelve Corners Middle School in Brighton

What would you do with a machine capable of getting you practically anywhere in space? Using it to research other planets is one thing, but takeover is another.

In Mark Teague’s The Doom Machine, Skreeps, the spidery residents of Skreepia, intend to use this very machine to invade Earth. They have to be stopped, but not by the military or even the U.S. Army Outer Space Division, but by four ordinary earthlings residing in Vern Hollow, 55 years before today.

Among the four are two kids, Jack Creedle, a juvenile delinquent who repairs cars and alien spacecraft, and Isadora Shumway, a smart, young scientist. The ship they were kidnapped onto is headed for Skreepia. But along the way, they sneak off the spaceship and onto the foreign planet Arboria. Filled with barren land, the planet looks sad and uninhabitable. Until the Skreeps came, it used to be covered with trees. There, they meet strange creatures and surprisingly, another human, claiming to be from the year 2207.

From there on, they venture to Skreepia, a planet that is in horrific condition. Danger lurks around every corner. Garbage is everywhere, even in orbit around the planet, causing garbage to frequently rocket back to the ground. However, the biggest problem of all is that the Skreeps are ready to dominate Earth.

I couldn’t force my hands to let go of this book. Non-stop action and adventure fill the book from beginning to end. It was almost impossible to stop reading. I just had to find out what was going to happen next.

For more about Student Book Reviews, call (585) 258-2721 or email Roc-Info@DemocratandChronicle.com. Type “Book Review” in the subject field.

Reviews from students in grades three through eight can be mailed to Our Towns/Book Review, 55 Exchange Blvd., Rochester, NY 14614.

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