I'm Daniel, a skinny teenager from New Jersey. My mom got a new job, so she and I had to move to Canyon City, California.

I decided that I needed a new hobby, so I started taking classes at the YMCA.

One night I was coming home from a school Halloween party and some California bullies in skeleton costumes and blond haircuts jumped me and challenged me in a contest related to my hobby. Not terribly proficient yet, I was getting beaten pretty badly when this mysterious man came out of nowhere and really hammered on them good. He told them to stop picking on me. Turns out that this man was Edward, the maintenance guy at my apartment complex. I asked him to help me improve my skills and he agreed, but game me fair warning: I must not question his methods. He told me to meet him at his place the following morning at 5 A.M.

The next morning I was excited to begin learning, but he was too busy catching flies with chopsticks and pruning ridiculously tiny trees, so he gave me a menial chore to do instead. He showed me a van full of wood and told me to weigh the entire thing, then stack the wood onto a tree stump, over and over, numbskullishly. He showed me a picture of how I had to stack the logs:

Day 1. enter image description here

I was to carry the wood using only my fingertips, five pieces with my left hand, three with my right, then weigh the now-empty van again. By the time I had finished, I was exhausted but feeling good about not quitting. I expected praise, but of course got none from Edward. He simply told me to come back the next day at 5 A.M.

The next day (you guessed it), he had me weigh and stack wood again, but it was slightly different: This time, some of the logs were split. A new picture was presented to me:

Day 2. enter image description here

Days went on in similar fashion, each day presenting a new stacking challenge. One day he even used his axe to make the ends of some of the logs pointy. I tried to keep a positive attitude even though I was getting very frustrated doing all this crap for no apparent reason. These chores seemed to have nothing to do with my hobby. These are the pictures that he showed me on days 3 through 6:

Day 3. enter image description here Day 4. enter image description here
Day 5. enter image description here Day 6. enter image description here

On the seventh day, he showed me this picture:

Day 7. enter image description here

and I simply lost it. "Screw this!" I erupted. "I'm going home." As I started to walk away in disgust, he clapped his hands and rubbed them together furiously.


When I turned around, Sensei Edward finally showed me the secret reasons behind his unconventional training methods.

He started by saying, "Show me... Stack the Logs!"

  • What is my hobby?
  • What does the weighing teach me?
  • What do the (7) configurations of stacking teach me?
  • What is my Master's full name?

To note:

The answers have nothing to do with the movie franchise The Karate Kid.


1 Answer 1


Your hobby is:

Playing guitar. More precisely, playing guitar with a tapping or tap-style or two-handed tapping technique.

The purpose of stacking and weighing the wood is:

Stacking: Five pieces in left hand and three with the right hand, with only your fingertips is obviously to strengthen the fingers to master the tapping technique (assuming you're a right-handed guitar player).

Weighing: The tool needed to weigh things is a scale, which is also what each picture of stacked logs represents - a musical scale.

Day 1: C Major Scale (typical starting point when learning scales). All logs are round, indicating a key signature with no flats or sharps

Day 2: E-flat Major Scale. Three flat logs represent the three flat notes in this key signature.

Day 3: B Major Scale. Five sharp logs represent the five sharp notes of this key signature.

Day 4: F-flat Major. This is a theoretical scale that consists of six flat notes and a double-flat note (hence, the eight flat logs depicted).

Day 5: Diminished Jazz Scale. Logs represent a typical octatonic scale with a ninth log to indicate a diminished note addition.

Day 6: Augmented Scale. Another Jazz theory scale that interlocks two augmented triads with one raised half-tone between.

Day 7: This is the up and down of the full C Major scale. 15 logs for 15 notes (C – D – E – F – G – A -B – C – B -A -G -F – E – D – C).

One last note: Interesting choice to use logs/wood to represent the scales in this puzzle since once you understand the scales, one can then build chords. Coincidentally, a cord is a unit of measuring firewood like the logs depicted in the puzzle.

Your Sensei's full name is:

Edward Lodewijk Van Halen (Eddie Van Halen) - not the inventor of the tapping technique, but most definitely a master and innovator of it.

Extra clues:

References in the opening storyline "hammered on them good" and "told them to stop picking on me" support this answer. Also, in this paragraph a reference to Fair Warning, my favorite (and best, IMHO) Van Halen album. And don't forget the reference at the end where the Daniel character "erupted"...Eruption being one of the most quintessential guitar tapping technique examples in rock history.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is there any significance to the sharpened wood and the half pieces of wood? beisdes rot13 (gur nkr orvat nabgure pyhr sbe thvgne ) $\endgroup$
    – JGibbers
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ As far as I could tell, it was just another reference as you pointed out or possibly a musical reference to sharps and flats in a key signature? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:23
  • $\begingroup$ +1 You've got the hobby and the name of my Sensei right. The Weighing is more significant than just a reference to "Van," though. As to the Stacking, while you got the fingertip clue right, a complete answer should indicate (7) distinct-yet-related specific answers (1 per picture). $\endgroup$
    – Chowzen
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ I'm actually kind of sad that all of my playful hints ended up giving away the other two answers! In my mind, those were only going to become evident after you figured out the weighing and stacking. C'est la vie! $\endgroup$
    – Chowzen
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 20:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Very nice find! The usage of "cords of wood" was not a coincidence; the homophone was what gave me the idea for the puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Chowzen
    Commented Oct 23, 2018 at 13:43

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