A well-chosen set of preconditions really leads to original challenges. Ionica Smeets challenges you this summer. Episode 4: Save Them All.

    Ionica SmeetsAugust 5, 202210:30

    It was the summer holidays of 1990 and my cousin Bas was staying with us. We were 10 and we were bored. My father suggested we go to the cinema for Back to the Future III, but Bas and I hadn’t seen the first two parts yet. Coincidentally, the first part came on television that evening. The next day we went to the video store for part 2 and another day later we were in the cinema for part 3. All of this was very satisfying, not only because we watched three wonderful time travel movies. It was that satisfied feeling when you paste in the last picture of a compilation album, or discover that one paperback on a free market with which you finally have the whole series complete. There is little more satisfying than completing a well-defined set.

    Think about what you could save this summer. This can be done in many ways. For example, you can try to find all 54 still visible hunebeds to visit in the Netherlands. To make it extra interesting, you can try to determine the shortest possible route along all those dolmens. That is a variant of the notoriously difficult traveling salesman problem.

    A few years ago, I asked readers to solve another variant of this problem by making the fastest possible train journey through stations in all twelve provinces. That resulted in many visits to Rilland-Bath station and a winning time of 6 hours and 55 minutes. Can it be done faster in the current timetable? I’d love to hear if anyone succeeds in doing this. In the same category you can also find the fastest route past all Amsterdam metro stations, or the one in a foreign city where you are on holiday. Or you can travel past train stations until you’ve had all the letters of the alphabet in the station names (have fun in Usquert!).

    Collecting can of course also be done in a completely different way. You can try to spot certain animals – for those traveling to Africa, there is the classic big five: buffalo, lion, leopard, rhinoceros and elephant. Closer to home you can also try to see roe deer, red deer, wild boar, seal and beaver in the wild in the Netherlands. And for the urban explorers, Rotterdam has its own 10 of 010 with animals and plants.

    For those who don’t want to leave the house at all, there is an interesting art project by Soraya Perry that is screaming to be imitated: call all the contacts in your phone and have a chat with them. One by one. All. The uncle you haven’t spoken to for years, the names you don’t know who they are and the ex who is still in your phone by accident. Emmanuel Dzotsi from Reply All tried it this year and dropped out before he got to the end of his list, but made a nice podcast of the conversations he had. Incidentally, that podcast series has stopped for now, which means that the episodes currently also form a nicely defined set that you can collect by listening to them one by one.

    Have you taken up this challenge? Send a message with the results to [email protected]

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