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It's been four years as of today that I've been an E2 noder, three of which I've been AWOL. But I have finally returned to noding after my long time away, and strangely, during that three year chasm, I would frequent the site to read and browse around. How I managed to avoid the itch to start doing writeups again, I know not.

What have I been up to these three years? A large part has been taken up with taking care of my mother, who has been very ill for quite awhile. It's been a hard thing; there's something about seeing a person in a constant state of struggle, and there's a part of me that wants to turn away, whether from exhaustion or disbelief - that a person can suffer, long and hard, and not break from it all. It makes me wonder how I would act if the shit really hit the fan for me. It's hard to be constantly expressing sympathy and concern, after awhile your own voice begins to ring hollow and trite; I mean what I'm saying but after repeating such things enough you begin to feel like you're reciting lines from a script.

I'm no longer in school, though I hope to be again soon. I'm reminded of what a gi-frikkin-normous dork I am, that I miss writing papers and attending lectures. At the same time, and as much as I miss college, I've realized that a lot of importance is heaped on it which isn't necessarily deserved. Don't mistake me, education is vital, but meaningless unless applied. So many of my friends from school have graduated with meaningless degrees that haven't really gotten them anywhere. They shot for "general" degrees like business, journalism, biology, and are now unemployed and cynical. If I were to go back to school, I would have to know my direction better. I've learned so much about myself these last few years, and I know I would choose my direction and my intended career and drive and push for it as hard as possible. That was my mistake years ago when I graduated from high school. Now, I would have to decide, do I want to teach? Work in a lab? Work in the field?

I've reconciled with my father. For so long, I struggled against what he was, hated him for what he wasn't, and blamed him for offenses I thought he'd committed against me. God, I swear; when it comes to the past, there's always going to be shit, but what used to be red and raw and unforgivable... fades, releases and drifts away slowly, until you're reaching to remember it at all. What's left are the quiet times, the silly times, and the moments when he trusted me enough to let me see him cry.

Regardless of everything that has changed, my love for writing here hasn't; I'm glad to be back and speaking again with my friends here and contributing to the database. I'm glad to be back at my little home-within-my-home.

I hate being stumped. Hate it.

My best friend is, by far, one of the single most intelligent people I know. When bored he likes to be thrown five one-digit numbers, and one two-digit number. The goal of the “game” is to use the four basic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division) on the five numbers to achieve a final answer of the two-digit number. To do this, players must go through the numbers, in order, without creating any quantities (grouping numbers into parentheses). Over the years he has sometimes been stuck but never stumped. Last night, during a round of margaritas, he finally declared this one Unsolvable… I submit this “unsolvable” problem to you.

2, 3, 5, 6, 8
61

UPDATE!
First off, I may have mispoke: the numebers DO NOT have to stay in order. Next, Oolong and I are interested in the number of permutations of numbers and operations (and Oolong, they do not have to stay in that order). Also, Swap found us some answers with some brute-force and this intensely pleases me! Thanks!!! I won't reveal it for those still interested but message one of us if you want it. Great responses and help. Thanks all.

Our mutual friend, a chemical engineer, swears it’s an easy solve if he’s allowed exponents… he’s not. eien_meru solved this easily using quantities and also says we’re stumped with our restrictive rules. I hate being stumped.

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