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German-Born Americans

Several German-born Americans, Dr. Guenter Salter and Mrs. Edith Long, have had a large influence in my life. They were my main German professors at BJU. Dr. Salter passed away a few years ago, and Frau Long passed away yesterday, September 7. Frau Long was like another mom to me during my undergrad studies, and since 1984 she has been my colleague and my friend. It's been very hard to see her difficult battle with dementia for the past several years. Whenever I would visit her, I usually sensed that she knew that she knew me and that she enjoyed our visits. She tried so hard to communicate with me, but it was a mishmash of German, English, and gibberish. At the end of one of my last visits with her, she said to me clearly, "Thank you. Bye-bye." I will post her picture and obit later this week, once it's published. Visitation will be Tuesday evening from 7:00-8:30 at Mackey Mortuary, and the funeral will be at 4:00 Wednesday afternoon at Mackey. I will miss her, but I'm glad that she's released from the bondage she's endured and that she's enjoying unclouded communion with our Lord.

picture of Einstein in 1921

Today's instant vacation is something originally written by a German-born American who is well-known worldwide, Albert Einstein. On the right is a picture of him taken in 1921.

Einstein's Problem

Albert Einstein wrote the following problem. I am passing it on as Einstein wrote it.

1. There are 5 houses (along the street) in 5 different colors: blue, green, red, white, and yellow.
2. In each house lives a person of a different nationality: Brit, Dane, German, Norwegian, and Swede.
3. These 5 owners drink a certain beverage: beer, coffee, milk, tea, and water; smoke a certain brand: Blends, Blue Master, Dunhill, Pall Mall, and Prince; and keep a certain pet: bird, cat, dog, fish, and horse.
4. No owners have the same pet, smoke the same brand, or drink the same beverage.

The question is: " Who owns the fish?" (The fish is not mentioned in any of the 15 clues, so you have to figure everything else out first.)

1. The Brit lives in the red house.
2. The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
3. The Dane drinks tea.
4. The green house is on the left of the white house.
5. The green house's owner drinks coffee.
6. The person who smokes Pall Mall rears birds.
7. The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
8. The man living in the center house drinks milk.
9. The Norwegian lives in the first house.
10. The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
11. The man who keeps the horse lives next to the man who smokes Dunhill.
12. The owner who smokes Blue Master drinks beer.
13. The German smokes Prince.
14. The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
15. The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

picture of Einstein sticking his tongue out

NOTE: Albert Einstein said that 98% of the world couldn't solve his puzzle. Can you do it? Pay close attention to all the clues and use your powers of logic to figure out "who owns the fish." The picture of an older Einstein on the right seems almost like an appropriate taunt from him as people try to solve his puzzle.

You will definitely have to revisit some of the clues several times. A clue that seems to give you no information at first will prove to be useful later on, after the possibilities have been narrowed down. For example, the first clue, that the Brit lives in the red house, wasn't useful until you learned from the ninth clue that he doesn't live in the first house.

I drew a grid like the one below to write in the things of which I was certain until I finally arrived at the answer. I've done a couple of the totally obviously answers – from clues 8 and 9 – to get you started. When you figure out the answer, post it in the comments.

picture of puzzle grid


"All the devil's apples have worms in them. Don't bite." - Hal Webb

=^..^= =^..^=
Rob, who's ready for some fall weather!

I don't have a solution, but I admire the problem.

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52 Comments on “German-Born Americans”

  1. #1 Krischa
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 8:34 pm

    The *** owns the fish. The grid worked well. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Krischa – Correct! You were amazingly fast!

  2. #2 Felicity
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    The *** owns the Fish.

    @Felicity – Fรฉlicitations! You also got it right!

  3. #3 Patty
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Hi, Rob! My 14-yr-old son says the *** keeps the fish. It took him less than half an hour to figure out the entire grid. His goal is to be at BJ in 3 years, studying to be a math teacher. More power to him!

    @Patty – Well, it sounds as if your son should do well in math with his prowess in logic! Too bad education majors have no time in their schedules for any extra courses. I’d enjoy having your son in French class. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. #4 Anna
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    The *** owns the fish.

    @Anna – You are right! Good work!

  5. #5 Bill
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Der *** liebt Fische!

    @Bill – Richtig, mein Herr!

  6. #6 Emily Park
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    It was the *** who owns the fish. I was about to give up and go to bed, and then the last clue fell in place.

    @Anna – I’m glad you solved it and then could sleep well!

  7. #7 Mike O'Brien
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    The *** owns the fish. That was frustrating but I got it after about 10 minutes!

    @Mike O’Brien – You must be Superman to solve that in 10 minutes!

  8. #8 Vicki
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Herr Loach, Thank you for posting the news about Frau Long. She was a delightful lady who will be missed by many.

  9. #9 Tina
    on Sep 8th, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    After finishing the puzzle, I found myself slightly amused at the title of the post. Thanks for posting the problem!

    @Tina – Glad you enjoyed it. I’m assuming you are confident in your solution since you didn’t post it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. #10 April
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 12:15 am

    The *** owns the fish. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @April – tu as raison! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. #11 Eileen
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 7:48 am

    The *** owns the fish. This is definitely a puzzle to get your brain going first thing in the morning! ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Eileen – Ta rรฉponse est correcte, Eileen!

  12. #12 Doug and Barbara Threlfall
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 8:18 am

    The *** owns the fish.

    @Doug and Barbara – You got it!

  13. #13 Kathie
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 8:35 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful tribute to your German teacher, Rob. I didn’t know her, but I loved all my BJU teachers. Teaching was such a ministry for them. Now that my daughters have gone to the local community college, I have to add that my BJU teachers were also very approachable. Judging by the many weddings you attend each year, you are just as dear to your students.

    Did you minor in German? Thank you for mentioning my beloved Dr. Salter who inspired me with his testimony and his generosity towards every freshman.

    Our family will do the puzzle as part of our schoolwork today. We are used to these kinds of puzzles because our Amish magazines publish one each month. Good for the brain!

  14. #14 Susan
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Got it–it’s the ***. lol You helped me by pointing out that the Brit doesn’t live in the first house…after that mental block was cleared, the rest of the pieces fell into place rather quickly. It must be all those Sudoku puzzles in the Sunday paper!

    @Susan – You indeed got it! I think Sudoku does help the brain.

  15. #15 Sherry
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 9:51 am

    This was tough. My brain is not mathematically (or logically!) inclined. ๐Ÿ™ According to my grid, it is the *** who owns the fish.

    Thanks for posting that, though. I love a good challenge. (Unless I’m wrong…in which case, I’ll just be frustrated…)

    @Sherry – No need to be frustrated – your grid came out right! ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. #16 Angela Stewart
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 10:05 am

    The *** owns the fish. I tried using a grid and got too confused. I ended up cutting out squares and rearranging them until I figured it out. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I think Einstein’s estimate of the intelligence of his fellow man might have been a little low. Either that, or only the highest caliber of logical minds derive satisfaction from ivman’s blog! ๐Ÿ˜€

    @Angela – You too are right. Glad you found a method that works for you. We’ll see concerning the second paragraph of your comment. Fewer than 2% of my readership has reported in with the right answer…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. #17 Sarah Richards
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 10:12 am

    The *** owns the fish. Wow, that was a toughie!

    @Sarah – You’re right! Congrats!

  18. #18 Jessica
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 10:20 am

    I got it!! The *** owns the fish. =D

    @Jessica – You join the minds who enjoy ivman’s blog!

  19. #19 Rob
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 10:37 am

    @Vicki and Kathie – Thank you for your kind comments about Frau Long and about the teachers here at BJU. I benefited from that myself as a student and was very pleased that the Lord allowed me to join the faculty at BJU so that I could give my students what I had received from my teachers.

  20. #20 David
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 11:14 am

    Both Krischa and Bill already got it figured out. And I thought I was the only one in the family that enjoyed these sorts for things… ๐Ÿ™‚ Congrats!

    (You ask why haven’t I done it yet? I was tired last night and I spend all day working these sorts of puzzles at work. Except I deal with IP numbers and log entries. Excuses, excuses…)

  21. #21 Tina
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 11:28 am

    I am pretty sure it is the ***. I did not post it because I did not realize that you could read and take out the word before it was posted. I did not want to give it away if I was correct. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Tina – You figured it out! Good for you! No need to be shy about posting comments on my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. #22 Tami Allen
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 11:57 am

    The *** owns the fish. Hope I’m right. I usually hate these kinds of things but this was fun.

    @Tami – Glad you enjoyed and were right!

  23. #23 Rebecca K
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    The *** owned the fish, right?

    @Rebecca K – Right you are!

  24. #24 Bonnie
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 1:56 pm

    Is it the *** who owns the fish? Thanks for a great challenge this week!

    @Bonnie – Yes, it is. Glad you enjoyed it!

  25. #25 Ann
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    The *** owns the fish, right? My husband, one of your former students, was working this puzzle as well and I see he has yet to post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Ann – you are right, Ann. Tell Eric I want to hear from him too! ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. #26 Guillaume
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I got a little behind on IVs, so I only just read it.
    The *** should have the fish.

    @Guillaume – Tu as raison, toi aussi!

  27. #27 Corene
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    According to me the *** owns the fish.

    @Corene – Sorry … back to the grid and try it again.

  28. #28 Kristi
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    The *** owns the fish. Sudoku to the rescue!!

    @Kristi – Good job! Keep doing that Sudoku. Thanks for the reassurance. I’ve been doing at least one Sudoku puzzle each night before sleeping to ward off dementia. If it doesn’t work, I won’t know, I guess….

  29. #29 Amanda
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    this actually wasn’t that hard once I put some of the clues together. The *** owns the fish. Thanks so much for the fun brain teaser. =)

    @Amanda – You’re welcome. And congrats on solving the puzzle!

  30. #30 Rob
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    @David – I hope you’ll have a chance soon to work through the puzzle. You’ve got to do your part as a member of a family who’s already had two people solve it! ๐Ÿ˜€

  31. #31 Charles
    on Sep 9th, 2008 at 11:08 pm

    The *** has the fish, I hope!!

    @Charles – That is correct. Good job!

  32. #32 Nathan Foran
    on Sep 10th, 2008 at 12:52 am

    Aha! The *** vaz de von vif de fish! Good puzzle we enjoyed it!

    @Nathan – You ver right!

  33. #33 Anna
    on Sep 10th, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Is it the *** or did i absolutely mess it up?…..must say it was great fun though! ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Anna – You didn’t mess up at all – you got it! Glad you thought it was fun.

  34. #34 Gayle
    on Sep 10th, 2008 at 10:51 am

    The *** owned the fish unless I completely messed up. I HOPE to be in the 98%……

    @Gayle – Well, you’re not in the 98% since you got it right!

  35. #35 Susan
    on Sep 10th, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Ah ha! I knew something was “fishy” about this puzzle. This version has too many facts given. The original puzzle was written as follows:

    There are 5 houses in five different colors. In each house lives a person with a different nationality. These 5 owners drink a certain drink, smoke a certain brand of tobacco and keep a certain pet. No owners have the same pet, smoke the same tobacco, or drink the same drink.


    The Brit lives in the red house.
    The Swede keeps dogs as pets.
    The Dane drinks tea.
    The green house is on the left of the white house.
    The green house owner drinks coffee.
    The person who smokes Pall Mall raises birds.
    The owner of the yellow house smokes Dunhill.
    The man living in the house right in the center drinks milk.
    The Norwegian lives in the first house.
    The man who smokes Blends lives next to the one who keeps cats.
    The man who keeps horses lives next to the one who smokes Dunhill.
    The owner who smokes Bluemaster drinks beer.
    The German smokes Prince.
    The Norwegian lives next to the blue house.
    The man who smokes Blends has a neighbor who drinks water.

    Question: Who keeps fish?

    The answer, and the reason that Einstein postulated that only 2% of the population would get it right, is that we don’t know who has fish at home–there are not enough facts given. Nowhere in the hints or in the facts at the beginning of the puzzle is a fish mentioned. We ASSUME that the fish is the fifth pet, because the question asks us who keeps fish. But the facts don’t tell us what the fifth pet is, so it could just as easily be another, unnamed animal. Notice that the facts are distinctly separated from the rest of the puzzle. It’s not surprising that Einstein would have thrown in a twist like this–he often stressed the fact that one should always question assumptions.

    I have to give credit to my Dad for this one…he found a website that pointed out the correct answer: http://www.amazeingart.com/fun/einstein-quiz-answer.html

    Thanks for a great brain teaser!

  36. #36 Rob
    on Sep 10th, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    @Susan – Thanks for sharing that. I honestly don’t know which is right. I compared what I had in my files with what was on several websites. What I posted is consistent with what I found “out there.” Whether the link your dad sent is more authoritative, I don’t know. We all have to remember – just because it’s on the Internet, doesn’t mean it’s accurate.

  37. #37 Brenda
    on Sep 10th, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    ok, ok, I just read this one, and had to sit down and figure it out. It’s the *** of course. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Brenda – That’s right! Now aren’t you glad you sat down to figure it out?!

  38. #38 Mark Loach
    on Sep 10th, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    Hi Dad. The *** owns the fish. J.k. The *** owns the fish.

    @Mark – Hi son! Cute! Good job. You’ve inherited more than just your dad’s sense of humor. ๐Ÿ™‚ I had to *** your right answer in the second sentence, of course – I don’t want the replies to give things away for anyone else who reads this later. Did your class work on this puzzle?


  39. #39 LeAnne
    on Sep 11th, 2008 at 7:47 am

    I used a slightly different grid, but I learned that the *** owns the fish.

    @LeAnne – Join the 2% … though that percentage is starting to seem too small, at least in my readership!

  40. #40 Laura Brenneman
    on Sep 11th, 2008 at 8:53 am

    The *** has the fish.

    @Laura – Trรจs bien, madame!

  41. #41 Steve
    on Sep 11th, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Guten Tag, Rob! Ist das nicht der ***? Richtig? Ah, das freut mich sehr! And thus exhausts my “command” of the German language after 2 years of intense study and trips to the language lab! (And who can forget, “Mein Name ist Richard Robertson. Ich komme aus Amerika und lerne hier Deutsch!”) I distinctly remember you having pity on me and helping me out so that I could at least pass, to say nothing of your help with my stint as German Club chorister! Now THAT was amazing! Thanks for bringing back some great memories, including those of Frau Long. She, too, was amazingly patient with me as a struggling German student. I pray God’s “peace that passeth understanding” for all of her loved ones at this time.

    Auf Wiedersehen, and don’t forget, “SchlieรŸen sie die Tรผr, ‘biddy!'” Steffan

    @Stibeve! (a.k.a. Steffan) Richtig!

    Thanks for recalling some memories from our student days! I so thoroughly enjoyed you and would love to see you again!

    I’m now one of the “old guys” in the Modern Language Department, and if the Lord tarries His return, these young things will be the old guys. Die Zeit vergeht so schnell!

  42. #42 Laura
    on Sep 11th, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    It’s the ***–but how weird that he doesn’t like his national beverage!

    Thanks for the puzzle. It even piqued my husband’s interest, but he hasn’t solved it yet (maybe over the weekend).

    What a lot of comments you got from this post! I think that you must have set a new record for feedback. Maybe you should post another puzzle of some kind once every few months.

    With your steady diet of sudoku, have you discovered http://www.websudoku.com? You can solve online or print the puzzles for free, and they have many levels and styles available. I dunno about advertising, because I have ad-blocking software in place, but the puzzles are great. Now, if I could just find a similar site for kakuro puzzles (cross sums) . . .

    Have a great day!

    @Laura – You got it! Hope Glenn does too. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s been a lot of fun to see how much participation and how many comments this post as generated! I will definitely consider posting more puzzles. If you (or any other readers) run across a good one, send it my way!

    Thanks for the link to the Sudoku site. I’ll have to check it out.

  43. #43 Katie
    on Sep 11th, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    It was the *** who owns the fish. I thought it was actually pretty easy, you just have to think a little. Thanks for the fun puzzle!

  44. #44 Susan
    on Sep 12th, 2008 at 9:22 am

    You know, that’s interesting, Rob, because I didn’t find this version anywhere else, after searching many websites. One thing seems certain though–either Einstein didn’t write the puzzle, or there is more to it than is at first apparent. The version as given here is too easy, and his theory that 98% of the world would get it wrong implies that the answer that is most apparent is not the one he was looking for. Or, as one website hypothesized, perhaps he intended the puzzle to be a mental exercise, done without writing anything down. That would also account for the 98% failure rate. While it’s true that just because something is on the internet doesn’t necessarily mean it’s accurate, still, I am inclined to agree with the dozens of websites that gave the version I posted above rather than the very few (in fact, I didn’t find any others, although I looked through several pages of Google results) that printed it with each of the items listed out.

    In any case, it was an enjoyable mental exercise–we’ll probably never know the truth of its origins. ๐Ÿ™‚

    @Susan – I have spent a long time puzzling over the edition I posted and what you posted in your comment. The list of 15 clues is virtually identical, aside from some extremely minor differences in wording. The only differences I see are in the introductory material, which in the version I posted really just lists the five colors, nationalities, etc. I don’t see that that made any difference in the outcome.

    I’ll for sure agree with you on your last statement – “we’ll probably never know the truth of its origins.” So I think maybe we can just let it drop for now since I’ve spent more time puzzling over printouts of the two versions side by side than I did on the puzzle itself. ๐Ÿ˜€

  45. #45 IvaMay
    on Sep 12th, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Is it the ***?

    @IvaMay – It is indeed! Good job!

  46. #46 Rebekah Turner
    on Sep 14th, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Took me a while to get to this one, but the *** owns the fish.

    @Rebekah – Glad you stuck with it – you got it right!

  47. #47 Marie
    on Oct 5th, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    No, I have not spent the last month trying to figure this out. I was just catching up on my ivman post when I read this one. I found this puzzle fun, though I did the dumb thing of trying to do it in my head for fifteen minutes before succumbing to writing it down. I didn’t scroll down (in case I saw the answer by mistake), so I didn’t see your grid. I just wrote facts down. I may be wrong, mais c’est ***, n’est-ce pas? Thank you for the brainteaser!

  48. #48 Jeannie
    on Oct 18th, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    catching up on iv’s and just found this one. while looking for paper to write it out, i found where i had evidently started working on it before. evidently, i was interrupted and then forgot about it, because i hadn’t even finished drawing the grid. but, i finished this time, and i think it’s the ***. i had a short delay while i was stuck with 2 nationalities and 2 pets (horse and fish), but re-read the clues and figured it out.

  49. #49 Rob
    on Oct 21st, 2008 at 6:22 am

    @Jeannie – I’m glad you got back to it and figured it out. Congrats!

  50. #50 Johann
    on Jan 24th, 2009 at 4:56 am

    Guten Tag Loach!
    Lehren Sie jetzt meine Tochter in French Composition? Ich hoffe, daรŸ sie fleiรŸig ist. Sie spielt Sudoku und Scrabble sehr gut. Geben Sie ihr dieses Raetsel! Ich denke, daรŸ der *** hat der Fisch, nicht wahr?

    Ich surfe das Web nicht oft und habe nur jetzt dieses I.V. gefunden.

  51. #51 Rob
    on Jan 26th, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    @Johann – Ich freue mich, dass Du mir geschrieben hast. Ja, Deine Tochter ist in French Composition. Du hast recht mit dem Raetsel! Ich gratuliere Dir!


  52. #52 A. H.
    on Dec 11th, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    The *** owns the fish.

    @A. H. – Correct!