I spent more long nights than rationality can excuse, pouring over dictionaries, pushing sqauds of letters across pages in search of one last discovery, perhaps hoping to break that ambivalent mood, to prove it had been fun after all, a game worth having played. But neither a satisfying conclusion, nor a clear end to the possibilities announced itself, until at last the toll of sleeplessness on my waking life grew too high to ignore. The realization that the very phrase, "information overload," described the situation, had lengthened into a stale joke. I threw my notebook of collected divinations into the back of a drawer and left it there for a number of years.
But some shadow of that fascination has stayed with me. Twice, now, in the darkened decade that has followed, I have succumbed to a temptation to revisit the permutations in search of answers to more pressing and selfish questions. Each time --so far!-- the oracle, like some chimera of Nostradamus and the author of the twisted back-cover puzzles of Mad Magazine, has taunted me, throwing my anguished questions back in my face-- this time seeming to refer to recent threats to the public, viz.