So I get home from work the other day, and a small, white, cubical mailing carton is waiting on the doorstep. Since that isn't all that unusual, it got nudged inside without much thought. A little later, Michelle noticed it and wondered what I had ordered since it wasn't hers after all.
Looking at the label didn't answer any questions. It was, indeed, addressed to me. My name was spelled right. The return address was a complete unknown and I am pretty sure I haven't been shopping on eBay (actually I know I haven't since I don't have an account there at all... that's Michelle's bailiwick).
So we open the carton, and this is what we found inside neatly wrapped in plastic, bubble wrap, and air bladders. It is a very nicely made puzzle box, about 11.8 cm by 8.2 cm by 5.3 cm, covered with intricate inlay patterns.
There was no packing slip, so the plot thickens.
I've seen this sort of thing before, so I know that opening it is just a matter of patiently searching out which bits of which panel will slide, and then solving the maze to get the box all the way open. This turns out to be a well made a fourteen step box, counting the final removal of the cover. Aha! There's a rolled up sheet of note paper inside. Perhaps that will answer the obvious question... but alas, it only answers questions for those who can read Japanese, and I cannot.
The one remaining clue is the return address: someone at U of Waterloo, in Canada. Perhaps Google will shed some light. Expecting to find someone known to the puzzle community, perhaps an importer of well crafted puzzle boxes, I give that a try. My unknown benefactor is clearly the first search result... but he has no obvious connection to puzzles, woodwork, Japan, or me.
Except for one minor thing. He's one of a very small community of people who deeply understand quantum computers, another of whom almost certainly knows both of us, lives in Japan, and furthermore knows I collect things like this box and would be amused by a good puzzle.
Thanks, Rod, for the mysterious box...