Mind Games

Crossword puzzles and solitaire may be good standbys, but there are other games on the market to kick-start creative thinking when you have trouble problem solving or focusing on the task at hand. And according to the Alzheimer's Association, keeping mentally active may decrease your chances of developing Alzheimer's later in life. AARP has jumped on the bandwagon as well, offering daily puzzles and word games at www.aarp.org/fun/puzzles. So whe-ther for general amusement, or out of concern for future health, or even from sheer boredom, check out these brainteasers that are sure to test your skills.

Plexi Ball Puzzle

This Plexiglas puzzle comes apart in six pieces, and then it's up to you to put it back together. Designed by renowned sculptor Charles O. Perry, the toy can earn a spot on your desk without instigating disapproving questions from your boss. It's the Rubik's Cube all grown up. $68; http://momastore.org

The Mammoth Book of Sudoku:

400 New Puzzles

This collection, by Nathan Haselbauer, is a compilation of puzzles for one of the hottest numbers games out there, and also includes variations on the standard game. Be careful—instead of a quick break from work, it could become an all-consuming addiction. $12.95; available at www.amazon.com

Binary Code Watch

Learning to tell time can be tough for kids; if you're interested in taking yourself back to those days of uncertainty, the Binary Code Watch from Signals is just the ticket. In order to determine what time it is, you have to know the code, as the time appears as a set of lights representing powers of two (21=2, 22=4, 23=8 . . .). $82; www.signals.com