Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hey look, it's the internet again!

It only took four days, but the new "cable" people managed to show up to "install" my new internet connection. The people on the phone at the main office were insistent that their service wouldn't work with our old from-Cox modems; of course the tech showed up with the exact same modem in hand. He suggested that I would be able to get a refund if I return it, so we'll see.

I seem to have lost the ability to do puzzles recently also. I fear that my run at the top of Justin's leaderboard is over, as I'm looking at two puzzles that I'm stuck on. And the latest issue of P&A! The warmup puzzles are the usual fare, but I've only got 3 (well, really 2.9) of the puzzles solved. Just because I know my Monty Python doesn't mean I can solve the Monty Python puzzle; just because I can solve the sudoku doesn't mean I can solve the sudoku puzzle; and so on. I think I need more sunlight.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


The new P&A came out today. It will not print. I don't know why. I'm going to try it from the laptop to see if it's the Mac driver.

After two rounds (three hours!) of mahjong today in the ODMC, I won one hand. Total. Fortunately, that was good enough for second place in the second round, as Martin S. had a habit of going out selfdrawn, so no one else had any points either.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just in time

The last two GMO recaps now available: rounds five and six. The Danish Open is this weekend, so hopefully I have both (1) learned something here and (2) can use what I have learned. We'll find out.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More Recaps

Hurray recaps! Rounds three and four from the GMO are now available.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


It's amazing how willing you are to do things after you've gotten eighteen hours of sleep and had a liter of Coke. My recapping of round 1 was delayed by the fact that I got (and, of course, accepted) three invitations to play games while reviewing this one. But here is round one from my point of view.

Added at 9am: And round two.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

GMO Day 2

Round 4: A heavy-hitting table; Chris was at 7, the rest of us were at 6. The first hand not only took forever, but was a draw; we managed to finish seven nonetheless. Both of my winning hands were seven pairs; the seven pairs that I tried to turn into all pungs went nowhere. Just enough to get by Chris, who won one but self-drawn for second place. So now, eight points, twentieth place.

Round 5: We got through eight hands, with one player missing. I won three hands, but when another wins five, well. Another second place, ten points now, still twentieth place. I also realized that I forgot to save round 4. And that one I really did want to go back to look at, too.

Round 6: Also eight hands, but that's because several hands went by super-quick. (I believe there were three hands where I was ready with seventy-odd tiles left in the wall.) I managed to win four, so a big pile of points, another first-place. I finished 14/24 (so yay for meeting goals) in 13th place (so yay for the top quarter of the field). I guess this means I should set the goal for 16 for OODC at Thanksgiving.

So finally: The crosstable for the whole tournament. Obviously I got the tiebreaker thing fixed. I think only the bottom two players missed the entire tournament, although some other people missed parts (I know there were four people missing Saturday, and I think seven people missed the first round today, down to three or five for the last round. And one of those missing players got 2.5 table points!)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

GMO Day 1

Round 1: Won one hand, which ended up being good enough for third place. (Could have won another, if I had realized that last tile was worth enough to make up for the lack of everything else.) Adrie won the table, with quite a bit of help with me (I don't play very strong defense; I know I'm throwing dangerous tiles, but I often figure it's worth it based on the hand, especially if I'm solidly in third place at the table -- and he snatched those up seemingly every time).

Round 2: We just barely got through six -- I doubted we would get through, as we had been averaging 16 min/hand for the first five and only had 10 min left for the last, but I was quick; unfortunately someone else was quicker and won with :20 on the clock or so. The person who had been first paid to the person who had been third; that gave the winner a 1-point lead on the previous leader, and I went from second to third. So only one more point for me. :(

Round 3: Finished the seventh hand with :15 on the clock. I won 29 selfdrawn, 12 on a discard, 31 on a discard, and 33 on a discard, which was my day's ration of good hands. A big pile of points, which gives me the top tie-breaker score for my score group (6 points), which means I am 18th, of 64. (There are 14 of us at six points.) My target score again is 13/24, and right now I am 6/12, so almost halfway there.

And so finally: the crosstable for day 1. I need to do something about those page breaks. (Update: fixed the page breaks, and also the strength-of-schedule calculation, 'cause I screwed it up when I changed the numbering to match MT's numbering scheme.)

Another Weekend, Another Tournament

This weekend it's the German Mahjong Open (online, of course). This is the only thing keeping me as high on the rating list as I am (36) -- if you miss a tournament, it counts as a zero. Another opportunity for me to save games and then neglect to go back and analyze them, and another opportunity for me to tweak my mahjong crosstable generator (which still doesn't handle ties, and is probably not engineered very well). We got to 64 players, which is a good turnout; two people on the waiting list, hopefully they'll let them take over for absent people at the start (always the bane of these tournaments).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Universe Ending Alert

It took me nine of the fifteen puzzles, and asking a pretty stupid question to the editor (hey, those menus are in alphabetical order, aren't they?), but I got the P&A meta. Now I don't have to do Post! Or Kidd! Or O'Connolly! (Although I have that answer from backsolving.) Or Sharp! Or Milk! (I have that answer too.) I'll still probably try to finish Reade, since I have 90% of it.

Added: I went back and backsolved the rest. So now I have all the answers! I just don't know why.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Stock Market is a Young Man's Game

The mutual funds in my 401k, since July 1 of this year, are currently earning from -50% to -77% on an annualized basis (according to me and my HP12c calculator, so YMMV). Fortunately the bonds are earning -25%.

On the other hand, I'm certainly buying a lot of shares compared with this time last year.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

P&A Update 2

We've got ourselves Baker and Linkletter. Still a bunch of words in Sharp and Reade with nothing happening. No movement on Milk or Kidd, and I don't really have any plans to try Post. Completed the word search part of Turner (which had a twist) and found out that the next bit was not what I expected at all, in that anything I can think of isn't working. Hooray. Still not really enough answers to try to get at Mehta in a non-orthodox fashion.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

P&A Update

Update on the puzzles:
Sharp: Still no clue.
Post: haven't started.
Ridge: got the "duh!" clues in the intro, but not all the answers seem to fit the pattern. Don't know why.
O'Connolly: the same glimmer, the same not-really-anything.
Baker: I had another idea, but I'm not good enough to follow it all the way to the end, I fear.
Reade: Fixed one flaw in my reasoning, but have a big pile of letters and that's it.
Kerry: I think I did enough Googling to get the answer. Again, missed a "duh!" in the intro, but got past that. I should probably do more Googling to check (I only actually did five of eight.)
Linkletter: Moved forward a bit: left side done, right side pretty empty.
Turner: About to start now, and I hope I don't need scissors.
Milk: A little farther, but not much.
Kidd: I see like three different things to do, but not how they tie together (if they do) or what actually happens here.
Mehta: I think I'm a little farther here -- let's put it this way: I have a plan, but I need more than five answers to see if I'm right.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I've got a strength-of-schedule modifier in my NFL model now; we'll see how well it goes this week and then maybe I'll use that instead of the original.

Apparently the extravaganza in the last issue of P&A was too easy, as they claimed they upped the difficulty considerably; and I believe them. I've got about as much on this one as the last one, except I only worked on the last issue in bits and pieces, as my old printer refused to print it, and I more or less devoted today to this issue (apart from the grading I still have to do). The current score:
Sharp: No idea at the moment what is going on, and I don't have enough of the words to figure it out.
White: done.
Parker: done.
Post: probably doable, but this is not the sort of puzzle I enjoy and I don't feel like doing it right now
Price: done.
Ridge: Maybe I know what's going on, but not particularly close to an answer.
O'Connolly: Perhaps a glimmer, but I've not managed to make it work.
Baker: Again an idea of something to try, but I'm not getting anything out of it at the moment.
Reade: This one feels like that bit in the Princess Bride, where what's-his-name keeps switching the chalices around. I've been approaching it as though there are zero twists in the puzzle, but I'm pretty sure there's at least one. I'm hoping there's an even number, so that most of what I've got I can keep.
House: done. I feel prouder of the fact that I wrote a C++ program to do some of the grunge work in the middle than I am of the fact that I figured it out in the first place. I think figuring the puzzle out (and, worse, thinking it a little easy) means I've forfeited any right to be called "normal".
Kerry: this appears to be a Google hunt. Maybe I'll do it at work some afternoon this week.
Linkletter: Need a lot more words to get a toehold in this puzzle. Strangely, even in the isolated spots where I have enough words to get started, I can't seem to get them to fit.
Turner: haven't started, but should yield to actually working at it (famous last words)
Milk: Either I've got a couple words wrong, or my first thought isn't right. I'm betting on the latter.
Kidd: I have a bunch of random here, so who knows.
Mehta: As if.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

This blog entry brought to you by the Mac Mini

Yes, that's right; I have finally upgraded my desktop machine from 1999 (or was it 2000?). Anyway, this thing is bloody small, that's for sure. I had to upgrade my printer as well, since it was even older, I think, and they don't make machines with those serial ports any more.

This post was eaten by Cox's FTP server the first time I tried to post it; let's see if this smaller, leaner, more better post makes it through.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

NFL Week 3 rankings

Not the best week for the model last week: 7-8, but since that's only based on one week's worth of games that's not completely awful. Currently the model considers net points, net yards, and net turnovers. I really need to add a strength-of-schedule component to this thing, because I'm not really convinced by this current ranking. (Arizona #1? Kansas City ahead of Indianapolis? Really?) Anyway the list:
1. Cardinals (2-0) 11.37
2. Steelers (2-0) 8.94
3. Giants (2-0) 8.44
4. Eagles (1-1) 8.08
5. Bills (2-0) 8.07
6. Packers (2-0) 7.77
7. Titans (2-0) 7.18
8. Broncos (2-0) 6.23
9. Ravens (1-0) 5.78
10. Cowboys (2-0) 3.78
11. Redskins (1-1) 3.37
12. Patriots (2-0) 2.58
13. Buccaneers (1-1) 2.39
14. Bears (1-1) 2.29
15. Panthers (2-0) 2.04
16. Falcons (1-1) 0.62
17. Vikings (0-2) -0.85
18. Jets (1-1) -1.35
19. Chargers (0-2) -1.38
20. Raiders (1-1) -2.30
21. Saints (1-1) -3.49
22. Chiefs (0-2) -3.83
23. Colts (1-1) -3.87
24. 49ers (1-1) -3.97
25. Jaguars (0-2) -5.17
26. Dolphins (0-2) -5.61
27. Bengals (0-2) -6.91
28. Browns (0-2) -7.36
29. Seahawks (0-2) -8.76
30. Lions (0-2) -10.79
31. Texans (0-1) -11.06
32. Rams (0-2) -14.89

Sunday, September 07, 2008


The first day was a mess. I'm pretty sure I dozed off a couple of times, since I remember waiting patiently for some tiles and then looking back and seeing that they had been discarded just two rounds back. Not good.

The second day was a little better--the first game I could get no traction (lots of good hands, but I couldn't capitalize on anything), the second game I got my entire tournament's ration of great hands and good luck in, and the third game was pretty good, although I was hoping for a win. My goal for myself was 13/24, but I could only manage 9/24.

I've been assuaging my psyche by creating a crosstable generator for MJ tournaments. Apparently it took me about four hours (since I started a little before 6 o'clock, I think, after the tournament and supper), and this is what it comes up with for this tournament. (Yes, it could use headers and footers. It doesn't handle in-game ties either, so that's going to take a rewrite anyway.) I could explain what it means, but I'd rather make you guess.

Anyway, obviously I've fixed the PDF issues; and I'm seeing saved games also, so maybe this weekend I'll get a write-up of the games up here. (It's better than grading finals.)

Monday, August 18, 2008

This Level of Student Is Not Sustainable

I was in Richmond this last weekend, reading for a quizbowl tournament. Conveniently, it was also move-in weekend (really only convenient because parking in the parking garages was free). As part of their festivities, they had marked off a running course (perhaps 5K, perhaps just "all the interesting buildings", who knows). So two of the three lanes on Main Street on campus were roped off, as were two lanes on Franklin Street, and perhaps others. As I was driving down Main Street, I managed to control my impulse to run over a VCU student who was running down the only lane not set aside for runners.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Product Dis/Placement, Game Edition

So I got the game The Lost Cases of Sherlock Holmes through RealArcade. Yes, I know, finding hidden pictures, not exciting; the little minipuzzles weren't bad, and I was expecting to have to think to solve the crimes, as opposed to some card thing.

Anyway, there's a little bonus game that you can unlock, which I did: it's basically Mastermind, but with a twist. Instead of just getting black/white pegs, the pegs are associated with a position. (So for instance if I do purple purple purple purple, I might get a correct symbol under #2 and #4.) Makes the game a little easier -- ok, be honest, a lot easier. The best part: There are six colors. You have twelve chances at guessing. Did no one test this bit of the game, or are these designers so incredibly hopeless at Mastermind that they actually needed twelve chances at the puzzle when it tells you the right answers as you go along?

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Online Dutch Open, Round 6

Ugh. We got through nine hands, which is good. I only won one, which is bad. Five of the hands were self-drawn, and I didn't get any of them, so I was in last place by a lot. In fact, my -119 took away all my hand points and then some. Finished with 10 table points (out of a possible 24), in 26th out of 52.

Online Dutch Open, Round 5

Today's theme was technical difficulties. People always miss -- there are 52 people on the tournament roster, and I saw 49 people at tables when the round started. Unfortunately, two of the missing were at my table, and the software was unable to handle it. So it took fifteen minutes for things to get sorted out, and we played awhile with just two. One of the absentees showed up at the end of the fourth hand, which was annoying, since the computer had just built him a large hand that we hadn't worried about, since the computer doesn't go out. Oh well. We got through nine hands (computers play fast, too); I only won two, but it was enough to win the table. 10 tournament points, 19th place.

Online Dutch Open, Round 4

We got through six hands this time; I won two, but Adrie won 3 (including a rather rare, at least in my experience, four shifted chows), so another second place. I'm now above 0 for tiebreaker points for the first time (at +8). Interestingly, after three of the four rounds so far, the person who won my table was in first place for the tournament after that round (exception being round 2). Probably won't happen in round 5, as the high score at the table coming in is 9, and the leaders are at 12. (Which is also interesting, in that 12 was the high score before the round started, too; all the 12's took fourths, and none of the 10s won their table.)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Online Dutch Open, Round 3

I feel a little better now. We finally got through eight hands. I won three, but so did another player, and I paid one too many times (three vs. two). So second place at the table, by eight points, climbing all the way up to 35th out of 52. It looks like a pretty even mix: only one player won all his games today (who coincidentally won this last table I was at); no one is at 0 points, and only two players at 1 point.

The goal for tomorrow is to continue the emphasis on fast that I was trying to do this last table (only switching to big-points towards the end). Granted, some of those hands in round 2, I'm not sure I have a complete hand if you let me keep all my discards.

Online Dutch Open, Round 2

Another six-hand game, except the last one was a draw. The final scores were 12, 7, -7, and -12, so extremely close. Yet again, I managed to be third place at the table -- the second place player won the first hand self-draw, then proceeded to pay everybody else once. Still no luck with hands; there were at least three hands with no particular things to recommend them: not enough pairs, not enough of a suit, no chows, and not enough of a knitted hand (or rather, often, I would have 147 147 147, which doesn't count). Getting kicked off (not losing my internet connection, but getting kicked off MT) didn't really hurt my round 4 hand too much. Still 38th out of 52, although my tiebreak situation is slightly better.

Online Dutch Open, Round 1

Good start, and then . We got through six hands in our 90 minutes; I won the first, paid the second, fourth, and sixth (the fourth was a self-draw, so everybody paid; the sixth I knew it was dangerous, and I got bit). Our table winner leads the pack (since he scored the most out of all the winners, with 175 points) -- he won three hands and I think they were all full flushes too (I tried to save the game but apparently I was not successful). My score of -73 was third place at the table (for one point); I am currently second-to-last on tiebreaks in that group.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Product Dis/Placement

Today's product: A&W Root Beer Floats.

The bottle says "Rich, Creamy, and so Delicious you won't believe that it comes in a bottle." Now, I have no idea what that last is supposed to mean---don't most delicious drinks (A&W Root Beer, perhaps?) come in a bottle? We must admit, it does come in a glass bottle. The novelty helps keep you from noticing that this normal-sized bottle only contains 11.5 fluid ounces, less than a normal pop can. And it is certainly rich: I was expecting some sort of root beer + cream soda mixture. But I was surprised: think 10.5 ounces of vanilla ice cream with 1 ounce of root beer, and then swap out the vanilla ice cream for just plain vanilla. (I'm tempted to look back at the bottle and see if it's marked with a proof content.) Definitely lots of vanilla flavor, and not a great deal of root beer flavor that I could detect. Also, it shares another feature of ice-cream drinks: definitely refreshing on the way down (if you don't gag on the vanilla), but it doesn't quench your thirst in any way.

Verdict: not a fan.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


I have a weather station thingy with a base and a remote unit; the base lives in the living room and the remote unit in my bedroom. I have my thermostat set at 75 (I know, you'll see in a minute). The temperature in my living room: 73.6 degrees. The temperature in my bedroom: 88.0 degrees. I don't think turning the thermostat down another couple degrees will help.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

French Open Round 6

Had some good hands -- hand 2 I had three kongs out, and hand 7 (which wasn't finished before time ran out) I had two kongs; alas, my opponents knew how to play defense. Another second place finish, another two points. Ended up with 10 (out of a theoretical maximum of 24), and maintained 29th place.

Online French Open Round 5

I think I only won one hand this round, but we had a player on a roll, and although the other two also won a hand or two, they were the ones who were feeding. So -- second place at the table for another two points, climbing back into 29th place.

Online French Open Round 4

I lost two mahjongs in this round, one when the person to my left claimed the same tile for mahjong, and one when I threw away a perfectly good mahjong self-picked (I missed a point, so thought it was only worth 7). Winning that hand probably wouldn't have got me out of third place, but it would have switched the top two players (since the eventual winner won that hand a couple picks later). One more point, so six total; now in 32nd place.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

OFMC Hands part 1

I've put a PDF of the hands from the east round of Round 1 of the OFMC up here. The rest of the hands will be put up, eventually.

Online French Open Round 3

Finally. Managed to win three hands in a row, and didn't feed anybody. The 8th game was such that pretty much whoever won, won the table. It ended up a wall game (everybody holding on to 1, 2, and 4 dots) -- since I was in the lead, I win. Highlights: winning games 3-5. Lowlights: having the power (and therefore the internet connection) go out in the middle of game 6. Fortunately, I got back before the end of the hand; unfortunately, the bot had destroyed my hand in the meantime. Oh well.

Five points for the first day puts me right in the middle of the pack -- 28th out of 52 (the five-point players are at 24 through 30, so my tiebreaker score isn't great).

Online French Open Round 2

Ugh. Just ugh. No tiles whatever; often I would just need two or three from the start, and never ever ever get them. We only got through six hands, and I fed four of them. Ugh.

Online French Open Round 1

Not a great start -- fed a 15-point hand in the first game, fed a 9-point hand in the third. I won hands 6 (all pungs, two concealed, double 7s) and 8 (with 0:01 on the clock, all types and a dragon) to end up in 3rd place, for 1 point. (If the last hand was worth two more points, I would have had second, since the second-place player fed me that hand.) Tried for several pure straights and missed them all.

Monday, June 02, 2008


CBS put out their newest game show last night, Million Dollar Password. Observations:
  1. Shortest game ever. With celebrity plugs, and explaining the rules, and contestant chat, the first front game still only lasted nine minutes total. I like that they tried to level out celebrity skill by giving more-or-less equal chances with both, giving and receiving. I wish there was still competition with one-clue-at-a-time and both teams playing. Granted, that would require building an actual set.
  2. Someone needs to shut the crowd up during timed rounds. No really. The one (or was there two?) times that a team got four out of five in the front game, the crowd drowned out their last five seconds leaving them with four out of five. And while we're talking about timers: all the previous incarnations of Password allowed the clue-giver to look at the first word before the clock started. Not only does that not happen here, but the clock starts a good second before the first word shows up.
  3. If you can't get "Ohio" in three clues, you don't even deserve the $25,000.
  4. The 1:30 timer in the bonus rounds will never come into play, I'm willing to bet money on that.
  5. I agree with Eric's decision to go for the quarter-million; I thought he could have gotten them too. Granted the clue I came up with for "corner" was "street" and "drugstore", which is obvious going backwards, but probably also wouldn't have gotten me any money.
  6. I wonder how many dry runs it took for them to realize that they were going to have to show the words for the last two spots or no one would ever try. Even double-or-nothing from $50K to $100K seems outrageous (to me, but I'm a coward), unless the celebrity and I are really clicking.
  7. I thought Neil Patrick Harris showed himself to be an excellent Password player, so good for him. (Rachael Ray: not embarrassing, and who knows how she would have done in the bonus rounds.)

Friday, May 23, 2008

This obscure cultural reference brought to you by The Price Is Right

Go to, watch the TPIR Million Dollar Spectacular for May 21 (specifically, the first pricing game), and ask yourself: "Does this girl know who Gracie Allen is?"

At least on the night time specials they still read mostly-real prize cues, although that does make the generic ones stand out more ("Enjoy your meal with soup!" -- no mention of Campbell's, etc.) I think it is kind of sad, though, that the daytime shows aren't even forty minutes long after you take out the commercials.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Ceremonial Turning Off of the Alarm Clock

Yesterday was the final installment of the latest go-round of medical math. They have improved significantly ever since they were permitted to use their calculators (nine-point jump from test one to test two, and a sixteen-point jump from test two to test three). They still have test four and a final exam, but I won't be there to watch (I still have to grade them, of course). We can only hope that they will find jobs with tolerant employers who will also allow them to use calculators. I think I convinced them yesterday that "mL/hr" requires dividing milliliters by hours and that "gtt/min" requires dividing drops by minutes; we'll find out.

After I got home, I had a brief ceremony turning off the "Saturday" part of the alarm (those seven-day alarm clocks are great) and then took a nap. Unfortunately, I had a dream involving teaching my nursing students the mathematics of 3D computer graphics. Fortunately, I was awoken by my phone ringing, although I was in no state to actually answer it. (For that matter, I was briefly awoken by the phone ringing this morning, too, but I think I fell asleep again before it finished.) I woke up for good about three-quarters of an hour ago, which means I will be useless on Monday, since I probably won't be able to get to sleep again until at least 4am. Fortunately, I just have a night class Monday.

Impulse purchase: I saw (and bought) a TI nSpire in WalMart the other day, the "handheld for math and science" or some such. TI is still pushing the CBL data collection tool, although this new version also apparently accepts electronic sensors from Vernier, so you can attach a temperature sensor or the like. I need to go through the included CD which contains the manual as well as classroom activities and videos (and that's just the version that you can buy at WalMart; I'm sure TI has additional instructor things on their website). Statistics starts in a week, you know.

You can't win: I recently purchased some Bounce dryer sheets. The instructions are to put a fresh sheet on top of your clothes in the dryer before you start. However, there's a big warning on the side of the box: "avoid direct contact with fabrics".

Historical research: A question I have been pondering recently: Why do root beer companies, and only root beer companies, make vanilla cream soda?

Friday, March 07, 2008

More numbers

I've hit a snag in my puzzle 5 parody. I also may do charts of performances at ACPT, 'cause they gave us the numbers and charts are cool. (I smell a final exam question here somewhere.)

Anyway, since this is all about me me me, more stats about my performance:
My performance on puzzle #1: 19-way tie for 1st.
My performance on puzzle #2: 6-way tie for 13th, 3 minutes behind the pace.
My performance on puzzle #3: 18-way tie for 30th, 4 minutes behind the pace.
My performance on puzzle #4: 44-way tie for 23rd, 2 minutes behind the pace (yes there's someone listed as having 2000 points on a maximum 1265-point puzzle... I took him out)
And then the wheels came off:
My performance on puzzle #5: alone in 52nd, one error + 11 minutes behind the pace.
My performance on puzzle #6: alone in 253rd, one error + 2 minutes behind the pace (a lot of people didn't screw up puzzle 6)
My performance on puzzle #7: 8-way tie for 241st, two errors + 11 minutes behind the pace.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Decline and Fall

ACPT by the numbers:
My position after puzzle 1: #1 (a 19-way tie)
My position after puzzle 2: #13
My position after puzzle 3: #13
My position after puzzle 4: #14
My position after puzzle 5: #25
My position after puzzle 6: #37
My position after puzzle 7: #64

Error on puzzle 5, silly error on puzzle 6, one of each on puzzle 7. Grrr. I have started practicing as of today.

Also: Eric Berlin (see sidebar!) has the Friday night puzzles for sale, which you want. I don't care who you are, you want them. 'Kay? As honorary captain of my team, by virtue of being the one who knew what was going on (I was teamed with two rookies, who understood crossword puzzles, but not funky crossword puzzles, and who didn't always read the directions at the top of the puzzles), I still have ours, but you can't have them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Things I Would Not Have Expected

One of the new features of StamfordBrooklyn that slipped under the radar was the new $30 fee to watch the finals. It got added late (I don't think it was there when I registered, or maybe it got added between when I printed out the form I thought I was going to have to mail and when I ended up doing Paypal), and I quite frankly refused to believe that anyone would actually spend $30 to watch nine people doing crosswords with big silly earphones on.

According to Will via Stella, nearly 100 people have signed up.

I blog corrected.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I'm Sure There's a Reasonable Explanation For This

I just can't think of it quite yet: License plate on a Pontiac Vibe: "3SMLUV".

There was a "family portrait" of a stick-figure mother, father, and daughter on the back, if that helps.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Why Yes, I Am Pathetic

I decided to set myself a goal for today (Monday's crossword comes out at 6): to do my best at being the first one done. I started hitting refresh on the page at 5:58, and although the time sucks:Yay me.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Oh that wacky New York Times

I keep hearing about how the Times has lots of very good editors, you'd think at least one of them would have killed this story before it actually got printed. And it came out on a Thursday! I could almost understand if it came out on a Sunday -- there's no way to actually fill all those pages with meaningful information -- but surely there was something happening on Thursday?

The advantage of the crossword solving applet is that if you get to a cross you don't know -- such as cuchifrito crossing orfe -- you can systematically type letters in until the applet tells you that you are correct. Of course, if you didn't look at a previous crossing and so have exacet instead of exocet, well, you won't look at that until you've gotten all the way down to Z.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

I'm in Trouble Now

My local Domino's now offers on-line ordering. (I put in order #14 yesterday.) Their "pizza tracking" (think UPS/FedEx tracking, for pizza) didn't work though.

Friday, January 18, 2008

It's an Epiphany!

Or at least, that's the default web browser that comes with GNOME these days.

Yes, my new laptop (after the last one, I spent the extra $20 or whatever to get the super-long-life-battery) is now dual-booted in WinXP and Debian 4. At first, Debian couldn't understand the graphics card or the built-in wireless jobbie. I still haven't figured out the wireless yet, but that's because I haven't tried, since I still have a wire. It took quite a bit of mess to get the graphics driver installed (apparently they haven't yet got a precompiled version for Linux 2.6, or something, so I had to compile it myself, which required having the kernel source code installed. And for whatever reason, aptitude never installed things the first time around -- I never did get the hang of it).

And better yet, I've been working on this battery since 2 o'clock or so, and it's now 5; and it says it's still at half full and good for another 2.5 hours. When you consider that my previous laptop lasted 25 minutes at full charge, well, I'm already giddy.

UPDATE Sunday afternoon: Wireless working, and I think I've got it set up to always turn on. (I know, typing one whole command each time is a heck of a pain.) The sound was easier than I expected, since they've got a tool for that now. And I've got my Windows data mounted (read-only, but that's ok; I've got the Linux side read-only under Windows too). It took 135 minutes or so to get most of my files from old laptop yesterday.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I did another crostic today, which is posted in the puzzles place. There's one answer that I think is a little iffy, but. I also updated my perl script for automatically generating the grids, getting rid of all the appearances of the magic number 19 (it is now the variable $boxesPerRow), and at the same time changed its value to 21 (a wider grid fitting the layout I print them with). I also (I hope!) finalized my LaTeX template for making the puzzle pages (both in terms of the font selection and the layout). There's still some copy-and-pasting going on; the perl script doesn't know anything about how much space the clues will take on the page, so the column split is done by hand. So all that's posted for anyone to look at (should anyone want to, which I can't think who that would be).

I did that partly as practice, as my arm was starting to ache after five or so puzzles in the book. It appears to have helped, as I'm feeling pretty good about a time of 10:45; especially since I'm pretty sure Stella&Bruce (I'm ashamed to admit I've forgotten which one does the fill--I think Bruce? but I don't remember) made a couple of those words up.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

It Is On

I have my plane ticket to StamfordBrooklyn, and my hotel room reserved. Eventually, I will actually register for the ACPT, but they're not taking registrations yet?

Saturday-levels are still my downfall; the left side of today's NYT just wasn't working and required a couple look-this-up. Plus yesterday's ONTHELOOSE/ONTHEHOUSE (for the clue "Free" -- spoiler! Oh.) debacle didn't help, but at least I got there by myself, even if five minutes off the pace.

Fortunately, I have 490 Sunday puzzles to do still, out of the Supersized Sunday collection. (I had made a vow to myself that, except for Merl, I would never buy puzzle books that weren't spiral-bound. Of course, I can't hold my family to that for Christmas. Fortunately, my good Parker pen only needs a light touch, making it possible to do puzzle #4, for instance, which sits a good three inches off the table when you're doing it.)

A Man With One Novelty Clock Knows What Time It Is

A man with two novelty clocks is never sure. (Although so far they agree.)