tablesaw: An indigenous American crucified on a cross crowned by a bald eagle. In the background stands a Mesoamerican temple. (América Tropical)
Saturday: I went with [personal profile] temptingcuriosity to LACMA for the Drawing Surrealism exhibit. The raw imagination on display reminded me very strongly of the underground indie aesthetic championed by Anna Anthropy in "Rise of the Videogame Zinesters." There's a lot of interesting connections to be made there, with the Dadaists and surrealists using games to promote automatism in creation, the use of collage (reusing sprites), and even a possible connection to the Futurist obsession with machine art.

Sunday: Virtually attended the planning meeting for the MIT Mystery Hunt next weekend. It's always good to see everyone, even the camera was mostly on [personal profile] tahnan doing his one-knee-on-a-chair pose.

Monday: I said goodbye to the Xmas tree immediately after the Epiphany. That almost never happens.

Tuesday: Made it out to a boardgaming night for the first time in a while. Played Chaos in the Old World to completion for the first time, and actually eked out a win. I've had a hard time with this game before, because the extremely asymmetrical roles can make it hard to figure out how to do things, but I finally pushed through. Still not entirely my game, but I won't be so quick to avoid it, either. I also got to dazzle everyone with word knowledge when playing and generally refereeing Bananagrams.

Wednesday: My main glasses broke a little while ago, and my backups are threatening to quit too, so I scheduled a new eye exam. I also made a quick jump into Sherman Oaks to pick up last year's prescription, just in case I need to make an emergency run to Lens Crafters for a cheap replacement. Having two hours to kill, I went to one of my favorite restaurants, Toshi Sushi. It was a great evening, as I was joined at the sushi bar by three lovely women who over-ordered and were pleased to hear of my birthday so that they had an excuse to foist some of the food onto me.

A cameraphone picture of a plate of sushi, all slightly different, with an assortment of fish, rice, sauces and toppings. They all taste delicious.

Heading to bed now. More birthday stuff later.
tablesaw: A sketch of me talking and smiling. (Personable)
I avoid doing anything on Facebook, which includes letting people post on my wall, which has made some people angry at me on my birthday, when they want to leave birthday wishes. Consider this my birthday wall, or send a note on my Twitter [twitter.com profile] sawofthetable.
tablesaw: A man comes home frome work, his hat reads "Crossword Makers Inc" (Crossword Makers Inc)
It's day thirteen of Learned League Season 55. With 12 matches behind me, twelve before me, and one currently pending, I thought I'd take a look at what's been going on.

Learned League is an online trivia contest that features head-to-head competition: everybody gets the same questions on a given day, but you are matched up with a single player, and your success is measured solely against theirs. To make it more interesting, you decide on what points your opponent will receive for correct answers (and vice versa), so even if you answer fewer questions, you might still win on points, if the ones you got right were the ones your opponent thought were the hardest.

(More info: Learned League FAQ)

Normally, players are grouped into "rundles" based on performance in previous seasons, so you can expect that the folks you are facing are at about your same level of triviality. Rookies, however, get lumped together in a big groups, resulting in battles of widely different levels. And this year, I'm a rookie.

Numbers Racket


Here are the stats for my rundle (and here are my stats, registration required). I'm currently in 11th place of 30 with a record of 7 wins, 4 losses, and 1 tie; but at my height a few days ago, I was in 4th. In the two matches since then, I've been really unlucky (on Friday, I could only get one answer right, and received zero points for it), but it looks like I'll be up against softer opponents for a little bit, so I should be able to make up more ground.

One thing that's been bugging me is that I've got a slightly-harder-than-average draw, especially in this first half. There are 25 matches, but 30 players in my rundle, leaving five people I won't face. And all five of those are currently ranked in the bottom half. And I've mostly been facing harder opponents thus far. (I am currently tied at #1 for "Correct Answers Allowed" which is a general indicator of how strong one's opponents have been.) You may notice I've been entranced by statistics, particular. Every day, I import the updated stats into an Excel sheet, so I can see my past and future matches color-coded against the median.

Similarly Erratic Results


After two days of competition, I tweeted:
My first [twitter.com profile] LearnedLeague 6 pack comes after a painful loss on day 1. I expect similarly erratic results from now on.
It's turned out to be a good prediction. A 6-pack is, of course, getting all the questions correct on a given day, a relatively rare occurrence in all but the higher echelons of the league. But beyond that, well, see above.

A lot of my success comes from managing to craft good guesses based on the context of clues, rather than being certain of particular knowledge. It can be frustrating, especially when a guess (or two! (or three!!)) goes slightly off. When I first played a live version of this game, it was against a group of pretty serious folks (the NPL), and I left feeling like nothing was in my control, which put me off of the league for a while. But the prospect of settling into a nice matched group is pretty appealing, so I'm eager to finish this season.

Play Along at Home


The LL website has been slowly developing, and now it's really well designed for playing along even if you're not registered. After the day's match is over, the website is updated with the questions and how well all the players did, with the answers concealed by a script. Here are the first day's questions (you can reach other days by using the "Match Day 2" arrow near the top of the page, or by choosing from the calendar on the main page). Individual questions have their own pages with detailed breakdowns of accuracy, the most common wrong answers, and the "best wrong answers." For example, here is Question 3 of Day 9:
The work of what 19th c. English engineer and mathematician on what he called a Difference Engine and Analytical Engine, which are considered today among the first mechanical computers, has earned him the moniker "Father of the Computer"?
Forty-eight percent of players answered correctly; the most common wrong answer was "Charles Turing" at 11%, and the best wrong answers were Charles Widmore, Dr. Emmett Brown, Sir William Computer, and Sir Nigel Speakandspell.

So far, some of my favorite questions have been:
Hey girl, who is the only former MMC (Mickey Mouse Club) Mouseketeer to be nominated for an Academy Award for acting? (Match Day 2, Question 6)

Identify this musical group. [Image] (Match Day 10, Question 2; be sure to look at the best wrong answers)

In the mid to late 1960s, author Arthur Hailey published two simply named novels, which each explored the operation and politics of a single specific location/establishment (different in each novel), and both of which inspired film adaptations (and one a television series). Name both novels. (Match Day 12, Question 6)
Previous seasons are available for review, too, though as you go back further, the display interface gets rougher. There are also themed "minileagues" and one-day competitions that go on between main seasons. One of the things that really excited me about joining the League was kibitzing on [livejournal.com profile] thedan's hilarious collection of Before & After trivia, where each question contains two parts that merge together. (Ex: "Name the 1960s comedian who was famously convicted for obscenity based on live performances in which he demonstrated his original martial art, Jeet Kune Do." Answer: "Lenny Bruce Lee.") And if you know the answer to this question, you are officially an awesome person:
Name the fictional game show on which the host (played by Bill Murray) asked contestants to determine which of Lorenzo Lamas and Ricardo Montalban is more like WNYX station owner Jimmy James (as portrayed in his poorly translated autobiography).
tablesaw: One machete is raised, a host more rise to meet it. (From the "Machete" trailer in "Grindhouse".) (Brown Power)
For me, a lot of this weekend was logic puzzles.

The United States Puzzle Championship was last weekend, and a lot of my friends participated. I usually don't, for a lot of reasons. The biggest, of course, is that I am generally working during the time of the test. The other reason is that some of my friends (like [livejournal.com profile] motris and [livejournal.com profile] thedan) are the top solvers, so I am very aware of how far away from that level of competition I am.

But [livejournal.com profile] motris makes these competitions seem so enticing. I headed over to Logic Masters India, which regularly runs logic-puzzle competitions, to print out some of their past sets. Then I decided to take part in this month's Sprint Test.

I came in at 114th out of 211 submitted solutions. Which is about par for me. I've also been playing more or less daily at Croco-Puzzle, a German site that offers two timed puzzles per day, tied into a robust rating system (described by [livejournal.com profile] motris in this post). Your rating system runs from 0 to 3000, with 1500 representing the median solving time. After building up my ranking slowly over the course of the year, I'm starting to level off. I struggled for about a month to get a ranking above 250th, and I worked all summer to get from a rating of 1300 to 1400. My goal is to inch myself over that median.

This is, thus far, the post I planned to write. The title of this post was going to be "That's Why They Call Me the Middle of the Pack," because that's pretty solidly where I am on these puzzle competitions. It's still a pretty good showing, considering that the folks who take the time to participate in these competitions self-select to the pretty hardcore anyway.

But then, this happened:

A screenshot of the Croco-Puzzle.com high scores list. Tablesaw is #1 for Arukone.

Yup, that's me at number 1! With [livejournal.com profile] motris down at 17th place as "mars," and USPC and Sprint Test winner MellowMelon at 12! And that's a thirteen-second lead on #2!

It's just for today. And there's still thirteen hours for people things to change. But still, for now, I'm the leader of the pack.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
After extensive Jedi NPL training, it's sometimes strange to play games with other people. Take yesterday's game of Pictionary using player-submitted clues.
Player:
OK, the category is historical event, but I don't even know anything about this.

Tablesaw:
The Defenestration of Prague!

Player:
...

Player:
We still get the point even though I didn't draw anything, right?
tablesaw: A trial sign ("This trail is OPEN") against a blue sky in Los Angeles's Griffith Park. (Hiking (Open Trails))
Because apparently my profile requires a login.

After almost seven years, I've now found over 200 geocaches. Here are pretty pictures with numbers about it, under a cut of course.

Could there be something hiding underneath this? )
tablesaw: A redshirt says, "I'm just here to pay off my Academy loans anyway." (Academy Loans)
As of today, all of my student loans are paid off. To make the point clearer, I paid off this month's credit card bill last night.

Today, I have zero debt.
tablesaw: Paul, who is a ghost, declares this to be "Booooring!" (Booooring)
Going in the oven now.

I'll update with the results in a bit.
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
Games:
Main Program:
  • Fair or Foul: Completed with Snackcakes (of DASH)
  • Three on a Match: 23/30
  • Vowelled Sets: 16/18
  • Flat-Solving Competition: 1st place in pairs solving (with [livejournal.com profile] cramerica)
  • Lots of Luck: 72/78, 2d in Pop Culture, possibly 2d overall (with Reign, Btnirn, [livejournal.com profile] jangler_npl, and Trick).
  • Cryptic Crossword Competition (Final Score): 100 pts in 62 minutes. 2d in California division (behind [livejournal.com profile] rpipuzzleguy) and 6th or 7th overall.

Walkarounds:
  • Experience Music Project & Science Fiction Museum with Wraavr and Ucaoimhu

Handouts:
  • Scandal by [livejournal.com profile] thedan: Took me far too long to understand what was going on.
  • Northwest Airlines by [livejournal.com profile] jangler_npl: Very nice finale.
  • 56-Across by Dandr: Solved on light rail.
  • Wonderland & Pacific Northwest by Ucaoimhu: Solved on plane.
  • Transsubstitutions by [livejournal.com profile] tahnan: Completed except for subtitution cipher (because the cipher is long)

Alcohol:
  • Something from Two Beers, I think.
  • Mac & Jack (imperial size!)

Stolen from Bar:
  • One beer glass

Sneaked Back into Bar:
  • One beer glass, plus tip

Con Photo:
The attendees of the National Puzzlers' League Convention in Seattle. The first two rows are very large and clear while the other hundred or so attendees look like tiny floating heads.
  • Five minutes late, way the hell in the back. Not really happy with the uneven composition of the picture.

Confiscated by TSA
  • 3 containers of yogurt

Listened to on iPod
  • 3 episodes of Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!
  • The Archandroid by Janelle Monáe on continuous loop about 15 times

Tally

Jul. 3rd, 2010 01:35 pm
tablesaw: Close crop on Brock Samson's I'm-gonna-kill-you face. (Brock Samson)
Games:
Handouts:
Miniganzas:
  • Cold Storage: 5thish place with [livejournal.com profile] hahathor and Aleph.

Alcohol:
  • Alaskan Amber
  • Pyramid Heveweizen
  • Something in a jug from [livejournal.com profile] hahathor
  • Fruity hotel happy-hour drink

Main program:
  • Lexagon Mixer: 58(?)
  • True/False Trivia: Made into the finals once, advanced no further.
  • RighTangles by [livejournal.com profile] ericberlin: Completed
  • Cryptic crossword competition: Completed before time over (62 min?)
  • Whirled Cup: (Algeria) two wins, two losses.
  • Hidden Contest: Assisted completion (main work by [livejournal.com profile] tahnan, Qoz and Vroo)

Things Forgotten:
  • Camera
  • Earplugs
  • Clipboard
tablesaw: The Mexican Murder Rock from <cite>Warehouse 13</cite> (Mexican Murder Rock!)
Maya Hieroglyph workshop is shaping up to be awesome. Today's lecture was a survey of the history of decipherment, which was a pretty cool story. I may put up the notes I took.

I took the metro/bus to CSULA, which was fun. I sat in front of two women talking about the tricks teases they dealt with during the day. Less fun was the ride home. Due to construction, several buses weren't running, and none of the operational lines were stopping at the very nice covered bus stop. Oh, did I mention that it was raining now?

Still don't regret the public transport, but I'll be driving tomorrow.



Also, over at [livejournal.com profile] whedonland, I won second place in an icon contest. That's pretty surprising. I'd basically resigned myself to never winning anything ever for icons, because my own taste is pretty far out of step with the rest of the people playing. (It's not so much that I never win; it's that nothing I vote for ever seems to win.) But I still love doing them, and there've been some great things to work with.

The challenge this time was to make a monochrome (black-and-white) icon, with pretty much no other restrictions. Here's mine:

Captain Malcolm Reynolds pushes open the bay doors of Serenity for the first time.

When I was thinking of black-and-white in the Whedonverse, this was the image I thought of. The second thing I thought of was this:

Vampire Hunter Holtz sees the world in black and white.

(And because my love of secondary and tertiary characters leaves me terminally out of step, I still think the Holtz one is far more awesome.)



What's more, Psych just did a mini pseudo crossover with ReGenesis!
tablesaw: Sketch of an antique tablesaw (Antigua)
Normally, I don't write about my work outside of locked posts, but something happened recently that's big enough that I need to make an exception.

Last week I got a promotion at work. I'm still going to be doing general proofreading work, but I'm also going to be in charge of a bunch of new administrative functions and other complicated stuff. The position and the system are new, so it's not entirely clear yet.

More important than that, I'm getting a significant raise.

And more important than that, I'm getting a new schedule.

After over eight years working on the graveyard shift, I'm finally going to be working daytime hours again: 8:30–5, Saturday–Wednesday.

(Yeah, I know, working weekends is a bitch, but I still think it's a step up all around.)

I start the new schedule on Sunday, and the new system gets started on Monday.

All in all, I think this merits my first poll on Dreamwidth (Open ID accounts can still respond.)

Poll #157 Promotional Consideration provided by . . . YOU!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 15


How awesome is this promotion?

View Answers

Very
1 (6.7%)

Totally
3 (20.0%)

Incredibly
3 (20.0%)

Spectacularly
8 (53.3%)

Meh
0 (0.0%)

What should I do in Downtown LA during my new hour-long lunch break in my first week on the day shift?

What should I do in the evenings after work in my first week on the day shift?

What should I do on my first "weekend" (Thursday & Friday) after my first week on the day shift?

What should I do with my first post-raise paycheck to celebrate (around May 15)?

How's the Dreamwidth poll working out?

View Answers

Okay, I guess.
6 (40.0%)

Totally awesome.
4 (26.7%)

Better than I would have thought.
2 (13.3%)

It's a pain.
1 (6.7%)

How the hell should I know, I'm just answering questions here.
5 (33.3%)

The crossposter screwed it up on LJ in unexpected way.
0 (0.0%)

I wasn't able to answer the poll on Dreamwidth at all.
1 (6.7%)

No really, I wasn't able to post, and this response is not a paradox at all.
2 (13.3%)

I was hoping that the results would be private so I could tell you a titillating secret.
1 (6.7%)

Meh
2 (13.3%)

Anything else?

tablesaw: -- (Default)
Last night, while walking to the Metro, there was a crew setting up some equipment in front of the Pantages. I thought it might be some filming.

When I got out of the Metro again this morning, there was a full stage up, and streets blocked off in all directions. The entire intersection was blocked off with gates and fences. I smiled at some security guards, and then walked straight through anyway. I wasn't stopped until I tried to get out. The security guard tried to give me a speech about how I wasn't allowed through the gate and I had to go around, but I when I pointed out that this course of action would send keep me in the supposedly secure area even longer, she let me through.

I asked what was going on, and she said it was a concert. I asked how long it was going to be up, and she said until midnight. Which is hell for me, since it's going to be blocking off my route to the Metro. By tonight, they'll actually care about the security, and there'll be hundreds of concert-goers milling around to boot.

The inconvenience of the road closure—not to mention the thought of a very loud street show while I try to sleep—was all that I cared about. I went home grumpy.

It wasn't until I told [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan about the concert that I even bothered to find out who was playing:


Depeche Mode

I'm going to bed now, when I wake up, I'll be listening to a live performance by Depeche Mode coming through my window.

Winnar.

Sep. 26th, 2005 10:53 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)
I've been playing around with image programs, making icons. I won a prize.

Imaginatory )

Behold.

Jun. 11th, 2004 11:39 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Now, it is I who have the new gmail account! And lo, it is connected to my livejournal account. E-maileth me, for sooth!

(Delivery of sooth is not guaranteed and void where prohibited.)
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Most of the briefing was just atmosphere patter, nothing that wasn't included in the documents I mentioned in the last entry. I did field some questions though to straighten out how things would work.

Something I had neglected to put in the documents was that everyone was on a single team, working together. This was one of the most important changes, I felt, from last year and from other hunts I've seen run like this. One of my goals was to make the hunt more accessible to people who would just be dipping their toes into the water, as it were. I think that a competitive atmosphere hinders that, since dabblers feel they need to get out of the way of the true competitors or get confused about who they are supposed to be helping. Definitely no complaints, and everyone worked well together.

For the first step, everyone was to collect thirty-two eggs hidden in and around my house. They were divided into four colors: red, yellow, blue, and green. Inside each of the eggs was a clue. Taking the eight clues of each color would suggest an object in or around my house that would contain an intercepted communique between the alien invaders. That communique could be solved to lead to a location that was within a five-minute-walking radius of my house.

The first four communiques related to the first four steps of the aliens' plan. Step 1: Gather Information. Step 2: Draw Crop Circles. Step 3: Land Spacecraft. Step 4: Kill All Humans. By foiling each of these steps, the agents learned more about the final step of the plan. Step Five, the Alien Genetiforming Dance, was a complicated process the aliens were using to adapt their DNA so that they could safely live on their conquered planet. If the agents could follow the instructions of the Alien Genetiforming Dance, they could find the birthplace of the aliens (and the berthplace of their ship) and save the earth.

I'm going to tackle each step/puzzle separately, talking about how it was supposed to run, how it did run, how it was designed, problems that arose, and what I learned. But first, I'll talk about the first eggs. They were pretty simple, and they were all found fairly quickly. Last year, I was singularly devious with my egg hiding, but this year I decided to ease up. One reason was that I had used up lots of the good spots last year, and I didn't want it to be a game of Husker Du for the returning players. Also, last year was very egg-finding based. This year, I had more to go on, so I thought that easier eggs would speed things along. I avoided putting eggs in unlikely containers, and instead I opted to place them in locations that were hidden unless you were standing in a particular spot.

Sadly, the egg that I hid the best did not survive. With great care, I had managed to wedge a yellow egg in between the citrus fruits on the tree in my back yard. The colors blended perfectly. But, just as the guests were arriving, I noticed that the cool canyon breeze had interceded, and my favorite egg was now lying exposed on the patio cement. Briefly, I considered tape, but thought better of it. Maybe next year.

Also, two eggs went unfound. They weren't noticed, so much, because not all eight of the clues were necessary for each color. One was in my hot pot (as I discovered when I went to make tea the next morning), the other was on the window sill behind my sink.

The easy eggs, and the accessible first step were a big help too, since even my parents, whom I thought would be hanging back, found it easy to get involved merely by wandering around the premises peeking around corners. Of course, as usual, the star egg sniffers were the youngest players, my cousins Maria and Maggie, who went at things with full force.

When about 80% of the eggs had been found, people began to trickle into my living room to start opening them. Pretty soon, the agents were on their way to finding the puzzling alien messages.
tablesaw: "Tablesaw Basics" (Manual)
I'm just a bit off on my sleep, a result of the fabulous time had with [livejournal.com profile] cramerica, Artistry, Bartok and [livejournal.com profile] wild_magnolia on Sunday's Super Bowl party. Need to get some real sleep soon, since I'm twitching to stay awake. Played a little Text Twist, but decided to stop when the score rounded off.

More soon, dammit.

WedNYTX: 7:30.
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Definitely not 'loot.' )

I may have missed some stuff, since I'm writing this from work. I'll edit from home if necessary.

SunNYTX: 20:30. SunLATX: 18:30

Update.

Dec. 11th, 2003 11:40 am
tablesaw: -- (Default)
Looks like the trial-account plan was scrapped. I'd like to think I played a small part in making that happen.

Profile

tablesaw: -- (Default)
Tablesaw Tablesawsen

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