tablesaw: "This sounds like Waiting for Spy Godot" (Hunt)
On Thursday, I came home from work and suddenly felt exhausted. I collapsed into bed feeling nauseous, and later in the evening, I was threw up. My wife's had a crud for a while, and I was worried I caught whatever she had; but I bounced back quickly over the next two days, so I think it must have been more of a food-poisoning thing.

I woke up on Friday in time to watch the Hunt Kickoff for a Dungeons and Dragons theme, Monsters et Manus. I kept expecting to fall asleep again, but the puzzles were fantastic and kept me going all day. I was still kinda weak, but staying in bed solving puzzles on a laptop was just my speed.

This year, there were a more than the usual number of puzzles where I came in after other folks had done most of the work and spotted the answer phrase. I did it for our first meta, The Despondent Dynast, and then our second meta, The Fighter. I also did it, amazingly, for our last meta, The Broken Bridge. After explaining my reasoning on why we should try this guess while we still had clues going, I wrote:
Tablesaw-XPS (Sat 23:12:55): Not the strongest, but I wanted to throw it out.
Tablesaw-XPS (Sat 23:13:02): It's not the weakest either.
Tablesaw-XPS (Sat 23:13:22): Anyway, I have to get pizza and didn't want it bugging me.
Tablesaw-XPS (Sat 23:13:27): TABLESAW OUT!
After getting pizza and returning to chat, the team was on its way to the final interaction and runaround.

Puzzles where the opposite happened included Boston Burgers (where I got tripped up on the extraction), and Changing Rooms (an excellent cryptic-clue based puzzle that I just started falling asleep during). I'm most proud of my gruntwork for Tricky Wicket, which turned out to be one of the most difficult puzzles in the Hunt. I spotted the gimmick and did a lot of work getting all the data collected, but was very grateful when I called in some teammates and one of them spotted the important messages I had missed. (She also was able to use the a key technique correctly when I was flailing).

The Hunt was really incredible, all around. Recommended puzzles are:
tablesaw: A man comes home frome work, his hat reads "Crossword Makers Inc" (Crossword Makers Inc)
The MIT Mystery Hunt was this weekend. I solved from home with IIF, and had a great time. The hunt ran super long, though, which means that not only is there lots to say, there's also a lot to still recover from.

I'm going to collect my thoughts (probably after the puzzles are back online), but in the meantime I really hope that this comment isn't going to set the tone for responses from this year's creators, Manic Sages.
On the other hand, walking around and seeing different teams and contrasting their approaches to the Hunt was quite interesting. Even other top teams like Death From Above (in the lead through most of the Hunt) and the eventual winners John Galt (second up till Sunday before establishing a convincing lead) were all smiles and obviously enjoying themselves when I visited. Then I got to Luck, and some of you (not all) seemed to be locked into a grim death march, desperate to get to the end.

I know Luck really wants to win, and we probably made it impossible for a mid-sized team this year. But keeping morale up should help your odds of being the victor in future years... :)
I'm too punchy (as in, wanting to punch that commenter) to adequately explain why, so I'm just leaving it here, because it's my blog.

I think IIF had a fantastic showing this year (waiting to see more when stats come out), and I hope that next year I can finally make it back to Boston (and complain about how cold it is).
tablesaw: A man comes home frome work, his hat reads "Crossword Makers Inc" (Crossword Makers Inc)
I just finished this month's puzzle test at Logic Masters India. This month's Puzzle Marathon was a different format. Instead of setting aside a few hours and trying to solve as many puzzles in the time limit, there were ten large puzzles that could be solved at any time over the course of nine days. Solving any puzzle under an hour net some bonus points, but any puzzle correctly completed is worth a base amount of points, no matter when it's finished.

I did okay. My best puzzle was the Loop the Loops, which is a combination of two of my best puzzle types. But I had some catastrophic failures on the Star Battle and the "Small Neighbors." Still, because of the way the way the puzzle was structured, I followed through and eventually got them entered correctly. In fact, because of thes coring system, I was able to take breaks to recompose myself. After trying to solve the Small Neighbors puzzle after work, I ended up getting on the Metro and finishing it on the ride home.

I knew that the worst for me would be the last two puzzles, a hard Samurai Sudoku and a hard Kakuro. The sudoku gave me a lot of trouble, but eventually I worked through it after a few hours (with a sleep break in between). At that point, I'd earned all the points I could from the test—the scoring discarded the worst score, and since I knew that I wouldn't be able to solve a large, hard sudoku in an hour that it was just going to be the base points, like several others. Still, there was a special notice appearing on the site for people who solved all ten, so I figured I'd push through, for completeness' sake.

That was one of the most grueling puzzling experiences in my life.

Kakuro is my least favorite puzzle type. I hate the number of combinations that have to be constantly checked and rechecked, especially at harder levels. And this puzzle inevitably magnified everything about Kakuro that I hate. And that's in addition to the portions I had to do over a few times because of fatigue errors. Total time for one Kakuro: 22 hours and 50 minutes of nothing but pain.

Okay, admittedly, a significant portion was food, sleep, talking on the phone, playing Batman: Arkham City and working. But still—PAIN.

I guess that's a point in favor of the normal contest type: I can ignore the Kakuro and know I'm not losing any points.

Killed

Jan. 10th, 2012 10:15 am
tablesaw: A man comes home frome work, his hat reads "Crossword Makers Inc" (Crossword Makers Inc)
How did I get so far in my puzzling life without learning that numbers can't be repeated in a single cage in a Killer Sudoku?
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: A man comes home frome work, his hat reads "Crossword Makers Inc" (Crossword Makers Inc)
This puzzle was posted by [livejournal.com profile] jangler_npl two weeks ago. I wanted to repost it for a larger audience, since the original was under a friends lock.
What unusual feature do all of these songs have in common? If you know the answer, feel free to show it by posting additional examples (if you can think of any). There's at least one other Paul Simon song which works. (And technically, the Pretenders song probably needs an asterisk.)

"1979"—Smashing Pumpkins
"Against All Odds"—Phil Collins
"American Tune"—Paul Simon
"Big Yellow Taxi"—Joni Mitchell
"Brass In Pocket"—The Pretenders
"No Rain"—Blind Melon
"Sloop John B"—The Beach Boys
The original post inspired several additions, some of which will be listed in the first comment to this post, as additional references.

GIP

Mar. 1st, 2011 11:09 pm
tablesaw: Burton Guster says 'Beer' in a seriously manly fashion, man. Because it's a man thing. Beer. (Beer)
I now have an icon for booze-related things. Made by [personal profile] entwashian!



Also, I made one for puzzle constructing, based on last week's Buttersafe.



I also updated my Duck Hunt icon, based "Schadenfreude Dog" from Aled Lewis's Videogames vs. Real Life series.

tablesaw: Futurama's Robot Devil, El Diablo Robotico (El Diablo Robotico)
When I got my new computer and started learning of the glories that is Steam, they were in the middle of some massive year-end sales. I bought a bunch of games, then, many on impulse. The impulsiest of impulses was Everyday Genius: SquareLogic

I know, I know. If you're one of the puzzle connoisseurs, you're shaking your head. It's calculodoku (presented in the New York Times as Kenken), which isn't the most thrilling puzzle form (unless it's being done with extreme care, as people like [livejournal.com profile] motris give it). I wouldn't have given it a second look, except that the sale had reduced it's price from $9.99 to $1.50. And since I was already having fun with Croco-Puzzle, all I had to ask myself was "Do I think I can get a buck fifty's worth of puzzle out of this churned-out schlock.

My answer was, actually, yes. Particularly when I saw, from the screenshots that some of the levels featured twin grids, where the numbers in one grid were the same as the numbers in the other. That's a form of the puzzle that can provide some interesting twists, but that can be hard to do on paper because of the extra bookkeeping involved. So it went onto the list with other, actually good games, like the LucasArts Adventure Pack.

And I played through it, whiling away the time with the mindless puzzles. There were certainly things to like, there's a little box that appears and shows possible combinations that you can choose from, which keeps you from having to redo the math. (On the other hand, it's not always precisely accurate, though it rarely precludes answers that could be valid, except during hidden cages.) Although there were an absurd number of computer generated puzzles, you could skip most of them, by only solving a representative puzzle of each type. And the error checking is a bit harsh (a stray click can kill your streak of error-free puzzles) but makes solving difficult puzzles more relaxing, since the game can automatically dial you back to the place you made your first mistake, if you want.

After unlocking everything, I thought I might try to get the achievement for solving all the puzzles in one "location" (meaning they're generally of the same type). I went to the easiest level (the first "region" is all 1-4 puzzles), and looked for the location with the fewest puzzles. That turned out to be the "hidden cages" location with 200 (yeah, computer generated all right). None were really thrilling, but a nice way to kill time mindlessly while IMing with folks, or watching Hulu or Netflix.

Until this.

Now, I didn't have a great puzzle-solving day today. My Croco-puzzle times were crap because I missed a lot of obvious things. So I could just be missing something terrible obvious here. But it looks, to me like I was able to find a valid solution to this puzzle that is being treated as an error by the game. I'd love to write an angry e-mail to the creators about shoddy product, but . . . I keep thinking I'm missing something. So below the cuts, I've provided screenshots of the puzzle, and my proposed solution.

Shallows 118, original state )

Shallows 118, my solution )

Please, puzzlers, either vindicate me or knock some sense into me. I can't stand the not knowing.
tablesaw: Futurama's Robot Devil, El Diablo Robotico (El Diablo Robotico)
What have I been doing on computers instead of updating my DW?
  • Croco-Puzzle.de. A website that provides two logic puzzles every day, with a complex and rewarding rating system. It is entirely in German, but [personal profile] chris has written up an English walkthrough. [livejournal.com profile] motris has also written about his experiences with the site. I'm currently ranked 349 out of 666, and you can see a graph of my recent progress.
  • Tumblr. I have a Tumblr account now, because it was getting to a point where creating RSS feeds for the ones I liked was getting cumbersome. I'm at ItsTheSawoftheTable.tumblr.com. It's got some stuff on it, I guess. Nothing too consistent. I might try to fill it up with some stuff.
  • Tagging Old Entries. Hey, remember that time I was assaulted by an actor of a show I was stage-managing? Yeah, that's why I have a violence tag now.
  • Picasa Faces. I've loaded all my old photos onto my new computer. This means that there shouldn't be anything at all important left on the old dying box. It also means that Picasa is taunting me by finding faces in my photos and asking me to identify them.
  • Geocaching. [personal profile] trinker got me out and about, and I've been making progress again. Going to try to not let a week go by without some form of outdoorsing:

    Profile for Tablesaw
tablesaw: "This sounds like Waiting for Spy Godot" (Hunt)
I still am not quite prepared to talk in detail about the Mystery Hunt, because a lot has to do with my team experience, which was awesome, but also more personal. So instead, here's a list of recommended puzzles from this year's Hunt.

This post contains minor spoilers. Most Mystery Hunt puzzles have little or no instructions. Under the cut tags, I'm going to give more explicit instructions and some comments to make the puzzles accessible, both to more casual solvers and to seasoned veterans who want to skip ahead to the good stuff. (If you don't see any cut text and you would prefer not to see some or all of these spoilers, read this page from my Jaunary 19 page.) Complete answers to each puzzle can be found using the "Call in answer" link at the top of each page.

Keyboard Cat. How it works )

Toad's List. How it works )

Everybody's Got to Be Somewhere. How it Works )

Meta Testing. What It Is, How It Works )

Timbales. What it is )

Stuff Nerd People Like. What It Is, How It Works )

Expletive Deleted. Figuring out how to fill in the blanks shouldn't be that hard, and I'd feel bad spelling it out. I will spell out how to get from there to the final answer: How to Get from There to the Final Answer )

The Cats Meow. How It Works, Why It's Fun Even if You Don't Want to Solve It )

Part of Speech. How It Works )

Painted Potsherds. How It Works )

Inventory Quest. How It Works )

Laureate. No need for spoiler tags, this one is straight up with its instructions. This is a cryptic crossword, so if you're not familiar with those conventions, it's going to be very difficult. Specifically, this is a cryptic in the style of the Listener Cryptic, so if you're an American cryptic solver unfamiliar with British conventions, this will still be very hard. But if you do happen to be familiar with solving very difficult cryptics in the British vein, this puzzle is lots of fun.

Hints, with a bit of love!. How )

A Representative Sampling. How It Works )

Plotlines. I think this is the puzzle that maximizes accessibility and awesomeness. Definitely look even if you click through immediately to the answers. How It Works )

Toto, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore. I can't really spoil this one, but I feel like the aha is fairly accesible to the right sorts of geek. If you don't see what's going on fairly quickly, click through to the answer. If you do, here's how to get a final answer ).

Unnatural Law. How It Works )

E Pluribus Unum. Okay, this one looks unfair, but it's actually fairly tractable, and can be a good way to start thinking laterally about puzzles like this. How It Works )

Unlikely Situations. Just look at the puzzle. If this puzzle is for you, you'll recognize it instantly and figure out what to do. If you don't it's probably not the puzzle for you. How It Works ) Even if you don't want to solve the puzzle, you may want to click through to the answer to see a little bit more about the subject.



So those are my recommendations. There's a lot more stuff that I enjoyed, but it's all less accessible, and I'll probably need to talk about them more spoilerily to do them justice. These are just ones I think more people would get a kick out of.

If you think I've listed too many, then here are my top three fun, accessible puzzles: Toad's List, Inventory Quest, and Plotlines. Go do those.

Also, here are some puzzles that I didn't work on but are on my list to try. No descriptions because I haven't spent any time working on them.
tablesaw: Jennifer Connolly and David Bowie from <cite>Labyrinth</cite> (Labyrinth)
The last thing I'm posting today is the crossword I mentioned two days ago. It's available as a PDF and Across Lite. The solution was scrambled just to avoid temptation: the unscramble code is "1417".

The theme is based on the username of the recipient ([livejournal.com profile] theashgirl), but know other knowledge of her is needed to solve. However, to make the puzzle appropriately geeky and "Whedony", there is a lot of trivia. I strongly advise using Google, friends, wikis, and any other assistance you can get your hands on while solving.

Like I said, I did this one pretty quickly, so it's not an ideal crossword. The regular cruciverbalists will notice some howlingly bad fills, that I let stand in order to showcase the Buffy words and get things done quickly.

The original post of all the gifts is here, and it includes an HTML version of the puzzle. (I think the HTML version is awkward to use, but it looked more impressive than just having a link to a PDF.) You can also see what everyone there is saying about it.
tablesaw: Walt Besa, Junior Associate at Wolfram & Hart, Competition and Anti-Trust. (Portrayed by James Roday) (Walt Besa)
Thank you to everyone who offered me support based on yesterday's entry. I woke up feeling better; and then I had oral surgery, which was a bit of a downer, but I've bought lots of oatmeal, and everything's looking good for now.



I mentioned I was making fanmixes for [livejournal.com profile] whedonland. It's part of a gift exchange that the community's been participating in for the last month an a half. Unfortunately, August was not a good month for me to do any things, so most of my work has been crammed into the last week of July after I got my assignment, and this past week continuing to the deadline (Sunday).

I've been worried that my offering was anemic (some people have received some truly marvelous offerings), so I thought maybe I'd throw in a crossword, because even if it isn't the most polished, it's a pretty safe bet that she'll be the only person receiving a crossword. So I came up with a short theme, found a grid, and started playing around with it yesterday.

I figured I'd mostly use autofill to save time. But then I started working on an awkward corner to see if any Buffy-specific words could help. A few hours later, I finally had it working, and that's when I notice I could drop two squares from my grid to open it up a bit more (and make the fill a little more interesting. A while after that, I spent a half hour converting the entry list of the Buffy/Angel Wiki into a wordlist so that I wouldn't have to keep checking manually. And a little while later, I was done.

Of course, when I was done, it was a little after nine o'clock. I was understandably hungry, having eaten only a large oatmeal in the early afternoon (I slept in). And although I had planned for dinner, going out earlier today to get spaghetti and sauce, my plans for making dinner included the pots and pans that I'd planned to clean this afternoon. The pots and pans I would have cleaned, if I'd noticed that I was burning the hours away writing the crossword. unwilling to be hungry while washing dishes and cooking, I walked over to Palms Thai to eat some soft noodles while listening to Thai Elvis.

The crossword looks pretty good, though.
tablesaw: A young Shawn Spencer learns proper saw technique from his dad. (Cartoon)
One of the most popular after-hours games at con this year was "Exquisite Fruit," a game received by [livejournal.com profile] tmcay in a dream, as befits any pastime of the surrealist vein. One person writes down an answer to be guessed, then seven people collaborate to form a clue for that answer in the style of Exquisite Corpse. The first person writes three words, then folds the paper so that the next person can see only the last word and the answer. The second player writes down two words and folds, and so on until the last person adds a single word and asks the question to the person next to them.

There'd been a massive game of Pyramid on Saturday night, and I hadn't thought to collect the categories for posterity. So I decided to grab the clues from a Sunday-night game of Exquisite Fruit when the opportunity arose. Players included Artistry, [livejournal.com profile] rubrick, [livejournal.com profile] toonhead_npl, [livejournal.com profile] jeffurrynpl, Eddy, /Jabberwock, Wraavr, [livejournal.com profile] hahathor, [livejournal.com profile] cramerica, [livejournal.com profile] tmcay and probably someone I'm forgetting. Some higlights:
  • What Kubrick film starring Malcolm McDowell singing in the Nadsat slang like "horrorshow" movie?
  • What Depression housing Green Acres pig Dahling presidential administration caused homeless in Annie Warbucks?
  • What tacky tartan man skirt has many male skirt Scottish Batman was from Scotland?
  • What porcine cocktail do goys drink tref and shaken not stirred not fried shaken?
  • What jagged building stepped pyramid in middle of Q-Bert’s block pyrmaid but low-resolution Jews?
  • What horror face-off between extraterrestrial against queen creature ultimate face-off between two creatures?
  • What underwater weapon energy based illogical Captain Skywalker used in Klingon killing weapon explodes?
  • What borough in Welcome Back in New York borough Welcome Back from Manhattan neighbor?
  • What snackalicious treat like tollhouse recipe is sweet black sweet drops with brown morsels?
  • Jerry Lewis’s partner nutty Jerry Lewis often sings "That's Amore" alcoholic not "G-schploing!" smarmy?
More clues with answers here

Always carry an exquisitefruit.
tablesaw: Sketch of an antique tablesaw (Antigua)
This week's NY Times Sunday crossword was annoyingly twee, and I'm not just saying that because it took me 40 minutes.
Twee? Belle & Sebastian are twee. My crossword fucked your shit up. That is not twee. That is BAD-ASS.
(Source, includes spoilers for Sunday's puzzle.)
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
We're already in a countdown to Christmas. Various things like [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan's new job and some annoyingness with banks have meant we got a really late start. And it was only yesterday that I fully realized that I wasn't going to have any more free days before Christmas Eve. (Thursday and Friday are my days off, so my last pre-Christmas weekend just finished.)

But yesterday, Ojou and I cleared up some of the bank stuff, then we went with [livejournal.com profile] twilightsyren to Downtown Burbank. I got a lot of stuff done; I've pared down my budget this year, and I'm doing pretty good with it. I think I can get everything else done pretty quickly; my biggest regret is that I'm not likely to get to my regular used bookstore unless they've got expanded hours, or I make a rush to get there on the 23rd.

Still, since I've been thinking more about it, I thought I'd expand the Holiday/Birthday lists:
  • Puzzle Books.I mentioned Mutant Sudoku last time, but there's a lot of other good stuff out there.
    • Nikoli Books. A few years ago, [livejournal.com profile] cramerica got me Penpa Mixes 1-3, which were loads of fun. They were especially useful once I dropped my nikoli.com membership. I still really love the puzzles, but having them in book form means I can forget about them easily. I'd love to see Penpa, Fillomino, Slitherlink, Masyu, Nurikabe, and Heyawake. (Obviously, they won't get here in time for Christmas, but whatever.
    • Nikoli by Sterling. Sterling Publishing puts out some real quality stuff, and recently they've been publishing Nikoli puzzles in books mixed with Sudoku. I've already got Slitherlink (which I've finished), Masyu, and Nurikabe, but I'd still like to get my hands on the other varieties listed above.

    • Crosswords. Also from Sterling, Frank Longo's Vowelless Crosswords looks good, as do Patrick Berry's Crossword masterpieces.
  • Tea. Specifically looseleaf tea, not bagged/packaged. Our tea reserves are dreadfully low, and we haven't had time to restock. I like most kinds, black, green, white, oolong, herbal infusions, etc. I'd avoid Teavana and Lupicia because they're overpriced. We usually shop at specialteas.com or dragonwater.com online, and when we want something in person, we go to Wing Hop Fung in Chinatown, which stocks birdpick.com. (It looks like they have a store in Pasadena too.)
  • One-Time Maid Service. Ojou and I are way behind on cleaning, and a burst of professional help would go a long way, especially now that we rarely have a full day off together.
  • New Year's Eve Plans. I'm working most of the Christmas weekend, and as a result, I've got a nice five-day weekend from December 29 to January 2. Ojou's got a sexy, sexy Foxy Brown outfit to wear . . . and a lot of our friends are going to be out of town. We need something to do, something big. Scrabble with Ellen isn't going to cut it this year.
And that's the end of my proactive gift list.
tablesaw: A sketch of me talking and smiling. (Personable)
Title Context

My firm has a thing. On Fridays, around closing time, they invite everyone up to the dining room and serve appetizers and drinks, including an open bar.

I've never really gone to one, because I've never been working at a time anywhere near Friday afternoons. While on the graveyard shift, it would have meant waking up god-awful early. And now, it means going in on my day off.

So, no office party.

Now, this used to be a weekly thing. But as the economy tanked, it shrank down to biweekly. It might even be every three or four weeks now. Like I said, I don't much pay attention because of the Friday thing.

But also along with the economy, the holiday party has shrunk. Two years ago, they hired Berlin to play at the House of Blues. Now, they've got new hires doing a skit before they fire up a karaoke machine in the dining room. Also, it's on a Wednesday.

Now, [personal profile] ojouchan and I were already planning to go out tonight (Princess and the Frog at the Arclight), and we weren't entirely inspired by the office party idea, so we were mostly going to skip it.

But today was a rough day. Really rough. I barely scraped out a lunch, and two horrible things happened during it that I then had to deal with.

My plan, then, was to make a quick stop into the party on my way out. I would say hi to the one person that I really like, then head home. And since I'm going home on the subway, I can get a drink too.

Dear reader, my overlords have many flaws, but they are generous with the booze.

I didn't do anything at the party except go to the bar (where my friend already was, which tells you something) and get a drink. I ordered a rum and coke and said something that I'd only ever heard said: "Make it a double."

This seemed appropriate. Normally, I prefer strong mixers, but I'd be leaving forthwith; no time for a second glass.

The bartender looked at the bottle of Bacardi and decided that the best thing to do was just dump everything into a plastic cup. The result was something of a triple and a half.

Hooray for not driving to work.

On the ride home, because I am a true geek, I took out a large easy crossword and recklessly speedsolved it.



But now I really see why the firm does it; why they probably wish they could still do it weekly. I had a really crappy day. Normally, I'd be home fuming. But instead, they paid for an artificial state of happiness. And lord help me, I am feeling really good about the place I work because of it. My instinct now is to think, "Well, it all balanced out."

It doesn't balance out. It was still a crappy day; I had to deal with impossible requests with impossible deadlines. The stress left me angry and unable to focus during my lunch break. And an employer shouldn't rely on mood-altering substances to make its employees feel better.

But that doesn't mean it doesn't goddamn work to some degree. I can imagine what it would be like if this happened after the end of every hard week of work. It'd probably work most of the time.

But now I'm off to eat Peruvian food and watch a movie with the woman that I love. A large glass of decent alcohol can do nothing but blanch at the thought of being compared to that.
tablesaw: Two women put the star on a Christmas tree. (Apocalyptic Christmas)
Some things wanted this gifting season:
  • A new backpack. I love my trusty Jansport, but at some point, the stuff that's supposed to keep the weight off my shoulders melted on the left side. And recently, It's been leaking out red goo if I try to wear it other than one-shouldered.
  • Tablesaw. [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan wants some new furniture. We've been talking about getting a new coffee table from IKEA for ages, and she'd like to replace our big dining room table with something more functional. We're probably goign to swing by St. Vincent de Paul, but I guess IKEA gift cards would make us pretty happy.
  • Untables. Speaking of new tables, we'd like to get rid of our old ones. The coffee table is nice. We'll entertain all offers, and I'll drop it off pretty much anywher in the LA area you'd like. The dining-room table is nice too, but I'm not sure if it fits in the car. Pictures soon, I think.
  • XBox 360 Ojou's been eying it seriously, and now that we have the HD TV, we're ready for it. The system's about five years old, which means we've got a backlog of things we can get used (though Ojou's got her eye on Dragon Age). This may wait until birthday, though.
  • Mutant Sudoku. I've been looking forward to [livejournal.com profile] motris and [livejournal.com profile] onigame's book of sudoku variations for a while. I usually find sudoku boring, but these two are able to bring out some amazing things out of the structure. It came out a little while ago, but I thought I'd leave it for giftability.
  • Clothes I hate buying clothes, so come December I always need new ones. I had some bad luck with pants recently, and I could do with some new shirts too.
And that's really it. Once again, we're going to try to get rid of stuffs and clean house, as well as trying to sock away some money for the wedding. And as usual, I prefer most gifts to be used whenever possible, especially when it comes to things like music, books, games, and DVDs.
tablesaw: -- (Real1)
On Sunday, I was wiped out and still a little off balance because of my gut. Still, [personal profile] ojouchan and I got up and out in time to meet Artistry, [livejournal.com profile] hahathor, [livejournal.com profile] tmcay, and QED at Olives at the Bellagio. Last week was Restaurant Week in Las Vegas, and a number of good restaurants were offering discounted prix fixe menus, with the proceeds going to charity. The lunch we had was three courses for only twenty dollars.

Twenty dollars and nine cents!!!!!!!

Yeah, nobody knew what was up with that.

Anyway, the food was good, and Ojou took pictures of it, so maybe we'll see it eventually.

After that, we took in parts of the strip. I got to see the inside of Planet Hollywood, which made me miss the Aladdin. We went to Coca-Cola World and M&M World. At M&M world, I got 3-D glasses that didn't work and had to run around the theater to watch the silly movie. I was starting to feel tired already, so we decided to split up at the MGM Grand. Ojou and I would head back to the hotel, while they continued Strip-searching.

We took the monorail, which was fun but expensive, walked back to the car, and drove back to the hotel, where I passed out for a little while.

When I woke up, we went to meet Artistry and Hathor at Carnevino at the Palazzo for more fancy food. By the time we got there, they'd already ordered two dishes of raw beef and a salad, which we helped them finish. We each ordered a dish ourselves, which arrived with their almost-raw filet mignon. QED and T McCay joined us as Artistry enjoyed a grappa.

Afterward, we walked across the street to the Wynn, where we went to Parasol Down to see the Lake of Dreams. A show was beginning as we took the curved escalator down, so we were "treated" to a giant frog lip-syncing to War's "Low Rider". Note scarequotes. It scar[r]ed me deeply. To take the pain away, I ordered una "flor de Jalisco," which was a very nice tequila-and-pomegranate cocktail.



Monday, Labor Day, I was still feeling tired, so I slept through the complementary breakfast. Ojou woke me up in time to pack up our luggage, check out, and head to the other hotel. We spent some time trying to solve [livejournal.com profile] zebraboy3's Labor Day puzzles (not making very significant progress) while Ojou and Artistry looked around the hotel, and compared the two Embassy Suiteses for a possibly mini-convention next year.

Eventually, we decided to hit a traditional Vegas buffet, so we headed out to the new casino/hotel/resort M for their magnificent buffet spread. We stuffed our faces for a while, and spent a long time just talking at the table before we left.

Ojou and I picked up a Hathor for our car and headed home. Unsurprisingly, there was some traffic going back down the 15, we passed two major accidents that caused major traffic. To pass the time, the three of us switched out our iPods with the car stereo, playing a song each in rotation the entire way.

Having stuffed our faces earlier that afternoon, and faced with a time deficit getting back to LA, we didn't bother stopping for food (though we did occasionally snack on the M&Ms we'd gotten at M&M World) until we got to [livejournal.com profile] cramerica's apartment, where Hathor would be spending the next two nights. I don't remember what we did; I think we just watched TV; I was kind of zoned. Ojou and I went home and got ready for work the next morning.



Tuesday, work was slow, which was good because there was practically nobody there. At home, Ojou cooked fish, and we watched TV that we'd been letting pile up.
tablesaw: Gaff, from <cite>Blade Runner</cite> (Gaff)
When I left work yesterday, the Internet seemed rather calm. I was away for a few hours because [livejournal.com profile] ojouchan and I went to hear Mozart at the Hollywood Bowl using my firm's box seats. And when I came back, there was crazy.

A whole bunch of racefail from various SF fandom cons popped up, as linkishly summarized by [personal profile] coffeeandink. I haven't even had a chance to look at the WriterCon issues, because I've been reconstruct my blown mind after the mindblowingly idiotic statements made by [livejournal.com profile] arhyalon. I expect that [community profile] linkspam will be kicking into gear over it too.

Penny Arcade also took a dive into the "seduction community." Tycho offers some choice quotes like:
I'm fairly certain the purpose of this course is to make you a better predator of women. Check out their offers of "in-field training," as though you were going to hunt antelopes from a jeep in the Goddamned Savannah.
Gabe, on the other hand, apparently "decided to play devil's advocate" without doing a whole lot of research intot he topic, which was a bad idea. He finishes up saying
I'm a little worried that guys reading the site might take our discussion here as some sort of endorsement and I want to make sure that isn't the case. While some of their advice is probably fine I think the majority of it is really sleazy. Again, I can't blame guys for seeking out help. All joking aside though, I just want to make it clear that I don't think the seduction community is the place to go.
Emphasis mine, because although Tycho doesn't mention what started him down the rabbit hole, it may have been the recent massacre by George Sodini a deeply misogynistic man who regularly participated in "pick-up artist" seminars before taking two guns to a gym and then opening fire, killing three women and injuring nine before using the last bullet for himself.

Alas, a Blog has a collection of responses from "men's-rights activists, anti-feminists and other misogynists." (The original post includes a trigger warning for the quotes, and they are not for the faint of heart.) And these apologies for Soldini represent an extreme of Gabe's empathy. It's part of the reason, I try to divorce considering "intent" when it comes to things like this, because a person can ascribe a good intention or a seemingly reasonable justification to even the most heinous acts.

It's got me thinking about the nature of what "intention" is at all. Last year, [livejournal.com profile] adamcadre wrote about a psychological study investigating how we determine waht is intentional. I wrote a comment thinking about how intention intersects interactive fiction. In response, Adam wrote The Nemean Lion (Z-machine file, requires an IF interpreter to play), and I've been thinking about the last scene in this respect.



Meanwhile, there's also conflict in the world of logic-puzzles, where puzzle plagiarism has reared its ugly head, with Conceptis Puzzles, purveyor of soulless, computer-generated, mass-produced logic puzzles, appropriated the concept and presentation of Strimko for their "new" feature Chain Sudoku. [livejournal.com profile] motris and [livejournal.com profile] onigame (constructors of the eagerly anticipated and soon-to-be-released Mutant Sudoku, a book of hand-crafted, soulful logic puzzles) have weighed in.

Yes, even Sudokuland is full of the fail. I'm going to bed.

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