Report: Season of the Witch

It's a history of , concentrating on the weirdness of the 1970s and early 1980s. Jonestown, AIDS, … I'd read about bad things from those days, but hadn't followed Mr Rogers' advice to Look for the Helpers. This book pointed me at some folks doing good work in the Haight, near where I live. I read about Huckleberry House, which sheltered and counseled many many runaway teenagers who drifted in to San Fr...

The really unsettling thing about out-in-the-world puzzle hunts, eldritch horrors aside, is days later when you think you see puzzles everywhere. Just looking down at the sidewalk and you think you see a puzzle and you have to remind yourself that it's not real.

Report: Hello World

It's a book about and ML, especially where they bump into ethical questions. Part of the problem we get into is… computers nowadays (as in the past) are good at things humans are bad at; but bad at things humans find simple. E.g., Watson is really good at playing Jeopardy!, a game which requires knowledge of all human trivia. But if you narrow down Watson's scope and tell it "now just concentrate on diagnosing diseases from this tiny l...

Hunts are Everywhere, even Arkham

Some excellent nerds ran a Cthulhu-themed "The Game"-style puzzle hunt in the appropriate geographical area. It was pretty impressive. I played in it with team Mystic Golems; and posted some photos & crazed ramblings. Go take a read (at risk of your sanity).

Report: Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age

It's a biography of Grace Hopper and story of the development of COBOL, the first (mumble) language (for some value of (mumble)). There's more to the biography than just COBOL. Tech innovators who live on the edge might like stories of a programmer job-hunting after WW2: a few weirdos were pretty sure these computer thingies could be useful someday; but…

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Friends that aren't in the 'puzzle scene': what puzzles you into these days? Sudoku? Crosswords? Variety puzzles?

Played some fris golf today. That's like frisbee golf, but when the group ahead of you gets attacked by a swarm of enraged bees, you say "Let's skip this part of the course."

I went to scenic Boulder, Colorado. I had a rough time getting around, so the resulting travelog is pretty whiny, sorry.

[Update: We DID escape in time. This room gives you 100 minutes to escape instead of the usual hour. We went a few seconds over the hour.]

Curtis and DeeAnn of Team Snout were in town. We played the Edison Room over at the excellent Palace Games Escape Rooms. And and and Curtis had Puzzled Pint stickers with him, so now my laptop is extra snazzy.
team photo laptop sticker

Yes, that's Lisa L. on this side of the pond. Fortunately, our team had enough tall people on it such that you can't see the game clock behind us: We didn't actually escape in time, but went several seconds over.

all the gross bodily fluids 

Report: All At Sea

It's a writer's memoir about joining up with a film crew hoping to document techniques by nomadic sailors based near Thailand. Things go off the rails and it's a road to muddled hell paved with good intentions. Anyhow, if you've ever thought When a ship's captain asks me if I know something, for safety's sake I should admit my ignorance but worried that you didn't have evidence to back that up, this book has a cringe-y anecdote for you.

Report: Silence on the Wire

It's a book with ways to indirectly find out info. E.g., to know whether visitors to your website also frequent the San Francisco SPCA website, display an image from that website and time how long it takes for that image to appear.

Some of these techniques are practical. Others sound like some grad students dared each other find the most bass-ackwards way to "leak" information from systems they alrea...

I drank some instant . But first I snapped photos because I didn't find much online about this tea. Behold: Platinum Myanmar Milk Tea.

Report: Ninth Step Station, Season 1

It's detectives fighting crime in a divided city. It's fun. There are fun bits of spycraft, drone walls, and the kinds of nasty side effects from extreme body modification that Mike Pondsmith told us to be wary of.

It's meant to be read as a serial. Thus, I ended up downloading 10 separate chapters onto my Kindle. But as long as this "Serial Box" outfit keeps publishing writers whose stuff I like, I can deal with such a nuisance.

I read a book. I won't report which book; I was researching a puzzle, so naming it would be spoiler-y. But but it was a rare excuse for me, a non-academic, to visit the San Francisco Public 's Special Collections room. I had to sign in, hand over my backpack, and fill out a form reporting how many pictures of the book I snapped. My mien was super scholarly.

COBRA Complete, the COBRA administration company that messed up about 2/5 of my automatic payments to them, just sent me a check with no explanation. I wonder which scenario is most likely:

☐ There was a good reason to send me this check.

☐ There was no good reason to send me this check.

☐ There was no good reason to send me this check, nor the other checks they will send me every month for the next few years until I can get someone on the phone to convince them to stop.

Report: Paper

Some months back, I learned that back in pre-USA days, the American Colonies had to import rags from the old country to make with. I thought that was weird. My mom noted that Mark Kurlansky had written a book about the history of paper which might clear things up for me. And it did. It turns out: everybody had a rag shortage everywhere. Paper-makers went out of business because they couldn't get cheap rags. It was a problem in the Americ...

Report: The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler

Speaking of heavily redacted documents: Raymond Chandler discarded most of his notebooks, but overlooked some. This little book has some excerpts. It's of interest only to the completist; there's not much here. But it's a quick read.

Were you excited to hear that I'd written a set of Puzzled Pint s, but on the evening in question you felt really lazy and you just stayed home? Yeah, me too. All is not lost: the excellent PP folks put those puzzles online for your downloading enjoyment: April 2019: Head to Head. This month's gimmick: all* the are laid out to be solved by folks sitting across the table from each other.

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