Puzzle Boat 4

Oct. 18th, 2017 05:21 pm
[personal profile] dr4b
So many things I want to write about but as usual I just don't have the energy to do it.

I was kinda lazy in organizing Puzzle Boat 4 this year but I somehow ended up getting a decent team of 8 anyway (me, Chris, Eric M, Eric T aka Koi, Ken, Richard, Corey, Melinda). The only requirement I had was that people were able to attend in person on the first Saturday, and Richard attended via videochat because he was in Reno for an escape room crawl.

I can't write much about it without spoilers, obviously, but the structure of the hunt this time was similar to last time (100+ puzzles, lots of metas, gotta figure out which puzzles go with what meta) but had some extra twists. I'm looking at http://www.pandamagazine.com/island4/index.php?f=FM_About while not logged in to see what I think is fair game to mention. You can see that the theme is the Amazing Race, so we were going around the world. Most puzzles were "Route Info", and metas were Pit Stops, and then the two new things this time were Roadblocks and Detours. Detours, you would get at a special place and get a choice of two puzzles, and do one of them, to progress further. (And later on you'd get U-Turned and have to do the other one). Roadblocks were non-puzzley activities that you had to do, that would result in some letters and a photo; the catch was that each member of your team could only do N of them (where I'm assuming N was determined by team size, which is why you couldn't add team members after starting). N was 2 for our team, and I unfortunately took the first roadblock just to see what it was, which meant I had to bother people to do a lot of the other ones all the time because I didn't want to use up all my roadblock slots.

Pace-wise, like I said, everyone was around on Saturday, and we officially went from 10am to 8pm (this is mostly because Ken and I were going to contra dance, Richard was doing escape rooms in Reno, Eric was going to the Stanford football game, and Corey and Melinda had a babysitter until early evening) and we made pretty good progress, solving around 50-60 things on the first day? Though some of those were roadblocks/detours.

Sunday was slightly less attendance -- me, Chris, Koi, Eric until mid-afternoon and Ken from mid-afternoon onwards. But, we pushed through a lot in spreadsheets, and Richard did a bunch remotely too as stuff would just show up solved suddenly. By the time I went to sleep on Sunday -- and by the way *I* solved our first meta by guessing the right phrase with the letters given -- we had about 100 puzzles solved and 2 metas.

Monday night we got together in a conference room at Google, where "we" was really me, Koi, and Richard. Ken was there for a little while but we basically solved like one puzzle together and then he left. We attacked metas with a vengeance and got through almost all of them -- by the end of the evening we only had 3 metas left.

I spent a bunch of time taking bronze/silver hints on puzzles to try to get some more answers to fill in metas while others stared at metas.

We only had one meta left by Tuesday evening. Nobody got together in person that day but we all were on a spreadsheet (I didn't get home until 10pm or so from contra dance that evening even) when the final meta fell, and then we got the final final meta meta, and stared at it for a few hours, before Chris figured out what was going on, and we finished around 12:09am Wednesday morning, putting us at 10th place overall.

I can't say much about the puzzles themselves, of course, or even really about any specific solving, which is hard. But I wanted to remember that we did this event and people managed to come together surprisingly well even though a lot of it was remote solving in a spreadsheet (well, a lot for me). I also suspect we spent a lot more time together in person than a lot of teams did as well, and I really think that time together was a lot more valuable for solving, because bouncing ideas off people really works well (like, for one of the metas, no spoilers hopefully here, but say, one of the aspects was a kind of word, and one of the aspects was a pattern in the words, and another was how to fit those into the paper puzzle given with it, and literally, Richard noticed one part, Koi noticed another, and I noticed another. I think any of us could have figured it all out on our own but together it went really quickly.)

Next weekend we're doing the Hunt for Justice puzzle box (likely just me and Chris...) on Saturday and then the Palantir Hunt at Stanford on Sunday and then that might be it for puzzles until MIT Mystery Hunt? I guess we have some escape rooms in the area to look at sometime but I feel so lazy about it. It's sounding like Chris and I will be here over Thanksgiving so maybe I'll see if I can get a group of people together to do some rooms then or something, who knows.

Linkspam for mid-October 2017

Oct. 16th, 2017 02:53 pm
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
I'm not doing regular linkspam posts anymore, but I had a pile of links to file and I thought I'd put them in one place.

Some advice for survivors and those writing about them, Leigh Honeywell (2017-10-12). Some great advice on talking to journalists that applies to situations where you're exposing any kind of wrong-doing.

Donald Trump to become first president to speak at anti-LGBT hate group gathering, Benjamin Butterworth for PinkNews (2017-10-11). Remember when people were saying "at least Tr*mp is pro-LGBT"?

[CW: rape] On predators who won't accept that they are predators, E Price (2017-10-12). "It’s important for men to question whether there are rapists in their midsts. But good men, really feminist men, need to go even further: they need to question whether they have ever been rapists themselves."

Sister Outsider Headbanger: On Being a Black Feminist Metalhead, Keidra Chaney for Bitch (2000-11-30). Good stuff about being in intersecting outsider identities.

We fired our top talent. Best decision we ever made, Jonathan Solórzano-Hamilton (2017-10-12). "Rick was a very talented developer. Rick could solve complex business logic problems and create sophisticated architectures to support his lofty designs. Rick could not solve the problem of how to work effectively on a team." (Other people have rightly pointed out that the author doesn't place enough responsibility on the environment "Rick" was in for allowing him to escalate his toxic behaviors, but the fact remains that some people deal with pressure by seeking help and support from others, while others deal with it by harming others in an attempt to preserve themselves.)

We Warned You About Milo And You’re Still Not Listening, Katherine Cross for The Establishment (2017-10-09). 'The hypersensitivity that reels from “trigger warnings” but thrills to Yiannopoulos’ joyful transphobia, that likens workplace diversity trainings to “gulags,” is what fuels the outrage culture about “outrage culture,” an insatiable rage that can never be sated by giving it what it says it wants. It will merely demand we make ourselves smaller and smaller until nothing of us remains. Reactionary outrage about “PC” is not a philosophy as much as it is a burning sun that demands our compliance as its nuclear fuel, consuming it endlessly until it can feed no more and goes nova.'

America Loves Plausible Deniability, Lindy West for the New York Times (2017-10-14). "When faced with a choice between an incriminating truth or a flattering lie, America’s ruling class has been choosing the lie for 400 years."

A guide to modern Nazi dogwhistles from [twitter.com profile] secretgamergrrl:
"Modern nazi dog whistles- Accusing people of "calling everyone a nazi." Specifically, doing this in contexts where it makes no sense. i.e. shouting "you call everyone a nazi!" when someone is talking about nazi book burnings in the 40s, or "everyone you don't like is a nazi!" in response to a statement like "this is a profoundly homophobic statement from this organization." The hope is that someone listening who has, in a more appropriate context, been at some point likened to a nazi will give some subtle gesture of approval, outing themselves as someone ripe for recruitment. A common variation is shouting "why do you hate Trump!?" when people discuss bigotry in contexts with no tie to Trump."

Cyrus Vance and the Myth of the Progressive Prosecutor, Josie Duffy Rice for the New York Times: "The progressive bombast is meaningless if prosecutors continue to promote the same harsh practices behind the scenes. Instead, voters must look closely at their policies and hold them to high and specific standards. We should ask: Are prosecutors opposing new mandatory minimum sentences during legislative debates? Have they declined to request cash bail in a vast majority of cases? Are they keeping children out of adult court and refusing to seek life-without-parole sentences for them?"

"Fun sexual assault fact: you only hear the stories we can bear to tell." -- [twitter.com profile] sarahhartshorne

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Oct. 11th, 2017 11:40 am
tim: A person with multicolored hair holding a sign that says "Binaries Are For Computers" with rainbow-colored letters (binaries)
[personal profile] tim

  • I'm not transgender as in "we need cis allies", I'm transsexual as in "fuck you".
  • I'm not bisexual as in "here's my 5000-word thinkpiece on why that doesn't mean I'm not attracted to non-binary people", I'm pansexual as in "I don't eliminate potential partners based on their gender".
  • I'm not "gay" as in happy, I'm queer as in "fuck you".
  • I'm not liberal as in "universal acceptance and inclusion is possible while including fascists and white supremacists", but rather, anarcho-communist as in understanding what the Paradox of Tolerance means.
  • I'm not poly and kinky as in "understand my bizarre tendencies", I'm poly and kinky as in "almost everyone's conceptions of family and sexuality would benefit from radical change."
  • I'm not mentally ill as in "I need to be changed into a different person from who I am", I'm neuroatypical as in "other people need to accept the person who I am."

Go forward, do no harm, and take no shit.


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