Larry Hosken: New

Some non-spoilery 20/20 hindsight logistics advice for ETPH#3:

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Zara's Big Adventure Puzzle Hunt: it was fun, you should play it next weekend

I'm fresh back from Foster City, CA, where I played in Zara's Big Adventure puzzle hunt. It was fun! It's happening again next weekend, on Sunday! You should play! Sign up at that link!

(I'm not sure why I say that. I kinda suspect that all the Bay Area folks who read this blog already played and/or signed up and/or aren't here for the puzzlehunt stuff but instead wish I'd post more book reports. But maybe I'm wrong.)

Oh, and if you're not in the Bay Area: you can play online. Though you'll miss out on the [redacted] activity, but that's probably OK.

Anyhow, sleep now. More later.

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"I was really proud of my jar of teeth…"

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Book Report: Line Screw

Memoir of a poet/executive whose migraines force him out of such intense-thinking pursuits and into prison guarding. He was guarding Canadian prisons back when there was a higher ratio of guards to prisoners. Not so many stories of being overwhelmed; a sprinkling of stories in which guards had enough time and were sufficiently bored… such that they played elaborate pranks on each other. It's not all wacky hijinx, though. There are plenty of sad stories here.

He makes an interesting point that most guards and most prisoners just want the time to pass without incident. Thus, the prisoners and the guards are often working together against disruptive forces. He put this insight to use during a prison riot—instead of sending in SWAT with teargas, assume that many of the "rioters" don't especially want to be rioting. Instead of sending in SWAT, send in some guards the prisoners know and trust(!) to strike a deal. It doesn't match what you see in the movies, but it's not surprising to hear that movies don't try to get this right.

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Link: Braille Notation for Complex Cello Music

"Feldman’s piece in particular, which uses geometric figures over the course of a graphically represented x-axis of time, cannot be transcribed at all into standard braille music encoding."

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I finally figured out there's no great way for me to walk south off of San Bruno mountain, a.k.a., the dramatic hill from the end of the WHO game.

Ages ago, when I wanted to take a long walk, I used the "keep walking south" rule to pick my route. This was a good rule: I didn't have to think about it very hard. This was a not-so-good rule: depending on how it played out, I'd find myself on top of San Bruno mountain with no further-south place to aim for. Trail maps showed some trails heading down; it wasn't so easy to spot those trails when actually up there.

A while back (a couple of years ago?) I tried walking down a fire road; it got pretty steep at a couple of points. To get down without fallng, I scrambled around on all fours for a bit. It was kind of scary. Maybe someone with better balance than mine could have made it down with no worries… but I am a bit tall and gangly. I didn't really want to do that again.

In my time off, I've been taking some long-ish walks. For a couple of those walks, I tried hiking up San Bruno mountain from the south, to figure out where its down-trails started. One of those was the trail I'd already tried. But the other one was new, and seemed less steep; though it got kind of undefined where it hit a fence around a water tank. But BUT it was a new trail to try walking down.

So today, I tried walking down that trail. It was less steep than the other, but still steep enough to get me down on all fours at a couple of points; and at another point, I still slipped and fell on my butt.

So it was a bit of a tumble, but also a bit of a triumph: now I'll stop wondering if I've been overlooking some easy way to head south from there.

Thus this morning, I triumphantly walked the streets of South San Francisco, tapping at my phone to update Swarm: I'd survived falling down.

And then I walked into a signpost because I was looking at my phone instead of where I was going. Served me right.

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Book Report: Original Copies

It's a book about new housing developments in China, specifically those which have been made "Western-style". Why put up a copy of the Eiffel Tower in a newly developed Shanghai suburb? Why not? There's some interesting things to talk about here; alas, many of them are explained rigorously in academic language. I found my attention drifting as I tried to read. I was reading this book on the bus one day. The lady sitting next to me said she was impressed that I was reading something so serious. So then I felt doubly bad about skipping through the book—that I was seeming more serious than I was. (She asked me why I was reading it. I said it was a recommendation from someone I knew (Hi, Mahlen!), so maybe she eventually figured out that relative to my peer group, I'm not really the serious one. Anyhow…)

What are the interesting bits?

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Overloaded Name

If you say
Gordon Moore, as in "Moore's Law"
…now we have to ask if you mean the Intel co-founder's rule of thumb about computer hardware advances or the San Francisco beat cop.

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This evening's Adventure Design Group was the San Francisco Institute of Possibility. This was about as far from puzzlehunts as you can get—they run events that might be described as awesome parties with participatory art installations. And yet, and yet. This video for an upcoming event seems like it could be the core of an interesting puzzle game.

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There's a National Puzzle Day (but I'm not sure which nation it's for). There's an International Puzzle Day.

I think I planned something for one of those Puzzle Days. At some point in the past, I set up a blog-search-feed-doohickey to let me know when blogs started mentioning the phrase "Puzzle Day". I probably did this because I wanted some advance warning, enough time to set up… something. National Puzzle Day is coming up on January 29th; people are writing blog posts now.

I forget what I wanted to do for [Inter-]National Puzzle Day. Gleefully look forward to Zara's Big Adventure, a couple of days later? That's a good thing to do, but probably not what I originally planned.

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