Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even Oklahoma

Oklahoma has it going on. I'm not just talking about Martin Gardner.

A Treasure's Trove: A Fairy Tale About Real Treasure For Parents And Children Of All Ages is an illustrated children's book written by Michael Stadther and published in 2004. The "real treasure" was found by deciphering clues in the book that lead to twelve tokens that could be turned in for unique jewels, each representing an insect or character in the book. ...The finders and locations are:

  • ...The sixth, the Firefly token, was found in Foss State Park in Oklahoma by Jason Davis of Berkeley, California
  • ...The thirteenth, Pook (a doth), was found in Newaygo State Park, Michigan, by Terri Gulasy of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Tammy Nunnally of St. Mary's, Ohio
--Wikipedia: A Treasure's Trove

This Terri Gulasy lady sounds pretty hardcore:

A couple of months later, Gulasy and her family traveled to Pennsylvania in their motor home for a summer getaway. The proximity of Pennsylvania to Michigan enticed Gulasy to drive to the state park in a last-hope effort to find the token she and Nunnally had desperately been trying to locate.

As their motor home pulled into a Newaygo State Park campsite, their tires dug trenches in the wet ground. The Gulasy family began searching the campsite, hoping to find the token. It wasn’t until they returned to their motor home that they spotted a glimmer of gold peeking out from the tracks their tires had dug!

"It seems as though it was fated for us to find Pook. Who knows how long it was buried beneath the mud’s surface," said Gulasy, a software engineer. "We were meant to find the token. It’s simply mind-blowing!"

--"Pook Pokes Into Families' Lives"

According to this article, Ms Gulasy collaborated with someone she found on the internet. They promised to split the reward--and they did. With a sense of fair play like that, it sounds like she ought to do more puzzle hunts.

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Book Report: Super Market

This comic book has fun art: cityscapes, curlicue clouds, silly signs. I bought this comic because its writer, Brian Wood, has written some good things. But in this comic, I didn't like the plot, the characters, ... I liked the ciy, though. Pretty art and a good city. Sometimes that's enough.

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Not exactly a Book Report; Not exactly PuzzleHunt-Related

If you've always meant to check out the magazine Giant Robot but never got around to it, now you have some more motivation. Issue #44, in stores now, has an interview with Tetsuya Nishio. Yeah, the guy who invented Paint-by-Numbers/Nonogram/whatever puzzles. WPC dude. Yeah, him. It's not a long interview, but he does present a couple of cute little riddles, and we learn that he likes alcohol.

I'm not that much of a puzzle-head, so I thought the interview with the guy who makes donuts with fresh fruit was more interesting. He mentioned that the Harvey Mudd unicycle club rides to his donut shop annually. I'd heard something like that before, but assumed it was a tall tale.

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Science Fiction Book Club Meme

I plagiarized the following explanation from someone else who was passing along this meme: This is a list of the 50 "most significant" science fiction/fantasy novels, 1953-2002, according to the Science Fiction Book Club. Bold the ones you've read, strike-out the ones you hated, italicize those you started but never finished, and put an asterisk* beside the ones you loved.

  1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov*
  3. Dune, Frank Herbert
  4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
  5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
  6. Neuromancer, William Gibson*
  7. Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
  8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
  9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
  10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
  11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe*
  12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
  14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
  15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
  16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
  17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
  18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
  19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
  20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
  21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  22. Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
  23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
  24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman (I read the comic book. Does that count?)
  25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
  26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
  27. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams*
  28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
  29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
  31. Little, Big, John Crowley
  32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
  33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
  35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
  36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
  37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
  38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
  39. Ringworld, Larry Niven*
  40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
  41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
  42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
  43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson*
  44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
  45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
  46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
  47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
  48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
  49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
  50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer*

The instructions don't say what to do with books that you didn't finish because you hated them: italicize or strike-out? However, in my case there is no ambiguity. All of the books on this list that I didn't finish--they all stunk on ice.

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Book Report: American-Born Chinese

[I'm testing out a new anti-spam tool. In theory, I haven't told it to actually discard any mail yet. So in theory you shouldn't see a difference. But mistakes can happen. So if you send me something and I don't respond for a few days, you might try contacting me by other means to ask if I received the email.]

Your culture is part of who you are. It's good to be comfortable with who you are. If you try to deny your culture to better fit in with the whitebread community you've moved into, you put yourself in...

Does the above sound familiar to you from the 20 bazillion books you've already read about about the Immigrant Experience? If not, you'll probably like the comic book American Born Chinese plenty. It's well-done, and it has a subplot involving the Monkey King. Comic books about the Monkey King are awesome.

Still, I've read a few too many stories about people coming to terms with their... What, sorry? My mind wandered there. I just have a hard time concentrating when the topic is yet another story about.... wh- what?

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Book Report: The Books of Magic

[I'm upgrading to a new Blogging service (beta.blogger.com). I wouldn't be surprised if that means that a bunch of my old articles show up as "new" in your feed reader. Or if it results in other little tweaks. Please do not be alarmed. Or don't be alarmed about this blog. Or, uhm, anyhow, on with the show...]

In the comic book The Books of Magic we find out that a young boy is prophecied to grow up into the most powerful wizard in the universZzzzzzz. Wh- what? Sorry, I dozed off there. Fanboy power fantasies do that to me. We get a tour of magical traditions of past cultures--a picture showing something Egyptian, something Greek, something Zzz. Sorry, I dozed off again. Maybe I'd want a high-level survey of different cultures' magic if I hadn't already read plenty of this crap years ago. There's a visit to Faerie. Remember, kids, there is a positive correlation between the number of elves in a book/movie/comic/whatever and its level of crappiness. This comic also features magicians from the DC universe. Here, maybe I could have learned something. I don't know much about the magicians of the DC universe. On the basis of this comic's depiction of them, I have decided: I wasn't missing much.

[2007 update: turned off commenting on this item; it's apparently a magnet for spammers]

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Site Update: Hogwarts Inside Out

I posted a write-up of the wacky fun times I had in and around the Hogwarts Game. Some of you puzzle-hunt freaks have already found this. Typical.

  • Play-testing with Continental Breakfast: As an experiment, I played with a different team, see how they approach things differently. A non-trivial percentage of the team was from Australia, and yet they never, ever chewed on eucalyptus leaves. Apparently, that's a myth. Anyhow, this was a play-test, a fortnight ahead of the game proper. We ran into weird stuff so you wouldn't have to.
  • Puzzle Construction Parties: After the playtest, I volunteered with Team Snout, GC for the game. Here, you can find out the answer to the question: what if a magical wand looked more like a mechanical wang? Also in this episode: bonus summary of conversation with Yar Woo.
  • Game Control HQ Operations: During the game itself. I volunteered with Game Control. I spent a lot of time in a motel room worrying about phones. Meanwhile, the people around me couldn't stop talking in British accents. Can you spot the four major mistakes I made? Can you guess how many years' worth of life I cost my fellow GC folks, just from stressing them out? (That was a rhetorical question.)

Careful, this write-up is long. Depending on which part of The Game you like, you might not be interested in the play-test, the GCHQ behind-the-scenes, or what-have-you. No, really, it's long. You gotta pace yourself. I'm just warning you is all.

In more recent news: I gave away my TV and XBox twenty minutes ago. I reclaimed nearly half a square meter of floor space. That's a non-trivial percentage of my teeny-tiny apartment. Which I hereby declare to be back on its way towards habitability.

See, I paused a little bit before starting to type this paragraph. That was me getting up and doing a little spin-move this in this freed-up floor space. I couldn't extend my arms as I did this, of course. They would have bumped into a wall and/or knocked over that floor lamp. But I could totally have made that move with arms akimbo.

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Sacramento

Team Snout has revealed their secret behind-the-scenes view of The Hogwarts Game. How much planning went into this game? A lot. Go read. And if they spelled your name wrong, you can fix it.

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