Site Update: More Library Handcarts

Yeah, I know you want a game report. Yesterday was BANG17, which was pretty awesome. Even if the game hadn't been awesome, it would have been a good excuse to hang out for a day with some folks who I hadn't seen in too long a time: Andrea took a break from her hectic almost-graduated grad student schedule; Lofty Dave recovered from a cold just in time; Paul Du Bois drove up from San Jose.

Plus it was good to meet some new-to-me folks. Paul's Double Fine co-worker Pete Demoreuille was introduced as "Smart Pete" and lived up to his nickname. I got wrapped in aluminum foil by The Smoking Gnu. I met Paul, the mysterious force behind the Bay Area Night Game wiki. I found out that Michael of team Taft on a Raft knows some Double Fine folks.

But I'm not going to try to write about that now. Today, I've been kind of a wreck. I didn't get much sleep Friday night, and so early Saturday I drank an excessive amount of coffee. I was doing my Buzzy the Hummingbird impression all day. Today, I went cold turkey on the sauce. I've mostly been napping. When I haven't been napping, I haven't been... effective. Like just now I opened up a big jug of orange juice to pour myself a glass, and tossed the jug cap. I didn't want to do that--I needed to re-cap the jug. What saved me from fishing the cap out of the trash? I was so spacey that my toss missed the garbage bin.

The only worthwhile thing I got done today was to prepare some photos from yesterday. These aren't the BANG 17 photos. I have a few of those, but they're not ready yet. You can look at Lofty's photos, starting with this one showing most of the team covering a Smoking Gnu with foil.

I have photos of what I did before the game: photos of book trucks from Doe Library. I now have two hand cart photos showing graffiti in languages I can't read. One in (I guess) Chinese and one in (I guess) Arabic.

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Book Report: Malcolm X

Here I sit in a dark train somewhere in the vicinity of Menlo Park. The train is dark and stopped. An alarm bell rings constantly. We have stopped because we hit a car. At first, this was a sad scary thing to have done--until we heard that there wasn't anyone in the car. Now we sit and wait for a tow truck to tug away the car, wait for track inspectors to give us the all-clear to move forward again. I suppose I'll get home tonight, but not as early as I'd hoped. I'm learning to ignore the bell. I could try to convince you that this was a major ordeal, but I don't think you'd believe me, nor should you. I've had an easy life. Not like Malcolm X. I read a comic book about him.

It's a comic book biography by Andrew Helfer and Randy deBurke. It's pretty good. I'd read a couple of not-so-interesting short biographies of Malcolm X. So I decided that his life was not-so-interesting. I picked up this comic because it had pretty art. And I read it. And it was interesting. So maybe I should read a longer biography.

The short biographies I'd read glossed over X's criminal years. But even then, there were signs of charisma, of creativity. The comic book is a good way to show the people who appear only at scattered times across a life--though I might not remember the name, I remember the face.

[10:15pm update: the train is moving again, limping along towards civilization. I'll get home eventually. Maybe it's a good thing I won't get much sleep tonight. Tomorrow is BANG 17, and if my team were to win that, we'd have to host a BANG ourselves. Maybe I can arrange to doze off halfway through, forcing my team to drag me through the streets of Berkeley...]

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even Sweden

Oh, cool! Raymond Chen posted a comment about rebusrally. At least I guess it was Raymond Chen. Maybe it was just some other Swedish/English speaker, and they wanted to mess with my head.

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Book Report: Ilium

Raymond Chen, celebrity blogger, gave a talk at my place of employment yesterday. Afterwards, I went up to ask him a question. (Well, OK, to request that he apply his combination of knowledge of English, Swedish, and puzzles to blog a report of what goes on at Rebusrally.) But before I asked, he looked at me and asked if we'd already met. That was spooky. And he looked at me pretty closely. Spooky. He was just trying to figure out if/how he recognized me. Still, spooky. I haven't spent that much time in the Seattle area. And it's been a couple of years since my last visit. Spooky. I think that was the feeling that Dan Simmons went for when he wrote Ilium.

This book is sci-fi. It starts out pretty strangely. I wondered how the author was going to explain how things had reached such a strange state. Then I reached the explanation. It was pretty dumb. It might not be the "real" explanation, maybe just a wrong theory by one of the book's characters. Maybe I'm supposed to pick up the sequel to find out what's really going on. I don't think I'll bother. Still, I have no regrets about buying this book--it was something to read during a flight from Chicago when it was too cloudy outside to look down at the geography sliding past.

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Book Report: Rain or Shine

You want to read this book. It's short, it's easy. It has rodeo announcing, stirring human drama, show business, the changing face of the American West, junk food wrappers. The writer, Cyra McFadden, is the daughter of Cy Taillon, who was apparently the world's most famous rodeo announcer. He toured from town to town, from show to show. For a while, he brought his family with them. They had adventures, dull spots, fights. Go read now.

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Pirate-themed Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even the Castro

Even if it didn't conflict with No More Secrets weekend, I'm not sure I'd play in a treasure hunt run by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. That sounds like more fun than I could stand.

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Book Report: Disgrace

This past weekend I spent plenty of time in the company of BATH folks doing secret things. Normally I'd be bouncing up and down and eager to tell you about what happened, but... Actually, even if I wasn't sworn to secrecy, I wouldn't be bouncing up and down right now. By Sunday, I was running a sleep deficit. Let's hope that made me a better puzzle playtester, simulating "the stupid hours". Now it's Monday and I'm still behind on sleep. Nothing makes sense, I stumble around, I stare slack-jawed at the world, I mumble incoherently, I make no sense, I can not write.

Good thing I have an old pre-written book report about the novel Disgrace:

This novel by J.M. Coetzee is set in South Africa. It has symbolisms aplenty. If you read this book and you knew someone else who read this book, then you could have a conversation about the thin veneer of Western Civilization. You could talk about the use of various things as metaphors for a state of grace. You could... oh good grief, I certainly hope that you could find better things to talk about.

Whatever. I'm going to bed.

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Site Update: Photos of Library Book Trucks

So far, this page of photos of library book trucks only has a few photos. But I'm setting it up anyhow. I've taken other photos of library book truck graffiti--and thrown those photos out because I didn't have a good place to put them. A few weeks back, I went to Doe Library and some of those decorated book trucks were locked up, look like maybe they were heading for the junkyard. I was regretting not keeping those photos. Didn't one of those carts have a label making a funny Sisyphus allusion? Maybe now I'd never remember.

From now on when I take goofy photos of library carts, I'll know where to keep them.

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Book Report: The Man Who Was Thursday

People keep telling me how great G.K. Chesterton was. So I read one of his books, The Man Who Was Thursday. It had some fun sentences, some witty banter, some good paragraphs, but the book overall was disappointing. There was philosophy, perhaps an attempt to make philosophy tangible? Bah. If someone tries to convince you to read The Man Who Was Thursday but you're dubious, you have my permission to skip this book.

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Site Update: Conversations Before the 2007 GC Summit

Maybe you've already watched the videos of the GC Summit 2007 presentations, where folks talked about how they make The Game fun. I'm sure glad I watched it. I'm a Game newbie and it was pretty eye-opening to realize how much the Game has changed just in the last few years. Anyhow, if you were going to watch those videos, you probably already have.

You probably haven't read the transcript of some of the hatter that happened before the summit. You probably haven't read it because I just now got around to finishing typing it up. But you can read it now if you're into that sort of thing. Mostly, it was some folks talking about Overnightmare. Hey, it's not much, but it's all I've got.

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Book Report: Heat

Bill Buford's previous book Among the Thugs was wonderfully brutal and scary, so I figured I'd like this book about restaurant kitchens and butchery. It's fascinating. He talks about how chefs learn, how they pick up muscle memory, how they slave for each other so they can watch and steal secrets. He talks about butchery of all nations, how the Italians have words for pieces of a pig that folks from other countries wouldn't think of as a distinct pig part. There are kitchen politics, nasty petty fights between people who spend hours working side by side. GoReadNow.

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Milestone: 8 Million Hits

Wow, it's the site's eight-millionth hit! Please pardon me as I now babble on about web minutiae. Starting with... let's take a look at the log of that hit: - - [02/Apr/2007:13:03:28 -0400] "GET /slick.css HTTP/1.1" 200 2812 "" "Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20070312 Firefox/"

This hit came from IP address, and whois tells me that's at the Savannah College of Art and Design in famous Savannah, Georgia, USA. Here, they're loading the style sheet file that goes a web page. Strangely, when I check my logs, I don't see that this person actually got the web page itself. Perhaps they had it cached from a previous visit? Perhaps my web server doesn't log everything perfectly? Perhaps I'm not as good at reading these records as I think I am? I don't know.

Last time the site hit such a milestone, I showed some site information that I got from Yahoo! Site Explorer, Yahoo!'s service for sharing information with webmasters. Yahoo! had some interesting information about my site that I couldn't get from my own records or from Google: a list of pages on other sites that linked to my site. (This is probably a good time to repeat that my opinions are mine, not my employer's.) A few days after that, I got a message from Vanessa saying that she wanted to meet for lunch. Vanessa is on the Google Webmaster Central team; i.e., she works on Google's service for sharing information with webmasters, the counterpart to Yahoo!'s Site Explorer.

On the way to lunch, we walked through a parking lot. Vanessa mentioned that she'd noticed my blog post about Yahoo! Site Explorer. Ah, Vanessa had noticed that I was saying nice things about our competitors. I glanced around nervously. The parking lot was empty, except for us. We were in the parking lot at Vanessa's request--she'd dropped something off in her car. I remembered that Vanessa was a fan of the old TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". The heroine of that show solves her problems by shoving wooden stakes through their hearts. It occurred to me that if my way of dealing with problem people was to shove wooden stakes through their hearts, then a good first step might be to lure those people out to some place with no witnesses--such as an abandoned parking lot. I hadn't heard anything about Vanessa solving problems via the pointy stick method; then again, if she was sufficiently good at it, perhaps there would have been no survivors to tell me about it. I think I said something clever like "Oh ha ha ha you noticed that blog post, eh?" Vanessa was in pretty good shape; in a fair fight, she could probably put me down. My legs were longer; I could probably outrun her.

She didn't stab me, of course. She wasn't angry; she looked happy. She smiled and said that Google Webmaster Central had a new feature, a feature that I would like. And she was right. It was a list of pages on other sites that linked to my site, noting which pages on my site they linked to. It listed more sites than Yahoo! had found, too. It was a lot of data, data that made me happy.

So now I'll list some other sites that link to this site, sites that didn't get mentioned in my previous post about the data from Yahoo!.

  • GeoURL links to pages based on geography. I've tagged some of my site's pages with latitude/longitude coordinates, and thus they are listed.
  • It's pages of search results. Normally if you run a search engine, you ask that your search results pages not be crawled/found by other search engines. Otherwise it looks like you're trying to serve spam pages on topics like "hamachi".
  • When people post rebuttals to my blog posts, they do so via So there are a bunch of pages that have links back to my blog posts.
  • In theory, this web service allows you to maintain a "to do" list. I played with it for a while and then pretty much stopped. Still, when I did things that resulted in web pages, I used this service to link to those web pages.
  • en.wikipedia Apparently, I am a world authority on a few niche-y topics. Thus, some of my writings get linked from there. Also, people want to know what some things look like--things that real photographers don't bother to take photos of, but which I do. Thus, my photos occasionally get linked.
  • Hmm, Tim Bishop hasn't posted to his blog for a while. Back when he did post, I posted some snarky replies, and those linked back to my site.
  • Hmm, a dubious-looking page of search results surrounded by annoying animated ads. Hmm, the documentation for this link-listing tool did mention something about not filtering for webspam. Yeesh, the internet is a mess. Let's move on.
  • Yes, I occasionally post snide remarks to Slashdot the nerdly news site.
  • My Paris travelogue annoyed this guy so much that he wrote a rant against it.
  • Some people use to bookmark pages on this site. ( user featured in this sample link: Irwando of Team Sharkbait, yayy!)
  • Links to the Daily Nonsense page as a "fun" site. Is this a good time to say "Happy National Poetry Month!"? Oh wait, I guess that .ca at the end of their domain name means that they are Canadian. They probably don't celebrate the USA national poetry month. Philistines.
  • It's that book recommendation site I use; my profile page there links back to this site.
  • If your memory is very, very good then you might remember that a couple of puzzle hunts have refered to the ancient Japanese game Genjikou. Someone in Japan wrote a report on Genjikou and linked to one of my puzzle hunt write-ups. Apparently I am a world authority in some niche-y things.
  • Static Zombie Peter Sarrett blogs about a few things, including puzzle hunts. I have been known to leave a snide comment.
  • Spectre Collie Chuck Jordan made the mistake of working with me once--he was young and needed the money. Now he must endure me posting snide comments on his blog.
  • San Francisco Trusts in Cod This music band home page links to the No-Name Sushi menu.
  • Schneier on Security Once every couple of years, I feel obliged to post a comment on Bruce Schneier's blog.
  • inside looking out Charles Ying made the mistake of working with me once-- What's that? I already used that joke? OK, I'll stop.
  • Of Time and the River used one of my photos and gave me a photo credit
  • Hacker Tourism notes that I am a self-proclaimed hacker tourist.
  • Mobygames I worked for a year in the videogames industry, and it was all worth it for that link
  • Mirror Project Occasionally I take a photo of myself in the mirror. E.g., this one right after I took my pants off.
  • Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO I occasionally post unhelpful advice here.
  • Hogwarts Game write-up links to my write-up, which in turn links back there. It's a puzzle-hunt linkitude love-fest.
  • LOMO.HOMES: LENE2000 A. E. Graves has a few weird cameras. When she wants to post photos from her "lomo" camera, they go here.
  • Linkstew A few years ago, I left some comments in Benjy Stewart's blog. A year ago, I left some graffiti on his office whiteboard.
  • Jason Kottke is a highly acclaimed web developer, but any schmoe can post comments on his blog.
  • Lorem Ipsum Is there any blog out there on the WWW that I haven't posted a comment on?
  • Isotope A while back, I posted something about this local comic book store. Then they posted blog entry noting that I had posted about them. Now here I am posting about this blog entry noting their link to me. I think we have discovered the perpetual motion machine for the web.
  • In Passing... Another place I have posted comments. Everybody in the world is welcome to know my opinion about anything.
  • Firearm Buzz This website claims to have reviewed one of my web pages and determined that it's about ninja smoke bombs. For their level of quality, "reviewed" == "looked at the title, ignored the article". Frickin' webspam garbage.
  • Eve Andersson Back when the WWW was mostly chemistry grad students posting their office hours, a set of excellent web pages burst forth about the glory of the number Pi. That page was the work of Eve Andersson. When I have some meager pi-related information to share, I offer it up to her.
  • Japan Forum German language speakers discuss Japanese performers of Jamaican-style music and link to an American's web site. I feel so cosmopolitan.
  • Defective Yeti Considering the name of Matthew Baldwin's awesome blog, you wouldn't think I'd need to post a comment with the correct spelling of "Wookiee".
  • I said disparaging things about penis jokes on a website called ""?
  • Markov Googler It seemed like a good halfbaked idea at the time, I'm sure.
  • Black Pine Circle School: Us Never write your "about" page after going without sleep for three days.
  • Blorvak Even though someone helped create the excellent comic "Oddjob", I still feel obliged to post cryptic comments on their blog.
  • (link omitted) Do you remember a while back when AOL intentionally exposed the web history of some of their users? One of those users visited my site. Another site set up a pretty web site listing all of the pages that this user visited. That page links to my site. I won't link to it, though. AOL figured out that they were wrong to expose that information. It sure would be nice if that web site were to stop propogating it.
  • All Consuming Yes, I am on All Consuming. I can not think of anything to say about it right now, though.
  • This is a site where I carefully keep track of which concerts I will never get around to attending.
  • I worked on a program called Skitter Tag: where Open Source meets Abandonware!!
  • Scout Technologies I posted a modern art/embedded software joke as a comment on Julie Farago's blog. Apparently, I have no shame.
  • I can no longer remember why I wanted a profile
  • rodcorp Good grief. How many links does Google know about? I can't keep typing up cute little remarks about all of these! I think I will stop soon.
  • I could have sworn that I saw some "2.0" version of the Mapper OfDoom that used Google maps to display the maps. Whatever happened to that?
  • Tom Lester's photos from that road trip we took a few years back
  • Oh gee I forgot about that until just now.
  • 43 People Another robot co-op page. Here, I name-drop more web celebrities.
  • The Ageless Project In which we learn that I am older than dirt.
  • In China, I am regarded as a world expert on how to write "sushi" in English.
  • Geoswiki Wow, someone out there still cares about GEOS? Bless them.
  • Many beings leave comments on Kevin Fox's blog. Unlike many of those beings, I am human and not a spambot.
  • Engineering & Where I requested some technical support
  • Yahoo!.com Remember the Yahoo! web directory?
  • de.wikipedia An editor of the German wikipedia links to my site and seems to anticipate a day when the German wikipedia needs an entry for "Laurence Hoskens"? I suspect he's going to have a difficult time researching that topic.
  • I Blame the Patriarchy Despite my ongoing oppression of women, I occasionally dare to post comments on this blog.
  • Notes from the BillMonk Chuck Groom, not to be confused with Chuck Jordan, made the mistake of working with me for a... Oh, I'm just plain out of jokes.
  • le cadavre exquise I am tired. So tired. I don't know what to write about these links anymore. Please let the links stop?
  • Andrew Chatham I never would have made this post in Andrew's blog if I thought I was going to have to try to think of something to write about the resulting link now.
  • If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said that I thought that livejournal was pretty cool. But right now I would rather gnaw my fingers off than try to think of something to say about it.

Aiyee! That's enough. There's still at least another hundred sites to write about but... No. No more. My brain. So tired. So very tired.

I suppose that Vanessa had her revenge on me after all.

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Site Update: The Basic Eight vs Lowell High School

(Today is April Fool's Day, but this is not an April Fool's Day prank.)

The Basic Eight is a novel by Daniel Handler. It's set in Roewer High School. Daniel Handler went to Lowell High School a year behind me. I've heard rumors of this book, that it's a roman a clef or whatever. I finally got around to reading the book, recognized a couple of English teachers. I tried searching the internet to find out if someone had noted down the Roewer/Lowell parallels. There were a couple of scattered mentions, but no big list. So I guess it's up to me to start one and to solicit help. Behold a link to a new web page:

The Basic Eight vs. Lowell HIgh School

So far, it's a short list of "knowns" and a long list of "I have no idea". And an email address by which you can set me straight.

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