Site Update: Food Photos

That day when I ate at all of the cafeterias at work (a few weeks ago), I brought along a camera, yay! Uhm, but I ran out of batteries early on and I hadn't brought any spares, whoops. So I emerged with only four photos. Ideally, I would have emerged with many many photos and chosen the best four. Ah well. Nevertheless, these photos do bring back memories. I look at them and I feel so full. Then again, maybe that's because I just ate some tamales. And some bread dipped in olive oil. And a couple of carrots.

It's like I'm in training for when the 18th cafeteria comes along.

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even in ur phonez dispatchin ur teamz

I liked the part in Dale's post-Game GC writeup where he talks about programming the phone system. I especially like the part where he mentions that it was cheap to set up for inital development/testing. Talking with Snout about voice systems wasn't so reassuring. "Well, one of us worked at Hearme, so we got this free testing account...". But $11 a month for a few months sounds workable. And it's good to learn new things.

Like last weekend, I found out that the jelly from jelly rolls is not the same as hair gel. It's not so difficult to notice the difference; bees can distinguish between them quite easily.

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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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Book Report: Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

Last night, I watched Word for Word perform Lorrie Moore's short story "Which is More than I can Say About Some People." Wow, what a great short story. It was fun seeing it performed, but it was also fun remembering reading that story the first time.

After the performance, Lorrie Moore got up on stage and conversed with local author Dan Handler. One thing she mentioned is that many short story writers get people pestering them: "You should write a novel." She said that she herself had never been so pestered. Anyhow, I read her Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?. And it was nice, but not so exquisite as the stories in Birds of America. Am I damning Who Will Run the Frog Hospital? with faint praise? I hope not.

This novella has symbolism--our heroine has a job working at a place called Storyland, an amusement park of illusory innocence. When she grows up, she gets kicked out. It's about learning to live with acknowledged imperfections, about figuring out what doesn't matter, about friendship. If I were a high school student taking an English class, I'd probably prefer to read this book than to read, say, A Separate Peace.

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Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, including outside a local cafe

Today was the YABA 2005 treasure hunt game, run by Alexandra Dixon. I volunteered to help out. Game control has to do many things. Scout the course, design puzzles, playtest, print puzzles, set up, run the game, clean up. Wow.

Fortunately, I didn't do much of that today. My tough job: sit outside a cafe and eat some salad and a couple of slices of apple tart. I was manning a "clue hub". Teams were solving puzzles; those puzzles directed them to places around the neighborhood. When they were halfway through the game, they visited me at the cafe to pick up a second batch of clues.

So teams showed up. I handed over clues. I nibbled at my tart and waited for more teams to show up. Meanwhile a crowd of teams built up around the intersection, sitting on bus stop benches and in doorways.

I watched one team. One member had nicked himself with scissors; he was bleeding. He called out for tape. A team member had a tape dispenser mounted on his wrist and handed over some tape for a jury-rigged bandage. Wow, a tape dispenser on his wrist. That guy was ready for anything. That's why they were a master team.

Some non-playing fellows at the next table wanted to know what all the excitement was about. Why were there all these people sitting around solving puzzles? I talked a bit about it. One guy said that he had run some scavenger hunt games in NYC. I asked if it was the Haystack Game; it wasn't. He'd just run some little games for friends. I wrote down Alexandra's URL on a piece of paper and handed it to him so he could get links to local games. Moving from NYC to San Francisco is no excuse to give up gaming.

Wesley Chan sat down at a chair across the table from me. Wes was also volunteering--he was bicycling along the course, snapping photos. He looked really tired, more tired than I would have expected. What was up with Wesley? Oh, he was moving this weekend. He was moving to Noe Valley. Eventually he forced himself back up to his feet; he was back in photo-taking mode. As for me, I went back to my tart.

I munched and looked around. I saw people solving puzzles. They seemed to be concentrating; they seemed to be having a good time. A week before, I'd been on a plane to Tennessee to attend a funeral. This was more fun. I hoped to attend more puzzle hunts and fewer funerals in the near future.

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