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Made it to January 17 [Jan. 18th, 2011|02:36 pm]
It's likely that everyone who cares already knows this, but for completeness I suppose I should really post about it.

This weekend my team, Metaphysical Plant, ran the MIT Mystery Hunt, and I think it went as well as it possibly could have. There were some stressful moments, a few (maybe 4?) errata, and a bit of server trouble, but I'd like to think the things we did well outweighed the minor snafus.

In particular, I am extremely grateful to everyone who helped make kickoff a success. It was a complicated enough process that I had to call a cue-to-cue the night before, and slept poorly that night, terrified of how it would go. Thanks to an excellent effort by all those conscripted to do everything from hang a sheet between balconies, to stage managing (thanks Jenn!), to shooing people off the balcony, I think it went off as smoothly as I could have hoped. The result can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojR9XgXQCkU

This is my blog, so I will be narcissistic for a moment and mention the puzzles that I wrote or co-wrote. I pretty much took a bunch of my hobbies and made them into puzzles:

Keyboard Cat
Scrambling Attributes Yields Conundrum
Stuff Nerd People Like
Rocky Horror
A Modern Palimpsest

Every Hunt is going to have ups and downs for people--the combination of lack of sleep and living with strangers in a small room for two days is bound to yield some unpleasant moments. Nonetheless I had a great time running this year and I think my teammates did as well.

I'm really excited that we had a significant number of people continue to solve until HQ shut down. We had two teams on the endgame runaround at 3:17, and though I don't know when the last answer was called in, I got the impression that the solving was still going strong near the end. This was a huge goal, and it's great how many people and teams played along with it.

I am always amazed at how awesome people can be. In particular, this year one of our team members more or less spontaneously produced the portal-themed credits sequence that we showed at wrap-up, which makes me smile every time I hear it. (http://robot.koiproductions.org/Still%20Unsolved%20Final%20Med.mp4) Yay for all the awesome people on Plant, the awesome people who solved, and the awesome people who have the dubious honor of writing next year. Good Luck!
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(no subject) [Feb. 1st, 2010|01:55 pm]
Where could I get enough liquid nitrogen to make ice cream for ~40 people at a company function?
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(no subject) [Jan. 20th, 2010|05:12 pm]
Posting a message from a co-worker:

This is a quick email note to ask for your help. This Saturday, CrisisCamp will bring together volunteers in Boston, MA to collaborate on technology projects which aim to assist in Haiti's relief efforts by providing data, information, maps and technical assistance to NGOs, relief agencies and the public. Work will be motivated by needs in Haiti, but with an eye toward resuable tools for future disasters.

Liz and I are on the organizing team, and we'd love to have some or all of you come help. Developers will be designing, writing, and debugging software, while technical non-developers can contribute by finding and supplying data, providing ideas and feedback, or doing other project-specific work.

More information is available at these sites:

Information, including sign-up, for CrisisCamp Boston: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/541831633

CNN coverage of last weekend's camps: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/01/19/tech.camp.haiti/index.html?hpt=T2

Main page for the CrisisCommons organization, including a list of some of the projects (also includes a wiki with much more information): http://www.crisiscommons.org

You can get involved by:

Signing up to participate in Crisis Camp Boston. We will have more information about projects and skills needed by Friday, and we'll try to tune projects to the skills of volunteers, both technical or non-technical.

Spreading the word to your network about the event—use Twitter, Facebook, mailing lists, Linked In networks, etc. to galvanize the Boston tech community to action. Other CrisisCamp events have included representatives from local Government and NGO disaster preparedness offices, so the events are certainly not limited to programmers.

Donation of supplies: ITA Software in Cambridge has volunteered to host this event, providing work space, wifi connectivity and beverages. Nametags, markers, large paper pads, power strips, extension cords, and breakfast foods are all items that can be readily useful.
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(no subject) [Jan. 19th, 2010|09:54 pm]
Just as soon as I decide I maybe don't have to hate my country so much, I have to hate my seemingly safe state. Way to fuck yourselves in the ass people of Massachusetts, but I hear the person you elected doesn't think you should be doing that. By the way, when you lose your health insurance, you have a state option to protect you. But I guess you're just special and the rest of the country can just go to hell.
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(no subject) [Oct. 26th, 2009|09:18 am]
So apparently a man got arrested for making coffee in his house while naked. Excuse me, are we not allowed to be naked in our own homes? If I forget to draw the drapes before changing to take a shower, is that going to end with me in jail? There are times I absolutely despise my puritanical stick-up-our-pristine-white-fucking-asses country.
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(no subject) [Oct. 8th, 2009|12:48 pm]
Politically, I am a registered independent who almost always votes Democrat, but who has a libertarian sympathy (while also thinking that the Libertarian party itself is a little bit scary). I am an extreme social liberal--as far as I'm concerned there should be no censorship or decency laws and marriage should be abolished--and my fiscal beliefs teeter between progressive and totalitarianistic. I didn't realize how terrified I was that Obama would lose until he won. I couldn't stop smiling afterward.

I like to think that in general I appreciate both sides of an issue. I am pro-choice, but I do understand the feelings of those who consider abortion murder. I believe in a public health insurance option, but I agree that we don't want to box ourselves in to having long waiting periods for "elective" procedures, like at MRI to find out why one's shoulder is excruciatingly painful all the time.

But I have to say, nearly every time any conservative Republican opens his or her mouth these days, they seem to me to be childish, whiny, not constructive, bitter, and mean. I feel that basically everything I hear from them is not just something I disagree with, but genuinely stupid and/or wrong on facts. "Get your government hands off my Medicare" takes the cake, but I feel like the intelligent, well-argued Republican is becoming scarce. And the fact that a huge swath of the country wants that Palin woman to be president makes me want to move to England.

What I wish I knew is, would I feel this way if I agreed with their side? Is this just my reaction to disagreeing with them, or are they actually acting like bratty children putting their fingers in their ears and screaming "no, no, no, no!"? Would I view Palin's inarticulateness as endearing (the way I do Biden's gaffe's) if she supported health-care reform and clean energy? I really think that right now my side is the only one conducting themselves with a modicum of decency, but maybe that's just what everyone always thinks.
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(no subject) [Oct. 2nd, 2008|01:08 pm]
thedan posted this, and I think it's totally worth watching (with apologies to our mutual friends who now have it twice on their friends pages).

Register to vote!

Though in point of fact, I pretty strongly believe that uninformed people should not vote. I personally don't vote in elections where I don't know anything about the candidates or situation, and I think the fact that GWB is in office with such a low approval rating shows that a lot of people didn't know enough when they voted four years ago.

But my friends are smart informed people. You all should vote. :)
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(no subject) [Oct. 2nd, 2008|01:04 pm]
Do you think Katie Couric has any personal feelings of animosity against Palin at this point? Like, does she get up in the morning thinking "damn, I have to interview that f***ing moron from Alaska again today"? I absolutely love that she pins the chick down on specifics (or tries to, since Palin can't actually say anything specific ever), but I wonder if someone who has respect for Alaska nitwit would think it was disrespectful or abrasive?
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Yet another reason I should not have children [Sep. 25th, 2008|07:59 pm]
The Sarah Palin meme. (Or, how cruel can you be to your children?)

Sarah Palin married her high school boyfriend, Todd Palin, on August 29, 1988. The Palin family lives in Wasilla, about 45 miles (72 km) north of Anchorage. The Palins have two sons (Track, 19, and Trig, four months) and three daughters (Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7) [ages as of August 2008]. Todd Palin has said Track's name came from the interest Sarah's parents had in the sport and the fact that he was born in the sport's season; Bristol was named after Bristol Bay in Alaska, where Todd grew up and where he does commercial fishing; Willow was named after Willow, Alaska; Piper got her name because it is uncommon and "a cool name"; Trig's name is Norse for "strength".

1)Your first-born will be named after your favorite sport:

2)Your second-born will be named after a nearby area that you're not from but you like the sound of part of the name, and maybe you have nostalgic memories of said place:

3)Your third-born will be named after another nearby place, for no reason other than you already have two children and don't have time to put much thought into another name:

4)Your fourth gets a "cool" name:

5)Your fifth gets something mythological, possibly straight out of Lord of the Rings:

Who do you think life would suck for more: Hockey, Zelda, or Lockport?
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(no subject) [Jun. 26th, 2008|10:45 am]
I've mentioned this to several people individually so I think it's worth a public service announcement.

Those of you without dental insurance should check out: http://www.dentalplans.com/moreinfo/dentalplans101.asp

Basically a discount dental plan is a card that costs on the order of $100 a year that makes your dental procedures cheaper. Sometimes is makes them cost $0, sometimes just less, and it mostly applies to routine sorts of things (check-ups, x-rays, fillings, etc), but there are many different ones. You need to find one that your dentist takes and that works for you, but if you go to the dentist twice a year (like you are supposed to) it will most likely save you money.
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