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June 18th, 2005

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05:39 pm - Random walk
Good luck to everyone trying the World Puzzle Championship qualifying test at 6pm BST (1pm EDT) today. The preview instructions reveal what sort of puzzles there are going to be - this year's batch look like lots of fun, though very hard. The Su Doku variants look particularly intriguing. If I can score eighty points this year then I'll be pretty pleased about it. Debrief here afterwards, perhaps?

Poll #515599 The most famous specific locations in the world

Imagine, if you will, that you have to meet up with somebody who you don't know and can't contact. A specific time is agreed, but the two of you must guess the same location in order to meet, which can be anywhere in the world. Where do you guess?

Imagine that you have to meet up with somebody who you don't know and can't contact. A specific time is agreed, but the two of you must guess the same location in order to meet, which can be anywhere in London. Where do you guess?

Imagine that you have to meet up with a LiveJournal user who you don't know and can't contact. A specific time is agreed, but the two of you must guess the same location in order to meet, which can be anywhere in London. Where do you guess?

Last month, the Times featured an article about Experimental Travel - ways to deliberately introduce arbitrary artificiality into a holiday in the hope that it will make the trip more interesting. On reflection, the subject crops up from time to time elsewhere, the Indy wrote about it in February because Lonely Planet had written a book about it and CNN got there first in 2003. Of course, if you like reading the master rather than the pupils, here's the original site - sadly, the English translation isn't comprehensive.

The one that caught my attention - and CNN's - is "erotourism" - "where a couple heads to the same town but travels there separately. The challenge is to find one another abroad. He and his wife of 30 years have engaged in the erotic pursuit in five cities and have managed to hook up every time." One might have thought that, upon re-encounter, the couple might claim not to recognise each other and, instead, happen to pick each other up for a holiday fling. Perhaps this could be a way to recapture the initial excitement of falling in love, with its courtship rituals and attendant taboos to be broken? Perhaps this could be a safe, sane and consensual (hooray!) way of playing at cheating upon each other without getting hurt? In any case, I am fully prepared to believe his claimed 5/5 success rate. I suspect it probably gets easier the more you think and talk about it in advance, too.

(This, of course, raises the question "Is there a game show to be made from this?" - a question to which the answer is, as usual, "It could be a round of a show".)

On Thursday and Friday I went to London, at least in part to see wmk06 on her tour of London and Amsterdam. You can guess the rest of the story, can't you?

The trip down was uneventful, other than the coach I wanted to take being completely booked out in advance, forcing me to rise at 6:30am to get the 8:10am coach. Upon arrival, I holed myself up at the food court above Victoria station and solved puzzles for a couple of hours. beingjdc phoned when his workday finished - the first call I had received on a real live mobile phone of my own, eek! - and we managed to meet up without incident. This mobile phone ownership lark has its advantages. We met up, went to a pub, took a tube to Angel, went to another pub and went to the "Masala Zone" Indian restaurant in Islington.

It was slightly less good than when I went with Meg: the service was much less fast and my strawberry-and-vanilla lassi was disappointing. (John's watermelon juice would have been lovely if it had been properly chilled.) Nevertheless, the main course was fine and the dessert was pretty good. Meg had a fantastic mango sorbet when we visited at the start of the year; I couldn't remember what it was, and ordered the mango kulfi (fibrous ice-cream). It was pretty good, but the sorbet would likely have been better. (John had the lemon sorbet - pretty good but not, as Michael Winner would say, historic.) Still firmly my first choice for Indian food in London.

After that, John went off to see katstevens and company in their band, but I felt that industrial metal ska-punk was not my thing to the point where I took citizenpsmith up on his offer and nipped up to the Finchley Games Club instead. It was my first trip to a games club to play games for far too long (since late 2003, I think) and I was pleased to see that the state of the art had advanced somewhat. I enjoyed learning one new game, Attika (with a k!) - mostly tile placement with a dash of card management. Definitely interesting. Back to meet up with beingjdc to stay overnight in his gaff near Bermondsey for a night's sleep and a quick web check. He has rather a natty bachelor pad.

Friday arrived and still no word from wmk06 about where and when to meet. Dearly hoping she was OK, I reverted to plan B: enjoying (most of) a day in London on my own. A trip to the museum of the Clockmaker's Institute wasn't as much fun as the clocks exhibit at the Britism Museum, though I did enjoy learning of the existence of the Worshipful Company of Playing Card Makers. It filled half an hour reasonably well.

Lunch was a pitta bread picked up from Tesco, then to the Apollo West End cinema near Piccadilly Circus to watch What the Bleep Do We Know!? - this is a second viewing after having seen it in Boston some time back, but it's not on general release. As I would have to make a journey just to go and watch the film, I decided to fit it into this particular trip. The movie deserves its own post; it's not very convincing, but it's the most interesting and thought-provoking film I've seen for some time and succeeds on that level. Looks gorgeous, too.

The Apollo West End cinema is tremendously pretty, full of neon changing colour spectrally, red-to-green-to-blue-to-magenta-and-back-to-red, and gorgeous toilets where the urinals (and, indeed, the urinal-style communal washtrough) were strangely filled of plastic ice-cubes. You'd expect such opulence considering the ticket cost £8.50. I also enjoyed the fact that I was going to be the only person watching the film in my own private showing, and enjoyed taking advantage of this by singing along to the Pearl and Dean "Asteroids" tune at full volume, safe in the knowledge that I wouldn't be disturbing anyone's enjoyment, though a second viewer came and joined me rather late.

After this I zoomed off to the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood, recognising that I would be able to give it the most cursory of half-hour rushes, only to discover it was closed on Fridays. Whoops. Ah well, at least I would be able to get back to Victoria in excellent time for my 4:30pm coach. Such excellent time, in fact, that I decided to hit a net café and check mail just once more. Turns out that the easyInternetCafé at Victoria has been replaced by an operation called "global net café", who had incidentally previously been operating as a subsidiary slightly-higher-cost, slightly-fuller-featured Internet café within the previous easy operation. The new owners have possibly one third as many computers as the old one, but at least they have staff present - we can be hopeful that this will go some way towards sorting out the rampant crime (locked to dezzikitty's Friends) under their previous operation.

Checked mail and word from wmk06, who had finally been able to get onto the Internet for the first time in several days, with profuse apology for not sorting out the meeting earlier. I replied saying that I was about to leave the 'net café and make my way back to the Victoria Coach Station. If, on the wild off-chance, she was within very close walking distance of Victoria, we could meet up very quickly on a "better than nothing" basis.

Inevitably, she was only sat three computers down from me in the very same Internet café.

We met! We hugged! We chatted briefly! I gave her a little book present that I bought, a passing amusement connected with her interest in genealogy. We enjoyed the unlikely circumstances inspiring the meeting; I became grateful for the "Bit Of A Wasted Journey" pointer being directed at my needless trip to Bethnal Green as an effective time-waster to make my trip and hers to the same Internet café coincide. What are the chances of that happening, eh? (insignificantly different from 0 a priori, 1 a postiori - Bayesian Ed.)

Now I wouldn't completely compare our coincident meeting with the erotourism mentioned earlier on the grounds that, yes, I mailed her to let her know where I was, which rather takes the skill out of meeting up. Nevertheless, I had never met her before and wouldn't have recognised her based on the picture in her icon, so I'm going to claim most (though not all) of the success. Recognising the person you're looking for is one thing; being together in the same place at the same time is another, and we certainly managed to achieve the second half of the deal.

So off to the coach and off home. The coach journey was terrible, because the air conditioning wasn't working; the driver obtained permission to insert an extra stop so we could buy water and delighted in telling us that the temperature in the coach was 34.6°C, having reached as high as 37°C earlier. For folk living in Farenheit countries, that's perilously close to body temperature. Frankly, I drank lots of water and the fine story to enjoy of the coincident meeting made up for the lousy journey.

Next trip: off to Boston to see dezzikitty at the start of July!
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: Radio Five athletics: men sucking, women sort-of-rocking

(43 comments | Leave a comment)


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[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 10:02 am (UTC)
Good luck on the test! I hope the site and the password get added very shortly. It's 2 mins. after the official start and I see nothing on the password page. :-/
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC)
Not sure that they can accurately load test these things after all. :-)

Did you get the password from the mirror site? That's what worked more quickly for me in the end.
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 10:21 am (UTC)
I expect to be commenting post-test, and will point you to the commentary when I do.

[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 11:10 am (UTC)

My location choices

I did not choose the obvious ones (Pyramids, Trafalgar Square, etc.) because with respect to someone I have not met before, and cannot contact, one doesn't want to meet in a place so large or populated or full of blind corners (which side of which Pyramid? Which end of Times Square?) that one could easily miss eachother.

One needs to be in a compressed place where someone standing about is fairly obvious, but there aren't too many like that (e.g. Chartes Cathedral, Charles Bridge, Great Wall of China).
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 11:30 am (UTC)
men sucking, women sort-of-rocking

This conjures up a curious image -- is it just me?

Glad that it wasn't just me who seemed to see no significant difference between the second and third questions -- what was your thinking in framing them?

I'm not sure about the erotourism idea as a way to reinject first-love feelings into a flagging relationship. Could be lovely, but if you don't manage to stumble across each other for a while, I can see people getting a wee bit irritated!

Very glad that you survived what sounds like a journey of torture! -- and good luck in the test, which I have to admit I'd forgotten about (despite your best attempts) and so am now too late for :-(
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 01:05 pm (UTC)
Ah, the hazards of the short "current music" box! I was listening to the commentary of the Europa Cup of athletics in which the British men's team are currently bottom of the top division and the British women's team are currently top of one of the two second divisions.

Q2 vs. Q3: curious to know whether the fact that the target is an LJ user changes things for the geekier. If you're playing the erotourism game, I think it does, if you can work out which internet cafe to hit.

The nice thing about erotourism is that even if you don't meet, you get to meet up and compare notes about whichever city it was you went to. Not as good as a meeting, but still fun in its way.

There's always next year! Start practicing now... ;-)
Date:June 18th, 2005 12:32 pm (UTC)
I claim 190! Off to watch Doctor Who now. Catch you later!
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 01:06 pm (UTC)

*applauds* You should turn professional!

How would you compare this year's to previous years'?
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 12:37 pm (UTC)
The baxterweb site was down when I tried sending my answers. I had to retype them out and send it to the other site. I was easily 3 minutes late because of that problem.

I wasn't expecting much to begin with. If I scored greater than 50 (pre-time penalties which were the fault of the server), I will be quite happy. Hopefully the answers will be posted soon.
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 01:13 pm (UTC)
Ah! I did everything on the mirror site in the end because the main site was slow the first time I tried it. I reckon the server might have been a minute fast on the mirror site, but we shall see. Eventually. :-)
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 12:43 pm (UTC)
Not so good this year. Well, the score's about right for my ability level, but I was really hoping to beat last year's score. :(
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 01:14 pm (UTC)
Part of the game is working out which are the easiest puzzles for you. (In my case, which ones I have a chance of solving at all!)

You'll get the sudokus in the end and be damn pleased about it when you do, I am quite sure. :-)
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 01:01 pm (UTC)
I really need to get myself a puzzle icon at some point.

Really enjoyed it this time! With luck and a following wind I might have scored 135, which ought not to be good enough to get into the British top four, but is perhaps what might be considered "a good club standard". If there were such things as puzzle clubs who competed in puzzle matches against each other. Which there will be by this time next year, right, oinomel71?

Here's the point where you point out my errors and my predicted score goes down, down, deeper on down...

NB SPOILER ALERT! I'm going to post this in white, so highlight it to read.

1. B2, J6, A7, E9. Did this first and it fell out straight away. Gentle start.

2. Nope. Couple of tries, nowhere.

3. SZARVAS. Wasted 2-3 minutes by putting in BALKANY where ZSADANY went and not spotting ZSADANY.

4. Didn't touch.

5. 1, 3, 1, 1. Quite a nice puzzle but instructions not completely clear. I think there was 1 difference in A vs. BCD, 3 in B vs. ACD, 1 in C vs. ABD and 1 in D vs. ABC, with 1 in AB vs. CD, 2 in AC vs. BD and 1 in AD vs. BC.

6. Didn't touch.

7. 40, I hope.

8. Didn't touch. I don't know how to even start "put letters into the grid" ones.

9. Didn't touch.

10. Nope. Interesting design, though. Couple of little tries.

11. 4, 1, 3, 6, 2, 2. Quite pleased to get this, if I have done. The tip for this is that the corners must always be filled with right angles, so make the corners be where the right angles can go.

12. Half-hearted effort.

13. Perhaps 10 minutes on this, but I couldn't get into this. I worked out that one of the across must be ASTHMABBREVIATE, then tried cross-referencing it against COPYRIGHTED and ONTHEWAYOUT and couldn't get things to work (or, if I could, I ended up with Y being the fourth last letter, which is impossible). Perhaps COPYRIGHTEDRAFT and ONTHEWAYOUTHIEF are also horizontal, but I don't know where to go after there.

14. Tried, failed.

15. D4, B3, E5, D5, E3. Enjoyed it.

16. 5, 9, 10. I worked on the principle that, as none of the numbers were divisible by three, they were likely to be aab, bbc, cca. Add the three numbers together and you get 72=3a+3b+3c so a+b+c=24. Then just try working through triplets adding up to 24 until something hits.

17. A1-D4, C2-F4, E2-E5. Quick and fun - save these sorts for the end of the test when your brain has gone out!

18. Didn't touch.

19. Placed three 1s, two 2s and a 3. Interesting and clever, though.

20. RAHPK, RMIOA, AORRA, LNYTA, TELGL. Second puzzle I did! Definitely harder than past ones of the type, but still the sort of thing to which I am naturally drawn.

21 and 22: didn't touch.
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 01:15 pm (UTC)
Hrm. I got 80 if I got them all right. But it was my first time! :)

I did the battleships, groundhogs, wordsearch and digital sudoku. I had the silly idea of starting the toroidal sudoku just after eight o'clock which was quite a bad idea as I didn't finish it and wasted my last half hour.

Still, I had a really good time and it distracted me from my tonsilly sickbed for a couple of hours. Thanks for telling me about this! :)
Date:June 18th, 2005 03:37 pm (UTC)
You should come down to New York at the start of July. Well, depending on when you'll be there, of course.
[User Picture]
Date:June 18th, 2005 10:21 pm (UTC)
Yes, he should definitely come to New York again. If nothing else, but to see my cool new apartment in Astoria, Queens. Woo! :)

Anyway, just wanted to mention that I love the idea of random travel, how cool is that? Also, the idea of traveling by primarily staying with Esperanto speakers that you meet along the way seems like it would also be a form of experimental travel, and one which I have done. How cool is that?! =)
Date:June 18th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC)
*does the math*

Darn it, when you were sitting in Victoria station, you were about five minutes from my office! I could have taken you to some far better sandwich shops round there than the rip-off places in the station food court, mumble mumble...

thanks for the layout compliment, btw :)

[User Picture]
Date:June 19th, 2005 10:37 am (UTC)
Do I really not look like my icon? Maybe because my hair was pulled back... At any rate, thank you for the book, and for being understanding about the mix-up :)
[User Picture]
Date:June 19th, 2005 02:01 pm (UTC)
90% it's a small icon with not a vast deal of detail of your face and 10% I'm not terribly observant at the best of times!

Glad you enjoyed the book, gladder that we got to meet at all, gladdest that you're safe and well!
[User Picture]
Date:June 19th, 2005 04:57 pm (UTC)
OK, I seriously need to try the "Number Place" variants, but I can't get the darn thing to open in AcroReader!!!

And another one: !

Needs advice.
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2005 04:28 pm (UTC)
Which version of Acrobat Reader are you using?

(Though they all are highly consumptive of memory, often problematically so...)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:June 20th, 2005 04:35 pm (UTC)

Wow. :-D Fantastic! Byron Calver suggests he would have scored about 265, and Byron's no slouch.

*bounces up and down excitedly, looking forward to the publication of the scores*
Date:June 26th, 2005 10:04 pm (UTC)
I suppose it should be obvious from a cos_london point of view why I would pick Leicester Sq for an LJ meetup (and I see I would at least meet anatsuno amongst others!) but I agree with the person who said the EasyNet cafe on Tottenham - that truly does make sense for LJ users - heck, again from a cos_london POV too!
Date:June 27th, 2005 11:52 pm (UTC)
140 points, did #1, 3, 5, 6, 12, 17, 19, 20, partials on 11 and 22...
114 in 2004 and 100 in 2003...


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