Archive for May, 2011

How Did I Not Know This Before?

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

Okay, so the dog beach is basically the greatest place on earth.

Happy Birthday to _ _ _.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011


My wife indulged my obsession with puzzles by giving me a mini puzzle-hunt on my birthday.  Solving it told me to meet her at a bakery where I was given a cupcake, taken to lunch, and then given another puzzle!  As if the best birthday present ever wasn’t already enough.

I’m lucky.  Shama, you’re the best.

Just a DASH of Nerd

Friday, May 13th, 2011

We don’t have a lot of magazines in the bathrooms at work.  They tend to linger for months, or even years.  One day, many years ago, I started leafing through an old issue of Rolling Stone while taking care of business and I came across this article (pages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) about something called The Game. Ever since then I’ve wanted to play in one of these Games — yes, with a capital ‘G,’ and I think it’s warranted. Unfortunately, they’re never held in Chicago, they cost thousands of dollars, and I think they’ve been discontinued due to an injury.

The crux of the idea is this: Teams gather at a starting line where they are given a puzzle.  The solution to the puzzle leads them to another location where they encounter another puzzle, and so on until they reach the finish line.  It sounds simple enough, except the puzzles are so complicated they often take hours to solve.  These games tend to attract a somewhat narrow sliver of the populace, heavy on computer programmers, mathematicians, and technical-types.  In other words, nerds.

My wife, planning an elaborate game of her own, heard about a puzzle hunt being run in Chicago — much less elaborate than The Game, but the same general idea.  Knowing my obsession, she encouraged me to play.

DASH or “Different Area Same Hunt” is a game run simultaneously in several different cities. Players in each city are given the same clues, but are sent to different locations.

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Journey to the End of the Night 2011 Recap

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Every year I worry about how Journey to the End of the Night is going to work out and every year it’s fantastic.  Once again I was a staff chaser — this time chasing people in a suit.  It wasn’t as bizarre as the gorilla, but runners rarely thought a dude in a suit would start chasing them.

I’d say my favorite moment was standing alone on the beach between checkpoint 2B and checkpoint 3 and chasing people across that big sandy expanse.

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Best Birthday Present Ever

Thursday, May 5th, 2011


Shama tried to surprise me with a dog for my birthday, but the shelter wouldn’t let her just grab a dog and put it in a box.  I know.  I don’t get it either.  So instead she surprised me by picking me up and taking me to the shelter to meet a dog she had picked out.  His name was “Mugs” and I loved him immediately.

We changed his name briefly to Maurice, but settled on Gus.

Gus and I have some similar features.  Shama says she has a type.  I’m reminded of this scene from 101 Dalmations:

Robot Surgery

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

When I got a tour of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University, from which I ultimately got a degree in electrical engineering, they spent a lot of time showing us the robotics lab.  It was probably the coolest thing a young aspiring engineer could ever see. In four years as a student, I never once set foot in that robotics lab.

Finally, I got my chance to play robot scientist.  My wife got me a black market Roomba for Hanukah a few years ago and it dutifully cleaned our house for several months before it started behaving strangely. Eventually it quit altogether.

Luckily, the Internet has a wealth of information for people wanting to fix their ailing Roombas. The Roomba itself, however, does not make it easy.  I figured there was about a 20% chance of the thing working at all after I opened it up and tinkered with its soft white underbelly, but a replaced IR emitter, a decent soldering job, and about 5,000 tiny screws later, Roomba is once again keeping our house clean from dust bunnies.

If anyone comes across this page with a Roomba that just backs up and spins until it stops and beeps 9 times, here’s what you can do to fix it: