Adventures in Geekdom: Puzzles

The Muttroxia family is into puzzles these days. Every few years we have a brief surge of puzzlemania. Puzzles takes some effort, but are relaxing enough to be able to talk to each other. At least that’s the idea. I have a hard time with that, I get involved in the puzzle too much. As we’ve recently upped the ante by not allowing ourselves to look at the picture on the box, it requires that much more concentration.

We had a 500 piece puzzle. As any normal people would do, we looked to connect the corners and sides. We finished the top row. While she was talking about someone’s mother who was in the hospital or something, I counted that the row was 31 pieces long.
I interrupted, “Something’s wrong, the top row is 31 pieces. That’s not right.”
“What?”
“It can’t be 31 pieces long. This puzzle is a grid and 31 doesn’t divide evenly into 500.”
“She had to go back to the hospital!! She’s going to be a in wheelchair the rest of her life!”
“Oh, right. Yeah, that’s really sad.” (said while I rearranged some pieces.)

Update: We finished the puzzle a couple days after I drafted the above. The final count was 18 rows and 28 columns. That’s 504 pieces. I am really annoyed. If a puzzle says 500 pieces it should be 500 pieces! First of all, the dimensions of the puzzle give you a clue – knowing that there have to be 10, 20, or 25 pieces in a row is a big clue. You can usually figure it out by counting the pieces and figuring out a perimeter that’s roughly in the golden ratio, but still. Second, it’s false advertising. The box should say what’s in it!

Links o’ Interest

The inauguration music was not actually live.

The inaugural photo. Zoom to your hearts delight, 1,474 gigabytes of picture.

Philadelphia Eagles trophy case

Tibbles the cat, history’s greatest killer.

That’s why they call him The Magician (pool shot). But I like this one’s tricks better.

Hacking programmable road signs

Street racer pwned by ticketing cop

How Not to be a Key Online Influencer

46 things that never happen on Star Trek

This looks like a very very very good movie

Google Maps rocks

Clever teenage hockey player: use camouflage

You can’t fight City Hall. Reduce waste to zero, get sued.

Cockpit of the Space Shuttle

Hover dogs

Yes, it’s flooding here also.

Pit Crew Fail

Class differences

Quality spam

The thumb man

10 sexual anomalies

Star Trek plot generator

Interactive Jacuzzi Girl. Awesome.

Very clever music video. I smiled the whole time.

Seig Fail

Funny graffiti

Coloring Love

Classic support ticket

The energy scale

New mathematics from Archimedes. Seriously.

This is just very sad

Frustrated with customer service? Use the “Get a Human” database.

Myron Rolle, a true student-athelete

John Thain’s greatest moments (worst CEO evah)

My Beatles .mp3 List

This is not my top Beatles songs in order. But it will give you some idea of the Beatles music I like. Here’s what currently on my playlist:

  • A Day in the Life
  • Across the Universe (two versions, plus a Rufus Wainwright cover)
  • Because
  • Day Tripper (plus a Jimi Hendrix cover and a ripping Oasis/Paul Weller cover)
  • Don’t Let me Down (plus a Black Crowes cover)
  • Fixing a Hole
  • Get Back (two versions)
  • Getting Better
  • Golden Slumbers (the Ben Folds cover)
  • Helter Skelter (the Aerosmith cover)
  • Hey Jude
  • I am the Walrus
  • I Feel Fine
  • I Should Have Known Better
  • I Want to Hold Your Hand
  • I’m so Tired
  • I’ve Got a Feeling
  • In my Life
  • Let it Be
  • Mean Mr. Mustard
  • Norwegian Wood
  • Penny Lane
  • Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)
  • She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
  • She Loves You
  • Something (plus a George Harrison/Eric Clapton live version)
  • Strawberry Fields Forever (Ben Harper version)
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Two of Us (soon to be deleted, plus an Aimee Mann/Michael Penn version)
  • When I’m Sixty Four
  • With a Little Help From my Friends
  • Yesterday (plus a Michael Hedges cover)
  • You Never Give me Your Money

Poker Update

Let’s get right into the hands o’ interest (not to be confused with the Links o’ Interest).

With 9-10, I limp as the big blind. The flop is 7-8-J giving me the nut straight. I check. I call a moderate sized bet. The turn is a Q. I check. He bets, I go all in. He calls with two pair (Q-7) and I double up. The river was 6, giving me a 7-card straight.

I gave a lot of that back in the next half-hour. I limped into a lot of pots with suited connecters, low pairs, K-6 in the small blind, hands like that. None of them connected. I think I was still right to play them each time, but after a while I stopped just to keep my stack at strength.

Blinds at 100-200. I’m dealt J-J in the big blind. There are three people in the pot. I want them out, I bet 4x at 800. Two of them call. The flop is K-x-x. Urgh. I feel like I have to bet again to see if anyone has a king. I throw another 800 in. The player to my left goes all-in, another 2100 to me. I grudgingly fold. Interestingly, no one can understand what I had to fold for a good 30 seconds, and then one of the players suddenly realizes, “High pocket pair, but below kings? Queens or jacks?” Guessing people’s hands is a good exercise.

We are now down to four-handed. The top three finish in the money. One player has an enormous stack, the rest of us are all fairly even. I get K-A with first action. I raise the 200-400 blinds to 1000. The other non-blind calls and both blinds fold. The flop is Q-x-x. I bet another 1000. He goes all in, another 3200 to me. This is a tough situation. I don’t have a made hand, plenty of hands beat me. If I lose I am essentially out (I have 3300) and finish just out of the money. He called me pre-flop, he probably has something.

And yet… I have a lot of outs. And this is the same guy who went all in with my J-J hand earlier. He pulled a similar move later. Maybe he just figures that he push me around with overbets post-flop. Maybe he thinks I am unwilling to risk my full stack at the bubble. Something doesn’t feel right. I don’t have a true tell I can point to, but something about his body language feels wrong. I call. He has A-10. My A-K holds up and I double up. I’m proud of that play. It was a gutsy call.

The third player falls soon after and I go to heads up. I am down 7-1 or so. The very first hand I get A-2. My all-in is called and he turns over A-7. I’m knocked out for a second place finish.

Tonight: $58
Running Total: $587

Notarizing Fun

I am a notary. (Why? Why not. It’s cheap and it’s kinda fun.) My commission is about to expire. I downloaded the forms I need for renewal. They’re very simple. Send in a check and a copy of your drivers license and this form. The form has two lines that need to be filled out. One is a spot for my signature. The other is a spot for another notary to affirm my signature.

I have to find a notary so I can renew my notary license. I wish I knew another notary. This is all vaguely ridiculous.

Towns in Massachusetts

One of my relatives in Massachusetts moved to a town called Milford. Filthbag that I am, this made me laugh. The town founders could never have imagined that “Milf” would ever come to mean what it does.

Massachusetts has a lot of towns with funny names. Some of them sound like dirty words (Athol). Some are peoples names (Shirley). Some are named for the founding country and now sound pretentious (Peru). And some are just great sounding names (Seekonk). For no particular reason, the list of names of Massachusetts towns that make me laugh.

Athol
Belchertown
Chester
Cummington
Dennis
Douglas
Dudley
Florida
Goshen
Holland
Lawrence
Littleton
Manchester-by-the-Sea
Milford
Norton
Otis
Pittsfield
Peru
Plainfield and Plainville
Sandwich
Sharon
Shirley
Stow
Swampscott
Wendell

Town names that are fun to say:
Agawam
Chicopee
Cohasset
Worcester
Holyoke
Hopkinton
Ipswich
Rehoboth
Saugus
Seekonk
Shrewsbury
Taunton
Wrentham
Yarmouth

Science Fair

Tuesday Mrs Muttrox told me that she have volunteered me to be in the Science Fair. “Come up with something sciency”. I was unclear exactly what was going on. But the kindergarten boy and I had done hovercraft once, so I went with that. This is not exactly high tech science. You cut a hole in the top of a shoebox lid, aim a blowdryer through the hole and you have yourself a hovercraft. It’s pretty neat.

I arrived early to set up. I hit the first roadblock. Apparently this was not a science demonstration by the parents, but a science demonstration for the children. The boy wasn’t even arriving for another hour. Every table around me had trifold cardboard backstops with elaborate explanations of how their experiment worked. I had a kinetic art marble contraption on one side, a potato battery on the other, and a rock tumbler behind me. I had a shoebox lid and a blow dryer. I foresaw the next two hours of humiliation for the overwhelming lameness of the exhibit. I called home and told Mrs Muttrox, “You owe me for this!”

Strangely enough, it turned out fine. Most kids could care less about a potato with some wires in them. Giving them the blowdryer to play with making something actually float? Big winner.

NFL Predictions

I’m 1-7 so far in the playoffs. Sports Guy matched me last round, here’s his funny reaction. I don’t much care about either of these games or feel strongly about either of them. But what the heck. I’m masochistic like that.

NFC (Cardinals v Eagles): I still don’t believe in the Cardinals. But the Eagles suck also. They shouldn’t have beat the Giants, they haven’t shown anything in a few games. It kills me, but I’m going with Arizona.

AFC (Ravens v Steelers): I like the Ravens. I love their defense, I think they are really coached and capable of beating anyone any given Sunday. But the Steelers have looked great, they look like the only legitimate team left. I hope the Ravens win, but I’m going with the Steelers. Ah, what the heck. I’ll predict the Ravens.

Poker Update (partial)

21 players. $25 buy-in. Very strict house rules. Looks like we’re playing real poker tonight folks! I’ll stick to the notable hands.

I get A-J. I raise the 50-100 blinds up to 300. Someone else raises it another 500. Two more people call. I have decent pot odds with a decent hand, I call also. The flop is K-K-10. Three people bet 500 to me. Hmm. I think someone must have a king. So the only winner for me is a Queen which would give me the straight. Four outs, two cards left, that’s somewhere around 18% odds. 500 into a 4500+ pot… I think I’m supposed to do it. But I don’t trust the pot odds, so I fold. The turn is (of course) a Queen. I let out a huge swear. One player goes all in, the other two call him. The river is another Queen. The remaining two players go all-in with the little they have left. Everyone turns over their cards. The two big stacks both had K-10, for full houses of Kings over Queens. The smaller all-in turns over a pair of pocket Queens for a monster four-of-a-kind! He becomes unquestioned king of the table for the next few hours. I suddenly feel very lucky I folded as early as I did.

It’s a loose night. It’s very hard to get people to fold. Our table has two or three people who will call any pre-flop bet, and will casually bet most of their money with absolutely nothing. My philosophy is when they are loose, you should be tight. I don’t play many hands. The hands I do play I often steal pots on.

There are 4 minutes left for rebuys. I have about 2,200 to an average stack of 3,000 or so. I decide to play super-aggressive. I raise 500 pre-flop with K-6, another 500 post-flop, then he folds. The same thing next hand, I end up making 1,500 profit when a 9 pairs up. With buy-ins over, I have about 4,000. Nice. There have been 12 buy-ins, so there are 33 total stacks out there. I have roughly the average stack.

Now blinds have gotten up to 200-400. With A-4 suited I raise the blinds on a semi-bluff to 1,150. (I like to vary the 3x bet by just a little here and there, it sows confusion.) The big stack (4-of-a-kind guy) raises another 2,000 over that. I think he’s full of it, but with only 3,500 left reluctantly fold. I would have been effectively all-in, I’m not ready to risk the night on my read of him.

Twenty minutes later I get 4-4. I raise to 1,200. Again, he raises another 2,000. I think he remembers that other hand and is just trying to bully me with the big stack. And even if he has two big cards I’m a coin flip. I instantly call (hoping my insta-call will intimidate him into a fold). The flop is 4-x-x, giving me my trips. That’s a nice break for me! I go all in, his pot odds make him call. He turns over K-Q suited, I double up through him. I am suddenly a strong second place in chips at our table.

(He’s one of those loose players. K-Q suited is a fine hand to start with. It’s a fine hand to raise pre-flop. But to come over the top with a re-raise? These guys don’t know semi-bluff, they just figure they have something half-decent, they’re going to go all the way and see what happens.)

Break is called. It’s 12:10. I call home to see if the babysitter can stay later. She can’t. Oh no! What do I do? Can I pay her, lock up the house and come back? It’s only two blocks away, what can happen in the early hours of Sunday morning to a locked house in a safe neighborhood? It takes me a few minutes to realize how stupid I’m being. I can’t leave three young children alone in the house. I reluctantly turn my chips over to a proxy friend and come home.

So here’s the situation as I left. Ten players left. Top seven finish in the money, the top three get really good payoffs. The average stack is somewhere around 8,000. I have 12,000. We’ve just combined into one table. The proxy I picked is a conservative player. Since there are ten people, some of them are very loose players, and some of them are very very drunk*, I figure if he just plays premium hands and nothing else we should finish in the money. I’ll keep you posted with an update as soon as I know.

* There’s drinking to have a little more fun while playing, and there’s just out and drunken idiocy. Dude, you’re fifty years old. You’re trading shots back and forth like liquor’s going out of style. When I tell you it’s 400 to you, stop replying with “What’s the bet?” I just told you. Stop asking who’s in, look and see who has cards. Stop taking two full minutes to decide and fold 10-4, and yes I know what you have because you hold your cards up so I can see them and I already told you once I can see them so I’m not telling you again. The bet is 400, the same as it’s been the last six hands. Stop trying to raise 200. Stop asking me who bet what when the chips are right in front of them. Just… just stop.

Quality of Hands: One low pair in four hours. But plenty of A-J, A-10, K-10, K-Q etc. I had A-K once but everyone folded my pre-flop raise. I think I was neither lucky nor unlucky with starting cards.

Tonight: ????

Update: We came in fourth place for $79. The drunken wrecks apparently self-destructed soon after I left. I’m happy with fourth place. How should I split the pot with my replacement? 50-50? Should he take it all because he was a full replacement for me with no preconditions? Do I get it all because it was still “my” stack? I offered to refund his entry fee of $25. That feels about right to me. Getting from 10th to 4th with an above average stack and a few seriously inebriated players at the table deserves something, but not too much. For purposes of tracking my wins and losses I’m going to count the full $79.

Tonight: $54
Running Total: $529

Links o’ Interest

Ninja cat does it the hard way

The Princess Bride continues to impress. Trivia about The Princess Bride

Heavy Metal bandname flowchart

Safe sex fail

World’s worst firemen

Terrible pre-med student

I’m an idiot

Now that is irony

Winter Valentine

Most embarrassing book

How to steal a car with 3 drink cans

Russian knife roulette fail

Some sweatshop perspective. Over the last ten years I’ve shifted from the liberal “Sweatshops are evil” viewpoint all the way over to the economics “Sweatshops are awesome” perspective.

Africa’s size in perspective

How studying Islam led to atheism

Map of the Bush years

The MIT Blackjack’s team view of the financial crisis

Debt-to-GDP Ratio

Slow-motion video of a water drop falling into sand

So much for the 4th Amendment.

Confrontation at the Airport

Mrs. Muttrox is away for the weekend. The family drove to the airport to drop her off. Arriving there, I pulled alongside the curb near a walkway to let out Mrs. Muttrox. She said goodbye to the children. We both got out, exchanged hugs and kisses and well wishes. She walked to her terminal and I got back in the car.

As I got ready to pull out I saw one of the bicycle police coming down the curb. I waited for him to pass so I could pull out, giving him a little nod as he passed. To my surprise he came over to my car and started yelling at me.

“There’s not an airport in the world that you can do this at! You are parked in front of a yellow line! There is a sign in front of you and a sign in back of you that say active loading only! Why do you think you can just sit here waiting to pick someone up!?”
“What?”
“This is an active loading zone only, you cannot wait for your passenger!”
“I’m very sorry, I thought dropping someone off meant the same as active loading. It doesn’t?”
“You were not dropping someone off, you were waiting!”
“I just dropped my wife off ten seconds ago. She just walked into the terminal.”
“I have this book of tickets and it isn’t for fun. This is against the law, you did not drop someone off!”
“I just did!” (I’m starting to get worked up) “I just pulled up and dropped her off and now I’m leaving!”
The policeman yells to himself about people or something and walks to the back of the van. I am getting ready to point out that (a) I was outside of the van and pickups don’t do that (b) he can call the airline and see her ticket (c) he can ask my kids in the back of the van why we came to the airport (d) he can call Mrs. Muttrox’s phone and ask her, etc, but he keeps on going and walks down the line yelling to himself.

I pull out. Or rather try to, between the stress of arguing with the cop and the kids yelling at me wanting to know if I’m going to jail I forget to release the parking brake and can’t figure out why I’m not moving for a good fifteen seconds, during which I am more stressed because I am convinced the cop is going to see me sitting there and come back for Round 2.

I love the airport.

Selling the Old Car

After buying my new car, I put the old one up for sale. It took me five months to sell it. This is a car in good shape with extremely low mileage. But the buyers just aren’t there. I ended up selling it for a good thousand bucks below what I think it’s worth. When the buyers offered the price I checked with Mrs. Muttrox. Before I could even open my mouth she said, “Take the offer. Whatever it is, take it.” She was right, after five months it was time to just get rid of it.

But there’s good news. We’re blowing the money on a new hot tub. Oh, that’s gonna be so awesome!

NFL Predictions

Fresh off my 1-3 outing, I’m back again with more bad predictions.

Home teams win everywhere except the Chargers, just because I like them.

Titans over Ravens
Chargers over Steelers
Panthers over Cardinals
Giants over Eagles

Links o’ Interest

People who Deserve It

Decline

Buy our seats

Of course Tintin is gay.

E-bayers are not so bright

How do I get out of this one?

I’d be a little nervous also.

The Seed (pleasant video)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Sweatshirt)

Funny bumper stickers

Lies of omission

Best bet loser

New Media Douchebags explained

The Recently Deflowered Girl

Uncle Sam’s Credit Score

Map of Springfield

An open letter from The Watchmen movie producer

Heck of a job Bushie.

2008: The Year in Pictures (New York Times) and The Boston Globe (Parts 1, 2, and 3), the 12 most embarrassing photos (Cracked).

Best financial jokes of 2008

The top 25 songs of 2008, all at once
Modern Nomad

Contractors do not understand revision clouds

I must train my next dog to do this

Enter Sandman on kazoo

On Deep Throat’s death and a different perspective on Watergate

Poker Update

The first game of 2009 started off rather poorly. No cards. Nothing to play. So I didn’t. I called the blinds once or twice, went 2 for 4 on bluffs, but basically did nothing. My stack got whittled down.

With rebuy time running out, I chose to commit stack suicide with K-6. I knew the other guy had me beat but I wanted to rebuy and start the next hour with a full stack. Things changed a little. I limped in the big blind with 8-10. The flop was 8-10-Q, I doubled up. Suddenly I had some money. I still couldn’t get many cards, but I got just enough, because I was making great reads. My first pair of the night was 8-8, on a flop with two overcards I called an all-in bet. I was right, he had nothing.

With A-x, the flop came A-J-x. Another person went all-in with a short stack. I figured him for the J and called it. I was right, but another jack came out. Oh well.

Eh, I can’t remember many more hands. I went up, I went down, I went up again, I went down again. I ended up being the bubbly boy at 3rd place.

I was pleased with my play. My only bad tendency was not bluffing more in the late stages. Terrible cards the whole night, but I think I played them just right. Every time I went to a showdown I had the best hand, every time I had good cards I was able to get money out of them, etc. I can’t be disapointed with that. Getting reads right will pay off big in the long run.

Tonight: -$40
Running Total: $475

Plotholes in Dumb Comedies

How can anyone get upset at a plothole in a stupid comedy? I don’t know how I do it, but I do it.

Old School:

  • The first big party is a Thursday, but in the great scene where we see Frank the Tank coming back, Frank says that he has a busy Saturday ahead of him.
  • Oh, that lousy Dean! Their frat got an average score of 84% on their test. But the Dean brings in the score of dead Blue (the old guy), of course it’s a 0%, and the new average score is now 58%! Uh-oh! That math doesn’t work though. It comes close if the frat only had two people, but we can see there are twelve or so. Averaging in another person score of 0% would bring it to 77% or so. Perhaps this was a sophisticated meta-test — if they could figure out how impossible the Dean’s claim is, they would have demonstrated the math skills they needed to pass the test.

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (This one really bugged me.)

  • Before the big match, the bad guys make Vince an offer. For $100,000, sign over his gym to the bad guys. Vince believes his team has no hope of winning. He seems like he’s going to sign it. Flash forward to the next day. Vince is getting drunk. In a bar. His team has been abandoned. They have no strategy, no plan, no hope. They consider forfeiting. Vince watches the pre-game on TV, where the announcers wonder if there will be a match at all. In a candid encounter with Lance Armstrong he says he’s not going to play. Lance shames him into changing his mind.

    Meanwhile, as Vince is on his way over, his team has forfeited. They don’t have enough players. It’s too late, it’s all over. Except one of his players finds a loophole – they can appeal to the judges. Fortunately for them Chuck Norris casts the tiebreaking vote and they are allowed to play. Yay! Vince arrives in time. He plays. He is knocked out instantly.

    Of course his team goes on to win. The bad guys bring out the contract to show how Vince gave up his gym. And now, finally, the part that gets me.

    Vince reveals that yes, he did sign the contract. But, he took the $100,000 and placed on his team to win at 50-1 odds. He now has $5,000,000 and can buy the bad guys chain of gyms, ha!

    When did he place this bet!? Before he got wasted? While his team waited for him to develop a strategy? Before it took an intervention by Lance Armstrong to make him decide to play? Could it have been after that, while his team was busy forfeiting due to his absence and only got to play due to a freak knowledge of the rules and the deux machina cameo of Chuck Norris? Before he played horribly and got knocked out within 10 seconds!? When did he make this bet, and how do any of his other actions correspond to this bet! (And, by the way, how would the odds be 50-1? Even Buster Douglas was only 45-1, and Vince’s team had convincingly beaten a wide variety of opponents.) Just an infuriating lack of consistency, a ridiculous plot hole that didn’t even add anything to the plot.