Miscellaneous Updates (or Keeping Up a Blog is Hard)

Sorry again for the long delay between posts; the end of the semester can be busy for academics like me, and it only gets busier when (a) you have to report a whole bunch of students for exam cheating, and (b) you’re hosting Christmas for the first time (we made a prime rib roast and didn’t poison anyone!). Most of my own puzzle solving has consisted of logic puzzles from past WPC/WSCs, some online programming challenges,  and test-solving some top secret Microsoft Puzzle Hunt puzzles for a friend (which were very good!).

The MIT Mystery Hunt, which is for me the highlight of the puzzling year, is in just a week, and I’m sure I’ll have lots to say about it afterward. In the meantime, let me take care of a few loose ends and bits of news:

  • There’s a new issue of P&A out tomorrow, as Foggy tends to schedule around the Mystery Hunt in January. This means that I’ll be posting a solving report on the last issue soon, and it also means you should purchase and solve tomorrow’s issue, as it’ll make for a nice Mystery Hunt appetizer. For the first year in a while, I won’t be solving it at a math conference, so I look forward to getting to use my own printer instead of staking out a FedEx Office store.
  • Another pre-Mystery-Hunt tradition is Kevin Wald’s excellent pre-Hunt cryptic crossword, which takes its theme from the previous year’s Hunt. Kevin’s cryptics are often very densely structured in general, and I’m always impressed at the connections he finds within the pre-existing Hunt theme/structure (especially when it’s one I helped write, and thus one I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about!). You can find this year’s puzzle and previous years’ here.
  • One of our Hunt team members, Tom Buehler, did a ton of filming during the 2017 Hunt (which we wrote), and he’s just released the final cut of his 52-minute documentary. I think it’s really good, and it’s worth watching if you’re getting psyched for this year’s Hunt and want to walk down memory lane (and get some insight into how we handled the re-staged events for the teams that outran our intended schedule), or if you’ve never participated in an on-location puzzlehunt and want to know what they’re like (there are some really nice visual segments showing how some of the puzzles are solved, so it’s a nice watch for newbies).
  • There’s a ClueKeeper hunt happening now in conjunction with an upcoming film called Solver. The main page for the hunt is here, and the puzzles are appearing on Instagram. I found the first six puzzles pretty uninteresting (though to be fair, they’re intended for a more general audience). The seventh, by escape room podcaster Errol Elumir, is more intriguing, and I think I know how it works, but I haven’t been able to crack it yet.
  • Embarrassingly, I still have yet to post about the puzzles from our July NPL Con extravaganza, despite writing three novelettes about the logistics of putting it together. I really will get to it at some point, hopefully before next year’s extravaganza.

I intend to be at the opening ceremony for this year’s Mystery Hunt, assuming I’m not totally foiled by MIT’s more restrictive parking policies (as of June, it’s no longer a free-for-all on the weekends, so beware). If your a reader who knows what I look like and we’ve never met, feel free to say hello!

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2 thoughts on “Miscellaneous Updates (or Keeping Up a Blog is Hard)

  1. What team are you solving with this year, Dan? I didn’t see SETEC on the list of room assignments. Did they/you split up after last year’s hunt?

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    • Setec still exists, mostly unchanged. We have a team member with access to departmental space, so we’re never on the reservation list (which leaves more space for other teams).

      I might consider a team change in the next few years to shake things up, but a lot of my best friends are on Setec, and switching seems more exhausting than it did when I was younger.

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