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When I download a paper on a topic related to my research, the first thing I do is ⌘F for my own name to see whether they've cited me.
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"Harvard to sanction final clubs, Greek organizations"

I thought this Crimson headline meant the opposite of what it actually means.
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The historic counties of England, sorted by the number of counties in the United States named after or sharing a name with them:
(Including New York County NY, New Kent County VA, and Warrick County IN)

Lincoln(shire): 24 (AR, CO, GA, ID, KS, KY, LA, ME, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, NC, OK, OR, SD, TN, WA, WV, WI, WY)

Cumberland: 8 (IL, KY, ME, NJ, NC, PA, TN, VA)

Kent: 6 (DE, MD, MI, RI, TX, VA)
York(shire): 6 (ME, NE, NY, PA, SC, VA)

Essex: 5 (MA, NJ, NY, VT, VA)

Cheshire / Chester: 4 (NH, PA, SC, TN)
Lancashire / Lancaster: 4 (NE, PA, SC, VA)
Middlesex: 4 (CT, MA, NJ, VA)
Somerset: 4 (ME, MD, NJ, PA)

Bedford(shire): 3 (PA, TN, VA)
Hampshire / Southampton: 3 (MA, VA, WV)
Northampton(shire): 3 (NC, PA, VA)
Sussex: 3 (DE, NJ, VA)

Berkshire / Berks: 2 (MA, PA)
Buckingham(shire) / Bucks: 2 (PA, VA)
Gloucester(shire): 2 (NJ, VA)
Hertford(shire) / Hartford: 2 (CT, NC)
Northumberland: 2 (PA, VA)
Stafford(shire): 2 (KS, VA)
Suffolk: 2 (MA, NY)
Surrey / Surry: 2 (NC, VA)
Westmorland / Westmoreland: 2 (PA, VA)
Worcester(shire): 2 (MD, MA)

Durham: 1 (NC)
Huntingdon(shire): 1 (PA)
Norfolk: 1 (MA)
Oxford(shire): 1 (ME)
Rutland: 1 (VT)
Warwickshire / Warrick: 1 (IN)

Cambridgeshire: 0
Cornwall: 0
Derbyshire: 0
Devonshire: 0
Dorset: 0
Herefordshire: 0
Leicestershire: 0
Nottinghamshire: 0
Shropshire: 0
Wiltshire: 0
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The website for the computer science department of the University of Toronto can be found at cs.toronto.edu.

That seems very sensible, except for one thing. There is no toronto.edu. The domain name for the University of Toronto is utoronto.ca. There's nothing at www.toronto.edu, for example.

But there's also nothing at cs.utoronto.ca. It's like the computer science department exists in a nearby alternate universe where the only difference is that the university has a different domain name.
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This year's Mystery Hunt happened!

I don't have that much to say about the overall plot or structure of this year's Hunt. The structure didn't seem particularly complex—which is totally fine, I should say! Nothing wrong with just writing a solid Hunt that consists of a series of rounds with metapuzzles. (I did enjoy the fact that a couple of the rounds had multiple mini-metas within them and an overall meta-meta.) And honestly my team didn't pay any attention to the plot of the Hunt whatsoever, up to the point of never even watching the videos that were released to us when new rounds were unlocked. The Hunt server problems were a pain, but I salute team Luck for hacking together a solution that got us through the Hunt.

I don't really like obvious fake themes, though. The dog show round was cute, but when people show up at Hunt kickoff and they're like "It's a dog show!" nobody for a second believed that that was the theme of the Hunt, and I just found it tiresome.

My solving experience was pretty up-and-down. The rounds my team got stuck on were the fourth and fifth—so I spent a while frustrated when those were the only new rounds we had open. Then as new rounds were released things picked back up again—until the last few hours of the Hunt, when we had finished most of the later rounds and still had nothing but those fourth and fifth rounds to go back to; and that was when our enthusiasm as a team really started to flag. That said, I did have all of the basic satisfying solving experiences you want to have at a Mystery Hunt: I managed to spot key ahas, find the answer extractions for puzzles that other people had been stuck on, work whole puzzles from beginning to end, and solve metapuzzles. So overall it was a pretty good Hunt for me, even though we didn't finish.

Now I'm going to skip to the part where I discuss specific puzzles I have comments on! spoilers below! )

Other puzzles I liked but don't have any comments on: the Whistle Training meta (I didn't even work on this; I just found out about it afterward!); Ladder Dogs; How Far?; Emergency Deportation; It's a Long Story; the Dreamtime Day 2 meta; Who?

That's really a ton of puzzles I liked, and almost no real clunkers. Thanks to team Luck for a great Hunt, and see you all next year!
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Here's the list of places I've been in the past year! As usual, places I spent the night are in bold; places I'd never been before are in italics; places I went to on multiple unconnected occasions are underlined. Not that many distinct areas this year, I think? But still a lot of distinct towns.

Ocean Grove, N.J.
Ocean Township, N.J.
Asbury Park, N.J.
Toronto, Ont.
Mississauga, Ont.
Cambridge, Mass.
New York, N.Y.
Brampton, Ont.
Markham, Ont.
Philadelphia, Penna.
Beverly, Mass.
Peabody, Mass.
Stratford, Ont.
Niagara Falls, Ont.
Corinth, N.Y.
Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Algonquin Highlands, Ont.
Vaughan, Ont.
Oakville, Ont.
Hamilton, Ont.
Newton, Mass.
Boston, Mass.
Revere, Mass.
Danvers, Mass.
Carlisle, Mass.
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Apparently there's an amateur historian named Adam Ardrey who has written books arguing that King Arthur was a sixth-century Scottish warlord, rather than being from (what's now) England or Wales as he's commonly portrayed.

I have no expertise on this matter or ability to evaluate the likelihood of his historical claims.

However, I do know that àrd-rìgh is Scottish Gaelic for 'high king'. And of course the name Adam just means 'man'.

So, if I were an ancient Scottish king, recently reawakened from a 1500-year sleep on (for example) the mystical isle of Avalon, and wanted to correct the distorted modern remembrance of my legacy without prematurely revealing my identity, I'd think "Adam Ardrey" a very natural choice of pseudonym to use.

Just saying.
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It's not even a job I'm applying for—it's not even a job in my field—but I felt I had to quote this:

"Candidates will also be required to identify the names, titles, and email addresses of professional references (four are required). The minimum number of references required are 4 with a maximum of 4 reference letters."
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I just turned 36.

Half my life ago, in November 1997, when I turned 18, I was a high school senior applying to colleges, spending hours worrying about my applications to institutions such as Harvard, Brown, and Swarthmore.

In November 2015, I'm on the academic job market... spending hours worrying about my applications to institutions such as Yale, Cornell, Brown, and Swarthmore.

I hope I'm not doing the same thing the month I turn 54.
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Am I mistaken, or is the meaning of "take control" in this promo actually 'cede control to us'?
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Jean Grey is one of the X-Men.
Jane Grey was briefly Queen of England.
Zane Grey wrote Westerns.
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Okay, listen. If you're ever on the British game show Only Connect, and you're trying to solve the Connecting Wall, and you see five items that you think all belong to the same category, and you start guessing subsets of four of them, keep track of which of the subsets you've guessed, and don't stop guessing until you've tried all five possibilities. I can't count how many times I've seen a team spot a connection on the board and start guessing subsets of four and then give up on it after trying three or four of the subsets, and then come back later and guess the same ones over again, and never complete the board for that reason. And then Victoria Coren says "You saw the connection, but every time you guessed a group you never tried leaving out 'Magnum'!" or whatever.

I'm just saying.
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Attemptedly complete, anyway. Let me know if I'm missing one. For my own reference mainly.

I'm going to disregard potentially well-formed but improbable passives of intransitive verbs such as nor 'I am swum'. (Relatedly, does queō, aiō, or fīō have an imperative?)


















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Have you ever been in a situation where you forget your password to some website or something...

and you try a few options on the login page, but none of them work...

so you click on "forgot my password!" and go through the rigmarole where they send a message to your email or phone or something to confirm your identity...

and you eventually get to the page where you can set a new password...

and on that page it says "Passwords must contain at least one capital letter, one number, and one punctuation mark"...

and you're like, "well, if you'd told me that on the login screen I would have remembered what my password was and not had to go through that whole process"?


Aug. 18th, 2015 10:52 am
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I feel like a lot of crossword puzzles use clues like "rare blood type, for short" or "gravitational force at earth's surface" when "Shabbat celebration" would be much more elegant.
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The southern boundary of the state of Maryland is set as the Potomac River, as stipulated in the 1632 colonial charter.

The northern boundary is the Mason-Dixon line, set along the line of latitude 15 miles south of Philadelphia as a result of a negotiation in 1732 between the Calverts and Penns.

What they didn't know at the time, however, was just how close those two boundaries approach. The northernmost point on the Potomac is less than two miles south of the Mason-Dixon line—so the result is that at the town of Hancock, the state of Maryland is less than two miles wide, with Pennsylvania to the north and West Virginia to the south.

Which means that if the Penns had been slightly tougher negotiators—if they had held out for, say, 18 miles south of Philadelphia instead of 15 miles—there would be a little zone of about a mile wide that was south of the southern border of Maryland but north of the northern border of Maryland. I can see two possible consequences for this circumstance—either there would be a one-mile-wide eldritch zone of "Anti-Maryland" between the two borders, where unexplained phenomena and violations of physical law were commonplace; or everything outside those borders would be Maryland, south of the Mason-Dixon line and north of the Potomac. Possibly both.

Either way, I feel like that would be a far more interesting universe to live in.
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Coincidentally, today is the date of the first televised debate in the runup to both the upcoming Canadian federal election and the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

The Canadian election is 74 days from today, making it the longest federal election campaign in Canadian history. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has faced some criticism for setting the start of the campaign so early.

The American election is 460 days from today.
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"How do you say 'cotton wool' in French?"


"I said, how do you say 'cotton wool' in French?"


"What's the French word for 'cotton wool'?"

"That's right."



Jul. 14th, 2015 07:51 pm
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I get migraines occasionally. Not very often—probably on average two or three times a year for the past 15 years or so (though in the summer of 2005 it happened twice within three weeks of each other, not fun). They generally seem to happen in the late afternoon and evening on a weekend or vacation day, especially one on which my eating, sleeping, or caffeine-consumption schedule has been out of the ordinary, seemingly most often shortly after I've been under a lot of stress (but almost never while I'm stressed). But I didn't realize till a few years ago, when [livejournal.com profile] kepod suggested it, that migraines are what I've been having.

Migraines were always described to me as a kind of especially intense headache. And although my migraines do involve a headache (on only one side of the head, as advertised), it's not that intense, and it's definitely at most the third-most noticeable symptom. My migraines are principally characterized by fatigue and nausea, and the headache feels as if it's just a side effect of those. In fact, if I eventually actually throw up, the headache and fatigue go away too, which definitely makes it seem like the headache is caused by the nausea rather than vice versa. So the first few times, I thought what I had was just maybe food poisoning or something, and then for at least ten years thereafter I thought of it as "a stomach thing that happens to me sometimes, wait it out and it'll pass"—it definitely never occurred to me to connect it with what I'd heard about migraines.

After [livejournal.com profile] kepod suggested it was a migraine, I asked my doctor about it and she said if it was a migraine, ibuprofen would help; I should take it as soon as I realize that I'm having one. (I've gotten much better at catching them early—noticing in the afternoon that I'm unexpectedly tired and a little queasy and have a mild headache, before I start feeling really sick.) And it does! Ibuprofen makes the whole situation go away. And, well, ibuprofen is a painkiller; it doesn't treat nausea. (In fact, according to Wikipedia, ibuprofen can cause nausea.) So I guess this really does mean that it's the headache that's causing the nausea, rather than the other way around—it just seems really counterintuitive that that's the case.

(Also the last time I felt a migraine coming on I wasn't at home and didn't have any ibuprofen on me, but [livejournal.com profile] lowellboyslash had some Excedrin and that worked too. Except it turns out that two tablets of Excedrin contain more caffeine than I usually consume during an entire day, and I took them at 8pm. On the plus side of that, I got to see a beautiful sunrise.)
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