[insert name here]

(I’m making random short posts to entertain certain people during spring break.)

Since air-dropping into this crazy cultural salad bowl of a place, I’ve met a lot of people whose names get mispronounced. All sorts of long vowels and short vowels and consonants and word boundaries that jump across languages unpredictably. As a result, people often acquire nicknames or alternative names to get called by, whether actively, passively, or somewhere in between.

In contrast, my name is easy and boring. Now, I rather doubt I’d want an exciting name, in the sense of a name that everybody mangles in excitingly different ways. I’m not exactly dissatisfied with people calling me “Brian”. It just strikes me that I think I’ve gone my entire life without a meaningful nickname or even meaningful derivative of my name.

(I’m ignoring the transposition. Why am I ignoring the transposition? I’m not sure I can rationally justify that, but thinking about it makes me cringe, which is the reason I’m delicately avoiding explicitly writing out what nickname I refer to by “transposition”. I will just say it is rather uninspired… and also, perplexingly to me, used by accident a lot…)

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Zootopia

(So. It’s spring break. Two-week-late post, and somehow by the end it’s all aboard the angst train again?)

Two Sundays ago, I mobbed with a small group of MIT furries to watch Zootopia, the recent highly-reputed Disney movie.

(Before anything else, first there were the previews. I was impressed that every single one of them — there were six or so — was about an upcoming movie featuring anthropomorphic animals front and center. Let me see if I can remember all of them… in no particular order, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Secret Life of Pets, The Jungle Book, Storks, Finding Dory, and Ice Age: Collision Course. edit: Oh, also Angry Birds. Wow, I said, they know their audience.)

I went into the movie with a vague impression that Zootopia was more adult-oriented than most Disney films — not in the naughty way, but in general making a lot of jokes and invoking a lot of parallels that I think only adults might have the experience to get. My suspicions were confirmed a few lines into the movie, where there was a joke about taxes I cracked up at but can’t imagine that children a few years younger would have found funny. If you the reader haven’t watched it, I hope that was vague enough not to ruin the start for you.

(To be fair — and, uh, some parts of the internet are kind of big on this fact — the film also at one point enters a nudist colony. Fortunately (?), Animals Lack Attributes.)

Humor aside, I think the movie also deals with some weighty and nuanced themes, ones that would take more life experience to fully appreciate than the themes of most Disney movies. The social commentary is very clear. Possibly bordering on too blatant for my tastes — even though the whole movie is kind of Funny Talking Animals, there are some animal species for which it’s really easy to guess which human demographic groups they might be symbolizing, to the point where I can already imagine the other side of the debate. You won’t need a PhD in literature to figure out the parallels; you wouldn’t even need an AP English Literature class. But, I think, it still works. It’s like Animal Farm on training wheels.

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Brand New

(all the times that you beat me unconscious I forgive)

angst [████████  ] (8/10)

We’re overdue for one of these posts, I guess.

(all the crimes incomplete – listen, honestly I’ll live)

Last-ditch feeble attempts at cleaning and reorganizing my desk and shelf before I figuratively drowned in academics led to me finding

  • the Google physical linked puzzle, which I placed in the Kitchen Lounge to nerd-snipe people, successfully
  • a Burger King crown from the previous career fair
  • ID stickers from the Putnam, one of which is now on my keyboard cover cover (← not a typo), just because
  • assorted edibles, like candies and jellies, which I ate; as well as the half-finished Ziploc bag of candy from my FPOP, six months ago, which I just tossed in the trash
  • a box. It’s just, like, a box. I don’t know what goes or went into it

I feel more in control of my living quarters. Marginally. Guess I’ll be fine.

(mr. cool, mr. right, mr. know-it-all is through)

Pros and cons of having a departmental advisor in your area of interest:

  • Pro: the advisor knows something about the classes you want to take and can help you choose classes
  • Con: the advisor knows something about the classes you want to take and can help you choose classes

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whoosh (spoiler-free)

I finally did it.

I was on-site for the 2016 MIT Mystery Hunt. I even solved a metapuzzle. This year I hunted with ✈✈✈ Galactic Trendsetters ✈✈✈, the team primarily but not overwhelmingly formed from floorpi, my dorm floor. (Perhaps somewhat regrettably, I didn’t contribute to any events or runarounds or things given to HQ, unless you count attending a “recitation” for Student Simulator (round King Arthur, second from left).)

(Also, I made this post. Has it been two weeks already? Okay, that’s not an unusual timeframe.)

But wow, I got to touch so many puzzles.

Non-spoilery comments on particularly memorable puzzles I did, which are disproportionately programming-related, if anybody wants to look at them (I am describing how to get to the puzzle from the round instead of linking because I’m lazy and links might rot but the instructions will hopefully survive archival (although turns out there’s actually a table of contents so I don’t know what I’m doing)):

  • identify, SORT, index, solve (round Sleeping Beauty, bottom-right) is my favorite puzzle. Since I probably have a lot of readers in that direction, I should mention it’s also math-related!
  • Time Suck (round Endymion, second from left in bottom row) is hilarious and pretty fun, too. Programming/scripting/hacking-things-together ability helps, but I suppose you can do this the long titular way if you want…
  • ASCII Characters (round Rip Van Winkle, top pin behind the center one): I enjoyed the first part, but am pretty dissatisfied with the second, even though we managed to get it eventually (more precisely, while some of us working on it had gotten stuck and left our hunt room to get burritos, phenomist guessed it remotely).
  • Luminance Shift (round Ysera, rightmost in Your Hand) was fun. I guess I might only complain that it’s not quite as cohesive as I like my puzzles to be.
  • Unimaginably Twisted Files (round Sleeping Beauty, one below top-center) was fun but we got stuck several times.
  • I did the Sleeping Gypsy meta! I even managed to backsolve one and a half answers from it! It was exhilarating!

Non-spoilery comments on cool puzzles I looked at but didn’t solve much of:

  • CLICK TO WIN!!! (round King Arthur, center): Cute use of the medium.
  • Replication (round Ysera, second from left in Enemy Side): Just look at this thing. Seriously, just look at it.
  • Quantum Minesweeper (round Pam Ewing, bottom-left): Also cute to behold.

And non-puzzly final observations:

  • I also got to meet quite a few friends who flew in for hunt! Perhaps most notably, I thought very hard and discussed with lots of people in order to come up with an interesting and robust protocol for meeting and recognizing Yoshiap, which we didn’t end up using, I ended up just visibly sending a chat over Hangouts saying “!!!”; even though I don’t know how often I’ll be in a similar situation again, suggestions for cooler protocols would be much appreciated, if only for mental gratification. Also unfortunately there were a few other people I only got to wave at. Oh well, there are probably still quite a few more next times.
  • The first morning, I got 4 hours of sleep. No regrets. I think sleep deprivation really only set in a few days later, but boy, that was quite the experience and totally worth it.
  • I got to look at somebody’s screen and ask somebody “What Flight are you on?”
  • Verbally following up to the title is so fun.
  • Does Holden Lee read my blog????????

Oh well, back to normal life…

As last time, spoilery comments are in a separate protected post, whose password is “spoilery”.

Ascension

I wasn’t sure what would be the right song for 2015 until I set foot on MIT. Then it was a no-brainer.

Where do I even begin?

  • I thought cooking was hard. Then I ended up in the kitchen on the third floor of the west parallel of East Campus and had to produce something edible. So I figured out how to acquire chicken and put it in a pan with some onions and heat the whole thing up. It wasn’t even that bad! A few weeks later, I graduated to cooking in a rotation for six people. All this from a guy whose culinary abilities only went as far as frying eggs a few months ago. It’s incredible where life takes you sometimes.
  • I thought I couldn’t productively listen to lyrical music while doing homework, because I get distracted and/or bogged down by the feels. Turns out there’s a category of metal songs with great atmosphere and terrible lyrics that does the trick.
  • I had planned to suffer through introductory chemistry my freshman fall and introductory biology my freshman spring, and thereafter be done with required classes. Well, I took chemistry, but there was barely any suffering involved, and now biology fits nowhere on my freshman spring schedule.
  • I had some outlandish hopes I’d walk into college and be able to become mildly financially independent because people would throw high-paying jobs at me that I could learn from, but I didn’t expect it to happen. Life isn’t that easy!

    Well… it happened.

  • An incredible number of redacted things.

    I’ve never been that kind of guy. Honest and innocent to a fault, no secrets except those arising from paranoid self-assigned concern about others’ privacy: that’s me. Until this year.

    Oh well, I can’t blog about it.

    [redacted]

  • But mostly, of course, I actually graduated. The teacher-appreciation dinner happened (6/4), where I debuted my graduation song (woo!) and ate some good cake (double woo!); senior prom happened (6/7), with some awesome photos; and then, actually, the graduation ceremony. (6/10, same day I realized I had recently passed 100 starred things on GitHub.)

    ::looks at self:: I’m actually a college student now.

    Every one of these stages of life seems like it should be a big deal, like I should pass through and suddenly know all the things about maturity and aspirations and life that are expected of college students, but it never happens that way.

    At least, all things considered, I think this transition was very successful at taking my mind off the angsty side of things. This post is actually surprisingly unangsty. Sorry to disappoint if that’s what you’re here for!

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Puzzle 49 / Triple Back

I’m not really satisfied with the execution, but eh, what the hell. My brain can only function at so much of its full capacity when it’s a few kilometers up in the sky.

This is a Triple Back, variant on MellowMelon’s Double Back. Briefly, draw a closed loop through all square centers visiting each bold-outlined area exactly three (= ⌊π⌋) times. Shaded cells do not influence solving, only aesthetics.

floorpi-triple-back

Thanks for being an awesome place to live.❤

(Yes, I know I’ve been posting way too many puzzles and way too few text posts recently. Expect that to change soon.)