Monthly Archives: November 2020

NYT Spelling Bee 11-25-20 final

Hello from Day 7 of the California COVID Curfew. I heard on the radio that there’s a party going on somewhere off Coldwater. Valets and everything. Blocking traffic. Lots of people calling the police to complain about it.

Today’s puzzle was rougher for me than it should have been, according to Lauren. She was completely right. My mind was just foggy on this one.

Yesterday I missed GLEE, GLUT, GUILT, GULLED, LIEGE, and I probably shouldn’t have.

But then there were these:
GELEE: The accented gelatin dessert that I never remember.
GELID: Icy; extremely cold. Like how it is in LA right now. Low of 49 tonight. Low of 45 tomorrow night. There aren’t enough smartwool socks in the world for that kind of gelid air.
GIGUE: A lively piece of music in the style of a dance, typically of the Renaissance or baroque period, and usually in compound time. And when it’s over, they announce, “The gigue is up!”
GLUTEI: Two or more of the three muscles in each buttock which move the thigh, the largest of which is the gluteus maximus. I work on mine almost all day.
GLUTTED: Fully satisfied.

As for today, I had so many thoughts that weren’t recognized words.

Final score: 40 words for 172 points.
Genius minimum: 165 points.
First word: FICTION
Final word: NONFICTION, and I’m chuckling at how I started off with faking it and ended it straight-up.
Wishlist: Enya’s ORINOCO flow


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

NYT Crossword 11-25-20 Complete

A moment ago I was excited to have done a Thursday puzzle so quickly. Then I realized that today is only Wednesday. And I can be fine at Wednesdays, so it turns out that this was no real surprise.

I pulled out 32D Signed, sealed or delivered: PASTTENSE because of how sad the song would have been. I mean could you imagine?

There I was / Signed, sealed, delivered / I was yours back then.


I don’t know how I feel about today’s theme other than that it exists.

16A Prince, e.g.: MALEHEIR
25A Stamp on an envelope [and 16-Across flipped]: AIRMAIL
31A It takes a glider up to launch altitude: TOWPLANE
44A It takes a glider up to launch altitude: PLAINTOE
50A Golf reservation: TEETIME
63A Herbal drink full of antioxidants [and 50-Across flipped]: THYMETEA

Thyme tea? This is the first I’ve ever heard of thyme tea. So I looked it up and came across these questions:

That second one really got my mind going. What does happen to your body when you drink thyme tea?

A little more searching got me to the unassailable medical publication Stylecraze’s 3 Side Effects That Tell You Why Thyme May Not Always Be Good. Those side effects are headaches, asthma, and skin allergies.

It even offered that it could lead to “hypotension: Allergic response to thyme may cause hypotension, as observed in a 45-year old man. Some sources even hint cardiac arrest upon the intake of thyme oil.”

When you talk about a single uncited case and then offer the vague “some sources,” it’s just gotta be true.

I finished this one in 12:19. We’ll see tomorrow what a real Thursday puzzle will do to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

NYT Spelling Bee 11-24-20 final

Hello from Day 6 of the current California COVID Curfew!

I got all the way to genius from my phone from bed last night. So I continued from my computer today and thought I’d try for Queen Bee. I gave up on that but don’t know how far away I got.


I don’t know these words that NYT Spelling Bee accepts.

CANNA: A tropical American plant with bright flowers and ornamental broad, flat leaves. Oh, right. I’ve missed canna lily before.
CANTATA: A medium-length narrative piece of music for voices with instrumental accompaniment, typically with solos, chorus, and orchestra.
CAPON: A castrated male chicken fattened for eating. Wait, what?
NATANT: Swimming or floating.
OCTANT: An arc of a circle equal to one eighth of its circumference, or the area enclosed by such an arc with two radii of the circle.

Today’s Spelling Bee had fewer glaring omissions.

Final score: 39 words for 183 points.
Genius minimum: 160 points.
First word: GUILED
Pangram: GUILTED
Snubs: ILLEGIT. LEGIT is OK. ILLEGIT is not? Wack.

NYT Crossword 11-24-20 Complete

Kind of a slow Tuesday for me. Certainly it’s harder to do the puzzle on my phone, so it was a good call to my computer partway through.

I pulled the clue 41A Resentful and hostile manner, informally: TUDE mainly because what year is this? Does anyone shorten attitude to tude anymore? I realize that this a a real question. I haven’t been out in the world since early this year. Will there be all kinds of divergent slang due to lack of exposure to one another?

I figured out the theme with the middle clue, and it was right up my alley. So good job, Caitlin Reid. And thanks for not totally ruining it, Will Shortz.

19A “An orca is actually a dolphin?!”: WHALEILLBEDARNED (well I’ll be darned)
37A “Wow, that’s a giant sea cow!”: OHTHEHUGEMANATEE

The meme couldn’t have been the first time someone said this.

55A “This is the best fish I’ve ever had!”: GREATCODALMIGHTY

Good puns. I like it.

Final time for this slow Tuesday 16:40.

Woodworking: End table refinishing project (part 6)

I had expected that this would be the final installment of the end table refinishing project and that the next woodworking project’s first installment would be next week, but it turns out that we get at least one more post about this table beyond this one. How great is that?

Last week I told you about the 18″ ash legs I’d ordered. I was looking forward to those legs. I got the shipping confirmation. I was tracking their progress from Illinois to Los Angeles and their expected delivery date. But there was no progress. I called South Carolina, and South Carolina said that it was shipped from Illinois, and maybe there was a different tracking number used. I called Illinois, and ultimately it looked like the the package had been lost by UPS.

When I heard that, I immediately felt for Tucker Carlson. But the loss of this package seemed to be real instead of the fake-lost fake Hunter Biden documents.

The seller’s customer service was very nice and offered a replacement. And since they didn’t have ash legs available immediately, they asked if I would be OK with white oak legs instead. I didn’t mind darker legs, and it wasn’t like the rest of the table was consistently one type of wood and that this would throw off the coloration of the piece.

I tracked the legs all the way from Illinois to LA, and then it was time to get to work.

I sanded them down and got them ready for the teak oil. But I had to figure out how to let them dry without a problem.

Then I realized that the mounts I had ordered on amazon came with like a T-nut for hanger bolts. This kit came with hanger bolts, too, so all you really needed were legs that were drilled out in the center. Pretty convenient. But I could install these nuts into the top of a cardboard box.

I drilled out the holes first.
Ready to go!

So I started the process, and I was on my way.

Look at how this perspective makes the leg look like a dowel without taper.

So far so good! Table is so close to being finished! Hooray! No problems here!


I checked the legs against the table, and there was definitely not enough space for the hanger bolts to be screwed in all the way. I had to come up with solutions!

hey, it could work!

I decided to see if the nut would work as a spacer. It fit, sure, but it was all kinds of sketchy.

Well, there ARE legs on it!

It actually looked pretty nice, I think! I was happy that I chose straight leg mounts over angled leg mounts. Right?

But I had to figure out a solution that could actually not be super sketchy. Which this setup absolutely was.

So I got some washers that I decided to use as spacers. Just for the time being. You know, unless they worked great. Then forever.

Unsightly much?

Not only did this approach not look good, but the play that was the result of the imperfect fit made the table noticeably wobbly. I hadn’t put weeks into this to have the threads stripped and the table fall down.

So it was back to all kinds of research. I needed not only to get the enough space between the mount plates and the table but also the proper mounts.

And this gave me the opportunity to reconsider my choice of using straight mounts over angled mounts.

So I talked to the seller in South Carolina about the mounts they sell–the ones that are made with the legs in mind–about if there’s enough clearance to accommodate for the 3/4″-long hanger bolts without having to add a buffer between the mount and the table. Ultimately, the answer was yes.

This time I decided to go with angled mounts.

As they were on their way, I did some calculations so I could be ready with what I needed to finish up this project and be happy with it.

I knew the leg mounts were made with an 11-degree mount angle.

The table is 14″ wide. The legs are 18″ tall. How big does the piece of wood need to be to affix to the underside of the table so the legs can hit the floor where I want them to?

OK so I have a right triangle. Makes it a little easier.

The hypotenuse of the right triangle is 18″ because the legs are at an angle, and the angle is 11 degrees. So if I want the legs hit the floor at about the corners of the table, I have to figure out where the offset should be.

I can do that simply by sin(11 degrees) and multiply that by 18. I get a little more than 3.43″. So you take away about 7″ overall from the 14″.

But that’s from the center of the leg. I need to know how long a block of wood has to be to accommodate the mounts.

The mount is a square 2-3/8″ on a side. So I need to add half of 2-3/8″ because only half the mount would extend beyond the center of the leg.

Except that I want the mount to be at a 45-degree angle so the legs point to the corners.

But we’re lucky. A square is made of two isosceles right triangles. To find the hypotenuse, we just add the squares of each side and take the square root of that. So sqrt( 2 x 2.375^2). That gives about 3.36″.

The actual design of the mounts cuts off the corners to make an octagonal shape, and the screw holes also are recessed from the edge. It seems like I can get rid of about half an inch overall. I’d have to add about 1.5″ to either side of the piece of wood. So I have 14″ wide – 7″ for the sweep of the leg + 3″ to account for the size of the mount. I’ll need a block of wood 10″ long. Also the width of that block of wood needs to be somewhere in the 2.75″-3″ range. As for thickness, I’d need 1/2″ to 3/4″.

Equipped with that information, I went to House of Hardwood where I hadn’t shopped in about two decades. But as you’ll see in my next woodworking project series, I knew that was the place to go.

I found some hardwood in the scrap area. I got two pieces. They cut them to 10″ long. Back in the car, I was on my way home with the blocks of wood I needed and the California shutdown looming.

With any luck, next week’s post will be the last of this project’s series. And then I can begin the next one.

NYT Spelling Bee 11-23-20 final

Hello from Day 5 of the current California COVID curfew!

It took a little bit of time for me to get the pangram for this spelling bee, but I got there.

If I’d kept going, I imagine I’d have found CANYON, COPAY, YAHOO

I probably wouldn’t have gotten: AHOY (which is a shame because cool), ANYHOO, or PAPACY.

As a standalone word, HYPO: The chemical sodium thiosulphate (formerly called hyposulphite) used as a photographic fixer. Because photography clues are so relevant right now. Which makes me wonder why we haven’t heard of more quarantine darkrooms. If people are making sourdough, why don’t people set up darkrooms and take pictures with film they can develop at home? It seems like a logical next step.

I stopped today at genius partly because I could get the screenshot on my computer and partly because there was more that I wanted to do with my day.

Final score: 32 words for 139 points.
Genius minimum: 131 points.
First word: ACCOUNTANT
Final word: OCCUPANT

This one was a real shame!

Lauren pointed this one out:

And, of course, if you get your badge and gun right out of school, you might be a

NYT Crossword 11-23-20 Complete

I filled out the grid in 4:29! But I didn’t do it correctly. It’s a common theme for me when I race through it.

Like the Moody Blues say: “Run like a fire / Don’t you run in / In the lanes / RUN FOR TIME.”

It took almost as long to find my errors as it did to do the puzzle!

I pulled out 47D Unleavened bread for Passover: MATZOH as today’s clue I have something to say about. Transliterated words are the really the worst. I have seen MATZAH and MATZO in the wild and in use, but MATZOH? I don’t think so. It’s like when the Spelling Bee had MAZAL and MAZEL as words that existed in the grid but not in the word list. But they’re fine with MOOLA AND MOOLAH. These inconsistencies are quite a headache.

And as for the theme: 62D Two forms of them are found in 18-, 38- and 60-Across: IDS.
18A Australian wind instrument: D(ID)GER(ID)OO
38A System of underwater mountains: M(ID)OCEANR(ID)GE
60A Wedding attendant: BR(ID)ESMA(ID)

Though I prefer my own theme and the one I started with: RIDE MY SEE-SAW!

18A Australian wind instrument: DIDGERIDOO
38A System of underwater mountains: MIDOCEANRIDGE
60A Wedding attendant: BRIDESMAID

NYT Spelling Bee 11-22-20 final

Hello from the fourth night of the current California COVID curfew!

I decided to quit after getting to genius level today because I was happy to get where I got. A Y in the middle without an L certainly makes for a tougher spelling bee.

As I wrote my blog post yesterday–a thing I do usually when I finish the puzzle–I wrote about the BAOBAB tree. I realized only later that BAOBAB appeared two days in a row. So I missed it two days in a row. I also missed NABOB.

AEON: The dumb spelling of EON. And more chances to point out that AEON is fine, but AROAR is not fine.
JOJOBA: An oil extracted from the seeds of an American shrub, widely used in cosmetics. I have little doubt that I will forget this. Like I forget the BAOBAB tree.

Final score: 18 words for 89 points.
Genius minimum: 88 points.
First word: ANNOY
Last word: YAPPY
Missed opportunity:

NYT Crossword 11-22-20 Complete

I had early success with today’s puzzle, but that slowed down considerably as I struggled with the theme. After some thought, I figured the theme out, and the rest of the puzzle got a lot easier.

The clue I decided to pull out was 100A Emotive brass sound: WAHWAH. It’s sad trombone.

I’ve used this before, and it seems to come in handy a lot these days. I look forward to that changing.

It All Adds Up is the theme because the way to solve it is through addition. It probably would have helped to read the title of the puzzle earlier than as I was scanning this completed post for any glaring errors before clicking the publish button.

The circled clues add up to make useful and appropriate words.

23A Bygone office group: S(ONE)OPOOL
3D Made the rounds?: (NINE)DEDBAR
23A Bygone office group: STENO POOL
3D Made the rounds?: TENDED BAR

25A Final remark in an argument: THELAS(ONE)RD
15D Doctor’s reassurance before a shot: I(ONE)NTHURT
25A Final remark in an argument: THE LAST WORD
15D Doctor’s reassurance before a shot: IT WON’T HURT

66A Long-running show whose iconic hourglass is in the Smithsonian collection: DAYSO(TWO)LIVES
35D 1943 Pulitzer-winning Thornton Wilder play, with “The”: SKINO(TWO)TEETH


66A Long-running show whose iconic hourglass is in the Smithsonian collection: DAYS OF OUR LIVES
35D 1943 Pulitzer-winning Thornton Wilder play, with “The”: SKIN OF OUR TEETH

113A Union Pacific vehicle: FR(FOUR)TRAIN
72D Qualifies to fight in a certain class: MAKESW(FOUR)
113A Union Pacific vehicle: FREIGHT TRAIN
72D Qualifies to fight in a certain class: MAKES WEIGHT

116A Neither gains nor loses: BREAK(ZERO)
77D Journalists might be invited to it: PRES(SEVENT)
116A Neither gains nor loses: BREAKS EVEN
77D Journalists might be invited to it: PRESS EVENT

Definitely a lot to get through today. It’s my first completed Sunday in a long while. It took me less than an hour, which I think isn’t so bad.

NYT Spelling Bee 11-21-20 final

Hello from Day 3 of the current California curfew! Today’s spelling be was extraordinarily short. I decided against going for Queen Bee because I was happy to get to genius.

In yesterday’s behemoth spelling bee, I missed a bunch.


I would have searched for but probably not found BLOTTO, BOOHOO, MOOLA, and MOOLAH, though I really probably never would have found MOOLA. Who spells it without the H?

I never would have gotten ABLOOM. Especially because they are inconsistent with A-words. Like AROAR isn’t in the word list ever.

BAOBAB: Oh, right! A tree I always forget.

Crazy baobab tree

BOHO: As I was typing this word out I remembered that it’s short for bohemian. Ugh.
HABOOB: A violent and oppressive wind blowing in summer, especially in Sudan, bringing sand from the desert. Also a hilarious word. Because I’m 12, apparently.

Today’s brief puzzle and decision to quit at genius led me to decide to grab the featured image from the computer instead of from my phone. That’s why it looks different. I know you were wondering.

Final score: 18 words for 56 points.
Genius minimum: 51 points.
First word: ANEW
Pangram: JAWBONE
Word I’m proud to have gotten: WANNABE
Omitted liquors:

Omitted Jabberwocky word despite a prior Spelling Bee’s use of GALUMPH as the pangram a while back:


I bet whip wouldn’t work, either. Get with the times, New York!