Monthly Archives: May 2021

NYT Spelling Bee 5-31-21 final

Th final installment of Calah’s cushions project drops tomorrow at 10am! It’s worth reading her series on it. The chairs as they are now are remarkable. Very comfortable. As though I needed even more reasons to feel lucky that she’s agreed to marry me. But I won’t get sappy here because vomit emoji, right?

Yesterday I missed BELITTLE, BILLY, BYTE, and LIBELEE.

Meatier Miss

BETEL: The leaf of an Asian evergreen climbing plant that is used in the East as a mild stimulant. Parings of areca nut, lime, and cinnamon are wrapped in the leaf, which is then chewed, causing the saliva to go red and, with prolonged use, the teeth to go black.

Oh noes. This is the thing of nightmares that I’ve missed before. Calah and I just watched a few episodes of The Amazing Race before I finished writing this blog, and pictures of this is not what I need right now. But since I had to look to remind myself, I’m bringing you down with me. You know, in the spirit of sharing and community.

From India’s Cancer Journal.

Today’s summary

Letters: TDEGHIL
Final score: 44 words for 218 points.
Genius minimum: 188 points.
First word: LIGHTED.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-30-21 final

Today was Dungeons & Dragons. It was way more fun than I had thought it would be. I’m still getting the hang of the procedure and what I can do and can’t do and what other people can do and can’t do. Absolutely I misplayed some things. But I’m more prepped for next time.


Meatier Misses

AGLET: A metal or plastic tube fixed tightly around each end of a shoelace. I didn’t know the name of this! That’s so cool! Also did anyone else try to fix theirs with tape? It was never perfect, but it was better than letting them get unraveled.
GALETTE: A flat round cake of pastry or bread.

That looks good. The View From Great Island has all the deets.

GAVOTTE: A medium-paced French dance, popular in the 18th century.
GLOTTAL: [attributive] Of or produced by the glottis.

glottis: The part of the larynx consisting of the vocal cords and the opening between them. It affects voice modulation through expansion or contraction.

LEGATE: A member of the clergy, especially a cardinal, representing the Pope.
TOLLGATE: A barrier across a road where drivers or pedestrians must pay to go further.

Today’s summary

Letters: BEHILTY
Final score: 16 words for 73 points.
Genius minimum: 69 points.
First word: HILLBILLY.
Pangram: BLITHELY.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-29-21 final

I’m going to play Dungeons & Dragons tomorrow! This is the first time I’m going to be playing, and it’s going to be an experience! My character’s name is Lamont Cranston, and I’m a half-elf sorcerer! I’ll let you know how it goes.

Yesterday I missed the second pangram, OPENHANDED, as well as ADDENDA, ANODE, APNEA, DONEE, HENNAED, NADA, NEON, ODEON, and PHONO.

Meatier Misses

DAPHNE: A small Eurasian shrub with sweet-scented flowers and, typically, evergreen leaves.

Here’s care advice from GardeningKnowHow.

ENNEAD: rare A group or set of nine.
PEAHEN: I just wanted an excuse to post this picture of me as a child.

I feel like I’m going to know when Calah reads this post.

Today’s summary

Letters: AEGLOTV
Final score: 54 words for 211 points.
Genius minimum: 207 points.
First word: VOLTAGE.
Pangram: VOLTAGE.

My essay for the $1000 to watch home improvement shows

I wrote in my Spelling Bee post on Thursday that I was pretty certain I didn’t win the contest to get paid $1000 to watch home improvement shows. I wrote this as my submission essay on April 11, 2021.

“You like home improvement, home improvement shows, and you like to write!” said my fiancee this morning as we drove around to scout out possible outdoor venues. “When we get home, write to them,” she insisted. So here I am, hammering away at my computer, in the living room of our 1+1, much-postponed wedding finally on the horizon.

In most aspects of my life, I like to take things that are distressed and make them shine. I do that in my professional life as an accountant who specializes in bringing startups from something cobbled together (think: Tarek El-Moussa saying, “This whole place has been trashed–and there’s no way this add-on is permitted.”) to being something investors care about (think: the end of every episode of every show in this list). In my personal life, I like to scope the free stuff section on craigslist and take pieces of furniture that look pretty grim (think: every kitchen that’s way too narrow and doesn’t have an island) and turn it into something usable (the end of every episode). I even document my progress in weekly installments on my ThatShipHasSunk blog.

After our wedding this summer, my fiancee and I will be looking to get out of this place where the kitchen drawers are much too tall and vertical blinds fall off when someone sneezes and where I have to stop in the middle of writing this to pull out the staple gun to fix an unsupported chipboard drawer bottom (sure, fixing stuff is fun, but having to do so because knives are falling into a cabinet isn’t). The shows we watch give us insight into what we can do and what we might want to do in a place of our own. We each like to cook and bake, so the kitchen ideas from all the shows give us inspiration on how to have a functioning kitchen where we can work in tandem. Also advice on how to structure our bedroom so that we can have the storage we want while keeping our shins free from bruises is never unappreciated.

“A website is offering $1,000 for someone to binge-watch home improvement shows,” I read to my fiancee as we took the turns of Mulholland Drive in her Nissan Versa, and I continued the CNN article my dad sent to me. “Really, do it.” As though I needed all the convincing.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-28-21 final

I started listening to the Planet Money Podcast again. I had listened to hundreds of episodes of it when they were new and then stopped listening at some point. I think it was when I stopped using my iPod. If I still had iTunes, I’d be able to pinpoint when that was. I started yesterday with the first episode. And the first episode was in September of 2008. I was still a teenager back then. Crazy. Lehman hadn’t yet fallen; Bear Stearns had. There was advice that WaMu would probably be OK. Then, of course, Lehman was gone, and WaMu disappeared. I still remember when Washington Mutual bought Home Savings & Loan because I went with my grandpa to what had been the Great Western Bank, as they moved his safe deposit box over there from Home Savings & Loan. Then Washington Mutual became WaMu, and then WaMu because dead and then Chase. I know what ends up happening in the financial crisis, but to hear real-time reactions is a little spooky. I’m in October 2008 now. They approved the bailout after some failed attempts.

Yesterday I missed FAUN, FAUNAL, and FILIAL.

Meatier Misses

FILLIP: Something which acts as a stimulus or boost to an activity.

From etymonline:

fillip (v.)

mid-15c., philippen “to flip something with the fingers, snap the fingers,” possibly of imitative origin. As a noun, from 1520s, fyllippe.

I hadn’t heard this word before, and I feel meh about it.

FINIAL: A distinctive ornament at the apex of a roof, pinnacle, canopy, or similar structure in a building.

Today’s summary

Letters: NADEHOP
Final score: 55 words for 232 points.
Genius minimum: 216 points.
First word: HAPPENED.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-27-21 final

It looks like I won’t be getting $1000 to watch home improvement shows. I applied to that thing where one lucky winner can watch get $1000 for watching TV. They said the winner would be notified by May 17, and now it’s May 27, so I feel like I didn’t win. I was proud of my essay. More on that will be a different post.


Meatier Misses

CODON: Biochemistry A sequence of three nucleotides which together form a unit of genetic code in a DNA or RNA molecule.

As Calah is a nurse, she had to learn about these things in nursing school. She’s says she remembers making drawings. She’s trying to dig up her drawings right now. When she finds them, I’ll have a picture to post here.

While I wait, I get to brag about her approach to alleviate nursing stress not through yoga and meditation but through effective delegation.

She just found the stuff, so here we go.

Full Sheet

Today’s summary

Letters: FAILNPU
Final score: 19 words for 74 points.
Genius minimum: 69 points.
First word: PUFFIN.
Pangram: PAINFUL.

Not mine but great:

NYT Spelling Bee 5-26-21 final

I can’t believe the two words I missed yesterday! I would have gotten Queen Bee!

Earlier today I came across many Queen Bee tweets for today’s Spelling Bee. I am happy for people to get to Queen Bee, but the thing that makes me sad is to read the Queen Bee score. I wish people would black out the score itself so those of us who are still working on it don’t have the game spoiled.

Rather than take up room here, I wrote a post earlier today about it.

Yesterday the two words I missed were ATTACH and ITCH.

Meatier Misses

None. I just missed ATTACH and ITCH.

Today’s summary

Letters: NCDIOTU
Final score: 33 words for 173 points.

Final score: 34 words for 182 points.
New word: INTUITION.

I’ve run out of time to take a new screenshot.

Genius minimum: 170 points.
First word: CONDUIT.

Personal appeal to the #nytspellingbee / #hivemind community: Please stop posting Queen Bee scores!

Blacking out the scores is so easy!

I understand the desire to brag about getting to Queen Bee. I get it exceedingly rarely, so I know it’s a major accomplishment. Promote your accomplishments for sure!

The issue I have is that I happen upon the scores that yield the Queen Bee badge. I don’t want to know those scores. I don’t want hints. I don’t want solutions without agreeing to get them. I see the spoilers, and I don’t feel like I’ve agreed to seeing that.

Now, posting stuff has been a journey for me. When I started off, nobody cared what I had to write. And appropriately so. I didn’t even realize that it was an issue for me to have as the featured image of a blog post that day’s NYT Crossword grid.

But then people started to read what I write.

And someone reached out in horror that I’d post the solution in a non-hidden way. I, too, was horrified that I’d ruined others’ enjoyment of solving the crossword and forever changed what I use as the featured image.

When I post screenshots from my phone, I block out the score and the words I’ve gotten.

I schedule my blog to post at 11:58pm so I don’t interfere with anyone’s fun for that day.

Today it really got me when I saw that there were lots of posts with the Queen Bee final scores. Some within an hour of midnight. If that weren’t enough, one that was posted only about an hour after the puzzle was released had the final score both in the screenshot and the tweet text.

I know that a solution is to delete twitter/not use twitter. Some might advise not to follow people who post scores early in the day.

I am not going to stay off twitter because that’s not a reasonable solution.

And I don’t have to follow the people who post their scores to see them. I see those tweets accidentally when people like the tweets or reply to them. So I’m stuck.

I like being part of the #hivemind community. I really do. I like that we have a thing to solve every day, and I like the camaraderie. I enjoy having something to write about to daily, too.

I’m not saying don’t brag about Queen Bee. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t post screenshots of the Queen Bee badge. My feeling is what I wrote at the beginning of this: Promote your accomplishments for sure!

My request is that people not post the word count and score.

I used to try to solve for Queen Bee, but knowing what it takes to get there takes part of the fun away from me.

I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way.

I’m not going to reply to all those tweets with this request. This will serve as my appeal to the community to be considerate of those of us who don’t want hints.

Maybe twitter should have a spoiler feature like on reddit. Then it would be easy for all.

Thanks for reading this, and happy solving!


NYT Spelling Bee 5-25-21 final

I must make a correction. Yesterday I said that today’s post by @ccaallaahh would be the final in the cushion series. That was inaccurate. There will be a part 4. I’m happy about issuing this statement because I get to enjoy more of what she writes, and I get another week off to figure out which project to write about next.

Now, there was a chance at a new project today. Or at least there had appeared to be.

Sewing table with motorized storage for sewing machine.

But it would have been an awesome thing that would have been fun to restore, but it would have meant years of enjoyment having restored something that would serve as a recreational setup just for Calah. But now I know that such a thing exists.


Meatier Misses

OCCIPITAL: Anatomy Relating to or situated in the back of the head. Calah’s going to laugh at me that I missed this one. I don’t know how many times she’s used that word in preparation for school, but it’s been a lot.
CAPICOLA: A pork cold cut that looks like this:

From A Taste of Artisan

AKA gabagool.

PICCATA: Cooked in a sauce of lemon, parsley and butter. I’ve missed this before and probably will again.

Today’s summary

Letters: TACHIRU
Final score: 49 words for 231 points.
Genius minimum: 167 points. What did I need for Queen Bee?????
First word: CRITIC.
Pangram: HAIRCUT.

Upholstery: Calah made cushions! And wrote about them! (Part 3)

If you recall from last week, I had successfully made the cushion cover. It was just lacking the thing that makes a cushion a cushion… the foam. So, that’s what I’ll be talking about today!

Step 3: Somehow put the foam into the cover I just made. Sounds pretty simple… right?… anyone?… hello out there?

My plan was to use the sewing machine as much as possible to secure those seams before I had to hand-stitch anything because I knew that whatever the machine did, it would be 10,000,000 times stronger than whatever my two hands could do… and especially since the cushions will face a future life of constant sitting, leaning, shearing, and other inevitable forces, I wanted them to have the best chance of surviving at LEAST 10 individual buttocks interactions before I had to fix them/replace them. So that’s what you will see in the first picture below. I kept the two ends open for hand stitching, thinking that those areas would experience the least amount of stress (Is that factual? I haven’t the slightest clue. But it sounds good, right? If you do actually know the answer, comment below and set me straight.). As we speak, they are still intact and holding their own! Time will tell, but I have a good feeling about their longevity.

Cushion-tube right-side out and ready to stuff! That’s my arm wearing the tube like a sleeve to help facilitate the foam-shoving activity.
Just a few adjustments here and there, but the foam is pretty much where I want it to be.
Do you see that wrinkling there in the corner? I don’t like it.

Once I adjusted the foam to be exaclty lined up with the corners and edges, I folded the two open edges and began to hand stitch them closed. It was here where I learned the value of thimbles. I had never used them before, though, I was aware of their existence. I had to hand stitching the thick bulk of secondary and fancy fabrics all rolled up on the ends of the cushion. This can get to be pretty tough to push through with just your bare fingers. And even though there was a decent amount of swelling at my J&J injection site (I’m like the Hulk now, but just in one arm because J&J is a one shot deal so I list), my rippling bicep didn’t stand a chance. Trust me, get yourself a thimble… your fingers will thank you.

The wrinkling you saw in the previous photo bothered me a lot. All of my other corners were smooth and lovely, but that one darned corner would just not do. Honestly, I am not 100% certain where I went wrong, but I suspect that I didn’t fold and close the ends as nicely as I could have when I was hand stitching.

My first cushion’s carcass.

Just to be sure, I performed a cesarian on the cushion, freed the foam from the wrinkled case, and made a brand new cover that fit JUST RIGHT.


Pretty darned cool, right? I thought so too.

And here are both cushions!

That wrinkling in the bottom cushion’s lower right-hand corner was resolved with a slight adjustment to the placement of the foam inside.

And then to see if I actually made something worthwhile…

Wait for it…

I placed the cushion against the back of the chair to see how it looked, and man… it looked pretty sweet. At that point, I was pretty darned pleased that what I had envisoned in my head ACTUALLY looked like what I had made in reality. That doesn’t happen often for me. So after my victory lap around our one bedroom apartment, I started to brainstorm ideas on how to make my beautiful (and comfy) cushions stay put on the chair.

Join me next week for part 4!

Lessons learned: Thimbles are very helpful, and needles are still pretty sharp.