Monthly Archives: May 2021

NYT Spelling Bee 5-24-21 final

Tomorrow is the third installment of Calah‘s cushions series. I’m glad that she and I had the chance to collaborate on something cool and useful. Her blog drops at 10am. The following week will be back to me with a new project.

I’m very proud of the photo editing I did tonight to make the Caramel Mustang Macchiato. It’s the Mustang Mach-E but in a color it doesn’t come in. I spent way too long making it happen. I almost missed posting this since I was having so much fun!


Meatier Misses

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. Right! This is that gross stuff.
BOOTEE: A soft shoe, typically a knitted one worn by a baby. Dumb spelling of bootie.
LENTO: Music (especially as a direction) slowly.
NOVELETTE: derogatory A short novel, typically one that is light and romantic or sentimental in character.
TOOTLE: Casually make a series of sounds on a horn, trumpet, or similar instrument.

Today’s summary

Letters: IACIOPT
Final score: 56 words for 288 points.
Genius minimum: 284 points.
First word: PICCOLO.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-23-21 final

Well, I didn’t get there, and I played to the end of the day after not realizing I hadn’t gotten to genius. I was four points short. Eighteen minutes to get 40 more points. I only got 36. That’s how it goes.

I got a new fun thing that will help me with projects now and in the future. It took up a lot of my time today as I worked on a project that I’ll write about in a future Tuesday series. OK, it was the pliers. But this is my new machine:

You’ll hear me say this again and again: Everyone knows the benefits of eye protection and masks when grinding and sanding. But coveralls and gloves are awesome. Especially for metal dust. That stuff is no joke. Coveralls may look goofy, but they make going back inside without worrying about taking outside in with me so much easier and better and everything. And no one brags about gloves, but when sanding? Hand oils don’t get on the pieces, and your hands get scraped less. I’d like to shake the hand of whoever invented gloves.


Meatier Misses

INDRAWN: attributive (of breath) taken in.
WIGWAG/GING: North American informal Move to and fro.

Today’s summary

Letters: EBLNOTV
Final score: 48 words for 156 points.
Genius minimum: 160 points
First word: BEET.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-22-21 final

I’ve been working on a pair of pliers made in West Germany. The pliers are steel and belonged to Calah‘s dad. After watching a lot of restoration videos on YouTube, I decided I’d try my hand at restoring these.

If they worked well, I wouldn’t have to do anything. But they didn’t move freely, so there was work to be done.

I hope that I’ll make a lot of progress tomorrow, but I do expect this to be my first metal restoration project. It’s been fun so far, but metal dust is no joke.


Meatier Misses

I missed words I know. Sorry it’s not more interesting. But there are three pangrams today, so that’s cool.

Today’s summary

Letters: WADGINR
Final score: 29 words for 168 points.
Genius minimum: 165 points.
First word: WARN.

Sad Panda/Open Eye -OR- The University of San Francisco Cites My Blog (Part 2)

So there it was. That’s why I was Sad Panda.

Sad panda: This webpage is not useful–it is a random person’s self-published post.

I was crushed. I had been so proud to be cited. But then I learned I was cited as… sad panda.

That feeling was ephemeral.

It was quickly replaced by: Holy shit! They needed a sad panda and chose me! They’re getting people to read me.

But I reread my post, and I didn’t really like being Sad Panda. It didn’t seem just.

“This webpage is not useful–it is a random person’s self-published post.

Self-published post? I’m with you. Not useful? I disagree.

Now, long-time readers of this blog are well aware that my writing mainly is about the Spelling Bee and about woodworking projects. There are a lot of crossword posts, too, but I don’t do them as regularly as I used to due to increased demands on my time.

But there are many posts on here that are about real issues. One series is about the Trump-era change to add a fee to asylum seekers. I don’t think that it has changed under Biden, but I hope that it will.

Another topic is Prop 22.

I hadn’t read the post since around the time it was published in August of last year, and when I reread it, it was better than I’d remembered. It started from an email I’d received from Lyft that seemed sketchy. And I remembered a lesson my folks taught me from an early age about being educated by a salesperson: The salesperson is interested in making a sale, so it’s important to think critically about the the content of the pitch and that it’s OK not to buy right then.

So I broke down the sales pitch nature of the Lyft email and how absurd it was. I also shared independent research I’d done to satisfy my own curiosity. I’m biased, but of all the stuff I’ve written, that one was a good post!

The alternatives to Sad Panda were either too reliable or too conspiracy theory-ey.

I reached out to the University of San Francisco librarian who seemed to be in charge of the program to see how she even found me. She claimed to have found me on google. I don’t even know how I rated at such a high level on google.

But I expressed how at first I didn’t think it was fair to confine the classifications to those four because it prohibited the combination of self-published and helpful but that then I realized that it was a group projects thing that would require a conversation about which category to choose.

So it’s good that there are so few categories. And it’s great that mine isn’t clearly in one category.

While my post really must be Sad Panda if restricted to these options, it should be in the conversation for Open Eye. It should be far from Poison and nowhere close to Mola Ram.

Mola Ram from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

All in all, my dad was proud that he saw my sister’s employer (Los Angeles Times) on the second tab and my blog on the third. Both his children represented in an assignment from a school none of us has attended.

Happy birthday to Darren!

NYT Spelling Bee 5-21-21 final

I took my chuck roast out of the Coleman cooler. Feast your eyes on the fine dining dish of Meat in a Bag.

I’m writing this fast so I can run outside and start the coals. If I get back in time, I’ll have an updated picture.

OK I’m back. Here’s an updated picture. Looks way better than the MIAB photo. Yum.

So good!


Meatier Misses

TILTH: Cultivation of land; tillage.

Today’s summary

Letters: MAJLORY
Final score: 30 words for 132 points.
Genius minimum: 118 points.
First word: ARMY.
Pangram: MAJORLY.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-20-21 final

I haven’t checked on the chuck roast that’s been cooking for the past day and a half because I can’t see through the Coleman cooler, and if I open the lid, the Anova cooker comes out. No point in having that happen. But it will be tomorrow night’s dinner, so that’s a good thing.


Meatier Misses

ANOXIA: Medicine An absence or deficiency of oxygen reaching the tissues; severe hypoxia.
ATAXIA: Medicine The loss of full control of bodily movements.
FONTINA: A kind of pale yellow Italian cheese.

Fontina is the most important cheese in the Aosta Valley.

Reminds me of something, though.

So much cheese! Cold was fine, but it was even better when I heated it up.

INFIX: Implant or insert firmly in something.

Today’s summary

Letters: THILMNO
Final score: 26 words for 89 points.
Genius minimum: 88 points.
First word: MONOLITH.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-19-21 final

It’s Wednesday today, but it feels like Monday. After two additional days of weekend, it will be weird for this upcoming weekend to come so soon! Usually on Thursdays, Calah asks me what we’re having for Shabbat dinner Friday night. About then, I swear loudly because it’s yet another week I haven’t made one of the two chuck eye roasts in the freezer. “I should have started one yesterday,” I lament on the regular. Well, a little after 6 this morning, I started the chuck eye roast. It’s sealed in a bag with garlic powder, thyme, sage, paprika, and black pepper. The bag is in a Coleman cooler, and the Anova sous vide immersion cooker is set to 134 degrees. It will be ready by Friday afternoon.

Oh, man. I have the Channel 5 news on in the background, and they just mentioned the wind that’s coming up. It’s good that I’m done with the major sanding for the woodworking projects!

Here’s what there is to look forward to:

Why don’t you go fly a kite?


Meatier Misses

CAUL: The amniotic membrane enclosing a fetus.
ORACULAR: Relating to an oracle. I didn’t see that one coming!

Today’s summary

Letters: IAFNOTX
Final score: 25 words for 142 points.
Genius minimum: 140 points.
First word: ATTAINT.
Last word: TAXATION.
Pangram: FIXATION.

NYT Spelling Bee 5-18-21 final

Well the holiday of Shavuot is now over. I’m relieved because I can get back to doing stuff again. It was a good holiday. But back to the grind.

This is a short post, but I’ve posted a lot of content that you should check out while I recharge for new posts starting tomorrow! Yay!

Meatier Misses

I didn’t play yesterday, so nothing doing here.

Today’s summary

Letters: ACJLORU
Final score: 22 words for 100 points.
Genius minimum: 99 points.
First word: RURAL.
Pangram: JOCULAR.

Upholstery: Calah made cushions! And wrote about them! (Part 2)

Last week I talked about HOW the idea came about to make cushions for the top panel of the chairs that Matt brought back to life.

Now I need to show you exactly how I tried to do that.

Step 2: Making the actual cushion.

FYI, that one janky edge over in the top left-hand corner was all me.
But, have no fear, it won’t matter once they’re covered.

Matt cut the actual foam with a Turkey-carving-knife-tool according to my measurements with the added 0.50″. You’ll see one of two cut foams in the picture above.

Now I’m thinking, great! I have the foam…now I just need to cover them and… BAM! Cushion made! It’s that easy, right? So, I went about cutting, sewing, and stitching a cover to wrap them: in the front with the fancy fabric, and around the back with the secondary fabric. See below:

This is my machine. I have had it since I was a little girl. My mom and I used to go to the art and craft expos and bask in the DIY glow. One year, while walking around the vendor tents, mom and I decided that we wanted to learn how to sew. So, mom bought this machine and we signed up for sewing classes at Michaels (or Jo-Anne Fabrics(?)–it’s been so long). Since then, we have made pillows, skirts, pajamas, curtains and more. We used to go to the annual bird expo too… but that’s for another time. At one point in my childhood, we had over 50 birds.

Ok enough chit chat. Here is how I went about making the cushions:

Foam, fabric, and template! Lesssgooooo
Traced the shape of my cushion onto the fancy fabric. (This is with the template that is 0.5″ smaller which will compress the foam and fill out my soon-to-be cushion cover nicely.)
I cut the fancy fabric to shape in order to wrap around the foam. That arrow there is to remind me which way is up (remember that the top edge of the panel is longer than the bottom edge).
A perfect fit (I hope)

This is the secondary fabric that will be up against the panel and hopefully not too visible once the cushion is attached. In this picture, I’m just making sure that I have enough fancy fabric to reach the secondary fabric. I probably should have done that before I went and cut up the fancy fabric… but it looks like I have enough! *high five*

Check out that gorgeous corner! I sewed the cover inside out so that my seams were nicely tucked inside the cushion. All of the seams were 0.25″.

I mean… can we just take a moment and look at that seam!!!

Me: Calah, you did good.
Also me: I know right?!

This is the fancy fabric cover inside out after I finished sewing the corners down. 1 of 2.
And now this is the fancy fabric cover, right side out.
If it fits, I can hopefully sits.
Oh boy! It’s looking like I’m really going places now!

I turned the cushion over to see if I was on the right track. It’s a bit baggy, but that should resolve once I sew on the secondary fabric because the fancy fabric will be pulled taut against the foam.

Checkpoint: So you can see that the fancy fabric was measured, cut, and sewn into shape to wrap around the foam. I intentionally left extra material on the fancy fabric’s edges JUST IN CASE. It’s always good to have some wiggle room.

The next part was to add the secondary fabric to the back part of the cushion. It was at this point where I needed to make a decision: Do I, essentially, sew the foam into this fabric cover or do I do something else that is different and likely nicer looking but a method that I also wasn’t sure would work?

So I got to work sewing the foam into the fabric cover like so:

Also, pins are sharp. Be careful.

The secondary fabric is pinned into place and ready to sew!

Check out that lovely seam.

Same seam but right-side out. GORGEOUS
Ok, this is looking good…

Now I am at the step where I needed to actually close the cover and encase the foam. My brain told me to go like this: sew the top and bottom edges (parallel seams) so that I could then gracefully shove the foam into the cover from the smallest possible hole. Make sense, right? I thought so, too.

Parallel seams done. The two ends are still open.

Lesson learned in this step: Pins are sharp.

I went ahead and did the same thing for the second cushion. Now that I had both covers, I just needed to get the foam into them and secure the finished cushion to the chair.

More on that next week.

NYT Crossword 5-17-21 Complete

There will be no Spelling Bee post today due to the holiday of Shavuot. However, the NYT Crossword comes out on weekends in the afternoon, and the holiday started Sunday in the evening, so I get to post about that. I haven’t posted a New York Times Crossword blog in a while, though I’ve been doing the Monday one consistently. My streak now stands at 57.

I pulled out 36A Break into with intent to steal: BURGLE because a long time ago, my dad got me a book called A Burglar’s Guide to the City. It’s an interesting read that goes into some history as well as some law. I haven’t yet finished it.

The long answers were pretty simple today.

16A Alternative to Zumba: (JA)ZZERCISE. I guessed on this, and it turned out to be right.
29A Where to order a Blizzard: (DA)IRYQUEEN. I remember seeing DQ at the mall, but I haven’t gone to a food court in years
44A Supposed means of communication with the dead: (OUI)JABOARD.

60A Biggest city in South Dakota: (SI)OUXFALLS. I had a history teacher in high school who used to use as an example of things nobody cared about: “That’s like saying, ‘I have the tallest building in Sioux Falls, Iowa.'” But Sioux Falls is in South Dakota. Sioux City is in Iowa. This seemed not to matter.

Finished this one in 6:19.