Monthly Archives: August 2021

NYT Spelling Bee 8-27-21 final

It’s nice to be back to the Spelling Bee–especially when the genius minimum is not 278 points. Today has been hot and humid in LA, which isn’t the most pleasant of weather. Certainly not the worst, though.

Yesterday I missed AUNT, AUTO, NUNHOOD, THOU, and UDON.

Meatier Misses

UNHAT: To take off your hat to show respect.
UNHOOD: To remove a hood from, esp. a falcon.


The Purpose of Falconry Hoods

The purpose of the falconry hood is to control the moments a trainer and bird of prey interact so that the bird recognizes the trainer’s role in positive and neutral moments and minimizes negative stimuli. This means that the amount of time the bird is hooded is not a constant and can fluctuate in response to the trainer’s growing reinforcement value. Because birds of prey don’t have many social reinforcers and the relationship does rely largely on reinforcers such as food, the trainer can avoid filling up the raptor’s crop by transporting it with a hood, thus removing the need to deliver food for staying on the glove and not try to fly off, either in response to a scary stimulus or in anticipation of its next opportunity.

A falconry hood can be a critical tool in preventing problems because it can be so hard, if not impossible, to train a raptor to be calm in all circumstances. This means when unpredictably scary stimuli arise and we have a raptor with us, it can associate us with the fearful situation, whether we choose to restrain it on the glove or it flies off, leaving us in a lose-lose scenario. In the case where we do have food that we can use to counter condition the bird of prey to stressful stimuli, we are limited by the raptor’s appetite, and if it is fully flighted and able to fly, there is a good chance we can overfill it and lead to a situation where it loses the motivation to stay on the glove as well. The same can also be said for changing and unpredictable circumstances when we can no longer rely on food motivation to help us work the bird through in a calm manner.

Same place.

Today’s summary

Letters: YAGHMNO
Final score: 19 words for 93 points.
Genius minimum: 93 points.
First word: HAMMY.
Last word: MAYO.

NYT Crossword Puzzle 8-27-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

I pulled out 16A Greek goddess who could turn water into wine: OENO because the word just means wine. Apparently Oeno was one of three daughters of Anius know was the Oenoetropae. Etymology: oeno (wine) tropae (turning). I really had hoped that story would be better, but I found it to be disappointing.

No theme for Friday, but the long answers were really simple to get.

17A Stargazer’s need: CLEARSKIES. Don’t fence me in.
25A What can follow “+/-“: MARGINOFERROR. So much for teaching tolerance.
41A “As long as we’re on the subject …”: BEFOREIFORGET. Rarely have I heard this used when something is on topic. Usually it’s something random that will go away for forever if not mentioned right then.
53A “Hmm … really?”: OHISTHATSO. Yes, it is.

Finished this one in 18:33.

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NYT Spelling Bee 8-26-21 final

The return of the Spelling Bee! As Nick got his first Genius level result today (congrats!), I have done my first post-wedding NYTSB.

Today’s summary

Letters: UADHNOT
Final score: 18 words for 64 points
Genius minimum: 60 points.
First word: DUNNO.
Final word: DONUT.
Pangram: HANDOUT.

NYT Crossword Puzzle 8-26-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

I pulled out 2D Kissing-related: OSCULAR because I hadn’t heard this specific word before, but I’d heard similar words. Oscilloscope comes from oscillation + scope.

oscillation (n.)

“kind of vibration in which a body swings backward and forward,” 1650s, from French oscillation and directly from Latin oscillationem (nominative oscillatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of oscillare “to swing,” from oscillum “a swing,” which usually is identified with the oscillum that meant “little face” (literally “little mouth”), a mask of open-mouthed Bacchus hung up in vineyards as a charm (the sense evolution would be via the notion of “swinging in the breeze”); from PIE *os- “mouth” (see oral). Figurative use, in reference to a swinging back and forth (in opinion, attitude, etc.) is by 1798.

The Proto-Indo-European os is the same as in oscular. From Oxford: “Late 18th century from Latin osculum ‘mouth, kiss’ (diminutive of os ‘mouth’) + -ar.”

Just like the rest of the puzzle, the theme was meh.

40A One way to run … or a hint to four geographical intersections found in this grid: CROSSCOUNTRY. Is that really a way to run? I disagree that it is.

21A It comes first in China, but second in the U.S.: SURINAME. The country SURINAME, but the idea is surname.
4D Bad start?: MALI. The country MALI, but the idea is mal. Like malapropism, which is arguably the the theme of today’s crossword.
9A “Not a chance!”: NORWAY. Like no way but with an R.
11D Title character in a classic John Cleese comedy: RWANDA. The John Cleese film is A Fish Called Wanda. Rwanda and Wanda. Lolz!
68A Media exec Robert: NIGER. Bob Iger. I thought it would be AILES, but he’s dead, so that couldn’t be right. After all, Will Shortz is a real stickler for things that are real and make sense.
58D Hippie happening: BENIN. The hippie thing was the Human Be-In.

From the official site.

The Human Be-In 1967 

On January 14, 1967, the “Human Be-In” was held in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California. This so-called “Gathering of the Tribes” drew more than 20,000 people and came to symbolize the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The Be-In was also a symbol of the growing youth movement. The organizers of the event wanted to bring together people to get involved in what they believed to be disparate movements in the community. They wanted groups from all distinct parts of the community to get more familiar with each other and to see they all had similar mindsets when it came to activism in the community. The counterculture that surfaced at the “Human Be-In” encouraged people to “question authority”.


72A First airline to complete a round-the-world flight: PANAMA. Pan-Am had its first flight around the world in 1947!

Early in 1947 Pan Am was lobbying in Congress to become the focal core of a
new exclusive unified airline (Community Company) representing the American Flag
round-the-world. Opponents of the Congressional Bill printed a booklet, “The New
Monopoly Aviation Bill” stating that the formation of the “Community Company”
would eliminate transportation competition and be alien to our nation’s foreign
policy. It was stated that the real competition in international air transportation
was not between US air carriers but between nations. The US could not regulate
that competition, the US could only meet it. International transportation under
the American flag stood at a crossroads. Congress defeated the formation of the
Community Company. The concept of an exclusive unified airline was dead to
everyone except Juan Trippe of Pan American Airlines.

Trippe now considered merging Pan American with TWA or American Airlines.
Such a merger would give him US domestic routes in addition to his established
international air route superiority. Discussions with Howard Hughes of TWA produced
no results. Discussions with Cyrus Rowlett Smith of American Airlines yielded
international route additions but Pan Am’s petition for US domestic routing

Trippe put much effort in lobbying his causes with influential friends and
associates. To this end, he arranged a gala ceremonial journey round-the-world on
one of Pan Am’s newly acquired Lockheed Constellations, the “Clipper America.”
This Press Flight would depart New York on June 17, 1947, nine days before the
formal inauguration of Pan Am’s (FAM-14/18) round-the-world flight service via
Calcutta, India.


57D Grab by pinching, as an ice cube: TONGA. Tongs. Ice tongs. Or just scoop it with your hands like a normal human being amirite?

Finished this one in 27:49.

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NYT Crossword Puzzle 8-25-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

I pulled out 4D Gilead in “The Handmaid’s Tale,” for one: DYSTOPIA because whenever I hear that word, I think of Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia. I imagine that others in my board game night group also have thought about that game upon solving this clue. It’s a game that we’ve not yet played together, despite my repeated (albeit half-hearted) attempts to convince the group to play and threats(?) that the game is in the car, even though the game hasn’t left my home in years. Recently Calah and I played Balance of Power, a two-player game that is simple and exciting!

Someone’s selling one on eBay!

Theme of Puns!

17A “Please continue your generous support of the church”: MASSAPPEAL. I am sad to miss the appeal during the High Holidays this year. Usually the speech that goes along with it is worth listening to.
27A “This device makes prepping cherries a breeze”: PITTERPATTER. Let’s get at ‘er.
44A “Students should report to the gym for a special presentation”: ASSEMBLYLINE.
58A “This medicine will reduce your temperature in no time”: FEVERPITCH. Not really pitching a fever, though. Really forcing it with this clue.

Finished this one in 10:06.

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NYT Crossword Puzzle 8-24-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

I pulled out 6A Wry reply to “How’d you do that?”: MAGIC because it’s a thing I say to Calah all the time. Or I say that I’ve got the magic touch. The difference is that that frequently is the case. At her mother’s wedding Sunday night I pulled my keys, sunglasses, and wallet out of the cloth napkin that had been on the table. Magic!


17A *Miniaturized reference: POCKETATLAS.
60A *Iconic photograph taken by Voyager 1 at the request of Carl Sagan: PALEBLUEDOT. Really, I didn’t expect to be as awed by the photo as I am.

We’re in the rightmost band a little more than halfway down the image. (JPL/NASA)

And then there’s a new one!

Pale Blue Dot Revisited

23D *Facility where things are always looking up?: PLANETARIUM, a word I have difficulty reading with the T pronounced.

11D *Computer program that blurs out military installations: GOOGLEEARTH.

32A With 39- and 44-Across, promise that Aladdin sings to Jasmine (and a hint to the answers to the starred clues): ICANSHOW YOU THEWORLD.

Finished this one in 10:25, mostly on my phone.

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Woodworking: Step-Up End Table Pair Project (Part 8)

Last week I’d finally gotten the always-challenging Table 2 at about the same level as I had gotten Table 1: The split was patched, and everything was sanded.

The issue of the knob design element remained.

I worked and worked sanding the knob design to remove all the old finish.

I tried to avoid flat spots, and i used my vise this time instead of going freehand.

I had long done this with Table 1, but I still didn’t like the knob design elements and was considering cutting them off altogether.

So after hours and hours and hours of sanding by hand and using a dremel, I’d actually reduced the size of the knobs to something that looked uneven and goofy. My decision was made for me.

But how to cut them? I didn’t have a table saw.

Jigsaw! It worked with the chair seats. It should work with this.

And after the scoring, there was no going back.

Slow and steady for the cuts, and they weren’t looking so bad!

A little rough and a little curved, but overall, pretty happy.

The roughness of the edge and slight difference in height should be easily rectified by sanding.

By the time I’d done this, Table 1 had been long completed, but at some point I’ll make that one match.

Finishing starts next week.

NYT Crossword Puzzle 8-23-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

Last night I missed my first day in over two months. It was my mother-in-law’s wedding, and we got back close to midnight. The streak was going to end soon anyway because the Jewish holidays come in two-day blocks, but it ended a couple weeks earlier than I’d thought it would.

I pulled out 43A Ave. crossers: STS because I think it’s a bad clue. Streets aren’t always avenue crossers. A better clue would have been Fmr. NASA program.

Theme time!

18A “Siskel & Ebert & the Movies” catchphrase: TWOTHUMBSUP. RIP Gene Siskel. I hadn’t realized he was only 53.
25A “Seinfeld” catchphrase: NOSOUPFORYOU. Am I the only one who isn’t a fan of the soup nazi? I never cared for the character.
39A “Columbo” catchphrase: JUSTONEMORETHING. Peter Falk was amazing. Until recently I didn’t realize that he was the grandpa in The Princess Bride.

49A “The Jackie Gleason Show” catchphrase: HOWSWEETITIS. I have never watched the show.
61A “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” catchphrase: FINALANSWER. Better: “He’s won a million dollas!” RIP Regis.

Finished this one in 7:27.

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NYT Crossword Puzzle 8-21-21 Complete (contains spoilers)

I pulled out 15A Auto parts giant: OREILLY because I had been assigned to an inventory observation at an O’Reilly Auto Parts store almost a decade ago. During my time as an auditor, I don’t even know how many inventory observations I did. But it was a lot. For some reason–and I don’t recall why this was–someone else was assigned the inventory observation instead. I didn’t complain. I did try to take a Christmas inventory observation from someone, but the scheduler didn’t allow my coworker to trade it away. I don’t understand the move, but OK. So my coworker had to work on Christmas and be away from her family, and I ended up with a New Year’s Eve and a New Year’s Day (7am!) inventory observation. New Year’s Eve was in like Oxnard, and the New Year’s Day was in Palos Verdes. I left the NYE party at like 10:30pm so I didn’t oversleep. Glad those days are behind me.

There was no theme today, and based on how I was doing early, I really thought that many letters shared a square. Clearly that wasn’t the case.

I was happy that I got long answers very quickly. Sort answers were harder.

19A Short spiel: ELEVATORPITCH. These get easier the more you do the thing you’re doing.
31A Unpredictable: FULLOFSURPRISES. Like the Taliban and how they took over Afghanistan so fast. You know, except if you’ve ever played the game Risk.
46A Program that a 2011 global commission officially declared a failure, 40 years after its launch: THEWARONDRUGS. Hooray for more bad policy.
3D What sunlight and wind provide: RENEWABLEENERGY. Though I had thought it had something to do with plants. Also Calah is has been having a lot of fun with succulents. Here’s to hoping she’ll share with us in blog posts every so often.
12D “Ahhhh!”: THATSTHESPOT. It really is.

Finished this one in 29:22.

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