Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The first puzzle of 2015.

It's hard to choose a first puzzle of the year.  I have so many that I have picked up over the past year, and so many more that I have not played with.

This past weekend has found me cleaning out all of bugs childhood toys and games, and playing many many more with her.  We've taken on a new set of games.  Big kid games.  But I still can't get the kid to puzzle with me.  She's just not like her mom in that respect.

I've spent the last 3 hours catching up on blog posts that I haven't read over the past 4 or 5 months.  My god you boys do write!  And I adore you all for it.  Thank you for keeping a girl from death by boredom tonight.

So my puzzle?  Hinged cube.  I was given this as a gift from a very dear man, and have subsequently decided to make some for my friends.  I have this boys and toys coming up and I want to bring along a little something for my friends.  The object of it is to form a cube our of the 8 pieces.  I'm sure the boys will make short work of it.  They are much better at solving puzzles than I am.

Many moons ago Mr. Fok had produced a bunch of small cubes that he handed out like candy to us puzzlers.  Most used them to make soma cubes, or easy burrs. Me?  I tossed them in a bag and didn't look at them again until I was given the hinge cube.  I decided that these would work perfectly with a bit of electricians tape and an exacto knife.  5 hours later and I have puzzles to hand out to the boys.  Simple, not well made, but a token.

Why?  Well, I've a trip to GZ for work (what else) and my puzzle friend from Germany is coming over for the fair.  We decided to have a boys and toys in his honor and what the heck, the guys often give me gifts-it's my turn.  (Ok, so I bring them toys every now and again when I travel and they get puzzles when I come back from IPP but....)

So I set up an assembly line as can be seen above. 8 cubes, a bunch of electricians tape and 10 minutes later we have a puzzle.  5 hours later, we have 30 puzzles.

 Now I know this puzzle design was patented in 2013, but I used electricians tape, not hinges, and I've no intention of selling it, and I don't expect any of these puzzles to make it past the night I give them out, and while the patent shows some hinged puzzles, there are many more it doesn't show so while I'm no patent expert, I wonder about the validity.... Anyway, as I said I'm not selling them and they are truly disposable puzzles.  After about 10 twists, they will fall to bits in the boys hands.  But hey, it's the thought that counts, and who knows....maybe they will come up with a better design, or better yet, a new puzzle!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Yet another year in the life of a puzzler

I usually end the year with a silly poem or song over on Twisty puzzles, but this has been one heck of a year for me.  It's been full of ups and downs and I simply haven't had the heart to write anything these past few months.  But I have finally come out of my slump and will endeavor to sum up my puzzling year in one nice long post.

January started off with the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair as always.  This year I not only went to the fair, but I was also pleased to host Hendrik Haak when he came for a sourcing trip.  I'm not sure how that happened, but I am pleased that it did.  I got to see my city through his eyes, and managed to cement a friendship.

February saw me traveling for work and little by way of puzzles.  I did go to a HK puzzlers dinner in honor of our friend Otis being in town for the Chinese New Year.  He did me the honor of letting me reprint his post for my blog.

March was brought in with another couple of small puzzle parties held in HK.  But the highlight of the month was my completion of my Berrocal Mini's, the purchase of Alexandre, and Many More Horses.  It was a wonderful month for me.  Expensive too!!

April was a month filled with work getting ready for the next two months of work and puzzle heaven!  I purchased no new puzzles that month, I don't even think I played with any.  I was saddened beyond belief when my best friend and long-time partner passed away.  Puzzling was not a priority.

May was a bitter sweet month.  I was still recovering from the loss of Mr. Brett, but had a series of puzzle parties set up that I was to attend.   I started the month with a few days in Northern Germany with a good friend and then moved on to Helsinki for the Finnish Puzzle party.  I was then pleased to have a few days with Tomas Linden and his family before heading off to see my professor.  Of course I picked up more puzzles than I should have, but then I've never been very smart when it comes to buying toys.  From Finland I headed across the water to Warwick for a conference and very kindly, Allard and Gil Walker put me up and even had a small party for me.

The first of June I flew off to Amsterdam for yet another conference, but first I had to get in a bit of puzzling.  I managed to get in a day with Nanco, a visit to Recent Toys and a rather enjoyable evening with Maarten Bos, all while managing to work!

From Amsterdam I headed south and spent a few days with Oskar and José.   Another set of wonderful hosts.  I was then placed upon a train and made my way back to Amsterdam for yet more meetings before being picked up by Hendrik for yet another trip south.  This time we went to Wil's house and then to visit with Geert.   During the trip, I even saw my first ever football match!  What fun!  

Between the work and the puzzle parties, I really must say a big thank you to all my friends that I saw during May and June.  Without you all, I would have never managed to deal with the grief I felt upon Mr. Brett's passing.  You all helped ease my pain with much laughter, and yes, I'll admit it-a bit too much alcohol.  I'm afraid I drown my sorrows a bit too often that month.  My sincere apologies to one and all if I was out of line.

Surprisingly, July was a real non-event.  Upon returning home from my month long European trip, I had work to do, and of course IPP to get ready for.

August was of course highlighted by my IPP trip.  This year there was an MPP thrown into the mix, and a visit to James Dalgety's.  I also took great pleasure in joining a top secret puzzle hunt set up by Steve Miller.  (Go check out his newest project!)  The end of the month saw Louis and Sue Puzzleman visiting HK and a nice time was had by all.

September was back to the grind and an attempt to video record my IPP puzzles.  I managed 1/2. Bad bad Rox.

In October we had the annual Guangzhou Boys and Toys.  This year though was extra special because DaYan, Smaz, and I all went to Nanjing for my other brothers wedding!  This was followed closely by my first ever Dutch Cube Day!  I hope it won't be my last.  I also had great fun working a different kind of toys fair with Hendrik and meeting fellow Twisty Puzzle moderator Konrad.

Upon my return in November, there was yet another boys and toys in Guangzhou.  After which Ron and Hanneke came to spend a few days in Hong Kong.

December?  Well, it was Christmas and all.  We took a holiday to Thailand, I worked, I moped around.  I did nothing.  Ok, I got my Karakuri Christmas presents, but have yet to play with them.  Ah yes, and my darling bug did buy me a few wire disentanglements for Christmas.....

And now it's January again and in one short week the toys fair will begin.  I sadly have to work insane hours this semester (18 per week!) so I'll only be attending for a few hours each day.  But this year should be fun again as I've got boys coming in!  Three months in 2014 with no puzzle events, no new toys purchased...I'll have to do better in 2015.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

A couple of Dutch cubers

After returning from my last trip to Europe I was invited to GZ for a night of puzzle competition and yet another dinner.  This time I brought Mr. Man along with me for the ride.  We left Saturday morning and met Smaz in Shenzhen and took the train up to GZ.

What was the occasion? Ron van Brucham and Hanneke Rijks were visiting from Holland.  They were in Japan for a speed cubing competition and had contacted Ming to see if there was a competition being held in China at that time. Ming being Ming immediately set up a competition.

We arrived and went to Mr. Fok's warehouse and waited for Ming and co. to come over.  From there we headed to his new warehouse and had a long play with a few puzzles, good chat, and even better company.

We headed back to the old warehouse to pick up Uwe so we could have dinner and more chat.  Another boys and toys....You know the drill.  Food, puzzles, drink....

When dinner was over we all headed to our hotel and had a good sleep.  The next morning Mr. Man, Smaz, and I went shopping.  We had lunch and dinner with another puzzler and headed back to HK.  A very short in and out trip but well worth it.  Another friend made.

Jump ahead a day and Ron and Hanneke showed up in HK.  As always, I was willing to play tour guide and we got together for a walk around some art gallerys and such.  I had a dinner arraigned for them and the HK puzzlers showed up.

The next day I planned a trip to the Hanayama offices and of course we walked away with a few toys and another nice afternoon was spent with Kyoo.  That is always a pleasure.

As usual we had a nice evening and at the end I walked them back to their hotel.  Chung King Mansions!  My first time to step into this place.  I'm afraid all the stories I've heard scared me off.  the next day we met and I took them off to the airport.  As always, it was great fun having visitors.  And even better making new friends.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dutch Cube Day

For as long as I can remember I've always wanted to attend a Dutch Cube day.  As luck would have it, this year I was invited to give a few talks in Europe with an open ended date.  Since it was totally up to me, I checked the academic calendar and discovered that I could manage to attend DCD!  I headed straight into my bosses office, got leave granted and booked my flights!

I immediately contacted the organizers and a few close puzzle friends to set up a meet and such...
I flew into Amsterdam, dropped off my bags, ran to talk and then headed back to the hotel.  I'm such a lucky girl because my puzzle friend Hendrik was going to DCD as well so he took a detour and picked me up to drive down together.  

We drove down and checked into our hotel then headed back out for an afternoon of puzzling at Rob Hegge's.  When we arrived, I saw many familiar faces. Wil, Rob, Allard, Chris...More that I have forgotten over the past month of work and more work (I really should post these right away.  My memory isn't quite what it used to be.)   Rob has got a fantastic setup for his puzzles.  Well, his house is a lot bigger than mine and he doesn't have Mr. Man telling him to leave the puzzles in the bedroom.  Puzzle after puzzle I photographed.  I had a play with a few, but as always I' afraid to play with anyone else's puzzles just in case I can't get them back together again.  I managed to solve just a couple of puzzles which is very good for me.  I'm really not a solver.

From there we went to Rik's house for pizza and more puzzling.  Again, he's got a great room for his puzzles and I tool loads of photos of them.  His shelves though interested me the most.  He has this movable wall with loads of shelf space that can be adjusted to the height of the puzzles that are put inside them.  We all stayed around for a few hours, but with DCD looming, we had to head back to our respective hotels and sleep before the morning.  

Rox though is ever the party girl and had one last beer with Hendrik and Maarten before turning in.

The next morning I was woken early and we headed over to the venue for DCD.  As I was along for the ride, I was enlisted to help run Hendrik's table.  But that didn't stop me from being Rox.  I walked in and started giving hugs to all that I hadn't already hugged.  

The big thrill for me was to finally meet the infamous Tony Fisher.  He was sitting across from Hendrik so I got to spend a bit of time chatting with him.  Of course, he got the hugs and a few kisses from me too.  I got to meet Olivér Nagy as well.

The morning began with setting up the table and then I left Hendrik and made a run around the room.  I made a few purchases, but not many. It seems the longer I collect these things, the less I find that I don't have, or really desire.  I did find a few puzzles that I've been hunting for a while and picked them up without hesitation.  I finally managed to find a Bandelow's Magic Jewel and an Oki diamond keychain.  

I went back and ran the table so Hendrik could go spend some of his hard earned cash and while I did who came over but fellow puzzler Katten Vriendin.  We had been chatting online for quite some time and it was a real treat to finally meet her.  

After having contacted the organizers and inviting myself along, I was asked to give a little talk about puzzling in Hong Kong.  I had given one in Finland the previous spring and didn't want to repeat that, and Otis had given another at IPP.  Me?  I ended up talking about what else? BOYS AND TOYS!  For being the person who traveled the farthest to attend DCD I was given a nice Belgium beer which Hendrik and I shared later that night.  It really was good!  But the best thing for me was the gift of Oskar's Key that I had been looking for.  Wil found it and I purchased it from him.  That silly man kept teasing me about it being in his hotel room and you can only imagine my surprise when it was given to me as a gift.  Thank you Wil and others!

I pulled my usual take off David and hand it to some random puzzler.  This time it was Louis.  That guy is a puzzle king!  He had it back together in minutes.  I also brought Alexandre along and bless that man, he reassembled him.  Yes I know.  It's my puzzle, I should be able to do it myself, but well, I put him in a box and forgot about it.  I knew I'd find someone who could do it.

The day continued with me flipping between talking to people and selling puzzles for Hendrik.  At the end of the day we packed up the van and headed over to a local restaurant for dinner with Oskar, José, Splinter, Louis, TomZ and Hendrik.  Louis managed to get me to let him take apart Oskar's ring and ended up keeping it for a few more days before sending it back to me through the post.

From there I was headed to Munich for more work and a bit more puzzling and to help Hendrik at the games fair.  But first we made a stop in Zwijndrecht to visit my friend Gino and his family.  Hendrik seemed to like Benz quite a bit. Or maybe Benz liked Hendrik.  I'm not quite sure which it was. It's always great to see my boy.  Next time I'll have to stay longer but even a short visit with friends is better than nothing.  Poor Hendrik tolerating me again!

After we got to Munich, Hendrik told me he had never seen any of the city so we spent the day wandering around the central area and looking at the sights.  As we were wandering around, we discovered a new 2x2x2 puzzle and bought out the store.  I think he has a few for sale on his webpage.  That night we had dinner with Konrad and had a fantastic dinner along with a lot of puzzling.  I have now managed to meet all the TP moderators and had a great time with him.  I'm very glad he took the time to drive up to see us.  

I had a great time working the Munich fair with Hendrik, although I'm sure he didn't always enjoy my company. I helped out a bit, but probably lost him sales because of my bad (read non-existent) German.  After the fair was over he told me it took him longer to set up the booth with my help than it did when he did it alone.  The fair was very different from the toys fairs here in HK.  People sat around and played games and bought the ones they liked.  That would never go down here.  

All in all it was a great puzzle/work week.  I'm yet again thrilled that I have such good puzzling friends who not only put up with me, but also embrace my little bit of crazy and still love me.  I sincerely hope I manage to make it to another DCD in the future.  I owe a big thank you to all who made it yet another special trip for me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

OCTOBER Boys and Toys

Chinese National Day.  We all know what that means.  Another annual boys and toys!
This year was extra special because it was the 10th anniversary of the Mf8 forum as well.

This trip was a bit of a hoot going up for me.  I had arraigned to meet Uwe in Shenzhen and head up with him for the night of the dinner and for a bit of tie at the competition.  We had planned to take the train, but both of us forgot it was that it was a major national holiday.  There were no train tickets to be found. We got on a bus instead!  EEK!  That was a 3 hour ride.  But hey, any time I get to spend with Uwe is time well spent.

We finally arrived and headed straight to the competition venue.  Uwe and I of course gave away a few prizes then headed over for the dinner.  The usual suspects were there along with a few from Beijing.  Two cakes were ordered to celebrate with and all the attendees got an anniversary shirt and a PINK puzzle.  Dinner lasted 3 hours or so as usual and then we headed out for karaoke.  The standard boys and toys.  Food, friends, and beer.

Ready to fly
The weekend didn't end there.  DaYan, Smaz and I headed out the next morning for Nan Jing.  My other brother Tom didn't arrive in GZ for this boys and toys.  Why?  He was getting married!  A two hour flight up and we were picked up by Tom.  We checked into the hotel and then headed out to dinner with some of Tom's friends.

Tom and his bride
The following day was the wedding and I have to say, I've never seen my boy look so good.  His wife is a pretty thing too with a wonderful wonderful heart.  I'm so glad they invited me along for the wedding.  The dinner of course was full of drinking and more food.  I held my own and slammed shot for shot with the big boys.
My brothers
 We ended up going to a fortune teller after the dinner and spent quite a lot of time next to a mountain that we didn't walk up.
Dinner was at Tom's house where we were joined by his family and friends followed of course by lots more drinking.  (see a pattern here?)

The next day we went for a hike up the mountain with Tom and his new bride.  There was a wonderful view of the city below.  I realized yet again how beautiful parts of China can be.  We had a nice leisurely lunch before heading back to the airport to return to our home cities.  This was a brilliant change to the normal boys and toys.  Not as much drinking-well, not as many sessions I guess.

When I returned to Hong Kong, the next day I met up with Yuan, Otis, and her boyfriend.  We wandered around the puzzle shops for a bit and thanks to Otis' keen eyes, we found a new shop to head out to.  All of us bought new toys and as always, ended up at my flat for that photo.

Dinner that night saw us in Shum Shui Po at our favorite place.  We puzzled the night away and just had a fantastic time.  Kyoo brought along the prototype for the new Hanayama puzzle and I brought a number from the most recent IPP.  Even Mr. Man joined us for a bit of puzzle play.  As always, this was another very successful puzzling weekend.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A visit from some Kiwi's

Long overdue posts are coming.  'Tis the silly season which means lots of time out of the office.  Over the next few weeks I hope to catch up with my puzzling adventures.  I'm hopeful.

After IPP finished, I had the great pleasure of having Louis Puzzleman and his wife Sue visit us.
Because of the size of our home, they of course did not stay with us, but they did visit the flat, and we met up in town as is normal for HK people.

As I was stuck working that day and couldn't get out of it, I shamefully let Louis and Sue make their own way to their hotel. As soon as I finished I went over to meet them and we wandered around the area before meeting up with Saul for dinner and a few drinks.  I took them to TST so we could see the avenue of the stars and the lights.  I Louis was so happy he gave e a big old kiss for taking them around.  (Have no fear, Sue took the photo!)

The next day was an around town puzzle hunting trip. Sue and bug went off to look at girly things while I took Louis to the man street and one of my puzzle haunts.  We found a few nice pieces of silver that I have since turned into necklaces.   In the middle of the afternoon, we headed over towards my house for the obligatory photo by my wall of shame.  But first a stop for dim sum. Louis played for about 4 hours and bug showed Sue how to play with loom bands.  Later she took a nice nap on the sofa.  I can't blame her, I kept them running all day and in the Hong Kong heat, a nap was well deserved.  Yet again, Louis had to teach me how to open the Yot I and II.  I've had these for years, I think I bought the from him years ago and have never really 'learned' how to open them.  He took a gander at my Berrocals and I did the usual disassembly of one.

The next night they were in town we went back to the water front and also went over to the Temple street market.  Louis got one heck of a deal on a set of puzzle locks.  I told him if he didn't purchase them I would.

I've been there many ties over the years and that's the first tine I saw a deal like that.  Mind, I'm sure Sue having fits and walking away helped get the price down quite a bit.

The next day saw us out going for a hike.  We had planned to ride the cable car but because of weather warnings it was closed down and that was a bust.  Instead, we walked over the hill and ended up in a fishing village.  Had a very nice lunch over there and a wet walk back to the cable car offices where we had stored the luggage.
The last stop of the day?  Hong Kong egg tarts.  A must for anyone coming into town.

I took them to the airport and gave a long hug goodbye.  But as always, I know I'll see my friends again in a year or two at another puzzle party.

Sorry for the long delay between postings, but as always, work and study come first....

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Day 10 and 11. Leaving time.

Today was the hop on hop off bus tour.  I had enough.  I'll admit it, I was tired.  I wanted sleep.  I opted instead to stay in and nap, swim, and puzzle.

Sorry guys nothing to see here.

No, It was the last night and Rox wouldn't be Rox if she didn't puzzle on the last evening.  I met with Ken, Bob, George, Mark,  and Goetz.  We puzzled a bit and talked a lot more.

Early flights for some meant an early night.

The next morning it was a sorrowful goodbye to my friends and an afternoon of waiting around the lobby having a beer or two  and a bit of puzzling while waiting for the flight.  

For more on IPP please see Otis' posts over on Mf8. 

A big thanks to Ken Irvine for helping me get to my flight.  Those suitcases were heavy.  Next year I ship!

And thus ends another boys and toys.