Notes from Puzzle Palace

Monday, August 27, 2012

Off again

It seems this year I have spent more time preparing to leave work and talking than I spent working. But then to do that I have to work. Or do I? Not much of a puzzle, but a but of a think to start off this blog post.

I've not quite blown it this time. I met a fellow puzzler at IPP and will contact him shortly to see if we could meet up somewhere during my time there. I've mapped out a boatload of shops that sell puzzles-who knew there would be so many. But even better, I've packed a bag full of puzzles for the plane. (see photo at the bottom of the post).

Initially I had planned to bring a different bunch but as the week went by I managed to solve quite a few in my bag so a swap had to be made. My criteria for travel puzzles this time are that they be small(ish) and light weight. They have to also be able to fit in my puzzle bag. I guess it must be around one foot square so expand that and you have the capacity.

My twisty friends aren't going to be overjoyed with me this time around. I put none in the bag. (I know you are all as shocked by that as I am). I was very disappointed at IPP this year. I was hoping to find a few more twisted on sale that I didn't have but sadly all I saw was the quarter turn cube. Oh there were more but I already had them all. The joy of living in Hong Kong! I can add the puzzle of finishing the research on the flight. I love my research partner-have done for almost 20 years-but it's times like these that I'd like to kill him! I now need to manually do ANOVA in flight to finish the presentation or wait until we land-which we all know is not my style...

In addition to these I packed the oil well and the Washington Monument-both by Brian Young in my bag for the return trip. There is also the bead puzzle by Diniar in there so I've a good variety for the return home.

I'm nothing if not optimistic. Here's hoping I solve at least one. In the mean time, someone point me to the bar please!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back at work and a miserable homecoming

Well the title says it all. I'm working full speed ahead yet again and had a rotten homecoming.

Guess who stepped on something sharp and slimy at her work retreat and then needed to get a tetanus booster again. But hey, would I let that stop me? Nope. Not even the nasty flu bug I've picked up will slow me down. I've managed to cough my way through 79 of the 80 exchange puzzles! You can find them all now on my YouTube channel: .

And now begins the even longer task of photographing each puzzle before find a final resting place for it. After that the real fun begins...playing!

So what am I working on right now? A couple of bolts. Nothing too hard. (so she says) These are made by Rocky Chiaro. I've lusted over his puzzles for as long as I can remember following Rob's page. I'm sitting here feeling rather foolish because I only bought two of his wonderful puzzles. I should have gotten the rest of the bolts and the keys that have grabbed onto my desire strings. Of well maybe in the future. Or maybe I should just send an email asking to place an order.

I already have a puzzle by him that was redone by bits and pieces do when I saw he was at the puzzle party I made a quick check of my finances and bought two bolts. These are really great not because of the opening (that's pretty easy I managed both in under two minutes) but in the fact that he has made each one by hand. No CNC machines here. And if that isn't impressive nothing is. If you get the chance to purchase one it's money we'll spent.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Home at last

I know everyone else took off for New York or other parts of the world on Monday. Bug and I stuck around until Wednesday evening.  Monday was a day for us to finally take in the zoo after saying good bye to my exchange partner and his dad.  I can't thank both of them enough for all they did for us.  Marc especially.  Bug had a wonderful time palling with you-she hasn't stopped talking about it.  That doesn't mean she didn't enjoy the time with all the ladies.  She thought they were soooo much cooler than mom.  It was a really great IPP.  She got her Six Flags trip in on Tuesday and Wednesday was a last minute rush to the other monuments and places we didn't see.

After we spent 14 hours in Doha we finally made the flight homeward.  What a mess that was.  At the airport I tried getting an earlier flight but they were all booked up.  So the next best thing is to check into the hotel right?  Sorry-only for first class passengers.  WHAT!!! Oh well, bug found a ball pool and we played for 7 hours of it. Me?  I puzzled.  I think my earlier post tells the one I attempted.  I then managed to get her to calm down a bit and eat something. (more frozen yogurt)

The first 5 hours of the flight were uneventful.  Smooth sailing if you will.  The only problem was the in-flight entertainment didn't work in our seats, but when you have puzzles, who needs movies?  I worked for quite some time on that Lean 2 before giving up and moving on to something a bit more my speed.  I got a set of dovetail puzzles from Eric Fuller and had a go at them.  Nice little things.  Once you work out the trick that is.  The first one solved like walking and I'll give you no more than that.  The first was solved within 1/2 an hour.  the others took me a bit longer.  But I'm glad I had them.

The last 3 hours of the flight was flying through a typhoon.  We picked up the remnants of the one that hit HK the night before as we entered Laos and it stayed with us through Vietnam. The cabin crew was wonderful though.  I asked if we were going to get hit by it and they honestly told me yes.  One of the ladies asked if I was a 'bad flyer' and when I answered and asked for more wine she gladly handed it over.  After that, I had a new glass every half hour until landing!  Wonderful crew.  I didn't feel a thing, and I also didn't solve any more puzzles.

Now begins the arduous task of videoing all I brought home and the solving of them as well. You can see videos on my YouTube channel.
Generic photos of IPP32 taken on my phone.
People of IPP photos.
Puzzles from IPP photos.
Random Photos of Washington D.C.

And don't forget to check out Brian's damned puzzle blog or Allard's Puzzling times or Neil's puzzle parts for more of the IPP action!  I'm sure eventually they will all post.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The flight home

Big and I spent the morning of our last day in DC having a lie-in. She was exhausted and I needed to pack. And that my friends is a real puzzle! How do you fit all the purchases into the suitcases? Let me tell you, it was no easy task. We had 4 cases with us. 2 large and 2 carryon. I loaded all the puzzles into the two big cases along with the clothes that we brought over. (thank heavens for travel bags or I'd have had no room) the two smaller cases got a few puzzles that wouldn't fit and our purchases of medicines and such. When all was said and done, we shipped back 174 pounds! 103 of which were the puzzle/clothes bags. Insane hey?

The afternoon saw us at Arlington visiting an old friend. It was a bit more than I could handle, but I have a strong bug and off we trotted to the Vietnam memorial and the Korean one. We went back to the hotel with a few last minute purchases on the way.

The first flight-all 13 hours of it - was uneventful. We slept!

And now as we sit in Doha with nothing much to do, bug is playing in a ball put and I'm playing with a Stewart Coffin. Have I ever mentioned that I hate him! No seriously, I do. Or his puzzles at least. That's not true either. These are the puzzles you love to hate. The one I brought with is called Lean 2 and it's quite nifty really. 4 pieces, 2 sides. Slam them in. Nothing could be easier-or could it? I've been fiddling with it on and off for the past half hour and have done diddly with it. Oh wait? Does 3 pieces count? No. Didn't think so. Ah well, I'll keep trying. Hopefully at the end of the 7 more hours I have on this layover I'll get something done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A few more photos.

Last night we had a nice dinner with a few people. Today all leave for the NY trip or other various points around the world. Bug and I are finally getting our six flags day in.

I've added a few more photos to the bottom

Rox and Dave from TP
Bug on Pavel's lap
Gangster Robert
A few puzzles I picked up

Eric, Rox, and Robert
Two shots of lobby chat
Neil, Rox, and Allard
Another lobby shot

Monday, August 13, 2012

It's all over but the packing.

Last night was the awards dinner and the end of IPP. As always, it's a sad thing to say goodbye. I'll be posting for weeks and still not be able to describe all the events.

But before I begin to do that, I want to say congratulations to All the award winners. There were some pretty amazing puzzles there. In total There were 80 toys in the competition. My favorite was 'packman'. How can you not love it.

I don't know about the rest, but I felt like something was missing at the dinner. I'm not quite sure what felt a bit empty to me.

Back up. I got some great photos for all the TP forum members who were there (why didn't we do a group shot at the TP dinner?) we got a renegade forum shot. I didn't realize that Jeff could run. Stumped Jim for a bit on a puzzle, got a bunch of new toys and friends as well.

After dinner we went out for one last cigar and I got a shot of one sexy looking gangster man.

We're off for dinner so anymore will have to wait.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dun dun dun....the Night of the Exchange

Can someone please explain to me why I get sick at these things and can never sleep? Nah, don't I already know and you don't care so I guess I'd better go back to what you do care about-puzzles!

After the exchange we went back to the hotel to dump the bags and get ready for dinner. The food was good this year open wine and soda for a while, but dessert? Not so much. but then who cares about that. We watched a slight of hand magician and magic show and then the fun really began!

This year they left the ballroom open and we played with toys! I stayed for about an hour and answered a few questions of some non-twisty type folks. Then headed downstairs for a beer in the bar with the renegades. Lots of hilarious chat and a Rubik's cube song.

Today thorough is where the real fun is. The puzzle party (sales day) if I havent enough money for food.....

Friday, August 10, 2012

Puzzle exchange

Well today was the day. As always it was a blast. 6 1/2 hours of talking about the object of toys. If I had a $$ for each time I heard someone tell me the object was easy.....

I can't wait to YouTube each and every one. I've managed to solve one thus far.
My exchange assistant solved 2 in that short time.
We are now listening to Jerry give a talk on the history of IPP. Later this evening is the banquet. In the mean time, here are the exchange puzzles.
And of course I'll later report on that!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 1

What a day. We had a nice tour around the national mall today. Saw a bunch of beautiful buildings and some amazing monuments. Spent a lot of time in the hot hot sun.

Once the tour was over we headed out to a few shops. Labyrinth was one of them. If any of you are ever in the DC area that's a nice little shop. the owner is very friendly and you get a discount with the roll of a di.

Ok so we went back to the hotel for a quick shower before dinner. The founders reception was the same as always. A bit of food, a drink or two, a lot of puzzling and talk. Being very silly I only snapped one photo. A puzzle. I promise to be so much better today with that. It's exchange time and this year I want to get a photo with each exchanger to help me remember.

I called it an early night because I have a boatload of puzzles to bag and pack up for tomorrow. More photos then., I promise.

IPP day 0

Can I call it that? Is it now day 0 finally? This year is odd for us because of two things. We checked in early AND we aren't in the official hotel.

The first because although we've Seen plenty of people, the fun rally didn't begin for me until last night. The second because it's just plain odd. Doesn't matter, all is good and were having fun.

Bug and I did our shopping and are now done. We then dragged our wheels bag to the mall for a bit of a look around. Ok a piece of advice, NEVER do that. Gravel. I'll say no more. We saw the whitehouse from the washington memorial and the WWII memorial. Since we have three trips down here we decided to call it a day and return to the hotel.

When we arrived who should come running up with a big hug but my young friend John. I saw a bunch from Renegade as well as a few more from Twisty puzzles and a whole bunch more from other places. Bug said hello to many and had fun chatting just as much as I did.

Around seven John mentioned they hadn't eaten in in over 12 hours so we headed out for a bite. As we were walking over we bumped into Andreas and Goetz so we had a bit of a party. At Chilis. The waitresses tickled me because they kept saying they wanted to play with our toys.

After dinner it was back to the lobby for a lot more chat into the late night. Watch out for some nifty new ones from Hanayama. Oscar gave bug an 'out of the box' that she mostly solved. Met A couple fellow bloggers, Allard, brand Brian. Watched my bug sleep on the sofa for about three hours before getting a second wind. I got a peak at some of the competition puzzles before calling it a night.

I slept around five hours and am ready to run again.

As another aside I'm using the blogger app so my posts will be a bit photo odd for a while.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Another day.

So this moning found is having breakfast with louis, Laurie, Ron, jan, and others. A short walk later and we were in the hotel lobby. As with every other IPP, there were people aplenty. Bug was shown a number of string tricks-think cats in the cradle-by Brett's dad and something with a cup. I Sussed out the cork screws and feel pretty clever now. Then while bug was learning tricks I handed over my phone so Wil could do some Internet thing and gave Neil and 'the other' a hug. I was grabbed by Pavel to work a new Genre of puzzle (not nearly as dull as the genre I know and love) I loved it! Played right into the word play I regularly enjoy.
We had good intentions when we woke at 7 to do our shopping and hit the zoo before friends came in, but here it is noon and we are just now leaving. Im off to do some drug shopping and then it's the zoo for us today.

Back later for registration and more puzzling the night away if I can keep awake. Jetlag sucks! Ah yes, and before I forget, these posts come to you via tiny phone keyboard so forgive the typos please.

And here are a few in the lobby


I know it's incredible that I got it coming this way. When we got in I slept almost immediately. My poor bug was ill so six flags has been put off a bit.

Today bug and another puzzler and I walked around to a puzzle shop on Pennsylvania avenue (labyrinth) then had a fantastically fun $2 metro ride with a bunch of mistaken exits. Good fun for the money. I bought a couple of toys from creative Crafthouse. I know I can get them online but this way I don't pay shipping and we all know how I hate that!

We went on to do a bit of mom and bug time. an early dinner and our plan was to drop the bags and walk over to the hotel for some talk time with puzzlers. Guess who fell asleep again? I feel so darned old right now. Well, no not old.
Exhausted. Hopefully I'll have gotten enough sleep now to survive the rest of the week.

I guess I should try to sleep again. It's 1:00 and bugs cuddled up and being cute. She says she wants more shopping and a trip to the zoo. Hopefully she's feeling well enough to do what she wants today. And I'm rested enough to do what I want. It's puzzling time!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Flying and blogging???

Well this flight has been fun. I've listened to a poor lad scream for 8 hours. The rest of the time I slept and worried about bug waking the poor old man sitting near us. But at the end of the day it doesn't matter because I AM HERE! 25 hours from home and I've landed.

The flight wasn't half bad. I had wine, I slept. Ok, I forget the screecher and all the rest. I'm here! Ok, not quite yet. I'm writing this on the plane 7 1/2 hours out of DC. Bug just chastised me for being...well, me. I'm excited. It's IPP. I mean, who wouldn't be excited. And she sits next to me asking if it's time now for ice cream. What a kid I have. And me? I've just watched 12 episodes of " Big Bang Theory". Ok. I'll admit it, I've crossed the line. I laughed-out loud. I'm no longer the cool mom who lets the kid have a sip of wine, I'm now the 'geek' who laughs at Big Bang. But who wouldn't? I mean really. Tell me its not you. bug keeps shaking her head at me, but I don't care. I realized a long time ago I crossed over to the dark side. I mean, for how long can one go on going out and painting the town red? But then why should I cry? My bug is now on the 10th episode so she has no room to talk. Especially since her laughter woke up the guy near us yet again.
I watched movies for way too long. I really do believe my brain is starting to rot.
I tried working, but my battery died. Who knew it had to be charged. Now, I'm on my iPad and realizing yet again how I fit the bugs definition of a geek. I'm writing a blog to load when we land and chatting with the lovely old man near us. Wondering how the running paths are near the hotel and whether I can survive six flags tomorrow.
And bug? She's just finished all 12 episodes. Definitely a geek! She makes me proud. (but did she spot the rubic's cube tissue box in the 10th episode, you know, the one I took a photo of)...
Ok, back to reading others blogs and dreaming of puzzles I need to buy.
Lord help me, I need another wine.

(and by the time this is posted??? I'll have landed!!!

Ah yes, and before I forget, Eric and the lads over at renegade, my 10 year old babysitter has told me I can savour ONE of those girly cigars with you (dibs on the number 2), but only one. She's more of a whip cracker than I am.

Entry into the US Was smooth and fast this year. No hassle at all. Must be because we didn't have Matt. 😏 I wondered if I'd have trouble when the guy asked about tobacco products and big started to talk but thankfully it was only to say mom quit smoking.

Because of a major cock-up and change of plans of one too many people at the last minute, we aren't staying in the IPP hotel this year. Bug is royally ticked, and honestly right now I'm none to happy about it either but for different reasons. If anyone wants the down and dirty send me an email and if I'm still hounding a grudge I'll answer if not ... It's not important anyway because it's only a few feet down the road.

I'll end up posting again in wad essay when we have dinner with a lad from Canada. Tomorrow? Six flags for the bug and I and you really don't want to read about my fear of heights and fast rides😃😃

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's poem time again!

Listen , all puzzlers, and ye shall hear
of a week in Washington D.C.
On the 9th of August in 2012
Every one knows it's IPP day
400 converge; the US this year.

She said to her friends, I"If I don't write much
about my puzzle trip this summer
post a message right now or some thing as such
telling one and all of photos, no bummer!"
One, on her blog, and two, on Facebook!
Then all will see the fun in one look.
Behave yourself all the 'mods' aren't here.
Puzzlers get together one weekend a year.
They exchange their toys many ideas they hear.
All will shout "great job" when puzzles are shown.
The Holbrook collection has world renown.
The latest competition entries,
can be played without any monies.
Some will win prizes, others will not.
Production for some made in Japan
Copying others in Sino lan'
It bagan long ago when Jerry urged
In 1980 puzzlers converged

In California they met on land.
Puzzlers gathered exchanging their views.
From initial thoughts of one great muse,
they played all day long then talked through the night
They were starting something quite grand.
An annual pilgrimage  was the news.
How to spread this fortune was their plight

They send out invitations world wide today,
From humble beginnings started then,
now puzzlers come both women and men.
We meet once a year in a new place
worldwide travel a partial race.
Who arrives first doesn't matter now.
Just as long as all arrive some how.
Check into the hotel first of course!
The $$ you spent?  Feel no remorse.
Drop the bags in the room first then, WOW!
Visit with friends in the lobby.
Discuss family, births, deaths, and weddings.
Listen to everyones musings
Talk about everything and our hobby.
Look at the table, full of toys!
Look at the room, so full of boys!
The first day's a tour of Washington,
nights Founder's dinner will be such fun.
There will be stories to tell that will last a year.
The best ones of course are over beer.
The room is filled with much joyful noise.
The party has just started, more to come.
Too many to visit, no time for some.
Sleeping tonight?  Crazy I say!
Tomorrow is the puzzle exchange Day!

Day two, exchange should start very soon.
Ready to go, I run from the moon.
Knocking outside my door is quick solver
my partner for the afternoon.
My puzzle this year?  No revolver...
We set up the table first thing
What's the day in store?  What will it bring?
Will there be twisties or many burrs?
Will there be wires or more that are like hers?
This year there are many puzzles in stoer.
Haven't enough? Tomorrow get more.
My first exchange was 3 years ago now.
All I could think was HOLY COW!
There's nothing quite like it for girls like me,
Puzzle trading I hope he now will avow.
I hope next year to have 'nother he.
Exchanging is fun, learning is better.
Last year I learned I do like GEE-I'M-A-TREE.
Will I learn now that mathematics is for me?
If that's true some one write my boss a letter.
She thinks I'm a dork that knows only grammar,
When I start with the stats, I always stammer.
The numbers I confess, hit like a hammer!
I'll not now be a new puzzle setter.
8 hours today of talking and playing
Walking around my puzzle displaying.
I can't wait to choose the puzzles to play.
(My friends in China can't come along now.
One day they will, I'm sure some will somehow.)
The one's to bring 'cross the border one day.

Day three!  Puzzle Party For Real!
Runaround looking at all that you can.
You want lunch? No time for a meal!
There are puzzles to buy now my friend,
The puzzles to see will never end.
Pack up your bags, pack them good man!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Halfway there

We've landed in Doha. Just long enough to eat some frozen yoghurt and drink a mountain dew. Boarding in a minute for the next 13 hours. I told you I was dedicated!

And guess what? They busted me at the x-ray machine. I've only about 20 puzzles in there including a petaminx, starminx, master kilominx, and a bag full of other assorted puzzles.

And for those who are curious, the rubic's cube was the same one I got in Dubai last year.

(shhh, don't tell her I said this, but bug just stole some guys carry on. She thought it was mine. Good thing he was nice about it!)

On my way to IPP!

Yep folks that's right it's that time again!  IPP!

By the time this is up bug and I will be winging our way across the world to yet another International Puzzle Party.  It doesn't get any better than this now does it.  Loads of friends, great conversation, good food and drink, and of course lots and lots of puzzles.

This year I am especially thrilled because my exchange puzzle was designed by none other than myself.  Yes, you heard that right folks, I had an idea!  Shocked aren't you?  Go on, admit it.  Rox isn't one to design anything more difficult than a lesson plan and half the time she doesn't even do that.

Actually, that's not 100 % true.  I came up with the idea and made a working prototype out ofxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  Ha, you didn't think I'd tell did you?  It's not exchange day yet!  Ok, I'll give you a photo of the packaging, how's that?
  nope, still not giving it away!  :)

I will be honest though and tell you that I got a great deal of help from my friend Mr. Fok over at Mf8.  He is amazing.  I described what I wanted because I was quite frankly ashamed of my prototype, but that didn't stop him.  With my bad Cantonese and some help from Smaz the translator we got it together.  He later added an extra bit that just tickles me and we are in business.  Of course, the puzzle was made in China, but that doesn't make it any less appealing for me.

I'll post photos of it after the exchange.  If any are interested, I have some left over and will be offering them up for sale later on.  

So now I'm abut to get on a plane and head out for the first 7 hour flight.  A couple of hours of layover for me to run around an airport trying to find yet more puzzles (probably a rubik's cube with a city theme) and then another 13 hours before I hit my destination.  

See you all from IPP!

On my way

I can't help myself. I have to post. Im on my way yet again to an IPP! Bug and I have two very long flights but in the end if I have enough wine to dull the turbulence I really don't care. I think we are on the very last flight out of the city tonight and on the very first one in the morning.
It will be great fun for me. First trip alone with my girl. Here's hoping we both survive! I'll post again (I hope) at the layover-8 hours from now.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Calibron 12

I'm defeated!  Holy Cow this was one tough mother.  I took this along for a normal in-between testing puzzle and wanted to pull my hair out.  But at the same time, I simply love it.  The idea is so simple. Calibron 12 is a puzzle consisting of 12 pieces.  Just pack the pieces in the tray.  How hard can that be right? ( Déjà vu I hear you say?)

So when you get the puzzle it looks something like this.  Not solved, one piece over in the side.  Loads of extra space for that last little bit to go in.  I mean, I'm no mathematician, but just by looking I can see that there is enough room if I just shift a piece or two around...or is there?  Since I have yet to solve it I can't be sure. It might be a plot by the folks over at CreativeCrafthouse to drive me totally round the bend.

I have this one permanently in my testing bag for those times when I want to feel like a complete idiot.  Who knows, one of these days I may just solve it!

A video of it I have made.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mr. Sphere

This puzzle comes to me from HKNowstore.   All I know about it is that it was invented in Japan and is supposedly not copied from any other puzzle.  Or is it?  I'm not being generous here.  This puzzle was designed independently without having seen any other puzzles similar to it.  Ok.  That's happened before.  I'll take that.

So what does this puzzle do?  It rotates. It moves around and you need to line up the colors.  Three to be exact, red, white, and blue. (Great colors don't you think!)  There are 5 red tiles, 5 blue tiles, and 10 white tiles.  Each tile rotates around a central black stationary section and it reminds me a lot of a soccer ball.

Now what do I really think?  I think it is a Thomas Ball in disguise.  It's a lot smaller than the Thomas Ball and fits rather nicely in my hand.

When playing, you do need to be careful that it's lined up perfectly or the tiles ride over the black bits.  But even when this happens, it is an easy fix.  If you missed out on the Thomas Ball craze in the 90's, now is your chance to get one.  Why not!  Video here.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lumber jack

A while back I placed an order for a number of puzzles from creative Crafthouse. Today's puzzle was one of that order. I enjoyed this one quite a lot.

This one is called Lumber Jack.  It has only 18 pieces and the object is to stack the logs.  Kind of reminds me of the Lincoln logs I played with as a child.  (yes, I'm a girl and I had Lincoln logs.  I had a Tonka dump truck to so what of it :) )

18 pieces isn't that many, so what's the catch?  Well, there are 4 different types of logs here.  They range from having no grooves cut out to having three grooves cut out.  The piece count is 1=0, 5=1, 7=2, and 4=3.  18 pieces. The base is grooved to get you started, and there is a nice cap that holds all the pieces in place.  This one only has 2 colors to it.  4 red pieces and the rest are brown.  No hints given away by color patterns here.

Now as you might know, I work on these things while examining the afternoons away. I have to say it was either a really long day for me, or this was one tough puzzle.  It took me all afternoon to solve it!  I haven't had that happen in a long time.  Mostly because I make sure the puzzles I choose to spend my testing time with are some that can be solved quickly.

A fun puzzle?  With that time involved?  Yep.  You bet.