Notes from Puzzle Palace

Saturday, February 25, 2023

LA with Marti Reis

Today's puzzling post is about a lot. We have been busy the past 6 days.  First we packed up the car to drive down to Marti's for the next few days.  This was a hoot.  I could only see out of the side mirrors.  We had the car packed so tightly that we simply couldn't fit another thing in there.  When I looked in the rear view mirror all I saw was black.  When we arrived at Marti's she and her girlfriend got a good laugh as we unloaded.  They were waiting for the clowns to come out.  

We arrived at out hotel which was 2 blocks from Disney.  Why you ask? Because they have a big Lego store there and I wanted to go. We arrived around 5 and unpacked what we needed for the next 2 days.  We had dinner at a nice sushi place near by and lay down to sleep around 8:30.  Guess what? Fireworks.  I swear they were in our back yard.  They were loud.  But not nearly as loud as the excited children watching them from right outside our window. We finally fell into a deep sleep.  

The next day I had a series of tasks I wanted to accomplish.  I visited 3 Daiso's to get a bunch of petite blocks, I went to Downtown Disney to go to the lego store and to buy a few twisty puzzles they have.  

I  hit a grocery store for some milk and OJ, and finally to get some lunch for us.  George was feeling a bit under the weather so he stayed in and rested.  I returned around 1, we had lunch and I spent the afternoon putting together blocks.  

Sunday was check out and I played with blocks until 11, then we repacked the car and headed over to Marti's.  We went for lunch shortly after arriving and visited a toy store downtown and another Daiso for more blocks.  I got a few puzzles I didn't have, and at Daiso Marti got a few puzzles and I picked  up some sea creature blocks.  We returned to her house and I made a few of those sea creatures for her along with a couple of crystal puzzles. Dinner was leftover BBQ from lunch!  The portions were so big. Her home is amazing!  Please forgive all the photos here and be sure to scroll down for more of this post.

The next morning Walter Hoppe and Jerry and Allan Slocum came to Marti's for a small puzzle party.  

We all spent the best part of the morning catching up. Lunch was from Marti's favorite Mexican place, and after that we all did a bit of puzzling and had some more good conversation. 

As before, we managed to get a few videos of Jerry and Walt discussing their early puzzling memories.

Sadly, the day ended all too early as Walter had to return to San Diego.  Shortly after Jerry and Allan returned home again as well.  

Marti's home and her hospitality are unbelievable.  We got to sleep in one of the best bedrooms ever.

She had a wonderful extension made that is just filled with wonderful puzzles.  We had a great time going through them all.  You see, our entire roadtrip was designed around being able to pick up the R. Gee collection that Marti so kindly donated to us.  On Tuesday morning around 7 I got up and began packing.  I was finished in 2 hours.  Now this may sound trivial, but it was a massive task.  By the time all was said and done, we had packed up 58 boxes of puzzles!  

We were trying to get a 26' moving truck but thankfully, all were out of stock.  Instead we got a cargo van and surprisingly everything fit! Tuesday evening I cooked a nice simple dinner for us and we chatted into the evening. 

I'm a good organizer so Marti and I spent all afternoon and Wednesday organizing her puzzles.  

She ended up with so much more room after.  I love doing that and was glad to be able to help a friend.  Wednesday morning we picked up the truck and her son came over and helped George load it.  How we will empty it is another story.  After we had everything packed up we returned to the house to have another long talk. I finished up a giant isopod blocks for Marti and dinner was leftovers from the night before.  

Sadly, on Thursday morning we had to leave, but boy am I glad we did looking back at the weather reports. It looks like we got out in the nick of time. We did run into snow just outside Palm Springs!  It started out as rain and I was giggling to see the change to snow. The drive was uneventful after that.  Although the beauty of the country still astounds me.  

I write this 3 hours away from Tanner's home in Texas.  For the past 2 days I've driven 12 hours each.  But we will be there for his party today!  I can't wait to see our next friend and his wonderful family. 

I have unblocked all of the videos we've taken so far.  They can all be seen under the USA RoadTrip playlist on my youtube channel.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Stanford and San Jose

The next morning we awoke at 7 so we could head back over to Stan's house to collect a few more puzzles.  This time we went for twisty puzzles. He has a shed in the back of his house that is filled to the brim with puzzles.  I got to see it last time I was there and was shocked!  There is very little space to walk, just a narrow pathway around a table.  The room has shelves all along the outer sides filled with puzzle boxes and even has puzzling posters on the ceiling.  

This time Stan allowed me to go into his twisty boxes and take any puzzles we did not have! Years ago I would have just boxed up everything and said thank you.  This time I simply took 2 small moving boxes of puzzles that are missing from the museum collection and helped him rebox the rest to consolidate the room.  As soon as this was done, I had to run get Joe from the train station.  At the same time, George and Stan went into the puzzle room and they went through a few more puzzles to donate to the museum.  We said our good-byes around 10:45 to head over to Donald Knuth's house.  

When we walked in, we got to see a mosaic of the Dragon Curve that they had on their wall (what is it with people and obscure mosaics ;) )

We then went into the front room so I could see the Organ.  OH MY! What a wonderful piece.  This was specially made for their home.  I absolutely love it.  If I could play that instrument, I would have one made as well. 

There was a reporter there doing an interview on Donald and us for a series of articles that will be forthcoming.  The two men talked, Donald spoke a lot about AI and something else, I forget.  But it was all over my head.  I saw a book on the History of Puzzles in Society and had to take a look. At one point, George got excited about cubigami and had a nice chat about it. Joe got a couple of books autographed and we got a tour of the house.  

My god that man is organized.  He had shelves filled with files that were filled with papers for which ever book he is working on.  And he knew what was in each one of them. Astounding.  He even answered a few questions I had about edge matching puzzles by referring to a book he wrote.

After an hour or so we went for lunch at a wild place called Bucky's.  Thankfully we ate outside because the decor would have been sensory overload for me.  Just walking to the bathroom was enough to cause me to stop and gawk.

When lunch was finished, the Knuth's took Joe back to the train station while I took my lover to the hotel for a long overdue nap.  While he slept, I drove to a couple of Daiso's in the area to look for petit blocks.  I found quite a few, but not all of what I wanted.  When I returned to the hotel, I woke George an we headed to Wei-Hwa's house.  

We were given a tour of his stunning home.  I just love the staircase and the library.  It gave me some ideas.  Trisha and the kids came in from school and man are they getting bigger. Mind, the last time I saw them they were just toddlers.  

We then went out to his "Pinhouse" to look at the pinball machines.

 Wei-Hwa gave us a demonstration of one machine that is musical in nature.  I forget the name.  He told us he had them imported from Japan.  I gave it a go and we all had a good laugh.

We then returned to the house where Bram Cohen and Mark Powlenger came in.  

Tonight was a game night.  The 5 of us played a cosmos game which was good fun, then we played another which reminded me somewhat of Splendor.  All in all it was a really fun night.  We returned to the hotel to have a nights sleep before heading to LA the next morning.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Palo Alto and a Few more friends

Our next stop was to see our friend Nick Baxter. After a wonderful nights sleep we awoke around 8, packed the car and headed over to pick up son Joe.  We made the short 1/2 hour drive down to Nick's house and had a wonderful chat about people and other things.  It's been a while since we've seen our friends (think 2 years and COVID) so there was a lot of catching up to do.  I was glad to hear that Nick is now taking new blood into IPP.  All the original members are getting a bit long in the tooth and the organization needs some younger people to survive.  Around 1 Stan Issacs came over and we all had a nice lunch cooked up by Anne.  

After lunch, Nick showed us his puzzle room and I got to see quite a few I hadn't seen before.  

The illusive Marcel Gillen Bishop does exist!
Nick very kindly donated two boxes of puzzles to our cause and they went into the back of the car.

After lunch, George and Stan went back to his house while I took Joe to the train station and checked into our hotel.  This one is a bit better than the Meth den, but only slightly.  With the price we paid, one would think they could afford to put up a non-ripped shower curtain.  The webpage said all newly renovated rooms. When, in 1960? Another dump.  Do not stay at Hotel Real in Santa Clara.  They lied. To add insult to injury, I requested a ground floor room.  They put me on the second floor.  Normally this wouldn't be so bad, but George called and said Stan was giving us some old books and puzzle patents so he asked me to empty the car.  UGH!  I had to carry our 2 suitcases and all of the boxes we had currently collected up that flight of stairs and into the room.  I managed, but just barely.  

I returned to Stans just as Nick was pulling up to join us for dinner.  We boxed up about 4 boxes and put them in the car.  While doing this, a few young people from the Mechanical Puzzles Discord came over.  It is always nice to meet new people. And it's especially nice when they are tall and can get puzzles down from top shelves. Thank you Lance! We also did a lot of just playing.  

At 6:45 everyone headed over to a dim sum restaurant for dinner. George and Stan and I spent a bit more time packing up some more puzzles, but in the end I said we would return at 8 am to go through the puzzle shed.  I knew we wouldn't be able to finish that night.  Between the darkness and the cold, it just wasn't going to happen. 

Dinner was great. Joe Becker joined us and we had a great dinner.  The conversation was all around puzzles of course.  I was surprised to hear Joe speaking Mandarin and he explained how he learned the language when he was in university.  George later told me he was the man who wrote Unicode. I was surrounded by brilliance yet again.  What a lucky lady I am.

I don't remember what time we left, but we did shut down the place. It was probably 9 pm.  I never realized that eateries closed so early until we came out to California.  But then we don't eat out that often at home either.  

We returned to a cold hotel room as the heater didn't work.  We didn't have a lot of noise tonight, but the bed was hard, the pillows were lumpy and there was the faint smell of cigarette smoke in the room even though it was listed as non-smoking.  I woke in the middle of the night and the TV table with the missing drawer had opened itself up.  The 3 remaining drawers had fallen open.  I got up to close them and they just slid open again.  I think the room had a life of its own.  Good location though.  1/2 way between Stan's and Wei-Hwa's.  But more on that tomorrow.