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Here are some thoughts and pictures I've saved up over the past few days. First, a picture of magnificent skies. Such weighty clouds, such gauze of rain over there in the distance, and such uncanny light:

portentous skies

Influential rain

Some days later, there was a walk alongside a canal. Rain was coming down, not severely, but--and we hadn't expected this--fairly unquittingly. It was watching its influence spread as it hit the canal water. Lots of little circles of influence:

And here, in a photo by urbpan, is a magical creature, bred of wetness, despite the fact that the ancients associated its kind with fire. See how his hind quarters melt away? And he sparkles darkly. You can find out all about this salamander, a "leadback," at urbpan's entry here.

The winner of NPR's Sunday puzzler yesterday was a 15-year-old, Arushi Agarwal. Will Shortz asked her if she'd been playing long, and she said she'd been playing for five years: her parents had thought that working on the puzzle each Sunday would be a great way to stretch their minds and spend family time together. I was so charmed by that notion! What a fun family thing to do! ... Only if everyone participates willingly, but Arushi seemed very happy. She has a brother, too, who's part of all this.

"So did you have help solving last week's puzzle?" Will Shortz asked.

"Yes, my brother helped me."

(The puzzle had been, take the name of a major US company, take off its first and last letters, and the remainder of the letters, in order, will spell out the name of a well-known singer.)

She went on, "We figured we probably wouldn't know the singer, so we took a list of the Fortune 500 companies and just went through it. When we got to "Walgreens" and took off the W and the S, we thought, 'Al Green seems like a pretty viable name,' so we went and looked, and yeah, he's a singer."

"So you didn't even know him," Will Shortz remarked with a laugh, and she said no, so he played her a clip of an Al Green song. And then she did the puzzle on air, and acquitted herself admirably.

I fell into a daydream about the Agarwal siblings figuring this out, the parents enjoying their kids working on it... I'd like to draw the picture, but I don't know if I will...

Rock of the month
a_soft_world was visiting. She told me about how she and her brother used to like breaking rocks open, and how they'd display the rock of the month--the one that was most fabulous or interesting inside. On our walk by the canal, in the influential rain, she picked up two, and the next day, we hurled them at a large boulder, and they did shatter! And here is one, split open:

Surely worthy of the title of rock of the month.


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 6th, 2015 11:24 pm (UTC)
That puzzle story was great. A fine idea to do with friends or family. I always have it on on Sunday morning, but am half asleep and so do poorly. I think I'm getting better though. One of my LJ friends knows Will Shortz. She's elainetyger from NJ. She does all kind of puzzling, there in NYC, and tournaments around the country
Jul. 7th, 2015 12:02 am (UTC)
Wow a new LJ thing... when you tag me, they email me to let me know, just like on facebook.

Yes, Will is my most famous friend. I played the puzzle on the air back in the late 90s and was lucky that it was the same weekend as the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, so the whole room played along when Will played the segment for the puzzlers gathered in the ballroom. It was taped the Thursday afternoon before. Each time I knew an answer right away, I still waited a second before answering, because I knew that all the people in the ballroom would be playing along with me.

I will see Will this week at the National Puzzlers' League Convention, oddly enough in a different nation this time, in Vancouver.

Urbpan is the lj & facebook friend I'd most like to meet out of those I haven't yet met. I'll be in Boston once or twice over the next year and hope to make it happen.
Jul. 7th, 2015 12:06 am (UTC)
That feature of tagging people works sometimes and doesn't work other times--I haven't figured out whether it's contingent on the journal you do the tagging in, the settings of the tagger, or the settings of the taggee--but cool!

That's neat that you played on the air--do you still have your lapel pin? And I bet you'll have fun in Vancouver (all the women's soccer fans sure did--boy, Vancouver's the happening city this month).

urbpan and cottonmanifestoare super cool. I feel really lucky to have met both of them. urbpan taught me to recognize the fungus Excidia recisa, which is great in hot-and-sour soup.
Jul. 7th, 2015 12:29 am (UTC)
I lost the lapel pin probably within weeks. The thing I had the longest was the deluxe Scrabble board, which I threw away recently when I bought a newer kind that folds up to travel.
Jul. 7th, 2015 12:09 am (UTC)
Let me know! I'm very eager to meet you as well :)
Jul. 7th, 2015 12:07 am (UTC)
Yeah, I might still try sketching my impression of the family scene. She was such a cheerful kid on air, too.
Jul. 7th, 2015 12:01 am (UTC)
Since salamanders tried to escape from the insides of burning logs, the ancients thought they were born from the flames.

Love the first picture.
Jul. 7th, 2015 12:07 am (UTC)
I can understand that assumption (poor salamanders, though).

And thanks! (And I know I have two LJ entries of yours to visit... I'm behind.)
Jul. 7th, 2015 01:18 am (UTC)
It's cool.
There's another one coming. Sorry about that.
Jul. 8th, 2015 04:29 am (UTC)
Haha, that's fine. Eventually I'll make it over there!
Jul. 8th, 2015 12:01 am (UTC)
I'm hoping that the ones they saw were escaping quickly, and to safety.
Jul. 8th, 2015 04:29 am (UTC)
me too.
Jul. 7th, 2015 06:33 am (UTC)
Disco salamander!
Jul. 8th, 2015 04:30 am (UTC)
Seriously. He doesn't need a disco ball; he *is* the disco ball.
Jul. 7th, 2015 07:05 am (UTC)
We used to do that with flint nodules 'cos that's where you find the fossils on the chalk! :o)
Jul. 7th, 2015 04:09 pm (UTC)
Didn't know that!
Jul. 7th, 2015 04:12 pm (UTC)
Amazing what you learn when you get brought up as a calkin.

Et voila:

Jul. 8th, 2015 04:31 am (UTC)
Jul. 8th, 2015 06:09 am (UTC)
I have a few at home that I collected as a kid! :o)
Jul. 8th, 2015 04:31 am (UTC)
I liked picking up bits of that flint-and-chalk when we lived over there. The chalk parts looked like bone.
Jul. 8th, 2015 06:09 am (UTC)
Which, in a sense, it is! :o)
Jul. 7th, 2015 11:35 am (UTC)
I adore salamanders.

Jul. 8th, 2015 04:32 am (UTC)
This salamander looks out at the camera like he's returning that love.
Jul. 7th, 2015 04:11 pm (UTC)
The Agarwals are both (brilliantly) methodical and persistent- they chose a winning method, and they got all the way down to the "W"'s in the Fortune 500!
Jul. 8th, 2015 04:32 am (UTC)
Wow, yes, W! Maybe one of them started at one end of the alphabet and the other started at the other?
Jul. 8th, 2015 12:03 am (UTC)
I love rain falling on water, and the salamander's wonderful. :)
Jul. 8th, 2015 04:33 am (UTC)
Rain on water is delicious and beautiful. And I'm glad you like the salamander--I'm glad Urbpan let me repost!
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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