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Xiphias Gladius

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My wife is awesome; birthday hunt [Feb. 20th, 2014|12:16 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
So, when I was a very small child, I loved the book The Secret Birthday Message by Eric Carle. And I insisted that my parents put together a "Birthday Hunt" for me. I believe the very first one involved shapes; I think it was something like they drew a shape, and I had to find something that was that shape, and that's where my present was, but that may be from the book only. I do remember that one of the very first ones was when I was just learning to read, so the clues were just things like "UNDER THE BED" written out, and I had to sound it out. When I got there, there would be a present, and another clue to the next present. So however many presents I got was how many steps the hunt had. As such, I tended to really like getting a bunch of one-dollar toys instead of something really big and fancy. In any case, "big, fancy toys" are what grandparents are for.

Later, the clues got more complex, until my parents felt it was too hard to come up with clues that were challenging for me; not everybody is a puzzle designer by nature. My baby sister took over for a while (okay, by "baby, I mean five years younger than I am; she's thirty-five now, and she took over writing the hunt when she was ten or eleven); I remember two of her clues in particular, one brilliant, one simply unfair enough to not really count as a clue.

The brilliant one was "ON THE BACK PORCH". I searched behind dollhouses, in books about architecture, all over the place.

The present was on the back porch. Never even occurred to me as a possibility.

The unfair one was "THREE MEN." It was behind a box of Rice Krispies. I mean, if the clue had been "THREE ELVES", okay, I would have thought of that as reasonable. But "THREE MEN"?

I didn't get birthday hunts EVERY year. But I like it when it does happen. Lis has come up with good clues, too. For instance, one she did was "It eats ivy." My parents thought that was grossly unfair, but I went directly to my Jewish ritual garment, because, to ME, that was obvious. What eats ivy, too? A kittel. (if you don't get the reference. If you don't get the other reference.)

Anyway, Lis threw together a very quick but fun one for me today. I just picked the car up from the shop, and she said, "I put a little square of paper on everything you need for a Babel fish. Find them." The only present involved was the mustache-shirt that Lis's mom made for me -- THANK YOU ABBY IT'S ADORABLE -- but the hunt included all the items.

[User Picture]From: yardlong
2014-02-20 05:43 pm (UTC)
Glad you got a Birthday Hunt from Lis this year - have a great day and year ahead!
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[User Picture]From: mactavish
2014-02-20 09:25 pm (UTC)
IT EATS IVY - she is a **genius**
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-02-20 09:50 pm (UTC)
Isn't she?
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[User Picture]From: ailbhe
2014-02-21 02:03 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: cakmpls
2014-02-21 02:52 pm (UTC)
Second that!
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From: wotyfree
2014-02-21 05:59 pm (UTC)
best. clue. ever.
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[User Picture]From: browngirl
2014-02-20 10:50 pm (UTC)
Happy birthday, and hooray for your awesome gift!
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[User Picture]From: sproutntad
2014-02-20 11:46 pm (UTC)
I miss the birthday hunts!! They were always so much fun!! You were always better at puzzling then out than I was but I always enjoyed doing them. For you it was the puzzles - for me it was being the center of attention and getting PRESENTS!!! :) glad Lis did one for your 40th. I was totally thinking that if I was up there I wanted to do one for you!! So...did she put stickies on all of the books or just books in other languages? Or book on tape in other languages?
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2014-02-21 12:14 am (UTC)
Nope -- it was a reference to the HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY game by Infocomm. One of the puzzles, considered to be one of the all-time classic interactive fiction puzzles, was trying to get a Babel fish from a Babel fish dispenser. It was an unfair puzzle that required you to have picked up random crap in a previous scene; if you hadn't done that, you couldn't solve the puzzle and would die.

Also, there were a limited number of Babel fish in the dispenser, and if you figured out how to solve each way that you could fail to get the Babel fish, you would have one fish too few, and would lose the game.

You had to hang your dressing-gown on a hook, which blocked a hole in the wall, then put your towel on the floor covering a drain, then put your satchel over a panel on the wall so that a cleaning robot would be stopped from picking up the fish, then put junk mail on the satchel so that the flying cleaning robot would be distracted by the flying mail and allow you to get the fish.

So, you pulled the lever and the fish slid off your dressing-gown instead of going into the gap in the wall (first failure mode averted), landed on your towel instead of going down the drain in the floor (second failure mode averted), the first robot smacked into your satchel and didn't get the fish (third failure mode averted), and the second robot was distracted by all the junk mail thrown into the air after the first robot smacked into the satchel (fourth failure mode averted).

And there were only four fish in the dispenser, so if you solved each problem as soon as you encountered it -- you didn't have enough fish to solve it and you'd die.

So I had to remember all those steps -- looking it up would be cheating! -- and find the squares of paper on my dressing-gown ("bathrobe" to us Americans), towel, incoming junk mail, and satchel. And the shirt Abby made for me was in the satchel.
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[User Picture]From: dandelion_diva
2014-02-21 03:06 am (UTC)
OMG! Thank you! I spent far, *Far* too much time trying to get the stupid fish out of the stupid dispenser and could never figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. Once, I managed to get the fish. And couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get it in my ear.

I was so demoralized that I don't think I ever played the game again. Oh well, I went on to have a full and happy life. I only think back every now and then. *grin*

Also, a very happy birthday.:)
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[User Picture]From: cheshyre
2014-02-21 12:51 am (UTC)
I found my gift for Ian in an online auction. So, once he showed me he found all the components, I did reveal what I was getting him.

But, since the auction doesn't close until Sunday, (a) I don't have a physical object for him, and (b) I'm not guaranteed to get it (though I do have the top bid at the moment).
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[User Picture]From: metaphortunate
2014-02-24 08:54 pm (UTC)
That is adorable! You have a lovely partner. :)
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[User Picture]From: delerium69
2014-03-03 05:07 am (UTC)
I finally read this post all the way through and *really* groaned - as in out loud- at the "eats ivy" and "kittel" clue. (I also can't believe how quickly I got it.) Knowing obscure facts are fun. It's like your own Sheldon Cooper moment for the day.

I'm glad you had a good birthday
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