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 Last installment from my puzzles at the AP reading. This one is a game of categories based on the word ALTER (as in alternate). Come up with something beginning with each of those 5 letters that fits the given category. (So, if the category was Countries, you might say Argentina, Liberia, Thailand, Ethiopia, and Rwanda.)

1. Things you might find at the reading (OK, this one's unfair for the rest of the world, but I thought Saphir might enjoy it)
2. Things you buy at a bakery (in honor of the question on the regular exam about cookies)
3. Things made of lines (in honor of the question about lines)
4. Things you see on a hiking trail (in honor of the question about, wait for it, trails)
5. Things you plug in (in honor of the question about the GridWorld case study - if you're plugged in, you're "on the grid". What? Don't look at me like that)
6. Things associated with magic or magicians (the "theme" of the reading was the Magic of Computer Science. Yes, our grading sessions have themes. Really, stop looking at me like that!)

Hope you enjoyed the puzzles!


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 This puzzle actually was the last one I did after the alt exams were finished, and there was no longer an alt room to trap the chief reader in. But I made it anyway.

At the reading, AP stands for Advanced Placement, but there are other things AP can stand for. Figure them out from the following clues:

Dessert that comes in a Dutch variety
In 1998, he won the PGA Lifetime Achievement Award
With “The”, Michael Douglas film in which he lives in the White House
2, 5, 8, 11, 14, etc., for example
Rank for a tenured faculty member
Home for Oman or Yemen
How much a seller wants for a particular good
In news reports, the person who the authorities claim committed a crime
Major news agency founded in May 1846
Domestic helper from a foreign country
Second-in-command at a high school
Key device in a wireless network
Use of various principles to help improve mental health


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 Another quiz from the alternate exam grading room. (They're sending me a bunch to grade at home that came too late to deliver to the reading. The fun never ends!)

The word "alternate" contains hidden inside it "tern", which is a kind of bird. Can you find the birds hidden in these sentences? They all have a surface sense related to the reading, but, of course, the meaning is not relevant to solving the puzzle.

Should we be seeing static row and column variables in these solutions?
Read over this solution and make sure I scored it correctly.
We lost Rich Kick when he got moved to APLine.
You’ll catch a reader’s goof in checkreading the pack.
Uh oh, it looks like we have another one hundred folders to grade.
Students either add to the end of the ArrayList or keep putting things on the front.
If you want to learn about the GridWorld classes, look them up in the reference.
By the end of the reading, I crave non-fattening foods.
You might have to checkread a second or maybe even a third exam in this pack.
Jody’s flaming out on the quiz; get some backup!
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 Here's the second installment of the puzzles I gave in the alternate room during the AP reading. Enjoy!

Each clue leads to a term you might hear in a computer science course, but not clued in a computer science way. Some knowledge of comp sci and specifically Java would be helpful in making sense of some of these answers.

Fievel, Jerry, or Speedy Gonzales
What you might see on ABC, NBC, or CBS
Sequoia, elm, or oak
Lean to one side
A fall that sends you forward; if you trip, you might take one
Something you teach, or something you have a lot of
Beach footwear
Occupation of John Peter Zenger or Benjamin Franklin
Giving a performer the same sort of role again and again
Snow on your TV set
What many people put in the mail on April 15
Listen in with a wiretap
San Andreas, for example
Male sheep
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 Just got back from the Advanced Placement grading session in Cincinnati, OH. Things went much better last year, although that isn't saying much. I was in charge of grading the alternate computer science exam - the one students take as a make-up if they have some sort of conflict. We had 889 exams to grade and six people to do it. And we finished two days early. Whoo-hoo!

Anyway, I came up with Will Shortz-style quizzes for almost every day we were scoring. If you came in the room, you had to take the quiz before you left (for, um, security reasons). This was mainly to torture the chief reader when he came in for announcements. Now that the reading is over, I figured I'd torture my friends list. 

So here's quiz #1. Feel free to post answers in comments, but only one per person, please.

Each of these clues leads to a word or phrase containing the consecutive letters ALT.

Nabisco’s Premium and Keebler’s Zesta are brands of these

Once the most trusted man in America, this journalist died in 2009

1980 sci-fi film featuring William Hurt as a scientist studying sensory deprivation

1998 Best Actress winner for Shakespeare In Love

Body of water bordering both Sweden and Lithuania

The first CBS Sunday Morning anchor also noted for his “On the Road” segments

He’s played Rhett Butler and James Bond

Women’s clothing with a single strap around the back of the neck

Influential 1776 economics text by Adam Smith

Humphrey Bogart film in which he played Sam Spade

Any one-dollar bill, for example

What you hear when you turn on your phone

Nickname for Johann Strauss II

Subject of a major reform bill in 2010

Version of ESP featuring communication without words

Monolithic promontory located on the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula

Founder and lead singer of The Who

The Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit, familiarly


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 The kids are both in Disney phases at the moment. Here's an interesting bit of wordplay I noticed. It may be obscure enough that only Toonhead! will get it, but here goes:

Think of the name of a villainous Disney character. Inside the character's name, you can find, phonetically, the name of another villainous Disney character from the same movie. Who are these characters?
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 Just got word from the producer of the story on the 3-way tie and resulting album that the piece airs on tonight's (12/20) edition of Weekend All Things Considered towards the end of the show. Unless, of course, there's breaking news of some sort. I'll post a link here when it's available. Edited: Yes, it did air. Here's a link!


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NPR is doing a piece on the 3-way tie album on this Sunday's Weekend All Things Considered (assuming nothing else more important happens). I was interviewed for it last night. The producer said it's currently scheduled for the middle of the show. So tune it in, or get the podcast online when it's posted.

I was secretly hoping that Wait Wait Don't Tell Me would pick up the story for the Bluff The Listener game, but I'll take ATC instead.

And I sent Will Shortz a spinoff puzzle from his challenge last week, which he said he might mention on Sunday. So I might get two mentions on NPR in the same day. That would be pretty sweet.

Edited to add: Never mind. I just heard that the piece has been delayed for a "future week". I'll let you know if and when it airs.


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Gotcha told me about the following today, and I still can't believe it exists:

The Greatest Event in Sports History - "The story of the Jeopardy three-way tie, set in ancient Greece, with an all-star cast." It's actually a 12-song album with solos by characters representing Anders, Jamey, and me. I like my song the best. :-)

I wrote to the man who created it to thank him for doing it. He sent me a very nice note back saying how inspiring the tie was and how much fun it was to put it together. I'm just amazed.


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I ran a puzzle extravaganza at my school, Mt. St. Mary's University, yesterday afternoon. We ended up with seven teams, six of students and one of faculty. When we ran quiz bowl, we only managed three or four student teams, so this was a great turnout. Teams had about 90 minutes to solve eight puzzles plus a metapuzzle. In the end, nobody got to the meta. The faculty team squeaked out a win, turning in their eighth puzzle just as time was about to be called. The top student team had seven solutions. People seemed to have a good time which was gratifying.

If you'd like to try the puzzles yourself, they are now available in my Google group: groups.google.com/group/squonkpuzzles. There's an explanatory message in the Discussions, and the PDF containing all the puzzles is in the Files section.


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