Showing posts with label Otis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Otis. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Puzzle day in HK

It seems I've been so busy of late that I haven't had much time to blog.  When I do make the time, it's been after a puzzle meet-up and today's post is no different.

My dear friend Otis returned to HK to visit the rather large rubber duckie we have currently stationed in our harbour.  While he was in town, he gave a shout out and asked if Michael and I would like to join him for a puzzle exhibition/talk.  Of course I jumped at the chance to see my old friends and we agreed to meet in the shopping center across from my uni.

I felt very pleased this time around,  it was the first time I was able to lead others to a puzzle location!  Usually I just tag along in a daze wondering when we'll get there and trying hard to not ask.

The day started out with breakfast at McDonald's/food court.  As is typical, we brought along puzzles to play while we ate.  I had the butter churn loaner f  rom Jerry and a few that I'd recently gotten in from various places, and Otis brought along his usual 3x3x3 and an orbik!  Mine is buried so it was nice to see one again.  After we filled our tummies we headed over across the road to the Heung To middle school.  Apparently this is the third year the school has been running this exhibition.

When we arrived, the show had already started.  There was some kind of registration that SmaZ told me to sign.  Seems that since I'm an educator, I got a certificate of some sort for showing up. Ok.  More for the end-of-year-self-criticism.  Although I think it is just another of these EDB training initiatives....

Otis told me in advance there was a Hanayama designer and inventor giving some sort of talk on puzzles.  All he knew was the guys name was Wong.  He was betting on someone being brought in from Japan, I was guessing it was Kyoo.  One point for Rox!  He gave a nice talk on the history of IPP and some of the things that happen inside the mysterious rooms.  Then he went on to discuss a few puzzles he invented that could be used in educational environments.  Overall, it was quite interesting to listen to.

Once the talk was over, we went and looked at a few of the puzzles that were on display.  There were more than a few that I don't have, and really enjoyed playing with them.  It was nice because I had a chance to play with a few and that helped me decide which ones not to purchase. We wandered around for around an hour looking at these, and listening to the owners tell us where they purchased the puzzles and at what cost-talk about making a girl feel jealous!  It seems I'm not the only puzzle hunter in HK.
recent purchases

Otis mentioned something about a sale on Hanayama puzzles and went running over to the sales table and made a few purchases of puzzles needed and puzzles to give away.  In the mean time Katherine came over and hugged Otis, Michael, and Kyoo.  Which was a good thing, because once that happened, was handed a few Hanayama's that I don't have, and was allowed to solve for a while.  As always, no photos and no hints on what is up and coming, but I think you'll enjoy the next two or three to hit the market.

Kyoo very nicely gave Katherine two puzzle kits that we will attempt to put together when I get over this sickness that she's brought home.  Just looking at them, I think when they are done they will be a packing puzzle.  But the real puzzle is to work out how to make them.  You see, there are no instructions inside.

The day started for us around 10:30, and by lunch we took a walk over to the University to grab a go box.  Lunch was in one of the classrooms and Katherine got a real eye opener on the difference between her overpriced international school and the local version of the same grade.

After lunch we went back into the hall to play with puzzles!  There were around 10 or so tables with puzzles on them to play.  Silly me didn't count!  I was tickled because I saw a few more people I know from years gone.   One teacher showed me how to solve cast rattle-which Otis was able to solve, but yet again I couldn't. I also met an older puzzler from whom I ordered a puzzling necklace which I hope to get in time for IPP.

We spent the next 4 hours or so just moving from one table to another playing with puzzle after puzzle.  It was a real treat for me because there were so many students there puzzling!  And better still, as one group left, another came in.  There were kids from primary school all the way through form 4.  (7-16 years old)  I enjoy watching children puzzle away.  Even my own self-proclaimed puzzle hater got in on the action and played for a while.  Sadly she was ill so I had to take her to the train and send her home early.

As always when this happens, I was thrilled when I was handed a couple of puzzle gifts.  The first was a disentanglement designed by one of the students from the school.  The second was a new take on an old puzzle:  Tangrams!

When day was done, SmaZ, Otis and I all went out for a nice sushi dinner.  Otis solved a puzzle I was given (again, not showing them yet!)  And then solved another!  All in all, even though it was an incredibly long day (12 hours!) it was great fun.  I look forward to next years puzzle display.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Another successful puzzling weekend.

As always, it's a sad time when friends go their separate ways.  Sunday was the end of the event and it was doubly sad because it was time to say good bye to friends.  I always hate that part of the puzzle events.  Saying good by is painful even at the best of times.  This weekend it was extra hard because I know it might not be until after the first of the year that I see my friends again.

Because I'm so bored at these things, I first decided to go to my favorite shop and get a few puzzles for Otis.  Every time he comes over he brings me some so I decided to return the favor.  This time I picked him up a few classic puzzles, Make the letter: A, K, M, T.  A Hanayama (or maybe Beverly) soma cube type puzzle and a Lotte Crunky bar game/puzzle/toy.

When I got there, it was just bug and I for a short while, Michael came next and Da Yan.  It was a real treat because I enjoy watching all the kids faces when they realize who they are talking to.  When Uwe showed up, I think they were all in puzzle heaven.  I could give a more vivid description, but all I can think of right now is a tad bit vulgar so I'll pass.

After a while, a chap brought out some dice and showed us how to stack them using cups.  It was good fun and we all had a go.  Me?  I could get 4 to stand up.  Bug managed 3. I'm not sure about the rest of the guys.  Matt came around 7 to pick bug up as it was a school night and I took the opportunity to introduce him to Da Yan.  I've been going and spending weekends with the guys for around 3 years now, and this is the first one Matt has met.  See all you non believers, I'm such a good girl my husband trusts me. All I get up to is good clean fun.  Had to snap a photo with him in it just to make sure he was there.  It might have been a dream otherwise.

After Matt left, I had to take some photos for Uwe.  Turns out he pulled out some of the 4 layer pyraminx's and gave them out to a bunch of kids.  The deal was if they could solve them he would let them keep the puzzle, if not, they paid for it at a slightly reduced cost.  Good deal hey?  This was as close as they got on Sunday, but all were given a weeks grace period and trust to be honest.  Here's hoping one of them solves the puzzle.  

After Matt and bug left, the awards ceremony began.  Michael was up first, I followed as did Da Yan and Uwe.  There were a lot of awards and I bet this took over an hour to do. I think The Japanese ruled the day, but I could be wrong.  Remember, I don't take much interest in the competing bit so I take about as much in the awards.  All that won though were lovely kids and they had huge smiles and all wanted to shake hands with us.

When all was said and done, We took the time to snap a photo of the four of us in front of the stage.  And I enjoyed watching all the different countries competitors take photos in front of their flags.  I'm pretty sure they enjoyed it as well. The kid with Michael was the youngest competitor, the girl with me was a pyraminx winner, and the one with Uwe won on one of the Meffert's puzzles.  Gear cube I believe.   

Time to head out to dinner before removing all our puzzles and taking them home. Otis joined us and it was another first.  We had never all had dinner together before.  Michael pointed out that we have never been at the same place before so that makes perfect sense.  The food was good as was the beer. Even Uwe had a Stout with us.  But we did have a slight problem.  The photo on the right shows Otis and Uwe so engaged in conversation that you will notice, the rest of us had empty glasses--Otis was in charge of the pouring.  He got so engrossed in the conversation he forgot his beer duty.

Around 10:30 Otis took Uwe to the train so he could make the border crossing and we all went down stairs to pack up.  30 minutes later and we were in a taxi heading to Michael's shop to store the toys for the night.  As always, we ended up in a bar somewhere playing drinking games.  This time I joined in the fun and learned how to count to six in Mandarin. I still lost quite a lot even after learning because I had to count on my fingers.  A poker player I'll never be.  Otis at the end of the night was looking a bit forlorn at the cube I just stole.  Thank you Michael for talking Mf8 into letting me keep it!  It is just so pretty!  I've lusted after it for around 2 years now and can't wait until the rest of you get a chance to play with it. Brilliant puzzle it is.
As for other puzzles, well, Da Yan was his usual generous self and gave me a crazy pillowed three sided puzzle that he made, and another that I can't tell you about because it isn't out yet.  During dinner I pulled out TomZ's constrained cube (the Shapeway's version) and because we were discussing it, He made me another using the pieces of another cube he has made....And that one I"ll leave alone because it still isn't my place to say.  I gave him a copy of my pionir pyramid along with a bracelet puzzle I've put together and a copy of the square in a bag.  And no, I know he won't copy it!  He's too honest, and quite frankly, too bright to have to do that.  

All in all, it was a great weekend and as always I look forward to the next one. I hope Tom and Leslie and Ming and Aj and.....can all join us!  I'm thinking December when I head over for a conference. Boring English lecturer by day, not so boring puzzler by night.....

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Friends and puzzles

One of the highlights of my year is the GZ meet in October. It usually happens over one of the weekends of the national day holiday. Mainly I guess because everyone can get there and we have time to spend together. This year there is no GZ meet. Instead, friends have come to HK for the Asian championships. Now I'm not a competitor or a speed cyber at all. But if my friends are there I'll go.

I've been busy working but last Sunday I managed lunch with Otis. Always a pleasure. Yesterday after work I ran to the venue and met Michael, Otis, DaYan, and a lad from Shenzhen whose name escapes me. We all had a nice hot pot dinner and some great puzzle and non puzzle chat. During dinner some great (non puzzle) news was delivered and I discovered DaYan and family were off to Disney on Saturday so I was volunteered to be the tour guide. We rode a few rides (Da Yan Managed to solve a puzzle while riding on Autopia!) and then headed for lunch at the Hollywood Hotel.   I was disappointed because there were no characters there. But the food was good and the kids played a bit in the game room. Then it was back to the park for a few more hours of play. Four rides and DaYan and his family went off to play some more. Bug and Miss N. went their separate way and I headed off to the competition to meet Uwe.

Now I'm going to be honest here and say that I find competitions incredibly boring.  I enjoy the company and the cubers though so I go along.  And even thought I say that, I found this year to be quite interesting as I met a bunch of people from different countries along the way. I walked around, snapped a few photos, chatted with Jing and Ulrich for a while and then we went to dinner.  I guess they were so far behind schedule that our disappearing for an hour or two didn't much matter.  We returned to the venue around 8:30 and waited some more....this is the way of competitions, lots and lots of waiting.

Uwe did a little thing with his ball cubes and the treasure chests.  The players were happy, they got free cubes.

Which brings me to question, what about the helpers.  I know they get the t-shirt and a pin, but does anyone ever think to give them cubes?  ha! I just did!  Lucky draw I guess.  This could be interesting.  :)  I'm feeling devilish!

Today is the finals and the presenting of awards and such.  The end of the competition and the end of the exhibition.  Time to bring my toys back home where they belong.  It was great to see others enjoy them, but it will be nice to see them back on their shelves.

Ok, me?  I'm off to go pick up a few toys for Otis and then head over to bore myself to tears yet again.....

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Box with a tree

Today's puzzle is not mine, but I had the opportunity to play with it for a while and since it got one of those big toothed grins from me when I solved it, I thought I'd let you read about my pleasure with this one.  My friend Otis brought this one down from Beijing with him and at lunch today, we had a puzzle play date.

Last year Otis came over to my office and he opened up the Little Tree within a matter of seconds.  I have to say, I was disappointed when he did it.  I wanted to solve the puzzle, but I also was saddened by how simple it was.  But he enjoyed it and as long as someone did, that's all that matters.  No, I'm not being 100% truthful.  I too enjoyed the puzzle, just not as I wanted to.  I mean, it's not fair when someone else solves your puzzle before you is it?

Ok, this back story has a purpose.  Otis enjoyed that puzzle and others from the Karakuri group so much that he had to go get some of his own, and Box with a tree was one of them.  I was glad he did,because I had the opportunity to play with it.  I watched Otis open the puzzle, and was surprised by how simple it looked.  At the exhibition/competition venue I gave it a miss.  Later when we were sitting down to lunch, I went ahead and gave it a go.  Not so easy.  I fiddled and fiddled and got no where, then suddenly out of the blue the puzzle opened.  Ha!  I knew what I did.  So I shut it up again and blast!  I couldn't replicate my moves.  The box was locked tight.  We played some more, we talked some more, we ate some more.  And all the while I tried to get that box open.   Otis to the rescue.  He gave me a few hints.  Very slowly. (I guess he thought I was being thick!)  And bam!  Opened again.  Wow!  What a tickle that was.  Back to the big toothy grin!  It's a great little puzzle, and I'm glad I had the chance to play with it.  Thanks Otis!

Warning: opened box below, proceed at your own risk. (But it really won't help you much-all the puzzle mechanism bits are very securely hidden beneath the box in the box.)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Otis' visit

Through the wonder that is the internet, a year or so ago I 'met' a puzzler from Beijing.  He said he was coming to HK for a visit and would like to meet me.  Ok says I.  SmaZ's shop.  (well, you can't be too careful, you never know what kind of nutters you meet, and although I might be a tough cookie, physically I'm still a 'little girl') So meet we did and as it turns out, he's a nice chap.  Well mannered too.  His momma taught him right.

So last year I invited him over to see some of my toys.  He really seemed to enjoy it from his posts about the visit both on TP and on Mf8.  Since it is the Chinese New Year holiday and I knew Otis would be coming to HK to visit his family again, once more I invited him over.  Last year we looked under the bed. This year, I let him open a balcony cabinet.  He only managed to open 3 plastic boxes and two cardboard ones.  He also found a big blue bag full of wooden puzzles.

I had to laugh because when he opened the first box he began to pull out puzzles and kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to keep those on the balcony.  Mind, I understand that when you don't have something you desire and I just casually toss them all on the balcony it's a big deal.  In this case the big deal were 4 dogic's (yes, one was the Hungarian original and to please Otis, it is now in the house!), a logi-VIP, and a florescent stickered megaminx.  Ok, so I've had these all for quite some time, and simply don't care where they live as long as they live and I can pull them out every now and again.

The first box he reached into was full of odd shaped puzzles: dodecahedrons of varying types, pyramids, name it, it was in there.  The next box was full of balls. The big blue bag was next, and that was later followed by boxes of puzzles from IPP.

Otis mentioned that he was more of a sequential twisty type person so I showed him a few nice ones that I managed to pick up this year.  And he took photos of probably everything he saw. Well, most everything.  There were still loads of IPP puzzles he didn't photograph.  And me being the good friend I am pulled out the light box and set it up so he could take some nice photos.

He very kindly gave us a CNY gift.  And bug just loved the Paul Frank gift he brought her!  Thank you so much Mr. Otis.

He also very nicely helped me to reassemble a puzzle that had gotten broken a while ago and I'm grateful.  It was a two person job!

As for the rest of you.  As long as you're willing to meet me at SmaZ's so I can suss out the safety concerns I always have....You are more than welcome to come visit my little puzzle mess.  Mind, you do have to pick up after yourself! (I made Otis put everything back the way he found it-minus one or two puzzles I decided I wanted to try!)  Next year?  We open another balcony cabinet!  There are still many many more puzzles he hasn't gotten into.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's a small world

 I know people say that, but really, it is!  I have proof right here!

Apparently I know this guy.  Ok, so here is a story for you.  At IPP last August, we took this boat ride.  Katherine being herself got bored and decided to go bother people.  Me being me went hunting for her.  She found this little guy that she thought was adorable and began chasing him around the boat.  I'm not sure who enjoyed that more, him or her.  So IPP is over and we all go on our merry way...
Fast forward 6 months and enter SmaZ's shop. It was one of those days.  I spent a good 3 hours in a meeting, fielded around 70 emails about wiki being down-at least 50 came from one rather um....challenged....young person who couldn't find the library even though it's right in front of you when you enter the campus, and when he did find it didn't know how to use the card catalog, even though it's on line, dealt with some puzzle nonsense that I'd rather not deal with, and Michael asked me a question.  Well that was all it took.  I was on a Rant!  A long winded rather vocal one.  And all the while the man in the photo above is standing in the shop.  I paid no attention until he asked a question about a cube.  And there you have it folks.  Rox sticking her foot in it again.  Well, he stayed and chatted for a bit.  Solved a mimi puzzle, played with the washer cylinder and discovered a little something I hadn't (still not solved though).  SmaZ gave him a gift of a puzzle, and he purchased a dino barrel and left to go back to Denmark.  Talk about great timing.  Things like this just don't happen do they?  Ah, and go take a look at his webpage.  A bit of eye candy there, that's for sure.

So why go to SmaZ's in the first place?  My friend Otis is in town for the holidays and we agreed to meet up over there.  (I'm sure he'll come to the house and play for a while next week, but we had some puzzles to swap out with each other....) After we met at 6:30 or so, we stayed a Michael's for a few more hours before heading out for dinner.  As always we each brought a few puzzles along to play with/brag on so out they came during dinner!  Otis brought that beauty of a TomZ puzzle with and I quite enjoyed twisting it around.  Lots of puzzle talk, lots of playing, one unsolved as I left, and no puzzles harmed during the night!

And now for the real reason to get together last night.  Puzzle exchanging!
I gave Otis my 'springtime in Wisconsin' and a puzzle monster.  I think he liked them.  If not, he smiled nicely.  He brought me a set of 6 dice boxes from mimi puzzles that Gabriel blogged about, and that I can't get locally.  Surprise, surprise, he ALSO brought along a BLUE puzzle for me, and 3 chinese knots....

Michael and I did a bit of swapping as well.  I got one of his new Soduko cubes, and gave him a Oskar's treasure chest.  Yes, I'm generous like that.  Don't tell on me though.  I'll get in trouble.  The full set of what I brought home is to the left.

Now when I got home, I had another surprise waiting for me!  I picked up the mail and inside was a late Christmas gift from my friend Charlie!  I thank you so very much.  A nice job it turned out to be.  And how ever did you know that blue is my favorite color????  Thank you again my friend!
 reviews of these will all come eventually.  In the mean time, I have this thing called a job that I'm supposed to be doing, and I've got about 10 minutes to cut off my time so I need to get back out and get working a bit more.  I can't let a person 10 years my senior beat me in the next race, and as it stands, if I don't start moving and stop puzzling that's exactly what is going to happen.  Have a great weekend all!  And in case I don't get another post in before Monday: