Sunday, October 11, 2009

NPR Puzzle 10/11/09 -- Higher Education

We gather Will Shortz was the keynote speaker at Portland State University, which gave him the idea for his on-air puzzle. We're in Florida, so we'll see if we can't do something similar for the value-added puzzle here.

In the meantime, though, here's this week's puzzle:
Think of a beverage with a 2-word name. The first word has 3 letters and the second word has 9. Arrange the letters of the 9-letter word in a 3x3 box with the first 3 letters across the top, the middle 3 across the center and the last 3 across the bottom. If you've named the right beverage, you can read down the center column to get the 3-letter word in the beverage's name. What beverage is this?
No surprise that we used TEA to solve this one. The *** ********* letter pattern is pretty distinctive. We could even have tried 123 *1**2**3* -- where the answer to today's puzzle is the only valid solution.

Here's Ross & Mimi in "the Vault," a feature of the Sheraton's lobby in Columbia, South Carolina. We gather it's now a bar, but of course at 9:15 a.m., Ross was the only one hanging around. The Sheraton Columbia is in a renovated bank, so much of the original detail is incorporated into the lobby; below is a detail from the floor, a mosaic X of the ubiquitous (in South Carolina) palmetto palm.

The Sheraton is just a few blocks from the state capitol, an impressive Greek Revival structure with a dome. A former boss of mine was intrigued by the list of states that have state capitols without domes. Albany, NY (my former home) is one; Bismarck, North Dakota is another. I gather Alaska is on the list, but alas I was sick that day on the cruise and missed it.

I would have taken pictures of the S.C. capitol but each of the times I walked by it, there was another agenda at work: getting our supper, walking the dog, and -- just before we left the area -- buying some hand-towels for our hostess. (One says, "I may not know much about football, but I know a tight end when I see one," the other has a quail-like bird in a helmet and the caption, "Football Chick." In point of fact, Sharyn is VERY knowledgeable about football. Ross is looking forward to getting a tutorial this afternoon during the Eagles/Bucs game!)

Here's Ross on his LandRollers. This is a riverside park centered on the Columbia Canal, which runs alongside the Congaree River. While Ross was going back to the car to collect his rollerblading kit, I stopped on a wooden bridge and was just about to photograph a white heron and a great blue heron down on the rocks of the river when I noticed a flashing red light and a sign that explained that an alarm and the flashing light signified the flood gates were going to open. Sure enough, there was suddenly a flood of water below me and the herons both flew off.

After Ross had rolled his fill, we went looking for the herons. The white one was back in her (his?) original spot, and while we watched she (he?) leaned down a plucked a fish from the canal runoff. Not exactly "nature red in tooth and claw," but still cool to see.

Will's on-air puzzle was based on PSU, but that's the opposite corner of the Continental US from us, so we'll stick to Florida universities. The big three -- at least in terms of athletics -- are FSU, U of Florida, and Miami U. Thus, where Will clued two-word phrases in the pattern of P-- SU--, I'm going to mix it up. The following clues are all to two-word phrases, but they could be F-- SU--, U-- F-- or M-- U--. I've used three of each.

Uses a yardstick to get dimensions

Prime condition for a high SPF?

The Stars and Stripes

A single theory to explain all natural phenomena


David Beckham's former football club

Cod-liver oil, eg

Play along

Think about

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