Sunday, June 30, 2013

Keep on Trucking

Here's this week's NPR Puzzle:
It involves a spoonerism, in which you reverse the initial consonant sounds in one phrase to make another phrase. For example, if you spoonerize "light rain," you get "right lane." Name part of a truck in two words; spoonerize it, and you'll name something FEMA uses. What is it?
Ross got this one, which led to a very surreal conversation about a feature of UPS trucks. I'll see if I can get a photo of THAT by Thursday.

 It's safe to predict that you managed to solve the puzzle without any surreal conversations, instead taking your answer straight to the NPR Contact Us form found here.

Someone asked for an update on my health. Happy to oblige, although it's not going to endear anyone to the medical profession. I am improving everyday--lung function, appetite, stamina. It's all good. I would love to get off the IV-antibiotics, especially before school starts. (I'm in a low-residency MFA course that requires me to be in Maine for ten days in July.) At the same time, I respect the concerns of my infectious disease specialist, who wants me to have another two weeks of the IV-antibiotics. After that, well, he'd like me to have another CT scan...only that's when I'm in Maine for school.

We saw this specialist on Friday. I pushed him to let me switch to oral antibiotics, just for the two weeks while I'm in school. His problem is that the remaining infection in my right lung is "loculated," a fancy word for a sort-of honeycomb structure that encases the infection. When I asked if that bit of the infection is shrinking, the specialist said he didn't know, and that a cardio-thoracic surgeon needs to assess that.


Ross and I got CDs loaded with my two CT scans, taken a month apart. Those CDs have been Fed-Ex'd to my primary care physician in Philadelphia, whom I trust to be sensible. He can ask a thoracic surgeon to review the scans and see if I need surgery. (There's a minimally-invasive procedure, VATS, that cleans out the honeycomb, in effect.)

Here's my theory about medical specialists: If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The infectious disease specialist wants me to have more IV-antibiotics because that's his hammer. The thoracic surgeon will probably say I need VATS, which is his hammer. What I want to know is if the VATS can wait another three weeks so that I can go to school as planned. I'm counting on my PCP to be the sensible one--he doesn't have a hammer in this case.

That's where we are. If I have more news on Thursday, I'll share it. Then the blog will be on a school-related sabbatical until July 21, when I'll have yet more news. But the real story is that I am getting better. No worries there.

Photos: I typed FEMA into Flickr and found a lot of photos loaded by someone who goes by Smiteme. They all show post Hurricane Katrina damage. I'd forgotten the efforts many people made to rescue pets, so I have heart-warming dog and kitten photos as well. (I eschewed the anti-FEMA sentiment photos, not because the agency doesn't deserve that reaction but because some of the language is uh, a bit coarse.) You can click on the photos to get to their Flickr pages.

Time for
This is where we ask you how many entries you think NPR will get for the challenge above. If you want to win, leave a comment with your guess for the range of entries NPR will receive. First come first served, so read existing comments before you guess. Or skip the comments and send an email with your pick to Magdalen (at) Crosswordman (dot) com. Ross and I guess last, just before we publish the Thursday post. After the Thursday post is up, the entries are closed. The winner gets a puzzle book of our choosing or a contribution to The One Fund Boston (or the American Red Cross, currently helping communities hit by tornadoes) in the winner's honor.

Over 900 correct entries this week. Joe Kupe, you are the winner! Let us know which prize you'd like. Everyone else can mop up their tears of defeat and guess again to have a chance to win.

Here are the ranges:
Fewer than 50       
51 - 100
101 - 150
151 - 200
201 - 250
251 - 300
301 - 350
351 - 400
401 - 450
451 - 500

501 - 550
551 - 600
601 - 650
651 - 700
701 - 750
751 - 800
801 - 850
851 - 900
901 - 950
951 - 1,000
1,001 - 1,050         
1,051 - 1,100
1,101 - 1,150
1,151 - 1,200
1,201 - 1,250
1,251 - 1,300
1,301 - 1,350
1,351 - 1,400
1,401 - 1,450
1,451 - 1,500

1,501 - 1,550
1,551 - 1,600
1,601 - 1,650
1,651 - 1,700
1,701 - 1,750
1,751 - 1,800
1,801 - 1,850
1,851 - 1,900
1,901 - 1,950
1,951 - 2,000
2,001 - 2,050
2,051 - 2,100
2,101 - 2,150
2,151 - 2,200
2,201 - 2,250
2,251 - 2,300
2,301 - 2,350
2,351 - 2,400
2,401 - 2,450
2,451 - 2,500

2,501 - 2,750
2,751 - 3,000
3,001 - 3,250
3,251 - 3,500
3,501 - 4,000
4,001 - 4,500
4,501 - 5,000

More than 5,000
More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.
Our tie-break rule:   In the event that a single round number is announced with a qualifier such as "about" or "around" (e.g., "We received around 1,200 entries."), AND two separate people picked the ranges of numbers just before and just after that round number, the prize will be awarded to whichever entrant had not already won a prize, or in the event that both entrants had won a prize already or neither had, then to the earlier of the two entries on the famous judicial principle of "First Come First Serve," (or in technical legal jargon, "You Snooze, You Lose").  As of July 2012, this rule is officially no longer obsolete (and also I just like having fine print). 


EKW said...


I am glad to hear that you are getting better. I hope you get to Maine on schedule.

This is a short week. I'll guess 501-550.



Anonymous said...

I'll go with 551 - 600. So glad that you're making progress with your health.

Word Woman said...

How about 801-850, please?

Yes, glad your health is improving, Magdalen. Here's hoping you will be able to have a Maine attraction in July.

skydiveboy said...


Paul said...

701-750. The American Red Cross is feeling lucky this week.
Sounds like you're managing your health sagaciously enough; I'm now officially worrying about Blaine.

Mendo Jim said...

Your situation makes me furious,so I can only imagine how you feel.
I hope the hospital and your doctors are taking responsibility for the stubborn infection.

This week's puzzle is the easiest in months, but a rise in participation is probably not going to follow.
651 looks open.

Joe Kupe said...

401 - 450 please!

Happy to hear I won last week. As I often am on my daily run when I finally solve the puzzle please go ahead and take my prize and donate it to The One Fund Boston.

Evryone have a safe Fourth and stay clean!

David said...

Almost forgot this was a short week. I'll head back to 1001 to 1050.

Joe, good to see another runner/puzzle-solver.

Ross Beresford said...

Thanks Joe .... just sent another $10 to One Fund Boston in your honor. Happy fourth everyone from Crossword Man (born in the USA on January 5, 2011).

Word Woman said...

Born, not made? ;-) I just asked a British friend if it was rude to bring up Independence Day. No word from her yet!

Have a great fourth! (Welcome to the fold.)

Word Woman said...

Update: My British friend reports not studying American history in secondary school and being vaguely aware of our Independence Day "about 200 years ago."

Ross Beresford said...

Same for me: my history teachers studiously avoided ERAS when Britain was on the losing side. My knowledge of the 18th and 19th centuries is accordingly lacking.

Word Woman said...

I find that fascinating.

In summers past, I helped my boyfriend sell peaches at Farmer's Markets on the weekends. We've had students from Serbia, Scotland and England on work visas helping us. One fellow was asking Rachel where she was from. When she replied "The UK," the guy said "You...speak...really ...good...English..."

So I guess it goes both ways.