Monday, May 17, 2010

Page 13 Postmortem

Before I begin the item by item breakdown, I just wanted to say that this year, my fifth Hunt, was the best I've ever had. I also wanted to add that of the many items that I had the privilege to Judge this year, there were exactly zero egregious fakes (I didn't draw any goatees or ingest any non-food items this year), which is more than anyone could ever ask for. Everyone who presented me with items did so with honesty and fun, and I really appreciated that. It made the Hunt more fun for me to see that people were putting their hearts into it, and I hope that you all had more fun because of it.

Item 212: A fully working padlock, demonstrably openable, to be delivered to the Judges at 3 pm on Thursday in the Reynolds Club South Lounge. [6 points]
Everyone (except for Lanie and T-Rex) managed to complete this item on time. Many formidably unhackable locks were submitted, but none more so than MacPierce's nobody-is-going-to-pick-this-lock lock, a combination lock that relied on the vertical and horizontal manipulation of a toggle rather than dialing a wheel.

Item 213: Perform a bel canto rendition of "Inside the Particle Storm" by Dark Tranquillity. Then perform a death metal vocals rendition of "Libiamo ne' lieti calici" by Giuseppe Verdi. [12 points, 5 bonus points if the same vocalist performs both songs
This item turned out better than I could possibly have hoped for. I had great fun listening to people attempt to exercise the full range of human vocal styles. All of the entries were either great or, if not great, bizarre and entertaining. MVP: Breckinridge. Team Breckinridge had instrumental accompaniment for both of their songs. For the bel canto, one of their team members wrote out a full piano and vocal arrangement and provided me with the sheet music to follow along with. Their completion of the item was far above and beyond what was asked for. It was wonderful to see their team put a ton of time into perfecting this item just for the sake of having fun and doing something well, not just for getting points. This, along with the sheet music was easily among the best things I saw at Judgment this year. MVP: BJ. Ms. Buras from BJ also came up with her own classical arrangement for the bel canto part of the item. Her rendition of the song is different from Breckinridge's and is also a lot of fun.

Item 214: Oh no! One of those dastardly Judges has absconded with a jarful of your points!
For those of you who don't know the punchline yet, the only thing inside the jar was a red herring (which was only a red herring and not a real clue). I got a really terrific facepalm from Sam Bloom when he heard about the red herring. Each jar handed out had been marked by the Judges' fingerprints. The intent was for each team to lift the prints from the jar and then, by handing the Judges items (or booze), fingerprinting the Judges and determining who had touched the jar. MVP: No team actually completed this, but team BJ came awfully close. BJ did almost everything right, ignoring the red herring, finding the prints, and handing the Judges beer during HQ visits in order to get their fingerprints. The only Judge who touched their beer during the visit happened to be the one who took their points, but they were unable to successfully make that connection. In the car afterwards a few of the Judges thought it was strange how BJ acted when we didn't drink their beer, but shrugged it off saying, "there's no way they're that clever." It turns out that they are that clever! So close and yet so far: During the Breckinridge visit, while I asked their captains about Item 214, Anya appeared out of nowhere to hand everyone cups of pudding. I (who had stolen the points from Breck's jar) took one, put my fingerprints all over it, and put it back in the tray, thinking that the surprise pudding could only be a clever ruse to trick us into revealing the answer to 214. Unfortunately, immediately after I put the cup back Anya went around to give the pudding to her own teammates instead of the other Judges...

Item 215: Deliver a message to the Judges stating just how much you love them using a computer program compiled from fewer than 100 lines of obfuscated FORTRAN.
I received a lot of great entries for this one, and I'm glad teams put so much effort into it. MVP: Team The GASH. While their entry was not the most confusing and impenetrable, it did use character manipulation to produce a fun result: The user entered the name of one of the active Judges (for example, "Leah") into the program and received as output: Leah, Leah bo-beah!/Banana-fana-fo-feah!/Mi my mo meah/ Leah!

Item 216: Jeff Smith's Bone illustrated deck of cards. Dave Sim's Cerebus illustrated Diamondback deck. Sergio Aragones's Groo the Wanderer card game. Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo RPG. Vintage only.
These four things are all merchandise associated with important black and white independent comics that began in the 80's and 90's. I have tried unsuccessfully to find each of these myself, but since this is the year of the go-find-it I thought it appropriate for other teams to find them for me. MVP: Team The GASH, the only team that made it possible for me to hold any one of these, the Usagi Yojimbo RPG, in my hands . LVP: Team The FIST, who misunderstood the phrase "vintage only" and handed me a deck of cards with photocopied panels from Bone taped to them.

Item 217: Put the Kindle back in kindling. It doesn't need to be completely gutted and ruined by fire, but we do want to see your Kindle cheerfully ablaze.

So, it turns out that the Kindle didn't actually get its name because we can burn all of our books now that a booklike electronic reader is commercially available, but that should be where the name comes from. No team was brave enough to trash their expensive electronics, but team Max P had the courage to pour inflammable liquid on the back of their Kindle (proudly displaying page 1 of Farenheit 451 "It was a pleasure to burn" on the front) and light the surface on fire.

218: Everyone knows the one about the Higgs boson and the clown walking into the bar, but when was the last time you heard a really good HIPS joke? Compile department-specifc jokes from as many different academic departments as you can. Faculty should tell jokes about their own departments and they should be recorded on video so we can all enjoy them.

I got a lot of great entries for this one, and it sounded like people had a whole lot of fun doing this. In totall teams submitted at least a hundred different jokes, including jokes in ASL and Mandarin. I'm still waiting for the videos to come in, but I have provided Max P's videos below for people who would like a sample. MVP: Both Snitchcock and BJ managed to find the most jokes, with 23 jokes each.

219: Bring documents proving that the notorious Prawo Jazdy is one of your teams members.

Over the years, Prawo Jazdy has racked up dozens and dozens of traffic offenses in English speaking countries like Ireland. The trouble is that Prawo Jazdy means nothing more than "driver's license" in Polish. The IgNobel prize for literature was awarded last year to the Irish police for awarding more than 50 traffic tickets to a Mr./Mrs. Jazdy. A number of teams thought that I wanted a fake ID with a team member's name replaced by Prawo Jazdy, I was hoping for teams to track down an actual Polish driver's license. MVP: If I recall correctly, BJ was the only team to give me an actual polish driver's license instead of a poorly made fake ID. LVP: The Judges intercepted and internal communique from one of the teams where the person responsible for this item asked for help: "Is there anyone who knows someone named Jazdy?"

220: Pop a balloon inside another balloon. Both balloons must have taut surfaces. Do not violate the topological integrity of the outer balloon.

I honestly thought that this had a correct answer: use a concentrated light source to heat the inner balloon without heating the outer balloon. I was surprised that of the many teams that completed this no team used that method, and that many teams came up with ingenious ways to accomplish this. Team Snitchcock filled the outer balloon with liquid which made it possible to put extra pressure on the inner balloon so that it would pop if one squeezed the outer balloon properly. Team Scampi used a chemically coated needle to pierce through both balloons but form a seal as one withdrew the needle from the balloon. Nicely done!

221: A dress tailored to fit the University of Chicago's 1971 homecoming queen, to be modeled by her or a close relative at Judgment.

For those of you who don't know the story, the 1971 homecoming queen was a refrigerator. There is a picture of me with the lovely ladies here:

222: Construct a functioning solid-state transistor from scratch.

The solid-state transistor is one of the most important inventions of the 20th century. It has allowed for the development of switches, digital electronics, and fast, space-efficient storage and processing of data. The best thing about it, however, is that pictures of the original looks like it was made out of paper clips and scotch tape. In other words, it looks like something that was made for Scav Hunt. MVP: Snitchcock. Very few teams got very far with this one, but Snitchcock was able to definitively demonstrate that they had created a digital FET switch from scratch. MVP: Breckinridge. Their device did not work as perfectly as Snitchcock's, but it did demonstrate nonlinear current flow.

223: Scavenger Hunt-Themed ScrabbleTM tableau: Use exactly one complete set of ScrabbleTM tiles to compose a single-sentence ode to your team's magnificence.

A Scrabble Tableau is a fun little exercise that I have seen completed in honor of the champions at big tournaments. There were a lot of good entries, but I don't remember any specific ones at this point. If you have one from your team, please get it to me if you can.

224: It is said that only love could pick a nested pair of steel Bramah locks. Without love, a full two days of work was necessary. This means that you'll have more than enough time to safely pick any of the locks located in plain sight in front of the Reg, beginning at 4 pm on Thursday.

I was really surprised when a small crowd of people showed up at exactly 4 pm and eagerly charged the place where the locks had been put up, crowding and elbowing one another out of the way to be the first ones to reach the locks. I (as well as the representative from BJ) honestly thought that nobody could possibly succeed and that most of the locks would remain obstinately attached to the chain. I returned an hour later after Elephant Polo to see that of the 13 locks only 4 were left. I remain very impressed. MVP: Macpierce. Not only did one guy bring us the nobody-is-going-to-pick-this-lock lock (the only one to remain uncracked come Sunday), but he apparently broke through no fewer than 7 locks before anyone else noticed what was happening. Very impressive.

225. Demonstrate Action Units 2 and 29, and while you're at it wiggle each of your ears, one at a time. [18 points]

Facial Action Units are isolated muscle movements of certain parts of the face. 2 is raising the outsides of your eyebrows (only used in Kabuki). 29 is a jaw thrust, a motion significantly easier than 39, which is nostril contraction. Admittedly, there was a typo on the list, and it took me a while during Judgement to realize that the typo was there. We will do better next time. MVP: Do you know who can contract his nostrils? SamPH.

226. A soap bubble in the shape of a platonic solid. Bubble solution only, no wire frames. [7 points]

This turned out to be really cool, as people used straws to control the size of each bubble in order to optimize the shape of their platonic solid. MVP: Scampi, who were able to set up and show me both a tetrahedron and a cube in less than a minute.

89. Ride the rails with the roving little Jollyball and see the sights of the country of your choice.

This was like a dream come true. Thank you all for making this Judge extremely happy.

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