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MIT student blogger Laura N. '09

I’m still here. by Laura N. '09


Whew. It’s been awhile. Um…so what I’ve come to realize is that IAP is supposed to be this easy, carefree “ooh I’m going to take one three-credit class that meets twice a week for an hour and spend the rest of my time sleeping.” But then I had to be like “nah, I’m going to take a class that meets for 9 hours a day 4 days of the week. That sounds like a plan!”

Well anyway, I just got 11 hours of sleep last night, so I finally feel functional enough to update!

Ok, first things first: we have a new blogger! Yay! Go check out Luis’s Blog and say hi.

Next, Mystery Hunt! Yes I know it was a week ago, but I’ve been tired, ok? Anyway, if you check out the Mystery Hunt Website, you can check out all of the puzzles, metapuzzles, and some data about teams involved in the hunt. One of my absolute favorites was one that I didn’t even remotely work on: No Silver Lining. I’ll give you all a few days to work on it, then I’ll tell you the funny story behind it. Mysterious Cry, Quiet Habit was also a great puzzle. It was one of the most annoying (and therefore most rewarding) puzzles in the hunt. It took us about 15 man-hours to solve. Finally, this puzzle was the most fun: Denial.

Keep in mind that this is just a sampling. I slept a lot during Mystery Hunt, so I missed a lot of puzzles. The above featured puzzles were just some of my personal favorites. In a few days I’ll reveal their secrets. =)

I’m going to explain to you why Mystery Hunt is so much fun. Imagine this: you’ve got this huge group of people sitting around in a classroom. The chalkboards are covered with color-coded diagrams, zip codes, cities, reconstructed scrabble boards, mock licensce plate numbers, and about 3 million sets of scrambled letters that mean nothing to anyone…yet. There are tangles of extension cords all over the room, and every laptop has a browser open to either,,, or some crossword solver website. Every once in awhile someone shouts out, “quick, name a color that starts with g!” or “Hey, who knows the name of that movie where…” or “artist! The second word is artist! Write that down!” Suddenly, the Mario Theme sounds throughout the room, which means that someone submitted a request to check an answer through the website and the designated cell phone with the Mario ringtone is ringing. The room falls silent and some anxious person who’s been working on the same puzzle for the last 4 hours answers the phone. “Hello, this is death.” (The team name is “Death from Above.” It makes sense. Even if it is disturbing.) *pause* “Yes, we’d like to check the answer “BATHTUB.” That’s B-A-T-H-T-U-B.” *pause* “Yes, thank you.” The person hangs up and announces to the room that they were right, and everyone cheers. And the puzzle solving continues.

I have just one more comment about Mystery Hunt, and that is this: no idea is crazy. Ever. For one puzzle, a group of people had done a bunch of work, and had 3 sets of data- there were 17 rows, and each row had a word or phrase, a number, and a letter. They had no idea what to do with all of this, and after hours of feeling like they were banging their heads against a wall, they finally gave up. I came along and had nothing to do, so I tried to find a rule that would allow me to rearrange the rows in a way that would give more information. I tried about 15 different ideas, and none of them worked. (It turned out we still needed more information anyway.) Someone came over and asked how I was arranging them. “Oh, well I was just alphabetizing the words by their last letter.” This well-meaning person, suddenly concerned for my mental health, physically dragged me away from the blackboard and gave me something else to do. Hours later, someone else found some more information and managed to solve the puzzle. The next day, we went to the wrap-up, where the hunt organizers explained how some of the puzzles worked. They claimed that the solution to one of the metas was given by reading the first letter in each word of the meta. Someone in the audience shouted out, “how do you arrange them so that it works?” And do you know what they said?

“Oh, you alphabetize the words by their last letter.”

Thank you and good night.

In other news, my weekend has been amazing. I have basically done nothing, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although last night, Becky and Sam and Sarah and I all went grocery shopping together. Becky and I bought, among other things, 3.5 pounds of chicken (!!), and made paella. It was awesome. I’m learning how to cook. And the food came out really good, too.

Anyway, today is the Mafia Potluck with New House 4. I will be making nachos. It promises to be a fun time.

Coming soon- an entry with all of the two dozen photos I’ve taken for this blog but haven’t yet gotten around to posting. Promise!

5 responses to “I’m still here.”

  1. mE says:

    Hi! That was really funny :-D ….

    you alphabetize the words by their last letter…

    It’s such a good feeling in the end :D , isn’t it ?

    Bye bye

  2. Shannon says:

    Sorry for being slightly off-topic:

    I know you took Spanish in high school- did you read any literature? In short, my school isn’t exactly the ideal place to study Spanish, so I was wondering if you knew of any good titles I could read. I just feel like I need some good immersion.

  3. Sound Quality was by far my favorite. Blue Steel comes in at a close second. Honorable mention: Long Division. God that was a good one.


  4. Dember says:

    Hi Laura, when you said you were Laura from the blog I couldn’t believe you were really one of the legendary bloggers. Now I’m even more convinced that MIT is the best place to be confused at. Thanks again. Counting the days until CPW…

  5. Fanny says:

    I just got off the phone with you about a minutes ago.


    Also, Mystery Hunt is love.

    I’ll try to hit you up at CPW, I’ll bring you a cartoon full of confetti filled eggs. We’ll smash the state in rainbow colors.