Friday, March 29, 2013

Over 8,600, PRESHORTZIAN in a Grid, Martin Ashwood-Smith on "Dip," and Publicity

We've now litzed more than 8,600 puzzles!  On Thursday Jeffrey Krasnick sent in a batch that put us over this milestone, so we're now on our way to 8,700.  Great job, everybody!

A few days ago I received an e-mail from litzer Martin Ashwood-Smith about something he thought I'd enjoy seeing—it turned out to be a grid he'd built with PRESHORTZIAN at 1-Across!  I'm delighted to reproduce it for you below—thanks, Martin!  Maybe someday "pre-Shortzian" will indeed appear in the OED! ;)

Martin also sent in the following last Sunday, in response to last week's humorous typo involving NERD:

The typo/mistake for NERD "A real dip" (vs: "A real drip") may not be a typo. Back in the 70s "dip" also meant "loser". Here's a citation (at the very end):

dip  (dp)

v. dippeddip·pingdips
1. To plunge briefly into a liquid, as in order to wet, coat, or saturate.
2. To color or dye by immersing: dip Easter eggs.
3. To immerse (a sheep or other animal) in a disinfectant solution.
4. To form (a candle) by repeatedly immersing a wick in melted wax or tallow.
5. To galvanize or plate (metal) by immersion.
6. To scoop up by plunging the hand or a receptacle below the surface, as of a liquid; ladle: dip water out of a bucket.
7. To lower and raise (a flag) in salute.
8. To lower or drop (something) suddenly: dipped my head to avoid the branch.
9. Slang To pick the pockets of.
1. To plunge into water or other liquid and come out quickly.
2. To plunge the hand or a receptacle into liquid or a container, especially so as to take something up or out: I dipped into my pocket for some coins.
3. To withdraw a small amount from a fund: We dipped into our savings.
4. To drop down or sink out of sight suddenly: The sun dipped below the horizon.
5. To drop suddenly before climbing. Used of an aircraft.
6. To slope downward; decline: The road dipped.
7. To decline slightly and usually temporarily: Sales dipped after Christmas.
8. Geology To lie at an angle to the horizontal plane, as a rock stratum or vein.
a. To read here and there at random; browse: dipping into Chaucer.
b. To investigate a subject superficially; dabble: dipped into psychology.
10. Slang To steal by picking pockets.
1. A brief plunge or immersion, especially a quick swim.
2. A liquid into which something is dipped, as for dyeing or disinfecting.
3. A savory creamy mixture into which crackers, raw vegetables, or other foods may be dipped.
4. An amount taken up by dipping.
5. A container for dipping.
6. A candle made by repeated dipping in tallow or wax.
7. A downward slope; a decline.
8. A sharp downward course; a drop: a dip in prices.
9. Geology The downward inclination of a rock stratum or vein in reference to the plane of the horizon.
a. Linguistics A part of a phrase or sentence that is unstressed or less strongly stressed relative to surrounding words, as the words I and to in I have to go.
b. Poetry The unstressed portion of a metrical foot.
11. Magnetic dip.
12. A hollow or depression.
13. Sports A gymnastic exercise on the parallel bars in which the body is lowered by bending the elbows until the chin reaches the level of the bars and then is raised by straightening the arms.
14. Slang A pickpocket.
15. Slang A foolish or stupid person.

Very interesting—thanks again, Martin!

The Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project received some new publicity this week:  T Campbell linked to the site from Amy Reynaldo's Diary of a Crossword Fiend.  Thanks so much, T!

Today I'm featuring the two pre-Shortzian "vanity puzzles" I've seen so far in which the constructor incorporated part of his or her name into the grid.  The earlier of the two, published on September 20, 1976, was constructed by Jack L. Steinhardt, edited by Will Weng, and litzed by Doug Peterson.  The constructor cleverly masked STEINHARDT (clued as "Envoy to Russia under F.D.R.") in a repeated sound theme of STEIN.  Steinhardt also included the entry STEINBERG, which he clued as "Comedian or conductor."  The comedian's full name is actually David Steinberg—I'm flattered!  If only he had clued STEINBERG as "Comedian or constructor-to-be". . . .  The theme is a bit inconsistent in that BEER STEIN is the only theme entry that isn't a person; also, STEINBECKS ("Author John and family") feels a little weak.  The nonthematic fill, on the other hand, is quite solid—the only mystery entry I see is CERMET ("Heat-resistant alloy").  This puzzle is very clever for a vanity puzzle, and it gets major bonus points in my book for including the entry STEINBERG!  The answer grid (with highlighted theme entries) can be seen below:

The second vanity puzzle, published on October 13, 1984, was constructed by Joe Clonick, edited by Eugene T. Maleska, and litzed by Andrew Feist.  Clonick cleverly split his name in the first two Across entries of this "themeless":  JOSEPH was clued as "Owner of a multicolored coat" and CLONIC (which was as close as Clonick could come to including his last name) was clued as "Spasmodic, as a muscle."  In addition, the constructor placed the entry VANITY ("Dressing table") symmetrical to CLONIC, which is how I came up with the term vanity puzzle in the first place.  The nonthematic fill feels decidedly more lively and contemporary than usual—I especially like the entries JANE DOE, MOLOTOV, JEDI, ICEBERG, and IMMINENT.  The JEDI clue, "They returned in a Lucas film," is particularly interesting—it was very unusual for a Maleska-era puzzle to reference current pop culture (Return of the Jedi came out just a year before this puzzle was published).  The clue "Rapper's article" for THA didn't exist yet (instead we get the more obscure clue "Fourth Arabic letter"), and admittedly, AURICLE ("Outer ear") and EVULSED ("Plucked forcibly") aren't the greatest.  Nevertheless, this is a very nice pre-Shortzian vanity puzzle.  The answer grid (with highlighted vanity entries) can be seen below:

The most recent Margaret Farrar–edited Sunday puzzle I litzed, titled "For Global Strategists," was almost like a snapshot of the world on March 22, 1942.  The constructor, Alma Talley, packed in lots and lots of geography-related entries and clued them according to their influence on World War II.  She also included many general war-related clues.  Below is a selection of the more interesting of these clue/entry pairs:
  • MALTA, clued as "On Britain's lifeline."
  • HAITI, "Good neighbor."
  • ESSEN, "R. A. F. target."
  • ANTIGUA, "U. S. naval base."
  • NICE, "City claimed by Italy."
  • DÉAT, "He didn't want to 'die for Danzig.'"
    • Refers to Marcel Déat, a French politician who admired Nazi Germany and published the controversial 1939 article "Why Die for Danzig?," in which he claimed that France had no interest in defending Poland against Hitler.
  • CHINA, "One of the United Nations."
  • TOTAL, "The kind of war this is."
  • CHILE, "A good neighbor."
  • THRACE, "Occupied Balkan territory."
  • RIOM, "Site of a famous trial."
    • Refers to the Riom Trial, during which Vichy France tried to prove that leaders of the French Third Republic were responsible for its 1940 defeat by Germany.
  • LIÈGE, "Heroic Belgian city."
  • DOMEI, "Source of bad news."
    • Domei was a Japanese telegraph agency.
  • ARGENTINA, "A hesitant good neighbor."
  • BELGRADE, "A blitzkrieged city." 
  • CHAD, "Free French territory."
  • OTORI, "Temporary name for Wake Island."
    • Wake Island was called Otori when the Japanese occupied it.
  • TOKYO, "One of our objectives."
  • MALAY, "Conquered native of Far East."
  • ARUBA, "Strategic oil center."
  • HESSIAN, "We fought this German in another war."
  • INDOCHINA, "An enemy base."
  • DRESDEN, "German city."
  • DELHI, "A GHQ for United Nations."
  • DUCE, "The heel of the boot."
  • JAVA, "Scene of a big naval battle."
  • RHINE, "Historically disputed river."
  • CONGO, "Territory in Africa."
  • ROME, "Enemy city."
  • GORT, "British general."
  • ICELAND, "American outpost."
  • LEAHY, "American ambassador."
  • EGYPT, "Country of British lifeline."
That's a lot of 1942-related clues/entries!  I'm surprised that Margaret allowed the constructor to use both INDOCHINA and CHINA in the same puzzle.  Nevertheless, this list is quite impressive!  Below is a map that shows what territories that Axis powers occupied in 1942:

Image courtesy of Iowa State University.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Publicity, Solution to Puzzle, Over 8,500, and Funny Typos

The Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project has received some more great publicity in the past couple of weeks!  Will Shortz's 2013 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament page linked to this blog, and litzer Jeffrey Krasnick mentioned the project in a comment on Amy Reynaldo's Diary of a Crossword Fiend.  Then Rex Parker (who, together with Matt Gaffney, will be discussing pre-Shortzian puzzles on this site in the near future) wrote about the project in his blog.  Thanks so much, everybody!

In other news, the solution to the Dorothea E. Shipp puzzle I posted on Scribd last week is now available—click here to see it.

Even though the second litzing contest has long since ended, we've continued to make excellent progress!  Denny Baker sent in several batches of puzzles that almost brought us to 8,500, and then on Tuesday, Jeffrey Krasnick put us over this major milestone!  We're currently sending out packets from March 1971, which is mind-blowing!

Before I get to the puzzle of the day, here are ten more funny typos our proofreaders have caught, which I've listed below in a new format:
  • Entry:  DOWSE
    • Right:  Use a divining rod
    • Wrong:  Use a diving rod
  • Entry:  ARAL
    • Right:  Caspian's eastern neighbor
    • Wrong:  Caspian's easter neighbor
  • Entry:  NUTMEGS
    • Right:  Some spices
    • Wrong:  Some species
  • Entry:  SHOE 
    • Right:  Kind of shine
    • Wrong:  Kind of shrine
  • Entry:  ROSE
    • Right:  Stein's flower
    • Wrong:  Stein's follower
  • Entry:  NERD
    • Right:  A real drip
    • Wrong:  A real dip
  • Entry:  NEU
    • Right:  Modern, in Mannheim
    • Wrong:  Modem, in Mannheim
  • Entry:  HERS
    • Right:  Towel word
    • Wrong:  Towel world
  • Entry:  LEA
    • Right:  Yarn measure
    • Wrong:  Yam measure
  • Copyright field (my personal favorite)
    • Right:  Will Weng
    • Wrong:  Willy Weng
Today's featured puzzle was constructed by Elaine D. Schorr.  I've seen lots of great Will Weng–edited crosswords by this constructor, many of which are lovely minithemes crammed into wide-open themeless grids.  Originally published on January 1, 1974, and recently litzed by Mark Diehl, this outside-the-box crossword features four simple math problems that lead to the digits 1, 9, 7, and 4, to kick off the year 1974!  It's very rare to see math in crossword puzzles, period (outside of the dreaded Roman numeral clues), let alone in pre-Shortzian puzzles.  This may in fact be the earliest puzzle to use math in a crossword!  The constructor not only included the four (albeit a bit forced) 15-letter math problems but also managed to make the fill quite clean.  I especially like the entries NO-HOW, SEES RED, and EDGES UP.  The puzzle does have its share of crosswordese (EVOE, RUGA, ORRA, TANO, etc.).  Nevertheless, this is a very creative and clever pre-Shortzian puzzle!  The answer grid (with highlighted theme entries) can be seen below:

Today's featured pre-Shortzian entry, HAMMERFEST, originally appeared in the April 8, 1972, crossword (constructor unknown), which was recently litzed by Todd McClary.  According to the Ginsberg database, HAMMERFEST has never been reused in a Shortz-era puzzle.  The original clue for HAMMERFEST was "Europe's northernmost city."  Merriam-Webster gives a much more detailed description of the town:
Northernmost town in Europe (pop., 2007: 9,391), on the island of Kvaløya, northwestern Norway. It was chartered in 1789, but most of it was destroyed by fire in 1891. Norway's first municipal hydroelectric station was built with its reconstruction. Germans occupied the town (1940–44); on their withdrawal, they blew up the installations and evacuated the population. The town has since been rebuilt. Despite its latitude, its harbour is ice-free year-round because of the warming North Atlantic Current. The sun shines continuously between May 17 and July 29, and there is no sunlight from November 21 to January 21. Tourism and fish-oil processing are important economically.
Even though Hammerfest isn't the most well-known Norwegian town, it sounds awesome and looks beautiful!  Below is a panoramic picture of Hammerfest:

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

ACPT Wrap-Up, Dorothea E. Shipp Puzzle, "Twenty Under Thirty" Now Available, and Over 8,400

This will be another shorter and earlier post than usual, because I'm busy catching up with all the work I missed while at the ACPT—and tomorrow I'm leaving for the California Junior Classical League State Convention in Irvine.  My posting should get back to its regular schedule next week, though; in the meantime, the new Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project Twitter page will have any news that comes up between now and then!

First, the ACPT . . . it was awesome!  I had so much fun meeting, reuniting with, and talking to everybody!  The litzer get-together on Friday afternoon was more sparsely attended than I'd expected, since quite a few people had their flights delayed by the bad weather in New York.  Still, several litzers were able to stop by, and we made it through at least some of the Oreos (though I brought back an unopened package on the plane!).  I met up with other litzers later; all told, there were 15 litzers (including me) at the ACPT—Howard Barkin, Peter Broda, Joe Cabrera, Andrew Feist, Vic Fleming, Mangesh Ghogre, Angela Halsted, Jeffrey Harris, Jeffrey Krasnick (wearing his Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project T-shirt!), Andrew Laurence, Parker Lewis, Tom Pepper, Doug Peterson, and Brad Wilber!  (If I've left anyone out, please let me know—it was all a whirlwind!)  I'll be sure to schedule any future litzer parties for sometime later that weekend so everyone will have arrived.  Here are a few litzer photos:

Me wearing the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project T-shirt
Me and Brad Wilber eating Oreos in the lounge!

Vic Fleming at the Oreo table
Howard Barkin in the tournament room

Jeffrey Krasnick in his Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project T-shirt

On Friday night, I gave a short talk about the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project—you can see a video of it below (or here on YouTube)—just click on the arrow to play it.  (Warning:  The video is a bit shaky at first, but it gets better quickly.)

In the video, I mention a flyer with a Will Weng–edited puzzle.  Unfortunately, because of a mix-up, that wasn't available, but if you'd like to try your hand at the amazing Dorothea E. Shipp 23 x 23 puzzle "Every Which Way" that was on the back of the flyer, I've posted it on Scribd, and you can download it here.  I'll post the solution next week.

You can see more ACPT photos and videos (as well as lots of interesting results!) by scrolling down on the official tournament Web site here.

In other news, I'm delighted to report that Twenty Under Thirty is now available!  Twenty Under Thirty is a collection of crosswords edited by Ben Tausig and written by twenty constructors under the age of thirty, including three litzers—Peter Broda, me, and Alex Vratsanos!  A PDF of the book is $5 and will be e-mailed to you; to order a copy, click here.

Finally, even with all the events of this past week, the litzing continued!  On Sunday, Mark Diehl sent in 13 puzzles and put us over 8,400 on the litzing thermometer—at this rate, I think there's a chance we'll be finished with all the litzing (though not all the proofreading!) within the next year or so!  Thanks again, everybody!

In honor of Joe Krozel's amazing 18-blocker that will appear in tomorrow's New York Times, today's featured puzzle has the lowest block count I've seen so far in a pre-Shortzian puzzle:  23.  XWord Info lists just 7 puzzles that contain 23 blocks, all of which were published in the Shortz era when computer software was available.

This lovely Maleska-edited puzzle, which was constructed by Adelyn Lewis and litzed by Jeffrey Krasnick, was originally published on January 13, 1979.  The fill is almost junk-free, and the constructor even managed to throw in a repeated prefix theme consisting of four intersecting 15-letter entries—wow!  The fill's highlights include ARSONIST, DEEP-SET, and BAD TIMES (cleverly clued as "Depressions and recessions").  The partial DE SACS and the French TAVERNE aren't my favorites, but they're a small price to pay for an otherwise brilliant, ahead-of-its-time puzzle!  The answer grid (with highlighted theme entries) can be seen below:

I can imagine that many solvers took offense at the entry WETBACK, which appeared in the May 27, 1986, puzzle by Burns (first name unknown) that was recently litzed by Bob Jones.  Maleska's clue for WETBACK was simply "Illegal border crosser."  However, I also encountered the entry WETBACK (at 1-Across) in the May 7, 1951, puzzle by Jack Luzzatto, which was recently litzed by yours truly.  I couldn't believe that Margaret Farrar published the clue "Mexican smuggled over the Rio Grande"!  The breakfast test must have had a very different meaning back in 1951.

On a more positive note, I saw a very clever clue for ANT in the March 24, 1951, puzzle by Harold T. Bers, which I also litzed:  "Small red socialist."  This clue was not only very current but also exceedingly clever for its time.  Bravo, Mr. Bers!  Below is a picture of a red ant:

Image courtesy of Southern Fire Ant Control.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Twitter—and the ACPT!

I'm happy to announce that the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project is now on Twitter!  To see the project's page, click on the icon in the righthand column.  For those of you on Twitter, this could be a good way to let others interested in the pre-Shortzian puzzles know about any observations you have or noteworthy entries or clues you come across.

This week's post is earlier and shorter than usual since I'm going to be at the ACPT over the weekend!  I'm looking forward to meeting (or reuniting) with litzers and fans of the Pre-Shortzian Puzzle Project.  While there, I'll be making a brief speech about the project, and flyers with one of the most brilliant pre-Shortzian puzzles I've seen so far will be distributed!

Today's featured puzzle, whose constructor is unknown, was originally published on March 15, 1973, and was recently litzed by Howard Barkin.  At first I assumed this puzzle was themeless—I've noticed that an increasing number of daily puzzles are themeless as we litz further back in the Weng era.  Once I looked more closely, however, I realized that the puzzle had a subtle, elegant theme.  Three other anagrams of 1-Across, 5-Across, and 1-Down are placed symmetrically around the grid.  It's amazing how the anagrams of 1-Across and 1-Down, which are all common words, intersect perfectly in every corner!  Also, the nonthematic fill is impressive, considering how many theme entries the constructor crammed into the grid.  I especially like the entries AIRSTRIP, POWERFUL, and LETDOWNS.  I've never heard of a SWEETSOP (clued as "Sugar apple"), but it looks pretty cool in the grid!  In sum, this is a solid pre-Shortzian puzzle with a simple, clever theme.  I've started to look much more carefully for themes so I don't miss any other gems like this puzzle!  The answer grid (with highlighted theme entries) can be seen below:

Today's featured pre-Shortzian entry is ELEEMOSYNARY.  ELEEMOSYNARY was originally used in the January 11, 1972, puzzle (constructor unknown), which was recently litzed by Howard Barkin.  Not surprisingly, the Ginsberg clue database shows that ELEEMOSYNARY has never been reused in a Shortz-era puzzle.  The original clue for ELEEMOSYNARY was "Charitable"; Webster defines eleemosynary as "of, related to, or supported by charity."  This bizarre word came from the late Latin eleemosyna  (from which the word alms is derived) and was first introduced into our language in 1616.  Below is a picture of the cover of Michael Sharp's and Patrick Blindauer's eleemosynary The American Red Crossword Book, which is dedicated to the victims of Hurricane Sandy and contains an introduction by Will Shortz.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Second Litzing Contest Winners, March Litzer of the Month, in 1971, Poll Update, and More Crossword Compiler Tips

The second litzing contest is now over, and I'm thrilled to report that we not only litzed 2,127 more puzzles in just two months, bringing us to 8,325 puzzles total, but we also passed the halfway point!  Awesome job, everyone—we're over the hump!

I'm also delighted to announce the contest's winners, with the number of puzzles they litzed in parentheses:

1.  Mark Diehl (625), who persevered to an amazing victory of man over machine!
2.  Howard Barkin (503), who has perfected the art of using OCR for litzing!
3.  Jeffrey Krasnick (204), who kept going despite needing to prepare for next week's ACPT!
4.  Barry Haldiman (32), who started it all and, appropriately enough, won the random drawing!

To see all the contest totals, click on the Contest Totals tab above.

Thanks so much again to Jim Horne, who provided year-long XWord Info subscriptions (or renewals) to the winners, and to Roy Leban, who gave Puzzazz e-books!

Howard Barkin, who performed prodigiously in this litzing contest, is the March Litzer of the Month!  To read more about Howard, click on the Meet the Litzers tab above or his photo in the righthand column.

I'm now sending out puzzles from 1971 to be litzed, and since we're approaching the legendary Sixties, I thought I'd start posting representative photos from the years we're in as we work our way backwards in time.  The photos will remind us of the times in which the pre-Shortzian constructors were building their puzzles!  Appropriately, the photo below is of the Intel 4004, the world's first commercially available single-chip microprocessor, which was introduced in November 1971:

Image courtesy of

Last week's poll asked whether you'd already known about Crossword Compiler's Insert Character window.  Apparently most people did:  66% said yes, and 33% said no.  Still, that's a sizable minority of constructors (including me!) who weren't familiar with this very useful feature.  In my post, I also asked readers to send in any other Crossword Compiler tips, and a couple of people did.

Mark Diehl wrote the following:

The insert character page shortcut (ctrl-S) doesn't seem to work from
the Review/edit clues page, which is where I do my clue entry Litzing.
 It does work from within the Edit clue page (as shown in your post).
I can move from the Review/edit page to the Edit page by hitting
Enter, but I find it is easier (for me) to enter the ALT code for
umlauts, etc., from within Review/edit.

One major shortcut I did discover a while ago is that you can make
acute accented vowels with the combination control and apostrophe and
then the particular vowel.  Control and grave (on my keyboard, up in the
left corner, sharing a key with ~) and the particular vowel will
produce grave accented vowels.  The majority of accented vowels in
clues are either acute or grave, so this short cut has worked very well
for me.

And Barry Haldiman noted:

BTW, I knew about the insert character in CC; I normally use “right-click,”
which brings up several options, including insert character.

I tried this, and when you do it, you get a whole menu of useful options, such as Character Map..., Insert Symbol, and Insert Character.  Thanks so much for these Crossword Compiler shortcuts, Mark and Barry!

Today's featured puzzle, "Literal Approach," was constructed by Bill Hartman.  According to my (still incomplete) records, Bill Hartman constructed just two pre-Shortzian puzzles, both of which were very high quality Sundays.  I'm featuring my favorite of the two.

The puzzle was originally published on September 21, 1975, and was recently litzed by Denny Baker.  This is definitely one of the most imaginative, innovative pre-Shortzian puzzles I've seen.  It features eight symmetrically interlocking theme entries that must be interpreted literally from their clues or placement in the grid.  For example, THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE (clued as "Observation on the ad era") is placed across the center of the puzzle.  Some of my other favorites include "(Sic)" (leading to CLUELESS ENTRY) and FOURTH DOWN (clued as "Last chance for the Jets" and literally placed at 4-Down).  What makes this puzzle particularly ahead of its time, however, is 64-Down.  The clue "Conspicuous" leads to the entry LIKE A SORE THUMB—this entry actually extends a square below the grid, so it literally sticks out like a sore thumb.  Wow!

Admittedly, PAINTED COLUMN, which is simply a vertical entry, isn't quite as strong as the other theme entries, and HUNDRED TEN ACROSS would be much better as ONE HUNDRED TEN ACROSS (or even A HUNDRED TEN ACROSS).  Nevertheless, the theme is exceptionally clever!  The nonthematic fill looks pretty nice as well—I especially like the entries AMBASSADOR, LEAD ASTRAY, and SHOWBOAT!  In the "meh" category, the first handful of Across entries alone includes FABA ("Bean, to Vergil"),  HADE ("Rock-vein angle"), TULE ("Bulrush"), LNG ("Coat part: Abbr."), and OXA ("Chem. prefix").  All in all, this is a phenomenal pre-Shortzian puzzle!  The answer grid (with highlighted theme entries) can be seen below:


From hippies to rock and roll, the 1970s were known for being a drug-filled time.  So far I've come across two drug-related entries/clues in Will Weng–edited crosswords.  In the June 3, 1975, puzzle, which was constructed by Butler (first name unknown) and litzed by Jeffrey Krasnick, the entry MARIJUANA was clued as "Hemp with a wallop."  In the September 26, 1974, puzzle, which was constructed by Anthony B. Canning and litzed by Howard Barkin, the entry WEEDHEAD was clued as "Pot addict, familiarly."  I'm surprised that Weng was willing to push the envelope so much—I'm guessing Maleska never would have allowed these entries!  Below is a picture of the more legal type of weed.

Image courtesy of Whyteferret's Blog.