Coming to America

I’m working pretty hard on this paper submission, but I did manage to do the Sunday NYTimes crossword puzzle unassisted this week! No doubt you crossword pros will scoff at this modest accomplishment, but as a novice, I’m celebrating every small victory :).

Speaking of random puzzles, I came across this one the other day. Count the number of people in this image, then wait till it moves, and count again.

Fun, huh? We were pretty stumped by it until stephentyrone took a look and busted out with the observation that it was just like an old trick counterfeiters used to employ to make more money…

So the Sox have been rolling, and if you’re a serious Sox fan, of course you’re terrified that they’re going to blow this 2-0 lead like the 2-0 lead they blew in 1986 (and then they even won the first two games on the road!). But of course this year is different. At least I hope so ;).


My parents immigrated to the U.S. from India. They’re obviously very proud of Indian culture (as am I), but they came quite a while ago, though (my dad in 1969, to Berkeley, actually, and he stayed in IHouse, my former residence!; my mom about five years later), so it’s been interesting to see what aspects of American life they’ve taken the most to.

There have been some standouts, like my dad’s obsession with the OJ trial, or my mom’s love of pop music — she can name way more of the songs on Top 40 radio today than I can. Two prominent ones of late:

My mom’s always been a sports fan, watching tennis, basketball, baseball, the Olympics, whatever. She’s been rooting for the Sox quite heavily in the last month, obviously (I’ve been brainwashing her well over the years :), even staying up past midnight as necessary to watch all the games, but I didn’t quite realize the extent of it until I called home yesterday shortly before the game was about to start. We were talking about Schilling, and I mentioned an AP article that had just come out about how the second round of sutures was much more painful than the first, and so Game 2 might be his last outing. I was pretty surprised to find out that she had already read the same article, even thought it went out over the wire only half an hour earlier! It warms my heart to imagine my mom surfing the web for Sox articles as obsessively as I do :).

On the flip side, my dad’s taken to the other great (well, greater) competition coming up, the presidential election. My parents have always been solid Democrats, but this year’s he’s taken it to another level, with a constant succession email forwards, both humorous and insightful, about the election. Sample joke he’s forwarded:
Q: What’s the different between the Vietnam War and the Iraq War?
A: George W. Bush had a plan to get out of the Vietnam War.
Haha… Or check out this funny Florida voting spoof. Anyway, it turns out that he’s considering going with a friend of his to Ohio to help promote increased voter turnout. Cool! It would be funny if he had to miss teaching class for that… although I bet his students would approve :).

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16 Responses to Coming to America

  1. jredburn says:

    sunday crossword puzzle

    hey — i managed this sunday’s too! i know i was in for good things when there started being *spoiler* lots of football references. this moving picture still confuses me though.

    • aj says:

      Re: sunday crossword puzzle

      Yeah dude I totally lucked out. The football references were great (although what’s with “knockout”? never hearf that in football before)… I figure I’m going to need a lucky break to get things rolling.

      Much better than, say, “1953 Oscar Winner?” and other weirdo clues like that :).

      Yeah, the picture is great. I don’t think I would have gotten it by myself, although I made myself stop thinking about it early on so that I could get back to work :).

  2. rwclark says:

    On a tangent, my parents just went to a Kerry rally in Nevada. I think it’s the first political event either one has participated in. I was really surprised.

  3. ccho says:

    It’s a fun puzzle that’s dependent on its low resolution (otherwise you might notice the guy on the left getting scalped , one guy in the middle losing the soles of his shoes, one guy getting his midsection cut out, and one guy getting short shorts). I think they should’ve left out the upward-pointing bulge in one guy’s pants, unless those are supposed to be drawstrings. Where did you find it?

    I turned on the TV for a couple minutes to some talkshow, and one of the guests happened to be a Yankees fan. She said, “I’m glad that the Red Sox won, because it gives all those Boston fans something to cheer about… they’ve won what, one world series in 80 years?” ;)

    • aj says:

      I found it on some other blog, while procrastinating :)… I think it was originally on


  4. ngj says:


    In my last year at Berkeley, I started doing the Daily Cal crossword, intending to finish one before I graduated. Despite the repeating clues, the Cal culture references, and the fact that the students I TAed would finish… I never did manage to get one done without help.

    But anyway. I can understand the joy of success. =)

    • dianaca4 says:

      Re: Crosswords

      I’m with you on the Daily Cal woes! Starting freshmen year I worked on the crossword pretty much every single day, and my skills seemed to decrease with time.
      But they really got me through tons of unexciting lectures…

      • aj says:

        Re: Crosswords

        Hmm… are they online somewhere? A quick glance at the dailycal website didn’t turn up anything….

        Anyway, yeah, my skills definitely fluctuate wildly! Very frustrating. Especially when I think I’m getting better and then I take a huge step back. Woe…

        • dianaca4 says:

          Re: Crosswords

          whatever, mr. finished the NYT puzzle atleast twice!

          I thought the daily cal one was online (as I thought I attempted the online version when I was in Sweden) but I can’t find it now either…

          I have about 5 pathetic sucking-at-the-crossword-puzzle stories but I think I’ll spare you.

          • aj says:

            Re: Crosswords

            Hehe, no, please, I want to hear them! Perhaps this warrants a dedicated LJ entry all by itself… :)

  5. cychan says:

    Grant and I spent a good 10 minutes of Game 1 staring at that picture, but it was the 1 minute on the toilet that i figured it out… kinda funny, but I don’t think I’m the only one who does his best thinking on the john or in the shower.

    • aj says:

      Dude, totally

      I think I solved at least 50% of my programming bugs in college in the shower.

      Have you seen that Holiday Inn add where the dude takes a shower and then checkmates some grandmaster? It would be horribly cheesy if I didn’t think it had a kernel of truth in it…

    • judytuna says:

      best icon ever!

      i had to compare the two images and chop them up in paint. ha!

  6. f18225 says:

    i couldn’t figure out the picture puzzle either. my parents are the same way in terms of paying attention to the boston sports teams and the election. they haven’t slept well in weeks.

    • aj says:

      Yeah, this election is really scaring me, too. The potential embarrassment factor is high, too.

      Turns out my dad is going to drive my sister and some friends of hers up to New Hampshire so they can do stuff there. I hope all this stuff makes a difference!

  7. ccho says:

    New South Park episode (season 8 episode 8) is a parody on voting, though mostly it was a waste of 22 minutes.