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Puzzles for Sora - Chronicles of a Hereditary Geek [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Darth Paradox

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Puzzles for Sora [Nov. 13th, 2007|12:29 pm]
Darth Paradox
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[mood |lovedloved]

So, Sora broke the news last night...

Short version: Sora and I are engaged! I proposed last night when we were out to dinner to celebrate our second anniversary. And thank you to all of you who offered congratulations over on her LJ...

Over in that thread we've also had requests for "the whole story". So here it is.


Sunday, November 4th was the second anniversary of the day we met. I sent her a love note over email... a rather oddly-worded one. After reading the email and realizing something was strange about it, she faintly recognized some of the phrases I'd used.

It wasn't long before she discovered that the main body of the note was composed entirely of phrases from Jonathan Coulton songs, and specifically from Thing-A-Week songs. An hour or so of googling and searching later, she'd figured out which song each line came from.

It just so happens that Thing-A-Week was composed of 52 songs (numbered as such on his website). 52 being twice 26, it wasn't difficult to translate the song numbers into letters, and she revealed the phrase "INSIDE ALBUM WITH OUR SONG". We've long recognized that JoCo's "Skullcrusher Mountain" was the closest thing to an "our song" that we had, and so she found the CD with that song on it, and inside the case was another puzzle.


This second puzzle at first appeared to be just a few paragraphs of narrative. It described a pilgrim's journey to the new cathedral at the city of Carcassone, detailing some things he saw along the way and some particular places where he took special note of them. (The narrative was also full of typos - every time there should have been an "st", the "t" was missing.)

So she got out the Carcassone game, and noticed a rubber duck looking at a set of tiles, with a label indicating that up was north. (The duck is not only a NaNo reference, but a reference to the infamous "Duck Conundrum" puzzles from the MIT Mystery Hunt.) So she started laying out the tiles, following the pilgrim's path. Generally he would take note of the shapes of roads he'd traveled, and when at last the pilgrim reached the cathedral she'd collected the letters "SARDUS". But, like the narrative, the answer had typos - the actual answer was "STARDUST", which led her to the copy of the book sitting on the desk upstairs. Inside the book was an envelope, containing some art I'd had commissioned for her, and a URL.


The URL led here - the third puzzle. It's a lot more straightforward than the other two - and easier to reproduce - so you can try it if you want; the answer is here1. Apologies to those of you with small monitors; I had a reasonable expectation that she'd be working on this one from the widescreen we have. :D

Unfortunately for Sora, the instruction from the third puzzle's answer could not be followed for another five days - she finished all three of these puzzles on Sunday evening, but she had to wait until the following Friday.


Friday, November 9th was the NaNoWriMo write-in. One of our friends (the organizer) traditionally has a treasure chest full of random little prizes for people who finish a thousand words at the write-in. I arranged with her to sneak the next puzzle into the chest; when she finished up her thousand words she opened up the chest and found an envelope labeled "For Sora".

Inside the envelope was the next puzzle - a 30x30 nonogram (a.k.a "paint-by-numbers"). She'd never done one this size before, nor one on paper, so she felt a bit daunted originally, but it was actually a reasonably easy puzzle in the end. (Rows/columns with only one number in them are easy... rows/columns with zero numbers are even easier.) When the nonogram was complete, it had a message: "DANIEL'S NOV. 12 @ 7:30". This was of course the place and time for our anniversary dinner.


Sora figured that was the end of it. She'd discovered where and when dinner was, and after work yesterday I picked her up from her office and we went home to change into nice clothes, and then off to Daniel's. We had some very nice steak (mmm, steak), and Sora made sure to save room for dessert... which was a good thing, because when we asked for the dessert menu, there was a rather suspicious-looking item on it, labeled "puzzle chocolate cake". After a bit of deliberation, she decided to order it, and soon there was delivered to the table a molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream (which was very good) and a small Japanese puzzle box. After expressing frustration with the choice to be made, she decided to eat the dessert first - after all, the delicate heat balance of the ice cream with the molten chocolate cake wouldn't last long.

Soon sated, she turned her attentions to the puzzle box. Owing to a technical problem with the puzzle box I'd ordered, I'd actually used a small puzzle box she gave me for Valentine's Day way back in early 2006. Thankfully, as I'd hoped, she'd forgotten the details of how to solve it in the meanwhile, so it took her a few minutes to open up... and inside she found this. (More pictures.)

By the time she recognized the ring for what it was, I was on my knee, and I asked her to marry me. She said yes, and I put the ring onto her finger... and she's been squeeing and giggling ever since.


So that's basically the story of the puzzle-hunt proposal. We don't have a date set yet; we don't see any particular need to rush into planning a wedding, particularly when we're blatantly busy as it is.



1The answer to the rebus is "WRITE ONE THOUSAND WORDS AT TERRABITE". The last word may be confusing to some of you; Terrabite is where the Friday evening write-ins are this year - the same write-in (though at a different place) at which Sora and I met, lo these many two years ago.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-13 10:19 pm (UTC)

About the ring...

Forgot to mention this part, but it's not part of the main story, so here it is in a comment.

The ring is white gold with a moissanite center stone and sapphire side stones. The design is based on the triple moon symbol, modified to make the crescent moons more stylized so that they hold the side stones better, and because Sora seems more fond of the exaggerated crescent shape. The moissanite, of course, represents the full moon.

I worked with Greenlake Jewelry Works to design this ring for Sora; I developed the initial design myself (after a very helpful back-and-forth with the designer about what I wanted out of the ring), and then they rendered it in CAD, automatically produced a wax model, and cast it to gold from there.
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[User Picture]From: misterflames
2007-11-14 03:04 am (UTC)

Re: About the ring...

Sue told me that she loved the look of the ring, and I do agree, it is lovely.
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[User Picture]From: echo_eriol
2007-11-13 10:25 pm (UTC)

::squeels::

Chris, I'm trying not cry (because I'm at work) and because this is just so amazing!! I knew it would happen eventually, but still, I am beyond tickled with happiness for you and Sora. To boot, that has to be the most uniqe and creative proposal that I have ever heard of.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:23 am (UTC)

Re: ::squeels::

Thank you! I hope I didn't cause you too much trouble at work. :D
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[User Picture]From: petie_s
2007-11-13 10:28 pm (UTC)
That ranks among the most awesome proposals I have ever seen. Congratulations for that, and also for the impending marriage, which will be even sweeter!
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:24 am (UTC)
Well, thank you! After all the puzzle-hunt work we've done together (helping run three events, participating in at least three others in some way or another), it just made sense to me. :D
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[User Picture]From: seorin
2007-11-13 10:37 pm (UTC)
I said it over in Sora's entry as well, but congratulations to you both! That is an amazingly detailed and creative proposal which suits the two of you incredibly well. I'm utterly amazed. :)
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[User Picture]From: iris_of_ether
2007-11-14 03:55 am (UTC)
As he is wont to do, Nico already captured what I'd been thinking, in better words, too.

Wow at that, though.

A puzzle box is a nice ending touch, I think. Those are really pretty.
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[User Picture]From: annaonthemoon
2007-11-13 10:39 pm (UTC)
Congratulations!! And wow, that's a really cool way of proposing! :D

Also, nice ring ;)
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[User Picture]From: annaonthemoon
2007-11-13 10:41 pm (UTC)
PS: I expect to get to meet Sora when I'm out visiting silveradept in Feb! ;)
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[User Picture]From: imnotsatan
2007-11-13 10:44 pm (UTC)
I cried. Yaaaaay for you and Sora!
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:28 am (UTC)
Yay indeed! :D :D :D Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: kinkyprude
2007-11-13 11:13 pm (UTC)
Just to reiterate what I said over at Sora's LJ...
AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!
THISISSOFANTASTICICAN'TEVENTELLYOUI'MSQUEEEINGANDOMGCONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!
Capslock lack of punctuation Joy!
CONGRATULATIONS!
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:29 am (UTC)
Heeheehee. She's been squeeing for the past day or so too. :D Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: jadeejf
2007-11-13 11:54 pm (UTC)
Congratulations, guys!! :D
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:29 am (UTC)
Well, thank you! *happy*
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[User Picture]From: wayzgoose
2007-11-13 11:56 pm (UTC)
Congratulations to both of you! What a great proposal story. You made Sora work a lot harder for hers than I did Michele. But it reminded me of the process nonetheless.
Congratulations again!
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:29 am (UTC)
Thanks!

What did you do for Michele? Sounds like you've got a story of your own...
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[User Picture]From: fenrig
2007-11-14 12:31 am (UTC)
Congratulations Chris! I pity the kids when Christmas comes around though... I can just imagine them being subjected to puzzles before they can open (or even FIND!) their presents. 8)

Be happy.
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:31 am (UTC)
It's somewhat of a tradition in my family; I remember a Christmas back in the late 80s/early 90s when my mom led my dad on a treasure hunt Christmas morning.

Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: harlenna
2007-11-14 12:32 am (UTC)
way to make a girl work for her engagement darth!

i have to admit you are doing an amazing job of topping the list of great proposals i have heard.

and that ring is gorgeous and different in a great way. congrats!

lastly, this is the first time i've seen you with a beard (the user pic) and it looks weird. now i have to alter my mental image of you. you haven't ever had that problem with me, have you?

yay for accepted wedding proposals! yay for good days!

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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:34 am (UTC)
Well, I wanted to make sure she was good enough for me! :D

Thank you so much.

The beard... Well, I've been bearded on and off for three or four years now. But because of Scatterplot, my mental self-image remained pretty much identical to Charles until I forced myself to re-adjust recently... As for you, I'm not sure I even know what you look like, so I think I can safely say I've never had a problem with having to readjust my mental image of you.

Yay indeed!
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[User Picture]From: dizzybeautiful
2007-11-14 12:36 am (UTC)

CONGRATS!!!

congratulations from the east coast!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVED the story of it; very clever!!!!!! yay!!!!!!!!!
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:34 am (UTC)

Re: CONGRATS!!!

*dances* Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: chalain
2007-11-14 12:40 am (UTC)
Okay, that right there? SEVENTEEN KINDS OF AWESOME.

Wait, eighteen. Wait, nineteen. Wait....
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[User Picture]From: chalain
2007-11-14 12:40 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, and CONGRATULATIONS!
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[User Picture]From: syngen262
2007-11-14 01:21 am (UTC)
LOL!
Brilliant.
Best.
Proposal.
EVAH!
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:35 am (UTC)
Well, thank you! We had fun. :D
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[User Picture]From: rianeva
2007-11-14 01:21 am (UTC)
Congrats! :D
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[User Picture]From: darthparadox
2007-11-14 08:35 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot! :D
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