MIT Mystery Hunt – WE WON!!

by Christine on January 16th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Annual Mystery Hunt

Whew!  What a couple of hours!

So we were up late last night, about 1:30 a.m., and I was tired as all hell. We knew at that point that our team was really close to finishing; HQ stopped unlocking new puzzles for us, so we just had to finish what was in front of ourselves. I was soooo tired though, so I went to bed with the intention of just getting a little bit of sleep. Sometime around 3 a.m. someone came into the sleeping room and yelled, “The run-around is about to begin! Everyone wake up!”  So the lights came on and people were frantically jumping out of their sleeping bags and getting shoes and coats on.  This year there were, oh I don’t know, 50 people on our team (in-person, in the classroom) and maybe half of us were asleep at 3 a.m. That means that the remaining 25-or-so players were solving the hardest, super-meta puzzles on their own. (They’re way smart!)

The run-around began as a virtual run-around. The theme was Super Mario Brothers, so we had Mario on the phone and he was guiding us through each level, just like in the game, just by describing where he was at and what powers he had on hand. We would say, “Can you jump on the box and throw your boomarang at the bombs, Mario?” and he might say yes and he might say, “I can’t do that; the bombs are too far away for me to reach” or something like that.

Eventually we made it through all the levels of the virtual video game successfully (that took about 45 minutes) and they said, “Meet us at Classroom 451 in Building 5.”  So all 50 of us ran out the door to the classroom.  When we got there, Mario and Princess Peach were there with our final instructions.  Basically we had to portal through one door (which we had to find scavenger-hunt style) and come out a portal somewhere else on the MIT campus.  Our portals were **ME** (someone with an orange Tshirt on) and some other guy with a blue tshirt on, so I suddenly became an important member of the team just by proxy of what color tshirt I was wearing! ha!  We knew we were doing well because we were running down a hallway and all the members of headquarters were outside clapping as we ran by. We thought that was pretty cute!   We ran around the campus for an hour or more, “portaling” from one door to another, until we found ourselves inside an empty classroom. There was an arrow taped to the garbage bin, arrow pointing up.  We found a ladder, climbed on top, and found the hidden coin on top of a light fixture!

Game over! We win!

That means that our team gets to make the puzzles for next year.  It’s a good thing we have so many members of our team to help out. Making the puzzles will be so much fun! I can’t wait to run the hunt!

We found the coin at 5:58 a.m.  We went back and packed up all our stuff and immediately got on the road. I think I’m going to enjoy a nap today, a shower, and a nice home-cooked meal.

Oh yeah, and last night at 8 pm, the Board of Directors members for Wikipedia that were on our team held a 10th anniversary party for Wikipedia. They got delicious cake and champagne and shared with everyone, and they had tshirts and pins to pass out to everyone too. It was mayhem with all the puzzle-geeks trying to get the free food and swag, but I managed to snare a tshirt, hooray! That celebration was  anticlimatic, but I told Sammie congrats for his organization’s anniversary.

Foodwise, it was a suck-fest. I had ramen noodles, some salad (wasn’t very good), some soup at the student union, some sweet tarts, vitamin water, etc etc.  junk foodage!

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I really need to do better.

by Christine on January 13th, 2011

filed under General Information

What a fucking day! Today I went out to our Syracuse office to meet my engineering co-workers out there. During the ride out and back, my lovely co-worker talked my ear off. He’s really the nicest guy on the planet, and super interesting too (military background, married his wife while he was stationed in Germany, two kids and a bucketload of grandkids, blahblahblah), so it wasn’t too bad, but it’s just being “on” and social all day that is so damn draining. Being extroverted really doesn’t come natural to me, even though I’ve learned to fake it extraordinarily well. In Syracuse I met the staff out there, chatted with them, then met with the young engineer Nicole and schooled her in the art of marketing and promised that I’d mentor her over the next year or so. I really look forward to taking on a mentoring role. Nicole and I had a brief lunch together. More socializing and being “on.”

I got home at 5:30 and we left at 6 pm to go to the bar for pub trivia. We had EIGHT friends join us tonight (we had to break into two teams) and our team won for the second week in a row! Out of 16 trivia teams. It was pretty fun….we won free drink tokens for next week. Very proud of us.

But loud music, and eight friends, plus a bar full of people that now know our names and heckle us….makes for an entire evening of being “on” and social there, too. On the positive side, the table behind us was full of hot young guys, and this guy Paul started chatted me up. I’m going to pretend that he was hitting on me, even though in reality he was just friendly and chatty. I am not wearing my wedding ring (it’s too big on me…need to get that fixed) and I was sitting next to Danielle all evening, so it’s not surprising that he had a surprised look on his face when I introduced him to “my husband” before we left. Ha ha! But that felt good to sorta-kinda get hit on or chatted up!

Then we raced home and hubby left with his friends for MIT in Boston. I have the house to myself. WHEW. First time all day to settle down and unwind after a very social evening. Deep breath. RELAAXXXX. I’m going to shut the computer now and wander into the bedroom, make my bed properly, the way that *I* like it to be (with the sheets nice and tight….hubby likes to roll up in all the sheets and blankets like a cocoon) and watch a tv show.

Like I said earlier, weight was 125 today. Not good, but also no real cause for alarm. Food today was:

Breakfast: 1 cup of coffee, cream no sugar.
Lunch: 1 cup of vegetable soup, 1 small bag of potato chips, diet coke
Dinner: the cheese off 1 slice of pizza (barfed up half of that up thanks to the band and not paying attention) at home, then 2 fried mozerella sticks at the bar, plus two 10 oz beers at the bar

Total guesstimated calories: a little less than 800 calories maybe

Need lots more water. Lots more nutrition. I’m really not very good at balanced meals anymore. SIGH. Lots of room for improvement. I’ll get there.

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It’s snowing! You can still lose weight!

by Christine on January 12th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise

Arya on a snowwoman

A vast portion of the USA has been clobbered with a snow storm this week. I’m currently getting hit with this storm (9-15 inches), and I’m going to venture into work late today so I don’t have to drive in the snow during rush hour traffic.

A lot of you who are diet-minded are cursing the weather, thinking, “oh no! I can’t make it to the gym!” or “I’m out of fresh veggies to eat and I can’t make it to the store!”  To all of you fretting….don’t!! The snow and weather will give you a fantastic opportunity to get some unique exercise in and use up some of your canned goods in the cupboards!

Food:

  • My personal favorite is mulled wine. To make mulled wine, empty a bottle of cheap red wine into a pan on the stove and start heating it very slowly. (Don’t boil otherwise you’ll cook off the alcohol!) Add 3/4 of a bottle of water to dilute it.  Now throw in two fitstfulls of SPLENDA baking mix, a few cinnamon stix (and fresh cinnamon if you have it), and a dash of allspice, apple pie spice, cloves, nutmeg, cardamon, and whatever holiday-type spices you have in your cabinet. If you have any fresh lemons or oranges, add some slices to the mix (peel and all!).  Warm the mixture to your desired temperature, then drink!
  • Crockpot soup! You can get a little adventuresome here, adding whatever you have in your pantry. I like to throw in a can of diced tomatoes, a can of whatever beans (black beans, kidney beans), fresh or canned veggies (zucchini, onion, carrots, celery, and corn are common for me), and just a small handful of small pasta like elbow noodles *OR* some small diced potatoes. I might cook up some ground beef, sausage, or bacon to add to the mix as well.  Add some water to water it down, canned chicken broth or bouillon cubes if you have it, then start adding some spices. I like garlic salt, garlic pepper, oregano or basil, if you like spice add some tobasco. Voila, an instant, cheapy meal for a snowy day!  The more veggies you add, the healthier the soup is!
  • Nuts! A lot of people have leftover nuts in their cabinets, unused portions of cookies and whatnot. Why not pour the leftovers into a cup and munch on those? Nuts are great for you!
  • Broth. I love to heat up some broth (chicken stock, or chicken bouillon) and drink it like tea. It’s low in calories and really yummy!

Adventures:

  • Make a snowman!  Have fun, go crazy, dress it up with some of your fat clothes you grew out of a few months ago! Lifting the top snowball (the “head”) is a great weight-lifting workout! Use your legs, not your back!
  • Have a snowball fight with your kids.
  • Go sledding. Believe me, trudging up a hill 15 times will kick your ass.
  • Make a snow angel.
  • Build a snow fort.
  • If you have proper footwear, try jogging in deep snow, knees up high like you were running in water. It’s a killer workout!
  • If you have the facilities, try cross country skiing or downhill skiing!
  • Go ice skating
  • Make your own curling rink. Curling is like shuffleboard on ice! Read the rules of this weird Olympic sport here.
  • Make a little bon fire outside and make s’mores.

Dressing tips for newbies to the snow:

A good friend of mine from Alabama explained that neither she nor anyone she knows owns snow boots or proper footwear for playing in the snow. (A mind-boggling concept for me!) So if you are one of those poor souls that live without snow, please remember to wrap your bare feet with saran wrap or walmart bags before putting on your socks and shoes.  This will keep the water out and protect your feet from getting minor frostbite.  Similarly you can wear socks on your hands for gloves, but wrap your hands in a bag first. You’ll be able to play outside for longer!  Don’t forget to layer up….and avoid wearing cotton or jeans outside because they trap the moisture; you’re better off layering your gym clothes because the fabric “breathes” easier.   (Thanks Sandy for that reminder & tip!)

What are some of your favorite tips, foods, and adventures on snowy days?

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Maintaining while on the go!

by Christine on January 11th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

It’s my second week of work, and all is well so far, if you don’t count me being exhausted all the time. I’m tired ALL the time!  Last night I was in bed and asleep by 9 pm. Waking up at such an early time is going to take some getting used to, I think!

My weight is holding constant at 123.5 or so. While this is good and I’m thrilled that this whole “maintenance” thing is working out for me, I know that I could do a better job with my eating. I need to fit in more snacks throughout the day, even if it’s something small.  I’ve gotten into the habit of going to a local restaurant on my own and ordering either soup or a small salad (a few times, like today, I’ve just had a can of soup here at my desk).  This is all good, but if I eat at restaurants often I will need to watch that my portion sizes stay in check. Even if I order the small, lunch-sized portions, it’s still way more food than anyone should eat, so I will need to keep an eye on my portion sizes. The gastric band will help me regulate that, I think.

On a downside, the anxiety and stress of starting a new job is getting to me physically.  I have had a hard time keeping any food down this last week….I’ve been barfing a lot of stuff up.  I’m not sure if it’s possible, but I feel like my band is somehow tighter with my anxiety levels increased. Is that possible, or just in my head? It’s probably a simple case of not chewing well enough. I’ve also been really constipated, and sleepy/tired all the time, so I know that the stress is messing with me a little bit.

If there’s any readers out there that enjoy really, super-duper hard puzzles, this week is the annual MIT Mystery Hunt!  I will be out in Boston helping Team Codex try to win for the first time! Our team is comprised of my husband’s gaming-geek friends, some Harvard professors, some Microsoft and Google employees, and some Wikipedia employees and Board of Directors members. It’s an interesting mix of people, and I enjoy trying to help out with the hunt. You can check out some of past years’ puzzles on this website if you’re interested in learning more.  Note: These puzzles are not for the weak of heart or for the easily frustrated.

Here’s a fun video of a past hunt! The theme was ACME, and a puzzle asked for each team to create a song. Here is our team’s song that year (and yes, that’s my husband in the video, SINGING, heavens help us all):

One of my husband’s good friends is the producer of G4’s “Attack of the Show.” Two years ago G4 attended our team on the hunt and gave an overview about the event. And yes, my hubby is interviewed and is in this video, too!  (For astute viewers, you can see Jeffrey in

Yeah it’s a serious geek fest, but it’s fun and a good time! And…it’s free!

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The days go by way too fast!

by Christine on January 9th, 2011

filed under General Information

Good morning Revolutionists!

You know, I had half a post written on Friday, then I was off and running to different events. I was going to sit down and finish writing that post on Saturday, but I ran out of time.  Now it’s Sunday and pretty much everything I had written is irrelevant, so I need to start over from scratch! Needless to say it has been a busy couple of days.

Friday I sat down with my boss & coworker to detail my plan for updating all of our marketing materials. I hope that meeting went over well–it’s a little hard to tell with both players. Then I ran off to a marketing/schmoozing event. It was with a bunch of people and clients I have not seen in about 2 years, when I had my surgery. I was hoping I would get a lot of “wow” reactions and they did not disappoint me! Everyone was very complementary about my weight loss and how I look now, so that was very nice. It’s a monthly event and like most networking events I will be going to, it involves free open bar for hours and hours. I restrained and just had diet soda, so yay for me.

Friday night my hubby’s company had their holiday dinner. We went to a wonderful restaurant called Wheatfields. We ordered a bunch of appetizers to share, and I had a few calamari which had a little bit of a spicy sauce on them. They were delicious…I had about 5 little calamaris.  I skipped the salads/soup before the meal (ordered a glass of white wine instead), and it was a good thing I did because those salads were big enough to be a meal!! I would have filled up too much and never had my entree. I ordered the salmon (I have had it before there) and it was absolutely delicious! It came with an asparagus risotto that was positively divine, but I only had one tiny taste of that and left the rest. (Risotto is not on ANYBODY’S dieting menu, and it would get caught in my bad terribly. Too bad because it was delicious!)  I actually ordered dessert…cannoli….and that was only so-so. I only had half of my dessert portion and shared a little with the boss’ wife. The tiramisu looked amazing, and perhaps next time we go to this restaurant I will order that dessert.

My hubby works for a super wonderful company that is always flexible, kind, and generous with its employees.  Last year his boss got us a 70-something inch tv and a Sonos speaker system for a holiday present!  This year his boss got all the employees ipads to play with. They are a technology company so they are all about new, fun gadgets. Hubby has been playing with his ipad ever since!

Yesterday I watched a Dexter marathon with a friend. We got through SEVEN episodes of Season 3 of Dexter. That’s a fun show, but oh that was a lot of TV watching! I made a funny soup for lunch (chicken bullion with spices, just a little rice and tuna fish in it) and had my leftover canolli.  For dinner we ordered Mexican food and I ate about one-third of my order. Yesterday was a lazy day, but I really needed that!

Today is another lazy day. I need to pay bills, and I SHOULD do some errands, but I don’t feel like it. We might have dinner with my in-laws, but we will see about that.  Laundry is definitely on the to-do list.

Have a good day everyone!

(Below: Me at a marketing event 2 years ago, versus me now!)


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