Monday, April 8, 2013

Rocks (solution no. 3,278)

I spent a substantial amount of time this weekend extracting two rocks from locations where I didn't want them.  Two very different rocks.

Rock number 1 was a shade over an inch long and weighed a tenth of an ounce.  It had become lodged in the drain pump of the washing machine Sunday, causing the washer to stop dead in its tracks.  A little internet sleuthing suggested that a foreign object like that would be a likely cause, and that the pump wasn't all that hard to access, so I gave it a try.  It got a little wet, but lo and behold, I found the rock had found its way out of someone's pocket, into the washer, out of the tub, through the hose, and eventually into the pump.  Considering the amount of mineral salt on the rock's surface, it probably was in there a while.

Then this evening, I turned up the second section of the garden, so I could get some lettuce seedlings in (I'd found some nice-looking ones at the garden store and wanted them growing ASAP.  You'd think that after double-digging the garden for twenty years you'd have excised all the rocks, but I guess I go deeper and deeper each year.  This one was the biggest I'd ever gotten out: about two feet long and 100 pounds by our estimate (a fine physics and math lesson over dinner for the children).  It was tedious and strenuous work, but I realized I could "float" the rock out by prying it up a little bit with a shovel and working dirt under it, prying the opposite side and cribbing it, and back and forth until I could get a rope around it and pull it out.  Just what I needed after a frustrating workday: a job that depended on nothing else besides how hard I worked at it.

Sometimes puzzles are decidedly a slog: the good thing is that when that happens, nobody is insisting we finish them.  Blogging FT would be a job; blogging The Nation is a pastime.  So here's your solution, below the fold...


Themework:  red-numbered clues have references to family members

Difficulty (by standards of this weekly puzzle): moderate (except 13d)

Political content:  21d, I suppose

Legend: "¶' letter bank; "*" anagram; "~" sounds like; "<" letters reversed; "( )" letters inserted; "_" or lower case: letters deleted; "†" explicit in the clue, “^” first letter or letters, “{“ relocated letter or letters

Across
1a, 3d
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Inverted clue: “daughter” is an anagram (“CHANGING OF”) of “THE GUARD”
8a
*VERSATILE
*RELATIVES (anagram indicated by “unstable”)
Clue is a little more challenging on the surface because there are two indicators, but we know “unstable” can’t be the anagram since it’s only seven letters.
9a
_IN TER_
virg_IN TER_ritory (hidden word indicated by “in”)
11a
*NOB(OD)Y
OD (“overdose”) contained in (“in”) *BONY (anagram indicated by “mess”)
12a
A | S(H)TRAYS
^A^unt (first letter indicated by “originally”) + STRAYS (“goes wrong”) containing (“collecting”) H (“hot”)
14a
SCISSORS
¶OSRIC (letter bank indicated by “letters, with some repetition”)
About as obvious a letter bank clue as you can get
16a
LISTS
Double definition
18a
ARE(N)A
^N^ephew (first letter indicated by “start”) contained in (“in”) AREA (“region”)
20a
*ARMENIA | N
so^N^ (last letter indicated by “finally”) following (†) *MARINE (anagram indicated by “confused”)
23a
POP | *ULACE
POP (“father”) + *A CLUE (anagram indicated by “surpisingly”)
24a
*EMBRYO
*BORE MY (anagram indicated by “stranger”)
27a
*NAOMI
*OMANI (anagram indicated by “mysterious”)
28a
INNOCUOUS
¶COUSIN (letter bank indicated by “shuffling and reusing elements”)
I was wrong: this is just as obvious.
29a
*THERMOS BOTTLE
*BET LOST MOTHER (anagram indicated by “ill-judged”)


Down
1d
C | OVENS
C (“cold”) + OVENS (“microwaves”)
2d
*AER(OBI)C
*CARE (anagram indicated by “terribly”) containing (“about”) OBI (“band”: a Japanese sash)
3d
See 1a

4d
N | A | I | F
^N^iece ^A^lways ^I^rritates ^F^riend (initials indicated by “at first”)
5d
OPEN | SE(SAM)E
OPEN (“unrestricted”) + SEE (“view”) containing (“providing context for”) SAM (“uncle”)
“Uncle Sam” isn’t going to be too obvious for non-US solvers, though British constructors don’t hesitate at giving us cricket terms or British abbreviations.
6d
*TRIATHLON
*HALT INTRO (anagram indicated by “rudely”)
7d
*ENTRAPS
*PARENTS (anagram indicated by “in a tizzy”)
10d
*RESIST
*SISTER (anagram indicated by “obnoxious”)
13d
M(ON)ARCHISM
ON (“operating”) contained in MARCHISM (coinage: “a rule about calendar abbreviation”)
This one had me flummoxed.  I saw “abbreviation” and had “DEC” (“FEB” didn’t look too promising).  Eventually got it after erasing that partial guess.  I would have used “calendar word” instead of “calendar abbreviation”)
15d
S | MALL TIME
^S^ibling (first letter indicated by “heading”) + MALL TIME (“shopping expedition”)
17d
*TAIPAN
*PATINA (anagram indicated by “damaged”)
Don’t think I ever saw this word except perhaps in a crossword, but I guessed the anagram right anyway.
19d
EX | *PLOIT
EX (“former spouse”) + *I PLOT (anagram indicated by “insane”)
21d
*A(I)RPORT
^I^nterest (anagram indicated by “a bit of”) contained in (“in”) *PARROT (anagram indicated by “exotic”)
22d
MOUS(S)E
MOUSE (“computer accessory”) containing (“full of”) S (“sulfur”)
25d
MACH | O
MACH (“physicist associated with speed”)
Ernst Mach (1838-1916), of Vienna and Prague, studied light and wave mechanics.  He predicted and then proved the existence of shock waves, and was subsequently honored by naming the unit of supersonic speed after him.  The columnist Marilyn Vos Savant is Mach’s great-granddaughter.
26d
_ONUS
_b_ONUS (“windfall”, omission of first letter indicated by “arriving late”)

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