Saturday, October 26, 2013

Whistles, part 1 (Sunday brunch: October 27, 2013)

The Fox 40
Fencers aren’t used to whistles.  I learned that last weekend at the tournament where I was Bout Committee.  When I found out we didn’t have a PA system at the field house, I used one of my whistles to call the captains over and start a round of matches or make an announcement.

The first time I used it, I stepped away from the captains who were already over at my table before blowing it, and two of them looked over at me like their ears were bleeding.  I didn't blow it especially hard or long: just my usual whistle.

I guess they were used to hearing a cheap phys-ed class whistle and not a professional-grade model.  And like a lot of other tools of any trade, there really is a difference.
Acme Thunderer

Hockey referees might be more particular about their whistles than any other sports officials.  Why? Having a good sound matters for everyone, but because we move so much faster than anyone else, ergonomics are especially important in hockey.  We have to get the whistle to our lips safely and precisely, at the same time as we’re skating full-tilt after an icing, or making a hard stop on the blue line.

So our whistles have a fingerclamp which keeps the whistle on the back of our hand while we’re skating.  And when I need to blow the whistle, I make a fist and bring the whistle up.  It’s a great feature. When I was in grad school and rode my bike to campus, I’d wear my ref whistle, so if someone in a car wasn’t paying attention or got too close, I could blow the whistle.  Thankfully, I didn’t need it much, but it worked really well.  Those of you who are urban cyclists might want to visit a hockey pro shop to get a fingerclamp whistle.

Hear that whistle sounding?  It’s your signal to start solving.  How about we warm up with the weekly Hex cryptic in the National Post?  Falcon says it’s a hodgepodge.

There’s another cryptic for us in the New York Times this weekend (behind the paywall).  This one is by Richard Silvestri.  I’ll post the solution Sunday afternoon or evening.

It’s not easy to keep up with Ucaoimhu, since the puzzles on his pages are listed by theme category instead of by date.  So I’m catching up with a few, starting this week with “Baccarat, Etc.” which actually was a September puzzle.  Even though it’s only nine by nine (that’s part of the theme), it’s still got the incredible depth of Kevin’s full-sized variety cryptics.  Smaller puzzles are a great idea: they’re faster to construct and to solve, and they give new solvers a better chance at getting all the way through to the puzzles you solve after the grid part is done.

Once you’ve finished the mental workout of those cryptics, BEQ informs us that our friend from Down Under, Denise Sutherland, has a clue-writing contest up: entries being taken until next weekend.  She’s offering copies of her books as prizes--sorry, the cute fluffy dog is not on the prize list.  So sip your coffee (or that Bloody Mary) and think about the word “INTERCHANGE”

In the regular crossword department, the Wall Street Journal offers a “Riding the Waves” by Patrick Berry.  It’s an easy variety crossword with another nice bonus at the end.

And Nathan Curtis ought to be around shortly with his regular weekend variety puzzle.  I’ll link it here once it’s up.

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