Good news! It’s high summer, and it’s also crossword time! I’ve been busy constructing crosswords as my main work, but have just squeezed in enough time to prepare a crossword just for you lovely lot.
Here is the PDF – and the solution is below. Enjoy!
Since Christmas, I’ve finally been writing another cryptic crossword, and FINALLY tonight I finished it. I’ve had really bad writer’s block in terms of quizzes, games and puzzles, so I haven’t really been making any for the past six months. Could this end the dry spell? Probably not, but it’s nice to finish setting a puzzle anyway. I will put the solution up in a few day’s time.
If you’re a fan of any puzzles I’ve written – and quite frankly who WOULDN’T be – then you may be interested in a Kickstarter I’ve helping out with.
A friend is opening up an escape room in London and they’ve used a Kickstarter to get the necessary funds to start it off. If you pledge a certain level (or above, I assume), then you will get some postcard puzzles that I designed. I was super pleased when I was asked if I could help, and I reckon you’ll enjoy the puzzles I came up with.
If you’re interested, head on over right to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1752866659/oubliette-escape-rooms-and-adventure-society before the last week in November and pledge towards the escape room. The maker of the escape room has made others around the world, and they really are world class. I’m very excited to see what escape room is being developed, and hope to play it myself one day.
I thought I’d give you a blog post update on how I am and show you the motivations and reasons behind my way recent decisions – this probably won’t fit in a single tweet.
Back in 2013, I did my ‘2500 Clue Challenge’ to raise money and awareness about depression, and did monthly updates about my own personal struggles. It’s about time for another update. My depression and social anxiety have been particularly bad of late, and it’s currently related to the lack of a job and lack of self-esteem. (Halloween is literally a nightmare for me due to the social anxiety and prospect of trick or treaters!)
A few of you have suggested possible jobs that I could look in to, and I am truly grateful that you’ve done that, but I haven’t applied for any of them. I wanted to let you know why and hopefully not appear disrespectful, I wanted to let you know that I’m super confused and unhappy right now.
There are no jobs that I can do. I have no useful up-to-date skills. I have two main recent avenues of work – Meteorology and TV researching – and they’re both not open to me. Let me explain.
Aside from the PhD burning passion for it out of me, I can’t do any Meteorology research jobs as I only used one arcane programming language during it, and I’ve forgotten that too, so I have no coding experience. I didn’t understand what I was doing with forecasting, and didn’t cope with the shift work. So that’s meteorology out of the way.
What about telly work? I love quizzes and game shows, and I guess it is my one real passion. But it’s in London. I also strongly dislike the unpredictability of the work and short term nature of the contracts, but most of all I’m not strong enough to work in London, either by living there or by commuting. Despite writing questions for various things over the year, I actually don’t like it much and it does drive me mad very quickly.
So, I need to find something new, but I have no idea what. I’ve been thinking for well over a year “what job would I like to do”, and despite thinking for all that time I have absolutely no idea. The only answers seem to be “something involved in tv quizzes” or “hosting a radio show”. That first option, as already discussed, is not possible. The second one is also not possible as I don’t have a track record in it, it would likely have unusual hours, and have no idea where to begin. It also requires social interaction, which I need a bit of strength to deal with right now as it makes me anxious. So that’s out of the running too. I don’t know what sort of jobs I’d like, I don’t even know what I enjoy doing in my spare time at the moment, as nothing seems to interest or entertain me. I’ve lost confidence in trying new things, which isn’t useful when job hunting.
Interviews are going to be hard. I don’t have the self-esteem to apply for any jobs that require an interview. This is going to have to change. I know I must have some skills, I am alive and breathing for one, so I must be able to do something, but I haven’t got a single clue what.
I’m also getting frustrated with the fact that I need to find a part-time job to dip my toe into the working world slowly. I get exhausted very easily and I need to build up stamina for work. I keep telling myself this is the right thing to do, part time into full time later, but it does feel like I’m being a complete sissy. Looking for part time jobs is also very restrictive, most jobs advertised are full time, so it limits the type and number of jobs that I can find. I’m almost certainly being overly fussy about my job search, so I’m not expecting any sympathy from anyone here.
I realised recently that, based on how long my depression has been this severe, I’m technically disabled. It is having a profound impact on my day to day life, every single day, and has been for years. It qualifies as a disability. This upsets me even more.
If I ever get a job, then I know have other issues that I need to resolve, but right here, right now, getting a job is the big thing. It would give me something to do, make me interact socially, and give me money. It’s incredibly boring doing nothing because you can’t afford anything, you know. Though having said that, that’s been the case for so long, that I can’t really remember what things to do to have fun any more. Again, no confidence in doing new things.
I’ll be turning 30 soon, and all I see in myself a massive loser. I can’t even control my body clock at the moment, I’m getting up at 4pm, going to bed between 2 and 4am, and sleeping at least 12 hours per day (though this will change when I have something to regulate my body clock for). I need your help to make me not think of myself as a loser. I am *incredibly* guilty that I’m claiming benefits right now, despite the fact that that’s what they’re there for. (That’s a sentence with two different homophones. Fun.) And right now I’m having to cut down the amount I’m spending on food because the benefits still leave things pretty tight.
I’m seeing the doctor in just over a week’s time and seriously considering him sign me off job searching entirely for a month or so for me to try and get myself together a bit. I am on a few counselling waiting lists, but whilst the NHS being free is wonderful, there is quite a wait and it’ll probably be a new year before anything starts.
Anyway, I just really wanted to let you know how I was and why I’ve not applied for many jobs in the past month. Sorry about the general moan. I’m really very sorry for how rubbish I am right now. Being mostly unemployed for the past couple of years has been incredibly tough. I don’t like publicly admitting half of this, because I do reckon it will harm my employment prospects, and even alienate people, but I felt this needed to be said. Tonight I felt particularly exasperated and without much to lose. Depression utterly sucks.
Told you it wouldn’t fit in a single tweet.
In 2013, I did my ‘2500 Clue Challenge‘, where I tried to solve cryptic crossword clues for charity.
Interestingly, Indian scientist Sundaresan Naranan has contacted me to say he has used the data from the challenge to confirm something he’s found from his own solving: The success (or failure) rate of someone solving crosswords follows a “Negative Binomial Distribution” (this is subtly different from the binomial distribution, maths fans!).
Using data from his own solving of over 5000 crosswords over the past 16 years (WOW), he found that with a particular set of parameters the negative binomial distribution was a good fit to the number of crossword clues he failed to solve per crossword. But he was only one man using cryptics from the The Hindu, an Indian newspaper. When he discovered my data, he was able to see if it also fitted my solving statistics based upon a different solver and a different pool of setters from a different newspaper. Pleasingly, he was able to find that with slightly different parameters, the same distribution applied to me too.
I think it’s awesome that someone used the data from the Challenge in an interesting way. Thanks for sharing it with me Sundaresan!
Meanwhile, I’m still trying to put my thinking cap on for future potential challenges. I haven’t quite found any that have been as unusual or interesting as the 2500 Clue Challenge yet… so if you have any ideas, please do send me a tweet!
So, I’ve had an idea for an Olympic event. I call it the 1km Heartbeat Race.
The idea is simple – the winner of the race is the person who runs (or walks) 1km whilst using the LEAST number of heartbeats to do it, without coming last in the entire race.
You can go as fast or as slow as you like, the strategy is up to you, but you must try to keep your heartbeat down during the entire race. I think it would be pretty fun. The big question is: Is there any gain in walking, does your heart rate decrease enough to make it worthwhile? Do let me know if you try it.
It does turn out there could be some very unlikely winners, take this chap with a resting heart rate of 26 beats per minute: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2629213/Pensioner-81-records-worlds-slowest-heart-beat-resting-heart-rate-lower-elite-athletes-elephants.html – but of course the athletes will have to keep their calm and composed and their nerves under control in the stadium!
In the mean time, GIVE ME YOUR MONEY, etc, etc.
Over the past 24 months, those of you who know me well have known that I’ve been particularly struggling with my inner demons. Churchill calls it his ‘black dog’. It is depression, and it monumentally sucks.
Given that I’ve been more unemployed than employed over the past year, I decided I’d start running. There have been plenty of studies that show a more active lifestyle can help alleviate depression. I started in July 2014, and now I have an AMAZING announcement to make:
Within the past year (i.e. 365 days), I’ve run over 1000km!! A whole megametre! I’ve run on 142 separate occasions (suffering painful stomach cramps in 5 of them) running 1001.94km over a total of 92 hours 38 minutes and 11 seconds of running time.
When I started running, my average pace was around 10:00 to 11:00 miles (6:15 to 6:50 per km) for the first few weeks, but that’s slowly improved and now I’m hovering around 8:30 per mile (5:20 per km). There are still bad runs where I get stomach cramps or have no energy or feel generally ill, and those do tend to be around 10:00 per mile, but they’re much rarer now than they were a year ago.
Also, my first run within the past 12 months was on 22 July 2014, so there’s time to increase the mileage of the year!
It’s taken quite some effort to keep going and, I can say this overall: It’s been bloody boring.
So here’s to the next 1000km…. (Actually, make that 1000m. Much more managable…)
(Bonus joke: Why do I drink from streams when jogging? Because it’s running water!)
It’s a long weekend in the UK at the moment, so I decided to create a puzzle for you to solve with the extra time. This is the style of puzzle you’d see at Puzzled Pint – which I’ve helped organise (and contribute puzzles to) in London in the past – where part of the puzzle is working out what you’ve got to do. If you like this style of puzzle, be sure to check them out at www.puzzledpint.com.
Please do share this puzzle on social media, it would be nice if the puzzle got a reasonable airing! If you like this sort of thing, and bad puns, then also follow me on twitter, @danielpeake.
I’ll post the answer tomorrow evening, tweet me if you’d like a hint in the meantime.
EDIT: Here is the answer with a brief explanation. Hope you enjoyed the puzzle!