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No excuse for not posting here since Thanksgiving, but here’s my excuse for not posting anything for the next few weeks — we’re deep in the throes of Puzzle Day planning for this year’s event.  Here’s a quick write-up in case you haven’t heard me talking about it over and over again.


Details and pre-registration information are available at

Saturday (1/30) will be a packed day of puzzle-themed workshops (10:30am-5:45pm). Workshops include 5-time ACPT champion Tyler Hinman and repeating US and World sudoku champion Thomas Snyder sharing stories together about what it is like competing at the championship level.  Tyler and Thomas are also each giving workshops about other kinds of puzzles that keep them busy.  There will also be a panel of cruciverbalists, moderated by Andrea Carla Michaels, talking about the whole crossword puzzle construction process from ideas to publication.  Hear how one Puzzle Day attendee was inspired by the workshops last year to try his hand at constructing and had his puzzle accepted to the NY Times!  There will also be a workshop discussing common crossword words and what goes into creating a crossword puzzle dictionary.  Check out the whole workshop schedule online on the Puzzle Day web site.

Sunday’s tournament will feature the sudoku competition in the morning and the crossword competition in the afternoon. Thomas Snyder is providing our sudoku puzzles and Will Shortz is providing the following week’s yet-to-be-published crossword puzzles for the crossword tournament.  There will also be bonus cryptic crossword and killer sudoku rounds to try your hand at.  Doors open at 9:30 and box
lunches and snacks (as well as puzzle books and other items) will be available for purchase during the event.

There is also a youth division (ages 8-15) with separate tournament puzzles and workshops aimed at them, so it’s great for multi-generational puzzle fun.

Puzzle Day benefits the Morgan Hill Library Foundation. Workshops are free, and donations of $20 for adult tournament competitors and $10 for youth tournament competitors are suggested.

We hope to see you at this fantastic event!  It’s a great way to warm up for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and/or meet new puzzle loving friends, all for a good cause!

Just got this announcement by email:

Come downtown to see What’s Up Doc!

You are invited to the only Northern California exhibit of world renowned animator Chuck Jones’ artwork.

The Chuck Jones Center for Creativity has generously agreed to bring this exhibit to downtown Morgan Hill for this exclusive showing.

Now through August 20th at 17380 Monterey Rd.

For more information or to sign up kid’s for the August 1st art classes call (408) 779-3190.


It’s hard to believe that this is the first time I’ve taken Clara to play at the playground behind the library given how much time we spend at the library, but we finally checked it out as part of our playground explorations (Clara had been before during Puzzle Day weekend while I was busy).  It’s a small playground, but nice with the usual elements found at city parks here, and I liked the bouncy ground surface better than the usual wood chips.
The Playground at the LibraryThe Playground at the Library

Clara and I tested out Diana Park yesterday.  We had been there before for a playdate with our Mom’s group, but hadn’t really checked out the playground.  Most of the grassy area was being torn up for some construction, but Clara enjoyed climbing up the stairs and going down the slide in the tot area (there’s a bigger-kid play area as well, but she didn’t want to check it out.) She did briefly try the see-saw (a very cool 4-seater) but immediately wanted to get down.  We even saw someone we knew who was there with her three grandkids.

Diana Park

After our Passover Storytime at Booksmart, we went out for coffee with Suzanne, Mike and Elise and then walked over across the street to Nordstrom Park.  It’s another great playground with separate areas for 2-5 yr old kids and 5+ year olds (and has the added benefit of being across the street from not only a very nice new coffee shop, but our favorite gelato store).  Here are a few photos of the girls playing there today:

Nordstrom Park Playground
Around and around the treeClimbing Through

Another playground for our list, and probably my favorite so far, was Paradise Park. It’s only a couple of minutes from our house. We used to ride our bikes there and then pick up the path that follows the creek but hadn’t tried out the playground with Clara before. She had a great time. I’ve added it to the list on KaBOOM! (and got another $1 donation for Jumpstart in the process)

At Paradise ParkAt Paradise ParkAt Paradise Park

At Paradise ParkAt Paradise Park

Located right next to Jackson Elementary School (which also had a playground that we tried out), Jackson Park (on Trail Drive) is another of Morgan Hill city parks with a nice playground.

Clara liked the tic tac toe game:
Tic Tac Toe At Jackson Park

And the slides had cool bumps in them
At Jackson Park

After seeing the cool playground finder/review site at, I resolved to go try out some new playgrounds (especially because Clara loves slides and things these days.)   Today we went to try out the playground at the Morgan Hill Community Park.  There’s a special area for 2-5 year olds separate from the bigger kid playground area.

Sliding at the Community ParkDriving the playgroundAt the Community Park

There were even some ducks there for Clara to try to herd.

Chasing Ducks
I hadn’t realized that Karen’s organization Jumpstart is one of the beneficiaries of the site’s contest — $1 is donated for every valid playspace you add to their database.  So I’ll definitely have to go find some playgrounds that aren’t already included (the Community Park was already in there, but I did add a photo and flushed out the description of what equipment was available there.)

Phew! The Third Annual Silicon Valley Puzzle Day is over and done and was — by all reports — a tremendous success! Saturday was packed full of workshops and a Puzzle Party fundraiser for our new Library Foundation and then Sunday we had sudoku and crossword tournaments (plus bonus rounds of killer sudoku and cryptic crosswords). I know that I had a fantastic time and will need a few days to recover and do all the data entry and other clean-up tasks.

Here are a few photos from the event — more are up on Flickr

Clara and Emily at Puzzle DayTyler and Shachar @ the Puzzle PartyReady to startSudoku Final RoundGetting ready to start the tournamentFinal Crossword RoundTyler, Lisa, emily, Byron and Thomas

It was so much fun to work with Lisa and all our committee members and volunteers to pull this off.  Special thanks to my Mom who spent every minute of the weekend working on the event as well.

Those of you who know me recognize that in the weeks leading up to our annual Silicon Valley Puzzle Day event (this year on Feb 7 – 8 ) I tend to get a bit obsessed with crosswords and sudoku and the posts and links here get very puzzle-dominated.  Well, we’re definitely in full gear right now as we count down the last 2 weeks before the main event, which this year has grown to be an entire weekend of puzzle fun!

In addition to the workshops (all day Saturday, Feb 7) and the crossword and sudoku tournaments (Sunday, Feb 8 ) — to which we’ve added bonus competitions of Killer Sudoku and Cryptic Crosswords — we’ve added two more events to the lineup:

Free showing of Wordplay, the documentary starring Will Shortz, Jon Stewart, Bill Clinton, the Indigo Girls, and more, that inspired us to start Puzzle Day (and which is one of my favorite movies). Attend this new Puzzle Day event to get in the puzzling mood with your friends and neighbors at the showing this Saturday, Jan. 24, at 3 pm in the program room of the Morgan Hill Library.

• Also new this year, come to our Puzzle Party on Saturday, Feb. 7, from 6pm to 10 pm at the Morgan Hill Ramada Inn. Tickets are $40 each and benefit the newly formed Morgan Hill Library Foundation. Whether you’re a puzzle lover who wants to rub elbows with four-time American Crossword Tournament Champion Tyler Hinman, or just want to enjoy the company of fellow Morgan Hill residents who support the library, it promises to be a wonderful evening.  (Check out this great WIRED article about Tyler)

More information about all of these events are available at – and of course you’ll be hearing a lot more about them from me here.

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