TEA TIME

Greetings, I am writing you to confirm that David Blaine’s puzzle is indeed still unsolved? I assume that there is some amount of delay between finding the map, getting the amulet, making the contact and verifying the solution. Can you confirm that this process hasn’t begun?

The reason why I ask -- and I am no crackpot! -- is that I went to the location that I deduced from the clues (the “easy“ way, not your way!), saw a structure that would work remarkably well to hide and map/treasure and that unexpectedly fit in with another clue in the book, but the map was conspicuously absent!

To tell you that I am not crazy, let me say that of the “marker” near the stone, the last half of the digits were “12”.

Of course I don’t expect any guidance. But please let me know for sure that the quest is still ongoing, so that I know I am pulling my hair out for a *reason* (and I don’t have much left!)

[Cliff: The $100,000 Challenge remains unsolved.]

I appreciate you getting back to me so speedily, and am reassured that the quest remains unsolved!

As for your “no easy way” comment, are you contradicting Blaine in his Paula Zahn interview? ::

ZAHN: [...] Let’s talk a little bit about how tough it is going to be for people to determine in this book where the clues are and where they’re not?

DAVID BLAINE: I kind of created it, so -- with help, of course, but I created it so that it would be very simple, if you were to think outside of the box, or if you were to go the typical way of solving clues, it would be very difficult. [...]

If there is no “easy” way and the only route is the cipher route, then I don’t have a chance!

Am I allowed to tell you my ideas about where the treasure is? Or, if I actually found it, might this disqualify me?

(Just need to vent without jeopardizing my secrecy... I feel I’m 80% of the way there (uh huh)... )

[Cliff: I cannot confirm or deny anything about the Challenge.]

Well, I wasn’t thinking it would be a conversation, more like a monologue where you say “uh huh” every so often.

But shucks, I wish my damn girlfriend was more interested in this...

Well, I tried to keep quiet, but I find myself composing imaginary e-mails to you when I can’t sleep at night. Now that is seriously deranged! Even more deranged is that I’m contemplating taking on a partner, and I think it’s more to share my ideas than for any help I need... yet!

So before splitting imaginary money, I am starting this monologue. You are expected not to reply to anything I say (and in fact, I will send a couple of short e-mails to more plainly establish that there is zero information in your not responding!).

Read my messages, delete them, send them automatically to junk mail, whatever. Maybe I just need to share a wee bit to relieve the burden and to clear my mind.

I thought there might be some little value to you as well in seeing how one person in particular is going about trying to solve this thing.

...if I win, I’ll be sure to take my undeserving girlfriend to a nice place Like a five-star hotel (for instance, The Pierre).

The treasure is in New York city. Right?

The treasure is not in New York city. Right?

Sigh. Originally, I was going to take my girlfriend to the Sherry-Netherland instead of the Pierre. A little too obvious, perhaps, but my rule when following the clues has always been to side with the obvious over the obscure.

Then I made things more “accurate” and thought we should stay somewhere a little more north (or to be more precise, 30 degrees off of north -- did you know I have lived in NYC almost all of my life and it is only this challenge that made me discover that NYCs “north” is not really north?)

All well and good. Last night I’m lying in bed, and now that I don’t have to compose imaginary e-mails any more, my mind was free to roam. That damn Refrigerated Coke stuck in my mind. It’s been in the back of my mind for weeks, but hey, who can determine these things?

Out of my subconscious then, I had a sense it was in a picture. I knew which one. I didn’t know why or where in the picture, and I didn’t check it until a little while ago, but there it is. Coca-Cola. Sitting in the same chapter as the hotel me and my girlfriend will now stay in if I win.

This really is double-edged, as now I have to figure out why my greater accuracy led me off the mark.

Did you know that if you rotate 1/3rd of a circle 3 times, you end up facing where you began?

Dizzying.

However, let’s say I’m standing in a spot, call it MC, and I have in my sights another spot, call it V or shift-8.

Now let’s say I want to rotate *something* 120 degrees. There are many complications with this. Do I:

1. Spin myself 120 degrees, and then traverse a path to V?

2. Do I spin the map on which I am standing 120 degrees? If so, does V move too?

3. Do I pretend I am at the center of a circle, and spin the world around *me* 120 degrees?

4. Do I spin absolute north 120 degrees, and traverse relative to this?

etc. etc.

And then, one has to ask, if the MC where I returned to was the same MC I first went to. I don’t think so.

I don’t feel like plotting 30 points on a map.

Yet.

I shall try to make some educated guesses first.

MC also equals: church, hospital, shelter, mission? Or anything that could be described as a “complex”?

V=?

I began this game telling myself that if the map/treasure was not in NYC, then I wouldn’t care as much. So I filtered out anything that would lead me out of NYC. I did this consciously, as filtering things out can be helpful.

Then at a later point, I decided it was in CP in NYC, and filtered out pointers outside of it.

But this makeshift map may very well point outside of CP. I think I have to relax this filter now.

And keep my eyes open for:

a cluster of red dots 282 of something, or something 23.5 feet off the ground 5 pieces of red cloth, 5 red flags, or 5 red stripes 12 shotgun shells? 6 machetes, blades, propellers, fans, or watch-hands

Sigh. Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to retrieve!

So, good old DB decided to release a “serious clue” today on Larry King. Wonderful... just when I’m hot on his trail.

Preliminary thought seems to indicate that it is a pointer to Columbus, and, therefore CP. Is it anything more than this? I mean, you can’t even get at the statue with all the construction, not that one anyway. He said the clue “puts you right there”, so is he just trying to point to CP?

Hmm.. Simply a pointer to CP this late in the game doesn’t seem satisfactory. After all, it’s like it’s own little city in there! Although I suppose with the CP mindframe alone, some of the other things fall into place.... Still musing here at 4am.

Combine this with someone spinning erroneous (I hope!) theories on the quest4treasure board which nonetheless include the same map I’m working with...

Looks like I may have some competition on my tail soon.

Yikes! HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME!

It’s nice to see someone else is awake at this hour! I’ve always been more of an owl than a lark :)

Wait, what am I saying, I have to say “Yikes!” (again). A response! No one can say there was any information in that one, right?. After all, you are likely to get a bunch of e-mails about this new clue... I mean, I know my e-mail was full of question marks... I must stop that habit!

But it’s nice to know you have been reading my e-mails, and not only in my head.

I should really go to sleep now. But I have to work this out a tad more.

My original reasons for thinking the new clue pointed to Columbus:

* Remove the 7s from Levi’s tattoo = Columbus birthyear

* 10 weeks - ten weeks after Columbus sailed on his first voyage he found land

* also 10 weeks = 70 days, and the base of the statue is 70 feet (this one’s a slight stretch)

* and, as usual, my CP mindframe. This seems to have helped me *hugely*, even though it could arguably act as a blinder.

But now a few other things have fallen into place...

* Your spammaps rivulet of consciousness that I have returned to from time to time was posted on none other than Columbus Day.

* From the dates, it looks like he reached land exactly 10 weeks later (and not, for instance, 6 weeks and 5 days). This is just a confirmer.

* Egads - he landed in Haiti!!!!!

I always wondered if the other map was significant! As well as the text relating to it. Now I shall have to reread it.

Okay, other people are going to be on to this. Is this some kind of coincidence? I start sending you e-mails about this, and then this! I’ve had the analogy of the map for weeks, only recently making it more precise. I swear, if the morphic resonance theory is true, I have to find a way to shut my brain from propagating outward!

I am not even going to be megalomaniacal to suggest that my e-mails had anything to do with DB’s new clue!

Oh wait, there I go, being megalomaniacal.

Imbuing the world with a sense of mystery by creating a puzzle over it also seems to be linked with emotions that a lot of crackpots tend to feel. Go figure.

Okay, I gotta get to sleep. I think. Maybe just a little more studying. I barely know anything about Columbus.

P.S. I always did wonder what those 6 dots in a circle with one displaced meant. I still don’t know, but perhaps with this new connection I shall figure it out. For some reason I connected it with the question on your spammaps rivulet about the seven dwarves. You know, 6 there, 1 left out... Sigh. We’ll see....

Probably my last coherent thought for today...

I realize now that DB wimped out on Llarry King. He had his clue all written down precisely, and then he had to throw in the “and drop the most common dice number” comment.

It took me a while to realize this, but I think there’s a 95% probability that the “if my tattoo is fearless” portion of his phrase is saying the same thing as the “drop the dice” extra hint. So here I am trying to figure this out, when he did this step for us! Actually making it more confusing for the thinkers among us.

Doesn’t he have faith in our ability? On the other hand, maybe he shouldn’t, as I still don’t know why not having fear and not having 7’s are equivalent! Sure I can come up with stretches, but now that I realize the equivalence, I am filing it in the back of my mind for low priority!

(and perhaps, i realize, the non-closed circle on the map with a 7th element missing was actually a clue for the tattoo)...

This e-mail is just the last paragraph of a longer e-mail that I was going to send (and may send at some point). I’ve been saving potential e-mails as Drafts, one so as not to inundate you, two because I realize sometimes just the writing is helpful, and two and a half, because I don’t want to see DB end up on a talk show and give out another clue relating to my thoughts (paranoia the destroyer ;)

So I am concluding this evening with a line of thinking that I especially like, tinged with mystery, if not reality (at 4am, mystery wins):

There are in fact two “amulets” in the book. One modest one, that we see in the Village, and one not-so-modest one, near the very end of the entire book.

Like Indiana Jones faced with a choice of chalices, we might do well to “choose wisely”.

But wouldn’t it be interesting if these were one and the same?

and that the actual amulet/orb/whatever is found wherever the Village ends up being, and that this location is “near Harmony” in one way or another.

I still wonder about that other amulet.

I figure that, most likely, it is the “equivalent” of the one in the village, in that the church is meant to be “Harmony” and it is near Harmony.

It is possible, though, that it is the “wrong” amulet, because if you don’t rotate properly, you end up near Carnegie Hall. There is also a “Rose” museum next to Carnegie Hall.

I actually got hung up here for a day or so, even though I *knew* it was not the proper rotation. Don’t know why I tried the improper rotation first.

But, coincidentially enough, across the street is a place called “The Sun Room” (think Shine Deli -> Sun Room). You can get coffee and there are books, mostly on God. And, funnily enough, one of the books on display in the window was Calvin and Hobbes’ “There’s Treasure Everywhere”!!

Funny huh. Now that I think about it, though, I found the rotation to be more obvious than the scale, and you would only end up here if you had the scale right. So this amulet probably functions the way I stated up above.

This would be a good point to mention the “second” village that DB visits. The jarring element here is “huge posters of Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio”. In the absence of additional travel information, I plotted a point in the same direction, at the same distance from MC to V. I ended up smack-dab in Lincoln Center.

Brad Pitt = orchestra pit? Leonardo DiCaprio has movie in the back of the book, and there is a picture of Harmony back there? -> Posters of orchestras and harmony? Seems a little convoluted.

Also doesn’t seem terribly important at this juncture!

P.S. -- by which I mean pre-script, not post-script -- I am switching back to The Pierre. I had made a case for either hotel, the one for the Pierre being a little more convoluted, but now that I caught reference to the Four Seasons directly below the picture, that settles it! Enough about hotels!

There is something nagging me. And that is the belief that the Final Resting Place should be in CP. The thing which sticks in my mind most is the final chapter.

There are numerous references on the surface to BC in CP (not to mention the several “Cliff” references that seem to be turning up). But more importantly than that is this:

I am a Square when it comes to Magic (and not enough of a square when it comes to math), but what more beautiful symbolic representation of certain, um, enlightening elements in CP than the Simeon mosaic? Pillar -- aka Pole -- halo of Light at the top, and it virtually screams: “construct square(s) and get 4-digit # here”!!

And what better way to exceedingly narrow down a location in the little city within a city that is CP?

But unless I am missing something, and the goal really is shift-8, then it is not to be (although I am no master dessinateur). One wonders then what Simeon *would* tell me if I were as square as I should be.

I have tried many things with this chapter. The most commendable was just taking references to Hours, and converting them to Minutes (a la Einstein quote). This happened to be a Six by six Square, which excited me. But alas, it’s construction was not possible. Seeking a shortcut through “IV X I” has also not proved definitive.

I am not giving up on this, but it is not in the realm of that which I am most following right now. I have not written about it here. It is close to my heart still. But, one likes all threads to be tied up in the end...

I hope this falls in the realm of not actually giving me information, so that you can reply to this.

The rules state:

“It is not necessary to damage or destroy any real or personal property.”

and I don’t wish to engage in behavior that conflicts with this.

In NYC, at the base of some trees are stones. They are embedded in the soil, however, sometimes they are movable, and with some effort can be pulled out. Would you say that this conflicts with the above official rules?

My life would have been a lot easier if you had just said “Conflict”! Why didn’t you!!

Which makes me wonder... it certainly reinforces, at least a little bit, the idea that it might be in the ground still...

But I don’t think it is.

That pretty much sums up how I feel. I had been planning on having my next e-mail (which is now this one) be a heartfelt one which ended with me getting tears in my eyes at the sight of a basketball court. But that was days ago, and it feels like months.

I am about to collapse. I must be a big idiot. Those stones were harder than I thought to come out! I got tired after 30 minutes. Then I took a break and went to a diner for some coffee. There, I had what I thought was a revelation -- I had been wondering to myself if there were anything in the book to narrow down the location of the stone even further -- yes, after arriving at the shift-8, gasping at the anagram of an number (post-Howard Hughes operation), noting the color, after connecting shift-8’s to trees, trees to each other, and arm gestures together, seeing a building with the name of a tv show featuring same arm gesture, after looking up curiously at a watchful eye, standing under it and wondering whether I had an average stride.

Yes, after all this. Staring at a square and wondering which one. And I thought I had the answer while in the diner. The big clue in the sky, which I thought had been maxed out, but then I marveled at its potential versatility and your potential genius, clues within clues within clues within villages within villages. The scale getting smaller and smaller like shrunken heads.

So I looked at the clue in the sky and turned it the most logical way. Then I flipped a few likely stones. Then I turned it the secondmost logical way, and did likewise. Then I thought I should take the perspective into account, and not just the appearance, turned it back the logical way, and flipped a couple more. I was about to apply this to the secondmost logical way, when I got the teeth-chatters, a pain in my abdominal muscles, realized I couldn’t feel my hands, and got tired of the dirt.

Bear in mind that I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible, so that all of this took HOURS and then a few more HOURS! Did you have to pick such a damn busy street?

Rev Mike ain’t gonna be happy with his tree bed! But I’m sure he won’t even notice. People barely noticed me, even though I was a nut case, sitting on the curb at 3 in the morning, playing in the dirt.

I must be an idiot to have misinterpreted something so severely and at the same time thought it was the work of a genius.

I’m not sure where I fell off the beam. I know I must be *so* close, but all I feel right now is the desire to sleep for twelve hours. Maybe my stride isn’t average. Maybe the square, the village square, and the village don’t all compute. Maybe that clue in the air has served its full potential. Maybe it’s the car grill we need to look at now after all (although turning the picture in the secondmost logical way seems to coincide with this).

Or maybe I’m just a moron with my hands. I assume I would be able to tell if the stone were a stont... I mean, I don’t have to take a hammer to it or anything, do I? God help me if I do.

And who the hell knows what I am looking for anyway? I know the rules state a map, but is that the one I have? Then it’s an amulet, but David says it’s a ball, an orb, a whatever-the-heck, and I’m putting my money on the latter, since it figures visually in the clue that I assume is very close to the end.

You’ve done a brilliant job, by the way (I think, after all I haven’t figured it out. Maybe I’m just supposed to find Juan Carlos near the Artist’s Gate, and whisper “Dawn” in his ear while he does a sketch of me, after which we both go to the aquarium together and play with yo-yos).

And after being pissed about David’s new clue, I have to say thank you, as it lit a fire under my ass. I could have gone to the village a while ago, but who knows if the rest of the revelations would have come so quickly.

Now if I could only see the light.

...to be continued, but I’m completely drained of any ideas right now. It’s kind of scary, to have come so far, and not have any idea right now what to do next.

Oh yeah, and the best part is that I even went to mass today, for the first time in whoknowshowlong. I could’ve saved myself the trouble and checked the book: “Houdin didn’t pray.”

I reread your rivulet after getting some sleep and a clearer head. Now I get it. At first the phrase “spurious conclusion” bothered me. I had a flash of being on the wrong track. Then I looked it up. Botany. Nice. Can you PLEASE be quiet? You’re giving away the WHOLE store! And I need to rest, not to worry about some treasure hunter on my tail!

Now I know my e-mail didn’t influence you because you wrote the rivulet before I wrote my e-mail. Nonetheless, I did make these connections just recently. I think I need to put my head in a stont, to keep the thoughts to myself! Please stop post-saging my thoughts :)

I had a new idea, about a couple of minutes after I said I was out of ideas. After going to bed (I do my best thinking laying down!), I came up with something that seemed very pretty at the time, but I decided I would literally get sick if I went back out again. Unfortunately, after some sleep, this idea seems quite the opposite of pretty.

Time will tell.

(BTW, car grill as the final clue all the way. I mean, duh, it’s got a stone in it! And all I saw last night besides dirt, sitting on the curb, were cars rushing at me. And -- absolutelly best of all -- this journey for me began with a stone on page 59 of all pages. It is only fitting, and aesthetically beautiful, that the last clue should involve the other image of the stone.)

But where where where? Did I miss it in the spot I was last night? Doubtful. Maybe my new idea points to it. I absolutely do not have the constitution for a brute force search.

That is the best word to describe it. And now I am really going to sleep for 12 hours.

I don’t know where I am going wrong.

Let me explain my original theory:

Houdin walks fifteen paces... then he fires into the village (“square”). Although the place of interest in the real world is not fifteen paces from “under the watchful eye”, it is fifteen from the entrance. Good enough for me.

So I assumed that the thing I was looking at on the ground was a microcosm of the “square”, and each stone was actually a “building” -- so, in other words, he fired into one of the stones, and that’s the “ball” we want to retrieve.

And then I had the idea that if the square on the ground is really a village, then the picture of the other village in the book with the shift-8 might tell us the placement.

Okay, I believe I dug up all the relevant stones.

That was last night.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), even on the brink of exhuastion, I took one more walk down to the end of the block even though it wasn’t the direction I was going in.

And I noticed a similar structure on the ground sans tree.

Then after I wrote you my e-mail, I concocted the following: I started by thinking that it isn’t Houdin’s arms we want to walk into, but David’s. In his similar gesture, there is a tree falling. I initially took this to mean that I was in the right spot, because removing the stones was like uprooting the tree.

But then I thought, perhaps the tree has already fallen, i.e. it is no longer there.

(Then, in the Houdin picture, there are really two trees, one small one to the side, but still (apparently) on the same street. Initially, I took this to mean that that was the “other” shift-8, the one you get if you don’t rotate properly, which happens to lie along the same numbered street but further east. I thought that was clever.)

And if I drop the metaphor of the square being the village, then really by walking fifteen paces, Houdin *becomes* that tree that we actually see outside the place.

Houdin becoming the tree is similar to how the crucifix by itself now symbolizes Jesus, and of course he bears the same hand gesture.

Anyway, Houdin does not fire on the other guy, therefore, we are not looking for another tree, but yet a similar structure.

Then there is the SP reference, which I noticed doubly referenced with the entourage signifier. Perhaps it was more important. On the previous page, there is R,L,R,L which definitely implies paces. 20-30 plus about 30, equals about 50-60, and it was around 54 on my legs to the new place of interest.

Sigh. Here is when my excitement was mounting.

Remember, I am convinced the final location of the stone is presaged in the car grill clue. So then I do some counting and I gasp.

If I were a puzzle creator, I would definitely want to send a message to someone who had arrived at the final resting place and about to use the very last clue. Something that was not possibly of value otherwise. So you know (I hope) that I saw 38 choices before me.

This to me is final confirmation.

Okay, now taking the grill clue: I face oncoming traffic, as if a car’s grill is approaching me, then I look down at the square, with the grill superimposed in my mind upon it. And I turn over stones.

Ha! That makes it sound so easy. Actually, I try to kick one that I think is the most likely, because I don’t want to draw attention to myself. It takes about an hour to dislodge. Turn over. Nothing.

Then my girlfriend gets off work, and I need her to “cover me”. When she is there, I turn over another 6 stones, then I give up, get something to eat, go home and that is it.

To be more precise, I turned over 3 or 4 stones in the NE corner of the square, the most likely place facing a car grill. Then I reasoned that perhaps, since I can’t see an “X” after all, it must be on the bottom of the stone, if only metaphorically, and that I should reverse it (or if I am “in the car” looking at the grill superimposed on the square) and I turn over 3 stones on the NW corner of the square.

Nothing. I don’t think I did the most northwesterly corner one, but looking at the grill it’s hard to make a case that it’s an absolute corner one.

And I know the grill is the wrong shape, but I took the bottom of the ribbon or whatever that’s on the grill to form the bottom border, and that looks right.

Before actually turning over stones, I told my girlfriend I was 99.9% sure that the treasure was in that ground somewhere, and that there was a 70% chance it would be in one of the first two stones I turned over! And I felt it too. So “crestfallen” is putting it mildly.

I will try to do the other two corners. However, I am quite sick of this, and doing this makes me acutely uncomfortable. As my girlfriend will tell you, I usually don’t put things back the way I found them, and these stones look quite a bit more “up” than the ones around them.

I find it hard to imagine that I am doing what was intended. Yet I find it hard to imagine an alternative. Perhaps you assumed anyone who got this far would take one look at the ground, do a little thinking, and know immediately which ONE FRIGGING STONE the thing was under.

These types of stones seem the perfect place to hide a hollow stone. They are removable, yet highly unlikely to move without a purposive force behind them.

So maybe I just don’t have the right one.

But at this pace, I will have to go through a lot of uncomfortability to brute force it. Sure I can try the other corners, that’s only 6 more stones.......

......but I am losing my oomph.

I have become detached from the anguish!

One good result of my (temporary) detachment is that I am not feeling anxiety about someone else being right on my tail. I don’t like being motivated by fear.

Right now I am considering:

1. Turning over every frigging stone, starting with the corners. At my pace, and with my girlfriend only available to help me every so often, it should only take about seven years!

-- Again, I would expect to know the stone if I went through the trouble to pull it out. I’m not saying there needs to be an “X” on the bottom, but something. These stones were freaking heavy. I don’t know if I twisted them every which way, because like I said, I was very uncomfortable -- (some woman asked us what we were doing, and my girlfriend made up a story about urban archaeology!) -- but I would hope to know it offhand. Please let me know if I should bring a hammer!

2. Look for more clues in the book. Perhaps the rest of the numbers on the license plate signify something. Perhaps the R,L,R,L near SP in the book signifies something else.

3. Relax the assumption that what I’m seeking really is in the ground there. The coincidence of 38 makes me doubt that I should do this though. Where else would it be?

I have a hard time believing that after all these cerebral flights of fancy, the thing would resort to a brute force, physical draining, aspect. Which is what keeps the thought nagging in the back of my head that maybe I missed it in a stone I already turned over because I was rushing and I didn’t twist it the right way, or apply pressure in opposing directions, or some such thing like that.

These thoughts are not pleasant.

Either I am a bumbling idiot, or one insight away from the end. I’m siding with the former at this point. The only thing I know is that I REALLY, REALLY don’t want to dig out another stone on what feels like the busiest freaking street in NYC, unless I know EXACTLY which stone it is!!!

I’m going to sleep I hope. Perhaps a new day will shed new light.

(I still hate you, but now I am starting to feel some embarassment for myself to temper the hatred!)

:)

At this point in my adventure is when I began to entertain other possibilities. I started thinking about the car aspect of it. But only briefly. Because that’s when you asked me to re-send you those e-mails and I went back out into the CRUEL world!

I still wonder about that... Were you misleading me? Were you just telling me I was in the right place? Obviously I took it to mean “Keep digging up stones!” and that was (I hope) wrong...

Anyway, I’m going to take a short break now. This is more time-consuming than I thought it would be. You owe me dinner or at least coffee, and the promise to answer all my questions when this is over, whether I am the winner or the loser...

The short:

I tried to re-send you those e-mails again, earlier in the day, but I had no success. Nothing to lose sleep over, right?

The long:

After I was supposedly “going to bed” again last night, I had to look at the picture again for a little while (I had only brought a not-so-good photocopy to the “site”).

Yes, I noticed the vague writing in the bulb. I had noticed it several weeks ago, but now I was a wee bit more motivated to know what it said.

Okay, what it *most* looked like to me was “N39”, but I dismissed the implication of digging in the dirt to find an unseen stone.

Next, it looked like “N37”.

Okay, even though I said I was NOT going back unless I was SURE, this motivated me to skip sleep and head out into the cruel, cruel, cruel, cruel, cruel world.

What I did:

I stood in front of the stones and faced (New York’s) North -- i.e. my back was to the traffic along the street. I then began to count, starting in the upper-left-hand corner. I count like this: “1, 2, 3...” I learned how to do this when I was younger. :)

After reaching the end of that row, I continue downward, then left, then up, so that I have counted around the entire outer perimeter. Then I start on the inner row along the top.

After the top inner row, I have two choices. I can skip down and do the lower inner row from left to right, or I can continue “circling” the square, even though there are no inner stones going down, and do the bottom row from right to left.

That’s what came more naturally, so the stone I land on is in the lower inner row, to the left, one away from the very last stone to be counted.

Double double toil and trouble...

I get the stone out. At first I get excited because there is *some* marking on the bottom. It ain’t an X, in fact I can’t tell what it is. I wrap it in a plastic bag and take it to a “secure location”, which to me means about 50 feet down the block, and I investigate.

Nothing.

Either I am a moron...

...or you have underestimated the effect of soil, time, and weather upon the opening mechanism...

...or I have the wrong stone.

Yes, I tried to stretch it. God knows it was heavy enough to carry, maybe I should have dropped it!

Normally, I would say I gave up too easily. If this were the first or second stone, I might agree with myself. But I have pulled too many. This stone *does* look different from the others, though, even when I put it back in the ground.

Then I went on to the next to last stone if you count the other way. This one was amazingly reluctant to leave the ground. I thought this might be it. After all, we are “facing” the car in the picture, and from this orientation, we are facing the square in probably the most natural way there is to face it (as well as facing the traffic, though not head-on).

Out it came after much hustle and bustle. Nothing.

(Actually I thought from the stone’s visual location on the car grill, that it should really be N38 by this counting method. But all I had was the photocopy and the writing is not visible in it. So I was spared forcing my eyes to see a 38 in the bulb until I got home, and I didn’t feel like spending another hour turning another stone only to feel disappointment.

I am NEVER going to try this in the daytime again! It took me three hours to turn two stones, I had one older lady eye me suspiciously, and funnily enough, ran into another older lady that I had met at mass a few days ago! Haha! I really spun a tale to explain my presence there. Sadly enough, my encounter with her was the highlight of my day (she is a very nice person).

I don’t know if I am motivated enough to try N38. I believe a good night of sleep won’t have me waking up again until daylight. Gee, like a “normal” human being!

Don’t worry, when/if I find it, it will make up for all of this! It’s been a great adventure, even if my fun-meter is tipping into the negative range lately. I really do question whether you intended this last part to be so frustrating. I would guess that you did not. I was probably a few random neural firings away from moving on to figuring out something else. (Turning up one stone or two or three is okay, but when you start turning up the whole square, it does begin to feel like “damage to property”, of which I seem to be - surprisingly or not - very squeamish.)

Until my head stops pounding and my rest has been reached.

Okay, I think I have let the physical nature of this aspect of the challenge, as well as the feeling of being so close, and especially my anxiety and digging up stones in the middle of a busy street, overwhelm my thinking process that got me this far.

Sure, I came home last night and looked at the picture. Seeing the mysterious writing in the bulb made me not look at something a little more clearer: the license plate.

Here we go:

4C = 4 corners = the square

1 = one side has 11 stones 8 = one side has 8 stones 8 = one side has 8 stones* 0 = one side has 10 stones

* But one side doesn’t have 8 stones does it? No. It has 9. But methinks very strongly that it *should* have 8. And you know what they say, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself!

I can’t believe I’m contemplating going out into the cold *again*! Narrowing it down to one row is even less of a narrow-down than I thought I had before, but it’s the excitement of the new revelation that motivates me.

My only fear at this point is that I will not know the stone when I see it. Feeling that I am engaging in questionable activity by digging up these stones makes me a little careless in my investigation when I finally do get them out.

By my line of reasoning, I would think that you would want an “X” on the bottom of the stone. In case someone got to it by accident, then there would be a chance they would investigate it more, and then contact you (yes you, I have no doubt who will be answering the phone at the other end of the line!).

I do not think I missed it with the two stones of today. But those will be easy to recheck. I’m betting on good old N38. Face the car grill, face the square - I think I was being too clever when I faced the oncoming traffic.

Ah, what’s the worst that can happen: I spend all night digging out nine stones, load them into a pick-up truck, take them home, smash them, bend them, break them, throw them at the cat, etc.

(Just kidding.)

Well, the best course of action right now would be for me to get some sleep first, and tackle this in the wee hours when there are less people around.

Will this just be a repeat of excitement followed by frustration? Time will tell...

Downward and inward.

Every now and then I would scan your old rivulets to see if I had missed anything before my time. I did that the other day. I actually understand things! My favorite is the tree with “Potato Pah-tah-toe.” :)

But I don’t know how I had previously missed the June 27th one, especially as I was on the lookout for a pic like that, with tiles.

So, Simeon is telling us GPS coordinates!! That is SO wild!! I wonder if they are the coordinates to the final resting place, bypassing most of the necessary connections. If so, it must REALLY be difficult (and massive probably - for instance, my first thought at encountering the “IV X I” was not that it was a shortcut, but rather that I needed to reinterpret every “I” in the chapter as the number 1!).

And *that’s* the goldbug reference! I had thought it was to the “Beesop Castle” -> Belvedere Castle.

Well, it’s nice to have that settled. Better late than never. My only regret is not that I had any chance at solving it, but that if I had discovered this sooner, I would’ve immediately let go of the CP lamppost analogy, and been *much* more willing to let go of the idea of the treasure being *in* CP, and hence would have taken my map more seriously.

Well, that’s water under the bridge. Talk to you later, maybe. :)

Am I losing my mind?

I went back to the site. I found nothing. I unearthed the rest of the 9 stones which lie along the south border of the square. No “X” and lots of solidity.

I rechecked the one I had first unearthed this morning, the one that is “N37”, the one with the funny markings. I could have sworn I felt a little give at first, but then I didn’t.

Well, what the heck, it was the best candidate of the bunch, so I took it home!

I tried banging it a bit with a hammer and chisel, a tiny piece broke off the side, but I have no idea if that is normal for this kind of brick.

My girlfriend tells me that I am going to wake the neighbors, and - worse - she thinks that I am losing my marbles, and I am beginning to agree.

What should I tell her?

How deliciously ambiguous! On the one hand, you are agreeing that my marbles are gone, on the other hand, the treasure might very well be in the shape of a ball...

Well, here’s where it stands. I’m going to put off hammering until tomorrow when I awaken (assuming I don’t sleep until Friday!) and then we shall see what we will see.

I would have more confidence in my convictions if I could stop seeing a grid of stones in my field of vision! And maybe if I had slept more since the new Blaine clue. And maybe if I had eaten better. And maybe...

Let’s sum up the evidence for:

1. First stone I dug up after my interpretation of N37 clue. 2. Markings, or maybe I should say coloring, make it look different than other stones. 3. Was along the row where there were 9 instead of 8. 4. Is in the general vicinity of stone on the car grill, relatively.

Against:

1. This mother-effer seems as solid as a regular stone. 2. There’s no freaking “X” -- couldn’t you at least have put an “X”?

That’s it.

Looks like we’ll have to wait a little while before we have our chat.

Amazingly, I think I’m going to sleep as soundly as a stone!

Because if it’s in there, then I’ve got it, nothing to worry about! If it isn’t, then I don’t want to think about this puzzle or see another stone for at least 15 hours anyway.

If you know that it’s in there, and you are feeling _frustration_ that I am going to wait until tomorrow to hammer, then I am SOOO happy about that! >:->

I have awakened, and done some preliminary stone-work.

Nada.

Little pieces came off, but I’ve never taken a hammer and chisel to a stone before, so I don’t know if that’s normal.

The Michelangelo quote comes to mind...

Now what’s with this rivulet? Is it me or have I read this exact same thing before?

The only good thing is that I can actually, for the first time, interact with a stone without *worrying*. Hey, at worst, I only have to retrieve 9 different stones and play with them all. Actually, this sounds like a nightmare.

I still am not thinking properly. The reason, I think, is that I am not having fun anymore. Indeed, I feel like crying.

I look back at the November 7th rivulet. It reminds me of what I think is supposed to happen with the stone, and there is a vampire reference there too...

Are you telling me to drive a stake through this frigging thing?

I know, I’m stretching it. I have to laugh. I’m becoming a nutso.

Helen of Troy... Trojan Horse... something hidden inside something...

And is it me, or is there a symbol in the sky in yesterday’s rivulet? One that looks like DB has on his forearm before the number...

I wish I could read what it says after “Look in:”.

Okay, I can’t do this right now. I haven’t slept enough. I’m going back to bed.

Hatefully yours, T

Venom spew: If this is the stone, or even if one of the other 8 are the stone, then you guys did TOO good a job. I mean, really, who’s going to go digging stones out of that thing by *accident*? You could have and should have made it more identifiable when recovered...

Lestat says: “Still whining, Louis?”

I hate to disappoint you or myself at this late stage.

I know my mental state could use some sleep and refreshment.

My girlfriend is not helping.

Okay. A little ordering here.

What I believe I am right about:

1. That this square is the place referred to by the pic. 2. That the license plate tells me the stone I want is part of the side with 9 stones.

What I might be wrong about:

1. That the bulb says “N37”, or that I am interpreting this (counting) correctly. I can even make myself see things such as “W29” in the picture. My eyez iz going crazy! 2. That I would be able to tell the correct stone from a brief visual and tactile inspection.

I also don’t know how accurate the actual positioning of the stone in the picture is. Am I supposed to be able to deduce which direction the car is heading from the sunlight or something?

I look at the rivulet image. Obviously, one head is popping out above the others. There are 8 of them, probably because I took one already.

Obviously the picture had jumped out at me even with the vampire rivulet.

But I thought it had to be more complicated. Why am I dismissing the obvious this late in the game?

I have to say, I feel a little embarassed. You are seeing all my bumbling foolishness, whereas before I only shared after connections snapped into place.

Okay, but who cares.

The most obvious interpretation is that if I face north, it is the center stone of the southern outer border.

(Then I try to make it more complicated. The most likely location of a missing face in your pic is in the middle on the right. If that is supposed to represent the stone I took, then blah blah blah...)

Now I read tomorrow today. 2nd dot = pillar -> ball.

Okay, this could be confirmation of the above, because it is the second stone in the group of 9, but only if you face south!

So the above could also mean that I have the right stone, which would be number 2 if you face north.

And the vampire analogy could very well have meant to keep chiseling away.

But I don’t think so.

But here is my main problem:

If it is that center one, then it really doesn’t match up with the stone in the grill, nor with anything near “N37”.

Depending how you count, it could be “N17” or perhaps “W26”. It’s hard to make a case for either of these being in the bulb. Unless I am misinterpreting how to *use* the bulb. Sigh...

Okay, clickety-click: “bread without any ingredients” is in fact two dots away from pillar->ball. Also, this is the longest sentence of the bunch, standing out in that way.

This would correspond to the picture if we start at the bottom, from left to right, and then go up, so counter-clockwise. Why it should be this way, though, I don’t know.

Also N17 <- first commandment, seventh commandment?

But I can’t lie to my eyes - no way that pic says 17.

My other problem is that this center stone is not “two away” from the one I took.

Clickety-click:

pillar->ball 300 700 = 37 bread without ingredients. Amend: 1 7

i.e. N17.

It’s clicking with about 70% certainty. If it were 100 or 90% I would go out right now. But as it is, I will wait until tonight.

Will this be the final ascent out of despair? Time will tell...

I just realized how much easier, less uncomfortable, this would have been if I had a car! Just park right alongside there, dig up a stone, take it into the privacy of my car. Repeat.

I have had quite enough! Perhaps the sense of being so close, with the possibility of literally being physically one stone away from the treasure, has overwhelmed my mind.

I now have in my possession “N17”. To be more precise, I have the center stone from the southern outer perimeter.

Cursory inspection at the sight proved disappointing, but I took it home anyway.

I got a little more excited on the train. I had the following thoughts:

The official rules state we are looking for a map. The one that potentially comes to mind is the paper in Dali’s painting, at the top of the cross. For a while, I had speculated that the map was towards the top of something, maybe a tree or a lamppost.

And I always thought “stont” might mean “stone T”.

So I realized if you superimposed a cross on the grid, with the top at the south, then N17 would be the very top of it.

(Not to mention the following crazy idea - I always thought the sun was going to play some role in finding the treasure. A la Indiana Jones. You have had images of the sun on your site. DB talks about how every one should get the chance to watch the cycles of the sun. Not to mention the Tarquo pic which has never figured definitively into any of my connections. Even the rivulet where you talk about Indy has you in sunglasses. Now that I think about it, you had the sun *and* something that reminded me of the tattoo in your “Open” rivulet. Fanciful thought - the sun hits the cross on top of the church and projects a shadow of a cross onto the stone grid. And then you take the top of that cross.)

Yeah. Sure.

In any case, I now have two stones. I hit the N17 stone with my makeshift chisel. Some pieces broke off, but this thing seems as solid as a stone. Go figure.

Do you have any words of encouragement?

Perhaps I have stepped into a parallel universe where no treasure was hidden. Well, the joke’s on me.

ARGH!

In between the two sites, before I found the second site, I had gotten frustrated and starting turning to the book and having some fanciful thoughts, some old, some new. Then I made the connections to the second site, went digging, and got frustrated again.

I thought I would continue to ground myself in a little more hard, cold reality - those horrible stones.

Now I am ready to give up on those stones. At least for a few days. Sure, I can brute force them. But I am going to entertain my speculations first, because that is far more fun!

This will lend itself to peaceful rest.

But it will also lend itself to what I do best - have flights of fancy and then try to ground them in actual clues.

That is what I am beginning to do now. Reawakening some past ideas that I had, and ones that I was beginning to have a couple of days ago.

They involve the sun.

I always thought that if I ever had to meet someone as part of this treasure hunt (another flight of fancy) and they asked for a password, the first one I would try would be “Dawn”.

And I am starting to think that dawn is very important indeed. But not as a password.

Stay tuned...

(Ah, it feels so good to do this after all that frustration. I don’t care if nothing comes of it. *This* is what is really fun!)

Okay, let’s make some connections here. Now in the back of my mind, I realize that all of these connections might very well lead me to the same stone that I have in my possession. If that’s the case, then so be it. I value the experience. And anyway, I will be much more motivated to bang the crap out of it if that is the case.

I don’t remember exactly when I got the Indiana Jones idea. But I do remember saying to my girlfriend, maybe 4 weeks ago, “Honey, I think I might have to go to CP at dawn and watch the sun hit Balto’s nose!”

I am believing in the sun again now (though not Balto).

But to get me anywhere at dawn would require far more than a simple speculation as that.

We have the Tarquo picture, which seems important as hell. He is standing by “Shine Deli”, which to me is a clue about what he is pointing at -- not his watch, but at the sunlight reflecting off of it.

Then we flip the page and we see how the sun has formed a ghost image of the dog’s nose.

Now where have I seen a ghost image like that? Yep, the picture of the car --> We can conclude that there is a connection then to this last (or near last) clue.

Let’s see what else we got.

The shadow puppets.

The vertigo chapter, and how DB hopes that we all have an opportunity to watch the sun come up and go down. I always thought he was trying to tell us something important there.

Let’s see...

In between my investigation of the two different “square” sites, I briefly turned to the “premature burial” chapter because I don’t think I had used anything from that chapter in my adventure yet. Now, after seeing stones on the ground like that at the sites, the close-up of David’s burial site, with those tile-like stones around me reminded me of that.

-> i.e. connection to final site.

What else do we see in this chapter, that could possibly involve the sun? Absolutely: the shadow of the cross. Combine this with an image of what could be a map at the top of a cross, and this becomes very significant.

Let’s turn to some of your past rivulets now:

June 15 - the aforementioned Indy one. I have already noted the sunglasses. Now I will quote: “...somewhat dim, and he always saves the day.”

Sounds like a description of dawn to me, doesn’t it?

Another:

October 31 - quote: “...lured to stay the night for the promise of money.”

Right about now, the doubts in my mind about this fanciful idea are diminishing.

My initial conclusion right now, and I will have more speculations to follow, is that I should go and stand in front of that stone grid while the sun is coming up.

But I want to flesh it out more, and I am certainly going nowhere this coming morning!

I am going to sleep on this, and feel refreshed in the morning.

(Just when you think you’re done with something, it starts to get even more interesting!)

I have already mentioned the sun in your “Open” rivulet. It’s funny, I always wondered if that little shadow in front of the tattoo was just an accident. Clever, you put in a way to symbolically refer to it.

And now I think I understand the references to vampires.

What hurts vampires? Well, two things: a cross, and the sunlight.

October 8 - quote: “the SLEEP key, the WAKE UP key, and the POWER key.”

What is the common connector here? The sun.

Picture of a shadow being cast on stones --

Ha! Any doubt is getting *very* very small now.

(And another rivulet that I remember off-hand, about a “sun map as large as a card table”.)

(Side thought: I hope the idea won’t eventually be to dig in the ground *underneath* the stone I have, because this ground is exposed now).

Well, it’s been very interesting.

I find myself going to bed at a regular hour tonight.

I will probably sleep way past Dawn, but who knows, maybe I’ll wake up at 4 in the morning feeling refreshed (highly doubtful).

As it stands, here are my probability estimates:

68% - that the whole sun idea will lead to the same stone I have in my possession. So I will bang it some more in the morning. But I have a growing hatred of stones at this point.

5% - that I will have to use a mirror in conjunction with these ideas.

27% - that there is some other, as yet unknown, path that this leads to.

Nite, T

Lestat says (something like): “I’m beginning to feel like my old self again. There’s some life in these hands yet.”

Guess what? I’m having trouble sleeping.

A little thought yields the following:

Throw out the mirror idea. Nothing warrants it. Reduce the probability that there is a further path to 0%. I can’t see how or why a shadow would lead to that.

So we are left with the shadow itself.

The top of the cross is the point we are interested in.

Given the location of the cross relative to the rising sun, there is only one way the shadow of the cross can be oriented, and that is with its top along the southern border. And then, it’s side either extend to the sides of the square, or go within or beyond it, in which case a centered cross makes the most sense anyway.

Therefore, the top of the cross can only be the center stone along the southern border that I brought home today.

This thing feels solved to me, Cliff. I finally brought in the last hanging strands. So I am just going to ask you flat out: how the heck do I open this thing? I have tried stretching it, twisting it, banging it, and getting angry at it. What is going on?

Please. My heart is beating too fast.

I realized I may have jumped to a foolish conclusion, but the combination of april fool’s, hoax, and “stone” in quotation marks made me think that the picture of the stone and orb on your website *were* the treasure.

I realize that isn’t necessarily so, from your e-mail below. But please write back to confirm this, as the emotions I am feeling right now are strange and unpleasant!

Okay, I am catching my breath. I don’t know why I was so quick to interpret it in a particular way.

All of a sudden, every stupid thing that every idiot speculated on that it was a hoax, or that the picture itself was the treasure, came flooding into my mind, but more importantly my heart.

I just went from confused to absolutely bewildered.

I just came back from the cruel world again.

I figured I had become so attached to assuming it was one of stones on the surface of the tree bed, that I had not explored the ground underneath. This was because of some comments that DB had made about the stone and that no digging was necessary.

But, I reasoned, the final connection came from the chapter called the premature *burial*, so I decided to go out again, and dig into the ground underneath N17.

I got about 7 inches below the curb, which I consider a lot for digging into a NYC sidewalk! I mean, it began to feel like I was doing something bad to the property - if a cop had come by, he probably would have stopped me.

So now I am at a loss. The puzzle feels solved, the book feels closed. I have absolutely no more ideas. Trying to come up with anything else would feel contrived and artificial. Yet I have nothing to show for the work I have done so far.

Then I come home, and read your new stuff, and I am more bewildered than ever...

Oh well.

I was hoping I would wake up today and feel less that I have stepped into the twilight zone.

In my fragile emotional state, all the new stuff on your website has me reeling, emotionally and intellectually.

I am having the sinking feeling of being duped.

But I just can’t believe that. I *know* that those were clues leading to that location. If they were all for a treasure that was never hidden based on those clues, I am absolutely stunned, and sunk.