By now most of the MetaUrchins have moved over to unfiction; and though the game was played, or followed in one way or another by thousands of people on different places over the web, unfiction became our home, and probably the most comprehensive portal for the MetaCortechs ARG.
Paintover's new picture was immediately noticed on unfiction (actually, did anybody else develop this ridiculous habit of reloading web pages every few minutes?)
The caption read "Grabbing Internet Files, a primer", which led to the prompt discovery of a gif file with the same name (6). In a matter of minutes the picture is replaced again, titled "Oh, and BTW..."
If I could, I'd dedicate this picture to thebizrock, who definitely ROCKS!! Unfortunately, there was nothing that evident in the "congrats" image, so numerous attempts to "crack" it take place, including mapping the dots to constellations and world maps. The images' binary file names, which translate to "1, 4, 9, 25" are also a hot topic of discussion.
In keeping with the established tradition of confining the times of major discoveries strictly to the interval between midnight and 5 am EST, Geinstein finds this text stegged (7) in the gif at 4:34am of October 9th:
change in plans.
Second verse, same as the first.
The blind transit's been plugged to the oafs
Let's view it from the top
Blindly, still, but climb those stairs carefully
dub dub dub, hack and slash
You'll find the way!
Not that we can infer much more than "look for another url" from that^.
The search for MLO's password continues. In the last five days, there wasn't any progress at all, and people started to get pretty frustrated, until, on this day, Ehsan was the first to notice the update to MLO's bio page. He posted to uF that there was a line added, stating that The Beatles - When I'm 64, was his favorite song. He also wrote "this update might imply that the number 64 might indeed be a hint to his password". In hindsight, that was a very wise remark and it should have put us on the right track, but at the time, we massively ignored those wise words and happily dived into another few days of heavy research.
This time, the Beatles, their Sgt. Pepper album (that had Aldous Huxley among the 65 people posing on its cover) and the song lyrics were the major items being investigated. And when I say investigated, I really mean Sherlock Holmes style: the MLO login problem not only made me buy a copy of "Brave New World", it also made me "borrow" the Sgt. Pepper LP from my parent's house, learn the When I'm 64 lyrics by heart, do background-research on every single person on the album cover, and many more things. On october 11, I posted this to uF:
I've been trying to look for connections between Aldous Huxley / Brave New World and The Beatles / When I'm 64 and came up with the following:
1) The (cover of the) album Sgt. Pepper, where Huxley is in 18th position, if you include Leo Gorcey in the count (who was originally on the cover, but later painted out)
2) Their mutual love for drugs (mainly LSD)
3) The fact that Huxley died on november 22, 1963, the day "With The Beatles", their second album was released (and the day JFK got shot)
4) There's an album from the Steve Miller band called "Brave New World", on which Paul McCartney collaborates on one song (My Dark Hour).
Alas all this did not turn up anything yet
Of course it didn't! That's because we were thinking in the completely wrong direction! Other possible solutions posted to the forum became more creative by the day and included things related to the Commodore 64, I Ching, things that happened on april 22, the T-Ford and even Ben Affleck (due to an in-game joke by the PMs included in Wongmo's mailbag, which you will encounter later).
In total, I counted 191 solutions posted to the unFiction thread covering MLO's Metadex, and I'm sure at least ten times that amount of possible passwords have actually been tried before on October 14 LokiNZ provided us with the answer. See a little further on in the book for his account on the MLO solve.
From Beth's dextop:
|Email from firstname.lastname@example.org|
It has been my experience that there is more to gain from following your instincts than in ignoring them. Your mind is complex; I will grant you that. However, it has its weaknesses. In order to work as efficiently as it does, it skips information that is often vital...filling in the data as it sees fit. Your instincts rarely fail you and ignoring them can often be dangerous and lead to regret.
It is a lesson that I learned in my childhood and something that has brought me far in life. It's not one that I like to ignore, which has made this week so difficult. I did publish the article by Dr. Leo Kane, though I still have my doubts. Politics is an ugly game and one that I've rarely won. Despite the wealth of sound material for this edition, there was no choice but to publish with his quackery. That may be harsh and an apology may be due, but a quick look at his website does not ease my concerns. There is just something about that man that I do not trust. I've begun an investigation into him, though I've not found anything conclusive. Thus my doubts, my instincts, went ignored. Is it right to be so upset when people that you respect do not respect you?
I guess the correct reaction to this e-mail should have been "www.LeoKane.com... 404... www.DoctorKane.com... 404... www.DrLeoKane.com... OMG!!" but this website, along with www.leiphe.net and www.wongmo.org has been found a few days ago through reverse IP lookup; we have been checking all three of them religiously, but none of them were up yet. Of course, they had to go live at 2:30am EST.
intermission by: yanka
The day of Oct 10 was the first day I realized that being a night owl in an ARG has serious advantages. You end up becoming part of a very small group of people that form a sort of “subgroup” within the collective, as the only people working on puzzles with you are other night owls and people from Australia.I happened to be checking the known websites late at night, and then got the idea to check leiphe.net, a site with a previously known URL but no content. To my surprise, a webpage came up (a few hidden pages on leiphe are lessons and map). My heart started racing a bit, even though this “discovery” was trivial. If memory serves me correctly, it was me, Monki, and Yeahyeah working that night, exploring the content on these new sites.
For some reason, one of my main foci that night was cataloguing all of the quotes listed on Dr. Leo Kane’s site, which were randomly inserted each time the homepage was loaded. I ended up listing probably over 20 quotes, many of which were from a character named Wongmo. This ended up being a relatively important aspect of Kane’s site, as it directed us towards a site at Wongmo.org.
The really good part of the Oct 10 update occurred at the Wongmo website. For me, being heavily involved in music and audio in my real life, it was a breath of fresh air to find MP3 files scattered around the website. Unfortunately, my dial-up connection and lack of speakers on my web computer makes it difficult to explore audio files quickly. Thus, my first “find” occurred when Monki said he heard a reversed voice at the end of one of the audio files. He mentioned that “More Wongmo at w o n g m o r e” could be heard. I quickly typed in the /wongmore directory, and was elated at the result.
The fact that the Wongmo site contained so much content was both a blessing and a curse. There was a lot to explore that night, including people reflected in the eyes of smiley faces, deeper meanings in hand drawings, and even analysis of music files. Though in the end, all of the content was just that and nothing more. It is a tad disappointing, when you spend so much time looking for puzzles.
So, it seems that we have these cast additions: Dr. Kane, a psychiatrist whose article Phil reluctantly publishes; Fiona Leiphe, an expert on web journaling, currently based in Arizona; and Wongmo, a "spiritual counselor"... seek your inner dolphin... "good good, bad bad"... lol, is this guy for real?
One of the things that we got all excited about when the game started was this news flash on metacortechs: "A meet and greet is scheduled for October 10, 2003 at 8:00 pm at the Intercontinental Hotel on 5th and Lake." First, because there was a hotel on Wabash and Lake in M1, though it didn't quite look like the kind of place Metacortex would want to have a corporate function at. Second, because it meant that something would happen that day; and in the beginning, it was nice to know that whatever this thing was (this "thing" that turned out to be an ARG), it would last at least until then.
That^ is the function that Beth talks about in her mail to Phillip:
|Email from email@example.com|
I understand what you are saying. However, I'm reminded of something C.S.
Lewis once said, "Our instincts are at war...each instinct, if you listen
to it, will claim to be gratified at the expense of the rest." Man stands
above because of the ability to think, to reason. We have the power to
sort through our conflicting instincts and see the truth. That power comes
through logic. As it stands right now, there is no logical relationship
for the patterns that I am seeing.
repeat of the Plagues? That just doesn't happen. Logic would almost have
to dictate that it is nothing more than an elaborate hoax. Yet one that
is so complex? That spans the world? I have been poring over images, articles,
and emails and it just does not add up. Nothing adds up.
There is a new project at work, one that could make quick work of this. Unfortunately, I don't have access to the application myself. However, there is a function on Friday. The office would be empty. Marcus has access. Is my sanity worth the risk?
So, the plagues were more than just an easter-egg-type-thing? And Beth wants to use the Labyrinth to - what? - check if someone is planning an apocalypse?
We'll never know what Beth was hoping to achieve with Labyrinth; I actually have a sneaking suspicion that nobody really ever knew that :-)
|Email from firstname.lastname@example.org|
I cannot believe my night. I cannot believe what I found. I cannot believe that I was caught. I cannot believe that I let myself get off track. Phil, what is wrong with me? Why am I losing my focus? Why is James suddenly everywhere? What is happening?
As planned, I was working late on a project and told Marcus that I would do my best to get to the hotel on time. I explained that I'd put the stuff on his desk when he left and that I would give him his key when I got to the hotel. Everything was fine and the office slowly emptied out. I went into his office, knowing that he would have superuser access to the latest Labyrinth build. It was not a problem and I could have easily explained it all away.
Yet there it was, an entire folder on James. I just found myself looking through it all. It makes no sense. Why does Marcus have it? What does he know? Is this why he's been so cold to me lately? I had the folder open on the desk and was looking through his other files to find something, anything, when I saw Katherine's shadow. I threw my report on top of the folder, but I'm sure it was too late. I tried to talk my way out of it while attempting to put everything back in order; I'm certain that it didn't work.
We headed to the meet and greet together and she didn't really say anything about it. Come to think of it, she was more interested in talking about the paranormal. I didn't see her talking to Marcus at the hotel, he was busy with the other directors. I can only hope that she lets it go before Monday.
What was I thinking? More importantly, why is James suddenly everywhere?
So, MLO has an entire folder of information on Avery? Why? Or, more importantly - why?? Did he have something to do with Avery's disappearance? Oh, somebody crack his password already plz! And we still don't have a Metadex account for Katherine... Beth, you should really be more careful... and you should remember to include detailed descriptions of stuff you find on your boss' desk next time.
Whatever she discovered in that folder must have been pretty significant - this update to Beth's little-boxes is all about James and MLO:
Biography: My Work
I’ve never been a cheerleader-type and I certainly wouldn’t have gotten an award for school spirit. I’m a behind the scenes sort of person that does what needs to be done to the best of my ability. So when I was honored with the first corporate-wide employee of the month, no one was more surprised than me. Granted, logically I was a good choice. Several months after James Avery, a brilliant and passionate man who gave his heart and soul to this company, announced his retirement leaving the company without direction. After some languishing on the decision, the company has finally appointed a new CEO. While this is ultimately a good thing, the changes and uncertainty have made many employees and investors nervous. My entire career has been spent with Metacortex in R&D, a department that represents the future of the company. By choosing me, the company is showing faith in the dedicated employees as well as a commitment to the future. It was a very symbolic choice, yet one that I hope provides me with some security.
That wouldn’t have been an issue just a few months ago. I’ve worked under the same man since I started with the company as a college intern. We clicked immediately and he became more of a mentor than a boss. He supported me, he challenged me, but most importantly, he trusted me and I trusted him. Now I am not so sure. His demeanor toward me has slowly shifted over the past few months. It was easy to justify with the increased pressures that he has been facing, though he always rose to the occasion in the past. My work has been consistent over the past few month, my habits have not changed significantly. Yet his attitude towards me has changed. Last night I believe I discovered why.
Beth isn't losing her focus, though: judging from the update on her "hobby" page, she is as interested as ever in the "plagues":
Biography: My Hobby
Today I am faced with accepting one of the most elaborate hoaxes that I’ve ever seen; a series of events spanning the world which seem to have come right out of the bible. Logic would dictate that this just couldn’t be real. Yet on the other hand, it wouldn’t seem very logical that a hoax of this magnitude would be feasible.
And don't forget to read Metacortex' news about last night's party, especially this bit of Walsh's speech:
|The face of the world will be forever changed because of the work we are doing here together!|
Really? The same world whose destiny you Metacortex folks would like to fulfill through your technology?
And now... Are you creeped out enough yet? Do you feel that the world is just too much to bear anymore (or maybe it's the game, but who can tell the difference?)? Do you need a good healthy doze of humor and somebody to heart? Laughter good. Yes, I am talking about Wongmo! Check out his mailbag for the day - that's got to cheer you up; my favorites:
From: Fleur B
Are you 64?
No. Note to self: Buy better sunscreen.
From: matthew h
wongmo, what is Mlo's password?
A few hours later, the picture on paintover is changed again:
It takes but an hour to find http://www.little-boxes.net/stairs/stairs/stairs/; and the login is: user: proteus, password: door (9). This is what we find there.
So, our hacker buddies are talking about some network that somebody "whomped" on with non-human metal feet? We are clueless as to what that may mean; and there is so much speculation - most of which turned out to be wrong - that I won't even bother listing it here. Let's see if there is anything that we can actually make some sense of: certain "oafs" stumbled all over Underscore? Yeah, that sounds familiar.
More importantly, though, last time (um... that was... when?) Scratch got fried and jeopardized everyone else? How? And what spike in Redland is he talking about? And how is Caesar misrepresenting him?
Well, there^ are a few more things for us to be clueless about. But we are not discouraged; no, we squeeze every last possible bit of information out of silvia files. Quite obviously, Caesar and Scratch are not very fond of each other. And while nearly everybody else is pretty much convinced that that drama is carried over from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar" (with Scratch = Cassius, and Caesar = well, Caesar), I am of the opinion that Scratch is not really a "bad guy" - no, he's just a rebellious, somewhat upfront, kid. And I plan to carry my affection for him through eternity :-)
I will turn it over to xnbomb now for an account of "sweating over a puzzle that turns out not to be a puzzle," and a bit of a lesson in fortune-telling.
Alright, let me start this off with a mea culpa: I am as a guilty as anyone for making a debacle out of figuring out what silvia.graffle was actually communicating. There's been some question of whether or not we even want to include discussing this herein. I'm going to argue that we should include it, because it's actually illustrative of a more general problem with puzzles in the context of an ARG, namely how do we, as players, figure out what we are looking for in a puzzle. I wanted to read more into it than was actually there, and I wasn't the only one.
In the case of silvia.graffle, we had more information to go on than we usually did, and it still was awfully tricky. We already had an idea that the hacker that posted using the .graffle extension was named Omni (surmised because of the OmniGraffle diagramming and charting program). Furthermore, we knew that the .graffle images communicated in a visual fashion, using symbols to get the message across. We also had the following in silvia3.txt, which more or less told us what the message said:
omni was right - the layout here indicates more than just some thunderstorm or something
Even with these ideas in hand, we still weren't really sure how silvia.graffle communicated this message, how texel could have seen that in there. Here's the image itself:
On first inspection, we saw an image with two layers: One layer showed a cloudy sky with a full moon, the other layer a tarot spread. The question is what the message could be in this file, where and how was it encoded? With the benefit of hindsight and having some things that were suppositions then becoming facts now, it's not so mysterious. But at the time we were working on this, when we weren't sure that Omni was the .graffle author, and we didn't understand Omni's files so thoroughly because we only had two examples (carelessly.graffle being the other one), it wasn't so obvious.
The element of the image that seemed to have the greatest potential for containing information, the potential for the 'coolest' solve it you like, was the tarot spread itself. Tarot cards have the potential to carry a message in any number of ways: The interpretation of the spread itself might tell us something about the situation, or numerical, linguistic, or other symbols associated with specific cards might reveal some sort of code. With that in mind, it seemed necessary to identify the specific cards in the spread, and then interpret them in the context of the spread. The spread itself was identified as a Thoth spread, based on the position of the cards. The cards seemed to be drawn from the Crowley deck. I spent some time trying to identify the specific cards, which proved tricky because of how they were obscured in the image. I successfully was able to determine the identities of a few of them, and made some 3-d perspective images showing them as they might appear more clearly:
The fact that the card's faces were somewhat obscured in silvia.graffle should have been a hint that the specific cards didn't matter. But their obscurity could just as easily have been taken as making the puzzle more difficult. It's at this point where this more general problem about the nature of puzzles in ARGs needs to be mentioned. It's often hard to know what kind of problem a puzzle is posing, and thus hard to figure out by what angle a puzzle needs to be solved. This is where the true value of collaboration in a forum becomes obvious, when you realize that for some puzzles, you need to look at a puzzle in lots of different ways to ever hope to solve it .
The beauty of our collaborative solving on the UnForum is that we could afford to pursue as many lines of thought as we desired. Sure, there were always some posters who thought that not only were their ideas right and everyone else's were wrong, but also that no one else should bother pursuing ideas that they think are wrong in the forum. Those people totally miss the point of collaboration, and its utter necessity in the context of this ARG and perhaps other ARGs as well. Some puzzles, like silvia.graffle, don't really lend themselves to following a single, logical line of thought. You have to have lots of different people, trying out different ideas to finally find the right one. The obscured card faces seemed like an element of a puzzle. It turned out that they were, but not in terms of their specific identities.
This only became apparent when culturejammer found an image that seemed to be the source of the tarot cards using Google. At the time, that seemed like a clear indication that the tarot spread image was plucked from the Net like so many other images that appeared in the game, and as such the specific cards didn't have any meaning. I took a slightly closer look at the website where the image originated www.glitterbook.com. I found it slightly strange that while Google still had the image, all trace of it had been removed from the author's blog, to the extent that all of 2002 (when the image was posted) had been removed. In retrospect, the reason is obvious ... Krystyn is the author of that blog, and one of the authors of the game!
By finding that image, culturejammer really turned in the tide in interpreting silvia.graffle. Once we knew that the specific cards were meaningless, the discussion turned to a less detailed interpretation. The tarot cards were just a spread of tarot cards, or a layout, as texel put it (perhaps if we called it a layout earlier ...). We then turned to the clouds, and the full moon. The full moon had a numeral 3 written on it, and this seemed to be the most obvious place to find the message, since it was the only thing in the image that seemed truly out of place. I had half an idea at that point, connecting the 3 with the moon, and I posted it:
The three on the moon is the easiest thing to see, the thing that shouldn't be there so you can't help but notice it. It is over the 03 card in the spread, and that seems unlikely to be a coincidence ... /moon/moon/moon? The third moon ... of what? The third month ... full moon in the third month ... March 15th or so?
I describe it as half an idea, because it was half of the meaning of the 3-moon. It took about 24 hours before ArtificialChaos got the other half of the idea:
This caught my eye and jogged my memory.
March 15th aka ides of March.
The prophet in Julius Caesar warns him to beware the Ides of March.
This was a big piece of the puzzle. Put a 3 on a full moon, and you've addressed a message to Caesar. The rest fell into place pretty easily: The thunderstorm was represented in silvia.graffle by the cloudy sky, the tarot layout an indication of the significance of the events that the hackers had been tracking beyond simply a natural occurrence.
That's pretty much all there is to write about silvia.graffle, although there is a footnote that sheds some further light on our silvia.graffle struggle and how the PMs were prepared to release us from our torment, only for us to solve it just a few hours beforehand. In the subsequent set of hacker files, a curious thing occurred. For reasons that we can only guess at, unjust.lhp and unjust2.lhp were exactly the same file. This seemed likely to be a simple error, but of course PMs never make mistakes... right?
In the days that followed the ARG, one of the PMs graciously unearthed an alternative file that might have been unjust.lhp:
- march 15th, 'member? total pulse going on. bad day, def. yep. not a good
so yeah, saw something. nothing that forced a dump of noncritical procs though.
12:58:59 oedipus logger: processor load average: 0.03, 0.07, 0.06
12:59:59 oedipus logger: processor load average: 4.94, 5.21, 4.86
12:00:59 oedipus logger: processor load average: 4.85, 4.75, 4.91
12:01:59 oedipus logger: processor load average: 4.65, 4.67, 4.73
12:02:59 oedipus logger: processor load average: 4.84, 5.32, 4.56
12:03:59 oedipus logger: processor load average: 4.93, 4.65, 5.12
12:04:59 oedipus logger: processor load average: 0.07, 0.05, 0.01
The critical part of this is those first few words, particularly the mention of March 15th. If we hadn't gotten the 3-moon/March 15th/Ides of March/Caesar, this really should have helped us. The really interesting thing here is the timing: ArtificialChaos posted at 10:21 PM Eastern time on Oct. 15th (which is 2:21 GMT on Oct. 16th). The unjust.lhp file that did get uploaded was stamped 21:34 GMT, about nineteen hours later. Compared to the week or so we had struggling with silvia.graffle, that's no time at all. It's conceivable that the original unjust.lhp was designed specifically to help release us from our silvia.graffle torment, and the fact that it was changed before uploading was an accident, or perhaps was intentional since we no longer needed that hint :-)
Phil sends this e-mail to Beth:
|Email from email@example.com|
Beth! I'm sorry but I've not been able to get a decent connection since I arrived and my account logins have been giving me an inordinate amount of trouble lately. I meant to respond earlier; I've been worried!
What did you find in the folder? And what exactly was going on with you and James? I mean, I know you were close and that you saw a lot of each other...did he get you mixed up in something? Are you in trouble?
I have to say, I never took a liking to that guy. I know you and I agreed to disagree on that point a long time ago, but is this finally the proof you needed that he was a bad risk?
I have a feeling that if you keep your head down and your nose to the grindstone, this will blow over quickly. You're probably making more out of it than it has to be.
Let me know how it goes...
to which Beth replies:
|Email from firstname.lastname@example.org|
Files! He had detailed files on both of them! Where would he get those and why would he have them out after all this time? It doesn't make any sense!
And of course he called me into his office this morning. I haven't felt that guilty and helpless since I got caught stealing cookies when I was 8. He said maybe I should take a sabbatical. I told him I didn't want to but maybe I should.
No, I keep reminding myself that I just need to buckle down and concentrate on my work while I'm at work. But then I can't stop trying to wrangle my research into some semblance of a pattern, to the point where I obsess so much that I would have to question any pattern I did arrive at...and THEN, on top of it all, this image of James suddenly has the ubiquitousness of an AOL free trial CD!
Why DID he have that file? WHY?
Funny that the PMs think that by reminding us that MLO has files on Avery in his metadex, they are somehow advancing the discovery of MLO's password. Guys, we remember. LokiNZ is almost here. Actually, he is here.
intermission by: yanka
Like many others, this was my first time playing an ARG and it's been quite a fun learning experience over the past couple of months. A work colleague told me about the metacortechs website a few days after it was first discovered, and after some searching around on the web I found the unfiction forums.
During that first week all I could do was try to keep up with the progress everyone else was making and hoping that I could contribute something at some point. I decided to concentrate on a couple of areas - the MLO password in particular.
I went down several dead ends and became frustrated like everyone else, but I realized that the best approach was not to go off on a tangent looking for some obscure connection. That's when I went to unfiction's online tools section and spotted the base64 (8) converter.
I think the first password I tried was "mlo" in lower case, which didn't work. I tried several other words but realized that they were too long and would be difficult to remember. I was really frustrated because I felt certain I was on the right track, so I had a look in Beth's metadex for some clues and spotted an email signed with MLO in caps. That's when I thought - "hmm, maybe I'll get a different result if I use caps".
When the password worked I couldn't believe it. I was sure I couldn't be the first person to discover it and never knew for sure until the PMs posted their FAQ. It's so much more rewarding solving a puzzle that's taken time to unravel rather than one that comes easily.
The biggest reward, though, was getting plenty of positive feedback within a few minutes of posting.
I have to say how much I've enjoyed working on this and I really appreciate the hard work the PMs and the other players put in. Now I'll probably go back and catch up on the threads I missed and work out how the puzzles were solved. That'll be perfect training for trying other ARGs out there :-)
As soon as we're done showering LokiNZ with love and virtual champagne, we download these from MLO's dextop:
|::||01/02 // Zurich trip // extension granted 01/07|
|::||Flight no. re-confirmed // v.m. erased // luggage abandoned|
|::||call c.s. // management-by-proxy|
|::||Receipts stashed under blotter // -restaurant // - dry cleaners|
|::||neighbors report // problems - excessive // noise night before the // 2nd event|
|::||she wanted contact info // long distance bills|
rent-a-lemon // gas tank fill-up // add to receipts // THANK YOU // HAVE
A NICE DAY
[the address on the receipt is: 3200 North Kimball, Chicago, IL. As found later, a gas station in Chicago]
soc security nuked
- no credit history
- credit rating - none // How???
clean slate, blank slate // no trace, only this
|::||request credit charges for 6 mos // spike in spending predicted for oct '01|
|::||what about J.?|
|::||Admin shipping slips @ front desk // possible trackback - documentation of mc info leak // was he our Judas? // why her, too?|
Heismissing has got to be Avery - Avery went to Zurich in January. However, he also "announced his retirement" in January - so is MLO talking about 2001 or 2003? In either case: wtf is "extension granted"? And why was his luggage abandoned - what, he just vanished from the airport? The "stashed" receipts are probably Beth's, though (remember her notes?), but is Beth the "she" that wanted contact info, or is it sheismissing? And what was the 2nd event? For that matter, what was the 1st event?
Sheismissing filled up her car in Chicago - big deal, it's not like we have a date... actually, later it turns out that the absence of the date is both a big deal, and a major obstacle on our way of figuring out the storyline. "Was he our Judas?" Regarding what? What is MetaCortex doing that shouldn't have leaked out? And, heh, I actually just right now figured out why the spike in spending is predicted for oct '01 (omg, did I just type "oct" and "1" and it had nothing to do with the evil picture?).
If you think I'm going to start answering my own questions all of a sudden, you are sadly mistaken. And no, we are not any closer to figuring out who sheismissing is. Hell, we still don't even know what a little girl with ponytails is looking at, so what do you expect?
Yep, we were right - Beth should have been more careful in Marcus' office:
For the record, Kathy's birthday party was referred to in MLO's calendar (he also had Halloween highlighted there). You can see why we immediately develop a strong dislike of Kathy. Hmm... Beth "didn't stumble across anything of significance." What would have been of significance? And, whoo, we get another user id and one more MetaCortex project that sounds like a Greek myth. And, Beth e-mails us:
Work is not going well at all. That's part of the reason for the resurgence of the email list. I'm just not comfortable writing the truth on my website and that bothers me. I have always made a point of finding and stating the facts as I know them to be. Now that may lead me down a road that I am unwilling to take.
Last Friday, I was working late. I had explained to my boss that I would put a few papers in his office and then lock up for the weekend. While in there I was distracted for a few minutes and a coworker seems to have assumed that I was looking through company secrets. That was not the case at all. I was merely distracted by a single folder. Unfortunately, the worst possible employee to walk in on me did just that. Of course she ran straight to Marcus and told him. So now I have "problems with authority" and a "troubling attitude" that is "distracting me from my duties." Now does that sound like me? He did have some valid points when he called me into his office. One of which was to watch what I write on my website. It's not unheard of for people to lose their jobs based on what they say online. So, here we are, back to the days of email. At least for now.
My life is only slightly better. I feel as though I'm haunted by memories of days gone by. I'm terribly concerned about a good friend from my past. He seems to be missing and though I've not spoken to him in years, I've tried to reach him with absolutely no success. If one didn't know better, it would almost be as if he never existed. What would make a person go into hiding like that? And with his ex-wife? They were on good terms for the sake of their son, but it was just for his sake. I always believed that he just needed to get away from it all. Now I know otherwise and yet I know nothing. I'm so worried.
My hobby is as confusing as ever, so at least that hasn't changed. I've found a number of instances that seem to be based on biblical plagues. I believe that they are part of an elaborate hoax, but it seems just too elaborate to be one. I've put a few of them up on my site under current research and I'll add a few more shortly. There just has to be a logical explanation to them and I will figure out just what that is. If you have any ideas about them, I would love to hear your theories. Feel free to send them my way, you know the address.
PS: I received the following letter last week. I have been meaning to get it scanned and uploaded on to my website, but haven't had the time. She really would like to gain some understanding in hopes of receiving some compensation from her insurance company. I am at a loss of what to tell her; perhaps her letter may trigger something with one of you.
Mrs. Rockwell down the road said that you might be interested in hearing my story and that you might know someone that could help us. It's been quite a mess and I'm just sick over it.
On October 6, I was cleaning up the lunch dishes and noticed the sky going green outside the kitchen window. They always say the sky goes green before a tornado and I wanted to call Mr. Ross inside. Now it struck me as odd then because it was a beautiful day but you can never be too safe about such things. So I hustled outside and called for him but he couldn't hear me so I ran right after him. The next thing I know, a loud crash scared the fright right out of me and I couldn't move. Mr. Ross came running and helped me back up to my feet and when I turned back around, the house was in a pile on the ground.
Now I know that it had to have been an earthquake. Houses don't just fall apart like that and the insurance man said that he talked to the weather service and that there wasn't a tornado, which I could have told him. He also said that it wasn't an earthquake as nothing else was destroyed, not even the chicken coops just down from where I was standing. I don't know how these earthquakes work, but there is just no other possibility. He also said that the only thing that could account for this happened at suppertime and about 2 miles down the road which just happens to be where Ms. Anne's goat barn collapsed. But I know that it was just after lunch because Mr. Ross always does the back field at 2, you can set your watch to it, and I could see him working on getting there.
Well now the man is telling me that the insurance won't pay us for anything. And really, it's not the money. I lost my mother's china. It was her mother's and her mother's before her. Nothing can replace that. But it sure would be nice to have them help us pay to have a new house built. That's why we pay this insurance and it's not cheap. I really do hope that Mrs. Rockwell was right and that you'd be able to explain this for the insurance man or point me to someone that can. As I told you, I'm just sick over this.
Thank you kindly,
Her missing friend had an ex-wife and a son? Cool, so now we finally have a plausible candidate for sheismissing. Also, apparently, Mrs. Ross' "event" is rather important (Moriar and xnbomb, who spent most of their waking hours those days mapping the locations of Beth's "events" would probably be able to tell you the significance of "Fallen House") - Beth archives it right away.
She also makes a tiny update to her site: The Picture; and the file properties and link name lead us to thenekodas.com. The site is very informative: it consists of a picture of the sky, complete with clouds and tree branches:
Nekoda also happens to be the name of an Old Testament tribe that returned from the Exile, and the word itself can be loosely translated as "painted over". Do with that information as you will.
In other news, there is an update on Phil's Metadex:
Well, yes, Phil, you already told us that Kane is a "quack".
Moving on: there is a new picture on paintover:
The formula for solving paintover pictures is already all worked out. trip's solve: www.underscorehosting.com/magnify/unjust.*; user: autolycus, password: scale (do you see the magnifying glass, and the scale, and the musical score with stuff under it, and the word "unjust" omitted from a quote by Autolycus? Well, if you tried enough combinations of these words, you'd have found the unjust files).