A List

I was cleaning my room when I found this list in a pile of papers:

It’s my handwriting from the last couple years, and it looks faintly familiar, but for the life of me I have no idea what it means or why I wrote it.

… can anyone help figure this one out?

596 thoughts on “A List

  1. I hate to stick my head in and say something so late in the game, but this is oddly reminiscent of Amazon.coms SIPs (Statistically improbable phrases). Amazon describes these as:
    “Key Phrases: Key Phrases are made up of both Capitalized Phrases, or “CAPs” and Statistically Improbable Phrases or “SIPs”. Together, these provide a quick glimpse into distinctive phrases and subjects in the text of the book. You can click on a Key Phrase to view a list of books in which the phrase occurs.”

    They also provide a list they call Concordance: http://www.amazon.com/gp/search-inside/concordance-help.html

    Your word list seems vaguely akin to these things.

  2. maybe the xx is not xx, but a quickly drawn girl

    x[1] = headWithHair
    x[2] = body

  3. If it weren’t for “parrot”, I’d say you were trying to prove that the way you write your “g” doesn’t look like the way you write your “s” ;-)

  4. Hey, I was just looking at the page again and it looks like there might be a check mark behind the word resupplying. It could correspond to the x’s at the bottom. Just thought I would point that out.

  5. okay. I recently stumbled upon a site called wordcount.org which categorizes 86800 words according to their usage frequency. The number one word is, of course, “the” and the last word is “conquistador” the site has been around since 2003, so as long as this list is slightly more recent… it… could work?

    so the words according to this:

    evenings = 5452
    foxhounds = 66358
    johns = 17608
    parrot = 13019
    lithographer = 83093
    legends = 12719
    resupplying = nothing… it isn’t on there. resupply, however is 53463
    bunting = 27278
    leg = 1908

    i noticed resupplying has a checkmark, or something similar over it, starting at the e, crossing the s and going through most of the u. i suppose all that could be is another rip.

    5452 66358 17608 12019 83093 12719 53463 27278 1908

    mean: 31099.777… = hydrophobic
    median: 1908 5452 12019 12719 ((17608)) 27278 53463 66358 83093
    range: 81185 = obiang …?
    average of squares: 15,559,848,220
    sqaure root of that: about 124739.12

    i dont see anything in that… anyone else :P ?

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  7. Maybe trying to guess someone’s password based on a hint?

    Ive gained access to some systems this way.

    The X’s could represent failed attempts before being locked out…

  8. prehaps you were just going through an online dictionary, starting with a random undtermined word and clicking on related word links at the bottom of the page, noting them down as you went to see how many words you could get through before your only option left to click at the bottom was the word you started with?
    thats the sort of thing i would do :)

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  10. Is it coincidence that there’s “Johns” and “Legends”? John Legend?

  11. Its pretty simple…
    You wrote it while inebriated to confuse yourself later… I have actually done this in a journal (flipped it open to a few pages from the end and made a very random list of words or a cryptic note, then found it later thinking.. “uhm….”) My ex told me about it after I spent a suitably long period obsessing over its meaning.

  12. I think it’s probably the results of a wikidive, or if there’s no links from each page to the next, a series of Alt-Xs.

  13. maybe you were doing ad libs but didn’t want to fill in the actual book?
    It would explain odd words out like ‘johns’, and the rather varied word choices/
    As for the xx, maybe you were just being affectionate to yourself?

  14. I can’t believe the number of replies this post got. You were just trying to learn spelling words for a spelling bee..

  15. Thinking lazily about problem-solving methods Says: (from the link)
    “[...] the best I could come up with was “words at the top of successive pages in Animal Farm”. But it feels lame and unworthy [...]”
    Augh! WHERE in Animal Farm? that’s an amazing coincidence, and I often use books for sources of randomish words. Randall could very well have had a copy of Animal Farm and been using words (1/page so they don’t form a sentence) as test subjects.

    The CAPTCHA is offering me “ten Berets”.

  16. Followup re: Animal Farm:
    “Here, in the *evenings*, they studied blacksmithing, carpentering…”
    “In the *evenings* he would admit privately to Clover that the hoof…”
    many more for “evenings”.

    “…cut your throat and boil you down for the *foxhounds*…”

    “…taken out subscriptions to ‘*John* Bull’, ‘Tit-Bits’, and the ‘Daily Mirror’…”
    closest I could find, but “Jones” is a very common character. See also at the bottom of this post.

    absolutely nothing for “parrot”. there are a few “sparrows”.

    “…the *lithograph* of Queen Victoria over the drawing-room mantelpiece…”

    “…This was merely a *legend* which had been spread…”

    absolutely nothing close to “resupplying”.

    absolutely nothing close to “bunting”.

    Many, many “leg”s but that seems to be incomplete or a mistake on the list.

    NOTE: Randall may have seen partial matches such as “John”, “lithograph”, “legend” and modified them to fit his rule. I don’t have an edition of Animal Farm (actually, I might…) but the page breaks are probably different on Randall’s.

    Summary: due to “parrot”, “resupplying”, “bunting” it is unlikely Animal Farm was involved, but still possible because of “lithograph” and “foxhounds”, which are otherwise uncommon.
    Randall, do you have a copy of Animal Farm?

    CAPTCHA: “Merlo to”

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  18. I’m surprised no one has really thought of this as a large plot devices in Metal Gear.

    The three that really jump out at me are Foxhound, Parrot and Legends.

    Foxhound is the organization
    Otacons sister had a parrot that he now keeps with him as a memento to his sister…
    Legends Snake really is a legend, and the games recently are centered around the legend of the Patriots. Which if “Patriots” was written down as well I’d be certain that this is what it would have been about…

    Next is Evenings, this could possibly be a setting in one of the MGS games?
    Johns, I have no idea…
    Lithographer is probably some person in the next game?
    Resupplying is an easy one, Snake needs to resupply for the next mission.
    Bunting and Leg are one in the same, He uses his leg to Bunt something away.

    Now this would only work if your are a fan or have played any of the Metal Gear games…

  19. Perhaps you were making a list of things that could relate to the other thing.

    the evening is for resupplying

    foxhounds are for hunting(just supposing that you accidentally made a ‘b’ instead of an ‘h’)

    and johns(as in long johns) you wear on your legs.

    and you didn’t finish the list from there.

  20. My guess is you were beginning a list of Inherently funny words. I would guess you were reading the above article at some point and, noting that most of the people quoted in said article assert “k” words are funny, you made a list of k-less inherently funny words to “be a rebel”. I mean, things like “johns”, “bunting”, “leg” seem to me to fall into the IFW category, especially if you imagine them being read in a sort of plummy oxbridge accent.

  21. You where writing notes on what you have been doing the last few days…

    Resupplying, with the -sup- crossed out says replying.

    You had a few evenings replying to lithogrophers when one evening a foxhound ran of with with johns-leg and you realised that the parrot would be good for bunting…

    The word ‘legends’ is just weird.

  22. usr/dict/words (and similar, likely) doesn’t contain plurals so you must have added them on purpose if this is what you were using.

  23. A little late, but I re-came across the “Project Walnut/Butterfield” story in my saved Internet-stuff files, and this paragraph:

    “(I have often thought that it would be useful to create a list of names, chosen such that knowing one name on the list provided the least possible information about the rest of the list. We would, of course, call such an enumeration ‘Borges numbers,’ after the numbering scheme described in J. L. Borges’ story ‘Funes the Memorious.’)”

    made me think of this list. It’s an explanation along the same lines as the nerd-baiting one, but much less paranoid. Just a suggestion….

  24. Have you ever played the game bookworm adventures? The largest word you have is lithographers which is 13 letters long, three letter short of the max word length in bookworm adventures… Everyone keeps suggesting scrabble boggle and ghost… which I find it very hard to get words that long in scrabble and boggle. I admit i have never played ghost so I do not know about that game. But when given sixteen letters to work with… and being able to manipulate those letters, bookworm adventures seems a more likely choice if it were a game you were playing. I do not have the biggest vocabulary and I find myself finding ten letter and eleven letter words not uncommonly…

    Just a thought

  25. It seems to me that this would have to be some sort of combination game (i.e. combine a word from column A with a word from column B, and see if you can make a story out of the two words put together). Though I assume you would have figured that out.

    Regardless, you shouldn’t be reading these, because as I’ve read on now, I’m getting more and more obsessed, and thus probably further and further away from the truth. You may have built it up so much that no answer will ever satisfy you, and you just keep on going, forever. In fact, maybe you were offered some sort of “you can do one thing, anything, and you will immediately forget it – what would you like to do” scenario, and the tangent you created an impossible riddle for you to solve – leaving you with an infinite game (as you must be running out – the rot13 game seems like a game one would play after getting bored with a long line of games).

    Not only is this list stuck on my mind, now I’ll lose sleep over whether or not there are infinite tangents to every moment of life, which sometimes overlap and screw with each other… And now I’m stuck on the chances of that happening to me -_-. It’s gonna be a sleepless week…

  26. It could be a list of words from a game of madlibs! That would explain the random and slightly humorous assortment of words…

    Just a thought. :)

  27. Ummm…

    Strange, but…

    Some strange words are in plural. You don’t often write “Johns”, right?

    Does “Litographer” remember you of something? It’s not an usual word.

    My theory is that those are part of some codified message, it seems typical. I once found something like that and never decyphered it again.

    Definitely, you wasn’t writing just a bunch of strange words that came to your head. And I don’t believe it was a dictionary either because of plurals.

  28. HEY.. THAT’S RIGHT.

    I Agree with you there, probably, that “Leg” was the beginning of “Legends”, you was going to write it on the Right column, but then you decided/remembered/realized that it should/must belong to the left one.

    I still go with the plural thing. No one writes “Johns”, that’s not random words you’d remember. And the fact that many words appear in plural means it was *probably* not a word you got on a dictionary.

    Where did you find it?

    Does it belong to some notebook of yours?

    Where did it come from?

    That might get us some clue.
    Until your answer, IF you answer, i’ll google it for a bit and try to get something.

  29. YOU’RE FORGETTING OF SOMETHING…

    The “X”s…

    What is that about? Two mistakes? Maybe you was playing a web game of some sort…

  30. Agrees to all counts of nerd-sniping, the jury finds the xkcd comic guilty of 1 count of nerd sniping.

  31. You mean I just read through all 491 comments, and it’s not even solved yet?! C’mon, I wanted to hear the answer after all that! Fascinating speculation, though. This really is a great room.

    My personal theory is that it’s a list of reCAPTCHA words written down perhaps with the express purpose of playing a later game of nerd-sniping. Until reading your later response to the suggestions, I didn’t really believe that you’d forgotten what it was, but that’s still my best guess. As has been pointed out, that might explain the somewhat archaic nature of many of the words, and why they’re not in dictionary form (like plurals and gerunds).

  32. Are you left-handed? Because if you are, than that’s definitely not an alpha. My X’s look like that (the upper one) except reflected over, since I’m right-handed.

    As for what the rest of it means, beats me…

  33. Just a theory here–I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thirsty and feeling creative or interrupted from some inspiring dream. I’ll get up and jot down notes that make sense to me in my sleepy state. The notes could be for a poem, a short story, a journal entry or some horrible bad idea that sounded great at 3am. I’m not always so careful what I scribble the notes on either.

    I’ve found pieces of paper where I put down some word salad along with the shopping list. At the store it took me a bit to realize what had caused this–a very bad idea for a poem in the middle of my frozen food section supplies.

    My main point was, perhaps the bottom and top aren’t related. I doubt that is a huge help to you. Unless you are a sleepy note writer, which I’m sure someone would have noticed by now.

    Not all of the notes I’ve dug up have been important. Usually the cat shreds those. Though it is usually interesting to try to figure out what the heck you were thinking a year ago. I’ve journaled the majority of my life and my handwriting isn’t always so legible. I spend a lot of time trying to decipher it and figure out what the feck I was talking about!

    I do wish you good fortune, Master of xkcd, though on figuring this out.

    ~N

  34. Damnit, I had plans for tonight and you just make me lose 2 hours!
    And the worst part is, I still have no idea what this means!

  35. I say consider yourself lucky that you got words. I recently found a paper that had a giant spiral, what looked like a sine function, and some weird spiked things. It took me three weeks to figure out what it all meant.

  36. it depends on how you write your “x” ‘s whether that is a connected x or an alpha symbol. when i write mine, they are connected on the other side.

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