Jan
31
2009

Adventures in Geekdom: Puzzles

The Muttroxia family is into puzzles these days. Every few years we have a brief surge of puzzlemania. Puzzles takes some effort, but are relaxing enough to be able to talk to each other. At least that’s the idea. I have a hard time with that, I get involved in the puzzle too much. As we’ve recently upped the ante by not allowing ourselves to look at the picture on the box, it requires that much more concentration.

We had a 500 piece puzzle. As any normal people would do, we looked to connect the corners and sides. We finished the top row. While she was talking about someone’s mother who was in the hospital or something, I counted that the row was 31 pieces long.
I interrupted, “Something’s wrong, the top row is 31 pieces. That’s not right.”
“What?”
“It can’t be 31 pieces long. This puzzle is a grid and 31 doesn’t divide evenly into 500.”
“She had to go back to the hospital!! She’s going to be a in wheelchair the rest of her life!”
“Oh, right. Yeah, that’s really sad.” (said while I rearranged some pieces.)

Update: We finished the puzzle a couple days after I drafted the above. The final count was 18 rows and 28 columns. That’s 504 pieces. I am really annoyed. If a puzzle says 500 pieces it should be 500 pieces! First of all, the dimensions of the puzzle give you a clue – knowing that there have to be 10, 20, or 25 pieces in a row is a big clue. You can usually figure it out by counting the pieces and figuring out a perimeter that’s roughly in the golden ratio, but still. Second, it’s false advertising. The box should say what’s in it!

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2 Comments »

  • Ole Ole USA says:

    do you weigh your 8 ounce filet mignon when it arrives…or how about the quarter pounder…..? You got more than your money’s worth as it was over 500….that’s why you are a quant guy and not a marketing guru!

    i can’t think of anything less productive than puzzles….even my addiction to reality shows beat puzzles!

    my 5 year old is fairly decent at puzzles, but he’s not quite getting the whole start with corners and sides concept when i try to explain why it’s better to start there….but who am i to say, since i hate puzzles and don’t have the patience to complete anything over 25 pieces.

  • Muttrox says:

    Ole – I eat a filet mignon the same way whether it’s 8 or 8.1 ounces. I don’t do a puzzle the same way if it’s 20×10 or 18×12. It’s a clue!

    Puzzles are good fads. Something fun to do for a couple weeks, then switch to something else. Minesweeper, crosswords, sudoku…

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