Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Unite and conquer

Date: 1 June 07
Time: 5 ish o’clock
Location: Crys Blur’s living room
Weather: Raining billis and kuttas
Mission: Solve 1026 piece photomosaic jigsaw puzzle (that’s right, 1026)
Motivation: Strong

Day 1:
Subject 1 (Crys) and Subject 2 (Buck) clear the dining table and dump all the contents of the puzzle box on it.

The subjects are confronted with a tall mountain of jigsaw pieces.

Step 1:
Demolish the mountain.

Step 2:
Straighten up all the puzzle pieces such that no piece is hidden from the eye.

Step 3:
Realize that the eye needs light and lots of it. Also realize that there isn’t any space left on the dining table to assemble the puzzle.

Step 4:
Move the dining table to a well lit room. Take over another table and designate it as the assembly table. Assort the puzzle pieces into groups based on color. Call the pizza guy.

Step 5: With tummies full, the subjects seriously stare at the task at hand.

Step 6: Subject 2, being a veteran puzzle solver (relatively speaking) decides to isolate the border pieces (with smooth edges) first. Meanwhile subject 1, a puzzle virgin, deciding to take her own approach, begins assembling a random part of the puzzle.

Step 7: Subject 2 gets immersed in resolving the border issue, but the line of control starts getting out of control. Subject 2 furiously begins to calculate the number of pieces on each side for a 27 inch by 20 inch puzzle with 1026 pieces. The math-phobic Subject 1 stares in disbelief that Subject 2 could somehow find a way to introduce a math problem in the middle of such a unique spatial orientation problem.

Step 8: Subject 1 realizes that she would be alone for a while as Subject 2 unleashes the inner engineer/math nerd, and equipped with his arsenal of tape measure, calculator, paper and pencil, goes into a serious number crunching mode. Subject 1 studiously continues work on her part of the puzzle muttering “Blue Flowers Red Thorns…” over and over.

Step 9: Subject 2 screams, “It is 38 by 27! We need 126 pieces for the border!! Wait a minute. That is 3 times 42. Maybe we’re on to something.” and resumes the hunt for the edge pieces.

Step10: Subject 2 starts randomly aligning the edge pieces based on previously measured and marked dimensions. After an impressive 100 odd pieces, Subject 1 eyes Subject 2’s progress enviously, and shelving her modest assembly of some 10 odd pieces, joins the volunteers for the border control efforts.

Step 11: Even with all the edge pieces located, the border control project progresses at snail speed.

Mood: Gloomy

Step 12: Subject 1 has a ‘waaaiit a nimit’ moment (#1). All the mini-pictures on the jigsaw puzzle pieces are facing north-south. In a jiffy the border is done.

Mood: Ecstatic

Step 13: The subjects celebrate their success with the border securing project with a high five. 136 pieces down, 888 pieces to go. The subjects retire to bed recouping for another day.

Day 2
Time: Noonish

Subject 1 rolls out of bed and goes through the ritual of brush-tea-cookies. Subject 1 decides to give the jigsaw puzzle a crack by herself.

Step 14: Assort jigsaw pieces in the north south orientation.

Half way into step 14 there is a rumble in the tummy. Rumble is pacified with yet another take out.

Step 15: Subject 1 hunts and fetches puzzle pieces by hunching over the dining table and realizes that at this rate, she is going to end up at the chiropractor center to realign the spine that is twisted from hunching. Subject 2 decides to join in for a couple of hours and quits again. Subject 1 continues obsessively.

Step 16: Subject 1 has ‘waaiit a nimit’ moment (#2). Instead of hunting and fetching for puzzle pieces she decides to pick up pieces with distinguishable pictures and hunts for the location on the template poster. Even with recurring motifs in the puzzle, it is easier to look for patterns on the poster than located a piece in an ocean of puzzle pieces. Plus this strategy gives relief to the spine as hunching is not required anymore.

The strategy works well but it is 3am and Subject 1 decides to reluctantly retire to bed.

Day 3
Time: Noonish
Subject 1 is excited to continue with the new and improved strategy. The pace of progress is much quicker now.

Subject 2 realizes the weekend is almost over and there is much laundering, grocery shopping and such to be done. Subject 1 finally relinquishes the task at hand to join in with the chores, partly out of guilt but mostly because her eyeballs had turned many shades of pink and red. (I know there is a visine for that).

Time: 10pm

Subject 1 coerces Subject 2 to take a crack at the puzzle for 20 minutes. Five hours later (yes it is past 3am now) the puzzle is oh-so close to be done. Out of sheer exhaustion and obligation to worldly duties, the subjects decided to call it a night.

Day 4:
Subject 2 is in cubicle bright and early. Subject 1 strolls out of bed at around 10:30 am and calls Subject 1 to plan another outing for lunch. (Hehe). After a satisfying lunch Subject 1 takes a final crack at the puzzle.

Before you know it, Subject 2 is back at home and joins in with fervor of finishing the puzzle.

Finally at around 10pm the last piece of the puzzle lays to rest as do the subjects.

Mission: Accomplished!

The puzzle now hangs on a wall, neatly framed and all.

--The end--

{On a side note, I think that anyone considering a research career should buy one of these and use it as a diagnostic tool for one’s liking for research. It tests your patience and organizational skills to no end. Of course there are so many other skills that you require to be in research but looking for a needle in a haystack along with repetitive mundane experiments and a thirst for puzzle solving is very much a part of the process. If at the end of solving a 1026 piece (or more) jigsaw puzzle, you think you would buy another one of those then you would probably enjoy research. }


cheti said...

Good Job crys ! Pat yourself on the back ! Mustve been a good bonding excercise !

And thanks for the strategies : if i ever rent totoro and then see the white rose .. i will eventually come to this !

Shek said...

I like the name 'Buck'. Couldnt have found a better one...or maybe 'Hombre' suits better. I vote for 'Hombre'!

Geetali said...

i was thinking about getting one of these 1000 pieces puzzles for the summer as well. keeps one busy, and makes one proud upon completion.

parikrama said...

That "looks" easy :) I would have been more impressed if it was a jigsaw of some Impressionist painting.. (i remember seeing one such elaborate puzzle, it had reflections et all). Donald Duck ?? easy lah..

dodo said...

Wow, you've got too much time and patience on your hands :)! I'd definitely try doing something like that--but only if the pieces were made of cookie dough :). But this whole thing would be lot more exciting if you didn't know what the final picture would be, no?

I had done research some time ago--but in computer science. The way it works there is, if your new process is successful, you say that you found a new way of doing things. And if it fails, you say that you found a new way of not doing things! And sometimes, you already know the results, and just keep on tweaking the experiments until they align with the results ;).

Hyde said...


Been a while since I played with anything over 500 pieces.

Joy Forever said...

Wow! That's COOL! You have done a great job indeed. I really doubt if I have that much of patience, but who knows, maybe I'll come to know when I'm faced with one of these.

Jolk said...

:) nice one Crys !!!

Drunken Master said...

I wonder why I suck at research but excel with jigsaws...

Crystal blur said...

Did I forget to mention that solving jigsaw puzzles also build character? ;) Your little calvin might enjoy it...should get him a started jigsaw.

Buck is short for 'Buckwassur' and was coined by Buck himself, years ago when he was an active blogger.

Haven't seen you around on the blog for are you? As for the jigsaw, go for is so much fun!

I was actually looking for a photomosaic in particular and something like starry night would've been excellent. Unfortunately, they didn't have any photomosaics with 1000+ pieces except for Donald Duck. No regrets was challenging and lots of fun.

Cookie dough pieces! I think I would end up with stomach ache and too many missing pieces. Without the template it would've taken forever and I don't think I have that kind of patience. And from what you say about CS students, they must be the happiest graduate students ever.

I can't believe I hadn't solved any jigsaws growing up :( Looks like everybody has the 'been there done that tee'...not anymore! :)

Joy forever,
I didn't know if I had the patience while solving it myself, but whenever I had those breakthrough strategies I would get super excited and would keep going.


Drunken master,
What kind of research are you doing? CS offers fail proof thesis projects I hear ;)

The Black King said...

Oh no nnono nono ... no!

You misplaced one of the reds with another! :D

Just kidding -- good job and here's to a huge research career ahead!

Shek said...

"bukwassur turns 20 something today"

damn girl, you were funny back then too!

Kamal said...

Hi Crys

I am really impressed with your posts .....

what happened to the mahabaratha series ? have u stopped writing it ?

I wonder if you had any problems coz of writing that .... well i enjoyed it greatly ...but when i referred it to a couple of otherwise-jovial-friends ...they became really offended .. may be some ppl take it that way ..guess thats why u have stopped writing ..

but then u have u r right to express your views ..and those who dont like need not read it :)

anyways keep posting often


Drunken Master said...

Unfortunately mine is success-proof. Does give me an excuse to drink my frustration away so I'm not really complaining...

Crystal blur said...

black king,
Nice try but you can't fool me with the "switched one red with other" 'coz I have burnt my retinas doing this :). Thanks for your wishes :)

I haven't stopped writing MB series per se but the humor is not coming as easily as it did in the beginning. So I am not posting very frequently. There was a little resistance to the writings from a few people initially but by and large the readers were very supportive. Thanks for your encouragement! It means a lot to me.

Drunken master,
Well in that case cheers! May life always find you in high spirits. ;)

Crystal blur said...

Ah! Did some literature search I see...thanks for the kind words (hehe)

Geetali said...

I've been doing fine. Enjoying the summer break - relaxing, watching a lot of YouTube/movies/tv shows, reading... everything!

Where did you buy the frame from? How much for? What did it include? Just the border or back support as well? Glue?

Crystal blur said...

Hey Geetali,
I had to hunt around for the frame but I found the perfect one at "Michael's" store. They had a sale going on too so that worked out very well. The frame is 20X28 inches and cost me $24 (currently a 40% off sale is going on) and it could actually hold the puzzle smugly so didn't have to get the back stapled or glued or anything of the sort. Did you get a puzzle too? :)

LL said...

wow! you guys actually had the courage to finish it. I gave Nouka such a 1000pieces puzzle for her birthday last august, but till date she hasn't yet opened the package, too scared of losing a piece, too preoccupied to build the puzzle!

Bravo for the completed work! when is the next one??