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Sunday, June 13, 2010

My Daughter Gets A Gift - And I Get A New Challenge!

This week my daughter received a birthday gift. A birthday gift that is probably going to keep me somewhat busy for the next few weeks! It was a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. My daughters have always been interested in jigsaw puzzles, and have several 50 to 150-piece puzzles that they have accumulated over the years. Every once in a while they will haul up these puzzles and solve all of them, covering the entire floor of the living room with puzzles. Then, they will reluctantly put them all away for a different day.

After working on these puzzles several times, they are no longer much of a challenge for my kids. They can probably solve them in the dark while half-asleep! In fact, they will probably not find any 100 or 200 piece jigsaw puzzle much of a challenge at all at this point. But one of their friends solved some puzzles with one of my kids and found out that she was quite interested in solving puzzles. She also figured out that my kids did not find small puzzles with a few dozen pieces much of a challenge.
lamplight manor
So, for her birthday, my daughter's friend got her a 1000-piece puzzle. It is a huge 20"x27" puzzle with 37 pieces along each longer edge and 27 pieces along each shorter edge. The design is of a drawing of a house at sunset with a lake in front of it, and extensive gardens all around it. It is called Lamplight Manor, by Thomas Kincade.

My daughter and her friend unpacked the puzzle, and started doing it yesterday evening. I had taught my daughters to tackle these puzzles by starting on the outside and working inwards. In general it is easy to identify the pieces that go along the edges and at the corners of a jigsaw puzzle because of the presence of 1 or 2 smooth sides on these pieces.

So, my daughter and her friend got most of these edge pieces out of the box and started putting them together. But they could not complete the borders because they were missing some pieces. Today morning when I saw the puzzle, I knew I had to get involved because it was going to be quite a challenge even to me, leave alone my daughters!
jigsaw puzzle with borders incomplete
First task at hand was then to complete the border. I pitched in with my "expertise", and quickly found the missing pieces along the borders and finished up the "frame" of the picture so to speak. I also found a few more pieces next to the borders, so now out of the 1000 pieces of the puzzle, about 150 have been assembled onto the puzzle itself. As more and more pieces get added to the puzzle, it should get easier to add more pieces since the number of choices for each spot on the puzzle goes down significantly. Hopefully, I will have time to work on it with my kids everyday for the next few days until the puzzle is fully complete in the next couple of weeks.
jigsaw puzzle with borders complete
I have added a couple of pictures of the puzzle in progress to this post for all to enjoy!

Otherwise, the past week was pretty normal, both at home and at work. Census work has slowed down quite a bit too, and I will probably be let go before the end of the month. Given that I got a temporary 8-week appointment near the end of April, the timing would be just right too.

My blogging came back almost to normal too this week. On Monday, I published a post on using the date-picker in Microsoft Access. Unfortunately, the Blogger platform went down for an extended period of time starting on Sunday evening. I had half-finished the post and scheduled it for Monday around noon. Unfortunately, I could not get into Blogger to complete the post before it got published. So, for about 3 hours the post remained on my blog, half-complete and looking as if I had lost my train of thought, but decided to publish the post anyways! I put together another post explaining the problem, but actually managed to publish it only after Blogger came back up after its extended outage.

Because of previous problems with Blogger, where just when I hit "Publish Post", Blogger would develop some problem and bring me to an error page instead of publishing my post (and hitting the Back button on my browser would only bring me to an empty page, not the page with my unpublished post on it), I had gotten into the habit of always copying my posts into notepad before hitting the "Publish Post" button. That way, if there is a problem, I can just copy my post back from notepad, and try again. After this extended problem with Blogger, I have set it up so that I can publish posts by sending email to a special address on Blogger. During this outage, posts published that way were still getting through for bloggers who had set it up beforehand, so now I am prepared too. In the off chance that Blogger is down in the exact same way as this week, with the user interface down, but email posts still going through, at least I can get posts out that way until Blogger comes back up fully.

On Tuesday, I put together a post on interval training patterns I use during my workouts. Then on Wednesday, I put together a post on Vedic Mathematics dealing with auxiliary fractions. On Friday, I put together a post on whimsical and creative USB flash drives.

As for visitors, I had one from a new country this week. The new country was Fiji. With that, I now have 136 flags on my flagcounter widget (not including the unknown flags, obviously). Also, the flagcounter servers were upgraded with better code to balance out the display, so now my flagcounter widget does not look as if a huge chunk of flags is missing from the last column.

By the way, June 8th was the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my blogging. I have managed to keep it going for a whole year now, in spite of my early doubts about the viability of this venture. Let us see how much longer it keeps going! Maybe, I will wax eloquent and eventually say, I blog, therefore I am. Blogito, ergo sum, I guess!

Now, it is time for me to go prepare for another week of work, puzzle-solving and blog-posting. Will Blogger stay up this week? Will my census work end this week? Will I manage to complete the jigsaw puzzle with my kids? I will be sure to let you know next week. Ciao . . .!

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