Puzzle Math

YA and I decided in November that maybe we should take up jigsaw puzzles now that the weather had turned cold.  In the past, jigsaw puzzles have driven us both a little crazy; we have to worry about the kitty messing with the puzzles, neither of us had a lot of extra time and we both can get a little obsessive occasionally.  But thanks to sheltering-in-place and neither of us working, we don’t have the same objections that we used to (except the kitty).  We did a Ukrainian egg puzzle in November – took us about 5 hours, both of us working on it the whole time.

Right after Solstice, we pulled a puzzle down from the attic.  It’s a 1000 piecer and it’s a doozy – no straight edges and lots of little pictures within the main puzzle.  We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks and we still haven’t been able to identify all of the outer edges.  YA is particularly good at seeing the design of a particular piece and figuring out where it goes.  I’m better at identifying pieces by shape.  But this puzzle is currently getting the better of both of us although we haven’t given up yet.

In our prior life, having a puzzle on the table in the living room this long would have made me crazy and I am having to fight this feeling.  So much so that I decided to try to figure out how long it will take us to finish this one.  We’ve done about 350 pieces so far.  I’m assuming the tipping point (the point at which you’ve done enough of the puzzle that the pieces start going together more easily) will be between 650 and 700 pieces.  Right now we are going pathetically slowly; we averaging about 10 pieces a day (if we both spend a bit of time on it – it’s really hard to keep at it at this point).  So, taking into account the eventual tipping point and days when we ignore it entirely, I figure it will take us another 45-50 days to finish.  It could be spring before we are done with this thing!

When was the last time you had to do math?  In your head, on paper or using a calculator (or Excel)?

61 thoughts on “Puzzle Math”

  1. Good morning-why just yesterday I was doing math with a spreadsheet as I added the latest expenses into the one I’ve got going for the remodeling project at the theater.
    And still working on finishing up 2020 expenses bookwork.
    A couple weeks ago I ordered seed for this spring so did some simple multiplication first figuring out acres of each crop and then how much. Oats I plant at three bushels per acre and there’s a bushel and a half in each bag. Soybeans I plant about 55 pounds per acre and there’s 50 pounds per bag and corn I plant at a population of about 36,000 plants per acre and those are 80,000 kernels /bag.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. How big was the Ukrainian Egg puzzle? 500 pieces? If so, you did about 100 pieces an hour. Naturally the puzzle gets easier as you have fewer pieces to sort through and place, but I don’t think there is a tipping point as such, just a progression. Right now you have a 650 piece puzzle, which should take the two of you about 6 1/2 hours. The “tipping point” will be when you can spread all the pieces out on the table and sort them by color and pattern. You handicapped yourself by not working on a surface big enough to do that.

    However long it takes to finish the puzzle, you know how it will play out. You will look at it and then crumble it all back in the box. Nothing substantive will have been accomplished and that isn’t really the point, is it? Puzzles like this are a social activity and it sounds like you’ve worn out the social impulse this puzzle represented. Presumably, you and YA enjoyed working on it for that time when it fully engaged you. That could be enough. I know that for some people working on a puzzle like this is a restful zen-like pastime, but I don’t get the sense you are experiencing it that way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have done a lot of puzzles and I agree there is a tipping point. When the puzzle is about 60-70 percent done the pieces just go in faster, and when it’s about 80 percent done it’s like just coasting downhill and picking up speed to the finish.

      Liked by 4 people

    2. Actually I’m pretty good at abandoning things like this if I’m not still enjoying them. The average of 10 pieces a day is actually the compromise I’ve come to with myself So that I have about an hour of enjoyment and then quit before I get frustrated. And the only table bigger than this one is the dining room table and I am absolutely not willing to have the puzzle on the dining room table for that long. Because we do actually still use the dining room table for dining. So it’ll be a long slow process and the odds are pretty good that I will finish it because what the heck else do I have to do these days!!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. i remember a business owner i had begun working with looking at a quote i had typed up
    he asked where I got the numbers and I told him I had use the 5% early order discount in the prepaid shipping based on whatever it was and he asked if I had used a computer to check the math and I had told him that no I had just done it personally and he asked that I put it on a computer and double check
    We did that and he was amazed and impressed at all the numbers were correct

    Liked by 5 people

  4. i typically use a combination depending on the deal
    in my head is always first and then either calculator or pen and paper
    using a slide rule is on my bucket list

    what’s the square root of 69?
    8 something…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I deal with means, standard deviations, and 95% confidence levels every week as I interpret and report psychological test results. Almost all are calculated by computer scoring programs for the tests in question. The normal curve is my friend.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. Ah, jigsaw puzzle! I had rotator cuff repair 5 weeks ago. I thought jigsaw puzzle would be a good time consumer. I got a 26″X32″ (accommodate a 1,000 piece puzzle) 1/4 plywood board covered it with black felt so I could easily move the puzzle out of the way. My wife got a 750 piece puzzle with borderless edges and for interest 5 extra random pieces. This puzzle is a jungle scene with baby wild animals (alas no baboons) amongst the foliage. Also in the picture is suppose to be a pacifier, you know, to go with the baby theme.
    I soon discovered the photo on the box is not exactly like the puzzle. Same theme but in a little bit different places. The dilemma grows.
    I did not know there was a tipping tipping point. Nothing has even leaned that direction and I have most go it done. It’s only been about 5 weeks. But I will not be daunted, the puzzle will not break me. I shall prevail and beat this thing. Just part of my obsessive compulsive tendencies.

    Happy New all.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I’m glad you brought that up Paul. I have a puzzle of the inside of the Apollo 11 capsule. I don’t recall assembling it, but we glued it on a board and shellacked it and it’s been in my bedroom since I was a kid.
      (Yet another benefit of never moving out of this house… wait; maybe that’s a curse??) That photo is like 3’x5′ and is still down in my old room and I still like it.

      VS, good for you on your puzzle. We’ve never done too many puzzles; small ones for the kids. And maybe that’s because we didn’t have a place or table to set it all up and leave it for a while. Paul, I hope you’ll take a picture of it when you’re done.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Welcome to the trail, Paul. Happy puzzling and fast healing. As we say at our house whenever we’re faced with a difficult challenge: Percy gets it. Percy = short for persistence.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    This morning I was listening to the news and doing the math about the percentage of people who do not disapprove of #45’s behavior over the last several weeks, and specifically that on Wednesday. Apparently 12% approve of this. 12%! I find that frightening. Out of every 9 people I know, one of them approves? I had imagined they all lived in Idaho or Arkansas, but apparently that is not so.

    In this vein, math is not helpful at all. Now I just feel endangered.

    I like puzzles. Several of them have been so beautiful, that it brought me great pleasure just to work with the pieces and colors (One of bird paintings, one of butterflies, one of seed envelopes). Several years ago I got a 1000 piece puzzleof zebras. It defeated me. I was not even getting 10 pieces a day, then I caught Lucky, the late dog, eating several pieces of it, and I figured the entire project was doomed. The puzzle went to GoodWill.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Art Scraps in St. Paul takes puzzles so that people can use the pieces for things like funky jewelry. A good place for a puzzle with missing pieces to go, so that puzzlers don’t become disappointed when they discover they’re not going to get the satisfaction of a completed puzzle at the end of their effort.

      Liked by 3 people

    2. Your calculation that one of out nine people you know would approve of DT holds true only if all the people you know are Republicans.


  8. I’m a walking calculator, always doing math in my head. Love the mental exercise of doing something like three-digit multiplication or division.

    I reluctantly use a calculator with larger numbers or when I want to be sure I’m correct. I use Quicken to track our finances, which is so mediocre and getting worse that I swear I could come up with my own software that works better and is less buggy. And I don’t know Thing One about coding!

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 6 people

  9. Husband, Dsughter, and I did a 500 piece puzzle on Boxing Day. We got it together in about 3 hours. It was of a cozy scene with bookshelves, cats, fireplace, overstuffed chairs, etc. I gave it to the crisis residential house at my agency for the clients to work on.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. The fractions needed to adjust recipes is probably what I wind up using most – a few weeks ago it was figuring out how to make a recipe and a half of krumkake batter. There’s also the math of “how many miles can I drive based on current temperature with X percent battery charge…” – the joys of driving an EV (added bonus, to stretch the brain: I have two EVs, one with more range than the other, so a different multiplier for miles – though that multiplier is now different since I added snow tires…).

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Underestimated amount of time to blind bake the crust with the weighted parchment, but was able to patch the hole that developed when part of the bottom crust stuck to the parchment. It turned out well.

        Liked by 4 people

        1. New math! I took it the last semester in college. Never saw it again.
          I and math never did mix well. I’ll never forget that wise old saying “5 out of 4 people have trouble if math. Truer words were never spoken.


  11. I have to report at 4:30 Saturday Dec 9 I got the puzzle completed except one silly piece missing. Is it worth buying puzzles ay Goodwill? Don’t send missing piece puzzles to Goodwill especially if your dog eats a few pieces. Got the contact for Art Scrapes in the cities anyone. Sounds like a good cause.

    Liked by 5 people

  12. I adore the Borowitz Report…..
    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Explaining her decision to quit as Secretary of Education with only twelve days left in Donald J. Trump’s term, Betsy DeVos said that “twelve days are three weeks too many.”

    “In this case, I did what I always do when I have to make a decision,” DeVos told reporters. “I did the math.”

    DeVos said that she took out paper and pencil to figure out “just how many weeks twelve days really is. It was basic geometry.”

    Once she realized that twelve days was the same as three weeks, “I decided I couldn’t stay that long.”

    As she packed up her office, she said that she was proud of her tenure as Secretary of Education. “I started in 2017, and now it’s 2021,” she said. “It’s been a great six years.”

    Liked by 9 people

  13. We have recently rearranged the living room to accommodate two sis-by-side card tables for doing jigsaw puzzles. We’ve started, though, with a 100-piece rural-town scene, and will now graduate to the 1000-piecers. Husband does most of these, and I help.

    I was good enough in math till college, though I never had to take Calculus. I use math mostly in adjusting recipes, and I manage to make it complex enough that I often end up writing it out, and actually using algebra… I can do simple stuff in my head, but it would start to spin if I tried Chris’ 3-digit multiplication or division.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Before I met him, Husband would do the large puzzles and then built a picture frame to display one of them. A lot of them were the same size so were interchangeable. Frame finally fell apart before we moved here, but I suppose if we liked a puzzle well enough, that would be a good winter project, to make another.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. After 3 years of not using our television, I figured out the puzzle of remotes that are necessary to turn on the TV and accessing cable. It took a bit, and some of the remote batteries needed to be replaced. I plan to watch All Creatures Great and Small.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I’m confused (I know, so what else is new?), you wish you still had real TV. Real TV as opposed to fake TV or what?


  16. Puzzle update. I had a good weekend. Yesterday I got all of the legs along the bottom finally connected and today I got a big chunk of one of the interior pieces put together, so more than my daily average. Woo hoo.

    Liked by 6 people

  17. It’s been ages since I’ve dined out. I switched from 10% tipping to 15% when expected to. The switch to 20% was easy simply because it was easier to figure out. Once I’ve had a glass of wine, don’t expect me to do higher math.

    Seriously, at the moment we’re ordering take-out about once a week. Husband has a hard time understanding why I insist on tipping. He understands all the small individual pieces of the puzzle, but can’t put it together to a picture where it makes sense to tip generously, even if there’s no table service involved. Having worked in the “hospitaly industry” I get it, maybe some day he will too. So many people are hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Meanwhile, I leave the tip.

    Liked by 3 people

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