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Pieces of a puzzle

Pieces of a puzzle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember a holiday tradition in my family … for the Christmas and New Years holidays.

Jigsaw Puzzles.

My family liked them so much that until recently a lot of the art work hanging on the walls at my parents house was basically jigsaw puzzles that had been completed … then permanently mounted and framed.

Okay, sometimes they were not even framed.

But the dining room table, in addition to serving as the location for holiday board games, was the place to start the assembling of jigsaw puzzles.

My father was the best at all of this … and you could never go wrong by getting him a large and complex puzzle as a Christmas gift. Actually I can’t recall the card table in the house used for anything other than jigsaw puzzles and the occasional set up of a sewing machine.

It always tended to challenge my spatial talents … which I do actually have … to help assemble these complex pieces of art.

But as the junior puzzle solver, it was not up to me to come up with the order in which things must be done. That was Dad’s territory.

Of course the outside edge was a logical way to start. Then the division of blue pieces for sky … green pieces for grass … and other obvious color groups.

And before too many days had passed, there would be yet another completed puzzle for us all to look at … and eventually break apart and put away.

So it is not too surprising that many years down the road, I of the computer career and daughter of the puzzle pro, would combine these two things and do jigsaw puzzles on my PC.

I know I have been doing this for at least the last thirteen or fourteen years using the same program.

lena-2007Lena Pankratova’s program called BigJig. All possible unfortunate meanings notwithstanding, Lena is a programmer type from Moscow, Russia. She introduced this game way back in the nineties.

I have bought the game no fewer than three times, starting in 1998 or 1999. I know this because one of the nice things she provides is a new free jigsaw puzzle … every week. And I have the dated Christmas sets going back to 1999.

She has two out there now for the holidays … and will most likely add another two or four before the holiday set is done.

xmas2012-1_thumbxmas2012-2_thumb

The other nice thing about this program in particular is that, besides the free puzzle each week, she includes JigMake … a utility that allows you to take any picture on your computer and turn it into a jigsaw puzzle. 

So between the addictive nature of jigsaw puzzles, the puzzles included in the program and the resources that she lists I have quite a collection of puzzles to solve … should I find myself with an evening or some time free.

Which I did.

Today.

Over and over and over again.

And the program allows a lot of choices as to number of pieces, shape of pieces, rotation and whatnot.

But, unlike my Dad who relishes the occasional one-color two-sided gazillion-piece puzzle, I on the other hand prefer a more manageable number of pieces.

This is for my enjoyment after all.

Mind numbing, addictive enjoyment.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t say that this puzzle program was more responsible for my knowledge and recognition of Great Works of Art than pretty much anything else. Each puzzle comes with a short description of the painter / photographer / location and makes it all that more enjoyable … and addictive.

I see on her Facebook page that she has several relatives named Pavlov.

Coincidence, I am sure.

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