Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Puzzling Word


                                                                        Designed by jcomp -


 When I was growing up, putting together jigsaw puzzles was a common activity for my family.  We generally did 1000 piece puzzles, which were large enough that all 5 of us could gather around the table.  Everyone could reach and we would each stake out our own 'section' and there was a general sense of cameraderie.

Over the years, we quit doing puzzles together as we were each busy with other activities. More years passed by and while one or another of us might do puzzles, it was a solo activity.  

And then Covid hit. And suddenly, like many, we found ourselves drawn once again to jigsaw puzzles. Not only were we in different households, but we were in different states.  Yet somehow, we felt like we were doing jigsaw puzzles together. And while it might have been cheaper for each of us to buy our own puzzles, we found ourselves dismantling completed puzzles so that we could ship them to other family members.  While I might be sitting by myself as I found the edge pieces, and the corners, and then worked on the rest of the puzzle, knowing that other family members had done this same puzzle somehow carried a sense of cameraderie.

What does this have to do with BCD?

Well, it turns out that a person who puts together a jigsaw puzzle is called a Dissectologist.  I know, you're shaking your head.  This doesn't make sense.  A jigsaw puzzler (that's my word for someone putting together a puzzle) isn't dissecting anything, he/she is putting something together.  Yet...  multiple sources insist that a person who enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles is a dissectologist.  A bit more digging shows that the phrase 'jigsaw puzzle' was first used in the early 1900s. Except that the first jigsaw puzzle was made around 1760. 

And here's where everything comes together.  

The first puzzle and early puzzles after that were made from maps glued to wood, and then cut apart. So originally, puzzles were called dissected maps, or dissected puzzles.  

Aha!  Now it makes sense why puzzlers are called dissectologists!

I can feel your impatience.. because I still haven't explained the reason for the title of this blogpost. So here's your explanation.   BCD is the Benevolent Confraternity of Dissectologists. The Confraternity is an international club of sorts, based on England, for followers of jigsaw puzzles. The club was only established 35 years ago... and it's not a very large club ..  just a few hundred people.  But it seems like they're worthy of a bit of attention. After all, those of you who have been working on puzzles over the last eleven months certainly know the popularity of this activity... periodically, jigsaw puzzles can be nearly impossible to find, as everything is out of stock.

Having said all of that... I still consider myself a jigsaw puzzler.  And in case you were wondering .. yes, I do drink tea while I work on my puzzles.



Monday, May 11, 2020

Books, and Jigsaw Puzzles

For a long, long time, I took great pride in the fact that I had always finished any book that I started... even those I didn't like.  But then... perhaps ten years ago... I took a look at my "To be read" list, and realized that there were far more titles out there than I could ever hope to read. 

Taking the approach that 'Life is Short, and the list of book I want to read is Long', I changed my ways. 

If I find myself reaching for a book and then decide I need to do the dishes, if I choose to watch another rerun of Big Bang Theory instead of reading another chapter, if I find myself quite content to stop reading in mid-chapter... I put that book aside, and move on to the next.

To the authors of these books, I say "It's not you, it's me."  And that's probably true, at least in many cases.  There is no book that makes every reader happy; just because a specific title doesn't appeal to me doesn't mean it's a bad book, it just means that it doesn't appeal to me.

Which brings me to jigsaw puzzles. 

When I was growing up, the entire family often did jigsaw puzzles. We liked them large, we liked them difficult. And it was a great family activity.  But as the years went by, I moved on to other activities. With the recent Stay at Home orders due to the Covid-19 crisis, like many, I'm returning to jigsaw puzzles.  Except that of course they're very difficult to find these days.  Fortunately, deep in the back recesses of the top shelf of the closet, I found two puzzles.  I pulled out the first one --  a wonderful nature scene with a babbling brook and trees.  I had a wonderful time putting together that puzzle, it was very relaxing.  Sometimes I'd sit  there for 10 or 15 minutes at a time; other times I'd pause as I walked by to put together a piece or two, before moving on. And when I finished that puzzle I took it apart, boxed it up, and mailed it to a family member who had also rediscovered the pleasure of a good jigsaw puzzle.

I then turned to the remaining puzzle ...  a reproduction of an Escher drawing.  One of my favorite Escher drawings - Hand with Reflecting Sphere. And of course, like all Escher drawings, it was black, white and various shades of gray. Except that - unlike the previous puzzle - this one would sit untouched for a day or two at a time.  Rather than being lured back every time I walked by, I found myself looking the other way. I found myself doing the dishes, or watching reruns of Big Bang Theory, instead of working on the puzzle.  In the meantime, my sister had sent me a puzzle that she had recently completed; I kept opening the drawer where I'd put that puzzle until I finished the Escher, looking longingly at that colorful nighttime cityscape.

And I realized some basic facts.  I had considered gluing the Escher when I finished it, even though I never glue puzzles together... just so that no one else would have to put this puzzle together.  I decided that I would never send this puzzle to someone I liked, because that was just too mean.  In fact, the Escher was so unpleasant to work on that I wouldn't even give it to someone I didn't like.

In other words, the Escher puzzle was like a book that didn't appeal.

So I took apart the small portion of the Escher that I'd put together, and set the box aside.  I opened the new puzzle that was waiting.  And once again, I found the joys of putting together a puzzle.  Once again, I paused to put together two pieces that caught my eye as I walked by.

Life is short, time is limited.  Make sure you use it well. And if you're drinking tea, make it a good cup of tea. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Wear a Red S

Red letter s icon - Free red letter icons

We've experienced a time when there were government orders in place throughout most of the country, mandating social distancing.. or at least strongly recommending social distancing.  But apparently this was too difficult for some people to understand... and we found ourselves with mandates of social distancing, along with the wearing of face masks when out in public.  And since people STILL couldn't understand this -- or at least they chose not to comply -- we ended up with Stay at Home orders.

So then we ended up with people protesting the Stay at Home orders, denouncing the wearing of face masks, and flagrantly flouting the social distancing rules. 

Yeah, I get it, you don't like rules that infringe on what you see as your rights.

But I don't like it when you take action that might harm me.

There's a serious tug-of-war going on . 
On the one hand, there's  your desire to go where you want, do what you want, and as for face masks... some of you  are saying "I don't know.  I don't see it for myself." 
But on the other hand, I want to be protected against being near someone who is a carrier of Covid 19.
And based on the statistics, it looks like the more tests are done, the more we are discovering people who have mild - or no - symptoms, but are most definitely contagious with Covid 19.

Fortunately, I've come up with a solution.. a really good solution, I think.

I'm going to continue staying home most of the time, wearing my mask when I'm in public, and practicing social distancing. 
You can go out and about, skip the mask, and ignore the 6' rule. 

You must wear a large scarlet S.

Why, you ask.  Well, it's simple.  You're getting what you want, and all the restrictions you're protesting will be lifted.  In order for me to get what I want --  I need to know who you are, so that I can avoid you. 
So you need to wear the S. A large S. A red S. 

This way I can easily identify people  who are spending lots of time in close proximity to non-household members.  I can identify those who don't understand that 'flattening the curve' is important - not because it reduces the number of cases of  Corona virus  (hint - it does NOT reduce the total numbers over time), but because it spreads out the numbers of people who will become seriously sick, over a longer period of time.  So instead of everyone being sick all at once, creating a situation that the hospitals and medical system can't accommodate, the same number of people are sick -- but spread out over a long period of time. This way I can identify people who can't see beyond their noses, who aren't willing to consider how to make this country great again, because they're too busy trying to figure out what works best for them.

As soon as you tell me you're willing to wear the S, I'm willing to agree it's okay for the rules and restrictions you're protesting against, to no longer apply to you.

And now, it's time for a cup of tea.  No, the tea won't protect me from Covid 19, or the flu, or even the stupidity of others.  It just makes me feel better.