Excerpt from this lengthy diatribe

I hit the halfway point Saturday evening, abandoning any pretext of plot. Although this thing is so disjoint and heavily weighted in dialogue, it’s long… and that’s what counts!

For the love of all things good in the universe, please do not read the excerpt below while sober.

I was interviewing for a marketing position earlier in the year. During the interview, a technical manager asked me: ‘How would you create a jigsaw puzzle?’

My answer was along the lines of:

    — Determine its basic buyer demographics — who buys puzzles, what kind, how often, where do they buy them, how much do they spend, what other areas compete for those dollars, etc.
    — Identify barriers to entry, key players, uniqueness of puzzle distribution, an any opportunities with a sufficient margin, etc.
    — Learn how puzzles are made. Who supplies raw materials, what materials are used, who supplies them, what does that market look like, etc.

I went through Porter’s five/eight forces model. Next, I segued into what kinds of jigsaw puzzles I might want to explore making further. For example, if I thought there was a market, I might build an insanely difficult puzzle where both sides have a different picture, or a fractal-based puzzle where there were several correct answers.

I was having a lot of fun, totally getting into it. Then I noticed he was frowning.

What was the problem?

The question he meant to ask was ‘How would I assemble a jigsaw puzzle I just brought home from the store?’ In other words, the answer he was looking for:

    — Open the box
    — Dump out the pieces onto a table.
    — Turn all the pieces over so the picture side is up.
    — Finish the puzzle.

My answer was a little too out-of-the-box for him to accept.

6 thoughts on “Excerpt from this lengthy diatribe”

  1. –Open the box.
    –Dump the pieces onto the table.
    –Turn the pieces over.
    –Determine which pieces have straight edges and put those together to form the frame.
    –Leave the puzzle lying on the table for days, occasionally adding a piece here or there when the mood strikes.
    –Finish it.

    That’s how I do it anyway.

    It’s 9:06 a.m. here, and I haven’t had my morning rum yet. I’d be a much more effective alcoholic if I could ever remember that you’re supposed to start drinking EARLY. Oh well, maybe that’s not my true calling after all. Bah.

  2. The kids used to add dropping, throwing and sucking on pieces as steps in the puzzle process, which wasn’t a big problem with the sub-12 piece puzzles in big, happy shapes. Now that they’re older, they’re surprisingly good at them.

  3. I thought you were writing a “fictionalized” account of the life of James “Fuzzpig” Lovell – where is all the homoerotic imagery? The blatant overuse of personal hygiene products? The underlying symbolism of one man’s struggle against the cruel harassment of two hackers?

  4. I will see if I can work in one of the characters running into a middle-aged Skip Smith as he recounts the Great Apple ][ BBS hoax of 1985.

  5. Good job! You can delete my space on your server, btw. I quit days ago. 🙂 I know.. I’m a slacker!

  6. Hum…
    — Open the box
    — Dump out the pieces onto a table.
    — Turn all the pieces over so the picture side is up.
    — Finish the puzzle.

    I think you forgot
    –Get frustrated and walk away
    –Return calmer after a snack only to discover the cat has been “helping” you with your puzzle
    –Try not to kill the cat as you look for the missing pieces.
    –Give up searching for the pieces and see if you can put the puzzle together anyway.

    Congrats on reaching the halfway point! Is it not weird to look at your word count and think “I have less to write than I’ve already written!” ?

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