Under the Big Top – Stave Limited Edition

This is a Stave Limited Edition wooden jigsaw puzzle by artist Andrea Farnham. The puzzle only advertises four main tricks on the tableau but getting the rings together is an undocumented fifth trick. This is a gorgeous hand painted puzzle (no longer painted by Andrea but by other Stave Artists) and the tricks are clever and well thought out. The three-dimensionality of the puzzle is top notch and the extra little notes like the ribbons for the trapeze artists add to the puzzle. Purposefully a small image so as not to provide too many spoilers.

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Belated Review – Sherlock Holmes Puzzle

Well, a year late but I should also give Andrea Farnham of Thingamajigsaw a positive review of an amazing jigsaw puzzle that any Sherlock Holmes fan simply must own. Using Larry Elliott’s artwork (http://www.thingamajigsaw.com/traditional.html#elliott) she has created an incredible puzzle that requires knowledge of Sherlock Holmes stories to complete.

Here’s a picture of the completed puzzle with the silhouette figural pieces removed:IMG_2960

 

Those figural pieces you will notice are arranged in a spiral… So you need to link each figural with a story (the complete works of Sherlock Holmes are provided). For example, if you said the Rosary figural was associated with the “The Sign of Four” you would write that figural down next to the story name. The Rosary is positioned as “O” starting from “A” at the outside of the spiral. Knowing that the Rosary is O will let you decode a secret message which is indexed by letter, e.g. “O6″ so the 6th letter in “The Sign of Four” is “G” write that down, and continue.

Lots of fun, I brought my copy of this puzzle to a board game gathering and it took a group several hours to assemble and then another several hours to decipher the code. Very clever multi-layer design and guaranteed to entertain.

Definitely a keeper.

Tower of Babel

Thingamajigsaw’s Andrea Farnham has done it again with an outstanding complex jigsaw and word puzzle based on Artist Larry Elliott’s work “Tower of Babel” (http://www.thingamajigsaw.com/traditional.html#elliott)

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When you buy the puzzle you actually get two wooden jigsaw puzzles, a five-language dictionary, and a guide to solving the word puzzle once you’ve assembled the jigsaw.

Basically, once you solve the jigsaw, the figural pieces in the main puzzle have letters and numbers next to them, e.g. the octopus figural has a M6 next to it which on the small puzzle is in Spain. Time to use the dictionary to find the Spanish word for Octopus (pulpo).

When you have all of the translated words, you will be guided through a process to remove the letters from the border of the main puzzle and reveal a secret word (good for a 1-time 10% discount at Thingamajigsaw).

Fantastic work by Andrea and a very clever compliment to the Sherlock Holmes-themed puzzle she released last year also using Larry Elliot’s art. This is a must buy.

Cruising to the Bahamas

Photos from our NYC-Bahamas cruise on the NCL Jewel. Highly recommend taking the Tru Bahamian Food Tour in Nassau.

Misc Tanzania Photos

Additional photos from Tanzania trip (including Amsterdam layover)

Safari Pictures from Tanzania

Pictures from our safari in Tanzania: Lake Manyara, Serengeti and Ngorogoro crater.

Kilimanjaro Climb

Kilimanjaro pictures

Alaska

Back from a great trip to Alaska.

Investing

So, this past week I finally took the plunge and rejiggered most of my investments for retirement based on an accumulation of readings over the past few years. The last kick in the pants was doing more Bogleheads reading.

Other influences:

Biggest changes:

  1. Bond (mutual funds) out of taxable accounts into tax deferred accounts (I had started buying bond funds slowly over the last 18 months but they were all in taxable accounts.)
  2. Bond (mutual fund) allocation (drastically) increased
  3. Expense ratios (ER) brought down with last high ER fee sold (all funds now are sub-0.30%, most are closer to 0.10%, weighted average is 0.19%)

Anyhow, my biggest wish was that I had acted sooner. It has been nearly two-or-three years since I got the (good) advice to add some bonds (mutual funds) to my portfolio, but I sat on the sidelines for too long and when I did do it, I allowed classic behavioral economics errors to sideline me from putting the bond funds in the right place.

Rio, Paraty, and Foz do Iguaçu

I went hunting for pictures from our 2009 trip to Brazil… Hours later I found a bunch. We visited Foz do Iguaçu, Rio, and Paraty. Here are some pictures from that trip.

Carnival Towel Animals

Couple of examples of Carnivals “famous” towel animals. Come for the cruise, stay for the towel animals. If you’ve ever done origami, the towel animals are basically the same idea with towels. You take a few basic patterns with different sized towels and you can create a variety of animals. These were from the Carnival Splendor, Mexican Riviera cruise in April 2011.

Fall by the Wayside

I’ve also picked up a number of wooden jigsaw puzzles by non-Stave crafters and artists. This puzzle entitled “Fall by the Wayside” was painted, designed, and cut by Andrea Farnham of Thingamajigsaw.

I have done a number of Andrea’s puzzles and she has both excellent artistic talent and a lot of smarts about how to design and cut a puzzle. My favorite puzzle ever is an Andrea Farnham, “Time Traveller”.

“Fall by the Wayside” is a a traditional puzzle with a circular shape and irregular pieces.

Photos around Paris

In 2011, I was fortunate enough to spend a fair bit of time in Paris, France. The food was of course outstanding. These are photos of a couple of well known places, Eiffel Tower, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, and the Zero Point outside the Catherdral of Notre Dame.