Notes from Puzzle Palace

Saturday, May 15, 2021

A visitor, two tables, and a ship

This past week, I had a visit request on Discord from a fellow twisty puzzler.  He's from out west and his girlfriend has a mother in Boca and he's in town for the weekend and wanted to visit, and boy does this sound familiar...We are always open to visitors to the Puzzle Palace from fellow puzzlers so I said sure.  Now, this isn't the first time it has happened that strangers request a visit. But why not.  We said sure, thinking if it's like the last time, the visitor in question will come up with some excuse and not show up.  No big deal, George played golf as usual and I did my normal Sunday puzzling.  We told him that before he was able to come into the (empty) museum he had to do the following: Please come to 7923 mandarin. Outside the front doors you will find 4 sided pyramid. Take it out of the box and rearrange it into a tetrahedron and put it back in the box. Only then can you ring the bell. Failure to do this will lead only lead to frustration and inability to see the museum.

We also asked him three questions that are required for visitation: “WHAT..... is your name?", "WHAT..... is your quest?, "WHAT..... is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?" (George has a warped sense of humor.)  I'll hand it to Gage (our visitor); he played along and replied: :rofl::rofl:Love it :slight_smile: and my quest is to bear witness to the most epic puzzle collection known to man!!!

Well, much to my surprise, he did show up on Sunday along with his girlfriend and her mother. I was in the kitchen of the museum faffing about and allowed him a good 5 minutes to work on the puzzle at the entrance. To his credit, he did manage to get it out of the box, he did disassemble it, but he could not rearrange it. Given't he's a twisty puzzler, I said good job and let him in. Gage has the distinction to be the first puzzler to enter the museum and he therefore has his name first in the guest registry. I gave him a quick tour of what will be in about 3 months time, and dealt with a contractor in the garage. After locking up the doors, I had them follow me to Puzzle Palace. I gave an explanation of the driveway and the entrance mosaic, and welcomed them in. I got as far as the Berrocals in the entranceway when George came over and temporarily took over the tour while I put the groceries away. When I returned, I began speaking with the mother and quickly realized she was more interested in the architecture of the house than the puzzles so we went off on a different type of tour. In the mean time, George took the young couple on a puzzling tour of the house.
Solving Joe's head

Simple salads lunch
Through that silent language that only lovers have, we had mutually agreed to head off in different directions and end the tour in the mirror room. While in the kitchen, I offered Ingrid (the mother) a glass of wine because we had been discussing the difference between California and Old World wines along the way. I later offered wine to the younger ones and we sat and enjoyed the mirror room puzzles for a while. We gave Gage two puzzles to solve, Joe's head (a 2x2x2 of George's son) and the Advent calendar gingerbread house. He did both in no time at all.

Treasure chest diving

By this time, we had been touring for around 2 hours and I knew my lover must be starving so I did as I always do and invited them to have a simple lunch with us. Over lunch, George had me bring out Blockistry and they enjoyed solving a puzzle or two. All in all, we enjoyed a rather nice visit and would welcome them into our home again. I hope on their next visit to Boca the museum will be up and running. As always, when they left we had them open the treasure chest.

On to my puzzle of the week. This time I have chosen two puzzle tables that we have purchased. The first is a White Rhino that we purchased from Alibaba. This was a impulse buy and I'm glad I am so impulsive. It's such a cute little table. Easy to put together. I'm sure if I can do it, anyone can. The cost? $195. It looks adorable in the Library next to George's nap time bean bag chair.

Our next puzzle table was a kickstarter that I purchased sometime last year, to be delivered in January. Like many things during the pandemic, these were delayed and just arrived this past week. Cost? $158. Not bad for a table. I had originally planned to put it in the Puzzle Palace, but the place for it is now getting a custom table to be unveiled in October so this table now resides in the master bedroom at the Museum.
Big George Approves

And now onto a ship (and the weekly museum update). I've been watching the NYK Nebula for the last 20 days. On Tuesday in the wee hours of the morning, it left Halifax Canada on its way to Miami. The wait was killing me. I watch it go out into the ocean and then just poof! It's gone without the paid satellite subscription. Then the next day it shows up again near the coast. The wait was driving me crazy. And not for the reason you might think. Yes, I'm eager to get the shipment in, but I am also not ready for it. Friday morning it moored at Port Everglades. 1/2 hour south of here. The excitement is increasing. I keep looking at the container information waiting for it to be unloaded. It's foolish to try and anticipate the delivery date, but then, I've often been told I'm a fool.

Tesla had finished installing the solar panels, but the power walls are not hooked up and we are still fully on the grid. The guy putting down the epoxy floor was an oaf and there were bubbles all over the floor on Sunday last. He came over, sanded them down and applied a new coat of white epoxy. Well, the damned things bubbled again. Monday we had the man come to lay the decals but because of the bubbles, it couldn't be done. I had to leave because I was about to start screaming at someone. George came up with a solution. We will now have a stippled effect on the floor, the epoxy fool will sand the floor yet again and put down a clear layer that can't bubble on Tuesday, and on Wednesday the decal will be placed before putting down the final clear coat. I think this is going to end in disaster but I've my fingers crossed. (I'm writing this on Monday night-I'll edit later for an update.) As it turned out, our general contractor came up with the solution. We now have a blowtorch that we can attach to our propane tank. The solution was to melt the bubbles as soon as the epoxy is laid down. Problem solved. We managed to get the garage finished before the first container arrived. Both decals have been placed in the floor along with a small collection of coins from our travels.

So I guess it's time to announce the winners of the competition. First is Nick Baxter. In a phone call, he mentioned to George that we should look at some of the tessellations of Robert Reid. Eureka! Why hadn't we thought of that? George then set about designing the decal and we had it printed and mounted by a company here in Boca Raton. The second decal came from our shared love of the Big Bang Theory. I have the melting cube on a t-shirt, so we decided to have it printed and place it on the floor. This was done by a company in California because we wanted it to have an anamorphic illusion to it. This company was able to take the image from the t-shirt and a youtube video and made it a 2D decal for our floor.

The work inside the house goes on. The ceilings are being painted, the drywall holes are being patched, and the cabinets are being mounted in the bedrooms. Once the garage is finished there are another 20 or so Kallax's that will be mounted in there. We've got a new roof going over what one can only believe was intended to be an outdoor shower. Now it houses pool equipment and the recycling containers. I'm super chuffed by the work being done by Flipping Awesome and Chilly Inc. They are an amazing group of guys who have done some wonderful work for us.

And now we wait. When will customs release our toys? When will the first batch of 241 boxes of puzzles arrive? The waiting game is the worst. Today we place the shelving units in the garage and throw the hurricane bolts for good. The garage will no longer be a garage. It is now just an extension of the Museum. Until next week...Happy Puzzling all!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Mega Mansion Puzzle Palace-Part 1-the sad part.

 In February of 2020 I got this brilliant idea to have an advent calendar puzzle made.  I bought a ready made box at Hobby Lobby and realized that the 1" cubes would not do at all. I eventually had George make me one and posted about it last December. 

Around the same time I contacted Tracy Wood Clemons an began discussing a possible puzzle commission. My request started out rather simple. Hi Tracy, it's been a long time. My friend (now my husband) still hasn't opened the monkey box but it sits front and center in our office. I'd like to know if you might be able to make a puzzle box that is a duplicate of our house. You would have creative license with all but the outer shape."Hello Roxanne, can't wait for you to return home to send me more pictures for the puzzle box! So excited about this build! About 20 years ago I built a 8 foot dollhouse everything was built to scale on the inside and outside! set to put my dollhouse skills now into a puzzle box I think is just going to be epic! so yes as soon as you can get me those pictures would be great because my schedule for this year is so full but I want to start working on it ASAP! So I can fit everything in for this year! well thank you for the opportunity to let me build your house and we'll puzzle box I'm so excited I hope you are too!"

She sent me the photos of the doll house and we set to work. We sent 5 videos and 171 photos between us to create this puzzle.  In June Tracy contacted me wanting to know the final completion date.  I had initially wanted this as a Christmas gift for George, but we were embarking on a cruise that wouldn't return until 21 December so that ended that date.  I then gave her George's birthday on 30 January, or our anniversary on 14 February as a completion date.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, this completion date was moved again.  I contacted her a few times over the next 10 months to see if the project was still going on.  She always replied with a yes and you're going to love it.  In one correspondence she told me she poured her heart and soul into the piece. On 1 April she told me it was the most complex puzzle she has ever done.  Was this a joke?  I had seen a few preview shots, but not the completion yet. 

 And then bam!  I got a text message during dinner on 11 April with the photos pouring in!  This piece looked amazing!  I couldn't wait to see it in person.  Tracy had made our house! It is not identical, there was quite a lot of poetic license taken with the fencing (we have none-but we do have tall hedges), the windows are all made as one giant window instead of the 6 or 8 pieces that make up each one, the outdoor shower is exposed to the street, but really, who cares when the end product looks this good.  

In one of our conversations, she asked me about the property lines.  She was spot on, and used the property line as a base to hold the house.  This was made to scale, Our house is 11,000 square feet and the puzzle is 1:45 scale.  Smaller than I initially wanted, but when I realized what the foot print would be, we agreed to change it. 

Tracy's attention to detail is beyond belief.  She installed the solar panels in the correct places, she placed the pool and spa exactly where they belong, she made the driveway octagon work.  It's a fantastic piece.  I keep saying that, but I can't help it, it's just blown my socks off. 

We had issues with shipping this piece to Florida.  I hired a shipper from and he turned out to be a bit flakey.  He first had vehicle problems but didn't tell either of us of this. Next, he said he was going to pick up the piece on Monday then didn't show up.  Tracy called him and he said it would be another week before he could pick up the piece. We eventually went with UPS and the piece arrived before the other guy wanted to pick it up.  

No, we haven't even begun to solve it yet. Unboxing it was a puzzle in itself.  I've never seen such a box.  If you thought Strijbos's packaging was excessive you should see this one.  Then we removed the lid. Oh god!  Disaster.  First off, I knew something wasn't right when George was struggling with it.  Tracy very clearly circled all the screws in red ink with massive arrows and very clear instructions on how to open the box.  We had two of the Tesla workers in the house watching the unboxing because they had put the solar panels on Puzzle Palace and I knew they would recognize it. They spotted the extra screws and alarm bells started to go off.  When we got it open and I saw the bubble wrap just laying around, I couldn't believe what I saw.  It was such a poor job.  I didn't want to believe that this was happening and I think I was in a state of euphoric shock. The puzzle was finally here, but it wasn't right.  

Tracy took pains to explain to me how to open the crate:

hello Roxanne, the big box is in my livingroom waiting to go to its new home.

Tracy sent April 19 at 1:10 PM
i realized after i packed it i didnt get a picture of me with the box for history.
Tracy sent April 19 at 1:10 PM
maybe someday i make it to florida
Tracy sent April 19 at 1:10 PM
so the big box open the top first. i have it marked with red around the screws for you to take out. than remove the front side.
Tracy sent April 19 at 1:10 PM
than it will take two to lift it out and bring out thr front.

You sent April 19 at 1:10 PM

Got it. I hope they come get it soon.

Tracy sent April 19 at 1:12 PM

its packed with bubble rap alot. it will be safe.

And a bit later we had this conversation about the internal wrapping: 

You sent April 28 at 1:26 P

Tracy sent April 28 at 1:27 PM

i had to add so wood to the inside of the crate if the tipped it on its side so it wont move. Its rapped very evry well with bubble wrap.

You sent April 28 at 1:28 PM

It should be fun taking it out.

Tracy sent April 28 at 1:28 PM

so take the top off first

You sent April 28 at 1:28 PM

Got it! Then the sides.

Tracy sent April 28 at 1:29 PM

than remove the wood holding in down
Tracy sent April 28 at 1:29 PM
than the one front side

You sent April 28 at 1:29 PM

Ok. is that wood bolted down?

Tracy sent April 28 at 1:29 PM


You sent April 28 at 1:29 PM

yeah! I get to play with man tools.

Tracy sent April 28 at 1:30 PM

yes you do . you will see what i mean when it get s there.

You sent April 28 at 1:30 PM

I'm looking forward to it!

Tracy sent April 28 at 1:32 PM

well at least we learned something with shipping

So when I didn't see the wood holding it down I got scared.  I pulled off what was there of the bubble wrap and the guys removed the puzzle from the top of the box.  NOT as Tracy had intended.  They put it on a table and I saw pieces of wood still in the box.  The table tilted and then I saw the leg on the bottom of the box!  I grabbed it and put it into place.  I then told George I thought one was missing.  There were 4 stabilizer bars on the bottom holding this monster up.  Remember, it weighs 130 pounds.  Three of them had been removed, and the one remaining in place was misaligned.  

When I looked at the octagon on the front drive, it was missing pieces, the screen over the pool area was missing pieces, the solar panels were not just taken off, but were forcibly removed and broken.  It was becoming glaringly obvious that this crate had been broken into and that the puzzle had been removed and purposefully damaged. 

The stabilizing wood that was not holding the puzzle in place was in the bottom of the crate.  Not on top where it belonged.  The bubble wrap was missing.  This was a disaster in the extreme.

Another conversation about the wrapping: 

The thing that drives us crazy as cuz we have had bad shipping experiences where they have broken things. So we really have stepped up our game and shipping and when you opened and took the lid off I was so shocked how little bubble wrap was left inside of there because that house was so wrapped in bubble wrap you had to stop it in the Box

Tracy sent Yesterday at 2:53 PM

From now on I will definitely take a picture of what it looks like bubble wrap in the box so he had those pictures also in life
Tracy sent Yesterday at 2:53 PM
Stuff it in the crate

You sent Yesterday at 3:37 PM

I have to say, I was shocked about the same thing. I’ve had Rubik’s cubes with more bubble wrap.

Tracy sent Yesterday at 3:40 PM

There was three colors we used. Orange grey and blue. First small bubbles than large bubbles. I seen none of this bubble wrap in the video

Tracy sent Yesterday at 3:40 PM

You sent Yesterday at 3:41 PM

No blue at all. A tiny amount of Orange. Mostly grey and clear.

Tracy sent Yesterday at 3:41 PM

Wow so crazy

You sent Yesterday at 3:42 PM

Hopefully it will come out ok.

Tracy sent Yesterday at 3:46 PM

It will. I know it. With all the picture i think it will. Even if they dont cover it i will rent a car and drive down and fix it.
Tracy sent Yesterday at 3:46 PM
If i have too.
Tracy sent Yesterday at 3:46 PM
I wont leave you like this

If I weren't already impressed with Tracy, this last bit of the conversation really got me.  I'm glad she is going to come down to Florida and fix the puzzle.  Yes, it was insured for the full value.  Yes, we put in a claim and made a police report.  We are now just waiting on the UPS investigators to come over and look at the damage to the crate and watch the unboxing video I took. Tracy has already sent them all of the before and after photos.  The good news is, it can be repaired.  I'm very grateful that she is willing to come down and do this.  Talk about going the extra mile!  I wish I had better news to report, but sadly this is it.  I'll be sure to make a blog post and a new "unboxing" when it has been repaired.  

For now, I give you some of the photos of the puzzle as we received it.  These are in NO WAY indicative of The Green Eyed Lady's work.  They show the malicious destruction of the puzzle by a UPS driver somewhere along the route.  I suspect it is on this end. I waited all day Saturday with the delivery map open and watched the puzzle go around and around and around the estate without ever coming in.  While we were at dinner, there was a note on the door for the UPS man to call me so I could come running back to the house to take delivery.  I did a very taboo thing and kept looking at my phone during dinner (no phones allowed in the clubhouse) waiting for the delivery.  It popped up as "Undeliverable"! What!  they never entered the estate.  The truck then went back to the depot in Deerfield Beach.  On Monday I got a message saying it would be delivered between 3 and 5 in the afternoon and so I waited some more.  At 10:30 or so I got a confirmation of delivery.  I chased down our UPS delivery driver and he got on the case.  He showed me his truck without the package and called into dispatch to get the case delivered.  We had a special delivery and you all know the rest via that unboxing video.  It's my conjecture that the person who did this was the driver who had it on the truck for Saturday delivery.  I believe (s)he saw the insurance value and the weight and thought it was something else.  They took it somewhere, ripped it open expecting anything but a puzzle, removed it from the crate, and was so angry that there was nothing really valuable to steal and maliciously damaged it.  Hopefully the investigation will catch the guilty party.  

Broken solar panels 

Pieces that were broken off

Back of house with screen removed.

Empty nails where feet should be

Broken and missing solar panels

Who steals a leg?

Obviously the thief can't read

Something is fishy!

This is what it should look like: 

Front of house

Back of house

I have faith that when Tracy gets down here she will be able to restore her to her former glory.  Perhaps this was meant to be.  After all, when George and I bought the house in 2017, she was damaged and unloved as well. We revived her with great care and attention. Perhaps the mega-mansion had to be damaged to live up to her namesake. 

On to the weekly museum update.  We spent the week here while Tesla installed the solar panels on the roof. No work will be done during the time that Tesla is in the house.  They do not allow others on the property.  They told us installation would be 3 days and this time I hope they are right.  We've a lot of work to complete before the puzzles arrive. They were wrong as expected, it took 5.  The work is now complete on the roof, now we just need to wait for a new inverter and the inspection of the power walls and we are good to go.

The garage floor was ground down and the base coat and white flooring laid.  The swimming pool pump and heater were installed and are now up and running. We hung a few more photos on walls, and this Monday we will be installing the floor decals and the rest of the cabinets will be mounted inside the house.  It's moving along now.

Speaking of; they are now on their way to Miami.  But as it turns out, the two containers have been shipped on two different cargo ships.  One will arrive around the 17th and the other around the 25th.  Both will be held in customs quarantine for at least 2 weeks before they get to the museum.  I've been watching both of them travel around Europe and will pick them up again when they hit the East Coast of the US.  I am enjoying watching the containers come over. It reminds me of our wonderful trip to the US in 2018.  To be able to do that again would be magnificent.  Sadly, George is now 'too old' for that because of no doctor onboard a cargo ship, passengers over 75 are not allowed. so it's just a dream.