A Serendipitous Puzzle

I have a number of Google alerts set.  I guess it’s the paranoid in me but I want to know when someone is talking about me online.  And, I guess originally I was egotistical enough to assume that I’m the only Doug Peterson in the world.  My alert has turned up people with the same name as photographers and as authors and as real estate agents.  It’s always a hoot to check out the link that the alert sends me.

On Saturday afternoon, I’m watching the Michigan / Ohio State football game, laptop at my side when the daily Google alert comes in.

Little did I know that this alert would take me on an interesting electronic ride.

Words leapt from the alert.  “Puzzle”, “anagram”, “Free”, “Doug Peterson”.  These are things that got me going.  So, I clicked on the link to see what this Free Themeless Puzzle was all about.  I ended up at a blog post written by someone named Brad Wilber.  

This was kind of all right.  Underneath the post there were some links to the puzzle in a couple of different layouts with both “smooth” and “crunchy” clues.  That’s interesting … I take a look at the smooth clues and it’s a PDF file of a crossword puzzle suitable for printing and solving.  

I’m a paperless type of guy so while I’d be interested in having a go at it, I don’t want to go that route.  The PDF file opens in Google Docs which was good enough to provide the filename of the original document.  It was bp7smooth.puz.  The smooth part was interesting but I’d never run across a .puz file extension before though.  I don’t know…

But I’ll bet Google does.  A quick search reveals that .puz is the file extension for an Across Lite Crossword Puzzle.  Oh, and by the way, you can download it from here.  Got it.  Let’s go back to the original Google document and see if it opens.  No dice.  It’s a PDF file.  Rats.

There’s a commercial on so I can put my full attention to this.  I remember reading about Across LIte recently … sure enough, it was in the blog post.  I just have to send an email to Bradley Wilber.  Why not?  It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Within minutes, I get a response from Brad.

And, attached to the message, is the .puz file.  I download it and it opens in Across Lite as promised and I’m off.

Now, I can’t go through all of this without expressing my gratitude so I fire off a message to Brad thanking him for his generosity and quick response.

What followed was a couple of forth and back messages where I learn that this Doug Peterson is quite well known in the crossword puzzle community.  According to Brad, he contributes to “New York Times, the LA Times, New York Sun, New York Newsday, Washington Post and others”.  All I know is that the two of them have collaborated on a fine puzzle!

We really can learn from people from all over the world and there really are kind, generous and friendly people if you make the connection.

Anyone know a four letter word for “payment alternatives”?

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