Thursday, November 03, 2005

Don't forget the Rubik's Cube!

We've all had them. The dates that were so bad, you get home and start laughing because it's so amusing you actually made it through without strangling him (or her)! And it's not just the one. No, we all have that secret arsenal of really horrible dates logged in our memories, ready to come up for air when we need a really good story at a party to get some laughs or when we're reminiscing with old friends about those things we did and will never really understand why. And they all fit into categories so well, don't they? The one where you got a flat tire. The one where neither of you talked the ENTIRE time. (Yeah, that was the one in 9th grade...) The one where you almost started chewing your arm off because you needed something to liven up the extreme boredom you felt. The one where he started talking about your 1 year anniversary on the first date. (Okay, so there were a couple of those...who's counting?)

Of course, I haven't listed every category, every scenario, every "classic date gone wrong" story type. I only highlight the ones that have happened to me personally. [Yeah, 'cuz I get is my blog after all!]

And I can honestly say that in every one of those scenarios, except for the 9th grade one, I had my trusty Rubik's Cube with me. I didn't always intentionally bring it along. Sometimes I just simply forgot to take it out of my jacket pocket, or my car, or my purse. But it's been there with me through all of the torture, the uncomfortable silences, and truly "wtf" moments on every bad date I've had. (True, it's also been with me on the good dates, but that's not our topic this evening...)

It doesn't usually make an appearance. (That tends to be pretty rude in many social circles...) But it's become a source of comfort for me, a comfort that I haven't fully recognized until this week. (Yes, it might be completely true that I very recently had a pretty awful date, and the Rubik's Cube was indeed in my coat pocket the whole evening...) It's like having a security blanket in hard cube form, pocket-sized, and a bit less childish than a blanket. And any first date is awkward and a bit's nice to have something familiar to hold on to when I need to calm my nerves a bit.

Now, you've read this far, and your mind is filled with thoughts like:
"My god, what a geek!" or
"I cannot believe this girl brings a freakin' math puzzle with her on every date she goes on..." or
"That's so cute!" or
"Hmm, I'm totally stealing that idea for my date this Saturday in case it flops."

So, to answer the thoughts running through your mind, I say:
"Not 'geek.' Nerd."
"Believe it. You know you're just jealous that you didn't think of it first..."
"Um, yeah!" and
"I charge $5.00 per idea you feel you must steal from me. Pay up."

Okay, okay. Ha, ha. Answer the real question everyone's asking already!

Why a Rubik's Cube???

Quick answer: Why not?
Longer answer: I'm one of those people who always needs to be moving something, however subtle the movement is. I have a hard time paying attention to things unless something is foot during a movie, my fingers on the steering wheel while I'm driving, and oftentimes, my hands manipulating a Rubik's Cube as I'm walking home or listening to a friend or talking on the phone. Solving the Cube is a soothing exercise for me, something that comes almost second nature now because I've been doing it for so long. So, the Cube tends to be in a pocket or a purse or a bag of mine. And it always ends up with me somehow when I go out with someone. :)

Linus has his blue blanket. I have my Rubik's Cube. Little wonder we two are so alike...

The Rubik's Cube rules. Congratulations on making The Globe.
P.S. I have an abandoned blog, "The Universe And Elsewhere".
P.P.S. Are you going to check out M.I.T.Henge this week?
My girlfriend read the Boston Globe article to me, and you are not alone.

I, too, have a Rubik's cube in my pocket. Now. As I type. I take it with me wherever I go... I solve it at home, work, bars, weddings, while dancing, while driving... Close friends understand this and think nothing of my puzzle-solving whilst engaged in serious conversation; for they sense that mystical tactile connection that I have with the cube. Sometimes they will remind me to bring it along (if they only knew).

Perhaps it is because I can recite a digit of pi for every move that it takes to solve it. The pretty patterns... the worm, the snake, the cube-in-cube, the stripes, diagonals, dots, x's and o's, t's...

If I tell a friend "pick a color" they know it better be red, orange, yellow, green, or blue. And they know that a few mere seconds later I'll be asking them to "pick another color", and again, and again, as I progressively solve the cube, color-by-color, simply because I can. They'll humor me as I attempt to teach them that, yes, you really can speed-solve the cube without *any* memorization! Just do this... and this... and this...

For some reason, the cube has left my left pocket, and now has entered my right. Ah! We both know why. Such transpositions happen.

I have gone through about half-a-dozen cubes this year... sadly it takes only a week or two for most of the stickers to have worn to smithereens, and a month or so before the severely tattered cube starts losing pieces. Perhaps you too use cooking oil to lubricate your cube? Home Depot was out of silicon graphite.

Do you speed-solve the edges in 30 moves as I do? Corners in 17? Do you count in half-turns or quarter-turns? Do you use different systems? Corner-first, edge-first, F2L-corners-edges, F2L-PLL-OLL, F2L with one corner-edge-pair missing, remaining edges, remaining corners?

Do you have as a bookmark? Kociemba's and Ron's cube solvers in your quicklaunch tray at both home and work? Know the ins-and-outs of rotations and inversions? Ahh. The wonders of the cube.

Humbly yours,

Puzzle Boy

In its arranged state it suggests calm, peace, a sense of order, security... in sharp contrast to all that the working object means once it is brought to life, to motion. There is something terrifying in its calm state, like a wild beast at rest, a tiger in repose, its power lurking.
- Erno Rubik
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