Thursday, June 11, 2009

Q Who?

So almost seven months ago I got a Rubik's Cube from my wife as a surprise present. For most of the time between then and now I fiddled with it occasionally, often getting no farther than the first two rows, and always just sort of giving up once I found myself staring at that blasted third row. I tried a few online tutorials, asked a handful of friends, but could never actually solve the thing on my own. So when we made a trip to Georgia in late May, I printed off some directions beforehand and decided that I would conquer the cube once and for all.

That weekend I spent a long time poring over my printed instructions, watching online videos, and consulting with others about how to solve the game. No single solution seemed to work, and even the most basic "beginner's guides" soon lost me in pages of obscure naming conventions and bi-directional side twisting. We flew back from Georgia having had an enjoyable and relaxing weekend, but I was still mostly confuzzled by the puzzle.

Soon afterwards the cube was once again sitting in my teacher's bag, mocking me and defying me to ever solve it. I also found myself too caught up with work to really give it another shot, but then one of my students brought one to class and spent a few minutes trying to solve it before the bell rang. "I can get the first two rows," I told him, "but nothing more after that." It finally hit me: there had to be a way for me to solve it. If I could get the first two rows, by using a mix of logic and memorizing some moves, there must be a way to get the third row.

So I sat down one night about two weeks ago, and came up with a solution that involved bits and pieces of several tutorials and videos I had been watching. After much twisting, turning, and starting over, I finally solved the Rubik's Cube. So I quickly messed it up and solved it again. And again. My custom-made instructions, a concoction cobbled together out of spite and determination, had allowed me to finally solve the Cube.

The next morning I solved it again before heading to work. I kept it with me all day, solving it over and over during my free time, and did the same for the rest of the week. And as I write this, my cube is sitting a foot away, its spirit shattered and will broken, just waiting to be solved again. It still takes me a good three minutes to do it, but I'm pretty stoked that I finally learned how.

This morning I tried making my own solution video too. Now that's where the real challenge lies...

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