Sunday, 12 November 2006

The Cube

Two weeks ago, when Jo's family was here with us, we took them to do some shopping (because they couldn't stand not doing some for more than a week, I guess; it has nothing to do with us, even if we did take an active part in it).
Anyway, while walking down Chadstone I saw this t-shirt in the Mambo shop that had a pair of hands playing around with a Rubik's cube and a caption saying "Solving Problems". It suddenly brought back memories, and I had the urge to get it; an urge that quickly faded away when I saw the price tag ($45) and when they told me they only have it in green.
However, the memories were still in my head. I remembered how these cubes became stupidly popular when I was about 9 or 10 years old, on how my uncle got me one as a gift after I initially said I don't want to have one - probably because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to solve it.
I played with it a lot (there were no video games back then), and I managed to learn how to do one side on my own. I remember I had this system of rules: If I had a certain pattern, all I had to do was a certain combination to get to finish the side.
Then my uncle got me an instructions booklet with steps on how to finish it all. It started with finishing one side, then doing more sides, then finishing the top; it had this system of instructions you could learn by heart to finish the cube. So I did, and I became so fluent at it I was able to do it all in 15 seconds when I was all fired up. I was the master of the cube's domain, even if most of it had nothing to do with my own skills (other than the ability to memorize the instructions).
Back to today, and after we saw the shirt I got me a new "anniversary edition" Rubik's cube at Kmart (Jo's mother paid for it - thanks!). The first photo attached here shows it being taken out of the box, the second one shows it after it was garbled up... probably never to be sorted again, unless I download the instructions from the web.
By now I've learnt how to do one side again; pretty quickly, I have to add. What I found interesting is that now I analyzed what I was doing and approached the affair more systematically and mathematically than before; instead of memorizing patterns, I was thinking abstractly. That's probably worth the $20 admission price on its own.
Anyway, another source of fun for the time between TV programs and another dose of reminiscing.

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