## Wednesday, June 15, 2011

### How to be Awesome at the Rubik's Cube

The other day, I saw a video of someone doing a Rubik's cube behind their back.  I figured they had like, Braille dots in the little squares so they could feel it, but Brian said that no, they just memorized the patterns for how to solve it.  The more I heard about this, the more I realized that solving a Rubik's Cube was not, as I had previously assumed, an act of sheer spacial genius, but actually a set of patterns that anyone can learn.

So I instantly thought, oh, I can do that!

See, the thing is, I have no spacial orientation at all.  Several of my friends can attest to the fact that I can't do puzzles, I can't estimate measurements, and I can't do those tests where they ask you what a shape would look like turned inside out.  Just can't do them.

But, I thought, if all I have to do is memorize some patterns, I will become awesome at the Rubik's Cube, which will improve my spacial orientation AND make me look really smart!  Win-win!

So I bought one.  I took it home and I got online to figure out the secret.  My good friend Google was kind enough to show me this site which promised to take me step by step through the solving process.

I started to read the directions, but decided the tutorial video might be the better way to go.  The video was narrated by a dude who looked like an old Mario Lopez, and he was really excited about solving this puzzle.  He said all I needed was a little time, effort, patience, and perseverance.

I really have none of those, so how 'bout a need to do this so I feel smart?  Will that work?

Ok, so stage one is getting to know your Rubik's Cube.  I learned there are edge pieces, middle rows, corner pieces, and some others that are probably important.  My favorite part was when Mr. Old Mario told me that each center piece is located in the center of the cube.  Really?  Good to know.  He also said it is important to note that center pieces don't move, and if the pieces don't match the center piece, they're in the wrong place.

So, lemme get this straight.  If the pieces aren't all in the right place, they're in the wrong place?  Good to know, sir.  Good to know.

So we got past the introduction, and my first task was to Solve The White Cross.  I will spare you the step by step of how I did it, but basically, I'm pretty sure the directions were backwards, and it took me forever just to do this first step.  Every now and then it would be like, "If your cube looks like this, do this magic formula and it will turn out right" which sometimes worked and sometimes didn't.

There really is a certain degree of magic in it though, or at least voodoo.  For someone like me who doesn't understand the why of those formulas, twisting up, down, counterclockwise, and back seems like some arcane rite instead of the logical movement of pieces that I assume it actually is.

So Mario keeps giving me instructions like I'm stupid.  He says congratulations a lot, which I think is supposed to make me feel better, but really just makes me want to see if a Rubik's Cube would bounce off his shiny, old forehead.  My brain actually started hurting at one point, which I guess is because I don't usually use the area associated with spacial things.

After Solving The White Cross, I had to solve something else and then something else.  It did take me step by painful, agonizing step of twisting and turning until my hands were actually sore.  (Are Rubik's Cube injuries a thing?)  And sometimes the cubes get out of line just a little, and the whole cube locks up infuriatingly.  I had visions of throwing it through a window, which would have been very satisfying.

But finally, finally, I did solve it.  Brian had to give his suggestions to help me at one point, but I did it!  See!

Did I actually learn how to do it?  Nope.

Could I do it on my own without Mr. Old Lopez and his two teen assistants?  Nope!

Did this help my spacial orientation?  Nope.

Did this make me look smarter?

Yup.