Ryan and the Rubik’s Cube

Back in 2003, while backpacking through the UK and Ireland, I ended up at a party in Dublin where I met a guy who claimed he could complete the Rubik’s Cube in under 5 minutes.

After having me scramble it for him, he did as advertised. I was suitably impressed and asked how he did it. He explained that every (name-brand) Rubik’s comes with instructions on how to complete it — just most people don’t bother to read them.

The event stuck with me, and after going on to trek for a few more months around Europe and Thailand, one of the first things I did when I returned to Canada was buy an “official” Rubik’s Cube. I was determined to be that guy at the party — even though I’m pretty sure I was the only person that paid him much attention.

Sure enough, the Rubik’s came complete with instructions on how to finish it, and had I an advanced degree in quantum physics my Rubik’s probably wouldn’t have been promptly drawered out of frustration.

There it stayed until I was packing to come to China. When sorting through what to bring I threw it in my suitcase, figuring I might revisit the complex instructions at some point.

I never did. But I did manage to find better instructions from an ESL student of mine, and can now reliably finish the Rubik’s in less than 3 minutes.

When I was teaching I would use the time between classes to practice, but in the handful of years since I rarely brought the block out of its drawer in order to refresh my skills. Though it’s not overly complicated (basically a series of 8 or 9 steps), and despite having done so hundreds of times, a couple weeks ago I realized I had almost completely forgotten how to complete it.

Determined not to lose the ability, I sat down and worked my memory until I could do it again. I then recorded the following video, so should I forget again, at the least I’ll be able to show everyone at the party that at one time I could do it. I’m sure everyone would be very impressed. 🙂

I actually got a bit lucky on this go, as due to random circumstances, I was able to skip one of the final steps, shaving off 10-20 seconds from the time.

Anyway, there it is — my mild-passion for the Rubik’s.

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