Mastering the Rubik’s cube

I live for holidays.
During the school term, holidays are what drive me to work hard.  A honourable ENTER score may beckon, but that’s hardly my priority.  I don’t study for marks, I study for holidays.  And who wouldn’t?  Honestly, what beats lazing around all day with no schedule, no responsibilities, no commitments and no rules.  It’s a virtual utopia.

As good as the concept of holidays are, however, I am always baffled as to how I should spend them.  On too many occasions I have procrastinated with this decision; often I have led myself into endless days and nights of unwarranted boredom as a result.  As with anything, though, there have been significant exceptions.  Memorably, the summer break of ’06 was the inception of my songwriting ‘career’ (shameless plug: kevinhawkinstrio), while the spring vacation of ’07 marked the first holidays in which I actually completed homework (I believe that ‘holiday homework’ and ‘study break’ are both oxymorons, but that’s a topic for another blog…) Then there was the summer break of 07-08 when my house got flooded but, again, that’s the topic for another blog…

The short term goal which I established just prior to Good Friday was for the upcoming fortnight to have some significance; when they were to conclude in two weeks time I hoped that I could look back and reflect on them in a positive manner.

After an opening week dominated by B-grade DVD movies, the entire eighth season of Friends, locking a friend out of his own house and the misery that followed Melbourne’s disastrous 104-point loss to Hawthorn, my holiday objective hadn’t got off to a particularly successful start.  That was until Saturday the 29th of March – at 8 o’clock to be precise – when Earth Hour commenced.

For the past sixteen and a bit years, I have taken electricity and technology for granted so much that when confronted with this sixty minutes (it actually turned out to be more like 120 minutes since no lights meant I couldn’t read the time) of darkness, I naturally had no idea what to do.

“I know, I’ll play some piano.  I don’t need electricity for that” Depressing idea.  All that did was make me realise that the only songs I knew off by heart were ones that I’d written myself… and they certainly weren’t worth playing again. (However, that shouldn’t stop you from visiting kevinhawkinstrio’s myspace)

So here I was sitting in the lounge room, a candle providing my only source of light.  That was when I picked up a rubix cube – probably the most rejected and ignored item in my entire house.  Considering I could only perceive two colours (I couldn’t differentiate red from orange, or yellow from white for obvious reasons), I could have very easily abandoned the cube then and there.  Nonetheless, I defied my lack of vision and went for the challenge; willpower doesn’t usually get the better of me, but considering the state I was in, even a game of croquet could have made me excited.

Ninety minutes in and I had made as much progress as the amount of brightness in the room – which was none considering my overenthusiastic pyrotechnics saw me extinguish the candle flame at roughly the thirty minute mark.  However, when the lights finally turned back on at 10pm I realised that I had actually made considerable progress after all; one whole side was almost complete (green, for those of you playing at home).

It may seem a little ironic and hypocritical, but in the 48 hours that followed Earth Hour I spent more time on the internet than I did sleeping*.  No, I wasn’t looking up pawn (I’m not into chess).  Rather, I was on YouTube, constantly re-playing a series of videos on ‘How to solve the Rubix Cube’.

Initially, the task loomed as impossible – ‘How in the world am I supposed to solve the second side without ruining the first?’ I asked myself.  After my parents yelled at me for talking to myself, I realised that this little annoying square object was beginning to consume me; it was all that I was thinking about.

Eventually, though, after hours spent manipulating this irritating contraption – and learning about algorithms (sounds nerdy, is nerdy, but is actually relatively simple) along the way – I solved my first rubix cube.

To prove it wasn’t a fluke, I tried the impossible task again (not before taking countless photos of myself posing with the cube as if it were an Oscar, though)  Amazingly, I was able to complete it perfectly – this time without any help from Youtube or the $1 Solving the Cube book that my mother had bought in vain years earlier.

So now – as I sit back and reflect on the holidays which have just passed my way – it pleases me to know that I have at least done something significant to make the autumn of ’08 a memorable one.  Yes, that’s right – I’ve written my very own blog.

As I conclude I must mention that if you, too, wish to attempt solving the art of the Rubixicus Cubicus, DON’T.  The less people that know how to do it, the more people I can show off to (if you can in fact call it showing off).

But seriously, if you are that bored, check out this video –

*An unrealistic exaggeration, but it makes my story sound more interesting