Note to my Grandson on my having learned in my 81st year to solve the Rubik’s Cube

How are you? Are you thinking about your old grandparents in Florida? Did you know that in China now there is a law that children have to visit their old parents to say “Hi” at least once a week? Legislating family affection,  — is that possible?

Well if it is, I’m laying down the law for you. And if you can’t visit us, because you’re “tied up” at the moment, you can think about us, although somehow we’ve got to know you’re doing that, that is, thinking about us.

But as I remember you always did believe in all kinds of things. You always had more beliefs than I did, you were more the believer so you may believe now that communication is possible between minds widely separated from one another by great distances.

The big news today from me to you, from this “widely separated mind,” is that I can now solve the Rubik’s Cube. Yeah, I know that’s not such a great thing anymore. Millions of people, probably millions just in India alone, can do that, many in less that one minute, and the fastest “speedcubers” in less that 10 seconds.

The solution right now takes me about 10 minutes, but I’m still learning the method, because there is a method,  —actually there are probably thousands, tens of thousands of methods, not to mention that the number of different possible positions of the 54 cube faces is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000, or approximately 43 quintillion, a number which is bigger, I believe, than the number of stars in all the galaxies in the heavens.

But anyway, the method I’m learning is the Fridrich method, developed in the early 80s by Jessica Fridrich and others, and now is one of the most popular. At the time in the 80s the Cube quickly took the world by storm, and also came to our school. As I remember it there were a couple of students who were able to solve it, but not me, nor any of our teachers.

jessicafridrichJessica Fridrich

In my own case I wasn’t even close, or rather I realized right away that a solution was beyond me, as are so many things, things that I love and for which I have no special talent or ability. So at the time I didn’t even try the Cube.

Things are different now, most of all, I think, because we have the internet, that which has more than anything else leveled the playing fields among us, given a greater chance to those like myself with few talents, made us all if not equal, at least given us greater opportunity to discover for ourselves how to do things, such as in my case making my own web site, diagnosing my illnesses and even suggesting treatments to my doctor, and of course, as now, solving the cube with help from the thousands of online solutions.

I’ll be 81 this month and I’ve actually accomplished something that I had thought was beyond me. I can’t say that I’ve accomplished many things in my life. I envy you, in this day and age when so much is happening, when there are so many things of great interest going on, great opportunities for someone your age to take advantage of, and then perhaps for another 80 years to go on doing that.

Doesn’t that kind of overwhelm you? Probably not, it didn’t me at your age. To tell the truth now I would have preferred that it hadn’t been the Cube, but rather my discovery, say, of a long hidden mathematical talent, or the ability to play chess at the Master level, or that I could finally sing in tune, play a musical instrument and much else.

Discovering in myself any one these talents and abilities would have been a much greater source of new found joy for me…. But there is the Cube, and for the moment I’m happy. How about you? Do you want me to show you how to solve it the next time I visit?

Bon Papa

Stage 2 of the Fridrich Method

Cube 2

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