Non rubiks post!

Yes folks, it’s a non-Rubiks cube related post. We are trying to get back into the Y swing of things. I went running this morning (new 5k record of 28:57) and Carolyn was going to take the kids. Actually last night we decided she was just going to go with the littl’ns but then we remembered this morning is one of those “fake” holidays where I still have to work but we get no mail and the kids are off school (that would be Presidents Day for those following along). So then I believe she was going to just go with all of them. Amy was very excited to go to the “Cool Club” and mentioned it several times in her prayer this morning – all about how she was going to climb on the (rock) wall and play computer games and then something about 3 of something that I didn’t quite get.

So we have been TV free for 3 weeks now. One thing that has been interesting is our drop in current event followage. I wouldn’t say that we were ever on the “cutting edge” of current events, but I think I’ve noticed that we are even less so now with no TV. When we had the TV, occasionally we’d hit the news channels (CNN, Fox News, etc) as we were flipping and we’d at least get a hold of some of the “big” news. Now we don’t even get this. The other day on the radio as I was driving in, I heard that some ex-NBA player came out of the closet a week or so previously. And apparently Anna Nicole Smith is dead?!

It’s not that I particularly CARE about these events – in fact when we had a TV, that was one of the annoying parts about it – how the media would just latch on to all these stories that really weren’t that interesting. But I find it somewhat interesting that Anna Nicole Smith has been dead (for 11 days) and I had no idea. Perhaps I should subscribe to some news RSS feeds with my awesome Google Reader?

Okay – I lied – one Rubik’s note. In my last post, I mentioned how I was a champion at the weekly FMC. As I somewhat suspected, not all the results were in – last night sometime (or probably early this morning UK time) more results were added, and I actually finished 5th, which makes a lot more sense.

I’m a champion!

So one of the things I enjoy doing Rubik’s related is what is called the Fewest Moves Challenge. It runs once a week, and a scramble is given, and various folks try to solve it in the fewest moves possible. This is a good counter to speed-cubing, since it doesn’t require billions of algorithms to memorize.

In any case, the results are out for FMC # 141, and I won! As a disclaimer, only 4 people entered this week and a lot of the people I usually see winning were not among them, but a victory is a victory. It took me 34 moves, and the 2nd place guy had 39.

In other weird Rubik’s news, I solved it in 38.08 seconds a few minutes ago. The weird thing is that is an exact tie (to the hundredth of a second) of my best ever time.

Rubik’s solution

So I was talking to a guy at church about the Rubik’s. He does it pretty fast but I’m faster, so he was interested in just learning how I solve it. So I wrote him an email but then I thought man I sure do blabber a lot, so I thought I’d turn it into a blog post that completely nobody will ever care about it.

So, if you ever want to know how I solve the Rubik’s cube, here you are. Some of the descriptions (especially at the beginning) are kind of lengthy, and in some (at the end after I realized how long this was going to be) aren’t

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I think that the 2 best sites / methods are
Lars Petrus – http://www.lar5.com/cube/
Jessica Fridrich – http://www.ws.binghamton.edu/fridrich/cube.html
Also – for cube syntax, see http://www.ws.binghamton.edu/fridrich/Mike/notation.html
That talks about how to describe various cubes and faces – like if there is a move that goes R U2 R’ that means turn the right face 90 degrees clockwise, then the top (up) face 180 degrees, and then the right face 90 degrees counter-clockwise

Both of them are original speed cubers from back in the 80s and have some good systems. The particular system that I use is sort of a combination of the 2 of them, hampered by the fact that I don’t really have the desire or the time (or at least I have not yet spent the time) to memorize all of the algorithms that they use. I have memorized a few of them, so sometimes I have to do 2 algorithms (taking twice as long for that part) because I don’t know the moves to just do it all at once. So, here’s a breakdown of what I do.

1. First I try to get a 2x2x2 block (so 3 middles, 3 edges and the corner between them). This is step 1 on Lars’ site. In “official” tournaments you get a 15 second inspection time before the timer starts, to look at the cube and plan what you’re going to do. I don’t really give myself a time limit but when I am looking at the cube I look for a corner / edge pair that are already together. I find that usually there exists such a pair around 80% of the time. If there isn’t one, then I look for a corner / edge pair that can be matched up with just one move, and there almost always is one of those. So once I get the c/e pair, then I try to match it up with another edge. You have 2 options here, so pick the best one. Example – if you’ve got the Red / Yellow edge next to the Red / Yellow / Green corner, then you are looking for either the R/G edge or the Y/G edge. Usually one of them will be in a better position than the other. So I find say the R/G edge, and put that next to the Red middle piece, and then slide the c/e pair next to it to match. At this point you’ll have a 2x2x1 block. So then you’re looking for the other edge (in this case Y/G), to put in place (next to the Yellow and Green centers). You’ll notice here that you actually DON’T want your 2x2x1 block lined up with the other middles just yet. In this example, now that you have the 4 red pieces in a 2x2x1 block, the ideal place to have it is not lined up with the Yellow and Green middles, but on their OPPOSITE faces (above the red / white / blue corner). The reason for that is that you want to be able to have the Y and G faces free to turn to get the Y/G edge in place. So get the Y/G edge in place, and then you turn the Red face to line it up and there is your 2x2x2 block. Lars’ site has a lot of good info and examples on this. As you become more familiar with this, you can actually find all the pieces you need as you are inspecting the cube, and start to plan out what moves you need to make to get your 2x2x2 block. If you’re *really* good (which I’m not usually) you can figure out the 5 or 6 moves you need to get the 2x2x2 block right from the start. You can usually get this block done in 7 moves or fewer. Alternatively, an easier way to start is to just get a cross (say the red middle and all 4 edges) – that’s the way that Fridrich does it.

2. So now that I have a 2x2x2 block, the next thing I do is pick a “bottom” color and get my other 2 edges on. Which reminds me – you should learn to solve either the cross or the block on the bottom – that way you don’t have to flip your cube around to solve the last layer. So since I have 3 colors in my block, I can look to see which 2 edges will go into place the easiest. Let’s say red – so I get the red / white and red / blue edges in place on the bottom. So my cube has red on the bottom, with all 4 edges in place, and one additional corner / edge pair (red / yellow / green in this example) also in place.

3. So now I switch over to the Fridrich method to get the other 3 c/e pairs (http://www.ws.binghamton.edu/fridrich/Mike/middle.html). Here’s the way I think of things. For now, ignore cases where a corner or an edge is incorrectly placed in one of the bottom 2 layers, or if they are together (next to each other) in the top layer but flipped incorrectly. If your c/e pairs are like that, you just need to get them to the position where they are both in the top layer but not next to each other. There are various ways to do that, but for now let me just share what to do if they are in that case

Before I talk about that, let me step back to talk about which sides you can turn. That’s the major downside to solving the entire first layer first. Once you get to that point, every move that you make messes up what you’ve already done, and so you are limited in what moves you can make, since you have to “fix” the first layer. With this you have several ways you can turn the cube. I usually keep my block in the Back left down (BLD) corner. At that point, you obviously have the entire U face you can turn without messing things up. Additionally you can turn the front and right faces 90 degrees either way and you’re still okay, since the c/e pairs that would be moving up to the top aren’t solved yet. Obviously as you solve c/e pairs you limit your available moves. For instance, if you solve the FL c/e pair (on my cube in this example that would be the R/W/G corner and the W/G edge) now you can only turn the F face counter-clockwise – if you turn it clockwise, then you’ll bring that RWG corner up to the top and mess things up.

Case 1 – The bottom color (red in this case) is on top of the corner (on the top layer). On my cube in this example, I have the R/W/B corner with red facing up. Move that corner to front / right. You don’t have to actually PHYSICALLY move it there if you can imagine what it would look like if it WAS moved there. Look at what color is facing front (blue). Find the blue/white edge. If blue is on top then you’ll need to turn a face counter-clockwise. If white is on top, then you’ll need to turn a face clockwise. What face to turn depends on which c/e pairs you’ve already solved – rotate the U face till you get to a face that won’t be disturbed by such a turn. In this example, I can turn the L face counterclockwise, since that will bring the FL c/e pair to the top, and they haven’t been solved yet. So turning L’ puts the B/W edge in the back-left-middle edge. Then I can bring the r/w/b corner over to that side, so it’s right above the edge and then turn L. Now I have the r/w/b c/e pair in place on the top. I’ll get to what to do with that in a sec.

Case 2 – The bottom color (red) is on the side on the top layer
Case 2a – The top color of the corner is the same as the top color of the edge
In this case, you’ll want to turn the face that has the red color counter-clockwise. Rotate the U face until you can make such a move without disturbing the c/e pairs that are already solved. In my example here, I have the r/y/b corner, with yellow on top. The y/b edge is also on the top layer (but not next to its corner) with the yellow edge also on top. So rotate the U face till r/y/b is ini the front right, which would bring the back right c/e pair (unsolved) to the top layer. Do a R’, then rotate the U face until the y/b edge is in the UF (top front) position, and bring back R clockwise to match up the y/b edges.

Case 2b – The top color of the corner is different from the top color of the edge
Again, you’ll want to turn the face that has the red color counter-clockwise. But here, you need to make sure that the edge is in the correct place. Look at the red face of the corner. On my cube, it’s the r/w/g face, in the U-F-R position. Red is facing front, and green is on top, and on the green / white edge, white is on top. If the 2 pieces are both on the top layer, and not adjacent, the w/g edge can only be in UL (up-left) or UB (up-back). When red is facing front, the edge needs to be in UL. If red is facing right, then the edge needs to be in UB. The way I think about it is that it has to be in the “next” possible edge position (besides the one RIGHT next to the corner). Once the corner and the edge are in that position, rotate the U face till the corner is directly above where it needs to go. In my example, r/w/g needs to be in the front left position. So I rotate U until r/w/g is in UFL, and since red is facing left, the “next” edge position is UB (up-back). Then move L’ U’ L and the c/e pair is not only moved together but in the appropriate position.

So in cases 1 and 2a you get the c/e pairs together on the top level. Also sometimes you get lucky and they’re already together on the top layer. In case 2b then part of the process of putting them together automatically moves them to where they need to be, but for the other cases, you have to get them from together in the top layer to where they need to go (in the first and 2nd layers). Once they’re together, take a look at the corner they need to go to. Let’s say you have the white/blue/red corner with the w/b edge. Depending on how they were put together, you’ll either need to turn the white face counterclockwise or the blue face clockwise (both times bringing the pieces that are where the r/w/b corner and b/w edge NEED to go up to the top layer. So look at your c/e pair. In my example here, the blue pieces are on top and the white pieces are on the side. Whichever color is on the SIDE (not the top) – that’s the face you need to turn. So here white’s on the side, so move your c/e pair out of the way (say to the UBR and UR position), and turn F’ U F and the c/e pair slides into place.

This part is definitely the trickiest part and the most difficult to really get the hang of. Just take it slow and try to figure out what you’re doing and WHY the pieces are moving where they are. The rest of it is just how much memorization of various algorithms do you want to do.

At this point you have the whole bottom 2 layers solved and just have the top layer remaining. First thing to do is orient the edges (i.e. put all the orange faces on top, without regard to what position they are in) A real speed solver would do this all in one step (there are 48 algorithms to memorize). I don’t know even close to that many, so what I do is I orient the edges first and then the corners.

To orient the edges there are 2 moves I use. If you have 2 edges already orange and they’re at UL and UR, then I do B L U L’ U’ B’. If the 2 edges are at UF and UR, then I do B U L U’ L’ B’ (which you’ll notice is the first move done backwards and opposite). If there are 4 edges already orange then obviously skip this step, and if there are 0 then you have to do both of those moves. Actually one of the things I’ve been working on lately is that depending on how you put in the c/e pairs in the previous step, you can usually make it so that you already have the 4 top edges oriented.

To orient the corners, you only need 2 moves, and they work if you already have one oriented corner. Lars talks about them in Step 6, and they’re called Sune and Anti-Sune. If you have 0 or 2 oriented corners then you just need to do Sune and/or anti-Sune twice. http://www.lar5.com/cube/fas6.html

At this point, the bottom 2 layers are done, and the top face is all oriented correctly, so you just have to move those top layer cubes around. There are 21 cases for this. One site I like for this is http://cubefreak.net/PLL.html
In looking at that page, I only know 8 of them, and that’s enough that you only ever need to do 2 of them to solve this last step. Sometimes I get lucky and get one that I know, other times I have to do one algorithm that puts it into a state where I know the algorithm to solve it.

New best Rubik’s time

So lately I’ve been getting back into the Rubik’s cube. This morning, to everyone’s joy and wonder, I set a new best average time, of 51.16 seconds. Goooo me

—– JNetCube Best Average for Sat Feb 10 09:12:53 GMT-05:00 2007 —–

Average: 51.16

Fastest Time: 40.75
Slowest Time: 1:06.95
Standard Deviation: 05.07

Individual Times:
1) 53.33 U2 L D2 U F L D B2 D B’ L’ U’ R D’ F U2 B’ R2 D’ F2 U’ D2 F L2 U2
2) (40.75) R F2 L U’ R’ D2 L’ U R2 L U F R2 F D2 B’ U’ B2 F’ L2 U L’ R’ F’ L2
3) (1:06.95) U’ B2 D R’ F’ B D’ F2 L F L R’ D’ U R D2 R’ B’ D2 R L B2 U D’ L’
4) 46.34 U2 L’ B’ L2 B L’ B’ R2 D R U’ F’ U D’ L F U2 F’ R2 D’ U R2 F U’ F’
5) 50.53 B U L’ B’ L F2 B R B’ R L F R F2 D’ R’ D’ R’ D’ R2 L2 B’ R2 L’ U’
6) 57.74 F’ U2 R F R’ L U2 R’ B L D L U’ R’ L2 D2 L’ U’ D2 L U’ F’ D2 R’ B
7) 49.84 F’ R2 L U’ B’ R2 F’ R’ F2 B’ U R2 L’ D’ B2 D’ U2 L2 F’ B’ U F’ D2 F’ R2
8) 1:00.19 F B D’ U F R U D2 B R U2 R L2 D’ L2 R D’ U2 F U2 D L2 F2 B’ R2
9) 51.26 F’ B U D2 L’ B’ L B D2 F2 U2 R2 F2 R U F’ B L2 U2 L F R’ D B’ D
10) 52.26 L2 B’ R2 U’ R’ U F L’ B F U’ R’ F B2 R2 L2 F U F2 B2 D2 F2 B2 D’ L’
11) 45.50 R’ L F D B’ R2 L F’ B2 L F’ R’ L’ B2 D’ R L’ U2 L D’ U L’ R2 D R’
12) 44.62 R’ L’ D2 F R U2 D’ L F’ B’ L2 R2 B L’ D2 U2 F2 D2 R’ L2 U’ L B’ D2 U2

Lasik / Counties

Well it’s been one week since my LASIK surgery. Things are going very well. At the one week timeline, I guess I can stop using my drops, though I will probably still use them till they run out. I have stopped wearing my goggles at night and I guess I can rub my eyes and let the water hit my face in the shower, but I’m afraid :-) . Overall, I have been extremely happy with the surgery. I can see stuff! I do have some halos around lights at night, but the doctors said that should get better over the next few weeks / months.

Tomorrow I am taking the boys on a “boy party” to the farm out in Pennsylvania to visit my dad and grandma and other assorted family members. We’ll be staying the weekend. I’m taking the day off work tomorrow and driving out, and then probably coming home on Sunday afternoon after church.

Of course, I can’t bear to take a road trip without picking up a few extra counties!!!! :-) I did a careful examination of my county map

and spied 13 new counties that could be visited, all in West Virginia. So we will take a slight detour on the way out to snag Mason, Jackson, Wood, Wirt, Calhoun, Ritchie, Pleasants, Tyler, Doddridge, Wetzel and Marshall counties, and a slight detour on the way back to pick up Brooke and Hancock. The actual routes themselves have not yet been finalized, but you can rest assured that my West Virginia county total will be raised from 19 to 32 (out of 55, soon to be 58.2%)

You will undoubtedly have noticed that annoying white blotch in NE Kentucky. That would be Greenup county. This is an injustice that will need to be rectified the next time we do things my way (on the AA Highway).


Why yes, I have been having fun with MS Paint this morning – why do you ask? :-) Investigation reveals that this proposed detour has a total out and back distance of 2.6 miles, or less than 5 minutes. Even Carolyn can’t argue with that I think! My graphics didn’t turn out as well as I was hoping – the red line is the normal way we travel down to Virginia and places like that on the AA Highway – the purple line is the detour we’d have to make to the dotted county line.

If you go to my county map, you can see a few swatches around the homelands. It is in my plans to take a Saturday morning one of these weekends to take a little road trip. If I leave way ear-lie in the morning, then I should be able to be home by noon or so. The plans that I have (though no routes yet devised) are (with the number of new counties each trip would pick up):

NE Indiana (26 counties)
W/SW Indiana (36 counties) – though these 2 may be combined if I do EFINC.
S Kentucky (21 counties)
SE Kentucky (30 counties) – this one may be broken into 2 sections to also include my needed counties in S WV and SW VA.

I know, I’m crazy.