As Simple As Rubik’s Cube

Researchers using supercomputers have figured out that any scrambled Rubik’s Cube can be completely solved in no more than 20 moves.  (And I’m happy to report that one of the people involved, who is quoted in the linked article, is a mathematician at Kent State University, here in Ohio.)  Why were supercomputers needed, you ask?  Because Rubik’s Cubes can be put into 43 billion billion different starting positions.  The vast majority of these can be solved within 15 to 19 moves.  In 100 million combinations, exactly 20 moves are needed to solve the puzzle.

20 moves!  Just what I needed:  something else to remind me that I was clueless when it came to figuring out a Rubik’s Cube, or one of those bent nails puzzles.

I had a friend once who got so frustrated with the apparently unsolvable Rubik’s Cube that he steamed the colored squares off the plastic underneath and re-glued them so that he could brag to friends that he figured it out.  Of course, he might have done better if he’d been helped by a supercomputer or two.

The Curious Lure Of Fishing

Last Saturday Russell and I tried an hour or so of fishing, because when you are at a fishing club and you’ve spent $21 for a Canadian fishing license, you probably should try to fish.  So we commandeered one of the Quinnebog Fishing Club boats and a few rods and reel, got a small cooler of worms, and set out onto Lake Erie with Russell manning the outboard.

Russell out on Lake Erie on Saturday

Unfortunately, we didn’t catch any fish.  Indeed, we didn’t get so much as a nibble.  The Lake was calm and other fishermen who tried that day were reporting that they had no luck, either.  From our brief expedition, however, I have drawn the following conclusions:

1.  Fishing is one of those exercises that look easy, but really aren’t.  There are a lot of moving parts:  knowing the good spots where fish might be found, determining the right lures and bait, deciding whether to troll or cast, and so forth.  If you don’t know what you are doing — and I don’t — you are in the laps of the gods.

2.  I stink at casting.  I mean, I really stink.  Not only can I not get the hook and bait more than a few feet from the boat, I inevitably tangle up the line every four or five “casts” and then have to painstakingly try to unsnarl things or cut the line and start over.  This process teaches you the palliative power of curse words, as well as patience.

3.  You are a very attractive target for biting flies when you are out in a boat, with no other sources for bloodsucking in the immediate vicinity.

4.  Even if you don’t catch anything, it is fun and relaxing to skim the surface of a lake in a small craft on a bright summer’s day, stake out a spot, and then drift listlessly while you try your luck.

5.  I think I’d like to try it again.