Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cubing in public, and breaking cube news

Having had a number of long days and odd situations at work, I was faced Friday with the prospect of having to take a long lunch so I didn't put myself into unauthorized overtime. I brought my good stickerless DaYan with me, and went to go run some errands to make the most of my lunch hours.

I had intended as my first stop to go to Home Depot and find out if they could sell me a prefabbed kitchen drawer to replace my blown-out silverware drawer. Particle board is not amenable to being re-drilled that much, and it had several stress failures in it. I discovered at Home Depot that they don't do kitchen cabinets the same way that they used to. I remember it being more like IKEA, where if you want a particular setup, they say, "Go get 4 drawer kits, one Base A, Two Base G's, and a Door M and N." Now, an entire section is a pre-assembled piece and you just have to fit them together, and the drawers are done completely differently now. Smartly, the rollers are underneath the drawer instead of hanging off the sides, so gravity doesn't act to misalign the mechanism.  I made a couple of laps around the furniture section, hoping to catch someone's eye so I could ask the stupid question to which they were going to answer "No" to, but the only employees that I was able to engage either were in other sections or the sniper guy in the front of the store that I wasn't going to talk to because I wasn't particularly interested in whatever special offers he had today.

Feeling down for having flunked out of the first errand, I walked over to the TigerDirect in the same plaza. Instead of avoiding the salespeople, I brandished my cube and walked right towards them. When the first person said "Hey - Rubiks' Cube!" I knew I was going to be good to do my three minute schtick. I managed to finish off a 27 second solve, talked to them about Will Smith learning to do the cube for ha movie, the fastest current time, the basics about the Fridrich method, how the corners first method is different, how algorithms work, and how learning how to do two moves with a single had motion improved my time. After the demonstration, I got someone to direct me to a good keyboard because I had gotten tired of the overly flat Dell keyboard that comes with the new computers that my company has been rolling out. They showed me a Microsoft Ergonomic 4000 and they had it for $35, and I was pretty darn happy about that. I even did a little bit of my cube demo a second time for the cashier who rang me up since nobody was in line behind me and they seemed interested.

After I got done with that, I went down to the Gamestop up the street. I found a used copy of Killer is Dead marked at $8, but it rang up $16. The cashier was nice about it and split the difference, so I got it for $12. While he was figuring it out, I did a little bit of my cube routine for the line that had formed behind me. During part of my schtick, I had mentioned to the cashier that I usually had my cube with me for when I had to wait in line at places instead of playing Angry Birds, and I got a sort of a hipstery I-didn't-think-anybody-still-played-Angry-Birds response from him. That's a sentiment that's not unexpected from the general public, but I found it slightly unexpected from a game store employee. This is Gamestop after all - if people weren't playing old games they wouldn't be making enough money to be in a strip mall every 15 miles all over America.

So, having forgotten several items on the list, I found myself at Walmart later that evening to get a couple of the things I couldn't manage to get elsewhere. Our local store is being remodeled, so everything is out of place. Towering shrink-wrapped pallets fill the rear aisles, the newly redesigned parking lot doesn't have cart corrals in the right places, the back-to-school section is two narrow corridors of doom and destruction, support posts block the traffic flow of the most used cash lane of the store, turkey pans are assisting with the air conditioning system, and if anything new came in the store you would only find it by accident.

Last night's accidental discoveries were some of the Star Trek series of Hot Wheels cars and a newly redesigned Rubik's cube!

The packaging is clear plastic on top to show the cube inside, with an insert on the bottom that mentions that there's a new smoother mechanism and on the other side that there's a new Rubik's cube app on Google Play and the Apple Store. The cube is shiny - at first I thought that it was just redesigned stickers but it turned out to be embedded plastic tiles. This is not the first time that a Rubik's cube was done with tiles, but the plastic tiles on the 80's cubes were thicker. These new tiles are recessed. I have not been able to disassemble the new cube as I find the mechanism is rather stiff. It may have a spherical mechanism similar to the Void cubes and the 80's Rubiks' Revenge, or it may just be that there are spherical feet. It is not suited for speedcubing that I can tell, but perhaps some breaking in will do it some good. The only information that I had found about the new cube was on the Hasbro page.  I had one face that I couldn't turn that well for ten minutes or so, and then with a firm grip on two layers I was eventually able to turn it. I couldn't tell if it was hung up or there was a piece of plastic flash, but now I can hear a rattling piece of plastic inside the cube when I shake it. Since I can't wear down or delaminate the stickers and they're widely available, I suppose I could silicone this one without fear. If the silicone lubricant works, it would be the first time in a long time that I can carry around a real Rubik's cube without having to apologize for it.

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