After writing about my CodeWord book the other day, I spent a bit of my commute time thinking about completion.  I have almost completed my book of puzzles.  It might have taken me the better part of a year, but it will get done.  Hopefully tomorrow on the bus I will fill out that last page.  I hope I will feel some sort of satisfaction, or pride, or at least a sense of accomplishment.

Applying this to my other hobbies I see that completion has played a big part in them also.

 Here are some acts of completion which make me feel pretty good.

Putting the last piece in a 1000 (or more) piece puzzle.
Taking the last part of a model from the sprue and attaching it to the model.
Filling in the last square of the Saturday Crossword Puzzle.
Getting the last number of a Sudoku puzzle.
Taking off your skates or ski boots after a long day on the ice or the mountain.
Planting the last artificial tree on the train layout.
Getting the last colour in the Rubik;s Cube
Acquiring that last country in Risk.
Conquering the last civilization in Age of Empires
Getting the last card for your set.
The Stanley Cup Championship game.
The last train stop on the journey.
Writing the last postcard of your vacation.
The match winning tennis shot (forehand, crosscourt lots of topspin)

These completions ring bittersweet.

Reading the last sentence in a great novel.

The last ski run of the day.
Watching the last episode in a TV series you’ve enjoyed.
The last piece of birthday cake.

These are completions which are terrible

Eating the last cookie.

Drinking the last beer.

Though I love completion, I do know that procrastination has a strong hold on my life as well.  I like to see some things done, but I don’t always start them on time.

A Whacky Idea

While writing the post about the Rubik’s cube, and pondering my sometimes lacklustre economic future, I wondered if I should set up a business solving the cubes.  I envisioned a system whereby people sent me their cubes (along with a return envelope with sufficient postage) and I would solve their cubes and send them back.
Of course I expected to charge a small fee for the service.
I know what all of you are thinking.
1  People could buy the book (or check on line) and solve the cubes themselves
2 It would be easier, and cheaper, to take the cube apart and reassemble it correctly
3 Nobody would pay for that

Sadly, the last point is the one that I think is most true.  I know there are thousands of cubes clogging up people’s basements, or going unsold at garage sales.  I am sure it would be easy to find them a new home if only they were solved.
Weep, for this dream is dead.

A Puzzling Life

I must confess to some geekdom…. I should probably confess to a lot, but since the blog is doing it for me, I can forgo that for now.  Back to my confession.  I love puzzles.  I love crosswords, Sudoku, word search, the jumble, mind puzzles, lateral thinking puzzles, logic puzzles, and yes, things like the Rubik’s Cube.

Being able to solve the Rubik’s Cube is an honour which lies somewhere between useless and dubious.  It certainly doesn’t help me meet women, and other than surprising some of my students–who quickly ask me how fast I can do it–curse you YouTube, curse you.  I can do it but I am no record holder.  Shouldn’t that be good enough?  As I was saying, other than surprising my students, it doesn’t do much else for me.

I remember watching a “reality” TV show called “Beauty and the Geek”,  One of the contestants (guess which one?) was unpacking their luggage when they produced multiple cubes.  When questioned why so many cubes were needed, the reply was, “Just in case.”

Since that day I have wondered what that meant.  Just in case what?  Is there something about the Mayan Calendar prophecy that I don’t know?  Maybe I’ve got some kind of edge.  Maybe cube solvers will rule the new order.  Probably all that guy meant was that he would have something to do if the internet went down.

I learned to solve the Rubik’s Cube from a book.  I got it as a Christmas gift while still in elementary school.  Oddly enough, I did those moves so many times that I haven’t forgotten them more than 28 years later.  I guess there really is something to muscle memory.

I had a whole collection of these puzzles.  I had a pyramid, a missing link puzzle, a tower with colour graduated balls.  I think the people in my life wanted to get me on that TV show That’s Incredible.