Author Archives: Adventures in Cubing

18 Months Without Practice (Yikes!?!) / Father’s Day Shout-Out to AZACH’S WORLD

Hey, gang. It’s been 18 months since I’ve posted a video, and just about the same amount of time since I’ve practiced cubing. Maybe a random solve here or there when they kids find a cube somewhere. But that’s it. The simple explanation: I got really, really busy. All good stuff. Just very distracting and time consuming. Not much spare time over the past 18 months for hobbies.

Cubing is not like riding a bike. You don’t do it for a bit, and you forget. Quickly. Below is a solve I posted as an excuse to accomplish something else entirely. You can see how rusty I am. My recognition is abysmal (let’s be honest, it was never great); my technique and finger tricks are embarrassing; and I forgot several cases (or at least they didn’t come reflexively). Oh well. I’ll start practicing again, and I’m sure the muscle memory will come back.

So, why all of a sudden crawl out of the woodwork to post a crappy solve? Because it’s Father’s Day, and my son has been begging me to. That’s why.

Continue reading

OLL 56 Slo-Mo (iPhone 240fps) — a.k.a., I’m Stil Here

OLL 56 (spinner/streetlights)

(r U r’ U) (R U’ R’) M’ U (R U2 r’)

setup: (r U r’) (R U R’ U’) (R U R’ U’) (r U’ r’)

Three posts for all of 2015. That was it. Three. That wasn’t some fancy Rule of Three dramatic device. Not at all. Just. Plain. Busy. There were months at a time that I didn’t even pick up a cube, let alone post. But never fear: In the infamous* words of John Hartford, I’m still here.

* by which I mean neither the Three Amigos’ “more than famous” nor the literal “well known for some bad quality or deed,” but rather “not really famous at all.”

This one relates to OLL 56, one of the bar or I-shaped OLLs. As I learn the full set of bar OLLs this emerged as one where the standard alg — (r U r') U (R U' R') U (R U' R') (r U' r') — could be improved by an M-slice. Yes, I’m a self-proclaimed M- and S-slice evangelist. And, yes, I’ll admit that sometimes using the middle slices is more neat and clever than ultimately useful. (The S-slice alg for F2L edge flip probably should be Exhibit 1.) But OLL 56 really does get easier with an M slice dropped in. Here’s a video showing the execution at full-speed and in slomo:

(music: “Spellbound” Kevin MacLeod ( / Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License; cube: Maru CX3 with The Cubicle fitted stickers in custom color scheme)

It may not be for everyone, but it’s much easier for me. Full bar OLL tutorial coming soon....

F2L #36 – S Slice Variant

F2L 36

R U S’ (R’ U R) S R’
[setup: (R U’ R) U2 (F R’ F’ R) U2]

Four months! It’s been four full months since my last video/post. Totally unlike me. Busy is an understatement. It’s finally time to come for air momentarily with a tutorial I’ve planned for a long time.

This one relates to F2L 36, a case that I’ve never liked. The standard alg — U2 (R' F R F') U2 (R U R') — isn’t terribly slow. Nor is it very smooth or fluid. (My older video on that version.) I’ve come to prefer a “tricked out” variant that comes by way of Teller West — and, no surprise, it’s based around the S slice.

Here’s an in-depth tutorial comparing the standard alg to the S slice variant, showing my finger-tricks (very different than Teller’s), and vindicating the standard alg for certain cases:

(cube: Maru CX-3, partially un-stickered))

Like most S-based algs, this one succeeds or fails on finding a fluid, effortless way to finger-trick the slice. I couldn’t manage it the way Teller does. But once I “made it my own” — my recurring advice to cubers of all levels — the alg came together quickly. I push the S’ right-to-left across the top using my index finger, which is naturally on the right side of that edge after the R U; I pull the S left-to-right across the top after the R’ U R lands my index finger to the left of the edge. Mechanically, it all makes sense. But timing is everything.

I’m fascinated by how this algorithm can be deconstructed into component parts to help explain it’s mechanics:

   R U
                   R’ U R

The first “level” in blue is a standard corner insert. Sandwiched between is a series of self-reversing S slices at the next “level” in red, and between those a series of self-reversing R moves (with the critical U smack in the middle). Huh? Basically, it’s a corner insert. But, just before the final R’, the S’ knocks out an edge, the R’ U R brings around the replacement (previously stuck F2L edge). The S flips that edge while pairing it with the corner. When the corner finally inserts, it brings the edge with it. Pretty neat.

Once understood as an expansion of the simple R U R’ insert, it becomes obvious why the S version works only when the flipped edge is in its own slot. If the flipped edge is in another slot, you need to use another alg — as emphasized at the end of the video.

It was fun to spend time on this one. Busy I remain, but hopefully it won’t take another four months to pump out the next post.

Tricked-Out OLL 35 Slo-Mo (iPhone 240fps)

OLL 35 (fish salad)

L U2′ r2′ F r U’ r U2 L’
[setup: R U2 (R’ F R’ F’) R2 U2 R’]

I’ve been busy lately. Crazy busy! Family. Kids. Work. Travel. Life. Time to take a break and to emerge from the shadows with another quickie slomo video.

This one relates to OLL 35, an OLL I’ve always hated. It’s the “other” big fish OLL — the harder one, with only a center on each of the “tail” sides (rather than center/corner pairs). The standard alg (R U2 R2' F R F' R U2 R') is ok, but I never got a great flow with it.** This “tricked out” version comes by way of Teller West, my co-conspirator in S-slice evangelism (although this iteration altogether ignores S).

Here’s a video showing the execution at full-speed and in slomo:

(music: String Cheese Incident, Coltrane’s “Afro Blue” (8.2.03); cube: Dayan Zhanchi w/ Cube Specialists fitted bright stickers)

The toughest part is the U2′, pushed left to right with my right index finger. On locky cubes, that sticks. But if you can get the timing and execution right on the opening L U2′, the rest flows smoothly and effortlessly.

** Actually, the standard alg is really good, and flows quite nicely. I must have focussed on a different alg when I first sat down to learn it.

Travel Solve: Ixtapa (30 sec)

Quickie post on creeping internet from Ixtapa, Méjico. Nothing special (no fancy edits or intros/outros). Just a 30-second solve on a Weilong from our cabana sadwiched between the pool and beach — in dedicated furtherance of my travel series (e.g., Utah, China).

When I’m home, I’ll try to figure out how that black edge got dislodged during F2L. Also, I do know that Fung OLL. But with the pressure of the video — a stressor I’ll never quite understand — I two-looked it for some reason.

Hasta luego....

Knitted Cube

Howdy. I’m back from some business travel and wanted to get a last pre-holiday post up. I’ve got a couple tutorials and a fun collaboration brewing. Soon....

In the meanwhile, I wanted to post about an 8″ cube that my mom knitted for me, falling at the intersection of her and my hobbies:

My mom is an expert knitter. In my nearly forty years on this planet, she’s knitted me untold dozens of sweaters, hats, scarves, and blankets. This was one of her harder projects, and one of the more fun.

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 12.24.24 PMAuthenticity was key for this project. I didn’t want random colors for each cubie, but instead “positions” that were attainable on a cube. The best way to do that was with an actual scramble, and we opted for the one on which Mats set the world record. That would be easily accessible, I figured, if she messed up the “model” cube that she was using. Of course, she never did. Continue reading

The Elf on the Cube

Day 7 (2014 Dec 07, 06:45)

The Elf. He came back. Again. Just as the book tells it. This time, trading the shelf for an oversized cube. And he took a liking to my CX3.

A little creepy.