Day 11 – Why am I a Cuber? Aka life lessons some plastic and screws taught me

Hopefully this gets posted successfully.

I’ll edit and add in the fancy stuff like photos, tags and links later since I am trying to conserve the amount of data I use on my phone due to the wifi being down and can’t really do that stuff on the app. (See day 10 and the post about the app)
To the topic at hand, why am I a cuber and how did I get started?

So when I was in 3rd grade (Primary 4 for the British system people, mid 2000’s for future historians) there was a bit of a “Cubing revival” at our school. Everyone had one on the corner of their desk, even though only one guy in our class knew how to solve one.

And to fit in and be “cool” I got one as well (hint: didn’t work).

It was my first cube, Rubik’s branded one (how was I supposed to know better?) with karate guys on the white face of the cube (I did martial arts at the time).

I proceeded to scramble it… then tried to solve it without a guide or help. After all, how hard could it be? That kid in class does it all the time, starting with the cross, then working his way up. I totally got this! (I also may have had a tiny crush on the guy and wanted to one up him at his own game, so never asked… yup)

Eventually, (and predictably) I gave up.

And so, the scrambled cube stayed on my desk, then moved to the book shelf, slowly collecting dust, until one day in a quest to “clean” my room as quickly as possible, I threw everything that wasn’t necessary into a garbage bag and chucked it in the garage (since my mom would check closets :P)

It stayed there in that bag for years, watching me take out other items I needed, but never being chosen itself…

Until THAT summer, when I was about to pack up everything and fly thousands of miles away to a new country, a new home and… most daunting of all… a new school (DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!)

Being the “new kid” was a terrifying prospect for me. After all, in kindergarten and 6th grade (Year 7) Middle school, I was never alone in being the “awkward kid who had no idea what they were doing”. But now? That was about to change. I was going to be “that kid” now. *Gasp in horror*

So to prepare myself and make a good first impression, I googled “How to look intelligent”. I know, a bit self-righteous, but hey, I was 12.

On that list, next to being well read/speed reading (check) and knowing another language (sorta, kinda check?) was solving a Rubik’s cube. Since I had one, a free summer and the internet (more specifically google and youtube).

And while it didn’t exactly make me look smarter to my classmates, it was a conversation starter that helped me connect with others, and become friends with some amazing people.

After that one thing lead to another… and several cubes later, here I am today!
So what did life lessons learn (need to answer that click-baity title after all)?

Well for one, don’t be afraid to ask for help when learning or trying something new. You are going to suck at stuff when you first start, that is kinda the nature of starting something new. Trying to reinvent the wheel is not just a foolish endeavor, it is an exhausting and time consuming one as well.

Also, don’t just give up because something seems impossible or difficult, persevere through it! Feliks Zemdegs started in 2008. I picked up my first cube in end of 2006, early 2007… could’ve had a head-start on the guy, just sayin’ XP
But perhaps more philosophically

I think we as people all too often focus on the “How to’s” of the world: How to choose a major in university? How to be rich? How to choose become an Olympic athlete? Or in this case, How to solve a Rubik’s cube? We try to strip down goal or achievements to their bare essence, to tasks with clear “steps to success” with clearly defined numerical metrics of success: your GPA, your net worth, your medal count, your solving time etc.
But in doing so, we blatantly ignore the real human stories behind each personal endeavor to try, learn and improve.

We pretend that we live in a world where doing XYZ leads to success, as if we are characters in an MMORPG, with skill trees to complete and levels to gain. But that is just plain false!

To evoke Charlote Bronte’s Jane Eyre: We are not antomations – machines without feeling!

Thus, everyone has their own unique story to tell, their own way of viewing the world 

In the end, WHY do I solve the cube?

Why do I spend time out of my day to mess up the pattern on a plastic cube, just to fix it a few seconds later?

For me, it is impossible to pin point down, because the reasons are so varied and nuanced, that it is just easier to lay the entire story before you. 

  • A bit of pride plus a fear of the unknown? 
  • A constant reminder of self improvement?
  • Or it is just fun?
  • All of the above? 
  • Or I am pondering this question too much, who knows?

So remember: “How to” is the simple question to ask, but will give you a dry, cookie cutter answer. Instead, ask go out and ask yourself “Why?” to get a more personal perspective and the opportunity to learn something new!

Fellow cubers out there, what’s your cubing story? Non cubers, what are some lessons that unassuming things have taught you? Feel free to post below!

Stay curious and see you tomorrow with another post!



Day 10- Myths & Things Non-cubers say

House got hit with lightning yesterday and fried a bunch of stuff… including the modem. 😯

Which means no wifi at home until it gets fixed, so I’m at a library right now, probably going to finish up 2 posts and schedule the second to publish tomorrow.

Zeus / Jupiter apparently is not pleased with my Rubik’s cube posts… so what better thing to do than to make more of them!

Myths about cubing (quick fire round):

  • You must be good at math to solve a cube. Nope, no math is involved!
    • A social recluse? No.
    • A prodigy? No.
    • Asian? N…Well okay I am, but its not a requirement. Anyone, and I mean anyone can learn how to do it with enough patients and a guide.
  • Scrambling for longer makes solving it harder. It only takes ~30 random moves to be properly scrambled. Its fine if the same colors are side by side, most do.
  • Blindfolded solvers are just feeling the stickers.  Nope, they memorize the cube ( I haven’t been able to do it yet, since it evolves knowing full OLL but hoping to in the future)

Things Non-cubers say:

  • Why bother? Just peel off the stickers like I did!
    • * forced laughter * Why do people do/joke about this… not only is it impractical and destroys the cube, but I have heard it so many times now that its just not funny. If you really want a complete cube without solving it, either take it apart completely or download a cube solving app.
  • I was once playing with it and magically solved it!
    • …. Hope I don’t have to explain why this is bull.. Hint: 1/43,252,003,274,489,856,000
  • Once I got 5 sides of the cube, but darn it, that one elusive side just wouldn’t…
    • Impossible. If you have 5 sides, the last one MUST be solved. In fact, 3 faces is usually restrictive enough for a solved cube. Also we solve by pieces (corners and edges, centers on a 3x3x3 don’t move no mater how you turn), not faces.
  • What’s your fastest time?
    • Good question! Currently for a single solve on the 3x3x3 its 33.69 seconds, with my average hovering just under 40 seconds (unofficial, I haven’t joined any WCA events and I don’t really time my solves for the other ones)
  • Pshht. I know a friend who can regularly solve it in like 5 seconds!
    • No you don’t. Full stop. Current record is average is 6.39 seconds, so if they solve it under that time, they are cheating or they are a record holder and it was an easy solve.
  • Stop cheating by looking at me scramble! *Hides behind back*
    • Looking at you scramble doesn’t help me solve it, since I’m not memorizing your moves and reversing them.
  • *hands cube over* Go! *starts timer*
    • Official rules let us have 15 seconds to inspect the cube before we start turning the cube, please give us this time.
  • CATCH! *throws cube*
    • This is one that will REALLY piss off cubers. They aren’t Rubik’s brand cubes that can survive the drop, they are lighter, faster and more intricate. Our mains have been adjusted so that they are perfect for our turning style, and hold a ton of sentimental value. Please don’t do this. If you do, don’t be surprised when I don’t let you scramble my puzzles in the future.

Well, that’s all for now! Tomorrow, (if it posts properly that is, if not I’ll do two posts when my wifi back home is up) I’ll be talking about how I got started in this hobby to wrap up this trilogy. See you then!



Day 9 – An Introduction to Cubing

As promised, here is! (split up into 3 days worth of posts ;P)


Or the sport of solving geometric puzzles puzzles as quickly as possible.

My current collection!

Wait, why didn’t I just call it them Rubik’s cubes?

For one, Rubik’s brand cubes are the worst ones out there. They are extremely overpriced (often 5x more) , don’t turn well, you can’t change the tensions, no corner cutting etc. Out of all the people that top the World Cubing Associations record list, none of them use or endorse a Rubik’s brand cube… there is a very good reason for that.

Two, it technically ignores all the other puzzles such as the 4x4x4 (aka Rubik’s Revenge) Megaminx (bottom row, 3 from left) , Mirror cube, Pyraminx (don’t own one but they look like this) etc

Three, the company has been lawsuit-happy and it is getting a bit old now, especially since they have an objectively worse product that they haven’t done anything to improve it. Think Alta vista trying to sue google and sometimes winning.. (see here and here for more about it)

Basically, this is a rare case where the  “knockoffs” are actually better than the brand name, since they had to compete based on quality and cost by constantly developing faster cubes (here is a reddit page by /r/Cubers on where to buy if you are interested in getting started in the hobby!)

So how is it done?

Continue reading “Day 9 – An Introduction to Cubing”

Day 6 – Am I a Hobby-Hoarder?

And because I am a renegade blogger, spoilers: contrary to Betteridge’s law of headlines / Hinchliffe’s Rule which states:

Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word “no.” The reason why journalists use that style of headline is that they know the story is probably bullshit, and don’t actually have the sources and facts to back it up, but still want to run it.[1]

The answer to the question is Yes.

But since I am also a history student, I can’t be so definitive with my answers, so the question should be re-framed as “To what extent is Rebecca of A Pondering Papaya a hobby-horder?” with the conclusion being ” To a large extent, though only for xyz period of time, with consideration to various external factors”.

Actually no, I wouldn’t be able to do that either, since its too recent for us to know the effects of what I am doing, thus not considered history until…

Sorry, I’m getting off track… where was I ?

Right, hobby hording. I got a major problem with it.

I mean it is one thing to try out things until you find one that sticks, but I seem to have a problem with starting activities and droping them off a few years later. My room is just a graveyard of past projects, littered with stuff from…

  • Sports:
    • Running – The phase I’m currently in. Besides running shoes, I’ve got my 10km bib from 2017 Standard charter marathon, the uni running team shirt and a few other things strewn around here (including my watch).
    • Swimming – Still have my swimming stuff, but haven’t gone to the pool in forever… probably should get back into in, since I made it to the level just before the swimming team and stopped…
    • Karate – Did this when I was still living in Texas, so most of the stuff is still back there. Have some photos and one of my puzzle cubes was from there and karate themed
  • Arts:
    • Music – I played flute and violin, so my room has my two flutes (one is from middle school and really beaten up, the other is the professional looking nice one) and a violin (which I share with my brother, who plays piano but has actually stuck to it for 10+ years, unlike me who keeps going off and on)
    • Book binding – A few summers ago,  I thought this would be a good use of my time. Sewed several text blocks but never got around to finishing them off with a cover and book cloths etc.
    • Crochet- Did this for IB CAS (see my CAS blog HERE for more about it). I still have the stuff and a lot of left over yarn + some stuffing , just haven’t gotten back into it for some reason.
    • Macrame / Chinese Knotting – Yes, these are technically different but they use a lot of the same techniques so I’m grouping them together. Luckily the stuff for this doesn’t take up much room (about one pencil case full) so its stuck around for a while, just that inspiration of stuff to make hasn’t struck me yet
  • Actually useful things:
    • Coding – I haven’t done this in a while, which I don’t really have an excuse for since you know, its all on the same computer I spend bing watching shows on… sigh
    • First Aid –  Need to get my certification renewed some time this year…not really a hobby though, so I’ll just leave it at that
    • Reading – So many freaking books in my room… I’ve been trying to cull some of my physical books, but like the hydra they keep bloody coming back. Perhaps a post for another day though!
    • Writing- The only hobby so far I haven’t dropped yet (fingers crossed!)
  • Everything else
    • Cubing – I’ve got five 3x3x3, one 4x4x4, one mirror cube, one megaminx. Still sticking with this hobby since its quite relaxing to just sit down and solve them. Now just need to learn OLL
    • Crosswords – Again, like the music stuff, this is a very off and on hobby, both making crosswords and solving them. Good thing is that its mostly confined to my phone and laptop, since otherwise.

So now that I am a self confessed hobby-holic, what now?

Well since this post is getting long….

I’m making this a two parter (not necessarily completing it tomorrow since I still need time to think, but sometime within the 30 days).

Also for the record, first time I have finished this post before dinner (4:10pm) whoop! Probably because it is raining for the 4th day in a row… HK weather wtf…