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April 30, 2006

rubik's cube


While at the teacher store yesterday, I happened upon a toy that I had not played with since my youth. It is a puzzle that filled with me great frustration at the time. I never could solve the cube and I swore I would never play with the damn thing again. What became of it is a mystery to me now.

I took the multicolored cube down from the shelf and studied it. At $10.99, the price had quadrupled over the years. The sticker on the outside of the box indicated that this was the twenty fifth-year anniversary edition. I wonder how many are sitting in landfills discarded over the years. I bought it. Took it home. My daughter promptly twisted it till there were no two adjacent facelets that matched then handed it to me.

I worked till almost midnight with the blasted thing. I followed the directions on the folded up paper with the tiny font that came with it. I came close several times but each time it would get the best of me.

I found one mistake in the directions right away. In Step One, the third sentence refers to a blue-green edge. It should say yellow-green. After I found that, I had trouble trusting the rest of the steps.

Turning to my trusty Mac, I did a Google for solutions to the cube. I found 50,000 entries. They were all more confusing than the instructions that came with it but I did find out that, with 10,000 hours of practice, I could eventual solve the cube in a blazing 12 seconds. Somehow I don't see that happening. That much time would certainly put a crimp in my naptime.

This morning, I gave it another go. I was wide-awake and alert. The instructions started to make sense. In an hour I had it solved. I can now rest knowing that I too have mastered the mysterious cube. Why I can do this in two days at the age of 60 when I could never seem to do it at 30, is also a mystery.

The number of websites with bragging rights to Rubik's Cube is now 50,001.

If you need help solving your cube, check out this site. I did not find it until after I solved my cube so I did not need to use It. But it looks interesting. If you try it, let me know if the site is useful.

In case you lost your copy of the sloution that came with the rubic cube, here they are:
page 1
page 2
page 3

Posted by roadapples at 08:05 AM | Comments (5)

April 26, 2006

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!


Slimy sycophants and putrid parasites have invaded my wobbly web site. I don't think they even come here in poison. They just send robots or webbots by to attach horrid comments replete with links to disgusting sex sites.

I had comment monitoring turned on but they left their disgusting graffiti any way. The stuff never showed up on any of my posts but it was time consuming just removing them from my database and it was so annoying. As a defensive measure, I turned off comments on all my posts including this one.

I am hoping they will go away and leave me in peace if they can not attach themselves to my rudder for a while.

Posted by roadapples at 06:19 AM

April 10, 2006

fine wine


That old dog could damn near drink his weight in wine. He didn't come by it natural but, when given the chance, he lapped it up faster than a wino after a three-day dry spell.

He was a big good natured mongrel dog left by the side of the road when his owner no longer needed or wanted him. Who knows why? Maybe he crapped on the carpet one time too many.

He must have been on the street for while because every bone in his body was visible and a spot of mange was beginning to creep up the side of his left hind leg. He was as skittish as a field mouse and afraid of his own shadow. He coward when he saw Bobby Jones and me. But after a little coaxing with a breakfast sausage, he came to us.

I was a straight A student before I met Bobby. Ok, so I sneaked smokes in the boys bathroom like all my peers. The Marlboro Man represented my idea of manhood - him and Elvis that is.

A man of short stature kept me on the straight and narrow. Like Napoleon, my stepfather had a classic case of what psychologists call a small man syndrome. He welded an easy left hook and carried a two by four in his right for back up. The last two years of High School, the Drill Sergeant served two consecutive tours in Nam and I had a chance to make up for lost time.

Bobby Jones was as wild as horseradish and trouble always knew where to find him - on the street usually after midnight. I heard unconfirmed tales of him riding down the street in a convertible with the top down, trying to shoot out streetlights with a twenty-two. He was alone and bored.

With his mop of curly blond hair and a trim athletic build, he had his pick of girls. That was the one thing that would grind on me. He had his choice and wanted none and I couldn't score if my life depended on it. Thank god it didn't.

There is one more thing you need to know about Bobby. He was generous and kind hearted to a fault. He took that mangy mongrel dog home and nursed his spirit back to life.

Bobby called him Blackie. At first, Blackie would not eat in front of Bobby and he would not play. The dog would flinch when Bobby tried to pet him. But every day Blackie grew a little less shy.

Six months later, Blackie was eating out of Bobby's hand and playing fetch in the park. He was a different dog. This was end of the school year in 1964. It was a Thursday morning in late May. Bobby called me on the phone before I left to catch the bus.

"Want to skip school today", he asked.

"Are you crazy? We skipped last week Monday. Okay but you call in with the excuse this time. I think the secretary knows my voice."

I remember a wild ride through the Georgia back country with Blackie's head hanging out the window. There was two bottles of wine smuggled out of the liquor cabinet that stood in the corner of Bobby's living room. His father loved fine Italian wine and we were developing a taste for it too.

Being the generous soul, Bobby decided that Blackie should join in the fun. He poured a dish full of wine for Blackie. After about six good gulps, the bowl was empty. Blackie sat waiting for more - more he got.

Blackie's eyes grew bloodshot. His tongue hung down at the side of his mouth. When he trotted, his hind legs would move around to the side of his body until he was going in two directions. He finally went to sleep in the doorway with a nice smile on his face. He slept with out moving the rest of the afternoon and in to the evening.

The next day, Blackie was back to his playful self. Bobby went to school. When he got home in the afternoon though, the dog was gone.

Bobby sat food out on the front porch for another six months but it was no use. I have not seen or heard from Bobby since he was married in 1974 and, as far as I know, he never saw Blackie again.

Posted by roadapples at 09:13 PM | Comments (8)

April 09, 2006


Click to enlarge.

With a suspicious eye, he watched me as I retrieved and pressed the On button of my Canon. He watched as I sat there playing with the knobs and menus trying to look innocent. He watched me as I opened the monitor door, swing it to a right angle to the camera and point the lens in the young father's direction.

The moment was so reminiscent that it was impossible to resist the temptation. I knew his male companion would not approve but my finger pressed the shutter anyway.

The mother was busy with an older child shopping for clothes in one of the boutiques in this mall and the younger ones were left in his care. I think the male companion looking over his shoulder was most likely his brother.

Posted by roadapples at 09:02 AM | Comments (2)

April 05, 2006

girls night out


The wife was busy with something at her school and I was beat from a long day at my school. The last thing I wanted to do was fix dinner. It was a perfect time for an impromptu night out with my daughters at the local gyros stand. The food was good and the conservation was even better. While we were waiting for our food, my youngest daughter had to prepare invitations to her birthday party. After the food came, the topic turned to school.


"So how are things in school? Uh, Erin, if you want some soda, order some for yourself and leave mine alone."

"I love Biology dad but the teacher drives us crazy", said Breanna, the oldest.

"Oh really. Tell me more."

"Can I get a cookie for when I'm done", asked Erin.

"Get three", I replied. I didn't need the calories but I was caught up in the moment.

"Mr. Findley must be two hundred years old and he talks really soft and slow. He is always playing these films from the fifties. It has boys with rolled up pants legs and girls with weird hairdos. I swear I have to hold my eyes open like this to stay awake sometimes."


This was one of those moments a father waits for - a chance to impart some wisdom to his young and I was not going to blow it. I put down my fork, wiped the corners of my mouth, put a very thoughtful and serious look on my face, and prepared to say something very profound.

"Honey, Mr. Findley is a very fine teacher. He has many years of experience and you are lucky... hey where did my French fries go? Erin!"

"Yeah, yeah dad. Can I go to the jam fest on Friday night?", Breanna asked.

"We'll see. Did anybody see where my cookie went?"


Posted by roadapples at 07:26 AM | Comments (5)

April 01, 2006

home bound

The journey would last at least seven days with campouts in a tent along the side of the road for at least three nights. A good nights rest in a real bed would come in White Horse, Yukon Territory in northwestern Canada. When they crossed back into the United States in Idaho, they knew it would only be two more days.

It was time to go home. There were two sons growing up with out him back in Wisconsin and the big adventure in Alaska had run its course. The discontent and loneliness had become more than he could stand.

The year was 1985 and for the first time since 1914, the United States had become a debtor nation. It owed more money to foreigners than it was owed. Not so for John. For the first time in his life, he had a grubstake. He aimed to use it to scratch an itch that had been festering inside him for far too long.

He was tired of faking his way through life settling for the easy way out of every hard spot taking any dead-end job that would have him. Thirty-seven years was enough time to grow up and put down roots.

When the winter snows left the valley creeping its way back up Pioneer Peak and the wild Larkspur and Lupine began to peep through the leaf litter in early June, the two of them made plans to leave their Alaskan home in Palmer. They would only keep what they could get into the back of their half-ton. The rest they would sell at the auction.

Posted by roadapples at 04:56 PM | Comments (2)