Life Begins Anew

I’ve been away from blogging for a while. I plan to return and post at least some short posts every once in a while. The few of you who had asked me where I was and/or have still stayed as subscribers, thank you! And if you are still wondering why I was away, here’s why:



Aao Twist Karein

Over the years, I have expanded my Rubik’s-cube-inspired-puzzle collection by adding several cool variants of the original cube that was made by the Hungarian architect in the late 70’s. My collection of these twisty puzzles now boast a wide variety:

  1. The classic Rubik’s cube,
  2. 30th anniversary limited edition wood cube,
  3. LanLan Diamond (Octahedron) puzzle,
  4. 4×4 Mirror cube,
  5. Dayan V2 color cube,
  6. Meffert’s Gear cube,
  7. 2×3 puzzle,
  8. 2×2 cube,
  9. 1×3 (Floppy) puzzle,
  10. 3×4 puzzle,
  11. Rubik’s Cheese,
  12. Mozhi Tetris block,
  13. 3×3 Mirror cube,
  14. QJ Pyraminx,
  15. another Rubik’s cube (with a silver side instead of white),
  16. 4×4 cube,
  17. another 2×3 puzzle, and
  18. Void cube.

The oldest one among this lot is #15, you can see some stickers starting to wear off. I have yet to solve a couple of these, but my favorite so far is the 3×3 Mirror cube (#13 above). The irregularities in the shape of its 26 “cubies” keeps me busy for at least 10 to 15 minutes every time I play with it. In addition to the irregular shapes, each side has the same color which adds to the complexity and makes it more difficult to solve than a Rubik’s cube.

Rubik’s Cube

Last night I got my hands on this amazing Rubik’s cube inspired puzzle – see picture below. After few turns and twists, this irregularly shaped cube attained a shape so mind-boggling that it seemed quite impossible to solve. So after spending about an hour when I put the last cube in its correct position I was overwhelmed with sheer joy!

You can buy this brain teaser for as little as $4.33 (including shipping) from here.


So far, I have a small collection of three Rubik’s cubes: the classic (plastic) version, the 30th anniversary limited edition (wooden), and the latest addition of this irregularly shaped “Rubik’s cube”. I really like the wooden version, but the maneuvering is not as smooth as compared to the classic version.


The total number of possible arrangements for the pieces on a Rubik’s cube is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 or 43 quintillion. That’s 43 followed by 18 zeros! And only one solution.

To put things into perspective:

Allowing a second for each turn, it would take 1400 trillion years to go through all the possible configurations. By comparison, the universe is around 13 billion years old. [source]

Math Clock

Just got this wonderful math clock (for my office) in mail today.


Here’s the explanation of clock numerals. My favorite is the numeral for 5 o’clock that involves the golden ratio, which I wrote about few posts ago (here).

[Hat Tip: Udhay]

Being Childfree

Stephen Pinker, the author of The Blank Slate (to which this blog owes its name), on his personal choice of being childless:

Well into my procreating years I am, so far voluntarily childless, having squandered my biological resources reading and writing, doing research, helping out friends and students, and jogging in circles, ignoring the solemn imperative to spread my genes. By Darwinian standards I am a horrible mistake, a pathetic loser, not one iota less than if I were a card-carrying member of Queer Nation. But I am happy to be that way, and if my genes don’t like it, they can go jump in the lake.

Amen! Take that, genetic predilection!

P.S. More on this subject by Amit Varma here. (I think the poem he has quoted in this post doesn’t quite capture the gist of the argument though.)

Reaching, Gathering In, Relinquishing

My newfound interest in poker is thriving… the more I play and learn about this game, the more it delights me.

To that, here’s a passage from John Updike‘s short essay My Life in Poker from Due Considerations, a compilation of his essays and criticism.

I am careless, neglecting to count cards, preferring to sit there in a pleasant haze of bewilderment and anticipation. I am timid, tending to fold in the face of a relentless raiser. Yet I am also hopelessly optimistic, hanging in, feeding the pot quarters when only one card left in the deck can possibly help my hand. Poker’s charm for me, beside which bridge seems fuzzy and gin rummy picayune, lies in its rapid renewals of opportunity — that, and the actual presence of money, visible and tangible, on the table, flowing into pots and back out again. My one short story about poker ended with the image of the players’ aging hands, reaching, gathering in, relinquishing.

And one more:

Always being in  character is a bad ploy. Never making a mistake is a mistake. A failed bluff may pay off a few hands down the road, when you really have the goods, and everyone, remembering the failed bluff, stays against you. Poker, like statecraft, tends to steer by the last miscalculation, trying to avoid it this time. Which can also be a mistake.

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