# Ego bruising

While I was watching college football at a friend’s apartment, she brought out a few wooden 3D puzzles that her grandfather makes as a hobby, so we could fiddle around with them during halftime and when there wasn’t anything going on in the game and after the game was over. I don’t recall ever seeing any puzzles like this, but a Google search of woodworking 3d puzzles reveals that it must be a pretty widespread hobby.

They were really hard, to me. There were four such puzzles that we passed around, and I tried my hand at two of them over the course of a few hours. The other five guests, who had never seen them before, each solved two or more of them, eventually, and I didn’t solve a single one. One of them is demonstrated in this video, where the guy makes it look a million time easier than it really is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IsXBLyiPzQo

The other one was even easier. It kind of resembled this, but wasn’t the same:

It consisted of six wooden rectangular planks each with a peg sticking out perpendicularly, either from the middle or near one end, and each wooden rectangle had two or three holes for other pegs to go into, and you had to put them together into a cube-like block with no pegs sticking out or visible anywhere. I tried that damn thing forever and came close so many times, but could never change my strategy enough to solve it.

I have never solved a Rubik’s Cube, either. I never owned one myself, so that could have helped, but I doubt I would have had the patience or the ability to figure it out. It would have taken years of diligent attempts, probably. I did own a similar puzzle called Square One, which is like a super Rubik’s Cube because its pieces are not all cubes; as you can see from the Wikipedia image, it contained mostly irregular-shaped pieces. Obviously I never came close to solving it, either.

I’m not sure if my problem is that I don’t have a good enough imagination or don’t have good enough spatial reasoning skills, but it’s probably both. Remember those standardized test questions, or IQ test questions, where you were supposed to imagine folding a piece of paper up a certain way and cutting it with scissors in a certain way, and then discern what the paper would look like after it was unfolded? Yeah, I was always kind of bad at those. I’m sure I could figure most of them out eventually, but they didn’t come easily. These 3D puzzles that I could hold in my own hands and fiddle with in any way I wanted and look at in real life and try and try again proved impossible for me. Everyone else had a pretty hard time with them, but like I said, they all eventually got a couple of them.

It just really depressed me. That is all.

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