Friday - I was suppose to take the shuttle to the airport around 8:15, since that's what was suggested on their website, but when I look more on their website on Thursday, I realized that they wouldn't give me enough time to be there early enough to check my baggage. And the 7:15 shuttle was full, so I had to get on the 6:15 shuttle. Anyways, since I was flying AirTran, I was in the boring terminal of MSP. While security was a breeze, there was nothing there to do. About the only thing of "interest" was the automatic piano.

Oh, but they also provide cubing stations at the terminal!

I didn't actually use the station, because I figured it would be very loud. I ended up just sitting and practicing some while waiting for my flight. I'm also getting better at going through security. If I throw my watch and belt into my backpack before going through, then I just have to throw my backpack on and take off my shoes, and nothing else. Of course, I overheard some lady complaining on her cell phone that they made her throw away some expensive lotion she had. Well, if you didn't have 3 carryon bags plus your purse, that probably wouldn't happen.

The flight there was uneventful. I tried practicing my Master Magic, but you really can't go fast flying coach with people next to you. But I at least got the pattern down. Once I landed, it was probably about an hour to get to the hotel. I was able to pick up a map at the Information desk of downtown and then hop on the MARTA rail. I took the train to Peachtree Center and walk to the Red Roof Inn from there. Atlanta outside is extremely humid. I believe it was in the 90's for most of the days I was there. And the train station underground is also extremely hot. Anyways, I got to the hotel and gave Bob Burton a call to see where other folks were at. They were all at the Underground at Johnny Rockets. So I left my stuff at the hotel and went down there to meet them. I didn't bother bringing my cubes since I was tired of hauling stuff.

People cubed for a while and then we went over to the stage and started setting up for the competition. People were also practicing and racing. We drew a lot of spectators and it wasn't even the real competition yet. Once setup was mostly done, I ran back to the hotel quick to get my cubes.

When setup was complete, Tyson gave us some instructions for tomorrow and said that we would just find dinner on our own, since it would be difficult to accomodate a group that large. While leaving, I saw Stefan, Lars, and Arnaud and decided to tag along with them, since Stefan would also be going back to the same hotel as me anyways. One of them was eating some Chinese food from a takeout container, and we just started walking to find a place to eat. Stefan had said earlier on's forum to not look like a tourist, so I joked with him that if anyone asks us something, to let me do the talking (for those of you who don't understand, Stefan is German, Lars is Belguim, and Arnaud is Dutch). And not one block later, some loudly inquiried (with colorful language) as to what Lars was eating. I didn't say anything. After we were a bit aways, Stefan was about to ask why I didn't say anything when I apologized to him for not holding up my end of the bargain. To be honest, I didn't know if he was eating pork or chicken, and I would've felt bad for giving the gentlemen the wrong information :)

Anyways, it turns out that all three of the other people had eaten, and they had absolutely no opinion on where they wanted to go, even though they were the ones in a different continent. We headed back to the official hotel and met up with a few people, and then we ended up going to Hooter's. I don't think they expected that large (or that geeky) of a crowd. We split up into many smaller groups, but it took forever to get our orders and our food. Bob ended up getting his BBQ sauce when he was nearly done with his meal. After that, I headed back to my hotel.

Saturday - I woke up much earlier than I expected, so I decided to see the sights of downtown Atlanta. And since this was early in the morning, it wasn't blazing hot yet.

This is the Museum of Design, with a large bronze dog poop sculpture.

World of Coca-Cola

Centennial Park. At last year's US Open in Chicago, I walked through Millenium Park. So, wherever there's a "Decade Park", that must be the location of next year's competition. Also, I believe this is where they held Olympic Swinging.

The park (and downtown) had a ton of water sculptures, but because of the drought, this was the only functioning one I saw.

Hey! It's a cube core!

A restickering job gone bad

Underground was the venue for the competition

This is the escalator in the Peachtree Center that leads to the train. Makes you dizzy just going up it.

After wandering around, I headed over to the official hotel and went in and had some breakfast there and chatted with people until we went to the Underground. I borrowed a screwdriver and tightened my cube slightly, since I had been popping a lot lately. Anyways, the whole group went there and did some final setup, and then stuff got extremely busy. A lot of these pictures are people practicing waiting for the competition to start. The lighting was kind of bad, but they had spot lights above the stations so it wasn't bad solving. I also learned the twist method for the Master Magic that morning. Someone was looking for another Stackmat battery and I told him I had some extras. He offerred to buy it and I told him I just wanted a Coke. He left and never came back.

Some blindfolded cubing going on

The guy standing on the right is Konstantinos Verdes, from, the makers of the 6x6x6 and 7x7x7 cubes. They also make a 5x5x5 that many of the top 5x5x5 cubers use.

Me doing some 4x4x4 solves. I really messed up my edge pairing and got bad times.

Woohoo! Sub-20. It wasn't enough to get me past the qualification round, but I'm happy with it.

Still doing the 3x3x3 here, but it looks confusing since my shirt has a 3x3x3 on it.

Yeah, this solve (27.41) sucked.

In other events I competed in on Saturday, I got a 6.88 on 2x2x2, which was good enough to get me into the 2x2x2 Finals on Sunday. My Megaminx was 4:03, and 4:00 was the cut-off to do a mean of three. But it's still my Megaminx personal record, so that's good. In Pyraminx, I just did awful. I had some easy scenarios and just made stupid stupid mistakes. I also sucked a bit at 5x5x5. Hopefully once I get my V-Cube broken in and learn a few more advanced algorithms, my times will be better. But for this, I just wanted to set some PR so I have something to beat next time. In Master Magic, I did the Pochmann method twice and the the twist method twice to see which one got me better times, and then did the twist for the 5th solve. Definitely room for improvement on that puzzle. I also did regular Magic and 3x3x3 One-handed, but nothing special there.

Another thing I saw on Saturday was a beta version of "Rubik's World" for Nintendo DS. They lady handed me a DS that had a special development cartridge in it, but you could play one of the games. The game that was there had a cube on the bottom screen and a 3x3x3 pattern on the top screen. You had to manipulate the cube using the stylus to match the pattern on top. Now, most of the patterns consisted of moves that were combinations of R and L, but some of the patterns also required something like D2 R' L2. Reading the press releases for it, I thought that it might be another thing that simply uses the Rubik's name, but doesn't have anything really to do with the cube. But the game they had on there was actually quite fun. I really hope that have that on the Wii version when it comes out and have even more complex patterns to create. When I read the initial press releases, and it talked about games where you make music, and travel inside the cube, I figured I'd get the game at least from a collector's viewpoint, but after playing this, I'm actually quite excited about it.

Also on Saturday, I was the judge for the Fewest Moves Challenge. Basically, this consists of sitting in a room for 60 minutes watching people try to solve the cube in the fewest number of moves. But it was a nice break. I think I had an Orange Julius and some Pretzel bites while I watched. Beyond that, I did judging most of the time while I wasn't competing. By the end of the day, I was just toast, so Phil and I headed back to the hotel. I taught Phil how to solve the Magic, and he competed in that on Sunday. Other than that, ordered a pizza and watched some TV while practicing Square-1, 2x2x2, and Magics.

Sunday- My definition of "waking up early" and Phil's definition must differ greatly. Anyways, woke up a little early and walked around outside, but then went back and quietly cubed and watched some TV. I saw a report of the competition on one of the local morning shows. Anyways, once we were ready, Phil and I walked down, had breakfast at McDonald's. Since we were still early, we saw more of downtown Atlanta that I hadn't seen on Saturday morning. Went to the Underground and found the Ali brothers there. Warmed up for a while and then others showed up. Bob Burton was nowhere to be found, so I did my Square-1 first and then went and did Square-1 judging. I got a 38 on one my of Square-1 solves. Since my average is around 60, that's pretty good for me. Square-1 has really grown since last year, and a lot of Caltech people were doing it and getting great times. I wonder what method they use. Oh well, that's just another puzzle I need to learn a few more algorithms on.


1st place in the main events got a full set of V-Cubes

Cubes in jars for the top international competitors

I didn't judge the final 3x3x3 round since the finalists went one at a time and they had enough judges for that, so I got to watch the final. Rowe Hessler got a 9.13 second solve and the crowed went wild. The crowd seemed to have much higher expectations after a while, because if someone got a 16 second solve, only a few people would clap.

Anyways, they had the award ceremonies, and after that, we cleaned up. I saw that someone had thrown away their V-Cube boxes, and my V-Cube boxes were damaged in shipping, so I took those so I would have good boxes. Arnaud kept wondering why I wanted the boxes, and I tried to explain to him that my were damaged, that's why. But if I can have good boxes for my collection, I'll take then. Everyone went back to the official hotel before heading out to dinner. I believe we wandered around aimlessly. We were going to go to some American Cafe (I think that's the name), but we had some people under 21, so we decided to skip that. Instead, we went to a fancy Italian place called Azio's. They divided us up, but they had plenty of room. (They should've, it was Sunday at like 8:30 PM or so). Anyways, all the cubers were very well behaved. No one took out their timers and there wasn't the constant "click-click-click" to annoy the other patrons. After that, Phil and I headed back to the hotel. I got stuff ready to go since in the morning my flight was earlier.

Monday - Got up, showered, and left for the airport. Man, I cannot believe the line at Atlanta's airport. It starts out as one of those sparse lines, where you're tempted to ask, "Are you in line?" That lines leads to a roped area, where you wait in line and go back and forth, back and forth. When you get to the front of that line, you are directed to enter into one of many lines, and that line can go for a while until it finally leads you to a security checkpoint. Anyways, waited for the plane, it was overcrowded, so I volunteered to get bumped for 2 free roundtrip tickets, but that didn't work. Made it back to Minneapolis and took the lightrail over to the Mall of America and met my wife and kids there. Had some lunch there, did some other things in the cities and then we went back to Rochester.