Cube Psychology

A favourite pastime during tea at work is to secretly psychoanalyse everyone with my next-door office neighbour. She has a small puzzle on her desk, with wooden pieces that need to be arranged to form a cube. This little cube has made our task much more interesting.

The pieces look similar to tetris blocks, but in 3D. It’s fascinating to observe everyone’s reactions to the puzzle, and being a department full of scientists, everyone has a reaction. It is difficult to walk into her office and not pick up a piece of the puzzle and play around with it, or break up the existing cube and try to re-make it. Or to build random structures, like some sort of avant garde art. And there’s more than one way to arrange the blocks into a cube, the best way being with alternating colours.


Psychoanalysis tool of the modern geologist

There are those who cannot concentrate on their actual jobs until they’ve figured it out, (easily distracted, serial procrastinators, perseverance, curious minds?). An engineer from another department took it home one night to complete it (maybe previous category, maybe stage-fright). Another took a look at it and went to a downstairs colleague’s office to work on a Rubik’s cube instead (too clever for us, huh?).

The most interesting people are those who watch others playing around with it but hold themselves back from trying. Possible theories: 1. fear of failure, 2. not believing in themselves, 3. not wanting to seem more stupid than others if they didn’t get it right the first time, 4. wanting to act like grown ups and not like the rest of us.

Then we also get the tower building types (there’s no point trying so I’d rather just stack them up and admire my art), the cube breakers (is it home time yet?) and those who can only build it when they’re stressed out about other stuff (work well under pressure).


Time travel

I wish I could go back in time, to different eras and places, for experiences that I wish I could have now. I’m one of those dreaded ‘Golden Age Syndrome’ sufferers that you should be familiar with if you have watched Midnight in Paris. Although since officially diagnosing myself when the film came out, I try my best to seek out the same feelings in my contemporary environment, without too much luck. However, if I could really get into a mysterious car on a lonely street in Jozi at midnight (handbag tightly tucked under arm), I would wish for the following, although not confined to Johannesburg:

  • Being one of the front row ladies lucky enough to get a kiss from Elvis while he sang Love Me Tender.
  • Having Charles Darwin discuss his thoughts and ideas with me while on Galapagos Islands.
  • Dancing with Gene Kelly to Love is Here to Stay by Gershwin at the riverside as in An American in Paris. Also joining him in that glorious Singing in the Rain scene.
  • Taking my sister along to the premiere of Haydn’s ‘Surprise’ Symphony so we could both laugh together hysterically after that frightening fortissimo chord.
  • Checking out some dinosaurs, of course. And giant ammonites (did they actually move?).
  • Jazz nights in Sophiatown! Especially the illegal ones.
  • Having tea with Dorothy Parker and her giving me some outrageous writing (and life) tips.
  • Interviewing Marie Curie on what it feels like to kick male scientist butt and be the first person to be awarded Nobel Prizes in both physics and chemistry.
  • Painting rocks with the Khoisan.
  • Hearing Krishna play the flute and dancing to his blissful music with the gopis.
  • Watching Beethoven conduct his shocking and horrific 5th symphony.
  • Seeing how the Pyramids really were built.
  • Going to a party in Europe when Viennese waltzes were the pop music of the time. I totally understand why Andre Rieu does what he does.
  • Meeting Arthur Conan Doyle and telling him he is the most awesome person I ever met and I want to be him when I grow up.
  • Screaming and fainting at a Beatles concert (then waking up in time to run after and touch their car while pulling other girls off by their hair).

Sigh. If only.