blind_html Fwd: I know you know

  • From: Nimer Jaber <nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 27 Apr 2009 09:54:58 -0600



-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        I know you know
Date:   Mon, 27 Apr 2009 08:46:19 -0700
From:   Edwin Cooney <edwincooney@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To:     <edwincooney@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>



Hi All,
I know you know all that's below, but hopefully there's a bit of perspective here that helps you as you seek to unscramble the various problems and puzzles in your life. Come to think of it as I write this, life is something of a Rubik's Cube isn't it! Anyway, I'm grateful that you're all readers of these weekly musings. Your thoughts are always welcome too you know!
Warm Regards,
E.C.

MONDAY, APRIL 27^TH , 2009

I GOTTA PROBLEM—YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY!

BY EDWIN COONEY

“Why,” a cab driver once asked the late great Illinois governor, U.N. Ambassador and two time Presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson, “did you run for President in the first place?”

“Why not?” replied the normally erudite Stevenson.

“Well!” said the cab driver in an Irish brogue, “if you run and you’re elected, then you’ve got nothin’ to look forward to!”

That’s the way it is with some things. Sometimes we deliberately create our own problems, but often those problems are worthwhile. Adlai E. Stevenson was elected Vice President of the United States for Grover Cleveland’s second term. He served from 1893 to 1897 but wasn’t compelled to seek political office. Later, his grandson, also named Adlai Stevenson, most likely inherited his political ambition from his grandfather. He had plenty of money, a lucrative Chicago law practice, and a well-to-do (if chronically unhappy) wife who divorced him for getting into politics ala Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan at about the same time. The same was true of Nelson Rockefeller, Averill Harriman and others. Their self-created problem was political ambition and the solving of domestic and international crises.

Mine is much different, but it is still a problem which I’ve had now for almost a quarter of a century. It isn’t a big problem and it’s almost never painful — although occasionally it comes pretty close. It’s a very mobile problem. I carry it with me even on vacation. I’ll go so far as to say that I carry my problem with me especially on vacation trips.

I’ve never been much for puzzles, crossword or otherwise, but I did solve that plastic peg game “High IQ” when I was twelve or thirteen years old. Then, in adulthood, someone gave me a puzzle that was like “High IQ” but instead of having the two X and Y axes, this one was made up of a triangle on wood using steel pegs. Like “High IQ”, the object was to leave just one peg in the center of the configuration—and I conquered that also. Hence, when the Rubik’s cube was created, I was ready for the new challewnge and I’m still hooked.

I’ve owned my Rubik’s Cube since the Christmas of 1983 or 1984 — you’d think I could be more definite, but it’s part of my personal denial tendency. My cube is of course designed for a blind person, so instead of colors it has lines, squares, circles, buttons, arrows and stars. The object is to twist the cube in a series of motions enabling you to match all of the surfaces according to their designs: lines with lines, stars with stars, arrows with arrows, and so on. I can get about two thirds of it but, as I’ve already described it, this isn’t horseshoes. Almost doesn’t count.

One of the smartest and most honest men I know finally surrendered to looking up the solution. He has solved my Rubik’s cube twice. He offered to show me, but I just couldn’t let him. I have gone so far as to make inquiries of others as to the exact nature of the puzzle and everyone generally agrees that it’s either a geometry or an algorithm problem. Wow! If that’s what it is, then that explains it -- but it doesn’t solve it and solve it is what I insist on doing. The idea that it’s a geometry problem doesn’t help much. In fact, it’s a little intimidating, since I only experienced rudimentary geometry in high school—triangles, cubes, circles etc. etc. As for algorithms, my mind doesn’t even begin to grasp what they are.

The point of all this is that one of the best strategies for problem solving is the creation of another problem. I’m told it is how medical science conquers disease. It’s even possible that it’s the strategy President Obama will employ, even if subconsciously, as he tackles the complex challenges over the remaining 1,361 plus days of his administration.

It appears that most solutions, no matter how well intended, inevitably create new problems. Our political system depends upon it. A problem free society would be a society minus the need for politicians or indeed leadership of any kind. ”Perish the very thought!” Is that what I hear you shouting?

That isn’t, in any way, to trivialize those problems we refuse to face at our deadly peril. Still, as we realize that problem solving unintentionally results in the creation of new problems despite our best intentions, we can perhaps be a little less contentious with one another as we work together to make the world safer.

Yes, indeed! My Rubik’s cube is a problem. Its very existence is an antidote to boredom on long trips or perhaps when doing laundry. Just because it doesn’t endanger my health or well being (some, but not much, that is) or the health or well being of others, doesn’t lessen its formidability. Pleasant as it is, its solution could bring back that old bug-a-boo: boredom. On the other hand, its very existence solved a problem I was facing, specifically: What should I write about this week?

If you’re looking for another example of how problems both solve and create problems, talk to me next week.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED,

EDWIN COONEY

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