Thursday, March 30

The sign of the four

In 1908, Matthew Burke was the head of one of twenty-two families living on the Conne River Mi'kmaq reservation in Newfoundland. Matthew's granddaughter, Margaret Burke Stewart, became the mother of sixteen children — the oldest (Catherine) ended up marrying my wife's now-deceased oldest brother (Larry). Catherine brought into that union two boys from her first marriage, Shawn and Jamie Beaupre.

Shawn (using his middle name) has been promoting himself as an aboriginal medium — Shawn Leonard. On Tuesday, Shawn teamed up with psychic/medium John Holland for a show in Moncton, New Brunswick, and they will do another tonight in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Yesterday, Holland did a Facebook interview with Shawn (click the "not now" in the pop-up sign-up if, like me, you don't do Facebook). It shows just how comfortable they are with each other in their overlapping, supportive roles.

Engineering coincidences into something that may be perceived to be meaningful is not of course everyone's cup of tea, least of all mine. This morning, Johnny Wills' Google+ photo-of-the-day theme was "four" and I quickly came up with an entry that I knew would be significantly different from the contributions of most other participants. Our brains exhibit a more-than-willing bent on assigning structure to the random bits and pieces in our lives!

Less than three hours after I posted the photo it was time for Bodie's morning walk. I have a habit of picking up any garbage that I encounter on the street so as to deposit it in a trash bin further along my route. A few houses away from my home I spotted (in light blue) just such a distraction lying in the middle of the road. Imagine my surprise as I approached to pick it up:

Tuesday, March 28

Rudolph Havermann genannt Draht

My great-great-grandfather Rudolph was born in 1800, likely in K├Ârbecke, and died in nearby Neheim in 1869. The use of genannt in my father's ancestors' names has always been bothersome to me and there are (German) explanations of its usage but I like to think that the Draht here is just an acknowledgement of Rudolph's mother's maiden name. I come to write about this man because of the mortality of his eight known-to-me children.

Rudolph's first marriage to Maria Christina Zentini (1811-1848) produced five offspring: Joseph (1837-1840), Heinrich (1839-1876), Friederich (1842-1842), Ferdinand (1843-1854), and Joseph (again, 1846-1864). Rudolph's second marriage to Maria Theresia Biermann (1813-1867) produced three more offspring: Anton (1850-1854), Heinrich Franz (1854-1854), and Maria Antonia (1858-1869). Wow, only one of these eight made it to age 18: my great-grandfather Heinrich — who died at age 36. Lucky man. Lucky me!

Monday, March 20

Fracture revisited

I noticed that the 2007 movie Fracture was on Netflix and so I thought I'd watch it again. I hadn't seen it since August 2009, a fact I was able to recover because I wrote a blog piece about a chess position in the film. I ended the item with a question about the six captured black pieces — which weren't visible in my movie-still grab. With the better-resolution Netflix version, I took it upon myself to retake a screen snippet of the board:


So the six captured black pieces were there all along, hidden in the poor contrast of my 2009 screen grab!

Tuesday, March 7

T cube


Designed by Yavuz Demirhan, realized by Brian Menold, this recently acquired puzzle more than tests my patience. The three identical pieces (two one-by-three bars attached to a one-by-five bar) fit — without any protuberances — within the (five-by-five-by-five) cubic cage. It arrived assembled and I was careful in taking it apart, but after I had reassembled it a second time it no longer came apart as I expected! And by the time I did get that disassembled I had forgotten how it was supposed to come together. Complicating things ever so slightly is that one of the frame's twenty-four inside edges is a touch less than three units long, presumably a production flaw and not part of the design. I'm getting too old for this type of toy.