A Belated Memory Of Martin Gardner

What follows is a belated memory of Martin Gardner.  I am grateful to him for his wonderful introductions to The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus and Queen Zixi of Ix by L.Frank Baum, the Night Before Christmas with all its wonderful imitators, his annotations of  The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and, especially, his many annotations for Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass.  I also enjoyed his work, The Ambidextrous Universe, which became the source of many discussions.

The only contact I had with him was when I sent him my topology and fractal interviews to look over. These interviews would become part of my book The Magicians of Form.  Martin was kind enough to give me encouragement, and to refer me to the head of the American Mathematical Association.  For all of the above and more, a belated thanks, Martin.

A Little Romance From The Saddle Club

A little romance from The Saddle Club occurs when the self- confident, arrogant Veronica di Angelo, played by Heli Simpson, meets Brian Mulcahy, “Scooter”, a waiter at JB’s cafe, and part- time assistant at Pine Hollow Stables, played by Alex Marriott.   Their relationship does not begin auspiciously;  the first time they meet, Veronica accuses him of stealing some items from Pine Hollow when he is innocent.  To Veronica the world is simple if you follow all the rules.  Immaturity for her is the lack of knowing and applying these rules.  The rules apply to relationships between males and females as well.  When her friend Kristi is distraught over her feelings for a boy, Veronica says, “It’s only hormones.  Get over it!”  Her advice about males:  “Men are like a jukebox.  You just have to know what buttons to push.”  However, the easy-going Irish lad doesn’t agree with Veronica’s assessment of the world and relationships.  He challenges her supposed security by saying, “I can see right through you, Veronica.”  The confused Veronica admits:  “You are a strange one, Scooter.”  Another time he asks her:  “What is it you really want, Veronica?”  He admits that he likes her, and says liking her is something automatic.  However, she considers herself above him, and says, “Scooter, I’m way out of your league.”  After Veronica has left,  a reflective Scooter replies, “Maybe.  Maybe not.”  When he invites Veronica to a party, she turns him down with an air of condescension: “Scooter, why don’t you join a library?”  Later at the party when Veronica sees Scooter without a date, she says:  “I guess you couldn’t find a date.”  He replies:  “One date, no.  I found two.  I took your advice.  They(his two dates) work at the library.”  Thus, Veronica learns that even though Scooter likes her, she cannot take him for granted.    Scooter sees the inherent goodness in Veronica while the others at Pine Hollow do not since to them she is conceited and overbearing.  Veronica’s concern for status and inheritance is deflated by Scooter:  ”  Isn’t it where are you now that’s important, and not where you’ve come from?   That’s why it’s called background.  It’s in the background.”  Although Scooter is not the poor boy he appears to be, he never discusses his own background until the end.  He wants Veronica to “take the time to smell the flowers”, and put money in its proper place, which is subordinate to the heart.  It is only after Veronica’s father loses his fortune that Veronica shows her desperate feelings to Scooter.  He again downplays the importance of money, and emphasizes the value of true friendship, causing her to say, “Thanks, Scooter.  You always make me feel better.”   When Scooter invites Veronica to a picnic by the water, Veronica finally lets her hair down literally.  After Veronica shows her true feelings and tells Scooter, “Kiss me, stupid!”  Scooter answers calmly, “I won’t kiss you, stupid, but I will kiss you.”  That kiss causes Veronica to realize what she really values after an intense debate with herself.  Scooter has already invited Veronica to see his family in Dublin, and there is little doubt that Veronica’s romantic relationship will continue to uncover new depths.  Veronica has learned another facet of maturity: the ability to perceive someone else’s sense of reality as well as her own.

Scooter’s knowledge of the internet and Veronica’s acuity and perseverance ultimately save Pine Hollow from financial ruin.  It is interesting to see how Veronica changes.  In the beginning, she does all she can to undermine The Saddle Club.  But, in the end, she becomes part of the Pine Hollow family, something she always desired, but could never admit to herself.

“Well, I let’em talk me into running for this office…

“Well, I let’em talk me into running for this office.  But, I’ll tell you truthfully, I’ve got about as much chance of winning as a paraffin dog chasing an asbestos cat through hell.”  These were the colorful words of George Mansfield, a well-known Southern Oregon attorney in the early 1920s.  Such expressions have long been a part of American history.  I offer the following examples:  1.  “I’d bet a toothpick to a match.”;  2. That’s none of my never mind.”;  3.  “Not on your tintype(tintype was replaced by other words).” ; 4.  He’s a butter and eggs man(meaning someone prosperous, because butter and eggs were quite expensive at the turn of the nineteenth century).”;  5.  “Excuse me for using the wide bow(for being blunt or too direct).”

Some Reflections On Life

Today I engaged in some reflections on life.  I realize at birth we are given a certain bundle of energy and a finite time interval.  The extent that we get fulfillment in life depends on how we nurture, and cultivate this energy and how wisely we use the time allotted to us.  Anything that increases our energy or strengthens it is to the good.  Anything that drains our energy or seeks to reduce it is something we need to avoid.  Energy, of course, comes in different forms:  mental, and physical.  When we utilize our physical and mental energy in a positive manner, or when we refine it and use it in a way to better ourselves, this is a road to fulfillment.  The time interval each of us is given varies tremendously, but most of us can do something with the time we do have.

A Little Russian Humor

The following two samples of a little Russian humor come from the September 2011 issue of Laughter All-Around:  

“Lucy, look over there!  A star is falling!  Better make a wish!”

“I wish that you would marry me!”

“Oh, look!  The star just flew back again!”

“Young lady, please let me help you!”

“Thank you, but the bag isn’t that heavy.”

“I’m not talking about the bag.  I am a plastic surgeon.”