Daily Update: Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Lawrence and Games of the XXXI Olympiad - Rio, Brazil

Today is the Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (died 258). The Perseid Meteor Shower continues (weather and moonlight permitting), and the Games of the XXXI Olympiad continue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And today is also the birthday of Richard’s friend Steve in Baton Rouge (1956).

Born in Huesca, Spain, when Sixtus II became Bishop of Rome in 257 Lawrence was ordained a deacon and was placed in charge of the administration of Church goods and care for the poor. On August 6th, 258, by decree of Emperor Valerian, Pope Sixtus II and six of his seven deacons were beheaded, leaving Lawrence as the ranking Church official in Rome. Before his execution, Sixtus assured Lawrence that he was not being left behind; they would be reunited in four days. Lawrence saw this time as an opportunity to disperse the material wealth of the church before the Roman authorities could lay their hands on it, and he began selling off the Church’s gold and silver sacred objects and giving the money to the poor. On August 10th Lawrence was commanded to appear for his execution, and to bring along the treasure with which he had been entrusted by the pope. When he arrived, the archdeacon was accompanied by a multitude of Rome’s crippled, blind, sick, and indigent, and announced that these were the true treasures of the Church. For what the Roman authorities regarded as his impudence, he was martyred on a gridiron; tradition holds that at one point, he told his executioners, “You may turn me over now, I’m done on this side.”  Saint Lawrence is the Patron Saint of archivists, cooks, comedians, and of poor people, of the city of Rome, Italy, and of the countries of Sri Lanka and Canada; his aid is invoked against fire. The Perseid Meteor Shower continues (best time for viewing is in the pre-dawn hours, cloud cover and moonlight permitting), and is also known as “the tears of Saint Lawrence”. The Games of the XXXI Olympiad continue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Today features competetion in Archery, Basketball, Boxing, Equestrian, Field Hockey, Football, Handball, Rugby Sevens, Sailing, Tennis, Volleyball (Beach), Volleyball (Indoor), Water Polo, and Weightlifting. Today is also the birthday of Richard’s friend Steve in Baton Rouge (1956).

I woke up in my room at the Bourbon Orleans in New Orleans at 7:00 am. I ate breakfast at Stanley, a restaurant on the northeast corner of Jackson Square, and read the New Orleans Advocate. I then called the person I could not get in touch with yesterday about our lab bill from September 1st, 2015, and found out that she is with a different company, and that I will need to call my psychiatrist’s office to get the correct number. I went to St. Louis Cathedral and lit a candle, then returned to the hotel. I called Richard to report about my phone calls, and told him I would call my psychiatrist’s office when I got a chance. I then read the USA Today in the hotel lobby; Julie called at 9:45 am to report that she and Gus were in East New Orleans.

Julie arrived at the hotel at 10:15 am; I did not meet Gus, as he had to head back to Slidell. We went up to the room and listened to music. I got a text message from Nedra that she had come through her back surgery safely (it was a five hour procedure). Julie and I then walked to Beckham’s’ Books and purchased some books (both of us). We went back to the room to deposit our books, then went to Oceana Grill on Conti for lunch; we split an appetizer of barbequed shrimp, and although the sauce was much darker than my recipe, they were to die for. The First Quarter Moon arrived at 1:24 pm. We went back to the room to recover a bit from the heat, then went over to the French Market. Julie was in search of a wooden Weeping Buddha statue, but we could not find one (although she did find a woman running one of the tables, who took her contact information down, in case she found one). However, we did find a table of a man selling his sketches of New Orleans and Louisiana themes. I saw a set of note cards that included a sketch of the Grieving Angel from the Chapman Hyams mausoleum in Metairie Cemetery, and asked him if he had any prints just of the angel. He did, and Julie and I purchased two of them (one for each of us). We then returned to the room, quite worn out from walking and the heat. About ten years ago I had gotten a piece of stained glass from a broken window in the Chapman Hyams mausoleum, which I had brought with me on this trip. I broke it in half, and ended up with four pieces (two large pieces, and two tiny pyramid-shaped pieces). I gave Julie the larger of the two large pieces, and she suggest that we could cut out part of the matte on the prints we had gotten and glue our individual pieces on the prints, which I thought was a dandy idea. I kept the two tiny pieces; I plan to take them to my jewelry and have him set them into a gold setting for fishhook earrings.

About this time, Julie’s son Jonny accidentally rear-end dialed her phone; he had been in Iraq or Afghanistan, boots on the ground, and suffers from PTSD. He was having a panic attack, and Julie was very worried. I told Julie that since we had nothing planned at all for the late afternoon and evening that we could run over to Slidell to check on him. So we had them fetch the car from the parking garage, and headed to Slidell. It was good for me to see Jonny again (and he was very happy to see me again), and I got to meet Julie’s husband Gus. We visited for a bit, then headed back to the hotel. We called Room Service and got them to bring us a piece of chocolate doberge cake, which we split; then we went to bed, and I did not do my Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Clare, Virgin (died 1253), and I personally honor Charlene Richard, our unofficial Cajun Saint (died 1959). The Perseid Meteor Shower continues. The Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, continue. Tomorrow has competition in Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Equestrian, Field Hockey, Golf, Handball, Sailing, Tennis, Volleyball (Beach), Volleyball (Indoor), and Water Polo, with Gold Medal Competition in Archery, Canoeing (Slalom), Cycling (Track), Fencing, Gymnastics (Artistic), Judo, Rowing, Rugby Sevens, Shooting, Swimming, and Table Tennis. And tomorrow is the birthday of my very good friend CJ in Nevada (1957) and of Murphy, one of Richard’s grand-nephews here in town, the grandson of his brother Slug (1995). Julie and I will be hanging out in New Orleans, and at some point I will head home; when I get home I will do my Daily Update for Wednesday, August 10th, 2016. And our New Orleans Saints will be playing their first preseason game at the New England Patriots.

Our Parting Quote this Wednesday evening comes to us from Dame Kathleen Mary Ollerenshaw, British mathematician and politician. Born as Kathleen Mary Timpson in 1912 in Withington, Manchester, she attended Lady Barn House School (1918-1926). Deaf since the age of eight, her fascination with mathematics was inspired by her Lady Barn headmistress, Miss Jenkin Jones. It was during her time at Lady Barn that she met her future husband, Robert Ollerenshaw. Today, Lady Barn recognises her as a ‘Lady Barn legend’ and she is featured in a major historical display in the school Dining Room. As a young woman she attended St Leonards School and Sixth Form College in St Andrews, Scotland where today the house of young male boarders is named after her. At the age of 19 she gained admittance to Somerville College, Oxford, to study mathematics; they did not realize she was deaf, because her lip-reading skills were excellent. She completed her doctorate at Somerville in 1945 on “Critical Lattices” under the supervision of Theo Chaundy. She wrote five original research papers which were sufficient for her to earn her DPhil degree without the need of a formal written thesis. While an undergraduate she became engaged to Ollerenshaw, who became a distinguished military surgeon and a pioneer of medical illustration. They married in September 1939 and had two children. In 1942 she suffered a miscarriage and “cried nonstop for three days” as a result of stress when her husband was suddenly mobilised and deployed for war. After the Second World War the Ollerenhaws moved to Manchester, where she worked as a part-time lecturer in the mathematics department at Manchester University while raising her children and continuing her work on lattices. In 1949, at the age of 37, she received her first effective hearing aid. In the political arena, Ollerenshaw served as a Conservative Councillor for Rusholme for twenty-six years (1956–1981), Lord Mayor of Manchester (1975–1976), High Sheriff of Greater Manchester from 1978 to 1979, and the prime motivator in the creation of the Royal Northern College of Music. In 1970 Ollerenshaw was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to education. She was made a Freeman of the City of Manchester and was an advisor on educational matters to Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s. She was President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications from 1978 to 1979. She published at least 26 mathematical papers, her best-known contribution being to most-perfect pandiagonal magic squares. Ollerenshaw had an Erdős number of 5 by way of Hermann Bondi, Ivor Robinson, Peter Bergmann and Ernst G. Straus. She published one of the first solutions to the Rubik’s cube in the IMA Bulletin (now the journal Mathematics Today). The Rubik’s cube story illustrates her relentless perseverance on any problem she faced; she damaged the tendons in her left thumb so badly with repeated turning of the cube that she required surgery. An annual public lecture at the School of Mathematics, University of Manchester, is named in her honor. An amateur astronomer, Ollerenshaw donated her telescope to Lancaster University, and an observatory there bears her name. She was an honorary member of the Manchester Astronomical Society and held the post of Vice President for a number of years. She served as the president of her former school, St Leonards School and Sixth Form College, 1981 to 2003. Composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies dedicated his Naxos Quartet No. 9 (2007) to her (died 2014): “Every true mathematician sees mathematics everywhere—in a child’s swing or a pendulum, in the outline shape of a tree and that of its leaves, in the clouds.”

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