Daily Update: Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Lawrence and Perseid Meteor Shower

Today is the Feast of Saint Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr (died 258). The Perseid Meteor Shower continues (weather and moonlight permitting), 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”. Today is also the birthday of Richard’s friend Steve in Baton Rouge (1956).

Last night I continued reading The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Strout, and Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb.

I woke up at 9:30 am and posted to Facebook that the Perseid Meteor Shower continues. I did my Book Devotional Reading, put out my New Orleans Saints Flag, and read the Thursday papers. I then did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Fifth Day of my Assumption Novena.

Richard and I left the house at 12:45 pm; we got gas for the truck at Valero, ate Chinese for lunch at Peking, and at Wal-Mart Richard got my salad supplies, groceries, and household items. We arrived back home at 2:00 pm, and I watched MST3K Episode 408 Hercules Unchained (Ercole e la regina di Lidia), the second (and last) Hercules movie for bodybuilder Steve Reeves (died 2000);Hercules is supposed to mediate a quarrel between two brothers vying for a city, but gets sidetracked by drinking the water of forgetfulness and becomes shanghaied by Queen Omphale (played by French actress Sylvia Lopez, whose career ended prematurely when in 1958, soon after finishing this film, she died at the age of twenty-eight of leukaemia). (Quite coincidentally, Steve Reeves turned out to be the maintenance man du jour down with Dr. Forester and TV’s Frank.) Richard went to bed, and I ironed my casino pants, apron, and shirts, and made my lunch salads for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. And I will do some reading before going to bed, and if I am still awake at 7:00 pm I will go out to the front room and watch some of the preseason NFL game of our New Orleans Saints playing an away game with the Cleveland Browns.

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. 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). Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week; on my breaks I will start re-reading We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson for my Third Tuesday Book Club. After lunch, I will decide if I am going to the Annual Mass of Petition for Charlene Richard down in Richard; this year the Bishop of Lafayette is going to be officiating, so it will be even more crowded than usual.

Our Parting Quote this Thursday afternoon 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 Leonard’s 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 thirty-seven, 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 twenty-six mathematical papers, her best-known contribution being a paper about 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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