# Monthly Archives: September 2020

## More Multiplying

At the beginning of the month I posted about a neat Japanese visual method for multiplying smallish numbers. Besides its sheer visual attractiveness, it’s interesting in allowing one to multiply numbers without reference to multiplication tables (which, let’s face it, typically require rote memorization).

As I mentioned last time, my interest in multiplication is linked to my interest in generating Mandelbrot plots, which is a multiplication-intensive process. But for those learning math, digging into basic multiplication has some instructive value.

With that in mind, here are some other multiplication tricks.

## Agatha Christie

Shakespeare talked about the ages of man, and it’s well known that age seems to revert us to our youth. The last handful of years that’s been true for me with regard to mystery authors. For the first time in many decades I’m reading (or rather re-reading) Dorothy L. Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey), Rex Stout (Nero Wolfe), and others from my past.

This month I’ve been enjoying Agatha Christie and her Hercule Poirot novels. I got into them after finishing a collection of 51 short stories starring her famous Belgian detective (with his “egg-shaped head” and giant mustaches). Reading those put me in the mood to revisit the novels.

And I must say I’ve been thoroughly enjoying them!

## Sci-Fi September

The post’s title is something of a misnomer (as there has been little, if any, science fiction for me this month), but I have an absolute and abiding affection for alliteration. (Which explains Sci-Fi Saturday, Mystery Monday, TV Tuesday, and Wednesday Wow.) I couldn’t resist the title once it popped into my mind.

Seriously, about the only SF in September was opening and shelving a box of books. But since October will be so political, I want to clear some notes. Call it a Fall Clearance — Low, Low Prices!Everything Must Go!

Some rake their lawn of fallen leaves. For me, it’s that pile of notes that I seem unable to ever fully vanquish.

## Got the Shot

Sort of. It’s not quite the shot I’d hoped for, but it’s close-ish:

There actually is a cloud bank on the eastern horizon, so the Sun wasn’t too visible as it rose, but once it got a bit above the horizon, it was. And, a day later, it’s moved a bit south, too.

## Best Laid Plans

One of my favorite lines of poetry comes from the great Robert Burns poem, “To A Mouse, On Turning Her Up In Her Nest With The Plough” (not to be confused with his similarly titled “To A Louse (On Seeing One On A Lady’s Bonnet, At Church)”).

The line in question is, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men; Gang aft agley,” (go often astray), and — as you see — it applied to my plan to capture the last sunrise of summer this morning.

## Monday Miscellany #4

Ralph Emerson famously said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” but I also like what Wilde Oscar said: “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.” The last two words in both sentences signify something important. Consistency is the enemy of creativity, art, and philosophy, although it’s generally welcomed in other places (one’s airline pilot, surgeon, or government, for instance).

Which is all by way of excusing the dreadful consistency of this so-called Monday Miscellany series. Episodes in 2012, 2014, and then not again until 2020, is barely a series. Another one so soon is definitely suspect.

Chalk it up to “creativity, art, and philosophy.”

## Perfect Albums

These days, with digital music so easily streamed, albums seem not as central to music as they once were. Artists still make them; it’s even possible to buy vinyl versions of some new albums (there are those who still see vinyl as better than digital), but the industry no longer revolves around the idea.

In any event, a conversation topic I’ve enjoyed starting is the question of one’s perfect albums. Which is not to say one’s favorite albums — the two are not necessarily the same. A perfect album is one where you love — love, not just like — every single tune.

Lists differ, of course. The fun is seeing what people have in common.

## Slowly Slipping Zodiac

As someone with almost literally a life-long love of astronomy (my first word was “star”), I’ve always been vaguely intrigued by astrology. I’m fascinated by that which endures through many ages and cultures of humanity. At the very least, such things reflect an aspect of human consciousness. They’re also a shared idea, so they form community in the like-minded.

Is there magic in the stars? No, not in the astrological sense. Any “magic” is in us, in our consciousness, not in the stars. (Worldwide, on average, almost 12 million babies are born each month. That an astrological sign applies to them all is a bit of a stretch.)

And the thing is, most of us aren’t the sign we think we are!

## The Last Book Box

Originally 95 cents each!

In a post six years ago I mentioned that I’d finally gotten around to unpacking a box of books that had been sitting in a closet since I moved into the place. The problem I always have when I move (aside from all the book packing) is shelf space. I prefer the kind of shelves mounted on the wall, so I have to recreate shelf space every time.

Not that my memory for what I mentioned in a post six years ago is sharp. Or even exists. I noticed the post had some views recently, so I re-read it. The line caught my eye because last week I opened the last unopened box of books.

And I found some old science fiction friends!