Café Discovery

The time has almost come.  By next week it will have passed.

While I should be performing other tasks and thinking about other things, my mind keeps wandering back to the fact that I was born 60 years ago on Thursday.  The number addict in me observes that 60 = 22 * 3 * 5 is a special number.  But we all knew that, didn’t we?

Sixty minutes in an hour, so a minute is minute (small).  And a second is called a second because it is 1/602 part of an hour…second power.  Magic number…as is 360 (=  23 * 32 * 5) …perhaps because it can be divided so well into equal pieces in so many ways.  Anyway, the Sumerians thought a sexagesimal system was cool…and that gave us our timekeeping strategy and the way we measure angles.  Who knew…until much later, that 60 was also the number of elements in the smallest non-abelian simple group?

One could go back further than the Sumerians and discover that the Chinese use a calendar with a cycle of sixty years…the Jia-Zi system.  

each year within the 60-year cycle being named with two symbols, the first being base-10 (called Tian-Gan, ??  or heavenly stems) and the second symbol being base 12 (called Di-Zhi, ??  or earthly branches).

60 is the least common multiple of 12 and 10, of course.

Magic numbers are scarce, until you actively look for them.  Then you discover that all integers are magic.  

    Proof: Let x be the smallest non-magic positive number. If x exists, x would be special…and so x would be magic from some perspective or other. If no such x exists, then all postive integers are magic by induction.

Sort of.  Not a real proof, of course.  The term “magic number” has not been defined here…as I purposely intended.

But I digress…

So what does a person do when the age of 60 is reached?  What will I do on Thursday?  I know the answer to that:  I will work, as usual.  Maybe for celebration purposes I can skip the union meeting.  All they manage to do is make me wonder if I have ulcers yet….and if not, why not?

As a gift, we are going to get a couple of new chairs to put in front of our computers.  Maybe that will improve the condition of my back.  I’ve been using a chair specially designed for manicurists to use, a gift from a transwoman I helped transition by giving a place to live for free.  It’s probably ideal for manicuring.  It’s probably not so good for typing on a keypad.

I’ve found that I have been engaging in a lot of reflection.  Well, I always do that, but maybe I’m doing more than usual.  I’m thinking about the years.  And my place in them.  And I’m asking myself, in my way, “Come up the years.  And love me.”

1948 was a mixed year:  Early in the year Arab militants lay siege to the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.  Burma gained its independence from England.  Gandhi was murdered.  On April 1, the idea of the Big Bang Theory was introduced.  On April 3, Harry Truman signed the Marshall Plan into law, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony appeared on television for the first time, and I was born.

In 1960, I was migrating from Forest Hills Elementary School to Lake Oswego Junior High School.  On January 1 of that year I was discovered wearing one of my mother’s dresses…an episode which looms big in my memory of then.

In 1972 I was in the military, stationed at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth.  I was promoted to Spec 4 and transferred to the Prisoner Pay Section of the Finance Department that year.

In 1984 I moved from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee to the University of Central Arkansas.  My parents had died in the preceding couple of years, my spouse hated Milwaukee, and I was in a state of pliability, so we moved to Conway, Arkansas.  Everything that happens does so for a reason, I am told.

In 1996 I returned to Conway after after taking a semester off to try to relocate…and failing to find employment in the Seattle area.  So I decided to make the best of it and increased my activism…maybe ten-fold.

And 2008 has arrived and we are here.

Chapter 76

Living people are soft and tender.

Corpses are hard and stiff.

The ten thousand things,

the living grass, the trees,

are soft, pliant.

Dead, they’re dry and brittle.

So hardness and stiffness

go with death;

tenderness, softness,

go with life.

And the hard sword fails,

the stiff tree’s felled.

the hard and great go under.

The soft and weak stay up.

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, English version by Ursula K. LeGuin

Then again, there is this:

Chapter 52

The world had a beginning

which we call the Great Mother.

Once we have found the Mother,

we begin to know what Her children should be.

When we know we are the Mother’s child,

we begin to guard the qualities of the Mother in us.

She will protect us from all danger

even if we lose our life.

Keep your mouth closed

and embrace a simple life,

and you will live carefree until the end of your days.

If you try to talk your way into a better life

there will be no end to your trouble.

To understand the small is called clarity.

Knowing how to yield is called strength.

To use your inner light for understanding

regardless of the danger

is called depending on the Constant.

–Tao Te Ching, translated by J. H. McDonald

Integration sometimes requires more than calculus.


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    • Robyn on March 30, 2008 at 19:05

    …in George Rogers Park, Lake Oswego, OR.

    Until the mid-1800s, Lake Oswego was a sleepy assembly of homesteads and farms between the Willamette and Tualatin Rivers in Oregon. A small population of Native Americans–the Clackamas Indians–had occupied the land, but diseases brought by early explorers killed all but a few. Those who remained ceded their territory to the Federal Government in 1855, and moved to the Grand Ronde Reservation in nearby Yamhill County.

    The town of “Oswego” was founded in 1847 by Albert Alonzo Durham. He secured the first Donation Land Claim, for Lake Oswego Real Estate and named the town after his birthplace in New York. He built the town’s first industry–a sawmill on Sucker Creek (now Oswego Creek).

    In 1841, iron ore was discovered in the Tualatin Valley, but it was not until 1861 that its existence was an accepted fact. In 1865, the Oregon Iron Company was incorporated. It was the first of three companies that hoped to make Oswego an industrial center, or the “Pittsburg of the West.”

  1. … at Cafe Discovery.  Yeah, it’s afternoon, but time means nothing to me!

    I was born on December 1, 1954, when the decision in Brown v. Board of education ended segregation.  It’s been a wild ride since then.

    I hope you have a wonderful birthday celebration.  I am very glad you were born and that I have received the great gift of encountering you.

    • kj on March 30, 2008 at 19:52

    –Tao Te Ching, translated by J. H. McDonald

    i do not have that translation.  that was heartrending.

    long story, i don’t know how old i was… in my late 30’s, probably.  my mother died when i was 16, she and i were very close, her death was a disaster. so, there i was walking into a Sears and there were people everywhere, all dressed up… and it dawned on me that it was Mother’s Day and these families were taking their Moms to Sears, which sort of amused me in a “Looks like Mom’s getting a new dishwasher” sort of way.  Then I thought about my mother and realized that she had loved me beyond all measure. I almost lost it, right there, in public. Apparently, I’d never let myself have a thought like that before.

    When we know we are the Mothers child,

    we begin to guard the qualities of the Mother in us.

    • kj on March 30, 2008 at 19:55

    Integration sometimes requires more than calculus.

    does it have to require calculus at all?  =:-0


    calculus phobic  

    • Robyn on March 30, 2008 at 20:06

    …but they keep changing to question marks.

    • Alma on March 30, 2008 at 23:56

    Looking forward to it.  🙂

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