Monday, October 31, 2005

An Old Card Trick, Explained:

I must have seen this trick a couple of dozen times as a kid and I never found it even slightly impressive. It just seemed like there was a bit of sorting or memorization at play and I never felt the urge to figure out how it worked. The trick: Fan out 21 cards for your mark and have him pick a card—often he will pick up the card and show it to a group while the magician is blindfolded. The magician then deals out the cards face-up into three piles and had the mark point to the pile containing the chosen card. The pile chosen is placed between the other two piles and then the cards are dealt into three piles again, etc. The cards are dealt 3 times and each time the pile chosen is placed into the middle. The whole reason for this post is that I came upon this trick by accident while looking for other information on the web. The trick was not explained on the site except that it was described as above and posited that the chosen card would be the 10th one in the pile. For some reason, I decided to work out exactly how the trick works. I did this and found that it is not the 10th card, but rather the 11th which will be the chosen card! What is odd is that on the website, there were a few comments which purported to show mathematically that it is the 10th card. Maybe these folks are all in on the real joke, which is to make sport of some novice magician. Who knows? Maybe they are just idiots. The Explanation: We shall number the cards when they are all stacked up as 1-21, with 1 on top and 21 being the bottom card. After the first deal and pick, the chosen card will be 8-14 (the 7 middle cards). When the cards are dealt again, the stacks will have 2, 2, or 3 cards each before the middle stack cards are put on top. So the middle cards will end up in positions 3, 4, or 5 in the three new stacks. When the cards are all re-stacked with the chosen pile in the middle the chosen card will be in positions 10, 11, or 12. When the cards are dealt for the last time, the first nine cards will form three stacks of three each, the chosen card will be the 4th card in whichever pile contains it. When I practiced the trick on my wife and kids, I just chose the 4th card from the pile they selected. If you were to stack the cards, it would be the 11th card since 7+4=11. I thought about this trick and I think it would also work for up to 27 cards rather than the 21 used here, but I haven’t tried this # yet, but the chosen card would be card # 14 by my calculations.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Mind of a 3 Year Old

How does the mind of a 3 year old work? Last night we had dinner ‘in family’ which we do at least a couple of nights per week and increasingly more often as the kids get older. Vaishali prepared B. coli (my term of art for that foul weed), spaghetti with sauce and a variety of meats. She baked sweet Italian, hot Italian and turkey sausage as well as some turkey cutlet. When dishing-out the dinner, all the girls were required to have spaghetti and B. coli but could have the meat of their choice—most common being the sweet Italian sausage. Jemma was the last to be served meat. “What kind of sausage would you like,” asked the attentive mother? “I want the dessert sausage,” Jemma replied. The carebear clock ticked a couple of seconds, and I realized first what the 3 year old meant: “She means the sweet Italian sausage Waish,” I informed my wife. The little girl figured that if it is called “sweet”, then it must actually be sweet and since desserts are always sweet it is therefore a dessert sausage. Well, why not? We explained to her that it is only called “sweet” because it is not spicy like the “hot” sausage—which is still spicy even when eaten cold. dbp

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Biased or incompetent?

The bible says, “…seek and thou shall find.” I have little doubt that this saying is true, in that to find something you first must be looking for it. It does not necessarily hold however that one will find every thing sought-after. Perhaps this little gem of obviousness should be conveyed to the Washington Post: In a story from yesterday by Dana Milbank and Walter Pincus Washington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, October 25, 2005; A03
Wilson's central assertion -- disputing President Bush's 2003 State of the Union claim that Iraq was seeking nuclear material in Niger -- has been validated by postwar weapons inspections.
It is hard to imagine how postwar inspections can show that Iraq had not sought uranium from Niger, only that Iraq apparently did not acquire any. A further minor gripe: President Bush said in his famous 12 words that Iraq sought uranium from Africa. For sure, Niger does reside in Africa, but there are lots of other countries in Africa and Mr. Wilson only visited Niger. It thus seems that even if he ruled out the possibility of Iraq looking at Niger as a source of yellowcake, he has hardly proven anything about the veracity of Mr. Bush. Update: Sigh, the media will never get this story right. Here is commentary from April 26 2007 Opinion Journal
The Associated Press casually slips a falsehood into a story about congressional efforts to investigate the administration: By 21-10, the House oversight committee voted to issue a subpoena to Rice to compel her story on the Bush administration's claim, now discredited, that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa. The New York Times, in a story posted on its Web site yesterday, similarly referred to the claim as "discredited," but this reference later was edited out. Reuters refers to the "administration's warnings, later proven false, that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger for nuclear arms." In fact, the claim has not been disproved or discredited at all, as the nonpartisan explained in 2004: After nearly a six-month investigation, a special panel reported to the British Parliament July 14 that British intelligence had indeed concluded back in 2002 that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy uranium. The review panel was headed by Lord Butler of Brockwell, who had been a cabinet secretary under five different Prime Ministers and who is currently master of University College, Oxford. The Butler report said British intelligence had "credible" information--from several sources--that a 1999 visit by Iraqi officials to Niger was for the purpose of buying uranium: Butler Report: It is accepted by all parties that Iraqi officials visited Niger in 1999. The British Government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium. Since uranium constitutes almost three-quarters of Niger's exports, the intelligence was credible. The Butler Report affirmed what the British government had said about the Niger uranium story back in 2003, and specifically endorsed what [President] Bush said [in that year's State of the Union Address] as well. The erstwhile Iraqi regime's quest for uranium appears to have been in vain. But the claim that Iraq didn't seek uranium is simply false. News organizations that repeat it are serving, wittingly or unwittingly, as propaganda outlets for those who oppose the U.S. war effort.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Day 6: We Go to Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park, the site of the 1974 World's Fair hasn't changed in any way that I can tell since the late 1970's. The park is a great place to relax on any day, but a sunny Summer weekday when there are no crowds is best. Just large perfect lawns and lots of river frontage. The Spokane River divides into two channels and three of the four banks are inside the park.

Ecology was the theme of the 1974 World's Fair.

A mountain sheep welcomes us. I remember this out of the way sculpture from back when I passed by this spot in 1974--while the World's Fair was going on. I also had my tonsils removed that summer. I only remember that it was that summer since there were fireworks every night at the Fair's closing time and I remember seeing these from Sacred Heart Hospital while I was there. Posted by Picasa

Crossing into the park

Mom and the girls pause on the bridge ovet the raging Spokane River. It was a good thing we took the picture on the way into the park: A gust of wind blew Surenna's hat off on the way back and it landed on the river bed. Posted by Picasa

Dahlia makes a new friend.

Dahlia seems to be able to find and treasure a feather no matter where we go.Posted by Picasa

Run Surenna! Run Jemma! The scary steel girl fitness monster is gonna get you! Posted by Picasa
You can't go to Spokane's Riverfront Park and NOT go on The Looff Carousel! I managed to get a ring every time around, except for the time when the brass ring was in place! Posted by Picasa

The popcorn we got at the carosel was perfect for feeding to the ducks, geese and sea gulls. Posted by Picasa

More feeding the foul creatures... Posted by Picasa

Playing on the giant Radio Flyer Posted by Picasa

Jemma! Hang in there! Posted by Picasa

The girls were tired of playing and having their pictiures taken--they want to go home and swim. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 26, 2005

Day 5: We go Huckleberry Picking in Montana

We left Jemma with her Grandma and set-out early for the two hour drive to Montana. This Western slope of the Rocky Mountains location had been where my Dad had been going for the last few years, so we would not be going to any place I had been before. Two hours may seem like a short time to get from Washington to Montana: (For those who are geography-challenged, these two states don't touch each other.) Spokane is only about 30 miles from the Idaho border, Idaho is pretty narrow in it's northern-most part and we went the whole way on I90. The reason we cannot go to the same place every year for huckleberry picking is that there is only a few year's window of high productivity for any given place. The bushes are everywhere up in the mountains but don't bear many berries unless they get lots of sunshine. If an area gets logged-off then there is plenty of sunshine for a few years until the next crop of fir trees start to take over. Huckleberries, both the bush and the fruit, appear much like blueberries and are probably related to one another. There are pretty big differences between them though: As one might expect the wild huckleberries are smaller and harder to harvest than domestic blueberries. Also, the kind of huckleberries we pick only grow up high in the mountains (there are red ones which grow at sea-level, but they are not as sweet or tasty). The flavor of huckleberries is much like that of blueberries--only much more intense. Huckleberries are purple/blue all the way through, unlike blueberries which are green on the inside. Two hours each way seemed at the time like a lot to bear for the pleasure of 3 hours of picking, but in retrospect it was well worth it. Of all the things we did on this trip, Surenna and Dahlia remember this outing as the highlight of the visit out West. When I was growing up, we went picking just about every Summer, but we all saw it as a welcome and enjoyable outing to go on. It was always much cooler up in the mountains and there was always a great view, plus the scent of the alpine meadows was invigorating. The girls loved it for all those reasons and it was their first time, so there was a novelty factor too.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Our girls are enjoying the outing, They have picked a few berries already and they like it. Posted by Picasa

We just knew that picking berries would appeal to Dahlia's earthy nature. Posted by Picasa

Dahlia dillegently harvests her berries. Posted by Picasa

Taking their lunch-break from the hard work of huckleberry picking. Posted by Picasa

The towers must be around a hundred feet tall, but the hillside is so steep that you are closer to the top of the tower from this vantage point than to the base of it. Posted by Picasa

We didn't pick right under these powerlines, but we were close enough to hear their constant crackle and hum. Posted by Picasa

Now that the day's picking is done, it is time to pose with our booty: Grandpa picked all the ones Surenna is displaying and the rest of us picked the one Dahlia is holding. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 19, 2005

Day 4 We drive across the state

A 300 mile drive through (mostly) barren countryside with three young children could be painfull. It turned out to be fun and fine. We started out with a brunch at Vaishali's newlywed cousin's house. I had never met the cousin, whom Vaishali hadn't seen in about a dozen years and it was the first meeting for all of us of her husband Sid. They are a delightful young couple and the South Indian cooking really hit the spot. Distance-wise though, we had not covered much ground. They live only about 4-5 miles from Mary & Rob's home. The next stop was in the area of Ellensburg to gas-up the Buick Rendezvoux. The girls mostly slept through the one part of the trip which has nice scenery. We stopped just a few miles further just after crossing the mighty Columbia river and looked at the horses. The piece is called something like: "The old man lets loose the ponies" and is a recreation in life-sized steel horses of the native's myth of where horses came from all of a sudden 3 or 4 hundred years ago. It was blazing hot there, dry and dusty too. The hill was steep and crumbly and the children flushed and recalcitrant. But really, it was a lot of fun and the view was great--plus, a real appreciation for the wonder that is air conditioning once we got back on the road. The rest of the trip should have been quite dull--140 miles of flat treeless plain. It went really fast though, the speed limit is 70 or 75 (can't remember now) so I went just under 80 the whole way. When there isn't much traffic there is less stress and you can listen to the itunes on the car radio. Day 5 pictures as soon as I find the time to post...