Thursday, August 11, 2011

FEASt map icons

Numbered map icons for linking to FEASt Open Garden Day map.

Friday, December 11, 2009

very strange shape-shifting puzzle

There is an original John Evans jigsaw on my desk. It has 2 sides with different patterns. There are no edges - each piece can "walk" from one edge to another or diagonally or reflect across the mid-line ... the trick is figuring out which way. I should be able to move the pieces so that eventually I see the other side.

We'll see how long this takes ...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Snow Day!

Just cozying up with home-made cookies and hot chocolate in the first blizzard of the season here in St. John's. You wouldn't think I had laundry hanging on this line yesterday. Today, I need snow boots to get to the composter. I tried to walk to the grocers but, after slogging a couple blocks into the driving snow with no view of the curbs and a near miss with the snow plow, I turned back.

In St. John's, if they can't open the doors at work, it's a Snow Day - we'll see how fast they clear this up by morning ...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

a walk in the park

A quail startles from the bush and disappears across the path before I can move.

The season for Sunday strolls through the Botanical Gardens is ending here in St. John's, but as long as the gates are open, there's undisturbed paths to explore.

Bright red dogberries festoon leafless branches around Oxen Pond. They taste like coffee beans - I'm told they make excellent jelly and wine.
The bogs and fens around the lake are fresh green, even though the predatory pitcher plants have all curled into crisp sentinels of fall. I forget what this hardy sort is.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


"A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas." -- G.H. Hardy, from my favourite calculus text.

I finally remembered to go to the Farmers Market while it was still Saturday ... and ended up with a puzzle!

I went for rutabagas and came home with a contract to supply some mathematical inspiration for one Old John Evans whose passion is making puzzles. His work is so entrancing I ended up finishing one with him while we discussed Escher and Gardner and interconnecting patterns.

Together we finished his latest invention he calls the "strange puzzle" - similar to this one, it looks like a puzzle with no edges. Because of the way it's made, you can walk the intricate filigree pieces across either horizontally or diagonally (some flipping over to reveal the reversed colour scheme, some translating directly across). It's mind-bending to figure out how it relates.

He needs someone to sort out the mathematics of what he does and give him some new sources of inspiration, I'd like someone to bring mathematical functions like cardioids and mobius surfaces to life with some aesthetic.

He insisted on giving me the Strange Puzzle; I insisted I can't have it till I come up with some patterns for him to work on next :-) So I'll have a real conversation piece for my coffee table and something interesting to do with math for a hobby.

Ooooh - tilings, fractals, topography ...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Red Letter Day

It finally happened - the statistically-improbable-but-possible random spam email in which the characters happen to spell out the long-awaited message "New Member Status: Professional Engineer." Followed of course, by 99 monkeys typing "Antarctic Penguin Evacuation Group."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Tempest overtaken by storm

A fair wind led me out around the bay to one of this year's venues for Shakespeare by the Sea - a hillock of coast overlooking Logy Bay.

The play began on time with a ship assembled from sticks and nets. In timely fashion, a wind arose and rain began to pelt us on the shoulders, adding to the effect of the storm at sea.

It ended after the mutiny and the first scene, with the announcement that "We are king of all this land, but we don't control everything" as the rain became a downpour. The play must go on ... another night.

Stay tuned for more tales from the rock.