Z is puZZled

Elle and I both resolved to finish our paperwork this afternoon and I set an alarm on my phone to give us a time goal to work towards.  Sometimes, an artificial deadline does work.  However, she received an email from her mum that distracted her: her French grandad had had chest pains and been taken to hospital.  So on to Skype to maman – it was not so bad, he’d been out in the garden cutting down a tree with a chainsaw (he’s 83) and his wife, unable to stop him, had gone out to help – seems they’re as bad as each other.  Later, he didn’t feel too well, the doctor was matter-of-fact about it but took a blood test which showed something was awry.  It doesn’t seem that too much harm has been done however and he’s waiting to hear if he needs further treatment – Elle phoned him later and they were laughing together, so she’s reassured.

This gave me time to catch up with my work which took longer than hers and we played various board games together.  Some of them hadn’t been played for a few years, which I discovered when I hauled them out of the cupboard covered with dust and cobwebs.

Thinking about it, I’ve never really grown up.  My mother never played games of any sort, not board or card games nor outside sports either.   She never took us to the beach or swimming pool, I never saw her run, nor my father.  They did take up archery for a while when I was a child but that was all.  My father liked card games, crosswords and mathematical puzzles – I was brought up on Martin Gardner’s maths problems in Scientific American and the puzzle books of Hubert Phillips and HE Dudeney.  I bet I can google them, let’s see … yes! Here and here.  Martin Gardner too, and he only died in 2010.  Oh, I’m totally thrilled, I must investigate further tomorrow.

These three were such a large part of my early life, I learned so much from them.  A peculiar and solitary child, I was quite happy covering pages with notes while I tried to work out how to solve maths and logic problems without much knowledge to make it possible without hours of dogged trial and error.  My school was rubbish at maths teaching and I had only the vaguest knowledge of how to apply what I’d been taught.  And looking at Gardner’s Wiki page reminds me of the time that my friend Lynn and I spent hours making flexagons.  I’d almost come to think that a hexahexaflexagon was a figment of my imaginagination.  Oh wow.  I first heard of MC Escher in Scientific American, too.

It’s too late at night now and I haven’t looked at the newspaper today yet.  I won’t skim through it now, I’ll leave it until another day.  Yet again, I sat down with little idea what to write about and a completely unexpected subject has come of it.  Blogging is splendid, really.  I love it.

3 comments on “Z is puZZled

  1. Mike and Ann

    Dear Z, I recently talked to my accountant who knew my old maths master. She summarised him by saying :- “He was an excellent mathematician, but a rotten teacher – couldn’t put an idea across.” Perhaps yours was of the same type ?

  2. mig

    I think maths is a different language. Maths teachers need to be good linguists or at least good translators.
    That hexahexaflexagon looks like one of the toys that came after the rubriks cube.

  3. Z

    I’m afraid they were just rubbish at maths, whatever they were like as teachers. I remember one dismal occasion when one got completely stuck trying to work out something in geometry and a girl who did understand it took pity on her and finished the work on the board. I’ll never understand why my parents sent me to such a poor school when I was quite bright and interested in learning. Only a girl so it didn’t matter, I’m afraid.


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