Lucky Me Jun 2022

As a kid and later through my career, several lucky things [marked in brackets] happened to me; some of these things were fortuitous and some happened because I searched them out — either way, still lucky.

Growing Up

At our house:

  • We had newspapers, a couple of magazines (*), a few religious books, and a set of World Book [encyclopedias]. My brother and I read the heck out of those encyclopedias. I say this broadened our interests but I also say that we developed our innate interests.
  • We all made [regular trips to the library]. I was raised in Groves, TX. Our town had a small one-room library — I think I read most every book they had. Six plus miles away, Port Arthur had the wonderful Gates Memorial Library (**). I targeted biographies, periodicals, physics, and mathematics.
    Gates Memorial Library
Gates Memorial Library (**)

Plaque mounted near the sidewalk to the right of the library:

‘John Warne “Bet a Million” Gates (1855-1910), a native of Illinois, was instrumental in the early growth of Port Arthur. A prominent businessman and financier noted for his promotion of barbed wire, he became a leader in the development of the city founded by Arthur Stillwell, the president of the Kansas City Southern Railway company. Gates was initially attracted to the Port Arthur area by the local oil boom of the early 1900s. As an investor, he figured prominently in the development of the Texas Company (later Texaco).

Later a resident of New York, Gates maintained his business and philanthropic interests in Port Arthur with the help of his son Charles. Gate’s contributions to the city include Port Arthur Business College, St. Mary’s Hospital, and the Plaza Hotel.

In 1909, John Gates set aside land at this site for a public library, but initial plans for the project were discontinued after his death in 1911. Planning resumed five years later when it became apparent the public library in the nearby high school could not adequately serve the city. Through the efforts of Gate’s widow Delora (1855-1918) and local residents, this library was completed in 1917. The following year it was dedicated and deeded to the city.’

Historical plaque

Hydrocarbon Processing (*)

From childhood, there was always a Hydrocarbon Processing (HP) magazine in our house. My father was a boilermaker at the old Atlantic refinery and truly read through that magazine. I occasionally picked up one of the issues, browsed, looking for something, anything, of interest. It all looked like difficult reading highlighted by dismal process diagrams, emphasis on diagrams, and then emphasis on dismal.

Now, I’ve had an HP subscription for over 30 years. Funny how things go.

[Public School]

From the 7th to the 12th grade, I had [excellent math teachers]:

Junior High

In junior high, the football coach, Paul Carswell, was also the 7th grade math teacher, he routinely held [math competitions] in class — girls against the boys, oral arithmetic questions for the duration of the class, first oral correct answer got the point. These competitions, rather like a spelling bee, provided great initiative to perform arithmetic quickly. Later in the year, Mr. Carswell suggested I get involved with [UIL Number Sense] and I did. He also gave me his slide rule from college.

The Number Sense Contest involves a ten-minute, 80-question mental math test covering all high school mathematics …

Slide rule, et cetera …

[Trachtenberg] At the Gates Memorial library, I discovered the book The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics by Ann Cutler. What a revelation — numerous 🙂 methods of performing mental arithmetic backed up with algebraic derivations.

In the eighth grade, Algebra 1 was taught using the so-called [Modern Math] method. As I recollect this was the first year that Modern Math was taught in our school district. Though Modern Math was considered laughable by lay people, it seemed brilliant to me: set theory, the number line, the axioms of mathematics.

Tom Lehrer: New Math (live concert 1965)

Set theory

I’m back at Gates Memorial, reading all the math I can find in the library, for example, Boolean algebra and Principia Mathematica by Bertrand Russell (no, I didn’t get through the 3 volumes).

I also found the Hungarian polymath [John von Neumann]. At our junior high library, I did extensive reading of the math, the science, and the social side of von Neumann. I note that he developed a prodigious ability to do mental math — in his youth, this was worth developing as a practical skill since he had not yet invented the computer 🙂

John von Neumann (wiki link)

High School

[CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics] My sister became a chemist; I think the book may have been given as part of a high school award

CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics

Lamar University

While at Lamar University, I discovered:

[Robert Rauschenberg]

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

[Robert Maillart] a Swiss civil engineer who revolutionized the use of structural reinforced concrete especially in bridge design.

Robert Maillart (wiki link)

There were three [outstanding professors]:

  • Art —
    Harvey Hamburgh
    Jerry Newman
  • English — Dr. Henry Rule (marvelous course in African-American literature)

After Lamar:

[Stewart Brand] The Whole Earth Catalog

The Complicated Legacy of Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Catalog” (New Yorker article)

[Gregory Bateson ] Steps to an Ecology of Mind

International Bateson Institute

While at Texas Tech, I discovered:

[Buckminster Fuller]

[Count Alfred Korzybski] Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics

[the map is not the territory]

[the very structure of language can influence or distort our perceptions]

The Institute of General Semantics

[Singularity functions]

Singularity Functions

[CRC Standard Mathematical Tables] An excellent handbook; I still occasionally refer to my 20th Edition.

CRC Standard Mathematical Tables and Formulas 33rd Edition

[R. E. Griswold, J. F. Poage, I. P. Polonsky]  Snobol4 programming language (brilliant)

The Snobol4 Programming Language

I still have my book — A SNOBOL4 Primer – Ralph E. Griswold, Madge T. Griswold (1973)

[Norbert Wiener] Cybernetics

There were several [excellent professors]:

  • Civil Engineering —
    Dr. Paul Cosentino
    Dr. Y. C. Das
    Dr. Ernst Kiesling
    Dr. Kishor Mehta
    Dr. James McDonald
    Dr. Jimmy H. Smith
    Dr. C. V. G. Vallabhan
    Dr. Warren K. Wray
  • Computer Science — Dr. J. E. Archer
  • Statistics — Dr. William J. Kolarik
  • Mathematics — (thanks for the assistance, Dr. Tarwater)
    Dr. John Ault
    Dr. Vadim Komkov

After college:

[Computer Algebra]
Richard Pavelle, Michael Rothstein and John Fitch. “Computer Algebra” Scientific American (December 1981): 136-152.

Scientific American article Dec 1981

[Kernighan and Ritchie] The C Programming Language
[Byte magazine]

Byte magazine (wiki link)

[Kurzweil Reading Machine (KRM)]

The Kurzweil Reading Machine (KRM) was able to read ordinary books, magazines, and other printed documents out loud so that a blind person could read anything he wanted.

[Desmet C Compiler] Ad in Byte magazine (1985)

An ad for the Desmet C Compiler

[PLC ladder logic] in the mid 80s, I was introduced to programming PLCs using a PC

[Donald Knuth] 1974 A.M. Turing Award. TAOCP

[Edsger W. Dijkstra] 1972 A.M. Turing Award. Graph theory, EWD series of publications

EWD publications online

[Alan Kay] 2003 A.M. Turing Award. Smalltalk object-oriented programming

[Finite Element Method] FEA

Finite element method (wiki link)

[Boundary Element Method] BEM

Boundary element method (wiki link)

Stretched element method (wiki link)

Brebbia books (Amazon link)

[John Walkenbach] prolific Excel author and MVP

John Walkenbach books (Amazon link)

[Leo Dorst, Daniel Fontijne, Stephen Mann] Geometric Algebra For Computer Science, An Object Oriented Approach to Geometry

the companion site to the book Geometric Algebra For Computer Science

Geometric algebra (wiki link)

[Tristan Needham] Visual Complex Analysis

Visual Complex Analysis

A beautiful graphical proof from the preface, page ix

[Herbert Wilf] generatingfunctionology

Mathematics Books — a Few of the Very Best Jul 2021

[Doron Zeilberger] A=B


Mathematics Books — a Few of the Very Best Jul 2021

[David Gleich] "Finite Calculus: A Tutorial for Solving Nasty Sums"

Mathematics Books — a Few of the Very Best Jul 2021

[Guido van Rossum] Python

Guido van Rossum (wiki link)

Python (wiki link)

[N. J. A. Sloane] The On-Line Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences

The OEIS Foundation Sep 2021

[Brian Greene] American physicist

Brian Greene (Britannica link)

Your Daily Equation #1: E = mc2

[Roger Penrose] 2020 Nobel Prize. British mathematician and relativist

Brian Greene and Sir Roger Penrose: World Science Festival

Theoretical foundation for black holes and the supermassive compact object at the Galactic centre

[Bret Victor] interface designer, computer scientist, and electrical engineer

Reactive Document example
Bret Victor (wiki link)

[Jeff Bezanson, Stefan Karpinski, Viral B. Shah, and Alan Edelman] Julia

Julia programming language (wiki link)

[J. P. den Hartog] Strength of Materials, 1949

Writing this in July 2022:
I just bought a copy of this book. I’ve enjoyed revisiting many of the basic mechanics topics. Den Hartog was an excellent writer with a clear, clean, and lively style of writing.

[J. P. den Hartog] Advanced Strength of Materials, 1952

I bought this book a long time ago but never spent much time with it. This summer (2022), I’ve been revisiting failure theories, torsion, pressure loadings on tanks and shells, and energy methods (including, especially, Castigliano’s Second Theorem).

Beam Deflections Jun 2022
Pipe Flexibility using Julia and Jupyter Jul 2022
Structural Calculations for Beams Using Calculus via Sympy Jul 2022
Asymmetric Frame Loading Jul 2022

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *