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Today, 20 May, is a pretty special day for me.  Today would have been my father’s 100th birthday.

My father was, and still is, a huge force in my life.  He was big on learning, and whilst he never received extensive formal education, he wanted both my brother and myself to learn as much as we could, and in anyway we could.  In most cases, this meant by exploring what we didn’t know, as opposed to just the formal educational system that we were raised in (I am sure he would be pretty mystified as to why I felt compelled to earn a Ph.D.) 

He could be tough.  I remember at one point whilst in high school, my grades for several classes were…well, the fact is that they were pretty abysmal.  After an evening of being properly bollocked for my most recent grade reports, he told me that if my grades did not improve dramatically and immediately, I would be chucked off to a Military Academy to teach me some discipline.  At the time, I was near panic-stricken.  However, he could also be pretty sympathetic, as evidenced by the fact when my next grade reports arrived showing a less-than-energetic response to the threat on my part, I never did get sent away.

I worked with my father for quite a few years, which was like the first lines of A Tale of Two Cities.  These were the best of times and the worst of times, but never dull.  He taught me about Leonardo de Pisa, a mathematician whom we know as Fibonacci.  Fibonacci believed that there are sequences of numbers that are ‘natural.’ To drive the point home, my father once sent me out to pick dandelions so we could count the number of petals on the flowers, proving out the Fibonacci theory.  The numerical sequence as identfied in the theory is, “1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, ... defined by F(1) = 1, F(2) = 1, and F(n) = F(n-1) + F(n-2) for n = 3, 4, 5, ...”   But you probably already knew that. Can you imagine me, counting petals on a dandelion to prove out the theory?  Not exactly a pretty sight.

When I was faced with a problem or serious life challenge, he never provided me with a solution or gave me ‘the answer,’ but instead told me to go figure it out for myself.  At times, this can be a pretty depressing response, but he taught me to be self-reliant and use my head to figure out how to avoid problems.  By the time he passed away in 1974, I had realised that this was the best thing for a father to do for a son.   

At times, he was pretty hard to live and work with, but he was, and always will be my father, and he is missed.

 

The number 100 is significant in other ways as well, just in case someone asks you....

  • The number of subunits into which many of the world's currencies are divided; for example, one euro is one hundred cents and one Pound Sterling is one hundred pence
  • The number of tiles in a standard Scrabble set
  • Number 1 in the top 100 April’s Fool’s Day Hoaxes: The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
  • In United Kingdom, 100 is the operator telephone number
  • The first Chinese dictionary was written in 100 A.D.
  • 100 is the HTTP status code indicating that the client should continue with its request
  • The Huffington Post, head of the list of Top 100 blogs
  • The 100-Series Highways are a series of arterial highways in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia
  • The boiling point of water = 100o Celsius (centigrade)
  • 100 is the number of painting and art projects I have done since coming here
  • Sum of the 1st nine prime numbers = 2 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 = 100
  • One Hundred Men and a Girl is a 1937 musical comedy film starring Deanna Durbin
  • 100 Grand Bar (formerly known as $100,000 Bar) is a candy bar produced by Nestlé
  • Monterrey, Mexico is located at 25 degrees 40' N latitude and 100 degrees 18' W longitude
  • 100 is about the number of days since I rented out La Antigua and formally moved to Sol y Mar

Don't worry, there won't be a test.

 

my father

 

teaching me the theories of momemtum and balance

 

my father and my brother

 

when things we all different

 

me, looking for something to paint

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copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, James B. Rieley

jbrieley@rieley.com