Monthly Archives: July 2016

MORINGA.. or more Gaagh!

Duncan, my good friend and ‘Renaissance-Man’ role model from across the Mediterranean, thru Gibraltar, and thence up the coast to the UK is currently doing a stellar series on food: animal vs plant-sourced? Well worth following :
But meanwhile,, for any number-phobes put off by my last post, here is my little contribution to the nutritional racket.
The tree in question, Moringa oleifera, is touted as the perfect solution to world hunger: Fast growing, drought-tolerant, a heavy producer of edibles (I’ve seen ‘world record-holder’), and also an oft-mentioned litany of nutritional values: (“More nickel than a meteorite, more Cadmium than a car battery, more Vitamin ‘C’ than Linus ever saw in his life.. etc”

moringas 005
I bought two saplings 6 years ago, and a year later planted their seeds, (I remember the first one that sprouted as a ‘miracle!’, but it turns out you’d have to be a satanic reverse-Midas-touch monster to have them refuse to sprout.)
Soo.. I now have at least 200 Moringa trees of all ages.
Ok, but what I lacked was any real experience actually eating Moringa.
This month, the Sri Lankan ‘guest-workers’ here finally discovered my gold mine. Happy at first to talk to anyone with a history of consumption, I gave them a couple hand-fulls of the seed pods.
Two nice free visits later, they got serious and loaded three heavy suitcases with pods. Ok, with me verging on starvation, I asked whether they could be sold? “Sold?” The question didn’t seem to register, nether Hebrew nor English being a common tongue. I pulled out the only pathetic shekel-note in my wallet this week, a 20, and gestured: “I give you pods… you give me… these.”
Hmm, Perhaps they understood, who knows?
Anyway, thence directly to Google, where I learned to ‘cut into short pieces, like green beans, boil, and add .. um.. truckloads of spices. Supposed to taste like asparagus. Which I hate and refuse to eat, but no mind.
So the reason I’m writing this today on a quiet Sabbath afternoon is that I am, as we speak, waiting for my virgin eating-experiment. Just took them off the stove to cool.
Be right back, as they say.

Ok, ‘stringy’ and ‘woody’ are both ridiculous understatements. No one warned me to have a ‘spittoon’ handy for the inedible 90 per cent of the entre/mess.
I was tempted to boil them for an additional month or so, but decided against it, partly because the taste is about as appealing as that mouth-full of crab-grass you bite into after being knocked off your horse.
Never say die, I say. I’ll ask the guinea -pig Bangla-Desh-is to bring me a sample edible meal, in fair-exchange for another ten pounds of now-worthless (to me) cellulose. Possibly cows, with four times the count of stomachs as ‘moi’, can digest Moringa.
Do check Duncan’s food-series, if you’re looking for actually edible choices.
For now, Mac D’s calls to me, if only because no spittoon is required.
ADD: the leaves, fresh or dried can be used kinda as a ‘thickener in soup. Maybe that’s what I’ll sell, in the end. I’m such a Socrates/ Pascal’s wager/ Hippocrates kind of guy: I refuse to sell anything I haven’t proven to myself to be tasty.
That’s it from ‘Johnny’s Kitchen News’/ JS

Last Dance on Primes

Ok, here’s all you need to know. (And if you giveth not a sh*t about numbers, just click out now; check how many ‘Likes’ Linsey Lohan got today..) I forgive you.
    Anyway, I’m done lying in bed factoring 2739 in my head, and equally finished reading all the multi-millenia speculation from math thinkers who would have profited from having a day job.
The Hell wid it! The is NOTHING SPECIAL about prime numbers, save their indivisibility. It’s not even something they should be be proud of; It’s almost akin to a ‘special-interest’ internet group whose members ‘do not collect stamps’, as a common bond.
Ok, here’s the whole picture, so you-uns can sleep at night:
Step One: My Excellent House party.
Where: A room in my Mom’s basement.
What: I sent out invitations to numbers 1-6 for a start, asked them to bring their nifty ‘Divisibility-Lasers’.
OK, 2,3,5, and 7, SMS-ed right away that they’ed be there. ‘4’ said “Two will take care of it for me.” and ‘6’ didn’t get back. No problem.
I set up the room thusly:
Ceiling tiles, one foot square, 10 X 10. A hundred tiles in all. Took me three hours to ‘magic-marker’ the numbers on each one.

I made sure to put a comfy rug in the center of the floor, and ordered pizza for the party. All four of the guests arrived, each in his fav color: 2: bright red, 3: a lovely green, 5: nice utilitarian brown, and 7: a tastefull beige. Their lasers were of the same matching color, of course.
And so, after a good half hour of pizza-munching and Rules-explanation, they were ready! A lovely sight, the four of them in a pile on the rug, kinda like ‘And the Lion shall lie down with the Lamb’
At the signal, 2 started first. Machine-gunning all the even-numbered rows with her red laser.
Oops. forgot ‘The Rules’:
1) If you light up a number you can divide evenly (like, for ‘2’, 32/2=16) it puts a little tag on the tile with your name/number on it.
More rules to follow..
And so ‘2’ ‘hit’ fully half of the numbers, but managed to knock to the floor only one tile: ‘Two’,(herself) which she put in her box, kinda disappointed.
Three went next. Took a little longer since he couldn’t exactly shoot in straight or diagonal lines. He got ‘3’ knocked down for his box, but also ‘6’. Why? Well, Six had already been divided by 2 into a ‘3’, so it fell to the floor, having been completely factored. Not so for ‘9’, which three would need to ‘hit’ twice to knock off the ceiling.
Anyway, I hope you kinda get the rules by now.
“Five” with his brown laser went over the ceiling carefully, hit all the numbers ending with ‘0’ or ‘5’. Ended up, in his box, with ‘5’ (of course) but also ’15’ (since 3’s laser had already turned it into a ‘5’. (oh, and ’10’, same reason.)

Seven’s turn was last, but he had a great time: Got ‘7’ of course, but also ’14’, ’21’ and ’35’ for his box-o-goodies. Thanks to help from the smaller divisors.
Anyway, this party continued for a good two hours: more turns, more pizza, more beer, but hey, who’s counting?
In The End:
And in the end, what was left on the ceiling?
1) First of all, repeated ‘hits’ by ‘2’s red light got her, 4,8,16,32, and ’64’.
Three netted in addition to ‘3’: 9 and 27
Five grabbed ’25, and Seven, likewise netted ’21,and ’49’.
Most of the othe tiles were split in the boxes between the co-contributers to their divisibility:
Like ‘Tile 60’, who ended up in shards in several boxes, namely : 2,3,and 5.

And Then a Knock on the Door!

I opened the front door carefully, so I thought, but not quickly enough to prevent ’11’ and ’13’ from barging right in. They’d heard on FB that a party had happened without them, and were greatly un-happy.
I sat them down in the kitchen, with the last pizza ‘Pepperoni, no anchovies’, and listened to their case:
“What are we… goats!” they spit. “22,33,44,55…” Eleven ran off the list of numbers only he could divide, echoed seconds later by ‘Thirteen’, with “13,26,39,52…”
What could I do as a fair panel-moderator?
I led them to the basement room, where it turned out 2.3.5.and 7 had alreay realized that they may need offshore help to bring down the ceiling. I expected a floor-fight, but the Numbers joined hands in exemplary fashion. Within minutes, the ceiling was much closer to what I’d hoped for when I called the party.
And still.. there were hold-outs.. stalwarts. Numbers like ’57’, sitting there overhead, mocking me.
Hmm.. 57=3X19. Nineteen? I scrolled through my phone ‘Contacts’. ‘Not found’ Ditto for, turned out, 17,23,29,31,37,41,47,53, ugh, the list goes on.
I needed to sit and think a second: What exactly was I trying to accomplish??

Ok, un-numbered milligrams of Ritalin and Valium later, it turns out that it’s ridiculously easy to lose track of what one is after. But I now know:
1)The ceiling’ is the set of numbers from 1 to 100 base 10
2) My guests, including the party-crashers 11, 13..etc are the survivors, numbers who themselves have no clean divisors.. ok ‘Primes’.
3 And any tile left on the ceiling after the party , having survived all attempts to divide it by smaller numbers is also a Prime.
So I went out and ordered like, gift-cards, printed-up for the lucky bunch. Wrote on them
“Sub-100 Prime Club!” And I sincerely expected that they’d take it as the compliment I’d intended.
Oy! closest I can get to why they ‘hated it’ is that the name reminded them of their insignificance in the Universe, their puny role in a continuum where even 100 to the 100th power is still a long way from infinity.
Hmm.. my next party was to have been a ‘blow-up’ of the above, but with a ceiling at 500 feet altitude, and 1000X1000 tiles. Woulda been fun, I still say. (setting aside the tactical/budgetary issues of 170 meter towers and 300+ meter steel cables. I do have the space on my property, but $400 a month Israeli social security might not cover the materials.
But, in principle, this ‘party-mood’ can be extended out to Alpha Centauri any way beyond. Numbers never stop, nor do primes, (although primes do grow scarcer. In fact, the percentage of primes per hundred drops as the inverse-logarithm of the ‘number of numbers’.
Main Point here: I don’t care about any of that!
Life is short and I’m thrilled to know and love the primes to 100. Hell, I bought ’em pizza, now they owe me, if I can find a quid-pro-quo./ JS

The Untied Snakes anti-Social in-Security Administration

At 67 I decided to at least determine what’s up wid dat?

The SSA site is optimistic: “Millions of folks just like you have opened a quick and easy “my-social-security” account. Here’s the link:”

Ok, I carefully did as told. The initial page asks for SSN, name, address, phone number, in order to proceed to page two, the ‘challenge-question phase. The object is to verify that you are the person you claim to be, by asking ‘questions only you should know’ in their words.
Now, look at this screen-shot of my questions and tell me frankly: If you had no current mortgage, no recent bank card, no retail-store card, and had never lived  on(or heard of) the streets mentioned what would YOU have answered, except for what I did.. ‘None of the above’, right?

ssa odd questions

And so, as I feared, SSA responded by telling me “We are unable to verify your identity. Please try again after 24 hours.”
I spent the waiting period finding out on the net that SSA uses Experian, one of the three authorized credit agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Tras-Union) to formulate their challenge questions. Hmm.. something is up.
Remembering that a US citizen is entitled to free annual credit report from each of the three, I first tried Experian. And got the *exact same odd-ball irrelevant questions*! Needless to say they failed me, and put me on another 24-hr wait.
Trans-Union, bless their hearts asked ‘normal questions: (ex: my phone number from 1973, which I recalled, thank god for synesthesia, by the colors.
They sent me immediately on-line my credit report, squeaky-clean. But it did show inquiries from cut-rate mortgage companies based in Delaware. Big deal, for now.
I then tried Equifax. I dearly wish I could recall the questions, but I seemed to have passed, yet they said they are not allowed to send me my report on-line. I suspect because of my Israel IP, but who knows?
OK, two more failed attempts at Experian and Soc Sec resulted in the current status there; blocked-for-life from ever learning anything further.
What followed was more days of research, since I seriously suspected stolen identity. That is, someone using my name and SSN had grafted his files onto mine. My only clues as to his identity were the particular questions in the screen-shot above. What to do?
Ok, Google yer own Name, duh. And that just what I done:
Of the 12 or so leading ‘people-search’ sites, 5 refuse to talk to Israelis, but the others were enough to confirm my suspicions.
1) There are now two people claiming my house in Conestoga PA as their residence; me, 67 and another ringer/ imposter, age 43.
‘Possible relatives’ lists my wife and some nieces, nephews, my mom and dad, but also ‘his’ relatives. I mean, if I had a ‘Darya’ in my family tree, I’d have heard about her by now.

Previous addresses list places in counties adjoining Lancaster (York and Dauphin) but also many references to Delaware. Complete with phone numbers there.
And then: on the maybe 7th page of search results I find the guy with my exact name in a long court record. His house in Delaware was repossessed in 2011 after a fruitless two-year search for him. Also recorded is his declaring bankruptcy in 2012. His work-location is listed twice as ‘Delaware Jeep Association’, which in fact is a simple hobby club. The whole thing looks bad. And in the end I may understand what happened.
But meanwhile I have no hope of signing up for US social security after working like a dog for 50 years.
Call them‘, you advise. Hmm, that’s what the forums are good for: 51,000 complaints from folks who ‘called ’em’ and are now institutionalized or worse. I might try it, soon as I finish patenting my nifty perpetual-motion machine, a project with more likelihood of success.
So …advice???/ JS


2,3,5,and 7: There ya go, lady, them’s yer Prime Numbers!

Six months running I worked alone in my garage on primality. Used the topic to divert my thoughts,, while trying to fall asleep from some seriously depressing side-concerns, several of which I’m actually forbidden to discuss here.
Factored every number in turn up to 2000 and beyond in my head, developed tricks for dividing by every number under the Sun.
The point is that I knew that I had a Goal, I just felt it in my bones. Resisted boning up on Fermat, Euler, Poisson, all the gang who’ve been obsessed on the question for millennia. Somehow I knew that my approach was.. emotional?
Early on I ‘got it’ that if 41 is prime here on Earth, Rock 3 from the Sun, then it was also prime in the Pleiades. This is oddly and truly comforting to realize. You got 41 pebbles on the beach in an alien star system? Well god help ’em, even the smartest ETs can’t line ’em up in tidy rows and columns. We are not alone? At least in our misery.
And with all respect to my older son’s claim, Primality has ‘nuttin’ to do with choice of number-base system. I finally agreed to disagree, told him to ‘Enjoy yer world where stuff is, like ‘different’, and stopped arguing.
And now to Emotions.. Feelings:
Um I feel a deep dislike, hatred even, of, for example, ’61’, that sad-sack number. (God should wipe out his Name and Memory). To my mind and heart there are four Prime Numbers, as per the title: 2,3,5, and 7.
All the rest are losers, ne’er-do-wells, and misfits.
Now it’s not rocket science to discover that lots of primes occur as pairs ‘Twin Primes’ as they are called. Almost always on either side of a nice number divisible by 6. Like, say 42,(six times seven), surrounded by 41 and 43, evil little failed numerals.
Let’s look at 61 for a moment. He lives right beside 60, who has almost nightly parties on the lawn with his many loving factors: 15, 12, 10, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2. Hot dogs and buns, who cares that they’re sold in 6-pax and 8-pax, he’ll get by. He even made friends with Heinz ketchup (57 kinds) after he realized that 57 is really just 3 sub-flavour-groups with 19 varieties in each group. Yeah, even in the Pleiades.
So 61 is jealous at root, and spiteful to boot. The side-porch he built toward the other neighbor, ’62’, gave him less ‘misery loves company’ consolation than he’d hoped. ’62’ entertains 31 and the busy-but-party-animal 2 almost every week-end… while 61 hides in his stupid basement , alone with a cheap beer and some pirated math-porn.
I have zero sympathy, it turns out. They made a choice, now need to live wid it.
Eleven, you might say, why not include eleven?
Good question, and here’s a good answer: Of all the numbers up to 2000, eleven ‘owns’ a pathetic three integers: his own sorry ass, plus 121 and 1331. All the rest belong to other ‘real-men’ primes. I’ll explain:

prime photojpeg
First of all, ‘2’ grabs fully half of the natural numbers, the even ones, duh.
Then 3 goes out to claim a third of them, but comes back, tail between his legs, with one-sixth. Half of his ‘clients’ were already claimed by 2, like 6, 12, 18, 24, etc.
Five’s turn happens, and his dream of twenty percent kinda melts like an ice-cube here in the Israeli summer: Numbers ending in ‘0’ belong to 2 already, and of what’s left, say 15,25,35,45,65, etc, well, ‘3’ already grabbed a third of them.
Seven has the shittiest deal, one could say. Every one of his homies has been tagged by some other gang, save 49 and 91 (of numbers up to one- hundred.) Either they’re even, or divisible by 3 or 5. Ninety-one is where he hides out and built his embassy. But only because Johnny ‘Pluto-ized’ 13. (7X13=91)
So, enough already. I don’t give a rat’s ass about ‘percentage of primes approaches asymptotically n/log-n.’
Like in any social setting, even Word-Press, once you decide who your real Friends are, the rest is stamp-collecting. I’m ‘friend-ing 2357 and disabling ‘Requests’.
I do hope anyone reading enjoyed this romp. I just tell the truth, like Truman; other folks call it number-hell/ JS