Month: January 2021

If my memory serves me right, I think that this article dates way back to 1973 when I was sixteen years old. That would make my father fifty-six, which is seven years younger than I am today. I remember that sunny day very well and how happy I felt holding that trophy in my hands.

Father-Son Tournament.jpg

What a fantastic round of golf that was. My father and I complemented each other perfectly. We made amazing recoveries, drove long drives straight down the middle, shot chips landing next to the hole, and sunk many a long putt for birdie. Beyond recalling the feelings of excitement and being pumped up with adrenaline, I don't really remember that many exact details. One episode though that does remain clear in my mind is the following.

The 17th hole was a par 3 and my father had a long uphill birdie putt from the front of the green. I was attending the flag and hoping that he would putt it close enough for an easy par. When he struck the ball too hard and realized that it would end up rolling much too far past the hole, he screamed "Step on it, stop it!" When I ignored his cursing he repeated it with such aggressiveness and furious anger that I began to tremble doubting whether or not he was serious and if he was directing his anger at me. I hesitated but held my ground doing my best to ignore him. Then at the top of his lungs, he hollered "Step on it!" one last time. Despite the rules of golf, the fact that we were playing in a very important club championship, and to make things worse we were leading with a fantastic score, I acted like the good and obedient son that I was. Not wanting to go against my father's wishes, worried about the possible repercussions of ignoring his orders, believe it or not, I actually stepped on that ball and stopped it dead in it's tracks.

I guess after that embarrassing display of poor sportsmanship, we should have been either disqualified from the tournament or given the usual hefty penalty of two strokes. We were playing with Bill Chapman and his father, and they were so kind to look the other way, let us place the ball about where it would have ended up, and allowed us play on as if nothing had happened. Just a small glitch, and it was after all a friendly good old club match. We had played an amazing round of golf (despite a bogey on that hole), truly a stellar performance, so in a way we still deserved to win that trophy.

I really had never ever thought about it, not even at the time of holding that trophy as the winners, the memory had been erased from my mind in the joy of that moment. Not until thirty years on when I met up again with my former golfing buddies Craig, Danny and Bill. When Bill recounted the scene in excruciating and embarrassing detail, we couldn't stop laughing and rolling on the ground. Strange how a long lost memory can be rekindled and brought back to life again in that way.

So you may be wondering what makes the number e so special. Well, e is the only number where the result of the function e to the power of x remains unchanged as you calculate its derivative, and the derivative of the derivative of that, the derivative of the derivative of the derivative of that, indefinitely.

Taking the function f(x) = power(e, x) that raises e to the power of x, d/dx of f(x) = f(x) for (d/dx)(d/dx) ... (d/dx). You can plot the value of x to measure the distance traveled, the tangent of the change of distance (velocity) and the tangent of the change of the velocity (acceleration), ad infinitum. Lo and behold, the value of the tangent will always be the same, that is it will remain equal to e to the power of x.

For me this rates high on my list as one of the most amazing insights of mathematics, as it applies to nature and the universe. The number e forms a fundamental concept in physics and appears endlessly in most of literature, especially quantum physics.

You might also be interested (but have probably guessed already) to know that the number e is an irrational number, meaning that there are no two integers p and q where p/q = e.

For those interested, please see: A proof that e is irrational.


I just happened to find this obituary randomly one day when I felt reminiscent and searched the Internet for clues from the past. This is one of my half-brothers from my father's first marriage. As a child, I met him only a few times and those memories of our brief meetings are vague. Later when I was around twenty years old, I drove up with my father to visit him in Menlo Park. He worked in a local gas station and his passionate hobby was fishing. All his fishing gear was leaning up against the wall of his one-room apartment, and he slept on a simple mattress on the floor. One thing that struck me was the portrait of his mother lying on the floor next to his bed, whose maiden name was Maureen Carpenter. It was one of those black and white pictures with her posing in a manner typical of the early forties. My young father was off to war and she stared bravely into the distance. That was the very first (and last) time I had seen what my father's first wife looked like. Just a quick glance really, nothing more. She was very pretty and looked like a nice person, despite many negative things I had heard about her while growing up. With Max, there wasn't really that much to talk about besides fishing and other simple chit-chat, but that was okay because in some mysterious way I felt happy being with him while I could. Bonding with the past and wondering how things could have been, how things had turned out. In a small way he had played a minor role in my life, so I felt a bit saddened when I found out that he had passed away two years ago and I hadn't even known it. That last afternoon I spent at his one-room apartment was meaningful in a spiritual way, and when we parted little did I realize that that would be the very last time I would ever seen him again. Bye Max, may you rest in peace and God bless you.

Oh yeah, one thing I should mention that is pretty important in context of this story is the following. Max was named in honor of my father's little brother who as a child accidentally shot and killed himself in the chest with a gun he had found lying around and probably thought was a toy. My father was fourteen at the time. According to the Kansas Lawrence Daily Journal World dated May 30, 1932, title Wound Kills Boy:

"Max Gish, 10-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Gish, formerly of this city, was found dead in the bathroom of his home at Junction City yesterday with a small calibre pistol at his side. Members of the family believed Max was playing with the weapon when it was accidentally discharged. The only other person in the house at the time was the boy's aged grandfather, who said he did not hear the shot. Max was the youngest child of Mr. and Mrs. Gish. Mr. Gish operated the Stadium barber shop, 1033 Massachusetts street, for about eleven years."

You see, my father's father (the grandfather I had never met because he die when he was fifty) who was a barber by profession, had fought in the Great War. He was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. 1114th cavalry. At the time I can imagine there being weapons lying around in unsafe places that a curious child might find climbing a high cupboard or some secret drawer.

A few years after that my father lost his older brother to cancer. Those awful events combined with the atrocities that he witness as a soldier in the second world war were plenty of hurtful memories which I believe (almost) broke him.

Exactly eight years ago to the day, I gave up drinking for good. In all that time I have not had a single drop of alcohol. It was not easy, especially in the beginning, but I somehow managed to remain strong by simply living one day at a time. Stopping drinking has been one of the best decisions of my life, and it has made me a much better person. I thank the lord for giving me the strength and wisdom to make such a transformation and keep to my promise for so many years.

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This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2498 entries and as many as 1877 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

My mother passed away 3-27-2018 ago.

Started Gishtech 04-25-2016 ago.