Personal

George Berszenyi, mathematics mentor

This is George Berszenyi.

Image credit: NPR, Sara Stathas

He was the Chairman of the Department of Mathematics at my alma mater, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, while I was a student there majoring in mathematics.

I took but one class he taught. I forget after 30 years which one it was. I remember him as a kind man, genuinely interested in each of his students.

He was profiled on NPR recently for mentoring young mathematicians, challenging them through interesting problems to grow in the field. Several of the young people he coached went on to great things in mathematics and engineering. Read the article about him here.

I have a funny but embarrassing story to tell about George Berszenyi. My alma mater’s tradition is that the Chairman of each department read the names of that year’s graduates in each major. My full name is James Wilson Grey, III. In his thick Hungarian accent he read it as James Vilson Grey the Turd.

Titters went up from all corners of the audience. I crossed the stage red-faced.

Advertisements
Standard
Blogosphere

Recommended reading

Here are the blog posts I liked most this week.

💻 Monette shares some photos, some truly lovely compositions, from Enoshima, Japan. Read Enoshima

Holly on the holly trees
Nikon FA, 35-70mm Zoom Nikkor, Agfa Vista 200, 2019.

💻 I don’t know the name of this blogger (hey bloggers! use a name! even a made up one!) but he (she?) shares some stunning black-and-white photos of an abbey in Scotland. Read Dundrennan Abbey

📷 Craig Sinclair, writing for Casual Photophile, tells a charming personal account of his journey through film photography. It all started with an Italian camera for 127 film and passed through several Spotmatics. Read My Favorite Camera Is Not My Best Camera, Nor Is It My Favorite Camera

📷 Mike Connealy picked up a Hikari 2002 35mm SLR recently and put it through its paces. You’ve never heard of the Hikari 2002? You might know it better as the Vivitar V3800N. Read Dumpster diving for cameras

📷 The Rollei 16 was a tiny spy camera for 16mm film in special cartridges. Nicholas Middleton found some original film for his Rollei 16, long expired, and shot it. He got surprisingly good results. Read Rollei 16 Cassettes

Standard
Personal

A visit to Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center

Heaven Hill

We went to Heaven Hill Distilleries and found no distillery there.

There used to be one there, until Nov. 7, 1996, when one of Heaven Hill’s warehouses caught fire. It is thought that lightning struck it. The resulting inferno destroyed it and several other warehouses, consuming 90,000 barrels of bourbon. The fire also destroyed the distillery.

Heaven Hill bought the Bernheim distillery in Louisville and now distills all of their whiskeys there. They then truck the distillate to this facility, just outside Bardstown, where it is barreled and aged.

Heaven Hill
Heaven Hill

On our visit we got to walk through their visitor center and their bonded warehouse. If you’ve ever seen a bourbon labeled “Bottled in Bond,” it was made at a single distillery by one distiller in one distillation season, it was aged for at least four years in a bonded (government supervised) warehouse, was bottled at 100 proof, and its label tells where it was distilled and where it was aged. This 1897 law was meant to protect consumers from adulterated whiskeys, cut with iodine or rust — which was a problem at that time.

Heaven Hill

Heaven Hill makes a couple dozen different whiskeys spanning price ranges from the bottomest of the bottom shelf to some mighty tasty and expensive stuff. We sampled five of them before we left, all delicious in their own ways.

Heaven Hill, by the way, is the largest independent, family-owned distiller of spirits in the United States. The other large distilleries are owned by national and global corporations. Heaven Hill remains headquartered in Kentucky.

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe!

Standard
Maker's Mark Distillery *EXPLORED*

Low stone wall
Nikon FA, 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 AI-s Zoom Nikkor
Arista EDU 200
2019

My decision to part with my Nikon FA hasn’t sat well with me since I wrote Verdict: Goodbye on its Operation Thin the Herd post. Logically, I own too many Nikon bodies and that this one’s winding lever keeps poking me in the forehead means I will shy away from using it. The whole point of Operation Thin the Herd is to shrink the collection to a set of cameras I’ll use regularly and enjoy.

There is, however, no denying the FA’s brilliant metering system. Just look at how much shadow detail it captured here. A camera as capable as this one probably deserves another chance.

I shot this at the Maker’s Mark Distillery. Margaret and I were struck by how much the Kentucky countryside reminded us of Ireland, except the farms were not divided in Kentucky by low stone walls as they were in Ireland. Then we came upon this most Irish of low stone walls.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Film Photography

single frame: Low stone wall

.

Image
Personal

Who knew that a closet shelf could be structural?

This is the situation at our rental house.

A support beam failed under the house. The crawl space is too shallow to work in, or even to survey the damage, so we’ve had the floors ripped up in one room and soon in another.

This home was built in about 1890; the room with the failed beam was a later addition. As so often happens with older homes, investigating one repair reveals the need for several more. In our case, we found past repairs and improvements that weakened other support beams. One floor joist was cut in two when the last furnace was installed. Also, water damage has rotted the sill along one wall.

How the beam failed is a sad story. A couple of our sons ripped the carpet out. We decided to lay laminate wood flooring throughout so I stacked all of the flooring bundles in this bedroom. It was easily a ton of flooring.

One of our sons has a friend who’s experienced in construction and he was over to remove shelves from this bedroom’s closet so it could be reconfigured. When he knocked out the first shelf, this whole side of the house groaned and the floor shifted beneath him.

We think this is what happened: the foundation was already weak, and the walls were bearing a lot of stress. Putting a ton of flooring bundles in this bedroom only exacerbated it. That shelf had, in a way, become structural, like the keystone of an arch.

We’ve consulted with a structural engineer, who’s given us great advice. Our son and his best friend have enough experience in this arena that, with the engineer’s guidance, they can do the repairs — and turn this from being a major financial disaster into merely another demoralizing setback. They’ve expressed interest in doing the work.

But that’s a lot to ask of a couple guys who already work for a living and, in the case of our son Jeff, is about to become a father. We have other options, including hiring pros and just selling the house as is. I’m not sure what’s best. Margaret and I keep trying to talk about it but, frankly, it’s overwhelming.

Standard
My Old Kentucky Home

My old Kentucky home
Nikon FA, 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 AI-s Zoom Nikkor
Arista EDU 200
2019

At first, I thought this little cabin was the original My Old Kentucky Home and the big house up the hill came later to replace it. But it turns out that the cabin is only a spring house, built to keep the water supply clean.

It also turns out that the song My Old Kentucky Home isn’t actually about this place, even though that’s what this place is called. The song is about a failing farm and a slave who knows he’s going to be sold to help cover expenses. The song shines a light on the slave’s plight.

This home belonged to Stephen Foster, who co-wrote the song. It and its expansive grounds are now My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown.

I continue to be deeply impressed with this film, Arista EDU 200, which is the same emulsion as Fomapan 200.

If you’d like to get more of my photography in your inbox or reader, click here to subscribe.

Film Photography, History

single frame: My old Kentucky home

.

Image