Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Water Weeds

Under the surface of the lake little fish quickly swim between the weeds or sit on top of clumps of leaves. In one Harry Potter movie, Harry had to swim down into a lake with huge plants like these. Strange underwater creatures that seemed to be half-human lived at the bottom of the lake. At Silver Lake in Michigan, the water weeds that Len photographed this morning are much more ordinary.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Harry Potter and the Twisted Bridge

The Millenium Bridge over the Thames River is a very beautiful bridge that we visited on a trip to London in 2002 -- the picture shows how we saw it on a nice summer day. Lots of people were walking across the bridge, which was pretty new at that time.

In the latest Harry Potter movie, evil flying witches make the bridge shake in a special way and fall into the river. I thought this was very interesting and definitely exciting to see. Only one or two bridges have ever twisted and fallen this way.

I took the next picture from the top floor of a big museum, the Tate Modern, that stands on the river bank near the bridge. We went there with our friends Sheila and John. And the picture right after that shows how it twisted in the movie.

From an article in Popular Mechanics:

I was curious about how the movie makers created such a real-looking disaster. After all, the bridge did once shake some, but engineers and architects worked on it until it was very safe and in fact fun to walk across. Look at me on the bridge -- calm and smiling. No evil witches!

I was really interested in the Popular Mechanics article about how the Harry Potter movie makers created a computer version of the bridge in order to make the part of the movie about how the evil witches destroyed it. The real-live architects let the movie people have the designs that they used when they made the bridge -- modern bridges are designed in computers. But imaginary bridges can also be in computers.

The movie makers hired around 20 special computer programmers, working for a man named Tim Burke, who figured out how to make a really dramatic disaster look like it happened to the safe real bridge. They had to use some really good mathematical skills to make the bridge fall apart so realistically. Here are some technical details:
While the CG [Computer Generated] bridge is identical in every way to the actual Millennium Bridge, Burke acknowledges there was some artistic interpretation when it came to its collapse. This is magic, after all. "We did a dynamics simulation and proved that individual panels of the walkway would detach and fall into the Thames, but this was not as interesting as we wanted," Burke says. So filmmakers spent a lot of time watching footage of actual collapses—including the fall of Washington's Tacoma Narrows bridge in 1940. "It showed how a suspension bridge would twist and roll like a sine wave created through a vibration, which the Millennium Bridge suffered from itself when it first opened," Burke says. Londoners nicknamed the Millennium Bridge the Wobbly Bridge shortly after its opening; the bridge was closed and modified to eliminate the vibration. "We took this idea and then developed it for the collapse, having the Death Eaters fly around the bridge in a spiral motion to create the twisting that brings the bridge down."
Here's another picture showing our friend John and me on the bridge. The building with the big smoke stack is the Tate Modern.

Sunday, July 05, 2009



This was almost the only spectator at the July 4th parade in the Burns Park neighborhood. (In case it's not obvious, it's a sort of scarecrow!) All the rest of the people were marching in the parade except a few on the bench at the park entrance on Granger.

Evelyn's last time in the parade was in 1977. She won a prize. This year, there were no prizes; just lots of kids on bikes and various people walking around the block and into the park for watermelon.


Monkey Bars

When Evelyn was a little girl she was very good friends with Robin and Lissa who lived across the street. Now Robin has a little girl named Katie, who played with Miriam and Alice today. Here they are on one of the climbing structures in the park this morning.

Miriam and Alice did a lot of tricks on the various kinds of monkey bars in Burns park on two different days. Here are some of the tricks.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Cleaning House

Today I am cleaning my house. When I was a girl, people worried a lot about having a clean house. My Aunt Bernadine kept her apartment very clean, but her neighbor, who lived in the apartment upstairs, was really always cleaninig and worrying. The neighbor (who was another relative's relative as well as a neighbor) cleaned her apartment ALL the time, and talked about it, too. She didn't like any people to come into her house because they might bring dirt with them.

One day, the neighbor got a new white rug for her living room. She wanted her friends to see it. But she didn't want them in her house. She waited until Aunt Bernadine invited some of the friends to visit. Then she invited them, one at a time to come upstairs. She opened the door to her apartment. She let them look at her new rug -- but didn't let them walk on it.

One reason I thought about Aunt Bernadine and her super-clean neighbor, is that the New York Times today had a story about how New York is a very dirty city. They said that people have to try very hard to keep from having a lot of dirt brought in from the street, especially if their apartment had a white rug. One couple in the story said that every day when they came home from work, they changed into clean, indoor clothes: shorts and t-shirts. Their washer and dryer were in a closet right by the front door so that outside clothes never needed to be in the clean parts of the apartment. And they hardly ever invited "strangers" inside. Just like Aunt Bernadine's neighbor, I thought.


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