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(Slate)   Some days, the internet will punch you in the gut, insult your mother, and make you wish for eye bleach. Other days, it solves a 20-year-old riddle about a dying grandmother's cryptic last note   (slate.com) divider line 51
    More: Cool, MetaFilter, grandmother  
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14836 clicks; posted to Main » on 22 Jan 2014 at 9:37 AM (35 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-22 09:32:46 AM
Reminds me of the GCHQ recruitment thread we had a while back, where farkers collectively figured out all of the puzzles in a matter of hours.

The power of collaboration should not be underestimated.
 
2014-01-22 09:41:15 AM
This story made me smile this morning. You go, internet.
 
2014-01-22 09:41:43 AM
Ok.... This is cool. I hope it gives the family some comfort.
 
2014-01-22 09:43:49 AM
Wait, so...not a treasure map? Thanks a lot, grandma.
 
2014-01-22 09:44:30 AM
The difference being, of course, that if there is any personalized phrasing whatsoever in the Gramm-onyms, any decoding is going to be of necessity ambiguous because the only person who truly knows what it means is dead.

Having said that, searching for prayer phrases obviously has shown some results, and at least gives a flavor of what Granny was thinking in her final days on Earth during a time she couldn't effectively communicate.

/Distaffbopper knows that if I'm conventionally uncommunicative, to look for signs of Morse.
//She doesn't know Morse code, but knows people who do.
 
2014-01-22 09:45:43 AM
that is pretty awesome and if somewhere in there is "DFTDYO" (don't forget to drink your Ovaltine) I would be happy :p
 
2014-01-22 09:46:49 AM
That's a hell of an insight to have.
 
2014-01-22 09:47:09 AM
Neat. But the Ask Metafilter color scheme hurts my head
 
2014-01-22 09:50:05 AM
So prayin' didn't help.
 
2014-01-22 09:55:01 AM

jtown: So prayin' didn't help.


Maybe it helped a dying woman cope with her situation...?  All of us lie to ourselves everyday, sometimes it's socially acceptable, sometimes not.
 
2014-01-22 09:56:06 AM

jtown: So prayin' didn't help.


Don't be a c*nt.
 
2014-01-22 10:01:14 AM

RedTank: jtown: So prayin' didn't help.

Maybe it helped a dying woman cope with her situation...?  All of us lie to ourselves everyday, sometimes it's socially acceptable, sometimes not.


Hey, I'm about as areligious as you can get without being an asshole atheist, but I would never, ever knock the power of prayer to provide comfort in a situation where you know you are dying.

Even if all it's doing is providing psychological comfort akin to a placebo, it can still be a powerful coping mechanism for people who believe, and more power to them if they find peace and acceptance of their fate that way.
 
2014-01-22 10:02:51 AM
Those people need to help me with "S." I suck at codes.
 
2014-01-22 10:06:35 AM

dittybopper: Hey, I'm about as areligious as you can get without being an asshole atheist, but I would never, ever knock the power of prayer to provide comfort in a situation where you know you are dying.

Even if all it's doing is providing psychological comfort akin to a placebo, it can still be a powerful coping mechanism for people who believe, and more power to them if they find peace and acceptance of their fate that way.


megarian: jtown: So prayin' didn't help.

Don't be a c*nt.


Agreed.  jtown is probably just trolling, but whatever.
 
2014-01-22 10:13:54 AM

jtown: So prayin' didn't help.


You are a terrible human being, and this really has nothing to do with your religious beliefs/lack therof.

/Have fun gloating over her suffering
 
2014-01-22 10:16:08 AM
"Drink more Ovaltine"?
 
2014-01-22 10:17:47 AM
Wasn't this a movie starring Nicolas Cage?
 
2014-01-22 10:18:11 AM

Felgraf: jtown: So prayin' didn't help.

You are a terrible human being, and this really has nothing to do with your religious beliefs/lack therof.

/Have fun gloating over her suffering




Just hit the ignore button like I did.
 
2014-01-22 10:21:12 AM
No buried treasure or dirty family secrets not even a "Be sure to drink your ovaltine"? What a rip off. But still kinda cool.
 
2014-01-22 10:25:07 AM

someonelse: Those people need to help me with "S." I suck at codes.


Some others may embrace old numbers, except last Saturday evening.

So old mothers end on notes every living soul embodies.

And thus we have a graphic example of the futility of successfully spotting non-standardized text within the card. Both of the sentences above use the letters of your username in order as the initial letter of each word in the sentence.

Unless you can find examples of formal prayers or of her prior writing that match 100% or nearly so, it will be largely impossible to figure out what large swaths of those letters mean.
 
2014-01-22 10:29:21 AM
What happened to Little Orphan Annie?
 
2014-01-22 10:29:39 AM
R
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theanalyticalcouchpotato.files.wordpress.com

/BTW, Ovaltine is sh*t now that Nestle bought out the company and turned it into Quik in a slightly more expensive jar
 
2014-01-22 10:34:49 AM

dittybopper: Reminds me of the GCHQ recruitment thread we had a while back, where farkers collectively figured out all of the puzzles in a matter of hours.

The power of collaboration should not be underestimated.


Wow, I remember reading the start of that thread but forgot about it when life go busy. I didn't know you lot finished the job! That was some incredible reading! Terrific work!

\mind blown
\\much smart
\\\wow
 
2014-01-22 10:41:58 AM
No offense to Granny, but I think these Christmas Story comparisons are apt. They've had these mysterious codes for years, probably with all sorts of imaginative guesses as to what they were. My reaction really would have been

"It's a crappy PRAYER?! What a rip off!!"
 
2014-01-22 10:49:07 AM
Just looking quickly, the sequence PSTWA jumps out.

It occurs 11 times, most often ended by H for PSTWAH (4 times), next by A for PSTWAA (2 times), and one each for L, D, R, and G.

The guess in the thread "Please See That We Are" is a good one and fits the context, especially given that it's always at the beginning of a phrase as indicated by the commas, but the fact that it's repeated as often as it is consecutively makes me wonder if it is something a bit more formal than that.

Also, the reverse 'L' (square bracket in the transcribed version) appears to be a sentence or paragraph ending.
 
2014-01-22 10:55:04 AM
Ok, that was pretty cool & a good example of what can happen when one person has a good insight & a large group of reasonably intelligent people are pointed in the right direction.
 
2014-01-22 11:06:57 AM

Grapple: "Drink more Ovaltine"?


leaving.. wait a stupid commercial...  leaving not satisfied.
 
2014-01-22 11:15:04 AM
I don't imagine it was a note meant to communicate then, I take it to be a mnemonic device for a poor short term memory to keep its place. much like the function of rosary beads.
 
2014-01-22 11:21:10 AM
Items that are sad in this story:
Grandma dying.
That Grandma thinks what she did is a sly code worthy of her last communication on earth.  It's not exactly the Voynich manuscript. 
That Grandma filled her last message with desperate pleas to an unanswering god, rather than a message of love for her family.

/It's like a Russian nesting doll of feels
 
2014-01-22 11:29:58 AM

TV's Vinnie: R
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/BTW, Ovaltine is sh*t now that Nestle bought out the company and turned it into Quik in a slightly more expensive jar


Ovaltine is still being made. Chocolate malt is my favorite. I sent them a letter requesting to be their spokesperson; they sent a nice reply declining stating creative differences...
 
2014-01-22 11:41:38 AM

evilmousse: I don't imagine it was a note meant to communicate then, I take it to be a mnemonic device for a poor short term memory to keep its place. much like the function of rosary beads.


This.
 
2014-01-22 11:42:54 AM

Whiskey Dickens: That Grandma thinks what she did is a sly code worthy of her last communication on earth.


Don't you think more likely she was writing for herself, and didn't want to waste time or energy, given that she was rapidly running out of both?
 
2014-01-22 11:46:43 AM

someonelse: Whiskey Dickens: That Grandma thinks what she did is a sly code worthy of her last communication on earth.

Don't you think more likely she was writing for herself, and didn't want to waste time or energy, given that she was rapidly running out of both?


Definitely a possibility!
 
2014-01-22 11:55:58 AM
LeenaHyena:

Ovaltine is still being made. Chocolate malt is my favorite. I sent them a letter requesting to be their spokesperson; they sent a nice reply declining stating creative differences...

REAL Ovaltine isn't being made anymore. As I said, Nestle bought out the company and "reformulated" it. Now it's just Quik put into a jar that they can sell for higher prices than the same stuff in a Quik container.
 
2014-01-22 01:02:59 PM

TV's Vinnie: LeenaHyena:

Ovaltine is still being made. Chocolate malt is my favorite. I sent them a letter requesting to be their spokesperson; they sent a nice reply declining stating creative differences...

REAL Ovaltine isn't being made anymore. As I said, Nestle bought out the company and "reformulated" it. Now it's just Quik put into a jar that they can sell for higher prices than the same stuff in a Quik container.


Looked at the jar on the shelf... Nestle. Darn it, my bad. That letter was a few years ago. Did notice that the yummy gritty was missing from the bottom of the glass. What a shame...
 
2014-01-22 01:25:02 PM

jtown: So prayin' didn't help.


Not abbreviated praying, seemingly.
 
2014-01-22 02:03:19 PM
I'm just a little confused.  If the only parts they could decode were the rote prayers, what's actually been communicated to the family?  Just that the grandmother knew her rote prayers, and abbreviated them for whatever reason?  It's interesting to solve the mystery but is that comforting or informative to them?  It still just seems sad.
 
2014-01-22 02:20:20 PM

Far Cough: I'm just a little confused.  If the only parts they could decode were the rote prayers, what's actually been communicated to the family?  Just that the grandmother knew her rote prayers, and abbreviated them for whatever reason?  It's interesting to solve the mystery but is that comforting or informative to them?  It still just seems sad.


She wasn't likely trying to communicate anything to them at all. it was only the OP's assumption (at age 8) that it was a code left for her to break. Most likely the cards were written out as a mnemonic to help grandma focus on her prayers, similar to a rosary or beads (like someone upthread mentioned).
 
2014-01-22 02:25:26 PM

Crudbucket: Far Cough: I'm just a little confused.  If the only parts they could decode were the rote prayers, what's actually been communicated to the family?  Just that the grandmother knew her rote prayers, and abbreviated them for whatever reason?  It's interesting to solve the mystery but is that comforting or informative to them?  It still just seems sad.

She wasn't likely trying to communicate anything to them at all. it was only the OP's assumption (at age 8) that it was a code left for her to break. Most likely the cards were written out as a mnemonic to help grandma focus on her prayers, similar to a rosary or beads (like someone upthread mentioned).


Understood, but as I said it just seems sad, not "cool" (as per the tag) or newsworthy or uplifting.  I guess I might feel differently if I were the former 8-year-old; I hope they do feel better for it.
 
2014-01-22 02:30:10 PM
I can't help but think there was a confession involved since she repeated the lord's prayer multiple times in a row as if she was doing penance for her sins. Since she knew she was dying, it makes perfect sense that she was asking forgiveness of her past transgressions.  If she was confessing her sins, it would also explain the larger chunks of letters that remain undecipherable.

Smart mouthed your mother? That'll be five Our Fathers and two Hail Marys!
 
2014-01-22 02:51:21 PM
Looks like a nam shub to me.
 
2014-01-22 03:03:12 PM
That's actually an interesting story. Too bad it wasn't a treasure map or clues to future world disasters though.
 
2014-01-22 03:10:46 PM

Jument: That's actually an interesting story. Too bad it wasn't a treasure map or clues to future world disasters though.


img.fark.net
 
2014-01-22 03:58:42 PM

TV's Vinnie: R
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[theanalyticalcouchpotato.files.wordpress.com image 500x281]

/BTW, Ovaltine is sh*t now that Nestle bought out the company and turned it into Quik in a slightly more expensive jar


It's "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine"
 
2014-01-22 04:50:58 PM
It was quite simple patternoster analysis
 
2014-01-22 05:10:18 PM

dittybopper: The difference being, of course, that if there is any personalized phrasing whatsoever in the Gramm-onyms, any decoding is going to be of necessity ambiguous because the only person who truly knows what it means is dead.

Having said that, searching for prayer phrases obviously has shown some results, and at least gives a flavor of what Granny was thinking in her final days on Earth during a time she couldn't effectively communicate.

/Distaffbopper knows that if I'm conventionally uncommunicative, to look for signs of Morse.
//She doesn't know Morse code, but knows people who do.


she doesn't have to, she could just copy that into an internet browser field now
 
2014-01-22 06:53:47 PM

Astorix: Felgraf: jtown: So prayin' didn't help.

You are a terrible human being, and this really has nothing to do with your religious beliefs/lack therof.

/Have fun gloating over her suffering

Just hit the ignore button like I did.



I hit the funny button instead. Some of you people have no sense of humour.
 
2014-01-22 06:59:34 PM

Far Cough: Crudbucket: Far Cough: I'm just a little confused.  If the only parts they could decode were the rote prayers, what's actually been communicated to the family?  Just that the grandmother knew her rote prayers, and abbreviated them for whatever reason?  It's interesting to solve the mystery but is that comforting or informative to them?  It still just seems sad.

She wasn't likely trying to communicate anything to them at all. it was only the OP's assumption (at age 8) that it was a code left for her to break. Most likely the cards were written out as a mnemonic to help grandma focus on her prayers, similar to a rosary or beads (like someone upthread mentioned).

Understood, but as I said it just seems sad, not "cool" (as per the tag) or newsworthy or uplifting.  I guess I might feel differently if I were the former 8-year-old; I hope they do feel better for it.


Yeah, personally I'd be pissed if I were the former 8-year-old hoping for some message only to find out it was just religious ramblings. Most useless message ever. To think of all those years spent wondering what cool message it might have contained, only to get that. Should be a 'disappointment' tag for this.
 
2014-01-22 09:10:13 PM

loonatic112358: dittybopper: The difference being, of course, that if there is any personalized phrasing whatsoever in the Gramm-onyms, any decoding is going to be of necessity ambiguous because the only person who truly knows what it means is dead.

Having said that, searching for prayer phrases obviously has shown some results, and at least gives a flavor of what Granny was thinking in her final days on Earth during a time she couldn't effectively communicate.

/Distaffbopper knows that if I'm conventionally uncommunicative, to look for signs of Morse.
//She doesn't know Morse code, but knows people who do.

she doesn't have to, she could just copy that into an internet browser field now


But she'd have to recognize the difference between a dit and a dah, and she doesn't.
 
2014-01-23 01:03:47 AM
Meanwhile, in St. Louis:
mynorthwest.com
Found on the body of Ricky McCormick. The FBI's still offering a reward.

And San Francisco:
weburbanist.com
Sent by the Zodiac Killer.
 
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