Tag Archives: Books

I’m a geek

24 Apr

Yesterday as I was driving to work, my mind turned once again to the fuel consumption gauge on our car.  It said that our average fuel consumption was about 10.5 km/L (just about 25MPG for you folks south of the 49th).  I wondered how that compared to our previous Volvo, but in that car, the fuel consumption was expressed as L per 100 km.  I could remember that our average in that car was about 8.5 L / 100 km, but had no idea if we were doing better or worse.  I’d been meaning to attempt a conversion ever since we got the new car, but would always forget about it by the time I got to wherever I was going.  Yesterday, though, I suddenly thought of it again at lunchtime, so I got out a scrap piece of paper and started scribbling equations.

PROBLEM A

10.5 km =    x L     
     1L         100 km

PROBLEM B

  8.5 L    =   x km  
100 km        1 L

I don’t remember precisely when we started doing algebra in school (around grade 5 or 6?) but I do remember wondering, after we’d been at it for a year or more, whether math was ever going to be anything other than algebra ever again.  What, aren’t we done with this stupid algebra stuff yet?  Math was by far my least favourite (and worst) subject.

And yet now I positively delight in real-world algebra problem.  And I enjoy long division and multiplication, too.  Although I can generally work out an approximate 15% tip in my head in a few seconds, I actually love doodling the problem on a restaurant napkin.  Nothing’s more fun than multiplying by 1.15!  What the heck has happened to me?

On the other hand, I shudder when I think about mentally converting Fahrenheit to Celsius and although I’ve started to get a feel for that bizarre empirical system, it’s only because the Volvo dealership in Bellingham, WA (where the car was purchased) wasn’t able to convert the thermometer to metric units.  And so I am being forced to look at Fahrenheit every day.  I still say you Fahrenheit people are weird.

Well, I know you’re all dying to know the answers, so I’ll put you out of your misery.  Actually, the way I originally wrote out the equations didn’t really make sense, so ignore them; I finally figured out I just had to take the inverse of each ratio (and multiply by 100 in the first case).  Clear as mud?  Whatever, the answer is that with the old Volvo, we were getting about 11.7 km/L.  So we were doing a little better with the old Volvo, but it had one less cylinder and we did only highway driving, so I guess it’s pretty comparable.

Anyway, the point is, I just as much of a geek as I ever was in my entire life.  I’m still a bookworm.  I still wear glasses.  My fashion sense is still a little sketchy.  (But thank God I no longer wear braces and the skin situation has cleared up!)  There were times when I was growing up that I paid for my geekdom, but now I like to think that it contributed to the wonderfully compassionate nature I have today.  (And, you know, modest, too!  Ha!)  The great thing is, being a geek when you’re an adult… isn’t such a bad thing.

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You asked…

9 Apr

Hee hee!  Some fun stuff here!

MommyTime asked…

  1. What is one book you love and why?
  2. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you pick and why?
  3. And what’s something you looove to eat?

One book I love to read

Oooh, MommyTime, you asked me some toughies!  ONE book I love?  How to choose?!  It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of juvenile fiction; classics like The Secret Garden, Five Children and It, and A Little Princess I’ve read over and over again over the years, and I’ve also found many more modern tales that I love. 

But let’s see, if I had to choose something a little more mature, I’d probably pick Like Water for Chocolate.  It’s a romantic novel, but it has a fairy-tale flair to it that I can’t resist.  And it’s written like a cross between a cook-book and a diary.  What girl can resist good food (especially with chocolate in it!) and a little gossip?  I also love the idea of ones emotions flowing into ones creations, the way Tita’s flows into her cooking, inflaming the eaters of her food with the same feelings.  The Chinese believe in this, too; one should be happy and joyful when cooking because that energy is transferred into the dish.

Oooh, but then there’s The Time-Traveler’s Wife, and the recently discovered Thursday Next series.  Stop me now or I’ll never stop…

A place I’d like to travel

I was having some notions of travelling to Taiwan this year.  Taiwan is where my mother grew up, and where that whole side of the family still lives.  The last time I was there, I was about 6 years old, so I only have splashes of memories: waking up to the cock crowing, children teasing me and my sister through the screen door of my grandparents’ house, calling us “big nose”, bright red (hibiscus?) flowers, crowded streets on the back of my grandfather’s motorbike.

The last time I saw my maternal grandparents was when they came to visit us in Northern Ontario back in, hmm, 1993, perhaps?  My grandfather has since died, and I would love an opportunity to get to know my grandmother a bit before it’s too late.  Particularly with this pregnancy, though, I don’t know if going to Taiwan in high summer is a good idea.

And someday I want to go back to that little place in Mexico where my sister got married in November.  Maybe just with Michael this time.  *dreamy sigh*

Something I love to eat

Oh dear, again, how to choose?  You see, I looooove food, and I love such a variety of foods.  I sure have been having a lot of chocolate lately.  (Michael accuses me of making our future child chemically imbalanced, but I read a study somewhere that says pregnant moms who eat chocolate once a day have happier babies.  So there.  Pbththt!)  Right now, if I could choose one thing to have that absolutely looove, it would be my mom’s spring rolls.  She would make her own skins and it’s a ton of work to make the stuffing and then roll the darn things and then deep-fry them.  But damn!  They’re worth it.  If only we hadn’t been living apart for the last 14 years, I’m sure I would have learned by now how to make them just her way.

Thanks for the great questions, MommyTime!  I’m going to stop here for tonight — more answers to more questions next time! — because I really need to get some work done in the kitchen.  Michael’s away and Jade and I had sandwiches for supper because we were running late.  I need to create something for lunch tomorrow and plan something a little more complete for tomorrow night’s meal. 

That’s assuming we end up even going to work/daycare tomorrow, of course.  There’s chicken pox going around at the daycare and they think maybe Jade has it.  I’ll be counting spots in the morning…

Seeing things

17 Feb

Do you ever wonder if your kids can actually see things that you can’t? I know Jade’s eyesight is far better than mine, but I’m pretty sure I would spot a fish on our ceiling, or a chicken on our piano. We were sitting together in the rocking chair in the living room, Jade relaxing with a bottle after the walk we had with Nanuq (pleasant at -2° C). We were rocking and Jade would occasionally point to some random spot and tell me there was an animal there. She seems to be getting a bit of a cold again, but I don’t think she’s sick enough to be hallucinating.

I know it’s probably just her imagination and she’s just practicing her words, but I think it’s such a lovely, fanciful idea that children might be able to see things we’ve forgotten how to see.

It reminds me of a book I have on my juvenile fiction bookshelf: Julie, by Cora Taylor (who happens to be a Canadian author). The little girl in the book can see things that others can’t and also develops psychic powers. One of my favourite parts is a scene where Julie points at the autumn leaves falling from a tree and describes them as “dancers”; her family wonders where she could have learned about ballerinas, little knowing that she can actually see fairies flitting about in the foliage. (Apologies for the artless attempt at alliteration — gah! Can’t stop!)

Julie’s abilities turn out to be quite a burden and responsibility for her, and I’m not so sure I’d want Jade to have to deal with that. But the idea does make me feel vaguely nostalgic; I wish I could recapture some of the imagination I know I once had.

Romance, fluff, and other stuff

13 Feb

I can’t quite remember when I first started reading Harlequins; sometime in my late teens, I think.  I had never thought of them as worthy reading material until I saw that they were regular fare for one of my smartest friends.  Oh yes, and I had a roommate who had to read one and analyze it for a university course.  So I gave them a try and they soon became an occasional part of my reading diet, sorta like a literary bag of chips: not much substance, done with quickly, and guiltily satisfying.

The trouble with reading Harlequins is that consuming too many is unhealthy.  Seriously.  One summer I was reading quite a lot of them and I could actually feel my view of the world getting skewed.  I knew that the way relationships are portrayed in these books was completely unrealistic, but I was getting sucked into the idealism.  I decided I’d better leave off the Harlequins if I didn’t want to damage my real-life relationship, and I went back to my staple of children’s literature, which is at least wholesome.

I still occasionally read a romance novel on holidays, though usually ones with a little more substance to them than the Harlequins.  And these days, there’s always some “chick lit” available if a different kind of fluff is called for.  But, just as healthy meal preparation has become more important since Jade started eating with us, reading choices in these times of limited leisure time are also more — I don’t know, what’s the word? — nourishing.

I guess that makes me a bit of a snob, but when faced with scarce resources — and time is certainly that — one must be at least a little picky.  Of course, one of my main sources of reading material these days is not from books at all, but from the 40 or so blogs I’m subscribed to in my feed reader, the majority of which are mommyblogs.  The neat thing about it is the ability to interact with the “characters” I’m reading about, getting to share ideas and to commiserate, which is something I find truly nourishing.  Even when I end up going to bed late after catching up with everyone.

What are your favourite reads?

Late fees

13 Feb

For the first time in my life, I had to renew a library book.  And I still ended up returning it late.  It was due on Friday, but I didn’t finish it until Friday night and just returned it today.  For that blasphemous infraction, I ended up paying a hefty late fee of… 10¢.  Wow, they’re so draconian over there at the library.  I didn’t have a dime, so I gave them a quarter and donated the extra 15¢.  How I love the library!