Thursday, February 21, 2008

Eight is enough things to know about me (or 10 base 8)

As an avid reader, my library card is extremely handy in preventing the house from being completely overrun by piles of books I have picked up and refuse to be rid of. Pictured is one of the earliest books I've collected that I'm fairly certain was mine from the beginning, rather than a hand-me-down or second hand purchase (I have a ton of paper backs like James Bond novels from the 60's in that category). This one is copyright 1958, 1960; second printing 1962, so it coincides with Miss Barlow's report card.

I remember graduating from a Children's card to an Adult card at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, so I could take out up to 10 books at a time, rather than the limit of 3 or so I had earlier. Plus I could borrow from any section other than reference, not just the children's section. Moreover, I could visit any library in the city and return it locally. Awesome to a walker.

While I don't remember this directly, my Mom tells the story that when I moved up from kindergarten to first grade, I came home upset at the end of my first day. When asked what was wrong, I supposedly told her I was not able to read yet. I had been promised I would learn to read in the first grade, and it just didn't happen! Of course, this was a time when kindergarten wasn't as structured and pushy as now.

The Giant Golden Book of Mathematics has well-illustrated short stories about a wide range of physical, numerical and spatial concepts, and is well beyond the dry boring tone of most text books. It turns out the author was a social activist as well (see: I'm still using what I learned from that book to this day, as I often run computer benchmark programs to generate prime numbers with techniques illustrated as The Sieve of Eratosthenes and explained in the section Numbers We Cannot Split.

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