Thursday, March 27, 2008


Ninety-six must be my lucky number because it is the grade I got on both my recent exams. I'm so worn out, I can only feel happy about these grades in a dim sort of way, as if they were earned by someone other than myself.

Reading extracurricular books is the only thing that is keeping me sane (barely) these days. I'm currently reading Lost Discoveries by Dick Teresi. It's about the scientific and mathematic contributions of the non-Western, ancient world. Interesting, and shakes up the conventional notion that all science and math began with the Greeks, who themselves were quick to credit the Egyptians with some of what they knew. I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around some of the concepts, particularly in the astronomy chapter. How ancient people, with no instruments, rudimentary number systems (zero is a relatively recent concept), managed to predict solar eclipses is beyond me.

I'm thinking it's a kind of poverty that our calendar is all laid out for us, that the position of the moon and stars has no meaning in our lives. Think about what people did before there was a clear understanding of the length of a year. Studying the skies was of life and death importance. Imagine the weather warms after a long period of cold. Is it time to start planting, or are you experiencing a mid-winter thaw? We don't have to think about these things now. The seed packets and our calendars tell us when to plant.

Maybe "poverty" isn't the right word, since, obviously, having all these things figured out for us is an enormous benefit, but I am so clueless about what I am seeing when I look at the night sky, it's sad. I'm going to start paying attention to the sky, maybe following the path of one set of stars as the year progresses, and see what I learn.

I also just read Gormenghast, which was fabulous. It's the middle book of a fantasy trilogy. (The first, Titus Groan, is also excellent. I have not yet read the third book, Titus Alone. I'm not really into fantasy fiction , but these books are something else. For one thing, the setting is very real. And the author, Mervyn Peake, who illustrated the books, is the most fabulously descriptive writer I've ever read.

There's also a bonus movie, which I can't wait to see once the semester ends. It's one of those elaborate BBC miniseries, I gather, and stars Jonathan Rhys Myers as the villain, Steerpike.

People are sometimes surprised that I have time to do outside reading when I'm so busy with school, but there are a lot of things I don't do that allow me time to read. I watch very little TV. I don't run meaningless errands and I rarely shop for anything other than groceries. I don't think I've spent money on anything but groceries or gas since the semester started.

just for fun


  1. I have been DYING to read Gormenghast ever since I saw the movie on TV years ago. It was an incredible visual sight and I've wondered what the book would be like. Now I have to find both the book AND movie!!

  2. They have the movie at Sneak Reviews. I'm glad to hear you liked it, because you are the person I rely on to tell me if movies are good or not!

  3. NINETY-SIX are you effin' kidding me -- those are AWESOME grades. :) *thunderous applause*

    Ninety-six is such a delightfully perfect grade. Actually I like 96, 97, and 98. 100 is too pious, 99 is too frustrating, and 95 and below are just okay. Ninety six is right in the sweet spot.


    I like grades.

  4. congrats on the awesome grades.

    i got a score of 89 on the booze test. how is that for good grades?