history books

I’ve been reading more of Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures, and I’m finding it really awe-inspiring and thought-provoking. And I’m not even that much further in (haven’t been doing quite as much reading as I hoped, but such is life, and I read slowly).

Yesterday I read the part where some important guy (I forget who — one thing I’m having trouble with is all the names and titles in this book, but that happens with other books too, so it might just be me) — anyway, important guy (some higher-up in the military) is giving a speech to an assembly of staff from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and he commends them for their work. This is set in the years of WWII, so he tells them that they are helping the war effort as much as the soldiers on the frontlines.

And that got me thinking about how, in all my history lessons in school about the World Wars, no one ever mentions the researchers and scientists and engineers that had to invent and innovate and problem-solve to help “win the war”. I remember being told about the surge in women entering the workforce for jobs that involved things like sewing, cooking, and nursing; and I remember learning about large factories and warehouses that employed a lot of people; but I don’t remember being told about the recruitment drive for scientists and mathematicians.

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Meditations: prove me wrong

For several weeks now, I have been thinking of this quote from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, and I’ve been meaning to find it so that I could blog about it, but I either haven’t had time or, when I did have time, I just couldn’t find it.

During my first reading of Meditations (now a few years ago), I used some scrap paper to jot down some notes regarding noteworthy passages. For some of these, I copied out the passage (if it was short), and for some I simply noted the book and chapter numbers. I kept these scraps of paper as reminders — some within the pages of Meditations, and the rest on my bedside table. I had hoped that the quote I was thinking of would be on one of these but, alas, no luck.

But, no matter, I thought, there is a helpful index in the back of the copy I own, which can be used to find passages relating to various subject matter and concepts, so I tried this next. I pondered over words that might lead me to the passage, but these either did not take me to where I wanted to go, or they did not exist in the index.

As a last resort — or perhaps just a despairing effort — I flipped through to random pages, hoping to find it by pure luck or coincidence. (Keep in mind that I didn’t do all this searching in one day; it was spread over several weeks, whenever I thought of it and had time.) Unsurprisingly, this tactic proved fruitless too.

Last night, however, I was really determined to find it. I was so determined that I resolved to go through each entry in the index that was even remotely relevant, starting with A and working through the entire index to Z.

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music lessons

I had mentioned in my last post that I was learning to play the piano. This has been going on since January this year, and was a decision made on various factors. The main reason I wanted to learn piano (or any instrument at all) was because, after enjoying listening to classical music so much, I wanted to also know how to play it. I suppose it’s not too dissimilar to the desire to write being born from a love of reading.

All through primary school, weekly music classes were mandatory. For younger children, if I remember correctly, this consisted mostly of singing and learning about rhythm. From Grade 3 or 4, we were made to buy recorders, and were taught how to read sheet music. Continue reading

another obscure review: Complete Persian

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be in Geelong to visit family. While there, my sister took me to the local library, which is quite modern, like it was recently renovated. I was rather impressed, but, as I wandered over to the language section, I still didn’t have high hopes of finding anything in Persian. Amazingly, though, they did have one!

The book in question was Teach Yourself: Complete Persian (Modern Persian/Farsi) by Narguess Farzad. I’m calling this an obscure review because it is unlikely to have any relevance/interest to anyone I know, but I’m writing this anyway because I feel compelled to, and, who knows, maybe there’s someone out there looking for reviews of Persian textbooks… Continue reading

a revision of goals and reading

[This post is a continuation from my post last week about reading goals.]

Going from reading to study, I’ve decided to commit at least another two years to my self-guided Persian/Farsi studies. I think I will need the rest of this year to finish working my way through the text book I bought, and then another year to be able to read The Little Prince and other texts that my friend has lent me. I’m not sure that all of this will enable me to hold an actual conversation with someone, but I hope I can reach a level of proficiency that I’m happy with and that my friend approves of.

And while on the topic of study, I suppose I ought to announce some sort of commitment to my CPD (continuing professional development). Last year, I attained the requisite 40 CPD points reasonably early on in the year, and very much neglected it for the rest of the year in favour of Persian and other things. Now I’m at a point where I feel like my knowledge is not nearly as polished as it used to be, and I realise I need to make this a regular thing rather than a “cram as many CPD activities into the shortest amount of time” thing. This will probably mean regular reading of Pharmacy journals, and maybe watching online lectures when I can. Continue reading

learning English by learning Persian

At the end of July, when I was waiting at Cairns Airport for my flight back home, I had the idea to translate my “rationalising my commute” poem thing into Persian. It was going to be my next project/assignment to help prod me along with my studies.

This idea came to me because I was re-reading it for some reason (I occasionally go back and re-read things I wrote months or years ago), and it occurred to me that I probably knew a lot of the words in Persian. I jotted down some of these, which wasn’t really that much, but it was enough to give me the feeling that this was an achievable goal.  Continue reading