a literary numbers lessons

Time to rewind to the end of July. This is the post I would have written last week had I had the time.

On the last Saturday of July, I went to my first book club meeting. It makes it sound incredibly formal to call it a “meeting” but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to call it. It was actually very casual: we (a group of about nine people plus dog) sat around a big table eating pizza while chatting about the club’s book of the month.

I’d wanted to find and join book clubs before, but since I’m not a very fast reader, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up, and would end up skipping a lot of meetings, or just giving up. The other reason I never joined one was because I was worried about getting “stuck” reading book club selections, and never having time for the books I really wanted to read.

Yet it’s always such a joy to meet other bookish people, and to have other readers to talk to about bookish things. Literary past-times tend to slip out of people’s lives once they leave school, so it’s been hard to find other bookish people (with similar tastes). Continue reading

counting progress

Maths is not my forte. That’s what I tell people anyway. Sure, I did reasonably well at maths in high school, but I’m sure at least some of that was a fluke. And, yes, I have been known to use the word “fun” in describing maths, but I did not like trigonometry, I thought financial maths was tedious, and statistics is one of the most boring things I’ve ever had to study.

But I do have a fascination with numbers and statistics. There is a part of me that is curious about averages and percentages and ranges and trends.

It’s so easy these days to keep track of things like steps walked, kilometres run, blog views, comments, pages read, words written, money spent…

But it’s also tiring. So very tiring.  Continue reading

4th grade confession

My colleagues and I have some interesting conversations around the lunch table sometimes. I reckon most of the time, the conversation starts with something seemingly benign, and then, tangent after tangent, it develops into something completely different.

The other day, we got around to the topic of cheating. I can’t remember where it started, but that’s where it ended. We weren’t talking about cheating in a relationship, but just general cheating, and someone made the comment that they reckon I would never cheat on an exam (or something to that effect). To which, being the honest person that I am, I had to make a confession. It was something that I’m pretty sure I’ve never, ever told anyone, but for one reason or another, I thought it was time to release this secret from the depths of my conscience.

The incident happened in grade four (yes, I’ve been living with this secret since I was eight or nine years old). There was a big maths test at some point in the year, and I’d gotten 100% on it. After all the tests had been marked, the teacher returned them to us, and she went through all the questions with the class so that we’d know where we went wrong. Part of the exam was about the use of the greater than / less than symbols (> and <); and it was in this section that I realised that I’d actually gotten a question wrong…

In my defence, she went through that section pretty quickly – at least, it was too quick for my young brain to register and process what had just happened. Of course, just looking at it, I knew that it was wrong, so it didn’t really matter that she’d already moved on to the next section.

But I was shattered. My 100% was a lie. I wasn’t sure whether or not to say anything – the question itself was probably only worth 0.01% or something petty. What difference does it make if I get 99.99% or 100%?

I think, at the time, I knew that I should say something about it to the teacher, but I just didn’t. I decided to ignore it, and swallowed the guilt. Maybe if someone had told me that I’d still be living with the guilt after >15 years, I might have chosen a different path.

And I don’t know if it technically is cheating, per se, but I suppose it’s similar to how an omission of truth could be considered lying. For the record, I’ve never cheated in an exam since then, and I don’t think I’ve ever cheated in an exam before then either. It was just that one time, I swear!