Page 71 and counting

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I am reading “Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid.” It has been on my list for several years and I heard it mentioned on NPR a couple of weeks ago, (that is where I learned Godel rhymes with noodle-unless I misremember) which rekindled my thought that I should read this book. I got it from our community college library, which by the way, is catalogued according to Library of Congress rather than Dewey and thus it was very novel for me to have to ask how to find a book. He asked me how long I wanted to keep it. I stood there in stunned silence. “A month?” “That is our usual time, but you can have it longer if you need.”

I read the introduction and learned that the guy who wrote it had planned to write an essay, maybe a pamphlet when he set out. In case you are unfamiliar with this book it weighs in at 740 pages with barely 30 pages of endnotes and bibliography beyond that. Luckily for me it is full of pictures and little math games, and music too.

“What is it about?” I hear you ask. Godel was a mathematician towards the beginning of the last century I believe. Escher is the guy who drew all the posters you saw in dorm rooms with endless loops of stairs or a quilt turning into birds or the two hands drawing each other. Bach? “Ah, Bach,” as Radar said in MASH to his woman-friend. The author, Douglas R. Hofstadter whom I will now refer to as “the guy” because I am not typing that again, wanted to show us the way music and math and art all weave into each other through the Socratic thought process. I think. It is pretty tough to explain. The guy wants us to think of things in new ways and to question everything. Everything. I gave my daughter an example, “Is one and one always two?” Of course it is. But what if two raindrops were running down a window and joined? One and one are one in that case.

I think I have been reading it about a week –I am on page 71- and I hear something every day that makes me think of this book. Today on NPR (I listen to a lot of radio) they were talking about audio loops on TV shows, where you hear stuff going on in the background. They pay people to wander around and say random things so they can weave it through the dialogue you are supposed to be listening to. Background noise. I am just reading about negative space in art and math and music. *lightbulb lights up*

After a month, I will decide if I can get through this book. I don’t think I will be taking it to the beach this summer, although I probably could since the last person checked it out in 2002. They still use the little paper in the front of the book. No barcode or anything. Maybe GEB will help me with my seventh grade math homework. I have promised myself I will only read this or the book our book group is reading this month until I decide if I can handle it. My brain hasn’t been required to do this kind of thinking since I was in college and it may no longer be capable of deep thought.

I pointed out to my mother that I will not likely be tested over this, so if I find myself not understanding a concept I can just keep going until I get to something that makes more sense. So far that has worked.

Have any of you read this? Can you describe it better?

Random Things On My Mind Lately


When is a good time to stop by Walgreens to pick up my prescription? They were held up Wednesday for the second time in four months. (probably the same guy, but they haven’t caught him) I would have been there at about that time but I was having my PE teacher do my taxes and we ran late. The dude wanted prescription drugs, although apparently not birth control pills. The pharmacist came in the library that night and was still a little shaken. The next nearest Walgreens is 90 miles away.

Now that I no longer spend my time parsing my words for fear of their results I find I get PMS. I think I was too scared to before.

I spent half an hour on the phone with Sarah’s math teacher today. She keeps failing tests, but gets good grades on her homework. That is because I check it each night, which takes about an hour. Add that to the hour I spend checking Lydia’s math and you now know why I am not watching Downton Abbey or Outlander. Next year we can add another hour for Thomas. Our current babysitter is good in math, which has cut down on this some.

My poor sons. They want me to read to them, or spend some kind of time with them, but it seems after supper we have math. They need another parent.

“Wanted: husband with math skills and driver’s license. Please send junior high transcript and photo of minivan.”

I say this, but my kids got snowed in last weekend with their dad, and my boyfriend drove five hours Monday to get them so I could go to work. And he lets me say mean things to him when I have PMS. He can’t help the girls with their math, although he told me he can throw a dart with a rope on it over a haystack and tell me how many tons of hay are in the stack then balance a ration for pregnant cows. So far Saxon math has not covered this.  Maybe in eighth grade.

I got five calls from Zach’s first grade teacher about his behavior in January (there were only three weeks in this January) He was mostly not paying attention to the teacher and goofing off. According to ‘The Birth Order Book’ he is a little behind schedule in the whole goofing off thing.

If a can of beer has 12 ounces and a gallon has 128 ounces…ten and a half beers is a gallon.

Do any of you watch the Bachelor?

Not related to the Bachelor, we have a guy studying for the bar in our library. He told me he was at a conference a while ago where Sarah Koenig from Serial spoke.