Archive for February 2007

Better Living Through Mathematics, Claims This Book

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

I found myself browsing in Barnes and Noble during lunch and a book caught my eye: a book that tapped into a primal vein and took me back to childhood.

You see, I was raised around numbers. My father was the business manager at a decorative supply store, which means, basically, that he kept the books. Whenever we had inventory, our living room would be filled with inventory slips that we would compile by hand.

Needless to say, math was always my best subject in school. Algebra, geometry, trig, calculus…then differential equations, linear algebra, and onward.

I left that behind to an extent when I left teaching; I no longer felt the need to crunch numbers for breakfast. Until I saw this book.

It’s called Geek Logik: 50 Foolproof Equations for Everyday Life by Garth Sundem, which humorously, and with tongue firmly in cheek, tries to reduce agonizing decisions down to algebraic equations that you plug and chug. It even comes equipped with a solar calculator.

For instance, if you’re wondering whether you should wake up five minutes earlier in the morning:

(Sa/Su)(IT/100L – Snooze/2) = W

Where: Sa = hours of sleep you’ll get tonight; Su = hours of sleep you need regularly “to remain civil with telemarketers”, I = importance of those extra 5 minutes (from 1-10), L = how much light is in your bedroom when you wake up (1-10), T = temperature of your bedroom in degrees Fahrenheit, and Snooze = how many times you hit the snooze button. If W > 1, you should wake up earlier, says Sundem.

It turns out Sundem has a blog. And if you want to find out who won the Oscar fashion contest? Here’s how.

Happiness is: Hot Running Water

Saturday, February 3rd, 2007

If ever you get complacent about life’s conveniences, try this: Since January 9, my mom and I have taken a hot shower only three times each.

And, no, we’re not smelling like ripe Limburger right about now. We have been able to keep up with hygiene, but not in a very comfortable manner. A badly leaking hot water pipe under our house forced us to take baths the old-fashioned way…out of a bucket, with hot water heated on a stove.

I’m not sure how it started, but I had noticed that our hot water would seem to run out quickly. We first got wind of what was going on when the gas company called us to discuss a high gas bill. At first, Mom didn’t think anything of it…she had used the oven recently and knew that our gas usually spikes when that happens. She didn’t expect the bill to be 10 times normal.

Further inspection found a hidden leak in our pipes. I also noticed warmth in the floor in my room, under which the hot water pipe runs. Put it all together and…my first thought was, “No way am I taking cold showers each morning.”

So, I was bathing myself out of a three-gallon bucket every morning for the better part of a month. I would add cold water to a potful of boiling hot water, then use a small scoop to pour the water over myself. I eventually ended up learning how to make efficient use of the hot water…I could wash my whole body and still have at least a basinful of hot water to shave with.

I was able to take a few hot showers…once when we left the hot water running so the plumber could diagnose the problem, and twice when we were off island for the weekend at my grandma’s house.

After what seemed like interminable delays, the plumber was finally able to fix the problem today, by rerouting the hot water around our house under the baseboard. My mom already celebrated with her first hot shower in a while, and I’ll get to do the same early tomorrow morning.

I guess I can look forward to a much lower water bill than normal this month.