Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Okay, this was a totally amazing book. I was thrilled to read it. The thing about this book for me was how it made me totally appreciate what J. does as an occupation - - statistics, playing with numbers, making code, etc...etc... Let me just say, for the first time in four years I was actually having math conversations with my husband. Amazing!

Unfortunately, I had to return the book TODAY (or pay a late fee, which I was not willing to sacrifice) and so my thoughts might be a bit choppy because I'm going on shorthanded notes here. This won't be so much an essay as it is a bunch of my favorite stuff all globbed together.

My FAVORITE quote from the ENTIRE book:

"There is no place in the world for ugly math." (p.171)
I thought it was hilarious at the beginning of the book where it says it was a "high risk decision to work in isolation" because it made me think "How high risk can a math profession really be?" But then in reading the amazing history linked to this one problem just made that riskiness come alive. I was totally nervous for Wiles when that other guy wrote in that there was no truth to Fermat's Therom while Wiles was in the process of trying to solve the one error in his original proof. Crazy!
It was also profound to me how we take numbers for granted. Numbers are just a normal part of life, but in reading this book you come to realize that everything had to be discovered. I mean, it's pretty simple that there is ONE of something and if you add ONE more something to that something then you get TWO somethings. But, someone had to figure that all out and then discover that there is an infinite amount of numbers.
J. and I also got a laugh at the story of Gombaud and his gambling game where he asked Pascal to use probability to figure out who got the money (since the game had to end abruptly or something). Ha! J. and I have lots of discussions about probability (have you played Settler's of Catan??). :-)
I was intrigued with the history of the first library and then the burning of books at the descent of the Dark Ages. Reading that made me reflect on a couple of things. First of all, the idea that all books that were not Christian were to be destroyed led me to think about all the good books out there and how we've been asked to seek the "best" books for knowledge and study. Second, I was reminded of the descent of the apostasy as well which I believe occurred all around the same time (historians, correct me if I'm wrong!).
"Fermat didn't know very much. . . I tried tof ind his lost solution by using the kind of methods he might have used." (p71) TJED? Go straight to the source! Learn from how the great philosophers, musicians, scientists, etc... learned.
Another favorite:
"The art of number theory is so abstract that it is frighteningly easy to wander off the path of logic and be completely unaware that one has strayed into absurdity." (p131)
I was also impressed with the support Wiles received and felt from his wife and children. "Whenever the pressure became too great he would turn to his family. . . 'The only wya I could relax was when I was with my children.'" (p237) Despite his passion and obsession with this therom, his marriage and family stayed strong. It's interesting that I just recently watched the movie Amadeus. Again, I looked at the family life and watched the polar opposite happen to Mozart than that which occurred with Wiles. I don't think it's an easy task to be the wife of a genius such as Mozart or Wiles or Einstein. I mean, Wiles knew from the age of TEN, "I knew I had to solve it." (p6) A passion like that must put some strain on the family. Which I think is why his wife (Nada?) was excited to receive his final proof on her birthday! What a joy it must be to know your husband #1 fullfilled his dream, and #2 would now be free of the thing that attracted most of his attention! I would not be such a patient wife. :-)
I can also understand his "mixed feelings" at finally solving the problem for all the same reasons. To be so familiar and involved in an obsession for that long, it would be very hard to let go and let the rest of the world "have at it."
Overall, I thought this book was just fantastic. So much history. So much knowledge gleaned. So much excitement in discovering how numbers really are cool! :-) I was impressed with the thoughts on curiosity (p. 147) and it made me wonder what I'm curious about? What are my children curious about? Am I fostering that curiosity or squelching it? What did the mothers of these genius chidren do to keep that curiosity alive? (Read Linda Eyre's Teaching Children Joy) Wiles later says, "I was just curious," and look at all he accomplished by just being curious!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Little Prince

I for one agree with the rest of you that I didn't like this book so much. I'm so glad it was followed by one that I enjoyed immensely. This time though, I have an excellent excuse for not having much to write: I finished the book while recovering from the dilaudid PCA that had made me hallucinate a little bit. I never want to be on dilaudid again. Anyway, here's a few quotes I did like.

"Are there hunters on that planet?"
"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"
"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox.

I thought it was ironic with the fox's philosphy on being tamed and having friends, that he should still wish for the easy life. Just like in the train chapter about the humans who didn't know what they wanted, we perphaps all want the easy life with all chickens and no hunters, but as stated here: Nothing is perfect. All of us have our trials and our rewards.

This was a merchant who sold pills that had been invented to quench thirst. You need only swallow one pill a week, and you would feel no need of anything to drink.
"Why are you selling those?" asked the little prince.
"Because they save a tremendous amount of time," said the merchant. "Computations have been made by the experts. With these pills, you save fifty-three minutes in every week."
"And what do I do with those fifty-three minutes?"
"Anything you like . . ."
"As for me," said the little prince to himself, "if I had fifty-three minutes spend as I liked, I should walk at my leisure toward a spring of fresh water."

This was brilliantly put, I thought. There's so much in our world that we can choose to do or buy that replaces the original concept or activity that is so much nicer and/or better for us. For instance, playing videogames of soccer or other sport instead of going outside and actually playing the sport. Or all the premade meals and stuff. I love being able to put a homecooked meal in front of my family with homemade bread. It's so satisfying to be able to take care of some of their basic needs and know that it's wholesome and frankly tastes better than most stuff you buy at the store anyway (at least on the level of our budget.) It's kind of like the idea of "quality time" vs. "quantity time" with your children too.

Well, I thought I had more to say, but that was all I had marked. Again, I'm blaming it all on the dilaudid. Yucky stuff.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Kami and I were laughing at ourselves that we found Fermat's to be such a "page-turner." We both stayed up too late reading it (although me not as late as she). It was fantastically interesting history.

Fermat's Enigma

Oh, No! You're done already, Ans?!?! Well, I'm still halfway through. I've gotten pretty distracted with other fascinating books (i.e. Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire!!!!) Anyway, I'll get back on it shortly!

And, thanks for your comments on Prince, Kelly. Still didn't like the book, but the Christ comparison would be something interested to explore further!


The Little Prince - brief thoughts

I am not going to write a full-on review here. I've been sick and just working up the energy to read this book has been difficult. Fermat's E. is waiting for me at the library (again) so I will probably just move right on. However, I think I understand why I did not enjoy this book as a 5th grader. I would not consider it solely a children's book. It has too much depth to it.

I agree with what you all have written already so I'm not going to re-type it. :-) I have very little to add.

I thought it was interesting that the author wrote this during WWII. I was thinking about why he wrote this and what sort of influence the war had on his writing choice.

One thought that occurred to me is that you could look at the little Prince character as a Christ archetype. One example to support that is that the Prince leads the pilot to a uniquely refreshing source of water. He is certainly a teacher.

In essence, the book is about the healing power of love which makes all things unique, and how the pain of saying goodbye is worth it if it changes how we look at the world.

And there we have it!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Fermat's E.

This book was fabulous. Loved it! Good choice, Kami Sue.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I have not finished Little Prince yet. I forgot to take it with me on vacation. I'll get to it!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


FYI: I did finish the Little Prince while I was at the hospital and I do plan on commenting. It may just take a little while. I also checked out Fermat's Enigma. I'm all for taking that one slow. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Fermat's On Hold

Congratulations Kami! Very, very fun!

I'm halfway through Fermat's Enigma (loving it by the way!!). Kelly is still out of town (won't be back until Sat.). I'm kind of thinking that FE is a book that may take awhile to read. So, we could just "take a break" for a minute, not read anything, damper along in FE if we want to until Kami is back in action. Due to being in the RS book group and this, I'm kind of getting book grouped out for a minute so I would like to just read for my pleasure! PLUS we will be on vacation most of August and this month is crazy. LONG story short - - why don't we still plan on FE but take our time and not feel rushed to read it and maybe discuss it when Kami is ready. Just my opinion (which I'm always willing to share).

P.S. I would like to hear some more comments on The Little Prince (if Kelly and Kami still want to read it?).


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Kami had her baby

Kami had her baby--hence the lack of posts and whatnot from her. She says to go ahead and read Fermat's Enigma, but considering her baby is in the NICU for an undetermined length of time and she is recovering from a c-section, and Fermat's was her top pick for the blog--I am saying we are not reading that for right now.

Instead, we are reading A Day No Pigs Would Die by Peck. That way, we can give her a little time to get back on her feet.