Fourier Analysis is a mathematical tool which can do a number of things: separate out signals from noise; help identify patterns or trends in data; filter out all unwanted data and focus on a single signal; use approximations to make generalizations; make approximations of real world signals (think electronic music); combine harmonics to get a stronger signal. That's what I'll be trying to do here!! Won't you join me with your comments?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fully Booked...

I truly believe that you should not judge a book by its cover, but you can find out a lot about a person by learning what they read.

I have a confession to make. I don't read very many books. That's not to say I don't own over 1000 on my very own, and not counting the shelves of my husband's and both daughters' private stashes. Books fill the shelves in almost every room in our house. Books "To Read" are stacked dresser-high in two piles beside my bed. I scour second-hand bookstores and go overboard on on-line ordering when they have free-shipping to my neck-of-the-woods. My suitcases push the maximum allowed luggage limits when we return from the US because of the books I am bringing with me. Books are my favorite thing to give and receive. Instead of stickers, as soon as they were old enough to read, my girls started earning books for good marks on tests and extra-good behavior. And I read voraciously. But for the last several years my reading has been more focused on periodicals. I read all the periodicals that come into my house cover-to-cover. So every month my reading includes Texas Highways, Smithsonian, Discover, Scientific American, National Geographic, 4-5 Time magazines, and 3-4 telecom/datacom/computer periodicals. Plus the weekly Dutch national newspaper on the weekend and the 4 local free newspapers that come through the door every week. And of course the advertisements, which is the only way to know what to shop for as there is a limited supply of the specials and you need to be there the first day for a really good deal! And on occasion I treat myself to an O Magazine, and/or Good Housekeeping, and/or Ladies Home Journal, just to appease my domestic instincts. Some months I indulge in a magazine swap with other English-speaking ex-pats and I get British versions of domestic magazines as well as tabloids from the UK (which I generally just skim through). And some months I get behind. (I am still on the July issue of NatGeo!) Some are appropriate for reading while on the elliptical trainer so they suffer a bit from being stuffed in the gym bag. But I absolutely cannot do more than 5 minutes on the walking or biking machines without something to read!

And while I have been surfing the web since before it was world-wide (I was on the DARPA-net back in 1979!), I only discovered blogging this summer and now I read dozens on an almost daily basis. Seriously, I have over 70 blog sites under various bookmark folders!

So, I really have (convinced myself I have) a legitimate excuse for not reading books. So why do I feel so embarrassed when I have been picked (honored?) by Anno for the Book Meme? Because I love books and I want to be able to play and contribute to this wonderful list. I want to sound witty and erudite and insightful. I want to wax poetic and appear sophisticated and deep. I want to hint at my witty sense of humor and intrigue at the depths of my philosophical mind. But instead, as I answered these questions I feel I come off dull and snobby and much too academic and one-sided (sigh). I guess we cannot always live our best life. So here, dear readers, is the unvarnished F.A. as given to you by the Book Meme....

Total Number of Books
Over 1000. If I took time to actually count I would a) get caught up in reading one I had forgotten I had or meant to read a long time ago, b) be depressed at how many we have and berate myself (again) for not being able to part with them and therefore c) not get around to writing this blog!!

Last Book Read
Actually I am not quite finished, but it is one book I have actually picked up to read in the last year: Planet Earth, the book companion to the BBC series. Gorgeous, breathtaking photos, inspiring text that stirs up my travel lust, and heartbreaking facts that really bring home the loss we would face if we don't get the current environmental disasters under control.

Last Book Bought
Ha! It wasn't for me, it was for my Mom. And it isn't even out in print yet! But it sounds great and will be a late Christmas/birthday present for her when it comes out in the US in April. It is Shakespeare's Wife by Germaine Greer.

Oh, you wanted to know the book I bought for myself? That was Present at the Future: from Evolution to Nanotechnology, Candid and Controversial Conversations on Science and Nature by Ira Flatow (the voice on NPR's "Science Friday". It has some great essays based on his interviews with various scientists through the years (the one on why the bubbles sink in a newly poured pint of Guinness, even as the head goes up and why champagne quickly goes flat when there is lipstick on the glass makes for great party small talk!). It is being published this month and I can't wait to read it (I just hope it doesn't end up on the "To Read" pile for too long ...).

Five Meaningful Books
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Uncommon thoughts on Common Things) by Robert Fulghum. If ever I get too stressed and caught up in the fast pace of life and think I just can't cope, I read one of the essays in this book or the others he has written. I am guaranteed a laugh and perspective. What more can you ask from a book?

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. Guaranteed to twist my mind into thinking about the world in a different way. I can literally feel the neural pathways stretching to reach further in my brain as I try to fathom how such geniuses came up with their brilliant insights. It makes me feel very small and at the same time expands my mind and opens my consciousness. Can't get more meaningful than that!

A Brief History of Time by Stephen W. Hawking. This slim volume addresses some of the largest concepts in science - the fundamental questions about the origin and end of the universe around us. He reviews and explains in relatively simple language the theories and discoveries that shape the current scientific thought. And the book became a bestseller which is a real achievement in the realm of physics!

The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra. Another physics book that made the international bestseller list. Instead of exploring the very large concepts, this one looks at the puzzles of quantum theory and the smallest known particles and was one of the first to make a link with Eastern mysticism. While it is a bit difficult to read for the layperson, its influence on the scientific community was profound to say the least. It sparked a number of controversies and criticisms but also opened up new ways of thinking and talking about science that has made these topics more accessible to many young people.

Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I originally purchase this for DD1 but of course wanted to screen it first. I became so engrossed in the journey this book took me on that I determined to fill in the large gaps in my education and read up on the philosophers I had previously only heard of. (That was the plan anyway, and explains a number of the books in my "To Read" pile). The book takes a 14-year-old girl on a journey of discovery through the history of Western philosophy. It is accessible and interesting for young teens and should be required reading in all schools!

I know, a somewhat cerebral list that leaves me appearing rather one-dimensional. I'm afraid that is kind of how things are in my life right now. Too many books, too little time... But I do know a few other players who might have much more interesting lists. The shelves I want a peek at include Jenn-in-Holland (who somehow seems to manage to read more in one month than I do in a year), Gunfighter (who also reads extensively and does great book reviews, so I know he will have something interesting), Leslie (who has such a great sense of humor that I just know she has something fun on her list), and Robin (who has such a different life from mine but so many similarities that I just want a peek at more!). Anyone else want to play? Consider yourself tagged!!


anno said...

This is wonderful! And you've given me at least several ideas for Christmas gifts this year -- if I don't end up tucking a few of these away on my own shelf, as well. Thanks so much for playing along!

Robin said...

This does sound like a fun one, and I can definitely empathize with your "reading too much other stuff so no time to read" problem. I can't read on the elliptical trainer though, I find that I slow down too much. I have to watch tv instead. Oh, and we've got that Gödel, Escher, Bach book too. It's fascinating.

Virtualsprite said...

I haven't thought about Godel, Escher, Bach in years. I only read the Bach section back then, but now I think I'd like to read all of it. And there is just a soft spot in my heart for Stephen Hawking. I didn't understand a word of A Brief History... but I loved it.

And I definitely want to learn more about Shakespeare's Wife!

Leslie said...

I will be glad to participate in this meme, but I fear I may come off pretty....dumb.

Does The Complete Calvin and Hobbes count as a book?

soccer mom in denial said...

How bizarre we posted this meme on the same day? And we don't have a single book in common?

It just shows how much smarter you are than me. Seriously. My brain is (puts thumb up against first finger) "this big".

Fourier Analyst said...

See there, I knew I should not have played! I come off as being smart and lofty and in reality I read about one book a year!! I grant that I used to be smart, and literate and could hold book conversations with the best of the literati. You have no idea how I agonized over 5 meaningful books. I had to go back years!!! Over a decade for a couple! They may not even still be in print! the only reason I have a book I am currently reading is because it was given to me for my birthday -- in April!! And I had to write a thank you note, so I started reading it to come up with a good comment. I am still reading it! So please don't judge me as being a snob! In my book Calvin and Hobbes is high literature. Especially if it is hardback!! I think it should count double if it is a complete collection of anything...

Jenn in Holland said...

Ah, me. A tag, a tag, a BOOK tag! I love books. Oh, my how I love them. How will I make a list? Just how?
This one is going to be fun. Thanks for thinking of me smarty pants.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

What a wonderful list!!! And I'm so glad you brought my attention to the Ira Flatow book. My DH's favorite thing in the world is Science Friday. And he'd actually love your whole list. And I think I need to look at Sophie's World again. And I love the folks you've tagged, too - can't wait to see their responses!

cathouse teri said...

Perhaps the saying should be changed to:

You can tell a lot about a person based on the books they WANT to read! ;)

Goofball said...

Hey, don't feel bad: I played this meme and I filled it up half with child books :p. So how does that make me look huh ;)

that's what makes these meme's so cool, we are all quite different.

good that you tagged Jenn In holland. I did too. Now she has double pressure to perform. hihi.

jennifer said...

Thank you for reminding me of Stephen Hawking's book. I've always wanted to tackle that one, so you've just inspired me.

Rebecca said...

you've given me a few christmas gift ideas too. Truly. That Stephen Hawking's book - Hilary would love it.


Gunfighter said...

I haven't forgotten about this, FA. I will be posting this meme at my blog as the opener for NaBloPoMo.


Anonymous said...

What curious topic