Friday, July 23, 2010

Remembering Dad

My Dad would have turned 89 on July 14, but he left us too early. I got my love of reading from both my Mom and Dad, but my Dad gave me the curiosity that gave rise to the breadth of my reading interests.

He always said books should always be accessible. That's how I got hold of "The Good Earth" by Pearl Buck when I was eight, and had read it before my parents noticed. My Mom saw me holding it and said it was too mature for me, but it was too late!

Dad had a book, "The Next Hundred Years: The Unfinished Business of Science" that I'd like to reread. At the time the book was written, man hadn't reached the moon and there was no television. I'd like to see what had come true of the author's predictions. I could not get hold of a copy of that book, so I bought George Friedman's "The Next 100 Years" out of nostalgia and curiosity. (More on that book later.)

He made math fun, writing "Q. E. D." with a flourish at the end after he'd shown me how to solve a problem, exclaiming, "Quod erat demonstrandum; quite easily demonstrated!" I got nostalgic about QED, too, when I bought Richard Feynman's "QED, " which turned out to be Feynman's attempt at explaining quantum electrodynamics to non-physicists.

His encouraging me to go to the college library to borrow "A Tale of Two Cities" which was not available in our elementary school library was a lesson in not letting artificial social boundaries limit you.

Other things he did, though not directly related to reading, developed my curiosity about the world that ultimately led to widening the range of my reading interests.

Making guava jelly became like a science experiment when we measured the pectin content of the guava in a test tube.

An art project to make a replica of a Greek temple became a geometry lesson as he showed me how to make the three-dimensional figure from one flat piece of art paper.

Cleaning cuts and scrapes with hydrogen peroxide became a chemistry lesson as he explained that hydrogen peroxide was H2O2 - water with an added oxygen molecule.

When I wanted to buy a bubble gum machine from the Sear's catalog, he suggested that we design one ourselves (because we could not afford to buy it) and I had so much fun that I forgot about not being able to buy one.

I cannot count the times I've said,"Guess where I learned that from? My Dad!"

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