Right children! We’re doing ageism and sexism today, along with any other -isms I may have forgotten to mention. If I could, this would be where I put my foot somewhere in the vicinity of my mouth, but my legs don’t bend well.

Logarithms have long been a little hard for me to understand. Not how to use them, you know; just understanding what they are, is enough to bring me out in a rash. The Resident IT Consultant despaired from almost Day 1 over his bad choice of wife, but there you are.

So, as Daughter and I were in Scotland for the Edinburgh Book Festival, we stayed with Grandmother. On our one free day we relaxed by having Aunt Scarborough over for a cup of tea. We always love to see her. I was just a little taken aback by Grandmother’s conversation starter which went like this: ‘Scarborough, do you happen to have any logarithm tables? There was someone at Oxfam who was looking for one, and we didn’t have any, so I said I’d look at home. I don’t seem to have any left, so wondered if you do?’

Grandmother’s age is, as I’ve mentioned before, a nice round figure, and Aunt Scarborough is five years older. I don’t think of them as old, honestly! I just don’t expect logarithms to pop up among the cups of tea and the biscuits. I should be ashamed of myself. Girls can do anything, and we are all still girls on the inside. Anyway, no logarithm tables anywhere. Grandmother works in the Oxfam bookshop, and generally likes recycling things.

slide rule

That will be why she swiftly moved on to slide rules. I know what they are. Could never quite use mine, because it seemed a little complicated. Daughter, on the other hand, didn’t know. So age can be useful occasionally. Grandmother brought out her two, and offered them to Daughter. We needed to know why she had more than one, and also got an explanation as to how she had worn another one out. It’s obvious, really. Grandmother used hers in the kitchen, to adapt recipes and things. As you do. At least if you are a physics graduate with an inquiring mind and like experimenting with things.

This week is science week in Manchester. Me, I think it’s a clever guise to get children to go and look at sciencey things, in order to get hooked, and then sign up for science at university when they’re older. Daughter wants to go, and I know just the person to go with her. (And for the record, the witch got top grades for both Maths and Science at school. She just knew when to give it up. In time.)


6 responses to “Tables

  1. Ah yes, Bogarithmic and other Fables – remember it? You had to deface the title before you could use the book. I can remember helping some first year psychology students with a statistics problem. They were puzzled as to how I knew the answer when I had not used a calculator. Our schooling did have some uses Bookwitch… 🙂

  2. Oh no, even more things I don’t have a clue about!


  3. havealittletalk

    This brought back memories of my father, who taught high school physics. One year two of his students gave him a 5 foot long (or so) slide rule, now sitting in my mom’s backroom. Not a clue where they obtained it — seemed best not to inquire.

    I never learned to use one, but had I known it would be useful in the kitchen for conversions — which I always have to look up — I might have.

    I wonder if it would work too for buying fabrics, that is, when the pattern calls for 60″ width and you want to use 45″?

    Have the steampunk crew embraced them? Perhaps there will be a revival. Better come soon, while those who know how to use them are still around.

  4. Will have to put you in touch with Grandmother… She knits, but I don’t know if the slide rule plays a part. I believe she used to be very naughty and knit under her desk in the class room during lessons.

  5. Pingback: Maths books? « Bookwitch

  6. Pingback: Goodbye | Bookwitch

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