Gift for Geeks?

April 12, 2011

G Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet BookG Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book by David M. Schwartz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I actually read this book on my own, I enjoyed it so much. It’s a Math Alphabet book, probably good for matheletes of all ages, starting around 6 or 7. To give you an example of some of the topics, we have A is for Abacus, B in for Binary, C is for Cubit, D is for Diamond, E is for Equilateral and Exponent (they were too excited to just give one E entry), F is for Fibonacci, etc. You get the idea of what level they are at.

Little T and I especially liked “K is for Königsberg” (about the “Königsberg bridge problem), a great example of a network theory problem.

“R is for Rhombicosidodecaheadron” kind of lost us, but we were recaptured by “T is for Tessellate” (when shapes cover a surface with no gaps in between).

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Why don’t you give to the New York Public Library, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Greenpeace anymore?

April 11, 2011

Those are three charities that I very much believe in and want to support (and have supported in the past).  However, all three (and countless others) have distracted me from their good intentions and wonderful work with incessant, over-the-top mailings.  Years ago, I didn’t mind an occasional (once a year) reminder of their good work and the need for more support.  However, the frequency and extravagance has increased to such a degree, that I can no longer support them.  Lately, Sloan Kettering has gone far over the top with an 11×17 sheet of adhesive stickers (!), multiple note pads (!!), a nickel (!!!) and more in a single package.  This is my response to them:

Please remove me from your mailing list.  I believe in the good work you do and I know your intentions are good, but these mailers continue to get more elaborate, wasteful and expensive and that is something I can no longer support.

When charities that I believe in (like yours) enact a committed and 100% effective way to opt-out of all of your mail (including useless gifts) AND you scale back your mailings to be less wasteful (and opt-in only), then I will be very happy to contribute to your very worthwhile cause.

Your favorite spots in Iceland?

April 5, 2011

Lake Myvatn area, Iceland, January 2000

Lake Myvatn area, January 2000

Hotels I liked:

Looking at Dyrhólaey from the beach in front of H Isanefshellir, July 2007

Looking at Dyrhólaey from the beach in front of H Isanefshellir, July 2007

Restaurants I liked:

  • Vox – at the Hotel Nordica, high end, over-the-top Sunday brunch
  • Silfur – in the Hotel Borg – high end
  • Primavera – near the Hotel Borg
  • Icelandic Fish and Chips – By far, the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, very casual (seriously, you must eat here!)
Skogafoss, Iceland, August 2001

Skogafoss, August 2001

Reykjavik Activities:

  • Laugardalslaug – the big public pool in Reykjavik
  • Arbaejarlaug – the public pool which is more in the suburbs, but smaller and better for kids – we took the bus there, which was convenient.
  • Nautholsvik – Geothermally heated beach
  • Reykjavik Zoo and Family Park – Allocate at least one full day here if you have children.
Iceland, near Landmannalaugar, August 2001 - wild cotton?

near Landmannalaugar, August 2001 – wild cotton?

Outside Reykjavik:

  • Blue Lagoon – I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s great
  • Alafoss Yarn Outlet in Mosfellsbaer – I have gone to other locations of Alafoss “outlets” but none compare to this one.  If you’re a knitter, make this a priority.
  • Landmannalaugar – where hot and cold springs meet, beautiful.  It’s in the interior and it seemed very remote.  Apparently, there are buses there, but we were taken there by Kiddi from Iceland Mountain Cruiser, who I couldn’t recommend highly enough!  He is WONDERFUL.
  • Dyrhólaey and Skogar– This whole area is beautiful, especially Skogafoss (foss means waterfall) and H Isanefshellir (hellir means cave), the basalt cave on a black sand beach where my husband and I got married.  It’s just off the ring road when you’re traveling between Reykjavik and Vik.  Most of our honeymoon was spent in the Icelandic interior, but we did spend 2 nights at the Hotel Skogar, a tiny, peaceful little hotel, where we had a wonderful dinner.  They were so kind to us, even managing to make us our own little sugarless wedding cake!  What lovely people!
  • Lake Myvatn (pronounced Mee-Va) – was beautiful in the winter, I have no idea how it is in the summer, but I have heard there are a lot of mosquitoes, but that may have been an isolated incident.  I don’t know.  Near here is Dimmu Borgir, which has some very interesting and spooky lava formations and is the subject of fascinating folklore.  There is also a band named Dimmu Borgir, which you’ll find pretty interesting if you’re into Norwegian Black Metal.
  • Snaefellsjokull Glacier – Coming back from Stikkisholmur in the western part of Iceland, we stopped by Snaefellsjokull (jokull means glacier).  It was summer time and the glacier looked like a desert to me, which was odd, because the other glaciers I had seen in the summer were snowy.  But, it was still beautiful.  We also stopped at a lovely area called Hellnar, which had gorgeous sea cliffs and rock formations and a lava field in which we got lost.  In hindsight, the lava field adventure was great fun (though while I was in it, I was wondering if I would ever get out).
A Landsvirkjun Power Plant, Iceland, August 2001

A Landsvirkjun Power Plant, August 2001

I love Iceland.  I’ve been there in the winter and summer and they are both spectacular.  The natural beauty of Iceland is breathtaking, even the power plant I visited was beautiful (how do they do that?).  No one can possibly explain to you how beautiful Iceland can be (but this Flickr Photostream by “letstryiceland” is close —  I went from this point forward.).  The landscape changes quickly mile to mile, so there is always something new to see, and the weather is equally dynamic, so make sure you have a a good waterproof rain jacket, rain pants and waterproof, comfortable hiking/trail shoes/boots.  It will rain, but not for long.

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