Today, my sister took me out for a bit of heavy-item shopping with her car. I bought the supplies and kit necessary to begin production of home-made wine, but I'll write specifically about that when I get some work done on it, and take some (crappy) pictures. I know I also promised (in a subtle way) to rant about something this week; I will, it's about some 'features' of the essays I'm knee-deep in, marking, but I'm just not angry enough about them right now (I've had a string of pretty good ones over the last few days). So there will be (mildly) interesting things coming up here soon, I promise, but here's a little tidbit to mull over in the meantime:
Reading. How much of this activity do you do, let's say on a weekly basis? I read quite a lot, but a large fraction of my total reading consumption is for work / school; I've set a goal for myself of adding about 42 more entries to my annotated bibliography for the first chapter of my PhD thesis, by April 18. So I've been reading lots of scientific papers, lately. I also read a fair bit for fun (Oh! I should also promise here a new book club entry - coming as soon as I sort through all the notes I took). Most of the people I know (a population heavily biased towards people with many letters after their names) also read lots.
During our drive around town and break for lunch, my sister and I discussed reading habits in children - she recently qualified to be an elementary school teacher in Ontario, and is currently looking for a job as such in the Guelph area. Her experience, during 'hands-on' teacher training at various schools in Australia was that, to a first approximation, boys don't read (thereby also leading to the corrollary: Martin is even more odd than previously suspected). It seems that while eight-, nine-, and ten-year-old girls do frequently read books, newspapers, magazines, et cetera for pleasure, their male classmates do not. I was frequently told to turn out the light, put the book away, and go to sleep at bedtime while growing up; I never noticed, but apparently this is a very unusual occurance for boys. One consequence of this, briefly discussed during lunch, may be poor reading skills in adult men as a result of not spending a large fraction of childhood with a book - one example was described of a man, now in his early thirties, who has difficulty watching movies with subtitles, as the subtitles are often presented too fast for him to read - he doesn't have a problem with reading comprehension, his problem is with reading speed.
I've seen some newspaper and similar stories about this phenomenon, but I had no direct experience of it. I still don't, but now I know I'm related to someone who has seen this on multiple occassions. To me, this is just weird - what the hell are you doing during (some fraction of) your spare time, if not reading? If you're like me, and read (and read [past tense]) constantly, can you tell me if you've met grown men without stories of childhood reading? If you're, uh, rather more alien to my experience, and yourself did not / do not read very much, can you tell me what the hell you were up to?