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Lifelong Learning

11 Aug

Because education shoudn’t just be found in a classroom. Eighteen ways to educate yourself every day. See the original post here.

1. Watch a TED talk every day.

“Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” These are the kind of bright ideas that I would like to fill my head with.

2. Read a random article of interest from www.howstuffworks.com every day.

They are quick, easy, informative, and give you a glimpse of a subject that you may decide to do more research on later!

A lovely reader recommended the podcasts “Stuff you should know” and “Stuff mom never told you” which can be found on the website.

3. Read for half an hour every day before bed.

This is such a monumental suggestion. The habit of reading for 30 minutes every day can really kick start your goal of “getting back into reading” and of course educating yourself as well. 30 minutes is not too hard to set aside at the end of the day. Just get yourself into bed 30 minutes earlier if you have to. If you read for 30 minutes every night you should be able to get through at least one book every two weeks. That’s 26 books a year (approximately). With this kind of reading rapport you are bound to make a sizable dent into your reading list.

4. Learn more about your job.

Focus more at work. Take the time to really understand why you do the things you do at work, instead of simply going through the motions. Even if this is a job you have been at for years, there is more to discover. Do some research on the company you work for, where did they come from? And what do they really do? There are great opportunities for growth and learning even in our sometimes boring 9-5 desk jobs. Although it may seem that you are just on the other end of a desk, your clients see you as an expert in your field. So make sure you are one!

5. Make learning something you do for “fun”.

Well, it should already be fun that you are taking the time to invest in yourself and learning more about your world – but you know how you could make it more fun? By getting other people involved (yay for them ;) ). You could watch documentaries with your partner or work on puzzles with your children, play trivial pursuit with your family, or discuss new and fresh topics with your friends.

6. Work on a puzzle every day.

This could be jigsaw puzzles, riddles, math puzzles etc. Anything that requires you to practice your mental acrobatics. You can buy simple “Train your brain” books from your local bookstore, that have a puzzle a day to make things really easy for you!

7. Read classics.

Something I try to force myself to do is to read books that are actually a little bit challenging – for the purpose of not only being “well read” but also having an opportunity to expand my vocabulary. Classics epitomize english language at it’s finest. I’m not saying they are always a joy to read, but boy do I feel proud of myself when I finish one.

8. Play www.freerice.com for a few minutes every day.

Work on your vocabulary whilst simultaneously feeding the hungry! You may pass GO. You may collect $200. The great thing about playing this every day is that they tend to repeat words, so you really start getting used to remembering new words that you were not initially used to.

9. Learn a new word every day.

Most of the online dictionaries have a “Word a day” feature that you can subscribe to by e-mail, or simply check online. Learn a new word every day, and make it your intention to use that word 3 times in your day.

10. Watch Documentaries.

Watching documentaries has never been easier! You can watch them on TV, and even on youtube. Sometimes I just type in a subject I am interested in and then “part 1″ and see what I can find. It’s also fun to watch documentaries on things you have no prior knowledge or real interest in.

One of my commenters has recommended BBC documentaries (I agree), in particular Planet Earth, and Wild China. National geographic has some pretty spectacular documentaries too.

I recommend Zeitgeist (you can also watch it on youtube). My boyfriend showed me this documentary and I seriously watched the whole thing with my eyes wide and my mouth open. It was truly life enhancing.

11. Follow some interesting blogs.

Find some bloggers that inspire you and fill your mind with bright ideas and thoughts, and follow them. Another option is to subscribe to a magazine that really fascinates you.

12. Take a class.

What better way to affirm to yourself that you are educating yourself – than to take an actual class? Find a topic that you wouldn’t mind learning more about, and register!

13. Learn a new language.

Are there any languages that you have been interested in learning? Well, why not start now! Take a class, get private lessons, watch videos online – whatever it is, find time in your life to immerse yourself in this new pursuit!

14. Take up a new hobby / put more effort into your current hobby.

I think everybody should have a hobby. Something that you can really throw yourself into. That you do just for fun, that makes you happy, that improves some aspect of yourself, and something you can commit to. If you can’t think of one – create one. There are plenty of hobbies out there. Pick one. Picking them is easy. Staying committed is hard. And even though hobbies are “Fun”, a degree of commitment is required if you ever plan to see some kind of result. Create a schedule in your week to really commit to your new hobby – a certain number of times a week, a  couple of hours a day – it really is up to you. Learn all about your new hobby, both the theory and the application.

15. Try new recipes.

You could buy a new cook book, subscribe to a cookery magazine, or even browse the miracle that is the internet. To make this fun, you could have themes and goals each week, like “eating healthy”, raw food, desserts, smoothies, appetizers, main courses, salads, fruits etc.

16. Practice memory games.

It’s one thing to stuff your head with all this information, its something completely different to access this information again when you really want it. No genius is considered a genius if he can’t remember what it is that he knows. By working with your memory, you can work on your ability to keep your new knowledge available for you to retrieve it.

17. Read the headlines.

My parents read the headlines every day. My mom says that I shouldn’t leave the house without having some clue of what’s going on in the world. I haven’t really implemented this much in my life yet – sometimes I just feel like the news is just so overwhelming – I don’t even know where to start (Does anyone else feel like this?!). I guess that’s why she suggested to “READ THE HEADLINES”.

I don’t think there can be anything wrong with knowing a little bit about what’s going on in the world.

18. Whenever you are making a trip somewhere, or doing something new – take the time to learn a little bit about it.

If you are ever stuck for new things to learn, this is a great way to give you some ideas. Use your life as an inspiration. If you are planning on going to a new city for the long weekend – learn about it. If you meet a new friend who is a wine merchant, learn all about being a wine merchant.

At first, I sometimes felt like I was stuck for new things to learn – which to me now feels totally ridiculous because is there really anything I couldn’t learn more about? But over time, after implementing many of these techniques, I find that my brain automatically gives me new topics to learn about. It is just INTERESTING!

And one day you are going to be able to talk about these things in discussions, and in your own mind you are going to be thinking “Wow.”

I remember a couple of years ago I had read a LOT of information about blue-whale attacks, their anatomy, their physiology, and how they ingest and digest their prey. A few months later, lo and behold – a girl in my class randomly said “Hmm I wonder what happens if you got eaten by a blue whale…”

Ah, yes. My time had come.

And for further education:

19. Discover what you may stumble upon when you StumbleUpon!

I don’t know how I could forget this little goldmine. I use it all the time and I love it!

20. Wikipedia

You can browse random articles on wikipedia, or you could use it as a great starting point for your own private nerdy research in an area of your choice! Awesome.

21. Play agoogleaday.com

I have not used this yet. It was a suggestion from a reader, but it looks fun!

Stuff I Want Wednesday

10 Aug

A few random things I currently want. I’m sure they can be shipped to Virginia as easily as Tennessee:

A pretty French ring

A clever clock:

A tree growing in my living room:

An artsy flask:

This view:

And this incredible bookcase:

Ten Things Tuesday – August 9

9 Aug

How have my music tastes changed from 2 years ago? Well, let’s find out. The top ten bands/musicians I want to see in concert:

1. Florence and the Machine. Probably my new favorite out of all the music I’ve discovered recently. It’s way more dance-worthy than what I normally listen to, but still manages to feel indie and ethereal. Florence Welch’s voice is just otherworldly. There’s nothing I can even compare it to off the top of my head. I can’t even imagine what her live show would be like. I’d be willing to find out. 

2. Mumford and Sons. I never thought I would like bluegrass so much, but I do. Granted, they’re not strictly bluegrass, but kind of a rock infusion that I really enjoy. I think I could listen to them on repeat for days. Oh, wait, I have. I have a feeling that they have an incredible live energy that you can’t find at many other shows.

3. Coldplay. I’ve wanted to see them live for years, but haven’t ever had the chance. I’ve been waiting for quite a while for them to come out with a new CD and subsequent tour, because I wanted to give it as a graduation present to a friend, but I’ve had to wait so long for that to happen! I don’t care what anyone says, I still want to see them.

4. Ben Folds. I had the chance to see him in Nashville my senior year of high school, but my mom wouldn’t let me go. My boyfriend at the time was going, several of my close friends were going. But I wasn’t allowed to, no matter how much pleading I did. Ben Folds is one of those artists that I always kind of forget about, but when I rediscover him, I get obsessed for weeks on end. He’s truly one of my all-time favorites.

5. Josh Groban. I’m supposed to be seeing him right now, actually, but the concert got cancelled at the last minute due to food poisoning. I was really disappointed because I’ve wanted to see him for a long time. Cheesy, I know, but I really like his music. He’s got an incredbile voice – if you’ve never really paid attention to it, you should give him another listen. He’s good studying music. Besides being a little on the mature side of the music spectrum, he’s wickedly funny and loves geeky things. This makes him adorable and entertaining.

6. Flogging Molly. Really, what could possibly match the energy of an Irish rock band? Nothing. I love, love, love them. I want to get liquored up and dance around like crazy with lots of Irishmen.

7. The Avett Brothers. Another country/bluegrass-esque band that I didn’t think I’d like. It’s funny, I don’t like mainstream country music, but them I love. There’s something about that indie vibe and raw musicality that just seems so much more authentic. I know a girl who’s seen them 6 or 7 times already, and she says they’re amazing.

8. Michael Buble. A couple of my friends saw him a few years ago and loved it. He’s along the Josh Groban lines for me – a bit on the mature/adult side of music, but still entertaining. He has great style, though, in his jazzy and swinging attitude. Much like Frank Sinatra, but not quite as badass.

9. Jamie Cullum. I once heard him describe his own shows as the beauty of a jazz performance with the energy and vibe of a rock show. If you can’t tell, I like this combination very much. He should probbly be higher up on this list, if only for his version of Not While I”m Around.

10. Jack Johnson. So mellow, so cool, so lovely. I’d love to hear him play out on the beach – that’s the only appropriate venue, no?

Ten Things Tuesday – July 26

26 Jul

In honor of the re-release of 90’s Nickelodeon shows, I’m counting down my top ten favorite shows:

10. Talespin. I always loved Baloo in The Jungle Book, so when he took to the air in his own show, I loved it. He was sort of accident prone, but still very cool.

9. Guts. When this show was on the air, my mom didn’t like us to watch it because of the name. I have no idea why. That didn’t stop us, though. I really wanted the chance to climb that Crag, but alas, I’ve never been the sporty type. I watched this show like I was watching the Olympics. There’s only one question: Do You Have It?

8. Clarissa Explains It All. She was a hipster before hipsters were hipsters. And she had a pet alligator named Elvis.

7. Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? What I wouldn’t give to be a Gumshoe, solving geographical problems for the Chief. That crafty Carmen…she sure knew how to hide. I was always impressed that she was able to steal historical landmarks so often without getting caught. I’m pretty sure I owe much of my knowledge of geography to this show.

6. Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers. I don’t know why I loved this show so much. Something about rodents solving crimes and foiling their nemesis, Fat Cat, was just awesome. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I love cheese almost as much as Monty. I’m pretty sure I even have the theme song on my iTunes…

5. Kenan and Kel. An entire show based on two kids implementing get-rich-quick schemes. It shouldn’t have worked, but it did. Also successful in spiking sales of orange soda.

4. Doug. We loved the theme song. We loved Doug’s funny preppy style. We loved his crush on Patty. We loved Quailman. We loved that his dog was named Porkchop. And you better believe we loved The Beets.

3. Salute Your Shorts. You know this show is the only reason you ever went to sleep-away camp. And you know you still know the entire theme song…

(Sidenote, how could you not love a show with a character named Donkey Lips?)

2. All That. The kid version of SNL. I’m talking original cast, here, of course. And you know what? It’s still funny, all these years later. I’ve often thought that perhaps it wasn’t as awesome as we thought it was back in the 90’s, but it really, really is. I mean, it did give the world this phrase…

1. Legends of the Hidden Temple. Is there really any doubt that this is #1? It’s only the greatest game show in history. Admit it – those temple guards scared the ever-loving poop out of you, and you screamed at the TV every time someone couldn’t put together the silver monkey. I mean, really. It’s three pieces.

PS, I was a green monkey for Halloween several years ago. Stick Stickly was my date.

Honorable mentions go to: The Secret World of Alex Mack, Tiny Toon Adventures, Double Dare, and Goof Troop.

(Not Quite) Ten Things Tuesday – July 12

12 Jul

I’m breaking tradition a bit today. Instead of a list of ten things, it’s only seven. And in keeping with this week’s Harry Potter theme, I thought I’d list all the books in the order that they are my favorite. If asked, I can rattle off this list like I’m reciting a phone number: 3761542. 

1. Prisoner of Azkaban (3). I can’t even begin to explain how much I love PoA. It might have something to do with the fact that I have a very fond spot for Remus Lupin, or that I so want to get my hands on the Marauder’s Map. Whatever the reason, this book has always, always been my favorite since it came out. The fascinating concept of time-travel and the unbelievable revelations about Harry’s past and his family make this the absolute best of the series. Even if there were seven more books written, I think PoA would always be #1 in my heart.  

2. Deathly Hallows (4). There’s probably more than one of you that would disagree with me about putting DH so high on a list of favorite HP books. I’ve heard many a person describe the book as “bad fanfiction.” And while, stylistically, it isn’t the best, it’s not meant to be like any other book. Harry and his friends are older now, considered adults in the wizard world. I missed Hogwarts, of course, but there are bigger things to deal with now. The school makes a triumphant return in the end, of course, but, as we all know, it isn’t the main setting of the finale. The safest place for Harry is on the run, looking for the things that will ultimately bring down Voldemort. So why do I love this book so much? I love the Tale of the Three Brothers. I love the complexity of the Horcrux treasure hunt. I love that, in Harry absence, underground rebellion has taken firm hold under the leadership of Neville Longbottom. I love that we finally understand the dichotomy of Snape’s nature. And I love that it ends just as it should.

3. Half-Blood Prince (6). The first time I read HBP, I didn’t like it so much. I think I just read through it too quickly and missed so much of what was actually in it. Maybe it had something to do with the misunderstood and loathsome actions of Severus Snape. A few summers ago, when I went back and read all seven books in a row for the first time, I fell in love with HBP for the first time, the second time around. There isn’t as much action in this one, of course, but the backstory behind Voldemort (and some of Snape, as well), makes this one of the most heartbreaking and fascinating chapters in the series. I cannot say enough good things about HBP. I don’t know how I didn’t see it all before, but I’m glad that I finally realized what I was missing.

4. Sorcerer’s Stone (1). One of my favorite things about our introduction to the wizarding world is that we see it alongside Harry for the first time. Growing up in a Muggle home, he discovers the wonders of Hogwarts and his new life with us. It just seems that much more magical, to see it all for the first time, and you can’t see it all for the first time except in SS. This book, more than any other, was impressive for the creativity of the magic invented (transfigured chess sets, the Mirror of Erised, a cloak of invisibility, Quidditch).

5. Order of the Phoenix (5). Phoenix stands at this point in the list because of Dolores Umbridge, the single-most evil, vicious character I have ever read within the pages of a book. Yes, even more than Voldemort, I think. While Voldemort is the embodiment of evil and hatred, Umbridge is a special kind of mean: the kind that will kill you with that sticky-sweet, well-meaning, all-controlling power. I have never, ever in my life hated anyone so much (until I met the dean of students at my college, who is Umbridge in the flesh). In addition, the teenage moodiness that was so prevalent in this book got to be a little much at times. Granted, that’s normal for 15-year-olds, especially ones who have witnessed terrible things recently. I did appreciate learning more about the Order and Harry’s parents and friends in the old days, but the death of a beloved character makes this an emotional installment.

6. Goblet of Fire (4). GoF is kind of like the middle child, forgotten and left out. Which is funny because it’s right in the middle of the series, too. While the Triwizard Tournament and the saga of Barty Crouch/Mad Eye Moody are epic and fascinating, and despite the fact that Voldemort finally regains his body and power in this book, to me, it was sort of just a blip on the radar, waiting to get us to year 5.

7. Chamber of Secrets (2). It’s not that I dislike CoS, I just like it the least of all the books. Maybe it was all the creepy snakes and spiders all the time. Maybe it was the traditional sophomore slump. Whatever the case, it’s just not my favorite in the series. Of course, it is important to the whole story, otherwise it wouldn’t have been included (think: Horcruxes). But in the grand scheme of things, it ranks at the bottom of my list.

So there you have it. A concise, and hopefully clear, summation of my feelings about each book. Although I don’t think I’ll ever be able to put into words exactly what I feel about Harry Potter, this is at least a small attempt. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must get back to my movie-watching.

Ten Things Tuesday – July 5

5 Jul

Ten things I would do if I won the lottery:

1. Pay for school. This includes both my outstanding student loans and the ones that are inevitably coming up. Between college and grad school, I feel like I’m going to be paying off these degrees for the next 30 years. And being in a generous mood, I’d also pay for my brother’s school.

2. Pay off any debt or bills that my parents have. We don’t discuss their finances – just the ones relating to me – so I don’t know what that situation is. But I can imagine that a lottery win would not hurt that bank account.

3. Buy an awesome closet. And by this I mean both kickass clothes and precise, Ikea-worthy organization. Something like this:

4. Get a different car. Mine works just fine, but it’s almost 20 years old now. The air doesn’t work the best (and with global warming on the rise, summers aren’t fun), one of the windows doesn’t always cooperate, and I have to constantly keep track of the water level in the engine. I wouldn’t want anything fancy, just something that is a little nicer and newer than what I have now. Oh, and something that at least has a CD player. I know that technology is now outdated, but I’m still stuck with just a tape player.

5. Fund Full Moon projects. Pranks are fun, but not always cheap. I’d set up some kind of account for them to ensure a bright future full of fun. And beer.

6. Take an extended trip around the world. You know, take off a couple of years and just see the whole world. At the very least, I’d take my mom to Australia, where she’s always wanted to go. 

7. Donate money to worthy causes. Like Project Have Hope and The Harry Potter Alliance.

8. Buy a beach house. As much as I love living in the mountains, I’d also like to have a small beach house somewhere, because I love the ocean.

9. Create a concert ticket fund for everyone I want to see perform live. Look for that list in a few weeks.

10. Invest and save. I’m a big spender, for sure, so of course I want to make sure some of the money is there for the future. Can’t go crazy buying everything in sight, can you?

Ten Things Tuesday – June 28

28 Jun

Geek Week edition. 10 geeky things I love:

1. The smell of books new and old. If I had to classify myself as any type of geek, it would be a book geek. I love reading, and the smell of books is always enticing, no matter their age.

2. Shark Week. I mean, really, who doesn’t like to watch shows about the most ruthless, misunderstood killers on the planet? I love Shark Week – it’s by far the best week of the year on Discovery Channel. And speaking of Discovery…

3. The Discovery Channel. I’d pick to watch this over almost anything. Deadliest Catch, Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters. I love it all.

4. Nathan Fillion. I won’t go over it again, because I’m pretty sure this is the third straight week he’s appeared on my blog in some way or another. He’s a major geek, and I love him even more for that.

5. Boys with glasses. Nothing gets geekier or cuter than that.

6. Grammar. It shouldn’t be a geeky thing to love, but rather something we all strive to do well. It has sadly taken some hits, what with emails, texts, and other forms of mass communication. Give me a well-written sentence, and I swoon.

7. Being left-handed. It’s a gift, like being a member of an exclusive club. You just don’t get it unless you’re a member.

8. Science fiction. Maybe this should be higher up on the list than it is, but here it is, anyway. I’m not talking aliens or superheroes so much as time travel, fantasy worlds, and futuristic dystopian societies. Although I do enjoy a bit of space travel now and then. It’s a broad category for me, including things like Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, V For Vendetta, Firefly, Lost…you get the idea. I know I shouldn’t, but I tend to group all those things into one very broad category, even though they probably shouldn’t be. And because it was the only way I could get away with mentioning all those things without creating an entirely separate list made up only of them.

9. 42. The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

10. Zombies. They’re having their moment now, like the overdone phenomenon of vampires. I don’t know much about zombies or surviving the zombie apocalypse, but I do enjoy good zombie humor when I see it.