February 22, 2013

A Burst of Mind Energy

Maybe it was reading The Wisdom Paradox and realizing my mind actually has a very bright future as I approach the anniversary of the 12th year of my satisfying retirement. Maybe it was beginning to plan for our month long RV trip in April. Maybe it was my just completed physical that says I have no health issues to worry about (at least for now).

Whatever, I suddenly had a burst of energy to do new things. First was to order a CD course on "How to Listen to and Understand Great Music. While I have been involved in music in some form or another most of my life, my listening and understanding has been on a casual level. I wanted to be able to listen to a piece of classical music and understand how and why it was composed.This course puts the music in context with the historical and social events happening at the same time.

The material is from a company that has a catalog of over 400 courses on both DVD and CD in virtually any subject you can imagine. The choices range from Essentials of Strength Training,to Calculus, Appreciating Wines to the Lost Art of Storytelling, Turning Points in Modern History to Comparative Religions.

The typical course has 30-40 lectures that last around 45 minutes each. For example, The Great Music course I purchased has 48 lectures, or a total of 36 hours of material plus a book that recaps the key points of each lecture. The fellow presenting the material really knows his stuff, but is also a bit of a frustrated actor. He puts a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm into his subject, all while clearly explaining rather complicated details of music construction, like fundamental frequencies, polyphony, or melisma.

I try to set aside 45 minutes a few times a week to listen to the next lecture in the series. Some of the information is detailed enough I have found it better if I listen to the material and then repeat the same CD the next day. The idea is to understand and internalize what I am hearing, not to just get to the end of the course.

So while that is underway I suddenly woke up from a Monday afternoon nap and decided I would like to freshen the look of this blog. I had thought about the need before, but this time I actually spent a few hours playing with the template and the various elements of the design. After running the new look past Betty I set it up to go live in a few hours. So far, I am pleased and comments indicate most of you are too. I wanted something a bit bolder and cleaner than the previous appearance. After 30+ months it was time for a change.

Now I'm cooking. I pull out the catalog from the company that sent me the Understand Music course and found two more that caught my eye: The Symphonies of Beethoven  and Turning Points in Modern HistoryOut comes the credit card and I click to order these new courses.

Next up I set up a schedule to re-write an Arizona travel book I self-published two years ago (with a total press run of 12...family only!). With the new RV available, revisiting the places in the book to freshen the photographs and write ups will be fun and give me an excuse to hit the road. Betty is itching to take new photos to replace some of those she wasn't happy with in the original book.

Finally, I rededicate myself to finishing the Satisfying Retirement book that I wrote about in the post, An Apology. I have about 20% of the editing left to do. Then comes finding a company to design the book cover and convert the Word document to the format that Kindle requires. As I read through the answers to the questions that were submitted by over 50 of you folks, I am anxious to get this information in your hands. There is good stuff in here.

Whew...that is enough for now. It is time to stop and listen to the next lecture on the Fugue and its importance to Baroque music. Trust me, it is much more interesting than it sounds.


Retirement and a mind that is still kicking and growing....you have to love it.

20 comments:

  1. Very nice engaging with the music course on the CD. Of course music is a good word, but it's the act of engaging that's the key (cheap pun unintended). Too often I've had the spark to purchase an item, then it seems life happens and the object never gets to the fully engaged level. Your mention of a specific schedule would be my way to at least develop the habit.

    Also congrats on the health report. Without that, all else pales.

    mjh

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    1. Thanks, Michael. I am enjoying the Understanding Great Music course. The other two sets mentioned have just arrived so I'll be quite busy for awhile. I imagine some of the CDs will make it on our next RV trip.

      Unlike some of my contemporaries I take no pills, except an occasional Advil for some typical mid 60's aches and pains. I have been very lucky so far to avoid any problems.

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  2. I tried to find a music appreciation class to take at MCC a while back but they only had rock and roll appreciation! No classical music appreciation! I'd love to listen to the course you're doing--I wonder if the library has something like that that I could borrow?I never did look..? Or, maybe Kan Academy on line??

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    1. At one point several years ago Paradise Valley Community College had a non-credit class on classical music appreciation but I don't doubt those are rare. I know the Phoenix library has Cd's that cover classical music appreciation so maybe Gilbert does to.

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  3. Good job on your physical. I'm studying for the cholesterol test right now, taking it in 3 weeks.

    Thanks for the inspiration in this post, you've inspired me to finally pick up the phone set up my piano lessons.

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    1. The last part of the physical was the blood work this morning. After no breakfast I am ready for a big bowl of cereal and coffee.

      Good luck on the lessons. I have to kick myself too often to pick up the guitar, but when I do I enjoy making music.

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  4. The message I took from your post was to stay as active as possible, as long as you possibly can. My only regret is that I don't have more than 24 hours in a day to accomplish everything I want (maybe if I didn't do that pesky sleeping thing, that would help). When I quit the workaday world, I already have tons of things I want to do - investing, reading, sports, outdoor work - pretty much just doing a lot more of what I never have enough time to do now, in the amounts I want.

    Congratulations on the physical. That is always a load off anyone's mind, and I am glad you had a positive result.

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    1. I was under the very false impression that as one ages less sleep is needed. A lot of my slightly older friends seem to get by on just 5-6 hours a night. If I don't get a full 7-8 hours I am not worth much. I have tried waking up earlier to get more accomplished and it never works. So, now I accept that my version of a satisfying retirement must be accomplished in the time left after 8 hours of sleep. Frankly, 16 hours a day should be enough!

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  5. Are you listening to the series with Prof. Greenburg? He's definitely a hoot if so!

    Our Lifelong Learning program actually uses these recorded lectures on occasion to form semester long courses. We're starting one now on all things pertaining to wine, that should be both informative and fun. The moderator suggests having the wines being discussed each lecture on hand so one can sip along with the lecture. Sounds good to me!

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    1. Yes, it is the wild Robert Greenburg. He uses puns and over-the-top enthusiasm to good effect. At the same time he really knows his stuff.

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    2. Love the Teaching Company courses! I have most of Greenburg's music courses and have enjoyed them and learned a lot. These have been a a great addition to my lifelong leaning quest. I am coordinating a group of friends to share our various courses to mitigate costs.

      Rick in Oregon

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    3. The Teaching Company courses are excellent but normally very overpriced. When they go on a big sale I grab them. Sharing expenses is an excellent idea, but wait for a sale!

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  6. Learning and growing during retirement is key to a fulfilling retirement. Emotional planning is important too. Going from a full time job to no job may seem ideal, but it is an enormous and difficult adjustment. Too many retire people end up feeling useless, with no purpose. Many suffer from episodic depression as a result, making what could be the best time of their lives, the worst time. Prepare yourself by finding a passion to pursue during retirement.

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    1. Hi Boyd,

      I have preached the importance of finding a passion many times and couldn't agree with you more. It is vital to a satisfying retirement.

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  7. Your new blog look looks good! A tip that may, or may not, be useful: Before I went into production with a self-published book I hooked up with a professional e-designer and offered him 10 percent of net profits if he would do my cover and layout work. That would have cost $2,000 to $5,000 on the open market. He agreed. The book looks great, but didn't sell all that wonderfully. My cost so far has amounted to about $40 and we had a good time doing the production work together. Give it a try; you might save a bundle.

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    1. Thanks for the comment on the new blog look. I like it, too.

      The next book will be like the first one: Kindle only. The costs to publish a printed book are too high for the possible return. I'm not really looking to make lots of money with the book. It is more for publicity and strengthening my image in the area of retirement.

      For the first book I used a service to convert my Word document to the Kindle approved format and fix some layout issues. The total cost was under $100. The cover was $5 using fivver.com

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  8. I, too, was under the impression that as you age you need less sleep. The only conclusion I can reach: I'm not old yet!

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  9. Wow! Busy. That's good to be busy. I love that catalog, it comes to me about once a year and while I look through it and think "I'd love to take that course and this course" I have never ordered one.

    I took a music class in College and loved learning about the whys of the music. Good for you learning something new at your age. I meet so many who just want to go to lunch with friends and watch tv.

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    1. There so so many courses in the teaching courses catalog I could go broke ordering all the ones that interest me. They make absolutely no sense at the regular retail price. What they charge would pay for a full course, in person, at a community college! But, when they knock 70-80% off then it becomes doable.


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