What Have You Learned Lately?

by Grace aka costofcollege

Learning opportunities are everywhere — your job, your family, books, your community, travel, schools, and the Internet.

Lynda.com is an online education company “offering thousands of video courses in software, creative, and business skills … taught by industry experts. Members have unlimited access to watch the videos, which are primarily educational.”

Lynda Weinman founded Lynda.com in 1995, and recently sold the company to LinkedIn for $1.5 billion.  Weinman was ahead of her time in exploiting the benefits of online education.

“Everything we are talking about right now in online learning—how can we create lifelong learners, how can we support people changing careers, all of this stuff she was doing before it was the hip thing to do.”

Some Lynda.com photography courses caught my eye, and I hope to use them soon to learn more about editing and organizing photos.  A local camera shop may offer supplementary instruction.  I keep meaning to take a course in statistics.  Over the last few years I feel as if I’ve slacked off on learning new skills or improving existing ones.

What have you learned lately?  Do you consider yourself a “lifelong learner”?  Have you tried Lynda.com or something similar?  Or are you in a phase of life that leaves little time to learn new things because you are simply too busy keeping up with your juggle?  (Not that you don’t learn many valuable things just from doing that!)  Maybe when you retire you’ll have more time to focus on your continuing education.  What learning goals, personal or professional, do you have?

News from yesterday:  LinkedIn Offers Users Free Lynda.com Courses for the First Time

Related:  25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

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114 thoughts on “What Have You Learned Lately?

  1. Since I’ve been going to school for most of the last 10 years, once I finish studying for my NP certification exam (and hopefully pass it), I’m done with learnign for a while.

  2. Oh, fun topic! I spend lots of time thinking about classes I might take, and very little time actually taking them. I started a semester-long photography class at the local juco, but it was 4 hours per evening twice a week, and I just don’t sit still that long anymore. I need to find a lower-key one. Also, the idea of getting a GRADE didn’t thrill me.

    I frequently peruse the catalog of the local vo-tec college. I could take sewing (I know how to sew, but I could use a brush-up and some advanced training.) I could learn furniture reupholstering. There’s a campus of Johnson and Wales right down the street, and they offer cooking classes to the general public. Or I could learn about event planning, that might be interesting. Of course I haven’t actually done any of these things but I might. You never know.

  3. I’ve mentioned this before, and it hasn’t happened yet, but as I’m arranging piano lessons for my kids, I’m signing myself up, too. I’m getting an instructor who will come to our house to make logistics easier. We’re already in scheduling talks.

  4. Does reading historical fiction count? Someday I would love to take some art classes, photography classes and also learn some sort of house design program. DH has been much better on this front, he’s been building furniture, doing crown molding and baseboards, etc. I look at all of those homemaking blogs and see women sewing their own pillows and upholstering furniture and my eyes glaze over. I’d love to be so creative but I’m not.

  5. I learned from Rocky about better crock pot cooking. I did ribs yesterday. The night before, I put the dry rub on the ribs, and stationed on the island the crock pot with two overturned ramekins (for elevation out of the liquid), an onion, a couple garlic cloves, apple cider vinegar, and a small can of Coke. My instructions to DW were to start it at 11 am and set the timer for four hours, then let it switch to Keep Warm. When I got home at 5:30, I sauced them and put them in the oven.

    They were definitely a little firmer than what you might expect from a crock pot, and not “falling off the bone.” It was more like the consistency that an American Chinese restaurant would prepare them to. I don’t know that they did too much cooking on the Keep Warm setting, but I think it was good. Next time I may do 4.5 hours. I just handed out a couple of them at work and they were very well received.

  6. Glad the crockpot advice worked out, Milo! I’ve just been doing chicken thighs in barbecue sauce overnight on Warm. Don’t even start ’em out on high. Yum.

  7. The other thing about ribs, and the obesity epidemic, is that at home, or at work, I can eat two ribs–three max–and feel totally satisfied. At a restaurant, the pricing structure of the menu makes me feel virtuous for ordering *only* a “half slab,” at which point I’ll eat most of the whole damn thing. Plus two sides.

  8. “I’ve just been doing chicken thighs in barbecue sauce overnight on Warm”

    This may be the difference. If they’re mostly submerged in sauce or other liquid (with a high specific heat capacity and coefficient for thermal conductivity) and/or a significant portion of the meat is in direct contact with the bottom or sides of the vessel, then they might be conducting just as much heat on Keep Warm as something that is propped up on a ramekin with the pot set to Low.

  9. IMO, 90% of the obesity issue is portion sizes. We (society as a whole) have lost perspective on what normal portions should be. We went to the movies over the weekend and had a coupon for a free small soda thanks to our Regal Crown Club card, so I let DS get one. The small was 32 oz. Seriously, a quart of soda is the smallest size they sell.

  10. I’ve learned how to drive a bulldozer. Quite honestly. I was working on a community service project and some contractor would lend us a bulldozer, but not a driver for cost and insurance reasons I guess. But the contractor taught me how to drive it, and no I did not do a Thelma and Louise. The bulldozer was quite fine when I dismounted, and I had a hoot.

    I think a bulldozer would be perfect for Rocky. Maybe Mad Dog, too. She could start with some of the hideous buildings in Houston.

  11. PTM, I’d never get it away from all the guys at church who would want to play with it.

  12. Great topic! I love learning new things. I have a fascination with how the mind works, so kind of gravitate right now towards things related to that. (I’ve spent the last 12+ years learning everything I could on dyslexia, dysgraphia, sensory issues, aspergers, anxiety, etc, so that is probably the start of my interest). I really like Ted Talks, because they are in little bite-sized pieces that are easy to take in, and if it’s something that interests me I will try to learn more about it. I have not taken any classes recently, but am still toying with the idea of going back to school for an advanced degree in Math. My daughter is learning HTML, among other things, in a class this summer, so I told her I want her book and notes when she is done so I can try to learn some of that. That is an area that I feel woefully behind. I just got an email from Khan Academy that they are teaching Java Scripting in a summer class if you are willing to commit 3 hours a week. I am thinking about doing that just so I can have some basic familiarity. The last programming class I took was probably in Fortran or COBOL.

    On the “creative” side, I saw something about chalk painting that lets you paint your furniture without having to strip it and prime it first. So my desire to learn that is more laziness than anything else, but I want to paint my oak furniture.

  13. And on portion sizes – I totally agree. I always split a meal with someone at a restaurant. At first it made me feel cheap, but now I don’t care. If the food is in front of me, I’ll keep picking at it. There are plenty of times when my husband and I will split a meal and still have food left over. We always tip on the cost of two meals so the server is not shortchanged.

  14. “Portion sizes and constant, constant snacks.”

    That was allegedly one of the bases of the CPS charges in the Florida case. When he was locked out of his house, the boy didn’t have access to snacks.

    By that logic, telling your kids “no more snacks, dinner is in two hours” would be reason enough to place them in foster care.

  15. I find the snacking phenomenon fascinating, like how and when did it happen? Was it that research that said that you should graze all day long to avoid losing weight and has that been debunked? My oldest who is in elementary school has a snack every morning around 9:00 a.m., after just eating breakfast at 7:30 a.m. I pack it for her because I’m sure I’d get in trouble if I didn’t, but I don’t ever remember eating during school other than at lunch. And when she played soccer, we all had to dutifully sign up to bring snacks to one game, even if the game ended at noon when you’d just be eating lunch right afterwards, it’s bizarre. And now my children seem to expect to have 3 snacks a day which we don’t do when we’re home, but that’s what they get at school/camp/daycare.

  16. “By that logic, telling your kids “no more snacks, dinner is in two hours” would be reason enough to place them in foster care.”

    My son would agree. Unequivocally.

  17. I don’t ever remember eating during school other than at lunch.

    I remember gram crackers and milk during half day kindergarten in the early 80s.

  18. nd when she played soccer, we all had to dutifully sign up to bring snacks to one game, even if the game ended at noon when you’d just be eating lunch right afterwards, it’s bizarre.

    Don’t get me started on the team snack thing. I’m so glad we’re past that stage. That’s one of the good things about coaching, you can tell all the parents we’re not doing it.

  19. “Snack” is also an official part of the Disney dining plan. I HATE the dining plan, because I feel obligated to eat a full breakfast (and often a buffet at that) when I normally don’t eat any breakfast. And then I’m supposed to be eating a “snack” on top of it. If I try to get my money’s worth, I’ll gain ten pounds over the course of the week. If I use my snack credit to get a bottle of water, DW will accuse me of wasting money.

  20. It will be interesting to see if Snack makes its way into the penal system as a required meal for the incarcerated. Then we’d have to change the expression to “three hots, two snacks, and a cot.”

  21. My “learning” has mostly been of the Murphy variety, those things forced upon you by circumstances. But, hey, I now know more about pancreatic cancer, Social Security offsets and appeals, and all the things you need to do when someone dies than I ever even thought existed. On a more positive note, I am trying to fit in time to do more right-brain stuff, like writing sentences that don’t involve a case cite.

    My real ongoing “learning” is on the psychological side of things — most recently, how to beat down the ego and try to make a client happy, even when they are being incredibly stupid. Which, alas, can be learned only through repeated experience.

  22. I’m taking kayak lessons, including an ocean skills course, in preparation for Greenland. I am still working with a pro on my bridge, but less frequently. I took a cooking class once, but it was full of girlfriends on a groupon. I don’t do well in group instruction, and I found cooking videos on YouTube much more useful.

  23. Since I do research, I have to always learn new things. Right now, I am desperately trying to learn natural language processing, which I assidiously avoided in grad school because it was a field I didn’t think would go anywhere :-). It also looks like I need to get up to speed with some areas of learning theory, since I am probably going to write a proposal with one of our education school people.

    I need to find a hurdy gurdy teacher since I now own one. I spent last evening looking for books and videos, and discovered there is essentially only one instructional book written in the past 200 years. I will be at a festival next weekend where there will be hurdy gurdy players, so maybe one of them will have some advice.

  24. My mother wants to learn Spanish. However, she doesn’t wants Rosetta Stone or other software but an app. Is there a cheap/free app for Spanish ?
    On piano playing, I had given DS piano lessons as a foundation for playing other instruments. I sort of have to do the same for DD but I’m thinking we could just use DS’s piano books and find some sort of “teach yourself piano” program, so that DD just knows the notes. It just has to be basic knowledge before she can take band. I really don’t feel like getting a piano teacher etc.

  25. anothertwinmom, I remember the days of being tutored in Pokemon. I know enough about Pokemon now that I often use the little beasties as the basis for programmng assignments for my students. Now, my kids are teaching me to play Magic.

  26. We’re planning a trip to Japan and we’re thinking about taking a Japanese class either online or in person. To that end has anyone her been to Japan? We’re wondering how much of a problem the language barrier will be. From what I’ve read using Google’s voice translation via the app works quite well. I know in Northern Europe everyone (it seems) speaks English so it’s not a problem.

    which I assidiously avoided in grad school because it was a field I didn’t think would go anywhere

    Did you think they would never get it to work?

  27. Rhett, I took a year of Japanese when in college. It isn’t all that hard to learn, although there are three writing systems and you need to know all three. In that first year course, we didn’t even touch kanji, but the other two systems are phonetic, so they weren’t hard to learn. Japanese is cool because there isn’t really a object-verb-object ordering like in English. Instead, they use marker words to indicate the role of a word in a sentence.

  28. The way people were approaching NLP back when I was in grad school was completely different from what they do now, and didn’t work and never would work. It was all grammar based then. Basically, they were trying to use the same methods that adults use to learn a language. Once they abandoned that and moved to approximate understandings based on machine learning algorithms, the field took off.

  29. I have to brag a little – I submitted a proposal for a little bit of money to fund undergrads on a research project. I just found out that the proposal is successful. I am happy because we are trying to encourage our best undergrads to do these projects – even if a student isn’t going to go into research, these projects are attractive to potential employers. Anyway, that I why I am now under the gun to learn some modern NLP methods

  30. I want to take french classes because l have completely forgotten all french I took in school, and I hope we take a trip to Paris in the next year or two. I also want to take stand up paddle boarding lessons at a local lake this summer.

  31. Louise – doulingua.com for your mother. It’ll get her started.

    On the portion control/snack thing…I had a serious heart-to-heart with my doc (internist) the other day. Actually time to shape up, lose weight (after many years of portion and snack non-control). He’s lost ~40 lbs recently doing the 5-2 regime (5 “normal” eating days, with 2 days of <500 calories mixed in over the course of a week) so I'm trying something like that. Has anybody done that? Tips?

    Today is only day 3 of my new lifestyle, so nothing to report other than I've been good for these three days. I find I can eat a healthy b'fast, then wait till noon-1 for a 2-cup serving of fruit; followed by a toasted bagel later in the afternoon and make it to the gym without stopping at the drive-thru on the way. Once I work out, my body doesn't want to eat too much so that also helps with the portion control.

    I've also gone since Sunday around noon without coffee. Somehow, no headaches. This after 40 years of lots of coffee drinking. We'll see how this goes. Maybe coffee will become a special treat that I have when we're out like Coke Classic is for me (I don't keep it around the house…no willpower). So far no dozing off mid-afternoon, or tons of mistakes at work.

  32. Mooshi,

    Have you tried the Google translate app? You can take a picture of a Japanese menu, street sign, etc. and it grabs the text and translates it into English.

  33. Machine translation, in any case, is not fullscale NLP since you don’t need the semantic part for machine translation. In fullscale NLP, the text gets converted to an internal representation that preserves the original meaning, so the computer can go on to reason about the meaning. An example is sentiment analysis, where a text is analyzed to extract mood or opinion.

  34. Rhett – about 20 years ago I spent two weeks in Japan visiting my ex’s extended family – my ex and I spoke no Japanese. I found then that most people spoke enough English that we had no trouble getting around by ourselves. The transportation signs are almost always in English as well. When site seeing we would often be approached by middle/high school aged kids wanting to practice their English. It was a great trip, I hope you have fun.

  35. Japan used to be a country where English was rarely spoken or understood even in tourist areas and not even very well in major hotels.. I routinely said Kirin and pointed to the pictures on a menu. I imagine it is not quite like the movie Lost in Translation any more, but if I went today without a local Guide I would get the best translation app.

  36. Fred, I’ve read a number of “studies” reporting success with that 5-2 plan. Please report back and let us know if you have luck with it. I had lost about 20 pounds, but with my recent vitamin deficiency issues, I guess I was eating more carbs trying to get a little energy, and I’ve gained four of them back. I gave up diet soda, after a lifetime of drinking it, and am trying to adopt coffee as a replacement because I keep reading that it has a lot of good-for-you properties.

    I think Houston mentioned that she lived in Japan for a year – if she’s around today she may have some good hints for you.

  37. Louise, I second Fred’s recommendation of Duolingo. I have been using it for about a year trying to learn Spanish. I recently discovered Memrise, which is also a great language app.
    I am trying to read the Bible this year. Every day I read a chapter or two from the Old Testament, one of the Psalms, and a chapter or two from the New Testament, but I am a bit behind of where I think that I should be.

  38. I also recommend Duolingo. I used it to learn rudimentary French for a trip last year.

    TIL what NLP is.

    I have used a modified version of the 5/2 diet intermittently to lose a few pounds. I only fast one day, so it’s 6/1, and I have very modest goals since I’m not really overweight. But I attribute it to helping me lose about 4 lbs. of real weight over about six months. I eat 2 eggs and lo-cal toast for brunch, a Lean Cuisine type of meal for dinner, jello or 40-cal Fudgesicle for snack. I drink lots of water and Crystal Light. After about mid-afternoon, my fasting days are usually not very productive.

  39. Speaking of software have you seen Jeremy Clarkson’s review of Windows 8?

  40. I couldn’t agree more. And, I had no idea it would display like that. My apologies if anyone is offended.

  41. I’m impressed you can gain weight at Disney, Milo, haha. DH and I went (no kids so we probably kept longer hours at the parks) and were surprised to find that we lost a little weight despite being very indulgent. We were walking from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m. almost all day every day so I guess we managed to offset all that rich food. Maybe it just illustrates how sedentary I am in my daily life!

  42. I also got that Summer of Scripting email from Khan Academy. I’d like to learn a little coding, but not now. At the moment, I find it hard to commit to a particular schedule.

    I “learned” Windows 8 last year, but the main thing I learned was how to bypass most features and use the old Windows desktop option.

  43. I would like to brush up on my Spanish. I took it in school, and there is still a good chunk that is dormant inside my mind, but I want to improve. I can’t do any verb tenses except present, and even that is a little fuzzy. I should probably try the Arnold Schwarzenegger method of watching TV and reading newspapers (in English in his case), but whenever I turn on Spanish TV they talk so fast I get one word in 20 if I’m lucky. I can usually get the gist of something like a sign when I can take my time, but I couldn’t have a conversation with someone unless they were a little kid or a very patient adult.

    So I’m looking for some kind of conversational class, with people like me, where we would just talk and learn. I will probably look at places like the JCC or the Y, or maybe some sort of language institute.

  44. Meetup has language groups that meet to practice speaking. Around here there are many, but I’m not sure how common they are in other parts of the country.

  45. Rhett,

    One of my cousins lives in Japan. I’ve been wanting to visit , but haven’t been able to yet. She is fluent in Japanese and English.

    I was under the impression that a typical tourist wouldn’t need to know the language, but I’m sure learning a few of the basics wouldn’t hurt.

  46. On the topic of learning – I have been teaching myself all about the world of kidlit…picture books have changed a lot since I was a kid.

    I decided on a professional level to go ahead and do the CMA…it is only 2 exams, and I figure it will help keep the old saw sharp.

  47. “I’m impressed you can gain weight at Disney, Milo, haha.”

    Oh yeah, I typically do on vacation. Maybe it’s just more salt and water retention, I don’t know.

    I’m feeling so old. It’s hard to lose weight. Riding two roller coasters in a row makes nauseated. And now, I just had a voluntary health screening, and my upper arm is feeling ridiculously sore. Why? The stupid blood pressure cuff.

    The only plus side is that, even though we’ve had our new mattress for almost a month, by my reckoning, we just got our new bedroom furniture yesterday, so we’re back to sleeping on an actual bed. It’s irrational, but the exact same mattress on a big, tall luxurious bed feels SOO much more comfortable than it does sitting on the floor. So I least I have that to look forward to.

    http://www.theonion.com/article/man-in-chair-pauses-to-consider-reclining-options-442

  48. Rhett, it depends on where in Japan you’re going. In Tokyo, you’ll get by OK without knowing Japanese; many people know English, there is a lot of signage in English, and even much of the Japanese (e.g., train stop names) is Romanized.

    The situation is similar in the other major cities I’ve been to, although it’s not always as easy as Tokyo.

    However, if you go into the country, it will not be easy without at least a rudimentary understanding of the language.

    It always helps to be able to not mangle pronunciations of Japanese words, and to be able to understand Japanese pronunciations of English words.

  49. Rocky, thanks.

    I am trying to figure out which studies I believe. I keep thinking back to grad school where we mocked the medical people for not being able to do statistics, which makes it harder to believe any of the studies. And why hasn’t this procedure been perfected for all the baby boomers?

    I feel like I have no time, inclination or energy to learn anything fun.

    Milo, YOU feel old? My joints creak all the time, and I am stiff getting out of bed.

  50. Murphy – Since high school, my knees have been popping whenever I squat down. They’ve been injured before, which is my excuse for limiting any road races I do to 10K. I don’t need to push my luck.

    Now, if I’ve been driving for a while and move my head around, my neck cracks.

  51. costofcollege – thank you for the meet up suggestion. I just looked at it for a second and already I have found several Spanish speaking groups in my area. I may sign up and try to find some people at my level.

  52. I am approaching a milestone birthday and I need to get working on my midlife crisis before i can no longer claim is happening midlife. I have been kind of thinking of a midlife crisis as a projecct/adventure that one embarks on for no good reason other than they want to.

    One friend bought a few mules for backpacking and riding, not my thing and he has already gotten thrown a few times. I’m not that interested in cars enough to get a convertible. I like my husband. I have been thinking about getting a horse. Has anyone mapped out their mid life crisis? Any good ideas on what one might be?

  53. On not mangling pronunciation of Japanese: Japanese is the easiest to pronounce language I have ever encountered. I cannot imagine how one could mangle it. The language is based on a standardized set of syllables, which Japanese schoolchildren memorize in a singsong chant the way we memorize our alphabet. “ka ki ku ke ko, ma mi mu me mo” and so on. Japanese words are composed entirely of these syllables, which are always pronounced the same way. So if you see a Japanese word, just find the syllables and say each in turn, and you have it. “Kawasaki” is 4 syllables, for example, and “Maeta” is 3 (ma-e-ta). All syllables get the same stress. And that is pretty much it.
    https://blog.udemy.com/japanese-pronunciation/

    The writing systems, apart from kanji, follow the syllables. Thus, they are phonetic.

  54. “Has anyone mapped out their mid life crisis? Any good ideas on what one might be?”

    I had kids.

  55. Has anyone mapped out their mid life crisis? Any good ideas on what one might be?

    A summer vacation. Just rent a beach house and take off July and August. Or, a sailboat.

  56. Grrrrr, I have lately been really annoyed at being firmly in middle age. All the things you’ve mentioned: the inability to lose weight as easily, the stiffness in the morning, basically, not being young anymore. I think I’ve finally gotten it through my thick skull that I have to do some yoga/stretching every single day or I get sore and tight and miserable.

    DH and I talk about how we still feel like we are 35 inside, but there are a bunch of people with babies and little kids that are 10 or 15 years younger than we are – how did this happen?

  57. Riding two roller coasters in a row makes nauseated.

    Tell me about it. I can go on any of the fun rides without feeling sick anymore. It totally sucks.

  58. If this holds up, it might be the beginning of the end for Uber:

    “A San Francisco-based driver for ride-hailing service Uber is an employee, according to a ruling by the California Labor Commission.”

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/102766716

  59. ssk, my post was about having kids. I hope you’re not considering doing that just based on my post.

    Fred’s the one who posted the Spanish link. :)

  60. Classifying Uber drivers as employees opens the company up to considerably higher costs, including Social Security, workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance.

    I’ll give them workers’ comp and UI. But, currently uber drivers get a 1099 and have to pay all of FICA. If the ruling holds up and Uber has to pay half of FICA, they would just reduce the rate paid to drivers by 6.2%. From the drivers perceptive their pay would remain the same.

  61. Other then SoFlMom who I think is off at her new job. Are there any boat owners here?

  62. ssk-you might want to check out Bookbox on Youtube. They are stories spoken in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. Although they talk at a normal speed, the fact that there are subtitles and animation really helps out. Because they are geared toward kids, there is quite a bit of word repetition, which I find very useful when learning new words.
    Or those of us trying to learn Spanish can visit PTM for a few weeks. I am sure he would let us stay with him if we each provided him a case of Coors.

  63. SoFL has a new job? I thought she had some new project that she was getting VC funding for. Is that what you mean?

  64. Is that what you mean?

    Yes, some sort of (extremely lucrative) new business opportunity.

  65. I am obsessed with the midlife crisis, YOLO thing. I had a tragic reminder today when I learned that a former colleague died while exercising. He was the Vice Chairman of JP Morgan.

  66. DH has a boat It is great fun. I have the best part of the deal. He takes care of all the maintenance and the whole family gets to play with it. We used to have it docked about 10 minutes from the house and could come home, grab a picnic dinner and spend the evening on the river.

  67. Finn and Fred – thanks! Yes, I was referring learning Spanish – not having more kids!!!! Eeek.

  68. I’ll give them workers’ comp and UI. But, currently uber drivers get a 1099 and have to pay all of FICA. If the ruling holds up and Uber has to pay half of FICA, they would just reduce the rate paid to drivers by 6.2%. From the drivers perceptive their pay would remain the same.

    The CLC’s ruling is that Uber owes the driver reimbursement for mileage and tolls for a total of $3,800 (plus interest). The driver only worked for Uber for 2 months. Extrapolate that out to every Uber driver and that’s a big chunk of chanage Uber is responsible for. Yes, they can simply reduce what they pay drivers, and that will make it a lot harder to attract drivers.

    They would also fall under Obamacare requirements for all these new employees. According to the BLS, benefits account for about 32% of employee compensation. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/ecec.nr0.htm

    Uber’s model is based on being able to avoid much of that cost. If drivers become employees, their model takes a huge hit.

  69. The price is reasonable, but you need an ocean nearby. Location is always an issue.

  70. According to the BLS, benefits account for about 32% of employee compensation.

    6.2% of that is FICA I assume. 20% is uber’s cut so we’re at 20.5% more. An $18 trip is now $20.60? I’d still use it.

    The main risk I see is how many Uber drives aren’t properly accounting for mileage so they think their earnings are far higher than they actually are. Then again, if they started paying for mileage the paycheck would still be the same. Instead of $300, it would say pay $185 mileage $115 – total $300.

  71. Learning new things – 7 months ago I took a job that I only had passing knowledge of. I would not say I am an expert and the scope of the job is narrow in the “real” world, but I have learned a lot about the topic, plus about the clients I am working for.

    Took up Tai Chi about a year ago, have learned one form and have started refining it. A 73 posture series took about 5 months just to learn. Next week I am trying another posture, but it tends to be harder on the knees, so it may not be the best fit.

    Does learning how to navigate high school as a parent count? I feel like I have learned a lot!

    Meals/Snacks – When I had gestational diabetes, the nutritionist was big on the three small meals and three snacks a day. Basically eat at 6 and 9 am, noon, 3, 6 and 9 pm. If I did so in the proper combination of protien/carb/fat, i definitely felt better and needed less insulin. So, for blood sugar control purposes, there is definitely a benefit. Note the SMALL meals – the whole shebang was 2200-2600 calories.

    Kids and snacks I think depends upon both the kids and the snacks. I have one child who is not a snacker and only really wants breakfast and dinner, but will have a snack at lunch. I have another that eats – what seems like constantly – at least 3 meals and 2 snacks. Both are healthy per the doctor and at a normal or just below normal weight. Both are active and don’t eat when they are bored.

  72. I have taken a bunch of cooking classes lately. One thing that I learned is that a block of feta cheese with honey on top tastes really delicious once it has been broiled. And don’t worry about keeping your meat hot! Cook it to temperature and forget about it.

    I want to go back to school once my kids are a bit older. Maybe a MPH or something.

  73. My midlife crisis: retiring early and figuring out what to do with all this type A energy outside of corporate America. Just starting this part of the journey—will let you know how it works out.
    Heading to the beach for the summer with the kids and for the first time in forever have time for a summer reading list!
    Any book recommendations for a newly retired, former corporate executive?

  74. What kind of books do you like? And are you a regular poster or just de-lurking?

  75. IbR, since your are inspired by her, the obvious recommendation would be her book.

  76. IbR – A few recent bestsellers that I enjoyed: All the Light We Cannot See, The Girl on the Train (liked it better than Gone Girl), Boys in the Boat.

    If you give some examples of previous favorites I can expand my list!

  77. Inspired by Risley – good luck ! I hear you about having a totally stress free and relaxed summer. I don’t think that will be possible for me till I retire. At least I live in a place with fairly good weather year round so I don’t feel that the summer sped by.
    The changes at work this week, made me thankful that I had moved to a new position because my old position became vulnerable and that is not a good place to be. I want to keep working and retire when I am ready, not forced to retire. However, in order to do that I have to be constantly vigilant and make the right moves to remain employed.

  78. I just finished Unlikely Event by Judy Blume. Recently, I haven’t been able to finish books but I was glad this one held my interest.
    RMS – I think you said that you were banned from reading Judy Blume…..

  79. I am checking in b/c we have wifi today and a 5 hour lunch ride (4 hours of riding, most of the time scrambling up or down rocky slopes) left me not wanting to do anything more today than lie around and eventually eat dinner. I’m definitely feeling old!

  80. I agree with Finn on traveling in Japan –Tokyo or Kyoto are easy but if you’re going out into the countryside you may not find English speakers or English signs. But many people who can’t speak English can actually write a little in English b/c they learned it in school for years but don’t feel comfortable speaking. Also people there don’t usually claim to speak a language unless they speak it well, unlike us Americans.

  81. Ha! Speaking of learning, I was at a conference today all day – not my favorite kind of learning. You know it’s stuff you should pay attention to but it is just SO BORING.

    Stuff I would like to learn: taking voice lessons consistently so maybe I could get small gigs, and going back to taking piano lessons. I wish there were a choir somewhere that sight-read for 30 minutes every day – would love to be able to exercise that part of my brain more than I do. Re-learn French. Sewing and pattern-making.

  82. Rhett – what kind of boat? I have limited experience with small sailboats and small power boats – neither would be the kind you could sleep on though. If you start adding beds and baths it gets expensive fast. ;)

  83. What are my thoughts on getting a boat? Where we are, and I imagine where SoFl Mom is, having a boat is completely unremarkable. It’s just another form of transportation – people take boats to parties, houses, restaurants, etc. all the time. Definitely not mid-life crisis worthy.

  84. I’ve been doing Toastmasters for the last two years to improve my extemporaneous speaking. My competitive nature has found an outlet participating in speech contests.

    I traveled along on my DH’s business trip to Tokyo in the 90’s. I would take the train into the city to explore on my own. I got around fine, but there were no English translations in the museums so I didn’t get as much out of it as I had hoped. But I had a great time, and I’d like to go back.

  85. Thanks for the responses and book suggestions. I have posted previously, but not frequently.
    And I have read Risley’s book (it’s great Risley—very thought provoking!)
    I like well written books, and am open to both fiction and non-fiction on a wide range of topics
    Off the top of my head, some I’ve enjoyed: The Shadow of the Wind, Minus 148 Degrees (about the first winter ascent of Denali), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Cold Mountain, Birdsong, Blindness, Dead Wake, Angle of Repose, Into the Wild, Animal Dreams.
    @Louise: I am looking forward to “being in the moment”—whether that is reading a book, hanging out with family or friends, playing with the kids, having a conversation and actually doing whatever I am doing instead of drafting email responses in my head or thinking about the next conference call or meeting that I need to rush off to.

  86. AustinMom reminded me that I took on a new role at work about 1.5 years ago, in a completely new area. So I guess that counts.

    And a follow-up: just got DD’s testing results back (big shock, it’s ADHD!). But we now have a plan for Cogmed training this summer for the brain training gaps, and then study skill-type stuff starting up in the fall to help her better learn some of the planning and organizational stuff (speaking of learning new things!). So, thanks again for all the suggestions, and especially for the stories and detail that helped me better figure out which options might fit with my kid’s issues.

  87. SSK – horseback.

    We’ll be back to the land of no wi-fi soon so I’ll drop out of sight again for a bit.

  88. IbR– I liked The Night Circus. I don’t generally read YA literature, but a friend is a librarian who works with YA, and she recommended, and I liked, Mosquitoland, and Violet & Finch. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (not YA!) is pretty good too.

    Risley– My emeals subscription lapsed a few months ago and I was meal planning myself (and grumbling about it) so I just signed up to try cooksmart for a bit on your recommendation. Hopefully that helps simplify part of summer!

  89. HM Oh my, 5 hours on horseback if you don’t ride regularly can leave a person mighty sore. I’d love to hear more about your trip (national parks, right?) when you have time.

    Milo, I took piano lessons for a while when my kids were taking them from an instructor who came to our home. It worked out well, but in the last few years none of us have touched the piano much at all. I’m not sure why, but I sense that’s not uncommon. Still, I don’t regret the lessons, and may go back to playing again with a “teach yourself” system.

  90. I am reading a book which was selected in Amazon’s June notable books. It is a book of short stories called “In the Country – Stories”. I really liked it.

  91. MBT, don’t know what type of advanced math you’d like to pursue, but the Univ of Washington online masters programs for applied math and computational finance are very flexible and allow you to participate anywhere in the world. I was halfway through the computational finance program until my transfer to London got in the way. Some of my colleagues have finished the program.

    For working professionals, you take one class a quarter. All lectures and most office hours are recorded so you can study whenever. Discussions for both online and on campus students happen on an online discussion forum. I was local so took my exams on campus but UW has a testing protocol so you just need to find an acceptable test proctor.

  92. I didn’t have time to read/post yesterday because I was too busy learning about selling a house, something I haven’t dealt with in 18 years. We got an offer after the first full day on the market (a group of agents had seen it the previous day before it went online), from the first people who saw it on a day with 3 showings. Unfortunately it was quite a lowball offer, but we countered so I’m anxious to see if they really want it or were just trying get a deal. And then I heard from a neighbor that the nearby house I had been interested in sold yesterday. I was at peace with the decision to sell, but I wan’t ready for it to happen this fast!

  93. Louise, I’m the one that wasn’t allowed to read Judy Blume growing up, I recently read Forever, very tame compared to YA books out today.

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