Sunday, September 14, 2008

Another Course Completed, Another Course Started

The Good Witch and I recently enjoyed our way through Neil deGrasse Tyson's wonderful 12-lecture course entitled "My Favorite Universe", courtesy of a small payment to The Teaching Company.

Where did we come from? Stardust, of course. How many galaxies and stars are there in the universe? 50-100 billion galaxies, each with 50-100 billion stars. That's a lot of stars! How many black holes are there, out there? Billions of them, and don't get too close! Should we be concerned about the earth getting hit by a big asteroid or comet? Might be a good idea.... And much more, delivered in layman's terms by a great communicator. Education at its finest.

That done, we've returned to an old friend, Robert Greenberg. He once lead us through a long (48 lectures of 45 minutes each) course called "How to Understand and Enjoy Great Music". It was truly enjoyable and illuminating. Now we've begun "The Concerto", a 24-lecture course on one of the great formats of music - a solo instrument interacting with a powerful orchestra. The last two lectures covered Mozart's concerti, in Greenberg's opinion the greatest body of work in this format. Perhaps I'll agree, but we've got many great composers to hear before we're done.

Some gerontologists say that people age much faster when they stop learning, when their curiousity wanes, when they get set in their ways. The Teaching Company provides a great way for us simultaneously to keep our minds active and to experience true enjoyment, without leaving the house. So I can walk 18 holes in the afternoon, have dinner and a nice Scotch, and then settle down with my sweet wife to become a little more educated. What a great life!

Of course, tonight may be a long one, since I'm the medic on Pittsford Ambulance from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. Who knows what combination of real emergencies and silly stuff awaits me? The suspense is one of the things that makes ambulance work interesting, even after 2,000 calls. With great luck I may sleep throught the night in my uniform! If you haven't found a way to "give back", think about finding an opportunity. You will get back more than you give.

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