Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What To Do When You're Stuck Inside

     I arrived home in Connecticut after snowbirding for six weeks in Florida and South Carolina, only to find that the worst of winter is not over, and spring is not around the corner. It snowed for 24 hours, leaving us with close to a foot of wintry mix on the ground. The five-day forecast predicts highs in the 30s, and lows dipping into the teens.

The view out my window
     It will be a week from now, the first official day of spring, before the temperature reaches up into the 40s. Well, at least I now live in a condo, where I do not have to be the one shoveling snow!

     In the meantime, I'm stuck inside. So what should I do? I'm reading a book, Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo. But that gets tiresome after a while. So I decided to take a couple of online courses. Maybe you already know about these . . . or maybe you know of others?

     Anyway, last year my daughter recommended to me a Dan Carlin podcast called Blueprint for Armageddon, a series of six podcasts covering World War I. Carlin is a former news reporter and radio host who has a wide-ranging interest in history and has used his easy manner and good presentation skills to produce a whole library podcasts called Hardcore History. Some are stand-alone, one-to-two hour lectures that approach a subject from an unusual point of view. In one he discusses whether the toughness of a people plays a role in history. In another he approaches the discoveries of Magellan as Globalization 1.0.

     I also listened to a series, Wrath of the Khans, on Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. And now, this snowy day, I decided to start another series, King of Kings, which covers the rise of the Persian empire in the 7th century BCE and then proceeds to tell the story of Alexander the Great.

     Now Carlin is not an historian, and perhaps academics would be appalled at how he popularizes history. But if you are interested in history and want something to listen to that has a little more substance than the latest Youtube video, I can recommend turning to Hardcore History, whether you're at home in front of your computer, or at the gym pedaling out the miles on your stationary bike. Many of these audio files are free; and they can be accessed on your computer or on your phone as podcasts.

Yale University
     I also recommend another source, Open Yale Courses, that can be entertaining and even a little more academically rigorous. These are lectures recorded at Yale University over the past ten years that allow you to sit in on the various classes, watching and listening to top experts in their field, all for free. And if you're really interested, you can access class notes, do extra readings, solve problem sets and even take final exams.

     I sat through The Civil War and Reconstruction Era, 1845 - 1877, a fascinating look at that period of American history hosted by Dr. David Blight. But the Yale courses go well beyond history to include subjects ranging from African-American Studies and Astronomy to Sociology and Spanish.

     One more suggestion is edx, a compendium of courses from a number of top universities around the world. You have to enroll in the website to take these classes, and I have not yet done that. But if this snow keeps up, I might be spending yet another day or two back in college.


Annie said...

If you get desperate, check out some webcams. They are everywhere. You can watch eagles at Decorah, a nesting owl in Oklahoma City, aquariums, national parks, beaches, etc. I even go on safari in Africa.

Mona McGinnis said...

I commend you for taking the opportunities that being snowbound offers you. My friend often comments that snow means slow. It means more reading, more movie-watching, more game nights, more time for watching the fire, all in preparation for the flurry of activity that spring/summer brings.

Stephen Hayes said...

The Mongol Empire was fascinating and not much is known because Mongols tended to be nomadic and didn't build many cities to leave behind.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Thanks for these tips. We are also in an Arctic freeze .

retirementreflections said...

The view outside of your window says it all. At least no one can accuse you of squandering your snow days! Enjoy!!

Still the Lucky Few said...

Knitting...try knitting. Time will fly! When I'm cooped up inside, I try cooking and reading—they both come naturally!

Savoring Sixty said...

Thanks for the sharing this information. I could be one of those perpetual students so this is right up my alley ~ for now and when I retire.

Jessi Lashakmitis said...

It is such a cold freezing March!!! Thank you for a very important post. Great tips!!!

Anonymous said...

You were lucky to get only a few in Harrisburg, PA we got close to 20 is Thursday, and we are still digging out.

Barbara said...

I've been watching a few of the programs on Coursera lately and really enjoying it. My particular favorites are when they take a historical era and add in the other subject areas sociology, geography, etc. I've also watched a couple of programs - some made for TV and some documentary type on Genghis Khan. Incredible times. I also have enjoyed several programs on the Vikings and early England.

joared said...

Sound like some interesting sites. Thanks. Expect the Fla. break helped a bit. Think the long winters were why so many took up quilting and all the other yarn and thread activities. You could try exploring your genealogy. We're expecting more rain next week and another storm reportedly coming in a week after that. Don't know if they'll carry more snow your way to finish off your March. I recall looking forward to snow and winter, but was ready for it to end before it ever did.

Anonymous said...

Nice and hot here in Hawaii. We are busy fixing up our house. No online courses for us.

Anonymous said...

I can not watch, read nor listen. I need to be out.

Staying inside would get me nice and fat.
Plus sick as a dog.
I have to have fresh, crisp air Always sleep with the window open.

Shovel? The only shovel I see are the ones little kids use at the beach to fill up their pails with powdery white sand.

Been there. Did that. No more.

Janette said...

We did not get the snow, but the wind was something else. We will spend the next few days cutting up fallen trees and pick the neighbors garbage out of the bushes. Why is it always windy on recycling pick up days?
We spent much of our extra cold time reading, watching movies like Lawrence of Arabia, and doing I am addicted!
We made several batches of soups, enjoyed salads and stayed warm. Even the dogs went in and out in two minutes. We have stairs- they were our exercise.
Tia Chi begins this week. Hope it warms for all of us!