DBU: Winter beer and cheese

Tuesday night, along with some friends, we attended Deschutes Brewery University (DBU): Winter Beer and Cheese Pairing, which was a joint production of Deschutes Brewery and Tumalo Farms. Our hosts were brewer John Abraham and cheesemaker Flavio DeCastilhos.

Title slide for Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Title slide for Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

They paired 6+ winter beers with 6 cheeses from Tumalo Farms and then told us a bit about each of the beers and cheeses as we sampled them and then chose to sample whichever cheeses (and other small nibbles) with the beers as we saw fit. The reason I said 6+ is that they could only find 3 bottles of the Fantôme de Noël which meant only a half pour each so they added a 7th beer, Duchesse de Bourgogne, and gave us a pour of that too. These two were beer(s) 2A and 2B in the list.

Menu for Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Menu for Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

The beers in order were:

  • 1 Hub Abominable from Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland, Oregon
  • 2A Fantôme de Noël from Brasserie Fantôme in Soy-Erezee, Belgium
  • 2B Duchesse de Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, West Flanders, Belgium
  • 3 St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus in Watou, Belgium.
  • 4 Delirium Noël from Brouwerij Huyghe in Melle, Belgium
  • 5 Super Jubel from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon
  • 6 The Abyss (2012) from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon

The cheeses, all from Tumalo Farms, in order (clockwise starting at 12) were:

Cheese plate at Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Cheese plate at Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

During the intro, John or Flavio (sorry, can’t remember which one), said my newest favorite phrase, “favorably contradictory,” when talking about some of the things we might look for as we made our own pairings of beers and cheeses. “Favorably contradictory.” So many potential uses in taste sensations but hopefully even some broader uses. ;)

And as John said, “Beer and cheese. It’s not rocket science.”

Why Beer and Cheese? slide at Deschutes Brewery University - Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Why Beer and Cheese? slide at Deschutes Brewery University – Winter Beer & Cheese Pairing event

Since my notes on the cheeses are so poor, let me say upfront that every one of these cheeses is exquisite! I will certainly be looking for Tumalo Farms cheeses more actively in the future [and I did link them all above].

Abominable and Pondhopper:

7.3% ABV, 70 IBUs. Grapefruit, pepper, light caramel.
Goat’s milk and Deschutes Mirror Pond Ale.
The Pondhopper really brings out the hops in the Abominable, which also paired nicely with the Rimrocker. The Nocciola really brought out the grapefruit in the Abominable.

Fantôme de Noël and Jewell:

10% ABV, barrel-aged, assorted spices. Grapefruit smell.
Failed to make any notes about the Jewell, which should not reflect on its taste.

Duchesse de Bourgogne and Jewell:

Aged in rum barrels. Cherry, vanilla, oak, green apple, rum. Tastes a fair bit like a green Jolly Rancher.
Tastes quite good with dried apricot.

They had us take a small bite of the pickled ginger at this point to clear our palates. Ugh!

St. Bernardus Christmas Ale and Rimrocker:

10% ABV, Belgian strong ale. Boozy dark fruits, clove, cinnamon, oak.
Again, failed on cheese notes.
The St. Bernardus was really mellowed by the Jewell. Was quite good with several of the cheeses (think I tried it with 4), although most, except the Jewell, didn’t affect the taste of the beer much.

Delirium Noël and Classico Reserve:

10% ABV, Belgian strong ale. Berries, plum, figs, raisins.
100% goat’s cheese, cave-aged for one year. Very nutty.
The Classico Reserve really mellowed out the Fantôme de Noël in a very good way and was also good with the Duchesse de Bourgogne.

Super Jubel and Nocciola:

10% ABV., 100% pinot barrel-aged for 6 months. Well-balanced hops & malts.
Oregon hazelnuts.
A really good pairing, sweetens the beer.
Super Jubel also quite good with the cracker with figs.

The Abyss and Fenacho:

11% ABV, 70 IBUs, Italian brewer’s licorice, blackstrap molasses, dry hopped with vanilla beans and cherry bark.
Fenugreek seeds. Hints of butterscotch at the finish.
The Abyss and the candied walnuts = O.M.F.G.

I apologize that my notes are so poor for both the cheeses and the beers. I am new to this level of studied appreciation and lack some of the vocabulary and still have a fairly undeveloped palate; all of which I am trying to remedy quickly. It is also quite hard to pay full attention to whoever is providing you info and taste beers and cheeses (or whatever food) in assorted combinations and keep up with it all. Also, after a while, several small glasses of strong beers begin to take their toll. My first goal in all of this is to pay as full attention to the experience of tastes and aromas as I can, and only secondly to worry about notes.

I will say that all of the beers and cheeses were quite good, as were the pairings set up by John and Flavio. I gave the first 5+ beers all 4 stars and based on some of the cheese and other foods paired with The Abyss (2012) I gave it a 5 star rating for the first time. I am still a long way from considering it the Best Stout or Porter in the world but it is still an amazing beer with lots more potential than I suspected [see my previous notes on The Abyss here and here]. I’m telling you, The Abyss and candied walnuts!

We would like to extend a definite “Thank you!” to John and Flavio who did an excellent job hosting this event. Feel free to do some other pairings in the future for us!

This was Sara’s and my 3rd DBU and we are looking forward to many more! See you there!

Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event

On 6 Nov. we attended the Deschutes Brewery University: Barrel-Aged Beer event with 6 of ours friends. We got there a little early and Sara was able to grab a table so all 8 of us could sit together. The room was pretty full so I assume they had sold all 25 seats.

We tasted 8 different barrel-aged beers; four were from Deschutes, one was a collaboration between Deschutes and Hair of the Dog, and three were from other breweries. Hors d’oeuvres were served about midway through the beer sampling.

We also got a presentation from Jacob Harper, the barrel master at Deschutes. The beers were arranged in the order he figured was lightest to heaviest, but was slightly complicated by the fact that four were sours so they were placed at the back half.

We began with the Calabaza Blanca from Jolly Pumpkin (Traverse City, Ann Arbor and Dexter, Michigan). It is a light wheat/white ale hybrid that was slightly sweet and slightly sour. I thought it was fairly tasty but would not want to drink it in quantity or frequently. ~5% ABV. I gave it 4 stars.

Next was Ale D’or Fort from Deschutes, which I had never heard of. Turns out it was brewed for a special Oregon beer festival (missed the name) last year where all the brewers took a particular Brettanomyces yeast strain from Unibroue and competed with what they produced from it. It was light, almost wine-like, a strong gold which had been aged in French Pinot barrels. No carbonation. It tasted a lot like Ashton’s Fresh Hop London Strong Gold without the fresh hops, which is to say, amazing. 9%+ ABV. 5 stars.

Third was Deschutes’ Black Butte XXIV, which we have had a fair bit of and of which neither of us would tire of ever having. I have three bottles in the Cellar. It is an Imperial porter with dates, figs, chicory and other bits for flavor. 20% was aged in bourbon barrels. We were told that next year they plan on aging 50% of the batch in bourbon barrels, which will up the ABV a few %. I think everyone present let out a loud and appreciative “Oooohhh” at that. 10.8% ABV. 5 stars+

Fourth, and the last non-sour, was Deschutes’ The Abyss (2011). I have been really wanting to try this as this year’s version is being released today. It is an Imperial stout that used licorice and molasses in the kettle. It was 28% barrel-aged (11% Pinot noir, 15% bourbon, 2% raw Oregon oak barrels). It is relatively the same each year. My first reaction was a thoughtful “Hmmm.” I didn’t want to be hasty but I was definitely underwhelmed. It has a chocolate taste late in the mouth. It is tasty but I have to say it is no Black Butte Porter XXIV. 11% ABV. I gave it 4 stars and am hopeful for this year’s batch. It won World’s Best Stout & Porter at the 2012 World Beer Awards, which in my humble opinion it does not deserve. A damn fine beer it is but Black Butte XXIV Porter is better and Midnight Suns’ Berserker Imperial Stout blows them both away.

With any luck we will be one of the lucky few at the release party today to get in on the vertical tasting of 2008-2012 batches of The Abyss. Perhaps I’ll revise my opinion then. [Turns out they have moved up the time when the limited flights will be available and it isn’t looking good. We both questioned this on Twitter—mostly as to what time they really were being served—and got an interesting reply back so we’ll see.]

Fifth, and the first sour, was Tart of Darkness from The Bruery (Orange County, California). It was a sour stout made with cherries and aged in oak barrels. It tasted much lighter than it looked. 5.6% ABV. 4 stars.

Next was The Dissident from Deschutes, which we have also had recently and of which I have 2 bottles in the Cellar. It is made every other year and uses a secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces. Currently made in batches of 200 barrels they are aiming to begin producing it every year. 11.4% ABV. 5 stars. This won World’s Best Oud Bruin and Americas Best Oud Bruin at the 2012 World Beer Awards. World’s Best? I don’t know but it is certainly one of the finest sours produced outside of Belgium.

Next to last was Sang Noir from Cascade Brewing (Portland). Pretty darn sour. Light and thin but very sour. Cherries. Aged in French oak and bourbon barrels. 9.5% ABV. I gave it 4/3 stars. For me it was a 3 but I wondered if I were judging it too harshly since it had pushed past my acceptability for sourness.

Last was The Collage, also from Deschutes. We have also tasted this since being here and have a bottle in the Cellar. It comes from a collaboration with Hair of the Dog (Portland) and is a blend of Deschutes’ The Dissident (but unsoured) and The Stoic (a quad we are still waiting to try) and Hair of the Dog’s Fred  (10% ABV Golden Strong ale) and Adam (10% ABV; their 1st beer). It is 100% barrel-aged in 6 different types of barrels. Hair of the Dog uses a peat malt. It is tasty, no doubt, but it seems all the work is over much for the end result. 11.6% ABV. 4 stars.

I must say, though, that I am definitely looking forward to tasting Fred and Adam and other Hair of the Dog beers some day.

After the tasting we were still hungry so we moved downstairs for some dinner. Sara and I shared an Ashton’s Fresh Hop Strong London Gold which was excellent but perhaps not the best idea after all those other strong beers. And I had even been finishing a couple of Sara’s that she did not. I really felt it the next day!

It was, of course, election night and some of those at our table had been (::grumble:: understandably ::grumble::) refreshing their phones all evening as returns came in. During dinner we learned of a couple states’ equal marriage bills passing, Colorado’s passing of their marijuana bill, and of the reelection of Obama. Many people in the pub seemed genuinely happy at much of this but there were definitely groups of assorted sizes who were not. “Sorry if our reasonably joyous celebrations were disturbing you.” No, honestly, I’m not. Deschutes County is a lot more red than I ever might have imagined before moving here. I can see it now but I still find it hard to believe.

All in all, it was a tasty and enjoyable evening.

One of my favorite lines from Barrel Master Jacob Harper was one of the reasons why one might want to barrel-age a beer: “To add mystique to an already good beer.” I’ll raise my glass to a little mystique!

 

My Two-Thirds Book Challenge Personal Assessment

In October 2011, after finishing another book reading challenge, which a friend of mine had handled excellently, I decided it was my turn to reciprocate, and I wanted another reading challenge, so I came up with the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.

This post is my reflection on how it went for me.

Initial choices

I made a list of 30 books of which I hoped to read 20. Then, because I’m a cataloger/classifier, I divided them into 6 gross categories just to see what areas I had picked and then to maybe lean towards reading at least one from each to ensure my reading stayed broad. (Of course, I read many other books during this timeframe that were not on my Challenge list. Many of those were graphics novels and poetry.) After a couple of months, because of certain timely shifts in interest I non-specifically substituted 2 books.

My full set of initial choices and their categories can be seen at My Two-Thirds Book Challenge.

How it worked out

The following is how it worked out for me. The books listed are the ones I finished (and 2 which I started but did not finish yet):

HISTORY / ANTHROPOLOGY / RELIGION

The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell

The Myth of the Eternal Return: Cosmos and History by Mircea Eliade

PHILOSOPHY

In Defence of the Enlightenment by Tzvetan Todorov (substitute)

LITERATURE / FICTION / POETRY / CRITICISM

Pale Fire (Everyman’s Library, #67) by Vladimir Nabokov

The Way It Is by William Stafford

Transformations by Anne Sexton

PROFESSIONAL READING

(Began only) Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet by Christine L. Borgman

(Began only) Libraries and the Enlightenment by Wayne Bivens-Tatum (substitute)

Thoughts/Commentary

As is fairly evident, I did not do well with the challenge I set myself. I finished 6 books (30%) and began 2 others out of the 20 I was aiming for.

Now, there are extenuating circumstances seeing as we moved halfway across the country this summer, which sucked up an awful lot of time. We also jumped into life in Bend with both feet when we arrived which only made the moving in process longer. (I hope to be writing here about some of the things we have done since arriving in Bend soon).

Extenuating circumstances or not, I am perfectly happy with the way the challenge turned out for me as I explicitly learned something about myself. I was loosely aware of it before, but this just cemented it.

That is, there are too many interesting books out there for me to specify what I will be reading over the next year.

I still want, and intend, to read all of the books on my challenge list. Just as I intend to read many others on previous lists or those on no particular list. There will also be many new books or books new to me that I will read. (E.g., we have acquired 136 books in the 1st 9 months of 2012 (during the Challenge) but that number doesn’t include books acquired in Oct-Dec 2011, nor the many books read from assorted libraries.)

So, the bottom line is, I need a somewhat looser form of reading challenge to be ‘successful’ by any sort of standard measure. Maybe as vague as “I’ll read x number of books in the next year” is the best I can do. I would hope to be able to provide a little more structured early guidance to myself perhaps, but I’m not sure I know what that is. While my reading choices are not fully based on whim by any means, they are heavily influenced by a wide variety of input mechanisms—friends (in assorted ways), sites like Goodreads or Library Thing, tweets by others, the book catalogs that two librarians (us) receive in the mail, browsing shelves in multiple places, book reviews stumbled across, and so on and on.

There simply are too many books out there waiting to be read for me to be so scheduled about what I will read. And I am perfectly happy with that.

I hereby declare the Two-Thirds Book Challenge a success for me. I look forward to seeing how the other participants assess their own personal Challenges.

 

 

 

Doty, The Art of Description: World into Word

The art of description: world into wordMark Doty; Graywolf Press 2010WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

I really enjoyed this book while it was utterly frustrating at the same time.

It opens with an epigraph by Lyn Hejinian: “We delight in our sensuous involvement with the materials of language, we long to join words to the world—to close the gap between ourselves and things—and suffer from doubt and anxiety because of our inability to do so.”

My own experiences with attempting to turn the world into words, whether in prosaic conversation or in my more lyrical moments, are reflected in Doty’s attempt at explaining ‘how’ to do something inherently undoable, while my rational, logical side kept screaming “Just tell me what to do.” In reality, I know that my experience is correct, and while some people may be better at it or find it easier, that this is our essential existential condition.

Contents:

  • World into Word
  • A Tremendous Fish
  • Remembered Stars
  • Instruction and Resistance
  • Four Sunflowers
  • Description’s Alphabet [a letter-by-letter romp through selected concepts/ideas]

Some of my favorite quotes:

• “each descriptive act is one attempt to render the world, subject to revision. Perception is provisional; it gropes, considers, hypothesizes. Saying is now a problematic act, not a given; one might name what one sees this way, but there’s also that one, and that one.” 19

• “Poetry concretizes the singular, unrepeatable moment; it hammers out of speech a form for how it feels to be oneself.” 21

• “That is what artistic work and child’s play have in common; both, at their fullest, are experiences of being lost in the present, entirely occupied.” 23 [flow]

• “It’s the unsayability of what being is that drives the poet to speak…” 30

• “saying what you see and saying what you see.” 45

• Incomplete: “The power of this strategy is partly a function of the humility of the speaker, who does not presume knowledge, but involves us in his active quest for it, and takes the limits of language and understanding not as a reason for silence.” 89

• Uncertainty: “Questions are always a little more trustworthy than answers. And even if what is said does not take the rhetorical form of a question, the best descriptions contain room for that which must remain indeterminate; they somehow manage to acknowledge the fact of limit.” 126

This book is part of the usually high-quality The Art of series, which is a series of smallish books on topics of the writing craft. I have read a couple of these and have one more that I recently acquired.

I have and have read The Art of the Poetic Line by James Longenbach, which I remember finding useful. Waiting for me to read is Dean Young’s The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction.

I also read Ellen Bryan Voigt’s The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song and I pretty much hated it. It may, in fact, be an excellent book but she realizes entirely on music theory and concepts to discuss syntax and seeing as my knowledge of music theory is pretty much deficient I couldn’t understand what she was trying to tell me. While her method may be quite valuable, there are also other ways to discuss poetic syntax and I guess I needed one of those. I certainly need to learn more about musical concepts and theory also. That is a given.

If you are interested in writing, be it fiction, nonfiction or poetry, I suggest you at least prod the books in this series.

Two-Thirds Book Challenge Update 6

This is update 6 in the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.

Helen

Helen has been quite busy this month … catching up on blogging things that she has read over the last few months.

Trinity by Leon Uris

She gave this one 5 stars in goodreads. “It is a dreary & beautiful slog through fictionalized history of a conquered people.” See her review for more.

The Littlest Hitler by Ryan Boudinot

This collection of short stories garnered 3 stars from her. While the “stories were all technically very well written” she “just kept thinking over and over that it was all trying too hard. The writing was effortless and a pleasure to read, but the story was always a little too hip, a little too cool, a little too ‘look how shocking.'” She hopes to try some of his more recent stuff before writing him off.

Pure Drivel by Steve Martin

“Usually I love Steve Martin’s writing, but this one was a miss for me.” 3 stars. See her review for why this one just didn’t work for her.

Scenes From An Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine

Another 5 star book. “I hear that this comic isn’t his best work from lots of folks, but since a) I’ve read and loved all his work and b) I feel a kinship to his attitude about most things, I feel qualified to say this book was awesome.” As someone ‘recently’ married, she has convinced me to read it.

Murder Unleashed by Rita Mae Brown

“This story is a murder mystery that encompasses a wide variety of topics including but not limited to: the mortgage crisis, squatter’s rights, hunger both human and animal, coyote’s and ranch politics, cattle farming, campaign finance, school buses, and sex industry workers. I’m sure there was more, plus the everyday lives of regular characters. The story is easy and RMB has a gift for packing a lot of content into a weekend read without making it laborious.”

She thinks the series is improving but read her review to find out why she only gave it 3 stars.

 Jen!!

After a drought, two books down

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

“This is the fourth book in the Dresden series and I loved it. It lived up to Butcher’s standards for adventure, inventiveness, and fun.”

Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes

“[I]nspired by a reference in The Violets of March” she was led into the Stacks at UIUC and was “glad that I followed through on reading it. … Indeed, I found it a thoughtful telling of a life, the choices made, and the results that come from those choices.”

Sounds like a good read. And Brava, Jen, for daring the Stacks! I miss them so very, very much!

The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer

Past, present, Vienna, World War II, art, death and lovers. Wow. “The book drew me in almost instantly, making want to know more about the characters–their past, their future, how they would deal with the present. … This book is a wonderful get-a-way from the day to day and I especially like the time shifting of it and getting to witness the impact that the choices made in one’s youth had on the future.”

Sara

Quiet Renaissance Power

Sara reviewed two books “that were very different but struck similar chords” for her, which she read during the same time period as part of her Creativity theme for the 2/3rds Book Challenge: Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain, and The Renaissance Soul: life design for people with too many passions to pick just one by Margaret Lobenstine.

“In the end, I benefited from reading both of these books and I think reading them at the same time worked out really well. From Renaissance Soul, I have a list of specific goals and a timeline which actually feels realistic. From Quiet, I have several other book recommendations (I think I’ll finally get around to reading Flow now) and better ways of articulating what I need to myself and others.”

She does caution readers about an “us and them” premise which is present in both books, though.

E

The Wild Palms (If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem) by William Faulkner

This was a tough one for E but it will be with her for a long time. Life often puts these complex and difficult texts in front of us during times of stress, whether we need them or not, and they change us; often for the better, more often not appreciated until much later.

Read her powerful review.

“Do I even need to tell you that there can’t possibly be a happy ending? “That story ends very badly for all involved, you know.” “Don’t all the good ones?” And then there’s this, where I am right now, drinking bourbon in the back room of my new apartment in Pilsen, listening to the whistle of trains in the distance, scanning for the moon against the night sky.”

Keep scanning for the moon, my friend. She’ll always be there for you. Day or night, day and night, she has always been there for me.

Mark

In Defence of the Enlightenment by Tzvetan Todorov

I really wanted to like this book but it let me down. Sure, my review is far more nuanced than that, and I am glad I read it, but that is the gist of my reaction to it.

See you next month.

Personal Learning

Sara and started reading this book to each other on 2 January:

I read the Preface and Chap. 1 (out loud) the first evening. As of Thursday night we are through chapter 4. We have more or less alternated reading to each other since then.

This book is on my 12 Books, 12 Months Challenge list.  I began reading it last April but about 3 chapters in it got interrupted by wedding planning/prep, getting married, and moving. I still wanted to read it, and hopefully apply some of it in my life, so I added it to my 12 Books list.

The reason we are reading this book and that I mention it here are that Sara and I are trying to get a little more serious about taking our personal learning and growth into our own hands.  This, of course, also includes professional learning and growth.  Sara’s opportunities are a bit more limited here than where we were previously, and with me unemployed mine are severely more limited.

An apropos epigraph from the book:

“Learning is not a task or a problem—it is a way to be in the world. Man learns as he pursues goals and projects that have meaning for him.” – Sidney Jourard (44) [Info on who he is. I had to look him up. His sexist language is reportedly a product of his time; not his beliefs.]

Contents:

  • Peak learning: skills for today and tomorrow
  • Science confirms it: you are a superb learner!
  • Entering the flow state to overcome your learning fears
  • Building your learning confidence
  • Discovering your personal learning profile
  • Improving your learning, reading, and memory skills
  • Developing your critical and creative thinking
  • Designing your optimal learning environment
  • Peak learning in cyberspace
  • Setting up your own learning projects
  • L(earning) your living: self development for career success
  • The invisible university: learning resources from A to Z

The book is addressed to the adult learner.  It tries to show that the experiences you had in school are not applicable to learning now.  And unlike school, where you were simply told to learn, it attempts to help the learner learn not only how to learn but how they as an individual learn  best.

Some of the myths that it seeks to dispel are: Learning is a boring unenjoyable activity; learning deals only with the subjects and skills taught in schools; We must be passive and receptive to “absorb” knowledge; You must put yourself under the tutelage of a teacher; It has to be systematic, logical, and planned; and, It needs to be thorough or it’s not worth doing (47-50).

This book was last updated in 1999 and I really wish it would be updated again.  There have been big advancements made in the brain and behavioral sciences regarding learning since then.  As to the resources that are now available compared to the Internet of 1998 or so one can only respond, “Oh my!”

If you can get it from a library it might be worth a look. There seems to be an awful lot of extraneous fluff between, and supposedly in support of, the actual useful bits. I already owned a used copy so we’re making use of it.

My Topics of Interest

Some of the topics on my list are:

  • WordPress (WP, PHP, SQL, etc.)
  • HTML5, CSS3 & related web technologies
  • photography (how to use my cameras)
  • poetry
  • topics within language (rhetoric, grammar, …)
  • math
  • physics
  • philosophy (assorted topics)
  • the brain and cognitive sciences
  • Buddhism, Islam, Tao Te Ching
  • how to use our new food processor

No doubt there are many others that I have forgotten. I will leave Sara to spell out her interests in her own time and fashion, as she sees fit.

Tools

We are trying to find the tools and software that will work for us, whether it is something one or the other of us has already been using or whether we need to find something else instead.

For instance, she’s been a big user of Evernote.  Although I created an account almost 2 years ago I never took to it.  For assorted reasons we’ve been looking at DEVONthink as a replacement for Evernote and to assist in other ways. [  Mac only software ]  Somewhat sadly, it doesn’t have some features that we truly need.  Then again, not too sad as it saves us a fair bit of money.  Still, worth looking at if your needs are not the same as ours, and there is an educator/student discount of 25%.  They also have some free tools that look to be quite useful.

For now I am trying out Evernote a bit more seriously than the first time.

Resources

Here is a draft list of some of the books we are considering reading to each other as part of our individual personal learning plans (take your pick, goodreads or Open Library).  These are titles about literature, the “Great Books” and the canon.

These are all books that we already own, and there are several others that we also already own on the same subjects that could be added.  I also have plenty of books on mathematics, physics, and so on in our collection.  Some are books I have meant to read for several years now.  I just need to add them to the list(s).

We both have many interests and there is a plethora of quality resources available for free today, assuming one has an Internet connection.  Of course, libraries will also continue to serve our needs for the more tangible products and ebooks.

Without having begun a formal probe of resources, I am aware of iTunes U, free college courses & lectures from MIT and Harvard and others, the Khan Academy, and many, many other sources.  For more fully textual resources there is Hathi Trust, feedbooks, Project Gutenberg, libraries both public and academic, and other sources.

In fact, a good resource arrived in the mail this week: the spring catalog for the local community college, Western Iowa Tech Community College.  They have a lifelong learning program that has a fair few interesting looking programs, many of which are free.  And it costs all of $5/year.  Sara found things of interest too.

This morning (Sat.) we drove over and registered as Lifelong Learning members and we signed up for some things, most free.  I signed up for 2 tours, 3 lunch programs and a lecture.  Since Sara works full-time she was only able to sign up for 2 things.

  • 2 World Cuisine and Culture lunch programs:  New Zealand, and Malaysia.
  • Art & Sandwiches lunch program on John Singer Sargent’s Madame X. A favorite of Sara’s
  • Tour of the American Pop Corn Co. (Jolly Time)
  • Tour of Central High School and Apartments (the Castle)
  • American History: The Iranian Hostage Crisis (lecture)

I am interested in the Iranian Hostage Crisis lecture as I was a young soldier in the Army when this event happened.  It was a defining event in US international relations and still haunts us to this day.  I also met one of the hostages much later in my career and was able to help him in a small way that seriously pushed the boundaries of what I knew at the time.

Future posts?

I hope to have some more posts about assorted issues related to our adventures in personal learning in the future.  Some potential topics include:

  • Some of the ways I’ve organized and used (or not used) different tools at different times
  • List of resources in general, and by assorted topics
  • Updates on how things progress

Final thoughts

Plans will be made (but not over made), resources compiled, topics probed, things learned.

What are some of the things you would like to learn?  Any suggested resources that you would recommend?