Tuesday, March 31, 2020

At-home learning #16

Shop (yes!) locally
You can still do a lot of everyday tasks and shopping while stores are closed. And get something yummy when you're bored with your own cooking. Here's a list of Bangor businesses that are doing curbside pickup and/or delivery:

Go to a concert
Numerous orchestras and other music organizations in Europe and the U.S. are offering streaming concerts free. We've posted some of these before, but list is really comprehensive. It's updated frequently. Note that many of the concerts are streamed live, so you'll want to tune in at the right time.

Visit a museum
We've talked about this before, but more and more museums are making their collections available online. Here's another list:

Monday, March 30, 2020

At-home learning #15

Help us help our members!
It looks like we'll be home for another month. Please help us all keep active and happy by sending us suggestions for stay-at-home learning and activities. Use "Email us" form at the side of this page.

Meanwhile, stay Covid-aware:
Much of what we hear is conflicting and confusing. A good source of information is the New York Times, and they've made much of their Covid-19 coverage available for free:

Sunday, March 29, 2020

At-home learning #14

We've hit a milestone: two weeks of at-home learning suggestions. Scroll down (and keep scrolling!) to find over 50 ideas and links for continuing to stretch your brain while hunkering down at home. And more to come!

Find a new place to walk
Tired of the neighborhood? How many places can you think of to take a walk after a short drive, say, within 10 miles of your house? Or even 20 miles? Trails are still muddy, but there are possibilities. Even a different neighborhood in your own town could be fun.

Have a cleaning contest
Challenge your family or friends to see who can come up with the cleanest closet, most empty drawers, most bags for the Salvation Army, or whatever challenge you can think of. We're currently closing in on an embarrassing goal: the most-expired canned good/spices. Current champ: a 2014 bottle of sesame seeds.

Watch the northern lights
The website https://explore.org/livecams/zen-den/northern-lights-cam lets you watch the aurora borealis from your armchair. Scroll down, but on the way you'll notice lots of other wildlife webcams. Why not check them all out?

See the Japanese cherry blossoms:

And don't forget the virtual museum tours
There are so many!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

At-home learning #13

Have a party:
So you live alone, or with only one or two others? You can still have a great party. Have a theme: international, Hawaiian, costume, English tea, whatever your imagination conjures up. Make some special food. Set a special table. this works best if you can share with others via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, or just sending photos back and forth. That way you'll be motivated.

Try an art lesson:
OK, you're not Rembrandt. Maybe you can't even draw a straight line. But what better time to fool around with art than now, no one, not even the instructor, can see you? The UMaine Museum of Art is offering free online lessons right now:

Throwback TV fun
Remember "What's My Line?" Every surviving episode (1950-70) is available on YouTube.

Selected other oldie TV is available at http://www.classic-tv.com/watch. Ignore the ads saying "Watch Now" and just click on the one you want. The playback is built into the site.

Be an armchair archivist:
It seems research libraries are looking for volunteers to help them with a variety of chores that can be done at home. If you love books and obscure texts, this may be for you!

Still more ideas:
A lovely, almost-endless list of things to do, categorized by the mood you might be in (creative? cleaning? social?) is at https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/fun-things-to-do-at-home-35003444

Friday, March 27, 2020

At-home learning #12

Watch or listen to a Shakespeare play:
The Folger Shakespeare Library at Harvard has made a full-length video of Macbeth available for free. There are lots of extra articles and videos about the play and the production.

For audio recordings of seven major plays:

Change up a room:
There's no getting around it: we're going to get tired of looking at the same old walls. So:
Plan a trip
We can dream, can't we? No need to schedule anything, but what better time to plot out a dream road trip, European junket, or cross-country expedition? Find fun places to stay, figure out the must-see attractions, look at pictures. Go low-tech and dig out the atlas; follow a blue highway. You might even send away for a tour book--New Brunswick has a beauty, for free. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

At-home learning #11

We're continuing our very long list of ways to keep learning and stay sane:

Follow your bliss
You didn't get to learn something new from one of our wonderful PVSC instructors. So? Teach yourself more about something you already love. One member spent a happy morning going down Google rabbit holes and digging out books, pursuing her love of opera. (Okay, it was me, trying to fit the major composers onto a mental timeline, which turned into a written timeline.)  It may not exactly be structured learning, the kind you'd get in a classroom, but it IS learning. We do what we can!

Keep your spirits up
As this thing goes on, find cheer wherever you can. Plant some seeds in pots. Buy flowers. Sing. Listen to music. Watch comedies. Most important: keep talking to friends and family by phone, Skype, FaceTime.

Revisit an old hobby or start a new one
Admittedly, this might be easier said than done. You might need supplies that aren't readily available. But if you have a half-knitted sweater or a bunch of soap- or candle-making stuff hiding in your house, this would be a great time to revisit them.

One of the easiest old or new hobby to work on right now is collage. Unless you're extravagantly organized, you have magazines and newspapers that can be cut up, their parts assembled in new ways. As your inclinations take you, you can go beyond the bulletin-board type inspirational collage, with cut-out words, and move more toward artistic expression. Maybe even go beyond paper and use 3D objects. The good news: there's no wrong way to make a collage!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

At-home learning #10

Learn about weather
A meteorologist is giving a half-hour lesson each day on YouTube:

An evening "out"
I met a neighbor out walking--wearing a cocktail dress and jewelry under her parka. After the walk, she was having a fancy dinner at home. They had cooked a special meal and were dressing for dinner. Very cheering and fun.

If you happen to have a guitar or ukelele you can't play:
Fender is offering free lessons to the first 100,000 people to sign up.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Well, why not: this series is intended for kids, but what fun! Mo Willems, creator of hilarious children's books featuring the pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, and others, gives an online drawing lesson each day.

And speaking of drawing . . .:
As someone said, this is like Pictionary with a robot. Check out Google's quick-draw challenge (it only works on a device you can draw on--phone or tablet).

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

At-home learning #9

Experts say that whatever you can do at home is important and necessary for these aging bodies.

  • Walk around the house while you're on the phone. 
  • Dance, with or without actual music. 
  • Dig out those resistance bands and use them. 
  • Do knee bends and stretches while you're watching (lots of ?!) TV. 
  • Go up and down the stairs as many times as you can comfortably manage. 
  • And, of course, keep walking around the neighborhood, alone or at a 6-ft. distance from a friend.
Listen to poetry
Patrick Stewart reads one Shakespeare sonnet each day. On YouTube, search for Patrick Stewart.

Write letters and cards
If you usually email, a  real letter would be fun. Or a card, maybe a self-printed or hand-drawn one. If you have stash of greeting cards, write cheery messages and bundle them up for a nursing home.

A chapter a day
OK, maybe you won't get through War and Peace. But what if you got out a dusty book that you always meant to read and just read the first chapter? Maybe the second chapter the next day? Who knows where it might lead?

Monday, March 23, 2020

At-home learning #8

Neighborhood touring
You're probably already taking walks. But it might be fun to give yourself a challenge. Could you, for example, guess when each house you pass was built, within, say, 20 years? Or, in the woods, how many kinds of trees can you identify without their leaves? How many signs of spring or animal tracks can you find? How many kinds of cars can you identify? 

Walking and shooting
A wise photographer's best advice for great pictures: "Find something interesting and point your camera at it." You could record evidence of our current self-isolating lifestyle: empty parking lots, people walking 6 ft. apart. You can give yourself photo themes: extreme close-ups, things getting ready to bloom, interesting trash, feet, leaves, potholes, melting ice, etc. 

Free books, print and audio:
As much as you may love reading, the eyes eventually grow tired. Try listening instead:
Librivox has a gazillion titles. A couple of caveats: these aren't going to be hot best-sellers; these are mostly out of print (or they wouldn't be free!). They're read by volunteers, so there will be variations in quality. Have some ideas about what you're looking for; the catalog is large. You could also try the Digital Book site:
https://librivox.org/ or https://www.digitalbook.io/

Don't forget Project Gutenberg for classic ebooks. Multiple formats, so you can read on a laptop, Kindle, and more.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

At-home learning #7

Before we get on with tips for stay-at-home learning, huge thanks to PVSC president Ann Torrey for a constant stream of links and ideas for this blog, and for amazing leadership in this very weird month of constant changes. Thanks to Administrative Assistant Sheila Krautkremer for doing a tremendous job of processing refund and donation requests, on top of getting our first online semester underway, then having to cancel it. And thanks to the entire PVSC Board, which has worked overtime to keep us on an even keel, with members their top priority.

We might need a new slogan for this quarantine: "Stay sane and use your brain!" So, on with it:

Start your memoir:
Yesterday we suggested a journal. Another approach: your life story, or some part(s) of it. If you don't think you have anything important to say, start with what's changed since you were a kid. After all, we've come through huge international events, from the Cold War to JFK to the space program, to say nothing of going from telephone party lines to videoconferencing. Maybe a little writing each day, so it doesn't seem overwhelming?

Keep informed about Covid-19:
The New York Times has a free newsletter:

When was the last time you sang out loud? It's impossible to be depressed when you're singing. Rusty vocal chords? Nobody cares. Take inspiration from the Italians:

Have a virtual party:
My kids and I had a cocktail party. We each created a cocktail or non-alcoholic party drink from ingredients on hand and gave it a name. At 5:30 we posted photos and chatted via text.
Photo: my invention, "Washington's Monument."

There are endless possibilities: a cookie party, appetizer party, smoothie party.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

At-home learning #6

It looks like this thing will go on for quite a while. But spring is slowly creeping in, so be sure to get outdoors. A daily walk is a great way to counter the blahs. While you're indoors, here are some more ideas for continuing to learn and stay sane:

Pamper yourself

Dig out all the bath and body products you've got stashed away somewhere. That hair product your kids talked you into? The foot cream someone put in your Christmas stocking? Use them. Then give yourself and your fellow inmates a pedicure.

Write something
Why not start a journal? There's no better way to unload some frustration and make a record for your great-grandchildren of the Great Self-Quarantine of 2020. Of course, it doesn't have to be about our currently altered lives. It could be about nature, or family, or just short observations about what's around you. Or whatever you're thinking about.

Write some poetry, or an actual snail-mail letter or two.  Or a song.

Try something crazy to stretch your brain:
(Thanks to a USA Today article for these:
  • Do some things with your non-dominant hand, like brushing your teeth or using scissors. 
  • Eat your meals backwards for a day: meat and potatoes for breakfast, bacon and eggs for dinner.
  • Speak in Pig Latin for a morning. Ig-pay Atin-lay.
Learn something new:
PBS has pages for teachers that could teach us all about an interesting variety of topics, from Jackie Robinson to The Handmaid's Tale: 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

At-home learning, #4

We've been focusing on ways to keep learning online, but of course we can't spend all day staring at screens. Please help us create a giant list of non-media things to do. Use the email form in the right-hand panel.

Here are more suggestions, both online and not, for learning and staying cheerful (scroll down for many more):

Tackle those long-put-off projects:
Clean a closet. Clear out a drawer. Tackle that lo-o-o-ng book or movie.

Try something new:
You know the experts say the only way to keep the older brain from rotting is to give it new challenges. The newspaper has possibilities: Sudoku, crossword, Jumble, or Scrabble. Pages you don't usually read, like financial, food, Homestead.

Dig out an old cookbook and try a new recipe. Or see what new dish you can put together from ingredients already in the pantry.

Finally learn how to use Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime so you can keep in closer touch with distant friends and family.

Watch the jellyfish and penguins and hippos:
And the otters, penguins, sharks, sea lions and more! Check out the Monterey Aquarium and Georgia Aquarium's live webcams. The Cincinnati Zoo will have a live "safari" daily at 3 PM on Facebook, which will also be available as videos on their webpage:

Explore outer space:
NASA has put its entire photo collection online at https://www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-images-archive#.XnInJahKi70

Learn about classical music:
The Detroit Symphony Orchestra has made its "classroom edition" of concerts available for free:

Watch dance, theater, opera:
The Folger Shakespeare Library offers a list of Shakespeare plays and adaptations available on your favorite streaming service:

You could also consider a trial membership in a streaming content provider. On Broadway HD, a free week plus $9 for the next month gets you all Broadway shows you can handle. Marquee TV (British dance, theater, opera) offers a full month trial membership. But put the cancellation date on your calendar! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

At-home learning, #3

Today's Bangor Daily has a list of restaurants and stores offering pick-up and delivery services. The City has created parking spaces especially for this purpose. See the "Food" section of today's paper or go to https://bangordailynews.com/2020/03/17/news/bangor/here-are-the-bangor-restaurants-and-stores-offering-pickup-and-delivery/

More ways to keep the brain active while isolating:

Try Great Courses:
On offer: a month free trial, rather than two weeks. A huge range of thorough instruction by experts. Use the code FREEMO at checkout. Don't forget to cancel in a month!

One-stop shopping for FREE courses, audio books, movies, language learning, and more (even museum coloring pages!):

Explore foreign film: 
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20181029-the-100-greatest-foreign-language-films. You'll have to track them down, but it's a starting point.

Ken Burns' "Baseball," free at PBS:

Art/crafts projects, especially to do with grandkids:
On Facebook, search mcharper manor. Tutorials are live-streamed daily, with links to video for later use.

National parks, from your sofa:

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

At-home learning, Part 2

Continuing with ideas for stuck-at-home fun and stimulation, here are a few performances you can watch. And of course there are a gazillion available on YouTube; you could spend hours just browsing.

Note that some of these will require a streaming device. And be aware that thousands of stay-at-homes are finding these freebies, so sites could crash or become inaccessible. The Met Opera's first night of free streaming is a good example--but if you can't get on in the evening, try the next morning; each opera is available until the next afternoon.



Stay tuned! 
We plan to add to these suggestions every few days for the duration!

Monday, March 16, 2020

At-home learning

We're sad at having to cancel our spring semester and want to help fill in the gap. So here are some ideas for continuing to learn in the confines of our own snug homes:

Live, free online opera begins tonight! The Metropolitan Opera is offering a nightly video from its archive of Live in HD productions. "Carmen" tonight, with a jaw-dropping performance by Elena Garanca. "La Boheme" tomorrow; how can you miss?

Field trips! OK, these are intended for kids, but who's more a kid at heart than a senior?https://www.waterford.org/resources/3-great-virtual-field-trips-for-early-learners/

Art: Feeling creative and need some images or a jump-start? Or just want to browse great art from great museums? Here are a couple of free museum collections to get you started, and you can find more by Googling "free museum art."


Take a course: You can take a ton of English, business, science, social science and other courses for free from Ivy League schools:

And of course there's always Khan Academy. Though originally intended for high school students, there's course work here on pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about:

Stay tuned for more!

Saturday, March 14, 2020

We have to cancel

Like so many other organizations and educational groups, we've regretfully cancelled our spring semester. Though it was the only reasonable thing to do, it made us sad.😌

But we're determined to keep the spirit of learning for fun and stimulation alive, and maybe help stave off cabin fever, too! We'll be posting online and other learning opportunities as we find them. You can help by making suggestions. Just use the "Email us" form in the right-hand panel. Together, we'll get through these strange times!

Stay cheerful and healthy, help others, and let's see what creative hay we can make out of this new reality.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The courses are coming, the courses are coming!

The date we've all been waiting for is coming right up: March 23, when our courses begin. Mahjong and bridge, climate change and Buddhism, cooking and movies and literature and so much more!

Now that we're all 21st Century, it's easy to join up, find our courses and register. Just stop by
http://penobscotvalleyseniorcollege.org and everything is right there for you to peruse.

And don't forget the last of our winter events: Holocaust Center expert Erica Nadelhaft speaking on the German POW camps in Maine. Scroll down for details.

See you in class!