Sunday, April 29, 2007

I'm Really Going to Miss You All

After my first weekend of "real" class, I've made a discovery. My life has just completely changed. I have just finished blocking out on my calendar 5 hours per day, 7 days per week, for the next year, to work on my classwork. I have also blocked out 12 hours per day, 2 days per week, for the next year, to provide enough income to feed us and pay our bills (as you can guess, we have very few bills, and are learning to eat on a more frugal budget!) With a nutty schedule like this, yes, I'm really going to miss you all this year. But for today, I'm feeling "free" for a few minutes, although my mind is REELING as it tries to process all the new data it has been presented with. We got a new team member this weekend who seems to be a really nice addition to our group. He lives, works, and attends class with us (via electronic classroom technology) in Portugal. The way it works is this...while we are in class, there are two video cameras recording everything going on in the room. One camera is located at the back of the room and is focused on the instructor--quite cool as it tracks his or her movements around the room via a device worn around their necks. The other camera is located at the front of the room and kicks into play whenever one of us presses a button located in front of us. The button actuates our local microphones so that our questions or comments are broadcast for the remote students to hear, but they also cause the camera at the front of the room to lock in on the person speaking, so that students located wherever they are in the world can see us as well. Because the remote students do not have access to this kind of room, their comments are submitted via a "chat" feature that is running at the same time the classroom activities are running. This is also quite cool in that I can watch, and participate in, this running conversation on my computer screen while I am sitting in class and listening to the instructor. The entire setup is fabulous and appeals to my crazy sense of participation to be technically allowed to, as well as personally inclined to, participate in several concurrent conversations/activities. Yup, it's a crazy setup but instead of causing my attention to be diverted, it actually seems to enhance the entire learning experience because everything going on is so detailed, related, and engaging. It's like I'm learning at an incredibly high rate of speed. The problem is all in the aftermath. Because things come our way at such a velocity and level of intensity, after it is over (like today), my brain goes into a kind of neutral gear. I read somewhere once a theory that when we remember things that happened long ago, we are not actually remembering the event, but rather remembering the memories of it. In other words, the event is long wiped from our memories, but the fact that we've thought about it again, retold the story of it to others, looked at photos and videos of it, etc. make us think we remember the actual event. (This goes a long way in explaining why two people in attendance at the same event can remember it in extremely different ways.) Anyway, this is the way that learning works for me. If I walk away from the weekend and only think of it occasionally, it becomes less and less vivid for me. But if I review my notes, review the videos (oh yeah, another cool thing is that the entire class sessions are recorded and placed online for us to review over and over at our leisure!), and work at keeping the information in my brain, I have a much better chance of retaining more and more of it. Whew! What a crazy "brain fart" this posting has been! Sorry...I guess my brain is in really high gear still, although my body is just about dead to the world today. I might surprise us all and still find time to do a brain dump here on occasion and share what's going on in my life, but I also might ignore this blog when my lifestyle forces it. But I want you all to know that I think of you often--my friends, family, coworkers, and even a handful of interested acquaintances. Leo teases me sometimes and asks if I'm going to forget him, you guys, and this quiet place in the country when my head gets all full of ideas and I'm out there trying to do something about them. My answer is, absolutely not. This is my life, my home, my base, my foundation, and my grounding. While the other activities satisfy my needs for intellectual stimulation and to engage myself in something exciting and demanding, my life here with him (which includes my interactions with all of you) satisfy the more basic needs to be safe, to be comfortable, and to be loved.

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