A Month of Quiet Learning

Well, it has been quiet on “Learn With Me Now” for about a month now. I guess that is the price of being up to my eyeballs in the work that I do. The learning continues, but the writing does not. Here are some things that I’ve come close to writing about in the past month:

My post on January 24 about learning to be a better guitar player caused me to do some deeper thinking about the focus of this blog. I realized that “learn[ing] something new every day” is not really a well-rounded goal. It seems to suggest a constant flow of new ideas and a quick grasp of those ideas. But, like guitar-playing, some things need to be practiced. And then there are old, familiar ideas that need to age and mature; ideas that one understands better with time. So I realized that there are at least three different kinds of daily learning. There is the learning of something new, there is the practice of a skill, and there is reflection on the big ideas. Any of these is well worth a daily visit, but not all are, technically, something “new.”

I have been reading Chaim Potok again. Specifically, I read My Name is Asher Lev, and I am now reading The Gift of Asher Lev. I still love Potok’s writing. My wife, the English teacher once described Potok’s writing as being so good that you don’t even notice it. The calm, thoughtful, provocative writing in the Asher Lev books fits well with my contemplative frame of mind these days.

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Invention continued this past month as I had to find a way to remove a lot of snow from some of my roofs. With over 2 feet of snow compacted on my roofs, I did a bit of research to try to discover how much was too much. I found that, in this part of the country, the building codes typically call for roofs to handle 20 pounds per square foot. Typically it requires 4 feet of snow before there is a weight concern. But, the notion of “typical” is very misleading when it comes to snow. Snow can be very lightweight when it is dry, or very heavy when it is wet. So how close was I to 20 pounds per square foot? No way to know. I figured that since it was the middle of February, the likelihood of more snow to come was pretty high. So the safest route was to remove some snow. Well, enough other people felt the same way that the stores were completely sold out of snow rakes. Nothing left to do but design and make one myself.

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A colleague at work shared an article about Silicon Valley tech leaders who send their children to a private school that eschews the use of technology. The irony was palpable, but they have good reasons for what they are doing. At about the same time I was browsing in some materials we had picked up on a vacation to the Blue Ridge Parkway a few years ago. I was looking at a publication about moonshine. On one of the pages was this lovely quote:

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It’s probably going too far to equate those thoughts with the tech industry and their interest in public schooling, but maybe not.

In any event, the learning continues. The writing will continue also, but only when inspiration leads.