I’ve dedicated a lot of my life to learning new things. It’s sort of the definition of my job. I have a real passion for learning. I don’t like testing so much, but just sitting back, listening….and comprehending all of the complicated shit around you. Just wow…
Sometimes I feel like I am smart. I’m probably more formally educated than 99.9% of the people on the planet. However, I feel an intelligent person is then smart enough to know how much you DON’T know – and is rather humbled by it. Yes, I collect cub scout badges for my job, it’s how I get paid, but there is just so much out there I’d love to learn if I had the time.
Below are some things I’d love to have many lifetimes to dedicate time to, if enough time could possibly exist to learn this stuff.
- Chess. I’m currently rated somewhere in the top 5,000-10,000 in the world or so with chess. Out of 7 billion people, that’s pretty good. However, as a child I’d spend hours reading through chess books. I went to some chess camp at Bentley College, and it was pretty interesting learning from some masters. One of my childhood adversaries has won the PA state championship a few times and ranked somewhere like 200 in the country. I would love to be able to dedicate my retirement to this, perhaps learn from some grand masters formally. I felt had I not changed schools between grade 8 and 9 and stayed at my previous school with the chess team…maybe…just maybe I might have taken this path in life. But wow, I’d love to spend a few weeks or months learning from some of the greats.
- Math. Again, something I was good at..but when numbers started becoming letters, there wasn’t a formal need for it any more for me. I’d love to really take some higher level calc. I took advanced physics in college, and I know how math really ties in with it…and I’d love to learn higher level math for then applying it to questions of the universe or the like.
- Piano. I played trumpet semi-professionally at times in my life, getting paid for a few gigs here and there, but overall I always had more of an ear for the piano. I simply don’t think I have the coordination to be playing chords with my left hand while playing a crazy melody with my right hand. However, listening to a good Chopin at times makes all right in the world. My favorite song of all time in any genre is Moonlight Sonata. To be able to play that at an expert level would be a lifelong accomplishment for me. My favorite song for the trumpet of all time was Haydn’s concerto in E flat. It’s three parts which all seem to have a unique feel but within the same theme. I heard a version from Rolf Smedvig about 15 years ago that still gives me chills with the solo sections. I played it once for a district audition and…it is a difficult piece, I’ll leave it at that. You can hear me on the trumpet here (at 3:55) or here at :34, 1:55, and at the very end.
- Food sciences. I’ve learned a ton from Alton Brown over the last year or so, but I’m really curious about how food works from a scientific level. What pairs with what…how to prepare certain things. Knife skills. What is braising? Tell me more about the Maillard effect and how it makes my beef stew taste so damn good. I’m learning how to make fresh pasta routinely now. I have food safety down pretty well, as I worked in food prep for 4 years. Anyway, I saw something like this article on facebook which talks about what your cravings are telling you. My cravings are always in the salty range. Stress? Youbetcha. My outlets for stress used to be things like chess, music, competitive athletics, fun dating, etc. Put someone in a highly stressful environment with no means of relieving that stress…and pizzas get ordered! Anyway, food sciences are fascinating to me, I just don’t like the idea of doing any redux equations like I had to do in AP chemistry. Talk to me about valence shells, we’re good. Try asking me how they balanced out redux equations? Not so good.
- Physiology and exercise sciences as it applies with food sciences. Certain things I eat taste so damn good, but they are bad for me. I would love to know more about the chemistry of food, how it works within your body….I understand a lot more than the average bear, but I also know there’s a LOT more out there to learn. Why can’t we make food that tastes amazing AND is healthy for you AND is visually appealing? Well, it’s part of what I’ve been trying to do the last 12 months or so. I feel there is a LOT going on with gut sciences that should be paid attention to. For example, if I eat McDonald’s one day – what kind of bacteria is growing in our guts, and what affect does that have on our central nervous system, brains, and decisions? Does that bad food make us lazy…does it make us cranky if we don’t get another fix? When I go on a run of healthy food for weeks on end, I feel amazing. Somehow, it’s always fucked up with an office party, some family holiday, and engine falling out of your car…or whatever….and the food you cheat with somehow then makes your healthy food not “satisfy” you like it did a few days ago. I feel there is a HUGE area of growth with gut sciences.
- Robotics. As someone who’s been in IT and programming for a bit, I kind of understand how this works now…but I still think it’s pretty cool to learn. For me, this is also tied into 3D printing. About 10 years ago, my company got a 3D printer to prototype turbines. It was fascinating. I started thinking of all of the possible applications for it – and guess what? This is the genesis of food replication sciences!
- Languages. I took 3 years or so of Spanish and 2 years of French. Actually won a Spanish scholarship. I’d love to learn more Spanish and pay attention this time….fulfill my destiny avec Francais. I’d also love to learn Portuguese and Italian. Portuguese sounds like a cross between French, Italian, and Spanish and I feel is the most beautiful language on the planet.
- Theoretical physics. I have math written above, but I’d love to sort of try this route. My dad used to talk with me about the universe all the time. We’d spend hours talking about black holes, gravity, stars, etc. He read Hawking’s book when I was young and while other kids were watching MTV, I’d sit at the dinner table and listen to him talk about quarks and light is both a particle and a wave…and wow..it just completely mesmerized me. There was also something he had told me about the twins, and one travels the speed of light and comes back a few hours later and everything had aged 100 years. So yeah, I also learned a lot about what E=mc^2 was maybe when I was 11. I had a presentation to do in 7th grade English, and when many kids were doing reports on football or some pop star, I did it on Einstein and spacetime. I really have problems comprehending how large the universe really is and spacetime was an interesting concept to learn…and things that really seem to bother me at times were what is outside of our known universe? Is it absolute zero when you get so far away? Is there a buffer land between our universe and other universes? Are we one of 35 quintillion universes? Will we ever break the universal speed limit of 186,000 miles per second? If we do, does that mean we simply arrive at our destination before anyone sees us arrive? Does our universe expand…and then do thermodynamics take over and contraction occurs? Does space have pressure areas like the inside of a weather system? Who has the most recent/accurate theories on string theory? I also came up with a rudimentary Higgs Boson concept in 2004 or so independent of knowing anything about what they were trying to do. (See below)
- Literature. I’ve read some of the classics as we all have. However, I had problems reading some of it. I was hard wired to read textbooks rather easily, but fiction has been tough on me. I love the stories, but I’d love to be able to read through many of these as an adult now. As a child, I related a lot to Great Expectations from Dickens for some reason. But there are many other classics out there I should read again or others for the first time. I read the Cliff’s notes for the Scarlett Letter rather than the book. Hawthorne had such amazing symbolism in that book that would have been totally lost on me had I not read the Cliff’s notes. Like – now as an adult, I should be able to pick up a lot more of these fine “notes” in reading that I would have missed as a kid trying to do an assignment.
- How to build shit. I’m useless around the house. However, I do like the concept of learning engineering/architecture. I once dated someone who was an engineer and reading through her text books was pretty kick ass. For example, you have to understand building materials. Granted, I have a background with some physics, so I was understanding thermodynamics, but then there are measures for viscosity, and many other items needed for such things like load-bearing beams. Again, did some of that with physics but not to this degree.
- Martial arts. I did a decent amount of this as a teenager in Isshin-Ryu karate…also took some jiu jitsu and tae kwon do in college and might be the biggest guy ever to be able to kick and apple off the top of your head. OK…maybe 10 years ago I could do that. I spent a lot of time with it, but now with the internet…I’d love to learn how they trained….fully commit to the discipline….understand the movements. Understand something like Bruce Lee’s form he invented.
- Phys Ed? So I was an athlete. You hear a lot from a lot of different inputs. When you should have protein…when you need to replenish electrolytes….should you have a banana 10 minutes or an hour after working out? How about peanut butter? What types of meals do these athletes eat…how much exercise are they doing per day? Are sit ups a colossal waste of time? I spent many, many many hours in athletics, but feel my food was my weak point. You know, hey…I’m going to run 7 miles today and then eat half a pizza. It’s just not really a good idea. As I got older, my exercised decreased but my food patterns remained the same. Nate, you no longer bike 20 miles then run 3 every Saturday and Sunday….so maybe you should cut back on the dessert when you go out. Or, better yet, don’t go out and learn to cook amazing food at home which perfectly fuels your body. I need a goddamn chef.
- Economics. LOVED it! I think I’ve taken 3 or 4 of these classes. Very important subject. The problem is, economics is very theory driven and there’s a lot of conjecture about the best ways to proceed forward…and using the free market system, there is no real one person or entity that can affect the system – somewhat. Essentially, today we deal with two pervasive economic theories in bad times that the government can help with…
- Keynsian economics. This is the force multiplier of such things like government projects. For example, maybe the economy is bad. People have tightened their wallets because jobs have been lost. Jobs could have been lost for a LOT of reasons…but what the net result is you have a lot of people out of work. This was the exact issue around 1935. Keynes proposed this model, and all of the sudden, the TVRA takes over – hydro electric dams are built, roads are built, power lines are connected to the infrastructure. The force multiplier said that the government will hire people to do work, for example, at $100 per week. Before, Joe Sixpack was broke. Now, he is spending $50 of his pay every week on beer, taking his family out, and buying a new car. This money is then spent in creating DEMAND for product. Because Joe wants a car, people are hired to build this car. They make money in return. So does the bartender. So does the local restaurant. So the government would spend $100 for Joe, get infrastructure in return, and that money would then travel out and be sprinkled in the community. This became a force multiplier where they might invest that $100 but end up getting $120 back in income taxes from all of the people that were affected by it.
- Supply side or Reaganomics. No one can doubt Reagan out spent the commies to help us win the cold war. Problem is, it’s horrible economic system that has directly contributed a lot to a debt of $19 trillion. If you want to blame this on Obama, I can’t argue with you because you are not tall enough to ride on this ride. Simply put, the concept was this. We are going to give tax breaks to the wealthy and corporations. With this extra money, the rich will invest it in Wall Street. They will buy expensive American cars. They will build new homes that are bigger. The idea was to give that $100 tax break, and this money would then have a force multiplier. Instead of the government running this, we were turning this over to the private sector to keep our economy moving. Well, I’m going to tell you how this worked in reality. The government gave tax breaks to rich, who then promptly took that money and hid it overseas in Switzerland. Yes. This really happened. It has caused a major recession under Bush after Reagan racked up $5 trillion. And, it happened under Bush 2 when he took a Clinton presidency with surpluses and stood it on its head and nearly led us into another Great Depression. In fact, it was called the Great Recession. The government also sort of hoped that when they give the rich people all of this extra money, it would be invested in Wall St, and these companies would use this extra capital to expand business…build more factories in the US. On paper…it’s a very, very beautiful and eloquent system. In reality, it’s obviously proven to have failed…horribly. Take a look. What’s worse is the housing bust is then blamed on Clinton because money was made too available. I get that. But what all of you need to understand is that in 2003, in my third MBA economics class…I put two and two together THEN that the housing market would crash. Take a look…these are from my archives…