About learning

Today I had this reinforced: If you’re struggling to learn something, try something even harder.

Now, I’ll definitely admit that this doesn’t always work, but it should be considered more often. It reminds me of how Chemistry in college was really hard for me from the start, but I stuck with it, and even though the stuff I was currently learning never got any easier, the stuff we’d already learned did.

Here’s how it came up today: I’m taking a “Pre-Masters” swimming class twice a week now, and I am learning flip-turns. When we started two weeks ago, I couldn’t believe how hard they were. Missing the wall, shooting off sideways, gasping for breath. Just two days ago I was practicing them and still spluttering. Last time, my teacher starts telling me I need to start doing backstroke flip-turns… and I resisted. (My backstroke is horrible.) “I can’t even swim straight! And I don’t know where the wall is!”

But today she made me try a backstroke flip-turn, and, well, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. And after adding that extra level of complication, the freestyle flip-turns seem like a cinch! “Hey, I can totally see the wall coming, this is awesome.”

So that goes to show me that a little insecurity looking forwards can also mean a little confidence looking back. It’s a lesson I’ve been reminded of many times, in many places; and even if it’s just flip-turns in the pool, it’s a good lesson to learn.

February 25, 2008. Uncategorized. 4 Comments.

Keeping it simple (or: How to make it look like you’re flying)

children flyingMichel Gondry (wikipedia, music videos, Levi’s commercial, Rubik’s cube) came to MIT last week to show us his movie Be Kind Rewind.

My two favorite things he told us (I’m paraphrasing):

I have perhaps just spent hours watching related videos on YouTube. I especially like the paint piano.

I am so very glad that he does these things.

February 9, 2008. Uncategorized. No Comments.

“Come dressed to run and bring pen and paper!”

Just wanted to note this awesome new course offering as part of MIT‘s IAP this year:

Arabic Bootcamp
Betty Lou McClanahan
Tue, Thu, Jan 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 24, 31, 09:30-10:30am, Dupont Indoor Track

Enrollment limited: advance sign up required (see contact below)
Limited to 20 participants.
Participants requested to attend all sessions (non-series)

Improve your physical fitness while acquiring a basic knowledge of Arabic. This experimental course employs a strategic approach for rapid mastery and continued learning in reading, speaking and handwriting. Simple homework will be assigned. In-class fitness activities include pushups/situps, running and light stretching. All fitness levels welcome! Textbook: Alif Baa with DVDs (available from Amazon). Come dressed to run and bring pen and paper!

December 4, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Why older people die during heat waves

An article in yesterday’s New York Times, entitled “Sweatology”, talks about how important it is that we sweat. Sweat cools us off, yes. But the article also describes why different people sweat different amounts, and one factor is age.

“…beginning about age 60 both sexes sweat less, even if they are in good physical condition, and even if they become seriously overheated. Thus the statistics that during heat waves the elderly are at highest risk of heat stroke.”

I didn’t know I would sweat less when I get older. Maybe this means I should move to Florida now, and retire to San Francisco when I’m 60, instead of the other way around. And perhaps that I should spray my father intermittently with a misting bottle during his visit to Boston this week. Happy 60-plus-2-weeks, Dad!

August 15, 2007. family, Uncategorized. 1 Comment.

Firework pictures look like plants, sea life

firework leafWhen I uploaded my pictures from this year’s Marin County Fair, I looked at close-ups of the firework pictures and was amazed at how organic they looked… just like branches on trees, bushes, long stretches of seaweed, and even anemone and sea urchins.

I cropped a bunch of these and put them up to share: Organic firework pictures (July 4, 2007)

July 11, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Things currently on my desk

I just felt like making a long list of something.

At 9pm, May 8, 2007:

May 8, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

in the buffet

[written by Jennifer]

about five months ago, I found a set of dining room furniture at a local thrift store that delivered for free. in desperate need of furniture, I also decided to buy a big ugly buffet table that didn’t clash too badly for $25. it was covered in stuff and they said that it had been sitting in the store for years. upon delivery, I opened the cabinets I could open (two were missing handles) and discovered that some remnants from the shop were still inside, but I ignored them as a bunch of crumpled up old sheets that probably concealed dried up pee stains at best or some more substantial organic remains at worst, and partly in order to preserve the mystery but mostly because I was squeamish, I left them in the cupboard to sit or rot or whatever it is old remnants of other people do. last night just before midnight, I had dinner with a friend from college and we sat at the dining room table for the third time I’ve used it since its inception. she remarked that the buffet table’s knobs were missing, and I opened the working ones in order to check out the screws for finding replacements. the stuff was of course still there and with much goading she persuaded me to find out what it was. baby_snowsuitthe first thing we extracted was a tiny, thickly quilted snowsuit with the hanger still on it. this, being baby-shaped and empty, had a creepy vibe to it but seemed innocuous enough. next I unrolled a large unremarkable map of the yosemite valley that was heavily stained with dirt, which was pretty disappointing. but then with much struggling I pulled out what appeared to be a giant spitball of canvas. we partially unrolled it and were very happy to find what appeared to be a somewhat skillfully rendered, extremely colorful and shiny abstract painting, about six by eight feet. my friend thought it might be a football player running with a ball, but it was hard to tell. suffice to say it was really big and we were very close to it. so we pulled it out into the foyer and spread it on the floor to ponder. there, I was quickly able to pick out a woman’s face and what was clearly a nipple. rolled_upanother housemate joined the consultation, and after a good ten minutes we managed to deduce that the painting was of a naked woman tied very tightly to a chair, with her hands bound behind her and the rope cutting into her breasts in a decidedly painful-looking fashion. there was also a big slash across her throat and chest, and her eyes seemed to be covered – mottled grey and red suggested she was either dead or at least severely wounded. but the left side of the picture remained a mystery until my friend suggested that it might be a baseball bat, or a fist punching her other boob from a weird angle, “a fist with a funny thumb.” naturally enough, the funny thumb turned out to look more like a dick, and the left side of the painting rapidly materialized in our horrified eyes as the torso of a man standing over the woman and jacking off. he seems to be standing outside the frame (which means with the viewer! yay!). creepy paintinginitials read (I think) “NM.” I am secretly hoping that the painting is 1) a self-conscious early 80s critique of consumer capitalism or the effect of conflicting standards on feminine identity, 2) unimaginably valuable, or 3) a vital clue in an unsolved string of murders, along with the unused snow-onesie and the dirty map. staples from a past frame line the edges, and I’m still toying with the idea of bringing it to a frame shop and placing an order for it to be framed upside-down, all the while insisting that I am “flummoxed” as to the significance of what is clearly a “kandinsky-esque abstract.” it frightens me to think that someone actually invested in a giant frame for this once. when we showed my other housemate, his response was “well, the question clearly isn’t whether to hang it but where!”

Back to post

April 9, 2007. Uncategorized. No Comments.

Post #47


April 3, 2007. Uncategorized. 2 Comments.


So, I’ve finally decided that I will keep my own blog. Although I don’t want to call it a “blog”… it’s really more of a list, that I hope to add to every day. Sooo, like a “blist”. Yeah! “Check out Anita’s blisst!”

This is a place where I hope to add something new I’ve learned each day. Brent asked me, “But what if you don’t learn anything cool that day?” And it doesn’t really matter, since I am maintaining the optimistic assumption that I learn some things every day, and therefore, there has to be a best thing. So I should never have an excuse not to post.

Motivations for this blist:

February 21, 2007. Uncategorized. 1 Comment.