Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review: High Tea Class at Frasier's Gourmet

Alternate title: How not to behave in an adult continuing education class.

So, I'm just back from another cooking class at Frasier's Gourmet, this one focusing on the British tradition of high tea. Erin Kem, the sous chef at R Bistro, prepared finger sandwiches, cute little tarts, scones and several kinds of tea -- all authentic and delicious. The topic was inspired by Kem's recent trip to England, and I was looking forward to hearing the details of her trip.

The problem: The sold-out crowd included a mom's-night-out group of 10 women, who treated the event as their own private gathering. They gabbed about upcoming plans, their children, their husbands, their political views and their neighbors, drowning out everything Kem had to say. They were oblivious to Kem's attempts to talk louder and other students' requests for Kem to repeat things because they couldn't hear.

Even more frustrating, members of the group occasionally decided to pay attention, asking Kem questions about things she had already explained. That's just rude.

Don't get me wrong: I think taking a class together is a fabulous activity for a girls' night out, especially when it includes scones and cute little tarts.

But here's a new rule to add to my previous list: If you come to a class as a group, be respectful of the teacher and the other students. If you want to chat, get a martini afterward. At the class itself, no side conversations allowed. It's a rule most of us learned back in kindergarten.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Holcomb Observatory Open for the Season

Just a quick note: The Holcomb Observatory at Butler University has opened for its fall season of telescope viewing and planetarium shows. It's a fun and budget-friendly way to spend the evening!

Public tour dates are Oct. 3-4, 10-11 and 24-25. Doors open at 7:30 p.m., the planetarium show ($3) begins at 7:45 p.m., and telescope viewing (free!) is from 8:45 to 10 p.m.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Free Audio Lecture: What Killed the Dinosaurs?

To thank me for being a good customer, the Teaching Company recently e-mailed me a link to a free audio lecture. The topic is "The Search for What Killed the Dinosaurs," and it's given by leading paleontologist Peter Ward. The link is only active through Oct. 13, so click now for your free educational goodie!

Lecture: How to Build a Boat, Egyptian-style

They had me at "Egyptian." At 7 p.m. Sunday, the Children's Museum will present a free lecture on the art of Egyptian boat-building. The speaker is Cheryl Ward, who is billed as "the world's leading expert" on the topic. She recently finished a full-scale reconstruction of a punt ship from the time of Hatshepsut.

And here's a fun fact for you: The ancient Egyptians were terrible sailors, and they hated having to travel on the Mediterranean Sea. They were spoiled by the easy navigation of the Nile, where they simply had to float downstream or row upstream. So, when they had to go into the Mediterranean, they used the same basic techniques and stuck as close to the shoreline as possible. Funny, huh?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lecture: "Six Weeks in Iraq"

After more than five years, most of us have (admit it) started tuning out news about the war in Iraq. But we need to keep listening, because we need to understand what daily life is like for the Iraqi citizens and our soldiers. How else can we make decisions about our nation's future role in the war-torn country?

This Saturday, you can get a first-hand account, with a lecture titled "Six Weeks in Iraq." Indianapolis Star reporter Will Higgins and photographer Robert Scheer will discuss their own recent experiences in Iraq, where they were covering the experiences of Indiana soldiers.

The lecture takes place from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, in the fourth-floor auditorium at Ivy Tech's North Meridian campus (Fall Creek and Meridian). It's free, but registration is required; contact Jackie Antis at (317) 921-4924 or jantis@ivytech.edu.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fen Shui Lecture Today

This evening, Carmel Clay Public Library is offering a free lecture on fen shui, the ancient Chinese practice that can (supposedly) help improve your life. Lecturer Bela Florenthal, Ph.D., will explain how to integrate these ancient practices into modern life.

The lecture is part of the library's Off The Shelf program for people in their 20s and 30s (but I doubt they'll be checking IDs). It's free, but call (317) 844-3362 to register. The lecture begins at 6 p.m.

Things You Didn't Know You Wanted to Know

Do you know how to weld? I learned the basics at a silver-smithing class once, and since then I've been thinking it might be fun to fuse together giant pieces of metal. Yes, I know, it's kind of strange.

My first choice would probably be one of the metal sculpture classes at the Indianapolis Art Center, but here's an alternative: Sutton-Garten, which sells welding supplies, also offers a five-week introductory welding class.

The next class meets from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays in October. Here's the course description from Sutton-Garten's Web site:

"Introductory course covering fundamentals of oxy-acetylene, stick, mig, tig and plasma cutting processes. Approximately 10% class time and 90% hands on lab work. Class includes equipment setup, filler metal selection, proper weld techniques, general fabrication and art projects. Classes are small to maximize your time with the instructor."

I don't know what half of that means, but doesn't it sound fun?

Cooking Classes for Couples

Need to spend more quality time with your sweetie? Mark your calendars for a couples' cooking classes at Kiss Z Cook, where you can learn something new, cook a meal together and then enjoy eating it. What a great date!

Classes are held at 6:30 on Friday evenings and cost $125 per couple (pricey, yes, but not any more costly than a nice meal at R Bistro or L'Ex). Here's the schedule:
  • Oct. 3: Oktoberfest.
  • Oct. 24: Dracula's Feast.
  • Nov. 7: Take a Bite of the Big Apple.
  • Nov. 21: Hot Salsa Nights in Brazil.

Bon appetit!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Week in Review

This was one of those good news, bad news weeks for continuing education.

In my Monday evening flower-arranging class, we learned a technique called hand weaving, a useful way to create an arrangement that holds together in a vase. (I practiced again later in the week, and it really does work.)

On the other hand, my Thursday evening chocolate confections class through Lawrence Township Community Education was canceled because of low enrollment. Really? It's a class about chocolate!

Oh, well. I no longer care, because on Saturday I attended a stress-relief meditation workshop at the Dromtonpa Buddhist Center in Fountain Square. The center isn't much to look at: You enter via the side door of an old house and climb some narrow stairs to the meeting rooms. To the right is the center's gift shop and reception area, and to the left is the meditation room (fully furnished with chairs, in case you were wondering).

This was my first meditation experience and my first up-close encounter with Buddhism, so I made the mistake of wearing my shoes into the meditation room. But, no worries! As soon as I noticed the many bare feet around me, I slipped out, took off my shoes and came back in -- no harm done (I hope).

The center's resident teacher, Alexis Salaman, started by leading us through a relaxation meditation, which I actually found to be bizarrely uncomfortable. (I'm still working on a theory to explain that.) Afterward, Salaman discussed the cause of stress (our reactions to external events) and the way to avoid stress (changing our reactions). Finally, she led us through a meditation in which we committed to changing our reactions (no physical discomfort this time).

Despite my initial, unexplained reaction to the meditation, I left the center feeling as relaxed as I usually feel after a full-body massage. For several hours, I was committed to being free of stress and generous of spirit. But, you know, that was yesterday.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fall Schedule: Conner Prairie

Conner Prairie sure knows how to keep things interesting. Unlike some museums we're content to visit just once, on a fourth-grade field trip, Conner Prairie keeps us coming back for more -- especially where adult continuing education is concerned.

Coming up this fall: the outstanding Follow the North Star program (weekends in November), the Traditional Arts and Arms-Making Workshop (Oct. 11-17) and a variety of adult classes, such as pottery, blacksmithing and weaving.

You can also attend one of the museum's On the Farm Experiences, which can last for a day or an entire weekend, depending on your tolerance for outhouses and chamber pots.

If you haven't attended Follow the North Star, make that your first priority. The experience, which re-creates the journey of an escaped slave (with you as the slave), is unsettling and incredibly powerful. I reviewed the program earlier this year, and I can't recommend it enough.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Upcoming Writing Conference

Are you hoping to become the next Great American Novelist? Well, who isn't? Here's a conference to get you on the right track: the Indy BookTalk Conference, Saturday, Oct. 11, at Lawrence North High School.

At sessions throughout the day, you'll learn how to improve your writing, get published or even just set up a great book club. General admission is $49, but there's a discount for groups of six or more, so get your whole book club signed up!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week in Review

How much adult continuing education is too much? I might have hit the upper limit this week, but it sure was fun!

On Monday, I started my new flower-arranging class, "Centerpieces," offered by the IUPUI Community Learning Network. I'm once again with my favorite instructor, Sara Thompson, and the class is collaborative and fun. Our project: a tall, spiral arrangement with a dozen carnations. We also discussed other clever ways to use carnations, in case we're ever decorating on a budget (and who isn't?).

On Wednesday, I stopped by the Knit Stop for an introductory knitting lesson ($10 plus materials). My instructor, Kate, was pleasant and patient. Now I'm supposed to practice at home until I feel ready for my next lesson.

On Thursday evening, it was off to Frasier's for pastry chef Joseph Allford's class about vanilla beans. What a fascinating little ingredient! We watched Allford prepare pound cake, ice cream and shortbread cookies, all with heavy doses of vanilla. We also discussed the differences among types of vanilla and vanilla extracts. Very educational -- and delicious!

Finally, I attended the Saturday morning Art Jolt program at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The program offers a series of two-hour art-history classes, and this week's class focused on the Beat poets. It was almost too much information to cram into a two-hour period, but it did spark my memories of reading "On the Road" and "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" years ago. Even better, it inspired me to read them again. I think that counts as success.

Up next week: another trip to my flower-arranging class, a chocolate class at Frasier's and a meditation retreat at the Dromtonpa Buddhist Center in Fountain Square.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Open House: Indianapolis Art Center

Still thinking about signing up for a fall art class? Explore your options at this Friday's Indianapolis Art Center open house (6-9 p.m.). Catch an art demonstration in one of the studio classrooms, view exhibits of faculty and student work, listen to some music and snack on food from Yats. It's the perfect way to decide: glass blowing, figure drawing or steel sculpting?

Update: Elizabeth Gilbert Lecture

I just tried to get tickets for tonight's Elizabeth Gilbert lecture, and I'm sorry to report that it's sold out. Drat! I'll have to console myself with my previously scheduled knitting class at the Knit Stop.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fall Season: Butler University Cultural Calendar

I just flipped through Butler University's fall cultural calendar, and there are several intriguing lectures coming up this season. I'm most excited about several of the science lectures, but you may find something else that appeals to you. Here's the full schedule:
  • Sept. 16: "Darwinism, Natural Theology and Moral Values," with speaker Robert Richards.
  • Sept. 22: Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps and Sound Portraits.
  • Sept. 25: "Community-Centered Leadership: Leading from the Heart," with speaker Wilma Mankiller.
  • Oct. 21: "Darwinism and Political Thought," with speaker Carson Holloway.
  • Oct. 29: Daniel Pink, author of "A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future."
  • Nov. 10: "Caring About Our Communities: A Dialogue on Urban Renewal and Social Change in America," with Greg Ballard and several other mayors.
  • Nov. 13: Lee Keesler, president and CEO, Arts and Science Council (Charlotte, N.C.)

Here's the schedule for the Visiting Writers Series:

  • Sept. 16: Frank Bidart, poet.
  • Sept. 29: Sherman Alexie, author of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian."
  • Oct. 8: Thomas Lux, poet.
  • Oct. 30: Lan Samantha Chang, author of "Hunger" and "Inheritance."
  • Nov. 10: Honor Moore, author of "The Bishop's Daughter."
  • Dec. 3: Chris Forhan, poet.

And, finally, here's the schedule for the J. James Woods Lectures in the Sciences and Mathematics:

  • Sept. 18: "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me)," with speaker Elliot Aronson, a psychologist best known for his work on cognitive dissonance and cooperative learning. The focus of his talk is his new book, "Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts."
  • Sept. 30: "A Naturalist and Other Beasts," with speaker George B. Schaller, a conservationist who will share his stories of trying to preserve endangered species.
  • Dec. 3: "Ancient Fossil Hunters: The Grifin and the Monster of Troy," with speaker Adrienne Mayor, a folklorist and historian of ancient science. She will discuss how ancient fossils influenced Greek and Roman myths.

Author Lecture: Elizabeth Gilbert

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the book I was reading at the time, "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. And guess what? She's in town tomorrow (Wednesday) for a lecture at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. The topic is "Divine Sanity -- Rethinking the Origins of Creativity." Now I have to decide whether to attend the lecture, which will require re-scheduling my introductory knitting class at Knit Stop ...

Here's the rest of the info: 7 p.m. Wednesday, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 100 W. 86th St., $20. Call (317) 846-3404 to reserve your spot.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thank You, Readers!

More than 1,000 unique visitors have now explored this blog, and more keep coming every day. Thank you for your enthusiasm for this blog and your passion for learning. Together, we are raising the profile of adult continuing education opportunities in Indianapolis.

Upcoming Class: Predicting the Weather

Greetings from Hilton Head, where I'm spending a working vacation this week. Unfortunately, I'm spending more time filling water jugs and buying candles than actually working. For this Midwestern girl, hurricane preparations are quite a learning experience!

If you'd like to learn more about weather, the IUPUI Community Learning Network has a fall class on the topic. The class, which meets Sept. 24, is taught by Steve Bray, the chief meteorologist at WISH. According to the class description, Bray will dispel some weather myths and show you simple home experiments to help predict the weather. Could be fun!
Meanwhile, cross your fingers for Hanna to disappear somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean ...

Update: Tarot Classes

When I noticed the absence of the tarot class on this fall's Lawrence Township schedule, I e-mailed my instructor for an update. Maybe she was teaching the class elsewhere? Alas, she doesn't have room in her schedule, so there are no immediate plans to offer the class again. I heard from several of you who were interested in the topic, so I'll keep looking for a local alternative.