Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lecture: WWII Internment Camps for Japanese-Americans

In college, the most horrifying class I took was "History of the Holocaust." As we learned about the Jewish concentration camps and Hitler's envisioned Final Solution, we struggled to understand how human beings could be so cruel to one another.

Unfortunately, Americans have their own sad story from that war: Japanese-American internment camps. We don't hear much about them, but they were a very real prison for thousands of innocent Americans during that time.

If you'd like to learn more, attend the upcoming lecture at the Indiana Historical Society. The lecture is titled "World War II Experiences: Life in a Japanese-American Internment Camp," and takes place at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 5.

Not the most cheerful topic for a lunch break, I know, but worth hearing nonetheless.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Santa Claus is Coming: Learning while Shopping

Halloween isn't even over yet, and retailers are already putting up the Christmas decorations. Does that mean it's time to start shopping for gifts? To make the experience more bearable, try combining your shopping trip with a continuing education opportunity.

Keystone at the Crossing makes it easy, because several of the mall's stores offer free classes. In the next month, for example, Pottery Barn will offer classes on window treatments, holiday decorating and holiday entertaining. Likewise, Williams-Sonoma offers seasonal cooking classes and technique demonstrations (and always has lots of yummy samples to try).

You can also combine shopping and learning at many local boutiques. At Artisan Masterpiece in Carmel, browse the cool artists' shop before heading upstairs for an art class. At Boca Loca Beads, use one of the fun beadwork classes to actually make a fabulous gift for a friend (and one for yourself, t00). At Frasier's Gourmet Foods in Fishers, pick up yummy foodie gifts, then take a class with one of the city's best chefs. (I recommend the upcoming "Candies and Pastries for the Holiday Season" with Joseph Allford.)

Finally, don't forget that many adult continuing education venues have fantastic gift shops. I'm thinking in particular of the Indianapolis Art Center, which always stocks its gift shop with unique finds (many produced by local artists). You'll also find great gift shops at Conner Prairie, the Indiana State Museum, the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Children's Museum.

What if you prefer to shop online? Download an audio course from The Teaching Company and listen while you browse. Just think: While you're searching for the best deal on this year's hot Elmo toy, you can also be learning about the history of linguistics. Now that's convenient shopping.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Getting the Spooks

I'm cleaning up the debris from our annual Halloween party, and the holiday has me thinking a lot about the paranormal. (Okay, it might also be my current "Twilight" obsession.) Now, it's true that Indianapolis isn't exactly known for embracing such things, but you do have a few options if you'd like to expand your horizons.

One place to start is the local School of Metaphysics, which offers classes on dream interpretation, ghosts and visualization, among other topics.

Or, take a haunted tour of Indianapolis, with tour company Unseen Press. I did the walking tour of central downtown a few months ago, and it was suitably creepy. I'll never think of the Slippery Noodle in the same way again.

Want a less ghostly option? Stop by New Age People at 86th and Ditch for a palm reading, aura photograph or interesting class. You never know what you might unearth here.

If you're looking for a day trip or weekend getaway, head to Camp Chesterfield, "your gateway to the enlightenment of spiritualism." You can take your pick of classes here: runes, numerology, astrology, psychic readings, seances, crystals and everything else you can think of. There's a weekend retreat coming up in a few weeks, and a psychic fair the first Saturday of each month.
Happy haunting!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Welcome, New Readers!

In the past few weeks, we've doubled our number of readers to more than 2,000. Welcome, new readers! Many thanks to those of you who have spread the word about this blog. It's exciting to see so many Hoosiers committed to life-long learning!

Upcoming Lecture: Alice Waters

Local foodie blogs are atwitter about an upcoming speaker at the IMA: Alice Waters, a chef and one of the nation's foremost "eat local" advocates. Tickets for her talk, "Delicious Revolution," go on sale today and are expected to sell out quickly. (If it's going to be as popular as Michael Pollan's recent lecture, I'd suggest buying tickets today.)

Here's the event description:

"World-class chef, 'eat local' advocate, and food educator Alice Waters visits the IMA to ignite a conversation about learning, creative living, health and sustainability. As the founder of the Edible Schoolyard garden project in which students grow and prepare their own food, Waters shares her vision for 'a revolution in public education…When sustainability becomes the lens through which they see the world.' Savor Alice’s message of the pleasure, beauty and power of food. Before and after the talk, browse informational booths and enjoy tastes of local food provided by the students of Ivy Tech Community College."

The lecture takes place at 6:30 p.m., Dec. 2. Tickets are $10 for museum members and $15 for non-members. For tickets, visit the IMA Web site or call (317) 955-2339.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Upcoming Events at the JCC

My very first educational experience was preschool at the Bureau of Jewish Education, part of the JCC. (I'm not Jewish, but it was just around the corner from our house.) So it's nice to come full circle and talk about adult continuing education opportunities at the center.

First up: From Oct. 29 to Nov. 20, the JCC is hosting its annual Katz Festival of Books, with a number of guest speakers and authors. Highlights include David Matthews, Robin Gerber, Jennifer 8. Lee and Louis M. Profeta.

Also coming up: "A Cultural History of Colonial Mexico," with Professor Mel Bloom. He'll discuss music, plastic and visual arts, dance and politics. It's a two-part lecture, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on both Oct. 23 and 30.

I've also added the JCC events calendar to my list of calendars to check regularly, so look for regular updates from this point on.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Lecture: Deepak Chopra

What is the meaning of life? Deepak Chopra apparently knows, and he's willing to tell you about it, for the low, low price of $30. Chopra is speaking Wednesday evening at Clowes Hall. There's also a VIP reception, if you're willing to fork over another $95. Here's the official event description:

"Deepak Chopra will address the deeper meaning of our existence, including:

What is our true nature?
What is the meaning and purpose of our existence?
How can I transform myself?
How can I make a better world?

Deepak explains how the greatest spiritual secrets are tied up in this simple answer. It takes a total shift in perception to realize that you are not in the world, the world is in you."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Re-thinking Quilting

I take it back. I don't hate quilting after all. I just hate the tools I was using.

At Wednesday's Quilts Plus University class, I discovered the joys of the rotary cutter, an improved stencil and better fabric-marking pens. It now takes about half the time to trace and cut out my pieces, which is the most grueling part of the process (so far).

Here's a quick look at my progress. Three squares down, one to go:

And here's my new rotary cutter. Don't quilt without it!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Free Audio Lectures

To celebrate election season, the Teaching Company has released two free audio lectures. The focus is great leaders, and the subjects are Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. The lectures are available through Election Day, so click the link for your free goodie.

Mid-term Review: Quilts 101 at Quilts Plus

I'm two sessions into a five-session quilting class at Quilts Plus, and it started out well. We learned about quilting terms and tools, discussed the basic process and spent a delightful evening picking out fabrics for our project, a four-square quilt. That was the good part.

A few nights ago, after tracing and cutting my five millionth quilt square, I thought, "What on earth am I doing in this class?" I do not enjoy cutting out the pieces or sewing them together, and I'm really dreading the actual quilting process -- all of those minute stitches that hold the layers together.

But here's where it gets really strange: I'm still enjoying the process. I think it's because our teacher, Connie, has created a positive, friendly class environment, where it's fun to hang out even when you hate the task at hand. And I'm still hoping that the end result -- that beautiful, hand-made quilt in fabrics I've chosen -- will be worth the effort. I'll report back in three weeks about that.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chocolate: The Exhibition

It's been a stressful week in my world, and chocolate is my first defense. Fortunately, I can combine the need for chocolate with a learning experience: "Chocolate: The Exhibition," now open at the Indiana State Museum. I saw this exhibit at Chicago's Field Museum a few years ago, and it was a fascinating journey through the history of the world's best food. Did you know cacao beans were often used as currency?

The exhibit runs at the museum through Jan. 4. I'm hoping my stress doesn't last until then.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Random Notes

A few miscellaneous schedule updates and reminders:
  • Boca Loca Beads in Fountain Square has posted its class schedule through December. Of particular interest is the Lampwork Boot Camp class in November.
  • The Chef's Academy has posted its class schedule through February. Improve your knife skills, sample winter comfort foods or explore the cuisines of Japan, Australia, Cuba or South Carolina.
  • Likewise, Frasier's Gourmet Foods has posted its class schedule through January. Sign up early for Joseph Allford's soup and bread series, which is sure to sell out.
  • Conner Prairie's Traditional Arts and Arms Making Workshop takes place next week, so sign up now if you're interested.

Weekend in Review: Back "Home" Again in Stratford

This weekend, I made my final trip of the year to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario. I brought my mom along for the first time, and we saw three plays: the musical "Cabaret" and Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" and "Hamlet." Yes, I know, we could have chosen at least one cheerful show.

All three shows were outstanding, as always, and we had a great time exploring the area, shopping and eating at some of my favorite Stratford restaurants, including Features, Fellini's, Balzac's Coffee, Tango, Bijou, Rundles, Pazzo and the Parlour.

During the next few weeks, the festival's shows will begin to close, but preparations are already underway for the 2009 season. Here's a sampling of what to expect next year:
  • Shakespeare: "Macbeth," "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "Julius Caesar"

  • Musicals: "West Side Story" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"

  • Other shows I'll be seeing: "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "The Importance of Being Earnest"

Author Lecture: Frances Mayes

Italy holds a special place in my heart, and no author has captured its essence as well as Frances Mayes, author of "Under the Tuscan Sun" and several similar books. Want to learn more about Mayes and her Italian experiences? She's speaking at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the IUPUI Campus Center (420 University Blvd.). Her lecture is titled "Writing in Place: Travels with My Notebook." I'd be there in a heartbeat, but I'm already signed up for a quilting class. Drat.