Monday, September 20, 2010

Posts, Seminars, and Birthdays

First, I wanted to draw everyone's attention to an excellent post by John Drury on our Wesley seminary blog: he puts the essence of WesSem @ IWU as well as anything I've seen.

Secondly, I wanted to remind anyone in the Marion area of the Monday Theological Research Seminar that meets today from 3:30 till we finish (but no later than 5). Today Dr. Steve Lennox is up with a paper he will also present at SBL in November: "Disability in Ancient Egypt." Next week is Chris Bounds, "Grace in the Early Church."

Finally, today's my 44th birthday. Every day is a day for goal setting for me, but birthdays and New Year are especially so. A year from now I'd like to be in Munich, Germany on sabbatical writing a book. I can see some things keeping that from happening but hope springs eternal. I hope that a year from now my second Paul book, the philosophy book, a few more Bible studies, and my research on the afterlife from my last sabbatical are either published or in the shoot.

And I've been working on some strange Schenck goals for several months now. I've admitted to myself that I will never achieve some of my earlier life goals. I'll never break a 5 minute mile. Frankly, I doubt I'll ever break a 6 minute mile again. I'll never be able to jump up and flip and land on my feet--something I used to think I would work up to.

But a few are still on the bucket list. I want to understand quantum mechanics and relativity before I die. I want to get a novel published. I want to be able to play some piano pieces by Rachmaninoff and Mendelssohn. Toward the first goal, I try to read two pages of math, physics, or chemistry a day. The idea is that by the time I'm fifty, I will have reviewed and expanded my knowledge of university calculus, physics, and chemistry. Then I hope to work through textbooks I've had for twenty some years on quantum mechanics and relativity in my fifties.

It's a little depressing to me how hard it has been to get my brain to wrap around things that used to flex so easily to me before. I understand what I've heard before. It's not that an older person can't learn new languages or new things in math and science. It just takes a lot longer. Ain't that the truth.

But it is going in. Once I get things, I am seeing some patterns I didn't recognize before. Well, I may have to give many of these dreams up too eventually. But at least for today, I understand what it means to say that the graph of a polynomial of odd degree with a positive lead coefficient will start at negative infinity on the left and eventually stretch up to positive infinity on the right. :-)


Bob MacDonald said...

Happy Birthday - and don't worry about time. Old brains work fine and sometimes differently. Learning the science is definitely fun - your approach sounds remarkable. And good luck with Rach - I do a bit of Bach occasionally.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Happy Birthday, Ken! Goals are the first step and you have so many that it'll keep life interesting for a long time! And you still have some time according to average life expectancy :-)!!!

James F. McGrath said...

Happy birthday!

BTW, I didn't know you play the piano...or if you don't yet, then learning a piece by Rachmaninov might prove more challenging than it might otherwise have been. :)

Any particular piece in mind? There are a couple of the preludes that I've long wanted to work on, and maybe a bit of friendly rivalry would inspire both of us. (There are also a couple of the Etudes Tableaux that I'd love to learn, but that's less realistic!)

Ken Schenck said...

I do not really play the piano very well. There are a couple pieces that I once could almost fake the first page of--Clair de Lune, Rondo Capriccioco by Mendelssohn. Prelude in C sharp minor is I suppose the easiest of Rachmaninoff. Before I die I'd like to be able to play these. I can dream :-)

Thanks Bob and Angie

James F. McGrath said...

That's the first one I ever tried to learn, and whether or not I can play it depends on how loosely or narrowly one defines "play". But I'll definitely have to get it back into shape so that we can do an impromptu recital at SBL if we find a piano...or, as it happens, there's an arrangement for two pianos! :)

Anyway, here are two other favorites, in honor of your birthday.

::athada:: said...

You will break 6 min-mile again, easy.

Ken Schenck said...

Easy for you to say!