Victorian Christmas Stroll

OLLI Connects is about OLLI members sharing their experiences.  But it’s hard to share an experience that hasn’t happened to you yet.  So, we’re inviting you to a Christmas adventure with a smidgen of time travel thrown in:  The Victorian Christmas Stroll at the Henry B. Plant Museum.

From now through December 23 you can, well, “stroll” through a Christmas world much like the one Cindy Knox depicted in our last blog post.  We can’t promise that you’ll run into the Ghost of Christmas Past, but you will see:  (More…)

Reading for Pleasure – The Pickwick Papers

Cindy Knox

Charles Dickens

I have read several sobering articles about the decline in reading for pleasure, not only in America, but also across the world. There are numerous reasons given for this decline, including the rise of electronics and more hours spent in front of the TV. However, I’m not an academic, a statistician or any type of reading specialist. I’m just a person who loves reading for pleasure – and for our purposes here, we will define pleasure as “enjoyment.” The choice of reading that gives you pleasure or enjoyment may be poetry or cookbooks or mysteries or romance novels, or even, as in the case of Mr. Pickwick’s fellow Pickwick Club members, the report titled “Speculations on the Source of the Hampstead Ponds, with some Observations on the Theory of Tittlebats.”    (More…)

Calling All Board Gamers!

Ann Murphy

Games!  Glorious Games!  Is this the sentiment of an earnest nine-year-old or a precocious four-year-old?  Probably, but many adults also fondly recall those days gone by when the family eagerly gathered around the dining room table on a stormy summer night or a blustery winter one and enjoyed a riveting game of Monopoly, Parcheesi or, in a nod to the younger set, Chutes and Ladders or Candyland.  (More…)

New Orleans

Shirley Herring

New Orleans is a city dear to my heart, a party where everyone is invited. The people are warm, the food is world class, and the music will soothe your soul. I am privileged to visit regularly, because my husband’s family lives there. They live in the suburbs now, but it’s never hard to persuade them to go into the city.

Food is always a good place to start. Our favorite haunt is Mandina’s in an old pink house on Canal Street.  (More…)

The Computer Revolution and AI

Bruce Gobioff

The late Arthur C. Clarke, noted science fiction author, said: “We have to abandon the idea that schooling is something restricted to youth. How can it be, in a world where half the things a man knows at 20 are no longer true at 40 – and half the things he knows at 40 hadn’t been discovered when he was 20?”

The latter portion of this quote is very appropriate for the computer industry. For example, let’s look back just ten years. What can you do today with a computer that you couldn’t do ten years ago?  (More…)

Riverfront Park

(Regular readers of OLLI Connects will be familiar with our usual format.  Since we don’t want you to get bored, we’re bending our usual formatting rules for this article.  Read on. –Editor) 

Shelly Belzer

Inside Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s head is a master plan for renewing downtown Tampa from the Hillsborough River out. First came Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, then the Riverwalk.  The third jewel in this triple crown is the $35 million restoration of Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, 25 acres on the west bank of the river, with a boathouse, community center and green-monster sculpture.   (More…)

 

What Are Word Clouds? And How Can I Use Them?

Diane White

You’ve probably seen them.  Puffy groups of words that illustrate articles, especially those that you read on the internet. Yes, they have a name – Word Clouds.

Why are they seemingly so prolific? Word clouds are great visual tools because they help to communicate ideas in a very direct way by putting the focus on the most important words in a story. As an added bonus, there are free programs that easily let you create amazing word clouds in minutes!  (More…)

Civil War Battlefields

Kevin Chittim

Unbearable Florida heat and humidity, wives off on their own adventures, more than a slight danger of boredom—how are a couple of golden agers to spend their summer vacation?

Tim McMurrich and I have been friends for 45 years (although we lost contact with each other for 30 of those) ever since we were part of a stellar softball outfield in the ‘70s.  We hatched our plan to tour Civil War Battlefields over cocktails during the Christmas holidays (not surprisingly our spouses began planning alternate summer plans the same evening).  So, began an 8-day Odyssey    (More…)

Life As It Was

Raymond Paltoo

“Why bother with the past? It is not where you come from but where you end up.” This was a question posed by my younger son who was and is as American as Mom’s apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. I smile at him as we sit around a kidney-shaped swimming pool with sparkling blue water; the bright Florida sun glinting off the calm surface of the water with occasional swirls from the underwater jets and filtration system.

My answer was unthinkingly swift and spontaneous, as I had heard this type of question before, posed by students who were impatient to get on with life.  (More…)

My Ancestor Was a Civil War POW

Diane Russell

In the late 1970s, I started researching my family tree. My paternal grandmother’s grandfathers were Union soldiers in the Civil War, so I obtained their military records through the National Archives.

Charles G. Dixon married his sweetheart two days before he enlisted in October, 1864, in Company E, 8th Regiment, Illinois Cavalry. Private Dixon served only 9 months before his discharge in July 1865. A year later, he and Emma Gleason became parents of my great-grandfather, William H. Dixon.

Sanford C. H. Smith was a married father of four children when he enlisted in September, 1862, in Company H, 7th Regiment, Ohio Cavalry. Corporal Smith was captured during the Battle of   (More…)