Rocket in the Desert

Joyce Carpenter

As he drops us off at the Camel Safari, Mr. Sharma, our Rajastani guide, smiles wearily. We are spending several days in the Thar Desert in Rajastan, India, and he is charged with driving us to and from our various activities. Our hotel is near the town of Jaisalmer, formerly the massive fort dwelling of the Rajput ruler, Jaisal, and now the residence of one quarter of Jaisalmer’s population who live and work inside its substantial walls. We have spent the day exploring the town’s temples and its labyrinthian, crowded streets. We have left the clamor of town and are now ready for the anticipated calm of the desert. After our camel ride and the dinner and dancing program which follows, Mr. Sharma will have to return to collect us. It’s already been a long day for him.

“Have you ever ridden a camel, Mr. Sharma?” I ask.

“Never Madam!” he replies, and, as he escapes to the solitude of his van, the thought bubble trailing in his wake clearly reads, “You must be joking, Madam!”  (More...)

Words That Burn

April is National Poetry Month, a time to celebrate the awesome things poets can do with just 26 letters and some white spaces.   We asked some famous writers how they’d define poetry.  Here are a few of their responses.

“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn”. –Thomas Gray.  “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance”. –Carl Sandburg.  “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful”. –Rita Dove.  “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat”. –Robert Frost.

And Carol Ann Duffy said “You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart”.  Which is exactly what some of our own OLLI members have done for us here.  (More…)

Bratty Fourth Graders Changed My Career

Diane Russell

I was fascinated with school during my childhood in the Chicago suburbs.  I idolized teachers, offered to grade tests for them, and played school with younger neighbors in our basement.

In September, 1970, I headed to the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, to start my major in elementary education. I loved my classes until my view of teaching elementary school became more realistic during my second semester of sophomore year. I observed a fourth-grade class of misbehaving lower-income students in Urbana. During spring break, I observed my fourth-grade sister’s class in suburban Chicago, only to discover that my sister’s teacher faced the same behavior problems. I sadly decided that I did not want a career disciplining students who did not want to learn.  (More…)

All About Beer: Craft Brew, Microbrew, You Brew

Peter Terzian

OLLI usually doesn’t go in for tests or grades.  But we do like to spring a pop quiz on you every once in a while.  Like now!  Read this post’s headline and—without help from Google—tell me in one word what Peter Terzian’s upcoming class will be about.

Time’s up!  Who has an answer? Now, let’s not always see the same hands. Yes! The correct answer is “Beer.” Those of you who got it right can congratulate yourselves!  Those of you who got it wrong will just have to study harder.  In fact, you may want to take Peter’s class.  In the spirit of pop quizzes, we asked him some questions about it.  (More…)

Haiku! Gesundheit!

Cindy Knox

Reading for Pleasure — Haikus as Book Reviews

Some of us have begun an OLLI-USF class that requires close, critical reading. The morning and afternoon Winter Great Books classes, facilitated by Kevin Chittim and Patrick DeMarco, are just two examples. The selected texts, none of which could be described as easy, are read and then they are discussed in the group using the “shared inquiry” method.

I am in the afternoon Great Books class and, reviewing what I just wrote, I notice a tendency to yawn.  Why, oh why, did I sign up for this class, I wonder? The answers are that I am a long-time fan of Patrick, I know many of the people in the group, and I also need to exercise my brain after two years of absence from OLLI. These group discussions are stimulating, and I come away afterwards feeling exhilarated and also virtuous. However, there comes a time for each of us OLLI members… (More…)

Oregon: a Geographic Kaleidoscope

Amy Smetana

When I was a child growing up in Illinois, my imagination of Oregon was limited to the “Oregon Trail” computer game we played in school. It was a far-away, desolate land marred by a never-ending dirt trail littered with sun-bleached ox skulls. Who would want to brave treacherous river crossings and cholera to go there?

It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that the Oregon Trail ends in a nature lover’s paradise – a geographic kaleidoscope.  (More…)

Are You Crushing on Sugar?

[Today’s author, Lynne Wadsworth, has her own blog :  Holistic Health and Wellness, and she’s sharing an article from that blog with us now.  We’ll give you a link to it at the end of this post.]

Lynne Wadsworth

I am sure you have figured it out by now, but I am a full-fledged “sugarholic!” It is a constant battle and sometimes I just flat-out fall off the wagon. Do you know what I mean? My whole lifestyle is based on eating a clean, whole food, health lifestyle, but sometime it is hard when I get sugar inside me, not to give in to that bar of chocolate that’s calling my name!

When you think of addiction, you might think about gambling, substances and alcohol, but there are many other addictions as well. One of them is sugar, which can actually be something you struggle with and not even realize it. Here are some things to know about sugar addiction.  (More…)

Enjoy the Ride!

Diane Russell

At Busch Gardens Tampa during the holidays, the wait time for Cheetah Hunt was 50 minutes. It was 35 minutes for Cobra’s Curse. The Quick Queue shortens wait times by allowing guests to pay to bypass lines.

What if you could bypass long lines for roller coasters anywhere in the country or world? You can.  The American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) organization exists to find ways for its members to ride roller coasters without waiting in line    (More…)

Political Discussion at OLLI

Unlike Congress and much of the media, OLLI members can discuss politics without losing their tempers.  Classes on contemporary politics as well as P-SIG, our Politics Shared Interest Group (SIG) offer us lots of opportunities to listen, to think, to learn, to discuss, and to enlarge our political views.

Let’s drop in for a few moments on a P-SIG meeting and discussion that took place just before the 2018 congressional elections.  (More…)

“A Course is Born” and “A Community of Writers”

Liesse Chable

When I first learned about the OLLI program at USF Tampa, I was amazed at the quantity and quality of courses for older adults. I hear that the 2019 Winter-Spring catalog offers nearly 180 courses and lectures. I think that’s a record.

I was even more amazed when I realized that the majority of classes were taught by my peers, adults like myself over 50, who volunteer for free their time, experience, and passion for teaching. When I was a child in school, I loved the opportunity to participate in peer-to-peer teaching, all the camaraderie and equality of it. Now I have a whole catalog of peer teaching to look over.  I read it each semester with excitement and enthusiasm for what my generation has to offer.        (More…)