Day 65 - Learning and growing

— 4 minute read


I had meant to update, but the last few days had been hectic and only now things are starting to calm down and I have a bit more mind space to write a little.

One thing is that going out, even for small trips, take a huge chunk of energy out of my day. It's like there is over-stimulation with so many things to observe and regard in the outside world. The moss growing on the sidewalks because of less foot traffic, the comparison of then and now in terms of number of people seen or shops that are open or closed, the dazzling blue of the sky - had it always been that blue? And not to mention the conscious effort of smiling wider to people behind the smile-stifling mask to make sure that the smile reaches the eyes. I'm sorry my trolley bumped into yours and it's ok that you're blocking the way, we are all trying to survive the best that we can, fellow being.

So I've been looking at Coursera these days and been superbly excited about all the possibilities. After going through a ten-day period of intensive fiction reading I think I was ready to move towards something less escapist, and so the timely information on how the Malaysian government is partnering up with Coursera to provide free access to the unemployed up till the end of the year was very useful to nudge me towards looking at structured learning. Under this plan you can also collect certificates upon finishing the courses, for free.

So far what I've been trying to do is not to over-enrol into ten thousand different courses, but really try to be realistic in terms of what time I can invest weekly. A few hours a week would translate to completed courses in the course of a few months, and the worst thing that I can do is to overwhelm myself with too much and end up not finishing any. So far I have enrolled into two courses: for work, Computational Social Sciences (a series of five courses, offered by University of California) and for fun, East Asian Confucianisms: Humanism (1) 東亞儒家:人文精神 (1) (offered by National Taiwan University, conducted in Chinese). For "even more fun" I am considering Guitar for Beginners (by Berklee College of Music) but am putting a pedal on the brakes first, after I get used to the few hours of work per week required for the first two enrolled courses. But just bought a D string that has been broken for the entire MCO period so that I'll be ready to start at any moment.

Also, the monthly reading group at Cambridge has started (for my Histories of AI grant) and I foresee many fruitful discussions ahead. Much learning to be done!

Things in the garden are looking good. I've finally tested four of my old seed packets (about five years old, and mainly leafy vegetables) and find none of them viable, so I think it's time to give up on them and get new ones. But some herbs that I'm growing from new seeds acquired a few weeks ago are growing vigorously. It is one of the things that gives me my dopamine fix every morning, when I rush out to the balcony to check if my seeds have germinated, or if the seedlings have increased in height. Who needs social media notifications when some unnamed seeds (I forgot to label some pots and so now we have an ongoing mystery of what it is that's sprouting) are growing furry tap roots into the ground? So satisfying.