Back to school?

I’m back to being a student again. As part of the Wisconsin Idea (also see, the university has a program for Senior Guest Auditors. Old folks are allowed to take university courses (for no credit, just to learn). We aren’t allowed to turn in assignments or take tests, and we are supposed to sit quietly at the back of the room as observers/passive listeners. I figured that last thing would be the hard part.

My first class was in the Department of Agriculture and Applied Economics, called “Cooperatives and Alternative Forms of Enterprise Ownership” . The professor asked us to introduce ourselves, say why we were taking this class, and, if we could eat only one kind of cheese for the rest of our life, what would it be? (Aged Cheddar; if I had to be specific, it would be Renard’s Two Year Cheddar. While I love older Cheddars, I’m not sure I would want to eat them all the time. Feel free to answer the question in the comments.) She clearly wanted me to answer like everyone else. After class I told her our instructions as Senior Guest Auditors. She considered that silly and wanted me to talk like anyone else, especially since I spent a career in co-op management. Whew! That was going to be a hard class in which to sit down and shut up.

My next class was “History of the Cold War” with a professor whose primary work is in Southeast Asia, with published works including “The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia:CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade“, and “A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror“, and “Torture and Impunity: The U.S. Doctrine of Coercive Interrogation“. And those are just the books of his that I’ve read. I was far from the only old fart in that class, so he did let us know that we are not welcome in the discussion sections, though a fellow old fart did ask a question at the end of class, so we might not have to be totally silent, just circumspect. I didn’t have access to course materials until a few hours before the first class, as I wasn’t allowed to register until the first day of classes. I found there were 110 pages of required reading for the first class. I didn’t finish. There are about that many pages every week, plus hundreds of pages of suggested readings. This may keep me busy if I want to keep up. Luckily I don’t have to write papers or take tests. The class was in a packed lecture hall and only a few of us wore masks.

Bike? What bike?

It’s been awhile since I posted anything about riding. I have been commuting to school and the library. Virtual rides have been in Norway and Austria. I have yet to try Fulgaz, as the free rides on YouTube have suited me just fine.

The winter is at an awkward stage. For a while it was too warm for anything involving ice or snow. It’s cooling down and starting to look like winter. There has been too much snow to skate and not enough to ski. That might be changing (1/27) and I have a ski outing planned (1/29) with a bike club.

Last minute addendum: went to friends’ house for dinner Saturday night. Five inches of snow fell while we were there and I’d already shoveled there times today. Still coming down. I hope I can get the car out in the morning to join folks for skiing. Otherwise I may just have to ski out the front door.

Author: halffastcyclingclub

We are a group of friends who ride bikes. Some of us are fast, some of us are slow, all of us are half-fast. In 2018, one of us rode coast to coast across the US. It was so much fun, he's doing it again in 2022! If we meet Sal Paradise, we'll let you know.

9 thoughts on “Back to school?”

  1. I’m currently “riding” in Austria when I’m not being dragged across a dirt road by my dogs. You’re awesome for doing the auditing — I thought of it because there’s a small university in Alamosa 18 miles away but realized I’d probably fall to the floor in paroxysms of PTSD if I even walked down a university hallway at this point.

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  2. That would be really interesting to sit in. My son is a senior in college and has invited me to go and just sit in class…I’ve thought about it.

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    1. Since I went to college in my 40s, I was used to being the old man in class (though being with your son would definitely be different). Someone in one class (Black Music and American Cultural History) asked me when the draft lottery started (just before a test), not since I studied harder than he did (though I did;), but because he knew I lived through it and maybe remembered it. (And I knew the professor didn’t care if we knew that – what he cared about was that we recognized the classism inherent in how the draft worked, with folks rich enough to go to college able to get student deferments and poorer guys getting drafted and going to Nam, and how the music GIs listened to related to that – e.g. “Fortune Son” by CCR, and “We Gotta Get Out of this Place” by The Animals). Now I realize I could be the grandparent to most classmates, though the history class has a hefty supply of old folks – both since we lived through the cold war and because of the professor’s reputation as a writer.

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      1. Bailey, my son, will ask me a lot of questions about the 80s and cold war plus other things. The seventies I remember from a kids point of view but I do remember the oil crisis and most of the big stuff after that.

        I went to lunch with one of his professors and he lived through the sixties…he just retired a few years back from being the announcer for the Washington Naionals…I had a great time talking to him.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. As far as I know, all classes are in-person only this semester. They also don’t let us take any seminar or lab courses, and limit our numbers in any one course. I was not allowed into a course on the history of war in film. I got lucky with the co-op class, in that there are only 17 of us and the professor actually welcomes active participation. If the course has a lecture and separate discussion section, we’re not allowed to go to the discussion section. (And we can’t take any language courses – I had my eye on a Latin American fiction course.)

      Liked by 1 person

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