Mopping has never been my favorite chore, but thanks to that new Swiffer commercial, lately it’s been a lot more fun. The (unscripted!) commercial features an adorable 90-year-old couple who discover that mopping is much easier — and more romantic — with a Swiffer. After the husband compares “swiffing” to dancing, the elderly lovebirds end up dancing around the kitchen while the wife sings.
As you can imagine, it’s pretty much impossible for me to swiff now without singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and pretending my husband would ever be willing to dance. Or mop. But I digress…
I recently read an article about the new Swiffer stars — a real-life couple of 44 years — and I was even more charmed by their story. They claim they’ve managed to keep their lives (and love) fresh all these years by keeping their minds active and continuing to learn. The husband, a retired pharmacist, supervises a program at their local community college that allows senior citizens to take classes for free, and the couple enjoys theater and sharing their mutual love of astronomy.
See, it’s like I always say: “The couple that star-gazes together stays together.” OK, I almost never say that aloud, but it does make a lot of sense. When you’re hanging out with the same person every day for the rest of your life, there are only so many times you can hear the same tired old stories before you start wanting to whack each other over the head with a mop handle. Perhaps “true love” is less about dancing and love songs, and more about finding someone that’s actually interesting to talk to for 44 years. Personally, I can’t think of anything more romantic than a shared love of learning.
This time of year always inspires my own thirst for new knowledge, and the smell of my kids’ new crayons and pencils and glue leaves me craving to learn something new. I was thrilled to recently discover MIT offers most of its courses online — for free! Perhaps I’ve been sniffing too much glue, but I thought it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever heard.
The MIT Open Courseware program, which makes the elite college’s curriculum accessible to everyone regardless of income or credentials, was designed to provide additional resources to students everywhere and to offer independent self-learners a chance to enrich their lives at their own pace.
While the free program does not offer college credit, most courses come with visual aids and a full set of audio or video lectures, allowing students to essentially obtain an MIT education right from their own home. The program requires no registration, prerequisites, or set schedules, and you can learn about anything from anthropology to graduate level plasma physics.
I’ve pretty much got my next five years already mapped out, so if you see me at a dinner party in 2018, make a point to casually bring up nuclear magnetic resonance or partial differential equations. For now, however, do us both a favor and let’s just stick with college football and amusing Internet memes.
This should all prove very useful to me as I prepare for my most ambitious life adventure yet. All you really need to know right now is that I’ve run into a situation that has made it necessary for me to leave our lovely planet for a while, and I’ve decided my best course of action is to find a temporary respite on Kepler-62-e, at least until things settle down back home.
Kepler-62-e is a distant planet discovered in April by NASA’s powerful Kepler telescope. The planet is one of two discovered together that scientists believe is in the habitable or “Goldilocks” zone, close enough — but not too close — from its sun to contain water and potentially support life. While information is currently limited, NASA scientists say there’s “no reason to believe” it can’t support life or even already contain it.
Kepler-62-e is believed to be rocky and have a balmy climate similar to Hawaii. That works for me, although my “extended vacation” will require a few minor adjustments. For one thing, the planet rotates its sun in only 122 days, which means I’d automatically be about 107 years old there. Also, due to gravitational differences I’d automatically gain somewhere between 90 and 2,000 pounds. I can live with that. I just hope my fellow Keplerians are prepared to see a one-ton centenarian in a swimsuit.
All I have to do now is build my own spaceship and figure out a way to travel 12,000 light years, or 72,000-trillion miles, whatever number that would be (cut me some slack; I’ve only been at MIT a week!). Thanks to my new curriculum, it should be a cinch. I’ll start with “Intro to Aerospace Engineering and Design,” throw in a little “Astrodynamics” and “Random Matrix Theory.” What could possibly go wrong?
Even if you don’t share my interest in independent space travel, I do hope you share my enthusiasm for learning. There’s no real excuse for ever being bored when there is virtually an unlimited amount of fascinating new things you can study, and MIT is only the tip of the iceberg.
There are so many free courses available on the Internet that it’s almost overwhelming. A good place to start is iTunes University, which offers courses in everything from history to art and psychology. I’ve been playing with it for years now and wouldn’t completely be lying if I told my clients I took a Con Law class at Yale.
Also, check out all the cool live classes you can take right here in Mobile through the city’s Community Activities Program. All that really matters is that you commit yourself to life-long learning. Get out there and make yourself interesting. And yes, your spouse HAS already heard the one about that time you lost your car keys at that gas station in Eufaula.