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The Commute that Killed the Blog: Review of the Great Courses

The blog has died not for want of passion, but for want of time. A move has led me to a new job with a morning commute.

Also, my laptop broke. Sundays were my main blogging days. I'd spend 2-4 hours high on caffeine and sex, writing blog posts for the week. With a commute and without a laptop, something had to give.

I have, however, deeply enjoyed my commute. Self-discipline is the hardest of all forms to master. I wasn't reading as much as I should have been, and now a commute captures me for two hours a day. I can feed my brain Doritos, or I  can learning something.

I've thus been burning through the Great Courses series, and although this may sound like an advertisement, I have no affiliation and earn nothing for my endorsement.

"Memory and the Human Lifespan" was awesome enough that I listened to several of the lectures twice. I'm 50% finished with "Origins of the Human Mind," and it's similarly excellent. On deck is "Will to Power: The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche," which has mixed reviews online.

Robert Greendberg is a Great Courses fan-favorite, and I understood why, while listening to, "Chamber Music of Mozart."  

I spent a few years reading and thinking about consciousness, so I have an understanding of what to expert in a course entitled, "Philosophy of Mind: Brains, Consciousness, and Thinking Machines." It was, again, a fascinating looking at a perplexing subject.

Each course has been awesome, and I eye the catalog like a kid at Christmas.

Here are some tips.

Audio or DVD? Like you, I imagine returning home to watch a 30-minute lecture each night. Instead, I usually watch Sons of Anarchy. The road to a collection of unwatched Great Courses DVDs is paved with good intentions.

I tend to stick with the CDs. I really wanted "Neuroscience of Everyday Life," which was only available on DVD. I'll eventually watch it, but a CD would have been preferable.

The audio downloads work on an mp3 player, and last forever. I listened to the consciousness lectures while riding the stationary bike, two years ago. I can still access the lectures to re-listen to them. Pretty cool.

Wait for the 70% off sale. Every course goes on sale. There's no reason to pay full price. Sometimes, too, the sale price is still too high.

I paid $99.99 (less a 30% off coupon) for "Neuroscience of Everyday Life," which is now on super-sale for $49.99. WIth shipping, the DVD collection cost me $79.99, where as today it would only have costed me $49.99. I'm a little salty about overpaying, and am reminded that some sales are more equal than others.

Get coupons. Google, "Great Courses coupon code." (You should always use a "coupon code" search with whatever you're about to buy.) You'll land on RetailMeNot's page. You'll at least be able to find a working coupon for free shipping ($10 value).

They take longer to ship than suggested. Great Courses claims to same-day ship. In my experience, they take about 1-3 days to ship, and it takes about 7-10 days to receive my package. Since I go through 10-12 lectures a week, and since each course averages 24, I order a new set upon opening part two of the series.

The guarantee is awesome. If you lose or break a CD or DVD, they'll replace it. If a course doesn't do it for you, send it back for a refund.

In an era where scumbag companies try nickel-and-diming you, it's refreshing to find an honest company that adds real value to one's life.

My experiences with the Great Courses has been as positive and edifying as any other business relationship. I highly recommend them to you.