Friday, April 10, 2009


Mark Twain once said (actually he probably said it all the time) that we shouldn't let our schooling get in the way our education. My research professor tells us that all the time, but then he gives you hot sauce packets from Taco Bell if you answer his questions right.

This last week, despite my super busy end-of-semester-schedule, I decided to not let my schooling get in the way of my education. It turns out that BYU provides students with endless opportunities for learning outside of the class. You just have to filter through the endless handouts and fliers posted on bulletin boards.

On Tuesday I went to a lecture on climate change, the first of a series of three lectures that comprised the university's first sustainability summit. I thought the students who put it on were way to into themselves and some of them seemed more like resume artists than earth savers, but I'll give them credit for bringing out the big guns. They recruited Dr. Handley, a comparative literature professor who's article on environmental stewardship made some pretty serious stirrings in my mind, and Dr. Gill, the university's brand new (and as far as I know only) climatologist. Dr. Handley opened the lecture with some thoughts on stewardship, and he was followed by Dr. Gill.

If all it takes to win the Nobel prize is a sweet powerpoint, then Gill should be a serious candidate. He gave one of the best powerpoints I have ever seen, and provided very compelling evidence for anthropogenic global warming. I left the meeting totally converted and ready to wage war on carbon dioxide. The furor has faded a little, but I'm definitely much more aware, and I'm always itching to tell people about it.

On Thursday I heard that the Ukrainian ambassador was coming to talk about U.S./Ukrainian relations. I split early from my writing class to attend the address. I wasn't dazzled by the guy's command of English (although it was much better than my Russian), but I was very impressed with his optimism. He spoke in pretty blunt terms about Ukraine's desire to become more like the West, as well as their relations to Russian. He was obviously born in Western Ukraine, though, because I didn't meet any Ukrainians who felt like he did.

Also on Thursday I dropped in the library auditorium where they were showing Heima, a documentary about Sigur Ros. I was delighted to see the room fairly hipster-free, and I basked in the purity of Iceland's greatest musicians. I don't care if their whole country went bankrupt; their music gives me goosebumps!

Thursday night I attended the last lecture in the sustainability summit series. Although it wasn't as rousing as Gill's lecture, it provided some interesting insights into the biodiversity in my backyard, or at least the lecturer's backyard. I was hoping he'd talk about composting and gardening, but it turned into a lot of soapboxing and traveloguing. Still, it helped put the problems facing our planet's biodiversity in perspective.

So I guess what I'm saying is it's been nice the last few days to forget about organic chemistry and learn stuff for the sake of learning.

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