Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Tuggeranong Rotary

Several Rotary events this week...

Tuesday evening I spoke at the Tuggeranong Rotary club for their 18th anniversary meeting. A nice time all in all but the meeting was three hours long! My host club, Canberra Sunrise, specifically decided to have their meetings at 7:30 am so that the meetings are automatically kept to one hour so people can get to work. Now I see the benefit of that! Granted it was an evening to celebrate...

Here I am exchanging club banners with their president.

Oh, and a good opportunity came out of that evening. One of the members came up to me after my talk and as a federal Parliamentarian, he offered to arrange a meeting with the Minister of the Environment for me! How's that for connections? I hardly knew what to say and have to put some serious thought into that.

Saturday evening was another Rotary event...Canberra Sunrise every year sponsors a program for high school students, the Model United Nations Assembly or MUNA. They bring students from all over Australia to Canberra to model UN sessions. On Saturday we had a great dinner at ANU with a number of diplomats and commissioners visiting from the local embassies. We were seated with the American contingent and met a woman from the US embassy who told us all about the public service and her job here. Quite interesting.

So its been a busy week and school is going well. Trying to put the final touches on my outline and plan out my methodology for my masters research essay before we head off on our travels over the two week holiday in September.

Friday, August 11, 2006

I met Jane Goodall!

You cannot imagine my excitement when I heard that Jane Goodall was speaking at the ANU and that there was a special lunch afterwards for students to get to chat with her. She of course, is the famous primatologist who lived in the forests of Gombe National Park in Tanzania studying chimpanzees in the longest field study of any animal species in their natural surroundings.

She spoke about her studies and time in Gombe and how she has now decided to leave the forests that she loves so much to address the issues that are threatening those forests, namely human population and consumption. So she has started the Jane Goodall Institute with the mission of advancing the power of individuals to take informed and compassionate action to improve the environment of all living things. She speaks 300 days out of the year.

Her talk was entitled Reason for Hope and in it she discussed the habitat destruction in Africa and elsewhere, the day to day struggles of humans in those areas that are causing such destruction, and the use of chimpanzees in medical testing. She discussed the nearly identical DNA structures of chimps and humans, and told stories about their personalities, emotions and lasting family relationships. Yet with our incredible similarities, we still make a distinction between them and us that legitimates our "use" of them.

Her reason for hope (and this is the part that I wanted to hear) lies in the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of a growing number of young people around the world who are finding out about the environmental and social problems and want to do something about it. For this reason she has started the Roots and Shoots program to get youth involved in service-learning projects that promote care and concern for animals, the environment, and the human community.

Her speech was positively inspiring and she kept a packed lecture theatre captivated for the hour. The lunch was a nice chance to ask questions though I didn't really get to spend any time with her. As you can imagine she is one popular woman and I merely had the chance to say hello, thank her for her work and have a friend snap a photo.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

A Bike Story

Brian recently decided that he "needs" a new bike. Now I say "needs" because in our possession in Australia we currently have a tandem, two commuter bikes of not the best quality, and a junker bike that Brian rescued from the side of the road but hasn't touched since. So as he commutes to work daily, he thought a new bike would be a nice new toy.

He wanted another Bike Friday (foldable and packable like our tandem) and had started to think about having one made (in Oregon) and getting it shipped here, an expensive and time-consuming process, or having it rushed to be made and shipped to Cleveland so Brian's parents could bring it over in September. Then I remembered that on the Bike Friday group ride we did back in May, a guy stopped us and said he had a Bike Friday Pocket Rocket in his garage that he wanted to sell. Since I didn't know how to actually get a hold of this guy, I sent some emails to the BF organizers here and asked if they knew how to contact him. That same afternoon we went out for a ride around the lake on the tandem and as we were stopped at the top of a hill looking out at a great view of the lake, who bikes past us but that very same guy. So I yell out, "hey are you the guy with the Bike Friday in your garage?" and he stops and says yes he still has it. That was yesterday and today we went over to his place to look at it and brought it home. Got a great deal and it included the travel case. It's a super nice bike and the same color as the tandem. Very exciting.

Oh, and just to make the story a little cooler, the guy we bought it from is Michael Milton, the fastest Australian skier ever (and on one leg!). By fast I mean 132 miles per hour on skis, well one ski. He's got a great story...see

So everybody's happy and there is now one more bike in our living room. Here's a photo.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Office Mates

Last week we had an international lunch where all of the postgrads brought food from their home countries. It was so amazing...such good food! This photo was taken in our office after the lunch when we were all pretty happy, obviously.

Represented here: US, Indonesia x 2, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Australia, Papua New Guinea and India.

I brought spinach artichoke dip with pita bread as that's what I bring to every potluck. Also noteworthy...I tried kangaroo stew. Most of you will know that I am a vegetarian, but I thought I should probably try it at least once. It was chewy and a little gamey and I am reminded that I just don't really like meat anymore.