Monday, February 15, 2010

There's nothing like dancing in public with headphones...

With the semester now in full swing, my life for the next few weeks continues to be a race to the finish, save for a few pleasant interruptions. Monday's (now regular) meetings with presentation groups continue unabated. Luckily, one of said presentations will be out of the way come Wednesday. Honestly, I'm a bit nervous as to how it will go. We have the unenviable task of writing on three sustainability standards for which there is no--ZERO--academic, peer-reviewed literature. Seriously, I've Google scholar'd, Proquest'd, and ABInformed, all to no avail. So what we're running off of is basically blogs and news articles. While I'm happy to blag our way through this, there's this terrible suspicion that there's this treasure trove of critiques that our group is missing; however, I sincerely doubt it. Still, the doubt remains.

There are a couple of honest-to-goodness highlights, though, throughout the week. On Tuesdays, our program now has a "coffee talk" about sustainability. Essentially one of us circulates a topic/paper/video and then we talk about it for an hour. It's good to get the different views, and work through some of the issues we're bound to face. Speaking of, I really need to read the one for tomorrow. Thursdays bring our climate change seminars. After an hour-long lecture in the morning, we have a couple of hours to discuss a problem facing the world, whether transportation, energy solutions, or otherwise. Its honestly surprising how often we come up with the same general solutions. Though, as they say, the devil is inevitably in the details.

As much as I like the climate change class, though, it's difficult, because I feel like all too often sustainability is conflated with carbon, and, at least for me, the two aren't one in the same. I'm glad that scientists continue to question the evidence around climate change. They should. Though, unfortunately, the slightest bit of doubt is what makes the headlines, like so many other politicised issues. To me, either way you slice it, whether the world is cooling or warming, fewer pollutants in the air like CO2 and SO2 are a good thing. But that aside, sustainability for me is about living better. It's about cleaner air, and fresher foods, healthier populations, and happier families. We often forget that so many of the sustainability initiatives have such a positive impact on our happiness. More light from sustainable buildings, trees and flowers in landscaping, and fresh foods all make for a happier people, and that's worth something, even removing CO2 from the equation.

Back to our regularly scheduled program. I was interviewed by Samantha's boyfriend, Marcus, recently about UK fashion for his website. I'm sure most of my UK friends will disagree, but, I had the platform, so there you go.

I was originally going to go down to London on Friday to see an exhibit at the Design Museum about Dieter Rams, the head designer for Braun for 40 years. See some of his designs here. I really believe his principles of good design are the bedrock for sustainable design in the future. I'm hoping I can incorporate his work into my thesis somehow. So, as I was saying, I was going to see the exhibit on Friday, but then got an offer to go with a coursemate down on Saturday morning and stay with her sister that night and leave on Sunday. I figured longer in London wouldn't hurt, and I'd be going with a friend, which is far better than going alone.

I ended up having such a nice time. The ride down was uneventful, but we met her sister, who lives in Brixton, around 1 at the Brixton market for lunch with another couple of friends. The place served sourdough Neapolitan-style pizza. Even though it was a bit of a wait, it was worth it. FINALLY, decent pizza in the UK. Though, I don't think I'll travel down to London every weekend to get it. After, we toured around the market for a bit, where her sister volunteers for Brixton Transition Town. After walking into the shop next door I ended up getting in a great conversation with a guy about design, then off to the house for some dinner and a movie. The next day, after breakfast, we headed into central london, only to stop at a silent disco for a quick dance. For those of you who don't know, it's where you wear a pair of headphones and listen to music, rather than it being pumped over loudspeakers. Looks kind of funny when you're on the outside looking in, but there's something very liberating about dancing with 50 strangers, where no one cares. I highly recommend you attend if you have the opportunity. After an hour dancing, we got to the design museum, I saw my exhibit, and then we went for a late pub lunch. Tired, we dragged ourselves back to St. Pancras for the ride to St. Albans (lots of saints in this country) to catch our ride home. I was exhausted by the end of it all, but I had a great time.

So that's my life thus far. Oh and I forgot, Wednesday I went ice skating with climbing club, which was a blast. And we ended up going to a really great bar afterwards with live jazz-y type music. I guess I was a bit busier than I thought.

Well, pancake day is tomorrow, so I've stocked up on shake and pour (thank you betty crocker) and some nutella and bananas for a bit of a morning/night rendezvous with the frying pan. Sexy.

Back to the reading and presentation preparing! Oh, and check out The Local Natives, they're quite nice, if a bit similar to a lot of the other indie acts out there right now.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Color tests and me

So I decided to take a color test based on this article from USA Today. Great, done. And of course, what top two personality types does it come up with? Creator and Persuader. I mean, I'm glad a test validated what I perceive to be my skill set, but my career options based on this are limited to everything I'd find interesting to do but have absolutely no background in. Where is "sustainability expert" on there?

Quasi-full report:

Best Occupational Category

You're a CREATOR


Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

These original types place a high value on aesthetic qualities and have a great need for self-expression. They enjoy working independently, being creative, using their imagination, and constantly learning something new. Fields of interest are art, drama, music, and writing or places where they can express, assemble, or implement creative ideas.

Suggested careers are Advertising Executive, Architect, Web Designer, Creative Director, Public Relations, Fine or Commercial Artist, Interior Decorator, Lawyer, Librarian, Musician, Reporter, Art Teacher, Broadcaster, Technical Writer, English Teacher, Architect, Photographer, Medical Illustrator, Corporate Trainer, Author, Editor, Landscape Architect, Exhibit Builder, and Package Designer.

Consider workplaces where you can create and improve beauty and aesthetic qualities. Unstructured, flexible organizations that allow self-expression work best with your free-spirited nature.

Suggested Creator workplaces are advertising, public relations, and interior decorating firms; artistic studios, theaters and concert halls; institutions that teach crafts, universities, music, and dance schools. Other workplaces to consider are art institutes, museums, libraries, and galleries.

2nd Best Occupational Category



Witty, Competitive, Sociable, Talkative, Ambitious, Argumentative, and Aggressive

These enterprising types sell, persuade, and lead others. Positions of leadership, power, and status are usually their ultimate goal. Persuasive people like to take financial and interpersonal risks and to participate in competitive activities. They enjoy working with others inside organizations to accomplish goals and achieve economic success.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Second verse, same as the first...

Most of last week was pretty uneventful. I have a strong suspicion that in this compressed semester, that's how much of it is going to be. Lots of reading, meetings, and papers with a little time to play. Thursday was a big day, though. I met with someone about a potential masters thesis, and she agreed to be my advisor. We still have to work out the particulars of the topic, but it will be something concerning sustainable consumption, likely with a history twist. Right now we're thinking of examining advertising over time. Needs work. Also, I switched out of my law class and into a climate change mitigation class. I thought it would be a bit boring, but it turns out to be very interesting. I suppose it's one of the "happy classes" wherein I don't come out feeling incredibly depressed about the state of the world.

Sunday saw a trip to Roundhay Park for a leisurely pub lunch and then a long walk around the park. A nice (if chilly) way to spend and afternoon. Last night I meet up with a friend to watch the Superbowl. Of course, here, the Superbowl goes from 11pm to well past 3am, so it was a bit of a long night. Also, no commercials, which was very odd. Either way, a great game, though it was a bit sad not having my DC friends around me to partake in some pigs-in-a-blanket. Side note: pigs-in-a-blanket in England are sausages wrapped in bacon; a lovely idea to be sure, but lacking in the amazingness of cocktail sausages cloaked in golden, buttery dough.

Oh well, off for some more reading, that is if I can stay up...