Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Conversation (sort of...)

I am going to Sweden!!!
Whoot Whoot!

Yeah, that's right. I'm going to a place that looks like that...

Anyway, yeah, I thought to let you all know that I am studying abroad in Sweden next semester! Rather exciting, at least I think. I am going to Västerås, about an hour's train ride outside of Stockholm. August until January...5 months of pure Swedish goodness. Pure Swedish environmental goodness. I'm studying more (insert your favorite positive adjective) environmental science there, so cheers to that!!!!

Oh, and don't worry. We will continue the blogging...trans-Atlantic style!

Here's the link to my Swedish university, if you so incline...

Yeeeeaaahh, we're well aware that our blogging consistency is sub-par even when we ARE on the same side of the ocean, but we're determined not to let the Atlantic stand in the way of more high-quality OKHIG updates.

As for me, I am NOT going to Sweden. I'm spending the summer at home in CT and then coming back to VT in the fall for another exciting semester at UVM. However, I did see the Pope a few weeks ago, which certainly warrants a mention.

We went to the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium on April 20, and it was amazing. Even though our seats were in the bleachers and we only saw the Pope on the big screen that was completely blocking the actual view, and also when he drove around in the Popemobile, it was still completely awesome. His presence in our country was so inspiring....he was absolutely radiating joy, and it seemed like he was really happy to be here. Incidentally, he spoke about environmentalism in a few of his speeches and homilies....we might post more about that some other time.

Anyway, here's a picture I took of Il Papa on the big screen:

Right, I suppose I should write about my summer there of? I think I'm working at a hardware store again...and at a museum again. Both the same jobs I had in high school and last summer. Maybe painting my parent's house perhaps? Oh, and learning Swedish. Lots of Swedish. Applying for my visa, which might take me down to the NYC area. Going to beautiful Niagara Falls to visit my family once again (I love them!). Beyond that, I'm really not sure. Though if I look back on that list actually is a lot. Interesting how a lack of plans can quickly...change?
But isn't life always like that? God always has plans for us, even if we don't know what they are, or choose to ignore them. Remember that!

Wise words indeed. As our friend St. Pio says, "Pray, hope, and don't worry."

I'm in the market for a summer job. In a perfect world, I would be hanging out with large carnivores of the feline persuasion, but as it is, I'll probably be working retail. Ah well, money is money.

Money makes everything awkward and complicated. Le sigh.

Audrey, Closing Remarks:
It's final exam week. The intense studying is beginning to take its toll. I am personally going rather insane. Just barely, for instance, I said that Lent starts with ladle. Yes, a spoon. Figure that one out for me...

Oh, and more posts will definitely come in the summer. So be prepared....

Kristin, Closing Remarks:
Haha, "be prepared"....that reminds me of the song from The Lion King, which is arguably the best movie ever. BE PREPARED!!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

In Other News...

Since we've been busy lately but don't want to neglect our blogly responsibilities, we thought we'd just give you a nice, neat list of some interesting news. Click the links for further details. Enjoy!

-The Pope is coming to America! Okay, so that's not the newest of news, but it's pretty exciting.

-Controversy! The Washington, D.C. Metro aired this ad in anticipation of heavy traffic during the papal visit to the U.S. Lots of people were pretty miffed. We love Pope BXVI and we think it's kind of clever.

-In this day and age, there are a lot of new ways to be sinful. Many be sinful. For example....unnecessarily driving a Hummer is now a "deadly sin!" Okay, not in so many words, but the Vatican has reminded the faithful that with new technology and new global problems, there are new things that we need to keep in mind to avoid sin. Among these is the idea that being environmentally unfriendly is un-Godly. It's God's nice to it.

-(Disclaimer: the following is purely a Kristin moment.) I love coffee. I want to try this coffee. It's called Kopi Luwak, and the process is basically this:
Step 1: The luwak, a cat-like Indonesian animal, eats coffee cherries.

Step 2: The the coffee cherries.
Step 3: Nature runs its course, and brave people collect the luwak's droppings and make coffee out of them.
Apparently the luwak's digestive system makes the coffee taste really good.

-Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Great Britain, was received into the Church back in December! Yay! (We know we're a little behind the curve as far as our timing is concerned. Give us a break, it's still cool. We promised you news, not necessarily up-to-date news.) This just goes to show that environmentally friendly political leaders can find a place in their hearts for Jesus and His Church.

-Okay, here's something a little more timely. Scientists have recently developed a new map that can pinpoint biodiversity hotspots. This is very good news for conservationists, because it can lead to new information about species that need protecting and the areas that will best support them.

-China's environmental activists are becoming more vocal, but facing the government is a dangerous prospect. Greenpeace has a Beijing branch that is hopeful about Chinese ingenuity starting an energy revolution worldwide.

-On the personal side of things: Audrey is spending the fall semester studying environmental-type things in SWEDEN, and Kristin spent this morning catching cute little birds (it was bird banding with a federally licensed individual, it was legit, seriously). Cool, ja!

That's all for now!!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Bunnies! Their social and ecological importance



Okay, so we're ridiciously sorry that we haven't posted in like...a month.

We love our blog, we really do.....but we also need to learn about the environment, and that kinda takes precedence over blogging. We'll do better in the future...we swear....seriously....except maybe during finals week.....

So anyway, we promised that we'd write about whatever topic won the poll, and (insert drumroll).....bunnies won!



Sometimes....they're alive and fluffy....sometimes they're pink and sugary.....but either way, they are always delectable. (KIDDING)

Though marshmallow peeps are always delectable, we would like to let you know that we do not eat real bunnies. Some people do, and hey, whatever floats your boat man, but we'll stick with cows.

Bunnies (and by the way, yes, that is the technical term), are extremely environmentally significant. They are a reliable and quickly-reproducing source of food for...predators... like coyotes and bobcats. They add joy to our forested landscapes (insert tiny violin) and serve as a little view of nature for suburban residents.

Bunnies. They can be used as an example for any hypothetical ecological situation. Just ask The John Shane. Want to know how quick speciation will occur if a mountain range just pops up unexpectedtly? Just think about pink and blue bunnies. Wondering about how the process of natural selection works? Consider the fact that there are no bunnies with prehensile tails...not anymore...

Bunnies. They are high in cultural (and nutritional) value (lots of protein). But as for the cultural thing, many societies highly revere bunnies as a symbol of life and vitality.

Here's the part where our Catholicism rears its beautiful head: we have something to say about UVM's ol' Valentine's Day posters (a.k.a. the "let's have lots of extramarital sex because as long as we chemically or physically neuter ourselves first, it's okay" advertisements). These posters featured rabbits, relying on the fact that, well, rabbits are notorious for their indiscriminate reproductive habits, rather much like the stereotypical college student. In this way, our university assumes that all of its students will engage in illicit sexual activities, thereby detracting from the dignity of our human sexuality. Sex is consistently disrespected on this campus, as in many other places, and those of us who believe in the sanctity of sex as a unitive and procreative act intended for marriage are usually ignored/ridiculed/discounted as ignorant prudes. Personally, we think it's pretty insulting to be characterized as rabbits with no self-control, but that's just us.

Uh...this post is getting kind of here's a list of BUNNIES WE LIKE.

Bunnies We Like:
~Marshmallow Peep bunnies
~The Killer Rabbit from Monty Python
~Big Bunny (click the link; we promise you intense hilarity)
~Buster from "Arthur"
~The Easter Bunny (although he's got nothing on Jesus....come on now, the Easter Bunny didn't rise from the dead)
~The Cadbury Bunny and his clucking noises
~Bugs Bunny
~Roger Rabbit
~Chocolate bunnies
~The Velveteen Rabbit (so sad...we'd give him a hug even if he was infested with scarlet fever)
~The Trix Rabbit
~Buster Bunny from "Tiny Toons" (especially the video that's great)
~Disney bunnies (the cute little woodland creatures from Snow White and Enchanted and stuff like that)
~Thumper from Bambi (technically a Disney bunny, but so darn cute that he gets his own spot on the list)

And so we will close with a quote from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. And a ridiculously cute photo of a bunny.

Tim: There he is!
King Arthur: Where?
Tim: There!
King Arthur: What? Behind the rabbit?
Tim: It *is* the rabbit!
King Arthur: You silly sod!
Tim: What?
King Arthur: You got us all worked up!
Tim: Well, that's no ordinary rabbit.
King Arthur: Ohh.
Tim: That's the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!
Sir Robin: You tit! I soiled my armor I was so scared!
Tim: Look, that rabbit's got a vicious streak a mile wide! It's a killer!
Sir Galahad: Get stuffed!
Tim: He'll do you up a treat, mate.
Sir Galahad: Oh, yeah?
Sir Robin: You manky Scots git!
Tim: I'm warning you!
Sir Robin: What's he do? Nibble your bum?
Tim: He's got huge, sharp... er... He can leap about. Look at the bones!
King Arthur: Go on, Bors. Chop his head off!
Sir Bors: Right! Silly little bleeder. One rabbit stew comin' right up!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Blessed are the riparian species

Recently at Mass, the responsorial Psalm was Psalm 1:

Happy are those who do not follow the counsel of the wicked,
Nor go the way of sinners,
nor sit in company with scoffers.
Rather, the law of the Lord is their joy;
God's law they study day and night.
They are like a tree planted near streams of water,
that yields its fruit in season;
Its leaves never wither;
whatever they do prospers.

But not the wicked!
They are like chaff driven by the wind.
Therefore the wicked will not survive judgment,
nor will sinners in the assembly of the just.
The Lord watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.

After Mass, we looked at each other and simultaneously commented that God must love riparian zones too!

The phrase "a tree planted near streams of water" evokes powerful images in the minds of enviro-type people like us....vivid memories of stream surveys, macroinvertebrate samples, impervious surface analysis, and bankfull height calculations. And we both admitted that while the rest of the people in attendance probably absorbed the phrase and moved on, both of us had been wondering what species was being referred to here (yellow birch? silver maple? black willow? green ash?). And what kind of wildlife did that particular riparian environment support? What was the possibility of drought? What was the stream flow rate? What could have been done to prevent erosion (aside from prayer)? Were there damselfly larvae in this stream (kind of lessens the poetic effect, but that's reality)? And how long would it take a floating orange to travel one meter downstream (we can't help it if we've been permanently influenced by stream labs)?

We love streams. Audrey loves streams so much, in fact, that she is a water resources major and wants to bring clean drinking water to everybody in the world. A noble ambition, to be sure. Kristin isn't THAT into streams, but she did appreciate that one time during a Measurements & Mapping lab that she got the privilege of spending several hours barefoot in a cold Vermont stream, bonding with water skippers and slippery rocks.

We love water. It's quite prevalent in our Church. There's holy water, and a ton of Biblical water (Moses and the Red Sea, John the Baptist baptizing people in the Jordan River, Jesus turning water into wine at Cana, Jesus walking on water....just to name a few). We use water for baptisms, and during the Easter season we're CRAZY into the sprinkling rite (that's when the priest walks around at the beginning of Mass and uses an aspersorium [holy water holder] and aspergillum [holy water sprinkler] to fling holy water all over everybody).

In other news, our poll is over, and you have decided that it would be a good idea for us to blog about Bunnies: their ecological and cultural significance. Stay tuned. Thanks to everybody who voted!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

David Attenborough: We just don't know

Hi again!!
Behold how gorgeous Vermont is:


If you're not here, that kinda makes you wish you were, does it not? It would definitely make us wish we were here if we weren't already, which we are....hahahahaha!

On to today's topic (and it's a good one!): DAVID ATTENBOROUGH. Man or legend? We just don't know.

You may know Mr. Attenborough from his career with the BBC narrating nature documentaries such as The Life of Birds, Life in the Freezer, and, most notably, Planet Earth (not the Discovery Channel version, but the original BBC version and the DVDs, which are exponentially cooler).

Here he is, doing what he does best:

HE IS CLEARLY A PRETTY COOL GUY. How many people do you know who make a habit of chilling with ridiculous animals and speaking in one of the most recognizable voices in the world? Granted, we don't actually know David Attenborough, but we would invite him over for tea if we could!

In addition to being basically the coolest naturalist narrator we've ever encountered, he is also the inspiration for the BBC parody series Look Around You. If you've never had the amazing experience of watching a Look Around You episode, we highly suggest that you get yourself over to YouTube POST HASTE and check out "Maths," "Water," and/or "Music." Then go to the official Look Around You website and enjoy the highly entertaining periodic table, quizzes, and sweet backgrounds. WE'RE BIG FANS. Like....fangirl fans. It's that intense.

As conservationists, we appreciate Mr. Attenborough's accomplishments. He brings the natural world into people's living rooms, and his educated yet conversational style is pretty darn captivating. Anyone who can make the average person care deeply about kiwi birds or walruses or the spawning habits of Christmas Island red crabs gets the thumbs up from us.

As an added bonus, we direct you to this hilarious clip, also made by the good people who bring us Look Around You. It's the delightful 80s-style "Birds of Britain" and we love it.

What ARE birds? ....we just don't know.

Friday, February 15, 2008

St. Francis and his wind turbines

Did St. Francis of Assisi have wind turbines? No.
If he could have had them, would he? You better believe it.

Pretty much everybody knows who St. Francis is. If you don't, we're happy to take this opportunity to introduce you.

Here he is:

Look how friendly he looks! All surrounded by birds and flowers, chillin' in Heaven, praying for you. What a nice guy.

The basics:
-Born in Italy in 1181 to a reasonably wealthy family
-Had a conversion experience while a prisoner of war
-Embraced the Gospels and started imitating Christ as literally as possible....this included giving up his comfortable life in favor of begging and living among animals and that sort of stuff....which caused his family to disown him
-Cared for the sick, preached in the streets, composed hymns
-People started to follow him because he was cool....and eventually he got the Papal OK to found the Franciscan order
-Received the stigmata (wounds of Christ) in 1224
-Died in 1226 of natural causes....his relics are still in Assisi today
-Canonized in 1228 by Pope Gregory IX
-Feast day = October 4

So now that you know all about St. might be wondering why we're ranting and raving about him, fangirl-style, seemingly out of nowhere.

He's the patron Saint of ecology, ecologists, animals, tree huggers, the environment....basically anything nature-related. And that pretty much describes not only us, but also our educational experience and this here blog. Therefore, St. Francis of Assisi is the official patron Saint of Okay Here I Go. w00t!

So let's move on to the wind turbine thing. Why would St. Francis have liked wind turbines? He loved, lived in, and respected nature. Wind turbines are good for nature. We think that sums it up pretty nicely, but we're willing to go into a bit more detail for the benefit of you good people.

To increase your eco-knowledge, we've included this great photo of some wind turbines. Tada!

Wind turbines are pretty sweet. Other than fuel used during maintenance, they're carbon neutral. They have very few other environmental impacts. Sure, there have been claims that they cause bird deaths. But then again, research has shown that these deaths are minimal, about the same as those killed by cars and windows each year. Besides, if you were a goose just flying around and then saw these big blades spinning in the sky, wouldn't you avoid them? Um, yeah...

Besides.....ain't they pretty?

Anyway, we wanted to tell you all of this because......we want to get the Catholic Center a wind turbine! Yes, the CC wants to go green! It's pretty sweet, because in a year or two, a couple wind companies in Vermont want to offer residential wind kits for under $15,000 (= cheap). We will admit that it probably will take a couple years to get it...between dealing with our incredibly bureaucratic university, fundraising, permitting, building the thing...Audrey would like to try to work on it as a senior thesis, which would be pretty sweet. Beats writing a paper about fecal pathogens!

Anyway, when (if) we get our lovely turbine installed, we would like to name it after Saint Francis. Because, like we said before, he rocks.

Oh, and Happy Belated Sts. Cyril and Methodius Day!!!!
(And St. Valentine too.....but he's not nearly as cool. Did he create a Slavic written language? That's what we thought. Although they're all in Heaven, so they're all pretty awesome in our book.)

And in honor of our friend St. Francis, who is consistently pictured with birds, here's a Bird of the Day!

Bird of the Day: Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

One more thing: if you look to the right, just below our "About Me" section, you'll notice that we've added a poll. The idea here is to see which of these four topics you, our lovely readers, are most interested in reading our ramblings about. The poll closes at 11:59 pm on February 28, so get your votes in!!

(DISCLAIMER: We reserve the right to blog about any and all of these topics at any time, and we will probably cover them all at some point. The winning selection will merely have the privilege of being tackled first.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Tour de CC

Home, sweet home.


Ah yes, the Catholic Center. Our spiritual headquarters.

We thought that since we do and will do most of our blogging from here, we probably should explain this place. To help give you guys some background info, and so that you'll know where we're coming from.

And being the only place on our campus where you can find Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul AND Divinity at any time (take that Davis Center! Burn!) the Catholic Center (or the CC as we hip Catholics call it) gets a lot of use. It's a pretty busy place..with daily Mass, confession, Bible study, dinners, studying, conversations, movie nights, ping-pong tournaments, and general frivolity...okay, so it's not all spiritual, but Jesus is always here (even for the ping-pong....honestly, what church has a ping-pong table? Um, we do!).

Behold, the exterior:

Pretty sweet, huh? Doesn't it just ooze holiness, even at night? Notice the snowflakes. Holy snowflakes.

Sometimes people study here, but mostly they pretend to study when in reality they're doing other things, like listening to music, talking amongst themselves, or...blogging.... *ahem*

Anyway, behold the study room:

Unlike the study room, the chapel is a clutter-free area with only one intended purpose (though perhaps with a few variations). It's not what we'd call breathtakingly gorgeous, but it works well. And surprisingly, its yellow stained glass, lack of a center aisle, lack of kneelers, and 70s style brickwork (they don't call us Groovy UV for nothing) have really grown on us.

Behold! The Chapel!

So that concludes our tour for now. We hope you enjoyed the ride. We know we promised to talk about the potential Catholic Center wind turbine, but that will have to wait for another day (stay tuned!).

So, while we may not be organic or LEED Gold Certified, have an elevator that runs on vegetable oil, or Vermont's widest staircase, or a New World Tortilla, we do have Jesus. And that OWNS!

Catholic Center: 1
Davis Center: 0


P.S. We invite all of you good people to leave comments whenever you are so inclined. Just click the "comments" don't even need a Blogger excuses.