Thursday, November 21, 2013

Show and Tell

Today at LIFE we did something different. We asked our LIFErs to come prepared to share a passion, craft, idea or just something interesting with the group. We couldn't believe how many diverse interests we had. Annie shared a Dead Sea Foam carved pipe which was white and beautiful. Ken remembered a former program and shared one aspect of this: TRUTH. It’s a way to think before you speak: T- Is it true? R – is it relevant? U – Is it useful? T- Is it timely? H – Is it hurtful? He had a funny way of saying that he needs to think about what he says more than most J Diana shared her passion for crocheting and learning what other passions she might have. Stephen knows a lot about a lot and can do lots, like craft giant aluminum sculptures such as a dragon and a Viking ship which he did as gifts to his daughter and son respectively. Pauline gave us Sudoku lessons. Arvis gave us glimpse into her family’s genealogy with a marriage certificate from the 1800s. Jennifer and Carolyn didn’t come with a plan, but Jennifer enlightened us on the benefits of foster care of which she is a success story. And Carolyn will cook us up a German cookie at the Dec. 6 program on green crafts. We loved welcoming Leyel Hudson and her ASL students who practice on us. We even got a short ASL lesson. Jennifer stopped by the Ref Desk to tell me that her son decided to take ASL as a result of her telling about this class. Serendipity! Usha gave a wonderful live demo of how to make a spicy, layered dip called Chaat (literaly to lick) and Jill gave us tasty sweets from Vietnam. Claire raffled off her cook book and her book, LIFE in the Library.

Many thanks to our creative and talented LIFErs!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

JazzRoots or Kickin' Up Classics?

LIFE had a true treat today when Dr. John Wolfskill came to give us a preview of two upcoming shows, Jazz Roots tonight and Kickin’ Up the Classics on Thursday Nov. 21, both at 7:30. John started us out singing a form of doo wop with his jazzy lead. John read the lyrics of the song The Impossible Dream which evoked for him a quest. He is concerned about the state of the country and how our students may be lost. But, after this serious interlude, he introduced Professor Alan Johnson who not only teaches for the college, but also is a professional violinist. His violin is a beauty made around 1720 by the Klotz family in the Tyrolean Alps of Austria. He has had it for 41 years! His students made up our string quartet:

Olivia Alexandre on cello
Cameron Dempster on violin
Jessica Vance on viola
Annie Blackwell on violin

We heard selections from Handel’s Water Music which was created as music for the barge. The Largo was played as well. We learned a little about Antonio Vivaldi who originally entered the priesthood, but was drawn to teaching. He taught school girls of the upper class but who had questionable legitimacy. This fabulous quartet along with their director also played Spring concerto from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. And what quartet would not be complete without Mozart? Apparently Mozart had an IQ of about 178 and was not only prolific, but also extremely innovative. We enjoyed the Quarto in G major (first movement). Such talent we have at Lone Star College – CyFair.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Philosophy Study Abroad

Professor Mark Thorsby regaled our LIFErs today with stories from his study abroad class with Professor Maria Sanders to the United Kingdom. This was a philosophy and logic class which challenged their students to examine their lives and find out what makes them tick. Mark highly recommends Aristotle’s Ethics. We took a virtual tour via Google Street View to Oxford University in England and stood on the steps of the Bodleian Library questioning why we want an education. It is not only to improve our lifestyle, but also to further knowledge. Mark spoke about the Dark Ages when our society collapsed and records were not kept. It was the monks who founded Oxford University and to this day the students and faculty wear robes during exam time to commemorate the renaissance of knowledge and history. Christ Church School’s cathedral was the model for the Harry Potter dining room in Hogwarts School. The pubs of Oxford are places where community meet to discuss life, not just drink beer.

On we went to Edinburgh, Scotland and saw the beauty of a city not destroyed by bombs of the world wars. The architecture is rich and varied and David Hume, the famous philosopher, gave much of his wealth to create a beautiful public park. Lewis Carroll also wrote in Edinburgh and used the daughter of the dean of Christ Church, Oxford as a role model for Alice in Wonderland. His tailor had a funny hat and he turned out to be the Mad Hatter. Not to mention a big fat cat.

On to Belfast they went to question war and how the seeds of war and strife were sown over 500 years ago. The students were exposed to this culture of the United Kingdom and came home with an expanded life view full of depth and nuances.

We were especially struck by the study abroad program's wilderness training. It took the students' complicated lives, stripped them of paraphernalia, and allowed them to appreciate the simplicity of an unencumbered life: what matters is the character on the inside, not the window dressing of material goods.

Mark says that LIFE should take a trip abroad!