The end of the world—a cataclysmic disaster that destroys all life as we know it—has gripped the popular imagination for millennia. And yes, unless our sun happens to find the fountain of youth during its whirling journey through the universe, one day it’s going to burp and fade away, swallowing our little, blue planet as it goes.
But the end, in a way, is nothing new. Studying ancient history reveals so many worlds that have already ended, having lasted for lengths of time I can’t even fathom before falling to dust by murder, wear or cataclysmic disaster, or sometimes simply by falling asleep.
Yet somehow in their deaths, they still survive. Bodies rise from the bogs, pyramids stand against the wind, centuries of once-living culture compacts into a single skull or pottery shard. To walk the beach is to tread on crushed remains from ancient oceans, of beings that once lived and died under the sun.
For me, courses and experiences are quite a lot like that—little worlds that rise and fall through the tides of a year or two, leaving parcels of information behind like all other leaky things in the universe. If you listen to me long enough (or pretty much at all) all these bits and bubbles will start oozing out into the conversation and coming alive again, like a virus or a once-dehydrated tardigrade.
Below is a fairly good picture of what I’ve encountered on this tiny, blue planet as it saunters around the sun.
The Blueberry Log, Year 4.5e9
COURSES OF A STUDIOUS NATURE (University Subjects)
I have studied…
Dynamics: Particles & Rigid Bodies * Statics * Vector Analysis
Drawing * Handbuilding * Photography * Sculpture * Wheelthrowing
The Dead Sea Scrolls * New Testament * Old Testament * The Synoptic Gospels
C Programming * Object-Oriented Programming
Art History: Prehistory-Renaissance * English Language & Literature * International Studies * Japanese Culture & Religion * Latin America & the Caribbean * South African Literature * The United States Experience
Circuit Theory * Computer Systems * Control Systems * Digital Design * Electrical Energy Systems * Electromagnetics * Electronics * Frequency Domain Techniques * Mechanics of Deformable Bodies * Mechatronics * Microprocessors * Orthographic Drawings * Signal Theory * Systems & Signals
Christian Marriage * Moral Responsibility * Perspectives on Life & Death * Roman Catholic Social Thought * Theology of Reconciliation & Justice
Ancient Hebrew * Arabic * French * Italian * Voice
Differential Equations and Linear Algebra * Differential & Integral Calculus * Series & Partial Differential Equations * Symmetry
Philosophy & Religion
The Church in the World * Christian Thought: Reformation-Modern * Classical Judaism * The Development of Western Thought * The Evolution of the Western Idea since the 17th Century * Islam * Jesus & Socrates: Faith & Reason * Marian Theology * Philosophy of Religion
Biology * Chemistry * Physics
Grass Roots Organizing * Rural Development
Astronautics & Human Spaceflight * Avian Care & Medicine * Wine (global)
ENDEAVORS OF THE ADVENTUROUS SORT (Experiences)
I have… watched whales * ‘adopted’ a literature-loving roach named Stew * kyaked with a school of dolphins (and later ‘adopted’ one) * conversed with fish in East London * seen a baboon fight a dog * been a member of the local aquarium * rescued sea birds * adopted a sun conure * rescued a racing pigeon * visited alpaca and butterfly farms
Culture & History
I have… photographed a shipwreck * eaten Titanic’s last meal * trained in Silat, Malay martial arts * visited the Taung world heritage site (which is also an abandoned mine) * camped at !Khwa Ttu San Education Centre * attended a sweat lodge ceremony * chanted with monks * happened upon the filming of a Bollywood music video * visited the Valley of a Thousand Hills * attended Zumba classes * had high tea at Mount Nelson * written papers on Japanese gardens and historic Chicago buildings (not together) * seen the blooming cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. (along with a bunch of other New England landmarks) * studied ballet * studied sign language * learned to play chess from a Vietnam veteran * attended a thoroughbred sale and races * assisted at weddings, funerals and a rainbow of other liturgical services * baked bread for Sunday masses * visited a polo club * fallen through/broken a window
Food & Other Artsy Things
Literature & Other Papery Things
I have… bungee jumped * kyaked down Sugar Creek, Turkey Run * explored the Cango Caves * hiked Table Mountain * seen the stars from atop a frozen lake in rural Wisconsin * visited the Badlands * went on safari in Kruger National Park * gone whitewater rafting on some classy rapids
I have… volunteered with horses and special needs riders * had breakfast with Desmond Tutu * had tea at Leuwenhof, home of the Western Cape Premier * taught art to children affected by HIV/AIDS * served soup to the mentally-ill and homeless * painted a wall for a children’s community center * taught English literacy to a German hairdresser * lived next to ~20 refugees, a woman with ~30 cats and a Muslim parrot (not at the same time) * walked for AIDS research * relayed for cancer research * volunteered at the local food pantry * attended a speech by a Nobel laureate
Science & Technology
I have… traveled aboard the A380 test flight from Chicago * launched my name to Mars aboard Insight * played with ham [radio] a very, very long time ago * randomly been given ten plates of agar by a worker in a government laboratory * raised funds for clean water * helped produce a batch of biofuel (named Ophelia)