Stencils of letters N E V R taped to paper

Finals Week Is NOW

It usually seems that by the end of the semester most everyone is feeling burnt out and ready to go home for a while.  Or at least just tired of current classes.  Some people (myself included) prefer to cram everything they can into their noggins just before their exams, while others (perhaps smarter individuals) study gradually – building up their knowledge in advance and doing a sort of refresher prior to finals.  And then there are a number of students who appear not to study in the slightest.

Two E's of different size and color on paper

A preliminary design for one of the parts to my Drawing Final

In any case, the past month or so has been fairly hectic and I’ll be relieved once I’ve finished everything I need to.  I only have about 3/5ths of my Drawing project done and I need to do a massive amount of studying for my 20th Century Art class, as well as finish my Honors paper and study for that test…

An accurate assessment of my current emotional/mental state is definitely overwhelmed.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here are some photos from my Thanksgiving Break – Sand Sculptures at Saint Pete Beach!


St. Petersburg Science Festival

Bill Hogarth: Festival shows science can be fun

The Second Annual St. Petersburg Science Festival is Saturday and it’s going to be bigger and better than the first one last year. We’ll have about 100 exhibits set up along Bayboro Harbor, from Poynter Park all along the USF St. Petersburg waterfront.

I got the idea of having a science festival a few years ago when I was dean of the College of Marine Science. I thought, we have all these scientists working here and a lot of people don’t even know it.

In fact, the area clustered around this part of downtown St. Petersburg is one of the largest regional centers of science in the Southeast.

We have USF St. Pete, the USF College of Marine Science, USGS, SRI International, Florida Wildlife Research Institute, NOAA, Draper Laboratory.

So I thought, let’s show it off and also show that science can be fun. So that’s what we’re going to do on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We’re joining forces again with Marine Quest, which has been around for 18 years. It’s going to be a lot of fun. And this year we’re going to have eight food trucks to add to the excitement. We’ll have two research vessels open to tours, the Tampa Bay Rays will be talking about the science of baseball, wildlife the kids can touch and Lego robots.

I’m really proud of the exhibits USF St. Petersburg will have on display about sustainability. They’re all student projects that were put together in collaboration with our faculty members, so I think it will be a good example to younger kids of what they can do it they go to college.

Science isn’t just someone working alone in a lab mixing chemicals. It’s math, biology, chemistry, technology. It stretches from the bottom of the oceans to the darkest depths of space. And there are jobs to be had, even in this economy.

Most of all we want people to have fun while they learn about science.

I hope I see you out there.

Speaking in Moldova

Clubul Avocatilor

While in Moldova on a Fulbright this summer, I interviewed the team at the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative. (My project studies the impact of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights on legal/political/judicial reform in Moldova — you can read more about my Moldova trips on my other blog.)

I was pleased when they invited me to deliver a guest lecture to attorneys in Chisinau as a part of their speaker series.

I delivered a lecture about the history and operation of the U.S. Supreme Court that included a behind-the-scenes tour.

I will be giving a modified version of this lecture and tour on Monday, August 24 in my U.S. Constitutional Law class.

Historic Williams House

Big, slippery words: “sustainable and authentic”

My first introduction to travel writer Herb Hiller was a book that Professor Gary Mormino suggested, Highway A1A: Florida at the Edge.

The second time, I met him and filmmaker Caroline McKeon in the Snell House (home to USFSP’s Honors Program and Florida Studies programs). Hiller and McKeon were planning a conference, Sustainable and Authentic Florida, which is scheduled for October 17-19 in nearby Anna Maria Island.

After discussing their conference plans with Mormino and Florida Studies Program director Chris Meindl, we all strolled down the street for lunch at Kahwa, a great local coffee shop.

Walking and talking with Hiller, it became clear that we have much in common. Besides similar environmental and travel ethics, we also share a fondness for what Hiller calls “authenticity” of local experience, though I’m still bending my mind around what that term actually means in this context.

Descriptors like “unique” and “place-based” barely scratch the surface. Deep connections with local ecosystems and economies (e.g., “mom and pop” businesses) are certainly implicated.

Perhaps embracing authenticity means fostering historical and cultural continuity, like vernacular architecture, but I also hope that it can be open to diversity and the global exchange of ideas.

(Free market intellectualism ought to be a pillar of the information age, no?)

Green Lodging Florida sign

Green is everywhere. Photo: Tim Hipps, U.S. Army

“Sustainable” is a similarly slippery word. Now that it’s trendy to be “green,” it gets my hackles up when such adjectives are mis- or over-used. Yet these are conversations we need to be having across all disciplines.

The three pillars of sustainability – environment, economy, equity – are complex and demanding of thoughtful inquiry. Engaging “Sustainable and Authentic Florida” is doubly so.

I’ve kept in touch with Hiller and McKeon since our first meeting and they’ve enlisted me as a participant and blogger for the upcoming conference. It promises to be an intriguing event, a continuation of my Florida Studies experience as well as food for thought on my gap-year travels.

Image of an alligator

MAPS (in all caps) Part II

I’m not saying that running from alligators is easy…

A few days ago, the first map for my bicycle trip across the country arrived in the mail. The Adventure Cycling “Florida Connector” route runs from Fort Lauderdale to St. Augustine.

Each map provides a “here’s what to expect” summary of the route. My favorite line from the Florida Connector Map is:

Watch for small alligators and crocodiles in the more rural areas between LaBelle and Clewiston as you approach Alligator Alley along the I-75 corridor.

I’m not saying that running from alligators is easy, but I would venture that zig-zagging on foot is substantially easier than zig-zagging on a loaded touring bike.

How to zip through 100 foot deep sinkholes (and find your way)

Adventure Cycling has staked out plenty of bicycle compatible routes. Each route (or route portion) is decomposed into segments. The roads are carefully selected to offer an amalgamation of abundant services, light traffic, and/or wide shoulders.

A glimpse of the Florida Connector route segments

A glimpse of the Florida Connector route segments

The built environment: The location of bike shops, campgrounds, conveniences stores, grocery stores, hostels, hotels, libraries, restaurants, points of interest, and post offices are all right in front of your sweaty, sunscreen encrusted eyes. Many of these amenities are within a convenient distance from the route. By the way, St. Petersburg offers something similar for visiting cyclists. I urge you to check it out and use it!

The natural environment: Elevation and regional climatic information are provided. Of course the map also depicts Florida’s spectacular Karst features from the tranquil lakes to the gaping sinkholes. In fact, this route offers the opportunity to ride through a 100 foot deep sinkhole near Mount Dora (according to the map.) I am super excited to cross that off my bucket list!