Taking the Energy Evangelical Tour on the Road

| 3/7/2011 9:25:40 AM

 Last week was a busy one for speaking engagements. On Tuesday night I gave my “All You Eat Gardening Workshop” to about 60 people at the Tweed Horticultural Society meeting. It’s always a challenge to cover a full book’s worth of information in a one-hour long talk, and Michelle always points out that I talk much too fast, but I didn’t notice anyone in the audience nodding off, which is a good thing.

Then on Saturday I gave the keynote address to the Queen’s University “Commerce & Engineering Environmental Conference” in Kingston. This is a conference for students put on by students. It wasn’t like any other student-run conference where I have spoken. This was the real deal. In fact it was one of the best conferences that I’ve been to regardless of who organized it. The scope and breadth of the speakers and workshops was excellent, everything seemed to go off without a hitch, and the participants seemed truly engaged in the topic.

It was a bit of a homecoming for me in that I was a Queen’s Commerce student back in 1982/83. I had been out in the working world for a few years and then decided to go back to university as a “Mature Student”. I was a mature 21-year-old amongst all of the 18 and 19-year-old first year students. Michelle would suggest that like most men, even at the age of 51, it would be difficult to ever classify me as “mature.”

The age difference was particularly problematic during Frosh Week. The second year students took on the task of initiating (in other words humiliating) the first year students, and I would have none it. It didn’t matter how many water bombs they threw at me or how much whipped cream they sprayed on me; I was NOT going to do “leaping fairies” down Division Street. Consequently during “Kangaroo Court” at the end of the week I was crowned “Worst Frosh,” a distinction that I still take pride in. My disdain for authority continues to this day.

frosh week 

University students today are a much different bunch than when I was a student. First off, at this conference, they were much better dressed, with everyone in “business attire”. I was terrified when I realized that this was going to be the dress code for this conference since none of my suits fit me anymore. I had to iron some of my best Value Village and Giant Tiger clothing, and I managed to find a hipsterish narrow paisley tie that my Dad probably wore back in the 1950s. I’m pretty sure that my outfit didn’t really go together but luckily I’m past the point of caring about fashion. I began my talk by saying “I haven’t seen this many black suits since the last funeral I was at.” There was a nervous chuckle.

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