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Live, learn and prosper: Area programs feature science experts

Inland Northwest residents have the great fortune to be surrounded by several institutions of higher learning. Our regional colleges and universities invite terrific speakers from all over the country – and sometimes from all over the world – and open these talks to the public.

This week, enjoy a free science binge. On Wednesday, Spokane Community College’s President’s Speaker Series is hosting a talk on global partnership by Shaifali Puri, executive director of Scientists Without Borders. Puri’s presentation begins at 7 p.m. in the SCC Lair-Student Center auditorium, 1810 N. Greene St.

Then, next Monday, March 18, Gonzaga University will host biochemist Bruce Alberts, former president of the National Academy of Sciences and the editor-in-chief of the journal Science. His talk “Science and the World’s Future” begins at 7:30 p.m., in the Cataldo Hall Globe Room on the GU campus.

JUST ASK: Sue Hallett of Colfax gave me permission to share this story here. It’s an elegant example of what can happen when you ask for something in your community.

“I want to tell you about a new development in Colfax, relating to baby boomers. After my husband and I finished conventional college degrees, we discovered the amazing resources of community colleges. While living in Lynden, Wash., in the ’70s, we took sailing lessons on Bellingham Bay, and my husband learned to play bluegrass on the banjo.

“Then, while in the Goldendale, Wash., area, we took a dog obedience class and another on basic auto repair.

“When we moved to Colfax in 1979, we enjoyed something called the Community Free U, managed for many years by a Washington State University English professor named Paul Brians. CFU was great, but it petered out eventually.

“I was wandering around the Internet a few months ago and came across the ACT 2 classes offered by the Community Colleges of Spokane.

“I tossed off a brief email to them, remarking that the classes sounded like exactly what I wanted as a young retiree. Would they ever offer them in Colfax? I didn’t expect much of an answer, basically sending the post because I felt sorry for myself that I couldn’t take advantage of all the Spokane offerings.

“Imagine my surprise when Jaclyn Jacot, (director) of ACT 2, wrote back immediately saying that there weren’t any classes in Colfax at the time, but that didn’t mean that there couldn’t be.

“I’ve been active with the local Friends of the Library and contacted Kristie Kirkpatrick, the director of Whitman County Library, who was very enthusiastic about bringing adult enrichment classes to Colfax.

“In fact, the library had done a marketing survey in the past year, identifying the needs of baby boomer patrons.

“Between the dynamic duo of Jaclyn and Kristie, ACT 2 is now offering a lovely array of classes in Colfax, starting spring quarter. I’m signed up for a class on China, another on the cycle of fire and flood in the Palouse and its impact on local history, and a third class, co-taught by a Garfield, Wash., man and a man from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, on the Indian Wars of the 1850s. My husband is teaching one on how to play the ukulele.”

To find the ACT 2 schedule quickly, Google “ACT 2 and Institute for Extended Learning.”

DRINK, SMOKE, HOPE: “Yes, you drink too much and smoke too much, you have lost teeth without bothering to replace them, your diet does not conform to the precepts of contemporary nutritional wisdom, but if you shun most vegetables it is simply because you do not like them.

“You know that your wife worries about you, but mercifully, no X-ray has revealed any damage to your lungs, no blood test has revealed any devastation to your liver, and so you forge on with your vile habits.

“You sometimes think that if you were to cut these things out of your life at this late date, your body would simply fall apart, your system would cease to function.”

Paul Auster, 66, in his memoir “Winter Journal.”

THE WONDER OF GOOGLE: As I was working on this column last week, my cellphone rang. I didn’t recognize the number or the area code. I didn’t answer it, and no voicemail was left.

Later, I Googled the number – (347) 690-1882 – and a discussion popped up from people who had received calls from the number, too.

It’s a New York City telemarketer parading as an advocacy group.

Later in the week, another unknown call, this time from (702) 705-5291. Googled this number and discovered dozens of other folks who also received calls.

Some of the people who answered said the person on the other line asked for credit card information.

Even if you’ve registered your cell number on the National Do Not Call registry, mysterious junk calls like these get through. Next time, check it out on Google before calling back.

THIS WEEK, A SAMPLING: “Common Cents: Understanding Money & Credit.” The money management workshop will be Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., Salvation Army Kroc Center, 1756 W. Golf Course Road, Coeur d’Alene, (208) 667-1865.

Women’s Cancer Survivor Retreat, Friday through Sunday, St. Joseph’s Family Center, 1016 N. Superior St., (509) 483-6495.

For more events, go to