It didn’t take long for the brutal weather conditions to start taking people down at Michael Lynn’s groundbreaking ceremony. Having lost his home in the Marshall Fire, what was supposed to be a joyous occasion turned into a life-threatening experience for all.
January 10, 2023. 3:30pm. It was extremely windy and cold. Those that showed up all had the looks on their faces of, “OMG. Can we survive this?” Assistant Dean Patrick Tally was the first to go down. Lying on the ground, several rushed to his aid, asking him if he was okay. He muttered almost incoherently, “That can’t count for GenEd. That can’t count for GenEd.”
The next to go down was CU Sociology Professor Leslie Irvine, Director of the Animals and Society Certificate Program, and author of My Dog Always Eats First: Homeless People and their Animals; Filling the Ark: Animal Welfare in Disasters; and If You Tame Me: Understanding our Connection with Animals. Professor Irvine also studied penguins under the great Morgan Freeman. Professor Irvine kept muttering, “Penguins. Penguins.” No one knew what she meant.
More people were collapsing from the wind and cold. The situation was deteriorating. Suddenly, as what can only be described as divine intervention, Professor Irvine sprung to her feet, wide awake, but somehow somewhere else. “Welcome to class everyone! Today’s lecture is on penguins. Listen, we have to act fast. In harsh conditions, penguins huddle together to help protect each other. The huddling is known as social thermoregulation, and penguins do it more often when temperatures plummet and winds get stronger. The most extreme examples of social thermoregulation are done by emperor penguins. Let’s move! Now!”
As if in a trance, Professor Irvine arranged the group in a circle with layers. The groundbreaking ceremony speeches continued, with the person in the center offering their thoughts and observations. Every five minutes, the professor let out a high-pitched sound (Penguinese), which was the signal for those on the outside to move in, and those on the inside to move out to the outer layers.
The ceremony continued for 30 minutes. Besides protection from the cold, many felt deeply and intimately connected with others in the huddle. Something beautiful and spiritual was taking place that no one could quite explain. This resulted in two people finding their future mates. After the ceremony, three people immediately drove to the Boulder Reservoir to dive and swim under icy waters. Several advisors now have no choice but to wear tuxedos every day when meeting with their students. And Professor Irvine plans to move to Antarctica after retirement to study Penguinese.
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