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Messages in Bottles, Hair Art, Externships

The Morning Show
  • Jul 14, 2014
  • 01:43:53
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FINDING A MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE “I always dreamed of finding a message in a bottle,” says Salt Lake City resident Clint Buffington, admitting he spent “many fruitless years looking for bottles on vacation, thinking it was impossible.” “Then one day it happened for me and once it did, I just figured it out,” says Buffington. He and his family have now found some 60 bottles with messages inside. “A lot of people see trash some of this stuff as trash, but I consider it something of value.”  The secret to finding a bottle?  “Walk a lot while on a beach vacation. Walking really long distances on remote beaches is how it happens.  You’re not taking in the scenery, your eyes are on the ground.” Finding the bottle isn’t enough for Buffington. He wants to receive the message, which is no easy task when the paper inside the bottle resembles a wadded up like a wet spit wad. “There’s a big forensic piece to what I do,” he says.  And then he reaches out to the sender: “ I worry sometimes I’m being intrusive. But generally people have made the initial gesture of reaching out with this message.” Who sends a message in a bottle?  Romantic people.  One of the first Buffington found was a wedding anniversary commemoration sent by Carole and Ed Meyers from a resort in Duck, North Carolina. It was in a wine bottle and included a piece of their wedding cake.  “When I opened the bottle there were chunks of black stuff – I was a little bit worried, but it turned out to be their wedding cake,” laughs Buffington.  (Photo: Clint shows Marcus and the team a few of the bottles he has found.) It took him over a year to find Ed and Carol. Since finding the bottle, Buffington has become a friend. He’s taken a cross-country train to visit them twice.  Follow Clint Buffington’s hobby/obsession on his blog:  www.messageinabottlehunter.wordpress.com. HAIR IS ART The knick-knacks lining the shelves of Marlys Fladeland’s log cabin home seem innocuous at first glance.  Move closer and you realize they’re all made of hair.   Her favorite piece is a bonnet made of human hair. “It’s intricate, tedious work,” says Fladeland.  “This used to be called parlor art.”  She has hair pins, wall hangings, rings and necklaces . . . even a wreath woven from the hair of every member of their family, including their horses. “We call it ‘hairlooms,’” says Fladeland.  “When you find a piece with a name on it and a history behind it, that makes these much more valuable.”  She also operates an online marketplace for buying and selling human hair, to make wigs and art.  A single, high-quality pony tail can sell for thousands of dollars.   “It’s not something that I think is gross in anyway,” says Fladeland. “In the beginning, a lock of hair was given out of love for one another. It’s a part of who you are – it’s you. Even today, funeral directors will be asked to clip hair prior to the funeral and family members will have something specially made of the lock. I think it’s just a beautiful thing.” Today we’re more likely to send a text or snap a selfie to show someone we’re thinking of them. If you lived in the Victorian age, you’d have sent the same message with a handwritten letter and a lock of hair. MARKETING THE BYPRODUCT OF BYU’S CREATIVE PROFESSORS “We’re dealing with developers around campus who want to do something a little extra in their teaching methodologies and come up with creative ideas to reach their students,” says Giovanni Tata, director of the BYU Office of Creative Works.  BYU is very prolific in developing multi-media methodologies for instruction. Tata’s office licenses and markets those products to the broader community.  A lot are just niche projects that only bring in a couple thousand dollars. But once in a while a really novel idea strikes and can raise millions, says Tata. For example, a  BYU chemistry professor developed a “virtual lab” that other universities became very interested in.  You can move the chemicals and pour them and see the results in a visual way, including explosions when the experiment goes awry, explains Tata.  It’s a far more cost-effective way to give lab experience to introductory chemistry students.  Licensing and publishing revenues from the virtual lab have since reached two million dollars, says Tata.  Other innovations being licensed through BYU’s Office of Creative Works include an digital tutor for organ students and a series of “Culturegrams” for travelers and people studying other countries and cultures.   “Culturegrams is the most successful program in the Office of Creative Works,” says Tata. “Last year it brought in $250,000 in revenues.” SPORTS NATION TAKES ON WORLD CUP Germany beat Argentina 1-0 to win the 2014 World Cup.  “Argentina played a good game  - they had way more opportunities than expected,” says Jarom Jordan, co-host of BYU Sports Nation. “Plus Argentina had Messi – the best player in the world. But soccer is interesting you can be the best player in the world and still get shut down.” “Germany is a machine,” says BYU Sports Nation co-host Spencer Linton. “They don’t make mistakes. You have to beat them – they don’t give you a win.”  EXTERNSHIPS AND LAW GRADS Jim Backman is BYU’s longest-serving law school faculty member.  “I was honored to be invited as a 30-something to join the prestigious team Rex Lee was building,” says Backman of his hiring in 1974.  Years later, the law school administration became intent on helping students be more involved in the community.  Backman proposed an “externship program” and became its founding director in 1992. Since then, virtually every first year student of the J. Reuben Clark Law School does an externship during the summer.   American Bar Association rules prohibit students from being paid for work while simultaneously receiving law school credit, so BYU’s externship program offers only credit for the experience students receive.  But while many law schools charge full tuition for that externship credit, BYU charges only a $20 administrative fee for students to take a test that will give them credit for their externship, says Backman.  The most sought-after externships are with Utah Supreme Court justices or with international legal offices for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, says Backman.  “It’s a very heady experience for law students to get out there and realize they have the learned the tools and can handle any assignment they’re given,” says Backman. “Their confidence builds in the course of just a few weeks of the externship.” The real-world experience during an externship also helps students decide which area of the law they want to focus on.  And it contributes to BYU’s high job placement figures. In 2013, 84 percent of BYU law grads landed a full-time, long-term position that required passage of the bar exam, compared to the national figure of 56 percent.   “We make it very clear with employers of the externship program that there is no expectation for employment,” says Backman.  “But when students start interviewing for jobs, they say the interviewer always zeroes in on their externship experience.” As Backman prepares to retire from the law school at the end of the summer, he’s taken on a fitting project: creating retrospective yearbooks for classes celebrating their 20th, 25th, 30th and 35th reunions.  “When President Dallin H. Oaks was founding the law school he often talked about how the ‘purpose of the law school would unfold with time,’” says Backman. “In doing these yearbooks, it’s clear to me that the lives of our graduates demonstrate the purpose of the law school. It’s remarkable to see what they’ve done in business and in their families and communities.” Show More...

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