BOTHELL — It’s the way school should be for adults.
Knowledge served with beer and pizza.
It’s what’s on tap tonight at McMenamins Anderson School.
What’s up with that?
Pub Night Talks.
It’s a joint monthly event by McMenamins and the University of Washington Bothell on topics from ecotourism to the origins of the universe.
The talks are free. The eats aren’t.
There’s a full bar and menu. It’s open to all ages.
Tonight’s talk is full of dark wings. “Cacophony of Caws: The Crows of the Puget Sound” will be led by UW Bothell Professor Doug Wacker.
Thousands of cawing crows nightly descend for a communal roost on the North Creek Wetlands near UW Bothell.
Ever wondered why the crows make this nightly journey? (Uh, no.) And what they do once they arrive? (Never.)
How about where crows congregate to have a cold one? (The Crow Bar … That was a joke.)
Well, now you must be curious about the secret lives of our local crows.
After the talk, there is a Q & A. Or you can see “The Incredibles 2” at the movie theater inside the downtown Bothell venue or swim in the pool at what was once Anderson School, built in 1931, where generations of students learned to read and write. It’s one of a dozen McMenamins in Washington and Oregon. The company, which turns aging institutions into resorts with guestrooms, breweries and restaurants, even has historians on staff.
Tim Hills, McMenamins historian, started the talks at Kennedy School in Portland on a whim.
“I’m a history nerd and I figured some of my other history nerd friends would come,” Hills said. “The original history talk was in a pretty small meeting room and after the first program we had to move it because so many people came.”
Most venues focus on history, but the Bothell locale offered a chance to expand the scope by tapping into the university’s brain pool of academia. From the pub to the school it’s about a mile, as the crow flies.
Marie Blakey, UW Bothell assistant vice chancellor for marketing and communications, rounds up faculty and other local experts on a mix of topics.
“A lot from the local community come every time. They don’t even care what the topic is,” Blakey said.
The most popular talk drew close to 200 people: “We had a professor who actually played the sounds of two black holes colliding. We had her play it like three times.”
Pairing beer with knowledge hits the spot with Herald beer expert Aaron Swaney.
“I’m not sure about everyone else, but I feel like I get smarter the more beers I drink,” Swaney said. “Having a beer with others is inherently social, so adding in some people who actually know what they’re talking about seems like a good idea to me.”
There is no reserved seating. So if you’re one of those people who likes to sit in the front row of the class, you better arrive early.
Crows mate for life.
Crows have dozens of distinct calls, with multiple variations in pitch and volume. It’s clear (to them, at least) whether they’re scolding a predator or begging for food.
Proportionally, the brains of some crows are bigger than ours. Relative to its body size, it accounts for 2.7 percent of the bird’s overall weight. By comparison, an adult human’s 3-pound brain represents 1.9 percent of their body weight.
As Kevin J. McGowan, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, put it on his website: Crows are “smarter than many undergraduates, but probably not as smart as ravens.”
Here’s a crow joke from Herald assistant news editor Rikki King:
How do you tell a crow from a raven?
A crow has one less pinion, a sort of wing joint, than a raven. Some people say that’s the difference between them. Other people say it’s just a matter of opinion.
If you go
The talks are held the last Tuesday of each month, except December. Doors open at 6 p.m., with talks from 7 to 8:30 at Haynes’ Hall at McMenamins Anderson School, 18607 Bothell Way NE, Bothell. More at www.uwb.edu/advancement/speakers.
July 31: R. Gregory Nokes, author, on the gang of horse thieves that murdered as many as 34 Chinese gold miners in Hells Canyon, Oregon, in 1887
Aug. 28: Judy Rantz Willman, on the book about her 1936 Olympic Gold medalist father, “The Boys in the Boat”
Sept. 25: Amy Lambert, UW Bothell professor, on species-level conservation biology, specifically the Island Marble butterfly
Oct. 30: Cynthia Chang, UW Bothell professor, on plant ecology, including Mount St. Helens restoration
Nov. 27: Amaranth Borsuk, UW Bothell professor, on the history and future of printed books