16 September 2010

Thanks again, Dad

I got to be teenager-y and blame my parents (specifically, my father, who provided my Irish genes) for my problems when I got diagnosed with Celiac Disease because CD is very common in Ireland and people of Irish descent.*

Well, fate has offered this opportunity again. I was told today that I have Rosacea **and, according to those strangers on Wikipedia, "It primarily affects Caucasians of mainly northwestern European descent and has been nicknamed the 'curse of the Celts' by some in Britain and Ireland.

*So far the only thing I've gotten from my mother's German genes are a somewhat "Achtung" approach to kitchen organization and a fondness for rules.

**And I was told this in the same way that I am told lots of medical information: as though it were something that the doctor has noted in my file long ago and assumed that I knew. What is up with that?

15 September 2010

USA Science & Engineering Festival

I've been asked to play Rachel Carson* at this festival, so I'm pretty excited about it.  Here (slightly edited by me) is the "please come to our festival and bring a future Dr. Sheldon Cooper with you" e-mail that I received today from the organizer via the director who recruited me.

*Actually, I was offered my choice of Rachel Carson; Sally Ride; or Rosalind Franklin. I look more like Dr. Ride than I do Ms. Carson, but, c'mon, Rachel Carson lived in Silver Spring.  It was a foregone conclusion that I would pick Carson.  And it gives me a more pressing reason to read Silent Spring and The Edge of the Sea than "Oh.  I should read those."  

Ever wanted to talk with a Nobel Laureate? Did you know red wine goes well with steak, but also has anti-aging properties? Want to uncover the mysteries of baseball's knuckleball? These and other intriguing questions are answered at the Inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival, the biggest celebration of science the World has ever seen!

Inspired by international science festivals that draw crowds in the hundreds of thousands, the goal is to increase our nation's awareness of science and inspire our nation's youth to consider science-related careers, while uniting our country and showcasing the amazing science and innovation taking place throughout the United States. The Festival descends on Washington, D.C. with events throughout the city for everyone, from the smallest child to the most established scientist; promising to be the ultimate multi-cultural, multi-generational, multi-disciplinary celebration of science in the United States.

Check out a video of the San Diego Science Festival (SM) at http://www.scivee.tv/node/12528

(SM) -- San Diego Science Festival is a registered California Service Mark of Science Spark

USA Science & Engineering Festival | c/o ScienceSpark | PO Box 2141 | Olivenhain | CA | 92024

So why have a Science Festival? Society gets what it celebrates! As a culture, we celebrate movie stars, rock stars and athletes and we generate a lot of them, but we don't celebrate science and engineering.

The Festival is analogous to an art, music or literary Festival but it is focused on Science and Engineering and accomplishes its mission via hands-on demonstrations, fun demos, and presentations including art, music, comedy, film and theater.

The Festival kicks off in just three weeks, offering over 150 FREE events for the public - all geared toward sparking an interest in Science.  Over 750 companies, universities, research labs, federal agencies, professional societies, community groups and science outreach organizations will participate.

You can find out all the details at:  http://www.usasciencefestival.org

The grand finale will be a two day EXPO on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  (and surrounding venues) on October 23-24, 2010--- over 1,500 fun, hands-on interactive activities and 75 stage shows for all ages. There will be stuff for the mildly curious to the science professional. You can learn about fun topics like the science of the magic of Harry Potter, the mathematics of jump roping, the physics of superheroes, the chemistry of Thanksgiving Dinner, the engineering of baseball bats and balls, the science behind special effects in movies, trends in Global Warming, renewable energy sources of the future .... (This is a completely non-profit, non-commercial, fun and educational initiative.)

You can operate state-of-the-art robots,  laugh with science comedians, be mesmerized by science magicians and mathemagicians, converse with astronauts, Nobel Laureates, science celebrities like Bill Nye the Science Guy and even scientists of the past, fly a fighter jet simulator, enter a virtual reality environment, be a CSI agent, make a virus out of marshmallows and toothpicks, try your hand at using a surgical robot, discover methods of measuring global warming, learn how to transform your car so it can run off a cuisinart etc.

And --- while having fun --- you can leave with information about science scholarships, internships, mentorship programs, jobs and much more.

Many, many thanks and best regards,
Larry Bock
Executive Director
USA Science & Engineering Festival

10 September 2010


People wanting to see my Boss:  "Is he in a good mood?"
Me:  "Yes."  [Beat] "You're not going to change that, are you?"

06 September 2010

"Hiking Maryland and Delaware"

Mom was an avid hiker and backpacker.  The energy, time, enthusiasm, and love that I put into theater, she put into being on trails, maintaining trails, and promoting enjoying the outdoors.  I've been saying for a while of our two obsessive hobbies, hers was the smarter because it meant that she spent beautiful days outdoors, while I spend them shut up in windowless rooms.

So I was very touched to run across this letter in Mom's first edition of Hiking Maryland and Virginia by David Lillard and Chris Reiter:
August 24, 2000

Ms. Ann Hall

Dear Ann,

Thank you so much for allowing Ed and me to use your library of trail resources in the research for "Hiking Maryland and Delaware." The books were a tremendous help to us. We were able to include in the book a combination of many hikes that had not before appeared in a single source.

I want you to know also how much I appreciate your dedication and service to the hiking community over these many years. I understand that you are not able these days to put in the kind of "sweat equity" that you once offered. I hope you will be heartened to know your kind assistance on this book is itself a wonderful service to hikers. It will help thousands of novice hikers discover the outdoors that you have so lovingly stewarded.

Enclosed is a copy of Hiking Maryland and Delaware, a small token of my appreciation for your help.

With sincere thanks,

/s/ David
David Lillard
AHS President 1994 - 2000

The first edition was dedicated to all of the people who have done trail maintenance and all of the other volunteering that keeps the trails available for anyone who wants to walk them.

It was the dedication in the second edition (2006) that made me cry. I don't cry very often, but this made me get the kind of teary where you can't talk for a couple of minutes, which was inconvenient because I was reading the dedication out loud to Mom, just so that she could hear it again.
For Ann Hall. When her legs failed her, she did her volunteer trail work from her bottom, sitting in the trail to cut brush, clear water bars, and tend the path. How she got herself so far into the woods no one can imagine. That's love.

And it's inscribed: Dear Ann, You have inspired more than you know. With appreciation, David

And David* and I used the second edition today planning our hike at Little Bennett Park.

Need a good book on hiking in Maryland and Delaware? I have one that I can recommend.

*my David, not Lillard