Sunday, May 4, 2014

Devin says good-bye!


Dear readers, this is my last earthbound broadcast, so to speak. With that said, there is more that I must put in after the fact, but I have greatly enjoyed the past few weeks of informing each of you as to the whereabouts of the Arizona Mathematics Road Show.

Starting out on a cold and wet morning Thursday we prepared to do the impossible. There is an old saying that the truest test of a mad man is getting him to park a school bus on the street in the Lower East Side (LES). Well, even if that's not a saying, it should be: today we were going to attempt to park the bus outside of the LES Girls Club. Now, the brief version of the history of the club is that New York has had plenty of Boys Clubs but never anywhere for a girl/young woman to go that offered the same benefits. So, pretty recently, several folks took careful note of this imbalance and decided to address it with dedication. The newly bought club features classrooms of an incredible variety: everything from workshops, to kitchens, and even a planetarium. I digress, the insides of the building are expansive, but it is rather small on the outside, so our parking became a fearsome obstacle. It took us two full circuits around the block in order to find somewhere long enough to park without getting a ticket. Length aside, we now had to worry about whether we would be blocking off an entire street. Our estimation was that traffic would still be able to make it through the gap, so we went off to spend our day in the city before the performance. Still, I think we took the last parking spot in Manhattan.

Our next stop was the Museum of Natural History. Why? As it so happens, another of my aunts works on the fifth floor in a section devoted to Biodiversity. She met us downstairs and then pulled back the curtains to show us the world that exists behind all the exhibits. I kid you not, there was a point at which she actually rolled back a whole wall to reveal a secret elevator for staff members. Wow, there was nowhere near enough time to explore the entire place. So, we cut our losses and walked back to the Club for our shows. What I would give to stay overnight in the museum though...

Back at the Girls Club of New York, we traded our demonstrations for their marvels. Of course I don't mean literally an exchange of materials, much more like cross pollination. We did two brief shows, and I thought both of them went extremely well. The second one was a performance for young women who are older than our usual audience, so I was delighted when the initial wall of cool crumbled and fell, leaving eyes bright with curiosity. We even had the chance to take a trip out to the edge of the galaxy and back before the end of the day via the planetarium!

After our busy day, we caught dinner with some of Shane's friends from Tucson and then returned to our roost in New Jersey.

On Friday we all split up to pound the streets of the city. My Dad was mostly interested in visiting sites of his old stomping grounds; I went down to the pier in Queens to visit a friend's performance space; Shane and his girlfriend went back to the Museum of Natural History to try to get a grasp on the tourist side of the institution. Later in the day, I met with my Dad at the Museum of Mathematics in what can only be described as a feat to telepathy: without any communication, after parting ways on the subway, we arrived within five minutes of each other at the museum. We looked around for a while, and then walked down to a party with some math folks he had known 30 years ago. The day sure filled itself up nicely.

The two of us caught a train back to the Jersey suburbs and pretty quickly found ourselves asleep in beds upstairs.

Saturday broke upon us, and we drove out to host a booth at a miniature STEM convention in Larchmont, NY. The whole event was happening at a middle school in the town, and apparently it was fairly large: something like 2000 people showed up for the gathering. We started at 1:00pm in this wonderfully spacious area. The whole five hours would have been nothing but an excellent send off for me if I had not been in the process of losing my voice. As such, I had to time my explanations around hovercraft launches. I won't forget to mention that we were joined by the people in charge of the illustrious Bio Bus! But, like anyone with a bus knows: if you have a bus, you will have engine trouble. This seems to be some sort of natural law. Anyway, they were not taken by surprise, and managed to bring several microscopes in a Subaru, and put on quite a show of force at the mini-convention. However, I was heartbroken, because I had been planning for some time that I would have the chance to duct-tape a harmonica to their front bumper, and now that opportunity must wait another 18 months.

We drove for the rest of the day, and presently arrived four minutes from my site of departure. Naturally, I write this all hours after the bus has left the parking lot of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, so this is my last broadcast, like I said before. Thank you all for following us on our journey, and please don't be too rough on Shane, because he is picking up where I left off.  

Tasty Bits:

We nearly sheared off the top of the bus going underneath a nine foot bridge on the way to the Taconic State Parkway. Some sort of misinformation.

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