Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Bus Stripped Bare

For most of the journey the bus has been a in various states of disarray from "where is the, oh there it is" to "I've been through the bus three times and still can't find it." Much of this disorganization came from the fact that none of us on the bus are particularly organized, but some came from external sources. All the oil we started with forced us to stow personal items and living quarters supplies in non-optimal places. As we used the buckets of oil and disposed of them, we regularly shuffled items around to improve our comfort and ease of use. As more buckets disappeared everything else seemed to expand. Demonstrations that came out less often didn't always get packed away as efficiently as they were the first time. We were invited into homes and upon leaving, didn't pack away things as nicely. Then there was the oil. Transferring oil is never a totally clean operation. Oil is sticky and clings to the pump, to the buckets; every so often a little bit spills. This mixes the grime that accumulates from getting in and out of the bus. The large demonstrations on the floor of the bus also made hard to clean it up. The bus was messy and dirty. Then Erik said he wanted people to go through the bus.

Before all that, we went to the Sciencenter. The Sciencenter is a science exploration museum with displays and interactive exercises to explore different phenomena. The staff was great and super helpful. I, however, nearly created a disaster. The room was a mini amphitheater with a tiny stage. We placed our prop table on the edge of the stage. We were down in the aisle of the first row. I tried to climb up to grab a prop behind the table. The whole table slid, and I nearly took a tumble. I can't figure out what I was thinking. When I set up the table, I could feel it slide, and I knew it wasn't stable. The rest of the day was quite busy.

Eric was throwing a kick-off information event for a new Physics Factory project. As part of the information session, he asked Bruce and I to put on a show and let people in the bus. This meant the bus badly needed to be organized. The bus was relatively clean, but personal items were scattered about, and it was kind of messy -- we had been on the road for over a month. The event was held at Ithaca Generator. In order to clean up the bus, we decided to pull every demonstration off. This one night had more demonstrations ready to go that I have ever seen and Bruce can recall. We had a few demonstrations that we still hadn't used on this trip. They either took too much time or too much space, but today was the day everything came out. In addition to the regular floor show, we had the large harmonograph, the siphon race, the Coriolis machine, the coupled pendulum and dodecahedron all set up. We took up a lot of space in the parking lot, and the bus looked so spacious. The night was a little chaotic because all these demonstrations were out, and for a while I was the only facilitator. Even with Bruce around, there was always someone trying something a little unsafe. Normally, I think of this behavior as juvenile, because kids are used to things designed not to hurt them and tend to play hard until someone gets hurt, but this time I was heading off adults from irresponsible behavior far more often than children. It highlighted the importance of  facilitation for demonstrations and field testing to see how people can abuse and misuse them. Lessons learned, and no one got hurt, so the event went great.

May 11th

Happy Mother's day. Before heading out of town, we had Eric fiddle with the ignition, and lo and behold, he was able to reinstate two features. The backup beep works again (maybe for the first time in years), and the bus starts up much more easily. We are off to Pittsburgh.


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