Illusions and Reality

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” -Albert Einstein

SACNAS and Dallas 18 October 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — martieinstein @ 8:10 am

I am catching up on being behind in my blog posts.  In the middle of October I attended the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native

Street Sculpture in Dallas

Americans in Science (SACNAS) Conference that was held in Dallas.  It was a very different conference from any that I have ever attended.  My previous experience with conferences has all been education/teacher conferences, never science conferences.  From conversations with other attendees I gather that it is fairly unique for a science conference.   There was a real feeling of collaboration and a desire to help students advance in the field of science.  There did not seem to be as much of the competitiveness present, at least on the surface, that I have seen with other gatherings of scientists from academia.

The “Darwin at the Poles” sessions were very interesting.  I learned more about polar science, especially polar biology.  The “cold-start hypothesis” for the origins of life was brand new for me, but extremely intriguing.  I especially enjoyed Dirk Schulze-Makuch’s talk about the theory of non-water based life forms.  It was fascinating to contemplate a life system so radically different from anything that we have experience with.

The session focusing on indigenous knowledge as it relates to climate change and food supply really brought back my experiences with the Pueblo during my NEH Institute.  I was once again struck by the deep, innate sense of community that is a cultural characteristic of the Pueblo people.  Respect for that knowledge and way of life may indeed hold one of the keys for a successful adaptation to a changing climate.

The Grassy Knoll at Dealy Plaza

Beyond the conference sessions, I also got a chance to walk down to Dealy Plaza, where President Kennedy was shot and visited the Sixth Floor Museum at the Texas School Book Depository.  It was a little eerie, because the street looks exactly like it does in all of the pictures and news footage that I have seen from the Kennedy Assassination.  I also walked around the neighborhood of my hotel a little bit since it is in the Arts District and there are some nice sculptures nearby.


Click here for more pictures from Dallas.


Turkish Festival, Library of Congress, and More 14 October 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — martieinstein @ 6:55 pm

I really need to get better about updating my blog…it’s been too long since the last time I wrote.  Lots of things have been happening the last couple of weeks.  On Sunday, October 4th I went to the Turkish Festival at Freedom Plaza in DC.  It was a lot of fun.  The day was beautiful and

Dancer at the Turkish Festival

Dancer at the Turkish Festival

sunny.  I started the morning with some Turkish coffee and wandered around looking at the things that different merchants had for sale.  I bought a bag and small dish for myself as well as a present for Abby and Barb.  I also got a lot of information from Turkish Airlines for a future trip to Turkey…who knows…I would like to go to Turkey someday. JThen I got some lunch…a kofte sandwich…and settled in to watch some Turkish folk dancing from several groups.  The Blue Star Dance Company was by far my favorite – they did several very different dances, all of which were fantastic.

Last weekend I went back to North Carolina for the long (Columbus Day) weekend.  We got up early on Saturday morning and drove to Greensboro via Elkin, where Mom met Dad and me.  They went back to Boone and I went onto Greensboro.  Saturday evening was Abby & Barb’s sunroom warming/3rd anniversary/Barb’s birthday party.  I had a great time and got to see lots of people.  I spent that night at Abby and Barb’s house and then had to drag myself away from the totally amazing sunroom to drive up to Boone on Sunday morning.  I spent Sunday in Boone visiting family and then left Monday morning to drive back to Arlington.  I had a great weekend, but I did feel like I spent a lot of the weekend in the car. J

Great Hall of the Library of Congress

Great Hall of the Library of Congress

We have also had our Fellows’ Day at the Library of Congress.   It was an amazing day.  We started out with a tour of the Great Hall, which is incredibly beautiful and impressive.  We got to peek into the main reading room as well…I definitely have to go do some reading there.  After our tour we went up to the Science Division, where we were welcomed by Connie Carter who is the head of the Science Reference section.  She was absolutely delightful and full of interesting stories from her life.  We had presentations on the sorts of materials that are available at the Library of Congress both in person as well as online.  Then we had a late lunch and went downstairs to get our official Library of Congress Reader’s Card J, which allows us to come and do research at the library. After leaving the Library I went to deliver my official letters of introduction to my congressional delegation.

As for work, things continue to be totally great.  I have continued to attend seminar talks on all sorts of subjects that are of interest.  With two other Fellows I presented a talk on Teaching Climate Change in K-12 schools to the informal Climate Change Education group at NSF.  People were very interested in our topic and we got lots of great feedback from our audience.  The Fellows also had a lunch meeting with Kent Hughes, the director of the Program on America and the Global Economy(PAGE) at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.  This was the first in series of meetings that we will have with him throughout the year to share our thoughts on STEM education.  I am leaving tomorrow to go to Dallas for the SACNAS conference.

Click here for more pictures from the Turkish Festival and the Library of Congress.


National Book Festival 1 October 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — martieinstein @ 8:04 pm
National Book Festival - 26 September 2009

National Book Festival - 26 September 2009

I am way behind in updating my blog and there have been lots of fun things happening lately.  Last Saturday, I got the chance to go to the National Book Festival on the Mall, where I had a really wonderful time even though the afternoon got a bit damp.  I got to see several authors whose work I have enjoyed including, Julia Glass, Jodi Picoult, Sue Monk Kidd, and Jeanette Walls.  However, by far my favorite was Azar Nafisi.  I have read her book, Reading Lolita in Tehran and really enjoyed it, but her talk was so

Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi

passionate and inspiring.  It isn’t posted on the festival website yet, but it will be and everyone should watch it.  I also heard a fantastic poet named Patricia Smith.

After the rainy day, I joined two other Fellows for dinner at a great little restaurant, Teaism.  After dinner we met two more Fellows to enjoy the play Black Pearl Sings! at Ford’s Theatre….yep that Ford’s Theatre.  We had great seats and it is a beautiful venue.  The play was also fantastic!!

Presidential Box at Fords Theatre

Presidential Box at Ford's Theatre