Friday, August 15, 2014

Fired Up

CENTERED: This afternoon, we had an appointment at the Pacific Science Center, as part of our on-going participation in a focus group to give them feedback on one of their rotating exhibits. 

We left home plenty early, so that we had lots of time to look around before our appointment. However, as soon as I hit 15th Ave (the main north south arterial between us an Seattle Center), I knew something was up. Traffic was capital T Terrible.

I started to notice lots of NO PARKING signs in lots we pass by all the time, where they are usually welcoming of people entering. After about two blocks of gridlock, it hit me: Hempfest (a festival celebrating 'cannabis culture.' Oh noooooo. That means the worst weekend of traffic of the year for our 'hood.

So not only was traffic terrible, parking was a zoo. We wound up doubling back and parking north of the Center, in just a 2-hour spot (because Hempfesters need more than two hours to get their buzz on).  That meant we'd basically need to run the five blocks back to the car after our appointment in order not to get a parking ticket. 

The Center was crawling with people today. There was a tattoo expo on the grounds, a concert at the mural event, throngs of tourists, and Annabelle spied our second "Pianos in the Parks" encounter.
There were also many buskers on the Center grounds today. We stopped for about 5 minutes to watch a gentleman who said he was from Mexico City perform a couple of magic tricks. He had a good shtick - more funny than magical. ;)
Afterward, we headed to the white arches of PacSci. Upon checking in, I noted a live science show was set to start in 15 minutes. Sweet! We always love those. We hustled right over to the stage, and the kids got front row seats (a good thing, because every seat was full and standing room only people were 10 deep by the time the show started). 
The theme of the show was combustion, so it was basically a half hour of the entertainer/teacher lighting thing son fire and blowing stuff up, which the audience loved, naturally.

Show host Chris started small.
But his combustions got bigger ...
and bigger ...
and bigger!
By the way, the crowd is chanting "fuel,heat, and oxygen," three things needed for combustion, as a countdown instead of 3-2-1, because this was about education and science. :) 

After the show, we ran over the the meeting place with the PacSci person, the Studio, which is part of their larger Wellbody exhibit.

Right now, the rotating exhibit is about stem cells. There were a number of interactive games/quizzes, videos, some static displays and there was a science center staffer there manning a table with a 'game' about cells gone wrong. 

The videos we watched featured information about Seattle labs involved in stem cell research, including the Chuck Murry Lab at the University of Washington, which works with heart stem cells and hopes to treat cardiovascular disease in people, and the Colleen Delaney Lab at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center uses donated umbilical cord blood to cure leukemia.

We also learned about a private Seattle lab (Nortis) based on the UW campus where scientists are creating a "kidney on a chip," which is a model kidney for use in drug testing. 
FAIR MINDED:  This morning, the kids and I spent a couple of hours stuffing envelopes with tickets for the Washington State Fair.  For the past four years I've volunteered to take orders for a homeschool group for free admission tickets under the fair's awesome educational program.  The fair runs, and just last yesterday p.m., we received the packet representing a whole lot of fun for a whole lot of families.
The kids were helpful in processing the orders.
To say this ticket order taking and distributing is a bit of a chore would be an understatement. Every year, I tell myself it's going to be the last, and this year, when I put out the notice to the group (via email), after giving people very clear instructions about how to order tickets, I actually included a rambling section called THE RANT:  Here it is. 
THE RANT First, let me preface this by saying a big 'Thank you!' to all the lovely folks who follow the rules as outlined (above).  This rant (below) is not meant for you and you can (and should!) stop reading here.  ...
That said, now the rant.  I have been handling the*** fair tickets for a few years now and very nearly decided not to do so this year because it has become an increasingly unpleasant task, which I found surprising, because it's really very simple - the program is only for your own homeschooled student(s) age 6-18, and one adult educator per household. Easy! However, each year I've headed this up, there has been an increasing number of people requesting tickets for children other than their own students, people sending me a self addressed stamped envelope to be stuffed with tickets they never actually bothered to order, people requesting multiple adult educator tickets, people requesting tickets and then not sending me a SASE, people forwarding this ticket notice to other groups' (schools, parents, etc.) email lists, people deciding not to personally use the tickets and then offering them to friends/neighbors/anyone (the fair considers that fraud). ... Unfortunately, I could go on, but I'll stop here.  Needless to say, all of the various  'irregularities' put me in an unpleasant situation.   
Sorry for the long-winded and rather cranky rant, it's just that I felt compelled to share the info in hopes that everyone will read and follow the rules this go-round so that we can keep this great opportunity open to the *** community.
The good news is, the rant prompted lots of nice thank you notes from people - but these are the people who always follow the rules, anyway!  The bad news is, this year there are more people than ever who are making it unpleasant. For example, they send me an envelope with just their initials or first name on it. Really?! There are like 100 people ordering tickets, so then I have to spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out who is whom. Or the last name on their envelope flat doesn't match the last name they gave me in the email, and I have to figure out whom they are by process of elimination.   And for every person (and there are MANY) who didn't bother to send me an envelope in the two plus months they've had to do it, I have to hunt down their email address and write them individual emails. Did they think I was going to hand deliver them? Mail them at my expense (if I even had their address)?  I mean, a full 20 percent of people requesting tickets didn't bother to send a self addressed, stamped envelope. That's all they have to do to get free tickets. But apparently it's too much ... Sigh.

The good news is, by the time we actually go to the fair in a couple of weeks, this whole needlessly annoying process will just be a bad memory. And the fact that it's only once a year, makes it just barely long enough for me to forget each year how unpleasant this process/project is.

As a happy aside, we did get to see a lot of neat stamps. Every year I save them for one of the group members who collects canceled stamps. 

PRACTICE SESSION: A brief snipped of CJ getting his McCartney on this morning. 

WE LEAVE YOU WITH THIS:  Forty five years ago today, Jimi Hendrix played Woodstock. I had the kids listen to his watershed version of the Star Spangled Banner. I suggested they try to sing along, ha ha. 
Of course, we had to watch and listen to his performance of "Purple Haze" at Woodstock
The kids' favorite Hendrix song is "Let Me Stand (Next to your Fire)," since they play it after every Mariners' home win. :)
We *still* need to go tour Seattle's Garfield High School, where Jimi once walked the halls as a student. 

1 comment:

  1. 20% strikes me as a lot of people who either a) don't get it, or b) think the rules don't apply to them. Especially in the population you're targeting.