Read on only if particle physics and white-girl rapping seem like a good combination to you.
As you probably already know, the Large Hadron Collider has been up and running for a couple of months now and it's doing really awesome particle collisions. Lots people got all huffy about creating mini-black holes that would somehow destroy the earth. That part is not true. The only black hole on Earth is the one that swallowed our stuff. I have found that there is a lot of confusion and ignorance surrounding what makes up the most basic units of matter (which I suppose is only fair since physicists can't really agree on that either), but I was pleased to discover an amazing rap that was as educational as it was entertaining. But maybe only to big nerds like me. If you'd like to learn more about particle physics and the LHC, enjoy this video, the Large Hadron Rap (I saw it on the Universe Today blog).
1. South Florida in August is like Alaska in January. No one goes outside. Ever. 2.Get your affairs in order before hitting the road. As someone told us, this area is such a melting pot that people think they can transplant their own personal set of road rules as well. 3. Don't inspect mangrove trees too closely while kayaking. Kevin was out kayaking this afternoon and there were lots of signs that said "No Wake, Manatee Area." He thought to himself that it would be great if he could actually see one in the wild. Well, they were nearing the end of their kayak adventure, having seen nothing thus far, and he thought it would be cool to check out the mangrove trees to inspect for wildlife. Just as he was pulling up to one of the trees, he heard a loud growly/throat-clearing sound and then the water below his kayak exploded, sending a huge wake all the way across the channel. Needless to say he got to see his manatee (and somehow managed to stay on his kayak). 4. Zagat says Jaxson's has some of the best ice cream in the country. 100% true. We live around the corner. Come and visit anytime. 5. Plan extra time for all trips. As Kevin says, the signals are so long it's like every intersection is Fairview. 6. A slow boat to China might be faster than Genesis Van Lines. We are still waiting for the moving van with our stuff. I'm abstaining from more complaints, you've all heard me whine enough. 7. 83 degrees can seem really cool sometimes. That's where we keep our thermostat, and you wouldn't believe how cool that feels when you walk in from a stroll to the park and back. 8. Don't let your husband talk to the bishop before you do. He might rat you out as a musician, and you could find yourself introducing yourself to the Primary as the new chorister before you've even been in the building an hour on your first day. 9. Don't go windsurfing in a tropical storm. 10. It's not nice to blog about how your baby was the first to poop on Mars (or on a banner with Mars), but you may not be able to resist the temptation. If you're his future employer, college admissions officer or significant other, please disregard.
I don't want to be premature about this, but I think we have friends. The bishop at church invited over for dinner with him and his wife, and he invited another new couple, Tyler and Sarah, as well as Josh. It was really nice to spend the evening with nice people who knew our names. Also, the food was delicious. Stellan was a very busy boy, investigating the cupboards and trying to reprogram their DV-R. I'm glad we didn't spend our first Sunday in Florida alone.
So I know I promised a pictorial tour of the new place, but Kevin decided he didn't want to post that until we have our stuff and our home is all put together. So you don't see anything because we still don't have our stuff. That's right, no stuff. We have the contents of our 2 suitcases and what we already had in our car; some really nice people from church loaned us a Pack'n'Play, an air mattress and a few pillows, a frying pan and a spatula. We've made a few minor purchases of stuff we were planning on buying anyway, but our house is still basically empty. The update is that we won't have anything until Fay clears its little tropical storm self out of Florida completely and all the roads are un-flooded. We're hoping for early next week, but the trucking company isn't as optimistic as we are. I miss my bed. And my books. And my didgeridoo. And Stellan misses his big crib. And his toys. And his high chair. Kevin misses his DVDs. And his school stuff (he starts classes on Monday - sans backpack, sans notebooks, sans binder). And the couch. One the brighter side, we've taken advantage of our free time to do some sight seeing. We went to the Miami Seaquarium and got caught in a huge downpour en route, so we didn't see much of Miami but we did see a dolphin show. We also went to Boca Raton so Kevin could buy books at the main FAU campus, and we stopped by the Science Explorium, a small children's museum in Sugar Sand Park. And we've been watching lots of movies and TV shows online, because that's about all we have to entertain ourselves. We keep trying to go to the library, but the hours are very limited. Hopefully we get lucky today. Speaking of lucky, we've been lucky with Craig's List. We got a new wagon for Stellan literally minutes before we saw the dresser we needed sitting down the street for the next morning's bulk garbage pick-up, which worked out well because we needed to wagon to transport the dresser back up the street. We're also picking up the race car rug we wanted for Stellan's room tomorrow. All we need now is the toy bin we've had our eye on for all our Craig's List dreams to come true. So here are some photos for you to enjoy. We hope to have more and better things to report soon.
P.S. I published a few "catch-up" posts of our last days in SB, so feel free to scroll down and catch yourself up.
Stellan and I made it safely in to Fort Lauderdale today despite potential hurricane-related threats. We're here with Kevin, our luggage made it and Kevin's luggage arrived on Sunday morning (finally!). We just got our internet connection working, so life is good. We anxiously await our stuff, just as I know you anxiously await the photos of our new place, which I will post tomorrow.
OK, truthfully, it was Stellan's party. Tonight was another going away party, this one for friends from church. It was a little smaller in scope, which was awesome. It was nice to be able to really talk to everyone there. I tragically have no photos, because I forgot the diaper bag (which has the camera in it). I realized that I didn't have it when we were about halfway there, but since we were already about 20 minutes late to our own party (I stayed at work longer than I planned of course), I didn't go back for it. The good news is that the food was on time. And it was delicious!
Every year at the Museum I teach a summer astronomy class for members of the Museum's Quasars to Sea Stars teen program. (Some of you may already know that I started at the Museum 13 years ago as a "Quasar" myself.) At the end of the summer, it's time for final presentations. Most of the presentations are PowerPoints focusing on the research each student has done over the summer in her or his research area. This year's classes included archeology, ornithology and astronomy; in addition, members of our sister program at the SB Zoo gave presentations in their research areas. My class is always a little different. It's structured differently because it's not a research class. I'm not a research astronomer, I'm an educator. So I teach them astronomy, and then teach them how to teach it. And for their final presentation, I let them decide what they want to present and how they will present it. They always impress me with their creativity and enthusiasm, and when they leave the 4-year program, they consider it one of the most fun and worthwhile things they've done. This year's class did a great job, with a classroom presentation on particle physics and rocketry (not really directly related, but presented together for this instance), complete with a pretty impressive live webcast of a Diet Coke and Mentos fountainesque archway. There were also appearances by Galileo and Newton, who discussed their work with telescopes. The finale was "Dancing With the Stars," a spoof on the TV show but this time featuring real stars and planets dancing together. Here is why I love my class: as I wandered around through the day of final presentations, I saw many students nervously flipping through handout versions of their presentations, feverishly reviewing notes and waiting in crowded auditoriums for their talks to begin; when I walked into the big hall where my class was presenting, they were putting up decorations for "Dancing With the Stars" as they played some music and danced around themselves on the stage. They have so much fun with what they do that the audience can't help but have fun as well. Nice work, Astro Teens! I should also mention that Maria, one of the Quasars, put together a video of all the Quasars saying goodbye to me, and they played it at the end of the presentations. It was really nice, and I noticed I wasn't the only one crying. It's been great to be a part of such a wonderful program for so many years, and I couldn't have asked for a better last day of work.
The members of T.E.E.N. posing at the end of presentations
It's been a long time in coming, but Vivian, Vivianne and I finally got our three boys (that's Levi, Guillermo and Stellan) together for a pool party. All three had a good time, and the boys enjoyed themselves as well. Stellan was the biggest water fan and would have happily played all afternoon in the pool, but sadly for him we had to get out to enjoy a birthday barbecue in honor of Guillermo's first birthday. Darn.
I'm waiting for photo confirmation, but I just got off the phone with Kevin, who reports that the car shipping people went to where they left the car, it was still there and they have delivered it to where he is now. I heard him say, "I see it, I see it, I see it!"
So we still haven't found our car. But that's not all. The other moving company, the one with our stuff, won't be delivering our furniture/books/toys/musical instruments/dishes/all other worldly possessions until at least the 21st. According to Kevin, the conversation went like this (excerpted): Kevin: You said it would be there by the 16th. Stupid Movers: We said 5 - 10 business days. K: You picked up our stuff on Monday, August 4th. When we spoke on the 5th, you confirmed that it would take 5 - 10 business days. 10 business days later is the 16th. (Pause) SM: It didn't leave our warehouse until the 12th.
Awesome. But wait - there's more!
Kevin came prepared with a suitcase that could at least help him get through the next couple of days. Unfortunately, it never showed up in Florida. Apparently the SB airport didn't give him his luggage claim stubs, so the FL airport people just laughed when he tried to get some help.
We're not done yet.
He rented a car to go look for our car. The car moving company said that they left it in the last spot by the water meter of the two-story apartment building next to the green house. (Oh so specific. How 'bout an actual address next time? Or maybe we'll just leave our payment under the oak tree by the driveway of the yellow house.) He had no luck. So if our car was delivered anywhere in our neighborhood, it's officially gone now. I've been calling the police department every 12 hours to make sure it wasn't towed, but it hasn't shown up in any impound lots yet. So it's pretty much gone. In the car was the sleeping bag Kevin so wisely packed. Instead, he was looking at staying in our all-tile apartment with no water, no bed, no blanket, no pillow, no pajamas and literally nothing but the clothing on his back. So we talked him into getting a hotel room. At least they have beds and showers there, as well as toothbrushes, towels, chairs and continental breakfast. I'm done joking about the didgeridoo. I want my stuff back. And I want all my stuff back. You hear that, universe?
No, really, where's my car? It's gone. This super shady moving company supposedly delivered it to our address in Florida, but our landlady says it's not there. Hmm. Awesome. We've filed a police report, we got just a few more details from the movers saying they left it in front of our 2-story apartment building by the water meter. The only problem is that our place is a duplex. One story. No water meter by the parking. Awesome. It's probably somewhere in the neighborhood, but since Kevin won't be there until Thursday night, I guess we'll just have to hope that it doesn't actually get stolen before we find it at its fake home. If the shady company actually delivered it at all. This does not give us hope for all of the rest of our belongings, slated to arrive on Saturday. If we have to post something that says "Dude, where are all my worldly possessions?", heads will roll. I cannot imagine life without my didgeridoo.
Last night my coworkers (the ones in the Education division) planned a really fun picnic at Stow House, complete with live band and yummy dinner. We had a blast, especially Stellan; he loves the idea of the table space being down on the ground in front of him! It was nice to spend some time with my friends, they are a really dynamic and spectacular group of people. I'm going to miss them terribly, both professionally and personally.
So tonight after dinner, we were writing letters to Matt, like we do after every Sunday night dinner at the moms'. I stepped away from the living room to go to the bathroom and left Stellan playing happily in the living room. When I came back, I was planning on posting the last two entries you may have read on this very blog, but I couldn't find our camera/USB cable. So I scoured our room, looked in all the places it could have been, and then walked into the living room and said, "Has anyone seen the camera cable?" This led to a discussion (when and where did you last have it, could it have fallen out at ____, did you check in the _____, etc.) that lasted several minutes and involved everyone in the living room. Suddenly someone said, "Where's Stellan?" It was at that moment that we all realized that Stellan wasn't with someone else, since all the adults were all together, and that he was lost (to us). Of course panic set in (at least inside of me), but we all remained calm on the outside. We checked in the living room and the kitchen, we checked in the bedrooms and the bathrooms, we checked out on the deck, but he was nowhere. We made sure the barricade on the stairs down from the deck was in place, and that he wasn't on the stairs. We checked the backyard, and he wasn't there either. Then Kevin yelled from the deck, "I hear him." So we all ran to the deck and saw him down below. He had apparently crawled out the back door, down the steps on the side yard, opened the gate that we had all presumed he couldn't open and then headed to the next door neighbor's front yard, home of the much-coveted tetherball. Yep, happy as a clam, he seemed delighted to see us all gazing at him from up on the deck. So he's fine, and we've all learned a valuable lesson: don't go to the bathroom. Ever.
Close on the heels of the Museum's farewell extravaganza was the shin-dig the Santa Barbara Astronomical Unit had last night. The AU is a very dedicated group of volunteers who do astronomy outreach to thousands of people each year. They are partnered with the Museum and it has been my pleasure to work with them closely for the last few years. When I came into my current position, things were a little strained between the Museum and the AU, but we all worked hard to get the relationship to a better place. If last night was any indication, mission accomplished. We had a lovely dinner together (the food was great - thanks, Timma!), and then they presented me with a very impressive plaque and a lifetime membership to the AU, as well as an engraved green laser pointer. I was very touched, and got all misty again. (I think that's about to be the story of my life for the next 8 days.) If you haven't seen a green laser pointer in action, think of a light saber that points into space with a beam that extends several miles. Astronomers use them to point out stars and constellations, but the laser always impresses people more than the night sky. After that, I went to my last star party. Star parties are monthly public observations that also include hands-on demonstrations and activities. They are staffed by the AU, and they were out in full force to the 130+ visitors that came. Unlike the Museum staff, I had to actually say goodbye to all my AU friends at the end of the star party. It was hard. The chocolate cake from party helped.
Friday was the fiesta my coworkers threw for me (and Kev and Stellan), in honor of our imminent departure. It was also combined with the Krissie Cook Memorial Mission Canyon Table Tennis Tournament. They had all my favorite foods, including snow cones (w00t!) and it was nice that so many people came to say goodbye. Or not - I'm actually still there for another full work week. I got all misty when Karl presented me with a Museum membership that doesn't expire until 2015. That means I can visit anytime I'm in town, but I can also go to hundreds of other museums and science centers all over the world, including several in South Florida. I'm completely stoked, because I've been planning on using my existing membership until it runs out, and I was torn about renewing in SB or getting a new membership in FL. Problem solved! The tournament was great, Mike and Beatriz were the big winners. However, the best play of the afternoon was Javier and Easter. They were playing hard and fast, it was really impressive. I think that ping pong table is going to get some good use in the future. It's a good thing that I still have another week there, because I am not ready to say goodbye yet. I love my job and I love my coworkers, and it will be really hard to leave it all behind. I've been there over 13 years, and it's been such a huge part of my life that I really find it hard to imagine what my life will be like without the Museum.
Today we went to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Ty Warner Sea Center. (Yes, that's a mouthful. And yes, I have to say the whole title when I record the phone lines at the Museum and Sea Center.) We had an awesome time; it's possible that this is the most amazing place Levi has ever seen in his life. He was very excited to be there, and actually surpassed Stellan in decibels. They got to touch a shark, climb under a tidepool and play with puppets. What more could a toddler ask for?
However, the trip ended in near disaster when Levi removed his shoe somehow and it landed in the water off the side of the pier. Luckily, Kevin was able to fish it out with a long hook the harbor patrol keeps nearby. Good save, Kev!
So the last week was been lots of moving, plus lots of other stuff. We were really good (thanks to Kevin's planning and foresight) about getting an early start and pacing ourselves well, so we had time for all the pluses without stressing out too much. This post is dedicated to documenting the whole process. First, we did recruit helpers for the packing of our things. Maggie was chief among them and did most of the work in packing up our kitchen. What we do without her? Oh, I know - we would forget that the spice rack doesn't have a back panel and pull it off the wall, causing its contents to explode all over the counter. And that corner of the kitchen would reek of spilled peppermint extract for days as a form of punishment.
Last Friday night, we celebrated Stephie's birthday (and Steph and Kev's graduation - a belated celebration, long story) by having a party in the planetarium. Not just any party, but a video game party, where we projected two separate consoles onto the big dome. It was pretty sweet.
On Saturday, I took a break from packing to go to work. But we did get to spend the afternoon at the beach with the Spattersons. Some of you may recall Mikey and Patrick, two little boys I've been babysitting since Pat, the younger one, was about Stellan's age. Fun times!
We spent a good part of Sunday night helping Nick and Stephie get their stuff all packed. Yes, they moved out the same day we did. Good timing, huh?
We got up bright and early Monday morning to meet our movers, who loaded the 140+ boxes we had packed and waiting for them. Yep, a lot of stuff. Apparently about 5700 pounds - that's almost three tons! It only took about 2 1/2 hours to load everything, which was about as long as Stellan's nap lasted. Good timing. We took advantage of the hour between our movers leaving and Stephie's moving van arrival to enjoy lunch at Lake Los Carneros. Stellan loved it - maybe a little too much.
Kevin was part of the team that got Stephie and Nick's new (to them) California king sized bed out of its second story home and into the moving van. Sorry, no pics. Then we all went to the moms' to load their moving van. By then, we were all pretty tired of moving stuff. But we perservered and the truck got loaded. They didn't actually leave until the next morning, and we were there to wave them off as they began their new life together as their own little family. I miss them lots already. Since then, we've been camped out at the moms' with a suitcase each of stuff. I'm still at the Museum and we're just killing time until we head out. Kevin will leave on Thursday to meet the car, which we also shipped, and the stuff. Stellan and I leave on Monday the 18th, so we can stay for the Quasars' final presentations (my Quasar class has worked really hard and I wouldn't miss their presentation for the world) and one last Sunday dinner. But we're still managing to fill our last few days with pluses. Tonight we joined my dad and Maggie at the Penfield and Smith (my dad's company) kayaking/barbecue extravaganza. Most of us had to cut out early for various reasons, but we had a good time anyway.
You may have noticed a gap in my posts; I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on a field trip to Santa Cruz Island with the Museum's teen program. Actually, I went with the T.E.E.N. Program, which is the Teen Education and Employment Network; it is a joint youth program for teens at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and the Santa Barbara Zoo. The trip was excellent. The island is amazing, and we got to see all the really amazing parts that most people don't get to see. 76% of Santa Cruz is owned by the Nature Conservancy, so you can only get on their land by special permit. Naturally the Museum is privy to such permitting. We hikes, we toured, we had experts in a variety of fields interpret what we saw, heard, touched and smelled. Oh, and I was the astronomy expert - super stargazing! The teens were also great and it was fun to get to know the newer teens. They all pitched in to cook and to clean, and all of them spent some time teaching the rest of the group something they've learned in their classes this summer. My teens did an excellent job showing constellations, stars and deep sky objects to the group. I could go on and on about the staggering number of endemic species, the biodiversity and the unique ecosystems found on the island, but instead I'll just show you a few pretty pictures.
Last night we enjoyed one last round of The Farming Game before we pack up our games, before Stephie and Nick move away and before we are homeless and friendless. It was a pretty exciting game, with Stephie (who took over for Jerry when Levi made his bedtime needs known) as the victor. She barely beat Team Krevin (Kevin and me) - if only we hadn't been sent to the fourth week of February only halfway around the board that final time!