Sunday, August 21, 2011

The danger of reading a good book

So I returned from vacation and didn't write anything.  The reason is simple.  Anathem. I started reading Anathem before I left CA, and I wrote how it was kind of hard to get into.  But then I got into it.  It's amazing.  And its 1000 pages that I had exactly 14 days to read (or so I thought).  Anathem was not just some brain candy action scifi book.  I enjoy those.  Adventure and new encounters with strange situations that include interesting worlds.  Plucky heros and heroins outsmarting the bad "guys".  Of course these thing are part of Anathem, but there is a lot more to it.  There were parts to it that made me slow down and think about philosophy and math.  There were detailed descriptions that clearly the author had worked hard to create something physically realistic and interesting.  It was  a book that made you slow down to read it, and made you think you were exercising an academic part of your brain.  I still read it too fast- after all, I had other things to do, and the electronic copy was due to EXPIRE.  It seemed that as long as I kept the file open it didn't expire, but I was not able to check on when it should expire, so I'm not sure if I got some extra time out of it or not.

The book is certainly worth a reread (in PAPER copy).  I don't know if I missed a plot point or really one last thing was never resolved.  However, most of it was, enough that the ending was satisfying.  In any case the book has my resounding recommendation if you are a little bit geeky and like the science fiction part of the science fiction/fantasy genre.

And now I can get back to working on my projects.  Good books are dangerous and get in the way of doing other important things (for me). Not to say I have COMPLETELY neglected other things.  In fact, Friday night and Saturday morning I was making hoop gliders with kids.  I haven't done a ton of outreach activities- that is, I've done some, but I always feel slightly inexperienced if I am in charge, and don't necessarily look forward to it all the time.  I usually see it as something that should be done, something I can do, and something I'm reasonably competent at.  I think I've changed my mind finally.  I really ENJOYED my time with the kids on this, and I felt very energized and inspired afterwards.  I look forward to the next activity.

I think I just feel more competent now.  I also really enjoy watching the kids be little scientists.  They find ways to improvise and try new things that I just find so inspiring.  Its not the same as when teachers talk about how they like the Aha moment when a student figures something out.  Here its the moment when I see a kid being creative, trying to go about something in a different way than perhaps I had expected or explained.  To me, that is the interesting and inspiring moment. Its the moment that says this kid has curiosity, an open mind, initiative, and creativity, and I am encouraging these things by bringing in some materials, some constraints, some possibilities that they take run with.

Oh, and we are not getting a space for science play this fall because... the money really exists better in the spring and at the same time, we really need more publicity, fundraising, organization building first (have to change the grant a bit for this).  I feel that after a space exists all our time will go into running it rather than those other things we need to do.  Of course now I had to do all those organizational things I've been neglecting- and feel less competent with.  There is always time to grow.

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