Thursday, July 13, 2017

North American Update #4

July 13th, 2017

well, my year adventure in the states is coming to a close and for those who do not know, i am off to teach internationally again....this time in panama!!! at the International School of Panama - ISP -  (to watch a fly-over of the campus - check out this link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4aL31-S02U)....i fly in less than a week and am very excited about this new chapter.....but first a bit about the chapter that is closing.....

what a year here in the states....it was been a gift to be able to spend time with family and friends here in pennsylvania and i am forever grateful that i had this time, especially with my parents....has it been challenging...of course, but would i trade it for something else....no way!!!! i have once again learned a lot about myself and where i am from....and have realized it is a difficult task to go home, as things are never as they were....but some things are better and some are not, and that is a good thing to know....

i have enjoyed my time here in the states and am extremely happy to have taken advantage of the live music, theater and art here, as the diversity you can find in the states is not found all over the world.....i would also say, living in the states is "easy"for someone like me....expensive, but easy...conveniences around every corner and customer service really is not like in other countries i have lived in.....living here this past year has given me insight and has made me realize that it is a wonderful place.....although, i have also realized i do not fit in as well as i once did, and i am not sure i ever will again.....things are many times too easy, and people really do have "first world" problems....i understand that it is not like this for everyone in all places of the states and that i lead a privileged life, but i have been surprised with the amount of stuff people have and how many are in search of bigger, better, faster....i can't afford that, nor do i want to live like that....but again, it has been a privilege to live here again with my parents and experience a wonderful life in the states....but i know it is time for me to move on and do what i gotta do in the world..... 

so enough of the deep thought stuff......on with the pictures of the fun stuff i have been doing since last february....many things have come and gone and a bunch of things have changed for my family....but overall it has been a terrific ride and for that i am grateful :) bring on the pictures.....


much of my life has revolved around working for science explorers....a relationship i started over 14 years ago....it is an amazing company that does hands-on science for elementary school aged kids....and it is fun!!! this picture is of some of the most important folks of that company....and the two women on the left helped save my life this year......so if you don't know anything about this company....look them up and if you are looking to donate money to a good cause....look them up!!! it is a grass-roots, woman-owned company of science!!!!!! go science explorers, go!!!!


the team you see here is part of the non-profit group of science explorers known as sparks.....i got to travel and teach with these intelligent, beer-drinkin', family-lovin', crazy women all over pennsylvania, new jersey and to tulsa, ok....the sky-line you see in the background is tulsa....what an interesting place.....they work in classrooms with kids and teachers, bringing hands-on science to schools in need.....again, think about donating and helping kids get the science they both deserve and need here in the states!!!!
 

as i stated above, one of the best things about living in the states is getting to see theater, live music, art and dance....which i really tried to take advantage of and be diversified in what i chose to see, as there are so many options....this play was one of my favorite experiences....what an incredible stage and the lead actor was simply brilliant....if you have not read this book or have not seen this show and are interested in how someone with autism may react to the world around them and how they see the world (at least from this one person's perspective), i highly recommend it!!!! mind-blowing to say the least....both in written form and production form!
 

another top show i got to see was brain candy with adam savage from myth busters and michael stevens from the youtube channel vsauce.....both of which i use in my science classes to help explain all manners of concepts....these two gentlemen were funny and really had a blast on the stage during their show....it was all about air pressure....and they would discuss a concept and then do a hands-on demonstration that would get bigger and bigger about the concept they were presenting....a science show at its best......it was amazing!!!!


while here in the states i also checked out some history right here in philly and took a friend to the liberty bell and independence hall....i hadn't been there in a long time....so it was good to remember the history of how our country was started....especially during this wild and crazy political time of our current day.....i will not go down this path, but it has been surprising year to me.....let's just leave it at that.....if you wish to ask for more discourse, i would ask that you send me a note....thanks :)
 

the other amazing & historical thing i got to do was visit my friend sean at NASA, goddard.....why was it so historical???? well, i got to see and experience up close the james webb telescope...it was incredible to see it this close....what you see behind us is the main part of the scope, that will hold the dish used to catch the information being sent its way....this will be a space telescope, meaning it will not be on the earth.....there are soooooooo many things that needed to be tested to make sure it could withstand all of the issues of being operated in space and especially at the distance it will be from earth.....nearly one million miles away.....so no fixing this with the ISS.....it will be on its own....i love that it is a joint creation of the ESA  (European Space Agency) and the CSA (Canadian Space Agency) and NASA....good to see these programs working together.....and the information it will provide will be incredible i am sure.....this is the week before it left goddard to head to houston for more testing.....later this year, it will pass through the panama canal to get to its launching site, so i just might catch it again before it launches......
 

this is a view looking at the front of the mirror and where it will be collecting infrared data about the universe.....which scientists hope to use to learn more about what they don't already know...hopefully learning more about dark matter and especially what our universe started from, etc....very cool stuff :) the mirror itself is 6.5 meters (just over 21 feet) in diameter and it folds up like origami because it is comprised of 18 segments (why it looks like a bee hive).....waaaaaaaaay cool!!!!
 

this is a shot of sherise, myself and sean in the secondary mirror that will catch everything from the primary mirror (the bee hive) and send the information into the instruments behind the primary mirror....there is a tertiary mirror as well.....but it is on the inside and i could not see it....this mirror is made of beryllium and is coated in gold to help withstand the ridiculous cold temperatures in deep space....
 

of course while i was at NASA, i needed to take a picture with the NASA insignia, also known as the meatball....as most people know, my life goal is to live on every continent for six months or more (australia is the only one left to live on) and then my plan is to go to space....i realize i am getting older, but it is all part of the plan :) what an amazing visit.....
 

while at goddard, we also got to meet camille the sqwaking chicken....who is camille you might ask??? well, she is the representative that travels with scientists when they do school visits about the many of the satellites in space around earth collecting data....the scientists have found that the kids are willing to ask camille questions they would not ask the scientists....she is an important part of NASA's presentation to the younger set :)


i also made it up to NYC a few times during my stay here in the states for the year....and of course i needed to go to the statue of the "fearless girl" in front of the "charging bull" of wall street....the area around her was packed with people taking pictures of both statues....i hope she gets to stay up for the year that has been promised.....i know it irks the artist who made the bull, but i am thinking he is having more visitors to his statue because of this added bonus...granted it may not be the publicity the original artist wanted, but there certainly were a lot of folks taking pictures of both statues....
 

of course i also visited the 9/11 museum....and if you have never been, and were not living in NYC for the events of that day, i would highly recommend you go and see the museum....but plan for a difficult day....the amount of material in that museum is incredible and at times overwhelming....just the room where they honor the fallen folks is incredible and so very sad....but it really is a well done memorial.....i have spoken to friends of mine who were living in NYC during 9/11 and most who have been to the museum say it is not really for them, but instead for those who were not living there at the time....this is on the outside of the memorial building....
 

i loved this wall....as these squares represent every person who lost their lives on that date....and it was created by an artist who remarked on how blue the sky was before the horrible actions of the day took place....each square represents a different shade of blue for the sky as it was seen by people in and around NYC....just very moving....
 

another big moment for me this past spring was the march for science in DC on Earth Day!!! if you saw any of the coverage of that day, you will know that it rained and rained and rained....the whole time...but that really did not dampen the mood of the participants or performers....it was a day i really enjoyed....from hanging with friends and from reading very well written protest signs....i am so glad i went to show my support for science.....i think the thing i really liked was that it was stated multiple times, over and over, that science is not partisan....it's just the search for the answers to the multitudes of questions posed about everything on the planet....go science!!!!
 

here we are, diane, tracy and i, getting ready to head to the rally and march for science.....what an amazing day and i am so happy i could be involved for something i am passionate about....go science!!!!
 

of course while in the states, you should always attend a game of the american past time - baseball!!!! i have no idea if you follow the sport, but if so, you know that the philadelphia phillies are having a horrible year....but there really is something about going to a game and watching it....whether your team is winning or losing ;) love this ballpark!!!
 

one of the crazy things that happened in the past few months here in the states was that my uncle, my mom's brother, had a stroke.....let's just say he was not prepared for this in any way....so my first comment is, no matter your age or family or health or history, make sure to have things in order so your family does not need to go through hell to make sure you are taken care of....my uncle did not pass away, thank goodness, but he is now paralyzed on one side of his body and cannot speak....but my mom has been organizing his life since the stroke occurred....and it has been a crazy, ridiculous, annoying puzzle...probably more crazy than most....but one of the things we got to do was clean up a property right on the coast of florida.....and due to location...my, what a sunset we got to experience....so once again, just be sure to have things in order so your family is not left with a mess of things to work through!!!!
 

above is a shot of the entire science explorers crew....we had a team building day of fun reminders why the company is so strong and so necessary for education of science....what a great mix of passionate, hard-working folks....again....thanks to them for helping me make it through this crazy year here in the states...
 

one of the fun things i got to do for science explorers was help instructors get ready for summer camps...one of the things we had to prep them for was dissection....we dissect squid, sharks, horseshoe crabs and other sea creatures...so i was lucky and got in my yearly dissection, even though i was not teaching middle school science....fun, fun, fun!!! and for those who are wondering....yes, i tye-dyed my own shirt :) go science, go!!!
 

and then it was time to pack my things for panama....for those who have not done this before...it is a crazy dance of what you think you will need, but can live without for the next three months while your stuff is in transit to your new residence....keeping in mind what you need to get through the time remaining in your current residence and for work and life in your new residence and you have to be able to fit the stuff not going in the shipment into your luggage for the plane... if you have never done this, it is a skill you learn over time...and i feel i have gotten quite good at it, but feel i might have a bit too much stuff....maybe i will pair that down even more for the next time....hopefully the stuff will make it to me about a month after i arrive in panama....fingers crossed customs is smooth and easy....



two of my favorite things i did over the last month were go to some amazing concerts....i saw the grateful dead for my 25th show, with good friends....and i went and saw the joshua tree tour of U2....two very different shows ;) but both incredible for different reasons....the dead is like returning to an old friend's house and chillin' with good people....this tour for u2 is like returning to my past of 30 years ago, when i used to buy and listen to whole albums of musicians....the crowd knew every word for both shows, but what different crowds they were....again i will say, i don't think there is anywhere in the world that gets as many diverse shows as the states....and i am fortunate to live near a good sized city that gets amazing music, theater, dance and art exhibits.....go, support the arts in your town!!!!


i also got the chance to see the work of a hometown artist for the area i am from....andrew wyeth....at the moment the brandywine river museum is honoring this artist....plus, we got to visit his studio....he mainly did his art using egg tempera paints, which is where you mix eggs whites with powdered paints...and funnily enough, in his studio is an egg carton from a local store called wawa....i really think wawa should use this in their advertising....this is another aspect of the area i live in that i will miss....wawa....for those who do not know....this IS the best convenience store in the world....and "wawa" stands not only for the name of the town where the original dairy was, but also for the native lenni lenape american word for "goose"....which if you look at the logo of wawa...you will see a yellow goose in the middle.....i will miss wawa....


  
one more picture of my most excellent friends tracy and jen....these are the women who run science explorers and i have known them for more than 14 years....they really helped me out this year and i wish them nothing but success and happiness in the coming years....and i know our friendship will stand the test of time....thank you both :)
 

and of course the people that make it all possible.....my parents...and for those who have never seen him....this is my brother...tony....we are definitely not mistake-able as family....but it has been a terrific year of getting time to be together....and i thank my folks for everything they have given me and with how much they support my very different and varied life from most people.....it is because of them that i can successfully do what i do and live where i live in the world...thanks mom and dad....
 

and of course, last but not least, i send out a flight of "cheers" to you....be sure to look people in the eye when you "cheers" by the way.....one of the other things i will really miss about the states is the variety of beer here....i have had my fun having flights in many different brew pubs and am amazed at how many different options there are here in the states....just, wow!!!! so...."cheers" to you!!!!

there you have it....the last few months of my time here in the states....so many fun adventures and experiences and with so many different and fun people.....for those i re-connected with...thanks for supporting me and being involved in my life....to new friends....thanks for coming along for the ride....what a year it has been....i am appreciative of the time i have had here in the states, but do look forward for the next adventure.....and hopefully, you will come along for the ride....on to central america (a place i have never been by the way) i go....consider this an invitation to visit panama for the next few years.....just give me a heads up if you come my way, as there should be a guest room with your name on it!!!! i am very excited to get back to working with middle schoolers in science, within an internationally minded community, in a new and challenging setting.....i am not really looking forward to the heat again, but know that snow and cooler temperatures are just a plane ride away....

again, as always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch....and hopefully with my move i will be writing the blog updates with a bit more frequency.....thanks as always for reading my words and i hope you have a wonderful rest of your summer/winter....

peace out....and have a fab day :)
dani 

Monday, February 20, 2017

North American Update #3 - sorry it has been a while!

February 20, 2017

Hi there folks....sorry it has taken me so long to get this update out, but i am amazed at how fast time flies....i turn around and months have passed....it has been busy around here.....from working in elementary schools and re-working curriculum for my job, to driving my folks to florida for their time away, to going to st louis to hang with friends to celebrate new years, to the holiday season, which was fun & crazy all rolled into one, to the wild politics here (which i will not discuss, as it just makes people on all sides of the issues mad), to the search for my next teaching position (i really didn't want to write to folks until i knew what i was doing for the next academic year).....so it has just been a fast moving roller coaster here in PA.....i can't believe it is coming to the end of february.....so here i am, with my very late update of what has been happening....

so it is official.....i attended a job fair in boston a few weeks back and have now secured a new position starting mid-july.....i will be headed to another international school...and this time it will be in panama....i will be working in the middle school science department of the international school of panama.....much closer to the states than my last two posts....so of course the invitation to come visit is now extended.....not until after august of this year....but you will find me in panama for the next two academic years, at least.....i am very excited to get back into a middle school classroom and working internationally....i miss the international school community......although, i will miss quite a lot of people and things from the states, i really do feel that i fit in better in an international setting...and i consider this your invitation to come visit me abroad....

but this update is not about an international location.....this is about the states and my visits to a few different ones than PA, as well as my time here in PA....the holidays were wonderful and my job has been going well....so onto the shots that make up my life at the moment :)  feel free to get in touch if you have any questions, comments or concerns as always....here come the pictures....many of them include people, which i hope if these folks are reading this blog, they are ok with having their pictures in it!!!!!


this first shot is from an african fabric exhibit i went to at the philly museum of art (you know the steps from the rocky movies)....i loved going to this exhibit as it reminded me just how colorful ghana & west africa, truly is through its fabric and in turn the folks wearing the fabric....i really liked this indigo fabric of the continent itself and all of the different patterns....it made me smile thinking of ghana!


as we were leaving the museum, it was a full moon and i just had to have this shot....this is a piece of art - a metal tree that has fallen over, located very close to the art museum itself....cool picture in my opinion....
 

another big happening over the past few months was my dad's 75th birthday....he was showered with love and attention and had three parties, two of which were surprises.....my mom is great at stuff like this....this shot above is of the birthday boy at his celebratory brunch with the family....lookin' good :)


i live very close to longwood gardens here outside of philly, and their christmas display is always  a good thing to go see over the holiday season....i went twice this past holiday season and of course was not disappointed....the indoor trees and plants are always so festive...like the one you see above....


they also have a wonderful outside exhibit....i am always amazed with how many lights they can get onto one tree...and i really loved the tree above, as they did not only the branches and trunk above, but did a representation on the ground of the roots....it was amazing!!!!


longwood also is know for it's fountain displays....but they are being refurbished at the moment....but this one was very colorful and festive and was the way we rounded out our visit to these beautiful gardens....they had great holiday music playing as well :)
 

one of the things i love about living in the states near a big city is all of the shows i have the opportunity to see....and this past fall i got to see one of my favorite scientists in person....neil degrasse tyson....he is an amazing astrophysicist, who has the capability to explain science to anyone and everyone, in a way that is understandable....if you have never seen him speak....go on you tube and watch him....i especially love when he talks about death by a black hole....don't worry, you have nothing to fear about this topic, as we are nowhere near a black hole.....
 

also this past fall i got to see one of my favorite musicians....amy ray of the indigo girls....she was playing with a different band and was promoting her new album....she has definitely gotten less "mad" in her solo stuff and i had a great time seeing her in such an intimate venue.....one more thing about the states i love....how many different venues there are for live performances....from coffee houses to vintage theaters to stadiums and concert halls....so glad to have the opportunity to go and see live art!!!! love it!!!!
 

another performance we saw was the philly pops to celebrate the holiday season....the boys choir was there, as was a choir from a local church, in nigerian garb....all members of the performance were great and it put us in the holiday spirit!


i do have to say i am enjoying living in an area that does get cold and have been excited by snow and ice....which i know a lot of people do not like....but for me, i have missed this, and know i will not have snow next year.....rain, lots of rain, but no snow.....this is a wreath we had outside and i loved what it looked like after an ice storm we had.....
 

of course i had to include a shot from work.....this is my co-teacher solar sarah and one of the 4th graders we were working with....i love that the student included her glasses on her matter monster....i really do enjoy what i do....


over the new year holiday i headed to st louis to see my friends owen & katy....of course we had to hit the annheuser-busch brewery.....which was a bunch of fun...it was all dressed up for the holiday season and we did a fun tour, where we saw the clydesdale horses and got to watch a live, outdoor hockey game while enjoying a cold brew.....and i learned that annheuser-busch owns a lot more breweries than i ever imagined, including stella, leffe, shock top and elysian from seattle.....wild what you learn....


while in st louis we went to a museum that was showing an exhibit about route 66 & toys from the 60's, 70's and 80's.....how excited was i to see mousetrap?!?!?! i loved this game soooo much...so of course i had to get a picture of this awesome game!!!!
 

we had a mini reunion of sorts while i was there....go team ghana....so this is katy, eric, myself and owen.....it was a fun evening catching up with what is happening in ghana and in those of our lives who are no longer in ghana....it was a blast :)
 

of course i had to stop by and see the arch of st louis....unfortunately the ride that goes up the arch was not working, but we did get to see a video about how it was built and what an amazing feat this was for the this monument that was finished in 1965....did you know it is the tallest arch in the world and that it is as tall, as it is wide - 630 feet.....some amazing engineering here....plus, it looks like a type of slide here.....


we also went to the city museum in st louis.....it was INCREDIBLE!!!!! it is a museum that is like a giant playhouse....it is perfect for all people, adults & children, and consists of re-purposed architectural & industrial objects...including a school bus, two planes and metal that his been reformed as a ten foot slide.....soooooooooooo cool!!!! the picture above is of one of the art installments in the museum.....can you find me in the picture?????  i LOVED this place and if you are headed to st louis any time soon, you REALLY need to check this place out! 


my last shot from st louis is of my friends katy & owen...it was terrific to see them and catch up and spend new year's together.....i love it when friendships last over miles of space and time, and when you see those friends you pick up just where you left off :)


which is also very true of this picture....as these are my friends andrea and bruno from croatia, who now live in the states....and when i headed up to boston i got to hang with them and meet their lovely daughters.....we had a short, but very sweet reunion in boston when i was up there for the job fair....some fun was had :)
 

the job fair in boston was a bunch of fun this time around because i actually knew a bunch of the recruiters from the schools....quite a few friends were their recruiting for their current schools....which meant i got to see them and didn't know that was going to happen....plus, every time i had an interview, i got to see warren towers of BU, where i lived for two years....it was wonderful to be back in boston and to come away with a new and exciting position for me in panama!!!!
 

i also got to go to a very cool science bar/restaurant on MIT's campus with some great friends from college.....and check out this menu!!!! it is called the miracle of science and the menu is a version of the periodic table.....LOVE!!!!!! 
 

the company i came with to this place was pretty spectacular as well...as i hadn't seen flo & jude together for quite some years....it was terrific to be hanging in boston together and catching up on life, love and the pursuit of happiness.....friends since freshman year.....yay!!!!!


the week after boston i was in NYC....where my current job, science explorers is expanding...i was there for under 24 hours....but in that time i got to see two important people from different times of my life...adriana from china days and samir from BU days....it was a ton of fun to meet up with them for a few hours :)


and of course while in NYC, you have to have some bagels......but, check these out....rainbow bagels, how cool is that!!!! this place had tasty bagels, but then again, the best bagels are always in nyc & nj...it has something to do with the water i think :) loved these bagels....
 

from nyc to florida, where i drove with my folks for their snowbird flight south....the pelicans where they are staying are incredible....this is a shot of a juvenile pelican who was hanging on the jetty, waiting for the fishermen & women to throw the scraps of the fish they caught....crazy birds....
 

and this is a shot of their view for the sunset....pretty perfect if you ask me :)
 

of course i needed to end with a beer in florida....from when i had to buy my dad dinner, as i lost our super bowl bet....wanted to see the patriots lose, but wow what a finish to a game.....first time in 14 years i got to watch the game live, see the commercials as they aired and watch the half-time show....another great thing about being in the states at the moment.....so cheers to american football :)

so there you have it....update from the states #3...thanks for being patient for my post and hopefully i will get another one out before i head south for the school year....hope all of you are well and enjoyed this post as much as i did....happy end of february and here's to the on-coming season of spring/fall, depending on where you are in the world....catch ya on the flip side....

peace out and have a fab day :)
dani