Sunday, February 26, 2012

Post notes 1

I had an interesting morning last week and I emailed myself the following as a reminder:
nantucket lightship
building w/downstairs room restrooms plus observation deck and weird room
people on train

I'll start with "people on train". On my subway ride to the LNFU following a meeting near the harbor, a middle-aged chunky white woman with medium-length brown hair started a panhandling spiel employed by drug addicts. Hers was a bit different from one I'd heard before; she said she needed four dollahs to get some food at McDonald's because she was stahving and could anyone spare fifty cents.

Now I know that when you assume you make an ass out of you and me, but I was pretty sure this woman wasn't stahving, and I will refrain from saying perhaps she was a bit peckish because that is too mean. Anyway, I wasn't going to give her any money, but I did rifle through my bag because I had several pieces of fresh fruit in there, and I thought perhaps I would offer her an apple.

While I was rifling through my bag a young non-white man to my left called her over and she said "ya got fifty cents?" and he said "here's a dollar" and gave it to her. Then a young non-white woman to my right gave her fifty cents. Everybody else on the train, including me, ignored her. She got off at the next stop, presumably so she could hassle people in another car.

I told the guy to my left that what he'd done was very nice, and he said thank you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Museum quality

The LNFU natural history museum, which I have long admired, has been undergoing a lot of renovations recently, and the department I work for is next. I was invited to attend the initial planning meeting for what to put in the exhibit. I was told I didn't need to attend if I didn't want to. Of course I attended. I will be sad to see the trio of weirdly named fish make their exit - farewell sergeant major, pudding-wife, and slippery dick! - but who wouldn't want to work on a museum exhibit? I do have to be careful not to overstep my bounds, however.  I have no scientific degree. I have no museum degree.

But what I do have is enthusiasm and creativity and a layperson's perspective. Yesterday when we were looking at what's currently on display, a middle-schooler came up to me and asked if we were examiners. Which in a sense we were.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book sniffer

Things at the LNFU have been going swimmingly, something I like to say mainly because I work with and for people who study fish.Yesterday I took a little break to visit the special collections room of one of the LNFU libraries. They'd advertised a display of old, interesting-looking books, and for a limited time only! - so I decided to check it out.

Little did I know that I would actually get to hold in my bare hands a small book published in 1553. And flip through the pages of a big book published in 1554. Its cover had small metal hinges on it, fastened with tiny nails. Without even bothering to see if anyone was looking -- because, to be honest, I was in a room full of fellow oddballs -- I bent down and sniffed the big book. It didn't really smell like anything, which when you think about it makes sense because it's been kept safe from anything that would make it stinky.

Once I'd finished examining the books, I looked at some correspondence the librarians had laid out on a counter nearby. One of the letters was from Charles Darwin, and was written in in his own hand. It wasn't a photocopy. This one I didn't touch. Or sniff. I just bent over it while holding my hair back so I wouldn't shed on Chuck.