Round Peg in a Square Hole

A repository of reference material on a variety of subjects

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Best Laid Plans......

O.K., I did have a plan, it just didn't work out, alright?

Last summer, I was Science GoH at a Minnesota SF convention called CONVergence, and had a blast! They took great care of me, the audiences for my panels were great, the other panelists were great, and they throw totally awesome parties. Made a whole lot of new friends and eventually decided to go back this year, on my own nickle. But, in the meantime, MISFITS (the non-profit group that runs CONVergence) had invited me to come back and speak in their In the Schools program, where they bring scientists, engineers, writers, etc. in to local schools. AND they planned the school visits so that I could play in their annual Trivia Contest. Totally cool.

This is all right up my alley. One of my concerns in life is to reach out to young girls and encourage them to pursue their interest in science and math. I've done a little online mentoring, and rarely turn down a chance to talk at a school. I was excited and a little scared when I found out just how many kids I would be talking to: nearly 600 over the course of 2 days, ranging from 2nd graders to high schoolers. So, I put together a geared-down version of my usual Cassini talk, packed up a bazillion book marks and stickers and off I went.

The first day went great. Farnsworth Elementary School is an aerospace elemetary school, which meant, 1) I was preaching to the choir and 2) they have their own flight simulators, and I got to ride in one! Woot! Talked to 2nd through 6th graders, they had great questions, and were very involved. I even got to talk with some of the parents at lunch, which was great. I am so envious of these kids; I would have LOVED a school like this when I was their age! (They do, however, have a bit of a rough time when they get to middle school, since there is no equivalent middle school, so they have to go to a standard school. That's GOT to be a let-down, after what these kids do and learn in their elementary years!)

Went out that evening with some of the friends I had made last summer, (hey! Perrin and Jeff!) had a great time, and was pretty well pooped by the time I hit the hay.

Unfortunately, that's where things started going south. I became dreadfully ill that night: flu-like symptoms, including body aches, wicked sort throat, headache, but, oddly enough, no fever. (Would have been convinced it was strep, if I'd had a fever, so I was checking for it pretty obsessively.) Slept in hour to hour-and-a-half increments, and was pretty much a basket case by morning. Went down to the hotel restaurant, had tea and toast, went back up to my room, went back to bed.

Now, them as knows me know that I'm one of those nervous folks. I need to be doing something, building, making, reading. So, when I tell you that I did nothing that day, it's an indication of just how bad off I was. I didn't knit (I had brought _5_ projects, just to give you a clue). I didn't read. I didn't listen to my recorded book. I didn't even watch TV. I tried to sleep some, but it didn't really work; I mostly just laid there and felt miserable.

Did participate in the Trivia contest (again, the fact that I got the wrong conversion for 8 into binary and screwed up the definition of UHF gives you an idea of just how out of it I was) and my team, the Space Cadets, managed not to come in last, woot! Crashed as soon as the contest was over, hoping that the wine I had drunk would at least get me some much-needed sleep. (You don't want to know how I screwed up the sock I was knitting while at the contest. Pain killers+illness+wine+complicated sock pattern=very ugly result.)

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday, with dinner with the concom folks replacing the Trivia Contest in the evening. (Wasn't sure, by then, if I was feeling better, or just getting accustomed to the pain.) Tried to be optimistic, but I had two more schools to speak (croak) at on Monday, and was worried the my flesh simply wouldn't hold out. My angels of mercy, Linda and Anton, who gave me a ride to and from dinner, were kind enough to take me by a drug store to pick up more drugs, and even spotted me when I realized that I had come out w/o money or ID. (Sigh. I really don't like it when my brain doesn't work.)

Was able to sleep a little better on Sunday night (Chloroseptic? Exhaustion? You be the judge.) and so was able to carry out my duties on Monday, as planned. (My liason for the day was wonderful; she talked all day, so I wouldn't have to, bless her! Thanks, Amada!) Fortunately, when I get going on my talk, adrenaline or endorphins or something kicks in, and I really don't notice the pain, so I was almost my normal self for those talks.

However, when I finally got back home on Tuesday, I went straight to Urgent Care. The doctor took one look, went, "Whoa." and wrote a prescription for penicillin. (He said the original problem was probably viral, but that I had secondary infections going by that point, so he wanted to hit it with a BIG hammer.) Sure enough, about 36 hours after the first pill, I started to improve, so I guess you never know: a new strain of strep that doesn't have a fever? Who knows. Here's hoping that I didn't "share" with all of MISFITS folks or the kids I spoke to that week.....

The point of all this is that I got cheated out of my fun time, damnit! I LOVE speaking to kids, get really energized by it, but this time it was like slogging through mud, some of which was in my head. And I had really been looking forward to the Trivia Contest, and seeing all the fun folks I had met the previous summer, but tried not to breathe on folks too much, lest I infect. Sigh. Just not fair.

And the OTHER other thing is that I had planned on blogging heavily while I was out of town. Whether or not I posted while I was out there, I had wanted to get down some impressions, and other things that I had been wanting to share, and just hadn't had time for; figured a weekend in the hotel would give me a perfect opportunity.



  • At June 03, 2007 4:47 AM, Blogger Todd said…

    It sounds as though you had a blast talking to the kids. I'll have to keep the Farnsworth in mind for Anna when she gets older.

    Despite being ill, you looked to be going strong for the evening of the Misfits trivia contest. And it was good seeing you again.

    We'll look for you at Convergence.



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