Archive for November 2011

2 of 15 – Recent Trip to Washington, D. C.

My wife and I recently went to Washington D.C. for a little weekend trip. She had never been; I hadn’t been in several years, and we live within about ten hours. Yeah, it is a LONG drive, but it was well worth it. Granted, it was a LONG drive, but we really enjoyed ourselves. Oh, and this is also where I made what may become a life-changing decision. I’m going to share some photos of our beautiful capital as I slowly weave our way closer to the big reveal.

I’m always amazed by the sheer majesty and beauty of the various monuments in Washington, D.C. The first monument we saw was the Washington Monument, because, of course, you can see it as you drive near the city.

As we were walking to the National Mall, we passed by the White House. We snapped this photo and, as chance would have it, happened to catch a jogger in the photo.

There were runners everywhere! Tina and I did a lot of walking this weekend. It was really nice seeing so many people out and active, and it was a definite reminder that we need to value our health and get thin so we can enjoy an athletic, fit, healthy life.

The first thing we did was go to the Holocaust Museum.

I don’t have many photos of that, because it was just too somber a place to take photos in. Being in that place with all of the information and actual artifacts of the Holocaust made me so grateful to live in a time and place where I can worship as I choose. People may bad mouth our country, but this is one thing we definitely have right. Regardless of what you believe, so long as it doesn’t harm others, you are welcome to believe and worship that way. Thank God for that.

Following the Holocaust Museum, we made our way to the American History Museum.

The picture below is of a very unique sculpture out in front of the museum. Nothing significant here. I just think this is a cool photo.

My patriotism was in full force once inside. We were greeted by this metallic reproduction of the flag.

There were so many exhibits we were not allowed to take photos of, so let me just share a few of the random photo we were allowed to take.

This lunch counter is significant as it is the actual lunch counter from Greensboro, North Carolina, where some black students held a non-violent sit-in to demand equal rights. This took place in 1960. Is it amazing to anyone else that just fifty-one years ago, you could be treated vastly, horribly different based upon nothing more than the color of your skin?

Something a bit more frivolous, here. These, of course, are some of the actual slippers worn in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz. Due to the effects of Technicolor technology, these are significantly darker than you would think. (If they had been the actual color they appeared on screen, they would have looked orange.)

I’ll be honest – we were dead tired at this point, as we had not been in bed since Thursday morning. This was Friday afternoon. We took a photo of ourselves. If this isn’t the definition of a hot mess, I don’t know what is.

The next morning, after we died at the hotel, we woke up nice and refreshed for a full day of sightseeing in D.C. again. We parked near the Jefferson Memorial and set off on a LONG day of sightseeing and walking.

We wanted to go here but they were closed on Saturday. Whoops. Should have visisted the day before.

The Natural History Museum! This is one of my favorite museums at the Smithsonian!

Can you tell I like dinosaurs? Can you imagine how exciting it must be to unearth a skeleton from rock and realize you are the first human to have EVER seen the bones before you?

The Hope Diamond was a BIG disappointment. It is currently in a setting by Harry Winston instead of the classic. Why mess with a… well, classic?

Know what else I like? Space.

After that, we went to the Museum of Art. I’ll be honest – I think the Frist in Nashville is better. I did enjoy this metal tree, though, in the Sculpture Garden.

Oh, and the animals in D.C. are crazy tame. This little squirrel was eating a Cheeto. I guess he doesn’t know they’re bad for you.

After the art, we went to my favorite museum in all of the Smithsonian. The Air and Space Museum!

How scary must it have been to fall to Earth and land in the ocean in one of those?

And of course, I can’t be near a planetarium without seeing a show, so we saw two shows, back to back. Very cool.

I should mention at this point it was about five p.m., and we hadn’t eaten since we had left the hotel. We found a little pizza place and each got a slice. After all of our walking, I think we were okay to do so.

We went to check on the car (yay! They don’t enforce three hour parking on Saturday!) and, since the museums were closed, made one last visit to some of the monuments we could visit.

That pretty much sums up our short weekend trip to D.C. Yeah, I realize this doesn’t seem like I’m getting closer to telling you what happened, but I promise, I am, and it will make sense when it’s all over and done.

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1 of 15 – My Educational Travels

First of all, welcome to November! Rabbit rabbit!

(Does anyone else do that?)

On Halloween, I teased about how I am going to describe a major, potentially life-changing direction my life is about to take. I’ll admit we’re talking BIG picture here, not small things, even though a lot of small things are involved. Since this is post 1 of 15, then you haven’t missed anything. Pull up a chair. Join us!

I’m going to start off by talking about what I pictured my future would be like when I was in high school.

From about the age of 7 on, I had made up my mind that I wanted to become a doctor. I LOVED biology. I loved gross anatomy. If it had to do with blood and guts, medicine and health… I was all about it. I took every AP science and mathematics course my high school offered (and did awesome at them, by the way).

I make it to college, and I do fair in Inorganic Chemistry. Molecular biology kind of kicked my butt, but… well, I had literally JUST discovered the internet, and even though everybody was on Geocities, a brand new world had suddenly opened up to me. I just didn’t study as much as I should have.

Starting in my sophomore year of college, back in the dark ages of the fall of 1997, I took Organic Chemistry I. I studied, but admittedly, not NEARLY as hard as I should have. Let’s be honest. I should have devoted at least twenty hours a week to this class. I probably spent… oh… maybe three. Per week. If I was having a test that week.

I may be a hard worker now, but I was LAZY then. Young and stupid, what can I say?

I got an F. First F of my life.

I retook it in the spring, but (I swear I’m not making this up), my grandmother died and that week, I got so behind, I ended up taking the class for an audit because I was staring down the barrel of a D. (But on the plus side, I did finally get the hang of Nuclear Magnetic Spectroscopy.)

I signed up ONE more time for Organic Chemistry in fall of my junior year of college. I knew this was make or break. If I didn’t do well, then I had to say good bye to medical school. I got a decent grade on my first test. Not great, but decent.

I will NEVER forget the day that I got my second test back. I still remember the grade. 55 out of 100. I didn’t see the possibility of doing better than a D in the class. Medical school, as far as I knew, was gone. I would not be becoming a doctor.

If I had a magic time machine and I could go back to that moment, I would do one of two things.

One, I would tell 20 year old me, “Dude, a lot of people get a C in Organic Chemistry and still make it into medical school. Don’t give up. And get off the dial-up internet and study harder, dumb ass.”

Or two, “Okay, so you think you can’t become a doctor. That doesn’t mean you have to give up on science or even medicine. Why don’t you consider becoming a nurse?”

I didn’t. I had taken Introduction to Psychology during the previous summer, and I changed my major. I enjoyed the coursework. I hate the field. HATE the field. It took me a while to figure that out.

Oh wait, no it didn’t. I figured that out about a year after graduation.

I briefly entertained the notion of becoming a School Psychologist. I even got into the graduate program, which was fairly competitive. I again learned that School Psychology was not for me, either. It wasn’t bad grades that chased me out. It was the fact that I just didn’t like it.

In the spring of 2003, I enrolled at WKU to become a teacher. You’d think, if I loved science, I would become a science teacher, wouldn’t you? But no. My self-esteem was so tore up by that C in Organic Chemistry that I had myself convinced that I wasn’t smart enough to get a science degree. Therefore, I fell back on my second love.

Writing and literature. I worked hard, and in just four semesters, I completed my second Bachelor’s of Arts, this time in English & Allied Language Arts.

I spent a year as a teacher and got a Master’s Degree of Secondary Education out of it. After I left teaching, I went through a string of humanities-related teaching jobs, literally covering the gamut from birth to death. My favorite was corrections, where I stood in an overcrowded classroom in a county jail and taught GED to orange-suited inmates. Seriously. I really liked that job.

I made some amazing contacts in the field of education and developed some great skills, and that brings me to my current job at WKU, teaching literacy to incoming freshmen. I’m working on completing my graduate literacy certificate, which will allow me to begin teaching upper level literacy courses. I can’t wait!

But… I still miss science. A lot.

Oh, I forgot one little detour. In the spring of 2008, I started nursing school.

No joke. In the fall of 2007, I took Anatomy and Physiology (you’ll never guess who my teacher was – not joking, it was the man who, as a child actor, played Danny Torrance in Kubrick’s The Shining¬¬ – I am not joking – you can’t make that up), because I wanted to get out of adult education and back into medicine. Fortunately, I met Tina, and I dropped out of nursing school. Right after I met her, I knew she was something special, and nursing school is demanding enough that I knew I couldn’t build a relationship and continue.

I don’t regret that decision for a moment. I regret nothing on the path of my life that has brought me to Tina, who is truly the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

Now I ended up getting the greatest job I have EVER had and I truly intend to retire from WKU. I love my colleagues, I love my bosses, I love my students, I love everything about my job. (I would like a window in my office. Just saying.) But the call of science has never left me. Suffice it to say, 16 year old me would be very surprised at what I’m doing for a living. Teaching was NOT in the game plan.

And no, I’m not planning to go to nursing or medical school. More details on my big decision coming soon.

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