Thursday, February 26, 2004

It's been a busy week here. After planning meetings, meals, etc. for our student-invited speaker lecture/visit (which was last Wednesday, and went swimmingly), I'm now coordinating Brain Blast!, a neuroscience fair for kids at the Adventure Science Center (a science museum.) Grad students and other volunteers run booths with games and activities about neuroscience for kids, plus we have some information for adults about all things nervous-system related. It's really fun, and the kids get into the puzzles, arts and crafts (like building neurons out of styrofoam balls, straws and pipe cleaners), and of course, hands on brains. Last year, two friends (shout out here to Amy and Dave Bonn!) were lucky enough to be driving through Nashville just as Brain Blast! was wrapping up, so they too got to experience the thrill of picking up a human brain. Unfortunately we're short on human brains this year so I'm trying to find other brains from somewhere else (got some sheep ones from a lab supply catalog, but still looking for big brains -- any donations?)

Another fun aspect of Brain Blast! this year is the appearance of the Brain Balloon. Apparently an MD from Missouri wanted to share the wonder of neuroscience by making a hot air balloon in the shape of the brain. He did, and now it tours the country in its multi-colored splendor, to the delight of kids and adults alike, inspiring all to learn about neuroscience... or at the least, causing people to look up into the air and say, "What the..." The balloon will be parked at the museum, situated near the intersection of Interstates 24, 65, and 40. So if you're in that area on Saturday March 6th, drive carefully -- yes that's a brain-shaped hot air balloon, but yes you should also pay attention to where you're driving.

At any rate, do take a peek at the Brain Balloon website here.

I just noticed the slogan for the balloon is "Navigating the hemispheres." Wow that's corny. (by the way, each 1/2 of your brain is referred to as a hemisphere... is that common knowledge? I forget.)

Somewhere within these extracurriculars, I do research for my thesis. I swear.

And one more thing... a follow-up on an earlier blog post. I just received an email yesterday that I'm a semifinalist for the news/science fellowship I applied for in January. I'll be having a phone interview in a few weeks! Honestly, I'm happy -- beyond happy -- that I made it this far. But my anticipation about the next selection round has led me not to talk about it very much in general... which is kind of silly, huh? I have no idea how many people they picked for interviews, but I do know that "semifinalist" is better than "not a semifinalist," so: Yay!
Anyway, if anyone has any phone interview tips, words of advice, etc., let me know.

Oh, and another thing: I finally got a new computer. A ThinkPad, in fact. It should be coming in the mail today. My current laptop, which I've had for about 6 years, is in dire need of retirement. Currently I have to wrap the power cord around the laptop monitor, and balance it at a particular angle in order to stabilize the machine and keep it powered. Seriously. Hopefully this new computer will be somewhat of an improvement.

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