Found object/ceramic artist Lisa Schumaier constructs whimsical and politically pointed raku and paper-mâché sculptures. In one, small paper cutouts with the faces of friends and family members pump signs up and down in front of a large paper-mâché Republican Party elephant. Originally, the figures were protesting the first Iraq war, then the second Iraq war and now they are about to find new purpose when Lisa adds pink pussy hats to some. She does projects with students and, in a subtle nod to the science is real movement, they’ve fashioned rolling soda can penguins 🐧, bobbing wire hanger penguins and affixed penguins to the base of one of the large scene installations Lisa has prominently on display in the hallway outside her studio with in Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory Artist Center. Watch video tour of artist's funny political protest art and interview.
A couple blocks away from the Alexandria Virginia Archaeological Museum, sea biscuits were found at the site where a bakery stood in the early 1800s. Also known as hardtack, the biscuits were food for long distance travelers and sailors because flour mixed with water then baked dry could last without spoiling (for a long time) At the museum on New Year’s Eve day, archaeologist Hilary Huley, helped visitors like your correspondent mold and imprint our own sea biscuits to take home for baking (but not consuming) Watch video making hardtack in historical Old Town Alexandria Virginia
JS Jenks Academy for Arts and Sciences Teacher Jon Tietz is motivated to have his students produce good art. And to do that, he regularly integrates math concepts of patterns and perspective into student lessons and projects. He recently showed off eye-catching student works of art in a variety of media, some inspired by Greek classics, Alexander Calder or M.C. Escher, dramatically on display along the school's first floor corridor. Tietz has built 12 large collapsible wooden frames with horizontal wires for moveable clothesline type exhibits in the school. The frames can hold over 400 pieces, using front and back. When not in use, they are folded up and stored behind the auditorium stage. Walking down to his art room Tietz, pointed out the framed artwork along the stairway walls, part of the growing Jenks Art Gallery or "JAG," a reference to the school teams' mascot, the Jaguars. Student clothesline art exhibit and video interview.
Carrie Eastman raises fainting goats for sale at a farm near Gettysburg, PA. Staying over at her bed-not-breakfast we had the chance to become a little acquainted with her herds. Just as we entered the field, some goats scampered across a narrow land bridge over a small creek and the last in line froze in place then fell flat over on her left side. After a few seconds she righted herself, "slightly wet, slightly annoyed." Fainting goats, she explains have a genetic condition called myotonia congenita. "Basically, the enzyme that tells your muscles to relax after they've contracted is low. Most of the time it's not an issue but if they get that adrenaline hit from being excited - feeding time, breeding, something scares them, the muscles contract and then they're not able to release right away and the goat stiffens." In terms of natural selection the characteristic is not desirable. For the fainting goat breed, the key is to breed for a moderate amount of the condition. For the goats, it's like doing isometric exercises. For humans, those exercises result in a high meat to bone ratio. Eastman speaks lovingly of her goats by name, tells how several are related to each other - and has not eaten any of the goats she's raised. Watch video of fainting goat being picked up by farmer who breeds them.
Clockwise from top left. Teens from Wordsworth Academy, a special needs school assist children in making recycled bottle planters. An activist with Sea Shepherd talks about the group's efforts to save endangered porpoises and whales. From the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ, a horseshoe crab. FEMA is ready to assist in disasters, this representative from the flood mitigation unit assures. Evergreen Lane farm sets up aquaponics systems. Photo on web here.
A Penn Environment representative demonstrates how planting trees will cool the earth and counter global warming using a lamp, a model house and tree and a temperature reading gun. Video and interview here.
Architecture students from Philadelphia University demonstrate the model they've desgined of a turbine that would sit in the ocean off of Santa Monica California that would not only generate energy from wave action but would allow people to walk through the apparatus. The walkway is composed of segments which compensate for undulations and thus would grant visitors a level walking experience while connecting directly with the source of their [electric] power. The designers, entering their model in a competition, describe their invention as "habitable generative art." Watch video and interview here.
Speech pathology students from Salus University offer samples of thickened juice to educate the public how thickened liquids can help people with swallowing problems inadvertently breathe liquids into their lungs. Watch video and interview here.
Quaker Action activist Chris Baker Evens urge the PECO [Exelon] electric utility to agree to buy back energy from residents of North Philadelphia who install renewable, solar energy panels on their rooftops. At a booth across the way at the Philadelphia Science Festival, PECO representatives advise the public how to save on their energy bills. Watch video and interview here.
Alison and Robin of Philadelphia's Resource Exchange demonstrate and explain how scraps of clothing and many other things you might be inclined to trash can be used to make art or recycled for other purposes. Watch video interview here.
When you have three kinds of clouds coming together and catch the "rat's end" of the storm, you have a good chance of catching a rainbow she says. We ran into this couple at a rest stop on the PA Turnpike. They were coming from a music fest and headed towards another and had paused to see an awesome rainbow. Watch video here.
Twins Hannah and Dara talk about their relationship, how they are alike and how they are not. Watch video interview here
Your correspondent volunteered for a week cleaning dishes and bathhouses at the Audubon Society Camp on Hog Island off of Bremen, Maine. He collected an old glass bottle encrusted with barnacles and these stories. See photo slideshow here.
A large aquarium in the lab building of Hog Island affords a micro view of aquatic life in coastal Maine’s tidal pools. Off the pier, swaying mats of seaweed. Watch video here.
“Puffin” Pete Salmansohn, Project Puffin outreach coordinator and director of Hog Island Educators week, describes how puffins were saved from near extermination from the Maine Coast on a boat trip out to Eastern Egg Rock Island where island sitters carefully monitor and study them. Along the way, seals sunning themselves on a small island, produce whoops and hollers among the day-trippers as they dive into the water toward the boat to investigate or perhaps be fed? Watch video here.
On Hog Island, early morning guided birding, a photographer and his camera level with the osprey nest, an osprey parent guarding two fledglings and later the same day foraying out and back. Watch video montage here.
“Seabird” Sue Schubel, Project Puffin Outreach Instructor and Hog Island Camp Coordinator, puts the finishing touches on a large batch of cream “puffins.” They will be served to oohs and ahs and camera flashes at the conclusion of the farewell lobster dinner for Educators week. The confectionary puffins, like their living counterparts, Schubel says, could be either male or female, as they look the same. Their breeding plumage, bright orange bills, mark them as mature adults. Watch video here.
Susan Spitzer Williams, a career guidance specialist participating in Educators Week on Hog Island, seen here rushing to get her camera to the photogapher and back in place for a group shot. In the video, she pauses before swimming to share one of the many ways in which she is superior to her dear older brother, Nick Spitzer, host of the widely syndicated, public radio program, “American Routes.” For one, she met and played pool with Muddy Waters and he didn’t. Watch video here.
A short, live action, instructional video for kitchen volunteers at the Hog Island camp on how to use the Hobart 4 sided, hood mounted, pass through, commercial dishwasher. Watch video here.
She’s been skinning road kill, preparing pelts, skull specimens and mounts for museums for some time but this was Carolyn Zaino’s first beaver. Discovered by a couple Hog Island staffers, the road kill became the object of Zaino’s artistry and industry in between stints in the Hog Island kitchen. Zaino is nonplussed by the gore and gruesomeness of her vocation as befits the pathologist’s daughter for whom, as a child, the hearts, lungs and brains in her father’s lab were naturally things of wonder. Her work lets her give these animals “another life” and educate people about them. Watch short video here. Watch full-length video here.
I was driving behind a car with interesting bumper stickers on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill and when it pulled over to park, I pulled over, too, to ask the driver if she might extemporize on her stickers.
Martha Knox was with her four year old daughter, BB, waiting for the post office to open. She was then headed to the UCP (United Cerebral Palsy) Best Friends pre-school where BB is intentionally “reversed mainstreamed” with kids with disabilities.
Knox works professionally as a graphic designer and teacher and identifies strongly as a secular humanist. Her car’s rear bumper graphically and humorously expresses her beliefs. The 2013-2014 “Zombie Hunting Permit,” however, was placed by her husband.
“Honk! If you understand punctuated equilibria” was one sticker that particularly caught my attention. The theory in evolutionary biology, Knox explained, is that genetic changes happen rapidly in “short” periods of time, geologically speaking.
In these four videos, you can also see and hear Knox talk about “Nietzsche is Peachy,” “Evolution happens” both of which she designed, “There is no way to peace, peace is the way,” “Support Net Neutrality”and “Schrödinger’s Cat: Dead and Alive.”