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Archive for December, 2007

In Memory of Katy

December 13th, 2007

My dear friend and mentor Jim Dunlap, Curator of The Holifield Outdoor Learning Center in Plano, has lost an animal that I knew very well. She was an 18 foot Burmese Python named Katy. For three decades, she brought wonder into the lives of countless kids who were lucky enough to be in a school district that visited the center, or that Plano ISD sent Jim and company out to visit. She was a big old sweetheart, but she was getting weaker and hadn’t eaten without help in quite a while. It’s a very sad loss that made the news locally, as so many people remembered her across the area. My deepest sympathies go out to Jim and his excellent crew. Countless animals literally owe their lives to them.

Tyler Texas

December 2nd, 2007

Thursday November 29th through Saturday December 1st were devoted to Discovery Science Place in Tyler. I was remarkably unfamiliar with the town, having lived so close to it most of my life, but you do have to get well off of I-20 to get there, so in countless trips past it going East, I apparently never saw much more than the exit sign. Downtown was mostly built quite a while ago, and it is one of those buildings that Discovery Science Place calls home.

As science museums I’ve performed for go, this one is small and like most of them, on a tight budget – but the staff are first rate and the enthusiasm we generated in Tyler was exceptional. Every show was sold out. Kudos to Marketing Director Val Williamson, who had only been there a month at the time, but did a wonderful job. The audiences were delightfully responsive and I’ve already been told to plan on next year. It may even become an annual event like the one in Dallas.

I think that science and nature museums are some of our cities’ most worthy causes. The mind is like a muscle, and it needs exercise and creative play. If you aren’t a member of your local museum, consider becoming one. You get discounts and other perks, but you are also directly contributing to science and nature education in your own community. So much can be learned that is difficult or impossible to get in schools, where the focus has become preparing students to do well on state tests.

I also ran into an old friend from high school, whom I had not seen since the early eighties. Joe Terrell is now a popular news anchor for KLTV, the dominant affiliate in town. It was great to see that he was doing well, and has a delightful family to boot. Special kudos to the station for providing excellent coverage of the event, including a segment with morning anchor Molly Reuter and meteorologist Grant Dade that was even better than usual. Their cameraman was calling it the best segment ever. A link to their site’s video clip of it will be on the experience page of my site. Worth a look.

My hotel had cable, so there was no NFL Network on which to see the Cowboys-Packers game Thursday night (how ’bout them Cowboys!) but across the street was a sports bar called Daniel Boone’s, actually owned and operated by a guy named Daniel Boone. Nice meal and a great game. Turns out NFL Network streamed it (which they did not announce in advance) so I could have seen it on the laptop, but streaming video can’t yet do justice to fast-action sports.

Overall, my experience in Tyler was hectic but wonderful. I’m looking forward to my return, and to doing whatever I can to help this small but vibrant science museum become the hugely popular family destination it richly deserves to be.