Boston is the perfect place for lifelong learners. With dozens of colleges in the area, one could probably attend a free lecture, performance, or event of some kind every night.
I finally made it to Harvard’s free monthly Observatory Night. This night usually entails a lecture and then a look-see through a telescope on the roof.
My friend Abby and I attended a couple of months ago. I chose this particular Observatory Night because the speaker would be talking more about history than science. Nothing against science…I just comprehend history better!
A science writer named Dava Sobel spoke about her recent book, The Glass Universe. She gave a broad overview of a number of women who were hired at the Observatory in the 1800s as human computers to translate the observations of male researchers to paper. But once photography started being used to document the stars, many of the women started making their own observations, discovering stars and designing classification systems.
After the lecture, we received the sad news that there would be no observation on the roof that night due to snow/ice. There were volunteers offering tours of the building and of a room that holds half a million glass plates (or at least a few million of the half a million?), but we would have had to wait for hours (literally) because so many people had signed up before us.
So we went on our way, vowing to return during nicer weather.
Four more months of being a thirty-something.
I visited the Longyear Museum today.
It’s a lovely museum dedicated to the history of Mary Baker Eddy’s life; she was the founder of Christian Science. I arrived armed with knowledge of the main details of her life from having visited the Mary Baker Eddy Library a few times over the years.
She had quite the interesting life, so I enjoyed learning more about her. She had all sorts of bad luck (a bad marriage, illnesses, poverty, separation from her only son for 20+ years, widowed twice, etc.) but then founded a religion, wrote numerous books, started a publishing company, and founded the Christian Science Monitor at the age of 87!
I literally had the museum to myself. There are only three galleries, but they are chock full of historical artifacts. And I really appreciated the design of the galleries. The constant sound of trickling water in the main gallery, coupled with my solitude, had such a calming effect. I almost hated to leave.
The staff were very nice and knowledgeable, and admission is free to boot. I was happy to offer a small donation.
So that was #8 on my birthday list. I ticked off #7 last week: I watched The Manchurian Candidate (#67 on the AFI Top 100 list). I remember seeing the remake in the theater about 10 years ago…I don’t remember being blown away. This one blew me away. I didn’t recognize the actor Laurence Harvey, but, man, was he absolutely perfect for the role. He was downright mesmerizing. Angela Lansbury was a perfect villain, which was a hoot since I’ve only ever seen her in Murder, She Wrote. Frank Sinatra was great as well.
I’ve loved making my way through the AFI Top 100 list. I’ll be kind of sad when I finish it. Thankfully, AFI has plenty of other lists…
The Smithsonian is sponsoring a free museum day tomorrow…go here to search the listings and print tickets. Culture, it does a body good!
If you are a fan of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” phenom, you will love this find.
You can make your very own “Keep Calm” poster!
Some national parks that usually charge an admission fee are free this weekend. Check out the list.