Art and Science

I told Deb that “we were in for a weird day.”

She had agreed to join me at a performance art event followed by a “sensorial experience.”

Artist Oliver Herring was invited to the college campus where I work to put on his performance art event called “Areas for Action.” He spent five days on campus, creating a different art event each day. He invites the public to participate in these events by being models and helping to create scenes, which he then photographs and films.

I chose to participate in the final event, which was a Foil Ball. One volunteer with a lot of stamina sat in a chair for hours as people came in and added foil creations to her and around her.










When we arrived, a group of teenagers who had wandered in were hard at work creating the state of Idaho out of foil because that was where they were visiting from. A young girl was sitting on the ground in a foil boat that her mother was creating around her. The mother and her other child, an infant, hopped in at some point and a scene was built around them too.

Deb and I got to work, adding pieces to the main volunteer sitting in the chair. We became models ourselves when my colleague walked over with a roll of foil in hand and started creating a scene around us. He gave me what looked like a shepherd’s hook, so I declared myself a shepherdess. Deb became a soldier.










It was a fun and creative few hours. As we left, they were setting up for a closing reception soiree. Regretfully, we had to head across the river for an appointment at Le Laboratoire Cambridge. We were trying the Lab’s “sensorial experience.”








Upon arrival, a docent led us through the current exhibit, which consisted mainly of videos highlighting a few bodies of work by a group of British contemporary artists known as Random International. I was most impressed by its Rain Room, which is an installation of pouring rain that one can walk through without getting wet, due to sensors and other scientific stuff.








We were then directed to a room where we would have our sensorial experience. The experience is the brainchild of Harvard professor David Edward, who enjoys creating culinary experiments. First, we inhaled some scents through a glass tube. The scents started out as liquids that were then put through a special diffuser that changed them to inhalable clouds. (!)

I realized that I do not have a great sense of smell during the next experience, the oPhone. An iPad was connected to a little machine that pushed out different scents, which you chose on the iPad. Everything smelled the same to me. The idea is, that in the future, you could send a photo of a field of flowers to a friend on your phone, and the friend could “smell” the flowers at the same time. Whaaaaa…

Before Deb and I moved on to the next station, we were handed a lethal cocktail, a lime gimlet. We were told that the lime had been centrifuged. I don’t know if that is the reason behind it tasting a lot stronger than a regular gimlet or if we are just lightweights. But we were feeling pretty good pretty quickly.

Next, we inhaled some different powders that were supposed to give us bursts of chocolate, nutrition, or energy. I tried the chocolate, which was pretty good. But if given the choice, I would still welcome the extra calories of a real chocolate bar…

The grand finale, and my favorite part, was a Wikicells tasting. Wikicells are small balls of ice cream in edible packaging. All of the ice cream balls were composed of the same base of coconut milk, but they were encased with different flavors of “packaging,” which had the consistency of hard gel. If I recall correctly, we tried blueberry, chocolate, and caramel. I like this idea of edible packaging for environmental reasons.

Lethal gimlet and container that held the Wikicells

Lethal gimlet and container that held the Wikicells









It was an inspiring day that made me feel lucky to live in a place where I’m surrounded by seemingly limitless creativity and innovation.

Up next, keeping with the weirdness theme: I report on my first past-life regression session…


Fernando Friday

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
How many more people have to die senseless deaths in this country? The time for action is long overdue.

Final Countdown

As my friends Europe say, it’s the final countdown.

Thirty days left of being in my 30s.

Thirty days left to complete fifteen more birthday list items.



Trashed, as in Waste

I am an avid recycler. However, after watching the documentary Trashed the other night, a sense of urgency washed over me and I realized that I need to step up my game.

I have recycling down, so it’s time to focus on zero waste—that is, how can I prevent the creation of waste at the outset?

I encourage you to watch Trashed; I rented it on Netflix. The film drags along now and then, but I really appreciated the global perspective it provided. Host and producer Jeremy Irons traveled to Iceland, Indonesia, Lebanon, Vietnam (graphic content warning for this section), Wales, England, and San Francisco.

Be prepared to be shocked and appalled. I promise you, you will look at your trash can differently after you watch it. Immediate actions I’m taking include bringing a reusable mug to coffee shops and bringing my reusable bag with me everywhere. What actions will you take?

Nancy and Margaret

Well, it’s taken me almost 40 years to realize that two of my favorite hobbies were favorite hobbies of my grandmothers (whom I am named after). Are hobbies genetic?

Grandma Nancy, who died when my mother was 14, was quite the writer when she was in high school. Her writing is sprinkled throughout her senior year high school yearbook. Here’s a poem:










My mom also instilled in me a love of reading and writing. Thanks, Mom.

Not only did my dad’s mother, Grandma Peg, bake and cook up a storm, but she also worked on a variety of crafts at any given time: painting ceramics, making holiday ornaments, creating Moravian stars, fashioning magnets out of fabric.

My main craft hobby is card making, but I have also done jewelry making and have tried glass blowing and metal working. I’m looking forward to a crochet class in a few weeks. Although I’m a little intimidated because I’m left-handed.

I thought of Grandma Peg and Mom this past weekend when I took a cake decorating class at Michaels (#10 on the birthday list). Grandma sold her cakes and also worked in a grocery store bakery department later in life. For years, my dear mother made beautifully decorated Wilton birthday cakes for me and my brother.

Suffice it to say that I now fully appreciate Mom making 12 different colors of icing for my Bert and Ernie cake. I’m referring to this two-day class as bootcamp. I spent approximately 17 hours prepping for and attending the class.








I will spare you the details. But a brief overview:

On Saturday, we brought in cupcakes and learned how to use the different decorating tips and learned about the three different consistencies of icing and how to color it.

We were instructed to bring in a cake, filling, and 7 cups of colored icing in all of the consistencies on Sunday.








I was stressed because my cake was only an inch tall. The instructor suggested I make a “half-moon” cake so I could add the filling, and it worked out fine. This is yet another craft that is tricky due to my left-handedness. I saw left-handed decorating tips for sale so might try them sometime.

Here it is. And yes, I put it in a snowbank.








I’ve grown weary of the snow…when will it end???



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40 things to do on the birthday list!

BirthdayJune 1st, 2015

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