Tuesday, October 19, 2010

New York, NEW YORK!

The first thing that you need to know about Corning, New York, where I am currently sitting in a hotel room, is that it is a 500 bazillion hour drive* from my home in New Hampshire.

(*estimated drive time)

You may also be interested to hear that there is an entire museum here dedicated to glass (yes, as in Corningware, Corning, NY - get it?) and there is a lovely downtown area with coffee shops, art galleries and at least a dozen stores that purport to sell "Country Crafts" or some variant thereof.

The most important thing to know about the town of Corning is that the Vegetable Samosas and the Palak Paneer at the Thali of India Restaurant are unimaginable delicious and palate damagingly spicy. I've no doubt that the lingering scent of my dinner will remain in my hotel room long after I have departed. As will the echos of my screams from its spicy deliciousness.

I was invited to Corning by The Alternative School for Math and Science, which, you may be interested to know, is an alternative school that focuses on math and science. I waltzed in and gave a few quick, snappy lessons on advanced particle physics and really wowed them.

The school is a small private middle school with a fun staff and a bunch of very nice kids. I don't often have an opportunity to visit middle school, but when I do, I mention it to friends who invariably say, "You're going to a MIDDLE SCHOOL?" as if I had just informed them that I was planning on taking a long, splashy swim through shark infested waters wearing a bacon bathing suit.

(Note: I do not own a bacon bathing suit.)

It seems that middle school kids in general scare the pants off of most adults. If they knew how much they frightened most adults, they would take over the world and probably force us all to get our hair cut like Justin Bieber or something.

In my personal experience, I have found middle school kids to be funny and very pleasant. Sure they dress weird and have bad hair and smell kind of funny, but so do I.
Especially since my pungent Indian dinner.
Did I mention already how delicious that was?

So, as expected, my time at this middle school today was delightful. And the kids–those terrifying, monstrous middle school kids–sat patiently when, about 2 seconds before my presentation, the bulb burned out in my LCD projector. They sat patiently as several staff members scrambled to find a replacement projector for me. They sat patiently as the 8 month pregnant tech-teacher quickly and efficiently switched projectors and got me up and running again.

Then, they sat patiently when, 4 minutes later, the second projector failed and we had to try yet again.

The kids didn't hoot and holler and try to steal my soul through a hole they chewed in my chest as so many of my peers seem to think middle school kids would do. They sat and chatted quietly with their friends and occasionally offered helpful advice like, "Try wiggling the cord thingie."

I assumed that they had covered electrical engineering in their science classes already, so I took their advice.

It worked.

I'm looking forward to my day at the school tomorrow, knowing that if I do have any technical problems, the kids can tell me which cord thingie I should be wiggling.

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