Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Libyan Eclipse

Buxton (center), Stockman (left) and Tver (right)
Jim Buxton came dressed for the part, complete with head- protective turban and Qahdaffy T-shirt, to share his slides and Quicktime movies of his in-the-desert experience. I won't go into much detail except to say the next one is in Mongolia (I hope Jim and his wife might afford to go).

Back in the alcove, I absorbed a real time mathcast from David Feinstein, based on his recent middle school teaching in Sacramento. His style of pedagogy is amazingly effective. In this case, he had Shomar in the classroom, his giant dog, which trained kids to reel in their focus (from such a wonderful animal) and refocus on command -- a new skill for them.

David agreed in principle he was available as on-camera talent when doing such gigs, at which point I rubbed my hands together and looked shifty-eyed (seeking my krew?).

At one point in Jim's talk, I jumped in with that picture from off the "time capsule" in our living room (an art deco stack of cylindrical shelves), that one of dad in the 1960s, his team assembled, maps in the background, working on 50 year timelines for Libyan development.

Libya hired a crack team as soon as it became apparent that urban and regional planning were real disciplines, not just pie in the sky distant futurist talk. Portland had already learned that lesson, and has reaped many benefits (as has Libya, over the years).

Other countries my dad worked for in a planning capacity, besides the USA: Philippines, Egypt, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Lesotho.

In these latter two, I was already doing a gig around polyhedra, and guest presented to school children to rave reviews. I also wrote A Bhutanese Mathematics Curriculum with a hexapent on the cover, gave a copy to Father Mackey SJ. These were my early days as a curriculum writer and I feel I've gotten much better at it since then (but what a lucky beginning eh?).

Jim's and his wife's Libyan experience was quite joyful and they were appreciative of all the hospitality extended to visiting non-nationals. And I'm willing to bet that little patch of desert had never seen such a concentration of high tech cameras and telescopes, for both movies and stills, though at least one lady just sat there, meditating peacefully through the whole event, just taking it all in.