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Minerva Week 23: Therapy, Earthquakes and Geckos

March 16, 2015

This week, I had dog therapy, experienced two (fake) earthquakes and saw all sorts of critters. I also FINALLY GOT OVER MY LINGERING FLU AND COLD. The cute dog in the picture below is Zola, a bonafide therapy dog. Usually, she visits people who are in the hospital, but she made a special trip to the residence hall to meet with us. My own golden retriever is thousands of miles away (he also had a cold recently, so I think we’re more connected than I thought), so I really appreciated the chance to have a warm, furry and cuddly friend around for a while.
This week I learned about ocean microbes (though there is still so much to learn!), the economics of tradeoffs (on average, weekly hours worked have decreased and real wages have increased since the 1870s… in the UK at least!), retold Cinderella, and tried to use algorithms to optimize pairings of people. Fantastic stuff.
On Friday, I attended a session on Charisma with an interesting character called Ali Binazir, a doctor turned dating coach. I was unsure of what I was in for, but I really enjoyed it! My favourite part was an exercise where we had to imagine that we were 50 feet tall (the size of Godzilla), stomping around the city, and then imagine ourselves, still this gigantic size, relaxing on the beach. According to Ali, this was what appearing strong really meant – having the power of a giant but keeping it confidently and comfortably coiled inside you. It made me laugh to picture myself stomping around SF.

Art credit: georgegamewatch

Today, I went to the California Academy of Sciences. I’ve been meaning to go there for a while, and it just happened that it was free admission day for residents of Nob Hill! The stars had aligned, so how could I resist? The entire museum is stunning, but what captured my attention first was an earthquake simulator. Luckily, I haven’t experienced a bad earthquake (or any earthquake at all) here in SF. Perhaps it’s bad to wish for one, but I am curious about what it would feel like! This simulator gave me a vague idea. The two most recent serious earthquakes (1901 and 1989) were simulated in a little fake living room. I was shocked by how serious the 1901 earthquake was! Here’s a picture of the simulation room before the 1901 quake ran. It was dark in the room because the quake struck at 5 am or so.

Next, I went to the rainforest biodome. A spiralling walkway took me up through the different levels of the forest. There were butterflies and small birds flying around at the top. I saw snakes, frogs, lizards, bugs and fish. I loved trying to spot the creature in the glass exhibit case. It was like playing I Spy. It took a different kind of focus and patience. Some of the frogs looked so stoic that they cracked me up.

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I hope you aren’t too put off by that spider. It would probably fit comfortably in the palm of my hand. The exhibit information told me that these spiders are born knowing how to spin their webs. Isn’t that incredible?

Next week is a short one, as we have a makeshift spring break coming up. I’ll be heading to Yosemite with a great group of students. I’ll take lots of pictures and tell you all about it when we are back.

Until then, take care!

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