In addition to being a singer/actress/director/puppeteer, I’m also a geek, which comes to mean in my mind a passion for knowing HOW stuff works (hey, I like How Stuff Works!). I’m a huge fan of the American Museum of Natural History. I am a proud member and I love all the programs and exhibits (both new and old) the museum curates. Thus, when a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence like the Transit of Venus happens, I wanted to be in the midst of fellow passionate geeks and kids (who I consider naturally-born geeks – it seems we typically lose our eagerness to learn the older we get). On June 5th, AMNH was providing a free viewing of NASA TV’s direct feed of Venus’ march across the face of the Sun (an event that won’t take place again until 2117, and I doubt I’ll make it that far), and was doing so underneath the Hayden Planetarium. It was hosted by astronomer Steve Beyer, who answered even the cutest questions – one young one asked if Venus was in danger of burning up if it was going in front of the sun – and Steve himself was introduced to the crowd by Astrophysicist and geek-crush of mine, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. It was cool to see the feed of the little, teeny-weeny image of Venus passing over the red face of the Sun, and I was excited to be part of the symbolic “viewing” party that AMNH offered the public.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson introduces the event

Venus makes an appearance. Yup, bottom lefthand corner!

On June 6th, I was happy to be able to meet up with my husband for special Birthday sushi at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants, Kodama Sushi. It’s right in the middle of midtown, and easy walking distance to many theaters (and within easy walking distance from New Dramatists, where I was rehearsing a staged reading).

The sushi bar of Kodama

Bento lunch special, which isn’t that expensive here!

Later, my husband and I (plus the in-laws) returned to AMNH to celebrate my husband’s birthday by going to the SciCafe. Held every first Wednesday of the month, the SciCafe is a free lecture-with-cash-bar event. Past themes have included Skin, Superstring Theory, Robots, and Reality itself. But they don’t talk over the layman’s head – the guest speakers break the subject down into an easily digested hour of introductory concepts, and answer both simple and more heady questions afterward. This Wednesday, the subject was “Forgetting Fear,” and the speaker of the hour, Daniela Schiller, concentrated on how the mind forms fearful memories and how ultimately phobias and memory problems like PTSD in soldiers can cause depression, anxiety, suicide and strife. Then, the speech addressed how one can work on re-programming the emotional response to these memories and learn over time how to live without their more deleterious effects. Yeah, perfect for a birthday! But we both loved the speech, and as the SciCafe series won’t return until October, it was great to share the experience with the in-laws.

In order to digest this information (and more) we went across the street to Shake Shack for a birthday dinner, and we were joined by more of Pete’s friends. I tried the vegetarian ‘Shroom Burger, which sounds healthy until you realize it’s fried and filled with cheese (but it’s delicious!!!!). I added fries and then, to stay on theme, the Natural History “Crunch-stellation” shake. The main website has nutritional values for all these items, but I think I would weep if I actually added up the numbers.

Burger and Fries. Heart monitor not included

The AMNH-sponsored “Crunch-stellation”: it was vanilla-y and chocolate-crunchy and science-y all at once!

Coming up: Chez Napoleon, “String,” “Prometheus” and Mark Janas’ 60th Birthday Bash!