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Cosmos' Doggie Blog

cosmos-blog_rh-fleet_girls-science-club1Just as your pups finish chewing through all the new toys they received as holiday gifts, along comes several Balboa Park museums to throw you a bone and lend you hand. This Saturday, January 8, the Museum of Photographic Arts, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, and Air & Space Museum are each offering unique opportunities for youngsters and their families to get out of the house and learn some new tricks.

 

For starters, the Museum of Photographic Arts is offering a free Family Film Day (with suggested donation) at 1pm. The featured flick is the recent release, How to Train Your Dragon. In addition to being an entertaining film, it can teach young pet owners the importance of treating all animals, including any new family members adopted over the holidays, with kindness and respect.

 

Another park event this Saturday with Hollywood film ties is the Reuben H. Fleet’s Saturday Science Club for Girls, from 12 to 2pm. This month’s installment, titled “Magic for Muggles,” will show girls, grades 5–8, how to conjure up scientific spells worthy of any budding wizard attending Hogwarts Academy (pre-registration required). Also at the Fleet, additional hands-on activities in the Snow Science Discovery Lab from 1 to 3pm will reveal the magic behind ice cream and snow crystal making (and I hope eating).

 

And for more interactive science fun, be sure to stop by the Air & Space Museum’s Family Day, titled “Recycled Robots.” Mad scientists of all ages, grade schoolers through teens, will be shown how to create imaginative robots using household recyclables, including any that have teeth marks in them.

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While many people greet the New Year as an opportunity to forget the past one, it’s also a time that we must say “adios” to some of the year’s best exhibitions. Fortunately, this week gives my two-legged friends one last chance to dig themselves out of a hole and see what they’ve been missing. Here are the highlights:

 

cosmos-blog_rh-fleet_hubbleThe Science of Aliens (through Jan 2). It seems like only yesterday rumors of little green men invading the Air & Space museum started swirling. Over the past 11 months we’ve learned that they were probably just figments of the collective (human) imagination, though scientists still believe that life on other planets is highly possible. This exhibition shows what it may even look like.

 

Toulouse-Lautrec’s Paris (through Dec 31). The San Diego Museum of Art’s complete collection of the French master’s posters is renowned worldwide. However, due to conservation concerns, it can only be exhibited for short periods. This may be your last opportunity to see all of Toulouse-Lautrec’s colorful works in one place for a very long time (and we’re not talking dog years).

 

Viva Mexico — Heroes and Artisans (through Jan 2). If it was anything, 2010 was the year of Mexico, which celebrated the bicentennial of its independence and centennial of its revolution. The Mingei International Museum commemorated these milestones with a large and diverse exhibition of Mexican folk art along with a unique display of Tequila Bottles As Art. I’ll drink to that!

 

Hubble (through Dec 31). Though not an exhibition per se, the breathtaking images shot by the giant space telescope featured in this IMAX film at the Reuben H. Fleet would fill every museum in Balboa Park (well almost). This adventure film allows audiences to ride shotgun with a team of Shuttle astronauts as they risk it all to prevent Hubble from going dark—forever.

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While the holidays bring many presents to pups both naughty and nice, there is no substitute for those gifts that everyone in your pack can enjoy together. Fortunately, San Diego’s massive cultural theme park, Balboa Park, doesn’t require your out-of-town guests to sit up and beg for the kinds of treats that will ensure they remember their holiday visit fondly.

 

cosmos-blog_poinsettia-display-2010Poinsettia Display With this week’s Poinsettia Bowl in town, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the best place to pay homage to the venerable holiday flower is in Balboa Park’s always free Botanical Building. Boosters of any team will enjoy seeing hundreds of red and white poinsettia plants ornately arranged amid hundreds of other botanical treasures.

 

The Park Multiplex — Looking for some of the most innovative technologies in filmmaking? Then you’re in the right place. For instance, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (open Christmas Day) boasts a recently upgraded domed IMAX screen, the Natural History Museum presents gargantuan dinosaurs and exotic excursions in eye-popping 3D, and the Air & Space Museum adds an immersive 4D experience to family-friendly animated 3D shorts.

 

LEGO Train Exhibit — Though it may not be the region’s largest LEGO display, it is certainly the most affordable way to view an expansive and elaborately detailed model train environment, colorfully created in the popular building block. Families will also enjoy exploring the Model Railroad Museum’s many other miniature railways.

 

Passports and Day Pass — If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the choices 14 different museums all clustered together pose, fear not! The Balboa Park Passport lets each person sample all of them in a week’s time for $45 ($24 for children) at a 50% savings, and the Stay-for-the-Day Pass grants entry to five different museums on the same day for only $35.

 

Happy holidays from your favorite canine blogger!

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The results of the Kid’s-Eye View of the Park Photo Contest are in, and win or lose, the contest served its purpose well: not only did it encourage youngsters (6–17) to explore every nook and cranny of Balboa Park’s vast cultural playground, but it produced a number of stunning images that show old dogs new ways of seeing the Park’s historic buildings, flora, and fauna.

 

While I congratulate the six winners and tip my cap to the runner ups and all other participants, I would like to highlight a few submissions that a fellow diminutive creature like me can especially relate to.

 

This photo by second-place winner Emily (age 6) reminds me of how essential urban parklands are for sustaining the wide variety of critters whose habitats are dwindling. I also think I know this squirrel personally, though it’s hard to tell because they all look the same to me. 

cosmos-blog_kids-eye-photo-contest_emily_squirrel

 

 In Ryan’s (age 13) description of his photo, he points out, “when you look closely you will see a teddy bear riding on a pony.” Now if that isn't inspiration to look for the all nuances in the beauty that surrounds us and to imagine, I don't know what is!

cosmos-blog_kids-eye-photo-contest_ryan_fountain

 

This great shot from Leah (age 6) shows my readers what I often see when I look up as I go about my business in the Park:

cosmos-blog_kids-eye-photo-contest_leah_bamboo

 

Last but not least, Natalie (age 6) took the words right out of my mouth when she explained her photo by simply stating, “I just wanted to walk this way!”

cosmos-blog_kids-eye-photo-contest_natalie_water-steps

 

Be sure to check out the contest winners page to view all the winning submissions as well as the runner ups.

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From the time of my very first visits to Balboa Park many years ago, I often detected bits and pieces of conversations from humans I couldn’t see. Assuming it was just my hypersensitive canine sense of hearing picking up sounds echoing off canyon walls and park buildings, I didn’t give it much thought.

 

However, during a recent walk south from the Old Globe to the Alcazar Garden and then through Palm Canyon, I started hearing the voices of three different people that somehow seemed connected—but again, people I couldn’t see.

 

cosmos-blog_giskin-anomaly-survey_pandoraNot long after that, I noticed a man and a woman wearing round orange badges walking around these same areas with strange listening devices. Soon orange stakes with numbers on them started to appear near some of my favorite sniffing spots.

 

A quick Google search of “Balboa Park voices” led me to this intriguing website, http://www.giskin.org/, that describes a secret research effort, called the Giskin Anomaly Survey Project, to detect and record the mysterious story these voices, or “thought imprints,” from the past tell.

 

Relieved to know I wasn’t losing my mind, or hearing things, I called the number listed and posed as Drake, one of the researchers. By punching in the numbers printed on the orange stakes I found, I’ve been able to hear more clearly the actual recordings of these voices.

 

So far, they all seem to center around the activities of U.S. Navy personnel in the Park during the Second World War, circa 1942. More stakes are appearing weekly, and I will continue to track this exciting adventure as it unfolds!

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