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Visiting the Beneski Museum of Natural History at Amherst College

My son and I recently visited the Beneski Museum of Natural History on the Amherst College campus. Another hidden gem in the Pioneer Valley. We went on a summer weekday and nearly had the place to ourselves, which I liked, being able to linger over exhibits.

Mammoth skeleton.

I felt like I could get a lot closer to the reconstructed skeletons than I can in other natural history museums. We got much better views of skeletal details and a better sense of the scale of these animals.

An actual dire wolf skeleton, for Game of Thrones fans.

If dinosaur tracks are your thing, there is an extensive collection of those.

Dinosaur tracks.

Do not miss out on the drawers! There are drawers throughout with smaller fossils, etc. that are very cool.

Open the drawers to find more treasures. Don’t be shy!
Ammonite fossil cross-section.

There are very well-explained exhibits on our local geology and how fossils are formed. In fact, I didn’t have enough time to fully explore those, and I need to go back.

Oh, and admission is free! What are you waiting for?

Filming a Conference for DVD Sales

I noted in a previous post that I had filmed a conference for the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT). The topic was “Tangled Truths: Helping Couples Recover from Sexual Trauma”. It featured presenters and panelists from across the state. Northampton-based Yana Tallon-Hicks presented on human sexual development and education, and Easthampton-based Mike Lew talked about his experience working with men who have been victims of sexual abuse.

As always when I am filming conferences, it’s like continuing education for me. I learned a lot about the valuable and heroic work being done with survivors of sexual trauma. I was most impressed by the therapists’ respect and honoring of those survivors for their bravery in dealing with their trauma.

Yana Tallon-Hicks, MSW and pleasure-positive sex educator & writer, addresses the conference.

I filmed two lectures and a panel discussion that day and created a DVD for MAMFT. They are going to make the DVDs available for purchase through their website.

From the MAMFT website: “We are the professional association for the field of marriage and family therapy in the state of Massachusetts…We represent the professional interests of 450 marriage and family therapists throughout the state of Massachusetts.“

Smith College Conference Center

This year I had the opportunity to film a conference for the Massachusetts Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (MAMFT). The conference was held at the recently renovated Smith College Conference Center. The center overlooks the campus gem, Paradise Pond, near the spillway, which makes for a very tranquil setting.

MAMFT Panel at the Conference.

Filming conferences is always personally rewarding for me, because I am always learning something new. Technically, each one presents a different challenge. For this conference, there were two individual lectures (one with a powerpoint presentation) and a panel discussion with 5 presenters, along with some projected video clips. It helps when the conference center runs smoothly and is technologically up-to-date!

From their website: “For groups from five to 300 people, the Smith College Conference Center gives its guests unparalleled customer service and value. Several rooms of varied sizes are available for your meeting, conference, lecture, retreat or special occasion. Equipped with the latest audio/visual capabilities and an on-site, professional-scale kitchen, the Conference Center offers accessible solutions for all your event needs.”

Brad Hall’s Salty Advice to Williston Graduates

Brad Hall sings advice to graduates.

Gearing up to film Williston Northampton’s convocation in a couple of weeks. You probably didn’t know that Brad Hall, a Saturday Night Live alum, is also a Williston Northampton alum. I was filming the Williston commencement a couple of years ago when Mr. Hall came back to campus to give the commencement address.

Capping off a very entertaining talk, Mr. Hall got out his guitar and left the students with some memorable musical advice. He brought down the house.

 

Filming Focus Groups

I recently filmed a series of focus groups for the company Brooks Adams, out of Richmond, VA. The focus groups met at the Lathrop Community in Easthampton, MA. I learned a lot about independent and assisted living options for folks 55 and older. I found the Lathrop Community to be very unique due to their commitment to lifelong learning for residents and their association with the Quaker-run Kendal Corporation.

Aerial View of Lathrop Campus in Easthampton, from Lathrop website.

From their website: “Brooks Adams from GlynnDevins offers senior living communities customized research, sales and consulting services to help you make smarter business decisions.” My wife worked in the training field for many years, and so I’ve picked up on what makes for a great facilitator. The staff from Brooks Adams were terrific and ran a very efficient focus group.

Childs Park Wedding Video

I had the opportunity recently to film a wedding in Childs Park, Northampton, MA. This was the first time I had filmed in Childs Park, and the setting was beautiful. The ceremony took place near the garden house and the formal garden, where everything was in bloom. The bride and groom wrote their own vows, and much Motown was played at the reception. I can’t post the highlight video due to music copyright restrictions, but here are some stills.

Podcamp Newbie

I spent most of my Saturday at PodCamp Western Mass 6 at the Kittredge Center at Holyoke Community College.

Podcamp Newbie
That’s me in the lower right, in a session led by Adrian Dahlin.

Great first session with Jon Reed on creating content for social media—lots of great tips shared around the room.  Next, Val Nelson led a session on finding your social media sweet spot.  After lunch, Steve Sherlock led a session on how to write a blog post (using his photo below).  Adrian Dahlin of the Conway School facilitated a session on social media challenges for non-profits.  Finally, Paul Bogush led a session on body language and interpreting non-verbal communication.

I learned a lot in every session and would enthusiastically encourage anyone who wants to improve and/or share their experience with social media to attend a podcamp.

Here’s more info on PodCamps.

Look Park Improvements

Took a walk around Look Park in Northampton today after dropping off my kids’ carpool at school. I haven’t been there for a while, and didn’t realize the the Willow Lake dredging project had already been completed. The lake now looks to be in great shape. The bandshell by the lake makes a great location for weddings, if you’re looking for a beautiful spot outdoors. And if you don’t want to travel to another location on your big day, the Look Park Garden House is a great place to have a reception.

Look Park

Compassionate Conditioning

In an effort to help you out with your New Year’s resolutions, I recommend Lynne Marie Wanamaker. If you’re looking for a personal fitness trainer, she’s the best, especially if you feel guilty about last year’s resolutions. She totally gets it, she’s non-judgmental, and she really knows how to tailor a program to fit your needs.

Schneider Plumbing & Heating

I have to recommend Schneider Plumbing & Heating of Haydenville. Bob Schneider came out and fixed our non-working boiler the day before Thanksgiving, with just a day’s notice. He was prompt, explained everything, and fixed the problem in about half an hour. We were able to tidy the house and prepare our feast in comfort. And we were relieved that our guests wouldn’t have to keep their coats on!

You can find his contact info on Angie’s List.

Bat Mitzvah Video

On Saturday, I was in Florence, MA taping Olivia’s Bat Mitzvah. The service was at Beit Ahavah (they use the Florence Congregational Church), and the reception was at Mill 1 at Open Square in Holyoke.

It’s always nice to return to Beit Ahavah. Rabbi Riqi Kosovske leads an inspiring service. It was my first time at Mill 1 in Holyoke, and I enjoyed videotaping in the space, which is a large, open, brick-walled room in an old factory building. Klezamir provided great music, there were games for the kids, and there was a photo corner where the kids could get pictures taken while dressed up in crazy accessories.

Amazing Designer

Just finished up a quick video for an amazing Northampton designer, Jon Schluenz. Jon does fantastic interior design and artwork, and needed a video to apply for a reality design show.

Check out his website if you need interior design work and to see some of his artwork. He also recently curated an art show at Whoo Space in Northampton.