March 29th, 2006

Critters

Quick Weekend Summary

The Smoosh attended Florida Poly Retreat this weekend in Brooksville.

In short, it rocked. We got to see many friends whom we hadn't seen in years, attended some very informative and entertaining panels and workshops (damn fine job by everyone!), and generally had a great time.

The Smoosh even moderated a discussion on meeting individual needs in a group relationship, which went surprisingly well. I must admit that I was nervous about being at the center of attention, but the conversation flowed easily and naturally. I got a lot out of it, though I think that I can summarize my take on it as "don't be afraid to tell your loved ones that you need to devote more time to building kill-bots". :-)

Speaking of killing things, FPR is the only polyamory conference in the world that features siege engines! tacit led a workshop where we built a trebuchet. Needless to say, hilarity ensued, and many rocks and softballs were flung. :-)

Later, tacit, zensidhe, and I decided to take advantage of the encroaching darkness to fling glow sticks. We went to the dollar store to get glow sticks and various other odds and ends, and ended up having an unpleasant run in with the police. :-(

Long story, but suffice to say that no charges were pressed, nobody was arrested, and the only thing worse than a cop in Brooksville is a skittish dollar store clerk in Brooksville. *sigh* As much as I'd love to blame the whole incident on tacit, the fact remains that it was completely caused by zensidhe and I being boisterous. That and the locals being ignorant.

Another high point (for me anyway) was serolynne's panel on Transhumanism and Polyamory. I think that the topic was a bit out of the box for many of the attendees, but it's a start. It also gave me a better understanding of likely discussion points when broaching the topic of transhumanism with people not familiar with the topic.

I also got to see an indie documentary called "Women in Love", as well as the first episode of HBO's "Big Love". (Obligatory Wikipedia entry here.)

All in all it was a tremendously worthwhile weekend. serolynne has left some big shoes to fill, but the entire staff completely had their stuff together, so I'm confident that this will continue to raise the bar on poly conferences, and also hopefully become an honest-to-awesomeness annual event. :-)
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Mad Scientist

I see dead people...

Last night I held a human brain in my hand.

Actually, I held one in each hand.

No, I'm not kidding, nor am I being metaphorical.

femetal and I went to MOSI last night to see the much-publicized and somewhat controversial BODIES... The Exhibition exhibit. Wow. Just... wow.

The exhibit, which is as educational as it is morbid and creepifying, features cadavers that have undergone plastination, allowing them to be posed and preserved. They're dissected in various (and absolutely amazing) ways to allow clear views of the internal workings. Ever wonder what breast cancer or a brain aneurism actually look like? I know, because I've seen them. Ever see an entire circulatory system, minus the fleshy bits and bones, or the major components of the nervous system on their own? This is the place to go. I really can't speak highly enough of it. I've seen anatomy texts, models, and such, but there really is nothing like looking at the real deal when it comes to learning tools. Nothing else conveys the elegance, complexity, and fragility of the human form to such a degree.

It's very clinical and scientific (though some of the poses definitely cross far into the realm of 'art', and even comedy), but it isn't for the squeemish. When we walked into the first big room of the exhibit I felt like I was walking into an automobile showroom, except that displaying cars it was displaying the workings of the body in a very mechanistic way. However, these are still corpses.

Strangely, it wasn't until we got to the room focusing on the nervous system, with brains in various states of disassembly, that I started to get a real gut sense that these are (or were) people. That brain in the case lived a full life, had interests and hobbies, aspirations and hopes, and is now reduced to a museum artifact. What meaning should I draw from this? I saw a severed penis. How am I supposed to feel about that?

The specimens where the cause of death is obvious, like stroke or emphysema, are a little sad. Someone suffered. Someone died. Now here I am looking at them with cold fascination. Weird.

It's kind of funny what you can tell about someone by just glancing at part of their remains. This guy worked out a lot. That girl was short. That other guy had a big dick. Those people over there obviously smoked (smokers are super easy to spot when you can see their lungs!). All of them are dead now.

They had a lovely tattoo on display. Just the tattoo. It was a piece of skin about the size of a sheet of notebook paper (it appeared to be almost as thin!), cut from a cadaver like a Predator's trophy. It was back lit, which gave it a translucent, stained-glass appearance.

At the end of the exhibit are a couple of hands-on specimens. That's how I ended up with a brain in each hand. I wonder what they would've thought of that?

Moral of the story: Don't smoke. Smoking causes you to be chopped up into 50 pieces and laid out in a cabinet. :-)

One missing thing that I thought would've been cool- a specimen posed laying on the ground, arms shielding the face as a terminator endoskeleton, plasma rifle in hand, stands over it.

Maybe someday. ;-)
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