It's been an interesting couple of days.
Yesterday, I went on a field trip with my Forensic Science students to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI) in Raleigh. That was a really neat trip. They do tours once a month, and we were one of 5 groups of people their staff took on tours. Our tour guide was a firearms and ballistics expert named Beth. We went to her office, and she told us a little of what she does, and showed us some of her work. One of the students is planning on doing her final project on bullets and ballistics and such, which was really good for her; she was able to make a good contact, and I hope she takes advantage of that. We also saw an amazing collection of guns, and the fellow in charge of that collection claimed that all of them worked, even the handmade ones (including a potato gun made from PVC pipe), and that 99% of those guns were used in homicides. There were a few rare ones in the collection, including some that dated back to World War I. Fascinating. Not something I'd want to be near, but fascinating nontheless. We got the chance to go to the firing range as well, quite a smelly place actually, very chemical smell to it, and were shown a couple of boxes which were useful for analyzing the bullets - both a wet box and a cotton box. Pretty neat. Still not something I'd want to be near, however.
We also visited the Documents and Digital Evidence section, which included tours of the Questioned Documents, Digital Evidence, Computer Analysis, and Videotape Analysis Units. We also visited the Latent Evidence section as well, and saw the areas where fingerprints were analyzed, as well as footwear and tire tread designs were examined.
I would have wanted to see the Drug Chemistry and Toxicology section, but time ran short - the tour took 2.5 hours, and there was still more we could have seen. Beth was a gracious and informative hostess, and we were glad she took her entire morning to spend time with us. I certainly hope the students found the tour as interesting and fascinating as I did.
As for today - I got in touch with my Inner Filipino. It is so incredibly nice to hear Tagalog being spoken in my presence once again. I'm glad those around me didn't feel obligated to speak English around me - I think they figured out that I understood what they were saying when I responded, appropriately, to conversation around me. I'm just sorry I still don't have my singing voice back - I've been telling people I currently have the vocal range of a teaspoon. I don't think it even spans a full octave, but I honestly should not even be trying it. The voice is still rather fragile.
So we had a bit of a choir practice. The Filipino Choir has plans to sing at the annual Fil-Am Gala that occurs in December. In addition, I believe they always sing at a Misa de Gallo Mass. Yes, I know, tradition dictates it's a Novena and nine of them should be celebrated before Christmas, but it takes time for such a tradition to take root, and we've been doing the one Mass, generally the Saturday of the 3rd or 4th week of Advent, depending on where Christmas falls.
After the choir practice was done, we went off to the home of ... well, I don't really know them, but I've seen them around other Filipino gatherings. Their son, Gabriel, just celebrated his First Communion, and the party was your typical Filipino gathering ... well, instead of the mah-jongg and tong-its tables, you had the wide-screen TV in the living room, tuned to The Filipino Channel, which is ABS-CBN's media outlet to the worldwide Filipino Diaspora. Funny - when I went to a similar type of gathering in Toronto (not for a First Communion, but for a Baptism), I found a similar scenario: food, lots of it, kids running around every which way but loose, and The Filipino Channel blaring in the living room. I guess TFC has replaced the alcohol- and smoke-laden gambling tables. Suits me just fine, IMHO.
Naturally, the hostess gave everyone a souvenir keepsake: a votive candle, packaged in a clear plastic box, tied with a blue ribbon with a little tag: Gabriel, First Communion, May 3, 2008. I smiled - at least, some things never change amongst Filipinos. I felt like I was at home.
I love Filipinos. :-)