Thursday, December 21, 2006

Bigfoot Visits the Greenbrier

Last week, a friend told me about the Bigfoot Research Organization (BFRO) and their recent trip to Pocahontas County. BFRO says of itself:

As a result of the education and experience of its members and the quality of their efforts, the BFRO is widely considered as the most credible and respected investigative network involved in the study of this subject.
It seems these respected investigators had a Class 1A sighting of Bigfoot the middle of this past October. Although their West Virginia Expedition, Oct. 2006 Field Notes point out that "Bigfoot/sasquatch field research also bears a tricky responsibility...knowing which information to not release publicly, such as specific locations in sensitive areas, or any other information that could be used by people with violent intentions," their pictures and accounts show they camped in Watoga State Park, and hiked the Greenbrier River Trail, in our part of the county. In October, these parks are high traffic areas for leaf peepers and mountain bikers, and local folks (apparently including Bigfoot and family) like to get out and enjoy the pretty fall weather too. Although several of my neighbors practically live in the woods, winter and summer, without seeing anything more exotic than mountain lions, the BRFO party had no sooner stepped away from their camp site than they were assaulted by a band of rock-throwing Bigfoots (Bigfeet?).

On this expedition indicative sounds were heard each day within a five mile radius of the base camp. On Saturday night a group of thirteen (13) participants said they were approached and intimidated by 2-3 sasquatches on a trail along a tributary of the Greenbrier. The incident lasted 2 hours. During the encounter there was one brief Class A sighting by Patty Lee (NC-BFRO) when the headlamp of Olof Seaman (VA-BFRO) briefly illiminated a large sasquatch as he (Olof) moved along a trail back towards his group. Those who were present came away very excited (some were slightly traumatized) by the encounter. They were unanimously adamant that the sasquatches were trying to keep them "herded" together, by skillfully throwing large rocks in the paths of those who tried to separate and move away from the group. After two hours the activity ceased.
Peter, Paris and Neal Hammons

Now, rock-throwing primates are not in short supply locally, and word got around in the grapevine about BFRO's visit in advance. Perhaps Bigfoot overheard it in Hillsboro.

I would have advised any Bigfoot seekers to follow Burl Hammons advice and head to Fallen Timbers, at the head of the Cherry River where Pete and Paris Hammons, (pictured here) and their father, Jesse, encountered the Yayho. These men were born and raised in the woods in the mid-1800's, and lived by hunting. If they didn't know what some large animal was, it must have been a rare creature indeed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Procrastination Is the Thief of Time

I've discovered that chemistry is a lot more interesting than I thought it was when I was taking courses in college, or when I was struggling to acquire lab skills ASAP in a series of different government research facilities. It makes all the difference in the world to have time to think about the subject. That is, once again, what I don't have enough of. And yet, I find myself putting off writing my lecture notes for Thursday night. Here are some suggestions for things to do instead of chemistry "homework."

  1. Search the Internet for useful and informative Web sites concerning chemistry. (See Monday, December 4 post)
  2. Write blog posts reminiscing about college days.
  3. Write lecture notes, homework, and exams for math and Information Technology classes. (The text for the math course is called "Math and Meds." How many times have you wished you had some meds to go with your math?)
  4. Notice that the kitchen is increasingly cleaner and more orderly. How is this happening? Could this be because those short breaks for tea and snacks are not so short after all?
  5. Make mental lists of sewing pattern alterations you'd like to try, socks you need to knit, recipes you need to write down.
  6. Blog about procrastination.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Let's Get Chemical

Today was the first day we had to turn up the wood stove and burn some serious firewood this season. While I was dreaming, last month, of curling up with The Education of Henry Adams, I have instead found myself writing lecture notes for the chemistry class I'm teaching. Now, I took three years of chemistry in college, and I worked in molecular genetics labs for ten or more years, but electron orbitals, redox, and radioactive isotope decay are things I've never had to explain to anyone else. That's a whole different level of intensity, and chemistry was never a favorite topic of mine. The text for the course seemed a little thin on some topics, so today I've been digging for links to fill in my memory gaps. Here's what I've found helpful:

  • General Chemistry Online from Fred Senese of the Chemistry Department of Frostburg State University. This is an attractive, fast-loading, very complete Web resource for chemistry students. This is the first place I'll be going for references.
  • ThinkQuest Library index for Chemistry has Web pages on many chemistry topics, suitable for high school and early college students. The quality is high on the topics I've read through so far, and I was amazed to discover that these are written by students as part of a project sponsored by Oracle Education Foundation's ThinkQuest.

    ThinkQuest inspires students to think, connect, create, and share. Students work in teams to build innovative and educational websites to share with the world. Along the way, they learn research, writing, teamwork, and technology skills and compete for exciting prizes. Sponsored by the Oracle Education Foundation, the competition offers a unique project-based learning experience to students and teachers across the globe. Everybody wins by having their completed websites published in the ThinkQuest Library, a rich online resource visited by millions monthly.

  • ChemTutor is a text-based reference, with very good information. I wasn't able to find out who is responsible for it, and I found that curious. Still, it's a good resource. It describes itself thus:
    Basic chemistry help is available here for high school or college students. Chemtutor begins with the fundamentals and gives expert help with the most difficult phases of understanding your first course in chemistry. Chemtutor is not necessarily a complete text for your course or a complete outline, but we are proud to offer some insightful help in the parts of primary chemistry that have been, from our experience, the hardest for students to grasp.
  • The Biology Project from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, University of Arizona. This site includes tutorials for someone needing to review basic chemistry for the biological sciences. They are well-done, and short enough to avoid discouraging the chemo-phobe.
  • Curiosities Related to Chemistry from the Chemistry Teaching Resources, created by Knut Irgum and maintained by Svante Åberg at Umeå University, S-901 87 Umeå, Sweden. "This is an attempt to present a comprehensive list of chemistry teaching resources on the Internet." Sadly, quite a few of the links are dead, including the one I most wanted to revisit, that of some engineers at a Purdue University barbecue, lighting charcoal with liquid oxygen. Alas, it seems Perdue no longer wishes to display this early example of Internet viral video. (I first saw it about 11 years ago.) However, there are still links to alchemy, science jokes, and silly things students say to teachers. Lots of fun.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Post a Day Keeps a Body In Motion

NaBloPoMo icon

I posted something to my weblog every day in the month of November. I hope this qualifies me to display some sort of emblem of accomplishment in my template, although our intrepid facilitator is still working on this. There is also a drawing for prizes for NaBloPoMo-ers, but I am afraid the prizes just drive home to me how old, unhip, and uncool I am. Ironic sock monkeys, gourmet dog treats, and free psychic readings via phone just don't hold a lot of attraction for me. I hope the people who win these prizes enjoy and appreciate them.

For my part, this exercise made me raise the priority of my personal writing projects. I was hoping it might free up some suppressed creativity, make me see my writing in a new light, or show me some previously unidentified topic that I want to write about. As far as I can tell now, it just got me posting every day, even when I didn't really have time, or a complete idea, or something worthwhile to say. I don't see any November posts about new, intriguing topics, or special insights into anything. Wait--I have three posts about internal combustion vehicles. I've never posted about things automotive before. What can this mean? Am I trying to get in touch with my inner grease monkey? Well, anyway, it's something new for me. And consider this: November is over, and I'm writing a new post. Perhaps a habit is born.

Because I was successful with this month-long commitment to a project, I have been thinking of trying it again. I have decided that, for the month of December, I will practice a tune a day (concertina, banjo, piano accordion, whatever feels right). While I have the technology to share this over the Web, I will refrain from doing so. (The definition of a gentleman is, after all, "A man who can play the accordion, but doesn't.") I might, if it seems the least bit interesting, list my December tunes in weekly blog entries.