Saturday, January 06, 2007

1/6/2007 - Big feet to fill

Well, now that I am in the Northwest, I am in Sasquatch territory. I mention this because I just listened to a Science Friday piece with a professor (possibly in Idaho) who does his work on looking for Sasquatches in the area. A couple of snippets from the show give you a feel for the guy:

  • He was an expert in footprints before he fell in with the Sasquatch crowd
  • What drew him to the research was footprints he was shown that looked neither fake nor like anything identifiable
  • He is largely tolerated by his school, which supports his right to research without implying that they share his convictions

He does not claim that Sasquatch exists; he merely researches the possibility with hope that he will someday find incontrovertible evidence.

Something I found interesting about the program: The host asked him why we have no run-ins with sasquatches if they exist in large enough numbers to propagate the species. A fair question I thought. The answer was that: we do have plenty of run-ins. Given the low population density of the areas in which sasquatch are thought to inhabit, there are plenty of folks who think they saw footprints, or even really large humanoids.

Why does that interest me? Because it sounds incredibly like the debate over the presence of mountain lions in Northern New England. While this debate is a little less fantastical, it has the same feel and is admitted by all to be inconclusive. There have been no lion carcasses found in New England for 50 years. The only known lions in America are far away in Florida and the Northwest (of course). But folks in the region affected have tons of stories of seeing footprints or really big cats.

Some of the sightings turned out to be wildly different animals (raccoons, cows) but eventually, someone found some veritable lion skat (or poop, as we call it in my household). Of course it was possible to do so because the scientists could compare the evidence to that of other known mountain lions. There's really nothing comparable for poor little sasquatch. Also, it should be pointed out that we have never discounted the possibility that a single mountain lion escaped from some zoo -- that there are no indigenous mountain lions in New England.

Two final thoughts from the program: First, there is another bizarre piece of evidence for Sasquatch in the Northwest. There is a tape. One can find it on youtube. It is about 16 seconds long and sure looks like a man in a monkey suit walking upright. The speaker on NPR said: "it looks a lot like a man in a monkey suit until you look at a man in a monkey suit." Apparently, in the enhanced version of the tape, you can see muscles and shoulder blades move. I watched the unenhanced version of the video. I can't.

Second, Jane Goodall (yes, that Jane Goodall) was asked about Sasquatch on a prior Science Friday. Her answer? She sure wishes they existed.

Me, too. That would be cool.

At rest

Is my eldest Jewish? Perhaps. Let's examine the evidence.

First, there is his kippah, which he has taken to. We started encouraging him to wear it everyday a few weeks ago. I had a pessimistic feeling that he wouldn't like it. I was wrong. He sometimes reminds me to get it for him when he is getting it dressed and leaves it on all day. He really likes it and I can't quite say why. Only one other boy at his daycare wears one. And me. We've had so much success with the Eldest that we have started encouraging the toddler to wear his, with some success.

Second, there is the fact that he walks around singing prayers and songs at the top of his lungs. He likes to sing and certainly sings non-Jewish songs as well. But he often can be found singing Grace after meals or the Hannukah song. I'm not sure how I feel about his belting out these prayers while in the bathroom.

But perhaps the strongest evidence is that he walks around saying things like:

"Does he know that I'm Jewish? Dad, I'm not sure he knows that I'm Jewish." Given that he said such a thing after someone wished him a Happy Hannukah, I think there is a basic concept that he doesn't quite get. That's okay. I imagine this phase will pass on its own.


I recently set up a project for myself, which I can imagine taking me years to delve into. I created template that includes 7 categories of ratings for each president:

  • Doing things that I approve of
  • Extra curricular activities
  • Legacy
  • Popularity
  • Financial policy
  • Leadership
  • external metrics

Whenever I hear (or think of) something interesting, I tag a couple of points (or negative points) on to the President's score. For example, I might give Jefferson 20 points for authoring the Declaration of independence or Jimmy Carter -5 points for calling it "apartheid." My goal is eventually be able to rank all of the presidents in my own, totally subjective, opinion.

Some friends have asked me whether past presidents call me up, looking to ensure their positive review. They don't. Thanks for asking.

24,500 big steps today. Cheers,


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