To start, I'd like to apologize once again for not checking in more frequently, but everything just gets so busy and certain things slip my mind.
William and Mary was good to me. This semester was an exciting time for me. I've been fortunate with my Radio Show, starting with Former Atlanta Mayor, UN Diplomat, and leader in the Civil Rights movement, Andrew Young. Then, through a series of emails and being at the right place and right time, I was able to interview former Secretary of Defense, President of Texas A&M, President of the Boy Scouts of America, Bob Gates who was very surprised to start an interview with my telling him my dad also graduated from Wichita High School East, two years after he did. Most recently I've interviewed the founder of the St. Andrews/William and Mary Joint Degree program and will shortly travel up to Athens, GA to interview Stephen Corey, the head editor of the GA Review, and our topic will be poetry. To listen to any of those interviews check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/peter-myer
Apropos of poetry, I've been writing a decent amount of poetry and have talked to a few publishers about publishing, so hopefully in the next year or so I'll have any or all of my poems published somewhere. As always I've been keeping up my piano and plan on recording some this summer in the studio with a bunch of friends... and hopefully I'll be able to share that with you later in the summer. I've really been into the Blues lately, specifically Ray Charles, Champion Jack Dupree, and Oscar Peterson. If you haven't heard my recordings from Christmas - Ivories, check it out: https://soundcloud.com/peter-myer-259967084
I've decided to return to St. Andrews for my third year, and then return to William and Mary for my senior year for a few reasons: first of all, all of my friends I've started with in the program and going back for their third year, and I wanted to be in sequence with them. Also, I think that the senior year festivities at William and Mary, especially with the fraternity, are not to be missed. It's interesting, there seems to be a common trend with those who start the program at St. Andrews tend to go back and forth each year and those who begin at William and Mary tend to start there, spend two consecutive years at St. Andrews, and then finish at William and Mary. I guess that American collegiate experience of the final year is a rare time, and no one wants to miss out. During spring break I visited my friends in St. Andrews and stayed with them (and saw the house in which I'll be living), and I couldn't be more excited to live with four of my closest friends. I also want to be in the states during my senior year because any graduate school details would be much more difficult to deal with in terms of communication and availability when 5 hours time difference and 3000 miles gets in the way.
At times, the academics were so demanding, I could hardly stand it. Grinding seemed to be on repeat, with little room for breathing, but dad says that although that may be true, there is always an end in sight.
Beta (my fraternity) went to Virginia Beach for formal, and even though it was too cold to get in the water, I had an absolute blast. It was exactly that same time in April of last year when I thought to myself "Man, I really love it here, and all the people" and I feel the same way this April. But I have a return to look forward to.
My summer plans are as follows. Well, I returned in time for Benjamin's graduation, and he'll be attending Wofford College with a partial scholarship and I couldn't be more proud. Jack has also finished his certificate for GIS, at Ga State, and has been accepted into a two year masters program for geology at Ga State. In addition to that being paid for, he's been offered a teaching assistants position, only offered to a third of the accepted applicants. He's doing big things as always. But after Ben's graduation, Edward Vear, Michael Henley and I journeyed to Yosemite National Park for one of the most incredible weeks of my life, hiking in the Sierra that inspired John Muir when writing My First Summer in the Sierra. We had to obtain a wilderness permit 26 weeks in advance for a couple of reasons. First of all, the national park system doesn't want to overpopulate the parks, so 80% of all those who hike in Yosemite must obtain these wilderness permits while the remaining 20% are reserved for walk ups. Also, the wilderness permits allows the park staff to keep track of those who hit the trails with specific entry and exit dates.
We arrived on Sunday May 16th, stayed with a friend of mine in San Francisco, who very kindly picked us up from the airport. We got to the park after a series of Amtrak trains, and bus lines, where we then picked up our bear canisters, and hit the trail.
To start, we each had 50 lb bags, but little did we know that scaling over 5 miles up the mist trail would be our first day.... Let's just say we struggled. Our two goals for the first day were to arrive at the campsite before dark and before it rained... And we failed with both. But we were happy to be there when we arrived at Little Yosemite Valley, quickly set up, and promptly passed out, as a day's worth of travel always does.
Then we made it up to the perfect campsite at an intersection between halfdome and clouds rest canyon. We had a perfect view and there were hardly any people. We later found out that we came at the perfect time because as the days went on, more people came, and the returning campers said we picked the best week because after Memorial Day, the people just come piling in and you can hardly move, so we considered ourselves lucky.
By day it was hot, and by night it was cold, but never too severe for either extreme. One day we went to halfdome, another day we went to clouds rest (all these pictures below), and then we returned via the John Muir trail. Hands down, one of the best experiences of my life.
Now that I've returned, I'll be taking 8 weeks of chemistry at KSU, a few days a week, and working when and where I can. I was then fortunate enough to obtain a William and Mary grant in collaboration with William and Mary professor Dr. Chambers to conduct 6 weeks of ecology research on Hunting Island State Park, SC. I'll give a brief summary. Terrapin turtles are subject to and continually threatened by drowning in both commercial and recreational crab traps. Dr. Chambers' lab has developed what's called a BRD (Bycatch Reduction Device), which is fitted onto the four openings of the crab pots with the hope of excluding the most turtles while not interfering with blue crab entry, in an effort to save the most turtles and not hurt fishing business. The SC department of natural resources has also developed their own BRD, measuring 2" x 3.67," much smaller than the 2" x 6" Virginia version. Thus, my role is to use both the Virginia and South Carolina BRDs in South Carolina waters while Dr. Chambers' lab performs the exact same experiment in Virginia waters to see which one works better (i.e. excluding most Terrapins but not blue crab). We hypothesize that while yes the South Carolina version will indeed prevent turtle entry, they are so small that they will also prevent blue crab entry. But I guess this reciprocal transplant experiment while show us which one works best. I'll be staked out there in the marsh for six weeks and hopefully a meaningful, publishable paper will come from the experiment. But more importantly, hopefully this scientific community will reach a consensus on how to best protect the terps. I'll be right on the coast, on an island where we used to have a home, so hopefully I'll be able to contribute well to a place that carries so many of my cherished memories.
If you want to follow the details of this experiment, here's the link for that blog: http://ccsummerresearch.blogs.wm.edu/2016/04/09/terrapin-turtle-ecology-research-hunting-island-state-park-sc/
Also, PSA: if anyone knows anyone in that Beaufort area that needs a house sitter, please put me in contact with them. Accommodation is something that I'm still working out.
After that, I'll be heading to St. Andrews in the middle of September to commence my third year, and my first semester in the "honours level," or so they call at St. Andrews.
Anyhow, that's all for now. I'll check in soon, I hope everyone is well, and much love.