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Frequently Asked Questions

I'm beginning to get a few questions. Thanks to all who have asked! Kind of confirms what I'm seeing in my Web site reports: People are indeed visiting. I guess this Web site is so wonderful that it doesn't leave many questions.

So far, the main result of people asking me specific questions is that I'll redesign some of my Web pages to make them a little more useful, at least in terms of what visitors seem to be looking for.

Keep the questions coming, and I'll keep finding answers or making them up.

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Questions by Category

About the Stories on This Web Site

Q: Did that really happen?

  • A: Yes! Well, mostly. The stories and observations on this Web site deviate from absolute literal truth in three ways. 1. Some are from mythology, and mythology is neither "true" nor "false" in the absolute, literal sense of "truth." Did the incidents in the story of "The Four Wishes" actually occur? It doesn't matter, because the grand truths the story conveys transcend our modern, absolute, literal sense of "truth." It is an actual Abenaki legend, and I have told it as faithfully to tradition as I know how. If you want to hear it from an actual Abenaki storyteller, go to a Pau-Wau. (Yes, if there is a public announcement of a Pau-Wau, you will be very welcome, even if you're not Abenaki.) 2. In the interest of economy, I sometimes tell my stories as if they happened in a place described on this Web site, when in fact they took place in a nearby and similar place. This is especially true for places I remember only vaguely. Rather than introduce another place description into the Web site, I'll just relocate the story a little bit. I've only done this once so far, but I may do so again as I continue committing my repertoire of old stories to writing. No, the events of "Does Not Reminds Me" did not actually occur in Oaky Woods, but they did actually occur, exactly as I told the story. (In Oconee National Forest, if you must know.) 3. Sometimes I exaggerate things for comic effect, but I think those times are obvious. For instance, in the story of "The Unplastic Alligator," it probably took me more than 27 milliseconds to notice that Joe had dropped his paddle. And in two parts of the story of "The Loch Nashua Monster," I make a couple of ludicrous exaggerations, then "catch myself" slipping into "sea story mode." Obviously, the turtle isn't that big, but it is indeed very big. And even in those stories that I've labeled as "sea stories," I stick much closer to literal truth than in the typical sea story. Generally, the only thing that makes them "sea stories" is the fact that they took place out at sea.

Q: How can you say it was "the most humongous jellyfish in the world"? You estimated it to be over 12 feet in diameter, but there are documented cases of jellyfish bigger than that

  • A: It's my sea story and I'll tell it the way I want to! Look, if you were looking down the throat of a grizzly bear, it wouldn't make much difference whether the bear was 900 pounds or only 750. That bear would be the largest grizzly bear of any concern to you at the moment. Seeing that jellyfish was a good deal less dire than looking down the throat of a grizzly bear, but the point remains: That jellyfish was, for me and in the astonishment of the moment, the most humongous jellyfish in the world!
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Where to Hike

Q: Could you recommend a {short/long/easy/moderate/difficult} hike near {fill in location}? I especially like hikes that {fill in some descriptive phrase here}.

  • A: I got the message. I've reformatted and rearranged the "Where I Hike" page to a tabular arrangement that identifies each hike as to length, difficulty, region, and key features (waterfall, views, biodiversity, etc.) I'm not going to do this on the "Where I Have Hiked" page, because my first-hand knowledge of these places is too badly out of date. By all means, if you're looking for something that's not described on this Web site, feel free to ask. I'll help where I can, and direct you to a better source if I know one.

Q: Can I bring my dog?

  • A: Generally, yes. Of all the places where I currently hike, dogs are permitted (on a leash!) in all except Mount Monadnock. In places where I used to hike, or where I hike very rarely, I don't recall any particular restrictions, but bear in mind A) It was a long time ago and rules may have changed; and B) I rarely hike with a dog, so I might not have noticed whether dogs were allowed or not. I'll add a column in my "where I hike" summary to indicate this, including cases where I don't know whether dogs are allowed or not. When I get around to it. (Lots of updates since I moved to a new server, you know.)
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Terminology and Language

Q: Don't you know how to spell "allegations"?

  • A: I'm surprised at how much comment this has drawn. Yes, I know how to spell "allegations." The question arises from my story about an alligator, where I describe the alligator as "making sweeping alligations with his tail." It's a pun. And no, I can't stop making puns or other dry jokes.

Q: Are you suggesting that a flower, T. undulatum, is closely related to a dinosaur, T. rex?

  • A: No, I am using scientific names correctly. The popular references you so often hear to "T. rex" are often incorrect. To use scientific binomial names correctly, spell out both the genus and the species names (and subspecies, if any) the first time you refer to it, then you may abbreviate the genus if referring to the same species or to another species of the same genus and if there is no ambiguity. And you may abbreviate both genus and species name if referring to a subspecies. Genus name or abbreviation is always capitalized, and species name is never captialized. Thus, I can refer to "white trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), painted trillium (T. undulatum), and purple trillium (T. erectum)" without ambiguity. I'm not implying that "T. undulatum" is in the genus Tyrannosaurus, and any reference you see to "T. rex" should be preceded by the full version of the name, "Tyrannosaurus rex." There certainly are other species whose genus begins with "T" and whose species name is rex, so authors must first spell out the genus name in order to be clear. And if a single paragraph refers to two or more genera that begin with the same letter, spell out the genus each time to avoid ambiguity. An example on this Web site might be a paragraph that refers to both the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) and the red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus).
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There will be a section like this for each category of questions, as soon as I get some questions that belong in other categories.

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(Hmmm ... Used to be, you could click on my "I Don't Spam" seal to verify my reputation. I was one of the earliest subscribers to idontspam<dot>com. I still don't spam, never have, but idontspam<dot>com doesn't work for my site anymore, and they don't return my emails. In any case, you can trust me to safeguard any information you provide here and not to publish it or share it with anyone else.)

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