Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Day In The Life - Follow-up

I received an appreciative response from the previous reply, including the guy's college paper based on it. I thanked him and sent this follow-up back. He had been preoccupied about what foreign language he must master to be a geologist; he also said he loved flying, and envied me the time I had spent in helicopters. I felt I had to disabuse him of both misconceptions:

Well, thank you for fulfilling a promise. That report was fun to read, and I agree that it deserved an A.

A few comments that it brings to mind:
1. The most important language you must master is English. I personally know several close-to-genius geoscientists, but they couldn't write their way out of a paper sack if their lives depended on it. If you figure great things out, but can't convey these things in a report, it adds up to a massive failure. Your English instructor may appreciate hearing that. My wife has an MA in English/Linguistics, and just recently earned an MS in Biology/Ecology. She reports that she always got praise for her writing from professors who acted surprised that a science student could actually write coherently.

2. I love to fly in a small plane too. I dislike helicopters so much because (a) they are much higher risk than a fixed-wing aircraft, and (b) are so noisy that without a flight helmet (as happened to me frequently while living and working in Venezuela) the noise levels would make me physically sick, and leave my ears ringing for hours after landing. By comparison, being in the deep jungle or the deep desert (I also crossed the Empty Quarter in Saudi Arabia three times) the utter and profound silence was always wonderful. I should amend that: the jungle is silent during the day, but very much comes alive at night (I recently published a book about living and working in the Venezuela jungle, an eBook with Barnes & Noble).

3. When you get to Ohio State, a good friend of mine is a professor of geophysics there: Jeff Daniels. Say hello to him from me.


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