The Great Research Trek and its Aftermath!

My, my, do I have a lot to report today!  I haven’t posted in a while so I do beg your forgiveness if you were waiting with bated breath for the next installment of my narrative here, though the delay of course is not due to lassitude but rather industry, as for the better part of two weeks I have been engaged in near-constant travel and archival research, putting in about a thousand miles on buses, rifling through how many archival folders and letter books the Lord Himself only knows, and in general having an absolutely terrific amount of (intellectually-stimulating) fun.  It’s enough to recall the words of the American war correspondent, author and social butterfly Richard Harding Davis in his June 29th, 1900 letter to his mother, describing the difficulty of adjusting to a vacation in Europe after spending six months in South Africa:

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Wrapping up the Summer and a Look Ahead

My research for the summer is now coming to a close, and I have now created an ocean of data to swim through. And, I’m finding, the process of research isn’t so much about answering questions as much as asking questions. Which can be really frustrating at times, when the questions really pile up. Learning to ask one simple, answerable question at a time is something I am very much still working on.

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Bonding with History through Interviews

And now we come to the MOST exciting part of my project! INTERVIEWS!!!!! I was thrilled! Now I would be able to understand the full extent of what my aunt had been telling me for years!

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Trapping #1

Trapping is more of an art than a skill. One needs to understand certain principles about mouse behavior, about woodland wildlife, and a bit of common sense and intuitive understanding of the animal mind. I use small Sherman traps in this study. A biology grad student trapped with me throughout the trapping period. The procedure for trapping begins with a pre-baiting period. Pre-baiting sets the traps so that mice are able to go in and out of the traps without being captured. This allows the mice to become more familiar with the traps and go deeper and deeper inside. Also, mice tend to return to places that food was found previously. Pre-baiting is done for 3 nights. After the third night, the traps are set to trap and capture the mice. This trapping period is done for 4 nights. Three nights of pre-baiting and four nights of trapping constitutes the trapping week.

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