Research is a Chain Reaction

Sometimes research is easy:  What’s the population of Springfield, Missouri?  Or the average high temperature of Mesa, Arizona in October?  One question, one answer.

More often, at least for me, research is a chain reaction.

Question:  Where is the Rosario Mine in Honduras?  I’m curious because my grandfather, on a steamer from Panama to San Francisco, wrote about ta “Secretary of the Rosario Mining Company 5000 ft. up in the Honduras Mountains, who came four days on mule back and twenty miles in an open boat to take our steamer.”  So exactly where is the mine?

I found Rosario Mine–Internet research is great!–but where there used to be the mine, there is La Tigra National Park, so I search that.  Do they have tigers there?  Not exactly.   It is named after the female puma, which is called la tigra, and yes, las tigras do live there–at least a few of them.  Also, the mountain where the mine, and now the park, are located, is called La Tigra.

Now I want a photo of that animal.  I search “puma, Honduras” and discover that “The Puma Energy brand is the leading oil products brand in Honduras.”  Scratch that.  Add “animal” to search.

Pumas are called, according to that site, “cougars, panthers, and mountain lions.”  Not tigers.  Are there tigers in Central America?

  1.  There is a “Tigers” soccer team:  “While many fans in Nuevo Leon are dreaming of a 2017 Liga MX Apertura final between Tigres and local-rival Monterrey, each side still has semifinal series to navigate.”
  2. There is El Tigre Island, on the Pacific side of Central America, which my grandfather sailed past in 1914 and mentioned in his journal.

True tigers live only in Asia

That last site, All about Wildlife, seems like an excellent reference and the photographs distract me from the gold and silver mined at Rosario where you would now take a hike instead of digging a tunnel in La Tigra Mountain.  I’ll take a break from my Panama book writing and learn about exotic animals for a while.

You see what I mean by a chain reaction?

 

 

 

Curiosity Forever!

Curiosity is a normal human trait.  Some people are insatiably curious.  Most explorers and scientists possess more curiosity than average.  For some of them, it is their strongest talent.

David McCullough quotes Miriam Rothschild who quotes Karl Jordan who may be the epitome of curiosity.  Karl, 96 years old, curator of the Tring Museum (I didn’t recognize either his name or the museum either, so don’t think I expect you to have heard of it),  is peering through a microscope.  He tells Miriam,  “I shall know it all in the next world.  I shall know it all in the next world.”

Suppose God made us to be naturally curious, which seems evident if you’ve ever tried to answer a small child’s questions.  Suppose there is new life in “the next world,” after death.  If we are ourselves in that life, we will still be curious.  Can you imagine the excitement of finding answers to every question you ever had, a solution to every problem you ever faced?   That’s what Karl Jordan expects.

David McCullough interviewed Miriam Rothschild for his book Brave Companions.  He obviously enjoyed knowing her.  She’d be fun as a friend; there’s no time to be bored with her!

“Miriam Rothschild knows all about butterflies and fleas, birds, fish and poisons, lady bugs (my first real love), medieval meadow grasses, Shetland sheep dogs, photography, farming, Clark Gable, and the wild flowers of Israel.  She designs her own clothes.  She has an art gallery devoted to paintings by schizophrenics.  She owns a pub.  She has raised six children…”

So begins David’s chapter on Miriam in his book.  His interview ends with the quotation from Karl Jordan, the curator of the museum the Rothschild family founded.  Check out the museum website for a photo of Lord Rothschild driving his carriage with a team of three zebras and one horse!

Most of McCullough’s books are at least as thick as the Harry Potter books, but this one is not so thick, and because each chapter tells of a different person, you can read the chapters that interest you most.  The subjects include pioneer pilots, the Brooklyn Bridge architect, explorers, a photographer, of course Miriam Rothschild, and more.

Curiosity drives exploration into every kind of knowledge.  Curiosity must be why David McCullough finds out so much about the people and events he writes about.  Miriam and Karl possessed so much curiosity that maybe you could say they were possessed by it.

“I shall know it all in the next world!”