A Two-year Review for V. F. Thomas Co.
On 13 February 2011, I retired and began to use my time to work on a variety of projects that I hoped would be of benefit. After one year and now after two, I have taken time to evaluate the progress of each project and what I have perceived to be its importance. Below is a list of projects, with notes on the status of each one.
Because some of the projects tend to be somewhat seasonal in nature (e.g., observing and photographing wildflowers of Mount Desert Island), their web pages may not show much change for several months at a time. Therefore, I post the date of the most recent addition of material near the top of each page, with the exception of the relatively unchanging home pages of some of the projects.
All of the material posted on this website is for the free use of anyone who wishes to use it, with the requirement that no one using this material will ever charge anyone for access to it, either online or in print or in any other form.
I find myself wanting to live each of two competing lifestyles. One depends on electricity, fossil fuels, and store-bought food, and it includes buying and selling very small pieces of paper—I'm a stamp collector/dealer—and living in a place that is much larger than necessary. Simply put, I am a domesticated human. The other lifeway, which I aspire to much more than I have achieved, is more natural and is lived more outdoors than indoors. It is neo-aboriginal, to use the word coined by Arthur Haines and described in his YouTube videos and blogs.
Currently I spend more time distinguishing between two similar looking postage stamps than I do learning which nutrients a particular plant can contribute to my diet. I spend more time organizing and rearranging my possessions, many of which I can easily get along without, than I do enjoying the gifts of nature, which I neither have to pay for nor have to move from place to place when I change locations.
How can I resolve my dilemma? One solution would be to choose one of the two paths and give up the other one, but I'm not willing to make such a choice, certainly not abandoning my aspiration to the more natural neo-aboriginal lifestyle but also not willing to sell (almost) everything I own and move into a debris hut in the woods. I am doing better about disposing of "things" that I simply don't need, following Thoreau's counsel to simplify, but I still have a lot of "stuff" that maybe, just maybe, I may need someday.
My answer right now is to continue living a little bit in both of my worlds, but using my domesticated one primarily to provide funding to help myself and others move toward the neo-aboriginal lifeway mentioned above. Therefore, I will continue to buy and sell stamps and stamp supplies (until someone makes a reasonable offer to buy me out), but I will contribute to scholarships for those who want to attend classes and/or private mentoring programs at the Delta Institute of Natural History.
The emphasis of this project is to develop and post identification tools for U.S. stamps and postal stationery. You may click on the link above for an overview of the whole project or on one of the links below to explore a specific topic.
online keys to front-of-the-book postage stamps | downloadable Excel file for U.S. front-of-the-book stamps | online keys to design types of U.S. stamped envelopes and wrappers.
This project is a record of the natural history of Mount Desert Island and the immediately adjacent ocean. I would like to see this project adopted just as the MDI Cultural History Project (above) has been. I envision the creation of a nonprofit organization, perhaps called the Mount Desert Island Natural History Society, that will be the natural history equivalent of the island's historical societies. The new society would, among other things, (1) have its own website, (2) maintain/update the Champlain Project data, (3) develop a newsletter, (4) provide scholarships to help students and adults attend various natural history camps and programs, (5) create displays for libraries, schools, and other interested groups, and (6) create and/or support natural history collections. Until such an organization is created, I will continue to host and update the Champlain Project.
You may click on the link above for an overview of the whole project or on one of the links below to explore a specific topic.
checklists | mysteries | organizations and other resources
SLOW(?) DESTRUCTION OF MOUNT DESERT ISLAND
The page linked to by clicking here will give you a less than rosy picture of what can unfortunately be found on Mount Desert Island without looking very far.
This project includes three brief articles (Redundant Research | Not Another Book! | Where Did You Get That Information?) and an online surname-based genealogy. I will continue to add to the surname-based genealogy when I receive material, hopefully including documentation, but I would like to see the creation of a nonprofit national family association that would take over this work.
MOUNT DESERT ISLAND CULTURAL HISTORY PROJECT
For information about Mount Desert Island's people and their interaction with the island, visit http://research.mdihistory.org, a project of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society.
I do not travel a lot, so this project doesn't get updated very often. I e-mailed a Maine organization whose focus is old cemeteries and asked if it would like to be given all the data and images in this project, but I never received a reply. Nevertheless, I will continue to maintain the link to the project, but interest is so low that it does not seem to be worthwhile to devote any more time to it. If anyone wants to take it over, please let me know.
Here are some websites that I think are worthy of your attention.
Anaskimin - a nonprofit whose mission is "to reawaken people's awareness of the landscape they live in, enabling them to reconnect with, appreciate, and value natural places". As treasurer of Anaskimin, I am aware of its financial needs, not only in terms of the dollars needed to carry out its goals but also the need, as a nonprofit public charity, to show (to the IRS) that it has broad public support. Although gifts of $100,000 or more would obviously be welcomed, donations of smaller amounts (every $1 is important) from many people will help demonstrate public support. You may send a check, payable to Anaskimin, to P. O. Box 400, Southwest Harbor, Maine 04679, or you may call 207-266-5748 to make a donation via credit card. All charges incurred when processing credit card donations and payments are being covered by a donor, so 100% of your contribution will be available for Anaskimin. Thanks.
Delta Institute of Natural History - a school for small group instruction on a diversity of natural history topics, with focus on plant taxonomy and primitive technologies.
The Naturalist's Notebook - a unique shop and exploratorium for anyone who is "even a little curious about the last 13.7 billion years". I particularly recommend their blog.