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October 11, 2017

Ali Research and Visitors

Tom McLaughlin

Kuching, Malaysian Borneo – My son Dzul is about ready to finish up his first grade year. Here, we start in January and end at the end of October. He has finally had a couple of growth spurts which makes him almost as tall as the other kids.


I still do "Daddy School in the afternoon which consists of Saxon math and reading.


Saxon math teaches basic arithmetic the old fashioned way. When they teach 1+1=2, they will have the same problem all the way to the end of the course. None of this addition and subtraction by regrouping. This failed approach, like all the others, will end up on trash heap like the base 2 method I learned when I was a kid. Drove my mom and dad nuts. I didn't pay much attention to it either. I have ordered grade three Saxon from the states and will continue with it.


Have you ever had very famous people stay with you, not knowing they were famous? We did. There was an ad in the Borneo Post stating a Dr. Patricia Rich was coming to talk about the Wallace Line. As readers of this column know, I am an avid Wallace fan.


I sent her an email asked if she could have dinner with us. The next thing I knew, we spent the whole day together, along with her husband.


She was a delightful lady of 72, ever curious. She kept asking, "What is that?" at everything we saw. I was happy to explain. Several people we have taken around just looked at their phones, looked up at something important and quickly looked back down. They seemed so bored with the rock art and, saints preserve us, Wallace locations.


Dzul is very interested in dinosaurs He has several books and plastic T. Rex animals to charge across the room roaring in delight. Dr. Thomas and his wife Patricia are the worlds experts in the little mammal critters that ran around at the feet of the giant lizards. These eventually evolved to our humankind. She has written several books about them while he is curator at the Victoria museum where he examines the fossil remains and classifies them.


The problem is so very few of the fossils have been found. After talks in Singapore, they are now in Moscow where they will search in the layers of earth deemed to have been around during the dinosaurs. Then they will go to London where Dr. Rich, the guy, will deliver a paper. Then to Africa to look for more fossils before flying home in early December.


Dr. Rich, the male, unfortunately and tragically, has a rare eye disease which will cause him to go blind. (Macular Degeneration) Now, he uses special glasses and goggles developed just for him so he can see how to dissect the mammal fossils and to classify them. He was able to follow us and Suriani as she used the parang to slash through the forest and to also climb up eight meters for a view of the South China Sea.


I told him what a marvellous and exciting life he has led bringing to the world information about such a little known animals. However, those words cannot begin to compensate for his loss of sight. Here, but for the grace of god, go I.


Oh, by the way, my daughter will give birth to her third child via C-section on the 10th. Will keep you posted.


...Life is good. . . . .


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