Letters to the Editor

Bio-Oil Basics

The article about the cog railway converting from coal to fuel oil was both upbeat and informative ("Fuel for the Future," Fall '02), but it may convey a misleading impression about bio-oil, which some people believe is literally oil derived from wood. Actually, bio-oil (a misnomer if there ever was one) is an unstable, acidic, aqueous solution with a pungent odor, and one of its major constituents is vinegar. It is not oil and not even miscible with oil. Any realistic consideration of its use on the cog railway would have to include corrosion-proof storage and feed tanks fitted with controlled-temperature heating devices. Too warm and it will polymerize into unmanageable gunk; too cold and it will freeze.

Mother Bear Man

I just read, cover to cover, the latest edition of UNH Magazine. I am a first-grade teacher who does a unit of study on bears. The day after I read the article ("The Bear Essentials," Fall '02) I received at school the winter edition of a children's newspaper called Scholastic News. Can you guess who was featured in one of the articles? That's right, Ben Kilham. Now I can say to my kids, with all confidence, "This stuff is true."

Even all the way out here in Southern California, I had become aware of the remarkable work Ben Kilham '74 does in saving orphaned bear cubs. I had no idea, however, that he was a UNH graduate.

I find Kilham's approach extraordinary--and not just because of the unbelievable relationships he builds with his bears. I think it's even more extraordinary that Kilham has single-handedly created a whole new approach based totally on his innovative intuition. It is Kilham's incredible creativity that impresses me the most!

I have only two questions: Does Ben Kilham have a fan club and how do I sign up?

Having read the Fall '02 issue of UNH Magazine, I must say that I was surprised, delighted and disappointed. I am a Connecticut Yankee who attended and graduated from UNH and was transplanted to New Mexico in 1980.

My surprise and delight came from seeing the photo on page 35 of a painting by Rose Ann Day. I did the accounting for the gallery in Santa Fe that handles her work and recognized it immediately. I hope that President Ann Hart enjoys her new cultural adventure as much as I have enjoyed mine.

My surprise and disappointment came from Robert Caputo's article about Ben Kilham and his bears. One thing that I have had impressed upon me many times since my move to New Mexico is that it is "Smokey Bear," not "Smokey the Bear." The badly burned bear cub that was rescued in the Capitan Mountains of New Mexico in 1950 was named after a poster created in 1944. After he healed, Smokey Bear was sent to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. (For more information, see www.smokeybear.org.) I did find Mr. Caputo's article very interesting.

Going Beyond Gifts

President Hart's article "The Greatest Gifts" (Fall '02) is to some extent very touching, but replete with mystical references. In particular she mentions how she has been "blessed by great universities." She also makes references to each of various facets in her life as a "gift," whether they be a professorship, time spent at a university or her present appointment as president. Gift in this sense often implies special favor by God or nature. However I believe she herself should be given full credit for her own accomplishments.

I hope President Hart will move from feeling blessed and receiving gifts to applying her experience and talent to the real-world challenges presented by the administration of a university of the caliber of UNH.

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