Summer Greetings from the Western Regional Director

A message from the HAPS Western Regional Director, John Jackson.
A greeting from the HAPS Western Regional Director, John Jackson.

The family (aka, the “rolling nut-house”) and I recently returned from a 4800 mile Odyssey wherein we headed westward to hang out in the redwood forests of Northern California, visit Crater Lake, and otherwise rendezvous the with the sea otters in our extended family somewhere in the tide-pools south of Coos Bay.  Although there were no Cyclops, nor Scylla & Charybdis to content with, we still saw a great deal of the local wildlife, and were introduced to the taste of some new (to us) microbrews.  And we just missed ya.

I’m somewhat of a committed extrovert — my wife, not so much.  My kids, well, like any smart kids, they take after whoever is giving out the high sucrose treats.  So, although I would have found a great deal of joy in knocking on your classroom (or condo) door to say hi as we were passing through your town, my lovely wife’s normalcy in initiating encounters with people we don’t know super well, over-rode the chance to share a hug, or a beer and a smile as we rolled through your town.  And perhaps that’s all right — as there wouldn’t have been any warning, and there you would have been trying to say hello to a large bald guy with his blond entourage whilst your hands were fresh out of the afternoon’s wet lab demonstrations — or we would have been knocking on the front door just as you cracked your last beer to enjoy at the end of your long summer day getting ready for the fall semester.  

There are some BIG trees in northern California! Or else those kids are tiny...
There are some BIG trees in northern California! Or else those kids are tiny…

“But we’re HAPSters!” I try to explain to The Missus, who looks at me as though I just suffered a minor infarct to Broca’s area and didn’t articulate the worldview she was observing.  “Just ’cause you hide from the people in your national organization doesn’t make that behavior the norm, you know.”   The kids, anticipating from which side of the front seat the next KitKat piece is going to fly, stare off at the street signs distractedly, awaiting resolution of the momentary tension.  

And like Lewis and Clark (and Stanley and Livingston), we moved on, and missed a potential rendezvous.  My bad.  

However, like Stanley and Livingston, (and Lewis and Clark, 99 years ago this past week) — we will get a chance to rendezvous — perhaps near your city at a Western Regional HAPS conference. Or maybe, it will have to wait until the splurge of the spring semester-ending HAPS Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

Family road trips--- a great way to refuel before starting a new teaching term.
Family road trips— a great way to refuel before starting a new teaching term.

But if WE missed crossing paths — one thing is still sure —unless you’re one of those folks who is taking or getting a sabbatical break this fall, the students are upon us.  Medical students have already been handed their white coats in white coat ceremonies all over the nation this past week.  Undergrad lab kits will soon be doled out as well, and people will be trying to recall exactly what did José Bowen say about printing and handing out your syllabus?  (Don’t worry– you can look it up because it is all in the HAPS-Ed conference issue that was just released this week. There are lots of good ideas there, even if you haven’t been paying attention to the list serve over the past couple of months.)

As you head back “into the trenches,” remember to smile.  Teaching is tough work, which is why you were picked to do it. The students need what you have to give them; and society desperately needs to the students to “get it.”  So: no pressure — just the fate of the world hanging in the balance in the next couple of weeks.  It’ll help you forget that when we rolled down 101, or I-5 or I-15, or US 2 or Oregon 138, or US 97, we could have, would have, should have stopped in, but we just missed ya.

But I look forward to seeing you again soon.



Jon Jackson is the HAPS Western Regional Director and a fellow in the History & Philosophy of Science at the Institute for Philosophy in Public Life.  You can follow his fellowship project on the Philosophy of Nutritional Biology “Are We What We Eat?” at

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