Friday, March 24, 2017

Escape From Rochester - Homestead

After we lefty Key West, we stayed three nights in Homestead which is on the eastern and southern edge of the Everglades.  Staying provided us with easy access to the Everglades National park and many other attractions.  We spent our first day the Everglades National Park.

Paul Marsh, our guide
Our first stop was at the Anhinga Trail where we went on an hour guided walk by Paul Beach, a National Park Volunteer.  We had met his wife at the visitor's center and she had advised us that Anhinga should be our first stop and that Paul's walk was starting in about 20 minutes.

We learned a lot in that hour not only about this specific location but about the Everglades in total.  We first learned about the Anhinga bird, which is diving bird about which this trail is named.  Unlike most aquatic birds, the anhinga does not secret any oil for its feathers and thus has to stand
Anhinga drying its wing feathers.
motionless to allow the air to dry them enough for flight and thus the next hunt for food.  When the early photographers visited the Everglades they were not able to take photos of any of the birds because their process required a subject to stay still for minutes at a time.  Since the anhinga was required to do this, they were the birds the photographers captured and their characteristic pose became iconic.

Juvenile tilapia with their blue markings
We saw and learned about other bird species:  Great Blue Heron, double crested cormorant, and egrets.  We saw various fish species including tilapia which is an invasive species that entered this ecosystem when a hurricane destroyed a nearby tilapia farm.  At least the tilapia provide additional food for the alligators.  The Burmese Pythons that were released by the same hurricane have become a danger to some of the endangered species in the Everglades.

The highlight of this nature walk was the waterhole where the alligators congregate.  One photo would not do it justice so just view this video.

After this, we decided to drive the 32 miles to the Flamingo Visitor Center, the point in the park where the fresh water from the Everglades mixes with the salt water of the Gulf of Mexico.  We rested beside the beautiful water with a lunch of gator tail bites which were yummy.  We then had our first piece of Key Lime pie and wondered why we had waited so long.

After lunch we joined a park ranger talk on the manatees, also called sea cows.  This remarkable full aquatic mammal is a reminder of the diversity of life and of the necessity of protecting that diversity even and perhaps particularly when there is no apparent utilitarian reason for doing so.  After the talk, we walked with the ranger over to a marina to see if we could find any of these animals.  To our surprise and delight, we found several of these animals gathering a round a dock for the fresh water coming off of it.  This was all the more unusual because these are solitary animals and do not live in groups.  Again a video is the best way to see what we saw.

White Morph Blue Heron
While we were going down to the dock, we saw a White Morph Blue Heron, an unusual treat for us since we see so many great blue heron back home.

As we drove back to the park entrance we stopped at various locations along the way and saw or experienced mosquitoes--we were well armed with deet and long sleeved shirts and pants--mohogany hummocks, dwarf cypress forests, and the saw grass that stretches for miles.  It reminded us of photos we have seen of the African plains except that this is not grass but a sedge with serrated edges.  It provides cover for various animals but is not a food source as far as I know.

The river of saw grass with dwarf cypress in the foreground and hammocks like islands in the distance
To see more of the photos and videos of our visit to Everglades National Park, click here.

Marilyn with her new BFF Robert and one of his sons.
On the way back to our motel, we stopped at Robert Is Here, a fresh fruit paradise.  Marilyn became one of Robert's best customers that day and we have been back for their fruit shakes.  That box is filled with mangoes, pineapple, coconut, guanabana, caimito, and a large avocado cut in halves as a avocado salad.

When we got back to the motel, we were ready to just relax by the pool, read our books, and sample these delicious fruits.  Oh, yes, and I stopped by the next day to get a papaya and banana milk shake for lunch, also by the pool.

Liz the farm's animal wrangler showing
off a king snake.
The next day we visited the Everglades Alligator Farm.
 This is South Florida's oldest alligator farm.  There are more than 2,000 alligators on the property as well as crocodiles, snakes, parrots, reptiles and a great air boat tour.  We saw them all.

Liz was the animal wrangle for both the snakes and alligators.  She even got me to hold a spotted python, the first time I have ever physically touched a snake.  There was the incident in California but a garden rake was the intervening implement.

We also went on an air boat ride.  Unfortunately the speed and the flying water made it impossible to use my camera.  However on the way out, I was able to get some video as a gator was swimming along side us.

I was able to get some interesting shots of these creatures but perhaps the most exciting thing was coming upon three workers struggling to return an eight foot male to his proper enclosure.  He had gotten right up against the last fence along the nature trail and that was not good.  Here is some video of that unexpected adventure.

Click here to view more photos and videos of our morning at the alligator farm.

Ed is the tiny figure
in the foreground of this
The next day we left Homestead and headed to Naples to visit Ralph and Buffie Richarson.  Before we left we made a final stop in Homestead at the Coral Castle.  This is the life work of Ed Leedskalnin, a dminutive--5 foot, 100 pounds--immigrant from Latvia.  He singlehandedly quarried the stone for this unusual site.  He then sculpted and erected the structures by himself.  The obelisk weighs 28,000 pounds and he hoisted into place with three manual, tripod pulleys.

He not only built this attraction but lived here is primitive conditions at least to us but it was the life he wanted to live.  He made money by charging admission--first 10 cents and then a quarter.  He got by without any electricity or plumbing until his death in 1951.  It is now on the list of historic places.

Click here to view more photos of the Coral Castle

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Escape From Rochester - Key West

Sunrise on our first morning
After those lovely three days in Miami, we drove four hours south down U.S. 1 to the Mile 0 marker on the island of Key West, the southernmost point in the United States.  Something happens as you get on the island:  life seems to slow down and any sense of urgency evaporates.  Of course, we arrived on St. Patrick's Day so things were a bit more lively than usual and on Saturday things really amped up.

We stayed in a Marriott boutique hotel, The Saint which is right on Duval Avenue so we had easy access to everything there.  Since the island is so small, maybe two square miles, we could also easily walk to just about everywhere.  According to my Fitbit, I have walked 57,000   steps since we arrived and I will put on a few more before we leave this morning.  That is about 29 miles!

Marilyn with Mikala, our server.
On our first evening, we had a late dinner at Le Petit Paris where we met Mikala, our server.  She is from the Czech Republic.  We concluded that she was spending time in the U.S. to gain a command of English.  Her family seems to visit annually.  She enjoys serving food because it puts her in contact with people and helps her English.  She did tell us that on the day the President signed the first immigration order, a customer told her that he was not giving her a tip because he was only tipping United States citizens.  I am not quite sure of the thinking behind not paying for good service because of the citizenship status of a worker.  Her immigration status is quite legal.  It is sad that a national political debate causes economic harm to an innocent worker.  Perhaps a better approach would be to ascertain the citizenship status of the owner and the employees of potential eating places and then only patronizing those that are "100 percent American."  Good luck with that.  Anyway, the food and service was so good that we returned two nights later for our final dinner in Key West.

Click here to see the complete Key West photo album.

The next day we walked Duval Street from end to end.  The place was jammed with St. Patrick's Day revelers, often to the point of obstructing sidewalks.  As the day wore on into evening, the crowds got louder and actually bothersome.  Some areas reminded us of streets in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

On one of our walks away from Duval Street along the beach, we found a lovely spot, West Martello Tower.  This is the site of one of two advance gun batteries connected to Fort Zachery Taylor.  The west tower was never fully armed and eventually fell into disuse.  It actually served as a source of bricks for local buildings.  Eventually it was declared a National Historic Site and the Key West Garden Club became responsible for it.  It is now a quiet and beautiful botanical garden which is free--the only thing free on the island as far as I could tell other than the sun.  Click here to see more photos of the West Martello.

Rooster and hen
Hemingway cat
There are roosters everywhere it seemed.  I understand that the locals are divided:  some thing they are part of the charm of the island and others think them a nuisance and a health hazard.  I can see both points of view but as a tourist, I lean toward the charm view as long as your hotel protects you from the constant calling.

Click here to see the complete Key West photo album.

One of the attractions is the Ernest Hemingway House where there are no roosters or hens but more than fifty cats, all descendants of the cat gifted to Hemingway.  It was a six toed cat which apparently is a good luck charm which Hemingway felt he needed given that he was accident prone...admittedly one of his accidents happened after he had imbibed 40 martinis which seems both comic and profoundly sad.

Hemingway's studio
The tour of the house was very informative about the life of this talented writer, who won both a Pulitzer and Nobel.  He wrote 70 percent of his books, stories and articles while he lived here.  He worked in a studio over what had been the carriage house in the 1851 constructed estate, the largest residential lot on the island. He worked here from 7:00 till about 2:00 each day and then spent the rest of his time drinking at Sloppy Joe's or fishing.  He had a full sized boxing ring in the backyard where locals would come once a week to box Papa who had lost the sight in one eye while boxing as a teenager in Oak Park IL.

Urinal from Sloppy Joe's
That boxing ring was dismantled by Pauline, his third wife, while Ernest was gallivanting abroad for 11 months with  Martha Gellhorn who later became his third wife.  When Pauline realized what was happening, she constructed an oversized swimming pool where the ring had been.  When Ernest returned, he was shocked and angered.  He responded by spending all night at Sloppy Joe's, actually helping Joe moved the bar to its current location.  As part of that move, he and Joe carried a men's urinal down the street and deposited it in the backyard.  Ernest declared the next morning that this was his swimming pool and he would remove it when the pool was gone and his boxing ring reinstalled.  That never happened but the urinal is still there serving now as a watering spot for the cats.  It has been artistically enhanced.

Shot back to the east as the run was setting
Our final evening we made the walk down to the Southernmost Point for the sunset.  With the St. Patrick's Day crowd gone, it was a more typical laid back Key West crowd.

The next morning as we were leaving Key West, we stopped for a tour of the Little White House, most famous for its use by the citizen from Missouri who served almost eight years as president, Harry S. Truman.  Being from Missouri myself, I was familiar with the life of our 33rd president.  The guide provided a fascinating tour of the house and the Harry Truman that used this navy facility to relax away from Washington.  Beginning in 1946, he made 11 trips here and spent around 170 days here overall.  Since this was a navy facility--in fact, The Little White House had originally been the commandant's quarters--detailed logs were kept of each visit.  These have been declassified and are available on the organization's web site.  Click here to view.  If you have time, click that link and then open one of the logs.  It is fascinating.  Since the facility is still available for use by current and former presidents, their extended families and government dignitaries, no photography is allowed in the house.  It has been set back to exactly how it was when Truman used it.  Detailed logs were also kept of decorations and furnishings.  Click here to see the complete Key West photo album.

We then set off north for our next overnight--three days in Homestead to tour the Everglades.  However, on the way north about halfway between Key West and Miami, we drove through Islamorada, a community of islands.  This is best known to us and millions more as the setting for Bloodline, a Netflix original series by the Kessler brothers of Damages fame.  We drove up to the office of the Moorings Resorts Homes where much of the series is filmed.  We were turned away since it is private and not open to the public.  However, we did find a very nice lunch spot on the beach nearby that put us into Bloodline scenic feel.  Click here for more photos from Islamorada.

And now, it is on to the Everglades!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Escape from Rochester - South Beach and Miami

Major power poles down on Winton Road, right around
the corner
After having no power for five days as a result of a horrific windstorm, we had power restored Sunday night around 8:00.  This was just in time since we planned to leave Rochester for Florida the next day.  Monday was especially important because of the pending nor'easter snow storm that was forecast to begin late Monday and last two days.  In short, if we couldn't leave Monday, we probably would not be able to leave Rochester till the following Thursday and likely Friday.

That's our house behind the snow mound!
As you can see in this photo, it was good that we were able to leave Monday.  The storm provided Rochester with over two feet of snow and pretty much shut down the city for Tuesday and some of Wednesday.  It didn't stop snowing until late Wednesday night.

While Rochester was preparing for this blizzard, we were driving south in a hurry.  We got to Charlotte the first night where we stayed with Liam and Marcie.  We left first thing the next morning but did have some time to visit with the kids.  Liam had to fly to Raleigh the night we arrived so our time with him was even shorter.

The next day we drove to Orlando and then the next day we arrived at our hotel in South Beach on Miami Beach.  While the weather was coolish, it felt really good to us, especially in light of what we had left behind.  We arrived by mid afternoon and began to explore.  Our hotel was right on Washington with five minute walk to the beach and to almost every other point of interest including Lincoln Road area which is essentially and outdoor mall with stores on both sides of the street except the street is closed to cars and is a pleasant pedestrian walkway filled with out door restaurants.

It was in one of these that we decided to enjoy some time with a hookah.  Marilyn added a mango martini.  While it was good, she said it didn't compare to a straight martini made by our good friend Tom McFadden.  (By the way, Tom and Monica are spending these three weeks in Florence Italy.)  Marilyn quite enjoyed the hookah.  In fact, she got better at it than I was and seriously considered loading up another pipe.

We were introduced to to the hookah by a charming young woman who served us.  Her name was Alexandria and she was from Serbia.  She was in the U.S. to improve her English.  Even though she has been uncomfortable by the propose changes in the immigration system and its impact on her, she looks forward to extending her time here, if possible.  She plans to return home and continue her studies in Agricultural Science.  She is specializing in milk and meat.  We had a great time with her but we didn't return for more hookah.  In part, that was because Marilyn decided to move on to mojitos which she enjoyed although still not as much as a McFadden martini.  You can view more photos of South Beach including our hotel some of the places we ate by clicking here.

The next morning, I got up early as I usually do and walked to the beach to see the sunrise.  I was not disappointed.  I took way too many photos...because I just couldn't help myself.  The photo above is a pretty predictable sunrise photo as nice as it is.  This one is a little less predictable but I think a better image because of the way it captures a part of a sunrise that most people probably missed because they are looking at the sun rising.  Natural, I suppose.  I also got down to the beach for sun rise the next day.  You can view more photos of both sun rises by clicking here.

The next day, we decided to take a tour bus ride around South Beach, Miami Beach and several communities in Miami.  There were some fantastic views, many of which we have all seen on television shows set in Miami.  We were seated on the upper deck, of course, and I managed to get some nice shots although traveling at highway speeds, I wasn't able to get all the views I wanted.  The one here is cool because a police boat was maneuvering  just we were passing over MacArthur Causeway.  I thought it has an kind of Miami Vice feel.  When I get home, I might clone that pesky pole out of the frame!

Girls posing and photographing in front of one of the
many murals throughout Little Havana.
Miami is an amazing city: diverse and vibrant.  We passed through a variety of neighborhoods:  downtown with soaring skyscapers, Brickell district known as the Latin American Wall Street,
Bay Front, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Little Havana, Wynwood, and the full length of Miami Beach with wonderful views of the art deco buildings which are all now protected against exterior changes.  We also saw work being done to prevent flooding from rising sea levels at various locations.  Funny how that science thing just won't go away.

We also went through the MacFarlane Neighborhood in Coconut Grove.  This is the area where Bahamians who had been brought to Miami to build Coconut Grove stayed after the construction.  It was essentially a ghetto and is still a poor area right next to an extremely wealthy one.  We also learned that in early 20th century African-Americans were restricted to a walled ghetto and could only leave at night with a work permit.  While Jews were not behind a wall, they too were restricted to live in only a section of Miami Beach.  When the 60,000 Cubans arrived as refugees from the revolution in the late fifties, no hospital would care for them except Mercy Hospital which is still caring for the community.  Today, more than 60 percent of the Miami-Dade population is Latino.  For more photos of our tour click here.

The next day we left Miami and headed for Key   But we made a stop at Vizcaya for three hours to view this remarkable property.  "Vizcaya, the winter residence of James Deering (1859–1925), was built between 1914 and 1922 in the Coconut Grove area of Miami. The estate was entirely surrounded by subtropical forest—the Main House and the formal gardens appeared as a dreamlike vision in the midst of the jungle on the shores of Biscayne Bay. Today, Vizcaya is an oasis of silence and green, miraculously preserved just south of Miami’s modern skyline."  The property originally included a 180 acres which has been reduced to 80.  The house is an example of the Gilded Age in winter homes.  The gardens are large and formal and were meant, as was the house, to communicate wealth, power, culture and learning.  Click here to see more photos our visit of Vizcaya.

Next stop:  Key West.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Visit to Huntington Beach - Part Two

Bolsa Chica wetlands with Pacific in the distance.
The rest of my time in Huntington Beach was spent taking two long hikes with Galen in the Bolsa Chica Preserve and seeing tow movies with Galen and Henry:  Get Out and Nolan.  More about them later.  Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve "is a nature reserve in the city of Huntington Beach, California. It is designated by the California Department of Fish and Game to protect a coastal wetland, with its resident threatened and endangered species. "Bolsa Chica" means "little bag" in Spanish, as the area was part of a historic Mexican land grant named Rancho La Bolsa Chica. The Reserve is also called many other names, including Bolsa Chica Lowlands, Bolsa Chica Wetlands, and Bolsa Chica Wildlife Refuge." (Wikipedia entry)

The plants with the yellow flowers are
native; the palms are not.
Over the years they have lived here, Galen, Laura and the kids have volunteered at the reserve as part of the effort to reclaim it from the invasive plant species which have thrived here.  They have planted themselves hundreds of native species which are now clearly visible.

Nest building heron at work
There are a number of palm trees in the reserve.  These are not native but have been left in place because they have become important to some animals in the habitat.  This is particularly true for the Great Blue Herons which have built nests in the dense top foliage thus protecting their young from predators:  on land coyotes and in the air birds of prey.  We saw one heron posing on a dead tree main trunk and another busy bringing material to construct a nest in a nearby palm tree.  We assumed that the unperturbed sentinel was a male and the hard working nest builder was a female.

Snowy Egrets under the bridge
This a marvelous public resource that is preserved from any development.  What has already happened within and particularly around the site has had often irreversible impacts on this ecosystem.  On Sunday we entered through another spot and walked for over two hours.  We didn't see as much wildlife or vegetation but the vistas were interesting especially with the gathering clouds that generated a light rain later that afternoon.

Click here to see more photos of Bolsa Chica Preserve.

On both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Galen, Henry (who spends most weekends at home) and I went to see two movies.  "Get Out" was written and directed by Jordan Peele, of "Key & Peele" and "Keanu" fame.  If I had been familiar with those two--which I was not--I might not have been prepared for this extraordinarily strong movie.  Try this summary of a review from "Variety":  "Blending race-savvy satire with horror to especially potent effect, this bombshell social critique from first-time director Jordan Peele proves positively fearless."  This is not to be missed.

The next day we saw "Logan" which is the latest from the X-Men franchise but is so different that it should have a strong appeal to serious movie goers who can get by the graphic violence and to the human themes of emotional availability, aging, and search for meaning.  Try this review from "Variety":  "Doesn't try to be a shoot-the-works, how-crazy-are-his-powers grand finale. It's a scruffy dystopian road Western that takes its time in a way that most slam-bang superhero movies don't."  This would probably have been one I would have completely missed since my group of movie goers generally isn't into super hero movies, even those featuring Werewolf!  But again, I was happy that I got to see it and see it with two aficionados who could get give me some interpretative background...although I don't think Henry had the Werewolf back story but he certainly understands the genre.

The next morning I said my goodbyes to Laura, who had to rush off to work early, and to Maggie and Thomas who had largely been invisible during the weekend.  Maggie spent some time with a friend and Thomas was busy being Thomas.  I went to campus with Galen where he had a 10:00 class and he will take me to the airport for my 1:10 flight.  I should land back in Rochester around midnight.

Then I have a week before we take off for our three week jaunt to south Florida.  And, thus, you also have a week off from my little blogs.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Visit to Huntington Beach - Part One

I traveled to Los Angeles for my annual visit to Galen and his family.  Using American Airlines miles forced me to take a late day flight which was scheduled to arrive at 12:40 AM.  Unfortunately weather delays in including a ground stop at Charlotte meant that I arrived shortly before 3:00 and didn't get to bed until 4:00 LA time which was 7:00 in the morning Rochester time.  Even so I have been rewarded with a great visit and spectacular weather.  Those nasty rains have ended and the skies are blue with highs in the seventies.  Late Friday afternoon, Galen and I were out driving when AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" came on.  The warmth, the light, and the music reminded me of heading home on a Friday from USD ready to enjoy a Southern California weekend.

Spring Flowers
My first day, I spent at Galen's resting while he went to campus to teach a quantum physics course.  I had sat in on that course and described it in an earlier blog.  I came out when I did to make sure I was able to sit in on an evening class.  While he was gone, I walked to closest Starbucks and enjoyed all the spring flowers just beginning their show.  I got back just as Galen was returning and we enjoyed lunch at a vegan Japanese restaurant in the strip mall near their house.

I was only able to see Laura briefly that morning because she is working at real estate management office in Irvine and need to leave shortly after 7:00.  She wouldn't get home till after Galen and I left for the class I came to experience.  By the way, this is a temporary job that will probably end in a week unless they decided to pay her a bit more than $10/hour.  It is hardly worth her time especially with the commute.

Galen and I returned to the Cal State Long Beach campus in time to walk around a bit before class.  It was a beautiful evening with smiling, friendly students walking leisurely to their evening classes.

We there for an upper division physics course with an unlikely title:  PHYS 390 Exploring Physics Teaching.  While you might possibly think you would find this in a science education department but hardly in a physics department.  Why in the world would a physics department be interested in providing a course to explore teaching physics?  The answer explains a lot about the physics department at CSULB which has gone from having almost no degrees granted to 60 in ten years.  In any given year, there are 250 physics majors working toward a degree.  In fact, this single campus produces more physics majors than any other Cal State campus including the "science oriented" Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo and Pomona.  Even more important without any effort at being "inclusive," Long Beach physics majors now are representative of this ethnically diverse campus.  Each year 20 percent of the Latino students entering American Ph.D. programs in physics come from this single university.  This has been achieved by focusing the analytical power of these scientists on the teaching and learning of physics.

But don't just take the word of a proud and admittedly biased father.  How about the American Physical Society?  Here is what it had to say when it awarded CSULB Physics department its 2016 award for improving undergraduate education in physics.
The Department of Physics and Astronomy at California State University Long Beach has been engaged in a decade-long campaign to strengthen its programs. Total production of undergraduate physics degrees has increased from 3 in 2007 to 25 in 2014 and an estimated 35 in the 2015 academic year. 30% of degrees are awarded to under-represented minorities (URMs), and they have no achievement gaps in graduation rates between URM and majority students, nor between men and women. Implementing many of the recommendations of the SPIN-UP report, such as innovative curricula and SCALE-UP classrooms, has improved their undergraduate curriculum with a measurable increase in the graduation rates of students taking introductory physics. In addition, adopting the Colorado Learning Assistant model has allowed the department to use their upper-division students to improve their lower-division courses while also providing valuable training for their majors. Students who complete the LA training course have significantly elevated graduation rates. In summary, the Department of Physics and Astronomy at CSULB has made significant, research-based and quantitatively assessed improvements throughout their program and achieved a transformative increase in the number of physics degrees awarded at the University, particularly to URM students, along with improved education of not only their majors but all STEM students.
So a course that focuses on learning and teaching fits right in with this focus.  While some of the students enrolled may go into high school teaching, all the students gain a deeper understanding of how people learn and therefore what some successful teaching strategies might be.  And every physicist--whether in a formal teaching position or not--is constantly teaching non-physicists about physics.  Just ask one.

Here is a sampling of topics from the course syllabus:  Discourse, Questioning, Close/Open questions, Learning theory, Metacognition, Multiple intelligence.  Not the kind of content you would expect in an upper division physics course.  The course is taught in an Active Learning Classroom which facilitates student interaction and teacher coaching.

Students measuring the motion of a model car
As I watched this two hour session, something was happening of which I was unaware.  The problem was to measure the motion of a car.  There were four groups working this.  Galen was coaching two of them and his associate was coaching the other two.  Galen was very specific about the definition of the problem and the methodology to be used.  I was not around the other two groups.  The results were fascinating.  Galen was using what he later described to the student as a univocal approach, one in which there was only one way of understanding and conducting the experiment.  This is typically the way science labs are set up.  As you would expect, both of his groups got the "right" answer and worked very efficiently to arrive at that answer.  The problem was that they never engaged in a process of discovery to understand what was meant by "motion" and to settle on a way of measuring it.  The other two groups were not given explicit instructions and receiving affirmation and coaching from the associate.  They had the necessity and thus the opportunity to discover.  Getting the "right" answer was not the point.  Learning was the objective and the way typical labs are set up actually impede rather than foster discovery.

The next day I went with Galen for his morning class but didn't attend.  Instead I met up Henry, his son, who is in the midst of his first year at CSULB.  It turns out that Henry begins college with 55 college credits because of his excellent results on eleven Advanced Placement Tests for the ten AP courses he took in high school.  By next year he will be essentially through with his general education requirements and will settle into his history major along with a minor yet to be determined.  We had coffee and walked around campus.  It was a very enjoyable experience as we discussed philosophy, history, politics, Civil War, Pickett and Muir family history and his high school and college experience.  The three of us went to lunch and laid plans for some movie going over the weekend.