A few weeks back my wife called to say a helicopter had earlier landed in our neighbor’s backyard. This would have been unusual anywhere, of course — but especially so in a residential area of Honesdale. Being nosy neighbors, we crossed the street to find out what happened.
As it turns out, according to our neighbor, his unexpected drop-in guests were from Duke University, of all places — and were apparently in the area to do some “research” on natural gas. My neighbor, who is unfailingly polite, had given them a ride down to a local restaurant for a meeting. Who they were, what that meeting was about, and why they had decided to air-drop themselves into our community — he didn’t know and couldn’t say. And neither could we, until we came across a curious post on the Internet the other day by someone who refers to himself as the “Green Grok.”
The post itself, which appeared on the website of Bill Chameides, the Dean of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, is available here. Reading Mr. Chameides’ post provides all the explanation needed for this strange behavior. According to the post, he was one of the occupants of the mystery helicopter and came back to town a couple of weeks later to continue his discussions. Chameides is, apparently, the kind of guy who thinks he doesn’t need anyone’s permission and requires a helicopter consuming about 25 to 30 gallons of fuel per hour to ferry him about — because, well, he’s just so darned smart and Duke University is just so darned important.