Welcome to the web site of
John W. Merck, Jr.

Non-Academic Interests:


I don't consider myself a dilettante. Nevertheless, having spent so many years developing adult tastes and interests prior to returning to academia, it is impossible now for me always to be in my academic uniform. This web page is to facilitate communications with people who share my non-academic interests. Here is a sampling of things that occupy my mind when I'm not coding PAUP matrices.


In 1981 I first drew a recognizable likeness of a person's face. Since then I have produced a steady stream of two dimensional images and have compulsively captured them on film. Fortunately, this endeavor has not been fruitless, as both my photographs and illustrations were heavily used by my colleagues and me in lectures, professional presentations, and educational publications. Once in a while I manage to squeeze out something whimsical. Usually, my excuse is that I am familiarizing myself with new image-processing software. Have a look:

Gold mask thumbnail Gold mask thumbnail Bat Mitzvah Betty face thumbnail Betty mosaic thumbnail Krishna on rocks thumbnail

Scientific and educational illustrations.
Nothosaurus mirabilis thumbnail Jellyfish thumbnail eusthenopteron thumbnail

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I may not be really good at any foreign language, but I have excellent English. This has stood me in good stead translating both technical and creative literature from Russian and German. Here are a couple of samples. See what you think.

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Since 1982, one of my favorite social outlets has been contradancing. This is a traditional dance form from New England that employs many of the figures from traditional square dancing. The difference is that instead of forming square sets, couples dance in long lines. Contradances tend to be more energetic than squares, and in a single dance, one has the opportunity to interact with more people. This interaction is really the heart of the issue. In contrast to the exhibitions of skill one sees in swing dancing, in which couples tend to stay together, showing off diligently practiced moves, contradancers switch partners constantly. Unlike swing, contradance figures don't really require much practice or premeditation, making contradance a truly social form. Interested? Get info from my old dance venues in the Washington, DC area, Capon Bridge, WV and Central Texas.

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