90 Second Interviews: Mr. McRae and Mr. Gunnell
February 8, 2022
Interviews with Harrison High School’s iconic physics duo: Mr. McRae and Mr. Gunnell!
Are there any good YouTube channels for learning physics? Sometimes there are great channels, but it is rare; I love minutephysics (Music written by a former HHS student) and Veritasium.
What is the value of learning physics? It teaches you how to think.
What is a physics fun fact people can use in their everyday life? Never stay outside during a lightning storm.
Favorite physics pun? A dog and a cat are stuck on a steep roof. Why does the dog slide off first? It’s got bark, but no mu…
What topic in physics most confuses you? Electrostatics.
What are your words to live by? Be kind to others and listen.
What type of dangerous science experiment is Mr. Gunnell likely to be caught doing? Rollerblading with a fire extinguisher.
What is a fun fact about yourself? I am terrible at karaoke.
Cats or Canadians? Canadians.
What non-science teacher would you want to teach your class? A math or art teacher.
What class would you want to teach if you weren’t teaching science? Philosophy.
Where did you grow up? Montreal, Canada; Geneva, Switzerland; Havana, Cuba; Vienna, Austria.
Favorite song? American Tune by Simon and Garfunkel (It’s achingly beautiful).
Do you play any instruments? Yes, the guitar.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I used to be an opera singer (which makes my bad karaoke skills quite ironic).
How have you applied physics in real life? Physics is the ultimate problem solving tool; I’ve built many things thanks to physics (Like my cabin in Canada).
Favorite hobbies? Woodworking.
What is your student pet peeve? “I’m so confused.”
Best advice for seniors? You have more time than you think.
What is your biggest regret? The times I didn’t listen.
If you retired right now, what would you do? A lot more woodworking.
What is your favorite TV show? Station Eleven (Right now); The Sopranos or Curb Your Enthusiasm (All time).
What is your favorite movie? Lawrence of Arabia.
Are my little ponies effective for teaching physics? Little ponies are great for carrying small burdens
Do you like the International Baccalaureate (IB) program? Yes, for 2 reasons. Firstly because it tries to incorporate philosophy and secondly because it tries to foster collaboration across disciplines.
If you could defy one law of physics, what would it be? Gravity.
If you are pursuing a PhD, what is the title of your thesis? I would not be a great PhD candidate; I don’t have the kind of focus. It is not how my brain works.
What’s the theme song of your life? Help! by The Beatles.
What is your guilty pleasure? Ice cream; Although why should one feel guilty for eating ice cream?
Any secret talents? Communicating with animals; I love to observe them in the wild.
What is an item on your bucket list? Visiting all the national parks during the off-season.
What is your highest bowling score? I am not a sports person.
What is your biggest quark? The top one.
Are we living in a simulation? No, and if we are, who cares?
Do you have any tattoos? Yes.
What is your go-to Starbucks order? I appreciate Starbucks for bringing about the first generation of non-crap coffee, but I get my coffee beans from a roaster in Brooklyn (Parlor Coffee) and make my own coffee.
What question do you wish we asked you?
Q: When were you most scared?
A: When I was ambushed by guerilla fighters in Guatemala who were using powerful slingshots as weapons.
Are there any good YouTube channels for learning physics? Yes, there are many (e.g. Veritasium). They are good at getting people excited about physics and they have strong production value.
What is the value of learning physics? It’s not about the physics; it’s about the problem-solving.
What is a physics fun fact people can use in their everyday life? Everything that we perceive in the universe depends on your frame of reference; this has applications to our interactions with others (e.g. understanding different viewpoints).
Favorite physics pun? One I like is: What’s an electrician’s favorite museum? MΩA (the MOMA).
What topic in physics most confuses you? Confuses: Thermodynamics. Hard to wrap my head around: Quantum physics
What are your words to live by? Life’s too short to be stressed.
What type of dangerous science experiment is Mr. McRae likely to be caught doing?
Mr. McRae is too cautious to be doing dangerous experiments; He’s most ‘dangerous’ when he is not interrupting a dangerous Gunnell experiment.
What is a fun fact about yourself? I had 14 teeth pulled to get braces put on.
Cats or Canadians? Canadian Cats.
What non-science teacher would you want to teach your class? Ms. Milne.
What class would you want to teach if you weren’t teaching science? Theory of Knowledge (TOK).
Where did you grow up? Falconer, NY (1 hour South of Buffalo).
Favorite song? Dancing on My Own by Robyn.
Do you play any instruments? No.
What is something most people don’t know about you? I was effectively married (in a domestic partnership) before same-sex marriage was legalized in New York and before Obergefell v. Hodges.
How have you applied physics in real life? I have done a lot of electrical work; I also have a huge fascination with bridges (to the point where I’ve almost caused accidents on bridges).
Favorite hobbies? Skiing.
What is your student pet peeve? Avoiding the teacher instead of seeking help (even though I was guilty of this in college).
Best advice for seniors? Go find yourself; you don’t need to be the same person you were in high school, in college.
What is your biggest regret? Taking out unnecessary student loans.
If you retired right now, what would you do? I would become a ski instructor; although the last person I taught broke their collarbone in 8 places… so maybe I should become a ski patroller?
What is your favorite TV show? Seinfeld.
What is your favorite movie? Any of the Star Wars movies.
Are my little ponies effective for teaching physics? Absolutely.
Do you like the International Baccalaureate (IB) program? Yes. I think it is very challenging, but it causes there to be more connections between classes.
If you could defy one law of physics, what would it be? Gravity (to fly) or time progression.
If you are pursuing a PhD, what is the title of your thesis? A Brief History of Cats (Dedicated to Socrates, Chunker, and Ninja).
What’s the theme song of your life? Hair by Lady Gaga (Irony at its finest).
What is your guilty pleasure? Taking a day to ignore everyone and do a 60/70 mile bike ride from Tarrytown to Brewster— that, and chicken wings.
Any secret talents? Rollerblading, DIY projects, and organizing closets.
What is an item on your bucket list? To go skydiving when I am older.
What is your highest bowling score? 212; I am in a social bowling league.
What is your biggest quark? I can’t sit in a chair normally; I’m living gay stereotypes.
Are we living in a simulation? We wouldn’t know if we were.
Do you have any tattoos? Yes – 2.
What is your go-to Starbucks order? Old order: Quad venti triple shot soy white chocolate mocha, no whip – New order: Latte with almond milk.
What question do you wish we asked you?
Q: When did you experience the most change in your life?
A: 2012. It was my tenure year, I was going through my divorce, I lost 3 really close family members, I shaved my head, and I lost 40 pounds; for me, 2012 marked a year where I grew more into who I am today, it was a defining part of my life.