Agency

My Grandfather fought in the First World War, as did many men from his rural community. When the Second World War came along he was married with children (the middle child my mother). Luckily he was employed and living in a vibrant and supportive rural community. He was the Post Master in his community. My Grandmother took care of the Post Office most of the time while my Grandfather worked at a variety of other jobs. My Grandparents also ran the local General Store and Gas Station, and again my Grandmother “manned” the business counter for both. They were wonderful people, honest, hard-working, intelligent, kind… They represent everything I admire in human beings. Most of what I value about being alive has been learned either directly from them or from their daughter, my mother, and her sisters. As a small child I seriously confused their home and community with heaven. One of the things I remember quite vividly was my Grandparent’s garden. It was a good sized garden, growing a variety of vegetables. The land surrounding my Grandparent’s house had little topsoil covering the granite below, so their gardens were planted on family property down the road. It was a … Continue reading

Telomeres

My area of expertise is not molecular biology.  Such cannot be said for Elizabeth Blackburn.  I recently watched a documentary called Immortal?, aired on The Passionate Eye, which included some footage of Liz Blackburn.  The documentary discussed the “science” of telomeres, it did not delve into the politics of science.  I found the documentary very interesting from a layman’s perspective and very biased from an analytical perspective. From where I see things science is not unbiased.  This perspective made my years in the academy politically challenging.  I think the answers you find are dependent on the questions you ask.  Science asks very specific questions, questions mediated by research funding and academic politics.  That is where the research begins; in the questions asked.  To these specific questions science finds very specific answers, that are often fascinating and often of benefit to humans and too often detrimental to human existence.  I feel that bias begins with the formation of questions asked, and continues during the process of answering the questions.  My point is not that all bias is bad; it is that all knowledge is biased. Informed decision making must include acknowledgement and consideration of bias. Elizabeth Blackburn and the Story of … Continue reading

Moving through time slowly.

Attila and I enjoyed the month of September, in which we went on a working holiday at the little house and then returned to work and chores at the country house. I’ve spent much of the last two weeks catching up with paying bills and working through all the paperwork generated by our two weeks of work at the little house.  That was one expensive holiday.  Also, there was a very high pile of bills and documents waiting for my attention when I arrived home, and they have taken up almost all of my free time since.  I have almost caught up with all these fiddly bits! Our next project at the little house is to get the furnace working.  Cold weather is on the way!  The furnace needs a bit of attention, even though it is only a few years old.  Actually, it is the duct work  that needs all the attention.  Previous renovators installed a new bathroom floor, which completely covered the heating vent.  One has to wonder what they were thinking.  We will have to cut through the floor in the bathroom to release the heat into the room.  Also, the cold air return was almost completely blocked … Continue reading

Catching our breath…

Attila and I are catching our breath.  We took our vacation over the first two weeks of September.  It was a working vacation.  The day we left two Realtors took prospective buyers through our country house, the second one came in after we left for our little house in the city.  It was extremely hectic, trying to plan, pack, load the car, prepare Mist for her maiden voyage to the little house and make sure all would be secure while we were away. Mist HATES car rides, and she spent a great part of the journey verbalizing her opinions.  However, within five minutes of arriving at the little house, she was sprawled out on our bed and making herself right at home.  She loves the little house! Our first task was to try and evict the chipmunks.  It took three days, but we managed to block their entry and keep them from reentering the building.  The dumpster arrived in our driveway on Tuesday morning of the first week, it was 20 feet long and 8 feet wide.  Attila spent Tuesday gutting the basement.  What a job!  He removed drywall, studs, vapour barrier, insulation, doors, closets, ceiling boards, all stained with … Continue reading

Critters!

I am working four days this week!  Today is my one day off and Attila has left me with a list of places to call; I am on a verbal information gathering expedition.  I must call metal roofing manufacturers and retailers for prices and delivery schedules.  I must call waste management firms for prices and delivery schedules for dumpsters.  I must call asphalt shingle retailers for prices and delivery schedules.  We are going to be roofing very soon!  We have our fingers crossed for fair weather! A big project, in terms of time and money.  It has to be done. We will need a dumpster to discard the three layers of shingles that already exist on the roof.  We will be adding all kinds of other building materials to the dumpster.  Old carpeting (mildewed and disgusting), the existing deck boards (particle board!  A silly, silly, silly choice!), drywall, insulation and wood panelling, boards and who knows what else, will go into that dumpster. The little house has a distinctive odour, very unpleasant.  We’ve wondered about the source.  Part of it is the mildewed carpet which will go into the dumptster, part of it dampness from a water problem in the … Continue reading