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Category Archives: Being a Mature Student

… of things relative

There are dozens of tiny green tomatoes on this plant.  Even more exciting, there are dozens more bright yellow flowers….

 

Currently Reading:  The A B C of Atoms, by Bertrand Russell.  E.P. Dutton & Company, New York, 1923.  Date of first issue, 1908.

“But even if the size of an electron should ultimately prove… to be related to the size of the universe, that would leave a number of unexplained brute facts, notably the quantum itself, which has so far defied all attempts to make it seem anything but accidental.  It is possible that the desire for rational explanation may be carried too far.  This is suggested by some remarks… by Eddington, in his book, Space, Time and Gravitation…  The theory of relativity has shown that most of the traditional dynamics, which was supposed to contain scientific laws, really consisted of conventions as to measurement, and was strictly analogous to the “great law” that there are always three feet to a yard.  In particular, this applies to the conservation of energy.  This makes it plausible to suppose that every apparent law of nature which strikes us as reasonable is not really a law of nature, but a concealed convention, plastered on to nature by our love of what we, in our arrogance, choose to consider rational.  Eddington hints that a real law of nature is likely to stand out by the fact that it appears to us irrational, since in that case it is less likely that we have invented it to satisfy our intellectual taste.  And from this point of view he inclines to the belief that the quantum-principle is the first real law of nature that has been discovered in physics.

This raises a somewhat important question:  Is the world “rational,” i.e., such as to conform to our intellectual habits?  Or is it “irrational,” i.e., not such as we should have made it if we had been in the position of the Creator?  I do not propose to suggest an answer to this question.”

I LOVE skipping to the end of a book!

 

 

Time, Through the Eyes of a Child and, William Faulkner…

I have been reading lately.  I have been reading a lot, lately….

 

The Sound and the Fury.  Written by William Faulkner.  First published in 1929.  Free to read online.  Free and available at most public libraries.  Inexpensive at book sales.  Available in used book stores…

I have not actually finished this novel.  It is a very difficult work to read.  I think I could just skim through it and I would know a few names, a few characters.  I can’t do that to this book.

There are no chapters.  There is simply an awareness of others and the unspoken thoughts of one.  It took me a long time to realize this even though the difference between the two modes of communication are visibly apparent (unspoken thought is in italics).  Neither the past nor the future seems to hold any relevance as the present unravels with painful awareness.

The book begins with the unspoken thoughts of a pre-verbal child.  A slow child.  A child not like the others.  Faulkner gave me the opportunity to listen in to this child’s impressions of the world.  To the unspoken needs and desires of one.

About halfway through the book, possibly this is about halfway through a young man’s life, a watch crystal is purposefully broken and the hands are removed.  Time is still running but the ability to count the seconds into minutes, the minutes into hours….  using that watch, has been stilled.  Does time have meaning if you can no longer measure it?

This book has grown difficult again.  I am putting it down, again.  I have not read any of the hundreds of discussions on this book.  I would like to wait until I finish it and come to my own conclusions.  For this reason, Faulker and his boys will have to wait on me.  Time, for the written word may be almost endless.  These words will wait for me….

 

I found this book, and many more, in a library book sale.  I had purchased other books the day before and was given a paper bag with $5 written on it.  If I came back the next day I could fill my paper bag with paperbacks.  As many as the bag would hold.  They would all be mine for that $5.  I did.  I have found some wonderful books this way.

Library book sales are often run by groups called “Friends of the Library” or a similar name.  Your local library may hold these sales several times a year.  There are many charitable organizations that also hold book drives and book sales.  These are fun events and great places to begin building a library of real books or, adding to your existing collection, with real friends….

 

 

 

 

Solving for Pattern or, an Economy of Size

I have been reading lately.  I have been reading a lot, lately….  I could not sleep last night.  An old article by Wendell Berry gave me thoughts to consider and apply to my own small business.

 

Solving for Pattern.  Written by Wendell Berry.  Chapter 9 in The Gift of the Land:  Further Essays Cultural & Agricultural.  North Point Press, 1981.  Originally published in the Rodale Press periodical The New Farm.

Wendell Berry is a farmer and an author.  His writing is thought provoking and disturbing, well written, easy to read and difficult to walk away from…

 

Wendell Berry has been on my reading list for a long time.  It is time for us to get to know him, now!  Solving for Pattern is a short article that poses questions and discusses the long term meaning of economy.  Not of economics.  Economy.  Economy of size.  Small businesses.  Small farms.

Questions…  I went back to university several years ago.  I thought I just wanted to take a few courses, make my evenings a little more interesting.  I discovered that I was learning to read in a way that I had not even considered possible.  I am still learning about reading but now, I am also reading to learn to ask questions.  Wendell Berry has been asking these questions for a long time.  His questions about patterns, economy, conservation, and healthy living are worth considering.

 

Further Readings (I have already started reading The Unsettling of America):

Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America:  Culture & Agriculture.  1977.  Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1977.  This book is available in most libraries.  Read a review of this book here.

James George Frazer, The Golden Bough.  First published in 1890.  My edition was published in 1994 by Oxford University Press.  Available online, free, here.

 

 

 

Water Rights & Environmental Damage

I have been reading lately.  I have been reading a lot, lately….  I finished reading this article last night, on the bus on my way home from work.  Yes, I use public transit.  I gave up my personal gas pedal almost 3 years ago.

Water Rights and Environmental Damage:  An Enquiry into Stewardship in the Context of Abstraction Licensing Reform in England and Wales.  Written by Donald McGillivary.  Published by Environmental Law Review, Volume 15, 2013.  Pages 205-224.

Donald McGillivray, Professor of Environmental Law, University of Sussex, has a current publication list here.

I found this article doing a random search on water rights.  I was looking more towards Western Canada, where I live, but all information is good and this article is full of definitions that will probably help me in further reading.  And, bonus marks, Professor McGillivray’s writing is concise and clear.

Probably the most important things that I realized while reading this article was that the environment is not protected by stewardship rights or laws.  That the only time we really protect the environment is when there is an overlap of needs between someone holding water (or land) rights and the environment.  In other words, when it benefits someone to protect something, the environment is looked after.  Not something that I had not realized before but, seeing it in a published article is different.

 

A couple of ‘Further Readings’ (from the footnotes) that I made note of:

E.D. Elliot, ‘The Tragi-Comedy of the Commons: Evolutionary Biology, Economics and Environmental Law‘ (2001) 20 Viriginia Environmental Law Journal 17, pages 17-18.

C.P. Rodgers.  ‘Nature’s Place? Property Rights, Property Rules and Environmental Stewardship‘ (2009), Volume 68(3) Cambridge Law Journal 550.

 

 

Beautiful Warnings….

The cherry trees lining the street where I work now are in bloom.  I have the privilege of walking by them several days a week.  Many of the buds have opened.

The "For Rent" sign was removed from this nest on Monday afternoon.  Renovations are underway and the new tenants are noisy and cheeky....

The “For Rent” sign was removed from this nest on Monday afternoon. Renovations are underway and the new tenants are noisy and cheeky….

 

This afternoon, there are more blossoms open.  Tomorrow the show of pink against blue should be stunning.

Tuesday Blossoms and the sky is even bluer....

Tuesday Blossoms and the sky is even bluer….

 

I have been privileged to stand watch as a four hour sunset turned into a four hour sunrise.  That was many July’s ago during a 12 hour graveyard shift on the roof of a coker at Syncrude.

I do not have a photograph, only memories…  Inside the plant, personal cameras are not allowed to be carried by employees.

 

Today is February 23, 2014.

The photos of the cherry blossoms were taken in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada where in February’s past we have huddled under umbrellas, pulling our jackets close as the cold winds blew in off of the water.  I grew up here.  The cold winds and wet weather of winter are what is necessary to keep the rain forests green.

 

Climate change is real.

 

I have recently read Naomi Klein’s newest book, This Changes Everything:  Capitalism vs. The Climate.  I do not believe that she exaggerates any point.

 

Every small thing we do (or don’t do) to stop the change helps.

Je Suis Charlie

My thoughts are with the victims.  Not just of this atrocity but of all atrocities.

 

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http://www.charliehebdo.fr

 

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http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/charlie-hebdo-cover-to-feature-prophet-muhammad-with-tear-on-cheek-1.2898787

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11340358/Charlie-Hebdos-Wednesday-edition-to-include-Prophet-Mohammed-cartoons.html

 

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Words such as condone and condemn have very different meanings.  I have heard that the actions of a few are not ‘condoned.’  I have yet to hear that the actions of the past weeks have been ‘condemned’ by any group.  Words are being carefully chosen, text is being carefully sanitized, articles have been carefully ameliorated to protect feelings rather than to preserve human rights.  We publish names of the innocent and names of the accused but we cannot convey the full meaning of an event, a tragedy, an atrocity if the language used has been softened to protect feelings….

To not report news, in full, because it might offend “somebody” is to fall far short of being fair, honest and open to all and this includes those who may be offended.  (There is a long tradition of not putting true images of prophets, gods and others….  on paper.  A 2,500 year old [a guess at the number of years that have passed since Buddha discouraged the manufacture of his likeness] discouragement of representations of Buddha is an example.)  When did the lawyers decide that news must not be offensive?  News, to be considered news, is a reporting of offenses and the results of offenses!  To do otherwise is truly offensive.

 

“‘To be explicit, easy, free, and very plain’ was the ideal set down for himself by Daniel Defoe…  No wonder he was one of the most popular journalists of his own time [18th century].” Murray Sheehan, Hints of News Reporting (Little Blue Book No. 342), 1922.  Daniel Defoe wrote Moll Flanders and Robinson Crusoe as well as many other books in addition to being a 17th/18th century journalist.

 

Deuze, Mark.  2005.  What is Journalism?  Professional Identity and Ideology of Journalists Reconsidered.  SAGE Publications.  http://site.iugaza.edu.ps/mamer/files/What-is-Journalism1.pdf

 

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My French and Spanish are extremely poor.  I do not know any Arabic, however, this will not stop me from purchasing a copy of the next edition of Charlie Hebdo (which will be published in French, Spanish, Arabic and English) whether or not I find a copy in English.  My purchase will be in support of those who have died, in support of those who continue to work at this newspaper, and in support of a future with greater freedom and greater protection of human rights for everyone.  I plan on this being only my first copy of Charlie Hebdo.  We need to continue to support these very brave people after the headlines disappear into history!

 

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Access to education is our single best bet!

Pritchett, Lant.  2004.  Access to Education.  Chapter 4 in Global Crises, Global Solutions.  Edited by Bjorn Lomborg. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press.  http://books.google.ca/books?hl=en&lr=&id=KQ2_zplu8mUC&oi=fnd&pg=PA175&ots=Ti0qUOHBh7&sig=z_uNHU9enIXwR7KyUqDenIu88fQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

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Please add links to articles, blog posts, anything…  that supports the victims of these atrocities and the human right to safety for all.

 

 

Is this all the choice we get? Gender Bias in Universities…

There is a photograph on the home page of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Website that I initially found amusing but after thinking about it for a while, I have decided that I actually find it offensive.

It is a photograph of a row of shoes.  Three pairs are black, one pair is brown, one pair is white.  Three are kind of dressy, two are kind of casual.  Two are flats, three have heels.  Four have a strap across the instep, one doesn’t.   All five pairs of shoes would be appropriate for an entry level position in an office environment (my opinion only, I am sure you could wear them other places too….)  The shoes are not the problem.  The problem is the caption at the top of the photograph:

 

“Career Choices and Life Success
Attend an information session to learn more about this program.” 
 ccls-itsf-slider[1]

Kwantlen Polytechnic University Home Page link

Photograph and caption are being used here for educational purposes only.  Fair use.

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There is one pair of feet filling the middle pair of low heel, white shoes.  Is this it?  Are the choices that these shoes represent the only ones that women can expect to fill?  Are the choices of women choosing this particular university literally this narrow?  And, why choose the middle pair (middle of the road)?  Why choose the white pair (I don’t want to go here right now – I will go here later!)?  Why choose the pair with the mid-range of heel height (again in the middle…)  Why choose the middle pair (the middle pair?  Did I ask this already)?  Would the corresponding line-up of men’s shoes have five pairs of middle-of-the-road, entry level office position style choices?  Who chose these shoes?
.
My problem:
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Is this it?  Is this all the choice that a woman entering this university can expect?  Middle of the road, sensible, affordable shoes that are appropriate for an office setting?  I mean, careers?  Where are the CSA approved worked boots?  Where are the hiking boots for the archaeologists and geologists?  Where are the nursing clogs (these are not only practical but really comfy!)?  This row of five pairs of shoes doesn’t even have anything suitable for wearing into a fine arts class….
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A peak into my closet (front to back, left to right):  Sensible tough walking shoes with sturdy soles.  Running shoes.  Strappy high heels.  Hiking boots.  Mid-heel black slip-ons.  More heels.  CSA approved green-tagged workboots (2 pair!).  More running shoes.  Another good sturdy pair of boots.  Rubber boots.  More strappy heels.  A pile of flip-flops (well, those might not be appropriate in too many work environments) and a couple pairs of sensible flats (these don’t get to work much either)….  You get the picture.  Life is about choice!  Dress for it!
.
.
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Where are the university watchdogs?  The ones who sing at the top of their lungs if you accidentally put a “he” or a “she” into a piece of writing?  Where are the people from the student groups who managed to get two gender-free washrooms at the Surrey campus?  Well?  Where are they?  Or, is going after an approved photograph on the home page of the university website just a little too, ummmm….  up front and political?

 

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Okay, link time.  I am not too certain where my article links might take me after this little rant but, I do know that they will probably be interesting.  If you know of any articles or papers that would fit in here, please post a link in the comments section.

 

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Is there gender bias in university advertising?  This article is not specific to university advertising but it is interesting and does provide an active mind with lots of relevant questions….

Article:  Gender Issues in Advertising – An Oversight Synthesis of Research:  1970-2002.  link

Author:  Lori D. Wolin, Lynn University.  Publications Link

Published in:  Journal of Advertising Research [link].  March 2003

DOI:  10-1017/S0021849903030125

My copy was downloaded in December, 2014.  I found using Google Scholar.

http://data.adic.co.kr/lit/publication/tmp/A9001206/A9001206.pdf

 

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Does education that is traditionally gender-biased (nursing / trades) put a person at risk of being an outsider?  Having been through trades training and attained journeyman status (red seal tickets), I have to say that it does.  The following article, viewed from behind my background in the trades, is particularly interesting.

Article:  Fear Extinction to an Out-Group Face.  link

Authors:

Published in:  Psychological Science (link), Volume 20, Number 2, 2009 (Link).  Pages 155-158

My copy was downloaded in December, 2014 and I found it using Google.

http://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/3128691/Mendes_FearExtinction.pdf

 

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Maybe feminine looking legs just have less risky preferences or is there a possibility that there is a lack of knowledge as to what the risks actually are?

Grey Paper:  Gender Differences in Preferences.  link

Authors:

Published by:  Harvard University

My copy was downloaded in December, 2014.  I found it here: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/content/download/70408/1254442/version/1/file/rachelcrosonandurigneez.pdf

 

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The recruiters are out there, at the universities, looking for future banking, civil service, retail employees.  What about the other choices?  Is anyone actually doing any recruiting for the people that actually fit into the non-traditional roles?  They used to!

Article:  Girls.  link

Published in:  Fords and Raritan Township Beacon (Link)

Published on:  Friday, April 28, 1948

My copy was downloaded in December, 2014.  I found it using Google.

http://archive.woodbridgelibrary.org/Archive/FordsBeacon/1943/1943-04-23/pg_0002.pdf

 

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…and maybe, it just comes down to what we want and expect from our career choices.

Article:  A New Frontier for Title IX:  Science.  link

Author:  John Tierney.  Publications

Published in:  The New York Times

Published on:  July 15, 2008

My copy was downloaded in December, 2014.

http://astro.berkeley.edu/~kalas/ethics/documents/diversity/tierney_TitleIX.pdf

 

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After reading the above, I need to read this.  I have it on hold at my local university library!

Book:  The Sexual Paradox:  Men, Women and the Real Gender Gap (Link)

Author:  Susan Pinker.  Books

Published by:  Simon & Schuster, New York.

Published in:  2009

 

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Not every question I ask gets answered.  In fact, most of my questions do not have answers or at least, they don’t have easy answers….  This stroll through academia is just that, a stroll.  For me, I ended up with more questions than I started with.  This is not a bad thing.  What are some of the questions you have?

 

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If any of these links do not work, please contact me and I will try to help you find the article, paper or book that you are looking for.

If you find any broken links on this blog, please leave a comment or send me a note so that it can be repaired.  Thank  you….

 

 

What is a Precis?

A Precis is a form of summary that is most often used to summarize works of non-fiction and speeches.  A precis is original writing.  It does not contain any of the precis author’s own thoughts but rather, summarizes someone else’s writing using the precis author’s own words.  There is no (or very little) quoting.

A precis is not the precis writer’s ideas about the original work.  Those thoughts and ideas belong in discussion, later.  A precis should be written in as precise a manner as possible.  A precis is the basic thesis of the original work, less the details, summarized.

 

How to Write A Precis

I find that starting with something I am unfamiliar with is easier.  I can concentrate more on what the author is saying and less on whether or not I agree with what the author is saying.

So, find a piece of non-fiction writing.  Start at the beginning with the first paragraph, what is the author telling you?  Summarize this paragraph into about one sentence.  Go to the next paragraph….

If you are writing a precise on an article — peer-reviewed, newspaper, blog, etc. — or speech, the writing that you are summarizing probably doesn’t have many paragraphs.  A book just takes longer!

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When you have summarized each paragraph, combine your writing by combining the sentences into a paragraph or, several paragraphs, and edit!

When you have a paragraph or paragraphs that make sense, repeat the process.  Again, summarize your writing into one or more sentences.  Go back to making paragraph(s) and repeat until you have only a clear and concise summary remaining.  It may be as little as a single sentence or your summary may require a few paragraphs.  This is your precis.

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Clear and concise is the most important part of this process.  Eliminate all repetition and unnecessary words (but not until you have it all in your original set of sentences).  You need to understand and summarize everything from the original writing!

Following through the process can surprise you.  Preconceived ideas about what the unsummarized writing is about, may disappear when we have thoroughly read and understood what was written…..

A Precis on Pink Salmon

We enjoy watching birds in bird houses!

Bees get bee boxes

Salmon have a better chance of successfully spawning in purpose-built spawning channels.

I have written a precis.  I write very short summaries when I am doing research papers for the classes I take at the local polytechnic.  I think it might make sense to put some of them here.

It is salmon season in British Columbia and so I have randomly chosen a research article on salmon spawning.

The Article:

Cook, K.V., McConnachie, S.H., Gilmour, K.M., Hinch, S.G., Cooke, S.J., 2011. Fitness and Behavioral Correlates of Pre-Stress and Stress-Induced Plasma Cortisol Titers in Pink Salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) Upon Arrival at Spawning Grounds. Hormones and Behavior, 60, 489-497.

My Precis

Aiding Pacific Pink Salmon with purpose-built spawning channels lowers stress levels and increases the chances of successful spawning.

My precis, expanded:

The hormone cortisol is produced by Pacific salmon en route to spawning grounds as a response to coping with the necessary imperative of spawning. As Pacific salmon have only a single breeding opportunity in their lifetime the natural stress effect of “natal stream homing” produces large amounts of cortisol and results in an early death.

The salmon in this study arrived in a fully monitored holding area where they were counted and examined before being released into an artificial spawning channel. Continued observation showed that the longer a female was in the spawning channel, the greater the chance she had of dropping and defending her eggs successfully. This study links reproductive success to cortisol levels and the findings are consistent with other studies and with evolutionary theory in that cortisol levels and stress response are indicators of sexual maturity and spawning success.

More variability in cortisol levels have been found in salmon spawning in the wild than in artificial spawning runs suggests that there may be factors for success other than cortisol levels to be taken into account. Comparatively, there is a greater chance of spawning success in purpose-built spawning channels than in the wild.

Find the original article here:

http://www.fecpl.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/HB-Cook-et-al-2011.pdf

If you have any trouble locating the article please contact me or, call your local college or university library for assistance.

Please leave a comment.  Whether you agree or disagree with what I have understood from this article, your thoughts are of interest to me.  All published articles are, or should be, available to everyone.  Sometimes it takes a bit of effort…

Gifts….

The only gift I consider more valuable than a gift from the heart, the gift of knowledge….

Show someone you care, teach them!

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Language exerts hidden power,like a moon on the tides.

Rita May Brown