Thursday, February 18, 2010

The first set of questions....and a few answers

You really put me through the paces with the questions asked.  I knew that there would be some interesting ones and I wasn't disappointed.  It was actually very enjoyable. So thanks for making me think hard. Here's the first group. 

Here are the questions with a link to who asked what::
1.  TechnobabeIf you had a chance to decide on a name instead of Global Warming, what would it be and how does the new name match your beliefs regarding this controversial issue?

I'll have to say that this is a topic that is highly volatile likely due to a misunderstanding of terms.  First off, global warming refers to the documented historical warming of the Earth's surface based upon worldwide temperature records that have been maintained by humans since the 1880s. A lot of people think that climate change is an interchangeable term but it isn't.  Climate change refers to any change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the average or the variability of its properties such as temperature and precipitation that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.  

I read recently that the term global warming is one that has generated negativism in the general populace.  An alternative term has been proposed called "deteriorating atmosphere".  I think that use of this term is an apt description of what is occurring.  Regardless of the semantics of the name, the data from instruments both on land and in the ocean, as well as satellite imagery, show that during the past century, global surface temperatures have increased at a rate near 0.06°C/decade (0.11°F/decade),  but this trend has increased to a rate approximately 0.18°C/decade (0.32°F/decade) during the past 25 to 30 years. This has resulted in  record-low extent of Arctic sea ice extent which led to first recorded opening of the Canadian Northwest Passage. The Greenland glaciers have receded markedly.  So whatever one wishes to call the phenomenon, there are dramatic changes that have been observed over time which indicate a significant warming trend during the past half century in land-based temperature data and global ocean temperature measurements.

2. Ed G and Andrew.:  Can our marine environment really be sustained? It seems with population growth, climate change, overfishing, popularization of seafood dishes, etc. - we're just consuming an increasingly scarce resource and I feel hopeless about it's future. Can the corner be turned toward sustainability? How?

Wow, this is another "hot" topic for sure. I'll try to keep this short but suffice to say that books have been written on this.  I can best address sustainability of marine resources such as fishery species for which there are the most data.  Unfortunately, even for those species that are important to man, there are  inadequate data and imperfect models to define what a biologically “sustainable” fishery would look like.

There are several factors that contribute to collapse of marine resources and even entire ecosystems. There are exogenous factors (such as El Niño/La Niña) and the way in which a resource is managed. All this means is that there has to be a way to disentangle human impacts from natural variability in order to actually determine what is sustainable.

Human exploitation of the seas, together with environmental change, is affecting marine ecosystems at a pace that is challenging to scientists. Here are just some of the issues:
  • A decline of 90% of the population of many marine species has been documented.
  • Fisheries around the world are now in serious trouble; changes are needed quickly to reverse the decline of marine species.
  • Global fishing could be virtually wiped out by 2050 if drastic changes are not made in sustainable fishing practices.
  • Ocean ecosystems have reached a limit where humans are taking too much out while dumping too much waste into the oceans.
  • Invasive species have created a challenge and have become a large problem because of ballast water pumping
The stumbling blocks towards a solution are many. If a fishery is regulated, there are immediate law suits filed by fishers. If a development is denied, there are appeals.  Because scientific solutions can't keep up and are often hamstrung by politics, litigation, and funding, the sustainability of the marine ecosystem is in question.  I think that there is still hope if stringent regulations at the national and international level are adopted.  Some of these would include: increased no-take zones for fishery species; incentives (and perhaps mandates) for "green" building methods and developments with reduction in impervious surface such as parking lots, asphalt roofs, etc.; increased marine protected areas and sanctuaries; retrofitting coastal development with better methods to inhibit storm water run off; limited entry and catch quotas for fishers; reduction in nitrogen inputs that are mandated by law and many more.

If and this is a big if,  these and other measures could be implemented at the local, regional, national and international level, then there might be sustainability.  But one can immediately see the problem:  few people, even at the lowest level of government or an agency, can agree on anything.  So we are left to flounder and ask more questions and search for more answers while the situation worsens.  The clock is ticking towards midnight I'm afraid.

3. Sarcastic Bastard: Boxers or briefs? Briefs

4.  Clean and Crazy: I know you said you were going to retire from your job sometime soon, what big plans do you have? what is at the top of your bucket list?
My plans are to do more sailing, practice guitar more, read more books, paint and do serious photography, become fluent in German and French once again, write a book, and do work at some environmental NGO's.  The top of my bucket list would be to do a trans-Atlantic sail.  

5. Lou: How much of a threat to the Great Lakes is the Asian carp really?
Asian Carp are a significant threat to the Great Lakes because they are large, extremely prolific, and consume vast amounts of food. They can weigh up to 100 pounds, and can grow to a length of more than four feet. They are well-suited to the climate of the Great Lakes region, which is similar to their native Asian habitats.

It is likely that Asian carp will disrupt the food chain that supports native fish of the Great Lakes. Asian carps can consume 40 percent of their body weight in food daily. Great abundance of Asian carps will result in competition for food with native species including cisco, bloater, yellow perch, which are fed on by predator species including lake trout and walleye. In other waterways in the US where Asian carp are found, they have indeed out competed native fish. Their establishment in the Great Lakes could have a significant economic impact to the commercial and sport fisheries valued at more than $7 billion annually.So yes, this is a real threat that will be very problematic should the carp become firmly established in the Great Lakes.

6.TariYour father was an alcoholic, and you married an alcoholic, if I have your story right. Did you know she was an alcoholic before you married her? Did you ever pause and think maybe you didn't want to marry her (or maybe that you should leave) once you found out?

My father was a heavy drinker.  He never called himself an alcoholic so I can't either.  My wife was a heavy drinker when I first met her.She was usually passed out at a party or very drunk. I don't think that I thought of her as alcoholic but rather as "troubled".  I found her exciting, unconventional, and filled with pathos.  It seemed romantic at the time but now I realize, it was my co-dependency.  I had many ominous warnings before the marriage.  I thought the night before our marriage that this was a mistake. But I was committed to proceed.  It would have been unthinkable at the time to back out--not proper, too much guilt, too hard to explain, etc.

7. Jennifer and Gabi: My question is about the picture of the man at the top of this blog.  Is there a significant purpose to this specific photograph?
Yes, that is Syd Barrett who was one of the founding members of Pink Floyd. I dig their music. I can identify with Syd because he was a "lost soul swimming in a fish bowl" and because of the name. 

8.  Sherry: If you were on a plane that crashed and there were survivors, would you resort to cannibalism of the deceased to stay alive?  

It's easy to arm chair this and think that I would not do it.  But I have read the voyage of the whale ship Essex, the Donner party story, and other such tales of survival that resorted to cannabalism.  I do believe that the will to live is stronger than moral scruples. If push came to shove and there was no way to get food, no way at all for whatever reason, and I was isolated with a few fresh corpses available, I believe that I would do what I had to in order to survive. 

In the course of starvation, my body would break down and begin to consume itself.  It is a painful way to die from what I have read.  I believe that my reptile brain would take over and survival mode would begin.  However, if I were consuming other starved individuals, then much of their fat would be gone and essentially I would be consuming nearly pure protein (muscle).  Even though I might be able to survive for a short period, it is likely that I would also die from organ failure due to protein poisoning.  This would be a similar fate to that of the Greely Arctic Expedition in which so many members died because they ate only the lean flesh of those who had pre-deceased them.

9. GarnetWhy do you blog? Why do you keep on blogging? What's your vision for your blog? What do you like about it? What have you changed in the way you blog, over time? What parts of blogging do you still struggle with?

What do you like about reading other people's blogs? What don't you like? How do you approach commenting? What do you think about all the comments you get on your site?

You're a thoughtful writer, and your insights are both beautiful and wise. Do you write elsewhere? Do you think of taking this elsewhere? Where do you see your blogging going in 10 years? Where do you see all blogging going in 10 years?

Is your life as satisfying as it sounds on these blogs, or are you sharing only the best bits? How did you choose to study and work in the field you do? What or who turned you on to it? Are there different paths you considered along the way? If you could start again, what other fields of work might you consider? How are you considering occupying (or enjoying) your time in the next phase of life?

Wow, Garnet, I can tell that you are a physician.  I'll take these in order, even though I really only wanted one question not two dozen--LOL. 
Why do I blog? To express and learn more about myself and the thought processes of recovery.
Who do I keep blogging?  Committment
What is my vision for my blog?  None really--I just write about what may be on my mind that day.  Some days the well is dry.
What do I like about my blog or blogging? That I try to offer up solutions rather than just problems.
What have I changed in the way that I blog over time? I now have more solutions to offer.
What parts of blogging do I struggle with? Originality and humor
What do you like about reading other people's blogs? Their originality and humor
What don't you like? Really long posts that read like a dissertation; word verification; those damned embedded comment boxes that I can't read while in the office.
How do I approach commenting? I read what they write and hope that I can make a comment that is relevant.
What do I think about all the comments that I get on my site? I treasure what people have to say. Most of the comments make me think and that's a good thing.  I don't like the spam comments.
Do I write elsewhere?  Yes, for scientific publication.
Do I think of taking this elsewhere?  I think but perhaps won't.
Where do I see my blogging going in ten years?  I can't plan what's going to happen next week. It is one day at a time for me.
Where do I see all blogging going in ten years? I think that will still be around, but I think that the format will change. There will likely be video talk in real time (more Skype type stuff) and perhaps more emphasis on the shorter "twitter type" posts. Again, it's hard for me to think that far ahead.  Technology changes so much within 2-3 years.  Ten years is a long time in technological and communications progress.
Is my life as satisfying as it sounds on these blogs, or am I sharing only the best bits? It has its ups and downs. I think that my life is pretty even on average. I am not wildly careening from one mood to another. I pretty much share the straight stuff on my blog as long as anonymity isn't compromised.
How did I choose to study and work in the field I do? What or who turned me on to it? I grew up around the water so marine science seemed like a great fit for me.  My mother had me do science projects every summer so she was my mentor as a child.
Are there different paths you considered along the way? No, I knew in second grade that I wanted to be a scientist.
If you could start again, what other fields of work might you consider?  Being a therapist, an artist, a photographer, a merchant mariner. 
How are you considering occupying (or enjoying) your time in the next phase of life?  see No. 4 above.

I'm breaking up the questions and will finish them up in tomorrow's post.  At that time, the winning question will be announced.  Thanks....I'm whipped or whupped as they say down here.


  1. Holy mackeral, Syd. I thought that was you in the photo!!!!

  2. This was lovely. I had no idea you got Syd from Syd Barrett- Pink Floyd is one of my top 3 bands-of all time. I would have asked what is your favorite album. Mine is The Wall. Signed up for your Twitter feed too.

  3. I was hoping you would not confirm all I've been hearing about the Asian carp. Like we don't have enough problems here already..

    This was really interesting, I might play this!

  4. Fascinating post! Something for everyone. You could start a Thursday question blog, where you post a question and everyone answers from their life, experience, belief or whatever.

    I am looking forward to the sequel.

  5. Wow, what a fun project! I can't wait for the rest of the questions!

    My question would have been: Do you wish you'd have made that decision NOT to get married?

  6. That's awesome Syd. You are such an interesting person.

    I will never forget the time I was looking at a magazine and saw a picture of YOU! and realized it was Syd Barrett.

  7. Don't stay whupped. It ain't worth it.

  8. I think I started reading your blog because of the pic of Syd, I love PF and have always been fascinated by "The Crazy Diamond".

    So here is my question: Have you ever seen them in concert? If you could be front row at any concert (past or present, dead or alive) which would you choose? If you were in a band would you be the vocalist, lead guitar, bass, keys or drums?

  9. Syd, I really enjoyed your Q&A to learn about you. I am so fortunate to have found your blog. Thanks for enlightening and entertaining me.

  10. Awesome! Can't wait for all the rest of the answers! I like Scott W's idea too! And I am wondering, is there ever a recovery blogger convention? I'd love to meet everyone someday! You have so many interesting followers with very interesting questions!

  11. Great idea, Syd. No problem finding a topic for today's blog, right?

    BUT - dang, I didn't want to wait till tomorrow for the answer to my very simple question. :)

    Guess I'll just have to tune in again.


  12. Thanx for the answer - I didn't like it, but sort of expected it.

    I just hope that God's really in charge of his universe.

    Blessings and aloha...

  13. Wow, This is really cool! Think I will just sit back and listen, looks like you have enough on your plate!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  14. loved this, looking forward to the rest...

    i can identitfy with your answer regarding your wife. my husband and i were drawn together because of our very similar pasts. yet it is exactly that which caused the biggest stumbling blocks in our marriage. but i was ignorant, didn't know, didn't ask questions. then.

  15. I had no idea until you asked us if we had any questions, that I had no questions. Then it occurred to me that I don't know why I don't have any questions. One thing I do know, is that I am very comfortable and content when I have no questions, and it's something I like. Other than that I don't know much about it.
    Getting people to ask questions was a really good idea, I hadn't thought of that. But I feel exhausted just listening to all the answers you gave. They are incredibly thorough and detailed. No wonder you are whooped :)

    One thing that did occur to me reading your answers was that like you I feel an enduring affinity with some musicians. In my case, U2. I tend to feel a lot of similarity with people generally but I can really empathise with them, perhaps due to their similar cultural conditioning. Who knows. But I do know that I feel I identify strongly with their cultural conditioning and backgrounds.

    So I can't think of any questions unfortunately but I have enjoyed reading this thread. It made me realise that I ask other people questions very rarely, and that people very rarely ask me questions. We are usually far too busy having intense !! existential conversations. Silly really. Us alcoholics always end up liking the sound of our own voices, as an alternative to washing the dishes or getting on with things :)

  16. How I love Sarcastic Bastard. And Pink Floyd's, music banned in South Africa until 1994.

    What kind of book are you thinking of writing?

  17. I didn't get through all of this post but I most enjoyed reading your answers about your blog!

  18. This was fun
    I write some disserations
    I know you've stuck around and participated anyway.
    I'm grateful
    I really like hearing about the nature of your work as well, it's facinating

  19. I love how detailed you are in your answers.

  20. This was a VERY innovative to get over blogger's block. And very interesting for your readers! Thanks for doing it.

  21. I was wondering about the name "Syd" and the photo too. I'm glad someone else asked.

  22. I loved reading this and getting to know you better, Syd. Thanks for the answers and the photo. It cracked me up.

    You are so damn smart. I get brain strain just trying to keep up. Science is not my field, though I do find Einstein, Hawking, and quantum physics particularly fascinating.

    Have a great weekend.

    Love, SB

  23. Wow. I never thought you'd answer my two dozen questions! I enjoyed the exercise of figuring out what I wondered about Syd. So I got a bit carried away... (sheepish grin).

    It's new for me to know people in this very limited, online way. Your questions open that up, a bit. Thanks for being so generous in your responses.

  24. Syd, I new it was Syd Barrett, but always wondered why you chose him...interesting!

    "pipers at the gates of dawn" rocks!


  25. I loved this idea Syd. Do it again soon please?
    I actually asked for a boundary such as "get out till you're not drinking" It didn't "fly" but made me feel better somehow.


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