I popped down to the lobby for my morning ritual of blog writing to find Thesaurus (aka Triple C.) had taken the day off which is fine, every once in a while, but he had not told me ahead of time and that was the deal. Oh well..so instead this is being written in the Champagne Bar outside of Mott 32 and they provide me with coffee. So it is a better place to be in some ways. So there, Triple C.
The Trump International Hotel has slogans all about – on keys and book marks etc. etc. They are actually rather suggestive and this can lead to laughter. . For example” It’s Simple-Do IT better than anyone else. I read that, on the elevator with a voice intoning: “Going Down.” I got down to the LL (Lower Lobby) convulsed in laughter. A book mark says: “Subtlety is not our strength – Indulgence is.” I think this shall be my motto because, no one has ever accused me of subtlety, Another: “Your time away is precious. Never Settle.” Well, excuse me!! Why would I settle ever, away Or way. I shall have to add slogan writing to my resume. The one submitted to the powers that be which creates the position of Accidental Good Will Ambassador to the Trump International Hotel.
This conversation did, of course, ensue. It took place on the UL.
The Emperor: I heard your laugh all the way on the third floor and in the elevator.
Me: Oh no! I will wear a laugh monitor if you wish.
The Emperor: Laugh monitor?
Me: There must be such a thing. If I laugh too loud it would stop me, give me a shock or something.
The Emperor: Really?
Me: But I do not know where to buy one.
The Emperor: Ask Triple C.
But, lo and behold, he is not here today. So the Trump International Hotel is stuck with my laughter for another day. But there is another side to me as observed by A.J. He said of me: “You are the biggest shark in the pond.”
Me: Where did you get that impression?
A.J. The first time I met you when we had a fifty minute conversation.
Me: Oh! Caught!
Then I exhibited shark behavior approximately thirty minutes later. Three people looked stunned, including A.J.
You will now get to see another side of me. The serious side as I continue to explore the Nature, Nurture, Neither conundrum.
Grandmother Janet Dryburgh’s (1887-1932) father, Robert Baxter was heretofore a mystery. Before the Scotland discovery junket there was only a name, no traces of statistical data such as birth/marriage/death records. So my overactive imagination conceived of a scenario: Grandma Janet was illegitimate, and some man, for all one knows a man with the reputation of Sir Walter Scott, or Robert Burns (just to name a couple of Scots) had sired her and that explained the literary gifts of her eldest son. Alas, it was not to be. Reality stepped in to reveal that Robert Baxter was a rather ordinary man, a collier engineer man. His death certificate revealed that he died from tuberculosis at the age of 24 when Grandma Janet was only 3. Then her mother, Grace, married again, this time to a man with the last name of Campbell. Perhaps it was this man, who would have provided nurture to his young step grandson, Dave. He was the literary genius providing the environment rich in ideas, books scattered in the sitting room, library and hallways of the home where Dave and his mother frequently lived when the sire(r) was off at war or emigrating to Canada. But no, John Campbell, Grace’s second husband, was a coal miner and let’s just call a spade a spade, or a pick a pick – coal miners are not known for their libraries. But going back to the nature theory, the census data collected over the decades listed the occupations of Dryburghs and their predecessors. If occupations are determinative of abilities there was no DNA for writers secreted in his genes. The Dryburgh forefathers were a hard working laboring lot; coalminers, loom mechanics, spinners, dress making assistants, joiners, and harbor pilots. Grandpa Dryburgh at age 13 was a messenger boy and this was not a summer job. For if he were still in school he would have been designated a scholar in the census data of the time.
So the milking of the genealogical date had done nothing to solve the mystery of the sudden appearance of a creative genius within the Dryburgh clan. But admittedly my nature/nurture knowledge was threadbare. So I took to the books to ‘catch up’ on the recent theories.
This, I found, is an age of dramatic research—pushing the borders of discovery using of all things, mice, roundworms and fruit flies. But from it all the most fascinating aspect is the newly promulgated theory that sheer chance plays a role—something rather instructive but not altogether satisfying to a seeker of truth.
Almost fifteen years ago, in a book called “Chance, Development, and Aging,” the gerontologists Caleb Finch and Thomas Kirkwood described a truly elegant study of biology: a batch of roundworms, all genetically identical, raised on identical diets of agar. Despite having identical genetics and near-identical environments, some worms lived far longer than others. The lesson? The classical equation of “life = nature + nurture” had left out chance.
Of course, that was just worms. More recently, a team of German researchers, led by Gerd Kempermann, built on a similar logic and announced in Science that they had raised forty inbred mice that were essentially genetically identical in a single complex environment, and used radio-frequency identification (RFID) implants to track every moment of their lives. Nobody could ever ethically run that sort of controlled experiment with humans, but Kempermann’s study provides convincing evidence that—in a fellow mammal with which we share a basic brain organization—neither genetic identity nor a shared environment is enough to guarantee a common fate. Different creatures, even from the same species, can grow up differently, and develop significantly different brains—even if their genomes are identical, and even if their environments are, too.
This studious study will to be continued in a day or two. It will form part of the book whenever the thing gets thoroughly written. I am working on it during this – the most creative period of my life. The photo shows the treasures of my birthday generously supplied by Trump International Hotel.