Monday, November 26, 2007

Who the Hell are You?

When I originally put together the Four Lives Lost website I had drafted a page that explained in (far too much) detail exactly how I came to be involved in this case. When I finally uploaded the site I decided not to include that page because at the time it felt a little too self-indulgent or something, and I wanted to focus on the women and their plight rather than myself.

The single most common feedback response I get from people who make a critical review of the website is that it should have included some explanation of who I am, and how I came to end up advocating for four women in a Texas prison. That story has much to do with the internet and its incredible ability to establish close connections between people who are geographically quite distant. The page explaining my involvement has already undergone one stiff edit and after I do one more I will relink the page.

Meanwhile, here is the short answer to the first question.

I live a semi-reclusive, self-sufficient lifestyle in the Yukon Territory wilderness in Northern Canada, and teach half-time at Yukon College in Whitehorse to pay the bills. What I really like to do is read and research, but most of all, to think and live in the world of ideas. Living here gives me the freedom and time to do precisely that. I have found that I do my very best thinking standing on the runners of a dog sled moving through the wilderness. So after loading my brain a whole pile of new information I will hook up a team and bugger off into the mountains for the day, to process it all. I maintain a kennel of about two dozen dogs primarily for that purpose. People tend to be leary of anyone who isolates themselves from the "pack". I am well aware of what the locals call me because of my reclusive lifestyle - Grinch.... Unamusher.... they just don't have the cojones to say it to my face.

While my research in graduate school was on the impacts of exogenous sex steroid hormones on embryonic development in salmon, I am interested in a (far too) wide variety of subject areas ranging from environmental toxicology to solar houses to criminal and social justice issues.
I originally trained as a research scientist and had planned a career in the biotechnology field. But a couple of things got in the way. First, I had some serious ethical problems related to the cavalier attitude of industry
toward the possibility of genetically modified organisms getting "off the farm" and interacting with wild species. The final cut to my career plans occurred when I was sent up here to run a one week experiment in June of 1992. It was light all day and night, there was what appeared to be endless open space, and everybody drove a beat up pickup truck. It felt like heaven to me. By the end of the third day I knew I could never live in a city again, and was going to stay. There is no high tech research occurring in the Yukon, and there probably won't be for a long time, which meant I had to find other ways to earn a living.

So now I live way to hell and gone out here in the sticks, and chuck the bulk of my pay cheques into a furry pit, just so that I can enjoy the pleasure of hours of uninterrupted thinking while staring at the east end of a dozen westbound dogs - or some variation thereof.

As I mentioned above I am very interested in criminal justice related issues, and in February 2006 was doing some research on the internet when I first came across, and became interested in Elizabeth Ramirez' and her co-defendants case. But I will leave the details of exactly how I got involved to the next post.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your lifestyle sounds fascinating. I wish you kept a personal blog where you wrote about your day to day life.