Science and Perspective.


April 2016

Science and passion

I am studying in a PhD program. I am not studying for a PhD.
I seek knowledge, self improvement, and to be a better scientist and leader. That is why I enrolled in the PhD program. Sincerely, 4-6 years working in conservation at home in the Bahamas taught me more about the actual conduct of real world science than I have learned here. Ironically, several of the lessons I learned showed me that there were some lessons I had to return to Academia to learn.

1: passion is not enough. Knowing the truth is out there and having a drive to find that truth will not bring that truth to you. You need tools, tangible and intangible. You need a team of people with various skills in science, leadership, understanding, language, logistics. And often you need funding.

2: see the system and its limitations. as long as we do not have the capacity within ourselves, we will be dependent on someone else. As an individual or an organization or a country, if we do not improve our capacity, we will rely on others. This includes things as simple as learning about ourselves (introspection, oil exploration, and oil spill response and environmental impact assessments) to things as complex as balancing social and environmental needs with economic costs and revenues.

3: Compromise. Sometimes you have to stop doing so many things to do one thing really well. Sometimes, the only way to help others is to make yourself stronger. Sometimes you have to learn another language or culture to explain to people using that language why your culture has value.

I learn these lessons again as I navigate English Speaking North American Academia. I was recently told by academic leadership that they were uncertain I was being or likely to be successful. This from those who had no idea of my previous and continued personal success with BEiNGS, BirdsCaribbean, The Nature Conservancy, as a SCUBA diver and instructor, developing courses and programs, advising and encouraging students to challenge themselves and take on their next degree, as a teacher, as a student, a scientist, Bahamian, artist, husband and father.

I challenge those that find encouragement in my work to learn these lessons.
Passion is not enough. So find your passion and use it to fuel you, to find the tools to let you chase that passion to the ends of the earth.

See the system and its limitations.the system you grew up in and the systems outside that influence it and the way they influence you. Every system has rules, flaws, limitations, opportunities. Learn the systems you have to navigate and bend them to your best advantage. Vote, protest, get on a committee, learn the stories of your leaders, but learn multiple systems. Be critical, especially of your own systems.

Compromise. This is the hardest for me. I want to do the great things now. I want to change the world for the better and there are so many ways we can. People will tell you to stop or to slow down or do it their way. The skin of an apple holds it together and allows it to survive this world. That is compromise. Shape yourself to survive, to be attractive to those you need until they can feel sure of your value. Look to the future you want, through today’s suffering. At the heart of you is your truth. Hold on to that. Let your Personal truth guide you to compromise as much as you need to, but no more.

I wish you all success, first of all in learning how to measure your own success.

Ancilleno Davis, AA, B.Sc., M.Sc.


No free breakfast

There is never a free breakfast. But occasionally breakfast is included.
Here at Miami University there are lots of opportunities to participate, to contribute to to lead. If you get into it you may end up at charged up for study abroad. Today there is a great spread.

But there is also food for thought. Wilson Okello is leading the audience in poetry and identity. So we are paying for breakfast with engagement. It seems to me this is one of those times that a small investment reaps a huge benefit. Sustainability

I speak regularly on sustainability and sustainability issues. Today being Earthday, I thought I would break it down. 

Sustainability basically means doing things in a way that can be carried on indefinitely. Most of the time, we can think of this in terms of using resources or generating waste. Each system can generate a certain amount of new resources in a given time period. Each system can clean itself of a certain amount of waste. So naturally, if we make more waste than the system can remove, it will become polluted. This may decrease how much resources it can make. If we consume more resources than can be generated, the consumers will eventually not have those resources and starve.

Simple right? Well, let us look at the math. Imagine a system with edible plants as a resource. We eat the plants and they will grow by ten percent each season. If we start with 100 and we eat ten, the remaining 90 will grow by 9. So next season, we will have 99. We eat ten. The next season we will have 98.9, but there is no such thing as 0.9 of a plant so…98. Eat ten. 88+10%=96. So if we take all we can, we actually deplete the system. 

So we need to take less than it generates. So starting over, perhaps we could take 9. The remaining 91 would generate 9 whole plants. 100! Awesome. 

Unfortunately, accidents happen. Storms, disease, invasive species etc. may change our system periodically in intense ways. So even if we continue in this way, a disease that destroys just one of our crop plants may destroy the system we had created. So we need to take in a way that allows the system to actually grow. 100-8=92. 92+9=101. Better.101-8=93. 93+9=102. This is progress, but then we realize that the human population is growing and as takers, we cannot use the same eight plants as our population grows larger and larger.

All in all, it will take considerable restraint to take so little that the world does not suffer. To be fair, much of the world exists on far less than what is sustainable. A small portion of consumers impact the world in greater ways than the majority. 

For example, imagine a 154 lb man would need about 1000ml (32 oz) of water per day to survive. Now look at your friends, family and yourself. How many times did you flush a toilet today? One flush of an older toilet may use 3.5 gallons (447 oz) give or take and up to 7 gallons. How long did you shower? Did you leave the water running while you brushed your teeth? 

Have you ever heard of people suffering from a drought, without access to clean water? Now consider this. Water, when naturally free, cools our planet, cleans our air and soil and transports nutrients and organisms vital to the functioning of life on earth. Now consider, more drinkable water on our planet is in pipes and toilet tanks in industrialized nations than is available to some of the poorest countries. 

Socially, we have taught generations that passing waste is shameful and should be done in hiding, but pooping in drinkable water is not. This goes for many waste streams and resources. Economically, we have learned to charge one another for access to basic human rights like clean water and this includes destroying the fresh water resources in other countries. Environmentally, we have learned to partition the environment in a way that we can export our pollution or hide it so it is easier to deny, until it leaks over into our lives.

We need to see sustainability. S.E.E. Sustainability. Social, Economic and Environmental Sustainability.

Happy Earth Day.

Speaking to the youths

next to famous

wil haygood with LenoFame amuses me. It is all based primarily on probability. what are the chances, you were born here, met this person or that, got into this school, had parents who introduced you to some art etc. How many grades, paychecks, missed buses, hospital visits, letters written and emails unsent have put you where you are now?
Yesterday, I got to meet Wil Haygood.
He told us about being born ill and spending the first few days of life in the hospital, finding a letter to Thurgood Marshall in a box that had not been catalogued and thereby meeting a new hero.
I got a selfie with him and not because he is famous, but he is modest. He is approachable. cool. Wil Haygood wrote “The Butler” and worked on the movie with Oprah Winfrey.


I hit snooze

To some this may seem mundane, a common everyday thing, but not for me. Each day my alarm goes off I pop out of bed and get to it. Pray, wash the dishes in the sink, walk the dogs, get dressed, go to work and school etc. 

Yesterday was different, because over the past week, the bills have been piling up, the funding has been drying up and the stress has been piling up. So I hit snooze. I did not want to get out of bed or face the day. But lying there, I heard the voices of my mom and my grandmother telling me things always work out as long as you keep doing what is right. I went to work, and I did my job. I did the slow smile a few times. I came home and walked the dogs. We all needed that. I talked to Alma. I needed that.

That evening, I went to an art reception in Hiestand Hall, where I met Joe’s mom. We talked about Joe’s choice to be an artist when he found he was unhappy pursuing a degree in physical therapy. We talked about that time being unhappy brining him to this place and this time, meeting all the amazing people in the art department he now works with. I realized I was preaching to myself at the same time.

Later I went to the meeting of MU SPEAK. A spoken word and poetry club on campus I sometimes wander into. I reconnected with some folks I have shared some great conversations with over the past year and met some new artists. This also encouraged me to finally create a page for my poetry on this website.

Finally, one of these poets in particular, whom I regularly interact with on discourse about God and who/what he is, invited me to dinner. I stopped and thought about it. I hit snooze, and Kellen patiently waited. I knew there was a lot I needed to do and I made the lists in my mind and checked things off and counted the days until this or that could happen. 

And I realized, everything put us in this place, at this time, ready for dinner. We had a great meal and a great conversation and we wrote a poem for a fellow poet (Sara) who had a physics exam after the meeting. I went home feeling somewhat refreshed. It was good, but sometimes…I need to hit snooze.

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