When I do the math of it, the year must have been 1955. Only a boy at the time, I began what would be over a decade of work on my family’s large dairy farm in Central Wisconsin…
It’s 4:30 in the morning or what many people call “the middle of the night.” This is around the time when that “Low” daily temperature which the meteorologists forecast approaches. In mid-July, the low rarely goes above 65 degrees Fahrenheit around here. During the coldest month, January, just divide that by 10, and you’ve got the average low. It’s January. Anyway, our cows don’t worry much about the cold. They’re more interested in the time; milking time, and that’s 4:30 a.m.
My task: Milk 50 cows before it’s time to go to school. From the moment I wake up, though, I’m learning. It’s real work, and the lessons include timeliness, discipline, productivity, and nature. All will play important roles in my future education and career…
At age 17, I was off to college; the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse, for starters. My childhood on the farm had engendered a healthy appetite for the sciences, and I embarked on my work towards degrees in biology and chemistry. As with all the arts and sciences, the more you learn, the more questions arise. I continued this wonderful cycle at St. Louis University, where I earned a degree in Nuclear Medicine Technology.
Next, I developed an interest in bionucleonics, which is the study of how radioactive materials can be applied to biological systems. That took me to West Lafayette, Indiana and Purdue University, where I received my master’s in Bionuclear Physics.
At this point, I’d like to note how the scientific education process often takes you from the macro (cows grazing on a pasture and producing milk), to the micro (chemistry), to the subatomic (nuclear medicine). Throughout, you are dealing in systems—a word that isn’t used nearly often enough, especially by politicians. Why? Because they want you thinking in terms of individual, supposedly unrelated “issues.” To quote our outgoing vice president, “Malarkey!”
On some level, all energy, all matter, is interconnected. This held true, of course, throughout my Ph.D. work in Membrane Physiology, in my coursework towards an M.D., and in my present career as a physician.
I live and work in balmy Orlando, Florida now, and those cold Wisconsin mornings with the blessed cattle are but fond memories. Their lessons in timeliness, discipline, productivity, and nature are part of me at the cellular level, for which I’m grateful. I’m glad you took the time to read this, and I’m happy I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to write it.
ULTIMATE ERROR, my upcoming novel, is about humankind’s reluctant connectedness to the world around us. How desperately we cling to the false hope that no consequences will come from our misuse of natural resources. We believe we can act with blinding avarice and impunity. If it weren’t so tragic, it would be comical.