WINTER, 2013!
It’s not just what you have done but what you
are doing and what you aspire to do next.
Nini Baird Among the 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada Evelyn Palmer
On December 3rd., the National Post and the Financial Post magazine announced that Nini Baird, one of our well-­‐known SFURA members, is on the list of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women, and that she won the award in the SunLife Financial Arts and Communications category. Nini was nominated by TELUS Corporation CEO, Darren Entwistle. The 2013 winners were announced formally at a Gala Dinner in Toronto on December 4th.
Nini came to SFU from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked with many of the great artists and performers who lived in the San Francisco Bay area or visited it. She saw how important it was for students to be exposed to great artists, and when she came to SFU in 1966, she provided that experience with artists in residence such as the Lyric Arts Trio (1971-­‐72) and the Purcell String Quartet 1972. She managed filming of The Groundstar Conspiracy (staring George Peppard) on campus in 1971 and its world premiere in 1972.
SFU Retirees will remember her at SFU from 1966 to 1977 for bringing drama, music and dance to the Theatre where she was in the Centre for Communications and the Arts as Publicity Coordinator, Theatre and Events Manager, and then Director. When the Centre for the Arts changed from offering non-­‐credit courses to become an academic department, she was the Director of Public Programming.
In 1977, Nini joined the Vancouver School of Art to create their outreach program. The VSA became the Emily Carr College of Art and Design in 1980. Subsequently she worked for the Provincial Government and with The Knowledge Network.
WINTER, 2013
Nini’s continuing achievements long after her official retirement are an inspiration to all retirees. In 1994, she was invested with the Order of Canada by the Governor General at Rideau Hall. She became the founding chair of the TELUS Vancouver Community Board in 2005 and begins her 10th year in that role in 2014. Her group supports Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley non-­‐profit youth organizations in the fields of education, sport, arts and culture, health and well-­‐being.
She is the chairperson of the Board of the Knowledge Network Corporation, and has been the chair since 2006. Recently she was asked to chair the Telus Fund Board to support the production of Canadian Content on innovation in health and wellness. SFU Retirees will remember that in 2006 Nini received the President’s 40th Anniversary Award for “lifetime devotion to the arts and early leadership in the creation of the SFU School for Contemporary Arts.” She turned 80 this year but is still working “practically fully time”, as she puts it, juggling three current major responsibilities: she is the chairperson of the Telus Vancouver Community Board, The Knowledge Network Foundation, and the Telus Fund. In 1995 Nini chaired a panel called “Working After 60 Something” for the SFU Conference on “Rethinking Retirement”. And since then she has never really “retired” in fact, she seems to be gathering steam, and in the process, inspiring other retirees to believe that it is never too late. THE SCIENCE REPORT
This is the first in a series of brief reports about the work of retirees in the field of science. After a call for studies being conducted by retirees, over ten projects were submitted. This is one of them. . Production of Radiotherapeutic Isotopes for Medical Applications
Radioactive isotopes are constantly being used (e.g. over one million applications annually in North America) for such diagnostic applications as PET (Positron Emission Tomography) searches for cancer. Radioactive isotopes can also be used for therapeutic purposes but at present their usefulness in this area is limited. This limitation is due primarily to the purity of these isotopes. When such isotopes are produced by a nuclear reaction, the purity is poor as the desired product is diluted by the presence of the target material (isotope of the same element). For about three years and using funds received from the USA Department of Energy, we have been working on a different technology to produce the required high purity (or high specific activity) of one particular radioisotope. If this procedure works for one isotope, it could work for many others. Recently we just completed our first test run to produce high purity samples of the radioisotope, samarium-­‐153. Using isotope mass separation with an electromagnetic facility, we produced a sample of over 90% purity, and this was sent to a collaborating laboratory to initiate pre-­‐clinical studies to assess whether the use of such high purity material is compelling. This isotope, when incorporated in the drug, Quadramet, is used at present for alleviating pain in bone cancer, but with high purity, it could possibly be used for therapy in the treatment of this disease. Different aspects of this project are being conducted at the TRIUMF laboratory here in Vancouver, at MURR (Missouri University Research Reactor), at ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) and at the biochemical firm, IsoTherpeutics Group, in Angleton, Texas. There will be a talk in the Spring in the 2014 SFURA seminar series by Dr. Tom Ruth, who will describe other aspects of the use of radioisotopes for medical applications. John D’Auria
WINTER, 2013
Presidents Message...John D’Auria
State of the SFURA
As we approach the end of the calendar year, it is a reasonable time to provide the SFURA membership a report on the status of association. As with any organization, there is both good news and bad news. On the good side we have a healthy financial situation, a strong membership, and many interesting and enjoyable activities organized by members. The seminars have been excellent and well attended, the walking group has been quite active with weekly sojourns, and the Fall Dinner was quite a hit, especially given the excellent talk by Prof. Andre Gerolymatos of SFU History. A very positive action has been the funding (created last year) that retirees from the Faculty of Arts and Social Science can receive for individual projects. A similar fund is now available from the Faculty of Science as was recently announced to the membership. In addition in the FASS a retired faculty can partner with active faculty to invite speakers to come to SFU and this is a very positive opportunity for our members. We continue to work on our relationship with the University senior administration and have particularly enjoyed the recognition of SFURA from SFU President Petter.
The main reason for establishing the SFURA some years ago was to promote activities to bring retirees together and on this criteria, SFURA is a success. However on the other side while membership is strong, unfortunately, it has remained relatively constant (~345) over the last few years. This is surprising as the number of retirees from SFU increases each year. Our association is not attracting a high number of the retiring staff, administrators and faculty. We are starting a campaign to increase membership and with this note I am asking members to assist on a personal level to encourage friends and colleagues who have recently retired, to consider becoming members. Equally, the Executive would welcome any suggestions on what we can and should do to attract more of those who retire each year from SFU.
...About Your Newsletter
At present, all members receive the SFURA Newsletter by email but we have been told
that some would prefer receiving it by regular mail. If you would prefer to receive a
hard copy by regular mail, please contact Marg Jones at [email protected] or call
WINTER, 2013
SFU Team Discovers Cave Rituals in Indonesia.
by Brian Hayden
During previous ethnoarchaeological investigations on Sumba, an island in Indonesia, Suzanne
Villeneuve and Ron Adams were collecting information on traditional feasting as part of my SSHRC
Standard Research grant. During this work, Suzanne Villeneuve discovered an unrecorded
organization of ritual specialists who used caves in their rituals. As is typical of much archaeological
fieldwork, this discovery occurred in the last few days of the field season and she had only a very
limited time to gather initial information about this cave use. Because people could only enter the
ritual caves at one time of the year, she could not, at that time, actually enter the cave for observations. However, she was taken to the entrance of one of the sacred caves and invited to return by some of the
village members and the ritual custodian of the cave.
This discovery presented an incredible opportunity to contribute great insights into the
prehistoric ritual use of caves. Documentation of the use of caves for traditional rituals is
extremely rare in the anthropological literature and has not been recorded previously for
communities on Sumba, even though there are over 1,000 limestone caves on the island
(only a few of which appeared to have been special "sacred" caves used for rituals). Dr. John Craig, the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, had the foresight and interest to establish a fund
for retirees who wished to continue research work, but who are low in priority ranking for other grant
funds such as SSHRC Small Grants. I was fortunate enough to obtain one of Dean Craig's grants to
pursue the investigation of the ritual use of caves on Sumba. I was hoping to return with Suzanne
Villeneuve this year to re-establish connections made by her previously and to further investigate the
situation that was recorded during Suzanne's first encounter. However, I was unable to secure enough
additional funds for both of us to make the trip, so we agreed that she should use the grant funds to
explore the possibilities further and see if the situation warranted applying for a much more substantial
grant. Her pilot study, made possible with the Dean's grant, was a resounding success for obtaining critical
information, re-establishing connections and building new connections to assist with planning future
research. She was able to meet with important ritual specialists and guardians of some caves, and she
was able to visit two sacred caves, enter one of the sacred caves, and visit three other non-sacred caves
for comparison. She was able to establish good rapport with key people in the area who were
enthusiastic about continuing to work with her in future years, and about sharing their knowledge of
the use of caves. This paves the way, and in fact is essential, for applying for more substantial research
funding to document the use of these caves. We are hoping that such a study may help provide
archaeologists insight into how and why some prehistoric caves (such as the French painted Upper
Paleolithic caves, like Lascaux) were used for ritual purposes. While, the documenting of this use is something that Suzanne Villeneuve will be undertaking, being
able to assist in this work and help make it possible, as well as the future possibility of being able to
enter these sacred caves and witness the rituals taking place in them would be a dream come true for an
ethnoarchaeologist like myself. !
WINTER, 2013
The village on Sumba and
the megalithic tombs that
were the focus of the team’s
earlier work on feasting.
Near the end they heard
about the rituals in the caves
and were invited to attend.
Can they get back?
The depths of the caves.
Is this where the rituals
are held? What are they
and what do they show
us about the meaning of
Lascaux and other sites
of prehistoric cave art?
We wish our colleagues--Suzanne and Brian--success in raising the grant money they need for
their research, and we look forward to hearing what they discover about the rituals that are held
in the caves. Ed.
WINTER, 2013
The Socialist Report
Tom O’Shea
A Retrospective on the Marg Jones Stakes
Last August, 34 SFURA members attended the Marg Jones Stakes -- our annual event at the Hastings
Racetrack. I thought it might be worth a look back to see how this has become such a popular outing for
us, attracting between 30 and 40 members each year.
It all began in the year 2000 with George Suart’s invitation to the track:
It's not about winning.
It's about the RUSH of adrenaline when the horses break from the gate ...the BLUR of jewel-toned silks as they STREAK by
in a THUNDER of hooves ...the breathless ANTICIPATION as your horse comes up on the outside ...
Okay, it's about winning.
The next year Marg Jones took over the reins and organized the event each year from 2001 to 2008. In
2009, I took over as organizer and have been doing it ever since, with Marg’s valuable help. Also in
2009, in recognition of Marg’s years of devotion to this day the Executive voted to name it the Marg
Jones Stakes.
The event has not escaped criticism. In 2007, one of our members lodged an objection citing several
sources that described horse racing as a cruel sport. Norman Swartz, President at that time, followed up
with enquiries to the Chair of Equine Health in the Large Animals Clinical Sciences Department at the
University of Saskatchewan who responded (in part): “In my opinion, the vast majority of individuals
involved in the horse racing industry have the best interests of their athletes [horses] foremost in their
minds.” I was impressed at the civility of the email exchange between our member and our President.
Norm reported to the Executive that he could not find evidence to substantiate the member’s claim.
Part of the day’s attraction, I think, is the camaraderie that develops over the afternoon. We don’t have
many events in which we meet and socialize over four to five hours. The buffet is always excellent and
the bets are typically at the $2 level so no one loses or wins very much. We are in the Silks Restaurant
out of inclement weather (although we really haven’t experienced any in my memory) at tables with
racing monitors. Staff are always helpful in
explaining how to bet and suggesting
And the races themselves are,
frankly, very exciting.
This year I took a few candid photos and I
thought I would share my favourite. Here you
see Marg carefully studying the racing form,
Betsey Bowman assessing the odds on the
monitor, and George Suart dominating the
foreground, thinking deep thoughts.
Wonderful to see the originators, Marg and
George, still going strong.
WINTER, 2013
For a Good Read
Percilla Groves
There is nothing like a broken bone to free up lots of time for reading. Possibly too much.
several weeks after falling on a completely flat trail in Brownsburg, Quebec, thus fracturing the fifth
metatarsal of my left foot, I was encumbered by an “air cast”, a plastic and canvas contraption held
together with Velcro; so I know whereof I speak.
Badkhen, Anna.
The World is a Carpet. Four Seasons in an Afghan Village.
Riverhead Books (A Division of Penguin), 2013. The inhabitants of Oqa, the remote undeveloped
village chronicled here, stay because it is ignored equally by the Taliban and by the foreign troops
(Canadians among them) who have come to help. Badkhen has an uncommon ability to write about
‘the other’ without judgment or pity. At the end of the four seasons of the title a hand-tied carpet is
on its way by donkey to parts unknown and unimaginable to the villagers -- perhaps to a Vancouver
carpet store.
Dunant, Sarah. Birth of Venus. London: Little, Brown (Division of Time Warner), 2003.
Dunant, Sarah. In the Company of the Courtesan. London: Little, Brown (Division of Time
Warner) 2006.
Dunant, Sarah. Sacred Hearts. London: Virago Press (Division of Little, Brown), 2009. Historical
fiction is not a genre I have read since gorging as a teenager on the matchless tomes: Gone With
the Wind and Forever Amber. However, while I was housebound, a friend visited with a full
shopping bag selected from her shelves and I was seduced by the beautiful presentation and the
smooth flow of Dunant’s storytelling. The women in this trio of books confront familiar women’s
issues against the setting of the Italian Renaissance.
Hingston, Michael. The Dilettantes.
Calgary: Freehand Books/ Broadview Press, 2013.
readers of this newsletter have also read The Peak, that sometimes brilliant and sometimes pathetic
campus newspaper. This first novel is set in the editorial offices of The Peak and the journalistic crisis
that carries the plotline involves distribution on campus of a freebie newspaper. One wants to write
a letter to the fictional editor suggesting the invocation of AD l.06, a policy almost as old as SFU itself.
(Look it up!) Highly recommended for lovers of campus novels.
Stouck, David. Arthur Erickson: An Architect’s Life. Vancouver: Douglas and McIntyre, 2013.
Erickson’s vision of the university has shaped all of us who spent our working years on the Burnaby
campus. The Mall and the AQ, grand inspirational spaces like no others in our country.
windowless offices that could only have been designed by someone who never spent long in one
place. Another outstanding biography by an English Department professor emeritus. Also available
on Kindle.
The holiday season will be upon us when you read this. For those of you who indulge in the
potlatching associated with the season, consider your neighbourhood independent book store as a
one-stop shop. Here in Burnaby Heights we are fortunate to have two: Companion Books (Hastings
and Gilmore) and Brown Books (Hastings and Boundary). These places are a civilized alternative to
malls and chains. Keeping them in business performs a service to society.
where no one would talk politics it has become one where the press -­‐ especially, as in Russia in the late 80s, the English language press -­‐ has become almost free. From a tourist's point of view, entry is easy, red tape is minimal, and "guides" (i.e. minders) are no longer obligatory. And unlike post -­‐ Soviet Russia, crime seems benign. James Dean Direct from Myanmar (December 15th)
Post-­‐Repression Paradoxes
Most of my life I have been warned off traveling to dangerous or politically incorrect countries. When I was 12, my mother's family tried to stop her from schlepping me off to Nazi-­‐ridden post-­‐war Germany, but we went and stayed for three years; at 23 my thesis adviser tried (successfully) to stop me from accepting a Commonwealth Fellowship to Nigeria ("You will learn nothing about Development Economics in an Underdeveloped Economy"); at 30 my SFU colleagues warned against wasting a semester in Japan ("They are misguidedly interventionist"); at 40 it was South Africa ("They must be boycotted") and China ("You will die of food poisoning"); at 50 and 60 it was Ukraine, Bulgaria and Albania ("The deputy governor of the Ukrainian central bank has just been shot in back of his head by silenced pistol") … and so on. This is not to deny that conflict continues between the Buddhist majority and Muslim and tribal minorities, but it does not seem to be state-­‐
sponsored. Indeed, Aung San Suu Kyi herself is quite circumspect when pushed by the foreign press to comment on persecution of minorities, claiming the situation is "complex". Here in Rakhine state, some towns impose a 6 pm -­‐ 6 am curfew, and police shields are visibly stockpiled, because of occasional incidents between Buddhists and Muslims. The contrast between the populace and past politics is particularly stark in countries that emerge from repression. Sometimes -­‐ as in post Communist states of the USSR or Eastern Europe -­‐ it results in a corrupt and greedy rush for the spoils. Here in Myanmar that does not seem to be the case. Perhaps the Buddhist tradition of self-­‐effacement plays a role. Or perhaps the military that is still in power still wields a stick, albeit more benign, and is quietly capturing a good share of the foreign investment boom that is now well underway. Now, at 72, I am told to boycott Uganda ("They persecute East Indians"); Sri Lanka ("They massacre Tamils") and Myanmar ("They massacre Muslims and minority tribes"). I have just visited all three. In all three, ordinary people seemed considerably kinder and gentler than in most of Europe or North America (as, by the way, did ordinary Germans in 1953). Yet Idi Amin's atrocities are just an generation old, Sri Lanka's war with the Tamil-­‐Tigers ended just four years ago, and until three years ago, Myanmar imposed on its people one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Many middle aged people in Uganda remember Idi fondly; most non-­‐Tamils in Sri Lanka revere and applaud the Family Compact that eliminated "terrorism" and now attracts investment and tourism in abundance; fewer police are in evidence in Yangon than in Vancouver. In my experience it is almost always wrong to "boycott" a country by refusing to visit or do business. Showing up in a repressive regime usually helps, not hinders, ordinary people to see beyond the propaganda of their oppressors, and gives them hope and optimism. This was true of China before 1979, the USSR and Eastern Europe before 1989, and South Africa before 1991. It is true of Iran and Egypt and Palestine and Gaza now. I hope to visit North Korea soon. The change in Myanmar is in some ways more d r a m a t i c t h a n i t w a s i n R u s s i a after glasnost and perestroika. From a country !
WINTER, 2013
WINTER, 2013
It’s All About You
Evelyn Palmer
Our heartiest congratulations are extended to Sandra Djwa, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for non-­‐fiction, announced on November 13, 2013. Her biography of PK Page, poet and artist, is entitled Journey With No Maps. Sandra is Professor Emeritus of SFU’s Department of English and is a longtime member of the SFURA. There was a feature article about her and the book in the Spring 2013 SFURA Newsletter, and she presented a talk in our seminar series this autumn on September 17, 2013. Sandra has had a busy year since the publication of the book last October; Story-­‐telling at the Vancouver International Festival of Writers, readings at West Vancouver and Vancouver Public Libraries, radio interviews, book launches and signings in Victoria, Toronto and Montreal. Her book was shortlisted for five prizes including the Stuart -­‐Stubbs prize for the most scholarly book in BC and the prestigious Charles Taylor Award for literary non-­‐fiction.
An article in the Vancouver Sun announcing the award is at:
Joan Foster (retired Senior Lecturer, Psychology) and her husband Jonathan Kline (retired family practice GP) have volunteered to raise a yellow labrador retriever for the B.C. and Alberta Guide Dog Services (BCGDS). They picked up the puppy in mid-­‐April at the tender age of seven weeks and will provide a home and training until the pup is 15 to 18 months of age. At that time the puppy goes into full-­‐time professional training requiring an additional 3 to 4 months. The BCGDS is a non-­‐profit organization whose function is to provide trained dogs to assist visually impaired or blind individuals. This organization also works with their sister charity, Autism Support Dogs, so some of the dogs are trained to support autistic children and their families.
Joan writes: “As puppy raisers, our job is to socialize the dog, meaning the puppy goes everywhere we go as long as she is wearing her blue guide dog jacket. The goal is to provide as many experiences as possible (restaurants, stores, elevators and escalators, public transit, cars, other dogs, adults, and children -­‐ the list is limitless). The puppies arrive pre-­‐named (donors can name a puppy) and we think our puppy has a perfect name, "Compass"! If anyone wants more information, please email me ([email protected]) or visit the websites (http://www.bcguidedog.com/ or http://www.autismsupportdogs.org/) -­‐ maybe you will want to become a puppy raiser yourself!”
The Summer, 2013 issue had a wonderful article about Ronald Harrop written by Steve Henslow. There is one correction; Ron writes that he is currently 87, not 95 years of age. Another note in this column in the Summer Newsletter was by Leigh Palmer concerning The New Geezer Craze, Massive Open Online Courses. Leigh completed his summer course on Useful Genetics and is now a Community TA for its repeat performances. I (Evelyn) have just completed two online music courses, one on Beethoven’s piano sonatas and one on the History of Western Music. Check out the offerings of Coursera, one of the companies that distributes them, at http://www.coursera.org
Dan McDonald has been active in promoting the KIVA program, Loans the Change Lives, and reporting on the friendly competition between SFU and UBC for donations to the program. See: http://www.kiva.org/ . This is his update for the period September 30 2012 -­‐ September 30 2013
WINTER, 2013
SFU participants have increased from 46 to 55 a 19.6% increase
UBC participants have increased from 61 to 71 a 16.4% increase
Cumulative $ lent
SFU $ loans have increased from $15,175 to $22,550 an increase of 48.6%
UBC $ loans have Increased from $15,550 to $20,225 an increase of 30.1%
This could be an idea for a Christmas gift, to make a contribution in the name of your recipient with a loan to Kiva for as little as $25.00 If you contribute through the Kiva website, please indicate that you are a member of the SFU Team.
Marilyn Bowman has revived a latent talent in painting. Her talent was discovered when she was in grade 3 in Edmonton, sent by her school to take painting classes at the Art Gallery, but then life intervened. Suddenly in 2010, five years into retirement, she decided to take a course in acrylic painting with Georgia Youngs at the Kerrisdale Community Centre. She is now painting up a storm. Her web page shows 53 images, but there may be more by now, she is so prolific. She and her classmates have held three shows, including a recent one in October, and we hope she will alert us again for the next show. And yes, she will sell them. She writes: “It turns out I am quite a fast painter; I really get into kind of a frenzy as I paint, and the hours just fly by. People can see my paintings on my website, and can find my website simply by Googling "Marilyn Bowman paintings" -­‐ or going to the full URL at: http://marilynbowman.shawwebspace.ca/
I'm very happy to sell them too -­‐ just email me at [email protected] Prices are reasonable.”
the! 2014!SFURA
! Spring
On Tuesdays in Room 126 at The Halpern Centre
! Don’t miss
these excellent talks that are open to all retirees:
Tues. February 18th. Dr Thomas Ruth. The Medical Isotope Crisis. How did this happen and
what is being done about it?
Disruptions in the supply of medical isotopes have caused Canada to lose its role as leader in isotope
production. This talk will describe the events that led to this crisis and what is being done to alleviate
the shortages. The talk is suitable for the general public.
Tues. March 18th
Dr. Lionel Jackson. Are we alone in the universe? Geologic insights into
the unliklihood of us.
Searches for messages from outer space yield silence and the geologic record reveals unlikely
events that led to us. This talk is a look at that evidence.
Tues. April 1st
Dr. Marilyn Bowman. Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon.
Bhutan is a tiny Himalayan kingdom with a tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and a King who declares
that Gross National Happiness is more important than GDP. This is a talk based on a recent visit-with pictures.! !
Jackie Viswanathan!
What Will I Do in Retirement? WINTER, 2013
Larry Albright
For me the answer is freshwater farming because it gives me daily exercise and it enables me to put into practice some ideas about sustainable fish farming that I developed while still on faculty. I am part owner of a Rainbow trout and Sockeye salmon farm in Fort Langley. The farm not only gives me daily physical activity, it also challenges me mentally trying to figure out how to grow the fish in an ecologically sound and profitable manner. In the process I lost eight pounds, but gained a much better appreciation of business and farming.
We provide 600 pounds of Sockeye salmon to retail outlets throughout western Canada. Sales are increasing and are only limited by my inability to meet the demand. One day some people will abandon wild Sockeye in favour of aquacultured Sockeye and we want to be ready.
Farming a new species such as Sockeye requires an in-­‐depth knowledge of the natural history of the species, its nutritional requirements, its common diseases and how to control them without the use of antibiotics or other therapeutants. We have done this with success: our fish are Ocean Wise approved for sustainability. The Ocean Wise program of the Vancouver Aquarium certifies that our seafood is sustainable and does not diminish wild stocks.
The pictures show our cultured Sockeye salmon. You can see more at this site: http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=-­‐tYs8WDuJuM&feature=plcp. In the next newsletter I will tell you some of things we did to obtain this certification, the improvements we carried out on the farm to ensure the waste-­‐water from the farm does not pollute our BC waterways, and maybe a little more about the Ocean Wise program that we helped to develop.
Getting Well and Staying Well
WINTER, 2013
by Parveen Bawa
The computational unit in the brain, a neuron, consists of a cell body out of which erupt tree-­‐like processes called dendrites which act as the antennas to receive information from other neurons. The area between two neurons where they communicate with each other is called a synapse; communication at the synapse occurs via chemical molecules called neuro-­‐transmitters. A strong synapse is central to the functioning of the nervous system. Detailed structure of the brain changes through one’s life span which is determined by genetics and the environment. With aging, dendrites shrink, synapses become weaker or die; ultimately neurons start to die later-­‐-­‐almost in the ninth decade.Exercise appears to enhance the production of neurotrophins, such as brain-­‐derived neurotrophic factor, insulin-­‐like growth factor, nerve growth factor, which are naturally occurring growth factors. Plasticity of the nervous system is the ability of the nervous system to reorganize its connections to meet the new demands. It has been shown that neural circuits can be changed in a time frame as short as 15 minutes, but long term effects take a few months. Plasticity occurs at many levels, and one does not need generations of new neurons (neurogenesis) for it to occur. In a matter of days one can strengthen the synapses between communicating neurons. Over weeks one can generate more synapses. All these mechanisms can occur at all ages and in ever y part of the brain. Although neurogenesis can occur at all ages, it does not occur in all parts of the brain. Plasticity is not always have a positive word: drug addiction, for example, is synaptic plasticity brought on by drugs.
Exercise and Brain Plasticity: A strong positive correlation exists between cardiorespiratory fitness and the structure and functions of various brain regions in older adults. Exercise activates molecular and cellular processes which s u p p o r t p l a s t i c i t y a n d b r i n g s a b o u t neurogenesis. If exercise is maintained, the new neurons mature, make connections and are integrated in the neural networks. Video games and cross-­‐word puzzles do not affect the cardio-­‐
respiratory systems, yet they do benefit the brain. An enriched environment can support the effects of exercise. Dancing has been shown to improve posture, balance, reaction times, visuo-­‐
spatial ability, cognitive function and motor performance, but it does not improve cardio-­‐
respiratory performance. Movement with dancing to music may improve the brain differently than does aerobic exercise. Virtual reality 3D games played while walking on the treadmill had huge benefits for cognitive function. To improve eye-­‐hand coordination, tennis, badminton and table tennis may be very beneficial. Stress and depression lead to decrease in blood vessels and neurogenesis in the hippocampus (part of the brain for learning and memory). Regular exercise has antidepressant effects and it increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus. It has been suggested that in older adults an exercise training program might be at least as good as antidepressants. In fact, all anti aging supplements, including red wine, have mixed and sometimes opposite effects. Exercise is the only measure which has had consistent anti aging effects both physically and mentally. 12
WINTER, 2013
Marilyn Bowman
On Living in a World of Women
I have begun to realize that I live mostly in a world of women. Since the loss of
my partner last year I have become a solo operator in my daily life. I take initiatives to keep
me active and out in the world, but this world is nearly all female.
In part this reflects the reality that women comprise a high proportion of people active
in community life. At my community centre all the visible staff except the strong young man
who moves tables and chairs, are women. In my painting class, my teacher and all but two
classmates are women. In my coffee shop the baristas are all young women. When I send
out proposals for various entertainments and excursions to friends, all but one recipient are
solo women. When I went on a “roots road trip” a few years ago seeking the lands owned by
my ancestors in Oklahoma Indian Territory, the county clerks in every county seat I went to
for legal records, were all women. At my library book club the leader and all but one were
women, and my doctor and dentist and all their staff are women.
None of this is out of deliberate choice, as I have never believed in choosing a service
provider on the basis of sex, race, or creed. Earlier in my life the experts were nearly all men
but that has shifted, and I am happy to see women thriving in formerly-male occupations.
There are other reasons though, starting with the demographic, because at my age men are
vanishing with family changes and deaths. In addition, women are present in greater
proportions in employment involving human services for traditional reasons. But the actual
phenomenon of living mostly within a feminine universe is somewhat unsettling.
It’s hard to pinpoint the difference without slipping into cliché. Members of both sexes
can be funny and smart and current, but there is a difference in style. Conversations in allwomen groups tend to be personal stories with some implicit feeling that a consensus of
similar experiences will follow; the process is the thing. In groups where men predominate
there is more often talk in which men assert and stand their ground on public issues; the
outcome is the thing. In women’s groups I am more mellow, content to let talk ebb and flow
around me, while in men’s the display style elicits a stronger presence from me as I have the
sense I will be invisible unless I join the fray.
I appreciate qualities traditionally attributed to women such as attunement to
emotions, but I also enjoy the more rough and tumble male style that was present across my
65 years before retiring from university life. Our retirees association provides an important
exception to my feminine world, and I find it great to be among sassy men at our dinners
and events. Demographics being what they are, my situation can only become more
one-sided so I’ll have to work on this, but carefully, for not all men are created equal!
WINTER, 2013
The Financial Section
The Financial Interest Group (FIG) Report
Marvin Wideen, Tom O’Shea, & Phil Mah
The Fall 2013 session of the Financial Interest Group was held on October 29th at the Halpern Centre, and was entitled Individual Perspectives on Managing Retirement Income.
The session provided retirees and other interested people some ideas for their personal investments. Many retirees favour conservative approaches to managing their financial resources and just leave it to the professionals. Others are more actively involved. To give a variety of perspectives we invited members of the SFU Retirees Association to share their experiences in managing their finances during retirement. Presenters consisted of Marv Wideen, Jim Boyd, and Larry Albright. Each gave a short overview of his approach to financial management. This was followed by a time for questions and an opportunity for members to talk about their own experiences.
Marv focused on swing trading in the stock market and proposed a number of key steps inthat process. First, develop a list of securities that you would be prepared to invest in for the short term if you are swing trading, or longer term if you prefer that mode of investing. The Investor’s Digest, available on newsstands and by subscription, provides an excellent source from a range of perspectives. The second step is to study the charts of stocks to make decisions on which to buy and when. Internet sources such as Yahoo Finance provide charts, and other sources on the internet are available for guidance in timing. The third and forth steps involve setting up a plan and entering a trade. Those who have written about trading are very strong in their position of carefully following your prescribed plan, particularly avoiding excessive losses if the trade goes wrong. Marv noted that some have criticized this option because of its “casino like nature. His own experience has been quite satisfying and profitable. After dabbling with trading stocks periodically for a while, and reading a few books and other online material, he developed a disciplined plan to follow. Using about $15,000, he undertook a two-­‐month period of swing trading and produced a 10% gain.
Jim’s approach was to contrast investing styles between a do-­‐it-­‐yourself (DIY) approach as described in a Globe and Mail article by Rob Carrick and by investing with the use of a full service financial advisor as illustrated in Nick Murray’s book Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth. Carrick outlined nine essential tools for the DIY investor; Murray’s approach focused on avoiding eight great mistakes.
Larry gave a brief presentation near the end, giving details of his own financial picture and how he plans to maintain his and his wife’s assets over his retirement years. Presenters and a number of attendees retired to the DAC for lunch and a lively discussion around financial issues. All were agreed that it is necessary for an individual to actively plan and monitor their finances regardless of the means by which they make their investments. 14
WINTER, 2013
Walkers Walk On with Hope in their Hearts But Not Alone
These walkers are seeing a lot of country and they are having a very good time doing it. This fall they have been to Deer Lake, Minnekhada Park, NorVan Creek and Falls, Whyte Lake, Buntzen Lake, Mundy Park, Sasamat Lake, Point Roberts and more.
You may want to join them on their next adventure. If so, contact Clarence Aasen, Parveen
Bawa,Ted Cohn, or David Ryeburn. A walk in Balcarra Park is coming up and it sounds exciting.
And you can walk alone, with your head up high, if you really want to.
WINTER, 2013
On the Move
lI wonder how many of you have moved recently and in that move found yourself downsizing, too. We are right in the middle of both and I am discovering that it involves much more than moving our goods from one location to another. The moving journey is, of course, launched by the necessity of transporting our goods, but downsizing also requires that the goods be seriously reduced in quantity. So there we are; my wife sorting out the furniture and marking it with destinations, cleaning, and all of her other whirlwind imitations while I, like Hamlet musing over Yorick’s skull, contemplate a book of John Donne’s poetry, meditations, and sermons: it should go, but how can I part with “For god’s sake hold your tongue and let me love,” “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls,” and “No man is an island.” My wife has reorganized and cleaned our community and I am still standing over a box with three books in it for keeping.-­‐-­‐and there are 2500 more to save or chuck. They are a table of my contents. That is me on those shelves: what’s up there is in here. And there is still Finnigans Wake to finish. Fortunately the buyer comes to my rescue. She has no books for all the shelves and she buys the leftovers by the yard, but cannot calm my wife who is backing the moving van up to the door fiercely.
Paintings offer a similar problem. There are nudes from my bachelor period-­‐-­‐long suppressed in a dark corner-­‐-­‐that quite clearly cannot make the cut. And then there is my carving studio crammed with exquisite woods, work benches, and tools large and small, but I have not carved and sold a sculpture for a long time, and I suddenly have to defend having a workshop at all-­‐-­‐especially if it is going to cost-­‐-­‐and it always does. Clearly, a downsizing move confronts us with our very identity-­‐-­‐“Who am I now?” If I’m a carver, “Where the hell are the carvings and the bank deposits?” The trouble is that in getting older a lot of great things about being on the planet are slipping away and I don’t want the trickle to become a deluge, so I seriously contemplate a change in focus and a redoubling of effort, balancing acceptance with more rabid resistance. My wife is claiming to be busier than I and therefore more deserving of the larger office in the new house, so motivation is high. As soon as I find that book I was writing a few years ago, I’m getting to work again. It’s my new persona-­‐-­‐disciplined author sweating it out. Really. It will be a merry christmas! And quite possibly a better new year, don’t you think?