Friday, April 23, 2010

Mother V

A doctor from Dunfermline hospital phoned this morning to report the latest news concerning mother. X-rays and scans indicate that she has a fractured pelvis, a case for surgery which, subject to further discussions amongst the hospital personnel concerned, will be effected during today My sister and I can, apparently, veto this operation but to do so will condemn our mother to living out whatever is left of her life bedridden, dependent on painkilling drugs but far from necessarily free of suffering, and at high risk of a fatal chest infection. Reasoning that the professionals involved consider that she has a good chance of surviving an operation, my sister and I have raised no objection. It is painful to think of any fellow being suffering, particularly so when it is someone to whom one has had close association for life.
I feel the pains from the horns of a dilemma stabbing into me; the choices concerning mother's future. On the one hand if we allow nature freedom to take its course mother will be saved a good deal of short-term inconvenience but be at risk of having to endure a painful, albeit probably early, end to her days. On the other hand, by employing currently available surgical skills and clinical technology, she can be repaired to continue, with appropriate intensive care, to live the demented semi-life she has been living certainly since her accident last December and in increasing degrees for many months before that, more or less indefinitely .
My exposure, through mother's trials and tribulations, to the problems of old age and dementia has made me aware of the colossal scale of the problem and its cost to our society. How long, I wonder, until those presently canvassing for electoral support based largely on promises of least painful expenditure cuts will wake up to the savings to taxpayers to be made through quietly and efficiently disposing of the demented elderly? Presently nearer to seventy than to sixty; my concern, I believe, is justifiable!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The VW 'New' Beetle II

The VW 'Beetle' I have been using recently gave me something of a problem when the press-button door unlocking system failed to do its job.  Not knowing quite what to do to gain entry into the car I phoned the VW dealer in Perth.  The receptionist, Craig, suggested that I try the key to open the door manually; something I had not thought possible.  Manual unlocking worked well enough but it also triggered the deafening burglar alarm.  Somehow, I managed to silence the alarm and drove directly to Perth to have the problem diagnosed and corrected.   I arrived in Perth with no idea of the whearabouts of the VW dealership but, with the exceptionally helpful Craig acting through my cellphone as a human GPS, I was guided more or less directly to it.  The fault was soon diagnosed to lie with an exhausted battery in the key fob.  Five minutes later, and four pounds poorer, I was on my way home.
Light shed on bee-tricking orchid
By Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC News

More light has been shed on orchids that trick male bees into pollinating them by mimicking female insects.
The bees, lured by a pheromone-packed scent, attempt to mate with the flowers, but unwittingly carry away pollen after their visit.
The research is published in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.
Lead scientist Dr Nicolas Vereecken, from the Free University of Brussels (Universite Libre de Bruxelles), said: "This pollination strategy is only known in orchids.
The floral odour that the flowers produced, he said, was key.
To find out more about the orchid's deceptive methods, a team of researchers from Belgium, Switzerland and Italy looked at two species of orchids that grow in southern France: Ophrys arachnitiformis and Ophrys lupercalis .
While both of these species draw in males by acting as female impersonators, they both emit very different scents that attract different species of bees.
Dr Vereecken told BBC News: "We have seen the male of one bee species that usually visits Ophrys arachnitiformis visiting the other orchid. And it picks up one pollen mass on its head and another pollen mass its back.
"It shows how fast this reproductive isolation can be broken down in a single visit."
The scientists had previously thought that any orchid hybrids would produce a female-enticing scent that was mid-way between the aromas that its parent plants produced.
But this hybrid was producing a completely different odour, which in turn attracted the sexual advances of a third bee species.
Prior to this discovery, the researchers had thought that new species of orchids came about through gradual mutations, which over time altered the orchids' scent until they attracted new pollinators, preventing any cross-pollination with their un-mutated form.
But the unearthing of the hybrid had added another dimension, said Dr Vereecken.
He said: "Here we have a drastic change just in one generation.
Now, scientists working in the south of France have found how the flowers' false advertising could help new species of orchids to arise.
"For flowers to attract insects by imititating the female mating signals instead of advertising nectar or oil or pollen is very peculiar."
Dr Vereecken said: "Because they usually attract different solitary bee species, and the position of each bee on the orchid is different - for one species, the insect picks up the pollen masses on its head, on the other one, it picks up the pollen masses on its back - there is virtually no chance for cross-pollination to occur."
However, the scientists were surprised to find a large population of a hybrid species of orchid growing nearby, created by interbreeding between Ophrys arachnitiformis and Ophrys lupercalis .
Video surveillance revealed that the bees, which usually were only lured to one species of orchid, had for some reason been tempted to play the field.
After the team looked more closely at the new hybrid orchid, they made another surprising discovery.
This would mean, if the hybrid was not sterile, as this one was, that an entirely new species of orchid had been created.
1 of 222/04/2010 07:09
BBC News - More light shed on orchids that deceive bees

"This study shows virtually all the steps leading to the creation of a new species."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2010/04/21 09:16:54 GMT

Mother IV

At 3p.m.last Monday, mother's 91st birthday, there was to have been a meeting at 'Ashley House' involving all parties concerned with mother's well being and her future. On Monday morning the management of 'Ashley House' advised my sister and me that the meeting was postponed until the following day. On Tuesday morning they further advised us that the representative from Social Services, a key advisor, had been called away urgently. As she could not be present the meeting must be abandoned until further notice; there would be telephone contact on Friday to make a new arrangement.
On Wednesday morning mother fell from her bed, dislocating her hip. Presently she is 'comfortable' in Dunfermline Hospital. This accident has put things right back to where they were a month ago. All I can be sure of is that I shall need to be here for at least another few weeks.