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Saturday morning early here, January 27. Our lives now seem to be driven by the dinner bell. We are in residence at a real college, and meals are available three times a day. It is astonishing how quickly one’s stomach takes over the brain when meals get regular and there is social interaction at every meal. I noticed that this summer when I attended a writer’s retreat/workshop in North Carolina at a place called Wildacres. It is summer here, so there are very few students around, but the apartments and even some of the rooms are leased to visiting professors who are doing summer programs or are on sabatical. At the moment, the college is hosting fifty or sixty pharmaceutical students who are attending a conference. They wear T shirts around with slogans about how their mothers told them not to do drugs, so now they sell them.

Shortly after Stephanie and I arrived people began trickling in for a course in Permaculture. I learned a little about it from the doyen of the program one afternoon at lunch. It seems to cover a number of different areas, includiing agriculture, hydrology, soil analysis, banking, law and political science. Permaculture people go into “developing” countries with some expertise in all these areas to set up environmentally friendly programs for the poorest people on the planet. Their motto seems to be identical to the physician’s– first, do no harm.

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