Author Archives: tumbleweedstumbling

About tumbleweedstumbling

I have three blogs, embryogenesis explained, tumbleweed tumbling AND fulltimetumbleweed. I am a retired scientist, and my husband and I have written a book which was published by World Scientific Publishing in Nov 2016 called Embryogensis Explained. Full time tumbleweed was my first blog which I worked on during five years of living full time in a travel trailer. I have now retired that blog in favour of Tumbleweeds Tumbling since we bought a stick house in April 2015 and are no longer full-time. I have a blended family of five sons and one daughter, all grown up now. I am (step)grandmother to nine boys and one girl. My husband and I have a dog and two cats. We live in Manitoba, Canada, in a 480 square foot house on a half acre of land in the tiny town of Alonsa on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up in 1871 to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever.

Day 2 of the International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference


Day 2 of the International Disability Rights Conference opened with a talk about L’Arche. The speaker was Melanie Saxon, Community Leader / Executive Director of L’Arche Jacksonville (FL). She shared some of L’Arche’s history and mission through the use of short videos  and her own words. I must admit I had never heard of them before and I am kind of ashamed of myself for that since they appear to do wonderful things.

Virtual Ability member Mook Wheeler has created a number of displays and exhibits on Healthinfo Island about l’Arche, Jean Vanier, and the concept of community for persons with disabilities. If you are in Second Life, please visit them.


The second talk was Dr. Margaret Nosek, Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, TX, US) and two co-presenters, Stephanie Silveira and Rachel Markley. She got some group chat going about how our avatars interact and how they affect us. Having an avatar to go to a conference or get out and about to a support group makes life much easier for people with disabilities because they don’t have to leave home. It is especially important for people in rural areas or those who are isolated. We discussed a lot about safety on line and finding a community in Second Life. Members really wanted to have support and SL allowed people to find it while not leaving home. People also often want to represent themselves accurately and in SL you have to work at finding wheelchairs and canes. Also in SL architecture means you don’t need to have ramps and such for accessibility but many people feel it is an important political and educational statement to have them built in. Overall a fascinating and amusing talk. I have actually published on this topic.


Our second speaker has been “in world” since 1994 and the in world experience in the early days consisted of IM style chat rooms of the era. He also talked about Mike from NYC who would not share anything personal but provided widespread and great support in a Parkinson’s group. Seven years later Mike from New York turned out to be Michael J Fox! Our speaker then told a third story was about a platform where people could use emoticons. And the ones that loved it the most were people with mobius syndrome, people who were unable to show facial expressions. In his fourth story he talked about how people with autism and aspergers practiced in SL (Brigadoon Island) to work on RL situations. Scary in Real Life became manageable in Second Life eventually making Real Life more manageable.


The final speaker of the day was Shayla the Super Geeko who spoke about Persons With Disabilities and what happened to them on September 11. Over 200 PWDs died that day. Most did not survive because they could not evacuate. She then extended the concept to PWDs during disasters in general. We had a lot of talk about how PWDs have to make their own plans to be sure they get out in a disaster because depending on others will not work.

And so it was overall a fun, interesting and eye opening two day conference. I am very happy I was able to play a small part in the organization of the conference by finding introducers. Well done everyone involved!

International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference Day 1


I (meaning Natalie) spend time in the virtual word of Second Life doing a variety of things both serious and work related and just plain fun. Today I am attending and have the honor of being an introducer in the International Rights Disability Conference hosted in Second Life by Virtual Ability.

Virtual Ability is a great place designed to provide support and community for people with disabilities. Each year they host a conference designed to promote rights for people with disabilities and to encourage fuller participation of people with disabilities in their own community.

I have been providing very occasional and small consultative help to Virtual Ability almost since they started in Second Life. It has been astounding to me to see how this have taken off and grown from a tiny single plot in Second Life to an entire huge multi-sim island in Second Life with a large and vibrant community.

Entry into the virtual world  can be a bit intimidating and since different people come into Second Life with different aims and desires, there can be difficulties while newbies are adjusting. Virtual Ability provides a gentler and much more supportive environment for newbies.

idrc-conference_003In Second Life we get to pick what we look like and here you can see me, right foreground in my “professional” av. I am sitting with a cowboy, a geeko and turtle and another human. I have all kinds of other avatars for less serious events.

The conference covered a wide range of topics.


We began with Caroline Pavis of Johnson and Johnson who talked about their HealthEVoices disability bloggers conference. Their next conference is in 2017 in Chicago and they hope to encourage interaction between various disability and health advocacy and support groups across a wide variety of people from those living with HIV to those with intellectual and emotional disabilities. She talked about the benefits of the conference and after we had a lively discussion about how Second Life, and other Virtual World media could be integrated into their setting.

IDRC Conference_004.jpg

Our second set of speakers were from South Africa. This is one of the nice things about a Second Life conference. You can have people come from all over the world and yet all feel together.Theresa Lorenzo and Siphokazi Sompeta of the University of Cape Town, South Africa, spoke about their research on ways to make disability-inclusive services available in rural areas of South Africa, Botswana and Malawi. She described problems like lack of local transportation and lack of practical skills for dealing with people with disabilities. For example, they taught taxi drivers how to better transport people with disabilities. Ms. Sompeta described being in Second Life as like being in a spiritual world, a lovely and apt metaphor.

IDRC Conference_006.jpg

I was introducer for the next session which was a panel of presenters from the Chronic Pain Anonymous group. styled after Alcoholics Anonymous but geared entirely to people who live with chronic pain due to many different health conditions, the group provides a supportive environment without advocating any specific treatment or protocols. Rather it helps people to live well and at peace with themselves even though they also live in chronic pain. By coincidence, I had attended a group session as a family member of someone living with chronic pain. So I got to experience the reality of the support available.


The next speaker for today was Dr. Margaret Nosek and her colleagues. They presented on “Women with mobility impairments in community weight loss programs: Exploring new venues in virtual worlds.” Obesity and being overweight is really a problem for people with mobility impairments. Over 50% of people with mobility impairments are obese. Yet exercise, the major tool for effective weight loss is not something easily available to those with limited mobility. The talk centered on things that can be done.

The final speaker was Maggie Sheets with the Disability Policy Consortium of Massachusetts. She explained the importance of including people with disability in policy making.

So we had the conference and there were many side conversations and instant messages as well as group chat going on during the conference so it was fun and stimulating and I felt really connected. I also didn’t have to fight airports, a strange bed with a room full of strange scents that make me wheeze, worrying about food when I have so many allergies and all the usual stresses of going to a conference. It was a great experience.

The conference continues tomorrow.

Our First Review Now Available Online!

Igamberdiev, A.U. (2016). Book Review: Morphomechanics of Development. Lev V. Beloussov, Andrei Lipchinsky. Springer International Publ. BioSystems, In press. Web:

The article is now available on line (though behind a paywall if you don’t have a university or similar library access. Here are our two favourite excerpts!

The title of the book is based on the belief of the authors that the fundamental phenomenon first described by them forms the basis for a profound explanation of the phenomenon of embryogenesis and represents a “right theory” of individual development of biological organisms. Thus the book provides an expanded explanation of this new theory of how embryos build themselves using the phenomenon of generation of differentiation waves. The background given for the theory combines simple physical principles with the most recent breakthroughs in genet- ics, biochemistry, and biophysics. Despite a huge amount of detail and experimental data, the book is accessible to a broad audience includ- ing not only embryologists but also biologists of different profiles, researchers working in many fields of science, teachers and students.

This book by Natalie and Richard Gordon represents an important development in the field of developmental biology and in the foundations of theoretical biology. Its clear presentation and style makes it a perfect complementary textbook for teaching embryogenesis and re- lated courses. It is strongly recommended to everybody who is interested in the problems of embryogenesis and, in general, in foundations of biological organization. In the end, after reading this book, we are convinced that the concept of differentiation waves explains the mystery of embryogenesis. Further elaboration and strengthening of the experimental basis of research related to the phenomenon of differentiation waves may provide new further evidence in support of this great concept.

The First Review of Embryogenesis Explained!


We got our first review! Andrei Igamberdiev has reviewed our book for BioSystems. He kindly sent us an advance copy. The full review will be submitted to BioSystems and hopefully published December or January. He especially noticed and commented on how we included the Russian literature related to embryogenesis. He also praised us because the book makes embryology accessible to non biologists which we were especially pleased to hear because that was our main reason for writing. We are delighted to have someone completely independent from us say such nice stuff!

Dear Richard,

I have read your book with great interest! You convinced me that the
concept of differentiation waves is a real basis of the phenomenon
of embryogenesis. Also your book contains a lot of important
information on different aspects of not only embryogenesis but of
the whole field of general and theoretical biology.


Embryogenesis Explained Feedback 1


We sent out a message to everyone of of the 1900+ scientists we referenced in our book. Some of the answers we have gotten back have been fun to read.

Dear Richard,

I can’t imagine why you might have cited my work in ecology in Embryogenesis Explained.  You’ve certainly piqued my curiosity, though. Can you give me a hint?  :o)
Congratulations on your achievement.  I look forward to hearing back from you.
All the best,

Dear Peter,

Well, I’ve lived in Canada long enough to know how to build a quinzhee. Here’s the paragraph in Chapter 12 ending with a reference to:

Marchand, P.J. (2014). Life in the Cold: An Introduction to Winter Ecology. Hanover,  University Press of New England, 4th.

In biology, the atom is generally the level at which we start our studies.

The energies involved in splitting atoms or fusing atomic nuclei releases

ionizing radiation which damages living organisms. So we think of

organisms as made up of stable atoms, and usually do not have to trouble

our thoughts with what is going on at lower, subatomic levels. Exceptions

are when we have to think about the key role of natural background

radiation in generating mutations, and thus in evolution23. This energy

also keeps the ground warm in winter (ref 24), permitting life to go on under

the snow (ref 25).

This is part of the background setting up reductionism vs holism in solving embryogenesis. The rub is that quantum mechanics is holistic, as I show. Had this checked by a friend who writes books on quantum mechanics.

While it’s not my forte, I have taught Pollution Biology, and learned some ecology in the process. There seems to be a nice overlapping field of ecoembryology waiting to be developed. I coined the word while writing a grant application:

Rudloe, J., N.K. Björklund-Gordon, R. Gordon, A. Hodges, M. Hodges, K. Lu, E.W. Cake & C. Rudloe (2013). A Vision for Sustainable Farming of Oysters Along Florida’s Forgotten Coast: A Restore Act Proposal. Panacea, Florida,  Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory.

which didn’t get funded. I suspect that oyster embryos differ in salinity tolerance depending on the salinity in which their mothers existed, and that seeding with spat would be more successful if this were understood.
So that’s the tale, and you might enjoy our book. Thanks.
Yours, -Dick Gordon

Embryogenesis Explained is printed!

We got an email message today from someone who had preordered their copy of our book Embryogenesis Explained. His copy has arrived and he was reading it and enjoying it! How exciting is that? Our own personal copies are somewhere in transit. Hopefully they will arrive in Alonsa shortly.

We are also sending out a personal email to every single one of the over 1900 scientists whose work is cited in the book. This assumes that they are still with us, as some have gone on to that great laboratory in the sky. And it also assumes that we can find a correct email. Some of these scientists are retired and some have vanished from academia, or are students who have graduated and gone on to other careers.

We are also sending out emails inviting book reviewers. If you are a scientist or someone interested in science written at a popular level and would like do a review for publication, we can arrange for you to have a free copy for review purposes. Just contact us and we can start the ball rolling.

If you use the code WSGSML20 you will get a 20% discount. The code is good until December 31.


Biocommunication Sign-Mediated Interactions between Cells and Organisms

Gordon&Seckbach2016 Biocommunication Table of Contents

Dick’s latest book published by World Scientific as coeditor with Joseph Seckbach is now off to the printers. It includes a chapter on the Cybernetic Embryo which is an expansion of the idea in the final chapter of our book Embryogenesis Explained. The book will be out about December 2016.

Table of Contents:

Part I Theoretical Approaches

1. Molecular Biocommunication by Alexei A. Sharov

2. Key Levels of Biocommunication by Guenther Witzany

3. Zoosemiotics, Typologies of Signs and Continuity Between Humans and Other Animals by Dario Martinelli

4. Communication as an Artificial Process by Massimo Negrotti


5. Cybernetic Embryo by Richard Gordon and Robert Stone

6. Superfast Evolution via Trans and Interspecies Biocommunication by Ille C. Gebeshuber and Mark O. Macqueen

7. Channel Capacity and Rate Distortion in Amino Acid Networks by Boaz Tamir and Avner Priel

8. Communication Languages and Agents in Biological Systems by Subhash Kak

Part II Experimental Approaches


9. Chemical Communication by Ally R. Harari and R. Sharon

10. Paenibacillus vortex — A Bacterial Guide to the Wisdom of the Crowd by Alin Finkelshtein, Alexandra Sirota-Madi, Dalit Roth, Colin J. Ingham, and Eshel Ben Jacob

11. The Crosstalk Between Plants and Their Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Symbionts: A Mycocentric View by Cristiana Sbrana, Alessandra Turrini, and Manuela Giovannetti

12. Attraction of Preferred Prey by Carnivorous Plants by Douglas W. Darnowski

13. Animal Communication: Competition for Acoustic Space in Birds and Fish by Hans Slabbekoorn

14. The Contribution of Biocommunication (BICO) to Biomedical and Tissue Engineering: A Tech Mining Study by Angela Machado Rocha, Fernando Palop, Maria Clara Melro, and Marcelo Santana Silva

15. Communication Languages and Agents in Biological Systems by Noga Gershoni-Emek, Eitan Erez Zahavi, Shani Gluska, Yulia Slobodskoy, and Eran Perlson

16. Ethical Methods of Investigation with Pan/Homo Bonobos and Chimpanzees by E. Sue Rumbaugh, Itai Roffman, Elizabeth Pugh, and Duane M. Rumbaugh

17. Conversing with Dolphins: The Holy Grail of Interspecies Communication? by Toni Frohoff and Elizabeth Oriel