X-Message-Number: 2834
Date: 28 Jun 94 06:14:01 EDT
From: Mike Darwin <>
Subject: CRYONICS hired help

---------- Forwarded Message ----------

From:	Mike Darwin, 75120,575
TO:	cryonet, INTERNET:
DATE:	6/28/94 3:05 AM

RE:	Copy of: hired help

Have I missed a few dumps of Cryonet or something?  Or, is Ben Best's posting
about for-profit cryonics organizations just a bolt from the blue?  If it is,
I'd be really interested to know what (or who) shook Ben's tree to "provoke"
it?  Paul, have you been bothering poor Ben again now that you are in back in

However, cause notwithstanding, Ben raises some interesting points.  By and
large I agree with him about what he says about about letting the "experts"

manage us.  Cryonics organizations (profit or nonprofit) should be run by people
who care about and love cryonics. (Ayn Rand summed it very well when she said
"You can't let a pinch hitter live your life for you!  True, but you can pay
one to mow your lawn!) I would note that it is NOT always necessary that they
BELIEVE in cryonics (i.e., that they think it will work).  By way of example
here, I would use Jerry Leaf, who, much to my surprise, I discovered after his
suspension apparently did not think cryonics (as currently practiced) would
work.  Nevertheless, he cared deeply about cryonics, cared deeply about the
patients he treated, and more than demonstrated his integrity/reliability when
push came to shove.  People get involved with things and give their lives over
to them for many different reasons.  I have learned that this variety of
motivations is enriching rather than restrictive.  I would also point out that
people have made important contributions to cryonics who were not themselves
cryonicists.  Indeed, I would argue that some of our harshest critics such as
the cryobiologist Jim Southard have done more to help cryonics (he has been
unstinting in his provision of information and technical help, always putting
science above his personal feelings) than some fervent cryonicists I could name
(Bob Nelson being one of them).

So, unlike Ben, I would say that the person has to have a love of the
discipline or a deep respect for it, even if they are not interested in
using it personally.

Now, as to the use of "hired help"; I feel I have a lot to say here because I

use hired help of a real mix  -- some are cryonicists, some are not.  Some think
cryonics is good idea and might work, others think it mistaken craziness.  Some
are undecided.  My experiences with paid personnel have been by and large good.
Not universally good, but overall good.  Contrasted with my experiences in a

non-profit organization working with "committed cryonicists" my experiences have

Why the difference and how is it possible for people with such varying attitudes

about cryonics to work WELL and do a good job?  Perhaps a better job than people
with deep committment?

Well, there's no easy or pat answer but I'll try to summarize my experiences as
best I can.

The first person Paul and I "hired" to work with us three years ago still works
with us.  His name is Mike Fletcher and he is a respiratory therapist who was
sent out by a local hospital I had bought some ventilators from to set them up.
I was quite disappointed when Mike showed up because I had been told I was to
get someone else (somene more senior and with better paper qualifications).

Mike worked his butt off.  But what is more, he went the extra mile that was not
expected of him.  In fact, it shocked both Paul and I.  When he showed up it
turned out that the ventilators were far from ready to set-up as he and we had
been told.  They needed parts, in fact they needed parts MADE.  Mike went out,
bought PVC pipe and other parts, made the necessary parts and even painted them

so they would match the equipment and look nice.  He did this off the clock.  At
the time we were a VERY anemic looking operation and Mike was working full-time
for the hospital.  In short, he was not looking for a job, we were not looking
for a worker, and NEITHER OF US had any expectations of a more than one-off

However, both Paul and I were tremendously impressed with Mike and we did need

someone to do work we couldn't do or chose not to.  In talking with Mike we were
surprised to find out his enormous range of skills:  diesel mechanic, sheet
metal worker, lawn sprinkler maintainence, heating-air conditioning repair,
respiratory therapist, EEG technician....  We offered him work.  He took it.

In the three years since, Mike has done an enormous range of work for us --
everything from cleaning out dog poop in kennels to designing new equipment to
doing plumbing, wiring and ICU care of animals.  He has built our modular
kennels, worked on the facility air conditioning and refurbished our EEG
machine.  He has fabricated several new medical devices and is working on a
prototype now.  No matter what he has done Mike has always done it well.  In
fact, it is something of a frustration that he ALWAYS does a job well.  If I

give him a surgery light with a broken bolt on the arm to fix, it will come back
completely fixed, oiled, cleaned, repainted if necesary, and in top operating
condition.  That is Mike's nature  -- he does good work and he takes pride in
his work.  This is an almost vanished breed: the craftsman.

I have never asked Mike whether he thinks cryonics will work, is a good idea,
etc.  He has heard me talk about it, he has participated in both human cases we
have done here, and his engineering has made the completion of those cases in a
nearly flawless and easy fashion possible.  My guess is that Mike thinks we are

all a little touched about the issue of cryonics, but we pay him well and, as he
puts it, this is the most interesting job he has ever had.  Mike has been 100%

reliable -- and yet he has limits.  He will not do certain things I would do for
a patient.  I am quite careful never to ask him to do these things (i.e.,
jeopardize his family life, his health, risk his life, etc).  

Mike would certainly not be qualified to, nor would he want to, run a cryonics
operation.  And, while Mike and I do not always agree on how to get a job done
(technically) we NEVER disagree over ideology or profound questions of GOOD and
EVIL as they relate to "the cryonics question."  The only thing Mike worries
about vis a vis his participation in cryonics as it relates to his personal
survival is: IS HE GOING TO GET PAID!  As long as we pay him, we have few if
any problems.

Shawn Shermer is another noncryonicist paid person on my team.  Shawn, to a far
greater extent than Mike, loves the work.  Shawn's background is in biomedicine
and she has spent her adult life working in animal research labs.  She is a
stress junkie and she loves research.  She genuinely enjoys doing human cases

and I have used her in one standby and two transports.  Her performance has been

fantastic:  unlike many cryonicists I know she takes the sustained punishment of
days without sleep, lying on hard floors, dealing with the sights and sounds
and smells of dying as if they were second nature.  She NEVER wimps out and she
is always there AFTER the case doing instruments, mopping the floor and making

herself useful.  I think Shawn thinks cryonics could work, but I do not think it
is her primary motivation, nor do I think money is (although I feel it likely
she wouldn't do it for free  -- 'fact is, neither will I anymore!)_

Then there is Dr. X.  Dr. X is a highly competent surgeon.   I use him with

extreme caution.  He calls cryonics patients "preparations."  He does good work,
but must be told exactly what to do.  If he has another case (i.e., a "normal"

case) and his pager goes off, he will literally walk out of my operating theatre
in the middle of the procedure.  I NEVER use Dr. X without that as an
anticipated possibility.  I DO use him, because he frees me up and allows me to
float and be available to insure quality control across the board.  I now use
Dr. X only for back-up and will probably phase him out altogether (which will
be just fine with him -- I don't pay him enough for his inconvenience).

I also have Naomi Reynolds on my team.  Naomi is an Alcor member who I would
trust with my life.  She is utterly reliably, deeply committed to the patients
she cares for and willing to take just about any risk or suffer just about any
inconvenience to get the job done.  She did a case when she was 6-months
pregnant and she is the sole support of two small children --  yet I have seen
her up to her elbows on AIDS cases  -- and patients who have "died" of AIDS,
contrary to what we had thought a few years ago, have an astronomically HIGH
concentration of virus and are by far the most infectious -- no cardiovascular
surgeon I know of will operate on such a patient.  Naomi works side by side me
with in the field under very hazardous and demanding conditions  -- often with

little or no sleep and often under tremendous stress.  I have no doubt that much
of Naomi's dedication and "goodness" come not just from her basic personality
(which is one of dedication and goodness) but also because she believes in and
values cryonics.

When we take a magazine to the printer or have our wiring worked on, we don't
demand that the people doing it be true-believers in cryonics.  Indeed, if we
have any sense we often pass over cryonicists who DO have these skills in favor
of the marketplace where we can get the skills we want without the additional
baggage or problems that might be associated with them (for instance, just
because you are a cryonicist doesn't mean that you are a good lawyer, cobbler,

electrician, etc.).  The marketplace works because people do good work for money
and for the pride they take in work as an extension of their identities.

The team that works for Biopreservation is a team of people who, almost to a

woman and man, are people who do a good job and who can be trusted.  It has been
a richly rewarding experience for me to find such people and to experience REAL
capitalism -- not just the textbook stuff.

Certainly I've seen volunteers do a good job in my days in the nonprofit
sector.  But there was usually a VERY HIGH price to be paid for this.  Above
all, there was the ideological baggage that such people brought.  Like O.J.
Simpson said about his ex-wife: "If we had problems it was because I loved her
too much..."  This is much the case with committed cryonicists who are working
out of belief or devotion.  Once that element enters the mix you have something
akin to a family dynamic which is inherently socialistic.  Many people,
particularly people in cryonics, find that notion immensely attractive --
perhaps because they feel so alienated from society and so cut-off from normal
human closeness.  Unfortunately, the dynamics of such "family" closeness in a

nonprofit are rarely healthy and the people most attracted to it are often those
least capable of sustaining a nurturing and *fair* family relationship.
Dysfunctional children grow up to be dysfunctional adults....  Nor do I wish to
imply that this is unique to cryonics.  It is not.  You need only read the
"inside" stories of any similar undertakings ranging from the inner workings of
the Mormon Church to the inner workings of Madalyn Murray O'Hair's American
Atheists -- or read Barbara Branden's account of the inner workings of Ayn
Rand's Objectivist movement.  Three very disparate groups, three strikingly
close stories -- horror stories.

So what am I trying to say here?  Just this: the sooner cryonics grows up and
becomes a business the better. I've seen things from BOTH sides now and I far

prefer where I am to where I was.  Yes, it can be exhilarating to have the power

that comes with being a "leader" in a cult-like sense.  But in the long run I am
convinced that this is a sterile path for cryonics.  And keep in mind that you
can't run a business well without loving it and caring for it.  

I would be interested to hear Bob Ettinger's experience here.  I know that CI
uses a paid person (a relative of Bob's daughter-in-law), Andy Zawacki, to do
their dewar fabrication.  While I have never met Andy I have seen pictures of
his work and I can gauge that he is both a craftsman and a hard worker --
cryonicist or not!  (Once you're in business for awhile you get to the point
where you can smell competence a mile away -- and vice versa too!)

But the bottom line for me has become : Given the choice between a "true
believer" with no skills, and a "craftsman" who doesn't "believe," I'll pick
the craftsman every time.  I find the work more reliable, the company more
congenial, and not having to pull knives out of my back a BIG improvement.

Mike Darwin

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