where I'm at

Posted by Bushel Basket in

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. So, here goes.

I've been depressed. A lot and often. I really don't want to leave my house and it takes all of my energy to go to work and make it through the day. I am seeking professional help and I assume that this will involve medication, which only bums me out more. There's a lot of work stress in my life right now as well as personal concerns. In fact, it feels like my whole life is in play.

I'm not asking for anything but kind thoughts. One thing that has surprised me is the shame I feel around even bringing up the word depression. While ministry isn't a health care profession per se, there is a lot of overlap with the mental health field, and I'd thought that I'd gotten beyond any internalized stigma surrounding mental health disorders. I was wrong. I find in all of this, as hard as it is to say, I have more sympathy for my bi-polar ex-girlfriend.

I don't want to turn my blog into a space that is nothing more than me bitching about my life, so I don't think that I'll be posting often about how I'm doing. But, I am not going to hide my problems either.

Lastly, for those of you who think I just need to suck it up and push my way through my blues, bite me and get a clue. That kind of thinking has kept me where I am for too long.

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Astrology or Science? When you were born affects your health?

Posted by Bushel Basket in ,

Like many of us, I've always walked a half serious line with my birth sign. While I thought daily horoscopes were a waste of time, I've half believed in zodiac signs. Maybe it was because I'm a "cusp," born on the edge of Taurus and Gemini, and it made me feel special. Or maybe because one of my younger sister's was born on my birthday, and we were both Geminis (the twins). But, when pressed by some of my more astrologically inclined friends, I had to give it some credence.

By my thinking, there must be some affect on when in the year you were born, just because of the environment around you. While I'm no expert in neo-natal development, it justed seemed logical to me that if, for example, two children were born in the Northern Hemisphere, one child was born in May, and the other was born in November, they'd develop differently if for no other reason than how different their environment was. The May baby would spend their first few months outside more often with their parents, while the November baby would stay inside more during the winter and get less sunlight. That would have some effect on their development.

Well, it appears that some scientists are working on this concept as well. They call it season of birth research. While it's not linked to astrology, but birthdate, it is interesting. See the following graphic and article from the Chicago Tribune for more info, including what tendencies you might have, depending on your birthday.

Born to be ill: Consider the season of your birth for what ails you


(click on the image to see the rest of it)

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George Carlin, RIP

Posted by Bushel Basket in , ,

I read this morning that George Carlin died yesterday. I was very sad to hear this. I didn't view him as just a comedian, but also as a prophetic voice.

Many people have heard about the controversy surrounding his "Seven Dirty Words" sketch. It's not any comedian that can be part of a Supreme Court ruling. I also particularly enjoyed his routine on "Stuff," as well as many other witty observations about American society and politics. Though he was a professed atheist, I found religious inspiration in his words and a necessary critique of religious structures. To be honest, I sometimes used George Carlin as a litmus test for my own writings. In seminary, we were encouraged to think of our "communities of accountability" when we wrote, and I used Carlin as a sort of 'bull-shit' detector, a voice to keep me from departing too far from what is true and into the specious. If I felt that something I was writing could be satirized by Carlin, I found some other way to express that position

In reading his various obituaries, I found out that I became exposed to him just as his comedy was becoming more socially conscious. From the Chicago Tribune, "Last year, he said a highlight of his career was a 1992 HBO special titled Jamming in New York. 'That was the point where I probably became more of a writer who performed his own material. The material became more like essays, they became more socially conscious, and it was just a major jump from being what I think of as only an entertainer to being an artist-entertainer,' he said in a 2007 Times interview." Just as I was finishing high school, he gained a larger social conscience, something that I feel he helped instill in me.

So, raise a glass for George Carlin. Check out his life on wikipedia, and watch some of his bits on youtube. He's a comedian and an artist-entertainer that's well worth getting to know better.

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Creationism follow up: Teach the Controversy

Posted by Bushel Basket in ,

As a fun follow up to yesterday's posts, Boing Boing linked to some great T-Shirts reminding us that creationism\evolution-ism isn't the only scientific controversy out there. Check them out at Teach the Controversy. They are having a summer sale, and I must resist buying them all.

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another nail in creationism's coffin, maybe

Posted by Bushel Basket in

This post goes out to my fellow biologist geeks.

Scientist Richard Lenski got into the National Academies of Science for growing bacteria and tracking the process of evolution. For twenty years, he has grown e-coli bacteria in a food starved environment; He's grown 44,000 generations and froze samples every 500 generations. One of the bacterial lines evolved the ability to digest the growth medium it was suspended in, giving it a distinct advantage. Because he had preserved samples, he was able to do what no other experiment was able to do, track the individual DNA changes that led to this evolved trait. Not only was he able to document evolution, but the evolutionary process itself. Read more about it here and here.

This isn't the first time that an evolutionary change has been observed under environmental conditions. In fact, evolution is visible in the everyday world with each new strain of cold or flu virus or the creation of a new breed of dog or other pet. Doonesbury published this cartoon to highlight the health implications of evolution.

I don't propose to layout the theological or philosophical argument for evolution instead of creationism or intelligent design. I just want to geek out over the fact that there was a person who ran an experiment for 20 years to learn more about how our world works. I find that devotion remarkable and admirable.

As an added bonus, one concept that was reinforced by the results of this experiment was that a precursor mutation, by itself not useful to the survival of the bacteria was necessary to evolve this new trait much later. It's a reminder that we shouldn't be too quick to judge something as beneficial or non-beneficial, as it make take quite some time for things to shake out. We are biologically reminded of a taoist parable:

"There is a story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "May be," the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "May be," replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "May be," answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. "May be," said the farmer."

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Dam Beavers, a follow up to "An Open Letter to the Heifer Project"

Posted by Bushel Basket in ,

A friend passed this written exchange between the Department of Environmental Quality of the State of Michigan (my home state) and an owner regarding some beaver dams on the owner's property. The owner's reply is classic.

The original posting can be found here and is reposted as fair use.

                      Reply to:
                      GRAND RAPIDS DISTRICT OFFICE
                      STATE OFFICE BUILDING 6TH FLOOR
                      350 OTTAWA NW
                      GRAND RAPIDS MI 49503-2341
INTERNET: http://www.deq.state.mi us
                December 17, 1997

Mr. Ryan DeVries
2088 Dagget
Pierson, MI 49339

Dear Mr. DeVries:

SUBJECT: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023-1 T11N, R10W, Sec. 20, Montcalm Count-,),

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent
unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond.

A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity. A review of the Department's files show that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301,. Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially, failed during a recent rain event, causing debris dams and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all unauthorized activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the strewn channel. All restoration work shall be completed no later than January 31, 1998. Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff.

Failure to comply with this request, or any further unauthorized activity on the site, may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.

We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

            David L. Price
            District Representative
            Land and Water Management Division
cc: LWMD, Lansing
    Pierson Township
    Lieutenant Mary C. Sherzer, DNR LED

Stephen and Rosalind Tvedten
2530 Hayes Street
Marne, MI 49435-9751
616-677-1262 Fax

David L. Price
District Representative
Land and Water Management Division
Grand Rapids District Office
State Office Bldg., 6th Floor
350 Ottawa, N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503-2341

Dear Mr. Price:

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N, R10W, Sec 20; Montcalm County

Your certified letter dated 12/17/97 has been handed to me to respond to. You sent out a great deal of carbon copies to a lot of people, but you neglected to include their addresses. You will, therefore, have to send them a copy of my response.

First of all, Mr. Ryan DeVries is not the legal landowner and/or contractor at 2088 Dagget, Pierson, Michigan - I am the legal owner and a couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, nor authorize their dam project, I think they would be highly offended you call their skillful use of natural building materials "debris". I would like to challenge you to attempt to emulate their dam project any dam time and/or any dam place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no dam way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.

As to your dam request the beavers first must fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity, my first dam question to you is: are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers or do you require all dam beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request? If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, please send me completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits. Perhaps we will see if there really is a dam violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Michigan Compiled Laws annotated. My first concern is - aren't the dam beavers entitled to dam legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said dam representation - so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.

The Department's dam concern that either one or both of the dams failed during a recent rain event causing dam flooding is proof we should leave the dam Spring Pond Beavers alone rather than harassing them and calling their dam names. If you want the dam stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition - contact the dam beavers - but if you are going to arrest them (they obviously did not pay any dam attention to your dam letter -- being unable to read English) - be sure you read them their dam Miranda first. As for me, I am not going to cause more dam flooding or dam debris jams by interfering with these dam builders. If you want to hurt these dam beavers - be aware I am sending a copy of your dam letter and this response to PETA. If your dam Department seriously finds all dams of this nature inherently hazardous and truly will not permit their existence in this dam State - I seriously hope you are not selectively enforcing this dam policy - or once again both I and the Spring Pond Beavers will scream prejudice!

In my humble opinion, the Spring Pond Beavers have a right to build their dam unauthorized dams as long as the sky is blue, the grass is green and water flows downstream. They have more dam right than I to live and enjoy Spring Pond. So, as far as I and the beavers are concerned, this dam case can be referred for more dam elevated enforcement action now. Why wait until 1/31/98? The Spring Pond Beavers may be under the dam ice then, and there will be no dam way for you or your dam staff to contact/harass them then.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention a real environmental quality (health) problem; bears are actually defecating in our woods. I definitely believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the dam beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your step! (The bears are not careful where they dump!)

Being unable to comply with your dam request, and being unable to contact you on your dam answering machine, I am sending this response to your dam office.


Stephen L.Tvedten

xc: PETA

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