A New Hope

A Poem by Mattie Stepanek – May 1999

A New Hope

I need a hope … a new hope.

A hope that reaches for the stars, and

That does not end in violence or war.

A hope that makes peace on our earth, and

That does not create evil in the world. 

A hope that finds cures for all diseases, and 

That does not make people hurt,

In their bodies, in their hearts,

Or most of all, in their spirits.

I need a hope . . . a new hope,

A hope that inspires me to live, and

To make all these things happen,

So that the whole world can have 

A new hope, too. 

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Mattie Stepanek

Book Review – The Book Thief

“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak

A few years ago someone told me about a movie entitled “The Book Thief” (released 2013). At the time I pictured a professional thief stealing valuable books from museums and universities. This Christmas I was given the book by the same name (published 2005). 

I was so surprised to learn that the thief is a nine-year-old girl in Nazi Germany. Having books unapproved by the party was a crime and put the girl and her foster family in danger. 

At first, I found the writing style a little disconcerting, but I quickly fell into the rhythm of this prolific award-winning  Australian author. Interestingly, the book’s narrator is death. Death is very busy during WWII as he comes for people of all ages. 

This fiction novel is listed as “Young adult literature” but I am glad I did know that or I may have missed a very good read. I loved the book and look forward to seeing the movie. 

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Depression III

Depression

Alone
even with others,
Lonely
without a reason,
Tears
to be withheld,
Fears of nothing and everything,
Imagination
of things untold,
Predictions
that may come true.
Color?
Every shade of blue.

by Sue Baugh Mattingly 

 

Graphic by Pixabay

Depression II

Phillip

When I was in the first grade my little brother, a toddler, died on the way to the hospital. He had been ill his entire little life.    https://crookedcreek.live/2016/09/27/little-blue-bird/

Daddy

That loss brought about many changes in our family. The most profound change was in my father. Fortunately, perhaps, I do not remember details about the absences, but my father was often missing from our family after Phillip died. I learned many years later that he was hospitalized for a mental illness. In those days depression was called “involutional melancholia” and if the condition was severe the patient spent time in a mental hospital. 

In researching my father’s condition and medical records (this was before HIPAA) and eventually meeting with his psychiatrist many years later I learned that he underwent two types of shock treatments. In the late forties and early fifties, he was repeatedly given massive doses of insulin which caused a coma. The coma was then treated with glucose to save the patient from death. When insulin coma/shock therapy fell into disfavor as dangerous electroshock (electroconvulsive) therapy became the treatment of choice for depression and some other mental illnesses. EST (also called ECT) is initiated by applying an electrical current to the anesthetized patient causing a grand mal seizure (convulsion). The intended result of these repeated treatments was the improvement of depression.

Both of these methods of treatment seem cruel and bizarre and although insulin shock was discontinued many decades ago, EST remains an accepted, although infrequent, mode of treatment for depression. The side effects include loss of memory, learning problems, muscle aches, and upset stomach. In my father’s case, I believe a loss of his personality (or at least a significant change) was also an effect of the numerous treatments he underwent. 

He was a good man. He was intelligent and managed to work again, but was never quite the same person. He had to fight hard to participate in life, but he did so for many years. He died of a heart attack at age sixty-nine. 

Today

Major depression, also known as unipolar or major depressive disorder, is characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness or a lack of interest in outside stimuli. It is generally treated today by medications and talk therapy. 

 

Graphic by Pixabay

 

 

 

Depression

Impact

Depression affects about 121 million people worldwide (World Health Organization) and 14.8 million in the U.S. making it the leading cause of disability (National Institutes of Mental Health). According to the WHO, depression ranks number four on the list of diseases and is predicted to be number two by next year. 

There has been much in the news lately about the role that vitamin D plays in depression. There have been numerous studies, large and small, that indicate adequate vitamin D could be a simple way to combat this growing disease. Unfortunately proof of this benefit remains unsettled at present.

The Sunshine Vitamin

A deficiency of vitamin D is implicated in many diseases (diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiac to mention a few). According to the CDC in 2006 at least 25% of the US population was deficient. Why would this be? It isn’t hard to imagine that people today are not outside as much as in past generations. And, when we do go outside most of us use sunscreen as advised by dermatologists. Sunscreen of any strength blocks UVB rays which produce vitamin D. These rays do not penetrate glass so time spent by a window or in the car does not help. Many people experience added depression during dark, cloudy months, a condition known as Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD).

The Quandary 

We can benefit from knowing more about vitamin D and its benefits. For instance, calcium for strong bones cannot be absorbed without adequate vitamin D. With each source of this important vitamin there are drawbacks. Too much sun can lead to skin cancer. Excessive use of over-the-counter supplements of vitamin D can lead to toxicity.

The answer to this quandary is to do research and become better informed if you suffer from depression or think you might not be getting enough vitamin D. And, the bottom line is always to consult your physician and discuss a lab test for your vitamin D level. 

 

 

Graphic by Pixabay

 

 

 

Grizzlies

 

There are only about 1,500 grizzly bears left in the lower 48 states. Approximately 600 of those are in the area of Yellowstone Park. In spite of serious population decline, in 2017 grizzly bears (also called the North American brown bear) were stripped from the Endangered Species Act protections. That meant that the Grizzlies in the Yellowstone area were no longer to be protected by Federal laws and further that plans were in place to allow them to be hunted for sport in Montana (800 population) and Idaho (estimated at less than 100). 

Good News – A federal judge has ruled these actions illegal! 

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These magnificent creatures hibernate five to seven months each year. In preparation for this time of inactivity, they must eat approximately 400 pounds of food. The males leave hibernation first followed by the females with young born during hibernation. 

Most Grizzlies die before maturity due to hunters and predators. Those who survive live for 20-26 years on average. We are fortunate in the United States to have over 50,000 Grizzlies in Alaska, but those in the lower forty-eight are in danger of disappearing unless we continue to protect them and their habitat. 

It is up to us to be aware of the violations and threats to laws and rules that protect these bears and other endangered species. 

“The grizzly bears that live in and around Yellowstone make up almost half the population in the lower 48 states, and now those bears are at risk.” Lydia Millet

Photos by Pixabay

Book Review – Born A Crime

Book Review

If you love comedian Trevor Noah you will like his autobiography. Noah, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central, was born in 1984 in Johannesburg. In his book, “Born A Crime” he tells what it was like to grow up in South Africa during and immediately following Apartheid. It was particularly difficult for him as neither a white child nor a black one. 

His father was white and his mother who raised him was black. His devotion to his strong-willed mother is evident throughout the book, but his maternal grandmother, who is still living at 92, was very influential, too. 

“Born A Crime” is enlightening about life in South Africa as well as about Trevor Noah. It is a quick read and I recommend it. 

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“The color of my skin is beautiful, like the soil of Mother Africa.”Nelson Mandela

 

Update

Another Year – Post #216

Just to catch up from last year’s post https://crookedcreek.live/2018/02/08/thanks/  Crooked Creek now has 263 followers. One year ago it was only 120. We welcome each and every new follower and say, “Thanks” once again to all readers. 

It is also significant (to me at least) that I am preparing infusion number 302 for administration tonight. I want once again to express my sincere gratitude to all those who donate plasma that makes this treatment possible.  https://crookedcreek.live/2018/02/08/thanks/

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Facebook F/U

This is follow-up to my post “Facebook” on July 30 last year.

https://crookedcreek.live/2018/07/30/facebook/

Per The Daily Mail one-third of Facebook users from 16-34 have deleted their accounts. The main reason does not seem to be Facebook’s exploitation of 50 million users profiles but because it is “no longer cool.” Good for them regardless of the reason, their personal data will now be safer. 

According to Inside Facebook 15 million users from the US and approximately 5.5 million Canadians have removed themselves from Facebook because of privacy concerns. This sounds like a lot but as of September 30, 2018, Facebook had 2.27 billion monthly active users according to the company.

Personal Opinion: It will be interesting to see how this plays out in view of Mark Zuckerberg’s lack of contrition and another upcoming presidential election. 

“There is a saying that if you get something for free, you should know that you’re the product.” Yuval Noah Harari

 

Graphic by Pixabay

When Did We get in Such a Hurry?

When I was a small child we had no telephone. Later, after moving from rural Crooked Creek, we did have a rotary dial phone. It was a party line with seven other families, which could be interesting at times. My Grandfather was Post Master of Gee, KY and letters were the way that most people communicated in those days. I don’t recall how long it took for a letter to go several miles to another community, but of course, it was a few days. We managed. 

Today we are all connected magically by cell phones and computers. No waiting, just Instant Messaging, SnapChat or Tweet! FaceTime and Skype are great for seeing my Granddaughter, Kate, who now lives in England.

Until it fails and it will from time to time. Cell phones get bugs and do crazy things sometimes, like eavesdropping prior to FaceTime connection. Computers contract viruses or get hacked. Yesterday my computer told me that I had no connection to WiFI and I panicked. Seriously I panicked. How could I exist? What would I do?

Years ago, I remember George Carlin remarking that everyone was carrying a water bottle. He asked, “When did we all become so thirsty?” My question today is “When did we all get in such a hurry?”  With our modern conveniences and gadgets, we have lost the patience to wait. Or, perhaps I should just charge myself. I know I am guilty and I believe that I have plenty of company.

Day One

I called the provider who instructed me in the reboot process. No luck so an appointment was set up for about 28 hours later . . . tomorrow late afternoon! How could they do this to me? I was griping to my younger granddaughter, Elizabeth, who nonchalantly said, “Just go to Starbucks, Grandmother!” What part of seven-degree temperature and icy roads did she not understand?

Day Two

After spending the night without internet I checked the temperature this morning and it had warmed up (now 10*) so I took off for Starbucks where I drank expensive coffee and was repaid by internet services. I’m a big fan. So, now I have to wait for the repair person to arrive. While I wait, I think I’ll listen to some nice soothing music, but guess what, no Pandora without internet! So, I dragged out some old CDs and got the ancient player blasting Boy Dylan. Forget soothing, but Dylan did help a bit.

Guy #1 makes it about 5 p.m. and after tinkering with the equipment for a while he says, “I have good news and bad news. I can’t fix it, but someone will be here first thing tomorrow morning.”

Day Three

I got up at 7:30 a.m. and got ready for Guy or Gal #2. It is now 11 a.m. and not a word. Finally, he showed up and identified himself as the “outside” guy since the “inside” guy couldn’t find the problem in my equipment yesterday. He was clearly an outside guy because he walked all about the neighborhood with an electronic device in hand and then informed me that all my neighbors had service but for some reason, I did not. So, now it’s sounding like it’s my fault. Guy #2 a.k.a. Outside Guy left assuring me that Guy #3 would be here to get my service squared away.

Guy #3 (“outside guy” #2) came a few hours later and here I am blogging! Guy #3 briefly became my fav. With service back on I reviewed thirty-something emails that had arrived since my Starbucks trip yesterday. I had to smile at myself for being so impatient as I deleted about one-half of the emails which were not important. Then I checked the blog stats and was not too impressed. I read the news, answered the important emails and wondered what all the anxiety had been about.

Just as I thought I could breathe easily with my Internet intact, I discovered that I had no service in three out of four of my TVs! Guy #3 fixed one problem and created another. Sometimes I wish I was one of those seniors who completely eschewed technology!

“Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Lao Tzu

Book Review – The Half Has Never Been Told

The Half Has Never Been Told 

Slavery And The Making Of American Capitalism

by Edward E. Baptist 

This is not a book to be undertaken lightly. It is a hard read, or at least it was for me. It covers not only slavery, which I thought I knew a lot about but war, politics, economics and as the title says, “The Making of American Capitalism.” In his emphasis on the development of capitalism on the backs of slaves, the author does not leave out the inhumanity of slavery and the cruelty with which this population was controlled. 

One of the facts that I never fully appreciated was the sheer number of the enslaved. Millions of people, mostly from Africa, but also from other countries were sold and resold throughout the United States from the beginning of the settlement of this country. These human beings were a commodity like any crop or manufactured tool and depending upon the prevailing economy, their selling price, i.e., their “worth,” might fluctuate from several hundred dollars to well over one thousand. 

It is easy to think of slaves on idyllic southern plantations, but this is the exception as Baptist’s historical account covering 1783 through 1937 makes clear. His research is thorough and well documented in around 700 footnotes and references.

I recommend this book for a more accurate understanding of United States history. I promise it will dispel some of your long-held assumptions and provide a fresh view of today’s race challenges in this country. Actually, I finished this book with a whole new view of how the entire world, not just the U.S. benefited from the ownership of other human beings here in our country. 

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“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Abraham Lincoln