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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Depression -Why?

Several months ago, I heard on the radio that depression is not simply caused by low levels of serotonin in the brain.  This is a canard, embraced by people that yearn for simple solutions to questions that are complex and mysterious.  And of course, the prescription drug industry loves the theory because they sell zillions of pills.  Researchers don't know if low levels of serotonin cause depression or whether depression causes serotonin levels to drop.  Correlation and causality are two very different things.
Depression is caused by a mix of factors – biological, genetic, and environmental.  I am feeling more confident in my own theory that the only way to combat this problem is through discipline and force of will.  Taking care of your physical self, doing things that are good for you when you don’t feel happy, and refusing to be defeated by negative emotions – that is the path.  It isn’t an easy path.  The negative emotions may never go away.  The fight will continue for as long as you live - every day, every minute.  It is daunting, but it is the only way.  Talk therapy, medication, exercise, meditation, a sustainable life structure, pursuit of passionate interests, the human touch – these are the tools.  But they don’t cure a damned thing.  They just keep the beast outside, growling and scratching at the door, instead of inside, creating terror and sadness.  And when the beast gets inside, don't panic!  Tolerate the misery, and use the tools.  Soon, the beast will be outside the door again.  The good news about depression is if you fight it, you will win - eventually.
I laugh when it is suggested that depression is a sign of weakness.  Depressed people have to be much stronger and resilient than people that aren't afflicted with the disease in order to function; to even stay alive. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Linda Twyman Murder - Update

The brutal murder of Evanston single mom Linda Twyman remains unsolved.  Her friends and neighbors have not forgotten her, however.  This is a "cold case" for the Evanston Police, but the case is still being actively pursued.  The Evanston chief of police Richard Eddington granted an interview on Evanston's murders (solved and unsolved) to the local community newspaper, the Evanston RoundTable.  here is a "snip" of the article in the paper that dealt with Linda:

The 2005 murder of Linda Twyman remains unsolved, said Chief Eddington, though “we continue to work the case [and] there is a person of interest” whom the police are pursuing. It is “not anybody on the public radar,” he said. The person of interest is currently in prison and “not going anywhere,” said the Chief. He added the case is “a tough one, but there is some hope that we’ll eventually prosecute” someone for Ms. Twyman’s murder.

This is not very edifying, but it is the first public police comment on Linda Twyman's murder in a long time.  It is important to Linda's memory to find and bring justice to the perpetrator of this atrocity.

Monday, January 06, 2014

A Highly Skilled Stranger Saves My Butt

You want a "feel-good" story for this new year?  Here ya go.....

My two daughters and I were driving our 12-year old Subaru Outback wagon home to Evanston IL from Santa Fe NM, having finished a great visit with my eldest son, his wife and baby.   Santa Fe to Evanston is a 1,352-mile journey.  The old Subaru cruised through the long drive on the way out to Santa Fe.  The car was working well as we hit Highway 40 to go home on January 3.

We crossed the New Mexico border and around 4:30PM, I noticed that I no longer had power steering.  We pulled off the highway into a gas station and topped up the power steering fluid.  This did no good.  I was worried, but got back on the road. Immediately, my car started freaking out.  The gauges all went to zero, all the hazard lights went on and the engine began to cough and sputter. I got off the highway at the next exit, pulled over and called the roadside service folks.

We waited an hour for the wrecker to arrive; the bearded good ol' boy winched the Subaru onto his flatbed and drove us to the teaming metropolis of Clinton OK - population under 10,000 located 100 miles west of Oklahoma City.  The good ol' boy dropped our car at K&S Tire and drove us to a motel near the highway where we piled into a couple of adjoining rooms for a restless night.

I was convinced that the alternator was dead.  I began to worry about finding an alternator for a 12-year old Subaru in Clinton OK.  I worried about the quality of mechanics employed by a tire shop. I worried about being stuck in the middle or rural Oklahoma for quite a while.  Flying back from Oklahoma City would be impossible because we were traveling with Tai, the one-eyed wonder dog.  I would never put Tai in the cargo hold of an aircraft.

I begged a ride from the motel desk guy and showed up at K&S tire at 7:45AM on Saturday.  At about 8:05AM, the guy pictured above loped into the store.  His name is Martin King, a new resident of Clinton originally from Austin TX who is the lead mechanic at K&S.  He looks like an Austin guy - lean, shaved head, scraggly goatee, and a tattoo on the back of his neck that traveled halfway up his skull.  I wasn't sure if his appearance indicated extreme expertise or extreme incompetence.  I took hope in the guy's demeanor - he moved purposefully and confidently.  I crossed my fingers - really needed to get home to meet scheduled obligations...

Martin went into the shop, popped open the Subaru and took off the engine cover to have a look.  He came out to see me and said, "Sorry dude - I can't fix this.  Your idler pulley threw a bearing and the serpentine belt is shredded .  Nobody in this burg has the parts and it will take until Tuesday to get them delivered.  You could tow the sucker to the Subaru dealership in OK City but I think their service department closes at noon."

Well, this wasn't happy news, and I fell silent while I absorbed it.  I finally asked the mechanic to show me the problem so I could better understand it.  He took me into the shop and pointed out the wrecked bearings in the pulley and showed me the shredded belt (it looked like black, rubbery spaghetti).  Martin held up the pulley and stared at it and said "Hey, wait a second."  He turned abruptly, threw open a drawer in a cabinet and started rummaging through used parts.  He made a triumphant noise and held up a part - another pulley.  "Took this off an old Chevy truck I was re-building."  He held it up to the Subaru pulley - it looked about the same!  "Let's see if this sucker will go on your car."  He bent over, whirled his wrenches, and said, joyfully, "Sumbitch!!"   The old truck pulley fit perfectly.

"Now we need a belt."  He started working the phones, talking to various sources of parts.  One of the local auto parts stores had a belt that was almost the right size - just a bit shorter than the original, but the right width.  Martin dispatched a sleepy-looking kid to the parts store to fetch it.

Once he had the belt, Martin called up the diagram of my car's pulley and belt system on the internet.  He, threaded the belt through the various rotors and pulleys.  He got in the car, turned the ignition key and Presto!  It worked!! Power steering functional, all gauges working, all systems go!!  Time elapsed from Martin's statement of defeat to his glorious victory - 30 minutes.

This service cost me about $50.  I drove 900 miles to Evanston IL on a rigged repair job with a junked part.

So I tip my hat to Martin King, mechanic extraordinaire, Austin hipster in a small Oklahoma town, just fixing cars and feeling justifiably confident in his ability to rig and hack his way through problems.  Martin, you rock!