Archive for category Random

I Do Have Opinions

There is a lot that goes on in my mind throughout the day at any given moment. I could be thinking of several different topics – phosphorus characterization, how my kids tend to resemble me, how to save the world, how I wish I could be done with school, fishing, hiking, running, friends, politics, guns, and most of the time – how I love my wife’s body.  Today however I am just a little opinionated – so…


1) I am not part of the 68% who approve with the President’s first couple days in office and here is why…

            a) I believe the executive order to close GITMO before there was a full understanding of where those that still want to harm us are going to go was not a good decision. I think he could have received the same effect he wanted by publically commanding those in charge to give him exit strategies before the order.  It is still a year away but I would have done it differently


            b) The executive order to now fund international groups that support abortion – repealing the Bush, Bush, and Reagan orders.. I know the history and it started in 84 and was repealed by Clinton and now Obama – still wrong decision. 


                c) Out in 16 months is awesome, I want our soldiers home but deadlines are never good when playing with the enemy…


·        I have appreciated the looks he has given Biden over the last week wishing he would shut up…priceless 


2) I really dislike ABC’s streaming of shows on the web.  We can’t afford cable because we made the choice to have high speed, therefore we watch our shows on the internet.  ABC is the only network that makes you click to continue your show after a commercial…it has made the difference on whether or not we have watched a show…petty I know but I have an opinion. ABC – if you want us to watch your shows…don’t make me get up every 5 minutes. 


3) People who honk at you when you are running to make you jump need to get in an accident – don’t really mean it but come on  – it is not FUNNY and yes your mother was a snow blower (Number 5 Alive)


4) Lead, follow or get out of the way…more on this later…good book


Enough for today… written during a mandatory seminar that I have already listened to last week, but have to show up and look busy. 

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My heart Aches for Van Zandt and Mt. Baker – Floods 2009

If you know me you have heard me say over the years – you can take the boy out of Baker but you will never take the Baker out of the boy. Over the last 30 hours my community has been ravaged, as with others across Western Washington, however this is my community. As I write this the church I pastored is the command center for rescue. The volunteer firefighters who are in the accessible island Doug, Holly, Elvin and Frank are shuffling their best efforts to rescue people trapped by water and mud. Drake and Paul are taking supplies out of Paul’s house because they do not know if it will be there by the end of the day. EMS advised them to stay away but what would you do? The Mt. Baker Hwy has a new slide just south of Freeman’s house taking 5 homes in its wake, the Zender clan and the rest of the Glacier, Kendal, Maple Falls area are cut off from access to resources.

I would be volunteer firefighter number five, I would be there to stand next to Paul, Drake and Dr. Gantman. When you have been trained to jump into action as a pastor, firefighter, and support officer then when the worst of the worst happens and you are miles from the people who have your cell phone number and unable to do anything…I feel helpless..I miss my community. My heart aches for their safety – my friends– but I sit at a computer in an area that has blue sky.

I will pray, support the best I can but when tragedy strikes your community – my Baker, Van Zandt…you just want to be there…If you read this little post pray for those who are in the middle of the mess…and specifically that Paul and Ramona’s house will remain standing. So to my refugee friends – Tom and Joann, Peanut Butter Jar holding Jerry and the rest we are praying for you.

Below is a link to some raw video – when the talk about Van Zandt our home and church are just out of the shot.

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Yoda says

In the world according to Yoda “do or do not there is no try” becomes the motto. This little green Muppets words are haunting me at the moment. Throughout my entire life when someone has told me I could not do something it has become the catalysis for drive and determination. This has been true with sermon contest, pole vault, sending students to Africa or ASB President if the cards were stacked against me…I would win. (with God’s support and help of course…we all know without him I am nothing)

Now I sit here 9 weeks from my written exams and everyone is telling me not to worry I can do this…why I am the only one right now who doesn’t think so? Please don’t send me a ton of email telling me I am a moron and can’t pass these test…I understand like Yoda would say…do or do not there is not try.

More important…I understand and believe with God nothing is impossible…still why am I the only one who doesn’t believe at the moment…maybe I need a good conversation with Dad both heavenly and earthly.

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PhD Update

soil3Last night I was ask by a friend what I was going to do with my free time now that classes were over and I have nothing on the schedule and no manure on the ground.  Oddly she is not the only one to ask this wonderful question which turns my insides out and causes my back to seize up in stress.  


For those who care here is what is next for Jason and the PhD process. 

  • I have successfully completed all but one graded class in my PhD coursework including

Soil Chemistry, Soil Fertility, Soil Physics, Pedology, Soil Microbiology, Experimental Design (STATS), Environmental Biophysics, and Advanced Soil Fertility Next Fall I will take Soil Microbe Interacts

  • Preliminary exams March 10 and 24
    • On March 10/11/12 I will be given a written exam covering each of the 5 core areas above.  Different Professors in the department will submit questions to be answered .  Depending on the professor the test will be closed or open book but you plan on being locked in a room all by yourself with a calculator.  The questions will cover everything in the 100 to 500 level range. The exams are graded and your committee returns the following verdict
      • Pass – Fail Take more classes you don’t know enough and try again – Fail you do not deserve to graduate from our college leave now.

Assume a Pass

            March 24 will be an oral exam which will cover the same thing as in the written however they will harp on the items I didn’t master in the written.  The exception for this round is that any professor in the department can show up and ask any question they like from anything to do with soils.  The purpose is to see how deep your knowledge goes and to see how easily they can destroy you.  I have been told “don’t say to much – they can smell weakness, don’t say to little – they smell weakness, if you don’t know the answer don’t bluff – they hate BS – they love the smell of blood.”  This process should take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours.  With the same 3 options for a result, however both written and oral must be passed to get out and you only get 2 tries.  


Assuming a Pass

     I am then considered a PhD Candidate worthy of a diploma if I pass my dissertation.  I will then spend the next year or a little more experimenting and writing.  I need to have at least 3 papers submitted for publication for graduation plus the defense.  Because I work with agriculture I only have some much time to get things done because experiments are done in the growing season.  


Needless to say it has only just begun…Merry Christmas

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Seize the Day Boys…Seize the day

One of my favorite movies of all time is Dead Poet’s Society which came out during my high school years. My senior year our English teacher tried to reenact the movie throughout the semester, including having us stand on our desks and call him O Captain my Captain. Mr. Gorski did pull it off with a minimal lame factor.

On Friday my middle child, Joash came running out of the play room exclaiming Macuen was saying a bad word when in fact he was just telling him “Carpe Diem” which his mom had told him about earlier in day.

Carpe Diem, seize the day, it is Monday morning the air is a cold 14 degrees the snow is falling and I have one paper left to finish before the semester is over. Will I find excuses to work in the lab, keep looking at the computer or will I seize the day?

It is amazing; each one of our days is numbered by God for his purpose. It is my responsibility to be obedient… some days is easier than others. The question: Will I seize the day or will the day seize me?

Today: Day 12,731 in my life, yesterday is gone, tomorrow has no guarantees…

What will I/you do with my/your today?

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A Graduate Student’s Life

A Graduate Student’s Life

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It STILL smells like POOP!

As for my gradate school life…IT STILL SMELLS.  After 3 months of waiting I finally received my first sample of material for my PhD.  In my head I had made myself believe it would no longer smell like cow manure…I was wrong….another year of smelling.  I feel deflated…come on really…it almost smells worse~  

An old friend of mine just started his first semester of graduate school.  This was his recent post which outlines exactly how it feels to be in school with a job, kids and wife.  There is something to be said for the guys who go back with family, it is harder than anyone things…especially the single graduate students or professors who didn’t have a family, they never really understadn the struggle.  It is a balancing act which is undescribable because as a dad you don’t want your kids messed up and on Orpah when you are done.   John Hang in there…

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My Hidden Life

Orthophosphate Structure in simple form

Orthophosphate Structure in simple form

I was ask to include a little of my work in a blog so here goes…I do encourage your input.




Phosphorus is a macronutrient needed for life to exist.  Phosphorus is primarily made available to plants through the mineralization of organic material (biomass, organic matter, plant residue or agricultural by-products) and the dissolution of primary and secondary phosphorus minerals.  The fate and rate of the phosphorus availability in a system depends on multiple factors which are ultimately site specific.  These factors include soil chemistry, temperature, management practice, pH and the physical soil make up including texture, density and structure.  Since phosphorus is becoming the new standard element to be tracked for pollution on dairies and agricultural land it, is important we understand the inputs and outputs intimately.  When attempting to account for the phosphorus in the system it is vital to use the appropriate testing methodology.   Failure to use the best practices for testing could skew regulation to one side or the other.  (Barrow, 1974; Fuhrman et al. 2005; Sims ed. 2005; Rowell, 2003)


When breaking down the testing soils for phosphorus there are three primary approaches to testing: (Toor et al. 2006; NRCS 2008; Davenport, 2007; Arie, 2007; Kuo, 1996)



1)      Immediately available soil phosphorus which is considered available to the plant immediately. 

Methods include Water Extractable Phosphorus and Ion-Exchange Membranes (Anion Exchange Resin).


2)      The labile phosphorus which could be available to the plant throughout the growing season.

Methodsinclude Olsen, Bray, and Mehlich 1 or 3.


3)      The non labile phosphorus which is contained in the clays or secondary minerals which is only available to the plant as it is broken down over time, usually a very slow process.  

Methods include Sequential Phosphorus Fractionation, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and X-Ray Absorption Near Edge Structure Spectroscopy.  


For the purpose of this post I would like to explore the pros and cons of these methodologies and which are the most useful to science and agriculture respectively. 


Please take a look at these three approaches and give me some feed back on the usefulness of a method and some of the factors affecting your answer. Please indicate if you are referring to a specific cropping system.    

References available just ask.

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Living or Surviving

My wife and I had an interesting discussion after she returned from a meeting.  Can a person live passionately for something 24/7?  At the moment I am neck deep in the final classes of my PhD with preliminary exams just 4 months away.  I should have time for nothing outside of school at the moment.  Can I live passionately for something 24/7?


Yes, however doing something passionately does not mean dropping the ball on everything else around me.  This incorrect thinking would do more harm to my cause in the long run.  Being Passionately Missional is a better term to describe what is possible.  Everything is purposefully and passionately filtered through the mission.  Every decision our family makes is filtered through this missional thinking.  It is not a movement, not a person, or a program but the foundation of what we are…we are passionately missional.  Our entire life is filtered through the mission and yes it happens everyday all the time. 


It did not happen overnight but it has been this way since I was 16 years old.  Mary and I decided as a couple we were going to live life through our call.  We didn’t want life to just happen but wanted to be missional.  Everyday is not a summer camp or green peace protest but everyday is lived passionately for the ultimate mission. (see post: why I exist)   


This weekend I have no time for anything outside of reading and writing; however I will hand out candy at the church on Friday and have 20 odd people from work over on Saturday for a little fall fun.  Those decisions and invitations were on purpose.  


I would contend – if we do not live life with a missional attitude, we are not truly living at all we are just surviving – we were not called to survive but to live life to the full.  

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Science Life…

Life at the research station

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