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Inspirational Reads

The Ordeal, Part V: Endgame

December 26, 2006

I originally thought four editions would wrap this tale up. And, it should have. Not much happened on the final day. I sat for an interminibly long time in my hospital room. My wife sat with me, and we waited and waited for that final bit of paperwork to be processed. I was visited fairly early on by Dr. Pickett. She just wanted to make sure that nothing had burst open during the night and that my wounds were, more or less, healing (barring a mutant healing factor (and the handy admantium skeleton that seems to come with it), I wasn't going to actually have been healed too much, but she just wanted to make sure that nothing had torn open and to tell me about cleaning them and such). I was very pleased with Dr. Pickett. I would recommend her to anyone.

I finally got the heart monitor off (no thanks to Kim) and pulled the patches off where the electrodes had been attached (once again, no thanks to Kim) and pulled the oxygen tubes out of my nostrils. Sexy images, I'm certain.

Finally, another older nurse came in to start making me less like a cyborg and more like a real, human boy! The long, arduous task of pulling me away from my machines and IVs had already begun. Kim actually came in and shut me off earlier in the morning. This lady, Judy I want to say, came along and began pulling needles out of my flesh. The one in the hand up around my first knuckle on my right hand, not so bad. The long one buried in the vein in my left wrist? Hellish. And fortunately, that one bled when I decided my arm had become numb and couldn't be held up in the air any longer. I'm not sure about my fear of needles anymore. I might have finally overcome it, or it could be lying dormant within my psyche, ready to burst forth at any moment when a sharp piece of metal comes hurtling toward my flesh.

I digress. This is really the tale of the recovery, which was amazingly short, given that my abdomen had been pierced so many times. I finally got the discharge papers and, feeling a bit crotchety, demanded to be wheeled down to the front door. Alright, so it wasn't so much a demand as it was not a refusal to take the ride. My wife picked me up and we jaunted home where I could enjoy the healing aura of my own house. It was a lovely autumnal day, however, I was sore. Not sore enough to be popping medications like my doctor thought I should. In fact, the only times I felt sore at all were on days when I tried to force myself to recover too soon. I would do too much, and there would be the sort of...vacant...feeling in my side. It might have been my subconscious playing with me, but it really felt like...phantom organ pain, for the lack of a better term.

The worst part was sitting down in a chair. The muscles beneath my belly button did not like that so much. Getting out was fine because I could use my arms and shoulders and sort of push myself out of the chair. Laying down wasn't much more fun, and again, sitting up wasn't so bad. I could hurl my leg over the side of the bed and the momentum would ratchet me up into some semblance of a sitting position. As bad as this sounds, though, this only went on for about a week or so. My follow-up was scheduled for two weeks after the surgery (and I wasn't supposed to go back to work until Dr. Pickett gave the go ahead...*whistles innocently*).

After a week, I felt pretty good. The fatigue was mostly gone. I didn't NEED that nap in the middle of the afternoon like I had the first week. Which is good, because I was back at work. I could have gone back sooner, but EB games had a buy 2 used games get a third free, and so I took full advantage of that for a couple of days.

So, I've been recovered now for about two months. I finally flicked off some of the final scab material around my belly button. I didn't want to mess with the area where Dr. Pickett had, most wonderfully and blessedly, taken that hideous piece of flesh off my body that had lived at the edge of my belly button for thirty plus years. Imagine how THAT appealed to the ladies. "No, no, it won't bite. It'll just sit there and stare at you the whole time we're together. Pay it no mind. Sentient? No, not quite. Wait? Where are you going?"

Not that I dated a lot of girls that knew what the term "sentient" means.

Anyway. So, one thing that the gall bladder is good at is keeping around extra bile so that you can use it at the body's discretion whilst digesting your meal. Bile is used to help break down fats and oils and to help soften up proteins for further digestion. You can imagine, then, that if this little bag of fat-digesting sauce isn't in your abdomen anymore that you could run into some troubles, especially if you sit down and eat a whole tub of Crisco or something. This is the case. Meals that are really oily or fatty would require an extra squirt or two from the gall bladder to help process these oils. With the gall bladder gone, the liver still makes bile, but sometimes, it might not be enough. You can imagine what happens then when all that grease and such gets into your bowels? Right, it lubes them right up and everything just sort of...slides...on through.

Now, I'm a man who fully enjoys his morning, late afternoon and night time constitutionals. It's a peaceful time where it's just me and the wilds of the nearest sewage system. News that I might not be crapping solid ever again distressed me. However, once the pain meds wore off (oxycodone tends to harden the stool to the point of being something akin to granite...I assume the body pulls more water out of the waste stream in order to compensate for the metabolism of the drug...but that could just be my very limited view of pharmacokinetics working), I was blissfully and wonderfully solid. Until a few days ago.

Remember, eating a lot of fatty, greasy, proteiny food will, ahem, loosen the bowels. For this reason, I advise anyone who is missing a gall bladder to pace themselves while eating at the Brazilian steak house. Oh, sure, it might seem like a good idea to take two or three slabs of roast beef off that skewer when offered or to tell them to keep the lamb coming. While the food is delicious, let's just say forty minutes later, the lamb strikes its revenge.

A pain unlike any I had felt in my bowels for many a year struck. Fortunately, I have a sphincter with the tensile strength of steel and could keep things shut tight on that fateful ride back to work. A quick dash upstairs and I was literally sweating bullets. I hurried to the toilet where I unleashed a salvo straight from hell. In fact, Satan himself, who I assume is quite the alchemist, could not concoct such a violent, gut-wrenching, sulfurous stench if he tried. Fire and brimstone poured from my backside, and I could feel the water beneath me begining to smoke and boil. Fortunately for me, animal fat is one helluva lubricant, and as quickly as it began, it was over.

So, now I know, and knowing is half the battle (thanks, G.I.Joe). I consider this part a public service announcement. When at the Brazilian steakhouse, sit back for a bit after polishing off that last disgustingly large portion of lamb wrapped in bacon. Sip some coffee, enjoy a tart or two. And wait, because you know it's coming.

Just do yourself a favor, and don't wear light-colored pants.

The Ordeal, Part IV

December 20, 2006

Or, How I Got Four Holes in My Abdomen and Lived to Tell the Tale!

Thursday morning, I was in and out of sleep. I got up in the middle of the night having to piss badly, and, fortunately enough, my IV bag ran out. I rang the nurse and soon after the angelically beautiful Jamie arrived with a fresh bag of fluids just as I was laying myself back down in the bed after having whizzed. I had my glasses still on, which was a good thing since this was the last time I would see her.

I slept on and off throughout the rest of the night and then was awakened in the pre-dawn hours by my angelically-beautiful intern who came to talk to me about the surgery that would happen later that day. Since the guy I was originally scheduled to undergo the survery with was in Montana fishing (originally, I had scheduled for some time in late August but had to cancel), I would be operated on by Dr. Wilke. That was fine with me. I remember a couple of other people being in the room, most likely either trailing the intern or taking blood or my vitals. Everything was kind of a blur since I had not been sleeping well that night. The intern's take home message, though, was that today was the day. I would undergo surgery to get my gall bladder removed, but it wouldn't be until almost evening (I think the original time, after having been told that Friday was unacceptable, was around 5:00).

Morning finally came, and sadly, so did my nurse, Carolina. That meant that Lowell was dutifully servicing someone else. I was jealous, but I thought I could deal with nurse Carolina. She was, however, no Lowell, and definitely no Jamie.

The morning passed quietly. I finished my Bill Bryson book, my wife came and visited and I watched the news while she slept. I was very well-versed in the ways of the world that particular week; I was also very up-to-date on the weather around the country. The morning passed quietly until Dr. Wilke arrived, telling me that I would be moved up on the schedule and that I would get the surgery done that afternoon rather than that evening. Somewhere, I SHOULD have been excited, but that was still hours away. I was bedsore and tired and just wanting to get the thing over as soon as possible.

Midday passed and we moved on into the early afternoon. I turned to my All About Beer to entertain me, but it was such an uninspired issue that I sort of tossed it aside and watched the television for the remainder of the day. I felt like going to the peds' floor and stealing a playstation or an xbox or something, but instead I lounged about still, watching the time tick slowly away.

Carolina came in several times and took my vitals. I had good blood pressure and temperature and all. No fevers, nothing bad. I was very laid back. What the hell was I going to do? Riot? Instead, I just waited for the time to come when I would no longer have a gall bladder.

Around 12:30, a very large, very stout man came to my door. I think his name was Gary. Things were in kind of a rush, as I knew Gary was there to transport me to the OR. Since this was surgery, I knew that I would have to drop trou, and as I was preparing to do so, along came Carolina. Now, you'd think that when someone is about to go to the OR, you wouldn't need to take their vital signs as they have machines in the OR to do this. They also have nurses. Several of them. And they are competant. Unlike Carolina.

Since I was sitting up, my right arm was twisted away so she opted for my left. Now, Jamie, Lowell, Elizabeth and Jennifer all had NO problems whatsoever taking my blood pressure on my left bicep. It's not like I have rippling, tree-trunk arms, either (though I would like to think I'm not a stick-boy). In fact, in the several times Carolina had been in there that day pestering me, she had had no problems, either. Suddenly, though, I apparently grew a bicep like your average comic book hero and so, in the midst of me getting ready to go have an organ removed from my body, nurse Carolina straps the blood pressure sleeve around my left FOREARM. Uh...no. With the sudden adrenaline rush after being told "it's time" and the need to remove my pants (which is always a thrilling ordeal, for me at least) and the fact that the cuff was now in the WRONG POSITION, you'd think that it would sink through someone's thick skull that there was something wrong when my blood pressure read out at 530/247 or whatever the fuck inflated number it gave.

This is when I came closest to inflicting some bodily harm on someone (and it certainly wasn't Gary, who was big enough to bare-knuckle fight bears) as she asks, "Have you ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure?"

For one fleeting moment, I saw them cancelling the surgery because of this dunce's inability to use, oh, logic or the blood pressure machine or chewing gum. I hesitated, trying to control myself before I released a tirade of curse words that would leave her with jaw agape and speechless. Fortunately, my wife filled the void with, "Don't you think going into surgery might have something to do with that?"

Score one for the lovely readhead in the corner.

With Carolina summarily dismissed and Gary waiting impatiently, cracking his knuckles in anticipation of doling out his hourly ass-whooping, I dropped trou and dove onto the gurney, apparently giving the world a show of me private bits. This upset my wife, who tossed a blanket over my legs and lower midsection. I giggled like a little kid, because I'm just THAT mature.

One unpleasant side effect of going into surgery is that you have to take your glasses off and hand them to the nearest comely redhead. Fortunately, that was my wife. Unfortunately, the trip down to the OR was a series of light blurs and shadowy blurs and Gary rumbling instructions for people to get the hell out of his way or he'd eat their babies. True story.

At the entrance to the OR, I had to bid adieu to my wife, who promised that she would go and find something for her to eat. I had been on liquid diet the day before with nothing after midnight to eat or drink. I was mighty thirsty and parched, but as the doors swung back and forth behind my becovered feet, I wasn't thinking of food or drink for some reason. Naturally, I was thinking of the final installment of Harry Potter.

Okay, I threw that in there to see if anyone is still paying attention.

Upon arrival in the OR, I was granted my very own curtained partition. I was also greeted by a taller, grayer, sturdier man than Gary. I can't remember his name, so I'll call him Glen. Glen was the guy who would be making sure that I would not wake up during the course of the procedure. As I don't like pain and/or seeing instruments sticking out of my abdomen (despite my dreams of becoming a cyborg), I decided that Glen was two steps below a saint. That is, until he looked at my IV and decided that it was, and I quote, "something a 2nd grader would make."

Uh, and this was feeding me IV, antibiotics and other fluids for the past days.

I was also granted two different nurses. Well, one was a medical intern from Duke who was training to be an anasthesiologist. The other was Shirley, and I'm pretty sure Shirley could field dress any wound anywhere on the body. Had she been on the beaches of Normandy, we wouldn't have lost a single man. In fact, she would have kicked the ass of any German who got between her and the next man down. Shirley kicked ass. She was assigned the fixing of my IV. Shirley was wonderful. She patted the back of my hand as she drew forth a Viking war blade. Shirley was fantastic. She made a goofy face as she plunged it into my left wrist. Shirley was mad. As I felt cold steel sliding beneath my skin and into my veins, she said, "That wasn't so bad, was it?"

I was afraid to respond in the negative. Clearly, I was working with a master of torture here.

The anasthesio...Duke student (who was cute, by the way, at least in a brunette-blur sort of way), came back and was telling me about what they would be doing for my surgery. It was a cocktail of gasses that I can't remember, but none of them was ozone, so I felt safe. Plus, Shirley was back, and in her hands was a bag of something. She hooked it up to my IV and then plugged it in. "They say you're low on magnesium," she reported. I looked at the bag. It was a magnesium sulfate solution.

"The finest dessicant in all the land!" I proclaimed loudly. I was the chemistry king in this little curtained partition, and it was time to hold court.

Shirley shot me what I interpretted as a funny look...or at least a blurry funny look. "I'm a chemist," I responded. "I use mag sulfate to pull the water out of stuff all the time. Stuff works like a charm!"

"I see," said the-blur-that-was-Shirley. "This might burn a little." She turned on my IV.

Fire shot up my arm. On the inside.

Did I mention this was a master of torture? I could imagine her saying "Dry that, tough guy" as she walked out of my partition.

I met my doctor shortly after that. A lovely woman...or at least, blurrily lovely. She was bubbly and effervescent, which is good for alka-seltzer, but I'm not too certain it's a good quality in someone who is about to remove a part of your anatomy. I guess it's better than saying, "Hi, I'm Doctor Pickett. I'll be removing your gall bladder today. Hope you don't die!"

I give Shirley and Dr. Pickett a bad rap up here, but they were both fantastic, despite Shirley's ability to inflict such awful, excrutiating pain with laser-precision. She was good, and when you're going into surgery, you want someone who is good, rather than someone that...well...is Carolina. Dr. Pickett was also awesome. She actually asked me if it was alright with me if she could remove my gall bladder (paraphrasing). I think I responded with "Sure. I mean, I'm going to be unconscious, anyway."

The good doctor and I had an instant rapport.

Not much happened while I waited my dessicant...er...magnesium infusion. The an...Duke student came back a few times and we chatted idly while she made me remember that I was REALLY naked under that blanket. Not that anything bad happened or that I was embarassed, but your mind tends to wander shortly after being impaled upon a yard-long needle and shot full of liquid fire.

Finally, the time came and Shirley cleared the way before me as I was wheeled into the OR. No one second-guessed her. She was, after all, the hospital's own expert on torture.

I was wheeled into a bright, white room that felt antiseptic from the moment my covered feet knocked the door open. That, too, was reassuring. I'd hate to be wheeled into somewhere, moments from having my body rent assunder, thinking I was rolling in human sewage. Or any sewage. I'm not particular. Shit and disease is better off outside of my body.

More nurses descended on me. I don't remember their names, but I do remember them hooking me up to a respirator to pump "pure oxygen" to me. Glen was there, too. He was running around preparing me for the knock out. I got hooked up to more IVs. I got moved to the operating table. I got my cover removed. I got cold. And then, my eyelids began to get droopy. In a moment of clarity (because for some stupid-ass reason, I decided to fight the anasthesia all the way), I yelled out, "Hey, this isn't oxygen anymore, is it???" I saw through Glen's clever ruse. "Oh, yes, it is," assured the nurse. But I saw through them. Actually, I think my anasthesia was coming through my IV, but my mind, still like a steel trap, had latched onto the notion that they were knocking me via the air being piped down my throat. I began to slip off into a blissful sleep when suddenly my eyes snapped open.

"Oh my God!" I said, "I can't believe I didn't do this!"

"What?" the nurse asked, somewhat panicked.

"Luke...I am your father!" I offered up. However, that was the very LAST thing I remembered. So, I'm sure it came out like "Looyamurrrfavvvvvvvvvvvuhhhhhhhh"*drool*

I can't tell you about this part. I was asleep for it. And, since Glen did his job well, I don't remember even the juicy middle parts. So, I'll summarize for those of you who don't know what is involved in a gall-bladder-removal.

A long incision (about an inch, maybe two) is done in the bottom of the belly button. Another one is done just to the right of the line down the middle of my body, just under the ribcage. This is where the offending bag of bile and stones is pulled out, eventually. Another smaller, T-shaped hole is made on my right flank, about a fist's width below my ribcage and a fourth T-shaped hole is made further down, kind of in that area where you get a pain if you've been running too much (as in, anything past five steps for me). The hole in the belly button is where they stick the air hose, inflating your abdominal cavity with CO2 like a balloon. Makes everything easier to manipulate. One of the T-shaped holes is where the camera and light source go in, and I'm not sure what the fourth one is for. Symmetry, I guess. The bigger hole just south of my sternum is where the green sac leaves my personage.

Now, one great thing about this is that the hepatic artery, the common bile duct, and the gall bladder duct are all in the same area. Hit the hepatic, I think I have five minutes to live, if I'm lucky, before I bleed to death. It's big as it feeds the liver, and the liver is pretty big. Hit the common bile duct, and the scar tissue will force the bile duct closed, I'll get sirrhossis and either need a liver transplant or die. So, as you can see, there is a bit of risk involved. Fortunately, Dr. Wilson (and apparently, Dr. Wilke, as well) are very competant and have this 45-minute policy. If they can't tease everything out in 45 minutes and begin the removal of the gall bladder from my liver, they go in the old-fashioned way, which is opening a six to eight-inch hole under my rib cage and start at the top and move down, cutting away the offending organ. As Dr. Pickett works with Dr. Wilke, she has the same policy. I was in good hands. Obviously, since I'm sitting here typing this out.

One FANTASTIC thing about the surgery is that they have to make an incision at the south end of my belly button, where, until two months ago, a very large, very nasty mole resided. This thing was like a rogue cocoa puff that had permanently attached itself to my flesh. It was embarassing, and it made it difficult to clean out the pit of Saarlacc, aka my belly button. So, when Dr. Pickett was scouting the area out, she noticed this horrible, egregious piece of my anatomy.

"Would you like me to remove this?"

Oh, Doctor. Would you marry me?

So, it's gone. I can go shirtless once more without the embarassment of that...thing...sticking out of my navel. Granted, there's the lily white flesh, predominant gut and man-boobs which keep me firmly ensconced within my cotton t-shirts, but, hey, at least it's only 3 things instead of 4. Of course...now I have scars.

I woke up, somwhere. In recovery. My lovely wife was there. My lovely Duke student was there, I think. Again, I was a touch groggy. However, I didn't hurt as much as I thought I would. In fact, considering I had just had my gall bladder removed, I felt pretty damned good. I was returned to my room, and my wife hung out for a while, making sure I was okay. Soon enough, however, I had to piss like the proverbial racehorse. I thought I would wait around until Carolina came back to check my vitals. However, there came a time when I couldn't wait any longer. The reason why I was staying in my bed was because I was hooked to an oxygen machine AND I had these cuffs on my calves that would inflate from time to time to help prevent CVT from forming. They were annoying as fuck, and so the sooner I could get them off me the better. I was made to promise to walk around some that evening and night. But, all I wanted was to pee. Finally, my wife released me from these tortuous devices while Carolina dicked around with stuff at the end of my bed. I ran hobbled to the bathroom. It was sweet bliss.

My wife left. Carolina was dismissed. I got Kim for a nurse. Kim was no Jamie. In fact, Kim was a guy. He did explain to me why I was on oxygen (because most people, being incredible pussies, don't breathe deeply enough to fully oxygenate their blood after this surgery. However, not being a salsa-dancing pansy, I breathed fully and deeply, so I could have dropped the oxygen. My blood was at a 98% saturation, anyway, but I decided to play by the rules). He also brought me Sierra Mist, which tasted like nectar straight from the cask atop Olympus. I still had to eat soft, liquid food. I also had a heart monitor hooked up to me, to make sure I still lived and all. During the night, I had to get up and piss out my Sierra Mist, so I got up, went wee, and came back to bed. Still mostly pain free. Suddenly, seconds later Kim burst into the room.

"Mr. Jenks, we've detected an unusual spike in your heart rate. Are you okay?"

It started out cool. I thought maybe he had detected a latent mutant ability, a twin growing inside my abdomen, porn on channel 67. But no, just abnormal heart rate.

"Yeah, I don't know why it would do--oh, I just got up and went to the John. You might want to empty the piss bucket."

And so went my relationship with Kim.

I had a very hard time falling back asleep. Pure oxygen seems to do something to your brain. Colors seem brighter and the voices inside your head are more vocal. I lay there for a long time pondering my next move. I really wanted to go to sleep, but with the heart rate monitor on me, I couldn't perform my surefire trick for instant sleep. So, instead, I lay there dreaming while awake, the patterns of the capillaries in my eyes taking on shapes as they pulsed with my lifeblood, dancing before me and moving on. It was the most impressive high I've ever experienced, aside from the contact buzz I picked up at my first R.E.M. concert.

I finally fell asleep and was awakened only once when Kim came to take my blood pressure--correctly--and finally in the morning when a doctor came and told me that I would soon be cleared to go home.

Freedom loomed.

An Abject Apology

Sorry, it's been a little slow in the world of updates of late. I've been really busy at work trying to do some large-scale syntheses. Plus, the crush of the holidays has been brutal. Top that off with trying to get the house cleaned up for the imminent invasion by the in-laws this weekend, and you can tell why I haven't much to report. In fact, I'm doing laundry, as we speak.

Expect lots of posts over the next few days as I'm trying to catch up, including the final installment(s) of the greatest story ever told (about my gall bladder).

Hope those of you getting Christmas cards from me received them. Those of you in my "fanclub" (if there is such a thing)...you'll get Christmas cards (semi-personalized) from me after I'm a published author. How's that for enticement?

Now, back to the typing.

ESPN: Whore of the Sports World

I'm trying to "watch" the Indiana game on the internet. Much to my delight, in between the times it takes for the screen to reload, ESPN is now flashing more ads. Not that the entire site isn't riddled with their corporate whoredom or anything. Now they HAVE to insert ads in between update pages. And, the great thing is, it's not even an ad that sits there for 10 seconds an then redirects you back to ESPN.com. Oh no! You have to actually click the button to send it back.

And what happens when you click the button? You get the half-time update. Not the real-time update. Half-time.

Bastards.

Not Nearly Enough Ashley

December 11, 2006

So, I didn't know that the game was actually being played at Rupp Arena. Seems a scheduling conflict has returned the Indiana/Kentucky series to a home-and-home. Indiana was allotted 100 tickets for the game. 100 effing tickets! That's a lot of blue to deal with (and not nearly enough pictures of Ashley Judd...Pat Forde and I weep together at this travesty).

Now that I've stopped puking over the results of the game, I can properly post about it. A few things I noticed: Indiana outrebounded Kentucky. While this may seem good on the surface, they had a ton of offensive rebounds, which means that they were shooting like a bunch of blindfolded, crippled nuns. Actually, the nuns would have God on their side and could probably hit more shots.

Indiana also had a lot of steals. The younger Wildcats weren't very careful with the ball, and Indiana's guards were picking their pockets all day. Again, on the surface, this looks good. However, most of the time Indiana would run down and piss the ball away either through a stupid turnover, or better yet, by trying to force the ball into the basket on a 1-on-4 break. I don't know about anyone else, but I figure if four guys are defending the ball, that's not a good time to drive the lane. Just a thought. Maybe pull it out and reset the offense. Again, just a thought.

Here's another thought: if you haven't hit ANY shots all game long, you probably shouldn't be shooting in a crucial situation. If you find the ball in your hands, get rid of it, preferably not on an ill-advised heave toward the rim. Perhaps maybe dump it off to the guy underneath who has been taking every lump and bump that the defense has thrown at him and more or less dominated (D.J. White looked like the promising freshman Mike Davis brought to Bloomington two years ago...not to say Randolph Morris played like shit. He, too, had an incredible game, but then, only one guy was playing defense on him...Stemler for IU stood there and basically allowed Morris to go around him all game long). Maybe you might want to drive to the basket, causing the defense to collapse and you can dump the ball off for an easy dunk by D.J. White or Mike White or anybody. Kentucky sure as hell was using the drive-and-dish effectively to their advantage. Perhaps you could learn a little something from the clearly superior team.

I'd like to comment on Indiana's ability at the free-throw line, but that would assume that I actually saw them shoot a free throw. Kentucky had 4 fouls in the second half. 4. The referees kept their whistles quiet most of the game, allowing the players to play (unlike the pre-season NIT, where EVERYTHING was a foul or a turnover). However, 4 fouls? One every 5 minutes? That's a little...spare. I think Indiana ended up with 9 for the half. Like I said, the referees let them play, but still. None of the 4 fouls were in shooting situations, either. Perhaps the refs were too busy scanning the crowd for Ashley Judd, too.

I'll grant this much: Mike Davis left the cupboard a little bare. Rod Wilmont and D.J. White are about the only star-caliber players on the team. For some reason, there seems to be a LOT of JUCO players, moreso than normal. And, of course, the walk-ons (interesting fact: two of the three Indiana kids on Indiana's team are walk-ons...the other, A.J. Ratliff, is still waiting for his "break-out" game...after four years. I'm not sure who is a bigger waste of a scholarship: him or Ben Allen. If either of you prove me wrong, I'll own up to it, too. So, c'mon, try and prove me wrong!).

I also blame the "shoot the ball from anywhere on the floor" mentality on Davis. He had no control over the team's shot selection. Sure, he looked like a genius when Indiana demolished Illinois a few years ago and later when they beat Kent State to get to the Final Four. But then there are those nights when it's a choking slop-fest out there (the 2002 Championship game...the game against Kentucky). Here's to hoping coach Sampson knocks some sense into these guys heads. It seems to be slow in coming. Ben Allen is no longer playing around the perimeter (which is almost a shame, as he's probably Indiana's best long-range threat), but he's also not exactly playing the post real well. Yes, he's been sick, but still, a little stepping up would be nice. If you need, go back and watch film of Jard Odle from 2002. That was a season-long step-up right there. Fortunately, waste-of-space George Leach (a Knight holdover), was injured and Odle busted out big time that season, basically filling Leach's shoes as well as departed-captain Kirk Haston. In case you can't tell, I'm a big Jared Odle fan (and because it's how my life works...I might be spelling his name wrongly...I almost want to put two r's in the middle).

Alright, my rant is over. I'm going back to my silence and trying to write. Goal for the week is finish up some of these half-chapters I've got spawned. 15 and 13 are the primary goals. 16 and 17 are secondary (they are the ones far-less developed, but I have the outline for the chapters jotted down). I'm still doling out major FF7 damage, bitches. Watch out for my spikey-haired, big-sword-wielding ass. I'm on a roll.

This is Why I Suck at Fantasy Football, Part II

Two quarterbacks: Carson Palmer, Drew Brees.

Carson Palmer, going against Oakland. Shitty team.
Drew Brees, going against Dallas, at Dallas. Good team.

Start good quarterback against shitty team, right? Sounds good.

Final stats:

Carson Palmer: 297 yds passing, 2 td, 3 interceptions, 11 pts.
Drew Brees: 384 yds passing, 5 td, 0 interceptions, 37 pts.

And just when I had finished vomiting after watching Indiana over the weekend.

Lucky 7s

December 6, 2006

Nearly finished chapter 15 this evening. However, as I noticed where my word count stood, I quit. Then I slowly expanded on chapter twenty (all fourteen lines of it) until I hit this particular jewel:

Word Count: 77,777
Page Count: 258

If this were Final Fantasy VII, I'd be laying major damage on your sorry ass. Granted, I'd be reduced to 1 hit point afterward, but it'd be worth it to lay 7777 worth of smack on you.

My geekiness knows no bounds.

Maybe It's Not So Bad After All...

So, I'm sitting here constantly clicking refresh on my webbrowser of choice whilst dialed into ESPN.com's Indiana University page. It's the best I can do. They're playing Western Illinois tonight in Bloomington. As you can guess, this isn't exactly a game with national ramifications. Further, much to my dismay, I can't find any streaming or internet radio broadcasts of the game. I found one for the Notre Dame/USC game, which helped soften the blow of THAT debacle, but apparently you can't get free Indiana games off the internet. Never mind that I already pay $30 a month (or so, I think) for this fine, high-speed connection, I have to pay more on top of that to listen to my favorite team. I don't know the price, and I didn't much care to look into it. I know I could order it on my television, but again, I would have to pay more on top of what I already pay to get these fine digital images displayed upon the nearest photo tube. That's $15 a game. Highway robbery, says I. A good porn movie only costs something like $9.99 (as I'm led to believe...I've never looked into ordering one because, again, you have to pay, and the whole point of this opening paragraph is let you know what a cheap bastard I am), but IU basketball is $5 more. Now I need to figure out, after watching, which one makes me feel more cheap and dirty.

I shouldn't say that. Life under Kelvin Sampson has been good, for the most part. From what I have seen, at least (which isn't much, in case the first paragraph hasn't yet sunk in). Right now, Indiana stands at 5-2 (they just drubbed Western Illinois 92-40, holding the Leathernecks to just 19 points in the second half). While none of those wins has been over an impressive opponent, both of those losses have been at the hands of impressive competition. Sure, they shit the bed and surrendered a 12-point lead to Butler, but Butler is undefeated and went on AFTER beating IU to beat two more ranked opponents (though Tennessee has dropped out of the top-25 and Gonzaga is dangerously close to dropping out). The other loss was by three to Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Yes, they got down early, but Duke really had to scratch and claw their way past Indiana in the second half. Okay, so Duke never trailed in the game, but Indiana did tie it late. After that, Duke cruised, thanks in large part to Xavier Keeling having kicked Lance Stemler in the head on Sunday during practice and because most of the starters were dogs instead of stars.

By the way, Kansas, which is 7-2, is ranked number 13 in the nation. Their two losses: Oral Roberts and Depaul. Indiana's two losses? To No. 14 Butler and No. 7 Duke. Indiana's ranking? Not even receiving votes. Bunch of savages out there.

Anyway, a perusal of the box score shows that fouls and turnovers continue to be a problem. Shooting was good (32-64, 50%) and defense was good (13-46, 28.1% for WIU), but then again, this was against subpar competition. No offense, Western, but you're just a tune-up for Kentucky. One big, glaring problem: free throws. They got to the line 25 times (that's good) and hit only 15 of them (that's bad). Unfortunately, they also cranked more three-pointers (31) than they attempted free-throws. I was hoping that Kelvin Sampson's fundamentals would have made the guards not so trigger-happy beyond the arc (notice that 31-64 is just under 50%).

What does this mean for the upcoming Kentucky game? I don't know. Kentucky is down, again. I couldn't bring myself to watching them play against UNC last weekend, but I know they lost and never threatened the Tarheels. Could this be the year Indiana puts together a WINNING streak against the Wildcats? Doubtful. From what I've seen, IU is still searching for some sort of identity. Apparently that identity is throwing the ball at the basket from anywhere on the floor. If the shots are falling, alright. If not, it's going to be a long, long day against Kentucky. I can assure you, Tubby's gonna have the Wildcats keyed up and ready to play better defense (I'm sure Coach Smith would LOVE to see Indiana be forced to shoot 31 3s, as that means either his defense has pushed IU out beyond the arc or they're jacking up 3s in order to catch up after trailing badly). We'll see, but I'm not too hopeful. Kentucky may be down, but this game is south of the Ohio river which, though it's a "neutral court", means it's an away game. If they can manage to beat Kentucky in Kentucky, then perhaps they'll garner some national respect.

Incidentally, Notre Dame has 11 points in the AP poll. Somewhere, a sports talk show host is already bitching about how they're overrated.

The best thing about the impending Kentucky game, of course, is that Ashley Judd will be there (I hope). Nothing softens the blows of an all-out ass-whooping like seeing Ms. Judd bouncing her perky little self up and down whilst rooting on Big Blue.

If only Kelvin Sampson could have brought Carrie Underwood along with him from Oklahoma...

All is Write with the World

December 4, 2006

Yes, it's a pun. And a bit of a bad one. But it means good things. I swear.

As I sit and write my first entry for December, I'm also busily hacking away at the fifteenth chapter of The Boar War. I'm somewhere in the eastern ocean, fighting a kraken, and I just spent an hour and a half learning about hemocyanin.

But, I'm writing.

And that's a good thing, right? Write. (God, the puns just never stop, do they?)

I promised myself I wouldn't get into this NaNoWriMo thing again. Then, as November pushed forward, I was bitten with the writing bug and decided that I would enter the contest. I was late, but hell, I had a good story and if I used the 50,000 word mark to help extend my story now, how was I not a winner?

Accordingly, I jumped in with both feet and I cranked on some chapters. I started and finished chapters 18 and 19. I also went back and looked at chapter 15 and decided that what I had written was shit and that I could come up with something better. Well, something better involved giant sea monsters and ships and hemocyanin. While I was at it, I started chapter 20. However, the big thing that has happened is that I've been writing human-based chapters, which is something I have had issues with in the past (on this project, at least). I took what I had written for 15 and saved it, moving it from the beginning of the chapter (which would have been a very short chapter, or a very boring chapter, or a very short, very boring chapter) and moved it to the middle, as a bridge between fight and character development. Right now I'm at 13 pages on that chapter and climbing. I've gone back and touched on 10 and 7, as well (my other two big human-only chapters) and done some expanding on my chapters with Redear (I'm still not sure about his name) and Jane and their travels north.

So, I got almost 14,000 words written in about three or four days. Thanksgiving hit, and the serotonin (10-hydroxytryptophan)-induced comas also followed. I took those four days and didn't do shit, and I suffered. Had I pushed on, I would have easily hit the 50,000 word mark. Oh well. I crapped the bed, but one thing is I didn't sacrifice quality just for the chace to win some stupid internet-based contest. So there. I did win, in a way.

More importantly, I think I've begun formulating a nice ending for the book. I've known HOW it was going to end, all along. I just couldn't come up with a formula for the denouement chapter. I'll only have one. Not to try and insult il Maestro, J.R.R. Tolkien, but I don't want a long, drawn-out conclusion (or several of them, for that matter). I'm just afraid that, with all the things I want to put into the conclusion, it's going to HAVE to be a bit drawn out. Perhaps I will have to make it two. Damn, I don't have a conclusion after all.

So, the numbers:

Word count: 76,681
Page count: 255

Remember, I'm shooting for 130 - 150,000 words, 450-500 manuscript pages. Guess who officially just passed halfway in BOTH categories.

All is, in deed, right with the world.

Ha ha! Writer's Slab!

November 20, 2006

Those who complain about my lack of progress will see whole chapters spraypainted on the hoods of their cars. Or written out in a disgusting mixture of hominy grits and sausage gravy.



You've been warned.

Anyone Wanna Be My Satchel?

November 15, 2006

Substitute "EJ Corey" for "Michelangelo" and "chemicals" for "paints".



Click on the comic to make it bigger, in case you can't read the sheer brilliance of Darby Conley.

Yes, All is Right with the World

Indiana 55, Butler 60.

Yep, Indiana returned to form last night, pissing away a 12-point lead and allowing a team with far less athleticism, size and talent to beat them. Yes, the officiating was piss-poor. Yes, three of Indiana's top players sat for a few minutes with 4 fouls each. Yes, you were getting jobbed right and left out there. But the game wasn't lost there, it was lost on the successive times they came down on fast breaks and either pissed or threw the ball away or forced a lousy shot rather than resetting the offense, burning some clock and maintaining the lead. I realize that a fast break bucket might have broken Butler's back at that point in time, but it's tough to lead a fast break when it's 2 on 3 or 2 on 4.

Bah. All is right with the world.

All is Right with the World

November 14, 2006

Indiana 91, Lafayette 66.

Despite the late first-half meltdown that carried over into the first fifteen minutes of the second half last night, I managed to keep down my bowl of Crispix that served as my late night snack and kept my voice down so as not to wake the kids.

The truly amazing and gut-wrenching thing is, it was like 63-60 with five and a half minutes to go. I was ready to get my official puking bucket. Thank God for Errek Suhr and Rod Wilmont for starting the momentum.

That's right, folks: College Basketball season has officially begun.

This is Why I Suck at Fantasy Football

November 13, 2006

I have two quarterbacks, Carson Palmer of Cincinnati and David Garrard of Jacksonville (picked up when Leftwich was benched).

This past weekend, Palmer played San Diego (good defense) and Garrard played Houston (terrible defense). It's a no-brainer, right? Start Garrard against the shitty Texan defense. Couple that with how spotty Cincinnati's offense has been this year, and I'm thinking I'm one savvy fantasy manager.

Final stats:

Garrard: 214 yds passing, 44 rushing, 4 interceptions
Palmer: 440 yds passing, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions.

I'm going to go over here and puke now.

Editor's Note:

I somehow managed to win the game this week, despite my clusterfuck with the quarterback position. I'm no longer the cellar-living bitch of the league. My grand victory elevated me into a tie with the guy I upended, and the tie goes to me. Yeah, baby. I'm fifth out of six now.

It's Nice to See Some Things Don't Change

November 11, 2006

To the Fat Coach who wasn't wearing a red shirt this time: You're still an asshat.

If you ripped into my kids like that while PLAYING A GAME, I'd kick you in the nuts. Hard. In fact, while you were on the ground, I'd back over your nuts with my car.

That is, assuming you have nuts. I imagine you must have a pretty tiny penis in order to derive so much joy from belitting five- and six-year olds while they play soccer. You are a douchebag. I'm glad we beat you. I only wish we would have beaten you by a bigger score.

Again, Coach Doug proves that he's the better man by taking the high road and not putting our best offensive players on the line and crushing the other team. In fact, he probably did the right thing. God only knows how many lashes each of the children must have had to endure for the four goals we scored against them.

Sadly, we dropped our second game against a team that, I felt, we should have beaten. I think we were a little tired from the earlier game, and some kids had a big-ish lunch between the games, thus causing some heavy legs during the course of the game. But, oh well. It was a beautiful day and, aside from losing, the kids had fun.

And that's what it's about. Take a memo, Coach Douchebag. It's not about making up for what puberty didn't give you.

The Ordeal, Part III

It's a beautiful thing, waking up and finding two attractive ladies at your beck and call. Well, three if you count my wife. Except she's less at my beck and call, even in my semi-delirious state. In fact, I'd have to be fully delirious to try that beck and call horseshit with her.

But, I digress. Two women, huddled around the entrance to my cubby hole, were waiting to take me down to the ambulance and return me to my temporary prison at the hospital. Very gently (though there was NO pain at all at this point in time) they loaded me onto a fresh gurney and then took me downstairs to the ambulance. My memories of this transfer are sketchy, at best, since I was still coming out of the anaesthesia I had endured while they moved the stone out of my bile duct. I don't remember getting into the ambulance, I was just suddenly there, cozy, with a blanket tucked around my precious little body to protect it from the cold and the rain. I do remember feeling great, that the procedure had been done and my guts were no long afire with agony. I also remember getting down from my bed and hopping up onto the gurney, all spry and such. It impressed the ladies who were operating the ambulance. Again, I don't remember their names, but I do remember they both had dark hair and both were very, very nice. The lady in the back tried to chat me up, but I am pretty certain that my normal witty banter was more along the lines of Mushmouth's from Fat Albert. My wife hopped in shotgun and chatted up the driver, and God bless the driver, she took the quickest, most non-bumpy route back to the hospital. And the gurney didn't collapse. Bless you both, ladies. I also remember the lady in the back being concerned about me falling asleep and trying to keep the others quiet a bit, and me trying to tell her that it was alright, I was awake.

This was a very interesting feeling. It was like when you're wearing a swimming mask, and you're underwater on your back and staring up through the surface of the water in the pool. You get a very, very clear image of the world outside the pool, but the image is moving back and forth as the light is bent by the water as the surface waves move back and forth. Outside of the image directly in front of you, everything just sort of trails off into a blue-gray haze of confusing movement and indecipherable shadows. And then imagine a face appears above you, and you want to talk to them, but you speak and the words come out of your mouth but are swallowed by the water surrounding your body and carried off somewhere else, never to be heard again. That's kind of what it is like waking up from whatever glorious drugs they had sent through my body. That's what the ride back from Duke was like.

We arrived at the hospital relatively quickly, and they ladies took me upstairs to my chamber...er...room. On the way, we passed my nurse, Lowell, a very pleasant fellow whom I liked very much. He was friendly and nice, as is to be expected in the nursing profession, but he was also (mostly) attentive. I said hello to Lowell, excitedly, apparently, which took him aback, apparently. And then we got in the elevators.

This is where the wheels came off.

Remember, I hadn't had anything to eat since Sunday around 8:00 pm. This was Tuesday, around 4:30 or 5:00. Do the math (it's about 45 hours without food, for your arithmetic-challenged folk), and you can see that it's been a while since real sustenance has passed my lips. Top this with having just been put under anaesthesia and pain medicine, and having something shoved down my throat to retrieve a stone which was pressing on my pancreas. I think you can see where this is going. The icing on this nausea cake, evidently, was the motion of the elevator whooshing me up to the fourth floor. Like all good icing, my face lost its color and turned a very, very pale white. Whiter than normal for me. I don't even think lily white could describe it. It was probably more like Oh-my-God-I'm-going-to-bring-it-up-NOW! white.

The two ladies brought me to my room and helped me into my bed. I'm fairly certain it's not in their job description, but they helped cover me up, gave me pillows, propped me up, all that good stuff. And then the one who had been in the back with me asked if I needed anything.

"Trashcan," I responded, diving for the can at my side. She also reached for it, trying to help me as best she could.

Now, knowing that most people can't really take the sight of someone else puking, I buried my face and head as deeply into the trashcan as I could to try and save any others close by from enduring the gut-wrenching process that is involved when I vomit. I don't just vomit, usually. I projectile vomit, Mr. Creosote-style. I also have such violent stomach contractions that it's like I'm disgorging my entire soul, not just the remains of my Italian sandwich, which arrived at the table twenty minutes after everyone else's food.

Only problem is, my stomach was empty. 45-hours worth of empty. Fortunately, I was having gall bladder issues, which meant I did have a little something something to bring up: bile. Foul-smelling, lurid green, acrid, been-laying-in-my-gut for two days bile.

As luck would have it, this passed quickly. I do remember a look of pity from the lady who had helped me. Apparently, she was one of those strong-stomach type folks, and she looked terribly empathetic as she asked if there was anything else she could do for me. Having cast out the demons, I felt remarkably better. My wife was quick on the trigger, though, and called for the nurse. However, this was around 5:00, when most decent, non-ERCP-having-people eat, and Lowell was probably grabbing a quick bite before he had to come back and check my IVs and such.

The ambulance ladies, having done all they could, wished me well. My wife stuck around until Lowell finally came in. The pain meds and knock-out juice were taking their toll again on me, and I was in and out of sleep. I urged my wife to go and meet her mom and the kids for dinner, that I would be fine now that I was in Lowell's able care. She left, and I slipped in and out of sleep.

I awoke when a gentleman came in and asked if I was going to eat my dinner. I was stunned to hear these words. I was more surprised to find a tray had been delivered while I dozed. I vaguely remember interacting with someone originally. It might have been that same man. I don't know. I didn't care. There was food before me. I chased him off and sat up, woozily, to find a lovely liquid dinner before me. Chicken broth, which I had allowed to get luke warm, green jello, a melted popsicle, some grape juice and some ice tea. Roast quail basted in blackberry sauce wouldn't have tasted as good. It would have been more filling, but my parched throat and shrunken stomach quickly welcomed everything I could get. The napkin is lucky to have escaped. As soon as I had finished, I wanted more. I even pondered drinking the tea for a moment before deciding that I wasn't quite that desperate. A little while later, the man came back and took my tray. I wanted to ask him for more, but instead I just turned on Dirty Jobs. I had seen it before, but I didn't care. I was awake now, and most of my wits had been found in the bottom of that bowl of broth.

Jamie returned that night. Her soft skin, blonde hair and warm touch while listening to my breathing returned as well. She would come and check on me almost hourly. Every time she would leave, she would ask, "Can I get you anything?"

"Yes, anything. Just come back topless."

Okay, I didn't say this, but I thought it. I had been cooped up too long. Jamie did explain that I had to wait at least 24 hours before I could have the gall bladder surgery. My doctor/intern arrived at some point during the night, most likely in the wee hours of the morning, to tell me that it would not be until Friday before I could get the accursed organ removed. She then said they would try to move me up, if at all possible. I knew the schedule might be tight, but I held out hope. My wife, however, took a slightly more aggresive route as she hoped to have me home by Friday (which was our anniversary, for trivia's sake).

Tuesday night, while seeking to stimulate my mind (not that Mike Rowe and a series of filthy events didn't do the job), I picked up a copy of the Bill Bryson book my wife had bought for me. It was the perfect sort of travel essay, where he drove around the country looking for the perfect small town in America. At first, the story was a little slow and a little dry, but I kept on, and quickly I was consuming whole chapters without knowing any time had passed. He's been reviewed and raved about in countless media outlets. This will not be one of them. Suffice it to say, I really enjoyed his writing. It was engaging and clever and funny all at once, and the pictures he painted with the words gave my imagination much to work with and little to doubt. Katie, in case you ever read this, you're right, I do have a similar writing style. I guess I should be honored to be compared to him. Thank you.

This was how most of Wednesday passed. I woke up, had some more broth and jello and juice, washed up, read Bill Bryson, had some more broth and jello and juice, read more Bill Bryson, had some more broth and jello and juice and read more Bill Bryson. At times, I would set him down, try to watch some televsion, or I would flip through my latest All About Beer magazine, or I would stare blankly out the window. Wednesday wore on, boring, with Lowell showing up every so often to make sure I was alright, or to fight my IV machine, or to bring me more antibiotics.

Finally, Wednesday evening arrived, and with it came Jamie once more. And with Jamie came even greater news: My surgery had been moved up to Thursday. As it stood, it would be late Thursday, but it was Thursday nonetheless. Ka-loo, ka-lay. Now, if only the news had been delivered topless...

The Ordeal, Part II

October 29, 2006

In case you've never had a gall bladder attack, you might not know some of the more fun symptoms. I've told you of the burning and the pain. Well, one thing is, there's all that bile spewing forth out of your gall bladder, and it has to go somewhere. The most convenient place for it to go, since it's a liquid and all, is out through the kidneys and the urinary tract. Now, I'm a person who doesn't mind tossing a good whiz. However, I always loathed and feared the after-effects of a gall stone attack, mostly because of the urine.

For one, it turns a dark orange color. Almost an amber color. It's seriously disgusting. The nice thing is, it doesn't burn, which is amazing considering how much acidic crap is in bile (chololithoic acid is one of them). I mean, there's a little burn, but nothing like pissing shortly after rubbing one out. Now THERE is a burn.

The worst part, though, is the odor. It's this intense urine stink with an added bilious stench. Sorry, I can't think of anything else to describe it. It's the same stink as that shit that comes up the back of your throat when you throw up in your mouth. And it hangs in the air like the haze from a cheap cigar. Oh, it feels better to be out than in. But the stink and the disgusting color are enough to make you gag (if the stone pressing on your pancreas isn't enough, as is).

So, for this reason, they like to take a urine sample and test it for the liver and gall bladder enzymes. Naturally, almost comedically, sweet Jennifer came bearing the urine sample cup moments after I had emptied my bladder and flushed away the evidence of my urinary biliary drainage. Not only did she bring a little cup for a sample, she also brought a jug for me to fill up at my convenience. Uh...

Now, here's the tricksy part. Being that I had a stone lodged in ye olde common bile duct(e), they were trying to figure out what to do with me. Nice guys that they are, they just left it sit there. Something about shredding my insides and the deleterious affects this would have on my health. They also planned on having to go in and fish it out. This is a surgical procedure, and you know the drill for procedures: no food or drink prior to.

So, the remainder of Monday was spent in a foodless, waterless wasteland of morphine, sweat and bile. I stayed hydrated thanks to my IV, but being as I slept--hard--whenever I got my morphine refreshed, I developed a lovely pellicle on the inside of my mouth. It would literally take me five minutes of working my tongue against the roof of my mouth for my saliva glands to moisten the inside of my oral cavity. Worse was the sheets of dried mucous that hung on the inside of my mouth, which I would have to work out of place with my tongue and spit as I could. However, dried mucous is a wonderful food substitute, in case you ever need such a thing.

For most of the rest of Monday, I was in and out of sleep. That night, however, I was visited by an angel.

I've heard something about how the guys in the Vietnam war would go in for treatment for wounds and such and they would fall in love with the person giving them their care. I'm sure there's a name for this syndrome, but I don't know it and can't be bothered to look it up. Anyway, place me in that category, all you amateur psychologists out there who read this (all five people).

Her name was Jamie, and she bore an UNCANNY resemblance to this girl I knew in high school named Jamie. She had beautiful brown/green eyes, soft skin, a pleasant voice, blonde hair and a frame that was ample in all the right places. Most of all, she was tender and kind when prodding my midsection to see how "tender" and "sensitive" I was to the touch. She would come and check on me to see if I needed anything. She would ask if I was too cold or too hot or if I needed any pain medication. Sure, this might have been her job, but dammit, I was convinced that she did it because she wanted me.

I mean, what woman WOULDN'T want a man 5 to 6 years older, unshaven, unkempt, overweight, sweaty, with IV lines running out of his arms, with foul mucous-covered breath and the stench of bile clinging to him no matter HOW many times I cleaned myself after peeing? It was inconceivable that she WOULDN'T want me, right? Perhaps it was just the morphine talking. But she was very nice.

I rested through most of the night, and toward morning I was visited by my second angel. At least, I think so. An intern came in to tell me what awaited me later that Tuesday. She was gorgeous, or so my morphine-sodden brain told me. She also bore the good news that all angels bring.

I found out that I was to undergo an ERCP, which is an acronym for something I don't remember altogether. Emergency Removal of Choleolithic Pain is something I came up with. Essentially, it's a procedure where they send a scope down my throat (so the E stands for endoscopic), through my stomach, and into my intestines to find the end of my common bile duct from there they would extract my nefarious little stony friend. Unfortunately, the stone was allowed to drift off into the void and pass out through my pooper. I wouldn't get to keep it. Damn. However, the great part was that they would, of course, retrieve their scope. Which means that it would have to come back out through my mouth. After it had been in my intestines. Lovely.

The other fantastic news was that I wouldn't be staying in the hospital for this one. I was headed over to Duke for this fantastic procedure. I spent the morning getting clean and prepped for my trip and procedure. But still not eating. If you're keeping track, we're nearing something along the lines of 42 hours between meals, or eating anything (I had a brownie around 8:00 pm on Sunday). Around 1:30, two ambulance drivers came to pick me up. They were nice young ladies, but the stretcher (I'm guessing it's a general-issue) wasn't quite long enough for me. And, let's face it. I'm a big man. So, they dragged me downstairs, and I felt bad because my shoes were hanging over the end of the gurnee and popping the cuter redhead in the bottom (so I felt bad, but not guilty...heh heh heh). Loading me into the ambulance was just as fun. Finally, we were away, and the ride was...less than pleasant. Especially since my morphine was wearing off and ever bump and bruise could be felt in my midsection, where that happy little stone remained lodged tightly. It was even better when the stretcher collapsed under my impressive weight (my upper torso, at that...not even the bulk of me). It shot back to 180 degrees, chipping my left incisor in doing so. Not pleasant nor fun.

The ride over was long and wending, but we arrived at Duke and I must say, their "Student Health Center" put anything I saw at St. Joe or Notre Dame to shame. Hell, put both of them together and they didn't hold a candle to this joint. I guess that's what happens when you've got a research hospital tied in with your health care system. Huh. Who knew?

After long waits to get into the rooms where the procedure would be done, I made it into my little bay where I talked withe nurses who would be helping out with the ERCP. And then the good news came down: no pants or underwear.

This is when I learned that people without reservations and inhibitions should probably have them. I'm a fairly free person when it comes to being nude and having others see me. I don't care. Especially in the medical profession. I figure ever doctor has seen a dead dick. My living one won't shock them. Oh no! A penis! Gah! However, this news horrified my wife. She ran around making sure my gown was tucked in tightly around my thighs and then pulling blankets up so that the passing nurses (who I am also sure have seen penises before, as well as asses) wouldn't see. Oh well. The big problem was the Carol Channing clone in the bay next to me who went running around in all her shrunken, wrinkly glory back and forth in front of my bay. Like I said. People without inhibitions should probably get some. Soon.

After a lengthy wait (filled with choleolithic pain), I made it into the procedure room. I don't think it's properly called an operating room, but that's where I went. Low lighting, plenty of torturous machines filling the space. All very cool. I went into the procedure room. My wife, curse her, went to the waiting room with a stop at the cafeteria for something to eat along the way.

In the room were two nurses and two doctors. The doctors left to get cleaned and the nurses started prepping me. The odd thing about this was that I would be on my stomach for the procedure. I'm guessing it's so that I wouldn't gag and throw up and choke on it and die, a la Poe (or pretty much any gutter drunk). So, I had to roll over onto my stomach when I got to the operating table. Of course, my wife wasn't here to cover me up. As I was rolling, I had an oxygen tube or something wrap around my legs or something, so I adjusted and handed it to my nurse.

"I'm pretty sure you don't want this lassoing me down, or at least I think you don't," I said.

One of them laughed (I think her name was Heidi) and said "You don't want to be tied down by two blondes?"

"Well, my wife wouldn't approve. However, I'll be back tomorrow for the same procedure, ladies," I responded.

And that was the last thing I remember.

Sometime during the procedure, my IV moved from my right arm to my right hand, just outside my index finger knuckle. Also, there was a sore spot on the back of my throat where the tube to aid in the swallowing of the probe had brushed my tender skin. However, it was a successful procedure, and the 8 mm stone stuck in my bile duct fell into my lower GI tract and, presumably, was passed a couple of days later.

I woke up in my bay again, with pants and shoes and socks on. Apparently, Heidi had accompanied me out there. Also, apparently, some small slice of lucidity also accompanied me. While my wife was helping me into my underwear, my body, having just been "under" for an hour and a half, was slightly...unresponsive. My wife apparently looked up and said "help me get your underwear on." to which I replied "Underwear is highly overrated."

Again. Those who have no inhibitions, should find some...

I wish every night could be this cool

The other night I had this really cool dream. I loved it, because it involved me being rich and famous and playing basketball and lots of people with British accents, including my bride-to-be.

Aw, shucks, let's get to it!

The dream starts and I'm being picked up by a huge car in England, and I've got bags and packs and everything with a bunch of my clothes and such. And I'm about sixteen years old or so. Some royal guards escort me to the car (they might have just been noble guards, I'm not quite sure, but the whole dream seemed to have a royal sense to it, so I'll stick with them) and when I get inside I meet the chief herald for the queen. It turns out that they wanted to "reestablish" the royal bloodlines and that they had gone through and delineated my geneaology and saw that I was from the line of Prince Llewellyn, the last true prince of Wales (which is true). There were other factors, such as how my ancestry shook out, my age (in the dream) and my intelligence factor...I guess they wanted a smart prince or king or whatever.

Anyway, they take me to the palace where I meet with the queen and she informs me that I will immediately begin "training" so that I can learn the proper ways of the court and all and that she would enroll me in the same private school as her daughter, the princess (whose name never came up). At this point, I met the princess, and she was about a year younger than I am (in the dream) and she's wearing this bright, shimmering silver and white gown with a big stole and she has shortish brown hair and bright green eyes and a few freckles and whatnot. She's cute, but not gorgeous or anything. And she, of course, doesn't like me. I realize that I'm going to have to marry her, so I'm not angry at her or I don't hate her, but I don't resent her.

So then I go off to my rooms and such and I await the guards and the herald to teach me more stuff. And I go through a few lessons and then it's time to go to school. I ride in the same carriage/car as my bride-to-be, and she's sour but not outright mean. We get to the school, and people are pointing and whispering stuff, mostly because I am new and because I'm from America and all. I get to the school, and I have to go to the phys ed class (which I don't even know if they have in Britain) and the lesson for the day was basketball. I'm, of course, the tallest kid in the class and also the best basketball player in the class. Predictably, I dominate the session and score and defend and rebound and block shots and all that wonderful stuff.

After phys ed is lunch, so we're in the common cafeteria and I hear the same whispers and stuff about me, and I go to sit with my intended, since she's the ONLY person I know, and this doesn't please her, but she accepts it. I hear one of her friends say something, but then someone else says, "But you should see him play basketball. He's awesome." I start blushing and her friend says, "Is that true?" and I respond "Well, I was on my team in school back in Indiana, and Indiana is pretty competitive for playing basketball." "He's being modest," my bride-to-be says, and I she smiles at me. Then her friend asks "Well, are you going to be on our team here? We could really use you. And if you're on the team, you can compete on the national under-18 team and maybe we can beat the Germans." "You can't beat the Germans?" I ask. "Our national team is terrible. We always lose to France or Germany and never do anything." So, I stand up and say "I promise you that we will now beat the Germans and the French and I will bring back a championship for you." The entire cafeteria erupts into a frenzied burst or cheering.

So then, some time passes, and my mom shows up to meet the queen and all and we can arrange for the Princess and I to get married. We go to this nice seafood restaurant, but I have to leave because I have to play a game for the school team, and I get to the gym, and they have a drop ceiling in place so I can't shoot the ball from outside, everything has to be up close. I remember turning to one of my team mates and saying "We have to play with a drop ceiling in place? What the hell?" And I distinctly remember winning, and I scored 16 points myself, but the other team only scored 5 altogether, so we won. I don't know the final score but I went back to the restaurant and my mom and the queen were getting along great and I remember the queen had given her this big purple stole. She was very proud.

And then I had another game, and I went to it and the gym was real narrow but it had high ceilings and the fans were right on top of us and everything. I remember playing and dunking a couple of times and I think I remember the princess being there, but I don't remember much else. I'm sure we won, but I began waking up and all so the dream kind of trailed off.

And that was my super awesome exciting dream that I wish I could redream every night for the rest of my life. I do remember at lunch my bride-to-be turning and asking me about sex and that I said I shouldn't discuss such things with a lady, which made her mad. I forgot that part, but I just remembered it. And she was wearing a purple shirt when she asked. And that's pretty much it.

The Ordeal, Part I

October 24, 2006

This is a tale so grand that it needs to be told in four parts. Mostly because it was four days long, and each day requires its own story. And if you don't like it, eff off.

Where I have been for the past week and a half, or so.

It all started two Sundays ago, very early in the morning. I woke up with that familiar pain in the gut around 2:30 in the morning. Great, I thought, here we go again. But, it passed in a couple of hours and I then thought, Whew. Done! However, five hours later, it hit again. And then again. And again. And again. And then my wife came home. And I went out to tutor. And it hit again. And then later that night during the bliss that was the final Venture Brothers of the season, it hit again. But, each of these were small and, while they hurt, they were gone in about an hour to an hour and a half.

Then 2:30 in the morning rolled around again. And it hit again. And this one didn't go away. I went downstairs to my typical ride-this-gall-stone-pain-out port (aka my easy chair) to watch the repeats of Adult Swim. God, the Venture Brothers kick ass. "Dude, the guy from Labyrinth just turned into a bird and flew away!" Trust me. Go watch it.

Anyway, I drifted in and out of sleep for a while until, and I'm not sure I didn't hear a heart-wrenching Ka-Thunk, the stone stopped moving. Oh, the pain. Oh, the nausea. It was bad enough, it brought tears to my eye.

There. I admit it. I cried. But they were involuntary reactions. I would have done it in my garage with my table saw spinning if I had either a garage or a table saw.

I should have seen it coming, too. Eric Gordon said he was going to sign with IU. Indiana beat Iowa. I found out Final Fantasy XII is coming to PS2 and not just PS3, like I assumed. And, the best part of all, I took my kids out for breakfast on Saturday and then we went to the museum in Raleigh and had a good time. A great time. So, I should have seen this shit coming. But, I didn't. And, I paid for my good time out with my little family in little, calcareous form.

After four hours of gut-wrenching pain, I finally had had enough. I staggered up the stairs like a hero who had just taken a shot in the gut and was clinging to the place where the bullet entered, streaming blood behind him. I collapsed onto my side of the bed and my wife said, "Oh God, we need to go, don't we?" I think I offered a throaty, raspy affirmative. Moments later, calls had been made, bags had been packed, and we were sailing down Duke Street toward the hospital and the warm glow of the ER where I held Madeleine's hand as I staggered toward the entrance like some brain-gorged zombie moving toward my destiny. I made it to be checked in, and immediately got sent toward a bed. My nurse, a lovely young woman whose name I no longer remember, had had her gall bladder removed, and on the way back, she was telling me how wonderful her life was after having it taken out. Though she couldn't offer me strong pain medication, she was very nice in telling me that soon my issues would be over. I, of course, wanted to ask her about the after effects of the surgery. However, for some reason, on about an hour's worth of sleep, I couldn't ask this pretty young nurse about horrible diarrhea 30 minutes after she ate. So, I left it alone.

God bless the fine ladies in the ER, too, for not stabbing me with needles seven or eight times just to get an IV line in. The last time I went, the poor guy had to stab me three times until finally he struck Texas tea. Fortunately, Christa (or Christina) found it on my right arm with one shot, Jed Clampett style. I got a shot of a mild pain-killer (torrinol, I think?) and then I was off to imaging for my liver and gall system.

This was where the fun began. Again, I don't remember the doctor's name, but she looked like my friend Roy's ex-wife Yvette. For a second, in my hour's worth of sleep state of mind as well as the pain and mild painkillers pumping through me, I thought it was Yvette, and then she wouldn't treat me because, you know, I was his friend and all. But, it wasn't. Her assistant's name was Auburn, which I thought was kind of cool. Except she had pale blonde hair. However, I did vow to steal her name for a character in a book. However, they were fun. Mostly, because they didn't know I'm Mr. Chemistry Useless Facts.

So, the main doctor starts to tell me that they're going to inject me with a radioactive slurry that will pretty much immediately go to my liver and they can take an image of my liver and see if anything is moving or whatnot, since if my bile ducts are unblocked, my liver should make bile and spit it into my gall bladder and my bile ducts. If they're blocked, there shouldn't be too much going on. This, of course, excites me. Delirious with pain and giddy with gamma-ray emitting medical testing, I start asking questions.

"What isotope are we working with here?"

"Technetium."

Oh, Doctor. You had me right there.

"Technetium!" I respond, with the wide-eyed giddiness of a child who has just made the first discovery that, yes, indeed, Santa Claus had been there the night before.

"Yes...uh...is there a problem?"

"Oh no. Technetium. Element 43. The first man-made element! Of course, it's found naturally in uranium ores, but still, the very first synthetic element!"

At this point, the two doctors exchange a look. I wink at Auburn.

"I have a master's degree in chemistry." At that point, we all shared a laugh.

"What's the half life?"

"About six hours," the doctor responded.

"Oh, so I'll be a gamma-emitter for 36 hours!"

I'm quite certain they haven't had anyone like me in there before.

(Incidentally, I went and looked up which isotope I had in me, and it was 99mTc, the m being a metastable isotope that's fairly common for this kind of test. Still, being the chem dork that I am, it still thrilled me to be "working with" technetium, and I am SO checking it off my list of elements now).

The doctor then went on and described the remainder of the test and what it would entail. I listened and nodded, pretty much figuring it out on my own, but after I had just started singing the praises of technetium to her and Auburn, I figured it was time for some normalcy. Then they prepared the syringe, which was encased in a big-ass steel/lead jacket. Oh, it was cool. When they shot it into my IV, I felt a little tingle and some cold, but nothing much else. No super powers came over me (damn) and no Hulkian rage (or no moreso than normal) and no X-ray vision (again, damn). However, I got that wide-eyed giddy look again.

"So...now I'm hot, huh?" Both of them laughed at this one and said, "Yes." This made me happy, both from an eg0-stroking as well as a chemistry joking sort of way.

I was then pushed under this big detector thing and I waited while the test ran its course. I dozed some. I recited the periodic table in my head. I thought about what type of character my Auburn would be. And then I thought about Auburn, Indiana and hot Sarah DePew, who was from Auburn (insert drooling Homer picture here), and then I thought about what a whiney bitch Tommy Tuberville is. And then the test was done. And, basically, my liver said, "Uh-uh...I'm not moving anything else down the line. It hurts us, with its nasty bright eyes and its rope from the Elves." Yes, my liver is Gollum.

So, the bad news. I was stuck for a while, mostly because I had a stone stuck in my common bile duct. Apparenly, it was pushing on my pancreas, which is why I felt like vomiting constantly. Who knew that my sweetbread was that sensitive to a stone the size of a cobble pressing on it from the inside? Not me. However...the more you know...

The good news, though, was that I could now get REAL pain medicine. Oh yeah. I was riding the morphine train. I got on that alkaloid chugga chugga choo-choo before leaving the ER. Unfortunately...I was also a training monkey in the ER. AND, they wanted more blood samples from me (apparently my first offering was too hemolytic...bah!). So, I had to endure two more pokes...which...compared with later in the week, was nothing. So, I got to teach the students all sorts of good things about gall bladder pain and issues as well as get them all some good practice on how to draw out blood from someone with deeply buried veins. Damn my genetics.

But, it didn't matter. I was riding high on morphine. I climbed into my wheel chair and they pushed me up to my room and I climbed into my bed and then I got that nice warm feeling in the middle of my thighs. Oh, glorious sleep, you could not be far off. And you weren't. Narcotics get their names for a reason. It was the first time in about eleven hours that my midsection didn't feel as if it was on fire; however, a new wave of nausea rolled over me. Fortunately, they had drugs to combat that.

Fortunately, my mother-in-law was in Atlanta and she came to the rescue. While I sometimes complain, I really appreciated her dropping everything and delaying her return to Indiana so that I could get my treatments. It was sometime around now that my mother-in-law came in and took care of my kids. Madeleine was very sweet and Thomas was just glad to go somewhere. My wife stuck around for a while, but I was committed to catching up on sleep and morphine, so she left later in the afternoon for some dinner. And I didn't care, because nurse Jennifer kept coming back every four hours to hit me with some more morphine. I liked seeing her smiling face, because it meant that the pain was going to go away for a while and that some really fucked-up dreams were on their way.

Unfortunately, I don't remember any of my dreams from the hospital. However, I do remember them being fantastical in every aspect of the term. So, I guess I'll have to leave you wanting to more. As it is, this concludes the first day of my time in the hospital as well as the first leg of the Ordeal.

Still a Bunch of Savages out There

So, tonight's episode of Asshat Theatre is the coach of the other team who wore red-and-white. Now, this guy wasn't as big as asshat at the team we played a couple of weeks ago where he was chewing the ass out of the little kids who didn't play hard enough. No, tonight's Asshat Award goes to the red-and-white team's coach who allowed the kid on his team to push three of our players down...three of our players who weren't even on the ball.

Kudos to the kid, I guess, who figured that he could take it out on everyone else that...well, I don't know what the kid was thinking. In true Zinedine Zidane fashion, the kid was clever enough to do it off the ball so that the referee wouldn't see it. However, bigger kudos go to Coach Doug for handling the situation as best as he could. Obviously, the asshat coach of the other team wasn't going to do anything (in fact, all of his players were pushing, but it's a little more understandable when you're pushing to keep position on the ball...that's all well and good, says I, and shows toughness, especially when it's a girl doing it and she's not taking any shit off the boys), and the ref wasn't seeing it because he was watching the ball. So Coach Doug finally called the kid on it and then, with the other team close by, called over our entire team and said, "I will sit you down if you push other kids like that. That's not how we play the game. Right?" And the kids all said "right".

Kudos also to the red-and-white teams fans. They travel well. I'm not sure where they're from, but they were loud and very supportive of their team. Which is really what this is all about.

Kudos also go to Coach Doug for turning on his wife and telling her "Listen, I'll handle the ref and the on field stuff." He effectively told her to shut her piehole, which is something that's needed to be done for a while. In one of our other games (where we ended up tying), she constantly ran her mouth at the ref and basically, I'm thinking, cost us the game because he wasn't calling anything for us the rest of the night. For that old wound, she gets the asshat of the night runner-up award. Should the coach for the red-and-white team fail in his duties (or pose for Penthouse), she gets the crown.

I should say that the coach for the red-and-white team did substitute the offending player pretty much immediately and I don't think he played anymore. However, he still gets the asshat award for not nipping that shit in the bud earlier.

Oh, and major kudos to Brennan, for scoring the game winning goal. Not only did he score his first for the season, but he kept chasing the ball all the way to the goal, a failing in all of our players so far this season. Good job, Brennan!

Bunch of Savages in This Town

October 11, 2006

So, I've bragged about my robot genius when I was coaching the soccer team the other night. Deep down, I was glad we won, right? Because the kids feel good about winning and all, and everyone got to play and that makes everyone happy. But I didn't really want to win. It didn't control my soul and make me plan on luring the other team into a dark cavern with a huge spider living in it to ensure I got what I wanted. I just wanted to have 10 happy kids around me at the end of the night, and winning made sure of that.

However, we played a team tonight that I really, really was glad we beat.

Now, it's one thing for someone like The General, Robert Montgomery Knight or Robot Genius Charlie Weis to get fired up and yell at their players to try and get them fired up. It's another when you're out there chewing the ass of a 5-year-old girl off because she's not doing what you think she should be doing. It doesn't make you a legendary coach nor a Robot Genius. It makes you a prick.

It also isn't cool that, when your defense gets beat, you whine about it to the refs that it was off-sides, especially when there are no off-sides. And then you're in clear violation of the rules by keeping kids in for the whole game as well as keeping one goalie per half (supposed to change them ever quarter). That makes you a whiny bitch.

And then you rip into your team for being out of position, bearing in mind that they're only 5 and 6 years old. That makes you an asshat. What's worse is when you have a goon the size of the Colossus of Rhodes out there, running up and down the field the whole game, pushing the other, smaller players off the ball and then you have the balls to ask if we're playing a team of 5- and 6-year olds, and where's the girls, this is supposed to be a co-rec league. That makes you a cocksucker. Especially since it was my daughter out there playing and you were insulting.

I could go on about your lack of sportsmanship and courtesy at the end of the game where you didn't have your team shake our team's hands. I could go on about you setting picks on our players when we're driving on offense, effectively turning the ball over. I could go on about how you're a fuckstain, but I won't. Fortunately, we won the game 1-0, on a goal so late there was no way you could "goon it up" and play for a tie. You prick.

So, coach in the red shirt and white hat, here's a message to you. Just be glad that Doug was coaching tonight. Cause if my robot genius ass would have been out there, and you had mouthed off to me, your team would have been buried by ten goals. And my best player would have drilled you in the balls when you didn't move your fat ass out of the way of one of our drives.

You've been fairly warned for next soccer season...

Quick Thoughts

October 10, 2006

Just a few thoughts that ran through my head over the past few days. I'll have a more full review of the beer fest later (it was a blast), but in the meantime, here's this.

- I've pretty much decided that, if I can either get someone to watch Thomas for me or if he settles down a little bit, I'll probably coach Madeleine's soccer team next fall. Maybe this spring, if she wants to do spring soccer. I think Coach Doug's son will be moving on to the 7 & 8 year olds next year, so that would leave no one to coach what is now her team (apparently, there's no guarantee that you'll get the same players next year...harumph). Anyway, I guess I'm mad with power. My robot genius mind needs to teach kids.

- Joe Girardi interviewed with the Cubs. Offer him a contract. Now.

- If you discover a half of a watermelon in the back of your fridge that you forgot about, don't assume those big, black, sunken-in areas are seeds. That's probably mold eating away at the flesh of the fruit.

- There's not much more disgusting than mold growing on hot-dog chili. That's literally a "pick yer poison" matchup right there.

- I was reading up today about who would win in a fight between Brock Samson and Wolverine. Naturally, it's Brock Samson. Only Jesus can defeat Brock Samson, but only just barely.

- Speaking of Brock Samson, don't look him on the internet while at work. Apparently, there's a porn starlet whose last name is Samson, and her big old fakies pop up on the screen. Just a warning.

- No, seriously, get Girardi a contract.

- College basketball starts this weekend. Why the hell must the two best sports in the world coincide like this? Can't we push basketball back just a hair, so that March Madness becomes April Madness, and it takes up more of baseball?

- I really need to update my beer list.

- In fact, I need to update my webpage as a whole. Expect major overhauls within the month.

- I need a digital camera to better track my drunkenness at beer fests. And other worthy pictures.

- I've decided not to do NaNo this year. I was going to try and slam together the finish of The Boar War in order to get to the NaNo project. However, Boar War is coming along nicely, and I don't want to rush it. I'd rather take my time and do Boar War right and try to shop it. If that takes up part of November, sobeit. Overall, it'll make me a happier person.

- Never, ever, drink Steel Reserve. Ever.

That is all.

Me = Robot Genius

October 5, 2006

Yeah, that's right. I stepped onto the field this evening as the interim head coach while Coach Doug was away in Michigan. I figured my goal was to make sure everyone played, no one had hurt feelings, and we'd try our best. I wanted to see if more people could score goals than our normal goal scorers.

After a scoreless first half, I decided enough of this and put forth our most potent offensive line out front and two of our soundest defenders on the field with a pretty good goalie. Sure, it's probably how we should have STARTED the game, but remember, back then I was in let's make sure everyone plays and has a good time. Nothing says good time like winning.

(As an upswing, the fourth quarter featured plenty of substitutions in which everyone on the team played...and I tried to teach our defense how to "stall").

My tactics payed off well.

We scored two goals in the third quarter and topped it off with another in the fourth. Then I packed the defense in around the goal and kept them out of the goalie box. I even almost had one of the boys who has never scored a goal before score. Almost. I think he was suprised that my robot genius mind had placed him in front of the goal so wide open, so he just kind of tried to quickly kick at the ball and it didn't go toward the net real hard and the opposing goalie scooped it up. I should add in here that she was really good.

So. There you have it. I'm 1-0 in my career as a head coach. Not bad for an interim who had never done it before.

Now, do you know what the worst part of coaching 5-6 year olds is? The coach is on the field and runs up and down the field with the team. All game. The only restriction is that you can't go in the 18-yard box. Which I forgot. Fortunately, the referee was very nice and didn't punish me or throw me out. Some jackass from the other team mouthed off about it. Which is why, even though they are only 5-6 years old, I didn't feel bad by trotting our version of the greatest show on turf.

Most importantly, the kids had a good time. All of the parents told me I did a good job. I hope that I also taught them a little something about spacing, since I know that two of the kids picked up on what I was trying to tell them about standing in front of the goal when everyone crowded around the ball in the box. I also tried to spread them out on corners and free kicks, to optimize our spacing on the field and confuse the opponent. And there was much less stealing the ball from your own teammate tonight. It was almost like we were a team. Which for 5 and 6 years olds, is a major accomplishment.

I'm awaiting that phone call from the United State Soccer Federation. Next stop for me: South Africa, 2010.

Updates? Updates. Who needs updates? You do.

October 2, 2006

Ah, so I've been silent for some time. I think I posted once in September, and that was just about puke clean up duty. That's always pleasant.

So, the story goes like this. I changed projects at the end of August. I'm still employed at SCYNEXIS (apparently it's spelled wrongly if you don't capitalize EVERYTHING), and I'm still loving it, as much as anyone can love a job which revolves around chemistry (that fickle bitch). I just changed projects on which I am working.

The joy of changing a project, however, is that I have to wrap up everything from the old project and hand it off to the appropriate authorities and all. It also means I had a shitload of paperwork/deskwork/computerwork to do. Essentially, I would come in, sit at the computer, and start pulling apart the multiplets and splitting constants that I had to report on my NMRs. Whee. And type up all these reports and how I made stuff and all that. Serious eyestrain issues here. It was not the type of thing where I would want to come home and, after doing the fatherly family guy thing, sit in front of my computer and type more stuff. So, I had about a two week period where I didn't feel like writing much. It got me out of the groove. I suck. I know. I admit this. It's just how I am.

I also got deeply involved in this whole home improvement project. I've essentially gutted my bathroom downstairs and redone it. New floor, new crapper, new sink, new closet door, new wall coverings, new light fixture, new mirror, paint, floorboards, moulding, wainscoting. The whole deal. It looks nice, now. It's been a pain to deal with in between. So, if you ever come to visit me, you know where you'll be pissing. There's even some fine artwork on the walls. And you will admire my handiwork.

Let's also toss in that I'm now a soccer mom. I take my daughter to soccer practice and try to entertain Thomas so that he doesn't run out onto the field during games or practice. It didn't work one night, and he went running into the goal while all the kids were shooting at it. Predictably, he got drilled right in the face. He's alright. I think he's learned his lesson. I've learned mine. I have to be a better goalie, no matter how damned tired I am. Anyway, we're 1-1-1 on the season. There's no overtimes, so we end in ties. We've also been head-butt free, so we're one-up on France.

In case you didn't notice, football season also started.
And I have killed six mice over the past two days.
Yes, I've been distracted.

However, tonight, I picked up the last chapter on which I had worked. I was right near the end, anyway. It was one of those chapters where Sleepy Karl took over and I couldn't finish it in one night. So, I finished it tonight. I feel better about that. So, Chapter fourteen is done (it used to be fifteen, but I switched it...seemed more appropos, timing-wise). Chapter fifteen is up next, along with 13. Both are achievable. I still have 4, 7 and 10 which I am chipping away upon. So, there's plenty to keep me busy.

Anyway, Sleepy Karl is taking over again, so I'm going to wrap this up. Here's the work:

Word Count: 62137
Page Count: 206
12 chapters complete. Hooray.

Happy Yom Kippur! (I'm late, I know, but I started this post on Monday. Honest).

Happy Trails, Dusty

When I was growing up, I used to lay on my mom and dad's waterbed watching WGN every summer afternoon, soaking in every bit of the Cubs seasons of futility, which was punctuated every few years by a run for a title, like in 1989 when they beat out the Expos for the NL East and eventually ended up choking it all away to Will Clark and Barry Bonds and the Giants. You can tell from my memory of these events some 17 years later that I was ever-deserving of my Die-Hard status as a Cubs fan (still have the ragged plastic slice of card that designates me as a Lovable Loser).

Over the past few years, the Cubs have done a lot of things to piss me off and make their luster fade in my view. First and foremost was letting Mark Grace go. Ultimately, Gracey ended up with the Diamondbacks and won a World Series ring on the arms of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. But he was the heart and the soul of the team back in the early to mid-90s. Obviously, you can tell that I was a Grace fan. He was, probably, my favorite player, even over Sandberg, Maddux, Dawson and the Bull, Leon Durham (for some reason, I was also quite the fan of Doug Dascenzo, who was a centerfielder who also pitched when the Cubs got blown out (quite often) and actually did a good job). Shawon Dunston also was one of my favorites, but it didn't rip my heart out when he left for the west coast like when Grace went. Grace wanted to stay and the Cubs let him go; Dunston was sick of the bullshit and left. And frankly, I can't blame him.

They trotted through a series of inept managers (Jim Riggleman? Come on...), all the while promising to "build a playoff contender." Finally, to "seal the deal" they brought in Dusty Baker, a man who had been to the world series the year before (I think it was the WS, could have just been the playoffs). Chicago rejoiced. No one seemed to realize that he had been there only because no one wanted to pitch to Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent was seriously clutch whenever they needed him. It had nothing to do with Baker's penchant for ruining young talent, or mismanaging egos (see Kent and Bonds fighting in the dugout, see Sammy Sosa not showing up to work anymore), or anything else baseball related. He simply sat there on the bench, chewing a toothpick, flipping it in and out of his mouth, and then walking to the mound to make a switch when the game was truly out of hand. Essentially, a spider monkey with a crackwhore addiction could have done the same thing.

But, Dusty got the Cubs to the promised land in 2003. Holy Shit, this is IT! I thought. They came out, beat the Braves and rolled on to face the wildcard Marlins. Holy Shit, this IS it! I thought. They're up 3-1, the games are coming back to Wrigley, it's the 8th inning and BAM! they're winning, Mark Prior is a stud and he's cruising. Oh, shit, there was a strange play on a foul ball! Oh, the emotion has changed. Crap, get Prior out of there. Crap! Get Prior out of there! What are you doing??? GET PRIOR OUT OF THERE!!! His emotions are totally crushed, he's shaken, he CAN'T DO THIS THING NOW! Ah, crap! Double! Ah, crap, error by Gonzalez! NOW YOU'RE TAKING HIM OUT???

I never forgave Dusty Baker for that. I wanted him fired the next day. No dice. The Cubs went on to let the games go away. A perfect season pissed away because someone didn't want to make a pitching change when it was obvious that the young kid couldn't handle the crush of emotions. As for me, I couldn't make it, either. The following year, I watched a few games. The next year, even fewer. This season: I watched one. It was, however, the ONLY game the Cubs won at Wrigley during the month of June. One win. In June. At home.

Pathetic.
Disgusting.
Miserable.
Count me out.

And now it's three years later, and the Cubs are FINALLY making some moves, mostly in the "There's the door, Dusty, don't let it hit you on the way out." BUT, there's only one way to bring me back. Well, there's one way to get my interest back, and it might not even be possible since the boys in Miami have put down the joints and come out of their drug-induced hallucinations. For me, I'd LOVE to see Joe Girardi back in blue pinstripes and those funky blue shirts that look like they say "Cuba" on them.

Joe had two tenures on the Cubs roster. Both times, I admired him tons. He always carried himself with a grace and professionalism that seemed lacking in many major sports stars these days (for example, he never tried to off himself and screw it up). I remember the night Darryl Kile died and Joe made the announcement. The emotion the poured out with his voice for a guy on the other team was heartwrenching. Joe is a rookie manager who helped bring a young, inexperienced team back from 20 games under .500 to flirt briefly with the wild card and then finish a respectable 6 games under. Six games is a whole lot better than 30 (only five losses back in the "most pathetic team in baseball title"...they should have brought Baker back for another season just to see if he could secure THAT crown).

I realize that this year, Baker has dealt with a LOT of injuries to key guys, namely Wood and Prior. However, how much of their issues came from the mismanagement of their talents? The pitching coach in Chicago is just as much a pathetic excuse as Baker himself. Derrek Lee is a stud, though. A huge stud. About the only two smart things the Cubs have done over the past few years were signing him and Aramis Ramirez. Both are Studs, and D. Lee clearly has the charisma and leadership to be a good clubhouse guy, so losing him literally ripped the soul out of the team, especially since he had to leave to deal with the tragic illness of his daughter. All of this is souldrending at best, but a good manager would have circled the troops, would have had them all put their hands in the middle and say "let's do this for D. Lee". Baker probably just sat there chewing on his stupid toothpick.

Happy trails, Dusty. And good riddance.