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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.