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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.