Sunday, December 31, 2006

Parental Disillusionment

Anyone who coaches youth sports as I have in the past will always come across those over-zealous parents whose illusions of their child’s athletic ability is totally unrealistic. It’s created such a mess that there are rules on parent behavior during little league games. Perhaps the NCAA should look into that as well because Arkansas Head Football Coach Houston Nutt is involved in his own version of Little League Parents Gone Bad.

You see Arkansas heralded recruits from Springdale, Mitch Mustain, Ben Cleveland and Damian Williams, were not happy with the way the offense has been run this season. Never mind their head coach from High School, Gus Malzahn, is the offensive coordinator. And forget the fact that the trio started as true freshman and contributed to a team that finished 10 and 3, won the SEC West and went to the SEC Championship Game. So the parents of the Springdale trio met with The Grand Pooh–Bah, Arkansas’ 81-year-old Athletic Director Frank Broyles complaining that the pass happy spread offense wasn’t implemented this year and will it be in the future. Broyles told the “concerned” parents the Nutt was in charge and the matter should be taken up with the head coach. That obviously didn’t satisfy Damian Williams, who asked and received his release and is transferring to another school.

The bottom line in all this is jealousy. Darren McFadden is arguably the best player in college football and is the Heisman front-runner for 2007. Felix Jones is probably the second best running back in the SEC behind D–Mac and right now Casey Dick is a better quarterback that Mitch Mustain. When you have that kind of talent you don’t ignore it. But the Springdale Kids thought after winning the 5A State Title in Arkansas last year that they would next conquer the SEC. The Hogs almost did but not they way they expected so they went to mommy and daddy to make it better.

Mitch Mustain
QB Mitch Mustain (courtesy Sporting News)
The one player that has been humbled in this is Mitch Mustain. A book will be released authored by a long time prep writer in Springdale chronicling the Bulldogs’ 2005 season. In that book Mustain is quoted about his dislike of the Hogs offense and Coach Nutt. This lead to a players-only meeting in which Sam Olajubutu, Arkansas’s tough as nails linebacker, confronted Mustain over his comments. Reportedly, Mustain took it and apologized to Coach Nutt as well.

Even Gus Malzahn recognized when you have McFadden and Jones you don’t throw the ball all the time.

I just hope the Hogs kiss and make up and take care of Wisconsin New Years Day.

That’s It, I’m Spent.

--John Wilkerson

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Bowling for Fairness...

Fair, but not so Fair...

Why of course I'm talking about the B.C.S. What College Football Fan doesn't at this time of the year. But you know, strangely, it always seems to be for the wrong reasons.

It’ll Never Work...

And well, it doesn’t. The way this thing is set up. The way that it always seems to play out, despite this years addition of a “Championship Game”, the powers that claim to be, still can’t get it right.

You know the old saying “You can’t make all the people happy all the time”. Well the BCS…it is probably the poster child for that statement.

Was Michigan Robbed?

No, they weren’t robbed. They had a chance to play Ohio State. They lost. Simple as that. They were the 2ND place team in the Big Ten. That should automatically disqualify you from playing in a title game.

But why should that be? It doesn’t matter whether they are the “NEXT” best team to Ohio State. They still LOST to them.

Is it the System?

Yeah, it is. The system, from the polls to the Bowls is completely screwed up. To anyone who follows the game at all, it’s obvious, that each part of the country has their biases and they show up. There are too many cases of teams who are ranked ungodly high in the “Preseason Rankings” who fall right off the page within 3-4 weeks. (See Notre Dame)

The only teams who realistically have a chance to win a national title now days are teams ranked in the Top 10 before the season starts. That alone is a screwed up premise, because how the hell do you know how good a team is until they actually play a game.

But the BCS doesn’t do that…

No, technically they don’t. They start releasing their polls after week 6 to technically eliminate that problem. BUT. They use polls that start before the season as part of their criteria for their point system. So it basically is a wash. They still do what they say they don’t, but they make it sound like they don’t. Comprende?

Can it be fixed?

No it can’t. At this point in time, there is way too much corporate money involved for things to change. The only thing that will fix the problem would be to have a playoff like every other level of College Football.

My friends, this is the system that we are stuck with. You will not see the day where it will change. The NCAA, despite their claims otherwise, is in this to make sure that they, along with their corporate sponsors are able to make as much money as possible. Never mind the fact that if they did the playoff system the right way, they’d probably make more money, they are happy the way things are. No, make that the companies who foot the bill for the Bowl Games are happy the way things are.

--Phil Cantor

“The time has come, my song is over, thought I’d something more to say”- Time (Pink Floyd)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Big C...

I know I haven’t written in a while...

The whole "hearing-my-voice" thing instead seemed to take off - and we’ve stuck with it...

But there is a reason this time... important to me - and it probably should be to you. Not necessarily for the same reasons, but important nonetheless...

The Big C...

ImageMy dad was diagnosed with colon cancer a few months ago...

He was having problems with his stomach that he thought were more related to angina or something like that. Turns out- it wasn’t that way at all...

A year ago he was diagnosed with anemia. Doctors treated the anemia, but ((and, from this moment on, is strictly opinion without a whole lot of basis in fact)) failed to follow up or dig a little deeper into what could be the genesis of the problem.

His stomach ailments got worse and, then, when he went back to the doctors they asked a simple question.

"When was the last time you had a colonoscopy?"

His answer was "never."

The physician looking him over strongly suggested one, and they found a tumor the size of a softball in his intestines. 17 days later, he was operated on. The tumor was removed. They took out half of his intestines, more than two-dozen lymph nodes and one of two cysts near his tailbone.

And Thursday was his first day of 6 months of chemotherapy.

He asked, at the time of the operation, how long it would take for a tumor to grow to that size. The physicians told him "ten years." I would have, personally, taken 9 years of growth, and a little personal responsibility from a doctor instead of 10 years and a substantial operation.

But that’s in the past... I can still be hot about it as a pre-cursor for behavioral patterns. But the tumor was pulled, and that’s one of the important things here.

It’s not the first time I’ve been through chemo with someone I love, and it won’t be the last. I have experience in an area that I don’t want, and wished I didn’t need.

We were supposed to show up at 6:30 in the morning. The session was scheduled for six hours or so. But the people at his hospital have a different schedule for their own work hours. The Radiology/Oncology Infusion Room wasn’t set to open until 8. It’s good to know that hospital operational consistency is consistent throughout the country.

My dad had a chemo port installed under his right collar bone about ten days ago, which made the process a little easier. The inserting of the needle isn’t, really, for the squeamish. I’ve known people who have had to have it done through veins in their arm. Nurses have been known to misfire and create chemo burns, which are worse than 3rd Degree, that evolve from the inside out. Think of the inside of your arm being on fire, and you can’t do anything about it. That’s a chemo burn.

After a consultation with his personal Oncologist, he went to sleep and the nurses did their thing for most of the morning. I went back home, worked out, watched some soaps, and waited for the six hours to wrap up. But it really doesn’t wrap up after that.

He had a take-home test.

They gave him a fanny pack with more chemotherapy medicine in it. He had to wear it for 48 hours as the last segment of the "First Time." He had to get used to wearing it, sleeping with it, and showering with it.

The medicine they gave him ((insert irony here)) - 5-FU...

So, the moral here...?

Simple- get tested...

I’m, admittedly, a few years away from my first scheduled test. So, I know it’s on my list of things to do down the line.

And I’m not just telling guys to get tested on colon cancer. Get everything squared away- regular check-ups, learn your family history, know how things may progress on both sides of the family.

And the irony in my family...?

My dad is going through what his father went through later in his life. My aunt is going through the possible pre-cursors of heart disease that felled their mother.

He’s moved through the first par in one piece, and that’s a good thing.

But there aren’t good things that happen all the time.

And that’s what next time is all about...

Play it safe, everyone...I’ll talk to you soon...

--Jon Nelson

Everything Looks So Small...

At 39,000 feet, you get to think about a lot of things.

Most of the time, I can fall asleep during the pre-flight instructions when I’m going from story to story. You run around, and run around some more. You learn how your body works, and you learn how to work around your schedule.

But on two particular flights, I really couldn’t sleep. I had more thinking to do than trying to figure out if I can hold off on going to the bathroom before the pilots can turn off the "Fasten Seat Belt" sign.

Especially from the window seat...

Everything Looks So Small...

I’m quite skeptical of doctors in general… They have under-diagnosed, misdiagnosed, neglected, and covered more ass than Levi Strauss. Something diagnosed as an ulcer turns into, actually, ovarian cancer. And I can see where the world changed. When we turned into such a litigious society people started looking out for themselves.

I’m clumsy and spilled hot coffee on myself, but it’s your fault.

I’ve tripped and fallen, but it’s your fault.

ImageMy father had to wade through a "legal analysis." Before the Medical Center he’s seeking treatment in would operate, they had to figure out their "official" diagnosis. What in the hell is there to analyze... ? He has cancer. You operate. You treat. You try to conquer. What’s to analyze... ?

I’ll tell you what there is to analyze. The idea of "How Can I Cover My Ass" so I don’t get sued...

And, then, there’s the idea of Doctoring By Omission.

I’ll paraphrase what my father’s Oncologist told him about his most recent round of CT and PET scans. He told us that the tumor markers hadn’t changed in size or element- which is good. But there is the one area that isn’t getting chemo that they can’t get to. They can’t see how, or if, the cyst near his tailbone will spread, metastasize or both.

He admitted they don’t have the technology to look at it. This is a Top Five cancer hospital in the country, but will remain nameless, that has openly just admitted to me that they can’t treat everything all at once. They can’t look at multiple cancerous areas that need treatment. But, they can surely hope things haven’t moved by the end of the 6-month chemotherapy cycle.

Which brought an interesting point-of-view from my brother... He thinks there is a conspiracy at foot to make sure things will stay in their favor to keep us under their thumbs until further notice. They treat one aspect of his illness, but don’t treat another- on purpose. This way, they can figure out that they have a "perpetual patient" on their hands and in his wallet.

Interesting theory... one, I’m sure, that has crossed a lot of other people’s minds over time.

They can’t flip him over like a pancake and check on things. But they can make sure they’re late, give us the wrong instructions, and give us confusing directives, if not other things I haven’t quite thought of yet, either. If you can’t tell, I’m a little more than annoyed.

And the one area that can’t be looked at is the one we all thought, initially, would be the one pounded by the chemotherapy. So much for introducing logic into the situation...

The fact that English seemed to be the second language of some, if not most, of the nursing staff didn’t really help matters off the top, either. Imagine trying to get explanations of your father’s chemotherapy play-by-play from someone whom considered English as their learned, and not native, tongue. Instructions and end results all given to you through thick dialects. Concentrating is hard enough as it is for something like this...

And I get that...? I know they all try very hard and want to make things better for not just my family, but countless others, but there are some elements of the process that would be infinitely easier if...

Just if...

When you're in the Infusion Room, you see how cancer has affected different people in different ways.

There are people who are just starting out (like my dad). There are those who seem to be veterans of the whole thing. And there are those who are, seemingly, beaten down by the whole process. There are those who kick back in the easy chairs. There are those who have lost their hair, wear the bandana, and have lost an incredible amount of weight.

Bottom line- they just look "over the whole f**kin' thing."

The one thing that sticks in my mind during that day more than anything was that Luke and Laura’s second wedding from "General Hospital" was on the television of one of my dad’s new bunk mates. I remember where I was when they married the first time. And I’ll remember where I was the second time.

One scene in particular hangs with me. Laura was forgetting little things like direction and location. Her short-term memory was going away- the by-product of the medication she was taking wearing off. Helena Cassadine appears from nowhere to explain to Laura, in no uncertain terms, that before the rose petals fell from her hair after the ceremony- she wouldn’t remember the happiness of the day at all.

She would be the person she was before she was revived- catatonic and listless...

Helena then snapped her fingers... and walked away.

It would all go away- like that...

And it did...

Makes you wonder...

Life is a vapor, they say. It’s like trying to grab a hold of a contrail from an airplane passing overhead.

We are all just passengers on the plane. And when it lands, it lands.

Whether we like it or not... and it’s not one of my favorite lessons to have re-emphasized to me...

Play it safe, everyone...I’ll talk to you soon...

--Jon Nelson