Monday, October 05, 2015

No, that's not it

I saw this headline, or a variant of it, several times in recent days:

We've explained this before, but apparently people don't get it. The reason this priest is being dismissed isn't that he's gay -- he's being dismissed because he's not celibate. If he'd come out with a woman on his arm, the result would have been the same.

Bust some Kaeps off

From the Newspaper of Record:
Losers of three consecutive games, the 49ers can place much of the blame the last two weeks on quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Last week Kaepernick threw four interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns, and this week he failed to get anything going, passing for just 160 yards and an interception. It was the third time in four games that he failed to break 200 yards passing, and he was sacked six times.

Piling on to Kaepernick’s misfortune, television cameras picked up Packers linebacker Clay Matthews taunting his rival, saying “You ain’t Russell Wilson, bro” in reference to the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
Why so personal? You might remember this image:

Young and pleased with himself
Matthews and the Packers exacted their revenge yesterday:

Of course it's childish. That's why it's great

All that said, what's happened to Kaepernick's career is pretty astonishing. The guy looked like the next great quarterback not that long ago, a new age weapon capable of beating you with his arm or his legs. Not any more. At this point, he's just a guy.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Big Ten for Real Edition

Old dude, it's actually been a little chilly down here in Galesburg.

It's definitely autumn here as well. So, how did you like your beloved Knox College Prairie Fire showing up on SportsCenter last week?

That was pretty cool. Our vast readership needs to see this catch:

That's Ilir Emini, everyone. Ask for him by name.

Really liked it. It didn't even require any embellishment.

Oh, we think it's worthy of HYYYYYYYPPPPPPE! Lots and lots of HYYYYYYYPPPPPPPE!

Well, it's a nice deal for sure. But that was last week. What about this week?

Oh, I've got an answer for that, Geritol Fan! Watch me work!

Minnesota Golden Gophers (+3.5) vs. Northwestern Wildcats. So, it's the nationally ranked Wildcats playing our Gophers. What is this, 1995? Evanston is a really tricky place to win and Northwestern is quietly one of the better teams in the Big Ten. The Gophers have looked really shaky at times in the out of conference schedule and have to play a difficult game. I think this game is very much going to tell us if Northwestern is for real. Northwestern 31, Jerry the Cable Guy 20.

This game could be a bit of a snoozer if you aren't interested in the results. The over/under on the game is 39.5, which tells you that Vegas isn't expecting a lot of offense out of these squads. So far the Gophers have been winning close games against lower shelf opponents, although they did play TCU very tough in the opener. I'm not sure what to make of this one, actually. Do you believe in Northwestern? Not sure that I do, but on the home field they should have enough. Northwestern 24, Gophers 20.

Macalester Scots (NL) vs. Knox College Prairie Fire. Hey, if Knox can get on national television, I'm gonna pick their game! Knox has looked good and should be a factor. The coaching staff does a great job at getting the players to just make good plays and hang in there. The Fire is going to be in contention this year, as Knox continues to step up the athletic game. Seymour Union 45, Mac 0.

Macalester was actually pretty good last year. This year, they seem to be reverting to form. Knox is improving; the circus catch aside, in the past they would not have won at Lawrence. They may not be ready for the top teams in the MWC, but they should be able to handle the Scots. Knox 31, Macalester 20.

Iowa Hawkeyes (+6.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. This game is traditionally one of the most difficult games on the Badger schedule. Iowa always is a difficult team to play against, as they are tough and well-coached. Joel Stave has really improved, and he may be getting to that level of Scott Tolzien or Darrell Bevell, if you get what I mean. I do not expect an easy game, but considering that Wisconsin has won the last three games in Iowa City, I feel quietly confident. Wisconsin 31, Iowa 28.

I don't know if the Hawkeyes are any good or not. They have won a number of close games against inferior opponents. The Badgers have been winning their games by large margins. Does that translate into victory? Not sure, but I would think the odds favor the Badgers, particularly at Camp Randall. Badgers 34, Iowa 24.

Oakland Raiders (-3) vs. Bear Down Chicago da Bearz. Da Beatz are like watching an accident waiting to happen. As much as we think that the Raiders are a crap team, they are starting to figure things out. I like the Raiders here because the Bears are about as dangerous as a teddy bear. Raiders 31, Bears 7.

Life is not good when the Raiders are a road favorite in  your building. The Bears will once again have to go without Alshon Jeffrey and, most likely, Jay Cutler. Hard to see how they generate much offense without those guys. Assume that Matt Forte will be getting a lot of attention. Still, I have a feeling about this one. Bears 24, Raiders 23.

Minnesota Vikings (+6.5) vs. Denver Broncos. Peyton Manning is starting to get old and he might be as shifty as the statue of John Elway in the parking lot. The Vikings have really improved and are looking like a team that will challenge Green Bay for the division. I like Minnesota in this game, considering Denver is not going to be going anywhere right now. Minnesota 21, Denver 17.

This one seems pretty simple. Can the Vikings get through the Broncos offensive line enough to batter Peyton Manning into submission? That's been the formula for their last two victories. Now that, as the young fellow has pointed out, Manning has Lynn Dickey-like mobility, it's possible. I look for a steady diet of bubble screens to Denver running backs. That should get them by, but if a Viking gets a big hit on Peyton, watch out. Broncos 27, Vikings 17.

Glorious Green Bay Packers (-6.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers. The 2015 Revenge Tour continues this week, as it's time to offer payback to Colin Kaepernick. No jerk Harbaugh this time, and the Packers are hoping that this is not the last trip they make out to Santa Clara, if you get my drift. The Packer defense has been playing amazing lately, and with all of the turnover in the Bay Area, look for another Packer win. Packers 67, Kaeper-not 0.

Kaepernick still scares me, but this 49ers team is pretty depleted. They don't the strength on defense that they used to have and it seems possible to deny Kaepernick room to maneuver. The Packers are more athletic on the edge than they used to be. I don't see the 49ers getting home against Aaron Rodgers, either. Think this will go the Packers way. Packers 34, 49ers 20.

Okay, old dude! Nice job staying awake long enough to make these picks! Chug some Metamucil and call it a night! Ben out!

One more item submitted without further comment

A pregnant girl was taken to a hospital Wednesday following a fight involving from 30 to 40 students inside Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education on Milwaukee's north side, according to Milwaukee police and media reports.

Milwaukee police were called to the former Custer High School, 5075 N Sherman Blvd, shortly before 2:30 p.m. to back up school resource officers, WITI-TV in Milwaukee reported on its website.

Also submitted without further comment

Last week, Major General Salehi, the commander of Iran’s army, proclaimed this:

“We will annihilate Israel for sure.”

“We are glad that we are in the forefront of executing the Supreme Leader’s order to destroy Israel.”

And as for the Supreme Leader himself, a few days after the nuclear deal was announced, he released his latest book.

Here it is.

It’s a 400-page screed detailing his plan to destroy the State of Israel.

Last month, Khamenei once again made his genocidal intentions clear before Iran’s top clerical body, the Assembly of Experts.

He spoke about Israel, home to over six million Jews. He pledged, “there will be no Israel in 25 years.”

Seventy years after the murder of six million Jews, Iran’s rulers promise to destroy my country.

Murder my people.

And the response from this body, the response from nearly every one of the governments represented here has been absolutely nothing!

Utter silence!

Deafening silence.

Perhaps you can now understand why Israel is not joining you in celebrating this deal.

Quick update

Had my stress test yesterday. Should have the results in the next few days. No one seemed too alarmed.

Submitted without further comment

[He started] asking people one by one what their religion was. ‘Are you a Christian?’ he would ask them, and if you’re a Christian stand up. And they would stand up and he said, ‘Good, because you’re a Christian, you are going to see God in just about one second.’ And then he shot and killed them,” Stacy Boylen, whose daughter was wounded at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore., told CNN.
An anonymous user wrote in an ominous post on the online bulletin board 4chan Wednesday night: “Some of you guys are alright. Don’t go to school tomorrow if you are in the northwest. happening thread will be posted tomorrow morning. so long space robots,” the post concluded.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BLM and the Twin Cities Maslowthon

It ain't easy to get that "26.2" sticker for your car. Especially if Black Lives Matter stops you:
Four days before more than 11,000 runners line up for the start of Sunday’s Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, the threat by protesters to disrupt the 26.2-mile race has some marathoners on edge about their safety, while others are angry that months of training could be jeopardized as they approach the finish line.

The St. Paul chapter of Black Lives Matter says it’s planning on “shutting down” the annual October running event near the finish at the State Capitol to raise awareness of recent incidents involving St. Paul police and people of color.
It's a cagey maneuver for BLM, because as the definitive "Stuff White People Like" site says, white people love marathons:
If you find yourself in a situation where a white person is talking about a marathon, you must be impressed or you will lose favor with them immediately.  Running for a certain length of time on a specific day is a very important thing to a white person and should not be demeaned.

Also worth nothing, more competitive white people prefer triathlons because Kenyans can’t afford $10,000 specialty bicycles.  If the subject ever comes up, just say that triathletes are in better shape than football and basketball players.  It’s not true, but it will make the conversation a lot more genial.
It's not clear whether BLM organizer Rashad Turner has a $10,000 specialty bicycle, but he does have a good sense of what buttons to push:
The St. Paul group’s spokesman, Rashad Turner, declined an interview request but sent a text quoting Martin Luther King Jr. saying that “the Negro’s great stumbling block to freedom…is the white moderate who is more devoted to order than justice…who constantly says, ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action.’ ”
A well-chosen quote that's especially amusing given Turner's mode of operation. I'm not convinced that Rashad Turner gives a damn about anyone other than the fellow he sees in his mirror, so this is a great battle of narcissists. Woe betide the person who gets in the way of self-actualization, especially the sort that comes with months of training. The famous psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that human motivation is based on people seeking fulfillment through personal growth, and training for a marathon is a good example of theory meeting practice. Let's face it -- any schlub can go to the State Fair or a Vikings game, previous targets of the Turner Troupe, but fat dudes can't run marathons. If I need to travel 26.2 miles, I grab the car keys, and maybe a donut to eat in the car. Your hierarchy of needs may vary.

Maslow also said "if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." Turner is a 5-lb. sledge. This will be interesting to watch.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A good ol' fashioned fisking

Our buddy Brad Carlson is on the case, fisking the living daylights out of a Robert Reich screed. Just click the link, in which our man Brad dispatches a purported conversation between Reich and a likely mythical Republican friend.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Numbers is hard

A friend of this feature sent this one along, in which a professor struggles to explain what should be obvious to the bien pensant It Couple of TPT, Cathy Wurzer and Eric Eskola:
[University of Minnesota Professor Sam Myers] pointed out that the survey only included those who indicated themselves as “black” and not of multi-racial background.  He also said he couldn’t reproduce the finding that there was a $4,000 drop in median income for black households, based on any previous data.  The Star Tribune reported the survey numbers with a dramatic headline, “Black household income plunges in one year in Minnesota.”  Yesterday the paper featured a commentary by Louis J. King III, president of Summit Academy, reiterating the point that “Minnesota now trails Mississippi when it comes to median household income for blacks.”  As a solution, King called for an increase in SNAP (food stamp) benefits and an increase in job training program spending,

But are the statistics valid?  Not according to Professor Myers who stated, “I looked at every single year of the American Community survey 1% sample between 2000 and 2013…… six of those years, black income went up, seven of those years, black income went down.  But, the long term trend was a positive trend.”

“I don’t know anybody who uses that 1% sample…..You should use a 5% sample, there is a 5% sample.”  Myers said.
Pick the numbers you want. Get the results you want. Nice racket. And lest you think Myers is some sort of racist who wants to keep people down, a reminder from the story:
Myers is the Chair of the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Rights and Social Justice at the Humphrey Institute.
And a reminder: Eskola and Wurzer have been hosting Almanac for 20 years.

The Pope, again

Just a few words about the Pope:

  • He's in line with Catholic teaching on most everything he says. The issue isn't with his teaching per se, but where he places particular emphasis. I've seen no discernible change in Church teaching since he became Pope.
  • He's not infallible. No Pope is.
  • We'll really see where things stand in the Church when the next synod begins in earnest, which will be next month. It is the Synod on the Family, and that's really where the largest questions reside.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Whatever Gino Wants, Gino Gets Edition

So, old dude, I saw that Gino was bothered that we didn't pick the Bears game last week.

I suppose we could pick the Bears each week as a courtesy.

Have you seen them play, Geritol Fan? It seems to me that the courteous thing to do would be not to mention the Bears at all! Especially now that they are attempting to play without half their offense!

The Bears are struggling. They don't even have Jay Cutler this week.

Well, it does set things up nicely for one of my patented outrageous point spread picks. Those are always entertaining, right?

Depends on which end of the point spread you are, I guess.

Yeah, I guess it does. But there's plenty of games and HYYYYYYPPPPPE! to offer this week, so let's get to it. Watch me work!

Ohio University Bobcats (+10) vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Gophers have issues that concern me. They have struggled against Colorado State and Kent State. No disrespect to those schools, but they are not exactly big time opponents. Jerry "The Cable Guy" Kill needs to coach them up, because Ohio is a MAC team. And MAC teams can be powerful run teams. Just ask any Razorback fan. Ohio 31, Gophers 13.

Way to work in that Bielema shot, there, young fella! The Gophers are struggling, particularly on offense. They have some talent but it hasn't been easy for them to score much lately. If you can only score 10 points against Kent State, you've got issues. Ohio is better than Kent State, so this one is potentially an issue. I think the Gophers win, but they won't cover. Gophers 21, Ohio U. 16.

Hawaii Rainbows (+24.5) vs. Beloved Wisconsin Badgers. Bucky looked okay last week, though the officiating left something to be desired. If the NCAA is so concerned with going after DraftKings, maybe they should have some time to look at the targeting rule. Hawaii gave Buckeye fans a little scare earlier, but they couldn't get it done. And unlike the Buckeyes, Wisconsin does not have a quarterback issue to worry about. Joel Stave is still one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten and he will make the difference. Wisconsin 56, Aloha 21.

Tough deal for the Badgers, losing Corey Clement for 4-6 weeks. Fortunately, they have Taiwan Deal, their backup running back. He'll get going this week. Hawaii played Ohio State tough for a while in the horseshoe a few weeks back, but I don't think they have the firepower to hang with the Badgers. Wisconsin 31, Hawaii 10.

Bear Down Chicago da Bearz (+14.5) vs. Seattle Seabags. This game might be the most interesting game on the schedule this week outside of the Packer game in my eyes. Chicago looked solid against my Packers, and then reverted to form against Arizona. Seattle has looked out of sorts, and it is time for me to uncork a bit of a rant. The failure of Seattle so far can be attributed to giving Russell Wilson too big a contract. I like Russell a lot, because he is a great guy, and if you lead Wisconsin to a Rose Bowl and a conference title, you have a place in my heart forever. Still, Kam Chancellor is the key to the whole team, because he allows Richard Sherman to do his thing, and allows Seattle to only rush four. I am not saying Chancellor should have held out; that was moronic. What should have happened was that Wilson should have been a better leader and offered to restructure his contract to avoid this mess. Chancellor really hurt his team by being selfish and not doing a better job negotiating a contract that he liked. Regardless, Seattle is not going anywhere this year because the teamwork and discipline that Chancellor and Wilson showed over the past two years has gone away. I have never seen a quarterback hurt his team by taking more money than he is worth, money that could have been used to keep an important player happy,. Seattle is not going to win, because they are distracted. Jimmy Clausen gets a chance to prove he can be successful. The Seahawks are throwing away a dynasty if they don't stop the drama and just play football. da Bearz 39, Drama Queens 8. 

Didn't see that coming! I'll have to agree to disagree with your assessment. Not a promising scenario for the Bears, I think. Seattle is, to use the Benster's favorite phrase, the desperate team at home. And it's difficult to see where the Bears are going to get their offense, especially since Cutler and Alshon Jeffrey are unavailable for this game. Matt Forte is going to have about six dudes in his breakfast nook at all times during this game. If the Seahawks finally figure out how to use Jimmy Graham, this could get ugly. Seahawks 38, Bears 13.

San Diego Chargers (+2.5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. San Diego is  a good team and has been in my lifetime. Phillip Rivers is a guy I enjoy watching. Norv Turner will be the key this week because he knows Rivers very well and can help Zimmer figure out how to stop Rivers. Keenan Allen is a dangerous threat and will test the Vikings, who looked good against Detroit and are my pick to finish second in the division and maybe challenge for the division title. Vikings 42, Sterling Hitchcock 28.

This is actually a pretty intriguing matchup. The Chargers are an entertaining team and they can score points. The Vikings defense looked very good last week against the Lions and basically beat Matthew Stafford into a pulp. That won't happen this week, but it could be tough sledding for Phillip Rivers and company. Close game, I think. Vikings 27, Chargers 24.

Kansas City Chiefs (+6.5) vs. Glorious Green Bay Packers. So, old dude, did you see that the Best Sportscaster Ever, Jack Harry, has retired? This guy was a fixture in Kansas City for years and was the crustiest person you'll ever see on local television. Check him out in all his glory!

When Jack points the finger at you, watch out! The Packers won a game that the fan base needed. This game is making me nervous, because if you recall last year the Packers won a huge home game against New England, then got ambushed in the second half against Atlanta. The Chiefs do have a quarterback in Alex Smith who was the better option in the Bay Area, but got thrown under the bus for a read option quarterback who is just an athlete, and not a quarterback. The Packers will win, but expect a close and tough game. Packers 27, Chiefs 23.

More crust on Jack Harry than on a four-foot baguette. As for the game, the Chiefs have some tools, but I don't think they'll be able to move the ball through the air that much. Aaron Rodgers is awfully tough to beat in Green Bay, especially in prime time. The Packers will wear them down. Packers 31, Chiefs 17.

Okay, old dude! Now if only we could get Gino to replace Jack Harry in Kansas City, then you'd have something! Ben out!

Local scene -- first look

We have municipal elections coming up in New Brighton shortly. I'll look at this election in more detail later on, but the outlines are pretty simple:

The incumbent mayor, Dave Jacobsen, is a good guy, but over time he's been pulled to the left, especially on spending issues. Gina Bauman, who has long been the voice of fiscal sanity on the city council, is running against him. Gina winning would upset the apple cart. Another woman named Val Johnson is also running, but based on a cursory look at her Facebook page, it's not clear why.

Two city council members are up for re-election. Paul Jacobsen is also a good guy, but like his namesake the mayor, he's been pulled left over time. Mary Burg is a big spender and friend to the municipal employees, who like her on the council because she's a reliable vote for their interests. The two primary opponents to Paul Jacobsen and Burg are Rick Moses and Susan Erickson. I've known Rick for years and he's a solid fiscal conservative. I've met Erickson, although I don't know her well. She's also a fiscal conservative.

For the citizens of New Brighton, it comes down to name recognition vs. motivation. If you'd prefer the city to be run more efficiently, Bauman, Moses and Erickson are the people to choose. If you're okay with the free spending status quo, the Jacobsens and Burg are your choices.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Saga -- Part Four

It was about 7 a.m. when we left the hospital. My wife drove the car out of the parking ramp onto Thompson Street, then turned left onto Grand Avenue. The sun was about to rise, but it might as well have been midnight. Sheets of rain were hitting the windshield. As she prepared to turn from Grand Avenue onto Smith, my phone let out an alert.

“What’s that?” my wife asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I’ve never heard my phone do that before. Let me look.”

It was a warning from the National Weather Service – Ramsey County was under an urban and small stream flood warning. A severe thunderstorm was moving through the area. Heavy rain would fall throughout Ramsey County and localized flooding was possible.

I thought about our house, about 20 minutes away. While it's been a mostly beautiful summer, we’d had a number of torrential rain storms over the course of the year and water had overwhelmed our gutters and downspouts, causing a small amount of water to leak into the basement. We’d been able to avoid major damage, but this storm didn’t look promising. We are getting things repaired, but the problem remained.

“We’ll have to see what things look like when we get home,” I said. "I hope the gutters aren’t overflowing.”

The rain and the regular rush hour traffic turned a 20-minute drive into a 45-minute slog. As we arrived home, we could see that water was coming over the gutters, but just a trickle. The rain was coming to an end, though.

“Looks like we dodged a bullet,” I said. “I’ll have to check the gutters later on, but we need to get some rest.”

Neither of us had slept since the previous morning, so we were exhausted. We went to sleep. By this point, the medication I'd received from the hospital had kicked in and my blood pressure had returned to normal levels. I was breathing deeply and freely. About three hours later, it was 11 a.m. and the phone rang. It was the heart clinic -- they wanted to see me at 3:30 that afternoon for a consultation with a cardiologist. I wrote down the information and headed back to bed.

Not 20 minutes later, I could hear thunder and heavy rain. I put on some workout clothes and looked outside the front window of the house. Water was coming over the gutter -- a lot of water.

A few days before, we had set out a series of containers in front of our house to catch any rain water that had come over the roof. The containers were full and the water was starting to splash on the landscaping in front of our house. I grabbed the ladder from the garage, climbed up the ladder and looked up into the gutter. It was filled with water and leaves from our ash tree. I tried to fish out some of the leaves from the gutter, which helped a bit, then I carried the ladder to the downspout area on the end of the garage. The downspout was filled with leaves as well. I fished out what I could from there, all the while getting soaked by the rain, which was coming down in sheets. 

I put the ladder aside, then grabbed a pail from the garage and started bailing the water out of the plastic storage containers that were catching some, but not all, of the water. I filled the pail about 20 times and tossed the water out onto the lawn, bailing water like I would if I were on a leaking boat. That helped somewhat, but it wasn't a promising way to start my recovery. The rain started to slow a bit and I got somewhat ahead of the water that was pouring over the roof line. After about 10-15 minutes of this, the rain started to slow.

I went back into the house and turned on the computer to check the local radar. We had a brief respite, but more rain was coming. I grabbed a tarp and tried to rig up a barrier in front of the house, but the wind was howling and made it almost impossible to keep anything in place.

About 20 minutes passed and the second wave of rain came in -- this time, a torrential downpour. It took only a minute for the water to start coming over the roofline again and splashing all over the front of our house. I tried to hold up the tarp to keep the water from flowing back toward the house, but it was too much. By then, my wife had awoken and understood what was happening. She came out and helped me to hold up the tarp, but the water kept coming.

Over the course of the next 20 minutes, we received over an inch of rain, part of a total of about 3 inches of rain that we would receive that day. We alternated between trying to keep the water out and bailing what had collected in the storage containers. We could see that water was getting into the window well behind us, so we bailed out that water as well. Some water would get into the basement, but we managed to forestall disaster.

Finally, the rain slowed. We were drenched and exhausted. I had feared I was having a heart attack less than 12 hours before, and now I was still standing, drenched, but alive.

A little bit of water had dripped through the window well into our family room. We also had a little bit of water in the back playroom. A short session with a ShopVac would clean it up. The rain was over and the storm had moved on.

After I pulled off my wet clothes, I posted a cryptic message on Facebook:

A fair number of people who read that post were puzzled by what I meant. Now you know. 

About 90 minutes later, I was able to drive myself to my appointment with my new friend, the cardiologist. He told me about the stress test he was scheduling for me. I will take that test in a few days from now. I have little doubt that the stress my heart will receive from the test will not be any greater than what I had experienced. Bring it on.

The Pope

I'm going to wait until his visit is done before I say much more about the Pope. Suffice it to say we'll see a lot of coverage about his global warming remarks but not much about him visiting the Little Sisters of the Poor.

So you can be the president
(You can be the President)
(Kick it)
I'd rather be the pope
(Rather be the Pope)
(I wanna be, so happy)

You can be the side effect
(You can be the side effect)
I'd rather be the dope
(You, you, you)
(You can be the dope)
The Pope

A voice returns

The Friendly Neighborhood Republican blog is back. This is good news and you should be reading Crystal's work. Click this link, or find it on the sidebar.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Saga -- Part Three

We continued to wait. Every 10-15 minutes or so, the blood pressure cuff attached to my right arm would start up again, taking another reading. The numbers remained too high. It was now approaching 4 a.m. The emergency room doctor arrived, with the nurse and with a woman furiously transcribing every word of the conservation.

"Well, we've got some good news for you," the doctor began. "We've looked at the CT scan and we don't see any evidence of a blockage, so you're not having a heart attack."

"That is good news," I replied. "So what is going on."

"We don't know, actually. We're going to have to get your blood pressure down and I've got some medicine to do that. That's the easy part," the doctor said. "What we need to find out is why this happened. Have you ever had a stress test?"


"Well, you're going to get one. We'll have that set up for you. Can you walk on a treadmill?"

"I've been doing it for a while now -- I have a membership at Snap Fitness and I use the treadmill when I go," I said.

"Well, good. The test will last about 3 hours. We need to find out what your heart is capable of doing and then we'll be able to figure out how to treat things going forward," he said.

The nurse then gave me two pills to take. "We're going to have you stay here until your blood pressure starts to go down," she said. "My shift is done, so there will be another nurse coming in to check on you in a little while."

I wanted to rest, but that wasn't coming easily. The second nurse came in. She told me she was from Pittsburgh and we talked about going to baseball stadiums. I've never been to Pittsburgh, but it's on my list of parks to see. The blood pressure cuff started up again. The number was lower, but still not where it needed to be.

"If we can get your blood pressure down below 140, you should be ready to leave," she said. As she said this, the cuff began to deflate.

"Do I get my 'get out jail free' card?" I asked.

She laughed. "Not yet, but soon."

By this time, it was now approaching 6:30 a.m. My blood pressure was now at a normal level; the medication had worked. I had instructions to see a cardiologist later that afternoon. It was time to go home.

As we walked to the car, we could see that it was raining heavily. That would matter quite a lot later that morning, but for now, it was time to go home and rest.

Next -- the rain keeps coming

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Scott Walker is gone

Too bad. He had potential and Walker made mistakes, but I think Trump killed his campaign, especially by loudly retailing the, and I'm going to use a clinical term here, bullshit claims of a previous Walker opponent, Mary Burke. Trump did the same thing in the last debate, and Walker objected to it, but after that moment CNN assured that Walker was barely on the screen any more. And that was the end. Trump is pretty much dead to me anyway, but his performance in re Walker was particularly egregious. You can highlight policy differences, but to outright lie is beyond the pale. And that's what Trump did in this matter. Go ahead and support Trump if you like his attitude and his swagger, but understand what you're getting is a man without any fixed principles other than his own self-regard. Trump will be a conservative champion until he gets bored with it. When that's over, he'll wipe his butt with all of his acolytes and not think twice about it. Again, if that's your thing, feel free to get on his bandwagon.

I don't have a favorite candidate at this point. If I had to pick today, I'd rank them as follows:

Rubio -- a compromise, but at least plausible
Fiorina -- not sure she's really the right person, but worth a listen
Cruz -- like him, but I don't think he's electable
Carson -- a very nice man and brilliant at what he does, but he'll not last
Trump -- look in my eyes, what do you see? Cult of personality
Bush -- go home, "Jeb!" Seriously, go home

I don't think anyone else has a chance. Do you see any sign of, say,  Bobby Jindal fever? I sure don't.

Monday, September 21, 2015


Mark Steyn, with a head of steam, in re the moral imperative of defending the Leader of the Free World against the claims of random attendees at Trump rallies:
 In the normal course of events, the President - who is supposed to serve as president of all the people, not just the half of the country that voted for him - should command a certain respect. But this particular president has compared the members of the loyal opposition to terrorists and to the more hardcore Iranian ayatollahs. And none of you media bigfeet huffing and puffing about lèse-majesté gave a crap about that. So, if you'll forgive me, as someone designated a terrorist and ayatollah by Obama, I'm disinclined to rise to defend the President's amour propre. Go hector someone else.
No kidding. More, a lot more, at the link.

Saga -- Part Two

The blood work had come back and nothing was amiss. "There are markers that we see in the blood test that indicate a possible heart attack, but we don't see them," the nurse told us. "The CT scan should tell us more. We should be able to get you in for that in a short while. We're still trying to get you into a room as well for more observation, but it's taking a while," she added.

This wasn't surprising. A big city emergency room, even if it's cleaner and less chaotic than what you see on television, is still a busy place. The public address system called out a similar message with regularity --"ambulance on the way, six minutes out." There were more patients like me in the waiting room and the staff at the hospital was doing its best to get to everyone, but I would have to wait.

That I was waiting seemed like a good sign. "If I were in real danger, they would have wheeled me in right away," I said to my wife.

"That's true, I guess," she said. She had been steady all night, never once betraying a sense of panic. We didn't say a whole lot -- this had already been a very long day for both of us and we were starting to realize that we weren't going to get an answer right away.

After nearly an hour, the doors of the emergency room opened and another nurse came out with a hospital bed. It was my turn. "We have a room now for you. We'll have you go there and we'll be installing an IV port so they can put the dye into you. "Have you ever had a CT scan?" the nurse asked.

"Yes, I've had a number of them, and several MRI tests as well," I replied. "About eight years ago, I had surgery here for a pituitary adenoma and they took a lot of pictures then."

"Well, this won't be as extensive as all that," the nurse said with a smile. "The CT scan will only take about three minutes. They will put some dye into your veins to see what's happening and then take the scan."

I was wheeled into the imaging area of the hospital and saw the machine. It was familiar, but had been updated and was, for the most part, open sided. "Well, this isn't an MRI tube," I said.

The nurse in imaging laughed. "No, this isn't nearly as bad as all that. We are going to put some dye in your IV port. It will feel warm, and then you'll feel like you need to pee, but you won't really need to. Can you make it up onto the bed?" she asked.

"I think so," I said. I managed to do that with a little difficulty, then it was time to enter the scanner. The familiar feeling of warmth and then slight burning was there, just as they predicted. And as they'd promised, it was done within a few minutes.

"Okay, we're going to take you back to your room now," the nurse said. "We should have these read in about 30-35 minutes. The emergency room doctor will see you then and let you know what's next."

So it was back to the room. My wife was waiting. They put me on the monitoring equipment and tested my blood pressure. It was still quite high, over 175. "We'll be giving you some medication to get that blood pressure down," the nurse said. "It's very effective."

"I hope so."

"It is. How is your breathing," she asked. "It looks better."

"Yes, it does seem to be better," I responded. "I'm trying to rest, but I'm not particularly good at this sort of thing. At least I'm trying not to yell at you like some of the other people do."

The nurse laughed. "Yes -- we hear all sorts of things in the emergency room. Sometimes the patients don't like me very much."

"Well, we like you," I said. "Don't know if that counts for much, but I want you to know that."

"Thank you. The doctor should be here in a few minutes."

Next -- the doctor arrives and the results come in.