March Madness Continues!

March 28, 2013

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Weekend #2 of March Madness starts tonight. Gone is the first week of play in games, followed by 32 more games, a bunch of missed days at the work place, long lunches and last minute entries to office pools.

This is also the week that most of the urologists take a week of vacation after performing so many vasectomies last week…..

B1G Rules!

All year long I have thought the B1G 10 was a bit on the over-rated side. I have watched most of these teams play in person, and was not overly impressed with anyone other than Ohio State. (I do coincidentally have “THE” making it a long way in the tourney) Upset wins by Minnesota in the first round, followed by Sweet 16 appearances by Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State shows the conference has flexed their muscle.

I still think Indiana is really not as good as advertised, but the next round of games will really tell the story. Wisconsin is a team that many predicted would do much better than one and done.

In the NIT tourney, the Iowa Hawkeyes have also made a nice run and are headed to Madison Square Garden for the Final 4 of the NIT tourney. The Hawkeyes who had a 20+ win season, but had a poor strength of schedule and some horrible losses have changed their ways. A team known all year to lose the close one and let games slip away late, have found ways to win.

Planting Seeds

The biggest seed left is Florida Gulf Coast. This is the first #15 seed to ever make the round of 16. The Eagles have impressed and excited fans across the country with their high flying playground style of play. They play fellow sunshine state team – Florida in the next round. This will be a much bigger step up for FGCU, will the glass slipper still fit?

LaSalle was a #13 seed and is also in the round of 16. They get this far after winning three games, including the play in game win over Boise St, the upset of Kansas State in the round of 64 and by beating Mississippi, who knocked of Wisconsin. Now they get Wichita State, who disposed of Gonzaga. The Explorers have had the easiest time of it as a few notable teams and higher seeds have been knocked off on the way up the ladder. The Shockers out of the Missouri Valley, played second fiddle to Creighton but ultimately get the last laugh on against the boys from Omaha- as they remain in the round of 16, while Duke send the Blue Jays packing last weekend. Look for LaSalle to continue the dream and make the Elite 8.

Oregon is the only other double digit seed (#12) that is still around to play. Oregon likely was seeded to low, and they have shown that the ducks are a force to be reckoned with as they have beat Oklahoma State and St. Louis fairly easily. That all stops now as they play tournament overall #1, Louisville. Oregon will play them tough, but the only department they will win during this match-up is ugliest green uniforms.

I like Louisville, but secretly am rooting for Ohio State

And on the Women’s Side….

Normally in the Women’s NCCA tournament, the chalk is pretty much what you go with. That makes the local Huskers a good story. A #6 seed making the Sweet 16 on the women’s bracket does not happen very often. Matter of fact, only 4 #6 seeds advanced this far, with no seeds any higher than that making it. LSU, Oklahoma, Delaware and Nebraska keep the hopes alive for the “higher” seeds.

Nebraska is also the only remaining B1G 10 team remaining in the tournament. They play the Blue Devils this round who are 30-2. Like most years the teams left standing at the end are likely to include Notre Dame, Connecticut, Stanford and Baylor.

It is Baylor’s to lose.

Until next time, stay classy Fort Wayne, Indiana

He Shall Be Called Francis

March 15, 2013

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Pope Francis Portrait Painting

Pope Francis

The council of Cardinals has spoken. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, has been named Pope and had taken the name of Francis. What do we know of this man? He is 76 years old. He is a Jesuit, the first of this order ever elected to the papacy. He is from the Americas, again the first ever from that region. He has taken the name of Francis, the first Pope to take that name.

In choosing the name Francis, he has already started a frenzy of speculation. Did he select the name to honor Saint Francis of Assisi, a wealthy young man who turned his life to living in poverty and helping all in need? That is the current line in the news. Did he take the name from Saint Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit order) to which he belongs? His motives have not been explained, but in the long run, does it matter?

The airwaves have also been filled with speculation of how the new Pope will make the Catholic Church “Relevant”. This is a spectacularly arrogant question posed by human secularists. They have been trying to train generations of children to consider religion to be marginalized and have had some success, probably on the order of 20 million people who really agree with them. With this backing they want to know how the Pope will make a church of 1 billion people relevant.

The question that is really being asked is, how is the Pope going to steer the Catholic Church to be more in line with the teachings of the American media and academia? Specifically, the pundits want to know how the Pope is going to embrace gay marriage and abortion. They will be shocked and appalled that he considers adoption by same sex couples to be child abuse and that he considers abortion to be murder. These are basic teachings of the Church that do not change just because of public opinion polls in New York City.

Will the Pope institute changes? Definitely. Will those changes deviate from the fundamental teachings of the Church? Definitely not. Every person in the world has their own beliefs and desires, those are not the concern of the Pope. The Pope has the responsibility of steering the largest single religious organization and organism in the world. He has to care for, speak for, answer for and teach over 1 billion people. In some ways he represents all Christians, even those who have specifically denied his authority.

Will his stance on cultural issues hold back the Church? To some the answer will be yes, to others the adherence to tradition will be comforting in a troubled world. All of us can pray that he makes good decisions and if you are religious, that he listens to the Holy Spirit and does what is right in the eye of God without consideration of the acclamations of men.

 

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My Preeclampsia Experience (Part 2)

March 14, 2013

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here. And now, the conclusion …
 

It was very hard being in the hospital. I didn’t get much rest in the hospital. A nurse or nurse’s assistant came in my room every 4 hours to take my vitals. Then a nurse would come in after that to give me medicine. Other medical people or staff came in other times too throughout the day. I hated it when people came in and saw that I was sleeping and then left. They woke me up so they should have stayed and just let me know what they wanted. This happened even when I had a sign on the door that said “Mommy is sleeping”.

It got depressing at time being in there all the time. I didn’t feel sick and I wanted to go home. It was difficult.

I told myself that it was better for me to be in the hospital than for my little daughter to be born and in the hospital. I could go on a 30 minute leave from the Mother / Baby Unit on a wheel chair ride. My husband took me on a wheel chair ride most days. We would sit outside or just go down hallways when it was raining.

When I got close to 34 weeks, the doctor told me that since baby and I were doing ok, that I was not going to have my baby at 34 weeks. My next goal was to get to 37 weeks. This is the longest they will let go when you have preeclampsia. It was kind of a letdown, but at the same time, it was great news. My baby had a better chance of surviving and being ok.

My blood pressure started going up again. I was at 36 weeks 3 days. My OB was the doctor on call that evening. She came in to see me. She recommended that I have a scheduled C-section the following morning. She said she would perform my C-section if she was fresh in the morning and that if she didn’t get enough sleep during the night (since she was on call) that she would have the doctor that was on duty in the morning perform my C-section. Luckily, she delivered my baby the next morning.

My baby scored 9 out of 10 on the APGAR test twice. I thought she would be ok and go to the newborn nursery and not the NICU. I didn’t get to hold her or touch her. I got to see her for a few seconds and the nurse took her away to the transition room to see if she would go to the newborn nursery or the NICU. My husband asked me if I wanted him to stay with me or go with our baby. I told him to go with our baby.

I was moved to a labor and delivery room. I was put on a magnesium IV that I would need to be on for 24 hours to help control my blood pressure so that I did not have a seizure. This is the standard protocol for preeclampsia. My husband came in without my baby. She was sent to the NICU for various reasons. I could not go see her since I was on the magnesium IV and she could not come to me since she was in the NICU. If she had gone to the newborn nursery, she could have came to my room even though I was not in the Mother/Baby unit where the nursery is located.

I was monitored heavily for the next 24 hours with someone coming in my room every 15 – 20 minutes. The only picture I had of my baby was on our camera on a very small screen.

About 27 hours after my baby was born, I finally got to go see her in the NICU. I was in extreme pain from the C-section and being immobile for over 24 hours. She was the most beautiful baby. Of course every parent thinks that about their own child. Unfortunately I didn’t get a room in the Mother/Baby unit since she was not in the nursery and all the rooms were full. I had to be in a room 3 floors from her. I didn’t get to go see my baby very much over the next 4 days due to my health issues and because I was on a different floor. My husband slept in our baby’s NICU room. He got to feed her and change her diaper. I couldn’t get up there to do those things. After 4 days of being in the NICU, she was able to move to the newborn nursery! I finally got moved that night into the Mother/Baby unit with my baby.

The next day my blood pressure was still high. The high risk OB let me go home though even though it was over the limit they said it could be to be discharged from the hospital. I went home on blood pressure medicine. I had to monitor my blood pressure at home and take medicine for a while.

My baby was enrolled in a preemie program to monitor her until age 3. That program monitors preemies and provides development assistance when needed.

I realize that both my daughter and I could have died from preeclampsia. I didn’t realize that then since I felt fine. I never felt sick from the preeclampsia. I am very grateful that my daughter is now a healthy, active, and healthy 5 year old.

My Preeclampsia Experience

March 13, 2013

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End of NCAA Basketball Regular Season

March 12, 2013

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Basketball Post Season Musings

As we wind down the collegiate basketball season, there are a couple of big things to still play out. It is time to reflect on the win and loss record of your favorite team and look forward to post season tournaments, or other moves for your favorite squad…which might be a change of venue.

The high schoolers in my area have just wrapped up their state titles, and in Lincoln, Nebraska, that also brings an end to the Bob Devaney Sportscenter.

Smoke Em if you Got Em.

LIL' RED Nebraska Husker mascot

LIL’ RED

Affectionately called “The Bob” the Basketball arena is in fact a multi-use facility. It house the swimming and diving programs for the University of Nebraska, was home to some Olympians and NCAA titles for Gymnastics, and has one of the fastest and best indoor track facilities in the country.

These sports are not as mainstream for the fans, so it was also known as the basketball arena.

A little known fact is that the construction of the building was under a bunch of scrutiny from the get go. The building was built at a cost of under 14 million dollars (of course remember this was the early 70’s and that was a LOT more money then) Most all of the funding was provided by cigarette taxes in the State of Nebraska. Ironically the Devaney Center has always been a non-smoking facility.

Nebraska landscape 07-25-2012

Nebraska

The place was truly state of the art on the National level when it opened in 1976. Over the years the Bob hosted 3 different NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament games ( in 1980-84 and 88) Many who had visited the Devaney Center did so after the heyday of Nebraska basketball, or as longtime fans call it….NeeBrasketball, after coach Danny Nee.

In 1986 Nee was hired to replace Moe Iba, the son of legendary basketball mind Henry “ Hank” Iba. Nee coached the Huskers from 1986 to 2000. In his tenure, Nebraska became a team to be reckoned with in the conference, as they went to 5 NCAA tournaments, and won the NIT tourney in 1996. There has not been as much success at Nebraska before or since the Nee years.

The crowds in those days, and even during the highlight of the Iba years often exceeded capacity by 1,000 or more. It was standing room only. The place was loud, and it was a great building to watch a game.

I should know, my dad has had season tickets since the place was built…and I have attended most every one of those 595 games over 37 years.

Bye Bye Birdie

Pope in Fatima

Introducing the new Big East commish

With the new Catholic 7 league…which will evidently use the Big East name, 7 schools DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, and Villanova have agreed to be in the new conference. There are a host of other schools that are hoping to be asked. Among those rumored to be are schools such as Butler, Xavier and, most likely, Creighton. It is also expected that Dayton and St. Louis would come into the party in 2014.

Suddenly my Blue Bird friends of a Creighton Feather talk about the Missouri Valley – , a conference they have been so proud of for so long, – as a second rate citizen. Sport talk radio in Omaha is already planning trips to the Big Apple, and is talking about the fantastic match ups on the basketball court.

This makes me realize how much Husker fans scorned the old Big XII, and how much they lauded the Big 10 when they were leaving just a couple of years ago. Of course the main difference is the Huskers were eating at the big kid’s table already.

Creighton has traditionally had some very good basketball teams over the years, and the Mo Valley is likely one of the more heralded mid-major conferences. But playing the likes of Evansville, Northern Iowa and Illinois State is a long way from playing Villanova, Georgetown, and Marquette night in and night out.

While you might enjoy seeing a much higher level of talent and athleticism coming to your arena 10 times a year, you also better forget the days of the 20 wins season. You won’t be rolling along as the league favorite any time soon with those teams on your league schedule.

Until Next time, get those pencils sharpened for Selection Sunday, and may your brackets be full of correct upset winners.

 

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The Election of a New Pope

March 11, 2013

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These are historic times. For the first time since the late 1200s, a Pope has resigned. Like a monarch, the Pope has never really had an opportunity to retire, they have died in place. Even the other Pope who resigned, Celestine V, did not really retire. Shortly after his departure the next Pope had him arrested and imprisoned for the last two years of his life. Celestine (nee Peter) considered himself too old to fill the post which he held for only 15 months. He had been a hermit, and wanted to return to that life. He was in his mid to late 80s, the records are not that precise.

The current events could possibly be one of the most intelligent moves made by an elder statesman in recent history. Pope Benedict recognized that his age was impeding his ability to function as the Pope and he is stepping aside. This is a grand opportunity for all of the Cardinals to be involved in the conclave without the overshadowing cloud of morning for a deceased Pope. In the modern age, access has not been as much of a problem as in the past. At least half of the Cardinals must be present, but until the 20th century, there was seldom more than that minimum available. The conclave is supposed to start ten days after the death (or resignation) of the last Pope. The conclave should not last very long, but history has shown conclaves to last years.

The conclave is closed, no communications with the outside world until a decision is made. This isolation provides a contemplative atmosphere to allow the Cardinals to pray and listen for direction from the Holy Spirit. To the non-religious and even to non Catholics, this may seem quaint or odd, but the Cardinals do meditate and try to discern the best choice by a spiritual method. The votes are written on slips of paper, which are counted first to make sure there are only as many votes as Cardinals, then for a majority vote for each name. These ballots are burned whether there is a choice or not. Chemicals are added to the ballots to make the smote black when there is no choice and white when a choice has been made. The choice is made when one name gets more than 2/3s of the vote. Any Catholic man older than 18 is eligible, but for the last 200 years, the choice has almost exclusively from the council of Cardinals.

When the new Pope is selected, there are several major issues that will have to be addressed. Some of these issues have not been mentioned in any media, but are important none the less. High on the list and mostly forgotten is the fait of several priests who were accused of sexual abuse who have taken refuge in the Vatican. It is interesting that the Church has taken the stand that there are no boarders when discussion American immigration policy, but the boarders of the Vatican are intact for protecting a small group from prosecution. There is an assumption of innocence, but running and hiding in the Vatican does not allow justice to be served. The Church has complete sway on matters spiritual within the Church, but matters of civil crime must be addressed by civil authorities.

Another major issue that is not high on the public attention, is the reorganization of the Church hierarchy. The balance of Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals is still based on the distribution of the Church in the fifteenth century. The tradition of the leader of a specific parish having a certain position must be addressed, similar to the dead districts in the English Parliament. There are a disproportionate number of high offices in Italy and a sad lack in Latin America.

Married Priests are an issue as well. Many would claim that this is an innovation, but in truth, priests were not required to be celibate for several centuries into the history of the Church. Peter the Apostle himself was married. Celibacy is a special commitment. Celibate priests will always be necessary for the health of the Church, but allowing married priests will prevent the crisis of priesthood that has been building over the last few decades. It may surprise many that there are married priests in the Church. If an Anglican, Episcopal or Orthodox priest converts to Catholicism, that Priest may be a priest in the Catholic Church without having to give up his wife.

The new Pope will have many additional concerns. He must address them while having the specter of the resigned Pope living just on the edge of view. He must continue the drive that Pope John-Paul II started in developing interest in the Church among young people. He must continue the fiscal cleaning that Pope Benedict started to keep the Church solvent.

In the end, the Cardinals will choose. For the good of the Church, all Catholics and most Christians are praying for their choice to be inspired.

The Big Move: The End Is Near

March 7, 2013

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The End is Near

The countdown is on! I am still cautiously optimistic as we have had some delays with our construction, but the mortgage interest rate is locked in, we have given notice to the apartment complex where we have been living, and the final choices on interior things have been made.

Final Choices

The final choices included carpet colors, and of course interior wall colors. We also had to pick out the bathroom light fixtures, the hardware for all of the doors and windows, and a couple of exterior lights. It is really hard to imagine all of the different things you have the opportunity to select if you are building a home for the first time.

Some of the other choices are not so obvious. Do you want a wall mount for your television here? Where do you want your outlets and light switches? Do they flow and make sense when you go through the house? Where do you want the tile to stop and the carpet to start around your walk out basement door? So many decisions, many of them are not big decisions, but at the same time, once you make them you are never going back.

Great Ideas From Our Builder

AT-4 Spigot anti-tank guided missile system

Extra Spigot near the garage

Our builder is a genuinely nice guy and also has a great eye for aesthetics and for things that make sense. “ You might want to add a gas line to your deck for your grill.” I would have never thought about this. Initially I was opposed. After running this by a few other friends it appeared this was the best thing since the invention of OREO cookies.

“How about an extra water spigot near the garage?” Why didn’t I think of that? – This one makes total sense…Yes Please!

“We can stain the cement on your front entry and porch area, it breaks it up and makes it blend into the environment better. We can also do something similar in your unfinished storage area in the basement” – This one I have to see a little more to buy in, but we do have a lot of concrete from the sidewalk to the front porch, so I am thinking this will be a smart move as well.

Starting to Look Like Home

At this point, every trip to check out the house is entertaining. You can see progress being done literally every day. The house looks like a house now, and the inside is starting to look like a place I will be living for a long time. My son has already gone from one playroom (which is essentially one of the spare bedrooms) to now having three playrooms when he gives tours of the house to friends who are in town or want to check out progress. I hope we get moved in soon, or I will be living in the garage as he will claim a couple more playrooms for his LEGO kingdom.

Calling All Cars

The last big thing we need to do- once things are ready – is move in. I have never been a big fan of moving, I don’t know anyone that is. The one positive is you get rid of a lot of things you don’t need anymore. We look to be moving in the last week of March…right up against Easter. I am hoping I find some friends who don’t have the entire weekend filled with church, family meals, and egg hunts and I can get a few willing and able bodies to help us get the majority of stuff to our new domicile.

My wife and I both agree we will take our time un-packing. This might even give us a good start to another garage sale once the weather gets a bit warmer. I am going to need to have some extra money to pay for all of these house warming parties I have promised to so many people!

Regardless it will be a lot of packing, stacking, unpacking, placing and re-arranging.

I sure hope the Easter Bunny brings me some Tylenol!

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Baseball is Back

March 6, 2013

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There may be snow on the ground in your neck of the woods, but it’s time for baseball to begin!  Baseball is already alive and well.

Spring Training

Spring training began in mid-February, and games have been underway for a while now.  If you subscribe to MLB.TV, you can watch these games on various types of smart devices (not all games are available).  I’ve tried to connect from an iPhone (worked great), Roku (slightly awkward, but worked), Kindle Fire (didn’t work on the first day, but games are now available), and my Panasonic Blu-Ray player (still doesn’t have the Spring Training games).

I’m switching from MLB Extra innings to MLB.TV this year.  Overall, I think it’s a good switch.  MLB Extra Innings is $200.  The base MLB.TV package is $109.99 (for computers only).  It costs $20 more for connected devices (which includes the iPhone, Roku, and Blu-Ray player).  I opted to buy the minor league package for $20, which will allow me to watch some minor league games (only on a computer sadly).  That’s more value than MLB Extra Innings, for $50 less.

I won’t pretend that MLB.TV is perfect, though.  Each device I’ve used has a different interface, and the differences generally aren’t related to the technical constraints of the device.  In a perfect world, the experience should be nearly identical on every device.  Even worse, the fact that the spring training games are available on some devices and not others is unforgivable.  The availability of minor league games only on computers is also very perplexing – why not make these games more readily available instead of forcing people to their computers?

Fantasy Baseball

My fantasy baseball league draft is under way.  We have a very unconventional setup.  We can only start one player for each letter of the alphabet (last name).  The changes player valuation considerably.  For the draft, owners are randomly assigned 2 letters for each of the 10 rounds, and can pick any player from those letters.

I’m through the first twenty picks of the draft and at this point no major holes are evident.  I got my infield in order first, and then filled out the rest of the team.  I’ve tried to get a bit too cute in recent year – notably, last year trying to corner the market on good catchers to create demand – and it had generally bitten me in the rear.  This year I played it pretty much straight up.

World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic

World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic is well under way.  Cuba and Japan have advanced from pool A and Chinese Taipei and The Netherlands from pool B.  Pool C and D (in Puerto Rico and the U.S.) begin play this week.  By the time you read this, Japan and Cuba will be near the end of their much anticipate game.  Both have already clinched spots in round 2, but the winner gets a better seed in the second round.

I’ve had the good fortune to watch bits and pieces of a few different games so far, and it’s definitely enjoyable baseball.  It’s nice to see fresh faces as a reminder that baseball in not just a sport in the Americas.

The WBC staggers the games, with two players from each pool playing the first day, before all the teams are in the fray on day two.  It might be good from a PR perspective, but it’s horrible from the standpoint of fair play.  For example, let’s look at pool A.  Japan and Brazil played on the first day, matching their aces.  On day two, they each played teams who hadn’t played yet – meaning that they also had to face that team’s ace – and obviously couldn’t match with their ace, who had started the previous game.  In the case of Brazil, they faced Cuba’s ace in the second game.  This setup creates an unfair advantage for the team that are idle on the first day.

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Review: Hotel Transylvania

March 4, 2013

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Here is another in a series of movie reviews. This week, the topic is “Hotel Transylvania”. The basic story is a protective single dad with a teenage daughter who wants her freedom. The twist is that they are vampires, not the sparkling melodramatic vampires from “Twilight”, but a cartoon version of Count Dracula and his daughter. To protect his daughter, the Count builds a resort for monsters, safe from people.

The movie covers just the weekend of Mavis’ (the count’s daughter) birthday. All of the classic monsters are in attendance, but the security is not what the count thinks it is. A human shows up. The mayhem and slapstick that ensues involves the Count trying not to kill the uninvited guest and hiding him from the rest of the monsters. This is both to save his resort and protect his daughter. The problem is, the young people fall in love.

This is definitely a family, focusing on younger children, type movie. Great escape from politics, world events and the economy. It is a cartoon, so do not expect much in deep thought. Fun for all and worth renting. It is long past being in theaters, even rerun and discount theaters.