Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Here I go again...

I don't know what kind of access Michael Vick has had to newspapers, magazines and the Internet in prison, but it seems like the news that he is no longer a hot commodity has not yet filtered down to Michael Vick.

In papers he submitted to a bankruptcy court, Vick indicated that he plans on making $10 million per season, which I'm pretty sure would be a record for an ex-con who had a career quarterback rating of 75.7 when he went away. From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

The embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback is hoping to earn as much as $10 million a year or more, according to court filings in his bankruptcy case. Under the plan he submitted to the court, Vick would keep the first $750,000 of his annual income over the next five years. After that, a percentage would go to his creditors based on a sliding scale. [...]

In a March 4 court filing, Vick’s attorneys say he “has every reason to believe upon his release, he will be reinstated into the NFL, resume his career and be able to earn a substantial living.”
“He is hopeful to play quarterback,” Daniel Meachum, an attorney and business manager for Vick, said in an interview. “There is no person with his talent in that position in all the league.”
That may have been true at one time, but there are also no quarterbacks in the league who have spent the last nine months sitting in a jail cell and eating prison food. I'm not a nutritionist or anything, but I'm pretty sure that's not what NFL team doctors would recommend for keeping a guy in optimum game shape.

I, of course, had to comment. This article is getting a ton of buzz. I couldn't find my comment to post here there is so much activity. Ultimately, I think my Dad is right, Vick will be too old and too out of shape to be competitive. Whether he has worked out in prison or not, he has been limited in what he can do. I think his ego is too big, and he hasn't learned his lesson. I think he believes he is the victim here and will think it until he dies, and that is too bad. Truly, he could do some good. Someone commented that dog fighting has gone on for decades and still goes on. That doesn't make it right, doesn't make it any more legal, and certainly doesn't give someone the opportunity to go back to their lifestyle when they have received their proverbial slap on the wrist. I will repeat myself, he ran this operation for seven years, knowing it was illegal, knowing it was a felony, and knowing it became federal when he crossed state lines, and he did anyway. He was beyond cruel and he is a menace to society. I really hope he never plays again, but he probably will.

How's this for a grandiose thought...

I've ordered some things from Hazeldon for our group. As we start discussing new topics or working new study programs, Hazeldon seems to have the most comprehensive study guides to help us. As a result I have received some emails regarding becoming an addiction counselor. It somewhat appeals to me as a choice of profession because it is one way to give back what was given to me. However, I'm still an alcoholic with an alcoholic mind, whether I'm drinking or not, and therefore prone to grandiose thoughts that I am able to keep in check today because I am sober. Thank you God.

So here's the latest grandiose thought: Study to become an addiction counselor, get certified and go to work for Crossroads Center in Antigua (Eric Clapton's recovery clinic), write my books on the beach in my spare time, and give back to the world what I received.

Who knows what grandiose thought may become a goal that is possible to achieve because through the grace of Good Orderly Direction, my group, and my support system, I am sober again today.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Big issues

A friend celebrated five years sobriety this morning. He described a friend of his who has struggled and lost his battle. This friend is going back to prison, and will likely be there the rest of his life. In the process, he wrecked several lives along with his own. I am sorry for his friend, I understand how hard it is to fight that battle, and to really understand my only hope of victory is complete surrender. Alcohol brought me to my knees over and over and over again, and it almost took me from this world, I have no doubt. It took a lot for me to understand that there are significant consequences for my actions (my Dad used that phrase frequently while I was growing up, and I finally get it...I'm a little slow).

I hear those stories of failure and as bad as I feel for that person, it reminds me that today because I'm sober I have choices. My big issue this morning was whether to go ahead and sign up for a writing seminar in Gunnison in June. It's the end of the month, rent is due, and I'm going to just make it. So I decided no. Then I looked again, and decided that yes, I can swing it despite my abysmal budgeting techniques, the money is there and I have the choice today to participate. So I will.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pet accidents

(CNN) -- Dogs and cats soothe the soul and provide companionship, but a report released this week suggests they sometimes cause broken bones and sprains, too.

Most data on human-pet relationships have been devoted to the health benefits, such as lower blood pressure.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that every year, more than 86,000 fall injuries are caused by pets. Dogs are the biggest culprits, causing 88 percent of the injuries. Cats cause 11.7 percent of the falls, according to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

CDC researchers formulated the national estimates based on data from 66 emergency rooms.
"Many of them occurred while people were walking their dog or chasing either their dog or cat," said Judy Stevens, an epidemiologist with the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. "Over half the injuries with dogs were either falls or tripping over the pet or they were pushed or pulled by the pet."

Pets can suddenly rush to the door or scurry around the owners' feet, causing these accidents, experts said.

At least once a week, a patient injured by an overexcited dog or an unexpected chew toy walks into the office of Dr. Leon S. Benson, an orthopedic surgeon and chief of hand surgery at the NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois. These patients often have wrist fractures after falling on an outstretched hand.

You would think I would have the strongest abs and back muscles on the planet from bending over and picking up Callie's toys so I don't trip over them in the middle of the night! I don't worry about Abbie injuring me, she's too busy tripping over herself! :-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

(CNN) -- Connie and Donald McCracken were watching CNN one evening last week when they learned of the tragic death of actress Natasha Richardson from a head injury. Immediately, their minds turned to their 7-year-old daughter, Morgan, who was upstairs getting ready for bed.

Two days earlier, Morgan, her father, and brother had been playing baseball in the yard of their Mentor, Ohio, home when her father hit a line drive that landed just above Morgan's left temple. A lump formed, but the McCrackens iced it down and the swelling subsided within an hour.

"For the next two days, she was perfectly fine," Donald McCracken says. "She had no symptoms. She went to school both days and got an A on her spelling test as usual. There were no issues whatsoever."

But after hearing about Richardson's death, the McCrackens wondered if Morgan was really as OK as she seemed. After all, Richardson had been talking and lucid immediately after her fatal injury.

When they went upstairs to kiss Morgan good night, she complained of a headache. "Because of Natasha, we called the pediatrician immediately. And by the time I got off the phone with him, Morgan was sobbing, her head hurt so much," McCracken says.

The McCrackens took Morgan to the emergency room at LakeWest Hospital in neighboring Willoughby, where doctors ordered a CT scan and immediately put Morgan on a helicopter to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, with her father by her side.

"I knew it was bad when she had to get there by helicopter in six minutes, instead of the 30 minutes it would have taken to get to Cleveland in an ambulance," McCracken said.

When the helicopter arrived at Rainbow, the McCrackens were greeted by Dr. Alan Cohen, the hospital's chief of pediatric neurosurgery. He whisked Morgan into the operating room, pausing for a moment to tell McCracken that his daughter had the same injury as Richardson: an epidural hematoma.

McCracken remembers standing in the emergency room, feeling like the life had just been sucked out of him. "My heart sank," he says. "It just sank."

Unlike Richardson's, Morgan's story has a happy ending. After surgery and five days in the hospital, she's at home and doing fine. "Dr. Cohen told us that if we hadn't brought her in Thursday night, she never would have woken up," McCracken says.

Now the McCrackens sometimes wonder if they waited too long to get Morgan to a doctor. After hearing about Richardson's death, many people are asking themselves the same question: Do all head injuries need attention, even ones that seem minor?

"Sometimes there's a gray zone, and there's no right answer," Cohen says.

In most cases, it's pretty clear when someone needs medical attention after a head injury, says Greg Ayotte, a spokesperson for the Brain Injury Association of America and a cognitive rehabilitation therapist. "They're confused, they're agitated, or they might be dizzy or unresponsive," he says.

But then there's what doctors call the "talk and die" scenario, where someone seems fine, only to die hours, or sometimes even days later.

"Talk and die" can happen with several different kinds of brain injuries. In the case of epidural hematomas, the injury Richardson and Morgan had, blood pools in the area between the lining of the brain and the skull. "Fluid is building up in a contained space, creating pressure. Something's got to give, and that something is the brain," Ayotte says. If you don't get to the hospital to have surgery to drain the fluid, "the deterioration can happen very quickly."

This is where I feel lucky. I had a head injury six years ago. I hit my head so hard that I created a skull fracture so the blood had somewhere to drain, but I had months of rehabilitation and still have some problems with my vision and vestibular system. The best way it was explained to me is that if the blood is not drained it pools in your head, which is your bodies CPU, and shuts it down, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. It took famed Dr. Atkins 18 months to die from a closed head injury. I'm glad that Megan is alright, and I disagree with Dr. Cohen. There is no grey area. Head injuries have to be looked at, and if nothing is wrong, all the better, but letting them go can spell death. As a parent, I couldn't live with that.

A perfect day

Yesterday I wanted to spend the day in my jammy's doing nothing. I didn't do that. Instead I took Callie out to Devil's Canyon and walked for a long time enjoying nature and the beauty surrounding me. I came home and completed chores and took a very long nap. Today I carried out my plan from yesterday, though I didn't stay in my PJ's. I got up and went to a meeting, a great way to start any day. I love what Ted Danson says, "everyone should be in a 12-step program". Well put. Then I came home and proceeded to do nothing. I watched "Finding Neverland" and got to thinking about my own writing and lately my clear avoidance of any of it. I researched James Barrie after the film and discovered some interesting things about him that are true for all successful writers. Writing was his priority, and any writers priority no matter what is happening in their life. Mine is sobriety, then I give lip service to my writing. I have found that if I am dutiful and disciplined, I can have more than one priority. So for the rest of the day I have focused on it. I sent my internal editor on a long hike off a short pier and went to work on a draft that has been in mind for some time. I have to believe that it will come together...somehow. It is a story that wants to be told. It shows up in my dreams on a regular basis, it follows me through the day, and peeks around the corner when I am in the midst of avoiding it. I don't have faith that I will ever be published, that would mean I would have to show someone my work! But I have faith that I will write with zeal again, no matter what, if I show up on the page. This afternoon I wandered out to Barnes & Noble and spent a significant amount of time looking at titles and authors and spent too much money...I consider it an investment...and wanted to be on the shelves...someday. This is an almost perfect day for me. To make it perfect I would have taken Callie for a hike again, but alas it was snowing and windy. The weather is a terrific predictor of whether I will spend time on the page or not. The worse the weather, the more bored I get and more my mind wanders to all that is possible when I am alone in the room.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Now or Never

The above is the title of a new book by Jack Cafferty, a reporter for CNN who appears on "The Situation Room" daily. I read an article that contains an excerpt from the book. He discusses in detail his alcoholism and the last final, devastating days of drinking. I have copied a paragraph that spoke to me below. One of the things I really appreciate about "celebrities" and "people in public" discussing their issues around addiction is that it galvanizes for me that this disease does not discriminate. It really doesn't care how much money you make, your position with a company, your IQ, your social network. Addiction will take you to your knees regardless of status in the community and bank balance. I also appreciate them sharing their sagas because people who have never struggled with addiction have an incredibly hard time wrapping their heads around why someone would destroy themselves in such a manner, especially someone who appears to have it all; they should struggle with this understanding, I know this addict did for a very long time. I would never want anyone to really suffer the hell I suffered, but when others talk about their struggle with it, they reach out to the world and, my hope, is on some level, they help create a little more compassion for the person who still suffers. This is not to say that anyone should ever have to continue to live with an addict, they have to take care of themselves first, it is up to the addict to find support among other like individuals and find their own way back.

There was a relentless, unspoken tension between us caused by the chemical I was addicted to. Eventually, your personality splits apart; you're living a lie and a scary double life. It requires tremendous mental energy to stay in that game and keep living that lie, all the more so with two young kids in the house bearing witness to the worst of it. You know you're not fooling anyone, least of all your spouse. And as my ability to handle the booze diminished over time, I needed more of it, and it began to consume me. I just wanted to walk through my career and do the drinking; do the marriage and do the drinking; do the parenting and do the drinking. How many drinks do you have at dinner when you go out? Do you drink at home before you go out and have more drinks at dinner? What about after dinner? Believe it or not, these are real questions that go through the addicted mind. Not, What do I wear? Is the babysitter lined up with snacks and stuff to do with the kids? Etc. It is ALL about the drinking and where the next drink will come from, and how much we think we can get away with drinking. Cafferty captures very directly and simply the mind of an addict...everytime I read things like this, I am grateful to be sober one more day.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's the Altitude

Boulder sits in the Colorado foothills at about 5,300 feet. One of the things I loved about living in Boulder was the proximity to the mountains and mountain towns at high altitude, usually starting at about 9,000 feet, that offered great outdoor activity. I adore getting up into the mountains and hiking and just enjoying the freedom and air. I love being at high altitudes, views are tremendous there. I have done some amazing hikes through Colorado and know that I've seen things you can never see from a car. But I also love short road trips. One that I was particularly fond of was driving to Nederland for breakfast at a quaint little breakfast bar and then taking a nice relaxing ride over the Peak to Peak highway (it is a two lane highway that runs from one 14k peak to another) and it's incredible majestic views that lead to Estes Park, where lunch may be in order. Then it could be either back to Boulder or over Trail Ridge Road (the highest paved road in America) and dinner at the Grand Lake Lodge, and then home, or a stay over at about 9,000 feet, where I have found I always sleep really well. The really great thing about Colorado is the endless assortment of outdoor recreation and unbelievable beauty to behold on a regular basis. It really is very easy to simply turn your head here and see something absolutely breathtaking. I really believe there is nothing more beautiful than the Colorado mountains. I think others have thought so as well and have staked a claim at their base.

And then there are those who have decided living at high altitude year round suits them better. And following is how they celebrate life in thin air (maybe Nederland should consider and oxygen bar):

NEDERLAND — The snow began to pick up Saturday afternoon in Nederland, making the
muddy ground at Chipeta Park even more slippery. Still, Gordon's Ghouls looked confident as they stood poised at the starting line.

"Five! Four! Three! Two! One!" The large crowd surrounding the obstacle course counted down with the race's announcer. When the orange flag dropped, the Ghouls lifted their sturdy wood coffin and took off toward the first hill of ice.

This was the first time any of the seven team members had participated in the coffin race at Frozen Dead Guy Days. Donning ghostly white face paint with hollow black eyes and tears of red rolling down their cheeks, they joined a field of theme competitors, which included the Irish,
NASA astronauts and Charles Darwin.

"I don't think there's really a good reason for anyone to run in this. It just looked like fun," said Gordon Kearns, the team's namesake.

There was an incentive — $300 was on the line for the first-place team. The race was set up in a one-on-one tournament style, with the winners moving on to the next round. Losers were burdened to go enjoy the food, beer and live music from the event's nearby main tent.

Frozen Dead Guy Days is Nederland's way of celebrating the end of short winter days. It parties in the spirit of Grandpa Bredo Morstoel, a cryogenically frozen corpse who remains chilled in a shed above town thanks to monthly deliveries of dry ice that keep his temperature at minus-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

For the coffin race, each team builds its own vessel that one of the members will lie in. The other six must carry it around the track, trudging through a mix of gravel, mud and ice that makes traction a challenge.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The genocide continues...

WILKESBORO - A Superior Court judge yesterday ordered that Wilkes County destroy more than 127 pit bulls seized from a dog-fighting ring, angering people who had offered to adopt the dogs or help with their placement.

"Those dogs are going to be killed solely because of prejudice," said Ledy VanKavage, an attorney for Best Friends Animal Society, which had offered to pay to have the dogs evaluated and to spay or neuter the adoptable dogs.

"They should be judged as individuals just as people are," VanKavage said. "It's a massacre."

County officials have said they would abide by a judge's order, but that the judge didn't have a lot of choice. They said that state statutes define dogs involved in dog-fighting operations as dangerous and that a county ordinance requires that dangerous dogs be destroyed. That was yesterday's finding by Superior Court Judge Ed Wilson Jr.

The 127 pit bulls, including about 60 puppies, were seized on Dec. 10 during a raid on Wildside Kennels. It's unclear exactly how many dogs there are now. The dogs are being held in a secret location, and several litters of puppies have been born since the raid. After court yesterday, county officials estimated that there are about 150 dogs now.

Kennel owner Ed Faron, 61, pleaded guilty Thursday to 14 counts of felony dog fighting and was sentenced to 8 to 10 months in prison. His adopted son, Donni Juan Casanova, 18, pleaded guilty to one count of felony dog fighting and was given a suspended sentence of 6 to 8 months.

Wilson ordered the dogs destroyed yesterday after hearing from a prosecutor, the attorney for Wilkes County government, Wilkes County's animal-control director and two representatives from The Humane Society of the U.S., who all called for the dogs be euthanized.

Faron is author of a few books on breeding, training and promoting dog fighting. His books were the ones I contacted Amazon about not selling, which they refused to do. Maybe this will get some people's attention. This son-of-a-bitch really needs to be castrated. I'm livid! However, at the same time I am grateful that we have law enforcement committed to putting an end to these barbaric acts that people like him have somehow wrapped in their minds as social entertainment. This was a long, extensive investigation. Faron will go to jail, and for the rest of his natural life, he will be monitored, and therefore will not likely be able to continue his stock and trade...I hope.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Breed Specific Legislation

Breed Specific Bans A group of laws that bans particular breeds, usually pit bulls (a type of dog, not a breed) and sometimes Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Akitas, Dobermans, Chow Chows, and a few others. These laws are usually passed after several attacks by a particular breed so that city councils can assure citizens they are “doing something” about a voter concern.

But breed bans don't work. They target all dogs of a breed -- the innocent as well as the guilty; are difficult to enforce; and do not end the use of guardian dogs by criminals. If pit bulls in their various incarnations are banned, drug dealers and other felons switch to another breed or mix. In the meantime, the ill-tempered terrier mix that bites the hand that feeds it and the poorly-bred purebred that attacks the neighborhood children pose a far greater danger to people than the obedience-trained American Staffordshire Terrier that is a registered therapy dog but cannot step foot inside the city.

Far better than breed-specific bans are strict laws to control aggressive dogs of any breed or mix. Known as generic vicious dog laws, they put restrictions on the ownership of dogs that pose a danger to people, restrictions such as confinement in locked, escape-proof kennels while outdoors on the owner's property; muzzles when the dog is off the property; and purchase of a liability insurance policy.

This is from one of the Pit-Bull rescue sites, and supports the arguments I have been making against BSL. As a dog owner of a mixed breed that likely contains some American Stafforshire blood, I would no more like to believe that Callie would attack another dog or human than I will believe that Tinkerbell is going to fly through my window in the spring. The reality is that Callie is dog, regardless of breed, she is a dog and is likely to behave like a dog, which means my responsibility as an owner is to leash her, exercise her and manage her around other dogs. I am amazed every single day by the number of people who walk their dogs off leash in my town and as their unleashed dog approaches my dog who is on a leash, they give a defensive, "he's very friendly". They don't know. Dogs are dogs. They can be extremely friendly in one instance and decidedly unfriendly in another. I compare it to people who see each other and either like each other immediately or dislike each other on sight. What terrifies me most is that if my dog were to get into an altercation with one of these unleashed animals, even if my dog is under my command, she will be the one that gets the bad press because of her "type". She is an extremely gentle, submissive and curious puppy, and my job is to be responsible for any and all behavior she exhibits, good and bad. I also have to constantly evaluate whether she is leaning towards exhibiting bad behavior and correct it immediately. I keep harping on this topic because it is very personal to me, and because I firmly believe this genocide has to stop, it will never be the right answer.