Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sports: 3 days to go until U$C vs. UCLA

1996.

Clinton had beaten Dole for re-election.

UCLA and USC were terrible that year.

I lived and worked in suburban Maryland.

The UCLA alumni club of Washington DC takes over a downtown sports bar for the big game each year. I decided to go down to watch even though I heard radio updates saying UCLA was down. I got to the bar where I saw Jennifer, the vivacious club president, and asked her what the score was. She shook her head and said it didn't look good: USC 38-21 and it was already mid-fourth quarter.

I found a bit of wall space (yes, I'm the DEFINITION of wall flower at a party) next to another UCLA alum. I found out he was working for the White House Counsel's office. Okay, so he is a democrat and I'm a republican but today, we are BRUIN fans!

Cade McNown and the Bruins began an improbable rally managing to tie the game by scoring 17 unanswered points to send it into overtime. The place was going crazy with every UCLA success.

I don't remember when the NCAA instituted the "shootout" overtime system but this was the first and only overtime USC vs. UCLA game thus far.

The two teams swapped field goals in the first overtime. Then UCLA scored a TD to take a 48-41 lead. USC had the next possession but wasn't able to score.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Sports: Wanton speculation - BCS stuffs

If everyone holds serve, I'd look for this line-up for the BCS bowls:
Rose - USC vs. Texas
Fiesta - Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Orange - Va Tech vs. Penn State
Sugar - LSU vs. West Virginia

If Texas loses to Colorado:
Rose - USC vs. Penn State
Fiesta - Colorado vs. Notre Dame
Orange - Va Tech vs. Texas
Sugar - LSU vs. West Virginia

As you can see, I think a loss by Texas knocks them out of the championship unlike Nebraska and Oklahoma which lost the Big12 championship in the past and still wound up in the BCS championship only to get crushed!

If Va Tech loses to FSU:
Rose - USC vs. Texas
Fiesta - Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Orange - Florida State vs. Penn State
Sugar - LSU vs. West Virginia

I'm afraid that if the Hokies lose, they finish the season 10-2 and out of the BCS mix.

If LSU loses to Georgia:
Rose - USC vs. Texas
Fiesta - Notre Dame vs. Ohio State
Orange - Va Tech vs. Penn State
Sugar - Georgia vs. West Virginia

I think that the Tigers at 10-2 would not garner at at-large bid.

If USC loses to UCLA:
Rose - Penn State vs. Texas
Fiesta - USC vs. Notre Dame
Orange - Va Tech vs. Ohio State
Sugar - LSU vs. West Virginia

Unfortunately, for UCLA, even if they win and finish the season 10-1, they would still be locked out. Ohio State and Notre Dame pretty much have a lock on the at-large bids. Only a Texas loss dislodges one of them.

Another one loss team, Oregon, is more or less is in the same boat as UCLA. Since Oregon lost to USC by a wide margin, there is no realistic scenario where a Bowl committee would pick them over ND or OSU either.

I think the only way for UCLA to get a BCS bid is if they beat USC substantially (better than one touchdown) but even then, will the Orange Bowl take UCLA over Ohio State?

Probably not.

Is there a scenario where USC loses to UCLA and still winds up in the BCS championship game?

If Texas also loses, USC might only slip to #2 and face #1 Penn State. A Texas loss to unranked Colorado would hurt them a lot and an LSU win over Georgia might not lift them from #4 to #2. If USC, Texas and LSU lose, then I can don't see Va Tech jumping from #5 to #2 and so USC could still hold onto the #2 spot.

UPDATE: Here is some speculation from Pittsburgh's Post-Gazette. In the article, there is an interesting little tidbit:
But if Texas and USC win out, then Penn State is left to the vagaries of fate and men wearing expensive suits. Granted, each remaining BCS bowl enters a draft to pick their teams, but all bowls -- the Fiesta, the Sugar and the Orange -- are subject to one disclaimer deserving more than small print: "The [bowl matchups] may be adjusted by the conference and the institutions participating in the BCS, in consultation with the BCS bowls and ABC, in the interest of creating the most exciting and competitive postseason matchups possible."

To translate: Don't make your travel plans just yet.
I thought that the BCS bowls were bound by their conference tie-ins but it would seem that is not the case. Thus, the BCS formula spits out the #1 and #2, teams that qualify by virtue of being conference champions and a very short list of approved at-large teams. After the Rose gets their #1 and #2 teams, the other three BCS bowls pick from the rest of the pile. They would probably pick teams with conference tie-ins but if there is a team they think might fill their stadiums better, they could do so.

UPDATE: Stewart Mandel is paid to engage in wanton speculation about the BCS in the Yahoo! Sports SI.com column.

Sports: 4 days to go until U$C vs. UCLA

How do people become fans?

In some cases, multiple generations of their family went to one school or the other.

One of my USC friends went there as did his father and grandfather!

In my family, my brother and I were the first ones to go to a four-year college. My brother being older went first and indeed, he went to UCLA. So I suppose my being a fan of UCLA started then.

At that time, UCLA was the basketball school and USC the football school in the handful of years after John Wooden. Alas, in these 30 years since Wooden's retirement, UCLA has only made it to the NCAA finals twice winning it all in 1995. So in that regard the glory days of UCLA basketball are now a faded memory. The championship banners hanging in Pauley no longer haunt UCLA coaches like they used to.

By the time, I got to college, I went to UCLA as well, the school's football team was garnering the good press and the basketball team was described with the headline, "Bruins in Ruins."

Terry Donahue was the coach of the team at the time I was at UCLA and I think he eventually became the coach with the most wins ever at UCLA and for that matter in the Pacific-10. But his job was never really secure until he finally beat USC.

Donahue's first team, the 1976 Bruins, went into the game 9-0-1 and lost. UCLA lost in 1977, 1978 and 1979. There were often calls for Donahue's firing because he couldn't win the big game!

Well, he and the Bruins finally broke through and won in 1980 in the "probation bowl" as both teams were under penalty for prior NCAA violations.

I attended UCLA from 1981 to 1986 and the Bruins won 4 of the 6 meetings against USC!

I was present at the Rose Bowl for the dramatic 20-19 win over USC in 1982. UCLA was leading 20-13 when USC got the ball at the other end of the field (I had endzone seats in the student section). For so many years, USC would win the game at the last moment either by scoring or blocking a UCLA field goal or something would simply "happen" to earn them the win.

We dreaded them marching down the field to win the game. And indeed, they drove down the field and got the TD as time ran out. With the score 20-19, they opted for the 2-point conversion. I don't know if in the history of the rivelry has either side played for the tie at the end?

Anyway, both sides called a time out to add to the drama. And finally, the moment came and everyone was standing and screaming like crazy when the snap occurred and a UCLA player knifed through sacking the USC quarterback preserving the victory!

More memories of the rivelry to come as I flog and blog the hype for the game.

I'm hunting for a web page that has the history of the rivelry. So far, I found this page but it stops at 1999. Unfortunately, for Bruin fans, 1998 was the last time they defeated the Trojans.

UPDATE: USA Today lists the last 10 meetings between the two teams.
2004 USC 29 UCLA 24
2003 USC 47 UCLA 22
2002 USC 52 UCLA 21
2001 USC 27 UCLA 0
2000 USC 38 UCLA 35
1999 USC 17 UCLA 7
1998 UCLA 34 USC 17
1997 UCLA 31 USC 24
1996 UCLA 48 USC 41
1995 UCLA 24 USC 20
Here's hoping that the Bruins pull off what would probably be the biggest upset (UCLA is a 3 touchdown underdog) in the history of the storied rivelry.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sports: UCLA Basketball - more lucky than good as they slay the dragons

UCLA 57 Drexel 56.

The Dragons of Drexel had the Bruins beat. They held the lead for most of the 2nd half. The gutty little Bruins managed to get close in the final minute. Down by two Afflalo flung a three-point shot and was ... fouled. He made two of three to tie the game. Drexel coach "Bruiser" Flynn was upset and he might have a case.

Drexel tried to inbound the pass and promptly threw it away.

The Bruins got the ball in and the play was busted and Farmar had no choice but to drive to the basket and shoot and hope for the best ... and he got fouled. Drexel coach "Bruiser" Flynn was upset and he might have a case.

He air-balled the first foul shot! But bounced in the 2nd.

Drexel with less than a second tossed the ball in and UCLA's Mata caught it and the game was over and the Bruins escaped the Big Apple with a win.

UCLA is not ready for prime time.

UCLA's two guards are still young and getting better but against Drexel, Farmar went 2-15 shooting. Afflalo didn't get on track until the 2nd half hitting some big threes to keep UCLA close.

Bozeman is providing some solid play at the forward spot as has freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (love that name!). Both are a bit undersized but have a lot of heart and doing quite well.

Fey and Hollins ... what can you say, how can two seven foot guys seem like they aren't in the game when they are in the game? Between them, they had 19 minutes with ZERO points and just THREE rebounds!

Mata (merely 6-8) is likely to get more minutes if these two guys don't show up. At least he has a nose for the ball and is willing to mix it up with bigger guys inside.

Roll and Collison are freshmen and will get some minutes to rest the starters.

Aboya and Shipp are still injured. Shipp and Aboya I believe are expected to be starters when they get back.

The Bruins are a solid B/B+ team. Guard play will continue to improve. But the front court remains a problem. They are like a donut... a hole in the center.

Devotional Thoughts: Jesus called a small child

Am looking at Matthew 18:1-10 this morning.

Jesus has begun to tell the disciples of his impending death in some prior episode.

So what do the disciples ask here?

Which of us is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

Makes me think of excessively arrogant and totally clueless sports figures whose every action points ME! ME!! ME!!!

But to be honest, there are times I just shake my head in disgust when I catch myself being so self-centered.

I wondered if Jesus rolled his eyes upon the question.

Anyway, he called for a small child to come forward to help illustrate his response to the question.

We can't even get into the Kingdom of Heaven without becoming like little children. Children at their best are without guile and agenda unlike adults. And it is when we are transformed in that way, we can even get into the Kingdom where Jesus is King.

We can become great in the Kingdom by becoming humble like children. Children are eager to learn and soak up things like a sponge. As adults we often think we have all the answers and won't listen to new ideas or someone else's point of view.

Jesus then gives a very stern warning: if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it is better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.

If the people didn't get it, Jesus says it again: how terrible it will be for anyone who causes others to sin.

Jesus then turns from causing others to sin to address how we need to stop sinning with his famed cut off your hand or foot and pluck out your eyes to prevent ourselves from sinning.

Jesus is using hyperbole to make his point which is deadly serious: sin is serious business and don't mess with it and don't cause others to stumble.

At this point, I can imagine the disciples are hanging their heads looking at their feet thinking we are pretty pathetic focusing on ourselves. Jesus hit them with a 2x4.

Lord, have mercy for I am a sinful man. Help me to run to you like a child to his loving father.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sports: 8 days to go until U$C vs UCLA

USC is 11-0 (7-0 in Pac-10) and ranked #1 in the country. UCLA is 9-1 (6-1 in Pac-10) and ranked #11.

I'm guessing the odds makers have USC favored to win by 14 or something like that.

UPDATE: USA Today has the odds on the USC vs. UCLA game and says USC is favored by 21.5 points!

UCLA's coaching staff is probably looking at the tapes of the USC vs. Notre Dame and the USC vs. Fresno State games.

Unfortunately, both opponents have serious offensive and defensive lines which UCLA does not have.

One of my friends is a huge USC fan and this was his analysis of the surprising Bulldogs:
Great game plan by the coach of Fresno State. 2 of the 4 interceptions in the 2nd half occurred when the FSU QB strayed away from the short, underneath game and tried a few long passes.

Both FSU's offensive and defensive lines outplayed the Trojans. The USC linebackers are really dinged up and were playing with 2 true freshman and 1 walk-on. The starting middle line backer was just coming off a strained knee and his mobility probably was lacking. A starting weak side linebacker got hurt on the 1st series and was out of the game after that. Both should be okay for the UCLA game.

Not enough pressure on the senior QB of Fresno and he has the experience and composure to do well. No matter how good a pass defense is, it can't cover for +5 seconds or longer. Strange that on some 3rd downs Carroll only rushed 3.

Carroll admitted in the post game interview that he made a number of defensive mistakes in terms of schemes which put his players in an unwinnable situation.

There were some strange short yardage calls by the USC offensive coordinator and a few missed passes on 3 and 1. Why pass? Just push the run.

Also too many times they tried to give the ball to Reggie in the red zone which ended up in stalled drives and a FG instead of a TD.

FSU's coach did a great job in the mental prep for his team.

It was a wake up call for USC and I think they will be OK for UCLA. UCLA's offensive and defensive lines does not match up to what FSU brought. Maybe one quarter, at most a half and then USC will overwhelm them. I think UCLA's coaching is weaker too. Expect to see lots of Lendale up the middle and Reggie on the outside.

Our special teams stink. Will probably see squib kicks or pop flys to Maurice Drew. Punts will go out of bounds. USC got a new special teams coach this year and he is doing awful.
Will be flogging the hype on this blog in the days to come.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Devotional Thoughts: Jesus pays taxes and how we only hear the bad news

Taking a look at Matthew 17:22-27.

Verse 22-23 has Jesus reiterating: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed. He will be killed, but three days later he will be raised from the dead.

The disciples were "filled with grief".

It would seem they only heard Jesus say: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed. He will be killed ...

It is easy for me to sit in my chair and say, if I was there, hey, what do you mean raised from the dead? You mean you are going to beat death? Wow, tell me more!

But let's face it, when we hear "good news/bad news" how often we really only hear the bad news?

The Bible here is pretty honest about the human condition!

The next episode, verses 24-27, is an odd one. I don't think I have EVER heard a sermon on this passage!

Someone asks Peter, does Jesus pay the Temple tax which is about two-days wages?

Peter says, yes. I do wonder though how sure was Peter in his answer.

When Jesus sees him, they discuss this. He asks Peter, when kings tax people, who do they tax, their own family or others?

Peter says other people.

Jesus reply seems to be in agreement with Peter. It seems like he is saying we really don't have to pay this tax afterall Jesus is Lord and above the Temple! Yet, he tells Peter to go catch a fish and find the coin in the fish to pay the taxes.

Pretty odd little story, eh?

I suppose the lesson I draw from this is that in this earthly life there are some obligations we have (like paying taxes) and we may have some good reason to complain about them but we fulfill those obligations nonetheless. Jesus seemed to teach this idea again in the famous incident in Matthew 22:15-22 where Jesus says whose face is on the coin? And then said, render to Caesar what is Caeser's and onto God what is God's.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Culture: Seen on the NET - Asian Backstreet Boys and EBAY Parody

Just gotta laugh out loud at "On Ebay" and the internationally famous Yao Ming jersey wearing lip-synchers the "Asian Backstreet Boys".

Check it out.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

LA Dining: Papa Cristo

Prior to my health episode, I went to have dinner at Papa Cristo.

A full report can be found at LA Foodblogging.

Papa Cristo
2771 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 737-2970 (phone)
(323) 737-3571 (fax)
Hours:
Tuesday - Saturday: 9am - 8pm
Sunday: 9am - 4pm
Closed Mondays

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Devotional Thoughts: Faith in faith?

Am looking at Matthew 17:14-21.

Quick note about transparency of scholars who translate the Christian Scriptures into English. If you have a copy of the Bible at hand, check out verse 21. There should be some kind of footnote or something that tells you this verse is not found in all manuscripts.

The ancient Greek editions of the New Testament date back to about the 3rd and 5th century. I'm told there is remarkable agreement between various editions. When there are differences, they are noted in the footnotes. In this case, verse 21 doesn't seem to make too much difference to the incident described.

So what is the incident if you don't have a copy of Gospel of Matthew next to your computer?

A man approaches Jesus. He has a son with severe problems asked for help from the disciples and they failed to cure him. Jesus heals the son. The disciples afterward ask Jesus how come we couldn't cure him?

Jesus rebukes them: Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, "Move from here to there," and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.

I confess: this is a tough passage for me. I'm a scientist by training and by personality and that means: skeptic! So in my mind, I see a situation and I often feel it can't be changed. Well, this passage says it can be!

When we talk about faith we have to be talking about something more than faith in faith.

Instead, the minute the word faith comes up, you have to ask, faith in WHAT? Or in the case of God, faith in WHO?

James 2:19 says You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

So step one is to recognize there is an object of faith. And in this case, God. And the evil demons even recognize God! But recognition isn't enough.

So step two is to act on faith. Because I believe in God, my life should be different.

One of my favorite prayers in the Bible is Mark 9:24, "I do believe; help my unbelief." And this prayer is probably the prayer said by the father in this story!

I'm praying for some situations that seem hopeless.

The Pakistan earthquake hasn't gotten the media coverage but the need there is tremendous.

I received an email telling me about this agency that wants to send volunteers to build shelters to help keep Pakistani people alive through the winter. I'm praying that God will raise up the volunteers for this.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Life: 5 days in the hospital - bowel obstruction ... again

I was in the hospital from Sunday to Thursday.

Want to say thanks to friends and family who prayed for me and encouraged me during this time of health concern. Some of you are occasional blog visitors and might want to know more of what happened. Since I have a habit of writing out my experiences as part of dealing with them you've come to the right place.

I imagine some readers will find this blog post via google or yahoo or some other search engine because either you or someone you know is going through the same thing and want to read more. I hope this post will be helpful in some ways in pointing medical web pages and descriptions of what the experience was like.

The short version - just the facts ma'am

My diagnosis: a partial small bowel obstruction. For a web page that is a bit more graphic, try this one. Here is another web page where X-ray's of intestinal obstructions are shown.

My treatment: nasal-gastric tube and supportive hydration via IV until obstruction clears on its own which it did!

The longer version - the full play-by-play

Sunday

On Sunday afternoon, I had a mild pain at 1pm after spending my morning at church. I had a bit of lunch at my parent's place figuring a little food might settle down the discomfort and then I took a nap. I woke up at 5pm to increasing abdominal pains and felt muscle aches in arms and legs and an overall exhausted sensation.

The abdominal pain continued to increase and by 8pm, we decided it was time to go to ER at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

In October 2004, I had surgery to relieve a bowel obstruction. I was advised by my surgeon and by doctor friends that there is always the possibility of a re-occurance. They said the risk was low but not uncommon and I should act quickly should I suspect it.

During my recovery time from that prior surgical experience, I wrote about it in this blog: Part I, Part II, Part III.

In the ER, I filled out the information form describing my symptoms and waited. It wasn't too long before I was shuttled into the ER exam room. One of the staff told me it wasn't too busy ... for a Sunday. I guess busy is a relative term! I saw that some patients were in the hallways so in my mind that seemed busy!

An IV-line was put into my left arm and blood drawn for testing. The ER doctor came in and she quickly did a medical history and physical exam. She naturally asked about the prior surgery and I told her all I remembered about the details. She said certainly obstruction is on the top of the list but there are some other possibilities. We will send you off for an x-ray and that should tell us more.

X-rays were shot of me lying down and standing up.

Back in the exam room, I waited as did my parents. One person is allowed with the patient in the ER exam room so my mom and dad took turns being with me and being in the ER waiting area.

Monday

The ER doc came back and reported her findings: indeed, it was an small bowel obstruction and that it was a partial one.

I asked if surgery would be needed. She said, maybe, maybe not, I'm getting a consultation on that. A specialist will be here shortly.

Since I was previously operated on at CSMC for this condition, they found that one of my surgeon's assistants was on call that night. She came to the ER and was brought up to speed on my case and she did some examinations as well. She said, it is partial so it may resolve on its own. I'm admitting you for observation and we will wait and see. At this point, the pain was reaching high levels and I finally opted for the morphine shot.

For those who have never taken one, it is a strange sensation. Since the IV was open, they feed it right in the line and within minutes I could feel a warm sensation course through my body and for a minute or two the pain increased but then ... it fades and you feel like you are flying away.

Pain is the way your body tells you something is wrong. When reporting to the doctor what you are feeling note when the pain started, the type of pain (dull, sharp, increasing, decreasing, sporatic, constant, etc.), where the pain is and severity. All of these are clues for your doctor to figure out what might be wrong.

Low levels of pain are those you notice but it doesn't interfere with concentration. Moderate pain does. When you get to the point when all you think about is the pain and you take shortened breaths and moan, it is getty pretty bad.

I was wheeled to 8 South where I was last time. It was about 3AM.

It was deja-vu all over again. I was in room 8803. I think I was in 8801 last time!

But the key difference was that last time I got to 8S after surgery while this time it was a possibility but not determined. I was doubled over like a shrimp, had an IV in my arm and was now waiting for what would happen next. And it did, I tossed my lunch into the pan.

The morning was a blur as I was feeling nausea, in moderate pain and exhausted ... there was the morning exam by the doctor, the gurney ride to the x-ray facility, more blood samples, IV change outs (for those who care about such details I think it said 0.45% sodium chloride, 5% dextrose, 20 milli-equivalents of potassium chloride - this would be food and electroyltes that would help keep me going) that would punctuate waiting around.

In early afternoon, a CT scan with oral and iodine contrast was ordered up.

I slowly sipped the pink liquid. I asked the nurse, I'm going to vomit this up aren't I?

She said, maybe, but I hope that happens after the CT scan.

Oral contrast fluid is x-ray opaque. The material will coat various surfaces in the digestive system and give the radiologists and doctors a better view of my "plumbing."

The CT scan churned away.

I was also injected with iodine. Iodine is also x-ray opaque and since it came in via my blood stream, it will mark off blood flow to my intestines. One of the factors in determining whether surgery is needed or not is whether blood flow is compromised to intestines. Without blood flow, the intestines die and that would be a serious problem!

The CT scan churned away.

I was carted out of the imaging room and promptly threw up four or five times. There I was with my pink bucket with pink liquid. Hey, I'd be proud to tell my nurse I held onto it until AFTER the CT scan!

My nurse received me back at 8803 and awaited for the inevitable order for the nasal-gastric (NG) tube. With the order officially logged she and one of the older nurses threaded the tube through my nose, down the back of my throat and down into my stomach. The whole process took hardly anytime at all. These people are pros and I suppose having been through it once before meant I probably didn't have the usual terrified look which requires more explaination and assurances.

The concept is to empty stomach contents (reduce nausea and vomiting) and relieve pressure behind the obstruction.

Monday afternoon ... Monday evening ... I drifted in and out with the Monday Night Football game on. I noticed Indy was making short work of the Pats. I was surprised.

Tuesday

Tuesday morning ... surgeons and their assistants keep early hours ... I can't remember when she came in to fill me in on what was ahead for the day. She said it is only a partial and said the CT scan was helpful. She told me my blood flow to the intestines were fine and reiterated it was only a partial blockage. She reported that more often that not, these resolve without surgery. She said an x-ray was ahead for the day and more wait and see. She encouraged me to be up and about and as active as possible.

I wonder how common are female surgical residents?

It was in some moments of relative clarity of mind after this that I realized that female doctors were the major players in this latest health episode: the ER doc, the surgical consultant called by the ER doc and now one of the surgeon's top assistants seemed to be managing my case. She usually had one to three other doctors in tow using the opportunity to teach them the process before and after visiting with me.

I suppose in the distant past, when female doctors were so rare, patients might feel uncomfortable. As I saw it, if you know what you are doing and are making an effort to communicate, I'm glad you are on my side!

Minutes drifted into hours and I walked around the floor, channel surfed TV, slept sitting up in the chair, listened to the sound of the NG-tube gurgling away and watched fluid accumulate into the vessel.

One can't sleep for any length of time with an NG-tube in. It is like having a mega sore throat all the time. And when I would toss or turn, it would poke a bit and I'd wake up. I probably didn't sleep for longer than 45 minutes at any one time.

I took to saying ... not too loudly, lest people think I was losing my mind ... hey, intestines, wake up!

Wednesday

Wednesday morning ... IV change outs, x-rays, MDs listening to my bowels, flushings of the tubing of the NG-tube to keep the flow going.

Finally, Wednesday afternoon, light at the end of this tunnel!

The nurse brightly announced, the MD has ordered that the vacuum on the NG tube be stopped for four hours. If the stomach filled back up they would reconnect but if it didn't back fill that would be evidence that the digestive system is moving FORWARD!

After 4 hours, the vacuum was reconnected and they wanted to measure how much material would be aspirated in 30 minutes. The nurse checked back in 30 minutes and noted the volume in the collection vessel. She seemed hopeful. She said I'll tell the doctor the numbers and we shall see but I could sense from her expression that her experience told her it was probably good news.

And indeed, the NG-tube came out!

I had broth for dinner Wednesday night. No problems.

I actually slepted sort of well that night ... in two-hour bites.

Thursday

In the morning I had solid food for breakfast. They wanted to see if I could handle that. I even went to the bathroom afterwards!

After a few hours of no problems with the solid food. They cut me loose Thursday afternoon.

What happened?

Most likely, I have scar tissue or adhesions or both in my intestines from the prior surgery. Metaphorically they are plumbing and pipes (a static metaphor) but since they absorb nutrients out of food they are highly dynamic digesting the material and pushing it along like a peristaltic pump. These things are highly dynamic and there is considerable motion and activity. Generally, they don't kink or flip or pinch. But sometimes they do and get stuck. With a prior surgery, the chances of that happening are higher.

Will it happen again?

The risk is elevated. I've known people who have had blockages and haven't had one since. Nevertheless, I have to be aware of how my body is reacting.

Thoughts on hospital quality

I have to give a huge shout out to Cedars-Sinai. I hear their radio ads, "The Quest for Health" and reports of how they do well in ratings of hospital quality.

One big issue in health care is reducing medical errors. It may seem repetitive to be constantly asked who you are and to show an ID band but it makes sense. Take a typical trip to get an x-ray. Transport aide enters my room and IDs me. He/she wheels me to the Grand Central Station for the imaging unit and logs me into the desk there. On one of the mornings, I noticed 6 other patients moaning and groaning as they awaited imaging work of various types. A radiology tech checks with desk, IDs me and moves me into the imaging suite. The radiology tech takes the pictures and carts me back to the waiting area and logs me into the main desk. A transport aide logs in to the desk and IDs me and takes me back to the room.

Nursing to transport to radiology to transport to nursing... put that on your baseball score card! Fill in the names of the multi-ethnic people who make CSMC go and you've got yourself a tongue twister of a double-play combination!

Another issue is helping the patient know what the heck is going on so they feel they are a partner in the process. I was told what every shot was, what every IV bag was and what every diagnostic test was. I was given a sense of what the next steps were.

Also huge is infection control. It is re-assuring and good health practice to wash hands and it was indeed good to see my medical personal constantly hitting the hand sanitizer dispenser.

I've been fortunate that in my life, I've only been admitted to the hospital twice.

I've visited people in a few hospitals here and there.

I must say, CSMC is one of the cleanest and brightest looking hospitals I've seen. As a patient, I think that helps. Imagine you are sick and wondering what will happen next and when you look around you see ... a dirty and dingy and dark looking hospital?

Disclaimer: I am an employee of Cedars-Sinai though I work in the Research Institute and am not involved in patient care. Suffice to say, if I never had to have first hand experience with the clinical side of the hospital, I would have been quite pleased. 8-)

Psalm 4

With a name like Cedar-Sinai, you would know that it has its roots in Judaism. I have great appreciation for the influence of Jewish values in American life. As a Christian, I have a passing familiarity with the Hebrew Scriptures.

As I drifted in and out of awareness in the post-midnight hours while in the hospital, I kicked myself for not being better about memorizing Scripture. I had remembered reading a Psalm recently where I could imagine David composing it after having a difficult night.

I looked it up today and want to share an excerpt:

Meditate in your heart upon your bed and be still.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness
And trust in the LORD.
Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"
Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us, O LORD!
Thou hast put gladness in my heart
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep
For Thou alone, O LORD, dost make me to dwell in safety.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Life: Digital Camera CCD Problems - My Canon PowerShot A70

One of my friends is quite in the know about technology. I happen onto this post describing problems with digital cameras manufactured from 2002 to 2004. He reported the following: Over time, the plastic encased CCD (the image sensor) started to be affected by heat changes and humidity, so a number of camera lines that were manufactured between 2002 and 2004 are now failing.

Intrigued by this, I went to the article on CCD failures he linked to read more about it.

Yup, it described exactly the kinds of problems I've been having with my Canon A70.

I went to the service notice section for my camera and found this item:
It has recently come to our attention that the vendor-supplied CCD image sensor used in this Canon digital camera may cause the following malfunction: When the product is used in recording or playback mode, the LCD screen and/or electronic viewfinder may exhibit either a distorted image or no image at all. While reports of this malfunction have been rare in the United States, we have determined that it may occur if the product is exposed to hot and humid environments.

Effective immediately, and regardless of warranty status, Canon will repair, free of charge, products exhibiting the above-mentioned malfunction if the malfunction is caused by the CCD image sensor. Canon will also cover the cost of shipping and handling in connection with this repair.

U.S. residents are kindly directed to contact the Canon Customer Support Center for further assistance at 1-800-828-4040. Support hours are Monday thru Friday - 8:00 AM to 12:00 midnight; and Saturday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM (all times EST).
I've called and they will send me a shipping box and form to fill out. Will report back how this all turns out.

Anyway, if you have a digital camera and your CCD is fuzzing out. Check the article on CCD failures to see if it seems to match what you are experiencing and track down your camera model at the manufacturer's home page. Maybe they have a repair program in place.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Politics: And Survey USA Says ... latest polling data on Cal Props

Survey USA has done polling on Props 73 to 77.

Here is what they say as of November 1, 2005
Prop 73 - 55% Yes, 44% No, 1957 likely voters, +/- 2%
Prop 74 - 49% Yes, 50% No, 1966 likely voters, +/- 2%
Prop 75 - 50% Yes, 49% No, 1959 likely voters, +/- 2%
Prop 76 - 49% Yes, 49% No, 629 likely voters, +/- 4% [ed. note - there are 3 versions of their polling data on prop 76, I've cited their "version A." I wasn't clear to me what the differences were between the versions but versions B and C have the No count ahead by various margins.]
Prop 77 - 44% Yes, 53% No, 1948 likely voters, +/- 2.3%
As you can see, it is very close.

Whether you agree with the recommendations I offer at this blog or not, take a look at your official voters guide and cast an informed ballot next Tuesday.

UPDATE: The Sacramento Bee cited the Field Poll and those numbers show the No side ahead of the Yes side in many of the measures.
A new statewide Field Poll this week showed the four initiatives supported by the governor were not getting the backing of most voters. Proposition 76 was behind 60 percent to 32 percent; Proposition 74, the teacher tenure initiative, trailed 50 percent to 44 percent; Proposition 75, the union dues measure, was down 50 percent to 40 percent; and Proposition 77, which would change redistricting procedures, was losing 51 percent to 35 percent.
UPDATE: The LA Times showed Prop 73 ahead and 78, 79 and 80 behind by various margins.
Views are more set, however, on Proposition 73, the abortion measure, which 51% of likely voters support and 39% oppose.
.............
On Proposition 78, 38% were in favor and 43% opposed, well within the poll's margin of error. On Proposition 79, 30% were for it and 47% against it.
.............
After hearing the full ballot description [of Prop 80], 25% said they favored it and 48% were against it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Politics: California Special Election Ballot Measures

Originally posted October 16, 2005.

Extensively modified since and will continue to update!



Prop #SF ChronicleLA TimesSacramento BeeThis blog
73NONONOYES
74YESYESNOYES
75NOYESNOYES
76NONONOYES
77YESYESYESYES
78NONONONO
79YESNONONO
80NONONONO


UPDATE: Its been nice to see the site visitation at this blog jump up a bit because of people googling and yahooing for information about the propositions.

Occasionally, people do leave comments (THANK YOU!! It is always good to hear from readers!) and in most cases, it has been a good conversation. I'll leave comments up whether they agree with me or not. I'll only take down comments that are spam ads, contain egregiously offensive material or completely off topic. I've left the comment up at No on Prop 80 even though this person obviously disagreed with me and thinks I'm completely wrong about everything. My approach is if its clean and on topic, it stays. As Dennis Prager often says: I prefer clarity to agreement.

Devotional Thoughts: The beginning of the end of Jesus' earthly mission

Back to Matthew 17:1-13.

Earlier, I blogged a bit about the Transfiguration which is the event at the beginning of chapter 17.

I can only imagine the cognitive dissonance the disciples felt. They have seen Jesus do miracles. He always seemed to know how to respond to critics. Now, three of the disciples have seen Jesus in glory like the way Moses caught a glimpse of God in the Old Testament. In this transfiguration moment, they would think, AIN'T nothing stopping Jesus now from restoring the nation of Israel!

But, in Mt. 16:21, Jesus had plainly told them he would be killed. And now, in Mt. 17:9, he talks about being raised from the dead. Mark 9:2-8 and Luke 9:28-36 described the same incident. Each has a slightly different angle but the story is essentially the same.

From the Mark 9:10, the disciples were clearly having a hard time putting their minds around Jesus talk about dying and rising from the dead.

I suppose that is why they ask about why must Elijah return before the Messiah. They had a picture in their head about what the coming of the Messiah would be like and what Jesus was telling them didn't fit.

Jesus continues to explain to them, well, Elijah has come (John the Baptist) and wasn't recognized and mistreated (John the Baptist was behead back in Mt. 14) and soon the Son of Man (Jesus himself) will suffer.

Jesus suffered on the Cross for us. We have all sinned and should suffer but he took it upon himself. He took our place.

This is God's love for us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.