Saturday, April 19, 2008

Buy me some spreadsheets and Cracker Jack

Nothing signals the impending summertime quite like the beginning of baseball season. Shh, listen... Can you hear the crack of the bat? Of course you can't. That's because I'm talking about fantasy baseball.

For those who may be unfamiliar with it, fantasy baseball combines two of America's greatest pasttimes: baseball and sitting online in your underwear for hours.

Leagues are formed and an online draft is held, in which you pick real major league players to be on your team. (See, when I type things like that, it just doesn't feel like I should be thirty-five years old.) Then your team is ranked against other teams in your league, based on the statistics your players accumulate.

Fantasy baseball gives you--and by you, I mean, me--a reason to follow players you would otherwise care nothing about. Players like Yadier Molina, Angel Pagan, and Tadahito Iguchi. Many nights, I find myself sitting at my computer "watching" the Rockies game online, rooting for Troy Tulowitzki to get a clutch RBI single in the late innings.

Of course trouble can arise. For example, when a player on my fantasy team is playing against my favorite real-life baseball team, it creates a direct conflict of interest. I need my fantasy player to get a hit, yet I want my beloved Reds to win the game. Worlds are colliding. Bone is gettin' frustrated!

Fantasy baseball can be as intensive or as casual as one desires. Some of the more hardcore fantasy baseballers will cut and trade players frequently thoughout the season, and adjust their lineups almost daily. Now, we won't go into how much time I do or don't spend following my fantasy team, because really, what would be the point of that? But I did manage to create a spreadsheet Thursday night which calculates all my players' daily stats.

I worked on it for about two hours. It's probably the best spreadsheet I've ever done:

Basically, I live each day of my life just looking for a reason to create a spreadsheet. I'm fascinated by them. Columns, rows, numbers, what's not to like? And nested IF functions? Are you frickin' kidding me! Is there anything better in life not involving eighteen holes and/or girls in mud? I think not.

Currently, my team is sixth out of ten in my league. Not great, but it's a long season. The league name is "This Is A League With Teams." Guess who came up with that one.

For now, I invite you to grab some fake peanuts or maybe a couple of feigned hot dogs. Breathe in the imaginary scent of dirt and freshly cut grass. Listen to the pretend roar of the crowd. And enjoy the cute virtual bat girls. Fantasy baseball season is here. And there's nothing quite like a simulated day at the ole chimerical ballgame.

What? I ran out of synonyms.

"Summertime is finally here. That old ballpark, man, is back in gear out on forty-nine. Man, I can see the lights..."

Monday, April 14, 2008

A blackberry winter?

Some sense of normalcy has returned to the world of Bone over the past week. Well, normal for me anyway. Things have been good. Dad is doing well. We talk more often now. And when I went to visit him last week for the first time since he got out of the hospital, he sent me home with a guitar, amp, tuner, and chord charts. This oughta be fun, as soon as I figure out how to work the amp. Two knobs, two holes, a switch, and a light--how hard can it be?

In other good news, I won my NCAA tournament pool, which is the first time I can ever remember that happening. Go Jayhawks! I'm pretty sure that is the first time I've ever made that statement as well.

I also think I may have become addicted to golf. I played three times last week. My "balls lost" count was zero, one, and I-don't-want-to-talk-about-it. Someone remarked it was better that I be addicted to golf than crack. I suppose that's true, though I can't imagine crack being much more expensive.

The warm bogey-filled days of yester-week have given way to arctic-like temperatures this week. Lows were in the 30's last night and expected to be there again the next two nights. At first, I figured this was most likely the onset of the next ice age. Then I realized if that were the case, we would have seen massive glacier progression by now. How stupid of me.

I began to wonder if this is what the old folks call Blackberry Winter. I wasn't sure, so I called the oldest person I know. I said, "Dad, is this Blackberry Winter?" He said, "I don't know if it's blackberry winter or dogwood winter. Whatever it is, it's cold."

Moments like this are why it's so very important to talk to our elders, learn from their experiences, and listen to their stories. Now I will be able to someday pass that wisdom along to my son or daughter, or nursing home attendant.

Through further research, I have determined that this is more likely Dogwood Winter. Both Dogwood Winter and Blackberry Winter are names given to a period of cold, contrary weather, usually lasting a couple of days and following a lengthy warm spell. Dogwood Winter was so named as it coincides with the blooming of the dogwood trees in mid-April. And likewise, Blackberry Winter is a cold snap occurring when the blackberry bushes are in bloom in mid-May.

I don't know how widespread these terms are, but it would be interesting to know how many of you are familiar with one or both of these terms. I've heard the phrase Blackberry Winter all my life. Coincidentally, or not so, I had some blackberry cobbler for dessert last night. I'm not sure what all of this means, but in the wise words of he who reared me, "Whatever it is, it's cold."

So what have we learned? For one thing, there is no Wikipedia entry for "blackberry winter." You have no idea the kind of existential conflict this creates within my brain. Also, adages that have been around a hundred years have been around a hundred years for a reason.

To summarize the rest, I have prepared a helpful chart:

Blackberry = nutritious fruit; also a wireless handheld device
Cobbler = delicious dessert
Blackberry cobbler = good
Blackberry winter = cold
Cold blackberry cobbler = bad
Winter cobbler = undefined, but I'm intrigued

I guess the bottom line is to not put away your long sleeves quite yet. Dogwood Winter is here. And apparently, Blackberry Winter is still to come. Personally, I prefer the gorgeous weather of last week, which I do hereby officially name Bradford Pear Summer.

"Love and seasons never stay. Bitter winds are sure to follow. Now there's no doubt it's gonna be cold out tonight. I've shivered all day..."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Back with a bang

I had been wondering how I was going to get back into blogging after yet another short hiatus. It came to me around one o'clock this morning as I was lying in bed. For that's when I heard the vaguely familiar sound of a girl moaning, coming from next door thru the apparently-thinner-than-I-realized walls. My immediate thought was that my neighbor had a girl over there.

Almost instinctively, I grabbed a glass and placed it against the wall so that I could hear better. I'm kidding. The glasses were all the way downstairs and I wasn't about to get out of bed to go get one.

Still, what could I do, bang on the wall in some sort of universal shushing signal? I never want to be that person. So as much as I would have liked to drift off to sleep as I normally do--to the soothing sounds of Scott Van Pelt and John Buccigross giving baseball highlights on Sportscenter--I simply couldn't block out the moans.

I laid there and waited, and waited, for what felt like half an hour but in reality was probably closer to five or ten minutes. In situations involving disturbment of the peace, I've found that time tends to crawl when you're not a participant in the noise making activity, whatever it may be.

The moaning went on and on as my mind began to wander. How long could this possibly last? Whatever was going on over there, she seemed to be quite good at it. Maybe a little too good.

And there it was.

As I am prone to do, I began to overanalyze the situation. That was a road I would come to wish I had never ventured down. The moans sounded a bit too perfect to me. Too practiced. Too professional. So I was left to ponder that age old question: is it live or is it Cinemax?

With that thought, horrible and permanently scarring images suddenly appeared, causing me to shudder as if my bare hand had just brushed up against the side of a urinal. And the fact that my neighbor's name is indeed Rocky only seemed to make things fifty times worse. As quickly as I thought it, I tried to erase it from my mind. Eww, make it stop.

Finally, it did.

The only slightly redeeming part of the evening was that I never heard a male voice mixed in with the female moaning. I did hear a guy's voice afterward but couldn't tell if it was live or on TV. I heard what sounded like water running a couple of times, or maybe it was a toilet flushing. Then at last, there was only Sportscenter.

And to think, I always figured the most disturbing thing about my neighbor would be the plastic dog with the solar lantern hanging from its mouth sitting outside his front door.

On a completely unrelated note, my neck is really sore today.

"She bop, he bop, a-we bop. I bop, you bop, a-they bop..."

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

At the hospital

Dad is having his heart bypass surgery today. I'm blogging from the waiting room. The doctor just came out and talked to us. He said they'd begin surgery around 8:00 and that it normally takes about three and a half hours.

To backtrack a bit, the surgery was postponed two different times. Dad was in the hospital five days with viral pneumonia. Then he had an issue with low blood pressure, which left him very lethargic for a few days. But lately, he's been doing much better and getting stronger.

With the postponements, it was easier to remain distracted and keep my mind on other things for a couple of weeks. But yesterday and this morning... I've never been this nervous in my life.

Seeing Dad just before they took him back this morning was hard. I started to tear up but caught myself. On the other hand, he seemed pretty relaxed considering. I told him I loved him and he promised to give me guitar lessons when he gets out.

Now we're just waiting. Watching the clock. Thinking good thoughts. Talking about everything but. And saying little silent prayers.


2:05 PM - We just got back to see Dad for a moment. The doctor came out about 1:30 and talked to us. He said they did a triple bypass and everything went as expected.

Our next ICU visit is 4:30. They said he might be awake by then. Thank you all for your comments and prayers.

5:16 PM - Dad opened his eyes during our 4:30 visit. He's still on the ventilator, but mouthed "What time is it" and "I love you" in that order. I told him "four-thirty" and "I love you, too." Our last visit of the day is at 8:30.

8:10 PM - Navigating these halls reminds me of world 8-4 on Super Mario Brothers. One wrong turn and you can wind up right back where you started. I just hope I don't run into a giant monster with a spike head spitting fire balls. I can't jump very high.

9:04 PM - Dad was off the ventilator when we went in this time. His blood pressure was a tad low, so they're giving him something for that. They're also giving him insulin, which they said is normal. He looks much better than he did earlier. The first visit tomorrow morning is at 10:30.

Today has pretty much run the gamut of emotions. Worry, fear, hope, reflection, relief, joy, sadness, love. It's been a long day. But a good day. I'm so very thankful.

Day Two...

11:35 AM - Dad got out of ICU shortly before 10:00 this morning. He's in a private room now in the cardiac progressive care unit. I'm not sure if that's the official name, but I think it's an accurate description. He's in a lot of pain, which I'm pretty sure is just part of it. They brought him some morphine and now he seems quite relaxed.

12:41 PM - Lunch! Dad is having broth, yellow jello, and grape juice. I think I'll venture down to the cafeteria.

2:12 PM - Two of my cousins stopped by, along with my aunt who always sends me ten dollars. As they were leaving, I was hugging my aunt and she put something in my hand... You guessed it.

4:42 PM - They got Dad up around 3:00 to walk. He walked half a lap around the unit. It was a struggle for him. Though he did say when a patient who was obviously on his third or fourth day zoomed past him, "Why is he going so much faster than me?"

By the day he leaves the hospital, he's supposed to be up to 38 laps, which equals two miles. So, small steps right now.

Thank you again for the comments. In addition to helping me pass the time, each one is a little boost of encouragement.

Day Three...Thursday

6:33 PM - Dad has had a rough day. He's felt nauseous all day and has hardly eaten anything. He was supposed to walk seven laps today, but has only managed four so far. They're doing tests to try and figure out what's causing the nausea. He is miserable. Today feels like a bit of a setback. I hope tomorrow is better.

Day Four...Friday

9:22 AM - Dad has already walked eight laps this morning! His nausea has subsided a bit. I had a bad dream last night about him, so it was nice to wake up to some good news. The surgeon said if he keeps improving he could go home as early as tomorrow?? So, cautious optimism right now.

5:46 PM - We're up to eighteen laps today. Well, I say we. I've actually only walked one. I worked a full day today and yesterday and have been coming over in the afternoons. Dad is now officially IV and tube free. He's doing great, though I have a feeling he totally didn't get my Doctor Van Nostrand reference just now.

Day Five... Saturday

5:01 PM - Dad didn't get to go home today. His oxygen level was low last night and this morning, so they're keeping him another day. He seems to be feeling pretty good, though. Maybe tomorrow.

Day Six... Sunday

6:37 PM - Dad is home from the hospital. He was discharged early this afternoon. And though he still has a lot of recovery and rehab to go, it feels like another major hurdle has been cleared.

Thank you all so much for your continued thoughts and prayers. I believe with all my heart that they were answered. And I will always remember your support and words of encouragement.

This will conclude the Open Heart Surgery Live Blog Experience.