Friday, July 25, 2008

The Last Lecture -- RIP Randy Pausch

If you kept up with the news and current events, you surely remember Professor Randy Pausch from a few months back.

I blogged about him here.

Randy passed away this morning after a being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer almost 2 years ago. He was originally only given 3-6 months to live but surpassed those odds and turned his own tragedy into a lecture and book that still tops the best-seller lists today.

He was a source of powerful inspiration to millions of people who had the opportunity to see and hear his last lecture at Carnegie Mellon University.

RIP Professor Pausch

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My New Addiction

I have a lot of downtime at work most days.

While its nice to not be running around trying to fix things all the time, it's also sometimes really boring and the day just dragggggs on like a 100 yr old lady's boobs. Oh, that's saggggs.........

Anyway, I decided a while back that everyday, I'd try to do something productive during my downtime. Sometimes I research places I want to go, sometimes I proactively look for problems or ways to improve things at work, check out Mens Health and other fitness sites, look for blueprints for a deathray, etc.

Then, a few weeks ago I discovered Yahoo!Answers.

The premise is simple -- its a forum where people can ask questions about virtually any topic, and then anyone can answer them. You get points by answering questions, and even MORE points if the asker picks your answer as the BEST.

It may sound a little silly...........but I'm addicted!

Some people really have genuine problems and concerns and I like helping them.
I've already become a 'Top Contributor' in the Diet & Fitness category for answering so many questions and having my answers picked as the BEST so many times.

But its not just about helping people........
Some of the questions people ask are just HILARIOUS.

"I'm 11 yrs old and my penis is only 3 inches. Is this normal?"

"I'm 5'2" and 205 pounds. Do you think I'm fat?"

"Is there something wrong with me because I have the urge to strangle and kill every women I'm ever around?"

"I'm 12 have no boobs and used to be anorexic. Help!"


Either way, I end up answering my daily limit of questions everyday and so far I've answered over 600 questions. Eventually, I'll reach level 5 where I can answer *unlimited* questions a day!



but.............I DON'T CARE!!!

OH - and if you decide to try and find me on there, you'll have to figure out my profile name.
I'm not giving it away, but look under Diet & Fitness and remember the fact that I'm half Cuban........ ;-)

Now some funny, courtesy of Candice

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bringing the Passion Back to America's Pastime

If you've followed my blogs at all or know me personally, you know I love the game of baseball.

This week is All-Star week.
Tonight is the All-Star game and last night was the Home Run Derby.

For the little boy in all of us men, the All-Star game and Home Run Derby are like sitting down to a meal where they only serve dessert. Its an opportunity to feel that child-like excitement of watching players that seem larger-than-life, and the Home Run Derby last night didn't disappoint.

Josh Hamilton.

Remember the name.
If you haven't already heard it - you will soon.

I've been lucky enough to have him on my fantasy baseball team this season and I couldn't be more excited.
Well, actually I can.
And I was - last night when I got to watch him bat last in the first round.

To give you a quick summary of the home run derby - 8 of the All Stars basically get to the plate and have to hit as many home runs as possible. Its that simple. Its all about showing off your power and hitting ability to entertain the fans.

Seven of the players had already hit and Lance Berkman was leading the pack with 8 home runs.
What happened next was an astonishing showcase of raw desire and talent that was powered by an incredible story of human spirit and determination.

Josh proceeded to smash ball after ball after ball into the upper decks and bleachers of Yankee Stadium. Eventually, the crowd was chanting his name, which just powered him to keep hitting more.

He finished with a record 28 home runs in the first round of the derby -- more than 3 times any of the other competitors.

The rest of the rounds don't even matter ......(or make sense, since he ended up losing the derby) because those few minutes of excitement turned him into that iconic baseball hero that legends are made of. He was Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, Jackie Robinson. He was larger than life, and so is the story of how he got there.

After getting drafted in 1999, he started down a slippery slope of addiction to drugs and gambling that eventually got him suspended and took him out of baseball. From 2002 to 2006 he didn't play baseball at all. With the help of some family and close friends, he managed to make the most of his natural talent and fight off the demons that held him back. He eventually managed to get drafted again in 2006 and skyrocketed back into the majors in 2007. Then, this season, he has proven himself to be the rare superstar that he is by putting on a clinic of hitting and defensive power that no player before him has ever done. His first half of the season culminated last night with a performance that will forever be embedded in every baseball fan's memory for a long time to come.

Thanks, Josh!


Of course I didn't forget the funny!!

I think he Can Dance

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Let's Talk Logic - The Monty Hall Problem

I've been spending the past two days involved in a healthy yet heated debate with some friends of mine. Its been mostly me against against the world!!!!!!!!!!!

I've never been on any debate team or anything like that, but I do know my logic. I nearly majored in Philosophy in college and aced all my classes, so I'm aware of what makes a solid argument and how to use math and reasoning to make logical conclusions.

This problem, however, really did kick my butt and still continues to do so.

I was so absolutely, positively sure I was right.
.........and even now after reading through wikipedia and seeing that I'm proven wrong, I'm STILL not readily accepting that I am. Its just so damn counter intuitive that I can't accept it!!
...because I'm so intuitive!!


So the puzzle is called The Monty Hall problem.

It goes like this:

Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say No. 1, and the host, who knows what's behind the doors, opens another door, say No. 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, "Do you want to pick door No. 2?" Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?

Take a minute to ponder this and then continue reading.............






So what's your answer?

Uh huh...........ok......................

Well here's mine, which I think is pretty straightforward:
Its a given that when you make your initial choice, your odds of picking the car are one out of 3 (1:3). Then, once the third door with the goat is opened, door #3 is no longer a viable option, and since you then have another opportunity to choose between staying or picking door #2, you have a choice of 2 options, which translates to odds of 1:2. Therefore, odds of 1:2 (or 50/50) mean that the likeliness of either door having the car are equal, so there's no benefit to picking door #2. Essentially, once the third door is eliminated, it becomes a new problem with new odds. You're now picking between 1 of 2 which is 1:2 odds.

I was uber-confident this was correct and still am trying to convince myself otherwise, but yes, apparently its wrong.

The supposed correct answer is that by switching to door #2, you give yourself 2:3 odds of getting the car, whereas sticking to door#1 keep your odds at 1:3.

I will not even attempt to explain it to you since I'm still torn and trying to disprove it myself, but if you're still curious, read the wikipedia link above and have fun trying to wrap your brain around this one.

Or, take a break and enjoy crunk Yogi:

Thursday, July 3, 2008

About My Shoulder .........(Part Deux)

I FINALLY got my MRI and arthrogram done today.

For those of you at home who haven't been following along, I've been dealing with shoulder problems for over 2 years now stemming from playing baseball.

Read this for the background story.

I first went to the orthopedic surgeon back in May. X-rays were taken and negative, and the MRI/arthrogram was the next step. I went ahead and scheduled one and showed up only to find they didn't do arthrograms there. Another month later and 2 more extremely annoying miscommunications and unexpected work commitments, and I was finally able to schedule the correct procedure at a place that did it on a day I didn't have to be on-call.

It started at 8am.
After some paperwork and stripping myself of anything metallic, I get taken into the X-ray room by a seemingly anorexic x-ray technician. (she was very nice and had a cute face, but looked like she weighed 90 pounds!)
Anyway, two initial exposures were taken while lying down and my shoulder in different positions. Once those looked good, the radiologist came in and introduced himself.
I gave him a brief history of why I was here and he gave me a rundown of what he was about to do. He also made me sign another waiver that if there was anything that went wrong, they weren't liable. Scared yet?? Nahhh......

So then I lay back down on the x-ray table and the tech puts this big wedge under me so I'm almost leaning on my right shoulder. They position my arm across my chest and then align the overhead imager over my shoulder. From this vantage point, I can see my reflection in the glass panel above, but more interestingly, if I look up behind me, I can see the monitor that the radiologist is looking at. I'm not sure of the technical term for it, but it looks essentially like a "live x-ray."

What he does next is a testament to the incredible medical advancements society has made in the new millenium...............
He tapes a paperclip to my shoulder.

Yes - a regular paperclip.
For a second, I'm a little puzzled, but when I glance up at the monitor it makes sense.

On the screen I can see the paperclip over the bones of my shoulder.
He adjusts it once more and I can see that the one end of the paperclip is perfectly aligned over a section of the space between my shoulder and the socket. He then uses a sharpie to mark that point so he knows where to inject.

He then swabs me with some iodine, etc. and gives me three shots of a numbing agent that I believe he said was primarily lidocaine. The shots didn't hurt that much - just like any other shot - an initial sharp prick then a slight burning sensation that only lasted a few seconds.

Next, he inserted what seemed like a very small cylinder about two inches or so in. He then attached one end of a clear tube to this cylinder and attached the other end of the tube to a big syringe filled with the contrast which was a barium sulfate solution. He then slowly injected about 10 ccs of the dye into the joint. It was during this point that I started to feel a little pressure in my shoulder, but after a few seconds, he pulled out the cynlinder and the arthrogram was complete.

After being led over to the MRI area and only waiting a few minutes, I was brought into the MRI room and once again checked for anything metallic on me. After assuring the nurse for the 10th time that I didn't have a pacemaker or work in a metal shop or have any shrapnel in me, she led me over to the machine. I had to lay down and shimmy up to get my shoulder into this support device that was supposed to keep it stable. She shoved some extra padding in the sides and top to help keep me from moving it at all. She also gave me a pillow, ear plugs and a wedge under my knees to take pressure off my back. Then, it was go time!

I'm not claustrophobic at all, but for anyone who is or may even think they might be, this next part might freak you out a bit.

The platform I was on slowly pulled me into the giant MRI cylinder headfirst. It was kind of like being loaded into a torpedo tube. The hole is only slightly larger than I am and both my sides were pressed up against the inside walls of the machine while the top was less than a foot in front of my face. At this point, I'm in up to my knees when I hear the girl start talking to me via speakers inside the tube. The rest of the procedure lasted about 25 minutes or so and was just me trying to stay perfectly still while all these bangs and buzzes and taps are going on around me. It went by relatively quickly and at one point I think I dozed off. I think I actually just fell asleep when she woke me up because it was finished. How rude!

So after changing, I asked the girl how I could get a copy of the films since my orthopedic doctor said I should. To my surprise, she told to wait a few minutes and they'd burn me a CD of the images. SWEET!!

Of course, I then went to work and popped it in and examined all these neat shots of the internal workings of my shoulder. Now, I'm definitely no expert in radiological diagnosis, but I do know that the bright white spots are the contrast dye, and if you see it anywhere else but in the space in the joint between the actual bones, then its gone into a void where there should be tendons or ligaments -- indicating that something has torn away.

When I started looking through the images, I started to get a little concerned.
I saw some noticeable white spots covering a larger area than I anticipated. Does this mean I tore my rotator cuff? Did I really do that much damage to myself over these years??

Instead of of speculating, I decided to ignore the shots with huge scary white patches and just picked the shots that showed the smaller, more likely areas of tears.
(If it turns out that the damage is more extensive than I originally thought, I'll post those images so you can see the extent of the tears)

Here's the first one:
The spot in red seems to stand out to me at not only a possible tear, but maybe bone degradation? I can't say for sure, but it does look abnormal.

This spot seems a little more prominent and likely to be a tear. You can see how it sticks out from the normal, round edge of the joint.

This is a top-down shot from above. Just like the previous one, the bright spot here just stands out as looking abnormal around the rounded edge of the joint.

So for any radiologists or orthopedic specialists who happen to stumble on my blog and see this, if you know how to read these, please drop me a comment with your input. I'd love to hear it.

For anyone else -- comments always welcomed!!

Otherwise, the next chapter to this story will hopefully come next week after my ortho doc gets to peep out these films. Then we'll know for sure.........