Wednesday, January 23, 2013

And they're off!

Hang onto your hats, it's CYCLING SEASON!

Yes, the Santos Tour Down Under is rolling along nicely. But it's SO far away, and there's been SO much going on lately (and by that I obviously mean Lancegate) that it's hard to get my brain to actually BELIEVE it's racing season.

 I'm not sure if this race is being televised, however I'm not going to get to watch it even if it is, as I'm away on work travel living out of a suitcase once again. But peeking in at Velo and Cycling news, it looks like it's going to be a very exciting season! Greipel looks like he's really hit the ground running this year with the same successful lead-out-train he had last year. It would appear that he and Cav are poised to have some serious head-to-head sprints, which will be truly exciting for the fans. I'm anxious to see Boonen as a lead-out-man, which he has promised to do.

And in a very short amount of time, winter will be over! And you know what that know it....spring cleaning.

OH, right...and the Spring Classics! And speaking of Boonen, he's got some SERIOUS work to do defending his Classics titles. Is he up for it? Last year he won FOUR. That's quite an accomplishment, and I have no idea if he will be up to the enormous task. But I wish him luck. And I hope to actually SEE some of these races this year...but can't promise that.

Our spare dollars seem to be heading towards a certain spoiled rotten biddy of a fur-baby for the foreseeable future. Jeannie went down on Tuesday with her to see an oncologist in Santa Barbara. He discussed our 'options'...which include radiation therapy, radical amputation, chemotherapy, change of diet, and doing nothing. Well actually, neither he nor our surgeon even consider the change of diet (homeopathic) as a serious option...that's just our thoughts.

The radiation option isn't a good one. For one thing, the tumor(s) haven't returned yet. But both our oncologist and our surgeon agree that with this particular type of cancer, it's just a matter of time. The tumor has little 'fingers' that spread into the tissue around it, and it's nearly impossible to get enough 'margin' (removal of healthy tissue) to get them all. And with this type of cancer in around 95% of the time it comes back right where it was before the surgical removal (which we had done already). And being as the tumor hasn't returned yet, there's really nothing to radiate.

Which brings us to option #2: radical amputation. This is sadly the best option, as it is the only way to nearly guarantee removal of enough tissue to preclude it's return. For PG, that would require the removal off her entire left rear leg all the way up to (and including some of) her pelvis. But we're hesitant to do that, now that we have saved the leg during the first surgery. We'd only consider that at this point if it becomes necessary. Considering the cancer hasn't yet returned, we are hopeful that we can head that decision off with options 3 and 4: chemotherapy and diet.

He discussed a low-dose chemo treatment that we can put her on that would offer us hope of stopping  the tumors from returning (which is also why our diet change from 'dog food' to only chicken and veggies). He says that quality of life is paramount at this point and with whatever treatment we do. The low level chemo pills (we can buy them at Costco) have a long list of side effects, and getting the dosage right (ie: low enough) so that she's not miserable and sick is the goal. We're not totally sure how often the pills would be given, nor how long (more questions we need to ask). For now we had blood-work done, and then 30 days from now we do it again and he will make the dosage determination at that time. We are putting her on Rimadyl for now, getting her ready for the chemo (which is why he needed a 'before and after' blood panel: to make sure the Rimadyl isn't causing any's a doggie ibuprofen basically, but canines don't do well with actual ibuprofen.

Of course, we are scared and totally NOT sure how to proceed, but we agree we have to do SOMETHING. This seems to be our best option as of this moment. And the cost isn't too extravagant. There was a 5th option, which was the anti-angiogenesis (sp?) medication, which basically helps stop (or slow) the growth of new blood vessels, effectively starving tumors as they try to grow. However that medication would run us about $500 a month for the rest of her life.

Scratch treatment plan #5.

And so...the only real problem so far is that she still has no feeling from just above the 'hock' (I'd personally call it a 'relbow', which is a real-leg-elbow. It's the joint above the paw/ankle, and below the knee. I have fabricated a special 'splint' out of plexiglass and formed it's shape via a heat-gun. It is velcro'd into place and then wrapped over with an ace bandage. Without that she would stand on that leg toes straight down, and the poor toes will fold under where she could break them, and/or the ankle being as she can't feel them. I pull the splint off every day and check out the foot, it has a few open sores from the first brace we had (bought it online, but it was big, bulky, and even though was the right size just wasn't the answer we needed. I've actually made 2 of the smaller braces now, the 2nd one being better than the first as I could see changes to make. So far it's working quite well, and her surgeon said simple is better. Only we have to be prepared to continue with this as long as it takes, which could be the rest of her life if the nerve doesn't regenerate.

So there you have it. Our little girl is dong quite well, and she is as happy as she's EVER been. We attribute this to her new diet. She always HATED Dog food. But NOW, you pull one of her little meals out of the fridge and she comes RUNNING! She used to be a little 'biddy', but now she's quite loving and happy. Honestly, we can't believe how much happier she is now that she's living like the queen she always thought she was. She's getting special meals, and LOTS of personal attention from her servants. Yes, she's living the dream!

And so...we have a lot on our minds just now besides cycling season, but I'm glad it's here none-the-less. So put on your party-pants and get ready to rumble.

Game ON!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is it snowing in Hell?


Tomorrow we finally hear something I thought I'd never ever hear. Or at least I think we will. Right this very moment only Oprah and her crew and probably a few dozen others REALLY know what Lance had to say during her 2-1/2 hour interview. She supposedly asked nearly all of her pre-written 112 questions. That is a lot of questions. I have to assume they won't all be soft-ball lobs. There must be some serious hard-ball zingers in there.

As of this moment I could still pretend to believe that he never doped...that he was persecuted, it was all a fix, and he was the only one not doping and he was the scapegoat. Because he hasn't confessed yet. It's like when Floyd was contesting his innocence, and I totally believed it. I MET him for crying out loud....granted, it was a very short meet. I drove about 120 miles one evening to be at a bookstore down in Thousand Oaks where he was doing a talk/book-signing. I even brought my "Free Floyd" T-shirt I had bought for him to sign, along with a copy of his book "Totally Positive". I turn around and there, in the upper left corner of my office bookcase is his autographed book, and the T-shirt still in a zip-lock bag in mint condition. I'm not sure what to do with them. I remember how devastated I was when he confessed...after that long drawn out arbitration down in Pepperdine. How I was following along on Trust But Verify day by day, minute by minute...sucked into the black-hole of his defense.

Quite honestly, I STILL think they proved at least a reasonable doubt (about the specific charge of his use of Testesterone). They proved the lab (LNDD) was about as sad in professionalism as a high school chemistry class. The girl who processed his sample did run after run on her machine, NOT saving each run as a different file name as required (claiming she didn't know that)...only saving the ONE run after the machine had been taken out of automatic mode and the points manipulated, showing the desired results: guilty. Or when the Dr. (can't remember his name) who wrote the procedures for running the machine testified that the results of that test were worthless. And how after everything that came out, that the CAS not only didn't buy it, but they INCREASED his sentence and penalty. That he still claims he did NOT use T during that Tour, well...I'm not sure what to believe. He was lying about doping. He apparently was telling the truth (at least some of it, there is still a lot that we are taking on faith IMO)about others who were doping. do you know when a liar is telling the truth? I think that question is the very crux of the matter currently at hand.

What all will Lance have to say? Will there be earth-shattering revelations? Will he implicate people in high places? Will it go all the way to the Oval Office? (ok, that one is just kidding...been watching too many movies). Actually by Oval Office I really mean the top of the UCI. Jeff brought up a really good point over at Rants, and I posted a comment on the subject....that Lance, however big and powerful he was in cycling, was still a "low hanging fruit" in the doping tree. He was a user.

I know his USADA lifetime ban included things like trafficking, distribution, etc etc...making it sound like he and he alone not only manufactured the drugs, but transported them across states and country borders, went out in the dark alleys with huge briefcases of cold hard taxpayer cash to make clandestine drug deals throughout his career, then all by himself went around like the tooth fairy distributing all this dope to the "chosen ones" who were also doping. He then instructed them in it's use, and in some cases actually held a gun to their heads FORCING them to dope if they were hesitant. Yes...that's what the reasoned decision pretty much said in a nutshell.

But let's face it...Lance was a star. He has (had) people. LOTS of people. I just don't believe that he was doing all these things. But somebody was (well, except for the gun to the far as we know anyway). Lots of somebody's. There is no way Lance was anywhere near all this dope....didn't they raid the team bus back in the Festina affair? I vaguely recall they did...and hotel rooms. So...SOMEBODY was transporting all this dope and the syringes, and alcohol swabs, etc. SOMEBODY was making the actual transaction, however it happened. I don't believe it was thru the mail, but you never know...THAT would be pretty risky. And the team traveled a lot. So there must have been sources all over the place, all over the world. And then all the evidence had to be disposed off, so that it would NEVER see the light of day. There were many people watching closely, and the fact that they never got caught tells me they were good. Because over all those years, that's a lot of medical waste disposed of covertly all over the world.

So. What will this confession hold? Will he name names? Give total details of the wheres/whens/whys/hows? Was Johan actually EVER involved? DID he even know what was going on? I can't fathom he'd throw Johan under the bus, but then I've certainly been wrong before. But I must say that it would totally blow my mind if he does. If Lance comes out and says "of course Johan knew" or anything even remotely like that. At this moment I don't believe that will happen. I think even if Johan did know, Lance will protect him. And I'm willing to back that up with cold hard cash. Yep. I've got a shiny new quarter here that says so. Any takers? (and I do mean "a", as in singular....I'm not taking like 7000 25-cent bets here). That's how confident I am. I'm willing to part with two-bits.

As I sit here, I can't help but feeling like the world as I know it will be different by tomorrow night. But I also can't help but wonder if he didn't get a copy of those 112 questions ahead of time. I DO believe that he went over and over and over his 'confession' with lots of smart people on his payroll, and there will be limits to what he confesses to. Specifically, I don't believe he'll confess to anything that could result in prison time. But that's where this gets into a sticky-wicket. This thing has been out of his control since the beginning. And I don't see that changing. There are LOTS of people and organizations that are lining up waiting to take a legal bite out of him....some getting their money and more back that they paid in lawsuits that he won.

One thing is pretty much certain though: the people who want to see him drawn and quartered won't be satisfied. They've been clamoring for a confession for years, and now that he is it won't satisfy them. I don't think there is anything he could say that would. The haters will still hate, possibly even MORE because this will show they were right. And it will be coming from HIS Mouth now...not a stack of papers, or 2nd or 3rd party testimony. There will then be people who will see the human side of him..the man who made mistakes. Forgiving people. And somewhere in the middle of all those people will be those who either don't care, or truly have no idea what to think.

I will be watching though....turns out we DO have OWN (I can only assume that stands for Oprah Winfrey Network) on our Dish subscription (Jeannie found it, I had no idea...she has already set up the DVR to record the Thurs evening broadcast..9pm Eastern time, 6pm Pacific. Supposedly OWN will also web-cast the show for those who don't get that network.

Where do I sit in the crowd of people? I think I'm still somewhere in the independent voter. I agree with points from both sides, and disagree with points from both sides (very much like my political beliefs). Yep...I'm a middle-of-the-road-er. My vote is not for sale, but it is as of yet undecided. I don't believe he is the devil. I still believe that what he did is one of the greatest athletic achievements ever...winning SEVEN TDF's in a row...never crashed out, no horrific days, and never tested positive for a doping test in all those years (maybe/maybe-not...we might find out about that too). Just watching these last few Tours, it's a genuine miracle that he was always in the right place at the right time for 7 consecutive years...avoiding the carnage. The fact that he was doped...well, from everything I've heard and read, so was most of the other top contenders (which is most likely why they were top contenders). So yes...he was still the best in a tainted field. I still believe his name should be there for those wins, and if an asterisk is by them (along with MANY OTHER years winners) then so be it. I watched those races and I know who won. He was the best in a very flawed period of time. But that doesn't change it IMO.

But he has well and truly fallen from grace, about as far as a man can fall. And for Lance Armstong, that was a LONG ways. Farther than any athlete in history. Which also gives me something else to ponder. As to why he never confessed. For one thing, he is human (we think). He had more to lose than any athlete in history, and ANY confession would have resulted in pretty much the same thing he has now: stripped of all his wins, dropped by all his sponsors....about the ONLY thing that MIGHT be different is he might still have a shot at triathlon before he's old and gray. But otherwise, there truly was zero upside for him to confess. That is the part the haters don't get (or don't care). But put yourself into his shoes for just a you have ANYTHING hidden in your closet? Any little dark secrets you plan on taking to the grave? If so, why haven't you confessed it already? Told the truth and taken your beating? Maybe it's because you don't want it known? I'll buy that...welcome to the human race. Anybody who doesn't have any skeletons in their closet, just haven't tried hard enough. Live a little.

In some ways, I'm actually looking forward to getting this out in the open. It's been a slow motion train-wreck for some time now...and I hope that maybe when it's over I can quit wringing my hands and feeling horrible. Like a cancer will have been removed. I sure hope so anyway. I am concerned about how this will affect LIVESTRONG....and yes, I'm still going to be fundraising for them (I'll be joining the 2013 Team Fatty Davis team probably by the weekend). No matter what happens tomorrow and Friday, I don't see my support for LS changing. 

And just 20 hours or so from now this cold front we've had here on the West Coast will have moved down into Hell...because I've always assumed Hell would freeze over before Lance ever confesses to doping.

I hope the devil has mittens.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


It's 2013.

Can you BELIEVE IT? Sheesh...where did the summer go? I think I feel caught by surprise every year lately when we shift to the next year. Honestly, it feels like time has indeed picked up speed as I'm getting older. 2012 is suddenly in the history books. And we have a whole new year in front of blank pages in a journal ready to be filled in. Just what will be on those pages we don't yet know. Will it be a good year? A bad year? Lots of high profile tragedies? Great and wonderful things, new discoveries and such? I have no crystal ball...but I hope it's better than 2012. I personally live for the day when somebody finally invents the Star Trek know...gee, think I'll go to Rome for lunch today......HEY HEY HEY! That transport took like 12 milliseconds, what's up with THAT? I don't have all DAY for crying out loud! THAT will be a good year. Unless it's not.

The one good thing (for me anyway) going on throughout the holiday season and into the new year is COLLEGE FOOTBALL! I finally got to see a bunch during my time with my Dad...he LOVES football...we can just sit and watch game after game, drinking egg-nog, munching on snacks, and life is good. I don't do that at home for many reasons (watching the football part I mean...I DO participate in the egg-nog and munchies)....primarily because Jeannie isn't much of a football fan and I won't make her go thru would be like her watching episode after episode of American Greed (which I hate) and me having nothing else to do but sit and stew (oh wait, that does happen sometimes). Also there's the 'time' home I just seem to have SO MUCH to do...but when I go visit, I have nothing to do. If they are going to watch Football, far be it for ME to suggest otherwise (GRIN!)

Here are the bowl games I had some interest in, along with how I did. I was rooting for the underlined team, while the winner is in bold. I've also added either a 0 or a 1 after each game, 1 being if I chose the winner.

New Mexico Bowl:           Nevada vs Ariz :                                    0
Poinsettia Bowl:                BYU vs San Diego State:                        0
Maaco Bowl:                    Washington vs Boise State:                    0
Hawaii Bowl:                     Fresno State vs SMU:                            1
Little Caesars Bowl:           W. Kentucky vs C. Michigan :              0
Military Bowl:                    San Jose State vs Bowling Green:         0
Belk Bowl:                        Cincinatti vs Duke:                                0
Holiday Bowl:                    Baylor vs UCLA:                                  1
Russel Athletic Bowl:         Rutgers vs Va Tech :                              0
Meineke Car Care Bowl:   Minnesota vs Texas Tech :                    0
Armed Forces Bowl:         Rice vs Air Force :                                 0
Pinstripe Bowl:                  West VA vs Syracuse :                          0
Fight Hunger Bowl:            Navy vs AZ State:                                 0    (Navy got DESTROYED!)
Alamo Bowl:                      Texas vs Oregon State:                          0
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl:  TCU vs Michigan State:                       0
Sun Bowl:                          USC vs Georgia Tech:                          0
Chick Fil-A Bowl:              LSU vs Clemson:                                   1
Heart of Dallas Bowl:         Purdue vs Oklahoma St:                        1
Gator Bowl:                       Mississippi St vs Northwestern:             1
Outback Bowl:                   South Carolina vs Michigan:                  0    (But SO very close! Boo, hiss!)
Capital One Bowl:              Georgia vs Nebraska:                            0
Rose Bowl:                         Wisconson vs Stanford:                        0
Orange Bowl:                      N. Illinois vs Florida State:                   0

Sugar Bowl:                        Louisville vs Florida State:     half-time as I type, Louiville is ahead
Fiesta Bowl:                        Oregon vs Kansas State:       yet to be played
Cotton Bowl:                      Texas A&M vs Oklahoma:    yet to be played
BCS Championship:            Alabama vs Notre Dame:      yet to be played

As you can see, my 'picking' of winners is quite pathetic. I have thus far have picked only 5 out of 24, with 4 games left to play (the Sugar Bowl is in progress as I type. I watched it up to halftime and Louiville was leading and looking pretty good....GO LOUISVILLE!!!!).  I think my problem in picking winners is because I base my choices on emotion. Some teams (especially some of the underdogs) I choose BECAUSE they are the underdog, even though deep in my heart I know they most likely won't win.Other times I pick a team  because I don't care for the other team, which isn't a smart way to do it either.

HOWEVER, were I to use the George Kastanza method (from a Seinfeld episode where he realized that every decision he has made is wrong or bad, so he now makes his choice and then does the OTHER thing calling it the Anti-George, and he's suddenly always right) I would be quite GOOD! In fact, I think I could make a great deal of money on this if I could consistently NOT pick the winner (and thus picking the winner with my anti-choice). I will have to consider that for next years games (someone remind me please and we'll see how it goes).

I also tabulated up my 2012 cycling numbers. It was an 'ok' year for me, but not stellar. Here are my stats:

Bike                       # rides     Miles     ' climbed
Ritchey       Rd        40          1333       97,357'
Canondale  Rd        17            961       62,633'
Santa Cruz MTB     22            391       62,574'
  totals:                    79          2685     222,564'

I'd surely like to up a few of those categories next year, but Im not overly confident it will. You see, I'm a FAIR WEATHER biker. I didn't go out yesterday (New Years Day)because it was quite chilly out (AND, I watched the Outback Bowl, AND I took down all the Christmas lights). But those are just excuses...I could have gone out early but it was COLD (yes, I said chilly before, but I was wrong...the grass was FROZEN from a hard frost). I'm kind of like the ground-hog...I come out of my hole and see if it's sunny (and cold, and windy)...and then the future of cycling for that day is then decided. Which explains why my brother Greg has been CRUSHING me on the bike the last few years. He's been going out BEFORE WORK lately as that's the only time he has to ride...I also have that time available, but it's DARK AND COLD out (and besides, I leave for work at 5:20am most days for my fundraising, work starts at 6:30am...I'd have to get up at midnight or something to slip in a ride and shower). Greg's annual mileage was over 6000 miles I think for 2012 with a gazillion feet of climbing...(or close to it, can't remember for sure, other than I was humbled).

And so.

The new year is far so good. I've got ZERO miles on 2 wheels. But I DO hope to ride tomorrow (Thurs) after work...providing it's not too cold or windy I mean.

Hope your year is off to a banner start! I'd like to hear of any resolutions you've made...(my only one is that I resolve every year not to make any resolutions, which means I immediately resolution is like matter and anti-matter colliding. Or more accurately, Matt'er and Anti-Matt'er...ha ha...get it? Matt's resolution....Matt'er?? I'm so clever sometimes I just slay myself!

OK..I need to sneak back to the game...Jeannie went to bed and the TV is MINE! Not sure what the score is, but Florida just ran a kickoff back for a TD (I think it's the 4th quarter). I think I still have some egg-nog left...mmmmmm!