Tuesday, September 30, 2008

mean girls

OK, I'm now gonna finish up my Olympics coverage, approximately one month after the games ended. Tonight, I am focusing on the US women's soccer team, which brought home gold after a turbulent year on and off the field. It all started at the 2007 World Cup, when US coach Greg Ryan inexplicably decided to bench goalie Hope Solo (a former Washington Husky!) for a crucial match against Brazil. And you know the rest: the US team got crushed 4-0, Solo criticized the coach publicly for his decision, and she was subsequently subjected to an amazing backlash/vendetta by the rest of the team and Ryan. She wasn't allowed to attend the next game, or team meals, or even fly back from China (yes, the women's World Cup and the Olympics were both in China) with the rest of the team. It didn't matter that the coach's decision was obviously wrong, or that Solo had suffered some personal tragedies including the deaths of her father and best friend in the preceding months.
Fortunately, Ryan got canned soon enough, a competent new coach was brought in, and Solo was allowed to rejoin the team. But even then, only one other player on the team would sit next to her or eat meals with her for a long period of time; and she was generally subjected to, as she put it, "a sorority-style atmosphere."
Does this make sense? Most men would say no. As one member of the men's team said in Sports Illustrated, "In England guys get in fights and arguments all the time, and usually within an hour or by the next day everything's fine. But to be completely ostracized? I've never heard of anything like that."
Woman-on-woman cruelty is not confined to soccer, obviously. If I watched more TV shows like Survivor and Real World, I'd probably be able to cite some other examples. And it's probably all explained in that "Women from Venus, Men from Mars" book. But I just find it fascinating. Kind of like how women like to dance, and men don't; and how women are generally much more skilled at interpersonal communications than men. My theory is that it's somehow tied in with human evolution: while men used brute force to survive in a hostile world, women developed other skills to get by, namely dancing and cunning and talking. I think Jared Diamond would agree.
And what of woman-on-man cruelty? While undeniably a real phenomenon, it's hard to make much of it, when it works the other way around most of the time. And again, and fortunately, I just don't a whole lot about it. (Unless you count the pre-school teacher who spanked me for punting one of those red rubber balls inside the room. Or the ex-girlfriend who once accused me of trying to "manipulate" her, after I wrote a long, rambling email to let her know that my mother had passed away a few days earlier.)
So, everything came out OK in the end. Hope Solo got her gold, just like the rest of the team. And Michael Phelps lived up to the hype, and the Chinese women's gymnastics team inspired pre-teens everywhere, and Usain Bolt ... Damn! He's ridiculously fast. It was quite an Olympics. And that's the end of my 2008 Olympics coverage. But one final word to all you Hope-haters: it's soccer, ladies, not Sigma Rho.

the bailout, part 2

Well, it looks like that big ol' bailout plan failed. And I think I know why: because George Bush said we really, really needed to pass it right away. For the good of our country.
Hey! Isn't that what you said about Iraq and the WMD's, Dubya? You know what they say: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ... won't get fooled again.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Nü shüz

The greatest pair of running shoes I've ever owned was a pair of blue Adidas Response trail runners. Man, I loved 'em. Dogs would run away from me when they saw me coming in my Responses: that's how much of a bad-ass I was in them. Sadly, inevitably, like all running shoes, they reached a point where it just wasn't healthy to wear them jogging anymore. I did what I normally do in that situation - put in some insoles to make them last a little longer - but even then, I knew the Days of the Response were numbered. (Relatively: I used to wear them in the hospital on my overnight call, back when I had to do overnight call. And I still wear them when I bike to work.)
So I ended up getting a pair of New Balance shoes a while back. I'm not totally dedicated to Adidas, if something else looks good, though there are certain brands I'll never wear. (I'm talking about you, Nike! You hear me? You suck! Lick my ass!) But as my chicken legs get older, they're also getting a little more particular, and the NB's were not *quite* what they were craving. I needed Adidas.
I checked out zappos.com at the excellent suggestion of my friend Mary Beth, who said they might have the same model I was so attached to ("plus free shipping both ways, if you don't like them!"). Alas, they did not have the Response, or at least anything called the Response that looked like my old shoes. So a couple weeks ago, I trekked out to the Adidas outlet in Johnson Creek, WI, a little less than halfway to Milwaukee, and pulled the trigger on some sweet babies that looked like a million bucks (but were actually a deal) and felt like little masseuses on my feet. (It's the newer-looking one on the left; the other shoe is one of my beloved Responses.) They're called "Running Trail," which is definitely not as catchy or intimidating as "Response," but that's about the only drawback.
See, my problem now is that I run too fast. I've literally been feeling so great in these shoes that I've been overstriding, and I strained my hamstring again as a result. Damn! Think you could ever do that, Nike? Dream on, losers, dream on ...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

M is for maudlin

Those of you people who know me well, know that I am a passionate and caring Seattle Mariners fan. I rise and fall with the Mariners; and right now, the M's have fallen and they can't get up.
And up until a few days ago, I thought that was ... OK. I think sometimes you have to hit bottom, before you can make your comeback. If you start coming back before you hit bottom, you may be coming back too soon. Because once you hit bottom, the impetus for change is so strong that you vault right back up. See?
So, the M's were just awful this year. If I'm not mistaken, they were the first MLB team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 or more games in a season. They fired their manager. They fired their general manager. They fired Richie Sexson, even though they still need to pay him dozens and dozens of millions of dollars. They sucked! But ... they still had Ichiro.
Ichiro Suzuki is my all-time favorite baseball player. He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played! His on-base percentage is huge. He can steal. Occasionally, he can hit for power. He's a defensive demon in the outfield. And he just tied a mark set by Wee Willie Keeler, getting 200 or more hits for 8 straight seasons. Unbelievable. For those of you who don't know Wee Willie Keeler, he was only probably the greatest athlete of all time. And Ichiro has now tied him.
But just a few days ago, some anonymous M's player told the media that Ichiro was disliked in the clubhouse. He said some players had wanted to "knock [Ichiro] out," apparently meaning bludgeon him into unconsciousness. Said something about how Ichiro was a "selfish" player, or some shit like that.
Now, I've never spent time in the M's clubhouse. So I don't know about all that. But I do know this: Ichi is just doing what he's paid to do. Better even than Wee Willie Keeler. He didn't come over here from Japan just so some gaijin could talk junk about him, talk about assaulting him. He came to play well for the Mariners, and to make the people of Seattle and fans of the Mariners love him. And that's just what he's done. And if anyone even tries to knock him out, or do anything bad to him, then I'm going to knock them out. And that's a promise.
You hear me, anonymous bullshit-talking member of the M's? Ichiro's my boy. And Ichi, pay no mind to all that talk. You're among friends here. And I've got your back, chijin.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the bailout

Hoo boy! $700 billion? Is that right? How did this ... happen? Who fell asleep at the switch? Should we blame the big banks for buying and selling all these loans like junk jewelry on QVC? (Hey banks! Those are people's lives you're trading!) Or consumers for ignoring all the fine print on bad mortgages? Or the Federal Reserve for dialing down interest rates to the point where it ignited this kind of feeding frenzy?
I don't know! I'm not an economist. And this isn't a political blog. But don't you think, if you were given the two choices, that this smells more like a Republican scandal than a Democratic one? Can't you smell the greed, and the deregulation? And wasn't Phil Gramm right in the thick of all this? Phil Gramm, John McCain's erstwhile economics adviser? And weren't the foundations of this scandal basically laid by a Republican President and a Republican Congress?
And whatever happened to free enterprise, and capitalism? Isn't there supposed to be some risk involved? Some accountability? If you gamble huge sums of money on the market, knowing that the government will bail you out if you screw up real big, is that really gambling? What is it called if you're gambling with someone else's money, namely Joe Taxpayer's? Personally, I would call it a crime. So is anyone going to jail for this? Or is that too much to hope for? I hope someone's got your number, Phil Gramm. You turd.

Monday, September 22, 2008

hoser reggae

I have a confession to make, people: I am not a huge fan of reggae music. And I know what some of you are thinking: "How can you not like reggae? It's so likable!" And the answer is, I don't know! Maybe I don't like it because it is so calculatedly likable?
And maybe you're also wondering, "What about Bob Marley's Legend?" Well ... OK. Sure. It's got a lot of great songs on it. I own it. But I haven't bought any of his non-greatest hits albums.
But you know what my favorite reggae song is? This is gonna shock you: "The Spirit of Radio" by Rush. Maybe you've never thought of that song, or any Rush song, as reggae. But towards the end of the song, there's a little section where they use this catchy reggae/dub beat for a few seconds. You know, right before Geddy Lee squeals "Concert hall!" And then they do it again for a few more seconds in the next stanza. They do the reggae/dub thing just enough to qualify "Spirit of Radio" as my all-time favorite reggae song.
And just FYI, "Spirit of Radio" is also my favorite song for getting pumped up. You know, like if you're about to go out and play some pick-up football, or if you've just had a bad day and need a little lift. For most people, it's "Eye of the Tiger." But for me, it's "Spirit of Radio."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

olympic moments

Before I go any further, people, I need to point out something: this is not a political blog. Maybe some of you are thinking this is a political blog, because I occasionally touch on matters political. But that's not the case. I like to think this is a solid, all-around sort of blog, more of a wedding present than anything else. But once in a while I do get some trenchant political insights, and damn if I won't share them here! But this is not the Daily Kos. This is not the Huffington Post. And in the same vein, you will not find groundbreaking articles on lemon soda at either of those sites. Keep that in mind.
So, what were we talking about? Ah yes, the Olympics. Well, like I've said before, I know the Games are over, but my commentary lives on. And I wanted to discuss my favorite Olympic moment from the 2008 Games. And this moment did not happen in the pool, or out on the court, or crawling around the edge of the Bird's Nest, or anything like that. No, this is something that took place in the political arena. Namely, George Bush taking the opportunity presented by the Olympics to chastise China for not doing enough to advance freedom and human rights.
Now, I'm not about to go to bat for China's record on freedom and human rights. That's another blog topic altogether. But what about Dubya's rank hypocrisy in bringing up this subject, when he's done more than any other president in recent memory to erode freedom and human rights in the US? See what I'm saying? Did anybody else pick up on that shit? Did you read about that at Daily Kos, or in The Nation? I may not be a full-time political blogger, but I totally think I'm on to something here. Boo yah.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

grace falls on mad city

Tonight was the opening night of the two-day Forward Music Festival here in Madison. It's not like Lollapalooza or that Pitchfork festival or anything like that, but not bad for the MJC. The biggest act performing is Neko Case. I saw her at the Orpheum Theater, with Giant Sand opening.
You know what, people? I think Neko is a special lady. In fact, it's a good thing they had a bunch of big, beefy security guys at the show ... or else I might not have thought twice about bumrushing the stage and giving her the business! Right there, right in front of the drums! Damn!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the train crash

When I published my gripe last week about the trains making too much noise as they go through town here, I never expected that there'd be a major train disaster within the US just a few days later. I mean, was anyone expecting that?It was horrible. And it looks like the issue was not the failure of safety systems, or someone not hearing the train coming, but possibly that the engineer was distracted by text messaging or his cell phone at a critical moment. (!)
At any rate, I don't have much more to say about it, except what an awful, horrific thing. It just reminds me of the duty we all share in driving safely, acting responsibly, looking out for the safety of others, etc. And how random tragedy can be.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

McCain-Palin, part 1

You know, people, I wrote an amusing entry shortly after John McCain picked Sarah Palin, commenting on his selection of someone from Monty Python. But it turns out that this is not a comedy. After reading an article about her in the NY Times on Sunday, it seems more like a damn horror movie. Some of the more frightening features: once elected governor, Palin appointed old friends from junior high school with little or no applicable experience to high-ranking, high-paying state posts. She's vengeful as all hell, and used her power to get a variety of municipal officials or employees fired (not just that one dude, the state trooper). She relies on charm to gloss over her lack of knowledge about issues. She's ambitious as all hell. She takes more vacation time than George Bush. As mayor, she tried to have books censored or removed from the public library, and even went after the staff of the town museum. Want more? Read the article.
This kind of reminds me of the whole Clarence Thomas thing. Remember that? You know, a grossly unqualified GOP lackey being nominated to a exceedingly important position, for reasons completely unrelated to competency or merit. But everything worked out just fine in the end there, right? So maybe we shouldn't be so alarmed about "The Barracuda" after all.

the taste of summer

It's been said that writing about soda, or some combination of soda and ice cream, is the last refuge of a desperate blogger. And since I'm obviously still going strong, and crankin', I'm sure that people out there are wondering why I'm devoting today's entry to soda. Well, to put it bluntly, this Jones Lemon Drop soda is the bomb.
I'm a little partial to Jones, for several reasons: I like the name, they're underdogs, they do cool things like printing random pictures submitted by customers on their packaging, they're not afraid to make turkey-and-gravy soda, and I suspect they take good care of their employees.
And last but not least, they're based in Seattle, and some of their flavors are really good. Take Lemon Drop: each sip is like a mouthful of sweet Seattle summer rain. (Or maybe it's winter rain, or fall rain. All that rain started to taste the same to me after a while.) At any rate, it's got the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness, and it's all that.
I think Lemon Drop is right up there with San Pellegrino Limonata, which is a damn good carbonated beverage. And it puts Sprite and 7-Up and Mountain Dew to shame. And here's why: number 1, they use cane sugar instead of that high-fructose corn syrup shit. And number 2, it's just lemon. None of this lemon-lime nonsense. Now, don't get me wrong - I like limes. A lot. I wish there was a lime soda. But lemon-lime soda: what's up with that??? Why couldn't they just leave a good thing alone? From a marketing perspective, it probably seemed like a brilliant idea to combine the two; but from a gustatory perspective, it was a black day in soda history.
Sometimes, it's good to take a step back and just think about simplifying things, back to where they came from. Maybe we shouldn't be injecting cheese into pizza crusts, to make cheesy crust pizza. And maybe we should be taking the lime out of lemon-lime. We're all indebted to you, Jones, for leading the way.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

tri tri tri again

Last Sunday was Triathlon Day in the MJC, as the Ironman series rolled through town for their annual event here. I actually got up early enough to see the 7 am start, then passed a bunch of people during the marathon stage while out on a bike ride, and finally saw some people finish around the 13-hour mark. Damn, that stuff is inspirin'. Just the start alone, with a couple of thousand swimmers bobbing in the water, waiting for the gun, and rock music blaring over the speakers. And the finish! Can you imagine crossing the finish line after a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, and then a marathon? Sheeee-it. That makes my "gold star day" the week before look like some kind of diaper derby.
Well, I'm gonna let you in on a secret: last year, after seeing some of the Ironman here, I looked into signing up for the 2008 event. Which was kind of foolhardy, admittedly, because I've struggled and broken down in helpless sobs both times I've tried to do just a marathon. But I'm telling you, that stuff was inspirin'! But by the time I checked it out, it was already completely filled. So, earlier this week, I steeled my nerves again, and went to the Ironman registration site. And ... the 2009 event was already totally sold out!
Yessssss! I'm saved!
But fear not, people, because I have a plan that may save me some face. After careful consideration and a little research, I'm thinking of breaking into this triathlon nonsense with a "half-Ironman," or a 70.3, or whatever you want to call it. Each stage is half the distance of a regular triathlon, which is still kind of intimidating, but maybe a good way to get my feet wet. (Get it? Swimming? Wet feet?)
More on all this stuff later. Right now I'm just talkin' the talk, but before you know it I may be walkin' the walk, and ridin' the bike, and swimmin', and breakin' down and cryin' like a little bitch baby ...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

menaces II society

I've been in Mad City for over a year now. I like it here. It's chill. But there be one thing burnin' me up inside; and if you also live in or near or around the MJC, you probably know what I'm talkin' about. That's right: the trains. They be runnin' through the city at all hours, blowin' them horns and shit. 2 am, 5 am, 11:15 pm - it don't matter. Whenever they come through, they blow it up big so that everyone knows they around.
And my question is, why? Why they be doin' it? Because if you drivin', and that train comin' down your way, this big wooden thing with flashing lights comes down cross the road, all ding ding ding and shit. It will not let you through! And it's not like those trains be creepin' through the neighborhood. You hear them comin' from a looooong ways away. Know what I'm sayin'? So I don't know if that horn supposed to scare the raccoons and squirrels off the track, or what the fuck. But it don't fly with me. I mean, why not put some psychedelic laser show on the front of the train, to keep that shit clear? It'd be like, "Watch out, homey! Get back! Or I'll fuck up yo' eyes with Dark Side of the Moon." And that would not be wakin' people, neither.
It's like cell phones. People be talkin' about how they cause brain cancer. Now, maybe they do, and maybe they don't. But what we gonna do? Stop usin' them? If there's a 0.02 percent chance of gettin' brain cancer from a cell phone, people still be usin' them. Why? Because we cannot ... go back. It's like cars. We know they be risky, but we keep on usin' them. We accept the risk, because what we gonna do? Not use them? It's like hamburgers too. And I say, we can do without the horns on the bitchass trains. Because they don't scare nobody, and nobody need them. All they doin' is fuckin' with the QOL in the MJC.
And that remind me of the reason why I left Seattle. Yeahh, that's right: the drawbridges. Them, and that shitbag Tim Eyman. But mostly the drawbridges. You know what I'm talkin' about, Seattle people: you be goin' cross town, trying to take a shortcut through Montlake, and BAM! Up goes the drawbridge. And there you are, stuck in your car, holding yo' dick. All so Paul Allen can drive his big-ass boat from the one lake, to the other lake. Well, here's what I say: charge for that shit! If he wanna drive his boat through, charge his ass maybe $300 every time. You wanna fuck with traffic, and the people? Well, the people gonna fuck with you. And don't be puttin' that money in some general fund or whatever, neither. I want the man to come out the little drawbridge house with Paul Allen's money, and start handin' it out to people sittin' in cars. Damn! That shit would make my day ...

Sunday, September 7, 2008


I love these things. They grow by the side of the road, like weeds, but they're beautiful. Plus, they're named after corn. I love corn. It's awesome.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

the original mad city

Some of you people may have noticed that the URL for my blog is the ponderous www.blogmadcity.blogspot.com. And you've probably wondered, "What's this shizzle? Why didn't he just go with www.madcity.blogspot.com?" Well, the answer is that that address was already taken, by one Jerry Litzau Jr. And if you're expecting me to launch a Mad City-style tirade on his ass, think again. I don't know Jerry personally, but I've checked out his site and his profile. He seems like a good guy, plus he's visually-impaired. I have the utmost respect for the visually-impaired. Plus, Jerry seems like a gentle soul, so the "Mad City" address for his blog is almost whimsical. True, he doesn't publish much, but I suspect he doesn't have a lot of --
Come to think of it, what the hell Jerry? You grab the greatest blog address of all time, and then you don't even publish much??? Is this a joke? Are you deliberately trying to make my life difficult? What have I done to deserve this? Why, I oughtta ... um ...
Salute you, I guess. Because we're basically doing the same deal, the best way we know how. And trying to keep it real in the process. So don't mind me, Jerry: it's all good, bro. Keep on rockin' in the MJC ...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

cancer part 1

Over time I'll probably have a lot to say here about cancer, given my choice of oncology as a career path. But before getting to anything else, I just wanted to publish a little plea: sign up for the National Bone Marrow Registry. It's a simple thing to do, and it really can give you the opportunity to save someone's life. Diseases like leukemia and multiple myeloma can be treated with chemotherapy and other medications to prolong life and control symptoms, but typically the only long-term cure is a transfusion of blood stem cells from another person. These cells not only produce new blood cells (i.e. platelets, red blood cells, white blood cells), but can also fight the underlying blood disease through a weird process known as graft vs. tumor effect, wiping out any malignant cells that remain after chemotherapy. Sometimes the donated cells can also damage normal tissues and organs in the recipient, which is known as graft vs. host disease. But already, I can tell my little talk here is getting overly long and technical, and people are skipping back to my piece on the #1 rock song of all time, so let me simplify things:

YOUR STEM CELLS CAN CURE SOMEONE'S LEUKEMIA. And donating them is not much more complicated than donating blood. You can read more about it, in layman's terms, at the National Marrow Donor Program site.

I'm kind of embarrassed to say that even after meeting and caring for people with leukemia and other blood illnesses during my residency, I didn't sign up for the donor registry until I developed a personal connection to someone who needed stem cells. It's, like, a three-degree connection: my friend's wife's brother. But if you too had an opportunity to meet Steve, you'd soon learn that he's a great guy, and you'd be more than willing to do this simple thing to help him. (Well, that is, your chances of being a donor match for Steve per se, or anyone outside your family, are quite small. Almost like hitting the lottery. But you know what I mean.)

Check out Steve's blog! There's a link to it right over there, on the right.
And FYI, signing up for the registry costs about $50. Just do it! Damn cheapskates!

Monday, September 1, 2008

a gold-star day

People, how was your Labor Day weekend? Mine went swimmingly. Or should I say, bicycling-ly? Ha ha ha. But yes, I did go for a big-ass ride yesterday: the Wright Stuff Century, the big summer event for the local Bombay Bicycle Club. The name is a reference to Frank Lloyd Wright (the route passes Taliesin, his summer home in Spring Green WI) and the length of the ride (100 miles). Actually, participants can do routes of 40, 60, or 100 miles. Last year, I did the 60. This year, I rode with my friend Mary Beth, who was dead-set on doing the whole schlemiel. And we did it! Though we were, in fact, almost dead by the time we finished.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Wisconsin, right? Midwest. Flat as a pancake." Au contraire. The course was kinda brutal, with grinding, winding uphills and swooping descents liberally sprinkled throughout. And while I'm grateful it didn't rain, in an ideal world I also wouldn't order cloudless skies with temps in the low 90's. Fortunately, the BBC and its many volunteers offered lots of support along the way. We hit just about every rest stop and water break on the route. Started just before 8 am, finished a little before 5:30 pm, with somewhere between 7 and 8 hrs. of riding total. Free beer at the finish. (This is Wisconsin, after all.)
And look at my registration number! The sexiest number in the whole field! I guess they've been reading the blog ...