Monday, January 31, 2011

Music Monday Tribute to President Reagan

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan waving from the... As I mentioned in yesterday's post, this is Reagan Week here on The Second Chance Sheepdog because this coming Sunday, February 6th, would be President Reagan's 100th birthday. For today's Music Monday, I have chosen a video (see below) for a song that was released in 1984 and was played at the 1984 Republican National Convention when President Reagan accepted the nomination to run for re-election. The song is well known and considered by many to be one of the greatest patriotic songs ever written.

I doubt Lee Greenwood had any idea how popular God Bless the USA would become when writing and recording it. It was on his You've Got a Good Love Comin' album and reached #7 on the charts. We each get a lump in our throat each time we hear the song. After the debacle of the Carter Administration, Reagan was the right president at the right time. He united the country and restored it's pride and economy. I cannot think of a better song to dedicate to his memory as we approach his 100th birthday. Mr. President, we thank you for the memories and all you did to serve your country. Happy Birthday. You are sorely missed.

P.S. My e-mail subscribers can view the video by clicking here.

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Reagan Week on The Sheepdog

Official Portrait of President Ronald ReaganThe coming week will be a little different on The Second Chance Sheepdog. Next Sunday, February 6th, will not only be Super Bowl Sunday, but it would also be President Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday if he were still with us. Reagan is one of my heroes and my favorite president. In my opinion, he is the best president of my lifetime.  He was not only a great leader, but also a great man. He loved his country, his family, and the Lord. His faith is one thing that drove him. Many times, I think of how much we could use him now in this perilous time, and I will do what I can to honor his memory here on this blog this week. Tuesday and Thursday will still be dedicated to organ and tissue transplant advocacy. However, Music Monday, Wild Wednesday, and Freedom Friday will be days of honoring and remembering President Reagan. I hope everyone will check back and enjoy those three special days. Due to all the great things he did for this country during the eight years he was president, I think he deserves to be honored on what would be his 100th birthday.
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Friday, January 28, 2011

We have a state bird, state flower, and state song, but we're lacking a state .... gun ??

The State of Utah may soon have a State Gun. recently reported in Utah May Adopt a State Gun that the Utah State House of Representatives voted 51-19 in favor of a bill this past Wednesday that would declare the Browning 1911 the state gun. Rep. Carl Wimmer, the bill's sponsor, said the bill's purpose is simply to honor John Moses Browning. Browning, from Utah, designed the gun in the early 1900s and it became standard issue for the U.S. Army for 75 years protecting our military and our freedoms.

As you can imagine, the bill has stirred emotions. Some in favor and some opposed. The ones in favor like the idea of honoring Browning, one of their own, because of the gun's contribution to defending freedom. The opposition's reasons range from believing the state legislature has more important business to take care of to not wanting kids to see guns in coloring books about state symbols. Both sides have good points .... except for the one about not wanting kids to see guns in coloring books. I understand that they're wanting to "protect the children," but this is ludicrous. Kids see and hear  violence, immorality, and filthy language on TV and in trashy music all the time but no one does anything about "protecting" them from that. Plus, pornography is rampant destroying families all across the country, but we just can't let them see a picture of a gun. That would be just terrible and possibly scar them for life (sarcasm added) !! I would love it if just for once people could come up with an "excuse" that actually makes some sense. Give me a freaking break already.

The bill now goes to the Utah State Senate for a vote. It will be interesting to see how it turns out. It makes me wonder, though - what would be a good state gun for Tennessee ? Any suggestions ?
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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Heart recipient meets donor's mom for first time

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When organ recipients meet the families of their donors for the first time, it is usually an emotional moment. The first meeting between Eric Ford, heart recipient, and Renee Varela, his donor's mother, was no exception. In August of 2010, Renee's 18-year old son, Anthony, was tragically killed by a drunk driver. However, in the midst of the tragedy, Anthony saved the life of Eric, who was waiting on his second heart transplant after the first one received in 2006 failed.

In the story and video on titled Mother Meets Man Whose Life Was Saved by Son's Organ Donation, it tells about how Renee had a very short time to consent to Anthony's donation. She knew, however, it was the right thing to do because it's what Anthony would have wanted. She described him as a giving person who liked to help people. The article goes on to say that Renee listened to Eric's chest to hear her son's heart beat again and doing so made her "... so glad." Hopefully, Eric will receive many, many quality years of life from Eric's priceless gift.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

5 passengers

President George W. Bush and Speaker of the Ho...
An airplane was about to crash carrying 5 passengers but only 4 parachutes.

The first passenger said, "I am President Obama, the chosen one. The world needs me, I can't afford to die." So he took the first pack and left the plane. 

The second passenger, Nancy Pelosi said, "I am the former Speaker of the House and the smartest woman in American history. So, America 's people don't want me to die." She took the second pack and jumped off the plane. 

The third passenger, John Kerry, said, "I'm a Senator and a decorated war hero from the United States Navy." So he grabbed the pack next to him and jumped. 

The fourth passenger, former-President George W. Bush, said to the fifth passenger, a 10-year-old schoolgirl, "I have lived a full life and served my country the best I could. I will sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute." 

The girl said, "That's okay. There's a parachute left for you. America's smartest woman took my schoolbag."
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kidney exhanges making toughest matches possible recently reported some much needed good news for people in need of a kidney transplant. The publication's Kidney Exchange Program Makes 1st Matches story told about a new program started by the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) that is already proving to be a success. The new pilot program matches donor-recipient pairs who are incompatible through a pool. Two people, Kathy Niedzwiecki and Ken Crowder, have already received the life-saving kidney transplants they needed because of the program.

Kathy and Ken both had family members who were willing to donate but were not compatible matches for them. Basically, a kidney exchange, also known as a paired donation works something like this - "My (sister, brother, friend, etc.) needs a kidney transplant, but I'm not a match for them. Your (sister, brother, friend) needs one, too. I'll donate a kidney to your (sister, brother, friend), if you'll donate one to my (sister, brother, friend)." It sounds a little complicated, but it's really not. It's kinda like, "I'll scratch my back if you'll scratch mine." In Cathy's case, her sister-in-law donated a kidney to Ken, and Ken's fiancee donated a kidney to Kathy. It's a little convoluted, but it saved two lives and that's what's important.

UNOS spent several years working out the details of the new exchange program, and Kathy and Ken's exchange was the first one done under it. UNOS says that in the last three years more than 700 such exchanges have taken place worldwide. With 77 transplant centers across the U.S. participating in the new program, it is estimated that an additional 1000-3000 kidney transplants can be done each year. The news of the program's roll-out is particularly good for people who need kidney transplants but are hard to find matches for. Doctors believe that this new process with the national pool will make it easier to find matches for them improving their chances of receiving a transplant. It is also believed that once the program completes it's pilot phase more transplant centers will get involved leading to a larger pool and even greater chances of finding compatible matches.

A larger pool with greater chances for a match means more kidney transplants. More kidney transplants means more lives saved. I think we can all agree that's a good thing.

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Monday, January 24, 2011

A little KISS on Music Monday

In this past Friday's post, I promised a double shot of KISS in today's Music Monday post. My original plan was to post two live concert videos, but I changed my mind because one of my goals for this blog is to keep it as "Family Friendly" as possible. After watching the two live videos a few more times, I decided that they were not family friendly enough. So, I decided to go with two regular videos (please watch them below), such as would have been played on MTV or VH1.

The first video is "Crazy, Crazy Nights" from the band's 1987 album titled Crazy Nights. Crazy Nights went platinum and was the band's highest charting album of the '80s. The second video is "Hide Your Heart" from the band's 1989 album titled Hot in the Shade which went gold. You will notice that "Hide Your Heart" is the alternate uncensored version. However, there is nothing vulgar or otherwise offensive in the video. There is another version of this video which omits the images of the guns. The "uncensored" version in this blog post does not. In my opinion, it shows how political correctness has gotten out of control when images of guns are censored out of an artist's work.

Rock N Roll's soul has always been rooted in rebellion. Therefore, this conservative, 2nd Amendment advocate, and gun-enthusiast rebelled against the Liberal, anti-gun establishment by running the "uncensored" version which shows the guns. My blog, my freedom, my rules, my choice - live with it gun haters. With that, I conclude my political statement for the day. Enjoy the videos and keep rockin'. We'll do it again next Monday.

P.S. I bet you will be tapping you're foot by the time you finish these two videos. Furthermore, if you're a KISS fan, both of these songs can be found on their The Complete Collection CD. You can pick up a copy by clicking on the image in the upper left corner of this post. It's a heck of a deal. You get 45 KISS classics for about $17. Or, if you just want the MP3's of these two songs, you can get them by clicking on the image, too. Where can you beat that deal ?

(My e-mail subscribers can click here to see the videos.)

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Sheepdog's picks for the NFC and AFC Championships

Late Sunday evening we will know which two teams will square off in Dallas in Super Bowl XLV. The NFL Playoffs started with twelve and now we're down to four battling for a shot at the Lombardi Trophy. Each of the teams remaining have won at least one Super Bowl. The question is who's gonna win another one.

There's been eight playoff games played so far. I've picked five correctly and three wrong. Upsets account for the three I missed with the Packers being responsible for two of them. Last week, I picked 3 out of 4 games correctly, including the Jets huge upset of the Patriots in Foxboro. I am very proud of that pick as several people thought I was nuts. Remember, defense wins championships and that was the key in the Jets win.

Sunday's AFC and NFC Championship games will feature both of the number two seeds hosting both of the number six seeds. I believe we will see another upset in those two games. My picks are :

  • NFC Championship : Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears - Sunday, January 23rd, 3 PM EST on FOX -  Green Bay and Chicago played twice during the regular season with each team winning at home. Chicago came into the playoffs as the number two seed in the NFC. Last week, they jumped out to a 28-0 lead on Seattle in the snow. However, Seattle got back in the game in the 4th quarter and only lost to the Bears 35-24. I'm not sure if the Bears let up on them or if the Seahawks just picked it up when the weather improved later in the game. Green Bay squeaked into the playoffs as the number six seed in the NFC. They have been on fire since the playoffs started shocking a lot of people, including me. In back to back weeks, they traveled to third-seeded Philadelphia and won, and then backed that up by beating the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta. They're on a bit of a roll. Sheepdog's pick - I think Chicago quit last week and Green Bay is red-hot right now. The Packers are accustomed to bad weather, so weather will not be a concern this week. I've picked against the Packers two weeks in a roll and got burned. I'm not making that mistake again. I'll take Green Bay in their third straight upset.
  • AFC Championship : N.Y. Jets @ Pittsburgh Steelers - 6:30 PM EST Sunday, January 23rd on CBS - The Jets pulled off the biggest upset of the playoffs last week. They were motivated by revenge in beating the Patriots. After entering the playoffs as the 6th seed in the AFC, they've had a great playoff run beating 3rd seeded Indianapolis and top seeded New England. Both wins were on the road, too. The Steelers, on the other hand, entered the playoffs as the number two seed and finished the regular season 2nd in total defense. They made a huge comeback against the Ravens last Sunday going on a 24-3 run in the second half to win 31-24. Sheepdog's pick - "Defense wins Championships" and the Steelers defense is playing better than anybody right now. Plus, at this stage of the season, a quarterback with experience is very important. With Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have the edge there, too. The Jets were motivated by revenge when winning last week. This week, the Steelers are. They remember the Jets coming into Pittsburgh and winning 22-17 a few weeks ago. The loss eliminated any hope the Steelers had of earning the #1 seed. The Jets will get a dose of their own medicine this week. I'm taking the Steelers.
So, there you have it. Super Bowl XLV will be the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 6th. Will the Steelers win a record 7th Super Bowl title or will the Packers win their 4th ? We'll know in a couple of weeks. Enjoy the games this weekend.
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Friday, January 21, 2011

Obama wasn't the cure Dr. Love was looking for

Gene Simmons a.k.a. Dr. Love of KISS recently went on record in this video interview as saying he would like to have his vote for Obama back. Based upon some of the comments in the interview, Simmons is a political conservative. I never would have guessed it. I appreciate his honesty. It lets you know where he stands. Unfortunately, we don't see a lot of it anymore.

In honor of Simmons' straight talk in the interview, next week's Music Monday will be a double shot of KISS  videos. It'll be fun. KISS has a rowdy reputation, but the two videos I've picked are "family friendly." If you're a longtime KISS fan you'll want to see them. Be ready to rock on Monday.

Until then ...

They call me 
(Dr. Love)
They call me Dr. Love
I am your doctor of love
(Dr. Love)
I've got the cure you're thinkin' of

From the song "Dr. Love" 
on the album Rock and Roll Over (1976)
Music and lyrics by KISS
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The Sheepdog's nominee for 2010 Picture of the Year

Thursday, January 20, 2011

From tragedy comes Hope and Life

For some time, most of the news coming out of the State of Arizona has been bad. We've heard about their illegal immigration problems, the fact that transplant patients have been kicked off Medicaid, and most recently about the shooting which took 6 lives and injured over a dozen more people, including Congresswoman Giffords. Now, we hear another story from about the tragic Arizona shooting, but this one is about a heroic 9-year old girl with a giving heart.

Christina Taylor Green was the youngest victim of the shooting, but that is not what she should be remembered for. The Green family is a giving family who helps others regularly. Christina was no exception. The family is committed to organ donation. When Christina's grandmother passed away last year, the family donated her organs. So, when Christina's parents learned that Christina was gone, they decided to donate her organs and tissues, too. They believed it's what she would want. According to the story and accompanying video within it, Parents of Christina Taylor Green, 9, Urge Others to Consider Organ Donation, Christina's gifts saved the life of a little girl in Boston and gave eyesight to two other children. Donation often, as it did in the Green's case, gives donor families comfort and peace during their time of grief. I know from talking to my own donor family that it did them. In fact, Christiana's mom, Roxanna, said, "In this tragedy, I lost my daughter and she is never going to come back, so why not help someone else, to help them live a better life with their sight or organs." She went on to say, "But through all the sadness and the bad things, in the organ donation process, there is happiness." Donor families all across this country can echo her words. They are all heroes.

The article also says that the Green's are Catholics whose faith is very important to them. Therefore, I think they would probably agree that Christina's story is a real-life example of Romans 8:28 (KJV) which says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." The families of the little girl in Boston whose life was saved by Christina and the children whose eyesight was restored might very well agree.
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Apple's Jobs taking another medical leave

Image by acaben on Flicker. reports that Steve Jobs (pictured right), Apple's CEO and Co-Founder, is taking another medical leave of absence from the company. In the article, Why is Steve Jobs Taking Medical Leave ?, it states that no other information about his health was released.

Jobs has taken medical leave of absences before. The first was in 2004 when he was fighting pancreatic cancer. The second, in 2009, was for a liver transplant. We transplant patients have been taught that our health can be very delicate. We are subject to an increased risk of infection because our immune systems are suppressed to prevent rejection. We also have a higher risk of developing cancer for the same reason. We have to be wary of potential side affects from our anti-rejection medication, too. Plus, there's still a small chance of rejection even when you take your medication as instructed. Any of these things or something completely unrelated to Jobs' transplant could be the reason for his medical leave.

I have been told and read on several occasions that the normal protocol for giving a cancer survivor a transplant is that they have to be cancer free for five years prior to their transplant. The rational is very simple. Physicians want to be as reasonably sure as possible that a patient is cancer free before giving them a transplant. Why ? Any cancer cells still in the body at the time of transplant are likely to begin growing again when the body's immune system is suppressed by the anti-rejection drugs they must take. One way to look at it is that it's like pouring gasoline on a fire. Unfortunately in such a situation, the cancer cells are the fire and anti-rejection meds are the gasoline. The meds allow the cancer cells to take off and start growing which is not a good thing for the patient.

I am not a doctor by any means - just a former heart patient who is now a heart recipient. However, I suspect that Jobs' cancer may have returned. He was right on the edge of the five-year window when he received his transplant. I hope that is not the case. I hope it's something minor and easy to treat. Whatever the situation is, I wish him the best and hope he gets many more quality years out of his "second chance."

Related articles

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Football questionnaire

Tennessee Titans logo
Tennessee Titans logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Q. What do you call 47 millionaires sitting around a TV watching the Super Bowl ?
A. The Tennessee Titans football team.

Q. How do you keep a Titan out of your yard ?
A. Put up a goal post.

Q. What do you call a Titan at the Super Bowl ?
A. A fan.

Q. What's the difference between the Tennessee Titans and a dollar bill ?
A. You can still get four quarters out of a dollar bill.

Q. What do the Tennessee Titans and Billy Graham have in common ?
A. They both can make 70,000 people stand up and yell "Jesus Christ !!!"

Q. What do the Titans and a possum have in common ?
A. Both play dead at home and get killed on the road.

Q. How many Titans does it take to win a Super Bowl ?
A. Nobody knows.

Lastly, everyone needs to know that the Tennessee Highway Patrol and Metro Nashville Police Department have announced a crackdown on speeders. For the first offense, they give you two Titans tickets. If you get stopped a second time, they make you use them.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Infant donor saves 3 lives

Today, I ran across a perfect example of something good coming from something bad in an article on the Stanford School of Medicine's website. An article, One Organ Donor's Gifts Save Three Lives at Packard Children's, tells the story of how a brave 7-year old girl saved the lives of a 2-year old, an 8-year old, and a 5-month old when she passed away. One family's sorrow brought joy to the parents of three other children.

Each of the three recipients were suffering from organ failure as a result of congenital defects. Micah, the 2-year old, had been on kidney dialysis since he was 10 days old. Becky, the 8-year old, had a heart that was deteriorating rapidly. Alexie, the 5-month old, was almost out of a time with a liver so diseased it had stunted her growth. Now, all three are doing well and their parents are eternally grateful that their sons and daughters have a second chance to grow up.

It's all because a family somewhere thought of others while going through their own time of grief. They are heroes who we should bless with our prayers during their time of grief. However, they can take comfort in the fact that their little girl, who left them too soon, left a legacy that three families will never forget nor take for granted.

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Mayo Clinic set transplant record in 2010

Mayo ClinicThe Mayo Clinic recently reported on its website that it set a new record for organ transplants at its Arizona facility in 2010 (read press release here). Their Arizona facility performed 199 kidney, 26 kidney / pancreas, 60 liver, and 22 heart transplants for a total of 307 last year. Its previous record was 301. With similar numbers at its facilities in Florida and Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic now performs more transplants than any other transplant center in the U.S.

Some may consider these numbers as merely a statistic. However, to folks, such as myself, who have experienced the awesome, life-saving miracle of an organ transplant, each one of these 307 is an individual life. A person whose life and time with a spouse, family, and friends has been extended thanks to great medical personnel and a giving donor. We don't take any of it for granted.

If you have not yet signed up to be an organ and tissue donor, I want to encourage you to take the time today to visit the Donate Life America website by clicking here. There, you can learn more about it and find out how to sign up in the state where you live. In many states, you can do it in just a few minutes from your computer in the comfort of your home. Please do it today.
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Arizona businesses standing in the gap for transplant patients

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer meeting with Presi...Over the last month, I have ran a few blog posts (see bottom of this post) that have been highly critical of the decision of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (pictured right with Obama) to cut off Medicaid funding for organ transplants in her state. In the last couple of days, I've ran across some good news for the transplant patients affected in an article, Businesses Aim to Fund Transplants Cut by State, on the Arizona Daily Star's website.

A former Arizona State Legislator, Leo Corbet, is not only protesting the state's decision to cut off the much needed funding but has also called for Arizona businesses to step up and donate the funds. Corbet, who received a heart transplant in 2001, is currently president of a non-profit group, New Life Society, that works to raise awareness of organ donation. Corbet has set up a bank account at Wells Fargo where the donations can be sent. None of the money will go to administrative costs. The account is called "Transplant Assistance Project." Donations are tax deductible and the program's motto is "Tomorrow Is Too Late."

Corbert believes that even if the state changes its mind and restores the funding, it will be too late for many of Arizona's transplant patients. Therefore, he is pushing ahead with this project and urging Arizona businesses to help out immediately. Personally, I think this story proves two things - 1) "where there's a will, there's a way," and 2) that the government doesn't always have the answer, but American ingenuity and love for fellow man usually does. Kudos to Corbet and the New Life Society. May God Bless their efforts to raise the $4 Million dollars needed.

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New California law requires paid leave for bone marrow and organ donation

Category:U.S. State Population Maps Category:C...
Image byJimIrwin on Wikipedia.

I recently read on (Southern California Public Radio) about a wonderful new California law that went into effect at the first of the year. The article, Most California Employers Required to Give Paid Leave to Bone Marrow, Organ Donors, says the law requires most employers in the state to grant paid leave to employees who choose to give the gift of life by donating an organ or bone marrow. The law applies to all California employers with more than 15 employees. The law states that employers must give 5 days off for bone marrow donation and 30 for organ donation. The statute does allow employers to require a donor to use up their sick (up to 5 days) or vacation (up to two weeks) time first. However, in order to do that, employers must adopt a written policy to that effect and then explain it to their employees.

The State of California has taken a great first step to encourage people to be living donors. Hopefully, more states will follow their lead. However, I believe the law could be improved. I would like to see the provision removed that allows employers to require a worker to use their sick or vacation time first. In my opinion, the provision penalizes the employee for choosing to do the right thing in giving the gift of life. The employee should be rewarded instead. For instance, the law could establish a new leave category for employers where the employees are not docked leave for donating. It could be called "Donate Life Leave" or "Gift of Life Leave." Or, it could set up two categories, such as "Bone Marrow Donation Leave" and "Organ Donation Leave." Two categories would allow for better tracking of leave taken. Employers would probably cry foul, though, because it would increase their leave costs and force them to cover shifts and jobs when people are out due to donation. To address those concerns, the state could do one of two things - 1) reimburse the employer for the cost of the donation leave, or 2) allow the employer to take the cost as a charitable contribution deduction on their taxes since California has a state income tax.

As I said earlier, I think the law's a great start, but it could be improved with a little work and ingenuity. Plus, when it comes to costs and money, you can't put a price tag on a human life.

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Third Day's first appearance on Music Monday

Today, on the third edition of my Music Monday series, the featured artist is Third Day. Third Day was formed in the early '90s and has quickly become one of the most popular Christian artists of our time. Third Day has recorded more than 15 records with many of them going either gold or platinum. Today's Third Day video is their hit Revelation from their 2008 record of the same name.

The band recently announced tour plans to promote their newest album Move. The tour will kick-off on February 18th in Mercedes, TX and visit 40 U.S. cities including five within the state of Tennessee :
  1. Johnson City - March 31st
  2. Cordova - April 14th
  3. Knoxville - April 15th
  4. Chattanooga - May 12th
  5. Nashville - May 14th
For all the dates and locations please visit the "Touring" page on Third Day's website by clicking here. Since Third Day is one of my favorite Christian artists, it's safe to say that even though this is their first appearance on The Sheepdog's Music Mondays, it won't be their last. Enjoy.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Sheepdog's pick's for the NFL Divisional Playoffs

Last weekend's NFL playoffs had four great games with one big upset. I predicted that 3 out of 4 home teams would lose last weekend, and I was right. However, it was not the three I predicted. Like most people, I missed the Seattle upset of New Orleans, and I also missed Green Bay's win over Philadelphia. Overall, I picked 2 out of 4 games correctly.

I think this weekend's Divisional Playoff round will see another big upset. However, where I picked against the home teams last weekend, I'm going with them this weekend. I think 3 of the 4 home teams will win, and the one that doesn't is my "Upset Special." Here's my picks :
  • Baltimore @ Pittsburgh - Saturday @ 4:30 PM EST on CBS -  These two teams split their meetings during the regular season with the Ravens winning in Pittsburgh while Ben Roethlisberger was out on suspension and the Steelers winning in Baltimore with Roethlisberger back at quarterback. Everyone knows there is no love lost between these two teams. The rivalry goes back decades since the Ravens are the "old" Cleveland Browns and is generally brutal on the field. Both teams have great defenses but the Steelers offense is superior to the Ravens. During the first two meetings, the Steelers offense was sputtering having trouble moving the football. However, late in the season the Steelers offense came to life. Plus, Pittsburgh is coming off a much needed bye week which gave them time to rest and get healthy from the plague of injuries the team has faced this season. Sheepdog's pick - It's "Crow Season" in Pittsburgh !! Today's game will be close until the fourth quarter, then the Steelers will pull away winning by at least 10.
  • Green Bay @ Atlanta - Saturday @ 8 PM EST on FOX - The Packers and the Falcons met earlier in the year in Atlanta with the Falcons winning a close one 20-17. Sheepdog's pick - The Packers played a great game against the Eagles last week. However, their season ends today. I'll take the Falcons.
  • Seattle @ Chicago - Sunday @ 1 PM EST on FOX - The Seahawks and Bears met back in October in Chicago with Seattle squeaking out a 23-20 win. However, the weather conditions in Chicago will be much different this time around with a game time temperature in the low 20s. Sheepdog's pick - Even though the Seahawks shocked the country with their upset of the defending Super Bowl Champ Saints last weekend, their Cinderella Season ends in the Windy City. They're in Bear country and Bear weather. I'll take Chicago.
  • N.Y. Jets @ New England - Sunday @ 4:30 PM EST on CBS - The Jets and the Patriots met twice in the regular season. They split the season series with each winning at home. The key factor in each win was the turnover margin. In the first game in New York, The Jets won 28-14. The Jets committed no turnovers while the Patriots committed 3 including 2 Tom Brady interceptions. The second game in Foxboro saw the Patriots stomp the Jets 45-3. The key was once again turnovers with the Patriots committing none and the Jets committing 3. Turnovers will be key again as they always are in the playoffs. Colts fans didn't think the Jets would march into Indy last week and beat Peyton Manning at his place. The Patriots' fans are probably thinking the same this week. I believe the Jets are fired up and looking for some payback for that 45-3 thumping the Patriots put on them on Monday Night Football on December 6th. Sheepdog's pick - Patriots "are one and done." I'm taking the Jets in this weeks "Upset Special." Tom Brady's hope for a 4th Super Bowl ring will have to wait at least another year, and the Road to the Super Bowl makes a sharp detour to the south. The AFC Championship will be played in Pittsburgh.
Well, there you have it. The Sheepdog's picks for the NFL Divisional Playoffs. I know the Patriots' fans are weeping, wailing, and gnashing their teeth over me picking against them, but they'll get over it .... eventually. Y'all enjoy the offseason. Plus, look on the bright side - now Tom Brady will have plenty of time to get that haircut that Randy Moss was dissing him about.

Go Steelers !!
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    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Use some common sense and "chillax"

    We're all saddened by the events in Arizona last Saturday when Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (pictured right) and others were targeted by a shooter, Jared Loughner. I've listened to the pundits, so-called experts, and the media express their opinions on TV, the internet, and blogs. I've heard people on the Left blame folks on the Right, such as Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others. Then, I've listened to the Right turn around and blame the Left. I've seen the reports that some members of Congress want to pass new gun control laws and restrict speech because of the shooting. However, it's apparent to me that what we really need is for everyone to take a deep breath, use some common sense, and just relax instead of having knee jerk reactions that help no one. After listening to all of it, I'd like to add my two cents in hopes of bringing a little common sense to all the madness.

    According to Merriam-Websters online dictionary, common sense is "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts." Common sense has been rare in the U.S. in the last several years, and it's been nearly nonexistent in the week since the Giffords shooting. While the blame game was going on, we heard cries from Congress that free speech needed to be regulated due to all the "heated rhetoric" in the media. Any speech that could incite someone to violence should be banned they said. So, let's take a look at what that might look like :
    • The word "bat" would be banned. The word has many different uses and a few of them could offend someone or incite them to violence. For instance, are you talking about a "baseball bat," a "ding-bat," a "vampire bat," or an "old bat ?" Are baseball bats gonna be used as sports equipment or weapons ? Plus, we have to be careful about offending the "vampire bats," "ding bats," and "old bats." They're very sensitive you know. Everybody got it ?
    • The word "knife" would be banned because it could be an eating utenstil, weapon, or tool used for cleaning and processing game and other meat products. We sure don't want to offend the animals or incite anyone to violence by talking about "knives."
    • The word "kill" would be banned. Hunters now have to talk about "harvesting" their game. Also, when we kill, oops, I mean end a bug or other pest's life, we would use the word "terminate." Once again, we don't won't to offend the pests or incite a person to hurt anyone by using the "k-word." Lastly, whenever Congress doesn't pass a bill, they can't say, "We killed the bill." They have to say, "The bill failed." Is everyone straight on this ?
    I probably went a little overboard on the sarcasm, but I think I made my point about how silly the proposed "speech ban" is. Even sillier have been the cries for more gun control. Some would like to reinstate the failed so-called Assault Weapons Ban and institute restrictions on magazine capacity due to the Giffords shooting. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has said he will introduce a new bill that will prohibit anyone from possessing a firearm within 1000 feet of a federal official, including the President, Vice-President, members of Congress, and Federal judges. The problem with these additional gun control measures include the following :
    • The so-called Assault Weapons Ban passed during the Clinton Administration was a failure. The original reason for the unconstitutional bill, according to it's supporters, was that it would reduce crime. However, the ATF reported seeing no evidence that crime actually decreased due to the bill's passage.
    • Rep. King's 1000-ft. perimeter gun ban bill would NOT have stopped the tragic shooting in Arizona. Anyone intent on breaking laws prohibiting murder to shoot a federal official is not gonna be concerned about breaking a law saying "NO guns within 1000 feet of a federal official." They could care less. If you actually think that would deter them, then I've got a great deal on some ocean front property here in Middle Tennessee for you. When would you like to come look at it ??
    • Rep. King's proposed "1000 foot law" could have unintended and tragic consequences. For instance, let's say that a member of Congress is at event where they are accompanied by a spouse or friend with a concealed carry permit. The member is attacked and severely injured or killed. The spouse or friend could have defended them, but they had to leave their lawfully owned and carried firearm at home or in their vehicle because of this silly law. Is Rep. King really gonna try to pass such a law which would prohibit a Congressperson's spouse from defending them ?
    Knee-jerk reactions never accomplish anything positive after tragedies. They can actually have unintended consequences. More government control over firearms and free speech is not the answer to the Giffords tragedy. Such free speech regulation was tried once before. It was called The Fairness Doctrine which was introduced in 1949 and then abolished by an executive order from President Reagan in 1987. During the term of the fairness doctrine, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated, President Ronald Reagan was shot, and President Gerald Ford was shot twice. The Fairness Doctrine did nothing to curb violence against federal officials. So, why does Congress think that new regulation on speech would be successful ?

    In conclusion, I believe we all just need to "chillax" - chill-out and relax. The blame game that's been going on for a week is not accomplishing anything positive. It's not bringing the country together. Instead, it's just polarizing it even more. There is no one to blame for the tragedy except the young man, Jared Loughner, who chose to stalk Rep. Giffords and then solve his differences with her with a gun. If he had an issue with her, he could have chosen a peaceful resolution by simply having an intelligent conversation with her. He chose violence instead. The entire tragedy is on him and him alone. The rest of us need to take a step back, pray for the recovery of Congresswoman Giffords and the others injured, and use some common sense for a change and act like reasonable adults. Is that too much to ask ?   
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    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Powerful Video Shows the Plight of the Arizona 98

    I've done a few posts previously (see below) about the fact that the State of Arizona has stopped paying for life-saving transplants for people on Medicaid. The decision has amounted to a death sentence for approximately 100 of the state's sickest residents. In fact, two people have already died as a result of Governor Jan Brewer's decision to cut the funding.

    Please take a few minutes and watch this powerful and heart-wrenching video by clicking here. My fear is not only for the lives of the people of Arizona that need transplants but for people in other states, too. I believe that if the government of Arizona is able to get away with playing God by deciding who lives and who dies that it's only a matter of time until other states will follow in their footsteps. Think about how you would feel if one of these people was your spouse, one of your parents, your best friend, or even ..... you.
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    Kidney Changes Cousins

    Kathy Bonds and Nancy Gibbons have some things in common - they're cousins, love horses, and have had the same kidney. Yes, that's right - they've had the same kidney. Nancy has suffered from polycystic kidney disease (PKD) for years. PKD is a disease passed down through families in which cysts grow on the kidneys. The cysts cause the kidneys to enlarge and eventually fail causing a life-threatening health situation for the patient. The disease cost Nancy's father his life and led to a kidney transplant for her older sister. So, Nancy knew what she was up against.

    Kathy, in good health at 67 years of age, volunteered to donate one of her own kidneys to her cousin, Nancy. I learned in a story, Kidney Donation Deepens Cousins' Strong Bond, on, that because of her age, the medical staff's biggest concern was whether the donor, Kathy, would do well after surgery with only one kidney. They decided that because she was a marathoner, and so fit, that she should do fine. However, they ran into a problem. Kathy had her tests run at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa, WI which has an age limitation for donors. Kathy was too old to do the transplant there. However, with Nancy living in Hawaii, they both decided to travel to California to UC Davis to have the transplant done because there was no age limitation there. So, on November 30, 2010, doctors at UC Davis performed Nancy's sucessful transplant.

    Both cousins are doing well and should have many years left to enjoy each others company. The doctor's believe the transplant should be good for 16-19 years since it was from a living donor. Kidneys from a deceased donor typically last less than eight. Even though Kathy had to travel a couple of thousand miles to save her cousin's life, in the end it worked out for the best. Congratulations to both of them.

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    20 years with double lung / heart transplant

    Heart and lungsJim Waggener of Montana recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of his double lung and heart transplant. A story, Transplant Patient Celebrates 20 Years, on, tells of Jim spending two years on the transplant waiting list due a genetic deficiency that prevented his lungs from fighting pollutants. When Jim awoke on November 2, 1990 for the first time following the surgery, he knew immediately that things were different. To Jim, "Every day is a gift."

    At the time, Jim's was only the second double lung and heart transplant done at the Inland Northwest Thoracic Organ Transplant Center at Sacred Heart Medical Center. Despite battling some recurring lung infections, a case of viral pneumonia, and a non-contagious form of tuberculosis, he has done very well through the years. In fact, until his recent battles with the infections, Jim was walking two miles a day and recently enjoyed a gathering of 100 friends and family to celebrate his 20th transplant anniversary. Jim is extremely thankful for each new day and says, "It makes you aware of how lucky you are to get out of bed in the morning. You don't have to look very far to see someone who is worse off."

    You can make a difference, too, by saving the life of someone like Jim. Please visit the Donate Life America website by clicking here to learn more about organ and tissue donation. While there, you can also learn how to sign up to become a donor in your state. 

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