Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

The Sheepdog blog has been pretty quiet since late October, but have no fear, all is well. The Sheepdog has just been busy. However, after the first of the year, I'll get back to more regular blogging. The wolves have had it easy long enough.

In the meantime, I want to wish everyone a great 2014!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Season's Greetings

The Sheepdog Wishes Everyone 
A Merry Christmas and ....

... a Happy New Year filled with
touchdowns, tomahawk chops, 
and Seminole Warchants.

Go 'Noles!! Beat Auburn!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Rock-tober - Week 4, The Finale

Well, the end of Rock-tober is upon us, and I thought I'd send it out in style, with a bang. Two weeks ago, I said you couldn't have Rock-tober without including John Mellencamp. The same thing can be said about today's featured band - AC/DC. These guys have been a fixture in rock 'n roll, and an extremely popular one at that, since the '70s. So, my Rock-tober Finale is a double-shot of AC/DC.

I'll start by featuring AC/DC's video of "Moneytalks." It is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Video #2 is of the band's "Who Made Who." It is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Hmmm. "Moneytalks" and "Who Made Who." Kinda goes together, doesn't it?

I hope everyone not only enjoys today's music but has truly enjoyed the Rock-tober series.
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Super Bowl Champs, Tax Dollars, and ObamaCare

As if a Steelers fan needed another reason to hate the Baltimore Ravens, this Steelers fan and staunch conservative just found one. I'll call it reason number 47-2008 in "honor" of the Ravens latest Super Bowl victory (47) and Obama's initial win (2008) of the White House.

Baltimore Ravens logo
Baltimore Ravens logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I learned a few days ago that the Baltimore "Black Birds," as I like to call them, have received $130,000 in tax payer funds from their home state of Maryland to promote ObamaCare. The "Black Birds" will apparently use the funds to promote ObamaCare on their website and through other media.

Personally, I think its inappropriate at best and a disgrace at worst. It's ridiculous for a professional sports team to get paid government money to push propaganda. NFL teams and their owners make millions every year from TV contracts, ticket sales, advertising and promotional deals, concessions, parking, and team paraphernalia. Many NFL teams have had multi-million dollar stadiums built for them at taxpayer expense. The state of Maryland paying the Baltimore "Black Birds" to promote ObamaCare is a ridiculous waste of money. I hope the tax payers of Maryland hold their governor and state legislature accountable at election time.

I've objected before to politics infiltrating movies, music, and football (Bob Costas, I'm talking to you), and I'm objecting again. The leftist infiltration is ruining entertainment. I sure hope it doesn't ruin football, too. When I turn on a football game, I want a football game - not politics, whether Left or Right, and especially not ObamaCare propaganda.

When I first saw this story in my daily e-mail from Glenn Beck's the other day, it aggravated me, made me dislike the "Black Birds" even more, and caused me to enjoy this past Sunday's 19-16 Steelers victory over the Baltimore "Black Birds" just a little bit more.

Go Steelers!! The Ravens suck!!

Source - article titled "New Documents Reveal This NFL Team Was Paid $130K to Promote Obamacare" 
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Rock-tober - Week 3

Rock-tober continues today with a well-known British heavy metal band. These guys have produced some exceptional tunes through the years, and as I look back over the history of my Music Monday series, it's hard to believe today's appearance is their first. It's a bit of an oversight on The Sheepdog's part.

Today's featured artist is Def Leppard. The video is the title track from their 1987 album Hysteria. As always, the video is embedded below or can also be watched by clicking here. Hope everyone enjoys. A Def Leppard tune is a great way to start off the week so crank it up!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Bob Costas Strikes Again

Back in December 2012, NBC Sportscaster Bob Costas blessed us with his own personal anti-gun babble during the halftime break in the Dallas Cowboys / Philadelphia Eagles Sunday Night NFL football game. His babbling was in reference to the tragedy involving Kansas City Chiefs' Linebacker Jovan Belcher. He blessed us with more of his "wisdom" during this past Sunday Night's game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.

Now, Costas has decided to jump on the bandwagon regarding the manufactured controversy about the Washington Redskins nickname. If you didn't see Costas' sermon on political correctness in football, it can be watched by clicking here **.

Redskins primary logo 1972-1981, 1983-present
Redskins primary logo 1972-1981, 1983-present (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Washington Redskins have been the Redskins for a long, long time. There's nothing wrong with it. In my opinion, this whole made-up controversy about so-called offensive team nicknames is ... rather offensive. It's much ado about nothing.

I was a Redskins fan for many years. The Steelers were my AFC team and the 'Skins were my NFC team. I said the heck with the Redskins several years ago, not because of their so-called offensive nickname, but because of their owner, Dan Snyder. Snyder has ruined what was once a great franchise with poor personnel and management decisions.

Personally, I wish these dadgum sportscasters, actors, singers, and other celebrities would stay the heck out of societal and political issues. Them doing so ruins stuff. When I watch a football game, I want football. I don't want politics or anything else interfering with it - period. Keep football pure. If they want to talk about politics, there's plenty for them to hold Obama and Congress accountable for at other times. They could go on for 24 hours a day about that stuff, but they don't want to even though that's their job. They'd rather babble about football team names.

Here's what I'd like to ask Mr. Costas - if he's sooooooooo offended by the Redskins' nickname, is he gonna stop calling them by it when broadcasting their games? Better yet - is he gonna refuse the paycheck he received for covering Sunday night's game and turn it back into NBC? What about all those paychecks he's received over the years covering Redskins games and the games of other teams with so-called "offensive" nicknames?

I think we all know the answer to those questions is a resounding "no." In my opinion, until he does those things and puts his money where his mouth is, he's just another hypocrite.

Can we puh-lease just play football? Is that too much to ask?

Source - article titled "Veteran Sportscaster Calls Washington Redskins Name An 'Iinsult, A Slur' On National TV - Detractors Rip 'Lecture' "

** - the original video I embedded was apparently removed by NBC Universal. However, I was able to find it and re-embed it for my readers to see. The new source for the video is's article titled "Bob Costas :Redskins Name 'An Insult, A Slur' ".
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Rock-tober - Week 2

It would be difficult to refer to Rock-tober as Rock-tober without featuring today's artist, John Mellencamp, at some point. Mellencamp has not appeared on The Sheepdog's Music Mondays before, and since today is a double shot Music Monday, I'll feature two of his tunes.

Mellencamp is an artist that has been very politically active during his career. Based upon his political activities and associations, I know he and I would agree on very little politically as he leans way to the left, and I lean way to the right. However, the dude has made some great music through the years that I still enjoy listening to. As momma used to say, sometimes "you have to take the bad with the good."

Both videos featured today are of tunes on his 1985 album titled Scarecrow. The first video is of "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A." It is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Video #2 today is of Mellencamp's "Small Town." It is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here. I hope everyone enjoys.

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Movie Review - Elysium

Several weeks ago, a buddy and I went to see the movie Elysium, starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. There really wasn't much playing at the time that looked any good. I had some reservations about Elysium, because of the far left-leaning politics of Damon, but, our wives were out of town, we needed to catch up, and the sci-fi theme looked interesting. Man, were we in for a surprise.

English: Matt Damon at the 66th Venice Interna...
English: Matt Damon at the 66th Venice International Film Festival Nederlands: The Informant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The movie is future-based and is portrayed as taking place on the earth and in a fancy space station known as Elysium. The earth has pretty much been destroyed by years of overpopulation and war. The entire planet is now like a third-world country. Elysium, on the other hand, is a beautiful, luxurious world built by the rich for the rich. Basically, the earth is where the poor live and Elysium is where the rich live. Segregation by social class at its finest.

When the movie started, my radar went up immediately as mostly Spanish is being spoken. As the story-line develops, it continues, and there does not appear to be any middle class on earth or on Elysium, either. You are either a filthy rich legal citizen of Elysium or a dirt poor resident of earth. You may already have a sense of where this is going, but it gets worse. The film ultimately turns out be a multi-million dollar Hollywood propaganda piece promoting amnesty for illegal aliens and universal healthcare. Stay with me, and I'll explain.

The "legal citizens" of Elysium all have chips implanted under their skin that prove their citizenship and give them access to various services, including healthcare. Healthcare on Elysium is interesting, to say the least. Each legal resident has a medi-bay in their home. The medi-bays look much like a tanning bed. If you have a medical ailment, whether it be a cold, cancer, heart disease, etc., all you have to do is lay down in the medi-bay for a few minutes and it "cures" you. However, if you don't have the little implanted chip, the medi-bay doesn't work.

Smugglers on earth make money providing shuttle rides to the "illegals" on earth who want to try to sneak into Elysium. Most of the time, people are trying to leave earth for Elysium in order to get in one of the medi-bays to get cured of whatever. Basically, if you are a legal citizen of Elysium, you get great healthcare, a "cadillac" health plan if you will. However, if you are poor, stuck on the earth, and an "illegal," you have very limited healthcare, if you have any at all.

One scene in the movie shows three of the shuttles leaving earth headed to Elysium. Jodie Foster's character, the Secretary of Defense, orders them to be shot down. Two of them are, but one crash lands on Elysium. We then see "Homeland Security" robots round up the "illegals" on the crashed shuttle and immediately deport them back to earth. Sound familiar? Those evil rich people. They just want to keep the poor, illegals down. Yea .... I know - I'm overdoing it on the sarcasm again. Hang with me, though, there's more.

English: Matt Damon's Hollywood Star
English: Matt Damon's Hollywood Star (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Spider, one of the smugglers, devises a plot where Max, Matt Damon's character, goes to Elysium to download computer data, so that Spider can use it to hack Elysium's computer system. Now, what's Spider's plan? The plan is to change Elysium's database and make everyone on earth legal Elysium residents. Wow - just like that ... amnesty for everyone! No more illegals. Woohooo! Now all the sick or injured poor, illegals on earth can go to Elysium and get healed. Isn't it great?

So, as I said, Elysium is nothing more than a political statement by Hollywood supporting amnesty for illegal aliens and universal health care for all. It even contains the emotional, tugging at your heartstrings moment where the daughter, Matilda, of Max's friend, Frey, is smuggled from earth to Elysium for medical care because she has leukemia. There's a rush against the clock to get the database hacked and Matilda to Elysium and into a medi-bay before the leukemia kills her. The message is,"who would be so heartless as to deny medical care to a sick, dying little girl." It's the same emotional argument the left always uses - "it's for the children."

Needless to say, my blood pressure was up a little by the time the movie was over. It reminded me of :
  • the pro-Palestinian political statement that U2 made during one of their concerts I attended a few years ago, and 
  • Cars 2, which made a point of bashing the big, bad, rich oil companies for getting rich at the expense of the environment. That movie also promoted alternative automobile fuels, such as ethanol. The fact is that ethanol damages engines and requires more of our water supply to produce than gasoline. I even remember one scene in Cars 2 where a large, older model car was made fun of by the other cars for using more gas than them.
I think most Americans would agree with me when I say that when I pay my good money to be entertained, whether it be for a movie or a concert, I do not want politics to be shoved down my throat. It doesn't matter whether the politics lean right or left. It's not what I'm there for. I can watch that crap at home for free. When I go to a movie, it's because I want to get away from all the crap of regular every day life for just a little while, have some fun, and enjoy myself. It's an escape. When the producer brings politics into it, it completely ruins the experience.

I know someone's gonna leave a comment on this post along the lines of "you just hate immigrants." No, I don't. If you are an American citizen, and not a Native American, then you descended from immigrants, me included. I have no problem with immigrants or immigration. That is, legal immigrants and legal immigration. If you want to come to the U.S., come on. However, follow our laws and regulations. Do it the right way. Don't try to slip in the back door and expect to be welcomed with open arms. Not only is it unlawful and wrong, but it's basically trespassing. I don't know of anywhere trespassers are warmly welcomed. Do you?

I think Elysium is off the big screen now. However, if it isn't where you live, consider yourself warned. Don't spend your $11 or $12 on Hollywood leftist propaganda. If that's what you're into, just stay home and turn on CNN or MSNBC. It will be much cheaper.

As for Hollywood, would you people please leave the politics out of movies? I like going to movies, but if this crap continues, I can always stay at home or go to a ballgame.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Rock-tober - Week 1

Slaughter performing live on June 21, 2008 in ...
Slaughter performing live on June 21, 2008 in West Fargo, North Dakota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wow - it's hard to believe it is already October 2013. The year has flown by. However, October also means it's time for something else and that's  ..... ROCK-TOBER!! So, we'll celebrate on Mondays this entire month. I won't waste waste any time - let's get Music Mondays cranked back up.

For the first Music Monday in Rock-tober 2013, I'm going back to 1990 to feature an extremely popular power ballad from the record titled Stick It To Ya recorded by the band Slaughter. Slaughter was one of the last of the "hair metal bands" of the '80s to break out, but when they did, they did so with a bang. Three singles from Stick It To Ya charted, with today's feature being the most successful.

I remember Slaughter taking a little heat for their name, at first. However, the band's name had nothing to do with violence. It was simply the last name of the band's lead singer and founder, Mark Slaughter.

Today's video is of the band's hit single "Fly to the Angels." It's a great song, and the power ballads that came out of the '80 are still some of my favorite music. "Fly To The Angels" has not only a "hair metal" flavor, but it also seems to contain a little blues seasoning within it, too. I hope everyone enjoys. The video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Get the hair spray out.

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

NASCAR in Ruins

I've been a NASCAR fan since I was about 7 or 8 years old - 35+ years. Like many, when the Daytona 500 was first broadcast flag-to-flag in 1979, my interest exploded. Richard Petty was my guy at first, but this guy named Earnhardt burst on the scene and won 1979 Rookie of the Year. Dad was a Chevy man and Earnhardt drove a blue car. Blue's my favorite color. Dad liked Earnhardt, so I did, too. I was hooked and found myself pulling for both Petty and Earnhardt.

NASCAR champion Richard Petty at Pocono in 198...
NASCAR champion Richard Petty at Pocono in 1985. Photo taken by Ted Van Pelt. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As an old school NASCAR fan, my opinion of the sport currently is that is has been on a continuous downhill slide for the last 10 years or so. The guys that built the sport, turned it into the fastest-growing spectator sport in America, worked on their own cars, made it fan-friendly, and loved the sport for what it was are gone. Now, you have these punk, spoiled brats, such as Kyle and Kurt Busch, and bullies like Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart trying to fill the shoes of former drivers. It's no contest - they can't.

The other problem I've noticed, and this is the root of the downhill slide, is that the sport's no longer about the love of racing, competition, and trying to be the best. It's about money, greed, marketing, and PR. The problems in NASCAR, and the causes of them, are mirror images of the problems within American society today.

NASCAR slipped to a new low over the weekend at Richmond. Drivers took "dives" in order to influence the outcome of the race, the last one before The Chase begins. They did so in order to influence who made The Chase. The drivers that took "dives" were all members of Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR). Want to guess whose drivers were initially help by those dives? Yep. MWR drivers. That is, until NASCAR slapped their hand. My question is who does MWR think it is? Why do they think they get to determine who makes The Chase and who doesn't?

Clint Bowyer
Clint Bowyer (Photo credit: AmyKay1974)
Clint Bowyer was the biggest culprit intentionally spinning his car out near the end of the race in order to force a restart, which helped his teammate, Martin Truex, Jr.. Next, part-time teammate Brian Vickers pits under green for no reason. Both of these events were meant to help Truex move up in the finishing order and make The Chase. The restart after Bowyer's spin allowed Joey Lagano to pass Jeff Gordon bumping Gordon from the top-10 in points, the last spot in The Chase determined by points, and inserted Lagano into the top-10. The margin by which Lagano made The Chase - 1 point. Not only was this finagling designed to help Truex, who squeaked into the last wild-card spot just in front of Ryan Newman, but I can't help but wonder if it wasn't another jab at Gordon by Bowyer's team. Remember my write-up from last year about "NASCAR's Phoenix Debacle"? These guys have long memories. I think there is more to this than just helping Truex. I think Bowyer's team wanted to stick it to Jeff Gordon one last time and do so in a way that would really hurt. These guys are called "professionals." I don't see anything professional about that. Seems childish.

I have been a critic of The Chase ever since it began in 2004. I do not like it for one main reason - it makes it impossible to compare drivers of today to drivers of yesterday, because it allows for "mulligans." If a driver is in the top-10 in points after 26 races, they make The Chase for the Championship. The points are then re-set shrinking the point lead the point leader has on all the other drivers to nothing. Basically, it erases each drivers' bad races during the first 26 races of the season. Earnhardt and Petty didn't get to do that. If they were several hundred points behind the leader after 26 races, they were just screwed unless the leader hit a bad slump. If Jimmie Johnson or some other driver tie or pass Petty and Earnhardt's record 7 championships in the future, there is no way to logically make the case they are better than those 2 guys.

NASCAR driver Martin Truex, Jr. in August 2007...
NASCAR driver Martin Truex, Jr. in August 2007 at Bristol Motor Speedway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
NASCAR dealt out penalties over the Richmond scandal. All 3 MWR drivers, Bowyer, Truex, and Vickers, were "fined" / docked 50 points a piece. For Vickers, it meant nothing. He wasn't gonna make The Chase anyway. It knocked Truex out of The Chase (Ryan Newman takes his place) but did not affect Bowyer at all. He had locked in a spot weeks ago, and since he had the most points of any driver with no wins, it didn't affect his seed, either. Bowyer got off scot-free, is seeded 8th when The Chase starts this weekend, and could win the title starting only 15 points behind the leader. Unbelievable. NASCAR fans could see the very driver who had the biggest role in this mess and knocked other drivers out of The Chase walk away as "Champ." Anyone think that might generate a brou-ha-ha?

NASCAR, specifically Mike Helton and The Frances, created this mess by :
  • changing the points system and putting all the emphasis on making "The Chase," and
  • by allowing drivers and teams to break the rules time after time with little to no penalty.
I've said for years that any car that doesn't pass the required technical specifications after the race should be disqualified, even if it happens to be the race winner. Instead, NASCAR usually docks points and levies fines for violations, which amounts to no punishment and is not a deterrent. It has had no effect. Since teams know they will not be punished significantly for cheating, it has led to a team now pulling shenanigans to manipulate The Chase.

Yes, MWR crew members have been put on probation, drivers were docked points, and MWR was fined $300,000 in "penalties" for this incident. It's pocket change. NASCAR teams bring in millions of dollars in revenue per year due to their sponsorship agreements. A $300,000 fine to them is like telling a working man he has to forfeit one lunchtime Whopper this week. Furthermore, this slap on the wrist reminds me of the University of Tennessee football team suspending players who get in legal trouble for a quarter or half of one football game. What a joke. It does nothing to fix the problem or punish people for bad behavior. Bowyer should have been booted from The Chase, suspended, and ALL MWR cars parked for the remainder of the year.

NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt in his car
NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt in his car (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
NASCAR has hit the bottom of the barrel. NASCAR is in ruins. After 35+ years, I am done with the sport I once loved. This scandal is the last straw for me. No more posts here on The Sheepdog about the sport. No more type or time will be wasted on it, nor will I waste any more time watching races on TV. Unethical behavior by NASCAR teams should not be tolerated, but it has been time and time again leading to this incident. What does it teach the kids who follow the sport? Heck, I have tickets to one of the late season races this year. If I even go, it will be the very last one I attend.

I will always have fond memories of watching and cheering for The Intimidator. That will never change. He inspired me, and I learned a lot from watching him.

But .... those were the good ol' days.

Right now I'm wondering, "Can NASCAR sink any lower?" Yes. Yes, it can. Clint Bowyer could win The Sprint Cup Championship after all of this.
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

2013 College Football Week 1 Impressions - Will the SEC Win the BCS Championship Again ?

I'm sure many of you are as glad as I am that the 2013 football season is here. One reason I'm ready is because NASCAR has laid another egg this year, but that's a sermon for another day. Maybe. At this point, I think I am about done with those guys. I'm tired of the same ol' same ol' every week - Jimmie and Kyle. Blah.

English: Logo of the Southeastern Conference (...
English: Logo of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Many of the college football pundits are already prepared to present Alabama with its third straight BCS national championship. Most think its a no-brainer. Others say the champ will be either them or another team from the SEC. After all, the last seven in a row and 8 of the last 10 have gone to an SEC team. So, the SEC is by far the best football conference, right?

One of the guys in my fantasy football league even went as far as saying that "the SEC is where real football is played." That's a bit over the top, in my opinion. There are good teams all over the country. Plus, the better you get, the bigger the target is on your back. The harder others work and try to knock you off the top rung.

The Sheepdog is not quite ready to crown Alabama or any other SEC team as king in 2013 just yet. To the folks who are, I would ask did you actually watch any football over the weekend? The final score in Alabama's game with Virginia Tech was not at all reflective of how each team played. I would also argue that the other teams usually considered as part of the upper echelon of the SEC were not overly impressive, either.

For instance, consider the following :
  1. #1 Alabama beat Virginia Tech in the Georgia Dome 35-10 - However, 3 of Alabama's touchdowns, accounting for 21 of their points, were from kick returns (2) and an interception that were returned for touchdowns. If you take those 21 points off the board, Alabama's margin of victory is only 14-10. With a score that close, second half play calling and strategy for each team changes, particularly in the fourth quarter. Virginia Tech finds themselves with a chance to beat #1 late in the game. Anything can happen. Additionally, Virginia Tech's defense shut the Alabama offense down all day. 'Bama only had a little over 200 yards of total offense with only 96 yards rushing. 'Bama looked sluggish and Virginia Tech does not have one of the best defenses or teams in the ACC. The Tide looked vulnerable.
  2. Florida beat Toledo in The Swamp by a score of 24-6 - At first glance, the score looks like a whoopin'. However, just like with 'Bama / Virginia Tech, it's misleading. Florida was only up 17-6 late in the 3rd quarter when they intercepted a pass deep in Toledo territory and then punched it in for a easy touchdown to go up 24-6. Only then did the Gators really put Toledo away. Toledo? Really? The Gators look a little weak, too.
  3. Texas A and M beat Rice at home 52-31 - I suspect this game made Aggie fans nervous. Johnny Manziel was suspended for the first half, and the Aggies only led 28-21 at halftime. After Manziel came into the game to start the third quarter, the Aggies did stretch the lead out. However, they didn't put Rice away until about midway through the fourth quarter. In my opinion, the really sorry part of the Aggies performance on Saturday was its defense. The Aggie defense gave up 31 points to Rice. Can't help but wonder how many points LSU will hang on them when the Aggie's visit Death Valley in November. That could get ugly. 
  4. LSU beat TCU in Cowboys Stadium 37-27 - Speaking of LSU, their offense put some yardage and points on the board against TCU, but as a team they never put TCU away on Saturday. Never. TCU was in this game the entire 60 minutes. Yo LSU ... it's TCU!! What are you doing? If TCU could have forced one more opportune turnover at some point during the game, this could have quickly become the upset of the week, Probably shouldn't be making any trophies with LSU's name on them, either.
  5. South Carolina beat North Carolina at home 27-10 - Man oh man - I think the Tarheels let one get away from them in this one. I watched some of this game, and North Carolina's hurry up offense had the Gamecocks defense sucking wind badly in the first quarter. However, NC let up on the throttle, allowed SC to catch their breath, and made some mistakes allowing the Gamecocks to get it going and win the game. I think North Carolina could have done a lot more in this game. South Carolina's got some work to do on their conditioning.
  6. Georgia lost on the road in Death Valley to Clemson 38-35 - If you didn't watch this ballgame Saturday night, you missed the best one of the weekend. It was a back and forth shootout down to the wire. Georgia scored a TD late to get within a field goal and then failed to recover the onside kick. Both of these teams looked pretty good to me, although both have got some serious holes in their defenses that they better get sorted out quickly. Overall, Clemson looked a little better on both sides of the ball and the final margin should probably have been a little greater. Georgia has South Carolina coming to visit this weekend. Based upon what I saw them not do against Clemson, they're 0-2 after the Gamecocks get through with them. The 'Dawgs should probably go ahead and get a head start planning for next year. They're done.
I go through all that to say this - SEC, don't count your chickens before they hatch in 2013. Based upon what I saw out of your Big 6, Alabama, Florida, Texas A and M, LSU, South Carolina, and Georgia, in Week 1, I wouldn't count on keeping the crystal trophy this year. There's a lot of football to be played.

English: Photo of 2007 BCS Championship Trophy...
English: Photo of 2007 BCS Championship Trophy awarded to Louisiana State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So, by now you're asking, "O.k. Mr. Prognosticator Sheepdog, who do you like for this year's national champion?" The simple answer is, at this point it's a toss up. It's early, but I think there's a few teams in particular to keep your eye on that are currently ranked in the top 10. There's also a few you can go ahead and write-off. For instance :
  1. Alabama - 'Bama doesn't 3-peat. In fact, they won't even win the SEC. A loss at home to LSU in November will eliminate them.
  2. Ohio State - Ohio State loses twice. Once when they travel to Michigan and again due to an upset at the hands of one of their lesser conference foes. Bye Bye Buckeyes.
  3. Oregon - Oregon lit the scoreboard up Saturday, so they've had no dropoff with Chip Kelly's departure for the NFL's Eagles. I think they may run the table. If they fall, it will be at Stanford.
  4. Stanford - The only team I see beating them might be Oregon.
  5. Clemson - Absolutely, positively do not overlook Clemson, if they can tighten up their defense, they can make a run. Their toughest games will be Florida State at home and road games at Maryland and South Carolina. If they win those and go undefeated, it will be hard to argue against them deserving a shot at the title.
  6. Louisville - Louisville's schedule is softer than my pillow. If they don't go undefeated in the regular season, they should just shut their football program down. They get hurt badly by lack of strength of schedule in the BCS rankings.
  7. LSU - The Tigers stumble and fall at Georgia but win the SEC West and play for the SEC Championship due to having the tiebreaker over 'Bama.
  8. South Carolina - Their only loss is to Clemson at home before defeating LSU for the SEC title. However, the late season loss to Clemson keeps them out of the BCS title game.
  9. Texas A and M - Sorry Aggie fans, but your boys lose to both 'Bama and LSU. So ... fuhgeddaboudit.
So, to answer the question within the title of this post - the answer is "No". The SEC will not take the crystal trophy home again this year. The only SEC team I see possibly sneaking into the mix is South Carolina. However, they will have to beat Clemson to finish out the regular season in order to do so.

I think there are four potential BCS Title contenders to watch - Oregon, Stanford, Louisville, and Clemson. I do think that 1 of the 2 teams in the national championship game will be the winner of Oregon / Stanford. The other one is Clemson or Louisville. Louisville's wussy schedule might allow them to steal a spot in the title game, but they would get smoked by Oregon or Stanford.

The question for me is, have I done any better job of prognostication here than I've done in regards to the NFL playoffs the last two years? The important thing is to for everyone to enjoy the season. I will.

And ..... Go 'Noles !!
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Here Comes the Judge - Part 2

Last week in "Here Comes the Judge - Part 1", I shared and gave my two cents in regards to Sarah Murnaghan's story. My readers may remember that I took issue with the judge's decision in that case. If you have not read my article from last week, you can do so by clicking here. Today, I share and give my two cents worth again, but this time it's in regards to a truly heart-breaking story, and the one I have an issue with is not the judge. My "bad guy" here will likely surprise you.

Elijah Smith, 21, was struck by a hit and run driver in the early hours of July 3rd while riding his bicycle home from work. Doctors determined he was brain dead the following day. When applying for his drivers' license months before, Elijah indicated that he wanted to be an organ and tissue donor. However, he never told his family of his wishes.

When Elijah's parents were approached to obtain their consent for the recovery of Elijah's organs, they declined, and they declined very vehemently. In conversations I have had with representatives from OPO's (organ procurement organizations) since my transplant, I have been told that in such situations the OPO will not push the issue and defer to the family's wishes. However, in Elijah's case, Lifeline of Ohio filed a lawsuit in order to get a court order allowing the recovery of Elijah's organs and tissues despite the objections of his parents.

In the article "Family Loses Fight to Keep Son's Organs from Donation" on, it says that neither Donate Life America nor the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) knows of any other instances where a lawsuit has been filed by an OPO to force a donation. So, this is the first time it's been done.

The judge hearing the case ruled in favor of Lifeline of Ohio because, according to Ohio law, only the donor can amend or revoke their consent to be a donor. So, I cannot fault the judge in this case. He followed the law. However, I can and do find fault with the OPO - Lifeline of Ohio. Their lawsuit going against the wishes of grieving parents is unconscionable.

Map of Ohio
Map of Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I am 110% pro-organ and tissue donation. I am alive today because of it. I advocate for it every single chance I get. I know that there is a right way and time to do so, too. It must be done with the utmost respect and gratitude for donor families. They deserve it, because in their times of immense grief, they think of helping others. They do so time and time again. They are nothing short of heroes. If it were not for them, there would be no such thing as organ and tissue donation. There would be no Lifeline of Ohio. These are lessons Lifeline of Ohio needs to learn .... ASAP.

At the time a family is approached to obtain their consent so that their loved one can donate their organs and tissues, they are already upset, hurt, in shock, in distress, and fragile emotionally. Depending on the circumstances of their loved one's death, they may even be angry. Their emotions can vary, especially if their loved one passed due to an accident or as the victim of a violent crime. They may already be dealing with more than some can handle. It is not the time for an OPO, or anyone else, to impose their will by means of a lawsuit.

Here's the main concerns and problems I have with Lifeline of Ohio's actions :
  1. One thing I've learned in the 43 years I've been on this earth is that there is what's legal, and there is what's right. Those two things are not necessarily the same. The Elijah Smith story is a case in point. Was it legal for Lifeline of Ohio to sue in order to facilitate the donation? Yes. According to Ohio law, did the judge rule correctly? Yes. Even though this was all legal, was it right? ABSOLUTELY NOT!! It was just wrong. Lifeline of Ohio forced grieving parents to do something they did not want to at the time of their 21-year-old son's tragic death.
  2. Because of their actions, at a time when we need more registered organ and tissue donors, I fear Lifeline of Ohio may have hurt the cause of organ and tissue donation. The ones of us who tirelessly advocate and educate the public in order to increase the number of donors constantly battle against myths, rumors, and other negative PR regarding organ donation. These jokers have dug us a hole.
  3. I can't help but wonder how many people Lifeline of Ohio's actions have negatively affected to the point that they either will never register as organ and tissue donors, have already registered but will now revoke their election, or, if approached by an OPO representative will say "NO" when asked to consent to donating a loved one's organs. It could cost the lives of people on the waiting list.
  4. It is reasonable to assume that the Smith family now has a very negative opinion of organ and tissue donation. I imagine that if asked, they will be more than happy to voice it, too, and no one can blame them considering how they were treated. One could make a good case that they were bullied. The cause of organ and tissue donation does not need any personal stories with negative PR. Once again, it could cost lives.
  5. After my transplant, I knew, without a doubt, that I wanted to try to contact my donor's family. I wanted to say "thank you." The recipients of Elijah's organs likely will, too. Most recipients do. However, will the Smith family want to be contacted?  If they are, will they respond? I think it's reasonable to think they will not. They might not want to risk re-opening the wound created by Lifeline of Ohio. In addition to the Smith's, the recipients then also pay for the "sin" of Lifeline of Ohio. Sad. 
On behalf of organ recipients, donor families, living donors, and the rest of the organ and tissue transplant community across the U.S., I would like to apologize to Elijah Smith's family for the way they were treated by Lifeline of Ohio. I would also like to convey our sympathies on the loss of their precious son. He deserved better and they did, too. Our prayers are with them during their time of grief.

To Lifeline of Ohio, I say "shame on you." What the heck were you thinking? You guys have done some great work and helped save and improve many lives in the past. However, this time you flat blew it, and this is the type of thing people remember. In this heart transplant recipient's opinion, whomever gave the approval to file the lawsuit in this situation should be fired. No one should be treated the way the Smith's were.

I want to encourage every one whom has already registered as an organ and tissue donor, and the ones of you who will do so in the future, to please, please, please tell your family and discuss it with them. It is so, so important that they know your wishes ahead of time. It will give them a sense of comfort and peace at the time of your passing, because they will not have to guess what your wishes are, or be blind-sided, as the Smith's were. Talking about it will make things easier for everyone involved.

Additionally, I should state that the type of treatment the Smith's received from Lifeline of Ohio is extremely, extremely rare. OPO's are usually made up of kind, considerate, and compassionate individuals. Please do not let this situation, this one bad apple, negatively influence your opinion of the whole lot or of organ and tissue donation in general. Donor families I have talked to since my transplant have bragged about how well they were treated. Usually, the fact that their loved one helped someone else with what amounted to their final act gave them peace and comfort in their time of grief.

In my opinion, the way the Smith family was treated is indicative of a prevailing problem in the U.S. today. So many times, it seems that we just don't have any respect for each other. We don't think of "the other guy." It's all about "me." "No, I want it my way," is often the prevailing theme. It seems to be the way Lifeline of Ohio dealt with the Smith family. Respect and sympathy seemed to be lacking towards the Smith's during their time of loss. Lifeline of Ohio had to have it their way and went to court to make it so. Just wrong ... and terribly sad.

I so wish we could get to a place in this country where we treated each other with kindness and respect. It would prevent situations like this one. Unfortunately, it is beginning to appear that I have a better chance of hitting the Powerball than I do of seeing that happen.

Isn't it sad?
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Here Comes the Judge - Part 1

By now, most of us have heard Sarah Murnaghan's story. She is the 10-year-old girl from Pennsylvania who received national attention when her parents filed a lawsuit in order to get her a double-lung transplant. Suffering from the horrible disease of cystic fibrosis, Sarah was running out of time quickly and her only hope for survival was a lung transplant, which she received and is now recovering from.

Sarah's story is one I've been following since it began developing in early summer / late spring. It is also a story that as an organ transplant recipient, I felt compelled to weigh in on at some point. However, I chose to wait awhile in order to see how the story progressed. Yesterday was the 6 1/2 year anniversary of my heart transplant. Today, I give my 2 cents .... or, whatever it's worth.

Heart and Lungs
Heart and Lungs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In case any of my readers are unfamiliar with Sarah's story, I lay it out below.

As I mentioned, Sarah is a 10-year-old girl who suffered from cystic fibrosis. She was deathly ill and had been on the transplant list for an extended period of time. I think I saw somewhere that it was 18 months. One reason her wait was so lengthy is because she is under 12.

Through the years, UNOS (United Network for Organ Sharing) and OPTN (Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network) along with other medical and transplant experts have studied, researched, and compiled data in order to put rules, regulations, and procedures in place to administer and regulate the U.S.'s transplant system. One of the goals of that system is to be fair to all and help transplant recipients have the best outcomes.

One of those rules is that a person under 12 years of age is placed on the pediatric lung transplant waiting list in order to receive lungs from a child. If a person is 12 or more, they qualify for the adult lung transplant waiting list. The main reason for the different lists is because size matters. Adult lungs are generally too large for a child. Being on the adult transplant list might have shortened Sarah's wait, since adult lungs become available more often than pediatric ones, but there are no guarantees. The problem for her was that pediatric lung transplants are rare, because donor lungs from a child seldom become available.

Sarah was running out of time, so an appeal was made to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to make an exception for Sarah and place her on the adult lung transplant waiting list to improve her chances of getting a set of lungs. Sebelius wanted to help and even acknowledged that the rules concerning pediatric and adult lung transplants should be reviewed and given further study. However, she said it was not her place to alter the current rules and make an exception for one individual.

Sarah's parents then sued claiming that their daughter was being discriminated against because of her age. They wanted a judge to order Sebelius to place Sarah on the adult lung transplant list. The judge hearing the case agreed with them, and on June 12th, Sarah had a lung transplant. However, the story does not end there.

Shortly after the transplant, Sarah's new lungs failed. It's not an uncommon occurrence. It happens in as many as 25% of lung transplants. Then, on June 15th, another set of lungs became available, so Sarah had another lung transplant. The only problem was that the donor of those lungs had pneumonia, which brought a whole new set of problems into the mix. However, her parents chose to accept them, because Sarah would die otherwise.

English: A very prominent pneumonia of the mid...
English: A very prominent pneumonia of the middle lobe of the right lung. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After the second transplant, Sarah's problems did not cease. Besides the battle with the pneumonia, she would need another surgery to repair a partially paralyzed diaphragm. As someone who has had pneumonia once, I cannot imagine the suffering Sarah has gone through. First, two lung transplants. Then, pneumonia coupled with a malfunctioning diaphragm. It's hard enough to breathe with just pneumonia working against you, but with a bad diaphragm, also, while recovering from a double-lung transplant - it sounds horrible.

Sarah's story has sparked national debate about the whole donated organ process, as it should. The controversy coupled with all the raw emotion the debate has brought with it is the main reason I've held off weighing in until now. But as I said, as a heart transplant recipient, I feel I must. I've been in Sarah's shoes. My family has been in Sarah's family's shoes. It is not a good place to be, and it's why I continue to advocate for more Americans to register as organ and tissue donors every chance I get.

Before I get too far into "my 2 cents," let me say two things. First, I think Sarah's parents did the same thing any parent would in those circumstances - fight for their child and do whatever it takes to help them. Sarah's their baby. They love her and would do anything to protect her, just like any other parent. They did what they had to do, and I don't think anyone can blame them for that.

Second, I am happy for Sarah. To her, I say welcome to the "Transplant Recipient Club." I would also say to her that she should not expect the journey to always be easy. There will be bumps in the road. However, every extra minute spent with her family and doing the things she loves will be worth it. Trust me. I have over 2300 days of experience under my belt. Those days are priceless.

All that being said, this story makes me a little uneasy and concerns me greatly. It goes down a slippery slope and opens a can of worms that I'm not sure we as Americans really want open. I see "DANGER AHEAD" signs flashing for a number of reasons.

First, I do not think a federal judge should have stepped in, overruled the rules for one individual, and "forced" Sarah onto the adult transplant list. The age rules set forth years ago regarding the lung transplant waiting list were put in place after years of research, study, and analyzing the outcomes of both adult and pediatric lung transplants. These rules were put in place by transplant medical experts in order to assure that the sickest patients had the best possible outcomes per transplant. They should not have been overruled on the emotional whim of a judge. It was an overstep. Rules are put in place for a reason - to prevent chaos and ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

Official portrait of United States Health and ...
Official portrait of United States Health and Human Services Secretary . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
While I am not a big fan of Secretary Sebelius, I would like to commend her in this situation. She followed the rules and was not willing to change them without further research, data, and a discussion with the medical professionals who put the rules in place to begin with. At a time when the Obama Administration seems to break or change the rules daily, it is nice to see her following them in this case. Thank you, Madam Secretary.

Second, the judge's ruling sets a dangerous, dangerous precedent. When I heard of the decision. my first thought was, "I wonder how long it will be before another child's parents do the exact same thing?" Sure enough - I was right. I heard just a few days later of another such case where a judge overruled the transplant guidelines. Welcome to chaos.

Third, my opposition to ObamaCare is no secret. I have preached against it now for what seems like an eternity. While Sarah's case has absolutely nothing to do with ObamaCare, it shares something with that piece-of-crap legislation - bureaucrats making healthcare decisions instead of medical professionals. The federal judge's ruling in this case opens the transplant process up to corruption.

For instance, let's say, hypothetically, that a federal judge's golfing buddy is in need of a life-saving liver transplant. Let's say you need one, too, are sicker than him, just days away from death, and at the top of the list. You get the call that a liver is available for you. Unbeknownst to you, that liver is a match for both of you. You've followed all the rules and are first in line. It's yours. Then, all of a sudden, the judge's golfing buddy's wife files a lawsuit in order to get the golf buddy that liver instead of you. The case just happens to come before this judge. Think the judge will recuse himself? Are you sure?

Let's say the judge does not recuse himself and rules in favor of giving the golf buddy that liver you should have had. How would you feel? Is that fair? What if that liver was the only opportunity you would get at a transplant, you don't get it, and die? Don't think it could happen? Why not? The judge that ruled in favor of Sarah Murnaghan set the precedent for it. Precedence is a dangerous thing. Such a ruling leads to chaos and a lack of faith in the system. The scariest thing to me as a heart recipient is that I could see it having a negative effect on getting people to register as donors. Why would they if integrity is removed from the system through judges bending the rules on a whim? Scary ... just scary. It could cost people their lives.

Fourth, the one thing that hasn't been discussed in this whole situation is the fact that it's likely that by the judge placing Sarah on the adult lung transplant list, and her receiving two sets of adult lungs, two adults on the adult list, who had played by the rules, didn't get the life-saving lung transplants they desperately needed. What if they died because of it? Was that fair? It's a very serious, potential reality that should not be overlooked.

I hope no one reads this post and thinks I've got a problem with this little girl and her parents, because I do not. I do not blame any of them at all for doing whatever it took to save Sarah's life. They didn't do anything anyone else wouldn't have done in the same situation. The only person I find fault with in this situation is the federal judge who overstepped and made a decision that should have been reserved for the medical community. In my opinion, the ruling is scary and puts the entire field of medicine in jeopardy, not just transplant. A judge's job is to ensure that "the law," or the rules in this instance, are followed and applied to each person equally. This judge did not do that.

Here's something to think about. Do you know what the root cause is as of why we are even having this debate? It's not parents fighting for their daughter's life. It's not because of an improper decision by a judge. All of those things were set in motion by the fact that too few Americans have chosen to be organ and tissue donors. Whether we want to admit it or not, the lack of donated organs has led to a form of rationing. If every American would register as an organ and tissue donor, we would not have any "Sarah Murnaghan Stories" and lobbying and filing lawsuits to get so-and-so's loved one a transplant.

Today, August 22, 2013, about 19 Americans, out of the 119,000 on the transplant waiting list, will die a needless death due to a lack of organ donors. Those Americans have spouses, children, golfing buddies, and other people close to them who will mourn their passing and miss them terribly. The big thing we should all learn from the Sarah Murnaghan story is that the lack of organ donors in this country is an ... "epidemic." And yes, I used the "e-word," because, in my opinion, it's that serious.

The good news is that this epidemic has a simple cure. If all of us will register as organ and tissue donors, the shortage of donated organs will end immediately. The epidemic of 19 American men, women, and children dying every single day while waiting on a transplant would be history. The solution is so, so simple. Registering as an organ and tissue donor doesn't cost you anything and only takes a few minutes of your time. Isn't a few minutes of your time a worthwhile investment if it means someone might live ?

Please help by being part of the solution. Register as an organ and tissue donor today by clicking here. Show that you care about your fellow Americans by REGISTERING NOW.

P.S. Next week, in Part 2, I'll share another story of a transplant-related legal battle. This one is truly sad.

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