Friday, December 29, 2017

The Last Growl

I started this blog over 8 years ago. Frequent readers may have noticed the number of posts has decreased during the last few years. I’ve been pondering the blog’s future for awhile, and after 719 posts, including this one, and over 240,000 page views, I’ve decided it’s time to close up shop, sign off one last time, and retire from the blogosphere.

It’s not because this heart transplant recipient’s health is failing. On the contrary - I’m approaching the 11th anniversary of my transplant and am still doing great. God continues to bless me tremendously.

The decision boils down to one thing – The Sheepdog is weary, and he’s weary for a number of reasons.

First, Google’s Blogger platform has become unreliable. More and more frequently, something doesn’t work correctly, some font has changed, a sidebar tool has been discontinued, a plug-in has failed, or some other aggravating issue has arisen whenever I log in to write. For example. when I wrote this post, the Zemanta plug-in I've used for years had stopped working .... again. I guess I really shouldn’t be surprised, because Blogger is free. Therefore, Google has no incentive to keep it functioning at a high level. It’s the ol’ “you get what you pay for”.

Second, I’m not feeling the motivation to write the blog anymore, which is fueled somewhat by the Blogger issues mentioned above. I could switch to another platform, such as Wordpress, but I’m just not willing to build the site again, nor pay for the service. Sometimes over the last few years, I actually had to force myself to write just to keep the blog active. I’ve had enough of that, too. I’ve read a few articles and studies which have shown that blog readership is declining. Some of that is due to the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms. People just aren’t as interested in reading blogs anymore. Based upon my pageviews declining and no comments on posts, it appears these studies are correct.

Third, politics. Ugh. I’ve written a number of political posts on this blog, but politics really suck now getting meaner and more vicious. More ridiculous, too. Common sense is now extinct, and it seems that politics is a drug to many and some are addicted to the junk.

We’ve allowed ourselves to get sucked into the angry rhetoric that the media spews into the airwaves. We then accept the crap they’re spouting as if it’s the gospel truth without doing any research to verify the accuracy of it. Then, we go back for more over and over again.

We sit and watch or read about Democrats insulting Republicans, and Republicans insulting Democrats as if it’s great entertainment. Others on the Left and Right insult each other, too, and all of it is reported by the media to make sure we don’t miss a minute of it. We then go and share all of that negativity with our family and friends, which keeps it circulating. None of it accomplishes anything positive.

I was part of it for a long time, but no more. One day a few years ago, it dawned on me that no one person is to blame for the mess our communities, our states, and our country are in. Not Bush. Not Obama, either. We all are – Republicans, Democrats, Independents – ALL of us. If anyone thinks that a political party is gonna “save the country" and fix everything, then they’ve either not been paying attention or are caught up in, and have been deceived by, the same blind party loyalty that I was for a long time. To many, party has become more important than principles and values. This realization is what led me to leave the Republican Party back in 2010.

Now, why do I believe we are to blame? First, it’s because we have fed the political media machine. Here's what few realize - we have allowed the elites in positions of power within both major political parties to divide us. They have fed us this lie, which we have bought hook, line, and sinker, that if you disagree with someone, then you must tear them down, because they are a "hater", "racist", or the "bad guy(s)".

We need to realize and understand that the elites, or establishment politicians (or whatever you want to label them), have used their powerful platforms and the media as their mouthpiece and propaganda machine to turn us against each other. The division within the country has been used by them to fill their campaign treasuries and the PACs with cash which they then use to fuel their machine and divide us further. We have allowed them to use us. Nickelback’s song nails it down - it’s all a “mass delusion” and “they’re (the elites) depending on mass confusion” (here). The PAC's make it possible for them to raise huge amounts of money with fewer limitations and make it easier for them to hide where those contributions come from.

The second reason we’re also to blame is because we keep electing and re-electing the same establishment elites who have created the problems. They do not represent us. They represent themselves and their corrupt cronies. It must change. Every election cycle incumbent politicians and challenger candidates tell us how much they support term limits. Yet we still have no term limits on Congress and others.

Why is that? In order for term limits to become law the same politicians who have to vote them into law are the same ones that would be term limited. It ain't gonna happen, because they love their power and perks too much. Once elected, they get addicted to them.

So, how do WE fix these 2 issues? It’s actually pretty simple.

First, let’s start by starving the media machine. Just turn it off. From ABC, to NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, and all the other networks, just turn them off. Delete them from your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media feeds. I have and haven’t missed them. It’s no longer news, anyway. It’s garbage. “Just the facts” is not what they report nowadays. Instead, they report just what they want us to know with their own biased slant on it. They tell us what we should think, and what they want us to think. It’s pure propaganda.

Turning them off subjects the media to the “Law of Supply and Demand”. If we stop demanding their “product”, their ratings will crash, advertising dollars will dry up, and they’ll have to re-engineer their crappy product and supply something else, or their profits will dry up even further.

Second, WE have to institute the term limits at the ballot box. Starting with the 2018 election cycle, vote all the current sitting incumbents out regardless of party and / or who they are in all levels of government – local, state, and federal. Plus, don’t vote any candidate into a new office whom has served in any elected position before. They know all the political connections to the money and PACs. Therefore, they are incumbents, too. Then, every future election cycle, we do the same thing again. Even if a person is just completing their first term, vote ‘em out, because they’re now an incumbent. Doing this means that a bunch of "We the People" who have never ran for office before must rise up and do so. It also means that party loyalty must end.

I believe that if we do this for 3 or 4 consecutive election cycles the establishment will get the message and cronyism and corruption will be significantly reduced and maybe even nipped in the bud for good. The longer a politician stays in office, the more corrupt and addicted to power they become. Their objective is no longer to be a public servant – it’s only to keep getting re-elected in order to hold onto their power and perks, and they will do anything to get re-elected. They will sacrifice their principles and values, put their party before their constituents, and step on anybody who gets in their way.

Don’t think so? Well then, consider the following. I know a politician who has a vindictive reputation. People who have crossed this person have lost jobs, had other mayhem befall them, or just simply been put through hell for doing so. Another one, whom I first met several years ago, showed promise. Unfortunately, I watched this person align themselves with the money and influence power brokers who could get them elected and keep them elected. Heck, they even promised during their first campaign to term limit themselves, which was promptly forgotten once they took office and never mentioned again. Lastly, I know still another politician who turned their back on their long-held conservative values due to fear of losing their re-election bid. They told me so. Re-election and holding onto power became more important than principles. Such is the problem with incumbents and why they must all be replaced. Even though I can substantiate these examples, I’ll keep the names to myself. Most wouldn’t believe me if I divulged the names, and it’s not worth the hassle and brouhaha that would ensue. I suspect there are hundreds, if not thousands, of incumbents just like these 3 all across the country.

Most will balk at these suggestions of turning off the media and voting out all incumbents. Fine. That is your choice. Just as it is my choice to do so. I’m not allowing the garbage in my home anymore. I’ve unliked and unfollowed everything politically based from my Facebook feed. All political based emails now get automatically directed to my spam folder and deleted. When election time comes, my research will consist merely of learning who the incumbents are on my ballot and voting against each of them, and I will do so every election cycle going forward regardless of which party they belong to or who they are. Every. Single. One. Every. Single. Time.

If you choose not to do these two things, let me ask you 2 things:

  • If you had a friend who was an alcoholic, would you take them to the liquor store, give them a handful of cash, and turn them loose? 
  • If you were a cattle farmer and a pack of wolves found a hole in a fence and killed several of your cattle one night, would you go out the next morning and make that hole bigger allowing them more access to your cattle? 
What would you do in these situations? Not turning off the media nor voting out the incumbents is like enabling an alcoholic friend or a pack of hungry wolves. It doesn't end well.

As Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

The fourth thing I’m weary of is the needless dying. When I started writing this blog 8 years ago, approximately 20 Americans died every day waiting on a life-saving organ transplant. That statistic hasn’t changed. So, when I do the math (20 people x 365 days per year x 8 years), it works out to approximately 60,000 Americans have needlessly died due to the shortage of organ donors during this blog’s tenure. 60 THOUSAND!!

As a country, we should be ashamed. It’s inexcusable, because the solution to the problem is already available. It’s simple - every American should sign up as a donor. Every. Single. One. It only takes 2-3 minutes to do so. How is it that we can find time to watch, listen to, or read the political garbage, but we can’t make time to do something that could save the lives of our fellow countrymen and women?!? The reason we don’t is simple – we don’t care enough about our fellow Americans to do so.

Let me ask another question? If you’re NOT a registered organ and tissue donor, would you go through the process to get listed, and then accept a life-saving organ transplant if you needed one? I’m betting the answer is yes, and that my friend is what is called a hypocrite.

I know some in the organ donation advocacy community who want laws passed making it mandatory that everyone be an organ donor. Specifically, when one dies, he or she would be presumed to have consented to donation and their organs and tissues would be automatically recovered if medically possible. As a conservative, I don’t like the idea. I don’t want to force people to donate. I would rather each have the freedom to choose to do the right thing. However, when Americans continue to needlessly die from a shortage of donors, I understand why some support this idea.

Furthermore, it frustrates me when every year the U.S. sends billions of dollars in foreign aid overseas – which, by the way, seldom makes it to the intended beneficiaries. We could instead use at least part of that funding to increase organ and tissue donation education and awareness and / or to help Americans needing transplants pay for them. Our priorities are screwed up. We need to take care of own first then help the rest of the world.

Photo credit: Wikipedia
Once again, as Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

When I started this blog, the main goal was to advocate for and spread the word about the importance of organ and tissue donation and the need for more donors. I also wanted to open people’s eyes about the wolves among us, who some of them are, and what they are doing. I think I’ve accomplished both. I just wish more had listened.

By far, the best thing the blog has accomplished is that I know of 1 person who received a life-saving organ transplant as a direct result of connections made through the blog. I hope there have been others.

As I sign off for the last time, I know new and more important adventures await. One never knows what the future holds or where The Sheepdog may pop up next, but know this - even though I will not be prowling the blogosphere going forward, I will continue to be an advocate for organ and tissue donation, I am forever a Sheepdog, my fangs are still sharp, and I’ll continuously watch over the sheep.

Thank you to all who have read the blog over these last 8 years.

The 2nd Chance Sheepdog

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Monday, October 9, 2017

Thanks Jan

"Vixen" album cover - via Wikipedia user Weatherman90 (here)
In 2012, the original members of Vixen, Jan Kuehnemund, Janet Gardner, Roxy Petrucci, and Share Pedersen (now Ross), were in the final stages of a planned band reunion. Then, in January 2013 just days before they were going to make an official announcement, Jan, the band's founder, was diagnosed with cancer. She fought the disease for nearly a year, but unfortunately passed away October 10, 2013, 4 years ago tomorrow, and the band's and its fans dreams of a complete reunion of it's original lineup never came to fruition.

Today's Music Monday is in memory of Jan and the great music she left us with. Told that an all-female heavy metal band would never make it, she and her bandmates were determined to prove the naysayers wrong, and man, did they ever.

Both of today's music videos are of songs from the bands debut self-titled album, Vixen, released in 1988. They both feature Jan's guitar playing and provide some great memories for her fans, including me, of her doing what she loved - playing her guitar. She was a talented guitarist.

Video #1 is of "Love Made Me" (embedded below or can be enjoyed here). Video #2 is of "Cryin' " which was filmed live at MTV's 1989 New Years Eve special (embedded below or enjoy it here).

Friday, October 6, 2017

Delaware Outlaws Discrimination In Organ Transplantation

Recently, Delaware Governor John Carney signed into law a bill banning discrimination in organ transplantation based upon a person's disability. Thanks to Gov. Carney and the Delaware legislature, the state is now the 6th in the U.S. to outlaw such practices.

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...
English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I know from experience that there are a number of criteria by which a patient is evaluated in order to determine if a person is a suitable organ transplant candidate. This bill specifically prohibits a person's disability from being the reason they are denied transplant services and / or considered for transplant.

Rep. Debra Heffernan, the legislation's sponsor, said, "With this bill in place, families will have peace of mind and know that their loved one with a disability has the right to be treated fairly when they are undergoing the extremely taxing process of pursuing a life-saving transplant."

Governor Carney added, "A true measure of the commitment of government to the people is how well it addresses the needs of those who are living with disabilities. By signing this legislation into law, we are taking action to ensure individuals with disabilities have access to organ transplant procedures."

I agree with both of them wholeheartedly, and I implore Congress and President Trump to keep this non-discrimination theme in mind as they continue to work on the repeal and replace of ObamaCare.  The pre-existing conditions protection MUST be kept in place in whatever piece of legislation they ultimately agree on. Any discrimination to healthcare access is immoral and must be banned, because it ultimately leads to lives being needlessly lost.

I have 1 question in regards to Delaware's new legislation. Why do ONLY 6 states have such a law in place? Shame on the other 44 of you. Every state should have such a law on the books. I call upon the governors and legislators in the 44 states who have no such law to get to work and get it done.

Read More: article - "Gov. Carney Signs Bill Banning Organ Transplant Discrimination" 

Monday, September 11, 2017

What If Today Was Your Last Day?

What if today was your last day?

September 11th. Today, we're remembering that dreadful day. It's likely that at some point today, you've thought about what you were doing when you heard the news. I know I have. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I was still working full-time and was about halfway through my battle with heart disease. I arrived at work a few minutes before 8 a.m. and was just settling in. The report came over my radio that a small plane had flown into the World Trade Center. Next report said, no - it was an airliner. So, I thought, "How does an airliner accidentally fly into a building that tall? How could the pilot not see it?" Then, the shock, disbelief, and horror set in when the next report said it had been done intentionally. It was terrorism.

What if today was your last day?

CNN breaking the news of a plane crash at the ...
CNN breaking the news of a plane crash at the World Trade Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just like myself, millions of Americans went to work that day like any other weekday. We expected to come home to our families that night, have dinner, watch some TV, go to bed, and get up and do it again the following day. Unfortunately, several thousand of them did not have that opportunity, because of the hate within 19 evil men.

What if today was your last day?

The thousands who perished in the towers, the Pentagon, or serving as first responders and crew members on those planes had no idea what their day had in store for them. Neither did their families who saw their worlds changed forever in the blink of an eye, as did millions of us watching on TV. We will never be the same even though it happened 16 years ago.

Today's Music Monday is a special one as we remember. It has the opportunity to be the most powerful, positive, motivational, life-changing post I've ever been inspired to do on this blog, if we let it. My hope is that it makes you think and changes us all in a good way.

What if today was your last day?

Nickelback has received a lot of criticism over the years, much of it deserved, due to the racy music lyrics in some of their songs. However, "If Today Was Your Last Day" contains none of that. The band absolutely nailed it with the lyrics in this song. If you've never heard it, you are in for a treat. You may even want to share it with friends and family.

The song should make us think about what's really important. If you've heard some of the band's criticism, I encourage you to put it aside and take the time to watch today's music video. Listen carefully to the lyrics and think about what the band is saying. I think you'll find that even an ol' rock band can provide some thoughtful insight and wisdom every now and then. Don't write it off just because it's Nickelback. You'll be cheating yourself if you do. It could be the best 4 minutes of your day. Don't judge a book by it's cover or a song by the name of the band.

One other thing - watch the video all the way through. At the beginning, you may think, "This doesn't look good. This is gonna end badly." I thought the same thing and got a pleasant surprise. You will, too. Just trust The Sheepdog on this one. You'll thank me later.

Video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

To the families of all who lost loved ones that day, my prayers continue to go out to you. To all the military families who have lost loved ones fighting the war against terrorism, thank you for your sacrifice.

To the rest of us, I'll ask again - what if today was your last day?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Transplant Recipient Realizes Her Dream

In 2011, Arlinda Griffin had been on the transplant waiting list for nearly 3 years. Due to severe diabetes, she was nearly blind and desperately needed a kidney and pancreas transplant. When Eric Smith tragically lost his life in an automobile accident on June 12, 2011, he became a hero to Arlinda, because he was an organ and tissue donor who saved her life and the lives of several others. Eric also helped many through tissue donation.

English: Citizens Bank Park view from Pavilion...
English: Citizens Bank Park view from Pavilion Deck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After Arlinda received her transplant, she became friends with Eric's mom, Mary Smith. As their friendship grew, Arlinda confided in her that she had a lifelong dream of singing the national anthem at a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. Once learning of Arlinda's dream, Mary went to work to make it happen.

On July 29th, during the Phillies' annual Gift of Life organ donation awareness night, Arlinda accomplished the dream, the goal, she had kept to herself since her childhood. After escorting Arlinda onto the field for the national anthem, Mary was in tears as Arlinda became the first organ transplant recipient to sing the national anthem at Citizens Bank Park saying, "I'm hoping that people attending the game will appreciate the value of being an organ donor."

There are approximately 117, 000 Americans currently on the transplant waiting list. One is added about every 10 minutes. Today, around 20 Americans will run out of time waiting and die leaving behind spouses, children, fiancees, parents, siblings, and friends. To break the numbers down a little further, 1 American dies about every hour to hour and a half. In my opinion, that's inexcusable when the solution to ending this needless dying is as simple as all Americans voluntarily registering as organ and tissue donors.

To learn how to register as a donor, please visit Donate Life America's website by clicking here.

It won't take but about 2 minutes of your time, so to borrow a phrase from Nike, "Just Do It!"

Read More: - see article on titled "Singing the Gift of Life At the Phillies Game"

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Thanks Chris

When I moved to Middle Tennessee in 1993, Nashville had the best rock station on the face of the planet - WKDF. It didn't matter when you listened or what song was on, it was good stuff. Their song rotation ranged from hard rock, to '70s classic rock, to southern rock, to '80s hair / glam metal, and even grunge. It was awesome. Then, one day around 1 p.m., I returned to the office from lunch and found that it was over - WKDF had switched to country. It went from awesome to totally sucking. I wanted to loose my lunch. I hate country music. It hurts my ears. It's like fingernails screeching across a chalkboard.

Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm sure that like everything else, it was about money, but ever since, Nashville has been without a good radio station. If you're a rocker, your choices are Jack FM or The Rock. I guess Jack is ok if you like having a song by Guns 'N Roses, Metallica, or .38 Special followed by Michael Jackson or Madonna. Yuck. I guess The Rock is ok if you want to hear The Beatles, The Clash, Rush, or Led Zeppelin every third song, but I don't. However, a critique of Nashville rock radio is not the purpose of this post.

It was on WKDF where I first heard Soundgarden and frontman Chris Cornell during the grunge explosion of the early to mid-'90s. Mixing that band and Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains in with the other rock genres mentioned above was the norm. In fact, nearly 5 years ago, I posted a Music Monday double shot of my two favorite Soundgarden hits - "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell On Black Days" (here). Loved those songs in the '90s and still do today. Arguably, the 2 best ballads to come out of the grunge era.

Back in May, we lost Chris Cornell. He was a talented musician. In the time since, I've read several articles surrounding his death. Some were done in good taste and some in poor. There are many who knew him well and miss him dearly, and it is my belief that the rest of us should remember Chris for the music he left us with, instead of the way he left us.

Therefore, as a memorial to Chris, today's Music Monday is Soundgarden's "Spoonman", which is about a street performer who plays spoons - not a guitar or drums, but spoons. The song's music video can be watched by clicking here and is also embedded below.

Thanks for the music, Chris.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Sheepdog's Pick Is In

I doubt anyone is as ready as I am for football season to get started. I've already spent some time working on fantasy football draft boards and may have watched more of the 2017 NFL Draft than any others of my lifetime. Mainly, I was not only interested in which team would pick Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, but I just missed football. I think there are a number of teams that passed on Cook who will eventually realize they made a HUGE mistake.

National Football League Draft
National Football League Draft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Back in March, I wrote an article expressing my opinion and displeasure with the direction I perceived the Pittsburgh Steelers to be headed in, and, that after 40 years of following them, I was ready to move on. In my opinion, today's Steelers have left their blue collar roots. In fact, regarding the Steelers, I suspect my feelings are similar to Ronald Reagan's when he said, "I didn't leave the Democratic Party, The Democratic Party left me." Well, I'm not leaving the Steelers, the Steelers have left me. Click here to read my article if you missed it.

In the 3 months since I wrote that article, I don't feel that things have gotten any better in Pittsburgh. For instance, one drama queen, Antonio Brown, has now been given a mega contract, which I expect will only encourage even more drama queenness from him, and the other drama queen, Le'Veon Bell, is sitting out OTA's, basically pouting, in order to wrangle a mega contract of his own out of the Steelers. My opinion is that just as it was a mistake to pay Brown, it would be an even bigger mistake to pay Bell with his injury history and being suspended for parts of 2 seasons for violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy. I think that paying both of them will finish sinking the organization. However, I suspect that eventually the Steelers will give in and do so. Personally, I would have traded both of them prior to the draft. Some sucker would have given a minimum of a 2nd round pick for each, and likely a 1st.

About a week after I wrote the Steelers' article, I posted another ranking and explaining which teams I was considering moving to. Click here to read that article. There were 6 on the list ranked as follows:
  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  2. Oakland Raiders
  3. Indianapolis Colts
  4. Arizona Cardinals
  5. Atlanta Falcons
  6. Detroit Lions
Oakland Raiders logo
Oakland Raiders logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today, I'll share which team I picked, but honestly, the rankings didn't change much. Detroit stayed at 6, and Atlanta at 5. However, Oakland dropped from 2 down to 4. Why? Honestly, I grew weary of the drama regarding the move to Las Vegas. I also have concerns that even though a Raiders move to Vegas has a nice ring to it and is kinda cool, it's riddled with problems. For example, the city of Oakland now hates the team and wants it gone sooner rather than later, and according to a couple of articles I've read about the Las Vegas stadium financing deal, I can't help but wonder if a crash and burn might be coming. Another question is after a promising 2016, prior to Derek Carr's injury, will the distraction of the move prove too much for this young team to handle and 2017, and the years to come, be a disappointment in terms of not living up to expectations?

Overall, the Raiders dropped, because after getting sick of all the Steelers' drama, I've had enough of it. Been there. Done that. I just want people to shut up and play football.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Double Dose of Rebellion on Music Monday

English: Flag of the Assembly of Tennessee
English: Flag of the Assembly of Tennessee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Sheepdog is rather perturbed. In fact, I've had it with the Republican-controlled Tennessee Legislature and Governor "Slick Billy" Haslam. Since they've taken power, they've insisted on telling Tennesseans how much allergy medication we can buy, where we can and can't carry our guns, where we can take a selfie, and more. I could go on and on. That's not freedom, and it needs to stop.

So, today, I'm musically expressing my continued displeasure with these bums, and I'll start with a music video from Monster Truck. Their song "Don't Tell Me How To Live" is a good way to start this double shot of music on the 2nd Monday in May. The video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Hang on, though, this video is like the "warm-up band" at a rock concert. The Sheepdog's just getting started. The best, "the headliner", is below.

The previous grievances I've had with the Tennessee Legislature and the governor are not my biggest problem with them, though. Recently, these so-called "conservatives" rammed through what will turn out to be the biggest tax increase on Tennesseans in my lifetime. These liars, with the help of the media and fuzzy math, conned many Tennesseans into believing it is "The Largest Tax Cut in Tennessee History".

Nothing could be further from the truth, because the few taxes that are cut in the legislation will only benefit a few, mainly the wealthy, and the cut in the sales tax on food will be far outweighed by the increase in the gas tax and the diesel fuel tax. In fact, the increase in the diesel fuel tax will force up prices on ALL products sold in Tennessee as transportation and shipping costs will go up across the board and be passed on to consumers. It's basic Economics 101 no matter what the politicians tell you.

So, to thoroughly express my outrage with the Tennessee liars' con-job, "the headliner" on this edition of double-shot music Monday is Nickelback with their #1 hit "Edge Of A Revolution". It's perfect here with images of school kids turning from conformists going along with the status quo into nonconformists refusing to take it anymore.

Until Tennesseans do the same thing and stop voting the same Tennessee politicians back into office every single election, nothing will change. They will continue to do whatever they want to us. Video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Due to some of the images in the video, I know someone's thinking,"Wow. The Sheepdog's gone full-Commie on us." Absolutely not. Neither am I encouraging rioting in Tennessee. All I'm saying by sharing this video is don't buy into the Tennessee GOP's "mass delusion" that the fuel tax increase will actually be a tax cut, because "they're depending on mass confusion". "Don't lay down and accept this fate." Instead, be revolutionaries with your vote on Election Day 2018 by voting every single, sorry Tennessee incumbent out of office regardless of party.

Don't be a sheep. Be a sheepdog. Let your vote be your teeth. I promise you I will.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Basketball and Transplants

April is organ donation awareness month. With approximately 120,000 Americans currently awaiting a life-saving organ transplant and about 20 of them dying every day waiting, it is good that a former NBA player was recently honored for giving the gift of life to many through organ and tissue donation.

West's silhouette serves as the current NBA logo.
West's silhouette serves as the current NBA logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Jerome Kersey's life was cut short in 2015 by a blood clot that traveled from his leg to his lung. He was recently honored by Donate Life Northwest at a Portland Trailblazers basketball game. The 17-year NBA vet was a hero in death saving the lives of several, including several children, and giving sight to 4 people through cornea donation.

Kersey's gifts not only helped many people but also give a sense of comfort and peace to his daughter, Kiara, who misses him dearly. "What it means to me personally is my dad's legacy hasn't died and that he's still paying it forward," she said. For the ones Kersey helped, he will always be remembered as a hero.

You can be a hero, too, by registering as an organ and tissue donor. For more information about organ and tissue donation, including how to register in the state where you live, please visit Donate Life America's website by clicking here.

Read more: article - "How One Late NBA Players Simple Choice Is Saving Lives"

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Baseball and Transplants

With the 2017 Major League Baseball Season opener just around the corner, I figured today was a great time to share some good news about Hall of Famer Rod Carew. I remember watching him play for the Minnesota Twins and California Angels (now known as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) back when I was a boy. He more than earned his place in the hall of fame.

English: Rod Carew, Panamanian former Mayor Le...
English: Rod Carew, Panamanian former Mayor League Player and Baseball hall of fame member. Photo by Tito Herrera/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Carew, 71, suffered a heart attack back in September 2015, which led to him having to have blood clots removed and a LVAD (left ventricular assist device) implanted to aid the pumping function of his heart after the damage from the heart attack. However, thanks to his new, healthy heart, the LVAD is no longer needed.

After spending 7 weeks away from home for the transplant surgery and subsequent recovery, Carew is doing great. In fact, he's feeling so good that he wanted to attend spring training in Florida. However, it was not possible as a person is not allowed to fly for at least 3 months after transplant.

Interestingly, Carew's new heart came from a 29-year-old donor, and Carew's jersey number was - 29. Coincidence? I think not. I think the Good Lord had a plan for Rod Carew, just as He did for me, and does for you, too.

Welcome to The Transplant Family, Mr. Carew! I wish you the best in your new life. I surely enjoyed watching you play baseball as a boy. Play ball!!
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Read more: article titled ""Hall of Famer Rod Carew Returns Home After Heart, Kidney Transplant Surgery"

Friday, March 10, 2017

Which Team Will The Sheepdog Choose In Free Agency?

Yesterday, NFL Free Agency began, and as I wrote last week (here), I'm looking for a new team myself - a new favorite team, as a fan.  I actually begin "scouting" (for lack of a better term) teams after the AFC Championship game. I started with 8 potential candidates, but now, for various reasons, I'm down to 6.

The criteria I'm using to evaluate teams, in no particular order of priority, are:
  1. history / legacy,
  2. proximity to Middle Tennessee,
  3. drama or lack thereof (includes political involvement),
  4. future potential, and 
  5. located in a warm weather climate or has domed stadium.
English: American football with clock to repre...
English: American football with clock to represent a "current sports or American football event" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The 2 teams I've eliminated from consideration are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers. Both were removed due to political drama. First, Jaguars owner, Shahid Khan (here), and Panthers' Head Coach, Ron Rivera (here), voiced their opposition to President Trump's immigration plan.

Before someone says, "Oh, that's racist of you." No, that has nothing to do with it, as I have voiced my opposition to mixing football and politics multiple times before - here and here and here. I've been consistent on this. I truly don't care where you're from nor what the color of your skin is if you own or coach an NFL team. It doesn't matter to me if you're pink, purple, or polka dotted, or if you're from Mars. Just don't mix politics with football like these 2 guys did. Myself and millions of others follow sports as a way of escaping politics. It's all about the game. Don't ruin it for us.

There's one other problem I have with the Jaguars. NFL teams are involved with various charities, including children's organizations and military groups. They do some good work. However, according to the Jaguars website (here), on their "Foundation Page", under their "Give N Go" program, it says several types of non-profit groups are ineligible to participate in this fundraising program. One of them is "church groups". Why? What do the Jaguars have against churches? These 2 big strikes against the Jags kinda suck, too, because they had one BIG plus - their cool uniforms.

So, "Who are the 6 teams left?", you ask. In reverse order from least favorite to the front runner, here they are.

6. Detroit Lions - The Lions meet some of my criteria - they play in a dome at Ford Field, have a long history as an NFL franchise, and you don't hear much drama from them. Even with playing indoors, there's some downside to the Lions for me - the 10 hour drive from Middle Tennessee for a home game and the potential for nasty weather during the 2nd half of the NFL season. However, I do like their colors of blue and silver, and it would be nice to be part of the fan base if the franchise ever wins that first Super Bowl trophy. Realistically, though, the Lions are a distant long-shot to be my team.

5. Atlanta Falcons - I like what I see with this franchise. Dan Quinn has made vast improvements to this team since being named head coach, just as I expected he would. The young team is built to be in the Super Bowl hunt for at least the next 3 to 4 years. Although, I think they may taken a step back this year, since offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan left to take the head coaching position in San Francisco.

Atlanta Falcons logo
Atlanta Falcons logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Atlanta begins play this year in the new Mercedes Benz Stadium, and it's only a 4-hour drive to Atlanta for me. I've heard of little to no drama involving this team, and Coach Quinn's team is one of the most active in the league in supporting the military, as evidenced by the team dedicating one game this last season to honoring America's fallen (here). Coach Quinn even won the NFL's 2016 Salute to Service Award. The downside - the Atlanta traffic on gameday, and any other day for that matter.

Besides the traffic, there's another strike against the Falcons. They have chosen to do the same thing as the Jaguars in relation to their community outreach and charity work. On Atlanta's website, on the "Community" page, under "Donation Policy" (here), it clearly states, ""We do not provide donated items to churches, synagogues, or other places of worship."

Religious groups do a lot of work with kids, so why not support them in that work? What do the Jaguars and the Falcons have against these organizations? I don't get it. Of the 8 teams I've considered during this process, ONLY the Jaguars and the Falcons have this stipulation. I had the Falcons ranked at #2 on my list until finding this.  

4. Arizona Cardinals - one word for this franchise - potential. The defense is solid and they have multiple playmakers on offense. In my opinion, David Johnson is currently the best running back in the NFL, and it's group of young wide receivers are fun to watch. If his health will hold up, I think Head Coach Bruce Arians has a legitimate shot at winning this franchise it's first Super Bowl trophy in the near future.

Arizona is a little distance from Tennessee, but a game in the Cardinals' new domed stadium might prove to be a nice weekend getaway when it turns cold here late in the year. Plus, once again, I haven't heard of much drama out of this team.

3. Indianapolis Colts - The team's history goes waaaaaaaayyyyyyy back to the championship winning Baltimore Colts of yesteryear. The Colts play in a domed stadium less than a 5-hour drive from me, and since they are in the same division with the Tennessee Titans, I could conceivably get in at least one game every year when they make their annual trip to Nashville. I think they are a little ways off from being a Super Bowl contender again, as they need a lot of help on defense. Plus, the offensive line needs to be beefed up, or Andrew Luck will continue to get beat up and injured. They could really use a top tier running back, too.

2. Oakland Raiders - DA RAAAYDAAAS!! I know, I know, this one doesn't make sense for 2 reasons:
  1. Per my criteria above, I'm wanting to avoid drama, and the Raiders are often the "Drama Kings" of the NFL . They have a longgggggg history of being the bad boys of the NFL. 
  2. The Raiders and Steelers are longtime rivals. I really don't care about, as far as this decision goes.
The Raiders probably meet the "history / legacy" criteria more than any of the other 6 candidates. Their history goes back to 1960 with 3 Super Bowl victories. They're also young with great future potential. I felt like they were a legit Super Bowl contender last year before the season even started. Unfortunately, their hopes were eliminated when Derek Carr went down with a broken leg in week 16. That was hard to watch.

As far as proximity to Tennessee, they're all the way over on the West Coast .... for now. What if their proposed moved to Las Vegas comes to fruition? They'd be a little closer, but not significantly. Vegas is only a 4-hour flight, though, and "Las Vegas Raiders" has a nice ring to it. The Raiders and Vegas seem like a perfect match - Sin City and the bad boys of the NFL. I like it. Plus, as far as the drama, they'll be no surprises. It's the Raiders - you expect it.

Oakland Raiders logo
Oakland Raiders logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One suggestion I'd like to make to the Raiders organization - if you do move to Las Vegas, consider a uniform upgrade. Vegas is all about the flash and the show, and those uniforms are .... well, bland. Don't scrap 'em, just upgrade them a little. For instance, on the black home jerseys, add some silver in a few places to give that black jersey a little flash. On the white away jerseys, add some black and even some silver there, also. Some sort of highlights, stripes, or something. Heck, bring in a silver alternative jersey, too, with black lettering and numbers. Now, that would be cool.

Also, I think changing the font of the letters and numbers on the jerseys would be good. Maybe something like Tampa Bay has or even like the Oregon Ducks. If you go to Vegas, those uniforms need some flash. Afterall, "It's Vegas, Baby!" 

Another reason I have the Raiders ranked #2 is because of something owner Mark Davis said in November 2015 during an interview (read about it here). As most know, several NFL players have been in the news over the last few years due to domestic violence. Davis, said in regards to domestic violence, "It's just something we can't tolerate. I don't know how to fix it in society, but we can't have it on our team." Bravo Mr. Davis!! This is a stance The Sheepdog can get behind. It's an interesting one, too, considering the Raiders reputation for being "dirty" and other things. So, the question becomes, if the Raiders can take this stance, why can't other teams, and the NFL as a whole, do the same thing?

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - I reaaaally like what I see in this team. They're young on both sides of the ball and have got some playmakers. I think they are just a few players away from making serious playoff runs. They need some elite players on defense. The addition of Desean Jackson yesterday via free agency adds the threat of another "stud wide receiver" opposite Mike Evans. Jackson will draw pass coverage away from Evans. If they can improve the offensive line in order to keep Jameis Winston from having to run for his life repeatedly, and add an elite running back, this offense could be a nightmare for any defense and be really fun to watch.

My wife and I visited Tampa a few years ago and loved the city. It's so beautiful I could live there. The climate is perfect, too. Even though it's about an 11-hour drive from Nashville, it would be a nice weekend getaway for a game when the cold fronts come billowing through Tennessee in November and December. I could even catch a Bucs game in Atlanta once a year, since they are division rivals.

The other thing I like about the Bucs is an aspect of their community involvement. According to the Bucs' website (here), back in December, the Glazer family partnered with Tampa Bay's Metropolitan Ministries in a cereal drive to help ensure area children have breakfast. At the bottom of the Bucs' website page where information about the project is disclosed is an "About Metropolitan Ministries" section. It states:
Metropolitan Ministries faithfully reaches out to poor, hungry and homeless men, women and children in their time of need - providing life-changing answers. Metropolitan Ministries' mission is to care for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless in our community through services that alleviate suffering, promote dignity, and instill self-sufficiency ... as an expression of the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ. 
In the age where the name of Jesus is taboo most of the time, I commend the Bucs' for having the mission of Metropolitan Ministries containing the name of Jesus Christ on the team's website. It's the exact opposite of what the Jaguars and Falcons have chosen to do. None of the other teams I'm considering have language remotely similar on their website.


The Bucs' and Raiders are running a close race. Then, there's a little gap back to a tight heat between Indy and Arizona. It's then further back still to Atlanta, and then as I said, the Lions are even further back and a real longshot. I'm gonna make a decision sometime after the 2017 NFL Draft in April.

These rankings could change a little or even drastically over the next few months. If one of my 6 contenders selects Florida State running back Dalvin Cook in the draft, their stock will go up, possibly drastically. I really enjoyed watching that kid play college football. Likewise, if one signs either Johnny Manziel or Colin Kaepernick in free agency, their stock will go down, way down. I've seen enough of "Johnny Football", and I'm still wondering why Kaepernick is still in the NFL after disrespecting the American flag, the country, and our military and law enforcement. It should not have been tolerated. The 49ers should have cut him immediately. The NFL should have nipped it in the bud, too, when other players across the league joined in.

Lastly, if you're on staff, or somehow associated, with one of the 6 contenders above, and would like to make a case as to why your team should be my team, please feel free to contact me. I would welcome all the information I can get as I continue my deliberations. Just contact me via e-mail. Likewise, if you're a fan of 1 of the 6, feel free to give your input, too, in the comment section of this article. Just make sure you follow my "Comments Policy".

I know it's only March, but I'm really looking forward to football this fall.