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‘All In’

According to Reuters, when choosing a flight, U.S. fliers apparently prefer ticket prices over air safety. In fact, recent safety issues of the Boeing 737 Max had had little impact. Only 3 percent said that aircraft or model was important when buying a plane ticket. In contrast, 57 percent said ticket price was critical.

However, Southwest Airlines passengers expressed concerns on social media after confusion over on-board safety cards led passengers to think they were flying on a Boeing 737 Max. In reality, Southwest had already grounded all 737 Max airplane and stated the safety card used can be used for more than one plane model, adding that safety procedures for the 737 Max and 737-800 are identical.

In other words, up to the point of takeoff, people were more concerned about. Unfortunately folks, at that point, it’s too late. You’re ‘all in.’ You’ve succumbed to fate.

In American usage, the phrase “all in” began as a colloquial expression meaning to be in a bad spot—exhausted, worn out, and spent. In the game of poker, it refers to the moment when a player—whether out of bravado, recklessness, or desperation—bets all of his or her chips on a single hand. The all-in moment in poker is a thrilling win-or-lose-everything crisis of dramatic clarity: you’ve wagered all you’ve got, giving your fate over to the cards, and you can’t go back out again.

“Can you drive me to my car? It’s late and I parked in an unsafe area after dark.”

“Why didn’t you park in the parking garage across directly across the street?”

“Well, the garage costs $90.00 a month,” she paused.

“And you didn’t want to pay $90.00 a month?” I interjected, finishing the sentence.

“Correct.”

Knowing the position she has at the firm, I’m fairly confident her annual salary nears $120,000 annually. Roughly speaking, she bet her life on $1,200 savings, a smidgen less than 1% of her salary.

“So, you placed savings above safety?”

“Huh?” she quipped.

“You bet personal safety for less than 1% of your salary?”

“Hey, don’t jinx me,” she snapped. Continuing, “You’ll be responsible if I get hurt.”

“Yes, I will feel bad if you get injured. However, you went ‘all in,’ not me'”

History will tell you that going all in is often a spectacularly bad idea. In life though, it seems all good. In life we hope many of poker’s words and phrases bring forth a sense of romance and drama that break the normal mundane activities of life. in many cases, we simply want to up the ante.

In life, almost everything contains some level of risk; the key to success is to identify an appropriate risk tolerance and then manage the that tolerance. In some instances, this may mean avoidance of any loss is appropriate, but in others moderate losses may be tolerable. In my friend’s case, there’s appears to little reward in gaining less than 1% reward. Sure, should she live that same routine over a decade, the reward would equal nearly $12,000. Then again, a decade of wages would net $1,200,000. The risk reward remains at 1%.

Going ‘all in.’ Wagering everything for the 1% is why Vegas almost always wins.

Pretty stupid.

When Tiger Woods was criticized for receiving the Medal of Freedom, one could presume he would accept the honor based upon his comments from August 2018:

He’s the president of the United States. You have to respect the office. No matter who is in the office, you may like, dislike personality or the politics, but we all must respect the office.”

In awarding the medal, Trump called the champion golfer “a global symbol of American excellence, devotion, and drive.”

“Tiger, we are inspired by everything you’ve become and attained. The job you’ve done is incredible,” Trump said to Woods. “Your spectacular achievements on the golf course, your triumph over physical adversity and your relentless will to win, win, win; these qualities embody the American spirit of pushing boundaries, defying limits and always striving for greatness.”

“He’s also a great person. He’s a great guy,”

No. He’s not. Elin Nordegren might beg to differ.

In the age of Trump, Woods’ comments is a tough sell. Trump has turned every day into a political litmus test that no one or no cause has been spared. For Woods’ to say he respects the office (the Presidency) is in effect having an opinion. Silence is a betrayal.

This is a presidency many athletes have rightfully chosen to not respect. Respect goes to those who don’t call people “sons of bitches” and hope they lose their jobs for protesting racism. “Respecting the office” means not disrespecting, not just “the office,” but people of color, immigrants. women, the disabled, older Americans on welfare … Tragically, the list is long Trump rants stand as an ugly testament to his petty hatreds.

However, Mr. Woods and PGA alike, I will do what neither couldn’t – I will never watch another PGA tournament again.

As one Twitter user noted:

Woods might be a talented player. But he’s not a great person.


P.S. ….

Many years ago, a young associate stood on a New York subway, awaiting a train that would take him near the river. It was nearing 5:38 PM and warmth from the Springtime sun lured him from the hotel for several hours of sightseeing. Unbeknownst to him, at that very moment, another man stood squished in an already overcrowded railway car. The repetitive back and forth motion of the train, side-to-side swagger, added to either bad meal, seasonal allergies or an oncoming cold as the trained hurled forward.

Just as ordained, the associate and the ill man met, albeit ever briefly. The transit line stopped in front of my coworker. The doors opened. The man inside threw-up outward toward the platform, hitting my associate chest high. Two seconds later, train doors closed and pulled away.

Turning around, “Why me?” he asked.

Welcome to New York,” an elderly man quipped.

So many things in my life were insignificant as they occurred. Most were overly dramatized, either by the people involved or indulgently over told throughout the years. The memories I’m absorbing from treatment may not be precious to others, but each encounter and quip offers more wisdom than the sum of all valuables in my home. I have learned memories are valuable.

And my current memories? They don’t consist of the tumor. It’s the smaller things like nausea.

After downing another round of medications, I remember my associate in New York. Side effects started 24 hours later. It was the first time I experienced such heavy nausea. If one could bargain with the ol’ ‘Lord of Nausea,’ I would schedule all this for Election Day 2020 to avoid having to decide the pending presidential election. But alas, the bugger arrived at 9:04 AM, just after starting speaking at an internal company meeting.

Now I’ll admit, this is one heck of a way to out myself and my treatments to the entirety of the company. But I was exceedingly quick for ‘Mr. Nausea.’ I attributed my difficulties to allergies, to which, I’ve neither had nor taken medicine for. For a brief moment, I thought of hurling all over Alan. Alan was a prick from day one. So much so that I nearly called him Mr. Prick during a meeting. However, I lost my opportunity as everyone ditched the room, leaving me like a dead goldfish in a glass bowl.

After Mr. Nausea stopped, I defiantly walked to my desk. I expected a HAZMAT team but was greeted by Ms. Ginger C., former drill sergeant and reformed nurse, with lemon tea and orange wedges.

Picked them six months ago,” she pointed.

Sure there are still good?

Probably,” she noted. “But you look like shit anyway. What difference will it make?

Hard to argue logic, regardless of delivery. I downed the orange wedges.

If there’s one thing, I learned about life, that when S*** happens, it’s essential to develop one key skill: humor. It’s not that reasoning skills aren’t necessary. However, humor and humility will allow most to be successful in whatever situation encompasses us. And when dealing with Mr. Nausea, humor is critical.

In the movie Jack Reacher, Helen told Reacher he was wrong.

You were wrong about my father,” Helen stated.

Yeah, let’s not make a big thing of it.”

In Closing

I read a story of a fast-food employee near Houston who allegedly punched a co-worker after the coworker gave away the ending of Avengers: Endgame. MSNBC reported Justin Gregory Surface received an assault citation. Surface’s life got flushed for a spoiler easily read online.

Everyone gets shit in life. Most of it isn’t significant. There are so many other huge things coming down the pike. When S*** comes your way, take a breath. Try not to spend endless hours fumigating ‘why.’ Tumors are a big deal. Nausea? Not so much. So, when nausea visits again, I will channel Reacher.

Let’s not make a big thing of it.”

I awoke stiff. Without personally checking emotion at the door, I could have screamed — the cervical bones within, and maybe the tumor within, grows angrier each day. Still, things moved. Legs worked. Arms worked. Fingers grasped. Nothing seemed to operate efficiently as yesterday.

It’s a sick person’s life. The body groans. Maybe it’s a moaning borne from careless days of abandoned discretion, discarded thoughts and pushing the barriers of my body beyond natural law.

My brother asked, “What caused the tumor? Something caused it.”

In truth, it could have been a wanton disregard of my body. Maybe carelessness. Maybe even genetics. Could also have been exposed to white phosphorus emissions, a heavy dose of radiation, exhaust carcinogens from having worked 12 years a slave for American Honda or any number of exposures.

I could only muster, “Life. There is no reason. Shit happens.”

“Maybe there’s a ‘new normal,’” he replied.

A new normal. Hmm. ‘New normal?’ How does one define ‘new normal?’

For anyone with a terminal illness, there comes the point in time when ‘normal’ undergoes several stages of metamorphosis. Paraphrasing from Heinrich Harrer, “I am now in a place where time stands still, yet everything moves.” Prediagnosis, the world stopped for no one. Post-diagnosis, the world stopped for no one. All of us are skateboarders on a cosmic marble.

Life continues regardless of trials, tribulations or triumphs. At work, there are projects, plane tickets, phone calls and money spent to complete them all. Nights are filled with my mother’s surgeries, my father’s dementia, and any number of assorted crises from friends, family and neighbors alike. Strangely, each offers a reprieve from my burden, yet none affords the pardon silently sought.

My life stopped April 22, 2019, 1:09 PM. Diagnosis? Tumor. I wonder if others experienced the same.

I’m not an expert in medical systems, PET or MRI. But I’ve had enough training from countless EHR installs that even I could tell across the room. My PET scan measured how much work cells were doing. Cancer is very active. And part of my neck scan looked light city at night, from an airplane. When there is no cancer, the film appears dark. “Double Fucked,” or DF, as some nurses call it, looks like downtown Los Angeles. My scan didn’t look like Los Angeles. Instead, it looked like Saint Louis.

The doctor used many words — the last few reinforced what I already knew. Treatment will focus on arresting the tumor. “Quality of life,” not cure.

The EHR delivered the scan electronically. I read it on April 22, 2019, 1:09 PM. The day my life stopped.

An acquaintance from work noticed I was lost in thought.

Homesick?

Interesting question,” I thought. “Wherever I live, I shall feel homesick for upstate New York. I often think of walking the banks of the Hudson River, where I can still hear the cries of wild geese and deer as they darted throughout the clear, cool moonlight. I remember no other home, not even that of my childhood where I can be so instantly immersed.

Admittedly, I wished to have been walking the Hudson, where both comfort and hope percolated and bathed the soul. It’s where I felt the presence of God, just as I do now. And just like MacClean wrote, “I am haunted by water.” The Hudson haunts me.

Laying in bed, a breeze spilled through the open window. I mustered to sit forward and peered outward at the cars three-quarters of a mile away. A silence fell upon me. There, in the late-night silence, my thoughts stirred. Not everyone will understand my journey. And that’s OK. I have to this life, for I can live no other.

Once again, I paraphrased Harrer, looked up to the stars above, and silently whispered unto the heavens.

I can’t say I know where you want me to go, nor if my bad deeds can be purified. There are so many things I have done that I regret. But when I come to a full stop, I hope you understand that the distance between us is not as great as others may claim.”

I rolled back to bed and muttered to the Godly presence still with me.

It’s not what has happened to me that counts, it’s how I choose to respond. I will give my best.”

Laid quiet for some time. I sighed heavily for a moment. Just like others before and after me, my life will change irretrievably; priorities, aspirations, and promises would go unfulfilled.

By the way, please start time again?”

On December 22, 1944, at about 11:30 in the morning, a group of four German soldiers, waving two white flags, approached the American lines using the Arlon Road just south of Bastogne.

The Germans sent soldiers to take the American surrender. Awoken from a deep sleep, Brig. Gen. McAuliffe, said “Nuts!” The response was typed and delivered by Colonel Joseph Harper, commanding the 327th Glider Infantry, to the German delegation. It read accordingly:

December 22, 1944

To the German Commander,

NUTS!

The American Commander.

In March, I read of a Kaiser Permanente robot rolling into a patients room in the intensive care unit and telling an elderly patient by video he would likely die within days. In some ways, I felt more fortunate. Mine were posted on my EHR account. It was ‘transactional.’

A tumor in the neck measuring 4.1 x 2.3 in transaxial dimensions and 3.7 cm in height (1.6 inches x .9 inches x 1.4 inches), surrounding the spinal cord and C5-C6. Preliminary indication benign. Requires biopsy. Metastatic or secondary tumors may spread from another site. Delicate neural structures will complicate treatment, resulting in nerve compression, spinal deformation and compromised bone strength.

There’s good news and bad news. Good news: Highly likely the tumor is benign. Bad news: Tumor is the size of a walnut, surrounds the spinal cord and or nerves. Prognosis? Nuts.

Nuts!

Every day someone gets the news that a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. The shock, accompanied by a ferocious sense of foreboding and a powerful dose of premature grieving, can be overwhelming and paralyzing. However, my first inclination was not despair. The gnawing torment some experience never occurred. No nausea. No dread. No anxiety. Using the Kubler-Ross five stage model as a measuring stick, I leapfrogged denial, anger, bargaining, depression and landed on acceptance.

I’ve known since 2014 that my internal clock was running out. I cannot explain it. I instinctively knew death was nearing. My time working in hospitals reveals that even if loved ones refuse to discuss death, the patient knows it is coming. I just presumed it would have been quicker, for five years later, I’m still around. However, in the annals of life, 5 years ago is just a moment ago.

So, what’s next?” my boss asked.

I doled out a usual quip, “Burning a hole through my deductible.”

What I really thought was “Relationships.”

Author Karen J. Warren wrote in 2016 that she was diagnosed with terminal illness. As she confronted the truth about her medical condition. She articulated the personal, philosophical, and medical issues when discussing end-of-life options. However, the following stays with me.

I knew that what gives my life meaning, what really matters to me, are relationships—relationships with myself, with other people, with animals, with the natural world. Creating or nurturing these relationships is what I value most.

The precious time I have left matters! I found myself asking, “Will doing this or saying that make a positive difference to my health or enhance my well-being?” For example, does it make a difference to me whether I participate in a research program, take an X-ray or have a mammogram? My guiding principle has been this: “If doing something makes a positive difference in my life or enhances my well-being, then do it; if it doesn’t, then don’t do it.”

So, nuts.

I will do something that many fail to do: Focus on things that will make a positive impact.

You should too.

Medal for a Pali

A day after Tiger Woods won his fifth Masters title and 15th major tournament in a rousing resurrection of his career, President Trump said Monday he would give him an honor almost as exclusive as a green jacket from Augusta National Golf Club: the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Just like hundreds of thousands glued to the television watching Tiger golf, I rooted for the man. And in many ways, I hoped there could be someone, like me and many others, that feel astonishingly from the stars into life’s gutter.

However, the Medal of Freedom? Why?

As you may know, The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, and is awarded to those who make outstanding contributions to national security or national interest, world peace, culture or other public or private endeavors. The medal has been awarded since 1963, and is typically given to a dozen or fewer people each year.

Thus, should one receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom simply because Mr. Woods has a longstanding relationship with Mr. Trump? They own property near each other, golf together both before and after Trump became president, and shared similar stories of reported bouts of infidelity.

Success for both has been overshadowed by stories of infidelity, payoffs, and for Woods, struggles with physical ailments. In 2017, Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving, agreed to a diversion program, probation, and among other requirements, to avoid charges of driving under the influence.

My question doesn’t negate Tiger’s accomplishments. But as Op-Ed write Dan Solomon noted, the adversity Woods is famous for overcoming, in other words, wasn’t something that happened to him. It was something Tiger did, to himself. So, am I the only one who finds it weird to cheer Tiger in his Masters moment, while simultaneously finding Trump awarding a Presidential Medal of Freedom to a disgraced athlete justifiable?

Presidents, current and former, have diminished the medal’s honor. Former Presidents Bush and Obama awarded the medals to thinkers, writers and athletes, living and deceased. Even Joe Biden, received the medal, though I envision Biden’s service to American’s a solid testament.

I believe the Medal of Freedom should be saved for true cultural and social leaders, those morally inspiring, accomplished, and meaningful. From my view, that’s not Tiger. But, everyone needs a pal – Even Trump.

Maybe, just maybe, Trump will have Big Macs, Quarter Pounder’s and fries on the menu.

WaterExcept for accepting that I could depart this at any moment, I’ve lived a relatively good life. Quiet days of work rolled into quiet nights and quiet hours of sleep. I’ve traveled many parts of the world; some parts were I while others are splendorous. Only two occasions where I ever experienced danger: Once in South Africa and another time in Atlanta. Still, up through last week, I never believed an actual physical assault would visit me.

As Longfellow would write:

Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life, some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

Longfellow’s 1842 poem basically means everyone will experience difficulty and heartache at some point. The “day” is a metaphor for “life.” So, when I reflect back upon the black four-door Ford pick-up that pulled alongside my parked car, I thought little of it. Moments later, I was targeted simply because I carried a cane as the assaulter perceived I was on ‘public assistance,’ “sucking money” from society.

Looking back, I presume that somehow the offender thought beating the crap out me would somehow motivate me to get a job. Turns out he was wrong. I have a job. I am actively employed.

The battle lasted less than twenty seconds, for since my back was sore, I carried a self-defense cane. After listening to how I was a leech on society, a quick flick to the offender’s left shin left him crumpled in pain. He quickly stumbled back to his truck and sped away.

The police report was ‘matter of fact.’ Comments such as, “you were lucky,” to I “was smart,” should have run. My mother gasped. Colleagues momentarily “wowed.” And the world quickly moved on. I sat. Alone. In thought.

The rate of nonfatal assaults on American men 60 and older increased by 75.4% between 2002 and 2016, a new government report estimates. For women, the assault rate increased by 35.4% between 2007 and 2016. Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted the need to strengthen violence prevention among older adults.

There’s a small, tiny part of me that wants to meet this fellow again – not for bridging wounds, but rather, to simply wreck his day. However, as a Buddhist, I use several problem-solving or approach coping strategies. They center on direct action and planning. These are directed at solving a problem and mitigating sources of distress. These coping strategies include:

  • Meditation: For the development of love and compassion;
  • Self-Help: Collecting information concerning the justice system, community resources, common experiences amongst victims of violent crime, and so on; and
  • Activities towards empowerment: This includes taking self-defense classes to reduce the possibility of future victimization; activism, such as sharing one’s experience with others to advocate for the protection of future victims.

Since becoming a Buddhist, I have tried to have a deep commitment to love and compassion – it is a commitment to nonviolence. In reality, should I ever meet my attacker again, I will borrow the Dali Lama:

I am reminded that all of us are basically alike. Therefore, I neither speak with a feeling of anger nor hatred. Yet, as a member of the world’s community, I recognize how dependent we are in one another. The injuries you wished to cause would not have fed one person, would not have given a home to a homeless man or provide shelter from a Winter wind. Your act wouldn’t have extinguished the level of hope within me, for I have crucified myself far worse than you ever could have achieved. Simply put, I ask only to walk and understand your pain.

My attacker claimed I was weak. He sees not the living water within. What is more yielding than water? If you beat a pail of water, can you destroy it? The pail, maybe yes. Yet the water escapes. Over time, water (love) wears upon the strongest – few can withstand its strength.

So, I am water … that which is both elusive and stronger.

A ‘No’ Man

As a consultant, I’ve had the privilege of traveling across the world and serving well over 1,500 clients, from CEOs to company Vice President’s, Senior Directors and managers. Yesterday afternoon, a CEO called and asked if I could join him for a drink. We met at a local Irish bar that both of us has, at one time or another attended.

“Sorry for calling on short notice. I needed to vent,” he said after ordering a beer.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“Had an HR meeting two days ago over an alleged sexual harassment claim.”

“And,” prompting him further.

“Well,” lowering his head and staring at his whiskey. “A female employee claimed harassment by our Sales VP.”

“Well,” I sighed heavily. “I’m sorry.”

“Wait,” he interrupted. “She claims a year ago that the offending employee ‘winked’ at her.”

“Winked?”

“Winked,” he offered. “But under questioning, it turned out not to be a wink, but a ‘raised’ eye brow?”

“What the hell is a raised eyebrow?”

“Have no clue,” he muttered. “Have no clue. The entire management team was in the sales meeting and she claims he raised an eyebrow to her. And she felt violated by this.”

“Anyone else see this?”

“Oh hell,” he pounded his fist. “We were all there. And not a single one of us saw what she was referring to.”

A long pause swallowed his long face.

“Our Sales VP called today and resigned – claimed he felt humiliated.” He momentarily starred through me. “Where is all this going?”

By October 2018, the #MeToo movement derailed over 200 careers. As I’ve said before, most of those men needed to go. In nearly half the cases, the replacements were women. Joe Biden may be the latest casualty.

However, one unintended consequence, executives and analysts say, companies seeking to minimize the risk of sexual harassment or misconduct appear to be simply minimizing contact between female employees and senior male executives.

Most of the consulting firms I have worked with have told me that they will avoid going to dinner with any female employees, or that they’re concerned about deploying a women and men consultants onsite. People are concerned and have questions.

The CEO I had a drink with openly admitted to becoming a “No” man. He simply says no to most meetings. He ran off a business list to which he says no.

“If there’s a meeting with a female employee, I intentionally broaden the issue so I can include as many others as possible.”

“Having dinner at restaurant ABD. Want to … “No, thanks.””

“Going for coffee. Would you like … “No thanks.””

“Lunch at … “No thanks.””

“Grabbing a beer at … “No thanks.””

“Ordering tickets for the hockey game … “No thanks.””

“Texting female coworkers … “No thanks.””

“College internship programs … “No thanks.””

“Business Travel … “No thanks.””

“I grabbed a rental car, what to share … “No thanks.””

“Stay at the same hotel … “No thanks.””

“Same flights … “No thanks.””

My CEO friend placed a palm against his forehead. “My God. I’ve become a “No Man.

He is not alone. Lean In partnered with SurveyMonkey to look into the possible negative effects of the #MeToo movement for women’s advancement. Promoting mentorship is one of Lean In’s key priorities. Nearly half of male managers they surveyed reported being “uncomfortable participating in a common work activity with a woman, such as mentoring, working alone, or socializing together.” Senior men were five times more likely to hesitate to travel for work with a junior level woman than with a junior level man.

More recently, the MeToo movement has been credited for canceled office holiday parties, radio stations refusing to play the classic song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” after many claimed that the singer is trying to persuade a woman to stay with him by offering her a drink and company wide trips.

Thus, while it’s critically important that women who’ve been assaulted are heard, we cannot forget about the fundamental right to due process that our great country was founded upon. As Op-Ed writer David Oscar Markus noted:

If it’s the subjective feelings of the accuser that we prioritize over the intent of accused, then we will have flipped our presumption of giving the benefit of the doubt to the well-meaning. We will also put at risk coaches and teachers who encourage their students with a reassuring pat on the back. The same for business colleagues with a handshake. What’s next, criminalizing the close-talker? The list goes on. Let’s not send the message that there is to be no touching at all without fear of false accusation that it was “uncomfortable.”

Unfortunately, the side effect of men getting intimidated by the #MeToo movement won’t serve women well in neither the short term nor long term.

The real change will only occur at the grassroot level, which, in this case, is each one of us. However, I fear the only real change is that more men will become “No” men.

Buddhism and Baseball

I wasn’t feeling well throughout the weekend, so I limited my activity. Fortunately, Saturday was a rainout. And although I did perform a lot of household chores, neck strain and pain limited my activity. Yesterday, was cold. Thus, I satyed quiet, stayed indoors, and completed taxes.

However, I did watch some of Major League Baseball’s opening day and weekend. Prior to the season, I had read several columnists claiming the Cubs would do no better than third in the NL Central. However, after watching the Cubs first three games, last or next to last might be apropos.

I will say it straight: It appears the 2018 Cubs got on the bus from Spring Training. They suck.

Yesterday, the Cubs started great, as they built up a 4-0 lead in the first four innings. The Rangers immediately erased that lead however, as Delino DeShields crushed a grand slam off Hammels in the bottom of the fourth, giving Texas a 5-4 lead. In the bottom of the 9th, Texas Ranger Gallo hit a double off the left field wall and after advance to third on a groundout. He scored Cubs Pedro Strop threw a wild pitch that bounced so high, it came down 47 minutes on Ms. Felcowitzh’s old Oldsmobile Wagon as she drove home from evening church.

I figured Pedro Strop got pitching advice from Carl Edwards Jr. or Yu Darvish. Darvish lit up the baseball diamond Saturday. In short, Darvish ended up throwing 75 pitches to retire eight batters, and had to be saved. According to Baseball Reference, Darvish is the fifth Cub starting pitcher to give up seven or more walks in a start, joining Tyler Chatwood, Carlos Zambrano, Jeff Samardzija, and Jake Arrieta. The Rangers’ first 10 batters of the game did not put the ball in play, which set a new record for the club.

Despite Darvish’s struggles, the Cubs led 6-5 going into the bottom of the eighth inning, when another pitcher remaking himself, Carl Edwards Jr., took over. Edwards subsequently gave up a single and a walk, before Gallo netted a three-run home run. It proved to be the game winner.

All of this was topped by Sunday’s Cardinals – Brewer game. In the first inning, Matt Carpenter doubled. Upon safely reaching second base, he stood, placed his left hand over his crotch, raised his right hand and wiggled his hips.

“What the hell was that?” I mumbled.

However, in the 7th, with two outs, Cardinals pitcher Miller got Travis Shaw to pop up into shallow left field for what should have been the final out of the inning. However, with the shift on, the ball managed to find a hole between Carpenter and Ozuna, enabling the Brewers to pull within 4-3. Yet Carpenter, for whatever reason, did not stand place his left hand over his crotch, raised his right hand and wiggle his hips.

A friend called five minutes later, “Why didn’t Carpenter dance?

“Maybe because there was no dollar bills?”

Eventually, the Brewers won in 9, sending the cards to a 1–3 start.

In Buddhism, there’s an endless cycle of suffering—we are always winning and losing the same game, somehow expecting to make progress. We spend part of our life trying to get it together, and the other part watching it fall apart. We don’t realize that if we try to gain something, we had better be ready to lose it. As soon as we have time—“I have a whole hour free”—we are losing it. We work hard to have a relationship, and then it breaks up. We come together for a holiday party, and then it’s over. We buy a new car, and the fender gets a dent.

What’s interesting is that just like baseball, life is really about the competition within ourselves. We rise to our own challenge. As I watched this weekend’s MLB games, I thought about all the things I did to get to this point, through snow and rain, heat and cold, management failure and my own.

When my time ends, maybe God will ask who won. Should He, I will say, “No one and everyone.”

I had a followup appointment with my physician yesterday. Having worked in the medical industry since 2006, I envisioned the nurse who performed intake returned to the Nurse’s Station saying, “He’s still alive.”

In many hospitals, nurses usually have ongoing office pools for all sorts of weird things: football, baseball, NCAA Basketball Tournaments, the length of Nicholas Cage’s marriages, the number of months between McDreamy’s, and ETOH. In medical terms, ETOH is alcohol. All alcohol has an Oxygen (O) and Hydrogen (H) molecule (thus the OH at the end of the term “ETOH.”) In other words, I’ve seen medical clinicians bet on the intoxication level of DUI’s dropped at the door.  So, I just presumed they wagered whether I would return, and if so, what condition.

Yet, I survived.

My physician eased through the door. A tall Ukrainian woman with a beautiful personality and general concern for her patients. I envied her – not from the aspect of pure beauty alone, but her ability to ease through doors. She moved effortlessly, glided past chairs and bed posts. Seamlessly pushed her coat aside, she sat in the chair next to me.

“I’m glad to see you.”

“Me too,” I replied with a smile.

“Well, any changes from the visit?” she queried.

“No,” I noted while briefly looking down.

“Meaning, you still feel like shit?” she smiled.

“Oh yeah,” I smiled back.

“Well, I got you an MRI appointment in this century,” she laughed. “Either someone found another MRI facility or (winking silently), they no longer require one. Thus, they slipped your name in for the end of April.”

“You mean, April 2019?”

“Yeah.”

“Wow. I feel special.”

“Whatever happened, I think you’ve stabilized. But remember, you’ve been diagnosed as a walking time bomb. So, don’t do anything stupid until we get some better ‘Art Work (imaging photos).’”

“So, no scaling cliffs, paragliding or alligator wrestling.”

“Hmm,” rolling her eyes, “alligator wrestling is ok.” A brief pause. “I will do the best I can for you. We all will.”

A brief tear of honesty dribbled the length of my cheek. “Dang dry eye,” brushing it aside.

“A nursing aid will come in and get you out of here, with a request to draw some blood and get you back in next week.”

“See if you can find my odds for next week. Maybe I’ll buy a square.”

She laughed, “Be nice to her.”

The nursing entered with a cart. I contained my paperwork, one needle and vial.

“Ok.” She started. “Which arm?”

“For what?”

“For your Zoster (shingles) vaccine.”

“What for?”

“Our computer says you need the vaccine.”

“Well, I find it humorous, that I could die at any moment while as computer simultaneously says I need a vaccine.”

“At least you won’t die from Zoster.”

“You’re teasing right?”

“Nope. You’re not leaving until you get this vaccine.”

“Frriiiscncddfkw, ffrrrummmp, frump,” I mumbled.

“Oh,” and the computer says your BMI is too high. You need to get some exercise.”

“I can barely walk 60 yards without pain now. Can I take up jogging?”

Realizing the unforced error, “Sorry, just reading the printout.”

“Frriiiscncddfkw, ffrrrummmp, frump,” I mumbled.

Just prior to walking out, the receptionist yelled.

“Hey. You’re at 93–1.”

Smiling back, “I’ll take a square.”

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