Monday, January 2, 2017

Let's go Buffalo?

The Buffalo Bills' 2016 season ended yesterday with another embarrassing loss. They finished 7-9, and for the 17th consecutive season missed the playoffs. It's also their 21st season without a playoff win. The Bills currently possess the longest playoff drought in all of American sports. Including MLS, that's 133 teams.

They have finished the session with 6 to 8 wins 13 times during the drought. That's not nearly good enough to get in the playoffs, but it's also not bad enough to obtain a high draft pick for the desperately needed franchise quarterback. It's the worst kind of mediocrity.

The Bills will now be looking for a new coach and quarterback in the offseason. Their drafting has been consistently terrible, yet they still retained their GM Doug Whaley. Also not losing their job is team president Russ Brandon, who happens to be a former team GM. By MANY accounts Brandon still is GM in effect, or at very least meddles in football operations on a daily basis.

Possibly more disheartening is that Russ Brandon is now also the team president of the Buffalo Sabres. On the day the Bills' season ended the Sabres sat in last place in their division, and are charging hard for a 6th consecutive season without a playoff appearance.

In 2000, when they Bills had made the playoffs, but lost in their first playoff game for the second consecutive season, their president and GM John Butler was kicked to the curb. Yet for some reason Russ Brandon has lasted nearly 20 years with the Bills. He has been there in some capacity during every year of the playoff drought and even seen promotions despite continued failures.

Ultimately the blame now lies with Kim and Terry Pegula. Their honeymoon with both teams is long over. It hurts to say it. They seem like very nice people, and are probably doing their best. They may have saved the Bills from relocation, but for what? At this point being a Buffalo sports fan is an exercise in self flagellation. Until a complete firing of the entire executive staff of the Bills is administered by the Pegulas and a new staff composed of football people is hired, I will expect no change. Fans should stop giving them their cash and demand change immediately.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cancer Part 1

About a year or so ago I started to notice a pain under the fingernail on my right middle finger. At first I thought it was a sliver under the nail. It bothered me, but only occasionally. A few year ago I definitely had a sliver under that same nail. So this seemed like it either happened again, or the sliver from last time was still there and coming back to bother me.

Fast forward a few months and the pain under the nail was now a bump under the skin at the very tip of my finger, close to the nail. I again thought it was the sliver, now being pushed out of my skin. The pain was worse, but only when I hit the very spot on something.

A few months went by and now the skin on the tip of my finger changed color. The skin changed from the normal, semi transparent color, to a more off-white opaque color. Now I was more concerned, as this obviously was not a sliver.

In May 2016 I went to a dermatologist. The growth on my finger was really starting to get painful. The slightest touch could send a jolt up my hand. When I called for the appointment the doctor I saw last time, for something else, did not have any available appointments for over a month, so I booked an appointment with her physicians assistant. 

May 5th I met with the dermatologist and her physicians assistant. Each of them looked at the growth and agreed it was a wart. I was only a little surprised. I've had warts on my feet before, and this did not look like a wart to me. But I never really challenged the diagnosis. They were the doctors, and what did I know?

The physicians assistant froze the growth with liquid nitrogen. She told me to wait a week and treat it with Compound W wart remover. I did, and did. I had a follow up appointment scheduled in one month just in case the wart persisted. 

On June 8th the growth was still there. The physicians assistant was surprised to see me back, but said it's common for warts to be stubborn, especially in hard to treat places, like under a fingernail. She treated it with nitrogen again and gave me the same directions, wait a week and treat it with Compound W. We scheduled another follow up, just in case.

July 7th I returned to the office, we finally seemed to be making headway. The growth was still there, but much smaller. The physicians assistant froze the small spot that was left and gave me the same instructions, wait a week and treat it with Compound W. We scheduled a follow up for August, but she seemed confident we wouldn't need it.

I waited the week, but before 4 days had even passed the growth was as big as ever. In hindsight I remember thinking that even though the growth was small on the surface, I could feel a large lump underneath. I kicked myself for not telling her at the last appointment. I think this is the month I hugged my wife and gasped in pain when my finger touched a fold in her shirt.

In August our family was getting ready to travel to London, England and the growth was really bothering me. My next appointment was weeks later and I was dreading traveling with my finger in that shape. I called the office but was told there was no way they could see me before we left. So the trip to London was spent pasting Compound W on my finger every night, and keeping it covered with a bandage at all times. The smallest bump was excruciating. But generally speaking, it was a minor annoyance.

I returned to the office after the trip, August 23rd, really frustrated. I was so tired of this ordeal. I wanted the physicians assistant to try something new. Clearly freezing and Compound W was not working. I wanted her to burn or cut it out. She wanted to give it one more try. I agreed, but asked her to make sure she froze it completely and deep. I definitely mentioned that I felt it deep under the skin. I said "I don't care if you have to freeze the entire tip of my finger, I want this thing gone.“

She froze it more than any prior visit. My hand entire hand hurt for an hour after the appointment. I began to wait the week before treating it with Compound W. Each previous time the growth hardened and turned a light brown color. It either peeled off or was absorbed into my skin. This time a large scab developed. At the end of the week the scab partially peeled off around the edges. In the center though it didn't seem to be healing. It wasn't drying up the way scabs usually do. Eventually it opened up in the center and started oozing blood. But when it did, it wouldn't clot the way I'm used to. It would just ooze blood until I covered it.

It would bleed anytime I changed the bandage, or banged it on anything, which I did 10 times a day. At work I would shift the car into drive and clip the radio receiver. I would smash it doing yard work, or just about anything else. Eventually it began to morph from an open scab into a bloody growth. My wife recognized it immediately as granulation tissue, or a granuloma.

When I returned to the dermatologist on September 20th, she confirmed what my wife suspected, it was a granuloma. She seemed to genuinely feel bad about the diagnosis and my ordeal. She advised me that unfortunately she could not treat it. She referred me to a hand surgeon.

I saw the hand surgeon, again a physicians assistant, a few days later. He confirmed the diagnosis of a granuloma, but would not perform any procedures in his office, as I begged him to do. He treated the growth with silver nitrate sticks. He gave me a week's supply and told me to come back. 

The silver nitrate sticks turned the tip of my finger black and burned the granuloma. After a week my finger looked like charcoal. My mother was horrified by it when I showed her one morning. I went back to the hand surgeon on September 29th. He said the granuloma was pretty much gone,  but they can come back. Also it looked like the silver nitrate was burning down into the wart tissue. He scheduled me for surgery the following week to remove the entire thing.

I was elated that the ordeal finally seemed to be ending. On October 4th I went into the Buffalo Surgery Center where I met the hand surgeon for the first time, about 15 minutes before surgery. He explained that he was going to remove the main growth, which they would send for biopsy, just in case. He would then scrape out the rest of the wart tissue. I could expect a stitch and not too much pain.

They surgery was fairly quick. I was awake, under a local anesthetic. He informed me when he removed the biopsy portion, and moved onto scraping out the rest. After a bit he said he was scraping the bone, which horrified me. I almost passed out and a nurse came over to try to keep me awake. In the end the doctor removed over a centimeter of tissue from the tip of my finger and had to use three stitches to close it up. 

I had a large bandage on my finger for two days. It was uncomfortable, but not too painful. Motrin at night was more than enough. When I took the bandage off for the first time I was pretty shocked at the appearance of my finger. The tip was flat and had 3 stitches running side by side, and through the nail. The stitches were disolvable. The doctor said he wanted to see me in 10 days, but I hadn't yet scheduled the follow up. 

On Monday October 10th, Columbus Day, I got an automated call from the the hand surgeon reminding me of an appointment for Friday October 14th. I didn't remember making this appointment, and still think I never did. On Tuesday I called back to reschedule the appointment for Thursday afternoon, a non-work day. It was scheduled for 3:30 p.m., after I pick my daughter up from school. But as the receptionist said "bring your daughter. It'll only take 10 minutes." 

I brought her in and we waited longer in the waiting room, and then in the examination room, than I did in any of my previous appointments, including the surgery. Again the physicians assistant entered. We talked while my daughter sat next to me, playing on my phone. He looked at the incision, which was in decent shape. The stitches had all come untied and I snipped them at the nail and skin with nail clippers. He poked and prodded it for a minute while I asked him how it would fill out and return to its previous appearance. He said it most likely would.

Then he rolled his stool over to the computer screen and said "I want to show you something." When I came close his whispered "I didn't want to say it out loud with your daughter in the room." With his right hand he was pointing at the screen which displayed my biopsy results. Just above his finger were the words "papilary digital eccrine adenocarcinoma."

I was stunned. I said "is that what I think it is?" He said "yeah, I'm sorry." My hand went up to my face and I sat down on the examination table. I asked "what do we do now?" and he said something about consulting with the doctor. I asked "do I need to see an oncologist?" And he said "I don't know. I've never heard of this cancer. I was just reading up on it for 5 minutes before I came in here to talk to you."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Snow-holes

I feel like I'm having the opposite of an old man, get-off-my-lawn moment. It's a civic pride, stop-being-an-asshole thing.

I can't stand people who push the snow from their driveways into the street. It is so blatantly disrespectful to their neighbors. Half of the streets in South Buffalo right now are one lane roads. Plow crews are busy and people are trying to get to work and school, but some are too lazy to turn the nozzle on their snow blowers to the side so it stacks on the lawn. The selfish and petty nature of some people is astounding. It should not surprise or disappoint me but I guess it conflicts with my nature so much it probably always will.


It's like the people at my daughter's school who pull in the driveway to pick up and drop off. Paperwork went home at the beginning of the year saying do not pull in the driveway. There are kids walking through and buses trying to get in and out in a timely manner. And trying to get a spot on the street can be a pain in the ass. There are hundreds of kids all trying to get in the school at the same time. Add together all the cars and buses, plus normal morning traffic and the front of the school is chaos. Now, there are handicapped spaces in the lot. So before I continue this rant, I'm perfectly ok with people utilizing the handicapped spaces. What makes me wish death upon them is when its just a mom or dad in a hurry that don't feel like looking for a space in the street, or walking a city block to drop their kids off. And worse are the people who do it everyday.

In order to strike a sense of common decency in people it requires someone to speak up. And doing so is usually met with "Mind your own business asshole!" You're right, it's not my business, IT'S EVERYBODY'S BUSINESS! Be a neighbor. Participate in this society!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My 25 Most-Listened-To Songs

Since I started using Google play music about a year ago these are my top 25 most listened to songs:

1. A Living, Breathing Piece of Defecating Meat - Cattle Decapitation
2. Dead Set on Suicide - Cattle Decapitation
3. Blodtørost - Kvelertak
4. The Firat Commandment of the Luminaries - The Ocean
5. Firmament - The Ocean
6. Mjød - Kvelertak
7. Mesopelagic: Into the Uncanny - The Ocean
8. Forced Gender Reassignment - Cattle Decapitation
9. Offernatt - Kvelertak
10. Sightless Wisdom - Arsis
11. Killing Birds with Stones - Intronaut
12. The Welding - Intronaut
13. Fossegrim - Kvelertak
14. Your Disposal - Cattle Decapitation
15. Kingdom of Tyrants - Cattle Decapitation
16. The Axe - Gojira
17. Bathyalpelagic I: Impasses - The Ocean
18. Behold (God I Am) - Allaegon
19. Steps - Intronaut
20. Milk Leg - Intronaut
21. Ulvetid - Kvelertak
22. Sultans of Satan - Kvelertak
23. Swallowed by the Earth - The Ocean
24. Metaphysics of the Hangman - The Ocean
25. Rumbrave - Murder by Death

I find the list interesting, The Ocean and Cattle Decap were bands I discovered shortly after using the app. I'm confident saying that a few years ago not one band, with the exception of Gojira, would have appeared on this list. I wish there was a way to both keep the tally running and reset it so I could do a similar list next year while also maintaining an all time play count.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Black and White World

This morning on our way to school Audrey asked me if I knew what show was on on Mondays. I guessed three or four times and gave up. She told me she didn't remember the name. So I said give me hints. These are the hints:

-He lived in a black and white world.
-He had brown skin.
-He died from a killing thing.
-He won a medal for helping people.

So I guessed Martin Luther King Jr. YEAH! That's it. She said they watch a show about him every Monday.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Right-To-Work Fallacy

When reading up on the Taft-Hartley act and its creation of the Right-to-work state I began to wonder, where do the states that are right-to-work fall in a list of the poverty rate? I also wanted to know where high union membership states fell on the poverty list.  

Before you continue reading I will say I'm not mathematician or statistician so I tried to keep the numbers simple. I know numbers can be picked and choosed to match one's argument but I tried to keep it to within the scope of the above question. 

There are 24 right-to-work states today. 15 are in the bottom half of states by poverty rate. Even worse, in the bottom 11 states by poverty rate, 9 are RTW. Of the bottom 10 states by poverty rate, only West Virginia and New Mexico are not RTW states, but are 18 and 35 in union membership respectively. 5 states have right-to-work in their state constitution, 4 of them are in the bottom 10 by poverty rate.  The average place on the poverty list for a RTW state is 30.85.

Now I acknowledge this isn't a perfect argument. Michigan just joined the RTW list in 2012, so the true effects of RTW haven't set in yet. 3 of the top 10 states by union membership are in the bottom 25 by poverty rate. Not one top 10 union membership states are in the bottom 10 for poverty rate. The average place on the poverty list for a top 10 union state is 18.5

By contrast the lowest 10 states by union membership have 5 states in the bottom 10 for poverty rate and are an average 33.8 on the poverty list. 

Right to Work States
StateNumber by Poverty %Bottom 10 Union %?Poverty %
Utah7419.2
Virginia8479.2
Nebraska109.5
Idaho129.9
Nevada1710.6
Wyoming1810.6
Florida*1911.1
North Dakota2011.2
Iowa2211.3
South Dakota264411.8
Michigan2712
Kansas3112.5
Indiana3212.6
North Carolina345013.2
Gerogia374914.4
Tennessee404215
South Carolina414815
Arizona*4215.2
Oklahoma*4415.6
Arkansas*4515.9
Texas464616.2
Alabama4716.7
Louisiana494518.3
Mississippi*504320.1
 Average30.5813.2    
*Constitutional Amendment for Right-to-Work                                                            Poverty rate is 0.6% above national average.
Lowest 10 States in Union Membership
State# by union %# by poverty %Poverty rate
Utah4179.2
Tennessee424015.0
Mississippi435020.1
South Dakota442611.8
Louisiana454918.3
Texas464616.2
South Carolina474115.0
Virginia4889.2
Georiga493714.4
North Carolina503413.1
 Average33.814.2%
Poverty rate is 1.6% above national average.

Top 10 States in Union Membership
State# by union %# by poverty %Poverty rate
New York13814.5
Hawaii258.6
Alaska31310.0
Washington41510.2
Michigan52712.0
California63513.2
New Jersey726.8
Connecticut899.7
Nevada91710.6
Illinois102411.5
Average18.510.7%
Poverty rate is 1.9 % below the national average.

References
“Right to Work Law” Retrieved on November 24, 2013 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-to-work_law (November 20, 2013)
“Union Affiliation by US State” Retrieved on November 24, 2013 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_affiliation_by_U.S._state (June 20, 2013)
“List of US States by Poverty Rate” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_poverty_rate (July 12, 2013) 

Monday, October 21, 2013

School

I started this night very stressed about my workload for school. I was beginning to think that taking 4 classes was WAY too much. After a few hours of hard work, I handed a paper in and reviewed my course schedules. I'm feeling much more confident in my ability to handle this. It still won't be easy, but I'm feeling better now. I just need to keep at it and I'll get through this.