Scott's Soapbox

Monday, November 28, 2005


I had a wonderful trip home to see the family this year. This was special for a number of reasons- our first holiday in my parents' new house (love it), my grandmother was able to join us (love her), and my cousin came with his two daughters (love them)! The girls are 5 and 6, and two little bundles of joy and energy. I was a little nervous, never having spent so much time around children. But it was a blast- although a little exhausting. After watching The Tigger Movie, The Little Mermaid (twice!), Cindarella, Daddy Day Care, Lilo and Stitch, playing with Play-doh, helping out at art, putting on coats, shoes ("No, that's the wrong foot again!") and hats, being chased, tagged, pelted with snowballs, and climbed on I was worn out. But they are good kids, and it was a really great experience for me. We were sorry to miss the girls' mother, who was going to drive down seperately, but stayed in Ohio dodging snowflakes.

I also did a lot of hiking at Catoctin National Park, which is only a few minutes from my parents new house. Beautiful, rocky, country, and exactly what I am searching for when I go for a walk. You can see the map here: I went straight up from the Visitor's Center and turned right to Thurmont Vista. Then I turned around to Blue Ridge Scenic Overlook (tough hiking here uphill on snow-covered leaves and rocks!) and down through Hog Rock to the falls. From there headed back along the Falls Nature Trail, which goes right along the road. It was a good hike, strenous at times, but a nice peaceful walk. I saw hardly anyone until I got to the Hog Rock area, which is popular due to both its exceptional view and proximity to parking alike. There were families, picnickers, dog-walkers and all once I got there. A little cold for a picnic, I thought beneath my three layers! As I was walking, I reflected on the past.

I'm sure I was retracing my steps of years ago- walking along with my father and uncle, my beloved border terrier, Minki, leading us on. I cannot express how much I miss him.

If you zoom in (click), you can see his Christmas bell!

The four of us spent many days backpacking, rockclimbing, exploring together and together these form some of the strongest memories of my childhood. This is where my love of the outdoors was nutured by my family, and I find myself thinking of my own future children- how I want to take them out as well to experience all the beauty and serenity nature has to offer. The feeling of companionship within our group, the safe, sheltered, wonder one has as a child all grew in me in these woods, and I find it again each time on walk within them.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The New NHL

Quick Hits:

New Rules-

No 2-line pass
Good (More breakaways)
Tag-Up Offsides
Never Notice (But good as players get used to it)
Smaller goalie equipment
Good (Looks normal again)
Goalies restricted where they can lay the puck
Dumb (Why penalize those who have the skill to do it?)
Mixed (It's not hockey, but the fans love it)
Interference Penalty Crackdown
Mixed (Very inconsistent, but the players WILL adjust!)

Around the League-

Columbus- so, so bad. No heart, no courage, no effort, no talent. What a job Doug Maclean has done here as GM. Not only are they bad now, but the future is not even bright. At some point last year, they should have just surrendered and let the kids play. As it stands, they have nothing. There are maybe 4,5 guys on the roster with true NHL talent, and the rest do not seem to want to work hard. They lost 2 games (both at home) back to back against Detroit by a combined score of 12-2. The response? An off-ice workout session at the crack of dawn - 10:30 in the morning! That's it? That's the punishment? Not exactly old-time hockey. Awful.

Anaheim - Nice to see Teemu Selanne among the league leaders again- couldn't happen to a nicer guy- ask any kid he's ever visited in the hospital. Scott Niedermayer makes more small brilliant plays that the casual fan wouldn't notice than anyone besides Nicky Lidstrom.

Ottawa - They look like world-beaters right now, but their playoff hopes are only as strong as Dominik Hasek's 40-year old body. If he is healthy, both they and Philadelphia are better than anything coming out of the West.

The Rookies -
Sidney Crosby's vision is just amazing. Like no one since Gretzky. He lit up the junior ranks and could have done more with teammates who can see the game as well as he does. I remember watching him last year in the World Juniors and just being amazed.

Alexander Ovechkin might be the most exciting player in the league. Not someday, but right now! My hometown Caps may not have much to see this season, but this kid alone is worth buying a ticket. Him flying in on a breakaway wearing number 8 reminds me of nobody more than of the aforementioned Teemu Selanne. Same fake wrist shot with shoulder shake move- then to the backhand or high glove. It's uncanny when you watch them. Selanne scored 76 his first year, Ovechkin will top 50 with a much worst supporting cast and win rookie of the year thanks to his amazing highlight-reel goals.

Heart-related News Roundup

First, a late-breaking story from the NHL. Jiri Fischer of the Detroit Red Wings collapsed tonight on the bench during a game. He had been previously diagnosed with a heart condition back in 2002, but cleared to play and had been symptom free since. The players were visibly shaken, and some of the guys were trying to comfort his fiancee, who was at the game. All agreed to cancel the game and make it up later- smart move. They say it looks like he will be ok- thoughts and prayers from here and from the whole hockey community!
UPDATE: See ESPNs video coverage here: required free download.

My father sent me a article from US News and World Report about atriall fibrillation- the heart condition I suffer from. The one expert they quote in the whole piece? My doctor, Patrick Tchou at The Cleveland Clinic. Here's the section:

Success comes 50 to 80 percent of the time, more so with a second try. The downside is that it's a bear to do and demands lots of experience and finesse, confining it to a limited number of centers. Patrick Tchou, a heart specialist at the Cleveland Clinic (my old stomping ground) who performs hundreds of these procedures a year on patients with severe symptoms, says technology is in the works to make ablation an easier and more reliable option for rate and rhythm control.

In my case, it was a success rate of 100% (although I did need one more cardioversion). I cannot express my gratitude enough towards Dr. Tchou and the fine staff in Cleveland- I was treated like royalty. Everyone from the minute you arrive seems to be a cut above other hospitals, and the facilities are just first class. I am so blessed to have found my way into their care, and so lucky that the world's best heart hospital happens to be just a couple hours up the road from me! Dr. Tchou in particular just radiates an aura of confidence and competence. He is so obviously incredibly smart, but does not seem aloof or "brainy." Like a regular guy who just happens to be really really really smart.

I could not recommend him, or the clinic, any more highly. Thank you all!

"Recent Pageload Activity"

Someone found one of my posts based upon the following Google search:

usc cheerleader uniform, sex.

My story was about a member of the Cleveland Indians who got shot accidentally on the team bus who happened to be wearing a cheerleader's uniform as a form of hazing. I bet the guy who found my blog was a little disappointed...sorry buddy. Most other results from the search above yield slightly different content.