Friday, October 31, 2008


I watched a show called Kitchen Nightmares last night.
It is the guy from Hell's Kitchen and he has a reality show. He goes into a failing restaurant and tries to fix it up.
Now you have a world renown chef going into a failing mom and pop restaurant and trying to fix the restaurants many ills in five days.
This particular BBQ joint had three owners. A managing partner and a husband and wife "silent" partners.
The restaurant sucks and it is losing money so everyone starts to crucify the managing partner. He starts to lose more money so he starts to skimp on the quality of the cheese. Then the quality of the potatoes, then the quality of the carpet. Then the next thing you know nothing in this place is quality.
I mean this is a place with three dudes as "cooks". They certainly are not chefs. They can flip a burger and throw fries in the deep fryer but they don't know how to "cook".
So he starts in on the poor cooks.
He tells them how to do it right in the afternoon and says we are going to try the new menu and the new attitude TONIGHT.
Then they are suppose to execute things that he has learned in a lifetime of restaurant consultation in one night.
The night is seizure inducing chaos. He is a total spaz but somehow the restaurant makes it through the night. At the end of the night (day five) he says good job, gives them a pep talk and leaves.
WOW. What a crazy show. I think I will DVR it.
Have you seen it?

One thing I do envy is the ability for a person to say it like it is. I am this "no confrontation at any cost" kind of guy.
I envy someones ability to say what he or she is thinking. I know in my heart that things will be okay and probably better if I just tell people what I expect. But that may lead to confrontation and that is not okay.
I am working on it but when I see someone laying into someone it just makes me uncomfortable. Now maybe the dude deserved it and it will make him a better employee but just watching someone else being forceful makes me uncomfortable.
Crazy...I know.

The marathon...
Where was I?
I think I was telling you about the beginning of the marathon. I started with two of my friends and by the second mile they were gone, they wanted to get out of the they bolted. I know that when you are running with 25,000 people there is always going to be crowds. I was using too much energy trying to keep up with them, so I let them go. Okay so here I am 24.2 miles from the finish line and alone.
I was freaking out. Am I just going to run for 4 more hours by myself? Will I be able to do it? Am I going to totally blow my time?
So I just started to run. During my training I run for two miles and then walk for a minute or two. You know for me running is a social event. If there was a lot of people at the water stop I would talk and the next thing you know it is 3-4 minutes later.
So during the marathon I didn't stop. I don't know why I didn't stop. I don't know if I was mad about my "friends" leaving me or I was not very tired or I was just out of sorts.
At mile 10 I started to walk for the first time. I got some water and walked. I used this time to have a GOO and drink without choking.
Remember last week I was telling you how excited I was about seeing all the military vehicles and all the monuments and memorials. Well I didn't see any of it. First there wasn't any Hummers or anything like that along the way. But the things that were there, like the Washington Monument, I didn't even see. I did see the Capital Building but that was at mile 18 and I didn't give a sh#$$!#%&t about it.
All I cared about was the looking for the next mile marker.
So things were going pretty good.
One thing that was golden for me was my shirt. I wrote my name in big letters on the front of my shirt. JOHN
So everyone was yelling at me, "Go John", " Way to go John", "Looking great John".
It was awesome. So some of the other runners would talk to me, "So you are JOHN."
Then we would get to talking. And if they talked to me I would hang with them for as long as I could.
So I finished the half mile and I couldn't tell how I felt. But I did feel okay.
I knew the clock time was 2:07. I was a little disappointed. But I didn't know how far from my chip time was from the clock time. It turned out it took me 7 minutes to get to the start line after then gun.
So it took me exactly 2 hours to do the first 13.1. This is pretty good.
So I was thinking 2:03 which isn't bad but I was not thinking very clearly. I just wanted to hang on.
But according to the clock I picked up speed. I was as low as 9:11 pace. This is pretty fast by my standards. But the other guys are usually my pace cars. They both wear GPS watches. They have the time, your pace, elevation on this watch. During our training runs they would always be the watchers of the pace.
Mile 17 I saw my family for the first time. It was cool. Everyone was so excited. But my daughter was like, "Ewh, don't touch me, you are disgusting."
They ran across the Mall and I ran around it and I saw them again at mile 19.
I was getting close. My wife told me that Rakesh was about 10 minutes ahead of me and Chris was about 5 minutes ahead...the bastards.
So I made it to about 21 miles before I hit the wall. Okay maybe the wall hit me.
I was feeling good mind and lungs but my legs started to go. I mean my calves were starting to cramp up. I would stop a minute and stretch and I could go a half mile or so before they froze up again. At the 21 mile mark I was on a 3:58 pace.
I would look down and I could see every muscle in my calves tight. This was not good.
At mile 22 the course bended on itself. I saw Rakesh and Chris. I was reeling them in.
But when I was running and I could see the other runners behind me I saw the 4:15 balloon. This means if this person holding this balloon catches me...I am pooping out.
I ran the next 4 miles willing myself NOT to be caught by the 4:15 balloon. I was hurting so bad. My legs were in full on rejection mode. They were like rocks. I sometimes run about 10 strides before I couldn't again. I was willing myself to continue. I kept looking back for that balloon. I was convinced she was going to catch me. The next couple of miles were a blur of pain. But next thing I know I saw 25 miles. I only had 5 laps around a track to go. But I might have to crawl to get there but I was going to get there. Even if I had to beat up the woman with the 4:15 balloons.
I saw the 26 mile sign. I am cussing at my legs at this point.
The last .2 miles are straight up a hill. It was a cruel joke. I pushed it. I did it.
My friends were still at the finish line. We all finished 4 minutes of each other. Chris 4:07, Rakesh 4:08 and me 4:11.
I was so happy it was over. I was such a mess.
I didn't cry this time but a mess none the less.
We got some pictures next to the Iwo Jima Memorial and walked to our families.
What a mess of people. It was crazy.
Then I started to realize that I had finished and I cut 19 minutes off my time. I started to process the race.
Wow. What a blessing. A beautiful day, a great time, I got to be with my friends and family.
It doesn't get any better than this.

I have to go
First flag football practice today. I am only the assistant coach this year.
I will be telling you more as the weeks go on.
Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Marathon Man

4 hours and 11 minutes.

There it is.
I don't know how I am suppose to feel about this.
My last marathon I finished in 4 hours 30 minutes. So I shaved 19 minutes off my PR (this is runners lingo for personal record).
But at mile 21 I was on a 3:58 pace. That means I lost 13 mintutes in the last 5 miles.
They say that there are three races in a marathon...the first ten, the second ten and then the last six. I believe them now.

Wait, wait, wait...let me tell you everything else and I will get back to the marathon.

Friday afternoon we packed up the family truckster and set off to our nations capital.
On this ride up it rained the entire time. It wasn't this rain that we are use to in Florida, it was this mist. The kind of mist that doesn't wipe away very easily. I drove the whole way to Washington with my teeth clenched.
We stopped in Georgia to eat dinner at Crackle Barrel. Then we drove until I couldn't drive anymore. We stopped in Fayetteville, NC. This was an eight hour leg of a 13 hour trip.
We stayed at a Hampton Inn from 1am to 8am. Took advantage of the free breakfast and left.
The kids tried to do their homework but it is hard to do 4th grade math when your sister has her headphones on and is humming. Or when your little brother is watching a movie on the portable DVD player.
The kids were pretty good. We try not to have TV or movies the whole time. I mean when I was a kid...oh, here it comes...we took many a trip and played many of car games.
Well, as much as I tried to recreate the golden years, it wasn't going to happen. Well at least not the way I remember.
I got alot of this, "This game is stupid!!" or "I hate this game". And I thought about it a second and come to think about it...I hated that stupid game too.
I am exaggerating but you get my drift.
They got along most of the time. We are in pretty close quarters so I tried to grant them some grace. You want to kill them when they start with the, "stop touching me!!" or "give me back my toy" or my all time favorite, "stop looking at me." This went as far as, "Mom, Luke is looking at me funny."
Remember the glory days of "no seatbelt" laws. It was like anarchy in the back of the custom van. Jumping from seat to seat, wrestling, throwing stuff. How did my parents do it?

We arrived in D.C. at about 2pm on Saturday. DC is pretty spread out and it like any major city in the US, it is hard to drive in. Luckily we brought our GPS. It saved our lives a number of times. I have two running buddies that were also coming up for the race and we planned to meet up.
We were the only one with a car. So when we got to DC we picked up one dude and his wife at their downtown hotel and headed over to the EXPO. The expo is where all the runners pick up there packet. The packet has your number, a free T-shirt and some other knick knacks. But in the expo this is where the marathon people make some money. You have 30,000 runners and there families in one place. There were about 75 booths all selling some kind of running paraphinalia. My kids loved it. They were giving away a lot of free stuff.
From the expo we made reservations at an Italian know CARB LOADING.
We were home by 9pm.
I put out all my stuff for the next morning. It was suppose to be 50 degrees so before we left my wife bought me a "throw away" long sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt.
I took my Immonium (I took two for good don't want to run while you are running, if you know what I mean) and went to bed.
I had a wake up call at 5:45am because the race time was 8am. We met at the shuttle bus stop that took us to the start line at 6:15. Imagine 30,000 people emerging at one place. There are buses, the metro, taxis. It was organized chaos.
The wating area for the start line is this huge parking lot full of port-o-jons...I mean hundreds of them. So you have tons of people hanging out...some in line at the bathroom, some people warming up, some people rubbing vaseline on their feet and other parts of their body getting ready to go.
There is a concert going on and military planes flying over.
Well it was time to move to the start line. Wow was this crazy. You have to go to the corral of the time you desire to run. The faster times up front so you don't have to pass the slower runners.
There were 3 of us. It was great being with those guys. We trained together and now we get to run together. You know running and talking is so much easier than just running.
So the race started. Now picture this. There is a race start time and a chip time. Every runner has a chip that they put in their shoe. So you have a race time and a chip time. When the gun goes off it starts the race time and when my foot crosses the start line is when my chip time starts. It took us close to 7 minutes to get to the start line. That is a long time.
Oh, remember when I was saying how great it is to run with buddies. As soon as the race started my buddies took off. They were weaving in and out of traffic. It was like a game. I was keeping up but after about 2 miles of this game I realized I was spending a lot of energy trying to play this ridiculous game. I thought we would run together but they thought going out like a bat out of hell was more important.
So I ran the last 24.2 miles by myself. Turns out we all finished within 4 minutes of each other.

You know what...I am going to have to finish here.
I have so much more to tell you but it is getting pretty long.
Can't wait to tell you the rest on Friday.
Glad to be back, j.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The friday before the marathon

Oh my is Friday. That means in two days I will be running 26.2 miles through Washington D.C.
Wow, doesn't that sound exciting?

I can't tell you how excited I am. I am excited because I can run 26.2 miles. I mean how blessed do you have to be just to be able to do this. Even if my body will not hold up for the hole thing, I still feel lucky to have the ability to run. Other than my foot, which is feeling much better (thanks for asking) I haven't had any real issues with my body holding up.
You know how many people I talk to and they say, "Yeah, I use to run but since my knee operation, I can't anymore". So far so good with this old bod.

And then on top of this I get to run through Washington D.C.
I heard they do it up real nice there. Lots of military presence, lots of Hummers and military vehicles lining the streets. I heard this week there are snipers on top of the buildings because there is so many military men running in the race. Guns are cool.
I get to run through all the monuments, all the memorials, and all the government buildings...all the things that remind me what makes this country great.
We run by the Capital building and the Pentagon. I feel like a kid sometimes.

The run will remind me of all the poop that is going on in the world and our role in it.
I think of the men and woman that are fighting, and have fought, for our freedom. When I am running I want to think of the men and woman fighting for others freedom.
I have made a shirt with all people I know in the armed forces on the back, thanking them for there service.

Here is my itinerary...
I will get there sometime Saturday afternoon. We are staying at a Marriott a couple of blocks from the start line. We are only going to stay there only one night.
When I get there on Saturday afternoon I will pick up my packet. This packet will have my number and a couple of give aways in it. It will tell you what corral you are in.
They have corrals set up by your proposed finish time (they want all the runners that run the same speed starting together). You can probably see how trying to start 30,000 runners at the same time could be tough. In my last marathon I ran for almost 4 minutes before I reached the start line.
Back to the packet always pick up your stuff at the EXPO center. This is where there are a bunch of booths for PowerBar and Nike shoes, and other running apparel.
After the Expo, a bunch of us from the running group are meeting up for a carb filled dinner, at a local Italian place.

We are planning to meet Sunday morning before the race and stick together during the run as long as all of us are able.
After the race my family and I are planning on staying with some friends 20 miles outside of the city. So we will have a couple days to show the kids all around the city. The Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, The Smithsonian, the Capital Building. My son is so excited about seeing the Spy Museum.
Speaking of my son...he got to pitch in a game the other night. He struck out three kids. He was beaming. When he walked in the house we all started clapping. It was great. Oh, yeah and he didn't strike out. I am sure it was my awesome parenting. YEAH, RIGHT!
Lots to do in two days. Then we will start the drive home about 4am on Wednesday.

So I have to say there probably will not be a blog on Monday and most likely not on Wednesday either.
Does anyone want to have a go at this?
Does anyone want to get on their soapbox?
I could give you more YouTube videos to watch.?

Talk to you all later,
Have a great weekend.
Think of me on Sunday, race starts at 8am. Supposed to be low of 50 degrees and a high of 61.
I told you I haven't run in less that 73 yet this year.
I let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Luke, I am your father (con't)

Not much going on.
Worst Week was funny.
How I Met Your the end of the show I said out loud, "that is too much drama for a comedy."
House was good, but Hilda threatened to never watch the show again. It is getting really racy.
We will see.
Chuck is very good and if you haven't seen Life yet...give it a try.

I watched about 40 minutes of The Bank Job and there was lots of nudity and other bad stuff, so my got up and said, "I can't watch this anymore". I said, "Honey we haven't even gotten into the meat of the movie, come on."
But she was already gone. So I stopped. I will finish it later. I am okay with violence and bad things but she is affected differently than I am. She said she can't sleep when that is the last thing she sees before bed.
Woman...can't figure them out.

I know you are going to say, "Men...can't figure them out." After this story.
I was telling you about my experience this Saturday at the baseball field. I was about to tell you about my failure as a father.
I have been really down on myself the last couple of days since "the incident". But I had a friend come up to me and make me feel a little better.
He told me he coaches his daughters under 10 soccer team. Saturday they lost 13-1.
He told me he was out of his mind.
His parents came to the game to watch their granddaughter play soccer and watch their son coach.
By the end of the game the wife had already left (yes, got in her car and drove away) because he was acting like such a fool.
He said he was yelling, "What are you doing?" for about an hour.
He said the assistant coach came up to him and told him to calm down and that when he yells at the girls, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" It is not constructive and they are not learning.
He told me his daughter got hit in the chest with the ball and was whimpering and asked to come out of the game.
He said he went ballistic, "What!?!" he screamed, "In my whole life I have never asked to come out of a game."
I am laughing just writing this because it is funny how stupid we act sometimes.
After the game his parents wouldn't talk to him and for sure his wife wasn't talking to him.

Speaking of stupid....
Okay so the baseball game was over. I forgot to tell you but his friend came to the game to watch. So after the game we were going to go to lunch. We drove two cars because we have to get to the game 45 minutes early.
So I was driving Luke and his friend to the restaurant.
Now his friend is a real talker so I had to ask him if I could have a minute.
I was trying so hard not to lose it. I started off by, "What is going on with you and the bat."
"I donknow."
"Well let me tell you what is going on. You are trying to walk aren't you?"
I am starting to lose it.
I said, "You swung at the first pitch and then you watched two absolute meat balls go right down the center of the plate."
"Now I come to your practices and I come to all your games and I don't come to watch you not try. (voice getting louder) I didn't come to watch him strike out. (voice getting louder) I didn't come to watch him not swing."
All this in front of his friend.
He started to cry (I am such a loser) and tell me that he knows I am watching and he feels my dissatisfaction with him.
This did not stop me.
That this was a league that he is suppose to get better. A league that he is suppose to swing. I told him I would rather him strike out swinging than walk.
I asked him why he had lost his confidence in his swing.
I really can't remember what else I said, but it went on for awhile.
It was an out of body experience.
He was crying, I was mad.

The problem I was having is that I was not mad at him.
I was mad at the whole thing.
I was mad that I don't know how to help him. I was mad that I know that he is struggling and I have no avenue to help.
I was mad that he is upset when he doesn't feel respected on the field but yet he doesn't want to work to get better.
I was mad I didn't know what the coach meant by the "he needs it" comment.
It was kind of a helpless anger kind of thing. I can't explain it.
It was boiling up.

But I took it out on him.
I keep treating him like his is 25.

This is the kid that plays crappy and is laughing with his friends 5 minutes later. The team has no idea what their record is. They don't know who is the good players or the bad players are.
But here I am yelling at my son in the car in front of his friend.
After we got out of the car, I knew I had screwed up.
I took him aside and told him I just wanted what was best for him.
He said, "He didn't want to talk about it anymore."
I agreed.
I walked in the restaurant and my wife said, "What did you do?"
How does she know? Woman, I swear they are psychic.

When I got home I called one of the assistant coaches.
I told him what I did and he told me he is having the same problem. He is having trouble controlling himself with his son.
But he also told me is that he would work with Luke.
It felt good to get this off my chest and ask for help.
That is what I should have done from the start.

Well there you have it. Failure 101. Class is dismissed.
I know what you are saying, "Men...I can't figure them out."

The next day in the parking lot of church, still feeling terrible, "I asked Luke to forgive me for being an idiot."
He said, "Of course dad, I have already forgotten about that."
Then he said, "You wanna throw the ball when we get home?"
I said, "I can 't think of anything else I would rather do."
I told you, I love this kid.

Have a great Wednesday,

ps I did also go up to Luke's friend and apologize for being a jerk to his friend.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Luke, I am your father

Go Rays. Wow, what an awesome series.
Just so you know I would love to go to the World Series so if anyone has access to tickets please let me know.
You can bet I am going to work all my angles, and you all are one of the angles.

The weather in Orlando is soooo nice lately. This is the weather we look forward to when we endure the heat of the summer. It was 75 and breezy almost all day yesterday. This morning there was a little nip in the air, so I shut all the air conditioner units and started opening the windows.
While I was opening them, I was saying to my 4 year old, "I am going to open the windows because it is so nice today."
He said, "Dad it is so nice everyday."
Isn't it nice to get a 4 year olds perspective on life.

I just finished watching Baby Mama. It was okay. There was some funny parts but just an average movie. With two budding SNL stars you would think it would be funnier.
I have The Bank Job here and plan to watch it today. Now that there is not a baseball game to keep me up til 1am.

I hope you all had a good weekend because mine was tough.
I had a moment this weekend that may haunt me (and Luke) for a long time.
Luke is 9 and I am realizing that these are the times he is going to remember. These are the times that are going to shape him.
I think about it often what are going to be the times in his childhood that he is going to remember. What events in time are we going to talk about at the Christmas table. What events is he going to remember when he is talking to his friends in college...
"Oh yeah, well my dad use to do this..."
When he is in therapy and he opens up about how his dad messed his whole life up.

Yeah, we had one of those weekends.

I told you about baseball and how three weeks ago Luke wanted to quit. Well since then I have been trying to "help" Luke get better. I have been subtly pointing out things that might get him recognized by the coach. I also would point out things that might look bad and that the coach might frown upon.
Baseball has been great for us. We go out everyday and throw the baseball. I think we both love it. It gives us some father son time. We talk about our days.
So there is some good things there.
But Saturday was the game.

It was a terrible game for the whole team.
We beat this team the first game of the season and we were far superior to them.
But in about 6 weeks it has become apparent this team has turned it around. They are now better than us.
Luke is usually pretty good at fielding but one slipped through his legs but everyone's fielding was particularly bad because this other team was hitting the ball very hard.
For the first time there were hits into the outfield. The outfielders who usually are picking there butts out there were shocked to see balls flying at them (and of course they didn't know what to do).
Our hitting was even worse. We had about 4 base runners the whole game and they beat us 13-1. And the reason it wasn't worse was because they have a run limit each inning.

Luke's hitting is getting worse.
Last year he was close to the best hitter on the team, so the kid could hit.
This year his confidence is gone.
The first two innings it is machine pitch and he does okay with this.
The last four innings it is kid pitch.
We have spoken after the game before and he admits that he is just looking for a walk. He knows the kids are not very accurate with their pitches so the likely hood of a walk is pretty good. I told him he is a good hitter so he should be ready when a good pitch comes.
But he still goes up there and looks for a walk.
So on Saturday he struck out during the machine pitch inning and got up again during kid pitch. He swung at the first pitch and missed. So then he sat there and watched meat ball pitches go down the middle of the plate.
I started to fume up inside. I want him to at least try. If he is going to fail at least give it his best shot. Not hoping for someone else to fail so he can succeed.
I started to pace. I started to think to myself, "I am so pissed right now, should I just get in the car and leave or what."
Okay I know it sounds stupid because as I am writing this I am thinking to myself, "you are such a dumbass."
If we can just have some mulligans in life, things would be so much easier.

But something happened first that got me going...when Luke was up the first time he stuck out but was unaware that he had three strikes. So he stayed at the plate. So they had to tell him that he struck out and leave the batters box. I thought that was funny so I yelled out, "Can he have four strikes."
But afterwards my wife said she hear the coach say, under his breath, "he could use it."
Now, I have told you before, I love this guy. He has a great attitude and he is really good with the kids. I don't know if he was also trying to be funny or didn't mean anything by it.
Or maybe he is giving up on Luke and to me that would be unacceptable.
But this is when I started to feel myself starting to lose it on the bleachers.

This is getting long so I am going to stop here. I know it is a cliff hanger but you are going to have to wait.
Trust me, Wednesday's blog is not going to be pretty. I was awful.
I am a bit ashamed but...I will tell you Wednesday.

See you then,

Friday, October 17, 2008

Baseball and more

It is Friday.
Yeah baby.

For me it has been a long week. I have been working hard this week.
Trying to put together a schedule at the beginning of the day wears on you.
It is not like before when you would come to work with a packed schedule and then an emergency would call and you would have to work them in.
Now the schedule is full but it didn't get that way until the day before and you never know who is going to come.
I mean I feel blessed that I am working and it has been pretty good but I am still stressed.

What up.
Gators have a bye week this week.

Nothing going on at home, just getting ready for our trip. 7 days until we leave to Washington D.C. The reason I chose this marathon is that the whole course is weaved around everything Washington. We start at the Pentagon and run through all the monuments and memorials.
We run through Arlington Cemetery and past the Capital building. We finish at the WWII memorial.
I will probably be very emotional when I finish. I don't know if you remember my "Marathon Blues" blog. It is my favorite blog. At my last marathon wanted to hug the woman giving me the medal, I was so emotional.
Imagine what this run is going to be like.
I am pretty patriotic kind of guy and get all vaklemp when I visit these kind of things.
As an aside, I am going to write the names of my patients that are in the military on the back of my shirt.
It is going to be great. I can't wait.

Okay today's topic.
I want to give you a mid season report on my 9 year olds experience (and mine).
Luke got into baseball because of his friend Eric. These two are great friends and Eric's family is a baseball family.
We particularly like baseball as a family because it is fun. Our community have awesome fields with good concessions and a decent playground for the other kids.
This is Lukes second season playing baseball. This season Luke moved up in leagues. So he is only one of two kids that have moved up.
So out of 12 kids on the team he is the second youngest. I would say ability wise he is about the lower middle.
The coaches are three past minor league players that now have kids. Needless to say, these three kids are real good (they are nine years old and they are probably better than me).
But the coaches are real good. They are fundamentally sound and they are fun.
Everyone plays and everyone plays at every position.
And everyone gets to pitch.
So the team thing is great.

But a couple weeks ago my son wanted to quit. He started with, "the coaches don't like me".
Then it was,"all I do is play outfield."
Now I know he loves it and I know he wants to be in it, but he wants to be appreciated. He says, "I work so hard at practice and all I do is play outfield."
As a dad I don't know what to say to him. My job as a dad is to teach him up in the way he should go. What does that mean? Well, it means to teach him how to act when things are not going exactly the way he wants it. I mean he is going to have to deal with this kind of stuff the rest of his life. In sports, in school, and maybe in his employment. This is the real world.
I don't want to baby him and I want to teach him real world experiences but I want to protect him from getting hurt. This is the tough part of being a parent.
First I tell him how much I love him and how I think he is a great baseball player. I love going to his games and watching him play.
I then try to break it down for him...he is smart enough to recognize what I am going to tell him. I say, you are the second youngest on the team. You are not the best player on the team like you were last year.
You have to work harder. When you do get a chance to play the infield, remember you are being watched. When you are playing outfield remember you are being watched. When the coach looks out there and you are throwing your glove up in the air and your back is turned to the doesn't look good.
I told him to stick it out a little more.
The next game he got to play third base for two innings and he got to pitch. He has been riding so high since then. He loves baseball again...
And I didn't even have to get into the life lesson stuff like, "What if your boss doesn't recognize your potential? Are you just going to quit your job?"

Last thing. We are getting to the level of baseball that is passing me by.
You know that I am cheap. My son is wearing all hand me downs. He is using his cousins old cleats. He has had the same glove since T-ball. He uses a bat we borrowed from a friend and he has a used bat bag.
Now apparently others don't prescribe to the Gammichia philosophy on spending money. Did you know that there are baseball bats that cost $175.
We have one kid on our team that has a bat bag that rolls. It is bigger than him. Gloves on both hands, air brushed personalized batting helmet, everything brand new.
I don't get this stuff. It is passing me by.

Okay last last thing. I am sitting and watching the game. The coaches youngest son is hanging out with the mom. The kid is 6 years old and I have yet to see him eat anything other than candy. It is either he is sucking on a ring pop and drinking a Coke or it is a Kit Kat bar and a slushy. The kid is like 2 and a half feet tall and about 20 pounds over weight. The kid was bugging the crap out of his mom for some more candy and she didn't have any money. I gave them a dollar so he would be quiet. Then it was off to the concessions stand for more candy.
These are the people that come to my office and I tell them they have 9 cavities and the parents are so surprised. "I don't know what is going on...he brushes his teeth."
But it is not just this kid. There are numerous kids that are plumpy and have blue crap all over their face from all the candy.

Man am I being mean today or what?
See what happens when I get on my blogs get long.
That is all the complaining I will do today.

Hey, have a great weekend,
See you Monday,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Economy bad = service good

Hi all,

I was in the car the other day. I had gotten up early, 4:15am, to run. Then I got home at 7:50 and I had to be at the baseball field, for Luke's game at 8:15. Jump in the shower, run to the field and "assistant" coach the game, while watching my 4 year old, Noah. On our way home, I sighed and said out loud, "I am one tired Mother". Noah pipes up and says, "You mean, father."
Aren't kids great. I laughed all the way home.

Did anyone see Worst Week? I still think it is very funny. My wife is starting not to like it because it isn't fair. But I love physical comedy.
How I Met Your Mother has only been so so this year. Does any one watch Chuck or another show called Life. We like those...and The Unit.

No movies lately. My kids got a hold of my Netflix queue and put all these kid movies on the list. So it has been stuff like Invincible and The Game Plan.

Today's topic.
Has anyone noticed that people in the service industry are actually giving service.
They are becoming nicer, but not just nicer but crazy nicer.

My wife's van needed new tires. I told her that I would go on the computer and look up the best rated tire and she can call around and check on the prices.
I found the top three and she started calling around. After about 20 minutes she said out loud, "Man, everyone is sooo nice."

Did you know that unemployment is up to something like 6.2%? To me this number seems low but it is like the highest it has been in 4 years. So 6 out of 100 people don't have jobs. Okay out of the six, how many people don't want to work? Would you say 3?
So 3 out of 100 people don't have jobs.

What does this mean? Well people are going to be fighting for the jobs.
Meaning, for the consumer things will get better. Service is going to get better.
Remember last year when you wanted to do something in or on your house. It was like a game.
I had a leak in my roof and I called 5 people. 2 of them flat out told me they were so busy they couldn't do a small job like that. 2 of them didn't show up for the appointment.
And the dude who showed up smell like he just smoked a big bong.
"Dude, your roof has this righteous leak dude. My brother has this killer set of tools, I can fix it for you."
Now, if you have a roof leak, not only do all 5 guys show up, they are courteous and don't smell like smoke.
You guys know how I feel about the cell phone companies. I STILL need a new phone. Monday I was like, this is it...I have to get a new phone. I sat down at the computer and called AT&T.
Remember when you use to call them and you would go through about 6 different things. "Press 1 if you are an existing customer. Please punch in your cell number to speed things up". Then you would finally get someone and then they would ask you your cell number. AAARRRRGG!!
On Monday I was talking to someone after one "Press 1".
Then after about 2 minutes into the conversation, he said Mr. Gammichia do you realize that after the 28th of this month your contract will be up and you will be eligible for some significant discounts on purchasing new phones.
I couldn't believe it. I looked around my house for hidden camera. I didn't know what to say.
I asked him to repeat what he just said and waited for the caveat. I waited for the "but" or the catch or the something that was going to make them money. But it never came.
He was just being nice. He was looking out for me. Crazy isn't it.

I went to Chilli's a couple of weeks ago and I had great service. I never get good service there.

Finally service is coming back to the forefront. Something that to me is like breathing. It always has been. But because the past couple of years have been so good, people got lazy.
When no one gives good service customers stop expecting it. They stop demanding it.
So when a roofer doesn't come to an appointment and doesn't call, we call them back and make another appointment.

I am hoping now that service is hear to say. I love being talked to like people want me there. Where is there? Well, it is at the grocery store, it is at the golf course, it is at the foot doctor, it is at Sports Authority, it is at the gas station, it is the restaurant, it is at the AT&T store (crazy, I know). Service is everywhere... at the Ritz Carlton and it is at the La Quinta.

Is it me or have you noticed too?
I know the economy is not looking so good but if this is one of the by products...then so be it.
Have you noticed that you are giving better service. Are you more conscientious of how you are serving your patients or customers?
Well if you aren't then you better start. Who knows maybe it will stick.

That is it.
I know, it was a short blog today. It is my way of giving you good service.
Last thing, some people rated high on the thing. Thank you. It means a lot to me.

Talk to you on Friday,
8 days until I leave to Washington D.C. for my marathon. I am getting very nervous.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Marinating on Friday's blog.

Okay, Okay, I didn't write yesterday.

I wanted you to marinate on Friday's blog. Did you see it?
Very important, and is a must read for all dentists.

As you know I am off on Mondays so it is the hardest day for me to write (especially if I am playing golf) but the real reason is I am still partying from the butt whoopin' the Gators put on the LSU Tigers.
As Chris Farley would say, "That was awesome" (remember that from Tommy Boy).

But I just shake your head about the Ole Miss loss. So which team is the real Gator team.
I hope it is the one we saw Saturday night. Man was that sweet.

I will talk to you tomorrow.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Back to Dentistry, Access to Care

xOkay, rating turned out to be a big mistake.
What I didn't realize is that some people don't like the blog.
So I got a .9 by one reader. Yeah, I said, "POINT NINE".
Now I can handle constructive criticism but...
Why not give me a zero? Am I better than a zero but not as good as a one?
That hurt.
But I must go on.

I wanted to talk to you about something that is going on in Dentistry.
I have enough knowledge of this topic to be dangerous, but I will do my best.
The topic is about Access to Care.
This is a very important topic so I hope to do it justice.

It is a heavy topic so I will do my best to lay the ground work for you (and I think it will be interesting to you non-dental people).

The problem....
People in rural areas are not getting Access to Care.
What does that mean?
For example (and a lot of this started) in Alaska. There are areas of Alaska that there are people and there are no dentists. In some areas you might say, "just go to the nearest town" but the nearest town is just too far to go.
The problem is how do we get dental care to these people?
This is a problem for these patients. It is problem for the dentist. It is a problem for the government (that has promised to care for their citizens).

So in Alaska there idea was to train a "Mid-level provider". This is someone from that particular community that goes and studies for a year or so and that can deliver to their community some emergency dental care and some basic dentistry.
They would teach these people how to pull teeth. They taught these people how to do a simple filling, Then they taught them how to take care of some kids stuff, like sealants and a prophylasis.
Just think of these people like a nurse practioner in the medical field.

This plan kind of went under the radar of organized dentistry for a bit.
I think some things started to filter down to the great 48. The same kind of things started to happen in Maine and Minnesota.
Now the ears of organized dentistry started to perk up.
You remember in the AGD Impact there was an article about this. Now it is really beginning to be on a lot of people's radar.
Here is the deal. It is not about the eskimos any more. It is become about everyone that doesn't have access to dental care. Meaning everyone that can't afford dental care.
Think about the people that can't afford dental care in your community. Instead of going to the local dentist they can go to a less expensive dental pracitioner. Not only the less expensive provider the less educated provider.

So the Mid-level provider (MLP) want to not only provide dental care in the snow in Alaska, they want to set up shop in our towns. They want to set up shop in California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and all the others.
The people that want the MLP say there isn't enough dentists to go around.
Now the dentists say they have the ability to treat everyone. We are in the same towns and we have openings in our schedules....we can do this.

The government says it wants all its citizens to have dental care.
The government has a system called Medicaid.
But as you may know there are very few dentists that take Medicaid.
You all know me...I am a dentist who cares deeply about my community and the people in my town that can't afford dentistry...but in its present state I cannot take Medicaid any time soon. See, if I took Medicaid I would loosing money doing dentistry.
Now I am not talking breaking even I am talking loosing money. So it is not about dentists being greedy.
As an aside, I run with a couple of urologist and they say that 30-40% of their practice is Medicaid. They say Medicaid pays well and is easy to work with. Not the case here.
So now the choice of the general dentist is to loose money treating patients or offer patients an untrained dentist. One year of training does not even scrape the surface of the stuff I see in my practice daily.

The American Dental Association (ADA) is backing the MLP initiative. I find this very hard to believe that the members really know what is going on because this seems to be ludicrious. Trust me, I am an ADA member and I didn't know about this.
There are plenty of dentists and there it is a desire of most dentists to care for people but for some reason this is not good enough. This isn't cheap enough.

So, I am proud to say, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) has taken exception.
This is the "hill to die on". They are fighting the ADA on this with a passion.
A passion for its members and a passion for its profession.
The AGD is trying to educate its members to wake up.
Wake up and educate themselves. And when they feel like they have a grasp of the subject then call their ADA representative.
(You see the voting in the ADA is much like our government. There are representatives that vote on behalf of its regional members).

So today I am asking you to do the same. Educate yourself. The AGD has published a bunch of ariticles that may help.
Access to care:
White Paper:

About the White Paper:

Call your ADA representive. Have a voice.

Have a great weekend,

Ps. Hey John V...was that enough dentistry for you. POINT NINE?!!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Perspective III, Its time to dance, EDIT

All that get this through email...I screwed up. I went to save this as a draft because I had to shut down my computer, but I hit ENTER instead of SAVE. And if you hit ENTER it automatically sends it to email. I wasn't done so read the bottom.

Hi all,
Did you know that blogs can be rated. I didn't. I would appreciate if you could all go and rate this blog at A 10 would be nice but if you don't feel like giving me a perfect score...9.9 will be fine.

The editors review this thing and I got a 7.2.
Just another example of the man bringing you down.

I think there are editor rankings and reader rankings. The blog was ranked 22 out of 114 (way better than my dental school rankings).
For the expert rankings, there are an panel of experts that rate on the frequency of posts, relevance of topics, site design and writing style.
But I think there is a readers ranking as well, so lets vote.
I mean I have already voted. I did it with my email, my dad's email, my wifes, and whoever's emails I could think of. I have done everything I could.

So vote and vote often and we will see if we can get up there.

On another cool note...
Did you know that I have had 12 readers from Singapore.
Oh yeah, world wide baby.

Did anyone watch TV on Monday? Good stuff. Not great but good. My wife watched Worst Week with me and she had some good belly laughs.
Nothing else on the home front.

There is only 18 days until my marathon. Wow.
I think of the three people that are running, I am the weakest. So I don't know how it is going to go.
We have yet to run in temperatures less than 75 degrees. But in Washington there is a chance of us running in very low temps. I run so much better in the cold. I will just do the best I can.

Have you guys been thinking about what I have been writing?
Have you admitted to yourself that you have a lot?
It has been about a month since I have come back from Mexico and I think I am started to come to grips with all that I have seen.

I have learned. I have learned not to hold on to what this world has to offer.
If I hold on to things tightly stuff will slowly become an idol to me.
Haven't we realized that the stuff of this world can be taken away.
My house, my job, my money, my car, my satellite TV, my 401k, my wife, my kids...are all idols that I love.
How many people have looked at their 401k in the last couple of weeks?

I don't want to sound all religious on you but...this is where our hearts should lie.
It should lie with God. You eyes should be on things not of this world.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal (Mt 6:18,19)
Why is this stuff so hard to get?

So the poor Mexicans who were dancing at worship had something to be joyous about.
It seems kind of weird to Americans. They are poor and don't know where their next meal is coming from but they had reason to dance.
They have lots of treasure, it may be stored up in heaven but they have it.

So remember the guy that lost his kid? Or remember the mom who's kid got in a Four Wheeler accident?
God never said it was going to be easy. He never said he wasn't going to take things from you. He never says he wasn't going to take away your 401k.
But He says, "Trust Him".
Trust Him that we will see each other in heaven. Trust Him that we all will be in our glorified bodies (if you think I am hot now...just wait until you see me in my glorified body. Problem is when you see me in heaven, in my glorified body, there will not be any you won't be like, "Whow, who is that hot babe?" You will be like, "Hey, how you doin'?". Man does my mind wonder or what?)
So we will be reunited with our kids. And our kids will not have any effects of the world.

To me it is the only thing that makes sense. I mean I have to hold on to this. Because without it, the world looks pretty bad to me.
Nothing really fills the void. I buy a new car and my happiness lasts until I have to make my first payment. Or until my next door neighbor get a nicer one.
I love my new house until I get the first electric bill or I love it until water comes in to my living room during the first thunderstorm.
Friends are great but we are all sinners. So I will either screw that up or they will.
Family is great until Christmas morning. "She didn't get me what I asked. She bought me this stupid tie. The real problem is she bought me this stupid tie on her trip to I can't even return it."
"My brother never buys me anything. He is so unappreciative"
"No one ever helps my wife with the dishes."
Starting to sound like any of your dysfunctional families or is it just mine?

Do you get what I am saying?

We have reason to dance. We have the King of Kings on our side.
So lets dance, maybe not like David in the Old Testament (he danced in his underwear), but dance none the less.

It is so hard to get...but I think I am getting it. Slowly.

Have a great week.
Tomorrow is Thursday, wow that went fast.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Perspective II

Hi all,
Hope everyone had a good weekend.
The Gators won so I won't need to see a sports therapist. At least until next week. We play LSU at home. Now I am not so confident. But if we do happen to win things will really be looking good for us.
But I keep thinking OLE MISS? OLE MISS? Did we really lose to OLE Miss at home. Then Ole Miss loses to South Carolina at home. Jerk offs couldn't look good for one additional week.

I watched a couple of movies in the plane to and from Chicago this weekend.
Not good news. I watched When in Vegas and it stunk but on the way home I watched Forgetting Sara Marshall and it was even worse.

Okay lets get right to it.
Last thing we were talking about is the poverty in Mexico. I told you about how bad the conditions are dentally. I told you about how I met this Mexican kid and got him excited about dentistry.
But this was only one aspect of the depravity in Mexico, and this is also kind of been spinning around in my head.
Everyone is poor. Now the term poor is so relative. I would say it doesn't cost that much to live in the same thing that would cost $100 here might be $45 there. I am talking electric, water, eggs, chicken, stuff like that.
There were so many people, I mean the houses are 200 square feet and right on top of each other.
I would ask, "What do all these people do?"
Apparently the are all laborers. Farmers, landscapers, factory workers, plumbers, carpenters, framers...but minimum wage is $8 a day.

I was working on a young man of about 25 years old and I was doing 3 fillings. I asked him how much they all thought it would cost. One person said $55 dollars, one said $75 and one said $100. After I added it all up in my head, I told them it would cost $550 at my office.
$550 dollars would be what they make in a month.

Did I tell you how depressed the area was? Not depressed like emotionally but physically. In the areas I went in there was a river-like area going down the mountain. Turns out this was a open sewer line. Trash, poop, dead dogs.

Now I think about this and ask myself, "what is the problem?"
Okay, there are millions of poor people working for someone. Are the someones exploiting the poor?
Is the government getting money and not helping the people out?
We have been going down there, using our resources, for 20 years...are things better?

I come home and get pissed off when traffic is bad or when my satellite dish is not working properly. I get upset when my Fillet Mignon is not properly cooked. Or when my air conditioning at the office is not working well enough to cool our place lower than 75.
We live in the greatest country in the world and people are not happy.
What is up with this?
People in Mexico, at least in the area I was in, have almost nothing and they were dancing and singing during worship service.
Then I come home and people in the airport run over each other to get out because they have somewhere better to go.
I think it was said that 75% of the worlds people live on less that $5000 a year. Something crazy like that.
Then I would ask my assistant if she thought she was rich and she would say, "NO".
But is all perspective.
Well next to the Mexicans I was with she was not just rich but rich rich.
But that is what Americans think. They think we are the only ones around. We think the world is between California and Florida.
There really isn't even world news channels in America. How can we even compare ourselves to others if we don't even know there are others out there?
Back to my assistant. She has a house. She has a car. She goes on vacation. She has insurance. She never goes without food. In fact she never goes with out good food. To most people in the world...this is rich. But we compare ourselves to "Lifestyles of the rich and famous."
Our kids are healthy (we have the best doctors in the world) and they can go to free school. Then they can go to a University sponsored by the state.
But yet this isn't enough.

Okay, we all complain. But I can tell you what...I complain a heck of a lot less.
When I put my life up against my friend who lost his son, I feel blessed.
I thank God every day for what I have. I thank God for health. I thank God for my family. I thank God for my awesome job. I thank God for my awesome house.
I thank God for everything.
Now is my house the biggest? NO. Are my kids the smartest? NO. Is my job always great? Yes (I have to say that). Am I always healthy? NO.
Because you know what? We (or I) have it pretty darn good.
Is sh@#$!^&*t going to happen to us? Is our world going to get rocked with calamity? Yes.
Are we going to fail? Yes.
But this doesn't hide the fact that we are rich (and not just with money), we are blessed.

I am going to stop here.
One more Perspective and we can move on.
I will talk to you about it on Wednesday,

Ps It was a little warm in my house. I turned the air down. Ahhh that is nice. Life is good.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Oh my gosh. I watched How I Met Your Mother on Monday and it was okay, funny but nothing earth shattering.
But after my wife went to bed I watched the TV show called Worst Week, I don't know when it comes on because I DVR everything (I think 9:30), and it was so funny.
I mean I was literally having one of those laughs that my mouth was open and nothing was coming out. I was falling off the couch. The next day my wife told me she could hear me laughing from across the house.
But so far I have not come across ANYONE that has seen the show.
I want to know if anyone else thought it was funny or was I just slap happy or something. I went on and it appears that other people thought it was funny too.

I don't think the script is very good and I don't think it is acted particularly well but some of the stuff in there was so funny.
The Asian guy at the bird shop, when he yells at the parrot. I laughed and then rewinded it and laughed again...I am laughing again just thinking about it. And when the dog bring the dead bird that was funny.

My wife only likes a couple of shows, we watch them together, The Unit and Chuck.

I started a new book and I can't remember the title. It is a book on the renewal of Rwanda.
So far so good.

Let's continue on the "Perspective"

Let me continue to tell you about Mexico.
Everyday we would wake up and have breakfast. We would take a bus ride (about an hour) to the center de jour.
All the people would be waiting for us. The kids running around having fun.

There would be individual rooms set up for their particular doctor. Dental chair set up in one room. Exam table set up in another. Optometry stuff set up in another room.
There is a make shift pharmacy.

One big thing that goes on is, when the optometrist is done telling his patient that they need glasses, there is an area that they can get glasses.
You know when you go to your eye doctors office and there is a recepticle for old glasses set up by the Lyons Club or something like that? Well these glasses go to this huge warehouse. Our people go to this place and pick out about 5000 pairs of glasses.

We take them on our trip and match the glasses to the prescription given to them.
It is a huge operation and they give glasses to about 200 people a day.

But the first day I got there, I showed you my room, I needed an assistant. Well I needed a couple. One kid to hold the light and another to hold the cheek. Hoping at least someone could help me with translation.
Well it turns out I had this high school age kid holding the light. He was 17 years old. They do high school differently than us so I don't know exactly what grade he was in. He didn't speak a lick of English but we would able to communite with hand motions and threw our interpretor.

The first day I joked around a lot with him and tried to make it fun for him. I mean for about 9 hours all he did was hold a light.
I would see a lot of kids and there chief complaint was they had a tooth loose. In most cases this a just a normal tooth coming out (exfoliating) and sometimes it feels weird to the kid and they think they are having a toothache. If they would have just waited a month it would come out on its own.
So this is when I would always ask this kid if he wanted to take the tooth out. Every time he would indicate that he was freaked out by it and didn't want to do it.
But the second day (here is my second day operatory) I show up to another clinic de jour and this kid was already setting up the room. I was pleasantly surprised. I mean this clinic was a one hour drive from yesterday's clinic. It became apparent that the leaders of the clinics asked for help and if you wanted to help they would pick you up and bring you to the clinic de jour. I mean it is something to do and you get two free meals out of it.
But this day our relationship was more about education. I got an interpreter who was young.

Here are some pictures. The one on the left is the kid Alberto who is the one I will talk about. The picture on the right is Alberto and my interpreter Poncho. He has Marfan's syndrome.
Marfan's syndrome was made famous by Abraham Lincoln, Andrea the Giant, and the former NBA star George Merashon.

So on the second day it was more of the same ribbing. But when I asked him if he wanted to take a tooth out he said, "YES".
I looked around for the Department of Health and it turns out they don't have a Mexican branch. So I deemed it okay.
I let the kid take out the tooth. I numbed up the little tooth and gave "Berto" the forceps. I took his hand and we did it together.
And by the end of the day he had taken out about 12 teeth. Let me tell you how much fun this kid had. I mean he was beaming.
So remember yesterday when I was talking about not being able to educate everyone. Well the second day I spent all my time educating "Berto" on what it takes to be a dentist.
Now I was thinking "Fill a man's tooth and help him for today, but teach a man to fill a tooth and help a community forever" (you know the saying).

So by the end of the third day this kid wanted to be a dentist. We exchanged email addresses and home addresses. I may have my first Mexican prodigy.

I haven't stopped thinking of the poverty I saw. I saw more desperation in three days than I have seen in my whole life.
You know I do this Dentistry from the Heart every year and there are for sure some sad stories and for sure there is some people that really have need.

But this problem was so wide spread.
Maybe I am with people with money in all aspects of my life. Work, church, the little league baseball field, everywhere there is people with money.
Even I go to the food shelter here in little old Apopka and the walls are stacked with food.
But when I go to Mexico (this was my second time) everything there rings out need.
Do I just not see it here in America?
I struggle with why God made me want to be a dentist. What can I do for the kingdom?
How can I clothe the naked? How can I feed the hungry?
Is it by doing what I am doing? I keep thinking to myself that what I am doing is not enough.

I feel like when I do this thing in Mexico I am throwing stones in the ocean (it is not really doing anything).
There is this story...A man is walking down the beach and during the night there was a red tide (or something like that) and it washed up millions and millions of star fish.
Now the guy is walking and every ten steps or so he bends down and picks up a star fish and whips it back into the ocean. Well after doing this for awhile he walks by a man and the man says, "why are you doing that? There are so many it is not even going to matter."
And the man replied as he threw another one in..."Well it mattered to that one."

So this is how I kind of got through the day, when I started thinking of the extent of the need.

I will stop here....for now.

I don't know if I can blog on Friday. I am going to Chicago on Friday and Saturday for an AGD joint council meeting. Then back home to run 18 miles before church.

There is a Cubs game tomorrow night that I am trying to get tickets to. If anyone can help...that would be cool.
Oh, by the by, I hit 190 on the scale yesterday. Now it could be just have been a low spike. But the bet was for the first one to hit their weight. Now the second part of the bet was to see if the winner can keep it off for two more weeks.
But this week I am running a lot is looking good.
Marathon in 3 and a half weeks.

Maybe talk to you Friday


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