I’m not going to win the writing contest.

My story is crap.  I just submitted it (it’s 3AM Central time), but I have zero confidence in anybody enjoying it.

To be honest, the “topic” was not all that fun or interesting.  Granted, we had carte blanche to turn it into something vastly different, and I kind of did that.  But I had no ending in sight, and tacked one on that I’m sure the judge(s) will dislike.

Maybe I’m being hard on myself.  It’s been a long time since I wrote “just” a short story.  Between my professional writing and blogging, I’ve already got two “other” types of writing going on in my slightly balding cranium.

Oh well, at least there are “door prizes.”  Maybe I’ll win a free “How to E-Publish” kit or something.

Off to bed.

Health update

FYI, and because I say HIPAA be darned…

I’m fine.  I am NOT in the middle of a Crohn’s flare-up.  Since my trip to the E.R., I have been basically problem-free.

Followed up with my G.I. yesterday, and he said that it would be nearly impossible for me to have a flare-up whilst taking the meds that I take.  So much more likely, I had a bad reaction to something I ate or contracted a quickie virus or bug.

So that’s the good news there.

The “R” Word

Just read yet another article about an impending recession.

As someone who’s freelancing because he’s “involuntarily between jobs,” I can tell you that we are smack-dab in the middle of a recession.

My proof is simple: I’m not the only one hurting.  There are plenty of us.

You start to figure out that there is a big problem when you contact people, hoping to get some freelance work or a networking contact out of them, and they tell you that they too have been laid off.

I’m not going to get all political here, but I think most of us will agree that the blame belongs a lot of places: federal, state and city administrations, mortgage companies that ran wild in the earlier part of the decade, and just as importantly, all of us consumers.

Consumers are the ones who spent way beyond their means, buying McMansions and cars and stuff they couldn’t afford.  And the lenders said, hey, you got credit of any kind, we’ll work with you.  (Having heard first-hand from Shannon what the insanely unethical mortgage lenders were doing–and she refused to do when she worked with them–made me sick.)

I think a lot of us keep hoping that someone or something will bail us out of this situation.  Many people probably believe that the next leader of this country will “make it all right” somehow.  Or that Gen Y (or Tweeners or one of those mini-generations after us X-ers) will spark their version of the dot-com boom.

Frankly, everybody just needs to go on a budget.  Yikes, does this mean I’m a fiscal conservative?

Ever go to a real E.R.?

I’ve been to several over the past few years, but today was a unique experience.

I woke up this morning at 4AM with, well, let’s just say pretty severe gastrointestinal distress.  Living with Crohn’s disease, I assumed it was either a delayed reaction to Remicade, a flare-up/relapse, or something I ate last night.

Called the Remicade infusion nurse, and she confirmed my theory that four years of side-effect-free infusions made it very unlikely that my problem was related to the medication.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get much better as the day went on.  Shannon came home from work to take care of me, and when I still showed no improvement by early evening, she took me to the E.R. at Presbyterian of Plano.

The E.R. at 5:15 p.m. was empty except for one elderly lady who was already filling out her forms.  I quickly completed my own forms, and was actually called to see the Triage nurse while I was in the men’s room.  (That’s an amazingly quick waiting period, for those of you who have dealt with emergency rooms.)

I was almost immediately met by a male nurse/EMT who put in an I.V.  Soon after that, I was greeted by the ER doc and a nurse who took all my info.  Based on the doc’s diagnosis–a mild flare-up–I was given morphine (woo hoo), something to settle my stomach and some fluids to rehydrate me.

After a while, the cramping and discomfort subsided, and Shannon even noted the color had returned to my face.  The doc came around again and discharged me around 7:45.

Not feeling 100% yet, but definitely a whole lot better.

In the heart of the Beast

On my way back from my Remicade infusion this morning, I had to stop by Blue Star Imaging in Irving to pick up some X-rays for Shannon.

But Blue Star Imaging is located in Valley Ranch, an exclusive section of Irving which is where the Dallas Cowboys’ training facility spews its demonic evil.  (Yeah, it’s redundant, but so is Evil.)

So I actually had to enter the facility (the security guard was nice, but clearly a scion of Satan in disguise) and park in the visitors’ lot to get the films.

Of note: parked illegally in the circular driveway was a black convertible Corvette with the license plate “SACKED.”

I had to take four showers when I got home.

The appeal of fantasy sports

A good friend and actual reader of this blog asked me to address the topic which titles this entry, and I’m quite the obliging fellow, so here goes.

There are three types of people who are drawn to fantasy sports:

–one-time athletes (although current athletes are often fans),

–people who love statistics (and to a lesser degree, sports),

–and gamblers.

Me?  I’m 60% the first person, 35% the second person, and 5% the third.

To explain the overall concept–regular people get to “own” teams of real players from pro sports (or just one competitor, like in fantasy golf or auto racing) and they earn points based on the players’ on-field performance.  The “owner” with the most points wins their league, and often a cash prize.

Why is it so popular?  Because regular schmoes like me get to pretend that they’re six-figure-salaried general managers/vice presidents-of-player-personnel for pro teams, adding and subtracting players from their rosters, trading them to other owners, and thrilling at the competition.

Even somebody like me–who briefly sat the bench for a Division III baseball team–gets to be a big important “owner” while pitting my alleged baseball knowledge and expertise against friends and rivals alike.

There’s a wonderful thrill in being the guy who spots a diamond in the rough, an unheralded player who suddenly explodes and has a career-best season.

And there’s a camaraderie between the millions of men and women who play fantasy sports–comiserating when a superstar gets hurt, getting excited when they have an MVP season, and enjoying life as a sports fan at a deeper level.

Of course, there’s also the lessons you have to learn along the way–like not always choosing players from your hometown team or your favorite team.  Many Red Sox fans suffer in their fantasy lives from not going to get a superstud like Alex Rodriguez just because he plays for the hated Yankees, but that doesn’t hurt the Yanks –it hurts their team.  Even though it’s very difficult to root for a rival player, fantasy owners realize that it’s not the whole Yankee squad you’re rooting for or even a victory for New York–just a homer or two for A-Rod.

Some will contest that fantasy sports detract from the enjoyment of the games, that it’s harder to appreciate an acrobatic touchdown catch when you “own” the defense and it means you lose your game that week.  But I’d like to think that most fantasy players can get past that–because deep down, they’re fans first and foremost.

Stay tuned for Sports

Sixers pull off major upset in Game 1 of their playoff series at Detroit.

Phillies hold on to beat the Schmets tonight on ESPN, even with Jimmy Rollins going to the disabled list for the first time in his career.

Flyers lead their playoff series 3-2 and play tomorrow night.

Eagles…well, they have a draft coming up.

Fantasy-wise, I’m near the bottom in my two fantasy leagues.

So the question: do I karmically suffer through lousy fantasy seasons in exchange for positive results in the “real” world?

Freelance fun

So I worked on-site as a freelancer at a downtown Dallas agency.

Came in, they put me right to work–which is understandable, they’re paying me by the hour.

The account supervisor “downloaded” the projects I’d be working on–pretty easy stuff (letters, brochure edits and a DM postcard) for a large HVAC service provider.

The agency is pretty quiet, and since I had pretty much zero distractions (none of my usual office knick-knacks or posters or toys), I really focused in on the work. My undiagnosed AD/HD must be pretty mild compared to most.

Work-wise, it was an interesting change of pace. I got to write a lot less formally than I was at my last job–considering my two major clients near the end there were really corporate and B2B focused.

Anyway, the office was pretty cool and the main people I met were nice.  The rest of the people mostly gave me a quizzical look and moved on, but upon further review I realize that’s how I was with freelancers at my previous agencies with whom I wasn’t working closely.

So basically, it’s a lot like temp work.  It just pays a lot better and you might get to work on some interesting projects.  (And it’s a whole lot more exciting than my “home office” environment.)