Thursday, October 29, 2009

2009 Minnesota Pheasant Season - Week Three

Corn harvest continues to really hamper our activity. It even ended up being a featured article in the StarTribune this week.

Despite this challenge, we're still at 9 total birds harvested off the farm - incredible. Hat's off to the food plot that was plated by my partner. It has been a bird magnet, and to pull birds into it when there is standing corn less than 300 yards away is a real trick.

We'll see how we do this weekend when the southern contingent arrives. I can't wait, and will be reporting all of our exploits in this space. Stay tuned. It is never dull.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Trigeminal Neuralgia - Mayo Follow Up

I finally got a call from the neurologist at Mayo on the two follow up items. The mass in my left sinus is completely benign, and the med levels in my blood sample can afford a pretty good upgrade in dose.

I see this as bad news, good news. I was kind of hoping that the sinus thing would be a smoking gun, as that is a heck of a lot more treatable than breaking the back of my skull open, finding the Trigeminal nerve, hopefully finding the cause of its agitation, and hopefully being able to treat it.

The good news is that I have a lot of runway with the meds. Unfortunately, it has been a really tough couple of weeks with regard to the pain, even despite upping my dose, and that worries me. I'm chalking it up to stressful times at work, harried business travel, and lack of sleep. Hopefully things will calm down at work and my head return to normal. I'll keep you posted.

In the mean time, I have an appointment with a neurosurgeon in a couple of weeks to establish a file and discuss options, and I intend on keeping that appointment.

For the first time since this thing hit, I'm scared.

But I have good support, the best doctors in the world, and a lot of faith. Optimism is winning. I hope that continues.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Think You Had a Monday Yesterday?

These are the pants I wore at work yesterday, and the split that they incurred. I found the split about 2:00 - Lord knows how long it was there.

I luckily had a long-tailed shirt, but also had a ton of meetings, requiring me to walk up stairs and through busy hallways. I used my planner as a shield and moved as strategically as possible, but I have the sneaking suspicion that I was the butt of multiple comments and jokes yesterday.

Sorry for the pun.

I think it is probably high time for one of my semi-annual shopping trips to maybe buy some new clothes, no?

Good thing I'm boodelicious.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

2009 Minnesota Duck Season - Week Four

The good news? Birds are still around. The bad news? They've seen our stuff, and our junk ain't working like it used to.

We had limited bags this weekend, despite good weather. We still haven't seen the northern mallards yet, despite already having seen bufflehead, goldeneye, and tundra swans; three of the very last migrating bird species.

Weird year.

We still have tons of coot (or, as my Cajun cousins call them, "pouldeau"), and we still have tons of bald eagles harassing them - really fun to watch.

Hopefully we still have some birds that hold on for the southern invasion which will occur this week - three cousins from the Creole state cross the Mason-Dixon and join their northern kin for the annual trek north later this week. Watch the weather, because by Thursday night, it looks like a drunk front could be brewing.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Three: "Puppy Troubles" Part 3

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at the previous section

As I closed the garaged door and entered the house, I was not met with the usual "Hey, I'm down here, come feed me dinner!" bark that met me each and every other night. What I heard was a whimper and a cry, and one that told me something was very wrong.

I flew down the stairs and around the corner to encounter Blitz in front of her gate, with a dual treble hooked fishing lure hanging from her mouth. In scanning quickly behind her, it was obvious that she had dug her way through the sheetrock and into adjoining closet where that amazing nose of hers pointed her to the lure, which at the time was attached to a fishing pole. She evidently got hooked and thrashed around the room, tearing the lure off the pole and leaving blood stains all over her puppy pads and the floor.

For the first time since I took her into my life, when I looked at her I didn't see a rascally yellow dog. The brown eyes staring back at me reflected pain and hurt. I had failed her in the promise I made at the gas station on the first day I picked her up. Failing in spades.

A quick examination showed that one hook had passed through both her top and lower lip, preventing her from opening her mouth very wide. It was obvious that this was a situation that required immediate medical resources, so I scooped her up in my arms and we flew up the stairs to make the run the to vet.

Luck was on our side for as the garage door raised to allow us to go, I noticed my wife driving into the neighborhood on her way home from work. I held on to Blitz and met her at the end of the driveway. "What happened?" she asked with shocked concern. "JUST DRIVE TO THE VET," I yelled as I climbed into her car, cradling the dog the best I could.

Our luck continued as we arrived just as the vet was closing, and the doctor on call agreed to immediately address Blitz's injury. Given how the treble hooks had embedded themselves into her mouth, it was obvious that the only way these were going to be removed would be to put the dog under. After a little anesthesia and a couple of clips of the pliers, the bad part was over. The doctor warned that she'd be groggy and likely very sore for the next couple of days, and to go easy on her. She'd likely also be fussy about food as her mouth would be hurting her. From my perspective, I knew she'd have some physical recuperation. But my concern was about her mental recuperation. Would she trust me again? Would she still be that yellow ball of energy? As I tucked her into her crate that night, I kissed her groggy little yellow head and wondered what I'd find in the morning.

Mornings always stared in the same way since Blitz came to live with us: the minute she heard me up in the morning she started barking her head off. Part of it was due to the expectation of getting breakfast, and part of it was just being able to see me again. The racket she made would raise the dead, and it made for a accelerated trip to the bathroom in the morning. Likewise, on those mornings when I would be suffering from a big evening the night before, it really made for a tough way to start the day.

Despite her surgery the day before, the sound Blitz was making from the basement belied nothing wrong - nothing at all. As I entered the laundry room and turned to her crate, I expected to see a sore little dog. Instead, I was met with a tail-wagging, butt shaking, grinning yellow bundle of energy that seemed to say to me, "Hey! Good to see you! When do I eat? I'm STARVING!"

She showed no ill effects. None. This would be the first example she would give me for her tolerance for pain. There would soon be others.

Meal time usually came with a routine. First, I'd start with a song. I had songs for a bunch of things for the dog. They usually were an alteration of a existing song which was modified to talk about the dog. My favorite was a modification of the old Sweet song, which came out "It's, it's a dog named Blitz - YEAH IT'S A DOG NAMED BLITZ!" Kenneling up at night was done to Camptown Races - "It's time for dogs to go to bed, doo-dah, doo-dah." There were about a dozen more.

The song for meal time was a modification of Hank Williams Jr.'s song for Monday Night Football. The first stains I'd kick out of "Are you ready for some breakfast?!" resulted in an anticipatory frenzy. I'd then make her sit, as I had done since her earliest days with me. As she grew and learned, upon command she'd actually slam her little yellow butt so quickly on the floor that it'd be audible. Then the magic command of "OK" was given, and the feast was on.

Blitz still owns the land speed record for devouring a bowl of Eckanuba. Ten seconds was literally her average, along with the requisite hunt for any kibble that my have escaped the bowl or were dropped by me. A robust belch meant the hunt was over, and heading off for "walkies" was next. And for the both of us, walkies was rarely boring.

To go to the next chapter, click here

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Minnesota Wild - The Worst Team in the NHL

Here are the top five reasons why they flat out suck:

  1. We have an arena that is the envy of the league, and has sold out every night, yes every night, since the team came into existence, but we still can't find the money to put a quality product on the ice.
  2. We have a team in which our best players would be 2nd line (at best) or 3rd line (at worst) for most other NHL teams, and a flat refusal by ownership to field the team with quality pro players. We do have the best goon in the league in Derek Boogaard, so at least the team is not a total bust.
  3. We have ownership that would rather launch another jersey design to cull even more merchandise income from the fans instead of putting a quality product on the ice. You heard me right. Tonight the team unveiled their fourth jersey design in nine seasons. Fourth jersey design. When your NHL team has more jersey designs than playoff appearances, you officially suck.
  4. Former coach Jacque Lemaire was run out of town last year - accused of playing a boring brand of defensive-minded hockey. Todd Richards was welcomed into the head coaching position with great fanfare, as he was going to bring offense back to Minnesota hockey. The result? A paltry 2.1 goals per game average; among the worst in the league. Again. And a record that is way worse than anything Jacque ever put up.
  5. The team plays the same organ riffs and music snippets played at every stoppage in play ever since the team started. The exact same. It makes me cringe even during televised games. How hard is it to find a new song to play when we take a penalty? If I hear the organist play a lame-ass version of Genesis' "Misunderstanding" one more time when we take a penalty, I will puke. It was cute until about the 253rd time I heard it...

Finally, tonight, the "team of 18,000" took off their rose colored glasses and gave the franchise something it has only rarely had - a rousing chorus of boos. Oh, yeah, the Wild eventually landed an overtime win. However, the way this season is continuing, those boos might get softer, but it won't be because the fans are happier. It will be because the arena that owns the consecutive games sold-out record will finally develop a raging case of empty seats.

It is only a matter of time.

2009 Minnesota Pheasant Season - Week Two

Week two of the Minnesota pheasant hunting season continued to be better than expected. The North Point yielded no birds this time, but the new food plot put in by my partner generated two roosters, and one of our young hunters' first rooster.

We got a number of birds up again this week, and had good luck finding them in the set aside adjacent to the standing corn. The harvest on corn still has not begun, so the total bag of three roosters is pretty remarkable.

We're up to seven roosters off the property thus far, and the best is yet to come.

Trigeminal Neuralgia - A Trip to the Mayo Clinic

Yesterday I headed down to Rochester, MN to head to the world-renown Mayo Clinic to get an evaluation on the Trigeminal Neuralgia with one of their great neurologists. I met with the same doctor that worked with us all of the while with dad's Pick's disease. He's an incredibly learned, personable, and kind man, and I was lucky to get in to see him.

He concurs with the diagnosis of Trigeminal Neuralgia, and recommended an increase in my dosage of Carbamazepine. I have been having pains of late, especially in highly stressful situations. I was in a pretty tough meeting on Monday, and it really let me have it, so getting this advice is probably good timing. I still have quite a bit of runway with the dosage of my meds, so this makes me feel good. Had I been closer to the end, I think I'd opt to just take the pain.

He also reviewed my MRI from August, and pointed out a mass in my left sinus (he called it a polyp). It could be a ton of things, but given its location, it is worthy of a lot more analysis. He sent the MRI off to their folks for their interpretation, and I expect to hear back on next steps shortly. Also, we have teed up an appointment with a neural surgeon in the event that this thing ever gets bad enough to require surgery sometime in the future. I pray we'll not get to that point, but it is nice to have things in place should it become a necessity.

Overall, it was a positive visit, and I'm happy to be in such great hands.

Mayo itself is absolutely incredible. The facility, people, and experience are so atypical from the standard trip to the hospital that it is almost impossible to reconcile. It compares to the most classy and luxurious experience one can have - flying first class, staying at the Four Seasons, buying a Lexus, and eating at Manny's all rolled into one. The facility itself is a beautiful marvel. It keeps its art deco theme throughout, but is entirely modern. Floors are marble, artwork is everywhere, and even little things like the restrooms or examination rooms are so substantially nicer than anything you've ever seen that you just wonder at them.

Here are just a couple of photos to give you the tone:

While I wish no one ill, seeing Mayo first hand is something that one needs to do sometime. It is a beautiful jewel, and I am so lucky to have it right here in my back yard. It is easy to see why people come from all over the world to go here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2009 Minnesota Duck Season - Week Three

We awoke Saturday to fog of Biblical proportions. As Fuzzy and I set the decoys, we had to move our bluebill string more that once as the straight line we thought we were on actual turned out to be a ninety degree angle. For about a five minute period there, we were actually lost in the fog and weren't exactly sure where we were on the lake. We eventually ran into land, hundreds and hundreds of yards from where we thought we were. It is amazing how lost one can get in that thick stuff without a constant point of reference.

We set up on the point, and had a great crew of three adults and three kids. By legal shooting time the birds came, usually in pairs or singles, and the action kept up the entire morning. Amazingly, the fog never lifted. By mid morning we could look up and see a clear blue sky, but 100 yards in front of us all that was there was a wall of fog. Finally, at 11:30 the fog dissipated.

Despite some poor shooting and giving the kids the best shots, we took a bag of 15 birds - a nice harvest!

On Sunday Fuzzy and I headed for the north end, where things got more tough. We were clearly not on the flyway path, and it made things tricky. Most of our shots were quick passing shots, save for two big bull canvasbacks that came right down our string just like they do in your dreams. It made the whole weekend. Bag for Sunday was three birds total, plus a lost mallard and Canada goose. Don't ask me how we lost the goose - we searched for nearly 30 minutes and came up empty. Frustrating, and something all hunters hate.

Back to back good weekends means we have to be primed for a bust one of these outings. Let's hope it doesn't happen when the southern contingent arrives in two weeks.

Dad's Birthday at the Famous Manny's Steakhouse

We celebrated dad's birthday by attending his favorite restaurant, Manny's. My sis had flown in special for the event, and it turns out it was a good thing as she was able to address a medical issue while in town as well.

My brother picked out a fabulous wine, and we feasted on some of the finest steak you can have anywhere. My dad would have absolutely loved it.

We closed with the obligatory picture in front of the painting of their iconic bull. A nice African-American gentleman, fresh off attending the Vikings game against the Ravens (he was still clad in Baltimore colors) watched us taking the photo, and wanted to make sure that "we got the balls."

Indeed, the balls made the photo. Mom doesn't look too happy about it...

Friday, October 16, 2009

Japanese Provide New Low in Society's Death Spiral?

Attached is a snippet of a video from a new Japanese "game show." A lot of the talk on the web and elsewhere is that the video is funny as hell. Check it out:

I'm sorry, but if putting people in realistic, traumatic episodes is entertainment, we're sunk as a society. This is sick, sick, sick.

Seriously, what's next? No doubt filming such light-hearted pranks like these:

- Fake plane crash for terrified passengers
- Fake military officers tell a mother her son has been killed in action
- Fake doctor provides diagnosis of terminal cancer
- Fake child's suicide for an unsuspecting parent

Where does it end?

Am I overreacting to this? Post up a comment and let me know.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Awareness, Or How the Present Is Way Cooler than the Crap in My Head

The start of my enlightenment at our retreat two weeks ago was around the concept of Awareness. Ever since I was a kid, I have been preoccupied with the tapes running in my head that covered my past, or in frivolous projections of possible futures. As a result, there have been so many times that I have been unavailable, either partially or totally, to those around me.

There are two big ramifications of this: 1) I missed a lot of life! I was simply too busy wrapped up with some crap that I had hauled into my head to enjoy/understand/feel what is happening right now. 2) I did a total disservice to those around me. I should have been fully engaged – fully in the moment and culling out that specific experience. Instead, I was only 90% there. Or 50%. Or 30%. How rude.

Too much of my life had been going on cruise control. What I did, what I felt, how I acted, what I ate, how I spoke, all of it was just so rote. I was not in tune with my environment – both internal and external. As a result, there have been ramifications. My relationships aren’t as close as they should be. My heath isn’t as good as it could be. And I’ve become withered by the nearly constant internal dialog that is perpetually dredged up about every negative thing that I did (or did not do) to myself or others. My God, it is a depressing and shallow way to live.

Hence I’ve begun a new path to be ever conscious of my immediate environment, my body, and my emotions (and their source). I’m more actively engaged and actually take physical stances to be more successful at remaining fully engaged and aware. While I’m not totally successful, I know that I am making significant progress from where I was before, and my interpersonal relationships are better than they were. I’m also not constantly kicking my own ass for stupid stuff I did in grade school. Oh yeah, it was that bad.

I have a long way to go, and much more to practice, but these last two weeks feel like I’ve lived my life far more fully, it seems, than I ever have. Let’s hope the progress continues.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2009 Minnesota Pheasant Opener

The season opener for pheasants was held last weekend, and the pheasants held the aces. In the freezing temps, they were going to need to feed, and feed aggressively. And, unfortunately for us, the corn harvest has not yet begun (we're likely weeks away), so over 100,000 of acres of unharvested corn in the county provided ample hiding spaces.

Despite this disadvantage, the Yellow Dog Patrol (Plus One Black One) resumed activity and were quite successful. We had four active hunters and bagged four birds, with a couple of roosters escaping to flush another day.

Overall, we flushed approximately 20 birds, and given the corn situation, that's a really good number. Our two food plots put in by our partner are a great food source and great cover, and should be bird magnets for the season, and a vital refuge for what appears to be a long and hard winter.

Here we are, on patrol.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

2009 Minnesota Duck Season - Week Two

Now this is more like it. You're witnessing the fruits of our harvest last Saturday in the upper Midwest. A massive cold front moved through the area, and subsequently drove birds out of Canada and other northern locales and dumped them on to us.

The benefit? Fantastic hunting, after the most dismal opener on record. The cost? Freezing our butts off in early October.

How cold was it? I'll let Fuzzy answer that one for me.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Barack Obama - Accolades without Accomplishments

From the "you have to be kidding me" file:

First Time magazine gives Obama a grade of "A-" on his performance thus far, then Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

After over a year of irrational and baseless swooning by established organizations (e.g. academics, traditional media, Hollywood, etc.) the magnitude of accolades without accomplishments has finally reached a point where a majority of the world can no longer ignore the insanity.

Here are some other awards that our esteemed leader should be winning in the near future:

  1. The 2009 Heisman Trophy
  2. Miss America
  3. American Idol
  4. The Pillsbury Bake-Off
  5. MTV Award (will Kayne West interrupt?)
  6. Olympic Gold Medal in Luge
  7. The Biggest Loser
  8. A Grammy
  9. World Poker Tour Bracelet
  10. The Westminster Dog Show

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Metrodome Magic Stikes Again

The win last night has to go down in Twins history as one of their most exciting. Both teams emptied the benches, punched, counterpunched, and played their guts out. If you are a baseball fan, regardless of your allegiance, you were thoroughly entertained for four and a half hours last night.

While it would be nice to celebrate this win, we can't. We now go to Yankee stadium where the Twins have a paltry 3 wins since 2007. 3 wins.

And that's the big issue. To Gardenhire's credit, he gets this team, somehow and some way, to the post season. To his fault, they always arrive in the playoffs woefully ill prepared to compete, and seemingly just happy to be there.

So we end an incredible end of a season - mathematically nearly impossible to achieve just a month ago - and we start a new postseason. Let's hope that the Twins don't leave their hearts in a champagne-soaked locker room. Again.

Jared Allen Rocks Green Bay

In the post-game evaluation, don't buy into all the hype on the Old Man. Indeed, Farve had a great game last night. However, the MVP on the field, and by a long shot, was Jared Allen. He was a wrecking crew, with 4 1/2 sacks, a critical forced fumble, and a more critical safety.

It has been since the 70's since the Vikings had a pass rush that fearsome. While I know that the Pack had significant injuries on the offensive line, the magnitude of dominance by Allen and his mates was still astounding.

4-0 feels really, really good.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Minnesota Duck Opener 2009 - This is a Birthday Gift?

What you see on this duck cleaning table is the harvest for my partner and I this weekend - a sum total of one hen mallard. In nearly every other year - strike that - in every other year, this table would be full of fowl to process and clean. This was the worst duck opener I've ever experienced, and by a significant amount.

Personally, I never harvested a duck. Again, this is something that has never happened to me before.

It was a pretty crappy way to spend my birthday. Pheasant season starts next weekend, so if waterfowl hunting continues its trend, at least the yellow dog and I can execute a fall back plan.

The yellow dog patrol will begin anew.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Australian Pink Floyd Minneapolis Concert Review and Set List

Last Friday I attended the Australian Pink Floyd show with my wife on Friday as a birthday present to me. For those unaware, Aussie Floyd is a cover band of significant renown that attempts to recreate the lighting, sounds, and mood of a Pink Floyd concert. They've developed an significant following, as their musicianship and production are impeccable.

As you can see from the photo, I landed fabulous seats, but unfortunately we were in very close proximity to the stacks, and the volume on a number of tunes was nearly too loud.

The following is the setlist (to the best of my recollection) - please forgive me if I have things out of order or excluded:

Speak To Me
On The Run
- The first three run together on Dark Side of the Moon, and that is how they were played, and in incredible fashion.
Time - Since I was there for my birthday, the lyric of "one day closer to death" seemed appropriate.
Great Gig in the Sky - The female vocals were shared, and sent chills up your spine. Hauntingly beautiful.
Shine On You Crazy Diamond Parts 1-5 - Not my favorite tune, but well executed
Welcome To The Machine - Another one I could do without.
Pigs (Three Different Ones) - My all-time favorite Floyd song. They included background singers on the song, which I didn't like that much, but the rest of the song was incredible.
Sheep - Was hoping they'd play Dogs instead, but this was still a good treatment.
Astronomy Domine - Really old Floyd, and you needed to be a hard-core fan to enjoy.
High Hopes - A favorite from The Division Bell
Take It Back - As close to pop as Floyd ever got, but this was executed well.
Learning to Fly - Another one from the version of Floyd without Waters. I was starting to wonder where the songs from The Wall were...
Fletcher Memorial - There are only two songs from The Final Cut that I like, and this was not one of them...
Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2) - I guess they just about HAVE to do this one...
Wish You Were Here - This was done while pictures of the guys from Pink Floyd flashed on the screen. I thought that was an incredibly classy act.
One Of These Days - The bass on this one just about drove us out of the building. For those of us in front of the stacks, it was really painful.
Hey You - We finally get to The Wall
Is There Anybody Out There - Well executed
Nobody Home - Done in dramatic fashion, with the bassist playing the part of "Pink," sitting at a chair in front of the TV with the episode of Gomer Pyle playing in the background. They synchronized for the, "surprise, surprise, surprise!" perfectly. Still don't know how they did that.
Vera - Since I was attending with my wife, this was a treat.
Bring The Boys Back Home - Well executed
Comfortably Numb - The guitar solo at the end of the song completely tore the building to the ground. Garnered a well-deserved standing ovation. I'm still feeling chills from it.
Run Like Hell - This was the encore, and not one of my favorites, so I took a page out of my dad's playbook and we headed for the door a song early.

They missed some favorites, as I would have liked to hear Dogs, When the Tigers Broke Free, The Final Cut, Young Lust (really wanted to hear that one) and The Show Must Go On, but I heard an awesome set nonetheless. It was an incredible show, and one that I'd love to see again. It was a great night.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The New Path?

I spent the last three days in an exhaustive team-building exercise in Chaska. I must admit that my thoughts going into the process were quite skeptical - I had done the "rah-rah" thing before, and given what was on my plate, I couldn't handle three days out of the office.

I could not have been more mistaken.

The process was an intensive one, with days starting at 6:30AM and finishing after 9:00PM with basically no time for breaks. It was built around a "ropes course," and leveraged the primal fear of heights to elicit human emotional reactions at the very core, and frankly, the incredible things I learned about others and myself through the process have the real opportunity for me to change my life. Yes, sports fans, I have drunk the Kool-Aid. And drunk deeply.

I'll be covering this subject in detail in subsequent posts under Performance Unlimited (also the name of the sports psychologists that conducted this training) and this coverage with be in part to share my experience and what it has meant to me, and part of it will be an attempt to keep me on this new path that I now tread. It may not be applicable to you, and if that turns out to be the case, I apologize. I have a small but loyal audience to this blog, and I do not take you for granted. However, one of the reasons I started this blog in the fist place is for me to have an outlet for what is raging in my head. And all of this is raging, and raging indeed.

The foundation of all of the training and the mindset, and the things which was so very revolutionary to me, is that in order to perform at the highest of all levels, either as an individual or a team, the following need to be present:

Awareness > Choice > Accountability > Honesty > Integrity > Trust

I present these the way that I do as I see these as a progression: One cannot really see choice unless they're clearly aware, one cannot accept full accountability unless they first recognize that there was indeed a choice, etc.

I intend to delve into each of these as subjects over the next months. I promise we won't load up too much on this, and there will be plenty of the other stuff you've come to expect. Also, I know I'm delinquent on my next installment on Blitz, and we'll be getting back to that soon as well.

Until then...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"One in the Well"

I spent some time today thinking of an old baseball coach of mine. Dave was actually the father of a friend of mine, and he coached us for a number of years through a number of levels of baseball.

Dave had some demons in his past, but during the entire time I knew and have known him, I knew him only as a wise, sober, thoughtful, and powerful man.

His power was renown. While most coaches hit flies to the outfield from a spot near the pitcher's mound, Dave hit his at home plate. If the grounds crew happened to be working on the plate at the time, then Dave just moved back and hit his flies from behind the plate. And at high school level fields, he hit them out from this distance. His steely eyes and massive forearms belied a man that took his work and his play seriously, and his presence often inspired the opposing team, once we reached base, to inquire "exactly who is that guy?"

As stated, Dave had made some mistakes, and paid dearly for them in his years. That gave him a very deep perspective on life, and he was quick to impart a nugget of advice to help get inside your head and try and make you more successful.

He always said one particular thing that I've kept with me all of these years. As we were playing defense, often when things got tough, and especially in a situation in which we were getting killed, at every out we got he'd bellow out "that's one in the well."

It always struck me - regardless how bad the inning or how poorly things were going, that last out we got was a step forward; a tangible example of progress. And the progress was to be noted, and hopes to be raised for next step forward we would eventually take.

In tough situations in my life, I've often called this image up for myself. I might be going through a tough series of days, but upon completion of one of them, I have at times been able to conjure up Dave's booming voice and acknowledge putting "one in the well."

Life can be hard. At times it can be damn near unbearable. But the beauty of it is that our pain will not last forever. We do heal, grow, learn, and go on. But when we're mired in the strife, it is difficult to see any progress along the path. The inning we're currently in might be an unmitigated disaster, but if you look real hard, outs are getting made. We just need to take time to look for them, and recognize them.

And tell ourselves, "That's one in the well," while moving forward in our quest to get another.