Sunday, February 8, 2015

We’re Dying Sicker Than We Used To in America

I know I’ll be revealing my age here but back when I was little we had aspirin and penicillin. That’s how we were healed from sinus infections, tonsillitis and fevers. We didn’t have the drugs we have today and I truly believe we’re dying sicker than we used to in America.

What’s Changed?

I have a friend who has an idea of why we’re not just dying from “old age” anymore and I’m starting to believe he’s on to something. Basically, all the new pharmaceuticals produced and researched over the years have found their way into our water systems. And, hard as we try, our city and town’s filter systems just can’t get them all out. They’re in our rivers and streams and groundwater so they are indeed in the water we drink. 

Of course there are acceptable amounts of toxins in all drinking water according to the FDA but I just don’t remember the elderly being so sick of so many different types of diseases when I was young—or the middle aged or the young for that matter.  

The Evolution of Pharmaceuticals

The drugs we are given by doctors today are also in our bloodstream (have been for years) and are now part of our genetics. We’re passing on diseases that are turning into new diseases to our children—and they keep developing—evolving if you will.

What used to be plain old tonsillitis are now Laryngoceles bulging, Peritonsillar absesses and Polychondritis! 

Yes America, we are dying from strange new diseases every day because the old diseases are growing into new diseases from the new drugs developed by scientific research. And, new drugs are causing people to develop cancers, diabetes, lymphoma, and I don’t even want to go into side-effects---but I do want to meet the guys and gals who are hired to list them all on commercials—boy they are talented and talk faster than fast!

I’ll Take a C-Section Please

My own family doctor believes we have an abundance of unnecessary C-sections because women want to skip the pain of natural child birth. I agree! It’s been pressed into our minds that natural child birth is the only way to give birth (without drugs) so instead of the pain, just ask for that C-section. Now for all of you out there that had necessary C-sections, I apologize. 

Let’s See My Mother Has…

My mom was never sick when I was growing up. She had some issues with weight but then lost weight and then in her early 50s was diagnosed with adult on-set diabetes (which runs in our family). Diabetes is also one of those old-fashioned diseases—but there are those that believe they now have diabetes because they took Lipitor. You can get in on a class action lawsuit if you also believe!  But I digress.

Back to my mom. By the time she hit her mid-60s her body starting acting up. She had high blood pressure, heart disease, essential tremors (think Katharine Hepburn here), high cholesterol and more! She took pills for everything and then everything went downhill from there.

She got throat cancer. She had a mysterious illness no one ever could diagnose but resulted in many hospital stays, weight loss and motor skills, and a stay in a rehab center so she could use her arms and legs again. She’s had radiation which ruined her epiglottis and now she can’t swallow food so she has a tube and has to feed herself four times a day and yep---she must crush all those pills and throw ‘em in her food mixture and take those too! Pill after pill after pill—from her mid-60s on—are making my mother sicker and sicker. I say give her aspirin and penicillin and see how she does from there.

Yes, we’re dying sicker than we used to in America and while I’m not doctor or scientist, when I see an advertisement for a new drug with all those side-effects I always laugh and say to my husband “Where do I sign up for that?” 

I especially love the toxic drugs that fight more than one type of disease that have nothing to do with one another—or do they? Hmmm?

I guess I’ll die really sick from something which reminds me of a college English professor I had who scared the crap out of every 19-year-old in the room. He walked in, looked us all over and promptly said. “I am dying.” Then he pointed to some of us the class and said “You are dying.” His lecture when on to say we are all dying from something. Right as we sat there was some horrid bump, disease or bubble growing inside of us that would one day kill us. Left me shaken really and I found no point in it all except now that I’m older he wanted that shock value—just because he could I guess.

So as your look at your morning, afternoon  and evening pills, before you take them, ask yourself what you’ve passed down to your kids genetically. Then ask yourself how those genetics will evolve into something even bigger in the next generation and the next. Heck, maybe we’ll all turn back into apes. Hmmm?

Friday, October 17, 2014

I Really Don’t Have Time to Write, But I Have an Ebola Bomb Shelter!

I was talking to a client today who hadn’t visited my website and asked what the name of my company was. I told him “Don’t Have Time to Write.” A pregnant pause was perhaps too pregnant of a pause but that was okay. Actually my company offers inbound marketing services for another business I won’t mention here, but I guess the client was confused and thought I worked for the second business.

I was talking to a client today who hadn’t visited my website and asked what the name of my company was. I told him “Don’t Have Time to Write.” A pregnant pause was perhaps too pregnant of a pause but that was okay. Actually my company offers inbound marketing services for another business I won’t mention here, but I guess the client was confused and thought I worked for the second business.

Actually, I really don’t have time to pen anything these days. I’m editing, searching for keywords, posting to social media for so many clients, sending out newsletters and inserting just the right images for their blogs. I have a team of writers that do have time to write that makes my job much easier and when I did have time to write, I wrote a lot of stuff about our country, the economy and our politicians. Oh I threw in an NFL post here and there and got mad at Lance Armstrong and went on rant. I loved writing about the New England Patriots because I really dislike the team and had fun penning just the right words to describe Bill Bellacheat as I call him and Tom Bradylicious—another of my favorite names.

Could I Write About the Ebola Scare?

No, plain and simple. I don’t know enough about it but it’s all over social media and the Web. There are so many laypeople who know nothing about Ebola offering opinions on how we will all soon have it. In truth, it’s sort of boring reading the “highly-cited” articles on Ebola because chemistry and science was never my thing.

Ebola boring? It sort of is to me. I guess I’ll really fear it if I talk to my family doctor (I really trust him) and he says, “prepare for the worst,” then I’ll head to my bomb shelter with hubby and our five dogs and no I won’t let anyone at all in.

You Don't Have a Bomb Shelter?

I’m surprised at how many people don’t have a bomb shelter—or a plan—or a place to go in an emergency.  If you don’t have a place, while you aren’t welcome in mine, the Ebola virus should make you think about building one and then making a list of who you would allow inside of it.

As a young adult the scare of AIDS was ever-present and years back it was Polio—all of us baby boomers have a polio vaccination mark on our arms to prove it. Of course I have to be different and my polio vaccination mark is very hard to see. My mom used to draw a ring around it to prove I had one but I still can’t see it to this day! Maybe my parents skipped my shot because they thought I’d be safe, being the youngest and all.

Mom: “Dad she doesn’t have a polio vaccination. What should we do?”

Dad: “Just draw a circle with a pen in the general area—everyone knows you at her school, they’ll believe you.”

Mom: “Okay, hope we don’t get caught.”

But alas I do believe I have one because my mom has this little brown book with our shot records (there are four girls in my family) and where it says “Polio vaccination” my box is checked! Hmmm?

But do think about a bomb shelter and yes that list of guests to invite is so important!

My List Is Short for a Reason

I have two daughters that are both married. Since they are both married I have two grandchildren from each. So in total, that would be SIX more people to invite into my Ebola-proof shelter and none of them live near me in Austin. That means they’d have to fly on planes to get here—or drive and stop at many gas stations and would be out interacting with others and all that. So, no they didn’t make the cut—sorry girls and say sorry to your husbands and kiss the grandkids for me.

I do think my hubby is safe to invite because if he does catch it, I’ll catch it and we’ll be together at the end. Our five dogs must also come because we’ve prepared for them to be there—dog food, water, beds, etc. and I wouldn’t trust anyone with them at all! It’s still an unknown whether dogs can catch or pass along Ebola but I feel my dogs are safe—heck they are with me all the time and when I say all the time I mean all the time.

To my beloved sisters who may read this I’m sure your first thought will be—you do too have time to write! And, of course your second thought will be, why aren’t we invited? What about our kids and grandkids? Sorry gals no can do!

That’s about all I have time for today. I really am busy. Funny how I get a few minutes only on Fridays where I think: I should write—about something—anything! But that’s also tough to do because I could be posting blogs, fixing SEO or working on another client task. I’m never really “done.” But that is okay because I love my job.

Happy bomb shelter building and believe me, I won’t be offended if I don’t make your list because there is only one person on my list and yep, I’ve got his back.

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 Pet Peeves from Jean Loves You Long Time

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted to my blog—let’s just say I’ve been busy and for those who waited for me to boo the Steelers, I simply didn’t have the time. But alas 2013 has come and gone and how could I miss pointing out my top pet peeves for the year?

Gun Control

I know this is a top pet peeve for many and as we ride into 2014, there’s still no great way to deal with this problem. I sort of like actor Richard Dreyfess’s idea—let the NRA handle it, they are the gun experts after all—at least that’s what he told an interviewer. Let them decide who is sane enough to own a gun responsibly and what type.

If the U.S. Government, state governments and local governments would pay more attention to mental health care, we probably wouldn’t have all of these mass shootings. Sure, there are probably some people out there that a doctor would say is legally sane, but for the most part, these people are paranoid, depressed, have lost hope, or are angry from deep inside their brain.  Since doctors know the least about the brain, I guess no government wants to fund a program that would help these folks.

Shame on them. Shame on Texas too—(and I swear this is true)—those applying for a gun permit no longer have to supply their social security number. Now that’s really smart!

Honey Boo Boo

I have never watched an episode of anything starring Honey Boo Boo and don’t plan to. Why is this child and her family famous? Okay all the people living in by God West Virginia, it’s not that great of a show, so grow up, watch 60 Minutes or Jeopardy and live up to your potential.

Shows About Alaska

There are so many shows about Alaska I can’t keep up with them—and my husband watches ALL OF THEM. Our DVR is full of Alaska men who cut down trees and Alaska men who survive in the wilderness. There’s a sort of reality show where teams of outdoorsmen—and women are dropped off by a plane in remote parts of Alaska and have to find their way to the landing zone or else they’re off the show.

There are Ice Cold Killers in Alaska and a pawn-shop show called Wild West Alaska. I don’t know if Flying Wild Alaska will be back, but those pilots on that show scared the crap out of me.  You can watch shows about gold miners in Alaska and then there are those who found no gold in Alaska—but are still on the same show—and instead, are in the jungles of Guyana looking for gold—which has now changed to diamonds because they can’t find gold…enough already! Oh and I hear a new Sarah Palin show is on the way—great.

Pet Abuse

I have six dogs and I often say it’s because I don’t want seven, but the truth is that it is the number of Super Bowl titles my beloved Steelers have won. Still, there are too many people out there who abuse pets so bad perhaps we need to look a little deeper into who can own a dog and who can’t?

I wish some of my neighbors would not leave their dogs outside in their yards on chains all night long. Sure it’s Texas but it was 13 degrees one night not long ago. One poor dog barked the entire night. Why not put the owners out on the chain, throw them a blanket and tell them not to speak all night—yeah that might just work.

Please don’t adopt or take in any animal if you don’t want it, love animals or think it would be neat to get it high or shoot it with a paint ball gun. Animals do have feelings and brains and emotions. Too bad they can’t tell you what asses you are.

Well that’s about it for my 2014 pet peeves here at Jean Loves You Long Time. I hope you all are ready for more on the same drama from Washington DC in 2014 because I don’t see things changing much.

Anyone want to go live in Europe?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 0-4 for the 2013 Season: Coincidence or Bad Play?

After last week’s  debacle in London and another loss—this time to the Minnesota Vikings, the Pittsburgh Steelers certainly aren’t looking like the 6-time Super Bowl winners of days gone by. Are the Steelers just that bad or is there something else going on?

Don’t Compare Apples to Oranges

The Steelers team that won the first four Super Bowl titles is not the same team we have today. Even the team that won our last two  Super Bowls titles against Seattle and Arizona is not the team we have today.

It irks me a bit when people compare how the Rooney Empire must be embarrassed, horrified and angry this 2013 team sucks. Even Big Ben has said the Steelers are “The worst team in the league.” Sad really. We are not a sad team, we are a team in transition. Remember how long it took for San Francisco or the Saints to be great again?

Still, forget those old championship teams my fellow fans and start concentrating on this team. What should we expect from them?

Ben Has No Protection

We lost a lot of old players this year and The Nation already knew Ben’s offensive line was bad before the regular season even started so the number of sacks he’s endured—not his fault. He still gets out of the pocket and can mess with the defense when he wants to—but he can’t do it all alone.

I think the entrance of offensive coordinator Todd Haley was to:
  • Get Ben more protection.
  • Get Ben to get rid of the ball faster and concentrate on short “California-style” throws.

As far as number one: Our offensive line isn’t strong and if it’s not strong, it can’t protect Ben so apparently these guys didn’t get Todd Haley’s memo.

When it comes to number two: Ben is Ben and it’s hard to change his style of play. Peyton Manning will always throw the long passes—so will Tom Brady. Ben is good at those too but not when he has no protection or is on his back after a sack. And, if the wide receivers are looking for glory and praise, they need to again—reread the memo and be thankful for short pass receptions.

Don’t Give Me Those 1968 Stats

If I hear one more sportscaster say the Steelers haven’t been 0-4 since 1968 I shall throw something at my television. That’s nice guys—really make them feel good—again, comparing apples to oranges.

Comparing players from one era to the next is simply not prudent. I mean take Joe Montana—best QB ever in my opinion but no one is comparing him to Colin Kaepernick right—good thing too!

I’m happy to see Terry Bradshaw talk about Nutri-System and it’s okay for Joe Montana to sell me joint juice—they are nearing their golden years and while we will always worship them, they are not the players of today, nor are the rules the same.

The Rules Have Changed but Fear Is a Big Factor

Over the years NFL Commissioner “King” Roger Goodell (and others) have implemented new rules to ensure players are safe. No more of this:

Lynn Swann – “Whew, what day is it?” After a shot to the head.

Coach – “Do You know what year it is?” Or, “What’s your momma’s name?”

Lynn – “It’s 1979 right?" and "Why you're my Momma! Hi Momma!"

Coach – “Get back in there, you’re good to go.”

Now players can’t employ the same aggressiveness, tackles have restrictions, concussions are a big problem (and they should be) and even though players wear all those pads and a helmet, there’s the new helmet to helmet rule that some refs catch but most ignore.

This “generation” of players is different as far as life goals. They don’t want their bodies to look like Joe Namath’s! They don’t want Montana’s joint juice! They don’t want brain damage to the point suicide seems like a good option!

They have families and wives and girlfriends. They have stuff to do and people to meet and goals for their future after football.  They “fear” the tough, career ending injury and some that are injured in a scary way but then healed, never play the same again.

Accept the New Generation

As the Steelers transition, the fans of Pittsburgh need to do two things:

  1. Realize your heroes of the last two Super Bowl wins are old and tired.
  2. Realize the new generation doesn’t want to practice or listen to coaches. They’d rather get tweets on new plays than read a playbook. They want to share their new clothing line on Facebook. They make so much more money  than players did in the old days; they’re thinking of ways to build a business, restaurant or invest in something. They also have to handle all their needy family members who  want their money. They also don’t want five day work weeks—three is more like it with tons of breaks. They want to listen to their iPods and be carefree. They are invincible but also unrealistic. They are talented but naïve.

What Will You Do?

We can post how sad we are that the Steelers are 0-4 so far in 2013. We can cry or complain or start cheering for the Pirates who are in the playoffs—or the NHL is now in preseason so start cheering for the Penguins.

I say just let the coaches figure it all out—part of that problem may be our coaching staff also doesn’t understand these talented yet naïve players either.

If you do remember the Bradshaw, Swan, Lambert, Harris, Ham and Mike Webster days—it’s time to let go. If you are younger and think the Steelers of today are same team that conquered Arizona and Seattle—it’s time to let go.

The Steelers of today are more the team that lost the Super Bowl to the Green Bay Packers.

I’m just saying….

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Problem with NFL Uniforms—It Is Not Just the Players

Rebook and the NFL have split and now it’s Nike making the players NFL uniforms but there are some problems—at least in my opinion—and it’s not just the players who are looking awful in some of the new gear.

Changes or Mistakes?

So far, other than switching manufacturers there were some changes made by certain teams.

The Jacksonville Jaguars “updated” their logo and I don’t mind this new logo. Gone is that old “cartoony” look and a new vector-crisp logo is all the rage.

The Miami Dolphins changed their logo as well. Again, Dolphin fans should be happy here because instead of that “Flipper” dolphin, the new fish is crisp and clear.

The Minnesota Vikings updated their logo as well but here I feel like I’m playing that game, “One of these things is not like the other.” What’s really different here? This logo still has the cartoony feel.

The San Diego Chargers “tweaked” their uniforms. Apparently the San Diego Chargers owner has tons of money to waste because now they’ve have three different types of uniforms, but in my eyes that “powder blue” has to go!

Finally, the Tennessee Titans changed their uniforms but again, I can’t tell much of a difference. No man who is on the gridiron should be wearing blue—any color blue except maybe navy blue.

But I digress….

The Problems

First off, every team has those horrid “throwback” uniforms and I must say the Pittsburgh Steelers lead the league, although the Denver Bronco’s throwbacks are pretty terrible as well.

So the players are set, the teams have decided on color and logo changes but the big problem lies with the poor coaching staff. Take the Kansas City Chiefs for example. They are all about red but new head coach Andy Reid doesn’t look good in red—he looks like a big red apple out there. Can’t the team give him a more flattering black top with a red Chief’s logo? Jeez.

There is something wrong with Bill Belichick and his choice of attire as head coach of the New England Patriots. Apparently, Bill must just have one favorite top because he wears the same monk-like top—rain or shine, cold or hot. With the Pats losing some good players this year and Tom Brady acting up like a fool, it might be time for Belichick’s wife to “Do Her Job” and start choosing his attire on Sundays.

I don’t like powder-pull-like colors and the Dolphins, Titans, and the Chargers all fall into this category for me. Their coaches look bad too. Give coaches black tops with a small powder-blue logo—give them some style.

Living in Austin poses a problem for me because there are so many Dallas Cowboy fans here—or Houston Texans fans. The Cowboys pants are shimmering blue and plain ugly and the Texans like some other teams are all about the red, white and blue—too many colors going on there for me. I was born in Pittsburgh, lived in Shadyside and Morningside and left in 1989 so you can tell I’m an old fart—I mean fan—and remember the Bradshaw, Harris and Lambert days. You can’t be from Pittsburgh and not be a Steelers fan—you just can’t.

Some of my family that moved to Phoenix, Arizona will cheer for the Cardinals if the Steelers lost that day. Unless of course it’s the Cardinals and the Steelers playing, they will root for the Steelers. I don’t understand this—either you’re loyal to the “Burgh” or against it—MAKE UP YOUR MIND FAMILY!

The Good

There are uniforms I like. Of course here at JeanLovesYouLongTime we will always love the black and gold but here’s the problem I have. We are supposed to bleed black and gold if we are part of the Steelers Nation. However, the uniforms are black and “yellow” not “gold” like the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins. The Terrible Towel is yellow and black—not gold. I guess, saying black and “gold” sounds better than black and yellow huh?

There are some uniforms I just adore. I like the Baltimore Ravens uniforms because the player’s butts look awesome—same with the Seattle Seahawks. And, of course I shall always support the black and yellow uniforms of the Pittsburgh Steelers even if some of their butts look like Big Bird. In fact, I support my team so much I dyed a portion of my hair black and yellow at the Aveda salon I go to here in Austin and win or lose, that’s my team and I’m sticking to my decision to “alter” my hair.

I fear this year and perhaps a few in the future will be “transitional” years for my beloved Steelers. We stupidly fired Bruce Arians as our offensive coordinator and now we have Todd Haley who apparently promised the Rooney family his methods would help Ben Roethlisberger from getting sacked so much—short throws, skip the long throws and above all—no extending the play and running out of the pocket.

Ben was sacked five times in the season opener so either he isn’t listening to Todd Haley or he doesn’t care or, it’s impossible for Ben to change. Perhaps Todd Haley is the wrong offensive coach for the Steelers, which is what I believe. Ben will always be sacked—a lot because he does extend the play. And, our offensive line is so awful how can he not get sacked?

Fans of the Steelers may kill me here but this won’t be our Stairway to Seven year—nor will it be next year. Many of our players are old and that does count—I mean joints and knees and shoulders ache more the older you get. Troy Polamalu is not the player he used to be, nor is Ike Taylor. Larry Foote is out for the season and center Maurkice Pouncey once again is injured and out for the season. Our savior at running back Le’veon Bell is injured and well, the list goes on and on. Our awesome Tight End Heath Miller is also injured. I don’t expect Ben to win another Super Bowl, but I can envision Landry Jones willing one for the Steelers down the road.

I have rambled enough I suppose but in the interest of HD Televisions sets everywhere, please let the coaches—especially the overweight ones, wear black with a little logo graced with the team color. Sorry Andy Reid, I feel your pain.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Pittsburgh Steelers Face Transition Year in 2013

As much as I’d love to say the 2013 Steelers team will make The Nation proud and obtain that Stairway to Seven (7 Super Bowl titles), I don’t think it’s going to happen this year.

Both the offense and the defense have some big holes to fill with the release of Rashard Mendenhall, Mike Wallace, James Harrison and Willie Colon—among others.

My heart breaks most for the loss of Harrison but I am curious to see if King Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner will fine him just as much once he’s wearing a Bengals jersey.  I still worry if they’ll sign Casey Hampton and if old reliable Health Miller will be ready to play when the season starts (ACL injury and surgery).

It’s sad to see backup QB Charlie Batch gone, but I really think the Rooney’s have kept him around for his charitable contributions—you done good Charlie and made Homestead, the City of Pittsburgh and The Nation proud.

During the 2013 Draft we acquired safety Shamarko Thomas and while it doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily as Troy Polamalu, let’s be honest here. Troy is hurt more than he plays.

We signed veteran QB Steve Gradkowski but he’s been with four teams, (Bengals, Raiders, Buccaneers and Browns) and his entire career passing stats for all teams combined is around 4200 yards so I’m not so impressed with him. Glad to see Byron Leftwich gone and please sirs, no more Dennis Dixon!

And, for any of you holy people out there, sorry we don’t want Tim Tebow—let Bill Bellacheat—oops Belichick in New England show him how to cheat to win, oh the thought! I should be Tebowing after that comment the good Catholic that I am!

I am excited about rookie QB Landry Jones. He’s tall like Big Ben and I predict right here that he will steal the backup QB spot from Gradkowski—easily.

Training camp is a bit away but it’s going to be quite the challenge and I’m still not sure how I feel about Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator. I guess I’ll have to learn to love him but right now I’m still on the fence because he seems mean and yelling to encourage does not help players emotionally.

The biggest hole to worry about is the safety positions. Polamalu  plays the type of style that causes injuries and they say Shamarko plays a similar style. Who’s left? Robert Golden and Cromartie-Smith? Ugh I say! If both Shamarko and Troy got hurt during the same game, imagine the pain we’d go through.

There will be tests of performance during training camp and the pre-season but nothing is like an NFL game that counts so will the Pittsburgh Steelers be ready to play and win in 2013?

I’m not so sure but if the question were posed to Coach Tomlin, he’d probably say hell yes. The debater that he is allows him to look at life differently than most I think.

It’s going to be hard to wait for football season to start. Somehow, I’ll get through I suppose—I mean there is always Pittsburgh Dad and his Tuesday episodes. What’s really going to be exciting is if my daughter has her baby on a game day (due in October). Watch the game, see the newborn? Hmmm?

What would you do? 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Iditarod--The Last Great Race

The Race: Not for the Faint of Heart 

As early as late August, mushers looking to enter the Yukon Quest and Iditarod start training their dog teams for next year’s races. Along with these two 1,000 mile events (the Iditarod is 1,100 miles), the mushers can’t depend on snow and sled and instead use 4-wheelers to train and evaluate many dogs.

As Ken Anderson told me on how the final dog teams are chosen, “We can take up to 24 dogs to Anchorage (the start of the Iditarod) and often we don’t make the decision on our final 16 dogs until the day before the race.”

Lance Mackey was in the process of training one of his 7 teams when I visited and said, “I like to start training on September 1 because the dogs are athletes too and they need a break, just like me.”

Perhaps Mackey is well known more than Anderson, but both are amazing athletes in their own rights. Both the Iditarod and Yukon Quest are not for the faint of heart—it takes some hard training and adapting to very, very cold weather for many days—but the dogs, “they love it,” says Mackey, “even some of my retired dogs I let go out for a run because they love the sport.”

So I began my journey into the culture of the dog teams and what makes an Iditarod musher tick.

Image Credit: The Author and Lance Mackey (Alan Warren)

Shocking Pooches

At first glance, the kennels of both Anderson and Mackey seem a bit harsh to the non-musher. Dogs are left outside and chained to individual dog houses. As soon as I arrived, the dogs began to swoon, bark, cry, and jump, which is very intimidating, especially when you realize Mackey has about 100 dogs and Anderson around 50.

While I waited for Lance to return from a run with a team of dogs, one of his handlers, Braxton Peterson greeted me and led me to new puppies, teen pups, and I was introduced to the infamous like Larry, Maple, and Zorro. Braxton points out that, “almost 80% of our dogs have Zorro blood.”

Once you weave through the kennels the dogs become a little quieter. They love human contact and it shows. Each one more affectionate than the next. You lose that cautious feeling and become one with these champions and realize how extreme the Iditarod really is.

Image Credit: Mackeys Comeback Kennels (Alan Warren)

Iditarod Race Beginnings

Mackey has won the Yukon Quest and Iditarod 4 times—a record. Anderson remains a tough contender for Mackey each year in both races.

The story goes that the Iditarod of today began in the mid-1970s. A twist of the mushers of old days who took supplies and needed meds to outposts that trains, planes, and autos could not go—or no man for that matter without a sled and a team of dogs. Mackey’s father was a founder of today’s Iditarod which starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome Alaska each March.

An interesting twist to the Mackey story is that Lance’s father Dick Mackey won the race in 1978 wearing bib #13, his brother Rick Mackey won it in 1983 wearing bib #13, and Lance won it in 2007 wearing bib #13—a lucky number for the Mackeys for sure. Lance hasn’t lost the Iditarod race for the last 4 years and plans on winning #5 in 2011. No musher has won 4 times in a row let alone 5. In fact, many mushers of late envy Lance, his dogs, his enthusiasm, and his drive.

Through 1,100 miles, the mushers face snow, wind, ice, wildlife and checkpoints. Each must deliver food and straw for the dogs at each checkpoint and if a dog gets injured or becomes ill—the team size falls and the musher and the rest of the pack push forward. Vets check dogs at every checkpoint and local crowds cheer their favorites.

I’ve watched the Iditarod on the GPS tracker the Official Iditarod Insider offers (you can find it here), and it’s quite addicting. Before the GPS tracker, everyone waited for radio updates, but now you can follow your favorite team 24/7.

When they reach the burled arch in Nome Alaska, the Last Great race is won and often only a second or a few minutes can separate the winner, second, and third place. Run by both men and women from all over the world, the Iditarod is not a million dollar race that lasts for a few hours or even a day. Leaders can finish the race in 9 to 10 days enduring cold, harsh conditions, and booted dogs that are eager to run for their mushers—it is after all, the life of these athletes; both human and canine.

A good purse these days for this race is around $69,000 and recently a truck is given as well as some other unique prizes based on accomplishments along the way. A small purse for a large and enviable task and it gives one pause if you look at what NFL quarterbacks make today for half a day's work that's not this tough.

Image Credit: Mackey's Champion Larry (Alan Warren)

Super Hero Mackey

It’s amazing enough to consider even attempting or finishing the Iditarod, but when one looks at Mackey’s career, it’s enticingly amazing. A throat cancer survivor, Lance has a scar on his next from surgery years ago. His doctors tell him that one false swoop (or nick in the neck) is problematic and could cause real damage—even peril to this musher.

That doesn’t seem to stop the man or his dream and to meet him, you feel his earthiness, his genuine love for his dogs, and his uniqueness. You sort of know he wouldn’t like the big city—he’d most likely hate it. He once missed a banquet that would provide race winnings to be with his stud and team leader Zorro who was hit by a drunk snow mobile driver—they gave him the money anyway and rightfully so.

He’s married to a childhood sweetheart Tonya and when I visited his kennels, he was helping to train Jamaican Newton Marshall for the 2011Iditarod.

When you visit mushers like Anderson and Mackey, it’s not standoffishness you feel, although a little of that is there. Anderson told me that the local grocery store in Fox Alaska has stopped telling people where Mackey lives to give him some peace. Both men were eager to return to their dogs, return to a run—and get back to work. It’s their life and career and they love it.

I’m glad I made the trek to Fox Alaska and met these two mushers, something not many people get to do. You can email both mushers atAnderson’s Windy Creek Kennels and Mackey’s Comeback Kennels, but to really appreciate the Iditarod and what these mushers do, visit the Iditarod official website.

As I drove away, I wondered if the purse for this race would indeed rise in the upcoming years, but since there are still many people unaware of this crazy culture, it may remain as is. I for one will be giving both Mackey and Anderson a call—it’s very easy to become a sponsor and something I want my company to do for this sport and these mushers. What makes an Iditarod musher tick? One visit to these kennels or following one race and musher will endear you to this sport—for a long, long time. I was thankful to return home to Taos New Mexico and kiss my six pound-saved dogs. As I touched each one I whispered—“you may not be able to mush, but you’re a champion in my heart.”

Image Credit: The Author & Champion Zorro (Alan Warren) 

Friday, February 22, 2013

The State of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the 2013 Season

I haven’t written much my on sports blog lately—I’ve been sad the NFL season is over, sort of pissed the Ravens won the Super Bowl although I am glad San Francisco didn’t win and have the same number of Super Bowl titles as my beloved Steelers—that would be SIX for you who are unaware!

Once football season ends, it’s sort of like blah, blah time. Oh, there’s cheering on Tiger Woods and checking out some of the new TV shows the networks have been putting off until the Super Bowl was over, but February is sort of a slow, sad month for me—because I don’t particularly like basketball.

I am glad that hockey is back and I hope this year the Penguins do better—they absolutely must win all the games versus the Philadelphia Flyers because I have a friend in Philly and he needs the teasing—badly. Or, maybe I just like to tease him—yeah that’s it.

It’s too soon for baseball and those of us who are DIRECTV Superfans begin to wonder where we’ll get the $300 or so bucks for the next NFL season because we must have the player tracker and the ability to watch 6 games at once (or is it 8?) The holidays are over and I don’t like watching the combines. I know the NFL Network is 24/7 but if I see A Football Life of Bill Belichick (Bellacheat) one more time, I may shoot the TV—yes I have a legal gun and no I’m not crazy.

But I digress.

The Bleacher Report

There is one saving grace, actually two. The Bleacher Report is a great way to stay up-to-date on everything football. If you haven’t signed up for email updates, I ask you what are you waiting for? Fantasy football drafting time? Just Do It!

The second is probably because it only covers the NFL and isn’t combined with other sports although they do throw in those top 10 cheerleader lists during the off-season and to me, who cares! The Steelers Nation doesn’t have cheerleaders and we don’t want them.

Are the Steelers Doomed in 2013?

I began to wonder after reading all my scintillating Bleacher Report updates if the Steelers are in trouble in 2013. So far, the reports from sportscasters (oh I love that word) think they are. Most of them do say, however, that with Big Ben at the helm, you never know.

I disagree!

It’s time for the old-timers to realize they are old—wait it’s time for the coaches to realize the old-timers are old. We need to draft well and start training the hell out of the rookies we already have.

I think the following need to move on:
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Troy Polamalu – Nice job dude, you’re awesome and all, but you are always hurt—go be injured somewhere else. You might look good in purple.

James Harrison – You don’t have the moves you used to so it’s time to head to California or Florida and help one of those doomed teams—you could be an asset there.

Charlie Batch – Your charity efforts for the “burgh” are bar none but it’s time for you to head to Homestead and well, stay home.

Brett Keisel – The NFL may “fear da beard” but it’s time to hang it up as well. You also have lost those moves and if all we can look forward to is how long your beard will grow, that doesn’t help the team much.

Byron Leftwich – Can someone please tell me why we have this back up QB in the first place? In almost every game where he had to step in, he hurt himself. Time to go bye-bye.

Mike Wallace – This guy isn’t old but his complaining mouth is—bye-bye to you too. To my friend in Philly, he would look nice in green.

This is quite the list and I’m sure many of my readers (and family) will shoot me—I fear the family the most because all of them as well have “legal” guns—well except for grandma, but we fear her just the same.

If we can get rid of these guys, do well in the draft and start making our rookies work harder, maybe, just maybe the state of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013 won’t be so bad.

On a final note and this one goes out to my friend in Philly. Why in the world did your team draft Dennis Dixon? We had him. He couldn’t play and he still can’t play. Can’t you find a QB that can play—I hear Carson Palmer is pretty good and he’s probably available—heck even Tim Tebow is better than Dixon.

Who do you think should go and please if you must leave me a nasty comment, at least begin it with “Pardon me for saying this….”

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Harbaugh (Super) Bowl and Roger Goodell Stupid Fines

Although I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan forever and ever—amen, I find myself pleasantly surprised the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers will be in Super Bowl XLVII—that’s 47 for those of you who hate Roman numerals. No matter which team wins, this bowl will forever be known as the Harbaugh Bowl because the coaches of these teams are brothers—bros, siblings, smack you in the teeth if you touch my Pac-Man game kind of brothers and whoopee!

I am cheering on the Ravens for this one because like the Steelers, they are part of the AFC North so why not? I also don’t like San Francisco—they are too wishy-washy, oh-so-west-coast, look-at-my-plastic kind of team and I haven’t even talked about their wives yet! They didn’t used to be this way, but after Joe Montana and Jerry Rice left,  they fell to the wayside, that team out west, those California pitch-passes; the pains-in-the-asses we have to allow in the NFL not the rough and tough teams most of us love to cheer for!

Okay, so you ask Jeanlovesyoulongtime, what are you really saying here—that you don’t like the 49ers? To translate the best way I know how:

If the 49ers win Super Bowl Extra-Large plus seven, they will indeed have as many Super Bowl titles as MY team, the Steelers. That would be SIX for you who do not know and I and the Steeler Nation want our Stairway to Seven and then 49ers—bring it on!

But, I still don’t want them to win. Jim Harbaugh is the coach of the 49ers and John is in charge of the Ravens. John seems tougher to me. I get the feeling his team respects him—or else. Jim on the other hand seems like he belongs in California, sipping wine on yacht—carefree as I wannabe and all that groovy stuff. 

You just can’t have coaches like that in the NFL. You need to be mean, feared and determined—not, “wow dude that was an amazing catch! Where’s my gum?”

To John, I say, heed the words of Ray Lewis—the kind of linebacker that could have scared the truth out of Lance Armstrong long ago if asked. John may be the coach, but Ray Lewis is the team leader. He encourages, prays a lot (so what?) and will  tackle as hard as he can in every game—even break or bend the rules of bit and he usually gets away with it.

So Jim and your 49ers, don’t worry come February 3, 2013—if you lose, there’s always Chai tea and kale chips so…..

Roger Goodell and His NFL Fines

Two NFL fines in the playoffs from the King of the World, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, in my opinion, were the stupidest fines I’ve ever heard of or seen for that matter. How far must this King go? Does he fear his kingdom doesn’t fear him enough anymore? Does he fear his rule may come to an end? Or, is he just as stupid as everyone thinks he is?—yeah he’s stupid.

The first fine went against Tom Brady, an elite quarterback for “kicking” Ed Reed. First off, Brady was trying to slide for a first down with the ball and his leg went up in the air and Reed happened to be standing there. Hey King Roger, why don’t you get out on the field and try doing a few QB slides and see if you do them perfectly—keep those legs inline at all times though! For real King Roger? Anyway, this Roger Goodell fine was $10K for Tom Brady and although I’m no Brady fan, this is a stupid fine.

Fine number two went to a San Francisco 49ers player who didn’t have his socks up high enough. Yes, you read that right—running back Frank Gore had his socks “cinched” I guess I’d say and King Roger says that is not appropriate attire! That will be $10, 500 thank you very much! What is this Roger? Are you a nun in a Catholic school?

I think the sock rule is in Section 40, subsection 10, item number A(1) in the official NFL rules but really? That’s like the old law still on the books in Wheeling West Virginia where you’re not allowed to run a vacuum cleaner on Sunday or you could end up behind bars—you know an on-the-books law nobody ever took off or enforces anymore.

WAKE UP KING ROGER and to you I say, step down—please!

We all shall see what happens in the Harbaugh Bowl in New Orleans but in my opinion the streets of New Orleans will be too much of a temptation for those Cisco boys—oooh-la-la!

Bourbon Street will entice them—what’s this or look at that! These guys are naïve in the world’s stage and that’s most likely because of where they live and play. Or, as my sister likes to say, “I’m glad I live in Arizona because when the big earthquake comes, I’ll have beachfront property!”

Amen sis, Amen!

Image Credit: Frank Gore - USA Today

Monday, January 21, 2013

Mayor of Austin Says Lance Armstrong Bikeway Won’t Be Renamed

Help me understand this fellow Austinites—the Mayor of Austin, Lee Leffingwell told KXAN reporter Angie Beavin, “As for the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, we have not heard any outcry from the cycling community or the public at large in Austin to change the name, and I know of no plans to do so.” 

The report by Beavin also offers Leffingwell supports the disgraced athlete: “Armstrong is a personal friend, a friend to Austin and a hero to millions of cancer survivors and their families.” Really people—the last one I can see, but as far as the first two go, dude what are you thinking?

Every fellow Austinite I know is embarrassed of Armstrong and wishes he would go quietly away.

A Rose By Any Other Name…

Unfortunately, the saying a rose by any other name would smell as sweet is not true for those naughty boys in sports like Lance Armstrong.

To me, the choice of Austin’s Mayor to not rename the Lance Armstrong Bikeway is like:

The Mayor of San Francisco at the grand opening of OJ Simpson’s Gun and Knife Shop—there’s stink in them there words!

Or, the Mayor of Newport News Virginia encouraging pit bull owners to choose Michael Vick’s Boarding and Training Center—really?

Or, the Cypress California Mayor stepping into the Tiger Woods Couples Counseling Center with his spouse—yikes I say!

There will always be bad people in sports, male and female, young and old who because of the errors, crimes, lies and faults will forever remain the naughty, the wicked and the unwanted.

Change the Name!

I’m not a member of the Austin Cycling Association but I do see many cyclists on the streets of Austin. I’m also proud of just how many streets are marked with clear bike paths and share the road signs. This is a true attempt by the City to encourage the sport of cycling whether it’s professional or a hobby.

Am I cranky about the bikeway not being renamed? You bet! I would much rather if this option were happening in another city other than Austin. But alas, it’s here where I reside!

So, I ask my fellow Austinites to weigh in here and offer an opinion. I don’t care if Lance Armstrong is a personal friend of Mayor Leffingwell.

Finally to you Mayor Leffingwell, I say rename the Lance Armstrong Bikeway—he’s a disgraced athlete who admits he’s got a lot of apologizing to do and perhaps that will take the rest of his life to accomplish. Don’t keep the name so the young just beginning their careers think of him as the best in the sport.

Think smart here Mayor Leffingwell; after all, it’s the voters of Austin that voted for you to run our city, not disgrace it!