Sunday, April 30, 2006

Pensacola dreamin'

Heading off to Florida later this week to visit a Marine friend who is currently attending flight school at Pensacola. Should be fun.

I struggled this week to keep up with the Astros, due to my work schedule. However, they apparently were struggling a bit as well. Ensberg is hitting a dismal .194 in his last ten games, Andy Pettitte's ERA swelled back up to 5.25 after dropping briefly to 4.35 (I sure didn't see his early woes coming--what a surprise), and even Roy Wonder couldn't keep his streak going against the Reds, allowing 8 hits, 3 runs, and 3 BB in the 5-4 loss.

There were a few things I did notice this week--saw Ausmus get ejected in the bottom of the ninth against the Dodgers. I had just finally found a few moments to watch some of the game, so coming in cold, his ejection shocked the hell out of me. But the author of Astroday, having watched the entire game, had this perspective:

"Matters became worse for the Astros' cause in the bottom of the ninth when, batting against RP Takashi Saito, Brad Lidge was thrown out of the game by home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez for arguing balls and strikes. Whatever Ausmus said, he said it to the ground, as a good veteran will do, but Marquez heard whatever it was, as he was intended to, and tossed Houston's best catcher. It's unlikely Ausmus was fussing about pitches from Saito; they were ok. It's more likely Ausmus was quarreling about calls that Lidge did not get in the top of the inning; and it is possible that, even in the heat of the moment, Ausmus was trying to lay the groundwork for better calls by Marquez for Houston's pitchers in the tenth and beyond."

If that's even remotely true, Ausmus has my respect and admiration (well, actually, he has that already, plus like most of the female baseball-watching public, I think he's really hot. But that's another subject).

That very game marked the most visible evidence of the end of Preston Wilson's slump. I wasn't very excited when we first signed him, as I remembered his having struck out against our pitchers quite frequently while with the Nationals. But anybody who wants to play for the Astros as much as he apparently did gets a few points in my book. And he was valedictorian of his high school class, so he's no slouch in the brain department (notice the heading off of the "he must be dumb to want to play in Houston" comments). And he definitely endeared himself to me with four jacks in the first week. So, I was pulling for him to break out of the hitting doldrums. Apparently his teammates were as well, for when he hit a sac fly in the 14th for the winning RBI, they mobbed him at first base. (My thoughts were something only a sports fan could understand: "Awww, they're beating the shit out of him. Isn't that nice?") So after that response on Tuesday, I found it a little disconcerting that there was such an apparent lack of enthusiasm for Wilson's fifth home run of the year Friday night against the Reds. Granted, it wasn't a game winner, but nobody really met him at the dugout steps like they usually do, and while knuckle-touches and high-fives were bestowed, most of the players didn't even bother getting up off the bench. Then, while he spoke to Gary Gaetti afterwards, Gaetti didn't even make eye contact or smile during the conversation. Seemed very odd, although reports earlier in the week had indicated that Wilson had not really been keen on working with Gaetti during his slump. Hmm.

And how about that Taylor Buckholz? Got his second major league win today against the Reds, although he only went 6 1/3 innings (as opposed to 8 2/3 last time). I had text-messaged a friend: "Buckholz is pitching well but he looks tired in the face. Hope he can go awhile." My friend wrote me back: "But what is he, like 12? He probably just needs a nap."

But we love ya', Babyface!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Well, this is embarrassing. . .

You Are Corona
You don't drink for the love of beer. You drink to get drunk. You prefer a very light, very smooth beer. A beer that's hardly a beer at all. And while you may not like the taste of beer, you like the feeling of being drunk. You drink early and often. Sometimes with friends. Sometimes alone. All the party needs is you!

and not true, either.



Caught the Friday night and Sunday afternoon games at MMP. Today was fabulous, had a terrific time and of course greatly enjoyed the win. Surprised that the roof was closed, but I'll save my sunscreen for another day. Friday was not very enjoyable, on the other hand. While Wandy and the boys did a good job (although Load 'em Up Lidge made me nervous, as he is wont to do), the crowd was frankly obnoxious. They seemed to pay very little attention to the game itself and booed quickly and randomly. I was actually ready to leave after about 7 1/2 innings, but I stayed until the end. Wished I had gotten to see Taylor Buckholz's gem, but I'm sure I'll have other opportunities to see him this season. He pitched that Spring Training game I went to, and did quite well. His game score of 85 for his first Major League win puts him in second place in the National League in that category. Go Taylor!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Um. . . I dunno

I didn't watch the game last night, as I worked until 11 p.m. Didn't surprise me, though. Just as I thought the run dearth of last year was an (albeit, somewhat ongoing) aberration, I thought the offensive onslaught so far this year was somewhat the same. At least so far, the Astros have been making average pitchers look, well, average. Chris Capuano is not average.


The bullpen is not worried (yet). Thus, neither am I (so I try to convince myself).


When Biggio hit his first home run (in my currently drunken [yes, drunken] state, I tried to type "fun," as in home "fun"), he high-fived or knuckle-touched all the dudes in the dugout. Except, he gave a big spontaneous bear hug to Gary Gaetti. Significance?

UPDATE: The answer?


Just as I anticipated, I am firmly ensconced into the cellar of my fantasy league. Ah, well.


I caught the Tuesday game through six innings, therefore saw Mo's second home run of the evening. I knew the moment he swung that it was going out. I'm a girl, never played baseball, although a touch of softball, but never really a student of the batting swing. But there's just something about a ball that Ensberg sees well enough to take that big of a cut at--when he has that much of a follow-through, it's usually gone (or a painful-to-watch strike).


I didn't follow the Astros when Jim Deshaies pitched. However, I love him as an announcer. Dude is soooo funny!!! JDism's to follow:

Regarding an upcoming fan promotion:

Bill Brown: So Greg Lucas is going to tell us how to get a foam finger.

Jim Deshaies: I know how.

Brownie: Oh yeah?

JD: Yeah. Drive rudely at a Nerf convention.

Regarding Roy Oswalt stepping out of the batter's box, Astros up by 6 runs:

Brownie: Looks like Roy has something in his eye, J.D.

JD: Yeah, it's probably tears of joy for the run support.

New crush for me? Oh yeah.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Randomness, belated

I'm a bit late in mentioning this (gee, what a surprise there!), but jlauck at Astroday had the most marvelous post this past week. His essay was prompted by the absolutely beautiful Monday afternoon game in which the 'Stros finally overcame the Nats 5-4 in twelve innings. An amazing game and an amazing post. Definitely worth the read.

In other news, Brandon Backe went on the DL. In a way, I'm glad the MRI was positive. Backe had started to strike me as somene who claimed injury after any poor performance, so while I don't wish injury on anyone, I'm glad (in a way) that he's at least not crying "wolf."

Happy belated (again, no surprise it's belated!) birthday to the lovely Brad Ausmus.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Weekend thoughts

Went to the Saturday and Sunday games. Roof was open, weather was fabulous. Got a sunburn.

Spring is sprung.

However. . . could not effing BELIEVE that the crowd booed Chad Qualls Saturday night. The only thing I can figure is that, right now, a bunch of people are going to games because it's a "cool" thing to do. No doubt they have no clue about baseball. I mean it's the freakin' fifth game of the season, people. Get a grip!

Went to a Latin mass before Sunday's game, as my friend who accompanied me is Catholic and didn't want to miss Palm Sunday. I'm like, that's cool.

When it came time for the blessing of the palms, the priest said some brief words (unfortunately during which, I had a flashback to The Princess Bride. . . "Mawwiage. . . .")

Managed not to laugh, however (and I'm actually a spiritual person, despite the profanity and drunkenness, so please don't email me vicious things).

Anyway, he sprinkled the palms with holy water and proceeded to sprinkle the crowd. I thought, cool, I'm gonna get me some holy water.

But no.

In a scene straight out of Pulp Fiction, he missed me on both sides. Thankfully, I managed not to blurt, 'what the hell?' out loud. I'm thinking, "Can you tell I'm not Catholic or what? And if so, has it occurred to you that maybe I need it more than they do? Huh?"

Oh well.

I'm so blessed in so many other ways that I cannot complain.

La vita bella.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Opening day is tomorrow! Yippee! The ‘Stros won last night, 6-4, on a fabulous performance by Taylor Buckholz (7, 0, 5, 6, 0). I was a little worried he might succumb to nerves at Minute Maid (especially before a crowd of over 35,000) but he must have balls of brass. Anyone want to bet that Backe is sent down or waived by mid-May, and Buckholz moves up a spot (or two—the pressure’s on, Wandy!)?

Anyway, a while back I promised someone I would blog another post about an aspect of anesthesia. Actually, this is about a type of anesthesia—neuraxial anesthesia, i.e., spinal and epidural anesthesia. There are many applications for these techniques in anesthesia, not the least of which is labor and delivery. Spinal anesthesia is the technique of choice for cesarean delivery, providing the greatest margin of safety for both the mother and baby. Epidural anesthesia can also be used for cesarean, but is especially applicable to labor and vaginal delivery. Both techniques involve placing a needle into the back between the vertebrae, the idea of which is unpleasant for most people (doh!). The primary differences between the two techniques is the depth of needle placement, the types of medication used, and the fact that a small tube or catheter is left in place for epidural anesthesia. In this cross-section illustration, one can understand some differences. (The skin is to the right of the picture, so the needle will be penetrating the layers shown here from right to left.) With spinal anesthesia, simply put, a very small needle is placed between the bones, through the various layers, and through the dura mater (a tough fibrous covering over the spinal cord). The medication which is used is very concentrated and therefore a small volume, and because the needle goes through the dura, the medicine is placed more or less directly onto the spinal cord, although it is diluted by the cushioning fluid surrounding the spinal cord. With epidural anesthesia, a larger needle is used, and it is placed just short of the dura, into the epidural space (“epi” means “above” or “on top of,” so the needle goes above the dura). The needle has to be larger, because a tiny catheter is threaded through it into the epidural space, and left there while the needle is withdrawn. Because of the dura, the medicine pumped through the catheter doesn’t go directly onto the spinal cord, but instead bathes the nerve roots as they pierce the dura on their path to the body. A much higher volume of medicine is required, since it’s more indirectly applied. Also, since the catheter stays in place, the medicine can be continuously given over an extended period of time (such as labor), and more or less can be given to achieve the desired effect. (A spinal is a single-shot technique, no re-dosing without going through the entire process again.)

There are risks with both techniques, of course. With both techniques, your back will be sore for a day or two (just like your arm is sore after a vaccination). One of the risks with either technique is that it just might not work. Every person is different; the anatomy might just be slightly different, enough so that the anesthesia that results might be partial or ineffective. Another risk, since a needle is going into the back close to the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, is nerve damage. Another risk that bears mentioning is what is called a spinal headache. This is a very severe positional headache (only affects an upright person) that results from leakage of the cushioning fluid through the hole in the dura (also known as post-dural puncture headache). Because the needle used for spinal anesthesia is so small, the odds of a spinal headache after spinal anesthesia is actually quite small (counterintuitive, based on the names, huh?). The most likely time for a spinal headache is after epidural anesthesia, because sometimes the needle accidentally goes too deep (and the bigger needle makes a bigger hole, so more stuff leaks out). But not every person who experiences an inadvertent dural puncture will get a spinal headache. If a spinal headache occurs, it can usually be taken care with rehydration, caffeine, and if necessary, a procedure called a blood patch. (Blood from the patient is withdrawn from a vein and injected into the back where the hole is projected to be, which seals off the leak as it clots.)

All of these potential complications are very rare. The best way to help prevent them is to cooperate as much as possible with the person providing the anesthetic. While this sounds like a “duh” statement, it isn’t. The most important thing that a patient can do to facilitate placement of a spinal or epidural anesthetic is to be still. If you move while the needle is in your back, you greatly increase your odds of the needle going into a nerve or too deeply into your back. While this sounds like a simple thing, if your contractions are two minutes apart, it becomes a little more complicated. Also, the anesthesia provider will ask you to curl your back out toward them (think of a mad cat or a boiled shrimp). This position allows the bones in your back to spread out more, allowing better access to the space between them (think of an old-fashioned hand-held fan). Again, curling your back like that sounds simple—until you’re looking at trying to curl over a 40-week fetus. A little trickier.

Those are the most important points I wanted to mention. Considering that entire books have been written on these techniques, it’s obviously an incomplete discussion, but there it is.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be blogging in the weeks to come—I find it to be a fairly time-consuming pursuit, and I don’t really feel that I have much to offer, really, in coverage of the Astros or baseball in general. There are other great blogs out there that offer, if not the exact same "insights," then more consistent coverage, anyway, including live-blogging of games. I’ll keep up as best I can, as the team “inspires” me, but if nothing is here. . . um, sorry.