The NFL has a steroid problem?

It looks like quite a few NFL players have tested positive for steroids. ESPN is reporting that the New Orleans Saints have three players, Deuce McAllister, Will Smith, and Charles Grant have tested positive under the NFL’s steroid policy.

NFL players are taking steroids? What’s next, an ESPN report that players on the road cheat on their wives?

Of course players in the NFL take steroids. Men don’t naturally put on as much muscle as the average NFL lineman or any of the other strength position players without taking extraordinary messages. That includes lifting lots of weights and taking lots of supplements, including steroids.

Steroids don’t make you stronger. They don’t give you more muscles. What they do is allow you to heal and recover quicker. That means you can lift a lot of weights and spend less time recovering in between workouts. Some people mistakenly think steroids allow you to work less, but the complete opposite is true. They allow you to work harder and more often. [ESPN]

Manage files better with muCommander

If you’re not a fan of your computer’s operating system’s file manager, you really ought to check out muCommander. There’s a version for just about every operating system known to man. Remember that alien computer system in the movie Independence Day? The one that Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum uploaded a computer virus onto while docking with the alien mothership? Well, I think you can even download a version of muCommander for that operating system.

The list of available versions is that extensive.

The interface allows you to easily move files between directories through a two-panel view.  I think there’s other options as far as the display is concerned, but the default two-lanel system works great.  I try using two panels with Vista’s Explorer and it’s hard to keep the two displays up at the same time.

This software is free and it’s much better.

The Robert Kirkman/Brian Michael Bendis debate

I almost went to the recent Baltimore Comic Convention for no other reason then to witness the debate between Robert Kirkman (left) and Brian Michael Bendis (right). For those that don’t know, both men are comic book writers. Kirkman writes independent books The Walking Dead and Invincible, while Bendis writes just about every book currently published by Marvel Comics.

I am exaggerating, but not by much.

Kirkman recently came under fire from comic book nerds for things he said on a video manifesto released on the Internet. He encouraged other comic book creators to stop creating books for Marvel and DC and to instead concentrate their comic book creating powers on their own works. He himself was working for Marvel up until a short time ago, but decided to concentrate on his own books.

Brian Michael Bendis evidently took exception to some of the things said by Kirkman not only on the before mentioned video, but on a podcast talking about the same issues. Kirkman had used Bendis as an example with many of the points he was trying to make. Specifically, that comic book writers shouldn’t expect to fallow in Bendis’ footsteps in that there is only one Brian Michael Bendis.

Brian Michael Bendis then appeared on the same podcast that Kirkman appeared on and disputed many of the claims that were made by Robert Kirkman.

Organizers of the Baltimore Comic Con decided to capitalize on the “feud” by having the two men debate their respective point’s of view.  I was thinking of going to the con to watch the debate until I realized I didn’t really care.  At least not enough to drive down to the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore, pay $30 to park, pay another $15 to get into the con, and then sit next to someone that probably hasn’t showered in two days while the two comic book writers debated.

I’ve heard what both Kirkman and Bendis have to say and I mostly agree with Kirkman.  I think it’s silly for someone who wants to write comic books for a living to simply aspire to write stories about the same old characters that have been around for eons.

It would be like someone wanting to write sci-fi novels and only aspiring to write Star Trek novels. Ironically, that is exactly what one certain comic book writer has done. He has written quite a few Star Trek novels.

I’ve really cut down on my comic book reading lately. I just haven’t felt like I’m getting my money’s worth. At $3 or $4 each, most comic books just aren’t worth it. Then again, if it took more then six minutes to read a comic, I might feel differently. I can spent $8 on a paperback novel and get hours and hours of enjoyable reading out of it. I can spend $30 at the funny book shop and maybe get an hour out of it. It just doesn’t make much economic sense these days to read comics.

Comics are cheaper to produce now then ever?

I read an article over on Newsarama where they ask various comic book creators to weigh in on comments made by comic book writer Robert Kirkman. The creator of Battle Pope, The Walking Dead, and Invincible advised his fellow creators to concentrate their efforts not on working for Marvel or DC, but on their own independent stuff.  He said that not only would it be better for the individual creator, but it would save the comic book industry.

My favorite was the comment made by comic book writer Chuck Dixon. He said:

I don’t worry about the “future of the industry.” There will always be comics. They’re cheaper to produce now than they’ve ever been and relatively easy to make compared to other media.

Back in the day, my brother and I would ride our bikes down the street to Hardy’s Liquor and buy a comic book. They were around 20 cents. Now, they are at least three bucks each. If Chuck Dixon is correct and comic books are cheaper to make now then they’ve ever been, why do they cost so much?

This is the worst obituary ever written

I can’t imagine what would motive someone to write such a hateful, mean spirited obituary. The following was written by the dead woman’s daughter and appeared in the Vallejo, California Times-Herald:

Dolores Aguilar
1929 – Aug. 7, 2008

Dolores Aguilar, born in 1929 in New Mexico, left us on August 7, 2008. She will be met in the afterlife by her husband, Raymond, her son, Paul Jr., and daughter, Ruby.

She is survived by her daughters Marietta, Mitzi, Stella, Beatrice, Virginia and Ramona, and son Billy; grandchildren, Donnelle, Joe, Mitzie, Maria, Mario, Marty, Tynette, Tania, Leta, Alexandria, Tommy, Billy, Mathew, Raymond, Kenny, Javier, Lisa, Ashlie and Michael; great-grandchildren, Brendan, Joseph, Karissa, Jacob, Delaney, Shawn, Cienna, Bailey, Christian, Andre Jr., Andrea, Keith, Saeed, Nujaymah, Salma, Merissa, Emily, Jayci, Isabella, Samantha and Emily. I apologize if I missed anyone.

Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.

Her family will remember Dolores and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times too. But I truly believe at the end of the day ALL of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I hope she is finally at peace with herself. As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again.

There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, GOOD BYE, MOM.

I hope there’s more to this story than some stupid petty squabble. I’d hate to find out this all stems from the time she wouldn’t let her kids get a puppy. I’m not sure if the daughter that wrote this speaks for her siblings. Maybe she should have signed her name to it.

How my former primary care doctor screwed me over

I thought I had my psoriasis licked. I was taking Raptiva, a medication I inject myself once a week. After taking it for two months, my hands were finally clear of psoriasis. It was in full remission.  It felt so good to have normal hands for a change.  I felt like a normal human being. No pain, no thick scaly areas, no cracks, no bleeding.

It was great.

All that changed when my former primary care doctor withheld a referral to continue seeing my dermatologist. When he originally referred me to see my dermatologist, he wrote a referral for 20 visits. Unbeknown to me, my insurance company refused to honor the referral for 20 visits. They required a new referral after every four visits.  I never knew this.  My dermatologist was contacting my doctor after every four visits to get another referral faxed to them.

To the best of my knowledge, the initial referral for 20 visits was still in effect.

When I arrived at the dermatologist’s for my appointment to gauge the success of the Raptiva, the person at the front counter asked me for my referral.  She proceeded to tell me about needing a new referral after every four visits and that my doctor said he would no longer issue a referral over the phone.  From now on, he would only issue them in person.  She told me that someone from my doctor’s office should have contacted me and told me this.

Nobody bothered to tell me.

This meant I could not be seen by my dermatologist.  This meant I could not continue taking the Raptiva.  I needed another prescription if I wanted to continue taking it.  That’s something I could not get without seeing my dermatologist.

I immediately went about looking for new doctor.  One that wouldn’t screw me over like that.  By the time I found one taking new patients and got an appointment to be seen and got a new referral to see my dermatologist, the psoriasis was back.  If anything, it was worse then ever.

I don’t understand why I need a referral to see a dermatologist. Psoriasis is a life long, chronic condition that I will have for the rest of my life. Seeing a dermatologist is something I will be required to do for the rest of my life. My insurance company knows this.

By requiring me to get a referral from my doctor, they are in a sense having him re-diagnose my psoriasis.  That’s something he is not qualified to do. If he was skilled and knowledgeable enough to diagnose psoriasis, he would be skilled and knowledgeable enough to treat psoriasis and I would not need to see a dermatologist.

It’s middle-man medicine.  Putting my primary care doctor in the process adds absolutely no value. It doesn’t make for better care.  All it does is drive the cost up.  By requiring me to come in and be seen every time I needed a referral, he gets to charge me a $30 co-pay along with whatever he bills my insurance.  It becomes an unnecessary obstacle to receiving quality medical care.