My Knee Surgery

Went pretty well thank you for asking, and quite a few people did, and the only reason I say that is because you should feel guilty if you didn’t know. There, I said it.

Kidding, of course, not that many people I knew I was having surgery, except for the people I see on a pretty daily basis. I guess that’s an effect of not having a Facebook, but, as usual, a welcome effect.

Anyway, the surgery. For me the entire ordeal started at two a.m. the morning before because that was the last time I was allowed to eat. Patients aren’t supposed to eat twelve hours before the surgery and mine was at two thirty p.m., so I had a small meal at one in the morning and that was it until five o’clock the next day. I know, not that bad, but still something to bemoan.

20110728-110834.jpgI tried to sleep as late as I could which is not something I do usually, I try to be up by nine a.m. every morning. I “slept” until about eleven thirty and then laid in bed finishing the Bible until around noon. Then I took a shower, donned comfortable clothes and no contacts, and scooted off to the Sport Medicine Associates building in the Medical Center to undergo my surgery. My mom and I arrived at the suite and checked in, and then got to talk to a very nice nurse/administrator who was very receptive to my hungry/delirious joke style at the time. I was basically mumbling.

After that I went back into the surgery area and they put me down onto a hospital gurney. A different nurse came and manscaped my knee, put in the IV, and went over all my personal details one more time to ensure that yes, they were operating on Mark Stenberg 08/24/92 Left Knee. Then the waiting began. My surgery was scheduled for 2:30, but I was read to go by about 1:35, and they didn’t end up performing the surgery until almost three exactly. It’s hard to do anything well or maintain a conversation when you’re cold, hungry, and have an IV in your arm, and so I sort of just slept. My parents were both back with me at this time, and we were cloistered off by a drape around my bed, so they just chatted it up. Which was fine, it kind of helped me sleep.

Around 2:50 a nurse finally pulled back the drape and came at me with a needle, typically a bad sign, but not in this situation. She injected me with the first round of happy juice and immediately–immediately–I felt way better. I love the cart ride back to the operating room because I always talk to the nurse that pulls me back; I have made that particular conversation a tradition over the course of my four surgeries. When she pulled me into the room all the surgeons were waiting because I was their last surgery of the day, and I’m pretty sure the word “shortcut” was mentioned a few times. Last thing I know they gave me another injection that HURT but put me to sleep.20110728-110840.jpg

I woke up a second later in the recovery room and was attended to by a very nice male nurse. He was polite and conversational and I think we were both surprised by how good I felt. He ushered my parents back and they asked how I felt. I felt fine really, still do, my knee doesn’t hurt at all. I had nausea pretty bad yesterday, but it’s pretty much gone today. They wheeled my out in a wheelchair, I hopped in the truck with my dad, and he drove me home.

Since then I have been: eating, mock drafting, sleeping, and wasting time. There isn’t much I can do because of my knee being all bandaged up and whatnot, but I anxiously await finally being able to run again! That’s what I’m the most excited about, hands down. That and being able to do Insanity again! Jk.

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My Knee Surgery

The good news about the Gospel

I did it, I finished the Bible.

I read every single word, paragraph, song, praise, lament, parable, story, persecution, prostitution, prophesy, law, sacrifice, and resurrection in the Bible.

I was on a three month plan to read the entire Bible, but because towards the end of my adventure I careened so far off the actual “plan,” I thought that I was way behind. In reality, I read the bible in three months and two days. Crazy huh?

I have finished a lot of monumental things before in my life, or had events occur that are “once in a lifetime,” and to me, they don’t always live up the hype. High school graduation didn’t, College Finals didn’t, first girlfriend didn’t, I could go on if I wanted. Very few things hit me as hard as people say they are. No one said anything about how finishing the Bible would feel. It feels miraculous.

Page-wise, I have read books with more pages, but because there are four lines of text on each page and the font is so small, I think it is the longest thing I have ever read. In the last three days alone, in an attempt to finish the Bible before my surgery today, I read over two hundred pages of Old Testament murk. Two hundred pages isn’t usually a lot for me, but I think two hundred pages in the Bible equals at least three hundred regular book, four hundred Twilight.

I feel like I sprinted at the end of the whole experience because I wanted to finish before my surgery today, but I don’t regret that decision. I have read so much in the last few days that the Bible Plan has been more on my mind than it was when I read for twenty minutes a night. This way, I finish the Bible on time, but I also finish it with a bang–with it on my mind, staying up late in the night to finish it, reading it when I had spare time, talking about with my friends in the hottub–it was omnipresent in my life.

My final verdict doesn’t change much; my opinions on books and my preferences are still largely the same. I really enjoy the New Testament and look forward to reading it again, especially the Gospels, Epistles, and James. In the Old Testament, I didn’t really enjoy the Prophets or the Wisdom as much as I liked the Historical books. Anything about Saul, David, Solomon, or Absalom kept me hooked and interested. I didn’t know what I would get from reading the Old Testament, and I was blessed to find a very obvious lesson. I mentioned it in an earlier post, but the Old Testament gives you so much insight to the thought-process of the Jews in the New Testament. The Old Testament reveals what the Israelites were supposed to do in regard to sacrifice, avoiding certain people, and really embracing the nitpicky letters of the law. When Jesus comes and the Pharisees condemn Him for healing on the Sabbath, Jesus understands how they think. He knows that according the Law, what He is doing is wrong, and that’s why He is there to change the Law. He advocates obeying the spirit of the law, not the letter of the law. When the Torah says to do nothing on the Sabbath, it is because God wants people to have a day to relax and appreciate their blessings and praise Him. Jesus says that if the Sabbath is about glorifying God, wouldn’t you glorify God more by healing a man than if you had walked by that man with your head down because that’s what the law “says?” Jesus changes the game, but you need to read the Old Testament to know what the game was like before Jesus came.

The New Testament, especially Paul and the Gospels, is great because it offers great living advice. It tells you, on a daily, realistic basis, what it means to try and live like Jesus Christ. New Testament advice is more easily translated to modern-day life than the Old Testament, and so you almost feel like you’re reading a self-help book. You get so much practical knowledge from reading the New Testament that Christian or not, reading the New Testament can help you be a better person.

After finishing the entire Bible, my overwhelming feeling is pride. I know, pride is the biggest sin, but I think this is an ok thing of which to be proud. I feel like I know so much more about my God and my religion’s history, and I know a lot more about myself. I read every story that they teach in Sunday school, and I read every parable that anyone can ever quote. I am so happy I did this project and I encourage anyone who is curious about doing it, to try it. It is a blessing to finish this project, and anyone will be better for it.

The good news about the Gospel

Tattoos

I’ve been pretty busy for the last two or three days, and so I was really tempted to write a post about what I have been up to, but I just got a much better idea.

Ink.

20110726-085722.jpgI have had the privilege of accompanying two people as they received their first tattoos at the dextrous, shifty hands of tattoo artists. My first (and I guess his first–not as important), was Zach Trepagnier on Memorial Day 2010. I was a senior in high school along with Zach, and he had a plan to get two tattoos, one on each upper arm. I can’t remember the details exactly, partly because the words were in French, but I know that his last name was 20110726-085752.jpgfeatured prominently, there were three colors, and I think a fleur-de-lis was thrown on at some point. Regardless, pretty cool experience for the both of us.

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It was that day when Zach gave me advice he received from his dad. Zach told me that “there are two kinds of people in this world: people with tattoos, and people who are afraid of people with tattoos.”

The second person I went with as he got his tattoo was a friend of mine in Austin. Dale and I met through YoungLife and then actually developed a friendship outside of Sunday night bro-time (imagine that?). When he had to start going to ACC we hung out a lot less, but still met up every Tuesday morning to go to Feed My People, a church based, feed-the-homeless program that started at 5:00 in the morning. One morning, as Dale came to pick me up near my dorm at 4:45, I got in the car and he was smiling big. He went by our first turn as I told him how my week had been, and I pointed out his geographic mishap. He told me we weren’t going to Feed My People. We went to a tattoo place that, to this day, I don’t know why Dale had heard of. It was shady as night and sketchy as a caricature artist. Dale’s tattoo, on the other hand, was as stalwart as they come. He decided to get the words “Opus Dei” on the veiny side of his wrist. He was disappointed when I told him I took Latin and already knew what that meant, but I told him I still thought it was an awesome idea for a tattoo. I sat near the reclining chair as Dale had the Latin for “God’s Work” tattooed on the spot where Jesus had nails hammered through his hands.

The point of these stories is that I am once again accompanying a friend as they get a tattoo, which I will take a picture of and post. I am flattered that I apparently have a nice tattoo-side manner, but going with all these people and not getting a tattoo of my own really makes me think about getting one myself. The only possible tattoo I could ever see myself getting would be a Christian tattoo, but my instinctive reason not to do so is a mixture of “they should be able to tell I’m a Christian because of my actions” and “what if this is just a phase?” Both of which are crap. Hayleigh told me that Christian tattoos are good ways to get Christian conversations going, and in fact they worked in that way on her. I don’t disbelieve in tattoos, I just question what I could possible still love thirty years from now. 20110726-085731.jpgBesides God. That is why a Christian tattoo would be the only tattoo I would ever consider getting.

If you didn’t guess, the person I accompied to get her tattoo was Hayleigh, and I’m writing this after she has gotten it. We went to a place called “Platinum,” where the people weren’t the super nicest tattoo artists I’ve ever encountered, but they were professional and talented.20110726-085656.jpg They all wore scrubs which I thought was a good idea, and our guy,

20110726-085705.jpgLuis, was very nice. He was mid-20’s, from Columbia, had three kids, shaky English, and spelled Christian “cristiun” when was looking for a picture of the Jesus fish online. After Hayleigh paid, we waited for maybe ten minutes and then were called back by Luis. He and Hayleigh determined the exact spot and he went to work. Hayleigh was in pain. I’ve never had a tattoo, but I think I pretty well understand the pain level, and the spot where she recieved the tattoo was both sensitive and close to bone. She took it like a champ though, really, and didn’t do any dumb girly things but just gritted her teeth and nervous laughed a lot. It was done really quickly, in about twenty minutes, and I think it looks great. I think it looks really good. Hayleigh was a little worried because her mom didn’t want her getting the tattoo, so what did Hayleigh do? She got the tattoo on the day before her mom’s birthday. But, life is funny sometimes, and Ms. Dicianna probably won’t see it today, or at least that’s what we’re hoping.

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Tattoos

Spotify

Spotify is literally the biggest thing in the music industry since the invention of the ear, by God. I recommend to go to Spotify.com right now and get on the waiting list to be get Spotify in around three weeks. I signed myself up a month ago (for free) and just got the program last week. Since then, I have used it for hours, and the brilliant thing is the transition to using Spotify is seamless, and you feel like you’ve been using it for years.

The idea behind Spotify is really simple, and none of its components are breathtaking; its utility comes from the fact that it combines a bunch of things that you have always wanted, but are never combined together. The layout of Spotify looks exactly like iTunes, and in fact, when you download Spotify it syncs with your iTunes library so all your music is on Spotify to begin with. The cool part comes when you want to listen to songs you don’t own. Spotify markets itself as a competitor to Pandora, and if the mobile version were free, it would compete ferociously. At this point in time, the mobile version of Spotify isn’t free, but I predict that it will be in the future when the product has solidified itself and isn’t so experimental.

The main difference between Spotify and Pandora is that Spotify works like an iTunes search. Say that you want to listen to Rihanna songs. If you plug Rihanna into Pandora, you will get a bunch of different songs that have similar qualities to Rihanna, and you will be exposed to a lot of new music. But, if you just wanted to hear Rihanna, then Pandora isn’t the place to go–Spotify is. In Spotify, you search in the iTunes like webpage for your favorite artist. In the top right you type in “Rihanna,” then Spotify brings up all of her songs from all of her albums, just like iTunes. However, unlike iTunes’ thirty second clip, Spotify allows you to listen to the entire song if you click on it, and you can listen to as many songs as you’d like. All for free.

I agree wholeheartedly with my brother’s point that Pandora is still the place to go to find new music, outside of music blogs or something of that nature. For the curious listener, Pandora works well as a way to introduce you to new bands that you might like because of their commonalities with bands that you know you like. I see Spotify and Pandora working together in the future. Pandora to introduce you to new music, and then Spotify to allow you to really explore that new artist and decide which songs you like, or if you don’t like the artist as much as you thought.

Like I said, it’s not a groundbreaking idea, but it is very convenient. You can also create playlists in Spotify, and what I have been doing is when I check out a new artist, I create a playlist for them on the left side of my screen and then drag all their music into that playlist. I haven’t bought the songs, but I can listen to them anytime I’m on my computer. It’s basically your iTunes playlist on your computer, except for that you can have all the music you want completely free. It is meant as a way to entice customers into buying the songs from iTunes by allowing you to listen to them for free, but not having the freedom of listening to them on your IPhone. It’s working on me so far. I really like this one band I’ve been listening to, but I am limited to only listening to them on my laptop. I soon see myself buying the album from iTunes. And we both win.

http://www.spotify.com/us/hello-america/

Spotify

Good News for Organic Food

This is an article from the Huffington Post and you can visit the site here.

Or just read it, here:

“A new Thomson Reuters poll [pdf] found that the majority (58%) of consumers prefer organic food to conventional food. This preference is particularly strong with those with a higher education, and those of a younger demographic. Sixty-three perfect of respondents under age 35 choose organics when possible.

Among those that prefer organic food, their primary reasons were broken down in four categories: supporting local farms (36%), avoiding toxins (34%), environmental health (17%) and taste (13%). Price was the primary reason that respondents preferred non-organic food.

Income was not a huge factor for organic food preference. In fact, those that made between $25,000 and $49,999 (61.2%) preferred organic slightly more than those that made over $100,000 (60.8%).”

The first paragraph of the article does not surprise me because typically the more people know about organic food, the more likely they are to support it. It is ironic to see that younger people have the highest percentage of respondents who prefer organic, because we have inherited a broken and poisonous agricultural system. And from whom did we inherit that system? The system based on exploiting farm workers, reliance on chemical farming, and deletion of biological diversity? We inherited the agricultural system from the same demographic who still now does not support organic food as much as our younger generation. I don’t know what percentage of over 35 year-olds responded that they support organic food, but I wish that they fully endorsed organic food. I think they should eat their mistake seeing as how it was their generation that heralded in much of the corrupt farming regulations with which farmers today have to contend.

I appreciate that the study broke down the respondents motivations as well, because the mental impetus behind the action–in this case– is critical to know. Respondents’ motivations illustrate what they have been taught about organic food and what people believe it represents. I love the first reason; I think supporting local farmers is an incredibly important reason to buy (local) organic food. (It is kind of funny that either the survey or the respondents assumed that organic meant local. I don’t know the details of the survey, but the two are not always co-present).

The second reason is brilliant, and organic food certainly does contain less toxins than conventionally grown, chemical laden foods. However, I wish that the third most popular motivation –environmental health– replaced “less toxins.” The chemical differences between organic and non-organic produce are perceptible, but statistically not much. All products grown in the U.S. have to be approved of the by the U.S.D.A., and that pertains mostly to the fertilizers and pesticides used. Many of the toxins are poisonous for the workers, animals in the area, and –in large quantities–bad for consumers; but generally, conventionally grown food will not have an adverse effect on your health. There are tentative studies suggesting that chemicals in food force puberty on girls prematurely and might lead to some cancers, but little unshakeable evidence has been published on the adverse affects of eating food with government-approved chemicals. We are fortunate to live in a country where the government (and many N.G.O.’s) serve as watchdogs for our health. The government will not let any farmer legally use chemicals that are proven to be bad for our health. Without question I support organic food and eating pesticide-free produce, but I do not think it should be more important than the environmental aspect of organic food.

In my paper, I reiterated that the single most important reason to buy organic, in my opinion, was for the environment’s health. Organic techniques cut down water pollution, soil pollution, soil degradation, drug-resistant bugs and viruses, health problems, fossil fuel consumption, and encourage biodiversity and sustainability. Farmers apply pesticides and fertilizers with the mindset “better safe than sorry,” and over 90% of the nitrogen based fertilizer seeps into ground water sources. The EPA estimates that 210 million pounds of fertilizer end up in the Gulf of Mexico each year, resulting in a 7,900 square mile dead zone that is so oxygen deficient that nothing can survive in it (Beavan). Agriculture in America is responsible for 17% of our total carbon-emissions, and it is also the leading source of water pollution, its biggest water consumer, and the main cause of soil erosion and the loss of grasslands and wetlands (Beavan) <<[from my paper, and the book No Impact Man]. Organic agriculture is important predominantly because it is the only form of agriculture that humans can continue to practice six hundred years from now. I hyperbolize, but I’d bet many conventional farmers can’t see their soil being fecund in six hundred years, nor would I bet we can continue to develop chemicals that can kill generations upon generations of super-bugs. Environmental friendliness is the most important reason for buying organic food, and everything else is gravy.

Including taste. Taste is gravy. Organic food does not always taste better than organic, and it is typically smaller food and less aesthetically pleasing. Organic is usually better for you nutritionally, and never worse for you, but taste-wise, organic got its reputation for good taste because it is usually fresher. Food bought an a farmer’s market that was picked the day before is almost always going to taste better than food picked two weeks before it is ripe and then driven in a car for two weeks to arrive ripe in your supermarket. I was glad to see “taste” last, with 13%.

But the reason I got so excited when I saw this article in the first place is the last paragraph. It says that “Income was not a huge factor for organic food preference. In fact, those that made between $25,000 and $49,999 (61.2%) preferred organic slightly more than those that made over $100,000 (60.8%).” That’s amazing! Price has always been the biggest road-bump to widespread acceptance of organic agriculture, and here we have it, in the flesh, tangible evidence that people are prioritizing their money and buying correctly grown food. Amazing!

 

Good News for Organic Food