Posted by Wizard
Sep 25, 2012

Last Man Standing NFL Contest

I'm one of 210 people who put in $100 in a "last man standing" NFL contest run through RunYourPool.com. Thanks to some big upsets, which I managed to avoid picking, I'm one of 26 left standing. Here is how it went down so far.

Week 1: In = 210, eliminated=16 (7.7%). Most eliminations were those who picked the Saints. I picked Houston.
Week 2: In = 195, eliminated = 110 (56.4%). Almost all the eliminations were those to picked the Patriots. There is a rule that you can't pick the same team twice, so I saved them and went with the Bengals.
Week 3: In = 85, eliminated 59 (69.4%). Most eliminations were the Saints, but some 49ers. I picked Chicago.
Week 4: In=26

So, I figure I now have $808 in equity! That is the area code of Hawaii, by the way.

For week 4 I'm picking the Ravens, who are a 13-point favorite. I should have about an 85% chance of surviving this week. Hopefully there will be big upsets elsewhere to narrow down the field.


Ayecarumba Sep 25, 2012

Well done Wizard! Almost half the folks remaining in my LMS pool (including me) got knocked out by the Pats loss in week 2.

With only 26 remaining, I like your chances. I always wonder if it is better to go with a second tier team who happens to have a favorable matchup against a third tier team, (instead of a first tier lock against a patsy), just so that you don't run into a situation where all your remaining choices are pegged as losers. Have you already scoped out the remainder of the season?

Mission146 Sep 25, 2012

Nice work.

As you already know, SF knocked me out of my pool.

EvenBob Sep 25, 2012

Just bet against the Lions, its a sure thing.

Wizard Sep 26, 2012

It is pretty much my strategy to pick average teams playing lousy teams, to conserve the good teams. However, sometimes there isn't going to be that situation, when I have to use up a good team. This week is like that. The best teams should be used at some point.

buzzpaff Sep 26, 2012

Not that my opinion matters, but Ravens are 9-1 in Division, Browns are 0-10. Ravens are at home and Art Modell factor should

make them take Browns as serious opponent. Looks like a solid pick. Good luck.

Ayecarumba Sep 26, 2012

Good Luck to you Wiz!

If all 26 remaining players are eliminated this week, what is(are) the tie-breaker(s)?

Boz Sep 27, 2012

Looks like the Ravens are a big pick in many pools this week according to ESPN radio host Colin Cowherd. Good luck!

Wizard Sep 28, 2012

Well, I survived week 4, but I bet that most of the other 25 also picked the Ravens. Hopefully at least a few people already wasted the Ravens and will lose elsewhere. I feel like I'm in the Hunger Games; hoping my fellow contestants meet a sudden and unexpected demise.

Wizard Oct 04, 2012

The good news is I picked the Ravens last week, who won. The bad news is the number of my 25 opponents who were eliminated in week 4 was 0, thanks to no big upsets. For week 5 I'm going with the 49ers. Hopefully either Houston or the NYG will lose, as they are the other two big favorites this week.

JohnnyQ Oct 07, 2012

Interesting contest, sounds fun. I don't think I have

ever heard of this format before.

Is the herd mentality to pick the highest favorite for

the week, provided that you haven't already selected

that team previously ?

Wizard Oct 07, 2012

Here are the picks made for week 5:

SF: 13 (win)

NYG: 9 (win)

GBP: 2 (loss)

Ravens: 1 (win)

Bengals: 1 (loss)

So, we're now down to 23.

To answer the question above, I do think that the heard does tend to pick the biggest available favorite, and doesn't put enough attention on preserving the good teams. However, I think the 23 left are pretty smart, considering not just surviving the week, but winning the whole enchilada.

Wizard Oct 09, 2012

Maybe I'm just talking to myself at this point, but for week 6 the biggest favorite, by far, is Atlanta at -9.5. There are four 5-point favorites. I have not picked Atlanta yet, but am not going to. I figure most other players will be on them and if they lose the heard will really get thinned out. It is going against the heard that has got me as far as I have so far. So, I'm going to go with Arizona. I figure they have a 67% chance to win. Meanwhile, Atlanta has 77% chance. If Arizona wins and Atlanta loses (15.4% chance) I think the field will be down to 10 to 12.

Wizard Oct 14, 2012

I'm out.

JohnnyQ Dec 05, 2012

That does sound like a fun contest.

SO, on the week you went out, how many managed

to survive ?

Is it normal for a contest with that many

people to take the entire season to determine a

winner ?

Posted by Wizard
Sep 14, 2012

Down and Out at the Venetian

Let it be known I am no longer working for the Venetian. It would be an understatement to say that my feelings about the termination are acrimonious.
I would like to tell the whole story, but I signed a confidentiality agreement when I started, so I will stick to simple statements of fact regarding my employment.
Here is the executive summary.

  • I started with the Sands corporation on April 30, 2012. My job title was Director of Gaming Mathematics. Physically, I worked in the Venetian, but my job was at the corporate level, pertaining to all things table games in all the Sands casinos worldwide.
  • To make room in my schedule for the Sands, I had to close and sacrifice my consulting business.
  • Four months later after starting, on September 10, 2012, I was suddenly told my position no longer existed and was asked to immediately clear out my desk, turn in my keys and badge, and given an explanation of the exit process.
  • My termination form said was I let go because my position was eliminated. My rehire recommendation was checked "yes."
  • Some severance pay was offered, which I rejected based on the amount and conditions attached to it.

Due to the confidentiality agreement, I will not get into further details. However, I wish to state publicly that I am no longer with the company and am open for business again as a game designer and consultant.


odiousgambit Sep 15, 2012

I think "suddenly" is the only fraught word you allowed yourself here.

Well, I was never comfortable thinking of you as a "Suit", Michael.

1BB Sep 15, 2012

Shelley's only the 16th richest man in the world. How is he going to be number one if he doesn't watch his pennies? Could it be that they hired you just to pick your brain only to give you the heave ho?

Nah, the ethical casino would never do that.

buzzpaff Sep 15, 2012

Hoping I have to wait to get a seat to play Three Card Mulligan at G2E.

7craps Sep 15, 2012

Typical casino management decision process in action.

4 months ago someone somewhere had an idea. They acted on it.

4 months later, someone somewhere had an idea.

It was not the same idea as it was 4 months before.

Game plan changes and so did the game.

Too bad you did not have at least a year contract to account for this event possibility, since you gave up way more IMO, your business,

than they did, a few months pay and they can easily cook their books to compensate way better than you can to yours.

Casino +1

No harm no foul

Employee -1

Wizard Sep 15, 2012


Too bad you did not have at least a year contract to account for this event possibility.

In retrospect, I should have insisted on that.

One good thing to come out of this is my weight has not been this low in several years. Just the stress of the last week has caused me to lose 5 to 7 pounds.

bigfoot66 Sep 15, 2012

Sad News. I hope the best comes out of this situation for you.

duffytootx Sep 15, 2012

Everyone wants to lose a little weight, but not in this manner. I hope you are feeling better soon and good luck in the future. I am a fan and enjoy your site immensely.

Paradigm Sep 15, 2012

This really does stink Wiz and I am sorry to hear how it went down. What possibly changes in a 4-5 month timeframe where they create a position (I assume this was a new position for them as it didn't sound like you took over an existing position) and then decide they don't need it anymore? Thank goodness you didn't move across the country to take on the position....if they cared about their employees or their reputation they would have given you the remainder of a 12 months first years pay as severance (i.e. 7-8 mos of pay as if you had a 1 year contract).

The only hope is that you learned a few things from the inside and how large scale casino management thinks about certain issues. Maybe that makes you a wiser Wizard going forward. I doubt there was anything worth learning based on the cost of taking the position and then being let go so quickly, but hopefullly there is at least some value there.

EvenBob Sep 15, 2012


What possibly changes in a 4-5 month timeframe where they create a position (I assume this was a new position for them as it didn't sound like you took over an existing position) and then decide they don't need it anymore?

LVS had lost half its stock value since Mike got hired.

I'm sure he's not the only one that got axed. Last

hired, first fired. LVS is having lots of other problems,

if you've been watching the news.

pacomartin Sep 16, 2012

I am sorry this had to happen to you. They must be very short sighted because there is no way you couldn't teach whales how to play a better game. Eventually, knowing that you are trying to help them would pay off in the long run, by casino loyalty.

The mindset that rewards 6/5 blackjack, which brings short term benefits and long term destruction of the game, is what gets rewarded.

aluisio Sep 16, 2012

I am sure that you will succeed no matter where, Mike! Hope you have learned what you could from the corp and that this change be good for you. Best wishes!

JohnnyQ Sep 16, 2012

Sorry to hear that, there is no question in my mind

that you would have been a very valuable asset for


The person who needs to be let go is the person

there who made that decision.

EB is a little off on his stock comment though, which

would have almost been an understandable explanation.

April 30 = $ 55.49

Sept 10 = $ 43.41

Yahoo Finance

Wizard Sep 16, 2012

Thanks for all the kind words. There is so much I'd like to say, but will refrain.

JohnnyQ Sep 16, 2012

I'm not surprised to see that you are taking the high

road regarding the confidentiality agreement.

But isn't that intended to protect the

details of their casino operations / strategies /

marketing programs / comp programs / etc

that would be valuable to their competitors ?

Maybe the "whole story" gets into some of

that, so then you are right not to say anything.

But again, sorry to see this corporate crap

storm rain down on you.

I don't usually gamble at the Venetian, so

my "boycott" won't amount to anything.

Paradigm Sep 16, 2012

Quote: EvenBob

LVS had lost half its stock value since Mike got hired.

I'm sure he's not the only one that got axed. Last

hired, first fired. LVS is having lots of other problems,

if you've been watching the news.

Actually, LVS has been an excellent investment this year if you realized that the run from the low 40's at the end of 2011 to $60 in early April was overdone. It ended 2011 at $42.73 and is currently at $46.75....Wiz did not get let go because of LVS' stock performance. It will finish the year around $50 and end up showing a nice 19% return (incl. dividends) for 2012.

tringlomane Sep 16, 2012

Really sucks to hear. Wish for bigger and better things for you in the future.

EvenBob Sep 16, 2012


EB is a little off on his stock comment though, which

would have almost been an understandable explanation.

I said HAD lost, not HAS lost. LVS was at $61

this spring and went down to $31. Thats almost

half. Most of this happened when Mike was there.

EvenBob Sep 16, 2012


Actually, LVS has been an excellent investment this year

I was reading the LVS stockholder forum every day this

summer when the stock was going from $61 to $31.

They were flipping out, they were paranoid and very

upset. There is no way this didn't influence corporate

to start lopping off heads, just to be symbolic if nothing

else. This happening at about the same time as Mike

getting hired can't be just a coincidence.

fremont4ever Sep 16, 2012

I'm sorry to hear that you were let go, mostly because (a) it's obviously something you wanted, and (b) you gave up so much for it.

But when I first heard the news of your position, I did my best Kerrigan-esque "WHY? WHY?" I don't like the Strip, I don't like casinos that overdo artificial scents, I don't like the owner's views on online gaming, and I don't like his politics.

On a side note, I was surprised to note that you had a boss other than "the" boss, or at least the Sands' Casino VP or the equivalent.

Anyway, I am confident that good things will come of this, so hold your head up and get to work.

TheBigPaybak Sep 16, 2012

Sorry to hear this, Michael, that's just rotten. All the best going forward!

buzzpaff Sep 16, 2012

Hyman Roth : " And I said to myself, this is the business we've chosen; I didn't ask who gave the order, because it had nothing to do

with business "

Mission146 Sep 16, 2012


There is a certain allure to a guaranteed paycheck bi-weekly or bi-monthly that always reads the same amount, but it is that same allure that stifles creativity and leads to complacency. For some people, that allure overcomes what could have been by doing something independently because they are either not capable of doing anything independently (and making the same money or better) or because they might be capable of it, but are not sure.

In your case, you never would have had the job at The Venetian to begin with if you had not clearly established the creativity, drive, willpower and...quite frankly...genius to succeed on your own. It is for this reason that I suggest you have nothing to worry about.

Ahhh...complacency. I'm a Manager of an Economy Hotel now and will probably retire the Manager of an Economy Hotel, if I'm really lucky, I might upgrade to a Limited-Service or Resort Hotel Manager at some point, but it's hard to say, as I have no experience with dealing with the demands of that kind of clientele. It is possible that I could go independent with something and create a more enjoyable, not to mention, lucrative, future for myself, but I'm firmly entrenched in the camp of, "Might be able to do it." In any event, I'm one to play it the safest and most conservative way...which is the way of complacency.

Not you. Why? Because you're better than that job, in fact, you're better than any traditional job. You have built yourself into a one-man powerhouse in the world of gaming Math, not to mention the fact that you can annihilate any BJ table you come across, and you will erect the same powerhouse yet again.

In short, you're better off this way. It may not seem like it now, and you may miss those guaranteed checks for awhile, but you will look back at your body of work after retirement and be glad that you were not at The Venetian for your last twenty years of active employment.

For one, I am glad to hear that you are going to go back to doing things your way, because for someone of your geinus and ability, your way should be the only way.

DJTeddyBear Sep 18, 2012

As I've said already, sorry to hear this, and best wishes in the future.

For what it's worth, I question the logic of rejecting the severence. I have a feeling that will get looked at negatively, despite the rehire recommentation.

FarFromVegas Sep 18, 2012

Best of luck with whatever the future holds. Maybe a guide to hiking or other physical activity in the Las Vegas area by season? How to incorporate exercise into a gambling/bachelor party weekend?

Posted by Wizard
May 21, 2012

May 20 Eclipse

On May 20, 2012, there was an annular solar eclipse that stretched from Asia to the western United States. For those unfamiliar with eclipse terminology, the moon follows an elliptical orbit around the earth. When the sun, moon, and earth are in alignment it will cause an eclipse. When the moon is relatively far from the earth, it doesn't completely cover the sun, causing what looks like a ring of fire, and is known as an annular eclipse. By contrast, when the moon is closer, it does completely cover the sun, resulting in the much-better total eclipse.

I saw a total eclipse in China on July 22, 2009 and wrote all about it in my Wizard of Odds blog. Although annular eclipses don't compare total eclipses, I have never seen an annular eclipse before, and I had to drive only about two hours to Utah to do so, so I figured I would make a short trip out of it with my son.

We left the day before in the afternoon and visited Valley of Fire state park on our way to Utah. This is only my second time there. My son went there on a field trip and has been asking to return ever since. First we did the petroglyph (note to Bill Gates: Add this word to your spell-checker)/mouse's tank trail. This is the actually the same trail, and the park map and signage do not make this clear. This is a short and easy trail with more petroglyphs than I've ever seen in one place, by far. Here are just a few pictures I took of them.

At the end of the trail is a small natural hole in the rock where water tends to fill in wetter months. On this hot May day it was dry. Maybe they call it mouse's tank because when mice try to drink from it they can't get out and drown in it. I recall when I was a camping trip as a kid my mother left a bucket of water out and in the morning a dead mouse was floating in it.

The Petroglyph trail was too short and easy so we added on the White Dome trail. This was a nice but short hike through some of the oddly shaped sandstone features that the Valley of Fire is famous for. We still felt unsatisfied after that, so we decided to climb this short but sweet little peak by the White Dome parking lot. We called it "mini red cap," named after a similar climb at Red Rock, which I write about in my article on Red Cap.

The climbing on of this was surprisingly challenging in spots. Places that made me feel a little uncomfortable my son climbed up, down, or across as he were a mountain goat. Here are some pictures.

After that I felt a got a workout just from just the fear factor and was ready to hit the road. We ate at the Casablanca buffet in Mesquite, which was not bad. It was seafood night and we both enjoyed the crab legs. Then it was to our hotel in Saint George. I would have preferred Springdale, or even Hurricane, but both places were booked solid. I tend to think I may have been lucky to even get a room in Saint George, as the front desk clerk said he was getting a lot of eclipse business.

The next day we got up early to climb Observation Point in Zion National Park. This area gets HOT this time of year, so I wanted to climb in as much comfort as possible. This is an 8-mile round trip hike, from the canyon floor to the rim. We've done most of the other hikes there before, and I wanted to do something fairly hard, because we need to train for Mount Whitney in July.

Observation Point is a great climb. Not as famous or rewarding as Angel's Landing, but still very worth doing. If you still have energy, add on Hidden Canyon as a side trip. Here is a picture from the top.

We finished with Observation Point about 12:30 and still had about five hours to kill before the eclipse started. So we hung out by the river for a while and poked around Springdale. I highly recommend the Bumbleberry milkshakes, which are made with real pie. They are available in a gift ship by the Bubbleberry Inn, adjacent to Wildcat Willies.

So, I'm finally ready to talk about the eclipse. Sorry it took so long. I overheard a lot of people were going to watch the eclipse from Zion or Bryce National Parks. However, my son had school the next day, so we watched it from Saint George, to hit the road immediately afterward.

You would think for all my enthusiasm for eclipses I would have a telescope with all the necessary eclipse accoutrements to watch it. Nope. I just had two pieces of glass that are used in a welder's mask. One is not enough and you can't see anything with three. These are easily available in a large hardware store, but don't wait until the last minute. I wanted to buy more a few days before the eclipse and the local home depot was sold out. The ones I did have I purchased about two months before, in preparation.

I knew from a previous visit there is a very nice park next to the Saint George Tabernacle. This park doesn't seem to have a name, and isn't on the maps, which is strange for such a nice park. It has lots of water features for kids to play in and art sculptures.

My son and I found a spot by an open field with some good trees. Trees are important because as the sun shines through them during an eclipse you can see an outlines of the sun in the places the sunlight pokes through in the shadow. If there are no trees available, you can create the same effect by making a waffle pattern with your fingers.

As my son and I passed the glass back and forth we got the attention of a group of about a dozen people. They were curious about what we were doing so I explained it and let them borrow the glass. They were all very grateful and amazed. The effect of the light through trees was also of much interest on nearby steps.

I tried unsuccessfully to take a picture. This is what I saw through my normal camera with one piece of welders' glass. So, when the eclipse reached its pinnacle, where it appeared like a ring of fire, the entire park was noticeably not as hot and bright. I was quite the temporary celebrity for having the glass as everyone took a few seconds with it and passed it on. During this time you could see rings of sunlight on the steps.

After a couple minutes the ring of fire turned back to a crescent, and the show was pretty much over. So, now I can say I've seen both a total eclipse and an annular eclipse. Of course, I've seen lots of partial ones as well.

After doing the amateur thing for the last two, I'm ready to take it to the next step for the total eclipse of August' rel='nofollow' target='_blank'>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_eclipse_of_August_21,_2017]August 21, 2017, which will cut from Oregon to South Carolina. I'm already after my father to sell me his telescope, which he used to watch the eclipse "partial style" from southern California.


Ayecarumba May 21, 2012

Thanks for the photos and blog Wizard, I enjoyed them very much. Did your daughter not want to take the trip?

I am curious about the petroglyphs. Is the "black" a natural feature of the rock, or is it scorched? If it is scorched, it is surprising that it would last past the first rain. If it is natural, I don't see the same black face on many other rocks in the photos.

odiousgambit May 21, 2012

Something is not making sense. The idea seems to be that we got an annular eclipse because the moon is so far from earth, as you put it: "When the moon is relatively far from the earth, it doesn't completely cover the sun, causing what looks like a ring of fire, and is known as an annular eclipse"

But we just experienced a "Super Moon" on May 6th. This meant the moon was as close to earth as it ever gets. How is it possible that things could change that fast?

Wikipedia on the super moon. The super moon was also extensively covered in the newspaters.

odiousgambit May 21, 2012

PS: yes, great post, I didnt realize there was a place you could go to in the US that would have that many petrogyphs.

Nareed May 21, 2012

I love the steps photos!

Try to find a place with a pond for the next eclipse, or better yet with several small puddles. You can see a reflection of the event on the surface. This also sometimes happens on car windshields.

Photographing an eclipse is notoriously hard. For a total one, you may want to resurrect an old 35mm film camera and look for ultra-high ISO rating like 1,600 or more, and try to get a photo of the corona.

Odiousgambit, the Moon orbits the Earth in 28 days. For the 14 days between May 6th and the 20th, that's exactly half an orbit.

Wizard May 21, 2012

Yes, the black is a natural feature of the rock. You see it sometimes here at Red Rock, but it is more common at Valley of Fire. What causes it? I just assumed a higher iron content in the rock, but I've been wrong before. What makes me doubt that is it seems to be just on the surface.

That is indeed a good question about the Super Moon. You stumped me with that one. I think I'm going to have to use my lifeline and call Doc in here to help out.

Doc May 21, 2012

1) Wizard: How/when did you steal all of my photos from Valley of Fire? Seriously, I think I have photos of the exact same petroglyphs.

2) My browser says that "petroglyphs" is incorrectly spelled, and it's Firefox, not a Micro$oft product.

3) I think Nareed has given the correct answer already. If the full moon occurred at the perigee of the moon's orbit, giving a super moon, then the preceding and following new moons (and the associated opportunities for solar eclipse) should occur very near to the apogee of the moon's orbit. For a really nice total eclipse, you would like to have a new moon, a perigee of the orbit, and alignment of the earth, moon, and sun.

4) I am not an astronomer, regardless of how much the Wizard would like for me to answer every science-oriented question, so don't wager your entire bankroll on that answer.

DJTeddyBear May 21, 2012

Great stuff.

I had heard that an alternate way to 'view' the eclipse was to look at shadows. I never realized just what they meant. Thanks for that.


Regarding the "Super moon" and the eclipse.

The moon's orbit is elliptical. Only when it's close approach is during a full moon does the moon appear large enough to be called a "super moon". But this also means that for the new moon prior and following, it is nearly at the furthest points in it's orbit.

That super moon was about 2 weeks prior to the eclipse, and the moon's orbit is about 29 days......

TIMSPEED May 21, 2012

Neat pic Mike!

We were on the 27th floor in Reno, which apparently Northern Nevada had the PERFECT view (KOLO-8 was asked by National News companies for their pics)

I actually have a couple nice welding hoods, so we took those and it was quite a sight...I was going to try taking a picture, but I was seriously afraid it would burn the lense out of the camera (LOL, I've never tried taking a picture directly into the sun; and I thought the welding shields would blur it completely)

Wizard May 21, 2012

Thank you for all the answers to the new moon question. Does anyone have anything about the black petroglyph rocks?

Based on the replacement glass I purchased at Lowes, I would think that a welder's mask would not be sufficient. Or can one put in two panes? I tried looking at the eclipse through one pane, which I could do, but it was too bright to look at for more than a second.

odiousgambit May 21, 2012

naturally a new moon is what you want for an eclipse, but my hat is off to those of you who realized the perigee full moon is immediately followed by an apogee new moon [right?]. That was not intuitive to me or the Wizard but I can kind of picture it.

odiousgambit May 21, 2012

oops, apogee full moon is immediately followed by an perigee new moon

altho both statements are evidently true

Doc May 21, 2012

Yes, odiousgambit, both statements are true. In this particular case, it was a perigee full moon (super moon) followed by an apogee new moon (annular eclipse).

DJTeddyBear May 21, 2012

By the way, I'm sure most of you already know this, even if you didn't "know" it....

The moon's orbital plane is not the same as the earth's orbital plane. If it were the same, there would be an eclipse every month. Actually two each month - solar and lunar.

Doc May 21, 2012

I'm not sure whether it's more useful to post here or in the eclipse discussion thread, but I though I would provide this link to an article about photographing a solar eclipse. I saved the article just in case I survive to 2017 and have an opportunity to attempt photographing the total eclipse that year.

Posted by Wizard
Mar 21, 2012

Heart Attack Follow Up

Here is a message from my father, directed towards the forum members following his heart attack story, including me.


Please tell your blog followers how much I appreciate and am inspired by their wishes for my recovery, and their anecdotes. I enjoyed them all. My recovery seems to be going well so far. I am pain free and able to do mild exercise again. Two doctors will give me an exam and appraisal late next week. I do take exception to your statement that I am "100 pounds overweight" but will confess to eighty. I have removed six of them and avoided all alcohol for eight days and counting. There is a stronger incentive to mend my ways now. I want to hang around a while and enjoy the grandchildren and my new iPad. :-)


Ayecarumba Mar 21, 2012

Terrific. An Apple a day keeps the doctor at play...?

All kidding aside, it is great to hear that you are doing well, and recovering nicely.

gambler Mar 21, 2012

I am glad to see that the order was grandchildren first... Then new iPad second... Stay well!

1BB Mar 22, 2012

Is your alcohol avoidance doctor's orders or self imposed? It sounds like your counting the days until you can have a drink. :-)

Mosca Mar 22, 2012

The first year is actually pretty easy. It's down the road that you have to really pay attention. The weight comes back like a sneak thief, a little bit at a time. You gain a pound a month, and it's never really a big deal; what's the difference between 187 and 188, after all? And then one day your pants don't quite button, and you weigh 211.

Life is for living. Strike a balance, and keep it worth living.

buzzpaff Mar 22, 2012

I have 8 granddaughters. Thats why I live in this one horse town. Have no Ipad but bought a Nook from Barnes and noble. It readss books outloud to the kids, has color pix, turns the pages on the touch screen, etc. They love SponeBob SquarePants. I intend to down load some books for me, once a 5 or 6 year

old granddaughter explains to me how to do it. LOL

DJTeddyBear Mar 23, 2012

Glad to hear things are going well.

You know, there's no reason you can't be a member here. There's lots of interesting topics, both gambling and non-gambling related.

And I'm pretty sure the user name "Wizard's Dad" hasn't been taken yet...

C'mon in. The water's fine.

EvenBob Mar 23, 2012

New iPad but no drinking... Not a fair trade off.

FleaStiff Mar 24, 2012

Have they discussed the results of a CPK test with you yet? That seems to be crucial in assessing amount of muscle damage. Good luck.

buzzpaff Mar 24, 2012

Dick Cheney just got a heart transplant. Shame he didn't have a heart as the VP.

Posted by Wizard
Mar 19, 2012

What it's like to have a heart attack, ride an ambulance and live to tell about it.

The following is my father's heart attack story. You may wish to read this before eating at the Heart Attack Grill.


At about 4 AM on March 14, 2012, I awoke with a feeling of heavy pressure on my left side, and numbness extending from my waist to my cheek and along my arm on that side. My wife Christa, a former RN, recognized possible heart attack symptoms and persuaded me to call let her call 911. After about ten minutes, with the pain not going away and feeling rather faint, I said OK and she made the call. They arrived in ten minutes, and in ten more minutes (or less) I was whisked away.

I decided to avoid the nearest hospital with emergency capability (Los Alamitos), and having to deal with later transfer and paperwork, and asked instead to be taken to the nearest hospital of my HMO provider, Kaiser Permanente, about 12 miles away in Downey. During the ambulance ride to that hospital, they contacted the hospital by radio, followed instructions, gave me aspirin to chew, nitroglycerine drops on the tongue to relieve pain, EKG tests, blood oxygen level measurement and a blood test for troponin. At the two different hospitals, I had what seemed like twenty tubes and wires connected to me to monitor vital signs, as well as to drip in IV fluids like saline, sedative and "Integrilin", a blood thinner. There were frequent blood withdrawals for troponin. Troponin is produced by the body when heart attack damage is being repaired. The level peaks a day or more after the attack and somehow tells how much heart damage occurred. There was apparently a lot of damage in my case, but I have not seen the numbers.

After about 28 hours at Kaiser/Downey hospital for observation, and being given the bad news and a stern temperance lecture by cardiologists, I was transferred to another new, large, Kaiser hospital in Hollywood for the actual operation and recovery. I spend a total of only two nights in hospitals.

Automated testing included blood pressure, O2 level in the blood, blood sugar and EKG. It seemed I was being poked several times an hour, day and night for additional blood tests. Those levels seemed rather nominal. There was a tangled mess of wires and tubes hanging from a "tree" on wheels that had to be unplugged, and taken from the bed to the bathroom when going to the toilet. Half the time, I was not allowed to go there and I had to pee in a weird shaped jar while lying horizontal. Sometimes I needed assistance for that, and that was not fun at all. There were many interruptions to take pills.

The actual angiogram and stent installation was the easy part, except for the last six hours after I was unhooked from the monitors and IV. The operation took just one hour, performed by two surgeons and an assistant, during which time I was fully conscious.

The worst part was having to lie almost motionless on an uncomfortable horizontal bed, without a pillow, in a chilly room during a pre-op and post-op period that lasted about ten hours. Blankets were provided on demand (preheated!), but there was a shortage of them. They said it was important that there be no body motion while the thinned blood resealed the femoral artery, where the catheter and the stent were inserted. A pressure pad with belt wrapped about the hips sealed the wound, after a skilled female technician withdrew the catheter and applied manual pressure to the groin area. I referred to this period and "being water boarded without the water". She was not amused. When I was finally allowed to eat, after 24 hours of fasting, I still had to remain horizontal for the first "meal" (apple juice through a straw and a small turkey sandwich). It tasted good.

Following discharge, I now have to take about ten kinds of pills per day (previously about six) , including Plavix,which (without medical insurance coverage) would cost $7 per pill. Fortunately, my retiree-benefit Medicare-plus insurance covers the lion's share of that, and all hospital charges. The Plavix is supposed to keep the stented artery area clear, and will have to be taken for six months. I will also need to take a larger daily dose of Lipitor and aspirin daily.

After the operation, for six hours, they would not let me use a pillow until after midnight. I could not sleep without a sleeping pill, so one was brought in a matter of minutes. Then, after midnight, I had a half-awake panic attack and tore off my wires and tubes to escape the bed. The on-duty male nurse thought I had gone crazy, and started asking me from a list of sanity/senility questions. He seemed to take it in stride however, made the bed, and hooked me up again, and let me sleep in a more comfortable position. I slept well after that.

The whole process was not fun, but the people were very courteous, professional and my life was probably saved and extended as a result. When I needed nurse assistance, which was often, I never had to wait more than one minute. I am indebted to both Kaiser and the 911 ambulance crew for the excellent care I was given. (This was my first time in an ambulance.) My wonderful wife Christa comforted me, dialed 911 and visited me often during this ordeal, fighting horrible LA County traffic. William Jr. also took time off work to visit.

I expect to get much more serious about weight reduction and limiting alcohol consumption to less than 1/3 the previous level. I now have a strong incentive to do so. Perhaps the attack was a "blessing in disguise". After about two weeks there will be followup visits to a cardiologist who was part of the Kaiser team, and to my "regular" Kaiser personal physician.


Ayecarumba Mar 19, 2012

Thank you for the write up Bill (or is it better to call you Wizard's Dad?). You gave us quite a scare. We are all relieved that you are still here to tell the tale. I enjoyed your input on the board before, and look forward to more in the future.

gambler Mar 19, 2012

Glad to hear that you are alright. To your continued good health and long life.

DJTeddyBear Mar 19, 2012

Glad to hear you're doing OK.

FleaStiff Mar 19, 2012

I sought no treatment for my first heart attack but I recently went to the local ER for what I thought was COPD exacerbation. I too had the angiogram and stent procedure but was knocked out on versed at the time and later the femoral artery was plugged by a bio-absorbable wedge. Ambulance ride was fun, I offered to drive but assured them I would stop at every donut and liquor store enroute. The medic was actually an air-evacuation medic and so we discussed some aviation issues. I had just come off a wide-open flow of heparin so my brain was having fun with images and associations. I hate that plastic jug too but sometimes they need to know the volume of urine output.

Nurses were generally nice in my situation but initially I was in a semi private room and the other guy was a lying jerk who made their jobs rough on them. I always pity the nurses who work night shifts, despite their differentials. Nurses didn't like my correcting their pronunciation of some of the drugs or asking how they calculated that dosage. One very young nurse asked why I used "medspeak" terms such as glucose, ambulatory, etc. I laughed at the low quantity and low quality meals, woke up just prior to 4am blood draw and snuck a smuggled tangerine or two and then they would get my glucose results and wonder about me. Protocols be damned!

I'm on various cardiac pills and get a lung function test soon. Generally pleasant memories, but I sure wish they wouldn't always give me a box of tissues. I happen to know its billed out at 1,200.00, even if its half empty.

And why do we need those wires hooked up ALL the time, can't we just unsnap them, have a shower, and then re-snap the wires?

Doc Mar 19, 2012

Dr. Shackleford, from one ME+Physics guy to another, it's good to hear that you made it through and have a path to recovery. Mike needs you around not just as a father but as a resource for this site -- he has too many cases of geeks and making-it-up-as-they-go-along experts telling everyone what's up, but they seem to fall in line when he cites you as his reference/arbitrator on matters of physics. Best of luck (i.e., hi positive EV and low variance) for the future.