3/26/2014

1.7 million hours

Over 80 years.

If I counted the days right (including leap years), my Grandma Raynor lived exactly 29,237 days. Over 1.7 million hours on this Earth.

Over 31 years.

If I counted those days right, that would be 11,041. That was how many days our lives crossed paths.

Not every one of those days was a day we saw each other, but her influence on my life has been felt in every single one of those days.

I can remember her being a part of my first baseball experience. I don't remember who else went. It was a Cubs game - I want to say about 1987 or 1988 - and I believe my favorite player at the time (Andre Dawson) hit a home run in that game. I remember having a great time and getting to experience it with my grandma.

From there, she was around for just about every major life event. First Communion, all my birthdays, graduations (I believe junior high, high school and college). Would have attended a Bar Mitzvah too if I was Jewish.

And that's the key - she was there.

As a kid, you don't realize how much you value the idea of someone being there for your little league games, your events that aren't really memorable later in life except for the fact that you can remember the people who went to see you.

And that sense of humor...

If there is someone who had a better sense of humor than my grandma did, especially for someone her age, I'd like to meet him or her. I've never met someone who was so easily able to make fun of herself, laugh at herself, as my grandma. Including myself, there have been three or four people who have had a Halloween costume based off of her, and she loved every minute of it.

Her laugh was infectious. You could make fun of her just as easily as she could make fun of you - and you knew it was out of love. In fact, it was something Jen just told me on the car ride back from the hospital as one of her first memories of my grandma and how she knew that I was a keeper - she could tell how much I loved my grandma based on her observations of our interactions that particular day.

I remember her knack for spending waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much on Christmas gifts (Sorry, I mean 'Santa'). Even at a young age, I knew we were getting spoiled way too much, yet she spent on her grand kids non-stop. We loved her for it, but I think most of us knew we had it too good. That's how grandma was.

It's weird to think that she's lived on her own without Grandpa for almost 17 years. The great thing in that time, however, is how much closer us grandkids (and probably even her own kids) were able to get to grandma.

So many great stories to tell from the nights my cousins and I spent the night over there, not enough censors to block everything out.

Marilyn Raynor was an amazing woman, and I am honored that I was able to share the last moments of her life amongst our family. She was at complete peace when death came calling. That is the dream.

She was a strong woman, much stronger than I gave her credit for. She was never a woman who gave up, even in death. She beat death, but death just needed to set up a best of 3 - which of course she won easily.

I'll always remember my last exchange with her on a cold Sunday afternoon in March, saying and signing "I love you", with her signing it back. If there's a lesson to be learned from all of this, as you say goodbye to someone for a day or the night, try to make that last interaction a positive one. I will always remember this exchange fondly.

Thank you to all who have shown your concern and your love. I love you right back and wish you nothing but the best.

3/23/2014

Am I Dying?

"Am I dying?"

These were words uttered by my grandma, my last remaining grandparent, to one of my aunts earlier today as she lay in her ICU bed.

Mortality is something we will all face, so when I heard my aunt retell this story, all I could think of saying is:

"Well, we all are dying right now."

Obviously not dying in the same way or at the same time. But all of us has an expiration date. Will it be tomorrow? Will it be 60 years from now? Who knows honestly.

Some of us are guided through this process by religion; some by other doctrines or life philosophies that guide us in our journey.

It's been a rough past couple weeks, as I learned that grandma was heading to the hospital with what seemed like a laundry list of things wrong with her. I knew it was a little more serious this time around than previous times, as her two siblings (one from the Atlanta area, another from downstate Illinois) came to visit to see how she was doing the previous weekend.

My mom was great in providing updates on her health, even though there's been very little good to report. Many of her vital organs seem to be failing her in some way. I don't care to get into all of it, but it seems like all of the problems she's had in the past are meeting together in a convergence that is making things difficult physically for her and emotionally for her daughters and the family.

Jen and I went to go visit her early Sunday afternoon. After putting on our scrubs and gloves, I went in and saw Grandma with a tube down her throat, unable to talk but can still communicate through some laser-type device hooked up to her right pointing finger. She spelled our names when we got there into my mom's hand as she read the letters she was "writing". It was really difficult to fight back tears. One of my aunts was doing as such, as I am guessing they have all been doing as they have been battling a lot of mental stress in deciding the best steps to proceed in this situation (none of which seem to offer much promise or are absent of severe complications). All I could do for her in that situation was give her a hug, as I think I will be doing a lot of in the next few weeks or so as this situation develops.

I was ecstatic that she is still mentally sharp, since she knew who we were still. She was able to hear everything we said and communicate her thoughts into my mom's hand. It was also very cathartic to sit next to her bedside and hold and rub her arm. It also made me really happy that Jen did the same thing. Not that she's got to worry about being part of the family, but it feels great that she can share in these moments when family is needed the most.

We spent about 30 minutes or so in the room and another 20-30 minutes in the waiting room before leaving the hospital. Before leaving her room, Jen and I said and signed "I love you" and grandma did the same.

It is tough and nearly impossible to deal with the failing health of a loved one that at one point in your life thought was invincible - I looked at all of my grandparents like that. My grandpas died months apart in my early teens, but I have been blessed to experience both of my grandmas (my dad's mom passing in 2011) into my adulthood.

I have also been blessed and extremely grateful for getting a chance to live within 5 miles of both of them - Grandma Bolek lived around the block while Grandma Raynor lived about a 10 minute car ride away.  Not too many kids have that luxury, and believe me, it's not something I've ever taken for granted.

I don't know what comes after today. All we can do is hope for the best. We already have a terrific network of family and friends who will support grandma and each other through these rough times.

Thanks for reading this far. Some point soon, I will share more thoughts about Grandma. It had been a while since I have written my thoughts into this blog, but with everything going on here, feel it to be helpful to share.

Love you all.

12/19/2013

Much Love, And Even More Tears

It will never make sense. There will be more questions than answers. Perhaps no answers will ever exist.

The endless hours of the night, unable to sleep. Pillow soaked in tears. The pain of losing a loved one at such a young age seared in the back of the brain.

Wondering - what did we do to deserve this? Why him? Why now?

This is the living hell I picture for my friend's family - one that I proudly call a second family, an extension of my own flesh and blood. A family I have known for almost half of my life now.

I caught wind of the bad news when my friend called me - a friend that never calls me, mind you - as I was picking up my sick girlfriend from her work. Before this, I had dropped her off, and she had been desperately trying to reach me to come back to her work moments after I dropped her off.

Unfortunately, my phone had dropped out of my coat pocket sometime between carrying the garbage bag of cat litter to the trash and starting the car on my morning quest to drop her off at work. I retrieved it as I was about to pull into my parking spot, only to see an incoming call from her.

I thought that was going to be the worst call I would receive in the morning. In some ways, I wish I left my phone in the snow, so that in some magical world, none of the bad news that came from it in the proceeding 10 minutes actually happened.

But when I saw my friend's caller-ID pop up a few blocks away from picking her up, I wasn't sure what to think in those brief seconds. What could he be calling for - a pocket dial?

His voice was choking up. He told me the tragic news through the cracking. I couldn't believe any of it. Any of what he told me. I blacked out everything he said after the first initial sentence he said, so when I did get off the phone with him, I was crying myself, unable to recall to my girlfriend on how it actually happened, but that it happened.

As the high sun of the afternoon faded into the darkness of my Wednesday, I tried contemplating the tragedy from every conceivable angle. Random bouts of tears occupied the afternoon. And of course, I thought of a similar "gone way way too soon" situation with my cousin, who died of a brain tumor at a very young age.

I thought of that situation and how it rattled and shook the foundation of our family. I was too young to understand everything that was happening at that time, but the effects of that never leave the individuals directly involved. Every Christmas Eve is a reminder of my cousin's birthday (she would be 33 next week), a rough time for my mom's side of the family, particularly for my aunt and cousins.

Sadly, I know that it's a pain that never goes away. The "what ifs" of how that person's life would be now if they were still alive are limitless. This thought alone can keep you up at night - and it probably will quite often.

The only thing we can do as humans in these situations is to live our lives in their honor. Represent what they did and what they were in their short lives. Beacons of youth, energy, curiosity, bewilderment, hope. The smiles are burned in the back of our retinas.

Know that, while the pain may never go away, we can fondly remember the brief flicker of life that they did have, the joy they brought into our lives, and know that they are still with us in a spiritual sense.

My most sincere condolences to my friend's family - my family, our family. We're all here for you. Much love, and even more tears.

12/14/2013

Week 15 Picks Go Here

New Future added. Let's gambooooool.

Week 15 Picks (So far)
SD +7 1H (1.25/1.0) & SD ML 1H (0.5/1.475) - W (+2.475)
SD +3 3Q (0.5/0.525) - W (+0.525)
SD +10 (1.62/1.5) & SD ML (0.5/2.175) - W (+2.675)
Wash +7 (2.2/2.0)
Hou +4.5 (1.02/1.0)
Buf -2.5 (1.715/1.5)
Wash/Hou ML parlay (0.5/3.9)
NYJ +10 (2.12/2.0)

*Note - when making two different bets on same team, I will treat it as one win or one loss, unless the results split. Whether you agree with this or not should not matter any. The units won/lost is the important thing. 

YTD: (61-67-3, -5.919)

Futures: (Bets graded thru Week 14: 2-2, +1.50 - not included into record/units yet)
Dallas to win SB (80/1) - 0.4 to win 32 (12/14/13)
Ten to win AFC South (+900) - 0.4 to win 3.60 (11/14/13) - L (-0.4)
Cle to make playoffs (+420) - 0.6 to win 2.52 (9/5/13)
NO to win SB (18/1) - 0.4 to win 7.2 (9/5/13)
NO Over 9 wins (-145) - 1.45 to win 1.00 (9/5/13) - W (+1.0)
Dal Over 8.5 wins (-105) - 1.05 to win 1.00 (9/5/13)
Car Over 7 wins/Cle Over 6 wins parlay (~+120) - 1.6 to win ~1.98 (9/2/13)
TB Under 7.5 wins (+125) - 1.2 to win 1.5 (9/2/13) - W (+1.50)
Dez Bryant most receiving yards (+800) - 0.9 to win 7.2 (8/29/13)
Balt not making playoffs (-105) - 1.68 to win 1.6 (8/26/13)
Cin to win SB (30/1) - 0.6 to win 18 (8/16/13)
Cin to win AFC North (+235) - 1.2 to win 2.82 (7/28/13)

12/09/2013

Week 14 Picks Go Here

Week 14 Picks (all picks were posted on Twitter). Posting this after the fact since originally didn't plan on doing Week 14. However, I decided to be a lot more selective with my picks, hence the less volume)

In the event I don't post on this blog before games start, I will be updating my picks/record on hustledouble.com.

Week 14 Picks

Cle +10 (-108) - 2.16 to win 2 - W (+2.0)
Cle ML (+400) - 0.5 to win 2 - L (-0.5)
Wsh +3.5 (-110) - 1.1 to win 1 - L (-1.1)
SF -2.5 (-105) - 1.575 to win 1.5 - L (-1.575)
SF pick'em 2H (-105) - 1.05 to win 1 - push (0)
NO -3 (-119) - 1.309 to win 1.1; -6.5 (+142) 0.4 to win 0.568; -9.5 (+197) - 0.3 to win 0.591; & -12.5 (+290) 0.3 to win 0.87 - all W (+3.13)
Dal/Chi Under 49.5 (1.512/1.4), Under 46 (0.5/0.7), Under 41.5 (0.4/0.892) - L (-2.412)
Dal/Chi Under 26.5 2H (1.08/1) - L (-1.0)

(Week 14 Record: 2-5-1, -1.538

*Note - when making two different bets on same team, I will treat it as one win or one loss, unless the results split. Whether you agree with this or not should not matter any. The units won/lost is the important thing. 

Week 14: 2-5-1, -1.538
YTD: (61-67-3, -5.919)

Futures: (Bets graded thru Week 14: 2-1, +2.10 - not included into record/units yet)
Ten to win AFC South (+900) - 0.4 to win 3.60 (11/14/13) - L (-0.4)
Cle to make playoffs (+420) - 0.6 to win 2.52 (9/5/13)
NO to win SB (18/1) - 0.4 to win 7.2 (9/5/13)
NO Over 9 wins (-145) - 1.45 to win 1.00 (9/5/13) - W (+1.0)
Dal Over 8.5 wins (-105) - 1.05 to win 1.00 (9/5/13)
Car Over 7 wins/Cle Over 6 wins parlay (~+120) - 1.6 to win ~1.98 (9/2/13)
TB Under 7.5 wins (+125) - 1.2 to win 1.5 (9/2/13) - W (+1.50)
Dez Bryant most receiving yards (+800) - 0.9 to win 7.2 (8/29/13)
Balt not making playoffs (-105) - 1.68 to win 1.6 (8/26/13)
Cin to win SB (30/1) - 0.6 to win 18 (8/16/13)
Cin to win AFC North (+235) - 1.2 to win 2.82 (7/28/13)

11/28/2013

Week 13 Picks Go Here

Week 13 Picks (So far)

GB +7 (-125) - (2.5 to win 2.0) - L (-2.5)

Teaser (GB +14.5/Dal -2.5/Balt +5) - (1 to win 1.3) - L (-1)
GB +19.5 (-115) in-game - (1.15/1) - L (-1.15)
Dal -9.5 (-105) - 2.1 to win 2 - L (-2.10)
Balt -3 (-105) - 1.575 to win 1.5 - L (-1.5)
Ari/Phi Over 48.5 - 2.08 to win 2.0 - L (-2.08)
Cle -7 - 2.04 to win 2.0 - L (-2.04)
Jax/Cle Over 40 - 1.62 to win 1.5 & Over 39 (0.54/0.5) - W (+2.0)
Ten +3.5 - 1.605 to win 1.5 - L (-1.605)
Chi ML (+105) - 1.5 to win 1.575 - L (-1.50)
KC +5 (-105) - 1.575 to win 1.5 - L (-1.575)
SD +2.5 (+101) - 1.5 to win 1.515 - L (-1.50)

(Week 13 results: 1-11, -16.475)





*Note - when making two different bets on same team, I will treat it as one win or one loss, unless the results split. Whether you agree with this or not should not matter any. The units won/lost is the important thing. 

YTD: (59-62-2, -4.381)

Futures: (Bets graded thru Week 13: 1-0, +1.50)
Ten to win AFC South (+900) - 0.4 to win 3.60 (11/14/13)
Cle to make playoffs (+420) - 0.6 to win 2.52 (9/5/13)
NO to win SB (18/1) - 0.4 to win 7.2 (9/5/13)
NO Over 9 wins (-145) - 1.45 to win 1.00 (9/5/13)
Dal Over 8.5 wins (-105) - 1.05 to win 1.00 (9/5/13)
Car Over 7 wins/Cle Over 6 wins parlay (~+120) - 1.6 to win ~1.98 (9/2/13)
TB Under 7.5 wins (+125) - 1.2 to win 1.5 (9/2/13) - W (+1.50)
Dez Bryant most receiving yards (+800) - 0.9 to win 7.2 (8/29/13)
Balt not making playoffs (-105) - 1.68 to win 1.6 (8/26/13)
Cin to win SB (30/1) - 0.6 to win 18 (8/16/13)
Cin to win AFC North (+235) - 1.2 to win 2.82 (7/28/13)

11/26/2013

Week 13 Match-ups by the Numbers

Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
1 Green Bay Packers 11 284 4668 16.43 746 67.81 6.3 15 1.36 7.3 4.8
26 Detroit Lions 11 277 4013 14.48 691 62.81 5.8 14 1.27 7 3.8
7 Detroit Lions 11 286 4533 15.84 762 69.27 5.9 21 1.90 7.1 4
24 Green Bay Packers 11 265 3956 14.92 700 63.63 5.7 10 0.90 6.6 4.3

Rk
Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
17 Oakland Raiders 11 213 3671 17.23 692 62.90 5.3 18 1.63 5.6 4.9
31 Dallas Cowboys 11 279 4754 17.03 772 70.18 6.2 23 2.09 6.8 5.1
11 Dallas Cowboys 11 298 3605 12.09 653 59.36 5.5 12 1.09 6.3 4
20 Oakland Raiders 11 269 3929 14.60 716 65.09 5.5 16 1.45 6.7 3.8

Rk
Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
21 Pittsburgh Steelers 11 243 3734 15.36 716 65.09 5.2 18 1.63 6.3 3.3
12 Baltimore Ravens 11 215 3619 16.83 716 65.09 5.1 16 1.45 6.1 3.7
31 Baltimore Ravens 11 227 3397 14.96 749 68.09 4.5 19 1.72 5.7 2.9
15 Pittsburgh Steelers 11 256 3775 14.74 711 64.63 5.3 14 1.27 6.2 4.2

Rk
Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
16 Tennessee Titans 11 250 3672 14.68 696 63.27 5.3 14 1.27 6.2 4.1
27 Indianapolis Colts 11 260 4060 15.61 696 63.27 5.8 15 1.36 7.1 4.4
12 Indianapolis Colts 11 263 3738 14.21 692 62.9 5.4 12 1.09 6.1 4.4
16 Tennessee Titans 11 245 3655 14.91 692 62.9 5.3 19 1.72 6.3 4.1
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
32 Jacksonville Jaguars 11 142 3113 21.92 692 62.9 4.5 19 1.72 5.4 2.9
1 Cleveland Browns 11 265 3367 12.70 757 68.81 4.4 13 1.18 5.2 3.4
30 Cleveland Browns 11 203 3548 17.47 751 68.27 4.7 20 1.81 5.1 3.8
23 Jacksonville Jaguars 11 324 4134 12.75 721 65.54 5.7 13 1.18 7 4.3
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
29 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11 211 3337 15.81 705 64.09 4.7 12 1.09 5.4 3.9
8 Carolina Panthers 11 151 3272 21.66 658 59.81 5 24 2.18 5.6 3.8
26 Carolina Panthers 11 258 3507 13.59 711 64.63 4.9 14 1.27 5.8 4
18 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 11 258 3807 14.75 702 63.81 5.4 22 2 6.3 4.1
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
8 Chicago Bears 11 303 4097 13.52 703 63.90 5.8 15 1.36 6.8 4.3
21 Minnesota Vikings 11 346 4411 12.74 786 71.45 5.6 14 1.27 6.6 4.1
14 Minnesota Vikings 11 266 3624 13.62 687 62.45 5.3 23 2.09 5.7 4.7
29 Chicago Bears 11 309 4136 13.38 685 62.27 6 22 2 7.1 4.9
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
15 Arizona Cardinals 11 254 3674 14.46 694 63.09 5.3 21 1.90 6.3 3.7
22 Philadelphia Eagles 11 260 4597 17.68 824 74.90 5.6 19 1.72 6.5 4.1
2 Philadelphia Eagles 11 276 4536 16.43 719 65.36 6.3 15 1.36 7.5 4.9
4 Arizona Cardinals 11 223 3488 15.64 729 66.27 4.8 23 2.09 5.5 3.5
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
24 Miami Dolphins 11 229 3410 14.89 683 62.09 5 18 1.63 5.5 4.1
7 New York Jets 11 287 3552 12.37 715 65 5 8 0.72 6.3 2.9
27 New York Jets 11 186 3468 18.64 702 63.81 4.9 24 2.18 5.6 4.2
13 Miami Dolphins 11 245 3944 16.09 764 69.45 5.2 18 1.63 5.9 4.2
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
10 Atlanta Falcons 11 227 3830 16.87 682 62 5.6 20 1.81 6.3 4
10 Buffalo Bills 11 273 3826 14.01 752 68.36 5.1 20 1.81 5.8 4.1
28 Buffalo Bills 11 236 3642 15.43 774 70.36 4.7 17 1.54 5.3 4.1
30 Atlanta Falcons 11 309 4193 13.56 692 62.90 6.1 8 0.72 7.3 4.6
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
18 New England Patriots 11 288 4080 14.16 784 71.27 5.2 15 1.36 5.8 4.3
6 Houston Texans 11 289 3194 11.05 644 58.54 5 8 0.72 5.6 4.2
22 Houston Texans 11 199 3998 20.09 764 69.45 5.2 20 1.81 5.8 4.4
11 New England Patriots 11 230 3961 17.22 783 71.18 5.1 23 2.09 5.5 4.5
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
20 St. Louis Rams 11 266 3571 13.42 687 62.45 5.2 14 1.27 5.8 4.3
5 San Francisco 49ers 11 184 3428 18.63 712 64.72 4.8 22 2 5.5 3.9
19 San Francisco 49ers 11 274 3394 12.38 651 59.18 5.2 16 1.45 6.3 4.3
25 St. Louis Rams 11 255 3942 15.45 688 62.54 5.7 22 2 7 4.1
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
3 Denver Broncos 11 429 4967 11.57 803 73 6.2 23 2.09 7.9 3.9
19 Kansas City Chiefs 11 179 3860 21.56 718 65.27 5.4 24 2.18 5.9 4.6
25 Kansas City Chiefs 11 270 3595 13.31 728 66.18 4.9 11 1 5.3 4.5
17 Denver Broncos 11 289 4158 14.38 767 69.72 5.4 20 1.81 6.4 3.7
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
13 Cincinnati Bengals 11 275 4010 14.58 756 68.72 5.3 22 2 6.5 3.7
32 San Diego Chargers 11 260 4285 16.48 668 60.72 6.4 9 0.81 7.3 4.9
5 San Diego Chargers 11 269 4485 16.67 722 65.63 6.2 13 1.18 7.8 4
2 Cincinnati Bengals 11 206 3444 16.71 745 67.72 4.6 20 1.81 5 4
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
23 New York Giants 11 213 3563 16.72 694 63.09 5.1 30 2.72 6.1 3.6
28 Washington Redskins 11 338 4203 12.43 696 63.27 6 17 1.54 7.6 4
9 Washington Redskins 11 252 4311 17.10 768 69.81 5.6 19 1.72 6.1 4.9
9 New York Giants 11 280 3688 13.17 729 66.27 5.1 19 1.72 5.9 3.7
Rk Tm G Pts Yds Yds/Pt Ply Plys/G Y/P ▾ TO TO/G NY/A Y/A
4 New Orleans Saints 11 305 4565 14.96 739 67.18 6.2 13 1.18 7.6 3.9
3 Seattle Seahawks 11 179 3226 18.02 697 63.36 4.6 26 2.36 5 4.2
6 Seattle Seahawks 11 306 3943 12.88 673 61.18 5.9 15 1.36 7.4 4.5
14 New Orleans Saints 11 196 3409 17.39 652 59.27 5.2 17 1.54 5.5 4.8