Saturday, September 3, 2016

I'm going to college...again

I graduated with an undergraduate degree in Biology about 32 years ago. Since then I've accomplished a lot, I went to medical school, did a residency, and built up a respected and successful medical practice. And in that time I've forgotten all I learned those many years ago.

I ended up becoming a physician because I had a deep love of the elegance of science. Everything I learned had this incredible logic and my passion that drove me was to explore and learn. Somehow as the years have gone by I have forgotten all that great knowledge.

Have you ever wondered if you went to school now would it feel different? I was so goal oriented in school sometimes I worry that I missed something about the magic of learning. I even have feared that trying to learn again would be so difficult at this point in life that I might become discouraged or frustrated.

I also worry about my mind becoming stale and unwelcoming to new ideas. I know that studies show that if we don't keep our minds stimulated there is a much greater risk of dementia. I read a lot but passive thinking is not nearly as effective at mental simulation as an active task. Puzzles and mind games have been proven to decrease the pace and even reverse cognitive decline. Unfortunately, mind games bore me. About the only time I can tolerate them is on an airplane. I listen to stimulating radio shows like TED talks, Freakonomics, and others but I still feel I need to do more.

One thought I had was to see if I could remember my old science education. I tried to remember everything I could about biology, physics, chemistry, and math. I realized I just couldn't recall chemistry or any of my higher mathematics. So, I decided to explore what was available on the Web.

Many of you probably know this, but I was not aware that the Khan Academy has essentially all of the lectures for college courses including all of the basic sciences. So about 2 weeks ago I went back to college and began studying chemistry again.

Fortunately, I discovered I haven't lost my knowledge I have only misplaced it in some dark corner of my mind. Each lecture brings back that knowledge and as it does I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. I find it ironic that I am so excited to relearn concepts like ionic and covalent bonds or how the elements interact or how to solve a stoichiometric equation.

In a very short time I have already completed about 6 weeks of learning. Obviously, I am at a distinct advantage, I did learn this all before. But, the rememory process is highly stimulating. I am convinced I will keep going until I have repeated all of those courses. I will probably toss in a few I never experienced before as well.

I would probably repeat my medical school course as well if they are available. Am I crazy? I don't think so. The second time around I get to see how this knowledge I am using on a daily basis fits. The first time learning I was so focused on cramming the knowledge in to my head so I could excel on exams but this second time I get to see the true practicality of it.

My mom asked me today if I see how chemistry fits into the practice of medicine. What I notice is that I don't think directly about the science but I realized that the problem solving process is similar. All those years of studying S and P orbitals actually makes a difference.

So while all of you are frolicking this weekend there is a very good chance my mind will be buried in a lecture on chemical equations. We'll see who had more fun!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Barbara For President

Ok, it is official, Barbara Lavorato has agreed to run for president of the United States. You may recall I mentioned that Barbara was my choice in a blog I wrote about a month ago. If all of you feel like I do that the two candidates nominated by the dominant parties have completely failed to impress then you may want to write in Barbara Lavorato as I plan in November. Now, you may feel you need to know a little bit more about Barbara so with her permission I am going to fill in some details. Today I saw Barbara and she is agreeing to run and has answered some of my questions regarding her background. The easiest way to learn about Barbara is to compare and contrast.

1. Like our two major candidates Barbara is a senior, she recently turned 72.
2. She is a strong supporter of the military but unlike the major candidates she actually has family in the military, her two beloved twin nephews who she would consider before placing them or their friends in harms way.
3. Barbara has worked her whole life, ironically she was a government employee working for the IRS. Even more ironic, she did not become one of the wealthiest people in our country by being paid for speeches. Perhaps even more ironic, she never used a personal email server for government work.
4. Like Trump she is skeptical of Obamacare, unlike Trump she would not throw it out. Unlike Clinton she would not expand it without paying for it and unlike Sanders she knows nothing is free.
5. Barbara doesn't care what happens in the bedroom and she really doesn't care who gets married to whom.
6. She thinks building a really big wall won't do really anything except make it harder to visit really nice places in Mexico. 
7. School isn't free, someone had to pay for it like she did. Her nephews joined the air force to pay for theirs.
8. Free trade isn't free, she likes her foreign built cell phone but is worried about bad deals.
9. Regarding deals, she always worked to make reasonable ones as an IRS investigator.
10. No bankruptcies
11. Actually worked with others, played well, had superiors and inferiors in the office and everyone got along.
12. Never made a corrupt land deal
13. No big inheritance and no spouse to stand on the shoulders of.
14. Really, really,really nice.
15. She cares about the environment, she's worried about global climate change, she knows that scientists know more about science than she does. And she's pretty convinced the planet is more than 5,000 years old.
16. She believes in the power of prayer when she's worried about someone she loves, she believes in the power of common sense when trying to develop a way to deal with climate change, world conflict and natural disasters.
17. Putin has neither endorsed nor critiqued her.
18. She is a strong supporter of Israel as an American ally and stabilizing force.
19. If I didn't mention it before, she's really really nice.
20. She must be really smart because she likes me.

A vote for Barbara is a vote for sanity. If you have the same level of discomfort I have about the complete lack of logic in Trump and morals and ethics in Clinton then like me you want to vote for somebody that doesn't turn your stomach.

So why vote for somebody who has essentially no chance of winning the election? I want to be able to look myself in the mirror and not feel that I am traitor to my beliefs. Face the facts, Clinton is almost sure to win. She has gotten to this position with a lot of cheating, manipulation and probably illegal activity. I certainly believe her behavior in the Whitewater scandal in the 90's was illegal. She may not be the first criminal elected to the highest office but I refuse to assist her.
A vote for Trump is not a vote against Clinton as much as it is a vote for an obnoxious, foul mouthed bully who lacks any political skills, and is mostly lacking in any substantial ideas. The few ideas he does have are either illogical, not doable, or might place us in a huge international conflict.

I know that in 20 years if my kids ask me who I voted for I don't want to feel like I chose the lesser of two awful choices. I would rather feel good that I found someone who is caring, and not controlled by big influential lobbyists or influenced by billions of dollars that they probably want to grow at my expense.

So a vote for Barbara is a vote to say something about our future. And that is "Dammit I'm not gonna take it anymore!" Yes, I know that slogan has been used before. But, it does express the fact that if the major political parties can't do better than this then they can forget about my vote. But I'm not going to stay home, I am going to vote for Barbara.

I warned Barbara today that  based upon early polling she is likely to get two or three write in votes in Santa Cruz and maybe one in Michigan if my mom can be convinced. If any of you want to join the Barbara for President campaign I'd love to know.

Heck you never know, we might get four votes in Santa Cruz.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Why I can't vote for Hillary or Donald

I feel terribly conflicted, do you? My conflict isn't about how the upcoming election will affect me but rather the impact it will have on my children. I recall as a child looking at our elections every four years as the time my parents made their choice as to the future they wanted my family to have. If your family was like mine they didn't always agree and more often than not my parents canceled each other out in their choice of candidates. But, this cancelation had more to do with political direction than the candidates themselves.

For example, my dad is fiscally conservative. He's a businessman and his primary concern has always been the survival of his company. He prefers minimal government intervention, low taxes, reasonable trade restrictions and the right to pay and benefit his workers as he sees what is best for his company. I don't think he was a big fan of Richard Nixon's personality and he probably wasn't an enthusiastic supporter but his company prospered during that presidency and he voted to reelect him in 1972.

In 1980 my father's business was in trouble, he was unable to take any income out and he worried about the very survival of his 40 year old family enterprise. As you can imagine he voted for Reagan, his business recovered and he did again four years later. I am pretty sure my dad has been a consistent Republican his entire life.

My mother has had a different feeling about how to influence the future. As a caregiver she always has been much more concerned about social issues. As many of us are aware Republicans don't have a great track record supporting social issues, primarily because they conflict with fiscal conservatism. I think early on my mother voted with dad tilting in favor of the business but as years went by I am pretty sure this changed. Her sister was disabled and depended on state support and as her mother aged she relied upon social security and Medicare. Mom supported Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.I'm pretty sure this frustrated my fiscally conservative father.

I watched my parents discuss their decisions and I saw their frustration with each other. But, I never heard them say they thought the other was making a choice for a morally or ethically bankrupt person.

Unfortunately, 2016 is such a year where I believe the two primary candidates are morally or ethically bankrupt. I wish I could just vote the impact on my wallet or the social issues. That would make the decision easy. Hillary will probably raise taxes, increase regulation and probably slow economic growth. On the other hand, she will probably be much more favorable to immigrants, legal and otherwise, support personal choices, and maintain a safety net. Trump, is more likely to keep taxes lower, minimize regulation and be less likely to retard growth, but he has little sympathy for the unfortunate and no recognition of climate change.

But, political positions are not what I an voting about this year. This year I am really thinking about my children and their future. When I parent my children I tell them not to play with bullies, avoid people who lack moral character, are prone to unethical behavior, and have a disregard of others.

So, how do I vote in an election where the two primary candidates reflect most if not all of these unsavory characteristics? Hillary has years of behaviors that reflect this. Not just the recent email debacle, but one has to look at the whole Whitewater investigation. The Washington Post has a very remindful article today, . OK, what about Trump? Well, he lacks any political scandals but he has many business issues which call into question his moral and ethical qualities. He has many years of hooking investors into weak business enterprises that go down in flames yet somehow he emerges unscathed and wealthier. Yes, bankruptcy is legal, but an ethical captain of a ship goes down with it. Also, is it just me or do others see him as the obnoxious school bully we all tried to avoid?

Under better circumstances I would be intrigued by a candidate with no political experience. There would be no big donors pushing an agenda, no career in politics to tank. But, Trump's lack of political experience does not mean he has avoided conflict and his long track record of questionable business practices and thorough lack of empathy and insight makes him just as bankrupt in the soul as Clinton.

So what do I do? For my children's sake I don't believe I can vote for either of these people. That would be a complete contradiction of all of the moral and ethical guidance I have been trying to instill. My friend, Barbara, offered to be a write in candidate. This pleasant, intelligent woman is fiscally conservative, cautious about international conflict, worried about social issues. She has two grandchildren in the military. She gets it!  I'm pretty sure she has the moral and ethical values I am looking for. She has never run for public office, probably doesn't even know how to sign up. I'm pretty sure there aren't any big donors influencing her.

Barbara has the lack of experience I'm looking for. Not Trump's. I bet if you look around you probably know someone just like Barbara. I have to believe in a country of nearly four hundred million people we can find at least a couple who despite having different points of view are still good people.

I'm not a politician, I don't know how to solve this problem, and I will probably be writing Barbara's name on a ballot in a few months. I know she won't win. But, I have a responsibility to my children not to vote for someone who lacks the moral character to lead the greatest nation on earth.

If you agree with me, please share this post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Time to Quarantine?

The question we need to ask ourselves is whether our officials are making the right decisions regarding this Ebola outbreak. I am sure you have heard the CDC say that there is no way an infectious outbreak of Ebola could occur in our country like it has in Liberia and Sierra Leone. This is because we have too sophisticated of a healthcare system and our population is able to exercise appropriate hygiene.

I beg to differ. In my opinion I am beginning to believe that Dr. Anthony Fauci of NIH and Dr. Frieden of the CDC are not only wrong but maybe it is time for them to step down as head of their respective departments. While I agree that we are unlikely to have a scenario such as that seen in those West African countries where the corpses are tossed into the river we have duplicated their problem of having a healthcare worker using appropriate precautions now contracting this dreadful disease. Now, the CDC is reconsidering whether every hospital in the country is able to handle this disease. This is no surprise to me as we have seen hundreds of healthcare workers in Africa sickened and dying from this disease due to exposure at work while doing their best to exercise appropriate precautions.

My concern as I stated in my last post is not that we will have a massive outbreak of uncontrolled Ebola but rather the financial devastation an outbreak would cause our country. We need to look at the amount of effort we are expending in Dallas for a single patient that brought this disease to our country. We are now monitoring 50 people, one of whom has developed the disease, we have hundreds of CDC professionals in the city of Dallas both monitoring the disease as well as reassuring the public.

Do we have the resources to respond to this degree if we have individuals in multiple locations being diagnosed and treated for this condition? At what point does the cost of fighting the disease as well as the lack of adequate professionals trained in caring for the disease become overwhelming? I think we each need to ask ourselves if we would modify our behavior if someone in our community developed Ebola. Would you take your child out of school? Stop going to parks and other recreational activities? Would you treat a coworker differently who comes to work coughing and sneezing? If you were a healthcare worker would you feel confident that the patient you were seeing in your office or the emergency room was not a dangerous carrier of this disease?

I suspect that many of you would answer yes to at least one of the questions above. Therefore if we this infection is not contained to the two people in Texas we might see dramatic changes in behavior as we act to protect ourselves and in the process our economy could come to a serious halt. We must remember that the act of 911 where 3000 people died resulted in the freezing of aviation for only two days. How many days would we be shutting down airports if we were worried about the disease spreading throughout our country?

I think it is time to state the obvious. The inherent dangers in this disease require a much more aggressive response than we have seen by our government. I am not reassured that checking body temperature on individuals traveling from the countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea is adequate to prevent additional transmissions in our country. I believe that anyone who has traveled to those countries should not be allowed to enter the United States until they have passed the 21 day incubation period. While this may seem inconvenient to the 200 people a day who wish to enter our country it is a hazard we should not risk!

Finally, now that I have finished ranting I would like to announce I have completed 5 more chapters of "Virestorm" and I will begin sharing them on this blog. Check back soon to see them posted.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Are You Afraid of Ebola? You Should Be...

Why? Many of you have read the first few chapters of my story "Virestorm" about a nefarious plot to trigger an outbreak of Avian flu. If that seems frightening the possibilities with Ebola are truly staggering.

Let's start with a few statistics.  As of 9/30 7400 people contracted the disease and 3439 have died. We have now had our first confirmed case on US soil and Spain has had their first. The disease has a 50% mortality and is transmitted in blood, urine, saliva, sweat,  and feces. The dormant period is up to 3 weeks and you are contagious when you have initially mild symptoms of fever, sore throat and cough.

OK, big deal, the CDC says they will have no trouble containing the outbreak in Texas monitoring the 50 exposed people. Texas doesn't scare me, what scares me is what Texas tells me could happen.
Give me a moment to expand. I was talking to a biomedical expert 2 weeks ago and she confirmed the virus can live on soiled clothing for at least a few days. I can think of lots of ways trouble could happen. When I was talking to a friend about it on Saturday he thought I was describing a new Clancy novel.

So, let's imagine there is an evil person or group who wants to cause terror and disruption. How might they do it and could the plot already be in action? Maybe our person in Texas was just a test to see if the virus could make it into the country and to see how well we responded. If that's the case the hospital failed the initial test as Mr. Duncan was sent home contagious. During the next few days he was in contact with many people.  But, the scary aspect of this is how easily he made it here and once ill was able to circulate among the population.

What would happen if someone was able to gain access to tissue and bring it here? I don't think the idea is too farfetched. I was just reading that in the poorer areas of Africa people are tossing infected bodies into the local rivers for disposal. How hard would it be for a Jihadi to grab one of these bodies and take a chunk of diseased tissue and put it on dry ice or liquid nitrogen and manage to bring it in to our country?

Once here he could walk through a crowded subway rubbing infected tissue onto unsuspecting hands. I'm sure someone would end up rubbing an eye or nose or mouth and perhaps this person would start their 21 day incubation period. What happens when the unsuspecting person becomes contagious with typical flu symptoms a few weeks later and is transmitting the virus to others on public transportation? Imagine a few people doing this in a few major cities. If Jihadists are willing to blow themselves up I believe they would be willing to die of a tragic disease to achieve their aims.
How disrupted would our economy be when hundreds if not thousands of people became either infected or placed in quarantine? We can't forget that taking down two office towers and killing 3,000 people resulted in a severe impact on our nation and economy.

You can even twist the plot a little. Our own president was riding an elevator a few weeks ago with an uncleared contractor with a bad history and was carrying a weapon. Maybe the sloppy secret service could allow someone with an Ebola tainted cloth come in contact with the President or a family member or member of the cabinet. Maybe aim low and just infect a US congressman.

I think that if 9/11 caused us trouble we have no idea how bad it could really be. Forget about grounding airplanes. If we had a well orchestrated attack we would be shutting down transportation, schools, sporting events. The list goes on.

You are reasonable if you ask if there is anything we can do. I don't think we can completely prevent something this evil but I think we better be prepared. Personally, I am beginning to think that anyone traveling from those areas of Africa should be placed in 21 days quarantine. And I'm not afraid of us forfeiting some civil liberties for the next few months particularly regarding monitoring of telephone and electronic communications. I also suggest being prepared to park yourself and your family at home for at least a few weeks if something does happen.

That reminds me, I better tell my wife to buy some more canned goods!

Thursday, September 25, 2014


On my first day of medical school one of the first lectures we attended we were told that even though we would be studying and memorizing facts we should expect that everything would change and that in 20 years we would probably find out everything we had learned was no longer correct. I took that bit of wisdom to heart and I maintained a healthy skepticism of everything we were taught.

About six months in to medical school we were studying renal, kidney, physiology and the associated pathologic diseases.  One of the most important of these is hypertension or high blood pressure. The kidney in the process of filtering our blood is responsible for controlling how much water is excreted as well as maintenance of our electrolytes such as potassium and sodium.

According to our professor increased sodium intake in the form of table salt leads to water retention and therefore hypertension. According to our professor the main way to manage this was via sodium restriction. The study referenced basically showed that if a group of patients went on a severe restriction of sodium their blood pressure went down. Also if they took medication that depleted sodium it would have the same impact. The conclusion was that sodium intake caused high blood pressure.

To my critical mind the conclusion wasn't necessarily supported by the facts. Just because the blood pressure decreases in a person with hypertension when the sodium goes down didn't mean the sodium caused the problem in the first place. At the time in the mid 80's we didn't have a lot of medication and this was one of the primary treatment methods.

At the end of the lecture I approached the professor and stated my concern that the conclusion made wasn't necessarily supported. The professor looked at me like I was a complete idiot and said I was wrong and of course he was right. Unfortunately, the way I was spoken to discouraged me from confronting faculty in the future. I chose to keep my criticisms to myself. I can only assume other students of medicine or science must have experienced this as well and may have held back on their expresson of critical thinking which is vital to the advancement of science and medicine.

Over the years we have all learned of previous dogma that many years later was proven wrong. One recent major example had to do with cholesterol and heart disease. Decades ago when heart disease started increasing scientist looked at the blood vessels especially in the heart and saw atherosclerosis plaques blocking the blood flow. These plaques looked like cheese under the microscope and were indeed full of cholesterol.  The conclusion was that cholesterol caused heart disease. The result was a complete change of the American diet to low fat, low protein, high carbohydrate diets. Ironically these changes have had no benefit in managing heart disease and has caused a huge jump in diabetes. We now know that the food pyramid was wrong and it is OK to eat meat, eggs, butter, and milk.

The pharmaceutical industry is still focused on lowering our cholesterol but there are no studies showing benefit in otherwise healthy people and very limited benefit in those with heart disease. In fact what does help is advice any mother could give. Eat a balanced diet, fresh vegetables, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly.

Now back to the original reason why I wrote this story. Yesterday I was reading time magazine and they quoted a scientific study that showed that dietary sodium intake in otherwise healthy people had no impact on high blood pressure. While i was glad to see this l can only guess it took 30 years to reverse this dogma because inquisitive critical thinkers were discouraged from questioning these ideas. In fact, I think it takes a great deal of courage to be willing to go against accepted opinions. When a courageous person is shot down early in their career we as a society potentially lose a great deal.

Fortunately, those who know me will confirm that despite the occasional episode of discouragement I remain eager to express my critical reviews of dogmatic ideas that aren't well supported by the facts. We should all remember to be patient and supportive of those who are willing to swim against the current for they may be the next one to discover the real answer to that which plagues us.

Friday, September 19, 2014

7 Pounds in 7 Weeks! Thanks to my 12 Year Old Dietician

I really have lost 7 pounds in 7 weeks and it wasn't hard so I feel compelled to share this. This isn't the first time i lost weight and I wouldn't describe myself as someone who desperately needs to lose weight but like most of you I want to look and feel good.

I imagine many of you have noticed the same thing I have which is that as I get older my weight goes up. This has happened despite exercising 3 to 4 times a week. I also am afflicted with stratospheric cholesterol and lipids. That did improve with medication but I had severe side effects which could be the subject of a post in the future. So for 20 years I have played with my diet following the food pyramid avoiding red meat eating grains and fruits and vegetables. I even tried being a vegetarian several years ago.

Despite all those efforts my weight slowly went up. I weighed about 165 when I finished my residency at 32. By the time I was 39 I weighed 175 and just looked chubby. But, then over the next year I last 16 pounds.  This was a result of two factors. I started surfing which was responsible for about 2 pounds. The other 14 were because I went through a divorce and was anxious and  lost my appetite. I don't recommend that weight loss program and my current wife who is beautiful, wonderful and perfect has voted against the strategy.

Anyway, after the divorce over the next 11 years my weight slowly climbed to 177.5. This occurred despite watching my diet and exercising. I did notice over the years that my weight would drop a pound or two if I stopped consuming alcohol. Also I would have a drop a couple days after returning from a surfing vacation. But the weight would creep back up.

Now, I'm sure many of you are familiar with the recent diet trends such as the paleo diet or the Adkins diet. I have considered them too much of a fad and also not really the way I want to eat. I even had a friend try to convince me to do the fasting diet. In that one you basically starve yourself once a week for at least 24 hours. The idea is that fasting causes a systemic glucose depletion and so fat will be burned at a high rate to replace the necessary brain food. That one just seemed to hard for me.

So, I was in Michigan 8 weeks ago. Michigan is usually very bad on my waistline. I feared returning home with a new record weight. I was at dinner with my close friend, Ross Halpern and his son Ariel. Ariel is a bright high energy 12 year old. Ross and I are discussing our slow weight gain over the years and how frustrating it is. Ariel interrupted Ross and said "Dad you need to go back on your no carb diet! " Ross agreed and took his piece of bread he was ready to bite and put it down. Ironically, skinny Ariel immediately grabbed it and ate it.

Ross went on to tell me that whenever he did a strict low carb diet he would lose weight. Ariel was pleased to confirm his father's success. I told them it would be wayy too hard for me to give up carbs. I like them too much. But, I was going with my family in a couple of days to family camp in northern Michigan and I thought maybe I would work on it there.

So, I did do my best at camp. I wasn't going to skip all carbs but i gave up on breads and other starches. Sometimes I would break down in the evening but I stayed pretty true. When we got back to California my weight surprisingly was stable at 177. I decided to hold the course with some exceptions. I decided I wouldn't eat my morning oatmeal and instead would do a protein bar. For lunch I would give up bread but I was going to increase the meats and make big salads.

A strange thing happened. I noticed my appetite went down. I also found myself not as tired in the afternoon. I like to weigh myself everyday. This is against all the books but I know my weight fluctuates and I like to keep mental track of my highest high and my lowest low. So by the end of the first week at home my high was 177 and my low was 176.

The next week I peaked at 176.5 and bottomed at 175. At that point I thought it was intriguing but not a trend. In fact i was so skeptical I didn't say a word to my wife. But nonetheless I stayed true and despite my skepticism I wasn't hungry and things progressed.

About 2 weeks ago I asked Cynthia if she noticed anything and she said my face looked skinnier. I noticed pants that were tight 2 months ago were fitting nicely. I started to think a real tend was happening. I didn't want to share any of this until i crossed a significant milestone. For me that was a week where I consistently hit 172.5. That was my old standard weight where I could wear a 32 inch waist pants.

I crossed that last week. This week i peaked at 172.5 and my low shocked me at 170.5. I haven't been there in over 5 years. So now I'm beginning to think this is more than a trend. The interesting thing is that I'm not doing a no carb diet. I'm only avoiding breads and starchesee for breakfast and lunch. Dinner I do whatever I want including a cocktail if I desire. I have increased my protein and even the fats.

I've thought a lot about why this is working so well for me. Obviously,  my metabolism is performing very well with this. I believe that since there are no simple carbs after dinner until dinner the next day my body is forced to burn fat for glucose. I'm not starved but my body has to adjust.  When I do eat carbs at night it isn't enough to carry my body in to the next day.

The result is burning fat without much discomfort. I don't know how this will impact my cholesterol and lipids. I'm going to wait until I get down to 168, my ideal weight,  and then get tested. At this point I'm very hopeful. You can be assured I will let you know.

Realistically we are all different and what works for me may not work for you but if you give it a try and it works, or even if it doesn't let me know. By the way, I still exercise 3 to 4 days a week and I think that is critical to success.

Finally, I would like to thank my 12 year old buddy Ariel for pushing me to do this.