Archive for September, 2009

When Peter Pan had to Grow Up: On Favre vs. The Packers

I was an idealist.

When Brett Lorenzo Favre retired, I deemed that my childhood had officially ended.  It was that moment where the man who I had watched quarterback my beloved Green Bay Packers for so many years had rode off into the sunset through a tear-filled press conference that I watched on my laptop with two other grown men who were at the onset of tears as well.

“What a perfect ending to a perfect career,” I thought. I can cherish this in peace.

What has ensued since has been the best real live enactment of “bizzaro world” from Seinfeld that anyone could ever conjure on this planet.  Favre unretires. Drama. Packers say they don’t want him. Drama. Favre demands to be traded. Drama. Packers offer $20 million to be a spokesperson. Drama. Favre gets traded to the anthesis of Green Bay – New York – with a specific stipulation that the Jets would forfeit their first round draft picks for the next three years if they flip Favre to the arch nemesis Vikings.

Drama. Favre plays, almost reaches the playoffs, then retires. Again.

Drama. Favre hints at coming back to – the VIKINGS! He’s in, he’s out, he says no.

Wait – No! With a week of training camp left to play, Favre says he’s in. And in a white bronco, he speeds from the Minneapolis Airport to training camp and then leads his team to a 3-0 start with an unbelievable come-from-behind victory.

Seriously folks – this isn’t scripted.  Just listen to the talking heads for a while.

The most read piece on my blog is what I wrote about Favre a year and a half ago. It was everything I loved about growing up watching #4 play his heart out. I’d been waiting to write it for years. I had a storehouse of memories that I was anticipating to get out of my head and into print as to how a quarterback shaped a boy, who became a man, and who still picks up a football and thinks he can be like Brett.

But that wasn’t the way it was to be. And I can’t help but think how life mirrors what we’ve seen with the Favre drama.

As much as I pulled all the lessons out of Favre’s life, I can’t help but think how the last 18 months have illustrated the dark side as well. And ironically, in the last couple of years, I’ve experienced more of the dark side of life than I’ve ever seen before. When experiencing great disappointment in life in the past, there was always #4 to watch at one point in time to see that life wasn’t going to, as U2 sung in Acrobat, “let the bastards grind you down.” (My second favorite U2 song).  Brett might not have won every game, but he always went down fighting. He wouldn’t let the bastards grind him down.

But for the Packers’ faithful, this week it becomes real. Favre isn’t in some bizarro world. We’re the bastards grinding him down now. It’s real.  And the one constant we would watch to remember to just keep going…is now the opponent. He’s the enemy.

And that goes against every bone in my body. I’ll be cheering against Brett Favre.

I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Are there any happy endings anymore?

The longer I live, the harder it is to be an idealist.  I see so few happy endings. The more experience I get in all areas of life, the more I see how sin has really stained the world. It’s just not as it should be. Ministry teaches you that more than ever. Whoever thought people in ministry are sheltered needs a reality check – if you do your job right, you’ll encounter sin as you’ve never seen it before – even in the holiest of people.

I’ve seen several friends who have abandoned happily ever after to the good ol’ American, “Yankee Pragmatism” where we settle for good ideas to be partially realized and partially fulfilled, and spin the partial failure into success. It’s because our image-conscious society wants winners, and if you don’t win you aren’t worth talking about. If you can’t sum it up in a 10 word pithy statement, it’s not worth saying now, is it?

Question: If all things are being made new, then why is Favre wearing a Vikings uniform?

Question: If all things are being made new, why do we feel pain and brokenness more deeply once we’ve begun following Jesus.

However overly dramatic this might be, the whole bit of this week’s drama for Favre vs. the Packers reminds me of one thing: The world isn’t as it should be.  Peter Pan should never have had to grow up.

How delusional is my solution to the health care crisis?

I was having breakfast today with one of my alumni who is in the MD-Ph.D. program at Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and I passed my idea by him. He actually said this made sense, so I figured I’d float it past the crew and see what everyone else thought.

I’m not an expert on this – by any means. I’ll take criticism on my ideas without taking it personally. I would welcome other opinions.

I also choose not to participate in the 24-hour television news craze that sucks in so many. I really think it helps reduce my stress and (ironically) makes me healthier to not sit in front of the boob-tube and go the the repetition news show of repetition.

The Bilhorn Health Care Plan

1. Primary Care (defined as basic preventative maintenance) is provided for all US Citizens and registered foreign residents.

Ask any medical student where the money is at in the health care system, and it’s in secondary care. That’s not rocket science. We can say our system “is the best in the world” because what it does is provides incredible care to those who can afford it and when you have the means, it is great. Really, it is.

But it’s great because it follows the money trail and when you don’t have money you can’t get on the trail.

Then you can die of dysentery – like in Oregon Trail.

(Or you can die by eating 984 pounds of buffalo meat in a single sitting so none of it goes bad.)

So we need to somehow get primary care back as the overall focus of health care in the US. That is the basic premise of my plan.

Why do this? Two reasons – one obvious and one not so obvious.

The obvious reason: People need to go to the doctor regularly. This is simple. People have at least an annual visit to their physician and find out where they are healthy and not so healthy, and regularly address those issues.  If we really wanted to put some teeth to this, we’d actually revoke health care privileges for people who, year after year, repeatedly do not go to the doctor and do not address their  health issues and simply then receive a substandard plan. It’s a “use it or lose it” philosophy.

But I’m guessing that won’t be popular. At all.

The not-so-obvious reason: We need to create more market opportunities for primary care physicians. They are swamped and overwhelmed. My medical friends tell me that the primary care physicians that are happy tend to be in rural areas and know their patients over a longer period of time. Most everywhere else – not so.

The money is in secondary care, and to pay for medical school you need to make money to pay back your loans. Government spending in this arena could actually create a market that isn’t currently attractive and medical schools would pump out more primary care physicians.

The trick on this is to define primary care very, very precisely.  I don’t know how to do that. Anyone wanna help?

2. Exercise programs are included as preventative care, and funded under primary care. Why are we so unhealthy as a nation? One big reason is we don’t exercise. This would help stimulate another area of health in our country and we’d spend money on more preventative maintenance that would allow for us to actually cut costs long term. This is cost savings that won’t be realized until 20-30 years down the road, but we do need to get substantially healthier as a nation.  We need to create a culture of health in our country – and expecting people to work out would be a great thing for our country.

3. Somehow the healthcare program would create incentives for nutrition. How can we actually eat healthier as a nation? I’ve been convicted of this and am being more intentional to fit 5 fruits and vegetables in my diet every day. It’s a start, right?

But spend any time in a low income area, and nutritious food isn’t nearly as accessible or available to the greater populous.  One of the activities I’ve done with my students when I’ve lived in low income areas is to make observations at the grocery store. They are shocked to see no skim milk, over ripe produce in small quantities, and everything pre-packaged so it can have a long shelf life.

Conversely, taxing unhealthy food enterprises (pub-grub, fast-food, and even my beloved Chicago-style pizza) should probably happen as well. Kinda like how we have certain gas mileage standards for cars? Maybe we should do the same for restaurants. That will NOT be popular at all.

But neither is broccoli.

Businesses won’t start in places like this because there are no incentives for start-up enterprises. The Libertarians will hate me for this, but sometimes government must step in to create a market that will aid the overall public interest.

Take the example of a lighthouse: how in the world is it profitable to run a lighthouse? People will take advantage of it and use it, but will anyone actually go and pay for it? That’s where licensing and other fees go to actually pay for people to run the lighthouse.

In the case of exercise, nutrition, and primary care, we are failing as a nation as we are becoming more sedentary, obese, and getting unhealthier every day.  I never thought we’d come to a day where we had to incentivize personal health, but we are here.

I know I’m oversimplifying the issue, but I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts.

Punnett Biologist Dating

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The Story of My IT Support Career

I get asked a lot of questions on technology. I graduated from an institute of technology, so some people just instantly assume I get it all.

I don’t.

But I can fake it.

A friend posted this, and it is SO true.


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