August 17, 2009

Hallstrom's Log, Earth Date August 17, 2009

Well, it has been a month since my original surgical date, which got postponed three days until July 20 due to an emergency surgery and lack of space in the Intensive Care Unit. I have been recuperating these past few weeks at home after a week long stay in the hospital. I feel great and everything is healing now. The only problem I still have is some pain in the bones of my upper chest, which, I was told at my last appointment, take about six months to fully heal. I feel so good that I have been approved to return to work on Thursday, August 20, with restrictions placed on what I am allowed to do. I got a letter a week and a half ago from Meijer corporate saying that the original Short Term Disability was only approved through August 19 rather than the beginning of September that my surgeon wanted on the form that I submitted. But, I feel well enough that I don't mind going in and completing the paperwork aspects of my job including running of planograms, stapling them, item locating them and filing them as well as preparing them to be set by my team. I won't be allowed to do many of the other things that I did prior to my surgery until October 1, which is when my cardiologist said the restrictions could be lifted.

My wife has many wonderful details and pictures of my post-surgery in her blog, which is located at I can't begin to thank my wife for all that she has done for me during this difficult time. She kept forcing me to stay positive and believe that I would be alright instead of taking my usually pessimistic train of thought. In the hospital, she helped me in many ways by helping me reach things, helping me change clothes, helping me walk down the hall and just spending time with me. When we got home, she helped in changing out my bandages, making great meals for me to eat, helping me get up and down the stairs and much more. She has been wonderful throughout this entire ordeal.

I also want to thank all of those that kept me in their thoughts and prayers and sent me well-wishes during the whole time before and after my surgery. I truly believe that those things helped me to recover faster than the surgeons and doctors believed that I would recover. I'd like to thank those that came to visit me during my hospital stay. I may have been out of it at times or in a bad mood when they visited but it left a good feeling in me and boosted my spirits.

I also want to thank the staff at Nationwide Children's Hospital. They provided excellent care for me and I wouldn't have gotten better without their trained expertise. I just wish they wouldn't have come in so often during the night. At times, I would have just fallen asleep when they came in to check my vitals and give me some medicine.

After the surgery, it has been hard to fall asleep. I can hear the artificial valve ticking as it operates and the sound can drive one crazy when all else is quiet and one is trying to sleep. Hopefully, I will one day become used to it and it won't bother me. Until then, though, I lie awake for a while at night trying to fall asleep and sometimes it takes a while. At first when I got home, I was sleeping downstairs in my recliner. I left the television on with the sleep timer set just so there would be some noise to help drown out the constant ticking in my chest. Now that I have returned to our bed, Abby can't sleep with the t.v. on and I only have the sounds of a fan to drown out the noise and it is not as effective. Also, still being on a water pill to remove excess fluids from my body does not help as it causes me to get up several times during the night to use the restroom. Not fun at all and I am looking forward to the time that I don't have to take the pill.

The other day, I watched an episode of The Tonight Show that I DVR'd and I learned that Robin Williams actually had his valve replaced recently and he looked good as well. He was able to find the humor in the situation of having a new heart valve and that made me feel better about myself. He had his surgery in Cleveland at the Cleveland Clinic. He was joking around with Conan O'Brien about how he first was given the choice of a pig valve like I was given and his Jewish friend said not to take that. He then made a joke about a horse valve that was hilarious. In the end he said he took an artificial valve so it is very fitting that I can relate to him. Here's an example of his humor from things that he said in a different interview with David Letterman back in May: "I have one new valve and a repaired valve," Williams said. "I have a cow valve — which is great, and the grazing has been fun." He added, "The mechanical valve is great, but if someone uses the remote control, you fart." They say that laughter is a great medicine and he seems to be doing great with it but, when I laugh, it still hurts my chest like hell. Nonetheless, the pain is worth it!

I start a cardiac rehab program on September 1 and follow that up with visits every Tuesday and Thursday for at least 4 weeks. I am hoping that the cardiac rehab helps me to fully recover and allow me to get back to where I was pre-surgery. I also have to have my INR level checked each week to make sure my blood thinner medication is working properly and get it at the correct level that my doctors want it to be. Eventually, it will be checked once a month after it gets leveled off.

Overall, I am in good spirits. I am looking forward to returning to work and looking forward to Ohio State Buckeye football season to get here. I am looking forward to ushering at all of the home games and this year have gotten tickets to most of the road games through the OSU Alumni Association. The only road game I will probably miss this year is against Michigan. The Buckeyes are picked by the Big Ten media to win the Big Ten again and are ranked #6 in the pre-season poll of college coaches. The first game is Saturday, September 5, against Navy and that game is followed up by a big re-match against USC at the 'Shoe on September 12. Hopefully, OSU can get some payback following last year's blowout loss out in L.A.

Go Bucks!

July 17, 2009

Hallstrom's Log, Earth Date July 17, 2009

"Due to an emergency, we're going to have to postpone your operation until Monday," Dr. Phillips said as I sat on the bed in my surgical outfit waiting for 8 a.m. to roll around and for them to take me to the surgical room to begin my procedure.

With that, Dr. Phillips continued to explain that there was also another reason that it would be good to postpone the procedure.  He said that the ICU where I was to go afterward was pretty full and that the weekend would allow them clear some of the beds in the ICU to free up room for me.  So, after comforting Abby, whom was crying after the doctor left, I changed back into my clothes and we walked out to meet our parents, who were waiting in the surgical waiting room.  

It was a frustrating experience to say the least.  After a night where I barely slept, got up at 4:30 a.m. to leave the house at 5:15 a.m. to make sure that I was there to check in at 6 a.m., I had to go home and endure 3 more days of waiting.  

After checking in, Abby and I were taken to a room where the nurse gave me a pair of pants and a hospital gown to change into.  I was told that I could have a scent added to my anesthesia mask and I chose Root Beer as a smell that would allow me to drift off to a deep sleep.  We were told that each of our parents could come in to see me in shifts before everyone would have to be kicked out about 7:50 a.m.  

I visited with Abby and her parents and then my parents came in to see me.  I was very scared and nervous about what was to come.  During my parents' visit, the doctor came in and told us that there was a possible emergency that he would have to check on to see if he was needed to operate.  He said, he would come back and let me know.  My dad went out to get Abby and shortly after Abby came in, the doctor came back and told us the bad news.  

It is very frustrating when things happen that aren't in your control.  I just wanted to get all of this over with and get on to recovering.  Now, I get to go through the entire weekend with the matter weighing on my mind.  

Hopefully, we can find some distractions to take our minds off of things.  We may rent a movie tonight and have some pizza with the in-laws and we already ordered tickets for Sunday's Columbus Clippers baseball game at the new Huntington Park in the arena district.  So, we shall see.

I want to thank all of the friends of the family and friends from high school, college and work who left me Facebook messages of well-wishes and saying that I'd be in their prayers.  They mean a lot to me and I am using them to stay positive in this difficult time.  Now, just shifting them a couple days forward in time as I continue to wait for this operation to be started and completed.

God Bless!

July 13, 2009

Hallstrom's Log, Earth Date July 13, 2009

It has been a long, long time since I have updated my blog.  A lot has happened in the past couple of months that have kept me from wanting to write but now I feel is the time I should start doing so.  

When I was a baby, I was diagnosed with a bicuspid aortic valve and a coarctation of the aorta.  The bicuspid aortic valve is where my aorta has two segments inside where the normal person has a tricuspid aortic valve, which means it has 3 segments.  There is nothing really anyone can do about it.  The coarctation of the aorta is where the aorta was kinked like a garden hose.  To fix this back in 1982, they had to cut the aorta to straighten it out and put a patch on to complete the blood vessel.  Ever since then, I had to go to the doctor to get updates as my heart grew.  Through adolescence, I went every year.  As a young adult it got pushed to every two years.  A few years ago, I was told to come back in 3 years.  It was this past April 2009 when I went back for a cardiology appointment after 3 years. 

It started off as a routine examination where they listened to my heart.  During the course of the exam, they commented that my blood pressure was a lot higher than it has been in the past and they said it could be a correlation to the bicuspid aortic valve in that most people with the condition usually develop high blood pressure in their lifetime.  They told me that they wanted to do a blood draw to see how my cholesterol was doing.  The doctor scheduled a stress test and an MRI.  

I attended my stress test and felt that I did really well.  I went to the 12 minute point and the technician shut it down and I still hadn't even gotten to a jog yet but my heart rate was up to the optimal point that they wanted to see.

The following week, on a Thursday, I went to the Ross Heart Hospital at OSU to have my MRI done.  Abby was teaching that day, so my parents went with me as the letter that came said that I may need someone to drive me home following the test.  I got prepared for the MRI and had to wait a while before I was able to have the procedure done.  Cramped in the little tube, I had to hold my breath when they told me to and lay there for about an hour.  When it was over, my parents drove me home and I went about my normal activities. 

On Friday when I got home from work, I had a message on our answering machine that was from two doctors at OSU and they said that they wanted to see me as soon as possible and told me that it was urgent.  The doctors said that they found something during my MRI and wanted to talk with me about it.  I called back and made an appointment for Tuesday, May 5.  

On Tuesday, May 5, Abby and I went to the OSU Ross Heart Hospital and met with Dr. Stephen Cook.  He was a congenital heart specialist who worked at both the Ross Hospital and Nationwide Children's Hospital.  He told us that they basically found an aneurism in my aortic root.  It was probably caused by the high blood pressure that resulted from my bicuspid aortic valve.  He said that there was the possibility that working at my job and lifting more than 50 lbs. could cause the aneurism to burst and kill me within seconds.  He said I should stay away from physical activities such as softball, which I was planning on starting that evening with my friends Shawn and Karen.  I was still able to start a summer bowling league that I was planning on doing with Abby, Shawn and Karen since I told him that I had bowled all year during the fall, winter and spring without any problems.  He also said that they also found a small tear in the patch that was fixed when I was a child.  He made both of these matters sound very urgent to Abby and I and said that he was going to present the case that week in hopes of having the surgery in 4 to 6 weeks.  He said he wanted to schedule a CT scan to check the blood vessels around my heart and brain as they would need to be okay during any surgical procedure.  He scheduled this test for that Friday.  He also put me on a slew of medications to start lowering my blood pressure and my cholesterol to prepare for a future surgery.  I also had to cut the sugar and caffeine out of my diet as much as possible to help the medicines work faster.

I went for my CT scan and it was a frustrating experience.   Much like my MRI, I had to get prepared for the CT test in a room where an IV was put in so that they could administer contrast during the procedure.  They said that they had to get my heart rate down to the high 50s or lower 60s for the CT procedure to work correctly.  Sitting there, my heart was racing at about the 80s to 90s.  The more it kept going, the more I got frustrated.  They had to call the doctors to see if they could give me something to lower my heart rate.  They did so but it still wasn't working.  Someone went out to update my wife and my wife insisted on coming in to help calm me down and said I was probably getting frustrated from all the waiting.  She came in and sat by my side as I lay on the bed.  After giving me two or three more doses of medicine, my heart rate finally got down to the lower 60s.  They rolled the bed I was in to the CT room instead of me walking so that my heart rate wouldn't climb again.  

After the CT scan, they told me that during the prep period, I had 3 irregular heart beats and they wanted to put me on a heart monitor for 48 hours.  So, I had this device strapped to my chest for the whole weekend and upon turning it in, I later discovered that it ended up showing only 1 irregular heart beat during that time, which is normal for most people.

After the CT scan, I began playing the waiting game.  I didn't hear back from the doctors and my calls weren't returned.  My wife and I began getting really frustrated and angry.  The doctors made it sound very urgent but they weren't getting back to us and letting us know what was going on.  I wanted to know what the results were of my CT scan and when the surgery was going to be.  

Finally a nurse called me back and scheduled an appointment at Children's Hospital, which is where they would be doing the procedure since they were more attuned to fixing these type of congenital defects.  She revealed that Dr. Cook wasn't going to be doing the surgery as he wasn't a surgeon.  Instead, a Dr. Phillips would be performing the procedure.  They scheduled an appointment for us with the surgeon at Children's Hospital.

On the day of the original appointment, the hospital called to cancel due to an emergency that had occurred.  They rescheduled and, on that day, my wife, parents, and I went to Children's Hospital and waited to meet with the surgeon, who we were told was still in surgery when we got there.  We waited and finally they said that he was going to be in surgery for about another hour and a half.  We asked to talk to somebody to find out what was going to happen because we were tired of not knowing anything.  One of his nurses agreed to talk to us and explained that they were going to replace the aortic root.  She didn't mention anything about fixing the tear in the patch, though.  We were more confused than before and we asked about it and she said she wasn't aware of any plans to fix the patch.  Eventually, though, we found out that the surgical date would be Friday, July 17.  So by the time they will finally do the procedure it will be 2 and 1/2 months rather than the 4 to 6 weeks that they were hoping for when we first me with the doctor.

We contacted Dr. Cook's nurses about the lack of communication we had received and told her that we wanted to meet with him.  We met with him and he told us that the patch situation wasn't urgent and could be fixed non-surgically.  Today, they have the technology where they can go up through a catheter and put a stent in the aorta where when I was a child, surgery was the only way to fix it.  He said they might not fix it anyways because there was a calcified build up around the tear, which kind of seals the tear.  He said the main concern was the aortic root replacement and that was where they were going to concentrate their work.  He and his nurse promised to set up another appointment with Dr. Phillips on a day where he wasn't going to be in surgery and also get us an early look at the ICU, where I would be after surgery, so that Abby can begin to get a feeling about what she will encounter following the surgery.

We finally met with Dr. Phillips at the end of June and he seemed to be a nice, experienced surgeon.  He said that the surgery time would be dictated based on what they encounter when they get inside.  The best case scenario would be where the aneurism is located below a certain point where they could put me on a heart by-pass machine.  They could then just flow my blood to the rest of my body and then cut out the aortic root and put in the replacement and sew it up.  The worst case scenario would be where the aneurism is above the point where they can use the by-pass machine.  They would have to ice my body down to lower my heart rate and send only blood to my brain while they fixed the point where the by-pass machine can be hooked up to first.  Then, they would have to replace the root once the by-pass machine was running.  The first scenario would be about a 4 to 5 hour surgery.  The second scenario would be about a 7 to 9 hour surgery.  I also got to pick out how I wanted the root to be repaired.  I was given the choice of a mechanical or bio-mechanical replacement.  The mechanical choice was  fully artificial.  The good side of this would be that it would last forever.  The down side was that I would have to be on a blood thinner for the rest of my life.  The bio-mechanical choice was basically a part from a pig.  The good side was that I wouldn't  need to be on a blood thinner.  The down side was that it only lasted 15 to 20 years and another surgery would be inevitable.  Regardless, I chose to go with the mechanical version because I would rather go through taking medicine for the rest of my life rather than having to go through another surgery.  They also revealed that they usually do surgery on an adult patient at least once a week at Children's Hospital, so that was comforting.  He also said there was 1% or less chance of about five things happening during or after the surgery, so that gave me a positive outlook that there was a 95% chance that I'd be alright.

Afterward, we went on the tour of the ICU and got to see what it was like.  It was really hard there because a lot of the patients in there were tiny babies and little kids.  It was hard to see them because they were just starting out in life whereas I've been around for 30 years.  But, Nationwide Children's Hospital is one of the highest ranked children's hospitals in the country and if they can successfully repair children's hearts, than an adult heart should be no problem for them.   

So, now the surgery is 4 days away on Friday morning, July 17, at 8 a.m.  The time is getting closer and I am trying to stay positive.  

Last weekend, my cousin Carla, her husband Rasheed and their 15 month old daugher Marie came into town from Chicago to celebrate the 4th of July festivities and to see me before my surgery.  Marie is an adorable little girl and I enjoyed spending timme with her and watching her play with our dog, Sloopy.  It kind of makes me depressed that I have not become a father yet and I so don't want to miss out on being one.  

My last day of work was on Friday and I feel terrible that one of my co-workers is getting the burden of my incredibly hard job on top of her incredibly hard job.  I had asked my store director to see about obtaining a replacement for me for while I am out but apparently the only managers-in-training that the company has in Columbus would be impediments to the job rather than helping out.  But, I was able to accomplish getting the things set for Back To School season that I wanted to get set and ready for them.  Hopefully I'll be able to go back 4 weeks after surgery with restrictions so that I can relieve some of the burden placed on my co-worker while also getting paid full pay as my short term disability pays only 3 weeks of full pay and 70% for weeks 4 and after.  That is why I am taking a second week of vacation after this week to make sure I can get 4 weeks of full pay.   

We had a community garage sale this weekend to get rid of a few things we don't need anymore.  I got some things from my aunt's house that I keep there and found my Curious George plush.  He went with me to my heart surgery in 1982 and I plan on taking him again with me to this procedure.  

Abby threw me a party on Saturday night called "Chris'  Tickerpalooza" and several friends shown up to have one last party before the surgery and before I'll be out of action for a while.  They wrote encouraging messages on a pillowcase that I will be able to take with me to the hospital.  

This Wednesday, July 15, my wife and I our celebrating our 3 year anniversary.  We will probably go out to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and then take in the new Harry Potter movie that opens that day.  These past three years have been wonderful and a lot has changed.  We went from living in a one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom apartment to owning a beautiful home.  We went from having just each other to having a wonderful dog to take care of as well.  We went from being healthy adults to one of us having medical problems.  We are literally living the vow of "to have and to hold, in sickness and in health" right now.    

So, this week will be full of lots of things to do before my surgery and it will have its ups and downs.  I love my wife, I love my family, I love my friends, and I love Sloopy, Heidi (parents' dog) and Sammi (aunt's dog).  I love all of the people that have touched my life in some way and have given me encouragement along the way.  They say that God has a plan for all of us and I hope that God's plan is for me is a positive plan and that he watches over my family and I as we go through this rough time.

February 14, 2009

Hallstrom's Log, Earth Date February 14, 2009

It is Valentine's Day 2009 and it is also two days away from my 30th birthday. It feels weird getting ready to hit such a milestone. It seems like only yesterday that I was in college and just turned 21. Time has sure flied since that time.

As I get ready to turn 30, I am happy to say that I am very happy where I am in life. 

I have a very beautiful wife, Abagail Kathleen, who I love very much. We had a great night last night of celebrating Valentine's Day with our traditional dinner at the Cheesecake Factory followed by a romantic movie. This year, we saw the recently released film, "He's Just Not That Into You." We celebrated Valentine's Day last night, on Friday the 13th, because we found out this week that some friends were coming from out of town and wanted to hang out tonight.

I am happy in other ways. I have a great house in a great part of town. I have a wonderful Shih Tzu, named Sloopy, who just turned 2 last weekend and is happy to see me every time I come home. He loves me unconditionally. I love how he greets me at the door and makes little howling noises to show how happy he is that I have arrived at home.

I have a wonderful family who is very supportive of me. They are trying at times but they are blood. I am fortunate to have most of my family here in the Columbus area where I can see them a lot. Sometimes, certain people get overly clingy *cough, cough* Mom *cough, cough* but I know that they only do so because they love me and hold me dearly in their thoughts.

I have great friends who always bring excitement and fun to my life when I get to hang out with them. It is always good to see them and talk about how their lives are going and seeing how everyone is evolving as they grow older and more mature.

Some things, though, I could be happier about. I guess I am lucky to have a job in this economy, but working for Meijer is not what I want to do with my life. It is difficult for me to have had succeeded so much in school but to only have experience working for Meijer, which was always intended to be just a part-time high school and college job. After being with Meijer for 13-1/2 years, it is getting very tiring, tedious and depressing. I don't enjoy working there and wish that the countless companies that I apply for jobs with would just give me the chance to have an interview so that I could convince them that I would be a great addition to their workforce. I know that I am hard-working, reliable, and able to do many things but I just need the employers to find this out. 

One of the things that I hope happens in this 30th year of my life is that I hope to find out that I will be an expecting father. Abby and I discussed that we wanted to be sure that both of us had stable careers before trying and I was happy to find out that she got her teaching job this past August. Since then, we have been trying like crazy to expand our family but the fruits of our labor have yet to be seen. I want to have kids soon so that I won't be that old when they get old enough to get into sports.  I want to be able to help teach them how to do things that I used to love doing without being in pain or having bad knees or things that my father had when I was a kid. It was hard not being able to toss the pigskin around with dad without him jamming his ring finger and having to go to the ER to get his wedding band cut off. It is things like this that I hope to avoid by being a younger father to children. When I was born, my dad was about 31 and my mom was about 26. That is getting close to the age Abby and I are approaching. It is not fun to think that and I hope that God will bless us this year and help us to become parents.

Sometimes I reflect on what could have been. What would have happened if I never had a heart condition and would have been able to play contact sports or join the armed forces? What would have happened had I not had to move around all the time as a Navy brat and been able to stay at one school for my whole life? Would I have developed life-long friendships rather than befriend people for a couple of years before having to move away? Things like this just make me wonder about what could have been but I definitely want to say that I am happy with where life's road has guided me. It is said that God has a plan for all of us and it will be interesting to see what God's end result will be for me.

Anyhow, happy birthday to me! 30 years and counting! Yeah memories!

January 18, 2009

Hallstrom's Log, Earth Date January 18, 2009

Snow continues to fall outside the house on this cold January day. I just finished watching a video with Abby on this lazy, Sunday afternoon. One thing that we both share is a common love for movies. We love to watch a vast array of different types of movies together. Sometimes we disagree on what to watch, but for the most part we watch and enjoy the same types of films. Today, we watched the Al Pacino and Robert De Niro film, "Righteous Kill."  

Some of the movies that we disagree on are movies that I love to watch--horror, comic book, action and science fiction movies. I try to get her to watch some of them by telling her that some of the things are so good that they are big, box-office champions such as "Iron Man," for example. Others, she will voluntarily want to see because some of her friends liked the movie, i.e. "The Dark Knight." It frustrates me sometimes that she doesn't want to see some of the movies that I want to watch, and I sometimes have to put off watching them so that I can appease her and spend time with her.

There are a lot of movies that I am looking forward to seeing in 2009. 

One of the first films I am looking forward to seeing is "Watchmen," which is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and comes out in early March. I have not yet had the chance to read this book but many in the comics community praise it as being one of the all-time great graphic novels. From what I have seen from the special effects and seen from features on t.v. shows, the movie looks pretty awesome and supposedly stays true to the theme of the book like "Sin City" did. I doubt that Abby would want to see this film purely because it is a so-called geek film.

The next film I want to see if "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." Now, being such a huge Buckeye, the only Wolverine that I can stand is a mutant comic character. This is another film that I don't think that my wife will see with me. She did make an effort to watch the third X-Men film with me on DVD so I have to give her points for that. But, her not being a comic fan, I doubt she would be able to keep her interest in the film.

The following week, the next film I am anticipating will be released. It is J.J. Abrams' new vision of the "Star Trek" franchise. I will admit, that I am a huge Trekker. I am not as big as one to put on the uniforms every weekend and go to conventions and such, but I am indeed a fan. The franchise created by Gene Roddenberry has inspired me over the years and driven my imagination. I am looking forward to the film, which looks to have spectacular effects and utilizes original Spock actor Leonard Nimoy in a cameo role to tie the film to the original series. It will also tell the story of how the "Original Seven" Enterprise crew members first came together. I am sure that I will not like some of what Abrams is going to change with his story but I am glad that a new Star Trek adventure is coming out. Abby probably will not see this with me as she won't even attempt to watch the older films with me on DVD.

Later in May, "Terminator Salvation" will be released. Starring Christian Bale of Batman fame, the story continues the adventures of John Connor, only this time, the story takes place after Judgment Day and shows the adult John leading humanity in a fight against the machines. This is one that Abby might watch with me because together we watch Fox's "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."

In early June, Will Ferrell's "Land of the Lost" comes out. Although they are changing a lot of what I loved from watching the 80's/90's version, I am looking forward to returning to the land and watching the humans fight the evil Sleestaks along with avoiding hungry dinosaurs and befriending primates. This is one that Abby will probably see with me because we both love Will Ferrell films and are sure that this will be a hilarious movie.

At the end of June, "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" comes out. The story is a sequel to the Transformers film that came out a couple of years ago. I am just thrilled that it will be hitting the screens and I hope that there is more of a focus on the robots rather than the human characters. I am hoping that things that have appeared online are true and that we'll see the combiner-robot Devestator on the screen. Also, giant robots destroying things always makes for enjoyable good times. I would say that it would be 50/50 that Abby watches this one with me because she did see the first film with me but I don't know if she truly enjoyed it.

In mid-July, the delayed "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" finally hits the screen. This series was first introduced to me after I began dating Abby and she got me into reading the books so I am sure both of us are looking forward to this film. This is the next-to-last story of the Harry Potter books but there will be two films remaining as they are making the final book into two films. 

In August, the biggest movie that I am looking forward to is scheduled to be released. That movie is "G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra." G.I. Joe was my favorite toys to have as a child. I loved watching the series on t.v. and read the comic books. Until late summer of 2007, I kept most of my G.I. Joe toys in my aunt's basement. I sold them on eBay before we moved into our house so that we could have some money to pay on some credit cards that we had huge debt on. I still have my comic collection and the G.I. Joe titles are hot right now, including the rare final issue, which I own. Right now, it is worth $85 ungraded and I am hoping to eventually have it graded and sold for much more one day. G.I. Joe was a favorite as a child because I was a Navy brat and grew up on and around military bases. I am hoping that the movie stays somewhat faithful to the comic but from some of the casting decisions already made, I can see that they are changing a lot in terms of the appearances of some of the characters. Regardless, I still have high hopes for this film and hope that the film delivers. I doubt Abby will want to see this with me but we shall see.

In October, one of my favorite books to read as a kid becomes a big-screen movie.  That book is "Where The Wild Things Are." The book was a great read with tremendous artwork that blew my seven-year-old mind. To this day, it still blows me away. Abby will probably see this with me as she is an early-childhood teacher, yet she has admitted to me that she still has never read the book. She does have a toy of one of the creatures in her classroom and got the Hallmark ornament at the post-Christmas sale.

These are just some of the big films that I am stoked to see this year. I am sure others will be released the pique my interest and I will see them together with my wife. I am sure that "He's Just Not That Into You" will become our Valentine's movie to see this year.

January 7, 2009

Hallstrom's Log, Earth Date January 7, 2009

Well, it was a great game, but the Buckeyes ended up losing the Fiesta Bowl to Texas 24-21. The Buckeyes and Longhorns played a defensive game for the first half with the Buckeyes going to the locker room with a 6-3 lead. After a tough 3rd quarter where the Longhorns' no-huddle offense wore out the Buckeye defense, the Buckeyes charged back in the 4th quarter. A new play with Todd Boeckman at QB and Terrelle Pryor as a receiver got the Buckeyes close. The out-going former starter, Boeckman, lofted a jump pass touchdown reception to the freshman star, who stood taller than the defensive back defending him. Later, the Buckeyes took the lead with just over two minutes left to play. It was a great power run by "Boom" Herron. The Buckeyes then had to play defense against the heralded Texas offense. The defense played tough and the Longhorns converted a first down. On the subsequent play, the Buckeyes decided to blitz most everyone and play the receivers man-to-man. Colt McCoy hooked up with his receiver, who slipped Anderson Russell's tackle attempt and ran into the end zone for the go-ahead score with 16 seconds left on the clock. Jubilation went to disappointment for Buckeye fans once again.

I was proud of how tough the Buckeyes played in the Fiesta Bowl. They didn't collapse after getting down in the 3rd quarter. They fought and fought and showed great perseverance. While they lost, they showed that they are heading in the right direction and things look promising heading into the 2009 season, which kicks off with a game against Navy followed by a re-match with USC.

The national critics still won't get off the Buckeyes' backs, but hopefully next year the team will respond and shut them up.

Go Bucks!

January 4, 2009

Hallstrom's Log, Earth Date January 4, 2009

My wife convinced me today to start a blog saying that she felt it would be good for me to have an outlet to express myself. So, I finally agreed and she helped me to create this page.  

As I am getting ready to turn 30 next month, I feel that I should be more introspective about my life and share my thoughts and opinions. It's weird that I am getting ready to celebrate such a big milestone. I feel younger than I am. In some ways, I'm still a kid at heart.  

There's a lot that I want to talk about on this blog including general thoughts on life, thoughts about The Ohio State University Buckeyes and other things.

To start things off, I am looking forward to tomorrow's OSU game against Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. This is OSU's fifth bowl game since 2003 in Arizona and I have yet to venture out there to support them. I am jealous of all the people who are able to afford such trips. It has been since I was a student that I was able to afford to go to a bowl game and I miss the fun and exciting times that I used to have as a student. As a student, I got to attend the OSU vs. Texas A&M game in the 1999 Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and I got to go to the 2002 Outback Bowl in Tampa to see OSU take on South Carolina. They were fun trips that I got to attend with friends and fellow Buckeye fans.  

I am hoping that the Buckeyes can prove their national critics wrong and finally win a big, prime-time game. I hope that the Buckeyes can beat the Longhorns to take a 2-1 advantage in their series that started in 2005 and 2006. I had the opportunity as an usher to see the 2005 game in person at Ohio Stadium and it was a classic showdown with Vince Young, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, guiding his team to a victory against the Buckeyes in a late drive. The next year, I watched on television as Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman Trophy winner, lead OSU to a victory over the Longhorns in their stadium. This game possibly features two future Heisman trophy winners in Colt McCoy and Terrelle Pryor. It will be interesting to see what happens. Both sides concede that Texas has yet to face a defense as good as OSU has and both sides admit that the OSU defense has yet to face an offense as good as Texas. I think that the OSU defense will give up some big plays but overall should be able to slow Texas' high-powered offense. I think that Texas' defense will give up more big plays to OSU's offense including a huge running game led by Chris "Beanie" Wells. I think that Texas will be worried about trying to stop Pryor's running ability and not blitz as much, giving Pryor plenty of time to look for his receivers down field. Hopefully, that will lead to OSU utilizing their tight ends more than in the past and hit some short pass plays that will lead to big YACs (yards after completion).  

We will see what happens, but I always try to remain optimistic going into the games. It's only when the game goes downhill that I start to really worry.  

Anyhow, that ends my first blog. Hopefully my next blog will be upbeat in nature with a Buckeye victory.

Go Bucks!