Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Hurricane came through, f**ked us up 'round here."

(Warning: Language NSFW)

Two years since Hurricane Katrina made landfall. And the thing is that unless you count the tourist areas that didn't get badly damaged in the first place, not a damn thing has changed. There are areas in NOLA that are ghost towns. There are areas that are one big vacant lot.

If there was one thing good about Hurricane Katrina, it was this: the hurricane in 2005 directly led to the GOP defeat in 2006. Hopefully the reportage about the current situation in NOLA will keep people thinking about it and lead to a veto-proof Democratic majority in 2008 and a Democrat in the White House. Certainly one Republican candidate, John McCain, has reaped much bad publicity from the 8/29/2005 photo op where he and Dubya yukked it up at an Air Force base and ate cake.

We cannot forget NOLA. We cannot abandon NOLA. If the birthplace of America's greatest contribution to world music is left to become a gentrified, Disneyfied shadow of its former self, the soul of America will really and truly be lost.

Here are a couple of very cogent essays about the aftermath, two years on:

AP Editorial: Pay heed to New Orleans' plight
Shelley Midura's open letter to George W. Bush

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Richie update

OK, here's an update on Richie.

Apheresis (stem cell collection) started last week, with one collection on Friday and one collection yesterday. Friday's collection got 1.2 million cells...not great, but not bad. The doctor suggested an afternoon collection the next time, giving the Neupogen time to work some more before collection because Richie would give himself the shot every day after breakfast. That was damn good advice, because the collection yesterday got 18 million (yes, I'm putting my pinky to my mouth when I type this) stem cells. All that in one swell foop. Amazing. Lots of celebrating. The target was 9 million, with 6 as a bare minimum. Now we have enough for the second in the Tandem transplant if that's going to be part of the protocol.

Richie has been scheduled to go into CoH Helford Research Hospital on 9/7/2007, with a consultation the day before. I'm going to have to take a day off from school to attend the consultation.

The tales of hard-fought success with SCTs I have been reading on the Myeloma mailing list have been comforting to me, although sometimes scary considering the kind of side effects people have had to battle. I am still of two minds about this, considering how well Richie's disease has been managed under the Velcade/Doxil/Dex protocol, and all the horrible experiences some of you have had. While I haven't heard of people dying of the procedure (I'm sure there are a few in the literature) it sounds like some of you wished you were dead through the process.

On Richie's side are two things: his relative youth and his baseline health outside of the MM. He's 54 years old, and likely will still be in Helford for his 55th birthday on the 21st. It's sort of like saying "Other than that nasty business, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?" but he is in excellent health otherwise. Cardio's great, Pulmonary's great, no other diseases, and right now he's getting back into walking and has been working with a physical therapist. He's been in a pain-free period where he hasn't had to use opiates.

I'm worried. I'm not looking forward to the separation. He's looking forward to it, in spite of all the potential for danger, misery and possibly even death. And once Richie Hass has decided he's going to do something, he won't be dissuaded. He's a stubborn cuss.

I don't want to lose him. However, on the Buddhist tip, one must remember that all things are impermanent. The anxiety is killing me. But I need to let him do this, and prepare myself to let go of him if something goes wrong. "I want a chance to get healthy" is his refrain. He's willing to take this very big calculated risk. I suppose I need to be supportive and just let him do it. But it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Geek shock horror! Smoking gun evidence about H1-B abuse!

This video speaks for itself. This is blatantly unfair. This is also why I left IT.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Good news about Richie...

As of today, Richie is officially in remission. The bone marrow biopsy done exactly a week ago was of the mutant plasma cells which are the hallmark of multiple myeloma. There is still a small amount of M-Spike protein in his blood, but it's down to a fraction of what was there originally.

Plans are being drawn up now for a stem cell transplant. It's a bit of a scary procedure but Richie's absolutely adamant about going forward with it. I will keep everyone posted about it.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Sympathy for the Devil

Wow. I'm in a very weird position right now. I find myself having sympathy for Paris Hilton.

It really does seem like Judge Sauer (perhaps an appropriate name for the guy, it's pronounced "sour") has it seriously in for her. Of all the people who have complained about her getting "celebrity justice," it seems like Judge Sauer alone had the ability and the inclination to do something about it. And he did.

So here's where it all stands. Paris Hilton is going back to Solitary Confinement at Lynwood Women's Jail. She's going to do the whole 40 days left on her sentence, not 20 as was originally intended. In other words, she is going to get far worse treatment than the average person who is arrested for violating probation for driving with a suspended license. The average person is allowed to serve out their sentence under house arrest, provided they have the $100/day rental for the equipment. The average person usually only does a week in jail for this misdemeanor. The average person is often given the option of serving an alternative sentence of community service even in the case of someone who can't afford house arrest.

Personally, I would rather see her have to do 80 hours of community service instead of this jailing. It would do far more for her moral correction for her to have to work at, say, the Midnight Mission serving food to homeless people, or on a trash pickup detail like Naomi Campbell had to do. It would mean having to cut those perfectly manicured nails and wear something unfashionable for a change, like orange coveralls, in public. It would mean actually having to work. What a concept!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Thoughts IRL about WWO...

For the past few days, I've been talespinning at World Without Oil with more than 1,000 other people. It's made me think...a LOT...about the precariousness of our society.

We are currently having what seems like a brush fire a day. What would we do if there wasn't diesel to fuel the fire trucks, or jet fuel to fuel the tanker planes and helicopters? What would we do if people didn't have the gas to pack the car and drive out of harm's way?

The thing is, the scenario of a short, sharp Oil Shock that we are playing out at WWO is not likely, but a slow-motion version of this dance, played out over a space of years, or at best, decades, is a scientific fact. Aside from a few crackpots who hold to a belief that petroleum can be found which does not originate from dead vegetation or dead critters, (the abiotic oil theorists) our supply of oil comes from a finite amount of sources. Eventually, it will all be gone. However, the period from the end of "cheap" oil to the last drop coming out of the ground is where we are at right now.

It is not like we weren't warned. I lived through the Energy Crisis of the 1970s. Odd/Even gas days, Double Nickels, gas lines, and prices soaring to stratospheric heights that we would see as bargains now. The oil shocks of 1973 and 1979 were warnings that we needed to get off the oil teat.

We needed a Manhattan Project-level commitment to developing alternative fuels, but November, 1980 brought the end of the Carter era, and the beginning of almost 30 years of a "Don't worry, be happy" fuel policy. Yes, Clinton was guilty of blissfully ignoring the same warning signs that Reagan, Bush the Elder, and Bush the Younger also ignored. The mania for SUVs soared during his Presidency, in spite of the environment consciousness of his Vice President, Gore.

There are other reasons to get us weaned off of fossil fuel, and Gore managed to cover most of them in the movie An Inconvenient Truth. It's not an especially deep explanation of the current climate crisis, but it's an easy and entertaining way to get an introduction to it.

We should have started dealing with this in 1973. We really should have started dealing with this in 1979. We're really not doing much of anything substantive about it now. The question is this: are we too late? Between the scylla of costlier and costlier oil, and the charybdis of Global Climate Crisis, we might be too late to do anything about this, short of just waiting for the die-off.

It's been a fun exercise, though. I won't be able to obsessively participate on the level I have been participating in this for the past few days thanks to the upcoming events surrounding Celebration IV, but at least I have been doing well with it, if I say so myself.

You can read my posts at Use the "May 2007 archive" option to see all of them in one swell foop.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Jerry Falwell, August 11, 1933 – May 15, 2007

23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

23:2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:

23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay [them] on men's shoulders; but they [themselves] will not move them with one of their fingers.

23:5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

23:6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,

23:7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.

23:8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, [even] Christ; and all ye are brethren.

23:9 And call no [man] your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

23:10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, [even] Christ.

23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

23:12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.

23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

23:16 Woe unto you, [ye] blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!

23:17 [Ye] fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?

23:18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.

23:19 [Ye] fools and blind: for whether [is] greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?

23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.

23:21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.

23:22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon.

23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

23:24 [Ye] blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

23:26 [Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness.

23:28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.

23:29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,

23:30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.

23:31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.

23:32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.

23:33 [Ye] serpents, [ye] generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Monday, May 07, 2007

This is why I haven't blogged for a while...

Between Richie's illness and some heavy-duty courses I've been pretty much preoccupied, which explains why this blog has been updated so sporadically. However, I am disappointed with the grades I got. I could have done much better.

However, I'll take them, the semester's over, and one more to go.

Oh yeah, walking with the Class of 2007, in spite of the fact I have work left to do, is weird. Real weird.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Spam traps: good and bad...

Why is it that Google's Gmail spamtrapper is great at dealing with false negatives and false positives while keeping the spam out of my inbox, but DSLExtreme's spamtrapper is all of the sudden labeling the emails of people and particularly companies I have relationships with (eBay, PayPal, Apple) as spam? Also why is their webmail so goddamn slow?

It seems like DSLX is losing its mojo. I was worried when that company from Utah bought them. Now my worries seem to be somewhat coming true. My bandwidth is still pretty good, more or less. However, this spamtrapper thing is annoying. Maybe I should just leave spam management to Whatever.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Walking with the Class of 2007, Woodbury University

OK, here's the scoop for all who want to be in on seeing me participate in Woodbury Commencement 2007. This news may not be good for those who are not early-birds...

Saturday, May 5
Commencement Breakfast
begins at 7 a.m.
Alumni Quad Walkway

Graduates assembly
8 -8:45 a.m.
New Woody’s

9 a.m.
Alumni Quad

Here are the directions.

I'm sure I will mail out invites. However, this is here and will be up for good.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

When you think of escalation or "surges"...

...think of this classic short by Ward Kimball, done in the late 1960s.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Damn, it's been a while...

Keeping on top of school and Richie stuffs and so forth means my blogs don't get much love no more. [sigh]

I will update here soon. I promise.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

No Actors or Dogs Allowed

The Los Angeles Times seems to have fallen in love anew with The Gropenfuhrer. They went so far as to ask California's Representatives and Congresspeople what they would think of changing the rules and allowing the foreign-born to run for the highest office in the land.

Don't take my word for it: here is the article, preserved as a PDF.(131Kb)

Here is my humble, considered opinion on the subject.

Sure, let a naturalized foreign-born individual run for the Presidency. I would not object. However, you would have to add one proviso to that amendment to our Constitution: no person who has ever been a member of the Screen Actors Guild, the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists or Actor's Equity can hold the Presidency.

That's right.

No more former actors as President.

I'm serious here.

Who is our only President who started out his adult life as an actor? Ronald Wilson Reagan. And I'm sorry to all those who still have fond memories of the Great Obfuscator...whoops, I meant The Great Pretender...whoops again, I mean the Great Communicator. Reagan frankly SUCKED as a President. He did. He almost bankrupted the nation, the Soviet Union was teetering at that point anyway and didn't need Reagan's push to go down in a smouldering heap. And he allowed a whole bunch of evil theocrats to get a toe-hold in the GOP who never should have been there and got way too much power than they deserved.

I know this would also mean some really good fantasy candidates for the Highest Office In The Land would also be disqualified. Disqualify Ah-nuld, and you also block off the possibility of a President Martin Sheen, a President Robert Redford, a President Paul Newman, a President Warren Beatty, a President Ed Begley, Jr., or my personal dream actor-President, President Samuel L. "B.M.F." Jackson. But seriously folks. Do we REALLY want another actor in the Highest Office In The Land? Do we? Do we feel lucky?

PS: lest I be accused of anti-Actor prejudice, the title of this post is a reference to the signs that would hang up in boarding houses near the Great White Way in New York City.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Why the word "Escalation" matters.

There is a semantic war going on within this Iraq War. George W. Bush and those who still believe in his fools' crusade are persisting in using the term "Surge" to refer to the increase in US troop involvement in the war. However, the term of choice for the reality-based community is "Escalation."

The term Escalation has special meaning for those of us who remember the Vietnam War. Escalation was the favored term in the Johnson and Nixon administrations for bringing in more troops to this unwinnable conflict. Escalation is a reminder that these two conflicts in Iraq and Vietnam are blood-brothers, wars of choice which are costing this country precious human lives and economic treasure.

"Father, Father...we don't need to escalate..." -- Marvin Gaye

A surge is what happens when power snaps back after a blackout. Surge was the predecessor Mountain Dew-like beverage to Coca-Cola's Vault and Vault Zero. The word surge is meaningless to describe an escalation of the conflict in Iraq. This is an ESCALATION. Get it right.

Monday, January 08, 2007

School Daze again...

Yes, it's once again time to deal with yet another chapter of the Woodbury Follies. Being in a small school is odd sometimes...word has gotten around about Richie's hospitalization, and now word is going to start getting around about his Multiple Myeloma. People are being uber-supportive, thankfully.

Due to all the uncertainties surrounding the past two weeks, I had to use a book voucher to buy my books, at the clip joint we know and hate as the Woodbury Bookstore. I'm now down almost $350 and I still have to buy some more books, dammit. At least most of them came in used versions. My monetary situation here is squared away and we'll at least get some financial aid overage to keep us going.

I have to keep going with this. Having my bachelor's will be good but unfortunately a BA in Psych is not so helpful in the job market. Once I get my Masters' things will be moving ahead somewhat. Since it has become clear that Richie's time on this planet is limited, and that he will not be able to do as much with that time due to the illness, it is also very clear that if I have a professional degree I will have a better time of it than if I don't have one.

The weight of this past few weeks is on me like a ton of bricks. It's painful. But I have to bear the pain and get through it somehow.