Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thank you. Gracias. Grazie. Merci. תודה

Thanks for the moral support, the practical support, the comments, the e-mails, the phone calls.

Thanks for letting me talk about this in a way that's (I hope) interesting and entertaining.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cuts Like a Knife (or Light Saber)

I had another meeting with the surgeon to consider surgery dates.  This time, the appointment was at his Chevy Chase office, not in Washington. By the way, Chevy Chase is not named after the comedian.  It gets its name from a 14th century battle between the English and the Scots over deer-hunting.  Usually they fight over soccer and rugby.

Even though I finished the therapy at the end of September, the tumor continues to shrink.  A small part of it seems to be detaching from the lumen of the colon, which probably means that the cells in that area are dying.  A little longer wait before surgery may allow the tumor to shrink more and save some of the surrounding tissue.  On the other hand, too long would increase the chance that those tumor cells that were "missed" by or resisted by the therapy will continue to grow.  The medical literature isn't really clear on the best time to have the surgery once chemo/radiation is over.  Some of the reports from the 1990's claim that it's 6-8 weeks.  Reports from this century claim that waiting up to 12 weeks is OK.

The standard practice in Europe, however, is to wait at least 12 weeks.  Maybe that's how long it takes to get into the hospital in their communist health care systems.  Over here (where capitalism roolz!), the highest bidder gets the premium time slot. So it helps for them to think you're associated with Chevy Chase (median household income of $160K).

Anyway, the plan is to have the surgery in early January.  The surgeon thinks that's not waiting too long.  The advantage is that I'll be able to spend the holidays on my feet and without Percocet.  Also, when the boys are back in school in January, I'll be able to recover at home without having to play Count Dooku in light saber duel against Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tie A [insert color here] Ribbon

Have you noticed that every disease and condition has an awareness ribbon. I think it started with HIV/AIDS activists wearing a red one. Then Susie G came up with the pink ribbon for breast cancer. Those are the most recognizable and you see them on everywhere. Inspired by the quick recognition of those two ribbons and the "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon, every advocacy group had to have a ribbon, from the obscure (congenital diaphragmatic hernia - a cloud patterned ribbon) to the paradoxical (targeted individuals - indigo). Ummm... if you don't want to be targeted, don't wear a freakin' indigo ribbon. When all the ribbon colors were used up, the cause mongers moved on to bracelets. Full disclosure, I wear a yellow LiveStrong bracelet... I mean wristband, men wear wristbands not bracelets... You can get these in all colors and for all causes too, like a green one to support democracy in Iran or you can simply order a set with your own cause stamped into the silicone.

As noted by Timothy Noah in his Slate article, the proliferation of ribbon and wristband campaigns has diluted their impact to the point where they have become mere fashion statements. Some of the ribbon colors even have several meanings. Orange, for example, stands for Leukemia And Lymphoma awareness, Energy awareness in Nigeria, ADHD awareness, and six more causes. Oddly enough, it does not stand for "Protestants Marching Through A Catholic Neighborhood In Belfast" awareness. The oddest one of the orange ribbon causes is Self-Injury awareness. What do these people do, carefully pin on a ribbon and look in the mirror?

The LiveStrong wristbands encompass awareness of all forms of cancer. But the raison d'etre of an advocacy group is to stand out from the pack in order to attract attention and money. So each form of cancer has to have it's own color. Colon cancer awareness is blue. I'm quite puzzled by that, as it should be brown.

Anyway this got me thinking about other colors and patterns and what they could mean.
  • Checkered: NASCAR disease awareness. Help stop hundreds of thousands of southerners from watching cars turn left then crash.
  • Peach: Beat Florida awareness. Worn by University of Georgia fans until they win another game. Buy a few of these, Dawgs. You'll wear them out waiting.
  • Plaid: Catholic Girls Start Much Too Late awareness. Nuff said.
  • Paisley: Formerly The Artist Formerly Known As Prince And Now Again Known As Prince awareness. Please help this man make up his mind.
  • Polka Dot: Chicken Dance awareness. Stop the gratuitous use of this song at every wedding, office party, and neighborhood block party.
  • Suede: Let the National Zoo Lions Eat The Stupid Deer That Jump Into Their Enclosure awareness.
  • Leather: Real Meat Is Tastier Than Tofu awareness. Soy burgers? Puh-leeze!
  • Leather with studs: Punk Rock awareness. Like they need more attention.
  • Black and Red: DC United Needs Another MLS Cup awareness, aka the Fifth Star campaign.
  • Anthracite: Stop US Soccer from Wearing Ugly-Ass Colors awareness. Whatever happened to red, white, or blue?
Did I forget any?.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Copa Mundial-Coup du Mond-World Cup

Sometimes I forget that this is a soccer blog too. Because readers of this blog come from all over the world, here's my take on how our countries did in qualifying for the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
  • El Salvador - Lo siento amiga.
  • England - Qualified easily, but will still lose to Germany in the tournament.
  • Israel - Had resounding win over Luxtensteinbourg or something, but failed to earn even a playoff spot, falling behind Greece and Latvia. Seriously, Latvia?
  • Ireland - Earned a playoff position. No Roy Keane means no distracting drama. In a playoff with France. How do you say "au revoir" in Gaelic?
  • Italy - The Azurri are headed to South Africa and will need to atone for their Confederations Cup disaster.By the way, I'm still looking for the blue on Italy's flag. If you find it, let me know.
  • Scotland - Too bad you didn't qualify. It always fun to see the Tartan Army at the World Cup finals. Come to think of it, they have a habit of cheering for another small country so that they can attend the World Cup, drink, and sing obscene songs about the English.
  • Spain - Also qualified easily, upholding their tradition of waiting until the knock-out rounds of the tournament to disappoint todo el pais.
  • Trinidad and Tobago - Have another Carib. Rough times after a tremendous effort in 2006, but thank you for keeping Mexico in second place..
  • United States - Yes, we qualified and finished in first place, but will can we really be happy with that? Honestly? Raise your hand if you dreading the draw.