Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Test Results

I neglected to tell you the results of the aforementioned scan.  Just to keep you in suspense, I'll mention something else first.

My port, the bionic vein, was removed last week because I don't need it anymore.  This was the device through which the chemotherapy was infused.  I call it "bionic," but it didn't give me any superhuman powers, except, maybe, the ability to easily take i.v. drugs: Higher than a bird, higher than a plane, shakier than the San Andreas fault, it's JunkieMan!
I also had a doctor's appointment, the first one in over six weeks.  I haven't gone that long without an appointment in a year.  He went over the results of my recent CT scan and blood tests.
Here's where I delay again, to build more suspense.  The U9 soccer team is doing well through three games.  We're 2-0-1 (14 GF, 7 GA).  That's 7 points, and if we were in the World Cup, we would have won our group and moved to the round of 16.
Where was I?  Oh yeah, test results.

CT scan?  Clear
CEA levels? Normal
El Oncologistador hasn't made an official proclamation or given me a certificate or anything, but I'll go ahead and say it:
Re-Mission Accomplished

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Barium (Ba, atomic number 56).  It is used as an insoluble heavy mud-like paste when drilling oil wells. Soluble barium compounds are poisonous due to release of the soluble barium ion, and have been used as rodenticides.  When heated with nitrogen and carbon, it forms the cyanide. (Source: Wikipedia)

What the f***?  We're supposed to drink this?

No.  I'm not Readi.
As you may have guessed, I have a CT scan coming up and have to drink barium sulfate (BaSO4) to provide contrast in my gastrointestinal tract. Some call it a "smoothie" while others call it a "shake."  It's not smooth and nothing like a milkshake, but one does have to shake it to suspend the gritty BaSO4.  I have to down one of these (450 mL) the night before the scan, another the morning of, and then some more at the radiology center right before the scan.

If you've ever had to drink this sludge, you know how awful it tastes (watch Becca).  Those clever makers of barium sludgies regularly come up with new flavors to make us think that this crap is palatable.  They've got a bunch of fruit flavors, like strawberry, citrus, and banana (that's why Dan does this).  The bottom line is, no amount of artificial flavoring will make you say "Bari-yummm!"  To .make a palatable, even delicious barium drink, we need the most creative culinary minds in America - a Top Chef Challenge!

Top Chef challenge: Create new flavors for barium drinks.
Barium Depth Charge
  • Barium Depth Charge (Boilermaker): Drop a shot of BaSO4 into a glass of beer (a shot glass doesn't hold much, so you'll have to repeat this - a lot).
  • Bari-Tini: Add gin and dry vermouth.  Shake and garnish with an olive.
  • BariRum and Coke: Do I really have to describe this?
  • Bari-shnikov: Add Russian vodka.  Stir by doing pirouettes.
  • Bari-sta: Steam the BaSO4 and add a shot of expresso. Only comes in venti.
  • Big Sandy: Add Kentucky bourbon.
  • Strawbari Letter 23: Strawberry flavored with a funky base and served in a Johnson Brothers china cup to people over 40 (too obscure?).
  • Bari Bonds: Add "nutritional supplements" from BALCO, then deny drinking it.
  • Marion Barium: Add crushed marionberries, serve in a cracked glass set up by a bitch.
BariRum and Coke
Big Sandy


      Tuesday, August 31, 2010

      I Lampoon Our "European" Vacation

      One of the things that frustrates me about these past 13 months is that the family didn't get a fun, summer getaway because I was undergoing treatment.  I realize that I can't do anything about that and that getting treatment trumps other considerations, but it was still annoying.  We did, however, manage to squeeze in a five-day trip before school started.  Anyway, I won't write an entry for each day, just a synopsis of our trip to Virginia and "Europe." No, not the Europe in Europe, nor the Europe in Orlando, FL.  We went to Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, VA, where roller coasters and other rides are set amidst European scenes, like fake castles and fake marketplaces.

      The first thing that made it feel like going to Europe was the long trip down I-95 in rush-hour Friday traffic.  A movie and free alcohol would have made the experience more authentic, but at least we avoided the security line at Dulles.  We were joined, for part of our stay, by brother-of-270 and his family.  Their flight from Florida was shorter than our drive.

      The five flags of Europe
      So, unencumbered by passports or Schengen visas, we headed to Europe.  To quote Donald Rumsfeld, this is Old Europe.  The only representatives were the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, and Italy; no Baltic states, former SSRs or former Yugoslav Republics.  Fortunately for los amigos madrileños, Spain was not represented.  I write "fortunately," because that's four amigos and 45 million others who won't be pissed off at Anheuser Busch for trivializing their country. Here's a brief look at selected "countries" and other notable items.
      • United Kingdom (Lite):  This UK was missing Wales and Northern Ireland, but who, other than me, is counting.  Hooligan Chase would be a good, soccer-themed, thrill ride here.  We didn't do much in the UK, except get on a ride that takes you away to France.
      • France:  The big thrill ride here, The Griffon,  was out of order when I tried to get on.  It really was out of service, not a usual French strike.  By the time I returned, it was in service but the wait was 45 minutes.  So I skipped it.  Our main attraction here was the all-you-can-eat buffet that featured traditional French dishes such as southern-fried chicken, hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese.  None of that coq au vin or escargot.  France was adjacent to another area of the park, titled "New France."  If you're wondering what "New France" is, it's Canada, complete with a trading post for north woods tschotkes.  France my derriere!
      • Italy:.  Unlike the real Italy, no-one in BG's version smoked or rode scooters.  Now that would be a good ride, Bumper Vespas.  We did ride Escape from Pompeii, a water ride in which your boat floats past collapsing columns and statues, propane volcanoes, and finally, down a flume where you are splashed.  I told my kids that it's just like Indiana Jones, the world's worst archeologist.  Every time he enters an ancient temple, it crumbles to dust.  Anyway, Italy was the site of the only roller coaster that I went on (alone), Apollo's Chariot.  This was one of the few rides that made some sense.  If you remember your Roman mythology (which they plagiarized from the Greeks), you know the story of Apollo's son who took his dad's chariot without permission and went careening across the skies.  The roller coaster was sort of like that, in 45 seconds and with more screaming.
      • Germany:  Here we took a ride through Dark Kastle, a house occupied by 3-D werewolves, which scared the kids.  Then we ate at Festhaus, where dancers danced to traditional German polka and oom-pah Musik.  What authentic German fare did we eat?  Pizza.
      • Consistent (?!) with the European theme was a Jack Hanna exhibit with North American grey wolves and North American bald eagles.  This must be the NATO part of Europe.
      • Gastarbeiters.  Translated as guest workers, this is the German term for foreign labor.  Except that they stayed in Germany, fought for citizenship, and their children now play for the German national soccer team.  BG (and the rest of Williamsburg) is filled with young people, mainly from Eastern Europe, with summer work permits.  This makes some sense.  If you're going to risk your life on a roller coaster, it's good to know that the people at the controls are good in physics and engineering.
      • Shopping:  Who are these people who travel to a fake Europe and then spend thousands of dollars for a German cuckoo clock?  If they have that kind of cash, why not travel to the real Germany?  Seriously, "Germany" contains a cuckoo clock store.  Sadly, there is no German beer store, because this is BUSCH Gardens.
      Donald or Douglas takes passengers around the Island of Sodor

      Dum Dum.  You give me gum gum
      Once you leave Busch Gardens and are back in American Williamsburg, you may visit President's Park.  A collection of giant busts of the 42 American Presidents, prior to Barack Obama, in one small park.  Obama is currently represented by a life-sized bust in the visitor center.  I don't know if this is because the sculptors are working on the giant Obama bust or if this is Virginia being Virginia.  Anyway, this place is America's Easter Island.  Presidential first name trivia:
      • 6 named James (Madison, Monroe, Polk, Buchanan, Garfield, Carter).
      • 5 named John (Adams, Q Adams, Tyler, Coolidge, Kennedy)
      • 4 named William (H Harrison, McKinley, Taft, Clinton)
      • 3 named George (Washington, HW Bush, W Bush)
      • 2 named Andrew (Jackson, Johnson), Franklin (Pierce, Roosevelt), and Thomas (Jefferson, W Wilson)
      Williamsburg Arsenal FC
      Colonial Williamsburg:  OK, pretty much all of you know about this 18th century colonial village, one of several cradles of the American Revolution - at least the only one that charges you $36 to get in.  Williamsburg craftsmen use techniques of the period to make bricks, silver items, wool yarn, and ummm... funny hats.  Williamsburg actors portray revolutionary war-era events such as a protest of the new taxes in the Stamp Act, which is ironic because the food and beverage tax in Williamsburg is 10 FREAKIN' PERCENT!  With all that history around them, what did the boys enjoy most?  Guns from the gift shop.  My little Americans.

      Water Country USA:  The last day of the trip turned out to be the most exciting.  The boys, who eschewed anything that looked like or was next to a roller coaster in BG, eagerly went down water slides.

      After that, it was back on I-95 for the quick return trip home with the mandatory stop at Cracker Barrel.  Country fried steak, can't get that in any Europe.

      Monday, August 16, 2010

      Where Do We Go From Here?

      These patient-written cancer blogs have two ways of ending  Too often, a sad entry is written by the patient's family member.  Otherwise the writer has moved on, trying to resume a somewhat normal life, and writes less frequently.  Maybe, someday, Mrs. 270 will write that I died celebrating my future grandson's goal in the 2046 World Cup, or future granddaughter's in 2047 (the other grandchildren will be a successful too, however, one must maintain some sense of decorum at the awards ceremonies in Stockholm and Oslo).

      The alternative to ending this is to go on with mindless prattle about everyday things.

      Today the boys got ready for school on time, without my yelling at them.  After I dropped them off, as I was driving to work, some idiot in a 7-series BMW cut me off. So I flipped him off.  Then he turned in to my office's parking lot.  I didn't know that our director drove a 7-series BMW.

      But I'm not sure that I care to do that or that you would care to read it.  Rather than write for the sake of writing, I'll keep you up to date on scans, tests, etc.  So blog entries will decrease (as if they could possibly be fewer).

      Before the blog entries get fewer and further between, I would like to thank all of you for your emotional and practical support. It has lifted our spirits to know that you care enough to read this and send us good wishes.

      Saturday, August 7, 2010

      Your Vote Is Needed To Fulfill a Dream

      In many countries, people are denied opportunities to fulfill their dreams because of war, poverty, malnutrition, or lack of education.  This is the story of Tim (his real name). Tim lives in Gainesville, Fl, in a hovel (by Beverly Hills standards).  His annual income is a tiny fraction of a Wall Street CEO's bonus.  Tim's dream, like that of so many men with a mid-life crisis, is to perform with his rock band in front of thousands of drunken, screaming chicks with full-sleeve tattoos and body piercings.  But Tim cannot fulfill this dream because his band does not have enough votes on an internet contest to open for KISS in Raleigh, NC.

      Rodin's Kiss

      Rockin KISS

      Tim's band, The Sevilles, is known in North Florida for college-crowd pleasing songs such as "Mary Jane," "Riding the 8-Ball," and  "Highway 69."  As a good Catholic boy, Tim must be singing about a pious girl, a game of billiards, and  the unfinished rote from Michigan to Texas.  And "Highway 69" will one day form a triumvirate of road songs with "Route 66" and Highway 61 Revisited."

      Tim and his Flying V
      Tim sings and plays a Gibson flying V, which he slings low on his hip as if he's in his 20's.  He will soon develop carpal tunnel syndrome in his left hand from this.  If he had access to proper health care, an orthopedist would advise him to play the more ergonomic Les Paul and wear it higher.

      Tim is getting older (much, much older - really, he's so much older than I am) and may not have more chances to reach his goal before he loses his hearing. Please help him and The Sevilles by voting at the website below. Just a minute of your time could help this aging rocker achieve his dream.  If they win, not only does get the opening gig, but Tim will wear make-up like Gene Simmons. That's on top of the lipstick and mascara that he puts on each morning.

      How to Vote:
      Go to this absurdly long URL
      Select USA
      Enter the Zip Code 27601
      Fill out the fields: Gender, Birth year, e-mail address.
      Enter the security code that's shown
      Uncheck the "Receive Special Offers" box
      Click Continue

      (You're welcome, Tim)

      Thursday, August 5, 2010

      FOLFOX Round 12: "I hold in my hand the last envelope."

      Remember Johnny Carson's Karnac the Magnificent sketches and how the crowd would applaud in mock relief when Ed McMahon gave Johnny the last envelope with the corny set-up to the punchline?  Well, that's sort of what I feel like (relief, not corny).

      So this is it.  The last FOLFOX treatment.  I may be done with chemo, but it's not done with me.  My fingers and toes are still numb and my taste buds are still not functioning properly.  The side effects will fade over the next four weeks and, I hope, none will become permanent.  Do I celebrate?  Not really, I'm too tired and no food tastes good to me. In a few weeks, when I have my energy and taste back, I may go out for a ribeye and a beer.  In the meantime, everyone else should have a drink and some cake to celebrate. - and strippers.  Everyone should have strippers in the kitchen.  What?  They're  good for getting the leaves off sprigs of rosemary and thyme.  Rosemary and Thyme aren't good stripper names, like Ginger and Cumin.

      Where was I?  Oh yeah, If you recall, the whole thing started on July 22, 2009, when I was diagnosed with an adenocarcinoma of the rectum.  It's been a bumpy ride since then.

      28 radiation treatments
      12 FOLFOX treatments
      two colonoscopies
      two PET scans
      two CT scans
      too many digital rectal exams
      one major surgery
      one unnecessary trip to the ER
      lots of percoset and oxycontin
      one really sweet morphine drip
      one episode of Ativan-induced hallucination

      eight (at least) oncology nurses
      four oncologists (primary, radiation, consulting, cousin-in-law)
      four anesthesiologists
      three primary care physicians (my regular doc is usually on vacation when I need an appointment)
      three physician's assistants
      three surgery residents
      three radiologists (two for the scans, one is a college friend)
      two radiation technologists
      two gastroenterologists
      too many phlebotomists
      one surgeon (you really don't want more than one person knifing around down there)
      one ER physician
      A whole bunch of other medical personnel who have seen me naked from the waist down

      Thousands of blog hits
      Dozens of supporters
      Several readers, co-workers, friends, and relatives who scheduled colonoscopies (and some who still need to do that)
      A few new comrades also in the fight
      One who succumbed

      The number  I'm looking forward to now is zero, as in zero spots on the next CT scan.

      Monday, July 26, 2010

      FOLFOX Round 11: I'm Running Out Of Subtitles

      I just realized that I haven't posted anything about Round 11, which was two weeks ago.  There's nothing much to write about it.  I was taken of Emend (one of the anti-emetics).  The protocol is an infusion of Emend on day 1, followed by Emend tablets on days 2 and 3.  However, in about week four, I forgot to take the Emend tablets and, since I wasn't nauseous, I decided to stay off them.  The fewer drugs, the better is my creed - unless we're talking about narcotics.

      In treatments 5-10, the nurses have asked if I had my Emend prescription.  I told them each time that I do, but I don't take it.  Finally, in week 11, one of the nurses figured that since I've been breaking protocol for months, she would take me off the d1 Emend infusion.  Fine with me, if that and the associated steroids are eliminated, it cuts an hour off the infusion time.  I really don't want to spend more time than necessary in the infusion room.

      No new side effects to add.  I have the same old problems, they just last longer.  I had figured to lose my fine motor skills, but I didn't.  I'm still able to button my shirts, even those ridiculously tiny buttons on the collar,and I was able to build this:
      LEGO Droid Trifighter

      I haven't tried to tie my shoes lately, because I wear sandals to go out of the house.  It's 100 freakin' degrees out, I'm not wearing tennis shoes or Adidas Sambas, and I'm certainly not wearing these, not matter what Clint Dempsey says.
      Yours for the low, low price of $339.99.

      Whatever happened to black soccer boots anyway.  These days, the stars are wearing yellow, orange, and lime green ones.  If you're going to wear fancy-schmancy shoes, you'd better score lots of goals.  Hear that, Messrs. Rooney, Ronaldo, and Messi?

      Wednesday, July 7, 2010

      FOLFOX Round 10: Absolutely nothing to report.

      Just the usual fatigue, numbness, lack of taste, and loss of appetite.

      And now for something completely different.

      Have you noticed that "Next Blog" link on the top of the page.  According to Blogspot,

      The new and improved Next Blog link will now take you to a blog with similar content, in a language that you understand.

      OK.  So I start on this blog and click Next Blog.  Of twenty attempts, here's what I get:

      GREEN MAGAZINE: green lifestyle news.  If you want to "Go Green," turn off your freakin' computer.
      Wednesday whining. To confuse you, none of the recent posts were done on a Wednesday.
      Le Carnet d'Eledraël I don't know what the hell this is.
      Mattye Lee's Raw Progression A "raw vegan" finds spiritual enlightenment in her journey through uncooked herbivorism.
      Blogger: Blog not found and Blogger: Permission denied. Apparently there is a Bermuda Triangle for blogs.. 
      Kathy - mom of many: A Christian mom of 10 children.  She makes sure to point out that she is neither Catholic nor Mormon.  I wonder if Kathy's last name is Koresh.
      Radical. Rational. Juiceing [sic] and Feasting. Experiment.  Another health nut who "regularly detoxes."  If you call her, don't expect her to answer. She's in the bathroom.
      Blog 324.  This is like Blog365 with 41 vacation days.
      I also hit two family blogs , a few "what's on my mind at the moment" blogs (most of these folks should stick to twitter), two cancer blogs, and some weight-loss blogs.

      Notice anything wrong here? Correct.  The "similar content" claim is, to quote Click (or is it Clack?) boh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-gus Only two cancer blogs, no soccer blogs, and no traffic reports.  As far as "a language you understand, I don't understand anything about Eldrael's car net. What's that about? Does the paint flake of into his food?

      So either Blogspot is lying about this feature or I'm really a whining, tree-hugging Christian vegan with a très français vacation schedule.

      Friday, June 18, 2010

      My Favorite Soccer Commercials

      Is anyone else disappointed with the 2010 World Cup commercials?  I am.  They just haven't interested me as before.  Not that I would run out for Adidas or Nike cleats every four years (my Adidas cleats are over 12 years old). And if I did go to the store, I wouldn't miss a minute of any matches, because I can watch on my phone, while driving.  Anyway, this Cup's commercials are disappointing because they're  just selling products, rather than appealing to the imagination.

      We who watch soccer on TV (WWWSOT) remember the old days, when there was no live soccer on TV.  The few matches we saw were tape delayed and edited for American TV, i.e. play was cut out and commercials were put in.  At some point, we started seeing live soccer.  Then, when corporations figured out that WWWSOT are above the national average in education and income, they decided to make soccer-themed commercials.  The earliest ones I remember were run-of-the-mill ads with soccer players, e.g. Tab Ramos (Snickers) and Mia Hamm (Pert). Then the ads turned into short films.  I've put a few of my favorites below the break.

      Wednesday, June 16, 2010

      FOLFOX Round 9: Or is it faux FOX

      Leucovorin was in short supply, so it was excluded from my treatment regimen this round.  It's a freakin' vitamin, how can there be a shortage.  I think I'll have to start getting my drugs at GNC.  Of course, GNC supplements may contain banned substances, which will disqualify me from the 2010 World Cup.  As I was never even invited to training camp, this won't be a big deal.  However, I have been repeatedly invited to buy tickets.

      Actually it should be FOLFOXCAMAGALOXIDEX because it includes :Calcium and Magnesium (to dampen the neuropathy), Aloxi (for nausea), dexamethasone (to increase the efficacy of the Aloxi),

      The good thing was that I remembered to shave this time, sparing me the agony of tape removal.  You want terrorists to talk?  Rip their chest hair off with medical tape.

      If you attend any PTA meetings, or any meetings whatsoever, read this blog.  you'll recognize some of the players, but i hope it's not in the mirror.

      Finally, for the deep thinkers, Dan has a book recommendation.

      Monday, June 7, 2010

      Fie, Fi, Fo, Fum.

      The US men's soccer team opens it's World Cup against England.  To stoke the fires of patriotism and fan the flames of jingoism, here are some reasons why we should dislike the English, at least for June 12, 2010.
      1. Their Players I: John Terry and Ashley Cole - to be fair though, put together, they didn't score off the field nearly as much as Tiger Woods.
      2. Their Players II: Joey Barton and his family. These guys make our felon-athletes look like Sunday School teachers.
      3. Their Food: To get decent a decent meal, the English had to colonize three-fourths of the world. Look at all the problems that caused.
      4. Cricket:  "How long is a game?"  "Two innings."  "So it takes, what, an hour?"  "No. Five days."
      5. Their Cars I: Jaguar, Land Rover, British Leyland, the list goes on.  Their cars are all crap.  They even made one called Tourette (insert your own joke).  Thankfully, they don't build cars anymore, letting the Germans and Indians handle that.  Don't get me started on their motorcycles.
      6. Their Cars II: They drive on the wrong side of the road.  The Canadians had enough sense to drop that idea.
      7. The Royal Family:  If they were American, they would be in a trashy reality show on Bravo.
      8. Their Sitcoms: Why, oh why, does PBS still subject us to Are You Being Served?  It's not, and never was, funny.  And I am unanimous in that.
      9. Their Honors: Knighthoods for singing?  Singing?!  What I want to see is Elton John v Paul McCartney in a joust.
      10. Amy Winehouse.  'Nuff said.
      To the Scottish and Irish readers: "Because they're bastards" may be a good enough reason for you, but it's not on my list.  Anyway, in the spirit of '76, I'm going to dump my venti chai peppermint mocha latte into the Anacostia.  It should improve the water quality.

      Tuesday, June 1, 2010

      FOLFOX Round 8:: 66.66666666666...

      Eight down, four to go.  And it seems like just yesterday that I started all my treatments.

      At this visit we learned that my platelet counts are low due to the oxaliplatin.  That's really a direct, rather than side, effect.  The drugs are supposed to kill rapidly dividing cells, like tumor cells, and blood cell precursors happen to divide rapidly.  Side effects, like the numbness in my hands and the cold intolerance, are hanging around like bad house guests.  So my oncologist dialed back to dose, rather than delay the treatment.  He may be concerned that some of the side effects may become permanent at the regular dose, or that my platelet count will be so low that I'll bleed to death if I cut myself shaving.  I could solve that by waxing my legs instead.

      The infusion went according to plan.  I packed my chemo bag with snacks, my laptop, and a DVD of In Plain Sight - Season 1 (who knew there were so many protected witnesses in Albuquerque?)  There were no schedule mishaps or drug formula substitutions.  It all went like clockwork.  Anyway, I have four treatments left and the side effects will only get more intense.  But, what else can I do other than suck it up and push through.  Anyway, I can be persuaded to lay on the couch all day from June 11 - July 11.

      No U8 game this weekend, but last Saturday the boys played another hard-fought game, this time with two subs, but we "lost" by one goal.  Nevertheless, we passed the ball well, took a lot of shots, and scored a handful of goals. One of kids even did things that showed he actually listened during practice.

      At match time, we did not have a referee, so I reffed the first half.  Thank goodness U8s don't use the offside rule.  I'm a bit vague on the ref's hand signals, other than pointing which way the possession goes.  After all, who looks at the ref during the match?  There must be a sign for "shut up" that I could show to the parents who constantly yell "KICK IT!"  It's freaking soccer, of course they know to kick the ball.  The ref showed up for the second half, claiming that he was stuck in traffic from Baltimore.   Must be a long closing-time rush hour, because our game was at 8 AM.

      Thursday, May 27, 2010

      The Lion Doesn't Sleep Tonight

      One of the problems I have is sleeplessness.  Sometimes I don't feel sleepy until 2 or 3 AM, and on the days that I do get to sleep at a reasonable hour, I wake up early.  Waking up early, one notices things in the neighborhood, like when the garbage truck comes, and that guy (I'm assuming it's a guy) a few doors down who starts his car promptly at 5 AM and lets it warm up for exactly five minutes, no matter what the weather.  Oh yeah, and the boids choipin' and boipin' and eatin' doity oithwoims.

      The other thing one does when sleepless is to find interesting tools on the internet.  I found a travel map generator to show the countries of all who have visited this blog.  It's not a live, updateable tool, so if you leave the page, your data are lost.  You also can't save the data.  I haven't figured out how to embed the image yet, but you can find a link on the right sidebar (or just click here).

      I also found another hit counter with a map, that started on May 27, so it won't include past hits.

      So far, the countries in Continent Bingo are:

      Africa: Morocco
      Asia: India, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates
      Europe: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom,
      North America: Canada, United States
      South America: Chile
      Oceania: Australia

      Antarctica:  no hits yet (how about you, Dan?).  I suspect that internet access from the research stations is routed through the home countries' servers.

      Monday, May 24, 2010

      Everybody talks about the weather...

      ... but no-one does anything about it. Charles Dudley Warner

      Well, I'm going to change all that. This must really be the coldest Spring on record.  Just when I think it's starting to warm up, we get another cold front and I'm back to wearing gloves for soccer practice and games.  I'm tired of it.  So I'm trading in my Honda Accord for a Hummer and I'm going to remove the catalytic converter.  Screw the ozone layer and let the stupid polar bears swim.

      Two Saturdays ago, the U8s played another game with only six players, but we won this one.  Well, we don't keep score in this rec league, but the kids do and mention it during the match.  I can't blame them.  There were six of them running all the time in the midday sun without respite.  Who would begrudge them some satisfaction?  Our first two were scored before the sixth player arrived.  We started with five (the quorum) so as not to forfeit.

      The opposing coach was yellow carded for mouthing off at the ref.  Obviously he didn't read the e-mail, sent earlier that week, about coach and parent behavior.  He was also way, way, waaaay off base on his protests.  They were all 50-50 balls and the kids bumped into each other - expected for U8 games.  I'll bet this coach, when he plays, is a diver.

      I really don't know what makes grown-ups so petulant at U8 games.  If they get that upset about the little calls in a U8 rec game, they shouldn't be coaching.  Maybe some of them are trying to impress the parents with their "knowledge of the game."   Really, what do you say to the ref during the game, other than "Man down."  My role at the game is to make sure the kids get enough playing time (which is really easy when there are no subs) and enjoy the game.  After that, I yell encouragement and minimal instructions like "Stay in your goal!" and "Move up, defense!"  Some of them (the keeper and defender) usually stay in their positions.  Others just roam the field.  Commanding them not to bunch up is futile.  We talk about it in practice and run drills where they're spaced apart and passing, but during the games, all except the keeper and the defender chase the ball.

      Soccerheads: Read this article on US defender Clarence Goodson, a protege of Joe Doc (Skill Kills!).

      Thursday, May 13, 2010

      FOLFOX Round 7: If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Wednesday

      The first six rounds of chemo all started on a Tuesday and ended on a Thursday.  I plan my week around it, e.g. so that I don't have to wear the chemo pump during soccer practice on Thursday evening).  However, this week was different.  I was teleworking Tuesday morning, expecting to go to the doctor's office at 1:00 PM, when I got a call from aforementioned doctor's office to remind me of my appointment on Wednesday at 1:00 PM. 

      "Wednesday?" I asked incredulously, "I always have my appointments on Tuesday, why is it on Wednesday?"

      It turns out that they scheduled me for Wednesday, but I did not catch the error.  I have the tentative times blocked off on my calendar, so when they told me the appointment, I must have just heard the time and updated only that on my smart phone.  How smart is it if it didn't catch the error?  Anyway, I talked to one of the nurses to see if they could squeeze me in on Tuesday afternoon, but she said it was impossible because my drugs arrive by overnight courier on the morning of my appointment and thus,  wouldn't be there until Wednesday morning.

      "So, I'm not picky.  Could I just have someone else's chemo?"
      "No," she laughed. "It doesn't work that way."

      So, come Wednesday, I'm sitting in the infusion room, getting my drugs and reading Soccernomics, when the English nurse (she's from southern England, I hope, for her sake, she's not a Portsmouth fan) tells me that one of my drugs, Leucovarin the "L" in FOLFOX, arrived in a saline solution, which is different from what I usually get.  Saline, it turns out, is incompatible with oxaliplatin (the "OX), so she couldn't run it in the same iv line to my mediport.  Instead, she had to find one of my junkie veins and run a new line into my arm.  Fortunately for them, nurses and phlebotomists never have problems finding my stout veins.  The only trouble she had was seeing the veins under all that hair.  You kow what hairy arms mean, don't you - tape.  Anyway, they had to use this work around for several patients and assured us that it was only an anomaly and would not happen again.

      Two chapters, a couple of comments on Soccer Insider, and a nap later I was out of there.

      Our soccer team lost another game.  The U8s play 6-on-6 and exactlysix players(out of 11) showed up for the game.  So they were exhausted quickly.  Nevertheless, these six played their best game of the season.  Our meandering defender got out of position many times to chase a winger, but he followed the ball doggedly and shut down many chances.  Our goalkeepers (I did rotate at this position) stayed on their line and actually fell on the ball instead of trying to kick it away.  Our forwards and midfielders passed better than in any other game and got many shots off.  Unfortunately, fatigue set in early and many of the shots were hurried.  A 0-3 loss was not bad, considering.  One bright side is that I could toss out my substitution scheme at the start of the game.

      Thursday, May 6, 2010

      FOLFOX Round 6: At The Half

      I'm midway through the FOLFOX treatments.  My oncologist says I'm "doing great."  Funny, I don't feel great at all.  But his perspective includes a whole lot of cancer patients and mine includes me.  The side effects are piling up more, so it's going to be an uphill climb from now through July.

      I found a new side effect.  Sometimes, one of my fingers will just stick out and not relax at all.  Another time, I made a fist with my right hand and, when my brain told my fist to relax, it didn't.  Being scientifically minded, I repeated the experiment and used my left hand as a control.  The left hand relaxed, but the right didn't.  Anyway, this has only happened once so far, but I imagine it will again during round 7.  I hope the finger won't get me in trouble.

      So, I spent an hour and a half at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Adminstration (the DMV in most other states).  The reason was that someone stole my rear license plate and I had to get a new set.  The thieves also stole my University of Florida license plate frame, so I have to go to webmart and buy a new set.  I wonder if I can get one with Heather Mitts' picture.

      Thursday, April 29, 2010

      I shouldn't complain, but...

      When I write "I shouldn't complain," it means that I'm going to complain, but I want you to think I'm a reasonable person who usually knows when to hold his tongue.  Anyway, the topics of my pique are in bold.

      The side effects are increasingly annoying.  My sensitivity to cold objects now lasts the entirety of the two-week treatment cycle.  The effects modulate somewhat in the last seven days, but they do not subside completely.  Right now I'm typing this in a room that's probably at 70 degrees, but my fingers are tingling and I'm making more typos than usual.

      Fatigue is also an issue.  It used to begin the day after my pump was disconnected., but it now starts earlier and lasts longer.  That's a bit of a problem when trying to run a Cub Scout den meeting, soccer practice, and the game.  Fortunately, those aren't all in one day and I can usually recruit other parents to help out.

      My weight is beginning to drop - I lost a pound since my last weigh-in.  Even though I try to "eat as if it's a chore," the insensitive taste buds don't allow me to enjoy much.  I'll probably drop five to ten more pounds.  If you know me, you know that I can't afford to drop weight.

      It would be nice if parents brought their kids to the soccer game on time.  I ask that they get there 15 minutes early to warm up and stretch, with the unreasonable hope that all 11 players will be there at game time.  At the last game, only six players were present for kickoff (the U8s play 6v6).  This completely screws up the line-up and substitutions that I plan. 

      The referee lined the players up for an equipment check.  She did that last season too and is the only ref to do so.  One of the kids, despite everything I've told them and their parents, wore his shin guards over his socks.  At least I could blame the ref when I told tell dad that his son could not participate until he was properly in uniform.  This dad also yells "KICK IT!"  whenever the ball gets near his son.  I've asked the parents to refrain from coaching, because I don't want the kids to just boot the ball aimlessly, but that is also an unreasonable hope.

      We lost the last match horribly. The mercy rule (add another player at -5 goal differential) was implemented in the middle of the first half.  Adding the player didn't help.  Part of the problem is that we took our team picture an hour before the game, and the boys ran around during the waiting time and may have tired themselves out.  So, rev up the "Fire Coach 270" bandwagon again.

      I just put golvs on to tyoe.  Cqan you tell?>

      Friday, April 23, 2010

      FOLFOX Round 5: When It Absolutely, Positively, Has To Be There... Whenever

      Nothing ever goes as planned.  I went to my infusion appointment last Tuesday, as I do every other Tuesday.  But I waited a little more time in the waiting room.  When I got to the infusion room, I noticed that one patient was getting extra attention from several nurses.  Not that I'm jealous, mind you.  It's going to happen in an oncology practice that someone has an emergency from time to time that takes a lot of attention.  So I sat in the recliner and waited until one of the nurses was free to hook me up and start my infusion.  In all, I was in the oncologist's office for five hours.

      When I went back two days later, to have the pump disconnected, I was supposed to get a Neulasta shot.  Unfortunately, the shipment of refrigerated drugs was sitting on the ground in Memphis.  I'm sure that the Eyjafjallajökull is taking the blame for that.  Have you noticed how the English-language new services never mention the volcano's name?  It's always "the volcano in Iceland" or  "the volcano that has disrupted air travel in Europe."  C'mon, can't anyone pronounce Eyjafjallajökull?!

      On the positive side, the "Fire Coach 270" bandwagon is idling.  The U8s are now 1-1, with a +6 goal differential.  We have more wins and more goals than DC United. The last game was fun for our team, but not so much for the other.  Most of them hadn't played soccer before and they were younger than our team.  Next time we outmatch a team (if there is a next time), I'll probably institute the 3-passes-before-you shoot rule or take a player off.  I informed the other coach that she could add a player at 5-0, but she said they "weren't keeping score."  Sorry lady, the kids do keep score.

      Wednesday, April 14, 2010

      Lies, Damn Lies, and Hit Counts

      I started this blog last summer, but didn't install a hit counter until January.  It measures hits from individual computers and may overestimate the number of readers as some of you read this from your work and home computers. I'm not sure how or if it counts mobile devices.  If you're reading this from an iPhone or Droid, put the phone down and drive.

      Anyway, now that we've crossed 1,000 individual computers, let's take a look at you. I should mention that it's a free hit counter, so the stat reports are limited - I don't know who you are.

      Where you at?
      Most of you are in the United States.  You're probably looking for traffic reports or directions from Bethesda, MD to Hershey, PA and are wondering what I-270 has to do with colon cancer.  The highway and the colon are both routes with noxious, gaseous emissions.  Sometimes traffic moves quickly and sometimes not at all.  Fortunately, with the colon you get only one @$$h0le.

      We have some repeat visitors from Spain (los amigos madrileños), Canada (cousins?), and the UK (other cousins?).

      Among the one-time hits is someone from Denmark.  I don't know anyone in Denmark, or the rest of Scandinavia (including Finland and Iceland), but I do know Scandahoovian folks from Minnesota.

      Other one-time hits have been from Australia and Slovakia, who may be former colleagues (G'day and dobre rano, respectively), and Poland.  I don't think I know anyone in Poland.

      Your Gear
      Most of you use PCs, probably because that's what you have at work (lots of XP users).  To those you you who have Macs supported by your IT department - luck-yyyyy.

      Most of you use Internet Explorer.  Please run a virus scan immediately, then download Firefox.  For those using IE6, I have your credit card and social security numbers.

      Anyway, all of you are welcome to post comments by clicking on "comments" at the bottom of each entry.. You may post as anonymous and make up a name.  Also, feel free to e-mail me.  If something is funny enough to be shared, I'll post it without your name.

      Friday, April 9, 2010

      Songs Of The Colon

      Previously on The Local Lanes...
      cowpasture said... Has this blog noted one songwriter's attempt to do for National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month what he did for Chanukah?
      The Colonscopy Song: Peter Yarrow

      OK.. You asked for it.  Well, maybe all of you didn't but it's my damn blog.  Here are some clips about colons, rectums, and scopes.

      Working Where the Sun Don't Shine: Bowser and Blue. I posted this one before my surgery.

      The Colon is a Mighty Big River: Bowser and Blue. Schoolhouse Rock for adults.  Warning: contains actual colonoscopy images.

      I Don't Like Getting Older: Robert Klein:

      Bonus Comedy Track: WARNING: NOT SAFE FOR WORK OR KIDS.  Remember Billy Connolly?  Most Americans were introduced to him as Howard Hesseman's replacement in Head of the Class, you know, the savant sweathogs.  Here's his stand up routine about getting a colonoscopy.  He's Scottish, so he swears a lot and you may need a translator...