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12 August 2012 @ 08:29 pm
By now, for the few of you who remember me, I ought to update you on my health status.  In the words of NASA, my treatment and recovery have been "nominal".

I was originally diagnosed with bladder cancer last November at the begining of the month.  My urologist was concerned enough with what he saw on the CAT scan (tumors almost filling the interior of my bladder) that he said he wouldn't bother doing a biops himself.  Instead, he referred me directly to Dr. Kamal Pohar ot Ohio State University' Jaes Cancer Research Hospital.  I met with Dr. Pohar and his team in mid-November.  What they didn't tell me is that the size of the tumors led them to believe they must have metastasized ouside of the bladder, meaning I would be in Stage IV, with about a 15% chance of surviving five years.  What they DID tell me is that if I had to have cancer, it might as well be bladder cancer, because they knew how to deal with it.

TLDR - medical detailsCollapse ) 
The final pathology report showed no evidence of any spread of caner outside of my bladder, and I was "downgraded" to a Stage II, with a greatly increased chance for long-term survival.  I'll be going back for screenings and CAT scans quarterly for a year and annually afterwards for at least five years and probably longer.  I won't be officially "cured" for five years, but I have permission to start living that way now.  Along the way, I've lost almost 60 pounds, and my blood sugar has returned to normal levels.  The hair I lost has come back in, brown instead of gray.  I still need some additional endurance, but I'm probably in better shape now than I have been in years. 

I couldn't have done it without the support of my company, my work, and especially my family.  I owe them all a BIG thank you.
08 January 2012 @ 02:47 pm

As those of you who are also friends of mari4212 know, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer last November.  Yes it is malignant, and I’ll be on a catheter until chemo is complete and I go for surgery in late March or early April.  The doctors are very optimistic about mylong-term prognosis.

Today was the first day I have been out of the house for anything but a medical reason since early December, following my biopsy for bladder cancer. 
We’ve found that Scout pants work well with a catheter and large bag, since I can unzip the right leg partially and get the hose out of my pants.  The pants don’t work well for the occasional spasm where I tend to leak, but we figured that a kilt might work, so that’s what I’m wearing now.  I now have a thrifty kilt from www.stillwaterkilts.com.  I’ll leave it to my Scouting friends to figure out the tartan.

As I said, today was the first “fun” excursion out of the house since December 7th, to our church.  What I didn’t anticipate was that there would be a baptism today, the son of one of our kid’s friends.  For the past few years, our church has sung a fairly modern hymn “I was there” at all baptisms, and we did today as well.  It’s always been moving, but in my current situation, the end of the third verse and the fourth, truncated verse meant much more.  Here are two versions, for you to enjoy and learn from.



12 November 2010 @ 06:06 pm
Which songs have been covered better by artists who didn't originally sing them?

Any Dylan song
27 August 2007 @ 12:18 pm
Saturday was spent helping to teach ten people how to be good Scoutmasters at our council's training facility. The classes were fun, and there was a lot of good interaction with the students. A few were fairly new to Scouting, but several were veteran leaders who were transitioning into a new role.

At home, we had the maple tree in our back yard cut down. Our kids grew up climbing in the tree, and finding favorite perches to read, curl up with cats and while away the summer. It got hit by lightning two years ago, and has gradually been dying, so it was time for the tree to go. We have several sections of the trunk saved for each of the kids (and us) to make endtables. We also dropped our middle daughter off at a county MRDD facility for respite care. She's been there before, and has a grand time on this type of "adventure".

On Sunday, we all went to a combined service with another Episcopal church and parish picnic. My wife, mari4212 and I stayed through the service, then drove down to the University of Evansville to drop mari4212 at school. Her classes start on Wednesday, but this gives her a few days to get settled in, and it helps with our schedule as well. We made good time going down, and got her settled in her dorm in reasonably good order, save for a temporarily missing computer cable. (See her post for moving in tales and room rants.) We also met with the rabbi and his wife at dinner. mari4212 thoroughly enjoyed her class with him last spring, and positively squeed about taking an independent study course this semester. After meeting him, we can understand why she got along so well with him in class. We then returned to home, leaving from Evansville at 8:15 our time (EST). naturally, Cincinnati traffic was snarled up, with three lanes merging into a single lane through a construction zone where NOBODY WAS WORKING. We made it home at 1:30 in the morning. I think I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow.

I was rudely reminded that things were shifting back to our almost kidless state at 5:00 AM, when Blackie, mari4212 's cat woke me up to have his head cuddled, and water added to his (almost) full water bowl. He's been sleeping curled up against her, and sleeping in late all summer, but now that she's gone, he needs to be reassured that somebody loves hime early in the morning.

Wednesday we start a road trip to take our son to Hampshire College. One LONG day of driving, moving him into the dorm on Thursday, a family orientation late on Thursday and all day Friday, then my wife and I have three days to ourselves before I'm due back at work. There'll be a stop in Boston, and another in Fall River, where my wife grew up. It'll be the longest alone time we've had with each other since we became parents. Too bad there'll still be fourteen hours of driving home in it.
24 August 2007 @ 08:43 am

A quick, but obvious leadership skill - you get more volunteer help when you show appreciation for what your volunteers have done.

I'm part of the training committee for the local Boy Scout Council.  I'm the chairman for training in one of the districts (a smaller region within the council) and therefore have a seat on the Council Training Committee.  The Boy Scouts of America has a LOT of training courses available, and it is hard for many leaders to keep track of what is necessary to be considered "fully trained".  There was a very rough-looking table that showed which courses were required and which ones were strongly recommended for every leader, but it was shown in a black-and-white text table with large boxes and small "R" and "S" letters in each box.  The easiest way to read the table was to assume that everyone neded to take everything.

I developed a clearer, one-page form that showed the training that was absolutely required for both the Boy Scouts and the Cub Scouts.  Our previous Training Committee Chair decreed that we should not post the sheets until they had been reviewed (which I agree with), and then assigned the review to another member of the committee who wanted everyone to take everything.  For six months, she came back each month with one or two changes she wanted, then new changes the next month and so on, bfore our Training Webmaster finally posted them online in draft form, so that the people who wanted to use them (even unapproved) could.

The Training Committee Chair and the reviewer stepped down at the beginning of the summer, to be replaced by new people.  We also suspend work on training over the summer, since everyone is busy camping.  Last night, we got started again, and during new business, the new Training Committee Chairs told me "I put your training summaries upstairs in the Scout Shop for general distribution.  They're great - can you do similar sheets for Venturing and for District/Council positions?"

And now the rhetorical question - who will I do more and better work for?

21 August 2007 @ 12:07 pm
My son and I went out to the Order of the Arrow Ordeal on Friday and Saturday. (OA is the Boy Scout honor society) 42 new people were inducted into the lodge. My son was in charge of ceremonies for the last time before leaving for college, and also managed the near impossible on a Boy Scout trip - he got to spend time with his girlfriend. The ordeal weekend was held at our scout camp, and he met her while they were both working at the camp. An ordeal weekend is deliberately stressful on the new candidates - not enough to fail them, but stressful enough to be memorable - and much more pleasant for the members. That is, unless you do it the way I do.  On each ordeal, the new candidates are gathered together in clans, and are led through the weekend by a member of the OA, who acts as a guide-by-example, and endures the ordeal all over again. That's the job that I usually do, for the adults who are experiencing the ordeal. I got home tired. 

On Sunday, we took the family up to visit my wife's sister and her husband and son.  It's the last chance the family has to get together before we take mari4212 and our son to college. Good company and good food - BUT - I discovered that I'm allergic to my sister-in-law's house. I started sneezing shortly after we arrived, and didn't really stop till on the way home. She's noticed that she sneezes more at home too, and is looking to have the ducts cleaned out. 

Between being gone for most of the weekend, I missed out on two of the "Quaffle" competitions at hogwarts_elite Quidditch matches. Sorry, Bronze Banditos. 

There was one interesting moment in church, and afterward. We take the time during our services to celebrate any special events in people's lives - birthdays, wedding anniversaries, anniversaries of sobriety, etc. in the middle of the services. This Sunday, a girl that's been a member of the youth group with my son and her boyfriend got up. She just graduated from high school and is starting college in a month or so. He's been to college for the past two years, and they've been dating for two years. They got up to announce their engagement, which became official last Friday, on their second anniversary of dating. Both mari4212 's and my son's immediate reactions were "She's too young to get married". 

My wife and I both noticed that she was wearing a mich tighter blouse than she had on previous occasions, and that her tummy was now bulging outward farther than her breasts. Yep - about five months pregnant. Both mari4212 's and my son still had the same reaction when we pointed out the evidence too them later - "Oh NAME DELETED how could you? You're too young to get pregnant". 

Well, yes and no. They're certainly old enough biologically, since it happened, and in any century before ours, eighteen to twenty-year olds would already be married and raising families. On the other hand, American society still generally discourages getting pregnant before you are married, and getting married before you finish your education. 

My father-in-law once defined a conservative Republican as a New Deal Democrat with a teenage daughter. Since I still like my Democratic label, I'm not reacting in quite the same way. Life for this couple would be easier had they not gotten pregnant, but 1) he's still in the picture and accepting responsibility, 2) she has supportive parents and a supportive church community, and 3) she had already chosen to go the local university and live at home, so she can still get an education. The successful marriages on my wife's side of the family for the last two generations have all involved moving in together after getting engaged and before getting married, and (in some cases) a pregnancy hat started after engagement but before marriage. My wife and I have no problems with our oldest daughter living with her fiance while they plan their wedding, because its cheaper for them than maintaining two different residences. 

Part of mari4212 's and my son's immediate reactions might just be that our oldest daughter is almost ten years older than the girl who just got engaged, and they might see oldest daughter's actions as responsible ADULT decisions, while someone that is their contemporary (or younger) is making an irresponsible childish decision. They may be right, but I'm mildly amused that they're responding in a more conservative manner than I am.
Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
17 August 2007 @ 05:18 am
I usually don't post on the news, even though I follow the news on TV, newspapers and a variety of blogs. But sometimes, I just have to comment on the idiocy of newscasters. case in point, the coal mine disaster in Utah. They've just announced that a "seismic bounce" killed three of the rescuers and injured six more. The media is acting clueless, and the mine owners are somehow implying that a "seismic bounce" is a natural phenomenon, an "act of God". Nonsense!!

The newscasters seem to be either ignorant, or else determined to make this sound like a natural disaster. When the dust and rock settles, we'll probably find that the mine owners pushed the mining to the ragged edge of the safety margins (or beyond) when doing the mining, then went well beyond any safety limits during the retreat mining. They'll get fined, and maybe jailed. And nine men will be dead. Sadly, it's likely that the original six were killed when the mine first collapsed.
05 August 2007 @ 01:56 pm
Update for the past two weeks -

fandom at last update, we planned on hitting our bookstore for Deathly Hallows at midnight on the release date. We actually picked up two copies, one for the family, and one for my oldest daughter, Elizabeth. mari4212 started reading when we got home, and finished the book by dawn. I started reading Elizabeth's copy, and when my son, Thomas got home from camp at noon, he started reading the family copy. He read it until he finished the book at 4:00 AM on Sunday morning, coming out of the room only to eat, and to complain to my wife "THEY KILLED NAME DELETED</b>! NO!!!" about one of the more tragic deaths in the middle of the book. I kept reading all of Saturday until Elizabeth came by after work and took her copy, then I got our copy and started reading early on Sunday morning, and finished before I had to leave for camp.
No detailed review here - but it's a satisfying read.

Boy Scouts We took 20 boys to Summer camp from July 22nd to 28th. The kids had a great time - we were one of nine troops in camp that week, staying at seven campsites (three small troops were joined as one for the week). There were three camp-wide competitions held, and our boys won all three, with little to no guidance or help from us adults. Many merit badges were earned, and there were few behavior problems (with the exception of one kid). The adults were NOT as happy. There were problems with how some of the camp staff ran program areas, we found out that the camp staff was under a lot of stress and pressure, and we're not happy with the way that the senior camp leadership responded (or didn't) to our complaints.

When I got home, I had to help finalize an interfaith church service to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the World brotherhood of Scouting. The committee that helped plan and run the service all did a great job, and my troop stepped up to host a simple reception in our meeting hall afterwards. The council did a lousy job of publicizing the event - we sent e-mails and articles to them, and the Council newsletter got delayed, and nothing showed up on the council web page. We managed to get enough publicity out to attract over a hundred Scouts and Scouters, but we could have had a lot more people there.

workI mentioned in the last update that I don't talk about work here, but I'll make an exception. Our company downsized my immediate boss around New Years day this year, since they haven't done such a good job marketing the investigation and remediation side of the business. We still don't have a lot of work in that area, but I'm essential to what we do (having the broadest skill set of any of the people in my company). Late Friday, I got a call from my former boss, in part to let me know he landed on his feet, and in part acting as a headhunter. He has a lot more work than staff, and needs several entry-level people in the environmental business, but he also needs at least one senior-level person. He'd offer a lot more money, BUT:

1) The office is two hours away - too far to commute easily.
2) Will any possible salary increase make up for at least temporary losses in my wife's salary as a day care provider? And will it cover any increase in the cost of living elsewhere?
3) No problem with mari4212 or our son, Thomas, since both will be in college. We DO have to worry about social services for our middle daughter, Sara, who's profoundly retarded.
4) The housing market in Dayton is VERY soft, with one or two years needed to sell houses in our area, and the sales price we could get right now would just cover what's left on our mortgage and HELOC. We could rent to our oldest daughter and her fiance, for enough to cover our mortgage and an escrow account to take care of repairs, but we'd still need a downpayment.
5) What's the housing market like in Indianapolis?
6) Moving churches, Boy Scout affiliations and our whole social network.

It will make for interesting times in the next few months.
20 July 2007 @ 07:43 pm
It's been a long time since I made a serious update, and I'll be disappearing for all of next week, so here goes. In part the lack of activity is due to a busy final session at sorting_elite. Then there was Hogsmeade. In part the lack of posting has been competing with mari4212 for computer time in the evening. And finally, it's due to living a boring life.

So, what's new?

Work I never post details about my work, because I work as a consultant for other firms. Some of my work is covered by attorney-client privilege. Other work eventually makes it into the public domain when it finally gets submitted to a regulatory agency. Most of the time, my company and I are providing confidential advice to companies considering the purchase and acquisition of land. None of them would be really happy with having me share about what I do, no matter how circumspectly. Occasionally, there's some fascinating things that come up when we in the environmental world try to mix government regulations with health science and with the physical world, but even sharing that might compromise a strategy we will be using with one of our clients. So work stays off limits.

church We suspend adult Sunday School for the summer, so there;s really just the regular experience of attending services on Sunday - when I can (see family below). I am working on some posts about where my denomination is going on the issue of recognizing the ministries of gay Christians, or else splitting over the issue, but they're not in any final form yet.

family My kids are busy with their own lives, which takes a lot of time out of our schedules. Our oldest daughter is busy planning her wedding next year, but most of the fun trips are made with my wife and with mari4212, who gets to be a bridesmaid. She's been doing most of the squeeing about the wedding plans on her journal, while I watch our youngest daughter. There's been less posting of daily life now that mari4212 is at home for the summer. Middle daughter (the disabled one) just spent a week at camp, so Mari, my wife and I actually got to sit down for dinner for the week. She usually gets so distracted by other people that she doesn't eat until we leave, and she is far more interested in what is on other people's plates than what is on her own. This makes family dinners around a table difficult. Youngest son is working at a Scout camp this summer, and gets off at about 11 AM on each Saturday, and has to be back to camp by about 11 AM on Sunday. He doesn't have a car, so I get to make at least one trip out to camp and back each weekend. We've been able to make at least a few car pool arrangements, but it's been on a weekend to weekend basis. Any time I have to take him out on a Sunday, I miss church as well.

Boy Scouts Two new Eagle Scouts in the troop, or they will be as soon as they pass their Board of Reviews in the next few weeks. We're also getting ready to go to summer camp next week. I'm also helping plan an interdenominational service to celebrate the centennial of the Boy Scout Movement on August 1st.

fandom I did go to Order of the Phoenix, with mari4212, my son, one of Mari's friends and her dad. A good time was had by all. We're leaving in about half an hour for the book release party at our local bookstore. There's been some careful scheduling of the book rights. mari4212 will start reading as soon as we're home, and will probably have it read by noon tomorrow, when my son arrives home from camp and starts to read it. He will probably have to take it back to camp with him, but since this is the week I'll be there with the troop, I'll recover the book and get it read by the time I come back. We'll be living in tents, with no computer access and no Internet access either.

I firmly expect that the community will be almost silent for the next week or so, unless all of the Hogsmeade entries get dropped for voting. So except for a few comments back and forth this weekend, I'll see you all in a week.
11 June 2007 @ 12:49 pm
I love having my kids home from school. It'll become less common in the future, as our youngest will be going of to school this fall, at least 12 hours driving (one way) away from home. He's functionally away already, on a church-related mission trip to help reconstruct New Orleans. he'll be back next Sunday, long enough to throw his dirty clothes into the hamper, pack more clean clothes and have me take him out to Scout Camp. From then until about August 13, he'll be in the house on Saturday night only. There'll be about two weeks left before he goes off to school, and we won't see him back until Christmas.

Oldest daughter moved out of the house several years ago. That leaves our disabled daughter and mari4212 at home with my wife and I for the summer. The good news is, it means "chick food" - dinner meals with interesting ingredients and new flavors that my son won't eat. The bad news is - I have to share the computer. mari4212 has hers set up downstairs, but the cost of upgrading the Internet connection to allow for multiple users is just too much for her summer use. Between sorting at hogwarts_elite and mari4212's sorting (and checking her f-list for raves on her Supernatural fan-fiction, it's been hard to finish some of the pieces I want to post. I guess they'll wait.

mari4212 mentioned being stressed out serving as an acolyte at our Sunday service, because so many of our young people were out. She actually did a fine job. I was being three other people during the service. I was acting as the sound man, a job my son normally does. I also filled in reading the Prayers of the People for an older parishioner who played hooky. And I filled in for my oldest daughter, who was supposed to serve as a chalice bearer, but didn't show up at the service. So yes, I too suffered through the heat of wearing the robes.

We stopped by after church to see what happened to oldest daughter, and arrived just when her landlady was delivering a shovel to my daughter, who was in tears.

Her cat died.

Our entire family have been cat people, and as soon as my daughter moved from a near-campus apartment to a rental house, almost two years ago, she adopted an older, stray cat who had been visiting her landlady. She took care of some eye infection issues, had him fixed, and found herself owned by Stray Gray. He was very skittish of strangers at first, then started to warm up to family and friends. He got fatter on a regular diet. He had approval rights over my daughter's fiance, and when said fiance moved in, Stray Gray got along with the fiance's cat. He got sick very late last week, deteriorated rapidly and died late Saturday night. My daughter buried him in their garden.

And that brings us back to the family cats. We have three, all adopted strays or the offspring of strays. Ginger and Blackie are siblings, almost seventeen years old. Ginger is firmly patterned on my wife, but Blackie is mari4212's cat, and is glued to her whenever she is home. Schroedinger is a four year old adopted stray who worships the ground that my son walks on, but will snuggle up to anyone else who she can steal a cuddle from. We're just now realizing that as much as Blackie and Scroedie are patterned on our kids, that both of them will live out their lives as our cats, in our house.

So next fall, when mari4212 and my son go off to school, we won't just be almost empty-nesters (middle, disabled daughter will still be with us) - we'll become full-time cat parents.