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[travel|cancer] Flying home now

Dad, Lisa Costello and I are off to the airport momentarily. Flying home to Portland. We’ll be there about a week before we come back to Maryland for the next steps at NIH.

In the mean time, due to the need for strict health hygiene in the run up to lung surgery, I am going to have to pick up some surgical masks on the way to the airport, and wear one on the plane. I purely hate that. This is also affecting some of my social plans for next week, as I need to be careful about environments and behaviors that would increase my risk of viral or bacterial transmission.

(No hot tub for me, in other words.)

Ah, science. Ah, cancer. At least I’m going home.

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[photos|travel] Self-directed patient man goes to Washington, DC

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[photos|travel] The weirdest rental car ever

We have this rental car, from one of the big companies. It has Arizona plates, with almost 50,000 miles on it. The vehicle is in excellent condition. And it’s pretty highly tricked out, for a rental car. Most of those are mid-range trim lines.

But there’s several weird things going on.

The car has Sirius/XM satellite radio, with the little sharkfin antenna on the roof. It has OnStar, with the big flat plate behind the rear view mirror serving as that antenna. But it has two other antennae, clearly aftermarket installations, that serve no obvious purpose at all. There’s no third party navigation system, for example (think Hertz NeverLost). And it’s got a couple of odd third party additions to the dashboard and console.

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This appears to be a badge holder, as the clip extends about three feet and retracts. Though why you would keep a badge permanently inside a vehicle I don’t know, as that seems like terrible security to me. I’ve never in my life seen one of these permanently attached to a car console.

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This thing is on the dash just below and to the right of the steering wheel. We cannot make it come on or do anything. It might be a control for an aftermarket in-car cellular integration, except the car has a factory-installed Bluetooth integration through the sound system that works just fine, so that makes no sense.

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This is one of the two aftermarket antennae that serve no obvious purpose. It’s round, and a couple of inches in diameter.

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This is the other aftermarket antenna that serves no obvious purpose. It’s a little bigger than an inch square. When you first start the car, this one has a blinking LED that goes green after a minute or so, seeming to indicate that it is successfully acquiring signal.

It’s almost as if the vehicle used to be a law enforcement or security vehicle that wasn’t fully decommissioned, except you’d never find one of those in a rental car fleet from a major rental agency. They buy all their cars brand new in bulk contracts from the major manufacturers.

I’ve rented hundreds of cars over the years, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this stuff. Anybody know what all this is for?

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[food|travel] Open dinner in Rockville, Maryland Sunday 2014-01-05

As mentioned yesterday, I am holding an open dinner tomorrow, Sunday January 5th, at 5 pm at Gordon Biersch in Rockville, MD.

200 East Middle Lane, Unit A
Rockville, MD 20850
301-340-7159

As always, these are Dutch treat, and anyone who can read this is invited. We don’t need to be old friends or even online acquaintances, though I do love to see my friends. The whole point is to meet people, after all.

I’m aware the weather tomorrow may be poor, but it’s the only time slot I have this trip than I can commit to without the reasonable possibility of cancellation. Unless the weather is truly dreadful, I will be there. Please RSVP if you can, it helps with talking to the restaurant.

See some, all or none of you there!

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[travel|cancer] In Maryland again

Travel yesterday was irksome but not dire. Both flights were delayed for a combination of weird, trivial and unannounced reasons. Because travel.

Dinner last night with my brother and his new spouse. Today we are laying low.

Monday, we begin two days of appointments at NIH in Bethesda. I find myself a little freaked out at the thought of some of the procedures, which is not particularly rational or typical of me.

Ah, stress.

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[cancer|travel] Heading to Maryland, again

Dad, Lisa Costello and I are leaving this morning for 12/30 and 12/31 medical consultations at NIH. We are flying so early so as to avoid being trapped by possible weather delays over the weekend, and thus missing the appointments.

I will be seeing doctors about intake into two different trials. It’s our hope to have enough information to make a decision over the New Year’s holiday and sign up for one study or the other on 1/2/2014. At that point, we will then be able to evaluate our schedule for how long we will be remaining in Maryland.

I will update when I know more. If I do have significant time on the ground and am feeling good, I’ll make myself available for social opportunities in the Baltimore and DC areas.

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[travel|cancer] My misadventures getting home yesterday to see the doctor today

There’s no real way to make a coherent blog post out of this, so you’ll have to settle for a bit of narrative.

Getting home from Omaha yesterday was an epic effort, but I made it. My luggage did not. My irreplaceable Mongolian camel fur hat apparently did not, though there’s some hope I absent mindedly packed it into my luggage (which I never do on purpose).

I had five different flight itineraries yesterday. That is to say, at different points in the process, I was booked on five different flights out of Omaha before I finally managed to leave. American cancelled my original route through DFW on Sunday, the day before I was to fly, due to extreme weather in DFW more or less crashing their operations. I was rescheduled to a Monday flight through ORD.

When I got to the airport in Omaha early, they rescheduled me again at the check-in desk to an earlier flight through ORD, to help me make my connection to PDX. That flight began posting later and later, until was both later than the flight that came after it which I had been previously scheduled on, and late enough to make me miss my connection at ORD. It was also clear the later flight was going to be postponed.

I went to the American Airlines counter agent and said, “Look, I’m a terminal cancer patient. I have two oncology appointments tomorrow. I have to get home tonight. Can you reschedule me through Denver on another airline, since both Dallas and Chicago are such a mess?”

They’re not really supposed to do that when they still have available seats in their own system, but he poked around and was very helpful, placing me on a set of Frontier Airlines flights that went OMA-DEN, then DEN-PDX. Since I’d already checked in, he called down to the American baggage room and had my bag transferred to Frontier.

The earlier Frontier flight was full, so I wasn’t leaving til that evening. Then Lisa Costello texted me that the evening flight had posted a two-hour delay, which would again make me miss my PDX connection, stranding me in DEN. I went up to the Frontier gate agent and told him the same thing I’d told the American agent. He put me on stand-by, then got me on the plane in their ‘stretch seating’, which is what Frontier has instead of First Class. I’m pretty sure they’re not really supposed to do that, either, especially since I wasn’t even a Frontier customer in the first place.

I finally got on a plane leaving Omaha, my fifth scheduled flight out. I have no idea what happened to my bag at that point. My connection in Denver going to Portland was almost two hours late, but I got out of Denver and home last night. Frontier has no idea where my bag is, because I do not have a Frontier Airlines bag check tag, due to the interairline transfer back in Omaha, and they can’t trace it through the American Airlines bag check tag. We’re hoping it came in overnight from Omaha via Denver, but given the other delays, it may still be languishing in Omaha or in Denver. As me getting home was the critical issue, I am not grumpy about this. I would like to see my bag again sooner or later.

At any rate, on a day when well over a 1,000 flights were cancelled, thanks to the flexibility of two gate agents, one for American Airlines and one for Frontier Airlines, I got home. My first oncology appointment is at 8 am this morning, my second is this afternoon. I will make them.

So my thanks to both airlines.

Now I’m off this morning for some bloodwork preparatory to tomorrow’s monthly consultation with my medical oncologist. This afternoon I have a screening and intake appointment for one of the clinical trials I am trying to engage with. Overnight has brought the Portland area radically unseasonal snow and ice, which will make getting around today a lot more exciting than it should be.

But I’m here, and I can make it in to my appointments. Thank you American, and thank you Frontier.

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[personal|travel] Leaving Omaha for the last time

More weird, restless sleep, with weird, restless dreams. Something about the weather, or the heater in my hotel room, or my unsettled spirit, has kept me awake nights. This time it was vehicular arson as part of some large coverup, except I was very bad at cleaning up evidence of my misdeeds. The car in question in my dream was my first car, an orange 1976 Datsun 710 station wagon I drove in college. Not hard to interpret what that means, really. All in keeping with the melancholy of my visit here.

A friend who has been out of town all this past week is meeting me for breakfast, then taking me to the airport. American Airlines yesterday cancelled my flight this morning. Getting rebooked involved spending over an hour on hold with the Aadvantage Platinum desk (apparently hold times for the main desk were running closer to twenty-four hours). I am dubious of my new connection through Chicago O’Hare, mostly because of ORD’s chronic problems with delivering timely wheelchair transfers. Basically, in my experience they are incapable of doing so at that airport.

None of that matters so long as I get home tonight. Today is Lisa Costello‘s birthday, the last one I will likely ever be alive for, and I’d like to see here thereupon, and I have two oncology appointments tomorrow. So, yeah, this terminal cancer patient really needs to get home today.

Even so, my weather karma has brought not only deeply subfreezing temperatures and inches of snow to Omaha, it appears to be doing the same to Portland today. Unseasonable here in Nebraska, almost unheard of their in our part of Oregon.

And I’ll have the long trip home to think about how I feel about having been here one last time.

Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

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[photos|travel] My trip to Omaha (at least so far)

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I flew there, of course

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Hanging with the pooches

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A friendly meighborhood duck

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Yesterday we set out in the car of [info]garyomaha

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As always in life, we drove down uncertain roads

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Until we came to my joint in Shenandoah, Iowa

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A slightly more sobering neighbor

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Me and my namesake (or vice versa)

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The store was full of cool old things, like those sliding ladders, and the manager was very kind about us wandering around gawping and photographing

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[info]elusivem and [info]garyomaha enjoyed old fashioned fountain treats (I had an iced tea)

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Themselves

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We then looked at interesting old buildings in Shenandoah, which reminded me of my grandparents’ town in north Texas when I was a small boy in the late 1960s

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Including a dry-docked caboose

As usual, more at the Flickr set.

Photos © 2012, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones.

Creative Commons License

This work by Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

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[travel] Off to Omaha today

I’m off to Omaha today, after some morning lawyering here in town connected to my will and estate plan. Just a few days’ visit to see some old friends for the last time. Back Monday evening.

Note, per my previous post I am not flying United Airlines.

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