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[links] Link salad is just waiting for the rain

Desolation again strikes Tolkien-themed street signs — Ah, Portland. (Via Dad.)

Alfred Shaheen: Pioneer of the Hawaiian Shirt — Oooh! (Via [info]threeoutside.)

How Linguists and Missionaries Share a Bible of 6,912 Languages

This is a map of the U.S., with the literal meanings of its state names and cities — This is cool. (Snurched from Lois Buhalis.)

A Baby Name That Really Tells You Something About the Parents — Yes, it tells you these parents have heartland family values, and also badly need oversight from Child Protective Services.

Neanderthals buried their dead like modern humansThe findings focus on Neanderthal remains that were first discovered in 1908 at La Chapelle-aux-Saints in southwestern France.

Hand Fossil Turns Back Clock on Complex Tool Use

Ancient Chinese cat bones shake up domestication theoryFossil discovery an ‘important step’ in understanding feline transformation from pest-control to pet.

Japan’s military revolution hints at Shinzo Abe’s nationalist aims — Hmm.

Sex and Drugs and Border ChangesA combination of sex and drugs (and possibly rock ‘n roll) is forcing two governments to change the border that divides them.

“Help, My Eyeball is Bigger than My Wrist!”: Gender Dimorphism in Frozen

North Korea’s way with extreme insultsThe uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, executed for treason on Thursday, has been officially denounced as “despicable human scum”. Why is the language so over-the-top? Oddly, not very different from how many American conservatives, especially in the media, talk about moderates and liberals.

“Thank You, Doctor. And Now, for the Opposing View, Here’s Joe Camel.”What really gets me is that USA Today gave Heartland a place to confuse the public about global warming. If they ran a piece about satellites, would they get an “opposing view” from a Flat Earther? It would have just as much scientific validity as climate change denial, and every bit as much Biblical basis as evolution denial.

Yeah, About That Global Warming “Pause”… — Debunking another knowing lie from climate change denialists.

“60 Minutes” does Infomercial for NSA with Security Official posing as Journalist — CBS has finally decided to go for the coveted “we have a Constitutional right to lie” FOX News market segment. Your Liberal Media, disgracing itself further all the time.

In Colorado and elsewhere, sheriffs refuse to enforce new gun laws. The state can’t make them — All those conservatives who claim to so revere the Constitution? Yeah, right. Like Christianists who revere the Bible when it’s convenient for them, that reverence vanishes when the Holy Writ doesn’t conveniently match their prejudices.

Satanist Monument Shines Light on Christian Privilege — Yup. This. The fact that some Christians have managed to convince themselves they are persecuted in contemporary America represents a breathtaking lack of self-awareness and intellectual honesty. Unless, of course, you believe that a slight descent from absolute cultural supremacy to mere overwhelming cultural dominance somehow qualifies as persecution, in which case that conviction represents an amazingly willful ignorance about words and their meanings. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Hindus Propose Giant Monkey God Statue On Oklahoma Capitol GroundsHow’s that law for religious displays working out for you, right-wing Christians of Oklahoma? Sure, you got to put up your giant 10 commandments monument in front of the State House. But this opened up the door for the Satanic Temple to ask for a memorial. Now, the Hindus are calling for their own religious statue to be placed on the state capitol grounds in Oklahoma City. I want to donate to the this, and the Satanist monument. (Snurched from Ellen Eades.)

?otD: Do all things come to the patient man? When they come too late, does anybody understand?


12/17/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours fitful
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Weight: 239.8
Number of FEMA troops on my block falsifying climate change data: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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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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[links] Link salad gets its kicks above the waistline, sunshine

Dude, Where’s My Accent?Why the California Vowel Shift may have us all by the tongue. Also this. Snerk. (Via David Goldman.)

Lovebible.pl — Charlie Stross is very funny.

Why Do We Call People Redheads Instead of Orangeheads?

Who Put the O in Portland? — More on the ‘round maps’. I was also struck by this comment: [T]here’s scientific evidence for the fact that GPS technology is making us less, rather than more spatially aware. When we rely, as is now so commonplace, on satellite-guided driving instructions tailored to our specific trip, we’re preventing our brain from doing what it should do naturally: making ‘mental maps’ of our surroundings. That’s been exactly my experience of using GPS.

How to Talk to a Live Person: Every Customer Support Number You’ll Ever Need — A holiday calling guide. (Thanks to my Dad.)

Soylent hits its 1.0 formula, nears releaseWe talk with Soylent’s creator on what’s changed since we slurped down the beta. Soylent peen is greople!

You Can’t Get Entangled Without a Wormhole: Physicist Finds Entanglement Instantly Gives Rise to a Wormhole — (Via Bruce Taylor.)

Die, selfish gene, dieThe selfish gene is one of the most successful science metaphors ever invented. Unfortunately, it’s wrong. This is freaking fascinating. (Thanks to AH via [info]tillyjane.)

Animal Locomotion: Reanimating Muybridge’s 19th Century Illustrations with GIFs — Zoopraxography indeed. (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

Tolkien gesture – scientist maps climate of Lord of the RingsMount Doom is like LA and the Shire like Lincolnshire, so says a climate model based on author’s famously detailed maps. (Via [info]danjite.)

The Most Important Command in the Old Testament isn’t what you think — A little linguistic analysis for you. And guess what? It’s not about teh gayz or sex or the abomination of widely available, affordable healthcare. Not at all. (Via [info]daveraines.)

Australia’s first gay marriages conducted — Another bigotry domino falls, at least temporarily. Sadly, the forces of religiously-cloaked conservative intolerance are still very strong.

Iceland in shock as cops kills a man for 1st time in history — Clearly they need more guns to be safe. No, wait, they have more guns.

South Carolina Sheriff Refuses To Lower Flag For Mandela — Stay classy, conservative America. It’s what you do best.

Special Report: Thailand secretly supplies Myanmar refugees to trafficking rings — As Daniel says, this is stunningly evil. Sigh. (Via [info]danjite.)

Apartheid’s Useful Idiots For many years, a large swath of this country failed Nelson Mandela, failed its own alleged morality, and failed the majority of people living in South Africa. Ah, we are again reminded of the much vaunted moral consistency of American conservatives.

A reminder of what Republicans thought of MandelaIt’s a constant theme of conservatism to falsely take credit for the progressive causes of yesteryear while attempting to destroy contemporary ones. You have to give the GOP a break here. When their own record is a nearly unbroken string of failures and policy disasters, they can claim no credit at all except false credit.

Santorum: Fight Against Obamacare Like Fight Against Apartheid — You don’t have to be bone-stupid to be a conservative, but demonstrably it sure as hell helps. Really, what can any rational, moral human being say to something like this?

“History? We don’t know. We’ll all be dead.”The conservative project in general really, truly doesn’t give a damn about human suffering. They live in an abstract universe in which their dedication to their rigid ideology simply trumps all moral concerns about real human beings in the here and now. They just don’t give a damn.

?otD: Where was that one night?


12/7/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.5 hours (very fitful)
Body movement: n/a (traveling)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[personal] The weekend and me

Lisa Costello and I both continue a bit under the weather. She thinks we have the same bug, I am not so certain, though she’s probably right. I feel more or less okay in the morning, after a very slow start and a night of oversleeping. By afternoon I am fatigued, logey, mildly headachey, and feel as if I have a fever, though I am not hot. Lisa has much the same symptoms, except with rather stronger headaches.

If she wasn’t going through it with me, I would assume these symptoms signal the beginning of my terminal decline, as they’re pretty close to what I’ve been told to expect. Lisa’s had this for about ten days, I’ve had it for about three. So either a slow moving bug, or the hastening of my demise. Cheerful, eh?

We did have a very nice family-and-friends dinner yesterday afternoon. Lisa sat it out at home, due to how ill she was feeling, and I wound up leaving early for similar reasons. Team E— made smoked pork butt, Jersey Girl in Portland made two potato salads, mom made Moroccan sweet potato salad, while [info]tillyjane and AH combined forces for a green salad and some challah bread. Plus various desserts.

Also, [info]the_child came home last night from her East Coast adventures, but Lisa and I had zonked out by then, so I still haven’t hugged her hello and heard whatever stories she has to tell.

Laying low today, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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[links] Link salad is not too particular, not too precise

America’s 15 best pizzas — Apizza Scholes here in Portland makes the list.

Could Sexual Frustration Lead To A Shorter Life?

Atheists sink to new depths of depravity! — It’s amazing how immoral the irreligious are without the external threat of eternal punishment to keep us in line. After all, no human being could possibly be a moral actor without an invisible friend threatening their very lives and souls. (Via Scrivener’s Error.)

The real cultists are not Maoists, they’re CEOsIt is not only in religious or political circumstances where people are made to follow a leader unthinkingly. Ah, yes. The sociopath in the corner office. (Via Scrivener’s Error.)

The chalice that helped make possible the Iran nuclear dealIn gesture of goodwill that helped lead to talks, the U.S. presented a gift to Iran: a silver chalice in the shape of a griffin that is thought to be an antiquity looted from an Iranian cave. (Via David Goldman.)

Off Siberia’s Arctic coast, the seafloor belches methaneAnd it’s belching more than we had thought it was. Another climate change artifact.

Rooting for FailureFor the entirety of the Obama era, Republicans have consistently been cheerleaders for failure. They rooted for the economic recovery to sputter, for gas prices to spike, the job market to crater, the rescue of the American automobile industry to fall apart. I get it. This organized schadenfreude goes back to the dawn of Obama’s presidency, when Rush Limbaugh, later joined by Senator Mitch McConnell, said their No. 1 goal was for the president to fail. A CNN poll in 2010 found 61 percent of Republicans hoping Obama would fail (versus only 27 percent among all Americans). Now that’s patriotism, conservative values distilled in the best interests of the country consistent with the GOP’s unswerving commitment to the American people. Are you proud of your Republican party?

?otD: Are you just a cheeseburger in paradise?


12/1/2013
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (badly fitful)
Body movement: n/a (sick)
Weight: 242.4
Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[photos] Tri-Met discovers Stargate during Milwaukie light rail expansion

I have no idea what the heck this is, but it’s in the middle of the Tri-Met light rail expansion construction at the north end of Milwaukie, OR. Note the scale with the front end loader — that sucker must be something like 30 feet in diameter. The theory that Lisa Costello and I have evolved is that it’s a Stargate. Or possibly it’s some form of public art, but the project site is early days for an art installation.

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It’s here, though the Google Maps aerial view isn’t current to the construction process.

As usual, more at the Flickr set

Photos © 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr.

Creative Commons License

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

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[personal|culture] Me and customer service just lately

Like most white men of a certain height, class and educational standing, I wander through life in a cloud of largely invisible-to-me privilege. This privilege often expresses itself as good customer service. Sometimes it’s earned (for some value of “earned”) such as my frequent flyer status, sometimes it’s situational. I do make a serious effort to notice this sort of thing, so that, for example, if I walk up to a busy deli counter and am called next, I defer to the people who were waiting before me.

Lately the customer service levels which affect my life have been noticeably compromised in various ways. Yesterday I was talking to Lisa Costello about this. As I said to her, am I more needy due to my recent disabilities? Am I more demanding due to being shorter-tempered and fussier? Or am I really just bumping into increasingly weird problems at a higher rate than usual?

Her response was to comment that I’d become a strange attractor for customer service problems. Which doesn’t really answer my question, but was kind of funny. It was helpful to me in confirming that I’m not just experiencing observer bias or enjoying a version of the recency illusion.

I actually think it’s a combination of all three of my theories. My recent travel difficulties with wheelchair service wouldn’t have occurred in the first place if I didn’t need wheelchair service, for example — my recent issues with American Airlines. I am crankier than I used to be, what with the whole dying of cancer thing going on — yesterday’s noisy restaurant problem. And some of the problems I’ve encountered have been categorically weird, outside the usual run of issues — the whole CarMax power-of-attorney thing.

Being white, male and well-spoken didn’t really help me with any of these issues, though it certainly helped me resolve them post facto. Being disabled, well…

One more set of things to burn spoons on and have to deal with.

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[cancer] Field notes from Cancerland, Maryland edition redux

Regorafenib

My oncologist has advised me to discontinue my Regorafenib, at least for now. She’s hoping to get me into a Phase 1 trial at my treating hospital in the near future. Plus my science advisory board is seeking other options. In any possible case, I need to be at least four weeks clear of my last cancer medication, what’s called a “washout” period. I may restart it soon if the trials process looks to be taking longer than hoped. So maybe I’ll see some temporary improvement in my side effects at least. Another step closer to end, though, given that this drug is what’s been keeping me alive.

Phase 1 Trails

As mentioned above, there is a Phase 1 trial for which I may qualify going on at my treating hospital. There’s an order in for a genetic test on my tumor tissue to see if I have either of the mutations indicated for eligibility. Thankfully we have tissue stored in the pathology department’s freezers, so this does not require a biopsy. Depending on what my science advisory board comes up with, there may be other tests in my near future.

Happy Side Effects Time

This is my off week with Regorafenib anyway, so I’ve been looping back through the usual array of GI twists and turns. Plus we’re trying to taper me off my sleep drugs as I taper off the Regorafenib. I’ve been a little more focused this week than usual, which is nice.

Burning Spoons

Unfortunately, I’ve needed that additional focus. We had a disastrous day with CarMax yesterday, trying to sell Lisa Costello‘s father’s car. We have a meeting this morning with a CarMax manager which may resolve the problem, but meantime we burned about five hours of both her and my time and attention yesterday on what should have been a reasonably simple process. And we have to burn more time and attention today. (Once I have final resolution, however it turns out, I’ll explain what happened.)

Heading Home

We’re flying back to Portland Sunday. Given my health, I suspect this will be the last non-medical long distance trip I make in my life, though I may try to squeeze in one more trip to Omaha to visit friends there. It will be good to be home, but every step I take just lately is more freighted than ever.

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[personal|travel] Wrapping up (for now) here in Maryland

We’re flying home tomorrow, as I have my CT scan on Friday. That means Lisa Costello and I are wrapping our current round of business with her parents today, so we can move to an airport hotel tonight in order to facilitate our early flight in the morning. We’ll be back next week to finalize, or at least complete next steps, on getting the sale of the house moving as well as some smaller issues of property disposition.

Her dad is doing quite well, given the severity of his stroke. Everything has been going far smoother than we’d feared. A trip which might have been very, very difficult has mere been difficult.

Also, as today is my brother’s birthday, and he lives in the DC suburbs of Virginia, we’ll be having dinner with him tonight.

Me, taking my GI pills to get through today and tomorrow.

See some, all or none of you at Orycon this weekend.

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