[links] Link salad is big and round and three to the pound
Dementia: Terry Pratchett ‘angry’ with government
Meet Your Body’s Death Eaters — From brain to blood to bone, macrophages take out our cellular trash. (Via Daily Idioms, Annotated.)
Calvin and Hobbes on ebooks — Hahahah.
Twitter’s World — Languages and Twitter.
Prosthetic Arm Found in Second-Hand Shop — Ah, headlines.
Irrefutable Proof that Santa is Odin — (Via rekre8.)
‘Get me off this plane’: Man locked in dark cabin in worst layover ever — Wow. (Via RWN.)
Fat Flag — Food, art, nationalism. (Via willyumtx.)
Europe’s rarest orchid rediscovered in the Azores
Blistering exposé prompts Johns Hopkins to suspend black-lung screenings — Coal companies paid the Baltimore-based university handsome sums to screen the claimants for the disease. After reviewing chest X-rays, the university’s scientists almost always concluded that the scans did not show black lung — a conclusion which often overwhelmed any other medical opinion in the case. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)
What Names are Normal? Shifting the Center of the World — Culture and names.
Online Dating Shows Us the Cold, Hard Facts — Fascinating article, although it makes a couple of logical leaps.
“She Said ‘This Is a Gun.’ I Said No, It’s a Prop for My Monkey.” — Ah, TSA, we hardly knew ye.
At Least 194 Children Have Been Shot to Death Since Newtown — The NRA says arming more adults will protect kids—but most are killed at home, our investigation shows, often with unsecured guns. Yep. Definitely safer dead by those guns than they would have been remaining alive in a gun-free household. Ask any gun owner.
The Heartland Institute and the American Meteorological Society — If climate science really is in such disarray as the deniers claims, then why do so many resort to misleading tactics so often? Why post misleading graphs, why cherry pick data, why engage in egregious ad hominems, why send out emails about papers that say the opposite of what the paper actually concludes? If their claims are correct, then why even risk the perception of impropriety? It might seem as if they’re more interested in scoring political and ideological points rather than scientific ones. But then, the evidence is solidly against them. So are 97 percent of the scientists who actually do research in climate science, as are the data, the science, and the reality of global warming. As with virtually all conservative causes, bearing false witness is far more productive than providing evidence, given that evidence-based reality almost never favors the conservative viewpoint.
Dear Pres. Obama: Dissent isn’t Possible in a Surveillance State — Sigh.
?otD: Does your staff have a knob on the end?
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Number of FEMA troops on my block forging presidential birth certificates: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)
Posted: 6:46 am Wed December 11 2013 | Comments(0) |
[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.
Posted: 7:39 am Tue December 10 2013 | Comments(0) |
[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.
Posted: 5:01 am Mon December 09 2013 | Comments(0) |
[photos|travel] My trip to Omaha (at least so far)
I flew there, of course
Hanging with the pooches
A friendly meighborhood duck
Yesterday we set out in the car of garyomaha
As always in life, we drove down uncertain roads
Until we came to my joint in Shenandoah, Iowa
A slightly more sobering neighbor
Me and my namesake (or vice versa)
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
elusivem and garyomaha enjoyed old fashioned fountain treats (I had an iced tea)
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
Including a dry-docked caboose
As usual, more at the Flickr set.
Photos © 2012, 2013, Joseph E. Lake, Jr. and M. Jones.
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.
Posted: 6:56 am Sun December 08 2013 | Comments(0) |
[cancer] Being in the world
Being here in Omaha, being in the world at all, keeps stirring my thoughts of mortality. My dreams these days are almost always about incompleteness, failure and error. Comically so sometimes, some nights a tragedy in six REM cycles. I feel like I am digging my own grave, slowly.
I am so very glad to be here, and so very sad to be here. Which in truth is how I feel about almost everything these days. Fortunately for me, it’s my nature to enjoy myself most of the time. Even when the grim dusk of my own death casts shadows across all my words and deeds.
We all die. Most of us spend most of our lives assiduously ignoring that most basic fact of human existence. I keep trying to convince myself that my own enforced awareness of my ending is a gift.
On occasion I succeed.
Posted: 7:27 am Sat December 07 2013 | Comments(1) |
[personal] In Omaha, various reflections, an open dinner of sorts
I’m in Omaha, where it is currently 10 degrees outside. Because reasons.
Due to travel (which went fairly well, minus a few bobbles) I did not get to sleep until a little after midnight last night. Even allowing for the two-hour time difference between Pacific and Central, this is staggeringly late for me. It is probably no coincidence that I slept solidly for nine and a half hours.
The downside of that is due to a lunch date with a friend, my morning has been very rushed and out of sorts, where I’d expected to move slow and fly low today. Hence also the late blogging.
The Omaha Beach Party meets tonight at 6 pm at Zio’s on Dodge. If you’re within striking distance of Omaha and would like to see me, feel free to drop by. It will be a bunch of writers and friends eating pizza and yakking for a couple of hours.
Meanwhile, being here is bringing a bunch of my mortality thoughts hurtling back to the surface. I’ve spent the years from 1999 to 2013 working jobs either based in Omaha or with a strong connection to Omaha. I’ve visited this city at least a hundred times, literally so — that’s not hyperbole, that’s 8-14 trips a year across most of those 14 years. Omaha represents one of this big parts of my life that has already sloughed away in the face of cancer’s mortal decline.
Still, weather and ruminations notwithstanding, I am happy to be here. I will see my old work friends, and spend the weekend with some of my dearest friends in the world. That is a goodness.
Back to Portland on Monday, and a medical appointment on Tuesday regarding one of my possible avenues for a clinical trial. No rest for the weary. (Well, except that long night’s sleep.)
See some, all or none of you tonight.
Posted: 10:22 am Thu December 05 2013 | Comments(0) |
[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.
Posted: 7:36 am Wed December 04 2013 | Comments(0) |
[conventions|travel] The high cost of cancellation
As I mentioned yesterday, I am having issues with United Airlines. This first cropped up a while back, as discussed here: [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ]
This all goes back to my troubles trying to get to this year’s World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. (I have discussed some of this previously here on the blog.) Last summer, I tried to book plane tickets for me and Lisa Costello to fly there. The $700 per person UK arrival fees for a free mileage award ticket were impossible for us to meet. At the time, I checked out simply paying for a fare, and even the cheapest was far higher, because those $700 fees were embedded in any trans-Atlantic airfare to London.
Unnamed Benefactors stepped forward and offered to fund our airfare if we would pay our own on-the-ground expenses. I very gratefully said yes, and proceeded to arrange a low-cost European vacation for myself by couch surfing in London and Paris, spending money only on the Eurostar train to get between the cities. Except for the convention hotel itself, my only expenses otherwise were going to be food and incidentals, as my Unnamed Benefactors provided tickets for the two of us on United Airlines. Lisa was planning to fly out the day before the convention and join me.
Three days before my scheduled departure, Lisa’s father suffered a massive stroke. Other relatives stepped forward to respond with immediate help, but Lisa needed to fly to Maryland at the end of that week to help with the necessary but difficult lifestyle transitions now underway.
That meant (and still means) that Lisa was now juggling my life-ending terminal illness and the life-changing illness of one of her parents. I could not leave her alone with this. So with great reluctance, we cancelled our trip to Europe. We also severely truncated a post-trip engagement with my agent, and cancelled the visit of another friend who was due after Orycon, both of these to great regret.
The financial aspects of this situation have turned into a severe mess.
In order to cover the expenses incurred by my Unnamed Benefactors, I also sought a compassionate medical emergency refund from @UnitedAirlines, which states on their Web site that they provide such consideration. Unfortunately, since our tickets were purchased as nonrefundable airfares, United Airlines also does not offer any refund. Their response to me did not even acknowledge the nature of my request, simply stating that my tickets were nonrefundable, but that I did retain an airfare credit. Which isn’t even my money, as the Unnamed Benefactors paid for it. And it’s not like I’m going back to Europe anytime in the rest of my drastically foreshortened life.
At the same time, my Unnamed Benefactors wrote me asking me to pay them £1,295.90 (approx. USD 2,073), as we would not be attending WFC.
This absolutely floored me. If I had $2,073 to spend on airfare, I would have bought the damned tickets myself in the first place. What I thought had been an act of kindness and charity towards me turned into me being expected to pay $2,000 for the privilege of not attending WFC so I could help Lisa care for her stricken father.
The books do in fact balance somewhat. Were I to directly pay back my Unnamed Benefactors, I would get to keep the airfare credit, less change fees and penalties. But I don’t have $2,000 sitting in a travel budget to give them. If I did, I would have bought my own tickets in the first place. If United were going to refund the tickets, the whole business would just be a wash.
But after multiple rounds of discussion, United has flatly refused to refund the airfare. Apparently a sudden life-threatening illness on the part of my partner’s father does not constitute a medical emergency in their eyes. Which makes me wonder what the hell does? I’m pretty damned irritated about this, most especially about the amount of time I have already spent focusing on this issue. My life is running out of time — between the shocking and insensitive demand from my Unnamed Benefactors and United Airlines’ refusal to honor their own compassionate exemption policy, I have been expending significant amounts of that finite time and energy on things I should never have had to deal with.
All to no avail thus far.
I’m honestly not sure what to do here. Had I known the original offer of tickets to WFC required a complete payback in the event of cancellation, I almost certainly would not have accepted it. My own health is too precarious, quite frankly, which is why all plane tickets I buy and pay for these days are purchased with trip insurance. While I have enough money sitting in my bank account to pay back my Unnamed Benefactors, that’s not what it is for. And I cannot spend a United Airlines airfare credit to pay my bills or help Lisa help her parents. The budget isn’t there, especially to pay for a trip I am not even able to take.
I’m feeling very pushed around right now, and looking at a lot of expense well beyond anything planned or budgeted at a time when our expenses have skyrocketed due to both my own illness the problems in Lisa’s family. I’m also much more wary of accepting offers of assistance in the future, as I never foresaw hidden strings like this and do not know how to foresee them going forward.
There’s a strong temptation to tell my Unnamed Benefactors to take a hike, but that’s hardly ethical as I’m apparently inheriting the airfare credit regardless, given the intransigence of United Airlines. I’m tempted to hold a small fundraiser to pay this off, but that also hardly seems fair to people who might want to support me. If United Airlines honored their own compassionate refund policy, the problem would essentially not exist, but that road has now been closed.
This situation frustrates me immensely. At this extremely difficult time in my life, I am left with yet another large, unbudgeted expense for which I have nothing to show but trouble and a waste of my precious, waning days.
Posted: 7:34 am Wed December 04 2013 | Comments(7) |
[personal] Moving right along
Still feeling pretty loopy from this low grade bug. Very much in a state of anticipation this week, and not in the fun way. I’m currently scheduled to fly to Omaha Wednesday for one last round of visiting with my many friends and colleagues there. I’m pretty sure this trip will happen, at least at the front end. Waiting to hear back from various clinical trial sources about my next moves there (NIH and elsewhere). Any of those phone calls and emails could trigger an intake visit at their convenience. Plus I have to sign my updated will and estate planning documents this Wednesday, right before I head for the airport.
Various friends want to come visit. I’ve been reluctantly putting everyone off for the sake of sorting out some of this healthcare stuff. It’s leaving me slightly testy, but I don’t see much point in firming plans which are more likely to fall over than not. At the same, in putting people off I’m putting off things I want to do while I’m in relative good health.
So, yeah. Grumble grumble. I’m alive today, I should be grateful. But sometimes I feel like I inhabit the bottom of a deep well of logistics, and it’s all shifting shadows and angles of the light down here.
Posted: 7:59 am Mon December 02 2013 | Comments(2) |
[links] Link salad had a snake the size of a sewer pipe livin’ in its rib cage
FDA orders personal genetics company 23andMe to stop selling tests — Claims company ignored repeated efforts to get safety data and approval. Hmmm.
Mushrooms ‘Make Wind’ to Spread Spores — Fungus farts? Really?
How cool is the airplane of the future? — I miss the stratoliner.
Redefining the habitable zone: where should we look for life? — Desert planets, hydrogen-heavy giants, and hydrocarbon-rich worlds considered.
The Star as Starship — Moving entire stars rather than building spaceships would have certain benefits as a way of traveling through the galaxy. After all, it would mean taking your local environment with you on a millennial journey. Some have suggested it might therefore be an observable sign of highly advanced civilizations at work. But how would you move a star in the first place?
Costco apologizes for labeling Bibles ‘fiction’ — Sometimes the jokes just write themselves. (Via threeoutside.)
Pope Francis calls for power to move away from Vatican — Pope Francis has called for power in the Catholic Church to be devolved away from the Vatican, in the first major work he has written in the role. Huh. Not that church internal politics is any of my atheist business, but this is interesting. I wonder how this dovetails into the conservative political radicalism of the US Catholic bishops, who have become nothing but Republican shills these past decade.
‘Earliest shrine’ uncovered at Buddha’s birthplace
Scottish government outlines case for independence — I have no basis for an informed opinion on this topic, but it is a fascinating piece of politics.
?otD: Who are you?
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Number of FEMA troops on my block closing down donut shops: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)
Posted: 7:29 am Tue November 26 2013 | Comments(0) |
« Older Posts |