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[travel] In Oz

In Oz, at the Hilton South Wharf next to the convention center here in Melbourne. No time for the usual bloggery this morning. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves. I’ll report in when I can.

[travel] One more day in New Zealand, off to Australia this afternoon

Yesterday the four of us went to an oriental rug store in Petone, then to the outlet stores in Otaki. Shopping ensued, though none of the magnificent carpets caught calendula_witch’s eye. This also involved driving about through even more beautiful countryside and townscape. Plus some pretty decent lunch. Then home for a long nap (me) followed by a fascinating party in a rooftop apartment in downtown Wellington.

Some last minute-shopping in train for today, then we’re packing and off to Melbourne.

[travel] Sheep, Seals, and Bulldozers, oh my

As calendula_witch hath promised, here is a post about sheep, seals and bulldozers. Oh, my.

Yesterday the four of us headed out in danjite and khaybee’s state limo (a surplus stretch Volvo S90 retired from diplomatic service) and drove from Wellington to Cape Palliser. The trip went via the very winding, tiny Highway 2 through the Rimutakas, then into the charming town of Featherston, then to Greytown, where rugs and chocolate were purchased. From Greytown we drove to Martinborough for lunch, then on out Cape Palliser Road to Ngawi and then to the cape itself. The route, for them what is interested.

We saw a lot of beautiful countryside. Early flowers are in bloom, including daffodils, kowhai trees, and down by the coast, enormous lupens. The weather was increasingly gloomy as we progressed, but we always had good visibility. The road was increasingly grim as we progressed, but the state limo kept up to the bitter end. And it was beautiful. The Wairarapa Valley reminded me rather a lot of the Willamette Valley back in Oregon, but they’re at roughly the corresponding latitude, with similar rainfall and weather patterns, so this is unsurprising. The coast looked a bit like the Mendocino coast in California, except with more dramatic irruptions of volcanic rocks.

There were sheep. Lots of sheep. (I think I took about a hundred pictures of sheep.)

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The lambs had just come in. Some were still orange with their afterbirth. Others staggered around in a state of surprise and wonderment. Others were dead, still born or weather-struck, providing a feast for the hawks.

Later, as we got to Ngawi, we saw a rare coastal bulldozer colony. (I took about hundred pictures there, too.)

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Ngawi is a fishing village without a harbor, just a beach. When the boats come it, they’re set on handbuilt trailers and hauled up the beach by bulldozers. This is lieu of a launch ramp, or a jetty and moorage. Several dozen bulldozers line the road, each hooked to a largish fishing boat. Some of them are seriously antique, others quite modern. It’s a very curious sight, and an interesting solution to the obvious problem of protecting the boats from the chronically rough seas there.

Finally, on the last stretch of the road — one lane of gravel and mud — we saw the permanent colony of fur seals that live around Cape Palliser. (I took about a hundred pictures of seals as well.)

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These are big seals, rather larger than the harbor seals I’m familiar with. It was a rainy day so a lot of them were up on the grass by the road, above the rocky beach. They were also quite indifferent to our presence. When I got out of the car and walked around with the camera several times, I was sharing their immediate space. Mostly I got a yawn and a blink. Things might have been different if I were wearing a coat made of fish or something.

It was a beautiful drive. We got to see a lovely slice of New Zealand, and some unusual things. Plus a long, fun day in the car. Today we lay a bit lower. Tomorrow we are off to Melbourne, Australia.

Also, due to bandwidth limitations here, I can’t upload the bulk of my photos yet. Watch for photo essays on sheep, seals and bulldozers to come.

Photographs © 2010, 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.

[travel] Off today to the antipodes, forward all my mail to the South Seas

This afternoon calendula_witch and I are off to New Zealand. Portland to Los Angeles to Sydney to Wellington, a ridiculous amount of flight hours and transit time. Longest flight I’ve ever taken before is San Francisco to Hong Kong. The LA-Sydney hop on this flight will be even mightier. Thank Ghu for business class seats. danjite and khaybee will meet us at the other end, pour us into their state limo, and see us to their home. Next week we’ll all four pop over to Melbourne.

Expect unknown amounts of blogging at unknown times. I will probably take a metric frak-ton of photos, of course, on account of because that’s what I do in furrin parts. Of course, those crazy Kiwis don’t know that they’re the furriners.

I won’t be answering my phone much, but I will keep an eyeball on email. Write if you need me.

calendula_witch and I are back on Thursday, September 9th. Surgery festivities the following week, in which I expect to be in the hospital from September 16th to September 20th. (I didn’t really need my liver anyway, did I?) It is my plan to spend as little as possible of the next two weeks thinking about that.

And, oddly, one thing I’m really looking forward to is the night sky. It will be like going to a different planet.

[conventions] AussieCon 4 Schedule

Here is my programming schedule for AussieCon, for those interested.

Fri 1200 Rm 211: Keeping pace: maintaining momentum in fiction
Fri 1600 Rm 207: Reading
Sat 1000 Rm 213: The steampunk playground
Sat 1200 Rm 201: Signing
Sun 1100 Rm 219: Anachronistic fiction: successors to steampunk

I will also be attending the Hugo ceremony both as Stephan Martiniere’s designated acceptor, and as keeper of the Campbell tiara.

I do not yet have a schedule for Au Contraire, but I believe I’ll be on programming there as well.

See some, all or none of you there.

[personal] A blinding rush through mud

Swimming in mud lately. Had the expected Versed hangover through yesterday. On the other hand, I managed to finish Endurance.

I’m actually kind of amazed I’ve gotten anything done. Between preparing for the New Zealand-Australia trip, finishing revisions to Endurance, managing cancer issues (second opinion, surgery planning, etc.) and the colonoscopy, I’ve been extremely busy. Way behind on correspondence and other obligations, and won’t likely catch up for a long time. I hate that.

I have some writing and WRPA to do today, along with taking the_child shopping for her first cell phone, seeing a movie with calendula_witch and packing for the upcoming trip. Busy is as busy does.

[travel|help] Australia questions, for them as knows the answers

So and I are now focusing on upcoming trip logistics, since we’re actually coming. Two questions have come up.

1) Is it possible to get cheap cell phones on short term plans when we get to Melbourne? We’d like to be able to call or text each other, and have numbers to make available to others. I did this when I went to China last year. Not sure about Australia’s telecomm environment.

2) I’ve heard Australian customs is pretty aggressive about confiscating laptops with questionable material on them. As I have no idea what Australia defines as “questionable material”, and given some of what I write a simple keyword search on my hard drive would turn up all sorts of stuff potentially requiring explanation to a suspicious mind, is it safe to bring my computer? I’m considering wiping it to default state as one option.

Thoughts and experiences welcome.

[cancer] Having met with the liver surgeon…

calendula_witch and I met with the surgical oncologist today regarding the lesion in my liver. He had a very strong and reassuring chairside manner.

The surgeon expressed his sympathy for what I’m going through. He is quite clear on believing this lesion to be metastatic colon cancer of the liver, despite the ambiguous PET result. There are several other possibilities, but he finds them all low probability. The proof of course will be in the post-operative pathology report.

We talked about the possibility of a biopsy, but in this case he’s strongly in favor of going straight to a resectioning. I agree with this completely. Whatever this thing is, I want it out of me. The plan is to take about 45% of my liver out — the left half, more or less — via laparoscopic surgery which will leave entry wounds in various decorative places about my abdomen, including in the existing scar from my colonic resectioning of 2008. I can expect the liver to regenerate to about 95% of its original size within four weeks of the operation. The surgeon says I will feel lousy and tired for about six weeks afterwards, even with the relatively minimal surgical wounds. I pointed out that having just gotten off chemo, I was no stranger to that.

Assuming the pathology report bears out the current opinions, I’ll go back on chemo 4-6 weeks after surgery. This will be another six-month course of twelve biweeky infusions, this time FOLFIRI-Avastin. We did discuss the possibility of chemo prior to surgery, but he felt that was not indicated in my case as the lesion is singular and fairly accessible.

The main variable now is the New Zealand-Australia trip. After some discussion, we all agreed that if the lesion is fairly stable in size and presentation, the surgeon is comfortable postponing the surgery until after the trip. Currently it is scheduled for 9/16. However, he did order a CT scan which was done this afternoon, to check on possible growth of the lesion. If it shows evidence of continued development, we will cancel the trip and the currently scheduled surgery and instead have surgery as soon as OR time can be secured. I hope to know on Thursday or Friday which path we’re taking.

One of his more revealing remarks was his comment that cancer treatment is a process of controlling the disease over the long term. He called it “eminently manageable”, given my apparent tendency to present with one tumor at a time. I remain concerned about the apparent increase in aggressiveness as this journey continues, but we treat what’s in front of us.

I’ll know more by the end of the week, hopefully, with respect to dates and planning. For now, suffice to say it’s falling out about as my medical oncologist said it would, and as I have been expecting.

[repost|books] My one and only public appearance between now and September

I will be reading and signing Pinion tonight, Thursday, April 1st, at 7 pm at Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing. This is immediately after its March 30th release date. Thanks to chemo and its discontents, this is my sole promotional event for the book. It’s a one-stop book tour!

Except for JayCon X on July 3rd, this will also be my one and only public appearance here in the US prior to the Seattle-area convention Foolscap in the fall.

So if you’d like to get my latest novel hot off the press, listen to me read, or have anything signed, mark your calendars now for April 1st. If you just want to show up and support me in my cancer battle, that would be a delight, too. It would please me to no end to fill the place. I look forward to seeing some, all or none of you there.

[repost|books] My one and only public appearance between now and September

I will be reading and signing Pinion on Thursday, April 1st, at 7 pm at Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing. This is immediately after its March 30th release date. Thanks to chemo and its discontents, this is my sole promotional event for the book. It’s a one-stop book tour!

Except for JayCon X on July 3rd, this will also be my one and only public appearance here in the US prior to the Seattle-area convention Foolscap in the fall.

So if you’d like to get my latest novel hot off the press, listen to me read, or have anything signed, mark your calendars now for April 1st. If you just want to show up and support me in my cancer battle, that would be a delight, too. It would please me to no end to fill the place. I look forward to seeing some, all or none of you there.