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[links] Link salad wakes up in San Francisco

Here’s the voting poll for the panda caption contest — Vote early, vote often, tell all your friends. Usual disclaimers apply.

This week’s Publisher’s Weekly reviews — Including both Green Powell’s | Amazon ] and ‘s Push of the Sky.

on getting started writing science fiction

Renewed Challenge to the Dinosaur KillerCentauri Dreams on the K-T extinction event.

‘Swine flu’ name won’t be changed in Israel — Umm. I’m all for cultural relativism, but, um. (Thanks to .)

It’s not that wingnuts are ignorant; it’s that they know so much that isn’t soThe Edge of the American West on rampant historical illiteracy among conservatives. (Rep. Bachmann blaming Carter for the last outbreak of swine flu, when it happened during the Ford administration, for a trivial example.) I’ve long observed that in order to be a conservative in America today you have to cling tenaciously to some blatant counterfactuals. That’s a very bad intellectual habit to get into. Once you’ve learned to ignore reality in favor of your “gut”, it gets easier to keep making shit up and calling your crap “true facts.”

?otD: If this is Thursday, this must be Nebraska, right?

Body movement: 60 minute suburban walk
This morning’s weigh-in: n/a (traveling)
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville, Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson

[links] Link salad for a hump day

Centauri Dreams on exomoons

Alpine Swiss ban nude hiking — (Thanks to .)

Adaptation and the Art of Change — Tom Morris on HuffPo.

Following swine flu online

How Many People Know Coke’s “Secret Formula”?Freakonomics on trivial corporate dishonesty.

?otD: Why do the owls cry under the dark of the moon?

Body movement: 60 minute suburban walk
This morning’s weigh-in: n/a (traveling)
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville

[links] Link salad saddles up for the Omaha trail drive

Return of the caption contest. Now with pandas! [ | LiveJournal ]

Me, on the Google Books settlement and your legislators: [ | LiveJournal ] — (Yes, this is a repeat link, but I didn’t want this post to fall into the trough of weekendity.)

says nice things about METAtropolis

Theory of sacrificesArt writing guru James Gurney is at it again. As it happens, I don’t entirely agree with him, but he’s making a great point about minimalism and natural transparency in style. Like I would know what transparent style looks like…

Tom’s Glossary of Book Publishing Terms — Hahahahahahahah.

Planet of the Grapes — A wine map of the world, for you fans of alternative cartography. Not to mention oenophiles. (You know who you are.)

on restaurant discounts for the unemployed — Some interesting thinking there. Go check it out, put in your 2 cents worth or show her some link love.

on swine flu — IRL, he is an ER doc.

APOD with the interaction between Prometheus and Saturn’s F-ring

Flexible Heat MinerTechnology Review with some cool commercially applied tech. This one is awesome.

Non Sequitur on cospiracy theories — As I read this I realized something odd. Conservatives are always on with the conspiracy paranoia. Red Scare, John Birchers, all the hoo-hah during the Clinton years about Whitewater and Vince Foster, the perpetual rumblings about world government and nationalization, the Obama “birthers” and the widespread belief that Obama is coming for their guns. Yet all the real conspiracies in American politics which leap to mind were foisted by conservatives. Watergate, Iran-Contra, the fraudelent run-up to the Iraq War (specifically the Iraq Study Group), pretty much anything Cheney has ever done. As usual, those who yell the loudest are the perps, apparently. Are there any significant conspiracies in modern political history foisted by liberal-progressives which have objective reality to them, the way Watergate or Iran-Contra do?

?otD: Omaha?

Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
This morning’s weigh-in: 218.0
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville; The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

[cancer] Why I talk about the Fear, and about cancer in general

Blog traffic has built a lot in the past year, and there’s always churn in my readership, so I thought I’d touch on why I talk about the Fear, and cancer in general.

Late in the evening of March 29th of 2008, I was admitted to the OHSU Emergency Room for very serious rectal bleeding. As it happened, I’d had a hematocrit test that morning, so we were later able to establish that I’d lost 25% of my blood volume in an 18-hour period. I collapsed inside the ER with blood pressure too low to measure. Various urgent medical procedures ensued. On March 30th, I was diagnosed with colon cancer, Tubulovillous adenocarcinoma with suspected lymphatic involvement.

I immediately made a decision to go very public with this. Some of that is just symptomatic of my pathological extroversion, but more of it was due to the secretive and shameful nature of cancer. In some very real senses, “cancer” is the last dirty word. I blogged all through the process of diagnosis, treatment and recovery. I talked about the funny bits, the stupid bits, the painful bits, the emotionally damaging bits, and the hopeful bits. See here for the history: [ | LiveJournal ]


Because it shouldn’t be a secret. Because far more people than you and I will ever realize have gone through these experiences. Maybe the gal in the cube next to yours at work. Maybe a friend who never mentioned his prostate cancer from fifteen years ago before you knew him. Your boss, your pastor, your grocery store clerk. And while everyone has the absolute right to as much privacy as they wish, no one should be forced to make this journey alone.

My cancer so far has been an amazing gift, filled with hope and benefit and growth for me and many people around me. After these next round of tests on 5/14 and 5/15, I’ll be as close to clear as I can be before the five-year survival clock is run out successfully. My story came out well, despite the Fear and the pain.

Not everyone’s does.

So I talk about it, because I can. It’s my personality, and I have a platform to reach many eyes and ears. Because maybe in talking about it, I can lend courage to other people. Maybe in talking about it I can grant understanding to other people. Maybe in talking about it I can make others’ experiences a little better. Maybe in talking about it, I can steal cancer’s power away, and give it to everyone who desperately needs a piece of that power for themselves.

And ultimately, talking about is what takes away my own Fear, lets me love and and everyone else in my life as fiercely and as powerfully as I do.

Thank you for listening.

[cancer] Return of the Fear

Walking out of the pharmacy today (on a non-cancer-related errand) I was struck by the Fear again. It hit me hard and fast, my breath shuddering in my chest. I managed to walk it off, or so I thought, until I got home. Pulled into the driveway at Nuevo Rancho Lake listening to “The Ballad of Pancho and Lefty”, which is a song that can bring tears to my eye on a good day. Carried some boxes of stuff for inside, and just lost it completely.

And once again, talked me off the ledge, all the way from California. Because that’s the kind of thing we do for each other.

I know why the Fear is coming back. The year anniversary of the initial hospital admission is almost upon me. The surgery anniversary is in a month. The one-year followup tests just after that. That trainload of stress is gathering speed. Sometimes I’m very, very afraid I’ll have to back to cancerland, be slow again, maybe die this time. Most of the time I know better, much better.

But the Fear is tricky.

And I hate being its victim. Even for a moment.

[cancer] A brief return of The Fear

Longtime readers will recall my Excellent Cancer Adventures of the past year. Had my quarterly followup with my cancer surgeon today, during which we scheduled the colonoscopy and CT scans for the one-year followup this coming May, just after the one-year anniversary of my surgery.

Afterwards, in the car, I had an outbreak of The Fear. (See also here: [ | LiveJournal ].) I’ve recently experienced an odd moment of grief [ | LiveJournal ], and since then, some deep melancholy, on the day Escapement Powell’s | Amazon ] was released in mass market paperback. (That was an echo of the fact that I first went into the hospital on the day that Mainspring Powell’s | Amazon thb | Audible ] was released in mass market paperback.)

This was different.

I’d been talking to my doc about what we were looking for in the tests. Specifically, tumor recurrence in the colon, lymph system or liver; as well as any polyps which might have been too small to be detected last year when various medical professionals went spelunking in my fine and private places. This was pretty sobering, although not particularly alarming in medical terms.

After the consult, I felt fussy, angry, stressed out. I sat in my parked car talking to about the tests and what they meant, then suddenly burst into tears. Just overwhelmed.

Because I am afraid of what we might find.

My doctor is as optimistic as he can be, but until we look, we will not know. We must look, we must know, but for a few minutes I was back in the Big Cancer Fear of last April and May. was very sweet and understanding, talking me down in part by telling me I’d gone to a dark and scary place. In the context of colon cancer, this suddenly seemed very funny. It’s hard to laugh and cry at the same time.

The fear is purely emotional. Medically I’m as good as I can be. These tests are purely risk management and good followup. Yes, something might be there, but if it is, I’ll beat that like I beat this last round of cancer. Emotional or not, it’s real.

And today I realize that the Big Cancer Fear will never really die. It doesn’t keep me awake at night or stalk my dreaming mind, but it’s with me. It always will be. With my own strong heart and the love of my friends and family, I will always be better than The Fear.

[personal] Ain’t no change in the weather

I have finally knuckled under and joined a health club. I am interested in a wider variety in my exercise routine, and in developing some strength training, especially in my abdominal core which is still weaker than it was before the cancer surgery. Happily, the gym I’ve joined has a trainer willing to work at 4:30 am, so tomorrow instead of walking or hitting the exercise bike, I’ll be driving 5 minutes to the gym for my first session with a personal trainer.

This will be interesting.

[links] Link salad is trying hard to look like Gary Cooper

A reader discusses The New Weird — Including a nod to my work. But “faithpunk”?

New adventures in comparative reporting — The Big Blog of Cheese is funny.

The 10 Emerging Technologies of 2009

Dilbert with an SFnal response to the current social and economic problems

Well, that’s unusual… with a perspective on the Catholic Church’s stance on HIV and genetic engineering. (Thanks to .)

When Will Emergency Rooms Go Back to Being Emergency Rooms? — The ER triage system nearly killed me, literally, when I first presented with the symptoms that turned out to be my colon cancer. It has some designed-in failure points which (presumably) represent the best-effort compromise of limited resources, but people with sprained ankles were being jumped ahead of me in the queue while I was busy losing 25% of my blood volume, simply because they expressed pain and I didn’t. If I’d been left in the lobby another 10 or 15 minutes, the abrupt collapse of blood pressure I experienced inside the ER could have been fatal. So I’m kind of sensitive to this issue.

?otD: What do you put on your Ritz?

Body movement: 45 minute stationary bike ride
This morning’s weigh-in: n/a (spaced out)
Currently reading: The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville; Black Blade Blues by John Pitts

[personal] Siiiiiiiiiick

Last time I was in Omaha, I came down with an upper respiratory infection.

Guess what?

It’s actually a fairly trivial sniffle, but with just enough post-nasal drip to render sleep damned near impossible. I keep waking up choking, or feeling like I need to throw up. So the last two nights have not been made of win. I think I’m going to have to stand down when I get home and spend the weekend on the couch. Grr.

This is also interfering with writing and writing related program activities. Double grr.

[personal] Another note about weight

So I’ve cut way back on the lemonade/limeade this week. And seen a straight drop in my weight back to the lower end of my current normal range. While this isn’t a strict exclusionary diet (ie, other factors may be in play), I have a pretty good handle on what’s going into my body these days. It’s now abundantly clear to me that the amount of sugar in my diet correlates meaningfully to my daily weight fluctuation, and presumably also to my long-term trends.

The two other biggest negative factors which tempt me on a daily basis are excessive carb intake (ie, pizza or a bread/pasta meal), and eating a meal of substance in the late afternoon or evening.

All of which is to say, if I am carb-smart and eat a light or nominal dinner, and stay off the sugars, I can keep my weight down near the bottom of the range around my current set point. Other than that, weight control doesn’t seem to depend too much on what I eat, only how much of it I eat. (Which is not to say I consider myself free to go on a heart-attack diet or anything — fats and oils and additives matter a lot for other reasons; fruits and vegetables likewise in the other direction.)

I am amazed at how much I continue to learn about this process, at my age.

[personal] An odd thing just happened

I’m not paranoid, in either the casual or the clinical sense of that term, but something odd just happened. I take a baby aspirin tablet every night for heart health. Threw out the empty bottle yesterday, set the new bottle out with the fish oil capsules and the Lovastatin. (It’s an exciting life I lead.) Tonight, opening the new bottle, I found the safety seal had been torn off.

I had to think hard about whether I’d opened it last night and simply forgotten. But the cotton wadding was in there, pulled aside as if the pills had been fished out. And that is not my habit. I always get rid of that stuff.

I threw the bottle away, but now I’m wondering if I should dig it out and try to remember which of three possible stores I bought it at, and contact them. Throwing it out seems cautious and mildly paranoid. Calling people up seems a lot more paranoid.

Especially since it’s still possible that I did open it yesterday and simply didn’t do my usual thing with the cotton. I have that kind of memory — I’ll forget I performed small, routine actions quite literally as I’m performing them. I’m the kind of person who sometimes has to check the stove three times.

I’m old enough to remember the Tylenol killings. I’m sad that I have to think of that sort of thing now.

[personal] A bit more on weight and diet

Been a while since I’ve commented on this, so I thought I’d mention a couple of observations. My weight has held in a narrow band between 219 and 224 since mid-December. I seem to have reached a setpoint. Once the weather gets a bit better and I’m able to get off the stationary bike and walk more (or at all), I suspect that will drop down a couple of pounds. In general I’m continuing the same habits that got me down this far (from about 285 in January of 2008), though I have noted that my total food intake has been up a little lately. Need to keep an eye on that.

I also have made clear and unsurprising correlation between my morning weigh-in and the lateness and size of the previous night’s evening meal. When I don’t eat dinner at all, or eat very light, I’ll come in on the low end of the setpoint range. Somewhat more interesting to me, at least, is the correlation between carb intake and my morning weigh-in. If I stay away from bread, chips, etc., that also helps me keep low.

I don’t generally eat late except for social reasons — convention and business travel are a real challenge on that regard. That’s not hard to control. Neither is portion size, really, I just need to be a little more thoughtful and not let my cravings run away with me. Those don’t feel like deprivation or discipline to me, just a matter of paying attention.

But ditching carbs is tough. Carbs hit my happy place the way some people respond to ice cream or chocolate. Garlic bread, pizza, french fries, and so forth. I think if I wanted to drop to 210 or lower, going low(er)-carb/carb-free would probably be the ticket.

That and tune down this lemonade/limeade kick, which is putting a lot of sugar into me. But man, talk about a craving — ever since the cancer I’ve been a monster for citrus fruits, salsa, and lemonade/limeade.