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Thursday, June 29th, 2006

Pirate Humor

Or, Fun With SubDomains

Ok, there’s been lots of things that have happened in the last week that I want to write about, and I need to, if only to break the cycle of endless posts about my current medical treatment. The trouble is, when I want to write about something that I care about, I want to do a good job; which takes some time, something I haven’t had much of recently. So to break the ice, I’ll toss out this humorous bit in the hopes that it will get my juices flowing.

I use Bittorrent. Specifically, the Azureus client. Um, I use it to download Linux distros – yeah, that’s what I use it for. What I can categorically state is that I do not use it to download music or movies that I don’t already own or tv shows that I haven’t already watched (complete with commercials.) I am also rabidly opposed to DRM and the DMCA because it suppresses legal fair use of copyright material. I keep tabs on the DRM and copyright news, so I know about the Pirate Bay controversy, and how authorities got the site in Sweden shut down temporarily.

If you want to check on the status of, you can just ping it:

Pinging [] with 32 bytes of data:

Reply from bytes=32 time=202ms TTL=45

However, if you do an nslookup, you can see how the folks there have registered their ip address at the DNS servers:



I guess that’s score one for the protesters against overprotective copyright laws, the lobbying interests and their purchased proxies, the US Congress, who abused the spirit of Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution and passed the Copyright Term Extension Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in 1998; and the helpless US Supreme Court, who in Eldred v. Ashcroft (2003), chose not to affirm the interests of the public in their interpretation of the law; and the heavy-handed tactics of the US Departments of Commerce and State, trying to extend their reach (well, the reach of the lobbying interests) over other sovereign nations.

Constitution of the United States, from Article I, Section 8:

The Congress shall have Power To… promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries…

Life plus 70 years is a limited time? How the hell does that promote progress? And what the hell right does the US have to impose their laws on other countries?

Posted by Greg as Politics at 08:01 PST

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Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Biopsy Results

I finally got a call back from my doctor, and I don’t feel like I really understand what he was saying, or more importantly, its significance. I really need to find a new doctor. I mean, he’s a nice enough guy, and seems very competent, but he must be from the old school of physicians, those that think that it’s not important whether the patient understands every detail, as long as the doctor does; or he can’t quite figure it out himself.

The gist that I caught from our brief conversation (he did catch me at a very hectic time) was that the lump seems to be a lymph node, swollen, of course, and it’s either referred to (perhaps in its current attention-seeking state) as a nodule, or it has a nodule in it. I don’t know what to make of any of it. Isn’t a swollen lymph node bad, signifying some other portentous battle under way in my body? And what’s that lymph node doing out there anyway?

I wouldn’t mind so much if my doctor hasn’t figured out what it is yet, and what is causing it, if he would just run down the list with me and tell me what has been eliminated, what is still in the running, and what we’re going to do about it. Instead, he wants me to come back in a month and he’ll check on it. Now, I’ve only been seeing him since this incident started; he’s a member of my regular oncologist’s medical group, but my oncologist just announced his retirement. Maybe I should look up my old surgeon. I could try getting my hands on the lab report and drawing my own conclusions, but that’s probably as advisable as being your own attorney (my current court room record acting on my own behalf: 3-1.) Still, I think it’s time to look around.

Oh – and the hole in my chest keeps leaking. Every now and then I feel it when I reach too high for something, or lift something too heavy, or twist around too hard. I can’t take it seriously enough to baby myself – it’s just too damned small – but I’m going to ruin a bunch of shirts this way.

Posted by Greg as Melanoma, Posts About Me at 05:56 PST


Sunday, June 18th, 2006

Upgrade to WordPress 2.0.3

I woke up this morning at 3:30, and decided to take advantage of the early hour to upgrade this blog to WordPress 2.0.3, which included some security fixes and performance enhancements. I took me exactly 60 minutes from download to finish, mostly backing up the database and files. The upgrade process was as smooth as ever, and I’m completely satisfied. It looks like everything went fine, and I only had hacks in two core files – changing the greeting in the admin area from “Howdy” to “G’Day” and the Links headers from h2 to bold – to restore. (The regular upgrades have discouraged me from hacking.)

So now I’ll probably head back off to bed, where I shall await breakfast ;). Happy Father’s Day!

Posted by Greg as My Website at 05:13 PST

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Saturday, June 17th, 2006


Thursday morning got to be quite hectic. Without going through the sequence as I figured it out, the consulting radiologist and my oncological surgeon had gotten together and decided to change my procedure. Unfortunately, everybody involved thought that somebody else was going to call me to let me know, and I had a last minute change to adapt to.

I had thought that I was slated for a general anesthesia procedure, where the surgeon would slice me open and remove the offending lesion. The revised procedure was to use only local anesthetic and extract it with a probe guided by ultrasound. Fair enough – it sounded less invasive, safer, and probably would have faster recovery. Plus I could drive myself home. The big downside, which really amused the scheduling assistant when I complained about it, was that I wouldn’t get the opportunity to have gory photos taken that I could post on my blog. See, Readers – I try and keep your interests in mind!

One thing that struck me as strange was that, when the scheduling assistant was giving directions for where I was to go, she was really vague when I asked about the sign over the desk where I was supposed to check in. When I got to the building and rode up to the second floor, I saw why – it was the Women’s Imaging Center. And she was right – they were expecting me. At least, while I was waiting to be checked in, there was a very well picked over newspaper lying around – the only remaining section was Sports!

I may have cracked a huge secret, guys. If you want to be pampered, to have a small crowd of women hovering over you, fetching pillows, offering juice, explaining everything as you go along, and laughing at your feeble jokes: go get treatment at a women’s center! It got to the point where I was unnerved. I made the observation that I was used to more brusque treatment, and they just laughed and hovered some more! It was pretty cool.

On to technical details. I lay down on my back for the initial ultrasound examination. At this point, I discovered that the lump seemed to have gotten bigger again – by my probing fingers, it seemed a good 3 cm wide by 1½ – 2 cm. Worse, we had trouble discerning the boundaries of the lesion on the ultrasonic display. I could see the whole thing on the display. While we were doing this, the doctor asked about the history on this lump. I ran down the list – PET scan, needle biopsy, MRI. She was interested in the biopsy, and from my description she said it sounded like a fine needle biopsy, and she didn’t seem surprised that it was inconclusive. I questioned the doctor about the size, and whether she would be able to remove the whole thing. She responded that if it had been smaller, she could probably had removed the entire lesion but, as it looked, she thought she could get 50% of it. This disappointed me – I was hoping that this was going the end of the entire episode, other than an after action report. The doctor said that we would definitely be getting a large enough sample size to conclusive identify the lesion.

I was pricked a few times as local anesthetic was injected into the area, which didn’t burn the way I recalled, but seemed to numb everything up, and I didn’t feel a thing as the doctor made a small incision and inserted the probe. There was some pushing and twisting, and soon enough I could see the probe in the ultrasonic screen. The aspirator was turned on, after they warned me first – they didn’t want me to be startled by the noise. The probe that was being used is known as a Mammotome® probe, and its use is illustrated by this graphic I pulled of the Johnson & Johnson site:
Mammotome® procedure

Poke, suck, cut. That’s the idea. The poking went fine – I didn’t feel it at all. Then the suction started. I felt that – it varied from a gentle pressure to feeling like a small black hole had popped up inside my chest. But the cutting – I felt every bit of that. After the first one, I informed the doctor that I had felt it, and we paused to stick me with more locals. Then she started again, but there was no difference, possibly because the local had gone into my bloodstream, because I apparently bled like a stuck pig afterwards, and the doctor commented that whatever it was, it had a rich blood supply. The noise wasn’t a help – the cutting edge was apparently on a ratchet. I held up through it for three or so more cuts, then observed aloud that the pain was getting a little intolerable. I was trying hard not to flinch or move at all, and I got about the same reaction as I had from that PA at Camp Mackall, so long ago, when he was dubiously stabbing his thumb into my foot, telling me and everyone around that there was no way the bone was broken, when an x-ray would later show I had a complete fracture of the third metatarsal. (I’ll always remember the x-ray tech at the hospital at Fort Bragg, coming out with a hand of films to the five of us that had been driven over – “You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine, you can all go back – and you,” turning to me, “you’re not going anywhere.”) It’s not that I don’t feel pain, it’s just that early in my military career I made a point of learning how to endure it silently. I always figured that one day it might save my life, or better yet, the lives of my buddies, if I was grievously injured while we were trying to, say, sneak up on an enemy position, or trying to elude some soldiers who thought that stabbing a hiding place with their bayonets was a good enough search. Most of you would probably consider it macho bullshit, but Those Like Us know what I’m talking about. (Catch the Gardens of Stone reference?)

But that was it. The doctor announced that she was finished, although I could see from the ultrasound that there was still a good bit remaining of this abnormal growth that had formed in my body remaining. I’d like to say that I pressured her into going for taking more of it out, but in truth, I’d had enough. I was wishing then that they hadn’t changed the procedure, and that I had gone under and they had got the whole thing out, but it was a bit late for my input. Now that I think about it, I kind of resent that. I’m fairly certain that I’m going to have to go under the knife again.

Then the probe was withdrawn, and I had to wait through a lot of sissy-ass treatment for my bleeding. They had gotten me on a roll, chatting me up and admiring any bravado I showed, while a little bundle of gauze was pressed on the tiny hole, and I had to go wait in the post-op room for another half hour because the doctor was “concerned” about blood loss. Overall, they were really polite and considerate, but it just wasn’t the treatment I was used to, and it left me with a longing for the “deal with it, soldier” attitude to which I was inured.

I should have the results of the biopsy by Tuesday.

Posted by Greg as Melanoma, Posts About Me at 13:59 PST


Thursday, June 15th, 2006

Surgery Today

I’ll work half a day this morning and come home by noon before going in to the outpatient clinic. Because of general anesthesia, I haven’t been able to eat or drink since midnight, and I’m really thirsty. I ate a hearty snack last night around eleven, but clearly I didn’t drink enough.

Yesterday was Flag Day, and the seventeenth anniversary of my becoming a US citizen.

Some helpful coworker left an article on my desk: 17 beers a day keep prostate cancer away. Now I have a goal in life!

Posted by Greg as Posts About Me at 07:03 PST

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Monday, June 12th, 2006

2006 Chargers Mini Camp

I took the kids on Saturday to the San Diego Chargers Mini Camp. We had gone last year and really enjoyed it, although I had found Chelsea’s enthusiasm a bit surprising. Boo enjoyed it as well, and it’s gratifying to hear him trying to say “Football” and look excited about it – his older sister has been doing her best to get him excited about marching band and color guard.

Mini-Camp is a showcase practice and training session, and is the first chance for the public to get to see the new draft picks and free agents. The big thrill for me is getting up close to some of my favorite players – Luis Castillo, Igor Olshanksy, Shawne Merriman, and Steve Foley (the defensive line practices real close to the crowd), and to see all the others doing drills and running through some downs. The receivers were doing a great job, especially McCardell, Osgood and Floyd, but what we were all hoping for was some signs of brilliance in our secondary. Our new shining hope, Cromartie, obviously has skills, but was outclassed. Jammer was looking pretty good, though. Darren Sproles is just freaking amazing, and two another surprise standouts were Matt Wilhelm and Akbar Gbaja-Biamila – clearly, there’s some real competition going on for linebacker slots.

Our new starting quarterback, Phillip Rivers, has a great arm, but we already knew that. What is far more important, and something we can’t see in a session like this, is how he’s stepping into the leadership role, but every Charger in the news lately has been full of praise for him. This speaks well of both Rivers and the team unity. Ever since A. J. Smith decided to let Drew Brees go and floated Donnie Edwards for trade, two immensely popular players, I’ve been concerned that the Chargers might start cracking up, but they look to be holding together really well.

I started last session with a lot of excitement, thinking that 2005 was going to be our year, but we didn’t even make the playoffs due to a series of crucial mistakes that resulted in a string of narrow losses. I haven’t gotten over that, and this year I’m just not as excited. Maybe the threat of the Chargers leaving San Diego is hanging oppressively close now. But going to Mini Camp got my juices going, and I saw a lot of reasons to be hopeful again. Man, it’s such a long time until the season opener!

Posted by Greg as Family & Friends, Football at 05:23 PST


Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

Headed for Surgery

Apparently, my surgeon was wrong about the lymphedema. (I’ve stopped trying to finish the MRI story for now – I hope to get back to it.) The MRI results came back, and I definitely have a “lesion”. Instead of continuing to try and figure out what it is, we’ll wait for the lab results after some technician cuts up the whole thing and puts it under the microscope, or whatever it is that they do, because I’m just going to get the whole thing cut out. Surgery is scheduled for next week – Thursday, 15 June, at 1400 PDT.

We have a fairly high degree of confidence that whatever it is, it’s not malignant, thanks to the PET scan, so I’m only running a small risk that I’ll have to go back under the knife to remove more surrounding tissue. I’ll be getting general anesthesia on an outpatient basis, and hope to be back to work quickly, although I’ve requested the following day (Friday) off as well. The Incident of the Mysterious Lump is going to come to an end.

Posted by Greg as General Science, Melanoma, Posts About Me at 18:15 PST

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Thursday, June 1st, 2006

My First MRI – continued

*** This is Part 2. Part 1 is here ***

Phew. Had to take a break. I’m fascinated by all the technology involved with this, so it’s even harder than normal to contain my curiosity about every little facet, and I spend more time searching than writing. I did, however, manage to identify the raised platform with breast holes and the framework the techs were trying to strap on to me – they were RF coils. I was trying to elaborate, but the Wikipedia MRI page is like a huge black hole that keeps trying to suck me in, and I want to get back to the story. (There’s also a pretty good layman’s article at How Stuff Works, and an every-little-detail package at The Basics of MRI.)

So I was wedged into this tube, trying to stay relaxed, and the noises started.

An MRI doesn’t sound anything like somebody beating on a can. It was loud, but with the earplugs, not painfully so. What startled me was the nature of the sound – it clearly wasn’t mechanical. It had lots of buzzing and resonating thumping, and it wasn’t constant or even regular. There were frequent pauses before the next sequence of sounds started up, and each sequence had a different pattern, which caught me off guard each time. You can go off site to hear sample sounds – I haven’t found a good embedded player for WordPress yet. The noise is caused by the harmonics induced by the rapidly switching magnetic fields.

Although the magnetic fields inside an MRI are incredibly strong – thousands of times the strength of the Earth’s magnetic field – we supposedly aren’t capable of sensing them. But at times I felt something. Most often it was like a very faint sensation of having all the hairs on your body stand up at once – then start wiggling really fast. But I also felt weird, indescribable feelings of pulling and twitching throughout my body, and flashes of heat. It could have been entirely psychosomatic, I guess. Apparently, the only established effects of exposure to strong magnetic fields are vertigo and nausea. Prior to my scan, I had to go over a list of implants and other foreign materials that would be adversely affected by the strong fields, or that could have an adverse affect on me when they reacted by moving closer to the magnets. I didn’t see anything to worry about.


Posted by Greg as General Science, Melanoma, Posts About Me at 00:08 PST

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