Saturday, September 20, 2008

2021 Kitty Versus Printer

There are a lot of videos on YouTube of cats attacking printers, more specifically the paper emerging. Jasper feels that way about water. He has discovered that when Mommy brushes her teeth, there's a narrow stream of water dribbling from the faucet. He tries to catch it. I removed him from the sink seven times this morning during the brushing of the teeth. His being in the sink doesn't bother me so much - it's his rear end and tail in my face.

I'm glad he's more interested in the faucet than the printer. He can't break the faucet.


This one's cuter - a kitty who wants to repair the printer:


2020 What I Want (& other stuff)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I visited NJ in the hospital on Thursday. I knew that her daughter would tell her about May having got the police to break into NJ's house on Tuesday, so I wrote her a letter explaining how everyone had been worried, and how I had been at the house, and there's nothing to worry about, and her location is safe with me, and I think I've convinced May, too, and wishing her a quick recovery. I was under the impression that she could not receive visitors (and the hospital does not allow flowers (huh? They really don't. I don't know why)), so my intent was to just deliver the note to the desk for them to give to her.

To my surprise, the desk called her room, and then told me to go on up.

When I walked in the door, the first thing she said was "Do you know what that crazy May did? She called the police to break into my house!" I broke into her sputtering to say yes, she'd also called me, and I was there at the house, and that's why I'm here.

She looked good - eyes good, good color, full cheeks - but she was obviously very tired. Picking at a tray of food.

She says if May shows up, she'll have her thrown out. When May had called the hospital on Tuesday, NJ told them to tell May no visitors and no calls. Which of course will only worry May more, so I think it's only a matter of time....


Major navel-gazing here. Ignore. Skip. Go away.

TV on in background yesterday. Soap opera, I think. Woman has two suitors who have proposed marriage, one rich, the other poor, likes the poor one a bit more than the rich. Oh dear, what to do, which to select.

It reminded me of my mother's best friend of a few decades ago. She, like my mother, was a widow in her mid-50s, without, as my mother put it, "a pot to piss in". But she was tall, slender, long-legged, with full fluffy black hair and excellent taste - in short, she was beautiful and sophisticated-looking.

She also had two suitors. One man was not wealthy, in fact, living rather simply. He adored her, and shared her taste in opera and literature. The other was a multimillionaire, with several homes. He'd made his money in construction, and was a bit coarse in his tastes. He wanted her to help him socially, to look more civilized.

She chose the rich guy, because, as she explained to my horrified mother, she was tired of struggling, she wanted to relax, and she wanted nice things.

The day before the wedding, he presented her with a pre-nup. Sign or we don't get married.

Among other things, it specified that if they were to divorce (on either party's initiation), assets would be split in the same proportion as each brought into the marriage. Which meant if he brought 4 million, and she brought 2 thousand, and "their" assets doubled after 10 years of marriage, and they split, she'd get 4 thousand. Even if he left her.

Another requirement was that they would have sex a minimum of twice a week. Her refusing him would be acceptable grounds for divorce.

He would give her a very large monthly stipend which she could spend or invest in any way she wished without restriction. (Of course, invested money, or purchases with that money, would be part of the total assets should they divorce.)

She sighed, she signed, and she married him. I doubt that it ever occurred to her to consult a lawyer.

Yeah, she was very unhappy. She told my mother that she had assumed that the twice-a-week thing would gradually drift away. It didn't. Right from the start she had found him physically repulsive, called him "The Frog". He had no reason to court her, didn't require enthusiastic participation or even affection, and so was rather brusque in his demands. She got to where she cringed every time he looked at her. Ten years later it was still the same.

Otherwise, life was easy. She stayed married to him.

In my mind, she had sold her body for material comforts. That's what was most important to her, so I guess that was ok.

Got me thinking.

Right now, I know four relatively wealthy men about my age, with assets ranging from just over one to several mind-boggling millions. I am certain that if I batted my eyelashes and played my cards right, I could reel any of them in. No, that's not overconfidence. Two have made definite interest clear. The third has been dogging me for over thirty years. All I'd have to do is give a green light. The fourth guy isn't as clear, but he's in "wanna get married" mode, and when a man gets in that mood, he'll marry the first woman who coos over him.

I could make it happen. I really could.

But I couldn't.

I like them all a lot. In their own way they're nice guys. But actually living with any of them 24/7 would require keeping my mouth shut, biting my tongue when they do or say certain things that bug the hell out of me, and with two of them, anyway, there's a cringe factor. A certain amount of ick.

I'd be selling me for physical comfort, and I can't do it.

So, is it because I'm financially independent, and content with what I have? Would I think differently if I didn't have anything of my own? I really did think hard about it. Maybe the market fluctuations of the past few days spurred the thought. Probably not, because I'm not really all that worried (when I mentioned to Daughter how much loss I'd "suffered" in a mere four days, she said "You haven't lost anything until you want to cash it in", and she's right).

Nope. I don't think I can sell myself. Not now, not any more, not since I found myself.

I married the first two husbands for reasons other than "this is someone I love and want to be with". There was a certain amount of settling, and self-protection involved.

I married Jay because I loved him, pure and simple, and we suited each other so well. I'd quite happily have lived in a hovel with him. As long as there's food and heat, I can be happy, if the company's good.

Ex#2 was a miser. He handled all the money, paid all the bills, and gave me a household allowance. I had no idea how much he made, or how much was available for discretionary spending. I do know that I didn't have enough left over from the household funds to buy clothing. I literally had to beg for a new pair of jeans, or for Daughter's clothes as she grew, and he always grumbled at the expense. I had $70 a month for food (1980), and I fed the three of us on that, with the help of a garden and a freezer. So I do know how to live cheaply, and when you come right down to it, I don't mind. There's a well-earned pride in it.

If I don't want financial support from a relationship, what do I want?

This took a lot of thinking. I tend to define what I want by what the current man's got. If he hasn't got it, then obviously I don't want it, right?

Not true. Gotta get past that. I don't see how I can be truly happy in a relationship unless I can define what my needs are, and be satisfied that they're being met - as opposed to convincing myself I'm happy with what I'm getting.

I don't know what I want.

. I do know that I want his time and attention. I need a lot of that.
. I want a deep friendship, where we are emotionally open to each other, and can say almost anything knowing that it will be understood.
. I need a mind that meshes with mine.
. I want to be able to respect him, and get respect in return.
. I want lots of mindblowing, experimental, and playful sex. Lots. Frequently. Like daily. I feel like I've missed that in my life, and in the time that's left I want to make up for it.

That much I know I want. I can't be happy with any one of them missing.

There's other stuff, like someone who wants to travel with me. I think that's not a requirement, more of a bonus, but it would be nice.

Trouble is, I don't know how to get it all, I don't know if it's possible any more, and I don't know if I'd be happy if I did. There'd probably be something else I'd discover I need. But if I settle for less, could I be happy? If I get an overabundance of half of them, can I do without the others? I don't think so. But if that's the case, can I give up the half I've got because it's not enough? Isn't not enough better than nothing?

I don't know.

(Yeah, this is all me me. So what do I have to give? Is it enough? But that's not something I can answer. That's for him to figure out for himself.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

2019 Bits and Pieces

Friday, September 19, 2008

Judging Age

There are video clips of the next set of Survivor contestants. One of the men is listed as 58 years old. I'd put him as at least 68. At least!

On the news, a teenager arrived home and found a strange man in the house. He left when she asked who he was. She described him as 35 years old.

Also on the news, they showed mug shots of some guys accused of breakins. They were both 19. I'd have sworn the one on the left was at least 37.

Once into their middle teens, I can't judge anyone's age just by looking at them. Never could, and I don't see how anyone else can, either. I might be mostly right about over or under 50, but only if it's at least a decade over or under 50.

I can do a bit better with the younger ones if I can talk to them for a while. I can see age or lack thereof in a brain better than a face.

I'd make a very bad crime eyewitness.


Eyewitness Accounts

In one of my criminal law classes, the instructor, a criminal defense lawyer, walked into class a bit late one day. As he walked to the front of the room, he muttered an excuse. He had a briefcase in one hand, and something dark in the other. When he got to the front of the room, he looked briefly at the dark thing, and then put it behind the lectern. He took his tie off and put it into the briefcase. He asked if anyone had a copy of the previous day's outline, and as we shuffled papers he took something else out of the briefcase (a gun!), looked at it briefly, and put it behind the lectern. A few minutes into his lecture, which was about the reliability of eyewitnesses, he reached under his belt, pulled his underwear up above the belt, and then tucked it back in. At one point when a student asked a tricky question, he whipped around and said "For that, you die! Bang bang! Bang! Bang bang bang! Anyone else (blowing on his finger) have any smart-ass questions?"

At the end of the afternoon, he gave a snap quiz.
What was his excuse for being late?
What time did he come in?
What did he carry in besides the briefcase?
What color is his tie?
What did he take out of the briefcase?
What color is his underwear?
Who did he "shoot"?
How many shots did he get off?
What did he do with the gun?
...and a few other questions.

We were to mark our answers as to how sure we were. Not one person in the class got more than 1/4 of the answers right, and the ones they got wrong, they were most likely to be sure were correct.

So much for eyewitness accounts.

I think he cheated, though. I am 100% positive his underpants were red, and the reason I'm so sure is that I was also wearing red, but when he pulled them out again to prove the color, they were blue. I think he was wearing two pair - one red, one blue - and pulled up the inner or outer as needed.


Exported Democracy

Have you noticed that in almost every country where a long history of monarchy or dictatorship has been supplanted by a democratically elected government, that government is soon frankly and openly corrupt? (Quick, think of five!) ((Start with Russia.))

Ever since we invaded Iraq, I've been muttering that democracy just won't work there. Under centuries of a monarchy or dictatorship (actual or virtual), tribal, ethnic, social class, and family ties strengthen. When the old powers are overthrown and supplanted by an elected government, the winners think they've WON! That's WON in capital letters. Their SIDE has WON over the others, and there's a natural tendency, when there have been tribal, ethnic, class, and family divisions and frictions, to distribute the spoils among their tribe, ethnic group, social class, or family.

Does this sound familiar?

Maybe we need to elect some middle class people.


Vibrating Mice

Researchers have demonstrated that brief daily periods of low level vibrations can prevent the development of fat cells and encourage the growth of bone mass in mice.

That explains why Californians tend to be thinner than the rest of us. Ha! And they wanted us to think they were doing right things! It's just their ground imperceptibly trembling all the time.

2018 Strict Interpretation of the Constitution?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Senator McCain, when asked on "The View" a few days ago about appointing Supreme Court Judges likely to vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, said that abortion would not be a litmus test, but that he would try to appoint judges who were strict constitutionalists - who interpreted the Constitution in the way that the Founding Fathers meant it when they wrote it, to understand what the FFs had in mind and rule that way. He doesn't consider the Constitution to be a living document, changing with the times.

I have a lot of trouble with that. It seems to me that people, even those who want to be called "strict constitutionalists", interpret it any way they want, to justify anything they want to do, or ban anything they don't want you to do.

I've brought up the following point in every government-oriented class and every Constitutional law class I've ever taken, and I've never got a satisfactory answer.

The country was named "The United States of America". Not just "America". Before the states united, they were separate. They were almost like separate little countries, and they were very jealous of their separateness, their desire to govern themselves. Delegates from the separate states met to form a sort of super-government, for the common defense, to allow free commerce among the states, and so on. I don't believe the individual states ever meant to give up their sovereignty, and that's why they were all given equal representation in the senate. I really believe that is what was in the minds of the Founding Fathers. Witness that the states can elect or appoint their senators and representatives to the union in any way they want.

The states joined voluntarily. (It's sort of like the United Nations.) It so happened that all the states did join, but they didn't have to if they didn't want to. Some, even among the original 13, didn't join right away. Every state (except purchased territories) joined the union of states voluntarily.

Think of it as a subscription. Sovereign states subscribed to the union of states, the United States. The big advantage of membership was defense against attack from without, and free trade among the union members. I believe that was the intent of the Founding Fathers. I do not believe there was an intent to meddle with anything within a state.

Have you ever subscribed to something, a magazine or service that offered a 60-day free trial, but you had to give a credit card number to start the free trial, and then 30 days into the trial you decided it was crap, so you tried to cancel? And you couldn't get them to cancel? And they kept charging your credit card month after month for things you kept trying to tell them you didn't want? That's illegal. They can't DO that.

I fully believe, moral issues aside, that the southern states had every right to cancel their subscription to the union when the price-setting of cotton by the northern states made membership in the union of states no longer economically comfortable. I believe they had every right to secede from the union when it no longer served their interests to be a member.

There was no way the northern states were going to allow export duties on cotton to increase the price of cotton (yes, that's a simplistic depiction, but basically true, slavery became an issue only later, to gain the common citizen's moral support for the war when "help the rich folks" didn't work), and all of a sudden the intent of the Founding Fathers no longer mattered.

On "The View", when McCain mentioned strict interpretation of the Constitution as the FF's intended, Whoopi asked if that meant she'd have to be a slave.

Well, if we get a Supreme Court who REALLY interpreted the Constitution as the Founding Fathers were thinking, then they'd have to declare the Civil War as an illegal war, let states secede, and maybe Whoopie would have to be shipped off to the Carolinas to pick cotton. And I KNOW the FFs NEVER intended for women to vote. I'm sure that never entered their mind. Or for women to inherit, either. Or to get the same jobs, let alone the same pay.

All McCain means by "as the FFs intended" is judges who think that a fertilized egg has a right to life. And then someone is going to point out that birth control pills and IUDs and the like don't prevent fertilization of the egg, they prevent implantation, which amounts to nothing more than very early abortion, and we could find those forms of contraception banned, too.

So I get pissed when "they" blather about strict interpretation. That's pure bull poop.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

2017 How to get a promotion

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Lots of people think that if they do their job really well, they will get a promotion. I don't know how it works in small companies, but in large corporations that isn't enough.

If your company has "levels", like Basic Grunt, Grunt First Class, Senior Grunt, and so on, they will likely have a job definition for each level. When you are promoted to Grunt First class, you will probably be given a sheet of paper with your responsibilities on it.

The temptation is to do those things, and do them well, and say "Hey, I'm a good Grunt First Class." That's not enough. That's a good way to stay a Grunt First Class, because you're so good at it.

Once you're fairly sure you can handle that job, go to your manager and ask for the sheet for the Senior Grunt. These days, it's probably available online, but don't just quietly print it off for yourself and take it into your corner. Make sure in some subtle way that your manager knows you're looking at it. Perhaps you could find some section that you could ask questions about - clarification, you know.

Then you start doing the things on that list. Start doing things that Senior Grunts do. Most Senior Grunts will be happy to delegate stuff to you.** Start small to gain their confidence.

In those 1-on-1s that I recommended last month, and the weekly accomplishment reports, mention those Senior-level things you're doing. If you do them well, you'll get more Seniors willing to delegate to you, and of course you can delegate your overflow Grunt First Class jobs to a Basic Grunt who looks ready to move up. (Make sure you can trust him or her, because even though they might be doing the work, you are still responsible for it.)

Eventually 80% of the work you're doing, and doing well, will be Senior Grunt work. You have demonstrated your readiness. At that point, you can go to your management and say, "I'm ready for a promotion, and here's the reason why...", and they'll have a very difficult time denying you.

That's how I got five promotions (and salary ladder jumps) in three years with The Company.

** If Senior Grunts aren't willing to delegate to you, that's a sign that they're afraid for their own jobs, don't want competition, and it might be more profitable for you to work on your resume as well as on increasing your level of responsibility.

2016 Just plain thinking

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This is a reader comment on an article by Daniel Laris0n in The American Cons3rvative.


Elvis Elvisb3rg, on September 17th, 2008 at 2:13 pm Said:

FWIW, a conservative defense of Obama, from ex-NR Publisher Wick Allison.

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Most important, Obama will be a realist. I doubt he will taunt Russia, as McCain has, at the very moment when our national interest requires it as an ally. The crucial distinction in my mind is that, unlike John McCain, I am convinced he will not impulsively take us into another war unless American national interests are directly threatened.

“Every great cause,” Eric Hoffer wrote, “begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” As a cause, conservatism may be dead. But as a stance, as a way of making judgments in a complex and difficult world, I believe it is very much alive in the instincts and predispositions of a liberal named Barack Obama.


I highly recommend this online magazine. There's a lot of perception and good thinking there.

2015 Thinking even bigger

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Judge show on TV, "Joe Brown". A couple suing their landlady. They all worked together at Burger King, and the landlady offered to share her townhouse with the couple for $400 a month.

The judge asked, "$400 a month?"

The couple answered, "She said $400 a month, but we decided to pay $100 a week."

Duh? Do they not realize that $100 a week is higher than $400 a month? Ok, that explains a career at Burger King.

2014 Thinking big

Thursday, September 18, 2008

There's some young woman (somebody Milano?) as a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel show right now. She says she "just came in from her ranch", which is 40 miles outside LA.


"Yeah. We have five acres and [some] horses..."

I giggled. Ranch? Around here, five acres is a back yard.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

2013 Enjoying the trip down?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Piper and I didn't walk Monday or today because he's been chained to his desk because of what's been going on with Wall Street. I went to the post office a few minutes ago and ran into Piper heading home. We pulled into the CVS parking lot and talked.

I could tell just by looking at him that he's having a ball. His eyes were sparkling, his cheeks were pink, and his dimples were deep. Piper has a broker's license, but he rarely deals in individual stocks. He prefers to steer his clients into a mix of bonds and mutual funds, which is where he's got me. He was almost giggling because back on August 8th, he was specifically directed by one of his big institutional clients to buy a few million dollars worth of AIG stock for their portfolio. It's now worth less than a hundred thousand.

He's buying shares in mutual funds as fast as he can get them now.

I pointed out that it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better. Yeah, investments like mine are insured by private companies (what company, by the way? Tell me it's not AIG!), but as people start calling on that insurance, insurance companies will be selling off their investments to pay off those claims, and some of them won't be able to survive. It's going to domino. He laughed, and said "Yes! Guess who insured Lehman Brothers' mortgage interests? AIG! (Snork! Bounce up and down.)" He's really enjoying this.

I said I was worried about all the people out of work now. He said he was a little worried about his daughter. She had left BOA to go to work for Merrill Lynch, and at the end of last week was in the final contract negotiations. Guess who bought Merrill Lynch.

So far the disasters seem to be mainly in the financial services businesses. It will spread. It will get worse. The federal government seems to think they can contain the situation with bailouts, but where will they get the money to do that? Borrow it, meaning higher deficit, or print it, which devalues the dollar all over the world? Both bad bad bad.

Time to go to the mattresses. The lumpy mattresses.

2012 Settling

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A friend confided in me recently that she is not very happy in her marriage. He's a nice guy, has a lot to recommend him, treats her well for the most part, but he has one serious problem. She said that she was aware of the problem before they were married, but decided to accept it, because she thought he was the best she could do, he was what she deserved, and, perennially female, she hoped it would go away.

I have heard this from so many people over the decades. Not just in choice of life partners, but in accepting certain treatment on the job, from family, teachers, acquaintances. They accept bad treatment not because they overlook it in others, but because they feel they don't deserve any better.

They accept the judgment of others. They've been taught what kind of treatment to expect.

Steps to getting what you really deserve:
1. Understand your real value.
2. Figure out how you really deserve to be treated.
3. Recognize bad treatment when you see it.
4. Reject, do not allow, bad treatment.

Sounds so simple, eh?

It has taken me a long time, and some painful lessons, but I finally know my value. I know I am valuable. I know exactly how valuable I am, and it's pretty durn high! I know what kind of treatment I deserve. I deserve the best, because that's what I'm worth.

I am intelligent, loyal, charitable, thorough, skillful, open-minded, respectful, independent, compassionate, honest, steadfast. I can be one of the best friends or lovers anyone can have.

I've pretty much got a lock on steps 1 and 2.

Now I need to learn how to recognize shoddy treatment and stop forgiving others for treating me badly. I tend to be too easy on others, especially when I get to know them well, and know that they don't do some of the bad things on purpose - that's just the way they are. But even if that is the way they've learned to relate, I don't have to take it. I have to learn to say "You are not allowed to treat me that way. It's not good for me." Saying it to FM last year was a major step forward. I learned I can do it without getting hit by lightning, but FM was an egregious case.

There are more subtle things going on with another, and I have allowed it to continue because I kept hoping it would change or get better. But instead, it's starting to erode my hard-won confidence in myself, something I absolutely cannot allow. I need to slap some sense into me.

I deserve better.

2011 SS

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Back when the Republicans were making a lot of noise about privatizing Social Security, I was aghast. (I wrote a blog entry on it, but I can't find it now.)

Those people have to be close to my age -- and yet they don't "remember" where Social Security came from? Why it exists? Why the government controls it?

Social Security came out of the Great Depression. Companies had failed, and people lost jobs, retirement plans, and investments. Banks failed, so savings of a lifetime were gone. Elderly people who had worked and saved all their lives were left with nothing. Their children, if they had any, were struggling, too. Social Security was designed to ensure that people who did a lifetime of honest work would not be left with nothing. It may not be much, but it's more than nothing.

Many large companies no longer fund employee retirement. They instead "give" the employees X dollars a year that the employees are to invest themselves in 401Ks or IRAs. And let's pretend Social Security had been privatized several years ago. Being a good little investor, you had diversified. You put
1/6 of your total funds into Lehman Brothers,
1/6 into Merrill Lynch,
1/6 into an annuity with American International Group,
1/6 into a Bear Stearns account,
1/6 into Fannie Mae stock, and
1/6 into Freddie Mac stock,
all good big sturdy companies.
You intended to retire at the end of this year.


Social Security isn't much, but it's a whole lot more than NOTHING!

Some of those investments will be completely lost. Some will eventually recover, but it could take a decade. You will be forced to work until they (if you still have a job) fold, spindle, and mutilate you into the grave. And forget a decent salary. Do you know who many people your age are desperate for any job?

Aren't you glad there's a Wal-Mart just down the street?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

2010 Afternoon with police and housebreaking

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I had a lot of things to do this afternoon, but didn't get to any of it.

Back in July I had gone to NJ's annual Moonlight Madness, and discovered that she had been diagnosed with colon cancer, was on chemo, and was scheduled for radiation and surgery in mid-August. The next morning I called and left a phone message to offer my assistance in any way she could use it. She didn't respond. A few days later I heard that several people had called or emailed her, and they also did not get a response. Of course after the party the news had spread like wildfire, and I can understand her choosing not to listen to phone messages. Too much "Oh you poor thing" can really drag you down. So I sent an email with the same offer, and again got no response.

Time passed. Surgery time passed. Emails were zipping around the group asking if anyone knew what was happening. We were all shocked to find that her best friend, Les, didn't know anything either. He didn't know what hospital she'd be in. Nothing.

I figured that if she was communicating with no one, that was her choice, and she's entitled to it. She has a daughter that lives fairly close, so I figured she was with her daughter. No one knew her daughter's name, so we couldn't check.

I got a phone call this afternoon from May. I've mentioned May before, but not in a very long time. May is the one who rarely leaves her house, and is quietly drinking herself to death. She's only two years older than I, but she has decided that she's ready to die. Her main topic of conversation these days is her funeral arrangements.

May told me that she was convinced that NJ was lying dead on the floor in her house. The mansion that NJ had lived in for so many years had been sold last year, and NJ had moved into a cute little house at the end of a steep potholed dirt private road, on the banks of the Hudson River. May kept saying "She'd stink for a month before anyone discovered her!" May had called the county police and asked them to check NJ's house, but she wasn't sure they'd actually do it.

I said ok, I'll go and check myself.

Thirty miles later, I found NJ's car and two police cruisers in NJ's driveway, and her front door open. The fire department heavy rescue truck had just left (the heavy rescue truck is the one that carries all the fancy equipment, like the "jaws of life", saws, super power wrenches, and so on - a safe-cracker's wet dream).

The deputies weren't completely sure what the story was, so I filled them in. They had arrived to find the house closed up, so they had the fire department, with their ladders, come and locate a window that wasn't latched. They went in through the window. They said that the electric company said the power had been shut off a month ago.

I told them NJ had a daughter, but we didn't know what her name was. They searched the house and car, and all they found was a "Happy Birthday, Mom" card, without an address, but it at least gave us a first name. It was an unusual first name.

On that flimsy information, and access to data bases that we poor mortals can't reach, they actually found the daughter, and called her! She confirmed that her mother was in a particular hospital. The deputy explained what was going on, that they had checked the house because her friends had been worried, that they were locking the house up again, and that when the daughter visited the house next, she should latch the window they had found unlatched and entered through. It was all pretty nifty.

But I was left with a bit of a dilemma. I now know where NJ is. I think it's obvious that NJ would prefer not to be found. I told the deputies that I would pass the word that she is being well cared for, but we should not tell anyone where. I don't think she wants people to know.

I drove home, and was in the process of composing a broadcast email to that effect, when May called again. She had called the police, and they had TOLD HER where NJ was. She had then called the hospital, who told her that NJ "is not up to receiving visitors or talking on the phone."

ACK!!! Of all the people in the world, I suspect that May may be one of the last NJ would want to know. She's very sweet when she's sober (well, when she's drunk, too) but she can be TOO helpful, if you know what I mean. And her favorite topic of conversation is depressing.

I convinced her that I am pretty sure NJ would not want that info disseminated. We should keep it quiet. It's enough for people to know that NJ is being well cared for. We overstepped already by breaking into her house. NJ will contact people herself when she's ready.

Les doesn't have email, so May said she'd call him and fill him in, but promised she wouldn't tell him which hospital.

There followed a flurry of phone calls, including one from Les asking for a translation of May's call, and another flurry of emails.

NJ is the treasurer for the local Mensa group, and apparently she didn't turn over the books or assign an alternate signator before she dropped out of sight. So I got pretty miffed when one of our members (ok, Zig) tried to hint that since I know where she is, I should try to get the books. Or maybe I read him wrong. Whatever. I responded that they should forget getting anything from NJ. Pretend she has eloped to Tahiti. I hope y'all have a Plan B. Implement it.

2009 A Letter dated 8/17/01

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is the third note I found in Jay's father's files. It is an email that I sent to all of his family and friends. His father did not use email, so I sent him a printout of it.

If you might ever be faced with a decision as to whether to go with Hospice or not, read this.

This is only nine days after the previous letter.


August 17, 2001

Dear Folks,

The past week has been very busy.

The insurance case-manager has been urging me to consider Hospice, but I didn't want to for a plethora of reasons: We'd had bad experiences with a local home nursing service. I'd been to a seminar where I got the impression that Hospice's main thrust was spiritual and emotional support (do-gooders, which I find more annoying than helpful). Jay considers Hospice giving up, and he won't give up, and I would feel like I was betraying him if I called in the "give-up team". Lastly, the only thing I could find in the insurance contract that seemed to even remotely relate to Hospice was under the heading "Home Nursing Care", and it explicitly stated that the insurance covered no services "that could be performed by a family member" - which meant that I wasn't going to get respite, bits of time off, from the insurance, just skilled nursing services, which I happened to enjoy doing for Jay anyway, so why repeat the bad visiting nurse experience for no reason.

But about two weeks ago I realized I was going to need some help soon. We will need a medically skilled sitter so I can get the vehicles inspected, a mammogram, a trip to the optometrist, the lawn mower fixed, some shopping beyond what's available for delivery, and so on. I also need advice on stuff like, for example, how to get medicine into him during those times when I can't get him to swallow the pills. (The regular doctor's nurses try to help by telephone, but they haven't seen Jay lately, and they don't really understand what we're dealing with.) There is only one place I am likely to find all this.

So I called Hospice and asked for an information packet.

Last Friday the insurance case manager called to ask how Jay was doing, and I told her I had made the call to Hospice but had not yet received anything. She said she'd nudge them. By that evening I had an appointment (here) with a Hospice nurse on the next Tuesday, and it's been a whirlwind since. The packet I had requested also arrived on Tuesday.

What I hadn't realized is that Hospice takes over entirely. On Tuesday the intake nurse told me that they have their own doctor who works in concert with our chosen doctors. They provide ALL the equipment - from the hospital bed and the oxygen concentrator to the mouth swabs and bed pads, and all the prescriptions. No more co-pays for meds or equipment, which is significant, because our share of the [reciprocating, pneumatic, to prevent bed sores] air mattress alone was $190 a month, and the oxygen concentrator was $150. Plus the Hoyer lift, wheelchair, overbed table, all the nits that were nickel-and-dime-ing us to distraction. The only co-pay is a flat $70 a week. We get a social worker who will find out all kinds of stuff for us, a nurse who comes twice a week to check and evaluate him, and is available for advice 24 hours, and an aide who will be here from 3:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday. (My first thought when I heard that was "what on earth am I going to do with her for two hours every day?") I can leave when the aide is here. She can give him sponge baths, massage his back and feet, read to him, do his mouthcare, change the bed, and so on. If I need more time out, they will send a trained volunteer to sit with him. [Housekeeping assistance was also available. I could have a maid once a week! I turned that down.]

We are allowed a total of 271 days of care during periods when he is not getting aggressive treatment, and we can drop out and back in at any time - which means we could have used Hospice during the "rest periods" between treatments (but of course I'd have been afraid of using it up too soon.) Hospice doesn't "do" things like artificial feeding, for example, it's considered aggressive, but if we want something like that, we'd drop out for the day or two that it would take to get the IV or feeding tube or whatever, and then he'd come back in with the system in place, and they'd absorb and maintain it.

I expressed surprise because the insurance contract was so restrictive under "Home Health Care", and she said this is an entirely different contract, that I apparently don't have a copy of. (Huyh? Oh well, accept, don't look the gift horse....)

Wednesday the registered nurse came and examined him, took the history, gave advice, and set up delivery of everything. Even the meds are delivered to the door. Thursday the social worker and the aide came, and while the sw and I talked in the kitchen, the aide bathed Jay and handled two "accidents" resulting in laundry (she really moved right in and took over, nothing fazed her!) Today, Friday, I had an opportunity to talk with the aide while she massaged Jay's feet, and I think I won't be too nervous about leaving her alone here.

So, things are looking a lot more manageable.

M[youngest sister], I have returned all but two of the last set of library books on tape that you sent us. He is now working on "A Passion to Know...", which is thumbnail biographies of many famous scientists and Nobel Prize winners, with the stories of how they arrived at their great discoveries. It turns out to be the perfect book for him right now. The science is not so technical that he has to work to understand, and he can fall asleep, wake up later, and enjoy some more without having lost any plot. We can even play it over and over, and catch what he missed, or get more out of what he'd already heard. He's not communicating very well right now, but I can tell he likes it because he really does try to stay awake. Excellent choice!



Again, this reminded me of things I had forgotten.

We had medical insurance through my retiree benefits from The Company. When Jay was first diagnosed, I realized that we had no information whatsoever on exactly what was covered under our insurance, and what was not. Medical care was fully funded by The Company, but was administered by a national health care insurance company. So who decided what was covered, and how much? The only information we had was about co-pays for doctor visits and prescriptions, things like that.

I called The Company HR and asked. Believe it or not, they didn't know. I asked for a copy of the contract, and was told that the contract was "in negotiation" and was not yet available. I pointed out that I was paying a portion of the premium, and had a right to know what I was paying for. Believe it or not again, it took a year to get it in writing what our coverage included, and as stated above, there was no mention of Hospice, the "separate contract".

Even though with Hospice I was able to get out of the bedroom for a few hours a day, it turned out that I was not able to go further than the village unless the twice-weekly nurse was able to extend her visit. One of the most dangerous things for Jay was seizures. If he started having seizures one after another in rapid succession, or a long extended seizure, it could kill him. So we had a syringe in the refrigerator filled with something-or-other which I would have to give him if he started seizing. It had to be given within ten minutes of the start. The aide was not allowed to inject him. Therefore I couldn't be more than 10 minutes from the house, so that if he started she could call me to come home and stop it. It was still a relief to be able to leave the bedroom, even if I couldn't get anything done.

As to Jay seeing Hospice as giving up, I explained the "drop in, drop out" aspect, and that satisfied him. It was just a temporary thing to help me.

He died at the end of October. He stopped fighting on 9/11/2001, when he realized he was unable to protect me, and slid rapidly after that.

2008 A Letter dated 8/8/01

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is the second letter I found in Jay's father's files. In August of 2001, Jay was three years into the brain cancer battle. His father called twice a week to talk with Jay. He wasn't a stupid man, but he couldn't seem to understand that Jay had no short-term memory, was blind and hemi-paralyzed, completely bedridden, pretty much incapable of logical or coherent thought, suffering frequent bouts of confusion, delusion, and hallucination, and that Jay was unaware that we had ceased active treatment.

Jay's father seemed in complete and total denial.

He kept urging that Jay concentrate on his physical therapy, get stronger, do crossword puzzles to keep his mind sharp, and so on. He tried to discuss scientific ideas and theories. I know he was trying to be encouraging, but what he encouraged was impossible, and Jay was always very upset and confused after phone conversations with his father.

This was my attempt to set him straight. I was tough and blunt.

Again, "[ ]" is today's edits.


August 8, 2001

Dear Dad,

I'm never quite sure how much Jay hears or understands, so I'm more comfortable writing than calling. [I couldn't leave Jay alone for more than three or four minutes, or he panicked because he didn't know where I was, and he was sleeping only minutes at a time, so a call would have had to have been made from our bedroom.] I need to tell you what Jay's status is right now.

He has had three craniotomies, 35 sessions of fractionated radiotherapy, one steriotactic radiosurgery, 5 or 6 different chemotherapies, and immunotherapy. He's had everything medical science has to offer for his type of tumor. We knew from the start that malignant brain tumors are so far incurable, but there's a lot of research going on, so we figured we'd just try to keep him going as long as possible and maybe we'd be there for the great breakthrough.

He is now on his fifth recurrence. Most people don't make it past the second. A few make it to the third. Almost no one makes it to the fourth. So Jay has been very exceptional. It's been a heroic effort, and throughout it all, he has never whined or complained. We've made it this far only because he has been very good at following orders, and I've been vigilant and very aggressive. Throughout it all, we have maintained a positive attitude (Jay more so than I, because I tend to be more realistic).

But it's easy to tip over from positive to denial. I will let Jay be in denial right now, but I have to be realistic.

The immunotherapy worked very well. The researchers are happy with the results Jay has shown, because he proved that they can get the white cells to attack his type of tumor. However, in Jay's particular case, the tumor was just plain too fast. For every cell that was killed, another divided. When I talked with Dr. H[---], she said that continuing with the immunotherapy would probably be no longer effective, plus he is too weak to withstand more anyway. She recommended another debulking surgery and another radiosurgery. I sent the MRIs to Albany for another opinion, and Dr. W[---] and Dr. P[---] agree with me, that another surgery would not do any good - in fact would probably hurt more than help.

Look at your closed fist. That's what the tumor looked like for the first two surgeries. Now close the fist and stick out the thumb. That was the third surgery. He lost a lot of cognitive function in that surgery (numbers, dates, spatial relationships, ability to read a map, control of his left side, awareness of the left side of the world, etc.) Now open your fist and spread the fingers out wide. That's what the tumor looks like now. The material between the fingers may or may not be functioning.

Dr. W[---] says that the tumor now involves up to 3/4 of the right hemisphere and she doesn't know of any surgeon who would be willing to remove that much for so little potential benefit. If he survived the surgery, there would probably be very little "Jay" left. (The problems are not just on the right. There is so much pressure that the midline of the brain is deviated, causing pressure on the left hemisphere, and the brain sinuses are blocked so that fluid tends to build up on the left as well as on the right side of the brain.)

Dr. W[---] also agreed with me that the area involved is much too large for radiosurgery to be effective.

Jay's neurological status is so deteriorated at this point that he is no longer eligible for clinical trials (except the phase 1 dose-escalation trials where they keep giving more and more until they find the point where the patient is poisoned - they like terminal patients for those).

So, there is nothing more we can do.

When you call, don't ask Jay about treatments. I haven't told him that there's nothing more. He doesn't notice the passage of time, doesn't notice we're not doing anything, and I'd prefer to keep him that way. There's no point in upsetting him.

We had been doing the physical therapy exercises, but he was deteriorating so fast that there didn't seem to be any point any longer. It was becoming increasingly hard on my back and increasingly more painful and frustrating for him, and so we often ended up yelling at each other. One has to consider WHY we do these things, is the benefit worth the price, and given his prognosis the answer is an emphatic NO! So please don't ask about physical therapy, either. He isn't going to get any stronger, isn't going to sit up let alone walk again, so let's not remind him.

He does listen to the TV and his talking books, but I'm not sure how much or what sort of information he gets from them. In the "Magic Mirror" book, there was a newspaper man who was described as sloppy and hulking and constantly smelling of whiskey and tobacco [ Dad was skinny, never smoked and did not drink whiskey]. But because the story took place in Paris, in environs familiar to you, Jay decided that the character was you - and wondered how the author had got to know you. He wondered why you had never mentioned this murder in the museum that you had been involved in. Just this morning, he heard a voice on the telephone on TV, and decided it was you. Not that it sounded like you, that it was you. He wondered why you were calling a psychic reader.

So I'm not sure how much he absorbs. He listens to the news, but none of it matters to him. I get lonely sometimes because there are things I want to get indignant about or marvel at, and it's no use saying anything to him about it. He mostly doesn't understand.

I also get frustrated because every time I buy him something, within a week he is no longer able to use it - from the lighted magnifier just before his sight winked out, to the pedal-pusher he can't coordinate, the $400 gel cushion for the wheelchair which he used only twice, and the electric-ramp van he was able to ride in only a month. It feels like my buying him stuff causes him to deteriorate to where it becomes useless.

Right now he is a rag doll. He can't roll over in bed. I lift him over. [Daughter] marvels at the muscle development in my forearms. He can't hold his head up straight - it's turned to the right and tilted right. To feed him or give him something to drink, I have to support his head with my shoulder. He can't take pills any more, I crush the dexamethasone and mix it into jello or pudding, and we finally got liquid Dilantin.

He has a severe case of thrush (oral candida albicans). We got some medicine for it, but it makes him throw up (projectile), and that's too dangerous because he inhales the vomit. So I've been treating it by painting his mouth with gentian violet - but now he can't hold his mouth open or his tongue still enough for that, so I don't know what to do. We could try swishing with 1-3 part hydrogen peroxide, but he can't "swish and spit" - more than half the time he swallows it. How dangerous is that? I don't know, but I suspect it's no good. But - that's the least of the problems.

Well, that's all the facts. I need to get this into the mail. (Since I can't leave Jay alone, mail comes in and goes out with the nurse who comes once a week for his Dilantin levels.)

The main purpose of this was to fill you in, and to ask you not to draw Jay's attention to what's not happening. To level-set you.

When you call, probably the best things to talk about with him are good times from the past - like "Remember the time we went to...", "Remember when we built the...", "Remember So-and-so? Well, now he's...". His long-term memory is still in pretty good shape, and it might lift his spirits a little. (Short-term memory and logic, any thinking that requires work, is out the window---)

Nurse is here.



The letter had no effect. His father continued to upset Jay.

Monday, September 15, 2008

2007 A Letter dated 3/19/99

Monday, September 15, 2008

When I visited Rochester to help get the house ready to sell after Jay's father died, I found three letters in his files that I had written to him during Jay's illness.

I was happy to find them, because I had lost all the copies of letters and emails stored on the computer for the entire period of Jay's illness - and that was pretty much the whole record.

I've decided to type them into this journal. They'll be safe here for a while. "[---]" indicates today's edits.


March 18, 1999

Dear Folks (Dad and Sisters),

I've been making Jay make the "I'm fine" calls because it's good for him, and you'd be more likely to believe it if you hear it from him rather than me. He's shy about talking on the telephone, so I rarely listen in, so I don't really know how much Jay has told you about what's going on with him. His way of handling problems is to not think about it - ignore it and maybe it will go away. (My way is to research it until I know everything, and then club it until it runs away.) So I suspect that you have got very little detail from him.

So, in case you're like me and want all the details, here it is. For every bit of bad news there's good news.

Last October, he had a seizure after stepping out of the shower. EMTs, ambulance, stretcher, another seizure in the emergency room, three days in the hospital. They could find no clear reason for the seizures, but they put him on Dilantin and told him he couldn't drive for six months. An MRI later in the week showed a tiny pinpoint of light on the right side (which could easily have been missed if it had fallen between the "imaging slices"), which was tentatively diagnosed as possibly a minor stroke.

At the end of January he had a followup MRI. The pinpoint was now about two inches across. We saw the neurologist in [town], Dr. G[---], the next day, a Friday, and on Monday we saw the chief of neurosurgery at Albany Medical Center, Dr. P[---]. Dr. P[---] wanted to operate immediately, but Jay had been taking baby aspirin for his heart, and we had to wait until the aspirin was out of his system, so the surgery was scheduled for Tuesday of the next week. I didn't think about it then, but now I am impressed with how quickly all these otherwise "impossible to see" people became available to us.

The initial diagnosis after the surgery was malignant mixed glioma, in the right parietal region. "Mixed" means that there were several kinds of cells involved. The Glia is the supporting tissue of the brain. Dr. P[---] removed the tumor plus a margin of clear tissue, down to "microscopically clean" edges. But you can't look at every single cell, so although he feels very positive, he can give no guarantees. The pathology report says high grade oligo-astrocytoma. Oligodendrocytes and astrocytes are the cells that make up the glia. High grade means it is aggressive (growing fast) and invasive (growing into and replacing normal brain tissue), and looks very different from normal cells. The tumor had vascular parts, solid parts, necrotic areas, and fluid areas, a very odd tumor altogether. (If we had sent Jay to the lab with orders to design a tumor, this is exactly what he'd come up with.)

That's all bad news. The good news is that we got one of the best brain surgeons in the state, and it was a miracle that the tiny pinpoint must have hit a critical area that threw off the seizures. Jay had no other symptoms, so without the seizures, we may not have caught it until too late. The doctors said it's obvious that the part of his brain invaded by the tumor was not functioning before the tumor, because it sure wasn't after. Dr. P[---] had warned me that he would have to remove possibly functioning tissue also, and he could not predict the results - the most likely being left-side paralysis. They are now amazed that he seems not to miss six or eight cubic inches of brain. After a five hour surgery, within a half hour out of the operating room he was helping the nurses set up his CPAP machine (for his sleep apnea).

The nurses, by the way, loved Jay. In a lot of ways he's never grown up. He still has a ten-year-old's curiosity and enthusiasms (not to mention sense of humor). And when anybody comes at him with a needle, he even looks ten years old. In a guy so big, it's endearing.

The oncologist, Dr. W[---], is not as positive as the surgeon, but I guess that's the nature of her job. She says the good news is that this type of tumor is local and does not metastasize. The bad news is that it always recurs. She recommends chemotherapy, specifically a phase 2 clinical trial of intensive high-dose chemotherapy with bone-marrow transplant. Standard chemotherapy can buy time, but will not eradicate the tumor remnants. Intensive chemo is considered the best treatment because the blood/brain barrier makes it difficult to get the standard chemo dosages into the brain, and with intensified more will get through. That's the theory, anyway.

I've been reading up on it. The protocol is currently the preferred treatment for brain cancer, and is in phase 2 clinical trial at Harvard/Mass. General, Sloan-Kettering, and several other cancer centers. (It's the same protocol that has recently been tried for breast cancer, now in the news because it doesn't seem to be clearly better than the standard treatments for breast cancer, and given that it's twice the cost and some people don't survive the treatment itself, a forthcoming report is going to "unrecommend" it.)

The prognosis for brain cancer is, in general, absolutely miserable (it's the most common childhood cancer, and the childhood and geriatric numbers depress the totals). No one will give a specific prognosis for an adult individual because the brain itself is so unique for each person, besides the usual differences in timing, location, condition, operability, makeup of the tumor, etc. According to my reading, the astrocytes tend to be the more aggressive, and are not very responsive to chemotherapy. A pure astrocytoma is very dangerous. The oligodendrocytes are usually susceptible to chemo. The doctors don't know why, but when you go after the oligos in a mixed tumor, it kills the astros, too. Jay and I theorize that maybe the bad oligos put out a chemical that encourages the astros to grow, and without the bad oligos, the bad astros die off. So Jay's lucky there, too. His tumor had a "significant oligo component". (By the way, if you happen to come across any brain tumor material, there's a tumor called a "grade IV glioblastoma multiforme" (GBM), whose description is very close to Jay's tumor. It will give you nightmares. I couldn't sleep for three nights after coming across it on the internet, but the difference is in the structure of the nuclei, and that definitely is not what he has.)

From what I've read, we've been through the easy part. The protocol he has signed up for is rough.

It's been six weeks since his surgery, and I'm starting to get anxious -- the tumor grew so fast between October and January. The first three weeks after surgery they said he had to be completely healed before chemo, since chemo kills dividing cells, and will halt all healing. Then, his jaw hurt. The temporal muscles had been cut in surgery, so some ache there was to be expected, but when it didn't stop, we discovered it was an abscessed tooth. It took another two weeks to accomplish a root canal. He couldn't start chemo with a pocket of infection. This past week we've been waiting for the results from some special blood tests (why couldn't they have been ordered earlier?) and meeting more doctors. I hope we really get moving next week.

First step will be collection of stem cells from Jay's bone marrow. They will teach me how to give him injections, and then I'll be giving him shots of some stuff for several days that will cause his marrow to release stem cells to the blood. Then they hook him up to a machine and circulate his blood through to collect the stem cells (apheresis), and store them for later.

He will then go through two cycles of intensive PVC chemotherapy (Procarbazine, CCNU (aka Lomustine), and Vincristine, some intravenously and some by tablet). A cycle is about 42 days - the first 29 days getting some form of chemo followed by 13 days recovery time. They gave us a list of side effects, then pointed out that since he'll be getting about 25% higher dose than normal (the "intensive" part, designed to get a larger proportion to the brain), "many of them are expected to occur". Jay seems to be most worried about loss of hair (the man is emotionally involved with his BEARD!) I'm most worried about his immune system being depressed. And if he's too tired to work, that will mentally depress him (he doesn't get paid if he doesn't work - not a problem, really, but the idea will depress him.)

After two cycles they'll look (MRI) to see if the chemo is working -- i.e. no tumor growth. If there is growth, they'll stop the chemo and go to some other therapy, probably radiation (which seems to scare Jay) or a biological therapy. If the brain seems to be responding to the chemo, then we'll continue with one or two more cycles. As we go along with the cycles, the chemo will be damaging his bone marrow, he'll become more and more susceptible to infection, and will need more and more protecting - much more than the average chemotherapy patient. I intend to be fierce. By the third cycle he will be my prisoner!

There are dietary restrictions associated with one of the meds - I don't have it at hand right now - but no bananas, aged cheeses, pickles, certain breads, certain meats, etc. In the later cycles, he won't be able to have fresh vegetables (and especially not raw, because of bacteria), anything with a possibility of fungus, and so on.

He will then (assuming he has passed all the tests so far) enter the hospital for a few weeks. He'll be in a private room in an isolation ward, with air exchangers to eliminate germs, and a lot of restrictions. I will be allowed to visit, but they'll practically sterilize me before I'm allowed in. No other visitors. They will give him a high dose of Thiopeta, a powerful chemotherapy drug, intravenously, for 72 hours. This will unfortunately totally wipe out his bone marrow, leaving him with no immune system. About four days after that, they will give him his stored stem cells back. The stem cells travel to the bone marrow, settle down, and start raising families again. They will keep him isolated until he starts producing leukocytes and stuff again, usually two or three weeks.

Then he comes home, and the waiting time starts.

The mortality rate nationally for infection after this procedure is 5%. Albany Med has done something like 300 marrow transplants of this type over the past 5 years (mostly for leukemia), and have lost between 2 and 3% to infection, but have lost none at all in the past two years. Jay's immune system will be depressed for up to a year after. He will have lost all of his hard-acquired immunities. He'll need to have all his baby shots again. He'll have to be protected from bacteria, fungi, and viruses for up to a year afterward. There's a one-in-three chance he'll get shingles sometime in the first three months. There will be another, stricter, diet to avoid fungi and bacteria. The GOOD news is that he'll probably lose all his allergies, too.

He'll have MRIs every three months for a year, then every six months thereafter.

As I said, Jay's way to handle all this is to ignore it all. I just tell him where he has to be and when. I'd be happier if I could get him into imaging and stuff, but his way is to bury himself in work and computer games. The first few weeks, THE TUMOR was the only topic of conversation - everything came back to it - every other story on the news was someone else with cancer. It got to where I declared cancer-free days. No mention allowed! Now, we're pretty much back to normal. I'm nagging him to fix the hot water heater and do the taxes, etc., before the chemo starts. I'm worried that he will get tired. He plays computer games. Like I said, back to normal.

So that's the plan. Now I turn you back to Jay for periodic updates.



This letter kicked off some memories. Like the day after his first surgery, when we first met the oncologist, Dr. W[---]. She said the tumor was "mixed. That means different kinds of cells." I asked "What kind of cells, exactly?" and she answered, "That's not something you need to know. It wouldn't mean anything to you anyway."

Well, when she said that, Jay tensed, gasped, his eyes got big, and he glanced sideways at me. She obviously didn't know who she was talking to. NOBODY says something like that to ME! I didn't explode. I just said "Why don't you tell me anyway." She did, and she quickly learned that I not only understood, but I was capable of drawing conclusions. I guess they don't see that very often.

Jay went through three cycles of the intense chemotherapy, but we never made it to the marrow transplant. He had none of the expected side effects. None. His immune system was only slightly depressed. All of which leads me to wonder if it was intense enough. After the third cycle they did an MRI, and he had no sign of recurrence, so they scheduled him for the transplant about six weeks hence. But about four weeks into the six weeks, I noticed something odd about him, and requested another MRI. It had been only a month since the previous MRI, but Dr. W[---] had learned to listen to me, so they did the MRI - and the tumor was back. Instead of the marrow transplant, he had another surgery, followed by a different chemotherapy.

Reading about the diet reminded me of an incident a few years after Jay died. I had gone to Rochester to visit his father. One of his sisters was also visiting. She and I were in the grocery store, in the fresh vegetable section, when she made some comment that my not feeding Jay fresh vegetables probably weakened him and contributed to his recurrence. I totally lost it. I screamed at her and cried. That absolutely isn't me to react like that, but she had no right to say anything like that. She knew NOTHING about what we were dealing with!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

2006 Sat Nite Live

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In case you missed it last night, S. Palin & H. Clinton, together:

2005 Tasting

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I went to Taste of New Paltz today. A large number of local restaurants set up booths serving their specialties.

"Taste" my eye! It was $5 to get into the fair grounds, then you had to buy tickets at $1 each to trade for food. Most of the food took 2 or 3 tickets.

I'd never been to this particular event before, but I had been to "taste"s at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. There you paid a bit more to get in, but then all the goodies were free, and they were truly tastes, just a tiny bit, like a forkful or two, so you could taste 20 or 30 different things without filling up.

At New Paltz, I knew I was in trouble at my very first stop, pulled pork. An entire sandwich worth. At another booth I got New England clam chowder, a good 10 ounces. Then some delicious mixed mushrooms in a wine and garlic sauce on bread that soaked up the yummy sauce. I'm not a big eater. I always take doggy bags home from restaurants. Today I ate the equivalent of five full meals.

Of the fifty or so options, I chose well, I guess. Everything was very good.

The first person I ran into was Nat. He's like 6'9" tall and skinny. He was volunteering at ticket sales and was about to go back on duty, but Angie was about to come off duty, so I walked with him over to where Angie was. We got some odd looks. We do look strange together.

Angie and I wandered around booths and displays until she had to go back on duty. While wandering, we found Andie, also volunteering at a booth, and ran into The Pixie and her Dark Prince. I kept an eye out for Gypsy, whom I half expected to be there, but I didn't see her.

It's very unusual for me to see anyone I know at these things.


It has been very cold at night lately. Days get into the low 70s, but that's not enough to warm up the house to get through the night, so Friday I gave in and turned the furnace on (threw all the switches, climbed ladders and swapped all the baffles and dampers, closed off water and opened up oil).

I expected today to be like the past few days, so I wore closed shoes and knee socks, slacks, and a 3/4 sleeve knit top.

When I parked at the fair grounds (an hour from here) it was already 87 degrees. When I left, it was 99 degrees. Midday I had sweat running into my eyes. I can't imagine what it was like for all those people cooking in the booths.


I also got another Tarot reading at the Tasting. It was different in several aspects from the previous two, but all three readings have mentioned something significant happening with The Man in late October. On one hand, I'll be awfully disappointed when October passes with nothing significant happening, but on the other hand, whatever happens may not be good. "An offer will be made that I will turn down, and we will argue." (I can't imagine arguing with him. We don't argue. One or the other may get annoyed or angry, we explain our positions, one or the other apologizes and agrees to be more sensitive to that issue, and we reach some kind of compromise. No argument.)

All three also mentioned something significant happening with my house - major renovations (the A/C?) and/or probably a move. Hmmmm. I can't imagine moving, either.

So, stay tuned for late October.