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  4. <title>Kelvin's Web - RSS Feed (XML)</title>
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  6. <atom:link href="" rel="self" type="application/rss+xml" />
  7. <description>RSS Feed from Kelvin Lawrence's Web Page</description>
  8. <language>en-us</language>
  9. <pubDate>Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:38:45 CST</pubDate>
  10. <lastBuildDate>Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:38:45 CST</lastBuildDate>
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  12. <url></url>
  13. <title>Kelvin's Web - RSS Feed (XML)</title>
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  17. <item>
  18. <title>25 Years of the World Wide Web</title>
  19. <category domain="">technology</category>
  20. <link></link>
  21. <description>
  22. <![CDATA[
  23. <p>I have been so busy that I am a few days late putting this post
  24.  together but hopefully better late than never! <br>
  25. </p>
  26. <p>A few days ago, hard though it is to believe, the Worldwide Web,
  27. that so many of us take for granted these days, celebrated it's <a
  28.  href="">25th anniversary.</a> Created in
  29. 1989 by <a href="">Sir Tim
  30.  Berners-Lee</a> , for many of us, "Web" has become as essential
  31. in our daily lives as electricity or natural gas. Built from its
  32. earliest days upon the notion of open standards the Web has become
  33. the information backbone of our current society. My first
  34. exposure, that I can remember, to the concept of the Web was in
  35. the early 1990s when I was part of the OS/2 team at IBM and we put
  36. one of the earliest browsers, Web Explorer, into the operating
  37. system and shipped it. Back then, an HTML web page was little more
  38. than text, images, animated GIFs and most importantly of all
  39. hyperlinks. I was also involved with the team that did some of the
  40. early ports of Netscape Navigator to OS/2 and I still recall being
  41. blown away by some of what I saw that team doing upon some of my
  42. many visits to Netscape in California what seems like a lifetime
  43. ago now!</p>
  44. <p>&nbsp;From those modest but still highly effective beginnings,
  45. the Web and most importantly perhaps, the Web browser, has evolved
  46. into the complete business and entertainment platform that it is
  47. today.<br>
  48. <br><br>
  49. The Web, and open standards, have been part of my personal and
  50. work life ever since. I am honored to have been a small part of
  51. the evolution of the web myself. I have worked on a number of
  52. different projects with great people from all over the World under
  53. the auspices of the <a href="">W3C</a> for
  54. longer than I care to remember! I have done a lot of fun things in
  55. my career, but one of the highlights was definitely working with
  56. so many talented people on the original <a href="">Scalable Vector Graphics
  57. (SVG)</a> specification which is now supported by most of the
  58. major browsers and of course you can find my<a href=""> library of SVG</a>samples here on my site.
  59. </p>
  60. <p>It is also so fitting that the latest evolution of Web
  61. technology, the finished HTML 5 specification <a href="">was announced</a>
  62. to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Web.<br>
  63. </p>
  64. <p>I could write so much more about what the Web has meant to me but
  65. most of all I think my fondest memory will always be all of the
  66. great friends I have met and the large number of very talented
  67. people that I have had the good fortune to work with through our
  68. joint passion to make the Web a better and even more open, place.<br>
  69. </p>
  70. <p>Happy (slightly belated) Birthday Worldwide Web and here's to the next 25!<br>
  71. </p>            
  72. ]]>
  73. </description>
  74. <pubDate>Tue, 18 Nov 2014 09:38:45 CST</pubDate>
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  76. </item>
  79. <item>
  80. <title>Asian Tiger Mosquitoes</title>
  81. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  82. <link></link>
  83. <description>
  84. <![CDATA[
  85. <p>The weather has been unusually cold for the time of year the last
  86. day or so. I was actually hoping that if we get a hard freeze it
  87. will kill off for now the Asian Tiger mosquitoes that we have been
  88. overrun with this year. However I have my doubts as apparently,
  89. unlike other mosquitoes, their eggs, which they lay in vegetation
  90. and standing water, can survive a harsh winter. They apparently
  91. got into the USA in a shipment of waterlogged tires (tyres for my
  92. UK friends) some time ago and they are now spreading more broadly.
  93. They are covered in black and white stripes and look quite
  94. different than the regular "brown" colored mosquitoes we are used
  95. to seeing here. They are also a lot more aggressive. They bite all
  96. day long (not just at dusk) and even bite animals but definitely
  97. prefer humans. It has got so bad that we have had to pay to have
  98. our yard sprayed regularly almost all year so that we even have a
  99. chance to sit outside and enjoy our yard. These nasty little guys
  100. also transmit the chikungunya virus for which I currently believe        
  101. there is no vaccine. It's not usually fatal but does have some
  102. nasty symptoms if you are unlucky enough to catch it. Here's a
  103. link to a <a href="">WebMD
  104. write up</a> on these little nasties.
  105. </p>                                        
  106. ]]>
  107. </description>
  108. <pubDate>Thu, 13 Nov 2014 00:00:01 CST</pubDate>
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  110. </item>
  112. <item>
  113. <title>Pink Floyd's Endless River - The End of an Era</title>
  114. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  115. <link></link>
  116. <description>
  117. <![CDATA[
  118. <p>I just purchased the new Pink Floyd CD from Amazon which includes
  119. a free digital download as well. I have been listening to it while
  120. I work today. Given the way the album was put together (using
  121. material the late Richard Wright recorded almost 20 years ago
  122. during the making of The Division Bell) much of the music is
  123. immediately familiar. I definitely also hear flashbacks to Wish
  124. You Were Here, Dark Side of the Moon and many other albums as
  125. well. It's mostly instrumental and there is a lot of it - four sides if
  126. you buy the vinyl version!! A lot of the music has an almost
  127. eerie tone to it - definitely a good one for the headphones with
  128. the lights off. It's a really good listen but left me feeling
  129. sad in a way, in a good way I guess, as much of their music has
  130. been the backdrop to the last 40 years or so of my life and this
  131. is definitely the end of a musical era as supposedly this is the
  132. last album the band plan to release. It has a bit of everything
  133. for Pink Floyd fans, especially those who like some of the "more
  134. recent" albums. Don't expect a bunch of rocking songs that you
  135. will be humming along to all day but as a complete work,
  136. listened to end to end, I found it very moving. Very much not
  137. your modern day pop tune and thank goodness for that!</p>
  138. ]]>
  139. </description>
  140. <pubDate>Wed, 12 Nov 2014 00:00:01 CST</pubDate>
  141. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  142. </item>
  144. <item>
  145. <title>Seven years post cancer surgery</title>
  146. <category domain="">medical</category>
  147. <link></link>
  148. <description>
  149. <![CDATA[
  150. <p>Today marks another big milestone for me. It has now been seven
  151. years since my cancer surgery. As always, I am grateful for all of
  152. my family, friends and doctors and every minute that I get to
  153. spend with them.<br>
  154. </p>
  155. ]]>
  156. </description>
  157. <pubDate>Sun, 26 Oct 2014 00:00:01 CDT</pubDate>
  158. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  159. </item>
  161. <item>
  162. <title>A few thoughts from a fairly social, open source and standards guy.</title>
  163. <category domain="">open-technology</category>
  164. <link></link>
  165. <description>
  166. <![CDATA[
  167. <p> <img alt="Computer superimposed on the Earth in space"
  169.    src="" align="left" height="168"
  171.        hspace="10" width="177">Software development has always been a
  173.      field where there is something new to learn. To be honest, if it
  175.      wasn't I would probably have found a new profession a long time
  177.      ago. Like many people I love to learn new things. That said, these
  179.      days, more than ever before, I find myself not just wanting, but
  181.      needing, to learn new things to keep up with the rate and pace of
  183.      change in our industry.<br>
  185.      <br>
  187.      Development teams are no longer confined to the walls of a single
  189.      building or even a single country for that matter. In fact, almost
  191.      every major software venture these days seems to involve virtual
  193.      teams of developers whose geographic location is of only minor
  195.      importance compared to the content of the contributions they make.
  197.      Product release cycles are now counted in days and weeks rather
  199.      than months and years and what used to be a walk has become a
  201.      sprint (pun intended).<br>
  203.      <br>
  205.      One of the key driving forces behind this change is undoubtedly
  207.      the ever increasing acceptance of and reliance upon open source
  209.      software coupled with the advent of "app stores" and "web
  211.      downloads" that make it easier than ever to get that "latest
  213.      version" and install it. <br>
  215.      <br>
  217.      Taking myself as a use case, a large proportion of the projects
  219.      that I am involved in on a daily basis are either building upon
  221.      open source or donating back to open source and, in many cases,
  223.      doing both.<br>
  225.      <br>
  227.      Against this backdrop I am often asked questions like "So what
  229.      about open standards given this more open source centric approach
  231.      to software development?".&nbsp; This is a reasonable question to
  233.      ask and it is one that comes up regularly in conversations. My
  235.      belief is that we definitely need a strong open source ecosystem
  237.      but we also continue to need the rigor,&nbsp; consensus and most
  239.      important of all, the guarantee of interoperability that we gain
  241.      from writing things down in a specification and taking the time to
  243.      make that specification a standard.<br>
  245.      <br>
  247.      Moreover, few solutions embody just one standard. Typically a
  249.      useful solution brings together multiple standards and so we
  251.      could, somewhat lyrically, say that open source is the canvas upon
  253.      which multiple standards are assembled to build a meaningful
  255.      solution.<br>
  257.      <br>
  259.      However, given the rate and pace of software development, neither
  261.      developers nor their end users have the patience these days for
  263.      long drawn out standards process cycles. Just as open source
  265.      developers have learned to be nimble so must standards creators.
  267.      In the good old days (circa 2001) it was still quite common for a
  269.      specification to take anything from eighteen months to three years
  271.      between first draft and final standard. This model clearly will
  273.      not work today. A standards process still needs to be inclusive,
  275.      it still needs to generate consensus and of course the resultant
  277.      work must be useful or we are all just wasting our time, but it
  279.      must be able to achieve all of those goals in an efficient and
  281.      nimble manner.&nbsp; Some of this nimbleness will come from
  283.      standards development organizations (like W3C and OASIS)
  285.      continually refining their processes and tools but it will also
  287.      come from the way that people interact today. There will still be
  289.      e-mail conversations and "face to face" meetings but in a World
  291.      full of people comfortable using social networking tools, we need
  293.      to exploit those tools to effectively enable global software
  295.      communities to work together at speed.<br>
  297.      <br>
  299.      Social tools can do more than just improve communication however.
  301.      They can enable faster decision making, faster consensus, virtual
  303.      workshops, greater visibility to the work and when needed, more
  305.      efficient and transparent voting.<br>
  307.      <br>
  309.      By combing open source software development techniques with nimble
  311.      and modern standardization processes, glued together by
  313.      contemporary social tools we can enable best of breed innovation
  315.      regardless of the geographic location of the participants.<br>
  317.      <br>
  319.      Last, but by no means least, for both open source and standards
  321.      communities, open governance and transparent administration is
  323.      key, and often an aspect that is overlooked and undervalued.&nbsp;
  325.      But for "open" communities, it's important that the principles of
  327.      good business design be taken to heart.&nbsp; Sensible IPR
  329.      policies and open&nbsp; governance are the foundation for broad
  331.      community engagement if that's the intent of the effort and a
  333.      determining factor in the success or failure of any open community
  335.    </p>
  336. ]]>
  337. </description>
  338. <pubDate>Tue, 20 May 2014 12:47:41 CDT</pubDate>
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  340. </item>
  344. <item>
  345. <title>Six years post chemo and another checkup done!</title>
  346. <category domain="">medical</category>
  347. <link></link>
  348. <description>
  349. <![CDATA[
  350. <p>Today was another day of milestones. I ended my chemo six years ago
  351. and today I also went for my latest six monthly checkup with the
  352. colo-rectal surgeon. I am pleased to report that the checkup went well
  353. and I can breathe easily again for a few more months. As always thanks
  354. for the support I continue to receive from you all. <br>
  355. </p>
  356. <p>I am also grateful to be able to enjoy all the achievements that my
  357. kids continue to make. Robyn has been challenging herself regularly and
  358. always striving to improve and Jack is doing so much better since we
  359. took him out of his previous school that just did not seem to be a good
  360. fit for his personality type.<br>
  361. </p>
  362. <p>One side note, as I was looking at my diary I realized that today is
  363. also the anniversary of mt grandfather Arthur Robert Emerson's death in
  364. 1988. I spent a lot of time with him during my childhood years,
  365. especially over the Summer months and I have so many happy memories of
  366. our long walks together with the dogs through the countryside of
  367. Southern England.&nbsp; I also learned to drive on his ride on lawn
  368. mower at a very young age! He would always have a story to tell me and I
  369. learned so much from him. <br>
  370. </p>              
  371. ]]>
  372. </description>
  373. <pubDate>Sat, 17 May 2014 11:37:42 CDT</pubDate>
  374. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  375. </item>
  378. <item>
  379. <title>Merry Christmas!</title>
  380. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  381. <link></link>
  382. <description>
  383. <![CDATA[
  384. <p>Work has wound down, the presents are mostly wrapped and another year
  385. is almost over. This year has been a blur and I am left with the
  386. feeling that most of it was spent ferrying kids from one place to
  387. another! Such is the life of the parent but I would not trade it for
  388. anything. It was wonderful this year to be able to meet up with so many
  389. friends and family members in parts of the World that I have not been
  390. able to visit for far too long. I hope to catch up with many more of you
  391. in the coming year as I am more able to travel again. I am so thankful
  392. to have been able to celebrate many significant anniversaries on the
  393. health front, not least of which was passing some major remission
  394. milestones during the year. As always I am humbled to have been the
  395. beneficiary of so much goodwill from so many of you and some wonderful
  396. messages of support and encouragement as I shared my milestone news. For
  397. this I am extremely grateful. All that remains, on this Christmas Eve
  398. 2013, is to wish you, wherever you may be in the World, from my family
  399. to yours, a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.<br>
  400. </p>                      
  401. ]]>
  402. </description>
  403. <pubDate>Tue, 24 Dec 2013 16:28:35 CST</pubDate>
  404. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  405. </item>
  408. <item>
  409. <title>Six years in remission (post surgery)</title>
  410. <category domain="">medical</category>
  411. <link></link>
  412. <description>
  413. <![CDATA[
  414.    <p>A little over six years ago, on October 26th 2007, I underwent
  416.      the surgery that began my fightback against colon cancer and
  418.      started my remission clock ticking. It's hard to believe that time
  420.      has flown by so fast. So much of what happened back them,
  422.      especially during the months of chemotherapy,&nbsp; seems almost a
  424.      blur to me now. That was one of the reasons I started keeping the
  426.      <a href="">journal</a> here. Every year about
  428.      this time I look back through that journal and am reminded how
  430.      lucky I am to still be here and how thankful I am for the family,
  432.      friends and medical practitioners that have been with me along the
  434.      way. I have met so many brave fighters over the past six years,
  436.      many who are winning their battle and some who sadly were taken
  438.      from us. Cancer affects us all in one way or another during our
  440.      lifetimes either directly or indirectly through others that we
  442.      care about. I truly believe that one day we will overcome this
  444.      awful disease but until then we must keep up the fight. Every year
  446.      I donate to many different research charities and urge anyone who
  448.      will listen to get screened for the most common and most treatable
  450.      (only if caught early) cancers. As I always do about this time of
  452.      year, I shall issue my not so subtle reminder - go get checked, it
  454.      could save your life!<br>
  456.      <br>
  458.    </p>
  461. ]]>
  462. </description>
  463. <pubDate>Mon, 4 Nov 2013 09:24:29 CST</pubDate>
  464. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  465. </item>
  467. <item>
  468. <title>iOS7 and nausea</title>
  469. <category domain="">technology</category>
  470. <link></link>
  471. <description>
  472. <![CDATA[
  473. <p>I have not posted since June, mainly because of a very hectic Summer
  474. schedule of both work and non-work activities. During this time, among
  475. other things, I found myself camping in Southern Colorado with the Boy
  476. Scouts, working in San Francisco and attending a wedding in London (my
  477. first time back since 2006 and my diagnosis in 2007). I hope to find the
  478. time to make separate posts about the travels soon but for this post I
  479. want to focus on something that I thought was probably just a silly
  480. rumor until I experienced it first hand yesterday, namely, that iOS 7
  481. can cause nausea and motion sickness in some people.<br>
  482. </p>
  483. <p>I should preface these next remarks by saying that anyone reading
  484.  this should treat it as a data point based on a survey of one (me) nothing more,
  485.  nothing less.
  486. </p>
  487. <p></p>
  488. <p>Last night while waiting with my son for an appointment I got the
  489. chance to borrow an iPad Mini running iOS7 and play with it. I have an
  490. iPad mini of my own but for now it still has iOS 6 on it. However, I
  491. have played with my daughter's iPhone 5 running iOS 7 quite a bit and
  492. not had the issue I am about to describe at all (I think the bigger
  493. screen on the iPad is likely why).<br>
  494.  <br>
  495. So anyway, after about 5 minutes of playing with the iPad, opening apps,
  496. closing apps, changing views, basic stuff, I realized I was getting
  497. just a teeny bit "motion sick". After 20 minutes or so I was actually
  498. feeling kind of queasy (like I sometimes do after a fairground ride) and
  499. I had to put the iPad down.<br>
  500.  <br>
  501. Now, I will totally admit, I am a bit of a weenie when it comes to this
  502. kind of motion sickness. Certain video games, Minecraft being the worst,
  503. I simply cannot play with my kids as I get queasy far too easily. As I
  504. get older it seems to get worse. I have never done well on roller
  505. coasters either so clearly I am a bit susceptible to motion sickness but
  506. I was not expecting this with the iPad.<br>
  507.  <br>
  508. For sure, I had read the reports, and posted one or two on my Facebook
  509. timeline and to be honest, like most who commented on those posts I was
  510. skeptical. But, I was frankly shocked at how much this iPad messed me
  511. up. I was still feeling a bit nauseous some 90 minutes or so later. I
  512. guess, for those of us that are motion sickness weenies, there really is
  513. some truth to the iOS 7 motion sickness stories. I basically found out
  514. tonight that I will never be able to put iOS 7 on my iPad which, despite
  515. my iOS 7 misgivings, makes me sad as I fully expected to upgrade at
  516. some point.&nbsp; I should add that even turning off as much of the
  517. motion as possible still left too many moving parts for my poor brain to
  518. handle. Weird eh?<br>
  519. </p>                    
  520. ]]>
  521. </description>
  522. <pubDate>Thu, 3 Oct 2013 17:04:04 CDT</pubDate>
  523. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  524. </item>
  526. <item>
  527. <title>Quick medical update</title>
  528. <category domain="">medical</category>
  529. <link></link>
  530. <description>
  531. <![CDATA[
  532. <p>During the last couple of weeks I have had a full series of
  533.  checkups. I met with my colo-rectal surgeon who gave me a full
  534.  "inspection" under sedation. I next met with my oncologist who did
  535.  a full series of blood tests and finally with my family doctor who
  536.  gave me a full physical. I was a bit nervous going into this
  537.  checkup period as the last time a polyp was found and for me
  538.  polyps are particularly dangerous (mean time to cancer of under
  539.  one year). I am happy to report, that with the exception of, for
  540.  the first time, my cholesterol levels being a bit high, everything
  541.  else was fine. No more tests for another six months. So now I can
  542.  relax a bit and enjoy Summer. As always thanks to everyone for all
  543.  of your support - it means so much.<br>
  544. </p>
  546. ]]>
  547. </description>
  548. <pubDate>Tue, 25 Jun 2013 11:01:42 CDT</pubDate>
  549. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  550. </item>          
  553. <item>
  554. <title>Five years since chemo ended!</title>
  555. <category domain="">medical</category>
  556. <link></link>
  557. <description>
  558. <![CDATA[
  559. <p>Just a very small update to record another personal milestone in
  561.  my journey through life. Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my
  563.  final chemotherapy treatment back in 2008. It does not seem
  565.  possible that five years have passed by since then. While I am
  567.  still dealing with some of the after effects of the treatment
  569.  (primarily I still have a fair bit of neuropathy in my feet) I am
  571.  so glad to still be here five years down the road. However, to
  573.  keep me grounded in reality, I collected the mail last night and
  575.  there waiting for me was a reminder card from my surgeon that it's
  577.  time to schedule my next full service and oil change!&nbsp;&nbsp;
  579.  Regardless - here's to the next five years!<br>
  581. </p>
  583. ]]>
  584. </description>
  585. <pubDate>Wed, 8 May 2013 09:54:16 CDT</pubDate>
  586. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  587. </item>
  592. <item>
  593. <title>My SVG examples collection</title>
  594. <category domain="">graphics</category>
  595. <link></link>
  596. <description>
  597. <![CDATA[
  598. <p>SVG, short for "Scalable Vector Graphics", is an XML markup
  600.      language designed for bringing 2D artwork and drawings to the Web
  602.      and other
  604.      places. As well as vector graphics (lines, circles, paths, etc.)
  606.      SVG supports
  608.      text, images, animation, scripting, colors, gradients, filter
  610.      effects and many
  612.      other things. It is a very rich (declarative) graphics language
  614.      which can be
  616.      just as easily hand coded or machine generated. </p>
  618.    <p>Back in 1998/9 and the years following I became very active in
  620.      the SVG
  622.      community. As far as I know, I was the author of the first known
  624.      SVG rendering
  626.      engine back then which I wrote in Java using the new (at the time)
  628.      Java 2D API.
  630.      I was also a very active member of the SVG Working group at W3C
  632.      that produced
  634.      the <a href=""> SVG 1.0 Specification</a>.
  636.      Over the years I have compiled a large collection of
  638.      my own SVG test cases and examples and used them in lectures about
  640.      SVG at
  642.      various conferences around the World. The recent adoption of SVG
  644.      by the major Web browsers, both on traditional desktop computers
  646.      and on mobile devices, as well as many people asking me about my
  648.      examples has prompted me to collect all of my material into one
  650.      place.If you ever attended one of my talks on SVG over the years
  652.      you may already have some of these but this is the first time I
  654.      have tried to collect everything into one place.<br>
  656.    </p>
  658.    <p>These examples are not meant to be works of art, I would by no
  660.      means claim to
  662.      be an artist. I view them more as a learning aid. You will find
  664.      most of the
  666.      major SVG features used somewhere in these files. If you are
  668.      interested in
  670.      learning a bit more about the power and ease of use of SVG, I
  672.      encourage you to
  674.      look at the source for the files as well as the "artwork" as some
  676.      pictures may look the same but might have been created using
  678.      different SVG
  680.      techniques behind the scenes! </p>
  682.    <p>With a few exceptions, all of the examples were either hand coded
  684.      (by me) or
  686.      produced using Ruby scripts that I wrote to generate SVG output.
  688.      One or two of
  690.      the examples were produced using Inkscape.<br>
  692.    </p>
  694.    <p>You will find <a href=""> this
  695. link to the samples</a>
  697.      in the left hand side bar of my web page.<br>
  699.      <br>
  701.    </p>
  703.    <p> Anyway, I hope that this material is of interest and useful. I
  705.      certainly had
  707.      fun walking down memory lane while putting it together.
  709.    </p>
  711. ]]>
  712. </description>
  713. <pubDate>Tue, 2 Apr 2013 14:37:48 CDT</pubDate>
  714. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  715. </item>
  717. <item>
  718. <title>Five years in remission!</title>
  719. <category domain="">medical</category>
  720. <link></link>
  721. <description>
  722. <![CDATA[
  723.    <p>Today is a day that I truly believed might never come. As most of
  724.      you know, a little over five years ago, on October 2<sup>nd</sup>
  725.      2007, I received the news&nbsp; that no one wants to hear. I had
  726.      cancer. Moreover, I had a type of cancer at just 42 years of age
  727.      that I always thought of as "one of those cancers people much
  728.      older than me get". <a href="">I
  729.        shared the news publicly</a> on October 10<sup>th</sup> 2007 and
  730.      from then on used this web site to document my journey. I had
  731.      surgery on October 26<sup>th</sup> 2007 to remove the tumor (and
  732.      lots of other things!) and began six months of chemotherapy, after
  733.      the surgery had time to heal, in December of that year. Early on
  734.      in my treatment the oncologist informed me that the "remission
  735.      clock" begins ticking on the day of the "curative procedure"
  736.      (surgery). Today, I am celebrating the fact that I have reached a
  737.      major milestone. It is five years to the day that my remission
  738.      began. I have had regular (currently six monthly) checkups ever
  739.      since my surgery and so far so good. A couple of weeks ago, for
  740.      the first time since my diagnosis, a large polyp was found during
  741.      my scheduled checkup but it was removed and found to be benign. It
  742.      was a scary few days waiting for the pathology to come back but
  743.      all remains well. In medical terms, I believe that I am now
  744.      officially considered "cured". However, given what I have learned
  745.      about my genetics during this process, I shall always be nervous
  746.      when I go in to see my surgeon or my oncologist for a checkup.<br>
  747.    </p>
  748.    <p>There is an old Chinese proverb that goes something like "<span style="font-style: italic;">To get through the hardest journey
  749.        we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on
  750.        stepping</span>" and what a journey this has been. The support I
  751.      have experienced from family and friends around the World has been
  752.      unbelievable and you have all stuck with me for the duration. I am
  753.      both blessed and humbled to have you all in my corner. I have also
  754.      have had such an amazing medical team looking after me. Especially
  755.      Keith Morrison, John Mangione and Darren Kocs but also so many
  756.      wonderful nurses and other doctors whose names in many cases I do
  757.      not even know. Your amazing quality of care and professionalism
  758.      are the reason that I am still here today and that my kids still
  759.      have a father.<br>
  760.    </p>
  761.    <p>Thank you all once again for your incredible support.<br>
  762.    </p>
  763.    <p>As I often do, I shall close with my little reminder to you all.
  764.      If you have been putting off getting that colonoscopy that you
  765.      know you are overdue for, make the appointment today. It could
  766.      save your life, trust me on that one!<br>
  767.    </p>
  768.    <p>Kelvin<br>
  769.    </p>
  771. ]]>
  772. </description>
  773. <pubDate>Fri, 26 Oct 2012 07:56:18 CDT</pubDate>
  774. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  775. </item>
  777. <item>
  778. <title>The end of another Summer - the start of a new era!</title>
  779. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  780. <link></link>
  781. <description>
  782. <![CDATA[
  783.    <p>So, by the local school calendar, Summer ended yesterday. Of
  785.      course you have to ignore the fact that the high temperature today
  787.      will be somewhere around 95F! Both kids went back to school this
  789.      morning. Jack is starting his final year at Elementary school
  791.      (going into filth grade). He had to be at school before 7:10am
  793.      today so that he could do his bit on safety patrol (opening card
  795.      doors and welcoming kids to school). He was so excited he went off
  797.      to school with zero fuss. We'll see how long this lasts!
  799.      Meanwhile, Robyn (drum roll please - and a stiff drink for her
  801.      Dad) is starting High School today (hence the new era I referred
  803.      to in the title of this post). How did my little girl grow up so
  805.      fast. Before I know it she will be driving and off to college. I
  807.      know going to a new school can be a bit daunting but I am sure she
  809.      is in good hands at her new school (Cedar Ridge High School). The
  811.      school only opened a few years ago (in fact this will be the first
  813.      year they have a senior class I think) and it is a state of the
  815.      art facility. I wish my IBM office building was as plush as that
  817.      school is! She also gets to start school at 9am rather than the
  819.      Middle school time of 8am which of course to a teenager translates
  821.      to "more time in bed yaaaayyy".<br>
  823.    </p>
  825.    <p>We have had a good Summer. For the first time in too long I got
  827.      to have a real Summer vacation and spent a lovely week at South
  829.      Padre Island on the Texas Gulf coast. The beaches down there are
  831.      really nice, soft sand underfoot all the way out into the waves.
  833.      There was so much to do we only scratched the surface really. We
  835.      found a lot of great restaurants and an amazingly good brew pub.
  837.      We definitely want to go back and are grateful to our kind friends
  839.      who rented us their beach front condo with amazing views of the
  841.      beach and the Gulf.&nbsp; As well as swimming in the surf and
  843.      boogie boarding, we got to meet some amazing seat turtles that are
  845.      being nursed back to health after accidents (with people), we got
  847.      to watch the dolphins at play from a sunset cruise ship, we got to
  849.      laugh our heads off at SchlitterBahn water park, we had a great
  851.      time at the nature sanctuary and of course made a lot sand
  853.      castles. I did not get to go para-sailing or ride the super fast
  855.      jet boat or jet ski so I definitely have a lit of things I want to
  857.      do next time we go down there. I was a bit apprehensive having
  859.      been spoiled by the Florida beaches during my time there but South
  861.      Padre was every bit as nice. The town itself is older but behind
  863.      some of those less fancy walls you can find amazing food! <br>
  865.    </p>
  867.    <p>I have also been managing to make time to read a lot more this
  869.      year, which was one of my New Year resolutions! If you look at my
  871.      <a href="">reading log</a> you will see that I have
  873.      done, I think, much better this year than in recent years. I am
  875.      convinced that my almost total transition to e-books has made the
  877.      difference. Another resolution was to get into really good
  879.      physical shape. Let's just say I'm still working on that one!<br>
  881.    </p>
  883.    <p>So what about the medical stuff? Well, earlier in the Summer I
  885.      underwent a full battery of tests with the oncologist and the
  887.      colo-rectal surgeon. I am happy to report all tests came back
  889.      clean. I am just two months away from achieving five years
  891.      remission. A landmark that when I was diagnosed back in 2007
  893.      seemed an awfully long way away. It has been a journey with ups
  895.      and downs but despite ongoing side effects (of which I shall spare
  897.      you the details), as my daughter says, "Dad, at least you are
  899.      still breathing!"<br>
  901.    </p>
  903.    <p>I am sure there are a lot of other things I have forgotten to
  905.      list that we did this Summer. For now I am going to concentrate on
  907.      work and adjust to the very very quiet house and the sound of the
  909.      dog snoring on the couch in my home office!<br>
  911.    </p>
  913. ]]>
  914. </description>
  915. <pubDate>Mon, 27 Aug 2012 12:26:34 CDT</pubDate>
  916. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  917. </item>
  919. <item>
  920. <title>Spring is in the air</title>
  921. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  922. <link></link>
  923. <description>
  924. <![CDATA[
  925. <p>My how time flies! We are already into March and 2011 is well and
  926. truly disappearing in the rear view mirror. I cannot say I am sorry to
  927. see 2011 go. It was not a year that I shall remember with a lot of
  928. fondness.&nbsp; I need to get back into making more regular posts here.
  929. I have been good about posting to Facebook but that has made me
  930. incredibly lazy about updating this journal. I have, however, kept the
  931. various sections (such as my reading log) up to date.<br>
  932. </p>
  934. <p>I hope that everyone reading this is so far having a safe and happy
  935. year.&nbsp; I have several friends and colleagues that have already
  936. been touched by cancer this year. My thoughts and prayers go out to
  937. them and indeed, to anyone dealing with the effects of this awful
  938. disease.<br>
  939. </p>
  940. <p>By the way, March is <span style="font-style: italic;">Colo Rectal Cancer Awareness</span>
  941. month. If you have been putting off getting "scoped" now would be a
  942. good time. Also, remember I was only 42 when I was diagnosed so don't
  943. put it off because you don't think you are old enough to have to worry.
  944. It could save your life.<br>
  945. </p>
  947. ]]>
  948. </description>
  949. <pubDate>Sat, 3 Mar 2012 10:28:38 CST</pubDate>
  950. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  951. </item>
  954. <item>
  955. <title>Four years post surgery, four years in remission!</title>
  956. <category domain="">medical</category>
  957. <link></link>
  958. <description>
  959. <![CDATA[
  960. Today is the fourth anniversary of my colon cancer surgery. As my
  962. oncologist once explained to me, the remission clock starts ticking
  964. from the date of the "curative procedure" (surgery). Therefore as of
  966. today I have now been in remission for a full four years. Much of
  968. the time since the surgery and the subsequent months of chemotherapy
  970. remains a bit of a blur and loking back, the time seems to have
  972. flown by.. I am so thankful to all of the wonderful doctors and
  974. nurses that have cared for me so well and that I am still here to
  976. enjoy life and watch my kids grow up.<br>
  978. <br>
  980. As always I am incredibly grateful to all of my family and friends
  982. around the World who have been there for me the past four years. I
  984. could not have made it this far without you. The recent sad news
  986. about the death of Steve Jobs reminds us that no one, no matter how
  988. rich or poor is immune from cancer's evil reach. I encourage all of
  990. you to support cancer research in any way that you can. Likewise, to
  992. anyone reading this who has also been touched by cancer, I would
  994. just like to say keep up the fight and that you are in my thoughts
  996. and prayers.<br>
  998. <br>
  1000. PS - If you have been putting off getting a colonoscopy, get one. It could save your life!
  1001. ]]>
  1002. </description>
  1003. <pubDate>Tue, 25 Oct 2011 10:50:58 CDT</pubDate>
  1004. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1005. </item>
  1007. <item>
  1008. <title>The last (official) day of Summer</title>
  1009. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  1010. <link></link>
  1011. <description>
  1012. <![CDATA[
  1013. <p>By the school calendar, which around here is the one most people
  1015. live by, as of today, Summer is officially over. This is despite the
  1017. fact that this week we will most likely break the old record of 69 one
  1019. hundred degree days in a calendar year. The high yesterday was around
  1021. 105F and it is forecast to be about the same again today. I forget when
  1023. we last had serious rain but it has been months. Unless we get a
  1025. tropical storm come ashore soon it may be many more weeks until we do
  1027. get some rain. I love the hot weather but in my fifteen years here I
  1029. have never seen a drought like this one. We usually get some good
  1031. storms, especially during the Spring to top up the lakes. This year
  1033. that did not happen.<br>
  1035. </p>
  1037. <p><br>
  1039. </p>
  1041. <div style="text-align: center;"><img
  1043. style="width: 640px; height: 480px;"
  1045. title="Robyn and Jack leaving for school"
  1047. alt="Robyn and Jack leaving for school"
  1049. src=""><br
  1051. style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">
  1053. <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Robyn and Jack
  1055. about to leave for school</span><br>
  1057. </div>
  1059. <p>Anyway, my kids happily (yes happily) went back to school today.
  1061. They even got up at 6:20am and woke me up! Robyn is going into eighth
  1063. grade and Jack fourth. They have grown so quickly. Robyn is thirteen
  1065. now and Jack will be ten in December. Where does the time go? Anyway,
  1067. above is a photo, which has become a bit of a tradition now, of the
  1069. kids going out the front door on the first day of a new school year.<br>
  1071. </p>
  1072. ]]>
  1073. </description>
  1074. <pubDate>Tue, 23 Aug 2011 11:18:02 CDT</pubDate>
  1075. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1076. </item>
  1079. <item>
  1080. <title>25 Years at IBM</title>
  1081. <category domain="">work</category>
  1082. <link></link>
  1083. <description>
  1084. <![CDATA[
  1085. <p>In 1986, August the 4th was a Monday and it was my first day as an
  1086. IBM employee (at Hursley Park in the UK). Twenty five years later, I'm
  1087. still working at IBM (these days in Austin, Texas).&nbsp; It's been an
  1088. incredible journey both emotionally , technologically and
  1089. geographically (from Hursley to Austin with seven years in Boca Raton,
  1090. Florida in between). I have worked with some fantastic people on some
  1091. very cool projects and been lucky enough to make great friends all over
  1092. the World. <br>
  1093. </p>
  1094. <p>The 25 years have flown by!<br>
  1095. </p>  
  1096. ]]>
  1097. </description>
  1098. <pubDate>Thu, 4 Aug 2011 19:39:39 CDT</pubDate>
  1099. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1100. </item>    
  1103. <item>
  1104. <title>Where have I been hiding?</title>
  1105. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  1106. <link></link>
  1107. <description>
  1108. <![CDATA[
  1109. <p>Those of you that check-in here from time to time, and the site
  1111. statistics tell me that there are still a lot of you, for which I am
  1113. grateful, may be wondering what I have been up to and why I have not
  1115. been posting of late. In short I have been busy at work, very busy with
  1117. the kids and also had to have a spot of unexpected (and very painful)
  1119. surgery from which I have been recovering since mid June.<br>
  1121. </p>
  1123. <p>Anyway, here is a quick update on the Summer so far...<br>
  1125.  </p>
  1127. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Things medical</span><br>
  1129. </p>
  1131. <p>At the end of May I met with my colo-rectal surgeon and he performed
  1133. my (now semi-annual) internal exam. Everything looked good. However,
  1135. while he was checking me out he told me that I had a cyst that needed
  1137. to be dealt with surgically (not cancerous). More on that in a minute!</p>
  1139. <p>On June 9th I met with my oncologist and he ran all of the usual
  1141. tests. While I always hope for the best, this is always a nervous time
  1143. for me. None the less, I am happy to report that all of my tests came
  1145. back clean. Still no evidence of further cancer. I can now go twelve
  1147. months before he wants to check me again. This is significant progress.<br>
  1149. </p>
  1151. <p>On June 10th I had surgery to take care of the cyst. The procedure
  1153. ended up being a bit more involved that I had hoped it would be.
  1155. Without going into details it was in an awkward place and for several
  1157. weeks it was really hard to sit down and I was in a lot of pain. The
  1159. wound is still healing but is in much better shape now. Hopefully in a
  1161. another week or so it will have finished healing. The surgery really
  1163. knocked me out of my stride for a few weeks and even now I do not feel
  1165. that I fully have my energy back.<br>
  1167. </p>
  1169. <p>On top of a few other stresses in my life at the moment I really
  1171. feel like a cannot catch a break. I hope to take a couple of weeks off
  1173. soon and find a beach to lay on somewhere or something equally restful!<br>
  1175. </p>
  1177. <p style="font-weight: bold;">The Kids</p>
  1179. <p>Despite the intense drought and soaring temperatures we have been
  1181. enduring for well over six weeks now, the Kids are having a great
  1183. Summer and spending a lot of time in the pool. Robyn was able to escape
  1185. the heat mid June, when she left along with 40 other kids and four
  1187. adult leaders on a People to People expedition to the UK and Ireland.
  1189. They visited an amazing set of places all over England, Scotland,
  1191. Wales and Ireland. She got to do many things that even I, growing up
  1193. there, have never done. She got to hit golf balls at St Andrews, ride
  1195. the London Eye, watch a Trebuchet catapult launching a fire ball at
  1197. Warwick Castle, she got to abseil down the walls of another castle in
  1199. Bangor (Wales) and so many other amazing things. She took over 900
  1201. photos! I think this trip will leave her with fantastic memories and
  1203. hopefully a few new friends as well!<br>
  1205. </p>
  1207. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Work</span><br>
  1209. </p>
  1211. <p>Work is very busy which is a good thing and has also helped keep me
  1213. distracted a bit from other things.<br>
  1215. </p>
  1217. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Finally, less blogging more
  1219. tweeting....</span></p>
  1221. <p>Finally, I will observe that while I have not been posting here much
  1223. lately, that I have been making regular posts to both <a
  1225. href="">Twitter</a> and <a
  1227. href="">Facebook</a>
  1229. and more
  1231. recently <a href="">Google+</a>
  1233. as well. If you have not already done so, feel free to find me at one
  1235. or more of those venues.<br>
  1237. </p>
  1239. <p>That's the update for now. Take care all!<br>
  1241. </p>
  1243. ]]>
  1244. </description>
  1245. <pubDate>Tue, 19 Jul 2011 09:26:19 CDT</pubDate>
  1246. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1247. </item>
  1249. <item>
  1250. <title>Three years post chemo!</title>
  1251. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1252. <link></link>
  1253. <description>
  1254. <![CDATA[
  1255. <p>I realized this morning as I was looking at what is on my schedule
  1257. for this week that it is three years ago since I underwent my final
  1259. chemotherapy treatment. The time has flown by and finally (a while ago
  1261. now in fact) the "fog" that was in my brain has fully cleared. Every
  1263. now and again I suspect my memory is not quite what it was and I still
  1265. have neuropathy in my feet - but hey - small price to pay right?<br>
  1267. </p>
  1269. <p>As always a special thought and prayer goes out to all of the people
  1271. who are currently in their own battles with cancer.</p>
  1273. <p>You will probably have noticed that I have not posted here in quite
  1275. a while. This is largely due to the fact that I am incredibly busy at
  1277. work (which is a good thing)&nbsp; and have a tremendous amount going
  1279. on in my personal life. I do post regular updates however to <a
  1281. href="">Facebook</a>
  1283. and <a href="">Twitter</a>.<br>
  1285. </p>
  1287. <p>I hope everyone is having a good year so far. It won't be long until
  1289. the kids get out of school for Summer here. Robyn has a huge Summer
  1291. coming up. The highlight of which is a 21 day trip to the UK and
  1293. Ireland with 41 other kids on a People to People Ambassador program.<br>
  1295. </p>
  1297. <p>I am keeping other sections of the web site updated as appropriate
  1299. and I will try and get back into posting here more often!<br>
  1301. <br>
  1303. </p>
  1304. ]]>
  1305. </description>
  1306. <pubDate>Mon, 9 May 2011 09:58:31 CDT</pubDate>
  1307. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1308. </item>
  1310. <item>
  1311. <title>Happy New Year</title>
  1312. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  1313. <link></link>
  1314. <description>
  1315. <![CDATA[
  1316. <p>Just a quick post to wish all of my wonderful family and friends
  1317. around the World a very safe and prosperous 2011. I have not been
  1318. updating things here on the web site as often as I used to but I have
  1319. been posting regular updates to my <a href="">Facebook</a>
  1320. page. I am very happy to report that in October I had a full series of
  1321. medical tests and everything looks good. Unbelievably I am now three
  1322. years into remission. We did some fun things in the second half of
  1323. 2010. One of the highlights for me was when the kids and I got to take
  1324. a seven day cruise on Carnival cruise lines around the Eastern
  1325. Caribbean. Lorna and the kids are all well although I don't think the
  1326. kids will want to go back to school next week after the long Christmas
  1327. break.&nbsp; Work starts back up for me on the 4th.<br>
  1328. </p>
  1329. <p>Again love and best wishes to all, from our family to yours for 2011<br>
  1330. </p>
  1331. ]]>
  1332. </description>
  1333. <pubDate>Sat, 1 Jan 2011 10:34:14 CST</pubDate>
  1334. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1335. </item>
  1338. <item>
  1339. <title>Father and Daughter surgery</title>
  1340. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1341. <link></link>
  1342. <description>
  1343. <![CDATA[
  1344. <p>What are the odds that both my daughter and I would end up having
  1345. surgery from the same doctor at the almost exact same time in adjacent
  1346. rooms? Well that is exactly what happened this past week! Robyn had
  1347. already been scheduled to have her lower wisdom teeth removed Monday
  1348. morning so that part at least, was expected. The unexpected part is
  1349. that right after we met with the surgeon to prep for her surgery, a few
  1350. days prior to the scheduled date for the procedure, I started getting a
  1351. lot of pain in my upper right jaw bone. An x-ray from my dentist
  1352. revealed that some screws in my jaw from reconstruction surgery in 1998
  1353. had moved and allowed the area to get infected. The required "fix" was
  1354. to have the offending screws and bone plates surgically removed. So, in
  1355. an exercise in efficiency, we scheduled my surgery at the same time as
  1356. my daughters so that Dr Gallagher (my long time oral surgeon and great
  1357. doctor) could emulate Bobby Fischer playing chess against multiple
  1358. opponents at once and fix us both (almost) in parallel!&nbsp; We turned
  1359. up at 7am and Robyn got to go first. While he was operating on her,
  1360. other nurses started prepping me. When he was done with her, the doctor
  1361. appeared and basically said "OK all done with her, she did great, let's
  1362. get started on you"!! I woke up as she was also waking up more in the adjacent recovery room. How surreal is that?</p>
  1364. <p>Anyway, we are both doing well, I think at this point her swelling
  1365. is going down faster than mine (behold the power of youth) but at least
  1366. the severe pain I was in before the surgery has gone away.&nbsp; She
  1367. gets a nice present for being brave, I get a few days of being on an
  1368. ice cream diet so all in all not too bad!<br>
  1369. </p>
  1371. <p>Certainly a week to remember!<br>
  1372. </p>
  1373. ]]>
  1374. </description>
  1375. <pubDate>Sat, 21 Aug 2010 12:18:03 CDT</pubDate>
  1376. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1377. </item>
  1380. <item>
  1381. <title>Misc updates</title>
  1382. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  1383. <link></link>
  1384. <description>
  1385. <![CDATA[
  1386. <p>There has not been too much to report lately (which is a good thing)
  1387. and hence I have not posted here. I have been posting small updates to
  1388. Twitter and Facebook and as a result have not felt the need to
  1389. duplicate those here. On the medical front, my latest round of tests
  1390. are now behind me and both my oncologist and surgeon have switched me
  1391. to a "once a year" checkup schedule now. This is real progress!!<br>
  1392. </p>
  1393. <p>Yesterday Lorna and I went down to Houston so that we could watch
  1394. the MLS (soccer) All Stars vs Manchester United.&nbsp; We had a great
  1395. time. Reliant Stadium was a great venue for the event and the match
  1396. itself did not lack action, with Man Utd coming out on top 5 - 2.<br>
  1397. </p>
  1398. <p>The kids have been off school for several weeks now and I am definitely counting the
  1399. days until they go back! That said, I am taking next week of so that we can do some fun
  1400. things together as a family. I really need a break from work to recharge my batteries as
  1401. things have been extremely busy.
  1403. So, as I said, no major news to report, at the moment but I will try and get back into making
  1404. more regular postings again soon.<br>
  1405. </p>                
  1406. ]]>
  1407. </description>
  1408. <pubDate>Fri, 30 Jul 2010 14:48:21 CDT</pubDate>
  1409. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1410. </item>    
  1412. <item>
  1413. <title>Two years post chemo - wow!</title>
  1414. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1415. <link></link>
  1416. <description>
  1417. <![CDATA[
  1418. <p>It's almost impossible for me to believe, but two years ago
  1419. yesterday I finished chemotherapy. The time has flown by. Aside from
  1420. some remaining neuropathy in my feet I feel great and all of the other
  1421. side efects have long since worn off.&nbsp; I have a checkup
  1422. appointment with the oncologist next month and will post another update
  1423. after that. Thanks as always to everyone for all of their incredible
  1424. support.<br>
  1425. </p>
  1426. <p>Here's to more milestones like this one!<br>
  1427. </p>
  1428. ]]>
  1429. </description>
  1430. <pubDate>Sun, 9 May 2010 00:28:00 CDT</pubDate>
  1431. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1432. </item>
  1434. <item>
  1435. <title>Quick medical update</title>
  1436. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1437. <link></link>
  1438. <description>
  1439. <![CDATA[
  1440. <p>I have again taken way too long between posts here. My thanks to all
  1441. those of you that have contacted me to ask if everything is OK. As far
  1442. as I know things remain good. A couple of weeks ago I met with the
  1443. surgeon who is keeping an eye on me and performing my regular exams.
  1444. I'm happy to say that no new polyps were found and I have no more
  1445. scheduled exams until I meet with the oncologist again in a couple of
  1446. months time.<br>
  1447. <br>
  1448. This week the kids are on Spring Break and I am taking the week off
  1449. work so that we can spend some time together as a family. If the
  1450. weather stays nice we are going to try and make it to the Austin
  1451. Fairgrounds for the Rodeo. In the 15 years I have lived here I have
  1452. never been so I hope we can make it this year.<br>
  1453. <br>
  1454. I'll try and post again soon but at least as far as the medical stuff goes,
  1455. having less to post for a while is fine by me!</p>
  1456. ]]>
  1457. </description>
  1458. <pubDate>Mon, 15 Mar 2010 20:52:58 CDT</pubDate>
  1459. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1460. </item>
  1462. <item>
  1463. <title>Belated Happy New Year</title>
  1464. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  1465. <link></link>
  1466. <description>
  1467. <![CDATA[
  1468. <p>I have been very bad about posting here recently. Things are going
  1469. well and I have just been very busy with family and work activities. I
  1470. hope everyone is off to a good start to 2010 and I would like to wish
  1471. everyone a belated Happy New Year.&nbsp; I'll try and get back into
  1472. making regular updates again vey soon.<br>
  1473. </p>
  1474. ]]>
  1475. </description>
  1476. <pubDate>Wed, 27 Jan 2010 20:58:16 CST</pubDate>
  1477. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1478. </item>
  1480. <item>
  1481. <title>Latest test results still look good</title>
  1482. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1483. <link></link>
  1484. <description>
  1485. <![CDATA[
  1486. <p>Yesterday I went to the oncologist to get my latest round of tests
  1487. done. They called me five minutes ago to say that everything continues
  1488. to look normal. My cancer antigen test is even down a bit from last
  1489. time and my haemoglobin number remains solid. I continue to be plagued
  1490. by neuropathy in my feet but it has mostly gone away now in my fingers.
  1491. The Lyrica I am taking works wonders on the neuropathy pain but I think
  1492. is the major contributor to the weight I continue to gain. We agreed
  1493. yesterday to again try reducing the dosage in the hope that we can
  1494. reverse this unacceptable trend!<br>
  1495. </p>
  1496. <p>I have not posted for a month mainly because I did not have to much
  1497. to share - which is a good thing. I hope everyone is having a safe and
  1498. happy start to the holiday season. As always thoughts and prayers go
  1499. out all fellow cancer patients and their families at this time. <br>
  1500. </p>
  1501. ]]>
  1502. </description>
  1503. <pubDate>Thu, 3 Dec 2009 11:11:46 CST</pubDate>
  1504. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1505. </item>
  1507. <item>
  1508. <title>My second anniversary</title>
  1509. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1510. <link></link>
  1511. <description>
  1512. <![CDATA[
  1513. <p>Today marks the second anniversary of my cancer surgery.&nbsp; Is it
  1514. really possible that two years have already passed? It seems like just
  1515. yesterday. Thanks to all the wonderful doctors and nurses that treated
  1516. me I am still here to type this and to bug my family and friends! I owe
  1517. my life to you. Special thanks today (as every day) to Keith M, John M
  1518. and Darren K, three amazing doctors, without whom I would just be a
  1519. memory.<br>
  1520. </p>
  1521. <p>I think I have more blood work scheduled in the next few weeks which
  1522. as always I shall be nervous about but all continues to be well as far
  1523. as I know. I have not posted here lately as we have all been very busy
  1524. between work and school, soccer games, boy scouts, girl scouts, dance
  1525. and camping trips.<br>
  1526. </p>
  1527. <p>I'll try and post a longer update soon but I could not let this milestone day pass by without a quick post.<br>
  1528. </p>          
  1529. ]]>
  1530. </description>
  1531. <pubDate>Tue, 27 Oct 2009 11:48:07 CDT</pubDate>
  1532. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1533. </item>
  1537. <item>
  1538. <title>Quick medical update</title>
  1539. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1540. <link></link>
  1541. <description>
  1542. <![CDATA[
  1543. <p>As many of you know, I had my latest internal exam last week,
  1544. or as my son calls in my "butt check" !&nbsp; The procedure itself is
  1545. nothing that I worry too much about but I do worry very much about what
  1546. might be found. I am therefore pleased to report that
  1547. all remains clear as far as the surgeon can tell. I do not have to see
  1548. him again for another six months now which is great progress!<br>
  1549. </p>          
  1551. ]]>
  1552. </description>
  1553. <pubDate>Wed, 9 Sep 2009 19:31:37 CDT</pubDate>
  1554. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1555. </item>
  1557. <item>
  1558. <title>Brandy</title>
  1559. <category domain="">pets</category>
  1560. <link></link>
  1561. <description>
  1562. <![CDATA[
  1563. <p>Sadly, we had to say goodbye today to another of our dear animal
  1564. friends. Brandy, now over 13 years old had been with us since we got
  1565. her and her brother Toby as puppies from a friend as a wedding present
  1566. back in 1996. We <a href="">lost Toby just over a year ago</a>
  1567. and now Brandy has joined him at the doggie park in the sky. She was a
  1568. great dog, in her younger days extremely atheltic, more recently a lady
  1569. of leisure and sadly even more recently pretty much unable to get up
  1570. and move without our help. We are extremely sad to see her go and all
  1571. miss her very much. I'm glad we still have Rocket, Scamp and Shadow to
  1572. keep us on our toes (as well as the kids!). I need to update the pets
  1573. section with some new photos and will try and get to that soon.<br>
  1574. </p>                  
  1575. <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 682px; height: 363px;" alt="Picture of Brandy" title="Brandy" src="" align="middle"><br>
  1576. </p>
  1577. <p style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Brandy during happier times - July 2008</span><br>
  1578. </p>      
  1579. ]]>
  1580. </description>
  1581. <pubDate>Tue, 8 Sep 2009 19:31:36 CDT</pubDate>
  1582. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1583. </item>
  1585. <item>
  1586. <title>Kids, Dogs and the end of Summer</title>
  1587. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  1588. <category domain="">kids</category>
  1589. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1590. <link></link>
  1591. <description>
  1592. <![CDATA[
  1593. <p>So, while the days remain extremely hot, Summer is over for the kids
  1594. who went back to school last week. I work from home a lot and am having
  1595. to adjust to a quiet house again! Robyn is starting sixth grade (Middle
  1596. School) this school year and is very excited. Last night we went to a
  1597. meet the teachers evening. It was fun. We got to experience her day. We
  1598. went to each class for eleven minutes, attended a presentation from the
  1599. teacher and then had four minutes to make out next class - the same way
  1600. she does! As well as the traditional subjects, Robyn is taking Choir
  1601. and Band this term. She has chosen to try the clarinet as her
  1602. instrument. I hope she likes it as I am still trying to get over my
  1603. almost heart failure when I saw the price of even a used one!&nbsp;
  1604. Meanwhile, Jack is starting out on second grade. We have spent a small
  1605. fortune this Summer on consultations with specialists as we continue to
  1606. try and get Jack the help he needs for his Aspergers and ADHD. Lorna is
  1607. right now having to sit in the school with Jack during the morning
  1608. classes to try and keep him calm. This is unacceptable and I shall be
  1609. coming down on the school like a ton of lead bricks (backed up by
  1610. advocates and other medical professionals) if they do not get their act
  1611. together fast. He is supposed to have a teacher's aid in class and he
  1612. is not getting one. We also have some new medication for Jack that we
  1613. are just starting him on that may help with his morning moods but I am
  1614. not going to give the school what they seem to want which is to have me
  1615. medicate him into passive oblivion.<br>
  1616. </p>
  1617. <p>None the less, both kids had a great Summer. They both attended lots
  1618. of day camps and had numerous parties, play dates and sleep overs with
  1619. friends. Robyn's Summer ended on a super high as she passed her Tae
  1620. Kwon Do black belt test. Her graduation ceremony is on Thursday.<br>
  1621. </p>
  1623. <p><img src="" title="Shadow" alt="Picture of Shadow" style="width: 200px; height: 320px;" align="left" hspace="10">One
  1624. of the things we have been doing lately is volunteering at the
  1625. Williamson County Animal Shelter. As well as being a good cause anyway,
  1626. it also is helping Robyn get one of her Girl Scout badges. However,
  1627. those that know me well, know I love animals. Every time I go to the
  1628. shelter I find it hard not to bring a dog home with me. Well a few
  1629. weeks ago, my resolve broke and we now have a new member of the family.
  1630. He is (we think) a four month old puppy. We are not sure exactly what
  1631. breed he is. The shelter staff wrote him up as a Black Lab/Great Dane
  1632. mix. Our vet says he sees some Sharpei in him, I think this may just be
  1633. due to his "room to grow" wrinkly skin! Whatever breed he is, he is
  1634. loads of fun and it is clear he is going to be BIG! The other dogs,
  1635. after a few initial barks and warning growls to establish the
  1636. boundaries and the pack order have now fully accepted him. We get to
  1637. watch some fantastic play fights on a regular basis. This reminds me
  1638. that I need to go and update the pets section of this web site and get
  1639. updated photos of all the animals posted.<br>
  1640. </p>
  1641. <p>The weather here continues to be brutal. Every day during the Summer
  1642. the high temperature reached or exceeded 100F and it has hardly rained
  1643. at all. We are now (not before time in my opinion) on mandatory water
  1644. controls.<br>
  1645. </p>
  1646. <p>On the medical front, I met with an Orthopedic Surgeon yesterday
  1647. (not related to my cancer treatment) to get his opinion on my elbow
  1648. which continues to be extremely painful after I whacked it against a
  1649. plastic pipe at a water park back in June. As far as he can tell from
  1650. the X-Rays and MRI pictures that have already been taken it's nothing
  1651. more serious than an acute case of tendinitis (good old fashioned
  1652. "Tennis Elbow"). The Cortisone shot that I got for it two weeks ago has
  1653. so far not helped so they are going to start me on Physical Therapy
  1654. later this week and a course of meds. We were joking that "Tennis
  1655. Elbow" should really be called "Computer Mouse Elbow" these days as
  1656. that is when it hurts me the most. The surgeon suggested I stop using
  1657. the mouse and get a trackball instead. "Gee" I said, "what a great
  1658. idea". I am supposed to be the computer guy but I think that the doctor
  1659. is on to something there and it never occurred to me (sigh). Of course
  1660. I am not the first patient with a bad elbow he has ever seen either!<br>
  1661. </p>
  1662. <p>On a slightly less "humerus" note (sorry I couldn't resist the pun),
  1663. I am scheduled to meet with my colo-rectal surgeon tomorrow for my next
  1664. round of checkups and my internal exam (yep, yuck!). I always get
  1665. nervous when I go in for this one as this is how it all began almost
  1666. two years ago and we all know where that went (wow time flies).<br>
  1667. </p>
  1668. <p>This weekend I went and paid the $29 for my copy of Apple's new Mac
  1669. OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) operating system upgrade. I installed it on my
  1670. Mac Book Pro laptop over the weekend and so far it seems to be running
  1671. well and living up to the advertising. Lot a great deal of new visible
  1672. features but definitely a bit faster and uses less disk space. I'll
  1673. report more as I play with the new OS some more.&nbsp; I know many of
  1674. the folks that follow my web updates are Mac users. Please let me know
  1675. if you are also upgrading.<br>
  1676. </p>
  1678. <p>That's about it for now. I'll post more after my tests this week are over.<br>
  1679. </p>
  1681. ]]>
  1682. </description>
  1683. <pubDate>Tue, 1 Sep 2009 10:10:20 CDT</pubDate>
  1684. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1685. </item>
  1687. <item>
  1688. <title>More on the Pan-Mass Challenge</title>
  1689. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1690. <link></link>
  1691. <description>
  1692. <![CDATA[
  1693. <p>Further to my prior posting, I just received the following words
  1694. from Don.&nbsp; I am extremely grateful that he is riding this year in
  1695. honour of my dear friend Dion Gillard, who died way too young, from
  1696. cancer last year. Cancer is such an evil disease and none of us are
  1697. immune from it. Please help support Don if you possibly can.&nbsp; Here
  1698. are Don's words...<br>
  1699. </p>
  1700. <table style="text-align: left; width: 80%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
  1701.  <tbody>
  1702.    <tr>
  1703.      <td style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 204);">I
  1704. &#8216;met&#8217; many of you through a post I made here thanks to Kelvin, last
  1705. Summer. Now it&#8217;s time to renew our friendship and launch our 2009
  1706. campaign to raise funds for cancer research.<br>
  1707.      <br>
  1708. This year, I am again dedicating a large investment in time and sweat
  1709. to ask as many people as I know for their support in my effort to raise
  1710. funds to support cancer research at <a href="">Dana-Farber Cancer Institute</a> in Boston. I do this by signing up to ride the <a href="">Pan-Massachusetts Challenge</a>,
  1711. a 2 day, 192 mile bicycle ride here in Massachusetts. By signing up I
  1712. commit to raise a minimum of $4,200 but I aim higher. Last year with
  1713. your help, I was able to ferry in $9,385. Please check out <a href="">their web page</a>
  1714.'ll see it's an amazing event that attracts participation from
  1715. all across the country and the world. All told, we raised $35,000,000
  1716. for cancer research in 2008. Not bad!<br>
  1717.      <br>
  1718. This year&#8217;s PMC fund raising goal is anybody&#8217;s guess given the impact
  1719. of the economic crisis. Billy Starr, the executive director, said
  1720. recently, &#8220;It&#8217;s a whole new world.&#8221; That said, we all know that cancer
  1721. strikes without consulting the latest econometric data. It affects all
  1722. of us, all too often. <br>
  1723.      <br>
  1724. Many PMC people ride in honor of a friend or family member directly
  1725. affected by cancer. This year I will honor Dion Gillard, Kelvin&#8217;s
  1726. friend who lost his battle with melanoma last September.&nbsp; I can't
  1727. think of a better way to do this than to continue to work hard at the
  1728. fund raising, and then go out and break a sweat by riding with ~5,000
  1729. others from Sturbridge to Provincetown here in Massachusetts. It&#8217;s an
  1730. amazing community action, and one that has made and will continue to
  1731. make a major impact on developing new therapies and treatments to curb
  1732. and ultimately, defeat cancer. <br>
  1733.      <br>
  1734. For a detailed description of how PMC contributions have made a difference in the fight <a href="">visit this page</a>.<br>
  1735.      <br>
  1736. This year the ride is on August&nbsp; 1st and 2nd. Please join me in
  1737. this effort by sponsoring my ride. Contributions may be made as late as
  1738. September 30, 2009.<br>
  1739.      <br>
  1740. To do this, just visit my <a href="">eGIFT site</a>.<br>
  1741.      <br>
  1742. Click on 'Sponsor one rider with one donation', then open up 'Select a
  1743. person by eGift&nbsp; ID'. You'll see my name and the field to enter
  1744. the amount you wish to contribute. It's very quick and simple. The PMC
  1745. staff manage a lean operation. As they say: "Not one cent of each
  1746. dollar raised through riders' sweat and determination is used for
  1747. administrative and organizational expenses." Using the web is a major
  1748. component of this success. <br>
  1749.      <br>
  1750. If you work for IBM or a company that has a matching gift program, this
  1751. is an excellent way to double your gift. Last year, more than $2,500
  1752. was directly matched by IBM. Here's the link for <a href="">IBM's Matching Grant form</a><br>
  1753.      <br>
  1754. Just fill in your employee serial number and the amount of your donation. Then snail mail it to me at:<br>
  1755.      <br>
  1756.      <div style="margin-left: 80px;">Don Harbison<br>
  1757. 3 Thoreau Dr.<br>
  1758. Chelmsford, MA 01824<br>
  1759.      </div>
  1760.      <br>
  1761. I will take care of mailing it in to the PMC/Dana-Farber team. <br>
  1762.      <br>
  1763. I'm looking forward to the ride, and re-connecting with the amazing
  1764. community that comes together once a year. When it's over, I'll post an
  1765. update on how it went. <br>
  1766.      <br>
  1767. Thank you for your support!<br>
  1768.      <br>
  1769. Don Harbison<br>
  1770. [email protected]<br>
  1771.      <br>
  1772.      </td>
  1773.    </tr>
  1774.  </tbody>
  1775. </table>
  1776. <p><br>
  1777. </p>
  1778. ]]>
  1779. </description>
  1780. <pubDate>Mon, 27 Jul 2009 22:11:27 CDT</pubDate>
  1781. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1782. </item>
  1785. <item>
  1786. <title>The Pan-Mass Challenge - Bike riding for cancer research</title>
  1787. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1788. <link></link>
  1789. <description>
  1790. <![CDATA[
  1791. <p>You may recall that last year
  1792. I was <a href="">proud to
  1793.   support</a> my friend and colleague Don Harbison in his efforts to raise money
  1794. for cancer research at the <a href="">Dana-Farber Cancer Institute</a> by riding in the <a href="">Pan-Mass Challenge</a>.
  1795. Don is riding again this year and needs our help to reach his goals.
  1796. Despite the tougher economic times, cancer has not taken a break, and I
  1797. feel strongly that we need to continue to support research into
  1798. defeating this evil disease. As well as my own fight, I have lost my
  1799. mother, an aunt and several close friends to cancer. This is a cause
  1800. near and dear to my heart. Don asked me if I would again advertise his
  1801. efforts this year by way of a posting here and of course I agreed. I
  1802. hope some of you can join me in supporting Don. Every little helps.<br>
  1803. </p>
  1804. <p>You can sponsor Don by <a href="">visiting this link</a>.<br>
  1805. </p>            
  1806. ]]>
  1807. </description>
  1808. <pubDate>Fri, 24 Jul 2009 12:23:08 CDT</pubDate>
  1809. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1810. </item>
  1813. <item>
  1814. <title>The Hot Summer Continues</title>
  1815. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  1816. <link></link>
  1817. <description>
  1818. <![CDATA[
  1819. <p>It is always hot in Texas during the Summer time but this year is
  1820. off to an even more brutal start than usual. In June, we had something
  1821. in the order of 20 days where the temperature met or exceeded 100
  1822. degrees Fahrenheit. July has been following a similar pattern. I for
  1823. one, do not mind the heat at all but what we do need is some rain. We
  1824. have not had a good, prolonged, rain shower for weeks.&nbsp; Yesterday
  1825. some promising looking storm clouds formed around 5pm but produced very
  1826. little in the way of useful rainfall where we live.<br>
  1827. </p>
  1828. <p>A couple of weeks ago we spent a week at the <a href="">Great Wolf Lodge</a>
  1829. in Grapevine (right by the DFW airport) and had a great time. We went
  1830. there last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided to go back
  1831. again. This year I finally found the courage to ride the Tornado! It
  1832. was a lot of fun and a much needed break for me from work, which, of
  1833. late, has been extremely busy. On one of the water slides, I hit my arm
  1834. very hard on the plastic side of the tube. It hurt so much that I went
  1835. and had it X-rayed when we got back but there was no sign of any
  1836. fracture. It still hurts a lot though!&nbsp; We were also able to visit
  1837. with our great friends Rhonda and Terry and their kids Elizabeth and
  1838. Chip while in Grapevine.&nbsp; They also visited us here in Round Rock
  1839. last week for a day and we had a great time.You cannot put a price on such friends. </p>
  1840. <p>Thanks to the Internet and the BBC Radio broadcasts, I have been
  1841. keeping up with the Ashes cricket series between England and Australia.
  1842. So far it has been every bit as exciting as the series in 2005. I had
  1843. planned to visit the UK with my good friend Dion Gillard (from
  1844. Australia) this Summer to watch the cricket live. Sadly, as many of you
  1845. will know from my prior posts, cancer took Dion from us way before his
  1846. time a few months ago. I know we would have been having a great time
  1847. and I think about him often.<br>
  1848. </p>
  1849. <p>Talking of absent friends, this time last year we lost one of our
  1850. Golden retrievers, Toby. His sister Brandy was 13 on July 8th. She is
  1851. not doing so well and I fear will not be with us too much longer
  1852. either.&nbsp; While we know that 13 years old is well beyond average
  1853. for a Golden, it will still not be easy to see her go.<br>
  1854. </p>
  1855. <p>We have tried to find the kids lots of things to do that get them
  1856. out of the house during the long Summer break. Robyn did a ceramics
  1857. camp this week and I am taking Jack to a sleep-in at the Johnson Space
  1858. Center (Mission Control)  in Houston in a couple of weeks. I keep
  1859. trying to get them to play outside but given the heat, all they seem to
  1860. want to do when they are home is sit in front of the TV or the
  1861. computer. School goes back on August 25th this year so we need to keep
  1862. them busy for a few weeks yet!<br>
  1863. </p>
  1864. <p>On the medical front, my tests continue to look good but the
  1865. neuropathy is proving extremely stubborn and I am still dealing with a
  1866. lot of fatigue attacks. I have been doing some reading of medical
  1867. papers on the Web lately, and it appears that many of my symptoms seem
  1868. quite common among chemotherapy patients. I read with interest that
  1869. some doctors are now describing the after effects that chemo has on
  1870. people like me as "chemo brain". What is interesting is that I had
  1871. myself been using that phrase to somewhat jokingly describe what I have
  1872. experienced to people. Now it seems that maybe "chemo brain" will
  1873. become a more formal name for the results of chemotherapy medications
  1874. on the brain and neurological system of the patient.<br>
  1875. </p>
  1876. <p>That's it for now. As we head in to August in a few days I wish my
  1877. many friends and family in Europe all the best as they start their
  1878. prime Summer vacation season. <br>
  1879. </p>
  1880. ]]>
  1881. </description>
  1882. <pubDate>Thu, 23 Jul 2009 11:40:10 CDT</pubDate>
  1883. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1884. </item>
  1886. <item>
  1887. <title>Patents</title>
  1888. <category domain="">patents</category>
  1889. <link></link>
  1890. <description>
  1891. <![CDATA[
  1892. <p>I discovered by accident today (I promise I was not doing a "vanity search") that Google now offers a <a href="">way to search issued US patents</a>.
  1893. Having found the site, I will admit that I keyed in my first and last
  1894. names and it gave me back a ton of hits. I then remembered that patents
  1895. carry my full name so I added my middle name to the search and was
  1896. impressed to see that it found almost all of my issued US patents (I
  1897. think I have about 77 now). I also discovered that some of my issued
  1898. patents have my name spelled wrong (Kevin instead of Kelvin) so a few
  1899. don't show up in the search on my actual name!<br>
  1900. </p>
  1901. <p>If you are curious, you can find my patents, courtessy of Google, <a href=";btnG=Search+Patents">here</a> and <a href=";spell=1&amp;oi=spell">here</a>.
  1902. In case you are wondering (having looked at my search results), no, I
  1903. did not invent the system for organ placement during surgery!).<br>
  1904. </p>
  1905. <p>Anyway, if you have patents yourself or are just curious to see what you can discover I recommend doing a few searches.<br>
  1906. </p>
  1908. ]]>
  1909. </description>
  1910. <pubDate>Mon, 15 Jun 2009 13:26:39 CDT</pubDate>
  1911. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1912. </item>
  1915. <item>
  1916. <title>Graduation, Summer and more Tests!</title>
  1917. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  1918. <link></link>
  1919. <description>
  1920. <![CDATA[
  1921. <p>I have been so busy at work and at home that a month has flown by,
  1922. it seems, in the blink of an eye, since my last post. School here in
  1923. Texas is now out for the Summer. Robyn (who turned 11 in May) is no
  1924. longer in Elementary School. When school goes back in late August she
  1925. will be in Middle School. The Elementary school held a graduation
  1926. ceremony for all the fifth graders which, while cute, to my mind is a
  1927. bit over the top.&nbsp; Jack meanwhile will be in second grade when
  1928. school goes back.Where does the time go? <br>
  1929. </p>
  1930. <p>So now that school is out, I am wondering once again if I am going
  1931. to be able to work from home as much as I usually do now that my work
  1932. environment has become very LOUD!!&nbsp; I have turned on parental
  1933. control on the playroom computer which forces them to unplug for at
  1934. least part of the day. We are instigating a rule for the Summer that a
  1935. certain amount of time must be spent outdoors. We also have the kids
  1936. signed up for a few camps that will hopefully keep them distracted (and
  1937. out of the house) for at least part of the time.<br>
  1938. </p>
  1939. <p>On the medical front, last week I had my latest scheduled round of
  1940. blood tests. As far as they can tell, everything continues to look
  1941. normal. <br>
  1942. </p>
  1943. <p>It's already in the mid to high nineties Fahrenheit here, it's going to be a long, hot Summer!<br>
  1944. </p>
  1945. <p>Best wishes to all<br>
  1946. </p>
  1947. ]]>
  1948. </description>
  1949. <pubDate>Mon, 8 Jun 2009 15:55:32 CDT</pubDate>
  1950. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1951. </item>
  1954. <item>
  1955. <title>My "End of Chemo"Anniversary</title>
  1956. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1957. <link></link>
  1958. <description>
  1959. <![CDATA[
  1960. <p>I realised yesterday that this week is exactly one year on from my
  1961. last chemotherapy treatment (May 7th 2008). While I am still feeling
  1962. some of the side effects of chemo (neuropathy and fatigue mainly) I am
  1963. still alive to play with my wife and kids and enjoy spending time with
  1964. my friends, family and colleagues. For that I am very grateful.<br>
  1965. </p>
  1967. ]]>
  1968. </description>
  1969. <pubDate>Fri, 8 May 2009 09:54:11 CDT</pubDate>
  1970. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  1971. </item>
  1974. <item>
  1975. <title>Test results</title>
  1976. <category domain="">medical</category>
  1977. <link></link>
  1978. <description>
  1979. <![CDATA[
  1980. <p>When I first began posting here about my cancer diagnosis back in
  1981. October of 2007 I adopted a policy of being very open about my
  1982. "adventure" in the hope that I might be able to provide some comfort
  1983. and information to others embarking on a similar journey. By far the
  1984. highest proportion of visitors to my web site get here as a direct
  1985. result of colon cancer or chemotherapy related searches. I have made a
  1986. lot of new friends along the way, most of whom I have never met in
  1987. person, and I continue to wish them all the best for successful
  1988. outcomes in their respective battles with this evil disease. I am very
  1989. humbled by the number of people that have written to me or posted a
  1990. message into the <a href="">Guest Book</a> telling me
  1991. about their battle with cancer and thanking me for sharing my
  1992. information which helped them better understand that they were not
  1993. alone in terms of symptoms, side effects of treatment etc.<br>
  1994. </p>
  1995. <p>Thankfully my tests continue to show that I am (as far as can be
  1996. determined using current technology) cancer free. However, my journey is
  1997. far from over and I am continuing to run into additional issues that
  1998. were most likely caused by the FOLFOX chemotherapy that I underwent
  1999. between December 2007 and May 2008. Chemo has become a lot more
  2000. effective over the years but for all the good it does it definitely
  2001. comes at a price, but as my wife constantly reminds me, I am still
  2002. alive to gripe about it!&nbsp; Most recently, as I mentioned in my
  2003. prior posting, I have been suffering some fairly bad fatigue. A week
  2004. ago I went to see the oncologist and they ran a set of tests on me. All
  2005. of my basic blood work (white count, platelets, haemoglobin) came back
  2006. fine and there was no sign of any issues with my Thyroid. The only test
  2007. that seemed at all off was my Testosterone level which was at the low
  2008. end of normal ("is that chemo or my age?" I ask myself!!). Anyway, the
  2009. oncologist has decided to put me on a regimen of monthly testosterone
  2010. shots for a while to see if that helps. I had my first shot last week
  2011. and it may be my imagination but I already seem to have a bit more
  2012. energy!<br>
  2013. </p>
  2014. <p>Anyway that's it for now. Thanks as always for all the messages of
  2015. concern. It's great to know I have such a great set of people cheering
  2016. me on.<br>
  2017. </p>
  2019. ]]>
  2020. </description>
  2021. <pubDate>Thu, 30 Apr 2009 09:57:25 CDT</pubDate>
  2022. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2023. </item>
  2026. <item>
  2027. <title>Fatigue</title>
  2028. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2029. <link></link>
  2030. <description>
  2031. <![CDATA[
  2032. <p>Just recently I have been suffering fairly chronic fatigue. I start
  2033. the day with plenty of energy but by about 4pm I'm ready for a nap.
  2034. This is not like me at all. My legs have also been somewhat restless
  2035. again, which if you remember how my journey began back in October 2007
  2036. is a bit scary. My next scheduled round of tests is not until June but
  2037. (hopefully using an excess of caution) I have scheduled an appointment
  2038. with the oncologist for Monday morning to get checked out.&nbsp; The
  2039. fatigue seems to have been getting slowly worse each day for about the
  2040. last two weeks and I want to make sure nothing unusual is going on.
  2041. Suffice to say I'm a bit nervous.I'll keep you all posted as soon as I have some results. </p>
  2042. ]]>
  2043. </description>
  2044. <pubDate>Sat, 18 Apr 2009 22:22:15 CDT</pubDate>
  2045. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2046. </item>
  2049. <item>
  2050. <title>World Autism Awareness Day</title>
  2051. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2052. <link></link>
  2053. <description>
  2054. <![CDATA[
  2055. <p>Today is <a href="">World Autism Awareness day</a>.
  2056. This is a subject near and dear to my heart as my son Jack is on the
  2057. Autism "spectrum" and has been diagnosed with Aspergers and ADHD among
  2058. other things. We have other family members that are also dealing with
  2059. autism on a daily basis. Whether you are a parent of an autistic child
  2060. or a person dealing with the austism spectrum disorder (ASD) on a
  2061. personal level, today is a day on which we can show our support for
  2062. each other.<br>
  2063. </p>
  2064. ]]>
  2065. </description>
  2066. <pubDate>Thu, 2 Apr 2009 14:24:33 CDT</pubDate>
  2067. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2068. </item>
  2070. <item>
  2071. <title>Entries from 2008 are now in the Archive</title>
  2072. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  2073. <link></link>
  2074. <description>
  2075. <![CDATA[
  2076. <p>I did a little Spring cleaning of the <a href="">web page</a> today.&nbsp;
  2077. All entries from 2008 have now been moved into
  2078. the <a href="">Archive</a>.
  2079. Please <a href="mailto:[email protected]">let me know</a> if you run into
  2080. any broken links or other problems.<br>
  2081. ]]>
  2082. </description>
  2083. <pubDate>Tue, 31 Mar 2009 14:20:41 CDT</pubDate>
  2084. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2085. </item>
  2087. <item>
  2088. <title>Spring is here in Texas</title>
  2089. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  2090. <category domain="">texas</category>
  2091. <link></link>
  2092. <description>
  2093. <![CDATA[
  2094. <p>Although Spring does not officially start for a few more days (March
  2095. 20th), as I type this it is close to 80F outside and the Red Buds are
  2096. in full bloom. This week is Spring Break for the kids. Robyn is at a
  2097. Girl Scouts camp all week and Jack is enjoying a series of extended
  2098. play dates with some of his friends. I have a lot of work to get done
  2099. (which is bad planning on my part) so I am hiding in my home office a
  2100. lot, with the door shut!&nbsp; Last week we finally got some much
  2101. needed rain as a cold front arrived and stayed for a few days. I think
  2102. we are still below where we need to be and if we don't get some good
  2103. storms during the Spring we could be in for a very hot Summer. As is
  2104. typical around these parts at this time of the year, the week before
  2105. the cold front hit, the temperature was in the 90s F. Several of my
  2106. colleagues were in town that week to attend the <a href="">SHARE</a>
  2107. conference which was held in Austin for the first time. I'm glad they
  2108. got to enjoy some nice weather while they were here and in these times
  2109. of reduced travel, it was great to see them.<br>
  2110. </p>
  2111. <p>This past Sunday, we went to see the Broadway touring production of
  2112. "Spamalot" here in Austin. It was excellent. Richard Chamberlain was
  2113. great as King Arthur and it's hard to believe that he is now 75 years
  2114. of age. This coming Saturday we have tickets to see Elton John and
  2115. Billy Joel live in concert. I have seen them together before and am
  2116. hoping for another great show. We don't get out that often so having
  2117. two great events on back to back weekends is a real treat!<br>
  2118. </p>
  2119. <p>One of the reasons I have been posting here a bit less is that I have been trying to give more real time status updates on both <a href="">Facebook</a> and <a href="">Twitter</a>.
  2120. I have to say though that the recent changes made to the Facebook web
  2121. page (I think it's a real mess now) probably mean I will be spending
  2122. less time there in the future<br>
  2123. </p>
  2124. <p>On the medical front I am continuing to get my strength back but
  2125. lately have been feeling a bit more tired than usual and I think I have
  2126. overdone it a bit both in terms of trying to get back into shape and
  2127. also in terms of housework and other errands. Lorna and I debated
  2128. buying a treadmill but after researching how much a decent one costs we
  2129. ended up joining a local gym which offers a pay by the month plan. I
  2130. have been trying to get to the gym one or two times a week. I feel like
  2131. I am in hand to hand combat right now with the drugs that help with my
  2132. neuropathy. I love that they cure the pain but I hate that they help me
  2133. gain weight!</p>
  2134. <p><br>
  2135. That's it for now then - I hope you are well as you read this.<br>
  2136. </p>
  2137. ]]>
  2138. </description>
  2139. <pubDate>Wed, 18 Mar 2009 15:59:31 CDT</pubDate>
  2140. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2141. </item>
  2143. <item>
  2144. <title>Another year older - and that's a good thing!</title>
  2145. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2146. <link></link>
  2147. <description>
  2148. <![CDATA[
  2149. <p>A few days ago (February 1st), I celebrated my 44th birthday. I was
  2150. overwhelmed with all of the nice messages that I received. Thank you
  2151. all very much! When the journey that I have been on began back in
  2152. October 2007, I had serious doubts I would still be here at this time
  2153. and I am so grateful and blessed that I am.</p>
  2154. <p>A few days after my birthday it was time for my next round of blood
  2155. work and physical exams. The worst part about the blood tests are that
  2156. they can give you you basic numbers (white count, platelets,
  2157. haemoglobin) almost right away but it takes a day to get the <a href="">"CEA marker"</a>
  2158. test back (and those are the ones that can indicate a recurrence of
  2159. colon cancer). I am happy to report that all of the tests (both blood
  2160. work and physical exam) came back clean and as far as the doctors can
  2161. tell, I remain cancer free. I have no more tests scheduled until June
  2162. (so I get four months to try and relax a bit). The neuropathy continues
  2163. to be an issue. As an experiment, n discussions with my oncologist, we
  2164. agreed to try reducing the amount of Lyrica I am taking to see if the
  2165. pain remains under control while hopefully stemming the weight gain
  2166. that I have been experiencing since I started on this drug. For the
  2167. benefit of fellow patients that I know are reading this blog, the
  2168. Lyrica has done a really good job with the pain but it seems to be the
  2169. main cause of my weight gain. I'm also trying to focus on exercise and
  2170. fitness to see if I can win back a few pounds. I'll keep you all posted
  2171. on my progress!<br>
  2172. </p>
  2173. <p>I hope everyone is off to good start in 2009 and I particularly want
  2174. to send out best wishes to all of the other cancer patients out there
  2175. that I have met because of this blog.<br>
  2176. </p>
  2178. ]]>
  2179. </description>
  2180. <pubDate>Fri, 13 Feb 2009 10:55:12 CST</pubDate>
  2181. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2182. </item>
  2185. <item>
  2186. <title>My use of &quot;social networking&quot; tools</title>
  2187. <category domain="">socialnetworking</category>
  2188. <category domain="">web</category>
  2189. <link></link>
  2190. <description>
  2191. <![CDATA[
  2192. <p>While I still like having a journal of significant events here
  2193. (especially the medical ones), and I fully plan to continue making
  2194. regular updates, I have been finding that lately I spend a lot of time
  2195. posting updates and communicating with people using so called "social
  2196. networking" tools and web sites. Specifically I find my self using four
  2197. web based tools a lot. For me each one fulfills a different and yet
  2198. interesting, role. One thing I like is the real time nature of these
  2199. tools. When I write a blog posting (such as this one) I try to put a
  2200. lot of thought into it and I have to carve out a fairly substantial
  2201. chunk of time to do it. By contrast, it takes no time at all to update
  2202. my Facebook status or to post a quick "tweet" on Twitter in answer to
  2203. the basic question of "What are you doing now?". So whereas I may
  2204. update this blog on avaerage about once a week. I will update Facebook
  2205. and Twitter multiple times a day typically. Below is a table of the
  2206. four sites I use the most. If you click on the links you will get to my
  2207. specific page on each site. Alsongside each entry in the table is a
  2208. brief summary of what I use each one for. If we are not already
  2209. connected on any or all of these tools please feel free to reach out
  2210. and make a connection! <br>
  2211. </p>
  2212. <table style="text-align: left; width: 80%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" border="1" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
  2213.  <tbody>
  2214.    <tr>
  2215.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><a href="">Facebook</a></td>
  2216.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">I view Facebook as the primary
  2217. place that I interact on-line with my family and friends. Facebook is
  2218. also the tool I have been most actively using for the longest time.
  2219. While I also do find work colleagues there, the discussions, at least
  2220. the ones I am most involved in, tend to be more about non-work
  2221. activities. Unlike some, but like many others, I also enjoy many of the
  2222. games that are available on Facebook. I tend to play mostly word games
  2223. and puzzle games and for the most part avoid collecting fish! I tend
  2224. to&nbsp; know most of the people I am connected to on Facebook. I am
  2225. less likely to accept a friendship offer from someone I don't know
  2226. unless the person is recommended by a person I trust. I mostly interact
  2227. with Face book using their web page but I also use their Blackberry
  2228. client. The facebook tools for finding people you know seem pretty
  2229. good. <br>
  2230.      </td>
  2231.    </tr>
  2232.    <tr>
  2233.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><a href="">Twitter</a></td>
  2234.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">I am fairly new to Twitter. I
  2235. have been using it since last October. I view Twitter as a mix between
  2236. so called "micro blogging" and instant messaging with persistence.
  2237. Unlike Facebook, I do take part in many technical discussions with
  2238. people on Twitter. You can chose to have your messages be open to all
  2239. or just to your followers/fiends. Each message you post is limited to
  2240. 140 characters. I have many people that I "talk" to via Twitter and
  2241. many of them I have never met before or even knew of before we found
  2242. each other on Twitter. These type of connections work best when people
  2243. have a common interest. You will find all types of people on Twitter
  2244. including many celebrities. Many of the people follow tend to discuss
  2245. technical things related to computers but I also follow people
  2246. discussing topics like autism, local events in Austin and of course
  2247. people that I just find interesting. Twitter has a lot of applications
  2248. that you can run on your computer or handheld to read and post "tweets"
  2249. but I tend mainly to use the web interface. I do however
  2250. run a couple of Twitter clients on my Blackberry. The one I use the
  2251. most at the moment is TwitterBerry. I find it quite difficult to easily
  2252. find people I want to connect to. I usally have to rely on spotting a
  2253. conversation between people I know or stumbling upon an ongoing
  2254. conversation that looks interesting. The tools provided fot finding
  2255. friends need some work in my opinion.<br>
  2256.      </td>
  2257.    </tr>
  2258.    <tr>
  2259.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><a href="">LinkedIn</a></td>
  2260.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">I view LinkedIn as my primary
  2261. on-line resume/CV and business contacts database. Sadly in recent weeks
  2262. I have been getting a lot of requests via LinkedIn to recommend people
  2263. who are tidying up their resumes. My best wishes to all of them. I
  2264. almost always interact with LinkedIn using the web page interface. As a
  2265. general rule I will only accept a connection request from someone I
  2266. have either met in person or on the phone. Likewise, I am very careful
  2267. with my recommendations. I try to view LinkedIn as a very professional
  2268. environment and treat it and the people I find there in that way. The
  2269. LinkedIn tools for finding people you know seem pretty good and I have
  2270. even managed to find old university class mates from the 1980's using
  2271. the tools provided on the web site.<br>
  2272.      </td>
  2273.    </tr>
  2274.    <tr>
  2275.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><a href="">Plaxo</a></td>
  2276.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Of the four,Plaxo is the one I
  2277. use the least. I am not 100% sure what Plaxo wants to be and I am still
  2278. trying to decide if it should be on my list here. It is sort of a
  2279. mixture between Facebook (without the apps) and LinkedIn. One thing
  2280. that Plaxo is very good at is aggregating information from multiple
  2281. sources (blogs,,Flickr, etc) into a single place. That is
  2282. the primary reason I use it. I have very few connections on Plaxo that
  2283. I am not also connected to elsewhere (typically on LinkedIn or
  2284. Facebook). I only use the web interface and don't know if other options
  2285. exist.<br>
  2286.      </td>
  2287.    </tr>
  2288.  </tbody>
  2289. </table>
  2290. <p><br>
  2291. </p>
  2292. <p>There are a lot of other sites that offer similar facilities, but
  2293. these are the four that I currently use and&nbsp; they, I think, cover
  2294. my personal life connectivity needs! I do also use sites like <a href=""></a>
  2295. and Digg to store my bookmarks on-line but I am not including those
  2296. sites in this list. I also use photo sharing sites like Flickr and
  2297. Picasa but for now I am not listing those here either. I am finding
  2298. that I use e-mail and dedicated instant messaging tools less these
  2299. days, especially since Facebook added an instant messaging facility. Of
  2300. course I also use a lot of additional tools for my day job including
  2301. the more traditional tools like e-mail, instant messaging, news groups
  2302. and discussion lists, as well as some of the more interesting web
  2303. conferencing and collaboration tools but the the web sites listed above
  2304. I view as more the ones I use in my personal life. I could also get
  2305. into my use of virtual worlds like Second Life but that deserves a
  2306. whole posting of its own at some future date.<br>
  2307. </p>
  2308. <p>An interesting footnote to this posting is that I feel so well in
  2309. touch these says with my friends and family around the World that I
  2310. think Christmas cards, at least for us, are probably a thing of the
  2311. past (sort of sad but also the reality of the times we live in).<br>
  2312. </p>
  2313. By the way, if you are reading this at my web site rather than via an
  2314. RSS reader, then you will see links to many of the sites that I use in
  2315. the side bar on the left hand side of the home page. You may have to
  2316. scroll the side bar down a bit to see them all.<br>
  2317. <br>
  2318. That's it for now then. Apologies to folks who don't come here to read
  2319. technical stuff. I'll be back to talking medical and family stuff again
  2320. soon as my next cancer screening is just a few days away but this is a
  2321. posting I have wanted to make for some time.<br>
  2322. </p>    
  2323. ]]>
  2324. </description>
  2325. <pubDate>Thu, 29 Jan 2009 21:09:53 CST</pubDate>
  2326. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2327. </item>
  2331. <item>
  2332. <title>Brief medical update</title>
  2333. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2334. <link></link>
  2335. <description>
  2336. <![CDATA[
  2337. <p>I haven't posted a medical update for a while and several of you
  2338. have been kind enough to inquire as to my status. So, here is a very
  2339. quick update. I have no more tests planned until early next month. As
  2340. far as I know the next round of tests will just be blood work. The
  2341. biggest problem right now is the neuropathy left behind by the FOLFOX
  2342. chemotherapy (that ended last May). Specifically this is caused by the
  2343. Oxaliplatin drug. I am told that it can take a year or more (from the
  2344. day chemo ends) for this to go away. I am currently taking Lyrica which
  2345. does a really good job of reducing the pain but seems to have the
  2346. unfortunate side effect of causing substantial weight gain. Lately I
  2347. have been exercising regularly (riding the bike, walking, in-line
  2348. skating, lifting weights) but no matter what I do I am finding it
  2349. impossible the weight I have gained since I started taking Lyrica.
  2350. Usually I find it very easy to lose weight so this is, to say the
  2351. least, a bit frustrating!&nbsp; A week ago, I decided I would try an
  2352. experiment and stop taking the Lyrica. Three days after I stopped the
  2353. pain in my hands and feet became unbearable and I started taking it
  2354. again. The pain almost immediately subsided. So I feel as if I am stuck
  2355. in a situation where I can be in pain but losing weight or pain free
  2356. and heavy!&nbsp; I plan to talk to my oncologist again next month about
  2357. this. That said, my wife keeps reminding me that my body has been
  2358. through a lot in the last year or so and that I need to be patient. I
  2359. know she is right but it really bugs me that most of my clothes are
  2360. tight!<br>
  2361. </p>
  2362. <p>I continue to be humbled by the fact that I am still being contacted
  2363. by fellow cancer patients (usually colon cancer patients like myself)
  2364. who have found&nbsp; my web site while searching the internet for
  2365. reassurance as they start their treatment. That was one of the main
  2366. reasons I started keeping the journal here of my treatment and I am
  2367. really pleased that it has been useful to others. If you are a cancer
  2368. patient reading this, e-mail me and I will always reply and I will help
  2369. in any way I can by sharing my experiences. You can reach me by sending
  2370. e-mail to [email protected]<br>
  2371. </p>
  2372. ]]>
  2373. </description>
  2374. <pubDate>Sun, 18 Jan 2009 22:33:48 CST</pubDate>
  2375. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2376. </item>
  2378. <item>
  2379. <title>Happy New Year and now it's back to work!</title>
  2380. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  2381. <link></link>
  2382. <description>
  2383. <![CDATA[
  2384. <p>First of all I would like to wish all of my friends and family around the World a belated "Happy New Year".<br>
  2385. </p>
  2386. <p>I'm back to work today for the first time in several weeks and the
  2387. kids are back at school. The house feels extremely quiet.&nbsp; I took
  2388. an extended break to burn off all of my unused vacation time and I feel
  2389. a lot more rested as a result. I have spent a lot of time over the past
  2390. few weeks playing with the kids both indoors and outdoors and finally
  2391. catching up on many house projects and also on my reading. Our video
  2392. games and our bicycles all got an extended workout too andI even got both my daughter's bedroom the garage tidied up! <br>
  2393. </p>
  2394. <p>We celebrated Jack's seventh birthday on December 17th. I cannot
  2395. believe that he is seven already. I need to upload the photos from my
  2396. camera and post a few here.<br>
  2397. </p>
  2398. <p>Looking back, 2008 as far as I am concerned, was truly a year unlike
  2399. any other. I was in chemotherapy for the first 24 weeks of the year and
  2400. then recovering from the side effects for a long time after that. In
  2401. fact, I am still dealing with some of them and probably will be for
  2402. some time to come. I'm not complaining however. I'm still here for my
  2403. family and that's all that matters.&nbsp; There was also the seemingly
  2404. endless schedule of blood tests, CT scans, surgeries and other fun stuff.
  2405. Thankfully I have no more tests or other medical procedures scheduled
  2406. until next month. I can finally feel my energy returning and I have
  2407. started trying to exercise regularly. Over the holidays I spent a lot
  2408. of time riding my bike and working out with weights. I also want to get
  2409. my Rollerblades out of retirement once it stops raining! <br>
  2410. </p>
  2411. <p>One of the&nbsp; post chemo side effects I need to address somehow
  2412. is the weight that I gained due largely&nbsp; to the medications I
  2413. still have to take daily.&nbsp; Right now I weigh about 50 pounds more
  2414. than I did a few weeks after surgery in October 2007 (which of course
  2415. caused me to lose weight) and about 30 of those pounds seemed to appear
  2416. very soon after I started taking a specific drug back in August. So, to
  2417. a large degree I had little control over the weight I have gained but I
  2418. have decided to draw a line in the sand and try to fight back!&nbsp;
  2419. Check back here periodically for news (hopefully) of my progress!<br>
  2420. </p>
  2421. <p>Meanwhile the weather here has been crazy. It was 83 degrees
  2422. Fahrenheit two days ago and I was out in shorts. Today it's raining and
  2423. barely above freezing. It's supposed to be back in the seventies by
  2424. midweek - such is a Central Texas Winter !<br>
  2425. </p>
  2426. <p>Anyway, this has been a nice diversion but I need to get back to
  2427. work so here's wishing everyone all the very best for a safe and happy
  2428. 2009.<br>
  2429. </p>
  2430. ]]>
  2431. </description>
  2432. <pubDate>Mon, 5 Jan 2009 12:17:35 CST</pubDate>
  2433. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2434. </item>
  2436. <item>
  2437. <title>School's out for ... Winter!</title>
  2438. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  2439. <link></link>
  2440. <description>
  2441. <![CDATA[
  2442. <p>I apologise for not having posted here since December 4th as I have
  2443. continued to be extremely busy finishing up work for the year and then
  2444. getting stuck into the many tasks that have been sitting patiently on
  2445. my non work to-do list. So this entry is a quick update on life in the
  2446. Lawrence household as another year draws to a close. <br>
  2447. </p>
  2448. <p>Because I spent almost half the year on chemotherapy, and also as I
  2449. am still dealing with side effects from both my surgery and the chemo,
  2450. we didn't take much family vacation time this year. Consequently,&nbsp;
  2451. given that, as with most companies, my vacation is on a "use it or lose
  2452. it" basis, I started December with about 19 days of vacation left to
  2453. take. As a result, I have been off work for over a week now and will
  2454. not be back officially until January 5th next year. I say "officially"
  2455. as I am still checking my e-mail and attending the occasional meeting
  2456. by phone as I just cannot stand to be out of touch for a whole month at
  2457. a time when things at work are so busy.<br>
  2458. </p>
  2459. <p>As you may have guessed from the title of this entry, today is the
  2460. last day of school for the year. The kids should be home soon. I have
  2461. been enjoying the quiet at home the last week or so as I worked on my
  2462. various chores and projects - oh well, it was good while it lasted!<br>
  2463. </p>
  2464. <p>As far as the household projects go, among the more notable are my
  2465. daughter's bedroom, which I have remodeled and emptied out
  2466. substantially&nbsp; (something she has been begging me to help her do
  2467. for ages) and I am part way through converting one of the other rooms
  2468. in the house into a workout area (something I very much need). The meds
  2469. I am on to combat the neuropathy left behind by chemotherapy have added
  2470. about 30 pounds to my post-surgery weight. I don't seem to have a lot
  2471. of control over this but I am trying hard to lose a few of those pounds
  2472. somehow. I usually find it very easy to lose weight but not this time.
  2473. I am going to have to work out extra hard. The pedometer that Lorna got
  2474. me shows I am averaging over 3 miles walked a day and many days lately
  2475. I have walked five miles or more but it doesn't seem to be enough.
  2476. Hence I need to get into some sort of regular workout regimen as I fear
  2477. I'll be on these meds for a while yet. I tried coming off them for one
  2478. day a week or so ago and the pain was unbearable by mid-afternoon.
  2479. Generally on the medical front I am doing quite well - neuropathy
  2480. aside. I have no more tests scheduled until February.<br>
  2481. </p>
  2482. <p>This week I am trying to get more into Christmas activities. I
  2483. cannot believe that Christmas Day is only a week away. I feel very
  2484. unprepared this year - although we do have the gifts for the kids both
  2485. purchassed and wrapped. Our tree is up, the lights are on, but we still
  2486. need to decorate it. Part of the reason for the tree delay is that the
  2487. new tree we bought last year (a large 10ft self lit one) seems to have
  2488. shorted out and after wasting an hour trying to fix it Lorna and I
  2489. decided to cut our losses and go buy a replacement. We have not even
  2490. tried to send Christmas cards this year. Apologies to all of my friends
  2491. and family that we usually send one too. We've just been too busy with
  2492. medical appointments and other unexpected health issues with other
  2493. family members to manage to send Christmas cards. We'll be trying to
  2494. contact everyone either by phone or e-mail over the holiday period. I
  2495. bought a Christmas train set to go under the tree (I saw it on sale and
  2496. could not resist it - I'm still a kid at heart) and I shall be putting
  2497. that together later today.<br>
  2498. </p>
  2499. <p>In amongst all of the house projects I have been trying to have a
  2500. little fun as well. I have spent quite a few hours playing <a
  2501. href="">video games</a> (both alone and with the rest
  2502. of the family).&nbsp; Our most played game right now are Wii Fit and
  2503. Guitar Hero III - Legends of Rock (I have finally almost mastered the
  2504. most basic level!). I have also been trying to get caught up on my <a
  2505. href="">reading</a>. I have a lot of books sitting <a
  2506. href="">in the queue</a> waiting to be read. I'm
  2507. currently reading <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Hawke</span>
  2508. by Tedd Bell (I really like his books so far) and next on deck in the
  2509. 1000 plus page <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Cryptonomicon</span>
  2510. by Neal Stephenson (I have not read any of his books yet but I am told
  2511. that is a good one).<br>
  2512. </p>
  2513. <p>As I type this I am in shorts and it is 71F outside (apologies to my
  2514. friends in the North Eastern US that are buried in snow). A few days
  2515. ago the temperature was in the 20's and it actually snowed a few
  2516. flakes. The day before that it was 80F. This weekend it is supposed to
  2517. get cold again before warming up again next week. The weather here can
  2518. only be described as crazy!<br>
  2519. </p>
  2520. <p>Last weekend my trusty Mac Book Pro, which has worked flawlessly for
  2521. the past year, froze and I had to forcefully power it off. After that I
  2522. could not get it to reboot. I was however able to restore the machine
  2523. using the wonderful Time Machine backup program that comes as part of
  2524. Mac OS X. Thankfully I had been keeping regular backups so I was able
  2525. to restore the machine to the state it had been in right before it
  2526. froze. However, the disk was now making very odd noises and experience
  2527. told me it was dying and would soon fail for good. I made an
  2528. appointment to go and see the folks at the "Genius Bar" in the local
  2529. Apple store on Monday morning and even though my machine was two weeks
  2530. out of warranty (go figure) they offered to replace the disk for free
  2531. (I didn't even have to do any begging or groveling) . They didn't have
  2532. one in stock but said they would order me one. Wednesday evening they
  2533. called and said the disk was in. On Thursday evening I dropped the
  2534. machine off at around 7pm and went with the family to have dinner.
  2535. Right after dinner, around 8:30pm,&nbsp; they called me and said the
  2536. machine was ready to pickup. Today I restored the computer using the
  2537. same Time Machine backups I had used before and I now have my system
  2538. back just as it was but running on a brand new disk. The combination of
  2539. the great service from the Apple store and the ease with which I was
  2540. able to restore my machine truly impressed me (and that's not easy with
  2541. this type of stuff). I will definitely be buying more Macs as the other
  2542. machines in the house grow older and need replacing. I have really
  2543. developed a liking for my Mac Book Pro since buying it to be my
  2544. companion during the seemingly endless hours of chemotherapy treatment,
  2545. but this just experience further convinced me that they are worth the
  2546. premium price charged for them.<br>
  2547. </p>
  2548. <p>That's it for now then. I'd like to take this opportunity to wish
  2549. all of my friends and family around the World a very safe and happy
  2550. Christmas.&nbsp; To all of my friends that celebrate other holidays,
  2551. all the very best to you too. I hope you all find peace and happiness
  2552. in each of your endeavours.</p>
  2553. <p><br>                  
  2554. ]]>
  2555. </description>
  2556. <pubDate>Fri, 19 Dec 2008 16:52:54 CST</pubDate>
  2557. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2558. </item>
  2561. <item>
  2562. <title>Can it really be December again already?</title>
  2563. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  2564. <link></link>
  2565. <description>
  2566. <![CDATA[
  2567. <p>Things have been very busy both at home and at work with it being
  2568. the holiday season now. I took last week off to spend time with the
  2569. family and to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday here in the United States.
  2570. This week (as always happens) I am trying to get caught up on the
  2571. backlog of work and e-mail that builds up whenever one takes a few days
  2572. off!&nbsp; That said, given I spent almost half the year undergoing
  2573. chemotherapy, I have not used much of my vacation entitlement for this
  2574. year. Consequently, Friday (as in tomorrow) will be my last day at work
  2575. for 2008. I will not return to work (officially) until January 5th next
  2576. year. I say "officially" as I will still be checking my e-mail while
  2577. away to avoid having to deal with a mountain of unread mail when I get
  2578. back to work in January. It's hard to believe it's that time of year
  2579. again.<br>
  2580. </p>
  2581. <p>Last week we took the kids to see the movie Bolt in 3D. I enjoyed
  2582. the movie and thought the 3D technology used was a lot better than I
  2583. had expected it would be. In general (aside from what I regard as
  2584. specialist environments such as Disney and Universal Studios) I have
  2585. not enjoyed broad release 3D movies. Bolt definitely is an exception to
  2586. that and I would recommend it as a good family movie.&nbsp; Meanwhile,
  2587. the weather here in the Austin area has been gorgeous. Blue skies and
  2588. very warm temperatures. Yesterday our daytime high was 79 degrees
  2589. Fahrenheit. That said, last night, as often happens this time of year,
  2590. a cold front blew through and this morning we woke up to a chilly 35
  2591. degrees. It was cold enough that my son ran from the car into the
  2592. school at full speed - not his usual MO at all !<br>
  2593. </p>
  2594. <p>I have not posted here for a few days but I have been making regular posts both on <a href="">Twitter</a> (my ID is @gfxman if you are a Twitter user) and on <a href="">Facebook</a><a href="">.</a>
  2595. Somehow I find it takes me a lot more effort to sit down and write a
  2596. (hopefully) meaningful blog post than it does to quickly update my
  2597. status on Twitter and Facebook. Many of my friends and colleagues have
  2598. made the same observation. I still enjoy both reading and writing blog
  2599. posts (and I particularly like having a nice journal of things I can
  2600. look back on - such as my treatment log here) but I must confess that I
  2601. am able to keep up with most of my friends and some of my family these
  2602. days via Facebook. I have been using Facebook for quite a while now but
  2603. I am fairly new to Twitter and still not exactly sure if it's for me
  2604. but I am persevering with it for a bit longer. I find it much easier to
  2605. find people I know and want to keep in touch with on Facebook than on
  2606. Twitter. To be fair though, a lot of people I like following from a
  2607. computing/IT perspective do seem to be on Twitter so maybe that is just
  2608. a different community. In fact the overlap of people I follow who are
  2609. both on Facebook and Twitter seems to be quite small.<br>
  2610. </p>
  2611. <p>At any rate, it's hard to believe that December has crept up on me
  2612. again and that another year is almost over. I will write a "look back
  2613. at the year" post closer to the end of the year but for now let's just
  2614. say I have a lot to be thankful for in 2008. My family, my friends, my
  2615. doctors, the fact that I have no more medical tests until February, the
  2616. list seems almost endless. It truly has been a year unlike any other.
  2617. TTFN.<br>
  2618. </p>                
  2619. ]]>
  2620. </description>
  2621. <pubDate>Thu, 4 Dec 2008 10:06:22 CST</pubDate>
  2622. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2623. </item>
  2625. <item>
  2626. <title>Preliminary biopsy results</title>
  2627. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2628. <link></link>
  2629. <description>
  2630. <![CDATA[
  2631. <p>Last Wednesday I went into the Round Rock Medical Center for a <a href="">bone marrow biopsy</a>.&nbsp;
  2632. I have had a lot of new experiences during the past twelve months and
  2633. this was another first! For those who are interested, the procedure is
  2634. done while the patient (me) is face down on the table with his backside
  2635. stuck into the CT machine. They sedate you thankfully before sticking
  2636. big needles into your pelvic bone (at the Iliac crest). It was sort of
  2637. interesting to see the doctor dressed up in a special protective suit
  2638. that to me made him look like something out of Power Rangers! It was
  2639. also interesting to ponder how come he gets a suit and I don't :-)<br>
  2640. </p>
  2641. <p>As I mentioned in my prior posting, this was to see if the
  2642. chemotherapy treatments had damaged the bone marrow badly enough that
  2643. it needs treating. I called the doctor's office about an hour ago to
  2644. see if they had the results back. They did. I am hugely relieved to say
  2645. that his preliminary reading of the results is that everything looks
  2646. normal. As far as I know this means I don't need additional treatment
  2647. and I just have to be patient and let my body heal itself. Thanks
  2648. everyone for all your messages of support and encouragement in
  2649. the  <a href="">Guest Book</a> and elsewhere once again during this period.<br>
  2650. </p>
  2652. ]]>
  2653. </description>
  2654. <pubDate>Mon, 17 Nov 2008 10:54:30 CST</pubDate>
  2655. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2656. </item>
  2659. <item>
  2660. <title>Test results good but more tests needed...</title>
  2661. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2662. <link></link>
  2663. <description>
  2664. <![CDATA[
  2665. We met with the oncologist on Friday to get the results of the blood
  2666. tests and CT scan that I had earlier in the week. The good news is that
  2667. there continues to be no further signs of any cancer. This is a huge
  2668. relief. I was extremely nervous going into this test cycle. My spleen
  2669. continues to be enlarged so next week I am going in to the hospital for
  2670. a bone marrow biopsy. The theory is that the chemotherapy damaged my
  2671. bone marrow causing the spleen to pick up the slack. We need to find
  2672. out how badly the bone marrow was damaged. Depending on the biopsy
  2673. results, I may need treatment to help the marrow recover. All things
  2674. considered I am doing well and for the most part still on the mend. My
  2675. blood levels are the best they have been in over a year.<br>
  2676. </p>
  2677. <p>I am grateful to everyone who has been calling me and writing to me
  2678. to ask about the test results. Sorry it has taken me a few days to
  2679. update the status here. I had a good friend in town staying with us for
  2680. the weekend. Yesterday we went to the UT game (against Baylor) in the
  2681. morning and my kids both had soccer games in the afternoon followed by
  2682. an end of season pizza party. Just another quiet Saturday. I am trying
  2683. to get caught up on my web and e-mail backlog today!<br>
  2684. </p>
  2685. <p>So that's the medical update for now. I'll post again after the
  2686. biopsy. The results will take over a week to come back, so it will be
  2687. Thanksgiving here in the US before we know the outcome most likely.<br>
  2688. </p>
  2689. <p>Meanwhile, the weather here in Texas has been gorgeous. Cool
  2690. overnight (40's F)
  2691. and then warming up to almost 80 during the day with not a cloud in the
  2692. sky so still wearing shorts in mid-November and yesterday Arsenal beat
  2693. Manchester United, what more could I ask
  2694. for?&nbsp;&nbsp; :-)
  2695. ]]>
  2696. </description>
  2697. <pubDate>Sun, 9 Nov 2008 09:31:08 CST</pubDate>
  2698. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2699. </item>
  2701. <item>
  2702. <title>A "Testing" week ahead</title>
  2703. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2704. <link></link>
  2705. <description>
  2706. <![CDATA[
  2707. <p>No, I'm not referring to the US elections tomorrow unfortunately.
  2708. Instead, for me it's time for the next round of post chemo medical
  2709. checks. Tomorrow after a scheduled 7am work meeting and a trip to the
  2710. local school to vote, I have to go to the Oncologist's office for blood
  2711. tests and then on Wednesday I have a CT scan scheduled. We are due to
  2712. meet with the doctor to get the results on Friday. So while by tomorrow
  2713. night one way or another millions of people here in the US will be
  2714. celebrating, I have to wait a few more days to get the result that I
  2715. most care about - I know, call me selfish!<br>
  2716. </p>
  2717. <p>Meanwhile I do plan to stay up late tomorrow night and watch the
  2718. results come in on what may well be an historic day in American
  2719. history. I will however be glad when the whole election process is
  2720. over. I am so sick of the endless TV coverage, the annoying commercials
  2721. that say nothing about what their candidate would do and instead just
  2722. focus on why the other guy is even worse as well as the phone calls and
  2723. visits to the front door. I just hope and pray that the balloting
  2724. process passes without any major mishaps this time around and that by
  2725. sometime on Wednesday, we have a clear winner.<br>
  2726. </p>
  2727. <p>Living in Texas, my vote, sadly has little meaning (no matter which
  2728. way I vote this state will stay Republican), but at least I can go to
  2729. Starbucks after the doctor, tell them I voted, and get a free cup of
  2730. coffee!!&nbsp; Hopefully I can also tell them I voted for the guy who
  2731. won :-)<br>
  2732. </p>
  2733. ]]>
  2734. </description>
  2735. <pubDate>Mon, 3 Nov 2008 22:40:49 CST</pubDate>
  2736. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2737. </item>
  2739. <item>
  2740. <title>One year on from surgery that saved my life</title>
  2741. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2742. <link></link>
  2743. <description>
  2744. <![CDATA[
  2745. <p>One year ago, I was in the Seton hospital here in Austin having just
  2746. had most of my colon removed and was waiting for the tests results that
  2747. would determine how seriously ill I really was. We knew from the prior
  2748. biopsy that I had cancer but what we did not know, and needed to find
  2749. out,&nbsp; was how advanced it really was. We also knew that the tumor
  2750. that had just been removed was about the "size of the surgeons fist"
  2751. (his words not mine). It was a nervous few days waiting for the test
  2752. results on the lymph nodes to come back. The surgeon (unbeknownst me)
  2753. had told my wife he feared I was at stage three based on his visual
  2754. examination of the nodes. My wife had to worry through this time a lot
  2755. more than I did as I was heavily sedated and not fully aware of what
  2756. was going on.&nbsp; Thankfully, all 37 lymph nodes that were tested
  2757. came back negative and I officially became a stage two cancer patient.
  2758. So began many months of recovery from surgery and chemotherapy to
  2759. (hopefully) kill any cancer cells that had escaped prior to, or during,
  2760. surgery. <br>
  2761. </p>
  2762. <p>I am very grateful that due to the skill of the doctors that
  2763. diagnosed me and performed the surgery on me as well as the oncologist
  2764. who subsequently blasted my body with chemotherapy that I am still here
  2765. to type this text today.<br>
  2766. </p>
  2767. <p>I think I'll keep this post brief and reflect on how blessed and how
  2768. lucky I am to have such great doctors, who are still looking after me,
  2769. and such&nbsp; <a href="">great friends</a> who have
  2770. helped me keep my spirits up through the last twelve months. Also, if
  2771. you have been thinking about, but putting off, getting a colonoscopy
  2772. done - do it now - it could save your life!<br>
  2773. </p>    
  2774. ]]>
  2775. </description>
  2776. <pubDate>Tue, 28 Oct 2008 11:00:56 CDT</pubDate>
  2777. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2778. </item>                  
  2780. <item>
  2781. <title>Colorado Software Summit</title>
  2782. <category domain="">conferences</category>
  2783. <link></link>
  2784. <description>
  2785. <![CDATA[
  2786. I'm spending the week at the Colorado Software Summit.  It's my favourite
  2787. programming conference bar none and one I try to attend whenever I can.
  2788. As always it has been great to meet so many interesting people from around
  2789. the World and to have so many really useful discussions about emerging
  2790. technology.  I have attended several really good presentations and
  2791. tonight I'm running a BOF around the subject of building rich web
  2792. applications which should be a lot of fun. Tomorrow night I am
  2793. running a BOF on social networking applications which I also hope will
  2794. provoke some interesting discussion.
  2796. The conference is held in Keystone, Colorado. It's about a 90 mile drive up
  2797. into the mountains from the Denver airport. After a couple of uneventful
  2798. flights on Sunday morning, the front right tyre on my rental car blew out
  2799. at about 70mph while driving through the mountains. I very nearly lost
  2800. control of  the car and only just avoided going off the side of the road.
  2801. After all I have been through in the past year the last thing I expected
  2802. was to be suddenly faced with another life threatening experience !
  2804. By the way, if you use twitter, I'm posting regular updates during
  2805. the week. You can find me as @gfxman and please feel free to follow me.
  2807. The second day of the conference is now well underway and I'm off to
  2808. join Denise Hatzidakis as she talks about REST so I'll end this post now.
  2810. PS - Sorry I have not posted for a while, life has been very busy. I'll try
  2811. and post more updates soon.
  2812. ]]>
  2813. </description>
  2814. <pubDate>Tue, 21 Oct 2008 11:36:31 CDT</pubDate>
  2815. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2816. </item>
  2821. <item>
  2822. <title>One year post cancer diagnosis</title>
  2823. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  2824. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2825. <link></link>
  2826. <description>
  2827. <![CDATA[
  2828. <p>A year ago (actually on October 2nd 2007) I heard the words that no
  2829. one wants to hear from a doctor "I'm really sorry but I think it's
  2830. cancer". And so began the journey I have been on for the past twelve
  2831. months. As I have documented here, I had major surgery followed by
  2832. about six months of chemo and to say the least it has been a very
  2833. stressful time for me and my family. Last Friday I went for yet more
  2834. blood tests and I am relieved to report that for the first time all of
  2835. my tests (white cell count, platelet count and haemoglobin) are back in
  2836. the normal range. I have more tests scheduled for November (including
  2837. another CT scan) but as far as we can tell, for now, I am finally on
  2838. the mend. I still have horrible neuropathy in my hands and feet (caused
  2839. by the chemo meds) but that is a small price to pay for still being
  2840. here a year on from my initial diagnosis.<br>
  2841. </p>
  2842. <p>Meanwhile a lot of things that I need to blog about have been going
  2843. on. I'll try and get that done soon. In summary, the kids are doing
  2844. well at school and enjoying playing soccer. We adopted a dog, a four
  2845. year old Golden Retriever called Rocket. He's a great dog and it feels
  2846. really good to have been able to give him a nice home. I have been able
  2847. to finally make a couple of business trips. I went out to San Jose, CA
  2848. a few weeks ago to attend the SHARE conference and a couple of weeks
  2849. ago I flew up to Boston to attend some IBM Academy meetings. That was
  2850. also the first time I flew on Jet Blue. I really liked them and will
  2851. definitely use them again. Being able to watch the Ryder Cup golf live
  2852. while on a plane was very cool. American Airlines, with whom I have in
  2853. excess of two million miles on my frequent flier account, need to do
  2854. some serious upgrading if they want to win me back as a customer on
  2855. domestic routes out of Austin. <br>
  2856. </p>
  2857. <p>Finally, in a couple of weeks I am off to the <a
  2858. href="">Colorado Software Summit</a>. I
  2859. am really excited about that. I love the conference. I think it's the
  2860. best programming conference around. I missed the conference last year
  2861. as it was right before I went into the hospital for surgery. I made a
  2862. more detailed posting about the conference on my <a
  2863. href="">work
  2864. blog</a> a few days ago and Simon Phipps just did a nice writeup <a
  2865. href="">on
  2866. his blog</a> as did Dave Landers <a
  2867. href="">on his blog</a>. Please let
  2868. me know if you are reading this and planning to be at the conference.<br>
  2869. </p>
  2870. <p>So that's the update for today. As always a big THANK YOU to
  2871. everyone that has supported me and my family through this whole ordeal
  2872. and for all of your messages in the <a href="">Guest Book</a>.
  2873. I feel very blessed to still be here one year on.<br>
  2874. </p>
  2875. ]]>
  2876. </description>
  2877. <pubDate>Sun, 5 Oct 2008 11:33:52 CDT</pubDate>
  2878. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2879. </item>
  2882. <item>
  2883. <title>Dion Gillard (5th May 1967 - 25th September 2008)</title>
  2884. <category domain="">friends</category>
  2885. <link></link>
  2886. <description>
  2887. <![CDATA[
  2888. <p>My dear friend Dion Gillard died this week after a courageous fight
  2889. with melanoma. Dion was loved and respected by friends and family
  2890. around the World. He had a great sense of humour, was a brilliant
  2891. computer programmer, was a businessman, a husband and a father.
  2892. Basically, he was just a great person to be around and he had a
  2893. positive impact on everyone he met, myself very much included.<br>
  2894. <br>
  2895. Dion and I first met at the <a href="">Colorado Software Summit</a>
  2896. conference years ago (I forget exactly which year) and have kept in
  2897. touch ever since.&nbsp; In fact we were due to meet&nbsp; at the conference this
  2898. year, towards the end of next month.&nbsp; The event won't be the same
  2899. without him, he has so many great friends there besides me.&nbsp; I have
  2900. always admired Dion's technical breadth and know how and willingness to
  2901. share, but it was his terrific sense of humour I think that endeared me
  2902. to him even more. We also spent countless hours debating why Australia
  2903. were better than England at cricket! We had even discussed meeting up
  2904. in the UK next year to watch the Ashes series together to (we had
  2905. hoped) celebrate both of our battles with cancer.<br>
  2906. <br>
  2907. I send my
  2908. deepest condolences to his wife, children, family and friends around
  2909. the World.&nbsp; You have a lot of people reaching out to you at this time
  2910. and sharing your sense of great loss. The World is a less good place
  2911. without Dion, but we are also blessed to have had, and celebrate, the
  2912. time we did have with him.<br>
  2913. <br>
  2914. Rest in peace "dIon" you will be truly missed but never forgotten.<br>
  2915. </p>
  2916. ]]>
  2917. </description>
  2918. <pubDate>Fri, 26 Sep 2008 11:22:35 CDT</pubDate>
  2919. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2920. </item>
  2924. <item>
  2925. <title>Tests, tests and more tests</title>
  2926. <category domain="">medical</category>
  2927. <link></link>
  2928. <description>
  2929. <![CDATA[
  2930. <p>Last Friday I was back at the oncologist's office for yet more
  2931. tests. This seems to be a recurring theme for me at the moment. As much
  2932. as I wish I could put it all behind me I have to accept that these
  2933. tests are for my own good and the doctor is just being thorough.<br>
  2934. </p>
  2935. <p>The good news is that the lab work continues to show no signs of
  2936. cancer. My haemoglobin levels are also back to normal so the
  2937. fatigue/anemia is gone and my energy levels are definitely up!<br>
  2938. <br>
  2939. The bad news is that my white cell count and my platelet count remain
  2940. abnormally low. The oncologist says he is puzzled by this and he has me
  2941. in his "requires more investigation" pile. His best theory is that the
  2942. chemo damaged the bone marrow so badly that my body is just taking
  2943. longer than average to recover from it. The recent CT scan shows that
  2944. my spleen is enlarged. Again this could be because it is trying to help
  2945. offset the weakness of the bone marrow. Lorna asked him if this could
  2946. be evidence of Leukemia. He said he does not think so as the blood work
  2947. does not show that. However, if my white count has not recovered enough
  2948. in four weeks from now he wants to do a bone marrow biopsy on me (I
  2949. hear they are painful so hope I can avoid that). I have another CT scan
  2950. planned for the first week of November. If my spleen gets too far out
  2951. of whack they are also saying that removing it is an option - oh joy!<br>
  2952. <br>
  2953. On top of this my neuropathy (numbness/pain in hands and feet) has
  2954. become (at least by my measurements) severe. I'm periodically in a lot
  2955. of pain and cannot feel anything under my feet and my fingers hurt when
  2956. I type. <br>
  2957. <br>
  2958. So while I am happy that the tests seem to indicate we are heading in
  2959. the right direction I remain nervous about the overall state of
  2960. affairs. I guess that is why they make the little blue pills! I am
  2961. trying very hard to just get on with my life and forget about all of
  2962. this between doctors visits but I have to admit it is hard.<br>
  2963. </p>
  2964. <p>Meanwhile, this weekend Hurricane Ike is coming to visit so that
  2965. should certainly keep me preoccupied!!<br>
  2966. </p>
  2967. <p>Both kids have soccer games this weekend but Ike may have a say in
  2968. that. The UT Football game we were hoping to go to has already been
  2969. cancelled.<br>
  2970. </p>
  2971. <p>That's it for now. I'll post again soon with an Ike update and other
  2972. news, including my first bad experience with the Mac Book Pro - my
  2973. battery died after less than eight months of use! That's it for now,
  2974. I'm off to bed...<br>
  2975. </p>
  2976. ]]>
  2977. </description>
  2978. <pubDate>Fri, 12 Sep 2008 00:07:40 CDT</pubDate>
  2979. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  2980. </item>
  2982. <item>
  2983. <title>Is Summer Really over?</title>
  2984. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  2985. <link></link>
  2986. <description>
  2987. <![CDATA[
  2988. <p>Having grown up in England, where August is the height of Summer, it
  2990. still feels odd to hear people in Texas talking about Summer being over
  2992. by the time we are less than midway through that month. Moreover, the
  2994. temperature in Central Texas as we enter September is still in the high
  2996. nineties Fahrenheit almost every day - feels like Summer to me! That
  2998. said, the kids have now been back at school for almost two weeks and in
  3000. fairness people here tend to view Summer as over once school
  3002. starts.&nbsp; I was hoping we might get a little rain as a result of
  3004. Hurricane Gustav but it has gone inland well to the North East of us.
  3006. We have not had a lot of rain recently and the garden is looking a bit
  3008. parched in places despite my best attempts to keep it watered.<br>
  3010. </p>
  3012. <p>Looking back, I am really pleased that with all of the medical
  3014. things going on we have still managed to do a lot of fun stuff this
  3016. Summer as a family. It feels a bit strange not to have the kids around
  3018. today as I work from home in a very quiet house. I do feel more
  3020. productive though - imagine that !<br>
  3022. </p>
  3024. <p>This is a short work week due to Monday being the Labor Day holiday
  3026. here in the US. We had a fairly lazy "long weekend" and I spent a lot
  3028. of time either swimming in the pool or trying to catch up on
  3029. my <a href="">reading</a>.
  3031. It was really nice to not have a full agenda of things to do for a
  3033. change. On Saturday evening Lorna and I went to the opening game of the
  3035. University of Texas (UT) football season. The stadium has been enlarged
  3037. yet again during the off season and now has a capacity of around
  3039. 100,000. Indeed the official attendance for the game on Saturday was
  3041. 98,053. I hear they are talking of adding even more seating in the
  3043. future! This is a stadium that apparently pays for itself and yet hosts
  3045. an average of just six (yes six) games a year!! As someone who played
  3047. both Cricket and Soccer at University in England where it was a good
  3049. day if five people turned up to watch us play it still blows my mind to
  3051. observe the sheer immensity of collegiate sports, especially football
  3053. (not to be confused with the kind of football/soccer I play), here in
  3055. the US. It must be an amazing experience for those lucky enough to
  3057. compete in such an environment. Apart from perhaps Wembley stadium in
  3059. London, I cannot think of any other venue in England that compares in
  3061. sheer size to the UT stadium - and this is (non professional) college
  3063. sports!! We had a very enjoyable time at the game and we're both
  3065. looking forward to the next home fixture in a couple of weeks.<br>
  3067. </p>
  3069. <p>Another indication that Summer is actually winding down is that our
  3070. local baseball team (the <a href="">Round Rock Express</a>)
  3072. have now played their last home game for the season. While the major
  3074. league parent team (the Houston Astros) still has a fair number of
  3076. games left to play, the triple-A season is now over and the NFL is
  3078. about to get underway. Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic the
  3080. English Premier League has started (seems like that season gets longer
  3082. every year) and the cricket season is winding down. We also have the
  3084. Ryder cup to look forward to of course.<br>
  3086. </p>
  3088. <p>So I guess perhaps, at least in this part of the World, Summer is
  3090. "officially" over - now if someone could please tell that to the
  3092. weather......<br>
  3094. </p>
  3096. ]]>
  3097. </description>
  3098. <pubDate>Wed, 3 Sep 2008 12:15:46 CDT</pubDate>
  3099. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3100. </item>
  3102. <item>
  3103. <title>I'm "port-less" and "polyp-less"</title>
  3104. <category domain="">medical</category>
  3105. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  3106. <link></link>
  3107. <description>
  3108. <![CDATA[
  3109. <p>Sorry for the title. My sense of humour can be a bit weird at times
  3111. but it has also helped me get through the last eleven months. Yesterday
  3113. I had surgery done to remove my <a href="">chemotherapy port</a>.
  3115. It feels weird to finally have the port removed as it has been an ever
  3117. present part of me since it was surgically inserted back in November of
  3119. last year. The surgeon who performed the procedure is the same one who
  3121. did the five hour colonectomy on me last October and he will also be
  3123. responsible for monitoring what's left of my colon (which is not much
  3125. but it's enough!!) for the foreseeable future. As such, he was kind
  3127. enough to also do my first follow up colon check since the major
  3129. surgery while he had me sedated yesterday. I am happy to report that
  3131. for now at least I am polyp free. I don't recall if I mentioned this in
  3133. earlier posts but in my case polyps are a lot more dangerous than they
  3135. are for an average (more lucky) person. On average my doctors tell me a
  3137. polyp will go cancerous if left untreated in about ten years. In my
  3139. case that time is about one year. So they'll be keeping a close eye on
  3141. me for the rest of my life. As I have mentioned before and I'll say it
  3143. again, if you have been sitting there thinking "I really should get a
  3145. colonoscopy done" then please go get it done. It really is not a big
  3147. deal and it could save your life. It's one of the reasons I'm still
  3149. here to type this today - makes you think doesn't it? My next colon
  3151. check will be required in six months, so that is one thing I can check
  3153. off my todo list for a while at least. Now we just have to get the
  3155. blood under control, the neuropathy contained and the swelling reduced
  3157. and life will be good. I'm starting to sound like a bad country song so
  3159. I'll stop rambling on about the medical stuff for today.<br>
  3161. </p>
  3163. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Back to school day</span><br>
  3165. </p>
  3167. <p>Meanwhile, today here in Texas is "back to school day". Apart from
  3169. the agonising sounds coming out of my iOmega external hard drive (I
  3171. think the fan is going - this will be he third one to die on me in
  3173. about three years) the house is silent. The kids left early for school
  3175. today and won't be home until after 3pm so I have a very quiet work
  3177. environment indeed - I almost miss having them around but don't let
  3179. them know I said that ok! It probably seems odd to my friends and
  3181. family over in the UK that school is back so soon but we broke up in
  3183. May whereas I think you all still break up for the Summer in July. So
  3185. we've actually had the kids home for about 3 months. It's time for them
  3187. to go back! &nbsp; Jack is starting First Grade this year, and hard
  3189. though it is to believe, this is Robyn's last year before moving up to
  3191. Middle School as she starts out on Fifth Grade.<br>
  3193. </p>
  3195. <span style="font-weight: bold;">Guest book issues?</span><br>
  3197. <p>A few of you have again written to me saying you have had problems posting to
  3198. the <a href="">Guest Book</a>.
  3200. As far as I know, this only ever happens if you are using Internet
  3202. Explorer 6. I do have a message on the Guest Book launch page that
  3204. warns about this know problem. I have confirmed with one of the people
  3206. that recently had problems that they indeed were using IE6. If you are
  3208. seeing Guest Book problems with other browsers, please do let me know.<br>
  3210. </p>
  3212. ]]>
  3213. </description>
  3214. <pubDate>Tue, 26 Aug 2008 15:21:44 CDT</pubDate>
  3215. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3216. </item>
  3219. <item>
  3220. <title>Tests, tests and more tests...</title>
  3221. <category domain="">medical</category>
  3222. <link></link>
  3223. <description>
  3224. <![CDATA[
  3225. <p>I'll keep this post brief as I have to be up early tomorrow to get
  3226. ready for surgery and it's already quite late. I went in to the
  3227. oncologist's office again on Friday for more blood tests. My white
  3228. count and platelet count remain quite low but not low enough that they
  3229. need to treat it directly. They did however give me a prescription for
  3230. some pills to fight the swelling (and weight gain) that is being caused
  3231. by the meds they have me on to fight the neuropathy caused by the chemo
  3232. meds - you with me? <br>
  3233. </p>
  3234. <p>I have to go back again in two weeks to be tested again to see if
  3235. things are improving. My haemoglobin count is thankfully continuing to
  3236. improve and is now almost back to the typical range for male of my age.
  3237. <br>
  3238. </p>
  3239. <p>Tomorrow morning at 9am I am having surgery to remove my chemo port.
  3240. It will be weird after all of these months not to feel it there. I am
  3241. also having a follow up colon check which I am nervous about but it's
  3242. something I'll have to get used to as this will be a regular part of my
  3243. life over the next few years.<br>
  3244. </p>
  3245. <p>I'll post another update once I am recovered enough from surgery.<br>
  3246. </p>
  3247. ]]>
  3248. </description>
  3249. <pubDate>Sun, 24 Aug 2008 22:21:19 CDT</pubDate>
  3250. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3251. </item>
  3254. <item>
  3255. <title>Chemotherapy aftershocks</title>
  3256. <category domain="">medical</category>
  3257. <link></link>
  3258. <description>
  3259. <![CDATA[
  3260. <p>I'm trying to get caught up after a week away- consequently, two postings in one day - I think this may be a first for me!<br>
  3262. </p>
  3264. <p>Anyway, here's a quick medical update as there is still quite a bit
  3266. going on. It has now been over three months since I ended chemotherapy.
  3268. As I have <a href="">documented here</a> in detail,
  3270. during chemo I suffered through a whole collection of different side
  3272. effects at various times. Many of those went away fairly quickly after
  3274. chemo ended. A few have stuck with me however. By far the worst is the <a href="">neuropathy</a>
  3276. (numbness and pain in my hands and feet). Interestingly, the neuropathy
  3278. only began during the last week or so of chemo but has since then
  3280. become incrementally worse. It is caused by the <a href="">Oxaliplatin</a>
  3282. (one of the three drugs that make up the FOLFOX chemo regimen). I am on
  3284. medication that is supposed to suppress some of the pain that the
  3286. neuropathy causes but for the most part I just have to be patient and
  3288. wait for it to take care of itself. My oncologist has told me that it
  3290. can take over a year for the effects to fully wear off. For the benefit
  3292. of the many other folks that have found my web site and have been kind
  3294. enough to contact me, all of whom are fighting their own battles with
  3296. colon cancer, and all of whom seem to be having the same basic
  3298. experience as me, the doctor has tried a couple of drugs to help
  3300. relieve the neuropathy pain. At first we tried Cymbalta which did help
  3302. a little but had nasty interactions with other medications I am taking
  3304. (primarily the Paxil) so I had to stop taking it. I am now trying
  3306. Lyrica which again seems to help some but seems to itself be causing
  3308. some nasty side effects that I am not enjoying. The biggest issues to
  3310. date are weight gain (just what I needed!), trouble concentrating and
  3312. swelling of my feet, legs and hands (the swelling is also in part, I
  3314. believe, caused by the Oxaliplatin). So, while I am really excited by
  3316. my test results from a week ago, I still find myself with a lot of
  3318. issues to handle on a daily basis. Don't get me wrong however, you
  3320. won't find me complaining as if the chemo and surgery have done their
  3322. job I'll live with the rest for as long as it takes to resolve itself.<br>
  3324. </p>
  3326. <p>Talking of tests, just when I thought I was almost done it turns out
  3328. to not quite be the case. My oncologist's office called last week while
  3330. I was in San Jose. They want me back for more blood tests this Friday
  3332. as after further thought they have decided that my white cell count and
  3334. platelet count really are a bit too low and they want to check me again
  3336. and if necessary take steps to help those numbers improve.&nbsp; I'll
  3338. keep you all posted as to how that goes.</p>
  3340. <p>Also, next Monday I have an appointment to see the surgeon who did
  3342. my colectomy back in October for a check up. I'm not going to go into
  3344. details but I think you get the picture (or at least I hope he will!).
  3346. He is also going to take out my chemo port (a fairly minor surgical
  3348. procedure) at the same time. So I'll be back at the hospital again next
  3350. week for I think the fifth time in the last 10 months. I'm a little
  3352. nervous about the checkup as if he finds any polyps we are going to
  3354. have to take immediate steps to try and prevent them from becoming
  3356. cancerous. Hopefully everything will be OK.<br>
  3358. </p>
  3360. <p>So that's the medical update, I'll make another posting when there is anything worth sharing.<br>
  3362. </p>
  3364. <p>I'd like to end this posting by sending my very best wishes and
  3366. prayers out to all of the people who have contacted me during the past
  3368. several months to thank me for sharing my experiences and for telling
  3370. me that in doing so I had also helped them as they faced their own
  3372. struggle with cancer. It is not always easy to share something so
  3374. personal in such a public fashion but my goal in doing so was in large
  3376. part to reach out to others in a similar situation to me. I am both
  3378. happy and more than a little humbled to have heard from so many of you.
  3380. Good luck all of you, and please keep in touch. I have made many new
  3382. friends in the last six months which has been one of the good side
  3384. effects of this experience.<br>
  3386. </p>
  3389. ]]>
  3390. </description>
  3391. <pubDate>Tue, 19 Aug 2008 15:45:37 CDT</pubDate>
  3392. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3393. </item>
  3397. <item>
  3398. <title>A week in San Jose, California</title>
  3399. <category domain="">travel</category>
  3400. <category domain="">conferences</category>
  3401. <link></link>
  3402. <description>
  3403. <![CDATA[
  3404. <p>Last week I flew out to San Jose to speak at the <a href="">SHARE</a>
  3406. conference. I am the IBM rep to one of the Projects at SHARE which
  3408. means I help find speakers, set the agenda for the project, do a little
  3410. speaking myself and also chair sessions given by other speakers. This
  3412. was the first time I have been on a plane since March of 2007 and I was
  3414. a bit nervous how my body would react to the stresses of air travel but
  3416. thankfully, everything seemed to go fine.&nbsp; Interestingly, nothing
  3418. much seems to have changed in terms of the overall travel experience
  3420. while I have been away and I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly
  3422. and efficiently the check in process went at both Austin and San Jose.
  3424. Of course it helps to be a multi-million miler on American Airlines
  3426. which enabled me to jump the queue for the security checkpoints in San
  3428. Jose, which can get really busy at times. My flights left on time, the
  3430. weather was great and as a result the flights were smooth both ways. My
  3432. checked baggage even arrived quickly after arrival. I guess it was just
  3434. a good week to be travelling! <br>
  3436. </p>
  3438. <p>An odd side effect of the medication I am still on is that I don't
  3440. remember too much of either flight but I took some nice photos of the
  3442. Grand Canyon and some interesting video of the approach into San Jose
  3444. so I guess I had a good time !! This was also the first time I have
  3446. done any public speaking in quite a while. This is something I really
  3448. enjoy and it was great to be "back in the saddle" as it were. It was
  3450. also really nice to see so many good friends and colleagues, many of
  3452. whom I had not seen since before my surgery last October. San Jose as a
  3454. city has also improved immensely as a place to visit since I first went
  3456. there in 1987. I decided not to get a rental car and basically just
  3458. walked everywhere. The conference was at the Convention Center and the
  3460. hotel is very close to there. Plenty of places to eat are just a short
  3462. walk away and there is also the must see "Tech Museum". Among the many
  3464. restaurants is <a href=";sub=loc&amp;location_id=19">Gordon Biersch</a>,
  3466. a place I always try to visit at least once when in San Jose. Garlic
  3468. fries and a glass of locally brewed Heffeweizen out on the back patio -
  3470. sweet!!!&nbsp; If you want to get merry in a hurry then drink the
  3472. Blonde Bock (7% alcohol with an o.g. of 16.5) but just don't do what I
  3474. did the first time I went there and ask for a Guinness!<br>
  3476. </p>
  3478. <p>The conference hotels (Marriott,Hilton and Fairmont) were all sold
  3480. out when I made my reservations so I ended up staying, for the first
  3482. time, at the <a href="">Sainte Clair</a><a href="">e</a> hotel. The rooms were clean and felt modern, the WiFi was free and they have a great Italian restaurant (<a href="">Il Fornaio</a>)
  3484. on the ground floor. What more could you want?......well a bar or at
  3486. least somewhere to hang out in the evening would be nice but in general
  3488. a perfectly OK hotel to stay at.<br>
  3490. </p>
  3492. <p>For those who want to read a little more about SHARE and what we do there, I have posted a few times recently over at my <a href="">work blog</a> on the topic.The
  3494. next SHARE conference is actually going to be in my home town of
  3496. Austin, Texas next March so I won't have far to travel for that event!<br>
  3498. </p>
  3500. <p>On the medical front I am still suffering through some really
  3502. annoying and painful side effects from the chemotherapy and also the
  3504. medications I am on that are supposed to help suppress the first set of
  3506. side effects have their own set of side effects! I'll make another
  3508. posting soon on the overall medical situation as there is still quite a
  3510. lot going on.<br>
  3512. </p>
  3515. ]]>
  3516. </description>
  3517. <pubDate>Tue, 19 Aug 2008 15:00:50 CDT</pubDate>
  3518. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3519. </item>
  3522. <item>
  3523. <title>Test results</title>
  3524. <category domain="">medical</category>
  3525. <link></link>
  3526. <description>
  3527. <![CDATA[
  3528. <p>So, as I mentioned in my last post, this week I underwent a series
  3530. of tests to effectively see how well my treatment (surgery followed by
  3532. FOLFOX chemotherapy) has gone. I had several tests done including a lot
  3534. of blood work and a set of CT scans as well as the usual vital signs
  3536. checks etc. During chemo I had my blood tested every other week so I
  3538. should be used to it by now but for obvious reasons I found myself much
  3540. more nervous than usual this time around. I think in part it's knowing
  3542. that as well as looking at the using things such as white cell count,
  3544. platelet count and haemoglobin number they are also looking for cancer
  3546. markers or CA's (cancer antigens) which would indicate that treatment
  3548. had failed. So at 10am this morning Lorna and I went to meet with the
  3550. oncologist. We sat for a few minutes in one of the patient rooms
  3552. waiting for him to arrive and you can imagine my sense of total relief
  3554. when, upon entering the room, the first words he said even before he
  3556. said hello were "no cancer".&nbsp; My CT scan showed nothing unusual
  3558. except for a slightly enlarged spleen which could well be due to the
  3560. chemo drugs and my blood tests were all negative. The doctor is going
  3562. to do another CT scan in three months time to make sure that the spleen
  3564. issue is not getting any worse, mainly as a precaution at this point.
  3566. So from his perspective, as of this moment in time I am cancer free. In
  3568. about two weeks I am meeting with the surgeon who did the colonectomy
  3570. back in October for my first follow up exam and to get my chemo port
  3572. removed. Hopefully those tests will be negative also. So I'll see the
  3574. oncologist again in November and begin a series of fairly regular
  3576. checkups, at least for the next year or so but I am not going to worry
  3578. about that tonight. <br>
  3580. </p>
  3582. <p>I cannot begin to express my feelings and emotions right now. No one
  3584. knows what is in store from one day to the next but tonight at least I
  3586. am going to go out and do something fun, actually I'm hoping we can go
  3588. to the movies and see Dark Knight which I still have not seen.<br>
  3590. </p>
  3592. <p>As always thank you everyone so much for your continued support,
  3593. e-mails, phone calls, visits and <a href="">messages in the guest book</a> during this ordeal. It means the World to me.<br>
  3595. </p>
  3598. ]]>
  3599. </description>
  3600. <pubDate>Thu, 7 Aug 2008 17:38:22 CDT</pubDate>
  3601. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3602. </item>
  3605. <item>
  3606. <title>A week of medical tests ahead</title>
  3607. <category domain="">medical</category>
  3608. <link></link>
  3609. <description>
  3610. <![CDATA[
  3611. <p>It's hard to believe but it has been three months since my
  3613. chemotherapy ended. A standard part of the treatment process is for me
  3615. to now have a set of follow up tests. Tomorrow (Tuesday) I have blood
  3617. tests scheduled. On Wednesday I have a CT scan and then on Thursday I
  3619. meet with the oncologist to get the results and to discuss where we
  3621. are. Although, apart from the neuropathy in my hands and feet which is
  3623. driving me crazy, I feel pretty good, I am still nervous about these
  3625. tests and I will be glad when this week is behind me. It's hard to
  3627. ignore the fact that they are looking for any continued presence of
  3629. cancer in my system. I'll post more updates as the week progresses.<br>
  3631. </p>
  3633. <p>Meanwhile, I want to extend my best wishes and prayers to my <a href="">good friend Dion</a>
  3635. down in Sydney, Australia who is in the middle of his own battle with
  3637. cancer and starting out on chemotherapy tomorrow. I hope he will get
  3639. the same level of support from his friends and family around the World
  3641. that I have been lucky enough to receive. If you are so inclined,
  3643. please include Dion in your thoughts and prayers.<br>
  3645. </p>
  3647. <p>As for my kids, this continues to be a very busy Summer. Robyn has
  3649. Karate camp this week and both Robyn and Jack spent last week in
  3651. "British soccer camp". A bunch of great lads from the UK come over
  3653. every year and run the camp at a nearby park. It's a lot of fun and the
  3655. kids had a great time. Robyn is also continuing to appear in the local <a href="">community theatre production&nbsp;</a> of&nbsp; "The Witches".<br>
  3657. </p>
  3660. ]]>
  3661. </description>
  3662. <pubDate>Mon, 4 Aug 2008 16:00:09 CDT</pubDate>
  3663. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3664. </item>
  3667. <item>
  3668. <title>Resurrecting my work blog</title>
  3669. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  3670. <link></link>
  3671. <description>
  3672. <![CDATA[
  3673. <p>Just a quick pointer to/reminder about my work blog. I try not to
  3675. discuss much work related stuff here except for maybe some travel and
  3677. conference related items. I keep a separate blog <a href="">over at developerWorks</a>
  3679. that I discuss my work related activities in. However, during the
  3681. height of my chemo treatment I found it hard to maintain both this site
  3683. and the work blog. Consequently the work blog has been quiet for some
  3685. time.&nbsp; Now that chemo is behind me I have started trying to post
  3687. frequently to the work blog again. Several of you have commented to me
  3689. that you had forgotten I even had a work blog! Therefore I am posting
  3691. this entry as a reminder that the work blog exists and that it is
  3693. active again. Please feel free to pop over there are see what I am up
  3695. to work wise and leave a comment or two if you feel so inclined.<br>
  3697. </p>
  3699. ]]>
  3700. </description>
  3701. <pubDate>Wed, 30 Jul 2008 09:33:59 CDT</pubDate>
  3702. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3703. </item>
  3706. <item>
  3707. <title>Bike riding for cancer relief - your help needed</title>
  3708. <category domain="">medical</category>
  3709. <link></link>
  3710. <description>
  3711. <![CDATA[
  3712. <p>In recent years I lost my Mum to cancer as well as a very good
  3714. friend here in Austin. As you all know I have also now been in a
  3716. personal fight with cancer and I just found out that another good
  3718. friend is starting his own fight. On top of that, I have been contacted
  3720. by numerous fellow cancer patients who found me through this web site
  3722. and I have also got to know many of my fellow patients at the local
  3724. cancer center where I am being treated. I am therefore, as you would
  3726. expect, a strong supporter of genuine efforts to help fund cancer
  3728. research. A colleague of mine, Don Harbison,&nbsp; is about to embark
  3730. on such a fund raising effort and asked if I would mention it here. Of
  3732. course I agreed. Rather than try and explain it in my own words I asked
  3734. him to provide me a short description of the event which he has done
  3736. below. If cancer research is important to you, please consider
  3738. supporting Don's efforts. Here is his description of the event.....<br>
  3740. <br>
  3742. </p>
  3744. <div style="margin-left: 80px; font-weight: bold;"><cite style="font-weight: normal;"></cite>
  3746. <table style="text-align: left; width: 781px; height: 957px;" border="0" cellpadding="8" cellspacing="2">
  3748.  <tbody>
  3750.    <tr>
  3752.      <td style="vertical-align: top; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 204);"><cite style="font-weight: normal;"><br>
  3754. By way of introduction, for those
  3756. who don't know me, I work with Kelvin in IBM's Open Standards
  3758. organization. Like you, I was first shocked to hear news of his cancer
  3760. diagnosis late last year, and then extremely pleased to learn how
  3762. successful his treatment program is going now.<br>
  3766. <br>
  3768. Cancer has also directly affected some of my family and friends. For
  3770. the past three years I have worked to raise funds to support cancer
  3772. research at <a href="">Dana-Farber Cancer Institute</a> in Boston. I do this by signing up to ride the <a href="">Pan-Massachusetts Challenge</a>,
  3774. a 2 day, 192 mile ride here in Massachusetts. By signing up I commit to
  3776. raise a minimum of $4,000 but I aim higher. This year I'm targeting
  3778. $8,500.&nbsp; Please check out <a href="">their web page</a>
  3780.'ll see it's an amazing event that attracts participation from
  3782. all across the country and the world. This year we are aiming to bring
  3784. in $34M, so you can see what a huge impact this has on supporting the
  3786. excellent research programs at Dana-Farber that benefit us all.<br>
  3788. <br>
  3790. Many PMC people ride in honor of a friend or family member directly
  3792. affected by cancer. This year I am pleased that Kelvin accepted my
  3794. request to dedicate my ride in his honor.&nbsp; Like you, I've been
  3796. incredibly impressed with his courageous approach to beating his
  3798. cancer. I can't think of a better way of expressing this than to
  3800. continue to work hard at the fund raising, and then go out and break a
  3802. sweat by riding with 5,500 others from Sturbridge to Provincetown here
  3804. in Massachusetts. <br>
  3806. <br>
  3808. This year the ride is on August 2nd and 3rd. Please join me in this effort by sponsoring my ride.<br>
  3810. <br>
  3812. To do this, just visit <a href="">this site</a><br>
  3814. <br>
  3816. Click on 'Sponsor one rider with one donation', then open up 'Select a
  3818. person by eGift&nbsp; ID'. You'll see my name and the field to enter the
  3820. amount you wish to contribute. It's very quick and simple. The PMC
  3822. staff run a lean operation. As they say: "Not one cent of each dollar
  3824. raised through riders' sweat and determination is used for
  3826. administrative and organizational expenses." Using the web is a major
  3828. component of this success. <br>
  3830. <br>
  3832. If you work for IBM or a company that has a matching gift program, this
  3834. is an excellent way to double your gift. Last year, almost $2,000 was
  3836. directly matched by IBM. Here's the link for <a href="">IBM's Matching Grant form</a><br>
  3838. <br>
  3840. Just fill in your employee serial number and the amount of your donation. Then snail mail it to me at:<br>
  3842. <br>
  3844. Don Harbison<br>
  3846. 3 Thoreau Dr.<br>
  3848. Chelmsford, MA 01824<br>
  3850. <br>
  3852. &nbsp;I will take care of mailing it in to the PMC/Dana-Farber team. <br>
  3854. <br>
  3856. I'm looking forward to the ride, and re-connecting with the amazing
  3858. community that comes together once a year. When it's over, I'll post an
  3860. update on how it went. <br>
  3862. <br>
  3864. Thank you for your support!<br>
  3866. <br>
  3868. Don Harbison<br>
  3870. [email protected]</cite></td>
  3872.    </tr>
  3874.  </tbody>
  3876. </table>
  3878. <cite style="font-weight: normal;"></cite><br>
  3880. </div>
  3882. <p><br>
  3884. </p>
  3887. ]]>
  3888. </description>
  3889. <pubDate>Thu, 24 Jul 2008 10:59:09 CDT</pubDate>
  3890. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3891. </item>
  3895. <item>
  3896. <title>Toby</title>
  3897. <category domain="">family</category>
  3898. <link></link>
  3899. <description>
  3900. <![CDATA[
  3901. <p><img style="border: 2px solid ; width: 253px; height: 216px;" alt="Toby, April 2007" title="Toby, April 2007" src="" align="left" hspace="10">Yesterday
  3903. we lost a very dear and very loyal friend when one of our two Golden
  3905. Retrievers, Toby, passed away. He was 12 years old. Lorna and I got
  3907. Toby and his twin sister Brandy (who is still with us but very confused
  3909. as to where Toby has gone) in 1996 just after we were married. Over
  3911. that long a period of time it is hard not to build up a very close bond
  3913. with such a great dog. As any book on the subject will point out,
  3915. Golden Retrievers make great companion animals and Toby was the epitome
  3917. of that.&nbsp; He just adored people and was always beside one of us as
  3919. often as he could be. Many times he would quietly creep into our
  3921. bedroom at night and go to sleep at the end of the bed. More than once
  3923. I almost fell over him during the night! As I mentioned in my prior
  3925. posting, we knew that his remaining time with us would be limited but
  3927. we were expecting it to be measured in months and not days. Sadly, the
  3929. cancer had apparently metastasized further and faster than we realized
  3931. and he was a lot worse off than we had hoped. His passing has affected
  3933. all of us, especially Lorna and I as Toby in a way was like our first
  3935. baby. We raised him from an eight week old puppy at a time when we were
  3937. not exactly sure what we were doing and in a way he trained us as we
  3939. tried to train him!&nbsp; The kids seem to be handling it better than
  3941. we are which is actually a good thing. They were sad for a while but
  3943. have rebounded quickly and are already wanting a new puppy to get the
  3945. dog count back up to three. They even have a name picked out already!
  3947. We still have Brandy and our three year old spaniel, Scamp and I think
  3949. Lorna and I need a little time to get over Toby's departure before we
  3951. give in to the puppy idea but I'm sure it will only be a matter of
  3953. time. I am fortunate that I have had a lot of great friends and
  3955. companions around me in my life and Toby was definitely one of them. No
  3957. matter how bad a day I had at the office or whatever my mood, Toby was
  3959. always there with a smile (see photo) and a tennis ball. We are very
  3961. grateful to have had him with us for as long as we did and we all miss
  3963. him very much.<br>
  3965. ]]>
  3966. </description>
  3967. <pubDate>Wed, 16 Jul 2008 15:55:20 CDT</pubDate>
  3968. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  3969. </item>
  3971. <item>
  3972. <title>A few quick updates</title>
  3973. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  3974. <link></link>
  3975. <description>
  3976. <![CDATA[
  3977. Since we got back from our trip to Dallas things have been fairly
  3979. hectic around here and consequently I am behind in my postings. This
  3981. weekend, adding to our worry list, one of our two Golden Retrievers
  3983. (Toby) collapsed on the floor and we had to rush him to the emergency
  3985. animal clinic. To cut a long story short he had lost a lot of blood due
  3987. to an internal tumor on his spleen and needed emergency surgery to
  3989. remove the spleen. Given his age (he was twelve this week), it was very
  3991. touch and go for several days and we honestly did not expect him to
  3993. make it. Happily, yesterday he perked up a lot and managed to get up
  3995. and walk and started eating food again and we were able to bring him
  3997. home. The other dogs Brandy (his sister) and Scamp were very glad, as
  3999. were we, to have him back. Sadly, the doctors tell us that the cancer
  4001. they found in his spleen is likely to spread to other organs over the
  4003. next few months and that they don't expect him to last more than about
  4005. another six months (nine at the outside). Toby has been a truly
  4007. terrific companion and we all plan to make the most of the time we have
  4009. left with him. It goes without saying that we are more than a bit sick
  4011. of having to deal with cancer related illness in our house.<br>
  4013. <br>
  4015. Also on the worry list at the moment is the house roof which was
  4017. damaged by a hail storm several weeks ago. Some of the pieces of hail
  4019. were larger than a golf ball. We had to have the entire roof replaced
  4021. back in 2005 after another hail storm and my roofing contractor says we
  4023. need to replace it again now. I am currently in a debate with the
  4025. insurance company over how much of the roof they are willing to pay
  4027. for. I'm still hoping that they will pick up the entire bill but we'll
  4029. see. This is one piece of stress that I could well do without but I
  4031. guess is a common problem living where we do. Lorna's car also need
  4033. some repair work as a result of the same hail storm, and yes you
  4035. guessed it, the car is insured by the same insurance company!<br>
  4037. <br>
  4039. On a happier note, the kids are having a great Summer. Thankfully Lorna
  4041. was smart enough to sign them up for a variety of different activities
  4043. including a soccer camp, a soccer tournament, a cooking class, karate
  4045. camp, a ceramics class and several play dates with friends. Despite all
  4047. of this plus having the pool to swim in, a large selection of books to
  4049. read and <a href="">video games</a> to play, we still have heard more than once "I'm bored" - you just can't win!<br>
  4051. <br>
  4053. A few weekends ago we put two teams (made up of girls from our regular
  4055. 8-a-side team that I help coach and a few others) into a 3 v 3 soccer
  4057. tournament. Both teams did very well and in fact one of them won the
  4059. event and has qualified for the national finals. Suffice to say Robyn
  4061. (who was part of that winning team) is very excited about this.<br>
  4063. <br>
  4065. We have also managed to see a few movies in the last few weeks. Lorna and I went to see <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Indiana Jones</span> and <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">The Incredible Hulk</span>, both of which we enjoyed. Lorna and the kids went to see <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Narnia - Prince Caspian</span> and they enjoyed that. On Sunday we all went to see <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">WALL.e</span> and yesterday we took my son to see <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Kung Fu Panda</span>. I liked both of the animated pictures but of the two I think I preferred <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">WALL.e</span>. I am still trying to keep up with my <a href="">reading</a>
  4067. and since chemo ended I have definitely noticed an improvement in both
  4069. my eyesight and my ability to concentrate which has helped a lot.<br>
  4071. <br>
  4073. As I have documented here in prior posts, I have more or less continued
  4075. working full time throughout my treatment
  4077. regimen as much as I can and with chemo now behind me I have been able
  4079. to really get re-focussed on work. Several people have asked me why I
  4081. did not just take a leave of absence for a while but to be honest work
  4083. has been a very good
  4085. distraction for me and it helps that I really like the people I work
  4087. with and am fortunate that the company I work for, IBM, has been so
  4089. understanding and caring during this time. However, with many people
  4091. out on Summer vacation I
  4093. am at times a little too busy right now!<br>
  4097. <br>
  4099. There is not a lot of other news to report on the medical front (which is basically a good thing). The <a href="">neuropathy</a>
  4101. (numbness in my hands and feet) continues to really bug me. I visited
  4103. the oncologist's office and chatted with them about it and they have
  4105. changed my medications a little but so far I am not sensing any real
  4107. improvement (no pun intended!). They did tell me it can take more than
  4109. a month on this medication for things to start to improve so I guess I
  4111. just have to be patient. My next round of tests (CT scan, blood work
  4113. etc.) is now only about four weeks away. I am trying not to get too
  4115. wound up about that but I will be glad when it is over. If the tests go
  4117. well then right after that I can schedule the surgery to have my chemo
  4119. port removed.<br>
  4121. <br>
  4123. On the technology front, I have started upgrading all of our computers
  4125. here at the house (both the Mac and the PCs) to use the new Firefox 3.0
  4127. browser. So far I have been very impressed with it and I congratulate
  4129. all of the folks at Mozilla that have worked so hard to achieve this
  4131. significant release. <br>
  4133. <br>
  4135. I continue to be very grateful for the messages of support for myself and my family that continue to arrive via e-mail, the <a href="">guest book</a>, Facebook and many other channels. Thanks as always it really helps keep my spirits up.<br>
  4137. <br>
  4139. That's about all the news for now. It continues to be a very hot Summer
  4141. here and I have already caught myself looking at the calendar to see
  4143. when school starts again for the kids!<br>
  4146. ]]>
  4147. </description>
  4148. <pubDate>Thu, 10 Jul 2008 11:16:00 CDT</pubDate>
  4149. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4150. </item>
  4153. <item>
  4154. <title>Great Wolf Lodge</title>
  4155. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  4156. <link></link>
  4157. <description>
  4158. <![CDATA[
  4159. <p>I took last week off from work and we drove up to Dallas (actually
  4161. to Grapevine which is effectively a Dallas suburb). We stayed at the
  4163. recently opened <a href="">Great Wolf Lodge</a>.
  4165. Situated, adjacent to the DFW airport, the Lodge is actually a combined
  4167. hotel and water park, with both indoor and outdoor water parks. They
  4169. claim that the indoor water park is in fact the largest of its kind in
  4171. the World. The hotel also has all kinds of other things for kids and
  4173. grown ups alike to do, such as the Magi Quest which has you running all
  4175. over the hotel looking for clues to gain runes and solve magical
  4177. puzzles. I think the kids enjoyed the quest as much as they enjoyed the
  4179. water parks. In fact we all had a great time and are thinking of going
  4181. back again at Christmas time. If you follow the link above you can read
  4183. a whole lot more about what the Great Wolf Lodge has to offer. I would
  4185. thoroughly recommend it as a great place to let off steam for a few
  4187. days.<br>
  4189. </p>
  4191. <p>The weather here in Central Texas continues to be very hot. Every
  4193. day for the past several weeks we have been close to (or above) 100
  4195. degrees Fahrenheit. This week I am back at work while Lorna and the
  4197. kids are having fun at vacation bible school at one of the local
  4199. churches. I have also been trying to keep up with the Euro 2008 matches
  4201. and with Wimbledon (both of which are being shown live on TV here).
  4203. This coming weekend Robyn has a 3 v 3 soccer tournament which should be
  4205. a lot of fun although it is likely to be very hot during most of the
  4207. games.<br>
  4209. </p>
  4211. <p>On the medical front, the numbness in my feet and hands continues to
  4213. be quite painful, in fact, typing has become very uncomfortable for me
  4215. so I will keep this posting brief. I am visiting the oncologist's
  4217. office on Wednesday to get my chemo port flushed and I am hoping they
  4219. can do something more for the numbness. The meds they gave me have so
  4221. far not improved things at all. <br>
  4223. </p>
  4225. <p>Anyway, that's the news for now, I'll try to post again soon.<br>
  4227. </p>
  4229. ]]>
  4230. </description>
  4231. <pubDate>Tue, 24 Jun 2008 13:46:22 CDT</pubDate>
  4232. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4233. </item>
  4238. <item>
  4239. <title>Orlando</title>
  4240. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  4241. <link></link>
  4242. <description>
  4243. <![CDATA[
  4244. Last week I had business meetings in Orlando. My wife and I decided
  4245. we would drive there with the kids so that they could have some fun
  4246. while I was working. Even with the price of fuel at its current
  4247. level,&nbsp; driving is still cheaper than flying the four of us and to
  4248. be honest I am still a bit nervous of taking a plane ride given some of
  4249. the lingering chemo side effects (my legs seem to swell up really
  4250. easily at present). In any case, I really enjoy driving and the drive
  4251. to Orlando from our house, a trip of about 1150 miles each way, is
  4252. quite a pleasant one and almost all on freeways. We have done the trip
  4253. many times before so we know where a lot of good places to stop for
  4254. breaks are and we usually break the trip into two days, spending the
  4255. night in Gulfport which is almost exactly half way between Austin and
  4256. Orlando. As a side note, I really feel for the people of Gulfport. Even
  4257. two years after hurricane Katrina, there is still a tremendous amount
  4258. of evidence left of the devastating effects of the storm. <br>
  4259. </p>
  4260. <p>Anyway, it was nice for me to get away for a few days, even if it
  4261. was primarily a week of business meetings for me. I had not been out of
  4262. the state of Texas since before my surgery last October so a week away
  4263. was really quite a treat. I did not manage to make it to the them parks
  4264. with the family but we did get to spend a fun evening together at <a
  4265. href=";bhcp=1">Disney
  4266. Quest</a> (a five story building full of all types of video games both
  4267. old and new and some really cool virtual reality rides). On the night
  4268. before we started driving home we all had dinner at the Arabian Knights
  4269. (you eat while watching the horses and actors perform). By all accounts
  4270. a fun time was had by all and I feel refreshed just from being out of
  4271. the house for a while.<br>
  4272. </p>
  4273. <p>This week I had a series of business meetings at the office and it
  4274. was really nice to meet so many colleagues, many of whom I had not seen
  4275. for many months due to my ongoing medical issues.<br>
  4276. </p>
  4277. <p>Talking of medical issues, it has now been five weeks since chemo
  4278. ended. Some of the side effects have definitely improved, others
  4279. however are lingering on. In particular, the numbness in my fingers
  4280. that had just started by the end of chemo has now also spread to my
  4281. feet and has generally become quite a but worse. It has reached the
  4282. point in fact, where driving the car feels strange as I can only barely
  4283. feel the pedals. I called the doctor and he has put me on some meds
  4284. that are hopefully going to help with this (yet more pills to remember
  4285. to take!). Apparently this numbness can take many months to fully go
  4286. away and is caused by the Oxaliplatin (one of the chemo drugs) which
  4287. messes quite badly with the nervous system.<br>
  4288. </p>
  4289. <p>The kids are already well into the various camps and other
  4290. activities that we planned for them this Summer and seem to be having a
  4291. lot of fun. The weather has been extremely hot here in Texas. We have
  4292. already had multiple 100 degree days in the Austin area. Heaven only
  4293. knows what August will be like at this rate. Thankfully we have so far
  4294. escaped most of the severe storms that have all passed to our North.
  4295. Anyway, that's all the updates for today. I'm taking next week off so I
  4296. can spend some quality time with the family and forget about work for a
  4297. few days. After that I hope to get back into a routine of more regular
  4298. updates here as the Summer progresses.<br>
  4299. ]]>
  4300. </description>
  4301. <pubDate>Fri, 13 Jun 2008 16:47:06 CDT</pubDate>
  4302. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4303. </item>
  4305. <item>
  4306. <title>Quick updates</title>
  4307. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  4308. <link></link>
  4309. <description>
  4310. <![CDATA[
  4311. <p>I haven't posted for a few days in part because there has not been a
  4312. lot of news to share on the medical front (which is fine by me). It has
  4313. now been 22 days since my last chemo session ended (on May 7th). The
  4314. "fog" seems to have left me now finally for which I am very grateful.
  4315. It has been replaced however by a feeling of total exhaustion - I think
  4316. I have finally let myself relax a bit and it's past time to catch up on
  4317. a lot of missed sleep. Most of the other chemo side effects are still
  4318. with me which is no great surprise as my doctor told me to expect it to
  4319. take between four to six weeks for them to subside. The thing that is
  4320. bugging me the most right now is a constant feeling of numbness in all
  4321. of my fingers and toes - it actually makes typing and even walking bit
  4322. uncomfortable. This is a known side effect of the Oxaliplatin
  4323. medication, so I hope it goes away soon. I visited the Oncologist's
  4324. office yesterday to get my chemo port flushed. I have decided not to
  4325. have it removed until August so that I can have all of my interim blood
  4326. tests done via the port (rather than having to endure a lot of needles
  4327. being stuck into my arm). The port has to be flushed every four weeks
  4328. to prevent any risk of blood clots. The next major medical milestones
  4329. are scheduled for August when I'll need another CT scan, a lot of other
  4330. tests and an exam by my surgeon. When all of that is done I'll need
  4331. minor surgery to remove the port.<br>
  4332. </p>
  4333. <p>So let's see, what else is going on? Well, we had a very nice and
  4334. relaxing Memorial Day weekend. The weather was (and continues to be)
  4335. very hot and we spent a lot of time out by the pool. The kids had lots
  4336. of friends over and had fun in the water. I spent a lot of time in
  4337. "slug mode" sitting by the pool and reading.<br>
  4338. </p>
  4339. <p>Today is Robyn's actual birthday (although we held her party several
  4340. days ago). I cannot believe that she is ten years old already - how
  4341. time flies. She doesn't know it yet but we're planning a surprise
  4342. dinner with one of her best friends at her favourite restaurant
  4343. tonight. School ends on Friday so this will be the last week I have a
  4344. quiet work from home environment! Thankfully the kids have a lot of
  4345. Summer camps and other activities planned already to help keep them
  4346. busy during the long SUmmer break. I'm a little concerned about just
  4347. how hot this Summer will be as temperatures in Central Texas have
  4348. already been in the high nineties Fahrenheit for the last couple of
  4349. weeks. Well above average for the time of year. We've also seen some
  4350. nasty storms come through already. Our roof (which was replaced in 2005
  4351. after a hail storm) has again been badly damaged by hail and Lorna's
  4352. car also needs work done on it to get the hail dents removed. In the
  4353. USA in general this looks like being one of the worst years in a long
  4354. time (maybe ever) for damage, and sadly deaths, caused by Tornadoes. I
  4355. don't know if this is due to climate change or not but suffice to say
  4356. the weather here this year has been pretty unusual in many ways.<br>
  4357. </p>
  4358. <p>That's about all the news for now. I'll try and post again in a few days time.<br>
  4359. </p>
  4360. ]]>
  4361. </description>
  4362. <pubDate>Thu, 29 May 2008 12:05:49 CDT</pubDate>
  4363. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4364. </item>
  4368. <item>
  4369. <title>Cleaning up after a stormy night</title>
  4370. <category domain="">weather</category>
  4371. <link></link>
  4372. <description>
  4373. <![CDATA[
  4374. <p>Last night, multiple storm lines containing several super cell
  4375. clouds (the type that frequently generate tornadoes) went through this
  4376. area. This led to a very rough night and some very frightened kids.
  4377. Multiple funnel clouds were reported in the area, the closest one
  4378. passed less than three miles from here. As a result, we experienced
  4379. strong winds, heavy rain and a lot of hail. A few of the pieces of hail
  4380. were about the size of a billiard balls. The hail was so bad it even
  4381. killed a duck which sadly we found dead on our back porch during one of
  4382. the breaks in the storms. This morning we began the cleanup. There were
  4383. leaves and twigs everywhere and several pieces of our shingle roof had
  4384. broken free and were laying on the ground. We had our roof replaced in
  4385. 2005 after another major hail storm. Today I called the roofing company
  4386. again and they are coming out to assess whether or not we need to again
  4387. replace the roof. All day around our neighbourhood you could here chain
  4388. saws and other power tools being used as people cleaned up the mess.
  4389. Several trees nearby have lost limbs or have become uprooted.
  4390. Thankfully our trees are mostly large and well established and all seem
  4391. to have survived the onslaught. I got a few good photos of the piles of
  4392. hail on the back porch, I'll try and post one or two later.<br>
  4393. </p>
  4394. <p>Luckily, we managed to host my son's soccer team pool party during
  4395. the afternoon and early evening yesterday before the storms arrived.
  4396. There is no way we could have hosted it today. When we awoke the pool
  4397. was full to overflowing (the emergency drain seems to have become
  4398. blocked by all the tree debris). The pool was also full, and I do mean
  4399. full, of leaves and twigs. We have been cleaning it out off and on all
  4400. day and we are still not done.&nbsp; Later today I need to figure out
  4401. what is blocking the drain and fix it and do more raking up of all the
  4402. leaves and twigs that are spread all over the front and back yards. It
  4403. really is quite a mess. I wish I had more energy but at least this will
  4404. keep my mind of my other worries for a while!<br>
  4405. </p>
  4406. <p>The past week or so we have had several big storms (although this
  4407. was by far the worst) and it seems we have had a lot more tornadic
  4408. activity (even this far South of "Tornado Alley") than usual.&nbsp;
  4409. When I moved to Central Texas, while the realtors were busy telling me
  4410. how great a place
  4411. it was to live in I think they somehow forgot to mention how much "fun"
  4412. Spring can be!
  4413. </p>
  4414. ]]>
  4415. </description>
  4416. <pubDate>Thu, 15 May 2008 15:58:55 CDT</pubDate>
  4417. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4418. </item>
  4421. <item>
  4422. <title>End of round twelve, end of chemotherapy</title>
  4423. <category domain="">medical</category>
  4424. <link></link>
  4425. <description>
  4426.  <![CDATA[
  4427. <p>It's hard to believe but I have made it through my scheduled twelve
  4428. rounds of chemotherapy. The treatments officially ended on Wednesday
  4429. but I have been too wiped out to post until now. The fatigue still has
  4430. me firmly in its grasp but I am hopeful that it will wear off in a few
  4431. more days from now (although lately it has been taking almost a full
  4432. ten days to clear out). The staff at the oncologist, who have been
  4433. great all through this process, showered my with confetti and gave me a
  4434. certificate of achievement to send me on my way. I was very close to
  4435. tears, they have all been so terrific in the way they have treated me.
  4436. I will not be meeting the oncologist again now for three months at
  4437. which time he will test my blood and do a CT scan to make sure nothing
  4438. bad is trying to creep back into my system - that will naturally&nbsp;
  4439. be a nervous visit. I also have a call into my surgeon to see when he
  4440. wants to take out my chemo infusion port (minor surgery) and do my
  4441. physical exam. So while chemo is behind me for now, I still have some
  4442. more near term worries to get past but we have for sure reached a major
  4443. milestone now with chemo ending. When the "fog" wears off I am sure I
  4444. will feel happy about where I am. I am not up to writing a long posting
  4445. right now but I do want to close by again thanking all of you that have
  4446. stuck with me throughout this whole ordeal. I could not be where I am now
  4447. without the fantastic support of my family and friends around the
  4448. World. As always a big THANK YOU to you all.<br>
  4449. </p>
  4450. ]]>
  4451. </description>
  4452. <pubDate>Fri, 9 May 2008 14:58:35 CDT</pubDate>
  4453. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4454. </item>
  4457. <item>
  4458. <title>Seconds Out, Round Twelve, ding,ding...</title>
  4459. <category domain="">medical</category>
  4460. <link></link>
  4461. <description>
  4462. <![CDATA[
  4463. <p>So here we are. It's Monday morning and I am sitting in my chair at
  4464. the oncologist's office beginning my twelfth and final chemo treatment!
  4465. My first treatment was back on December 26th of last year and since
  4466. then the time seems to have (for the most part) flown by. I must admit
  4467. that I am now more than ready to be done. By all accounts my body has
  4468. handled the treatment very well but the fatigue in particular has
  4469. reached the point where it never fully goes away so I'll be glad in
  4470. about four to six weeks from now when the side effects are supposed to
  4471. fully subside and my system will hopefully become "normal" again.<br>
  4472. </p>
  4473. <p>After this week we go into a monitoring mode at approximately three
  4474. monthly intervals where I will be tested for any signs of the cancer
  4475. coming back, both by my oncologist and my surgeon who will be
  4476. monitoring things too. So those visits will be nervous times for me I
  4477. am sure but I am not going to worry about them right now as this is a
  4478. major milestone and I plan to celebrate a little once we get through
  4479. this week.<br>
  4480. </p>
  4481. <p>In about two weeks I'll need to schedule surgery to have the chemo
  4482. infusion port removed from my chest , yet more hours of blood tests and
  4483. filling out CYA forms at the hospital, for what is hopefully a 20
  4484. minute procedure. At the same time as the port is removed, while I am
  4485. sedated the surgeon plans to do an initial internal exam to see if
  4486. there are any signs of the polyps that can turn cancerous coming back.
  4487. If there are that will have to be dealt with as my genetics are such
  4488. that the average time it takes for a polyp to go cancerous is one year
  4489. or maybe less. I believe the average for a person that does not have my
  4490. genetic makeup, is 10 years (quite a difference).<br>
  4491. </p>
  4492. <p>When I started writing about each of the chemo visits, I made the
  4493. analogy to a 12-round boxing match. I wondered at the start if my
  4494. opponent (the chemo meds) would be too much for me. For sure he landed
  4495. a few good blows but my blood levels and other numbers continue to
  4496. improve and we have not had to delay any of the rounds so I think when
  4497. all is said and done I am hoping for a "points decision" in my favour !!<br>
  4498. </p>
  4499. <p>I'll post again soon but for now I need to sign off as I just got a
  4500. shot of Ativan (Lorazepam) and I am getting drousy!<br>
  4501. </p>
  4502. ]]>
  4503. </description>
  4504. <pubDate>Mon, 5 May 2008 11:32:42 CDT</pubDate>
  4505. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4506. </item>
  4509. <item>
  4510. <title>Rocking with Rush</title>
  4511. <category domain="">music</category>
  4512. <link></link>
  4513. <description>
  4514. <![CDATA[
  4515. <p>A couple of nights ago (Wednesdsy), along with our good friend,
  4516. Brian, my daughetr (Robyn) and I went to the Frank Irwin Center here in
  4517. Austin to&nbsp; see Canadian rock legends Rush in concert. This was the
  4518. first time they had come to Austin in 14 years! My wife is not a big
  4519. Rush fan so I had taken Robyn to San Antonio to see them last Summer
  4520. and she had enjoyed it so much that when the Austin date was announced
  4521. we did not hesitate to go looking for tickets. I think we enjoyed this
  4522. show even better than the prior one. The set list had been changed and
  4523. I think it was a better blend of their newer and "classic" music. The
  4524. nice thing about the 2008 tour is that the band are only playing venues
  4525. that they have not played in at least ten years. I am really thankful
  4526. that the side effects from my ongoing chemo treatments held off long
  4527. enough for me to enjoy the show. The band played for close to three
  4528. hours with a short intermission midway through. I'm also glad the show
  4529. was Wednedsay and not Thursday or Friday as the chemo has definitelky
  4530. hit me quite hard the last couple of days. Anyway, as promised in my
  4531. prior post, here's what I think was the set list from the show:<br>
  4532. </p>
  4533. <table style="text-align: left; width: 80%;" border="1" cellpadding="2"
  4534. cellspacing="2">
  4535.  <tbody>
  4536.    <tr>
  4537.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Part
  4538. 1</span><br>
  4539.      </td>
  4540.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Part
  4541. 2</span><br>
  4542.      </td>
  4543.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Encore</span><br>
  4544.      </td>
  4545.    </tr>
  4546.    <tr>
  4547.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4548.      </td>
  4549.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4550.      </td>
  4551.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4552.      </td>
  4553.    </tr>
  4554.    <tr>
  4555.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Limelight </td>
  4556.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Far Cry</td>
  4557.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">One Little Victory</td>
  4558.    </tr>
  4559.    <tr>
  4560.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Digital Man</td>
  4561.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Workin' Them Angels</td>
  4562.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">A Passage to Bangkok</td>
  4563.    </tr>
  4564.    <tr>
  4565.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Ghost of a Chance</td>
  4566.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Armor And Sword</td>
  4567.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">YYZ</td>
  4568.    </tr>
  4569.    <tr>
  4570.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Mission</td>
  4571.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Spindrift</td>
  4572.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4573.      </td>
  4574.    </tr>
  4575.    <tr>
  4576.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Freewill</td>
  4577.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">The Way The Wind Blows</td>
  4578.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4579.      </td>
  4580.    </tr>
  4581.    <tr>
  4582.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">The Main Monkey Business</td>
  4583.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Subdivisions</td>
  4584.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4585.      </td>
  4586.    </tr>
  4587.    <tr>
  4588.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">The Larger Bowl </td>
  4589.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Natural Science</td>
  4590.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4591.      </td>
  4592.    </tr>
  4593.    <tr>
  4594.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Red Barchetta</td>
  4595.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Witch Hunt</td>
  4596.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4597.      </td>
  4598.    </tr>
  4599.    <tr>
  4600.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">The Trees</td>
  4601.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Malignant Narcissism</td>
  4602.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4603.      </td>
  4604.    </tr>
  4605.    <tr>
  4606.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Between The Wheels</td>
  4607.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Drum Solo</td>
  4608.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4609.      </td>
  4610.    </tr>
  4611.    <tr>
  4612.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Dreamline</td>
  4613.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Hope</td>
  4614.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4615.      </td>
  4616.    </tr>
  4617.    <tr>
  4618.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4619.      </td>
  4620.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">The Spirit of Radio</td>
  4621.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4622.      </td>
  4623.    </tr>
  4624.    <tr>
  4625.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4626.      </td>
  4627.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">2112: Overture / The Temples of
  4628. Syrinx</td>
  4629.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4630.      </td>
  4631.    </tr>
  4632.    <tr>
  4633.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4634.      </td>
  4635.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Tom Sawyer</td>
  4636.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><br>
  4637.      </td>
  4638.    </tr>
  4639.  </tbody>
  4640. </table>
  4641. <p><br>
  4642. </p>
  4643. ]]>
  4644. </description>
  4645. <pubDate>Fri, 25 Apr 2008 16:49:55 CDT</pubDate>
  4646. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4647. </item>
  4649. <item>
  4650. <title>End of round eleven</title>
  4651. <category domain="">medical</category>
  4652. <link></link>
  4653. <description>
  4654. <![CDATA[
  4655. <p>So I'm home from the oncologist and chemo round eleven is now
  4656. officially over (side effects over the next few days notwithstanding).
  4657. That means I have only one more round left to go commencing on May 5th.
  4658. So as far as the chemo phase of my treatment goes we are almost there.<br>
  4659. </p>
  4660. <p>As I mentioned yesterday my focus for the evening now is fighting
  4661. off the fatigue long enough to enjoy the Rush concert that starts at
  4662. 7:30pm at the Frank Erwin Center here in Austin. I'll try and write up
  4663. a bit of a post conference report tomorrow. I am interested to see how
  4664. much they have changed the set list since we saw them last year
  4665. (apparently there are going to be some changes).<br>
  4666. </p>
  4667. ]]>
  4668. </description>
  4669. <pubDate>Wed, 23 Apr 2008 15:27:42 CDT</pubDate>
  4670. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4671. </item>
  4673. <item>
  4674. <title>Chemo round eleven and anticipation building before the Rush concert</title>
  4675. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  4676. <link></link>
  4677. <description>
  4678. <![CDATA[
  4679. <p>As I type this I am in the nice comfy chair at the oncologist's
  4680. office getting my second day of infusions as we are about mid-way
  4681. through round eleven (the penultimate round - yay!!). So far the
  4682. fatigue has not hit but I expect, based on the last couple of weeks, to
  4683. start sometime Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. The later
  4684. the better - read on to find out why.....<br>
  4685. </p>
  4686. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Rush come back to Austin for the
  4687. first time in 14 years</span><br>
  4688. </p>
  4689. <p>Hopefully I will be in pretty good shape still on Wednesday evening
  4690. as Canadian rock legends Rush are performing in Austin for the first
  4691. time in years. In fact I was not even living here (and I have been here
  4692. since December 1995) the last time they were here. One of the local
  4693. papers did an interview with lead singer Geddy Lee about coming back to
  4694. Austin, you can <a
  4695. href="">read
  4696. it here</a>. Last year they came to San Antonio and I took my nine year
  4697. old daughter Robyn. It was her first concert and I was not sure how
  4698. much she would enjoy Rush but she loved everything about the show and
  4699. has since learned the words to most of the songs on the tour album
  4700. (Snakes and Arrows). I have been a Rush fan since my university days
  4701. when my good friend Mike introduced me to them. Since then I have seen
  4702. them in concert multiple times both in the USA and the UK and I
  4703. honestly think they are playing better now than they ever have - and
  4704. they were always good. The Austin date was added as part of some
  4705. extended venues that were not part of the original tour. I am hoping
  4706. that they jiggle the set list a bit but even if they don't I am really
  4707. looking forward to the Show. In San Antonio they played for about three
  4708. hours with a short 15 minute break in the middle. Certainly great value
  4709. for money.<br>
  4710. </p>
  4711. <p style="font-weight: bold;">Express baseball<br>
  4712. </p>
  4713. <p>The professional baseball season is now well under way here in the
  4714. US. We renewed our season tickets this year to the <a
  4715. href="">Round Rock Express</a> (the AAA
  4716. affiliate of the Major League <a
  4717. href="">Houston Astros</a>).
  4718. Their stadium is less than 10 minutes by car from our house and it's a
  4719. great night out for the whole family. We went to the game last night as
  4720. I am keen to do as many things as I
  4721. can before the fatigue hits for this round. Last night the Budweiser
  4722. Clydesdale horse team were their outside the stadium and we all enjoyed
  4723. meeting the horses
  4724. and their trainers. They told use they are on the road touring 300
  4725. days every year! The game itself was also very exciting last night,
  4726. aided by the fact that the home team came out on top. So we had a fun
  4727. night of baseball and ball park food plus a visit to the in-stadium
  4728. kids play area. <br>
  4729. </p>
  4730. <p>That's my updates for now, I need to get back to working on my
  4731. e-mail in box and some other work tasks. The oncologist has a better
  4732. wireless network than I have at the house so it's actually a great
  4733. place to get work done!<br>
  4734. </p>
  4735. ]]>
  4736. </description>
  4737. <pubDate>Tue, 22 Apr 2008 11:36:08 CDT</pubDate>
  4738. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4739. </item>
  4741. <item>
  4742. <title>A productive Saturday in Central Texas</title>
  4743. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  4744. <link></link>
  4745. <description>
  4746. <![CDATA[
  4747. The weather here today has been just gorgeous after some nasty
  4748. storms passed through on Thursday night and left us with a beautiful
  4749. but cooler day on Friday. Today we have been in the mid 80's Fahrenheit
  4750. under clear blue skies. Jack and I have the house to ourselves as Robyn
  4751. and Lorna are off having fun at a Girl Scouts camp for the weekend. The
  4752. campsite is at Inks Lake which is about about two hours West of here.
  4753. They have a ton of things for the girls to do (most of it outdoors) so
  4754. the great weather is a real plus.
  4756. <p>Meanwhile, It's been good for both Jack and me to have some quality
  4757. "guy time" together. Last night we spent some serious time working
  4758. together against hordes of evil aliens trying to save planet Earth from
  4759. imminent doom - or put another way we played co-op mode in Halo 3 for
  4760. about four hours before (a very extended) bedtime! Today Jack has been
  4761. helping me with some house chores and he has also been trying to teach
  4762. me how to play Super Smash Bothers Brawl on the Wii. Somehow I don't
  4763. think I'll ever give him any decent competition at this game but he
  4764. seems happy enough beating me into the dirt so what the heck!<br>
  4765. </p>
  4766. <p>I woke up this morning finally feeling less foggy from the last
  4767. chemo round. This is the longest amount of time it has taken so far for
  4768. my fatigue to subside between rounds. Of course round eleven starts on
  4769. Monday so I had better enjoy it while it lasts. The doctor had warned
  4770. me that the amount of fatigue tends to be cumulative and that certainly
  4771. seems to be true in my case. Given I felt a bit more with it, after
  4772. watching some of the English soccer on TV this morning and doing a bit
  4773. of housework indoors, I decided it was time to take on the huge mess
  4774. that used to be my nice tidy garage!&nbsp; The garage had somehow
  4775. become our dumping ground for a lot of stuff over the past few months
  4776. and the mess had really started to bug me (even over the effects of the
  4777. "chill out" pills they have me on so you know the mess was
  4778. bad!!).&nbsp; Thankfully I managed to get it mostly cleaned up but I
  4779. could not believe how quickly I ran out of steam. I had to take lots of
  4780. breaks.&nbsp; Hopefully when chemo finally ends my energy levels will
  4781. return to something like they were back last Autumn (pre-diagnosis and
  4782. pre-surgery).&nbsp; As people who know me will tell you I am not good
  4783. at sitting still. I need to be busy and it's starting to frustrate me
  4784. how weak I still am. I guess I have to keep reminding myself I have
  4785. been through a lot and my body has taken a pounding the last five
  4786. months or so. I also need to remind myself to just be grateful for what
  4787. I have as things could easily have been a lot worse than hopefully they
  4788. are.&nbsp; On the plus side, the fact that I am getting frustrated is
  4789. probably a sign that at least in some small way I'm getting more back
  4790. to my old self! <br>
  4791. </p>
  4792. <p>As an aside, I am typing this entry using the Apple Mac Book Pro
  4793. laptop which I now use for almost everything I do computer wise. I
  4794. continue to be really impressed by this machine. I originally bought it
  4795. as an early Christmas present to myself so that I would have something
  4796. fun to play with and learn to use during the long hours in the "chemo
  4797. chair". As you may recall from some of my prior postings, I have never
  4798. before owned an Apple machine of ay type but this laptop has quickly
  4799. progressed to being my principal machine. I just love how reliable it
  4800. is and I really like the "feel" of the machine and it's applications
  4801. and I am unquestionably more productive on this machine than I am on
  4802. any of my others.<br>
  4803. <br>
  4804. So anyway, that's my update for today. As I mentioned above, chemo
  4805. round eleven starts on Monday (just two to go now) so I'll try and post
  4806. some more updates in the early part of next week. Now I need to go
  4807. power up the XBOX 360 as Jack wants to see if we can kill a few more
  4808. aliens before bedtime tonight!!
  4809. ]]>
  4810. </description>
  4811. <pubDate>Sat, 19 Apr 2008 19:56:08 CDT</pubDate>
  4812. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4813. </item>
  4815. <item>
  4816. <title>End of round ten</title>
  4817. <category domain="">medical</category>
  4818. <link></link>
  4819. <description>
  4820. <![CDATA[
  4821. Round ten finished on Wednesday and as with the last couple of weeks
  4822. the fatigue has hit me almost instantly. The last day or so it has been
  4823. a real struggle to get much done. On a happier note, with ten down I
  4824. only have two more chemo sessions to go before we go into more of a
  4825. maintenance mode and my body has a chance to recover from all of the
  4826. chemicals it has been subject to the last few months. I'm certainly
  4827. looking forward to the second week of May now (when chemo will
  4828. hopefully be behind me). Given how tired I feel right now I will keep
  4829. this post very brief. As always I appreciate all of the messages I
  4830. continue to get from people keeping tabs on me - it really means a lot
  4831. and my thanks to you all as always.
  4832. ]]>
  4833. </description>
  4834. <pubDate>Fri, 11 Apr 2008 13:13:58 CDT</pubDate>
  4835. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4836. </item>
  4839. <item>
  4840. <title>Chemo round ten and other updates</title>
  4841. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  4842. <link></link>
  4843. <description>
  4844.  <![CDATA[
  4845. <p>I am sitting at the oncologist as I type this, about two hours into
  4846. round ten. I met with the doctor this morning and we chatted for a bit.
  4847. He is pleased with my progress to date and we discussed some of the
  4848. next steps that he has planned for me post chemo. The net is that I'll
  4849. need to get another cat scan once chemo ends to re-establish a
  4850. "baseline picture" of how I look and then I'll start seeing him on a
  4851. frequent but more periodic basis to keep tabs on how I am doing. This
  4852. is more or less what I expected. He is hopeful the treatment plan will
  4853. have done the job but I'll still need to be monitored closely for the
  4854. next five years at a minimum in case (Heaven forbid) of a recurrence. I
  4855. know I am going to be nervous every time he tests me but he is being
  4856. very positive so that is as much as I can ask for at this stage.<br>
  4857. </p>
  4858. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Reading</span><br>
  4859. </p>
  4860. <p><img style="width: 200px; height: 313px;"
  4861. alt="Kite Runner Cover Photo"
  4862. src=""
  4863. align="left" hspace="10">Thankfully my eyesight seems to be improving
  4864. even though I am still in
  4865. treatment and I am finding it much easier to keep up with my <a
  4866.  href="">reading</a>
  4867. than had been the case during the earlier weeks of treatment. I have
  4868. managed to read several books in the past few weeks. I just finished
  4869. reading <a
  4870. href=";s=books&amp;qid=1207584302&amp;sr=1-2">The
  4871. Kite Runner</a>
  4872. by Khaled Hosseini. I have not yet seen the film that was recently
  4873. released but having read the book I definitely want to see it now. The
  4874. Kite Runner was a refreshing change from my staple diet of
  4875. action/suspense and science fiction books. I won't spoil the plot here
  4876. but I will say it gives a great perspective of life in Afghanistan over
  4877. multiple decades from the time before the Russian invasion all the way
  4878. to the present day. I found myself really attached to the main
  4879. characters and I found myself suffering along with them as I read the
  4880. book. If you have not read this book yet, you might want to add it to
  4881. your reading queue. In many ways a sad story about people trying to
  4882. make the best of their situation but also uplifting at
  4883. other times, definitely well written and well worth reading. <br>
  4884. </p>
  4885. <p>I also recently finished <a
  4886. href=";s=books&amp;qid=1207585249&amp;sr=1-2">The
  4887. Broker</a> by John Grisham. This was different from his normal style in
  4888. that it was more about spies and espionage than it was about court
  4889. rooms and lawyers. That said, I really enjoyed it, although I have read
  4890. reviews from Grisham purists who viewed it as one of his worst books.
  4891. The book is mostly set in Bologna and other parts of Italy and by the
  4892. time he is done describing the place you are left wanting to hop on the
  4893. next plane a go visit. So while definitely not a typical Grisham book,
  4894. I enjoyed it - I guess I am not a purist!<br>
  4895. </p>
  4896. <p><br>
  4897. </p>
  4898. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;"><br>
  4899.  </span></p>
  4900.  <br>
  4901. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Video Games</span><br>
  4902. </p>
  4903. <p>I hadn't had much time to play <a href="">video games</a>
  4904. lately nor the right state of mind probably given how "foggy" my head
  4905. has been. That said this weekend between lots of outdoor activities I
  4906. made time to sit down and finally finish the single player missions of
  4907. Halo 3 (XBOX 360). This is a thoroughly enjoyable and well engineered
  4908. game. I am really grateful to my friends who gave it to me as a get
  4909. well present back in the post surgery days. It has been one of many
  4910. useful distractions that have helped keep my mind off things. I have
  4911. now started playing BioShock which was a birthday present from the
  4912. family back in February. So far this looks like another very
  4913. interesting and high quality game but more violent than Halo 3 I would
  4914. suggest based only on about two hours playing time. With Summer weather
  4915. already here I need to keep my gaming to a minmum and set the right
  4916. precedent by doing a lot of things out doors and thus, hopefully,
  4917. encouraging the kids to do the same. That said I do have my PSP sitting
  4918. here with Metal Gear Solid loaded and ready to go should I need a fix
  4919. during the five hour long chemo session today!<br>
  4920. </p>
  4921. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Summer is almost here<br>
  4922. </span></p>
  4923. <p>This weekend, the weather was gorgeous, blue skies and temperatures
  4924. rose to the high 80's Fahrenheit by Sunday afternoon. Both Robyn and
  4925. Jack had soccer games on Saturday and I played on Sunday. We all are a
  4926. bit sun burned today. It's supposed to be in the eighties each day of
  4927. the coming week. The kids decided that the weather was so nice that
  4928. they were going to jump into the pool which they duly did and I must
  4929. say despite the water being barely above 70 degrees, they had a great
  4930. time. So I guess this means the pool is now officially open for
  4931. business for the 2008 season. I would usually have jumped in there with
  4932. them, anything above 68 degrees I will swim in happily but the meds I
  4933. am on right now make me so sensitive to cold I am going to need to run
  4934. the pool heater for a couple of days before I'll be able to join them
  4935. in the water.<br>
  4936. </p>
  4937. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Football/Soccer</span><br>
  4938. </p>
  4939. <p>In my prior post I mentioned I was hoping for an Arsenal win against
  4940. Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions Leage match. Sadly the
  4941. match ended in a 1-1 draw which gives Liverpool a definite advantage as
  4942. the teams head into the second leg of the tie. With the away goals
  4943. rule, Arsenal have to score at least once at Anfield as a 0-0 draw
  4944. would hand the match to Liverpool. Having also watched the teams tie
  4945. 1-1 in the league right after the first leg, I am not confident Arsenal
  4946. can pull this one off but I guess we'll see. For sure they need to
  4947. rediscover their goal scoring ways from the earlier part of the season.
  4948. On a related topic, I really enjoyed watching the FA Cup semi-finals
  4949. from Wembley this past weekend. It's great to see the FA Cup magic is
  4950. still alive with many of the big clubs having been knocked out by lower
  4951. division opposition. I look forward to the final, which has the
  4952. unlikely lineup of Cardiff vs Portsmouth. I'm really happy for my
  4953. friend Graham who is a huge Pompey fan. I hope he can get a ticket for
  4954. the big match.<br>
  4955. </p>
  4956. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">Mac Book Pro - update<br>
  4957. </span></p>
  4958. <p>It's been about three months or so now since I got my Mac Book Pro
  4959. laptop. I continue to be really impressed by this machine. The fact
  4960. that every night I can put it to sleep and in the morning open the lid
  4961. and have it wake up and start downloading my mail without me having to
  4962. anything is really great. I have re-booted the machine twice since the
  4963. start of the year and one of those time was just part of installing a
  4964. major OS update. This really is a robust platform. By contrast, if I
  4965. put my Windows XP laptop to sleep (hibernate) more than about 3 times
  4966. in a row I have to reboot the system to get it working properly again.
  4967. I'm not a Windows hater it's just that with the Mac I have found a
  4968. machine where I feel very comfortable, a machine that I trust to work
  4969. the way I expect it to and most importantly of all, a machine where I
  4970. am definitely more productive. As I learn more and more of the Mac's
  4971. features I'll keep on posting updates. I will also note that the one
  4972. negative thing I have observed lately is that if the processor is
  4973. working hard, the metal casing gets very hot and if you have it sitting
  4974. on your legs while wearing shorts it can get pretty uncomfortable - of
  4975. course this is just what you need on a cold night flight across the
  4976. Atlantic - so that could be viewed as a plus!</p>
  4977. <p><br>
  4978. So that's it for this round of miscellaneous updates. I'll try and post
  4979. again soon as I progress through round 10.<br>
  4980. ]]>
  4981. </description>
  4982. <pubDate>Mon, 7 Apr 2008 12:01:07 CDT</pubDate>
  4983. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  4984. </item>
  4987. <item>
  4988. <title>Six months post diagnosis</title>
  4989. <category domain="">medical</category>
  4990. <link></link>
  4991. <description>
  4992. <![CDATA[
  4993. Hard though it is for me to believe, it was six months ago yesterday
  4994. that I underwent the colonoscopy that discovered the cancer in my colon
  4995. and changed my outlook on life substantially. At that time
  4996. I <a href="">wrote about it here </a>.
  4997. A lot has happened since then but I guess the overall summary is "so
  4998. far so good".&nbsp; I have three chemo rounds left to go now which
  4999. really is not that bad but the side effects, especially the constant
  5000. sense of fatigue, do seem to have become cumulative. My last chemo
  5001. treatment is scheduled for the week beginning May 5th so I can at least
  5002. see the light at the end of that particular tunnel now. Round ten
  5003. begins next Monday (April 7th) and at that time I have a meeting
  5004. scheduled with my oncologist where I want to have a "what happens
  5005. next?" type discussion. As far as I know I go into a sort of frequent
  5006. checkup maintenance mode at that point (both with him and my surgeon)
  5007. but I have several questions I want to ask him. I will also need
  5008. another (minor) surgery at some point to remove the "power port" that
  5009. is used to infuse the drugs into my system. The one question I really
  5010. want an answer to is the one question he cannot answer. That of course
  5011. is "am I cured?". All he is able to give me, and this is not his fault,
  5012. it's just the nature of the beast, is statistics and a prognosis based
  5013. on experience in treating similar cases. In spite of this, and I try
  5014. not to dwell on it, it is frustrating having undergone all that I have
  5015. in the past six months that there is no definitive test that can tell
  5016. you how well the combined surgery/chemo treatment plan has worked. As I
  5017. have joked with him in the past, the bottom line is that if I am still
  5018. here for my checkups in five years then he has cured me! That said, my
  5019. spirits are pretty good and I am not wasting too much time worrying
  5020. about things that I really cannot do much about. Of course the little
  5021. pink pills help there too! On a positive note, an experience such as
  5022. this really helps remind you of the things that are truly important in
  5023. life. I feel that I am closer to my wife and kids than ever before (and
  5024. we have always been a close family) and I have been reminded how many
  5025. wonderful friends I have all over the World that have been there for me
  5026. these past six months. My oncologist commented to me that years from
  5027. now I will actually look back on this as a positive experience on many
  5028. levels. I think he is right. Not only have I been reminded of how much
  5029. my family and friends mean to me I have also bonded with so many brave
  5030. fellow patients that I meet week in, week out at the oncology clinic. I
  5031. am humbled by many of the stories I have had told to me by other
  5032. patients describing what they are going through - it really does stop
  5033. any small amount of self pity from rising to the surface when you are
  5034. constantly reminded that things could be a lot worse. It has also been
  5035. hard lately to see a few people who are probably still in high school
  5036. being brought in for treatment. Sadly cancer is a very indiscriminate
  5037. predator. <br>
  5038. </p>
  5039. <p>On a lighter note, Spring is in full bloom here, and although we
  5040. have had several cloudy and rainy days lately, Summer is clearly just
  5041. around the corner. Even on the cloudy days our temperatures are getting
  5042. into the high 70's or low 80's Fahrenheit and the water in the pool out
  5043. back is now up to 70 degrees and the kids are begging me to turn the
  5044. heater on so they can start swimming. Last year I started swimming when
  5045. the water was 68 degrees but one of the side effects of the meds I am
  5046. on is that I am very sensitive to cold so I suspect they won't have to
  5047. twist my arm too hard on this one. I could certainly use the exercise!!
  5048. Talking of the kids, they are already counting down the days left until
  5049. the end of school (which for us happens at the end of May - much
  5050. earlier than for my friends and family back in Europe). We have started
  5051. discussing what we want to do this Summer which has been great fun. We
  5052. are already planning a few fun things to do with the kids in June once
  5053. I am done with chemo which really is a pleasant change in dinner time
  5054. conversation from some of the other daily issues we have been dealing
  5055. with the past six months.<br>
  5056. </p>
  5057. <p>Oh and completely off topic, hopefully Arsenal will beat Liverpool later today in the Champions
  5058. League which will definitely raise my spirits! The match is being shown
  5059. live on TV here so I'll probably record it and watch it after work
  5060. tonight (apologies to any Liverpool fans I just offended but I have
  5061. been a mad keen Arsenal supporter since I was about five years old).</p>
  5062. <p>So with that, I'll close this somewhat more philosophical than usual posting.<br>
  5063. </p>
  5064. <p>&nbsp;I'll post again soon, probably after I talk to the oncologist again on Monday if not before. <br>
  5065. <br>
  5066. ]]>
  5067. </description>
  5068. <pubDate>Wed, 2 Apr 2008 10:15:38 CDT</pubDate>
  5069. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5070. </item>
  5072. <item>
  5073. <title>End of round nine</title>
  5074. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5075. <link></link>
  5076. <description>
  5077. <![CDATA[
  5078. <p>Yesterday marked the end of my ninth chemotherapy cycle. So that's
  5079. nine down and three to go. My last one will be the week of May 5th so
  5080. not so far off now. The side effects (mostly the fatigue and some
  5081. annoying bouts of nausea) have hit me quicker than usual this time so
  5082. I'll keep this update brief. Hopefully this means I'll be more with it
  5083. by the weekend when both of my kids have soccer games that I very much
  5084. want to be at. I am both excited and anxious to see the chemo
  5085. treatments getting close to done. On the one hand I will be glad to be
  5086. rid of the side effects but on the other, seeing my oncologist on a
  5087. weekly basis and having him re-assure me that things are going well
  5088. has, to some extent, become my safety blanket and I think it will take
  5089. some getting used to being off the treatments once we reach that point.
  5090. Of course, having said that I'll be going in for regular monitoring so
  5091. I guess I'll get enough interaction to keep my spirits up. I really
  5092. love the oncology team I am working with they really are a great bunch
  5093. of people and they are so up beat that it definitely rubs off on me and
  5094. as far as I can tell the other patients as well.<br>
  5095. </p>
  5096. <p>I'll post more updates soon, once the "chemo fog" clears again.<br>
  5097. </p>
  5098. <p>I continue to be very grateful for all of the e-mails and messages in the
  5099. <a href="">guest book</a>
  5100. and the messages I have been getting on Facebook. You guys out there
  5101. have done more than you probably realize to help keep my spirits up. As
  5102. always, a very big Thank You!
  5103. </p>
  5104. ]]>
  5105. </description>
  5106. <pubDate>Thu, 27 Mar 2008 12:17:09 CDT</pubDate>
  5107. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5108. </item>
  5111. <item>
  5112. <title>Chemo round nine</title>
  5113. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5114. <link></link>
  5115. <description>
  5116. <![CDATA[
  5117. <p>Today I started round nine of the chemo treatments and I also got
  5118. some good news on the blood work front. While my platelets are still on
  5119. a bit of a roller coaster ride, my haemoglobin level is up to 13.1.
  5120. This is the highest it has been since I was diagnosed back in October
  5121. 2007 and the level was down to a frighteningly low value of eight. For
  5122. an adult male "normal" is considered to be between fourteen and
  5123. seventeen so I am tantalizingly close to the normal range now. Because
  5124. of this, my medical team are suspending the weekly iron shots and are
  5125. going to let me fend for myself for a while to see if my blood levels
  5126. continue to hold their own without help. I'll still be getting the
  5127. chemo meds as normal but I won't have to go in on the "off weeks" for
  5128. iron, unless of course the numbers start going in the wrong direction
  5129. again. I was hoping to post this from the oncologists today but for
  5130. some reason their network was not able to connect to the internet at
  5131. all today so I am posting from home instead with day one of round nine
  5132. now behind me (except of course for my little IV pump full of <a
  5133. href="">5FU</a>
  5134. that goes everywhere I go for the next two days! It seems a bit hard to
  5135. believe but after this week I only have three chemo treatments
  5136. left.&nbsp; My last scheduled chemo visit is the week of May 5th. If
  5137. all goes well I should have chemo behind me before the kids break for
  5138. the Summer in mid to late May.</p>
  5139. <p>On Saturday Robyn took the first part of her Tae Kwon Do black belt
  5140. test (called a mid-term) and we believe she passed. She will take the
  5141. final part of her test either in May or August depending on the
  5142. scheduling. We are very proud of her as this is a non trivial
  5143. achievement.<br>
  5144. </p>
  5145. <p>This weekend the weather here was wonderful and it looks set to stay
  5146. that way all through this week. We have clear blue skies and
  5147. temperatures are forecast to be in the&nbsp; 60's today and up to the
  5148. eighties by the end of the week. Spring is a wonderful time of year
  5149. here (except for the days when the super cell storms come through!). We
  5150. had no soccer matches this week as we were all off for the Easter break
  5151. but both kids have practices and games this coming week so I am going
  5152. to be quite busy in the evenings and on Saturday with that.<br>
  5153. </p>
  5154. <p>I had promised to post some of the San Antonio photos here. I
  5155. haven't yet had the time to work on doing that but here at least is a
  5156. photo of the Alamo. Please ignore the man pushing a trash can. I took
  5157. this photo in a hurry while my son was having a melt down and did not
  5158. have a lot of time to think about perfect composition !!<br>
  5159. </p>
  5160. <p style="text-align: center;"><img style="width: 413px; height: 217px;"
  5161. alt="The Alamo, San Antonio" title="The Alamo, San Antonio"
  5162. src=""><br>
  5163. The Alamo, San Antonio, March 2008.<br>
  5164. </p>
  5165. <p>I am feeling very tired today so I'll keep this post brief and aim
  5166. to post again soon as the week progresses. I hope everyone has a great
  5167. week.<br>
  5168. </p>
  5170. ]]>
  5171. </description>
  5172. <pubDate>Mon, 24 Mar 2008 17:20:12 CDT</pubDate>
  5173. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5174. </item>
  5177. <item>
  5178. <title>Spring Break in San Antonio plus the end of round eight</title>
  5179. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  5180. <link></link>
  5181. <description>
  5182. <![CDATA[
  5183. <p>Chemo round eight officially ended last Wednesday (March 12th)
  5184. around 1pm. After that we rounded up the kids, loaded the car and set
  5185. off for <a
  5186. href=";hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;q=san+antonio&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=29.424049,-98.495178&amp;spn=0.788252,1.172791&amp;t=p&amp;z=10&amp;iwloc=addr">San
  5187. Antonio</a> for the remaining few days of the week. We knew we were
  5188. taking a bit of a gamble not knowing what kind of shape I would be in
  5189. from the chemo the days before but thankfully the main side effects
  5190. held off until we were back home a few days later and did nothing to
  5191. spoil our trip. From our house, it's less than 100 miles to San Antonio
  5192. and we probably do not make the effort to visit often enough as there
  5193. is a lot to do there. Most people think of the <a
  5194. href="">Alamo</a>
  5195. when they think of San Antonio but that is just one of the many fun
  5196. things available to go and visit. For this trip, our main reason for
  5197. going was that we had tickets for travelling performance of "<a
  5198. href="">Saltimbanco"</a>
  5199. by <a
  5200. href="">Cirque
  5201. Du Soleil</a>&nbsp; at the AT&amp;T Center on Thursday night. We
  5202. decided it would be more fun however, to get a hotel and turn the trip
  5203. into a mini-vacation. We got to our hotel (the Doubletree Suites)
  5204. around 6pm and after enjoying the free snack buffet the hotel provides
  5205. each night we went for a very pleasant stroll along the River Walk to
  5206. get some fresh air and to explore some of the local shops along the
  5207. way. This hotel, by the way was perfect for a family with kids. Each
  5208. room has a separate living area with kitchen and a very respectable
  5209. breakfast as well as the sizeable happy hour buffet are included in the
  5210. room rate. There is also a very small pool on the roof but our kids
  5211. still managed to have fun splashing about in it a couple of times
  5212. during our brief stay. On Thursday moring we got up early, had
  5213. breakfast and walked along the river to the IMAX theater where we all
  5214. enjoyed "Dinosaurs of Patagonia" in 3D. After that we had lunch at the
  5215. River Center Mall and took a guided tour boat ride around the river.
  5216. It's very "touristy" but still fun. If you have never been to San
  5217. Antonio, the River Walk is great. Whether you circumnavigate it on
  5218. foot, by tour boat or by river taxi, there is no end of historical
  5219. sights and restaurants to enjoy along the way. After the tour we walked
  5220. back above ground rather than along the river (which is actually set
  5221. down below street level) so that I could take a few photos of the
  5222. Alamo. Although I have been back several times since, The last time I
  5223. had been to the Alamo with a camera was in 1989 when I was still
  5224. carrying my trusty old Canon 35mm SLR. I wanted to get a few digital
  5225. shots this time. I only had time to snap a few though, as by this time,
  5226. given the very warm Spring weather, my six year old son Jack was both
  5227. literally and figuratively melting! We finally got back to the hotel
  5228. and rested for a few hours (the kids took the chance to visit the pool
  5229. again) before heading off to find the AT&amp;T Center in time for
  5230. "Cirque". We had been to Cirque Du Soleil once before, in Orlando and
  5231. thoroughly enjoyed it. That time we had seen the <a
  5232. href="">La
  5233. Nouba</a> show which has the advantage of being on a permanent stage
  5234. and feels considerably larger in scale than this show. However, <a
  5235. href="">Saltimbanco</a>
  5236. was still very good and well worth seeing.<br>
  5237. </p>
  5238. <p>On Friday morning we got up and packed, had breakfast and set off
  5239. for the San Antonio Zoo. However, on arriving at the Zoo we realized
  5240. this had been a bad idea. All of the parking lots were full and even
  5241. though the San Antonio Spring Break is the week after ours, we could
  5242. see that the Zoo was packed full of school parties getting off to an
  5243. early start on their Spring Break plans. In the end we did not even try
  5244. to park, we just got back on the freeway and started to head home. Our
  5245. daughter, Robyn, was not at all pleased by this turn of events as she
  5246. had really been wanting to see some animals. Clearly we needed a plan
  5247. B. Luckily my wife knew of a wildlife park near <a
  5248. href=";hl=en&amp;geocode=&amp;q=new+braunfels&amp;ie=UTF8&amp;ll=29.698789,-98.12027&amp;spn=0.786111,1.172791&amp;t=p&amp;z=10&amp;iwloc=addr">New
  5249. Braunfels</a> called the <a href="">Natural
  5250. Bridge Wildlife Ranch</a>. The park is just&nbsp; a few miles west of
  5251. I35 and more importantly right on our way home. We had seen the signs
  5252. by the side of the road before but never been there so we decided to
  5253. give it a go. It turned out to be a great idea. The park was not that
  5254. busy and the main attraction is a "drive in your own car" safari tour.
  5255. The highlight for all of us was when a group of Zebra came up to the
  5256. car and stuck their heads in and let us feed them some of the animal
  5257. food we had been given as we entered the park. Despite the warning
  5258. signs about not hand feeding the animals both by the roadside and in
  5259. the guidebook, the animals are clearly used to cars and people and
  5260. expect to get fed! We saw several animals walk up to a car, wait to get
  5261. fed and then on realizing the car had no food walk on in disgust to the
  5262. next car. OK so it wasn't quite the full African experience but it was
  5263. a lot of fun. That said, we decided not to try hand feeding the
  5264. osteriches as they all just looked too cranky to take the chance!&nbsp;
  5265. While in New Braunfels, we also took the opportunity to enjoy a really
  5266. nice lunch at the famous New Braunfels Smokehouse - the food is great
  5267. and if you are ever passing through I recommend it for a lunch or
  5268. dinner stop. They focus on barbecue but they also serve salads and
  5269. other lighter fare.<br>
  5270. </p>
  5271. <p>We arrived home around 5pm on Friday afternoon, by which time the
  5272. crazy Texas Spring weather was up to 97 degrees Fahrenheit!&nbsp;
  5273. Weather wise we have been on a real roller coaster ride (as is normal
  5274. for the time of year) with high temperatures ranging from the mid
  5275. sixties all the way up to almost 100 degrees. Today as I type this it's
  5276. in the eighties outside but very cloudy and we are under a severe
  5277. weather watch with the chance of both hail and tornadoes before the end
  5278. of Tuesday - such is life in Texas during the Spring time. A few years
  5279. back we lost our roof to a Spring time hail storm so you learn rapidly
  5280. down here to take these weather notices seriously.<br>
  5281. </p>
  5282. <p>On Saturday the "chemo fog" finally caught up with me, and today
  5283. (Monday) I am still struggling to shake it off.&nbsp; Consequently, I
  5284. stayed at home to rest on Saturday while Lorna and Robyn got up really
  5285. early to go to a 3 v 3 soccer tournament. They came home tired and
  5286. sunburned but as best as I can tell they had a good time despite by all
  5287. accounts having had to play some very tough teams in the competition.
  5288. Sunday was another rest day for me although I forced myself to go and
  5289. play soccer during the afternoon just to get myself out of the house.
  5290. Suffice to say my reactions were not that sharp and I mostly stood in
  5291. the goal without too much to do but it was nice to get out for a bit.<br>
  5292. </p>
  5293. <p>Today I was back at the oncologist for my iron shot and other (non
  5294. chemo) meds but at least I have a few days now before round nine gets
  5295. underway next week. Sadly two of the meds make you sleepy - just what I
  5296. needed !!<br>
  5297. </p>
  5298. <p>That's all the news for now. I took a lot of photos during our brief
  5299. trip to San Antonio. I'll try and post a few over the next few days,
  5300. but I need to do a little cropping and Photo Shop-ing first!
  5301. ]]>
  5302. </description>
  5303. <pubDate>Mon, 17 Mar 2008 18:10:47 CDT</pubDate>
  5304. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5305. </item>
  5308. <item>
  5309. <title>Chemo round eight and the start of Spring Break</title>
  5310. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5311. <link></link>
  5312. <description>
  5313. <![CDATA[
  5314. Today is the first day of Spring Break here in the Austin area so
  5315. naturally the weather is lousy. We awoke to thunderstorms and driving
  5316. rain, and given we started Daylight Savings Time (DST) this past
  5317. weekend (earlier than in the past under the new rules that recently
  5318. went into effect), it was still almost dark outside at 8am this
  5319. morning! Getting the kids out of bed was a real challenge, but we had
  5320. to wake them up as they start a three day Karate Camp today. At least
  5321. that will give them a chance to have some fun indoors out of the rain
  5322. and away from the TV and video games - works for me!<br>
  5323. </p>
  5324. <p>On the topic of DST, for the benefit of my friends and family in the
  5325. UK, given that your clocks do not go forward until the end of March, I
  5326. am now one hour closer to your time for a couple of weeks. So, for
  5327. example, 12pm (midday) here is currently 5pm in the UK where it is
  5328. normally 6pm for most of the year.<br>
  5329. </p>
  5330. <p>As well as getting the kids up early, I also had to leave the house
  5331. at the same time as round eight of my chemo treatments starts today -
  5332. again what a great way to Start Spring break! I am currently sitting in
  5333. one of the comfy reclining chairs at the oncologist's office as I type
  5334. this (which is no mean feat I might add given all the meds they pumped
  5335. into me a few minutes ago that have made me very dopey). They tested my
  5336. blood an hour ago and I just got the results. Thankfully my platelet
  5337. count has gone up again and there is no need to adjust my treatment
  5338. plan at the present time. I am very happy about this. I'm into a
  5339. routine now and as a creature of habit I am hoping I can stay on my
  5340. routine until May when my chemo treatments end.<br>
  5341. </p>
  5342. <p>I'm looking forward to Wednesday when this round ends. I am taking
  5343. the rest of the week off so that I can spend some quality play time
  5344. with the family.<br>
  5345. </p>
  5346. <p>I'll post again soon as I get through this round. Only four more to
  5347. go after this one!!!<br>
  5348. ]]>
  5349. </description>
  5350. <pubDate>Mon, 10 Mar 2008 10:55:37 CDT</pubDate>
  5351. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5352. </item>
  5354. <item>
  5355. <title>Miscellaneous updates</title>
  5356. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  5357. <link></link>
  5358. <description>
  5359. <![CDATA[
  5360. It's hard to believe that it's already March. We have had a very
  5361. mild winter here in Central Texas. We did not have a single "ice day"
  5362. this year so far. The temperatures the last few days have been all over
  5363. the map which is fairly typical for early Spring here. On Wednesday
  5364. when I went to pick my daughter up from school I wore shorts as it was
  5365. right around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. I really like living here!
  5366. Yesterday it actually rained a lot and today has been cooler but all in
  5367. all the weather remains, for the most part very mild. Yesterday I was
  5368. speaking to a colleague who lives in Toronto and he was moaning about
  5369. "yet another snow day" so I guess for large parts of the US and Canada
  5370. it's not quite Spring yet! Today a cold front blew through and it was
  5371. somewhat cooler even here but it is supposed to be back into the 70's
  5372. again over the weekend which is good as both of the kids have soccer
  5373. games on Saturday and I have a game on Sunday. Next week is Spring
  5374. Break here. For my friends and family in the UK it's basically the same
  5375. concept as half term. The kids are off all week and I am going to take
  5376. part of the week off once I get done with round eight of chemo which is
  5377. on Monday, Tuesday and a small part of Wednesday.<br>
  5378. </p>
  5379. <p>I have been trying to keep up with my <a href="">reading </a>as
  5380. it really does help me relax and thankfully my eyesight seems to have
  5381. improved a bit in the last couple of weeks from where the FOLFOX
  5382. cocktail had taken it to during the first several weeks of chemo. This
  5383. week I finished another of the Harry Turtledove books in the
  5384. Colonization series. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately started
  5385. reading the next one which is in fact the last in this set of three
  5386. (although it's really book seven in a series of eight related books). I
  5387. am grateful to my friend Roger who introduced me to this author and I
  5388. have really enjoyed every book in the series. The books are science
  5389. fiction in nature but take place in an alternate view of history where
  5390. an alien race invades the earth right in the middle of the Second World
  5391. War and the various human nations have to put their differences aside
  5392. to confront the high tech invaders. If that concept for a story line
  5393. appeals and you have not read any of the Harry Turtledove books then I
  5394. highly recommend these.<br>
  5395. </p>
  5396. <p>Some of you may have noticed that the <a href="">Guest
  5397. Book</a> has changed. My web hosting company recently upgraded their
  5398. server software and replaced the guest book tool with a different one.
  5399. I have had a few people tell me that they have had trouble posting to
  5400. the new guest book but as far as I know it is working&nbsp; correctly.
  5401. I am a bit nervous however, as since I switched over no one (except my
  5402. wife and I who were testing it) has posted. If you feel the urge I
  5403. would appreciate a few of you posting to let me know it is actually
  5404. working correctly. All of the old messages are still available in an
  5405. archive that I have created and provided a link to on the main <a
  5406. href="">Guest Book</a> page.<br>
  5407. </p>
  5408. <p>While speaking about hearing from people, I would like to mention
  5409. that I have been contacted by several people who found my web site
  5410. while doing web searches for information on colon cancer treatment. I
  5411. am both humbled and pleased that these people have contacted me and
  5412. also hopefully found some of the information I have been posting
  5413. useful. As I have mentioned before here, one of my goals when I decided
  5414. to be very open about my diagnosis and ongoing treatment was to provide
  5415. some relevant information and perhaps also a little hope and
  5416. encouragement to others that find themselves in a similar place to me.
  5417. I am glad that people have found this site and I am grateful that it
  5418. has proven useful for them to be able to compare notes with me. To all
  5419. of you who have contacted me, we're in this together, try to stay
  5420. positive, the treatment for colon cancer these days has come a long way
  5421. even in the last ten years or so. My thoughts and prayers are with all
  5422. of you. Keep up the fight!<br>
  5423. </p>
  5424. <p>On the sports watching front this has been a mixed week for the
  5425. teams I follow. I was really happy to see Arsenal beat AC Milan in the
  5426. Champions League on Tuesday but I am not quite so happy with the way
  5427. the England cricket team is performing in New Zealand this week. Still
  5428. you can't have everything as they say.<br>
  5429. </p>
  5430. <p>For my Mac owning friends who ping me regularly to ask about the
  5431. (still fairly new for me) Mac Book Pro - it's official - I'm in love.
  5432. This week I did not even open up my Windows laptop once. I was able to
  5433. do all of the things required by my job as well as a bunch of personal
  5434. projects during the evenings solely on the Mac. I have only found one
  5435. program so far (Quicken) for which the Mac native version will not work
  5436. for me. This is because for reasons I do not understand, the makers of
  5437. Quicken decided that the file formats used by the Windows version of
  5438. Quicken and the Mac version would not be 100% compatible. As I like to
  5439. share my files between my machines (for backup purposes as well as pure
  5440. convenience) I decided to try installing the VMware Fusion product this
  5441. week that lets me run Windows applications on the Mac. So far, after
  5442. two days of using it, I have to say that this seems like the perfect
  5443. solution. I do 90% of the things I need to do using native Mac
  5444. applications and&nbsp; then run Quicken using Fusion when I need to. As
  5445. one of my good friends commented after I had been saying how much I was
  5446. enjoying using the Mac - "I told you so". For the technically minded, I
  5447. installed Windows XP Service Pack 2 in the VM and so far it seems to
  5448. work just fine. So now I have the best of both Worlds as far as I am
  5449. concerned with Mac applications and Windows ones running side by side
  5450. on the same desktop without me ever needing to re-boot the Mac to
  5451. switch to Windows or go to another machine to run the Windows
  5452. applications that I need to run. I guess you can sign me up for the Mac
  5453. fan club at this point. I really do like this machine a lot.<br>
  5454. </p>
  5455. <p>So anyway, that's about it for now. I'm looking forward to another
  5456. busy weekend with lots of time hopefully being spent outdoors. Chemo
  5457. round eight starts on Monday but at least next week is Spring Break as
  5458. I mentioned and I have a few days off with the family to look forward
  5459. to at the end of the week.<br>
  5460. ]]>
  5461. </description>
  5462. <pubDate>Fri, 7 Mar 2008 22:03:55 CST</pubDate>
  5463. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5464. </item>
  5466. <item>
  5467. <title>End of round seven</title>
  5468. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5469. <link></link>
  5470. <description>
  5471. <![CDATA[
  5472. I just got back from the oncologist having been unplugged from my
  5473. portable pump which marks the end of round seven. Only five more rounds
  5474. to go - yay! Apart from the setback on my platelet count (that I
  5475. described in my prior posting) I'm feeling pretty good overall. Later
  5476. today I get to go and coach my son's soccer team and tomorrow I get to
  5477. go and help couch my daughter's team. Both teams have their first games
  5478. this coming weekend. Hopefully the fatigue will hold off enough to
  5479. enable me to actively take part in and enjoy all of these activities as
  5480. the weather here continues to be fabulous. Mostly blue skies and
  5481. temperatures during the day that have ranged from the high 80's F a few
  5482. days ago to the mid sixties today. Right now it's about 66 degrees and
  5483. just about perfect weather for being outside and running around with
  5484. the boys (which I shall be doing around 5pm today).<br>
  5485. </p>
  5486. <p>Several of you have written to me asking how I am liking my Mac Book
  5487. Pro now that I have had it for a couple of months or so. In short I
  5488. love it. It is by far the most reliable computer that I have ever
  5489. owned. I still use my trusty IBM Thinkpad during the work day to get
  5490. some work specific things done but even most of those I could do on the
  5491. Mac now that I have the appropriate software installed. In the evenings
  5492. when I tend to try and find time to work on more personal things like
  5493. surf the web, my non work e-mail&nbsp; or working on the web page I
  5494. have been using the Mac almost exclusively for those tasks. I just
  5495. installed the Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5.2) upgrade and it seems to be
  5496. working well. I particularly like the new Time Machine enhancements. <br>
  5497. </p>
  5498. <p>As a side note, my web hosting company just upgraded all of their
  5499. server side software. As far as I can tell the migration has gone
  5500. without a hitch but please do let me know if you see any unexpected
  5501. behaviour from the web site over the next few weeks.<br>
  5502. </p>
  5503. <p>That's about it for right now then. More updates to follow soon and
  5504. as always thanks for the continued messages of support. Although as far
  5505. as I can tell things are going pretty well this remains a very nervous
  5506. time for me and all of the e-mails, calls and messages in the <a
  5507.  href="">Guest Book</a> really do help me a lot keep my
  5508. spirits up.
  5509. ]]>
  5510. </description>
  5511. <pubDate>Wed, 27 Feb 2008 15:47:09 CST</pubDate>
  5512. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5513. </item>
  5516. <item>
  5517. <title>Chemo round seven</title>
  5518. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5519. <link></link>
  5520. <description>
  5521. <![CDATA[
  5522. It's 10:41am here in sunny Round Rock Texas as I type this. I am
  5523. currently in my chair at the oncologists office commencing round 7
  5524. of&nbsp; the planned 12 chemo treatments. I just finished all of the
  5525. regular blood tests that they do at the start of each cycle and they
  5526. have now started pumping the prep meds into me before they serve the
  5527. "main course". A couple of the meds make me very drowsy so I hope that
  5528. this posting stays somewhat coherent!<br>
  5529. </p>
  5530. <p>Today for the first time since we started working with the
  5531. oncologist my blood test results are heading in the wrong direction.
  5532. This is another side effect of the FOLFOX cocktail that they have me
  5533. on.. My <a href="">bone marrow</a>
  5534. is not keeping up with production needs and consequently my <a
  5535. href="">platelet </a>count is
  5536. significantly down. My haemoglobin level is slightly down. While these
  5537. side effects are often to be expected and are a common occurrence with
  5538. chemotherapy patients, it is still a bit depressing to have any kind of
  5539. setback. If my platelet levels get much lower they may have to suspend
  5540. treatments until they rise again. Among other things, platelets help
  5541. the blood congeal (clot) and stop bleeding from occurring. If my count
  5542. drops much lower I will be told to suspend all of my physical
  5543. activities that involve any chance of me getting cut - this would mean
  5544. no more soccer for a while and would be really depressing. I have
  5545. really started to look forward to my weekly Sunday soccer match now
  5546. that I am back into the routine and that my body seems to have enough
  5547. stamina to get through a game OK. I played again yesterday in fact and
  5548. felt more alert than I had the week before - which is good given I am
  5549. the goalie! <br>
  5550. </p>
  5551. <p>In other news ......the Girl Scouts cookie drive which has been
  5552. running for the last five weeks finally came to a close yesterday. I
  5553. think Robyn has sold something in the region of 500 boxes of cookies so
  5554. I think she has more than done her part for the cause! It will be nice
  5555. to see more of both Robyn and Lorna again now that they won't be
  5556. rushing off all the time to man a cookie booth.<br>
  5557. </p>
  5558. <p>That's about if for now, and given the meds really are making me
  5559. sleepy I'll close this posting.&nbsp; <br>
  5560. </p>
  5561. <p>As a footnote, you may have noticed that a few days ago I archived
  5562. all of the remaining 2007 entries from this page. They are all still
  5563. available in the <a href="">archive</a>.
  5564. ]]>
  5565. </description>
  5566. <pubDate>Mon, 25 Feb 2008 11:09:39 CST</pubDate>
  5567. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5568. </item>
  5571. <item>
  5572. <title>No Jack that is not how you make a wireless mouse!</title>
  5573. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  5574. <link></link>
  5575. <description>
  5576. <![CDATA[
  5577. This weekend I heard my wife call from the other room to see if I
  5578. could figure out what was wrong with the mouse on the new computer (it
  5579. turns out she already knew what was wrong but wanted me to see first
  5580. hand!). My six year old son had been sitting by the computer and had
  5581. found a pair of scissors lying nearby and for reasons known only to him
  5582. had decided he wanted to turn the corded mouse into a wireless mouse.
  5583. When I got there I found, to admittedly a mix of horror and, yes,
  5584. amusement, that he had cut the mouse completely off it's cord using the
  5585. aforementioned scissors! For those who may be wondering this does not
  5586. turn a corded mouse into a wireless mouse - so don't bother trying it!
  5587. Note to self, do not leave Jack and scissors alone EVER ! I went off to
  5588. the local Wal-Mart and bought the cheapest replacement mouse I could
  5589. find and he has promised never to do it again (of course he actually
  5590. swears it was an accident and not on purpose this last time!).<br>
  5591. </p>
  5592. <p>On Friday evening the kids were invited to an indoor skating party
  5593. so I broke the roller blades out of retirement and decided to have a go
  5594. too. When I lived in Florida I was a mad keen in-line skater but since
  5595. moving to Texas (which is not flat like Florida) I have not skated so
  5596. much. That said it all came back to me pretty quickly and while I
  5597. didn't push myself very hard it was fun to skate with the kids and also
  5598. to find another way to start getting a bit more exercise. Meanwhile,
  5599. the weather here this weekend was a real mixed bag. A front came
  5600. through on Saturday and it rained and stormed all day. Meanwhile, on
  5601. Sunday it was a gorgeous blue-sky day with temperatures right around 70
  5602. degrees Fahrenheit. This is not unusual for this part of Texas as we
  5603. get close to Spring. Luckily, both Robyn and I got to play our soccer
  5604. games as hers was indoors on Saturday and mine was outdoors on Sunday.
  5605. I played in goal this weekend (my usual position). My family came to
  5606. watch which was great and the kids had fun playing outside and burring
  5607. off some steam. I could tell I was a little timid in goal, my wife told
  5608. me she could see a difference too (those who know me might find that
  5609. hard to believe as after all you do have to be a little crazy to play
  5610. in goal as they say). Hopefully as I get a few more matches under my
  5611. belt both my confidence and my energy level will return. Despite my
  5612. feeling a little sub-par my team won handily as we have an extremely
  5613. good set of on-field players in front of me this season - thanks guys
  5614. for carrying me! <br>
  5615. </p>
  5616. <p>On Saturday morning I went over to some other English friends for a
  5617. wonderful, full English, cooked breakfast to watch the Man Utd. vs
  5618. Arsenal FA cup match live on the BBC. I am ashamed of the way my
  5619. Arsenal approached the match and the 4-0 thrashing they endured was no
  5620. more than they deserved for the "we don't care" way they seemed to
  5621. approach the game. It seems that with all of the money tied up these
  5622. days in the Champions League and the Premiership that a lot of clubs
  5623. are not taking the FA Cup seriously. This really breaks my heart, as
  5624. when I was a boy growing up, the FA Cup was the competition everyone
  5625. wanted to win and I used to love getting up early every year to watch
  5626. all of the festivities leading up to the FA Cup final, played each year
  5627. at Wembley Stadium in May. As far as I can tell the FA Cup has lost its
  5628. magic and a whole generation has grown up since I left the UK not able
  5629. to enjoy the passion and excitement that we all&nbsp; felt watching the
  5630. matches - if this is progress you can keep it!<br>
  5631. </p>
  5632. <p>On Sunday evening we went to one of my Sister's-in-law for dinner
  5633. and they surprised me by throwing a little "half way through chemo"
  5634. party - which included my own personal and extremely delicious carot
  5635. cake. This was really nice of them and it did help lift my spirits
  5636. which have been down a little lately purely because the fatigue seems
  5637. to be getting more prolonged each week. To be fair, the oncologist had
  5638. warned me that this was likely.</p>
  5639. <p>This week is going to be busy both at work and in the evenings after
  5640. work. Both my son and daughter have their first practices of the new
  5641. outdoor soccer season and as coach of Jack's team and co-coach of
  5642. Robyn's I am going to be busy. The good news is that this weekend sees
  5643. the end of the Girl Scout cookie selling season so I will be seeing a
  5644. lot more of my wife and daughter!</p>
  5645. <p>Today is President's Day here in the U.S.A and while I am not off
  5646. work a lot of people are. My e-mail in-box has been noticeably quiter
  5647. than average today and I am ok with that.<br>
  5648. </p>
  5649. <p>So that's about all the news for now, wherever you are reading this
  5650. I hope you have a safe and pleasant week.
  5651. ]]>
  5652. </description>
  5653. <pubDate>Mon, 18 Feb 2008 17:18:15 CST</pubDate>
  5654. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5655. </item>
  5657. <item>
  5658. <title>End of round six</title>
  5659. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5660. <link></link>
  5661. <description>
  5662. <![CDATA[
  5663. <p>I just got back from the oncologist again which marks the end of
  5664. round six. So I am halfway there! May 5th still seems like a long way
  5665. off but at least it's downhill to the finish line from here on. The
  5666. fatigue has already started to hit me but other than that this round
  5667. seems to be progressing much like all those that have gone before. I
  5668. don't have much other news today so I'll keep this posting brief.
  5669. Thanks as always for all the messages of support in the
  5670. <a href="">Guest Book</a> and
  5671. elsewhere that I keep receiving and very much appreciate.<br>
  5672. ]]>
  5673. </description>
  5674. <pubDate>Wed, 13 Feb 2008 14:26:34 CST</pubDate>
  5675. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5676. </item>
  5678. <item>
  5679. <title>Chemo round six</title>
  5680. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5681. <link></link>
  5682. <description>
  5683. <![CDATA[
  5684. The weather in Texas this weekend was truly beautiful. While much of
  5685. the country is still fully in the grips of some severe Winter weather,
  5686. we were able to enjoy clear blue skies, cool breezes and temperatures
  5687. in the mid 70's Fahrenheit. On Sunday I played soccer again. This time
  5688. for my outdoor 7-a-side team. It was a great day to be outdoors and I
  5689. came through the game fine (albeit still lacking in stamina). I feel a
  5690. lot better for having had some exercise and also having spent some time
  5691. "with the guys" again. The kids soccer teams (both of which I help
  5692. coach) will also both be starting up again for the Spring season in
  5693. another week from now.&nbsp; So I am going to be busy weather
  5694. permitting. It gets really hot here in the Summer but I don't mind that
  5695. and I love how moderate the Winter weather generally is which allows us
  5696. to start doing a lot of outdoor activities quite early in the year. We
  5697. have not even had the usual ice storm or two this Winter, which,
  5698. admitedly is unusual. The forecast shows that we will have a lot of
  5699. days of 70 degrees or higher over the next ten days. So it would seem
  5700. that Winter may be winding down already for
  5701. those of us that live in this part of the World.</p>
  5702. <p>Today, I am back at the oncologist to begin chemotherapy round six
  5703. of my twelve planned rounds. So by the end of this week we will be half
  5704. way there - yippee !!&nbsp; <br>
  5705. </p>
  5706. <p>I'll keep this posting short as the meds they just gave me are
  5707. making me sleepy!
  5708. ]]>
  5709. </description>
  5710. <pubDate>Mon, 11 Feb 2008 10:39:38 CST</pubDate>
  5711. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5712. </item>
  5716. <item>
  5717. <title>FOLFOX (Chemotherapy) side effects</title>
  5718. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5719. <link></link>
  5720. <description>
  5721. <![CDATA[
  5722. One of the reasons I decided to be very open about my colon
  5723. cancer diagnosis and treatment plan here on this site (starting with
  5724. the <a href="">October 10th</a> posting) was of course
  5725. to keep my many friends and relatives around the World updated as to my
  5726. progress and in return I have been extremely grateful with all of the
  5727. support and encouragement I have received. However, I had a secondary
  5728. goal ,which was to share with others who may be faced with a similar
  5729. diagnosis some of my own personal experiences and perhaps in some small
  5730. way to help them also by allowing them to compare their notes with
  5731. mine. I was looking at the statistics that my web hosting company keeps
  5732. for me this weekend and noticed that a lot of the traffic coming to
  5733. this site is as a result of people doing cancer treatment related
  5734. Google searches. In particular I seem to have a lot of people looking
  5735. for others sharing insight into the side effects of the FOLFOX
  5736. chemotherapy. With the caveat up front that all chemotherapy treatments
  5737. are tailored to the individual patient and that the medicines used vary
  5738. depending upon the type of cancer being treated I decided I would make
  5739. a dedicated posting here discussing the side effects that I am
  5740. experiencing now that I have been on the FOLFOX regimen for 5 cycles
  5741. (of a planned, 12 cycle, one week on, one week off, program). I
  5742. described the specific medicines that I am receiving in the <a
  5743. href="">January 2nd</a> entry so I will not repeat that
  5744. here.<br>
  5745. </p>
  5746. <p>Every time I visit the oncologist, which for me is at least once a
  5747. week, they run down a list of possible side effects and ask me if I am
  5748. getting any of them. I decided I would try and replicate that list here
  5749. and share my current view of which ones I am seeing and which I am not
  5750. (there's not a lot to be squeamish about here but if medical stuff is
  5751. not your cup of tea, skip to the <a href="">last paragraph</a>
  5752. of this entry now).<br>
  5753. </p>
  5754. <p><span style="font-weight: bold;">UPDATE:</span> I updated this entry on January 5<sup>th</sup> 2008 as I realized I had left fatigue, probably my biggest symptom, out of the original list below:<br>
  5755. <table
  5756. style="text-align: left; width: 75%; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;"
  5757. border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
  5758.  <tbody>
  5759.    <tr>
  5760.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Fatigue</span><br>
  5761.      </td>
  5762.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">About two or three days after
  5763. each chemo cycle I get hit with fairly severe fatigue that usually
  5764. lasts about two or three days. So, as I typically do my chemo on
  5765. Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday I usually find myself getting very tired by
  5766. mid afternoon of each of the following few days. Usually by the Sunday
  5767. I am back to normal again. The only way I know to deal with it is take
  5768. a sleeping tablet or a Xanax as needed and go to bed and sleep it off.
  5769. I rarely make it past 7pm before "crashing" on these days.<br>
  5770.      </td>
  5771.    </tr>
  5772.      <tr>
  5773.      <td
  5774. style="vertical-align: top; text-align: left; font-weight: bold; width: 30%;">Hair
  5775. loss</td>
  5776.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">With this chemo there is not
  5777. supposed to be much hair loss if any. I am maybe seeing minimal
  5778. thinning of my head hair but basically I am not
  5779. experiencing any hair loss so far and in fact I need a haircut right
  5780. now.<br>
  5781.      </td>
  5782.    </tr>
  5783.    <tr>
  5784.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Nausea</span><br>
  5785.      </td>
  5786.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">I have had minimal nausea. The
  5787. worst was the first week. I have not even come close to vomiting.I have
  5788. two different prescriptions for nausea but I don't find myself needing
  5789. to use them too often and then only the weaker of the two.<br>
  5790.      </td>
  5791.    </tr>
  5792.    <tr>
  5793.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Diarrehea</span><br>
  5794.      </td>
  5795.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">This one I am experiencing.
  5796. Sometimes it can get pretty rough but there are medicines like Limotil
  5797. that can be prescribed (as was done for me) that really help. I also
  5798. find eating lots of yogurt really helps too.<br>
  5799.      </td>
  5800.    </tr>
  5801.    <tr>
  5802.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Eyesight</span><br>
  5803.      </td>
  5804.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Apparently the meds can cause a
  5805. hardening of the cornea which can effect eyesight. Even with my new
  5806. glasses, in less than very bright light, I am noticing some problems
  5807. reading books for more than a few pages at a time.<br>
  5808.      </td>
  5809.    </tr>
  5810.    <tr>
  5811.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Bruising</span><br>
  5812.      </td>
  5813.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">I have not experienced any
  5814. bruising but I do notice that on a few days right after chemo
  5815. treatments that some parts of my body, often large muscles, are a bit
  5816. more tender than normal if I bump into things.<br>
  5817.      </td>
  5818.    </tr>
  5819.    <tr>
  5820.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Heartburn</span><br>
  5821.      </td>
  5822.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">Heartburn has been fairly
  5823. common. Generally I find a few "Tums" or equivalent antacid tablets
  5824. take care of it.<br>
  5825.      </td>
  5826.    </tr>
  5827.    <tr>
  5828.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Sensitivity
  5829. to cold</span><br>
  5830.      </td>
  5831.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">This one was the biggest
  5832. surprise. One of the three medicines, the&nbsp; <a
  5833. href="">Oxaliplatin,</a>&nbsp;
  5834. effects the nervous system and has had a lot of odd side effects. The
  5835. good news is that this drug is credited with a lot of the recent
  5836. successes in treating colon cancer and also it's worse effects wear off
  5837. a few days after each chemo cycle. Fundamentally it makes me incredibly
  5838. sensitive to cold. Both food and drink and also to things that I
  5839. touch&nbsp; I learned early on to only drink warm (or at least room
  5840. temperature) drinks for the first few days of each cycle. Drinking cold
  5841. liquid leaves me feeling as if my throat were swollen - trust me on
  5842. this one, it's a very odd feeling. I also find it hard to hold on to
  5843. anything cold (say a pot of ice cream from the freezer) and I never put
  5844. my hands into cold water.The oxaliplatin also causes my jaw muscles to
  5845. hurt (quite severely) from time to time a lot like I imagine TMJ pain
  5846. would be.<br>
  5847.      </td>
  5848.    </tr>
  5849.    <tr>
  5850.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Mouth
  5851. sores</span><br>
  5852.      </td>
  5853.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">They always ask me about this
  5854. one but so far I have only had one and I am not convinced the chemo
  5855. caused it (I think I may have burned my mouth on hot food). Either way
  5856. their are good meds to nip this one in the bud if you experience them.<br>
  5857.      </td>
  5858.    </tr>
  5859.    <tr>
  5860.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Rashes
  5861. and/or breaking out</span><br>
  5862.      </td>
  5863.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">From time to time I have
  5864. experienced something like being a teenager again in terms of my skin
  5865. but generally it has not been that bad and it seems to always clear
  5866. itself up pretty fast.<br>
  5867.      </td>
  5868.    </tr>
  5869.    <tr>
  5870.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Bleeding</span><br>
  5871.      </td>
  5872.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">I have had no abnormal bleeding
  5873. thus far.<br>
  5874.      </td>
  5875.    </tr>
  5876.    <tr>
  5877.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Shaking</span><br>
  5878.      </td>
  5879.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">From time to time I have
  5880. experienced some shaking in my hands but as I type this I am actually
  5881. back to normal again - it seems to come and go.<br>
  5882.      </td>
  5883.    </tr>
  5884.    <tr>
  5885.      <td style="vertical-align: top;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">Pain</span><br>
  5886.      </td>
  5887.      <td style="vertical-align: top;">I have not experienced any
  5888. unusual pain that could be attributed to the chemo.<br>
  5889.      </td>
  5890.    </tr>
  5891.  </tbody>
  5892. </table>
  5893. <p><br>
  5894. <a name="skip-table"></a>So there you have it. That's my summary of
  5895. what five cycles of FOLFOX has done to me. I hope those of you that got
  5896. here by way of a Google search found this useful. If things change over
  5897. the next seven rounds I will post an updated version of this table. <br>
  5898. </p>
  5899. <p>As always thanks to everyone for their support and especially for
  5900. all of the birthday wishes I received over the past few days. I had a
  5901. very nice birthday on Friday. The Wife and kids took me out with some
  5902. good friends to the local Tokyo Steak house and a good time was had by
  5903. all. On Saturday I was pretty tired but my energy came back in time to
  5904. enjoy the Superbowl on Sunday.<br>
  5905. </p>
  5906. <p>Finally, if you are reading this as a fellow patient I wish you all
  5907. the best towards a cure. <br>
  5908. ]]>
  5909. </description>
  5910. <pubDate>Tue, 5 Feb 2008 14:02:07 CST</pubDate>
  5911. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5912. </item>
  5915. <item>
  5916. <title>End of round five</title>
  5917. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5918. <link></link>
  5919. <description>
  5920. <![CDATA[
  5921. Five down, seven to go. Thankfully so far this round the side
  5922. effects have been a lot less. Maybe I am adjusting finally or maybe I
  5923. am just lucky this go around. Either way I am not complaining. Tomorrow
  5924. is my birthday as I mentioned in my prior post. Maybe I'll get to
  5925. celebrate on the actual day after all!&nbsp; I'm looking forward to the
  5926. weekend, especially the Superbowl of course and my usual fix of soccer
  5927. from the UK. I managed to catch the Arsenal vs Newcastle match on TV
  5928. here earlier this week, now if only Man Utd. would lose a couple of
  5929. matches life would be almost perfect on the soccer front!&nbsp; It's
  5930. Girl Scout Cookie season here in Texas for the next few weeks which
  5931. means Robyn and Lorna have been off sitting outside various stores and
  5932. other venues trying to sell cookies to the passers buy to raise funds
  5933. for their troop. The weather here has been a real mixed bag lately with
  5934. temperatures all over the map (70's F one day 30's the next) so I
  5935. really feel for them sitting out there trying to sell the cookies. At
  5936. least I think when people see a bunch of cute girl scouts out in the
  5937. freezing cold they make a few sympathy purchases. Meanwhile I think
  5938. Jack and I have the better end of the deal. We sit at home and play
  5939. video games or watch TV while the ladies are off freezing!<br>
  5940. </p>
  5941. <p>I don't have a lot of other news to share today other than I am
  5942. trying to work a full day today which is keeping me busy so I'll keep
  5943. this update brief.
  5944. ]]>
  5945. </description>
  5946. <pubDate>Thu, 31 Jan 2008 09:28:49 CST</pubDate>
  5947. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5948. </item>
  5951. <item>
  5952. <title>Chemo round five</title>
  5953. <category domain="">medical</category>
  5954. <link></link>
  5955. <description>
  5956. <![CDATA[
  5957. I would be lying if I said I was not dreading the coming week to
  5958. some degree. I have really enjoyed how "normal" and productive I have
  5959. been the last several days (the effects of round four having worn off).
  5960. I have likewise started to hate the way I feel during the chemo weeks.
  5961. However, as my daughter reminded me this evening, it's for a good
  5962. reason. Talking of my daughter, today I really enjoyed coaching her
  5963. indoor soccer team. All six girls played their socks off and we&nbsp;
  5964. came out on top 8 - 5 in a very exciting match. <br>
  5965. </p>
  5966. <p>Tomorrow (Monday) chemo round five begins. If the last round is
  5967. anything to go by, it will probably Saturday or Sunday before the
  5968. effects ware off. The really sad part is that this coming Friday is my
  5969. birthday and I don't think I'll be up to much celebrating. I promised
  5970. the kids we'd go out for a fun dinner but just a few days late. They
  5971. seem OK with that. At least I should be able to enjoy the Superbowl on
  5972. Sunday.<br>
  5973. </p>
  5974. <p>Anyway, life goes on and I'll just have to tough it out again this
  5975. go around as I have done in the prior four. The good news is that we
  5976. are getting close to halfway through the planned twelve rounds.&nbsp;
  5977. As I have said many times before, I really appreciate that so many of
  5978. you are keeping in touch by IM, e-mail, phone or the <a
  5979. href="">Guest Book</a> to offer support. It really does
  5980. help and I really appreciate it.<br>
  5981. </p>
  5982. <p>I'll post again soon.
  5983. ]]>
  5984. </description>
  5985. <pubDate>Sun, 27 Jan 2008 22:05:14 CST</pubDate>
  5986. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  5987. </item>
  5989. <item>
  5990. <title>A productive "off week"</title>
  5991. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  5992. <link></link>
  5993. <description>
  5994. <![CDATA[
  5995. This week is an "off" week for me, meaning no chemo treatments, my
  5997. head is clear, my energy level is high and as a result I always try and
  5999. get a lot done. I have caught up well on the work front this week, in
  6001. fact I have my business in-box down to just seven e-mails still
  6003. requiring my attention. I have also been trying to work through my
  6005. to-do list at home (which has been growing longer and longer lately as
  6007. I only have so many days a month when I actually feel like trying to
  6009. shorten it). One of the focus items this week has been dead light
  6011. bulbs. I cannot believe how many light bulbs seem to need replacing (I
  6013. think it's a conspiracy but I haven't figured out how they are doing it
  6015. yet, but when one goes, boy the others seem to love to go too!). I have
  6017. also been spending some time doing some much needed software upgrades
  6019. to the (way too many) computers we have scattered about the house.
  6021. Sadly, the new Vista PC we bought the kids for Christmas continues to
  6023. cause me grief. It has crashed more times than I can remember since we
  6025. first set it up on Christmas Day and even basic tasks like copying
  6027. files over my network have caused it to hang up so hard that I need to
  6029. hit the power switch to recover. This week I decided to install my
  6031. version of Quicken 2005 on it (big mistake). After two hours and many
  6033. Google searches I finally found the magic spells needed to get it
  6035. working but boy oh boy what an ugly experience that was. I think it's
  6037. finally time to just take that machine back to XP for a while - at
  6039. least that way the kids can play their games, which is, after all, why
  6041. I bought the thing in the first place. Worse yet, my new toy (the Mac
  6043. Book Pro) had its first fatal crash this week. Nasty one too. For the
  6045. technologically curious it took a Kernel exception, crashed hard and
  6047. after rebooting phoned home to tell Apple all about its problems. I'm
  6049. not sure what caused the crash either. I had left the machine unplugged
  6051. from the power and in sleep mode on the coffee table (but I know the
  6053. battery was almost full). Before opening the lid I plugged it in to the
  6055. power and the minute I did that it woke up all by itself, spun up it's
  6057. disk, displayed the password prompt and before I could do anything
  6059. crashed. Odd indeed. I'm actually wondering if I had a power spike.
  6061. From now on I will plug the power cord into the wall with the other end
  6063. of the cable disconnected from the Mac and then connect the power cable
  6065. to the Mac just to be safe. Up to this point, I was starting to think I
  6067. finally had a machine that never crashed. Oh well, I have used it a lot
  6069. and have not rebooted it much so maybe I was asking for it but I guess
  6071. we'll see if this was a fluke or an indication of some other problem
  6073. over time. Overall I am still more than happy with the Mac.<br>
  6075. </p>
  6077. <p>My other big news this week is that, for the first time since
  6079. September last year, on Tuesday night, I played soccer. Now I don't
  6081. want people to get excited thinking I am pushing myself too hard and I
  6083. certainly took it very easy first time out. I asked my doctor if it
  6085. would be OK to try and in fact he supported the idea saying some
  6087. increased activity would be good for me and he re-assured me that my
  6089. chemo port was unbreakable (now that sounds like a challenge if ever I
  6091. heard one!). So this week I decided to have a go at playing for one of
  6093. the three teams I belong to. This particular one is a co-ed team that
  6095. plays in a very friendly (read not overly competitive but fun) 6-a-side
  6097. indoor league. The matches are 40 minutes long divided into two 20
  6099. minute halves. It's a fast moving format but players can sub in and out
  6101. at any time. Over the course of the whole match I doubt if I played for
  6103. more than a total of 15 minutes but it was great to "have a go". My
  6105. stamina was very low but at least this time it's as much due to lack of
  6107. fitness than it is oxygen in the blood. My oncologist did warn me that
  6109. I will still be lacking for energy for quite some time and he was right
  6111. but I really enjoyed seeing my teammates again and doing something a
  6113. little more energetic than walking. To be honest, if you had told me
  6115. back in October that I would be able to play ever again, yet alone in
  6117. mid-January, I am not sure I would have believed you. So, while I did
  6119. not contribute very much to the team and I am certainly not going to
  6121. push myself too hard, I at least feel like a very important part of my
  6123. life (playing sport) is coming back to me and for that I am extremely
  6125. grateful. Now if only my energy level would come back enough to give me
  6127. the confidence to go and tidy up the disaster area that is our garage.
  6129. Oh well, baby steps!!
  6130. ]]>
  6131. </description>
  6132. <pubDate>Thu, 24 Jan 2008 09:42:26 CST</pubDate>
  6133. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6134. </item>
  6137. <item>
  6138. <title>End of round four</title>
  6139. <category domain="">medical</category>
  6140. <link></link>
  6141. <description>
  6142. <![CDATA[
  6143. It seems each round has taken a little more out of me than the prior
  6144. one. Today (Sunday) my head finally feels clear and the fatigue that
  6145. seems to start almost immediately the chemo cycle starts has finally
  6146. left me again - what a relief. I should now get a few days where I feel
  6147. as close to normal as normal gets at present. On Friday I went into the
  6148. office for the first time since before my surgery back in October.
  6149. Several of my colleagues were in town for a meeting and I was really
  6150. keen to see everyone. I have to say that making it through the day was
  6151. a struggle for me but it was great to see everyone. Yesterday
  6152. (Saturday) I managed to struggle through watching my daughter's indoor
  6153. soccer game but I was very grateful that some of the other parents were
  6154. on hand to coach the team as I was just not up to it this week. By 7pm
  6155. I was worn out and collapsed into bed. This morning, thankfully I woke
  6156. up feeling a lot better. Hopefully, then, this coming week will be a
  6157. better one and I will be able to get a lot done both at work and at
  6158. home before the next round starts on January 28<sup>th</sup>.&nbsp;
  6159. Today I am having a lazy, domestic day. I got some housework done and
  6160. paid the bills this morning while watching the English Premier League
  6161. (Man City vs West Ham) on TV. This afternoon I am "vegging" on the
  6162. couch watching the NFL playoffs and trying to get some reading done.
  6163. The latter is still a big challenge for me as the chemo has very much
  6164. affected my eyesight as I have mentioned before. My oncologist assures
  6165. me this is a temporary state resulting from a hardening of the cornea
  6166. caused my the chemo meds. Lorna and Robyn are off selling Girl Scout
  6167. Cookies (yes it's that time of year again!). Jack is off being Jack
  6168. (which right now means he is locked in combat with Mario, Luigi and
  6169. other of his best Game Cube friends).&nbsp; So other than that, it's
  6170. pretty quiet around here, which is fine by me.&nbsp; I hope you are all
  6171. having an enjoyable weekend.
  6172. ]]>
  6173. </description>
  6174. <pubDate>Sun, 20 Jan 2008 15:41:36 CST</pubDate>
  6175. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6176. </item>
  6180. <item>
  6181. <title>Chemo round four</title>
  6182. <category domain="">medical</category>
  6183. <category domain="">personal</category>
  6184. <link></link>
  6185. <description>
  6186. <![CDATA[
  6187. Due to the fact that my last round only ended on January 4th
  6189. (because of&nbsp; the New Year's day holiday) I have had a few less
  6191. days to recover than normal between rounds. Suffice to say, I felt
  6193. pretty good this weekend and was really not looking forward to going in
  6195. this morning knowing that the side effects would all start coming back
  6197. by this evening (which they indeed have as I type this). My visit today
  6199. began at 11:15am and after the usual vital signs and weight checks we
  6201. spent about 30 minutes talking with the Oncologist to take stock of
  6203. where we are now that we are almost a third of the way into the
  6205. treatment program. He is basically very happy with my progress. My
  6207. haemoglobin count continues to rise and is now teasingly close to the
  6209. normal range. Lorna came with me today and she asked more questions
  6211. than I did (I tend to not like questions as they usually result in
  6213. answers - and answers can be either good or bad!). Today the answers
  6215. were all very good. We discussed a lot of statistics and probabilities
  6217. and the like but the bottom line is that right now I am doing about as
  6219. well as can be expected and no one can predict the future but the
  6221. treatment is giving me the best possible chance of having one! I also
  6223. learned a lot about microscopic cancer cells and the difference in
  6225. resolution between a CT scan and a PET scan. If you are interested in
  6227. more details of that I'll leave it as a Google exercise. My treatment
  6229. ended around 3L:15pm but they were kind enough to let me hang out there
  6231. for another couple of hours so I could finish my e-mail and wait for
  6233. Lorna (who left mid afternoon) to return and pick me up. I don't like
  6235. driving on chemo day one in particular as some of the meds they pump
  6237. into me make me quite dopey (yes, more so than usual!).&nbsp; So
  6239. anyway, here I am again, 9:23pm, just me and my portable chemo pump
  6241. blogging away together as we get into round four.<br>
  6243. </p>
  6245. <p>The oncologist was packed today. In fact, when I arrived, I got the
  6247. last remaining empty chair, which as luck would have it was at the far
  6249. end of the room in a quiet corner. This was handy as for the first time
  6251. I had planned to do some work phone calls from there today (with a
  6253. headset and a quiet voice of course - I cannot stand overhearing people
  6255. yelling to their colleagues on cell phones in planes and such places so
  6257. when I absolutely have to take a call in public I always try and be as
  6259. unobtrusive as possible). So basically I worked a full day today, in
  6261. fact I have reached the point where I can pretty much ignore everything
  6263. going on around me and to me and just work (or sometimes play) during
  6265. the visits and I find that helps the time pass a lot faster.&nbsp; <br>
  6267. </p>
  6269. <p>So tomorrow I go back for day two of this round. I need to get there
  6271. before the pump runs out which should be around 1:15pm (it needs to run
  6273. for 22 hours before they can start their next drug set). The day two
  6275. visits hopefully end up being about three hours. Hopefully tomorrow
  6277. will keep to that pattern.<br>
  6279. </p>
  6281. <p>As a side note I have heard from three people who went to have
  6283. colonoscopies done having read my blog here and in each case the doctor
  6285. found treatable pre-cncerous polyps. So if nothing else, by being
  6287. fairly open about what happened to me I have in some small way helped
  6289. influence the lives of a few others in a positive way. For that I am
  6291. very grateful. Once again we see the power of the Web when used
  6293. sensibly.<br>
  6295. </p>
  6297. <p>Depending on the side effects, I'll try and post again tomorrow, but
  6299. if it's like last round, I may be off the air for a day or too. Right
  6301. now I am going to go and watch the second episode of the new Terminator
  6303. series on TV ("<a href="">The Sarah Conner Chronicles</a>")
  6305. which the DVR hopefully recorded earlier. Episode one was yesterday and
  6307. I really enjoyed it. A much better sequel than the recent attempt at
  6309. resurrecting the Bionic Woman in my humble opinion.<br>
  6311. </p>
  6313. <p>So that's the update for now. As always thanks for all the support in the <a href="">Guest Book</a>
  6315. and elsewhere. Despite the fact that things (touch wood) seem to be
  6317. going well for now I still really appreciate all of the support at what
  6319. remains a very nervous time for us.
  6321. ]]>
  6322. </description>
  6323. <pubDate>Mon, 14 Jan 2008 21:51:47 CST</pubDate>
  6324. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6325. </item>
  6329. <item>
  6330. <title>Friday update</title>
  6331. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  6332. <link></link>
  6333. <description>
  6334. <![CDATA[
  6335. This has been a busy week work wise but with the kids back at school
  6337. (and the house quiet) I have managed to get a lot done. These days I
  6339. work predominantly from home (and a lot of that time it seems I spend
  6341. on the phone) but next week I am actually planning to go in to the
  6343. "real" office for a couple of days towards the end of the week. This
  6345. will be the first time back in the office since before my surgery so it
  6347. will be great to see a lot of my friends and colleagues "in the flesh"
  6349. again. Before that I have to get through chemo round four which starts
  6351. on Monday at 11:15am. As of course is always the case (or so it seems)
  6353. I am finally feeling "normal" again just in time to get my next
  6355. "cocktail" dose on Monday! <br>
  6357. </p>
  6359. <p>While talking of work, I have also started posting to the <a href="">work blog</a>
  6361. again finally after many months of almost total silence. I tend to
  6363. post&nbsp; items on the work blog that are more technical in nature and
  6365. discuss things I am doing on the work front. Consequently those entries
  6367. are not of as much interest to everyone that comes here to this site.
  6369. If you do check out the work blog you will notice I have been
  6371. experimenting with <a href="">Facebook</a>
  6373. quite a bit. Thank you everyone that sent me friendship invites
  6375. recently during my post-surgery recovery period. I think I have now
  6377. accepted them all and have started sending out additional requests of
  6379. my own. <br>
  6381. </p>
  6383. <p>I'm continuing to really enjoy the Mac Book Pro. I'm planning on taking
  6385. it with me to the chemo office for the first time on Monday as I now
  6387. have enough applications, music and other goodies loaded on to it that
  6389. it should prove to be an able companion for the planned five hours
  6391. I will be "in the chair". I also ordered (and just received) an Apple
  6393. Bluetooth keyboard so that I can plug the Mac into the 42inch wide screen HDTV that
  6395. we have the Wii plugged into and use it from the couch. This should be
  6397. very cool (as long as the kids ever let me have the TV that is).</p>
  6399. <p>If you follow my <a href="">Books and Magazines</a> section you will know that I finally finished reading Harry Turtledove's <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Colonization: Second Contact</span>
  6401. this week. This was a another good book in the multi-book series that I
  6403. am working my way through. It has taken me several months to finish it.
  6405. My reading speed has slowed down a lot in recent months with everything
  6407. I have going on but it has been made significantly worse by the fact
  6409. that the chemo seems to have negatively affected my eyesight to the
  6411. point where my eyes get very tired after reading just a few pages.
  6413. Thankfully, I just called the eye doctor and after almost a month of
  6415. waiting (the frames I picked were back ordered it turns out) my new
  6417. glasses are ready. I am really hoping they help as I am struggling even
  6419. working here at the computer all day yet alone reading books in the
  6421. evening.<br>
  6423. </p>
  6425. <p>By the way, for those of you that like to keep up with the kids, I
  6427. just posted three photos taken on Christmas Day to the Family Photo
  6429. Journal over in the Family &amp; Friends section.<br>
  6431. </p>
  6433. <p>That's about it for now then. I'm glad the work week is almost over.
  6435. I plan to try and enjoy the weekend and eat and drink all the things
  6437. that I know I won't feel like eating and drinking next week in vast
  6439. quantities over the next two days! This weekend the weather is supposed
  6441. to be superb here so I am planning to try and divide my time between
  6443. playing with the kids outside and watching the English Premier League
  6445. and the NFL playoffs inside. I'll need to get up fairly early tomorrow
  6447. (for a Saturday that is) as the Arsenal vs Birmingham match starts on
  6449. TV here at 9am I think. I hope everyone has a pleasant and restful
  6451. weekend.
  6453. ]]>
  6454. </description>
  6455. <pubDate>Fri, 11 Jan 2008 14:12:58 CST</pubDate>
  6456. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6457. </item>
  6460. <item>
  6461. <title>Back to school and back to normal</title>
  6462. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  6463. <link></link>
  6464. <description>
  6465. <![CDATA[
  6466. The kids went back to school today. I think we were all ready. I
  6468. know I was. Yesterday (Monday) was a bonus day off due to teacher
  6470. training. We had the hardest time getting them to go to sleep last
  6472. night and as a result we had two little "growly bear cubs" to wake up
  6474. this morning. After we got them bundled off and on their way Lorna and
  6476. I went to visit the oncologist so they could give me a nice big dose of
  6478. iron and an few other things and I must confess that I am feeling much
  6480. more my old self again this afternoon. The "fog of war" one gets into
  6482. from all the chemo meds has finally worn off again for another round.
  6484. After school Lorna took Jack to the park to let off some steam but he
  6486. was still being growly. At one point he apparently got so mad that he
  6488. told her "fine I'm just going to drop my pants then" , and he did. Hmm,
  6490. I don't think that would work as well in the business environment - but
  6492. you never know! Could be an ice breaker in an already ugly meeting!
  6494. Yesterday Lorna and Robyn went up to Dallas for the day so that Robyn
  6496. could visit the huge (two storey)&nbsp; <a href="">American Girl</a>
  6498. shop they have there. As a typical male this is all alien to me but
  6500. apparently this type of quest is quite the thing to do these days.
  6502. Suffice to say we have a new addition to the family as of last night.
  6504. Complete with matching outfits of course and accessories. Oh well that
  6506. takes care of the Santa money for another year!&nbsp; Robyn is already
  6508. working on me to fly her to LA so she can visit the (even bigger)
  6510. Beverley Hills store!&nbsp; Oh and in case you were wondering about the
  6512. Central Texas weather, it's like Spring here this week. A few showers,
  6514. lots of sunshine and temperatures in the 70's Fahrenheit - gorgeous.Apart from the time I needed to take to go get "infused" this morning I
  6516. managed to work a full day today and in general (for a day or two at
  6518. least), things are back to normal. </p>
  6521. ]]>
  6522. </description>
  6523. <pubDate>Tue, 8 Jan 2008 17:10:23 CST</pubDate>
  6524. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6525. </item>
  6528. <item>
  6529. <title>End of round three - well almost</title>
  6530. <category domain="">medical</category>
  6531. <link></link>
  6532. <description>
  6533. <![CDATA[
  6534. I finished the treatments for this round last Friday but even today
  6536. (Monday) the side effects are still hanging around a bit more severely
  6538. than it seems they did for either of the prior two rounds. Consequently
  6540. I haven't felt like posting here for a few days and I had a very low
  6542. key weekend. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be more back to normal again.
  6544. Unfortunately due to the schedule being a little out of routine, due to
  6546. the New Year break, I have to start round four in just a few days time
  6548. (on the 14th). I'll hopefully be back in a day or two with a longer
  6550. update. I hope that all of you are off to a more pleasant start to the
  6552. year.
  6555. ]]>
  6556. </description>
  6557. <pubDate>Mon, 7 Jan 2008 14:57:31 CST</pubDate>
  6558. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6559. </item>
  6562. <item>
  6563. <title>Chemo round 3</title>
  6564. <category domain="">medical</category>
  6565. <link></link>
  6566. <description>
  6567. <![CDATA[
  6568. <p>Having enjoyed a nice eleven day break since my last chemo round
  6569. finished, I had to get up bright and early today to get to the
  6570. oncologist's office by 8:30am to begin round three. I was there a total
  6571. of almost five hours this time and the office was very busy as usual.
  6572. The first day of each round is always the longest as they run blood
  6573. tests on me and have to wait for the results before they can commence
  6574. giving me the actual chemo meds. The good news there is that my
  6575. haemoglobin level is significantly up from where it was pre-surgery and
  6576. is continuing to rise. As a result I am much less anemic now than I was
  6577. two months ago which really helps my energy level among other
  6578. things.&nbsp; The oncologist has been giving me massive amounts of
  6579. intravenous iron which is definitely helping bring the number up. As
  6580. well as the iron, they also give me a fairly broad range of additional
  6581. medicines on day one, which naturally makes the visit take longer.
  6582. These are mainly to help prevent major side effects from or reactions
  6583. to&nbsp; the chemo meds and the iron. Hopefully tomorrow I will only
  6584. have to be there for about three hours. One of the meds they gave me
  6585. today is an intravenous anti nausea drug, that I had not had before,
  6586. and has the instant effect that about three glasses of red wine would
  6587. have. As a result, it's actually quite easy to relax during the day one
  6588. visits!! &nbsp; All the medicines go into a "main line" vein via my <a
  6589. href="">power port</a>
  6590. which means they go straight to the heart (do not pass go, do not
  6591. collect $200) and shortly thereafter reach all other parts of the body
  6592. including the brain!.&nbsp; There is a good photo <a
  6593. href="">here</a>
  6594. of how these ports work although the device type shown is not the same
  6595. as the one I have everything else is the same in terms of placement etc.<br>
  6596. </p>
  6597. <p>Thankfully the wireless network was performing well (as usual) today
  6598. and I was able to get a lot of e-mail and other work done while they
  6599. worked on me (despite being mildly drunk!) and to be honest the time
  6600. went by quite quickly.&nbsp; If my wife or my boss are reading this,
  6601. don't worry I didn't sign any important papers or other documents while
  6602. "under the influence" !! Unfortunately, as I have mentioned before, the
  6603. treatment does not stop when I leave the office. In fact the infusion
  6604. process runs almost non stop for 48 hours. I am sitting here at home on
  6605. the couch (yes watching more English football) as I type this with my
  6606. "take home" battery powered pump buzzing away next to me giving me
  6607. regular doses of the <a
  6608. href="">Fluorouracil</a>
  6609. (commonly known as 5FU) medicine. It even comes with its own (not very
  6610. stylish) shoulder bag. I think there is money to be made for someone
  6611. here who designs a trendy bag that turns this thing into a bit more of
  6612. a fashion accessory!<br>
  6613. </p>
  6614. <p>The other of the two specifc chemo drugs that I get on a "day one"
  6615. visit is called <a
  6616. href="">Oxaliplatin
  6617. (OX)</a>&nbsp; It is the one that I find has the weirdest side effects.
  6618. It messes up the nervous system to the extent that I become very
  6619. sensitive to the touch for anything cold. So much so, in fact,&nbsp;
  6620. that if I put my hand in cold water (as I did without thinking, to fish
  6621. some leaves out of our pool during round two) it feels like I have had
  6622. a significant&nbsp; electric shock followed by prolonged tingling in
  6623. the fingers. I also find it close to impossible to swallow any cold
  6624. drinks for several days after getting a dose of "<a
  6625. href="">OX</a>".
  6626. It's a good thing that English beer can be drunk and enjoyed at close
  6627. to room temperature :-)<br>
  6628. </p>
  6629. <p>I received several e-mails today, from m any parts of the
  6630. World,&nbsp; wishing me all the best for round three. I really
  6631. appreciate the fact that so many of you are keeping up with my schedule
  6632. and are continuing to send me messages of support and encouragement.
  6633. Lorna and I also really look forward to checking the <a
  6634. href="">Guest Book</a> every evening for new messages
  6635. and we often also go back and re-read the prior entries. <br>
  6636. </p>
  6637. <p>Tomorrow I don't have quite such an early start. The portable chemo
  6638. pump needs to run for 22 hours before they start "day 2" in the office.
  6639. I think that means I need to be there at around 11am or so.<br>
  6640. </p>
  6641. <p>So that's the update for today. I'll post again soon. On the bright
  6642. side, after this round I will be 25% of the way through the treatments.
  6644. ]]>
  6645. </description>
  6646. <pubDate>Wed, 2 Jan 2008 20:55:01 CST</pubDate>
  6647. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6648. </item>
  6651. <item>
  6652. <title>A lot to be thankful for</title>
  6653. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  6654. <link></link>
  6655. <description>
  6656. <![CDATA[
  6657. <p>About this time of the year I like to reflect upon all of the things
  6658. that I have to be thankful for. I suppose I could be forgiven for
  6659. looking at 2007 as a year to rapidly forget. On the contrary, despite
  6660. all of the medical issues that I have had to face up to, I truly do
  6661. have a lot to be thankful for and also have many fond memories to look
  6662. back on from the year. Among the highlights were being with my family
  6663. to watch the space shuttle Atlantis launch from the Cape back in June
  6664. and taking my nine year old daughter to her first rock concert. I took
  6665. her to see Rush (one of my long time favourite bands) and she loved it.
  6666. We also got to enjoy our new swimming pool for the first time and I
  6667. traveled a lot less than usual and as a result got to spend a lot more
  6668. time with the wife and kids. Lorna and I did some fun things too,
  6669. including a weekend break to Houston to watch the Astros play which was
  6670. a lot of fun. So all in all we had a lot of fun in 2007. When October
  6671. arrived and I was diagnosed with cancer, I will admit that I did for a
  6672. while fall into a brief pit of self pity. However, due to the amazing
  6673. support of my wife, other family members and all of my friends around
  6674. the World I was able to (for the most part) rebound and keep my spirits
  6675. up. I am truly thankful that my family doctor was on the ball and
  6676. caught the cancer at what we hope was a fairly early stage. I am also
  6677. extremely thankful that we found such a skilled surgeon to operate on
  6678. me and that the surgery went by without major incident. I am also
  6679. grateful to all of the nurses and other staff at the Seton Medical
  6680. Center in Austin for the care and professionalism they showed me during
  6681. my time as their "guest". I am also more thankful than simple words can
  6682. truly express, for all of the e-mails, other messages of support,
  6683. gifts, cards and deliveries of food that arrived (and continue to
  6684. arrive). In times of crisis you really do need your friends and you
  6685. have all been amazing.&nbsp; Thank you all so much. So as we head into
  6686. 2008 I have regained much of my optimism and am looking forward to
  6687. whatever the year brings. I still have some unknowns in my future, but
  6688. hey, which of us doesn't?&nbsp; I also know that I am not alone in
  6689. having had to face up to some severe personal challenges in 2007.
  6690. Several of my very good friends have lost loved ones or had to face up
  6691. to their own medical challenges. All of you remain in my thoughts and
  6692. prayers. I pray that you each find strength and happiness in 2008.<br>
  6693. </p>
  6694. <p>Wherever you are reading this, I hope that 2008 is full of good
  6695. things for you.<br>
  6696. </p>
  6697. <p>Happy New Year!<br>
  6698. ]]>
  6699. </description>
  6700. <pubDate>Mon, 31 Dec 2007 15:57:00 CST</pubDate>
  6701. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6702. </item>
  6706. <item>
  6707. <title>Enjoying a few days off</title>
  6708. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  6709. <link></link>
  6710. <description>
  6711. <![CDATA[
  6712. <p>As well as having some time off work to spend with the family over
  6713. the last week or so, which has been great, I have also enjoyed having a
  6714. block of days with no chemo treatments. I have had a lot of side
  6715. effects from the previous two treatments so I really need this time to
  6716. recover from those. My next round starts next week on January 2<sup>nd</sup>
  6717. so I am trying to make the most of the time between Christmas and the
  6718. New Year. On "Boxing Day" (December 26th) I spent a lot of time in
  6719. front of the TV watching the English Premier League<big> <small>before
  6720. I had to go see the oncologist for my "off week" checkup/iron infusion
  6721. visit. </small></big>. As many of you know I am a huge Arsenal fan and
  6722. the match between Portsmouth and Arsenal was one of the many I enjoyed
  6723. watching (despite the Arsenal performance being extremely flat). Of the
  6724. matches I watched, the game of the day had to be the 4-4 draw between
  6725. Aston Villa and Chelsea. We are fortunate here in the US these days
  6726. that the Premier League gets a lot of TV coverage so I am able to keep
  6727. up really well with the matches. In fact, as I type this I am watching
  6728. Chelsea play Newcastle live on the TV and after this match is over the
  6729. Arsenal/Everton match is on so I guess I'll be glued to the TV for a
  6730. few more&nbsp; hours yet.<br>
  6731. <span style="font-style: italic;"></span><br>
  6732. <br>
  6733. A couple of nights ago our kids had a sleep over with some of their
  6734. cousins and Lorna and I were able to go to a movie. We have not really
  6735. managed to have a "date night" since my surgery so this was a real
  6736. treat. There are currently several movies on that we would like to see
  6737. but in the end we chose <a
  6738. href="">National
  6739. Treasure: Book of Secrets</a> and we both really enjoyed it<br>
  6740. </p>
  6741. <p>I have also been trying to get back into my <a href="">reading</a>
  6742. again. I still haven't finished any of the books that I started before
  6743. my surgery back in October. This has nothing to do with the quality of
  6744. the books, however. It's more a case of I have had trouble relaxing
  6745. enough to read and lately the chemo seems to have negatively affected
  6746. my eyesight such that my eyes get tired after just a few pages.
  6747. Thankfully I just had my annual eye exam and my new glasses should be
  6748. ready next week.<br>
  6749. </p>
  6750. <p>Given I still get tired pretty easily, I have had to spend a fair
  6751. bit of time stuck on the couch resting. Consequently I have finally
  6752. managed to spend quite a bit of time playing with the new Mac Book Pro
  6753. laptop. I remain really impressed with this machine. The operating
  6754. system and all of the preloaded applications seem really well done. I'm
  6755. planning to start maintaining this web site using the Mac fairly soon.
  6756. The only complaint I have is that the iWeb program that came with the
  6757. machine (as far as I can tell) can only be used to create new web sites
  6758. and not to edit/manage existing ones - so this for me is not very
  6759. useful. While talking about computers, we bought the kids a new PC for
  6760. Christmas, primarily to stop them destroying the machine in the office
  6761. here at the house (which is the only one we had previously that could
  6762. run their favourite games). The machine we got them came preloaded with
  6763. Windows Vista. Sadly, of the three games I have tried to install so
  6764. far, not one of them has worked. They all worked fine on the other
  6765. machine, which is running Windows XP.&nbsp; So I'll either be putting
  6766. XP on the new machine this weekend, or I'll end up giving them my home
  6767. office machine and putting the new machine in there. <br>
  6768. </p>
  6769. <p>As my friends outside the US may not realise, this is a big time
  6770. here in the US for collegiate football. There are seemingly endless
  6771. "bowl" games on TV between Chritmas Eve and New Years Day. This year,
  6772. our local team, the University of Texas Longhorns were in the Holiday
  6773. Bowl, played in San Diego a couple of nights ago. They were not
  6774. expected to win but in fact did win and convincingly so (52 - 34) over
  6775. Arizona State. Lorna and I enjoyed watching the game on TV. After an
  6776. average season by their standards, it was nice to see Texas end the
  6777. season in style.<br>
  6778. </p>
  6779. <p>Later today (if he ever wakes up!) I promised Jack we would put his
  6780. new Hotwheels track together. I'm not sure which of us is looking
  6781. forward to it more. After that I have to help Robyn download some more
  6782. music into the new iPod that she got for Christmas. In fact Lorna and
  6783. Robyn both got new iPods so I think I am going to be busy loading up
  6784. iTunes with large chunks of our CD collection over the next few days.<br>
  6785. </p>
  6786. <p>That's about it for now. I hope you are all enjoying the holiday
  6787. season as much as we are.<br>
  6789. ]]>
  6790. </description>
  6791. <pubDate>Sat, 29 Dec 2007 10:56:42 CST</pubDate>
  6792. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6793. </item>
  6797. <item>
  6798. <title>Merry Christmas!</title>
  6799. <category domain="">personal</category>
  6800. <link></link>
  6801. <description>
  6802. <![CDATA[
  6803. The kids were up before the Sun at about 7:30am this morning and I
  6805. guess once again they managed to keep off the naughty list as Santa
  6807. appears to have been very good to them.&nbsp; The living room floor is
  6809. covered in new games, toys and debris! I must admit I really enjoyed
  6811. watching them have fun and go nuts ripping into packages this morning.
  6813. We just had breakfast and are now taking a few minutes to catch our
  6815. breath while the kids play with their loot before worrying about the
  6817. next round of activities!<br>
  6821. <p>To all my friends and family around the World who celebrate
  6823. Christmas I wish you a very special "Merry Christmas" and to all my
  6825. friends who celebrate other holidays I wish you likewise nothing but
  6827. good things at this festive time of the year. All of you have done so
  6829. much to support me these past few months for which I am extremely
  6831. grateful. In spite of the tough things we have endured recently I am
  6833. constantly reminded of the all the good things in the World that I need
  6835. to be so very thankful for.<br>
  6837. </p>
  6839. <p>From me and my family to you and yours, I wish you peace and joy.
  6840. ]]>
  6841. </description>
  6842. <pubDate>Tue, 25 Dec 2007 10:15:00 CST</pubDate>
  6843. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6844. </item>
  6846. <item>
  6847. <title>End of round two</title>
  6848. <category domain="">personal</category>
  6849. <category domain="">medical</category>
  6850. <link></link>
  6851. <description>
  6852. <![CDATA[
  6853. I finished my second (of the 12 planned) chemo rounds this week. So
  6855. far the side effects are much the same as last time but I have been a
  6857. bit more proactive with the medicines that help fight the side effects
  6859. and also got a few good suggestions from my oncologist which have
  6861. helped. So far, overall, I think I am coping a little better this time
  6863. than the first. The oncologist hopes this trend will continue. We are
  6865. trying to have as normal a Christmas as possible and the focus now is
  6867. on all of those last minute (non medical) items that go with the season
  6869. While I have a checkup visit next week I have no more chemo sessions
  6871. until January so this will help me enjoy the break a whole lot more. As
  6873. I said we have a lot to do here, so I will be brief today but wanted to
  6875. post something as many of you have been asking after me (as always
  6877. thanks for all the support and messages in the <a href="">Guest Book</a>).<br>
  6879. </p>
  6881. <p>I hope wherever you are reading this you have a very safe and enjoyable holiday season.<br>
  6883. ]]>
  6884. </description>
  6885. <pubDate>Fri, 21 Dec 2007 09:28:00 CST</pubDate>
  6886. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6887. </item>
  6890. <item>
  6891. <title>Jack turns 6</title>
  6892. <category domain="">family</category>
  6893. <link></link>
  6894. <description>
  6895. <![CDATA[
  6897. I'm actually sitting in the oncologist's office beginning round two of
  6898. my chemo treatments as I type this, but I wanted to make a posting
  6899. today that is not about me for a change! Today, is my son Jack's
  6900. birthday and he is turning six (where did the time go, they grow so
  6901. fast). He went off to school very excited this morning with a plate of
  6902. cookies that Lorna made for him to share with his class mates and he
  6903. seemed to be really enjoying being the centre of attention. On Saturday
  6904. we held his birthday party at a local place called <a
  6905. href="">Pump it Up</a> where the kids get
  6906. to bounce around on all manner of large inflatable toys. We had about
  6907. 20 kids show up and a good time was had by all. Here's a photo I took
  6908. of Jack with his sister (Robyn) enjoying himself at the party.<br>
  6909. <br>
  6910. <div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Jack and Robyn having fun"
  6911. title="Jack and Robyn having fun, December 15th 2007"
  6912. src=""><br>
  6913. </div>
  6914. <div style="text-align: center;">Jack and Robyn, December 15th 2007<br>
  6915. </div>
  6916. <br>
  6917. Jack got several fun presents from his friends at the party and the two
  6918. of us spent a lot of time on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning
  6919. opening packages and putting things together. I think one of his
  6920. favourite toys is the pump action nerf gun that fires table tennis ball
  6921. sized nerf projectiles at high speed. Luckily for me his aim isn't too
  6922. good yet!<br>
  6923. <br>
  6924. I'll post some more updates about me as the week progresses and I get
  6925. further into chemo round two but for now I just want to enjoy watching
  6926. my son be the centre of attention for a change!!
  6927. ]]>
  6928. </description>
  6929. <pubDate>Mon, 17 Dec 2007 12:28:00 CST</pubDate>
  6930. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  6931. </item>
  6935. <item>
  6936. <title>The new Mac, Halo 3 and me</title>
  6937. <category domain="">personal</category>
  6938. <category domain="">medical</category>
  6939. <link></link>
  6940. <description>
  6941. <![CDATA[
  6942. I finally started feeling "normal" again on Sunday (December 9th),
  6944. and have been trying to get caught up on a number of things
  6946. since.&nbsp; Consequently, it has been a few days since my last
  6948. posting. The good news is that since Sunday I have actually been
  6950. feeling pretty good. I visited the oncologist's office on Monday for my
  6952. "off week" checkup visit and they told me all of the symptoms I am
  6954. experiencing are pretty normal for the drugs they are giving me and
  6956. that it is likely that this pattern of good days and bad days will
  6958. repeat itself as we progress through the treatment program. From my
  6960. point of view, at least knowing there will be several good days will
  6962. make it easier (I hope) from now on to adjust to the bad days. The
  6964. other good news is that my <a href="">haemoglobin</a>
  6966. level (which if you read some of my postings from October) was
  6968. dangerously low for a while, has improved significantly. This will
  6970. certainly help with my energy level and I am really happy to see it
  6972. rising.<br>
  6974. </p>
  6976. <p>Given it took me several days to recover from the first chemo round,
  6978. I have not had as much time or energy to play with the new Mac as I
  6980. would have liked. However, today, I met a good friend who is a Mac guru
  6982. for lunch and he was kind enough to give me a crash course in some of
  6984. the cool features and also help me setup some of the key software that
  6986. I want to run on the machine. I hope to spend more time over the next
  6988. few days exploring. My ultimate goal is to be able to use the machine
  6990. for both work and fun. Even in the short amount of time I have had to
  6992. play so far, I have been very impressed with both the machine itself
  6994. and the new Leopard operating system software that came
  6996. preloaded.&nbsp; <br>
  6998. </p>
  7000. <p>I mentioned in my previous posting that I would comment on the
  7002. amazing journey the Mac took to get to me. I guess this just shows what
  7004. a global economy we live in. I ordered the machine from the Apple web
  7006. site which I assume is in California but have no real idea where it is.
  7008. I naively assumed the machine would come from California too. However,
  7010. when I got the FedEx tracking number and went to track the delivery I
  7012. found the machine was being assembled and shipped from Shanghai in
  7014. China. It was a lot of fun to follow the journey from then on. I
  7016. managed to figure out which FedEx flights the machine was on by cunning
  7018. use of flight trackers and the FedEx web page. I was able to follow the
  7020. machine as it made its way to me across the Pacific. In the end, before
  7022. being delivered&nbsp; at my front door, the machine visited the
  7024. airports in Shanghai, Anchorage, Indianapolis,&nbsp; Memphis and Austin
  7026. - quite a journey! What I found even more amazing was that the machine
  7028. arrived within 25 minutes (early) of the originally scheduled delivery
  7030. date and time that had been given to me when I placed the order a few
  7032. days before - pretty impressive I think.</p>
  7034. <p>This week I have worked a full day each day so far and that has been
  7036. really nice in terms of giving me a strong feeling of normality. I also
  7038. managed to finally make time this week for my annual eye exam (which
  7040. was months overdue) and I was glad to see that my eyesight is more or
  7042. less the same as it was last year. I have been told that the chemo may
  7044. negatively affect my eyesight so I wanted to get my new glasses ordered
  7046. before the chemo has a chance to distort everything too badly (no pun
  7048. intended). While my energy is definitely continuing to come back, in
  7050. the evenings I still find I need to spend quite a lot of time taking it
  7052. easy by relaxing in front of the TV or doing other low energy things
  7054. like playing games. This week (admittedly with help from my kids) we
  7056. managed to complete level 8 of the solo player missions in Halo 3
  7058. (there are ten in total). We are now fragging our way through level
  7060. nine! Halo 3 is a very enjoyable game but also a very pleasing game in
  7062. terms of the overall graphics and production quality. Once I am done
  7064. with the single player missions I am tempted to try playing on-line but
  7066. I am also more than a bit worried that that could turn out to be a
  7068. really big consumer/waster of time - but right now maybe that's OK!!<br>
  7070. </p>
  7072. I'll try to post again soon with more updates. My next chemo round
  7074. starts on Monday (December 17th) so I am going to try and enjoy the
  7076. next few days before the anticipated next cycle of "feeling lousy"
  7078. starts.<br>
  7082. ]]>
  7083. </description>
  7084. <pubDate>Wed, 12 Dec 2007 16:38:00 CST</pubDate>
  7085. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7086. </item>
  7091. <item>
  7092. <title>End of round one</title>
  7093. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7094. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7095. <link></link>
  7096. <description>
  7097. <![CDATA[
  7098. The chemo program I am on feels to me a lot like the way
  7099. professional boxing must feel. The two participants pummel each other
  7100. over the course of 12 rounds. Only in this case, the 12 rounds are
  7101. spread out over six months and the other guy does all the pummelling
  7102. and my job is to basically "hang in there" and wait for the bell. Today
  7103. I ended round one. I'd say we're maybe about even on points but I am
  7104. certainly dealing with a formidable opponent!&nbsp; I have experienced
  7105. a lot of side effects. None of them are major when taken independently
  7106. but when taken as a whole they have left me feeling pretty wiped out.
  7107. Thankfully I have until December 17<sup>th</sup> before round two gets
  7108. underway. At least, unlike professional boxing, the opponent is
  7109. pummelling me with the intention of leaving me better off at the end
  7110. and not out cold on the mat. I don't have the energy to describe the
  7111. exact regimen and how it works but I believe it is known commonly as
  7112. FOLFOX. I found a site based in the UK that seems to describe it quite
  7113. well. Here is a <a
  7114. href="">link
  7115. to that site</a>. If you read the summary at that link you will see I
  7116. am getting treatment both in the oncologist's office and also at home
  7117. (via a pump that stays with me during the rounds). They remove the pump
  7118. between rounds. It will be nice to be able to sleep tonight without the
  7119. pump. I had hoped to post an update yesterday but at least for now I
  7120. have been struggling to keep up as much as I have been recently.
  7121. Hopefully I will adapt to this and do better over time. <br>
  7122. </p>
  7123. <p>On a happier note, I bought myself a new toy, an Apple Mac Book Pro
  7124. laptop that I hope to use to keep me occupied during some of the
  7125. upcoming chemo visits. I have never owned a Mac before so I am excited
  7126. to start exploring all of the cool features. I'll make a dedicated
  7127. posting in the next day or so to talk about the Mac and my first
  7128. impressions. I'll also describe the amazing journey the machine took to
  7129. get to me.<br>
  7130. </p>
  7131. <p>I continue to be grateful for all of the kind messages I continue to
  7132. receive via the <a href="">Guest Book</a>, e-mail and so
  7133. many other ways. I really appreciate and continue to need all of your
  7134. support.
  7135. ]]>
  7136. </description>
  7137. <pubDate>Wed, 05 Dec 2007 22:03:00 CST</pubDate>
  7138. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7139. </item>
  7143. <item>
  7144. <title>First chemo visit</title>
  7145. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7146. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7147. <link></link>
  7148. <description>
  7149. <![CDATA[
  7150. Just a quick update as I am wiped out from today and off to bed in a
  7151. few minutes. Today was my first chemo appointment. I arrived at 8:30am
  7152. and was expecting to be there about 4 hours maybe 5 at most. As it
  7153. turned out, mainly due to this being my first visit but more due to
  7154. volume of patients and I think some staffing issues I ended up in my
  7155. chair for 9 (yes nine) hours. I was in fact the last patient out the
  7156. door and it was already getting dark outside when I left. All of this
  7157. said, I love the staff at the office where I am being treated and they
  7158. made my time there as pleasant as could be. Also, having a WiFi network
  7159. really helped pass the time. I used my laptop to do quite a lot of
  7160. work, pay my bills and talk to friends and colleagues via instant
  7161. messaging. They sent me home with a pump that keeps infusing more
  7162. medicine into me over night which will make sleeping a bit odd tonight
  7163. I think. So far I have not noticed much in the way of side effects but
  7164. I am expecting a few over the course of the treatment based on my
  7165. "education" today. I'll post more tomorrow but wanted to just get a
  7166. quick post up tonight as many people have been contacting me to ask how
  7167. it went. I certainly appreciate all the support. OK off to bed for me.
  7168. More updates soon.<br>
  7169. ]]>
  7170. </description>
  7171. <pubDate>Mon, 03 Dec 2007 23:13:00 CST</pubDate>
  7172. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7173. </item>
  7175. <item>
  7176. <title>More surgery and more football</title>
  7177. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7178. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7179. <link></link>
  7180. <description>
  7181. <![CDATA[
  7182. I spent yesterday afternoon back at the hospital to have the surgery done to put in the <a href="">port-a-cath</a>
  7184. that will be used to infuse the chemotherapy meds starting next week.
  7186. The procedure itself was very quick but we (my wife and I) still ended
  7188. up spending several hours at the hospital (by the time you factor in
  7190. the waiting room, paperwork, surgery prep, surgery itself and finally
  7192. recovery). Before they put me to sleep, I had a chat with my surgeon in
  7194. the OR and he again checked the status of my previous repairs and he
  7196. gave me the all clear to ramp up my physical activities. I am very
  7198. pleased about this but of course will ramp up slowly so as not to
  7200. overdo it.&nbsp; My surgeon will see me again in six months, after the
  7202. chemotherapy is over at which time he will remove the port (yet another
  7204. minor surgery) and begin the three monthly monitoring process that I
  7206. discussed briefly in my last posting. We left the hospital around 5pm
  7208. and by then I was extremely hungry having not been allowed to eat since
  7210. midnight the previous day. <br>
  7212. <br>
  7214. Thankfully the sedation wore off pretty quickly and I actually felt
  7216. pretty good almost immediately I woke up. Given I was both hungry and
  7218. as always very open to any and all distractions I was able to accept a
  7220. friend's kind offer to to join him at 7pm for dinner while watching the
  7222. Dallas Cowboys vs Green Bay Packers game at another friend's house
  7224. (this specific game was a very big one and was only available via
  7226. satellite - something we don't have at our house).<br>
  7228. <br>
  7230. Today I am a little more tired than I have been in recent days but I
  7232. slept well last night and otherwise feel OK. The area around the new
  7234. incision is pretty sore as is to be expected but I'm sure that will
  7236. calm down soon. <br>
  7238. <br>
  7240. I forgot to mention in my prior posting that I got the all clear to
  7242. drive my car again too. While I don't yet feel confident driving long
  7244. distances as my mind tends to wander sometimes, it has been great to be
  7246. able to make a couple of very short trips by myself to local shops.
  7248. Even the small things mean a lot right now.<br>
  7250. <br>
  7252. This weekend I mostly plan to take it easy and maybe do a bit of
  7254. Christmas decorating around the house - the kids are getting desperate
  7256. to make progress on that. When I was a kid growing up in England I am
  7258. sure we didn't start this early but it seems these days (at least
  7260. around here) as soon as the Thanksgiving holiday is over the Christmas
  7262. trees start appearing. On Saturday evening, assuming I feel up to it, I
  7264. am going down to San Antonio (which is about 90 miles from here) with
  7266. one of my brothers-in-law as we have tickets for the <a href="">Big 12 Championship</a>
  7268. game. For the benefit of my friends and family outside of the USA, this
  7270. is a fairly major college (American) football event. We were hoping
  7272. that the University of Texas (which is based here in Austin) would make
  7274. it to the game but they fell short this year. Given we already have the
  7276. tickets and that it should still be a great game anyway we are still
  7278. planing to go and hopefully enjoy the game. This is a fairly big deal
  7280. for me as this will be by far my biggest adventure since before the
  7282. surgery - and in case you were worrying - no I will not be doing the
  7284. driving!<br>
  7286. <br>
  7288. That's the update for now. I hope you all have a pleasant weekend.
  7289. ]]>
  7290. </description>
  7291. <pubDate>Fri, 30 Nov 2007 10:00:00 CST</pubDate>
  7292. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7293. </item>
  7296. <item>
  7297. <title>A few days of normality</title>
  7298. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7299. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7300. <link></link>
  7301. <description>
  7302. <![CDATA[
  7303. <p>As I mentioned in my prior posting, last Thursday was the
  7305. Thanksgiving day holiday here in the United States. For many of us,
  7307. that meant a four day weekend. Despite the weather here in the Austin
  7309. area being really nasty (cold and wet) it was nice to have a few days
  7311. in a row where no one was pushing me, prodding me or sticking needles
  7313. into me! We went to my brother-in-law's house for a fairly large family
  7315. gathering on Thursday which was a great distraction for me and it was
  7317. also great that I was able to enjoy the wonderful meal that had been
  7319. prepared without too many worries. That said, I'm still learning which
  7321. foods my new digestive system does best with and which ones mess me up.
  7323. This will be an ongoing process for some time yet I think! On Friday we
  7325. had a gathering at our house to watch the Univerity of Texas vs Texas
  7327. A&amp;M college football game (that's American football for my friends
  7329. outside the USA). I am also getting a bit more confident about going
  7331. out in public now so on Saturday we took the kids to see the <a href="">Bee Movie</a>
  7333. which we all enjoyed. On Sunday we went to visit my wife's mother. So
  7335. all in all I had four days of family time with lots of distractions. I
  7337. also found some time to play Halo 3 which I am rapidly becoming
  7339. addicted to.<br>
  7341. </p>
  7343. <p>This week I have to get back into the medical routine. Today I went
  7345. and got my flu shot so that is taken care of before chemo starts next
  7347. week. On Wednesday (tomorrow)&nbsp; I have to go to the hospital for my
  7349. prep visit for the small surgery I am having on Thursday to place the
  7351. port into my chest that will be used to deliver the chemo meds. It's
  7353. supposed to only be a half hour procedure and is being done as day
  7355. surgery. Chemo is due to start next week. I am also due to see my
  7357. surgeon again next week for another checkup. If he likes my progress I
  7359. should get the all clear at that point to resume a few more physical
  7361. activities (once I get my strength up some more anyway). I'm actually
  7363. going to be seeing a lot of my surgeon over the coming months as at
  7365. least for the time being he wants to monitor me at three monthly
  7367. intervals. At least the monitoring can be done in his office without
  7369. the need for all of the nasty preparations that go with a full
  7371. colonoscopy. I guess eventually I'll get into the routine of all these
  7373. appointments but right now, and I guess this means I am feeling quite a
  7375. bit better, I am about ready for a break from the seemingly endless
  7377. visits to one medical office or another! As always I'll just have to
  7379. deal with it. The mess my kids make around the house (which can be
  7381. substantial) has also started bugging me again for the first time since
  7383. before the surgery so I guess that is another sign that I am feeling a
  7385. bit better !!<br>
  7387. </p>
  7389. <p>Many of my neighbours have already put up their exterior Christmas
  7391. decorations and my kids are on my case to do the same. I told them that
  7393. if I feel up to it that maybe we'll make a start on that later in the
  7395. week (energy and weather permitting).<br>
  7397. </p>
  7399. <p>Apart from a little time off for medical appointments I am planning
  7401. to try and work pretty much a full week this week unless but I am being
  7403. careful and will take breaks as needed.<br>
  7405. </p>
  7407. <p>I continue to be grateful for all the messages in the <a href="">Guest Book</a>
  7409. as well as the e-mails and calls I am getting from people checking on
  7411. me. All in all, I think I am coping fairly well. I still have a long
  7413. way to go, and I am definitely a bit nervous about chemo and how I will
  7415. react to it, but for the most part I have a lot more good days than bad
  7417. ones at the moment. I'm trying to keep my attitide positive which I
  7419. manage to do for the most part but I still have my moments!<br>
  7421. </p>
  7423. <p>Anyway, I'll post again soon, probably after the surgery on Thursday.<br>
  7427. ]]>
  7428. </description>
  7429. <pubDate>Tue, 27 Nov 2007 16:25:00 CST</pubDate>
  7430. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7431. </item>
  7433. <item>
  7434. <title>The plan moving forward</title>
  7435. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7436. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7437. <link></link>
  7438. <description>
  7439. <![CDATA[
  7440. This week I learned a lot more about the next stages of my treatment.
  7442. On Monday I met with my surgeon for my post surgery follow up. He is
  7444. happy with the way I am healing from the surgery and I think he is
  7446. pleased with my overall level of activity, energy and enthusiasm. He
  7448. has however told me to remain on a program of very limited activity for
  7450. another three weeks. Primarily to risk causing any damage to the area
  7452. of the surgery. I have to see him again in early December and at that
  7454. time (not that I am probably going to be up to it physically) from his
  7456. point of view I should be released to restart more normal activities -
  7458. even some sports if I want to.<br>
  7460. <br>
  7462. Yesterday (Tuesday) I met the oncologist for the first time. I was
  7464. extremely nervous going into that appointment as I know that these guys
  7466. deal largely in statistics and probabilities and I knew it was time to
  7468. face up to some numbers specific to me. However, the doctor could not
  7470. have been nicer and explained everything nicely, clearly and even with
  7472. a bit of humour. I took to him immediately. We discussed options,
  7474. statistics and all manner of related things and he laid out for me his
  7476. treatment plan. Even though my cancer was caught fairly early, and is
  7478. officially being classified as a stage 2 cancer, he still believes that
  7480. a course of chemotherapy adds quite significantly to my chances of a
  7482. cure. I am not going to go into the numbers here (they really aren't
  7484. that awful but I just prefer not to dwell on the stats too much). So I
  7486. will start chemotherapy on December 3rd and it will take six months to
  7488. complete the course. I will have to go to his office on two consecutive
  7490. days every other week for a total of 12 visits (hence six months). I
  7492. will also have to go back briefly on the 3rd day of every "on" week to
  7494. have the pump they send you home with removed. He has assured me that
  7496. the chemicals used have improved a lot over the years and that I should
  7498. not get nauseous or lose much (if any) hair. There are a few possible
  7500. side effects, the biggest one being fatigue, but none of them sound too
  7502. terrible. The office visits are going to be a little longer than I had
  7504. realized. I think (memory fails me a bit here) they said 240 minutes on
  7506. the first day and 180 minutes on the second (but I may have got that
  7508. wrong). The good news is that this is a pretty high tech oncology
  7510. practice and they have wireless internet in the treatment room - maybe
  7512. you'll see a blog post from there in the future!!<br>
  7514. <br>
  7516. As some of you may know, the prefered way of "plugging me in" to the
  7518. chemo machinery each visit is through a port that is installed in my
  7520. chest. This means I have to go back into the hospital next week
  7522. (Thursday November 29th) for a minor surgery to install the port. The
  7524. same surgeon who has been treating me can also do this procedure and he
  7526. says it takes about 30 minutes and they will send me home the same day.
  7528. I'm a little down at having to have yet more (albeit minor) surgery,
  7530. but I'll deal with it.<br>
  7532. <br>
  7534. So that is the update. I am glad I have got through the visits this
  7536. week and that the plan both makes sense and also gives me a certain
  7538. amount of confidence. Nothing is certain in life but I feel I am
  7540. getting the best possible treatment and being given the best possible
  7542. chance for a full recovery. In many ways my future is out of my hands
  7544. now so I am going to try to just keep up as normal a life as I can over
  7546. these next six months and try not to worry about the&nbsp; future and
  7548. things that are out of my control.<br>
  7550. <br>
  7552. As always thanks for all of the continued support and encouragement. It
  7554. really helps. This is still a scary time for me but having all of you
  7556. with me (I feel&nbsp; a bit like the guy in the Verizon phone
  7558. commercial who has his network following him around) is really helping
  7560. keep my spirits up.<br>
  7562. <br>
  7564. I'll post again soon.<br>
  7566. <br>
  7568. To all of my friends in the USA, a very Happy Thanksgiving. To all of you in other countries have a wonderful rest of the week.<br>
  7571. ]]>
  7572. </description>
  7573. <pubDate>Wed, 21 Nov 2007 10:04:00 CST</pubDate>
  7574. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7575. </item>
  7578. <item>
  7579. <title>Slowly getting my strength back...</title>
  7580. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7581. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7582. <link></link>
  7583. <description>
  7584. <![CDATA[
  7586. Hi everyone. I had hoped to be able to post here long before now but
  7588. the surgery took a lot more out of me than I had expected it would.
  7590. This week for the first time since leaving the hospital (on November 2<sup>nd</sup>)
  7592. I have actually felt like looking at a computer for more than just a
  7594. few minutes. The good news is that I have been doing what I was told
  7596. and getting lots of rest.<br>
  7598. <br>
  7600. Lorna has been using the <a href="">Guest Book</a> as a
  7602. bulletin board to try and keep everyone up to date on my progress so
  7604. hopefully most of you know roughly where things stand.&nbsp; The
  7606. Surgery went well but I ended up in the hospital for a full week to
  7608. allow me enough time to be ready to go home. I finally got to come home
  7610. on November 2<sup>nd</sup> and it was great to be back in my own
  7612. "space" again. My appetite is slowly coming back but I have lost about
  7614. 30 pounds since going into the hospital (some diet plan!!). I still
  7616. have some pain but really it&nbsp; has not been that bad and I have had
  7618. to use surprisingly few pain pills.&nbsp; My energy is also slowly
  7620. coming back (as I mentioned above the surgery took a lot more out of me
  7622. than I had anticipated it would). I have been able to take a few (very
  7624. short) walks and also watch a couple of my kids soccer games. This week
  7626. I even dialed into a couple of work meetings and started reading some
  7628. of the 1000 plus e-mails that have accumulated during my "down time".
  7630. It was great to both be doing some of the things I would normally be
  7632. doing on a work day and also to hear some of my colleagues voices
  7634. again. I am also trying to adjust to the physiological changes that my
  7636. body has undergone - let's just say that remains a work in progress!<br>
  7638. <br>
  7640. I am seeing my surgeon for my post-surgery follow up visit next week
  7642. and I am also meeting an oncologist who will decide if I need a
  7644. (hopefully limited) course of chemotherapy.<br>
  7646. <br>
  7648. We have been overwhelmed with the number of gifts, meals, cards, messages in the <a href="">Guest Book</a>,
  7650. e-mails&nbsp; and other wonderful things that people have sent us over
  7652. the last few weeks. I am trying to thank each of you individually but
  7654. to all of you a huge THANK YOU. It really has helped keep my spirits up
  7656. to know that so many of you are out there cheering us on.<br>
  7658. <br>
  7660. I'll post again in a few days when we know more about my next steps and
  7662. any additional treatment plans. For now I am just working on getting my
  7664. strength back and not overdoing it too soon. I am hoping that if I do
  7666. need chemotherapy that we can wait until after Thanksgiving here in the
  7668. US (which is a big family get together time) before we start.<br>
  7670. <br>
  7672. Thanks again everyone for your support. You all mean the World to my family and I.<br>
  7674. <br>
  7678. ]]>
  7679. </description>
  7680. <pubDate>Wed, 14 Nov 2007 09:40:00 CST</pubDate>
  7681. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7682. </item>
  7686. <item>
  7687. <title>Almost there...</title>
  7688. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7689. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7690. <link></link>
  7691. <description>
  7692. <![CDATA[
  7693. So the waiting is almost over. My surgery is scheduled for tomorrow
  7695. morning (Friday) at 11am Central Time (although we have to be at the
  7697. hospital around 9am to check in). For those who know the Austin area, I
  7699. will be in the main Seton hospital on 38th Street. We're not sure yet
  7701. how many days I will be in the hospital but I am guessing at least
  7703. three and maybe a few more.<br>
  7705. <br>
  7707. Obviously I will not be posting many more updates here for a few days
  7709. (at least not from the hospital anyway - but don't think I haven't been
  7711. trying to think of a cunning way to pull that off!).&nbsp; After
  7713. surgery, as soon as she can, my wife Lorna, is going to put an update
  7715. in the <a href="">Guest Book</a>&nbsp; as she can do
  7717. that easily from any web connected computer she happens to find near
  7719. the hospital. So if you want the latest news please keep an eye on the
  7721. Guest Book for the next few days.<br>
  7723. <br>
  7725. Last night I coached my U6 boys soccer team (probably for the last time
  7727. this season) and enjoyed being out in the fresh air one last time
  7729. before I go "under the knife". After practice we ordered a bunch of
  7731. pizza's for the boys and the parents and had a few laughs. Not quite
  7733. the final pre-surgery&nbsp; meal I had originally intended, but in a
  7735. way, it was perfect. This morning I managed to make one final trip to
  7737. Starbucks before my pre-surgery special diet kicks in.<br>
  7739. <br>
  7741. Talking of the special diet, I'm not allowed to eat or drink anything
  7743. else now except for clear liquids (sadly I don't think vodka or gin
  7745. counts) until after surgery. I also have to start taking the medicine
  7747. that "prepares" you for surgery. I'll leave the details of that to the
  7749. imagination. If you have ever had any kind of colo/rectal procedure
  7751. you'll know what I am talking about!<br>
  7753. <br>
  7755. So, that really is about it for now. Thanks again to you all for your
  7757. endless support and help in keeping my spirits up these past couple of
  7759. weeks. I am hoping that now I truly can start on the road to recovery
  7761. how ever long or short it may be, and at least I feel like we are
  7763. moving forward again now.<br>
  7765. <br>
  7767. As the waiting is at last (almost) over and we start out on that road forward, I am reminded of the words spoken by a&nbsp; <a href="">famous countryman</a>
  7769. of mine back in 1942. "Now this is not the end. It is not even the
  7771. beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."<br>
  7773. <br>
  7775. Thanks again everyone for all your support, I hope to be back here in a few days with some more updates.<br>
  7778. ]]>
  7779. </description>
  7780. <pubDate>Thu, 25 Oct 2007 13:34:00 CDT</pubDate>
  7781. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7782. </item>
  7786. <item>
  7787. <title>Quick update</title>
  7788. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7789. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7790. <link></link>
  7791. <description>
  7792. <![CDATA[
  7793. I spent all morning at the hospital today getting "prepped" for Friday.
  7795. If you have ever had surgery you will know the pre-admission routine:
  7797. Answer lots of questions, meet lots of people, have an <a href="">EKG</a>,
  7799. give (yet more) blood samples, give other samples, more tests and so
  7801. on. Then there is the seemingly endless paperwork. I signed so many
  7803. forms today I probably missed something in the small print stating that
  7805. the hospital now owns my house and car! I have also had to give blood
  7807. samples so often lately I am starting to feel like a pin cushion. I
  7809. also spoke to the surgeon again today and I think he's all set to go so
  7811. I think we are almost there - I just hope my <a href="">Xanax</a>
  7813. supply holds out for a few more days! I feel noticably more nervous
  7815. today than in recent days but all in all I think I am managing to "hang
  7817. in there".<br>
  7819. <br>
  7821. Over the Summer I had been actively trying (and succeeding - albeit
  7823. slowly) to lose a bit of weight.&nbsp; The last few days I have been
  7825. trying as hard as I can to put it back on again! I figure that
  7827. post-surgery my appetite is not going to be back to normal for a while
  7829. and I am not really sure how soon I'll be eating normally again so the
  7831. last few days I have been trying to eat things that I love without
  7833. worrying too much about what they are doing to me. On the way home from
  7835. the hospital today my wife and I stopped at <a href="">Dave and Busters</a>
  7837. and I had a really good (and probably my last for a while) hamburger.
  7839. This is one of the few pluses of my current state of mind - if it
  7841. sounds good, eat it!<br>
  7843. <br>
  7845. This past weekend we made the most of the beautiful weather. I helped
  7847. coach my daughter's soccer team at 1pm on Saturday and then coached my
  7849. son's team right after that. On Saturday night we went to visit the
  7851. same friends we saw last weekend to watch the Rugby World Cup Final.
  7853. Sadly, this time, England came second but a good time was had by all.
  7855. On Sunday I went and watched my soccer team play as the anemia has kept
  7857. me from being able to keep playing myself&nbsp; but I wanted to spend a
  7859. bit of time with the guys before the enforced downtime I have coming
  7861. post-surgery.<br>
  7863. <br>
  7865. Today, a first blast of Winter arrived in Central Texas. Over night a
  7867. cold front blew in. Yesterday it had been in the high 80's Fahrenheit,
  7869. today so far (as of 3:45pm) I don't think we have managed to get above
  7871. 56F here at the house. It has also been raining off and on all day.
  7873. This type of 30 degree swing is typical for Texas. It's supposed to be
  7875. back into the 70's again by mid-week after this front has done its
  7877. thing.<br>
  7879. <br>
  7881. Finally, I continue to be very humbled by the continued flow of cards, letters, e-mails and postings to the <a href="">Guest Book.</a>
  7883. Thank you all so much for your continued support. I am also very
  7885. grateful to several of my work colleagues who got together and sent me
  7887. a wonderful basket full of goodies. You are all extremely kind.<br>
  7889. <br>
  7891. I'll post again soon with any more news but I think, for the most part, I just have to make it through until Friday morning now.<br>
  7894. ]]>
  7895. </description>
  7896. <pubDate>Mon, 22 Oct 2007 16:07:00 CDT</pubDate>
  7897. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7898. </item>
  7903. <item>
  7904. <title>It's hard to feel bad when the weather is this good.</title>
  7905. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7906. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7907. <category domain="">weather</category>
  7908. <category domain="">texas</category>
  7909. <link></link>
  7910. <description>
  7911. <![CDATA[
  7912. The weather here in Central Texas this past week has been, in a word,
  7914. awesome. The overnight lows are in the 60's Fahrenheit with a few
  7916. places dipping into the 50's. Right now at 9:20am it is 61 degrees
  7918. outside of my home office and I am working with the window open - quite
  7920. a luxury at the end of a long Texas Summer. During the day it has been
  7922. warming up into the high 80's or even low 90's and it is likely to do
  7924. that again today. There is a cool breeze and the sky is clear blue.
  7926. Just about perfect. This weather pattern is predicted to continue for
  7928. some time yet so we will be looking at another busy weekend of coaching
  7930. kids soccer games. My Surgeon wants me to stay active until the surgery
  7932. and while the anemia is presenting me from being too active (playing
  7934. soccer would be out)&nbsp; at least I can take some gentle walks around
  7936. the neighbourhood and enjoy this wonderful weather.<br>
  7938. <br>
  7940. There is no additional news to report today on the medical front. I'm
  7942. still waiting for the test results to come back that I described in my
  7944. posting on October 16th but other than that we are proceeding pretty
  7946. much according to plan. I have to go to the hospital in the early part
  7948. of next week for the pre-surgery work up (to make sure I can handle the
  7950. anesthetic etc.) and then of course Friday next week is the big day.<br>
  7952. <br>
  7954. I am still receiving loads of e-mails from all over the World&nbsp;
  7956. wishing me good things and I cannot tell you enough how much I
  7958. appreciate that. Also to those of you that are filling the <a href="">Guest Book</a> with messages - you are very kind, thank you.<br>
  7960. <br>
  7962. I'll post again here as we get more news and as we get a bit closer to
  7964. the 26th. For now I'm going to sit here, get some work done, and enjoy
  7966. the cool breeze that is blowing in through my window.<br>
  7968. ]]>
  7969. </description>
  7970. <pubDate>Fri, 19 Oct 2007 09:32:00 CDT</pubDate>
  7971. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  7972. </item>
  7975. <item>
  7976. <title>Change of plans</title>
  7977. <category domain="">personal</category>
  7978. <category domain="">medical</category>
  7979. <link></link>
  7980. <description>
  7981. <![CDATA[
  7982. The surgeon who is treating me called last night and we met briefly in his office again today. As I mentioned in my posting on <a href="">October 11th</a>
  7984. , he had met with the doctor who performed the colonoscopy on me and
  7986. was calling me after having had that conversation. Unfortunately he now
  7988. feels we need to adjust from current "Plan A" to a somewhat more
  7990. radical "Plan B".&nbsp; Before I discuss the new plan I should perhaps
  7992. explain how we got there. The doctors believe the root cause of my
  7994. current problems is a genetic condition called <a href="">Attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis&nbsp; </a>(<a href="">AFAP</a>
  7996. for short). I am not going to try, nor am I qualified to, go into a
  7998. lengthy explanation of what AFAP is. Heck, two weeks ago I had never
  8000. heard of it. In short, however, it means someone my age is likely to
  8002. have a large number (more than 20 but less than 100) of polyps in their
  8004. colon and has a much higher than normal predisposition to these
  8006. becoming cancerous in a relatively short amount of time. Today I went
  8008. and had yet more blood taken so that a genetic analysis can be
  8010. performed to prove for certain that I have AFAP (the results will be
  8012. several days coming back) but I apparently have all of the classic
  8014. indications of it and my medical team seem pretty much convinced on
  8016. this one. My bigger worry, as a parent of course, is that there
  8018. apparently is a 50% chance of this being passed on to my children.
  8020. That, however, is a bridge we do not have to cross today. <br>
  8022. </p>
  8024. <p>So now for the change of plans. Plan A had been to remove a large
  8026. part of the colon, Plan B (I am told the recommended procedure for AFAP
  8028. cases like mine) is to remove the entire colon. The logic is along the
  8030. lines of if you leave part of the colon behind, because of the AFAP, in
  8032. a year or so we'll be right back here again and in the meantime I'll be
  8034. almost living in the doctors office getting checked for a recurrence
  8036. (I'm exaggerating obviously but not that much). However, to an "average
  8038. man in the street" like me, this whole new plan, at least at first,
  8040. sounds horrific and I have to tell you that last evening after the
  8042. surgeon called, I found myself feeling like I had taken a huge step
  8044. backwards. Today, however, after meeting with the surgeon in his office
  8046. and asking all kinds of questions about quality of life and future
  8048. preventative care needs I think I am (slowly) coming to terms with it.
  8050. If all goes according to (the new) plan, I still believe I can live a
  8052. fairly normal life. I am not going to go into the gory details of what
  8054. it means in terms of living without a colon but I am sure you can find
  8056. a lot more information about it on the internet should you so desire!!</p>
  8058. <p>Surgery is still scheduled for October 26<sup>th</sup>. Suffice to
  8060. say, I am a little shaken by this change of plans but as I had more or
  8062. less adjusted to things under Plan A I am sure I will rapidly adjust to
  8064. Plan B.....
  8065. ]]>
  8066. </description>
  8067. <pubDate>Tue, 16 Oct 2007 14:54:00 CDT</pubDate>
  8068. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8069. </item>
  8073. <item>
  8074. <title>Keeping distracted</title>
  8075. <category domain="">personal</category>
  8076. <category domain="">medical</category>
  8077. <link></link>
  8078. <description>
  8079. <![CDATA[
  8080. This weekend, with the help of many friends and family and a
  8082. very busy social schedule for the kids, we managed to keep me extremely
  8084. distracted and I can honestly say I had a really nice weekend. On
  8086. Saturday we had to get off to an early start as my daughter's U10
  8088. soccer team had a game at 8:30am in Georgetown, which is about a 30
  8090. minute drive from our house. At least at that time of day it was still
  8092. nice and cool outside (by Texas standards) . In the low 70's Fahrenheit
  8094. at most. The play 8 a side (7 on the field plus a goalie). I had fun
  8096. coaching the girls and watching them try really hard against a team
  8098. that had been together a lot longer than us and were in many cases a
  8100. lot bigger than our girls were. For a team that has only been together
  8102. a few weeks, to do so well against a team that has been together for
  8104. three years, in my opinion, was excellent. It was indeed inspiring to
  8106. me to see them all try so hard against a very strong opponent. After
  8108. that we drove home for a couple of hours of "down time". This gave me
  8110. the chance to experiment with a surprise present that a a couple of
  8112. dear friends had sent me on Friday. A package from <a href=""></a> turned up on my doorstep, out of the blue, on Friday afternoon. When I opened it, inside I found a copy of <a href="">Halo 3</a>.
  8114. Now if that doesn't keep me distracted I am not sure what will. Look
  8116. for more on my Halo experiences in future posts. I got to play for
  8118. about an hour before it was time for us all to pile back into the car
  8120. and drive to my son's U6 soccer game. This was a fun game too. At this
  8122. age it is 3 versus 3 with no goalies and teams have 6 players. We play
  8124. 8 minute quarters. I usually sub all 3 in or out once a quarter so
  8126. everyone plays 4 times. It's great to see the little guys trying to do
  8128. all of the things we have worked on at practice like (talk to each
  8130. other, pass the ball, look where the goal is before you shoot at it and
  8132. so on). This week we faced a tough team who focussed on defending their
  8134. own goal and like&nbsp; the great soccer managers who have come before
  8136. me (OK well I can dream) I had to devise a plan to break down this
  8138. stoic defense. I called the boys together at half time having observed
  8140. the opposition strategy throughout the first half and shared with them
  8142. my visionary thoughts on this issue "OK boys", I said, "go out there,
  8144. have fun, run hard, and score a bunch of goals".&nbsp; Inspired by the
  8146. depths of my coaching insight that is exactly what they did!!&nbsp; We
  8148. don't keep score at this age - the focus is correctly supposed to be on
  8150. fun and learning the game but a couple of our parents who apparently
  8152. had been casually counting the goals said we edged it! To me, no matter
  8154. what the score, we've won if six tired but smiling faces come trotting
  8156. over after the game is over to dive into their well earned snacks!<br>
  8158. <br>
  8160. On Saturday evening we had a baby sitter come watch the kids so we
  8162. could spend the evening with some English friends and watch England
  8164. play France in the Semi Final of the Rugby World cup. Aided by the
  8166. result ( England 14 - 9 France), the good food and great company we had
  8168. a really nice evening.<br>
  8170. <br>
  8172. On Sunday I spent most of the morning and part&nbsp; of the afternoon
  8174. playing video games with my son as my daughter was at a birthday party.
  8176. We had some quality boy time together which I think we both needed.
  8178. Sunday evening we went to visit some family members and it's impossible
  8180. not to be distracted when you have so many excited kids all getting
  8182. together after a few weeks apart! Again we had more good food and
  8184. conversation which included a deep discussion on the topic of <a href="">Doctor Who</a> between myself and one of my brothers-in-law which was excellent!<br>
  8186. <br>
  8188. As I mentioned in my previous posts, I am trying to keep up with my <a href="">reading </a>and on Sunday I finished <span style="font-weight: bold; font-style: italic;">Dark Wind</span> by <a href="">Clive Cussler</a>.
  8190. It's another of his Dirk Pitt adventures and was pretty much par for
  8192. the course compared to other books of his I have read. Definitely a
  8194. "page turner" but perhaps a little formulaic and (in the books I have
  8196. read ) the bad guys always seem to come from the same part of the
  8198. World. I'm starting to wonder if the author has a secret grudge to
  8200. bear. That aside, it was still an enjoyable read.<br>
  8202. <br>
  8204. Today a couple of my long time good friends from work (who I have
  8206. actually not seen a lot of lately)&nbsp; took me out to lunch (thanks
  8208. Mike and Mike) and again seeing them was a nice distraction.<br>
  8210. <br>
  8212. &nbsp;I have continued to receive a large number of cards, phone calls, e-mails, IM's and postings to the <a href="">Guest Book</a>. As always thank you all so much for that. You guys are doing a great job of keeping my mind off of my troubles.<br>
  8214. <br>
  8216. That's about it for today. <br>
  8218. <br>
  8220. Eleven more days until surgery - I'm going to need all of these distractions for quite a few days yet.<br>
  8222. ]]>
  8223. </description>
  8224. <pubDate>Mon, 15 Oct 2007 13:30:00 CDT</pubDate>
  8225. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8226. </item>
  8229. <item>
  8230. <title>The waiting game</title>
  8231. <category domain="">personal</category>
  8232. <category domain="">medical</category>
  8233. <link></link>
  8234. <description>
  8235. <![CDATA[
  8236. Those who know me well probably have noticed that I have trouble
  8238. sitting still. I need to be busy and I hate to wait. I hate to wait for
  8240. planes, buses,trains, people who are late for meetings and in this case
  8242. necessary surgery. The next few days for me are going to be the
  8244. ultimate test of my patience (and probably of many anxiety related
  8246. prescription drugs!). We have spoken to all three of the doctors
  8248. treating me in the past few days and all have reassured us (multiple
  8250. times) that it's OK that we are not doing the surgery until the 26<sup>th</sup>.&nbsp;
  8252. For me though it still doesn't make the waiting any easier. I am trying
  8254. to focus on work quite a bit and attending several meetings by phone.
  8256. The worst time is definitely the evenings when things calm down and my
  8258. mind starts imagining all of the amazing disasters that might befall me
  8260. next!<br>
  8262. <br>
  8264. However, many of you have sent me things to keep me pre-occupied and for that I am truly grateful I am indebted to my friend <a href="">Tom Glover</a> who pointed me at the following piece of <a href="">colo rectal surgery humour!</a>
  8266. Thanks Tom, that gave us all a good laugh here at my house- I think
  8268. I'll e-mail my surgeon the link (AFTER he operates on me!). Talking of
  8270. my surgeon, he and the doctor who did the colonoscopy on me are meeting
  8272. to consult with each other today. I am not expecting any major plan
  8274. changes but I'll let you all know if anything should change.<br>
  8276. <br>
  8278. Several of you have asked about the kids so today I removed the
  8280. password on the family section of the web site. Those of you that want
  8282. to can take a look and see how fast they are growing up. I'll try and
  8284. add some more pictures in the next day or so. That will be another good
  8286. project to keep me busy.<br>
  8288. <br>
  8290. I am managing to relax enough to keep up with my <a href="">reading </a>and have also been working on my skills at <a href="">Madden NFL 2007</a>
  8292. to help keep me busy when I just need a little mindless distraction
  8294. (mostly in the evenings after the kids are asleep). Also, and this
  8296. really was good news to me, the medical folks say it's OK for me to
  8298. keep coaching the two soccer teams I am involved with right up until
  8300. the surgery. I coach my son's U6 team and I am the assistant coach on
  8302. my daughter's U10 team. A little fresh air and exercise is in fact,
  8304. JUST what the doctor ordered. We have practice three nights a week and
  8306. games on Saturday. Being able to stay involved with these is a major
  8308. plus for me.<br>
  8310. <br>
  8312. Several of you have sent me cards in the mail - thanks so much for that
  8314. very kind and very much appreciated act. Thanks also for the continued
  8316. stream of e-mails, IM's and postings to the <a href="">Guest Book</a>. It really does help.<br>
  8318. <br>
  8320. That's about it for now...
  8321. ]]>
  8322. </description>
  8323. <pubDate>Thu, 11 Oct 2007 12:55:00 CDT</pubDate>
  8324. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8325. </item>
  8329. <item>
  8330. <title>Health scare and a lesson to us all</title>
  8331. <category domain="">personal</category>
  8332. <category domain="">medical</category>
  8333. <link></link>
  8334. <description>
  8335. <![CDATA[
  8336. <p>Over the latter part of the Summer I had been having trouble
  8338. sleeping, mainly because my legs were becoming so restless at night. If
  8340. you have never struggled with restless legs it's hard to describe but
  8342. it is sufficiently annoying enough that it can easily keep you awake
  8344. half the night (and for me it was doing so). I had become so restless
  8346. my wife had to find another room to sleep in for fear of being karate
  8348. kicked to death before morning!! Another symptom that I was having that
  8350. I did not realize then but do realize now to be related, was a lack of
  8352. stamina when playing sports (drastically more so say than a few months
  8354. ago). So, given all this, a few weeks back I went to see my family
  8356. doctor to ask if I could have some tablets to help me sleep and to ask
  8358. if I needed some of this new Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) medicine that
  8360. is being advertised heavily on the TV here in the US at the moment. He
  8362. did give me something to help me sleep but also took a blood sample to
  8364. check my iron levels as low iron can contribute to restlessness . For
  8366. those of us that remember our human biology from school, you will
  8368. recall that, iron helps maintain the <a href="">haemoglobin</a> level in the blood, or put another way,&nbsp; <a href="">haemoglobin</a>
  8370. is the iron-containing protein attached to red blood cells that
  8372. transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.&nbsp; When my
  8374. blood tests came back
  8376. the levels were way below normal. So low in fact I was borderline for a
  8378. blood transfusion right then and there. This immediately explained the
  8380. restlessness and the lack of stamina - basically I did not have enough
  8382. oxygen in my body . So I was diagnosed as anemic but now we needed
  8384. further tests to find out why.&nbsp; My doctor's opinion (which proved
  8386. correct) was that I was losing blood somewhere - basically he suspected
  8388. some form of internal bleeding (maybe a stomach ulcer or a colon polyp
  8390. that was bleeding). I was referred to a Gastro Intestinal clinic. On
  8392. October 1<sup>st</sup> they performed both a colonoscopy and an endoscopy on me
  8394. (basically they checked my <a href="">colon</a>
  8396. and my stomach for signs of trouble).&nbsp; My stomach was basically
  8398. clear but the news in my colon was not so good. The GI doctor found
  8400. several polyps, one of which looked "extremely suspicious" (English
  8402. translation "we think it's cancer but need a biopsy to be sure").&nbsp;
  8404. For&nbsp; the colonoscopy I was heavily sedated and it was many hours
  8406. before I really came around enough to comprehend that&nbsp; even at my
  8408. relatively young age (42) and with my very active lifestyle and high
  8410. fibre diet it was still likely that I had colon cancer.&nbsp; When this
  8412. all sank in I was a mess. I don't recall a day in my life when a single
  8414. piece of news has hit me quite so personally and quite so hard. I did
  8416. not find myself thinking so much of my own future but much more so of
  8418. my young kids (5 and 9) and my wife.&nbsp; Thankfully the doctor sent
  8420. over a prescription for something to help me relax that night and the
  8422. next morning we began the process of more tests and preparing to fight
  8424. back. On October 2<sup>nd</sup> I went and had a CT scan and had my blood cross
  8426. typed in case I did end up needing a blood transfusion (given I still
  8428. was very anemic). On October 3<sup>rd</sup> (Wednesday) we started to get the
  8430. results back. The bad news was that the biopsy has confirmed that I do
  8432. have cancer in my <a href="">cecum</a>
  8434. (bottom of the ascending colon if you again remember your human biology). The
  8436. better news was that the CT scan and additional blood work had found no
  8438. evidence of spreading and that we believe (I am a pessimist and always
  8440. have trouble with good news) that the cancer is localized to the colon.<br>
  8442. </p>
  8444. <p>Yesterday (October 9<sup>th</sup>) I met with a colo-rectal surgeon
  8446. to discuss my options. Based on the collected test results, he has
  8448. developed a surgery plan for me which will require quite a large part
  8450. of my colon to be removed but if all goes well will enable me to eat
  8452. and perform other digestive system related activities pretty much
  8454. normally after that. The surgery is planned for October 26<sup>th</sup>.
  8456. I'll post details about the hospital and other relevant information
  8458. closer to that date. After the surgery they will again test the various
  8460. parts of tissue and lymph nodes that get removed during surgery and we
  8462. will know much more about what this cancer has been up to. At that point
  8464. I will meet with an oncologist to see if I need chemotherapy or not and
  8466. I will likely also get a PET scan. I am encouraged by the fact that the
  8468. medical team is comfortable waiting a few days to schedule this surgery
  8470. on a non-panic basis but I'd still rather have this over with. If an
  8472. earlier date opens up on the surgeon's schedule I will most likely take
  8474. it for no other reason than to reduce the wait time.<br>
  8476. </p>
  8478. <p>That then...minus a few of the nastier details, is pretty much the full update. The <span style="text-decoration: underline; font-weight: bold;">lesson for us all</span>
  8480. in this (especially us stubborn men) is go see your doctor even for
  8482. little things that are bugging you. If I had ignored this we would not
  8484. have caught it as soon as we hope we have. I am also very grateful to
  8486. my family doctor who did not just give me meds to help me sleep but was
  8488. thorough and did that blood test that helped me get a proper diagnosis.
  8490. I know that doctors get a lot of pressure to prescribe certain
  8492. medications from the reps selling them. Any drug reps out there reading
  8494. this please take note - treating the symptom does not always equal
  8496. finding the cure.<br>
  8498. </p>
  8500. <p>I know several of you have already found out about this from the
  8502. blogoshpere and other contacts and I truly appreciate all of the
  8504. prayers, thoughts, e-mails ands other messages my family and I have
  8506. received at this time. To be honest I am still in shock but slowly
  8508. getting my energy back to prepare me for my road to recovery. I'm
  8510. hoping it's not too long a road but there remain so many unknowns only
  8512. time will really tell. Please do keep sending me those e-mails they
  8514. really help - sometimes even surrounded by family and friends one can
  8516. feel very alone at a time like this and knowing that you are all out
  8518. there cheering me on is giving me amazing strength. It's also somewhat
  8520. surreal, to have been following the courageous fight of Robert Jordan
  8522. (see my prior posting) against a truly evil disease to now find myself
  8524. in the middle of my own fight.<br>
  8526. </p>
  8528. <p>Finally, as several people have asked about it, I have turned on the <a href="">Guest Book</a> at this web site. Please do feel free to leave us a message if you are soon inclined.<br>
  8530. </p>
  8532. <p>My wife Lorna has been a rock by my side through this. It all came
  8534. out of
  8536. the blue and we have shared&nbsp; a fair amount of tears together&nbsp;
  8538. but we are feeling stronger now and ready to start out on the road
  8540. towards getting me cured. My kids are doing OK but not great. Jack
  8542. (he's
  8544. 5) is actually fine. We told him daddy will get better and due to his
  8546. nature he just accepted that and keeps on trucking. He is&nbsp; however
  8548. mad at me that the doctor won't let him have my colon in a jar for show
  8550. and tell at school (go figure!). My daughter, Robyn (she is 9) has
  8552. taken this hard. She is blessed with about 500% of the empathy found in
  8554. an average person. This can be both a blessing and a curse. She has
  8556. figured everything out very quickly and she is hurting. We are taking
  8558. steps to make sure she gets what
  8560. she needs to get through this too.</p>
  8562. <p>I will keep responding to e-mails as quickly as I can but I will also post a message here whenever there is any news to share.<br>
  8564. </p>
  8566. <p>I have always felt one of my greatest gifts in life is having so
  8568. many wonderful friends and family around the World. Thanks for sticking
  8570. with me through this.I need you all.</p>
  8572. <p>Kelvin<br>
  8575. ]]>
  8576. </description>
  8577. <pubDate>Wed, 10 Oct 2007 11:04:00 CDT</pubDate>
  8578. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8579. </item>
  8584. <item>
  8585. <title>Robert Jordan</title>
  8586. <category domain="">books</category>
  8587. <link></link>
  8588. <description>
  8589. <![CDATA[
  8590. I <a href="">read with great sadness</a> today, that James Oliver Rigney, Jr. (known to most of us by his pen name of <a href="">Robert Jordan</a>), author of the extremely popular <a href="">Wheel of Time</a>
  8592. series of books has died. He had been fighting illness for some time
  8594. and I had been following his blog and always hoping for good news.
  8596. Sadly today the news is that he has lost his battle.<br>
  8598. <br>
  8600. His books
  8602. have kept me company on many a long plane ride and I have met many
  8604. others while traveling who were also carrying copies of his books.<br>
  8606. <br>
  8608. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.
  8611. ]]>
  8612. </description>
  8613. <pubDate>Mon, 17 Sep 2007 10:37:00 CDT</pubDate>
  8614. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8615. </item>
  8619. <item>
  8620. <title>I'm still way behind</title>
  8621. <category domain="">miscellaneous</category>
  8622. <link></link>
  8623. <description>
  8624. <![CDATA[
  8625. Despite my best intentions, I am still way behind in my postings
  8627. here. I am managing to keep several of the other sections up to date
  8629. and I really am hoping to get back to a regimen of regular postings
  8631. here soon.&nbsp; We have crammed a lot of interesting activities into
  8633. the Summer break but I have to confess that now that the kids are both
  8635. back at school things do feel a little calmer around here and hopefully
  8637. that will let me get back to my long planned web site overhaul.
  8639. However, with both kids now playing soccer (both insisted they would
  8641. only play if I helped coach), a lot of my free time after work and at
  8643. the weekends is taken up with that. We have practices three nights a
  8645. week and games every Saturday and even a few on Sunday! For those
  8647. interested in my work activities, I have been making some (fairly
  8649. regular) postings to my <a href="">work blog</a>. One of the things I have managed to do over the Summer is make more time for <a href="">reading</a> which has been particularly nice.<span style="font-weight: bold;"><br>
  8651. </span>
  8653. ]]>
  8654. </description>
  8655. <pubDate>Sun, 16 Sep 2007 23:00:00 CDT</pubDate>
  8656. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8657. </item>
  8661. <item>
  8662. <title>Watching Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-117) launch</title>
  8663. <category domain="">travel</category>
  8664. <category>space</category>
  8665. <category>science</category>
  8666. <category>travel</category>
  8667. <link></link>
  8668. <description>
  8669. <![CDATA[
  8670. I am way behind in my updates here, so over the next week or so
  8672. I am going to try and get caught up. What better way to start than with
  8674. a brief description of attending a Space Shuttle launch!
  8675. <br>
  8677. I felt both extremely lucky and privileged to be able to attend the
  8679. launch of
  8681. Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-117) a few days ago on June 8th. It was
  8683. even more fun to have been able to have my wife and kids with me.
  8685. Hopefully this is something that my kids will never forget. I know I
  8687. won't.<br>
  8689. <br>
  8691. I used to live in
  8693. South Florida (about 200 miles from the Cape) and I have seen several
  8695. launches from there. However, from that far away, you only see the
  8697. Shuttle on very clear days and only when it has climbed fairly high
  8699. into the sky. By pure chance, I found myself able to be at the Cape for
  8701. the recent launch and seeing a it up close is just waaaay better! <br>
  8703. <br>
  8705. I
  8707. was in Orlando for a short vacation with the family and had not even
  8709. realized that a launch was planned anytime soon. When we heard that the
  8711. launch was scheduled for 7:38pm on Friday evening (June 8th) and that
  8713. there was an 80% chance of good weather,
  8715. we decided the chance it and drive the 60 miles out to the Cape. The
  8717. roads were very busy, clearly a few other people had the same idea
  8719. :-)&nbsp;
  8721. The whole way there and the whole time we were waiting for the launch,
  8723. I kept saying to myself&nbsp; "try not to get excited, something will
  8725. probably delay the launch, this probably won't happen today" - but
  8727. could not hold back a sense of great excitement and it did launch!<br>
  8729. <br>
  8731. <img style="width: 418px; height: 556px;" alt="Atlantis blasts into space" title="Atlantis blasts into space" src="" align="left" hspace="20"></img><br>
  8733. We watched the launch from
  8735. the lawn alongside the Astronaut Hall of Fame which is about 8 or 9
  8737. miles from the launch pad (on the mainland side of the causeway). We
  8739. got there several hours early but NASA did an excellent job of keeping
  8741. us both informed and entertained during the wait for launch. They had a
  8743. big screen setup with up close shots of the launch preparations and
  8745. they also had a stage setup. Former Shuttle Astronaut <a href="">Col. Bob Springer </a>made
  8747. several appearances on the stage and spoke to us about where things
  8749. were in the launch. He also took questions (many from young children)
  8751. and answered them all very well. What a great role model he was (if
  8753. only other people kids look up to were such good advocates for
  8755. believing in your dreams). NASA also had setup a food tent, toilets,
  8757. and gave everyone who had paid the small fee to park and attend the
  8759. launch there unlimited access to the Hall of Fame and Museum (which my
  8761. wife and I and the kids really enjoyed).<br>
  8763. <br>
  8765. The picture below shows pretty much the view
  8767. we had. Not knowing there was any chance this might happen when we left
  8769. home for our vacation, I had left all of my bulky long lenses behind so this was taken
  8771. with my small 35-90mm lens but it still captures the moment pretty
  8773. well. Unfortunately there were two launch pads visible and I had
  8775. positioned myself with a great view of the wrong one! Right before
  8777. launch I heard that the Shuttle was actually on the launchpad behind
  8779. the tree (and power lines) that were right in front of me - but hey - I
  8781. was not looking for a professional shot, just a few great memories and
  8783. we sure got that. The only thing that this picture cannot convey is the
  8785. sound wave that we both heard and felt a few seconds after launch.<br>
  8787. <br>
  8789. <div style="text-align: justify;"><br>
  8791. </div>
  8793. There was great feeling of community during the wait and the few
  8795. thousand of us there all counted out loud for the final few seconds
  8797. before ignition. There was also a noticeable moment of quiet when
  8799. Atlantis reached the point in it's takeoff where Challenger had
  8801. suffered the malfunction that none of us will ever forget.<br>
  8803. <br>
  8805. As I said at the start of this posting, I felt both lucky and privileged to be part of this experience -&nbsp; WOW!<br>
  8807. ]]>
  8808. </description>
  8809. <pubDate>Mon, 18 Jun 2007 09:00:00 CDT</pubDate>
  8810. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8811. </item>
  8814. <item>
  8815. <title>Things that make me feel old #27</title>
  8816. <category domain="">travel</category>
  8817. <category>kids</category>
  8818. <link></link>
  8819. <description>
  8820. <![CDATA[
  8821. During the mid 1980's while I was at university and during the late 80's
  8822. on into the early 90's while enjoying having a real job for the first time
  8823. and a bit of money to spend I was quite a big collector of music CDs
  8824. (which at the time were fairly new and we still called them albums!).
  8825. Consequently, I have a fairly large and extremely diverse CD collection
  8826. covering most forms of music popular during those years.  I'm already
  8827. feeling old as a large chunk of what I bought back then is now only played
  8828. on radio stations that include the word "Classic" in the name but this
  8829. week I found myself feeling even older - want to know why?  Read on...
  8831. One band I was really into during my university years (and before) was The
  8832. <a href="">Electric Light Orchestra</a> (E.L.O).  I think I own all of their albums on
  8833. both vinyl (many bought during the 70's) and on CD .  I even (I think)
  8834. still have a few cassettes of theirs laying around as well (yeah I know
  8835. that's pretty hard core).  I had not listened to much E.L.O stuff for a
  8836. while but this week I felt like listening to a few of the early E.L.O
  8837. albums while working.  For some reason I decided to (foolishley I now
  8838. realize) <a href="">look up</a> on the web when "Face the Music" by said E.L.O (which I
  8839. was listening to at the time) was recorded.  Well the answer, if you can
  8840. believe this, is 1975.  Can it really be that long ago?  32 years?  Wow!
  8842. I think I'm gonna go listen to one of my Cold Play CDs for a while.  When
  8843. I look up when they were recorded I feel much younger again (and a bit
  8844. more with it as well!!!)
  8845. ]]>
  8846. </description>
  8847. <pubDate>Fri, 20 Apr 2007 18:02:00 CDT</pubDate>
  8848. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8849. </item>
  8851. <item>
  8852. <title>Spring Break, DST comes early, and other updates</title>
  8853. <category domain="">travel</category>
  8854. <category>kids</category>
  8855. <link></link>
  8856. <description>
  8857. <![CDATA[
  8858. <p>Things have been very busy both at work and home. As a result I have not posted
  8859. here (to the home page) for a while. I have been keeping some of the other sections
  8860. of the site updated but I still have a lot of updates that I need to make waiting in
  8861. the queue. Work wise I have been traveling quite a bit (just inside the US so far).
  8862. On one of the trips (a week in the Raleigh Durham area) I passed over the 2 million
  8863. mile mark in the American Airlines frequent flier program on the way home. While a
  8864. lot of my colleagues fly substantially more than I do, this was still a stark reminder
  8865. of just how much I have been traveling the last few years. I am more than ready for
  8866. the amount of travel to slow down. Sadly, travel is the price I pay for choosing to
  8867. live in a place that is remote from many of my co-workers and customers.</p>
  8869. <p>While on the subject of travel, last week I had to go to Chicago for the day to
  8870. attend some meetings. It was amazing to see the difference that a few hundred
  8871. miles makes to weather conditions (Chicago is just under 1000 miles from here).
  8872. I left Austin at 6:00am on a beautiful clear sunny day (the high that day was
  8873. in the high 70's F). When we landed in Chicago it was a scene from mid-Winter.
  8874. Frozen lakes, snow, planes being de-iced and a high temperature of 29 degrees
  8875. Fahrenheit. This was a good reminder of why I live as far south as I do! I got
  8876. back to Austin around 11pm the same day - tired but happy to be back in warmer
  8877. climes!</p>
  8879. <p>The other reason that I have been posting a bit less here than usual is that
  8880. I have started working on a prototype for a completely re-designed look for
  8881. this site. My goal is to switch over to that later in the year (yes it's time
  8882. for the pink to go!).</p>
  8884. <p>We have had drought conditions for a long time now as well as some fairly warm
  8885. temperatures. In fact it's been sufficiently warm that the temperature of the
  8886. water in the pool has been hovering around 70 degrees (Fahrenheit) for the last few
  8887. weeks without needing to use the heater. I think I was the first one in the pool in
  8888. mid February aided by the fact that I have a very high tolerance for cold water. I
  8889. think this is due to growing up in England where the English Channel was often this
  8890. cold even in the midst of Summer! Both kids have also now been swimming several times
  8891. now, but Lorna has yet to &quot;take the plunge&quot; !</p>
  8893. <p>This weekend in the US, we switched over to Daylight Savings Time. This is
  8894. considerably earlier than usual due to a change in the law that came into effect
  8895. this year. I spent most of Sunday morning making sure that all of the computers
  8896. and other electronic devices in the house had realized the time has changed. For
  8897. the next few weeks we find ourselves only 5 hours behind the UK which will make
  8898. working with my colleagues there just a little bit easier. Of course getting the
  8899. kids out of bed while it is still dark outside is not so easy (that's the downside
  8900. of starting DST so early!).</p>
  8902. <p>In the sporting world, this week sees the start of the Cricket World Cup. I'm keeping
  8903. my expectations extremely low for England's chances but of course I wish the team all
  8904. the best as they head into this two month long event. Hopefully the successes they
  8905. enjoyed towards the end of the recent tour of Australia will give them some momentum
  8906. going into this competition. As with the football World Cup, one of the interesting
  8907. dynamics is that as well as the big name cricketing nations you also get some other
  8908. countries playing in the event that are not known for their cricketing prowess. It
  8909. will be interesting to see if we get any surprises. What odds for a Scotland vs Holland
  8910. final I wonder ? :-)</p>
  8912. <p>This week the kids are off school for Spring Break so, naturally, drought
  8913. notwithstanding, it's pouring with rain and supposed to be wet until at least
  8914. Wednesday.</p>
  8916. <p>Anyway, that's the update for now. I will try and get into a more regular pattern
  8917.  of posting over the next few months.</p>
  8918. ]]>
  8919. </description>
  8920. <pubDate>Mon, 12 Mar 2007 10:15:00 CST</pubDate>
  8921. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8922. </item>
  8925. <item>
  8926. <title>The downside of working from home - no ice day!</title>
  8927. <category domain="">travel</category>
  8928. <category>kids</category>
  8929. <link></link>
  8930. <description>
  8931. Wherever you are reading this I hope that your year is off to a good
  8932. start.  I took a large part of December off to recharge the batteries
  8933. after a very busy 2006.  Consequently I have not posted here at all since
  8934. early December.  The new year for me is already off to a busy start but at
  8935. least I feel somewhat rested and ready to go.  Over the holiday period in
  8936. the Austin area we had a mix of warm,cold and wet weather.  The new year
  8937. has started in much the same way.  It was 75 degrees Fahrenheit here last
  8938. Friday but since then it has become quite cold.  Today we awoke to
  8939. temperatures in the low 20's Fahrenheit with a mix of ice, freezing rain,
  8940. sleet and snow.  A few minutes ago we had about 30 minutes of snow but not
  8941. enough for the kids to have a good snowball fight.  Around here the kids
  8942. don't see snow very ofter so as soon as it starts they all run outdoors .
  8943. I think the last time we had any snow that settled was in 2004 and even
  8944. then it only stayed on the ground for a few hours.  The weather forecast I
  8945. just listened to says we could see a few inches of snow before the week is
  8946. over.  All of the area schools are closed and most businesses are shut and
  8947. I just looked at the airport website and am really glad I am not trying to
  8948. fly anywhere today.  This is definitely a day for not going anywhere if
  8949. you can avoid it.  Those who live in colder climes would be taking a day
  8950. like this in their stride but this far South the place basically grinds to
  8951. a halt when we get a rare day of real Winter.  So while many people are
  8952. enjoying an "ice day" off work - yours truly is at his desk working away
  8953. as usual.  I work from home a lot but one of the few downsides is that
  8954. when we have a really bad weather day I can't say "sorry I can't look at
  8955. that today as the office is closed".  That said we have started having
  8956. some power and gas outages and that could certainly slow me down a bit.
  8958. &lt;p&gt;I'd like to express my best wishes to all my many friends and
  8959. colleagues around the World for a safe and prosperous 2007.  I hope I'll
  8960. get to meet many of you during my travels in the coming months.
  8962. </description>
  8963. <pubDate>Tue, 16 Jan 2007 13:15:00 CST</pubDate>
  8964. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8965. </item>
  8968. <item>
  8969. <title>Taking time to reflect and be grateful</title>
  8970. <category domain="">travel</category>
  8971. <category>kids</category>
  8972. <link></link>
  8973. <description>
  8974. As another year winds down, I find myself reflecting on the fact that
  8975. I have a lot to be thankful for. My wife, my kids, a stable job, many
  8976. wonderful friends and family members all over the World. Wherever you
  8977. may be reading this, I wish you all the very best for 2007.
  8978. </description>
  8979. <pubDate>Sun, 31 Dec 2006 22:48:00 CST</pubDate>
  8980. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8981. </item>
  8983. <item>
  8984. <title>&quot;Beam me up...err...Anthony&quot;</title>
  8985. <category domain="">travel</category>
  8986. <category>kids</category>
  8987. <link></link>
  8988. <description>
  8989. Over the weekend I was with my wife and kids in a store looking at a large
  8990. display of Christmas tree ornaments.  There was the usual collection of
  8991. novelty ornaments to hang on your Christmas tree.  Among them was a Star
  8992. Trek one showing Kirk, Spock and Scotty standing in the transporter.  My
  8993. son, on spotting this one unpromted by me, says, &quot;Dad, let's buy that one,
  8994.'s the Wiggles&quot;.
  8995. </description>
  8996. <pubDate>Mon, 11 Dec 2006 08:18:00 CST</pubDate>
  8997. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  8998. </item>
  9000. <item>
  9001. <title>Welcome to my new home!</title>
  9002. <category domain="">travel</category>
  9003. <category>miscellaneous</category>
  9004. <link></link>
  9005. <description>
  9006. <![CDATA[
  9007. If you are reading this message you have already found me at my new home!
  9008. <br><br>I created this web site in the Summer of 2004. At that time it was
  9010. mostly done to give me a way to experiment with different aspects of
  9012. building a site and to allow me to post a few articles of
  9014. interest to friends and family around the World. Until this week I was
  9016. using the limited web site hosting service offered by my ISP, which has
  9018. served me well enough until now. However, I have finally reached the
  9020. point where I can no longer work towards building the type of site that
  9022. I ultimately want to build within the constraints imposed by my ISP.
  9024. They only give me 5mb of disk space and do not allow any server side
  9026. scripts (including things like PHP) to run. As I look back at the site
  9028. and how it has evolved over the last few years, I am actually amazed
  9030. how much I have been able to cram in to that 5mb allocation. This week
  9032. I signed up with a real hosting company and I now have more disk space
  9034. at my disposal than I know what to do with (at least for now!). This
  9036. will allow me to upload a lot more photos and also (over time) to
  9038. enable more features than I have been able to in the past. I also
  9040. finally got around to registering the "" domain as
  9042. part of this fairly major upgrade. Initially the new site will look a
  9044. lot like the old one but over time I hope to add a lot more
  9046. they say..."watch this space".<br>
  9048. <br>
  9050. While migrating everything over to the new hosting company and the new
  9052. domain name I have tried to be very careful and adjust any links so
  9054. that they correctly reference the new site and not the old one. If you
  9056. come across any broken links with the new site please do let me know.<br>
  9058. ]]>
  9059. </description>
  9060. <pubDate>Wed, 06 Dec 2006 16:51:00 CST</pubDate>
  9061. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9062. </item>
  9064. <item>
  9065. <title>Here we go again...that crazy Texas weather!</title>
  9066. <category domain="">travel</category>
  9067. <category>miscellaneous</category>
  9068. <link></link>
  9069. <description>
  9070. <![CDATA[
  9071. <p>Yesterday evening before we went to bed it was in the low 70's Fahrenheit
  9072. and during the day the temperature had been up as high as 80 degrees. Overnight
  9073. a very strong cold front came in and we awoke to find ice on the windows and
  9074. temperatures down in the 20's. I have written here many times about the crazy
  9075. Texas weather but you never quite get used to it. Yesterday we sent the kids to
  9076. school in shorts and t-shirts and today we sent them off in heavy coats
  9077. and sweaters! Along with cold front last night we had an interesting selection
  9078. of severe weather alerts (hail, wind, thunder storms, tornadoes) that kept the
  9079. program on my PC that monitors the weather chirping out warnings all night.
  9081. <p>I have been maintaining my effort to keep up with my reading.  This
  9082. month I read Tom Clancy's <b><i>The Bear and the Dragon</i></b> (all 1100
  9083. plus pages of it) which I enjoyed a lot.  I also read <b><i>The Partner</i></b>
  9084. by John Grisham which I also thoroughly enjoyed. I am now reading <b><i>Deception
  9085. Point</i></b> by Dan Brown and <b><i>Hyperion</i></b> by Dan Simmons.
  9086. When it comes to books, one of my bad habits is that I tend to buy them
  9087. in batches and then go back and read them.  The net result of this is that
  9088. some books have sat on my bokshelves for a very long time before I get
  9089. around to reading them.  <b><i>Hyperion</i></b> is a prime example, as I bought it while
  9090. still living in tyhe UK back in 1990 and I am only now getting around to
  9091. reading it in November 2006!
  9092. <p>Last week the kids were sick and this week I have been very much under
  9093. the weather as well but other than that things at home are going well.
  9094. The pool project is coming along quite nicely (I'll try and upload some
  9095. photos soon) and what looked like a large muddy hole in the ground a few
  9096. weeks ago is now starting to look a lot more like a swimming pool as each
  9097. day passes.  If the weather cooperates, I am hoping it might be finished
  9098. and ready for water in about two or three weeks.
  9100. <p>I would be remiss in posting this update if I did not comment on the
  9101. Ashes series that has just got underway in Australia.  If any of my
  9102. Australian friends and colleagues are reading this, what can I say, it
  9103. looks like revenge may well be yours unless things change drastically
  9104. after England's less than stellar performance in the first test!!  That
  9105. said, back in 2005, I recall feeling like this after Australia easily won
  9106. the first test at Lords so maybe history can and will repeat itself -
  9107. we'll have to wait and see.  Either way, I hope it's another great series
  9108. and as much fun to watch as the 2005 one was.  Keeping up with the matches
  9109. is hard from here in the U.S.  The coverage starts at around 6pm in the
  9110. evening here (which is not too bad considering that equates to midnight
  9111. for those following the matches in the U.K.) but almost all of the regular
  9112. internet feeds are blacked out due to licensing restrictions. The second test
  9113. starts this evening (Friday morning for those in Australia) and I'll be doing
  9114. my best to follow along and hopefully will not be made to suffer as much as I was a few
  9115. days ago listening to Australia make record scores at the Gabba.
  9116. ]]>
  9117. </description>
  9118. <pubDate>Thu, 30 Nov 2006 23:26:00 CDT</pubDate>
  9119. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9120. </item>
  9123. <item>
  9124. <title>Miscellaneous notes from a busy week</title>
  9125. <category domain="">travel</category>
  9126. <category>miscellaneous</category>
  9127. <link></link>
  9128. <description>
  9129. <![CDATA[
  9130. <p>Most weeks are busy these days between work and family commitments and this
  9131. week was no exception. Several days I stayed up late (and into the next day) to
  9132. dial into some business meetings in Asia (but that was better than having to travel
  9133. there given how crazy things have been at home).
  9134. <p>In spite of how busy life has been, I have made a promise to myself that I
  9135. will somehow find more time to read
  9136. than I have been managing of late.  This week I managed
  9137. to read a couple of fairly short books.  The first was <b><i>Digital
  9138. Fortress</i></b> by Dan Brown and the second was the <b><i>Great Train
  9139. Robbery</i></b> by Michael Crichton.  I enjoyed both and found it easy
  9140. to get through them but neither were in
  9141. my opinion that great.  If you look at my <a href="">Books and
  9142. Magazines</a> page you will see that I gave each book a score of 7 out of
  9143. 10.  <b><i>Digital Fortress</b></i> is the third of the four Dan Brown
  9144. books currently in print that I have read.  The other two being <b><i>Angels and
  9145. Demons</b></i> and <b><i>The DaVinci Code</i></b>.  Of the three I enjoyed <b><i>Angels and Demons</b></i>
  9146. the most. His other book <b><i>Deception Point</i></b> is in my queue of
  9147. books sitting next to my desk waiting to be read.
  9148. <b><i>The Great Train Robbery</i></b> is one of Crichton's first books (written
  9149. I think in 1974). To be honest I didn't know it even existed until
  9150. I saw it in a discount rack at the local supermarket a couple of weeks
  9151. ago. Given my background (being born and raised myself in the UK) I picked up a
  9152. copy as it looked like a storyline that I would enjoy. To be honest, it reads as
  9153. much as a history book as it does a novel but it was none the less quite
  9154. readable.
  9155. I enjoyed his portrayal of events in Victorian England around the middle of the
  9156. 19th Century and found it easy to relate to the period having studied it in detail
  9157. while at school. The book was enjoyable enough but not as compelling a read as
  9158. some of his other works. I guess, for me, it was a bit like watching the movie
  9159. &quot;Titanic&quot;, you already know the punchline before you get there, which for me,
  9160. has never worked as well as a style of storytelling as one where suspense is
  9161. maintained until the final chapter.
  9162. <p>
  9163. Other than being busy and finding time for a bit more reading, there has not been
  9164. too much of note to report this week (which is just fine). We had quite a bit
  9165. of rain during the week and so there has not been any progress made on the pool. The
  9166. weather has been the usual mixed bag for this time of the year. A cool front (the tail
  9167. end of a storm that left 18 inches of snow in Colorado earlier in the week) finally
  9168. came in last night and we haven't yet quite managed to reach 70 Fahrenheit here today.
  9169. It's also been quite windy here all day. The forecast is good for the weekend
  9170. so hopefully I can spend a lot of time outdoors with the family and the dogs.
  9171. <p>Finally, the dreaded annual test of willpower (also known as &quot;how the heck
  9172. am I going to stop myself eating too much Halloween candy?&quot;) is just a few
  9173. days away. Luckily I have a soccer game on Sunday to try and run off a few calories first!
  9174. ]]>
  9175. </description>
  9176. <pubDate>Fri, 27 Oct 2006 11:21:00 CDT</pubDate>
  9177. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9178. </item>
  9181. <item>
  9182. <title>Kakuro puzzles, the new pool and other miscellany</title>
  9183. <category domain="">travel</category>
  9184. <category>miscellaneous</category>
  9185. <link></link>
  9186. <description>
  9187. <![CDATA[
  9188. Towards the end of last year I got quite hooked on Sudoku puzzles for a
  9189. while. They can be quite addictive. I ended up writing a small computer
  9190. program in Java that solved them and that helped cure me of that particular
  9191. addiction! Recently while checking
  9192. out at my local grocery store I spotted (and bought) a new book
  9193. of <a href="">Kakuro</a> (also
  9194. known as Cross Sum) puzzles. Although I believe that these puzzles are quite
  9195. popular I had not come across them before. In my spare time I have been trying
  9196. to teach myself the Python programming language and so last weekend I decided
  9197. to write a Python program to help solve Kakuro puzzles! I decided not to
  9198. let the program fully solve the puzzles but to be more of a solver's aid (listing possible
  9199. combinations of numbers that achieve the desired sum etc.). So for now the
  9200. Kakuro puzzle book is remaining a fairly regular companion!
  9201. <p>Life at home has been very busy (I think we've
  9202. visited just about every flavour of kids doctor and dentist in the last two weeks!)
  9203. and so I haven't been able to update the
  9204. pages here too much lately. You may have noticed that I have been trying to
  9205. keep up with <a href="" >my reading</a> and I just
  9206. finished <b><i>World War: In the balance</i></b> by Harry Turtledove which was a good read.
  9207. I'm grateful to my friend Roger for introducing me to this author, whose work
  9208. I had not read before.
  9209. <p>Meanwhile, we finally broke down, after living here for 10 years, and
  9210. decided to put in a pool. Today I am working from home with all the windows
  9211. shut (despite the nice cool weather) as the guys are outside spraying the
  9212. <a href="">gunite</a>. There is so much vibration
  9213. that my car alarm goes off about once every 10 minutes! Yesterday it was almost
  9214. 90 degrees Fahrenheit here but today (after a cold front came through last night)
  9215. we are in the 50's....I don't think we'll be using the new pool for a while!
  9216. ]]>
  9217. </description>
  9218. <pubDate>Thu, 19 Oct 2006 11:21:00 CDT</pubDate>
  9219. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9220. </item>
  9222. <item>
  9223. <title>Google Gadgets</title>
  9224. <category domain="">travel</category>
  9225. <category>web</category>
  9226. <link></link>
  9227. <description>
  9228. I was interested to see the announcement by Google yesterday that they
  9229. are making their Google Gadgets available so that people can embed them
  9230. (via a simple script tag) in their own web pages.
  9231. This is particularly interesting for people like myself, whose web sites
  9232. are hosted by their ISP with limited space and features enabled (as in my
  9233. case).If you missed the announcement you can find
  9234. it
  9235. <![CDATA[
  9236. <a href="">here</a>.
  9237. The list of available gadgets is <a href=";num=24">here</a>.
  9238. ]]>
  9239. </description>
  9240. <pubDate>Mon, 09 Oct 2006 13:13:00 CDT</pubDate>
  9241. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9242. </item>
  9245. <item>
  9246. <title>Has Autumn finally arrived in Central Texas?</title>
  9247. <category domain="">travel</category>
  9248. <category>texas</category>
  9249. <category>weather</category>
  9250. <link></link>
  9251. <description>
  9252. We awoke this morning to temparatures in the 50's Fahrenheit.  It's
  9253. wonderful to be able to open all the windows again and let in some truly
  9254. fresh air.  This Summer we have endured in excess of 30 days where the
  9255. temparature was over 100F.  It's supposed to warm up into the high 70's or
  9256. even mid 80's by mid afternoon but at least the evenings and mornings
  9257. should be cooler for the next few days.  We had a very strong storm front
  9258. go through this area on Saturday (it was severe enough to cause the
  9259. Univerity of Texas to suspend play in it's football game for over an
  9260. hour).  Now that the storm has passed through we are getting our first
  9261. real relief from what has been a very hot Summer.
  9262. </description>
  9263. <pubDate>Mon, 25 Sep 2006 12:10:00 CDT</pubDate>
  9264. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9265. </item>
  9268. <item>
  9269. <title>A long week on the road and now two weeks off</title>
  9270. <category domain="">travel</category>
  9271. <category>conferences</category>
  9272. <link></link>
  9273. <description>
  9274. Last week I travelled to Baltimore to speak at the
  9275. SHARE conference.  I
  9276. left home before dawn on Sunday (August 13th) to get to the airport in
  9277. plenty of time given the new security procedures in effect.  Apart from it
  9278. taking longer than usual to check-in (due to a lot more passengers than
  9279. normal checking bags) I did not encounter any other unexpected delays.
  9280. Given the recent events in the UK, I was happy to see that the planes were
  9281. full and that the airports were busy - people are just getting on with
  9282. life, which is good to see.  I arrived in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon and
  9283. left on Thursday afternoon for New York to attend some business meetings
  9284. at our corporate headquarters before finally flying home from New York
  9285. (via Chicago) on Friday evening. I did not have as much spare time in
  9286. Baltimore as I would have liked but I did at least get to walk around the
  9287. harbour and take some photographs. It was hot and at times quite humid
  9288. during the week. I didn't sleep well at all in Baltimore. I think my
  9289. hotel must have been either close to a fire station or a police station
  9290. as all night I kept getting woken up by one siren after another.
  9291. From Baltimore I travelled to New York for some meetings on Friday (I actually
  9292. got off in Stamford CT as it was more convenient for my friend who
  9293. met me at the station). I travelled by
  9294. train for the first time in a while in the US as it was both cheaper
  9295. and more convenient than flying for that particular leg of my trip.
  9296. I have to say it was a
  9297. very pleasant experience.  I took the new Acela Express service that
  9298. Amtrak runs between Washington DC and Boston.  I would definitely take
  9299. this train again.  It was very comfortable, with plenty of space to work
  9300. and even had AC power that I could plug my laptop into.
  9301. I got the impression that a lot of people were taking the train for the
  9302. first time to avoid the travel delays being reported by many of the airports
  9303. in the North Eastern United States. The train was full.
  9304. I stayed with my friends and his family in Connecticut on
  9305. Thursday night and I slept really well (no sirens - or any other loud noises
  9306. for that matter). It was great to not have to check-in to yet another hotel
  9307. and spend the night with some good friends that I don't see as often as I would
  9308. like. I'm very grateful to them for putting me up for the night.
  9309. I got home about 1:30am Saturday morning after getting delayed in both
  9310. New York and Chicago by a mixture of bad weather and an Instrument Landing
  9311. System (ILS) failure on one of the runways at Chicago O'Hare airport.  The
  9312. weather in New York was bright and sunny but we could not leave on time
  9313. due to the problems at O'Hare.
  9314. I haven't taken much vacation time yet this year so I am taking the
  9315. next two weeks off (I'm not going back to work in fact until after the
  9316. Labor day holiday here in the US).  We're in the middle of a really bad
  9317. drought in Central Texas.  I wish some of the heavy rain I had to
  9318. deal with in Chicago last Friday would find its way here.  We have been
  9319. over 100 degrees Farenheit every day for the past week or so.  I played
  9320. soccer on Sunday afternoon (August 20th).  It was 97F when the game
  9321. started and 103F by the end of the game (yes I know, mad dogs and
  9322. Englishmen etc). My daughter went back to School last week. I still have
  9323. trouble getting used to how early the schools go back in Texas compared
  9324. to what I was used to growing up in England where August is considered the
  9325. height of Summer.
  9326. </description>
  9327. <pubDate>Fri, 25 Aug 2006 09:20:00 CDT</pubDate>
  9328. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9329. </item>
  9331. <item>
  9332. <title>Started working on updates to Family &amp; Friends section</title>
  9333. <category>miscellaneous</category>
  9334. <link></link>
  9335. <description>
  9336. For those of you that follow the
  9337. Family &amp; Friends section, after a long delay of
  9338. about seven months, I have started getting some more recent photos of the kids posted.
  9339. </description>
  9340. <pubDate>Wed, 19 Jul 2006 16:00:00 CDT</pubDate>
  9341. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9342. </item>
  9344. <item>
  9345. <title>Started working on various updates</title>
  9346. <category>miscellaneous</category>
  9347. <link></link>
  9348. <description>
  9349. Enjoying a period of almost two weeks since I last had to travel, I have
  9350. finally started making updates to many sections of the site. I still have a lot
  9351. more photos from my recent trip to Europe that I want to get on-line as soon as
  9352. possible, but if you care to look around hopefully you will notice a lot of updates.
  9353. For folks that monitor the Family &amp; Friends area I promise I will get some new
  9354. kid photos uploaded soon!
  9355. </description>
  9356. <pubDate>Sat, 15 Jul 2006 16:00:00 CST</pubDate>
  9357. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9358. </item>
  9360. <item>
  9361. <title>Finally home after a very busy June</title>
  9362. <category>travel</category>
  9363. <link></link>
  9364. <description>
  9365. June was a very busy month for me. I travelled to Europe for 15 days of
  9366. business meetings that took me to Prague, Vienna and various parts of the UK.
  9367. I did manage to see a lot of friends and family members in between meetings and
  9368. that was great. I will try over the next week or two to update the various parts
  9369. of this site with some photos and other information about my recent travels. Upon
  9370. my return from Europe I had to go out to California for a couple of days so I'll
  9371. not start working on the updates until my head gets a bit more back into the
  9372. correct timezone!
  9373. As a temporary measure, I have placed a few photos from Prague into my
  9374. <![CDATA[
  9375. <a href="">Yahoo! photo album</a>.
  9376. ]]>
  9377. Note that the resolution of the pictures is
  9378. greatly reduced from the original by the upload process but at least (hopefully)
  9379. you can get an idea of what a beautiful city Prague is.
  9380. </description>
  9381. <pubDate>Sun, 02 Jul 2006 16:00:00 CST</pubDate>
  9382. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9383. </item>
  9385. <item>
  9386. <title>A really stormy Spring in Texas></title>
  9387. <category>texas</category>
  9388. <link></link>
  9389. <description>
  9390. I have been incredibly busy at work (including quite a bit of travel)
  9391. and things at home have also been busy and as a result I have not been
  9392. able to post as often as I would like here in recent weeks. I have, however,
  9393. managed to find a little bit of time to update other sections of the site. As
  9394. has been reported in the news, May has so far been incredibly stormy in Texas. We
  9395. have had numerous Thunderstorm Warnings and Tornado Watches issued by the Weather
  9396. Service and sadly some areas of the state have suffered major damage as a result.
  9397. We have also seen a lot of hail and very heavy rain. Mixed in with this it has been
  9398. very hot. Just south of Austin, it hit 106F yesterday. Today it was cooler when we
  9399. woke up as a light cold front moved through the area over night. Certainly a pleasant
  9400. break from the recent very muggy conditions. The next few days are supposed to be
  9401. more pleasant both in terms of temparature and calmer weather.
  9402. </description>
  9403. <pubDate>Thu, 11 May 2006 16:00:00 CST</pubDate>
  9404. <guid isPermaLink="false"></guid>
  9405. </item>
  9407. <item>
  9408. <title>A day at the Johnson Space Center - Houston</title>
  9409. <category>science</category>
  9410. <category>space</category>
  9411. <link></link>
  9412. <description>
  9413. As I mentioned in my prior posting, a couple of weekends ago I finally
  9414. was able to make the time to visit
  9415. the Johnson Space Center in Houston. We took one of the tours that included
  9416. a visit to one of the two former Mission Control rooms that were used during
  9417. the Apollo program. It is fascinating to think that the total computing power
  9418. in the room was about the same as that found in a modern day cell phone (at least
  9419. that is what the tour guide told us). Note also the plastic tubes on the left
  9420. side of the console. There was no e-mail in those days so if you wanted to send
  9421. a message to someone else anywhere in the building you sent a note on paper
  9422. in a tube to them through a system of pipes like those used today in many
  9423. banks and other businesses! We have come a long way since then but I bet the didn't have
  9424. the spam problem then that we have now! As I mentioned in my prior posting, if you
  9425. are at all interested in the space program's of both the US and Russia, this tour
  9426. is a must. There is another tour that takes you into the current mission control
  9427. room but we did not have the time to do that tour as well. We also got to go inside
  9428. many of the other buildings, including the one that contains the training areas for
  9429. the Space Shuttle and for Space Station Freedom.
  9431. <![CDATA[
  9432. <p>
  9433. <div ALIGN="CENTER">
  9434. <img src=""></img>
  9435. <br>