January 31, 2005
Once again, John Updike says what I feel better than I could.
is a beautiful thing - a coin
the body has minted, with an invisible motto:
In God We Trust.
Our body loves us,
and, even while the spirit drifts dreaming,
works at mending the damage that we do.
Close your eyes, knowing
that healing is a work of darkness,
that darkness is a gown of healing,
that the vessel of our tremulous venture is lifted
by tides we do not control.
Faith is health's requisite:
we have this fact in lieu
of better proof of le bon Dieu.
-from "Ode to Healing" by John Updike
To that I say only "Amen."
Popping Cancer Update: Chemo Day One
Well, I'm home. And I still have my hair. No promises there, though.
Today's treatment isn't over, the stuff is still in my veins and will be for three more days, but it could have been much worse.
No violent reactions today. This could be because the new anti-nausea drugs are so good or because day one is better than days two or three. We'll find that out tomorrow.
I was there from about 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. today, but it shouldn't take as long tomorrow. It felt longer because they were pumping fluids through me to protect my kidneys, so I ended up having to pee every 20 minutes or so. It felt like a part-time job. Professional Urinator.
I feel blechy. I don't really want to eat anything. It feels like there's a war being fought in my body, if you can imagine. The closest I can relate it to is the way you feel after a high-school soccer game: you ran for an hour and a half straight, got in a few fights and now every muscle in your body is exhausted and sore.
I imagine this is how mugging victims feel afterward.
Still, I felt that way last time as par for the course, only with the violent reactions, so I'm way ahead as I see it.
Exhausted, but way ahead.
It's 4:42 now. I have medicine for nausea should the need arise. I think I'm going to hit the sack and sleep for a long, long time. I just wanted you crazy cats and kittens to know I'm still kicking over here.
Two more days and I get three weeks off! This is, and I don't think I'm blowing it out of proportion, the absolute best I could have hoped for from a chemo treatment. Good for me.
Reason to Live #177
Video game geek alert.
X-Box Next, the second generation version of Microsoft's X-Box, is scheduled for an Autumn 2005 release. It'll be hitting the shelves in three forms: a unit without a hard drive (if you're pinching pennies), a unit with a hard drive, and a unit that also serves as a fully-functioning PC.
I own all three of the big consoles (Gamecube, Playstation 2, and X-Box) and while there are games on the other two consoles I wouldn't trade for anything, the X-Box has the best and most consistently good games on the market.
Rumor has it the games for X-Box Next will come on iPod-type cartridges, not CDs, which means no backward-compatibility.
Still, you can't argue with the power the machine will have. Take a gander at these screen stills from X-Box Next games:
Got a couple hundred thousand bucks laying around?
Here's a nice little item. Unique, too.
Whiners, fault finders and complainers need not respond.
While I'm off being sick, why not catch up on the weather?
Extra Credit if you watch the whole thing. Turn on your speaker - you won't, uh, want, um, to miss a... to miss a word.
January 30, 2005
Popping Cancer Update: Here's how it's gonna be.
I just (Sunday night at about 7:45 p.m.) had a call from my oncologist, who was eager to fill me in on the fun we're gonna have starting tomorrow morning. I have three treatments, one each Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
In addition to the side effects I'm familiar with from chemotherapy (nausea, cramping, muscle pain, fever, hair loss, yadda yadda), there are a couple new possibilities with the "medication" they're dropping in my veins tomorrow.
One is seizures. That's right, up to a couple days after each treatment, I could have seizures. Also, confusion. He didn't really explain confusion, so it might be anything from "why did I come upstairs?" to "This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife! How did I get here?"
Another fun possibility, my personal favorite, is: bleeding from my kidneys! Yes! There's a drug they'll give me for this, but no promises.
I'm getting there at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. I stay a quick and breezy SIX HOURS, then repeat for the next two days.
If not, this will put you over the edge: doc said that even if it works (and the numbers are against me, but then again, I've always beaten the odds for better and for worse in the past), it's not gonna cure anything.
That's right! Metastatic sarcoma is not curable. The best we can hope for is to knock it down and get a remission for a couple years. It's always gonna come back eventually.
This is where reputations as fighters and "strong" human beings get made. Not that we are strong, those of us who fight cancer, but that we make it day by day until something happens one way or another.
If you had told me at 18 that I would have the strength to make it through 8 years, on and off, of cancer treatments and a bone marrow transplant, I'd have thought you a fool.
But you do it one day at a time. You live today. You survive this hour. Before long, they add up.
That's the goal right now - to make it through tomorrow. If I am strong enough tomorrow evening, I'll send up a post to let you know I'm well, or at least alive. If not, I'll get the wife to do so.
Whatever you're doing Monday, be glad you're doing it.
Peace to you.
Susan Lucci Receives Walk of Fame Star
In related news, Dude, Where's My Car? wins an Oscar and William Hung nabs a Grammy.
Michael Jackson is NOT a child molester.
You have Michael Jackson's word on it.
I can quickly turn this into an uncomfortable analogy: it's like when people use BIBLE VERSES to prove that the Bible is without flaw.
Imagine if we used that logic in our daily lives. "Hey, Dan Champion is Emperor of the World. I know it's true because Dan Champion said so."
Wow, now I'm all angry. Anyway, free James Brown!
One day 'til chemotherapy!
I can hardly wait.
Don't I get presents or wishes or something? Maybe a nice "Happy Poison-In-Your-Veins-Day" cake? Roses? I should at least get a celebratory wig.
What really sucks is that it's a three-day deal, which means I'll have to put off ALL those Groundhog Day plans I had made.
Don't be sad. Just think of it as a radical new diet plan. Atkins has NOTHING on chemotherapy.
I'll be at the doctor's office at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning. If I'm able at night I'll let you know how it went. Same for days two and three.
So, if you have anything to say, confess or apologize for, now's the time.
January 29, 2005
Below are some random pictures of lightning, for my friend Julie, who likes the lightning. The last one is my favorite.
All four of these were taken by Michael Fewings.
This is worth a look.
Celebrity Baby Blog has all the poop on, well, celebrity babies.
Mrs. Popping Culture thinks Dave Letterman's baby is ADORABLE. Gush gush.
Pick a celebrity, take a gander at their baby.
Think it's cold where you are?
Be glad you aren't parked in Geneva about now...
Also robbed by the Academy
To give you an example, you will go from watching two characters murdered, one by shotgun and one by axe, directly into a dance sequence performed by the Axe Gang.
I told you this was wierd.
Well, this is huge.
The Olsen twins have split with their handler and now have complete control over their billion-dollar media empire.
You can't blame them for throwing the guy overboard. After all, is it too much to ask to have sharks with frickin' laser beams?
Two Days until chemotherapy.
I'm less giddy now.
And the cancer cure I've been working on in the basement isn't working out. I need more test monkeys and fast!
Got something to tell the world?
Then don't miss out on THIS exclusive offer! Just three days left!
Now that I have some free time, I thought I'd catch up on my paperbacks.
So do I start here...
or, most likely, here...
January 28, 2005
Since the last blonde joke went over so well...
A blonde who's down on her luck is walking through a luxurious neighbourhood looking for odd jobs to do when she approaches a large house. She goes up to the house, rings the bell and the owner comes to the door.
He asks the lady what he can do for her. The blonde tells him of her situation, that she is down on her luck and wants to know if he has any odd jobs that she could do. The man thinks about it for a second and then remembers that he has been wanting his porch painted. He asks the blonde if she paints?
The blonde says, "Sure anything."
"Well, I've been wanting my porch painted, how much would you charge?" the man replies.
"I don't know, say $50 bucks."
"Sounds good. Go ahead and get started." He closes the door and walks back inside.
His wife asks him, "Who was at the door?"
He tells her of the blonde and her situation and then told his wife that the blonde agreed to paint the porch for $50 bucks.
The astonished wife says, "$50 bucks, but that porch goes the full length of our house and then some. It will be at least a few hours job. You really should pay her more."
"But that's all she said she wanted, and anyway she's a dumb blonde!"
10 minutes later, they get a knock on the door. The man answers the door and the blonde stands there and says, "All done."
With a surprised look on his face he tells her, "I can't believe it, you're already done painting the entire porch?"
"Yes, and by the way it's not a porch it's a Ferrari."
Too darn cold.
It was 8 degrees on the way home tonight.
Somebody tell them I have cancer. When it gets this cold, I very nearly can't breathe at all and I suspect that if I stayed outside for longer than the time it takes me to get from car door to house, they would find me under the snow come Spring.
Low tonight might be around 2, they say.
That's too cold.
Now I'm off to cough myself to sleep! Huzzah for Youngstown winters!
Inspired by Ralph: one man's opinion, albeit the correct one.
Ralph mentioned something interesting in response to my post concerning this week's celebration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. He mentioned the "turn the other cheek" reference by Jesus in Matthew, and how do we justify that with what happened in Auschwitz and with modern-day jihad.
This is my comment on the improperly used "turn the other cheek" reference. Feel free to disagree, particularly if thinking about things in ways that are different from how your Sunday School teacher taught makes you uncomfortable.
In Roman culture, hitting someone with the backside of your hand was a sign of disrespect. Striking them with your open palm implied that you were confronting/challenging an equal.
When Jesus said "turn the other cheek," he didn't mean it the way we usually take it, which is "keep getting hit and be quiet about it." Remember that Jesus was killed for being a political subversive. Rome didn't care one whit about Jewish interpretations of Torah.
Jesus was suggesting that people claim at least equality with their oppressors. If someone hits you with the back of their hand and you turn your cheek, your face is facing their palm. It is a symbol of defiance, not humble servitude. It is saying "you may have more centurians right now, but we are people too, not just materiel for your profit."
It is about liberation in the face of oppression.
Besides, to me, the anniversary is not a political one and is not meant to engender political debate: it is an anniversary of liberation, which is always welcome.
Now, back to the Paris Hilton references!
Quote of the Day
"Pain is weakness leaving the body." -from a Marine Corps t-shirt
The Heaven of Animals
Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.
Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.
To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing what is required:
The richest wood,
The deepest field.
For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,
More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey
May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk
Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain
At the cycle's center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torn,
They rise, they walk again.
James Dickey 1961
I'm pretty sure calling off the game was a good idea.
Breaking Sports News!
So I guess there will be three teams in the Super Bowl this year. Should be quite a game.
January 27, 2005
I heard a good insult today, if you're in the market.
"I hate him so much it gives me energy."
AWWW... Wook at da widdle kiddie... u are such a cute widdle kiddie... yes you are... yes you are...
If you say anything bad about this cat, you will be banned from this web log for life and you will die painfully and over a LONG period of time and vultures will nip at your innards but spit you out because of the obvious taint of evil and God will punch you in the face, and I mean HARD, like as though God was a young Mike Tyson and you will end up for all eternity in the Hell of Eternally Measuring Gérard Depardieu's Inseam and it's true.
So, um, cute cat, huh?
Popping Cancer Job Update: It's okay to be sad.
Somehow we got this idea, and Christians are the absolute worst about this, that being sad or angry is a bad thing.
Whenever I post something to the effect that "Cancer is bumming me out today," I get a bunch of emails and comments to the effect of "Buck, up, little camper - God will provide! God loves you! Be happy! I'll pray that you stop being sad!"
Well, sad is an appropriate response to cancer sometimes. My doctors are all saying I have a great, healthy, positive attitude about my disease, but they are also aware that I have a potentially fatal illness that has spread far and rapidly and that sometimes I'll be less-than-joyous about that.
Sad is ok. Feeling the way you feel is ok, until it becomes destructive. I'd worry about me if I went around all day with a goofy grin and never looked at the negative consequences of cancer.
I say all that to say this: I'm sad right now.
My doctors have said I am forbidden to visit shut-ins, crowds and especially hospital patients. The dearest old lady in our church (this lady and her equally-dear husband "adopted" Stephanie and I) had a heart attack today.
I, as her pastor, couldn't visit her.
How in the world can I pretend to call myself a pastor and NOT visit people I love who are ill? Answer: I can't. I am filing for disability as soon as the denomination can get me the papers. Any trained monkey in a suit can preach. That's not my calling.
My calling came when I had cancer a long time ago and found myself, remarkably, pulling myself up the hallway by my IV pole to visit the other cancer patients who were in the same foxhole I was. I would sit with them through their treatments and sometimes just quietly BE with them.
Upon being healed, I found out that the world is full of people, all of whom are hurting in their own way. I didn't have any real pastor skills, but I hoped I could make a difference in their lives, and so here I am.
Except that now the center of my call has been taken from me.
So don't tell me God loves me. Don't tell me you'll pray that my spirits will be lifted. Don't tell me you're rooting for me.
Something central, and defining, in my life is gone, and I miss it. Just let me be sad.
Eye Candy, post-impressionist
Street in Tahiti
by Paul Gauguin
Currently in the Toledo Museum of Art
Brief biography here, which includes his time painting with Van Gogh.
Remember Debbie Gibson, from the 80s?
OOOOOO... she's an author, too!
Four short days until chemotherapy!
60 years ago today.
I still know a few folks who claim the Holocaust was a trick of propaganda. I never come so close to physical violence as I do when that comes up.
This anniversary puts me in the mind of an independent study class I did in seminary on regaining hope after unspeakable loss. Over the course of a semester, I interviewed numerous holocaust survivors, read books by and about hundreds more and worked at the Virginia Holocaust Museum briefly as a volunteer.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but what a depressing study. My conclusion was (and had to be) that people can alway regain hope, but it very often takes great lengths of time to recover from the largest traumas. There is a level of trauma that some people gained in the holocaust that was simply so great that they couldn't live long enough to regain hope. Many of these folks eventually committed suicide.
The study was useful to me as a chaplain, because people experience different levels of trauma. Also, people are different; something that doesn't bother me anymore might paralyze someone else for years emotionally.
Hope is a very precious commodity, and this day 60 years ago is a reminder.
I find this terribly interesting.
Our 90 percent friend, 10 percent bitter enemy Ara Rubyan posted a link to this post from MSNBC, which gives thumbnail sketches of some of the more important candidates in the upcoming Iraqi elections.
Sounds funny to say that: "upcoming Iraqi elections."
Still, one guy is a direct descendent of Mohammed his own self and is also a descendent of the old king (who was, of course, killed - this is still Iraq we're talking about), another is the guy who the U.S. appointed as interim P.M. (which pretty much rules him out), another is a nuclear physicist who refused to help Saddam build a nuclear bomb (so at least he WANTED one), and there is the requisite sprinkling of Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites, oh my.
Very interesting. I think this election has the same chance of coming off in a fair and orderly manner that I have of finding out lollipops cure cancer.
Today's very symbolic picture.
Symbolic of what, I don't know.
January 26, 2005
So, how are you coming with those New Year's Resolutions?
Here are Zach Braff's:
Forgo all exercise (including walking),
Learn to smoke (something thin like Capri's),
Take my loved ones for granted,
Stop washing my hands after twosies,
Laugh at babies who are late walkers,
Pull leaves off trees that appear to be flourishing,
Name the yet to be named voices in my head (something tough like Carl or Kyle)
Be less kind to bunnies,
Floss everything but my teeth,
Travel (but only around my yard and with a light carry-on)
Stop and smell the Rosens. (They're a wonderful family and absolutely compulsive about showering.)
This from his hi-larious Garden State blog. Dude gets comments in the thousands. AND he got paid for kissing Natalie Portman.
"Grab a bat and stop this rally."
My boy, Jim, reminded me about Bob Uecker's Baseball Hall of Fame induction speech from 2003. It was a riot, and if you remember Bob's delivery, it's better still.
Here you go:
Thank you, Joe, thank you very much. And thank you ladies and gentlemen. And my congratulations to Hal, Gary Carter, Eddie Murray, and to all of the members of the staff of the Hall of Fame, thank you very much. This has been a wonderful, wonderful time.
I, in deference to Hal McCoy, was asked to quit many times. I was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Actually, I was born in Illinois. My mother and father were on an oleo margarine run to Chicago back in 1934, because we couldn't get colored margarine in Wisconsin. On the way home, my mother was with child. Me. And the pains started, and my dad pulled off into an exit area, and that's where the event took place. I remember it was a nativity type setting. An exit light shining down. There were three truck drivers there. One guy was carrying butter, one guy had frankfurters, and the other guy was a retired baseball scout who told my folks that I probably had a chance to play somewhere down the line.
I remember it being very cold. It was January. I didn't weigh very much. I think the birth certificate said something like ten ounces. I was very small. And I remember the coldness on my back from the asphalt. And I was immediately wrapped in swaddling clothes and put in the back of a '37 Chevy without a heater. And that was the start of this Cinderella story that you are hearing today.
I did not have a lot of ability as a kid, and my dad wanted me to have everything that everybody else had. I think the first thing that he ever bought me was a football. And I was very young. He didn't know a lot about it, he came from the old country. I mean, we tried to pass it and throw it and kick it, and we couldn't do it. And it was very discouraging for him and for me. Almost, we almost quit. And finally we had a nice enough neighbor, came over and put some air in it, and what a difference.
I got a lot of my ability from my father. As a lot of these other guys did. My father actually came to this country as a soccer player. He didn't play, he blew up the balls is what he did. And they didn't have pumps in those days. And to see a man put that valve in his mouth and insert it into a soccer ball, and blow thirty pounds of air. And then have the ability to pull that thing out without it fracturing the back of his mouth was unbelievable. You had to see his neck and his veins popping. It was unbelievable. How proud I was as I watched him do it time after time.
My first sport was eighth grade basketball. And my dad didn't want to buy me the supporter johnny, you know, to do the job. So my mother made me one out of a flour sack. And the tough thing about that is, you put that thing on, you whip it out of your bag in the gym. You know all the guys are looking at it. And you start the game. The guy guarding you knows exactly where you're going since little specks of flour keep dropping out. And then right down the front it says "Pillsbury's Best."
I signed a very modest $3,000 bonus with the Braves in Milwaukee, which I'm sure a lot of you know. And my old man didn't have that kind of money to put out. But the Braves took it. I remember sitting around our kitchen table counting all this money, coins out of jars, and I'm telling my dad, "Forget this, I don't want to play." He said, "No, you are going to play baseball. We are going to have you make some money, and we're going to live real good." My dad had an accent, I want to be real authentic when I'm doing this thing. So I signed. The signing took place at a very popular restaurant in Milwaukee. And I remember driving, and my dad's all fired up and nervous, and I said, "Look, it will be over in a couple of minutes. Don't be uptight." We pull in the parking lot, pull next to the Braves automobile, and my dad screwed up right away. He doesn't have the window rolled up far enough and our tray falls off and all the food is on the floor. And from there on it was baseball.
Starting with the Braves in Milwaukee, St. Louis, where I won the World's Championship for them in 1964, to the Philadelphia Phillies and back to the Braves in Atlanta where I became Phil Niekro's personal chaser. But during every player's career there comes a time when you know that your services are no longer required, that you might be moving on. Traded, sold, released ,whatever it may be. And having been with four clubs, I picked up a few of these tips. I remember Gene Mauch doing things to me at Philadelphia. I'd be sitting there and he'd say, "Grab a bat and stop this rally." Send me up there without a bat and tell my to try for a walk. Look down at the first base coach for a sign and have him turn his back on you.
But you know what? Things like that never bothered me. I'd set records that will never be equaled, 90 percent I hope are never printed: .200 lifetime batting average in the major leagues which tied me with another sports great averaging 200 or better for a ten-year period, Don Carter, one of our top bowlers.
In 1967 I set a major league record for passed balls, and I did that without playing every game. There was a game, as a matter of fact, during that year when Phil Niekro's brother and he were pitching against each other in Atlanta. Their parents were sitting right behind home plate. I saw their folks that day more than they did the whole weekend.
But with people like Niekro, and this was another thing, I found the easy way out to catch a knuckleball. It was to wait until it stopped rolling and then pick it up. There were a lot of things that aggravated me, too. My family is here today. My boys, my girls. My kids used to do things that aggravate me, too. I'd take them to the game and they'd want to come home with a different player. I remember one of my friends came to Atlanta to see me once. He came to the door, he says, "Does Bob Uecker live here?" He says, "Yeah, bring him in." But my two boys are just like me. In their championship little league game, one of them struck out three times and the other one had an error allowed the winning run to score. They lost the championship, and I couldn't have been more proud. I remember the people as we walked through the parking lot throwing eggs and rotten stuff at our car. What a beautiful day.
You know, everybody remembers their first game in the major leagues. For me it was in Milwaukee. My hometown, born and raised there, and I can remember walking out on the field and Birdie Tebbetts was our manager at that time. And my family was there: my mother and dad, and all my relatives. And as I'm standing on the field, everybody's pointing at me and waving and laughing, and I'm pointing back. And Birdie Tebbetts came up and asked me if I was nervous or uptight about the game. And I said, "I'm not. I've been waiting five years to get here. I'm ready to go."
He said, "Well, we're gonna start you today. I didn't want to tell you earlier. I didn't want you to get too fired up."
I said, "Look, I'm ready to go."
He said, "Well, great, you're in there. And oh, by the by, the rest of us up here wear that supporter on the inside." That was the first game my folks walked out on, too.
But you know, of all of the things that I've done, this has always been number one, baseball. The commercials, the films, the television series, I could never wait for everything to get over to get back to baseball. I still, and this is not sour grapes by any means, still think I should have gone in as a player. Thank you very much.
The proof is in the pudding. No, this conglomeration of greats that are here today, a lot of them were teammates, but they won't admit it. But they were. And a lot of them were players that worked in games that I called. They are wonderful friends, and always will be. And the 1964 World's Championship team. The great Lou Brock. And I remember as we got down near World Series time, Bing Devine, who was the Cardinals' general manager at that time, asked me if I would do him and the Cardinals, in general, a favor. And I said I would. And he said, "We'd like to inject you with hepatitis. We need to bring an infielder up." I said, "Would I able to sit on the bench." He said, "Yes, we'll build a plastic cubicle for you because it is an infectious disease." And I've got to tell you this. I have a photo at home, I turned a beautiful color yellow and with that Cardinal white uniform. I was knocked out. It was beautiful, wasn't it, Lou? It was great.
Of course, any championship involves a World Series [ring]. The ring, the ceremony, the following season in St. Louis at old Busch Stadium. We were standing along the sideline. I was in the bullpen warming up the pitcher. And when they called my name for the ring, it's something that you never ever forget. And when they threw it out into left field. I found it in the fifth inning, I think it was, Lou, wasn't it? And once I spotted it in the grass man, I was on it. It was unbelievable.
But as these players have bats, gloves…I had a great shoe contract and glove contract with a company who paid me a lot of money never to be seen using their stuff. Bat orders…I would order a dozen bats and there were times they'd come back with handles at each end. You know, people have asked me a lot of times, because I didn't hit a lot, we all know that, how long a dozen bats would last me? Depending on the weight and the model that I was using at that particular time I would say eight to ten cookouts.
I once ordered a dozen flame-treated bats, and they sent me a box of ashes, so I knew at that time things were moving on. But there are tips that you pick up when the Braves were going to release me. It is a tough time for a manager, for your family, for the player to be told that you're never going to play the game again. And I can remember walking in the clubhouse that day, and Luman Harris, who was the Braves' manager, came up to me and said there were no visitors allowed. So again, I knew I might be moving on.
Paul Richards was the general manager and told me the Braves wanted to make me a coach for the following season. And that I would be coaching second base. So again, gone.
But that's when the baseball career started as a broadcaster. I remember working first with Milo Hamilton and Ernie Johnson. And I was all fired up about that, too, until I found out that my portion of the broadcast was being used to jam Radio Free Europe. And I picked up a microphone one day and my mic had no cord on it, so I was talking to nobody. But it's such a wonderful, wonderful thing today to be here. And one of my first partners was mentioned earlier, Merle Harmon, and Tom Collins, he's here today. All of those who I have worked with from Merle to Lorn Brown to Dwayne Mosley, Pat Hughes, who now works for the Chicago Cubs, and my current partner today, Jim Powell and Kent Summerfeld. My thanks to all of you.
To my good pal Bob Costas out there. Thank you, Bobby. All of the network people, that has been as much a part of broadcasting for me as anything. The days with ABC and "Monday Night Baseball" with the late Bob Prince and Keith Jackson and Al Michaels and my great pal, Don Drysdale. All of those people have played such a big part in me being here today. Dick Ebersol, the head of NBC Sports. All of them are a big part of what I am. My family is seated over here. I love them very much.
Ulice Payne is here, the president of the Brewers. The commissioner of baseball is a guy that gave me my start. He said, "I want to bring you back to Milwaukee." And I said, "I'll come." And here I am, 33 years later. Thank you, Al. I call him Al, Bud Selig. Wife Sue is here. To all of my Brewer family, Wendy, Laurel Selig… Wendy Selig-Prieb, Laurel Prieb. Tony Migliaccio, one of my great friends. Mike LaBoe, all my people. Jon Greenberg, I didn't even know you were here. You took care of Hal McCoy, what the hell's going on. But all of these people play such a big part in all of our lives.
And to all of you baseball fans around America and any place else, for your letters, your thoughts, your kindness for all of these years, it's been a great run, but number one has always been baseball for me. No matter what else I ever did, baseball was the only way I wanted to go. I thank you very much for your attention today, thank you for having me, and congratulations to everybody here. Thank you very much everybody, thank you.
They put the stupidest lawsuit ever to bed back in 2003.
But this is America, so fire it back up! Here in America, we reward stupidity. Big, fat stupidity.
You seem WAY too smart.
Need to dumb yourself down in a hurry?
Just read this play-by-play account of Paris Hilton's visit to The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
Reason to live #4,612
Popping Cancer Update: the kind of discussion that could only take place in my life.
I met with my heart doctor today.
I told him we were starting chemotherapy without adriamycin, the drug that hurt my heart last time.
Since my spiritual gift is the ability to see the absolute worst possibilities in every situation, we got to talking about what we could do if I don't respond to chemotherapy.
He said he would be willing to meet with me more regularly to monitor my heart if I decided down the line to do chemo with adriamycin.
I told him that I have been a chaplain, pastor and cancer patient for many years. I've seen more than my share of folks die in all sorts of unpleasant ways.
If it comes to it, I'd rather die of heart failure than cancer.
Plan A is for this plainer chemotherapy to work. AND I'm due some good news, so that's what I'm counting on.
But still, my choice would be painful and fast over painful and slow any day. I'd much rather my wife remember me in my right mind, too - such as THAT is.
Morbid enough for you yet?
Too bad I just found out about these folks.
I could have booked them for my sister-in-law's wedding.
To find out how we make our carrot instruments - click here!
I'm starting to miss things.
Even in a successful fight with cancer, you lose things along the way. I made a long list once of things I missed in my roughly 8-year struggle (on and off) with cancer last time.
It seems I'm going to have to start a new list.
Before I've even had my first chemotherapy treatment, already...
...I miss walking the dog. I would take her on long walks at least two and sometimes three times a day. We'd go up the hill and across the ball field, into the woods. Sometimes, we'd go to the park for even longer walks. Now, I can't get a quarter-mile from the house without coughing and feeling run down.
...I miss school. One semester away from graduating. I was coming to terms with saying goodbye to everyone at graduation and moving on in life. Now, not only will I not be in school this semester, I won't have a chance to see the gang at all. No papers, no books, no lectures by Dr. Herzog, no lunchroom discussions.
...I miss being a pastor to the people in my church. Before, after over a year with my current congregation, folks were finally opening up, coming to my office and sharing their needs and concerns. We would talk and pray and I felt useful. Now, it's like there's a barrier between the congregation and me. Nobody wants to bring their problems to the pastor who has cancer. I guess it makes sense - they must be thinking their problems seem small next to cancer, or that I must be too sick to help - but it is my calling, and I miss it.
...I miss chocolate milk shakes.
...I miss my friend Robyn. You get used to having people around, and you take them for granted. Every week I drove up to school last semester, it was understood that at least one night each trip, we'd go to a restaurant or somesuch and just sit and talk. I got to at least visit everyone else I consider family over the Christmas break, when we went home to Virginia. Mostly, I miss the talks.
I'm pretty sure there are other things, but that's it for now. I'm not all depressed or anything, but it is healthy to miss those things which you care about when they are taken from you.
I guess it gives you something to fight for.
January 25, 2005
Blond joke alert!
Sent to me by a church member:
A blind man enters a Ladies Bar by mistake. He finds his way to a
barstool and orders a drink. After sitting there for a while, he yells to the bartender, "Hey, you wanna hear a blonde joke?"
The bar immediately falls absolutely quiet. In a very deep, husky
voice,the woman next to him says, "Before you tell that joke, sir, I think it is just fair - given that you are blind - that you should know five things.
1 - The bartender is a blonde girl.
2 - The bouncer is a blonde girl.
3 - I'm a 6 feet tall, 180-pound blonde woman with a black belt in
4 - The woman sitting next to me is blonde and is a professional
5 - The lady to your right is a blonde and is a professional wrestler.
Now think about it seriously, Mister. Do you still wanna tell that joke?"
The blind man thinks for a second, shakes his head, and declares, "Nah, not if I'm gonna have to explain it five times."
Brain Candy Classic
It's SO cliche for this to be one of my two favorite poems. I know. I can't help it. It's like a guilty pleasure. Same with "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening." So sue me.
Nevertheless, I find it delicious. Enjoy it again.
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I'm shocked, I tell you! Shocked!
They've found evidence linking certain rap musicians to certain drug-related crimes.
I'd expect this from, say, those classical music thugs, but the squeaky-clean world of rap music? C'mon.
This will make up for the "cat carrier" post.
My own record is only about 20 seconds.
But I only tried three times.
**UPDATE: Make that 28 seconds.**
by Edgar Degas
Many art critics like to classify the works of various artists into categories. However some artists such as the French painter, (Hilaire Germain) Edgar Degas, are not quite true to the category they have been assigned. Listed as an impressionist, Degas's paintings seem an alternative to the classic impressionist style, thus marking him as a individualist in his craft.
Edgar Degas was born on July 19th, 1834 into an affluent Paris banking family. As a young man, he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts. While there, he developed the great drawing ability essential to his style. Originally painting classic academic subjects, Degas switched after 1865 to more of his age's contemporary themes.
Although linked with the impressionists, Degas was not fascinated as were others by the influence of natural light and did most of his work within his studio. His work seemed to stem from the humanistic experience as he paintings depicted such horse racing, circuses, the theater, and ballet. He was painstaking in his desire to capture his subjects, particularly women, in natural poses of movement and grace. His work could be compared to that of many modern day artistic photographers. He was also later captivated by a study of Japanese prints of which style seemed to influence his later work. He used the Japanese idea of asymmetrical design often using an object to set the subject to the side of a painting. An example of this would be Woman with Chrysanthemums (1865, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City) where the female subject is pushed into one corner by a bouquet of flowers.
Late in life, Degas began losing his eyesight, and with this loss resorted to a change of medium. He began working with sculpture and pastels. His sculpture was noted for its inherent movement and his pastels for their simpleness of subject with little in the way of complex backgrounds. This work, although very different than his earlier paintings, also has gained a notoriety of its own largely from its use of simple design or vibrant colors. Never really successful in life, Degas was largely discovered as a master after his death in 1917.
Biography via All About Artists.
Is it just me, or are caution signs getting more threatening?
NOW how am I supposed to sleep?
January 24, 2005
Quote of the Day
"It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."
- General George S. Patton
Finally! A breakthrough in cat technology!
Popping Cancer Update: On What NOT to Say to a Cancer Patient.
Once, when I was 18 years old, I was in a hospital bed in Portsmouth, Virginia. I was told I had a late-stage form of Hodgkin's Disease and that I was in big trouble.
I was scared, alone, away from home.
On this particular day, a woman from the church came to visit me. She said a few things, then suggested that I "search my life for sin" that may have caused God to give me cancer.
I was, as I said, young and scared and alone, and she was a respected lady in the church, so I didn't have the experience or courage to say what I should have said, which is, of course, "Go to Hell. If you ever set foot in this hospital room again, I promise you I will find the strength somehow to escort you out, painfully."
How horrible! Somehow, I think she thought she was doing me, or God, a favor. I imagine she would be able to defend her statement to her church cohorts, as well. Maybe one of them would thank her for saying that to me.
Not long after, another year or so down the road, and I was again (or still, I forget which) in a hospital bed. Another lady from church came to visit. After a bit of uncomfortable discussion, she said, "What is Jesus teaching you in all this?"
What is Jesus teaching me? What is Jesus teaching me?
Maybe that chemotherapy sucks. That cancer is evil and horrible and I hate it and I can't think about anything except how much it hurts and please, please, please someone, anyone make it stop! How about, Jesus is teaching me how it feels to be scared and alone while my friends are living their lives in college, having fun, and I'm here with doctors telling me I'm dying!
Let me make this clear. God didn't GIVE me cancer. God has no desire for me to get sick and die, and it's not part of a holy plan for me to learn some valuable lesson. Shut. Up.
Anything good that ever came out of cancer came from the patient alone. Cancer is evil. If you think God would make me sick like this to teach me some valuable skills, we worship different gods. Period.
The problem is that normal, thinking humans get uncomfortable around sick people and in hospitals. They say things to patients without thinking because they think they SHOULD say SOMETHING.
Then add a layer of Christianity.
Not only do folks feel like they have to say SOMETHING, they think they have to say something hopeful and Christ-centered. This is bunk.
Sometimes, what I needed more than anything was a friend who would just sit quietly and be sorry I was sick. Someone who was just THERE and didn't need to put what can't be spoken into awkward words.
Once, a friend of mine came in to the room, held my hand, and started to cry. After a while, she gave me a hug, and a smile, and left. NOT ONE WORD the entire visit. It was perfect.
Sometimes, the patient will want to talk, need words of encouragement, desire to get things off his/her chest. Let them guide the conversation.
If you feel uncomfortable around hospitals or sick folks, don't visit me. It won't make it better and it will only serve to salve your own ego.
Ask me "is this a good time?" and "do you want to talk about it?" or, best of all, "how do you feel?" That last one will let me answer physically ("I feel tired/nauseated/much better"), emotionally ("I'm very sad/happy/scared") or even spiritually ("I feel alone. I feel abandoned by God.") I might even respond "I don't feel like talking."
And that's ok. It's all ok.
Any way a patient feels is alright.
There have been days I was so angry at God I could break things. It's ok; let me feel the way I feel.
There are days I've said aloud that I'm not sure I believe in God anymore. Don't freak out, church friends. It's ok. It's ok.
I may be dying. Just love me, ok? Love me in your words, or in your silence, or in your staying away because the visit would be more about you than me.
And there's the answer. Cancer patients don't need words. They don't need visitors. They need to be loved. Honestly loved.
Joke Du Jour
Big Stupid Tommy passes along this chuckle:
A busload of politicians was driving down a country road, when suddenly the bus ran off the road and crashed into an old farmer's barn.
The old farmer got off his tractor and went to investigate. Soon he dug a hole and buried the politicians. A few days later, the local sheriff came out, saw the crashed bus and asked the old farmer where all the politicians had gone.
The old farmer said, "I buried them."
The sheriff asked the old farmer, "Lordy, they were ALL dead?"
The old farmer said, "Well, some of them said they weren't, but you know how them crooked politicians lie."
Words fail me.
These MENSA candidates apparently crashed a Bush inauguration protest. There are always a few in every crowd who can see the bigger picture.
No root canal!
Tomorrow's root canal has been postponed until February!
You may remember that I have cancer. That has lowered my resistances and that plus the 6 degree weather has given me a cough. A bad cough.
Tired all the time, can't go outside, can't sleep.
The dental professional decided it was a bad idea to come at me with drills when I was constantly coughing, so we postponed.
Isn't having cancer just the best?
No justice! No peace!
How messed up is the world when Johnny Carson dies, yet Fran Drescher gets another sitcom?
Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue.
January 23, 2005
I LIVE by this (very scientific) survey.
A Columbia University study released Tuesday suggests that viewing fewer than four hours of television a day severely inhibits a person's ability to ridicule popular culture.
It's a tough choice, but I'll stick with the chemotherapy.
Instead of putting poison in my veins, the doctor said I could get the same effect from staring at this picture for four hours every day.
This is not supposed to happen. Ever.
You'll hear plenty from smarter people than I about this, so I'll just leave it at "he perfected the late night talk/comedy show."
Rest in Peace.
Good snowy morning!
Don't forget to shave!
January 22, 2005
Call me Mr. Party-all-the-time Party-all-the-time.
No church tomorrow! The snow is bad, with more on the way tonight.
On top of that, I have a terrible non-productive cough and general feeling of weakness that is greater than usual.
So I can sleep in tomorrow, which means the world is my oyster! I can watch movies all night! I can rock the house! I can stay up all night if I want!
So, anyway, it's 8 p.m.
I think I'm going to bed.
Any of you demons wearing jeans?
Here's a fun story that's both true AND pastoral.
Turns out a couple of older sisters showed up in a Tennessee church one morning to pass along a message to mom.
Postponing the beginning of his service, the pastor - this is classic - came down from the pulpit and said (this is a quote) "You're not wearing pants in my church, you demon."
Now, what would you guess their response would be? Guilt, anger, violence? Nope, these Tennessee women tried the theology route:
"I'm glad I serve a God who can work through my pants" was the also-classic response.
It gets better, after you take a moment to stop laughing at the implications of everything that has gone before. Turns out the PASTOR turned to violence! He grabbed the woman who sassed him and hustled her toward the door, saying "I got all the demons out of my church, and I want you out."
VERY pastoral response, just like Jesus who insisted that sinners be kept on the outside. Right? (ATTENTION: I am aware that some of you out there are more literal than others. I just used a technique called sarcasm, to indicate that the pastor's response was not Christ-like. Jesus dealt more with people who needed God than those who thought they were already super-holy. No angry messages necessary.)
And, in conclusion, of course, the woman in question said "I don't think you've got all the demons out yet."
Nothing like this ever happens at my church. I must be doing something wrong. Full story here.
We never had anything at all like this on Career Day at my school.
School officials in Palo Alto are reconsidering their use of a popular speaker for an annual career day after he advised middle school students that they could earn a good living as strip dancers.
William Fried told eighth-graders at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School that stripping and exotic dancing could be lucrative career moves for girls, offering as much as $250,000 or more per year, depending on their bust size.
And to think I was spending my time at the Future Farmers of America table.
Read the full story here. It's a hoot.
(Insert your own Hooters joke.)
Disturbing news story of the day.
Because who doesn't want to be disturbed?
I don't have anything to say about this picture.
NBC to stick with Joey next season despite slipping ratings.
I said it before. I'll say it again.
One-sixth as funny as Friends.
I may be trapped.
Snow is falling. Plenty of it. It's already piled up to the dog.
Head to weather.com and type in zip code 44502. Yikes!
January 21, 2005
Thank you, Joel
Tim Burton. Johnny Depp. Helena Bonham Carter. Done in the style of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which, if it is not my favorite movie ever, is in the top three. Shawshank is up there, too.
Now I HAVE to live.
I am deeply, deeply in love with this poem.
I only hope I can live long enough that it will be able to be read at my funeral. I figure I need about 50 more years.
AT THE END
by Ed Meek
He was so old his bones seemed to swim in his skin.
And when I took his hand to feel his pulse
I felt myself drawn in. It was as faint
as the steps of a child
padding across the floor in slippers,
and yet he was smiling.
I could almost hear a river
running beneath his breath.
The water clear and cold and deep.
He was ready and willing to wade on in.
Reading this post is a mistake.
If you have ignored my advice and read this far, you should at least definitely NOT click here.
Looking for something to do?
This is my battle-ready, taking-on-cancer-with-a-vengeance image!!!
Suck on THIS, cancer!
Popping Cancer Update: the most recentest news.
Because of the root canal I got going next Tuesday, they're putting off chemotherapy until Monday, January 31. Mark your calendars.
I'll be doing a treatment that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, then laying around in a puddle for week or so, then gradually regaining strength over the next two weeks, then WHAM, starting the whole process again.
I can break this down pretty quickly into good and bad news.
Bad news: They're putting poison in my veins and hoping it kills more cancer cells than healthy cells. Even then, there's no guarantee we can stop the cancer. I'll be losing my hair, my vigor (which isn't all that vigorous to begin with) and possibly my job.
Good news: The doctors office has free snacks.
You do the math.
Are you a geek? Do you have a spare $20,000?
Get your doctorate - we'll keep the lights on for ya!
Here's an interesting, true tale of a woman named Laura L. Callahan who got her doctorate from a "diploma mill" in Wyoming.
To earn her DOCTORATE, she had to go through the following vigorous course of study:
To get her Ph.D., Callahan merely had to thumb through a workbook and take an open-book exam. The whole correspondence course—which includes instruction on business ethics—takes about five hours to complete. A 2,000-word paper (shorter than this article) counts as a dissertation.
The "university" she earned her pseudo-degree from was housed in an old Motel 6 in Evanston, Wyoming.
Indeed, the old motel lobby is clearly visible in a photo of the main entrance to Hamilton posted on the home page of the school's Web site at hamilton-university.edu. Click on "Campus," and you'll find more photos of the converted motel, as well as another small building on the campus, shot from a sharp angle to make it appear large and august.
If the other building looks like a church, that's no illusion. It is a church—sort of. Callahan's alma mater is run by the Faith in the Order of Nature (FION) Fellowship Church, also in Evanston. In fact, the church is headquartered at the same address as Hamilton, which was organized as a "nonprofit theocentric institution of higher learning" in 1976 and claims a religious tax exemption.
I only bring it up because she turned that worthless scrap of paper into the Deputy Chief Information Officer position in The Department of Homeland Security, pulling down a cool $128,000 - $175,000 salary until her poor treatment of employees caused one of them to check out her creds.
January 20, 2005
If this report is true, my cancer worries are over.
Popping Cancer Update: Let's Make It Hot.
It is go time, gentle reader, finally.
Biopsy results are in and, not surprisingly, the lump in my chest is a metastatic sarcoma, born of the first huge lump on my back. So, we presume, are all the little tumors popping up all over my chest cavity. It is in my blood.
That's out of the way. It's time to dance once again with my old friend chemotherapy.
The good news is that I can do the chemotherapy locally. The bad news is I'm doing chemotherapy locally. The first suggestion on the table from my Cleveland Clinic doctor is three days of chemotherapy, followed by three weeks of recovery, then repeat, then re-take the PETscan in Cleveland and hope that we've done some damage to the bad lump.
The further good news is, all things being equal (which of course they haven't been for a while), there will be no more trips to Cleveland for six weeks. Maybe by then we'll have some slightly more reasonable weather patterns.
I have to say that I'm fairly excited to actually start bringing the battle to the cancer, if by "fairly excited" you mean "scared out of my mind." I have a history of responding poorly to chemotherapy, and the fact that we're not using the central chemotherapy drug because of its ill effects on my heart means we're entering the boxing ring with one arm tied behind our backs.
Let me say this once so that it's out of the way and we don't have to bring it up again: what we are looking for here is a miracle. It's that simple. The numbers and probabilities the doctor gave me are not good, not healthy, and not worth repeating. We are coming at this thing with attitude and making our own survival percentages.
One difficult trick to master will be the art of being selfish. It is vitally important for me to put my own needs closer to the top of the list now. I've been pastoring for a while, and it is in my nature to be aware of the thoughts and feelings of others first.
Tomorrow I make the call to my local oncologist and we set up an appointment. Then the ride begins.
Now, if you'll pardon the non-pastoral language, allow me to paraphrase the prophet: I'm coming straight at chemotherapy with the intent to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And I'm all out of bubblegum.
Stan Lee wins court case against Marvel Comics.
The big guy is now owed 10 percent of the take for every Marvel character-based flick out there.
Spidey alone, both movies together, has grossed about $1.5 billion with a "b" worldwide.
It's not all good news for Lee, though. He's gonna end up owing money on Catwoman. Ba dum dum!
Don't I keep telling you the cure is worse than the disease?
Turns out, the Bard may have died from the TREATMENT for syphilis. Not surprising when you find out that the treatment for syphilis back then was: Mercury! You can always count on the Discovery Channel for a good syphilis discussion.
I wonder if, in a couple hundred years, people will be astounded that we used something as primitive as chemotherapy to cure cancer.
Should I feel guilty about this???
FEMA has a cute little Tsunami-cleanup simulator for kids. I don't have any idea how to feel about this.
I'll have to sleep on it.
Ever wake up at 2:30 a.m. because you couldn't sleep? Hmmm. Ok, but did you ever wake up at 2:30 a.m. because you couldn't sleep because your back was swollen and painful because they stuck a needle between two of your ribs and into a 5.5 x 3.5 cm tumor adjacent to your aorta? Yeah, me too.
Harrington Hospital offers these helpful hints to get you some sleep. Pharg. My comments in the light text:
For two weeks, keep a sleep log of your sleep habits to identify trouble spots. Dear diary, I did really great tonight. I lay down, closed my eyes and waited, just like Harrington Hospital said. I got EVERY step correct except the last one (Step Four: fall asleep). Do you think Susie likes me?
Use a comfortable bed. Whoa. I've been sleeping on the concrete floor of our basement. Thank you, Harrington Hospital!
Go to bed only when you are sleepy. This is why they made Nyquil.
Get up the same time every day regardless of what time you go to bed. Yes, yes, but they don't say WHAT time that should be. I'm assuming they mean 11 a.m.
Do not take a nap unless it is for only around 15 minutes and it does not interfere with your nighttime sleep. This is why my sermons average 14-16 minutes each. Gotta keep the congregation well-rested!
Use the bedroom for sleep and sex only. I got this one down. In fact, I can often do both simultaneously.
Try to set 30 minutes aside per day for worrying. When worried or stressed use this time to make a diary of your worries and stresses. Insert your own "Dan has cancer" joke here. On the other hand, don't.
If you can not sleep after lying down for 15 minutes or so, get up and read or watch television. No pressure there: asleep yet? How about now? NOW? How about now? WHUPS, time's up!
Exercise during the day, but not after 7:00 p.m. There goes my nightly "Midnight Thigh-Master" tradition.
Make the hour before bedtime quiet time. Take a warm bath, read a little or prepare a light bedtime snack. I think I prefer whatever planet it is that Harrington Hospital occupies. Why not also take an hour before bed for crafts and another for "me time." Didn't you know that days have 60 hours each now?
Keep the bedroom quiet, cool and dark and make sure it remains dark in the morning. This effect can be gained easily and cheaply by moving into a crack house.
Avoid caffeine. If you must have caffeine, limit yourself to 3 caffeinated drinks, preferably before 12 noon. (Coffee, tea, chocolate). They could be on to something here. I usually am working on my third or fourth Coke when the toast pops up.
Avoid smoking at least one hour before bedtime. Nicotine is a stimulant. I fully agree. Never smoke in the hour before bed. Wait until you're actually IN the bed. MUCH more comfy.
Avoid alcohol - it will help you fall asleep but it will make your sleep more fragmented. By "fragmented" they mean "you're going to wake up screaming, covered in illusory bugs and smelling like a men's room." This is, admittedly, a bad sleep environment.
Place the clock out of sight if you are a clock-watcher. But, how will I know when my 15 minutes are up? I know, I'll set the alarm!
Try to avoid liquids after 7:00 p.m. so you will not be getting up to go to the bathroom frequently. "Avoid liquids"??? They couldn't just say "Don't drink after 7 p.m."??? They make it sound so dramatic. Tap water - run! Sweet Lord, she has tea - will the woman stop at nothing?
I suspect this list, like all things created at 2:50 a.m., is funnier now than it will be when daylight hits it. Still, it did the trick: I'm going back to bed.
See you in 15 minutes.
I wanna cheat, too!
You'll remember that just yesterday (well, two days ago now, it's 2:50 a.m. - can't sleep) Popping Culture introduced you to this completely other knucklehead who gave away some of Apple's trade secrets on his website (example of an Apple trade secret: Let's make a computer that absolutely NO software is compatible with).
Giving away computer company trade secrets on your web log strikes me as the very pinnacle of nerd chic. I want in.
Anybody know any secrets? It seems like Microsoft, et. al., are just leaking them like they were kept in the rusty pipes we have in our basement.
January 19, 2005
Quote of the Day
"If we don't change direction soon, we'll end up where we're going."
-Professor Irwin Corey
Popping Culture Personals
WANTED: Tailor, willing and able to let out a slightly-used Spider-Man costume 4-6 inches.
Brain Candy, German
Time and Again
TIme and again, however well we know the landscape of love,
and the little church-yard with lamenting names,
and the frightfully silent ravine wherein all the others
end: time and again we go out two together,
under the old trees, lie down again and again
between the flowers, face to face with the sky.
-Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875-1926
(translated by J. B. Leishman)
Rilke is one of my favorite poets, and that's saying something. I think I'm a sucker for translated poetry. It makes me wonder how the words flow in the original language, in this case German.
For Rilke, I would learn German.
Oh, sure, NOW I'm cutting edge...
Blogging has taken off.
There are even Blog News Blogs out there now, surviving on just blog news (whatever that is).
Blog Blog Blog.
I'm pretty sure this means I'm cool now. Um, right?
This should keep you busy while I rest up.
It's Jaws. You know, with the big, ill-tempered shark?
**UPDATE: After the show, you can click "home" to view such movies as Titanic and The Exorcist, also in 30 seconds, also by bunnies.
I just got back in from the biopsy. It hurt pretty good. All went reasonably very well, considering everything that could have gone wrong with every stage of the trip, not to mention everything that DID go wrong with the last biopsy attempt.
Read all about the procedure by clicking here.
I have to avoid anything strenuous for the next 24-hours. Apparently, driving a needle deep into your chest near your spine can occasionally be harmful.
I asked the doctor what could happen if I did anything strenuous, since, you know, other than some painful swelling on my back, I feel pretty good. He said "internal bleeding."
This is me, on the couch.
I'll be posting again this evening, after some (much-deserved, in my humble opinion) rest. Just thought you should know I'm alive.
January 18, 2005
Popping Cancer Update: No Sleep Til Cleveland
Your humble host is on the road again.
It's snowing in Cleveland right now (10 p.m. Tuesday) and by midnight it will be snowing here. We're driving up tomorrow morning in rush hour traffic to downtown Cleveland and we expect the weather to get worse the closer we get. Then it's time for a second attempt at the needle biopsy (which, I may have forgotten to mention last time, has a 20 percent chance of collapsing a lung. Yay!). Oh yeah, then there will be a two hour wait in recovery as the snow continues to pile up on the highway. Then we head back home.
Dismal? You bet.
Still, I'm carrying along with me my old, dogeared copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so maybe there will be some laughter along with the tears.
By the way, if my blood pressure is too high or too low to do the procedure this time, I'm taking a hostage. Watch the news.
Presuming all goes well, I'll be back by late afternoon EST and I'll toss up an entry to that effect. If the lung collapses, I'm there overnight. If I die on the table, I understand they'll let me leave the hospital almost immediately, so I got that going for me.
Which is nice.
P.S. If you have any prayer left in you on tomorrow, toss one up for my friend Rose, who, despite being a far-right wingnut and all-around sweetheart, will be delivering a child via c-section tomorrow sometime. I knew a guy who was born by c-section once. Normal kid, but whenever he left the house he went out a window. Ba-DUM DUM!
Still, pray. Or whatever you do to get the good to go on others.
Eye Candy: Exotic
by Wassily Kandinsky
Russian born Wassily Kandinsky is considered the inventor and theorist of abstract painting in the 20th century. In 1910 Wassily Kandisnky had seen an Islamic art exhibition in Munich - a highly decorative art style that does not allow to show images of human beings. The same year Kandinsky created his first abstract painting.
If you should ever find your way to Munich, do not miss to visit the Lenbach Galerie or Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus as it is officially named. It has an incredible collection of Kandinsky paintings - mainly from his time with the Blue Rider. The paintings were donated to the museum by Gabriele Münter, another artist of the Blue Rider group. She was Kandinsky's companion until 1914 when he returned to Russia. During the Nazi rule, Gabriele Münter had stored a large number of his paintings in the basement of her house in the Bavarian countryside.
No matter how bad it gets...
There really is no better way to put it.
These are some unusual churches.
Except for the First Church of Bowling. The Dude abides.
I also favor the Holy Church of Pie.
Popping Culture personals
19-year-old male seeks free legal representation. Hobbies include walks on the beach, pina coladas and publishing Apple's company trade secrets on the InterWeb.
Yes, but you're asking yourself 'What video game is Dan playing RIGHT NOW???"
I suspect it will make me violent and anti-social.
Need another reason to visit the city?
"In British towns and cities, they say you are never more than 15 feet away from the nearest rat"
"If you are in New York while you are reading this sentence," Sullivan says, "or even in any other major city... then you are in proximity to two or more rats having sex."
"Male rats can mate with 20 females in a few hours; the gestation period is just three weeks; the average litter is up to 20 pups."
Excerpts from this review of Rats: A Year with New York's Most Unwanted Inhabitants, this year's must-read.
Reason to Live #764: The Cup
Some back-home buddies of mine - Jim, Scott and Doug - and I have a long-standing tradition. For pennies on the dollar, we bought a cheap plastic trophy which we lovingly refer to as "The Cup."
Whenever all four of us are available to golf together, we put The Cup up for grabs. The winner writes his name and the date on the golf ball he used at 18, drops it in the trophy cup, and gets to keep possession of the sought-after award until we play again. Since I moved to Youngstown, there hasn't been much cup action.
Doug, who is good at golf (at least compared to the rest of us), is the current Cup holder. I actually won the inaugural cup event despite having to overcome some late scorekeeping shenanigans by Jim, and everyone has had the cup in their possession at least once.
I sure would like to get my hands on the Cup. Of course, the two big strikes against me are (1) not having played since 2003 and (2) cancer. So let me deal with those two things first, then we'll see.
I suspect that when I'm healthy I'll have an advantage: producing and raising children has no-doubt left all three of my competitors fatter and lazier than ever, while by way of contrast I have lost 85 pounds in the last year.
Watch your back, Doug.
Watch your back.
January 17, 2005
This pretty much sums it up.
Popping Cancer Update 1-17-5
I've reached the "tired all the time" stage. I take this as a good thing. I think it means my body is finally fighting back. When you're feeding cancer the sugars it loves, it tends to leave you alone right until near the end when it suddenly gets nasty.
I got nearly 11 hours sleep last night, and did nothing but sit around the house today. Still I feel like I've been in a prize fight. This goes along with the idea that you only feel bad from cancer when you start to treat it.
Why would my body be finally fighting back? Well, in December, when I didn't know I had cancer, I was wolfing down the candy and sweet for the Holidays. Now, I'm eating no sugars, no dairy, no red meat, no caffeine and only whole grains. This seems to have ticked the cancer off.
I'd rather feel bad and know the cancer is hungry than keep feeding it and feel great.
I'm also taking these supplements (click on the name to see more information):
*Cantron: This is the biggie. The FDA forbids supplements from making claims like "this stuff helps kill cancer," but lots and lots of testimonials from private citizens say just that. Either way, the only thing it hurts is my wallet, coming in at $190 for three months worth. It tastes horrible and I make a face and shake my head with every dose.
*Megazyme Forte': This is big with the enzymes, from what little I understand, and is used hand-in-hand with the Cantron.
*Lapacho: This also comes in tea form (pau d'arco tea). It cleans up my act, de-toxing my insides somehow. Tastes only slightly worse than Cantron. Some doctors say I shouldn't take this stuff because of possible side effects like nausea and anemia. These are the same doctors who will soon be treating me with a chemotherapy drug called "nitrogen mustard" which is made from the same stuff as the exciting mustard gas we dropped on folks to KILL them in Vietnam. So phooey on them.
*Willard's Water: More detox, better name. You just mix in a wee bit with a gallon of distilled water and drink. Easiest one yet, since you're supposed to drink water anyway.
*MGN3: This is for the immune system and has been taken off the market because, again, the distributor made claims that the FDA didn't like. No matter that the claims very well may have been true. When I use up my couple bottles that remain, I'm switching over to another similar supplement whose name escapes me just now. I'll tell you when I remember. Same deal, anyway.
Of course I am aware that some or all of these supplements might do nothing or very little. Then again, maybe they help. It's not like I'm refusing chemotherapy so I can eat my tree bark instead.
What else am I supposed to do? Sit around and take it? There are a bunch of folks out there who are upset at people who take these dubiously helpful, but certainly not harmful, supplements. These are the same people who don't have cancer. Let them live with a death sentence imposed by their own bodies and see how they feel about grasping at any straw that comes along.
You may find this helpful.
Give.org is a website dedicated to assessing the multitude of charitable organizations out there.
Ever give money and wonder where your donation is REALLY going? Ever hesitate to give because you didn't think your money would reach those truly in need?
Give.org lets you size up a charity, organization by organization, before you invest in the cause it champions. Good idea for a website if you ask me.
***Update: You'll notice that Benny Hinn's group refused to publish the information concerning which cars and houses and expensive suits, erm, which ministries Benny uses your money for. Curious, that.***
Here's a treat.
This is the CAT scan that revealed the 5x2.5 cm growth "immediately adjacent" to my aorta. Fun, huh?
Don't say I never posted any pictures of myself.
102 moves in three big rooms.
No, it's not chess-on-wheels, silly.
That's the description of the lightsaber battle in which Samuel L. Jackson's character, um, becomes one with the Force in the next Star Wars flick.
Doesn't "becomes one with the Force" sound better than "gets snuffed"?
No root canal today. They called to move my appointment up when I was out of town over the weekend. By the time I called this morning the slot had been given to someone else.
So there's still a root canal, but not until next week. As bad as I've felt over the weekend, a full day of rest will be, um, good.
So presuming the biopsy is still a go for Wednesday, I have a couple days to get some rest and double-check my blood pressure, which is also good.
January 16, 2005
It's not that bad after all.
I COULD have an unrecognized nail in my brain.
If you're going to have a nail in the brain, that's the way you want it to be.
Too true. Too true.
Reason to Live #377
"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.
Orbitting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea..."
Popping Cancer: this week's sermon.
If you're into this kind of thing, here's the sermon I delivered today:
Rom 8:36 As it is said in the holy Writings, Because of you we are put to death every day; we are like sheep ready for destruction.
Rom 8:37 But we are able to overcome all these things and more through his love.
Rom 8:38 For I am certain that not death, or life, or angels, or rulers, or things present, or things to come, or powers,
Rom 8:39 Or things on high, or things under the earth, or anything which is made, will be able to come between us and the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
You may not remember this by now, because of the horrible weather we’ve had in the last few days, but one day this week we had Spring. Thursday morning we woke up and the sun was shining. It was 60 degrees!
There were a few wasps around my front porch, just crawling from slumber, I presume, eager to get on with the newness of Spring. I’m sure Friday was an unpleasant surprise for them, but it’s hard to get up too much sympathy for stinging insects.
The point is that Spring came on Thursday, January 13. JANUARY 13.
The calendar couldn’t stop the sunlight from falling on my face that day. My own intellect and intelligence, which told me that it simply doesn’t get to be 60 degrees and sunny in Youngstown in January, couldn’t stop the warmth. The weathermen who called for a harsh January couldn’t stop it.
Sometimes nothing can stop the goodness from coming.
We met the figure of innocent goodness in the person of Jesus. We tortured it. We killed it. But it comes after us on the other side of the grave. There is no place we can run, there is no wilderness we can hide in, there is nothing that we can do to separate us from the love of God in Christ.
If Americans wrote the gospel story, it would sound more like The Wizard of Oz. We love that story.
An innocent girl gets caught up in something arbitrary and unfair, like cancer… or a cyclone, and has to struggle to get home, bravely overcoming obstacle after obstacle. She faces real evil in the form of the Wicked Witch, but in the end, she could have tapped her shoes together and gone home any time. In the end, it’s all a dream.
We know real evil happens. We have participated in it. Indeed, collectively we have perpetrated it.
But, there is some sense in which we still don't really believe that we will actually have to suffer through it. Especially all of us gathered here… We still believe that if something really bad comes our way, we can pay or elect people to make it go away. We have earned a layer of insulation… Most all evil and tragedy we can shake off like a bad dream. Indeed, we can much of the time.
But the gospel message is not that we can shake off evil because it isn't really real.
In the last analysis, Jesus is actually abandoned by God. He is left alone to the mortal fate that we all face. He is filled with the same anxiety and dread that ordinary prisoners who are tortured are too familiar with.
We don't get around suffering. We don't get any exemption because we have faith. The message of hope is that God redeems us in the midst of this suffering, that even here God is at work, even when we least feel it. Even when we least believe it.
I’ve been thinking about suffering on a personal level lately, of course.
I’ve even looked down the list of church members in the last year who have faced death, either their own, or a loved one’s. The list is pretty extensive and I won’t wear you out with it now.
But I also remembered that in death, as in life, nothing can separate us from the love of God we have known in Christ.
We don't know what happens in death, not really. We don’t have any snapshots from the afterlife. The Bible only gives us only poetry and metaphor on the subject. Streets of Gold is a metaphor used for those who lived in poverty, trying to work each day to earn enough food for that day.
In truth, what exactly happens after death remains a mystery as it should. The Bible only assures us that God is fully in control in that realm too and that we can trust that the Almighty will take care of things.
Indeed, we can trust that God will make sense of what was senseless on this side of history, that God will redeem that which was abused, heal those who were unjustly imprisoned, that God will make right that which was so deeply and obviously wrong. That is our hope.
We cannot stop the love of God. Our scientific minds can’t stop it. Our wayward lives can’t stop it. Our own lack of faith can’t stop the love of God. Killing Jesus couldn’t stop it, and so anyone who has felt the love of Christ knows for a fact that not even death can stop the love of God.
There was a river near my home when I was a boy in Westerlo, New York. You could walk out into it a few steps, and swim against it for a little while, but eventually, you were going downstream with everything else.
This is how the experience of God’s love has existed for me, in my life. I’ve been through some real nonsense in my 36 short years, and I’ve given up on God and on love a few times.
Fortunately, God’s goodness doesn’t depend on us. Ultimately, God is consistent and sure, just like that river. THAT’S the Gospel story.
And so I face chemotherapy. I have a particularly nasty brand of cancer that’s not scared to spread. By now, though, I have learned that the pain of chemotherapy can’t stop the love of God. Even death, if it comes to that, can’t stop the love of God.
And so while it is very bad with my body, and while it is sometimes bad with my spirits and bad with my attitude, it is well with my soul. Think about the words you sang earlier with me for a second:
(Ed: You really had to be here for this. I did a sort of dramatic reading of this hymn, not keeping to the musical structure but reading it as though it were a story, complete with hand gestures and voice shifts. If you’re reading this, you’ll have to use your imagination)
When peace like a river attendeth my way.
When sorrow like sea billows roll.
Whatever my lot Thou hast taught me to say,
"It is well, it is well, with my soul".
My sin oh the bliss of this glorious thought.
My sin not in part but the whole
Is nailed to that cross and I'll bear it no more!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!!
And Lord haste the day
When my faith shall be sight.
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll.
The trump shall resound
And the Lord shall descend!
Even so, it is well with my soul.
It is well (It is well)
With my soul (with my soul).
It is well, it is well with my soul.
For I am certain that not death, or life, or angels, or rulers, or things present, or things to come, or powers, or things on high, or things under the earth, or chemotherapy treatments, or surgeries, or foul-tasting medicines, or hospital bills, or tumors, or my own bad attitudes, or ANYTHING which is made, will be able to come between me and the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen and amen.
You know, Popping Culture's recent hard times have made us long for the simpler joys of the 20th Annual Tick Festival.
Oh, the memories.
January 15, 2005
Allow me to introduce you to your new obsession.
Try to read the first page and not dig into the archives.
Boys in a Pasture
I just love this painting. Right now, I should be going to bed, but I can't stop staring at it. At first, I wondered what the pair were looking at, but then I realized: they were looking somewhere into their conversation, into their imaginations. I had dozens of "staring nowhere" conversations with the boys when I was Huck Finn's age, too.
For what that's worth.
Here's something to think about.
Quote of the Day
If you're gonna be stupid you gotta be tough. — Joe Byrd
Popping Culture is back up and snoozing!
10 P.M. now.
Just got back in from successfully getting Mrs. Popping Culture's sister hitched to a nice enough guy from Maryland.
Listened to the Steelers-Jets game on the way home. An exciting game with a favorable result. As hyperactive as the Rams-Falcons have been in the first half, I'm afraid your host is hypoactive. I need rest.
I was in pretty fair amounts of pain and couldn't really rest on the trip, but I expect that being home in my own bed will help me catch up. I'll post more updates tomorrow, and I'll probably toss the sermon up, too, like I did last week, since it's about cancer again. There's another topic?
Might be able to do a root canal Monday of this week. You know, to break up the monotony of cancer. Also, looks like last week's failed biopsy is gonna go down Wednesday, so place your bets!
Rest well, Interweb.
January 14, 2005
This is how it is: weekend update.
So I'm leaving in about 38 minutes to head for Maryland. There we hope to get Mrs. Popping Culture's sister married off.
Back tomorrow evening, probably too late to watch the Steelers-Jets game. Church Sunday, then I presume we'll have the replacement biopsy scheduled for early in the week so we can get on with treatment.
Not that exciting.
I'm gonna haul the laptop with me, so if the hotel has Interweb access, we'll still be live. I doubt it will though; I think my sister-in-law booked us in a place called "Joe's Motel and Oil Change" or something to that effect.
Try to stay out of trouble until tomorrow, if you don't hear from me before then. I'll even leave you something to look at. Kiss, kiss.
If you're the artsy type...
... I'm sure you'll want to see this opera based on the life of Muammar Gadaffi.
Critics in Libya are already hailing it as a success: "A must-see. That is, if you want to keep your hands."
Reason to live # 817.
May 2007 release of Spider-Man 3.
January 13, 2005
It was that time of the week again: time for poetry corner. I thought, why not include something, you know, cancerous, just for a change of pace?
So, in honor of, well, sarcoma, this week's poetry corner comes from the ever brilliant Raymond Carver:
What The Doctor Said
He said it doesn't look good
he said it looks bad in fact real bad
he said I counted thirty-two of them on one lung before
I quit counting them
I said I'm glad I wouldn't want to know
about any more being there than that
he said are you a religious man do you kneel down
in forest groves and let yourself ask for help
when you come to a waterfall
mist blowing against your face and arms
do you stop and ask for understanding at those moments
I said not yet but I intend to start today
he said I'm real sorry he said
I wish I had some other kind of news to give you
I said Amen and he said something else
I didn't catch and not knowing what else to do
and not wanting him to have to repeat it
and me to have to fully digest it
I just looked at him
for a minute and he looked back it was then
I jumped up and shook hands with this man who'd just given me
something no one else on earth had ever given me
I may have even thanked him habit being so strong
- Raymond Carver
Raymond Carver (1938 - 1988)
Text lifted from Americanpoems.com:
The American short story writer and poet Raymond Carver was born in Clatskanie, Oregon, on May 25, 1938, and lived in Port Angeles, Washington during his last ten, sober years until his death from cancer on August 2, 1988. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1979 and was twice awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1983 Carver received the prestigious Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award which gave him $35,000 per year tax free and required that he give up any employment other than writing, and in 1985 Poetry magazine's Levinson Prize. In 1988 he was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Hartford. He received a Brandeis Citation for fiction in 1988. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.
At least that's the basic biography. Of course there's no room in it for the nature of the hardship he and his family went through during most of those fifty years between birth and death. There's no mention of his marriage at 19, the birth of his two children, Christine and Vance, by the time he was 21. No mention of his sometimes ferocious fights with his first wife, Maryann. No mention, either, of his near death, the hospitalizations - four times in 1976 and 1977 - for acute alcoholism.
Take some time off.
Enjoy some winter sports.
Why do I even try to be clever, when there are actual headlines like THIS out there?
"Man Eats Raw Duck Before Undies Save Him."
Look in the URL... the website is titled "saving undies."
That's pretty sweet right there.
He only managed to make it out by tying his white briefs to the end of his gun barrel and waving them at an Arkansas State Police helicopter.
Quote du jour
Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. — African proverb
Popping Cancer: quick hit
Saw the local doc today.
It turns out he agrees with me that the following can lead to low blood pressure:
1 - Losing 85 pounds but maintaining the high-level blood pressure meds.
2 - Adding a heart pill (Coreg) at high doses, that also trims the BP.
3 - Not eating or drinking for a late (11 a.m.) surgery.
4 - Beginning a new diet with no caffeine, after years of pop-guzzling.
So I'm taking a few days off the BP meds. Just to see. By Monday, we should be able to check the BP clearly. Another snag is that one of the BP meds helped me process potassium as well, so we'll have to keep an eye on that, too (yay! more blood tests!).
All in all, a good night's sleep, some violent blogging and a good meal have my spirits back up where they should be. I'll be hearing any time now about my rescheduled biopsy, and I'm going to Maryland tomorrow and Saturday for my sister-in-law's wedding.
I remain anxious to start chemotherapy. Silly-sounding, yes, but at least it will make me feel like I'm participating in my own health. I also apologize for continuing to postpone the supplements post, but it'll be a snoozer anyway. Suffice it to say that I'm taking a bunch of supplements and they're all expensive.
Time to walk the dog.
Thailand: we're really, really grateful for the help, but couldn't you have just sent a check?
Really, the surviviors of the Tsunami in Thailand have suffered enough, haven't they?
Is this REALLY what they need to get them back on their feet?
I am all for Martin's foundation, which helps combat trafficking of humans, especially children, but doesn't this particular gesture run the risk of exposing Thailand's own to "She Bangs"?
This gripping bit of front-page editing just in from the Star.
Defamer suggests that the Brad-Jen breakup drove the entire editorial staff at the Star to suicide.
January 12, 2005
I find this amazing.
Researchers have discovered the hidden laboratory used by Leonardo da Vinci for studies of flight and other pioneering scientific work in previously sealed rooms at a monastery next to the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata, in the heart of Florence.
To think that discoveries of this magnitude are just sitting out there, waiting for the right folks to come along at the right time.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
William Shakespeare, "Hamlet", Act 1 scene 5
Here's a good question.
Dude, I'm a Christian pastor.
No, not just a Christian pastor, but a pretty good one. Average, at least.
And I'm here to admit, this is a good question:
Go ahead and click. A fair assault on the faith, and credibly supported.
r.e. the post just below entitled "cancer is dumb and I hate it"
At least I haven't reached this point yet...
Quote of the Day
"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats."
-- H.L. Mencken
This pretty much sums up the day
Cancer is dumb and I hate it.
Well, I guess that pretty much goes without saying.
Still, today was the most frustrating day since the diagnosis. I drove, or more specifically, Mrs. Popping Culture drove, the hour and a half to Cleveland bright and early this morning for a biopsy. Except it wasn't bright, it was a driving rain virtually the entire way up. Better than ice, I guess.
We got in and the nurse came to start the IV. Four needle sticks later and we were still mining for blood. Fine. Me strong like ox. Me take pain.
Finally (and remember this is all in hyper-decelerated hospital time) it was time for me to stand up out of my chair and walk over to the surgical room. I said, stand up out of my chair.... Mr. Champion? Are you ok?
"Pale" was the word the nurse used. "About to pass out on the cold, hard tile, teeth first." would have been more accurate. It turns out that not eating before surgery, plus losing the better part of 100 pounds in a year, plus taking piles of blood pressure meds, plus not having fluids can make you a bit woozy.
My blood pressure was 70 over 50. That's low. So was I. No biopsy. No determination of type of cancer growths in my chest, then chemotherapy.
Instead I spent the day in the emergency room. They're going to have to reschedule the biopsy.
Until then, presumably, the cancer continues to spread and grow uncontested and I get to pay another huge hospital bill. At least I had stinkin' soy milk to come home to!
Whew. That felt good. Very tired now. Thank you for your thoughts and support surrounding the biopsy. Sorry I didn't have a place to use them. I am sure the fun, lighthearted, pastoral Dan will be back after a night's sleep.
Or a series of brutal murders.
Closed for surgery.
If you're reading this at about 11 AM Eastern, I'm under the knife.
Relatively simple procedure to biopsy a naughty hunk of stuff in my chest. Still, prayers are coveted, as are good thoughts, karma, energies, mojo, auras and eternal spirits.
Back later tonight, probably woozy, so there should be some good blogging to be had.
Talk amongst yourselves.
The Three Ages of Woman
Oil on canvas
178 x 198 cm
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome
"Whoever wants to know something about me must observe my paintings carefully and try to see in them what I am."-Gustav Klimt
A biography on this important artist can be found here.
January 11, 2005
Mr. Blackwell releases his annual Best and Worst Dressed lists.
The results may bore you!
I'm not sure Natalie Portman belongs on the Best Dressed list, though. Since she could make ANYTHING look good, it's kind of like cheating.
Paris Hilton dropped to fifth worst, somehow, but at least the Simpson sisters took third. There is still SOME justice in the world.
And of course, on the Best Dressed list are Nicole Kidman and Scarlett Johansson. Blackwell would be burned at the fashion stake if he overlooked either.
Some things stay.
When I was a kid, maybe 8 or 9, I took a hammer from my father's tools. I wasn't supposed to touch it but I took it anyway and went out into the neighborhood with it one Saturday morning.
I don't think it was a sin, mind you. I am a firm believer in the idea that a little mischief is necessary for a kid to grow up healthy. You can spot the kids that didn't get into any mischief pretty easily once they've grown to be adults.
That is beside the point.
I took the hammer and found a pile of rubbish. The men with trucks and bulldozers were building a new housing development not far from the development I lived in and, of course, they were off on Saturday.
So I hit whatever trash I could find with the hammer. Just to see what would happen, I guess.
On one particular swing, I missed badly whatever I was swinging at. The hammer carried through and I, not able to control its weight, hit myself in the shin, hard.
My leg was bleeding and pressure didn't make it stop. So I went home.
When it healed, there was a little crater-shaped indention in my leg that remains to this day. For some reason, tonight I was thinking about cancer, and some of the stories from my own life, and I found myself subconciously running my finger over that indention.
I don't know why I feel compelled to write this, or why I think it belongs with the cancer posts, but I do and it does.
I guess some things just always stay with you.
A quick note to all those who have praised my "healthy attitude," "good spirit," and "positive outlook."
I am trying. I'm at least trying to still be a pastor to the people I have been given charge over.
Sometimes, though, like tonight in the cold rain on the way home, I feel like this:
Well, is there anything I CAN eat?
So far the diet is going along, you know, at about the pace that time passes.
Here it is:
No sugars. This is the big one. If all else failed, I'd still have to stop it with the sugars. Cancer cells LOVE sugars. The PETscan itself is based on the concept that cancer cells will absorb more sugars and in different ways than healthy cells. No more chocolate milkshakes for a while.
No caffeine. I can survive this one.
No red meat. What? WHAT? No burger? No steaks? Oh, and also no pork. Man, this sucks. If I'm gonna eat, I like for something to have to die. And I really do like red meat. It makes me aggressive. The ladies love that.
Only distilled water. No biggie, I just have to remember to keep hitting the Giant Eagle, where it's, like, 67 cents a gallon.
No dairy. Because dairy converts to sugar, which converts to rampant cancer cells. I heard Charles Atlas say once he didn't eat dairy after he became an adult because it was unnatural. Makes sense... babies get weaned off the milk once they mature. Still, I love milk and ice cream (again, specifically chocolate milk shakes).
Nothing fried. Well, it hardly matters at this point. Anything I'd want to fry is pretty much off the list anyway.
So far I've had good luck with substitutes. Soy stuff (milk, bread, whatever) is just wrong-tasting to me, but I really like rice-based foods. There's a type of "cheese" that tastes just like Kraft American, and Rice milk is a bit different, but not bad at all. On the pseudo-meat front, Boca Burgers really are tasty. Of course, nothing's as good as the high-fat diet most of us are used to, but it's really not as bad out there in healthyland as it sounds (just more expensive). There is even an all-natural sweetener called Stevia that replaces sugar and honey, and is in fact sweeter than both, but you have to just use a drop or so or else it becomes overwhelming to the point of being disgusting.
The diet is all my idea, with help gleaned from health food nuts and cancer survivors. There is no proof that any of it helps fight cancer, but if nothing else it makes me feel like I'm participating, if you know what I mean.
I'll post the supplements I'm taking tomorrow or the next day. Probably not tomorrow, because I'm off to Cleveland for a rather painful biopsy, then probably home late in the rain. Prayers, mojo, kind thoughts, warm auras, and good energies all accepted.
For now, I have to run... there's a big meal of styrofoam and grass clippings calling my name!
MMMmmmm.... grass clippings!
Sheila's completely off her Hasselhoff.
Too many scary pictures, so I'm just gonna point you in the right direction and let you wade in.
Tax cuts sound nice, don't they?
Not to the Salt Lake City art community.
Or the zoo.
Or the parks.
Buttprints in the Sand
One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.
But then some strange prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."
"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you along.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."
"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt."
"Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand."
Yeah, me too, these days.
If you're into the whole blogging and messaging thing, you might enjoy a musical interlude.
If they ask me why I stopped planning for cancer treatment...
...tell them it's because we are living in the earth's last days.
One of the key signs of an impending Apocalypse?
Nelly and Tim McGraw have done a music video together.
**UPDATE: There's really a "Rap News Network"? Curiouser an curiouser**
***SECOND UPDATE: Tim McGraw's wife is a pretty lady.***
Video Game Overdose
I enjoy a good video game with the rest of them.
This writer has classified I certain portion of humanity that, after playing video games too long, has trouble re-connecting with reality. In one case a woman shook a live tree after playing Animal Crossing (in which trees often contain treasure, obtained by shaking them) for too long. In another, a man returned to work after playing Quake for hours, to find that he saw his coworkers, on some level, as potential targets.
I have already classified that segment of humanity. They are called "crazy people."
This, by the way, is why I never play any video game for more than 72 hours straight. Now hand me the joystick, I need to drive to the supermarket.
Popping Cancer Update
Not much of an update this morning, but since it has been a while, I thought I better throw you groupies a bone.
Biopsy tomorrow in the morning at Cleveland Clinic. Trying to write the whole sermon all at once on Thursday. Travel to sister-in-law's wedding Friday. Wedding Saturday. Presumably, by then, we'll have biopsy results and chemotherapy will start next week.
We know the initial lump was a sarcoma, but the biopsy will be on one of the new sites that has popped up in my chest, to determine the exact nature of the tumors, since types of chemotherapy drugs may be changed based on the results.
It frustrates me to sit around for another week (if you call surgery and traveling to Maryland for a wedding "sitting around"), but at least I have my new obnoxious diet to keep me busy. Later today, I'll be showing off my new diet, along with all the supplements that I've started taking.
I never guessed supplements would be so expensive. One of them cost $190 for a three-month supply. Still, my thinking is, I don't know if these things will help. I do know that they WON'T hurt and MAY OR MAY NOT help. So if I take them, I might get well and they won't hurt me, just my checkbook.
Still, I draw the line. If Aunt Mary has her favorite syrup made of tar and dirt that she claims cures halitosis, I can pass. But if a real, live, natural supplement claims to help cancer patients and there are some stats to back it up, it's worth the cost. I was just gonna spend that money on video games and theology books anyway.
Speaking of books in general, being an obsessive-compulsive book freak has finally paid off. My "to be read" shelf has over 100 books on it now, mostly books I got from Barnes and Noble, telling myself one day I'd have time for them. Well, I have some time now, presuming I keep breathing. First up from the shelf is a re-read of The Living of These Days, which is Fosdick's brilliant autobiography.
January 10, 2005
Photo courtesy of Yahoo.
The best thing about blogging?
The best thing is that this is MY blog. If I want to drone on about cancer or a painting by Escher or a poem by Bill Shakespeare or whatever else dances into my mind, I can.
For instance, right now I'd like to publish a picture of my dog, post-naughty.
So it is spoken, so it is done. Say I decide to toss up a photo of, say, me WITH my dog, or my wife and mother-in-law, or Ruffs the Super-SCUBA dog, or my super-hot best friend Robyn...
Bang bang bang bang. Done, done, done and done.
See what I mean? I can do ANYTHING here. The sky is the limit! I'm free to write with a world of interesting things to look into, reflect on, and put into words.
Why, I even stole that picture of Robyn from the seminary's website!
Imagine it.... ANYTHING I want, I can write about!
Hmph. You guys hang out if you want. I'm gonna watch some TV.
Popping Cancer: resources
Interested in learning more about your host's metastatic sarcoma? Do you have a loved one suffering from cancer? Just interested in wasting diseases?
Here are some pretty sharp resouces on the Interweb:
In defense of the spoken word.
Books on tape have always felt like, well, cheating to me. I mean, smart people read, right? Dumb people buy tapes of books to save themselves the effort, right?
Well, here's a college professor who makes a powerful claim that it is the spoken word that drew him to literature in the first place.
This picture sums it up nicely.
I know the feeling.
Quote of the Day
How can we lose when we're so sincere? — Charlie Brown
We tried. God knows we tried.
But we can't help ourselves any longer. The Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston breakup is just too rich. Especially when graphic images like the one above are floating around the web.
Reason to Live #5,419
A broadcast in England titled "Jerry Springer the Opera" included, hang on to your hats, offensive subject matter.
Who could have seen it coming?
Not these 50,000 people, who seem unaware that their televisions (should I say tellies?) have a variety of knobs that allow owners to do such things as change channels and turn off the power.
I think we know where the knobs are, now, eh?
***UPDATE: forgot I was a pastor there for a second. Clearly the blame is on the artists who performed, no doubt as pawns in Satan's evil plot to take over the earth, one lower-middle class British family at a time.***
The Work We Must Do.
It's hard to write sermons these days, but it's also cathartic. It would be kind of suspicious for me to ignore that I have an advanced cancer in my body and instead preach about tithing or discipleship or whatall other nonsense.
If you have an interest, here's the sermon I preached yesterday:
Mar 15:43 There came Joseph of Arimathaea, a responsible man in high honour, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God; and he went in to Pilate without fear, and made a request for the body of Jesus.
Mar 15:44 And Pilate was surprised that he was dead; and, sending for the captain, he put a question to see if he had been dead for long.
Mar 15:45 And when he had news of it from the captain, he let Joseph have the body.
Mar 15:46 And he got a linen cloth and, taking him down, put the linen cloth round him, and put him in a place for the dead which had been cut out of a rock; and a stone was rolled against the door.
Mar 16:1 And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, and Salome, got spices, so that they might come and put them on him.
Mar 16:2 And very early after dawn on the first day of the week, they came at the time of the coming up of the sun to the place where the body had been put.
Mar 16:3 And they were saying among themselves, Who will get the stone rolled away from the door for us?
Mar 16:4 And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back; and it was of great size.
Mar 16:5 And when they went in, they saw a young man seated on the right side, dressed in a white robe; and they were full of wonder.
You know, in 36 short years, I’ve been involved with WAY too many funerals. I’ve seen massive gatherings with hundreds of people, and small personal services at nursing homes with no more than 3 or 4.
After every death, however, there’s one type of person who always shows up. This is the one who has to, or chooses to, take care of the details. What is the deceased going to wear, where will he be buried, which of her family do we need to keep away from which others of her family?
How will we pay for this? Who will provide food, and transportation, and comfort as needed? What day, what time, where?
In Mark we find this person in the form of Joseph of Arimathaea, and shortly after, in the form of Mary and Mary.
Joseph of Arimathaea was a follower of Jesus. The Bible says that he was “waiting for the coming of the Kingdom of God.”
What we don’t know is how he felt following Jesus’ death. His savior was dead. There was no doubt about it because Joseph had the body himself. We don’t know if Joseph expected a resurrection, or if his faith suffered. We don’t know how strong his emotional reaction was, whether he cursed God or sobbed uncontrollably or just got back to work.
What we do know is that someone had to take care of the details, and God had provided Joseph of Arimathaea. This was the work he had to do. No doubt he would have preferred to have the time free for grieving or comforting others, but this was the work that God had for him.
So Joseph went downtown to confront Pilate. He got custody of Jesus’ body. Joseph provided a linen which he had no doubt arranged for earlier. He took upon himself the no-doubt painful task of getting the corpse of the man he thought would be his savior down from the cross where it still hung. Somebody had to do it, yes?
Having arranged for a tomb for his Lord, Joseph of Arimathaea carefully wrapped Jesus’ body. He transported it, laid it carefully inside the tomb, and saw to the sealing of the door with a huge stone.
This was the work that God had for him to do.
Two mornings later, Mary and Mary had their own work to do. No doubt with heavy hearts, they rose early, prepared spices and hiked to the tomb of the one they thought would save them.
It’s helpful that these two stories came back to back in the Gospel of Mark. Sometimes, like Joseph, our work is not rewarded… at least, not immediately, and not in ways we can see on this side of Heaven.
Sometimes, like Mary and Mary, the work is rewarded immediately and with great joy. We find our angels and we hear our good news.
In either case, the work that God calls us to is sometimes hard work, sometimes frustrating or sad. But it is work that has to be done, and it’s work that God gives us.
Mother Theresa said once, “I know that God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.”
As I’ve spent the last few weeks meeting with doctors and going through tests and getting more and more news about my disease, I’ve come to realize something I didn’t see about Jesus before.
He must have been very sad near the end of his life.
I know what I’m up against, and I know what can happen. Still, I have time. If it comes to it, I can say goodbyes and close circles. I can tell the people I love that I do love them.
Not even Jesus’ own disciples understood him when he tried to talk about his own death. Jesus was utterly alone, even when he was with the people he cared about the most. How sad to know you are going to suffer and die, but not be able to get the people you love to understand it. Even after the resurrection, they didn’t understand, not right away. It took Paul to come along years later to make sense of just what the Jesus Event really meant.
So even Jesus had work he had to do. He not only had to accept the most agonizing death known to man, but he had to do it knowing it was coming, knowing his best friends wouldn’t understand what he was going through. That, to me, is amazing.
Of course he didn’t have to do it. Of course he didn’t want to. But it was the work that God had for Jesus to do and he did it, even though it led to his own death.
So in this one flurry of verses at the end of Mark, we see three stories of people who had work to do, work from God, and they did it, even though they really would have preferred not to.
Mary and Mary saw the reward of their work immediately. Joseph of Arimathaea didn’t. Jesus died as a result of his.
And so we’re all called by God to do this work that we must do. Some of us trade it in, though.
Some of us prefer to work to make our lives more comfortable. Some of us prefer to work to make our families rich and safe. Some of us work to be entertained, or so that we can retire some time in the future and give work entirely.
Those sound like really nice goals, until you realize that it’s only the work that God has for us that matters. Whether it’s dying, or taking care of funeral arrangements, or becoming a missionary to Africa or to Youngstown Ohio, or whether it’s giving to the church or just finally sharing what you believe with your neighbor – whatever your work is, it is from God, and it’s not too hard to figure it out if you really want to know.
This last year, I have been a pastor. Given my own choice 18 years ago, I would rather have been an award-winning novelist. Or even worked at Barnes and Noble. The dream then was to be a Shakespeare professor.
This week I’m going to be a cancer patient. Given my choice… well, you know my choice there.
Biopsy, chemotherapy, percentages of survival. Is it going to work? Am I going to live?
Doesn’t matter. Not to me.
THIS is the work that God has for me. Let me suffer, let me struggle at it, let me feel pain… it is the work that God has for me.
And it is the only work that matters.
Now I'm all angry again
As God is my witness, sometimes I just hate people. Especially news folk, and I used be a reporter for a living, before the cancer/pastor thing.
The latest outrage?
Well, Rosemary Kennedy, who was the inspiration for the Special Olympics, died recently at 86.
The NY Times originally had the AP headline "Retarded Kennedy Sister Dies at 86" up on their website before they finally located someone with a soul later in the day and changed it to "Rosemary Kennedy, Senator's Sister, 86, Dies."
Still, that pales in comparison to this offering from the Canadian Press: "Rosemary Kennedy, retarded sister of assassinated president, dead at 86."
Their lead paragraph?
Rosemary Kennedy, a sister of the late U.S. president John Kennedy who was born mentally retarded and lived most of her life in an institution after a lobotomy, died Friday, her family said.
It doesn't matter that she INSPIRED the SPECIAL OLYMPICS. Not to the Canadian Press. They want us to know that (1) she was "retarded" and (2) that her brother was assassinated.
It's probably a bad sign in a pastor that he wants to shake people.
*thanks to Gawker for finding this and ruining my breakfast.
January 09, 2005
I have "The Weak" right now.
After a day or so of living my life, something inside my body has had enough. I hit that huge, crushing wall and it's all I can do to move my 85-pounds lighter than last year frame to the bed.
I wanted to post something profound tonight, but I'm thinking I'll dream it instead.
Maybe tomorrow I'll come with the profound. That sounds like a good idea. Tomorrow. The word itself sounds full of promise. Tomorrow!
For now I'll leave you with this quote, which I intend to speak loudly as I enter my next chemotherapy treatment: "I've come to kick ass and chew bubblegum. And I'm all out of bubblegum."
You guys deserve something else, too. A quick look in the Popping Culture Rainy Day Closet produced the following:
Think about that.
Son, in MY day, you had to be alive to have the number one song in England.
Guess who's topping the charts in Britain?
A gentle reminder
For those of you who visit for the goofiness, or those of you who visit for the cancer reflections, there is an option to glean one from the other!
I have set up in the right sidebar a topic heading called "Cancer," which you may click if all you want is the pithy sayings, updates, test results and raw emotions related to my own struggle with cancer.
If you like the art, or poetry, there are similar links for those, also in the right sidebar.
If you are only interested in the latest Paris Hilton and Lindsey Lohan news, there will soon be a link which will take you directly to a place where you can seek the counseling you need.
To celebrate my recent (albeit perhaps temporary) elevation from "slithering reptile" to "flappy bird" in the TTLB ecosystem, I offer the following photograph.
Keep me flapping, and there's more where this came from:
January 08, 2005
Brain Candy (with commentary)
While I love to rant and rave over my favorite poets and poems, this is a case where a single person I haven't long followed wrote a single poem that captured my attention.
I added some text at the end which I lifted from The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry in English, just to give us an idea where this haunting poem came from. Yes, I said "haunting" and yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition.
Here it is. Maybe it will haunt you, too.
The Heaven of Animals
James Dickey 1961
Here they are. The soft eyes open.
If they have lived in a wood
It is a wood.
If they have lived on plains
It is grass rolling
Under their feet forever.
Having no souls, they have come,
Anyway, beyond their knowing.
Their instincts wholly bloom
And they rise.
The soft eyes open.
To match them, the landscape flowers,
Outdoing what is required:
Thr richest wood,
The deepest field.
For some of these,
It could not be the place
It is, without blood.
These hunt, as they have done
But with claws and teeth grown perfect,
More deadly than they can believe.
They stalk more silently,
And crouch on the limbs of trees,
And their descent
Upon the bright backs of their prey
May take years
In a sovereign floating of joy.
And those that are hunted
Know this as their life,
Their reward: to walk
Under such trees in full knowledge
Of what is in glory above them,
And to feel no fear,
But acceptance, compliance.
Fulfilling themselves without pain
At the cycles center,
They tremble, they walk
Under the tree,
They fall, they are torm,
They rise, they walk again.
Dickey was born in Atlanta, Georgia. After serving as a pilot in the Second World War, he attended Vanderbilt University. Having earned an MA in 1950, Dickey returned to military duty in the Korean War, serving with the US Air Force. Upon return to civilian life Dickey taught at Rice University in Texas and then at the University of Florida. From 1955 to 1961, he worked for advertising agencies in New York and Atlanta. After the publication of his first book, Into the Stone (Middletown, Conn., 1962), he left advertising and began teaching at various colleges and universities. He became poet-in-residence and Carolina Professor of English at the University of South Carolina.
Dickey's third volume, Buckdancer's Choice (Middletown, 1965), won the prestigious National Book Award in Poetry. From 1966 to 1968 he served as poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. In 1977 Dickey read his poem 'The Strength of Fields' at President Carter's inauguration. The Hollywood film of his novel Deliverance (Boston, 1970) brought Dickey fame not normally enjoyed by poets.
Dickey's poems are a mixture of lyricism and narrative. In some volumes the lyricism dominates, while in others the narrative is the focus. The early books, influenced obviously though not slavishly by Theodore Roethke and perhaps Hopkins, are infused with a sense of private anxiety and guilt. Both emotions are called forth most deeply by the memories of a brother who died before Dickey was born ('In the Tree House at Night') and his war experiences ('Drinking From a Helmet'). These early poems generally employ rhyme and metre.
With Buckdancer's Choice, Dickey left traditional formalism behind, developing what he called a 'split-line' technique to vary the rhythm and look of the poem. Some critics argue that by doing so Dickey freed his true poetic voice. Others lament that the lack of formal device led to rhetorical, emotional, and intellectual excess. The truth probably lies somewhere between these two assessments, and it will be left to the reader to decide which phase of Dickey's career is most attractive.
Dickey's most comprehensive volume is The Whole Motion (Hanover, NH, and London, 1992). His early poems are collected in The Early Motion (Middletown, 1981). Recent individual volumes include The Eagle's Mile (Hanover and London, 1990) and Falling, May Day Sermon, and Other Poems (Hanover and London, 1982). Dickey has also published collections of autobiographical essays, Self Interviews (Garden City, NY, 1970; repr. New York, 1984) and Sorties (Garden City, 197 1; repr. New York, 1984).
Text from The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-century Poetry in English. Ed. Ian Hamilton. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. Copyright © 1994 by Oxford University Press.
They found someone to play Arnold Schwarzenegger in an upcoming made-for-TV movie
In preparation for the role, Roland Kickinger is hard at work, forgetting everything he ever knew about acting.
Then again, maybe he's not: turns out he calls his biceps "my little Alps" and he calls the made-for-TV effort "a dream role."
Popping Culture is soliciting!
Just thinking about nutrition right now (please save your teas, tree barks, miracle cures, majik mushrooms and potions for later), meaning the actual foods I eat, this is my dietary plan for dealing with cancer:
-less sugar (Nerds candy sugars, not apple and orange sugars)
-wheat grains only (wheat pasta and bread, especially)
-no red meat (white meat is fine)
That's about it. I'm not worried about fat or carbs. In fact, the goal is to maintain my weight. It would be better to gain than lose weight at this point.
The idea is to make my body less toxic, while denying the cancer cells the stuff they like to munch on.
Anything I overlooked???
Again, we're not mentioning supplements here - I have a few things up my sleeve in that department, too, for another discussion.
I report, you decide.
The French Army Knife.
Frankly, I'm outraged.
Keep scanning the headlines for this:
"Julia Roberts steps on unexploded shell; needs smile transplant, but uncovered underground bunker full of photos of war prisoner abuses."
The hottest show in town?
How do you feel about "Spam"?
January 07, 2005
You haven't heard of The Ditty Bops?
Gads, you are so last week.
What the hey, here's another review. We're smitten.
Quote of the Day
One day, someone WILL be quoting this at my funeral. One day far in the future, we hope, but there it is:
Our revels now are ended: these our actors
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yes, and all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a wrack behind: We are such stuff
As dreams are made of, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
–William Shakespeare, The Tempest
Popping Cancer Update 1-7-5
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a final word:
Chemotherapy soon after. LOTS of it.
Our goal is no longer to cure the disease, it is to prolong my life.*
With the loss of the key chemotherapy drug, the doc is calling for a 20-30 percent chance of significantly shrinking the larger tumor. I know from my own history and from my time working as a chaplain that the most important numbers are determined by the strength of the patient.
My cancer diet is in place. Whole wheat grains only, no caffeine, no red meat, low sugars, horrific tasting tea.
Fasten your seatbelts.
*Note that "prolong my life" includes the possibility of a lengthy remission or two, but a cure for metastatic cancer from a sarcoma is not possible. It's in my blood, it's mine for life.
Interested in alternative energy?
Maybe you should be.
Here's an excellent blog dedicated to just that.
Big Cancer Fun Today!
Today at 3 p.m. Eastern I'm meeting with my oncologist (in Cleveland, so the drive time will keep blogging light) to set out once and for all a course of treatment. As you can probably guess from reading below, I'm chomping metaphorically at the proverbial bit like a horse that doesn't exist but represents in the creative imagination my desire to begin treatment.
It looks like minor surgery (to biopsy one of the new growths) then chemotherapy.
Just. Bring. It.
**UPDATE: Don't forget you can check out all the cancer posts at once by clicking on the topic "cancer" in the right sidebar. I don't suggest you do this. A little cultural fun between cancer discussions is good for the soul.**
***Self-congratulatory update: Not only do we have 30 links at Popping Culture, we're also ranked #3712 in traffic at The Truth Laid Bear, which monitors these things. You are welcome to tell people you know me, since it'll add instant cred.***
January 06, 2005
This just in from Popping Culture's Misleading Web Address Desk
Hold your breath and take a click at this one.
by Andrew Wyeth
No long description this time. No paragraphs of text relating Wyeth's contribution to the art world, as per usual.
I'm leaving it at "this is one of two creative pieces that haunt me from my childhood." I still think about Christina sometimes. I think there was a print of this in my bedroom. What does SHE see, looking across that field? This one haunts my imagination. Sometimes I feel so sad for her and I have no idea why. I still get shivers. I have shivers right now.
The other haunting piece is the poem "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. Imagine you are a six year old and your mother read you this BEFORE BED:
The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
Good sweet Lord, I still want to hide under the covers right now. "The moon was a ghostly galleon" and the highwayman doesn't come riding, he comes "riding... riding... riding..."
Here's the whole thing if you're up to it... read it with the lights out and your imagination on.
I'm all popular and stuff.
I have 30 links!
The most I ever had before this was around 15 at once. If I had known popularity was just a fatal illness away, I would have gotten more friendly with that monkey that was making eyes at me in Zambia.
That's right! I said "Wang Center"!
Seems like the Rockettes are kicking up a little dust at the expense of the Boston Pops, Handel and Haydn Society, Revels, and Boston Ballet.
And they did it at the Wang Center, no less.
If you own anything breakable in the greater Los Angeles area, you might want to, you know, get it insured.
January 05, 2005
Popping Cancer update: The day the local minister got pissed off.
(quotes from my own diaries and from Internet cancer resources)
I have always been a quiet, mild-mannered type of guy.
In my memory, there are two instances, both on soccer fields, where someone punched me - once dead in the face, hard - and my response was stillness. Staring and smiling.
I preach peace in my church. I believe that I am one of the gentlest souls you could ever meet. There is probably nothing you could do to my person or my possessions to cause me to respond in anger.
But if you touched my wife - if you made my wife cry - I would kill you. It's that simple. I would break you with a rage you've never seen before in your life. I expect that I would pound and pound, not until you were dead, but until you were dead and my rage was spent and I couldn't raise my hands to hit you again.
"Once men are caught up in an event, they cease to be afraid. Only the unknown frightens men."
"The time for action is now. It's never too late to do something."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Tonight I held my wife, and we both cried.
Cancer has officially pissed me off.
Your response to this is the most important factor in determining your chances for survival. Your response is more important than any medical statistic, treatment, or possible breakthrough.
When I was 18 years old, I was told that my chances to live were not very good. I had late-stage Hodgkin's Disease, a type of lymphatic cancer. The lymph nodes in my neck had grown so large that my shirts were a full neck size larger. The lymph nodes above my lungs were large enough that when I went to bed at night, if I tried to lay on my back, I couldn't breathe.
I know that God will not give me anything I can't handle.
I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.
So one afternoon I was playing tennis very poorly with my friend Scott. That night I was at an oncologist's office. The following morning I was in surgery, the first of many biopsies.
In the next six months I received all the radiation a person was supposed to receive in a lifetime. Everyone else was back in school, meeting girls, having late nights, living their lives.
That'll make you angry. Angry and sad.
My role as a surgeon is to buy people time, during which they can heal themselves.
-Bernie Siegel, MD
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his state of mind.
Then came chemotherapy. God, the horrible memories that still creep like silent spiders in the darkest corners of my mind. The long afternoons spent throwing up, then throwing up again, until I was throwing up nothing, violently. Hit in the stomach suddenly by sledgehammer cramps that would double me over, make me cry out against my will, sometimes throw me from the bed.
Fevers into the 104s. Covered in sweat and unable to think rationally, to take care of myself, to lift myself out of bed to go to the bathroom one door away. Wanting to curse and shake my fists at God, except that the poison held me down, pinned me to the sheets, or to the floor, wherever I fell first.
Coughing, choking, gasping for air, praying for strength before the next cramp hit, or the next bout of vomiting.
Never being given that strength. Not once in eight years.
Being alone. Utterly and completely alone.
The vast majority of survivors do not believe they got well by chance. Triumphant patients believe they worked for their wellness, earning it on a daily basis.
Getting cancer can become the beginning of living. The search for one's own being, the discovery of the life one needs to live, can be one of the strongest weapons against disease.
And somehow I survived each treatment. Twice - on two separate occasions - my doctors told me that scans looked clear, that I wouldn't need any more treatment.
Within six months of each such declaration, more cancer had been detected in my system.
There is a point at which one, after 8 years of cancer treatment, ceases to be afraid to die. More fatally, they become afraid to hope.
There is nothing in the world that can take the place of persistence.
Society may predict but only I will determine my destiny.
-Tallmidge Griffin, Four Years Old
And so the doctor said I needed to do a painful bone marrow transplant in a hospital nearly two hours away from home. I was 25. I had been through enough.
Indeed, those were the words I used when I told my family that I didn't plan on going through the procedure. "It is enough," I said in tears. "Eight years is enough. Let's just not do any more treatment. Let's just wait and see what happens."
My family and girlfriend (now wife) had watched me suffer all along. They agreed, or at least allowed me to make that decision. How could they not?
It was my doctor, Dr. Kostinas, who saved my life. I told him I wasn't going to Richmond for the transplant. He said "You're going to do the transplant or you're going to die."
Ouch. Looking back, I believe that in that moment he may have been my only friend in the world.
My emotions changed a dozen times in about a second. First was self-pity. "It's not fair."
Next was anger. "Why is this happening to me?"
Finally, rage. Cancer was the enemy. It was evil. It was a dark force that wanted me dead and wanted to use my own body to kill me. That rage was what carried me through the transplant.
Don't let anyone tell you that anything good ever came from cancer. Cancer is evil. It is hate. Anything good, any lessons learned, came from the patient alone. DON'T EVER SAY THAT ANYTHING GOOD CAME OUT OF CANCER.
If you keep on doing what you've been going, you'll keep on getting what you've been getting.
Every man has the right to risk his own life in order to save it.
The individual whose hopes for his own full rich life are sufficiently high to enable him to deal with temporary setbacks appears to be most resistant to cancer.
There is no way to survive a bone marrow transplant without anger. My heart stopped once in the 5 weeks I was there. I stopped breathing at least twice. I needed at least a dozen blood transfusions.
Once, a friend came to visit me. On her way to the floor, she noticed men and women rushing to the unit. Alarms were blaring and lights flashing. She made a mental note to ask me what was going on when she got to my room.
They were running to me.
Hang in there. We are so vulnerable and overwhelmed when diagnosed with cancer. The word itself is all consuming.
-from a bulletin board for breast cancer patients
My veins are filled, once a week, with a Neapolitan carpet cleaner distilled from the Adriatic and I am as bald as an egg. However I still get around and am mean to cats.
-John Cheever (1912-82), U.S. author. Letter, 10 May 1982, to Philip Roth (published in The Letters of John Cheever, 1989), concerning his cancer and its treatment.
The transplant was a success. It was ten years ago.
Last month, I was diagnosed again.
Today I am alive.
I say "today" because that is how one beats cancer. Daily. Get through today. Survive the afternoon.
Worrying about tomorrow is a common, fatal mistake.
Feel how you feel today.
And so today I am alive. Today my doctor said "there's more disease than we initially believed." But today I am alive, and now, more than that, I am angry.
My response so far has been reflection, sense-memory, a bit of fear. All that is over now.
How DARE this evil come back. How DARE cancer make my wife cry. We WILL live, do you hear that?
We will live because we will live today. Cancer can't touch my today - our today.
God, this pisses me off.
One must not forget that recovery is brought about not by the physician, but by the sick man himself. He heals himself, by his own power, exactly as he walks by means of his own power, or eats, or thinks, breathes or sleeps.
-Georg Groddeck (1866-1934), German psychoanalyst. The Book of the It, Letter 32 (1923).
Today was a pretty good day.
-the diary I kept during my first experience with cancer. Shortly after this entry, the bone marrow transplant made me too weak to write regularly.
So I can tell you a few things, even in my rage, gentle reader.
I am more alive right now than you are. I cherish everything around me with a gripping, grasping desperate love. I live to feel with all five senses again, to drink in every feeling, good and bad, that life can offer. And if I die, I will not quietly slip away, I will die like a stroke of electricity and I will miss everything SO much.
There is no shame in dying of cancer.
The only shame is in not living. Not fighting.
One day soon I might die. But I'm not dead yet.
And I'm not going easy.
And today? Today was a pretty good day.
Popping Cancer - quick hit
I just talked to my oncologist and he had a few things to say.
First of all, it's chemotherapy or nothing. He suggested a different drug to substitute for the one that damaged the muscles near my heart and I'll ask him for more information when I'm in his office Friday.
Two, he wants to do a biopsy. Whatever. Minor surgery is the least of my worries at this point.
Three, and this is the troubling bit, he called from his VACATION in JAPAN. Now, under what circumstances would a doctor call from Japan? On his vacation? To a patient he just met 3 weeks ago? I'm not saying anything is hopeless yet, but this might be a good time to look into selling those stocks of Dan Champion Will Live Forever, Inc.
Sheila has posted a primer for newcomers to her incredible literary blog.
Yet another evil midget movie.
Query Letters I Love posts, or claims to post, actual query letters sent to a producer in Hollywood. Whether they're real or not, most are HI-larious.
This from the most recent offering:
Micro Management is about evil midgets who take over Titan Industries, a United States defense contractor and missile manufacturer, and attempt to use the missiles to blow up Disneyland.
The midgets want to exact their revenge against Disneyland and the other theme parks in order to get even for the height restriction that keeps them from riding all the “Good Rides”. It’s up to Steve Miller, an engineer at Titan, and his buddies, who play for Titan’s basketball team to stop the evil midgets.
I'd pay to see that.
Hypocrites, the lot of you!
Here's one of many links to the news story in which movie star Sandra Bullock made her million-dollar donation to help Tsunami victims. You may remember that Bullock also gave a mil after 9/11.
Here's what burns me up: Everywhere in bloggyland that I read about this story, some idiot says "Big deal, she's rich enough" or "One million dollars didn't make a dent in her budget."
I would really, really like to shake these people. Hard.
What did YOU give?
Let's think about this. Pretend that in the best year of her life, maybe the year after Speed came out, Bullock made $100 million. So a million bucks is 1/100th of her income.
Am I supposed to believe that any of those jerks criticizing her VERY generous gift gave so much more of their income that they find her donation meaningless? If you make $50,000 in a year, did you give $500 to Tsunami victims? If you make $15,000 in a year, did you give $150? Did you give ANYTHING, or were you just too busy criticizing folks who did give money to a worthy cause, money they had earned by working hard for it instead of whining all day about an unfair system?
Bullock isn't nearly my favorite actress. Not even in the top ten. I don't feel the need to defend her. I'm just saying: it isn't the critic who counts. Do SOMETHING, then maybe one day you'll earn the right to criticize the efforts of others.
That felt good.
I'm turning off the "RANT" button in my head now. You may proceed safely.
***UPDATE: Triticale has accurately pointed out that wealth is not linear. That is to say, even if Bullock gave 50 percent of her income, she'd still have a LOT of money left. The same is not true of those who make much less, even if the percentages remain the same. This is a fair argument against the flat tax, but that's not the heart of my argument here. If my math above offends you, rework the numbers to more accurately reflect the incomes of the above-mentioned idiots, then ask the question again. I suspect they remain idiots.***
Write your own headline here.
Keywords: Nutballz and Elvis' cup.
I'd say "keep it clean" but I don't think that's actually possible.
Popping Cancer Update 1-5-4
To quote Arthur's butler (and shame on you if you don't get the movie reference to this brilliant character): "I have seen the doctor, and he... has seen me."
The PETscan I did Friday had results within half an hour. First, you get the little tiny amount of good news: the original growth on my back is completely clean. No more cancer there.
Nice, but less meaningful when you hear the bad news: the cancer is definitely metastatic. It has spread not only to the second larger lump we kne about behind my heart, but to at least 5, and possibly as many as 10, other locations in my chest (5 or so were "indeterminate" sites).
This means a few things. One, it means surgery is out. No sense doing deep, invasive surgery if more of the things are just gonna keep popping up all over.
Two, radiation is less likely, since you can't really radiate the entire bloodstream. Unless you're writing a B-grade horror flick.
Three, the last-ditch option, chemotherapy (which, Popping Culture fans will recall, was last-ditch because the 8 years of chemotherapy I got as a teenager damaged my heart pretty bad, making more chemotherapy a probable ticket to heart not-workingage) may be the only option open now that will get the job done.
I have a meeting Friday with my oncologist that should set a course of treatment in place. Maybe they can mix in some new chemotherapy drugs beyond the ones that hurt my heart originally. Maybe the doctor has some other idea in mind.
Maybe I'm making things up because I'm out of other options.
I've stripped this entry down to bare-bones information sharing. Emotional response coming later in the day. We now return you to your popular culture news, already in progress.
January 04, 2005
Need the potty?
I've noticed that the number of lurkers (visitors who read the posts but don't respond) has gone up exponentially here at Popping Culture, possibly because of the cancer thing (results of the PETscan are in and coming to you later tonight!). I'm hoping this will draw a "yes" or "no" from the quiet masses.
Here's the question: Presented with this bathroom, which, as you can see, can't be looked in on, but....
...as you can also see, gives you a VERY clear view of the world around you...
...would you use it?
Assume for the purposes of this experiment that you have to go, but could probably make it to another toilet.
January 03, 2005
Popping Cancer update
Heading up to Cleveland for the day on Tuesday.
While there, my one-day, no-night stay will include a PETscan, a few injections and a visit with a thorasic surgeon. I will be (alternately) too encased, pained or advised to blog until evening.
This PETscan should be the deal that tells us once and for all what's going on in my body and what we can do or not do to deal with it. I have another meeting in Cleveland with my oncologist on Friday. By week's end, we should have a more complete diagnosis and a course of treatment and/or action.
Until I get back Tuesday evening, you'll have to get your news and popular culture updates from The Hulk.
Here's Dave Barry's last column.
At least for a while.
Popping Culture Book Club Selection of the Month and a frontal assault on Wal-Mart
I read this book, Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, some time ago as research for a paper I was working on in ethics class.
Ehrenreich spent a number of months in minimum wage (or close) jobs to see how well folks can survive on that level of pay. The answer: not well if at all.
Her easy-to-read book details the jobs she took, including one at Wal-Mart which gets a mention in this essay railing against the corporate giant.
While you're in line to read Nickel and Dimed at your local library or Barnes and Noble, you MUST READ the essay in full, which points out (and these are quotes):
For a two-hundred-employee Wal-Mart store, the government is spending $108,000 a year for children's health care; $125,000 a year in tax credits and deductions for low-income families; and $42,000 a year in housing assistance. The report estimates that a two-hundred-employee Wal-Mart store costs federal taxpayers $420,000 a year, or about $2,103 per Wal-Mart employee. That translates into a total annual welfare bill of $2.5 billion for Wal-Mart's 1.2 million US employees.
But the actual budget imposed on the store managers always falls short of the preferred budget, so that most Wal-Mart stores are permanently understaffed. The gap between the preferred and actual budgets gives store managers an idea of how much extra work they must try to extract from their workforce.
Jed Stone, a store manager at Wal-Mart between 1983 and 1991, explained to Rosen the practical consequences of this understaffing:
With the meager staff he was allowed, it had always been a struggle to keep the shelves stacked and the floors shiny, or to get hourly workers to help customers.
To get the work done Stone had to break the company rules by having employees work more than fifty hours a week—an "offense" for which a manager can be fired at Wal-Mart. Rosen also interviewed Katie Mitchell, a shop floor employee who worked night shifts at the unloading dock. Her task was to move goods from the dock to the store aisles where they could be stacked. She also had to count the goods with her handheld computer: "There was always too much work to be done and no one to help her," and at the end of the shift the supervisor was always at hand to issue a reprimand if the work had not been done.
Sandra Stevenson was an overnight supervisor at a Wal-Mart store in Gurnee, Illinois, whose job was to get the store ready for the next day's business. Stevenson was supposed to be assigned between fourteen and sixteen employees to do the job properly; but she was usually understaffed and her requests for additional workers were always turned down. Nevertheless, Stevenson was severely reprimanded for "the condition of the store in the mornings." After a string of such incidents, Stevenson found that her "spirit was broken" and she left the company. Many others have had similar experiences.
Perhaps the best evidence we have of this selective harassment is to be found in the depositions of 115 women who have testified against Wal-Mart in the Dukes case, a class-action lawsuit brought in 2001 by six female employees and named for one of the six, Betty Dukes, a Wal-Mart employee in Pittsburg, California. Most of the witnesses in the case have since either left Wal-Mart or been fired, but Betty Dukes herself continues to work as a greeter at the Pittsburg Wal-Mart. The suit, which alleges systematic discrimination by Wal-Mart both in the pay and promotion of women, is brought on behalf of 1.6 million female employees of Wal-Mart past and present, the largest civil rights case of its kind in US history. On June 22, 2004, US District Judge Martin Jenkins of San Francisco held that the Dukes lawsuit could proceed to trial, although a date has not been set.
The independence of spirit shown by the women in the Dukes case has therefore challenged the strict obedience that Wal-Mart requires of its rank-and-file employees. Indeed, the corporation insists on an elaborate aptitude test for new employees that is intended to weed out troublemakers. When Barbara Ehrenreich took the test at the Minneapolis Wal-Mart, she was told that she had given a wrong answer when she agreed "strongly" with the proposition that "rules have to be followed to the letter at all times." The only acceptable answer for Wal-Mart was "very strongly." Similarly, the only correct answer to the proposition "there is room in every corporation for a non-conformist" was: "totally disagree."
Since 1995 the US government has issued sixty complaints against Wal-Mart at the National Labor Relations Board, citing the illegal firing of pro-union employees, as well as the unlawful surveillance and intimidation of employees. But under the present law persistent violators of government rules such as Wal-Mart are responsible only for restoring the lost pay of fired workers —in most cases, not more than a few thousand dollars—and these penalties do not increase with successive violations. So long as US law makes it possible for Wal-Mart to crush efforts to organize unions it will continue to treat its more than a million workers shabbily, while the company no doubt continues to be celebrated in the business press as a a model of efficient modern management.
The exploitation of the working poor is now central to the business strategy favored by America's most powerful and, by some criteria, most successful corporation. With the re-election of a president as enamored of corporate power as George W. Bush, there is every prospect that this strategy and its harsh practices will continue to spread throughout the economy.
I voted for Bush, but it was in spite of his stand on big business and aggressive democracy, not because of it.
The essay (read it in full, please) doesn't paint a pretty picture. Still, there's nary a mention of the overseas sweat-shop labor, which is my main concern.
And there's an interesting bit on our own national guilt in this thing: for instance, knowing all of this, I still shop at Wal-Mart. I think about these things every time I go in, but still the Sirens call me back. The offenses above make possible a place where one can eat, shop for groceries, get the tires on the car changed, pick up prescriptions and even get new eyeglasses, all in one place with helpful and friendly (if underpaid and overworked) greeters.
The most telling bit is at the end: in our capitalistic society, Wal-Mart represents the most efficient of businesses. That's what makes it inhuman, while making it a model to be copied in the world of business. When the goal is money, people become tools of acquisition.
And I guarantee you that I'll let myself back in before January is out.
If you can't read this, you may have been educated in the United States.
Nearly six in 10 high school graduates in 2005 will start college in the fall, but half of them — and more than two-thirds of the African American and Latino students who enroll — will fail to earn either an associate's or bachelor's degree.
Probably because most reporters, policymakers and influential educators wouldn't be in the positions they're in if they had to recover from the setback that some public schools inflict.
We must grasp that the system that served us well is a failure, producing only two bachelor degrees for every 10 students who start high school.
Quotes are from this scathing article in the LA Times.
January 02, 2005
Popping Cancer Update postponed.
I promised you a longer update on the first 8-year fight with Hodgkin's Disease, to help set the frame for my current diagnosis, but it'll have to wait.
I've had an exhausting day, physically and emotionally and I didn't really do all that much. The bloody highlight was having to stop the sermon I was delivering so that I could sit down before passing out. I was gripping the poor dear pulpit so hard my knuckles were nearly white, and my field of vision had shrunk until I couldn't see the words of my sermon notes.
I'm still on the dizzy side nearly 12 hours later and I can no longer pretend to myself or others that all is well in DanWorld.
So, that sucks.
At least it made everyone pay a LOT more attention to communion, which came after the sermon (I was able to continue after about 4-6 minutes of blurriness), especially when I served grape juice to the huddled masses.
So your update comes later, k? In the meantime, let me direct you to the specific "cancer" topic in the right sidebar, that will point you quickly to all the cancerous posts I've been tossing up lately. You know, in case culture and goofy photos aren't your cup of Earl Grey.
Caution! Star Wars spoilers ahead!
Personal favorite lines:
“Say it I will. Told you so I did.”
Mace Windu goes out like a punk.
In a riveting and highly emotional scene, Hayden Christensen again displays his total lack of acting skills.
Quote of the Day
"What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well."—Antoine Saint-Exupery
The suddenly obsessive-compulsive posting of odd photos continues!
The hell of it is that the kid has to SIGN.
Well, how do I sleep now?
January 01, 2005
You laughin' at me? Because, ah, I don't see nobody else in here.
Another photograph for Joel
Popping Cancer update: quick hit!
By the end of this week, we'll know all we need to know.
It turns out the sarcoma this time around was caused by the radiation (and chemotherapy) I got in high doses to kill the Hodgkin's Disease I had from ages 18-26. Makes sense. Radiation causes cancer - that's why we don't vacation at Three Mile Island. Radiation cured and caused.
Here's a depressing thought. If I do die from this thing after a three-year battle, I will have spent nearly a third of my life fighting cancer. Neat. I better live, or at least get my money back.
I have an update coming in the next day or two on my tactics for surviving the first time around. In the meantime, we'll return you to the cultural part of our blog. I even have another disturbing photograph for Joel, since he loved the last. If you are new here, and want to catch up on the cancer thing, I've introduced a topic heading in the right sidebar that will take you to the cancer posts exclusively. Go team!
Oh, and forgive the uncharacteristic political post below. Respond to it, but forgive.
New Year's resolution: a little self-definition would be nice
Back in my once-and-future Iron Blog debate days, the Chairman asked those of us who were debaters to submit our answers to a long list of opinion questions regarding various political beliefs. The original goal was to get us lined up for future debates, the but end result was a scrambling of my own self-beliefs.
I have always considered myself a conservative Republican at heart. I knew that I had liberal tendencies in the areas surrounding social issues (attending one of the most liberal seminaries in the country was a clue), but at heart, I saw myself as a Reagan Rightie.
Then the list happened.
Here are the answers I gave. Your task, if you choose to accept it, is two-fold. First of all, where would you place me on the political spectrum based solely on those answers and second, what are YOUR answers?
(I am not interested in, nor will I engage in, political debate on this blog. Unless I want to.)
Abortion: Should be mandatory. (ok, get the joke out of the way first I say. Now I can be serious) Against abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother's life. Then the choice is the mother's. I believe a woman has the right to do what she wants with her own body. She uses that choice when she has unprotected sex or sex with a form of contraception that has a known failure rate. After conception, there is a body that is not hers to contend with.
Abstinence-Only Sex Ed: Against
Affirmative Action: against if a more qualified majority member fails to get hired. For if racism/sexism is clear
AIDS Funding: Um.. not sure how this is debatable. I'm for it
Alternative Energy: necessary with the coming oil crisis. Should be funded by government and any wanna-be rich folks in the private sector.
Animal Research: for it within strict limits and only if clear ease of suffering to human life can be proven.
Animal Rights: in favor... not sure who would be against this.
Arab-Israeli Conflict: I disagree with the heart of the argument on both sides of this issue. We should stay out of it.
Assault Rifle Ban: in favor of banning assault rifles for private residences. You don't need one to kill wildlife.
Balanced Budget: hmmm.. tough one. I think deficit spending CAN work, but mostly I like a balanced budget.
Brady Bill: I am in favor of gun ownership, against the NRA and extremes on both sides
Bush Tax Cuts: In favor.
Business Taxes: In favor of.. not sure where there's a question here, unless it's a stimulate growth thing.
Campaign Finance Reform: of course. Salary cap, elected officials on Social Security, the works.
Capitalism: for it, insomuch as I enjoy its benefits. I am against the implications it carries with it of the worth of a person being measured in dollars. Also, I am against it insomuch as it requires an expanding market, hence cultural invasion and war.
Censorship: against it
Childcare (State): against it
China-Taiwan Conflict: no opinion
Christian Nation: I don't know what the debate would be. I want the country to be open to all religions and for everyone to freely choose to be Christian.
Church and State: separation of state from church, but not church from state. That is to say, the state should not dictate religion to churches, but each church member should vote his/her conscience and belief.
Class Warfare: No opinion
Cloning (Animals): in favor of
Cloning (Human Body Parts): in favor of
Cloning (Humans): no opinion as of today
Compulsory Organ Donation: against
Compulsory Vaccinations (Children): against
Compulsory Vaccinations (Military): no opinon
Compulsory Voting: against
Copyright: no opinion. A writer's original work should remain his own.
Corporal Punishment (In Schools): with parental approval only
Creationism As Science: approve of, but not at the expense of evolution
Cuba (Policy) : no opinion. Good cigars.
Death Penalty: violently opposed to
Defense Spending: in favor of
Deficit Spending: generally against, but with the right economic passage, I can allow it
Disability Rights (Accessibility): for
Disability Rights (Employment): for
Don't Ask/Don't Tell: no opinion
Draft: against until last option
Drugs: against, except for medicinal purposes
Education (Homeschooling): in favor of
Education (Public): in favor of
Education (Private): in favor of
Electoral College: dumbest thing I ever heard, but necessary to avoid canditates from only campaigning in high-density areas. I like the idea of spliting states votes in proportion to the overall vote in that state, with the first two votes going to the majority candidate in all cases.
Environmental Protection: in favor of
Euthanasia: violently in favor of
Evolution As Science: in favor of
E-Voting: no opinon
Flag Burning:personally against, no opinion as a policy matter
Flat Tax: in favor of
Fossil Fuel: almost gone
Fox News: biased but in my direction
Free Trade: in favor of with restrictions and precautions
Gambling (General): no opinion
Gambling (Indian): no opinon, if you are going to gamble your Indian, be prepared to lose him/her
Gay Adoption: in favor of
Gay Marriage: in favor of
Global Warming: sounds bad.
Gun Control: generally against, but against assault and high-powered weaponry. Against guns beyond hunting purposes.
Hate Crimes: in favor of laws against, with tough conditions for establishing a hate crime
Hate Speech (Should It Be Protected): no
Homeland Security (Policy): no opinion
Homeland Security Department (Should It Exist): yes
Immigration: allowable, but tightened considerably
Income Taxes: in favor of, except for me personally
Instant Runoff Voting: what? I've never heard of this
Intelligence (Iraq War): no opinion
Intelligence (Terrorism): no opinion
International Court: good idea, but not ultimately enforcible
Iraq Handover: in favor of
Iraq Occupation: should end soon, please. World is a better place without the very real brutalities of Saddam Hussein, regardless of underlying purposes for war.
Iraq War: against, as it was not a last resort
Judicial Activism: no opinion
Judicial Nominees (Bush): no opinion
Kyoto Protocols: no opinion
Legacy Admissions: no opinion
Liberal Media: clearly the mainstream media is liberal. Ask CBS about the proof it requires to attack Bush (answer: clearly fake documents) versus the proof it requires to attack Kerry (answer: 100s of fellow servicemens' eye-witness testimony can be instantly discounted)
Line Item Veto: in favor of
Living Wage: should be raised. A lot.
Manditory Sentencing: no opinion
Medicinal Marijuana: in favor of
Military Intervention: case by case
Minimum Wage: should be raised immediately. A lot.
Minority Voters: um... not sure of the issue here.
NAFTA: no opinion
National Sales Tax: no opinion, only to replace income tax
National Service (Compulsory): against
North Korea (Policy): no opinion
No Smoking Bans: dunno
Nuclear Energy: in favor of with strict safeguards
Nuclear Weapons (Retain or Reduce): reduce
Oil Exploration (Alaska): against, prefer to see funds go to alternative energy, strongly against
Oil Exploration (Offshore): against, prefer to see funds go to alternative energy, strongly against
Overpopulation: exists.. no opinion on solution other than education
Pakistan-India Conflict: we should stay out of it
Patients' Bill Of Rights: strongly in favor of. Strongly
Patriot Act: no opinion
Pledge Of Allegiance: God can stay in, no strong feeling on this
Political Correctness: be nice to each other, don't go nuts.
Pornography: against, but for personal freedoms
Prayer In School: should be allowed, not mandated
Prison System: no opinion or knowledge
Race Relations: not sure of the topic here.
Racial Profiling: in favor of for certain crimes but not others
Reasonable Search and Seizure: I'm in favor of reasonable things
Right To Privacy (Boundaries): right to privacy up to the point where reasonable certainty of harm exists
Scarcity: haves should share with have-nots, everyone should be allowed to live.
Social Security (Privitization): no opinion, leaning to "against"
Social Security (Solvency): as solvent as our government. Scary, that
Spanking: in favor of with strict guidelines and individual parental approval in schools. Only in extreme cases at home.
Special Education (Integration v. Isolation): no opinion
Stem Cell Research: in favor of
Sudan Conflict: no opinion
Term Limits: in favor of
Terrorism (Cause): no opinion
Terrorism (Islam): Islam is a religion of peace, as with Christianity, it is the Fundamentalists who are harmful
Terrorism (Prevention): one of the few areas I allow racial profiling. No strong opinion otherwise
Third Parties: in favor of. I am nearly centrist as it is.
Tort Reform: no opinion or knowledge
Unions: against "any means necessary" unions, but in favor when the little guy is taken advantage of
United Nations (Membership): the UN is now mostly useless and irrelevant anymore. We can stay or go, I don't really care. Nations should do what they see is good, regardless if France or whoever cries. Now, if EVERYONE cries, that's another matter.
Utility Deregulation: no opinion
Veganism: fine with me, but I need the meat
Violence In Media: overdone, very overdone, allowable with warnings
War On Terror (Policy): no opinion generally, stop evil where it lives, always.
War On Terror (Success): very possible, given how you define success. It is not ever possible to stop everyone who might ever commit acts of terrorism, but success can be measured in other ways. The price of peace is eternal vigilance.
WTO: no opinion
The Year in Culture!
Here's a link to, um, you know, the year in culture.
Everything from books to blogging to Boston baseball. This year-end round-up includes a cleverly worded bit relating and separating The Passion of the Christ and Farenheit 9/11.
Maybe MY year didn't end so hot...
but at least I didn't lose 88 million dollars - again.