February 28, 2005
Eye Candy Two-Shot
Madame Monet and Her Son
by Claude Monet
Boats Leaving the Harbor
by Claude Monet
Water Lilies is my favorite by Monet, but is not pictured. Usually I also provide a brief biography of the artist, but Monet has been done at least once and it's time you kids started to grow up and learn a bit more about the big guns on your own. Google on, you savages, I'm not going to be here to hold your paint-stained hands forever!
PS Monet is worth the effort of studying.
Another incident in what is becoming an uncomfortable epidemic.
Skunk on, um, man violence.
Full story here. (free and easy registration required)
I think it's a Freudian typo, but in an e-mail to my newspaper Carol said, "This is when the hole disaster starts."
Most Uncomfortable Quote:
She's not trying to add insult to unspeakable injury, but she blames her husband and not Ozzie for this one. "He was playing rough with him on his lap, and Ozzie bit down on my husband's penis," right through his sweat pants, she said.
And I'm supposed to be sad because they snuffed the skunk!
Worth a link.
Any article with the sentence (given in a scientific context), "Cows look calm, but really they are gay nymphomaniacs" deserves a link.
Coming soon, no doubt to a Wal-Mart near you!
The name you can trust. Seems like a perfume (Eau de Hidey Hole?) is already in the works.
This will go great with my Mengele grill and my Pol Pot ice tongs.
February 27, 2005
OF COURSE America's schools haven't gone off the deep end!
What's that? Rubber band?
Rojas said she was shocked to learn that her son was being punished for a Level 4 offense -- the highest Level at the school. Other violations that also receive level 4 punishment include arson, assault and battery, bomb threats and explosives, according to the Code of Student Conduct.
Any of you teachers out there (Jay, Jim, Bonnie) defending this move?
Popping Cancer reflection: It doesn't take a strong person.
I got a compliment from a friend in email this week.
After I described my most recent chemotherapy treatment, she wrote back that I was such a "strong" person.
Looking back over the treatment I've done in the course of my lifetime, I would never have thought it possible that I could have survived all that, but the survival, in my mind, isn't necessarily what strength is.
Taking acts to preserve your life when the only alternative is death is not strength. Not if you want to live.
This last course of treatment added a new horror. My kidneys decided they didn't like being poisoned once and for all. They (my kidneys) said to themselves "let's get this junk out of here ASAP." And so, without even consulting me, they started a regimen of toxic drug removal. For days, I had to go to the bathroom every 15-20 minutes while I was awake, and at night I would wake up to run (yes, run) to the bathroom every 45-60 minutes.
On top of everything else, this was physically and psychologically quite a blow to me. Take three hours and just get up every 15-20 minutes, walk to the bathroom, and return. Then imagine that against your will, already weak and exhausted and ridden with other side effects. For three days.
Sleep comes only in half-hour bites and then only if you can find a comfortable position to sleep (remember, I am recovering from surgery on Monday as well).
Added to that task was the job of having to constantly be drinking water. Otherwise, the tasks above became, well, painful on top of everything else. Who would have thought that drinking water could be such a chore?
All the old familiar side effects with this one thrown in on top. And yet, what could I do? Nothing but suffer through it until it was over. Sleep when I could, avoid accidents, go back each day for more poison, which I knew would only extend it.
Because I suffered through this week of chemotherapy (I'm still in recovery, and am very, very weak still, but the worst has passed), does that make me strong? I don't think so. Maybe if I was taking it on so someone else could get well. Maybe if it was for a cause outside myself.
The way I see it, my choices are two:
1) take whatever suffering the treatment chooses to impose.
Pretty clear to me.
Now, here's where strength comes in: What do you do with it? I try to get out when I can when I'm healthy (last time I had a cough and was mostly homebound). I even preached one post-chemotherapy week last time and I might do so again this week coming up if I get strong in a hurry. I try when I can to make poor Mrs. Popping Culture's suddenly impossible life easier. Once last time when she was sick I walked the dog. Seems like a small thing, but given my health, it was like I had cured, well, cancer.
I think strength is the ability to keep living your life as much and as well as you can despite the nonsense you HAVE to do. And we all have our own nonsense.
We all have, to put it in Christian parlance, our crosses to bear. What we do once we have those crosses on our backs is what makes us strong.
Cancer ends the lives of many more people than it kills. This is a true statement.
February 26, 2005
What video game am I playing right now?
Well, I'm still pretty sick, so I'm going with something that has a little less impact:
What movie makes you cry?
I watched Field of Dreams again today. As you know, I'm a very manly man, but this movie is my weakness. I can make it about 2/3 of the way through without tearing up, but then that little girl says "You don't have to sell the farm!" and, shortly after, James Earl Jones does his speech about the power of baseball as the players move in to listen.
Gets me every time. From there, it's a short ride to the girl falling and the Doc fixing her up (sniffle) Jones heading into the corn (sniffle), and Costner's dad (off the charts sniffles).
Anybody else have one movie in particular that always hits you that way, no matter what?
Sorry to leave you hanging.
But I just don't link to stories like this. It's just not funny.
February 25, 2005
Popping Cancer Update.
Not feeling especially well, which is of course to be expected.
Still, I'm starting to show signs of life again.
Thank you for your prayers and patience and enjoy the earth below!
Somebody emailed me the most amazing image ever. Enjoy.
Ryan Seacrest is more than just not talented!
Blogging is big.
But is it big enough for this guy to quit work and survive on it?
$30/yearly suggested donation.
Not feeling well, but I thought you might enjoy reading about the new toys headed for market!
February 24, 2005
Popping Cancer Update: Home Now
I'm home. It's gonna take a day or two before I start to feel good, and I'll probably feel worse before I feel better.
But I'm home.
I'm thinking by tonight I might be back on with the silly.
Popping Cancer Update: day three begins
Long night. Going for treatment shortly.
Will post when I can... long day ahead.
Prayers, et. al., requested and welcomed.
February 23, 2005
Popping Culture: the end of day two.
I think that the McDonald's story below will be the extent of my silly blogging this evening, if you don't mind. I am not feeling very well.
Tomorrow is day three, after which I will check in or have Mrs. Popping Culture do so.
Worst. Bribe. Ever.
And I quote:
Steven T. Denton, 32, was charged with a felony count of attempting to bribe a law officer after he allegedly offered to spring for McDonald's cheeseburgers in exchange for his release.
The officer added, "He also stated that if I did not like cheeseburgers, he would buy me some chicken instead."
You just can't make stuff like this up.
Popping Cancer Update: home from day two.
I'm home and mostly in once piece. I'm alive, and while it feels like I'm not going to be happy about that fact for the next few days, I've made it this far. It's like my own watered-down version of being alive.
Tomorrow is day three.
Popping Cancer Update: Chemo day two of three.
That about sums it up. Starts to get real today.
Health permitting, I'll post this afternoon to let you know I'm alive and stuff. If I can't post, I'll have Mrs. Popping Culture drop a note.
From Popping Culture's Nostalgia Desk.
The opening themes to 94 shows from your childhood. Or at least, your not-as-old-as-now.
Hat tip to Kimm.
February 22, 2005
The Hilton sisters in proper perspective.
Ian Spieglman (who writes the gossip on the New York Post's Page Six) gets it right:
You take the Hilton sisters — you can brush 'em off as a couple of stupid rich bitches, and they might be that, but at the same time, they're like this American tragedy. They have everything. There's no reason why they shouldn't live a great life and do great things, but at the same time, they've had no parental supervision, ever. There's no one around who seems to care what happens to them, and so, every time you look at them, they're falling down. And as much as I dislike rich people, I have sympathy for what's happened to them, because they don't even know what's happened to them. They're just two girls who someone should've looked after, and no one ever did, and no one ever will. They're gonna go through guy after guy that they think could be Daddy. It's not gonna be Daddy. And they're going to abuse maid after maid . . . I mean, what connects me to Page Six is that these are human beings that we're talking about.
My book is about people who should've been watched at some point, somewhere when they were kids. And every day I write about people who someone should've watched, except that they're rich. And that, to me, is not a mitigating circumstance. It doesn't matter to me if you're rich; someone should've looked out for them. Someone should've looked out for Bijou Phillips ... all the kids I write about.
Interview (with saucy language) in full here.
Another hard day ends on a happy note.
Sure, I have intense pain with virtually any movement thanks to surgery. Yes, they poisoned me today.
But it ends on a happy note once again.
You might ask why.
Because I'm in love?
Because I know in my heart of hearts that I did my best today despite it all?
Because of my enduring faith in God?
Vicodin. Blessed, blessed Vicodin.
Strength of spirit, personal faith and the ability to deal with pain and still keep fighting are all wonderful and necessary, but when you need to get some sleep, none of them beat the big V.
I'm tempted to write a sermon.
It could be worse.
We could all live in Sacramento:
Christian fundamentalists add Shrek to the homosexual hit list.
Oh, good, more bigotted press for the Christians! It's a relief that there aren't any problems in the world bigger than which animated characters have questionable sexual preferences.
You know, even though Paul only brought it up once and Jesus never mentioned it at all, homosexuality sure has become fundamentalists' favorite sin. I'm thinking because (a) they think it's ickier than other sins (like the sins they are personally committing) and (b) it's an easy one to point fingers at.
This is just great. I miss EVERYTHING.
The story below requires a free registration.
I have no doubt you will think the registration worthwhile when you hear the story title:
"Health officials use school cafeteria for cat sterilizations"
"It probably was not the best place to carry out that service in hindsight," says a D.C. health department official.
Popping Cancer Update: My day so far.
Well, I just got home from the first of three days of chemotherapy treatments. Now, I get to choose between icing down the swollen ouchie areas from surgery yesterday and popping anti-nausea pills. So many choices.
All is well. It takes about 5-6 hours all together to put in all the pre-meds and then the chemo drugs themselves, so you can expect not to hear from me for vast stretches of tomorrow and the day after as well.
Everything is still sore from surgery, but if I have to have surgery pain and I have to have chemotherapy, might as well get them over with at the same time, yes?
I met a lady today whose husband and father are both undergoing chemotherapy at the same time. In fact, her husband was leaving from treatment just as she arrived with her father. Cancer sucks.
I don't have any real reflections today, just bringing you up to speed. Maybe after I take a couple Vicodin something will spring to mind.
February 21, 2005
Popping Culture Update: The Big Ouch
Surgery is done. I just got home. The catheter is under my skin.
Not that you can feel it through all the swelling. The pain is just phenomenal, and I've felt some pain before. Every few seconds, a little more of the drugs they used to put me under for surgery wears off and the pain gets just that much worse.
Mrs. Popping Culture is off getting blessed Vicotin. I'm going downstairs under the electric blanket to mutter and whine for the night, but I thought I'd let you savages know that I am alive and reasonably well.
Chemotherapy is scheduled for the next three days but may be pushed back a day if the swelling around this port is not down enough. That's pretty much it for now.
If you ask me, it's enough. Still, happy to be alive, every day is a gift, etc.
It has to be somewhere near time for Armageddon...
...when my only response to this story at 9:40 a.m. is "Oh. Another woman-cuts-off-man's-penis" story.
When did this particular form of retaliation become standard operating procedure?
PS Here's a new twist (pardon the word choice): for flushing his dismembered member down the toilet, the woman was also charged with "tampering with evidence."
The man wanted to break up with Tran, but the woman resisted that idea, Shell said. The two were arguing about the issue sometime before midnight Saturday, but at some point they decided to have sex.
Starbucks to sell liquor.
Now you can head to work twitchy AND drunk.
Popping Cancer Update: Surgery, Coughing
Well, today's the big day: surgery to implant a Port-A-Cath.
I'm a little worried by this cough. It's better, but I still have coughing fits when it's cold or when I lay down. So, of course I'll be going into a cold operating room and laying flat on my back. My hope is that they can give me something to stop me coughing (or even put me under). I'd hate for the surgeon to be threading a tube into a vein near my heart when I started coughing.
I go in at about 1 p.m., roughly 4 hours from now.
My other concern is the IV. Last time we tried chemotherapy, it didn't go because my veins kept blowing out at inopportune times. That's why we're putting in the catheter. So they'll have to start an IV line in order to do surgery and here's hoping it goes well.
Finally, for those of you keeping track of things to worry or pray about, depending on which part of the Interweb you snuck in from, there's a chance of swelling around the port. We need any swelling to go down quickly so we can use the thing for chemotherapy tomorrow. Got it?
Fun, fun, fun. I have the most interesting days.
From Popping Culture's Fashion Desk.
Wear it in good health.
February 20, 2005
It is what it is.
Prayer changes things.
Suck on this, God-haters:
"A priest known by locals as the Fishing Father was praying the Magnificat as he was ice fishing one cold afternoon last month. He makes a point of praying whenever he fishes, whether he catches anything or not.
On. Jan. 4, it turned out to be quite an intercessory prayer: the Rev. Mariusz Zajac pulled in a world-record walleye, 18.3 pounds."
Looks like you chose the wrong week to be an atheist.
(site requires free registration)
It, uh, wasn't us.
"During the six-month period that ended Tuesday, 3,896 prank calls to Chicago's 911 emergency center were placed from a pair of phone numbers at a single West Side address."
Hard to play that one off. You can blame the dog once or twice, but not four thousand times.
What video game am I playing right now?
Well, with the chemotherapy coming, I've had to play lower impact games.
Still, this one looks like fun!
Popping Cancer Update: vacation's over
Not that it has been much of a vacation. Instead of feeling stronger every day, I've been laid up by this obnoxious cough.
Still, tomorrow it's go time again. Surgery tomorrow to implant a Port-A-Cath (presuming they can give me something to stop this cough), then three days in a row of chemotherapy.
Sure it sounds rough, but you should hear the alternative.
February 19, 2005
Hey! You could put a cat's eye out with that thing!
Ara takes a break from running down all the beliefs I hold dear to give us this absolute gem involving a cat, a video recorder and a laser pointer.
Kimm comes through with another link.
I promised myself I wouldn't sully Popping Culture with the Robert Blake case.
But seriously, crack-smoking monkeys?
Tiger Woods, y'all
Tiger can regain the number one ranking in the world with a fourth-place or better finish in this weekend's Nissan Open.
Right now, he's tied for fifth during a rain delay. Note that this will change as he plays today. Maybe by the time you click the link, he's in third. Or first. Or disqualified. Exciting, isn't it?
Thanks to Kimm for this amusing link.
February 18, 2005
Yay! Something new to worry about!
Popping Cancer Update: estimated time of Complete Head Hair Loss (CHHL): 8 p.m.
Much-coveted locks of your gentle host's hair will be going on sale in short order.
See? The trick is to know your audience.
Racist group to recruit at NASCAR race.
They just now thought of this?
Popping Cancer Update: It seems that I have cancer.
Last night I woke up at around 1:30 a.m. drenched in sweat. The sheets were drippy and so was I, head to toe. If you identified this as a sign of recurrent disease, proceed to paragraph two.
Sure enough, this morning my hair started falling out in handy clumps. It would appear, my friends, that this has not all been some elaborate practical joke at my expense.
Maybe this time around I'll go with skullcaps instead of bandanas. Then again, last time around, Bonnie's mom made me some bandanas that were pretty sweet. I think a black skullcap would be appropriate for church, though.
For some folks, losing their hair is a traumatic part of the cancer experience. It is a sort of visual confirmation AND it sets them apart from others leading normal lives in an undeniable way. Again, however a cancer patient reacts to cancer is appropriate. Let them feel how they feel.
I mostly don't care about my hair. My theory is along the lines of "anything that hides a face this pretty cannot be a good thing in the long run."
What I don't like is the initial day or three of tossing out hair clumps. Stuff gets everywhere.
It could be worse, I guess. Chemotherapy could make you lose fingers, or I could be watching SportsCenter and my head could just roll off. As side effects go, this is the least important to me.
February 17, 2005
Two more are fine...
...but you just cannot give this woman enough Grammys for my taste.
That's Norah Jones, you savages.
Once again, because it's a favorite:
by Edward Hopper
Biography from artfacts.net:
Born in Nyack, New York (US)
Edward Hopper is considered to be one of America's greatest modern painters.
Son of Garret Henry Hopper and Elizabeth Griffiths Smith Hopper, initially attends a private school and then the local public school, Nyack High School
1899 - 1900
With his parents’ support, studies illustration at the Correspondence School of Illustrating
1900 - 1906
New York School of Art, studies illustration with Arthur Keller and Frank Vincent DuMond, then painting under Robert Henri, William Merritt Chase, and Kenneth Hayes Miller. Painted [Solitary Figure in a Theatre]
Employed as an illustrator by C. C. Phillips & Company, a New York advertising agency
Visits Paris, painting city streets in an Impressionist manner and watercolour caricatures
Participates in his first exhibition, organised by fifteen of Robert Henri’s students in the old Harmonie Club building, 43-45 West Forty-second Street, New York
1909 - 1910
Visits Paris twice, painting out-of-doors along the Seine frequently
During winter exhibits in the International Exhibition, the Armory Show and sold his first canvas there, Sailing 1911. Moves to top-floor studio at 3 Washington Square North, New York, where he lived until his death
1915 - 1924
Learns to etch and concentrates on printmaking, producing an outstanding array of etchings and drypoints. Including: American Landscape 1920
Solo exhibition of paintings, principally of his Paris years at the Whitney Studio Club, New York. None of the paintings sell, and at thirty-seven, still dependent on commercial illustration to earn his living, Hopper begins to doubt whether he will achieve success as an artist
Begins to paint with watercolours, one is bought by the Brooklyn Museum. Awarded prizes for etching in exhibitions in Chicago and Los Angeles. Exhibits at National Arts Club, New York, in the Humorist’s Exhibition
Marries the painter, Josephine Verstille Nivison. Approaches Frank Rehn who offers him his first solo exhibition at a commercial gallery; all eleven paintings sell and five more are sold from the back room, enabling Hopper to give up commercial illustration work and encouraging him to paint in oils again
Exhibits at the Pennsylvania Academy in Philadelphia, they purchase an oil painting. Visits Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he paints seven watercolours
Paints Automat. With sale of Two on the Aisle for 1,500 dollars buys first automobile, a two-year-old Dodge. He is able to paint in remote places in both Ogunquit and Gloucester
Included in MoMA’s second exhibition, Paintings by Nineteen Living Americans
Paints Early Sunday Morning. During the summer, Hopper and his wife rent “Bird Cage Cottage” in South Truro, Massachusetts on Cape Cod
At age of fifty-one, receives his first large-scale solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. Exhibits twenty-five oils, thirty-seven watercolours and eleven prints
In July Hopper and his wife move into the studio/house that he has designed in South Truro (where they spent most of their successive summers)
Paints House at Dusk. Awarded Temple Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the First Purchase Prize in watercolour, Worchester Art
Paints Office at Night
Paints Nighthawks, purchased by the Art Institute of Chicago, and is an overnight success, becoming signature work for Hopper and an iconic American image
Awarded Logan Art Institute Medal and Honorarium, The Art Institute of Chicago
Retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, touring to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Awarded honorary degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, by the Art Institute of Chicago. Paints Cape Cod Morning
Hopper was one of four artists chosen by the American Federation of Arts to represent the United States in the Venice Biennale. Paints Morning Sun
Awarded Honorary degree, Doctor of Letters, Rutgers University. The Metropolitan Museum, about to open new American wing, purchases Office in a Small City
Gold Medal for Painting presented by the National Institute of Arts and Letters in the name of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
Awarded Huntington Hartford Foundation fellowship and stays at foundation’s headquarters in Pacific Palisades, California for six months
Solo exhibition at Currier Gallery of Art, tours to Rhode Island School of Design in December and Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut
Receives Art in America Annual Award. Paints Second Story Sunlight
October-November, The Complete Graphic Work of Edward Hopper, runs at Philadelphia Museum of Art
Receives award from the St Botolph Club, Boston. Retrospective Exhibition at the Arizona Art Gallery, in South Truro. Paints Sun in an Empty Room
May, protracted illness keeps Hopper from painting. Awarded M. V. Khonstamn Prize for Painting, The Art Institute of Chicago. September-November, major Retrospective Exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, which travels to the Art Institute of Chicago and is well received by critics
Retrospective tours to the Detroit Institute of Arts and the City Art Museum of St Louis. Awarded honorary degree, Doctor of Fine Arts, Philadelphia College of Art. July 16, death of Hopper’s sister Marion in Nyack, New York. Paints final work Two Comedians
Awarded Edward MacDowell Medal
Edward Hopper dies in his studio at 3 Washington Square North
Jo Hopper dies on 6 March
In case you missed it....
....Bill Clinton won a Grammy on Sunday.
I bet this guy's pizza always gets there in 30 minutes or less.
Not a bad idea on the face of it.
This may be the end of Popping Culture.
When two "dogs playing poker" paintings sell for nearly $600,000, there isn't really much reason to keep up the illusion that there's much culture left out there to comment on.
Of course, to some of my readership, dogs playing poker ranks right up there with velvet Elvis as the very pinnacle of art culture.
February 16, 2005
This is what happens when you give a Billy Joel fan access to flash software.
I was happy to sit through the whole thing, if only to see the pictures and because the creator of this site spent hours putting it together.
Hat tip to Kimm.
Googlebattle results: Daniel Champion rules your world.
Here are a few humbling Googlebattle.com results:
Daniel Champion 2,090,000
Joel Caris 113,000
Daniel Champion 2,090,000
Jim Cartwright 375,000
Dan Champion 3,250,000
Ara Rubyan 13,900
The Beatles 12,200,000
Numbers don't lie.
From the kitchens of Popping Culture.
I have recently perfected this recipe, which should help with both my constant dry cough AND my lack of sleep.
-An adult dose of Nyquil, measured out into that cute plastic cap
-Some more Nyquil
Preparation (2 minutes):
1) Pick up the carefully measured adult dose of Nyquil. Drink it.
2) Pour out some more Nyquil into the plastic cap, to taste. Don't worry if some overflows the top.
3) Drink that as well.
4) Find a place to lay down. Quickly.
I gotta take a break from this Pirates! computer game.
This keyboard is becoming more and more attractive:
From Popping Culture's "Pranks of Questionable Taste" Desk
You know, I'm just sure I hold political views fairly opposite of whoever played this prank.
Nevertheless, I have to give props for the effort. Not an easy stunt to pull off, and I gotta admit it made me chuckle for a second. Um, until I was outraged, of course. Sort of shows how political discourse has been replaced by venom these days.
***UPDATE: I've received a few emails about this. Apparently, despite my own words, a few folks out there think that by drawing attention to something, I am endorsing it. My thought-out, reasoned response is this: Read my words. Lighten up. That is all.***
Remember Jenna Elfman?
She played space cadet Dharma of Dharma and Greg sort-of fame?
Well, the show may have ended, but she's keeping the space cadet gear.
“I intend to make Scientology as accessible to as many people as I can. And that is my goal,” Elfman said. To do this, she says, it is my “duty to clear the planet.” By “clearing” she means to rid the world of “body thetans” — aliens who Scientologists believe inhabit the earth from a nuclear explosion 75 million years ago.
Popping Cancer Blood Test Results: OW! OW! HEY, OW!
My bloodwork came back nearly fine, except my hemoglobin was down. They gave me a shot of ProCrit, which I think I've seen on the television.
The nurse, as she was sticking the needle into my arm, said "this will burn a little bit." What an appropriate thing to say. At first, I thought she had set me on fire.
If it was torture, I would have told the secret plans or sold out little Timmy or revealed Mr. Wonderful's fatal weakness - whatever they wanted.
Still, it looks like we're set to go for chemo next Tuesday - Thursday, presuming all goes well with the surgery Monday.
Popping Culture: Once more unto the vampires, my friends!
Yet another blood test today, this time to determine if my blood can handle surgery and another round of chemotherapy. I'm confident.
I'll let you know how it goes.
Got a bill today for almost $20,000 after insurance. Neat. It's cool though, I have until the end of February to pay it.
Here's a reality show I'd watch!
Pimp my bike.
I would just like to point out that my alma mater, Old Domininion University, is putting together quite the season. Usually, the only way for a team from the CAA to get into March Madness is to win the tournament.
With numbers like these, the Monarchs might even pull off an at-large bid.
February 15, 2005
Because I love you, another poem by Wallace Stevens
The Emperor of Ice-Cream
by Wallace Stevens
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
How are your hands working? How about your eyes?
Now, can you coordinate the two?
PS let em go for a while and watch what happens!
Ah, the good old days.
2 meg RAM, 20 MHz engine... all for UNDER $9,000.
Popping Cancer: Our Story So Far
I've gotten a few questions from recently-inducted readers of Popping Culture about my current health. Maybe it's time to recap:
-I'm 36 now. When I was 18, I was diagnosed with late-stage Hodgkin's Disease, which I beat over about 8 years on-and-off with chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant.
-Ten years after the bone marrow transplant, in fact the week before Thanksgiving last year, I noticed a big (maybe chalkboard-eraser sized, but not as long?) lump on my upper left shoulder. This turned out to be a sarcoma (a rare cancer) caused by the radiation treatments from my first cancer experience.
-Before you could say "innumerable trips to Cleveland Clinic Hospitals in the snow," the sarcoma had spread into my chest, near my lungs. There is a big lump near my aorta and about 5-10 smaller ones throughout my chest cavity, this as per my last scan.
-Radiation is not an option because the cancer is in my blood (metastisized). Surgery is not an option. So we're doing chemotherapy. The chemo is complicated by the fact that the lead drug, adriamicin, is the drug I used primarily back in the day to defeat Hodgkin's. It damaged the muscles near my heart pretty severely (I beat out about 30-35 percent of the blood in my heart with each beat - you normal folks get up near 55 or 60 percent). Using adriamicin could make my heart, you know, stop. So we're using alternate chemo drugs.
-I just finished the first couple treatments and I'm gaining strength for the next cycle. A normal chemotherapy cycle is three days of chemo (back-to-back-to-back) followed by three weeks off. I have a relatively minor surgery Monday, Feb. 21, then my next chemo cycle hits on the 22nd-24th. At the end of the next cycle, we will re-take the scans to see if the chemo has made a difference. If not, we juggle some drugs, I guess.
That's all I can really think of right now. Feel free to post any questions you might have in the comments box and I might actually answer them.
Love, or whatever, is in the air!
Do these names sound familiar?
Yes, there's a chance the registry is fake. Still, let's just hope those crazy kids can make it work.
Once again expanding Popping Culture's appeal.
Don't mess with Popping Culture! It's not all culture highlights and cancer updates: Popping Culture has a rough, streetwise side, too, y'know. To prove it we present:
Deal with it.
February 14, 2005
Popping Cancer: Coughing Up The Update
I have another blood test Wednesday. This one is to make sure my body can handle another round of chemotherapy next week.
Maybe we'll also get a handle on what's causing this annoying cough. It is non-productive and comes straight from my lungs.
I cough much more when one of the following conditions are met:
1 - I'm cold.
2 - I exert.
3 - Aspect changes (I sit down, lay down or stand up)
SO annoying. And it looks like it will keep me from a hoped-for visit to Rochester on Friday. I feel like I might be gaining strength, but coughing ALL DAY is exhausting, so who can say?
Working to make your Popping Culture experience more pleasant.
A kind emailer suggested that Popping Culture would be more popular with some girl-on-girl action. I have no idea what he meant, but this seems like it's close:
Looks like I've been in NE Ohio for too long.
Sample of my internal dialog:
I can't believe I'm rooting for a team from Cleveland. I can't believe I'm rooting for a team from Cleveland. I can't believe I'm rooting for a team from Cleveland. King stole the ball! King James stole the ball! He's all alone! Oh, Sweet God in Heaven, what a gorgeous dunk! I can't believe I'm rooting for a team from Cleveland. I can't believe I'm rooting for a team from Cleveland.
L.A. Lakers 89
Talk about your immersive gameplay!
Because I know you care, the game I'm currently playing poorly is Sid Meier's Pirates! My tired little sloop has been sunk three times already.
Still, once I learn how to turn my ship, and how to fire the cannons, I should have more luck.
Sinking jokes aside, this game is beautiful and promises to be as immersive as every one of Sid Meier's other games. His most popular game, Civilization, is the most compulsive computer gaming experience ever, bar none. Let me put this in perspective. Not only would I personally play Civilization for over 10 hours at a pop without realizing time had passed, but Pete (who occasionally posts here) would sit behind me in a painfully uncomfortable chair and WATCH ME PLAY for those same 10 hours, while serving up reminders and helpful hints. That's what that stupid game does to you.
It looks like Pirates! is gonna pull me in the same way. In, and, of course, under.
PS You'll notice that somehow, probably by the Grace of God, I managed to refrain from pirate-speak this entire post. Yar!
Blue and Red went live today.
Back in the saddle again.
Looks like Folkbum is firing up his web log again, after a lengthy hiatus. Just needs to tweak a few graphical issues on the site.
It's about time.
He's a big liberal, so I figured he was waiting for the government to come bail him out.
Folky also happens to be one of the most inciteful, um, folks you'll ever meet. I'll deny ever saying that.
I don't particularly care about this story, and I'm still gonna eat at KFC.
I just like the phrase "slaughter practices."
Thank goodness Hip-hop impresario Russell "Who?" Simmons is on the case. Maybe after this, he'll look into the hip-hop world's "slaughter practices."
Remember that trick David Copperfield did...
Where he transported himself STRAIGHT THROUGH the Great Wall of China?
Well, that trick's gonna be easier now.
Well, let's get THIS out of the way.
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.
February 13, 2005
Popping Cancer: The Dumb Just Keeps Coming
Rant button on.
On Monday, February 21, I have a relatively simple outpatient procedure to implant an under-the-skin catheter so they don't have to keep stabbing me to start IVs. Fine.
No food or drink after midnight. Also fine. The usual.
However, surgery is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. That's 2:30 in the afternoon!
Maybe I go all morning and half the afternoon without food just to suit the doctor's schedule.
Or maybe, just maybe, I eat about a dozen scrambled eggs at high noon and don't tell anyone. Who has the problem then, Mr. Surgery Man???
Not to mention that the next three days in a row are all chemo days.
It would appear that this is the world I live in now.
Ok, the rant button has been set back to "off."
Ever get that feeling like the vacation's almost over?
Very possibly the worst Valentine's Day joke ever.
Q. What did the boy pickle say to the girl pickle on Valentine's Day?
A. You mean a great dill to me!
And the worst love poem to accompany:
Roses are red,
Politicians are sleazy.
Will you be mine?
(I hear that you're easy.)
And since we care, CLICK HERE for this year's feel-good Valentine's Day story! (Key quote: "Wait 10 minutes," he told one customer as an assistant slipped into the shadows to collect a bouquet of crimson flowers. At 10 riyals ($2.70) each they were double the usual price. "They would put us in prison for this," he smiled.)
Happy VD from Popping Culture!
Just in time for the holiday
And a collection of real Valentines that are just plain creepy. Gallery 2 is by far the most disturbing of the two.
Brain Candy, haunting variety.
Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
by Wallace Stevens
Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the black bird.
I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.
A man and a woman
A man and a woman and a blackbird
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.
When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.
At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.
February 12, 2005
I see now why I've been having so much trouble with my computer.
My choice of software.
Everyone knows the fake penis trick never works!
Be careful what you blog.
February 11, 2005
Popping Cancer: Reflection
Mailing in those stupid disability forms today got me thinking back on the entire arc of my time in ministry (although Gail would say I'm not out yet).
The time I grew the most as a pastor in the shortest period of time was definitely chaplaincy. The more I reflect on that time, the more I miss those awful and wonderful overnight shifts.
This is the best bit of writing I did during that time, and I re-present it for you now:
"And now there is merely silence, silence, silence, saying all we did not know." - William Rose Benet
As chaplains, those of us who drew the dreaded and loved 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. shifts in Richmond's downtown MCV hospital were required to conclude our tours of duty by logging the night's activity in a notebook, to be read by the day staff in case follow-ups were needed.
Normally filled with names, times, conditions and activity reports, this is the report I wrote one particular Thursday afternoon:
It started with noise, in the way that Wednesday nights are often noisy. The code beeper came to life, demanding attention, signaling to those of us who are chaplains and therefore forced to listen that somewhere in the hospital someone was dying, or dead.
There was noise as I arrived. Nurses and doctors huddled around a newborn, shouting orders, yelling for this or that medication. A mother, asking questions that had no good answers, questions like "What's wrong with him?" and "Will he be alright?" More noise as monitors sounded alarms. More noise as the father's labored breathing gave background to the shuffle of activity around the little one. Then, finally, more noise, as a deep voice cut through the cacophany, "Time of death, 1:32 A.M."
And then silence.
You call yourself a chaplain, Dan, don't you have anything to say? Where are your words of comfort now? Where is your precious faith now?
There was another chaplain with me. He was useless, too.
We quietly steered the couple, the mother and father, to a family room. I opened my mouth to start to say something, anything, to speak to their pain, but what words are there for a time like this? There is only silence. Only silence can communicate what a mother feels when she loses her 9-day old son.
We sat in silence for half an hour, then an hour. One of the other of us would sob out loud occasionally, but even that was cut short, as if in reverence for the silence, for the empty, hollow, quiet place that was now forever part of their lives. Even a hundred healthy children could never fill the empty place that was now in their hearts. Part of them would always keep silence now, even in the happiest of times.
And what was there for me to say? I was powerless in the face of such amazing grief. No words from a textbook or verse from the Bible can make a dent in a pain so big, so sudden.
Finally, I slipped out of the room, to find the nurses. They had wrapped the baby in a blanket, clean and blue. They had combed his hair. It is part of my job to bring the parents their child, to hold for the last time. Numbly, silently, I took the child that would not even see ten days in to them.
There are times when keeping silence communicates more powerfully than a million words or songs or cries. There are times when the only thing you can give to someone is your silent presence, your sharing of their pain. Sometimes silence says that there are emotions too deep for words, too primal, too much a part of who we try to hide to ever be expressed aloud.
And so I was there, with them, silent in that awful, terrible room for as long as they wanted to stay. Where could I go? Where could I run from silence? I had shared with these two souls the most terrible, most defining moment of the rest of their lives. I had been with them to watch their child die.
Later, they left. I finished my shift in silence, waiting for 8 A.M. to arrive. Tears would fall from time to time, and I never moved to dry them. If I spoke, it was only in response to questions, and even then my answers were nothing more than excuses to be silent again. Silence has that kind of power, a power I had never seen before.
Somehow, I drove myself home and got safely into the bed.
It is a terrible thing when it is too quiet to sleep. I lay awake, staring at the pillow where my wife's head would have been if she were home, should have been if there were any justice in the world. I lay awake staring, praying that she would never leave the place she holds in my heart. It is too big a place to be empty, to be silent. Funny how I never seem to tell her that. Funny how silence can teach us the things that are truly important.
Sometimes silence can be a cave to hide in, an excuse to never take risks.
After a while, physical and emotional exhaustion took over, and I fell asleep.
I almost never remember my dreams, but that morning I dreamed of a white room, and a blue blanket, and I was trying to scream or cry or yell, but all I could dream was silence.
And we all go in to them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody's funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God.
- T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, East Coker, 1940
I find this list of redneck facts VERY offensive.
1. A North Carolina redneck passed away and left his entire estate trust for his beloved widow. However, she can't touch it until she turns 14.
2. Folks in Georgia now go to some movies in groups of 18 or more. They were told 17 and under are not admitted.
3. The minimum drinking age in Tennessee has been raised to 32. It seems they want to keep alcohol out of the high schools.
4. In Mississippi, reruns of "Hee Haw" are called documentaries.
5. How can you tell if a West Virginia redneck is married? There's dried tobacco spit on both sides of his pickup truck.
6. Tennessee has a new $3,000,000 State Lottery. The winner gets $3 a year for a million years.
7. Recently, the Governor's Mansion in Little Rock burned down. In fact, it took out the whole trailer park.
8. The best thing to ever come out of Arkansas is Interstate 40.
9. An Alabama State Trooper stopped a pickup truck. He asked the driver, "Got any ID?" The driver said, "Bout what?"
Brain Candy: Valentine's Edition
How Do I Love Thee?
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
I just don't know what to say.
I can see it happening, and I just don't have any response. I KNOW folks like the Youngs.
Read the whole thing. It's short.
Guys? Looking for that Valentine's Gift that simply screams "True Love"?
Free kittens to a good home!
Take your pick!
I think I almost killed a nurse.
So I was at the oncologist's office this morning, and I'm in the little bathroom holding a bottle full of urine.
I slide open the window, and there's a nurse there. She looks at me and I shove the bottle through the window, set it down, and say, brightly, "Here's some urine! Happy Valentine's Day!"
Something struck her about that. I expected a smile or a little laugh, but she went into the kind of laughter where you're afraid they're going to stop breathing. And she didn't stop laughing, even though she tried a few times to speak.
I didn't know the proper etiquette in that situation, and I WAS still, technically, in the bathroom, so I quietly slid the window closed and moved on. For all I know she's still laughing.
The moral? Some people really go for the urine humor.
Oh, and my tests came out fine, by the way. Next bloodwork is Wednesday. I'm free as a bird until then.
**HEALTH UPDATE: I get blood tests every week to monitor how my body is reacting to chemotherapy. The fact that my blood test came back fine simply means chemotherapy hasn't lowered my blood counts too severely, so I don't need supplements or transfusions. It doesn't mean I no longer have cancer. Sorry if there was any confusion.**
It's almost here!
Iron Blog was a wonderful debate forum that tried to bring both sides of a given argument into a reasoned discussion. Mostly, it worked.
NOW, however, Iron Blog has grown up into Blue and Red, a sort of thinking-woman's magazine that similarly tries to put both sides of the discussion in context.
Larime (formerly The Chairman of Iron Blog) has a great concept working and will be rolling out a final product soon!
Check out the smooth-as-buttered-silk promo page NOW by clicking here.
I said now!
Popping Cancer: Prehistory
So I was doing this bone marrow transplant. I had been in the hospital for about three weeks and I was weak as a newborn. Some days I couldn't sit up in the bed. I needed transfusions and IV nutrition.
This one particular day I heard from a nurse that the lady next door had a nosebleed. Those of you familiar with bone marrow transplants know this is a bad thing. It wouldn't stop bleeding. It had started at about 10 a.m. and continued until the present, about 6 p.m. She had been getting constant transfusions all day to make up for the steady stream.
I pulled myself out of bed with the nurse's help and shuffled my way next door, gripping my IV pole for dear life. I sat next to the poor lady's bed and just held her hand for a while. Finally, I had to get back to my own room and my own illness, but something had happened to me that day, or rather, something had started to become clear.
I was learning, after years of being a Christian, that there were other people in the world than just me, and those people suffered in ways that were just as real to them as my own suffering was to me. I started visiting the other patients on the bone marrow unit when I had the strength.
Eventually I got out of that hospital. As I recovered, it turned out that the world is full of people, and each of them has their own struggles and pains. I knew that I couldn't fix what was happening to them, but I suspected I might be able to make some kind of difference, even if only to comfort them.
When I was strong enough and wise enough, we got out of Dodge. There's a great story about Jesus when he returned to his home town and started trying to teach. "Isn't this Jesus, the son of Joseph the Carpenter?" folks asked. As if to say "We saw you grow up, and now you're trying to be some bigshot miracle teacher?"
If I had stayed, I could see the same thing happening. "Isn't this Dan Champion, that goofy guy who always makes with the jokes? Who does he think he is suddenly talking all pastoral?"
And so I worked for a while as a chaplain in a downtown Richmond Emergency Room, and in the hospital's ICUs. I wanted to be where the crisis was. People with real needs came in and I did what I could to get in the soup with them, to cry alongside them and hold their hands. Some days, I think I even made a difference.
Long story short, that became my calling. It became who I was. Over the years since, I have worked in nursing homes and churches, always trying to learn to care about those in pain better.
Today, I mailed my disability forms. When they are accepted, I will officially no longer be a pastor.
That central calling, that purpose-giving self-identity I've been working on for so long? All but over.
What do you do when you've worked so hard and long at what you truly felt was your calling from God, and you carved your life out around it, and suddenly it's taken from you?
I know, I know. Half of you think I'm being too dramatic. The other half are already typing little messages of encouragement (Hang in there, Baby!). Both groups stop it. Again, it's ok for me to be sad about this today, and I suspect I'll be fine by afternoon - I know my worth does not depend on what I can DO. I'll be fine.
But for right now, this morning, with the sun not even up yet, it really and truly feels like my life is over.
There's a blue envelope in my mailbox that says so.
February 10, 2005
Bad, um... Bad Kid!
Nutritional advice needed.
Tomorrow's blood tests are to see how messed up I am because of the first round of chemotherapy. If my blood counts are low, I could be getting shots, transfusions or whatever else my doctor can think of as punishment. I don't want any of that, but I suspect SOMETHING is up because of my general malaise and droopiness.
Would eating a steak tonight improve tomorrow's red cell counts? How about fish? Ice cream? Gatorade?
UPDATE: I mis-spoke. I don't think anything is up in the "oh, my gosh I'm dying sense," but rather just that some counts might be on the low side.
Maybe it's just me...
...but the words "country rap duo" just don't seem to fit together.
Leave no highway worker behind.
It's a better deal to steal the new Beck CD than download it!
As a writer, I expect protection of my copywritten work, and I want laws preventing others from gaining such for free without my permission. Still, there is protection, and there is justice.
Off the Shelf has a very well-written comparison on the disparity between punishments for shoplifting and illegal downloading.
*The minimum punishment for shoplifting is no punishment, $0 and no jail time, while the minimum punishment for "infringing" (illegal downloads) is $4,400.
*The absolute maximum punishment for stealing is $100,000 fine and a year in jail, while the maximum for infringing is $3,400,000, a year in jail and lawyer fees and costs.
*In the Winona Ryder case, the adorable criminal got a $2,700 fine, paid $6,355 in restitution, $1,000 in court costs and 3 years of probation. By contrast, the average Recording Industry Association of America settlement is $14,875.
I join the author of this inciteful article in asking "Am I alone in thinking there is something really, really wrong here?"
This is the post where I demonstrate knowledge of my readership.
Bid on a chance online to do what your parents did.
Sure, the painting was probably stolen from a Jewish family by Nazis...
But Elizabeth Taylor wants it, and isn't that what really matters?
I'm guessing Michael Jackson was a little too busy to serve as a character witness in this particular court case.
Which movies will win Oscars this year?
If history serves, maybe not the best ones. Interesting, well-written article here.
(Free registration required.)
February 09, 2005
My friends in the Southern Baptist Convention are getting a little slow.
I can't believe it took them this long to blame the tsunamis on the sin of the people in those countries hit by the big waves.
I wish I could describe the sense of perspective I've had since I left the hyper-conservative SBC. The sad thing is that someone will say something like "the tsunami was the wrath of God on a sinful people" and hundreds of thousands of otherwise loving Christians will believe it. I'm glad I'm out.
“If you read the Old Testament, especially, God is very concerned how the nations treat His covenant people,” Blackaby explained. “The nations that persecuted, offended and killed His people, God came down and destroyed them. And He’s the same God today. He’s just as concerned about His people.” [ed. Don't you get it? The Tsunamis have to have been God's idea. And since God loves everyone so much, his concern for them forced him to wipe out nearly 300,000 of their enemies. I think I feel sorry for people who can't see the contradictions inherent in believing in a God like this]
The God I worship is a God who is Love. If you worship a God who kills people because they believe differently than other people, or even because they are naughty, then we believe in different Gods. Period. End of sentence.
Come to think of it, the lady was following letter-perfect SBC theology when she asked me, as I lay in the hospital, to check my life for whatever sin it was that caused God to give me cancer. THERE'S a healthy concept of God.
Your God might give people cancer and send tsunamis. Not mine.
Bin Laden has said some mean things about America.
But this is the cruelest cut of all.
"Come Monday, as you pry open your fancy, red Russell Stover box, take heed," bin Laden said. "For in the place of tasty caramels and buttercreams, you will find the flaming sword of righteous jihad!"
You did so well with the last caption.
Popping Cancer Update
The next update of relevance will be Friday. I have blood tests to see how my body reacted to chemotherapy. This could lead to shots, transfusions or pats on the back, depending.
I am in the recovery stage where I am nearly 100 percent, and I have over a week until my next treatment. I anticipate feeling good for a little while, finally.
This is good news. It's always good news until they poison you again.
Super Bowl Line of the Decade
Rodney Harrison plays defense for the New England Patriots. Freddie Mitchell is a third-string receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Before the Super Bowl, for about two weeks, Mitchell ran his mouth, talking trash very publically. He claimed not to know the names of any of New England's defensive backs and when Harrison's name came up he said he "had something" for Harrison when they met in the big game.
In the actual game, Mitchell had only one (relatively meaningless) catch which came late in the game. Harrison had a sack, a handful of tackles, two interceptions and should have been MVP.
Flash forward to Monday night. Tom Brady is on Letterman, because he's the hunky quarterback of the winning team.
Here is a rough transcript, communicated to me by Mrs. Popping Culture:
Letterman: Now, before the game, all week, Freddie Mitchell was saying some things. What was all that about? (laugh)
Brady: I don't know. Didn't Harrison catch more passes from Donovan McNabb than Freddie Mitchell?
Popping Culture Spleen Vent: A message to those of you who hype the Mozilla Firefox.
Relevant background information: I am, and have been for some time, an eggheaded theology student. I can argue about a dozen takes on the nature of the Trinity, but I don't savvy computer. So my mind works within certain parameters. You are now ready to begin.
For weeks, many of my blogger pals have been selling me on Firefox. It's free, they say. It's clean and faster than Internet Explorer. Then the pop-up crisis occurs and they say "IE causes most of that stuff, switch to Firefox." Even my preaching professor says this.
So I load all the McAfee stuff and the Ad-Aware and the Spybot and I kill a lot of spyware. I download Firefox. It automatically carries my bookmarks from IE, and does the same for my wife. Sweet.
I play with it for about 45 minutes. No real problem there. The only pop-ups are triggered by Internet Explorer. Firefox is indeed easier to use and seems faster.
All is well.
Any guesses what happens next?
Well, my logical mind says the only thing to do now that Firefox is running like a dream is eliminate the last source of spyware: Internet Explorer. So I go to add/remove programs on the control panel and proceed to utterly destroy my computer.
Internet Explorer, and I guess I was supposed to know this by magic, is a PART of the Windows operating system. You can't delete it and have Windows run. In about 15 minutes, my computer wouldn't even boot up past the opening window. Not in safe mode, not in any mode. It was broke!
So a guy from church came and got my computer. He's gonna try to reload Windows without destroying all my files, which include sermons and papers for school (yes, it's my fault for not backing them up on disk). It was that or buy a new version of Windows (no, I don't have the disks for it) with cancer drug money. (Not exactly true, I'd probably use electric bill money instead)
I'm on the laptop now, which fortunately we bought for my use at school. I am even going to download Firefox, but sagely NOT try and delete IE.
My point? Eh, next time you sell the very worthy Firefox, pretend that not everyone out there knows as much as you know. Some of us are actually quite ignorant. I, personally, carry with me an extravagent and inventive ignorance.
February 08, 2005
Claude Monet Painting
by John Singer Sargent
Men of Popping Culture
Don't click here. Seriously.
PS the hell of it is, it was IN CELEBRATION. What if they had lost?
Quote of the Day
I think there will be a reading of this at my funeral. You know, one day.
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
I'm too busy fighting the computer virus from heck.
You provide the caption.
To borrow from Chris Rock: I'm not saying he should have done it...
...but I understand.
I've loaded McAfee firewall, antivirus and antispyware programs, with no results.
I seem to be able to get rid of most things while my modem is not plugged in, but as soon as I connect to the InterWeb again it all comes crashing down.... 100s of popups, Browser crashes and sudden computer reboots.
I'm not sure what else to do, but I'll let you know how it's going!
Usually I don't have to sanitize the jokes my church members tell me.
This one I did. I guess the guy forgot it was me in email.
The coach called one of his 7-year-old baseball players aside and
asked, "Do you understand what cooperation is? What teamwork is?" The little boy nodded.
"Do you understand that what matters is whether we win or lose
together as a team?" The little boy nodded.
"So," the coach continued, "I'm sure you know, when an out is called, you shouldn't argue, curse, attack the umpire, or call him a XXXXXX-head. Do you understand all that?" The little boy nodded.
The coach continued, "And when I take you out of the game so another boy gets a chance to play, it's not good sportsmanship to call your coach 'dumb XXXhole', is it?" The little boy nodded.
"Good," said the coach. "Now go over there and explain that to your Mother."
Let's be careful out there.
As a driver, what exactly is this sign warning you about?
My buddy Trav saw this sign and snapped a few shots for me. I wish MY house of worship was so church-rific that it needed its own warning sign for approaching drivers.
I can't sleep.
But then, I could never sleep the night before battle!
Tomorrow I leave the house on my own for the first time since chemotherapy and seek out such weapons as will help me defeat this virus and spy-ware monster!
My normal battle cry ("Please don't hurt me!") won't get it done this time, so for motivation I'm turning to a few quotes from the man himself:
In my dreams I hear again the crash of guns, the rattle of musketry, the strange, mournful mutter of the battlefield.
In war there is no substitute for victory.
Just. Bring. It.
I'll take on this virus on MY computer, on the PUBLIC LIBRARY'S computer, in MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, or in the alley out back. This thing won't know what hit it.
Um, I'm scared. Pop me up, Scotty.
February 07, 2005
Quote of the Day
Exit, pursued by a bear.
-William Shakespeare, stage direction in "The Winter's Tale"
I think I know what the problem is.
I'm pretty sure my computer is demonically possessed. It turns off (or reboots) for no apparent reason. It sends me to sexy advertisements when I was JUST THINKING about a sexy advertisement not three minutes ago.
And, I would swear it turned on the microwave oven a moment ago. Hard to tell with all these pop-ups.
I'm thinking crippling virus instead of spyware at this point. In either case, I'm giving it a miss and trying again tomorrow. Dan tired.
I do find it hilarious that over half the pop-up ads are for pop-up ad blockers. If it doesn't kill me, it will make me stronger. Also, it will help with a "natural male enhancement" issue.
I also have to say that I haven't thought about cancer for MINUTES now.
Finally, a horrid day not related to cancer!
I'm proud to say I'm having a lousy day and cancer has nothing to do with it!
It's nice to have my horrible cancer-related days broken up by a horrible non-cancer related day.
Let's see, my computer got infested by something and now I get about 3 pop-ups per minute. Spybot and Ad-Aware can't do anything about it. When I turn on the computer, I can't start windows normally unless I put in a password for a place called "hot wet teens," which I'm not sure I want to visit.
Can't pay the gas or electric bills. Stupid meeting tonight at church (ok, this one is cancer-related). And I've had to delete about a dozen comments by hateful "trolls" (mean folks who get their kicks by posting vile comments on web logs). I spoke crossly to the cat.
Yes, these are all the complaints of a sit-home-all-day type with nothing better to do, but this is what my life is these days.
Enough whining for now, I promise, although I do find it interesting that about 65 percent of the pop-up spam is for programs to help eliminate pop-up spam. Effective marketing, that... like the glass replacement company which drums up business by throwing rocks at your windows. Well, Windows XP in this case.
Thank you for letting me vent. I'm going stir crazy stuck in this house all day every day. In a few days I should be well enough to get out and even just walk around the mall.
Until then, it's just me and the hot, wet teens.
**Update: I seem to have an MTV toolbar on my Internet Explorer now**
**Update update: Now the computer is shutting off randomly. Something is apparently messing with something called a BIOS. If the whole thing goes away, It'll be a while before I get back online. I got some good suggestions about McAfee and a few other programs, but the phrase "go out and buy" no longer applies to us. Hang on tight!**
**Update questions: Does anyone ever BUY anything from these pop-up ads and invasive programs? Do they actually respond? I guess a guy sitting home with nothing to do but post his experiences with cancer is an easy target. Still, I can't imagine that I'll see one of those pop-ups and say "Hey! That's just what I need!"**
Popping Culture Super Bowl Recap
No, not for the Patriots. For Corey Dillon.
For years, we lived in Louisville, KY and now in Youngstown, OH. In both places we were exposed to unhealthy doses of Bengals football (Q: Why won't Columbus get a professional football team? A: Because then Cincinnati would want one). For YEARS, Dillon was one of the best (if not THE best) running backs in the league, trapped on a terrible, mismanaged team. I saw him beat the then-single game rushing record in spite of having a team with no offensive line to support him.
If he had played anywhere else - ANYWHERE - he would be a legend by now. Instead his best years were hidden to everyone.
One year away from the Bengals and he has not only his first playoff appearance, but a shiny new Super Bowl ring. I just like to root for the little guy, which is probably also why I became obsessed with Marino's tries for a big game win as well.
Good for Corey Dillon.
February 06, 2005
There's stupid, and then there's offensive.
I was one of those who thought the NeoCon Religious Right's attack on Spongebob Squarepants for being gay, or associating with gays, or whatever, was a bit on the stupid and pointless side.
However, that was just the RR being the RR. Every few years they break out something silly, we all laugh at them and we get on with our lives.
This response, however, goes way over the line:
So how about it? If they make a stupid, meaningless assault on you, does that give you carte blanche to mock their religion? Is it an over-reaction on my part to find the "attack" on Spongebob trivial and silly, but find this cover offensive to an extreme degree?
And then there's this...
One of my seminary professors, The Most High and Reverend Gail "She Who Comes in the Name of the Lord" Ricciuti, sent this story along.
Professor Gail, who happens to teach PREACHING and noticed my comment (which was made in a moment of deep sorrow and personal weakness) of a week or so ago that "any trained monkey in a suit can preach" (which clearly I could not have meant as anything except lashing out against my own inability to minister to people one-on-one because of cancer), might not hurt me quite as badly when I recover if I post this story for you. Then again, she probably will.
Here it is:
A BABY hippopotamus, swept into the Indian Ocean by the tsunami, is finally coming out of his shell thanks to the love of a 120-year-old tortoise.
Owen, a 300 kg, one-year-old hippo, was swept down the Sabaki River, into the ocean and then back to shore when the giant waves struck the Kenyan coast.
The dehydrated hippo was found by wildlife rangers and taken to the Haller Park animal facility in the port city of Mombasa. Pining for his lost mother, Owen quickly befriended a giant male Aldabran tortoise named Mzee - Swahili for "old man".
"When we released Owen into the enclosure, he lumbered to the tortoise which has a dark grey color similar to grown up hippos," Sabine Baer, rehabilitation and ecosystems manager at the park, told Reuters on Thursday. Haller Park ecologist Paula Kahumbu said the pair were now inseparable.
"After it was swept and lost its mother, the hippo was traumatized. It had to look for something to be a surrogate mother. Fortunately, it landed on the tortoise and established a strong bond. They swim, eat and sleep together," the ecologist added.
"The hippo follows the tortoise exactly the way it follows its mother. If somebody approaches the tortoise, the hippo becomes aggressive, as if protecting its biological mother," Kahumbu added. "The hippo was left at a very tender age. Hippos are social
animals that like to stay with their mothers for four years." She said the hippo's chances of survival in another herd were very slim, predicting that a dominant male would have killed him. Officials are hopeful Owen will befriend a female hippo called Cleo, also a resident at the park.
Husband of the Year Awards 2004
My buddy Travis (also a minister, only without cancer) sent me the results last night:
Third Place - Sean O'Flanders of Dublin
Second Place - Abdul Farouk of Kurdistan
And our First Place Winner - Alexive Berchev of Siberia
Congratulations to all our winners!
February 05, 2005
You want chili with that dog?
I'm not feeling very socially secure.
Ara over at E Pluribus Unum has been rather upset about Social Security lately. Presumably this is because the opportunity to mock the Iraqi elections hasn't come up yet. (Jab, jab)
Still, no matter how sort-of conservative I am when it comes to economic issues, I can't draw a side in this fight. One side is saying "It's all going to hell. Here are statistics from economic smarties to prove it" and the other side is saying "There is nothing to worry about. Here are statistics from economic smarties to prove it."
So, how does a simple guy like myself, just trying to get along and stay alive, approach a topic like this? Clearly the Democrats listen to the Democrats' economic spin docs and take every opportunity to attack Bush, and also clearly, the Republicans play the same game.
Should I care about this? How do I approach SS as a topic? I don't care enough or have strength enough to do the research and learn the theories needed to identify for myself what is a threat and what isn't. In this case, it seems the only way to know for sure would be to find a time machine and go forward 45 years or so and take a peek. It's not like weapons of mass destruction, which are either there or not.
Still, with Bush riding high after his big win, and the Democrats looking furiously for a way to assault him, it seems like this is the issue we're going to settle on.
The bottom line, as I read it on the conservative sites, is "let me describe our boogeyman and remember, we don't like liberals" while the liberal sites all say, in effect, "all is well and remember, we don't like conservatives." People, in other words, are basing their opinions on this presumably critical matter more on how they voted in November than on real scientific and economic analysis.
Maybe it's best if I just let them bicker about this one amongst themselves. Feels like it's just another excuse to disagree. I welcome your reflections, but be nice to each other.
I found this interesting, anyway.
It's an article on life after Fidel Castro. May not be your cup of tea, but I found it fascinating, non-political animal that I am.
The chorus began as soon as the Soviet Union fell: “Fidel Castro Is History!” The standard argument that the Cuban dictator could not long survive without the massive aid he had received for decades from Moscow was contained in a book entitled Castro’s Final Hour. Well over 100,000 hours have passed since that book was published in 1992, and, with Fidel still raging on, analysts now usually couch their discussions of his eventual demise more modestly, in terms of Cuba’s post-Fidel “transition” (whenever it may come).
Like Mao, Fidel cannot abandon his old ideas at the end of his life without admitting that his career was a terrible mistake. So just as Mao held on to his egalitarian socialism until the very end, Fidel remains steadfast and allows private initiative only periodically, when the economy is in a particularly disastrous condition.
Fidel Castro will leave Cuba in a terrible political and economic mess, just as Mao Zedong left China when he died in 1976, and Castro’s successors will be sorely taxed just to retain power. If post-Fidel governments are to remain authoritarian for some years, their political or military leaders, or both, will need to understand that although the Cuban people put up with abject poverty under Fidel, they will not long tolerate such conditions under any other leader.
I am reminded of a great line from Dave Barry, who claimed the CIA motto is "Proudly overthrowing Castro for three decades!"
New James Bond movie set to roll
All they need now is someone to, um, play James Bond. They'll never find another Brosnan, but to be fair, they could toss a dead rat out a window and find someone who could do at least as good a job as Timothy Dalton.
Video Game Geek News
Halo 2, besides being the best first-person shooter that I have personally ever played, looks like it's heading for the big screen.
Microsoft has even paid for a writer.
Any of you oldies fans remember the song "This Diamond Ring"?
Well, so does our friend Ben Affleck.
February 04, 2005
The little things I miss.
I never was a "spring out of bed" type of guy. I am content to roll miserably out of the bed and grudgingly start my day, waiting the hour or two until I completely gain my senses.
Still, there were days when the sun was shining in the windows and I felt just plain GOOD, like I had energy and couldn't wait to get on with the day.
It feels like it might be a long time before I have that kind of energy again.
Today I woke up and my goal was: to take a shower. You never realize how exhausting a shower can be until you have cancer, I guess. Instead, I woke up, stood up out of the bed (an act which felt like it tired me out), walked downstairs and sat. Until the early afternoon, when I took a nap. Now, that full itinerary has wiped me out: I'm about ready to call it a day.
Think I'm overstating it? For supper I had a bowl of Cheerios and I COULDN'T LIFT THE GALLON OF MILK to pour in the bowl. Mrs. Popping Culture had to help me out.
Yes, the nausea is mostly gone until the next treatment. Yes, I'm not having as many painful crampy legs or arms or back. Still, I can't believe how weak I am.
I guess this is why people, generally speaking, avoid being poisoned.
And then there's this:
2Co 12:8 And about this thing I made request to the Lord three times that it might be taken away from me.
2Co 12:9 And he said to me, My grace is enough for you, for my power is made complete in what is feeble. Most gladly, then, will I take pride in my feeble body, so that the power of Christ may be on me.
2Co 12:10 So I take pleasure in being feeble, in unkind words, in needs, in cruel attacks, in troubles, on account of Christ: for when I am feeble, then am I strong. - Bible in Basic English Translation
I understand it now. Before, even when I had limits, I didn't feel weak. I still tried my way first.
Tonight, even through the chemo-haze, I can see how blessed a guy like me can be. I am strong because my wife is strong and takes care of me. I am strong because there are representatives from the church association making sure I will get my bills paid. I am strong because my doctors are watching out for my health. I am strong because everyone in my life has said "let me know what we can do" and they said it like they meant it, not like it was a simple good-bye.
I'm just plain wiped out and there's another treatment coming. Still, I see that I really can be ok even when my own life is out of my control. It's hard, you know, giving up control in such a real way.
For tonight, I sleep.
Who knows? Tomorrow I might even take a shower.
Joel is doing poetry exposition, now, too.
And doing it better than I ever did.
PS Joel, this actually gives me an interesting idea, in the Iron Blog spirit, but literary in nature. Create a tournament-style bracket of interested bloggers, give them a poem to exposit or a painting to discuss, and let the judges choose who proceeds to the next round.
I'm gonna need a bigger scraper.
More bad weather, this time in Quincy, Mass.
Sometimes I don't even have to come up with a joke.
This headline says it all:
"I am pretty sure she is not going to leave Greenwood Memorial Park (where she is buried) to attend the hearing," Chianumba said.
Let's be careful out there.
On stopping treatment.
Yes, I'm stopping a type of treatment for a while. No, it's not chemotherapy.
Remember that nasty tasting Cantron stuff? Well, now that I'm actually in the soup with chemotherapy, I think it's time to put it on the shelf for a while.
I read from the Cantron materials and on their website that (1) chemotherapy prevents Cantron from working properly (and usually keeps it ineffective for up to four months after the last chemo treatment), and (2) Cantron may help reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.
Well, choking this stuff down every four hours IS a side effect. It adds to nausea. They seem to have some better drugs for prevention of nausea these days, so I'm going to put the Cantron on the shelf and hope chemo does the trick. If I need to take down the Cantron again, we're in big trouble.
The lady that sold me the stuff said it works best when used apart from other treatments. So I have to chose between chemo, which has worked in the past but nearly killed me, and the unknown un-approved supplement. Chemotherapy is barbaric, but it could actually work. I'm not afraid of alternative medicine, but I think I'll save it until it's the ONLY alternative, yes?
Still, it will be a nice break from the nasty stuff. When you're sick like this, every little thing you can free yourself from feels touched with Grace.
February 03, 2005
And Now: A Popping Culture Super Bowl Salient Point.
The media is looking for something to say about the Super Bowl. They have to make it exciting somehow to get their SportsCenter ratings.
So this week, all I've heard is: Will Terrell Owens play? Will he be 100 percent?
This is what you call "media glam." Why? Because, if they can make us think TO's participation matters, we'll tune in every night leading to the Super Bowl.
Salient Point: Even if Owens plays at 100 percent, IT DOESN'T MATTER. Already in the postseason, the Pats have played two teams in the Steelers and the Colts that each have three receivers near Owens' class. It didn't matter. The Pats whupped the league's best offense in the Colts and the league's best defense in the Steelers. You don't hear a lot of TO talk coming from the Patriots because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter to them.
Don't believe the hype.
Final score: PATRIOTS large, EAGLES small
Those of you who are just stopping by to check on my health (funny to call it that) don't have to sift through all my goofiness.
On the right sidebar is a topic title marked "Cancer." If you click there it will take you right to the most recent cancer-related posts.
Seems a bit grim, but if you're in a hurry...
I thought it would never happen, but here it is.
NOW they break out the cool school bus drivers.
"The driver said 'kids we've got porn, do you want to watch it'," one of the pupils told reporters. "Everyone started shouting yes, yes and he just put in a tape and we watched it on the small TV screens on the bus."
Please note: nothing about this is funny. Ok?
"The Apprentice: Martha Stewart"
This is a real television show set to run alongside Trump's deal.
Maybe it's the chemotherapy talking, but there are WAY too many Martha Stewart jokes in my head right now for me to risk saying anything else.
I got your reality right here.
Something to think about while I'm resting
Popping Cancer Update: I just got up! I think I'll go to bed.
Tired and weak today.
Less nausea, but if this is how it feels two days after two-of-three treatments, the full course must be a humdinger.
No word on treatment yet, so I am presuming for now we're skipping treatment 3-of-3 this time around and that I'll be getting that catheter placed in the next week or so.
Maybe this will give me a chance to get some rest for the next treatment.
I alternated attitudes last night, between wanting to give up and steely reserve that God isn't done with me yet. I have to tell myself I'll be sick for a while so I can be healthy later.
That will work if I can heal up reasonably well between treatments, too.
Still, you feel a different kind of sick on chemo. It's a draining, used-up kind of down. Like you can't function and you won't be able to again. It's just there. Not like the flu or like anything else I could compare it to. It's just there and it has its way with you.
The trick, again, is to let yourself know that it won't be forever. Just a few days and I'll be at least able to function again.
Adding to this is guilt. Mrs. Popping Culture is sick and still has to take care of me. Before, when I was a teenager, it was just me and the bad feeling, but now I think of her before I do myself.
Still, if I really do have 2.5 weeks before the next treatment, I should eventually take to feeling well and being able to gear up better for treatments.
More later: rest now.
February 02, 2005
Blasts from the past!
Since I'll be dragging myself back to bed in a few minutes, I thought I'd leave you with these two distractions, which have appeared on this very site once or twice before:
***Update: spelling gooder***
Eye Candy, Displaced
Fortunately, while your host is ailing, you can get some culture from Joel's new site.
That, or he's trying to cut into my territory, in which case I will utterly destroy him in an all out blog turf war. I will use Shatner videos AND chemotherapy agents.
He's probably just helping cover for me while I'm down. Right Joel?
Did I mention William Shatner Music Videos?
Day Three Results: I gotta stop making predictions.
Day three was bad.
So bad we canceled the treatment.
They started at least four IV lines that blew out, and I was needled about 7 times. I'm definitely gonna need a port, like last time.
So I was there several hours, having to run to the bathroom every 20-30 minutes as my body continued it's policy of urgent poison removal. Meanwhile, this doctor wants more poison in, and my veins aren't cooperating and it hurts like all get-out.
Finally, as I'm about to just walk out, a nervous wreck, the doctor suggests one more try. Fine. Needle stick. This one blows immediately.
I'm about in tears from all the jabbing and pain of blown veins and just all the activity, when my doc suggests I drive to the hospital and have them carve a line into my upper arm, then I return to get the poison. No thank you. Enough is enough.
So one of two things will happen now:
1 - Surgery tomorrow to put in the catheter and then we do the treatment Friday.
2 - We skip day three and wait until the next scheduled three-day treatment (Feb 21), this time with a handy catheter in place.
Anyone care to guess which I'm hoping for? We'll know when we get the phone call.
The funny thing is, it doesn't seem to take a full three-days of poison to make you feel bad. Oddly, two days seem to be working just fine for me. The thing that would worry you most is the weakness. I almost pulled a muscle lifting an empty milk jug - an empty milk jug!
Thank you for your many thoughts and prayers. We remain on standby.
Imagine the best.
PS Patriots 38, Eagles 17
One more day then three weeks off. One more day then three weeks off. One more day then three weeks off.
Today could suck.
I started to get nausea last night. I don't remember feeling this weak, either. It's like an effort to push the keys.
Also, my body is desperate to get this junk out of me. I've been rushing to the bathroom every half hour to hour all night.
Now, we go in and put even more of that stuff in my veins.
Again, I'll post or have Mrs. Popping Culture post when it's all over. Today I could really use the prayer, thoughts, mojo, auras - whatever you got.
February 01, 2005
Reason to live #604
At times like this, we could all use some wisdom from the Rock.
And he's more than willing to dole it out.
"At that point it's open season. I have handed out a lot of ass-whippings in those situations."
Well, so much for reason to live #4,612
At least it wasn't very high on the list.
I really thought it could work. Why? Why?
Day Two results are in.
I'm home now. So far today, no violent reactions, unless you count an overly-long bout of the hiccups.
The weakness is noticably worse now. Everything takes effort and is exhausting. Also, the soreness is back. Now it's more like getting hit by a truck than playing in a rough soccer game.
It could have been much worse. Still, I'm interested in what day three has to offer.
I'm sleeping in short cycles, so I imagine there will be more to post sooner rather than later.
Day Two Begins
Light blogging today, as I'll be in a chair with poison being floated into my veins.
I've posted a few new items of interest to keep you savages placated until I return.
Just like yesterday, I'll toss up a post when I get home if I can and if not I'll have Mrs. Popping Culture do it!
Quote of the Day
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW -- What a Ride!"
- Anonymous, discovered by a dear preaching professor
This just in from Geneva: still cold.
Fine. You got it out of your system. Now WRITE FASTER.
I am gonna be SO IRRITATED if I don't live long enough to read the seventh and final Harry Potter book.
Rowling could actually do a one page version of book seven just for me and I'd be happy. All that needs to happen is:
(1) Harry lives, graduates and becomes Defense Against the Dark Arts Instructor, as opposed to the very widely-rumored "Harry has to die when Voldemort dies because they are linked" finale.
(2) Harry marries Ginny Weasley. We LOVE Ginny Weasley.
See, J.K.? One page, tops. Lemme finish book 6 in the summer, then overnight me that page. I promise I won't show anyone.