Cooking Time at 25% Complete

I reckon I owe my massive following an update, so here goes.

The radiation part is going well, so far. The amount of time I spend being nuked is drastically less this time, than it was last time. Which should have been obvious to me from the git-go, since the tumor mass is much smaller and more localized. It’s a welcome realization, though. The radiation technicians today told me that the doctor had reduced my treatments from 30 to 28, as well, but no explanation as to why. I see him again on Wednesday, and I reckon I’ll find out then.

So far, so good on the side-effects, too. Practically nothing, at this point, maybe a tiny bit of nausea, easily quelled. This is about what I expected going off the radiation from two years ago. I pray it remains so.

It took about three days to get settled in. Buying food, dry goods, and pharmaceuticals took me frigging forever, because there are so many things I forgot during any trip to a store. Even writing stuff down, I’d forget. However, it fills the time in between the morning session and the afternoon session. I can’t really complain — the alternative would have been to rent a panel van and truck all that crap down here with me.

One day was spent driving to Best Buys and Fry’s to look at tablets. What a depressing enterprise that is. It makes me wish I could turn off the geek part of my brain and just buy a dumb iPad. But no, that will not do. I’ve been saving my nickels for a few months to make a good, solid purchase. These things can come in real handy when the machines break down, or they have a backup whatever the reason. I looked at everything on display, and nobody has anything in stock, unless you want an iPad or one of the Samsung models. The Galaxy Note 10.1 was appealing, but not at $549, not for a tertiary device. Ultimately, though, late on Tuesday night, I ended up with a Sony Xperia Z. And I got it for about $100 less than that price at Amazon. Diligent due diligence found an open-box return at MicroCenter that had everything in the original box. Except when I got there, it was naught but the slab itself — no charger, no little books you throw away, and no box. I don’t mind open-box stuff, I am a super-nerd. But I prefer an actual box, not a slab in Saran Wrap, which is what was presented to me. The manager stepped in and subbed a brand new device, for no extra charge, without me saying a word. So, most excellent customer service. Should you have nerd commerce to transact, I highly recommend MicroCenter over by that Houston Galleria.

I’m re-learning the meaning of stop-and-go city-boy traffic. Drudgery, mostly. What can you do? Nothing at all.

Houston is a horrible terrestrial radio wasteland. Nothing close to alt-country, nothing close to alt-rock, mundane & banal me-too talk radio. Lots and lots of Tejano, though. Even a Tejano Christian station. I really need to spring for the satellite space radio, but…with 150,000 miles on the Big Red Ford, and even more miles on me, it seems kind of wasteful. So does that Sony slab, for that matter.

That’s about it, folks. Thanks for the calls, the texts, the emails, the donations, and the prayers. I’m confident that I’m walking the path God has for me, and regardless of the outcome, that’s where I need to be. And I couldn’t be here without all of yall.


Derek Holland tweets injury was from playing with his dog

And…there goes the Opening Day rotation. Has Matt Garza signed yet? I still believe that cat can do some good here.

And…that’s just typical freakin’ Holland. Major League, All-Star-capable, top-of-rotation arm – Sponge-Bob brain. “Why not play with the dog on the stairs? I’ve done it my whole life, never had to have surgery before.”

And…I don’t think this opens the door for Tanaka. That door is either shut tight, or it’s always been open.

The name came from a baseball anecdote. During the 1962 season, New York Mets center fielder Richie Ashburn and Venezuelan shortstop Elio Chacón found themselves colliding in the outfield. When Ashburn went for a catch, he would scream, “I got it! I got it!” only to run into Chacón, who spoke only Spanish. Ashburn learned to yell, “¡Yo la tengo! ¡Yo la tengo!” instead. In a later game, Ashburn happily saw Chacón backing off. He relaxed, positioned himself to catch the ball, and was instead run over by left fielder Frank Thomas, who understood no Spanish and had missed a team meeting that proposed using the words “¡Yo la tengo!” as a way to avoid outfield collisions.[2] After getting up, Thomas asked Ashburn, “What the hell is a Yellow Tango?”.[3]

A Multitude of Thanks Are In Order

First and foremost, to the very kind folks from all over who have contributed to my recent fund drive. This includes both friends IRL (what the kids say, you know) like fantasy football cats, business associates and long-time pards, and the many sent my way over the internet tubes by very kind supporters who linked the explanatory fund-raising post.

Special thanks go out to the following:

Andy at : practically a brother, a man with far too many of the same tastes and inclinations as mine to not be related, if only in our brains. He and his lovely bride have been supportive and in constant contact from the get-go. I only vaguely remember finding Andy’s site when I was daydreaming and entertaining ideas about buying an old RV and rambling for the rest of my days. Who knew I’d end up at the site of a guy who’s Texan, divorced, quit the corporate world in disgust, has a love of quality bowling equipment, and, the kicker, prefers Texas music to Nashville trash.

Big Bill Quick at Daily Pundit : the man who named the Blogosphere. I’ve followed Bill pretty much since the day he started. I’ve agreed and disagreed and cussed and discussed with Bill just about every manner of thing since the beginning. He might be the only man on the planet to love bleeding-edge gadgets more than I do, and he spends his own money on them, not getting them for free from the factory like 99.9% of what is laughably referred to as the tech press. He also started programming before I did, and there ain’t many of those, not what blogs.

Instapundit : what can you say about Glenn Reynolds? The blogfather of us all. I found Glenn on 9/12/2001 and never stopped reading. It’s fair to say he completely changed the way I consume news, and I doubt I’m the only one.

Polar Vortex Comment From Me

Somewhere today, possibly in America even, there is a beach bar with bikini-wearing barmaids, eager to sell you beer.


This kind of thing is the primary A-1 reason I didn’t, and still don’t, approve of the Rangers moving to Arizona for spring training. I have no doubt Arizona can supply the distaff side of the equation, and the beer, but there simply is no beach. The beach is what makes it all feel totally decadent. It’s a good thing I was raised in a land-locked town or I would have, no question, become a surf bum.

A new story about my favorite aeroplane

Click on the picture for an awesome story from an SR-71 Blackbird test pilot.

SR 71

Kicker: the story is from January, 1966. That plane looks like it could be on a designer’s drawing pad in 2013. Or maybe not…I ain’t no aeronautical engineer. It still screams “Victory over the Godless Communists”, no matter what.

Little known fact: I got to see and touch a retired SR-71 up close, at Offutt AFB’s SAC Museum back in 1997 (it was considerably less of everything, then, than it appears to be today — the Blackbird was just parked on some concrete, outside a smallish brick building.) Both 15 year-old and 37 year-old me were slack-jawed in admiration.

UPDATE: how the museum looked back in ’97.

MDAnderson = Radiation Redux + A Bleg

I suppose just to catch everybody up that I should start at kind of the beginning. Back in September, after six months of chemotherapy that ended on the first day of July, I began experiencing difficulty swallowing. Nothing major, just the feeling you get from a bad sore throat or a light case of strep throat. A couple of weeks in, I take this issue to the doctors, and we treat it like an infection, and hit it with antibiotics. Did that for about a month, with various medicines. Didn’t do a whole lot, and it kept getting worse. Tried another round of tougher antibiotics, two weeks worth — didn’t work. Finally, mid-November, my uncle decided to do a barium swallow, where you swallow nasty stuff, and they x-ray you in real time. That showed a mass compressing my esophagus. My fears all along were that the carinal lymph node was growing, and this proved that to be true beyond doubt. CT scans had shown small growth, but somehow missed the esophageal compression.

This prompted me to begin searching again for a surgeon who would be willing to go cut the SOB out once and for all. My uncle arranged for a trip down to MD Anderson to meet with a surgeon from their thoracic center. He scheduled an EDG for the next week to determine if the esophagus had been invaded. That EDG was performed, and while I was under, he also placed a stent in my throat to hold it open, for swallowing. Which worked great for precisely two days. Something happened overnight to cause it to shift or move, and I couldn’t swallow anything but liquids. That was fun.

So he scheduled a second EDG to reposition, replace or completely remove the stent. He ended up removing it completely, feeling like the esophagus had dilated enough that it was no longer needed. He also noted, either the first time or this time, that my esophagus was ulcerated, as if with acid reflux. Since I have never suffered symptoms commonly associated with acid reflux, short of occasional heartburn, this surprised me. What surprised me the most, though, was that during the second EDG, while I was out of it from the anesthesia, I had an atrial fibrillation episode. Whee! Another first! That made them keep me in the hospital over night for observation, which was an absolute nightmare, and included cardiac ultrasound, an echo-cardiogram, and a resting EKG. Nothing was found, cardiac-wise, and the doctors cut me loose the next morning.

The interesting thing about MD Anderson is that once you get in their system, you will see a LOT of different specialists. One was a medical oncologist. He gave me the not-unexpected news that we were running out of chemotherapies with which to attack the lymph node / cancer. He has referred me to the Targeted Therapies group at MDA, where I have learned of mTOR therapies, and PD-L1 inhibitors. These things are kind of a crap shoot, but they look exciting, and it is something I would absolutely consider doing. Whether it works for me or not, I don’t mind being involved if it can help someone else on down the line, you know? The biggest issue there is that the tumor itself has to be examined, or more specifically, the DNA has to be broken down and examined for markers that would show whether I personally would be responsive to the therapies, or even to others that I don’t know about today. That process takes 3-6 weeks.

I also met with a radiation oncology doctor. This was, as far as I was concerned, kind of a waste of time, as I was under the impression that I had already received enough radiation, and couldn’t be given more. Well, surprise, surprise! This doctor, a youngish fellow with the modern bedhead ‘do, said, nope, I believe I can shrink that thing and give you 8-12 months of relief, and possibly even knock it down semi-permanent-like, much like the original lung tumor.

The bottom line is that I’m now scheduled for radiation treatment beginning January 13. I will be getting 30 treatments. Unlike my original radiation treatment, which was once a day / five days a week / six weeks, this one will be twice a day for three weeks. This doctor believes that the accelerated schedule causes fewer and less egregious side effects for the patients. My recollection of the radiation was that it was an absolute ball-buster. However, the major difference here, besides the accelerated schedule, is that I will not be getting chemotherapy once a week at the same time, so perhaps balls will be less busted??? One hopes, deeply and sincerely, that this is so.

I will be doing this in Old Swampy, four hours from my home. As I have said all along, I am truly blessed with not just family, but friends made over the years, and I will be staying at the home of a very long-time friend and her husband. They have a garage apartment completely separate from their main domicile where I can (and certainly will, if I don’t disremember) crash during this small ordeal. I’m grateful that it’s separate, since (again, if I don’t disremember), I will be an insomniac, nauseated quite regularly, coughing and hacking like, well, a man with lung cancer — in general, just an unpleasant human being to be around. And I don’t want to be around other, more human, human beings as I manage my way through that. It’s also 20-30 minutes from MDA, just a damn bonus if ever there was one, and I will hopefully be able to drive myself to most, if not all, of these irradiation treatments.

And now, the thing I hate doing but feel I must. I expect my expenses to go up over the next month. I’m asking very humbly, if you have the means and are so moved, to please hit my collection plate. I’m as aware as anyone else that times are tough out there. If you can’t donate, then I equally humbly ask for your prayers. Personally, I’m convinced that a veritable multitude of prayers, from all over the country, from all denominations, have done me a vast world of good. After all, I’m here, just finished a third Christmas since my initial diagnosis, when I was deeply unsure of even getting one more. I remain relatively healthy, for a guy with cancer, all things considered. I’m not anywhere near giving up the fight, not while I’ve got anything to fight with. I thank you in advance for donations, prayers, whatever you’re able to do…it means a lot to me.

Back to Olde Swampy and MDA + Best New Voice I’ve Heard In Some Time

Headed your way, H-town. I will be hoping for at least an advancement towards an understanding of a potential pathway towards…something? The secure undisclosed location will be guarded by Glynis, the mentally deficient Catahoula, until I return.

I leave you with this from old poker buddy, Boy Gambler, who hipped me and some others to this Shakey Graves cat from Austin a week ago. He has an unique sound, a really distinct voice, seems to be the real deal as a songwriter, and is blessed with movie-star looks. Here’s hoping he isn’t crushed like a bug by The Machinery. Even the Texas Music Machinery seems to be mal-functioning of late, and to answer your mental question, yes, I am remain a curmudgeon.

He seems to be touring & covering the country, so he’s getting some support out there, so maybe he shan’t be.

Always a good read, year after year

Dave Barry’s Review of 2013, the Year of the Zombies – The Washington Post.

Did anything good happen in 2013? Yes! There was one shining ray of hope in the person of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford , who admitted that, while in office, he smoked crack cocaine, but noted, by way of explanation, that this happened “probably in one of my drunken stupors.” This was probably the most honest statement emitted by any elected official this year, and we can only hope that more of our leaders follow Mayor Ford’s lead in 2014. (We mean being honest, not smoking crack in a drunken stupor.) (Although really, how much worse would that be?)

More good funny stuff can be found at the link.

What Santy Claus Brung Me


From my beloved Mini-Me and her family, with an assist from me, Mr Crankypants…

How it worked to be a surprise was, she had called and asked me to drag a flatbed trailer 60 miles over two counties in order to pick up some new tchotchke for the grandsons. Which I crankily agreed to do, seeing as I love my kid, my kid-in-law, and my grandkids. But the important thing is to know that I was completely put out by this unreasonable request, as the little flatbed has no running lights, and hence it has to be operated in daylight hours, and in order to arrive on Christmas morning at the appointed hour, I would have to severely push the legal definition of daylight hours. Not to mention, I am old, tired, sick and beat down from the last few weeks of shuttling back and forth to MD Anderson in Old Swampy. I cussed the whole lot of them the entire illegal way there, well, illegal until the sun cleared the horizon. I figured if I did get stopped, I would tell the five-oh that I was operating under the hunter’s definition of daylight, wherein many a deer has been slain.

Imagine my surprise, shock and embarrassment a few hours later when they pulled this jewel out on me. I am truly, truly blessed beyond belief, with my family.

This is a big deal, as I can now scoot around the ranch without tearing the hell out of the last truck I’ll probably ever buy, which now has 150,000 miles on it but is still going strong, thank you, Lord.

Also, both Mini-Me and her hubby said they could just see the exasperated steam in my voice when they made the request and I acquiesced. So, never talk at the poker table??? I’m way out of practice of hiding tells.

Late, but on that 64-yard field goal

Steve Sailer: iSteve: Greatest record in sports finally broken after 43 years.

Today Matt Prater kicked a 64-yard-field goal in the thin air of Denver to finally break the NFL record of 63 yards first set in 1970 by Tom Dempsey in the humidity of New Orleans.

Why was Dempsey’s feat my favorite record? Because it was the exact opposite of the modern era’s Ivan Drago-style scientific athletic accomplishments.

The only reason the Saints’ coach sent in the field goal unit with 2 seconds left and down by one was because he thought the Saints were on the Lions’ 44-yard-line, not their own 44.

Back then, the goal posts in the NFL were on the goal line, not the back of the end zone like today, so the coach thought he was calling for a 51-yarder. The NFL record at the time was 56 yards, so 63 yards was unthinkable.

Dempsey, who was born missing a hand and half of his right (kicking) foot, booted it in the obsolete straight-on style. And Dempsey is said to have had quite a hangover after enjoying Saturday night New Orleans-style. The players had intentionally gotten drunk because they were mad at the owner for firing their coach Tom Fears and replacing him with the kind of idiot who couldn’t tell which 44-yard-line his team was on.

Dempsey was famously violent for a kicker. Since he couldn’t break any fingers on his stump, he was notorious for using it as a club on kick returners.

Hilarious post by Steve Sailer about Tom Dempsey and placekicking in the Southwest Conference in the 1970s. The crazy stuff you learn after years of thinking you knew it all, or at least most of it.