Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

1/18/2013

Vitamins from Food

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Fun Work,Life Goals — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

A healthy mind is a creative mind!

And, let’s face it, a healthy mind is supported by a healthy body.  Exercise is one aspect of that, but at a more fundamental level, properly fueling our bodies and minds is, I think, the most important first step.  Last week, I linked to a site to help you put your diet on autopilot.  This week, I’m suggesting that you maximize your vitamin intake.  Not through taking supplements, though that’s not a bad idea…
Read More

11/11/2011

Pros You Should Know

Filed under: Art,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:27 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, not geek professionals, in this case.

Normally, I don’t blatantly promote other people who aren’t either ultra-cool geeks or paying me money, but, in this case, I’ll make an exception.
I’m really into photography.  I wasn’t always, but the December after I finished chemotherapy, I bought my first digital SLR camera.  It cost what I thought of as a small fortune, but it was worth it.  Shortly after that, I took a couple of seminars.  One from the ever popular Joe McNally and another one by a guy named Syl Arena.  The class I took eventually became the book The Speedliter’s Handbook and is pretty much THE book to have for someone shooting with Canon Speedlites.  The class, and book, were fantastic.  Syl was a genius teacher and a really nice, patient guy, too.
Well, he’s the inaugural “pro” on the Pros You Should Know feature at the Borrowlenses.com blog.  It’s worth checking out, not just for him, but for the rest of their blog, too.

And, if you’re not into photography, I apologize for not having something for you this week.  If you ARE, though, trust me and go read up on Syl Arena.  It’s worth it!

9/14/2011

Finally, A Cure For This Disease

Filed under: Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:43 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, seriously!

It seems that there’s an new, experimental, gene therapy that may cure cancer.  At least, for two of three test subjects, it cured advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia.  That’s a type of cancer, incidentally, very similar to the diffuse large B-cell lymphoma that I was diagnosed as having back in 2007.  You can read the full story over at the New York Times, but, here’s the rundown in brief.
The researchers took regular, virus-and-tumor-fighting T-cells from the patients and added specially tailored genes to them which let the T-cells target the cancer cells.  Then, they “dripped” the altered T-cells back into the patients, who had already exhausted all other treatment options, including chemotherapy and bone-marrow transplants.  Ten days later, the first patient got the chills.  And his temperature spiked while his blood pressure dropped.  The doctors moved him to an intensive care unit, not quite sure what was happening to him.  A few weeks later, all his symptoms were gone.  And so was the leukemia.  He was normal.

Granted, there have only been three test cases, including the one I just described, with varying results, but two out of the three had an apparently complete cure of their cancer.  For most of us who have had cancer of any kind, those are pretty damn good odds.  They’re odds that I’d take, should I have cancer again, that’s for sure.
And, frankly, it all sounds like a miracle, like science-fiction come true.

When I was getting chemotherapy, I ordered a t-shirt, really without thinking too much about it.  It was a joke, about the future and how we were promised jetpacks and how the futurists lied to us.  But, when it arrived, I read it more closely.  Here’s what it said:
“they lied to us
this was supposed to be the future
where is my jetpack,
where is my robotic companion,
where is my dinner in pill form,
where is my hydrogen fueled automobile,
where is my nuclear-powered levitating home,
where is my cure for this disease
Well, it looks like the future is now.
Thank God.

 

9/12/2011

Another Year’s Reprieve

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:20 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I’m not going to die.

Well, at least, I’m not going to die of cancer.  Not this year, anyway.
Today, the oncologist told me my lymphoma is in full remission still.  In fact, the scar tissue has shrunk even more, from 14cm to 11cm, which I think is kind of amazing, but didn’t seem to illicit any special notice from the doctor.  Some people are just impossible to please, I guess!
He was a little worried because my blood pressure was high, but, then again, I’d just driven though rush-hour traffic to wait around for more than an hour for results on whether or not I was going to have to let them poison me for another six months.  All things considered, I think it’s pretty normal that I might have a slightly elevated BP!  But, I will keep an eye on it and make sure it normalizes again.
He did say, also, that I’ve made it to the point where less than 10% of the people have a likely recurrence of lymphoma.  And, according to his Physician’s Assistant, the five-year mark is where I can be officially considered “cured”, which is the first time anyone has actually told me that.  Everyone else keeps telling me that I’ll never really be “cured”, per se, but always in remission with a smaller, and smaller, and smaller chance of reoccurence every year.  So, today, I got a little more hope than I had before, which is actually pretty nice.

All in all, a pretty good result.  I’ll go back in another 10 months for another scan, which is not quite as long as I’d like, but, better than going again sooner because they found something to be concerned about.  At that time, they will start me on a course of annual visits for this scan, which I’m not incredibly happy about, but will do until a better option comes along.  And, based on what his PA told me, I think it will be something negotiable.  The doctor may not realize that, but, well, I suspect he’s not quite used to dealing with a patient like me.  My last doctor and I joked about the fact that I wouldn’t pay my bills until I knew she was going to do her job and save my life.  We agreed that it seemed only fair!  Of course, she did, in fact, save my life, so I did pay those bills.  That is, however, one concern I have for the long-term; paying those bills.  This gets to be a pretty expensive process and if I don’t really need to keep doing it every year, I may chose to opt for a slightly modified plan.
The doctor may not be excited by that, but I have ten months to sharpen my bargaining skills, while he’s completely in the dark about my plans.  It’ll be interesting to see how that turns out!

Until then, though, I continue to work on my general health and wellness.  I was pleasantly surprised to weigh in at a mere 216, fully clothed and laden down with my ridiculous “daily carry” of keys and flash drives and over-stuffed wallet and all the other pocket litter, as the spies call it, that I usually have on me.  As I mentioned, my blood pressure was a bit high, but I’ll work on that.  A little Zen meditation, and maybe some yoga, ought to bring that under control again.
Oh, don’t be so shocked by the yoga!  No, I haven’t started doing it yet, but several people have suggested it and I decided to start looking into it.  I’m getting older and starting to tighten up some.  My knees in particular seem to get stiffer faster than they did.  Besides, I hear yoga class is a great place to meet women who are physically fit!

I do still struggle a bit with depression.  Nothing too bad, but, well, it is something that cycles around on a semi-regular basis.  I figure the yoga and meditation would help with that, too.  Speaking about my psychological well-being…
My oncologist tells me I should get married.  I thought it might be better to start with dating, but I’m pretty sure I can work the “doctor’s orders” into a decent and semi-original opening line.  I think a bit of laughing in the face of death might help some, too.  I hear chicks dig that.  Of course, I also hear that magnets can cure joint pain and people pay huge money for the kind of rough treatment my poor colon got last week for “health reasons”.  Frankly, I find it hard to believe that a regular course of high colonics could possible be good for me, so I’ll take the things Men’s Health tells me about women with a grain of salt.  (Though, I have started to edit my Match.com profile again in preparation for stepping out in the wild world of dating again.  Seriously.  Lock up your daughters!  Seriously!)

So, yeah, after all my angst last week about the physical side-effects of chemotherapy, I’ve been spared that.  I even got better than expected news, frankly!  So, I admit, I do feel a bit foolish for getting so worked up about it.  I mean, I should have more faith than that, shouldn’t I?  Well, that’s something else I’m still working on.
Thankfully, it seems I have the time.

 


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"A day hemmed in prayer is less likely to unravel."

9/5/2011

In Search of Schrödinger’s Tumor

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a First Quarter Moon

I may, or may not, have cancer.

Now, before all my regular readers and, due to my automated update configurations, my Twitter and Facebook friends who might read this, get too excited, nothing has changed in my recent medical status.  However, Wednesday, I go in for a scan.  A regular scan, nothing special, nothing new.  My scheduled, nine-month scan, per the standard protocol.  Or so I have been lead to believe.

The scan, however routine it may be, will not decide if I have cancer, however.
That, I’m afraid, already is.  Or is not.  Either my body has betrayed me again and a cancerous growth has lodged itself in my chest or it hasn’t and I’m as healthy as I feel.  Personally, I’m inclined to think that I’m cancer free, still, and this whole exercise will be a test of the quality of my health insurance.  But, also, as it turns out, it’s a test of my patience and courage.

You have to understand, I’m not afraid of cancer.  Or of death, either, really.  It’s chemotherapy that terrifies me.
Cancer, as such, is just a way of describing cells that have gotten a bit carried away with themselves and aren’t too particular about playing by the standard set of rules.  And death…  Well, death is the one thing we all have in common.  None of us make it out of this place alive.  Not a one.  Death, in its way, is the final answer.  The ultimate solution to every problem I’ve ever had or can ever conceive of having.  So, no, though I don’t know what waits on the other side of that particular experience, death doesn’t frighten me so much.
Chemotherapy, on the other hand, I do know.  It is, I think, the embodiment of suffering.  At least, for me.

I know everyone’s experience with chemotherapy is different, so, let me take a moment and tell you why it is that I fear it.  For me, chemo was about losing all my hair, all my color, close to sixty pounds, and virtually all my energy.  And, frankly, in a very, very short amount of time.
My hair went first.  I remember it coming out in clumps in the shower.  Just like in the movies.  I started to cry when it happened.  Great racking sobs, with tears running down my face, mixing with the soapy water.  No one can see you crying in the shower.  I recommend it, if you have any crying to do in the future and you’d rather people not know.  It’s one of the many useful things I’ve learned from one of my ex’s.  I took my beard trimmer and cranked it down to the shortest setting, then sheared the rest away myself.  My own way of taking a bit of control back, I suppose.  But, I remember that day, more than four years ago, as if it were yesterday.  A few days later, I shaved for the last time in what would turn out to be more than six months.
My eyebrows and ear hair and nose hair weren’t far behind.  You have no idea how important nose hair is until you don’t have any.  Trust me.  My nose ran for weeks and weeks and weeks.  Nonstop.  All those annoying, little hairs filter the nasty gunk out of the air and grip it with that snotty mucous up in there and keep it from getting into your lungs, as it turns out.  Without it, well, your nose just runs and runs and runs like a little kid with a cold on a Winter playground.

The weight and the color took longer.  By the time I was an unhealthy, pallid gray, my goatee had become so thin that I shaved it off.  And, I was a larval, grub-like thing, pale and weak, before the weight started to melt off me.
Frankly, I wouldn’t have minded the weight loss, but it took muscle as much as it took the fat.  And, of course, it involved severe nausea and, yes, actual vomiting.  Not to mention all the other symptoms, like how everything smelled different; how all my favorite food smelled, well, wrong somehow.  And the weird bloating I would get in my hands and arms that led the doctors to proscribe diuretics and force the poor nurses to record how much I peed, by volume.  I was measured and weighed regularly.  Multiple times per day, actually.  Oh, and the drugs!  Pills by the score, a fist-full at a time.  Self-administered injections three times a day, at one point.  All while fighting nausea and trying to find a square inch of flesh that I could still pinch up enough to get a needle into without going all the way through.

Death would have been easier.

But, as a wise, Zen-Catholic almost-monk reminded me recently, without fear, there can be no bravery.
He also reminded me that the test will only show what is, or is not, already there.  It will only tell me if I have just another problem to deal with, or another opportunity to exercise my courage, or, simply, a bill to pay and just another doctor’s appointment to go to and questions to ask and answer.
And, either way, all I can do is live in the present moment.  What’s happened is done already.  What happens in the future is yet to be determined and may not have anything to do with what has come before.  And, regardless of the results of this scan on Wednesday, which I’ll get on the following Monday, I can only live as best I can, as best I know how.  There will, ultimately, be other scans, other tests, potentially one every year until the day I do, finally, make the last great leap into the dark.  In between those scans, however many there may be, I slowly, gradually, have chosen to live healthier.  The past couple years, I’ve been juicing.  Fresh, home-made, organic vegetable juice.  And, this year, fruit smoothies.  Both, or either, instead of sandwiches for lunch, along with yogurt, which has lately been organic as well, and, newest of all, Greek for the higher protein.
I exercise more regularly than ever.  I’d like to be less heavy than I am, or at least less fat.  Pound for pound, more muscular would be just fine at my weight.  Less stiff and less creaky in the joints would be okay, too.  Some mornings when I get up, I sound very much like a bowl of Rice Krispies my joints snap, crackle and pop so much.  Several people have suggested that I add yoga to my exercise regimen, that it would help with flexibility and ease my stiff joints.  And, when I hear a thing three times, from three very different people, I have to at least investigate that or risk the Universe taking offense at my willfully ignoring the suggestion.  So, this conservative, meat-and-potatoes, tough-minded, mostly pragmatic Mid-Westerner has found himself a bit adrift in Texas, more liberal and open-minded toward alternative health practices, eating mostly fruits and vegetables and “crunchy granola”, and, yes, finally, investigating yoga, of all things.  At least I hear the classes are mostly women, so, who knows, maybe I’ll meet a nice, healthy girl who won’t laugh too loudly at my foolishness.

So, regardless of how terrified I may be of having to endure chemotherapy again, or how distasteful I find the radioactive enema I will pay an enormous deductible on, I will face the day, the scan, with as much courage and dignity as I can still manage.  I will do my best to be thankful for the friends and family who support me in my weakness and discomfort, and, yes, for the medical staff who will run me through their gauntlet.  I will try to be patient while waiting for the results of what is already there, or not, like Schrödinger’s cat, who’s state cannot be known until it is observed.
And, when all is said and done, I will try not to let the fear cripple me, but, rather, I will do my best to live more fully.  Certainly, more fully than I have been, more courageously, I hope.  I will still know fear, I am sure, but, as I was reminded, there can be no courage without the fear first.

Of course, until that all happens, I will be more than happy to accept your prayers, good thoughts, and any introductions to nice, pretty, healthy ladies who aren’t more than ten years younger than I.
But, let’s start with those prayers, okay?
Thanks.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Our devotion to truth may bring us into conflict with those around us. What we need to remember is that we are not responsible for convincing anyone else of what we believe to be true."

6/1/2010

What, no superpowers?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dog which is in the evening time or 8:35 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, I almost didn’t even mention this, but, I got scanned again today.

I’m on a six-month rotation now for my cancer re-staging scans.  For those of you who might be relatively new to this blog, that’s a CT scan to check and see if my diffuse, large “B”-cell lymphoma has become active again.  To see if I’m still in remission or if I’ll need treatment again.  And, I can tell you for certain, as much as I piss and moan about having to go get this very comprehensive, very invasive, very uncomfortable scan, it still beats six months worth of chemotherapy.  Trust me on this.
Now, I won’t say that I’m getting used to doing this, but, well, I sort of am.  If getting a barium enema, however, becomes something that I start to think of as “normal”, then it’ll be time to put the old dog down because something truly terrible will have happened to my life.  I don’t want ingesting radioactive materials, or having them injected, by any method, to ever become something I get real casual about, because it is a pretty serious thing, and being done for a very serious reason.

Of course, that’s not to say that the entire day was torturous.  For one thing, I did get to spend the day with one of my very most favorite people.  In.  The.  Entire.  World!
Seriously!  I adore her and hardly get to see her or talk to her even.  She’s working and in school and, before you ask the question, dating someone who is most certainly not me at all.  And, of course, I tend to be going a zillion miles a minute, so we tend to have some trouble connecting.  I miss her, in short, and today was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with each other a little bit.  Though, I have to admit, I’m afraid I may have been a little distracted by the aforementioned radioactive material and, so, I don’t think I was as fully present with her as I might have liked.
But, outside of that, it was as good a day as it could possibly be.

Though, I am starting to wonder just how truthful all those comic books I read as a kid were.  After all, with all the exposure to radiation that I’ve had, I really feel like I should have developed some kind of super-mutant-power by now.  I mean, I don’t turn green when I get mad or have any early warning of impending peril or anything!  I figured that I’d at least be able to function as my own night-light by now!
*sigh*
Well, maybe in six months when I go back again something will finally happen.
I guess I’ll just have to check with my new oncologist in three weeks when I go see him for the results of this test.  Maybe he can shed some light on just how many more times I have to do this before I can start picking out my costume for my super-identity.
Until then, though, I’ll just try not to set off any metal detectors at the airport….

11/1/2009

Creative Focus

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Life, the Universe, and Everything,NaNoWriMo,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Full Moon

I have some focus problems.

Forgive me, dear readers, I know it’s been weeks since I’ve had a decent week of real news, commentary or updates.  It’s the season.  Fall always slows me down and throws me off balance.  October and November are always crazy, hectic, chaotic months for me.  Set aside the fact that everything seems to be family oriented, which serves as a reminder that it was August of 2005 when my divorce was final, and the Sunday before Thanksgiving in 2004 when The Queen of the Damned hopped on her broomstick and flew off cackling, leaving me quite effectively without family right before the holidays.

No, set that aside, because, clearly, it doesn’t effect me at all.
Forget, too, that it was the Fall of 2006 when I started coming down with pneumonia that turned into a football sized tumor.  Or that it was August of 2007 when I finished chemotherapy and looked, for all intents and purposes, like a walking corpse, a living ghost.
Because, as much as I’d like to blame the slump on all that, it really has little to do with it.  What’s more true is that I get endlessly, uselessly busy in October, getting ready for the social obligations of November.  Oddly, December has far fewer social obligations than November and I look forward to the relative peace of December, even without snow, and the joy of Christmas, the rebirth of light into the world.

Sadly, I’ve done far too little so far to prepare for November’s fun and games, and I’ve been a little paralyzed with the Herculean task of clearing the clutter in my house.  That, along with an impending visit from my parents, and my usual Thanksgiving party, which is being a little displaced this year, is why I’m not even going to pretend to try my hand at NaNoWriMo this year.  It’s also partly why I’ve been so long between any real updates.
I have been working quite a bit the last two weeks, often working late, sometimes far too late, to try and get things accomplished at work.  Also, I’ve been working out.  Yes, I know, I was doing that before, some, but now I’m doing it more.  Not only in the morning, but, when I can manage it, a second, lighter, workout in the evening.  I’ve been using those iPhone apps I reviewed not too long ago, FoodScan and DailyBurn, to track my inputs and outputs and discovered that I hadn’t been working enough to burn off breakfast!  So, I stepped it up a bit.  I think the results are showing, too.  I’ve dropped a little over 10 pounds in two months, which seems pretty sustainable to me.  More importantly, I feel better physically and, I think, look better, too.
But, that takes time, dear readers, and, while the extra exercise has been helping me sleep, it’s also been putting me out earlier, which means less writing time!

But, it’s not all grim!
I’ve also been busy because I’ve been reading more.  Some fiction, but a little bit more non-fiction, like The Dip and Think And Grow Rich.  I’ve also started to work my way through the backlog of photography books I’ve been accumulating.  Most recently, I’ve been reading The Moment It Clicks by Joe McNally, and I’ll read his other book on photography, The Hot Shoe Diaries, next in my non-fiction queue.  (Who knew that the advice of not bothering to light your subject’s feet would produce a visibly better photo for me?)  Also, I got these two books because this coming weekend, November 7th and 8th, I have signed up for a two-day lighting and portraiture seminar taught by Mr. McNally.  And, to say that I am looking forward to it is beyond understatement.  I recognize that the only way to improve my photography is to take some kind of instruction, and, of course, get out shooting more, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to work on those meager skills.  The class shouldn’t be more than 200 people, so I’m not sure how “hands on” this will be, but, from everything I’ve heard, McNally is a fantastic teacher, so I’m sure I’ll learn something that makes the more than reasonable $150 fee money well spent.  After all, just reading a few pages of The Moment It Clicks has visibly improved my self-portraits, I think.

It may be that I’ve been pouring all my creative energy out either via photography or solving problems at work, but I sure don’t feel like I’ve had anything left to write at all, much less well.  Or, it may be that I’ve just gotten out of the habit of writing every chance I get and not worrying about the quality of the work.
In any case, you’ve just gotten a bit of an update on what I’ve been up to lately, so, I guess, that’s good enough.
For now.

8/19/2009

Blog Confessor

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rat which is in the wee hours or 1:03 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

“Forgive me, blog, it’s been…  Well, a long time.”

Wow, my blogging has been really sketchy here the past couple of months.  There are reasons.  Lots and lots of reasons.  First, of course, would be my no-longer-pregnant-friend’s-wife being, uh, no longer pregnant.  Did I tell you they named the baby after me?  Well, his middle name is my first name.  And, he’s an angel.  Also, I heard yesterday, he was circumcised, which means statistically he’ll be more likely to recieve oral sex as an adult.  So, you know, he’s got that going for him.

But, I’ve had a few other things that have kept me from blogging as much, or being as personal, too.
For one thing, I’ve been depressed.  Not in the “holy-jeebus-I-can’t-stand-living-anymore” way, but a kind of low-level, unmotivated, anti-social, why-can’t-I-ever-get-enough-sleep sort of way that makes doing more than day-to-day living a little difficult.  Funny thing about that, though, is a couple of weeks ago I finally broke down and saw the therapist who got me through my divorce a couple years back.  Well, I suppose that’s not funny, but what he said was.  After talking to him for about 20 minutes, he suggested I go see my cardiologist about changing my high-blood-pressure medication.  After listening to some of the symptoms of my depression, like insomnia, mood-swings, irritibility, a general anti-social bent, terrible short-term memory, among others, and connecting that with new medication I started taking while I was getting chemotherapy, he related a tale of personal woe to me that had me covinced in no time that I needed to make a cardiologist appoinitment.  So, I have one Thursday afternoon.  It took more than two weeks to get in to see this guy, because he’s got that good a reputation.  Hopefully, that will bode well for changing my meds.  Can you imagine, though?  Two years of insomnia may have all been caused by side-effects of medication that I was ignoring.  Amazing.

Of course, some of my depression and what not is due to other things, but I think a lot of it is a side-effect of that insomnia.  The funny thing is, it all starts to reinforce itself.  So my messy house that I never have the energy to clean, makes me even more depressed and makes it harder for me to get the energy to clean.  All the projects that I want to start, including that other mystery blog, take more energy than I feel I have, which makes me more depressed and hard on myself, which, in turn, saps more energy away on useless recriminations and feelings of depression.  It’s a viscious circle.

But, I hope that will change soon.
Of course, staying up late to write this probably hasn’t helped, so now I’m off to bed.  Ciao!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"There is no failure except no longer trying."
   --Elbert Hubbard

8/17/2009

Grant James Fordham

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:44 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent


RoughNight

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

A funny thing happened on the way to the rest of my life.

Yesterday morning at 12:58am, my best friend and his wife gave birth to a son. Rumor has it that she did most of the work. I served merely as a pre-marital counselor and general life-coach to the male half of the dynamic duo who created the angel you see in the picture which accompanies this post. However, in the future, I expect I’ll be babysitting, possibly the odd stint of spilling the secrets to life that the little guy’s father might be reluctant to disclose.

I have no idea where they came up with Grant’s first name, but he got his middle name from me. Yeah, I know, right? It sounds all crazy, but his father told me that his middle name was, in fact, after me. I’m pretty sure I started saying stupid things right about then and, let me assure you, not just because it was 1:30 in the morning and I’d been up so late it was early. I have a slightly hard time with precisely what motivated that, but I don’t think I’ve ever been more flattered or honored.
I hope they don’t think it’s going to keep me from spoiling this kid rotten, though, because, if anything, it’s going to make it that much easier to justify in my head.

I sort of have a funny relationship with other people’s babies these days.
You see, there was a time that I was a de facto father. I was on the lease-to-own program with my ex-wife’s kid. But, I did hope to one day make my own replacement from scratch. Unfortunately, one of the quirky side-effects of my chemotherapy was sterility. Now, I’ll grant you that the strangely optimistic oncologist who broke that news to me also allowed that, as I was “young”, I might eventually recover enough from that to be a viable agent of reproductive biology. Of course, that would generally require a partner, which I’m currently lacking, but that actually seems like the least of my problems with that whole process.
In any case, all those things have led me to, well, to get a little funny around other people’s kids, especially the freshly decanted ones.

Most of the people I hang with these days don’t know me as a father. I was one, though, and, I’d like to think, a pretty good one, in spite of how things seem to have worked out. I suspect they thought I was somewhat terrified of breaking the adorable, little monster, and, I suppose I was. I generally have started with kids after they were verbal and learning to stumble around their surroundings like a veteran drunk. Though, I do have to admit, I was gratified when someone asked if Uncle Jim wanted to hold Grant today and my friend replied immediately, without any hesitation or visible trepidation whatsoever, that “of course he would!”, which was, of course, quite true.

I’ll have you know Grant drifted off to sleep in my arms as I cooed to him in a very manly and macho fashion. In fact, I would not be surprised one bit if we set a precedent with that, since the men in my family do have the most oddly soothing voices, especially when we slide gently into middle age.
Apparently, the women in the room all decided that I was quite adorable with little Grant James. That may be something I use later, by the way. I’m not above volunteering to take my namesake for a walk in the park or a ride in the car as an excuse to troll for available women. For that kind of bait, I’d even change diapers. Really.

You can expect to see and hear more about Grant James Fordham as the years go by and we get to know him.
I don’t know how you all feel about all that, but I’m looking forward to it.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate."
   --Thomas Jones

7/20/2009

Review: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

Filed under: Fiction,Fun,Movies,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:06 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent


HalfBloodPrince

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Friday night.

It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t great, in my opinion, but it wasn’t bad.
Now, I read the entire series several years ago now. In fact, I finished the last one while I was in the hospital getting chemotherapy. But, it’s been so long since I read the books that I don’t remember all the fine details. I did, however, see the movie with a friend who does remember that kind of thing and he said that the movie was very true to the book. The one deviation is that the funeral at the end of the book is not in the movie.

Now, here there be spoilers, so if you don’t know the story, skip to the last paragraph now.
So, okay, most of what I remember from the book was there, for sure. A little different and compressed, of course, but mostly still there. I have to admit, I skipped a couple of these movies, in part because I was going through a divorce and cheating death when at least one or two of them came out. But, also, I just wasn’t that into the movies. I couldn’t stop reading the books when I started them because I had to know what happened next, but not so much with the movies.

All that being said, I remember more mushy romance, more dark, dark, dark stuff with Tom Riddle/Voldemort as a boy. He was pretty nasty and they just hint at what ways he may have been a mean, cruel young man and why in the movie. Also, I seem to recall more mystery and intrigue with the Draco Malfoy sub-plot and the whole thing with Severus Snape. By the time we got to the famous Dumbldore murder scene in the book, you’re not sure what side Snape is on and convinced that Harry must die to defeat Voldemort. But, I wasn’t sold by the end of the movie. Granted, I know how things turn out, but, frankly, Rickman’s heart just didn’t seem to be in Snape this time out. I think he may be getting tired of this role, but I’m sure he’s getting paid quite well to do it, so, whatever.

There was one scene that stood out for me which was just how I remembered it from the book, though. When Dumbledore and Harry go to get the horcrux in the cavern on the storm-wracked coast, it was pretty well as I remembered it. Or, perhaps, even better. Pulling up the boat from the hidden lake via the chain, and the corpses beneath it are both just how I pictured them. Especially those angry, swampy corpses trying to drag Harry down to join them.

Other parts, though, just seemed a little glossed over, which, I suppose, is why they’re breaking the last book into two movies. Also, bigger profits.
The one thing that they left out, which surprised me, was the very formal funeral of Dumbledore. I suppose it would have taken too much time and, besides, they got the point across with the scene that did end the film.

All in all, though, in spite of some variation from the book, this was a very good movie. I don’t think it was a great movie, like the first one, but it was well worth seeing. Also, it was one of the better films of the season, for sure. If you’re a fan of the books, or just a fan of the earlier movies, this is a must-see movie. If you haven’t, somehow, seen the other movies at least, go rent them, then see this movie, or you’ll be totally lost.
So, final verdict, good and worth seeing, but not great.

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