Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Multicourse Meal of Spam

Though Google and Microsoft have made targeting spammers world wide a priority the last couple of years, the spam still keeps coming. That’s true for referral spam targeting blogs especially Blogger and Wordpress hosted ones. Clearing out my back log of more than questionable referrals highlights the wide variety of spam out there.

Remember folks to never click on strange or suspicious links in your referrals – or anywhere else for that matter. Leave it to people crazy or secured enough to investigate the trash that gets past the junk filters.

hand-made-soaps Spam 01

As an appetizer, I present a tastefully designed site, http : // hand-made-soaps . com / homemade-lotion-recipes /, that offers recipes and tip on making your own soaps. This is not something normally associated with spammers, since they tend to be a dirty lot who don’t get out of their small apartments very often. Looks bland enough, but it hides a potent kick.

Iconic Spam

Remember when making icons for apps was all the rage? You don’t?! Well, a flood of referral spam to my Blogger site has filled me with nostalgia for the Windows 3.1 era of the early 1990s. All of the following spam traces back to Aha-soft in Canada as the screen captures will show.

Remember never to click on strange referral links showing up on Blogger stats. Leave that to crazy people like me armored up with security, virtual PCs, and anonymous web browsing capabilities.

Badaicons Spam 01Badaicons Spam 02

The spam deluge began with http: // www . badaicons . com/ which leads to a page selling icons for Samsung smartphone apps. Clearly this is aimed at developers creating apps rather than end users.

Aha-soft Spam 01Aha-soft Spam 02

Digging deeper into the links, it turns out the pages are part of a larger site, www . aha-soft . com, with redirects galore from their many domain names. They appear to be a real company out of Vancouver, Canada selling royalty free icon libraries plus software to view and create them.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Having finished yet another consult with a different specialist, a plan is in place to insert a feeding tube into my father. An attempt will be made to run one down through his nose and if that fails a surgically implanted one will be required. Anything more drastic will have to wait until chemo is long over with.

In the meantime, we are sitting at a small waiting area across from the department's check out desk. A mistake in the computerized order form means it has to be resubmitted just to get another consulting appointment schedule.

Remember when computers were supposed to make everything happen faster?

That question probably dates me, doesn't it?

I'd throw a third question in here, but progress is being made on the scheduling. That ruins my riffing for now. Thursday morning the tube down the nose will be tried, so only two days from now.

Printout time.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


It is a dreary Sabbath day with gray skies and the promise of rain returning as I type this post. Dad hit rock bottom in a sudden turn on Friday that led to another visit to the emergency room on Saturday for a bag of saline to deal with dehydration. With the full liquid diet becoming unbearable to him due to no appetite or will power, a feeding tube will need to be surgically inserted some time this week. Monday is the day we’ll know when.

Malnutrition is causing problems, ranging from swollen feet to an inability to keep warm. We were fortunate that the oncology specialist handling my father’s case happened to be on call this weekend and the doctor on duty ran into him. Since the endoscopy results show the cancer completely gone, the remaining two chemotherapy sessions may be halved in dosage or even dispensed with. Prednisone will be removed from the RCHOP no matter what is decided.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fiddling About the Edges

When one has a chronic illness, especially something that saps all energy like CFS, they need to find small things to do to keep from going stir crazy. For me, that's usually playing video games. What to do when even that is hard?

Well, I'm tweaking old review posts in an effort to clean up the formatting and tell search engines not to follow internal links. A small experiment at having an automated list making widget back on the blog produced the results I expected, that being a drop in search engine presence. Google may claim that the nofollow attribute is only needed in some cases, but it looks to me that they punish internal linking far more than they say.

I'd toyed with changing the links for some time so this was simply a tedious endeavor requiring time and no creativity. Something that requires no brain cells firing? Perfect for how I feel at the moment!

Well, that and dish washing which is weeks worth now. But that takes more energy. Like Pa Kettle, I'll get around to it one of these days.

Notes for the next review are nearly complete, so I'm on schedule there despite all the interruptions, crises, and exhaustion. Still need to do more work on the Sunday school lesson coming up in several days.

Life goes on.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Time Isn't Flying

Once again a long day at Gundersen has begun, with an endoscopy about to be performed on my father. Like all things medical, preparation and paperwork take up hours before the main event. These days, I've come to believe this is more draining than the more dramatic events.

After the procedure is over, we'll have a much clearer picture of what needs to be done to get his stomach functioning correctly again. An update to this post will cover the results of the exploration.

UPDATE: While final results and analysis have yet to be given, the pictures indicate that the opening of the stomach into the small intestine is tiny. Once again it was impossible to pass through it for a deeper look, this time due to the opening being far too rigid to pass anything by. This would fit with the scar tissue theory.

Biopsy samples were taken for CMV culturing. Initial suggestion is a feeding tube inserted into the small intestine, but Dad wants to continue trying the full liquid diet. Hopefully more will be decided once all the data is in.

The last few days have been particularly hard due to the ongoing nutritional issues and growing difficulties with Dad's behavior. Irrational outbursts and fuzzy reasoning has made him a handful to deal with. I'm being run into the ground in the process.

Side effect of medication mixed with poor sleep and no real food is not a good combination. I suspect many a family member or caretaker have gone through this hidden cost of cancer. Severe illness affects far more people than just the one struck ill.

In the end, all you can do is endure and try to help. The hardest part is learning when the loved one is not fully in control of their faculties. They certainly aren't able to tell themselves, so conflict is guaranteed.

So much forgiveness is required. Patience will get exhausted eventually, so forget about relying on that exclusively to get through things.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Godzilla (1998) Review

Radioactive Rage Month continues with the most controversial incarnation of Godzilla. When popcorn movie makers Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin got their hands on the first American attempt at the world’s most famous giant lizard, a disaster of epic proportions unfolded much to the horror of onlookers. By that, I mean the audience, not the characters in the story.

Godzilla 1998 Title

DISCLAIMER: Due to repeated viewings of the subject matter, the author of this review may have suffered permanent brain damage and cannot be held accountable for any ranting, denials of reality, or other acts of insanity that follow.

The horror… the horror…

With the winding up of the Heisei era series of Godzilla films, Toho Studios licensed out the big green ‘G’ to star in a big budget Hollywood version. Multiple directors bailed on the project due to the constraint of keeping the budget to $100,000,000. Eventually Roland Emmerich (Universal Soldier, Independence Day, Stargate) agreed to make the movie for that amount as long as he was allowed to do whatever he wanted. Tristar agreed to the terms and production began.

This is what is commonly referred to as “a mistake.”

Heavily hyped to the public, high expectations were generated after the smash hit Jurassic Park proved that large lizards could be made to look both realistic and terrifying thanks to advances in computer generated (CG) effects. I remember it well, for speculation on message boards was rampant thanks to the rise of the Internet. Secrecy was maintained well during production and what little info leaked slowly began to worry long time Godzilla buffs.

We weren’t alarmed enough, it turned out. Time to gird my loins, abandon my sanity, and write this review.

The horror… the horror…

Monday, April 14, 2014

April Snow

Looking out the window this morning brought an unwelcome sight – almost two inches of snow. Tufts of greening grass poke out of the unwanted frozen H2O lit by the glare from a gray sky. This is not the spring renewal I ordered. Unfortunately, there is a no refund policy when it comes to weather.

So far the Easter season hasn’t gotten off to a positive start, what with Russian militia types shooting people in eastern Ukraine and a white supremacist (neo-Nazi) murdering people at two Jewish community centers in Kansas City yesterday. Both are fulfillments of aggression I’ve watched build up on the Net for some time.

The latter bothers me the most, probably due to the proximity of Passover. Lately I’ve seen an escalation of Jew bashing amongst the thirty and under set online that has grown out of control. A lot of it came out of the OWS rhetoric that went mainstream blaming all the financial woes on Jewish bankers. Sound familiar? It should if you know the history of the 1920s and ‘30s.

The biggest red flag has been seeing caricatures of Jews being posted on message boards that looks straight out of Nazi and Muslim propaganda. These aren’t boards devoted to politics or religion, but entertainment. It tells me that hatred and dehumanizing of Jews has begun in earnest again.

Dad is miserable and becoming a cantankerous handful to deal with due to it. He’s even skipping medications when he feels he can’t drink enough food to allow them to be ingested. To say this isn’t good is an understatement, but there is nothing that can be done about it since reason is not accepted by him.

My health hasn’t been great the past week, even by my lowly standards. Returning cold temperatures the last few days has been a trial for us both. Damaging the ability to sleep does is not conducive to healing rest.

I’ve also taken brain damage from watching the first all American attempt at Godzilla from 1998. While taking notes I could feel my IQ lowering by the minute and if I’m lucky it only dropped to double digits. Because I have to take screen captures and listen to the commentary track, the odds of becoming a drooling idiot by the end of the day are rather high.

On with the dreary day…

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter 2014

Easter arrived here with storms and gloom preparing the way for Palm Sunday. The weather wrought pain throughout my body making a restful night impossible. So no church today. Is it any wonder that I feel some sympathy, perhaps even empathy for Jesus Christ today?

The hurt doesn’t even begin to match what He went through, yet it does focus my thoughts on the events that happened nearly two thousand years ago in a less clinical way than usual. There has been a running thread of sympathy for Satan in popular culture ranging from Milton’s Paradise Lost to the Rolling Stones Sympathy for the Devil. Where is the sympathy for Jesus, I wonder?

For all its inaccuracy, gore and blood fetishism, The Passion of the Christ did attempt just that ten years ago and became a phenomenon as a result. But that was a unique occurrence that came out of an independent movement outside of the media mainstream and is not likely to be repeated. The chosen few who rule the culture have no interest in morals, commandments, and redemption. Religion is something to me mocked and suppressed at all turns now.

Getting back to Easter, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has an interesting page up on the meaning of Easter. I like how it is presented and think it well represents the fundamental rule of missionary work, which is to keep things uncomplicated, accurate, and loving. You won’t find fire and brimstone there for Christ’s mission was one of salvation, not damnation.

The live chat questions from that page are something I’d like to answer in this post, since they are rather good queries.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Gojira (1984) Review

aka The Return of Godzilla aka Godzilla 1985

Radioactive Rampage Month continues with Godzilla’s come back film from the 1980s. Ditching the continuity of all the previous films except the original 1954 classic, this movie featured much ballyhooed new technology and a more serious take marked a new beginning for the franchise. Introducing a bigger, badder, and more feral incarnation of giant lizard, it was a marked departure from the kids films of the 1970s.

The Return of Godzilla Title

When 1975’s Terror of MechaGodzilla performed badly at the box office, it marked the end of two decades of Godzilla flicks. Toho Studios shelved the franchise and years went by until a resurgence in domestic interest in the radioactive kaiju prompted them to develop a new film. Oh there had been proposals and treatments created in the interim, but being in the business of making money the execs wanted to make sure there would be an audience.

Taking advantage of the fading memories of the last film meant they could now move in a new direction with a starting point from the first film. What they came up with was a direct sequel to the 1954 movie and far more serious than the aliens invading using large monsters storyline rut of the ‘70s. However, elements of the prior silliness are still present in this overly verbose story filled with Cold War paranoia.

This review is of the original Japanese version. I’ve never seen the American cut with Raymond Burr and am forced to wonder whether or not his pipe co-starred with him again like in Godzilla, King of the Monsters.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Besides being the title to a great Yes tune, the word “roundabout” describes those dreadful circular traffic intersections urban planners are in love with. For those lucky individuals who have not had to deal with one, the idea is that a series of exits are provided on a one way circle that you go round and round about. Supposedly this is more efficient and safe than regular on and off ramps, but get trapped in one heavy traffic on one…

Well, that’s what it feels like dealing with my father’s condition. Still losing weight on the full liquid diet (no solids at all), he is now scheduled for another endoscopy to see why nothing is improving in his stomach. That will be two weeks from now, so the agenda is to somehow increase his caloric intake and weight. So far that has not worked out.

Possibilities for dealing with his stomach range from using a stint or a balloon to widen the opening to the duodenum to a permanent feeding tube inserted into the small intestine. Possibilities, since they need to see what’s going on down there via a camera. Not fun to contemplate, though.

The cycle of appointments, blood drawings, and bills continues to around and around with an exit nowhere in sight. Next week is another chemotherapy infusion session and I can only pray it doesn’t hit him as hard as the last two.

Dad shaved most of the scraggly remains of his beard off, so his chin is now visible for the first time in over three decades. That is going to take some time to get used to, I must say. Adding to the changed appearance is his being down to 123 lbs. He’s becoming terribly skeletal.

Last night we went to the local movie theater in Spring Grove to watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It turned out to easily be the best of the Marvel super hero movies and quite a thriller. Good character development, acting, political commentary, and action put it close to a Chris Nolan Batman film in quality. Well worth checking out for those who haven’t seen it yet.

It was also a decent distraction for Dad, stopping his hiccups for awhile on a very bad day for them. That and all the running around today for appointments, groceries, and wood pellets has worn us both out. Now to get through the rest of the week.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1963) Review

Radioactive Rage month begins with the one and only clash between cinemas two biggest stars. When bad driving releases Godzilla from an icy tomb, the only weapon that can stop him is the mighty King Kong! But can Japan survive the clash of two titanic monsters? More importantly, who will win the fight in this wildly uneven movie?

King Kong vs Godzilla Title

The 1960s had arrived and both King Kong and Godzilla were unemployed after a mere two feature films each. Neither had appeared in a widescreen or color movie thanks to disappointing and rushed sequels to smash hit debuts. In what is an eternity for a film franchise, the last appearance for each had been 1933 and 1955, respectively.

So when an American producer shopped an idea around for a new King Kong movie where he fights another giant, he was met by the sound of crickets chirping. However, Toho Studios decided to take on the project and work in Godzilla as the substitute villain for the piece. Returning to helm the film was Gojira director Ishiro Honda who had not been involved in the lackluster Godzilla Raids Again.

The end result was a monster romp of the likes that hadn’t been seen since the days of Universal’s teaming up of the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Dracula. Aimed squarely at being an action comedy rather than a horror film, it was nothing like its predecessors. However, a few moments of the old chills appear making it a transitory Godzilla film from serious horror science fiction to kids films.

Unfortunately, the original Japanese version is not available so this will be a review of the heavily edited American version just released on Blu-ray for the first time.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Radioactive Rage Month

To celebrate the upcoming new American Godzilla coming out in May, I’ll be writing as many Godzilla movie reviews as I can up to the release. Rather than tackling the entire series in order, I’ll be starting out with comeback movies by the big G. Over the past sixty years, the radioactive lizard has had more comebacks than Rocky Balboa as times have changed.

If I pull off all four reviews planned, I’ll see what else I can fit in. The four will be:

  1. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  2. The Return of Godzilla (aka Gojira aka Godzilla 1985)
  3. Godzilla (1998 American)
  4. Godzilla 2000

If you are a North American fan of the Godzilla, you should be aware that a slew of releases on Blu-ray are out or will be in May:

  • King Kong vs. Godzilla
  • Gozilla vs. Hedorah (aka vs. the Smog Monster)
  • Godzilla vs. Gigan (aka Godzilla on Monster Island)
  • Ebirah – Horror of the Deep (aka Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster)
  • Godzilla vs. Destroyah/Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (Double Feature)
  • Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah/Godzilla vs. Mothra (Double Feature)
  • Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II/Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (Double Feature)
  • Godzilla: Final Wars/Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (Double Feature)

Many of the Heisei era have never been released in widescreen or the original Japanese language versions over here, so it is a pretty big deal. Others have commanded premium prices due to the DVDs being out of production for a decade. Prices are around $13-15 each on Amazon and other e-tailers so it is quite the bargain.

Also coming out on Blu-ray to ride on G’s tail are King Kong Escapes and the original Gamera films, the latter in two volumes of four movies in their original Japanese cuts.

It’s a good time to be a kaiju fan!

Friday, April 04, 2014

Love and Honor (2006) Review

Veteran director Yoji Yamada’s final entry into his loose trilogy of films about the decline of the samurai way of life may have the least action, but is the best of the lot. A simple story of a young samurai tragically blinded and how it effects his marriage makes for a deeply emotional movie told with great sensitivity and beauty. Faced with adversity, he has to to choose between love and honor.

Love and Honor Title

The mid to late 1800s in Japan was marked by the waning of the old feudal systems along with the associated samurai culture. Being a period of great turmoil affecting every level of society, the Bakumatsu transition to the Meiji Restoration is a fascinating time period in Japanese history and great fodder for movies. Domestic conflicts caused trouble within and interventions by foreign powers starting with Americans, then the English, French, and Dutch made it a time of violence and intrigue.

When Yamada decided to set his films Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade, and Love and Honor during this upheaval, he made the unusual choice of going small in scale rather than large. Adapted from novels by Shuhei Fujisawa, the stories featured intimate portraits of dissatisfied samurais breaking with tradition, or at least bending it nearly to that point, for the women they loved. It was a brilliant move that produced three incredible movies that rank with the best to ever come out of Japan.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Another Shooting at Fort Hood

History has a tendency to repeat itself, but this is only five years after Hassan went on his rampage. The new shooter has been identified as Ivan Lopez, age 34, a soldier. Take that with a grain of salt, it seems awfully early for identification even if the shooter is dead. Four dead and fourteen wounded as of the latest report.

It is stunning that security hasn’t been improved or that it simply doesn’t work. I imagine the victims were unarmed (soldiers aren’t allowed to carry arms on base, ironically) so they made for easy targets. Mass shooters don’t like to go up against anyone who can put up a fight and ultimately are cowards.

Doesn’t sound like terrorism like Hassan, but something personal.

My prayers and heart go out to the families and victims involved.

Raggedy Man

It has nearly been a week since my father’s third chemotherapy session and I wish I could report he is energetic. having been hospitalized for a week burned up what reserves he still had leaving him completely worn down. Hiccups returned after the session and he’s been fairly miserable since. Sleeping is erratic, and when combined with his refusal to deal with being ill, has caused him to really feel terrible the last few days.

Since his hair is slowly falling out, Dad has gotten very raggedy looking. Being unrested and grouchy (mainly to do with the full liquid diet) has made him look even worse. There’s no fooling people on how you are doing when the veins on your head look like the stand out several inches.

He’s going to have to accept his inability to do things or drive himself straight into the grave out of pure stubbornness. It has made me ponder the fact that stubbornness is just another name for stupidity. Rest is what he needs even if he doesn’t want to.

Meanwhile, I hit the wall last Thursday during the chemo and haven’t had energy to spare. I’m staggering through everything I have to do. That’s when I’m able to stagger at all – most of yesterday I spent in bed.

It isn’t uncommon for the mid to late cycles in cancer treatment to be the toughest periods for the patient, so this wasn’t unexpected. Expecting is far different from dealing with it once it arrives, though. Fortunately, this is a quiet week with few demands which means it is perfect for healing rest.

At least nothing exciting is going on.