Thursday, June 26, 2014

Not Looking Good

Today was the day Dad was supposed to get the all clear on cancer. Instead, initial test results indicate the lymphoma has spread elsewhere despite the tumor melting away. We’ll have more information tomorrow, but barring some other reason for all the spots showing up on the PET scan it doesn’t look good.

If the cancer has returned, it paints the decision by the family to cancel the last round of chemotherapy in a very bad light. As it stands, my father will have to have the feeding tube surgically implanted before any new assault on the cancer can begin. It may be a different cocktail of drugs from RCHOP and might be combined with radiation. Everything is again uncertain.

He’s also begun vomiting dried traces of blood again. Whatever is going on in the stomach, it isn’t remotely good.

Meanwhile, he’s lied about taking the drug to restore motility to help his stomach function again. Not only has he not increased the dosage like instructed over a week ago, he’s been skipping on it. I’m more than a little angry about it.

Suffice it to say that things are getting more difficult rather than easier. Dad’s stunned and might take fighting the cancer more seriously.

Me? I’m tired and discouraged. Nothing has gone right since the second round of chemo and the whole affair has been nightmarish. Lately the emergencies have been such a drain that I’ve gotten nothing done in the way of cleaning the house or writing for the blog.

Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to improve. I want to be wrong.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stuck in Place

Monday has arrived bringing improvement to my father's condition, albeit with no release from the hospital. Another day of observation and continued treatment is planned, so tomorrow will be the earliest he might come home.

In addition to the antibiotics and antacids, two units of blood have been put into him with a third on order. Dad's hemoglobin count is still lower than the doctors are comfortable with. However, he is responding nicely with the hiccups gone and the vomiting ending.

He also got a good night's sleep, which I can't claim. At least Dad is showing signs of life today though far from bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Alas, as I was typing the RN entered to announce his being taken for an endoscopy, a surprise that wasn't welcome. They'll be yanking the NJ tube out to do that so that horror will be repeated

And then that just got canceled just as the cart arrived for him.

It's enough to cause whiplash, though I don't think it would stand up in court.

We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out. Seventy years of robust health and then all of this happening is still disorienting after half a year.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Never a Dull Moment

Dashing this off in a hurry before attempting to get some sleep. Dad is being held overnight for observation at the hospital with a good chance of being discharged in the morning. He has pneumonia more serious than the mild case from before and maybe a bleeding ulcer. Still waiting to hear more about what caused the vomiting and whether it was blood or not.

Coughing and phlegm issues began to bother Dad yesterday, which I noticed. What went unnoticed is his drinking soured milk that had actually curdled. Apparently his taste buds couldn’t detect it.

When I arrived home from church today, he was suffering hiccups like under the chemotherapy treatments. This was a rude surprise since they had vanished around a week ago. Vomiting followed and so did a mild fever. Calling in and speaking to one of the doctors involved, the decision was made to bring him in.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Knowing Is Better than Not Knowing

Time for an update on what is going on with my father’s battle with cancer. With the last chemotherapy infusion cancelled at his request, the hope had been that it would accelerate the schedule for surgery to do something about in improperly functioning stomach. That hope has been dashed as of today.

Results from the barium study indicate that there no longer is an obstruction of the exit from the stomach. However, the flow is still not much and it appears that nerve damage has been caused by the RCHOP regime. The upshot of this is that Dad will probably never eat food again.

A longshot attempt to increase motility in his system will be tried for a week by increasing Regulin, a drug he was already on for side effects. When that fails, a permanent feeding tube will have to be surgically implanted into his small intestine. More information will be provided by the PET scan next week and decisions will have to be made afterword.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blog Comment Spam Researched

Over at Imperva, an online security firm, they have put up a fascinating Acrobat document showing how spam comments are made with automated tools. It is well worth reading for anyone who runs a blog and wonders how or why all the fake comments with links flood in.

Of course it mostly boils down to trying to elevate rankings of websites in Google’s search engine, surprise, surprise. Particularly interesting is the small percentage of sources responsible for most of the spam. I have no doubt automated tools like the ones shown in the report are used to generate fake referrals as well.

One of the things I’ve wondered about is how the text is composed for the comments and figured they just rotated prefabricated scripts. It turns out it is more complicated than that, using software to generate topically correct comments to get past filters or Google’s spam detection.

Most of the comment spam aimed at this blog isn’t that sophisticated, however. Usually it is blatant attempts to sell drugs, sex, and shoes. What, you were expecting rock and roll? Yeah, it is disappointingly unoriginal.

Ironic that I’d run into this just after marveling how an article at Wired was over run by comment spam. You’d think a big website would have their act together, but that clearly wasn’t the case. Anyway, thought this would be of interest and I hope they keep the report up for posterity.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chatty Spam

A wave of referral spam recently hit my Blogger stats that looked like it might be real referrals, but as you have probably guessed from the title, it was spam again. The culprits are from freenode . net in two incarnations and I’ll be showing where the links lead to. Also included is some bonus spam involving the sex trade, travel, and an error message.

Remember to never click on suspicious links and leave that to those of us crazy enough to do so! You could end up with all sorts of nasty stuff on your computer.

Miller vs. Hagedorn: Round 2

Things have once again gotten out of control on the GOP side in the run up to the 2014 elections. A primary to decide who the candidate is to be after an endorsement fails to unite the activists brings back unpleasant memories. Think of this as the return of the Brian Davis strife from 2008, but with the potential to get uglier.

What I’m about to write will make some enemies (if anyone actually bothers to read this post), but some harsh truths need to be said even if it appears to give the Democrats ammo. It doesn’t, they already have more than enough thanks to ham fisted politicking already under way.

Over the past decade, the Republicans of Congressional District 1 in Minnesota have indulged in circular firing squads and tribalism to the point where sitting Democratic Congressman Tim Walz has become all but unbeatable. A large part of it has been the result of an influx of Ron Paul supporters into the caucus system exacerbated by the purging of too many old hands who understood how to fund raise and campaign. Paul supporters for the most part aren’t willing to do the work required to elect candidates once things go to the general election and that continues to astound me.

Why? Because of all the work and effort they put into getting said candidates endorsed and taking over of party leadership positions. They are really good at that, then pretty much vanish into the ether other than doing an occasional phone bank. There seems to be a fundamental disconnect from the reality of politics reminiscent of the underpants gnomes from South Park:

  1. Collect endorsements and BPOU leaderships
  2. ?
  3. Victory!

So what does this have to do with Jim Hagedorn reentering the race to contest endorsed candidate Aaron Miller in the primary?

Monday, June 09, 2014

Still a Long Road to Travel

It’s a Monday and I’m dead tired as usual. Things have moved ahead of schedule in regards to my father’s cancer treatment. His last chemotherapy session was canceled last Thursday so he is done after five rounds of the misery. Now we are waiting on the GI specialists so that something can be done about his nonfunctional stomach.

In fact, that’s why we asked to have the last round of chemo canceled. Dad has hit the wall in putting up with not being able to eat, spending half his life hooked up to the feeding machine, and choking constantly on phlegm or reflux. Getting stronger for whichever surgery is decided on is a must and he’s lost too much ground already.

Now he has a chance to recover, if he’d stop over exerting himself. It takes next to nothing to do so, yet he gets delusions of being able to do things like mow grass with the push mower. Of course that results in him getting weaker and crankier, setting off another cycle of difficulty for him.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Godzilla 2014 In Theater Review

It is said that it is better late than never and I hope that applies to this review, not to mention the movie. If it weren’t for the local theater in the small town of Spring Grove, I wouldn’t have gotten to see the new Godzilla on the big screen at all. Happily I can report the film is good and worth of the name.

Showing influences from more than just the Godzilla franchise, the film contains elements borrowed from Rodan, Cloverfield, Battle Los Angeles, and even the abominable previous Hollywood attempt from 1998. Oh what a difference proper execution and intelligent usage of those concepts make!

Since I’m late to the party, I’ll start off be addressing some of the criticisms of the film. Might as well take the bull by the horns before extolling the virtues of the piece.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003) Review

A muddled mess of a Godzilla film that is a direct sequel to 2002’s much better Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla this is probably the worst of the Millennium series. A weak script that links back to the original Mothra makes it more of little kids movie ala the 1970s entries. UPDATED with “HD” screen captures and Blu-ray details.

Godzilla Tokyo SOS HD Title

When I was a kid growing up, often there would be showings of Godzilla films on broadcast TV, usually Saturday night at 10:30 or in the afternoon. It dawned on me it might be fun to review some of the monster destroying cities films for the blog. So I chose Godzilla: Tokyo SOS as a guinea pig for this project.  I now regret that as I had to sit through the film twice like I do for every review.  Yes, you’ve been warned. Be afraid.

Godzilla Tokyo SOS F-15JGodzilla Tokyo SOS HD Mothra Intercepted

The movie starts out promisingly enough, with a sequence of code showing Mechagodzilla’s DNA based computers being tested segueing to Godzilla’s eye opening in the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Moments later a US Air Force base picks up a UFO flying at high Mach speeds towards Japan and notify the local authorities.  Two F-15J Eagles are scrambled to intercept the UFO which has slowed to Mach 2 and is disturbing the cloud layer in a fairly decent CGI sequence.  Warning shots are fired ahead of the object without it reacting.  However, the lead pilot hears singing women and ground control doesn’t believe him.

The giant moth called… well, Mothra, emerges and the two jet fighters engage her with missiles.  Suddenly, the supersonic insect emits a golden cloud of glitter which fools the missiles into missing.  Who knew the beloved Japanese monster had chaff dispensers?

A Week Gone By

Things have been hectic the past week, hence the lack of posts. My sister arrived late on Memorial Day and stayed through until Friday night. Between mowing the lawn and teleworking, she also got  some paperwork moving forward on getting some kind of financial assistance for Dad. Cancer racks up amazing bills even with Medicare insurance and then there was the horrific heating bill due from the very harsh winter.

We’d previously gotten things moving on the latter and some help will be coming via SEMCAC with the possibility of more from the state of Minnesota. Initial application for help to the local county social services has produced a denial letter and we’ll have to follow up on that since I’m not sure what all my sister applied for in Dad’s name.

A rare bit of socializing for me occurred on Friday, the first in months was made possible by her being able to watch him. My friends, the Kuglers, had me over for dinner and conversation for a welcome break. Fun was had and I found myself very tired once I arrived home.

Things being the way they are, that socializing came at a penalty.