Carl Sagan is one of the people I've most admired in my life. The Cosmos series helped instill in me, and so many others, an appreciation for the wonders of science, and an understanding of science as a method for approaching Nature, rather than what schools too often beat down to a list of approved answers to be repeated. Sagan eventually developed a blood cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome, for which he received blood stem cell transplants. In 'Billions and Billions', he muses in one of the essays about how receiving a stem cell transplant from his sister means that for his life afterward, part of his body would be from hers, and genetically female. I now share this life step with him.

If, for some pointless reason, you went back to the earliest entries of this blog, you'd find a few made from the 8th floor BMT unit at LDS Hospital in Utah. That was about six years ago, and in many ways my life since has been focused on not coming back here. But here I am.

In 2008 I was here for relapsed Hodgkins lymphoma, a disease where the first-line standard treatment is usually effective enough, meaning relatively less research was put into second-line treatments. The medically standard next step after a relapse was autologous stem cell transplant (if your own bone marrow is still clear of the disease) or allogeneic stem cell transplant (if you're marrow's not clear or if you've already had an auto). I was here for an auto, and typed some things into this blog.

My Hodgkins is refractory, it doesn't ever go away forever. When I relapsed a year later, the next-line standard treatment was an allogeneic transplant, but I looked at the life survival numbers they had and decided no way. Through my oncologist and clinicaltrials.gov, and with help from my mom who's skilled at researching things, I found some clinical trials for current cutting edge drugs for Hodgkins, and got into one for what's now called Brintuximab (always be SGN35 to me).

That set up a life pattern for the following years. Always a salvage treatment or a clinical trial to try to contain the cancer, maintainig a relatively normal life for many years throug various chemos and some radiation. That lasted until December 2013. My oncologist and I had put one chemo to an end because the last scan showed only mixed results, some shrink some growth. We'd figured to try another chemo for containment, or look what was on the clinical trial horizon, but there was a problem that my blood numbers were falling even without the chemo. I had a bone marrow biopsy and on the 9th they called me with an alarming new development: Leukemia.

Leukemia changes the situation tremendously. Hodgkins I know, I can deal with in various ways (including a few nutritional/herbal things I've come to trust --my standard is if someone with actual medical credentials is researching it somewhere, and I've also had reliable results from Chinese nutritional and herbal medicines). Even if I gave up and did nothing about Hodgkins, it would probably take a year and a half to actually kill me. Leukemia will kill in weeks, or a couple months at most. Now the allogeneic transplant I'd been avoiding seemed the likeliest option.

It turns out I'd made the right choice in avoiding the allo transplant five years ago (and the team leaders here had been subtly encouraging me to avoid it). In recent years, they've developed a new standard of donor transplant using haplo donors --relatives exactly half-matched. Hodgkin's patients do worse than other cancer patients at allogeneic transplants, but haplo transplant seems to be giving Hodgkins history patients good odds. It's still very new, so there aren't long-term results to compare. But the horizon looks hopeful.

It's been a difficult process. I was checked in days after diagnosis, started standard Leukemia induction treatment the 16th of December. After that the expectation was watch the blood numbers and plan for the transplant treatment. It took them awhile to decide exactly how to treat (Hodgkins and Leukemia together make a rare and challenging combination), then to get my health provider to approve. I'm now Day 7 post haplo, and the worst is over for now. I've been in the hospital far too long and hopefully can be out in a couple weeks.



..an exercise, I'll just leave this here..

People who work for a living should earn a living.

If a company cannot afford to pay production- and service-layer employees enough to meet their needs for housing, food, medicine, and still enjoy leisure and prosperity, how can that company afford to pay its managers even higher salaries and benefits? How can it afford to pay its executives salaries and bonuses? How can it afford to pay its investors dividends?

If the claim is that managers and executives are much more critical to the company's success than production and service workers, then that is an argument for centralized, top-down command decision-making in an economic structure.

If the claim is that investors' right to growth is more important than workers' right to a living, then that is an argument for the right of a minority (investors) to live in ease off the hard work of a majority (workers).



Weapons are used, knowingly, to compel a change in states of mind and courses of action.

Too much martial arts class brooding, and a nod to one of science fiction's modern greats.
A Personal Statement From Iain Banks



What Arises also Ceases.
Species is a temporary local phenomenon.
Local and temporary, spacetime itself
may be emergent and conditional.
What then are your nations and your laws?
Rejoice that empires fall, but then take no shelter in them.
We must communally build system and structure
to enable our greater liberty,
but not idly let what is built become entrenched and enshrined,
a power over our liberty.
Polis, community, harmonic structure
are continually examined and rebuilt,
and continually examined and torn down.
To Alter or Abolish



The future might be like Star Trek after all.

Actually if you read the thing, "more feasible" means instead of needing a large planet's worth of hypothetical exotic matter they've never detected, they'd only need 30kg. And "working on building one" means trying to detect the hypothetical phenomenon on extremely small scales.

I'd mostly written off FTL, but hey if they think it's worth a shot, go for it. Solving the "infinite energy to accellerate to c" thing doesn't solve the time paradox thing where FTL would allow information to be sent to the past. Let's-try-it-and-see-if-causality-itself-breaks might be a most recklessly awesome future experiment.

Of course, FTL is one of the things that might make the aliens step in and say, "okay, NOW you people might be a problem."
klaatu barrada nikto



I think a more serious issue is, if Chick-Fil-A employees wanted to donate to political issues (on any side of any issue), it would take many thousands of them seriously tightening their belts to just barely match the influence their big boss can donate as a trivial gesture with no impact on his living. His wealth is only possible because of them, but his voice makes theirs irrelevant.

If you're gonna buy mall fast food, go to Hot Dog On A Stick which is owned by its employees.



Stumbling bleary half conscience-ness.
I am just aware enough to sense I haven't really Woken Up.
The words "still a good person" sound like hollow excuses.

Aren't I too not-Catholic for Catholic guilt?
The word "catholic" is said to mean "universal."



I don't get why so many people (most of the crowd) go to rock or metal shows and just stand so still. Like drinking Pabst in a dive bar makes them too cool for this shit. If you wanted to just stare at something while loud music played in the background, you could have watched the band on Youtube. It's not a requirement to mosh or bang your head as fast and hard as possible, but still..

Metal is ecstatic music. It creates a sustained unusual emotional state and holds it for the length of a riff, a song, an album, a show. You let the music tell you how to move and what to feel.

I left my usual atheistic coffee and beer friends (alas, not many metalheads) last Thursday (Jun20) to hear Subrosa perform as part of Crucial Fest, a mostly-locals many-genre many-venue music showcase put together by Exigent records. I've forgotten how Subrosa first got my attention, around the time "No Help For the Mighty Ones" came out, but I'd been waiting for a chance to see them perform live. It's cool seeing a Salt Lake band get acclaim from metal reviewers across the world, even if they don't become a huge act.

Unfortunately Subrosa had at least three mics fail on them, but they let the violins and bass do most of the talking. Also performing were Reality, Salt Lakers whose set I just missed; Lord Dying, Portlanders with Salt Lake ties; and Witch Mountain, also Portlanders. It was a night of thunderous doomy music. I managed --in my usual social ineptness-- not to have any real talky-speech with the singer of Witch Mountain when I bought her CDs, but I really liked her bluesy rock singing style.

I think there's something to be said for coming from a subculture that happily takes symbols of darkness, fear, and evil and makes them into symbols of personal empowerment. It can prepare you to let go of other easy "good guy" and "bad guy" labels fed through the system. Of course not every metalhead becomes a free-questioning political independent, but if half your favorite bands have inverted pentagrams and bloody knives on their album covers, you're less likely to take society's presumed Moral Guardians seriously when they label an idea or a person "evil," and it might prepare you not to take them seriously when they label an idea or a person "foreign," "dangerous," "socialist," or "terrorist." At least I like to think music of rebellion helps one be more free-roving in the ideological landscape, better able to share the same ideas with different symbols and metaphors.



Alan Moore- Meet the Man Behind the Protest Mask

I think it's kind of interesting that Guy Fawkes had been a figure of ridicule in British culture, and also an icon for anti-Catholic sentiment because the real Guy had been for Papal control. Alan Moore is British, knew that, and deliberately chose to invert it for his revolutionary antihero.

In spite of some comic book silliness and 70s-80s Cold War post-apocalypse silliness, the printed V for Vendetta holds up well. The movie was pretty good but had problems where it deliberately stepped back from the comic book's vision. Notably that in the movie the nationalist leader is killed in secret by V. In the book, he's assassinated publicly by an ordinary woman whose life had been ripped up by happenstance in the machinery of State. Also the movie tacks on a romantic love angle to V's relationship to Evey, both unnecessary and seriously detracting from the theme and character.

Mostly, it's that the movie dumbs the message down to social liberal versus conservative (which many of America's Bush-era rightist pundits were coherent enough to notice and get mad about.) In the book, it's very stark, anarchism versus fascism. The neat thing is that Moore lets fascism have every possible advantage. Anything that might make an ordinary person say "of course it's bad, but under these conditions for these reasons it might be necessary," Moore grants them and then says it's still wrong. Moore's postapocalyptic Britain is starved, battered, and one of the only surviving societies after nuclear (and possibly biological) exchange. His fascist leader isn't looking for personal gain but really believes in strength and unity as the greater good. The leader is assisted by a superhuman intelligent computer to make decisions. There are invaders on the outside and plagues within. And the alternative is V who is not kind but brutal, destructive, insane. "Because I love you, because I want you to be free" is a truly chilling line (as much as the better-known Moore line from a later project, "I did it thirty-five minutes ago.")

For this tonal omission, both the delightful early dialogue between V and the statue of Lady Justice ("you always did have an eye for a man in uniform") and the later speech about Authority and the fear of Chaos are cut. The point in the film where it actually uses the word, a robber shouting "anarchy in the UK", is the very point where the book V teaches "this is not anarchy, this is chaos." Movie audiences never heard "anarchy is the absence of leaders, not the absence of order."

I saw it written on a forum, and I fully agree, when watching the movie, the point toward the end where V tips over the domino assembly is where you should stop playback or skip to the end credits (maybe watch the explosions on the way.)
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