Thursday, November 30, 2006

Hi, I'm still here.

I was home for Thanksgiving, and Dad is getting pretty bad. I've thought about posting some extensive details, but it's pretty painful. My brother gets married on December 30, and we're really hoping Dad is around and ambulatory enough to make it, but there's no guarantee. In happier news, the numbers in the right-hand column continue apace, and I'm going to Tennessee this weekend for Trashmasters. It's mind-boggling to think that I was on the winning team for this tournament 12 years ago; my team is pretty experienced (I may actually be the chronological baby of the team) so maybe we can do well, but we've never all played together so it's hard to say how our knowledge will mesh or overlap. After Chattanooga, the finals cocoon will be in full swing, so posting may be scarce for a while. We'll see.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

If, like me, you are a fan of both NFL football and picayune legalistic minutiae, I strongly recommend reading through the archive of the Jerry Markbreit "Ask the Referee" column from the Chicago Tribune. (Thanks, Mike.) You can learn rules about a pass batted back to and caught by the quarterback (no second pass allowed), returning a short field goal attempt (you must catch the ball on the fly, you get the original spot if you take a knee in the end zone, etc.), and pass interference and a personal foul on the same play (both penalties enforced if and only if the same conduct led to both penalties--such as interferencing by committing a major facemask). And that's just this week!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I haven't updated any profiles that include an entry for "The 6 things I couldn't live without..." or somesuch in a long time, but if I did I would have to include--beyond my normal, smarmy "oxygen, water, etc."--the iPod. It is utterly indispensible for two situations, driving and the gym. Especially long-distance driving, since my 8-year-old car CD player can best be described as moody and sees scratches where there are no scratches. And especially the gyms at school here, in which the administration has decided that any form of music or TV would be too much of a distraction from the task at hand, staring at undergrad girls working out.

Unfortunately, the iPod now has a display that says, "Connect to your computer. Use iTunes to restore," in four different languages and in the old-fashioned Apple IIe-ish Chicago font. If I connect to my computer and use iTures to restore (or connectez a votre ordinateur, or Mit dem Computer verbinden, or something in unidentified Asian characters), I go through a whole rigamarole that works about half the time when iTunes decides to let it, and at the end I am once again instructed to connectez to my ordinateur. Not good.

So within the next 2 days I will have a package from the fine folks at Apple containing a package in which I am to ship them my iPod, which they will then apparently just replace, since iPods are entirely fungible. I'm hoping against hope that I will get said replacement before driving home for Thanksgiving on Wednesday, but I sincerely doubt it. I guess I can now look forward to a lovely couple of weeks of humming while driving and exercising. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Monday, November 13, 2006

My Michigan and Proskauer colleague Ms. Chang sends along news of a legal verdict that could change how we look at the law, and also lunch. OK, mostly just lunch.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Interesting weekend coming up--jaunt around the Big Ten, as I'm headed to the Michigan-Indiana game in Bloomington on Saturday, and TRASH Regionals in Urbana-Champaign on Sunday. It's my first TRASH Regionals as a player after nine years as part of the organizing team and a year away, so I'm a bit nervous and am just hoping not to embarrass myself. I'm not too worried, though, since we've got this guy to do the heavy lifting, and this guy to do much of the other lifting.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

This makes me repeat a Life of Brian-esque, "We are all individuals..."
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Thanks, Kristan. All 5 of you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

This hit a little too close to home, even if it is my favorite web comic.

Through a strange perfect storm of birthdays, my brother and his fiance coming to visit, Halloween, and other reasons/excuses, I ended up going out drinking for six consecutive nights last week. I really need to not do that again. It was fun, and I wouldn't take it back. The downside, though, is that I'm now on the borderline this week, in Weight Watchers terms, between whether I'm having an "off week" or whether I'm taking the "week off." Ugh. Wednesday morning may not be pretty.

But then again hopefully by then we'll be back in the age of divided government. W00t!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Last Tuesday night I realized I'd had my phone off for hours, and it was midnight before I turned it on. One voice mail message. It was from mom, but no specifics, just that she'd call back tomorrow.


I knew what this was all about. Mom doesn't call on a weeknight out of the blue--we're in a regular "once a week on the weekend" pattern of phone calls, as we've been for years. I called first thing Wednesday morning, and it was pretty much what I expected.

I have only a weak layman's understanding of my dad's (or anyone's) bout with prostate cancer, but here's how I've been led to understand it. First you get prostate cancer, and that sucks and makes you incontinent and has all sorts of problems, but it doesn't kill you and it's slow-moving. If you can't get rid of the prostate cancer, it'll eventually spread, and the likely place for it to spread is the bone. Bone cancer is awful, but that's not what you have--you have prostate cancer that has spread to the bone, which is also awful but maybe not quite as awful as bone cancer per se. Now you're susceptible to a whole lot of pain from the out-of-control cells growing in your bones, and a whole lot more pain when those bones get weak and start breaking. But still, it doesn't kill you.

Unfortunately, the bone marrow provides a vehicle for the cancer to spread throughout the body and eventually work its way into the internal organs.

That kills you.

Last Monday, Dad had a CAT scan to see what was up with the prostate cancer of the bone. We've been in the "matter of time" stage for a long time now (and not just in the Keith Olbermann sense of "he's day-to-day, but aren't we all"), and the chemo and the morphine and the decreasing mobility have all been difficult steps. But the CAT scan results from Tuesday told us what we knew was coming but still didn't really want to know was coming. It's in the liver.


So why am I telling you, fair readers, all of this? Well, one is to get it off my chest. Two is to pay penance for the fact that I'm way happier than I should be under the circumstances, given what I've been doing for my own self. And it's not even a matter of denial, but rather a matter that we've been expecting this for so long that I've already learned how to anticipate the next steps in advance, I've already been sad about the whole process including what hasn't happened yet, and I've already made peace with it as best that I can. I've gone through the Kubler-Ross steps in advance, I think.

Three is not to elicit pity or sympathy or anything like that--please don't tell me you're sorry, because as Demetri Martin has pointed out, a funeral is the only time that saying "I'm sorry" and "I apologize" are different. And we're not there yet.

Three actually reminds me of when I was seven years old and something happened that my little kid brain couldn't quite get around--the NFL players went on strike for 8 weeks. Somehow even then I understood how much TV controls sports. Even though my parents had the news on every night, and there's no bigger news in Pittsburgh every fall than the Steelers and the NFL, somehow I was afraid that we wouldn't notice when the strike ended. So every week when we got the Sunday paper, I would immediately look at the TV listings section. I did that because I wanted to see if the paper would have a (t) next to the Sunday NFL game listings. The (t), the footnote told me, meant "tentative" and my mom or Mr. Webster's explained to me what that meant. Somehow I thought that if the (t) wasn't there, there had to be football, because no document on Earth at that age seemed less likely to lie to me than the TV listings section of the Sunday Pittsburgh Press.

That's a rambly way of saying that number three is that any plans any of you happen to have with me over the coming weeks and months have a big-ol' (t) after them. And if that means that I end up canceling on you due to the (t), I apologize in advance.

And that's when you can be sorry.