September 24th, 2011


[links] Link salad is spreadable

Keffy Kehrli Talks About Gender on Writing Excuses

Vocabulary Lesson — Madeleine Robins is smart about word choice in fiction. For example, I refuse to use “ok” or “okay” in any setting where the United States through the late 19th century is not part of the background. Ie, never in secondary world fantasy, for example, or much alternate history. It absolutely throws me out of a story when a character in a fantasy uses that word.

The Children’s Authors Who Broke the Rules

When a Dictionary Could Outrage — Ah, prescriptivism.

USB Typewriters — This is made of awesome. Brazil, anyone? (Snurched from @neilhimself.)

Yesterday’s xkcd on the CERN speed of light thing — I love his mouseover.

Colbert Super Mac — Now this is the screaming hamburger of death.

The Politics of Yellow: Butter vs. Margarine

Loud Sex Is A Billion Dollar Problem

It’s not ‘class warfare,’ it’s ChristianityWe need to understand the so-called “Christian” underpinnings of the anti-tax, anti-government, anti-the-poor, “let him die” approach to economics and public policy today as completely un-Christian, as well as un-American. Good luck with that. Conservative America ain’t listening.

The Social Contract — Paul Krugman on class warfare. And tell me again why ordinary Republican voters are fighting so hard to protect the wealth of the top 1%?

‘The last thing I’d do is condemn youSlacktivist Fred Clark on the empathy of Pat Robertson. Which is, admittedly, a bit like writing about Palin’s spirit of public service or Bush’s keen intellect.

Becky Fischer of ‘Jesus Camp’ Infamy Teaches Kids To ‘Raise The Dead’ — Disgusting. One of the many reasons I’m an atheist is Christians like this woman, and Pat Robertson.

The Power of Flat Out LiesBut generally speaking, [liberal] opinion leaders don’t go on national TV, look straight into the camera, and just outright lie about stuff. [Conservatives] do. Welcome to FOX News America, where the “true facts” come out despite reality. (Snurched from @lilithsaintcrow.)

‘Unfortunate’: Condemnation Of Gay Soldier Boos In Post-Debate Spin Room — Why on earth are the GOP candidates surprised? This is the party voting base they and their strategists have sent years very deliberately creating and carefully nurturing. Hateful, exclusionary, paranoid, irrational. And very specificially, deeply anti-gay. Read your own platforms, guys. Gay hate is right out front.

?otD: Butter, margarine or olive oil?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (cancer stress/post-novel ennui)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.25 hours (solid)
Weight: 222.4
Currently reading: Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

Originally published at You can comment here or there.


[cancer] And yet another potential problem rears its ugly head

Yesterday I got my CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) results from Thursday’s bloodwork. They are 1.9 ng/mL (on a scale of roughly 0-10). A month ago, at my first post-op assessment, they were 0.5. That’s a quadrupling of the value in four weeks. CEAs are a protein marker that can indicate the presence of active tumors given my kind of cancer.

The level itself is not too alarming in principle, as anything below 3.1 is considered within normal range. There are non-cancer processes, including inflammatory bowel problems, that can produce measurable CEA levels. The trend, however, concerns me a great deal. And historically, my personal non-cancer baseline values are down around 0.2 or 0.3, so even in an absolute sense these numbers are a potential issue despite the clinical guidance.

Here are some graphics that may help visualize this.


This one shows the trend line since my pre-op blood test in July. You can see the recent uptick. The pink line at the top of the chart was superimposed by me to show the 3.1 cutoff.


This graphic shows the trend line since last November. You can see the appearance of the tumor, the drop-off once chemo starts, the drop-off from surgery. I’ve annotated it in orange to show some of those points, and again included the pink reference line for the 3.1 cutoff.

One potentially benign explanation is measurement error and/or normal fluctuation, which I find unlikely given a swing of 1.4 points on a 10 point scale. Another potentially benign explanation is a CEA spike based on my recent lower GI problems. That’s a bit more likely, though I’m unsure of the mechanism. However, given my history, you can imagine my mental and emotional state right now.

My oncologist tells me that as my levels are still within normal ranges, she is not concerned. We’re going to wait until November for the next planned CT scan. I am not especially reassured as (a) I can read a trend line and (b) the current values are high compared to my historical values, regardless of the clinical cutoff for normal range. Obviously the next couple of blood tests will tell us a lot.

In any case, even if this entire business is a false alarm, this is just another reminder of my essential helplessness in the face of this disease. Coming hard on the heels of recent events, I’ve been taking this one pretty tough.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.


[personal|writing] Getting back on the horse

It’s been a rough week. Began with the horrendous lower GI problems. That segued into difficult therapist conversations. Then the immune system crash and the postponed chemotherapy session. The the CEA levels thing. Really, I feel like cancer has been banging my skull against pavement all week, trying to shake the loose change out of my ears.

I’m out of pennies, dude. And parasites that kill their hosts are not evolutionarily successful.

In the middle of all this I got Kalimpura finished, but since then, a combination of post-novel ennui and cancer stress has kept me away from the keyboard. Today my plan is to work on one or more of a list of smaller projects I have committed to. In no particular order, these are:

  • Transmit Kalimpura to my editor for formal turn-in
  • Respond to an email interview
  • Draft a script on metastasis for a science podcast
  • Participate in a podcast interview
  • Revise and submit a short story currently in draft
  • Write a committed short story I haven’t yet been able to focus on
  • Doing some editorial work on an anthology proposal
  • Make initial notes on a proposal/outline for a mooted collaborative novel project with urban fantasy author J.A. Pitts

Besides all that, I have some Sunspin feedback to review, I want to start working on collating my last 3.5 years of cancer blogging into a book proposal, and I have a difficult blog post to draft on cancer, coping and terminal diagnoses. (No, that’s not code for something bad I haven’t admitted to yet. Don’t worry.)

Not that all or even most of this will happen today. It’s just the landscape immediately before me, at least pending feedback from la agente on Calamity of So Long a Life and what we need to do to finalize that book to market.

Also, if you’re expecting something from me and don’t recognize your project/commitment/whatever on the above list, this might be a terrific time to write and remind me. My attention to detail isn’t quite what it could be these days, thanks to chemo brain, and I expect to completely run out of capability and attention span sometime in the next 3-5 weeks as my chemo fog deepens.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.