November 4th, 2012

a-links

[links] Link salad has no fear for atomic energy, 'cause none of them can stop the time

The Ghastlycrud Zombies — An interesting and entertaining Kickstarter. (Pointed out by [info]rekre8.)

Egyptian princess' tomb dating from 2500 BC is discovered near Cairo — Cool.

Old Media, Digitized, Make New FormsComputers are changing art in unexpected ways.

Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction — This is wild. Very SFnal. (Via [info]threeoutside.)

Lenticular Clouds Over Washington — I have seen this, in roughly the location photographed. They are mighty strange.

A Convenient Excuse — On the real meaning of climate change, and the complete failure of American media and political culture to come to terms with that.

It's Time for the Poor to Come Out of the Plutocracy's Closet of Shame — As I've said before, Calvinism is a deep stain on the American soul. From that cesspool of belief rises up our deep social judgments against the poor and the needy, who we tend to believe must somehow deserve their lot as it is evidence of moral failing or lack of sufficient hard work. No one works harder than the poor, but you will find vanishingly few wealthy or middle class who are willing to understand this. To put it in reverse, we have a deep seated cultural belief that if you are thrifty and hard working and virtuous, you will prosper. The more politically and socially conservative you are, the more likely you are to see this as a basic truth. Logically enough, if you do believe that, it's easy to see people who have not prospered as insufficiently thrifty and hard working and virtuous. This is a nasty, vicious cycle of thought so deeply engrained in our social assumptions that almost none of us ever see it for what it is — a pleasant, self-valorizing middle class fantasy that justifies our individual wealth and privilege while relieving us of any responsibility for the infrastructure or class issues faced by others. This is the thinking that allows otherwise sane, moral conservatives to speak with a straight face about "eliminating a culture of dependency" when they propose to put millions of people out of healthcare, eliminate early childhood programs, cut nutrition benefits, or deny people public assistance of any form — starving the poor, the elderly and the children of America for the sake of tax cuts for the virtuous high-earning. Conservatives simply refuse to see the toxic implications of their own beliefs.

The Insane Defense of the “Castle Doctrine” Gone WildA tragic killing in Montana proves once again that these laws do more to encourage violence than to prevent it. Thank God for the NRA or the GOP, or this poor man might have been prosecuted for running home, getting a gun, then waiting to shoot his lover's husband dead. Man, I love the American right to defense of essential liberties through widespread private gun ownership. That almost 200 30 people a day die from gun violence is a very small price for you to pay for your right to own a firearm, am I right? 200 30 people who mostly wouldn't die if guns weren't so freely available. Small price to pay, all those human lives snuffed out every single day so you can feel good. God Bless America. Personally, I think an email listing the names of every American killed each day and a short biography including their age and the names of their family members should be sent daily to every gun owner in America, and that as a condition of gun ownership every gun owner in America should be required to acknowledge that they approve that message. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

IRS Not Enforcing Rules on Churches and Politics — Ywp, Obama's definitely suppressing the Christian Right. Yeppers. Nothing to see here, citizen, you may continue to panic about Kenyan Muslim socialism as normal.

Dark Money By The Numbers: 81% Has Gone To Republicans — When you can't win on ideas, or the merits of your own party's governing history, buy buy buy.

Last-Minute Ohio Directive Could Trash Legal Votes And Swing The Election — By amazing coincidence, the directive was issued by a Republican. By further amazing coincidence, the directive benefits Republican electoral interests and suppresses likely Democratic votes. This is what happens when conservatives can't win an election on their party's record or its ideas. They lie, cheat and steal; and suppress votes. More of that justly famed conservative principled consistency in action.

Southern Nevada woman is arrested on suspicion of trying to vote twice — Oh, look. More voter fraud. By a Republican again. Quick, suppress more poor people's votes!

GOP candidate: ‘My opponent believes in global warming and has been to other countries, he is basically a monster’ — A classic example of everything that's wrong with the modern Republican party and the conservative movement, in their own words. That a message like that appeals to even a single voter, let alone an entire state, is a very depressing statement on my fellow citizens. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Mitt Romney’s campaign insults votersMr. Romney, by contrast, seems to be betting that voters have no memories, poor arithmetic skills and a general inability to look behind the curtain. By definition, any of these things are true of anyone who votes Republican these days. No memory of the Bush administration's incompetence in foreign policy, domestic affairs and the economy; no comprehension of the math of what happened to the budget, the deficit and the jobs numbers under Bush; and a general inability to look either behind or in front of the curtain of Romney's rhetoric. After all, the GOP isn't even pretending not to lie anymore, and Romney still has nearly half the country behind him. Romney's bet may well be the winning strategy.

?otD: How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?




11/4/2012
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Body movement: 0.5 hour stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 9.25 hours (solid)
Weight: 222.4
Currently reading: Cetaganda by Lois McMaster Bujold

cancer-skull_tattoo

[cancer] There's acceptance; then there's whatever the hell this is that I do

tl;dr summary: cancer sucks and I hate it

This morning I am reluctantly admitting I'd probably better not go see Cloud Atlasimdb ] in the theater today. Which is basically admitting I won't see it in the theater at all. Pretty much by definition, today is the best day I'll have until about next May or June, with the possible exception of a few days in January during the chemo break and right before my next liver surgery. In other words, it's not like I'll be more up to the movie later on.

This observation about today being my best day is true of every off-chemo Sunday. The intensity of many side effects, most specifically the crushing fatigue, is cumulative with each chemo session. Sunday after chemo, when I have slept freely and long, and not gotten up to deal with work at 6 am as I do on weekdays, is my best day in each cycle. And each cycle leaves me another layer embedded in the fatigue and the myriad other problems.

I was already having serious doubts about the movie based on concerns about my ability to tolerate the nearly three-hour run time. Counting previews, etc., Cloud Atlas is close to three and a quarter hours in the theater seat. Sitting up for extended periods without any lie-down break whatsoever is hard for me, due to fatigue and persistent GI issues. (The only thing that keeps me at work all the way through chemo is that I work from home, so I can take phone meetings and short breaks stretched out in my recliner.) Sitting in the dark tends to put me to sleep even when I am healthy; with the chemo fatigue layered over it, I really wonder how I'll last that long.

However, yesterday's lunch really capped it off. As mentioned here on the blog [ jlake.com | LiveJournal ], the family had our November babies birthday party at Benihana. That's pretty much the opposite side of the Portland area from Nuevo Rancho Lake, and is a 30+ minute drive even when traffic is nominal. I rode over in the backseat of my (step)Mom's car, heavily veiled from the sunlight and mostly trying to rest quietly. About ten or fifteen minutes into the trip, I began experiencing severe and very painful cramping in my lower GI. I spent the last fifteen or twenty minutes of the drive holding my guts in and breathing shallowly, praying I wouldn't shit myself and my Mom's car on the way to the party.

This went on all through lunch, with me making a painful and lengthy break to the bathroom every fifteen or twenty minutes for the better part of two hours. Things settled down in the last half hour or so, and I was able to make the ride home without significant further distress. As I said at the time, I was amazed that the restaurant didn't call the cops and tell them I was selling dope in the bathroom or something.

This episode wasn't a part of the regular cycle of chemo side effects, which I understand pretty well and have documented extensively on this blog. It was just random GI weirdness, of the sort that I experience on chemo at intermittent moments. The point is, this was random. Unpredictable. As many of the chemo effects can be.

I spent the rest of the day considering what kind of experience I'd have watching Cloud Atlas if the cramps came back while I was at the theater for over three hours. Yesterday was so awful that my desire not to go through that again anywhere away from my own home is overwhelmingly powerful. (Obviously, my desire not to go through that again at home isn't any less powerful but too bad for me. Assuming I'd like to live a few more years, I have to put up with these horrid lower GI cramps, just like all the other indignities of cancer and its treatments.)

And so cancer takes something else away from me. The ability to go out and enjoy an interesting movie with friends. As it takes so much else away from me.

I hate this with a torrid, pointless passion.

Many people have commented on this hatred of mine for the process. Some in loving critique, some in downright criticism, some in gentle despair for me. To my perception, almost no one in my circle of family and friends and loved ones endorses or supports my strong negative emotional reactions to my treatments. Over these past four and half years, I've heard a lot about acceptance, about not fighting the process, about letting the treatments take their course.

Acceptance? Fuck that noise.

Objecting strenuously and cultivating profound anger is how I survive.

There's a deep level at which I accept this. I am not in denial, I am not avoidant, I pursue a clear-eyed understanding of a disease the course of which can only be described statistically until after the fact, when it will probably be too late for me personally to know the difference. I consent to treatment, as informed as possible about the side effects, likely outcomes and disease progression. I am diligent about my medications and procedures, about my medical appointments and follow-ups. I embrace the logistics and necessities of being a cancer patient, because I must.

If I did not, I would have been dead in May of 2008. If I did not, I would have been dead again in early 2010. If I did not, I would have been dead again this last spring. If I did not, I would be dying now, probably breathing my last next spring.

I am not stupid. I want to live, however short and wretched the rest of my life is likely to be. [info]the_child needs me, even broken and failing. My family and friends and loved ones need me. I need me. It's not like I get a second chance, later.

So if that's acceptance, I accept this disease and its requirements.

But I reject what it does to my life. How it bends the simplest things — a family lunch, or a trip to the movies with friends — all out of recognition. How it restricts everything I do. I reject this with an anger and a passion that even I with my facile power of the written word may not ever be able to fully describe.

That anger and passion drives me forward. That rejection motivates me to get up and do something every single day that it's possible for me to do anything. I am no more capable of being a wan and smiling patient dying gently of Interesting Soap Opera Disease while quietly inspiring those around me to be thankful for their lives and health than I am capable of flapping my arms and flying to the Moon.

This is not fucking Hallmark Movie of the Week. This is not a very special episode of Blossom. This is cancer, and it's eating my life.

So acceptance? Like I said, fuck that noise. I'll spit in cancer's eye until my mouth runs dry. I'll bitch and rage and hate until I can't croak the words or string together the thoughts. Cancer will probably get me in the end — that likelihood approaches closer to certainty with each recurrence — but it won't get me easily or quickly or willingly.

Because if I accept this thing, then it has already won. I will die fighting, or live to tell the tale. That's how I get up and go on every day. Pure, mean-spirited rage.

In the mean time, though, I still don't get to go to the movies. That makes me sad.