April 11th, 2013


[links] Link salad wakes up in Austin having eaten chicken fried steak the night before

50 Absolutely Stunning 3D Street Art (Paintings) — Wow. (Via [info]shelly_rae.)

"Sorry" doesn't change it Noise and Signal on what death means to the survivors. She's talking about suicide here, but a lot of this applies to my own life as well.

New Film Examines if Internet Addiction Led to a Baby’s Death by Neglect — Sigh. (Via David Goldman.)

Brit challenges downtown Portland's Mill Ends Park title of 'world's smallest city park' — Hah! (Via [info]mlerules.)

See-through brains clarify connectionsTechnique to make tissue transparent offers three-dimensional view of neural networks.

Dinosaur 'embryo bonebed' yields delights for researchers

Lost in the Supermarket — This will make you think about what you eat.

When it comes to vaccination, bad news is contagiousAnd on Twitter, good information apparently does not bear repeating. A sad reminder that the American Right does not hold a monopoly on willful ignorance and anti-science idiocy.

Noah’s Flood is proof that climate change isn’t man-made, says GOP — I can't possibly comment on this one. It's too mind boggling as it stands.

Climate Change: The Moral ChoicesThe effects of global warming will persist for hundreds of years. What are our responsibilities and duties today to help safeguard the distant future? That is the question ethicists are now asking. Good luck with trying to apply ethical thinking to a core conservative issue.

New Guidelines Call for Broad Changes in Science EducationEducators unveiled new guidelines on Tuesday that call for sweeping changes in the way science is taught in the United States — including, for the first time, a recommendation that climate change be taught as early as middle school. Well, that will send the wing nuts around the bend. Next thing you know, they'll be teaching evolution in biology class, and this country will be one of the pits of hell.

How The NRA Secretly Protects People Who Commit Crimes With GunsOver the past few decades, the NRA has tucked so-called “riders” into annual appropriations bills funding various government functions in order to avoid scrutiny in the regular legislative process. While the gun lobby is hardly the only special interest to employ this tactic, they have been enormously successful in undermining basic federal and local gun regulations through these riders. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down — Ah, more of those liberal "facts" and "data" from the reality-based community, a/k/a the real world. Good thing conservatives and the gun culture don't have to pay attention to this shit. (Via Marta Murvosh.)

Senator James Inhofe Suggests Newtown Families Can’t Think for Themselves"See, I think it's so unfair of the administration to hurt these families, to make them think this has something to do with them when, in fact, it doesn't," Inhofe explained. And if they believe it does, "that's because they've been told that by the president." What a festering pit of moral bankruptcy and intellectual dishonesty. Are you proud of your Republican party?

QotD?: What did you have for dinner?

Writing time yesterday: 5.0 hours (WRPA, editing work on Process of Writing and METAtroplis: Green Space)
Hours slept: 5.25 hours (fitful)
Body movement: 0.0 hours (raining outside, no exercise equipment where I am staying)
Weight: 0.0 (away from home)
Number of FEMA troops on my block enforcing Agenda 21 by closing down golf courses: 0
Currently reading: Hogfather by Terry Pratchett


[culture] The found poetry of spam

From last week's email:

Russian Emperor Alexander I, kept the water in army in buckets silver buckets,
so that his soldiers do not suffer from river or lake water.
After a little while, a nurse came in and asked Linda what she wanted.
Digestion is when a mineral with a stronger charge breaks up the current bond of the other mineral.


[cancer] A bit more on me and CEA levels

I was asked several times yesterday about how my current CEA levels compare to my historic levels. I think this question had two intents, depending on the asker. One intent was trying to understand my very gloomy assessment of this week's test results in my own historical context. The other intent was in reference to the fact that elevated CEA levels are not considered affirmatively diagnostic of metastatic colon cancer. While normally healthy adults have little to no measurable CEA level, there are causes other than cancer, including heavy smoking or various forms of bowel inflammation. I've never been a smoker in my life, but bowel inflammation is a regular feature of my lower GI tract.

Except in my case, without exception, I have always and only experienced elevated CEA levels when tumor activity was present. Specifically in my liver. See this chart of my lifetime CEA levels.

Jay Lake CEA Levels over Lifetime (annotated)
  1. Initial colon cancer presentation

  2. First metastatic presentation, a single-focus, single-site tumor in my left lung

  3. Second metastatic presentation, a single-focus, single-site tumor in my liver

  4. Third metastatic presentation, single-focus, multi-site tumors in my liver

  5. Fourth metastatic presentation, addition tumor in my liver while on pre-operative chemotherapy for third presentation

  6. Fifth metastatic presentation, multi-focus, multi-site tumors in my diaphragm and omentum

  7. Current state of elevated CEA levels, but no diagnostic medical imaging yet

When I first presented with my primary colon cancer in April of 2008, my CEA levels were 0.2 to 0.3. When I presented with the metastatic tumor in my left lung in April of 2009, my CEA levels were 0.7. But when I started presenting liver metastases, they shot up. Every time I've presented a liver metastasis, my CEA levels have been elevated. Right now they are higher than they were last summer when I had three metastatic tumors in my liver growing with a four-week doubling rate.

In other words, while checking my CEA levels can produce a false negative, i.e., low CEA levels while I have an active tumor, it has not ever produced a false positive, i.e., elevated CEA levels with no corresponding active tumor.

Hence my deep sense of dread now. Despite years of dealing with this, despite gaining a lot of ground with acceptance in my own begrudging way, despite knowing the implications of the January findings and being formally classed as incurable, this is still a horrifying shock.

I have a number of thoughts about treatment paths, lifestyle issues and mortality, but they're all essentially speculative until we do the CT on May 7th, and I see my oncologist again on May 8th. I'll probably share them here in the near future, with the caveat that I'm projecting from insufficient (but not inconclusive) data rather than reacting to a formal clinical diagnosis and treatment plan.