Under The (Ray) Gun

I continued to lie absolutely still as the techs left the radiation room and the turret began to slowly turn. It makes just enough electronic noise to be scary in a SciFi kind of way.

My radiation therapy has begun. Five days a week for six weeks I’ll lie on a flat metal table as technicians shoot x-rays through my body.

Today was my fourth trip to the facility, but only my second treatment. It a complex procedure which begins by finding a position I’ll be able to duplicate and stay motionless in day-after-day.

Lasers shot lines across my body, then targets were affixed to my midsection. It’s important to return to the same spots every day. Soon the targets will be replaced by tattooed dots.

I’ve been given an ID card to check myself in. No need to announce my presence. First stop is the dressing room where I trade my shirt for a hospital gown.

I hadn’t even gotten that far today when there was a knock on the door.

“We’re ready whenever you are,” said the voice on the other side.

Holy crap. I was about to be seen early! That’s never happened before.

My session took around 20 minutes. They had trouble finding my exact spot (verified by matching CT scans) until a thin towel under my tail bone was moved a few inches lower to the small of my back.

I continued to lie absolutely still as the techs left the radiation room and the turret began to slowly turn. It makes just enough electronic noise to be scary in a SciFi kind of way.

Five minutes later we were done.

Total time door-to-door under an hour. This is more treatment I can deal with.

What I Learned About Networking While Reworking My Network

WiFi is slower than hard wired. This is ALWAYS true. If and when you can, hard wire. Everything in my studio is connected by Ethernet cables. Only my phone and tablets are wireless.

This weekend marked a transformation in the studio and throughout my home. I’ve ditched my “s-l-o-w” 35/350 Mbps Internet service from Cox and traded up to “Gigapower,” AT&T’s 1,000/1,000 Mbps offering.

This afternoon I uploaded a 2:30 HD video clip to Nebraska in under 30 seconds!

Speed equals time. Time is my most valuable commodity.

Speed Test on AT&T Gigapower

My first concern after ordering the service was can my current infrastructure handle it. 1 Gbps is a recent addition to the possible.

A quick check found two switches that handled up to 100 Mbps. Hey, whaddaya think this is, 2015? A dumb switch is a commodity device. It works or it doesn’t. I bought two new ones by price.

WiFi doesn’t make it from the garage/studio to the family room or master bedroom above it. There’s an extra AP (access point) in the family room. Our 2013 home already had cabling in the wall to tie all this together. Welcome to the new world.

That AP too was a generation behind. What’s one more device to upgrade? I put a new 300 Mbps WiFi AP behind a cabinet.

The speed in the family room won’t be Gigabit, but it’s plenty fast for web surfing. Because of overhead processing web requests, getting data faster makes a smaller difference than you’d expect, especially when it’s already fast.

WiFi is slower than hard wired. This is ALWAYS true. If and when you can, hard wire. Everything in my studio is connected by Ethernet cables. Only my phone and tablets are wireless.

With this upgrade my intention was to try and leave my equipment’s IP addresses unchanged. It looked like the router built into my modem supported that. Looks can be deceiving.

AT&T has neutered this box. A bunch of things just don’t work and there’s no explanation, only the muffled screams of other nerds on web forums.

In the end I was forced to let the box’s DHCP server hand out IP addresses. To my surprise most of the network ‘relationships’ between my computers needed no touching. It just worked, even with the new addresses.

Some of the equipment, like my server, have to face out onto the Internet. That meant port forwarding and punching small holes in the firewall. It went pretty easily too.

My printers were a little tougher to wrangle. Their original IP addresses were hard coded in. I needed to uninstall then reinstall on six separate computers.

My Nebraska VOIP phone stopped working. I speak to our production coordinator every night. She is four digits away. Like the printers this was a hard coded IP problem.

One part of my switchover needed tight coordination. Weather maps for News Channel Nebraska are sent to my server from WSI in Massachusetts. If my system goes down their system grinds to a halt. My longtime buddy Don Morelli was on-the-case Sunday evening. Seamless!

There are twenty four devices on this LAN. A few boxes used as spares or only occasionally haven’t yet been powered up. A Mac and iPhone will be added the next time Stef visits.

The goal was to accomplish this on my off days with no impact or downtime. Mission accomplished!

Blood Draw Tuesday

I didn’t notice it at first but one of the boys and his mom were called to the back. Then shrieking and blood curdling screams, loud and often accompanied by tearful pleading. It was horrible, painful to hear. This kid did not want blood drawn.

Blood draw from my left arm.

Blood test today. Why? The oncologist wants it. That’s enough.

“Go to Quest,” he tells me every time. Fine. Quest it is. Wonder if he’s a stockholder?

The waiting room was crowded when I walked in. It was as if it had been cast. An Asian couple played with their six month old. A older woman (like my age) sat in a corner wearing a mask. There were separately two moms with sons.

I didn’t notice it at first but one of the boys and his mom were called to the back. Then shrieking and blood curdling screams, loud and often accompanied by tearful pleading. It was horrible, painful to hear. This kid did not want blood drawn.

A few minutes later he and mom exited. By this time the six month old was screaming at the top of her lungs. She didn’t know what hit her until it was too late.

It’s tough to take. The poor baby has no clue what’s going on except it hurts. The bigger kid knew what was going to happen and panicked.

I was that kid. Absolutely.

My turn now. I walked to the back past the currently quiet screaming kid, back in the lab and now with his mom in a side hallway.

I invited him to watch my draw and see it was no big deal. Uh huh. Right. I’m not Ward Cleaver.

The blood draw was very easy today, just three small vials. Once the needle’s in it doesn’t matter anyway. No pain. That was unexpected.

The kid was still pacing as I walked out. I feel bad he’s agitated. I feel bad a kid needs a blood test.

At 91 Everything’s Tough

I try and call my father every day. Most days, like today, it rings until it goes to the recorded announcement saying he never set up his voicemail. Dad neither hears the ring nor feels the vibration. No one has certified him, but he’s certifiably deaf.

Harold and Geoff on the couch in Mequon.

My sister and I know all too well what life is like for my father at ninety-one. It’s tough. Nothing is easy — nothing.

I try and call my father every day. Most days, like today, it rings until it goes to the recorded announcement saying he never set up his voicemail. Dad neither hears the ring nor feels the vibration. No one has certified him, but he’s certifiably deaf.

We speak only after he plugs a pair of earphones into his phone! Even then it’s iffy.

He and I didn’t speak yesterday. He couldn’t find his phone. It dropped and bounced under the sofa. It was barely hidden but might as well have been on Mars. The floor is out-of-reach.

A similar incident happened a few months back. He went to take something from the refrigerator and it slipped from his hands crashing to the floor. It stayed there until LaTonya returned Monday.

My dad tires quickly. Most phone conversations end when he says he’s out of steam just from talking.

It’s a tough life. His hands constantly quiver. He only has one eye. He watches TV with the volume off and the captions on.

He’s glad he’s alive!

Small things, like a phone call or email, mean a lot. Seeing his great-grandchildren sends him over the Moon. Happy. Elated. Proud. He’s waited a lifetime (and then some) for this payoff.

He’s got a bad chest cold at the moment. At 91 even a cold is serious. My sister and I huddled on the phone and made the recommendation to see the doctor. LaTonya will be taking him tomorrow.

He’s learned to adapt and cover his frailties. He also has a good support system, especially with LaTonya there nearly every day.

No matter how you slice it 91 is difficult.

Everyone’s Got A Cold But Me… So Far

It didn’t take long before he was exhausted. “I felt like I was going to die,” he said, though not meaning it literally. “Next time I’m going to get an electric cart.” I asked if he was capable of driving but his mind is already made.

Last weekend was spent in the vicinity of four little children, aka germ factories. This week my daughter, sister, one child, two grandchildren and our family patriarch are sneezing and feverish.

With a lifelong history of asthma it got so bad for Trudi she spent a night in the hospital. She was discharged early when the hospital ran out of staff! Triaged out.

I spoke with Trudi this afternoon. She sounds and feels 1,000% better.

I haven’t spoken with Stef but Helaine says she sneezed four times in rapid succession. It’s no fun being sick. I feel her pain. Parental emotions.

My dad is sick too. He and I spent nearly twenty minutes on the phone. His stuffed nose was evident with every Brooklynese tinged word.

He told me about visiting Costco yesterday with LaTonya. It didn’t take long before he was exhausted.

“I felt like I was going to die,” he said, though not meaning it literally. “Next time I’m going to get an electric cart.”

I asked if he was capable of driving but his mind is already made. Someone please dial “9 1” and await further instructions.

Catching what they’ve got is the chance you take when you see kids. I made my mind up going in. I knew the potential. I dodged a bullet… so far.

You Will Not Glow

The transmitter rotates around my body firing off short bursts. A random spot gets little radiation. My pancreas and environs get hit with every burst! This is a very different type of medical treatment. It’s five days a week for six weeks. I’ll be seeing the same people every day. They run on-time.

Radiation therapy machine. Blue lighting optional.

Helaine and I went to freshman orientation for my radiation treatments today. They start soon. This was a chance to meet the radiology oncologist and nurses, but mostly to find out exactly what this treatment is.

“You will not glow.”

I’m guessing that’s an FAQ for them.

Damn!

I’ll be marked with targets. Every day everything must be in exactly the same position. The beam of radiation is precise. You don’t want to miss.

The transmitter rotates around my body firing off short bursts. A random spot gets little radiation. My pancreas and environs get hit with every pulse!

This is a very different type of medical treatment. It’s five days a week for six weeks. I’ll be seeing the same people every day. They run on-time, or so they say.

The dosing itself takes five minutes. In-and-out in a half hour. Add the drive and it’s an hour (or close) every day for a month and a half. And, of course, other medical appointments continue.

Can someone prescribe me a few hours of extra time, with refills?

Radiation often comes with side effects. I might get fatigued or suffer skin irritation. Because the beam will be near my stomach nausea is also a possibility.

This fits the pattern of all my treatment. Not painful. Just disruptive. I’ll have to schedule the rest of my day around it.

I make a return trip tomorrow. They’ll take my measurements and mark me up. The fun never ends.