Not A Great Day

Today was not a great day for me. Stomach upset dominated.

“Do you want to go to the doctor?” Helaine asked.

Not that bad. But after a while the discomfort becomes cumulative. A little tummy gurgling becomes the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Here’s my weird realization of the afternoon: None of my pain these past few months is actually from my cancer!

I walked into the hospital for my Whipple feeling better than I had in years. They fixed that.

I’ve had a bunch of procedures, major abdominal surgery, dozens of blood draws and sticky EKG tabs on my somewhat hairy chest. Each one hurts, some more than others. I am feeling the product of doctors and medicine, not my cancer.

You have to accept this fact if you’re going to participate. If you want to live longer you have to play with some pain. So far there’s been none beyond my ability to cope. I know I wear my bad days on my sleeve which is unfair to my family.

Helaine did a back-of-envelope calculation at dinner. If all goes well my chemo/radiation/chemo should end by May. I’ll still needed to be tested on a regular basis but things should calm down. Pancreatic cancer treatment never really ends.

In 50 years will we look back at my treatment the way we look at blood letting and leeches today?

The Schedule Is Set

My treatment moves along. Next step chemo. I start next Wednesday in Newport Beach.

The standard chemo drug for pancreatic cancer is Gemzar. It is supposed to stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. Gemzar is administered by infusion, meaning it’s dripped right into my bloodstream. Considering my recent history it’s likely I’ll tolerate Gemzar well. That would be huge.

The surgically implanted port I got Friday will be my chemotherapy point-of-entry. It should save time and pain.

I’ll have four 1.5 hour sessions over six weeks plus a few extra injections, tests and exams. My calendar’s full until January! We’re in serious medicine here. It demands commitment. Having cancer is a fulltime job.

Chemo is followed by daily radiation for six weeks followed by another round of chemo. All together these treatments cover six months. I guess I won’t be traveling a lot.

My Head Is Buried In The Sand


Tuesday night will mark a full week since I last watched TV news. My online reading has been limited to tech sites. On TV it’s Book Talk on C-Span2 or random sports.

I know what’s happened. I am powerless to change the outcome.

This is the way our country works. It’s the bargain we all agree to. It has to be accepted. Whether it pleases me or not isn’t important.

The next few months will be interesting. I’m not sure “Trump = Republican Party” in a meaningful way. He and they will clash.

He will be watched like a hawk, but not right now. Now my head is buried in the sand with my fingers in my ears while I hum.

Great Neighbors


We live in a family neighborhood. Helaine and I are empty nesters, but we thought having kids around would keep us young. It has.

Our neighborhood is filled with exquisitely wonderful children of every shade. It’s in a place like Irvine where you realize what immigrants bring to our country and how welcoming Americans can be.

When word of my cancer got out to the neighbors their kids responded with hand drawn cards and posters. They delivered them and this group hug around a month ago.


I put the cards in a corner. Kept safely, but out-of-sight. Steffie had a better idea.

She’s brightened my studio by dedicating this corner to the beautiful and inspiring artwork of the neighbor kids. It turned out really nice. Now it can inspire me every day.





Avoiding Humanity. Keeping Busy


I’m doing what I can to avoid humanity. I’ve watched no TV and read only tech stuff on the Internet. Seriously. I am trying to 1970 my way through the next few weeks.

To keep busy my airplane radio is being updated… if it will let me! This should have been done months ago.

By airplane radio I’m really referring to a tiny computer with a software defined radio dongle. Specialized software allows my receiver to plot and track any plane I “hear.” There are lots of dead spots, but I can usually track Hawaii and South Pacific bound planes well over 200 miles.

This is a real hobbyist’s project. It’s all off-the-shelf hardware, but there’s lots of typing cryptic commands onto text only computer screens. Plus it’s perfect for a math nerd because everything is quantified in graphs and charts.




This is my second, maybe third attempt tonight. Getting WiFi to work is a particularly difficult task.

I’m trying a different strategy this time. Installation of the operating system first. It’s called Raspbian Jessie, a Debian Linux distribution for Raspberry Pi computers. Having it in first should allow me to get the Wifi going.

And it works!

Next the radio specific software. The initialization process is a little cumbersome, lots of questions and choices, but it went without a hitch.

My radio is now upstairs, back online. My data is available to me and simultaneously pushed to FlightAware and FR24. On my best days I track around 1,900 planes and copters, receiving over 300,000 reports!

Meanwhile, this means I’ve got to find something else to help me avoid humanity.

I Voted

As a kid my mom always took me into the voting booth with her. She voted at PS 200 at Jewel Avenue and 164th Street. You walked into a curtained alcove, pulled a large lever to draw the curtains, then pulled tiny levers to cast a vote. The levers went down with a thud. It […]

-read more-

The Course The Doctors Charted

When my cancer was first discovered I had a doctor. Now I have a stable of specialists. One-by-one I’ve been visiting them to make sure my surgical recovery fits into their concerns. Tuesday it was the oncologist. His one-and-only job is to devise my cancer treatment. He took out a pad and began to draw […]

-read more-

Monday’s Scare

My recovery from surgery and path toward chemo has had its ups and downs. With a long ‘zipper’ on my belly (ribs down past my navel) I am conscious of every breath. With a reconstituted digestive tract, indigestion or just non-specific stomach pain is the norm. Today I added one more concern. While eating this […]

-read more-

It’s Very Good To Have Insurance

It’s easy to kvetch about insurance. Over my nearly 50 working years insurance has become a shadow of its former self. Deductibles are so high it’s hardly worth using. So much is excluded. As a Medicare recipient things are different for me. Medicare is like insurance from 1970. It pretty much covers everything especially since […]

-read more-

Two Desires Cancer Brought Out

When you discuss or ponder cancer death is always included. You would think it’s the main fear factor. It isn’t. I am not scared of death. I spoke with another late stage cancer ridden friend recently. Same thing. Not scared. Years ago I played poker in Vegas with a hospice counselor. He said the same […]

-read more-