Independence Day 2015

This morning we biked to Arbor Lodge Park, and the kids played in the sand pit. This weird Portland heat wave was too much to handle though, so we decided to find a shadier park. Andrea hadn't been to Pier Park before, so I suggested that we go there - it's really shady due to all the huge trees. It was kind of a brutal ride there, hauling 70 lbs. of meat in the bike trailer for 5 miles in the 90-something degree heat. Pier Park was definitely worth it though. The playground isn't amazing, but the tall trees and sunlit meadows contrast perfectly, creating a beautiful scene.

We crammed some snacks in the boys, turned them loose on the park, then I instigated an minor skirmish against the Resistance in a game I've been playing called Ingress. I attacked fiercely, but ultimately ineffectively... After that we ate at Burgerville, and started the long trek back home. The kids fell asleep in the bike trailer - their little helmeted heads clunking sweetly together as they both passed out from a combination of heat and exhaustion. We put them down for a proper nap when we got home.

The next stop was the Peninsula Park splash pad. There's really not much else to do in this heat. The final stop was home, where we had an easy dinner of leftovers, bathed the children, and watched My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic until our faces went numb. Corbin is a bronie.

Perhaps I'll stay up late enough to see some fireworks. Or, more likely, I'll go to sleep early and get woken up repeatedly by the sound of fireworks...

Go 'murika and stuff.

Baby Skills, Arabic Skills, IPv6 Skills

The last twenty-five days have been very educational. I've learned at least three major new sets of skills!

The most practical skills I've learned are Baby Skills. The last few weeks have been baby boot camp. I've learned how to hold the baby in a number of different positions that are comfortable for both of us. My favorite is a one-armed monkey-on-a-branch kind of hold. I can even eat while holding the baby! I've learned how to burp and "fart" the baby. I got eight farts in a row out of him once! Beat that high score! I am an expert ass-wiper. And most importantly, I've learned to interpret baby body language. Red face, arched back, clawing at the throat, and a series of slow, low screeches means there's a burp that needs to come out. A similar cry with legs flailing is a fart. A mild but inconsolable whimper is almost certainly a wet or dirty diaper. When he starts giving me purple nurples and head-butting me, it means he wants to eat. If all of his needs appear to be met,  but he's still being a grumble monkey, then he probably just wants to cuddle or something... And when it's finally time for him to sleep, I've learned a few good techniques for knocking him out and keeping him down. Booyah, baby! I win! Baby skills!

Instead of sleeping when the baby was sleeping, I decided to learn other skills. One of these was learning how to phonetically read Arabic (specifically the Naskh script). I know it seems like a weird skill to learn, but I just follow my obsessions, I don't really pick them... I had recently gotten my old genealogy website back online with a new version of the software and... well... long story short I'm super Type A about the information in there, so I was trying to get people's names and locations in there in the native language. I got Ilya to put enter his family's names in Russian, and while Andrea's dad was here, I had him enter his family's names in Arabic. So, for example, instead of "Kamel Mustafa Abdine", I had him enter "كامل موصطفى عابدين". After populating the database with all of these Arabic names, I wanted to learn how to actually read them... so I did, thanks to my father-in-law Mohamad, the Shariah Program, Madinah Arabic, and various Wikipedia articles. I don't really know any words or grammar yet, but I know the alphabet, and I can pronounce most words with reasonable accuracy considering that they don't write down the vowels in Arabic words...

After the high of learning how to read Arabic dulled a little, I found yet another obsession: IPv6. It's a new protocol that was designed a decade ago to fix a lot of problems with the current Internet Protocol (IPv4). Apparently it wasn't sexy enough though, because even now, after we've officially run out of IP addresses, it's still hard to find anyone who actually uses the new protocol... The closest analogy I can make is to the whole Y2K thing. Do you remember that? Do you remember what a disaster it was? Me either. The IPv4 to IPv6 transition is like that. It needs to happen at some point kinda soon, it's gonna be a ton of work for us IT people, and no one will really notice or care when it happens... Anyway, it's bleeding edge and neato and there's a whole other Internet out there running on IPv6 that no one even knows about that I wanted to be a part of, so I decided to connect to it! That decision was the easy part. I'm still working on actually getting everything working... I signed up for a 6in4 tunnel from Hurricane Electric since Grande Communications (my ISP) doesn't yet have an IPv6 infrastructure. I had to install DD-WRT on my router, because the factory firmware options for IPv6 didn't work for me. I've now been mucking about with settings in my router and on my computers for about 3 days, but I've mostly done it! I have a web server serving content on the IPv6 Internet, and I can access the IPv6 world. Ha! Plus, my home network now supports up to 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 devices (that's eighteen quintillion, four hundred forty-six quadrillion, seven hundred forty-four trillion, seventy-three billion, seven hundred nine million, five hundred fifty-one thousand, six hundred sixteen). So, like, we're not running out of addresses again anytime soon. By comparison, the entire IPv4 Internet only supports a measly 4,294,967,296 devices (four billion, blah, blah, blah... There's not even enough for one per person! Lame!)

Anyway, I gotta go cuddle a baby.
Check me out at whenever you get on the new Internet.
مساء الخير


I was diagnosed with lymphoma a few weeks ago. Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system.

Let me stop right here and mention that the prognosis is excellent. I will probably be cured in 6 weeks or so. I have a very rare, very special case, and it's very minor. Let me reiterate, I will probably be cured in 6 weeks. I am fine. I'm not dying any faster than the rest of you... So, take a deep breath, relax, and let me tell you this ridiculous story...

In July of 2003, I wrote a blog entry about a weird, red, puffy lump on my arm. In January of 2005 I finally had it diagnosed. It was a rare form of cutaneous lupus. It was only on my skin, not systemic, and it didn't pose any threat, so I just ignored it. I had a few other similar red, puffy lumps, and I assumed they were the same thing, so I ignored them too. That was a mistake...

The original lump on my arm disappeared on its own, but I still had a lump on my left thigh. I was always kind of annoyed at having "lupus" on my permanent medical record, because it's one of those things that insurance companies like to hassle you about. So, I decided to go get this other lump checked out to see if really was lupus - remember, I assumed that it was the same as the lump on my arm, so I assumed it was lupus. I was thinking that maybe I was misdiagnosed the first time around.

On April 12th, 2011, I went to a dermatologist, and had her take a biopsy of the lump on my thigh. Around a week later, she scheduled me to come back to her office to discuss the results. She looked very concerned as she sat me down, and then she told me about the lymphoma...

I like to call it "dill buckle" - that's how I remember its name, "Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL)", or, to be exact, "Primary Cutaneous Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma, other". The extra bits at the beginning and end are very important. If you search the Internet for "DLBCL", you will not see comforting results, and you will not see my affliction. Like I said earlier, I have a rare, cutaneous form of lymphoma. It's just on that one spot. And that ", other" at the end is good too - that means I don't have the ", leg type", which is nastier. Really, all I have is a little, red, occasionally itchy lump on my thigh with a very alarming name...

At this point I've endured a few miserable tests to confirm all of this crap. I've had a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, which is basically where they hand-drill a very large needle into your hip, then suck out the bone juice, then drill more, and get a chunk of the marrow itself. ...Sorry, I should have warned you before describing that probably... It's as unpleasant as it sounds. I made the mistake of watching a YouTube video of it before getting it done. I highly recommend that you don't watch it. The anticipation was almost, but not quite, as bad as the pain. And the pain was pretty intense for a few moments - not dissimilar to breaking a bone, actually.

I've also had a combination PET and CT scan. These involved drinking 2 and a half cups of barium, which wasn't bad at all. Then I had to get injected with fludeoxyglucose, which is a form of radioactive sugar. That one almost made me pass out - I hate needles, and I have a particularly strong psychosomatic reaction to things being injected into me. I had to lay still for 45 minutes, then lay perfectly still for another 30 or so while they scanned me. It's surprisingly hard to lay perfectly still... Then they brought me inside, and I did a CT scan which is basically a series of x-rays of my guts. For that one, they had to hook me up to another IV - this time with iodine.

The technology behind these scans are amazing, by the way. Just mind-blowing! The PET scan in particular is fascinating! So, P.E.T. is Positron Emission Tomography. The way it works is that they inject you with this radioactive sugar, it congregates in areas of "activity" such as the brain, lungs, heart, and anywhere that is fighting an infection of some sort (eg. a tumor). What happens next is the amazing part! This radioactive sugar shoots out positrons, which are electrons with a positive charge, then those positrons encounter electrons in your body and they annihilate each other, causing matter to convert directly into energy - in this case, the energy is in the form of gamma rays. Then the scanner detects the gamma rays... Anyway, read more about it here. The science is fascinating!

...and yet, as fascinating as it is, I was also enraged by how backwards and stupid it all seemed... So, it's a known fact that ionizing radiation causes cancer. That is, radiation that's strong enough to knock electrons off of molecules is a carcinogen, a cancer-causing agent. X-rays and gamma rays are both forms of ionizing radiation. So, in an effort to see if I had cancer anywhere else in my body, I was subjected to carcinogenic radiation. I couldn't hug my pregnant wife for a day after getting the PET scan, because I was radioactive! This guy has an interesting video about being radioactive. I was exposed to around 24mSv of radiation from these scans. The average background radiation a normal person is exposed to in a year is about 2.4mSv - so I got about 10 years worth of background radiation in one day... It's an interesting coincidence that I was irradiated at the same time as Japan's nuclear disaster. All the media attention has prompted people to generate lots of interesting info on radiation - my favorite is this neat chart on XKCD. Anyway, it does seem pretty backwards to be subjecting a person with cancer to all of this radiation, right? It's like going to the hospital with a severe burn, and having the doctor come out with a blowtorch to burn off the burn... it's ridiculous!

All the tests came back negative, by the way. The cancer seems to be just on this one spot on my thigh. Since lymphoma reacts so strongly to radiation, they are recommending that I get focused radiation treatment on the spot, and on a small around around it. No chemotherapy has been recommended at this point, which is good, because, ironically, chemo also causes cancer, heh.

The biggest downside to all of this was the timing. For a couple of weeks, I was so upset by all of these health issues that I was barely thinking about my soon-to-be-born son. I got tunnel vision where all I could see was cancer. It was terrible... Thankfully, that time has passed. We're over the major hurdles. No more oncologist visits. No more worrying about this tiny, slightly itchy spot on my thigh. I'll probably be starting radiation therapy in a week or two, and it lasts about five weeks. Before I'm done, I'll have a baby boy! Despite being so close, it's still impossible to think of myself as a father. It's just one of those things. It took me a while to get used to being called "husband" too. I'm so excited about the future! I can wait to teach this kid about rocks and bugs and science and fire and everything. Watch him turn out to be a jock. Perhaps instead I'll finally have to learn about soccer and baseball and football! It doesn't really matter. I'm just ready to meet this little dude!

Eating Trout

My coworkers are obsessed with this Ustream show called Decorah Eagles. It's just a webcam up in an eagle's nest. There's a lady eagle and three little baby eagles that just hang out and and nap all day. Occasionally, there's an eagle dude that brings them all a delicious trout to eat.

Today, my dinner was a can of Ranch Style Beans... I want trout! These damn eagles are eating better than me! Hehe.

Miserable Story

Some lizards have taken up residence in my backyard. I first noticed them when I was opening the heavy, wrought-iron gate that spans the driveway. As I leaned into the gate to get it rolling, I heard some rustling at my feet. Like a striped bullet, a whiptail lizard shot across the driveway! It was a beautiful creature - about six inches long with iridescent stripes down its back. It turned once to look at me inquisitively, then darted into the grass so quickly that it was as if it just disappeared! A few days later, I had a similar encounter as I walked out onto the patio, except that time there were two of them. I've seen them several times now over the last few weeks. They remind me of my childhood. I was always chasing, capturing, examining, and releasing little creatures as a child, and now that I'm having a kid of my own, it makes me happy to know that he'll have lizards to chase too.

In addition to the resurgence of life around the house, springtime always gives me a wave of energy. As penance for buying a sailboat and a truck, I've given Andrea a spiral notebook to fill with tasks for me. I've been adding tasks for myself too. It feels great to be productive every day! Today's task was to change the oil in my new-to-me Dodge truck. I was also going to be teaching this worthless, messy skill to a friend... Beth and her daughter Milla came over around 9:30 A.M. We went to AutoZone, got oil and filters, grabbed some tools and rags from the garage, and tossed Milla in the trunk of my wife's car so we could start working! Who needs a babysitter when you have a trunk, right? I should clarify - we just put Milla and some of her toys in the back of the hatchback with the hatch up - it was cleaner than the garage floor... After Beth and I finished changing the oil in our vehicles, we went over to entertain Milla and relax for a moment. Apparently, the words "poopy" and "boogers" are hilarious to Milla. You can imagine her blurbles of joy at the combination of the two into the apogee of comedic words, "poopyboogers".

All of this entertainment was interrupted by a sudden burst of squawking near the garage. I walked over to see what was going on, and witnessed a roadrunner in mid-murder. It snatched up one of the lizards, and was thrashing it around. I tried to scare it so that it would drop the lizard, but it just ran over to the fire pit and proceeded to bash the little lizard against the rocks. The other lizard poked its head out of its hiding spot, and watched its mate's grisly fate. And then, suddenly, it was over... The roadrunner was gone... I stared down at the remaining lizard. He looked back at me and didn't run. He was stunned. I can only imagine how his little brain was processing this horrific incident... Andrea called us in to eat lunch. I went back out after eating to check on the lizard. He was still looking listless and depressed.

My heart is broken for this poor little lizard.

Old Blog Reborn

I'm slowly backfilling this blog with all my old blog crap from 1999 onward. If you want to remember how much of a huge dork I was back in the day, check out the Blog Archive at the bottom of this page.


The last couple of times that I've hung out with Krishan, he told the same joke. Here it is:

Have you heard the joke about the Jonestown Massacre?
I'd tell it to you, but the punchline is too long.

I was confused both times, because I didn't really know anything about the Jonestown Massacre... I forgot about it until I went to the library earlier this week to get some more music. I go there pretty regularly on my dinner breaks to borrow stuff to listen to at work. While I was browsing through their CDs, I stumbled upon a band named The Brian Jonestown Massacre! I always act on weird little coincidences like this, so I grabbed it. After I got back to work, I listened to it while reading the Wikipedia entry for Jonestown. That was an odd experience: ready about the Jonestown Massacre while listening to The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

It's a bad joke... but at least I get it now.

Jaguar Haiku

I'm a jaguar.
That's how the British say it.
I say it jaguar.

Total Solar Eclipses

I've been putting the dates and locations of total solar eclipses on my calendar for several years now. There's usually one every year or two. I really want to see one someday...

Last years eclipse would have been awesome*! It swept over Shanghai! Can you imagine being in a city of nearly 20 million people and watching overhead as day becomes night!?! Well, you don't have to imagine it - it happened! There are tons of videos and pictures. *But, it actually sucked because it was cloudy. I'm glad I didn't go, because tickets to Shanghai are prohibitively expensive and I would have been extremely upset to spend all that money to see nothing...

This year's total solar eclipse will really only be viewable from Easter Island. I had pretty much disregarded it until this evening... I have been going through my music collection and I dug up this old psybient album by Shpongle. I randomly decided to check out their website, and I discovered that they're touring in Easter Island during the time of the eclipse! In fact, there's a huge psychedelic music and arts "Honu Eclipse" festival going on because of the eclipse! I'm not an acid-tripping hippie, but I'll be damned if I don't love their stupid music... Sadly, this once-in-a-lifetime event of psychedelic cosmic alignment is even more expensive than Shanghai. The get there, I'd have to fly from Austin to Santiago, Chile, then take a local flight from Santiago to Easter Island. The AUS to SCL ticket would be about $1200, and the SCL to NUI (Easter Island) ticket would be another $700 at least. Tons of people have already booked their trip, so prices are skyrocketing. And finally, a ticket to the festival is apparently $700 - pretty insane price gouging if you ask me. Total cost for this adventure (excluding hotel, food, and lost wages because I'm just a contractor): $3,400 each... QQ

Well, there's always the future... The distant future... There are no total solar eclipses in 2011. The one in 2012 is in the middle of the ocean. The next one after that is in 2015 and it's close to Iceland, but not close enough. The one in 2016 is in Indonesia, and I have been tempting Andrea with the idea of a trip to Bali... However, the point of maximum eclipse is, once again, in the middle of the ocean...

The final total solar eclipse that I'll mention is on August 21, 2017 near Hopkinsville, Kentucky. I suspect that this will be the first total solar eclipse that I'll get to see in my life. Somehow it's a little more exciting when I think of going to some faraway place to see one, but I suppose middle-of-nowhere Kentucky will have to do. Mark your calendars!

...Or maybe Andrea will wanna blow eight grand on a last-minute trip to a distant, mystical island to hang out at a psychedelic music festival while we watch the universe wink at us...

Real Updates

I realized today that I don't ever write anything of my own anymore. I have all these different social media websites linked into Google Buzz and Facebook, and I share articles, videos, and junk every day, but I don't share anything about myself... Well, here's a refreshing and real update for once.

In the last month or two:
  • I resigned my job at RenewData.
  • I got a new job at Charles Schwab on an operations team. It's like the entry-level position of the next rung up on the ladder. As Andrea put it, it's like going from being the manager of Burger King to a waiter at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse.
  • Andrea's mom came to visit us. I took her to Half Price Books. She loved it. I forgot how awesome that place is. It makes me wanna spend money.
  • Andrea got a job at the Embassy Suites. She's starting a new career in the hospitality industry. She's also at the bottom of the first rung at the moment, but she's hoping to one day be a hotel manager or something.
  • I have been thinking about making a birdhouse or a bird feeder shaped like a giant nose with a moustache. I think a feeder would be better. The birds would stand on the moustache and pick food out of the nose. Pretty awesome, right? I kinda wanna make a bird house shaped like a butt too - is that too rude? Maybe I'll put it in the backyard instead of the front yard, hehe.
  • Andrea had to have minor surgery on her leg due to "spindle beavers" or something like that - not a serious issue, just precautionary.
  • The mountain laurel in our front yard bloomed for the first time ever. I planted it six years ago... The blooms smell like fruity girl-drinks.
  • Andrea, Claudia (Andrea's mom), and I went to Estancia Churasceria for my mom's birthday. Delicious.
  • I also went to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower with my mom and wife for the first time. That place is awesome! All the flowers were in bloom. I smelled all kindsa new flowers I'd never smelled before. There's a big stone tower out there too - Andrea and I climbed to the top and enjoyed the great view. There's also some great statuary - my favorite one was the giant ants.
  • I discovered that the Giant Spiderwort (the purple flowers I have in my yard) smell like limes if you stick your nose right on them.
So, reading back over that list we discover that I'm obsessed with flowers. Real manly, buddy... Whatever. It's Spring. Get off your computer and get outside!