Archive for January, 2009

We are pleased to announce that Tom V2.0 is now ready for shipment. The development of the upgrade package that will take you from Tom V1.0 to Tom V2.0 has been long and arduous but is finally complete.

We recognize that many of our valued partners were concerned that some of the many fine features of Tom V1.0 might be lost in upgrading to a new level. Some examples of these popular features are:

  • Bizarre sense of humour
  • Drinks too much
  • Eats too much
  • Deafening laugh
  • Bad table manners
  • Persistent and repetitive stories

Rest assured that these features remain and that V2.0 still runs on the same hardware platform that came with V1.0!

V2.0 of Tom contains many bug fixes; The persistent lumpiness in the performance of Tom V1.0 has been resolved by refactoring some of the modules of the core operating software. And those of you who were concerned about a system crash of Tom V1.0 can feel confident that V2.0 will run without error for the foreseeable future! However, you will also notice many great new features! Tom V2.0 will:

  • Run slower
  • Occupy more RAM
  • Consume more hard drive space
  • Show you his biopsy scars
  • Sport less hair

Your patience has been appreciated! Thank you for your purchase of Tom V2.0

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I thought I’d add some views on the current book I’m working through. I’m reading “Microserfs” which is a novel written by Canadian, Douglas Coupland. It’s set in the business culture of the most influential American corporation of the 1990s, published in 1995. It’s a good read and also a fascinating time capsule of the views, styles and collective thinking of the last decade of the 21st century.

Even though Coupland tries to insert himself as one of the characters experiencing life working for Microsoft, he observes the Americans in their element as an outsider… as a Canadian. He can’t help but impose a heavy filter of irony over Microsoft Corporation’s stated aims to put a PC in every home and to make America, and by association the world, a better place. Canadian’s are suspicious of anyone’s stated aim to reinvent themselves, tackle something huge or dream in technicolour.

I tried to think what Canadians would make of a Prime Minister making an address like Barak Obama’s inaugural speech. Where was the mandatory cow-towing to regional, ethnic and cultural special interests? Where was the subtle, or not so subtle, partisanship that’s required to manage power in a four or five party parliamentary political system? Obama has the luxury of addressing all of his people as Americans without need for hyphens, qualification or worry that anyone would be offended, or of being misunderstood in a second language.

I’m not saying that Canadians don’t covet and dote on the new President. He’s wonderful. I’m just saying that, no matter what we may think, if someone like Barak Obama tried to run in Canadian politics the reality is that they’d be unlikely to get elected as MP, let alone become Prime Minister. Even someone as charismatic and flamboyant as (love him or hate him) Pierre Trudeau had to play a shrewd and relentless game of politics to obtain and maintain power. Part of this is because of our parliamentary political system but much of it is because of our basic inability to see our country and ourselves in heroic roles. The Americans never stop seeing themselves in a heroic image. And a US President like Barak Obama who can positively motivate that heroic image can accomplish great things. I know for certain that presidents who have negatively motivated that ideal among Americans have done the world great harm.

Tomorrow night we are having some friends over to celebrate the continuation of my remission from cancer. Cassie and I have decided to cook “soul food” which for us is Ukrainian fare. We’ll be making borsch, cabbage rolls and perohe. As we get our logistics in line to prepare all the food in time it occurs to me that Ukrainian food is very labour intensive. Off the scale. Just the borsch takes almost 2 hours to make and includes separate stages of boiling and peeling beets and prepping dozens of types vegetables. The cabbage rolls are another massive undertaking involving preparation and trimming of the cabbage leaves, constitution of the filling, assembly of the rolls themselves and  baking them for the right amount of time. We have purchased perohe from a local Polish deli so they only have to be placed in boiling water, rescued at the exact right moment and have their tasty condiment of fried onions and bacon prepared. The amount of labour that goes in to making perohe from scratch would take another long paragraph.

Ukrainian food is made of humble ingredients like other peasant cuisines. There are no expensive cuts of meat required. No exotic produce is needed. However, it takes a lot of work to transform the simple starches, grains and coarse meat that was available to our ancestors into wonderful food. All I can say is, thank goodness we don’t need to cook Ukrainian all the time. One of us would have to do it as a full time job.

Hmmm… I suppose that was my grandmother’s full time job. She started cooking first thing in the morning. She had an enormous garden instead of a back lawn. She spent much of the late summer and early fall months canning, freezing and preserving. No wonder that’s “all” she did. Oh yeah, she lived to be 91 years old and was healthy and sharp up until about 5 months before her death. I suppose it was all part of the lifestyle… just as we are part of ours.

“We decided that the French could never write user-friendly software because they’re so rude — they’d invent a little icon for a headwaiter that, once clicked, made you wait 45 minutes for your file. It’s no surprise that user-friendliness is a concept developed on the West Coast.” Microserfs

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Today is our 6th anniversary. We try to celebrate all the things that are important to us and our marriage: boat, horse, dog, food, drink and %&(#%$. We wake up late, go for coffee at Pure Vanilla, visit the boat, visit the horse and now are back at home resting after some tasty %&(#%$ and waiting to go to Brasserie L’Ecole for dinner.

We’ve felt much more reflective this anniversary. We’re both very aware that our anniversary bookends my cancer diagnosis and treatment. We’re remembering that all we had to worry about last anniversary were trivial work troubles. This anniversary we have the whole process of cancer diagnosis and treatment to consider. We’re in agreement, strange as this may seem, that it was a “good” year.

That might seem like an oxymoron… that a year spent fighting cancer was good. However, we believe that we felt deeply about important things, dealt with issues that really mattered to us, lived in the moment, enjoyed each other’s mutual support, had meaningful relationships with our friends and family and reciprocally enjoyed their company and support. We felt pain and despair but also hope and victory. So, without a doubt, this was a good year… maybe a great year. That’s the way we see it. Happy anniversary.

“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their Finest Hour.'” Sir Winston Churchill

Happy anniversary, happy anniversary, happy anniversary... HAAAAAAAAA...PEE anniversary!!

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Run Lumpboy Run

I get back on the elliptical trainer after work today. It’s hard. My joints feel like they need oil. Lots of it. My quads are sore enough that they feel like pents or maybe septs. However, when I’m done I feel relaxed. Tomorrow will be another day of exercise. It’s time to dig my body out of the snowdrift it’s been in for eight months while I’ve been fighting cancer. Run Lumpboy Run!

“To get back to my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”
Oscar Wilde

“Eat right, exercise regularly, die anyway.”

Run Forrest, RUN!

Run Forrest, RUN!

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NED. It’s what every cancer patient hopes to have someday. It’s a friend you hope never leaves. It’s the common acronym for No Evidence of Disease, which is the definition of remission. When I was in the grips of active, virulent cancer, NED was almost too much to dream about. Now I’ve been told by two different cancer doctors on two different occasions that I am NED. I could get used to this. Please, let me be allowed to get used to this.

Today Cass and I see Dr. Tanya, the radiation oncologist. She is following up on the radiation treatments I received in October. The purpose of the appointment is to make sure that I am managing any side effects. I am. Also, she will check me for any evidence of active lymphoma. From the instant she comes in to the examination room she is obviously pleased with my visible health and quirky vitality. She expertly and carefully “feels me up”… palpating my neck and upper torso in a firm and detailed manner. She’s very happy with me. The prognosis… normal. Other than the expected scar tissue under the biopsy location everything feels like it should. Cass and I didn’t think this would mean more than a confirmation of what we already knew, but we’re both surprisingly emotional about this.

We make some happy small talk with her. I’m sure this is pleasant for her, as a person who so often has to tell people terrible news. As we get ready to leave I want to step on the scale to check my weight. In November, at the end of chemo and radiation I weighed in at 221, just one pound heavier than when I started cancer treatments. I have been worried that I have lost weight and this could be a sign that cancer is still insidiously at work somewhere inside me. I step up… and tip the scales at…. OMG… 230lbs. The doctor and Cassie both bust a gut laughing at me and Dr. Tanya’s parting words to me are “It’s really time to start exercising”. This is one of the few times I’m actually happy to see that I’m overweight.

We head to Pho Vy for lunch and then it’s back to work for both of us. The next milestone will be to hope for NED at my appointment with Dr. Sheila in March.

“Long and lean, fat and sassy. Black Lassie… the great American dog!”
Cheech and Chong.

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A few notes from the weekend:

  • I was really tired and a little blue this weekend. I slept more than nine hours on both Friday and Saturday night and had a rest on both Saturday and Sunday afternnoon.
  • We had a very pleasant dinner with Gord and Janet and their friends Glen and Bonnie. Janet made a fantastic prime rib roast and we spent a pleasant hour or two drinking scotch and telling stories after dinner. We didn’t get a chance to bring out the guitars and play which was a shame since both Janet and Bonnie are guitar players. We will try to get to that next time. Otis and Tucker really enjoyed chasing each other around the billiard table.
  • We did trailer the horse both last Thursday and on Sunday. We’ve figured out a method of getting the trailer in the driveway that has worked very well two times in a row. We unload the horse on the road and Cass takes him up to his stall. While she’s doing this I bomb down the road and turn the rig around at the next intersection and come back to the driveway from the other direction. Then I back it in with Cass directing me. From the other direction there is a little more pavement on the side of the driveway and the angle of the drive is slightly more favourable. I still need to make a few backs and forths to get the trailer around but these are done on the asphalt, not while wallowing in the muck at the side of the driveway. So, goodbye demented truck driver… hello truck drivin’ hero. There was much less &%$@#$%! with this method.
  • Cass got up to ride Alli for the first time in more than a month on Sunday. Between our vacations and the weather it just has not been conducive to horseback riding. He’s been longed 3 times this week so she’s got his condition and flexibility up and it was time to ride him. They both looked good and he looked happy to stretch his legs.
  • We met the previous owner of the barn where Alli now lives. She is in remission from breast cancer and is looking well. Her and I were comparing our stubbly hair styles  and swapping stories about our treatment and side effects. She seemed well and full of energy. It was a pleasure to see someone else who was having some success fighting back.

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