What's davintosh? Mostly just the random ramblings of a hopelessly distractible… Hey, what's that?

Happy Birthday Dr. Who, Plus A Bunch Of Jokes Really Fast

Filed under: Fun!,Geek — dave @ 10:16 am 2013/11/23

In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of Dr. Who, here is a goofy Dalek joke from the Vlog brothers, mixed in with a bunch of other goofy jokes. I was too busy laughing (at some of them) to pay attention to the count… I’ll take his word for it there are 53. And some are quite good.

Also, gotta love Google’s Dr. Who doodle for today:

More Vlog Brothers’ Joke Videos: 31 Jokes for Nerds, 50 More Jokes, 50 Jokes in 4 Minutes and 50 Jokes.

(\(\
( – -)
((‘) (‘)

Listen, Smith Of The Heavens

Filed under: Faith & Worship,Fun! — dave @ 11:04 pm 2013/10/16

Can’t say I’ve ever heard Icelandic folk music before, but after hearing this beautiful song, sung a cappella (by the group Arstidir) in a cavernous subway in Germany, I think I’m hooked. Now I just need to learn a little Icelandic.

The song in the video is “Heyr Himna Smiður”. It was originally written as a poem by Kolbeinn Tumason in 1208, while on his deathbed (the story of his death is sad and tragic.) The melody that accompanies the text was written by Þorkell Sigurbjörnsson, over 700 years later. With a hat tip to the contributors at Wikipedia, “the original text is presented here with 19th-century Icelandic spelling and a rough, literal translation into English.” The translation is a beautiful psalm to the Lord God; it could’ve been penned by King David himself. But I have no doubt the poem is even more lyrical when spoken in the original language.

Heyr, himna smiður,
hvers skáldið biður.
Komi mjúk til mín
miskunnin þín.
Því heit eg á þig,
þú hefur skaptan mig.
Eg er þrællinn þinn,
þú ert drottinn minn.

Guð, heit eg á þig,
að þú græðir mig.
Minnst þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín.
Ryð þú, röðla gramur,
ríklyndur og framur,
hölds hverri sorg
úr hjartaborg.

Gæt þú, mildingur, mín,
mest þurfum þín,
helzt hverja stund
á hölda grund.
Send þú, meyjar mögur,
málsefnin fögur,
öll er hjálp af þér,
í hjarta mér.

Listen, smith of the heavens,
what the poet asks.
May softly come unto me
thy mercy.
So I call on thee,
for thou hast created me.
I am thy slave,
thou art my Lord.

God, I call on thee
to heal me.
Remember me, mild one,*
Most we need thee.
Drive out, O king of suns,
generous and great,
every human sorrow
from the city of the heart.

Watch over me, mild one,
Most we need thee,
truly every moment
in the world of men.
send us, son of the virgin,
good causes,
all aid is from thee,
in my heart.

* or mild king. This is a pun on the word mildingur.

The Kidney

Filed under: Medical Adventures — dave @ 11:39 pm 2013/10/15

I have a mass on my right kidney, which was found somewhat accidentally during the diagnostic work done for the lymphoma in my jaw. That mass was assumed to be a typical renal cell carcinoma nodule. Treatment of renal cell carcinoma is usually pretty straightforward; partial or complete nephrectomy (removal of kidney tissue.) With that assumption, I went into the first meeting today with my urologist, Dr. Hofer, optimistic that being cancer free was just around the corner. Sure, getting there involved surgery, most likely a robotic-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy, but compared to the chemotherapy and radiation therapy I’ve already been through, that should be a breeze. Relatively speaking, of course.

But, again the words “unusual” and “different” and “interesting” came up during the appointment. Dr. Hofer said my case would make a good trick question in a urologists’ exam. The curve ball that made him question the off-the-cuff diagnosis of renal cell carcinoma is the fact that I’ve already been treated for lymphoma, combined with what he saw in the PET scan; the mass just didn’t look like a typical renal cell carcinoma. He’s been doing this stuff for 20-plus years, and has seen a fair number of them, so he ought to know what they look like. He also said that lymphoma will occasionally grow on the kidney, and is easily mistaken for something else. But unlike renal cell carcinoma which is usually a contiguous mass and easily removed, lymphoma is more diffuse; surgical removal is less effective because the tumor’s boundaries aren’t well defined, and it often metastasizes to other organs.

So, given my history and the physical appearance of this particular mass, Dr. Hofer suggested performing a biopsy of the mass before diving in and cutting out a chunk of the kidney. If the biopsy shows that it is indeed renal cell carcinoma, then I’ll go back in for the partial nephrectomy. But if it turns out to be lymphoma, I will still have both my kidneys intact, and will go back to Dr. Bleeker and Sanford Oncology for more treatment. I’m not looking forward to that, but…

The biopsy will be done by one of the Sanford Radiology docs; they’ll use an ultrasound to guide a probe to the proper spot on my kidney to get a sample of the mass. Much less invasive than laparoscopic surgery, but will still require an overnight stay at the hospital. We don’t have a date just yet; should find that out tomorrow.

It’s a bit of a disappointment; here I thought I was a surgical procedure away from being done with this stuff, but now we’re faced with more questions and more diagnostics to try & get some answers.

BMWotD — ’95 540i M-Sport In The Best Color

Filed under: BMW Of The Day — Tags: , , , — dave @ 3:56 pm 2013/10/06

The e34 M-Sport 540i pushes a lot of the right buttons for me (I’ve drooled over them before) but this one is extra special, and the reason can be summed up in one word; Hellrot. Red cars just make me jiggy. The ’91 Dinan 535i Turbo that caught my eye a while back was nice, but this one, with all the M-Sport goodies. Mmmmm! Unfortunately, and as usual, the asking price for this one is way outside my price range, but a guy can dream.

1995 BMW 540i M-Sport Hellrot Red/M-Cloth Hurricane Manual Sedan
In late 1995, just prior to switching to the E39 5-series body style for the 1997 model year (there is no such thing as a U.S. 1996 model year 5-series), BMW pumped one last breath of life into the V8 powered, E34-bodied, 540i for the U.S. market: The 1995 540i M Sport.
(more…)

All Clear

Filed under: Medical Adventures — dave @ 8:25 am 2013/10/02

Wow; thought I hit publish on this one already. Now it’s old news (so I guess that would be “olds” instead of “news”?) I got some really good news from Sanford Oncology following the PET scan two weeks ago; the lymphoma in my jaw is gone!

I’m still not out of the woods, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. There is still the mass in my kidney to be dealt with, so I have an appointment with a urologist in a couple of weeks to talk about the options for getting that removed (more on that when I know more.)

As for the lymphoma, since things are clear, I only need to return to the oncologist in three months for a checkup, then go back for another PET scan in six months.

Life is good. God is better.

Bushy-Tailed Tree Rats

Filed under: Cars!,The House — dave @ 8:29 am 2013/09/20

We only have a single-car garage, which typically doesn’t have room for even a single car, so parking a car or three on the street is pretty much normal at our house. Just down the street from our property there is a walnut tree between the curb and the sidewalk, not far from where the 528e is usually parked.

A couple of days ago I saw a squirrel run out from under that car, and something made me think that he hopped down from the underside of it… I didn’t give it much thought it at the time, but this morning, while driving that car to work, I heard a little ‘thump’ as I was slowing for a stoplight, then saw a green walnut go rolling along the curb into the intersection. Great.

Looks like I need to do some inspecting and see how many more nuts that bushy-tailed tree rat has squirreled away in my car. And how much damage he’s caused in the process.

The In-Between Time

Filed under: Medical Adventures — dave @ 12:50 pm 2013/09/12

It’s been a while since my last update, so I suppose I’m way overdue for another. Actually, this post was started weeks ago, but it never seems quite finished, and instead of just finishing it, I find myself going back to it again & again and revising big chunks of it. Even the post title has probably changed a half-dozen times… Probably not the most efficient way to get the job done, but… It may have ended up a little on the wordy side too; just a warning. Good thing I don’t charge by the hour or by the word.

My last post ended with the results of my second PET scan in late June. While the procedure was a little rough, it yielded some good news; we had gained some serious ground on the cancer in my jaw, and we were ready to roll into the next phase of treatment, radiation therapy. Those treatments weren’t much more fun than the last PET scan, and even now, seven weeks out from my last treatment, I’m still feeling the lingering side-effects. The positive side of this in between time is that I haven’t even seen the inside of a hospital, clinic or infusion center since July 25 (happy dance!) My next appointment is for blood work and a third PET scan on September 18, followed by a visit with my oncologist to go over the results. It’s been really good to not be picked on for a while after about 17 weeks of being poked, prodded, gouged, scanned, pumped full of toxins and and being irradiated by a linear accelerator. Recovery from the radiation seems to be much slower, but I’m finally starting to feel closer to normal (whatever that is; I think I forgot.)

To recap what has happened since that last scan…
(more…)

Ride The Booster

Filed under: Geek,Space,Travel — dave @ 7:25 am 2013/08/05

Stuff like this fascinates me. The video is made from actual footage from cameras that rode along on two different shuttle flights, and shows the view from one of the booster rockets. The sounds I think are artificial (added after the fact by Skywalker Sound) but still add a lot to the effect of the video.

Hat tip to Break.com (for this one, and lots of other entertaining posts!)

YouTube link

BMWotD — e36 Compact with M50 Six

Filed under: BMW Of The Day — dave @ 11:27 am 2013/07/26

It’s been a while since I last posted a BMWotD, and I’ve got a few of them stashed away on my local drive, so time to play some catch-up.

This one was listed for sale on the Minneapolis CraigsList earlier this month, and had (un)fortunately sold before I saw mention of it on the 318ti.org forum recently. Looks to be a nicely executed swap on a very clean car. Loving the interior on this car too. The asking price may have been a little on the high side, but the fun factor combined with the clean factor plus my favorite color would’ve made it hard to pass up. Good thing I didn’t have the chance to deliberate whether to take a shot at it.

(more…)

Some Serious Progress

Filed under: Medical Adventures — dave @ 1:43 pm 2013/07/24

Another very tardy update; the last few weeks have been, um… eventful.

Four weeks ago I had my first sit-down with Dr. McGraw, the radiation oncologist. There was a bit of a snafu in the scheduling, as he would’ve preferred to have seen me after my PET scan (which was done the following Thursday morning; more on that later) so he didn’t have a full game plan for treatment. He also said that he would be passing my case over to one of his partners because he was being deployed with the Air Guard and would be gone for the next three months. He did however take the time to explain things pretty well, so Yvonne & I were thankful for that. Knowing what he did of my case (two things you don’t want to hear from a doc; “I’ve been reading up on your case; it’s very interesting.” and “Wow, I’ve never seen [i]that[/i] before!”) he thought that a course of 18 daily radiation treatments over a span of three weeks ought to do the trick to completely eradicate the cancer from my jaw.

The treatments would be aimed at my jaw, and should only affect that immediate area; the side effects didn’t sound like much fun (and haven’t been) but he didn’t think it would interfere much with life & work (they haven’t, much) and should be effective. The daily thing was kind of a surprise, but he explained that doing smaller doses daily is far easier on the body than larger doses spaced further apart. I think I can accept that; I won’t enjoy it, but that pretty much goes without saying.

Following the appointment that morning I was also fitted with my Hannibal mask. They don’t call it that, but I will because that’s the first thing that came to mind when I saw it; it’s a form-fitted mask that helps to keep my head stationary during the radiation treatments, and also allows the techs to mark it up with reference points so they can be more consistent from one treatment to the next (which is better than marking me!) It’s made of a plastic mesh that starts out flat and becomes pliable when warmed up. The techs draped the warmed mesh over my face, then fitted it to a u-shaped plate that clamps to a hard plastic headrest. This isn’t mine, but looks an awful lot like it:

Since the tumor is on my lower jaw, they also want to keep my mouth from moving, so I was fitted with a mouthpiece, which is similar to a football bite-guard except it has a flat plastic piece in place of the part that would normally form fit around the lower teeth. After the initial fitting, the bite-guard was attached to the mask; the two combined, with the mask clamped onto the headrest, with me in a supine position on the table made for an extremely unpleasant confined feeling.

They did a quick CT scan of my head that first Tuesday, and in the few minutes that it took I nearly gagged on the stupid mouth guard. The bite guard obstructs my tongue’s movement, and that combined with the way the mask fits around the bottom of my chin made swallowing really difficult. And that combined with laying flat on my back on the table made for a few moments of near panic. I made it through the CT scan, and was so glad to finally be released from the thing I failed to say anything about that. Later I assumed that at some point we would take some time to get the mask & bite guard to fit better… Wrong assumption.

During our visit Dr. McGraw mentioned that he wanted to use that mask for my second PET scan in order to get more accurate results; I was still hoping that there might be some adjusting we could do with it, but when the nurse trotted that thing out on Thursday morning it was pretty clear that wasn’t happening. They got me ready and slapped that puppy over my face & told me to relax, the test would take 20 to 25 minutes. That’s when I nearly lost it.

I was to have nothing but water for six hours before the PET scan, and part of the prep involves drinking a thick sugary goop. That made for a bit of sticky gunk in the back of my throat that was hard to swallow. Add to that the bite guard in my mouth and the part of the mask wrapping under my chin and it was extremely hard to swallow. I’ve never considered myself to be claustrophobic, but I’d never been this restricted before (having my arms strapped to my sides didn’t help that either.) I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it five minutes, much less twenty-five minutes, so I grunted and kicked and did whatever I could to communicate to the nurse that it wasn’t gonna fly… She pulled the mask off and I nearly hyperventilated, so happy to be able to breathe again!

I explained the difficulty I was having, so she went to ask about adjusting the thing; she came back saying the word was ‘no’ on adjusting, but the doc relented on the mouth guard, and she pulled it off of the mask. The mask was still somewhat restrictive, what with the part that wrapped under the chin, but I somehow made it through the procedure by praying, reciting what I could of the 23rd Psalm (sure felt like the valley of the shadow of death!) and counting. The PET scan operates by making scans of small sections of the body, as if it’s a great big meat slicer (that thankfully doesn’t actually cut anything.) From the counting I determined that it took around three minutes for it to scan a section of my body; then the table I was on would move forward six inches or so, then it would scan the next section of my body. I lost track of how many times it moved, but if my one-second counts were accurate, it was about three minutes between each move.

Even with the counting and praying, there were still a few moments where I was this close to bailing out; swallowing was difficult, breathing was difficult, I was getting a kink in my neck from the plastic headrest, and having my arms & legs strapped down was just a bit too much. But I did make it through. Later on I realized another factor that made the earlier PET scan so much easier; Dr. Bleeker prescribed a sedative for me to take in preparation for the test. I think the mask would still have been a problem if I’d had the sedative on board, but I have no doubt that would’ve helped.

Later that same afternoon we met with Dr. Bleeker to go over the results… The PET scan basically measures the glucose uptake of cells in your body. To do that, a radiotracer is injected into the bloodstream; for cancer detection, the radiotracer used is FDG (fluorodeoxyglucose) tagged to glucose. Cancers absorb glucose differently from normal tissue, and the PET scan is able to detect those differences; in reading the PET scan, a radiologist reads the scan results and grades the “glow” of an area in SUV (Standardized Uptake Values). When I had my first PET scan back in April, the glow in my jaw was a 10; following chemotherapy it was 3. Considering the fact that normal or benign tissue has an SUV of 2.3, I’d say we’re heading in the right direction.


I started writing this post about three weeks ago, and am just now finishing it up. I could go on, and tell more about the radiation therapy, but I think I’ll just post this and start a fresh post on that topic. Pretty sure I can finish it in less than three weeks. 😉

« Newer PostsOlder Posts »