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Archive for 2009

Well, hello there

I’ve been too busy to blog lately and I apologize for the weeks without entries. I’m starting even this one with a plan for a short entry.

My mono is essentially gone, although Monday I appear to have suffered a relapse. I worked in the morning but come 2:00 p.m. I couldn’t think anymore. I lay down at 3:00 p.m., fell asleep before 5:00 p.m., and slept until 8:00 p.m. I spent some time with the family and went to bed at midnight. I awoke at 11:00 a.m. That’s a lot of sleep. Even though I had a busy weekend, it’s not normal. The fatigue continued yesterday and is still with me. I should break out of it soon.

My weekend was busy because Child Three represented NDG in a baseball tournament at the Participation level. We had two games Friday, a game Saturday afternoon and two games Sunday. Squeezed in there were two hockey games and all of this happened in Brossard. Yes, the hockey took place at the Canadiens’ new practice facility, which as you might expect is well-kept. Pictures of current Montreal Canadiens line the hall along which the dressing rooms branch off, and it’s a bit sad to see so many blank spots, particularly for Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev. I haven’t spoken much about the Canadiens’ moves and there’s nothing original to say now, but let me add a melancholy “me, too” to those who say this city will miss Saku Koivu the man more than the team will miss the hockey player.

This week, Child Three is in goalie camp at McGill.

I could end there, but let me throw some baseball in. My Irrational League team continues to hold first place, but my lead has shrunk with the extended absence of Carlos Beltran. The team is close to the bottom in home runs, but elsewhere continues to excel. My gambit of drafting Matt Holliday at the start of the year has paid off handsomely and in Monday’s add/drop I was pleased to see Mat Latos somehow skip past all nine other teams and land on my roster.

.286 batting average (1st by .007)
131 HR (8th, with the potential to quickly move anywhere from 4th to 10th)
661 RBI (2nd by 3 RBI)
94 SB (5th, 4 SB out of third)
4.10 ERA (5th)
1.28 WHIP (2nd)
65 wins (2nd, 4 W out of first)
57 saves (1st)

My overall lead is 7.5 points.

To sleep: perchance to nightmare

I had one heck of a strange nightmare last night.

I was part of a large group of people at an older house, the kind whose interior door have windows. That seems like a small detail now, but it comes into play.

I forget how but we learned that a UFO had landed on the expansive front lawn overnight. We went to see it. It wasn’t your average UFO, but was a golden disk a few inches across with a surface patterned in squares. It looked almost like a fantastically reduced circuit board. The disk would “flip pages” – that’s what it looked like. Thin golden sheets would rise from the surface and fall back to it like you would flip pages in a book, sort of. There was no spin and the pages would not fold under the disk – they would just melt back down.

We also found a wedge of grey-white hair on the grass. the hair was thick at the “heel” end and fanned out thinner until it disappeared, although a few small columns of this hair stood up like marshmallows. I interpreted it to be some sort of footprint, and the columns as negative casts of suckers on the bottom of the foot that made it. No one could explain why an alien foot would leave a single footprint made of hair. I suggested that maybe the foot had scraped the hair off.

(One look at the real home we share with Crash the Shedding Samoyed would tell you where the hair in my dream came from.)

I discovered more of this hair elsewhere on the lawn, but this was no footprint. Here, the hair had woven itself, anchored itself in the lawn. Polyps of hair budded on long stalks that rose from the mat-like foundation. It was freaky, like a hair colony.

We assumed we were seeing remnants of an extraterrestrial visit but that the actual UFO was long gone. The gold disk was a forgotten tool, and not a tiny spacecraft.

We retired to the house, and my dream took on a third-person perspective, like a movie. One friend was looking out the window at night when a ghastly white head flashed across the window and disappeared in milliseconds. It was so scary, the sight of it killed my friend. A second friend succumbed the same way. This head was long and thin with black soulless eyes and a gaping mouth. With my perspective I would see it malevolently and instantaneously flash across the window. It was scaring us to death.

We stayed away from exterior windows, but a third friend choked and died when he saw this head on one of the interior windows in a door.

I was scared. I don’t know what happened in the rest of the dream because Elvi poked me awake. I was making noises and she thought I was having a nightmare. She was right and it ended there.

Bonus sleep talk:

I haven’t blogged much lately because although healthy, I’m exhausted. I keep waking up before 6:00 a.m. and I’m unable to get back to sleep. It’s leaving me in a daze during my most productive hours and I’m struggling to keep up with work. The mono forced me to drop authorship of what would have been my next airplane book (although I will edit it) but I now have a backlog of some 120 class assignments to grade. I’m in school all day Monday and Thursday teaching, and with all the creative procrastinating I’m doing, and some computer consulting work, and time I’m making sure I spend with Elvi, and coaching baseball, I’m not getting as much done as I should. And I end up writing paragraphs like this that don’t make sense.

That time of month

The injuries to Carlos Beltran and Dave Bush have hurt my Angels with Crystal Balls, to the extent that my lead a week ago had shrunk to 4.5 points. Blame lies primarily with my pitchers, who don’t give up many baserunners but seem to give up more than their share of home runs with men on base. Check out that discrepancy between WHIP and ERA.

Chad Gaudin had a marvelous week to help start bailing, and the good ship is righting itself.

.284 batting average (1st by .012)
95 HR (5th, with the potential to quickly move anywhere from 2nd to 9th)
459 RBI (barely 3rd)
76 SB (tied for 2nd)
4.15 ERA (6th)
1.24 WHIP (2nd)
40 wins (4th and about to climb)
42 saves (2nd)

I’m in first by 7.5 points.

There was nothing left to add by the time it was my turn to add/drop. I could have added Omir Santos and dropped Yorvit Torrealba, but how much will that really help? Johnny Gomes was available, but he’s worse than any of my hitters. I settled on Pedro Feliciano, a decent middle reliever who might help me get that ERA down. I dropped the even more useless Cha Seung Baek.

Health updates

I spent Tuesday visiting medical establishments.

I had a follow-up with my excellent hematologist scheduled for 9:20 a.m. and the day started well as I got the best of all possible parking spots at 9:00. Anticipating a wait, I paid for the most parking I could: $4 for two hours.

The first order of business was a donation of two vials of that most precious of bodily fluids, blood. I took a seat in the waiting room with my Child One’s iPod, which has become my most constant companion, although certainly not my most beloved. I listened and waited and waited and listened.

The highlight of my wait was watching two birds soar over Montreal from the west and disappear in the direction of Laval. You get a great view from the seventh floor of the Jewish General Hospital, which is itself on the city’s central hill, Mount Royal. These were big birds I could watch for a long time. They did not glide but flew with powerful strokes. They looked dark with white heads and I’m pretty sure they were bald eagles, which I’ve never seen around here before but whose range encompasses the city.

I waited some more, learning that the blood lab’s computers had crashed and so those patients who’s apppointments relied on blood work would continue to be delayed. Eventually, I was the oldest survivor in the room. My doctor sought me out and explained that I had been waiting the longest – I said I had realized that – and asked if I had to leave. I didn’t, but I did need to feed the parking meter and then could wait some more. So I did.

Finally, my enzyme results came in and the doctor examined me. My liver enzymes are back to normal and my spleen is normal size and tucked into the rib cage again. My lymphocyte counts are still missing, but she gave me a clean bill of health with no limitations. Before I start playing hockey again, though, I need to build up my stamina. I still feel a bit tired, but that’s probably because I keep waking up between 5:00 and 6:00 a.m.

So I’m good – but my day was not through with the medical establishment. The night before, Child Two had stepped on a nail in the garden of a house hosting a graduation party (elementary school). The nail had penetrated deep into her foot and her vaccination record indicated that she received her last tetanus shot in 1998. So off to the CLSC we went.

Apparently, Child Two had fallen behind in a number of other boosters, too, but that might be just faulty record keeping. We ordered a copy of a more official record of her shots but in the meantime the nurse gave her tetanus booster. Child Two was not pleased, but the pain wore off in a day.

That night, my good old, souped-up G4 Mac died irrevocably. It won’t even try to power up. I switched the power cord to make sure that wasn’t at fault and it wasn’t. That indicates one of three problems: either a motherboard battery out of power; a broken power supply; or a fried motherboard. The battery was fine and I have a hunch the problem is the power supply. New and even used power supplies cost as much as it would cost to replace the Mac with an equivalent machine so it makes no sense to try to repair it.

I have a new iMac on the way. I hadn’t realized it before this week, but the top grade of iMac offers the option of a decent video card, so I ordered one. You can only purchase such customized orders online, so I have to wait for it. I had hoped to be able to buy it at Concordia’s computer store or at the Apple store downtown.

It’s a 2.93-GHz 24″ iMac with a 512-MB ATI Radeon HD 4850 and 4 GB of 1066-MHz DDR3 SDRAM.

I also got the free (after rebate) iPod Touch. Total after taxes and rebate is $2,568.52 (Canadian dollars). A bit more than I wanted to spend, but it should last a while. My only bugaboo is that I can’t migrate my users from the old G4 because it won’t boot – I’ll have to install everything from scratch. That might be a good thing, and I’m confident my G4’s hard drives are intact.

Father’s Day

I’m having a comedy of events here.

Elvi spent the bulk of Father’s Day weekend out near Magog on a retreat with her lesbian choir, leaving me and the kids to fend for ourselves. I managed to get Child Two out with me for a shopping trip yesterday but spent most of the rest of the day in bed. I fell asleep around 5:30 p.m., woke at 8:00 p.m. and told the kids to eat, then went back to bed.

At 9:00 a.m. today, the kids told me they were making me food. I assumed they meant breakfast so I stayed in bed until noon when hunger drove me downstairs. I had to get my own breakfast (the last of the lasagna followed by a bowl of granola with extra coconut) because the food they were making turned out to be cheesecake (still not done) and almond meringue cookies (which are delicious even though they resemble almond meringue leather more than cookies). I should credit the kids: while the kitchen was an unholy mess this morning, they more or less cleaned up (OK, with my help).

The most worrisome aspect of my week is that my Mac has decided to start shutting down at random. It might be heat related, but that’s not a good excuse. After years of service, it’s time to move on from my souped up G4 and buy a replacement.

I checked eBay; used G5s are reasonably priced but it doesn’t make sense right now to get anything but a machine with an Intel processor – and those are no bargain on eBay, used or not.

I currently have a 21″ or 22″ CRT monitor that’s just fine.

I’ve looked at the options and here they are. I like the price of the Mini but I’m a little worried about the lower grade video, which is in everything but the Mac Pro. Flight sims and WWII Online are the most taxing thing I’ll use, along with the next Combat Mission release. I don’t know a whole lot about video cards, though….

Prices are in Canadian dollars after my educational discount and all orders come with a free iPod Touch (yum!):

1) MacBook Pro 15″ laptop: 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 250GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm; NVIDIA GeForce 9400M; $1900

2) MacMini: 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 320GB Serial ATA Drive @ 5400 rpm; NVIDIA GeForce 9400M; $1185

3) iMac 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Duo; 4GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 640GB Serial ATA Drive @ ? rpm; NVIDIA GeForce 9400M; 24″ LCD monitor; $1700

4) Mac Pro 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon; 3GB 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 640GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA @ 3Gb/s; ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB; $2950 (or drop to a NVIDIA GeForce GT 120 512MB for $225 less)

What I really need is the Mac Mini with the video card of the Mac Pro, but that’s not an option. Apple should provide a Mini Pro, but I’m guessing the company likes the profit on the Mac Pros.

Happy Father’s Day, all.

Back on the job, kinda

Mono or not, I started teaching my summer grad course this week. Because the Journalism Department this year doubled the number of graduate diploma students from 20 to 40, I get to teach two sections.

I’ll be in school Mondays and Thursdays, teaching a morning and afternoon class each of those days for seven weeks. This past Monday and Tuesday, I started with one-hour orientation sessions. It was a good test of my stamina.

I managed the teaching well enough, although I’m not as good a teacher as when healthy. I don’t have the same energy and I zoned out once or twice more than I usually would. Nevertheless, I was effective and I didn’t give any of my students mono as far as I know.

The ill effects of teaching came after class. Monday, I got home about 4:30 and promptly slept for four hours. I woke up and ate and went back to bed but couldn’t fall asleep again until 3:00 a.m. Mono and insomnia do not a fun combination make.

The sunlight pouring through our bedroom skylight and hoodlum birds singing at dawn woke me at 5:30 Tuesday morning. I couldn’t fall asleep again but I still managed my 2:30 p.m. orientation session and I slept off the accumulated debt on coming home and feeding the kids while Elvi was out at her choir practice. I slept from 7:00 p.m. to midnight, 2:00 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. (damned birds), and 6:45 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. I’m back to feeling regular mono-tired today, which is manageable. Heck, I’m writing this. It’s functional and so am I, if not at the top of my game.

I’d like to write about what I deemed the best and worst of last week’s E3 with respect to gaming, but that requires too much thought. It’ll have to wait.

Bonus good news, everyone:

“Futurama” is coming back with more. Comedy Central has ordered 26 new episodes to air beginning in 2010.

June update

I was able to get a half day of work in yesterday morning, but I crashed at 12:30 p.m. I made some phone calls, dealt with a backlog of e-mail, and organized my schedule in the four hours I had. I suppose that’s something, but I’d prefer more tangible results.

June finds me way out front of the Irrational League with a 14-point lead over the second-place team. My lead fluctuates between nine and 15 points, but has stayed within that comfortable range seemingly all month.

I made a trade back on May 11, surrendering Ryan Zimmerman and Chad Qualls for David Wright and Javier Vazquez. I was worried about wins, WHIP, and ERA and could afford surrendering a closer with two others on the roster. And I think that Wright, despite his lack of power so far this year, is going to surpass Zimmerman in all categories. So far, I’m down three HRs, up three SBs, up 90 points of batting average, and up one RBI.

For the June 1 add/drop, I dropped injured Jeff Baker and picked up budding rookie Chris Coghlan, even though for now he stays in my reserves. I have nobody injured, and no one, I suspect, that’s worse than Coghlan. My other option was picking up a middle reliever to replace the injured Will Ohman or take a flyer on starter Antonio Bastardo or Troy Glaus. With my team firing on all cylinders, I preferred to go with the conservative choice after deciding that a middle reliever was pointless.

.288 batting average (1st by .010)
68 HR (4th, 3 HRs ahead of 5th)
338 RBI (2nd by 21)
47 SB (5th by 9 and only 3 SBs out of a tie for 3rd; I had only 15 SBs in April!)
4.13 ERA (4th)
1.30 WHIP (2nd)
28 wins (4th; had only 9 in April)
32 saves (1st, but I expect to fall to 2nd or 3rd this month)

Add it up and I get an impressive total of 65 points. The amazing thing about it is that there’s no real weakness, no way I can see this team dropping below, say, 59 points barring catastrophe.

Whoa, I’m pooped now. Might be time for a nap.

Almost human

Saturday was the first day since late April that I didn’t spend at least 18 hours in bed.

All my symptoms have faded except for the fatigue and occasional belly discomfort near my spleen. But that fatigue, and associated dizziness and the consequent lack of ability to focus for long, keeps me wiped out and useless. Loading the dishwasher and washing a few pots and pans has felt like an accomplishment – forget blogging or writing my now ludicrously overdue book. I rarely had the ability to concentrate even on TV.

Here’s an example. Last Monday evening, my dad and some of our friends came over and while I was in bed they and the rest of my family had a game of Scattergories. I heard the commotion and went downstairs to try to be sociable (see, told you I haven’t been myself). I got into the game a bit and played along as well as a non-player could but after 15 minutes I collapsed. I had to lie down on the dining-room hardwood with a few jackets as a pillow.

That’s what it’s been like. Thinking, stringing thoughts together, is like weight-lifting and like exercise has been tiring me physically. I typically could only read a quarter of the newspaper at a time.

Saturday, though, I awoke feeling magnificent and fortunately Elvi had chosen to be born on that day a number of years ago. I felt well enough to go pick up our girls from a sleepover and offer to take the family out for a birthday brunch.

We ate at Tiffany’s to mixed reviews among us. I knew our girls needed dress shoes and even after the meal I was still feeling chipper so I agreed to accompany them all to the nearby Le Chateau outlet store.

I like shopping, but shoe shopping took a while even with my fashion skills helping us find perfect shoes for our daughters. I had to sit by the end, and go home immediately afterward.

the family spent time working in the garden while I spent three hours in bed, but toward supper time I had regained my energy and decided to take Elvi out on the town for some birthday fun. I paced myself and drank only water and lasted on the dance floor all night. It was a birthday miracle!

This morning, the dog woke me at 7:30 a.m. to let him out because apparently today is the one day in the year he can’t just go pee in the hall. I couldn’t get back to sleep and so I was a bit loogy all day, but I don’t ascribe that to the mono. I may have recovered, and just in time, too – I start teaching my summer courses June 8.

Old tech made new

Quite often, students who are having problems concentrating tend to get up every ten minutes to watch TV, talk on the phone, take something out of the fridge, and a long list of other distractions. Were they to dedicate all this wasted time to studying, they would optimize their performance and have more free time available. Study Ball helps you study more and more efficiently.

I’m looking at you, Child Three.

Diagnosis: mono

I’m 43 and I have mononucleosis (a.k.a. glandular fever), the common variety caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). That virus is one of the most ubiquitous human infections on Earth; 95% of people are infected with EBV by the time they’re 35 (I guess I rolled a 1 on my saving throw). The later you get it, the worse the disease is. Kids often suffer no symptoms or maybe appear to have a cold, but it is a classic teen disease – even though teens only exhibit mono about 50% of the time upon contracting the virus.

When the hematologist confirmed it yesterday, she looked at me and asked, “HOW old are you?!”

I’ve been knocked into bed for 18-20 hours a day. I no longer have the muscle pain and the headaches have gone for the most part, but I’m still exhausted most of the time. My throat finally got sore last Saturday, followed soon by earaches and bouts of random itchy patches all over my body – another known symptom.

The worst part is that is incredibly difficult to concentrate for more than 15 minutes at a time. I can’t even watch TV; it’s just too hard. I live on the laptop in bed, which I can always set aside and come back to.

It could take a month and a half until I feel well enough to get up and about, but I think I’m feeling a little better already. Except my nose, the right side of which still hurts from those goddamned tubes.

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