Resolution

Well, the holidays are well and truly here. School finished up a week ago, and i've been enjoying my time doing absolutely nothing (the way a holiday should be spent). My last week of school wasn't entirely spent there, though. My dad, uncle, and self trecked up to the blue mountains for 4 days in the middle of nowhere - a shack in the bush. I don't want to say exactly where we went (for fear of marauding 4wd owners destroying it), but suffice to say it was far away from everywhere. Best thing about it was that if you wanted to communicate with the outside world you had to walk for 15 minutes to the top of a very large hill and point your mobile in the right direction. I read more in those 4 days than I had in a number of months, got plenty of sleep (my slepping patterns returned to normal - yay!), and a fair bit of exercise.

My first day back at school after the trek was not uneventful, however. The teachers as well as the prefect body had been busy preparing our school's own fundraising event for the Canteen cancer foundation. Although the fundraising only ran for one week, we sold out of bandanas and sausages, raising over $8000 for the foundation. Bandanas became the 'must have' fashion accessory, and soon it was impossible to venture out onto the playground without being visually assaulted by a rainbow of coloured heads.

15 or so teachers and students competed in raising the highest amount of money before the day. Whoever raised the most amount of money was able to have their heads shaven the closest. In the end, it didn't matter who raised the most - they all ended up having close shaves anyway. News of our escapades spread to the local media, and our local paper showed up to take photos of the event. Student bands played, the seniors had a football game on the oval (I think there was some illegal betting going on, too!), and everyone enjoyed themselves. It's amazing how much everyone is willing to chip in when something hits close to home.

A friend of mine who left the school last year was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. Quite a coincidence, I know, especially when it's the same subtype as me. She turned up to the event too, just to say hi to everyone. I got off school early the next day so I could go and visit her at her first chemo session. I know she's in good hands, as she's being treated by the same doctor at the same clinic that I am. Glad to say that she's coping much better than I was - they caught it early. The nurses at the clinic all thought I was a bit masochistic for coming into the clinic when I didn't need to be there (especially when I also had a chemo session the next day!).

And on my health front, I have some good news to report - I may not have to do all the chemo sessions that i'm scheduled for. It seems that i'm reacting extremely well to the treatment with my lumps and whatnot completely disappearing. After my next treatment (which is on New Years eve, can you beleive?) i'll be doing a couple more tests to see how much more treatment I need. If everything goes really well, I may only have to do another 3 rounds of chemo, and a few weeks of radiation therapy. Can't say that i'm looking forward to the tests, but if it means that I get healed up sooner, i'm all for it.

So all in all, this is most excellent news. I've been talking to my boss, and i've arranged to work from home for half of the holidays, and then at work until I go back to school. The pressure is on to get something together that they can rollout the new system soon. They had to get someone else in to finish the work that I couldn't when I was diagnosed, so they've only had a half finished setup to give to the people they are contracting for the backend. But now that i'm back they'll be looking to put it all together so they can start the rollout. Shall be interesting to see how much I can get done.

Things working out

Well, all in all things seem to be working out quite well at the moment. I'm fairly sure my blood pressure has started to normalise, considering I don't feel nearly as faint when I stand up. I'm finally managing to chew through the pile of books i've collected over the last 2 months. Final concert of the year for the Western Youth Orchestra happened on Sunday. Was stinking hot, but fortunately all of the music still sounded good. I was reasonably impressed with myself that I was up to it, as I hadn't played the tuba for over a month and didn't see the music until the week before the concert. I added an atom feed to my blog so it would syndicate with pedantic aggregators (my blog too, has been out of commission for the last 2 months). And yesterday while waiting for a bus I trundled over to a second hand music store on the old side of Hornsby and snapped up 5 cds for $20. They had a fairly reasonable collection of music, and I managed to pick up some Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Schubert. In good condition too.

Ycros dropped around a set of magnetic poetry just after I was diagnosed with Hodgkins. A few school friends dropped around unexpectantly a few weeks ago and we decided to bang our heads together to see what we could come up with. I soon discovered that there were the right type of words in the set that I could make up really crap computer jokes, so I did a few of them (which none of my friends remotely understood at the time) and thought that i'd share them with the world on my blog. Maybe i'll put one or two more up.

My poor attempt at magnetic poetry humour

Been working on re-launching our school website for the last few months on and off during sport time. The current site is a complete joke, and has been ever since the principal decided that it would be better to use than the nice simple thing we'd spent 2 years (on and off) making. (Don't you just love it when management makes technical decisions without consulting you?). I've been using the Mambo CMS for the new site because it was recommended to me by a good friend. I must admit that at the time we chose it seemed to fit the bill for what we needed quite nicely, but the more that I used it, the more I realised that it was complete overkill for a school site that was meant to read as a brochure, not a portal. So two weeks ago I went off in search of a nice simple CMS that we could use. And I found one.

CMSimple completely rocks for a small site. It's unbeleivably simple and elegant. All content is stored in one easily editable file, and new sections and subsections are created by inserting header tags into the document. I find it a really logical way to edit content manually, but it also has a nice WYSIWYG editor for the less technically inclined. The administrative interface is really easy to work with too, which is really good for when I leave at the end of the year and someone else has to look after it. There are only a few options that you ever have to worry about, but if you want to go playing around in the innards it doesn't hide them away from you either. So all I have to do now is augment an existing template with some new colours and graphics, and we'll be able to give the old site a good kick out the door.

Maybe if someone stopped the junior kids coming into the computer rooms at the second half of lunch with their copies of Garage Band blasting away I might be able to get some work done.

Back (reasonably)

Been over a month since i've blogged. My health has taken priority recently, and most other things have fallen by the wayside. I hadn't even realised it'd been this long since i'd blogged until I looked at my calendar for naming my entry. There are so many interesting things that i've been meaning to write about in the last few weeks of which the details have completely disappeared from memory, but I must say that they were interesting and may make an appearance at a later date. Sort of a "blog-of-the-past-but-in-the-present" thing.

I must say that treatment is going well. The main lump that I noticed almost 12 weeks ago has completely disappeared. This is a most promising sign. I seem to have made most of my progress over the last two and a half weeks or so. I really wasn't looking forward to my second chemo - the first was a most horrible experience with three days of being stuck in bed unable to function fading into three days of migraines. The second treatment initially panned out much the same as the first one. The first 24 hours or so I was feeling reasonable (so much so that I went out and bought a digital video camera), but after that events took a turn for the better. Fortunately my body seemed to adapt quite well to the chemotherapy and the second bout didn't affect my body nearly as much. I wasn't feeling the best for the three or so days afterwards, but I was able to do things other than just lie in bed. I wasn't able to read anything, and music was a bit difficult to cope with, but I was able to sit in front of the TV and veg out if I turned down the volume, brightness and contrast.

The third treatment which I just had was a median point between the two other treatments. Physically, I felt as good as the second treatment, however i'd decided to cut back on anti-nausea medication in the hope that it would dampen the effects of the migraines a few days after the chemo. Still no sign on whether it was effective or not, but I certainly know that i'll never be cutting back on those meds again. While feeling wasted on the couch, I came to think about which was worse - the nausea, or the migraines. I've decided it's most likely the migraines as they have nausea and vomitting attached to them, but the length of time the nausea stayed with me made it most uncomfortable. It's all about experimentation. Next time will be better (fingers crossed).

There are all sorts of other interesting things that come with the sickness/treatment though. I've also picked up a fair bit of medical knowledge along the way. On this interesting drug that's similar to what some olympic athletes take to boost their performance. The particular drug that these athletes take increases their red blood cell count, meaning that more oxygen can be pumped around the body. The one that i'm on has more of a legitimate medicinal use, as it actually boosts my white blood cell count. In my particular case my white blood cell and haemoglobin count dropped below normal levels, so they had to give me this thing to get them back up. Back to reasonable levels now. The only problem with the low haemoglobin count coupled with low blood pressure from weight loss is that it's not all that fun to get up and walk around after sitting down - even for only a few seconds. All sorts of interesting dizzy spells, and I almost passed out a few times.

Only other interesting news to report is that i've had a vascular port put in, meaning that I no longer have to be jabbed in the arms and hands for treatment or tests. Instead they insert this needle into my chest which goes into this special plastic device. The plastic device is connected to a vein in my shoulder, meaning that it's a reasonably direct line to the rest of my cardiovascular system. Good because my veins are poor, and it's easy to get stuff into me. Nice scars, too.

Enough of my medical woes!

On the non-technical front, my room is much more illuminated now. I finally got some lighting above my bed so I can now read at night, as well as a new main light for my room. It's possible to actually see objects in my room after dark now. The previous lighting was so piss poor that my room always felt rather depressing when the sun went down, much like a crypt (no bodies, but the smell was always pretty bad). Haven't gotten any new music since I was diagnosed, and all of the stuff that I have been listening to lately has become a bit droll, so i've started going through my masses of stuff that i've collected but simply not listened to. Suprisingly, I actually had some good stuff in there. Been listening to a lot of Groove Armada and other similar style compilation albums such as Cafe del Mar and the like. Good because I can't really cope with loud sounds much anymore as they trigger headaches, so as long as I turn down the bass it's easy listening.

Also having lots of fun reading Douglas Adams' "The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy". A good friend of mine dropped it around to my place just after I was diagnosed, but I put off reading it until last week. I can't beleive that I let it sit on my shelf for so long without me picking it up. I always managed to read the first Hitchhikers at least 5 or so times a year, until I lent it to a friend and it mystically disappeared into a time warp never to be seen again. Adams had such a curious attention to detail that is most enjoyable to read. Curious because in one book a character could be displaying a particular personality, but a few pages away in the next book the character takes on a completely different persona, as well as a new set of clothes.

On the technical front - starting solid work on the ArchLinux PPC port i've been procrastinating about for the last few months this week. Some of the nice people over at Computer Bank NSW are dropping an older PPC machine around mid week, so i'm hoping to have a development environment up by the weekend, and a functional base system by the end of it.

Over the last month or so i've been ripping things apart, too. I managed to completely bork my WRT54G, so I ripped that apart to see whether I could get it going again with the shorting trick, but to no avail. I'm going to have to try some RARP hackery to get an ip address for it, but I really couldn't be bothered at the moment. The other thing I ripped apart was my lappy, but I commented on that in my last blog. I'll actually be putting up the pictures in the next 24 hours this time. :-)

Nothing like a bit of pain

*groan*.... medical tests are not good. Lots of people trying to stick things into you, sometimes missing and hitting other things that hurt a lot. I think I had a test every day last week bar one last week. And most of them hurt. Well, that's my moan for the day. No more poking until Friday for me - my last tests today.

New geek toys are good though. My godfather dropped around an iRiver H340, which was somewhat bewildering. I always feel a bit squeemish when i'm given expensive gifts, especially when they're not from my parents. You can imagine how I felt when I realised what was in the box. Came across and interesting problem when trying to get it to work - it won't be recognised to a computer unless it's plugged in through a USB hub. I don't know if this is normal, but I experienced this both under Windows and Linux.

Speaking of which, thought i'd do a bit of comparison on which distro/OS worked best out of the box with it. Windows worked quite well when I first plugged it in - showed up as another drive and it Just Worked - I didn't think I could parallel that under any Linux distro. However Ubuntu supprised me quite nicely. It basically worked the same as Windows - the drive showed up and all was good - which I think is a good start. I'm not saying that Windows is something that you should benchmark Linux against when it comes to usability, but when it comes to shear simplicity of plugging something simple like an external drive in, it Redmond have got that all down pat. It's good to see we're making some strides into their territory.

Did some maintenance work on my lappy today, too. Probably voided the warranty, but I don't trust the people that usually service it (misc. hardware being swapped during repairs, hard drives being erased when returned, etc). Took some interesting pictures of the internals while I was servicing it. Now I know why the audio quality is so shocking: the lead from the mobo to the audio out jack passes every single bit of componentry in the laptop before reaching the other side of the mobo. I'll have to post some pictures soon, because the other photos of the internals are a bit lacking. Maybe when I feel a bit less tired.

Don’t Panic

Well, the results came in over a week ago, but i've been so washed out that I haven't been able to blog about it. It's confirmed that I have Hodgkin's disease, but all is not lost. It has the best recovery rate of all cancers, and the particular subtype of it that I have has the best recovery rate of Hodgkin's subtypes too. However, this means that the next 4 months are a bit iffy. School has been really understanding, and I don't have to do exams for the next 2 weeks and i'm cleared for my preliminary course. Work has also offered to pay me for any work that I do during treatment. At least it'll give me an excuse to do some coding that i've been neglecting for a long time.

I had a bone marrow biopsy today. That's where they insert a massive needle into your pelvis and get bone marrow and bone samples. Yum. It hurt like a son of a bitch. I never want to do that again. Warning to all: do not get cancer because the tests are painful.

I'm not going to bother bitching about the election. PEOPLE ARE STUPID. I had fun handing out Labor how-to-votes on the day. I actually ran out about half way through, and I ended up handing out for the Greens until reinforcements arrive. Speaking of which, I got invited to a Greens branch meeting tonight so i'm going to rock up and see what all the fuss is about. Interestingly enough the Greens bloke I was with was saying that a group of Young Libs physically intimidated a Greens supporter handing out information in the Hornsby mall last week. On hearing that a group of Young Libs were handing out propaganda at a particular booth, he got the poor woman to go over to the booth and take a couple of pictures so she could identify them to the police. She'll be pressing charges. Good on her. The Hitler Youth must be supressed.

Ruddock still managed to get back in, but we managed quite a large swing against him: 4%. We actually won more than the usual single polling booth, too. We picked up an extra two this election, plus almost another 7 around the Hornsby, Brooklyn, Berowra, and Epping Heights booths. Rocking work our candidate has done to pull off such an excellent result. We're all predicting that Ruddock will retire just before next election, cheating us out of a by-election, but at least giving us a new cryptofascist candidate to run over...I mean against.

Falling

Do you hear the jet plane yawning miles across the sky?
Do you hear the garbage truck back down the boulevard
Setting off the car alarms as it passes by?
Do you hear the static of one thousand detuned radios?
Shut the window love
Keep the world outside
I don't want to think about any one
But the footsteps are getting louder
Drowning out the sound of the rain
As it knocks on the windowsill
I'm not answering the phone - let it ring
Lately i've been feeling like a falling bomb
The ground is getting closer
And the sky is falling down
This song has been brought to you by
This song has been brought to you by a falling bomb
A falling bomb

Thursday - This song has been brought to you by a falling bomb.

Foggiest

Busy, busy, busy. Waaaaay too many things on. Fortunately Year 11 has wrapped up. First and second week back we have preliminary exams - which really sucks. Means that I have to spend most of the holidays doing study. Ugh.

My health hasn't cleared up much either. I've had some tests done, and have a few more later this week. The most annoying thing is that the doctors don't know what it is, so they keep on wanting to go to the next level of tests. I've been on two courses of meds, and neither of them have worked at all. The other concerning thing in my last test results is the mention of the somewhat remote chances of having Lymphoma, which was meant to be ruled out a while ago. Besides that though, whatever I have has been knocking me around a bit these last few days. Had to take some time off from school when some assessments were due, meaning that I now have to go through the "special consideration for assesments" process for 5 different subjects. It's rather annoying/hideously inconvenient that they all fell in the same week.

Fortunately i've been able to catch up on my music recently. I have an exam in only 2 weeks, and I really need to put in some more work for it. But I think i'll get there ok. (Fingers crossed)

And I finally got paid for the work I did last holidays. Meaning that i'm now debt free.

A really neat feature i've come across in screen is its ability to split a screen session into multiple regions. Really helpful when you're trying to compare two things at once or if you want to see more of the things running in your screen session.

Finito

A bit of uncertainty about my health recently, and hence I haven't blogged. There was a somewhat remote possiblity that I could have Lymphoma, but fortunately bloodwork ruled that out. Instead I have some sort of nasty bacterial infection that I have to take copious amounts of meds for.

The date of my music exam has been finalised - 9th October, the day of the election. This buggers up my plans somewhat as I volunteered to do some handing out of propaganda on election day just before I found out when the exam was. Speaking of which, you might start to see some of these around.

Kudos to ctd for his great work on getting an Australian Archlinux mirror up. Makes my work that bit easier.