Apotheosis

I'm in Melbourne at the moment spending a few days exploring the city. Flew in about 1 this arvo, dropped of our stuff at the apartment we've hired, and soon departed for the National Gallery of Victoria. The name's a bit of a contradiction of terms, huh? Came about when Melbourne was bidding for the title of capital of Australia, and some bright spark thought that perhaps if they apotheosise the title of everything, perhaps people would just think that Melbourne was the capital. That's why the Victorian police commissioner is known as the "Chief Commissioner", and the police commission of every other state is just "Commissioner".

Anyway, i'm getting sidetracked. Spent a few hours there today, and ended up getting kicked out because it was closing time. Had a great time looking through the entire Asian art section, as well as the 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th century European art. Tomorrow i'm planning on getting up early so I can see the rest of the gallery. First stop is a new exhibition that's just openned that's on grotesque exaggurations of the human body. Looks kinda freaky. :-)

Also saw Alexander this afternoon. DO NOT GO AND SEE IT. It totally blows. My main critique of it was that there really was no actual path the movie was taking, it was just wondering everywhere, jumping between time periods, and trying to be as disjointed as possible. I think what the director was trying to do was tell it as if it were a history book, which, if it was, would have made a lot of sense, however it didn't tranfer to the medium of film all that well. Ok, it was piss poor. Secondly, the acting was completely over the top - the actors spent about 60% of the movie shouting at each other, trying to hype themselves up and be all heroic. Probably the most annoying thing about that was the music. It was like something out of a really shitty Chuck Norris movie from the 80's that repeats the same music over every 30 seconds. And the worst thing about that was that the music was synthesised, and completely cliched.

Enough of that tripe. Time to log off and get out of here.

Interrupted

Well, I was awoken this morning by the electricians who'd come to rig up power to our new kitchen. One of them asked whether it was alright to turn off the power so they could do some rewiring, but before I could answer one of them had flicked the switch and the house was plunged into darkness. Never mind that my boxen were on, as well as the ones I was doing work on. Too tired to explain why they should have given me some warning, I went back to bed.

When I woke in the afternoon (well rested, but still tired), I found that power was restored, but things were broken. I spent an half an hour trying to work out why the net connection wouldn't come up before finally giving in and phoning our ISP to find that Telstra had borked ADSL authentication nation wide and i'd just have to wait for them to be releived of their ineptness.

Oh, and congratulations to the Labor party and the media for ousting one of the best chances for returning a non-cryptofacist government to power next federal election. I wouldn't mind seeing Lindsay Tanner take up the helm (not just because he shares my first name!) so the party could return to the good ol' days of left wing radicalism. Looks like Beazely will get it again though. Mind you, I said that last time around.

Not happy.

Hitting the ground running

Good news all round - only one more chemo, and then a month or so of radiotherapy. I'm almost clear! (that's if everything goes to plan, of course). I'll be cutting back on school this year too. I practically missed all of the last school term, and it looks like i'll be at school on and off for the first month or so, making it pretty much impossible to catch up with all of the work that i've missed plus put in enough time for study to get half-decent marks in the HSC. What i'd like to do (and most likely will be doing) is completing 3 subjects this year, and my other 3 in the six or so months after all of my classmates finish. After that i'm looking at hooking up with a friend to do some aid work abroad (in the Solomons, probably) for around 6 months, and then return to either continue my studies or jump straight into the workforce.

Sold off my laptop last week, and i'm ordering my new one tomorrow. It shall be most excellent returning to the world of no wires. Wonder what IBM laptops are like when it comes to remaping the keyboards to dvorak? :-) Before selling it off I succumbed to the Ultimate Evil and installed Windows on it so I could do some gaming at a Lan party a few of my friends were hosting. I felt so dirty. Hardware still worked better under Linux though. Also managed to pick up a spare second monitor from a charity that was getting rid of a few of them in Hornsby. Even works better than my former spare monitor.

Time flies when you're having fun. Or working on stuff you enjoy. I can't remember which right now. I've been working at home for the last couple of weeks and i've lost all sense of time. Which is a good thing considering it keeps my mind of school and my health. There was a lot of stuff in the older work that I did that was completely hacked up, and this time I want to make sure that i'm doing things right. As such, i'm spending a lot of time understanding everything I can about what i'm working on, as well as going the extra mile by writing up a log of everything that I do. Reminds me of a quote that used to be on the wall of my maths class:

We remember: 10% of what we hear. 30% of what we read. 60% of what we write. 90% of what we say and do.

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. :-)