Another Dark Little Corner

moon phases

Started this before change to "New Blogger", as backup in case of trouble with digiphoto blog "In a Small Dark Room", or rants & links blog "Hello Cruel World" . Useful - at one stage Dark Room was there, but like the astrophysical Dark Matter, we could't see it ... better now, but kept Just In Case.

Your ABC

Click here to find out why.

There is nothing. There is no God and no universe, there is only empty space, and in it a lost and homeless and wandering and companionless and indestructible Thought. And I am that thought. And God, and the Universe, and Time, and Life, and Death, and Joy and Sorrow and Pain only a grotesque and brutal dream, evolved from the frantic imagination of that same Thought.
Mark Twain (letter to Joseph Twichell after his wife's death)
[me, on a bad day]

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*Dancin'* — looks like I'll live a little longer yet <relief>  

*Dancin'* — looks like I'll live a little longer yet <relief>

The incidence of breast cancer has gone up about a percentage point every year since 1940.

'Good' News? Going Amazonian, but: From all the tests they've done so far, it *looks* like there are no other signs of the cancer spreading beyond its main body and the nearest axillary lymph node. Greatly relieving to my most fearful worries.

The surgeon wants to operate on me next week. Because the bodily damage is less than my previous operation I may only have to stay in hospital for a week. He says that most people can return to work between 4 and 6 weeks after that, and they would usually let me recover for some while more before starting further treatment.

After the operation, when they've had a chance to look inside, and can study what they take out closely to see just what it is, we'll be discussing the best alternative for further treatment. It all depends on which type or combination of the many treatments available seems to be best, given all the information we'll have by then.

General Information from health/ library/ breastcancer_ff.htm

The Radical Mastectomy
The Sentinel Node Biopsy
by Paul Crea FRCS FRACS. General Surgery, Surgical Oncology and Breast Surgery.

See also (tho' it's freezing up the browser at the moment).

Why I'm lucky - one reason I'd hesitate if time travel became practicable.
Thank goodness for anaesthetics (& of course antisepsis).

A small memorial to Fanny Burney's September 30th, 1811 mastectomy: with only "one wine cordial" for her anaesthesia, she endured "the most torturing pain. I felt the knife rackling against the breast bone -- scraping it! cutting against the grain, attom after attom" until "the air rushed into those delicate parts, and felt like a mass of minute but sharp & forked poniards." rn/ talks/ firstper/ stories/ s1308221.htm (Thursday 21/04/2005 at 10.45am, as part of Life Matters, in Real Media Format) rn/ talks/ firstper/ audio/ firstper_21042005.ram Read by Kate Roberts
Also at jw/ mastectomy.html - the full letter morbid/ archives/ morb0801.htm — a brief excerpt given at the entry for August 7, 2001

Welcome to Tit-Bits, a website for women with breast cancer (this site requires the latest flash drivers)
Here you can:
 : : Share your thoughts and feelings about breast cancer with other women;
 : : Post art work, poetry, and other ramblings about living with breast cancer;
 : : Exchange practical titbits for surviving breast cancer;
 :  :Download cool creative projects to help with the healing process;

Get Tit-Bits - hip, hand-knitted breasts - [shop, not patterns]

Knitting Patterns patterns/ cot_chenille_boob.html PATTbits.html

PDF of knitting pattern TitBitPattern.pdf

A sort-of-related clothing company photos/ spike55151/ 50874304 photos/ 18575352@N00/ 90232901

An alternative to the knitted version people/ lucy-snyder/ brain/ 2006/02/ tit-bits.html

Comments, discussion, etc.

Ah, chemo; Yes, chemo: Can't live with it; Can't live without it.
This links to a bunch of personal stories, comments and definitions
{If my courage fails, this might be an alternative to the usual injections: }

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero
Enjoy today, trust little to tomorrow.
     From Horace's Ode I. xi. 8.

You can translate it literally as pluck the day.
Not to be confused with carpe deum which means "God is a fish"
[See also ]

Ah, but I am torn in warring pieces. Hope/relief war with fear, frustration, anger at myself for what I haven't got done in the interval since my last illness; grief wells up with reminders of my mother's and my partner's deaths (anniversary) and flows together with grief for my body - to be mutilated again - for my strength, and growing hope I had of getting clear of shadows of despair, for the world and our society that seems to be heading in a disturbing direction instead of the great possibilities that could be opening up.

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Four Years Gone  
I remember days I spent with friends since dead, words and gestures no one knows but me, stories of which I am the sole custodian. They fill my heart sometimes ‘til I can think of little else. I remember days with friends who live still, the trivial stuff a sane man would have long forgotten [from Chris Clarke]

Just this stuff, y'know
Who Cares What You Think?

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ThinkGeek :: PC HabiCase  
ThinkGeek :: PC HabiCase
"Now your small rodent(s) can always be by your side when using the computer! The PC HabiCase allows your gerbil, hamster or mouse to live INSIDE your computer. Ample room is provided for climbing, or your pet can hang out in one of the two 'play pods' located at the front and top of the case. Heat from your CPU ensures your rodent will be warm and comfortable in a climate controlled environment.

The PC HabiCase features anodized aluminum construction with a side window port to more easily monitor your pet. The quiet low-speed 120mm fan allows your rodent to live comfortably without fear of hearing damage."

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Testing times  
Big day yesterday. The night before I went to stay at some friends', who live only a 20 or 30-minute walk from the hospital, instead of an or or so by a couple of buses from where I'm staying now. So we talked & so forth in the evening to keep me from worrying too much, made sure I had a good dinner, then didn't eat after when I had to start my fast, and they made sure I woke up in time.

The first appointment was for 8:30 in the morning, with the last to start about 2:00 in the afternoon, and a series between back and forth in the medical centre for pathology and X-rays and nuclear scans, blah, blah, blah. As usual my veins were unco-operative and tricky to work with, so my hands and arms ended up patched all over with cotton wool and tape or bandaids. That's one of the most offputting and difficult things, just relaxing and holding still while someone is probing around inside you with a needle trying to thread it into a vessel, or even find one. But they weren't too bad at it, even around the site of the biopsy (he took four cores, I think) isn't much bruised.

The scans and X-rays are easier, and can be almost relaxing (except for mammograms, which are awkward and uncomfortable, but bearable). You are often laid down, they give you supports if you need to be on your side, and the machines move over you, or move the table you're on into or through the detectors. For some reason, the light levels are often fairly low too. It might be more difficult if you are feeling sick or in pain, but I'm not feeling too bad at the moment. I've been practicing some kinds of simple meditation and/or visualization for these situations. And I was better prepared for some of the possible effects of the chemicals, which caused a disaster on my way home a couple of years back from the last CT scan.

Might write a bit more about things later, but I'm still feeling a touch poorly.

Will not know much more until after the next consultation with the surgeon next week.

Something to chew on: The Median Isn't the Message, by Stephen Jay Gould

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portable brain augmentation device  
Sprint PPC 6700: A Super Model
he most stunning hardware feature of the PPC 6700 is the slick, slide-out QWERTY keyboard. The keyboard slides to the side, which leaves the device feeling more balanced than a device with a keyboard that slides out the bottom. Another feature I liked: When you slide out the keyboard, the screen automatically displays in landscape mode. The keyboard is big enough for even the large thumbed among us.
It's the first device to offer the Windows Mobile 5.0 operating system. This has the following cool features:
    A built-in PowerPoint viewer
    Charts in Mobile Excel
    Pictures with your contacts
    Customized ringtones for contacts
    Persistent storage (no lost data)
    MiniSD card storage
    1.3 megapixel camera
    Can be used as a modem
    Pocket MSN

The Sprint PPC 6700 comes loaded with Pocket MSN, which you can use to access your Hotmail, as well as maps, weather, news, and other MSN content services on any Windows Mobile powered device.

This device uses mini SD storage cards. I slip the mini SD card into an adapter and have never had a problem moving my music library between different devices. I change devices frequently, so being able to use the same storage card is a plus for me.

Another stellar feature is persistent storage. This means that your personal data and the third-party software you install are stored in non-volatile flash ROM memory. The big advantage is that you don't lose your data if your battery runs out of power.

Recommended in Unmistakable Marks: In Which the Future Surreptitiously Arrives
They were too slow, too clunky, too limited, too stylus-oriented, and just generally not quite all there. But the PPC-6700 suddenly and amazingly nails it. It’s not any one thing about the device that makes it into magic future-tech instead of just a nice try, it’s the confluence of several things. First, Windows Mobile 5, which is the first version of Windows Mobile (nee PocketPC nee Windows CE) that’s actually designed to work well as a phone. Then there’s the side-sliding keyboard, which is an absolutely brilliant (and obvious in retrospect) design that makes the keyboard big enough to be usable while simultaneous making the screen more useful for computing purposes (Windows Mobile is smart enough to automatically re-orient the screen when you slide out the keyboard; it’s slick). Then there’s the connectivity: EV-DO, which is broadband-ish speed over the air (for only $15 a month extra, unlimited, with Sprint); WiFi, if you happen to be in a WiFi-able place; and Bluetooth, if you want to hook up a headset or whatever.

My fear when I bought the thing was that it’d end up just being a clunky phone, and that the PDA/Internet aspects of it would be a novelty. Not so. With the smooth notification system and contact integration, it’s the best damn phone I’ve ever used (though to be honest, it probably helps in this regard that my last phone was five years old). And the Internet capabilities are good enough that when I was doing some morning Internet browsing in a hotel, I didn’t even wish that I had my laptop with me. After a month of living with this phone personal communications device, I can’t imagine going back to a plain ol’ phone. No email? No web? No way.

I don’t want to sound like a salesman here, because the thing isn’t perfect — it’s still a little bulkier than would be ideal; it feels a bit less well-constructed than I’d prefer; and there are a few quirks of the software that I’d like to see changed (like the screen coming on when it checks email) — but it’s rare to get something that’s even better than you were expecting, and it’s even rarer when it’s the thing for which you’ve been waiting impatiently for years.

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Jon Carroll 14th March, 2006
I do understand that this is not a funny story. I certainly oppose public drunkenness, and I oppose irresponsible physicians, and a drunken doctor is no laughing matter. A drunken surgeon is even less of a laughing matter.
Therefore, it must be true that I was not laughing when I read the tale of Dr. Federico Castro-Moure being hauled out of the operating room for allegedly being drunk and belligerent.
     Further, the event happened at Highland Hospital, which is about seven blocks from where I live and thus will be the place they take me when I fall down on the street. Not that I plan to fall down on the street, but really — who does?
     And yet, when I thought about it, this is what happened:

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Jumping into Life  
Up! - Jumping into Life ... As we are preparing dinner last night, she asks, if you had to give up one sense, which would it be?

Doctor Update

I had thought that yesterday would be a whole series of tests, but all they wanted was a set of (quite uncomfortable) X-rays. From that they could tell that the tumour was quite substantial, and that the nearest lymph node had started to get involved. So they'll definitely have to slice out quite a sizable lump. Now, though, they want a set of other tests — CT scan, radioactive bone scan, biopsy & blood tests — to see if it's spread out to anywhere else, and also to get some cells to see how advanced it is, how malignant. So that will be next week, and the results will go to the surgeon/oncologists. and I have another appointment the week after to hear what they've found, and their ideas for further treatment.

So things are still rather up in the air. Probably operation will come first, then some kind of therapy/ies. According to the surgeon, the recovery from this surgery is usually quicker than the really serious assault on my body that the last operation was. He does say that the recurrence within 5 years is less of a worry than if it were the same type of cancer returning. And it looks like this is from a separate source — though I suppose the biopsy might throw some light on that. Well, we shall see.

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Really shit bad news from the Doctor. Either the old menace has cropped up, or a new one arrived. Have to get tests done and consult with surgeon/specialist on Thursday to get a better idea of just how bad, and how much of me they're going to carve off this time — hoping that they think it's worthwhile to do it, and aren't just going for "making me comfortable". Visions of Monty Python's Black Knight, having more & more bits lopped off.

I've told a couple of the people quietly at work. Ones I've known for a longer time, and who've been through my troubles, and the illnesses and deaths of other workmates. Some of them have had their own troubles too.

It's bloody scary. If the news is really seriously bad, I may sell up a bunch of the stuff I got dumped onto me when my partner & family died off. It's been taking up an awful lot of my worry, time & energy since, but I was planning on using it to get me through my old age once settled & organised. If there won't be an old age, and without children or close relatives to inherit, except for the bits I want to leave to some charities & fund my bequeathed artistic heritage, I may as well use a chunk to get my surrounds into good shape so I can expire relatively comfortably instead of making my existence even harder as I slide downhill.

Maybe take a couple of trips to nice places, that I haven't been able to get back to since everything fell apart, like the hill between Marulan & Goulburn, or the spot on the ridge in the Blue Mountains, or the Penrith Regional Gallery. Even back to the parts of Europe Chris & I visited. Or New York to see the Cloisters and the Flatiron Building, where I've never been yet.

The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy:

Morbid small-hours thinking. I'd best to bed & sleep. Keep strong and healthy; rest, eat well, step by step, one day at a time. Wait to hear what more informed opinon is once they get a good look.

Some quite true remarks here: It's Not Gonna Be OK, by Mark Allen (2003)

    Quid opus est partes deflere?
    What need is there to weep over parts of life?
    Tota flebilis vita est.
    The whole of it calls for tears.

Non quid sed quemadmodum feras interest.
Not what you endure, but how you endure, is important.

[Quite a few good & thoughtful things at ]

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Originally uploaded by Doctor Swan.
Harvest time and the Sydney Royal Easter Show aren't that far off now.

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An Online Conversation  

An Online Conversation

FL: The script for this [US] administration is written by a team including Franz Kafka, Karel Capek, Groucho Marx, and William McGonnagal. That's the only sane explanation of which I can think.

RS: You're trying to think of a sane explanation? Well, there's your mistake right there. I think it was Sam Clemens who pointed out that the reason why truth is stranger than fiction is that fiction is required to make sense.

CH: Which is why Fletcher Knebel (author of Seven Days in May, Vanished, et al) stopped writing political fiction after Watergate -- he said the truth was so strange that he couldn't write anything that was still fiction but believable.

Ep: Tom Lehrer is reported to have said "It was the moment satire died ... What could I come up with that could beat that?" when Henry Kissinger won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize (or words to that effect, SMH interview)
One of my lasting memories from the Sydney Olympics was looking across the floor at the Greco-Roman Wrestling finals (historical, and a great spectacle in itself, which became a 'must-see' for me decades ago after watching the wrestling scene in Topkapi) to see Henry Kissinger and Juan Antonio Samaranch sitting cosily together ready to hand out the medals.

Others managed to hook up with eligible Danish princes ... mutter, mutter, grumble

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Life on the Ocean Road  

Life on the Ocean Road

I've just returned from Cargolaw's three amazing pages on the stranding of the MV APL Panama outside Ensenada. (Thanks to Ranter) It's hard to type with my jaw in this position.

They say they are taking the photos off because they are slowing down the links, and they are large photos & slow-loading so GET THERE NOW!

Maybe someone can volunteer to set up some separate photo pages for them so the big ones are off the main page.
In fact, I hope someone volunteers to give the site a bit of a go-over. Unless they're deliberately doing it in that style for some kind of post-modern ironic grunge credibility — "we're so serious about our work that we can't pay attention to style or design, or sometimes spelling". Yes, it's a fascinating place, but gee, it's quite tiring trying to read it.

UPDATE — March 10 2006: SHE FLOATS !!!!! mexico/tijuana/ 20060310-0913-bn10ship.html 2006/03/ more-stranded-giant-container-ship.html
M/V APL Panama — aground near Ensenada, Mexico since Christmas Day 2005 — was floated away from the beach at 4:41 a.m. March 10!!!

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Rejected Letter to an Editor  
NRMA applauds reduced bus lanes Rejected Letter to an Editor — Monday, 6th March, 2006
Why do those complaining about traffic congestion in the city want to reduce and make life harder for buses? One average bus takes the road space of three or four cars, but carries over 40 people. Nearly all commuter cars carry just one.

So cars take 10 times more road to transport the same number. Then they need 10 x space at destination to sit waiting all day for the next trip, instead of serving more people as buses do, and 10 x space at home overnight, at the shops, sportsgrounds, etc, etc. No wonder there's sprawl & congestion.

If people are to be persuaded out of the self-destructive addiction to cars, alternatives need to be usable, or political pressures will perpetuate our inevitable decline.

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Nothing too serious, even from Mr Ballard  
Look back at Empire,,329425196-99941,00.html,,1722859,00.html
JG Ballard waited 40 years before writing about his experiences in a Japanese internment camp. Here he remembers how Hollywood hijacked his childhood memories to create a deeply moving film
The Guardian, Saturday March 4, 2006

Experiences with new technology
The Roomba Revolution:
Roombalicious (Grinding of Gears 17/5/2005)
Also see the sage of Two Lumps in severall continuing episodes

Another entry in the giant Cute v Porn battle for hegemony over the Net
Shrove Tuesday -
Cubby -

A nice day out kayaking (video)

I don't think this skating comes from the Winter Olympics (video)

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This 300+ page intense job gets to my brain sometimes  
Some light relief
(some may go for ), as a felinophile, perhaps I should go for
(Some variations on Fish stickers)

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