Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"But there MUST be SOMETHING we can do? We HAVE to do SOMETHING!!!"

The core belief behind those who truly and honestly believe in, and support gun control, as a public safety measure; is the notion that there MUST be SOMETHING that we, collectively, as a society, acting through the state, can do, to stop people from doing bad things....

...and, that when people try to do bad things anyway "someone" will be there to stop them, and protect us.

It's the same impulse behind just about every other time anyone says "there ought to be a law"...

... And just as it is with just about every other issue, in just about every other case... it's pretty much always wrong.

Why "must" there be "something" we can do?

Because we wish there was? Because we hope there is?

Sadly, wishing and hoping don't seem to have much if any impact on criminal behavior. Nor do the literally millions of laws and regulations, hundreds of thousands of police, and thousands of prisons and jails in this country.

Laws don't prevent bad behavior, they simply define the punishment for violating the law... and when someone is already willing to commit a crime regardless of the punishment, making it "extra illegal" isn't going to change anything.

Murder is already illegal... gun, knife, baseball bat, fist... the weapon used doesn't matter.

The second part of the error, is the idea that laws will actually stop people from acquiring the weapons they "need" to commit crimes.

Of course... you don't actually need a "weapon" to commit murder... it's just physically easier than beating someone to death... But then again, so is running them over with a car.

You can't control behavior, by regulating an inanimate object, that has little to do with the behavior... Or for that matter, much at all, even if it IS required...

You simply cannot stop people from acquiring weapons... including guns... no matter how "strong" you think your laws are. It's not possible. No matter how strict the gun control, criminals get guns... never mind knives, clubs, bombs, poison...

You can literally make a gun, and it's ammunition, with a few dollars, and access to a hardware store.
You can make the regulated parts of AR15 in your garage with basic power tools, never mind what you can do with a benchtop CNC machine, or a 3d printer, all of which are now commonly available at low cost.

.... and then there's the hundreds of millions of guns already out there... Actually I personally think, and have posted the math and evidence as to why, it's more like over a billion...

It is impossible to stop people from acquiring basically whatever weapon they want, with laws.

It is impossible to stop people from doing bad things, with laws.

They're just about as effective as the "war on drugs" is today, or alcohol prohibition was in 1919.

All laws do, is hobble the law abiding.

If you want to stop people from doing bad things, you have to do so either:
  1. Before they ever want to do those bad things... with education, mental health care, productive employment etc...
  2. While they are attempting them... with opposing force.

... And I don't know about you... but I don't have a time machine to go back and give a criminal a better life  and a good therapist, so they wont try to harm me... and I live in the middle of nowhere, and don't happen to carry a cop around in my pocket. If someone wants to do something bad to me or my family, I don't have time to wait for police.

... Never mind the fact that it is both entirely irrational, and entirely morally bankrupt, to believe it is acceptable for someone else to use force to defend me and my family, but not acceptable to do so for myself...

What I DO have, is a responsibility to understand all of the above, accept it, and be prepared to do something about it if necessary... Not to hide my head in the sand, deny it, and pretend otherwise.

It's my responsibility to defend myself and my family, because no-one else is going to do it for me (and in fact, to burden others with doing so by my unpreparedness, is immoral)...

... and for that matter, if I am able to do so... without undue risk of harm to myself or my family...to defend those around me, if they are similarly attacked... But that is secondary...

Thus, I have guns, and I train with them, and I mentally prepare to use them to defend myself and others, if necessary. I hope it never is, but I would be failing in my responsibilities, if I didn't prepare for the possibility.

Ok...

What really gets me though... Is that I have this discussion with people... and sometimes, they really do understand it and believe it...

... and they still think we "must do something" anyway...

For symbolic reasons I guess?

Seems like insanity to me...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Second surgery coming up, and other updates

To start this off, I'm writing this on my phone while laying down next to the 3 year old who won't let me out of his sight.

Probably because he woke up this morning, turned into Houdini and figured out how to get out of his room, and didn't find Mommy and Daddy in the master bedroom where he expected us to be.

Chris has moved into the in-law suite in preparation for the next surgery and radiation, and because it's cooler down there and there's no stairs for him to force his swollen joints down.

And that's where Christopher found us this morning, in the basement. Clearly I need to replace his door knob with one that locks, add some alarms to his door, or something so he can't easily go wandering around the house.

In the mean time the next surgery consult is tomorrow, with surgery expected next week. I'm going to be spending the vast majority of time going between my two men and attending to the needs they can't attend to themselves between toddlerhood and neck surgery.

In other news, I picked up Chris's new meds and they seem to be helping.

Got the Blazer registered, now we need to finish repairs.

I need to make changes to Christopher's room.

I still need to get to the doc, having prioritized getting transportation and getting Chris to the doc and getting meds and this little thing called paying the bills and eating.

Between the meds and transportation and medical costs, we're down to nothing again, and unfortunately we need to pay for things like parking fees at MGH, gas to get there, the final repairs on the Blazer, bills, food, and alarms for Christopher's room.

But we're getting there. We're gaining ground.

So that's where we are.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works. and if you want to make other arrangements feel free to email me at melody.byrne@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

Thanks all.

Mel

Monday, June 13, 2016

This sucks less in some ways, and MUCH more in others...

First, the good.

June bills are paid, transportation has been acquired, doctors have been visited.

Now, the bad.

The transportation needs a couple of hundred in repairs in order to pass inspection.

Chris hasn't slept in 3 1/2 days, his lymphedema is so out of control it's making it almost impossible for him to move (so he doesn't unless it's to the bathroom 4 feet away), and the pain is so bad he's not eating properly or sleeping at all.

He's experiencing pain in joints he hasn't stressed, so much so that I had to go get him some ACE bandages with the last of our cash.

He's not absorbing his thyroid meds properly, so he's extremely hypothyroid. The doc is putting him on a new med with a different delivery mechanism for the thyroid hormone in hopes that will help.

Went to the endocrinologist for an ultrasound and biopsy on Thursday. 5 masses were identified, 4 on the side that wasn't operated on and one rather large one that is suprasternal. Between those and the lymphedema Chris is experiencing sleep apnea for the first time since 2012, when the big tumor was removed from next to his airway.

We've also been told his muscle atrophy is starting to be an issue so the doc is pushing for physical therapy, either at home (about $2k in equipment unless we get really, really lucky) or at a facility (costing much more and not covered by insurance).

So, Chris's sleep is out of control, his pain is out of control, hes not eating, his lymphedema is out of control, he's stressing joints just by living and being extremely hypothyroid is making all of this much worse.

And we're waiting for his next surgery, and while I would love to pick up the meds that would in theory help all of this, I can't because insurance is not approving them, and we don't have the cash to pay for the new one (at over $200 a month) out of pocket. I also can't pay for physical therapy equipment, though at least now I can transport it!

So... some things are better. We paid the bills and have transportation and we now know Chris will be going through another surgery which will be scheduled ASAP.

But Chris is much worse and almost unable to move or sleep or eat, we need to finish repairs on the transportation, and I need cash for gas and to pay out of pocket for new meds.

So that's where we are.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works. and if you want to make other arrangements feel free to email me at melody.byrne@gmail.com or message me on Facebook.

Thanks all.

Mel

Monday, June 06, 2016

Death, Not Life, is the Default Setting

Several memes and complaints have been going around, along with the usual suspects, that hint towards a rather damaging mindset.

Patients spend too much time taking care of chronic conditions, people shouldn't be going bankrupt just because they get cancer, health care is a human right, health care is too expensive, rent is too expensive, utilities are too expensive, EVERYTHING is too expensive, yadda yadda yadda.

The mindset at the center of all of these is the same: health, wellness, and life is the default setting.

Bullshit.

If you think life is the default setting, go out in the woods in the middle of the winter (or the desert in the middle of the summer) and do NOTHING.

Don't find shelter, don't eat, don't drink, don't build a fire or shade, and just sit there. What will happen?

The same thing that happens to babies who don't have anyone taking care of them.

Death is the default setting, and we've become very isolated from that fact.

Imagine sitting down with someone from the 17th century. Imagine you're feeding your kids lunch and having coffee with this time traveler.

Them: What is this drink you're giving me?
Me: It's called coffee.
Them: Where does it come from?
Me: South America mostly.
Them: Must be very expensive to get it here.
Me: *Explains transcontinental shipping and their eyes go wide.*
Them: What is that you're feeding the children?
Me: A peanut butter and jelly sandwich and some milk.
Them: I didn't see wheat or peanut plants outside, much less a cow.
Me: Oh I buy it from the grocery store. *Explains stores, commercial farming*.
Them: Well you'd better use the jelly and milk up quick or else it will go bad.
Me: *Explains pasteurization and refrigeration.*
Them: And how much did all of this cost you?
Me: *Calculates quickly* About $2.
Them: Well that's a lot, how long did you have to work to pay for this?
Me: *Assumes minimum wage* About 15 minutes.
Them: *Falls out of chair.* *Recovers* So little work in order to eat?
Me: Well it's not perfect, for example for some kids the peanut butter would cause an allergic reaction.
Them: So they'd die?
Me: Well no, a lot of the time they have what's called an epi-pen that stops the allergic reaction.
Them: That's amazing. How many children do you have?
Me: 3.
Them: So few? How many did you lose?
Me: Um, none. There's this thing called birth control now...
Them: You didn't lose any? Not to smallpox or whooping cough?
Me: *Explains vaccines and germ theory.*
Them: And you didn't lose any infants? Obviously you yourself survived childbirth, but surely some women aren't as lucky.
Me: Well babies and mothers don't die in childbirth quite as often anymore. *Explains hospitals, sterilization, ultrasounds, and about a billions things.*
Them: So how many times have you been in a hospital?
Me: 4. 3 births, and one kidney biopsy to see if I could donate a kidney to my brother with kidney failure.
Them: You can do that?
Me: Yes, it's actually pretty simple. Now that I'm done having kids maybe the docs will clear me this time.
Them: Wait, your brother is still alive? How long has it been?
Me: 10 years. *Explains dialysis.*
Them: So people survive these things now?
Me: Oh yes. People can live decades with kidney failure or diabetes with the right treatment.
Them: So what do people complain about?
Me: Things like people who have cancer going bankrupt going through treatment.
Them: Well that's understandable, you don't want to spend unnecessary money dying after all...
Me: Actually, a lot of the time people don't die, they survive cancer, and some live for decades afterwards. My own husband will most likely survive his second round of cancer and cancer treatment.
Them: Isn't that worth all of the money you have?
Me: It is to me. But people who haven't gone through it think it shouldn't be as hard as it is, and think chronic health conditions should be easier to deal with, and cheap to deal with.
Them: So let me get this straight: more people live, more babies live, you spend less time feeding yourself and your family than any other point in history, people can survive many things that used to kill them, and people are complaining that it's too much work to do so, and that it should be less?
Me: Pretty much.

We've totally lost sight of the fact that without all of our modern methods of dealing with the world, we'd all be back to scraping out an existence and watching people die on a continuous basis.

I'm not saying there's not room for improvement, there clearly is, but for just one second could we just be grateful that there's work to do, because that means we're all still alive and needing to be kept alive?

Mel

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Cleaner, hotter, blacker, better... Charcoal

Humans have been making... and cooking with... charcoal for thousands of years.

It was literally our first processed fuel technology, making a much hotter, cleaner, and more manageable fire than wood, with MUCH lighter and easier to pack fuel.

...In fact, charcoal is STILL the most common cooking fuel in much of Africa and parts of Asia and south America even today.

We've come up with hundreds of ways of cooking, since we started cooking over charcoal... None of them taste any better, and very few nearly as good.

Sadly.. Lots of people thing cooking with charcoal is a hassle and a mess. They prefer propane, or just using their ovens or broilers.. or maybe cast iron preheated in the oven, then used over really hot burner...

... all of which can produce good results of course, especially cast iron....

... and if they've only cooked with "charcoal briquettes"... which aren't anything like actual charcoal (more on that later)... I can certainly understand why they would (mistakenly) think charcoal was not that great, a mess, and a hassle...

Because they've never ACTUALLY cooked with charcoal.

Cooking with natural lump charcoal, is one of the most efficient, quickest, easiest, and least messy means of cooking there is... And of course, one of the tastiest.

Wood, natural gas, and propane (and some types of mineral coal), all make for medium temperature, and very "wet" heat, with lots of, sometimes unpleasant, residues (and odors).

Natural lump charcoal makes for a cook fire, so hot and dry, (because it burns very efficiently and nearly completely), that it lets you get a hard sear, or even char on the outside, while still staying juicy, tender, and medium rare inside.... Even for very thin cuts of meat, or very small pieces like steak tips.

Propane can't do that, nor can any home oven or most home ranges... even with thick cast iron. In fact, it's basically impossible to get anywhere near as good delivery of heat into your food as natural lump charcoal can give you, without very expensive specialty restaurant equipment.

... and if you like cooking in cast Iron, you have no idea how great it can be, until you cook with cast iron and proper charcoal... Propane and natural gas can't hold a candle.

Now... if you're cooking with briquettes, that's another story entirely... They're awful...
Briquettes really ARE a high effort hassle for poor results...

They don't smell right, sometimes food doesn't taste right with them, they're heavy and messy, they are difficult and take forever to light and usually need starting fluid (sometimes even with a chimney starter), they make for low and uneven heating... they can even choke off their own fire and end up going out... and most of all, they can take 30 or 45 minutes before you're ready to cook.


And of course, with propane... or even with an oven or a range and cast iron, you've got to pre-heat for 10 to 20 minutes as well...

Real charcoal is nothing like a hassle...
With a chimney starter, and natural lump charcoal; going from nothing to ready to cook, is very quick, and takes almost no effort.

Literally 20 seconds of trivial effort to load the charcoal and light the starter, and 10-15 minutes of waiting for the coals to get ready...

...and then you're cooking, at a FAR higher temperature than any home oven or burner can get.

How hot can it get?

A natural lump charcoal fire, in a chimney starter, can easily get to over 1400 degrees.

If you use enough charcoal, and let it burn a few minutes longer and hotter, it will get to the point where it is generating its own blast draft, just like a furnace.

When it's blasting like a furnace, that fire can get steel to cherry red, which is over 1500 degrees... even up to a bright cherry red as high as 1700 degrees... (leave it long enough, with enough airflow, and enough charcoal, and it can go even higher, and melt the thin sheetmetal of the chimney starter. With a bellows or blower, you can easily get a charcoal fire hot enough to forge, and even to smelt, steel).

Ok... but how hot can I actually cook with it?

After dumping the chimney into the grill, when the charcoal is glowing bright red on the grate; with good airflow and proper insulation under the fire, you can see a temperature at the grill surface of 800 to 1100 degrees easily... sometimes higher (I've regularly measured 1200 with a non contact thermometer).

... Which means cooking faster, which means getting better texture and flavor, without overcooking.

In fact, if you're just cooking a couple of steaks, burgers, breasts etc... you can just take a grill grate, and cook right on top of the chimney starter, using much less charcoal.

You cook right on the starter, it takes about 3 minutes total to cook a 1" thick steak to medium rare... 90 seconds a side.

It only takes enough charcoal to make the chimney work properly... a few ounces, a few inches, and some waste paper. I light it with a blowtorch to make it even faster and easier... and more fun... When the charcoal is fully ignited... you don't have to wait for an orange hot jet of flame but you can if you like... you're ready to cook.

When you burn it that hot, charcoal burns almost completely... Almost no cleanup... because it's REAL charcoal. No pan, no oven, just a little bit of ash... and really, it's only a little bit.

... and it's not all about the fast and hot...

If you want a lower and slower cook, get your starter to the point where all the charcoal has caught, but not where it's generating its own updraft blast furnace...

Then dump on the grate, and restrict the airflow into the firebox. Everything will slow down, and smolder, for quite a long time.

You can easily sustain a low and slow, or a medium heat, for hours... anywhere from 190 degrees in the grill box, to 400-500 degrees... adding new charcoal as necessary.


With a well insulated hot box, this dry controlled heat is ideal for pizza and certain kinds of bread baking. In fact, it's likely the only way most home cooks can actually get an oven hot enough to make proper pizza (though using a combination of firebrick and a thick piece of pizza steel, and preheating for a long time, can get you close).

... and of course, you can smoke meats this way, with seasoned smoking wood added to the charcoal.

It really is just better...

When I have the gear, and the space, I cook with REAL charcoal year round, rain, shine, snow (just rig an awning)... doesn't matter.


It can actually be much LESS hassle, and much LESS cleanup, than using your kitchen.

It's not like cooking with "charcoal briquettes"...which... and this is the importan't part... aren't even actual charcoal.

Wait... Briquettes aren't charcoal?

No... really... they're not. Not even much like it at all actually.

"Charcoal briquettes" are actually mostly sand or clay, and binders, with a little blackened sawdust, and coal dust mixed in.

Kingsford, the %1 brand in America lists the following as the ingredients of their briquettes:

Wood char (partially charred sawdust and wood flour)
Mineral char (partially burned coal dust from processing of soft brown lignite coal... often high sulfur coal)
Mineral carbon (unburned coal dust from soft brown lignite coal)
Limestone
Starch
Borax
Sodium nitrate
Sawdust


Even the "wood char" isn't really charcoal, it's blackened sawdust and wood flour (often left over from paper and saw mills, which is good), but it hasn't really been pyrolized as proper charcoal.

Basically, they're over 90% stuff that isn't anything like charcoal, and less than 10% of stuff that is sort of like charcoal... but no actual charcoal.

That's why they can't cook worth a damn, why they take forever to heat, and why there is so much mess. They don't light well, they don't burn well, and they don't cook well.

Thankfully, you can get natural lump charcoal almost anywhere now (including walmart), and given how little you actually need, for how much you can cook with it... it's actually LESS expensive than briquettes.

Good natural lump charcoal runs between $1 and $1,50 a pound. "Good" briquettes run between $0.50 and $1.00 a pound.

Initially, that may seem significantly MORE expensive, however, with lump, you never need to use starting fluid ($4 a bottle, which lasts what... 20lbs?) and you don't waste 80% of your heat "waiting for the coals to be ready".

More importantly, because it cooks so much hotter and so much faster, and because you start cooking in 10 minutes not 30-45...

...You can cook more with 1lb of lump, than you can with 5lbs of briquettes...

Yes, really, it's about 5 to 1.

... And of course, because lump burns much more completely and cleaner, and briquettes are literally more than 90% "nothing like charcoal"...when you're done with that 1lb of lump vs 5lbs of briquettes... the briquettes end up making about 10 times the ash, and nasty residues.


So... yeah... grilling with briquettes is a high effort, expensive, messy hassle...


Which, of course, is why you should grill with... you know... actual charcoal.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

God this sucks...

This is going to suck to write.

I'm usually an optimistic person, I need to be. It's the only way I get by.

People call me "tough". I'm not tough, I'm adaptable. I can get used to the "new normal" very quickly. This means I can accept what other people consider hardship without thinking about it too much, as long as I don't compare to other people. This leads to what Chris refers to as "minimizing." It's how I stay somewhat functional.

So this is me, laying it bare.

We're behind on health insurance premiums for Chris.
Chris needs his meds refilled.
I need my antidepressants refilled, and need to make it to the doctor.
We're behind on electric.
We're past due on internet.
I got the minimum amount of heating oil last time, so at some point we will need that.
Cell phones are due soon.
My cell phone is dying.
Chris's laptop is dying.
Chris has very few clothes.
I have very few clothes.
We're getting low on groceries.
We've been low on household goods ever since we left Florida. We have a total of 6 dinner plates.
We don't have much furniture, though at least we have beds for everyone.
We haven't paid the second half of rent for May, and June is coming up.
Stupid car rental company charged us twice what they should have, the rental car is gone, and they think I still owe more.
We have no transportation, and the closest bus stop is 2 1/2 miles away, and won't get Chris to his doctors.

And here's the big one:
Unless we have transportation to take advantage of cancellations, Chris can't get to the doctor for additional testing and radiation before August 9th, and the remaining cancer is growing.

That's just the financial considerations.

Every day I force myself out of bed, feed 5 different bellies, keep the boy from killing himself, make sure Chris has stuff to drink, keep working on potty training the boy, feed everybody again, put the boy down for his nap/ quiet time, think that this is the day that I will attack the disaster that is the house and clean it properly, and instead become an inert pile of exhausted depression.

Then I get up, make dinner, feed people, get the boy cleaned and ready for bed, get the boy in bed, make sure Chris has everything he needs, and collapse again.

I've got a box of hair dye I picked up in January. I've been too exhausted and depressed to use it since then.

Where is Chris in this? Bed bound, between healing, pain, lymphedema, and mobility issues.

I'm doing everything by myself, in the midst of the worst depression I've ever experienced, and I am just exhausted.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. We moved up here before we knew the cancer was back, with the promise of family support. Well, half of the family support disappeared, and the other half is struggling with their own health issues that are incompatible with helping. That was before the cancer.

Before the cancer we also had two different people coming up to help; due to reasons outside of everyone's control, that didn't happen either.

There are 3 bright spots in all of this: we're near some of the best doctors in the world, we really lucked out in our house (in that it's got an in-law apartment, so at least Chris has somewhere to be separate from the family during radiation) with great landlords, and thanks to the kindness of some friends the boy has plenty of clothes and toys and is healthy.

I'm just so tired, and August is a long time to wait to go forward, and we have no idea how much worse Chris will get in this time.

In the meantime we've been working other angles, possible jobs, possible loans, and everything has either been delayed or fallen through.

Without transportation I can't work, I can't put the boy in daycare, and we can't get Chris to the docs when a cancellation opens up.

We're pretty much fucked at this moment, and I feel helpless and like my hands are tied. All for lack of a car and lack of income.

Like I said, I'm an optimistic and adaptable person, and I'm pushed to my limit.

It's much harder and more expensive to survive cancer than it is to die from it. I don't want my husband to die from it just because we seem to have the worst fucking luck in the world, no matter what we do.

I'm going to keep getting up, and keep trying, and keep working angles, and keep watching my husband be in pain and get worse every day, and keep raising our son mostly by myself, and keep doing what needs to be done, but it gets harder every day. I'll never give up, but damn if it doesn't seem much easier.

All for lack of a car, and lack of income.

So as much as I hate it and I was hoping to avoid it (like I said, I've been working angles, they just haven't worked out) I have to ask y'all for help, again.

Please help if you can.

I've still got a GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works.

Thanks all,

Mel

Friday, May 20, 2016

Turning Circles

Everything in the entire material universe, is circles, squares, lines and arcs.

If you can rotate one piece and hold another piece completely still against it to cut it or grind it, you can make anything perfectly round and concentric.

Once you get a four pieces perfectly round, concentric, and identical, you can find perfect level.

Once you can make four pieces perfectly round, concentric, and level, you can take a piece and make one surface perfectly flat.

Once you can make one surface perfectly flat and level, you can make a second surface perfectly perpendicular to it, and perfectly flat and level.

Once you can make two surfaces perfectly flat, level, and perpendicular to each other you can always find 90 degrees.

Once you can make things perfectly round and concentric, and make two surfaces perfectly flat and perpendicular to each other, you can make anything flat and square on all sides.

Once you know one exact measurement... all you need to do is hold it up to something else you know the size of... and can make something flat, square, perpendicular, and level on all sides, then you can always find a 45 degree angle.

Once you can make something flat and square on all sides, and you can always find a 45 degree angle, you can make anything flat, square, and true on all sides.

Once you can find an exact measurement, and exact 90 and 45 degree angles, you can always find the center of any measurement, and you can always double any measurement.

Once you can halve and double any measurement, find 90 and 45 degrees, and find the center of any measurement, you can find any measurement at all.

Once you can find 90 degrees, 45 degrees, and any measurement at all, you can find any angle at all.

Once you can make something round, concentric, flat, square and true, and can find any measurement and any angle, you can make any spiral or helix you want, and thus, cut any screw thread or gear you want.

Once you cut four threads and four gears to act against each other, you can double the precision of your threads and gears.

Once you can find any measurement, and the center of any measurement, and can find 90 degrees, and 45 degrees, and any angle at all... and can halve and double them... you can double the precision of your measurements... and redouble them to any degree of precision.

Once you can double the precision of your measurements, and the precision of your threads and gears, you can make anything round, concentric, flat, square, and true at double precision.

Once you can make four flat, square, and true objects at double precision, and four round and concentric flat and shafts at double precision, you can double it again...

Then you can double the precision of your threads and gears again, and redouble, and redouble, to any degree of precision.

...and by doubling, redoubling, and halving, and quartering, over and over, you can find any measurement, of any line, at any degree of precision, and make anything round, concentric, flat, and square to any degree of precision.

Once you can find any measurement, at any degree of precision, and can always find the center, 90 and 45 degrees, you can find any angle, to any degree of precision.

Once you can find always find endpoints, and center points of any line, any measurement, and any angle, at any degree of precision, you can describe any arc, at any degree of precision.

... and cut any screw or gear, at any degree of precision.

Once you can make anything round, concentric, flat, square, true, and level, find any measurement and any angle, cut any screw and any gear, and describe any arc, at any precision...

... you can make anything at all...

This is how the entire industrial world developed, and how everything is still made today...

Everything... everything manufactured piece, every machine, everything in this modern world... begins with the lathe.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Better than expected, but not done by a long shot

So the pathology report came back better than we expected.

Only 7 out of 24 lymph nodes removed were cancerous, and it's solely follicular.

So the cancer wasn't growing as fast as feared.

The bad is that the pathologist is the one who counted the nodes, because the surgeon couldn't identify the number of nodes removed during surgery due to several of the nodes growing together.

Right behind the sternum.

Very challenging surgery.

As for another surgery, the endocrinologist will do further ultrasounds in a few weeks (thus allowing for the swelling to go down sufficiently) and biopsies of anything suspicious. Then he and the surgeon will decide if another surgery is necessary.

NO MATTER WHAT, Chris will be going through radioactive iodine ablation again, about 6 weeks after the final surgery (whether that's this last surgery or another surgery). So he's still going to be limited in what he can do for a few months yet.

So we still need financial support, for those things like medical bills, medical premiums, transportation, utilities, oh and food.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works.

Thanks all,

Mel

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

... he's getting cut, tomorrow.

Yes, bad, I know. But humor is helpful right now.



Tomorrow is the big day.

Apologies to those who have donated who I haven't managed to thank yet, things have been a little crazy with prep and the like. Plus the massive panic on my end.

But the day has finally come.

No idea how long the surgery will be, the surgeon doesn't know the extent of the work needed until he gets in there. Right now the surgeon is only expecting an overnight stay, but that may change due to the extent of the surgery.

I won't be posting live updates here most likely. I'll do a wrap up post here, but most of the updates will be on Facebook.

There's a Facebook group for those who can handle the more gruesome details here: Chris Byrne Surgery and Recovery. Anyone who joins will be accepted.

If you need your details more sanitized, follow me on Facebook 

One day we'll get around to a full explanation of what's going on, but right now I'm busier than the proverbial one legged man, if the one legged man was also taking care of a sick husband, a 3 year old, two dogs, a household, and a ton of medical details.

I still have a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works.

Mel

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Surgery now on Tuesday

Surgery now on Tuesday, due to scheduling and the surgeon wanting some test results back first.

Details to follow, when we're not as exhausted and can go into medical details coherently.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What I'm Up Against

So... Just so you guys know what I'm in for next week... and the next few months...

The surgeon had a cancellation, and now my presurgical consult is on the 6th, and I'm tentatively scheduled for surgery on the 7th... there may be a conflict with the OR scheduling, in which case it may be the following week, we're not sure yet.

At this point, most of the lymph nodes in my neck are cancerous... at least 9 are over 1.5cm... a couple of them are over 4 cm... it's not great. A couple of them are just under the surface of the skin, and you can actually see them distorting my neck.

I'm going to have what's called a radical neck dissection.

Basically, my entire neck, and parts of my shoulders and upper chest will be cut open and dissected to ribbons, pretty much down to the bone, including at least separating, if not severing, most of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in my neck...

They do this to get room to see and cut out the cancerous lymph nodes, and other masses, and then one or two more lymph nodes beyond the cancerous ones.

That means they'll be cutting up all the muscles that I chew with, swallow with, hold my head up with, speak with... yeah...

They may also need to cut shoulder muscles... and there will be some tendon and ligament damage, even if they don't have to cut any of them... and they may need to cut some of them...

Worst case, they may have to go into my chest, under the sternum, and around my lungs... We know that the lymph nodes around the mediastinal notch are cancerous, so they're going to have to go at least that far... if they have to go more... Well, that's not great. It basically doubles to triples the trauma, and the recovery time.

...and there is likely to be substantial nerve damage no matter what, including potentially some nerves being completely dead permanently.

After my surgery, I will need to stay in the hospital for anywhere from 2 or 3 days, to more than 2 weeks, depending on how my healing gets going.

I won't even be able to chew, swallow solids, speak much, or hold my own head up... for at least 6 weeks, and possibly as long as 3 months.

... and it's going to hurt... a lot... the whole time...

I may permanently lose a lot of strength, mobility, and control, in my head and neck, and may suffer permanent pain, from the damage.

I may also lose the ability to raise my arms... or raise them above waist or chest or shoulder level... or I may need to go through extensive rehab and PT to do so...

It's possible I may lose my voice, in whole or in part, for an extended period of time... Possibly permanently.

Oh and I'll be on a liquid diet for at least the first six weeks, possibly as long as 3 months.
Then, as soon as I am healed enough to be beyond major risk of secondary infection, and I can get up and out of bed without assistance... that's when the radiation starts.

... And that's another three to six months of baseline recovery time, depending on whether I need one or more courses of radiation...

During the radiation, I will have no immune system, and I will also be dangerously radioactive to other living creatures... Including my wife, my son, and my dogs... so I will have to be in isolation... One of the reasons we kept this house, we because it has an area where I can be in isolation.

That's gonna be fun...

... and then 18 months of recovery time for all of the above after that... Recovery from radiation, rehab and physical therapy, and hopefully getting some of my immune system back... Basically all the things I went through in 2012 only worse.

God...

Yeah... I'm really not ready for this again... It was... living hell the first time around... now...
... The only thing that keeps me going, is that I need to be there for my family...

If anyone wants to help out... Melody is handling everything because I'm going to be useless for months... but we can always take donations through paypal at chris@chrisbyrne.com and here's the gofundme link:

https://www.gofundme.com/kdmtkm6k

Surgery and SOS

Remember what I said about having a world-famous surgeon and being a "local" to said surgeon? That it puts you at the top of the cancellation list?

Well... surgical consult is April 6th and surgery is... April 7th. At Massachusetts General.

We are SO not prepared. But we're going to get it done anyway.

We're not ready when it comes to the house, or the transportation, or the financials... but we're going to do it anyway.

The surgery Chris will be going through is called a neck dissection. Essentially the neck is opened up and all of the offending lymph nodes (plus one set of lymph nodes beyond) are removed. Do NOT google unless you have a strong stomach.

The recovery will be what you'd expect from having your neck cut into, pulled apart, and sewn back together. Inability to use neck muscles. Inability to eat solid food. Inability to make sudden movements. Plus the threat of neck lymphedema (backup of lymph fluid causing swelling in the area). Since Chris already has neck lymphedema it's going to be a problem.

So... with limited ability to use his neck muscles, a necessary avoidance of sudden movement, and a need to stay upright, it's not exactly going to be life as normal here.

What we need:


  • A recliner, to keep him upright and supported, as well as comfortable.
  • Another bed, so I can sleep somewhere other than with him.
  • Transportation to and from Mass General, for the consult, surgery, discharge, and visiting him while he's in the hospital for the 2 - 7 days necessary. We're almost certainly going to need a rental car.
  • Cash to pay the bills. We are still short on rent and other bills, and food money will be an issue soon.
We really, really need your help. Anything you can give would be greatly appreciated. If you can't give please share this. It's not just about keeping Chris alive, it's also about making sure our 3 year old has a father. If you know anything about our 3 year old you know just how important keeping his dad around will be.

Any help you can give would get us closer to Chris surviving and our lives going back to normal.

I still have a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works.

Thank you,

Mel

Monday, March 28, 2016

One Hundred Years Beyond the Rising

100 Easters past, the morning of Easter Monday 1916; with these words, read on the steps of the General Post Office...Padraig Pearse, proclaimed the free and independent Irish Republic:

...We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefeasible. 

The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people. 
In every generation the Irish people have asserted their right to national freedom and sovereignty; six times during the past three hundred years they have asserted it in arms.
Standing on that fundamental right and again asserting it in arms in the face of the world, we hereby proclaim the Irish Republic as a Sovereign Independent State.  And we pledge our lives and the lives of our comrades-in-arms to the cause of its freedom, of its welfare, and of its exaltation among the nations... 
... Signed on behalf of the Provisional Government, 
Thomas J, Clarke
Sean Mac Diarmada
Thomas MacDonagh
P.H. Pearse
Eamonn Ceannt
James Connolly
Joseph Plunkett
That day, elements of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Irish Volunteers, and the Irish Citizens Army, took control of various sites around Dublin.

They fought the forces of the British Army and Royal Irish Constabulary... 1,250 men, fighting 17,000... for five days, before being forced to surrender the following Saturday.

66 of the rebels were killed, to 143 of the British... but 260 men, women, and children were killed in the crossfire, most by British artillery and machine guns... Not intentional murder.. but rebellion is bloody business, and in the fog of war, innocent people die.

The day of the rising, the British declared martial law over all of Ireland... It would remain in force off and on for the next five years.

Within two weeks of the surrender, hundreds were imprisoned, and 16 of the republicans (including all of those who signed the proclamation) were executed by hanging, in Kilmainham Gaol...

... The same prison where the British had imprisoned and executed the leaders of the risings of 1798, 1803, 1848, and 1867...

The fighting would continue sporadically until 1919, when all Ireland entered into general civil war for two years; until 26 counties formed the Irish Free state under the Anglo-Irish treaty: December 6th, 1921... and adopted the Constitution of the Irish Free State one year later, December 6th 1922.

Ireland would not be truly free and independent... remaining as a dominion of the British Commonwealth... until December 29th, 1937, with the adoption of Irish Constitution.

Even then, Ireland still officially recognized dominion of the English crown as head of state, until Easter Monday 1949, when the Republic of Ireland was officially declared...

...33 years from the Easter Rising.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Getting closer (Chris's cancer update)

Happy Easter everyone.

Here's a progress report for you.

Chris's surgical consult is now on the 7th. His surgery may be any point after that date, hopefully soon. But since we're "local" (to a world-famous surgeon, anyone within driving distance is local) and it's time sensitive, he's at the top of the cancellation list.

Yeah, we're counting down the days.

After the surgical consult happens Chris will be further reducing his iodine intake in preparation for radiation. Either Christopher and I will need to go on the same diet and shell out for ridiculously strong iodine supplements or... well, realistically speaking we should probably still shell out for the strong iodine supplements.

We still don't have transportation, and while it's easy for me to get a ride to the grocery store, getting a ride to downtown Boston for a 9am appointment on a weekday is a little more difficult. We'll figure something out, but I may need to get a rental car.

The bills are piling up. We're short on rent for the month, plus we need to take care of tiny bills like the electric and the phones. Yaknow, the non-discretionary stuff.

... and it's Christopher's 3rd birthday tomorrow, and we're broke after paying medical and other bills. So we'll delay his birthday a bit.

But we're getting somewhere, slowly but surely.

Much thanks to everyone who has donated so far. Because of you the lights are still on, there's still a roof over our heads, we still have internet, the medical bills and insurance are paid, and we're able to eat.

We've still got a long ways to go though, and as I mentioned above, rent and other bills are still an issue this month.

I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works. Any help would be highly appreciated.

Mel

Monday, March 21, 2016

Not the best... not the brightest... just the ones who showed up...



So, are these presidential candidates the best that America can do?

No, of course not...

These are just the "best" that were actually stupid or crazy or narcissistic or power hungry enough to want the job, and then put up with the process of getting it.

The last time "the best that America can do" ran for President, his name was Thomas Jefferson.

The best that America can do... don't go into politics. They go into finance, and medicine, and engineering, and construction and development, and the actual moneymaking side of the legal profession, and they build businesses, and they do good works on their own initiative... They don't wait for government to do it.

The best that America can do serve... but they do it as cops, firemen, paramedics, soldiers, sailors, airmen, coastguardsmen, and marines.

The best that America can do, know that America isn't our politicians, and it isn't our government... It's each of us, doing our best for ourselves, our families,our brothers in arms, our companies, our communities...

... And the best that America can do... Don't want to have anything to do, with most of people we send to our capitols, and most of the "business" that gets done there... But they have to, because if they don't, then the people in those capitols won't let them do the best that they can do...

Don't ever confuse our government, or our politicians, with the best that America can do... with our actual leaders... with our communities... with the nation...

They're just the ones who wanted the job so bad they'd put up with anything to get it...

Who "Spoons" A Fuck?

"I'm all out of spoons"...

Yaknow... if it works for you, great... but I hate the spoon thing...

Yes, the concept makes sense once you explain it... but using spoons for it is just arbitrary and silly... there's no logical or metaphorical connection. It has to be explained to someone, rather then being intuitively understood, or there being a clear chain of reasoning to get there themselves.

I prefer it this way...

On a given day, I have a variable number of fucks to give.

Some days I have a lot of fucks to give. Some days not many at all... some days in between.

I don't know how many fucks I will have to give on any given day.

Sometimes I can estimate how many fucks I have to give that day, while I'm giving them, and I can manage them reasonably well.

Sometimes, I run out of fucks to give right in the middle of something, with no warning.

It takes a variable number of fucks per hour, simply to stay alive.

Some days... some hours even... that number is lower... Some much higher.

It takes a variable number of fucks to deal with pain, and stress...

...again, some days... or hours... relatively low, some days quite high.

Some days, I run out of fucks there... or even before... and there is more pain and stress that day, than I have fucks to give...

...Those are very bad days.

It takes another variable number of fucks to deal with whatever shit I absolutely must fucking deal with that day.

Some days I run out of fucks to give before I can deal with that shit.... Some days I don't.

Mostly I get around that by minimizing the stuff I absolutely MUST do, and either stack it all up for one day I can expend exceptional effort on, burning extra fucks on willpower and drugs...and then recover for several days... Or I try to spread them out and be flexible... so that I can get shit done when I have the spare fucks to give.

... a lot of times I have to have someone else give those fucks for me, or it just won't get done in time... and that really fucks me up...

Whatever fucks I may have left to expend at that point, go to whatever else there may be in this world.

First, to my wife, kids, family, friends... the people I love and care about, and who care about me...

They get all the fucks I can give them... or they can stand from me...

Then, to "leisure activities"...

...Which, since I'm way more than broke (right now I can't even pay my medical bills, keep the lights on, keep a roof over our head, or keep transportation), without a vehicle, very sick, and in a lot of pain...

... Mostly consists of reading, watching videos, and "social media"... and frankly, my focus and attention for reading has been horrible for a couple months...

... honestly, right now I can barely get through a web article and remember it at the end some days...

...Worst thing, is that for a couple months now, I can't seem to just sit and read a book to save my life (one of my favorite things in the world, and one of the very few things that relaxes me at all... and something where when Im healthy I can and will gladly read several books a day). I start reading, and I lose focus, and read the same page over and over and forget what I was reading...

... Really,.. that one... that one really fucks with me quite badly... I've been here before, and I really don't want to live through fucking "Flowers for Algernon" again... It's... Not worth it for me... and it's fucking hard to do it even for my wife and kids...

...but anyway, those fucks go to keeping my mind occupied, and amused, and distracted from the pain and the stress and everything else...

Finally, very last of all, are whatever the fucks I may have left to give for everything else...

Among the "everything else", that I have had so few fucks to give about recently...

...Taking the time, effort and energy, to bother deeply explaining things to, persuading, or arguing with other people, who don't bother making even the most basic effort at listening, learning, or thinking.

Sometimes I will still make an effort...

If those other people are worth bothering with... great... Makes me feel good, and if I help somebody learn something new, or help myself learn something, even if it's how to better present the information... spectacular... It may even replenish some of fucks to give... which is great. It's why I ever bother doing any of it at all.

Or if it amuses me... that's always worth doing...

But most of the time... it's just not worth giving a fuck...

Shit, when I really want to, I can turn people around 180, and make them think it was their own damn idea...

... But that takes a hell of a lot of giveafuck...

... and unfortunately... about most things, for most people...

....I've just run out of fucks to give.

So, unless they're someone I like or care about... or I think they may be worth it... Or I think that their particular brand of stupidity, or leaving them ignorant, would be harmful to people or things I care about... or even harmful to the world as a whole...

...Or if they annoy me enough I can't let it go...

... Or if it would amuse me to fuck with them...

...Most of the time, they're absolutely not worth wasting a fuck on.

I just don't have enough of them right now, that I can afford to waste them.

Fuck cancer... Fuck it up the ass, sideways, with a rusty chainsaw...

Friday, March 11, 2016

The situation right now (Chris's cancer update)

Some good news this week: CT scans of upper chest showed no masses or enlarged lymph nodes. The cancer has not spread past the neck.

Still Stage IV, but a much more survivable Stage IV.

Chris has a pre-surgical consult set up with one of the best endocrine surgeons in the world on April 13th, at the latest. He's also at the top of the cancellation list. His endo was mentored by the surgeon in question, so we have a direct line to getting this done.

So as soon as possible Chris is having a full neck dissection (do NOT Google that unless you can handle graphic pictures of surgeries). Then he'll have a little time to recover before a dose of I-131 (systemic radiation using radioactive iodine).

So we're talking at least a few months of Chris being completely down between the surgery and the radiation.

Now the bad news...

Chris is already down and mostly bed-bound. His lymphedema and lymphadenitis is pretty severe. His lymph fluid is backing up into his upper chest and back and is quite painful. It keeps him from sleeping as well as worsening his knee problems.

You can't really tell if you follow him on Facebook because he's already so used to being in pain. However, that means that if it involves walking, I'm the one doing it. Also because when he finally gets to sleep he needs to stay asleep, I'm handling most of the communications with the medical team.

So I'm running the household, taking care of all 5 living creatures (Chris, Christopher, doggies, and myself), and handling the medical stuff essentially single-handedly.

I'm happy to do it, since I really want my husband to live, but it's damn hard sometimes.

Chris can't work because he's totally unreliable at the moment, between pain, sleep deprivation, and the medical stuff coming up.

I can't work because if I work Christopher needs to go into daycare, and there's a high cost there. There's also the very large issue of if I'm working and Christopher goes to daycare, we risk bringing home stray viruses to Chris while he's immunocompromised. A random virus could literally KILL him right now.

So at a time where our medical costs are climbing ever higher, neither of us can work. Isn't that a kick in the head?

So yeah, we'll be hurting for a while, and we'll still need help until Chris is well enough to work again or handle child care.

But hey, we're getting somewhere and his chances of survival are very good.

I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne.com always works. Any help would be highly appreciated.

Mel

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Trump Must be Held Accountable for the Bad Actions of His Campaign

This past Tuesday, Donald Trumps campaign manager Corey Lewandowski assaulted a reporter at a press event with Trump...
...in fact right in front of him... Then he walked Trump out of the room right over the woman he knocked to the ground.
He not only physically assaulted a reporter...
...a FRIENDLY reporter no less... for asking a question he didn't like...
...An assault which was caught on audio tape, as well as witnessed, verified, attested to, and already been written about by other reporters who witnessed it...
...But for the last two days, he has directed the Trump campaigns full resources, first to deny the assault ever occurred.. but, far worse... To  attempt to discredit,  defame the character and professional reputation of, and to otherwise ruin... to destroy professionally and personally... the reporter in question.
To this end, they have made baseless accusations of fraud, professional and personal misconduct, and attention seeking. They have also had their proxies attack her relentlessly online; resorting to vile sexual innuendo, and bald faced misogyny.
Lewandowski did not do this alone... the whole campaign was directed towards trying to destroy this woman, with the full knowledge and support of Donald Trump himself.
These are not the actions of an responsible, honorable, or even sane man.
A responsible man wouldn't have done it in the first place... And were Trump a responsible man, he would have stopped, helped the woman up, apologized, and made sure his man apologized.
An honorable man would have immediately admitted fault, and apologized... and were Trump an honorable man, he would have done so, and ensured his man did so.
Even just a sane man, would have immediately made a reasonable face saving excuse, and a small and quiet apology for the "accident"... a trivial gesture to avoid trouble, as well as just the proper thing to do.
Instead, when caught and confronted with proof... these men spent two days trying to destroy the person they assaulted.
These are not the actions of sane men.
They are the actions of raving malignant narcissists, who must destroy anyone they have wronged, rather than admit even the slightest error, fault, blame, or weakness.
These are not the actions of anyone we should ever even think of allowing, anywhere near the power of the office of President... Or any kind of position of trust or responsibility.
These are men who will do anything... say anything... destroy anything... in their pursuit of power.
If Trump and his people are willing to go all out in trying to destroy a reporter, to avoid admitting a relatively small mistake, and making a trivial apology... What would they do if they made a major mistake... if people died... What could possibly be beyond limits to them?
Lewandowski, and Trump stand equally guilty, and equally responsible. If Trump had apologized or fired him Tuesday, or Yesterday, or today... If he hadn't allowed the smear campaign to happen...he could perhaps distance himself from it... Instead, he chose instead to put his full support into trying to destroy the woman.
And now... they both must face the consequences.
Lewandowski must be terminated immediately, expelled from the Republican party, and barred from participating any Republican party campaign; as must anyone in the Trump campaign, who participated in the attempt to destroy this reporter.
Trump must admit his staff and campaigns bad actions immediately, take full personal responsibility, and apologize personally to the reporter; as well as to the witnesses to the event, their media organizations, and most importantly to the American people.
If he does not, then he must be censured by the party, barred from participating in any Republican party events or activities, and from campaigning as a Republican, or for any Republican position or nomination; until such time as he takes responsibility and makes his public apologies.
If he refuses to admit any responsibility or fault, and does not apologize at all... or worse, the campaign continues these attacks in any way... he must be expelled from the party, and removed from any consideration for nomination for any elective position as a Republican candidate.
This is no longer about a campaign manager being too pushy... This is about the integrity of the American political process; the honor, integrity, and legitimacy of the Republican party; and our honor and legitimacy as a nation.
We cannot allow someone who would do such a thing to represent us, in any way, ever.
We are better than this.

Update: A video has surfaced clearly showing the assault, and Corey Lewandowski has been arrested on charges of Battery, but the Trump campaign has doubled down; now instead of claiming that it didn't happen, that instead, Lewandowski was protecting Trump from assault by Fields. 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Update on Chris

Chris is really, really sick.

If you see him on Facebook that might not be clear. He still rants and argues with the best of them.

However he's exhausted all of the time and sleep in elusive because of his pain level. His pain level was high to begin with; lymphedema makes it much worse.

He's also pretty much housebound because of immunodeficiency. Actually mostly bed bound. Most of the time when he's asleep it's during the day when Christopher and I are up.

Yeah. it's a pretty unhappy situation,

Because of the weird schedules and the pain I've become the default contact for the doctors and nurses, as well as handling everything inside the household, everything outside of the household, and of course child care.

It's a very high stress situation.

But we're going to work through it. We're in contact with the endocrinologist AND the surgeon (ever call the main number for a world-renowned surgeon and actually get the surgeon? I have.) Things are moving along.

We're still short some pretty necessary stuff, like access to a vehicle that's not an ungodly expensive rental and a lack of furniture for the basement for Chris's isolation. We'll get there too.

Thank you for all of your support. We'll still need more but we appreciate how quickly you guys have been able to prop up our finances.

Unfortunately we're nowhere near our goal yet, so I must keep asking for help.

I've got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal using chris@chrisbyrne.com always works too.

Thanks all,

Mel

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Murphy, thy name is cancer recurrence

So...

Been putting off writing this for a while, because I keep trying to find ways to get around writing it up, but...

We are totally financially hosed.

Everything we've tried, every lead we've followed, every single bloody idea I've had to get us through the next 6 months financially has failed. And that's been a lot of ideas.

But the reality is Chris can't work, he's too sick. I can't work, I've got Chris and Christopher to take care of and any pay I'd get would get turned into paying for daycare and a nurse.

We have no vehicle, minimal furniture, and medical insurance premiums and deductibles and bills to pay.

And I somehow need to keep myself sane, despite being spread so mentally, emotionally, and physically thin that I'm practically transparent. My hair is even falling out in clumps. It's not good.

Oh, and CHRIS HAS CANCER AND WILL DIE IF WE CAN'T TAKE CARE OF IT AND REDUCE HIS STRESS LOAD.

So yeah, the prognosis for getting through the cancer is good, if we can make it that far. If, if, if.

Because we're really up shit creek without a paddle at this point.

So I need to ask for help, and any amount of help would be appreciated.

I've got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal using chris@chrisbyrne.com always works too.

Thank you,

Mel

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

The early 2016 gaming sweetspot?

So, theoretically AMD is "getting serious about desktop gaming CPUs again"... which is hilarious to me, since they haven't BEEN serious about any kind of desktop or consumer performance for 10 years now.

But it got me thinking about the current state of desktop gaming, and what the current price performance optimums are...

And I was actually kind of surprised...

Because it looks right now, that the "sweet spot" is right where it was about 18 months ago... only it's cheaper...

Right now, the sweetspot in gaming GPU price/performance is still the GTX970... which has been out since the middle of 2014.

You can get a really good gtx970 for $300-350 right now... The lower performing Radeon r9 290x is still over $400, and as high as $500, and the even lower performaing r9-290 is just touching $350.

And GTX980s, are still $500.

On CPU's the price performance equation is certainly more complicated...

First question for CPU is actually not about CPU, it's about RAM... and then motherboards.

Do you want a DDR4 machine or not... 16gb ddr4 runs $85 to $100 right now for 2400mhz or 2700mhz, and more like $115 to $125 for 3000mhz. 16gb of good high performance DDR3 is more like $85 flat for 3000mhz.

More importantly though, the best ddr4 mobos are a bit more expensive, and the best performing DDR3 is actually faster in some ways than DDR4... and more overclocking stable, with more options of overclocking motherboards etc... though that won't be the case for long, and the very best mobos are now DDR4.

I'd probably go for DDR4 to futureproof... but really, the price performance right now isn't definitive. And if you want to overclock, DDR3 may still be a better choice.

For DDR4 gaming boards... basically you've got three price points... $170 $270, and $370.

So... you've got options for socket 1151, and socket 2011... the socket 2011 options obviously being the more expensive, and taking the more expensive CPUs.

Right now, I'd still go with an 1151... Though a lot of people are doing Xeon gaming right now, I still think your best option and best value is with an i7, and the skylake based Xeons are now on the 1151 anyway.

For DDR3, you can still go for LGA1150 boards, and basically pay whatever you want. $50 to $400, with really good boards in the $150 to $200 range.

And the best value for performance in an i7, is actually probably still an older i7 like a 4790 or 4790k from 2014... at $300-310ish and $330-340ish respectively.

If you want the new skylake, the i7-6700 will run about 50-60 more and a 6700k unlocked will run $420ish.

.. but guess what... clocked the same, on the same speed RAM... they benchmark out at about the same... with the 4790 actually slightly edging out the skylake in some things.

... and overclocked to their maximum, the 4790k will out perform the 6700k in a lot of benchmarks... though some of that is simply that the boards and ram are better worked out.

So, to my mind, the gaming sweetspot right now is:

cpu: i7 4790k $330
Board: any decent gaming 1150 board $150
RAM: any decent 3000mhz gaming ram $85
GPU: any decent gtx970 $300

That's $865 for the core components, that would be variable among gaming builds. The rest... case, psu, ssd... is all the same, and based on personal preference more than anything else.

Oh and before you ask, no, there is no AMD option worth bothering with at this point, unless you're trying to build a much cheaper system.

If you want to be more current and future proof

cpu: i7-6700k $420
Board: decent gaming 1151 board $170
RAM: decent 3000mhz gaming ram $125
GPU: any decent gtx970 $300

$1015... about $150 more than the DDR3 system.

Is it worth the difference... ehhhh.... Performance wise, probably not... But getting into a DDR4 platform with an 1151 socket... Especially if you're thinking about going higher end on the board, with an NVME-SSD... yeah, probably.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Simple Question

So... hardcore drug warriors out there... I have a very simple question for you...

Why?

You can't stop people from getting high. It's NOT POSSIBLE.

It literally does not matter how far you go, you cannot stop it.

We can't stop heroin from getting into supermax prisons, where there are no visitors allowed, and everyone is body searched in and out.

I just had a dedicated drug warrior fully sincerely advocate that we completely seal the border, and that every vehicle, container, and person should be fully cavity searched.

When I pointed out that cavity searches didn't stop heroin from getting in to supermax prisons, he said that we need to have full walls on all the borders, and boats to patrol the coastlines to stop smugglers.

You can't stop people from getting high. This is not an issue of sealing the borders.

Even if you actually sealed the borders successfully, then they would just grow it here.

How exactly would you stop that?

It would require constantly patrolling millions of acres of property, searching all greenhouses, and all forests, and all fields of any kind of anything, at least once every 90 days... in the entire country.

Doing so... aside from the massive violations of peoples rights, would require millions of law enforcement officers dedicated to it.

That would cost more than the entire budget of the United State by the way.

Even if you manage to completely eradicate all opium poppies, and all coca plants on the planet, they will just synthesize it in labs... and by labs, I mean, any quiet room with an electrical outlet, or anywhere you can run a generator, or a blow torch.

If you completely ban all substances that people could get high with, you ban thousands of legal products with legitimate and critical uses, including a huge number of critical medications.

You also have to ban all lab equipment, or closely license and track its sale. And all chemicals of all kind... and many kinds of foods. And most kinds of flowers.

And all machine tools, and glass blowing equipment... and blow torches, and pipes and tubes and sand...

And you'll have to dig out and burn out millions and millions of acres of plants.

We have 7,500 miles of border. We have 13,000 miles of coastline.

You can make it a death penalty offense to posses, sell, or use drugs, or get high. Many countries do in fact... and people still get high.

This dedicated drug warrior said that it didn't matter what it took, it didn't matter what it cost... It didn't matter if it wouldn't work at all... That we had to do it anyway.

When I asked why, he said:

"Because to do otherwise would be to surrender"

Then I asked "Surrender what? To who?"

He said "Surrender to the junkies and the dealers"

I asked "Surrender what?"

He refused to answer.

And again I asked "Why"

He refused to answer.

I said "You're advocating a police state, in order to stop people from getting high. Why?"

He refused to answer.

So... I have a very simple question for you...

You cannot possibly stop people who want to get high, from getting high.

You can't make it illegal enough. You can't ban or control enough. It's not possible... you have to know that it isn't possible..

Prohibition PROVED beyond all possibility of doubt that it's impossible.

The last 45 years of the war on drugs have proved beyond all possibility of doubt that it's impossible.

Maximum security prisons prove beyond all possibility of doubt that it's impossible.

But you still think we have to do it... No matter what it takes... No matter the harm it causes... No matter what rights get violated...No matter how much power it gives the state. No matter how much it costs...

Why?

It's a really simple question...

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Eternally Meaningless Caliber Wars

It's funny... as caliber wars become more pointless, they become more vocal and partisan...

This seems to actually be BECAUSE the data show the differential between chamberings is small, and has been getting smaller for decades. As datasets get larger, data and data analysis get better, and as ammunition gets better, the differences between common defensive pistol chamberings are progressively smaller, and less meaningful.

Pistols are Pistols, and Rifles are Rifles.

We have a saying "pistols are pistols, and rifles are rifles"; which means that the difference between reasonable defensive pistol chamberings is small, and effectively meaningless, compared to the difference between pistols, and long guns; both shotguns and rifles.

Compared to rifles, pistols are lost in the noise... and looking at the variability between different rifle chamberings, the differences can be greater than most powerful reasonable defensive pistol chamberings, and nothing at all.

In fact... if we just look at muzzle energy numbers, there can be greater variability within a single chambering.. say, something like subsonic .300blackout, and high velocity .300blackout, with something like 900ftlbs of energy difference between them, and the most powerful reasonable defensive pistol chamberings, such as hot and heavy .357 magnum, at something like 750ftlbs.

Pistols are pistols, and rifles are rifles. 

When there were thought to be larger differences, one could have clear advantages and disadvantages which could be argued. When the differences are small, it comes down to preference, individual performance, and small optimizations. Now, there can be no clear differentiation.

Because pistols are pistols, and rifles are rifles.

So, the caliber wars rage on

The most recent "major shakeup" has commenced, as many law enforcement agencies ( who moved to .40 and .45 in the late 90s and 2000s, after a series of notable failures in effectiveness of 9mm in the 80s and early 90s) have decided to move back to 9mm.

This is happening, because both ballistic testing, and empirical shooting data, show very little difference in effectiveness with modern high performance ammunition.

9mm has always had a few fairly significant advantages... and these are not controversial... that were thought to be offset by its reduced effectiveness compared to .40 and .45. It costs substantially less, it's smaller and lighter (more rounds in the same size, or smaller and lighter with the same round count); and smaller officers, and those who are less skilled with firearms, and who practice less, generally shoot better with it.

Since police generally open carry, large "duty" pistols, and in general are not good shots, who don't get to train very much, and don't have much money for ammo when training; and because there are more and more women and smaller officers on police forces, 9mm is at its greatest position of advantage, in police duty pistols.

With the data showing that modern high performance ammunition gives little or no effective difference between 9mm, .40, and .45; there is really no reason for police duty weapons NOT to move back to 9mm, and some good reasons to do so.

And so 9mm partisans in the non-police shooting world, believe they have scored a final victory over the dark forces of the .45acp.

... this war having been going on literally for over 100 years now by the way; the chamberings having been been developed in 1901 and 1904 respectively, and having first fought on opposite sides of world war one...

Of course, the police duty carry mission, is different from the many different concealed and open carry missions that non-police defensive pistol carriers have.

So the "decisive victory" is nothing of the sort... it's just another set of data points.

There's caliber wars, and there's actual reasonable argument with data.

Most people wouldn't know what the second is, never mind the third.

... Presuming modern premium defensive JHP ammunition, without restrictions...

Basically there is between a 10%-20% or so spread of expected effectiveness between .380+p and .45+p, depending on exactly which data you look at, presuming a human in standard street clothes, and no barrier penetration. About a 10% spread from 9mm (standard pressure) to .45+p and less than 5% from 9mm+p to .45+p... so...

When you factor in things like heavy clothing, barrier penetration and the like, the numbers get even more murky, and less reliable, and less useful...

Effectively, the differences between reasonable defensive chamberings don't matter.

20% is worth debating... 10% maybe... but not really too much, 5% really not at all. It's margin of error, a slight optimization, or a personal preference.

Is it worth upgrading from .380 to 9mm...?

...Sure, if you can shoot it just as well, and carry it just as well... 

Is it worth "upgrading to" .45...?

...Sure, if you can shoot it and carry it just as well...

...and you don't mind 2 or so fewer rounds in the same size package.

Is it worth "downgrading" to 9mm...?

...Sure if you can shoot and carry it just as well...

...and you want the 2 or so more rounds in the same size package.

What about .40?

It almost exactly splits the difference between .45 and 9mm, with none of the advantages of either, and all the disadvantages of both really... With modern ammunition, it's really no longer worth considering (except as a smaller version of 10mm, or the basis for .357sig), except "because I feel like it" or "because I shoot it well"... But it's also probably not worth trading or selling it for either 9mm or .45acp if you like it.

Functionally, the spectrum of defensive chamberings between 9mm+p and .45+p make no difference.

So... what DOES make a difference, and how much?

Ehh... not much, and not much...

Basically, a tiny bit with .357sig and a slight advantage with .357magnum and 10mm... and I don't consider .45lc and and .44magnum to be reasonable defensive chamberings for most people (they're effective, but they're bigger, more expensive, harder to shoot, and harder to carry than most will ever bother with).

There's a little bit of an advantage to .357sig, light .357 mag, and light 10mm over .45acp +p... maybe 5%.

There a slightly bigger advantage to medium .357mag and medium 10mm... a little more than 5% to maybe 10%

There's a slightly bigger advantage to hot .357mag and hot 10mm... a little more than 10% to maybe a little more than 15%, or even 20% under some circumstances (particularly with barrier penetration, and with tougher animals than humans).

However, for all of those upgrades, you get higher cost, more recoil, and its more difficult to shoot well...

In the case of medium and heavy 10mm and .357 in lighter easier to carry guns, it can actually be physically painful to shoot, and most people can't shoot them well at all.

Is it worth the upgrade to magnum class chamberings like these? 

Sure, if you can carry and shoot them just as well, don't mind the extra recoil and the extra cost.

Getting the picture here...?

It's not about the chambering... because pistols are pistols...


It's really about how well you can shoot, and carry the gun, in your chosen chambering... and in personal preference, and in small optimizations for particular missions.

So, what do I choose? What do I recommend?

I'm a really big guy, who can carry almost any sized gun reasonably comfortably. I live in a rural, cold, northern state, and at times have had to deal with wild animals.

Most importantly for my chambering selection, I shoot heavy recoiling guns pretty well, and the differences in recoil between 9mm+p and light .357 and 10mm are basically meaningless to me; with only a slight disadvantage to medium and heavy .357 and 10mm loads.

My pocket carry guns are a 5 shot .357 revolver, and a 7 shot .380... I like how both of them carry, and I can empty them both into a 4" or smaller circle at 10 or less yards with deliberate fire, and an 8" or smaller circle as fast as I can recover each shot... though neither have much in the way of sights.

Once I got the small .357 revolver, I pretty much stopped bothering carrying the .380 frankly, because I can shoot the .357 as well, it's no heavier, it carries just as well, and it's more reliable. I occasionally carry the .380, particularly in shorts, because it's a little flatter and slimmer... but that's really it.

My belt carry guns right now, are all 3-5" barreled 7-9 round .45 and 10mm 1911s... But at times have been 7 to 16 round 9mm, .40, and .357sig, and .357 magnum I've never felt insufficiently armed with any of them. I have never felt over armed with any of them. Though a couple have been a little bigger or heavier than ideal.

I don't feel that an 8 round .45 1911 is significantly more or less effective, for my personal defensive needs and missions, than a 13 round 9mm Browning hi-power. I happen to own a couple of good 1911s in .45 and 10mm that I like... I happen to have sold all my 9mm pistols a few years ago, including my 2 BHPs, expecting that I'd buy more, but I haven't been in a position to do so.

The only ones that I thought were in any meaningful way more effective, were the .357 magnums, and the 10mm, in both of which I carried loads suitable to heavier animals than people, because I lived in the north Idaho mountains. If I had to dispatch an elk or a moose, or god forbid deal with a bear, I wanted 158gr to 180gr at 1250-1350fps... The biggest advantages I could get in pistols that I felt like carrying every day, and could shoot well.

... and really... it's only a small advantage...

Because Pistols are Pistols, and Rifles are Rifles. 

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Lessons From the Well Spouse - The Types Of People You Run Into While Treating Cancer

For the longest time I've held on to the draft of the post you're reading now and since we're starting Chris Has Cancer Round 2, I thought maybe it was time to finish the post. True to form we've seen all of these types again, plus some new types that either we didn't have in our lives at the time or have sprung up since.

The Mostly Benign


The Know-It-All Who Knows Nothing: this person is the instant expert on your condition, despite not actually knowing anything about it. Easily identified by their blanket statements and complete inability to do any medical research, they will gladly tell you how "natural foods will cure any cancer" or "you should try *insert current medical fad here*". Most of their medical knowledge will be gleaned from Facebook. Assess their intentions (most of them are actually trying to help) and if you need to use to magic words, "thanks, I will totally look into that".

The Misinformed Overgeneralizer - this person heard "cancer" and has no clue that not only are there many, many different types of cancer but also that the treatments are highly specialized and not universal. Usually their first comment is along the lines of "omg are you gonna lose your hair?" Generally considered benign, they are sometimes worth educating or at least worth throwing a few search terms to set them on the right path.

The Person Who Can't Use Google - sometimes a variant of the Misinformed Overgeneralizer, they are willing to admit their ignorance. However, they will expect *you* to explain everything to them. This person's opinion automatically does not matter, and depending on how much you give a shit about them you can spend the time to explain or you can tell them to Google it for themselves.

The Math-Impaired - this person doesn't understand odds, survival rates, or any statistics whatsoever. Prone to coming to the wrong conclusion or falling for spurious medical studies (they don't understand the concept of sample size at all) they will come to an understanding of the situation that's either overly pessimistic or overly optimistic. Best ignored.

The Story Teller - this person is usually suffering from the need to say something but not knowing what to say. They will typically try to find common ground, and will sometimes succeed if they're a survivor or close to a survivor. However most of the time they will fall flat on their faces. The stories will run from reasonable attempt ("my aunt had a cancer kind of like that and she survived") to the distressing ("my brother just died from _____ cancer, it was horrible") to the utterly insulting ("my dog had prostate cancer so I totally know what you're going through.") Generally these people are at least trying to do the right thing, so you can at least smile and nod.

The Stunned and Wordless - self-explanatory. These people will mumble "I'm so sorry" when they get their wits back. They're benign, they just have no clue what to do.


The Road to Hell is Paved with These Guys


The Blamer - Monsanto, pollution, the American Diet, chemicals in our food, chemtrails - this person is certain your cancer is caused by *something*. Their intention is generally to help, though their speeches don't actually do anything but annoy the hell out of you.

The Fixer - diet, juice cleanse, exercise, meditation, hypnotherapy, acupuncture - this person puts their trust in everything other than modern Western medicine. They will argue with you over the best treatment for their condition while (unironically, somehow) telling you that surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy will kill you. Sometimes they're right in that some people die from the treatments but they completely ignore the very important fact that an untreated malignant cancer will generally kill you much faster.

The Fixer, Religious Variant - pray enough and it will go away, have enough faith and God will heal you. You will somehow resist the urge to tell them that yes, God has answered your prayers and He will heal you... with the help of your cancer treatment team.

The Fixer, Cannabis Variant - do I really need to explain this one?

The Saint-Makers and Pedestal Builders - yes, they intend it as a compliment when they say "bless you, I could never manage keep calm and carry on in your circumstances". They honestly don't understand that it's really lonely up on that pedestal, and that you don't really want to feel superhuman at the moment, and that you really, REALLY don't want to think of your situation as that bad and unmanageable. These guys will take the wind out of your sails without knowing it, so do your best to accept it as a compliment and remember that if they were in your position they'd probably buck up and manage too.


The Narcissists


The Suddenly Absent - this person used to be a friend but suddenly dropped off the face of the planet when you told everyone the news. This fair-weather friend can't handle the discomfort or you no longer serve their purposes. Either way you're better off without them.

The More Distressed Than Thou - this person is not close to the patient or otherwise impacted by the cancer but somehow has FOUND A WAY to be more upset over the news than you are. There may be hysterics, sobbing, rending of garments or other displays of extreme emotion and those displays will be calculated to get the most attention possible. Sometimes they will suck you into comforting *them*. Avoid them at all costs.

The Conspiracy Theorist - an odd mix of the Blamer and the Fixer, this person should be benign. They're not. In all of their ranting about how Monsanto gave you the cancer and Big Pharma is hiding the universal cancer cure in a bid to get more money, they are actually demonstrating their ability to not be sheeple and not be brainwashed. Congratulations, you are now a character in their latest narrative about how The Man is killing us all.

The Nihilist - "If I were you I'd just kill myself and get it over with." Gee, thanks for that vote of confidence! This person will sap your will to live as they prove to themselves that life isn't worth living.

The Fault-Finder - this person invariably is an adherent to *some* sort of religion or dogma and needs to find the reason that you, personally, are going through cancer, Their reason is usually a variation of their concept of sin. God is smiting you personally for your sins, you smoked or did drugs, you're not a vegan, you're not eating organic, any reason will do. As long as they can come up with some reason why you're sick that's your fault they can avoid the uncomfortable truth that cancer could happen to them, too.

The Doers and the Helpers


The Doctor/ Nurse/ Medically Inclined - this person asks for specifics and either knows about the condition or runs off and does their own research. They can help you with resources, tell you where to find studies or clinical trials, vet your docs, give you tips, and otherwise help with the medical part of things. They can range from totally benign to totally helpful and give you real advice like how to find advocates, how to treat the nurses, who to talk to, and how to fight with insurance.

The Truly Empathetic - this person will listen to you rant, give you a shoulder to cry on, and otherwise be a support as best they can.

The Helper - like the Truly Empathetic they want to help you, but may not know what to say. Instead they'll show up and clean your house, bring you meals, visit you at the hospital, watch your kids, do your laundry, and otherwise help you with keeping life together.

The Avenger - this person lost someone to cancer and WILL NOT LET CANCER WIN AGAIN DAMNIT. Will do as much as they can to help you have a positive outcome, including all sorts of medical, mental, emotional, physical, and logistical support.

The Survivor - like the Truly Empathetic and the Helper they can be an invaluable resource and support, but unlike the Truly Empathetic or the Helper their knowledge of how to get through comes from real experience, either their own or from going through cancer with someone really close to them. They are the Tribe you will become part of for the rest of your life.


Mel


Thursday, December 31, 2015

So... its a bad news good news kind of thing...

God I had hoped I'd never have to write something like this...

The bad news, is that I definitely have either a recurrence, or additional metastasis, of cancer... Either way, this still counts as stage 4, as it has spread to multiple systems.

The cancer appears to be in at least one of my parathyroids, and at least 8 of the lymph nodes, around my thyroid bed (left and right sides, and bottom at least... and its likely to have spread to most or all of the anterior cervical and superclavicular nodes). Most of the enlarged nodes are under 1.5cm, but at least one of them is grossly enlarged to over 2.5cm, and at least one parathyroid is grossly enlarged as well.

So yeah... technically, I have stage 4 metastatic lymphocytic cancer...

That's pretty bad.

The GOOD news is that it doesn't seem to have had any distant or systemic lymphocytic metastasis, or metastasis outside the typical local spread common to these kinds of cancers.

The BEST news... It doesn't seem to be either of the two REALLY bad varieties of cancer that it could have been (there are strongly negative indicators saying it isnt).

If it was one of those, it would be effectively untreatable, and I'd have a few months left to live on the outside.

It's HIGHLY unlikely to be either of those, based on existing blood test results, and general evaluation of the current diagnostic data. This will be confirmed with pathology on the tumors, and further blood tests.

So, yesterday afternoon, I had FIVE FNA biopsies (somewhat uncomfortable having needles stuck into your neck over and over again... and it stays uncomfortable for a coupel days), and more blood tests; to narrow down what the cancer subtype and pathology are exactly.

Once we have that nailed down, I"ll get more imaging to ensure it hasnt spread further (there's a moderate probability it may have spread to some of the nodes in my chest as and a small chance it could be in my liver or in other areas).

It could still be one of several moderately bad types of cancer, or a greater than anticipated metastasis; with as little as a 40% positive short term and 25% positive long term prognosis... but that seems unlikely at this point.

Most likely, I have something like a 75% to 92% positive short term (1 to 5 year) prognosis, and a 40% to 80% positive long term (5 to 10 year) prognosis.

So that's good.

I'll write more later...