Friday, December 30, 2016

Fuck you 2016

So yeah... This year has been GREAT. 2016's newest victim is our only vehicle.

Can't get the Blazer out of the driveway... Find out the battery is close to dead, go to pop the hood to check the belts and jump start and THE HOOD WON'T OPEN.

On top of something that is making a grinding noise, several warning lights, needing a brake job, and needing ICE TIRES.

Oh, did I mention I was headed to the post office to MAIL OFF OUR INSURANCE PREMIUM SO WE CAN TREAT MY HUSBAND'S CANCER?!?!?!

Yeah... We need a new truck. Can we afford a new truck, and rent, and bills? Of course we can't. Do we need a truck to do things like get to the frickin cancer center for treatment and the pharmacy and the bank and to get food? Yes, yes we do.

Will getting the Blazer fixed cost as much as getting another vehicle? Yes, yes it will.


Fuck you 2016, fuck you very much.

I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to always works.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

You've got to be kidding me...

I set up the premiums on Chris's health insurance to automatically come out of our account.

Guess what never got processed?

Guess what has therefore not been working since August?

Guess what just got canceled?


I wasn't notified that the auto pay wasn't working, that we were behind, or any of it. And with all of the medical bills coming out, it got lost in the shuffle.

To make it even better, since it's a Marketplace plan, the insurance company can't fix it, I have to go through the Marketplace. Thanks ACA, for making this so much worse than it already was.

So... I've got to appeal to the marketplace for retroactive coverage, AND make a balloon payment for said coverage, if I can ever catch the phone lines at a time where the wait isn't 2 hours...


Oh, and there went all of my plans for Christmas, because huge balloon payment. Christmas was barely going to exist as it was, now it's just not going to happen.

Because now, in order to not become responsible for $300k in medical bills over the past 4 month, we must pay 4 months of premiums, which we can't really do, because...

Chris is in a lot of pain while the nerves in his lower back and butt come back online, and there are meds I MUST pick up for him so he's not in screaming agony, so he can continue to work and not feel like a burden, and so he can continue recovering and we can continue getting back on our feet, and just...

So close. We were so close to being through this. Chris has been working 10+ hour days so we have the cash to catch up and pay the back bills and we were so close to breaking even...

But I've got meds to pay the discounted cash price for, and I must pick up so Chris can keep from screaming, and then 4 months of insurance premiums to pay, assuming my appeal is successful and they'll let me pay. So thousands of dollars going out almost immediately, so we don't pay $300k.

Thousands we don't have, even taking Christmas off the table.

There's a reason I've been sobbing off and on all day. If I don't get this fixed, we're horribly screwed, despite doing everything we could to keep this from happening.

So I really must ask for help, so we can avoid being completely screwed.

Anything would help.

The aforementioned GoFundMe is still up and running, and PayPal to always works.

Thanks all,


Monday, December 05, 2016

Wideners Primer on Smokeless powder

Wideners has been serving the needs of serious shooters and reloaders for about as long as modern shooting has existed.
They've produced this primer on smokeless powder, that will be of interest to you, whether you're a beginner or a veteran reloader.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Quarter Ride

Took the boy to the grocery store. There's two doors to the grocery store, and next to one of them is one of those quarter ride machines, this time a horse. Which is why I never use that entrance.

Well, Christopher spotted it at the beginning of the shopping and of course wanted a ride. I almost always have a pile of quarters in my purse, and we're working on delayed gratification, so I told him if he behaved in the store he could have a ride.

Check out. He fulfilled his part of the deal, so we walk put the door to fulfill my part...

There's a youngish couple there, with a 3 year old or so little boy. Waiting with their cart full of groceries.

Chronic poverty and hardship leave marks, if you know where to look, and they were definitely marked.

As I put Christopher on the ride, the mother watched with a total look of sadness and guilt. The little boy watched with a look of envy, sadness, and resignation. A family in which life was so hard that a quarter couldn't be found or spared.

I know how both sides of that equation feels, and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

After the boy was done, I pulled another quarter out of my purse, handed it to the mother, and said "I've been there."

The music for the ride started up as I walked away.


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Another post surgical update

For those of you not following along on Facebook, this is Chris's description of things after rhabdomyolysis:

" So... The condition of my legs post rhabdo.... Really very doubleplusungood.

A significant fraction... almost 1/3 overall, and in some areas more than half, of my muscle tissue, has died or is damaged so badly it might as well be.

Fluid pockets are all over my legs, ass, back, and behind my knees. Some of them quite swollen and distended, some looser and wrinkly.

A shallow feel of the muscles  and they're... Well, they're either not there at all, or they're spongy and limp. Zero muscle tone at all, and rubbing and squeezing hard... the muscle tissue doesnt feel like muscle at all... more like... yarn, soaked in water.

I started massaging my left earlier thigh and calf earlier... and any time I went the slightest bit hard, it was like electric shocks from the pressure of my fingers. I tried using a vibrating massager, and I literally couldn't stand the nerve pain...

... so I guess it's healing a little at least...

I think I'm going to need surgery to correct the skin at some point... I know I will on my belly. I may need surgery to deal with the fluid pockets if they don't even out and drain on their own... and I may still end up having more muscle damage, never mind constantly having to do PT to avoid atrophy, or healing contracture.

Oh and yeah... that's where the itch is worst.... but pain drowns it out."

But there is good news. He's dropping excess water weight from edema and lymphedema very quickly, and he's regaining some mobility. He's still bedridden though.

He's got a PT nurse visiting twice a week to help him recover.

He's working this week, which helps immensely.

His pain is mostly under control.

We've managed to get the major medical devices he needs bought and paid for, and we've mostly adapted.

That being said there's still some challenges ahead. We need to get our vehicle fixed (minor problems like an ABS sensor and similar issues), inspected, and renewed by the end of the month. We need to get out heating oil topped up. We need to catch up on bills in general. We're close, but not quite there.

And then radiation will be soon, and that's going to be a fairly costly endeavor in terms of logistics (and really underscores the need for the vehicle to be fixed and legal).

So we still need some help. And anything would help.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to always works. Also, if anyone has any winter clothes for a little boy in 4T or kids VHS lying around and would like to find a home for them, please email me at melody dot Byrne at Gmail dot com.

Thanks all,


Monday, October 31, 2016

The Worlds Most Practical Drunkards

I believe it fair to say, the British are the worlds most practical drunkards.

How so? 

Allow me to provide just one of many possible examples, which would tend to bear my thesis out:

The British were, in their time, the most thoroughgoing and successful imperialists the world had seen since Xerxes and Alexander (and by some measures, one might even say the most succesful of all time, without exception); controlling colonies, territories, and other posessions, in every corner of this good earth.

As it happens, the greatest fraction of these many jewels of empire, were located in tropical climes.

Being native to a few cool, damp, and windy isles, adrift between the north and Irish seas; the British peoples, were not notably tolerant of the extremely hot and humid conditions prevailing in these tropical regions. Nor did they posess notable natural resistance, to the many, varied... and it must be said, most unpleasant... diseases and maladies endemic to them

This however, did not appreciably deter the British from sending many of their best and brightest young men (or at least those rich enough to buy an officers comission, or secure a place in colonial service, or the EITC)... along with a few of those who managed to survive previous such assignments and adventures, and reach middle age; to govern them (which is to say, govern both the tropical colonies, and the young men in question... I will leave the determination of which was the greater challenge, to the reader).

This of course had the entirely predictable result of mortality rates for those posted to the tropics, often exceeding one in four. In fact, there were years in which some postings, suffered as many as seven in ten men, lost to these terrible ailments.

Still... Being British, and having a surplus of second, third, and fourth sons in the officer classes in those years...

...(and there always being an excess of the lower classes (men, women, and children) unable to find gainful employment in the home islands; there was no lack of those in Britain willing to serve as common soldiers, or take contracts of indentured service for 5 or 10 years, in order to seek better fortune in the colonies.

And of course, there was never a shortage of those convicted of minor criminal offences, such as stealing less than 10 shillings {that being a half pound, or about two weeks wages for a common laborer... about $1,000 today. Stealing more than 10 shillings meant a long prison term. Stealing more than 5 pounds, meant hanging}, failing to pay ones debts, incorrigible drunkenness, vagrancy, prostitution, or being Irish; who could be involuntarily transported to the colonies for a term of labor)...

...the frightful casualty rates did not give pause to the colonial administrators (or more importantly, the governors of the East India Trading Company). It only served to double, and redouble their efforts to find ways to prevent, and treat these illnesses.

After only 200 or so years of mass casualties... nothing of great importance... by the early 1800s, it was accepted that daily prophylactic treatment with tincture of quinchona bark... quinine...  would help prevent and treat these diseases, particularly the most common of them (and the one that killed the most people... and still does today), malaria.

Further, it was found to be more effective when combined with tincture of red willow bark...acetylsalicylic acid, aka aspirin... which helped reduce fevers, headaches, and other complaints and maladies of the joints and muscles.

Both tinctures are quite bitter however, and prone to upsetting ones stomach, particularly in the strengths necessary to be effective in resisting and treating tropical diseases.

Mixing these tinctures with a fair bit of sugar... thankfully common in the tropical colonies... helped make them more palatable, though still not pleasant tasting.

Diluting a spoonful of the resulting mixture, into a few ounces of water and bicarbonate of soda, or otherwise carbonated "soda water", tends to buffer the mixture; eliminating any tendency to upset ones stomach, and producing a healthful tonic, aiding in one's digestion.

Speaking of water... Of course, the heat and humidity being what they are in the tropics, one must always guard against dehydration, and heat stroke. To avoid this, it is advisable to sit in shady and cool areas, and drink plenty of water, preferably mixed with some of the vitamins and minerals that we lose through exertion and sweating.

It is even more important to stay hydrated when one is ill, and the tropical diseases under discussion, tend to cause extreme fluid and mineral loss, due to their unpleasant symptoms and side effects.

Unfortunately, lacking natural resistance to local waterborne pathogens, water in those regions was often not safe for the British to drink untreated; and in fact, drinking such water untreated proved to be one of the infection vectors for the unpleasant tropical diseases in question.

Thankfully, it was found that mixing local water with 80 proof alcohol (preferably alcoholic infusions of medicinal herbs and spices, such as juniper and various other various berries, citrus, rosemary, anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander), to a concentration of at least 12% alcohol by volume, generally proved sufficient to sanitize the water, rendering it safe to drink.

Such alcoholic infusions also proved to mix well in similar proportion with the previously mentioned healthful carbonated tonic, contrasting it's bitterness, with a sweet, citrusy, and herbaceous character, which proved much more pleasant to drink; though still not quite right yet...

At that time, British people were not in the habit of regularly eating much in the way of fresh fruit or vegetables, as their native islands had a relatively short growing season, and comparatively few hardy native species suited to it, which could last rhrough the winter and spring months (either fresh or preserved). And of course, they also had long sea journeys to reach the tropics; during which such foodstuffs were unavailable.

This lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, in turn often led to several other deficiencies and diseases, most notable scurvy.

However, around the same time our healthful tonic came into common use, it was also confirmed that the juice of limes (and other citrus fruits of course, but limes were the easiest to grow or purchase, and stored the longest without spoiling ) provided one with the nutritive elements necessary to prevent and treat these deficiences and diseases, including scurvy.

As a further benefit, it was found that the juice of citrus fruits, when mixed with water and a little sugar, make a lovely tasting, and quite refreshing beverage; which is more effective than water alone at preventing and treating dehydration, heat stroke, and the... other unpleasant gastrointestinal effects shall we say... of tropical diseases.

Thus, a concoction of gin, tonic, and lime, mixed in proper proportion, and drunk at least twice daily, preferably in a cool shady spot with a nice breeze; serves to refresh ones thirst, aid in one's digestion, prevent and treat malaria and other tropical diseases, as well as prevent and treat heat stroke, dehydration, scurvy, headache, fever, aches and pains of the muscles and joints, and other such ailments as one might suffer from.

Personally, I have also noted it tends to improve ones attitude and outlook, and is quite salutary to ones mental and emotional health, and general state of mind.

Given this, I'm sure you will agree, it can be fairly said that the British are, by far, the worlds most practical drunkards.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Where things stand (and radiation is coming)

So where things are now...

Chris will have been out of the hospital 3 weeks tomorrow. He's slowly getting feeling back, and rapidly dropping excess water weight and lymphadema. He's not back to where he was before surgery, but he's closer.

The endocrinologist is getting the radioactive iodine treatment scheduled for sometime in the next few weeks, either at Dartmouth-Hitchcock or Massachusetts General. They are the two nuclear medicine centers closest to us that can handle the high dose Chris will need.

Make no mistake, it will be a very high dose. The endocrinologist wants the dose titrated according to his body weight and uptake, so it will most likely be higher than the standard emergency dose.

I expect him to be out of work for at least two weeks following.

In the meantime, although he is working, it's not enough to catch up on the bills, pay the insurance premiums, get more heating oil, and fix a few things on the Blazer so it can pass inspection in November, which is also when I'll need to renew the registration.

So we're almost there, so very close, but not quite there.

But Chris is getting better, and that's what matters.

I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to always works.

Thanks all,


Monday, October 17, 2016

Now I can do a REAL surgery update

So... Chris ended up spending a whole week in the hospital.

He should have been discharged the day after the surgery but...

He experienced a surgical complication. A rather severe complication.

The wrong size bed was ordered for him, which to their credit the surgical team noticed. However they gave him the choice of postponing the surgery AGAIN or proceeding.

Obviously he chose to proceed.

He ended up spending 16 hours in the wrong bed in the wrong position, leading to positional compression. The compression led to spasming muscles down his entire left side. The spasming muscles led to severe rhabdomyolysis.

Via Wikipedia:

"Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle breaks down rapidly.[3] Symptoms may include muscle pains, weakness, vomiting, and confusion.[3][4] There may be tea colored urine or an irregular heartbeat. Some of breakdown products, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure.[3]"

The rhabdo was severe enough that it could have killed him.

Chris was able to walk into the hospital with a cane and normal amounts of pain, and able to do normal activities; a week later he was wheeled out in a wheelchair partially paralyzed and unable to take care of himself, with a desperate need for painkillers and muscle relaxants.

It was quite a shock.

Adapting has been difficult.

Christopher spent several days with his great-aunt while we managed this emergency.

The surgeon ordered biweekly visits from a home visit nurse and a physical therapy nurse. They're helping.

Chris is getting better.

However... between medical equipment that needed bought (including urinals, commodes, walker, foot braces, etc), parking, gas, meals, and in general handling this emergency, this surgical complication cost us around $1800.

And quite possibly 10 years off of my life...

The partial paralysis is much better. The edema is getting better. The kidney warning signs (which were BAD for a while) have greatly reduced. He's still bedridden and still needs much more help than usual, but he's slowly getting better.

But not gonna lie, this whole thing scared the living daylights out of us and cost us quite a bit. We're gonna make it though.

So as much as I would like to suspend fundraising, I can't. This really did us in, financially. But he's alive and getting better, and that's what matters.

I've still got the GoFundMe up and running, and PayPal to always works. Anything would help.

Thanks all,


Saturday, October 01, 2016

Doing much better

Chris is doing somewhat better. He's starting to regain feeling in his left foot, and unlike last night where he needed two nurses to help him move from the chair to the bed, today it only took one nurse and a walker.

Christopher is staying with his great-aunt another night.

I'm going to hang around in Boston a bit longer, get lunch, and then (at Chris's urging) go back to the house and get it prepped for him to be able to use the walker.

He's off of the Ativan and just on pain meds.

The biggest sign that he's doing better is that he objected to my original plan of staying in Boston another night, said the expense wasn't justified, and to just go home and prep. If he can argue with me that means he has the energy to do so. Also means he can act as his own advocate, instead of being zoned out or in too much pain.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Doing better

Chris Byrne is looking much better.

I dropped Christopher off with his great-aunt, so I'm in Boston overnight to attend to Chris's needs as much as I can.

Chris is on muscle relaxers and pain relief so the muscle spasms are much reduced.

I went back to NH to check the mail, deposit Chris's paycheck, get some more clothes, check on the dogs, and drop Christopher off.

Paycheck hadn't arrived yet so deposit didn't happen.

Obviously the expenses of more gas, parking, and staying another night in Boston are adding up, so if anyone feels like helping out I can access donations using PayPal to immediately for the short term expenses.

Thanks all.

Surgery update, again

Chris Byrne is doing better today.

What happened was he spent so much time on a hard surface in the same position that his back and pelvis locked up and went into spasm, and stayed there all of last night.

He's not mobile, is under heavy muscle relaxers and pain relief, and is drifting in and out.

He's not likely to be discharged today, which was the original plan.

Waiting to talk to someone who can tell me what's going to happen.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Surgery update

So I don't have the surgeon's report yet because we missed the surgeon somehow, but...

Chris Byrne went into the OR at 9:30 am and surgery was done at approximately 3:00.

I expected to see him not too long after, because he always comes out of anesthesia quickly.

Well I didn't see him until 7:30 pm, because there were problems in the recovery room.

He's in a lot of pain. How much?

Well, those of you who know his pain tolerance and the fact that he lives with chronic pain... he was hyperventilating and crying.

The nurse had managed to get pain management cleared before I even flagged her down (which was as soon as I possibly could).

He... doesn't look good. I'm saying this as someone who has already seen him through 2 similar surgeries, which treated him much better.

It's not the surgeon's fault, he's an absolute master of his trade. No, this is the cancer.

I managed to get him food ordered (he couldn't even do that for himself) and answer the nurse's questions (which he also couldn't do and gladly handed over to me), all while I wrangled an over tired 3 year old.

I left the hospital with Christopher at 8:30 pm.

I haven't heard from the surgeon yet, as he was handling another case and, I suspect at least, things aren't over for the night.

Frankly, I'm scared. I've never seen him like this, even after the other surgeries, and I'm scared he's not going to recover as well. I'm also scared he's not going to recover properly at all.

Any prayers would be appreciated.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Regression to the tribalist mean

The alt right... and to a lesser extent, even the more mainstream but still largely reactionary populist right... have become nothing more than a mirror of the far left; even so far as using the same rhetoric, and tactics, as the Gramscians and the alinskyites.

We have now reached a state where both the left, and the right, are actively trying to destroy western culture and society, in order to "preserve" or "perfect" it..

This is exactly what Gramscians, the Frankfurt school, and the other criticalists, set out to achieve in the early part of the 20th century; in their efforts to destroy western capitalism, and introduce "scientific socialism".

The left have essentially always... and now much of the right have joined them... not just criticised, or rejected, but in fact actively worked to tear down; the individualist ideals of the enlightenment which made this country possible...

...and which... while flawed and never living up to those ideals as we would like... made this country work reasonably well, most of the time, for most people, over the last 225 years (particularly the last 160 or so).

The left do so, because they fundamentally believe that the individualist ideal is not just false, but is morally wrong; instead believing in a model of collective identity, collective authority, and collective rights; defined by society as a whole, for the benefit of society as a whole.

This is entirely antithetical to the individualist concept and ideals this nation was not just founded in, but which in fact this nation is an entirely a creature of. Our constitution depends on that concept, derives it's authority and legitimacy from it, and is entirely a creature of it.

Three of the four greatest political achievments of the enlightenment (the other, was the rejection of slavery and other involuntary servitude... which follows necessarily from the other three) were:

First, the elevation and enshrinement of the concept of inherent, fundamental, and preexisting individual rights (no right being greater or superior to any other; nor any rights of any individual being greater or superior to any other individual... be they titled king, or senator or president; nor any rights of any collective, organization, government, state or other entity, or its members, leaders, officers, or agents,  being greater or superior to those of any other individual).

Second... which follows directly from the first... the elevation and enshrinment of the concept that government derives it's legitimate powers and authority, by the consent and delegation of those rights by the governed. Rights which must be respected and protected by any government, and by any law, for any government or law to be legitimate; the powers and authorities of which , are not superior to, greater than, or otherwise exceeding, those of any individual.

Third... which follows directly from the first two... the development of the high trust society; where individuals and organizations, trust that regardless of any "identity" or other factor, or any individual or collective favor or disfavor, enmity or amity; their rights will be protected and respected both by their fellow citizens and by the government (and its agents), that contracts will be fulfilled, that the law will be written fairly and enforced as written, that the government will act as a disinterested arbiter of disputes and enforcer of laws, and that all will be treated equally under the law by the government and it's agents.

These things are required, for our nation to exist at all... and certainly required for it to prosper.

Some may say that none of these things were ever true...

...and that is so... to some extent...

None were ever perfectly true, nor could they be, because people are imperfect, and governments are made up of people... and because the law is an ass...

...But that is not a reason to denigrate or destroy these ideals, or to reject them as false. It is a reason to work towards better embodying and living up to them.

Instead, we are doing the opposite.

The left have for decades, both in an attempt to correct actual or percieved wrongs and inequities, AND as a deliberate attempt to undermine and denigrate the very concepts of individualism, and individual rights as a whole; attempted to carve out specially protected classes and identities, both in law, and in our conception of society.

They have been incredibly successful in doing so, such that the words "protected class" are literally part of many federal, state, and local laws and regulations, and where individual rights conflict with societies or the states expressed desires regarding those "protected classes", those individual rights are abrogated by law.

Further, the left have long attempted to denigrate, dilute, and destroy, the very concept of rights; such that people no longer know what rights are, or why they are important; deliberately conflating state granted franchises, privileges, entitlements etc... with rights.

They have been frighteningly successful in this as well... to the point where many no longer believe rights exist in any meaningful way at all; rather, that "rights" are actually just privileges collectively decided on by society, and granted, revoked, or modified as society sees fit, subject to the whim of the majority, prettied up as "the will of the people".

In fact, many simply do not believe it could possibly be any other way. They have fully internalized the collectivist concept and ideal... even if they believe themselves to be "conservative" or even "libertarian"; saying such things as "rights are whatever the law says they are" or "you don't have any rights, except what society let's you have, everything else is a fantasy"... or worst of all "rights don't actually exist".

This, of course, is core to the concept of the collective society... and entirely counter to the individualist concept.

Just because rights are disrespected, violated, and abrogated doesn't mean they don't exist... Otherwise, you are simply accepting the pre-enlightenment notion, that force... might...makes right... It's just that now we have the tyranny of the majority, rather than the tyranny of the "nobility".

In reaction to this, rather than working to tear down such false and destructive notions, and fight for individual rights; many on the "right"... and even many of those who claim to be "libertarian"...  have simply adopted the lefts core conception... that we are all members of separate competing classes, interests, and  "identities", locked in a zero sum game of exploiters and exploited, victims and victimizers...  and that in order to avoid being the victims, we have to "beat them", and be the tyrants.

It's disgusting... Frankly it's evil... It's a regression to strongman warlordism, dressed up as "identity politics".

This is the embodiment of every bad parody  and false narrative the left has ever spouted about capitalism, individualism, "the right", and our country as Asa whole... all those lies they believed were true, because in their collectivist world view, they couldn't NOT be true... Every zero sum dog eat dog, all wealth is exploitation, in order for one man to get ahead five men must be trampled on lie, that they have been telling for not just decades, but centuries...

Rather than asserting the moral, ethical, and practical correctness and superiority of individual rights; and refusing to play the collectivist zero sum game... 

..."The right" are now simply trying to play the collectivist game... and unsurprisingly, they're losing badly... because that game is wrong, and false, and because the left have a hell of a lot more practice at it.

Worst of all... they're doing it, because the large mass of undereducated and DELIBERATELY misinformed, socially and economically disappointed and sometimes disadvantaged; right reactionary populists... and no, they are in no way conservatives, they are identity politics driven reactionary populists... 

...Who say they believe in individual rights and insividualism, but in reality just want to be back on top of the zero sum pile, above the other "identities" and "classes"...

... are DEMANDING that they do so... Demanding they "take back our country", and "bring back our jobs" and "fight for us", and all the other false narratives they've been convinced they have to "fight" for, or else they'll be the ones exploited by "big business" and "special interests" and "political correctness".

It's disgusting... but entirely predictable.

We are devolving from an individualist high trust culture, into a collectivist low trust culture... cultural regression to mere tribalism.

... and somehow, most people seem to not notice....

... and most of those who do, are either OK with it, or so worried about being  exploited and victimized by the other tribes, that they are too busy jockeying for position to care.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Not doing great... thank God surgery is Thursday

Well, the large tumor mass... it's up over 3 inches wide now, and probably about as deep. It's six or so lymph nodes grown together in a neoplastic agglomeration... has grown big enough to be putting pressure on my airway, and on my various nerves in the area.

That in itself is not great, but I'm now up to more than 150 lbs of excess dependent fluid, between central trunk and peripheral edema, and lymphedema... In fact, I haven't stepped on the scale in a couple weeks, let's see what I'm at right now...

... yeah... not good..  I've gained 170lbs since the first of the year.

...Not 70lbs... ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY pounds...

I was at 360 and losing... Still 75-95lbs over where I wanted to be, but going in the right direction. I was active, and mobile, and had my pain under control. 

... I just weighed myself, and was just almost 530 lbs. Which itself is 35 pounds more than I was 2 weeks ago.

The combination is putting continuous pressure on the nerve trunks in my arms and legs, and is also causing them to swell dramatically, to the point where I have reduced range of motion and reduced strength.. and my skin is stretching taught... it always feels like an overfilled water  baloon about to pop.

This leads to a lovely combination of numbness, shooting pains, and general aches.

It's also putting pressure on my heart and lungs, which combined with the airway pressure, and the pressure on the nerves in my neck... not good.

The sleep apnea... that inevitably comes with having a giant tumor in your neck, plus having all your tissues waterlogged, and having an extra 250 lbs weighing you down... is so bad, that it's not just sleep apnea at this point... If I stay still in a "relaxed" position, and I don't actively keep myself awake and functioning, I drift into semi consciousness, and stop breathing.

I was testing it out earlier, and when I zoned out, my O2 sat dropped to 84% but the alarm roused me enough that I started breathing again. I hate to think what it's like when I actually fall asleep. Last time around, I had O2 sat excursions down into the 55% range, with extended periods under 75%, which my have permanently damaged my short term memory.

The diuretics help a little bit, but the cancer... in particular the neoplastic syndrome associated with it... is screwing up my system so much, that none of my drugs are really working, even if I deliberately up the doses.

My metabolic function is so low, that I either have enough energy to digest food, or to actually stay fully conscious... not both at once. If I eat something, I have to lay down and half pass out for a while.

Last time, we figured out that my metabolic function was running between 25% and 40% normal at my worst. I figure it's similar this time.

Basically, I feel like I'm drowning, while having a heart attack, while having my joints forcibly separated, and my skin inflated to the point of near popping, with slight interludes of mere total exhaustion and mild suffocation in between.

... only instead of hurting real bad for 4 minutes then stopping... because either you're dead, or you recover... this is 24/7.

Honestly... Dying would be better than this. Dying would end.

The only reason I can tolerate it at all is for Mel and the boy... I don't know if I could take another month of this... if it weren't for them I know I couldn't... don't think I could have got this far.

Surgery is Thursday... thank God.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Well now...

I'm sick as a dog so forgive me if this is disjointed.

Chris has successfully worked for a few weeks and is continuing to work.

Surgery is still on for September 29th.

Chris's best friend is moving in with us next week.

Christopher continues to be a mini engineer.

The landlord texted me to let me know that unlike that past few months he can't wait for the rent, because he's going to be gone the next two weeks. So rent has become a pressing priority with a shorter timetable.

So we're getting there, but we still need help.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up and PayPal to always works, as well as Messenger for me.

I'm going to go take meds and pass out for the night and hope my vertigo is gone tomorrow.

Thanks all.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Health and other updates

Chris has been working for a week and a half. The entire household is going through an adjustment period, the doggies in particular.

Last week one of the sprinklers in our house fire suppression system failed, resulting in lots of water in a short amount of time. We ended up laying out cash for a wet/dry vac and mold inhibitor.

I've been working on cleaning up the mess and preventing mold and mildew for a week.

Chris's health seems to have plateaued, in that he's not really getting worse (except the lymphedema is somewhat worse) but he's not getting better. The lymphedema is a real issue and causes him quite a bit of pain and discomfort.

Surgery is on September 29th.

I seem to be getting sick, either from a cold or dealing with mildew as it occurs. Frankly it's a challenge to write this post, that's how sick I feel.

Chris will be getting paid soon, but we've got rent, cell phone, electric, internet, meds, health insurance premium, and food to pay for until he does. So while we hopefully won't need much (or any) help soon, we still need it for now.

Anything would help.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up, and PayPal to always works, and Messenger payments work really well.

Thanks all,


Thursday, August 18, 2016

A simple test of understanding, to avoid wasting time.

I have a simple test for people, to determine whether or not they actually understand enough about the issue of "Climate change" to have an informed position on it, or whether it's just a question of ingroup identification for them.

I.e. whether they actually know what they're talking about, or whether they're just repeating what "their side" are supposed to say.

Here it is: Explain your understanding of the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change.

Yes, really, it's that "simple"... but their answer will be quite revelatory.

Most people will say something like "greenhouse gasses like co2 emitted by humans are making the climate change, and if we don't dramatically change how much energy we use, the whole planet will suffer" or something similar.

That indicates but doesn't confirm, that they have absolutely no idea what they're talking about; they're just repeating what they were told.

They have to understand that the FULL theory in question is more precisely described as something like:

Ultra high sensitivity, primarily anthropogenic carbon emissions forced, full climatic systemic feedback inversion; from a stable negative feedback system, to an unstable positive feedback system; leading to catastrophic rapid and runaway increase in global average temperature generally, and polar temperature particularly; with a resultant radical variability of global air and sea currents and thermoclines, massive ice melt, and 2 to 26 meter rise in global sea level; on a less than 2 century time scale, originally predicated on an immediate 1.6 to 8 degree rise in global average temperatures over the proceeding 25 to 35 years from winter 1985/86, (as distinct from the historical average rise since the last ice age of 0.8 to 3.6 degrees per century), and a doubling or more in anthropogenic atmospheric carbon in this period, with a global point of no return occurring some time between 1998 and 2008; as predicted by the Mann Hansen model of 1985, revised extended and amended periodically since...

... Note... the numbers have such broad ranges, both because the models themselves have very broad ranges, and because they have been repeatedly revised over the previous 30 years. That said, it's the principles and elements of the theory that are important, not the exact numbers...

.... Oh and by the by, we passed that global point of no return on anthropogenic carbon emissions some time between 2001 and 2008 depending on how you calculate it, and the Mann Hansen model has proven to be non-predictive thus far (in fact no models with high carbon sensitivity have proven to be anything close to reliably predictive), while models primarily driven by solar and atmospheric particulate variability have proven to be reliably predictive...

If they don't know what all the elements of the theory are, and they don't thoroughly understand what those things mean, nd how they differ from the historical record, and more conventional climate theories popular before the Mann Hansen model...

Well then... they don't actually know anything about "Climate Change". They just know what team they're supposed to be on, and what that team tells them to say.

Remington, reliability, and the R51

I thought I'd write a bit about the Remington R51, because a lot of friends really like the look of it (and the original Remington model 51 it was based on) when they brought it out a few years ago, and they were very disappointed when it proved so unreliable that Remington had to discontinue production and recall all the shipped pistols.

Recently, Remington brought out a revised version of the R51, and it has come back to mixed reviews; some stating it had fine reliability, and some that it had better than the first production run, but still poor reliability.

TFB-TV, the video production side of the Firearms Blog, ran a full test of the weapon, on video, with 600 rounds of 8 different kinds of ammo... and really, the quote speaks for itself:
"After 600 rounds of testing, the [second gen.] Remington R51 is looking like the kind of gun I'd want my enemy to have in a gunfight" -- TFB TV
Watching the testing, I think I have a pretty good idea of what's wrong... and I thought I'd break it down here.

Basically, the only ammo it would run cleanly with, was the hot German 124gr NATO round nose FMJ stuff. It had just one total failure in about 200 rounds of that ammo.

That's very good ammo by the way, and my favorite factory load for breaking in difficult 9mm pistols, and for shooting through subguns and 9mm carbines. You used to be able to get it pretty cheap by the "battlepack", but I haven't seen any available lately.

The remainder of 8 ammo types tested were averaging one malfunction per every other mag of brass ammo, and the weapon wouldn't run any steel cased ammo at all, with one or more malfunctions per magazine.

Essentially all the malfunctions with brass cased ammo were nosedives, most of which the slide overrode. This normally suggests that the magazines are the primary issue... as is generally the case with MOST self loading firearm malfunctions.

Given the 124gr nato ran very well, and all of the other ammo did not... most of it was lighter, and if it wasn't lighter it was hollowpoint... It seems the weapon is extremely sensitive to cartridge OAL and nose profile.

The German 124gr nato ammo has a long ogive nose profile, making it a couple millimeters longer over all, than either a 124gr JHP, or lighter FMJ or JHP loads (its also longer than 124gr winchester white box, which has a shorter ogive and a rounder more spherical nose profile).

That NATO spec ammo is also hotter than most ammunition... in between an American +P and +P+... It will result in higher slide speeds and energy, even with the "Pedersen Hesitation Lock" blowback action, because it's a modified blowback system that locks the barrel and breech block together until pressure drops, but it still has much more energy hitting the slide earlier in the timing cycle, than a Browning or Walther style locked breech operation (and because it pressure dependent, it is much more sensitive to ammunition variability).

What this suggests to me (as an engineer, a gunsmith, and a shooter) is a combination of timing, and magazine issues.

Hesitation lock weapons are almost always going to run better with hotter ammunition, and may be unreliable with lighter loads. Also, cartridges that obturate differently, or that have different lubricity and stiction (such as steel cases vs. brass), may dramatically alter the timing of the weapon compared to brass test loads.

If  you tune an action to run reliably with lighter pressure ammunition, with hotter ammunition it's more likely to unlock too early, and possibly malfunction, accelerate wear, or even have a catastrophic failure.

If you tune it to run reliably with hotter ammunition, though it will be less likely to have safety and durability issues, and will wear less; it may be unreliable with lower pressure loads.

It's a delicate balancing act that's difficult to manage even with all other factors being perfect. Adding steel cases which obturate in the chamber very differently, and which have dramatically different friction characteristics, just adds another set of issues to the tolerance stack.

That's the timing issue. But, while the other +P ammunition also ran better than the standard pressure, it still had problems... thus the magazine issues.

Its likely that the magazine lips and follower are presenting the cartridge too far back, and too low, at too shallow an angle, and with too much friction on the cartridge.

This combination would cause the feeding cartridge to tilt nose downward too far... without moving forward, or at least before it moves far enough forward... thus a cartridge with too short an OAL may fail to engage the feed ramp, and instead slam into the front of the magazine.

Since the slide is overriding the cartridges instead of jamming on the rims, it also means it's pushing the cartridge stack down far enough, with little enough effort, to continue its stroke.

The failures with steel cased ammo were mostly nosedives as well, but there were also FTI failures, from light primer strikes.

They had nosedive failures every few rounds with steel, which doesn't surprise me, because steel is going to have higher feeding friction, against the mag lips, mag follower, and the rounds under it. Thus the nosedive problem would be exacerbated.

The light primer strikes are lightly due to inadequate force exerted on the firing pin, rather than any more complicated issue.

Both of these issues indicate to me that they used springs that are either too light by spec, or too soft by QC, both for the internal hammer, and for the magazine.

These spring issues are common failures in quality control for any manufacturer, and common problems with any self loading pistol... and frankly, are not surprising given the state of Remingtons manufacturing and quality control issues over the past few years.

When the geometry and timing of a design are just barely on the edge of being reliable, a slightly soft spring can easily make the difference between a weapon that runs, and one that doesn't.

So... what do you do to fix it?

As a manufacturer or a gunsmith, there some relatively simple changes that might help.

First, I would try a slight revision in the mags and mag catches, to make the magazine sit just a little bit higher could improve feeding function; as could a slight easing of the feed lips, reducing friction on the feeding cartridge, and presenting it in a slightly more nose up attitude, allowing it to move further forward with less pressure; thus making it easier for the cartridge to engage the feed ramp and jump up under the extractor, rather than nosediving (particularly for shorter OAL or steel cased cartridges).

If one has an R51 that is overly load sensitive, and has similar issues, and changing to a stronger mag spring doesn't resolve them, then one could try easing the feed lips slightly themselves, as well as polishing them with emery cloth, to reduce feeding friction.

Other than that... There's not much you can do, except to internally blueprint the gun... polish metal mating surfaces, deburr anything that would be in a feed path etc...; and make sure that your springs are good.

Self loading firearms are all going to be sensitive to timing, ammunition variability, magazine geometry, quality control in springs and mags, and quality control in general; and pistols doubly so over rifles, since you've got much less energy and much shorter distances and time windows to deal with.

Honestly, it's pretty easy to make one unreliable, and pretty difficult to make one reliable.

Using a locked breech design helps reduce the variables, and make them less sensitive, which is why you don't see many full power centerfire pistols that don't have a locked breech mechanism.

Even the original Remington model 51 was only available in .32acp and .380acp. There's good reason why blowback pistols... even modified blowback pistols such as the R51... above .380acp in power are rare.

You're already cutting your tolerances close and stacking them high... when you add questionable quality control on top of it... well... the results are... predictably unpredictable shall we say?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

But Maybe It'll be Different THIS Time... Right?

There's a frustrating paradox... People understand that corporations will generally act in what they believe to be their own best interest... as will the people who make up those corporations...
... but then think somehow that government (which is made up of the same people who make up corporations) will not act in IT'S best interest...
... and further, somehow people don't understand, that the best interests of government, are NOT the best interests of the people.
Of course they're not. If they happen to coincide, it is a happy accident, or its because they are catering to a specific interest, to gain support, power, and resources.
Somehow, people seem to persist in this utterly irrational set of beliefs, that government is "looking out for them" against its own interests, no matter how much evidence there is... basically the entirety of history... to the contrary.
Even when they acknowledge that this was "sometimes true in the past", or sometimes they think "now it is anyway",  they blame outside factors like "corporate corruption" and "special interests"; rather than seeing and accepting, that the government simply acts in its own interest, and that when it doesn't, it's an exception, not the rule.
Somehow, they keep convincing themselves, that the "right people" will really "fix it", and  "look out for them".
Somehow, they keep thinking "this time, if we just get people who are good enough and smart enough... this time, it will be different".
No... it won't be.
Never mind the proof presented by all of history, it won't be, because it can't be.
What do I mean by that?
Well... this is going to take a while... but let's simplify as much as possible, and start with breaking down some core assumptions and fallacies.
Like this one...
"The government acts in the interests of the people".
It doesn't. And it's not because of "corruption" or "corporate money" or "special interests"... or at least not as most people think of those things.
The false dichotomy of "Corporations and special interests vs. Government, acting in the interests of the people", is so obvious, I really don't understand how anyone can possibly believe it at this point.
But they do... in their millions and billions.
The problem at core, seems to be that people confuse and conflate the government, with the nation, and the people as a whole, as if they were one thing, or at least always aligned together collectively.
This is entirely false.
They then believe that somehow "corporations" and "special interests", are some kind of other thing, acting against "the people", for which "the government" is their champion, advocate, and defender.
This is also entirely false.
These false notions, completely ignore the fact that the corporation itself, is a special creature of government, created and protected by the government. That without special status granted by government, and the special protection of government, corporations are nothing but a voluntary collective of individuals (theoretically acting in common or aligned interest), with no power or protection greater than any individual.
... That's also what a government is supposed to be right, except the "common interest" is supposed to be "the common interest of all the people", right?
Of course, that's also what a union is supposed to be right? Or a political movement? Or any other voluntary collective institution, which is granted special status and protection by the government. They're collectives of individuals, acting in common or aligned interest. They are in fact protected interests, as much as they are institutions or corporations etc...
... and this is where the fallacy breaks down completely...
Of course, by creating, protecting, and then catering to these protected institutions; the government, and those within it, secure their own positions, and gain power and control. With this power and control, they then create more protected interests and institutions, cater to them, and receive even more power and control in return, in a self reinforcing cycle.
"Corporations" are not opposed by government.
Protected institutions and interests, such as corporations, are creatures of government. Neither can exist, or thrive, without the other. More importantly, neither are acting in the interests of individuals outside of themselves... nor should anyone expect they would... their purpose is to act in the interests of those who make them up.
That's the very definition of "special interests" by the way.
So.. that's corruption right?
No, actually, it's not. It's corruption if there is a quid pro quo of cash or similar value, in exchange for a specific vote... But mostly that's just what politics IS.
People have interests, they gather together in groups, those groups act to further their interests; be it a political party, or a town historical society, or a private club, or a business, or a union. They try to get the government to act in the way they want, and competing interests try to get them act in the ways the competing interest want.
That's politics.
Here's the thing though... Government is just another corporation... another specially protected institution, and "special interest"... composed of the same people who make up every other corporation and "special interest". They are just another institution acting in their own interest, like all institutions do.
Yes, that's right, the government itself, is just another "special interest".
And the government, acts in its own interest. Not yours, or mine, or "the peoples"... It's own.
No-one is acting in the interest of "the people" as a whole, or of individuals, but those individuals themselves; and the voluntary collectives they form and join, in order to specifically act in those interests...
Those would also be "special interests" by the way...
So... how can two "special interests" created by, protected by, supported by, and supporting, each other; be truly opposed to each other, except in competing for power and resources with each other?
How can one "special interest" be acting in its own interest, and the other "special interest"... the government itself... be acting AGAINST its own interest; by instead acting in your individual interest, or in the interest of "the people" as a whole?
It should be obvious that it can't.
Now... here's the even bigger issue though... and this itself seems to be the core conceptual problem:
"The People" don't actually exist.
There is no such thing as "the interests of the people"... because there is no "the people", who all have the same common interest, beyond some very basic concepts and platitudes like "safety" "survival" "prosperity" "happiness" etc...
"The people" is a convenient fiction, to represent all the individuals within "the nation", all of whom have their own interests; sometimes aligned with the interests of others, sometimes opposed to them, sometimes competing with them.
"The Nation" as a whole can have unified interests, such as advantageous foreign policy, and national defense, and the overall safety and prosperity of "the nation" is in the common interest of all the people... but that's not exactly equivalent. In fact, often, what is in the best interest of the nation, is not in the best interests of many of the people.
So, it's not actually possible for ANY government, no matter how well run, no matter how well intentioned, and no matter how well structured, to act for "the people"; except in the broadest possible terms.
Yes, really... no government, of any kind, ever.
That's not a "broken system" or a "perversion of the system"... that's how any system will always be no matter what, because it cannot possibly be other way. There is no other way.
No matter what, that's the way it is, because there is no other way.
As an individual, at best, government can be a disinterested third party... or if you are very lucky, its interests can be aligned with yours for a time, on a particular issue or set of issues.
Often, government is just another "special interest" colluding with other "special interests", against your interests; lying to you about it, and stealing from you to pay for it.
At worst governments interests... or the interests it is catering to against yours, in order to gain more power and control... require you be made powerless, or removed; and it strong arms, bankrupts, imprisons, or kills you... And along the way,  maybe it steals everything you and your family had, and labels you as an enemy of all "good people".
Because that's what government is... it's not just a "special interest", it's a "special interest" that has the power and authority, to take from you at gunpoint, force you to comply with its orders, imprison you, and kill you.
Corporations don't have that power. Unions don't have that power. No other special interest has the power to use force against you, without reprisal, except government...
...Or any other interest, that can get government to do it for them. Which seems to be more common than one would prefer...
The true dichotomy, is the concentrated power and force of specially protected institutions and interests... including the special interests of the government itself... vs. the diffuse power and interests of Individuals.
By the by, this isn't some random theory of my own... I'm just simplifying it and stating it in plain language.
In politics, economics, and sociology; these are known as the agency problem, and the problem of concentrated benefit, and diffuse cost. They're inherent to all governments, and in fact in all other collective institutions and efforts, and they cannot be solved, only mitigated at best.
Unfortunately, we can't eliminate either concentrated interests (and concentrated power) in general, or government in particular. Even if we wanted to, it's not actually possible; because individuals with common interest will tend to act together to concentrate power to more effectively act in their own interest etc... etc...
In the extreme, this means that without some countervailing concentration of power to stop them; the strong will always tend to overpower the weak, and the majority will always tend to overpower the minority.
Also, we actually do need a disinterested third party to resolve disputes (courts), to administer property held in commons, and to coordinate collective efforts for the nation as a whole (such as foreign policy and national defense).
So... we can't get rid of special interests, or concentrated interests and powers general, and we can't get rid of government in particular.
Since that is so... Don't you think it would be best if we would give those specially protected institutions and interests, and those concentrations of power against individual interests... as little power as possible?
Because if we give them the power to act in our own interests today... aren't they just going to turn around and use that power to act against our interests, when it's to their advantage to do so later?
I mean... all logic and reason says that's what will happen... and the entire record of history says that's what will happen...
... but maybe it'll be different THIS time... right?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

An Important Question About Guns

I was asked why I love guns, by someone who has an instinctive revulsion towards them.

That's a rather important question.

Aside from the fact that they are by far the most effective means of self defense, and defense of others, and that I have used them for such purposes multiple times?

Aside from the fact that they are used for such purposes millions of times every year?

Aside from the fact that it is enormously fun and satisfying, to develop skill in using them, and in competing with them?

They are one of the finest examples of both human mechanical craft, arts, and precision... and in their use, of our martial arts.

They're very interesting pieces of machinery. Moreso, they embody a fascinating set of interactions between machinery, chemistry, physics, and human performance.

Aside from what I love about them as objects, and as tools...

... There's the inescapable fact that, before guns, most of humanity, throughout most of history; were ruled by hereditary warlords and despots; trained from birth in, and oppressing the people by, main force; which they maintained a monopoly on (no matter how you might want to pretty them up, calling them nobility and royalty, lords and kings and emperors).

... and if by some means we returned to a world without guns, we would be so ruled once again...

Without guns to secure and protect them... there is no freedom, there is no justice, there is no liberty, there are no individual rights...

...There is only slavery, and the tyranny of the strong over the weak, and the many over the few.

I would love it to be otherwise, but history has proven over and over again, that it is not.

Throughout all of history, the only thing that has ever successfully prevented, resisted, or overthrown tyranny; without immediately replacing it with a different tyranny.... has been an armed, educated, and free populace.

Guns are literally the only reason why modern relatively stable and nontyrannical governments can exist at all.

They are the ultimate protection for the weak, and the minority, against the strong, and the majority.

The gun IS modern civilization.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Good news, okay news, bad news

So... we weren't able to sort out insurance in time for the established surgery date.

Yeah... there's lots to be said about that, none of it good.

It IS being sorted out, it WILL be authorized, and I will be on everyone's case until it is. Once it's authorized we'll get a new date.

Unless we can pay the $40,760 to the hospital before the surgery, which seems highly unlikely.

The okay news is that while Chris is in pain and the lymphedema is really bad, it doesn't seem to be getting worse. We still need to get him a pool and a hot tub for hydrotherapy and exercise equipment, and that's a high priority in order to prevent further muscle loss.

The good news is Chris most likely has a contract that will work with his appointments and time off for surgery and radiation so maybe we can start digging out of this whole.

The bad is we can't make rent and we need to wait even longer for surgery.

But there's a few lights at the end of the tunnel at least.

So we still need help, rather desperately. Anything would help.

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

Thanks all,


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

SOS - help me keep this kid's dad alive

So for all of you that don't keep up with us on Facebook, or don't know us at all...

My name is Melody, though everyone calls me Mel. My husband is Chris. And this is Christopher:

Christopher is 3. He's an adorable little creature, and generally very happy. He's a budding engineer and loves all things mechanical. He's obsessed with tools, anything that has an internal combustion engine, firearms, things that explode. and all things space.

His IQ is somewhere north of 160, quite like his father. In fact he is just plain QUITE LIKE HIS FATHER. I'm not certain whether I actually conceived him, or if I just acted as surrogate to a clone.

Why is this important? Well, Christopher's father is fighting Stage IVb endocrine cancer, and it's looking to be a hard fight. Christopher is in danger of losing his father to cancer in the early years of his life.

Yaknow what hyperintelligent hyperactive little boys who are engineers and obsessed with mechanics, technology, weapons, ballistics, and things that explode grow up to be?

Either awesome forces for good, or...

This guy.

And seriously, I know how Syndrome's mother must have felt, without help from his father. Trying to help a kid who is smarter than you navigate growing up and dealing with the world, while not actually being able to understand him or sufficiently supervise his activities. It keeps me up at night, thinking about trying to raise Christopher by myself.

I know Chris's stories of growing up without his father. I know the struggles. If you've heard the stories, you know why it keeps me up at night.

Which brings me back to the entire point...

Chris's health is going downhill. Sometimes it plateaus, sometimes it gets worse much faster. He's in quite a bit of pain on a daily basis.

He's scheduled for surgery on Tuesday to remove the cancer that can be removed. But... well, let him tell the story in his own words:

"Anybody got a spare $20,000 lying around that they feel like giving us so I can have life saving surgery on Tuesday as scheduled, instead of letting my cancer grow for another month (its already been almost 8 months since we found it, and months of delays before surgery) while we wait for the goddamn insurance company, surgeon, endocrinologist, PCP, and hospital sort things out? That'd be great."

Yes, a few days before surgery we're scrambling to get it paid for. I've spent the past 2 days on the phone juggling 3 different doctor's offices trying to get insurance to pay for this surgery.

If we don't get it fixed through insurance or commit to paying cash before the end of the day tomorrow the surgery will be delayed.

Any delay at this point runs the risk of killing him. Of leaving Christopher without a father.

If we have to pay cash we will. But we need help to pay cash, or otherwise pay for it until insurance gets their heads out of their rear ends and pays for the procedure. The very important, life-saving procedure.

But I couldn't even afford to buy a coffee today without help, so I can't exactly cover a huge surgery bill.

We need your help, so so much.

Help us keep Chris alive, and make sure Christopher grows up with a father.

I've still got a GoFundMe up, and PayPal to chris@chrisbyrne always works. For other options ping me at

Thanks all,


Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Zero Defect Culture

The goal of the Frankfurt school, Antonio Gramsci, Saul Alinski and the like, was to implant the notion in society, that everything must be perfect without question, or that it was entirely corrupt and worthless without question, and therefore must be destroyed. That something could not be good and true, but flawed. Any flaw or defect required the institution or principle be destroyed, and replaced or rebuilt to "perfection".

They presumed, that if they were successful in doing so, the system would collapse (and thus "western culture" which they loathed, would collapse with it), as everyone would understand that things were not perfect, and therefore everything was corrupt and worthless... and thus would remove their support from the system.

They have, in fact, been entirely successful. The dominant motive emotion... no thought is involved... in society today, is what we call the "zero defect" concept, and culture.

Where the radicals failed... and what has kept "the system" running as it is... Is that they did not understand that most people, have an absolute emotional need for stability and confidence in authority and "the system".

Thus, rather than rejecting the false and toxic notion of the zero defect culture, or tearing "the system" and thus western culture and civilization down with it... as the radicals believed and desired would happen; a large number of people simply refuse to acknowledge or admit any defect... and attack anyone who claims defects exist, as if they were attempting to destroy the country, and society.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

16 days until the next surgery, and things are awful

The next surgery is on the 26th, and we're not doing at all well.

Chris is effectively bedridden (in that he goes between the couch, the bathroom, and the bed, which are all within 15 feet of each other) and I am absolutely exhausted. I didn't know it was possible to be this exhausted without a newborn in the house.

Christopher is doing well and healthy, so there we count our blessings.

The suprasternal mass in Chris's mass has quadrupled in size since the last surgery, and the surgeon is concerned. Blood tests don't indicate that the cancer has gone anaplastic  (thank God) so while this cancer is aggressive it is still very survivable.

After the next surgery Chris will be undergoing radioactive iodine ablation, and this time instead of the maximum non-emergency dose the dose will be titrated to account for his body mass. He will most likely be taking a dose that would be considered fatal for other people.

So as sick as he was last time... this time will be much worse. At least we have a basement in-law suite he can stay in through the isolation phase so he won't spend that time at the hospital.

Assuming we can keep up with rent and bills, of course.

His lymphedema and pain continue to be very bad, and he's still on expensive meds not covered by insurance, and we still need to get him an above ground pool and some exercise equipment so he can do something to help with the lymphedema.

I'm as depressed as I've ever been outside of hormonal causes, and need to get to the doc to get my meds adjusted, and that's rather high priority.

All our lives have revolved around cancer since right after Christmas and it's really taking a toll on everyone except Christopher, who isn't old enough to understand.

So that's where we are. Things are pretty damn horrible, but still survivable. We'll get through this.

We need help to make this month's bills and get Chris his equipment, and get him to his surgery at the end of the month (and hopefully a few nights in a hotel so I don't drive back and forth to Boston with a 3 year old several times in this process.

Anything you can give would be extremely helpful.

I've still got a GoFundMe set up and PayPal to always works.

Thanks all,


Thursday, July 07, 2016

Someone Tried to Start a War Tonight in Dallas...

So there's what's right... and there's what's smart.

Someone tried to start a war in Dallas tonight... and I GUARANTEE you, that police around the country are going to react.

Reports are that 11 cops and one bystander were shot... by at least two people with rifles and two more with pistols... and at least 5 are dead right now, with 3 more in critical condition.

At best, police are going to be hyper-vigilant for trouble... Hopefully NOT seeing it where there isn't any and overreacting...

... but it would amaze me if there wasn't at least some overreaction. At least some anger and fear and grief and frustration that spills over into violence...

... and if you don't think there are people who want to exploit that overreaction, you' really don't understand what's going on in this country right now.

Think about it... if you were an enemy of this country... internal or external... If you were a white supremacist, or a black separatist, or an anti-american islamist... Wouldn't it be great if you could get us to start a civil war against ourselves? Set cops against the public, black against white?

... and how much worse will it get if... when... there are more incidents?

Understand... this wasn't a random or spontaneous act of anger or frustration. This was a deliberately planned and executed attack, with pre-planned siting, and a planned evade and exfil, that they executed properly.

That doesn't mean they were professionals, or had any training... but it does mean this was a deliberate act of political violence.

This was a terrorist provocation attack.

The purpose of terrorism is not just to cause direct damage... it is to provoke overreaction from the controlling authority, against the populace, in order to increase internal strife and chaos, and to increase resentment and reaction against the controlling authority.

... and I can't think of any better way to draw such an overreaction right now, than to start killing cops at a black lives matter protest.

Can you?

Smart people... people who really should know better... Are already reaction in anger and fear, and saying things like "this is black lives matters fault', or "the cops deserved this"...

... That's exactly what they want...

... Because that's what terrorism does...

That is the goal, and purpose, of terrorist attacks. It is to create terror, chaos, strife... To draw overreaction and create resentment, that the terrorists can take advantage of.

... and it's working.

So... here's my advice... For everyone, but especially if you are a young black male.

Stay home... ESPECIALLY at night... until next Monday.

It's a heat wave weekend... violence always goes up with heat waves anyway... now this? STAY HOME.

Don't go anywhere there are big crowds. Don't go to protests or vigils or anything else. STAY HOME.

If you DO get pulled over, and you get hassled... don't get visibly angry, don't fight, don't yell, don't scream... DO record the encounter if you can...

...and wait...

Wait until you aren't under the control of an angry scared man with a gun pointed at you... Wait and get a lawyer. Wait, and file a complaint with the Justice Department and the state AG.

Is it wrong... Hell yeah...

But you can't fix it if you're dead.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

"Too bad about that common sense theory though..."

"But if more people have more guns, then they'll shoot more people, in fights, or by accident... it's just common sense"...

Great theory... common sense etc... except it's entirely incorrect...

The peak of violent crime in the country was the mid to late 90s. Not coincidentally, this is when the rapid growth in concealed carry also began.

... And since the peak between 1994 and 1997, violent crime, and crime with firearms, have fallen by about 50%... While the number of people legally carrying firearms have increased by over 700% (and total firearms ownership has increased by somewhere around 200 million according to production and import records).

*** An Aside: those 200 million new and imported guns sold in the U.S. in the last 20 or so years (18 million just in 2015 alone, 14 million new manufactured, and 4 million imported)? 
About 1/8 of them have been some variant of the AR15 or AR10... you know, the scary black rifle people keep wanting to ban? 
Semi-official estimates are only about 10-15 million AR15s... but that's because there are now literally hundreds of manufacturers of the rifle if not thousands, and most of them call it something else, or sell it in a slight variant, or different chambering, etc... so it's technically not an AR15... but for all practical purposes it is. 
It's not some kind of strange and powerful "weapon of war"... it's just another rifle, like any other... in fact less powerful than most. It just happens to be black and scary looking to some... 
.... and these days, most people who own guns, seem to own one, or two or more... They're like legos... mix and match, and have fun. 
It's by far the most commonly sold, and likely the second most commonly owned (behind the remington 700) centerfire rifle in the country... and the second most common semi-auto rifle behind the Ruger 10-22 ***

As of today, 29 states have "shall issue" carry licensing. That means anyone who can legally own firearms, and meet the basic standards those states require, can get a permit to carry.

... and millions of people have done so...

Before the carry boom, 16 states didn't allow carry at all, and 25 had very restrictive permits, with less than 2 million legally carrying concealed nationwide.

As of today, there are already almost 15 million people legally carrying concealed firearms in this country (12.8 million at the beginning of 2015, and an expected 2 million more since then, but no 2015/16 numbers are available yet)...

... and that doesn't include all the people in the 11 states that now don't require any permit whatsoever, to carry a firearm concealed (and there will likely be 2 or 3 more of those states by the end of the year).

That's 40 states, where any adult that meets the standards and can legally own firearms, can carry them.... and only 10 where they cant...

... Actually... all of those 10 states technically have a permit process... but it usually requires a big "campaign donation" or a good friend in the government, in order to get one... but technically, all 50 states allow concealed carry now, with or without permit.

...and yet... no increase in accidental or criminal shootings... in fact they fell by half.

...Well... except in a couple of those 10 gun control states, where they didn't fall nearly as much... like Illinois... but hey...

There are about 215 million adults 21 or over, and without a felony conviction... there are about 15 million CCW holders, and some number of carriers in those 11 states with constitutional carry... most likely a couple million, given most of them are heavy gun owner states...

... So... on any given day, basically, at least 7% or so of adults may be legally carrying a gun.

Given that very few of those, are in the 10 states with restrictive gun control... which together have a population of about 105 million...

... that actually means, more like at least 12% of the eligible adult population in the shall issue and constitutional carry states... probably more like 15%.

So... 1 out of every 14 or so at the absolute minimum, and maybe as much as 1 out of 6 adults may be legally carrying, in areas where carry is not restricted... on any given day...

... And yet, violent crime, crime with firearms, and accidental shootings, have all fallen by around 50% since the mid 90s...

Funny that....

Too bad about that "common sense" theory though...

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 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.


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 always works. and if you want to make other arrangements feel free to email me at or message me on Facebook.

Thanks all.


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 always works. and if you want to make other arrangements feel free to email me at or message me on Facebook.

Thanks all.


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.


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?