Adventures in brain tumors: part one of many

 Photo on 2009-11-13 at 14.13

You know it's going be bad news when the ER doc slides a chair over to sit on. Good news is quick, a simple "You're gonna be fine! You can go home!" Seeing that chair slide over with her let me know I was in for some long explanations of bad news.

Of course the worst part is that I went to the hospital with a bad flu and two hours later this ER doctor is explaining that during the routine CT scan on my head, a lump was found. She couldn't tell if it was blood, a mass, or a collection of both. She couldn't tell if it was benign or cancerous either. I was immediately rushed to the area major hospital OSHU for MRI scans that could provide higher resolution data.

I finally got to experience the horribleness that a 45min long MRI I've been hearing so much about. That really is a ghastly creation, sliding me into a jet engine whirring to life for 45 minutes with about one inch of clearance above my face and an entire field of white to stare at until it's over? Figure out a way to project a few Simpsons episodes or at least some music to overcome the loud, claustrophobic noise machine that is a MRI.

I forgot to mention that before I got my MRI, I was waiting in their area and a technician asked me to move from my flat hospital bed that I was sleeping on to a waiting wheelchair before I got transferred to the MRI sliding test bed. I remember saying "Ok, I guess…" and as soon as my ass hit the wheelchair seat I said "I'm going to pass out" to the tech. I blinked my eyes and when I opened them six people were above me on a bed with an alarm sound in the distance. The head person in charge asked me if I do recreational drugs "It's cool here man, no judgments, it just helps us help you" and I said no, I've never done any recreation drugs (which is true). When I said I'd just taken a few doses of Codeine cough syrup the night before he rattled off a bunch of what I guess are street names for codeine based highs that were each more hilarious sounding than the next. I was exhausted and just coming back into consciousness so forgive me for not remembering the real names but it sounded something like this:

"Oh you took Codeine huh? You doing Night Rammers? Doing Robot Jammers? Doing some Springboard slammers?"

I had to confess that without a copy of UrbanDictionary.com, I wouldn't even know what he just asked me but that no, I didn't take any more than the recommended doctor's dose.

I'm getting ahead of myself, let me go back to the beginning for the sake of friends wondering what was up with my initial tweet (this is long and exhausting and I don't mind if it's tl;dr for you).

Continue reading “Adventures in brain tumors: part one of many”

Notes from the Future: SSD instead of hard drives

Ssd I'm writing this on my Mac Pro that feels like a new computer thanks to the SSD (solid state drive) memory that replaced my existing hard drive. A friend of mine used to talk about this idea ten years ago — that someday RAM and flash memory would get so cheap you'd be able to fit an entire operating system on it, making it magnitudes faster than current computers. Thanks to the past decade of ever cheaper and larger memory sticks, cards, and RAM, we're finally at that moment. SSD drives are now available in sizes big enough for boot drives (including your operating system and space for apps), are available for many laptops & desktops, and start at just a couple hundred bucks.

Today I finished putting a 128Gb Crucial SSD drive in my newer Mac Pro. It was simple and the results are amazing. The hardest part was dealing with a new 128Gb SSD drive compared to my current main 1Tb hard drive. Thankfully I had a spare 1Tb drive to move all the music, movies, downloads, and document files to in order to get the operating system and application files down well below 128Gb in size. Next, I took my new SSD drive out of the package, opened my Mac, slid out hard drives, plugged the drive into a spare optical drive connector, and put it all back. Then I used SuperDuper to clone my now smaller main hard drive to the new drive, set it as the new boot drive, and rebooted. I followed the basic approach outlined in this tutorial (ignore the use of apps describe there) and was done, start to finish in less than 40 minutes (attaching the drive took 5 minutes, data copying took 33 minutes).

Overall, booting up takes about 1/3 as long. Applications launch in a second or two (even the bloated ones). Everything feels amazingly snappy, in the way that replacing a 5+ year old computer with a new one feels. About the only tip I'd give is that 64Gb is probably enough for most people if you can get iPhoto, iTunes, and all your large file storage to a separate drive. My SSD is barely using 25Gb for the entire OS, about 10Gb of applications, and assorted other files sitting on my desktop. I bought a larger drive just to be safe but I'm not sure it was necessary.

Currently, I'd put preparing your computer and installing SSD at the fairly technical nerd level but given that laptops with SSD pre-installed have been available for the past couple years it's only a matter of time before desktop computers start shipping with them. To any of my friends considering this, it's totally worth doing.

UPDATE: Jon Deal wrote me an amazing email last night detailing how to move the home directory to a new location using some command-line mojo and a hidden advanced user account feature I didn't know existed. He put it online last night here. It worked perfectly for me and saves a lot of headaches. I actually could have done this before I installed the SSD and before I shrank down the files/directories on my main drive to fit onto a SSD.

Softly relaunching

 Screen shot

So a long, long time ago I decided to both teach myself to shoot photos better and document my quickly changing life by creating a photo blog back on October 10, 2003 with the grand vision of keeping it going for ten years.

At the time, I was pretty busy with multiple projects, but thanks to moving all my photo management to a new mac and this new fangled application called iPhoto, I got my daily photo posting regimen down to about 10-15 minutes each day (which included download photos, select the best, edit in Photoshop, save to desktop, upload via FTP to site, then build blog post around it). It was a tolerable nightly chore, as long as my life stayed somewhat stable.

Soon after having a child a couple years later I started slacking a bit, then a bit more, until I didn't have 15 minutes a day to spare towards a little hobby site. I'd say the whole thing died sometime in late 2005 when I just gave up on daily posts. I streamlined the process further but the uploads and blog posting was too much of a hassle. I kept posting plenty to flickr, thanks to its ease of use with various photo uploading tools. In 2005, I started wishing for a way to make a photoblog powered by flickr entirely, which wasn't an option when I started.

Last year I stumbled upon Flogr, and I'd been wanting to try it out ever since. I finally got around to it today, and so it lives at www.tenyearsofmylife.com.

I'll start by saying I threw this together in about an hour, I tweaked the default template but know it has a bunch of annoying quirks (several I noted in Flickr's new App Garden thread linked earlier). The oldest photo seems to be dying and I haven't imported any of the 2003-2007 content that was previously on the site (I'll eventually do it). Also the feed sucks so I'm replacing it with a tag feed from Flickr. I'm not happy with the URL structure or even the idea of having an external URL for something that actually lives at flickr, but what I am happy about is the ease of use.

It's pretty much just a stream of my favorite recent photos posted to flickr and it really cuts down on the workflow to the point where a photo can go from my camera to iPhoto to the web and to this site in about four clicks within the span of a couple minutes. I'm no longer aiming for daily new photos or trying to make myself shoot one new one per day, I'd rather just keep it to as often as an interesting photo comes along that I feel like sharing which will likely be on the order of 3-4 per week.

Now that expectations are appropriately lowered, enjoy.

Duchess Suit Ordered

An item from my own 75 year plan is to someday get a custom suit made. After hearing about a cool local outfit called Duchess Clothier from Messrs. Sasser and Hodgman, I decided to finally mark it off my list. Most of their catalog includes a lot of 1920s-1940s cuts but I ended up choosing something similar to the suit pictured here, in a medium grey with some custom silk lining. I didn't intend from the start to go for Mad Men Extra, but it might end up looking that way when it's done in a few weeks.

Anyway, the highs and lows:

High: My shoulders are apparently ideal and I got to skip shoulder pads entirely. I had no idea.

Low: I've lost weight and inches from my body and I was dismayed to find out after fitting back into size 34 pants for the first time in many years, my waist measured at 37 1/2. Unbeknownst to me, Men's clothing sizes have gone through the same sort of size inflation that Women's clothing have gone through. Three and a half inches below your actual size is the current norm for waistband sizes in Men's clothing.

The New Honesty

Three times in the last week, I've been reminded by a cashier that what I was buying wasn't worth the money:

  • Long Beach Airport, Terminal 3. A single Larabar was $5. Cashier says "you sure you want to get that, it's five bucks"
  • Las Vegas, concession at Interbike somewhere. I grab a Crunch chocolate bar and the cashier says "dude, that's three dollars, you sure you want it?"
  • Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay parking lot food service for the US Crit finals. Parched, and with no water supply I ask for a 8oz bottle from the bartender. He says "this is $4.50, you actually want it?"

Sometimes there is an upside to a recession.

Off to Interbike


_DSX3108.jpg, originally uploaded by Hugger Industries.

Near the end of high school, I finally scored a job at a local bike shop, fulfilling my dream to have fun while making $3.35/hour. It was 1989 and every year then and after, I secretly lusted after the Interbike passes my friends deeper in the bike industry would score each year. I went off to college, kept riding bikes off and on for fun, and even still I would attend if given the chance.

My chance is finally here, thanks to Bike Hugger. Though I sort of despise Las Vegas for its over the top drunkedness, smoking, and depressing gambling addicts, I made an exception to my life rule of never setting foot in a vegas casino again to live a 20 year old dream: visiting Interbike, the largest bike industry trade show in North America. There will be new bikes, new parts, and famous riders (I hope to meet George Hincapie) on display and I’ll be there covering it all.

Check out both Bike Hugger and their Interbike hub site for updates.

Julie and Julia

I caught Julie and Julia today in a theater with all of three people (including me) while everyone else in town was at the first showing of Gamer. I wanted to see this because I was intrigued how one even goes about making a movie about a blog.

It did a pretty good job showing how the Julie character decides to do a blog and what it's like to write daily about yourself and how that can sometimes hinder your offline relationships. The concurrent storyline of Julia Child seemed truthful and sincere and overall I enjoyed it and left the theater feeling uplifted and inspired to cook.

But there was this one scene. Julie is in her cube and she's ecstatic that a post got 53 comments and she high fives her coworker, and moments later her husband calls and says he just noticed she's #3 on the most popular Salon blogs list and her arms shoot up out of her cube in victory and I began to cry tears of joy.

I sat in the theater thinking about my little blog and how it became a community large and a business small. I remembered walking into a coworker's office in December 1999, arms in the air, as I exclaimed "100!!! One hundred people hit my web server today! 100!!!" I remembered being so stoked that three thousand people hit the site in January 2000, when I won a web site of the day award. I remembered the first time a newspaper reporter called and wanted to talk to me of all people.

The tears kept rolling through the next scene and stopped after 5
minutes or so and I thought to myself how weird that I was brought to
tears by mundane shots about blogging serving as mere
story continuity to others in the theater.

Sure, it's just another romantic comedy that most people could say is forgettable date movie. But it's the first movie about blogging and the first movie that resonated in a way no other movie ever has with my own experiences. This will probably make sense to about a few dozen people with experiences similar to mine but my god did that film move me.