Saturday, December 29, 2007

2007 Ends, 2008 Starts

The world of computers was relatively quiet this past week. Not so the international sphere with the assassination of former Pakistan Prime Minister Bhutto. This act of violence clearly signals that the war on terrorism has failed in many respects. And so ends another year with bloodshed amongst people. Every year we look forward to the new one in hopes that it will bring lasting peace; we have crossed from year to year, century to century, millennium to millennium -- and we are still hoping for that elusive thing we call peace. If you believe in prayer (of any type), I suggest that we all start praying daily for peace. The power of our collective energies has to be able to turn this sad situation around. On a personal level, I wish you all a safe end to 2007 and a joyous start to 2008.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas

Christmas is only a few days away. It is a wonderful time of the year if one focuses on the important aspects of the Holidays. I recently realized that just last year, my wife entered the hospital with newly-discovered tumors in her brain. We spent Christmas, our wedding anniversary and New Years in the hospital while she fought a disease that would ultimately take her life seven months later. Yet, we were together and we made the best of a very difficult situation. To the best of our ability we were happy. We also were given the most precious gift: the realization not to ever take any of our loved ones for granted. I share this gift with all of you. Merry Christmas -- may all your dreams come true!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Good for Canada!

It appears that Canadian citizens have achieved success in, at least, delaying the implementation of the DMCA laws that were a major concern to many of us. That is excellent news as long as the delay results in changes that protect information sharing and the rights of consumers.

As Christmas approaches, I am reminded frequently that the Holidays are such a hectic time that many of us often forget the reason for it all: people. This is supposed to be a time of the year when we can celebrate people coming together to give; and giving does not necessarily mean spending tons of money on gifts, especially not by using credit cards that you will never finish paying if you only make minimum contributions. To me it is about giving in other ways: doing things that make others happy, spending time having fun, and looking around to appreciate all that you really have.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Entertainment vs. Freedom

More and more people are becoming aware of the seriousness of problems being caused by the entertainment industry as they try to protect revenues by attacking freedom. From the failed malware embedded in CDs to legislative efforts targeting universities, the entertainment industry is trying its best to commit suicide. More and more customers are becoming disenchanted with the industry and are either not buying products to show their disapproval or using other "freedom" channels to obtain products. I think eventually all companies in the entertainment business will come to realize that they are fighting a loosing battle and they would profit far more by joining their customers rather than fighting them. A number of companies have figured this out already and are doing better financially than others. The main point of this commentary is that a powerful force (the entertainment industry) that used to promote freedom of speech is trying its best to suppress it. What an irony that is. But we can all let these companies know that trying to force old business models on a new marketplace is counterproductive and absurd. Hopefully they will pay attention and listen to their customers.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech has taken on a very different twist lately, as ISPs limit what users can access under the excuse of resource management. The RIAA is also pushing to force universities to install software that would track student access to the internet, and is threatening federal funding if institutions fail to conform to its demands. As Netcitizens, we are all being threatened by these and other efforts by a minority to control information that clearly belongs to the majority. Current censorship efforts are similar to those imposed by tyrants during the dark ages. We know what happened then -- and history, I trust, will repeat itself. Back then, however, people made an effort to brake the chains of cultural slavery. Will we move to protect the freedom of information we enjoy?

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Of Police States and Greed

There is a significant number of stories I can comment on this week. I will tackle two of them. The first one concerns the UK's RIPA act. The story details how the UK has used this law for the first time to try to force the encryption code from one of its citizens. The law has been in the books for several years but this is the first time it has been used (that we know of). The article implies that this law is a clear example of a growing tendency for countries to become police states. It is shameful that nations have to force its citizens to reveal private information simply because there is some sort of suspicion of criminal activity. To me that is equivalent to the tactics used by the Nazis and other cruel governments to subjugate any free-thinking citizens. Please read the article and see what you think about this. And the UK is not alone in this; many other countries (including the USA) have similar (or greater) powers to invade private lives.

My other comment concerns J.K. Rowling's lawsuit concerning the "Harry Potter Lexicon." It appears Ms. Rowling was happy when the contributors to the Lexicon were helping her make money by adding value to her stories. But when they saw a way to make money themselves based on their labor, then Rowling objected and took them to court. I love the Harry Potter books and I think Ms. Rowling should benefit from her work -- but being too greedy is not a good trait to have. Her attitude is seriously disappointing.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The End of the Oil Age

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the International Energy Agency has declared the imminent end of the "Oil Age." "The agency states in no uncertain terms in its annual World Energy Outlook that "alarming" growth in worldwide energy needs will within a generation threaten energy security, accelerate global climate change and possibly bring worldwide shortages and conflicts." This is a great article for all of us to read and I suggest that everyone do so. There are no easy solutions to the global energy problem. But sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring the issues is not going to help either. In my opinion, the first step should be conservation. Let us start by replacing all fluorescent light bulbs with energy efficient units; the savings would be huge! I think it may also be time to reduce speed limits to minimize gasoline consumption. These are minor inconveniences in light of what will be coming (perhaps not for us but certainly for future generations) unless we all start acting responsibly and proactively.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Backups and Restores in a Microsoft World

I spent this week learning about Windows 2003 Active Directory. The technology is not new, but there have been major improvements since its introduction several years ago. The course was great as was the instructor. Everything was going great until the very last Practice exercise. The purpose of such was to create an item in Active Directory, backup the system, delete the item we just created (for which there is no undelete), and then restore Active Directory to retrieve the item we deleted. To make a long story short, the backup on my server got corrupted. The restore on my server failed without errors -- and then the corrupted Active Directory was propagated to other servers. Within minutes the whole lab was toast -- none of the servers would allow us to create new objects in the database. The moral of the story is that your system is only as good as its weakest links. Backups and restores continue to be a weak link in computer technology. Disaster recovery, which backups and restores are part of, has received much attention over the years, yet we still have serious weaknesses in the built-in tools of advanced operating systems like Windows 2003 Server. My theory is that Microsoft does this by design to allow its partners to create and sell add-on products to fill in the gaps that Microsoft left open on purpose. Everyone wins except the end-user. If that is the case, is Microsoft guilty of misrepresentation and deceit?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Use of Censorware

There is an interesting article in The Christian Science Monitor that caught my attention. Mr. Ben Arnoldy shows how American products are being used by many governments, such as Burma's dictatorship, to censor the Internet. It appears the sell of "censorware" to these oppressive regimes is legal -- but is it ethical? Should the US Government intervene on behalf of oppressed citizens elsewhere? What about censorship in place here in the USA? If we ask the US policymakers to address censorship abroad, would we not be rightful to demand the same for US citizens? Or should we turn a hyprocritical blind eye to what goes on at home while we raise the flag or moral indignity to foreign events? Sadly, I bet we will do the latter. It seems it is too hard for us to look at our own house and admit that there is as much dirty laundry here as there is elsewhere.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

One More on Perspectives

And since I am on a roll on perspectives, let me do yet one more. This time I will comment on recent news that we will have the opportunity (sometime around 2050) to have RoboPartners, artificial intelligence creations that will fulfill that most basic of human needs: companionship. I can really see this happening -- sadly, I must add. For many, the "single" life is just unacceptable, but the dating process is daunting and unpleasant. For example, it took me a very long time to find the love of my life; I was 37 then [already considered mildly old to still be single (unless you are a rich socialite)]. Just ten years later I lost her to breast cancer. For me, the prospect of dating again is simply unthinkable at this point. Between family and professional responsibilities there is hardly enough time (much less energy) for dating. So what would be wrong with a RoboPartner? Perhaps nothing … perhaps everything. If I had chosen such at 37, I would probably not have the infinite pleasures of being a husband and a parent, nor the immense pain of being a widower. But isn't that what a human experience is all about, having all types of events? Or will we have a new generation of people that may not want to parent and prefer a fairly even ride without the ups and downs that come when living with another person? I certainly can see it happening -- sad as it maybe seem today.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

More on Perspectives

Last week I wrote about perspectives. And here is another perspective worthy of our consideration. How can it be possible that kids are killing themselves because their computer games are taken away? I could hardly believe it when I read the report of a 10-year old that jumped out of a 19th floor apartment because his parents banned him from playing computer games. What a tragedy! It is certainly worthy of our attention. Are your kids that hooked on video games? Can we unhook kids from video games by spending more time with them doing things like sports, hobbies, puzzles, etc.? I think we can and we should!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


I would like to comment on the subject of perspectives. There is a huge amount of press coverage about Marion Jones' alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs (known as doping). In comparison, there has been much less about the massacre of thousands in Burma. Put in perspective, who cares about Jones' mistakes when we should be focusing on the agony of those that live and have died in Burma? Marion Jones is the victim of a corrupted sports system that encourages improved performance because it generates increased profits. The corrupt IOC has prostituted the Olympic games well beyond any possible redemption. They are guilty -- not the athletes. Let us keep things in perspective -- Marion Jones' is not a story worthy of our attention, the Burma massacres are! Why are we spending millions on dollars on investigating Jones' drug use instead of spending that money on helping those in Burma?

And speaking of perspective and money, how can we possibly justify spending billions on a police action/war when we are denying health coverage to citizens, including children, and we are allowing curable diseases to go on killing people? How can we continue to bankrupt our country with intervention abroad while people that lost homes during hurricane Katrina are not yet back where they belong? Yet another example of the corrupted ways of our representatives in Washington. Put into perspective, it is also a good example of what happens when a country gets too comfortable with the Status Quo and too intimidated to raise its collective voice to protest.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Ten Valuable Lessons for Kids

How many of us have struggled with money matters as adults? It would have been great if we could have learned how to manage money so that we could not make serious mistakes. Here is a great article for all of us parents that should help us guide our kids into financial success.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Drum Roll Please

Scene as we are driving home from the kids school:

MacKenzie: ... and then, guess what happened?

Me: What happened?

MacKenzie: Drum roll please.

Me: What?

MacKenzie: Drum roll please.

Noah: (Does the drum roll sound)

MacKenzie: (... tells rest of story).

Me: (laughing like crazy while trying to keep control of the car)

MacKenzie: ... and then, guess what?

Me: What?

MacKenzie: Drum roll please.

Me: Drum roll?

MacKenzie: Yes, drum roll please.

Noah & MacK: (Do the drum roll sound)

MacKenzie: (... tells rest of story)

Me: (still laughing like crazy while trying not to crash)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Online Videos

For the longest time I just could not get the big deal of online videos such as those served by YouTube. I confess, however, that I am hooked on them now. I have discovered a world of valuable information in these videos. Of course, there is a lot of crap out there too. But you can really find some seriously useful material. For example, I came across many Yoga lessons on YouTube -- pretty cool!

There are also many exercise tips and suggestions to help anyone be in better shape -- what a jewel!

You can find some very deeply inspirational videos. Probably one of the most inspirational videos I have seen is the "Last Lecture" by Professor Randy Pausch. It is worth every minute of it!

I will mention other powerful videos in future commentaries.

A friend of mine shared this link with me. For those of you that know me, it may surprise you that I have included that link. After all, I am not a church-going, religious person. There is a valuable message in the video and it made an impact on me. You see, I believe we are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Among the crap out there, unfortunately, is a rapidly spreading "joke" called "Fire in the hole". The idea has been disseminated through video evidence and has exploded into the biggest rage amongst teenagers. It is sad that the Internet can be misused in so many ways. But neither this example nor the many that preceded it will ever justify censorship. Justice will prevail and karma will handle things in due time.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Thousand Islands

I came across this fantastic website.

The pictures shown brought a flood of memories back and I almost broke down crying. Tracey and I held our second date near that beautiful river, not all that far from Thousand Islands. I love that area. It seems every time I hear Ontario, Canada, or come across those words in the media, I am flooded with memories of Tracey and our courtship. She missed Ontario's beauty and would have loved to visit Canada at least one more time before passing.

Image is copyrighted by Ian Coristine/

Is it hard being a Daddy?

This morning MacKenzie came into my room and looked at me from across the room and asked: "Is it hard being a Daddy?" My answer was: "Sometimes … but it is easy when you have kids like you." And I meant it. Noah and MacKenzie are awesome kids!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Matthew C.

MacKenzie has this "boyfriend" by the name of Mathew C. It is so cute seeing her excited about a boy. Saturday she wanted to call him on the telephone, so she got my permission and called. The first time there was no answer, but the second time she actually got to talk with him. It was adorable listening to her have a conversation over the phone. My little girl is growing up!


Days and weeks have gone by. On the way to lunch one day I realized how little I have been able to grieve the passing of Tracey. I guess being so busy (and exhausted) has not helped with this process. I am, however, very grateful for friends and family that have helped us through these difficult times.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Free Public Transportation

Everyday I drive to work and wish I could leave the driving to others. Unfortunately, the city where I live lacks an effective public transportation system that would allow many of us to save time and money. Some people are even calling for free public transportation and show that it would save all of us money in the long run. It is very thought-provoking reading, and shows a very worthy goal to consider for every community in the world.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Is It Illegal?

Is it illegal? Really? Hmmmm ... interesting! I am referring to blocking ads on web pages -- illegal? There is an article in that indicates there is a new legal battle brewing with the aim of forcing content down our throats. The article indicates that websites that depend on advertisements for revenue think it is illegal for ads to be blocked. I strongly oppose any content being pushed to my machine without my express consent. Just because someone paid for the ad does not mean I have to watch it or run it on my computer. This is similar to forcing us to look at every billboard on the road just because we are driving on it and someone paid for the billboard! Or forcing us to read every single classified ad in the newspaper because someone paid for it and we are interested in the news. At least with TV we can change channels, mute the receiver or get up and do something else during commercials. But when we access a website we only have one choice to avoid unwanted content: block it. The same technology that is being used to force ads on us is being used to protect us from this invasion -- it only seems fair to me! Web advertisers may just be hurting themselves if they support legal action that forces this issue and prevents blocking of ads -- would you visit a website that forces you to do anything? Would they not then become part of the malware family in that they would be invading people's machines with unwanted code? Personally, I will not support any enterprise that tries to force me into something. I always have a choice and will make it well known -- will you?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Stallman's Challenge

A challenge has been issued -- and we all love a challenge, don't we? Or do we? Richard Stallman has challenged all computer users to shake apathy and fight for the right to use computers freely. Will you and I make the time and put the effort forth to realize the dream of free computing? Or are we too busy or too lazy to do so? Please read the full interview -- your freedom depends on it!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Microsoft's Failed OOXML Standard

My commentary today goes to Microsoft's latest failure to force the world to accept the "standard" they decided would best suit them. Many things worked against this campaign, but the key appeared to be unethical behavior in Sweden. That may have begun a chain reaction. Whether the OOXML format was worthy of ISO certification or not is now irrelevant. The fact that Microsoft decided to cheat its way into success -- a strategy they are used to since the company's inception -- finally backfire on them in an international arena. Microsoft reminds me of the old monarchies that would do anything to accomplish their goal. Eventually the monarchies collapsed under the pressure of their corrupted ways. History repeats itself.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

More Stupid Corporate Greed

As a fitting follow-up to last week's commentary, I came across news of ISPs turning their backs on rural America and condemning them to the ineffective access we know as dial-up. There is a complete link to the story elsewhere in this issue. The point of the story is that short-term profits are driving ISPs away from expanding access to high-speed internet for all Americans. It is shameful that the USA is already behind Japan and various European nations in the speed of our internet networks. But the fact that rural communities are excluded from much needed broadband access is unforgivable. The short-sighted business decisions leading to these policies need serious reconsideration by all ISPs. What are the chances that they will do that? I have not seen wings on pigs yet. But maybe if we all start contacting our State and Federal officials we can begin influencing how ISPs operate in our areas. How about it -- are you willing to stand-up for rural America?

And speaking of stupid business decisions, it appears someone at Microsoft has decided that the great program called "AutoPatcher" somehow violates one of the thousands of rules, laws, regulations they have invented to make more money from the public. As of this writing, thousands of IT and computer-savvy users are being deprived from using AutoPatcher to update Windows systems while offline. Yes, another greed-driven decision that not only hurts the company that made the move, but mostly impacts consumers.

Please do not get me wrong: I am not anti-profits or anti-corporate; I am pro-consumer and pro-intelligence.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Multi-tier Greed

A new, alarming trend is beginning to emerge from the ISP providers of high-speed connections. Comcast has started a new multi-tier scheme concerning what a user can do with an internet connection. For now, they have blocked the use of bittorrent connections to seed ISOs. Customers fear that Comcast and other ISPs will begin tacking on fees for the use of the internet to do special activities, such as bittorrents, downloading music and video, VoIP, etc. I think this is outrageous! Greed is again driving companies to abuse their resources against the public's best interest. If you wish to voice your opinion on the matter, visit the link above or the Save the Internet website. Let your voice be heard now -- tomorrow it may be too late!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

How much is too much?

How much is too much? No, I am not talking about near-sighted attorneys suing the Red Cross. I am thinking in terms of screen space or "real estate." LCD screens rock and have become very reliable and economical. I have two 19" monitors at work and a 22" monitor at home. Recent studies, however, indicate that too much monitor real estate can actually decrease a person's productivity. And I completely agree with that. In today's super-charged environments of mandatory multi-tasking, how many things can we try to focus on before we lose focus (and our minds)?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Johnson and Johnson VS Red Cross

There has to be a limit. Really, now -- there has to be a limit to how stupid some attorneys are. But maybe not, if you consider the legal action that Johnson & Johnson has taken against the American Red Cross. At issue: the use of the red cross symbol. Guess what products I will no longer buy? This is what I call shooting yourself in the foot -- or a lose-lose situation.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Microsoft Embraces Open Source?

For as long as I can remember, the theory that Bill Gates and the original Microsoft team did not exactly "invent" DOS has been thrown back and forth. I have always thought that MS-DOS was a rip-off from UNIX. I also have been convinced that Gates and Microsoft ripped off IBM in the original deal that caused IBM to lose considerable market share. Now, a court has found evidence that some of these theories may be correct; please see the article listed below for more details. It definitely makes me feel even better about supporting GNU/Linux and other Open Source efforts. Now Microsoft wants some of their software classified as Open Source -- a move that, believe me, is not motivated by altruism. What is really behind Microsoft's embrace of the Open Source philosophy? Perhaps a way to circumvent licensing issues? Or maybe a new strategy to sneak into even more areas of software development under the false pretense of the Open Source initiatives? I am sure it will not be long for details to emerge.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Moon It Is

Noah and MacKenzie decided that Tracey now lives in the moon. Whenever we see the moon in the night sky, we say hello to Tracey. This gives them comfort and something concrete to look at as they grieve our loss.

Moon image from USGS.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Day 1

Today is Sunday, July 29, 2007. This is what I will forever call "Day 1." Today is the first day of my life as a widower and as a single parent. It is the first day for Noah and MacKenzie to be motherless and have only me in their daily routines.

Everyone is gone now. Tracey's Mom and Kayla left yesterday evening and made it to Canada without incident -- and that is great news because we were concerned about them crossing the border with all of Kayla's stuff.

The kids and I had a busy day. By 6:30 AM we were all up and having breakfast. We then stripped all beds, did laundry, and cleaned the house. By 1 PM we sat down to watch the NASCAR race -- I guess we were all tired because we fell asleep for about two hours. I surprised the kids and we went to eat at Moe's -- I decided that Sunday's will probably be our day to eat out (at least for awhile) so that I can get other things done (such as preparing meals for the following week).

Either because of the nap or because it was so quiet in the house, both kids had a difficult time getting to sleep. It was past midnight before they both fell asleep.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Birthdates are one of those celebrations that some people love and some hate. Tracey always thought birthdates were as important as Christmas, maybe even more. I usually took a more subtle approach (as I tend to do with many things). Today is my birthday and I am sad that Tracey is not here to celebrate with us. The kids (with help with their Grandmother and oldest sister) mounted a great little birthday party for me. I normally would not have mentioned the birthday here except to invite you to consider every birthdate as a very special day. However you choose to celebrate, make it the best day of the year. After all, this world would not be what it is without you in it!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tracey's Eulogy

These are the humble words I shared with those present at Tracey's Memorial Service on Friday:


Dreams are the Divine power within us that separates us from all other beings on Earth.

Dreams are God's gift to each of us so that we can fulfill our purpose in this life.

Tracey was a Master Chef of life. Every Master Chef has a signature dish that he/she shares with the world. It is usually made of the simplest ingredients, but the Master Chef's touch turns them into a delightful masterpiece. Tracey had a signature dish: her dreams.

Like all Master Chefs, her signature recipe was a secret, and she took it with her. Over the years I did learn of a couple of those ingredients, and I would like to share them with you. The first ingredient is quite simple: action. Tracey put lots of action in every dream, regardless of how small it was. I think that's what made many of her dreams come true.

The other key ingredient is not so simple, and we know it as love. Every one of Tracey's dreams was filled with love: love for her family, love for her friends, and love for her community.

Our Tracey is beautiful in every possible way. Her bright blue eyes remind me of a clear blue Spring morning sky, her smile brighten my days like the brightest sun, and her soul filled my every moment with love and joy.

I am very lucky to be married to Tracey. She is my dream come true.

A lucky husband

Why is it that we seem to take people for granted and we do not always fully appreciate them when they are with us? I must tell you -- I am a very lucky husband. Tracey is so very beautiful in all ways I can think of. I can only hope I have been a good husband to her. We should all live our lives so that we will never fear regretting any moments or actions.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Tracey's Update: Memorial Service

We have now finalized arrangements for a Memorial Service to celebrate Tracey's life:

Date: Friday, July 20, 2007
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: Prosperity First Baptist Church
115 Wessinger Road
Prosperity, SC 29127

Directions from Columbia:
* I-26 West towards Spartanburg

* Take Exit 82 (Pomaria/Prosperity)

* Left at the end of the ramp onto SC-773

* Right onto US-76

* Right on Wessinger

Directions from Charlotte:
* I-77 South to Exit 34

* Right at the exit ramp

* Follow Route 34 to Route 76 (you will go over I-26 just before you reach Route 76); this is a long stretch of road (45+ minutes at the set speed limits).

* Left on Route 76

* Left on Wessinger Road

Please call me on my cell phone if you need any other information.

If you are not able to make the Memorial Service, I ask that you take a moment at 7:30 PM to celebrate Tracey's life with a thought and prayer. Think of her sense of humor, her honesty in communicating, her dreams and aspirations, and all the good she did while she was with us. Most of all, please be happy for her life and for the time we shared with her.

Hugs and love to each of you,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Update on Tracey -- July 18, 2007

It is with infinite sadness that I must share the worst news I ever thought I could share with you. Tracey passed away this afternoon after fighting breast cancer for more than three years. Her daughters, Kayla and Jennifer, her Mom and Dad, along with other family members joined me in spending very significant moments with Tracey as she began a new journey.

I will let you all know of details of when a memorial service will be held. Whether afar or not, I ask that you join us at that time to celebrate Tracey's life and amazingly beautiful spirit.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you consider donating to the American Cancer Society or the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (

Hugs and love to all of you!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tracey's Update -- July 17, 2007

I spoke with Tracey's Oncologist this morning. Although the brain tumors do not appear to have grown significantly, the swelling in Tracey's brain has not subsided. The amount of steroids she is taking is as much as they can give her. Dr. Madden thinks Tracey may only be with us another day or two.

Tracey is being moved out of ICU and into a regular room in the Oncology wing.

Hugs and love go out to all of you.

Tracey's Updated (Juy 16, 2007)

I am very sad to let you all know that Tracey has had a relapse and she is currently in the ICU of Lexington Medical Center. She is unresponsive and her breathing is very labored.

Last Saturday, July 7, Tracey began having flu-like symptoms. On Sunday I took her to the hospital and she was admitted. The original diagnosis was of a stomach virus. The hospital did ultrasound tests of her gallbladder and kidneys and nothing unusual showed. An MRI of her head revealed that one of the existing tumors had grown about 2 mm, but the swelling in her head was significant. The hospital staff has been treating the nausea and headaches with various medications, and also restarted her on the Decadron steroid to control the swelling affecting her brain. By Wednesday, I was advised by the staff to prepare for the worse. But, Tracey being the fighter that she is, after a week in the hospital it looked like she was making a little progress towards a recovery.

Unfortunately, this morning I was called to let me know that Tracey's breathing was bad and she had been moved to the ICU. The hospital has scheduled a CAT-Scan of her brain and lungs to try to pin point the cause of the breathing problem.

I will do my best to keep you all informed of any changes as they happen.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Corporate Customer Service

Not long ago I read an article that, not surprisingly, sounded very familiar — as I am sure it will sound familiar to you. The article explains that consumers are dissatisfied with corporate customer services, especially when problems and concerns remain unresolved. Consumers are using other methods to seek resolution of issues -- including using small-claims courts to resolve matters. This is clearly a warning to all companies, small and large, to refocus on customer satisfaction and resolving problems the first time.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

We are being cheated — The Hot Fuel Effect

It is bad enough that gas prices are at near-peak levels, but now we find out that motorists in the USA are actually being cheated because of what is called "hot fuel." The USA Today has an article on this. It is clear to me that oil companies are extremely greedy and should be held accountable for what appears to be an unethical practice. Of course, if it comes to pass that they are found liable and made to pay — who do you think will absorb the cost in the end? I suspect it would be you and I that would pay for such through even higher prices at the pump. That is a loosing proposition for consumers. In the long run, the best option for all of us (including our fragile Planet), is to stop using fossil fuels and develop other ways of fueling vehicles. Also, effective, economical public transportation must be developed for all communities. Finally, we will need to realize that we need to change our priorities and use public transportation and car pooling to cut our consumption of fossil fuels. Only then will we be able to curb the greed of oil companies and implement real solutions to this increasing problem.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Technology's Usefulness

Sometimes I wonder if technology has reached the limit of its usefulness -- and some other times I plain think we need to get rid of much of it! I blame it all on the FAX machine, its introduction beginning the "instant gratification" or "instant results" mentality that seems to govern our daily life. Now, hackers have managed to invade people's lives through their cell phones. Please visit the News Tribune page explaining the horrors that these people are being subjected to by criminals using technology to harass and threaten innocent citizens. What have we done to ourselves with all this technology? We are not too far from exceeding the limits of reasonable expectations and turn the corner so that technology will become useless thanks to hackers, phishers, and spammers.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Protect Your Data!

It is interesting to listen to PC users, especially inexperienced ones, when they express concern for their computers. In most cases they are completely unaware of the need to do backups. Once they realize that it is inevitable that problems will occur (not if, but when), they often seem more concerned with protecting the software (including the operating system) than the data. This is well reflected in a blog by Steve Riley, a Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Senior Security Strategist. Considering the many economical choices technology offers today, there is no excuse for not having backups of all critical data. Here is my call to action: please spread the word -- data is far more important than programs. One can always re-install all the programs on a computer (it is a good idea to keep a current list of those installed, especially critical applications) -- but one can never replace data files like the photos of one's first born or that critical tax return (with supporting documents) that the IRS may require for an audit.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The AirCar

There are even more good news in the area of automotive designs that use alternative sources of fuel. I recently read about the AirCar. This design of transportation promises to bring sanity to the economics and the environmental impact of personal and family transportation. It is great seeing all these ideas finally becoming a reality.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Microsoft's Deals with Linux Vendors

Whether through fear or great salesmanship, Microsoft has inked two more deals with Linux vendors -- and they are sure to profit from them. Xandros and LG Electronics have signed intellectual property agreements with Microsoft so that they can be protected in case there ever is a lawsuit due to patent infringement claims. To me, this sounds like the old mob strategy of protecting the small merchants so that they will not have "accidents." Microsoft is using fear to make money. Interestingly, they have refused to come through with specific patents that would come into play. Many of us are sick at the prospect of Microsoft making money from the efforts of thousands of volunteers that have made GNU/Linux and Open Source products possible. We have the power to send a message to Microsoft and those that succumb to Microsoft's fear tactics. Will the message be that there are no limits to how much Microsoft can absorb and control? Or will the message be that we have had enough of their FUD and we are done with them and anything to do with them? I choose the latter.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tesla Motors: Hope for the Future

There is a great buzz around the automotive industry about a relatively new player in the transportation industry. The Tesla Motors products, all electric and high performance, could be the beginning of a revolution in personal vehicles. Many are excited about their first car, a sharp-looking roadster aimed at those with a lot of money. The vehicle I was very attracted to is a nice-looking mini-SUV that could be the solution to many people's problems. First, it is four doors, so it is family-friendly. Second, it has a pick-up style cargo bed that could be useful to most home owners and businesses. Third, it will run for about 300 miles at up to 100 miles per hour with a full load. Finally, the recharge time is set to be in minutes, not hours. There is a pilot group of these vehicles being delivered to one of California's power companies for initial testing. It is great seeing some real progress away from petroleum-based vehicles. This is not to say that electrical vehicles are 100% environment-friendly. After all, we still have to produce electricity, and some methods for electrical generation are just as bad for the environment as gasoline burning vehicles. But I do believe electrical vehicles will be a step in the right direction towards a better management of our planet's resources.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Is Vista the New Windows ME?

I still remember Windows ME, the big publicity, the great sales, people's expectations for a better Windows 98 -- and nearly everyone's disappointment when ME turned out to be an absolute mess. Apparently, I am not the only one that remembers the ME fiasco. Many of us believe Vista is another Microsoft product that should not have seen the light of day. Please read Justin Fielding's blog and you may gain a new perspective on the launching of Vista.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

FUD: Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

Microsoft learned well from its mentor. IBM mastered the art of FUD (Fear-Uncertainty-Doubt) in its marketing campaigns back in the 1980s and 1990s. This week, Microsoft shot the latest in a long series of FUD shots in a lame attempt to scare the computing community into not using open-source products because "they violate Microsoft's patents." What a pile of cow manure! Even the lawyer that wrote the report being quoted by Microsoft has come out to tell everyone that Microsoft is misusing the information in his report. He clearly told Microsoft that Open Source software is LEAST likely to be in violation of filed patents as compared to Closed Source products. Microsoft's attempt to scare us all is pathetic. Personally, I had already decided not to use Vista or any other future Microsoft products except as required by my employer. At home, we will slowly but surely become a Microsoft-free zone. There are so many better choices out there that it is a no-brainer concept. If we all help each other, we can send a clear message to Microsoft (and others like it): we will NOT be dominated by fear and misinformation. We have choices and the responsibility to exercise such and support organizations that demonstrate ethical behavior and attitudes. Clearly, Microsoft is not in that category.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


This week I saw the Cryptome website shutdown by Verio/NNT. Fortunately, it is now being hosted elsewhere. Why were they shutdown? Censorship. There were no specific violations specified, simply a reference to Acceptable Use Policy. There was also no opportunity to correct any problems -- just a notice that their account was terminated. Fortunately, John Young found a new home for his repository of knowledge and discovery. I encourage you to visit it and spend a little time going through the materials therein. I think you will find it worthy of your time -- but not worthy of censorship.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

7 Keys for Joyful Living!

I just read Chris Widener's latest article "7 Keys for Joyful Living!" and I think he is on target with all of them. He starts the list with "Know your purpose." I believe this is one of the areas where most of us tend to have problems -- we simply do not know what our purpose is! We go through daily motions and routines without achieving long-term satisfaction. One of the reasons I believe we struggle with determining our purpose is that the process of defining such takes time and patience -- and who has time or patience in today's hectic world? However, even if you can set aside 15 minutes per week to stop and think about your purpose in life -- and write your thoughts and feelings -- you will find that the picture will become clearer after a relatively short time. These few minutes are your minutes -- invest them wisely to define your purpose. Once you know what you are supposed to be doing in this lifetime then everything else will be so much easier to accomplish! I encourage you to read the rest of Chris Widener's article -- I am confident it will help you find more joy in life!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The State of Open Source

It is no secret to anyone that knows me that I am a supporter of Open Source initiatives. I believe in the concept of sharing our knowledge and efforts so that others can benefit. It is not just the fact that open source products are usually free. It is the fact that anyone is free to examine the working parts, make changes to them, improve them, and then share such enhancements with others so that everyone can benefit. That is the way it is supposed to work. As it often happens, greed is threatening this ideal model. Companies, large and small, and individuals have used open source property, modified it to suit their purposes, and then failed to share their contributions. In other words, they stole the community's property and broke the law by violating the licensing they agreed to. Open source as a concept and a reality is in trouble according to many experts. William Hurley explained it well in his "Welcome to Opensville, Population Zero" blog entry. The Jem Report also has an excellent article ("The Sorry State of Open Source Today") which gives more details about Open Source challenges. We have all benefited, directly or indirectly, by the mere existence of Open Source projects. It is our responsibility as part of the computer-user community to make sure the concept of Open Source is not corrupted by a few greedy parties.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tragedy at Virginia Tech

The tragic events at Virginia Tech's campus reminds us of life fragility. Nobody's life seems to be safe, even in a place we once considered such. Schools at all levels have been the target of violence. Columbine High School was one example. Virginia Tech was the latest. An arrest was made at my Alma Mater (the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY) last week -- a student was found at a nearby hotel room with illegal weapons. What were his intentions? Would RIT had become the next tragedy? There are so many questions and so few answers. Why are students turning against their own? What is our society doing about it? One thing is certain: we should realize how fortunate we are to be alive and safe. I am thankful for all the good things in my life and, more importantly, for all the people that enrich my every day.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The State of Cyberland

Things are getting bad in cyberland -- really bad. Maybe they have been really bad for sometime and I just have not experienced it personally. This week I received an email from what appeared to be trusted source. The content of the email looked legitimate and even mentioned a trusted person as a point of contact. It asked to go to a web site and gave a URL. I looked a the email several times and wondered if it was safe. Then I clicked on the link. You can probably guess by now what happened. Yes, I received a warning that the link was trying to lunch an EXE. Fortunately my system is setup such that little damage will occur automatically. For example, all my email is converted to Plain Text automatically. I have hardware and software firewalls. Scripts are not allowed to run automatically. I use Firefox instead of IE. I manually patch my system every month. I update my virus scanner everyday. I run anti-spyware weekly. And now I have added a keylooger shield. But what about the millions of Windows users that are not as experienced and careful? No wonder we have so much Malware hitting the streets of cyberland and damaging so many lives. Please be extra careful folks!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Tracey's Update: Living everyday to the fullest

On Sunday, a dear friend of ours (Tracy) came to spend the day with Tracey. As one can imagine, Tracey is having cabin fever -- so she decided to go out to Lowe's and get some plants for the garden. Tracy, Tracey and Noah ventured out in the early afternoon. They returned home two hours later with soil and plants for the kids and I to plant ASAP. Then Tracey spent most of the remainder of the day recovering from the outing. It was obvious that Tracey enjoyed being out and feeling productive. Noah was great help to both ladies.

Despite Tracey's obvious limitations, she is not giving up on life. Last Friday she began painting several picture frames for some projects she has in mind. It is slow going but she is getting lots of joy out of it.

"Portrait of a Friend"

The following was sent to us by one of our best friends:

"Portrait of a Friend"

I can't give solutions to all of life's problems, doubts, or fears.
But I can listen to you, and together we will search for answers.

I can't change your past with all it's heartache and pain, nor the future with its untold stories.
But I can be there now when you need me to care.

I can't keep your feet from stumbling.
I can only offer my hand that you may grasp it and not fall.

Your joys, triumphs, successes, and happiness are not mine;
Yet I can share in your laughter.

Your decisions in life are not mine to make, nor to judge;
I can only support you, encourage you, and help you when you ask.

I can't prevent you from falling away from friendship, from your values, from me.
I can only pray for you, talk to you and wait for you.

I can't give you boundaries which I have determined for you,
But I can give you the room to change, room to grow, room to be yourself.

I can't keep your heart from breaking and hurting,
But I can cry with you and help you pick up the pieces and put them back in place.

I can't tell you who you are.
I can only love you and be your friend.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Five Things That Should be Taught in School

For the longest time I have advocated that there are skills and knowledge that our kids just do not get -- in school or at home. Brian Kim mentions five in his Top 5 Things That Should Be Taught In Every School. It is very interesting reading -- and the comments from others are just as enlightening. One area that Brian does not mention and that I have always suggested is goal setting.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Tracey's Update: March 29, 2007

It is hard to believe that more than a month has gone by since my last update on Tracey. Where does time go?

There have been many developments since the last update. Tracey's brain surgery had better-than-expected results as the tumors are now smaller than the doctors had anticipated. However, Tracey has grown weaker, and her breathing has deteriorated substantially. On March 19 she fell in the bathroom because her legs were not strong enough to hold her. We went to the Oncologist that day and they ordered an Echocardiogram and CT Scan; both tests were done urgently on March 20. Tracey was admitted to the hospital that afternoon with a blood clot in her left lung. She had substantial amounts of fluid around her heart and in her lungs.

During the last few days hospital staff started her on blood thinners to try to dissolve the clot in her lung and to prevent others from forming. She was released to come home yesterday. Oxygen equipment and tanks were delivered at the house. Tracey spent the night downstairs but found herself uncomfortable, especially since it is extremely difficult for us to help her get up off the couch. So this morning we helped her up the stairs and she is resting in bed. Her breathing is very labored. She is unable to take more than a few steps without running the risk of falling.

Mentally she is showing some signs of deterioration, especially with short term memory.

"Now I am a man" - Noah

This morning I saw that Noah was struggling to put away a dollar bill that the tooth fairy had left for him when he lost a tooth last week. Remembering the tri-fold wallet I had found on the ground many months ago, I offered it to him so that he could keep his money. His eyes widened and his face lit up. "Really?", he asked.

As I handed him the wallet, he looked up at me and said, "Now I am a man!"

I could not be more proud of all our kids. I can only imagine what they must be going through as they deal with our family situation.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Self-Improvement Resources

I am passionate about self-improvement and about helping others. Those two forces drive much of what I do every day. Today, I would like to introduce you to two great resources that may help you or someone you know. The first is a website called 43Folders and, more specifically, to its page on "Getting Things Done". The methodology of "Getting Things Done" (GTD) is great: easy to use, inexpensive, and absolutely effective in getting organized for productivity.

The second resource I will share with you today supports the GTD concept and is called ThinkingRock. This site offers a free, cross-platform program that can be extremely useful in getting oneself organized for productivity.

There are many consequences of today's fast-paced life. For me, staying organized and productive has become a significant challenge. Staying focused to be productive is a huge undertaking in my daily life. The GTD method and the ThinkingRock program are helping me improve in these two areas -- I hope they will help you too.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Defining Our Mission in Life

There are a couple of thoughts that have been coming to mind recently. The first one is that "Those that stand for nothing will fall for anything;" the second, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." To me, what this comes down to is having a life mission. So many of us spend our lives going through daily motions and routines, finally realizing many years later that we are unfulfilled and unhappy. In almost every case, the reason comes down to not having a mission in life, of not knowing what we stand for and where we are going. Developing a mission statement is easy, but it does take some time and commitment. There are many free resources to help anyone to develop a mission statement. My two favorite websites are Ethical Will and FranklinCovey. The Ethical Will website offers many ideas on how to write this powerful life statement, and even allows you to download their software for free. The FranklinCovey website has an interactive process that allows you to build a mission statement online (no other software required). You can find many others on the Internet. It is important to remember that: 1) you will need to invest time into this process; 2) you will revise the statement from time to time, so don't try to make it perfect the first time; 3) it is better to focus on what you want to be rather than on what you want to have. A mission statement and/or an ethical will should give you a clear picture of who you are, who you will be, and how you will be remembered by future generations.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Security in Cyberland

Security continues to be the foremost subject in this week's news. Major companies from Cisco to Microsoft are patching their products for known security problems. Email clients continue to be under attack as a major effort is underway to exploit system weaknesses. With the increased popularity of computers and the Internet, our focus has shifted from enjoyment to management and damage control. Unfortunately, there are too many Internet and computer users that have neither the time nor desire to learn the intricacies of securing their computers against all the bad things that threaten them. Sadly, their inability or unwillingness to keep up with these issues make the rest of us more susceptible to attacks. The Internet worked best when all computers connected to it were essentially at the same level of protection. Problems became more substantial once the level of user experienced dropped below a certain point. This was compounded by the fact that inexperienced users far outnumbered experienced "geeks" that served as an "on-the-job training" force. Worse yet, programming languages became so easy to use that many took to coding as a hobby previously tackled by only the geekiest of geeks. And the new programs, whether virus, spyware, or otherwise, are even more readily available for others to use by simply tapping onto the Internet. What an irony -- the Internet is used to attack the Internet! It is up to experienced users and those willing to learn and to spread the word, to do our part to protect this valuable resource. The way I see it, it comes down to this: we need to care for others and share our knowledge and experience. The time for being isolated cyber-islands has long passed. Unless we band together to protect ourselves, as a community, we will continue to be at the mercy of those that have joined to destroy one of the best things to happen in the last few centuries.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Shutdown Day

Is it really possible? Can we live without touching a PC for just one day? I think it is not only possible, but a highly commendable goal. And that is why I joined the "Shutdown Day" effort. I work with computers every day for a living -- I have a computer-related side business -- I volunteer with computer-related boards -- do you see a pattern? On March 24, I will not be in front of a computer. Mine will be turned off at home the whole day. I will encourage everyone I know to do so too. One day of computer freedom! Imagine, also, the amount of energy we will save by turning off all that hardware! I will choose to spend time with my family that day, maybe do something physical like a long walk. I hope you will join in and be PC-free for one day!

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Technology and Our Legal System

There are technological issues that our legal system has been unable to cope with. One of them is malware, as shown by the outrageous case of Julie Amero, a substitute teacher that was convicted of various crimes because of malware in the school equipment she was using. The facts, from my viewpoint, are very clear and she is not guilty. If anyone should be convicted and sentenced it maybe the school computer network administrators for not protecting the school equipment properly. Or perhaps they should convict everyone at Microsoft for not building enough protection into Windows. They should definitely convict every malware writer that has used weaknesses in Windows and Internet Explorer to hurt everyone's computer experience. But Julie Amero should have never endured the unfair punishment she has already made to suffer -- and the prospect of her spending 40 years in jail for something she did not do makes me sick to my stomach. There is a blog that has contact information of those involved in the case. The transcripts are also available online. I think it is only fair that we all voice our outrage at this travesty of justice! Please support Ms. Amero in anyway you can.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Arrange your mind: a valuable life story

A 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud man, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with his hair fashionably coifed, and shaved perfectly, even though he is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today. His wife of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary. After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, he smiled sweetly when told his room was ready. As he maneuvered his walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of his tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on his window.

"I love it," he stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

"Mr. Jones, you haven't seen the room; just wait."

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," he replied.

"Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged … it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open, I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away. Just for this time in my life. Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw from what you've put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories! Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing."

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

A sense of gratitude

Tracey has been telling us about her renewed discovery of a sense of gratitude. For example, the day she left the hospital she turned to the nurse and said: "I have never been so grateful for the breeze on my face." Facing your own mortality certainly can highlight how precious life is and forces you not to waste any of it.

I have listened to Tracey and have been looking at things with an increased sense of gratitude. The other morning I was very lucky to glance up and see a sky full of stars. And this morning, after last nights severe weather, the moon was up, clear and bright … I am grateful for having a chance to see all these wonderful things!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Tracey's Update: Superwoman

After only three days in the hospital, Tracey came home today. She is doing very well -- a bit too weak for her own liking, but she always seems to have very high expectations for herself. She is my superwoman!

Dr. Madden (Oncologist) is very pleased with her progress. In a few days Tracey will have an appointment with Dr. Gunter's office as a follow up. On March 5 (Tracey's birthday) she will have the staples on her head removed. Then there is another post-op appointment scheduled for March 14. Dr. Madden indicated that he, Dr. Ezekiel and Dr. Gunter will get together to discuss what will be next for Tracey's treatment.

Stay tuned -- more exciting news coming soon!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Tracey's Update: Lunch visit

I spent lunch with Tracey and she is doing much better than any of us could imagine. She is walking, eating regular food, and Dr. Gunter began the process to transfer her to a regular room as soon as one is available. Such wonderful news! :-)

A thought from a dear friend

I received this from a dear friend and wanted to share it with you:

One day a woman's husband died and, on that clear, cold morning, in the warmth of their bedroom, the wife was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't anymore; no more hugs, no more special moments to celebrate together, no more phone calls just to chat, no more "just one minute." Sometimes, what we care about the most gets all used up and goes away, never to return before we can say good-bye, say "I love you."

So while we have it, it's best we love it and care for it and fix it when it's broken, and heal it when it's sick. This is true for marriage, and old cars, and children with bad report cards, and dogs with bad hips, and aging parents and grandparents.

Tracey's Update: ... And she talks!

Tracey made it through yesterday's surgery with flying colors! As soon as she woke up she said: "I can talk!" As she was moved from the recovery area to ICU, she heard her Mom in the hallway and she said: "Mommy, I hear you and I can talk!". I have never seen someone so grateful for the chance to use an ability many take for granted.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shake on it?

Shake on it? More and more, I wonder if I should. I wonder if shaking hands is really such a great idea anymore. As much as I enjoy the human touch that comes with a handshake, I wonder if we are being naive and transmitting all sorts of diseases by this friendly gesture. Perhaps we should acknowledge each other in a different way. Perhaps we could bow instead like other cultures do. Do they suffer less colds than we do? And if we give up hand shaking as a common ritual to prevent the spread of diseases, then what will we be forced to give up next? Will we be required to give up kissing? Come on someone, let's find the cure for the common cold and the flu -- I don't want to give up kissing!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Tracey's Update: February 13, 2007

It has been quite sometime since Tracey's last update -- sorry about that! Here is what has happened since and how Tracey is right now.

In January Tracey finished radiation therapy and things looked good. However, on SuperBowl Sunday (February 4), Tracey began experiencing double-vision, excessive fatigue, and a headache. We spoke with Dr. Ezekiel (Radiation Oncologist) and he re-instituted the use of the steroids to full strength. He also ordered an MRI for that coming Tuesday afternoon (Feb. 7). The following day (Wednesday, Feb. 8) Tracey underwent a PET Scan. On Thursday we received a call from Dr. Ezekiel's office indicating that the swelling had gone down but that Tracey should continue using the steroids at the present rate. On Friday, February 10, Tracey received a call from Dr. Gunter, a neurosurgeon, concerning an appointment for a consultation for possible surgery. That, as you can imagine, was a huge (bad) surprise.

On February 13 we met with Dr. Gunter to discuss Tracey's status. He indicated that, sadly, Tracey's cancer is not curable. He explained that once breast cancer reaches the brain, the aim of medical science becomes to extend the patient's life as long as possible. He told us that the largest tumor in Tracey brain is pressing against the area that controls speech. Unless she has surgery soon, the likelihood is that she will be unable to speak, then be unable to recognize speech at its latest stage the tumor would put pressure on the brain stem and she would die. This would happen over a period of a few weeks to a few months. With surgery, Tracey has a chance to live longer doctors cannot tell how long, but it could be as long as a year or more. One of the potential problems of this surgery is that she may not have use of her speech or be able to recognize speech.

After Dr. Gunter's visit we met with Dr. Madden, Tracey's Medical Oncologist. He gave us good news in terms of the PET Scan results becaue the test showed no additional cancer presence below the neck. If they had detected any new growths then he may have recommended against the brain surgery. However, he is still optimistic that Tracey will have anywhere between a year and maybe a few years of quality life.

Based on all the information we received, Tracey decided to schedule surgery for next week. She will be operated on February 22 at Noon. Dr. Gunter indicated this will be a four-hour procedure. Tracey will in ICU for a day after the surgery and three-four days in a regular room after that. During the first day there is a 50% chance that she will not have use of her speech. After that, there is a 10-20% chance that she will not regain use of her speech/speech recognition (and, unfortunately, there is no rehab for this type of functionality loss). However, there is an 80-90% chance that she will -- and that is what we are focusing on.

These are sad news in many respects -- but medicine continues to make great advances in the treatments for cancer. Maybe in the next year we will have other choices available. For now, we will focus on the positive odds and on enjoying every moment of every day. We hope you will too.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Our Word, Our Legacy

A thought has reverberated in my mind for a few days. I keep thinking that one of the most important assets we have as human beings is our "word," the sometimes elusive concept of personal commitment to complete what we say we will do in the best possible way. Most adults will agree that the importance of keeping our word is extremely high, yet they will also tell you that there are more and more examples of people not keeping their word on important matters. For example, I feel the computer industry has failed to maintain proper quality control on their products, failing to keep their word on what they sell. Computer users should not have to be concerned with the security of their systems because of lax quality assurance. To me, that is a broken implied promise by the computer industry. From WiFi chips to major software packages, all have been sold with security flaws that have caused all of us greatly in terms of confidence and the effort to "patch" ad infinitum to correct problems that should not have been there in the first place. Let us remember to keep our word and deliver only outstanding products and results. That is what others will remember us by.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tracey's Update: January 4-January 10

January 4, 2007, was family portrait day. Tracey had radiation treatment in the morning and we had a great session of family pictures in the afternoon. Again, Tracey packed as much time with her Mom and Jenny as humanly possible.

January 5 saw Tracey's Mom and Jenny leave to go back home. They departed very early and arrived safely many hours later. Tracey and I went to radiation in the morning and ran some errands in the afternoon.

January 6 - 7 were fairly uneventful days with a couple of exceptions:

• Tracey's hair began to fall and
• her blood pressure began to rise again.

She is not in pain thanks to a pain patch. Her energy is beginning to return but not enough to be at normal levels. On Sunday I trimmed Tracey's hair to about 3/8" long.

January 8: This morning I took Tracey to radiation -- one more to go. At night she asked me to trim her hair even shorter because it was falling a lot more now.

January 9: Tracey had her last radiation treatment and we met with Dr. Ezekiel (Radiation Oncologist). We learned a lot of things:

• Tracey's tumors were larger than we had been told before; one is 3 x 4 cm and the other 1 x 2 cm
• Both tumors are on the left side of her head.
• The "normal" long-term side effects of this type of tumor are minimal.
• The radiation treatment she just finished was whole brain to eliminate stray cells and to shrink the tumors present now. If they do not shrink enough or if they should regrow, then Tracey will need spot radiation to kill the tumor cells.
• She may or may not get her hair back -- Tracey thinks it will return.
• Dr. Ezekiel reduced the steroid medication in half until next visit. Tracey was happy about that because she is concerned with increased appetite and weight gain.
• Her next appointment with Dr. Ezekiel is January 16 at 3 PM.

We then went to see the wigs at Becky's Place at Lexington Medical Center; Tracey saw some that she liked and we made an appointment for fitting a wig. Tracey is looking for something different. I will not spoil the surprise. We originally set the appointment for 1 PM but then had to move it to 9 AM because of a new appointment with Dr. Madden's office.

We then proceeded to Dr. Madden's office to report the increased blood pressure Tracey has experienced in the last two days. Shannon increased Tracey's BP medication and asked us to come back on January 16 at 1:45 PM.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lessons Learned

I have learned many lessons in the last few weeks. Two of the most important things I can share with you is that it is critical to be proactive and prepared -- you never know when your world will be turned upside down. But if you are proactive and have made some contingency plans for "what if" situations, then you will be able to act (not react) when the unexpected happens. The second thing I want to share with you is to have routines (or procedures) that you use for all important tasks -- when those life-changing events occur, having established routines will help you to stay on track with life -- or easily delegate those tasks to others.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tracey's Update: January 3, 2007

Tracey spent her first day fitting as many events as possible. She tried to make up for the time she spent in the hospital. After radiation, she came home, rested a bit, and then spent the rest of the afternoon with her Mom and the girls. She even set up an appointment for a family portrait tomorrow (January 4) at 4:30 PM; we have been waiting more than four years for this!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tracey's Update: January 2, 2007

Home Sweet Home!

Tracey was finally released to come home on January 2. She had a radiation treatment and then we picked her up to bring her home. We just had to make a quick stop at Quizno's for some real food to go.

Tracey is suffering from muscle atrophy and major back pains. We are not sure why her legs do not work properly, but she is having a difficult time walking. We hope increased use of all these muscles will bring them back to their normal state.

Tracey will be going back to the hospital for radiation treatment for five more sessions. Then she has an appointment with Dr. Madden on January 16.

Thank you to everyone that has called, emailed, thought about or prayed for Tracey -- we really appreciate your love and friendship throughout these very difficult days! Of course, things would have been much harder without Tracey's Mom, Kayla, and Jenny -- they are real life savers!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Tracey's Update: January 1, 2007

The New Year started with a small set back -- the doctor had to up Tracey's pain medicine and would not release her until all medications were stable.

However, Tracey's spirits were good and she felt stronger and walked more around the floor. Things are starting to work properly with various body parts and we are hoping that she can finally come home on Tuesday (perhaps after getting her radiation treatment). Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Tracey's appetite is very good and she revolted against hospital food -- we brought her home-cooked meals for lunch and dinner and she ate almost every bite of both.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Tracey's Update: December 31, 2006

Sunday was a very good day for Tracey despite the fact that she was not released to come home. However, she is now free of all tubing and walking basically on her own power. In the morning I took her for a short walk and a wheel chair drive to the cafeteria for some "normal" food. She is still experiencing dizziness but it is a lot more manageable, and she is pushing through as much of it as possible. She has lots of back and leg pain -- but it is getting better with increased activity.

Jenny and I spent the evening with Tracey and took her for an even longer walk. She is in great spirits and all the medications seem to be working properly. As the evening progressed she did complain of a mild headache.

I am keeping my fingers crossed so that tomorrow will be the day she comes home.

Happy New Year everyone!