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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Wish I was (sic) a Headlight...

Blogging tunes: 1.FM Chillout Lounge

I'm listening to Internet Radio this morning, because I'm in the process of updating the Squeeze Center server on my ReadyNAS. I love the ReadyNAS+Squeezebox solution, but the server upgrade process is right out of the VAX/VMS days of the late 80s and early 90s.

Look at all the steps on this web page, and note how many times as NAS reboot is required -- each reboot is a good five minutes.  I'm currently on Step 5 -- re-run CleanSqueezeCenter. Oy vay.  Last time I updated (from 7.5.0 to 7.5.2) there was a bug with "large libraries" so I had to downgrade (back to 7.5.0.) Well, 7.5.4 has been out for a while, and it seems stable, plus it fixes some sync'ing related bugs that drive me nuts, so I'm trying again.

Regarding the title of this entry, I finally convinced Floyd to listen to something other than Crimson, White, and Indigo (GD JFK 7/7/89) Disc 2 on his iPod while going to bed.  For the last couple weeks, all he says is, "I want Scawlet (Scarlet), Fire, Estimated, Standing on the Moon, Drums".  Then this past week he's only wanted Scarlet over and over.  He gets out of bed and puts the iPod on "Repeat One" so it just plays Scarlet.  This was just a little too OCD for my tastes, so I told him if he puts it on "repeat one" again, I was going to take the iPod away -- that, at least got him to let the full Disc 2 play.  BTW, this was my second show, and it was fantastic.  I highly recommend the full CD/DVD set.  Only $32 on Amazon right now.

So what's he listening to instead?  He's listening to the 3/15/90 release Disc 2.  I guess even a three-year old can figure out that the best part of a Dead show is typically the Second Set up to (and often including) Drums.  Since he really loves Terrapin, and already knows Samson, it was just a matter of getting him into Chinacat -> Rider.  Chinacat is just awesome, so he dug that immediately, and the "headlight" verse in I Know You Rider  got him all excited, so now we have another winner.  Of course, grammatically, it should be "I wish I were a headlight..." but hey, it's a traditional -- they didn't write it.

OK, Squeeze update finally done.  Now it's gotta spend the next 12-18 hours rescanning my music library:

(click to enlarge)

By the way, big thanks to "Big Nose" Bob (Rob) Spike for bringing Floyd an old (but fully functional) pink iPod mini to replace the old blue one which finally died earlier in the week.  Bob spent Friday through Sunday with us -- it was great to see you, old buddy.  Next time try to write the lot, section, *and* space correctly on your long-term parking lot tigget. :)  Here's the new iPod showing Floyd's favorite new set:

OK, OK... I know what you're thinking... "get to the update already, jg!"  Well, there's not a ton to report -- I guess that's good news. I saw my team on Thursday of last week and won't see them again until this Thursday.  They were closed for Memorial day, and, since, I'm doing so well, they said that rather than come Tuesday and Thursday this week, I could just come Thursday -- as long as I promise to take three magnesium tablets per day (in addition to my daily IV mag.)

I guess one thing that stands out is that Dr. Olin and a fellow on Dr. Damon's team both said that, for being two-months post-transplant, they've never seen anyone in as good-a-shape as I am.  That's pretty cool, considering I'm still pretty tired all the time.  Olin did all her Medical School at Penn, so that makes me feel pretty good about her opinion. :)

In case you didn't know, the recovery time, post-BMT, is supposed to be around 12 months.  That's several months of not being able to do much of anything, and supposedly up to 12 months of not being able to work.  Well, my plan is to blow that out of the water.  Goal is to return to work in Sep/Oct.  That's always been my goal, even before I heard about this 12 month mishigas.  We'll see.  Hang in there, Benji!  I'm kickin' as hard as I can.

One complication that's arisen is that I'm tending to get dizzy if I try to get up too fast from sitting or lying down.  I don't mean a little light-headed, I mean like major spins such that I have to close my eyes, lie back down, or really brace myself.  Not sure what's up with that. :|

In other news, yesterday, Floyd and I went on a killer bike ride / walk.  (He rode, I walked).  According to google maps, we did about a 1.2 mile loop.  Felt longer to me.

(Floyd riding)

(The route - click to enlarage)

There was a pretty big hill on Grand, and he pedaled up the whole thing. After that walk, and a few games of Hi-Ho Cherry-Oh, I was completely exhausted -- it was definitely nap time for daddy.  Later that night, before he went to bed, I asked him what was the favorite part of the day, and he said "the bike ride."  I said, "What part?"  He said, "pedaling hard up the hill."  Nice.

On Sunday, after Bob left, Monique and the kids came over and put the new play set to the test.  As we suspected, it was a big hit.  Here are some pics of the kids and the play set over the last few days:

(Assembly: view  from our bedroom window - it rained all day on the guys - oy)

(Floyd: "Higher, daddy!")

(Floyd: "I said HIGHER daddy!!!")

(Orion loves his baby swing) 

(It's a play structure party!)

The other addition to the backyard is a pair of Bose 251 speakers.  Now we can jam out while we play whiffle ball, or swing and slide.  Apparently, these things can handle the elements and they sound terrific.  Big woo.

(Left speaker)

Speaking of whiffle-ball, Orion has figured out how to put the ball on the tee all by himself.

(Now whadd'areya gonna do, O?)

Taking it inside, Evans and Emily got a little four-hands going on the piano.

Then Rob M stopped by and did some epic towers with Floyd:



Finally, Sarah brought Jaedon and Rider over!  6 kids -- wow.  Thank goodness for the 3 moms, 'cause daddy was s-p-e-n-t SPENT.

Suffice to say, the afternoon was filled with falls, screams, sharing issues, and everything else you can imagine.  Of course, the kids were cute too.  Here Evans and Floyd hid George the chimp under the blanket and are keeping him hidden.


Oh great, the Music Scan just aborted with this error: "Music scan terminated unexpectedly (Directory Scan)."  I'm pretty sure this is the same problem I had with 7.5.2.  If it doesn't work the second time, the Logitech guys are really going to hear it from me.  What am I supposed to do?  Stay on version 7.5.0 for the rest of my life?  Uggggggh.

OK, last but not least, I finally took to using the clippers on my face.  Yes, I'm starting to get a tiny bit of hair -- only on my face.  It looked absolutely ridiculous, so I had to buzz it.

Oh, how could I forget!  Heather's brother Jeremy (well, Jeremy's wife, Kara) just had their first baby: Sebastian Tycho Spiller.  Mazel Tov, Jeremy and Kara!

OK, I think that's enough for now.

I will kick its ass,


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner

Blogging Tunes: David Gilmour - Live at Gdansk

"Uncle" Matt Schaeffer, my sister in-law's brother, is staying with us this week.  He's been here since Sunday and has been helping out a ton.  He's got two young boys of his own (in Philly) so he knows the drill.  Floyd loves playing baseball and "doing iPad" with Uncle Matt, so they are really hitting if off.  I don't have any pics of them yet, but I'll take some and post on my next entry.

Here's one of Uncle Matt with Orion:

Speaking of hitting, it was nice to see the Phils bust out last night (10-3 win over the Reds) in Utley's 2011 debut.

(Dude's shirt says "METS SUCK" - haha)

(Chooch was safe -- bad call, blue)

Matt drove me to my clinic visit yesterday.  I saw one of the doctors and one of the fellows on Dr. Damon's team. They essentially said that of any "Day +53" recovering stem cell marrow transplant patients, I'm in the best shape they've ever seen.  Now that's pretty f*ckin cool.

I'm still tired most of the time, but I feel like the energy level is picking up a bit this week, which is great. Still no hair growth, except the tiniest of whiskers coming in on my mustache -- not sure if you can see in this pic.

(jg - 5/24/2011) 

This is a far cry from how I looked oh, 15 years ago.  I know these pics are really scary, but since Jackson sent me a bunch of old yeP! pics this week, I had to post these two classics.

(scary jg with Tocchet jersey, mullet, floods, and Docksides.  OH MY!)

(scary jg from the back -- holy jeez!)

Still haven't heard my old band?  Check out some of the shows on the Live Music Archive.

Let's see... what else is going on?  In addition to shelling out way to much cash on play structure for the kids (coming this Thursday), it's clear that we're going to need to re-landscape a little in the backyard. The previous owners put the patio stones down waaaay too close to the big redwood.  The stones are already being pushed up by the roots:

So we're gonna pull everything back about a foot.  Not sure when though.

Last but not least, had a rockin quarter.  Too bad my stock stops vesting while I'm on leave.  Just another incentive to get back to work sooner than later!  salesforce is an amazing place to work.  Check out the job ops on our careers site, and let me know if you're interested in anything.

I will kick its ass,


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Music Has Magic; That Stuff of Syncopation

Blogging Tunes: Pink Floyd - Delicate Sound of Thunder / Pulse

Well, I said I wouldn't let this much time elapse between blog posts, but I did it again.  I know I have the laptop, but I guess I really like to sit at my computer desk where I can multi-task, check in on work stuff, have the multi-monitor setup and all of that. You would think it's not that hard to get a few hours of uninterrupted time where your body cooperates, but it's surprisingly challenging.

So, where we last left things, I was about to walk to the San Rafael Social Security office.  Not the most efficient place, but we got what we needed, and a nice surprise in the form of a poster.... OH MY!

Coincidentally, I received my "Notice of Award" from the Social Security Administration in yesterday's mail. A word to the wise: don't go on long-term disability if you can avoid it.  I'm not going to get into the details, but it's such an administrative nightmare to deal with the benefits.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy that the benefits exists, but I wish the system were simpler.  Here are two posts discussing the issue in more detail: (post 1 | post 2).

So what's been happening... Heather's mom stayed with us for more than a week after she returned with Floyd and then flew home to Massachusetts on Saturday. Diana, it is so wonderful to have you around -- you are always welcome!  The adjustment period was a little tough for Floyd, but he's been getting a lot better (fewer tantrums, less whining, more cuddly.)

So this is our first week post-BMT with just the four of us -- i.e. no additional help.  What I'm finding is that if I can get to sleep really early -- like 9pm -- and nap when Floyd naps (on the days he's home) then I can actually get up at 7am and help Heather with the kids.  The last couple mornings, I got Floyd in the shower while Heather dealt with the O-man.  So far so good.

That said, my energy-level hasn't really increased much since my last post. I felt like I was on an upward trend, but it seems to have leveled off -- which is apparently normal.  The extreme fatigue period can last several months after hospital release.  It's been about 5 weeks.  That puts as at Day +48.  The docs continue to be psyched with my progress, and we may even reduce the clinic visits to once-a-week soon.  Weight is still hanging around in the 148-149 range -- at least I appear to be stabilized.  Appetite is still weak and taste buds aren't right, but I'm hanging in there.  Kitkats, Ice Cream, pasta, oatmeal, you name it.  Still can't gain tho.

I'm still getting IV Magnesium every day, but the dosage was recently reduced from 4 grams to 3 grams.  If I can get to a low enough dose to take it orally, they can remove my Hickman Line.  The only issue there is that oral Mag can cause all kinds of digestive issues -- now you know what's in Milk of Magnesia -- and right now, it's hard enough for me to get all my pills down, so we'll see. The only new complication is a mild case of peripheral neuropathy.  It's not bad now... just a little burny/tingly feeling on my feet when I walk.  Hopefully it'll go away on its own -- but there's no guarantee.

These last couple days were actually pretty productive.  I was able to get a little (shhhh!) work done, and I've been cleaning up my iTunes Library.  I wound up with a ton of duplicates (long story), so I've been deleting 'em and cleaning metadata as I go.

We've also had some fun times around the house and the neighborhood.  About a week ago, this lovely creature was scampering around our backyard (click for hi-rez)

Here's another:

She hung around for a while but eventually was able to get through the fence and rejoin her mama.  Ridiculously cute.

Last week, a guy came by to tune the piano for the first time.  After six months, it really needed it.  He did an amazing job -- it sounds better than when I first played it. He also made some adjustment that tightened up the action on the keys. It really plays great.  Thanks, Laurie for the recommendation.  Need a piano tuner?  Check out

On a totally unrelated note, I've been watching some ST:TNG reruns. Low def shows take up no DVR space, so I'm recording everything they show on SyFy.  I think there's about 65 episodes saved.  In the last couple weeks, we've watched Yesterday's Enterprise, Clues, First Contact, Captain's Holiday, and Time's Arrow.  Can't wait til it records The Inner Light, which is, by far, my favorite TNG episode ever.

In other news, absolutely HUGE shout out to Salesforce's own Vijay Swamidass who made a super cool photo mosaic of me using Salesforce Chatter profile pics.  Remember this pic I posted back in February before the transplant when my hair started growing back?

Well, check out this version!  (Click for hi-rez)

(click me! click me!)

This image was entitled "SFDC behind jg" and was created with metapixel -- an open source photo mosaic generator.  There are links to more photo mosaics there.  Thanks again, Vijay.  Very cool.

Last but not least, a blog post wouldn't be complete without a couple family pics, so here are two:

(Floyd making a cupcake)

(Floyd being a love bug with H and Orion)

So that's it for now.  More of the same.  Slow and steady improvement, daily walks, a little work around the house, paperwork, and lots and lots of rest.  Speaking of which, time for a nap.

Thanks to everyone who continues to follow my story.  Come visit when the rain stops.  Much love to all.

I will kick its ass,


Friday, May 6, 2011

Even the Losers... Get Lucky Sometimes

Blogging Tunes: somafm - Groove Salad

So I may wear rose-colored glasses when it comes to Philly sports, but I am not delusional.  The Flyers have no chance at winning this series.  I don't think they even have a chance in Game 4.  It's not that I have lost faith in them, it's that they have lost faith in themselves.  Hell, if TB can sweep the Craps, then the Broons can sweep the Flyers.  Boston/Tampa ECF?  Bye-bye ratings.  Oh well, at least most of my Flyers buddies have baseball season to pick up the slack.  Of course one of my buds is a misguided Mutts fan.  If there's no football this year, he's got a lonnng summer ahead of him.

Big thanks to Brandon, Sean; and Tripper, Freebird, Drew for comin up for Games 1 and 2 respectively.  I'm still not very mobile, so it was great to have visitors.  Alas, I know many of you don't give a flying fork about Philly sports, so here's the update.

First of all, a HUGE shout out to my brother who ran a 10 mile race (Broad Street Run) last weekend to raise money for BMT awareness and leukemia research.  His goal was to raise $1000, and he killed that by over 230%.  Here's his page if you want to check it out.  Way to go, BoM, and thanks to all the people who donated.

Also, big thanks to Bud for coming to stay with us for a few days and helping with Orion.  We still have open dates on the calendar, so if you want to come visit to help, just peek on the Helping Hands calendar for openings.  If you don't have access, just let me know and I'll share it with you (you'll need a gmail addy.)

Now, about me.  Minus the hockey debacle, this has been a good week.  I'm starting to get a little more energy back, and I've actually stabilized my weight.  I'm still way below where I should be (approx 148lb) but at least I'm stable.  My appetite has increased slightly, so I'm able to eat bigger meals.  Heather makes me one of those weight-gain shakes every day too.

(soon I'll look like this guy - Beefcake!)

I had another clinic visit yesterday and my doctor says things are looking great.  My counts are exactly where they want to see them.  The kidney function looks fine and I haven't been bothered by any pain -- so who knows what's up with the stone.  Maybe it's happily surfing in my bladder.

The only thing they want to see is the littlest bit of GVHD.  Right now, there's none, zero, zilch.  This isn't necessarily bad, and in fact, it's possible that it's very very good.  But the docs usually like to see a smidge of GVHD.  I say, eff that.  I don't want it, I don't need it.  Full recovery w/o GVHD here I come.  I'll keep you posted on this.

Gramma and Floyd arrived Wednesday -- Floyd had gone to stay with Heather's mom for two weeks in Massachusetts while I had zero energy -- it's really great to have him back.  Gramma did a great job helping him start potty training. Today he's even wearing big boy underpants to day care.  He agreed to wear underpants primarily because "Jerry does".  Hey, whatever works.  Here's a pic of Floyd and me from this morning:

Here's another pic from this weekend when Heather and I went to look at play structures for the yard.  Orion was having a great time on the swing.

Visitors are more than welcome now that I have some energy.  I've already had two this week (in addition to the hockey folks).  Was great to see you Nina and Brad.

OK, time to take my morning walk.  Today, I'm going to walk to the Social Security office in San Rafael -- gotta fill out one more form related to disability benefits.  Oy.   According to google maps it's 0.7 miles.  I think I can do that.

Talk to y'all soon.  Come visit!