Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not In The News Friday Saturday (NITNS)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

I am still determined to crank out an NITN every week, whether Friday or Saturday! So, this week's story is kind of a continuation about my amazing kids. Yesterday, my oldest son was on the "old laptop" (Dell Latitude CP-i - circa 1997) which has Windows 2000 and somehow figured out how to record himself playing the recorder onto the laptop hard drive -- using Windows Media Player 9 and no microphone!

Now, what makes this pretty amazing and cool is that neither my wife nor I could figure out how he did it! We're the adults, after all, and I'm supposed to be the computer whiz of the family! Pretty amusing, actually.

And don't think I intend to leave out my youngest son. He quietly impresses by consistently being on the Honor Roll at school and never making less than a 90 on well, anything! He gets really upset at dropping from a grade of 99 to 97, like it's a major failure! I had to give a little perspective on that, like how many people would be very, very happy with a 97? Also, he's a gaming genius (both he and older brother are) on the Nintendo Gamecube or whatever he can wrap his brain around.

I could say so much more about my sons...but I'll leave that for future posts.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My New "Toy"

As I wrote yesterday, I got a new laptop. This is the first brand new laptop I have ever bought. I went with a Dell because I know their workmanship and you can get some pretty good deals through Dell's website. I looked at this as an investment, so I went ahead and loaded up on the features I felt I'd use most, such as the processor (a 1.73 Ghz Intel duocore), ram (2 GB) and video ram (256MB NVidia GeForce Go 7300 Turbocache). It has an 80GB harddrive and the Windows Vista Premium operating system.

Once I got it out of the packaging and set up the AC adapter, it took me a few hours to configure it the way I like. I got rid of some softwares I felt were unnecessary or intrusive, like McAfee Security Center and Google Desktop. Once I tapped into my secure wireless network, I downloaded and installed software that I wanted such as Firefox, AVG Free Antivirus and Open Office 2.2.

Then there was the defragging. I thought that was going to take forever! But I had to do it, all the uninstalling and installing was really slowing down the laptop.

I was very impressed with the way Vista Premium looks! I know it's only doing things that Macs have been doing for years but I never thought I'd find a version of Internet Explorer that actually worked well and looks pretty good! I still have a preference for Mozilla Firefox but IE was working hard to get my attention.

Also, I was relieved that Microsoft still makes it possible to do just about everything four different ways in Windows. If the "new" way doesn't suit you, or you want to access an "old" tool, all you have to do is dig a little and you'll find it.

I still have more goodies to install and bookmarks to copy from Google Bookmarks, etc. but I am already very happy with my new toy.

Best Wishes,

Friday, April 20, 2007

Did I Mention I Have Incredible Kids?

My oldest son did something remarkable today. I had ordered a new laptop from Dell and it was scheduled to be delivered sometime today. I let my sons know about this before they went to school this morning.

I was concerned that it might be delivered while no one was home and that I'd have to contact them and re-schedule the delivery for some other day. And of course, they did come in the early afternoon, leaving a note that they'd tried to deliver the package.

Enter my oldest son. He sees the note when he and his brother get home, calls the shipping company and asks what it would take for the package to be re-delivered this afternoon. The shipping company asked him several questions, so he went over across the parking lot to the leasing office and asked them the questions. After getting the answers, he relayed that info to the shipping company over the phone.

They then asked him for the tracking number for this shipment, so he promptly called me on the cell phone to ask for the tracking number. As it happens, I had easy access to that information and relayed it to him, which he relayed to the shipping company. Somehow, he then arranged for the package to be delivered to the front office of the apartment complex and signed for by one of the staff. My son then proudly picked up the package and went back upstairs to the apartment with it.

I was supremely impressed at his initiative and his desire to help me get something that he knew is important to me. He showed a lot of love, intelligence, problem-solving and determination. It means a lot to me. I had to share it with my wife and she was equally amazed and proud.

Just some more positivity to share this Friday.

Best Wishes,
Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week, there's been plenty in the news. Plenty of horror with the Virginia Tech massacre and plenty of mourning. Today is actually a Day of Mourning. But I wasn't about to let that detract from NITNF. Instead, I'd like to offer one person's story of hope and triumph in the midst of a life-threatening illness. I don't know her personally but this story is truly inspiring. This is Kim's story.

Kim's Story
Originally written Saturday, August 12, 2006

Kim was diagnosed with a GBM in 2004. In her story, which she has titled, "An Unwelcome Stranger," she shares how she has coped with radiation and chemotherapy. She expresses her hope that her story can be a "light at the end of the tunnel" for others.

March 3, 2004 started out like any other day, but ended in a way that changed my life forever....

I was at work, like every Monday through Friday, and was sitting at my desk working on my computer. That was my last memory until waking up in the Emergency Room of a local hospital. I had no idea what was going on. I was terrified! A nurse or doctor told me that I had had a seizure at work and that I was at the Emergency Room. I thought I was hearing things. There must be a mistake...I've never had a seizure before and I had been feeling fine. My brain would not believe what my ears were hearing. I asked what time it was and when I was told it was 4:15 pm, I couldn't believe that either. Last time I remembered looking at the clock it was 1:00 pm and I had just got back to my desk from lunch. How could over three hours have passed! I couldn't accept what was being told to me. My head was spinning a mile and minute and I just couldn't comprehend what was being told to me. I have never been so scared in my whole life.

I asked if my boyfriend had been notified and they said that he was on his way. I was so relieved when he got there. I kept telling him that I wanted to go home and that they have the wrong person; that they somehow made a mistake. He told me so gently that they didn't make a mistake and that I did have a seizure. He said that my boss and some co-workers were sitting in the lobby of the Emergency Room and he had spoken with them. They came back to see me and from the looks on their faces, I knew that everything that was told to me was true...I really did have a seizure.

During the next few weeks, I underwent many tests to see if the doctors could figure out what caused my seizure. I was so hoping that it was just some sort of fluke that I had a seizure. I wasn't sick or having headaches or anything like that before the seizure, so I thought for sure that the doctors would not be able to find anything that caused it. Unfortunately they did find out what caused my seizure; a brain tumor. I was devastated. I had brain surgery almost immediately. Waiting for the results of the surgery was so agonizing.

About four days after surgery my surgeon called for me to come in. I knew right then that it was bad news. And I was right. He said I had a tumor; it was a GBM. He was holding my hand the whole time he was talking to me. I had him on one side of me and my boyfriend on the other side of me. The doctor said that I had to put my life on hold and spend every minute trying to get better.

I immediately started radiation; 33 treatments which took 6 1/2 weeks. Along with the radiation I took chemo pills too. I was extremely sick! I remember crying a lot saying that I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired. My boyfriend would never let me have negative thoughts and always told me not to give up hope and most importantly - told me that I was going to survive this. At that point in time I didn't believe him. I wasn't eating, or drinking, or doing much of anything but sleeping. My doctor said that was OK, that that is what my body needed. I slept 20 hours a day, I lost 30 lbs. and looked and felt like a rag.

I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel, but my boyfriend kept telling me that it was right there, that he could see it. He never once showed me how afraid he was. I continued with chemo even after radiation was done and went from taking pills every day to taking them less frequently. Slow, but steady, I started feeling better. I was able to stay awake more and able to eat; actually was getting my appetite back! I had many MRI's, still do, and every one of them since surgery has come back clear! I am so very fortunate. And I am so very fortunate that I had a person like my boyfriend in my corner. He is my number one supporter! He made me a believer! He also made me his wife!

It is now 28 months since my surgery and I am doing great! I am so very fortunate that I am doing so well and have no residual affects from all of this.

I've realized many things over the past couple of years. One of them, that life can change at the drop of a dime; that cancer doesn't only happen to "other" people; that this unwelcomed stranger can show up at any one's door at anytime. I've also realized how many people love me and care about me. It still amazes me. My co-workers brought dinners almost every night during my radiation. And everyone always sent cards, good wishes and prayers. My family and I have also grown closer together. I am finally back to feeling "normal" again. I still get tired some days, but other then that I feel good. I have been off of chemo since November, 2005 and life couldn't be sweeter.

So when you are in need of that light at the end of the tunnel, the same one that for awhile I couldn't see, just think about me and I can be that light for you.

I hope that everyone who reads this goes away with a smile on their face and hope in their heart.

Source: American Brain Tumor Association - Survivor Stories

Monday, April 16, 2007

Feeling A Bit Better...

If nothing else, I can say I got rest and spent some quality time with my family last weekend. Being sick also forced me (forced me, I tell you!) to take Friday and Saturday off from work. Several days, some antibiotics, narcotic cough syrup and many liquids later -- plus a healthy dose of TLC from my wife and kids -- and I am on the road to recovery.

I actually went to work today, which was an interesting experience. I woke up this morning just barely feverish -- with a temperature of 98.9 -- feeling icky and sore beyond belief. I finally got some relief from that after getting some ibuprofen on the way to work but still quite woozy and disoriented. After some prayer before starting, I managed to muddle my way through.

I have to take this medicine through tomorrow, then my brain should be able to focus better. Prayers and well-wishes are appreciated.

Best Wishes,

Friday, April 13, 2007

Not In The News Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

This week...I'm pretty ill. I actually went to the doctor today because I'd been feverish for two days with what felt like a head cold. The doc explained that there's a bad bacterial infection going around and it's very infectious. Anyway, he prescribed antibiotics, cough medicine, rest and plenty of liquids.

So, peace out this weekend. I'll be back soon!

Best Wishes,

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Not In The News Saturday Friday (NITNF)

NITNF will usually be a bit of trivia that I found interesting and thought you would like. It may be IR-related and it might not -- but should always be fun...or at least fascinating.

I'm going to have to start brainstorming on Thursdays because I am creatively dry these last few Fridays. After a good night's sleep, I can usually come up with something pretty decent. Here we go this week...

This June is my 20 year high school reunion. Yep, I graduated with the Class of 1987. I was not enthusiastic about the 10 year reunion. We could afford to go but they wanted to hold it in a beer hall and that was, well, repulsive to me. So I passed on that opportunity, even though it meant not seeing my old friends and fellow classmates. I really wasn't ready, either.

A few years later, I tried to organize a "Millennium Reunion" for 2000. The idea failed miserably (apparently, a lot of the ones who did go to the 10 year reunion didn't want to be reminded of it a few years later) but it did give me a chance to change my feelings about contacting and meeting my old classmates.

In high school, I was fairly shy and reclusive. My passion at the time was journalism, but I was also very involved in drawing comic books and developing my interests in music. I didn't date and I was totally into heavy metal, death metal and black metal. And just to make life a little more interesting, I was the first student in my high school's history to do album reviews on such lively (or is that "deadly") music. It earned me the nickname "Satan," which I found hysterical at the time (I don't anymore).

By the time I was 16, I had my first electric bass guitar and amplifier, plus sound effects foot pedals for flanging, heavy metal distortion and digital delay. Interestingly enough, none of these effects are usually associated with electric bass guitar -- but you might say, I was inspired. I also had my first cheesy Casio synthesizer keyboard which also had a built-in cheesy drum machine (cheesy, that is, until pumped through digital delay effects).

My musical inspiration for electric bass was Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. Oddly enough, my vocal inspiration was Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Initially, I recorded just about everything I did on a little jambox with a tape recorder. By age 18, I would rent four-track recorders for more complex recordings that were closer to "real songs." It was a fun, crazy experimentation period in my life, although some of the songs would probably either bore you to tears (especially the bass only instrumentals, although they did help me learn quickly) or make your hair curl. I am sure I contributed to the growth of many of my parents gray hairs during that time period. A couple of years later, I would actually go into the studio to digitally record my first (and only) solo album titled Allen Steadham - Dreams & Wishes. It took 3 years to record, had 9 songs and was 44 minutes long.

Okay, 20 years have passed. Many of my classmates are either married or divorced, have children, etc. I can only imagine how much each of them may have changed with the experiences they've had over the last two decades. I know I have radically changed. Physically, I really haven't changed much (although I'll admit, I do miss some of my hair sometimes -- oh well)...but I have truly changed emotionally and spiritually. As you can see by the musical influences of my teen years, even though I was a part of a family that called itself Christian, nothing about my life reflected that...quite the opposite.

All I can say to that is I am so glad God intervened in my life and gave me the chance to turn things around.

So, I'm looking forward to the 20 year reunion. I didn't realize how many friends I had until the years passed and I thought about all the people I had individual good memories with and fun experiences. I had so many bad memories of high school as a result of my own angst, which didn't have much to do with any one person in particular, that I didn't think much on the good times. When I started to do that, it really lifted the dark "angst cloud" and helped me see that we were just a bunch of kids with no idea what we were doing. There's something strangely comforting in that concept.

Anyway, I have no idea what to expect from the reunion but my interactions with my classmates who are organizing it have been positive. It's still months away but I'll let you know how things go.

Best Wishes,