Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love

I apologize for the lack of update on Maggie.  As you can imagine, it's been a very emotional issue for both me and the Scottish Lass.  

We saw the oncologist last Tuesday and the prognosis is extremely guarded.  They did an ultrasound and saw what looked like some evidence of the re-emergence of the fibrosarcoma on the heart.  There is a small chance that what they saw was merely fibrosis and scarring from the surgery, but they think that is unlikely.  Unfortunately, if this comes back again, surgery is not an option because the heart would now be involved directly.

Maggie had her first course of chemotherapy that day.  There is literally no record of a fibrosarcoma in the heart sac in the literature, so the doctor has no way of giving odds of success.  Maggie is doing combination therapy of doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide, two drugs that have shown efficacy in fighting fibrosarcomas, albeit in other parts of the body.  In typical Maggie fashion, she showed no side effects from the doxorubicin.  She slept for a while after the infusion and the next day she was right as rain.  She's one seriously tough little bitch.

We have a follow up in two weeks to see if the drugs have had any effect and if there is any evidence of the disease growing.  One thing that must be borne in mind is that chemo for dogs is not given at the same dosage (adjusted for weight) as for humans.  When doctors first started treating dogs with drugs, the owners were appalled at how sick the dogs were getting from the chemo.  As a result, veterinary oncology is more focused on providing as much quality time with the animal than on attempting to cure.

So, it is difficult.  But Scottish Lass and I have taken the attitude that we are going to be as positive as possible and hope for the best.  If the news is bad, at least we will not have wasted our remaining time with the MagDog in sadness.  I've taken to holding her for long stretches an imagining my love for her cleaning her heart of the disease.  Silly, perhaps, but it can't hurt.

For now, though, it's kind of a bizarre situation because Maggie is 100% normal.  There is no evidence at all that she is sick in the least.  She is jolly and active and happy and shows no signs at all of discomfort.  So, at the least, I view that as a positive.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Some Bad News

Just got word from the vet that the third histopathology test, which was performed by a specialist in difficult cases at the University of Colorado, showed signs of fibrosarcoma.  I have yet to speak to the oncologist about what they found, but it is kind of a mixed bag.  The good news is that surgery is the main treatment and Maggie's was about as successful as they come.  The bad news is that the specialist did find some evidence of malignant cells even in the margin of healthy tissue that the surgeon removed.

Fibrosarcoma is a tumor of the connective tissues and it is typically not metastatic.  It is, rather, locally invasive.  This is good news.  The presence of malignant cells in the margin of the resected tissue is a bummer though.

More updates as I hear them.

My God

October 23, 1982 -  My friend Cory Notrica's bar-mitzvah.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Delta is the Worst Airline

I got to San Francisco this morning.  Unfortunately, my bags did not accompany me.  Nobody at Delta seems to have a clue where they are.  Now, when I call the lost baggage number, it is just busy.

With no business clothes, this trip is becoming pretty pointless pretty fast.  

If you can avoid it at all, I implore you:  NEVER FLY WITH DELTA

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Where Was This Hillary All Last Year?

The media are making a big deal out of this moment in the Democratic debate.  The story seems to be that Hillary was overly angry or out of control.  Now, I am certainly no fan of Hillary.  If she is elected, I'd seriously consider moving to London for the next four years.  But I don't see what's so bad about this moment.  Her essential point, that making soaring speeches about change is not sufficient, is actually the strongest argument against Obama.  The vibe around him has become so messianic that it is getting a bit ridiculous.  Even if he turned out to be the greatest President in history, Obama is not going to be able to live up to this hype.

The President's job is not primarily to give exciting speeches to the public.  His job is to push his policies through by working with or (sometimes) outflanking Congress.  This is something that is overlooked far too often.  President Bush may be despised by many because of his policy choices,  but he has run rings around Congress and proved to be uncannily successful at defeating resistance from the House and Senate.  His one misstep was on amnesty for illegal immigrants, but that was due more to a complete mis-read of the nation's mood than to Congressional maneuvering.  Remember, that was a bi-partisan initiative.  (And, not inconsequentially, something on which McCain can still be hung in this election.)

So, much as I despise Hillary, she is making a valid point.  Being President is about execution.  That's why they call it the Executive branch.  She's probably not in the best position to make this particular criticism as she doesn't have any real executive experience, but her criticism of the constant bleating about change is pretty spot on. 

And this is really my biggest concern over Obama.  He is intelligent and passionate.  He communicates well and connects with people.  This would give him a powerful shot at being elected with a large majority and, thus, a reasonable mandate.  He is smart enough to surround himself with good policy advisors.  But I can't see anything in his background that gives me confidence that he knows how to be an effective executive who can push his agenda through Congress.  This is why Americans do not typically elect Senators to be President.  They elect Governors.  I don't know if this is a conscious choice for most, but somewhere, voters seem to cotton on to the idea that you should elect somebody with executive experience for the executive job.  This campaign is unusual in that there are really only two real candidates with executive experience (Romney and Giuliani).

Which is why a McCain/Obama race is so interesting.  There is no advantage on political executive experience there.  They are both Senators, but Obama has so little track record in the Senate that he is not open to the attacks on his record there.  McCain is more open (although he is in an unusually strong place on Iraq because he was such a vocal critic of the conduct of the war and Rumsfeld), but the flip side of that is that he has a ton of experience by comparison and he can make a credible case that Obama is far too green by comparison. 

And he'd be right.  I'd prefer it if Obama ran for Governor of Illinois and came back in a few years with a successful record there.  He'd be pretty much unstoppable then and I would feel comfortable that I knew what we were getting.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Cold Air, Bright Lights

The view from last night's flight courtesy of Mano.

Insert Your Own Joke Here

It's tough to be a monkey when your mate needs the private jet, the house in Hamptons and the winter house in Aspen.

Some Humor

How can this guy be so stupid as to think it is not America's fault?  What does he know about Iraq anyway?  Doesn't he understand that sophisticated people just know that the UN can only do good?

Some Many People to Hate, So Little Time

The Misanthrope was supposed to be in San Francisco for his best friend's birthday today but he is not.  Instead, he is wired with coffee and working on about three hours of sleep (due to a very enjoyable night with Mano, the Scottish Lass and her lovely friend from London who is staying with us this weekend) and muttering under his breath about never flying Delta again.

My flight this morning to SFO was cancelled due to the crazy weather that has been battering California.  The equipment for the flight never made it out of SFO last night.  Obviously, Delta (an acronym for Doesn't Ever Leave The Airport) called all of the passengers last night and told them the flight was cancelled, right?

Uh, no.  They told me at the airport, where I had arrived on time at 7 AM because nobody had called me to tell me the flight was cancelled last night.

So I called Delta to re-book the flight.  First, I spoke to some guy in a call center in India who asked a lot of questions, took up about 10 minutes of my time and then said, "Okay, I will now transfer you to somebody who can make the booking."

Then I spoke to a woman who had clearly lost her lust for her work a long time ago.  She put me on hold for 12 minutes and then came on to tell me she had my flight rebooked for tomorrow...except, wait, no, sorry, that flight is actually sold out.  It seems that all the people Delta DID call last night took advantage of the early notice about the flight cancellation to rebook, eating up all the seats on the other flights.

Then, my cell phone dropped the call.

I worked it all out eventually, although I will not get to SF until Monday, but along the way I got to hate so many people.  To borrow a phrase from the late, great Bill Hicks, I am a camel of hate and today I was able to fill my hump to capacity.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Speaking of Hillary

There was a fantastic email yesterday with a mock press release from Deanna Favre stating that she was taking over the QB position because, even though she had never actually played football, she has been married to Brett for 11 years.

When it comes down to it, that's pretty much Hillary's whole pitch, isn't it?

More Cowbell...uh...Horsepower!

This article struck a chord with me as it mirrors something I've been thinking and saying for some time.  Environmentalism has been sold poorly to the public for too long.  The whole thing is always presented as some kind of moral crusade where compliance means eating tasteless gruel because it is good for us.  It's always about some kind of sacrifice.  In the case of topics like anthropogenic global warming (which I am beginning to suspect is going to be viewed by future generations as a bizarre quasi-religious hysteria based on awfully weak evidence), it is hard to escape the impression that many of the eco-evangelists are more interested in beating down capitalism and technology than they are in the science of global warming.  

This allows the opposite side to spend all its time arguing against the anti-capitalist and anti-technology agenda instead of dealing with the issue of efficiency.  I have long thought that many of the so-called "green" technologies could be adopted and pursued more easily and broadly if they were simply marketed as good old fashioned Yankee ingenuity and thriftiness.

So it comes as no surprise that this guy is doing something that Detroit seems unable to do.  They spend too much time building ugly cars and lobbying in Washington to avoid increases in fuel efficiency standards.


It may be a bit premature to start singing "Ding, Dong, The Witch Is Dead," but I was delighted to see Hillary get pummeled in Iowa. Last night we had a visitor from the UK staying with us and when she found out the result, she expressed disappointment and said, "I kind of want to see a female president." The Scottish Lass immediately replied, "So do I, but I want a HUMAN female."

But my joy extended also to Obama's victory. Yes, the Iowa Caucuses are bizarre, often meaningless and hardly the model of democratic process, but it is pretty clear that he has the energy and momentum in this race while Hillary is stuck in neutral. It will be particularly enjoyable watching Hillary meltdown because she pushed so hard to move the primaries early to avoid a bruising nomination fight. Now that she has lost the lead, that strategy looks likely to backfire on her as she has little time to fight the inevitable "Obama the Conqueror" momentum. If he repeats in New Hampshire, I think it is over.

Which is fantastic. I want to believe in Obama. I think he's probably a really great person to hang out with. He is clearly intelligent and thoughtful and I think he has passion. Unfortunately, when you look at his platform, it mostly boils down to using the government to solve all problems. And I have been less than impressed with him when he is asked questions about difficult issues. It is not sufficient to blather on about the "politics of hope" and pretend that disagreement will magically disappear just because an appealing person is President. But there is still time and the general election campaign will shake a lot of this out.

On the Republican side, I don't see Huckabee sustaining his strength in New Hampshire. I think the real winner in Iowa was McCain because Huckabee put such big dagger in Romney's by-the-book campaign. McCain has been quietly surging in New Hampshire and he could breakout with a strong showing there. Rudy is the X Factor.

But the most enjoyable thing about the results from Iowa was looking forward to an Obama-McCain race or an Obama-Giuliani race. It would be such a pleasure, particularly in the latter case, to see two articulate, intelligent candidates debate. Let's hope that such a race happens and can re-invigorate our sclerotic political process. With Iraq fading as an issue, Bush departing and a Democratic Congress with the lowest approval ratings in history (even below Bush's - how incompetent do you need to be to be less liked than Bush??), everything is up for grabs in this election.