July 22, 2013

Summer Vacations

Posted by Scott at 06:43 AM

I was talking with my very good friend, Ed, last night and he noted that I hadn't updated the site in quite some time. It's true. I'll blame a few things. Certainly it's summer time and it makes me want to sleep in during the mornings. There's also the fact that my MacBook had a dying solid state drive (SSD). More on that later. And of course there's been the chaos of visiting Massachusetts General Hospital a lot.

So what's been happening?

Well, a little over three weeks ago Michelle started another clinical trial based on an inhibitor known as GDC-0068. The previous one was not effective. Our hope for this one is that it's quite similar to the first trial we did in the spring last year. That one was effective but not tolerated. This protocol is closer to that one. So far it's been well tolerated. Primary side effect has been an occasional upset lower stomach, quieted by Immodium.

Shortly after school let out, my nephew & godson Will came out to spend a week with us. The kids loved spending time with him. Little did I know he also snuck a birthday present for me on his flight.

At the end of June I had a birthday. I got some really thoughtful presents. Timothy got me a Google Play gift card. Will brought me some barbecue sauce from a favorite restaurant of mine near River Grove. Claire knit me a "Kobo Cozy" to hold the eBook reader that Timothy and I share. She and Michelle also got me a t-shirt that says "Always give 100%, unless donating blood". They also got me a USAF decal to affix to the back of my Android Kindle tablet.

The younger four children spent 2 weeks in the midwest. They flew out in early July from Manchester airport to Chicago Midway. They spent a few days staying with my sister and brother-in-law in River Grove, spent about nine days at my dad's large house in southwest Michigan, and wrapped things up with a couple more days in River Grove. From the stories I've heard since their return, they had a great time.

Near the end of their time away, Michelle and Claire also took some time off. They spent three days with friends up in Freedom, NH. Shopping, boating, ice cream, hanging out, etc. I think Michelle really needed it. It can be a bit much to go from a busy house to an empty house for any length of time.

Little did I realize what a hectic day last Tuesday would be for Michelle. She would visit a neurologist in Manchester, pick up her sister at Manchester airport, go to see her local oncologist in Nashua, and then pick up the children at Manchester airport. Had I known I would've taken the day off. Michelle has really enjoyed having her sister close. They can catch up, talk about parenting issues, share college concerns, etc.

This past weekend was rather slow. We had a longer-than-expected visit at Massachusetts General Hospital last Friday. I took the day off figuring we'd have a quick visit and then take the kids to the town pool. But we didn't get home until after 3pm and the kids were really apathetic about swimming. I wrongly figured we could just go over the weekend. It turns out though that the Milford Rotary used this entire weekend to sponsor a local area swim meet so the pool was unavailable all weekend.

On the plus side I did replace the SSD in my MacBook over the weekend. What a difference it made! The old one was failing in a mode that made the laptop randomly dog slow due to failing data blocks. I did my research to avoid a similar condition months from now.

Also on the geek front, I've been enjoying a Google Chromebook I bought in early June. It's only powered by a dual core ARM CPU, but between the lightweight OS and the fact that it's using flash memory instead of a hard drive, it feels pretty snappy. It's also pretty easy to give it an option to run Ubuntu on it at the same time, which really adds to its awesomeness.

As boring as it sounds, I'm also studying C++. Well, in theory I already knew C++, but I learned it in my early grad school days around 1989-1990. It was brand new then and nobody programmed it on PCs. There was little compiler support and it was barely out of the research labs. I then went into a world heavily dominated by embedded computing, not desktop or server computing. So even though C++ was picking up support, it was all but banned from embedded usage as too "heavy". Now that I've been back in writing C/C++ on powerful hardware, I'm finding out just how much the language has evolved since my grad school days. My original language reference was a few hundred pages, while now it's over 1300 pages. So I picked up some of the more recommended titles and I've been digging into them in my spare time. I'm seriously impressed by all that one can do with it now.

So today is the start of another work week. Michelle will teach her Step class today. She has a couple more days with her sister. They may hit a beach tomorrow. This week is her "week off" of cancer medicines — time for the body to bounce back and recover. If this trial shows promise, it'll be a continuous loop of three weeks on, one week off. I pray that we do get to continue on this clinical trial. Hopping from one protocol to the next hoping to find a targeted therapy that hits the target is emotionally trying.