Sunday, August 31, 2008

Where I've Been

My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer about a month ago. For a number of weeks I helped her by long distance (I'm in NYC, she's in Dallas) figure out the specifics of her situation and investigate her various options so she could make an intelligent decision about what to do, specifically a decision that took into account her age (79).

When she did make a decision, and when her community of health care providers gave her approval for surgery, she elected to have a "lumpectomy" and follow that up with some hormonal therapy, since her cancer was of a type that responds well to that. A number of her consultants encouraged her to have radiation as well, but she decided against that (in my opinion a wise decision) because it offered little in terms of increased lifespan and carries a significant therapeutic burden (showing up somewhere five days a week for six weeks).

It was day surgery, she tolerated it well. The next day we did a little shopping and ate lunch out. She has a follow up appt with her surgeon 9/8 and we'll find out the final details about the tissue she removed and the margins and such. Essentially, this was a cure.

We didn't get a date for the surgery until about 1 pm on Aug 22, and the date was last Tuesday (August 26) at 7:30am, so I had to get a flight from NYC to Dallas in a hurry. My Gosh, that was expensive, even using a "compassion fare."

My best option turned out to be Jet Blue, JFK to Austin (Jet Blue doesn't fly to Dallas, but they do fly to Austin). Even then, the ticket was so much I couldn't afford to rent a car, so I asked my friend tuckfoot, who owns a Toyota Prius and has a lot of time on his hands, to drive me up to Dallas (about 200 miles) and around Dallas while I was there, in exchange for his meals and all car expenses (we have mutual friends in Dallas to visit as well).

It is good to have friends like that. After 5 days attached at the hip we were pretty sick of each other, and tuckfoot was sick of driving, but I have to say it's good to have friends like that, it was truly yeoman's service. I was never without someone to run an errand or talk to. That was good.

Flying to Austin also gave the opportunity to spend some time with friends in Austin, and to soak up some Central Texas culture--food, music and drink--something that always recharges me. I am in Austin now, though while here I jumped on a fare sale at American Airlines to book a return trip at the end of September to spend some more time with my Mom in a few weeks.

Also, while in Texas, someone broke into my apartment in NYC and stole a bunch of stuff from my roommate. I don't know yet what I've lost, if anything, but a nice thing about having few possessions is I had all of my really valuable possessions with me in Texas when this happened. More about that later when I know more.

So, while I was down here the Democrats had their convention and both candidates named their running mates. It hasn't been the focus of my attention, though I did hear all of the major speeches live.

Biden was my choice for VP for Obama, so I'm glad Barack took my advice there.

Sarah Palin is a remarkably inept and puzzling choice. I'm sure she's an awesome person, you don't go from Mayor to Governor and enjoy 80% approval without having some successes and charms, but if McCain thinks a pro-life, gun-toting, Evangelical Christian, self-styled "hockey-mom" is going to win over Clinton supporters in large numbers then he has even more contempt for Hillary's supporters than I thought.

Also, in one fell swoop he obliterated his top negative message, i.e., that youth and inexperience disable Obama's ability to serve as President.

McCain is elderly, cancer-prone, and has a risky lipid profile (bad cholesterol numbers). His supporters care about the VP a bot more than usual because the chances are better than usual that the VP will end up as President if McCain is elected. He had to dig pretty deep to find someone with even less of a governmental resume than Obama, but he did it. Now he has absolutely no credibility whatsoever asserting that youth and inexperience in a potential President are risky (you might have noticed that this message has vanished from the political discourse except in the way that i bring it up here).

The not-hard-to-look-at Sarah Palin will satisfy a swath of the Republican base, but these are the same people who still think George W. Bush is doing a good job. This is not a voter pool that is going to expand, college students (who may or may not actually vote, we'll see) alone overwhelm them in numbers, and these right-wing "values voters" would have either voted for McCain or stayed home anyway no matter whom he picked. I'm all for MILFy politicians in the news, I hope someone can dig up some photos from the 1984 Miss Alaska contest, particularly the swimsuit competition, but for an Obama supporter, the news couldn't have been better. It makes you wonder if McCain *wants* to lose.

I also didn't expect that Bill Clinton would give the best speech at the Democratic convention, but he did. Obama's was quite satisfactory, but he didn't hold in the audience in his palm like Bill Clinton did. I didn't actually see much of the convention, I mostly listened to it on the radio.

I'll probably see most of the Republican convention. I doubt I'll do so silently. :-)

Good to be back.

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