Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Miscellaneous Information

I have several e-mail addresses. None of them are very reliable but the best is doyleshoover@yahoo.com

I've completed the second series of radiation treatments.

A radiation treatment involves laying on a movable table on an X-ray machine while the technicians push & pull on your body until an intersecting pair of lasers are aligned with dots that have been tattoo'd on your torso during your first visit, when the location of your tumor is determined through a series of X-rays.

Once your body has been calibrated to the X-ray machine, the typical treatment involves TWO sub-critical bursts of X-ray's, aimed so that the critical amount of energy is achieved ONLY where the two beams of X-rays intersect.

An X-ray treatment may take as little as ten minutes, although twice that is more the norm.
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Today I commenced the next scheduled sequence of chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is a Nine Dollar word for treating a medical problem with drugs... or chemicals. In the case of chemotherapy as applied to CANCER, chemotherapy typically refers to intravenous injections of a quart or more at a time. In the broadest sense the chemicals drip-drip-dripping out of their plastic baggie and into your arm are POISONS. The dosage is carefully calibrated so as to kill the cancer without doing too much damage to the patient, although there's usually some. In some cases the chemicals cause your hair to fall out, the generation of spurious pains, nausea of monumental proportions and even changes to your personality triggered by chemical imbalances.

There are solutions for each of these problems, mostly in the form of other drugs and chemicals, such as an anti-nausea drug, a pain-killer and so forth. These drugs don't prevent the chemotherapy problems, they simply reduce their effects to a level we can live with, on the assumption that once our chemotherapy is completed and we can stop taking the chemicals, the problems they have precipitated will cease.

That means the trick is to get through your course of chemotherapy as comfortably as possible. Alas, we humans are so variable in our make-up that it takes some degree of experimentation on the part of the physician to arrive at the proper dosage of these counter-chemotherapy drugs that we may find the happy medium before conclusion of the chemotherapy, which can run for a number of months in some cases. How do we know that? By keeping track of our blood chemistry.

Blood samples are drawn every seven to ten days and fed into automated blood analysis machines. The results are printed-out on a report similar to a spread sheet, showing the measured amount of a particular chemical followed by a footnote showing the normal range for that particular chemical. For example, the normal range of White Blood Cells (as per cubic microLiter of blood) is 4.6 to 10.2, meaning a measured WBC level of 9.3 would be acceptable, while comparison to past blood tests would tell us if the trend is rising, falling or steady. This procedure is applied to more than two dozen chemicals or characteristics that reflect normal blood.

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Once your blood chemistry reaches -- and maintains -- a stable state for a period of eight to ten weeks it indicates the causitive element -- the tumor or what-have-you -- is no longer active. Not cured, simply inactive. But that means your chemotherapy has been effective, and that you may chose to reduce your blood tests to once a month or an even longer period. This is not as risky as it may appear since you would still be performing a daily measurement of your Basic Vital Signs, such as your weight, blood pressure, pulse rate and body temperature. If your tumor becomes active it will usually cause a change in your Basic Vital Signs, giving you plenty of warning --- more than enough to schedule additional blood tests.

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I'm sitting in the kitchen, where I've homesteaded a corner near the back door... and immediately adjacent to a small bathroom. I am wearing clean, freshly laundered new clothes that very comfortable although their size (LARGE) would not have fit me a year ago.

Oddly enough, some of the new clothing is NOT from China ! ! The baseball cap is from MEXICO and one of my new shirts is from Bangladesh, which makes me something of a world traveler without having to leave home. (Or rather, without having to leave Wal-Mart :-)

-Bob

Thursday, January 7, 2010

On Writing

I've been writing since I was about fourteen. I'm not too sure why other than things seemed to have more permanence if I wrote them down. Each day the sun will rise and set but the day is not mine unless I make note of its passing. The writing grows from that simple root, in that while every day begins with the dawn no two days dawning are ever identical. To emphasize the obvious, I'm talking about the fact that on some days the sun is obscured by clouds or rain or being too lazy to make note of it. Or the day promises heat or the still expectancy of something about to happen. It is that expectation rather than the day itself that prompts me to write.

There are a million differences in the day. Just as no two people are alike, so too are the differences in each day. Frankly, I've a hunch most people don't see the differences. Life for them must be a tale of dull repetition. For me, it's waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Most of my writing has been of a technical nature, an effort to explain the obscure in friendlier terms. Which works well enough for things that are fixed and will not change from one person to another, such as replacing a washer in a water faucet and sending the insidious drip-dripping to hell. But try to apply those writing skills to something as obtuse as human emotion and you'll quickly learn why there are writers... and then there are writers, which begs the question: Which one are you? It's possible that you have the rare spark of genius that is the foundation of every writer that is any good at all.

Anyone capable of communicating via the written word is a writer in the broadest definition of the term. Indeed, think about it for a minute and you will see that literally everything around you, from the slogan on the side of beer truck to: 'He is my friend, faithful and just to me;' is the product of a writer although clearly now we see some are better than others.

Within a fairly narrow range, writing may be learned, so long as we restrict that definition to grammar, spelling and the like. Which means you may have that spark of genius, smoldering beneath the ashes like coals in a stove. I think everyone should brush away those ashes, to see if they can coax fire from those coals. Because if you can, you owe it to those who can't.

Everyone who has every written anything at all eventually tries their hand at real writing, such as a novel, stage play or movie script. That's when you discover it might be wise to stick to washers, fixing faucets and explaining why you must loosen the lug-nuts before jacking up the wheel.

"You should write a book!" (Heard not once but many times.) The truth is, I already have -- and several times over. But the chore isn't the writing of a book, which isn't all that difficult. The secret is in selling what you've written. For without the incentive of good, old fashioned money there isn't any reason to spend the endless hours to find the perfect word needed to convey the image of the sun sliding slowly out of sight behind Catalina.

So thank you. Knowing you've found something of worth in what I've written is warmly appreciated.

-R.S.Hoover

Friday, January 1, 2010

BANG!!

You s q u e e e z z e the trigger. It slips the sear and the hammer is driven forward by the cocked spring, which drives the flint past the frizzzen generating a shower of sparks to land in the pan holding a tiny charge of fine-grained primer-powder. The powder is ignited and flashes BACK into the barrel of the rifle, where it ignites the main charge, lightly compressed under the lead ball.

When the main charge ignites, it BURNS... it does not EXPLODE (although it happens so fast our PERCEPTION is that an explosion has taken place). When the powder burns, it raises the PRESSURE under the lead ball to tens of THOUSANDS of pounds per square inch. Not for very long, of course... too much pressure for too long will cause the mild steel barrel to fracture. But when the lead ball can MOVE, that is what happens.

Pushed by the pressure of the burning charge, the lead ball is driven from the barrel of the rifle. But since there are several groves in the barrel, the lead ball will follow the groves, which form a spiral, making one complete revolution for every three or four feet of the barrel's length.

Pushed by the pressure of the burning charge, the lead ball is driven from the barrel at velocities as high as two thousand feet per SECOND, although that is a bit higher than the norm. By actual measurement, a comepletely home-made rifle -- lock, stock & barrel -- drove a 0.454" lead ball at a muzzle velocity of 1375 (avg) feet per second.... and since the ball was rotating at the rate of ONE REVOLUTION for every forty-eight inches of travel, it means the ball was rotating at 1375 / 4 or about 345 revolutions PER SECOND... which is about 20,000 rpm. And at 20,000 rpm the spinning ball proves to be remarkably STABLE.

In effect, the lead ball has become a gyroscope that tends to remain stable, which is why the bullet flies true... we hope.

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Can YOU do that? Can YOU build a rifle that will keep your family fed and protect you from those who might try to harm you? The record shows that you can. In fact, the tooling needed to fabricate such a weapon is available to virtually EVERYONE because it is based on easily understood principles. You can even manufacture your own GUNPOWDER... which is why the contraversy over 'gun control' is such a joke.

-R. S. Hoover
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