Sunday, May 30, 2004

more school stuff

so it seems that i'm not quite as far along as i'd thought, if only because getting to where i need to be will kill me during the summer. so rather than do that, we'll not and move on during the fall. i'll need to get some advisement before fall registration begins from the folks at uta. registration opens june 15. fun fun fun.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

School Registration

My school has a totally awful registration system that apparently is outsourced. It has the unpleasant feature of being totally down from midnight Saturday morning until 6:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. That's right, you can't register, look at your grades, drop courses, print a transcript, or anything similar all day Sunday or Monday. If I'd designed such a system with that much downtime during critical business hours (like, uh, Monday), I'd be working in Redmond.

So I've been trying to use it tonight to plan my school activities for Fall 2004, since registration opens June 15. I'm not having much luck.

If I get really lucky, I will have completed the core and be able to transfer out by the end of Fall 2004. If I haven't finished the core by then, I will be in the unfortunate position of having to take only one or two classes for Spring 2005. That's not healthy if you intend to not waste your money but go fll time. Finding things that will transfer will get much, much harder.

Bad bad.

But if I can:
a) Stuff one ITV course into Summer 1, and
b) Stuff one or two ITV courses into Summer 2, and
c) Stuff two labs and a science lecture into Fall on Tuesday and Thursday before, say, 2pm, and
d) Take the second science lecture by ITV in fall, and
e) Make it to all the orientations, and
f) Pass all that,

then I have a shot.

The big downside is that I'll have to take US History Before 1876 to complete the history requirement. I wanted to take Texas history, but they're not offering it in any configuration I can make work with my schedule.

Of course that all presupposes I can find a school I want to go to that will take my transfer.

I hate this. Mostly I hate my school's registration system.

Sleeeeeeep ...

I got a butt-kicking today from Sue, who says I sleep too much. She's actually right. I went to sleep yesterday about 9:30 pm and didn't get up for almost 18 hours. And I've done that several days in a row.

i hate feeling like this.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

more stuph

trying to get dc running. i found a linux client called dcgui-qt and it seems to work but the bandwidth limitation rules in it absolutely suck and kill my bandwidth. bad bad. trying to learn how to do it in linux but nobody knows and/or wants to help.

michelle added me to her blogroll. considering that she and i have pretty disparate views about some political topics, i'm surprised yet appreciative. she and her site impress me.

as i write this i'm compiling kde. kde is ... big ... and compiling it, even on my big box, takes a long time. but i got gtkrellm2 running and so now i can watch the cpu monitors go nuts. is cool. it's got this eth0 monitor that i haven't learned how to read yet tho, it's always maxed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

sometimes

at times it's hard for me to read some blogs about infertility, but there are also times when you read one that kinda warm the heart.

i remain ever so greatful for the luck we had with ours, but reading about the heartbreak of it all is hard sometimes.

if any of yall read this from the trackback, i promise, it can work.

Monday, May 24, 2004

gentoo

gentoo's admin-level interface is considerably different than most other distributions. it uses sysv-init, unlike my much beloved slack, and has a reasonable package management system, near as i can tell, like debian. it doesn't seem to suffer (yet) from the stupidity of rpm hell, so that's a plus. some of the very largest pieces of most systems (gnome, kde, X, and oo) are available precompiled if you want them. i've got a big and fast enough machine that i'm going ahead and compiling it all myself.

i don't understand why, tho, the oo source install depends on the blackdown jre, instead of the sun jre which i already have installed. oh well. whatever.

i got eterm working, which is my choice of x terms. mej is a cool guy too.

blah

sue's been grouchy all weekend. no fun. i spent the weekend installing gentoo. despite the slowness of the install (since i did a stage 1), i do like it.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

nerdly notes

audio conversion from audible format to mp3 format ... is slow and painful. but it's going. her dogliness has offered a cpq machine for the purpose. it's some kind of old pentium ii job with 64 megs of ram, and at some point in the distant past i put a 5 gig hard drive into it. but it's too slow to do much other than real-time rip and it doesn't even have the hard drive space for that. i may have solved that problem by sticking on the old usb 1.1 hard drive onto it. that drive is 20 gig and has enough working space for what i want to do with it. maybe the cpq machine is slow enough that it won't choke because the drive is so slow.

michelle has been offering me some tips and tricks in setting this monster up. the all lower-case is a css tip she offered, and i'm enjoying it very much. i think the next thing i have to do is fix the color scheme. the blue is better than the default army grey-green, but not as good as i'd like it to be. will hafta mess with it some. not that i actually expect anybody much to see it.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

a reinstall

dumped debian. it simply becomes wildly painful to do some simple stuff, like make a printer work. cups is great software, but if the package manager won't resolve the dependencies correctly, it's ... not helpful.

Friday, May 21, 2004

QE7 Shoot Part II

So, I did the 46 minute version of the home walk-through. Blah. Sue watched part of it and decided it was too long and made me reshoot it. So I did. We cut the entire thing down to 27 minutes. The tape goes to FedEx this morning.

I also included a letter with it. I won't reprint the letter because I'm having trouble doing a copy-and-paste in Gnome.

Anyway, it's done, and now we wait. My mom's best friend said that they're apparently doing six episodes in the Dallas area, that each shoot is actually a week long despite it being cut to look like only a single day (-three-days-shopping-!), and that they'll be shooting in Dallas in August and September.

The casting guys called today and asked me to shoot my tape this weekend and get it to them Monday or Tuesday, not knowing that I'd already planned to shoot tonight and get the tape to them Monday A.M.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Katie's Blog

So, Katie's blog is up. She's got a big long post about ... her day. Looks like she'll have fun messing with this thing.

QE6 Shoot Part I

So I spent about 47 minutes wandering through my house with a camera narrating as I go. I talked about what each piece of my house is, blah blah blah. Not a lot of fun but I dug through every piece of it. I still have the personal interview bit to do.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Blog Hits & IVF

So I installed a cool little hit counter (I found it perusing Julie's blog), and now it's telling me not only how many hits there are, but where they're coming from.

Currently they're coming from a couple of messages I posted on Julie's blog. And since my intuition is that it's mostly ladies coming here, a big Texas HOWDEE! to yall.

And just so you're not totally bored out of your gourd, since you're looking for IVF and infertility-related stuff, I'll share the thumbnail sketch of my story. The problem isn't mine, it's my wife's; but I chose her knowing full well, and now it's our story together.

Way back in the distant past she had what I believe now was PID that, for reasons I won't detail here, wasn't really treated right. When she was 18 (and by this time, married and not using birth control but not actively trying to get pregnant either), she developed a tubal cyst on one side. An emergeny procedure later, she emerged minus one cyst but also minus one tube. Six month later, it happened again on the other side. This time they removed the cyst but left the tube; in the process, though, they had to open the tube lengthwise. The scarring and adhesions from the two surgeries left her without hope of having children. At the time (early 1980's), IVF and related procedures weren't even on the horizon.

Life went on. In the mid-1990's, IVF was developed and my wife and her then-husband put together enough money to take a shot at it. But as they were cash pay clients, she a school teacher and he some kind of hourly repair technician, they only had enough money for one shot. I don't know the details of how it went; I only know that it failed.

For reasons not entirely unrelated, their marriage failed. She lived with another boyfriend for a time, and then met, started dating, and started sleeping with, me.

Confident, however foolishly, that we were disease-free, and knowing that she'd been completely infertile for the past 15 years, we skipped the latex and had our fun all-skin, as it were.

A couple of months after we started dating, our infertility journey began with a period that simply wouldn't quit. Four or five days was her max; I finally convinced her to go to the doctor after nine bloody, chunky days. (I still gross out thinking about it.) With no health insurance, we visited a local doc-in-the-box who sent us, do not pass go, spend lots more than $200, to the local emergency room, where she was diagnosed as having a miscarriage. (Incidentally, I met her oldest sister for the very first time sitting in the waiting room; she wasn't yet comfortable with having me in the examining room.)

Talk about a nightmare. The 15-year dream she could never have had been slammed on the ground in tiny little pieces. It took months to put it back together. In the interim, we made the perhaps foolish decision to again forego birth control, primarily because we hated condoms but also because other methods were also beyond our meager budget. And besides, if the best happened, we'd cope. The best did not happen.

The day after our little escapade at the emergency room, we had to spend all day meeting and greeting guests we cared nothing for and that I'd never met before at her parents' house, for an annual party they throw. I was asked not to eat until all the guests had eaten, because they were afraid I'd eat too much corned beef. Wait until after all the guests had eaten? What was I? Chopped liver? As someone once said, "How woooood!"

A while after we'd gotten married, we decided she wasn't getting any younger (at 37), and we also found out that (a miracle had happened!) her employer's health plan covered IVF, if you picked the right plan. At open enrollment, we picked.

We used the same RE (for the uninitiated, reproductive endocrinologist, a branch of medicine dealing with and treatment of disorders of reproduction) she'd used last time. My step-mom's research for a novel also suggested that these guys are the best around. (Our high-risk OB said that these guys could "get a rock pregnant.")

[The rest of this is written to condense over two years of real time into a few paragraphs. In all truth, I suspect that anyone reading this who's ever done an IVF cycle, success or failure, will be able to read the pain and ache and happy and glee between the lines.]

So, there we went. Ready and ... WAIT! HIV and hep screens. Semen screens ($75 please, insurance doesn't cover that!). Challenge-response test. More waiting. Shot-giving class, and don't forget your orange! Period. Birth control pills, ready set ovarian cyst! All stop. Shit, wait another month. Period. Birth control pills. It's a go! Head to the pharmacy.

What do you mean the insurance will only pay for two days' worth at a time? Damn. So, every other day, we make the 45 minute trip to the pharmacy for our little vials of egg powder and distilled water. Stand in line for an hour, kaching 30 bucks. 45 minutes back. Good thing we work nights. Every few days, another E2 and sono. Wow, lots of little follicles. Okay, showtime! (Damn, her butt looks nasty after all those botched progesterone shots. Good thing I kiss it before each one. Kiss, then alcohol swab, you moron.) [Pharmacist reminds us that this shit costs $58 per amp; we're shooting six amps a day; be thankful the insurance covers it at all.]

Shake and shake the ampule bottle. Don't use the 8g needle on her butt, dumbass. Yes, you really should use the 8g when drawing up the progesterone.

Jack went up the hill to catch a sample of semen. Actually, it was into his office, while his step-mom waited on the couch in the living room, because Jack had to work that day and couldn't take Jill to the retrieval. Without a doubt, his most un-romantic orgasm in history (thus far). At least the semen analysis was almost a giggle.

Retrieve 10. Fertilize 7. Wait wait wait wait wait. Only two made it; sit on a couple more to see if they can go on ice.

Implant, wait wait no survivors for the deep freeze. Wait wait wait. "I don't feel pregnant." Ding dong, the rabbit is dead; and the cycle fails.

So we go for the post-failure consult. "Everything looked okay, except that the cycle failed. Your ovaries responded like they were 41 or 42 years old, but you can try again any time you're ready."

So we wait ... period pills run run run. More E2's, more sonos. We become intimately familiar with both sides of unlubricated Trojan condoms (the red ones, if you've never used one). But it's not all bad. Ever had sex in your ER's office? That was fast, but that was fun too. You are there to get pregnant, after all.

This time Jack gets to go to the retrieval, and while the "pump-and-dump" is slightly less disgusting because step-mom isn't waiting in the next room for it to finish, it is hysterically funny to see all the other couples sitting in the waiting room, holding hands, she holding the blanket and pillows, and he holding his little white paper sack (containing, inside, a biohazard bag, which in turn contains a sample cup and, presumably, his "sample").

Two embryos, two to save to see if we can ice them. In they go ... wait wait wait. More progesterone shots and more butt-bruising and butt-kissing. Poor girl couldn't sit down. And AH-HA! She barfed!

The test is positive. Do the sono and ... oh dear ... twins. But one seems to be smaller than the other. So, back in a week for a repeat sono. This time they're the same size, but one has a heart beat ... and the other does not. Doc says we're free to go to the regular OB, and off we go, and we learn something we did not know about obstetricians offices: A 10:00 A.M. appointment really means any time between 11:30 and about 2. It just depends on how many women he's got in labor at once.

Sleep sleep sleep barf barf barf. Go to a restaurant. First thing he does is check out where the bathroom is in case she has to make an emergency run for it. This tactic pays off more than once. A month to go, name is selected, known to be a boy. Amnio is a wonderful thing. But suddenly, a problem: PIR. Pregnancy-induced retardation. The hormones have made her unbearably stupid and forgetful. But, alas, we love her for what she's been through, what she is, and what she means to us. So we overlook her stupidity, hope it goes away when the pregnancy ends, and hope for the best. But another serious problem crops up at 8 months gestation: Pregnancy-induced hypertension.

[For those who don't know, PIH is a potentially life-threatening problem. Untreated it can lead to organ failure, heart attacks, and strokes. While it can be managed to a certain extent, the only effective treatment is to end the pregnancy. Given its devastating consequences if left unchecked, doctors jump all over this at the first sign of it. At 36 weeks, we were well within the "red zone" of end-of-pregnancy, so our doctors elected to go with an induction. However, a word of caution goes along with this: When you reach the see-you-every-week point in your pregnancy, take your packed hospital bag -every-single-time-. We had no warning she'd be admitted to the hospital during the visit, or that the baby would be born the next day. As a second side-note, he was born on his great-grandfather's birthday; his great grandad is still alive and smiled for the first time in years.]

Baby comes no sleep no sleep no sleep. Life calms down, return to normal.

We want more kids. So we do it again. This time we are amused to learn that they've taken our baby announcement and photograph and put it in our file. They love to receive them, and they ask for them when they do the post-pregnancy follow-up, but they are never placed where patients can see them, only in the break room for the employees to see. A kindness to those who try and try and try and fail.

Period. Pills, E2 sono shots run run run. Don't forget to swing by the pharmacy. But this time we hafta juggle child care too! And wait, they changed the drug protocol! Micro-dose Ovidril. That's new. So instead of a single trigger shot, now there are three, and it's not intra-muscular, it's subcutaneous, so she can do it at work and he doesn't have to drag the kid to work to stick her in the ass in the dark parking lot.

Wait wait wait ... it's time to retrieve.

This time he makes another discovery, which he passes on to those using the same ERs. They have a tiny room with the innocuous sign, "Endocrynology Library." And it includes a hard bench about two feet long, and a sink. And a little nightstand-like thing.

This is the whack-off room, where men go to "produce a sample." Inside the nightstand is an appallingly paltry selection (three individual issues, if I recall correctly) of porn mags. You'd think doctors understand that some (many?) men need some kind of stimulation in the sterile environment of a doctor's office, and this particular situation, the wife's help is unwelcome (must be a "clean catch"). So my suggestion to all you guys out there who are in this situation: If you need to "produce" at the office, and have any hesitation whatsoever that you might not be able to make it happen on cue, and you find pornography helpful ... take your own.

This time, two embryos and one on ice. Sleep sleep sleep barf barf barf. No sign of PIH, but the PIR is back with a vengence. God this lady gets dumb when she's knocked up. And this time, we get invited in to test for PIH at 33 weeks ... so we go to OB triage at the hospital, they hook her up to the monitor, and say, "Did you know you're in labor?"

This hospital doesn't do high-risk (meaning before-34-weeks) deliveries. Ever. Those are sent downtown to the high-risk specialists. In meat wagons. This time, thankfully, with the lights off.

And it's twins: A girl and a boy, in that order. And we're finally done with the story.

Anybody who's ever done any of this knows how hard it is for everybody involved. That, then, is my bit of our collective tale, for all to read. I have nothing but respect for all the people out there still trying ... still trying ... still trying ... despite all their mis-steps and failures. Both the girls and the guys deserve something special for all their effort, win or lose in the infertility lottery. Gotta love 'em all.

Linux Install

So ... I did a Linux install on the SCSI hard drive. And it worked. But the guy who sold me the drive asked me to try some stuff to get it working properly, and those things didn't work.

So I pulled the drive.

Which is okay except that left me with no working operating system on Dualie. So I did another Linux install.

And it seems to work. I'm running under Gnome built on a Debian foundation. My Matrox G450 is operating sorta correctly. The two monitors are both working okay, but they're not running dual-headed. They're working in clone mode instead. So I continue to search for the solution.

I hate the beast that's done this to me.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

QE5

Camera acquired.

A friend of Sue's is letting us borrow a video camera for a couple days and we'll be spending some time figuring out what to shoot and how to do it as soon as she gets it here. Yippee.

Katie's Blog

So Katie is asking me how to set up WP, the blogging engine used here. The five minute install really works, and as long as you're allowed to create a MySQL db instance. I set it up for her and it's hosting here at lilly. Fun fun.

Childcare

I really wish I had some.

Sleep ...

... is a wonderful thing. It's so nice, in fact, that I seem to do it at all the wrong moments. Like during the daytime.

I've been a night owl for as long as I can remember, as evidenced by last night's entries. Still, getting up at 3pm has its drawbacks.

I'm considering completely dumping WXP again for either 2K or moving back to Linux. I don't really mess with any Windows-specific apps anymore, and I'm getting really tired of the blue screens as soon as I stand up. The drawback is that some downloads that I have queued will get lost, which is recoverable if I want to spend the time finding them again and stuff.

I really really dislike XP. It continues to have the same old security issues that MS products have always had, and it's unstable to boot. Blah.

A Slight Redesign

So I've spent the morning adding cookies, playing around with the header on the front page, and changing the color. That green was ... okay ... but I'm not a green person. I'm much more of a blue or purple person.

Having learned how to do randomness in CSS, my next not-so-serious ambition is to do a randomized color scheme. We'll see how it works out.

Cookies

Back in FidoNet we called 'em cookies, and I learned later that they're called fortunes (after the BSD fortune program. Got a set working on the right side over there. Yippee. Now maybe I can do something interesting with them. In time, once my blogroll gets large enough to make it worth the effort, I might introduce randomization into this.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Work work work

I really love my job. I really do. I think I'm having to cut back, some, though, because it's costing too much time and energy and I'm not getting to do some things I want like this spot here. So I think I'll be hanging back a little bit, and keeping my service committments until they expire, and go from there. Thankfully, we've gotten past a log of the "must do now" stuff and moved into the "it would be nice someday" stuff, like scanning old meeting minutes and putting up a web-based ordering system.

I'm glad I have an understanding boss who only expects me to do what I'm paid to do.

The Church

I'm not Catholic. Never have been. But it remains a fact that Christianity and its teachings impact my life today, if only because I live in a country seemingly driven by Christian idealogues.

The note on The Rabbit Lived, which is good reading, reminds me again why I'm sort of a mix between pro-life and pro-choice.

I find myself personally pro-life. That is, I counsel those I come in contact with away from abortion, if they trust me enough to seek my counsel.

But I am politically pro-choice. That is, I want the legal option there for people who, for whatever reason, want to have an abortion. I shy away from laws that make moral judgements, and that's what abortion laws are all about. Moral judgements, in my opinion, are best left to the individuals living the lives being judged.

Political statements by churches really, really aggrivate me. Especially on such personal points as these.

A Little Pregnant

I added A Little Pregnant to my links today. I spent a good two hours going over her blog, and it reminded me a great deal (of course) about my adventures in infertility. But this lady has a better wit than I, and she went through a lot more hell than Sue and I did trying to get where we are now. Reading through all the crap she's been through makes me grateful. I noted she's in her fourth IVF cycle, after whole lot of mayhem and heartbreak. I hope this one turns out better, for a change.

By the way ... for those of you coming here from Julie's place, our IVF days are over but you're welcome to stay. Before we married, my wife had a failure with her previous husband; a failure with me; a semi-success with me (one live birth, and one embryo miscarried early); and a pair of IVF twins (anybody want one?). I know the heartbreak. It's a bitch, and I have nothing but respect for anybody tough enough to gut it out even the first time, let alone trying it over and over and over.

Comments Fixed

So they're fixed. Some mucking about in .htaccess with the mod_rewrite rules were gorked. Fun fun. Still no video camera tho.

Comments Broken

I know comments are br0ked. I'm trying to fix it. I'm new at WordPress, so we'll see how it goes. WP is GPL, so support isn't fantastic, but it's better than nothing.

QE4

Finding a cam. Impossible. Nobody I know seems to have one and that strikes me as strange. I suppose I can go buy one and return it, or something. I'll brainstorm through the night. (Like anybody is reading anyway.)

Texas Ring

So I added myself to the Texas blog ring. I like where the ring stuff landed at the bottom of the main site. A couple more and it might actually look cool down there. Anyway, here it is. And I'm at the south end of Fort Worth.

QE3

So Sue and I talked a little bit about all this. She's game. Who knows where it'll go. We think my suit on the floor of our closet, covered in cat fur, will be a big selling point. (Send it to Tragicistan.)

I'm sort of ambivolent about my answers to some of their questions, and I'm not real certain how I'd want to handle "the big reveal." Something nice and romantic with Sue. A weekend away from the rugrats would be fun, because we don't get many of those.

I'm guessing I'll want to shoot some of the video away from Sue, who's agreed to "hold the camera." I may want to include some written material, or some stuff about myself on the tape after Sue isn't around. I dunno.

I talked to Her Dogliness about all this too and I got a 20 minute lecture about how I need to seriously want to improve my life to make any of this work. Her typical spiel.

QE2

So I got the email. Here are the relevant portions:

1. A short interview telling us basic facts about you. Have a friend or
relative hold the camera, and let?s hear you answer the following questions:
Give as much detail as possible, and try to have fun. Don't be too stiff!

* What is your name?
* How old are you?
* What do you do for work? What does that entail? Tell me a little more about a typical day there for you. Do you enjoy your work?
* Are you married? (If so, what does your wife do? How long have you been together? Do you have children? How old?)
* Who sent us your application? How do you feel about a (or why do you want to) change? Why do need a makeover?
* What would your reveal event be like?

* With spouse /significant other (if applicable) (approx. 2 minutes)
* What is your name?
* How do you feel about a change for your husband/boyfriend?

Of the 5 aspects of Queer Eye, (grooming, culture, fashion, food and wine, and interior design) which do you think your husband/boyfriend could use the most help with? Why?

1. Take an on-camera tour of your living space and narrate as you go.
Walk through the house/apartment briefly introducing each room and what objects or pieces of furniture are important to you and why.

What would you like to see changed and what does you want to remain the same? Show us your bathroom, your grooming products, your clothes in your closet, whats in your fridge and cabinets, etc. We want to see how you really live.

Show us the single material object you own that is most important to you and tell you a little bit about it.

2. Finally, go the the five areas of improvement: FASHION,GROOMING, INTERIOR DESIGN, CULTURE, AND FOOD AND WINE, and tell us how you feel in each area, and what you feel you need most from the FAB FIVE.

QE

So I stupidly filed an application to be on QE and oddly enough they called me back. They seem to want a video tape. Must call them now to find out what they want on it. Oh well.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Katie

My good friend Katie is back home where she lives after a while away. I missed talking to her. So we're on IRC talking about her new rack. Fun. :)

That Video

So I did some Googling and found that video of Nick Berg being beheaded a couple of weeks ago. The version I found is five and a half minutes long, and most of it is devoted to the hooded thugs reading some statement in Arabic.

As I watched it, it occured to me to wonder why these idiots persist with this kidnapping and maiming nonsense. The world-view these wackjobs have is so completely alien to me that it's totally incomprehensible.

There's a part of me that serious wouldn't mind us pulling out of the country and letting them live in the stone age some more. Apparently it's absolutely impossible for these people to do anything other than shout and shoot and torture and murder.

Normal people do not strap dyanamite to themselves and go shopping.

What the fuck?

So.

Here we are. A place for me to air my thoughts. One wonders if there's any point to the exercise, because I doubt anybody will actually bother reading this. Still ... here we go.