Friday, June 27, 2008

it is done. kinda.

soooooo. chemo's over. hip hip. seem to be on the upward swing healthwise too. that's nice. so i guess now we just move on as if nothing ever happened. yes. quite. current plans are to have new pet scans in late september, so essentially there's not a lot of factors actively keeping me in this city. i'm thinking the very end of july for my departure. there's a room and a job still waiting for me in melbourne, so you know, maybe we can forget the last 7 months actually happened? that would be nice. probably tough though.

there's a lot of uncertainty still hanging in the air with regards to future treatment (if necessary), future surgery (if necessary) and future maintenance regimes (if necessary. probably necessary. also experimental). keeping a reasonably large, and fairly aggressive tumour inside your body is a fairly sub-optimal outcome, irrespective of its apparently comprehensive response to treatment. which obviously helps, but it's hard to know exactly how the next five years are going to play out. from all reports a relocation to melbourne is a handy move, because it harbours the peter maccallum institute - reputedly australia's premier cancer research facility. and the peter mac institute has on staff a man named david thomas, who is apparently australia's premier sarcoma specialist. and that means potential clinical trials. and clinical trials could mean better non-surgical options. which would be nice. then again, wilhelm could simply remain forever dormant and i could emerge from this entire episode with little more to show for it then some light nerve damage, a bit of radiotherapy related muscle scarring, and a rather irritating inability to lie on my right side without putting my arm to sleep. actually, that last one is a little frustrating. but you know what? if that's it, i think i can deal.

so, anyway. next friday i've booked myself in to have the (now relabeled) cyst on my vocal cords removed. as my first surgical procedure in 8 odd years, i'm rather excited. the procedure itself takes around twenty minutes, so i still don't need to spend a night in hospital, but the operation will leave me unable to speak for five days. well, not unable to speak so much as not allowed to speak. how very zen. zen by force. as all zen should be.


1. napping: as a self-proclaimed 'nap ninja', this handy guide filled me with sweet, slothful vindication. when i am king we shall all take siestas.

2. the edward gorey alphabet: a rather grim take on the children's alphabet, courtesy of the ever-macabre, now dead (and therefore more macabre?) edward gorey. so cool.

3. bubble wrap: this should ease the anger

4. cuteness OVERLOAD: two videos that verge on the sickening, but still remain absolutely, incontestably adorable. sooooooo lovely. these will make your day appreciably better.

sesame street abcs

boy chased by horde of puppies

5. j.k. rowling on failure and imagination: harvard got j.k. rowling to deliver their commencement address this year. the result is a beautiful set of musings on the necessity of failure, as lensed through her own personal catastrophes.

I am not dull enough to suppose that because you are young, gifted and well-educated, you have never known hardship or heartbreak. Talent and intelligence never yet inoculated anyone against the caprice of the Fates, and I do not for a moment suppose that everyone here has enjoyed an existence of unruffled privilege and contentment.

However, the fact that you are graduating from Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure. You might be driven by a fear of failure quite as much as a desire for success. Indeed, your conception of failure might not be too far from the average person’s idea of success, so high have you already flown academically.

this idea of a beneficial failure is one that i hadn't necessarily canvassed all that closely until recently, but as with so many points of interest it now seems to be cropping up everywhere. also worth checking out is this transcript of a recent episode of radio national's 'ockham's razor', featuring mark dodgson of the centre for technology and innovation in queensland talking about the links between failure and discovery.

Successful individuals and firms fail all the time. As Humphry Davy, the famous 18th century chemist, inventor and President of the Royal Society said, 'The most important of my discoveries has been suggested to me by my failures'. And as Henry Ford put it, 'Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently'.

I want to argue that failure doesn't get the credit it deserves. If you want to understand success, you must appreciate the ubiquity of failure, and if you're not regularly failing, you're not trying hard enough.

and now to summarise in audience friendly format via a slightly pat 1 minute video on famous american failures:


6. requiem for a day off: this is quite close to the coolest thing i have ever seen. and i know i say that pretty much every blog post, but this time i mean it. if someone can dazzle me with a better movie mash-up, i'll be impressed.

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