It doesn't seem like it ever ends.

It's been nearly a month since I've last had time to post anything here. Earlier I'd expressed hope that things would slow down and I'd have some compute cycles free to get my breath back, maybe go for a walk and do something fun. Unfortunately, as so often happens these days, that was wishful thinking. I wish that I had a lot of good news to write about, but unfortunately I don't. Just a little. If this post is going to be too much for you in your personal situation, close the tab. Seriously. If you've got your own ten …

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Chemotherapy begins.

Mom had her first round of chemotherapy last Tuesday.  Early that morning I drove her to the Hillman Cancer Center at UPMC, got her checked in, and had to leave as they took her back because, due to the pandemic and generally immunosuppressed state of the other patients in the office I posed a contamination risk.  I spent most of the day puttering around the house, fixing stuff up, cleaning, and getting a bit of dayjob work done after dropping her off.  Mom spent most of the day hooked up to one IV line or another.  Unsurprisingly, it took some …

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Another eventful couple of weeks.

CW: Stuff about medicine, post-surgical care, and cancer.  Feel free to close the tab if you need to.

It's been a couple of weeks since my last update.  I was working on a different post in my spare time but I'm not entirely pleased with how it's turning out, plus I think it needs a lot more work, so I thought it'd be easier to write about the last week and change.  By "easier," I mean "easier to write," not "easier to handle."

A little over a week ago, on the 21st of August, I was killing time with mom …

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Update from the homestead.

CW: Stuff about medicine, post-surgical care, and wounds.  Feel free to close the tab if you need to.

This won't be easy for me to write, mostly because I'm tired, scatterbrained, and trying to put everything in some kind of order.  I'm pretty stressed out and my allergies aren't helping, either.  It's also been difficult to find ideas to put together right now.

Cancer is a nasty adversary.  It runs you down, robs you of your strength, and tries to steal away your dignity.  The overall supply of dignity in the world right now is starting to run low and …

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I dropped out of sight for a couple of days.

Observant readers may have been wondering why I seemed to drop off the grid for a couple of days.  Timed posts kept going up as expected, and undoubtedly other socnets seemed like they were being operated by my exocortex (which they were, for the most part).  You've probably been wondering what happened.

You know what?  Fuck it.  I don't have the compute cycles right now to do a proper intro.  I count it as fortune that I have the compute cycles just to type this right now.  There's no easy or polite way to talk about it.  My concentration is …

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Advances in transplantable organ preservation, grinders get night vision, and using genehacking to treat lymphoma.

Organ transplants are a fairly hairy aspect of the medical practice and are a crapshoot even with the best medical care money can buy. Tissue matching viable organs seems about as difficult as brute-forcing RSA keys due to the fact that, at the proteomic level even the slightest mismatch between donor and recipient (and there will always be some degree of mismatch unless they are identical twins) will provoke an immune response that will eventually destroy the transplanted organ unless it's not kept under control. Additionally, unless the organ is perfectly cared for prior to installation the tissues will begin …

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Sweeping advances in precision technologies.

When we think of 3D printing, we usually think of stuff on the macroscale, like automobile engines or replacement parts of some kind. Unless it's in another context, however, we rarely stop to consider the applications of this technology on a finer scale. A couple of weeks back a research team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany announced a breakthrough: The Nanoscribe, a 3D printer which uses laser light to selectively harden liquid plastic in a successive deposition process. The Nanoscribe can fabricate objects the width of a human hair with amazing precision and a fair amount of …

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Practical matter compilation one step closer: Custom pharmaceuticals.

For many years, the development of pharmaceutical drugs has been kind of hit or miss. New and interesting bioactive compounds are discovered and tested in different laboratory animals until someone figures out what a particular compound might be good for. It isn't terribly common that a pharmaceutical company comes up with an idea for an effect and then works backward until they find a compound that will do what they hope to accomplish.

That shows signs of changing.

A company called Parabon Nanolabs in Reston, Virginia has announced the development of a new drug which is effective in treating one …

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Genetic origins of skin and lung cancer pinpointed.

It is common knowledge that many forms of cancer have environmental as well as genetic components: for skin cancer, overexposure to sunlight can trigger its development. Lung cancer, of course, is blamed on smoking for lengthy periods of time. However, sometimes the genetic component can express itself without external assistance. Thus, it is worth noting that the genetic mutations which cause these two afflictions have been pinpointed by geneticists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute of the United Kingdom. The errors are very specific and should be readily detectable with a genetic workup. Something which I find surprising is the …

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A brother of the Bene Capsaicin lends his skills to the field of medical pain management.

Pain specialist Dr. Eske Aasvang of Denmark is trying a new compound in clinical pain relief trials: Capsaicin. Yes, the very same compound that makes hot peppers hot, and unwary college students who've never heard of chicken vindaloo before want to shoot themselves. Capsaicin, as it turns out, bonds tightly to the receptors of C-type nerve fibres, which trainsmit status messages to the brain that are interpreted as pain. Those receptors will fire briefly (as anyone who's ever eaten chili can attest to) but then go silent because the nerves will have exhausted their supplies of neurotransmitters. It is expected …

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