Bashed a Bug

Only 31 hours for a single bug.

Bug fixing on any project can be a very welcome experience, or on a project that generally isn’t going well it can be really rough. Unfortunately I’m on one of those spinning out of control projects with a failed history going back more than 2 years, so it’s not unusual to get a rough bug that takes hours just to research and replicate in a test. Anyway last Friday I started on a what looked to be a pretty easy bug and I finished it today after putting in 31 hours on it. I ended up writing about 150 lines of new code, but the bulk of the time was researching a host of problems with each attempted fix. Anyway I guess this isn’t really the point of this conversation.

The point is that when you can’t finish a bug at the end of the day and I spent Monday and Tuesday night this week in the office until 9:00pm it can be immensely frustrating, especially when your brain is constantly wandering back to the topic of whether the rather large growth on the right side of your neck is a cancer tumor or merely another branchial cleft cyst. Anyway it felt really good to lick this bug at 4pm today. Of course for the project we’re still falling a bit behind with all the new bugs, and I really need to spend a ton more time mentoring staff to really multiply the effort, but that’s a story for another day.

One tense moment today at 4:00 right after fixing the bug I called into my doctor’s office to see about the results of my PET scan. The nurse yesterday claimed they would send over the preliminary results, but they said they didn’t have them yet. So I’ll wait it out til Wednesday. Of course it’s not the sort of news you generally give out over the phone, but I was really hoping to get some clue about exactly what I’m facing.

Went to the movies with my parents, Sky Captain and the World of Tommorow. Quite good, not great but at least interesting and entertaining. It’s still really nice to escape once in a while.

PET Scan

Well, I went through a PET scan today. It’s apparently a little more advanced version of a Galium scan I got 4 years ago. Basically you get injected with some radioactive material and then sit in a scanner for quite a few minutes.

It really wasn’t too bad as these things go. After fasting all morning and drinking 32 ounces of water they set me up with an IV. As it turned out for some strange reason they wanted to inject on my left arm because my swollen node is on my right side, so they switched arms from right to left at the last second. The nurse remarked that my veins looked really good. They’ve come in handy as you get a lot of blood draws/injections with cancer and hunting for veins isn’t much fun. Apparently sometimes the chemo gives you weak veins, but I’m guessing that’s because a lot of people with cancer are older and didn’t have that great of viens to start with.

So they brought the radioactive sucrose and injected me. Then you have to wait for it to spread around the blood system, so you sit in the room in the dark. I brought a book, Enterprise Service Bus, with me, but apparently you just have to lay in the dark and do nothing, so no reading. After about 45 minutes they came in and led me into the machine room.

The PET scan machine includes a CAT scan with it as an all in one. I had to remove my wedding ring due to the metal in it which may interfere with the scan. They put you on the machine with an annoying neck brace and you can’t move for 45 minutes while they very slowly run you through the machines. Another exciting 45 minutes, but I bet you didn’t know that there are 142 holes in the speaker screen for the Philips PET scan machine.

Tommorow afternoon they can give me the feedback on the preliminary scan analysis. If it doesn’t light up, it’s probably just a branchial cleft cyst. If it’s not I’m about ready for another fight because the plan is still to make it to 101 and enjoy my great grandchildren. And I’ve got a great support network from Micki, Kassie, Molly, Kiwi, and Sophie to my Mom and Dad and all my brothers, Gibbscrew to Joan and Gary and a host of friends.

Cancer and the Blahs

Nothing a little escapism can’t cure.

My wife questioned me a few times today about how I was feeling. I answered, “I’m fine.” Truth is as she recognizes well I had the blahs. Waiting for a diagnosis is in some ways harder than having it. I’m ready to fight, itching to organize and strategize the road to a recovery, but I still don’t know what I have. The growth on my neck might just be a branchial cleft cyst left over from the womb. The problem is it’s probably not and I really want to know so I can prepare. I’m ready to fight off the lymphoma again.

In some ways it will be easier this time and I’m trying to stay focused on those. I know to stay away from compazine like the plague. I know how to chop up prednisone and fit it into organic health food capsules so I can get it down without tons of sweets and the occasional vomiting episode. I know that the chemo doesn’t totally floor me and that just focusing on the normal things and work isn’t going to be impossible. Still it’s the new hard things that worry me like if I can handle sucking on the ice for the shots where you keep your mouth cool. For some reason I just can’t stand this, I get really naseuous. I haven’t had a popsicle in 4 years. I think the most worrisome thing is explaining things to Kassie. She escaped the whole espisode in the womb last time. At 4 I don’t think she’s really ready to understand cancer and mortality. I just want to grow old and watch her and Molly grow up and take trips to the beach and Disneyland with my grandkids. There’s always challenges.

Anyway Micki finally got me out of the house to see Spiderman II in IMAX. It helped pretty much cured the blahs. Movies can really do that for me. Now I just have to stay concentrated at work tomorrow.


Just a little swelling

It’s been a long few days. While on a trip to my friend Joe and Ghen’s wedding in Toronto I realized I had a lump on the right side of my throat. The last time I found a lump on the other side was in March of 2000 while working all night to redo the corporate website for At first we thought it was just a branchial cleft cyst. My mom has a lot of cysts, all of them benign so far so it seemed reasonable. Only after the surgery to remove it did I learn it contained cancer, more specifically Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

I remember the experience pretty vividly, as I was scared to death yet strangely confident that I could beat it along with the stats that 80%+ in my stage were treatable with no relapse. The oncologist confirmed it was likely cancer again. I have a PET scan to confirm that suspicion. I’m still scared and worried about my girls. I really love watching them grow up and I don’t want to miss anything. It’s the waiting not knowing what the ensuing battle will be which sucks at this point.

I can’t even share the experience with anyone but Micki at this point, so this blog will remain hidden until I know more. I’m worried a lot more than I’m willing to admit to anyone at this point.

Converting to J2EE

From web development scripting languages to the current leading object oriented language

I’m embarking down the road of a challenge I’ve been seeking for some time. I get to move a large web development team with a background in client server, mainframe, and coldfusion into the java world. To add to the migration I get to teach them, iterative agile methodology, test driven development, and a host of open source tools from ant to cruise control. Despite the challenges I think I can actually pull it off. Now I just have to start to develop course materials and mentoring. Six of them underwent Intro to Java just last week. Look for more entries related to simple initial projects here.