Archive for September, 2009

Orange, Lemon, and Lime – Oh my!

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I’m really not sure what the big thing is about reds, purples and blues, but when you are preparing for a colonoscopy – they are completely forbidden.  I can eat/drink a number of CLEAR liquids (in other words, if I can see through it, I can drink it….), including Gatorade, Chicken broth, Jell-O, water, tea, coffee, soft drinks.  But, none can be of the forbidden colors. 

My question then, is why can’t I have a green cherry Gatorade, or a orange colored raspberry Jell-O?  Oddly, these aren’t hard questions – I’m sure that it’s the dye that is used causes some coloration of the colon and bowel – which certainly isn’t good when you’re looking for things by color, shape, etc.

So, today I pretty much drank my weight in coffee (black – no cream or milk!) and Gatorade, with a few glasses of water and some yummy Lime Jell-O…..  What I found the other day is fun, to say the least: Margarita flavored Jell-O – and it’s GREEN!  W00t!

Well, maybe more later on.  I have to go start round two of the ‘colon blow’ (a massive infusion of purging medicines to clean out the bowel….  Right.  Fun – NOT!), and the next round (and hopefully final for a while…) begins tonight at 12:30 AM.

I did get the lawn mowed – that was good to get outside and sweat a bit.  It’s going to be winter soon, and… well – not quite as nice outside as it is today.


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A lot of techno-jargon…..

Posted on September 28, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

and none of it coming from my mouth.  I got a call from the Dr.  I now at least know what I have, but don’t have a full diagnosis yet.  The pathologists that reviewed the biopsy from the tumor described it as:

“High grade of dysplasia with features suspicious of carcinoma”

So, what does that REALLY mean?  It really means that I have a cancerous tumor.  How bad?  Don’t know yet. I still have the second colonoscopy on Wednesday and Endoscopic Ultrasound to determine the size and spread of the tumor.  With luck, it hasn’t gone through the membrane wall (meaning hasn’t spread any further than the mass itself).  That’s best case.  The next cases are less wonderful, but it obviously starts becoming really bad if the tumor is into the lymph nodes or other organs.  All very possible, I suppose. For each type and stage, there is a treatment, with levels of success.

But, I guess that’s why the Drs. get the big bucks.  I also have an appointment with an Oncologist on October 8th. I’m fairly sure he’s well-paid, too.

One step at a time….  It’s the best any of us can do.


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Halo 3:ODST Wow….

Posted on September 28, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Halo 3:ODST takes place shortly before the events of Halo 3, and shortly after the events of Halo 2.  That might seem obvious and trivial, but for people that really follow the story and the mythology of Halo, that’s pretty important.

Without giving up much detail or secrets, our protagonist, “The Rookie”, is an Orbital Drop Shock Trooper (ODST, for short).  The ODST drop in pods that are released from space and all but crash into the ground and can then be opened to let the trooper out.

Key thing – these guys and gals have minimal armor – nothing like a Spartan.  What this means is that your tactics change completely.  There is no dashing into a firefight and simply ‘blasting it out’ with the Convenant soldiers.  If you’ve played Gears of War – your strategy has to be much more like that of Marcus, Dom, or any other gear.  You have no regenerating shields, only medi-kits that you find in New Mombasa, where the story takes place.  And, there is a big story here, with lots of mystery.  You dropped with the rest of your team, but because the Convenant battlecruiser went into slip-space (think warp drive in Star Trek) as you were dropping towards it, everyone is scattered – and possibly killed during earth entry.

You start out on your own with a silenced pistol and a silenced machine gun – and your wits. And, a bunch of Covenant that don’t know you’re there yet…..

This is one awesome game – find me on Xbox Live it you want to play co-op, or the new Firefight mode, which seems to be a heck of a lot like Gears of War 2’s Horde mode.

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Monday…. And, for Rick –it’s not a bad day!

Posted on September 28, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

I’m truly blessed to work for who I work for.  Microsoft cares for their employees more than any company I have encountered.  Last year, when I transitioned from being a Consultant with Microsoft Consulting Services (MCS) to working as a Technical Writer I never knew how much of a profound impact this would have on my professional and personal life. One, who thought I would *LIKE* writing?  I hated documentation so much in my earlier career, that I would do nearly anything to avoid it. However, when I did finally buckle down and do it – I think I did pretty well.  So, instead of advising customers on how to implement our solutions, my audience is much bigger – Microsoft Field people, Microsoft Partners, and our entire customer base.  It’s fun – but editors can be a pain.  But, in the end, editors are my best friend.  I get to write things the way that I want to – and they make sure that it’s presentable to an international audience.

Let’s make no mistake – the past months have been somewhat rocky.  Sue has been used to me being gone 80-100% of the time.  Now, I’m here 100% of the time.  Often, I’m not sure me being here all of the time is such a good thing.  And, I’m pretty certain she has no idea what to do with me on some days. I work from home in my office in the basement.  The only company I have during the day is the two cats that Sue gave me for Christmas in 2008.  Milo and Abby are truly the best daytime friends I could have here.  They sleep most of the time, crab to go outside, and poop.  Well, and now and then Milo decides he has to crawl up on my shoulders to see what I’m doing.  He just lays there and watches me work.  The only problem – he’s about as subtle as a bulldozer.  I have the scars on my arm, neck, head and shoulders to prove that he jumps up with all claws ready to grab whatever is there.  But, he’s such a sweet meatloaf of a cat.  Picture Garfield.  Milo *IS* Garfield, in every sense.

Back to Microsoft.  Think for a moment.  If I had been diagnosed while still working for MCS, I really don’t know what the net of that would be.  Working from home, writing documentation on our Office Communications Server(OCS) product, as well as articles for an online presence and continuing my work with the OCS Resource Kit (we’ve produced two editions – and I’ve submitted two and six chapters, respectively) – I can still be productive except for the really bad days.  And, anyone that knows me – you know that a weekend is just another day for me to do what I love.  As I mentioned in another post, it stuns me to no end that Microsoft actually PAYS me to do what I do!  It’s not often that you get to do your HOBBY as a JOB.  And, this is so very passionate for me.  Could I think of a better therapy?  Not bloody likely.

This weekend, I decided to research my current motherboard and other parts in one of my computers, because one of my short-term goals has been to have a Macintosh (Apple) OS X (the operating system – like Windows for PC’s, but for Macintosh hardware) running for test and educational purposes.  Well, last week I found the information I needed.  Armed with a fully licensed copy of the Leopard version of OS X and the help of the really smart folks at I know have a fully functional ‘Hackintosh’.  So, why is this important?  One – if you’re a true geek, you know already.  Two, we (the OCS Product Group) are putting out products to allow Macs to participate in OCS as a client OS.  It means that I can test things against the OS that I would not have been able to before.

So, that was my weekend – doing research on OCS and defining new articles to write, while setting up and testing my very own little pet Macintosh… Err, Hackintosh.

Sometimes life just gives you lemons.  You deal with it and you move on.


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And, sometimes life just gives you lemons….

Posted on September 27, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

You all know the old saying….  “If life deals you lemons, then just make lemonade”.  Sometimes, the potential to come out with lemonade just isn’t possible.  And, that being the case – you take the lemons and you enjoy them.  You’re still alive, surrounded by family and friends, and it just can’t be that bad.

I still don’t think it’s all that bad.  However, my close family is feeling quite a bit more of a sting than I am.

Last Wednesday, September 23rd, a routine colonoscopy (I’m 49 for God’s sake…. they start wanting to do those things anyway!) uncovered a mass.  It’s not pretty – regardless of where it is.  It’s about 5 cm in size. The Dr. took a biopsy and as of today – we don’t have results back yet.  But, the reality is – given the type and location of the tumor – it’s malignant. Probability – for those that are interested in such things – 90%.

However, that’s not the end of the story.  Because of a poor cleaning of the colon, they were only able to get through about 1/3 of it.  So, I’m set for another colonoscopy on this Wednesday at 11:30 AM.  They also plan to do an ultrasound to look at the current tumor and get a better understanding of what we are really looking at (insert your own joke here…. Yes, I have a ton of them at the moment… 🙂 )

The current belief is that there will be surgery.  There will be radiation. There will be chemotherapy. All of this is just fine…. I can get through this and I plan to live a long life yet.  I have a number of things that I want to do, family that I owe time, and a wife that needs much more care right now than I do (I’m going to have Dr’s and nurses…  she’s going to need all of you!)

But, I plan to take control of this and my care.  My hair is going to grow until it starts to fall out.  Then, I’m cutting it off myself (with the help of my hair stylist, of course). If you are familiar with Gears of War, I’ll be in the “Marcus Fenix” skull cap.

Future Postings

The future postings to my blog – this blog – might start looking a lot more like “Twitter” tweets.  If I post something that says “I’m on the patio”, that’s likely exactly what I’m doing that day. Most of you that know me know that the hardest thing to get me to do is to stop working.  Well, that’s not going to change.  This is therapy for me. This is a passion – and Microsoft has provided me with an outlet for my abundance of passion.  The weird thing – they PAY me for the privilege of having THIS MUCH FUN!

My colleagues at Microsoft are some of the smartest people on the planet. We may miss on products, but we always seem to come back with a killer product. There is so much fun, so much potential, so many challenges – I am truly blessed to be able to work here.

So, the intent for this blog from here on out is to collect my thoughts.  There will likely be rants (many of you that know me wouldn’t know me if I didn’t get on the soapbox now and again…), there will be updates on my journey through cancer treatment.  And, there will be gaps.  Not every day is going to be as good as this one.  Some days, I’ll likely not even be able to get out of bed – due to the effects of the chemo, the radiation, or surgery. But, I will be sitting (though where the tumor is, that might not be pleasant either…) in front of the computer.  And, when I’m here, I’ll take a few minutes now and again to post what’s going on with my treatment.

That’s it for now.  Tiger Woods has just won the FedEx cup for 2009, with Phil Mickelson winning the Tour Championship.  It’s a good day today.


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