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Will Know In February 2020 How Well My Cancer Treatment Is Working

December 27, 2019 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Will Know In February 2020 How Well My Cancer Treatment Is Working
My favorite color is orange so I’m pleased with the ribbon.

This year, like most, has had ups & downs. The big downer this year was when I was told I have Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma, aka Stage 4 Kidney Cancer.

My two prior posts:

Today I want to talk about kidney cancer and treatments. When a person has a small tumor in a kidney (stage 1) the solution is usually to surgically remove the tumor. Unfortunately, kidney cancer is often hard to detect — so it spreads — metastatic or stage 4.

One of my kidneys is now completely tumor. We can live with one kidney but surgery would’ve delayed treatment. My tumors have been growing and spreading since my initial CT scans so further delay wasn’t an option.

I’ve had two treatments so far — the 2nd was on Monday. Side effects have been minor, mostly greater fatigue. My 3rd treatment is next month.

Chemotherapy, right? No. Radiation? Nope. Immunotherapy!

Wait, what?

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation use medications or high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Immunotherapy is different because it uses your own immune system to fight off the cancer.

Some immunotherapy treatments help your immune system find the cancer or work harder to attack it. Others give you man-made versions of proteins or other substances to help your body fight the disease. Immunotherapy is a type of biologic therapy.

Immunotherapy is approved to treat certain kinds of cancer, including melanoma, lymphoma, and lung cancer. Immune-based treatments for many other types are being tested in clinical trials. (WebMD)

As chemotherapy has been ineffective with kidney cancer, I’m fortunate to be getting the latest in immunotherapy treatment. My treatment is two different drugs administered intravenously every few weeks. I’m also in a clinical trial testing a third drug taken orally every day. It’s a double blind study — neither I nor my doctor know if I’m getting the third drug or the placebo.

In February I’ll get another scan — our first chance to see how well my immune system has attacked the cancer. A good result will be either no growth or shrinkage of the tumors.

— Steve Patterson

 

‘Die Hard’ Is A Christmas Movie If You’re A Fan

December 25, 2019 Featured, Popular Culture Comments Off on ‘Die Hard’ Is A Christmas Movie If You’re A Fan
Our leg lamp ornament — a reference to the 1983 classic: A Christmas Story.

The recent Sunday Poll was about the 1988 Bruce Willis action film Die Hard being a Christmas movie, or not. Here are the non-scientific results:

Q: Agree or disagree: The 1988 movie ‘Die Hard’ is a Christmas movie.

  • Strongly agree: 7 [31.82%]
  • Agree: 2 [9.09%]
  • Somewhat agree: 3 [13.64%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [4.55%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [9.09%]
  • Disagree: 2 [9.09%]
  • Strongly disagree: 4 [18.18%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [4.55%]

My husband loves this movie as much as Home Alone, so my opinion doesn’t really matter. The following comes closest to my own thoughts:

The film is a deceptively rich text that crucially hinges on John McClane flying across the country to reconcile with his estranged wife over the holidays. That is, all things considered, pretty damn Christmas of him. Pair that with the bond he builds with Sgt. Al Powell via walkie-talkie over the course of the film (the moment they finally meet at the end of the movie and greet each other as old friends gets me as good as any great Christmas Movie) and you’ve got the makings of all the naked sentiment and emotional exploration required of a Christmas Movie.

The catch is that while the events of Die Hard are technically instigated by the holiday season, Christmas isn’t the lens through which these relationships are explored so much as the trauma stemming from the attack on Nakatomi Plaza is. John and Holly don’t reconcile because it’s Christmas so much as they reconcile because they’ve both seen the other narrowly escape death (multiple times) and had to contemplate living in a world without one another. Al and John’s friendship stems from survival and personal growth, neither of which have any concrete tie to the holiday. It’s a great movie, a great movie that takes place on Christmas. But don’t get it twisted: it’s not a Christmas Movie. (Geek)

Being set during Christmas doesn’t make a movie a Christmas movie. At least not for me, maybe for you it does. I think a movie you like a movie set during Christmas can become a classic Christmas movie for you.

Enjoy your day!

— Steve Patterson

 

More Changes Coming To Central West End Light Rail Station

December 23, 2019 Central West End, Featured, Public Transit Comments Off on More Changes Coming To Central West End Light Rail Station

When our light rail line, MetroLink, opened in July 1993 the Central West End (CWE) station was one of the original.  This was prior to the city vacating Euclid Ave. for vehicular travel. For the next 13 years the station operated with two separate platforms — one for eastbound and one for westbound — with the tracks in the center,

In August 2006 the new Blue Line opened further west.  But the CWE station had been rebuilt from two platforms to one center platform. This reduced elevators from two to one.

July 2010 looking down on the station from what used to be Euclid Ave on the west.
Looking east toward Taylor from the CWE MetroLink platform, 2014

The station, the busiest in the system, remain largely unchanged until last year when the platform was extended in length. The trains aren’t any longer, but the eastbound trains now stop further east from the stair/elevator. This was done to reduce pedestrian congestion.

Construction on the platform extension, November 2018.

So what’s changing? From Metro’s December 20th press release:

Station Redesign Details:

  • New, monitored entrance/exit at the street level from Euclid Avenue on the west end of the station featuring a welcome center at the top of the stairs that lead down to the MetroLink platform
  • A new, wider staircase with a center handrail connecting the new Euclid Avenue entrance/exit to the platform to better accommodate passengers
  • Relocating the elevator on the station platform to relieve congestion
  • New, upgraded platform lighting
  • An expanded canopy to cover 70% of the MetroLink platform. The current canopy covers 30% of the MetroLink platform.
  • Safety improvements including a speed bump, stop sign, and new lighting at the entry to the MetroBus area of the garage which connects to the east entrance/exit of the platform.

Construction begins today, the elevator will be closed starting Thursday (12/26/19). When the station was reconfigured in 2006 they should’ve made the platform wider. Hopefully the new station will have a substantially larger elevator — and that a wheelchair user waiting for the elevator won’t block others.

Obviously during the construction those of us that need the elevator will have to use the east end of the platform and enter/exit via the CWE MetroBus Transit Center. Metro’s release indicates other closures may happen throughout the project but that advance notice will be given.  Unfortunately, they did not indicate how long this project will last.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Is ‘Die Hard’ A Christmas Movie?

December 22, 2019 Featured, Popular Culture, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Is ‘Die Hard’ A Christmas Movie?
Please vote below

There are many films out that are undisputed Christmas classics. Esquire recently published a list of the top 40 Christmas movies, here’s their top 10:

  • 10. A Christmas Carol, 1951
  • 9. The Muppets Christmas Carol, 1992
  • 8. Bad Santa, 2003
  • 7. Miracle on 34th St., 1947
  • 6. Scrooged, 1988
  • 5. Home Alone, 1990
  • 4. White Christmas, 1954
  • 3. A Christmas Story, 1983
  • 2. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 1989
  • 1. It’s a Wonderful Life, 1946

Further down the list is Meet Me In St. Louis, at #16:

Vincente Minnelli’s 1944 musical is comprised of vignettes set during a variety of seasons, but none are as famous as the one featuring star (and Minnelli’s future wife) Judy Garland singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” (Esquire)

You can watch Garland sing this here.

Today’s poll is about the movie at #25 on their list — Die Hard, 1988. Here’s an intro to the plot:

On Christmas Eve, NYPD detective John McClane arrives in Los Angeles, intending to reconcile with his estranged wife, Holly, at the Christmas party of her employer, the Nakatomi Corporation. McClane is driven to the party by Argyle, a limousine driver. While McClane changes clothes, the party is disrupted by the arrival of a German terrorist, Hans Gruber, and his team: computer hacker Theo, Karl and Tony Vreski, Franco, Alexander, Marco, Kristoff, Eddie, Uli, Heinrich, Fritz, and James. The group seizes the tower and secures those inside as hostages except for McClane, who slips away, and Argyle, who gets stranded in the garage. (Wikipedia)

And this is the trailer:

I can’t think of a movie that has been debated more about being a Christmas movie or not.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

Design: Automotive Taillights Need Separate Amber Turnsignals

December 20, 2019 Featured, Planning & Design Comments Off on Design: Automotive Taillights Need Separate Amber Turnsignals

Today’s blog post is one of those I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now. The subject is been a pet peeve of mine for at least four decades now.

Previously I’ve posted about automotive headlights, so today is about taillights. Specifically the varied design of automotive taillights, and how ours differ from the rest of the world.

First we need to review the four components that make up rear light assemblies:

  • Tail light — the red light that is on when your lights are on.
  • Brake light — the red light that comes on when you hit the brakes.
  • Turn signal/indicator — the flashing light to indicate your turn. In combination these are the emergency flashers.
  • Backup lights — the white lights that come on when you put the car into reverse gear.

Government regulations on these four vary widely in different parts of the world. North America, as you might expect, is out of step with the rest of the world.

To explain my views on taillights I’ve assigned A-F grades to the various types:

Grade: A

Tail light assembly from the 80s Volvo 740/760 sedans. Clockwise staring in the  upper left is the amber turn signs, backup light, and four separate red sections — I no longer recall which did what. One is brake only, one is taillight, and one was a rear fog light, and one was just a reflector.
  • Separate taillight & brake light — the brake light is dark even when the lights are on, when the brakes are pressed a dark space becomes lighted.
  • Amber turn signal lens — not just an amber bulb behind a clear lens, but an amber lens.
  • An A+ also has a rear fog light.
  • Examples I’ve owned: 1987 Volvo 740 Turbo, 1986 Saab 900S, 1986 Saab 900 Turbo
  • New:  no new cars have A-grade taillights.

Grade: B

My 2004 Toyota Corolla had an amber turn signal lens.
  • Combined taillight & brake light
  • Amber turn signal lens
  • Examples I’ve owned: 1974 Ford Mustang II, 1975 Mercury Monarch, 1984 Dodge Colt, 1988 Mitsubishi Mirage, 2004 Toyota Corolla, 2000 Volkswagen Golf,
  • New: none that I can think of

Grade: C

Our current Sonata has LED taillight & brake lights, the amber incandescent turn signal bulb is behind the clear lens on the left.
  • combined taillight & brake light
  • Clear turn signal lens, amber bulb
  • Examples I’ve owned: 2006 Scion xA, 2015 Hyundai Sonata
  • New: Numerous, but dwindling quickly.

Grade: D

This is like the 2007 Civic we had, the small red section in the bottom is a separate turn signal. The 2009-10 models of the 8th generation had a slight change — the turn signal lens became clear with an amber bulb. Those models get a C grade.
  • combined taillight & brake light
  • Separate turn signal, red lens
  • Examples I’ve owned:  1999 Audi A4 Avant, 2007 Honda Civic
  • New: Many

Grade: F

Ford’s Fusion is one of the most frustrating. In some years of this generation the red is simply reflector. The clear part on the left is combined taillight/brake light/turn signal — all in red LEDs
This is just a pic I had of a Cadillac. It may in fact have a separate red turn signal, but so many cars just have a big red blob only capable of doing one function at a time.
  • combined taillight, brake light & turn signal
  • Example: 1979 Ford Fairmont Futura, 1971 Dodge Demon,
  • New: Most sold today, including Tesla!

As you can see my grading scale gives a higher priority to taillights that give each function its own light independent of the others. Amber for turn signals because a different color next to red brake lights has greater visibility. And we all want our brake lights and turn signals to be seen, right?

Also infuriating are aftermarket taillight assemblies that have less visibility than the factory units. Also, dark smoke taillight covers significantly reduce visibility. Individuals changing their lights say they’re doing an “amber delete” on their vehicles. Time & money to make their cars less visible to others — crazy!

One reason I long preferred European cars was their taillights. Very…European. Not anymore, even Volvo & Mercedes are selling new vehicles in North America with D-grade taillights. These same vehicles sold in the rest of the world have significantly better taillights — because regulations in other countries require it!

Thankfully I’m not the only person who feels this way. Here’s an excellent 13-minute video of a guy explaining the differences.

Here’s more:

Here’s the fundamental issue: the US (and Canada, but they’re just piggybacking on our regs) is the only place in the world where the rear turn indicator may be red, instead of orange/yellow/amber. Up front, indicators need to cast an amber light to differentiate from the white headlamps, but out rear you can actually just use one red-shining bulb for stop/tail/turn functions, as many cars do — especially trucks and jeeps and other vehicles that use off-the-shelf cheap trailer-type lights. (Jalopnik)

The above cites a couple of the many studies showing separate amber turn signals are best: 1977 Volkswagen & 2009 National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

U.S. regulations have minimum lit area requirements for turn signals, brake lights, etc. But these standards are from the 1950s!

The minimum size was adopted in the mid-1950s when a Society of Automotive Engineers lighting committee met in Arizona and evaluated cars with different rear lighting configurations. The engineers peered at the cars as they were driven away, then voted on which systems they thought looked okay. There were two reasons for specifying minimum lit area: the lens plastics available in the 1950s weren’t very colorfast or heatproof, and requiring a minimum lit area was a way to ensure, without design-restrictive explicit requirements, that the lens would be a minimum distance away from the hot bulb, to stave off fading and cracking. (A Car Place)

Gee, lighting has changed a little in 60+ years.

The U.S. needs to modernize our automotive lighting regulations so closely resemble those in the rest of the world.

— Steve Patterson

 

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