Friday, August 22, 2008

Wireless Power

I just read this article about Intel's new R&D toy that transmits power wirelessly and safely.

Pretty cool stuff, but before it comes to market, they'll have some challenges to overcome: how do you protect your power from being stolen? I'm assuming in this future utopian society that we'll still have to pay for the power we consume, so how do I keep my neighbor from just turning off his power and living off my wireless feed? Will every lamp, phone, computer, appliance, and ceiling fan require some sort of communications security package?

With my wireless network, only recognized MAC addresses are even allowed to connect. So buying a new electric razor might some day involve taking it to a power console, copying a serial number or other unique identifier into the console, and then connecting it. Will consumers accept the inconvenience of security or the higher bills of stolen power? Or will all electric consumers have to get pushed to a flat fee? Government involvement? Power as tax?*

Don't get me wrong: I'm excited about never having to charge my cell phone again, but there will have to be some very carefully orchestrated infrastructure development and policy-planning before this takes off, or else we'll be constantly struggling to legislate after-the-fact.

*Please do not get excited about the prospect of guaranteeing citizens' rights to power through taxation or direct government involvement. Subsequent questions arise about what level of government provides the power: federal, state, or local. Each has its ramifications and implications:
  • Federally-guaranteed power would require similar levels of taxation from all Americans, which either puts undue strain on under-developed localized economies that might not need wireless power service, or puts undue strain on the wealthy to shore up the nation's infrastructure.
  • State-level subsidization might leave some states without any infrastructure, and complex power-sharing/purchasing schemes would again hurt local economies during periods of high consumption (see California's constant need to buy power from out-of-state, and New York's super-badass power outage from a few years ago).
  • Local wireless sets up stiff competition between adjacent municipalities and functionally encourages theft of power by those who live close enough to demesne borders.
But then, any subsidization comes at the additional cost of either significantly over-priced power being sold by corporations to the government, or significantly under-performing power being produced by inefficient government agencies. So yeah, free enterprise is the ticket here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

King's Miff - King's Demiff - King's Dominion

Yesterday was Little A's first ever trip to King's Dominion. We went after 4pm to get discounted tickets, and wound up spending just over 3 hours of blissful evening at the park. Alastair loved every single thing he did, right down to stealing daddy's french fries.

We started with the Eiffel Tower. Ever the little engineer, Alastair quickly lost interest with the sheer size of the tower and focussed his attention on the machinations of the elevator. Of particular interest to our little 2 1/2 year-old son were the counter-weights. We rode to the top, spent a few minutes looking down on humanity and explained that all those tiny things below were actually really big up close, and then came back down. He was fascinated with the phenomenon of items growing with our descent.

Then we went and drove the antique cars. He was a super little boy while waiting in line, and "helped" me drive the car all around through the woods. He was a little disappointed that he couldn't actually drive the car, but he didn't gripe about it.

He and Momma went from there to the Flying Eagles, Alastair's first actual thrill ride. He and Amanda soared above me in their eagle, and he didn't show a hint of fear. Rock on, kid!

From there we went back to the front gate for food, and he chowed down on my french fries and shared a hot dog with Mommy. Our little shy guy was shouting "Hi" to all the patrons of the restaurant.

Then off to the children's area. First up were the little jeeps. This was his first ride without either Mommy or Daddy at his side, and while this sort of thing usually elicits fear, he just sat there and drove his little jeep, clanging the bell from time to time.

From the jeeps to the 4x4 pickups, which he also rode solo around a big meandering track. This one had him completely out of sight from us, and yet still he soldiered on. I don't think he'd ever experienced such bliss: he was driving a car completely on his own!

On the other side from the 4x4's are little Corvettes on a similar winding track. He drove an orange one (just like Daddy's race car!) twice during the evening, and told us the whole way home that he beat the green car that was behind him.

Then there were little race cars that just moved in a circle. Again: bliss. Alastair is absolutely enamored with driving (score!).

I convinced him to ride the miniature Berserker, and that gave him his first taste of negative G-loads as the boat rocked back and forth.

Our final big event of the evening was his first real roller coaster: the Taxi Jam. We waited very patiently in line for about 3 or 4 minutes, all the time Alastair was telling me that he didn't want to ride. But when we were at the front of the line, his tune changed quickly. I rode with him, and his little face was plastered in the biggest grin I've ever seen throughout the whole ride. Awesome.

While life couldn't get any better than the roller-coaster, he still wanted one last driving experience, and how better to finish than how he began: one last turn on the little jeeps.

At 8:30pm, his usual bed-time, we made our way to the front gate and began the 20-minute drive home. Amanda was terribly disappointed that we couldn't find any ice cream in the park, so we stopped for a milk-shake on the way. She and Alastair shared it in the back seat, and at 9:25pm, he was down without a sound. No late-night muttering, no kicking the wall or wrestling with Monkey, just deep sleep.

Kid was worn out.

Our favorite detail of the whole experience was that, throughout the day (throughout the whole weekend, actually), Alastair never quite mastered the name of the park. He kept saying "King's Miff" or "King's Demiff". With coaching, he'd get it right, but always revert back to "King's Miff" after a few minutes. Where in the world did he get "Miff" out of "Dominion"?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Remission: Yes, No, Maybe, Circle All!

Amanda is technically both in and not in remission.

Her blast count is below 5%, the chief determinant of remission. Normal blast cell counts are 3.2%, whereas leukemia can be (but generally is not) diagnosed at 3.4%.

However, more modern testing of that <5% shows that her blast cells are "abnormal", which is the new gold standard.

So she's both, which has implications for her treatment options. Transplant is not off the table, but now we're just looking at managing the sickness in preparation for the transplant (transplant on patients with active leukemia are generally not successful as it takes 2 - 3 months for the new immune system to start working, and post-transplant chemo is not an option).

So she was given 3 choices:

1. HIDAC (High-dose ARA-C), aka consolidation therapy -- what she's had the last 2 times.
2. FLAGG (fludarabine / idarubacine), aka induction therapy -- what she had the first 2 times.
3. Clinical Trial

The argument against the first two is that they've both failed to keep cancer at bay. FLAGG didn't work the first time at all, and HIDAC hasn't kept the cancer away long enough between treatments.

The argument against the 3rd is that it's a trial. There are no proven results, no statistics, no way to predict the future. But the trial offers the hope that a new set of tools presents an attack vector the the leukemia doesn't know.

The trial would take 2 weeks, and she'd be in the hospital the whole time (except weekends), and she'd take 3 pills / day and one 4.5 hour transfusions on days 1 and 8.

If she forgoes the trial, they can try to use FLAGG and/or HIDAC to keep the cancer in small enough enclaves to have no real effect on her transplant. Either way, she can move from one treatment option to the other at her choice.

Amanda has just over a week to ruminate on the options, but the medical staff will also discuss and make recommendations next Wednesday (they have a weekly meeting on Tuesdays to discuss all patients).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Manda's Sick - Blood Test Blues

You've probably read Amanda's post. If not, take a moment and do so. I'll wait.

Yes, a blast cell was found, and yes, it probably means remission is no more, but nothing is definite. Amanda is having a biopsy right now and will not have results until Friday.

Her blood-counts as a whole, however, are higher than they've been since any of this crazy crap started. Blasts, from what I've read, do exist in normal healthy people, just not in large numbers. And that's why nothing is definite: it's possible that one of these random rogues was detected, and that she's fine.

Either way, she's scheduled for another round of chemo next week, and the biopsy results will help the medical team decide how best to proceed.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Of all the activities on God's green Earth, the activity I think I hate the most is painting. Roller, sprayer, brush: it doesn't matter. I hate painting.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Evidently I wasn't clear.

I want one of these:

Not one of these:

Thanks, Marissa, for making me realize how silly the previous post seemed. I'm not looking for burly love.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Bright Lights, Big City

I want a welder. Of course, I want to learn how to weld, but I want a welder.

There are a bunch of projects that I want to undertake, and one that I need to.

Mmmm, welder...