Friday, April 30, 2010

PICC removal and new Chemotherapy

It is late today that Joan will be most grateful to have the PICC line removed for good. She will be on a different Chemo regime starting immediately. Instead if the infusion of three poisons every two weeks she will be getting an infusion of Avastin every three weeks through a vein in her hand and daily tablets of Xeloda. Side effects will be much the same losing a couple and gaining a couple. One she will get, is very red hands.

The oncologist told us that at this stage many patients get a 'chemo holiday', but not Joan. There are too many liver tumours to risk the holiday. He also told us of the discussion he had with a surgeon about removing the bowel cancer. They both agreed that the time lost in recuperating from bowel surgery would probably give the liver tumours new life. So she will be on permanent chemo unless we see a dramatic improvement. The blood marker has continued to come down and is now 500 from the initial 9,200.

We are off to Queensland for the PNG reunion on Monday. Away for 9 days.

This morning I received a package of ink cartridges from a supplier in Hong Kong. There are 14 chipped Canon compatible cartridges which cost A$28 including postage to our door. That is about half of one genuine cartridge. Poo to all the folks who look down on non-original cartridges. That is where brands like Canon, HP, Brother etc etc make their money: not on sales of the actual printers.

This blog has a few regular readers, but one in Mountain View, California is the most regular and most often. I suspect it is a relative who lives in California. Love to hear from him/her in a comment.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cats and Dinosaurs

We have had a number of cats. We like cats, in fact Joan's sister wants to buy one for Joan when we return from Brisbane. I have reservations!

We have a neighbor's cat visit us regularly. We don't feed it and it still drifts by for a bit of a talk and leg rub. There are two other large cats who visit during the night and use our place for very noisy fights and a toilet. Most of the houses in this area probably don't have garden beds like ours and I guess the cats seek us out to do their thing(s). The fights are very annoying and go on until I get up and chase them off. The poo in the garden beds and vegetable plot is very annoying. Cats don't bury their poo too deeply and as I water my vegies, large lumps emerge from the ground like horror movie corpses. You may say that it's fertiliser, but just like dog turds they remain solid lumps of worthless....poo.

Last night there was a fight out side our rear door. They didn't stop when I shone a strong light on them. One was a large muscular looking Tabby and the other was an overweight Siamese. After I chased them off I collected a couple of handfuls of fur. Tabby 1 Siamese 0 although there were a few traces of Tabby fur in the heap.

On the weekend I purchased a second-hand A3 printer. It is an HP Deskwriter 9300. It was fitted with new cartridges and works like a charm. I have many vintage negatives to print large prints from. It cost $40.

I recently read where there is new theory about the demise of dinosaurs. This one says that an ice age did away with them..all of them. I think this cartoon could be the key to their extinction. Wouldn't want them fighting in your back yard!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Changing attitudes

In the previous blog I told of a Japanese Kokoda WW2 veteran who fessed up to eating flesh of the enemy to survive when the Japanese push to capture Port Moresby started to fall apart and supplies dwindled because of the Allies' control of the supply routes.

Yesterday I watched quite a few docos of the time and one of them was about war crime trials in 1945/6. One trial was of a Japanese soldier who was accused of eating the flesh of a dead Australian soldier. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging.

The change in attitude about cannibalism is interesting and probably changed after an air crash in the Andes mountains in 1972. The passengers and crew were not found and eventually the survivors turned to cannibalism to survive. They were all Catholics and some equated the act of cannibalism to the ritual of Holy Communion. Read about the crash and rescue here.

Eventually survivors were rescued and no charges were laid, probably because they weren't the enemy?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

American Pie

It is ANZAC day today and recent newspapers have had stories of exploits of our military in two world wars and other 'minor' wars since Federation.

In the weekend edition of the Australian newspaper there was an article featuring a Japanese veteran of the Kokoda battles. He returned to Papua New Guinea in 1979 and remained there until 2005 searching out and collecting bones of buried Japanese troops on and near the Kokoda Track.

In an interview with the Australian's reporter, Ross Coultard, Nishimura made an admission that to survive he had eaten the flesh of enemy troops, but he claims that he ate the flesh of Americans only. Was this a case of supply and demand or just being careful not to offend Australians?

We recently attended a meeting with our financial advisor in West Perth. West Perth is the financial and medical district and it has large parking bays, no doubt to allow for BMWs and Jags and the hourly rate is $2.90 per hour, more than most other areas around Perth.
Room enough for a Lambo?

It seems that we weathered the financial crisis rather well and we have enough cash to see us out. When the man asked how we were, Joan told him about her fight with the Big C and he immediately launched into a plan for the future and I had to tell him that we didn't yet want to go down that path.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Domestic expresso coffee makers

We decided we would join all the other financial crisis stimulus packagers and buy a coffee maker. Friends bought one at a swap meet and they got it for around $10 and claim it works well.

We paid $188.00 for ours and as soon as we tipped it out of the box (that's what you have to do with tight polystyrene packaging) Joan washed it and we made our first cup(s) of coffee. When you load the coffee grounds there are two for 1 cup and another for 2 cups. What we didn't realise, not being frequenters of the Cappuccino Strip in Fremantle, is that the cups they are referring to are actually eggcups. Our regular coffee mugs don't fit under the outlet. So we are doomed to try and take our morning tablets with a dribble of coffee.

A couple of days ago, a welfare person I know and sometimes help by donating computers to some of her clients, rang asking if I could help get her PC working as she had lots of important data she was desperate to save. I told her that I can operate PCs but don't know poo from clay about diagnosing faults etc. Never-the-less she pleaded with me to take a look. I grabbed some tools and a spare monitor and when I arrived saw that the computer, the CPU, was running but the monitor light wasn't on. Changed the monitor and all is well. She wanted to pay me and I refused any payment from a person who helps others. I did stress that changing the monitor was a lucky one and I did not want others to think that I am a PC technician who does freebies.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Surprisingly Australian?

I managed to replace all the swollen capacitors in the eMac I was trying to repair, but they were not the problem. It has been demolished and all the good bits saved as spares.

Last night on TV there was a program named The Fabulous Story of Poop. It was crap! Literally!

Animal, Insect and birds were covered...not one mention about human crap. The Poo has many uses it seems....perfumes, medicines, building materials and food etc.

Dung Beetles got a honourable mention and we saw closeup footage of them getting stuck into cow patties...Yum!

The presenter claimed that researchers refer to poo as Roses.

I get a bit confused with signs. When I see a sign for a Secondhand Shop I wonder if it is selling second hands or is it a second-hand store ? On a packet of bacon this morning I noticed that the manufacturer announced that the contents are 'Surprisingly Australian'. Help me here...what does that mean.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Swollen Capacitors

Around 2000-2002 there were many computers recalled because of faulty capacitors. Dell and Acer had the most call backs. Others included, IBM, Apple and HP.

It was as a result of a bit of industrial espionage. Seems as though a Japanese engineer jumped ship and went to China taking the speccies and formula for the electrolyte with him. Unfortunately he didn't get it quite right and there were massive failures.

I am repairing an Apple eMac at the moment with swollen capacitors. This eMac was built in China around that time and has 5 bulging capacitors. I have bought replacement caps and just have to remove the damaged ones and re-solder the new ones in and reassemble the machine and hope that it works. It is not a biggy; I have other eMacs, but I thought I would try out my soldering skills.

The capacitors cost about 14c.

Some pics....This shows good capacitors with flat tops
The capacitors here have swollen tops.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Photo restoration

When visiting Joan's uncle and aunt last week I gave myself a job to repair a poor photo of her grandparents. Joan's aunty is right into the family tree. I said I would give it a go with Photoshop.

Restoring badly damaged photos is like trying to make money out of repairing computers...sometimes you can discover some small fault quickly and walk out with the cash in no time. Restoring photos can be pretty easy also..if there is little damage to the original.

I have never charged for looking at someone's computer and some of the machines I have tried to fix would have cost lots even at 50c per hour.

I spent about an hour on this photo. It is not a great job, but at least they have one that is easily recognisable as the rellies.

The Original

Converted to B&W

Restored (of sorts)
The difficult jobs, when large parts of the photo are missing or torn, rely on a bit of artistic licence.

When this photo was taken, in the 1950s oldies still didn't smile in formal photographs, however I get the feeling that Joan's Nan was sick and maybe close to her time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bring out your dead

I got rid of a lot of worthless computer gear over the weekend....computers, monitors and printers etc etc. The Fremantle City Council had a bring in your dead day and I loaded the trailer up with about 40 items and headed into Freo territory collecting my brother en route.

We don't live in the Fremantle Council area and shouldn't be using their facilities, but my bro does live in the Freo City area and I had him along so he could tell the man where he lived. As it happened the man didn't ask where we lived and I now have a relatively spacious workshop where I can walk around without tripping over piles of CD drives, Hard Disks, monitors and computers.

The Fremantle Council also has a weekend collection depot manned by a bloke a bit younger than me. He also doesn't know that I live outside the city boundaries. We chat each time I take some stuff there and we have become quite good friends. He hasn't asked me where I live yet, but I suspect that he will one day and I will have to fess up. At worst he could tell me to stay away from his operation..or be nice to his new-found friend and let me continue to visit with my discards. Our own landfill site for the City of Cockburn (that's pronounced coburn!) is quite a way from our house and they don't like taking computer gear especially monitors which have to be shipped off to Holland for safe disposal.

Joan is to have a blood test tomorrow and on Wednesday, round 8 of Chemotherapy. In another fortnight after round 8 round 9 will be the last of infusion through the PICC line and that will be removed and further chemo will be administered in tablet form. The nasty chemo ( Oxyplatin) is to be stopped and Joan should get relief from its nasty side effects.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dead iMacs

Just when I thought I could wind down the computer repair projects I was given four iMacs by W.A. Newspapers Pty Ltd. They are in various states of disrepair and they thought it was better that I have a go repairing them rather than sending them off to landfill.

The are quite recent machines, but two of them have been dropped on the floor of the Graphics Department of 'The West' and they don't bounce. The hard drives have been removed from all of them so that their data is secure.

We have a later model of the same line of iMacs and I am looking forward to getting inside them and seeing if I am lucky enough to get one or two working out of the four.

Last week I had a request for a couple of machines for two aboriginal women. One is quite young and has established an Aboriginal modelling agency. It is in its infancy, but the Welfare Officer I work with hopes that it will be successful. The other woman has severe depression and wants a computer to get on the net and play games. I have two good machines ready to deliver as soon as I get addresses.
So that's what is behind the screen.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

York, Western Australia

Joan's birthday on April 2nd saw us invited up north of the river for lunch with her sister Dorothy and husband Mike. The restaurant is named Spinnakers and we enjoyed a very nice lunch watching boats,large and small, moving around Hillarys Boat Harbour.

Later Joan had her chemo pump removed at St. John's and she was free for the remainder of the fortnight. When we got home we decided to broach a bottle of Moet which was a present to me for my 70th in November. Hmmn...we think Australian $7.00 sparkling bottle-fermented wine is better! Martin, our son gave Joan another French champagne for her birthday and although it was much less expensive, was better than the Moet.

Yesterday we decided to go for a drive to York for an antique show and photography exhibition. It was a lovely day and a nice drive of around 100 Kilometres. With some recent rains there was a touch of green to fields en route.

York was the first colonial town established outside of Perth and Fremantle and has a wonderful colonial feel to it with many old stone buildings, interesting shops, a motor museum,a few nice pubs and public buildings. Sorry we didn't take any pics.

Not so long ago we did think of putting an offer on a magnificent house in York on 3.5 acres. Had we have done so and been successful, we would be doing lots of travelling on a fortnightly basis for chemotherapy sessions in Perth.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Latest CT scan results

Yesterday was the start of round 7 chemo. We arrived at St John's Cancer Ward at 1.45pm and got some good news from the oncologist: the tumours have again showed reduction in size since the last scan 2 months ago and no new lesions have popped up. Also the 'tumours' in the lungs have not changed either in size or number and the oncologist thinks that they may well be granulomas as suggested after the last CT Scan. He is pleased with the results so are we!

After two more rounds of Folfox6, he will have the PICC line removed and Joan will only have to go to the hospital every three weeks to get an infusion of Avastin, a drug that inhibits the formation of cancer tumour blood vessels and take Flouroucil in tablet form. He is to stop the Oxalplatin which has as side effects, white blood cell reduction, nausea, tingling in fingers and severe reaction to cold and heat and hair loss along with a few other nasty bits.

He is still considering surgery of the bowel cancer, but will meet with the surgeon and discuss the benefits as all chemo would be suspended for 6-8 weeks if surgery goes ahead.

Our trip to Queensland in early May will be easier without having to worry about blood tests and flushing the PICC line whilst interstate.

We are feeling pretty good today!