No Spring Chicken #35

I was reminded by a friend who came to the Kitsap Chordsmen's show last weekend that I hadn't sent out a SitRep (Situation Report) in ages and he didn't know if I ever got my roof fixed. Can you tell he works for the Navy? I was also reminded by an email from a friend in New Zealand that I hadn't sent anything out in a while and he didn't know if I was alive or well. So I've decided to send out a sitrep for all of you.

You may remember that at last notice I had a hole in my roof, a bad back, had just finished Singing Valentines and shortly before that chemo treatments. So, one by one:

The roof is fixed, but it required a re-fi of the house. We are now in debt for 30 years instead of 15. But the offshoot is that the payments are almost exactly the same and we were able to put the money we had to take out of our IRA back (by the expedient of not taking as much out each month because we had cash on hand). The roof got completed before the rains really came. I'm looking into the possibility of a reverse mortgage on the hosue, but don't want to make a decision until after the 2016 election, when I'll know if I'm staying in the US or not. Yes, some of these candidates scare me that much. So if you have information on reverse mortgages, contact me.

The back cleared up sometime in March/April. I've been pretty good since then. This always happens. I know how to handle it, but it takes a while. Interestingly enough, Janet also developed back problems, which isn't something she usually does. But we are both OK.

Singing Valentines are always a kick. I'm in the process of writing the software for a web page to allow a chorus to deliver a "Singing Salute" to a service member or veteran. It involves the chorus quartets to learn the service songs so they can sing the right song for each individual, but is another possible revenue source that works year round. This is a district level piece of code. We'll see what happens.

Got my six month Cat scan a little while back and I'm clean and clear. But I recently heard two very interesting pieces on the NPR Ted Hour (where they review some of the Ted Talks and give a description of the visual part you can't see on the radio). One was about a very simple test that involves a simple device (<$20 cost) and a smart phone to read the results and a small sample of blood. They have found that there are particular molecules of a certain sort that are in the blood whenever there are problems with an organ, and that they appear in the blood long before the cancer could be detected by any other method. By locating these molecules they can see which organs have problems. I'm unclear on whether they can tell whether or not cancer is present from the molecule, or if it just shows problems with the organs. Now, the problem is that they have only isolated half a dozen organs by specific molecule so far. But the idea and the concepts are there for detecting cancer long before it could be detected by any other method and at a cost that almost anyone can afford, instead of the very expensive ways that it is now detected. The second Ted Talk was about another sort of molecule found to attach itself to cancer cells and convince them that they are not cancer after all and they begin acting like normal cells again. The lab that found this molecule released the information on it as open source, so that other labs could get the molecule from them and all the info and further investigate it. So far six other labs have very similar molecules that can do the same job. The original lab is in testing on mice, and of 14 mice with cancerous tumors, of which seven were given placebos while seven were given the treatment molecule. The seven with placebos have died. Of the seven with the molecule, five were totally cured and two were very much improved. I've forgotten the time frame, but this is great news for a cure. So at present I have a lot better attitude than I had last week about my recurring lymphoma. BTW, lymphoma is one of the types of cancer that they can detect with the first type of molecule.

Tonight is the start of pre-season football in Seattle, as the Seahawks host the Broncos. So, in honor of that, here are a couple of my favorite NFL jokes:
How are the Broncos like Wheaties? They are the breakfast of Champions!
How are the Broncos different from Wheaties? Only one belongs in a bowl!

We lost power a while ago during the thunder, lightning and rain. Janet was going to visit her friend, Jesse, who has a broken knee cap at present, and they are waiting to see if it will knit itself back together before they decide to operate or not. Since Jesse is a very talkative type, and she can't get out at present, Janet goes to visit her on occasion. I was going to stay home today. Indeed, I did. I went out to the hot tub and read for a while. Last night we had a power loss, though, and I had forgotten about that, so the temp had dropped a bit in the tub from the 101 I usually have it set at. That is Fahrenheit, for my metric friends. So it is about 3 above body temp. But the hot tub resets itself to 95 (about 3 below body temp) when it loses power. So it wasn't as warm as I expected, but it was still about body temp. It cooled while I was soaking and reading (it was lighter outside than inside with the power off). I was also counting time on lightning vs thunder to see how far away it was. Most of the strikes were 9-11 miles away. But some were as close as 6 miles. I decided, since we live in the woods and those are pretty big trees and the hot tub porch is not as sturdy as the house (solid cedar), that I'd go inside if they got closer than 5 miles. Just to be safe. When you think about it, a 75'-100' tall tree that is 3'-4' in diameter can weigh quite a bit, and I didn't want to be under the flimsy porch, only under the solid house, if the lightning was hitting nearby. Anyway, I eventually went inside after power came back on. Now I had internet access again I could check to see if anyone had checked the KRA coaching launch to see if it was filling with water in the pouring rain. Turns out that someone thought of it, Steve had a chance to check it, and he found we had all of 6" freeboard at the time. So he pumped it out and covered it so it wouldn't sink. Then he pumped out several other launches and dinghes in the area. Our guys (and gals) in KRA are just plain fine folks.

We've found a new rowing exercise on the web that seemed like it would help us. So we tried it. Twice now. It improves a lot of our rowers and helps a boat get their act together as far as boat swing goes. It is the posture drill, and by reminding rowers to get their back posture before coming out of bow it helps them save their backs and helps get their body in the proper position to be steady on the slide so the boat doesn't rock as much. This is my new second-favorite exercise drill. I've told you before that I coach a crew team and am having fun doing that. This year has been difficult weather-wise. Last year the wind always dropped in the evening. This year it has usually picked up in the evening, just about when we row. Three times this summer we have had to come back in before we normally would due to whitecaps (our club's guideline for when we can't be out there). Finally the weather has broken and we have been able to stay out in the evening and the wind has actually dropped. We are getting ready now for this year's Bill Richards Memorial Regatta. We will be hosting this year, and have invited Bainbridge Island Rowing and Clam Island Rowing. BIR hosted last year. Bill was part of starting BIR, and singlehandedly started KRA (initially Indianola Rowing Association). KRA helped Clam Island by giving them a four (that they originally got from BIR). We'll be racing from the South end of Liberty Bay to the north end. The finish line will be off the gazebo in the Poulsbo waterfront. After the regatta there will be a potluck dinner for rowers at the gazebo and my quartet, Agate Passage, will be singing for it. We were sold off at the fundraising auction for KRA last winter, and the wining bidder wanted us for this party. We'll be doing our best entertainment stuff.

Our chorus, the Kitsap Chordsmen, just finished another great show. Chuck Roegiers wrote another gem of a script. Mike Menefee has us singing better than ever before. Gene St. Germain chaired the show and everything went smoothly. Except we didn't sell enough tickets so the crowd was smaller than we'd like. They were good crowds, but we need to up our ticket sales. Like so many volunteer organizations, we fall short in this critical respect. I have never been a good ticket salesman, but did just about what I usually do. Wish I knew how to up that level of sales. I can sell a song well. But not tickets.

I'll try to keep these updated more often. Sometimes it is hard though, to know what you all might like to hear. Janet says the last couple were pretty dark, mostly complaining about troubles. Right now I don't have a lot of troubles. Just some good things and some OK things. The news about cancer investigations (see above) has put me in a bit better mode. We'll see how these pan out, and when. But they are very encouraging.