Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Me versus a retrovirus.

I did the Viva Las Vegas thing and the Happy Thanksgiving thing. Now I'm playing catch up. Every agenda item for the year which got procrastinated is on my todo list for the next few weeks.

I'm getting a lot of AIM spam today and making good use of the "warn" button. What will AOL do when every possible combination of letters and numbers is exhausted by these IM spambot scripts?

Tomorrow I start taking powerful and expensive antiviral drugs which may give me a rash and diarrhea. The HIV diagnosis itself never really stressed me until my most recent blood work came back showing that I had 419,000 copies of the virus per milliliter. The doc says that's a lot of strain on an immune system.  The goal is less than 50 copies per mL.  My CD4 cell count has increased from 235 to 264 per cubic millimeter over three months.  Then, in mid-November it went the wrong direction to 246.  The doc wants it above 300.  800 is the low end of normal.  If the virus kills off too many CD4 cells, a simple pneumonia could kill me.  When my number is up, so be it, but I'm not going to worry about something which I cannot control.  I'll simply remain determined to live well.  I'm going on the ART (antiretroviral treatment) meds, including Truvada and Viramune.  So far, without meds, the only symptoms I've seen are some skin blemishes which the dermatologist said was common staph and some redness which they decided was a reaction to an antibiotic they put me on.  I'm seeing the best available doctors.  I've been eating healthily and working out.  I'm getting stronger and keeping a positive attitude.  The less I dwell on it, the better I feel, and that's that.  I'll know if the ART meds are effective by mid-January.  Unless I have a bad reaction to the drugs and have to switch regimens, that'll be the next update on the topic.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Viva Lost Wages

I'm back from Vegas and I've had a full night's rest. I had a great lunch with family at Charlie Hooper's in Brookside. Now, I'm going to Lawrence to see my brother's band perform. Then I'll pack for the journey to southeast Oklahoma for Thanksgiving with more family. We rented a GMC Envoy so we could all fit comfortably. I'm excited about eating some country cooking on Turkey Day.

In the meantime, I found an eclectic music site to keep me entertained.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Greetings from Las Vegas

Well, Vegas is mostly the same, but I'm here with my brother and sister-in-law and we're having a ton of fun.  The impetus behind the trip was to see UFC56, and it did not disappoint.  I saw some exciting fights replete with blood and some brutal knock outs.  Our seats were decent.  

Despite acres of slot machines, all I get out of playing them is slightly older and slightly less than break even.  It can be relaxing to zombie out in front of the slots, but I can't fathom why you would in a place like Las Vegas where there's more to do than you can accomplish.  My shift from playing blackjack, primarily, to playing poker has also been a positive thing.  Poker is more profitable and fun.  I've played at Bally's and at MGM Grand.  While MGM Grand's poker room is nicer, the play is tighter.  I enjoyed playing in the soft games at Bally's and taking money from the beginner players there in the low limit Texas Hold 'Em games. 

Our journey from our hotel took us to the Monte Carlo, where we simply got onto the train to Bellagio where we had pastries and crepes for breakfast.  The poker room there had higher limit games.  I was amazed to see players with triple my annual salary in chips in front of them.  Then we went to Bally's for poker (I won. . . a lot) and then lunch at Ortanique.  We walked around in the Paris casino and did not stay.  The poker area was the same as Bally's.  The next stop was the MGM Grand, where we played poker (I lost a few bucks) and watched the fights.  We took the monorail back to Harrah's and checked our comps.  Lisa had enough slot points to buy us all dinner.  We selected Bambaleo, a Mexican restaurant in the Rio.  We took the shuttle there and I had the best guacamole I've ever had.  It had bits of jalepeno in it.  Zing!  The poker room at the Rio looked entirely too serious.  We proceeded to the Palms and watched the hipsters standing in line for the clubs.  The people watching there on a Saturday night is phenomenal.  It's Sunday, and we slept in.  Time to start again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Curling. . er, rocks.

I curled Sunday.  I had forgotten how much fun that game is.  I'll surely be going more often now that the season is underway.  That session was completely full.  I hope they start having two sessions every Sunday.  The class to learn how is only $10.  Anyone can sign up at http://www.kccurling.com

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Nephew's birthday.

After work I went by Wal-Mart Supercenter to grab a gift for my nephew's ninth birthday and found myself in the electronics section playing Call of Duty 2 on X-Box 360 until I was nearly late for the birthday dinner.  I snagged a very cool General Grievous vehicle toy and action figure.  The birthday boy requested burgers, and they were delicious.  I can't recall ever grilling burgers during snowfall, but watching snow fall through the grill smoke is a strange sight.  He also requested chocolate cake.  Also delicious.

Last night, the nephew and I went skating at the Crown Center Ice Terrace and they had Christmas music blaring on the loudspeakers.  Mid-November is a bit early for Little Town of Bethlehem.  I had promised him hot chocolate, but we stayed until they closed.  So, we went to the 42nd Floor of the Hyatt to Skies, which is the rotating restaurant at the top.  The first time he stepped off the elevator and saw the big windows, his eyes bugged out and he gasped and froze.  I thought he was going to faint.  After the host showed us to the lounge area, he was fine.  We had hot chocolate, cheesecake brulee, and vanilla ice cream.  We stayed up there for an hour and the thing had rotated about 180 degrees til we were facing the downtown skyline, which looks great from up there.  Since the floor is the only part that moves, the art, the view of the city, and the lighting gradually, constantly changes.  After the sugar buzz started, we were goofing around and leaning against the glass, but since the floor is moving under you, your feet are going left as your forehead gets pulled to the right by the glass, which adds to the dizzying sensation of leaning against a window 500 feet above the downtown streets.  Good times.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Asbestos dust is delicious.

I ended up on some mailing list about natural cures and such.  I believe about one tenth of the stuff in these mailings.  The recurring theme is preventing the flu.  I've been to http://www.pandemicflu.gov to read what all the hype is about.  There's a lot of avian influenza (bird flu) material there.  The main lesson I took from it all is don't kiss anyone who breathes dried chicken poop dust in Cambodia.  I think I'm safe for now.  It's like the pamphlet they give you when you buy and/or finance a house.  I have a stack of these blue booklets which warn about lead and asbestos.  If you have lead paint, don't eat it.  If you have to cut asbestos, don't suck the dust into your lungs.  My favorite part involves letting the water run for 30 seconds before filling your drinking glass, if you have lead water pipes.  During my recent bathroom remodel, the floor tile contractor dude found a layer of tile underneath two other layers of flooring material.  It's a gorgeous green color, but it's asbestos.  Lovely.  I suspect it's all over the house.  The advice is to be aware of it and leave it alone.