Posts about photography, contract bridge, astrophotography, astronomy, Java development, internet systems.

Internet service has no maverick

If you’re like me, you have exactly two places from which to buy high-speed internet service: your phone company (mine is Verizon) or your cable TV provider (mine is Time Warner Cable).

That sounds like competition, doesn’t it? If you don’t like one, you can go to the other.

Why would I switch?

After nine years (and about $10,000) […]

Home theater upgrade, part 2, fixing HDMI

(Part one found here.)

First I’ll mention that the AV preamp I started out with, a Marantz 7005 purchased as B-stock from Outlaw Audio, turned out to be hopeless. It would never successfully handshake video output to either of my displays, even with no sources connected. Sometimes on a hard reboot, it would send some video, then […]

Home theater upgrade story (Part 1)

Old system:

Rotel RSX-1065 receiver
Panasonic TH-50P9UK plasma display
Old Pioneer DVD player
InFocus ScreenPlay 5700 projector
B&W CDM7NT 5.1 system, with broken tweeters on the front mains
Logitech Harmony One universal remote

Why upgrade?

The Rotel receiver has annoyed me for years with its few seconds of silence after mode switches (like Dolby Digital to PCM during a TV broadcast). It’s volume behavior […]

Kaiser Low Calorie Diet, Terrible Execution

Like so many of us, I need to lose weight. My doctor at Kaiser referred me to a new in-house weight loss program, a low-calorie “meal replacement” program. The program appears to be a franchisee of Robard Corporation’s “New Direction” program.

The program itself is very good. The class materials are current and instructive, and the high-protein […]

Cutting the cord, life without DirecTV (or cable)

“Thank you for calling DirecTV, and thank you for being a loyal customer since 2004! How may I assist you today?”

“I’m calling to close my account.”

It took some doing. After being transfered to a specialist in such matters, who tried to tempt me with such things as a six-month discount, a new TiVo box when they […]

Pathology Report

Here’s the deal: All along, this whole “prostate cancer” thing seemed to me like a gigantic fraud. Well not fraud, but maybe “surreal.” That all changed yesterday.

I felt fine, always did. I wasn’t running to the bathroom two or three times a night. My doctor never felt anything. I have no family history of prostate cancer. It was just a blood test, an imprecise secondary indicator, that suggested a biopsy.

Okay, I believed the biopsy, but still it all seemed abstract.

So I had the surgery. Sure, take it out. I don’t really need it. But I want to know.

This is why I picked surgery over radiation. The radiation therapy is known to be effective, but it’s still all abstract, not real.

Yesterday I went in to have my staples and catheter removed. (Yay!) (Anyone who is facing this procedure and wants to know more about it, I’m happy to share in a private exchange.) Meanwhile my nurse practitioner delivered the pathology report, and I asked her for a printed copy.

I’ll post all of the relevant parts below, followed by a few word interpretations.

Continue reading Pathology Report

Prostate Cancer

With Jane’s encouragement, I thought I would write this blog entry. I want to keep my friends and family up to date, and for the most part they are the only ones reading this blog anyway.

The short version is that I was diagnosed with a small but clinically significant prostate cancer in September, and will have RP surgery (Radical Prostatectomy) using robotics on January 19. I’ll be at Kaiser’s West L.A. Medical Center for one night, then recovering at home for about three weeks. Within a few months, the expectation is that I’ll be pretty much back to normal for the duration.

For those of you who really want all the details, how this came about, and what decisions were involved, I’ll go into it all below. For lots of people this comes under the category of “too much information,” and you are certainly excused without prejudice.

Continue reading Prostate Cancer

First cruise: The Sea Princess, San Francisco to Alaska

Jane and I are in our first port of call on our first-ever vacation cruise. We’re in a coffee shop in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Photos from our first three days with Jane’s family are here.

The cruise went non-stop from San Francisco to Ketchikan, which involved two days at sea. About 36 hours of the cruise were spent in […]

Watching the Atlantis STS-125 launch

It’s been several weeks since NASA launched Atlantis to service the Hubble Space Telescope. Watching the launch, I heard several calls that made me sit up in my seat. You probably didn’t hear them. Watch it with me here:

Listen to the audio …

At 0:49 into the video, about 15 seconds into the launch, CAPCOM says “Bypass […]

What’s wrong with Caesar’s Palace?

Registration lobby at Caesar's Palace Las Vegas

This past week, my wife and I spent four nights in a deluxe room at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. I was attending TheServerSide Java Symposium, and she went along for three days of pampering and relaxing.

Caesar’s is a fine place, a grand old warhorse of the Vegas strip. […]