April 16, 2010

It's been over a year since I updated my blog.

Seriously. My last post was on March 19th, 2009. Carry on. Nothing to see here.

March 19, 2009

My love affair with Apple is back on!

Last Thursday, I wrote that MobileMe deleted all of my data when my account expired because I hadn't updated the credit-card information in my account. When I had contacted MobileMe support I was told that my data was gone forever and there was no way to restore it. I was quite distraught.

Well, I have good news to report! On Tuesday, Mike from MobileMe Support called me to say that they had been made aware that I was less than pleased to find all my data gone when I tried to renew my MobileMe subscription. He said that MobileMe engineers would be able to recover my data and that they would set me up with a temporary three day account so I could download and backup the data myself. Much relieved, I told Mike to go ahead and bill me for the full subscription. That's right, I'm a paying MobileMe customer once again.

After going through some account verification protocols for Mike to confirm that I was really the owner of the account, he had the MobileMe engineers begin restoring my data from "the vault." After the initial phone conversation, Mike and I coordinated the rest of my account restore over email. In the final email Mike made sure to remind me that "... this recovery was an exception to the MobileMe Terms of Service, which advise that MobileMe members are responsible for backing up their own data. Apple will not be able to offer future exceptions of this nature... To prevent data loss in the future, we strongly suggest that you back up your iDisk files regularly to your Mac, a flash drive, or other storage device. The more backups you have, the more protected you are. I urge you to back up this data right away." Needless to say I'm backing up my iDisk to my MacbookPro right now with rsync.

I'm very lucky this all has a happy ending. This situation isn't really unique to MobileMe and I can't blame them. They were, after all, simply following the ToS that I agreed to (but of course didn't read) when I signed-up seven years ago. Let this be a lesson to everyone to never keep only one copy of your data no matter how much you might trust that one copy--nobody's perfect. Hopefully my initial overblown reaction to this doesn't damage MobileMe or Apple's reputation in anyway. Of course without my overblown reaction I probably wouldn't have gotten my data back. ;-)

March 12, 2009

Apple, you've broken my heart. :`(

So I had been using Apple's iDisk service since back when it was the free iTools incarnation. When they switched it to .Mac back in 2002 and started charging for the service, I was happy to give them my credit card number to continue using the service. I have been a paying customer for nearly 7 years now. Well the credit card number I had given them expired, as they are apt to do after 7 years. I didn't realize this happened since I had long since switched to gmail as my primary email account. I have all my various email accounts funneling into my gmail account so I never noticed that I stopped getting my @mac.com email. Well today I realized my (now MobileMe) subscription had lapsed when I tried to access my iDisk and it wouldn't mount. Apparently this is the first time I've tried to access it in a couple months. When I logged into me.com it gave me an account "reactivation" page. So I dutifully filled my new credit card number and info. With my account reactivated--woohoo--I mounted my iDisk and then to my absolute horror found it completely empty. SEVEN YEARS OF DATA GONE!!!! That data on my iDisk pretty much only existed on my iDisk. Foolish me, I trusted Apple with the data I didn't trust my own harddrives to keep safe. After spending 20 minutes trying to figure out how to contact MobileMe support I finally found the "webchat with a support representative." Adrian (my support rep) chatted me that since my account was inactive for 30 days everything was deleted from their servers with no means whatsoever to restore it. No backups--nothing they can do. I'm SOL. Yes, thats SEVEN YEARS OF DATA GONE after only 30 days!! I paid them $99 a year for seven years, and because I didn't pay attention for just 30 days, they murdered all of my data. I wish Apple would have paid me a fraction of the loyalty I have paid them all these years. Apparently 3 iPods, 1 iPhone, 7 powerbooks/macbook pros (plus one more for my girlfriend's mother), 4 paid OS X upgrades, a handful of iPhone apps, and dozens of songs on the iTunes Music Store weren't good enough.

Upon searching my gmail inbox of 539 unread emails, I discovered that Apple did send me two emails letting me know that my credit card info was invalid. They contained the phrases "Please update your credit card information in your MobileMe Account to avoid interruption of service." and "If your account cannot be renewed, your access will be restricted to email only and will be turned off completely 15 days after expiration." I never would have equated "interruption of service" or "access will be restricted" to ZOMG ALL YER DATAS WILL BE GONE FOREVARZ!!!!!!!! I seriously can't believe it's gone. Even Blizzard doesn't delete your World of Warcraft characters when you cancel your subscription. Why? Because they know you'd never come back if they did. Needless to say I have canceled my newly reactivated account and will watch carefully to make sure they refund my money, or I guarantee you I will be calling Visa to block the charge.

September 22, 2008

This is the Year!

Update: Well since the MLB hates it's fans, they decided to remove the Cubs tribute video I had uploaded to YouTube for "copyright infringement." God damnit they suck.

Kate and I went camping this week in Wisconsin with some friends and missed most of the Cubs' central division clincher on Saturday. I did manage to pick up a staticy WGN, just in time to hear the last couple innings. But we were back in town on Sunday to be able to watch the second half of the last regular season home game. I don't care for the song choice, but I did otherwise love the tribute video that WGN did after the game. My second time through, I definitely started to tear up. This is a great time to be Cubs fan. I'm very proud of this team. This is such a better team than 2003 or even last year. Every player on the team has done superb. Every game, it seems like someone different is coming up with that clutch play that wins the game. It's not like the old days of relying on Sammy Sosa's homeruns to win games. Every player through out the entire lineup contributes, and it's a pure joy to watch them manufacture runs. I love the clip of Ted Lilly taking out Yadier Molina at home. Awesome!

May 01, 2008

Twitter Annoys Me

Penny Arcade does Twitter
Penny Arcade vs Twitter

This comic by Penny Arcade and the accompanying article pretty much sum up my feelings about Twitter. It is just too much information. The signal-to-noise ratio is just far to low for me to stand it. The frequency that people generaly update their status line in Facebook is just about right for me. Once every few days is often enough. Of course that is completely thrown off when people forward their twitter updates to their Facebook status line. It bothers me so. You people know who you are. Just stop it. If I wanted to know what flavor of jelly you are putting on your toast for breakfast, then I would subscribe to your Twitter stream. But I don't, so please don't make me.

April 28, 2008

Music News

Saves The Day, House of Blues, Chicago, April 25, 2008

I saw Saves The Day last Friday at House of Blues. They played many of my favorite songs. The setlist could easily be made into a best-of CD. It's also worthwhile to mention that I have set the goal to never see the band Set Your Goals ever again. They sucked royally.

This weekend I finally finished Run to the Hills on hard drums in Rock Band. This took me at least a couple weeks to finally pull off. I'm not especially proud of my accomplishment though. The problem with that song is that it feels less like I'm playing music and more like I'm just trying to figure out the minimum sequence of drum hits I need to make in order to avoid failing. I am glad it's over and I plan to never play that song again until I have to similarly beat it on expert. Afterwards, I then quickly beat Won't Get Fooled Again with four stars on the first try (which is awesome to play on drums) and completed the hard solo tour. Woohoo!

Run to the Hills, Hard Drums, Two Stars

December 16, 2007

Services for Mom

The wake for Mom will be from 3 - 9 pm on Monday, December 17, at Steuerle Funeral Home, located at 350 S. Ardmore Ave., Villa Park, IL 60181. There will be a short prayer service at about 7:30 pm during the wake.

In lieu of flowers please feel welcome to make a charitable donation to any of three charities: St. Alexander Parish Building for Tomorrow; Wellness House of Hinsdale, IL; or Colon Cancer Research. Building for Tomorrow is the Gathering Space building project for my mother's parish. The parish now owes approximately $700,000, and this is the first time the parish has had any debt. Building the Gathering Space and the church refurbishment have been very important to my parents. Wellness House, located in Hinsdale, IL is a large charitable cancer support organization and was very important to my mom during her cancer treatment. Colon Cancer Research is very important to my family for obvious reason.

There will be a small viewing in the St. Alexander Parish Gathering Space prior to the funeral mass from 9 - 10 am on Tuesday, December 18, 300 S. Cornell, Villa Park, IL 60181. The mass will begin at 10 am and last approximately one hour. Cemetery services will be at the Abraham Lincoln Veterans Cemetery near Joliet, IL at 2 pm. From Villa Park to the cemetery, the travel time is approximately 1 - 1 hour, 10 minutes. We will then return to the Villa Park area for a meal at Villa Nova Restaurant around 4 pm.

Mom, Riley, & Grace, April 2006

December 13, 2007

Olivia Natalie Baker

July 28, 1944 - December 13, 2007

Mom & Dad, Waimea Canyon, Kauai, March 2007

December 12, 2007

My Parents

My parents have been married 42 years and six months, today.

Christmas, 2004

December 11, 2007

I love you Mommy, Part 6

When I was a kid growing up, I remember watching TV and, from time to time, on a show someone would be rushed to the ER and their husband or parent would spend the night in the hospital room with them. They would always seem so heroic, having to spend the night in some uncomfortable chair and in the morning everything always turned out alright. As a kid, I wondered when that would happen to me. When would I spend the night in the hospital at a loved one's side? When would I get the chance to be the hero, so everything would be all better the next day? Well last night I got that chance. Only not everything is alright and I certainly don't feel like a hero.

I haven't written about my mom in over a year. Since that time I've taken two vacations with her. The first was to Kauai in March. That was the trip of a life-time and I'm so glad I took it with my mom and dad, and with Kate. The second trip was to Pentwater, MI in June.

Growing up, my family took a vacation to Pentwater every summer in our crank-up pop-up camper. I loved camping with my family when I was kid. It was my favorite week of the year--every year. The last year we went was the summer before I started high school. That is, until the summer of 2006, when the whole family returned, only this time we added my brother-in-law Chris, sister-in-law Jenny, and my four nieces. And we stayed in a cottage instead of a pop-up camper. We went back again this June as well. Both trips to Pentwater were greatly enjoyed by everyone in my family.

Since the last time I wrote, my mom has also had twenty-six chemotherapy treatments--every other Friday for a year. During all this time she has continued to work, sing at mass, and participate in many of her volunteer activities. And even though she had each chemo treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, just a few minutes away from my office, I never once visited her while she received them. Every time I was just "too busy" and said I would go next time. The first weekend of November, my family got together at Elmhurst Public House. My dad told me Mom would really like to see me there... but I blew it off. I had just seen everyone the weekend before to celebrate my dad's, grandpa's, and niece Caitlin's birthdays all at once, so I thought that was good enough. I decided it was more important that I go through the process of upgrading my hacked/unlocked iPhone to the 1.1.1 firmware. And I promised myself I was going to finally visit my mom when she had her chemo the following Friday. But of course history always repeats. That Friday, Google hosted Lunch 2.0 and I choose that over visiting my mother again. I told myself I would really really really go to the next one. Well that Friday may very well have been my last chance.

On Friday, November 16th my mom had a very bad pain in her back and my dad drove her to NWM ER that night. Kate and I met my parents at the ER when they arrived. Turns out the pain was caused by blood clots in her lungs. She was very lucky that it did not cause a pulmonary embolism. The doctors admitted her and started her on a prescription of Lovenox. She was released on Monday, the 19th.

My family had a great Thanksgiving. Combined with Kate's family get together before that, I ate so much food I'm lucky I didn't burst. Everyone was happy and thankful to be together.

Monday, November 26, kicked off a series of doctors appointments for my mother. That monday started for my parents at 4:15 am when they woke up to get ready to travel from the west suburbs to downtown. After a CT scan and other tests and meetings with doctors, they were back home after 4:30 pm. It was a very long day and she was very tired. While the CT scan showed no change in the liver tumors, the oncologist thought her chemo regimen had about run its course and we should make a change in treatment. My mom had developed a large amount of fluid in her belly, which the doctor was concerned with. On Thursday, November 29, she had the fluid drained from her stomach. Two and a half liters of fluid were drained before my parents headed back home. It was a very difficult day. On Monday, December 3, a stent was put in the main blood vessel of her liver, which was greatly constricted by the tumor. Again, a very difficult day. By the time my parents got home, she was totally exhausted. The doctor told us that she would have a couple of days of discomfort, but by Thursday she should begin to feel better.

It didn't turn out that way though. She felt worse and worse as the week progressed. She was in such pain that my dad called her oncologist at 3:30 am (waking her out of bed) on Friday morning. She told my dad to take her to the ER now. Mom refused to go, telling my dad she would be okay. As Friday progressed my dad decided that she was going to go whether she wanted to or not. Reinforcements came in the form of my sister Debbie and her husband Chris. They convinced Mom that she needed to go to the ER. So back we went to NWM's ER on Friday night. I once again had Kate in-tow for another hot date sitting in the waiting room. In the ER, Mom had more xrays and another CT scan. We even recognized some of the nurses from the 3 weeks ago stay which is not a good sign that you remember those people. She was admitted into the Prentice wing at about 4 am Saturday morning.

What I've left out from above is that my mom has barely eaten much of anything since her trip to the hospital three weeks ago for the blood clots. We understood that she might not have much of an appetite, especially with all the fluid build up pressing on her stomach. But my mom never told any of us that it was physically painful for her to eat. We didn't find that out until she told the doctors when we got to her room in Prentice that night. Not wanting to be a burden or to make us worry, she never told us how bad it was.

My mom's blood clots are the likely chain reaction that started all her recent troubles. The blood clots stopped blood flow to a section of her lungs and destroyed the tissue there. The dead tissue is now infected and has caused pneumonia. This is likely the main source of her worst pain, but it doesn't stop there. She also has two hernias. One is about the size of a softball and the other the size of a golf ball. She is far too weak for surgery to fix the hernias.

Last night, my dad, Debbie, Kevin, and I had a long appointment with the oncologist, Dr. Mary Mulcahy, in Mom's room so she could listen. This was an absolutely amazing visit with her doctor and she showed us things none of us had seen before about my mom's case. She was able to pull up all of my mom's CT scans. Dr. Mulcahy stepped us through the last two years of CT scans showing us the progression of the tumors in my mom's liver. She showed us charts of my mom's test readings over time and showed us how one particular reading has jumped up considerably over the past few weeks. That combined with my mom's symptoms are a sign of liver failure caused by bile not being allowed to drain from her liver. The readings should be accompanied by dilated bile ducts in her CT scans though, and that is not the case. Dr. Mulcahy is going to consult a liver specialist because at the moment she is stumped.

This leads me to last night. I just couldn't leave my mom alone last night. She is so out of it from the pain medications that there is no way she would be able to hit the nurse call button if she woke up in the middle of the night and needed something. So I finally got to spend the night at a hospital. It was the worst night of my life. After my brother left at 11:30 pm, I laid down on the couch to try and get some sleep. Unfortunately, every five to ten minutes my mother would moan that she was in pain. "Oh it hurts," or "would you help me, please?" were the phrases I heard repeatedly. When I would ask her what she needed me to do, she would only answer "I don't know, just help me please." I've never felt so useless. I definitely did not feel like the heros I saw on TV.

At 3 am, the nurses came in to give her more pain meds and check her vitals. They also shifted her into a new position in the bed. When they left, I laid down again. A moment later my mom was moaning and asking for more help. She was all hunched over on the side of the bed so I straightened her up and stuck a pillow between her and the railing. I asked if that was better but only got an "I don't know" response. I turned my back to grab another pillow and before I turned around again, I heard my mom's unmistakable snore. I immediately knew things were better. I left the pillow where I grabbed it and laid back down on the couch. It was 3:10am. I fell asleep to the soothing sounds of my mom's snores and didn't wake up until 5am when the nurses came in to check on things and give her more pain medication. Back to sleep I went and things went just as well as the two hours before.

At 7:30, I woke to my mom moaning that she hurt. I called the nurse. At 8 am she finally got her pain meds, a full three hours since her last. God love small victories. The rest of the morning has been fairly peaceful. I woke her up to feed her two pieces of a hard-boiled egg (which she hated) and half of a cup of orange juice. She hasn't complained of much pain but she has been extremely out of it and sleeping virtually the entire time. I hate to see her like this. I don't know what is better, hearing her complain about the pain, or seeing her so sedated that I can't have any kind of a conversation with her.

There is plenty more to this story but it's late Tuesday night and I need to get some rest. At the moment I don't know what else to say other than these two words: cancer sucks.


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