Old News

Archived news items from April 2002
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news from May 2002

Tuesday, 30 April 2002 [23:25 CDT]

Mother did not have a stroke, nor was it allergies. She has Miller Fisher syndrome, which is a variant of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. To quote my dad: "Her body is much worse, but the story is much better." She is now completely paralyzed, but her mind is perfectly clear and she's able to understand everything we say. We know this because the paralysis was gradual (if 48 hours can be considered "gradual"), and when she could still wiggle a toe for "yes" she agreed that she could still understand everything we said.

Fortunately, within a few weeks, she should start to recover. In a few months, she's likely to be completely well, with no sign she was ever sick. So it's a dark tunnel for a bit, but one we're fairly sure has light at the end.

I drove down Sunday evening and saw her then and for several visits on Monday. Now I'm back in Austin and had my first good shower in some time. I plan to drive up there as many weekends as possible until she's better.

For those interested in the nitty-gritty, in Guillain-Barré, the immune system attacks the myelin which lines the body's nerves. So (sort of like multiple sclerosis), the brain sends signals but they can't make it to the other end. Treatment involves immunoglobin and plasmapheresis, where they remove her blood (half a pint at a time, of course!), centrifuge out her plasma (containing rogue antibodies) and replace it with clean donated plasma. This takes about three hours, but is only uncomfortable if they don't use the "heater" (so the returning blood is room temperature rather than body temperature).

As a fan of vampire fiction, she thinks the plasmapheresis is pretty cool.

Continue to pray for her (that her recovery will be swift and complete) and for us (that we'll stay in good spirits). She is in the ICU at East Texas Medical Center in Tyler.

Saturday, 27 April 2002 [21:30 CDT]

When it rains, it pours.

In the last week, I've lost a roommate (to marriage; he's on his honeymoon), gained one (his name is John), spent all day cleaning up after a wedding, led worship at my church and at a land-fund banquet for a sister church, given blood, and taught a class on "How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth".

Yesterday was my mother's fifty-second birthday, and tonight she's in the hospital. My dad writes:

> Dear family,
> Brynda's in intensive care in Palestine Regional Med Center. Something,
> possibly an allergic reaction, has caused her throat and airway to become
> swollen. She can't swallow, and is breathing with some difficulty. She can
> barely speak, because her tongue feels thick and swollen. She's mentally
> normal, and can write out brief notes. They ran a CAT scan to look for a
> possible stroke, but it showed no abnormality.
> She first had feelings of something stuck in her throat late yesterday
> afternoon, and got progressively worse until she could barely speak. We
> went to the ER at 9:30pm, she was admitted to a regular room at about
> 1:30AM, and then moved to ICU at about 4:00AM.

Treatment for allergic reaction didn't work, and by about 4:30 P.M. today she couldn't even move her tongue. They've put in a breathing tube because she was having trouble getting enough oxygen on her own, and her vitals are now better because of it. They were also moving her at that time to the larger hospital in Tyler where they could do an MRI. They suspected possibly a stroke. I haven't heard anything since then.

I'm leading worship again at Lakeline tomorrow unless I hear bad news tonight, but I plan to drive up (about three hours) to see them after church.

Please pray.

Wednesday, 17 April 2002 [22:40 CDT]

I got home before daylight for a change and so was finally able to take my car door apart to fix the window, which had come out of its track and thus was stuck down. I'm getting pretty good at taking that door apart; I've done it about five times now over the years.

I was going to mention something else in this update, but I can't remember what it was. Oh, well.

Tuesday, 16 April 2002 [23:52 CDT]

It's a good day. A received my passport in the mail, nearly a month early. Now if I'd just remember to send out my support letters...

Also, I just proved to myself that I'm getting better at programming. My computer science II students are benchmarking various data structures against each other, but they can't really test the binary search tree they wrote because the recursion uses too much memory.

So I sat down yesterday to write a non-recursive version for them. I got all of it written except the remove function, which I wrote tonight. I compiled it for the first time and had one syntax error. I also had mistakenly tried to return true from a void function. In changing that I noticed (just by looking) that I'd designed the function it was in incorrectly. So I fixed it, compiled it, and everything worked the first time. That's less than one minute of debugging time for a working, non-recursive binary search tree. Dig that, folks.

(Technically I'm still using recursion in the destructor, the copy constructor, and the inorder traversal for the display. Those functions aren't called in the benchmark program they're doing, so I didn't rewrite them yet.)

And, I got my grades in on time.

Sunday, 14 April 2002 [22:57 CDT]

Friday night went quite well. We had enough coffee and sweets to handle probably two hundred people, and considerably less than that showed up. Still, the crowd was good, if not large.

Paul's set went amazingly well considering we didn't get time to practice. Just a brief partial run-through when he first arrived so I could figure out what I was going to play. He even did "No Flies" as an encore.

The worship set was also fantabulous, because we had no practice at all. But the guys paid attention and followed me well, and the crowd was very energetic and really worshipping. Which is, in fact, the goal. The band even stopped at the same time most of the time.

It was late before we got back and we slept in the next morning.

Saturday we went to the computer Good Will and Paul bought a floppy drive and some other assorted things. We ate "breakfast" at Saccone's, a good Jersey-style pizzeria nearby. And then played some Super Smash Bros. Melee, since Matt (Paul's roommate who tagged along) had brought his Game Cube.

That evening we went over to the Geisler's (a couple in the church I'm friends with and some of Paul's biggest fans) and they fed us fajitas. Wilson's a gamer as well, so we played more Smash Bros. there and Paul got to see Final Fantasy X, a game he's considered buying a PS/2 just to play.

We dropped off a large coffee maker I'd "borrowed" from the school on the way home and then picked up some Krispy Kreme donuts. Got to bed a little later than I like to on Saturday night, but the day's events were worth it.

And today, we had quite a few visitors for the second in our marriage series, which was also excellent. Paul led worship for the kids during the second service, and they enjoyed that.

After church we all went back to (Good) Willie's to look for an ATX case for my Dad, who wants to build a system out of upgraded-from parts. We didn't find one, but I did buy a 4-way KVM switch for $10. (KVM stands for keyboard, video, and mouse and lets you connect several computers up to a single monitor and control them (one at a time) with a single keyboard and mouse.) I'm not going to need the keyboard part, and it's technically not a KVM because there's no mouse port, but if it works it'll let me get this second monitor off my desk. It's connected to the little linux router that's been up for 104 days now. I only need a monitor hooked directly to it if the network connection goes down so I couldn't just ssh to it, which is what I usually do.

Spent the afternoon vacuuming (gasp!) and doing laundry.

Wednesday, 10 April 2002 [20:44 CDT]

Quote of the day: "A black lion does not a Voltron make." Damn right.

I did not hurt myself today (yet), which should please my brother, who writes, "Please don't die before Friday night!" He's coming into town again for the weekend because this time we're really having the coffee house thingy that had been planned a month ago. I'm emceeing, backing up my brother (who's doing a half-hour set), and leading worship at the end. Runs from 7-11 Friday night. The cost is $7.50 per person, which includes lots of live music, lots of coffee and other assorted beverages and desserts. Proceeds will benefit 2002 Haiti Global Outreach. Come if you're in town and available. Should be really cool. Child care is provided.

I'm pretty sure I failed to mention these at the time, but a few weeks ago I was asked by the Berton's (the family of my math tutee) to list five things that you should do once a year without fail. Each member of the family had come up with their own list, and so they were asking other friends of the family for theirs to compile one large list (which they sent out via email weeks ago). Here's my list.

Five things to do once a year without fail

School-wise (which I haven't mentioned in a while), we're almost done with the fifth six-weeks. I don't usually do a project the fifth six-weeks, so things have been less hectic than usual. They take the exam tomorrow.

Tuesday, 9 April 2002 [22:44 CDT]

I am not a coordinated man. Sunday afternoon I was slicing a bagel with a new, sharp, bagel knife and it proved to be able to slice a little cut in the middle finger of my left hand, also. It's short but was very clean and a bit deep, and blad for quite some time. I kept pressure on it, but it would easily begin bleeding even half an hour later when I stopped applying pressure. So I had to resort to a band-aid. Hopefully it won't open up again (doubtful but possible) when I try to play guitar Thursday night.

And today a student left his skateboard in my room all day. I foolishly was trying to recreate my glory days in high school, where I was (I swear) able to pull off a 540. So I was messing around with the board from time to time. I can say that I pulled off eight out of the nine 180s I tried. Unfortunately, that one miss was quite a spill: the board flew out from under me and I fell over backwards, smacking the back of my head hard on the tile floor. It didn't bleed or swell, but it did hurt like crazy. I didn't get up off the ground, just sitting there for probably five minutes. There were several students in the room (this was during lunch), so they could have fetched the nurse if anything seriously bad had occurred.

I think I also fell on my wrist, but it hurt some, too, though my head hurt bad enough that I didn't notice for several minutes. Ouch.

It turns out, as I reflect more, that my glory-days 540s were pulled off on carpet, not heavily waxed tile. Which is a huge difference.

Monday, 8 April 2002 [00:11 CDT]

Freaking daylight savings time.

In other, more positive news. I bought some more CDs today (it's really still "Sunday night" as I write this), these both off my wish list:

I remember listening to these albums with my best friend back in high school in the late eighties when Green was actually "the new R.E.M. album". Good stuff.

I had a visitor in my classes on Friday. This was a random IBM employee who's thinking about becoming a high school teacher and ran across my web page looking for computer science teachers and how they enjoyed teaching. So after emailing me for a bit, we finally got together so he could pick my brain. He also observed one of my class periods and had a chance to talk to the campus tech facilitators as well. Very illustrative for him, I think.

We kicked off a series on marriage this morning at church, and it was very good. I took good notes, which I'm still filing in the "hope I get use these someday" bin.

Tuesday, 2 April 2002 [20:57 CST]

Okay, that whole thing about dropping classes to work at Chuy's was a very subtle April Fool's gag. Here's the real scoop.

I did talk to a manager, but they don't hire any waiters that have less than 2 years experience in a high-volume establishment, and I have no experience waiting tables at all. However, if they have any openings closer to when I'd be available, I maybe could get hired as a host. Then, once they get a chance to see what sort of employee I am, I could be moved into a waitstaff position if they have an opening. So that may be the route I take. Not great news, but not bad, either.

Also, a link to my compressed audio tutorial was added to vorbis.com yesterday. So that's good. I also decided it was silly that I didn't have a reference to it on my own writings page, so I put one there, too.

Not much else to report. Easter candy is on clearance. I got me some jelly beans.

Monday, 1 April 2002 [16:45 CST]

I'm off again today, which is very nice. Got to sleep in, which turned out to be only until 8:00 A.M. or so, which bodes well for me being able to get up on time tomorrow.

I biked up to school this afternoon in the beautiful weather, but it's obvious that I'm not as good a shape as six months ago. Getting there was no problem, but getting home was fairly grueling.

I went to Chuy's again today and finally got to speak to a manager. He told me that they have an opening for a waiter but that I'd have to start fairly immediately (like in a week or so). So I'm considering trying to work evening shifts until school is out (which is only like eight weeks at this point) and then transition into a more comfortable schedule during the summer. Otherwise, I might miss the opportunity, and I'd really prefer to work at Chuy's than anywhere else.

If it looks like the late nights start to adversely affect me, I have a friend who just finished up his masters degree and teacher certification in Computer Science in December. I'm sure I could get him a job as maybe a long-term sub at Leander (especially upon my recommendation, since my opinion is fairly highly regarded). Even if he just took over the morning classes, I have Computer Science I both days, so it's not like he'd be out of his element. And with my conference second period both days, I wouldn't even have to be at school until 11:46. Being able to sleep that late could really take the edge off the late shift.

Plus, I think Cedar Park High School may be looking to hire a second computer science teacher as well, so after getting "proven" under me, he could start there next year. And for the remainder of this year, I can pretend he's a student teacher, which I think he needs to do anyway.

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