Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dudes of Cancer: Monsieur January

Two weeks ago I asked my readers to vote on whether they wanted my Girls of Cancer Calendar to be continued in one way or another. The people have spoken with a final vote of 12-0 for the Calendar.

Without further ado, I present the 2010 Dudes of Cancer Calendar.


Marion Barry

Former four-time mayor of Washington D.C., Marion Barry has done some good as a politician. He joined the American civil rights movement, attempting to eliminate racial segregation of bus passengers. He co-founded a federally funded program to provide job training to unemployed black men. In D.C., he opened a chapter of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee where he coordinated peaceful street demonstrations as well as a boycott to protest bus fare increases. Marion Barry helped put the city's finances in order; offered legislation to produce property taxes; made the local income tax system more equitable; and cut senior citizens' taxes in half.

By many accounts, Marion helped a lot of people in D.C.

And now to the fun part. In 1990, Barry’s girlfriend helped the FBI and D.C. Police set up a sting operation to catch him possessing and using crack cocaine. The incident was shown on TV, where Barry muttered, “Bitch set me up.”

In 2006, he was sentenced to probation for failing to pay local and federal taxes. The mandatory drug testing for the hearing showed that he tested positive for cocaine and weed. According to one prosecutor, Barry had not filed his taxes in eight of the last nine years.

There were some alleged traffic violations, and then the alleged stalking of his ex-girlfriend. Marion was arrested and charged with “misdemeanor stalking.” As is often the case with Monsieur January, the charges were later dropped.

Despite his past “alleged” criminal behavior, developing cancer should never be a punishment, and fortunately Marion was successfully treated for prostate cancer at Johns Hopkins in 1995. The cancer was detected early during his annual physical exam. Heed Mayor Barry's wisdom, men.

Crack cocaine possession is unfairly punished, everybody stalks on occasion (well, at least Facebook-stalks), and with only a 1% chance of being audited for tax fraud, everybody seems to cheat on taxes, as well. Keep on keeping on, Mr. Barry.Washington, DC, Mayor Marion Barry caught smoking crack

Leia Mais…

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Last Call Shout Outs

Over the years, several people have helped edit my book. For my college graduation gift, my parents paid for the services of Kevin Quirk, a “book doctor.” Recently, Kevin came out with a book of his own about the Miracle on the Hudson. Brace for Impact can be found in the bookstore’s self-help section, but it's quite interesting and shouldn't be typecast that way.

Mary Tabor has been teaching my how to write, for free, over the past couple years. Last week she invited me to a writing workshop at her condo. I may have been the only individual (besides Mary) who has written a book, but I was by far the least experienced writer and critical reader. I commend Mary for putting up with my incompetence, and am extremely grateful for it.

Mary’s first book, The Woman Who Never Cooked, displayed her incredible writing talent. Fortunately, her second book which is being written “live” on her blog just got picked up to be published as an e-book.

And, a final shout out to myself for improving my “Links” section on the top-right panel of this blog. When working on HTML code, what should take five minutes takes me about five hours. Click around and see how bodacious those links are.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Shout Outs, Carson Daly-Style

I was diagnosed with cancer over nine years ago, when I was sixteen years old. My fellow patients and I were encouraged to share our stories, open up, and reach out to others. I may have my facts slightly off the mark since I cannot find it on any Google search. But if my memory serves me right, Steven Spielberg began an online cancer network for young patients around this time. It was meant to show them that they were not alone, and that sharing their struggle with other patients of similar age could help alleviate the pain, whatever form that may be in.

Had I created one, my username would have been, “Instead of this Crap, Start Working on a New Indiana Jones, but Nothing to do with a Crystal Skull, because that Movie would Really Suck.”

I never logged on or navigated Spielberg’s network, and I became volatile when anybody encouraged me to do so. Opening up was for girls and weaklings. I was even more passionately opposed to people who wrote books about their journeys, including the ultimate badass, Lance Armstrong, and, had I known, myself several years later.

Talking to other Cancer People wouldn’t make the chemo more potent or my cancerous cells less reproductive. It wouldn’t make my nausea retreat or Week 6 of the NFL season arrive sooner. It was a waste of time.

But sharing cancer with others did affect some people positively, though, and they weren’t always girls or weaklings—take the guy whose neck turned purple from so much radiation and who forced down food no matter how he felt. I don’t know for sure, but maybe sharing helped him feel relaxed, grateful, relieved, or happy. Perhaps those emotions indirectly lead to survival. More research to come, hopefully.

Now there are many similar networking sites where patients and survivors can connect, find useful information, or keep friends and family abreast through their cancer blogs. One such site, which just launched, sounds impressive. Navigating Cancer allows you to create a calendar of events (i.e. doctor visits or chemo days). You can post a need, like a ride to the clinic, which readers can see and assist with. You can upload important files, like insurance documents. Much like Facebook, you control your level of privacy and who is permitted to see what.

After many years of hostility, I now support sites like Navigating Cancer. It took my mom and Facebook to show me why. Facebook—with over 350 million users—is the largest social networking site. In 2007, Microsoft pegged its market value at $15 billion. According to The Economist, Facebook may eventually enter “cloud computing” and compete directly with Microsoft, Apple and Google.

My mom joined Facebook a few months ago. She posts updates, and gossips about her friends’ updates. “Why would she write down where she’s going for lunch? Why would I care?” she complained of her friend once.

“You took the time to read it, so apparently you!” I replied.

My mom started a farm in Farmville, and needed me to be her neighbor in order to grow her farm, even though by now all my crops are dead and I’ll never play Farmville again. (Unless my mom needs me to grow sweet corn or baby tomatoes that she can steal and sell as her own…does Farmville permit felonies?)

I’ve come to realize that Facebook is an amazing thing—it connects over 5% of the entire world into one single community, at no cost. Some use it for business, to create social events, or just to have fun building a farm. Hopefully Navigating Cancer and sites like it can similarly bring encouragement and a sense of community—though maybe not farming.


My friends and I made a bet ten years ago to see who could last the longest without getting a job. I came in second to Hamburgers, who got his first summer job well into college. He has also gone longer than anyone without getting a permanent job, lasting more than three years since graduating college, a feat too impressive for words. Congratulations to Hamburgers for beginning his new career this week. Good luck, pal.


I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to Hamburgers and my mom, who share January 21 as their special day. That is almost as cool as me sharing December 30 with Tiger Woods, Sandy Koufax, and LeBron James.

Leia Mais…

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Most Diverse Part of the World

I apologize for not blogging lately. Without more practice, I am afraid that my blogging skills will greatly decline and I am considering taking PEDs (Performance-Enhancing Drugs) to provide a boost. I am entering my prime blogging years, and I can’t let them be wasted because of a lack of time. Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco can probably help me out. Let’s just keep the injections away from my anus.

I have moved from Chantilly to a condo in bustling South Arlington, less than three miles from the trendy—and pricey—Ballston area, and less than two miles from Shirlington. Aside from the ruckus of moving, I have also been trying to save money and “share” internet from a non-encrypted source. However, the signal is wretched.

I then went door-to-door asking if my barely-English-speaking neighbors wanted to share the cost of wireless internet, but it turns out that’s not so easy post-college. After one woman appeared ready to report me to management, I called Comcast like I always did back in college and asked for their latest promotions. I told them I would switch to Fios if they couldn’t provide affordable service. Years back I had finagled Starz, Showtime, and HBO for negative $44. Two days ago I somehow secured internet for $7.

I am very excited to be living in Arlington. I take public transportation the entire trip to and from work. I have canceled my XM Radio subscription because my car does not move often from the parking lot. I have reduced my commute from 2:30 per day to 1:30 or less.

Everything is close and there is so much to do—Cinema N Drafthouse down the street, a Skeeball league that I joined (seriously), The Original Pancake House (best breakfast place ever), and countless ethnic eateries, including many mouthwatering “Pollo a la Brasas.”

My roommate, Millennium, and I are minorities in our building—whites may even be the third or fourth largest group. Millennium said, “This is the most diverse part of the world,” and he may have a point with some notable exceptions like New York City, Chicago, and some west coast cities.

I have learned not to drive to the gym until at least 7:30 p.m., even though it is just a few miles away. Roads like Leesburg Pike and Columbia Pike put those around Chantilly to shame (30-40 minutes to drive 3 miles, for example). I had paid for a membership to Fitness First through January, at which point I will have to make a critical decision. My condo has a small gym, but my hip is limited on the types of cardiovascular exercise it can perform, and the gym does not have an upright exercise bike. I can buy one for my apartment, purchase an outdoor bike, or become a member of the Arlington gym just down the street for under $200/year. Surely, Lance Armstrong must have a program to provide free exercise bikes to cancer survivors, right?

Millennium and I provided a mishmash of items for our apartment—two couches, a rug, and a La-Z-Boy that don’t particularly match. There is a bar and a coffee table, but no kitchen table or chairs. Our collection of dishes derives from three or four different sets. Our potential female guests will be repulsed.

Our male guests, however, will not be. Through the course of two Hanukkahs and two birthdays, my generous parents and brother have contributed to a 50” plasma television, a five-speaker surround set, a Blu-ray player that connects wirelessly to the internet and can stream Netflix movies, and an audio/video receiver that up-converts all sources to full high definition. This is not the old 32” television Mr. Mountain Dew and I used throughout college.

Finally, I will try to make this blog more interactive and current. Many people enjoyed old stories of me pooping myself, for example, but based on other popular blogs such as Dooce and redacted, it seems readers prefer to read about our current lives. Unlike archaic Major League Baseball, I will try to evolve with the times. To begin this effort I have added a poll on the right panel toward the top of this blog. Please vote (only once, please) if you get a chance.

Peace, I’m outta here!

Leia Mais…