Friday, April 27, 2007

Monetizing My Yard

I've added a couple more photographs of the scenery & plants in my yard to the slowly growing list of those slapped on items at The latest additions are:

Apple Blossom - a close-up shot of a cluster of sunlit apple blossoms. These are from the smaller of two trees, chosen for their proximity to eye level and position in the sun. They were pretty nice looking too. (Pictured above on a mug. Also available on buttons, magnets, and a round ceramic ornament.)

Snowy Stream - a shot of the stream behind our house on a snowy day. Taken through our rear bathroom window. (Available on large & regular mugs.)

Maybe more later.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Problem With Outsourcing

How May I help You?
Exit 9:30:07 AM System
Welcome to TrendSecure Support Chat.
9:30:08 AM System
9:30:08 AM System
Please wait while we connect you to a customer service representative.
9:31:03 AM System
Thank you for waiting, a customer service representative would be with you in a short while.
9:44:19 AM System
John Kenneth Pangilinan has joined this session!
9:44:20 AM System
Connected with John Kenneth Pangilinan
9:44:26 AM John Kenneth Pangilinan
Thank you for contacting Trend Micro Chat Support. Please wait while we check your problem description.
9:44:31 AM JSI
9:46:34 AM JSI
Tough one?
9:46:34 AM John Kenneth Pangilinan
Hi john, please perform a Windows Update to resolve the issue..
9:46:59 AM JSI
Will that change how PC-Cillin launches the vulnerabiliy info pages?
9:47:04 AM John Kenneth Pangilinan
Please check now your email.. Bye and thank you.
9:47:30 AM JSI
I don't think you quite understood the question.
9:48:20 AM John Kenneth Pangilinan
PC-cillin Internet Security is currently detected a vulnerability from your Windows OS, you need to update your Windows to resolve the issue. Sorry wrong window.
9:48:30 AM JSI
When PC-Cillin lists MS vulnerabilities after a check, the user can doube-click on a listing to see a page about it.
9:49:03 AM JSI
PCC launches the page in IE regardless of what I have set as my default browser. That's the problem.
9:50:02 AM JSI
oops... "doube-click" -> "double-click"
9:51:09 AM John Kenneth Pangilinan
Ok, what risk level of that vulnerability? May I know what is the exact MS bulletin PC-cillin Internet Security detected.
9:51:44 AM JSI
It happens with all of them. It's not associated with any particular vulnerability. It's a PCC behavior.
9:53:44 AM John Kenneth Pangilinan
Does still happening in this time? Can you try to turn off PC-cillin Internet Security then check if problem still persist. Please do this: Right click on the blue pill icon near the system clock then click exit.
9:54:47 AM JSI
Ok... forget the whole vulnerability thing. The behavior I'm describing won't happen with PCC off because it's a behavior OF PCC.
9:55:30 AM JSI
Here's the question: Is there a setting in PCC to make it launch web pages in my default browser? At least non pages.
9:56:04 AM John Kenneth Pangilinan
There is no option like that sir.
9:56:08 AM JSI
9:56:14 AM System
The session has ended!Send
The session has ended!Session ID:76007 Question40

Urologist Result

I almost forgot to blog about this today.

Well, it looks like the roller-coaster has leveled off for now. According to the urologist I'm healthy. No sign of abnormality or disease, and believe me he searched every nook and cranny. He also said there's an off chance that my sperm may improve if whatever is making them abnormal - still an unknown, as is often the case with this problem - is a temporary condition. I guess we'll see if that's the case when they check it for the IVF in a couple months. I'm not holding my breath.

They're supposed to be doing a genetic screening to see if there are any known bad genes or some such thing. They plan to check the Y chromosome especially. If they do find something on that one I'm thinking I'll inquire about the possibility, and price, of selecting only female sperm to fertilize the eggs for the IVF. No sense in passing this on if it can be sidestepped. And I'm hoping a bit for a daughter anyway.

I completely forgot to mention something to the urologist when we were exploring possible causes from my history: the fact that for the past five years or so I've typically gotten only three to five hours of sleep a night, except some weekends when I may sleep in and get seven or eight. You might notice that in the times on some of these blog entries. I looked it up and did find one or two mentions of sleep deprivation and other stress reducing sperm counts, but couldn't find any numbers to see how significant the effect was. I'm now trying to shift my sleep patterns. It's not something easy to do cold turkey, but I'm trying to keep it shifting in the right direction. Hopefully that, combined with switching to boxers and taking my vitamins more regularly will improve things a little. If nothing else, maybe I'll be able to generate a few normal sperm to make the selection for ICSI more obvious.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stink Bomb!!!

Secret Headquarters is in a building shared by other operations, and the ventilation duct for the restrooms on this floor passes through our space. Unfortunately for us, there is a small leak somewhere along a length of the duct that is currently inaccessible to the maintenance person. And every so often someone lays a real stink bomb. One was laid just now. :P

Fortunately, we're expanding into another part of the floor and will soon be moving some things out of the way of a repair effort.

Monday, April 23, 2007

An Emotional Rollercoaster

A little recap to set the scene...

First we were happy to be doing something about having a baby by having an IUI. My wife responded well to the Clomid and things looked good. The next day we had fun collecting my sperm.

Then the sperm count came in, very low as I posted before. (Turns out the .3M is post-wash. Pre-wash it was .5. Still very low.) That was a blow. Our Dr. wasn't there so his partner handled us. We went ahead and injected the sperm since everything was ready, hoping for the best.

Then we figured we could probably afford at least one try at IVF, and maybe borrow from family for a second try. Things were looking a little better. The doctor called this morning to ask if his partner had gone over my numbers. My wife told him we'd seen them and she scheduled us for an initial IVF consult.

Then later this morning we got my full results faxed to us to bring for my urologist appointment tomorrow. 0% normal morphology. All my sperm are malformed. That was a heavy blow. I would have thought the doctor would have talked to my wife about that, but apparently there was confusion as to what we had seen and been told about. I called him and talked to the nurse, finally getting it through to her that we had not had a chance to ask the Dr. all our questions about the results. At that point I was feeling both sick and angry.

Then the Doctor called us back and we all go on together. It turns out that misshapen sperm can still be used with ICSI, in which a sperm cell is injected into an egg with a tiny sharp needle. The genetic material inside should be unaffected by the processes creating the misshapen sperm, although if we have a son he may have the same problem. Our chances of conception should be pretty much the same as a couple with normal sperm.

So, I'm feeling a bit more optimistic now, but I can't help wonder if the urologist is going to tell me tomorrow I have testicular cancer. :P

Saturday, April 21, 2007


Okay. I have a low sperm count. Very low. I've got an appointment with a urologist Tuesday. My count is too low to realistically hope to improve it to the point that we don't have to go for IVF, so we've started the ball rolling scheduling that. We do think it's a good idea to get me checked out to see if the count is being lowered by some condition that could do me other harm and get that fixed if needed. If they find some sort of reversible blockage and can raise my count significantly, then so much the better, but I'm not holding my breath.

I think I'm over the initial shock. The fact that we can afford at least one try at IVF ourselves and may be able to borrow from our parents for an additional try if necessary helps, since it means we're not sunk yet. It's just not going to be as easy as we'd initially hoped. I can deal with that. As I understand things the IVF is actually more of a sure thing than the IUI was, even if I had a normal count, since pretty much the only thing left to chance is the implantation, and even that is prodded along a bit to improve conditions.

With that in mind, I feel comfortable sharing a bit more about the experience yesterday. In chronological order...

When did Hustler go hardcore? In the "collection room" which was essentially a restroom with a lounge with a love seat, (that's a two-seat couch, for any readers from countries where they don't call them that,) they had a magazine bucket with several copies of Penthouse, Playboy, Hustler, Black Tail, Big Black Butts, and some biker babe magazine. We started out with my wife flipping through a Penthouse while I took matters in hand, but there were too many ads & articles about electronics & stuff, and one nasty picture of some sports player with a bloody nose, so we switched to a Hustler. That was a bit better. The girls were no prettier, but Hustler really knows how to focus on their core competency. The last time I looked at a Hustler was almost twelve years ago, just before I tossed out my porn stash in advance of my wife's first visit to New Orleans. (I figured they were obsolete then. :) ) Back then any penetration was in the ads or in the odd video review, and censored with dots and such. Now they seem to hold nothing back. I'm pretty sure I spotted a come shot on one page, though my wife flipped by pretty quick on that one. I think she got a bit absorbed in the thing because she kept lingering over the articles & ads & cartoons. I had to remind her what we were looking at it for. :) Actually, it probably helped me hold off longer and build up a bigger deposit.

Later, after we got the bad news and went ahead with the IUI I got to push the plunger to inject the sperm into her. I think that might have been a bit more fun had the count been higher, but that's how it goes. Hopefully one of those sperm will get lucky.

Later still, at Secret Headquarters, we locked the doors, turned off the light so people looking in the windows couldn't see, and supplemented the injection a bit.

Today was a bit hectic, having our nephews & niece & SIL over while our oldest nephew cut our lawn (got some pics of the stream in back - will post them later,) doing some catch-up work at Secret Headquarters, eating dinner out with my wife's parents, but I hope to do a bit more supplementing tonight. Might as well with up to four eggs in play.

Once again, wish us luck!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Dealt a blow

We're just back home from the Dr. My wife is taking a nap.

My motile sperm count came in at 0.3M. They like to see more like 20M. Very very low. We went ahead and put them in - no sense wasting the chance, however slim - but we are now looking at IVF, or possibly donor sperm. IVF looks like it would be about $10k a pop and the Dr. says they've done it with a count as low as five. That's five sperm, not five million, so my count wouldn't really be a factor. The morphology report isn't in yet, though, so we'll see. I really don't want to go the donor sperm route, but if the IVF doesn't work out that may be all that's left. Surely out of a third of a million motile sperm there should be enough to find a good one, though.

I feel absolutely sick, but I keep reminding myself this doesn't mean it's impossible - merely difficult. Wish us luck.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Back From The Dr.

We're back, after a side trip to Chili's.

My wife had four big follicles - I saw them on the ultrasound - which the Dr. says is a lot. We've read that many doctors won't do an IUI if there are more than four, so we've aced that part of the job. They gave her a trigger shot to get them poppin' and tomorrow morning I give the sperm. Then we kill a couple hours while they're washed and go back to have them injected. With a little luck, sperm will meet egg(s) and pregnancy will ensue.

Conception May Be Soon If Not Imminent

We are scheduled to go in for an ultrasound to check my wife's follicles Sunday, with an IUI presumably Monday. She's been on Clomid. This morning she got a solid line on the ovulation predictor test and called in to see if we should go in today. A nurse will be calling back.

If we go, it may be on short notice, so I may be incommunicado for a bit. We have to drive over 50 miles to the place and we've not been there yet.

Wish us luck!

Update: Appointment at 2:30 this afternoon. Leaving at 1:00 eastern. Now the heart is fluttering. :)

Cafepress is going nuts

They had an image server and its backup fail this weekend and are working to restore corrupted images. It's been a long process with no real visible progress except for them flagging the affected images for us and removing the quantity field & add to cart button from items that use them.

Now, though, things are really going nuts. If you do a search on the marketplace (my link to my stuff in my blogroll is one) and hit reload a few times you'll see a few different #s of results. It looks like they have multiple servers sharing the search load and they're out of sync. Something's definitely happening now. I hope it's just in flux as they do whatever they need to to fix everything. Then you all can buy my stuff! :)

They say this should be fixed soon, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Puppy Love

Our five-year-old nephew is in love with our 15-year-old nephew's girlfriend. He had his first soccer practice yesterday and cried & refused to play because instead of watching she was in the car with his cousin. Awwww.

Don Ho Dead At Age 76

I remember watching "The Don Ho Show" when I was a kid. It wasn't on long, but I enjoyed it and it's one of those fond little memories that bubble up (so to speak) in my mind from time to time. And yeah, I liked his appearance on The Brady Bunch.

AP story: 'Tiny Bubbles' Singer Don Ho Dies at 76

Monday, April 9, 2007

The Song In My Head Today

Just thought I'd share.

It seems to have Japanese subtitles.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Feeling A Bit More Optimistic

We went to the dermatologist today to find out what options were available. Meanwhile, she has been back on her UVB regimen and seems to be improving. The PA told us about the new drugs, giving us some information we hadn't heard elsewhere about their particular effects and which would most likely help her.

My wife is apparently feeling optimistic about it as well, because she told the PA we were actively trying to conceive, so her treatment choices would be limited by that. I felt a little bit guilty at taking personal pleasure at her saying that. I guess I still have a bit of Catholic psychic detritus to sweep up. :) Anyway, I guess my fears may have been misplaced. If it comes down to it again, though, I'd make the same choice.

She was given a cortisone injection and a prescription for a specially-mixed ointment to ease the itching, and instructions to come back in a month for a follow-up. She was also given some brochures for the new biologics. We took in the prescription to be filled, but got busy at work and entertaining my parents and never got around to picking it up. She's definitely in a stage now where it subsides and recedes, and it is a very itchy stage as those last flakes linger and irritate the hell out of her. I'm doing my best to help, slathering on one moisturizer after another in order to find the one that will do the job well enough to let her get some sleep.

And that's where things leave off for now.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Feeling a little... I don't know what.

I may have just given up my last chance to be a father.

My wife has psoriatic arthritis, and due to her recent strep throat is having the worst flare-up she's had since I've known her. Her skin hurts a lot and is very red and inflamed. She's got a UV light and is using it, along with tar treatments, but she had to skip a day while we traveled this weekend, and the flare-up is flaring up.

There are some new biologic (protein-based) drugs available that seem to be very effective, but they are expensive and they are not recommended for pregnant women unless absolutely necessary. If a woman is already on them, getting pregnant is something you simply do not do. We were planning to try IUI (intra-uterine insemination) and clomid starting this month in order to have a baby, and are currently under instructions to call in as soon as her next cycle starts to schedule the procedure for the right time. She was suffering so much tonight, though, I decided that suffering through this is too much to ask of her, so I told her we would call for an appointment with her dermatologist tomorrow. She never said a word about it affecting our baby plans. She may be too uncomfortable, and freaking out about it, right now to even think of it. I don't know. Once I got her to bed and came out here, though, I almost cried.

We have heard that pregnancy can clear it up too, though probably temporarily. Maybe if the dermatologist can give us some comparative chances of clearing for the drug vs pregnancy, and they come out about even, and what we're doing now fights it back enough for her to handle, maybe we might still try for a baby. At this point, though, I doubt it. I'm hoping for it, but I won't push it at her expense.

I'm fairly calm about it all right now, though slightly numb. If I'm actually in a bit of denial right now, though, I'm afraid of how I might feel if this does in fact turn out to be the end my chances at fatherhood. I'm pretty sure it'll hurt. Maybe a lot. I do know she's hurting now, though, and that hurts me too so one of us may as well not be hurting.