Sentimental Value

PZ has a post about an old pocket watch that he inherited that includes:

Not particularly rare or valuable, but I didn’t expect much — it’s value is all sentimental to me.

I thought of adding a comment, but it wouldn’t have been about watches, so rather than hijack PZ’s comment thread, I decided to write a short post of my own.

Years ago, my maternal grandmother found an old sampler in a trunk; and she put it in a frame and hung it on her wall.  I was the only grandchild who stood up on a chair, pointed to each of the letters, and said, “A-B-C-D…”, so I inherited it.

About thirty years ago, I showed it to a woman (I can’t remember her name) who was the curator of fabrics at the St. Louis Art Museum.  As soon as she saw it, her face dropped.  It’s in a rather common style for the time, and it’s unfinished.

But I got her to clean it up as best she could and mount it on an acid-free backing.  That cost me way more than the object is worth by itself; but, yeah, it’s sentimental.

photo of sampler

The Next Treatment

I mentioned in a previous post that the cancer had returned and that I’d be getting yet another round of treatments.  The plan was to start four weeks of more aggressive radiation, twice a day for five days per week, and start another round of chemotherapy on radiation day 1.  That changed for some reason I don’t remember; so the current plan is to do just the chemo today, tomorrow and Wednesday, and then start the radiation and second session of three days of chemo on the 28th.

2024-05-06 13:30:

Here I sit getting my first of three days of chemotherapy.  I got started shortly after noon with some administrivia, three drugs administered from a syringe hooked up to the IV, and a bag of some drug that took about half an hour to drip.  Bag number two has started and will drip for about an hour; and then there will be maybe ten or fifteen minutes of more administrivia.  I hope to be out of here by 15:00.

Social Media and Me

I’ve never used social media*, so I’ve never been affected in any way by the problems Facebook, Xitter, etc.  Am I missing something?

I remember PZ trying to choose between Mastodon and BlueSky, and Mike the Mad Biologist recently mentioned a couple of things that he likes about BlueSky.  Should I try out one of those?  What will I be able to do that I can’t do now?

*OK, I guess blogs are a kind of social media; but aside from that…

I did create a LinkedIn account near its beginning, but I wound up never using it for anything.

Likely More Cancer

Back on the 12th of last month, as part of the study I’m in, I had a CT scan that showed what could be another bit of cancer in my lungs; and a PET scan about a week later confirmed that the lump was “hypermetabolic’.

Today, I had a bronchoscopy and a biopsy of the new lump.  Since that required general anesthesia and I have no one to drive me home and watch out for me overnight, I was admitted to the hospital for “observation”.  If my last two biopsies are any indication, nothing will be observed; and I’ll be on my way home by late morning or early afternoon.

I’m not sure when I’ll find out the results of the biopsy, but it’ll be tomorrow at the earliest, maybe not until Monday.  I have appointments with the radiation and chemo oncologists next Thursday when I’ll decide what to do.  At my age, there won’t be any thoracic surgery.

Update, Friday the 19th:  one thing I forgot to mention is that they put me in a private room, which was convenient.  Also, I brought my laptop with me along with my WiFi hotspot, so I was able to mitigate some of the boredom.

There was one interesting bit of news on NBC’s Today:  Israel, in response to the Iranian attack, refrained from cranking it up to eleven.  I was surprised by that.

Around 10:15 this morning, the doctor who had the authority to release me deigned to show up; and since, just like after the first two bronchoscopies, I had no unexpected, or even uncomfortable, symptoms; so I was out by about 10:30.  At 12:30 as I write this, I’ve returned home, unpacked, and checked my regular mail, e-mail, and the blogs I frequent; so I’m now ready to resume my normal life. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

I still haven’t seen any results from the biopsy, but I don’t really expect that until Monday.

Update, 2024-04-25:  it’s definitely small-cell cancer that has shown up again, so the chemo routine will be mostly what I had before, the same drugs that I had no horrible response to; although they won’t be able to treat the low white blood cell side effect in the same way, so I might be also taking antibiotics to help guard against infection.  The chemo doctor also mentioned the possibility of immunotherapy, but they’ll wait on that depending on how the first round of chemo goes.

I’ll be getting lots more radiation, though:  twice a day, five days per week, for three weeks, starting on the 6th, a week from Monday.  I’ll probably get the first three-day round of chemo that first week; and it’s because of the radiation happening on the same days that they won’t be able to give me the Neulasta with the drugs that goose my bone marrow to counter the white blood cell deficiency.

I’ll know more when it actually happens, but I don’t expect any of the awful side effects of chemo since I tolerated it easily the last time.  I’ll be getting lots more radiation, but still low doses.  I think I remember being told that the dose is similar to what you get with a dental x-ray.

If my reaction to the chemo is no worse than it was the last time, the worst part of the business will likely be the drive to and from the hospital twice a day for three weeks.  One way takes me about half an hour on the best days; and since they want at least six hours between the first and second radiation treatments on each day, it’ll necessarily be scheduled to put me in rush-hour traffic to the hospital in the morning and home in the afternoon.  On the three chemo days, I’ll probably just hang around at the hospital all day; I’l take my laptop with me and be happy as a clam.  I’m not sure what I’ll do the other days.

I’ll keep readers informed about what goes on.  I’m not looking for sympathy (which, as I’ve said before, I don’t deserve); but maybe some folks might like to know what they might be up against (although I’m a statistic of one, of course, so YMMV).

My Next Excuse for Riding Trains

I won’t be blogging about riding trains until November when I’ll be traveling to Wrocław, Poland to attend a meeting of the ISO C++ standards committee, but I’m starting to think about it, and I’ve worked up a possible itinerary that includes a three-day conference in Berlin the week before and a one-day conference in Wrocław afterwards.

As I’ve said before, I like to fly Icelandair across the Pond because I like to get off the plane and stretch my legs in Keflavík.  Also, because travel to these meetings is the only thing I spend my fun money on, I’m fortunate to be able to afford Icelandair’s Saga class if I don’t try to afford other stuff that I don’t really want that much anyway.  (Business class on other airlines would probably be out of my price range; and besides, I wouldn’t want to sit in an airplane long enough to get all the way to Europe in one fell swoop.)

Unfortunately, Icelandair serves Berlin only five days per week, so the eastbound trip doesn’t work well.  I’m currently thinking about going a day late and missing almost all of the first day of Meeting C++.  I could fly into Frankfurt instead and take an ICE directly from the airport to Berlin; but then I’d have to return from Frankfurt to get the round-trip air fare; and getting from Wrocław to Frankfurt by train doesn’t look easy.

Update 2024-04-20:  I think I’ve found a way to get from Wrocław to the Frankfurt airport by train, and I like that better.  The link above is to the new version.  The version flying into and out of Berlin is still available here.

Nokia will be sponsoring a one-day conference called code:dive that’s still not officially announced, so I don’t know when or where it’ll be.  My rough itinerary assumes that it’ll be in the same hotel the Monday after the ISO meeting, which could be wrong; so the westbound trip is still subject to change.

Update, 2024-04-17:  I’ve added another option for the first leg that saves a long layover in Chicago.  That train originates in Kansas City and is often delayed on the former MoPac west of St. Louis, so I’m a bit leery about counting on it:  missing the very first connection would likely destroy the whole trip.

I checked out train 318’s arrival times in Chicago and the likelihood of making my connection back to the 1st of October, and it doesn’t look too dangerous; but I’m still not sure I’d want to chance it.  (If I look only at Mondays, which is the weekday I’ll be traveling, I never miss the connection on any of the 29 days; but it’s not clear whether the weekday actually has any effect.)  I probably won’t be making any reservations until the end of July or so, so I’ll check again then.  I’ll probably just stick with the Texas Eagle in any event since that will allow checking a bag all the way to New York.  (The Missouri-Illinois corridor trains don’t have checked baggage service.)

I’ve also been told that Nokia’s code:dive conference will definitely be on Monday, November 25th, but not at the Double Tree where the WG21 meeting will be.

Time Zones in C++

I think I have my timezone class ready for prime time, so I should be just about ready to finish the larger civil time library (which I put on hold because a couple of the classes depend on timezone).

But as I write this, I remember that there’s one thing I haven’t tested yet:  the option of reading TZ and TZ_ROOT environment variables using std::getenv() before the timezone class gets used for anything.  I do that magically with some tricky code that has the odor of the poltergeist anti-pattern; so I need to create the TZ and TZ_ROOT environment variables on my Windows box and make sure that that works.  I don’t see any reason why it won’t, so I’ll say tentatively that I’m done.

Questions for Mac Users

I’ve been slow to finish testing my C++ time zone code because I’ve had other things to do; but I think I have it ready for prime time.

But now, in the spirit of the analysis paralysis anti-pattern ๐Ÿ˜Ž (I’m having fun in my retirement, don’tcha know), I’ve decided that I’d like to make it magically portable to the Mac if I can.

1.  Does the Mac have the Zoneinfo data somewhere?

2.  Do you have POSIX-style environment variables (possibly called TZ_ROOT and TZ) for
  a.  the directory where the Zoneinfo compiled binaries are found, and/or
  a.  your local time zone?

If Macs are at all Linux-like except for having the environment variables, TZ_ROOT could be /usr/share/zoneinfo”; and TZ could be localtime or, in the U.S. central time zone for example, either America/Chicago or CST6CDT,M3.2.0,M11.1.0”.

And for those doing C++ work with some version of GCC,

3.  is there some macro or other predefined identifier that says we’re compiling for a Mac rather than some other POSIX-like O/S?

I could probably go to an Apple store, fire up a Korn (or other) shell, and find out what I need for myself; but I’m hoping that there’s somebody reading this blog who already knows the answers off the top of their head.


Update:  thanks to robert79 for some good information about Macs.

It looks like they work pretty much like Linux, except that the filesystem has no symbolic link called localtime, so I still have no clue how a program can discover what the local time zone is.  There’s certainly some way to set the time zone through the UI, but I still need to find out how to discover that setting programmatically.  Maybe Google will help.

Update2:  well, that was easy.  I should have just Googled from the get-go.

It seems that, in POSIX systems generally, /etc/localtime is usually a symbolic link to the real file.  There should also be a file called /etc/timezone.

My Debian Linux box, a VPS actually, is somewhere in England; so /etc/localtime is a symlink to /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/London and /etc/timezone is a plain text file that contains just Europe/London”.

I don’t need any code changes, just some remarks in the documentation that the library will work on a Mac; and I still have to proofread that anyway.

Thanks again to robert79.

On the Cancer Front

As I’ve said before, I’m participating in a study of the effectiveness of prophylactic radiation treatments to keep small cell cancer out of the brain.  That’s currently the standard care, but it’s based on a study from back in the ’70s (IIRC) and n was small.

This study is random but not blind, so I know that I was randomized into the control group.  I’ll be getting everything except the actual radiation.

On Monday, I had some blood drawn and the nurse who runs the study at my particular hospital gave me the test of cognitive abilities that, I guess, is the one that Trump misremembered; yesterday, I had a CT scan and an MRI; and today I had follow-up appointments with the chemo and radiation oncologists.  IIRC, the current plan is to do that every three months for a year, then every six months for the second and last year.

The blood work and the MRI turned out fine (I wasn’t told whether I’m thinking straight ๐Ÿ˜Ž ), but the CT scan showed what could possibly me more cancer, this time in a lymph node.  I’ll be getting a PET scan on Monday, and then I’ll meet with the chemo doctor, and maybe the radiologist as well, on the 27th.  They might also want me to get a biopsy.  We’ll see how it goes.  I was told that, in any event, I’ll still be in the study and so still be doing my small bit to add to human knowledge.

One thing that occurs to me:  if Trump wins in November, this might be a good time to check out. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Time Zones

I’ve been debugging my timezone stuff somewhat casually, but I think I have it to the point where I’m willing to admit that I wrote it. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

This paper also references a trivial library that I’ve mentioned before.

If anybody who cares can think of any cool features that I should add, please let me know, either in the comments or in a private e-mail message.

I can now finish my larger civil time library which contains classes that are intended to be the C++ equivalents of SQL’s datetime types, which in turn will be part of a database access library.  (I’m still having fun in my retirement.)

Some Fun Time Zone Geekiness

There were a few e-mail messages on the FtB backchannel a little while ago.  An FtB blogger who lives in Ireland was wondering when the next FtB Podish-Sortacast will happen (, scroll down a bit), probably just under an hour from when I get this posted.

That got me to thinking about civil time in the Irish Republic.  It winds up that they observe the same time as Great Britain and Northern Ireland, except they get there with rather tortured reasoning.

In the U.K., they switch from “Greenwich Mean Time” (GMT, same as UTC+0) to “British Summer Time” (BST, UTC+1) on the last Sunday in March at 01:00:00 local wall clock time, and they switch back from BST to GMT on the last Sunday in November at 02:00:00 local wall clock time.

In Ireland, they switch from ”Irish Standard Time” (IST, UTC+1) to GMT on the last Sunday in November at 02:00, and they switch back from GMT to IST on the last Sunday in March at 01:00.

Yes, really. Go figure. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

The POSIX TZ environment variable for Europe/London:  GMT0BST,M3.5.0/1,M10.5.0
The POSIX TZ environment variable for Europe/Dublin:  IST-1GMT0,M10.5.0,M3.5.0/1

Why did they bother?