klwilliams: (Default)
I've been accepted by Clinica Ruiz in Puebla, Mexico, to enter their program to receive what's called autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant. What that means is that the treatment I'll be undergoing is the chemotherapy used for leukemia patients. What happens is that the doctors will give me something to stimulate stem cell growth, then will harvest some of my stem cells. That will be followed by ten days of chemo, which will target my blood cells, essentially killing off my immune system. Immediately following chemo my harvest stem cells will be reintroduced, thus giving me a rebooted immune system.

What this means in practice is that in three weeks I stop taking Tecfidera, my main MS drug, which has been keeping me relapse-free for four years. This drug inhibits white blood cell growth, so I need those healthy when I get my stem cells harvested. Not taking the medicine will affect my ability to walk even more, and I may even have a new relapse. I hope not. I'll be trying to stay relaxed, eat right, and exercise before I go. It also means I'll be stepping down from my board position at the American Bookbinders Museum, though I'll still be going to jury duty every Thursday.

Oh, and I'm raising money, because just the treatment alone will cost almost $60,000. My friends started a fundraiser for me, if you're interested: https://www.youcaring.com/karenwilliamsbrenchley-847292.

One thing I've learned over the years is just how awesome my friends are.
klwilliams: (Default)
This upcoming weekend in the SF Bay Area is the long-running science fiction convention BayCon. My husband Chaz Brenchley and I will be going (I'll be there as Karen Brenchley - I even have a badly-in-need-of-updating website), and I hope a lot of you can make it, too.

The overall schedule is here, and my panels are below. The panels on the singularity and on story-to-screen were my suggestions. I think they'll be a lot of fun.

Friday, 3:00 p.m.
Critique: How to Give and How to Take
Karen Brenchley discusses the ins and outs of critique from both ends. Come learn how to give effective critique and how to appropriately process and apply what you get.

Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Will [big] data cause the singularity?
More data dramatically improves the predictive power of machine learning techniques. Now computer programs have beaten humans at Go, Chess, Jeopardy, and now poker. Will the huge and growing amount of data push computers into true sentience? What would that look like?
Karen Brenchley [moderator], Prof. David McGaffey, Andrew Clark, Michael Siladi

Sunday, 4:00 p.m.
Story to Screen
Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life" was made into the movie "Arrival". Philip K. Dick has had many of his short stories made into Hollywood movies. What sff stories are ripe to be the next major sff movies?
Karen Brenchley [moderator], Bradford Lyau

Monday, 11:30 a.m.
The Eternal Importance of Research
SO, what would have happened if the Brits won the War of 1812? Well, actually - they kind of did. Research before you write alternatives to the wrong history. What's Greek Fire? Or fusion vs fission? The Schwarzschild radius? The Great Californian Mulberry Collapse? Find out before you write your foot into your mouth. Research matters - Also, someone may have thought of your idea before you.
Kathleen Bartholomew [moderator], Karen Brenchley, Bradford Lyau, Laurel Anne Hill, Gregg Castro

klwilliams: (Default)
My cat, Mac, and I have a ritual we perform. Tonight when I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth I found him waiting for me in the dark seated on the edge of the tub. Usually he just follows me in, but I guess I was late. Once I'd turned the light on and gave him proper scritches, he jumped up onto the edge of the sink and licked up some of the water already in the sink. After a bit he moved to the side so I could turn on the tap just a bit, so then he started lapping up the water as it pooled in the sink. Then he was done, so I turned off the tap and he jumped onto the toilet seat, where he waited for me to open the door. So I did, and he jumped out.

I have such odd rituals with this cat. I've never known another one like him.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I'll be at FOGcon this weekend. This is a small, regional convention, with interesting panels and interesting people. It's one of my favorite cons, and takes place in March in a very barcon-friendly hotel.

My panels are:

Saturday, 4:30 - 5:45 pm
Pitches, Presentations and Proposals: making your point without resorting to kidnapping your boss

I'm moderating, with panelists Marie Metivier-DeMasters, Alfred Nash, Loren Rhoads

Having to get a complicated point across in a brief "elevator pitch" -- or even in an actual presentation -- can be very intimidating, whether you have five minutes or fifty. The legal system and basic moral sense mean you can't really kidnap your audience for appropriate brainwashing: let's talk about tips for pitches, presentations and proposals that won't end in your humiliating arrest -- and that might get other people excited about your idea. Whether for work or passion, being effective often depends on communicating your idea compellingly. Learn the common -- and a few uncommon! -- mistakes, and how to avoid them.

Saturday, 3:00 - 4:15 pm
Reading by Chaz Brenchley, Ellen Klages, Ellen Kushner, and Karen Brenchley

Or as I call it, the Brenchley-Ellen-Ellen-Brenchley show, in which I will be very outclassed. But I'll read the beginning of my Friar Tuck story.

If you're there, look for me in the downstairs lounge area in front of the bar.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
As it turns out, those mass sexual assaults in Germany didn't happen. Trust snopes to ferret out the truth: http://www.snopes.com/2017/02/15/german-mass-assault-without-foundation/.

ETA: [Removed, because it was incorrect. Orwellian editing at work?]

ETA2: The first sentence of the article says, "German media reports of mass sexual assaults that reportedly took place on 31 December 2016 and 1 January 2017 have been withdrawn after local police discovered that the rumors were completely baseless."

The final sentences say, "The debunked German “sex mob” claim was one of many popular yet unreliable claims about refugees and crime sprees to spread throughout Europe before then appearing in American media.

In 2016, large numbers of robberies and sexual assaults were reported during New Year’s festivities throughout Germany, particularly in Cologne. Germany’s federal police found that at least 1,200 women were assaulted across the country, igniting a debate about immigration after many of the suspects were reported to be of North African origin."

This reads to me not as a negation of the first paragraph but as supporting information for what was debunked.

ETA3: A link from the BBC about 8 Iraqi men being convicted of gang rape that happened in Vienna on January 1, 2016: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39142620.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've finally figured out that Dymphna is an Eastern box turtle. Yes, I'm slow.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
So I've been trying to understand why the Trump supporters are, well, Trump supporters. My uncle Joe lives in Louisiana. He's a Vietnam vet who believes firmly in the ideals of the '40s and '50s. What I gather from that is that he believes in serving his country and protecting women and children, among other things. He's basically a nice guy, reasonably intelligent, and not a Fascist by any stretch.

I asked him to be specific about why he doesn't want Muslims in the US, and he said it's because of stories like these that he claims aren't being reported in the mainstream press. I googled on "germany islamic men rape women" and found many articles about what the wikipedia article talks about, including this from The Washington Post. Go ahead and take a look. I'll wait.

I read the San Jose Mercury News every day, cover to cover, because it's not nearly as thick as it used to be. Still, it has a decent national and international section, though the international news seems to be mostly about ISIS and the countries where they have footholds. I hadn't read anything about the rapes in Germany and Sweden. However, looking at the sites that are reporting on these rapes, I see some are from fake news sites, like this one.

So, is this really happening? It's certainly one of the fears from the grand old days of the '40s and '50s, that black men might rape white women. It might be happening. When I was in high school I was raped by an Iranian college student, who said the same kind of things to me as are reported in these internet stories, so yes, this happens. But, I don't see this happening, certainly not on this scale, in the United States. We do a much better job of vetting our refugees, and while we probably get a terrorist or two, I don't think we're importing enough for this kind of thing to happen. However, my uncle is concerned enough about this happening that he doesn't want any Muslims to enter the country at all. It's an interesting problem.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've been amazed at this year's flu season. I, who hardly ever get sick, and very very rarely sick for more than a day, had the sinus/cough flu for over two weeks in October. Many friends have had it at various strengths, and this month my jurors are getting hit pretty hard. Everyone get your flu shots, get lots of sleep, and so on. You all know the drill.

Chaz has not (so far) had this bug, at least not at a really strong level. He's had coughs, and the last week or so has had an intermittent fever. I've shamelessly taken advantage of this, I'm afraid. I ride my bike once a day. We've had a strong storm system the last week or so, and even when I ride between rainstorms my fingers still get very cold. (The weather is in the low fifties, plus whatever wind chill my trike delivers.) When I get back from my ride, I can check my husband's temperature my putting my fingers against his forehead. Ah, so warm. Usually he claims that my fingers feel nicely cool against his brow, but today he's a lot better. Oops.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I downloaded this journal, which gives cvs files will all the journal entries for a single month. Downloaded them by hand is really fast, but then I started peaking at the largest file per year. Which led me to the month [livejournal.com profile] maestrateresa died, which lead me into three years where my life changed dramatically, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Interesting reading, for me, at least.

One thing I'd like to do with my csv files it to try to do some NLP* processing on it, to see if I can figure out things like how positive/negative the entries were, and what topics I wrote about the most (probably not Chaz. no, really.), that kind of thing. If I come up with anything interesting I'll post it somewhere so other people can run it on their own journals.

I've also trimmed my journal somewhat. The people I removed were people who hadn't posted for years. If I took you off my list and you're still reading here, I'll add you back. About half of my list are still people who post regularly, most of them writers, so that's OK. I don't know how many are on dw.

*Natural Language Processing
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I wandered over to dreamwidth, where I have an account, and started adding in people that have said they are leaving. I looked at my list of accounts I follow here, and so many of them haven't had new postings in years.

I noticed something else. Some of them, like [livejournal.com profile] maestrateresa and [livejournal.com profile] jaylake and [livejournal.com profile] likesargent and [livejournal.com profile] kathlaw, will never have new postings. I don't want to leave LJ, because it will feel like finally leaving them, too.

Life goes on?
klwilliams: (Default)
I may or may not move over here. At the moment I feel like all my friends have moved away.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I've asked my neurologist what he would need to know in order to prescribe the chemo treatment for me here, rather than waiting for the Sheffield Teaching Hospital to get back to me. He'll probably say that he won't/can't do it, for FDA reasons.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
When I first met Mac and Barry, they greeted Chaz and me at his front door, their little noses sniffing at the outdoors. When they moved here with Chaz, we had discussed letting them be outdoor cats, and quickly decided against it. Mac disagreed with this choice. He would try to get outside, and on occasion succeeded, but he usually ran for the closest clump of grass and starting eating. I got him a harness, and about once a week I take him outside for a few minutes and let him explore the back yard. He seemed to enjoy this.

I went to visit my mother at the beginning of October, and when I came back home Mac had managed to lose his collar. It was no big deal, since he's an indoor cat. We finally found where it had ended up (on the floor in Chaz's study, mixed in with some other stuff), and its safety feature had worked but it was no unusable. Oh, well, we though, he's an indoor cat.

A week ago on Thursday, when we had our regular group of friends over for dinner, I didn't see Mac inside right after the gang had moved over to the clubhouse. No problem, I thought. He'd been by himself in the bedroom, so he was probably just in one of his nooks. Nope. When I went back to the house to feed the boys, there was only Barry. I called in the house, but no Mac. Chaz went out the front door and called, but I went out the back door and called. A little gray furry shape raced out of the darkness to me, and I picked him up and brought him inside. Crisis averted, I thought.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and again no Mac once everyone (only about six of us) had gone over to the clubhouse. No one saw him go out, just like last week. Still, it was soon obvious he had gone out, and he wasn't in the back yard (or at least he wasn't coming when called). We had dinner (which was astounding delicious. Chaz really has figured out American Thanksgiving dinner.), and I worried, since we were eating at 6:00 and the boys' dinnertime is 8:50. At about 7:00, though, I went outside to check, and mentioned loudly that it was treat time (Mac's cue that it's time for our outdoor time to end), and once again a gray furry shape raced out of the darkness. I picked him up, and he leaped out of my arms to get inside and have his treat.

I'm pleased that he's coming back, and that he seems to be having fun, but I really don't want him to go outside on his own. He's a smart cat, and still very agile, but he's also ten years old. We'll have a new collar soon, so his tags will jingle, and dinner guests need to wait until I've put Mac in our bedroom before they head across to the clubhouse. I want Mac to enjoy his life, but I really don't want him outside. He's been less purry to me today, and is sleeping very deeply, so I think he had an exciting time yesterday. I hope he treasures the memories, because I really don't want him to do it again. (Mac disagrees.)
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
To add injury to insult (at least for Dymphna), I kicked my turtle last night. Four times.

I might have been depressed at bedtime last night. My bedside light was on, but I stayed up killing demons on WoW for a while. I think that may have tricked Dymphna into thinking morning had come (or something. Her head is the size of a walnut. Her brain is smaller.), because when I got up to use the bathroom a couple of hours later, I kicked her side as I walked past the end of the bed in the dark. Coming back, trying to be careful, I kicked her again. This happened twice more in the night, until finally I got up again, found her by touch, and slid her *under* the bed.

Today Dymphna is walking around slowly and cautiously, as if something large may appear out of nowhere to kick her. Which is kind of how I feel today, too.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
The new "Where the Hell is Matt" video is out as of today, though since it was Kickstarter funded he renamed it "Where the Heck is Matt?" It's a lot of fun, and has some cool bits in it. San Jose didn't make the cut, so I'm just as glad I didn't go. Stanford made it, but I haven't looked at it closely to see if I know anyone. There are three shots from Cuba, which was interesting, plus some good spots chosen from places I've been (and some that I'd like to go to now). Check it out for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBJi0jZR7oQ&feature=youtu.be.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Raluca renounced her birthright as a princess in a dramatic fashion, by leaping off a balcony and shapeshifting into her dragon form, to fly off (with her dragon hoard of jewels) to a new life where she gets to call the shots. But she still has the skills, and standards, drilled into her since childhood. She loves fine clothes, fine food, and gracious manners.

Nick renounced his old gang and his life of crime while at the same time renouncing ties to his wolf pack, only to recognize that Protection, Inc., a bodyguard business made up entirely of shapeshifters and their mates, is his new pack. He still carries his rough habits form his old life: the leather jacket, the tattoos, the f-bombs.

When Raluca comes to Protection, Inc., seeking a bodyguard to keep her safe from an assassin, she meets Nick, and when the two meet each others' gaze, they realize they have met their mates. Now how can two such complete opposites, each convinced the other despises them yet also deeply in love - and lust, find a way to work together to keep the assassin at bay? So much is at stake with this one.

I love the Protection, Inc. series. What you get is what's on the cover: a love story, with lots of action, between strong and interesting characters. Each member of Protection, Inc., gets their own book, so you get a chance to find out what makes each member tick, so the background characters are just as interesting as the main ones. But the love - and lust - stories are strong, fast-paced, and involve shape shifters. What's not to love?
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I occasionally take Mac outside on a harness to explore the backyard. Since I've started doing this, he's stopped trying to get out the front door nearly as much, though stalks me whenever I near the back door. One thing he's serious about is that the back yard is HIS. The nextdoor cat, Leo, is an outside cat by day who goes inside at night. Leo wanders the neighborhood as if he owns it, and likes to roll around in the dirt in our garden. (I don't understand why cats like this, but it may be to cool off.) Once Leo was in the backyard when Chaz opened the back door, and Mac went racing out after him. He and Leo rolled around in a fight, then Leo broke away and dashed over the tall fence to the nextdoor yard, Mac hot behind him. Mac stopped on the top of the fence, though, whether because it was the border he was defending or because of the large yellow lab who lived in the yard, we don't know.
This time was different. )
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
This past weekend two of my friends were elevated to the peerage in the SCA, and I really, really wanted to be there to see it. The event was held in Arcata, CA, at a campground, which means uncertain footing that is also very difficult for a walker. I'd been all ready to go when I realized the day before that I just wasn't walking well enough. It's almost time for my every-three-months steroid infusion, which tamps down the MS, which means I'm at a low point for walking. Sigh.

Then last night Chaz and I and my good friend David (aka "aikido buddy Dave") went to see "Star Trek: Beyond". It was a lot of fun, though there were some problems once you start to think about it, so I'm not going to think about it. After the show I was very stiff, since I'd been sitting for almost three hours, and the movie ended at the time I normally take my pills. I got up and was moving slowly, but as I walked toward the main area of the theater my muscles relaxed more and more. I decided to use the restroom, and as I started across the floor towards the women's room I turned back to point to the hotdog station as the place where I'd meet them when I came out. Oops.

One thing I've noticed in the last couple of years is that if I turn my body while walking in one direction I get very dizzy. Guess what happened last night? So when I turned to point I realized I was suddenly dizzier, so I turned back towards the restroom and tried to walk in a straight line to reach a wall to grab onto. Um, no. My balance was off and my legs were stiff, so after about a step I knew I was going down, facing forward. I remember thinking that was a bad idea, when I found myself suddenly falling backwards, and landing comfortably on my rear end, with my head tucked up. I didn't consciously do anything to make that happen. David told me I still had my chops, which is good since I practiced safe falling aikido for twenty years.

In good news, though, my neurologist got back to me. He'd checked with some oncologists, and they all said that they'd never encountered anyone catching PML when using the chemotherapy I'm trying to have. So that's encouraging.
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
Since May I've had jury duty every Thursday (except for that four-week period where we didn't have to go in, after being told that having a day off was so extremely rare as to be practically unheard-of), which means that I hop on Caltrain to the city (San Francisco, in this case). The Caltrain station in San Francisco is on 4th and King streets, which is a couple of (long San Francisco) blocks from the ball park but is not close to anything else. There are very nice express buses to the Financial Area and to the Twitter headquarters, and buses to other places. There is even a Muni trolley that takes you to the BART stations. However, none of those bus, Muni, or BART lines take me close enough to the federal building for me to want to use them. (Oh, I miss the days when I could walk long distances.)

Which leaves me with a dilemma... )
klwilliams: (Karen passport photo)
I used to hang out at the Pocatello Public Library when I was a kid, because it was an entire building filled with books, and nice people who not only encouraged me to read these books, but also suggested books I might like to read. One day, when I was in the ninth grade (about age fourteen), I met Marty Welch, one of the nice people who had just started working there. Instead of working with all the books, Marty had his own room downstairs, a room filled with equipment of some sort.

What was that equipment for? )
what others remember )


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