Monday, March 26, 2007

Simon Pretty

The sad story of Simon Pretty, an Englishman dying of leukemia:

Father-of-three Simon Pretty is likely to die from leukaemia within months unless he receives a transplant.

His sister Helen, 43, is a perfect match but he says she has turned down the chance to save his life. Without the donation Mr Pretty – who has a rare tissue type – could be dead by the end of the year leaving his wife Jacqueline to raise their children Rebecca, eight, Jack, six and Benjamin, three.


Helen Pretty’s Cheshire home is less than ten miles away from the British Transplantation Society which campaigns to promote organ and bone marrow donation.

Her brother claims she agreed to be a donor after he was first diagnosed with the rare cancer, acute promyelocytic leukaemia, in July 2004. He went into remission but then suffered a relapse in February by which time she had changed her mind, he says.

The pair have never been close although their children are similar ages and play together.

Mr Pretty’s wife Jacqueline said: "It is appalling that Helen can stand by and watch her brother die knowing that she could do something to help him. The past few months have been hell."

Mrs Pretty approached her sister-in-law in an attempt to change her mind but lost her temper and was eventually arrested. No charge was brought.

Jacqueline Pretty said: "She opened the front door halfway and I told her that things were desperate and the children thought their daddy was going to die. She said 'Sorry, I am not doing it'. I asked her to give me a reason and she said 'I am putting my family first'.

"I explained that there were no risks involved. I was so upset and I said, 'Don’t you care if your brother dies?' She said 'It’s very sad', and smirked."

The Pretty siblings apparently have some issues between them not mentioned in the story that have influenced his sister's decision. But do any of you have an immediate family member that you dislike so much that if you were their only hope to continue living, you would let them die?

I had two younger brothers. Both are now deceased. The middle brother was born with congenital heart problems. Were he born today, they could perform open heart surgery that would have corrected the problems he had, but those techniques were not available in the early 60's. He died at age 3.

My youngest brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 30. They could only remove 60% of the tumor through surgery. The rest was kept in remission through chemotherapy for seven years before it resumed growing with a vengeance. He died on his 39th birthday.

If I could, I would have given anything to give my younger brothers a chance at a longer life. I can't understand people like Helen Pretty.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Hello again

The lost season appears to be over. It's been busy here lately, with computer repairs, doctors' visits, and entertaining out-of-town guests.

The computer doctor removed the blown security program that was blocking everything and installed a brand spankin' new Norton antivirus program. He left me with a stern warning, "Don't download any more of that free BellSouth crap" and relieved me of $120. Wish I knew how to do some of that stuff myself...

Mrs. S.' primary doctor also felt that she had an episode of chest wall inflammation, but scheduled her for a stress test in order not to take any chances. We have once again become concerned with breast cancer issues, though. A recent ultrasound revealed some irregularities. Her surgeon biopsied two suspicious spots; he found a spot on the left breast to be precancerous and one on the right that had necrotic tissue. She has surgery scheduled for April 6 to remove the offending masses.

One of our oldest, best friends came down from Chicago for St. Pats. We had a great time downing considerable amounts of Guinness and Gentleman Jack. (None of us are big on Irish whiskey.) We watched plenty of basketball as well. There were some great games over the weekend - Vanderbilt's double overtime win over Washington State, Tennessee holding off Virginia, Pittsburgh's comeback against Virginia Commonwealth. The best game of the weekend, though, was in the women's tournament, where the scrappy Marist Red Foxes upset a taller, more physical Ohio State squad. Marist then picked apart Middle Tennessee to become this year's Cinderella story. They face the Tennessee Lady Vols next; should they pull off a miracle against Pat Summitt's juggernaut, it could be the best thing to happen to women's hoops in years.

Being computerless for a week gave me more time for book-reading. I picked up a copy of Friedrich Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra in a thrift shop for 50 cents recently, so I've been spending my time in doctors' waiting rooms reviewing the Superman and other things I half-learned in my undergraduate years.

It may still be a few days before returning to what passes for normal around The Hill. One of Mrs. S.' cousins and her husband are visiting this weekend. They're good people; they just get loud and obnoxious and they tend to get on my nerves. In the meantime, I plan to get around the neighborhood and see what the rest of you fine folk are up to.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Mrs. S. is doing better. She's been taking it easy since her trip to the emergency room. I don't want her doing anything too strenuous, but she's been more active the last few days. She's getting restless to get out in the yard because we've had nice weather the last several days, with the temperature up in the 70's Thursday and Friday. This makes more work for me, but I admit I need the exercise.

A friend of mine said he knew somebody who would look at my computer. As is often the case with friend-of-a-friend deals, the guy never called me back. I'm going to end up taking the thing back to where I bought it, a computer shop in downtown Nashville. They do good work, although they're a tad expensive. It's also a pain in the ass to drive all the way downtown on my days off.


Brad Delp, lead singer of Boston, passed away Friday. Obituary from the Boston Globe. Admit it, if you're around my age, you've got a Boston album or two around the house somewhere. Although Tom Scholz's guitar wizardry and production technique defined the band's sound, Delp's vocals were a fine compliment to Scholz's soaring guitar lines. Delp's vocal talents come to the fore on "A Man I'll Never Be". Apologies for the relatively poor quality; there's not that much Boston video available on the nets.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Some things for you to check out

While the work crew is hammering, sawing, and kicking up dust around The Hill, here's some stuff to keep you occupied until things get back to normal:

Thomas Eagleton, former US Senator from Missouri, stalwart liberal, and George McGovern's first choice for his running mate on the 1972 Democratic Presidential ticket, passed away on Sunday. Strannix does a fine job of eulogizing the man at Welcome To The Revolution. In addition to running the best blog in Springfield, Missouri, Strannix is a fellow traveler at Watching Those We Chose.

Our good friend Christie Fermicat clues us in on 83-year-old former Canadian Defense Minister Paul Hellyer's demand that governments throughout the world disclose what they know about space alien technologies in order to solve the energy crisis. Hellyer served under Prime Minister Lester Pearson, still one of Canada's best-respected political figures, and his word carried some weight up there - at least until Hellyer claimed he spotted a UFO in 2005. Head over to Cosmic Cat and show Fermi some love.

Kevin Drum hardly needs my help, but for those of you interested in the labor movement, he's had some good discussion this weekend. Check out Harshing On Unions, Brave New World, and More On Unions.

Of course, there's also music. Ben Harper is a top-notch songwriter, ace guitarist, and a long-time Hill favorite. If "Better Way" didn't make it onto your radio last year, be sure to check out the clip. This song is damn near inspirational.

The classic Edgar Winter instrumental "Frankenstein" has been lodged in my head all weekend - you know how that works. I remember a wild performance of that song from The Midnight Special (or maybe Don Kirshner's Rock Concert - the memory gets a little fuzzy these days). This clip isn't from that performance, but is from around the same time and features the Edgar Winter Group's manic energy. The sharp-eyed among you may notice Rick Derringer on guitar. A co-worker of mine raves about this clip of Derringer's "Easy Action". I've never been crazy about the song, but here Derringer gives a trademark performance on lead guitar that was always the highlight of his live shows.

Mrs. S. and I thank you for your concern and your kind words.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Technical difficulties... please stand by

I knew that sucker'd come in handy someday...

It's been a rough week here on the Hill; that's why you haven't heard from me lately.

Monday evening, I was making dinner while Mrs. S. laid down for a nap. She woke up screaming for me to call an ambulance. She was feeling severe pain in her chest running down through her left arm, and feeling pressure on her chest like nothing she had ever had before. They gave her nitro in the ambulance and had her chew asprins. They ran an EKG and did blood work at the hospital, but the emergency room doctor was of little help. He diagnosed an "inflamed chest wall" and sent us home with a prescription. We are now awaiting an appointment with a cardiologist in order to find out whether or not Mrs. S. has heart problems.

The next day something or other wiped out the security settings on my hard drive, and I can't reset them. This means, among other things, that I can't log in to Blogger from home, use Firefox, or access most things that require a password. The computer acts as if it is searching for the missing security application, but I can't reinstall it because I can't access the site to do it from. After fooling with it for about three hours, I gave up; a professional is going to have to fix it. This may not happen for another week or two as a sick spouse takes precedence over a sick hard drive.

For the time being I'm going to try to keep things going from work. I don't like blogging from work, since with work activities going on I can't concentrate on writing decent posts. If we're not too busy here I'll throw something up in the next couple of days to keep things going.

Just thought I'd let everybody know what's going on.