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Expired Goods

Truth be told, we’re all dying.

It just happens to be that my wife has been dying faster than I have for the past several years. In some ways, after speaking with doctors and nurses in those first horribly confusing and frightening weeks, it felt like she suddenly had a “best if used by” sticker on her. And yet, Martha recently hit the five year anniversary of her melanoma diagnosis.

She’s done an excellent job taking a glance back while continuing to move forward. Here’s a tidbit from her post:

It’s been five years, seven surgeries, six biopsies, ten treatment approaches, nine chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs, tumors come and gone through treatment and surgery and two years of dealing with brain tumors and their aftermath. We’ve come a long way, baby! – M

We have come a long way. Long enough to joke that she’s «past her expiration date». Thankfully, with her incredibly fortunate access to a clinical trial (the recently approved Keytruda) a little over a year ago, things are looking really, really promising for her at this point. She’s still got tumor load, but most of it is stable or even shrinking. Most importantly, she hasn’t had any new growth in over a year — and she’s survived longer than she was supposed to.

It’s an interesting stage. There is a lot of talk in the cancer world about survivorship and dealing with life after cancer. It’s a wonderful problem to have. But the flames of cancer have left us dirty and reshaped. Rebuilding is going to be a new kind of work. It’s daunting. We don’t have a blueprint yet. We are interrupted by the work of the embers still smoldering. We are weary. We are hopeful. We have survived. Five years.

I can’t wait to do the next five years with this woman.

 

¡Mela-NO-MAS!

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The «book by it’s cover» lesson

Image courtesy of Dice Hate Me Games

Disclaimer: This is not a review of Belle of the Ball. It’s a whole-hearted recommendation that you go buy it. It’s also a small look at how putting it on my table is affecting my children’s perspective.

Back in August of last year, I backed a game on Kickstarter called Belle of the Ball [BGG]. The designer, Daniel Solis, subtitles it — “A fancy, schmancy card game.” One of the benefits of becoming a backer was that you instantly had access to a print & play version of the game. I spent some time fiddling with the PDFs, fighting with the FedEx/Kinkos website, and took a trip to their store to pick up a playable version.

I roped my family into trying it with me. At the time, I was playing with my 7-year-old daughter, 9-year-old son, and wife. While unintentional, I think the fact that my version was printed in black & white allowed me to ‘pull one over’ on my son. He didn’t really notice the feminine ‘lean’ to the game’s theme.

In Belle of the Ball, players are hosting formal parties and attempting to invite ridiculously and brilliantly named guests to their parties and match them into groups with common interests represented by icons on the Guest cards. Belle cards let you manipulate your groups, opponents’ groups, or cause some act of mischief.

The theme is really engaging and production quality is fantastic. What I like best about the game is the mini-drafting gameplay mechanic for the Guest and Belle cards. You start the game with a few Guest cards turned face down. The card backs are envelopes that you use as currency called ‘Regrets’. Paying regrets to guests you pass in the line in order to invite the one you desire feels simple and refined; fits the theme perfectly.

As I said earlier, I backed Belle of the Ball a little over a year ago. The physical version finally showed up about a week ago. The box is brightly colored and features a female character that looks like she stepped out of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. My son—now 10—resisted playing at first.

“It just doesn’t look fun, Dad. It looks like a game for girls.”

My daughter and I goaded him into playing with us. Amusingly, he didn’t recognize it until we’d each taken a few turns and the Guest drafting mechanic finally jogged his memory. He visibly let his guard down and allowed himself to have fun with it. He started announcing the guests’ names aloud as he invited them into his groups and really got into finding the perfect Belle cards for his hand. Perhaps most amazingly, despite the fact that my daughter won, he admitted he really liked the game and would play again!1

It was a perfect example for both of my kids to see that they can easily deprive themselves of a really enjoyable experience by avoiding something because of how it looks.

Thank you, Mr. Solis, for a great experience on the table!

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Scorpion Hunting

While it’s not unusual to encounter scorpions in the southwestern states, within the last two weeks, we’ve had two scorpions inside the house. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of “discovering” one with any part of your body, you’ll completely understand why I’ve started hunting – and pulverizing – them at night.

Last night only yielded one out near the AC. Tonight, I found (and expressed the full extent of my feelings toward) two glowing demons in the backyard. I went back out an hour later; found and killed three more.

 

Then, I looked up and found a couple caterpillars in the tree that fluoresce as well. Nutty nightlife in the desert!

 

I’ve been having good success locating the scorpions with a cheap black light from a local hardware store. Sadly, it’s not made very well and the light just cuts out randomly. I guess I should look at it as a feature – it makes for a nice, heart-pounding moment when one of those failures occurs right after I’ve illuminated a scorpion.

Today, I found this (Yes, that’s an Amazon affiliate link)

Let’s just say I’m looking forward to Thursday night’s hunt.

A week of hunting

Since I can’t paint scorpion silhouettes below my driver side door like a jet fighter… I’ll update this list over the next week.

  • 9/2 Dead scorpionDead scorpionDead scorpionDead scorpionDead scorpionDead scorpionDead scorpion
  • 9/3 Dead scorpionDead scorpionEscaped scorpion
  • 9/4 rain delay
  • 9/5 Dead scorpion
  • 9/6 Zero!
  • 9/7 Zero!
  • 9/8 Zero! (but crazy rain)
  • 9/9 Dead scorpionDead scorpionDead scorpion

Update 9/8

Woohoo! What a difference a week makes! Also, that black light I ordered from Amazon – so much better than what I was using. If you have a scorpion problem, go buy that light!

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Brosius

aka “Lil’ Bro”

Well… after considering it for a little more than a year, with Martha’s health at a better place than it’s been in years and seeming pretty stable, there’s one less dog at Pima Animal Care Center.

Brosius is a two-year-old Border Terrier that our family fell in love with last Saturday.

I think it took about 2 minutes to decide to adopt him. It’s been a really enjoyable several days with Lil’ Bro. He’s so calm and has been really well behaved; even plays well with other dogs!* We’re all learning a ton and it’s been really fun watching the kids interact with him.

* dogs involved are already proven to be amazing dogs. We may have cheated.

Apologies to I+M for the bombardment of questions via text message – you’ve been a huge help! Thank you so much!

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Career Day Thank You Notes

Career Day was in full swing at my children’s school yesterday. Despite having to follow a helicopter pilot in one of the rooms, I had great fun speaking in 2nd, 3rd, and 6th grade classes. We talked about what IT stands for, helping sad/stressed-out users, wet computers, loud servers and switches, designing forms, and building websites.

 

When I came home from work this evening, I found a large yellow envelope on my desk that contained letters from my daughter’s 2nd grade class. They all began…

Dear Mr. Bishop,

Thank you for teaching us technology. My favorite part was when you told us about I.T. project manager and I liked when you told us what you do. I liked when you showed us a picture of your family. We really appreciate your kindness.

From,
N.

I like your job it is cool. Thank you for teashing us! 🙂 My favorit part was when you showed us the tangled wires. You are good at your job. You are awsome.

Sincerely,
C.

Thank you fore taking your time teaching us abot technology. My favrot part was when you showed the pitcher of the cofie. I liked the time when teached us. I liked lisining to what you were saying. I really had a great time.

Your friend,
R.

Thank you for teaching us about your job. My favorite part was when you told us about I.T. It was fun learning about your job.

From,
G.

The last one in the envelope was started differently…

Dear Daddy,

Thank you for speaking to my class about your job. I love you. Do you think coding is hard? [heart drawing] html hehe! What does I.T. stand for? My favorite part was when you showed a little bit of coding. Is it ok that I call you I.T. guy? Can’t wait to see you tonight.

With lots of love I.T. guy,
Abby

[ahem] Who put this wet stuff in both of my eyes?

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Beginning The Black Axe

After picking up The Black Axe yesterday, the kids asked to start reading it together tonight in place of their normal reading session in their own beds.

Abby was so excited when I said, “Yes,” she ran and got the other two Mouse Guard books we have – just to have them near her.

I enjoy listening to my kids read. I really enjoy reading with them. And I love reading Mouse Guard books with them. When we read Mouse Guard, the kids usually select a mice or two to ‘read lines’ for. So, any time they have dialog, they’ll pipe up and read – despite difficult yet lovely lettering as well as rich vocabulary – with great enthusiasm and competence. Martha and I love to see and hear it. It feels like spectacle and probably adds a lot of wonder to what are already emotionally charged stories.

So, a heartfelt thank you, David Peterson, for amazing storytime adventures. – the Bishops

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Free Comic Book Day

We’re fortunate to live in a city where there were multiple stores participating in Free Comic Book Day yesterday. We managed to hit two – Heroes & Villains and Charlie’s Comics – before needing to grab lunch and triggering the ‘you just ate? you should nap’ sensation.

I’d read something in a local paper about needing to show up early due to lines forming outside the store… but I foolishly underestimated how large a line that’d be. We showed up about thirty minutes after the event started and found a huge line. Thankfully, we were all sunscreen’d up!

Joey made some new friends while we waited. We’ve run into stormtroopers before, but I think this may have been his first time standing next to an Imperial TIE Pilot. He was pretty jazzed about that. Forgot to ask if these folks were part of Tucson’s branch of the 501st. Unfortunately, Abby hid from me every time I tried to catch her in a photo.

The staff at Heroes & Villains prepped a few craft options for attendees. Joey and Abby skipped making superhero masks and opted for felt lightsaber hilts for otter pops. They couldn’t wait to get home and try them out.

After we left Heroes & Villains, we headed around the block to Charlie’s Comics. It’s a smaller store and had a much calmer atmosphere, but still had a lot of people inside enjoying the day. Martha even ran into an elementary school classmate who’s now a published comic book artist and was doing sketches in the store. I was too distracted by how genuine, excited, and likable Charlie was to remember to take pictures. While it’s really far away from home, I plan to make it back over there to thank him for his hospitality. If you live near his shop on the east side of town, please go keep him in business!

Hunger started to set in and I remembered that Lucky Wishbone was on the way home (sorta ;)). So we stopped in for some of Tucson’s best chicken/steak fingers and fries. It was the kids’ first time and they were in heaven.

In the end, we didn’t find some of the comics we were hoping for, but had a great time hanging out together and getting to do something we don’t normally do – come home with a big pile of new comic books!

And finally, Joey was able to ignite his Otter Pop Light Saber!

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Tucson Sky

 

Taken from the NE corner of Ina & Shannon looking southwest.

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Moments

Yesterday evening, my wife pointed out our kids quietly playing Xbox together – beautifully – on the couch.

I thought I could sneak over and grab a photo or two… turned into this goofiness.

 

I live for moments like this.

(Apologies for the tiny image… had to make it small to keep the filesize down.)

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Amazon Makes Me Smile

You shop. Amazon gives.

Sounds good to me! My family has enjoyed an Amazon Prime membership for several years now. It just seems to make a ton of sense for our needs. Although, it’s still strange that I can go to the same place to get coffee delivered on a regular schedule (Subscribe & Save FTW!), garage door opener parts, clothing, Christmas gifts, and streamed movies. Needless to say, we do a decent amount of shopping at Amazon.

This showed up in my inbox the other day:

 

After getting a few questions answered through their FAQ, it really sounds like a no-brainer. I realize that each donation Amazon contributes is only 0.5% of the purchase price of the item… but, I’d imagine the benefiting organizations will be smiling.

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at smile.amazon.com, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as Amazon.com, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.

I quickly signed up and selected the charity: water project to donate to. Feels good.