Dave (Personal)

  • How not to save money at work

    Early in my working life, I saw that “traditional” approaches to cutting costs usually didn’t work. My micro-level experiences may be valid at a macro level. One cost-cutting story comes from my time as a temp, at a cheap (and I don’t mean frugal) outfit that made huge sums in investment banking. The bankers usually got high salaries, with bonuses in seven digits, but they were ill-tempered and always conscious of the costs of their temps. The going rate for skilled Manhattan computer jockeys was around $16-$22 per hour, if you could type at least 80 words per minute with minimal errors, and be skilled at Word for DOS, which everyone seemed to use though Windows had been out for a long time and our printers were…

  • Getting to keep my memory

    I returned from Memorial Sloan Kettering (yes, it’s named after two GM leaders) with good news: I can stay off the chemo unless I get bad scans or blood tests. There’s no sign of cancer returning. I also signed up for another research project, but that doesn’t really require much from me other than some blood, and I give that to so many people that when I see a stranger with a needle, I start rolling up my sleeve (oops, wait, I’m getting my memory confused with Keith Richards’). The bad news is that I need to get scans nearly twice as often, and I’m back on MRIs, rather than time-and-money saving CAT scans. Oh, and blood tests twice as often….

  • Reducing anxiety, my way
    dave with another Valiant

    I’ve always had issues with anxiety, but it seems to me that I don’t have much reason to be stressed out these days — not rational reasons, at least. I have reasons to be anxious and reasons not to be, but rationally, it’s internal — it’s the way I’m wired. There are ways to get around it. Pill-pushers (as some annoyed psychologists refer to psychiatrists) can prescribe all the generic Xanax you want, but I haven’t run my life with pills, and don’t intend to start now. Cognitive psychology, while slow, works wonders. When you find yourself on the train of anxiety provoking thoughts, distract yourself. Learn to detect and then deflect it. Freudians may think that’s bad because you’re shoving it…

  • Quick cancer update

    Today I left home at 9:30 am, returning at 2 pm, to see an oncologist who is more of an expert on my particular weird kind of cancer than most. She will be consulting with someone from Sloan-Kettering (a decidedly GM-funded institute), but so far it appears that I might be able to cut back on my once-dirt-cheap, now exceedingly-expensive “performance dis-enhancing” drugs. We can only hope… At the last, I’d like to take less of them. Side effects are memory loss, lack of focus, diarrhea, hot flashes, fatigue, and some other things I can’t remember because of the memory loss, and I seem to have struck every single side effect on the list. Also, did I mention that, since Bristol-Myers Squibb…

  • $530 for people, $15 for dogs

    On September 1, my insurance company chose to re-organize… everything. With no warning, they changed all account numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and billing practices. Suddenly payments were due that had been thought paid. They did not wait until January 1, when everyone’s plan changes anyway, but launched on September 1, sending out new cards to everyone, new explanation letters (in separate envelopes), new bills (in yet more envelopes), and new followup bills (in yet more separate envelopes.) Oh, and the new billing system doesn’t show your balance. Thanks, guys. At the same time, they apparently set up a new rule that cancer drugs have to go through a company with “convenient locations in ten states” (locations not listed on their web site,…

  • Cancer: the good times

    One of the odd things about some bad experiences is that they do have highlights, and sometimes, as the comedian says, “You just have to laugh.” The first cancer was the most painful, post-surgery. It was weeks before I could move without severe pain. Getting to the bathroom meant taking painkillers, then getting help to leave the bed. (Oddly, this is the only one where they let me go right home from the hospital.) My religious institution had scheduled “learning services”  on my birthday. I was looking forward to it.  I made darned sure I was going to that service though it hurt. When the day came, I got out of the house. It hurt like hell, but I got out and I went….

  • I’m not fighting cancer

    I’m not fighting cancer. I’ve had adrenal cancer twice and another cancer once.  My role in treating this has been lying down and letting surgeons cut things out of me, and lying down on a million-dollar radiation machine once a weekday for a month. The bed was too short for me by a few inches and the first few times I sat up, the headrest rattled onto the floor. Everyone who worked there was much shorter than me and said I was simply way too tall. (I am around one inch taller than average.) I can’t tell you how funny that became after a while. Radiation affects your mind, I think. (Also, I still blame it for my poor vision, which was perfect…

  • Overcoming my anonymity

    If you’ve perused Allpar for any length of time, you may have noticed that I rarely give myself a byline or photo credit. That’s partly a reaction to my own excesses of the past. I created two college newspapers, one at Rutgers, replacing a newsletter that had been mailed first-class to our mostly adult students and yet was, according to a survey, still unknown by many people; and one in grad school, possibly the first that school ever had. I’m not proud now of the quality of my editing then. One error in both cases was putting myself onto the front page during dull news times. At Allpar, which I essentially started in 1994 (the name came four years later), I deliberately pushed…

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