June 11th, 2014

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HBO 7 -- Avatar -- Bicentennial Man

Seventh session: Avatar (conclusion)
Unlike a tape, a DVD has to be sent to the right place to resume, when you're using a machine amongst multiple users. On the other hand the video quality is far, far better. How is a mother to choose?

So... we ended yesterday with the dastardly mercenaries of the dastardly evil company firing incendiaries into Hometree under the orders of the dastardly evil weasel of a dastardly evil company man.™ Something like Cameron's Titanic, the first half is something of a romantic adventure -- the second is a action movie. The Abyss is similar. And you wonder why James Cameron is a rich sonofabitch whose films are popular across many demographics.

The first two times I saw Avatar, the wonder was the immersive 3D vision. With that missing, the eyerolling dialogue and stereotyping of the noble savages screams much louder. Still, even with its flaws, Avatar is impressive and relatively satisfying. There are supposed to be two sequels. I have no doubt Cameron will have his amazing trilogy. Maybe he'll get some scriptwriting assistance... nah.

Bicentennial Man
Am I the only person who liked this when the Robin Williams movie came out? Because I know a lot of people who loathe it. Partway through, it's a bit of a clunker in spots, which are unfortunately more jarring due to the better parts. It could've been a sweet comedy, but mixing in more slapstick humor is painful. I didn't remember Sam Neill's performance being so... shallow. It's almost a cartoon character -- and Robin Williams is the android!

The opening credits are neat, a stylized subset of a robot assembly line. The James Horner score from 1999 has elements similar to his score for A Beautiful Mind (2001). We joke that John Williams steals themes from all over -- Horner steals from himself. (grin)

We never exactly figure out what Neill does to rake in enough money to own a robot. We don't learn a helluva lot about this world and how it works. I'm sure I read the Asimov novel this is based on, but I was a kid and I really don't remember much about it. Still, I find Williams more believable here than as Mrs. Doubtfire.

We end after the wedding of Little Miss. Tomorrow we move on to the next generations and watch our hero progress in his Pinnochio quest to become a real little boy. A dream he'll do a better job of than in Spielberg's A.I., which actually comes first alphabetically, but I saw most of it recently, so I'm putting it off for a while. There are still a lot is sessions left.

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Overcast today, rain tonight, tomorrow, Thursday. Been home and doing at home IVs for a whole week. Fortunately the IV company delivered the next week's supplies, so the great science project can continue.

Meanwhile, I was wheeled out the back door of the hyperbaric oxygen chamber lab today and discovered that across the hall was a handicapped bathroom. It's just about four hours door-to-door for this operation, which makes it a bit tough for someone on Lasix and pushing fluids. We have a new procedure now. (executive-decision-grin)

Dr. Phil
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The Promise

Some eight years ago, a group of anonymous donors -- rich guys -- in Kalamazoo MI created the Kalamazoo Promise. Stay in the Kalamazoo Public Schools and graduate, they said, and they would pay the tuition at any state college in Michigan, from 65% to 100%, based on years in the KPS system.

Of course you still have to get into college, but the students have graduated and the Kalamazoo Promise had paid.

So if this all about the state schools, why am I flying the Hope College LJ icon on this entry? Because after eight years, they've decided to up the ante and offer tuition moneys for some of Michigan's great private colleges. Hope. Calvin. Kalamazoo. And others.

This has been a tremendous program for the city of Kalamazoo. The donors have made it clear they want to have a community and a workforce that is educated and probably incentivized to give back to the community. No, there are no strings attached, and yet the program is working. If you are a KPS graduate, money is not a barrier to going to college -- and it makes a difference in the students. Especially after eight years, it is no empty promise. The students can see that it works.

A few other places have even tried something similar.

But it started here. It is something that Kalamazoo can be very proud of.

Dr. Phil
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Status Report #6327.2

Previously on dr-phil-physics:

So... about 2½ weeks ago, back on 23 or 24 May, while at WisCon, a bandage change of my nearly healed heel wound showed some blood. It had broken open. We came back on Memorial Day and on Tuesday 27 May I managed to get an appointment with the Wound Clinic. The doctor found a large and deep wound, and told me I needed to go across the street to the hospital. Actually what I did was go home and park the Blazer, then had Mrs. Dr. Phil take me back to Butterworth.

I was there from Tuesday 27 May to Tuesday 3 June. Altogether a much better experience than my stays at Butterworth a year ago. No ICUs. Good vitals and stamina, save for a low fever the first night. I walked in with my walker while Mrs. Dr. Phil parked the Bravada, and walked myself to Elevator G and showed up to the nurse's station on 4 West to check myself in. I never felt bad -- still don't -- but there was clearly something afoot, as they say.

An X-Ray and an MRI showed that there was an infection in the rear part of the heel bone. Last year they didn't think the bone was affected, but I guess the bacteria managed to weasel its way in and gain a toehold... er, a heel hold. 4-6 weeks of IV antibiotics for a start. But with a PICC line similar to last year, there was no reason to keep me in the hospital, so I was discharged to do my twice daily IVs at home. Through the generosity of my friends in the UCF, most of a nice little minifridge was bought for the antibiotics. Who knew Amazon Prime sold refrigerators with free shipping?

The Wound Clinic team also felt that I would benefit from hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapy -- 2 atmospheres absolute pressure of oxygen for two hours a day, Monday-Friday, for 30-40 treatments.

Ultimately we are still in unknown territory here. They can't operate and excise the diseased bone. Heel bone is different in that it has a hard shell and a spongy interior. Even if you could cut, you have to take out some healthy bone, too, and what would be left might not support the foot, plus it would be wide open to infection. So there is still a risk that the left foot might have to go. Trying to avoid that. While my nerve damage from four years ago and last year makes walking difficult, there is no pain. I do have working nerves below the knee, however, plus twenty years of edema and a couple of celulitis infections have left my lower leg skin in poor shape. Really, let's avoid amputation.

Because of the lack of pain and the fact that I feel fine, there is something of a surreal quality to all this. After last year's The Year Without A Summer, I had great plans for doing things, writing, going out with the big lenses and doing some cool photography. Plus Mrs. Dr. Phil and I had some travel and conferences scheduled. Now? Most of the "work day" is taken up with IVs and the four hour door-to-door runs for the HBO treatments. I can't take paper or electronic devices into the hyperbaric oxygen chamber -- see Apollo 1 -- so as you may have noted I am running through their collection of SF films. Not a total loss, but not the summer I had planned.

Indeed, the days are tight enough that rescheduling my Physical Therapy appointments was tough. While we won't be able to continue what we were working on in May -- 50% weight restriction on my left foot -- it's important that we work the muscles and keep me in reasonable shape.

Barring disaster I intend to teach this fall.

Detcon 1: I am an optimist. This year's NASFiC in Detroit should come along in between the 30th and 40th HBO sessions. Even if we are continuing, I imagine that I could miss Friday's session once. Also, I will either be off the IV or in the waning days, so we could bring supplies and do the IV antibiotics in the morning and evening. I am going to investigate renting a wheelchair for the hotel. I spent too much time and effort on Detcon 1, I really want to be there and be on panels if possible.

We shall see.

But my status is overall feeling good right now. And Death to those little bugs in my heel bone! Die! Die! DIE!

Dr. Phil