Saturday, September 30, 2006


Big Monkey and his new friend would like to report that Mark was moved from the ICU to a regular room today. More to follow soon.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Mark had a liquid breakfast similar to last nights dinner. He wanted something more substantial so he got some eggs after that. When Bud Scott and Laura arrived Mark was tearing into his lunch which
consisted of turkey mashed potatoes and carrots as well as pound cake. He said it tasted terrible but he still ate a lot of it. Mark was irritated because the remote for his t.v. Did not work.He told
the nurse that he was an electrical engineer and he would fix it. Mark was able to stand up and walk a little in his room with assistance. He is graduallyrecovering as each day goes by. He will remain
in the ICU until further notice.

I Miss My Dad...

I wish my Dad were home but I know that he needs to get better first. I miss climbing on his shoulder and playing fetch.Even though I am a cat I enjoy a fun game of fetch or even monkey in the middle.
Speaking of monkey... I am jealous that Big Monkey got to see my Dad yesterday and I didnt.

WHO'S updating the blog?

Today Mark asked Laura if she had updated the blog. She told him that Big Monkey did. He groaned a moment later...not sure if there was a connection.

This afternoon, Mark's surgeon came in to check on him. He asked Mark to say "Minneapolis, Minnesota." Mark said it perfectly! Thankfully Mark was resting a bit more today. He only asked about the blog and his laptop once. When Scott mentioned that there was a t.v. in the room, Mark replied that he needed to take a break from all the media items. This was a relief to Laura. She was expecting him to ask for a status report on the to do list she was given Monday night prior to surgery to finish up all of his technology projects. Laura's going to be in BIG trouble when Mark finds out she didn't accomplish everything on the list yet.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fuel For The Support Crew

Karen was kind enough to bring a homemade meal to replenish Bud, Scott, and Laura. Prior to that, Mark had his first non-IV meal consisting of beef broth, jello, and juice. He was a trooper and ate most of
his dinner. Maybe tommorow he can have something more exciting. Bud dangled a pie again to Mark today. He asked "what do you want, coconut cream or banana?" The resounding response from Mark was "BANANA!" If that pie doesn't materialize, Bud is going to be in BIG trouble (again)!


Mark is in the ICU for a few days. He is doing well. The surgery went smoothly yesterday. Bud, Scott, and Laura are taking turns sitting with Mark today. More updates to follow. Check out Big Monkey's new
ride! He found it in the ICU waiting room.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


OK, Scott is getting abused right now. Or is it the other way around? Where is the cheese when you need it? Those of you that have seen our infamous cheese pictures will know what I am talking about.


Bud is reading a National Geographic from February 1979. Don't blame Moffitt for an out of date library. This came straight from the archives in Bulger, PA.


While waiting for Mark's surgery, Big Monkey works on a John Deere puzzle. Scott is catching some much needed ZZZ's. Laura is having fun with newly discovered "toys" - Mark's camera phone, laptop and blog. What will Mark think when he sees this?


Why is Laura wearing a USF Bulls shirt? Not because Penn State got slaughtered on Saturday by Ohio State. It's for moral support for Mark's surgery. Moffitt is affiliated with USF. Notice that Big Monkey is wearing his PSU jacket.

On The Move To The Pre Op Area

Mark got one hour of sleep last night, but he is ready to go with two thumbs up!

Training Scott To Blog...

Sent from my cell phone. Gotta go...


Well, I managed to sleep an hour last night, which I am ecstatic about. I finished all of my major "tasks" and only regret that I didn't get more content out to all of you. I truly appreciate everyone's support and I am looking forward to some interesting feedback the next time I can access the site. And, boy do I have content...

It is now 5:34AM and I'm surprised they haven't gathered me up yet. 'Guess I'll be waiting for them. This is my last pre-operation post from my laptop. Scott and Laura will be sending photos and updates from my phone and Laura can edit the blog as well.



Aunt Mildred and Uncle Jim,

Thank you so much for the Snickerdoodles and Chocolate chip cookies. They were the last things I ate before I had to start fasting last night at midnight. And now you're my second to last post prior to surgery. It is 5:20 AM and I'm behind schedule. I slept and hour last night, and that is more than I expected. I accomplished nearly everything I wanted to. It's the blog!

You may now understand why time is everything for me and why I got upset when you called the other night. I have no time...


Check it out, a two way mirror...

Can you see me?

Hospital Food

Yep, its's bad...

Where's the beef?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Coming Soon...

I'm going to post a very detailed report of the coming days' expected procedures. After that, I will just be posting entertaining posts until I have to turn-in for the night. Stay tuned, and post comments...

Well Wishes...

In lieu of Emails, post any well wishes to this topic. We all appreciate them!


Although I have high speed internet access, my Email can ONLY receive. I had some thought of shutting Email down completely because I didn't want my inbox to overflow if I were unable to retrieve messages for sometime. After just reading some of the inspiring messages from today, I prefer to open Email back up.

Please note that I am completely unable to respond due to limitations with my ISP. And in all likelihood I will still focus more on the blog, but you are welcome to send Email directly. The only constraint that would help is to not include any capacity-robbing attachments. Once my inbox reaches 10MB on my ISP mail server, it will begin rejecting messages. I tried to incease the capacity, but Brighthouse "couldn't."

I will actually have Email at, but not prior to surgery unless I bust a spring tonight... Not out of the realm of possibility...

I know, blog, blog, blog. A broken record, but my hands are tied...

Monday 9/25 Evening Update

Just a quick one for now. VERY HAPPY to report that I have been admitted into Moffitt in a private room until surgery tomorrow morning! All pre-operative procedures and protocols have been excellent! Couldn't ask for more... Oh, and then there's the matter of a little high-speed internet access... I'm in heaven!

Many more updates to come, culminating in the launch of

Leaving For Moffitt

Running a little behind, but will be okay. Still hoping to be admitted tonight. Will be done with appt around 5. Stay tuned...

Stealth Mode...

Hey, it lets me see the keys...

Monday 9/25 AM Update

Went to bed at 2:04AM, woke up at 3:24AM, cheated Ground Hog day, but still didn't get a lot of sleep. It's 5:31AM now and I'm just waiting for Laura to get up. I hope she sleeps in to get her rest. I'm fine.

It could make me crazy, but I've been creating my final "to do" list. It has been a decent experience, but I still have to take many breaks from it (I haven't been). I may need to have Laura make me stop on a regular basis for "nappy time" or I'll chug through everything.

I will probably publish the "to do" list later. There are very few items that I really need to address. Many of them are trivial, some are not, but they can all wait due to all of our other preparations. We're positioned well for tomorrow's surgery. Plus, I actually have a decent amount of time today aside from the 5 hours of tests at Moffitt, which I look forward too. I do hope they admit me, which effectively gives me a little more time and will give me more peace and subsequently more rest.

So everything is looking good. The blog may or may not be active, but will probably lean toward the latter.

No Ground Hog Day!

I cheated and stayed up past 1:44AM! No ground hog day, but now I am deliriously tired and signing off...

Monday 9/25 Hospital Schedule

'Can't believe it has been over a month since I was diagnosed with the tumor on August 23rd...

Tomorrow, we go to Moffitt for pre-operative procedures. At least I know exactly what to expect. They will be placing fiducials on my head an performing an MRI. No big deal.

I do want to make a slight change in the game plan and I sincerely hope that Moffitt accepts my request. I want them to admit me tomorrow afternoon so I can be supervised in their facility and care overnight. It would just give me a lot more peace and security before the surgery on Tuesday.

In the 24 hours prior to surgery, the steroid dosage will increase from 4mg/day to 24mg/day (hasn't been specified by the doctor yet, but that's what I recall last week). Under normal doses, these caused a lot of anxiety and hyperactivity, so sleep really will not be an option, and I would just feel a lot safer to have access to a nearby medical staff during the night before.

Laura, Scott, my father, and I will depart my house around 12:30PM Monday to arrive early for our 2:30 appointment to have the fiducials applied. See post "Fiducials Galore" from 9/15. After fiducial placement, I will be given an MRI to establish the current state of the tumor and (I'm pretty sure) establish a coordinate system based on the fiducials.

Since I've been through it before, tomorrow will be a walk in the park. We'll likely be done with all diagnostics by 5:00PM. I'm not sure what we'll work our after that, but my vote is to be admitted immediately so I can be observed the night before surgery. I hope to know this prior to leaving for the hospital around 12:30PM.


So my dad's girlfriend called around 3:00 and asked him if I would be interested in a home made coconut cream pie. Now, there are many foods that I can't stomach, but there are also those foods that are worth taking the risk for, and I had a feeling that I was going to have to suck ths one up for the advancement of science...

Somehow the pie turned into a flash in the pants and never really materialized for some unknown reason, but at 11:00PM I wondered if my dad could really be playing that cruel of a trick on me. Don't dangle a pie in front of my face in my condition. Knowing full well he was asleep, I had to call to see what happened to the pie.

He didn't answer the initial call. I knew ther was an outside chance he would. Five minutes later and he called.

"What's the deal with the pie?"
"It's here."
"It's not doing me any good there, can Laura come and get it?"
"No, I'll bring it up."

It really hit the spot. Karen makes excellent pies. I ate 1/4 of it.

And I went out on a limb and had frozen lasagna for dinner.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Finally... In the words of Rob Toth, just chillin...

Thanks to Bill and Carolyn for my "head trauma" helper monkey who is suffering from the same affliction.

Kindly disregard the glass of Mountain Dew, it's my one per day...

Quick Update...

I am a little concerned about how exhausted I was when I fell asleep last night. My surgeon told Laura about a condition called a "waking coma" where I could just fade in and out of consciousness, but I didn't have the opportunity to ask him how critical it was to track this. Seems like it would be, so now we are tracking all sleep and periods of rest and strictly enforcing rest periods.

I am trying to do a lot of things, but I became concerned last night how quickly the exhaustion hit and I was practically delirious and unable to perform what I consider to be a simple task, order a product on the internet. Once again, I ordered the first item, and I was talking to Scott on the phone at the same time, and I was thinking about a third task, so I was still multi-tasking, but I couldn't complete the task. I also wanted to send a quick Email to George to let him know that I wanted to call him today to get some of his expertise on my new network.

This morning when Laura woke up (about 6:30AM of course I had been blogging for almost 5 hours into Groundhog Day), I remembered the difficulty I had trying to send an Email to George, the memory seemed kind of faint, but I did remember. I remember struggling with composing the message and sending it. I wondered if I was even able to send it, if I made any sense at all, or if I may have sent George and inbox full of drooling messages. :b...


NOTE: If any of my doctors happen to be checking this blog and my symptoms are of concern, please post to this blog or call me.


Well, I checked my sent mail, and much to my surprise, the message went out once and it was surprising coherent, plus it gave me a time stamp for when I fell asleep:

Sent: Sunday, September 24, 2006 12:17 AM
Subject: Re: More Tech Advice


Do you think you might be available sometime Sunday for a phone consult regarding my network? I got the equipment you spec'd.


So messing with all of this technology does have some other hidden benefits, but I have to cut back. And Email will go way down, too.

Long story short, I decided to start tracking all activities so we can make sure I get as much rest as possible. I am logging all sleep, computer activity, or "awake rest." I need to think of a different name for that last one, because it will be me wide awake and staring at the wall. When I won't be able to sleep, I will just lay there motionless to rest my body. I don't know if it's an effective approach to rest, but my only other alternative is to mess with some project and those turn ugly quick, especially once I get hopped-up on my upcoming increased steroid regimen. I wish I could use the energy to get more things done, but at least I realize it's negative to my health.

Speaking of that, I'm overdue for my Subway turkey sub. You should all know what I'm eating and when. My current monotonous food schedule works, it appeals to me for whatever reason, and it makes me happy. You can eat whatever you want and I'll do the same and be happy.

Oh, and now I have the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game on in the living room round the corner and the Steeler game playing over Sirius satellite radio in here. Talk about sensory overload. I'm going to leave it on until my dad shows up just to show him how annoying it is. We'll probably watch the Bucs and check the Steeler's score from time to time. I have to be pretty bored to listen to a game on the radio.

No, that was too much. Sorry, Steelers you have to go. Wish you were televised locally...

Sunday 9/24 AM Update

You are going to laugh at my personal hell!

I called Scott last night at work because he was trying to replace the CV joints, wheel bearings, and breaks on his 1981 VW Scirocco and I knew he would be there late. It was probably around 11:30PM when I called him prior to going to bed just to check-in, and he was having problems because the parts store gave him the wrong parts for the CV joints and bearings, but he was completing what he could.

I guess one of the nicest perks of his job is that he can use their facility to work on his vehicle during after hours or down time. Their facility that houses the blimp is obviously large, and it is amazingly immaculate. You could eat off the floor. And it's not like his Scirocco takes up much space. And it's win-win for Goodyear, because most of the time he's not working on the Blimp (his main job), he is either overhauling their convoy of vehicles (tour buses, vans, 18 wheelers), the hangar, and anything else they need to have fixed.

So, I'm seeing how he's doing and I'm also trying to order some special printer paper over the internet that consists of three parts for my Canon CP330 portable, compact, photo dye-sublimation printer. The parts are slightly hard to find, but I've already researched the part numbers and I've had the printouts in-hand since probably around 1:00PM, but I've been too busy to place the order. I figure on one last simple task - oh, and I was researching networked hard drives as well.

While talking to Scott, I go to one of my trusted photography sources, and proceed to enter in the first of the three part numbers. The item is in stock and I add it to my shopping cart. Two more items to go. Scott and I are still talking on the phone. I'm fading quick, starting to zone out, and I realize that ordering the last two parts and reading about networked hard drives isn't going to happen. I'm very tired and I hope it will foreshadow a nice night of solid sleep. I shutoff the computer and doze off.

La La Land

I wake up, feeling refreshed and I go to the bathroom. I didn't realize how much liquid I must have been drinking, but one of the antibiotics I am taking has a requirement of taking a lot of water with it and Laura does an excellent job of enforcing that initial glass of water. So I do my business and fully expect to climb back into bed, or maybe it is late enough in the morning to wake up.

What time could it be when I look at the clock? It's 1:44AM. Exactly when I woke up last night.

It's my own personal Ground Hog Day Hell!

My first thoughts are of the scene from the movie when Bill Murray keeps encountering a dorky looking guy day after day and he gets so fed up that one day he just punches him in the face. My next thoughts are that I want that guy to knock on my door so I can not only punch him in the face, but knock him backwards down our flight of stairs all the way to the ground.

So I just had to post this one immediately. I took the above picture of Karl at 1:45AM. Look at him all snuggled in a ball with his curled-up little paws. Since then, he got up for a little bit, but he's back beside me in the same catatonic state now. Also notice the remains of my projects, the printout of the parts for the printer and the network gear that Laura so selflessly retrieved after the Penn State game, which did not put any of us in a good mood (well, maybe me because I was obsessed with decorating my bandage, but in the long run, I didn't pay much attention to the game with all of the other communications I had going on). I felt a little better that she didn't have to make the trek to Best Buy and instead found it at a local Office Depot that is much more convenient to get to. And thanks to George for coming through again on product specifications. My old wireless router is ancient and I've had some dropouts, so I need to address it before surgery on Tuesday. I also got a wireless print server so I can have my laser printer by my bed. Laura will be so overjoyed...

As a side story, our house is basically three stories tall. The first floor is nothingness because we are on stilts. The second floor is the main living area including the master bedroom and the third floor has an office and a spare bedroom. As I've mentioned before, I luckily had the foresight to purchase a laptop so I could have a computer available bedside during recovery. Yes, I could have moved my old desktop, but I AM SO GLAD I got the laptop. For one thing, I may very well be able to use it from the hospital. If not, I may be able to use my cell phone from the hospital and I can post pictures an text to the blog from it. That feature NEVER ceases to amaze me!

Actually, I had some thought of going into a fatigue diatribe here because it's appropriate when talking about the layout of our house, but I'll have to address the state of my fatigue and stamina on a future post. Long story short, it is definitely getting harder for me to handle the stairs and hence the wireless print server to bring the printer to me.

Back to my rude awakening...

So I just had to call Scott back at 1:59AM, because I figured he was probably still working on his car. I called, and of course, he was. And he was having a worse time than me, so I just stayed on the phone with him, talking about his car.

Scott is an incredible mechanic. He and my father used to restore cars, mostly old VW bugs, and then sell them. They made some money, but not if you accounted for their time and workmanship. I would pay a lot of money for one of their restorations and I can kind of remember one of Scott's best selling for around $6500 for an early 70s beetle. I'd easily pay $10000 for it now if we could track it down.

He knows beetles like the back of his hand, but he also worked at a body shop in Pittsurgh for a while (5 years?) and I was always surprised by how much he knew about every OTHER car out there. It's amazing. A couple of quick stories may start to make the point.

He drove VW bugs for his daily commute for a while. He drives very fast and on the edge, too much so for my comfort. He has relaxed a bit since his early twenties. He's had his share of accidents, but other than potentially harming himself, he was fairly unscathed and although destroying vehicles isn't a wise hobby, there weren't many things he couldn't fix. And he CAN drive. Against my better judgement, I just kind of cringe if he takes off.

One of the repairs I remember is him blowing up the engine in a beetle, pulling into my dad's garage, dropping the engine, finding another beetle in my dad's boneyard, dropping it's engine (or maybe it was already disembodied, but that's not going to put you that much ahead), and then putting the "new" engine into his car and having everything up and running in what I'm sure was less than a day. Maybe even a few hours. He can comment.

Then there was a time where I think he hit a deer with an 80s VW Rabbit and completely smashed the front of his car in. He had a pension for having "wild animals" attack him like that, but deer impacts can't be mistaken for anything else. So the front of the Rabbit is completely smashed and pushed-in and I think it happened on a Friday night and he needed a vehicle for Monday.

What to do? Check said boneyard. Slice damaged front-end from bad rabbit with torch. Slice donor front-end from another wreck. Apply liberal amounts of welds and repair/reconnect all necessary systems so the vehicle is back on the road by Monday.

Oh, and another deer impact story. Hey, we lived in rural Western PA... Anyhow, this may be a little disturbing, so skip this paragraph if you don't want the details. He hit a deer on a straight away across from my dad's house and it basically tore an entire side off his car. Super beetle fenders are separate pieces bolted to the main body and although I can't visualize the exact damage, I do remember how he described it.

"I was comint down the straight-away and this deer comes running out and hits into the front right fender of my car, ripping the fender off. The he proceeds to smash his head through my passenger door window, making all kinds of snorting noises, and having his head shaking around as I'm trying to stay on the road, then his head is out of my car and he proceeds to rip the right rear fender of my car. Wiped out the while side of my car... Then he probably said, "Stupid Deer."

A note about comments here. I appreciate everyone's comments and they are great memories, but please exercise some decorum when leaving comments. So far everything has been fine, but I just wanted to reiterate that this site is now filled with a lot of great memories and is being read by family, friends and my coworkers, so just keep that in mind. I can delete posts that are of poor taste, but I won't unless I feel they hit a particular nerve. This is the only time I'll state what has heretofore been handled very well by everyone and I do appreciate the feedback.

So, back to last night. I ended up talking to Scott at length about his 1981 Scirroco, which happens to be the most ambitious restoration I have known him to do. I know he tore it down to nothing and spent at least four years rebuilding it, returning everything to better-than new condition. You wouldn't know from looking at it, because it's outward appearance is stock. But it is a mean little car and it has no signs of slowing down, although he still hasn't resolve the current noise that annoyed him so much that he just decided to replace everything that might contribute to it because it has to be right.

Oh yeah, I appreciate my car and I try to maintain and care for it, but it's mostly cosmetic. I'm ashamed that most real work has to be handed-off to someone else, but it's not my ball of wax. I wouldn't mind having a project car and Laura is sick of my neglected project boats, but they haven't hit the right priority level yet.

So here are some things I know about Scott's 1981 Scirocco. It certainly started with a COMPLETE tear down. Every part in boxes. Meticulous cleaning of every part. Add new components where it made sense, improve others where it didn't.

One of the components that amazes me is the "polished and ported" intake manifold. This was something he did by hand, so I'm not sure of it's effectivenes, but to see the manifold before and after polishing, it is beautiful. The stock manifold has a rough surface, probably from a sand casting process. I think it is magnesium Scott just kept grinding an sanding it until it turned into a sleek, shiny organic form, inside and out. To see before and after is incredible. That's elbow grease bordering on insanity.

It has a real sport exhaust system, not one of these oversized, hideous enlarged tail pipes that somehow found popularity in today's youth. Hey, we're not in our twenties anymore... And is has a mega-stiff fully adjustable sport suspension. It's basically a little go cart because it is small, tight and well-powered.

The seats and many of the interior components are original. Another one of Scott's outstanding touches is a hand-stitched red and black leather dash cover that present no indication of having not been done by a professional upholsterer. Were he came up with it, and how he managed to baseball stitch it all together and have it form fit the entire dash without a flaw, I will never know. I guess they don't have to be related, but his handwriting is atrocious...

It's definitely a hell of a little car and I really appreciate that it's outward appearance gives no indication of what's thriving within. Oh, it's odometer doesn't work, which would drive me absolutely insane! When I inquired how he could tolerate that, he said he's taken the dash apart down to the odometer several times and glued some gear, but it keeps breaking. I'll let him have that one. I guarantee that's no easy task. I feel like buying him some type of GPS, I just need to know.

He says the Scirroco gets about 35MPG on the highway and estimates it has about 110hp. I think the stock platform for that car might have been about 85hp. He also says the engine is in very good condition, burning no oil. He thinks his rebuild has about 250,000 miles on it because the odometer last stopped at 80,000 miles when he first started at Goodyear and moved to Florida in 1999.

He told me a story of having himself and our friends Big Ed, Billy, Denny, and Brian Shuba in his car and them challenging Scott to race a Honda down Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach. Scott said he gave a good show, but I have no idea how those four guys were in his car without Scott being in the hatchback. His car is nothing if not small. Bill is the shortest guy at 6'2" tall. Ed is around 6'5", Brian was right up there, and Denny is 6'3" or 6'4". Somehow I ended-up hanging out with all of these tall people and I'm numb to their tallness.

A quick lesson in physics. None of these guys are svelte. I can probably come up with a pretty good estimate of their total weight, and I bet it was 1140lbs, not including Scott's 140 or so (yes 4 of them equal 8 Scotts). He was at a pretty distinct power-to-weight ratio disadvantage...

The picture below is from Bill's bachelor party in April 2005 when Scott pulled some strings and got us up on the blimp. The actors (l to r) are Big Ed, Steve, Billy, Denny and Trent. Even the blimp was straining...

So I spoke with Scott until 2:19AM, which is when he actually arrived home for the night. He hadn't eaten dinner yet (translation - too preoccupied with fixing his car) and was thinking about making a turkey and salami sandwich. I hope it was good.

I guess that took a while to type as it is now 5:49AM. I really don't care, I'm just killing time until Laura wakes up. Then I will eat a banana, my PB&J bagel, a glass of milk, and then try to get some sleep.

I'll come back an edit this post later (this was a straight stream).