This is my brain:


I rather like it. It’s a nice brain. Admittedly, some of it might have been damaged when I tried to read Derrida’s “Of Grammatology” and to make sense of Foucault [note gratuitous PoMo snark]. But, basically, I dig my brain.

Chapter 1: Tingling

A couple of months ago now I began to have some numbness and other odd sensations in my face. I went to the doctor who sent me to get a CT scan to see if I had a stroke. The answer was “no”. From there I went to a neurologist who was a very talented guy but whose initial diagnoses was “huh. weird.”: He sent me to the hospital for an MRI.

Philosophy Lesson: Be careful what you ask for

As it happens, I think MRI’s are one of the most amazing things that physics has ever produced. I sort of always wanted to see one done. Of course I wanted to see one done on someone else but what the fuck. At least i got my wish.

Chapter  2: My MRI

Anyway……. The MRI showed a small tumor on my trigeminal nerve (that’d be CN5 if you ever need to pass the neurobiology 101 test). Were it anywhere but inside my skull it would be called a “nerve sheath tumor” but because it’s cranial it’s called a Schwannoma. That’s actually sort of odd because the deal is that the sheath covering your nerves is made of Schwann cells so it’s really the same thing. But, I guess if you have to resect your brain to get to something you need to give it an extra cool name. Beat’s me…

Chapter 3: Facebook Freakout

When I discovered my new friend I posted about it on Facebook. Rightly so (and I know out of love) a lot of my friends freaked out. This is because you can’t tell people you love that you have a brain tumor on the internet without making it sound terrible. So, before I tell you where my treatment plan is as of today, I want to tell you exactly what this thing is and why it’s not as terrible as it sounds.

Biology Lession: Trigeminal schwannomas

A trigeminal schwannoma is the second most common type of intracranial nerve sheath tumor, It is rare (Ha! Again I am unique!); second only to the much more common acoustic schwannoma. These tumors typically develop at the base of your skull and are formed of the Schwann cells (a type of glial cell) that accelerate the transmission of neuronal spikes across the length of axons. Basically these cells form the Myelin sheath of a nerve. [This I learned from taking neuroscience and neurobiology classes on Coursera!]. It is possible for these tumors to be malignant. But it is VERY rare.

Chapter 4: Where we are today

Now that you know what my tumor is and that it is most likely benign let me share where we are today. I met with a neurosurgeon at Oregon Health Sciences University today. He told me that there are 2 possible next steps. Either I could have a localized radiation treatment (i.e. “radiosurgery”) using one of several technologies (e.g. a Gamma Knife”) or I could have surgery. The surgery would be more complex and would likely end up with more numbness than I have today, not less. The radiation would be an outpatient procedure that would cause the tumor to shrink. The advantage of the surgery is that they could actually biopsy and study the tumor and could insure it is not malignant. The real question is this: is it worth an invasive surgery to determine that a most-likely benign tumor is truly benign at the cost of probably making one of the symptoms worse. Or is it better to assume that it’s benign (which statistics say it is) and just do the radiation? The neurosurgeon is trending toward recommending radiation but will consult with his colleagues.

Meanwhile, I will be seeing a friend of a friend who is a radiation oncologist to get a second opinion.So, with that, I’ve told you most of what I currently know. I cherish the friendship and support of everyone surrounding both my physical and my cyberspace communities. I love you all, I appreciate your support, love, prayers, thoughts, and kind words. And I’ll post more when I know more.

XO 2 Y’all!


Wish I’d written this :-) Gorgeous loaves and great discussion. Enjoy.

Originally posted on Bread Bar None:

In a previous post I’ve written about a fig and raisin sourdough, based on an idea from Yoke Madewi’s Wild Sourdough cookbook. This new recipe, however, comes from an entirely different angle.

figandraisin One of the finished fig and raisin sourdough loaves

Recently I’ve been playing around with temperatures and cooking methods, trying to broaden my understanding of sourdough in particular. Following methods outlined in the Larousse Book of Bread I have experimented with the effect of different temperatures of the water and the room that the dough proofs in. I have also been playing around with the amount of starter, and the effect on the time, quality, and taste of the finished breads.

For this fig and raisin sourdough, I decided to make two batches that were equal in everything except for the amount of starter. The finished breads came out noticeably different.

fig_recipes Two side by side recipes, same ingredients…

View original 754 more words

So, I’ve been sitting here in my backyard, sipping scotch, waiting for Shabbat to begin and pondering the interesting conflict we have this year between Shabbat and Tisha B’Av. You see, Shabbat is all about joy, yet Tisha B’Av is all about lamentation. On Shabbat we are not supposed to fast yet on Tisha B’Av we are mandated to fast. So, what do we do?

Not surprisingly, The rabbis have an answer to everything. Unlike most Shabbats, where it is a mitzvah to have sexual relations with your spouse, on this Shabbat you are not supposed to. You are also not supposed to read any parts of Torah on Saturday afternoon unless they are parts specifically permitted on Tisha B’Av. You’re supposed to do the Tisha B’Av stuff on Sunday. But, you’re not supposed to have a mournful separation meal before the fast that you begin on Saturday night.

I have a feeling that all of that means very little in the Reform Jewish movement. Still, it seems like you need to treat this Shabbat and Sunday in a special way.

Basically, one thing I think we can share is that Shabbat joy cannot be diminished. That is the number one holiday in the Jewish calendar. And, moving the mourning to Sunday is not an Earth-shattering proposition. So, that’s all you seem to really need to worry about.

But I have come up with one more thing that I think is important. We’re going to do our usual mourning by reading the book of Lamentations on Sunday. But one of the things we should focus on in the joy that we express during this Shabbat is the joy of knowing that after all the horrors we’ve been through and all the millennia when the Jews have been persecuted, expelled, tortured, hated, and murdered, we still exist! 

There has been plenty of evil in the world over thousands of years and there will continue to be evil over thousands more. But, despite the evil and despite the hatred, the Jewish people have continued to persevere even in the face of genocide and even in the face of the anti-Semitism that exists around the world today. 

If that’s not a reason for Sabbath joy then I don’t know what is.

Shabbat Shalom.


In case you think that the Pacific Northwest is any better than any other place when it comes to Jew hatred. Un-fucking-believable.

Originally posted on The Mike Report:

“I’m now the first to blow the whistle on Seattle’s Jewish Mafia… I know who the enemy is, and I’m not afraid to stick it to ’em.” -David Blomstrom: King County Voter’s Guide

Do you worry about the “Jewish Mafia”? David Blomstrom does, and he’s eager to tell you about it. The problem is that Blomstrom propagates his Jew hating obsession at taxpayer’s expense. As a candidate running in Seattle School District 1 for the office of Director of school position 3, Blomstrom, who describes himself as an “anti-anti-Semite“, shared his twisted platform in the King County Voter’s Guide (P.73) for the upcoming August 2015 primary.

While perusing the voter’s guide, David E. Behar of Seattle was jarred after stumbling across Blomstrom’s bizarre candidate statement. He immediately authored a letter to King County Councilmembers and the County Director of Elections. 

David E. Behar. Photo Credit: The Mike ReportDavid E. Behar. Photo Credit: The Mike Report

“I admittedly am not…

View original 900 more words

Every year, as Tisha B’Av arrives, I write about all the Jewish tragedies that supposedly occurred in this very day,

Tisha B’Av used to be a time to mourn the destruction of the first, and then second, temple. But, a big problem arose with Reform Judaism because, in our faith, we have no wish to return to the days of ritual sacrifice. We also don’t necessarily believe that there is an actual dude called “the Messiah” so we don’t have a reason to want the temple back.

We believe that, through our actions, we can improve the world to the extent that one day a Messianic age will arrive through our efforts. We need no savior, like Christians do; no singular prophet; and no special guy from the lineage of David. What we DO need it to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. Each individual is tasked with doing their own little part until one day the sum of those parts is great enough to affect a global culture of holiness, respect, and love.

What we also need is the courage to press on no matter the obstacles. THAT is why I care so much about Tisha B’Av. Irrespective of mourning the Temple, we can use this day to realize that our people have survived countless instances of cruelty and hatred and yet we have remained.

Think about it. In this week’s Torah portion, the first of the book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins the first of his three great “sermons”.  He reminds us, through a perspective that is much more mature in its deutero-retelling than in the original tellings earlier in Torah, of all the things we have been through. He also reminds us of our failures and our lack of courage and persistence. In a rather timely sort of annual occurrence, it is said that one of the things that happened on Tisha B’Av was the failure of the “spies” to come back from reconnoitering the promise land with confidence in our success. Moses not only reminds the people of their lack of faith and their unwillingness to persevere and enter the land but he takes personal responsibility for it by reminding them that G-d is angry with him as well.

What I’m saying here is that, in his well seasoned maturity, Moses takes responsibility even for the things that he himself did not do. The buck stops with Moses. From this we learn that we, as a society, must have the forbearance to take action AND that we, as individuals, must have the integrity to accept responsibility for making those actions work or not work.

So, on this Tisha B’Av I am not suggesting we neglect the temple. Nor am I suggesting that we ignore the crusades, the inquisition, the expulsion from Spain, the expulsion from Portugal, the weak will of 10 out of 12 biblical spies, the mass transport of the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto to Auschwitz, or anything else that has tragically befallen the Jews throughout history. Rather, I suggest that, as we mourn the myriad terrors, we use that memory to notice that we yet remain a people.

Remember that much of the reason we persist is that we never give up, never give in, never allow humiliation to trump fortitude, and never act with complacency in the hope that all will be fine with a new temple, a Davidic Messiah, a second-coming of Christ, or anything else.

Don’t wait for the end of days to take responsibility for doing your part to bring about the world you hope to someday have.


Wilder Shores

Posted: July 21, 2015 in Uncategorized


Very proud of the Dickmans and even prouder to be part of Third Angle!

Originally posted on sanslartigue:


View original

Today I am extremely disappointed that the P5+1 chose to sign an agreement with Iran. This deal is in the interest of not a single nation except Iran. It is a negotiating coup for Iran and a tragedy for the world.

I predict that in the next 10 years, a real, honest to God arms race will begin between Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Israel, Lebanon and who knows who else. Seriously, does everyone realize how SHORT is the span of 10-20 years?

Of course, it may not take 10 years. For one thing, Israel will probably try to “solve the problem” itself now. I would not blame them but it could bring world war III about if they do.

Furthermore, when has Iran ever told the truth or met an obligation to which they agreed? In Iran’s mind, this is simply 6 nations negotiating with Allah. Breaking their word to make way for the Hidden Imam is probably considered as honorable as funding terrorists to blow up children and become martyrs.

As a condition of this deal, Iran need not disclose any of the previous military aspects of its nuclear development. Iran need not stop enriching uranium; not even at Natanz (where 1000s of centrifuges will continue spinning). The Arak heavy water reactor and the associated plutonium plant does not even need to be taken out of service, just “converted”. Fifteen years from now, even that heavy water restriction will expire. IR-8 and IR-6 centrifuges will continue to be developed and 8.5 years from now they be spinning up 30 more IR-6s. In the several-thousand year history of Iranian culture 8 1/2 years, 10 years, 15 years are but a minuscule flash. We’re removing sanctions now but in that “flash” of time they will be back and stronger than ever. Iran will not need to sneak into “Club Nuke”, they’ll get free tickets and a backstage pass!

We could not even get Iran to agree to stop financing Hezbollah, to agree to stop calling for the destruction of Israel, to cut back on executions by stoning, or to agree to unrestricted inspection access to the production sites.

So… I have to ask… What exactly did the P5+1 win in this negotiation?

I see nothing.What I see is 6 nations who simply gave up on negotiating and instead chose to immediately grow Iran’s $400B economy by like  25% by infusing it with $150B that is being unfrozen in foreign financial institutions.

And, in return, what did they get?

To me it looks like almost nothing.