Goob Is Goofy

Hey Disney, don't sue me.

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This Should Be Interesting

When I look back on my life, there is one overarching theme. I plod along the same course for far too long and then suddenly, stunning even to myself, I take a 90 degree turn.

I spun myself dizzy today.

Starting tonight, I plan on burning through all of my ideas, jokes, and posts in 2012. No more holding back. I’m sick of this Brain Crack. Because you can’t grow unless you exercise those muscles, right?

1 Down, 900 To Go.

Everything is a Remix

Part 4 of the Everything is a Remix series went live today and it is glorious. In case you missed the first episodes, here they are: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I Question Your Choice of Questions

We’re all too familiar with a generic online signup form. Step 1: Figure out an unused screen name without resorting to creative curse words. Step 2: Pick a password with at least one uppercase letter, number, and Chinese symbol (even though it’s far more secure to make it an easy-to-remember phrase). Step 3: The “security question” portion that has been made alarmingly unsafe thanks to social media.

Security Questions

I started blogging on Shyzer in 2002 at the age of 19. I created a Facebook account in 2004. I started Twit Twattering in 2008. And I’m fairly certain I covered each of the questions above at least once online.

My sibling’s generation is worse. Most have been leading an on-line life since they could communicate. We teach them to be safe, to not reveal too much about themselves, and yet we wouldn’t bat an eye at revealing our favorite sport or childhood hero.

And why in the hell would you give an option that invariably changes. My preferred musical genre? I guarantee today’s answer differs from what I’ll give in 12 months.

It’s worse when you can’t even create your own question. Letting me enter something random like “baseball/wine/candles” and then putting the answer as the first words I associate with those would be far more secure. But no, I’m stuck trying to remember my grandmother’s first name then in 10 months remembering which grandmother I chose.

Websites, stop doing this shit.

Treatment

xkcd posted this while I was going through chemo. I found it oddly comforting.

How Does Free Internet Censorship Sound?

I want to keep my personal opinions here separate from work and HIF-related crap. But this is one of those situations that causes me to roll my eyes and scream “you’ve got to be f*%#ing kidding me!” Even worse, it’s one of those things that affects Hey, It’s Free! in that it could kill it. That’s why we need to stop SOPA now.

I’ve made companies mad before. Big companies. Apparently they get their little widdle feelings hurt when some random guy makes fun of them. And the way companies are turning into conglomerates, it’s fathomable that one of them may have ties to Internet providers and block HIF as retaliation. But that’s only IF we let Congress pass SOPA, or the Stop Online Piracy Act.

What does this bill do? It allows the entertainment industry to censor sites that allegedly “engage in, enable or facilitate” copyright infringement. It sounds vague because it was intended to. The theory is that the entertainment industry wants to kill online piracy. But what if I link to a coupon that a company didn’t intend to release and we HIF it? Instead of facing a PR backlash and trying to explain how they screwed, they could say what I did was a piracy-friendly act and have heyitsfree.net blocked. The next time you tried to visit HIF, it’d say I was a pirate and the loving entertainment industry was protecting you for your own good.

It’s no surprise that every major online company as well as Internet and First Amendment legal experts are against this. This isn’t a left vs. right thing. It’s a “once giant industry not knowing how to move into the 21st century so they decide to lobby Congress to help them kill anything new” thing. I looked around at some of the most liberal and conservative blogs and they’re all in agreement – this bill is moronically stupid and needs to be killed.

So what can you do? Call your local Congressman. This is especially important if you live in Texas, Michigan, Vermont, or Iowa. Send them an email. Or at the very least, tell your friends about this. Tweet, share, email it and let people know they need to do something.

Having the government make sure there isn’t lead in my toys or mercury in my food is nice. It’s cool when they tell companies to stop dumping sewage in my back yard. But we don’t need them or the entertainment industry “looking out for us” on the Internet. We can take care of ourselves on here, thank you very much. Don’t let them censor the Internet – I promise you won’t like it.

Hey Cancer. Eat It.

I asked my Oncologist if “the R word” applied to me yet. He thought I was asking if I was retarded.

My brain has always worked faster than my mouth. In a debate, I always end up shooting myself in the foot by stumbling over my tongue. That’s why I enjoy writing. To hell with making your point on the first try, in real time no less! My typical method for an article is to pound it out all at once, edit, re-edit, wait a few hours, edit some more, wait a few days, edit some more, and finally force myself to publish the damn thing before I end up rewriting every word.

I took the exact opposite approach with this post.

I didn’t want to type anything before I knew for certain because I’m superstitious inasmuch as I can jinx myself. It happens every time. I’m winning in a game? Trash talk seals my opponents crazy comeback. I mention it’s nice the plane is taking off on time? We stop halfway down the runway due to a broken flimflark. So the thought of writing this post ahead of time felt like an unnecessary tempting of fate I couldn’t afford.

Luckily yesterday my doctor said I’m officially in remission. He went on to say I’m not cured, obviously, and it could come back at any moment but I had kind of tuned him out by that point. My tumors were gone! All that self-groping hadn’t been in vain!

I plan on telling this individually to all my friends and family members, but until then, I just wanted to proclaim a public “rock the fuck on” to them. The support of Hiffers was fantastic, but I don’t want to ever make it sound like I was in this alone. Those around me stepped up their game and were simply awesome throughout this whole ordeal. I couldn’t have done it without them and I hope they know how much I appreciated their support.

Now, onto the next challenge life throws my way. Hopefully this one doesn’t involve boatloads of poison.

On The Other Side

I miss the dreams. That’s more than I thought I would.

I finished my last round of chemo a few weeks ago. I’m still in the “sit around twiddling your thumbs while we make sure everything worked” stage. It’s fantastic. Wait. I think I misspelled that. It’s fucking frustrating.

To be honest, I spent most of last month focusing on little battles that I didn’t realize I cared about. Being forced to eat with plastic utensils wasn’t a burden until I found that metal spoons didn’t ruin my cereal anymore. Suddenly the extra 15 seconds I saved in not rooting for a plastic spoon was precious.

One of the more recent battles I think I’ve won is with my hair. Not on my head – that I couldn’t care less about. With my family, it’s a given that I’ll be bald in a decade. No, what suddenly had me worried over the past few weeks was whether or not my facial hair would come back in full strength. I don’t have a lot of skills. I excel at making puns. I’m kind of flexible due to my gangliness. And I can grow a badass beard. I haven’t had one in a few years, but knowing that it was an option every morning was something that I didn’t realize I’d ever miss.

Yet here I was, as recently as last week, waking up every morning with peach fuzz that any 12 year old could beat. My state of excessive body hair could fill a post of its own. And, geez, the places where I lost hair vs. retained it … I still don’t get it. There are long strips down my leg where it’s hair, no hair, hair, no hair. I look like I tried shaving racing stripes onto my body.

But guess what. I woke up on Thursday with black, glorious stubble under my nose. That’s the spot that held out the longest when I was losing it and I love the idea of it leading the charge back. In a world where its only claim to fame is the Hitler mustache, it’s nice to see it get a little love.

Obviously most of these have been things I’ve missed from “before.” In the grand scheme of things, they weren’t important. But I never thought I’d miss something from during the chemo. They finally vanished a few weeks ago. I knew it was going to happen, I’d figured out where they were coming from and could see them fading away like they do every morning. I’m just happy I was at least able to experience them for two months.

Because I’m such a nerd, I have a dream journal from 2004. I dream fairly regularly and remember a fair bit, but for the most part they’re uneventful nothing dreams. As such, I only take the time to write down in vivid detail those dreams that knock you on your ass. The ones that make you wish more than anything that you were back in them and, if you’re not careful, threaten to send you into a tailspin of nostalgia for something that never existed and depression for what does.

July and August of this year almost doubled the total number of entries in my journal.

They were fucking phenomenal. Each and every one of them. Even the nightmares! I’d wake up, often in a sheen of sweat from the terror or adrenaline, and know that if I could just will myself back to sleep, I’d probably fall back into some equally crazy scenario. I was exhausted for much of my treatment. I know a lot of it came from the physical aspect of the drugs, but another factor was that I couldn’t stay asleep most nights. I’d wake up feeling as if I hadn’t slept a wink and it wasn’t until two weeks into the treatment that I realized I was waking up so frequently because of all the dreaming. Suddenly, I didn’t care about the exhaustion.

Because I’m such a super nerd, I began meticulously tracking my days. Did the dreams coincide with my treatment? Sudden change in diet? Flower-scented aroma candles I’d boug…had given to me? It didn’t take long to pinpoint the culprit (or hero, in my eyes): my anti-nausea medication. Just to be certain it wasn’t somehow the nausea itself, I even went five days without taking any meds and powered through the discomfort. It was the longest stretch where I didn’t dream during the entire two months.

All of the prescriptions are refillable through November. Any medical professionals or parents might want to turn away now, and kids, don’t abuse drugs. But I’m sorry. Those dreams were something magical.

Fuck it, I’m not sorry. I’ve earned them. Here’s to some crazy dreams tonight.

What’s The Deal With Drug Cards?

The images you see above are two examples of seemingly thousands of sites that offer free drug cards and trying to figure out what they’re all about has been a mini-quest of mine ever since I was first pitched in 2008 to advertise them on Hey, It’s Free! I’m afraid to even try to calculate how much brain power I’ve spent on these things. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, drug cards are things that you can print from online, for free, which entitle you to discount prices on a boatload of prescribed drugs. You merely give them your name and email address, hit submit, and then can print a “card” on the next page. Each card typically has your name, a Group#, a PCN#, a BIN#, and a Member#. What any of that means, I have no idea.

Somebody explain the following:

  1. Who publishes these offers?
  2. In what way, shape, or form are they benefiting from people using them?
  3. If you argue they don’t, then explain why there are affiliate companies that pay people to get other people to print and use the cards. (I can make like $0.25 for everybody I get to print one of these cards.)
  4. Why do pharmacies and/or drug companies give a discount on their products?
  5. Why does every Drug Card offer explicitly say (A) it’s not insurance and more importantly (B) you can’t use it in conjunction with insurance?

I finally broke down and decided to write this when my power company sent me a free card this week. When you start to Google for information, all you can find are a bevy of sites to print more cards. This is clearly a profitable venture for somebody out there. And again, these things work. They give the savings they promise. I’m not questioning if they’re a scam, but instead how in the hell they actually work.

I was able to find this discusion from 2009 where a few other people were curious as well. I could see it being a collaborative effort by the pharmaceutical industry, but I fail to understand how they can use the savings as a tax write-off. Deep in the thread there was a link to a 2009 NPR Planet Money segment “co-pay assistance cards”, but to me the story sounded like it was talking about specific drug coupons that pharmaceuticals offer (more on that in a minute). The final breadcrumb I was able to find was the second page of this thread. There was mention of actual company names and how they might be involved, but I’ll be honest – I didn’t comprehend much of it.

One thing I’ll say is this: from what I can tell, these drug cards are completely different than the coupons that pharmaceutical companies give out. The coupons were what the Planet Money and a recent This American Life episode called Fine Print 2011 are reporting on. (If you’re interested, it’s Act One and titled “One Pill, Two Pill, Red Pill, Blue Pill.”) Those coupons basically cut to the heart of the invention of co-pays.

Long story short, you’ve got drug companies, insurance companies, and you. Everybody want money, specifically your money. The drug companies invent Pill X and charge $500. Pill Y later comes out, which is the generic version of Pill X, and it only costs $50. Now when you used to get your pills and you had insurance, chances are you went for the original pill. People like name brand stuff over generics, especially if they’re not paying, which you weren’t. Your insurance company was. So the drug company got your money and you got the drug. Both of you were happy.

But the insurance company had to pay $500! They weren’t happy. So they invented co-pays as an incentive for you to get the cheaper drug. Now you go to get your pills and are told the co-pay for Pill X is $50, but for Pill Y it’s only $10. Chances are you opt for Pill Y! Again, you get basically the same drug, but the insurance company is only paying $90 instead of $500. But now the drug company isn’t getting your money! So to ramp up the arms race, they recently started issuing coupons which would pretty much cover co-pays or at least knock them down to the same level as the generic. So again, the co-pays are $50 or $10, but now you’ve got a $40 coupon for Pill X. Chances are you again opt for the name brand and now the insurance company is again paying way more for pretty much the same drug.

But here’s the thing. These drugs cards that I’m obsessed with aren’t like those coupons, specifically because of bullet 5, part B in my list of questions above. Drug cards are only for people without health insurance. If you take the insurance companies out of the equation, the scenarios above become obsolet. I don’t understand why there are plenty of news stories on the coupons, or “co-pay assistance cards,” but not on these drug cards.

What’s really gnawing at me is that I know somebody makes a little bit of money whenever people use the cards. I just can’t tell who. It’s the only reason the cards would show up in certain affiliate programs that I work with. The reason somebody is willing to pay me a quarter every time I get people to print out the cards is because that same person is probably making a dollar every time somebody uses one of the cards. I just can’t tell where that dollar is coming from and who is collecting it.

Seriously, does anyone know anything about these things? When the hell were programs like these invented? Why? Who is using them? Who is running them? Why? I’m afraid this will one day become my Moby Dick and I’m plum out of coffins.

I Don’t Want To Be What I Eat

Well that little streak didn’t last long! I don’t know why in the world I picked last week of all weeks to start that little experiment, but whatever.

Most of my focus lately has been between sleeping and eating. My sudden rash of insomnia has been a strange experience, as I can’t recall ever having trouble sleeping in the past. I’m the character who wakes up 30 minutes into an alien blockbuster wondering where everyone went and why the world is a smoldering ruin. So you can imagine the fun I had last night as I watched a Frontline and Sesame Street double feature at 5am.

It’s the food that’s really getting to me though. My God, my tongue has the permanent texture of sandpapper dipped in cat litter. I never was one to eat much fast food and yet I find that the only things I can handle are ones that are over-salted, sweetened, or both. The irony that I’m looking forward to getting better so that I can stomach more vegetables certainly isn’t missed on me. At least I can still manage to keep down fruit.

I see there’s a three hour telethon about to start on PBS. Might as well get in at the start.

I Still Hate Needles

Tomorrow marks the end of one of my self-described Hell Weeks – chemo every day of the week for five hours. And I swear, I’m not complaining. Had I popped out 100 years ago, they’d be leaching me or dosing me up with mercury.

But this shit gets old fast.

Aight, less cancer crap over the next few days. I promise.

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