The inaugural fundraiser to help the MPN Research Foundation.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The show: Continues

The fundraiser is going to keep rolling, or crawling wounded, towards the finish line which at this point has become somewhat hallucinatory.  There are three goals with the fundraiser: raise money & awareness for the MPN Foundation are the first two, and the raison d'etre for its existence.

The third goal: have some fun. We all too frequently forget about that; we should not, because we do not know when this life will end for each of us. So I did make a change to rules which impacts only those who have already donated. If you are one of those people, and require some clarification, e-mail me, please.

Otherwise, and something all should keep in mind: there is nothing, absolutely nothing, political about knives. Knives might be used in heinous ghetto crime, although the more efficient alternative, firearms, enjoys popularity. Knives are also used by various sportsmen. 

OK, that might be a bad example for you. So I will point out a couple additional things, then I am turning off the computer and sleeping for a bit. The first thing I'll note is that in the 5th or 6th grade, my Eddie van Halen teacher, made sure that I read and studied a book on custom knives, and principles of building a collection.

Just to clarify a bit: do you really believe that a knife fetching, oh, USD25,000.00 on the secondary market will be purchased by a gangster for a 'hood crime? Do you believe that this sort of knife will ever be used in fishing or hunting? 

Compare the frequency of use as a fishing knife with how often "the Mr." will pull that knife, and others, out of his specially built and installed safe, and fondle them while the Louis brandy he has taken as a constitutional overwhelms his senses. 

So don't pigeon hole knives.  Knives, like Proust's madeliene, knives call up memories of our lives gone past; memories which, without that knife, we would never had recalled in such astonishing detail, such a wealth of sensory information saved up for us when we need it the most. 

Feeling those memories of a better place and time wash up and over me: that peace, that place I'm momentarily stopping at on the road labelled "Pursuit of the Other Road" - well that place needs to be visited more frequently, and with all that place was built upon.

Now, more than ever, right now: this is when we need love. It's an injection of the right kind of spirit, the right kind of emotion, the right kind of trust, belief, and faith in my fellow man to keep the struggle alive.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Prize List

This is the final prize list, barring any "Acts of God" that somehow interfere.

First place: Gayle Bradley 2, customized. A PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Second place: Manix 2 DLC, customized A PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Third place: Darex International WorkSharp Ken Onion Edition, with Blade Grinding Attachment, T-Shirt, Hat, & Mug. PK-F2-LE.

Fourth place: Emerson CQC 8, PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Fifth place: Darex International WorkSharp Guided Sharpening System, with Optional Update (additional diamond plates), T-Shirt, Hat, & Mug. PK-F2-LE.

These are incredibly great packages thanks to our sponsors. The fifth place package is worth considerably more than the entry fee; values go UP from there. I'm going to be seriously envious of whoever wins. The hardest part for me, is having this stuff laying around - and knowing that I have to give it to somebody else!

Shirts will be delivered to you approximately 4 weeks post drawing of the winners.

Every ticket holder gets one (1) free shirt, and can purchase additional shirts.

Knowledge & Life: Speaking of what we must remain silent

In the western epistemo-metaphysical tradition, it is typical to speak of knowledge as consisting of two components. The first component is what the layman would term "practical experience." The second component is what the layman would call "logic" or "theoretical knowledge."

Practical experience accounts for all the myriad perceptions and happenings which take place on a daily basis. These practical experiences are predicated on the presumed validity of perceptual experience: that what we see, hear, feel, taste, touch bears some accurate resemblance to reality. By themselves, such practical experiences do not yield knowledge: for example, a young child may well see what his mother sees, but the young child has little grasp of how this thing upon which he gazes works, applies to his own life, or any other of countless things which an adult quickly judges to be the case.

Quite naturally, then, in hearing tales of cancers, of MPNs, of myelofibrosis, it is natural to ask the question of the tale teller "But while you may have read about this cancer in a book, how do you really KNOW about it?"

The speaker, the self-appointed expert, in fact often does not have knowledge in this strict sense. In fact, the expert often takes the word of observational data samples as being the last word about the cancer.

It strikes me as quite telling that we are willing to essentially abdicate the unique position which true knowledge holds in what is quite possibly the most important role it can play only in the name of convenience: the knowledge of cancers might well be the most important knowledge we can attain, and we are quick to throw away any standards we might have for this knowledge.

This, I believe, speaks to the heady power of cancer; the power of cancer that causes us to behave so differently on a social scale, the power that a mere linguistic term holds over our social conscience.

This knowledge is what I hopefully can bring to our collective consciousness. Not only do have I some theoretical knowledge of the various processes at play in MPNs, but I am living with advanced myelofibrosis - that is, I am blessed with both components required for that mental state of knowledge: experience as well as logic.

Firstly, my qualifications with respect to logic and an ordering of facts: I have completed all my classwork for a PhD, and have my AM in, philosophy. My rigorous education, specializing in logic and mathematics, has taught me how to approach problems, how to break the complex down to the simple, and how to learn and understand the logic in new material. 

That I am gifted with advanced myelofibrosis is open to debate only insofar as it is called a gift. I have, thanks to the organic damage directly caused by this cancer, nearly died two times. I have been hospitalized, placed in a medically induced coma, had 18 units of blood pumped into me, my wife  told that I will only leave ICU via the morgue, I was intubated, doctors worked in 10 hour shifts to patch my body back together much like humpty dumpty, and I lived - much to the amazement of all parties involved, except me.

The only thing I remember of the incident is that I vomited blood while at work one morning; I was driven to the ER, where I told the admitting staff that I was dying, and they refused to believe me, along with every other person in line. I then patiently took my place in line, and asked everybody ahead of me one more time if I could cut; received the "daggers of death" stares; so I waited 10 minutes.

I then politely, ever so politely, asked the woman in line ahead of me if she could pass me the garbage can, which she did.  I looked at her, and said "Watch this" and vomited up over 1 gallon of blood.

The offers for me to go to the head of line were many, fast, and accompanied by stares which suggested people were now worried about catching something. I moved up in line, a wheelchair came out, and I was wheeled back to the ER where I started to undress, explaining that I was sure I would be there for a while.

As somebody attempted to follow intake procedure, I vomited yet again. They told me not to worry about anything, but just to grab a bed. That was early Wednesday morning; Saturday afternoon I had the breathing tube removed and started recovery.

There is, of course, much more to my story than this single incident. I had been diagnosed 9 months earlier; I had spent many hours crying, completely unsure of what my future might in fact hold for me. 

I had participated in a clinical trial for a new drug, and the doctor for that trial had (I'm convinced of the rightness of this) nearly killed me. That doctor had, repeatedly, told me that none of the pain I had was related to the cancer; that none of the fatigue I was experiencing was related to the cancer; that, in particular, the GI / abdominal issues of which I complained were "all in my head and a sign that I was depressed."

I vomited a total of 3 or 4 gallons of depression that fateful day in March. I think I still have quite a bit of depression left in me.

I spent all the spare time from the time I was first admitted to the hospital and nearly died from an HGB of 4, in July of 2015, to the time I was placed in a coma, in March of 2016, studying. I studied an average of 35 hours per week to understand this cancer, myelofibrosis, and how it did and would impact me.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fundraising status

I have to balance the books, but so far we are looking at about $700 in ticket revenue, with a little more "in process", and a little more yet that needs to be billed. This puts us a bit behind schedule, but not terribly. I'm rather hoping that the pace will pick up soon; I believe a couple key events will help with that. 

These fundraisers are important. They are important to the people who hold them: they give us a reason, something to channel our commitment, energy, and focus into; and they are important to the entire MPN Community. As William Crowley, Directory of Development for the MPN Research Foundation puts it:

"When you join Team MPN and hold a fundraiser for the MPN Research Foundation, you play a key role in improving the lives of the nearly 300,000 people who suffer with an MPN. Events like “Blades Against Myelofibrosis: 2017” will help fund original research in pursuit of new treatments and eventually a cure for polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia and myelofibrosis, known collectively as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN).  You give hope and promise of future breakthroughs that will improve the lives of those living with an MPN."

That certainly lends a nice perspective to my work on this project. To give hope and promise to a community of people who are burdened with such a terrible disease.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pictures

Today is a day of pictures. Hopefully you like them; I think some of them are fairly good, for a guy who has never really done product photography. My plan is to work all day in hour long sessions on this.

Click on each photo to get a larger version.

First up, some Gayle Bradley Folder 2 post-customization work. The GB is part of the first-place prize package.


Clip Side. Look closely at the blade, you will see the yin-yang reflection in the edge




Presentation side.



View from above. Note the blade centering; there is no blade play when open. Note also how Steve "sandwiched" scale construction / view, working on the blacked out liners with a thin scale of orange and the final outer scales. 
This is an extensive amount of craftmanship!




Emerson CQC 8 Stonewashed blade, dual side grind, black G10 scales - part of the 2nd place package.

Emerson CQC 8, clip side.


Emerson CQC 8, presentation side.


Group Shot - not the best picture. Long story behind the various problems I encountered; I'm not going to document that, as there is still a risk of a machine crash.

A crash as in my laptop crashing from the car while driving on the freeway.


Gayle Bradley, Emerson, Manix




Notes on the photographic process:

I'm including these more advanced notes for any folks learning photography. As a rule, these notes will be boring.

These photos are shot with a true macro lens, which is why I can generate larger than life, high quality pictures. There is a cost to this (besides equipment just consuming every dime of my money): on shots with a greater depth of field, either the front or the back of the shot will be out of focus.

This is just a cost of doing true macro photography. You can pay the cost in about two ways: one is the way I've chosen for now: having one part of the image out of focus. The other way to pay the piper is to perform a technique called photo stacking, in which multiple shots of the same image are taken, and the focus is set to different points for each shot. 

These shots are then stitched together, much like what is done with panorama photos. Each photo takes quite a bit of time to produce using this method - which is precisely why I've chosen not to do it.

Lighting.

Lighting for the solo GB folder shots, section 1: thick frosted plate glass as surface, covered with muslin sheet. Continuous (non-strobe) lights, variable intensity and temp. Top light behind white umbrella, set to 5000K and 100%; bottom light bare, barn doors positioned for reflection, 5000k, 100%. These are 500w LED based. Moved to using the sheet for daytime shooting. If shooting with no ambient light, then eliminate sheet, decrease bottom light intensity. Trying to get just enough glare-free light to the underside of the subjects to lend a 360 degree light source appearance.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Update: New Processing

Reserving a Ticket

Follow these steps to reserve your ticket:

1. Fill out the reservation form, by clicking on the URL to Reserve a Ticket 
2. Make a donation to GoFundMe. The url is https://gofundme.com/bladesagainstmpns
3. If you have any problems, notify strongmanbob@gmail.com
4. You will receive an email from strongmanbob@gmail.com with your ticket number. The wait time for this will vary depending on a number of factors.
5. That's it!
6. When we have a drawing, we will let you know via email. The drawing is set for 7/5.