My Mom: A strong, brave woman fighting leukemia - can you help?

February 25, 2008

Me and Mom

Last week I learned that my Mom may not live to see 2009.

Previously I had written about my Mom, an ovarian cancer survivor who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia on December 6, 2007. She underwent chemotherapy almost immediately after and left the hospital after 31 days there with the doctor saying her Leukemia was in remission. It wasn’t.

As I write this now, my Mom is finishing another round of chemotherapy, and hopefully will be back home by Wednesday. She’s currently feeling the effects of this round of chemo, with the nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and other side effects that go along with it.

My wife and I have spent the last 10 days or so here in Southern California with my parents, spending time with my Mom at the hospital and learning as much as we can about the disease. Last week, along with my sister, we met with the doctor that has been directing the effort to get a bone marrow transplant set up for her.

The doctor’s name is Peter Falk, which is good for a laugh at a time when laughter can be a bit forced. We all sat as he outlined my mother’s situation and asked him questions about what can be expected.

With just chemotherapy, there is a chance she will live a year or less. With a bone marrow transplant, a possibility of a cure exists, but the procedure is brutal with myriad potential complications. It is by no means she would survive that cure, especially at the age of 67. There are currently 24 potential donors, and we will find out soon whether any of them are a close enough match for my Mom.

Being a news junkie, I see and write about the death of others more often than I’d like. And no life is more important than another. But this is my Mom. And I love her more than I could ever express in a blog post. And the world would not be lessened if she wasn’t part of it for as long as possible.

My Mom is a 4-foot-11, 120-pound powerhouse. She handled a brutal chemo treatment and two surgeries to defeat ovarian cancer. She cares about others far more than she cares about herself, and even now from her hospital bed her main concerns are how everyone is is doing.

My Mom is as intelligent a woman as I have ever known, and my wife has wistfully imagined what she could have accomplished if her life was one that led her to college and career. She would have been brilliant in any field, but as any son is selfish of his mother, I’m glad she saved her brilliance for raising me and my sisters.

My Mom is as competitive a person as you will meet, and will thrash just about anyone - myself included - in Scrabble. But whether it’s cards, board games, bingo or anything else, you can always see a small look of pain the few times she loses.

My Mom loves Jeff Gordon and the Pittsburgh Steelers. And if you want to find deals shopping, my Mom will find them.

My Mom is always one of the first to respond when anyone has any problem, health or otherwise. She is quick to donate her time to worthy causes.

My Mom has loved and been married to my Dad for nearly 50 years.

My Mom is a spectacular, wonderful woman, and I want her to stay around to enjoy her grandchildren and her great-grandchild.

We’ve had a lot of questions about how people can help, and I’d like to point you in a couple of directions. One, should my Mom undergo the bone marrow transplant, she will need blood and platelets. This is something the nation always needs actually, and we advise contacting your local American Red Cross, which you can find by clicking here. It is an easy to navigate Web site, but if you need to talk to someone in person, call them at 800-RED-CROSS.

As for donating bone marrow, here is a great place where you can learn nearly everything you need to know about being a donor and the how the transplant works. It’s the National Marrow Donor Program and can be found at You can contact their Donor Advocacy Program here: 1 (800) 654-1247 and they will get back to you promptly and answer any questions you may have.

Here is an easy way to find out about where to find a donor drive near you. Go to this page and look on the right-hand side of the page. You will see a ‘Find a Donor Drive’ box, where you can enter your zip code and find the closest place to get on the registry. It does not involve drawing blood, and usually just a swab from your inner cheek will give them the DNA they need.

To get on the registry will cost $52 to get the work done on your sample. So if you are someone who doesn’t qualify as a donor, giving money to this program is also very valuable, as it can defray costs for others. Also, we are hoping in the future to have a drive in my mother’s name both here in the High Desert of California, and possibly in Pittsburgh, as well. I will keep you posted.

There’s a long road ahead for my Mom and Dad and for everyone that loves them, and we truly appreciate your thoughts, prayers and kind words. For those that have asked what they can do and said that they wish they could do more, I’d strongly advise going to and and reading everything they have. Being educated on the subject of leukemia and on bone marrow transplants will truly help you feel more connected to my Mom during this journey.

But basically, this post is a plea for help. Any type of help you can give would be wonderful. If you’re interested in starting a donor drive in your area, contact Pat Conlee at the National Marrow Donor Program at (714) 800-1630. She has been a wonderful, caring resource for me during this time, and I plan to work with her now and in the future to help those that need marrow transplants, and to help find ways to get people on their registry without having to pay the $52 fee.

Also, my Mom has a Web site up where people can share their words with her. If you send me an e-mail at wkwolfrum(at)gmail(dot)com, I’ll give you the information for that site. But whether it’s money, blood, bone marrow, kind words or prayers, anything you can offer during this time will be gladly accepted and appreciated. And for those of you with Web sites, if you could link to this post that would be wonderful.

There are still many decisions yet to be made and many forks in the road that will need to be navigated, but writing this from my Mom’s home, I can truly say we have an abundance of hope, love and optimism. And every kind word, thought or prayer adds to that.

My Mom is amazingly strong and facing this illness with a bravery I could never imagine having. And she will beat this. But even with her amazing strength and bravery, she needs help to do it from doctors, nurses, family, friends, and well-meaning strangers.

Thank you again, and should you have any questions, please feel free to send me an e-mail - wkwolfrum(at)gmail(dot)com.


Laika the Pit Bull has a little lamb

February 22, 2008

Recently, the story of how Michael Vick’s fighting pit bulls had been rescued and retrained to the point of being adoptable gave all who love the breed a reason to smile.

Still, however, many commentators still harbor a fear of pit bulls to the point of terror. And while these strong dogs can look imposing, and can be trained by ugly humans to kill one another and have violent temperaments, many have come to the defense of the pit bull, pointing out their loyalty, loving nature and intelligence.

And like other mammals, pit bulls dote on their young. Even when their young happens to be a lamb.

From in Brazil comes the story of Laika, a seven-year-old pit bull from Mato Grosso, that heard the cries of Tainá, a young lamb. Laika came to the little lamb’s rescue and began producing milk for the lamb to suckle. More than that even, the pair are now inseparable. Laika, who gave birth to her only litter six years ago, is now an adopted mother, as well.

Enjoy the video and photos of Laika and Tainá, and try to remember them the next time you feel an irrational fear of a dog breed that has so much love to share, it’s willing to share it with another species if need be.

Laika and lamb

See the video of Laika and Tainá by clicking here.

Of course, if pit bulls and lambs aren’t your thing, then maybe you’ll appreciate Nina and her friend Xuxinha the cat, who’ve become close pals at a university in São Paulo:

Xuxinha and Nina


Name That Logical Fallacy: Um, who said the threat was over?

February 14, 2008

Hello everyone and welcome to “Name That Logical Fallacy,” the blog post totally ripped off from a segment of the podcast “Skeptics Guide to the Universe.”

Here’s today’s quote:

“It strikes me as hard to accept that anybody would believe the threat is over. There is nothing these terrorists are doing or saying that could lead a reasonable person to believe that they have somehow lost interest.”

- Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, doing his part to terrorize the nation and the world.

Now it’s up to you: Name That Logical Fallacy!


Common-alities: Feb. 12, 2008

February 12, 2008

Common-alities Feb. 12, 2008


Des_soldats_US_pratiquaient_le_waterboarding_au_Vietnam.jpg (Note: This image was pulled from Wikimedia Commons after I used it. You can see the photo and read the story behind the incident by clicking here),


US judge steps in to torture row (BBC News)

Click here to learn more about Common-alities.


An open letter to Duchess, my Australian Shepherd

February 11, 2008

Dear Duchess, I’m sorry I can’t spend all my time playing soccer with you.

Duchess soccer ball

And I’m sorry Max’s toy-sucking addiction keeps him from playing with you.

Max toy

And I’m sorry that Afonso’s recent conversion keeps him from playing with you.

Afonso conversion

So I’m sorry Duchess, but keep working on your game, you have real talent.


Mark Cuban shows off his intellectual dishonesty in prompt to Bloomberg

February 11, 2008

From afar, I guess I like Mark Cuban. The owner of the Dallas Mavericks is a character, and in a sports world notorious for taking itself far too seriously, a little character can go a long way.

I say “from afar” because I’m sure if I actually knew Cuban, I’d find him horrifyingly grinding and irritating. He seems to be one of those twitchy, type-A types that believes every last one of the world’s problems can be solved if you just scream “work harder!” loud and often enough.

But hey, the dude won the Internet lottery and gets to be a billionaire. Good for him. He’s a salesman and a damned good one, and really doesn’t seem like a bad guy.

But being a billionaire, entrepreneur and NBA team owner is no excuse to be ignorant. Because upon first reading of Cuban’s post “My Presidential Endorsement” (which, he then refuses to make), I was struck by how ill-informed and, well, stupid he sounds in talking politics:

I’ve looked at the websites of current and previous candidates to get an understanding of their platforms. They all have positions, some of which I agree with, some of which I don’t. But there is one thing that is missing from each and everyone of them, any manner of implementation. Health care, spending cuts, retaining or repealing tax cuts, keeping or removing troops, the soundbites with pretty numbers never end. [emphasis mine] Not a single candidate provides details on how exactly they are going to accomplish anything.

Now that’s some great pandering to the people and all, Mark, but the fact is:

Hillary Clinton

-Plan for Healthcare (PDF)

-Plan to end the War on Iraq

-Other issues, with lots and lots of details

Barack Obama

-Plan for Healthcare (PDF)

-Plan to end the War on Iraq (PDF)

-Other issues, with lots and lots of details

Heck, even John McCain has let his stand on what he plans to do if elected be known. As has Mike Huckabee.

But now, more from Mark:

It reminds me of business plans I get from kids who tell me about their vision and project all kinds of numbers leading to grand results. They can site historical facts and figures, but when it comes time to get into details of exactly how they are going to execute on their plans, the response is basically that they will figure it out as they go. I wouldn’t invest in a business that is winging it any more than I want to vote for a presidential candidate that is winging it.

Unfortunately , they are all winging it. i have no question that they have every detail about how to spend their campaign contributions on advertising planned out. I have yet to see details on how they plan to accomplish all their great promises they are making to voters. That scares me.

Basically, Cuban is saying that politicians are all just a bunch of phonies who speak in generalities while never making a stand. He does this by speaking in generalities and not making a stand. And let us not talk about being scared. After all, Cuban thinks Ayn Rand had all the answers.

Anyway, Cuban goes on to take random swipes at McCain and Ron Paul before getting to his nut graph:

So here is my hope. My hope is that the entire primary process is just the preseason. That its nothing more than an expensive introduction to the Republican and Democratic candidates and once they have picked their winner, a wealthy individual will nominate them self to compete with the 2 parties and run for President.

[Emphasis his] Are you listening Mayor Bloomberg ? For less than the cost of opening a tent pole movie, you can change the status quo. I’m not saying that I’m going to vote for you yet. As I said above, the devil is in the details. But, I’m betting that unlike the current choices, you recognize the difference between politics and results.

Now, when I first read this, I wondered what the hell Cuban was babbling about? Bloomberg? Are you serious? Jeff Fecke has generated more excitement as a Presidential candidate than Michael Bloomberg has. And Fecke didn’t even single-handedly bury Unity08.

Ah, but there’s the crux of the matter: According to Wikipedia (and a solitary mention in a Cuban blog post about a year ago) Cuban “holds a position on the Unity08 political organization’s advisory council.”

And while Unity08 has gone to the place that astroturf campaigns go when they die, Bloomberg is still considered a potential Independent candidate - at least in Brownsdale, Minn. And taking a look at Google News, it’s easy to see that right about now, Bloomberg’s several supporters are starting to make noises that he should run, and should make his candidacy known sooner rather than later.

So basically, what Mark Cuban did was write a PR blog for Michael Bloomberg, while trashing the other candidates based on lies, while hiding his true agenda. Because Cuban isn’t so much ignorant, just exceedingly intellectually dishonest, it seems.

In the end, it just makes me realize that I don’t really like Cuban. Because unethical liars are just unlikable. Even from afar.


Crossposted at Shakesville

For today’s athletes, silence is golden - and for some, mandatory

February 11, 2008

As someone who has followed sports his entire life, the disappearance of the activist athlete has been one of the most disturbing trends in today’s over-hyped and often soulless world of sport.

Gone are the days of Tommie Smith and John Carlos risking their careers and lives to make a simple, non-violent display at the Olympic Games. Gone are athletes like Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Bill Walton and Muhammed Ali, who would make stands on principle and make their feelings known about politics and the world around them.

Instead, today’s athletes model themselves after those like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods - brilliant, intelligent athletes who would never take a risk to upend their corporate image.

As Dre Cummings wrote about Tiger Woods at the Sports Law Blog almost a year ago:

… it seems abundantly clear why the Activist Athlete has disappeared: Corporate Endorsements (and the potential for superstar athletes to become “billionaires”). Woods’ states in [Sports Illustrated] when asked about his business acumen and decisions: “It all depends on how much risk you want to take on. . . The things I do are very conservative. . . . I guess you don’t become billionaires by making bad decisions.”

Woods cemented his standing as a non-activist by refusing to get involved in the fray when Golf Channel Announcer Kelly Tilghman joked that young golfers needed to take Woods to a back alley and lynch him to eliminate him as competition. And he kept quiet after Golf Week magazine ran a noose on its cover to try and take advantage of the incident.

In a burst of hyperbolic pride, Earl Woods once said that his gifted son “will do more than any other man in history to change the course of humanity.”

“He’s the bridge between the East and the West. There is no limit because he has the guidance. I don’t know yet exactly what form this will take. But he is the Chosen One. He’ll have the power to impact nations. Not people. Nations. The world is just getting a taste of his power,” Earl Woods said of his then-young son.

But the simple fact is this - Tiger Woods will do nothing to impact nations or impact history other than win golf tournaments and sell products. He has chosen not to be an activist.

But at least he has that choice. Because the way it appears now, future athletes will not only be lured away from speaking out, they won’t even be allowed to. Because with the Olympics heading to China this year, a prominent “democracy” has already made it completely clear it will not stand for its athletes giving their opinions on the vast array of human rights’ abuses for which China is notorious.


British athletes selected for this year’s Olympic Games in Beijing will be asked to sign a contract that forbids them from criticizing China’s human rights record.

British Olympic Association chief executive Clegg says the team must conform to an appropriate code of conduct.

Graham Nathan, spokesman for the British Olympics Association (BOA), told CNN that “British athletes will have to sign a contract promising not to comment on any politically sensitive issues.”

That the Olympics is even to be held in China is a travesty and many groups, including Reporters without Borders have protested and called for boycotts.

But you won’t hear much, if any, protests from prominent athletes. They won’t want to risk it. Because now, speaking out in any way means an athlete is not just taking a chance of upsetting corporate powers - they’re also being demanded by their governments to keep their mouths shut.

John Carlos had this to say during the aftermath of his raised-hand salute with Smith:

“We’re sort of show horses out there for the white people. They give us peanuts, pat us on the back and say, ‘Boy, you did fine.’ ”

While Carlos was referring to black athletes at the time, the message now rings true for all athletes. Because the message given by the British Olympic Association is crystal clear and the same message the corporate world has been sending out for years now: Athletes are show horses. If they do well, they will be rewarded. But if they forget their place and say the wrong thing, they risk losing more than medals.

Because in the 2008 Olympics in China and in sports in general, only silence will allow an athlete to be golden.


Crossposted at Shakesville

Dear Rush Limbaugh, John McCain needs a water boy

February 7, 2008

“I’m here to tell you, if either of these two guys get the nomination, it’s going to destroy the Republican Party, it’s going to change it forever, be the end of it. A lot of people aren’t going to vote. You watch.”

-Rush Limbaugh, last month.

Dear Rush, Here’s your candidate, he’s the one on the right (get it?):

Hug a McCain

Now carry his water like the good little foot soldier you’ve admitted being.

water carrier

Damn, this is going to be fun.


Help those shattered by America’s deadliest tornado outbreak in 20 years

February 7, 2008

From CNN:

JACKSON, Tennessee (CNN) — Tornadoes and storms in the mid-South have killed 54 people since Tuesday evening in the deadliest tornado outbreak in the United States in more than 20 years.

The storms ripped apart homes and trapped residents of university dorms and a retirement home in debris.

The trail of death stretched across four states, with four people killed in Alabama, 13 in Arkansas, seven in Kentucky and 30 in Tennessee.

Blogger MonkeyFister has helped initiate a call for help. Here’s a couple suggestions on where to send donations. Every little bit helps people who have lost everything, including loved ones:

American Red Cross
Mid-South Chapter
1400 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38104
Phone: (901)726-1690


United Way of the Mid-South
Phone in a donation at: (901) 433-4300.

Our best wishes go out to those affected by these deadly storms.


Next President will know you far better than you know her or him

February 5, 2008

When it comes right down to it, how much do we really know about the person we’ll elect to the most important job in the nation? Whether it’s Obama, Clinton, McCain or Romney, our knowledge of those racing for the nation’s top office is quite limited. We know what they and the media let us know basically.

But whether it’s a Democrat or Republican ushered into office, make no mistake, they will know plenty about you:

“FBI wants palm prints, eye scans, tattoo mapping”

CLARKSBURG, West Virginia (CNN) — The FBI is gearing up to create a massive computer database of people’s physical characteristics, all part of an effort the bureau says to better identify criminals and terrorists.

But it’s an issue that raises major privacy concerns — what one civil liberties expert says should concern all Americans.

The bureau is expected to announce in coming days the awarding of a $1 billion, 10-year contract to help create the database that will compile an array of biometric information — from palm prints to eye scans.

Kimberly Del Greco, the FBI’s Biometric Services section chief, said adding to the database is “important to protect the borders to keep the terrorists out, protect our citizens, our neighbors, our children so they can have good jobs, and have a safe country to live in.”

But it’s unnerving to privacy experts.

“It’s the beginning of the surveillance society where you can be tracked anywhere, any time and all your movements, and eventually all your activities will be tracked and noted and correlated,” said Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Technology and Liberty Project.

As Jamie at Intoxination wrote, Welcome to the Surveillance Society. While one can still hope that the future will bring change, the simple fact is this:

The United States is currently a nation that will cut health care benefits well before it stops investing in technologies to spy on its own citizens. And while investing more for more wars on more fronts. That is the reality. And just hoping that one of the two U.S. Political Parties will put a stop to the obliteration of your civil rights means they know you far better than you know them.


Bush’s bubble and suicidal soldiers

February 3, 2008

“… yeah, there’s a bubble but life’s pretty comfortable inside the bubble.”

- George W. Bush to Fox News on the confinements of his presidency.

“As my family was preparing for a 2005 Thanksgiving meal, our son Timothy was lying on the floor, slowly bleeding to death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. His war was now over.”

- Timothy’s father, Mike Bowman, in testimony to a House Veterans’ Affairs committee hearing in December. Suicide rates for soldiers have gone up five-fold since the beginning of the Iraq Occupation.


Al-Qaeda No. 3 men - the Spinal Tap drummers of our era

February 1, 2008

One day, there will be a study that shows that Al-Qaeda’s No. 3 leaders just naturally explode every six months or so. Until that day, however, we just need to accept that the terrorist organization has a personnel problem in line with Spinal Tap and its huge pile of dead drummers.

A senior al Qaeda terrorist who allegedly plotted and carried out attacks against U.S. and coalition forces was killed in Pakistan, a knowledgeable Western official and a military source told CNN Thursday.

He was identified as Abu Laith al-Libi, 41, who was on the military’s most wanted list.

Al-Libi was thought to have been involved in the February 2007 bombing at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan while Vice President Dick Cheney was visiting.

The knowledgeable Western official said al-Libi was “not far below the importance of the top two al Qaeda leaders” — Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

CNN Middle East analyst Octavia Nasr called al-Libi the third-ranking terrorist in al Qaeda and fourth in the world.

Winning the Global War of Civilizations (hey, hadn’t heard that phrase in a while, eh), one No. 3 man at a time.


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