Lyme disease

So two weeks ago I wake at 3:30 am to make a 6 am flight out of Boston to RTP and in the grog-state of the shower I realize that something hurts in my right armpit. [It starts to get gross here, but bear with me] In my dark o’clock stupidity I keep showering and think, “My armpit hair is tangled.”

Right. Rocket scientist. So get out, dry off, head to the sink and decide to inspect. Aha. Little thing the size of sesame seed. I have a passenger.

Now what? First thought it get it off NOW!! I hate the creepy crawly — but I also know if I botch the removal I could aggravate the situation. The entire time the words “Lyme Disease” are rolling through my mind. Abnormally warm weather, beach walks with the dogs, one of which sleeps in bed next to me … This is not a common Wood Tick, this is the itty-bitty one (that’s a dime up there for size comparison), the kind that lead to a massive world of hurt if they leave behind their spirochete which sparks a nasty bout of neurological disease that, if undetected and treated, can literally ruin your life.

Richard Gerstner, brother of ex-IBM Chairman, Lou Gerstner, lost an equally promising career after his Lyme Disease went untreated. A lot of people in New England have suffered, and now it appears the little buggers have settled into Cotuit, if they haven’t been here for years already. Some places, like Naushon Island, are veritable Lyme Disease epicenters.

Anyway, back to the bathroom: so I grab a pair of tweezers, tug, tug harder, tug harder still, and bang, off it comes, saved in an envelope for future identification. This is bad, I think. And while waiting for a connection four hours later at JFK, I text message my college buddy the plastic surgeon for advice.

“WAIT TWO WEEKS. WATCH FOR RASH. THEN ANTIBIOTICS”

So, I calm down, my armpit hurts, and then this past week, right on schedule, I get a rash. A real doozy. Right on my face. Feels like someone took a belt sander to it. So, off to the Web for some self-diagnosis and yep, I have a case of Erythema migrans.

Back to my doctor buddy and I am on antibiotics for three weeks.

The Wikipedia yields this astonishing “fact”: Lyme Disease is the fastest growing infectious disease in the United States. it’s in 49 states, so my initial thought that this was a southern New England phenomenon is dead wrong. The Wikipedia entry on the disease also indicates there is a big debate going on about how to treat it.

Let’s hope I caught it in time. And the dog will continue to sleep in the bed.

One Week of Crackberry — initial thoughts

I thought I would hate the Blackberry experience — I always pitied those poor people huddled over their clunky devices, email being forced upon them wherever they went — so I resisted and was just as happy as can be with a Treo for past three years.

I’ve been plagued with Notes as my corporate collaboration glue since 2000 when I joined McKinsey (I have yet to work for a Microsoft Outlook/Exchange enabled organization) and at IDG my Treo was supported by some third-party synch software that permitted me to pull my mail from the corporate servers when I wanted to.

I viewed Blackberries as electronic leashes, a true get-a-life tool for people who think it’s cool to check email while on vacation, who check their messages while at social events, in short, workaholic losers. I sort of cheered when RIM was getting sued, feeling it was a partisan position to be in the cooler camp with the Treo.

Alas, Lenovo’s IT department does not support the Treo, so I muddled along for a year with no mobile Notes capabilities. Last weekend, driven in part to get a true quad-band GSM service so I could roam internationally, I switched myself and the family to Cingular (now AT&T), returning to the GSM provider I used from 2001-2003 when I was in Switzerland and last needed good international coverage. Back then I couldn’t get an AT&T signal in the house — a bit of a problem — so I was eager to dump them and go with a provider that could.

But I digress — I got authorized to enable my Notes account on a Blackberry Pearl — the high end, candy-bar form factor phone, with a tiny trackball pointer interface (that looks like a pearl). After a fairly bureaucratic set up procedure I finally was pulling email by Wednesday.

Here’s the quick review:

  • If I don’t use the phone constantly it goes into auto-lock and requires me to pound in my eight-character Notes password (an alpha-numeric combination). This is an utter and complete pain in the ass. A colleague beefed about this onerous “security” requirement and told me when he beefed to the IT Gods that he could use his phone in his car, he was told he wasn’t supposed to use his phone in his car.
  • Getting email and calendar updates is a good thing and makes me less itchy when I am AWK (“away from keyboard” in World of Warcraft parlance)
  • The phone is ergonomically the best I have owned
  • It’s Bluetooth is vastly superior to the Treo. The Treo had a three foot radius, the Pearl is more like 30 feet.
  • The camera is better than the Treo
  • The web browser is weird
  • I can’t figure out how to enable my Churbuck.com and GMail mail into it.
  • I need to set up voice dialing so I can use it in the car.
  • I still hate cell phones and look forward to a disconnected retirement.

[I’d post a picture of it, but RIM has decided not to make any pictures available from its Flash website. Nice site guys, but if you want bloggers to shower you with love, consider a simple assets page with all your product imagery, video tours, etc. available under a CC license)

Proud father

My daughter was just accepted, early decision, to the University of Virginia, her first choice. Aside from being glad she can breathe a deep sigh of relief and relax a little bit (she’s been grinding hard on her studies and is a high honors student), I am just as pleased as can be.