RWP was born in Manchester, in the north of England, in the late 1950s, so he is very old. He really liked the north of England, which by 1965 was hip and had three TV channels, and where he went to a coed school. His parents, for reasons best known to themselves, then yanked him away, to Belfast and then Dublin, which had one TV channel that started up at 6 pm with the Angelus (Catholic call to prayer). He also had to go to an all boys school, where he realized he really missed girls. This probably let him focus on schoolwork, though, and at age 19, after he had finished college, he set off for America, where he still resides. He has a bachelors degree in biochemistry and a Ph.D. from Harvard in biophysics, and has lived also in Mainz, Germany, Setauket NY, and Richland WA. He currently divides his time between Nebraska, Rosslyn VA, and Florida.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Something personal, if you'll forgive me.

About a year ago, I was operated on to remove an ugly-looking mass from my intestines. It turned out to contain an adenocarcinoma, but fortunately only at stage 1; the carcinoma hadn't migrated to the lymph nodes, and possibly hadn't even made it through the mucosal wall. I contracted no fewer than two postoperative infections, and for the last year have been putting up with continual blood tests and colonoscopies and finally a CAT scan. It's been tedious as all hell. The good news is I got the CAT scan results today, and I'm apparently free of cancer. We seem to have got that sucker before it metastatized. Mostly it was just pure dumb luck, but if you're 50 or older, get a colonoscopy, folks. It probably saved my life.

The bad news is the building in which I work seems to have housed a large number of cancers in the last 20 years, including no fewer than 4 cases of almost-inevitably deadly pancreatic cancer. There is epidemiological evidence chemists are unusually susceptible to pancreatic cancer, but 4 cases is still awfully high. An epidemiological report is forthcoming, and I expect it to say there's nothing unusual (the state epidemiologist is not going to finger the state university), but one has to ask oneself, how badly does one want to continue working in a place that seems to kill people?

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