Stuff

MySQL engineer needs $400,000 for son’s bone marrow transplant

I ran into this on BoingBoing, and thought I’d repeat it here for anyone who’s listening:

Andrii and Ivan

Andrii and Ivan

The MySQL community — who create, maintain and support the leading free database — are raising funds for Andrii Nikitin, a MySQL support engineer in Ukraine whose little boy, Ivan, needs a $400,000 bone-barrow transplant.

“My family got bad news – doctors said allogenic bone marrow transplantation is the only chance for my son Ivan.

“8 months of heavy and expensive immune suppression brought some positive results so we hoped that recovering is just question of time.

“Ivan is very brave boy – not every human meets so much suffering during whole life, like Ivan already met in his 2,5 years. But long road is still in front of us to get full recover – we are ready to come it through.

“Ukrainian clinics have no technical possibility to do such complex operation, so we need 150-250K EUR for Israel or European or US clinic. The final decision will be made considering amount we able to find. Perhaps my family is able to get ~60% of that by selling the flat where parents leave and some other goods, but we still require external help.”

Please consider chipping in a few bucks to help Ivan and Andrii out, anything helps! 🙂

Direction

Things are winding down here… I’m moving into a new and very different house in the next 3 weeks. While school remains the same, I recently switched positions at work, and in a few months I will also leave the country for a whole semester. Needless to say, a lot is changing.

But I’m also at one of those points where I can’t really see what lies beyond the next year or so. I’m questioning my priorities as they relate to school, careers, and relationships.

I can’t tell if I want to have a tech career, and if I do, do I want to work for a big company? A startup? Freelance? Also, a very big part of me knows that I get more enjoyment out of my music. Josiah (our guitarist/lyricist) has spent the last few months making big steps towards doing music full-time. I admire his resolve towards making that happen, and I really want to do the same – but I’m not at a point where I can do it yet. I know that I can keep making steps in that direction, but that comes with the opportunity cost of other things that are important to me.

Once or twice a year, I come back to the point where I blog about “doing too much” – spreading myself too thin to the point where I’m not able to really specialize in anything. I always had the feeling that as I got to higher levels of education, or that as I matured, these things would sort themselves out and I’d discover my true “calling.” That may still turn out to be true, but I’m starting to consider the possibility that it’s not a symptom of me being young and restless, but rather a distinctive part of who I am. Maybe my appreciation and understanding of technology, arts and humanities is supposed to be too wide to really concentrate on one area and forget about the rest. If so, I really don’t know how that should translate into the way I live my life, but I think that it’s something that bears more investigation.

I know that some of this stuff can take a lifetime to really figure out, and that some of my questions will never be answered. But I do feel a mild anxiety about choosing a path while I still have a lot of freedom to move around. I don’t have the need to completely support myself with a job yet, and I don’t have a family to care for. The next few years will be the most opportune time to drop everything and try my hand at something else: to live in Spain, to be a full-time musician, to be a Peace Corps Volunteer, to be a freelance web designer/developer.

Ultimately, I have a gut feeling that everything will turn out well, and that I’m just working myself up over it because I can never accept uncertainty until I have a full contingency plan laid out. I’ll be off to a good start once I have that CIS degree, and I won’t let myself assume the big financial or familial responsibilities until I’ve found the things that resonate best with my personality.

OK, enough. I think I’m gonna go drink a steaming cup of Stop Worrying And Just Enjoy Life, Dammit! now.

Long Hair, Long Time

I just noticed that my bangs get in my eyes when I tilt my head down to read a textbook. This means one of two things:

  1. I am due for a haircut
  2. I have been due for a haircut for a while, and just haven’t noticed because it’s been so long since I last read out of a textbook.

Either way, it’s not good.

College Student Schools Ashcroft on Torture

John Ashcroft spoke at Knox college – a rather liberal school. There was, as expected, a great deal of people protesting his visit, with varying levels of maturity. Howerver, one student had a very revealing exchange with Ashcroft:

ME: First off, Mr. Ashcroft, I’d like to apologize for the rudeness of some of my fellow students. It was uncalled for–we can disagree civilly, we don’t need that. (round of applause from the audience, and Ashcroft smiles) I have here in my hand two documents. One of them, you know, is the text of the United Nations Convention against Torture, which, point of interest, says nothing about “lasting physical damage”…
ASHCROFT: (interrupting) Do you have the Senate reservations to it?
ME: No, I don’t. Do you happen to know what they are?
ASHCROFT: (angrily) I don’t have them memorized, no. I don’t have time to go around memorizing random legal facts. I just don’t want these people in the audience to go away saying, “He was wrong, she had the proof right in her hand!” Because that’s not true. It’s a lie. If you don’t have the reservations, you don’t have anything. Now, if you want to bring them another time, we can talk, but…
ME: Actually, Mr. Ashcroft, my question was about this other document. (laughter and applause) This other document is a section from the judgment of the Tokyo War Tribunal. After WWII, the Tokyo Tribunal was basically the Nuremberg Trials for Japan. Many Japanese leaders were put on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture. And among the tortures listed was the “water treatment,” which we nowadays call waterboarding…
ASHCROFT: (interrupting) This is a speech, not a question. I don’t mind, but it’s not a question.
ME: It will be, sir, just give me a moment. The judgment describes this water treatment, and I quote, “the victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach.” One man, Yukio Asano, was sentenced to fifteen years hard labor by the allies for waterboarding American troops to obtain information. Since Yukio Asano was trying to get information to help defend his country–exactly what you, Mr. Ashcroft, say is acceptible for Americans to do–do you believe that his sentence was unjust? (boisterous applause and shouts of “Good question!”)
ASHCROFT: (angrily) Now, listen here. You’re comparing apples and oranges, apples and oranges. We don’t do anything like what you described.
ME: I’m sorry, I was under the impression that we still use the method of putting a cloth over someone’s face and pouring water down their throat…
ASHCROFT: (interrupting, red-faced, shouting) Pouring! Pouring! Did you hear what she said? “Putting a cloth over someone’s face and pouring water on them.” That’s not what you said before! Read that again, what you said before!
ME: Sir, other reports of the time say…
ASHCROFT: (shouting) Read what you said before! (cries of “Answer her fucking question!” from the audience) Read it!
ME: (firmly) Mr. Ashcroft, please answer the question.
ASHCROFT: (shouting) Read it back!
ME: “The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position; and water was forced through his mouth and nostrils into his lungs and stomach.”
ASHCROFT: (shouting) You hear that? You hear it? “Forced!” If you can’t tell the difference between forcing and pouring…does this college have an anatomy class? If you can’t tell the difference between forcing and pouring…
ME: (firmly and loudly) Mr. Ashcroft, do you believe that Yukio Asano’s sentence was unjust? Answer the question. (pause)
ASHCROFT: (more restrained) It’s not a fair question; there’s no comparison. Next question! (loud chorus of boos from the audience)

The student has a detailed account of the entire event, with pictures and video, here.

I’ve said it before, but it bears saying again: Torture is not a political issue. Our own inhumanity encourages our adversaries to treat us with the same evil. This madness must be stopped.

Calm

I spend way too much time making plans for my future. Much of my finite existence is spent storing up for something better for myself in the future. And in all of that time, I think I let a lot of precious moments pass by.

For some reason, I have recently felt existence – both my own and that of everyone and everything around me – from a much less linear perspective of time. Yes, there is the past, which is out of my control. There is the near future, which I spend most of my waking hours trying to control. But there is also the vast amount of the infinite future which I cannot control. My own death is inevitable, and in the grand scheme of things, even the most meaningful life will have minute significance in comparison to eternity.

So why waste time worrying about the little things? Surely, this is no excuse to abandon all care for things that are important. But right now, at least for a short time before I throw myself back into the mundane routine, I recognize that I should not let the relatively insignificant need to control my immediate future define me. When I think, “Who am I?” I shouldn’t worry about petty things like “I go to CSU,” or “I’m trying to get into a career in music and/or technology.” I’d much rather recognize the really important things for what they are, and be defined by those things:

  • How have I loved the people around me?
  • How have I served and sacrificed to benefit others?
  • How much of my short existence was I truly aware of these important things, and how much time did I waste on the mundane and irrelevant?
The world today seems to try its best to distract us from these things that really matter. It emphasizes the rat race, the desire to get ahead and procure power, prosperity, and success for yourself. It seems to keep us as busy as possible so that we rarely take the time to really think about what we are, and what we can best do with our short existence.