0933: "Tattoo"

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fjornir
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby fjornir » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:43 pm UTC

I spend all day every workday trying to improve the treatment given to cancer patients. Sometimes I'll be hacking code late at night or wake up in the middle of the night stressing about something going on at work. Sometimes I'm working on something so far removed from the product that it's hard to associate it with the people who will have life-impacting interaction with the work I'm doing.

I'll say one thing though: fuck cancer.

rcox1
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby rcox1 » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:45 pm UTC

jpk wrote:
AvianMinded wrote:All of my friends are getting "tatted up" and I just don't understand it. How do you know you're going to like that for the rest of your life? I like the idea of a tattoo; a symbol so important that you'd dedicate a section of your body to that image. Awesome. But do you really think that you'll be that passionate about 'Where the Wild Things Are' in your mid-forties?


Most tattoos are shallow and meaningless. So are most people.
If someone decides to get a tattoo that strikes you as juvenile and ill-considered, maybe they're trying to tell you something. That's right: if you think their tattoo is stupid, you probably think they're stupid, and you should probably put your pants on and go, because it'll be really awkward later on. I mean, you stay the night, and in the morning, what? "I, uh, enjoyed that, but, um, that Smurfette tattoo? Really? Isn't that kind of dumb?" Or maybe you wait until after breakfast - hoping to soften the blow. But then you can see she's already really into you, and you think, well, ...


In college I found the girls with tattoos and piercing to be terribly interesting, funny, and intelligent. But that was college and it may be different with the general population

What I found to be a good indicator of shallowness was the amount of makeup and hairstyle. I mean, if one spends hours a day on make up and hair(i knew several women who did this), how much time is left for reading, contemplation, and meaningful conversation, not to mention playtime. I can say that in the morning what a person looks like is sometimes not forefront on my mind. And what is up with the feminine lilt that all the boys need to put in the front of their hair? Product much?

I feel sorry for anyone who is not passionate for where the wild things are in their mid forties, certainly not in the teens and twenties when everything kiddie is not cool, but being forty and not able to appreciate such a book show a significant lack of appreciation of the world in general.

As far as not having sex with people that do not meet some predefined criteria, that is just silly. If we are speaking of random casual sex, and one believes such a thing is appropriate, what difference does a tat make. If we are talking about a person one has been dating for a while, and one is thinking that this person might be a good person to spend significant quality time with, then, again, what is the issue with the tat. Unless of course in either case the interest is solely in the body, which begs the questions of the importance of shallowness. I mean the only issue I can see is that you would be embarrassed showing her off to your friends.

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jqavins
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby jqavins » Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:03 pm UTC

Kirby wrote:Wait a minute. Don't all electrons travel at the speed of light?

OK, I know this has been answered, but I think I can add a usefully organized summary and a little new perspective, so here goes.

I) There are two kinds of "mass":
  1. Rest Mass is the mass of an object standing still (in a given inertial reference frame.)
  2. Relativistic mass is the mass of an object in motion (in a given inertial reference frame) which is greater than its rest mass according to the inverse of the same factor that rules the length contraction and time dilation, y=sqrt(1-(v/c)^2) (That 'y' is actually supposed to be a lower case gamma.)
In some importance senses, the relativistic mass is the "truer" mass. The definition from Newtonian mechanics for momentum, p=mv, holds for relativistic m. I think that the kinetic energy, E=0.5mv^2 does as well for objects with non-zero rest mass (but I'm not sure, because it does not hold for particles with zero rest mass.)

II) That last sentence suggests the next thing. Since 1/y approches infinity as v approches c, any object with non-zero rest mass would approach infinite (relativistic) mass, momentum, and energy as it approches c. It, therefore, can never reach c. Refering to what started this whole thing, electrons have rest mass that is Really Small. Even under real world contitions, man-made machines can accelerate them to large fractions of c, but not all the way.

But there are also particles with no rest mass. In effect (but not in proper formal terms) they need 1/y to be infinite in order to "increase" their masses to anything at all. In other words, they can't exist if they are not moving at c. But when they are moving at c, they have mass, momentum, and energy. The photon is the most common and familiar of these particles. Neutrinos, the last I heard, might be like this, but nobody is altogether sure that they don't have some virtually undetectable rest mass.

III) Here's the thing that most people don't quite get, and I didn't get until about a week after the end of my course in special relativity: the "speed of light (in a vacuum)" is something of a misnomer. The term implies that this speed is special because it's how fast light goes. But in fact the reverse is true: c is a fundemental property of space, and it is light that's special because it goes that fast. Someone's recolection that there is a speed slightly greater than that of light which light can not reach because of a photon's mass is not true, but relates to this. This aledged greater speed would be the "special speed," c, and light would indeed fall ever so slightly short of it if photons had some ridiculously tiny positive rest mass. But they don't, and they do go at c.

IV) As for c getting smaller, it was stated that this is impossible because of the present definitions of the meter and second, though the same poster acknowledged that these units themselves could be changed by a change in the conditions of the universe. This is distorted. The definitions of the meter and second are such that the speed of light expressed in meters per second can't change. But the condition of the universe that might change causing the meter and second to do so as well is the "special speed" c itself. I haven't read anything myself about this hapening, but I wouldn't rule it out.

V) Is the path of a photon altered by gravity, or does it move in a straight line through curved space? It's gravity that curves space, or the curvature of space that creates gravity (take your pick) so the two are equivalent. So, which is the reason that photons can't escape a black hole? Take your pick.

Now, thinking about photons going directly away from a large mass and being effected by its gravity, one is tempted to think of the photon slowing down, but this is not possible. Instead, they lose energy and, as we all know, a photon with lower energy has a lower frequency. So it undergoes a somewhat dopler-like red-shift as it rises. If a photon within the event horizon of a black hole were on a course uabsolutely perfectly dead straght away from the center, uabsolutely perfectly dead parallel to the gravitational field so that it is not deflected at all, it would experience infinite red-shift just as it reached the event horizon, reaching zero energy and zero frequency, and thus be "red-shifted out of existance" as it were.
-- Joe
"[Some people don't believe in coincidence, but] I believe in coincidence. Coincidences happen every day. I just don't trust coincidence."
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woodswalker
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby woodswalker » Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:11 pm UTC

As a long time cancer survivor (26 years, roughly), and the bearer of a set of small blue dots on my leg, I loved this one! One of the best tools in surviving cancer is humor.

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charolastra
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby charolastra » Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:39 pm UTC

I don't think there is a judgment here against people with elective tattoos. I have a tattoo and I much prefer it to the scars I have from my cancer procedures. After I hit remission and my body can take it, I'll be getting another tattoo which will include the flower that saved my life.

It's silly- one of the first things I thought about when I was told I had cancer was the radiation tattoo. That was before I found out that my cancer had spread so far that radiation was not going to be an option and that I would have 8 months of chemo instead. It's funny, how the mind works.

To those of you who are joining just to post about how sick you are of cancer comics: trust me, we're sicker of them. And you want this kind of publicity. As it stands, 1 in 2 or 3 (depending on the studies) of us will have cancer at some point in our lives. For some of us, like Randall's fiance and myself, this happened in our 20s. For others, it's what will kill you in your 40s or beyond. You want cancer at the forefront of people's minds so all of these great minds can come together and figure out how to prevent and cure the various kinds of cancer. I don't want my kids born into a future world where they have that 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 chance. Nothing that Randall's fiance or I could have done or not done would change our chances of getting the cancers we got when we did, but that knowledge might be out there somewhere.

Of course I hope that's true for all other chronic and severe illnesses. Randall is dealing with cancer now - you could easily replace MS, kidney disease, or hundreds other in it's place.

zoomer
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby zoomer » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:16 pm UTC

I got my 6-dots tattoo 40 years ago as a kid. They used lead bricks to limit the beam to the “dotted line.” I didn’t think of a horse, but they wouldn’t let me irradiate a quarter, either. A glow-in-the-dark coin would have made me the coolest kid on the block.

I won, you will too.

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AvianMinded
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby AvianMinded » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:17 pm UTC

jpk wrote:
Most tattoos are shallow and meaningless. So are most people.
If someone decides to get a tattoo that strikes you as juvenile and ill-considered, maybe they're trying to tell you something. That's right: if you think their tattoo is stupid, you probably think they're stupid, and you should probably put your pants on and go, because it'll be really awkward later on. I mean, you stay the night, and in the morning, what? "I, uh, enjoyed that, but, um, that Smurfette tattoo? Really? Isn't that kind of dumb?" Or maybe you wait until after breakfast - hoping to soften the blow. But then you can see she's already really into you, and you think, well, I'll call her in a few hours and let her know that it's not going to work. But a few hours later, you try to do that, and somehow you can't, and then it's six months later and, she's talking about moving in together, and then you're married, and you have a kid, and then two, and every day you're deeper and deeper in the quicksand with this horrible awful doofus that you can't stand, and every day it's harder to get free.

No, there's only one thing to do. You see a dumb tattoo, just walk away. With your pants on, natch. It's better for everyone.


Sounds like you've had a rough life. Maybe you should get a tattoo about it. Or at least I assume you're talking about yourself, because it'd be a mite difficult for me to procreate with another female...

I can dig a tattoo. I can respect one that's not exactly my style, because it's not on my body. I even want a tattoo, but I decided that I wanted a tattoo a year ago and I'm still planning it. My case is a little extreme, but I've known people that have decided to get a tattoo while on their morning commute and then went after work and got it.
"There is a BIG difference between finding the shotgun and finding the guy WITH the shotgun."

jpk
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby jpk » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:35 pm UTC

AvianMinded wrote:
jpk wrote:
Most tattoos are shallow and meaningless. So are most people.
If someone decides to get a tattoo that strikes you as juvenile and ill-considered, maybe they're trying to tell you something. That's right: if you think their tattoo is stupid, you probably think they're stupid, and you should probably put your pants on and go, because it'll be really awkward later on. I mean, you stay the night, and in the morning, what? "I, uh, enjoyed that, but, um, that Smurfette tattoo? Really? Isn't that kind of dumb?" Or maybe you wait until after breakfast - hoping to soften the blow. But then you can see she's already really into you, and you think, well, I'll call her in a few hours and let her know that it's not going to work. But a few hours later, you try to do that, and somehow you can't, and then it's six months later and, she's talking about moving in together, and then you're married, and you have a kid, and then two, and every day you're deeper and deeper in the quicksand with this horrible awful doofus that you can't stand, and every day it's harder to get free.

No, there's only one thing to do. You see a dumb tattoo, just walk away. With your pants on, natch. It's better for everyone.


Sounds like you've had a rough life. Maybe you should get a tattoo about it. Or at least I assume you're talking about yourself, because it'd be a mite difficult for me to procreate with another female...

I can dig a tattoo. I can respect one that's not exactly my style, because it's not on my body. I even want a tattoo, but I decided that I wanted a tattoo a year ago and I'm still planning it. My case is a little extreme, but I've known people that have decided to get a tattoo while on their morning commute and then went after work and got it.


No, not from personal experience. Just making fun of the "tattoos are silly" people. Sort of the opposite of a "reductio ad absurdum". Maybe "extensio ad absurdum" or something (can I get a Latin scholar to help me out here?)

(the first line of my post, you can take as my own view, though - special case of Sturgeon's law)

Stuey
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Stuey » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:49 pm UTC

Headrushed wrote:Man, i'm sick of this cancer shit.

randy's personal life is not nearly as enthralling as he hopes it is.

You speak as if he owes you something. This is his art which many people seem to appreciate. If you're just going to say you're sick of it, there's a whole internet here. I'm sure you can find something you like and leave those you don't alone. If you would, then, kindly fuck off, I'm sure you wouldn't be missed.

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McClow
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby McClow » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:52 pm UTC

rcox1 wrote:What I found to be a good indicator of shallowness was the amount of makeup and hairstyle. I mean, if one spends hours a day on make up and hair(i knew several women who did this), how much time is left for reading, contemplation, and meaningful conversation, not to mention playtime. I can say that in the morning what a person looks like is sometimes not forefront on my mind. And what is up with the feminine lilt that all the boys need to put in the front of their hair? Product much?


agree 100%

xsk8rat
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby xsk8rat » Wed Aug 03, 2011 5:54 pm UTC

Aklein24 wrote:I have a quick question regarding the alt text. Based on my limited knowledge of radiation and radiation therapy, don’t they usually bombard with x-rays, not electrons? I’m pretty sure there’s proton therapy, but in most cases I thought the electrons were used to generate the x-rays. As far as I know, electrons are accelerated, bombard some target which generates radiation which is focused on the patient. Additionally, he says gamma ray therapy, which would lead me to believe that the source in this case is from radioactive decay which wouldn’t involve any electrons either. I could be completely wrong though, feel free to correct me.


Hi AKlein,
You are correct! Just to illuminate a little further...
Radiation therapy for cancer can involve both electron beams for shallow tumors or photon beams for deeper seated tumors (the more common treatment modality). In the US, external beam radiation (for Rx) is generated using a LINAC and not with radioactive sources. There are risks associated with left-over "powerful" radioactive sources injurying folks (through negligence, radioactive sources have ended up in scrapyards - ick!). A LINAC as a source of radiation can be "turned off" with very little (if any) residual radiation.
As you describe, the accelerator can only accelerate charged particles - like electrons, protons, and heavier ions. These are converted in the target to photons (via Bremsstrahlung). So to create an electron beam, a thin scattering "foil" is placed in the beam to diverge the electrons instead of the target. It's the same accelerator configured a little differently that generate most beams.
Sorry to be so chatty - this physics stuff is way cool (and my profession).
Sincerely,
xsk8rat
(Mark)

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Beardhammer » Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:13 pm UTC

charolastra wrote:I don't think there is a judgment here against people with elective tattoos. I have a tattoo and I much prefer it to the scars I have from my cancer procedures. After I hit remission and my body can take it, I'll be getting another tattoo which will include the flower that saved my life.

It's silly- one of the first things I thought about when I was told I had cancer was the radiation tattoo. That was before I found out that my cancer had spread so far that radiation was not going to be an option and that I would have 8 months of chemo instead. It's funny, how the mind works.

To those of you who are joining just to post about how sick you are of cancer comics: trust me, we're sicker of them. And you want this kind of publicity. As it stands, 1 in 2 or 3 (depending on the studies) of us will have cancer at some point in our lives. For some of us, like Randall's fiance and myself, this happened in our 20s. For others, it's what will kill you in your 40s or beyond. You want cancer at the forefront of people's minds so all of these great minds can come together and figure out how to prevent and cure the various kinds of cancer. I don't want my kids born into a future world where they have that 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 chance. Nothing that Randall's fiance or I could have done or not done would change our chances of getting the cancers we got when we did, but that knowledge might be out there somewhere.

Of course I hope that's true for all other chronic and severe illnesses. Randall is dealing with cancer now - you could easily replace MS, kidney disease, or hundreds other in it's place.


If we beat cancer, nature will just find a new way of killing us, and as you've mentioned there are dozens of other incurable diseases we have to face the chance of getting. There's also the possibility of the overabundance of antibiotics creating new, antibiotic-resistant bacteria... the list goes on. I've always wondered why people use "I don't want to bring kids into a world like this" as a justification for not having kids. It's almost as if they're implying the world will someday magically be perfect and free of war, disease, and hardship, and THEN they can have kids.

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McClow
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby McClow » Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:18 pm UTC

I think I've learned more about cancer in the past few weeks of xkcd with reading these discussion threads than I have in a long long time.

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Swarfy
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Swarfy » Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:19 pm UTC

I've watched my Grandmother go through numerous different cancer treaments in her 60+ years. The old lady is prone for it for some reason, Breast, Ovarian, Tongue, Skin and now Breast and skin again. She finally told her doctors to take their medical procedures and stick them up their butts, she's lived this long and survived each one, She's done going through all the pain that comes with radiation/surgery, she's going to live out the rest of her life the way SHE wants, and not in some "god dammed hospital room will all those f*cking doctors poking me with needles" (Her words, not mine. My Grandma is awesome!)

Randall, From everyone here in my house, I wish your Fiance a speedy recovery. I'll also pray and send good vibes against a replase. Gods know watching it once is hard enough on family and friends...

madbabs
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby madbabs » Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:48 pm UTC

As another wearer of the dot-set tattoo, I gotta say today's post was just beautiful. "So it will only kill the parts of me that are holding me back". happy sigh. perfect.

And just one survivor's opinion - getting through it didn't make me tougher or stronger or better or worse than anyone else. nothing more than pure stupid luck. Though sometimes it does seem there might have been some benefit from facing mortality in such an immediate and unavoidable presentation.

MichaelJC
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby MichaelJC » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:05 pm UTC

This made me laugh so much. My mom has been through three bouts of breast cancer and when I got my first tattoo she basically said the exact same thing. I'll never be as tough as her, EVER. And that's kind of awesome when you think about it.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Wilhelm » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:03 pm UTC

This and the "Lanes" comic are really great. Its awesome to see you injecting some humor into such a dark topic- optimism can be a big help.

Best of luck to you and your fiance, Randall.
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mtu
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby mtu » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:18 pm UTC

I confess to having one of those picked-out, cleanly-done, vanity tattoos. But hey, at least I went for the one that says: “My civilization knows about the hyperfine transition of neutral hydrogen atoms where the relative orientations of the components' spins reverse and which is the cause of the 21 cm radiation observed almost anywhere in the universe.” (see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pioneer_plaque#Hyperfine_transition_of_neutral_hydrogen [I can't yet post links, it seems.])

So I hope at least it makes some interesting reading for whomever finds me floating in space naked (or at least, lying face-down in a ditch).

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby domino14 » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:33 pm UTC

"Bicep" is a word in the Official Scrabble Word List, so it's good enough for me.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby vega » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:58 pm UTC

My dad was diagnosed with stage III melanoma last winter. I've been sending him these strips, and today's was amazing. Thank you for making him laugh at his cancer. Best of luck to your fiance.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby BrianB » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:12 pm UTC

domino14 wrote:"Bicep" is a word in the Official Scrabble Word List, so it's good enough for me.


Because the Scrabble "Dictionary" is an authoritative source on words in the English language?

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby TheSoberPirate » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:40 pm UTC

Re: bicep/biceps issue, I think it really just depends on your audience. Specialized terminology is important in science, and it's important to get it right. So if you're a biologist speaking to biologists, you want to go with biceps brachii. But if you're writing a webcomic or playing Scrabble, than bicep is probably fine. Everyday language is going to grow and change, but scientific communication really does need to be based on sets of words with specific meanings.

Of course, if you're webcomic audience has a high proportion of nerds (which probably only happens if your subject matter is significantly nerdy), be prepared to get corrected. Some of us can't help it. If we do it right, the correction should be interesting for one reason or another, not just pedantic.

Re: tattoos, some of us just like how they look. I designed mine and it means something to me, but in the end it's just a picture on (well, in) my skin. Not that big of a deal. I don't think it looks tough, and the pain is really pretty minor, so I certainly don't think getting or having a tattoo actually makes you tough. Most days I don't even look at it or remember it's there (it's on my arm, not my back or somewhere hidden). I think there's a lot of people who take tattoos far too seriously, in both directions.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby LauraCedar » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:20 am UTC

Huh. I just have four dots in my tattoo. But this perfectly expresses what I've been trying to tell people. "No, I do not need a tattoo that is life-affirming to cover up my nearly decade-old radiation scars. Their existence is life-affirming. And the fact that the blood banks want my blood every eight weeks is more life-affirming than I can say."
Thank you. Thank you.

urusan
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby urusan » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:20 am UTC

the beam used in a 90-second gamma ray therapy session could, if fired with less precision, kill a horse (they did not let me test this).
Tragically, you don't need to test this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therac-25
http://sunnyday.mit.edu/papers/therac.pdf

Admittedly patients aren't exactly horses, but it's not much of a stretch.... It also underscores just how important those dots really are...

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby letsgorace » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:54 am UTC

I was the youngest kid. My parents loved me, there is no doubt, but they really just didn't ever get around to taking my picture. Heck, I was another kid in a busy house, I totally understand. There was the baby picture, a year old with grandma, that was it until I was 4. I got crosshairs, not six dots. They took so many pictures. I still feel awful for them, because I enjoyed the whole thing. I was the center of attention for six months, and the nice guy at the hospital gave me an ice cream cone if I held still really well that day. Almost 40 years, no recurrence, and three kids of my own. My parents didn't share the pictures until a few years ago. They are still recovering. And I take tons of pictures of all my kids, every week.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby jpk » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:42 am UTC

letsgorace wrote:I was the youngest kid. My parents loved me, there is no doubt, but they really just didn't ever get around to taking my picture. Heck, I was another kid in a busy house, I totally understand. There was the baby picture, a year old with grandma, that was it until I was 4. I got crosshairs, not six dots. They took so many pictures. I still feel awful for them, because I enjoyed the whole thing. I was the center of attention for six months, and the nice guy at the hospital gave me an ice cream cone if I held still really well that day. Almost 40 years, no recurrence, and three kids of my own. My parents didn't share the pictures until a few years ago. They are still recovering. And I take tons of pictures of all my kids, every week.


This is, you might say, the essence of memoir, compressed into something very like a haiku. Nicely done. You have my permission to be proud of this piece of writing.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Fishwood » Thu Aug 04, 2011 4:51 am UTC

Also registered just to comment on these. My late wife had 3 dots in back from Mass General and 3 more in front from Beth Israel when they didn't get it all the first time.
A doctor at a walk-in clinic once remarked that she should have that "bluish mole" looked at by a dermatologist. That was when we stopped going to walk-in clinics, and also around when she went to a tattoo parlor and as part of the process of reclaiming her body, had a few of the dots covered with pretty things. (Not a vinca, @charolastra, just a lily-of-the-valley, and a fish (see handle.))
#991 is why, when she had a tiny breast cancer after she was past the recurrence period for Hodgkin's, she elected hard-core body modification, a bilateral breast reduction with extreme prejudice, instead of a lumpectomy that would have left two time bombs on her chest. Whatever she lost in sex appeal she more than gained back in respect and admiration (and it cured her TMJ and back ache, and made her easier to hug.) So I know how this sort of thing changes one's perspective, as this series has described.
Hodgkin's is one of the "curable" cancers, but the radiation left everything from her diaphragm to her palate damaged in some way, and the chemo weakened her heart. Every spring when we went to the "Celebration of Life" (or as we called it, "Celebration of Cancer") at the BI to get the free breakfast and tote bag she'd earned we'd listen to the speeches about what a beautiful, spiritual experience cancer was, and she'd say she wanted to give one entitled "Cancer Sucks".

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skrossa
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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby skrossa » Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:44 am UTC

Great comic! I myself have 4 dots (stage IIb breast cancer at age 41, and so far cancer free for almost 5 years).

I have a lot of fun telling people I have tattoos (plural -- I say I have four, not just one; the size of the space between each dot is, after all, several orders of magnitude greater than the size of the dots themselves). I am just not the kind of person who gets tattoos (I don't even have pierced ears!) and even people who don't know me would guess that, so it's pretty funny. My favorite time was when I was with a bunch of friends casting pewter spoons, and my task was to file off the extra pewter left by the mold. I was also wearing a solid black buff** because this was when I was still bald. One friend joked that all I needed was tattoos and I could be in a gang: it made my day to be able to say "I have tattoos!"

**Buffs (like on Survivor -- see buffusa.com) are fantastic for chemo. Rather than wigs or hats, I just wore buffs on my head. I color coordinated with my outfits, they were easy to wear (and forget you were wearing), and I still get a ton of use out of them even with hair. I don't actually recommend solid colored ones, though, for hair substitutes -- they make you look like a nun. I was only wearing the black one out in public because I didn't care if it got ruined during all the metal-working.)

Headrushed wrote:randy's personal life is not nearly as enthralling as he hopes it is.

This made me laugh almost as much as the Tattoo comic itself. Haven't his comics always been frequently inspired by his personal life? So given that and that this is comic #933… I'd say his personal life is enthralling enough for him to be making a living at it.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Someguitarist » Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:46 am UTC

Speaking as an actual Medical Physicist, I must say it's very unique to read these comics. It illustrates a side of things you can never see in the places I end up working. I just wanted to chime in and say the Best of Luck to ya, Randall. I've seen 1000's of patients, and honestly a lot is in how well you 'take it', and to not let your quality of life diminish.

If anyone ever wants to talk about something radiographically related, feel free to PM me and I'll answer best I can. It's the least I can do for years of free entertainment here. ;)

A few pointers as to the discussions above. Radiation therapy is done with a number of tools; electron beam therapy is one of many, as is the use of photons (x-rays). The electrons fired into the body interact with our atoms either interact directly with our DNA, or by creating 'free radicals' in the water around our DNA, which then interact with it. Photon therapy is used because of it's 'Skin-sparring' effects. Essentially, as the photons enter our bodies they create electrons through processes such as the Photoelectric effect and Compton Scattering (And Rayleigh, but that doesn't really do anything), and THOSE electrons then interact with our DNA. So either can be used.

For the record, we also use Molybdenum and Rhodium (gamma emitters) for Mammography, as well as Iodine and a handful of others for Brachytherapy, which is inserting a radioactive source directly into the body. Not to mention larger particles, such as alpha particles and neutrons for other types of treatment. Long story short, there are several different radiographic modalities, the trick is to realize what needs to be used when, and why.

And if you want to take down the horse, use Alpha particles. Those helium nuclei will get the job done much quicker ;)

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Thibaw » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:00 am UTC

Did you know, that individual electrons in a copper wire typically travel at less than 1mm per second?

Of course Randall knows that fast electrons and gamma-rays are not the same thing. The Alt Text is a little bit misleading though...

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Ehsanit » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:36 am UTC

Someguitarist wrote:And if you want to take down the horse, use Alpha particles. Those helium nuclei will get the job done much quicker ;)



Wouldn't they get stuck at the skin?
I figure the best way to take down a horse is with a leopard, and failing that with a pistol.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Shidoshi » Thu Aug 04, 2011 8:53 am UTC

Thibaw wrote:Did you know, that individual electrons in a copper wire typically travel at less than 1mm per second?

Of course Randall knows that fast electrons and gamma-rays are not the same thing. The Alt Text is a little bit misleading though...


Actually, they go really fast in the wire too. But they crash with so many things and go in such erratic directions that their resulting displacement in the (opposite) sense of the current is that small.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Richard. » Thu Aug 04, 2011 9:25 am UTC

Jay Bazuzi wrote:
How do you know you're going to like that for the rest of your life?


You don't. You can't.

Humans make decisions with life-long effects all the time, like getting married or divorced, having a child, getting surgery, joining the military, committing major crimes, choosing a major, living another day.

We do this without knowing for sure how we will feel about those choices in the future. We often regret choices we have made in the past. That's life, as they say.
I got a tattoo of this quote.
we live in a beautiful world.

Spoiler:
Image

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Aelfyre » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:13 am UTC

Ehsanit wrote:
Someguitarist wrote:And if you want to take down the horse, use Alpha particles. Those helium nuclei will get the job done much quicker ;)



Wouldn't they get stuck at the skin?
I figure the best way to take down a horse is with a leopard, and failing that with a pistol.


You forgot a Leopard with a frickan *pistol* on it's head!
Xanthir wrote:To be fair, even perfectly friendly antimatter wildebeests are pretty deadly.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby fullymad » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:36 pm UTC

rexnemo wrote:
Aelfyre wrote:
knowman wrote:*Edit*
Quick, honest if dumb question - Is the reason they need to put the medical tattoos on because of radiation therapy that needs to be done repeatedly in the same spot, or is there some other reason they're not just done with a Sharpie (which, as ridiculous as it sounds, is most definitely a critical piece of medical technology, because it makes sure they're cutting the right parts).


yeah at least when i went thru rad it was done in several sessions spread out over a few weeks so it was very *very* important to have the beam in the *exact* same spot every time to avoid frying my lungs.. or.. veggies.. (which the bone marrow transplant took care of unfortunately) I remember tasting metal whenever the beam was on.. coppery...


When I had mine they just used a Sharpie and put a clear sticker over it. Of course they also made a mold of my head to keep it from moving and had some markings on that. Also, my radiation was 5 days a week for 6 weeks instead of spread out and if it started to fade they could just re-apply it.

I still feel like I'm missing out by not having any dots. :(

I don't recall a coppery taste. Actually, I wasn't able to taste anything at all for about 6 weeks.


I work as a radiation therapist in australia, the reason for the tattoos is so we have a stable landmark that can be set up to every day of the treatment. The tolerances for most areas of the body are 3 millimetres, meaning that is we are off by more than 3mm we have to move the patient and re-image to verify that we are still treating the right area. Because of the extended periods of time that people are treated for, and also the amount of time (up to a couple of months) between simulation when the tattoos are made, and the commencement of treatment, the marks need to be permanent to make sure that we are targeting the same area each day. We also have to verify the set up with on board images and make sure that there has been no major change in the shape of the anatomy between simulation and treatment (due to weight gain/loss or change in tumour volume) as this will affect the dosimetry of the plan.

For head and neck patients, they have the thermoplastic mask that immobilises their heads and has the marks made on the cast so that we don't need to make permanent marks on the patients facial region. Those marks are generally made in sharpie.

We also do use sharpies to make marks on patients all the time, because the tatts are made at simulation, if we make the plan and decide the tattoos are not in the exact spot we want to set up to each day, we will calculate the shifts required, so we set up to tattoos, then mark/measure and reset to the planned isocentre of the beam, so we don't have to tattoo more than once.

Techniques vary from centre to centre though, I have never seen more than 3 tattoos used for a patient that is being treated on one site, one on midline so that we can straighten them through bony anatomy, and 2 laterals that need to be lined up to ensure that there is no roll in the patient. Though the centres I have worked at all used extensive image guidance so there was a lot less possiblity for errors being made.

also, to whoever was asking about electrons, the majority of external beam RT is done using Bremsstrahlung x-rays which are generated by firing a pencil beam of electrons at a tungsten target. Though for superficial tumours and for boots of surgical beds we do treat directly with electrons because the dose falls off really rapidly in the tissue. Gamma rays are not used in any centres in australia, with the exception of the gamma knife, which is a very specialised piece of equipment. All of the old cobalt machines have been shipped off to third world countries where they continue to be used (old cobalt machines are still far better than having no RT treatment available at all.)
Last edited by fullymad on Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:38 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby ctsketch » Thu Aug 04, 2011 12:42 pm UTC

I don't see the point of a tattoo unless it has specific meaning to you and a meaning that will last. Its something that stays with you forever unless you want to go through some crappy procedures to remove it, and even those are not perfect.

I've got one tattoo on my arm that is something I've dedicated a great deal to my life to and I don't think I will ever get another one without a pretty good reason...

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:36 pm UTC

This reminds me of a story I was told. While I can't speak on gamma rays specifically, in college, I had a friend who had served in the Navy prior to going to school, and would often tell us stories of his time on boats. Some disgusted me (specifically, one regarding finding a gay sailor), but most were pretty fun. One in particular was when he was off-duty visiting a friend in the RADAR room (I believe - maybe just sensor room, but anyway). His friend says "Hey watch this!" and pulls a seagull up on some monitor, presses a button, and the seagull just falls out of the sky. He cooked it mid-air with...whatever it was.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby Nescio » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:07 pm UTC

tsarna wrote:Right on, six dot girl!

"You think I'm impressed by [stupid body modifications]? Mods you bought? Anyone could have bought those. I earned mine. This expanse of splotchy wrinkly burned skin here, these couple jagged scars? I got those from life, not from some crappy body mods parlor."

Six dots, now that's a body mod that earns my respect.


Well said. Except I make an exception for military tattoos (for comradery purposes only) and Polynesians (rite of passage).



I'm embarassed: humans are so judgmental. So you see someone walk down the beach with a tattoo and immediately they put them in a little box that's called "shallow idiots who choose to paint their body with dumb drawings that don't mean anything that I do not know the meaning of". People get tattoos for all kinds of reasons. There's not just the military or religious reasons. Say Mr. Munroe's loved one dies (let's hope not) and he gets a tattoo that means something to the both of them. A little sentence or maybe a drawing they both love or a pink unicorn for all I care. Is he now shallow?

The fact is, of 99,9999% of all tattoos, you won't know why people got them. Yeah, a lot of people get them to look cool because they're shallow idiots who think a tribal on their steroid arm is badass, but there are also a lot of people who use it as a way to express themselves. How is it different from giant earrings? Or those big dumb plastic sunglasses? Or a flower in your hair? Do you think everyone with a flower in their hair is a hippy?

Live and let live.

And no I don't have a tattoo.

/rant.
Last edited by Nescio on Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:24 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby jqavins » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote:This reminds me of a story I was told. While I can't speak on gamma rays specifically, in college, I had a friend who had served in the Navy prior to going to school, and would often tell us stories of his time on boats. Some disgusted me (specifically, one regarding finding a gay sailor), but most were pretty fun. One in particular was when he was off-duty visiting a friend in the RADAR room (I believe - maybe just sensor room, but anyway). His friend says "Hey watch this!" and pulls a seagull up on some monitor, presses a button, and the seagull just falls out of the sky. He cooked it mid-air with...whatever it was.

It was almost certainly the radar room (not passive sensing) and he cooked the gull with microwaves. Gee, how freakin' hilarious. (How come there's no smiley for sarcasm?)
-- Joe
"[Some people don't believe in coincidence, but] I believe in coincidence. Coincidences happen every day. I just don't trust coincidence."
Elim Garak

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Re: 0933: "Tattoo"

Postby ctsketch » Thu Aug 04, 2011 2:48 pm UTC

I'm embarassed: humans are so judgmental. So you see someone walk down the beach with a tattoo and immediately they put them in a little box that's called "shallow idiots who choose to paint their body with dumb drawings that don't mean anything that I do not know the meaning of". People get tattoos for all kinds of reasons. There's not just the military or religious reasons. Say Mr. Munroe's loved one dies (let's hope not) and he gets a tattoo that means something to the both of them. A little sentence or maybe a drawing they both love or a pink unicorn for all I care. Is he now shallow?

The fact is, of 99,9999% of all tattoos, you won't know why people got them. Yeah, a lot of people get them to look cool because they're shallow idiots who think a tribal on their steroid arm is badass, but there are also a lot of people who use it as a way to express themselves. How is it different from giant earrings? Or those big dumb plastic sunglasses? Or a flower in your hair? Do you think everyone with a flower in their hair is a hippy?

Live and let live.


I agree... A random passerby may assume the Tattoo on my forearm says "Dumb American" in Chinese....but..

A. Its not Chinese...technically, its Kanji.
B. I know what it says in Chinese and Japanese and I speak a little and write a little of both languages.
C. Its the name of the school or martial arts I practice and teach. Its very near and dear to me and a big part of my life and the tattoo is a symbol of commitment and dedication and many other instructors bear it.

Making assumptions about tattoos is often poor.


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