Friday, June 27, 2008

Slot Car Racing

I have made a number of new friends since being diagnosed with cancer. Bob N. (a colleague at Ford) invited me to BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) in the spring. In addition to enjoying the study of scripture I also met a number a really cool guys. Jimmy is one such guy. He has an amazing gift of creating crafts with his hands. Over a number of years Jimmy has built a realistic model scale slot car track in his basement that rivals the best in the world. He invented a way to race 2 slot cars separately on the same track. He has detailed his work on the following website AC2Car

Jimmy was kind enough to invite a number of dads (and moms) plus their kids for a lapping session. Bob and I served as corner workers as the kids gleefully spun their cars out on the tighter corners. Midway through the evening, Landon had mastered shouting CAR DOWN as soon as his car left the slot. Morgan tried her hand at racing but preferred to cheer on from the sidelines.



Thanks Jimmy for inviting us to such a fun event.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Changing the Treatment Plan

Five weeks have passed since my 6th chemo treatment and my white blood cells have not recovered to a sufficient level. In addition, the cumulative effect of chemo infusions over these past five months has caused major digestive system discomfort. Although the most recent set of CT scans show that the tumors in my lung and liver remain stable, Dr. Flaherty feels that we are plateauing on the benefits of chemo for my cancer treatment. I agree that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to subject me to the "barbaric" side effects of chemo if the drugs are not shrinking my tumors.

Fortunately there are a number of other treatment options available for Stage IV melanoma. For the next round I will be getting a biotherapy treatment called High Dose Interleukin-2 (IL-2). Treatments such as these involve injecting drugs into the body that stimulate the immune system. Essentially my body will perceive it's under attack from a massive infection and increase the immune response. The hope is that the additional white blood cells produced by the immune system will find melanoma cells and destroy them. Side effects resemble those that normally accompany a severe case of the flu. Currently IL-2 is only utilized for melanoma and kidney cancer.

I will get a reprieve from any form of treatment until 21-July to allow my body to recover from the six cycles of chemo. Deb and I will dovetail in a couple of fun vacations in the meantime, a trip to Disney World and a family reunion (my side) on Cape Cod.

Thanks to everyone for keeping us in your prayers. Our God is a mercifully and loving God.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Keeping the Beat

Our band, Inline5, hosted a performance for friends and family, playing new songs along with old favorites. We are a group of Ford research engineers that aren't afraid to embarrass ourselves in public. I've been playing the drums with the band since the fall of 2006.


L to R. Eric (electric), Tom (acoustic), Nate (drums), Donnell (horn), Hugh (bass)

A little band history (and banter) courteous of Jeff, our unpaid band manager.

Dateline September 2005, June 2006, July 2007, and May 2008
VH1's "Behind the Music"
Inline-5: Initial Assembly, Real World Test, the Inevitable Rebuild, Losing a Cylinder, Jumping on the Ethanol Bandwagon, and once again Hittin' on All Cylinders

Initial Assembly
It all began when 3 working engineers decided doing the math just wasn't going to buy them the fame they so desired. In late 1999, Tom Megli, Jeff McGee, and Eric Curtis decided their musical talents and charismatic personalities were going to waste behind a computer. They formed an unusual three piece band that made do with two lead guitars and drums. Donnell Washington joined the band in early 2002 adding a horn section and widening their musical horizons. Finding a band name still proved elusive, in the course of a single show, they were known as, Tom Megli and the Megalomaniacs, Donnell Washington and the Debonair Dudes, Jeff McGee and the Artists Formerly Known as Engineers, and Eric Curtis and the Loose Nukes. They realized they needed one more element to bring the band together, a thickening agent so to speak. Eric (Gold Shoes) Curtis, "We realized a bass player could bring the band together by supporting Jeff's drum beat. After a failed audition with a neophyte 20-something bass player in 2002, we decided a grizzled veteran of the music scene was the way to go. We were very pleased to find someone as grizzled as Hugh Fader. His experience, skills and ability to get the band to gel were the final ingredients to our success."

Real World Test
Thus, with the late addition of bass player Hugh (Corn Starch) Fader, the band finally hit paydirt and Inline-5 was born. I-5 played to packed shows in local bars. They continued to increase their playlist and range. New fans wondered about the origin on the name; was it the North-South Interstate in California, a band wide vegetable smuggling incident at an international airport or related to a lost "art" photo featuring band "members" available via the internet? Perhaps an allusion to the five men standing on stage, or as engineers - a reference to a type of 5 cylinder piston engine? Apparently, they have decided to stay mum and let their fans choose which story to believe. It was all fun and games as the number of gigs and their fame increased.

But success and stardom would eventually take their toll…

Donnell (Sensei) Washington, "Even the local touring became work, the demands on us were becoming more and more extreme." The wear and tear of several shows a year would prove too much for one of the band. Newly added bass player, Hugh Fader, succumbed to what some described as "exhaustion" or "strep throat" forcing the cancellation of a sold out show in the Fashion Capital (of denim overalls) Milan . Rumors circulated of a visit to a rehabilitation facility and tabloid photos of a disheveled Fader only served to whet the public's appetite for another rocker living the life of excess. Manager Jeff (Where's my money?) Koncsol, "Hugh was just tired and needed to visit Royal Oak Gardens to get away from the responsibilities and duties that are part of the rock star/engineer life style. I mean it was so bad, he couldn't even count to ten with the help of his fingers anymore."

Meanwhile, the rest of the band considered replacements. The 'Big Man' Will Boddie, while available after losing his VP job with the Company, proved to be the least animated bass player the remainder of I-5 had ever seen. Lead guitarist Tom (Megli-oh) Megli, "Bass players aren't expected to move or anything, but we had to poke the 'Big Man' a couple times just to assure he was still alive. He just didn't have the Fader charm, and after several other auditions, we realized no one did!" Luckily, Fader's stay in Royal Oak Gardens proved to be just what he needed.

The Rebuild
Oct 2005 --- Thus, the stage is set for a triumphant reunion concert by I-5 with the return of a healthy, energized Hugh Fader laying down the bass line. Drummer Jeff (Dangerous Fibber) McGee, "I know I'm glad to have Hugh back, with out his help laying down the beat I was punching holes in my skins trying to keep everyone 'N Sync. (A nice reference to McGee's first "Boy Band" experience)" The rest of the band is happy to have Hugh back, too. The gentlemen of Inline-5 (Tom, Eric, Donnell, Jeff and Hugh) plan their comeback show in Milan, October 22nd, 2005. Be there to see history made, one cover at a time!!!

Losing a Cylinder
June 2006 --- Drummer Jeff McGee after half a career as a rock star/engineer found his creativity was being stifled by the dyno cell by day, band by night experience. As such, he decided to break away from I-5 to pursue a full time band gig. He soon found that playing drums full time in a Village People tribute band was even more difficult. "The hat I could deal with, but I really couldn't hit the skins properly with those plastic six-shooters, so I had to find another outlet for my creativity" said McGee. Although he plans to continue to pursue music part time, McGee found a pleasing complexity and sophistication (the two things lacking in his dyno cell and band experiences) in the world of computers. Proving that he did actually love the hat, McGee has chosen to pursue an advanced degree at a college in Texas. The remainder of I-5 not only wish him well but have left the door open to a possible future return, although all band members have universally concluded that it will have to be, "Without the hat!!!".

Jumping on the Ethanol Bandwagon…
Feb 2007 --- The very day I-5 become a four piece, the planning to update their image began. Guitarist Tom Megli, "We knew we couldn't just be a party band anymore. We had to find a way to make a statement." Following the growing corporate trend of "greening" the company image, I-5 decided to make a green (or perhaps, yellow and green) statement with the addition of corn (some of us call it maize) fed and educated (in Nebraska until college) drummer, Nate Trask. His imposing build is offset by an easy demeanor and willingness to play the "oldies" to satisfy the band while introducing them to the music of current stars like Snow Patrol. Trask says, "I thought keeping up with these grizzled old rock and roll engineering veterans would be effortless for a kid like me, but keeping up with four guys who smell like sweat and diesel isn't easy." Perhaps it won't be easy for Trask, but it will, as always, be interesting for their fans. So come out and see the premier performance of the band that smells like sweat, diesel and corn, I-5!!!

Hittin' on All Cylinders
May 2008 --- "The band continued it's hardworking ways and has even threatened to start paying me, although I'm not really sure that "You'll get what you deserve" holds the promise of any great fortune!" said Koncsol. Although they still may not be ready to pay for any outside services, the dedicated practice sessions and the addition of several new songs, plus the outside duo efforts of V-Twin; the Megli-Fader project which occasionally delivers the evenings entertainment at Birmingham Acres (Fader has decided to move more upscale in his "spa" facility), have put new energy into the old legs of the men of I-5. They've cleaned up their look, sold off the diesel and ethanol for record profits, tightened up their sound, and they will bring you a new show as soon as the playoff season ends. Be there!