Friday, February 29, 2008

The Odyssey: Research

Cover of the Classics Illustrated comic book, 'The Odyssey by Homer'To prepare for our upcoming Odyssey sailing trip, I thought it would be a good idea to refamiliarize myself with Homer's epic tale. I already knew that the Odyssey was the second of Homer's two epic tales, the first being the Iliad, his story of the Trojan War, as symbolized by the Trojan horse.

Tim Severin's book The Ulysses Voyage: Sea Search for the Odyssey provided excellent background, much of it based on E. V. Rieu's translation of the Odyssey, which was first published by Penguin Books in 1946. But at 448 pages, I wasn't prepared to spend the time it would take to even muddle through what is considered the most accessible of the translations. Heck, it took me almost a year to read Moby-Dick. I gave the Cliff Notes version a thought, but that seemed like cheating, just like it did in high school and college.

Then I remembered that when we were growing up, my brother Stuart and I used to have a copy of the Classics Illustrated comic book The Odyssey by Homer. I jumped on eBay and there it was. Of course, it's a collector's item now, so I paid quite a bit more for it than its 15-cent cover price. I think the copy Stuart and I had dated from the mid-1960s. The version that arrived in the mail had a copyright of 1951. Fortunately, it was packaged in a cellophane envelope with a cardboard backing, which made me hesitant to take it out and actually read it. It seemed like it might crumble into dust if I dared to turn the pages.

Classics Illustrated comic book, 'The Odyssey by Homer', showing the scene with the Sirens where Ulysses is lashed to the mastI sat down one evening a few weeks after the Odyssey comic book arrived and read it straight through, which only took about a half-hour. It was just the way I remembered it: rough artwork, primary colors, and stilted dialogue, but it touched on all the high points of the original story and held my interest to the end. To the right are the panels telling the story of Ulysses's encounter with the Sirens. Click the image for a larger view.

What became evident to me in reading the Odyssey story as an adult was how the mix of adventure and fantasy, real-life situations and purely imaginary ones, could be linked together in the context of a journey home from war to create a story that would hold up through the ages, from the time of Homer almost 2700 years ago to the present.

When I returned to reading the Severin book, it was with renewed interest, as I visualized the story as it may have taken place in the locations Tim Severin determined to be the most logical real-world landings for an actual sailing journey home from Troy to Ithaca.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

John Denver: genuine guy?

In response to my Where the name comes from and "Whispering Jesse" revisited posts, I have received several email messages from fans of John Denver. One asked, "Was John Denver really the all American guy that we all knew and loved?... Was he really just a nice, down to earth guy and did he have a temper?" Here is my reply:


John was a fairly genuine guy. You never had the impression that he was trying to be something he was not. He had his shortcomings like we all do. He could be moody and he had a fairly quick temper, which I really only saw once when he was frustrated that he couldn’t reach me on a Saturday when he was having computer problems. But he also had tremendous patience, as I experienced one afternoon when his daughter Jesse Belle was being fussy and making a mess.

As an aside, some jackass who claimed to be John’s computer consultant was quoted in an Aspen Daily News article a few years ago saying that he witnessed John angrily backing over his laptop computer in his driveway. That never happened. That guy never even met John. I contacted the author to tell him so.

John liked to have a good time, but who doesn’t? He went through a period in the early 1990s when he was frequenting Takah Sushi, a Japanese restaurant on the Hyman Avenue Mall in Aspen. My wife and I saw him there one night before he and I met and became friends. Anyway, he liked his sake and it caught up to him one night when he wrapped his Porsche around a tree in Starwood on his way home.

More than anything, I believe John was humbled by his good fortune. He was an extremely talented singer, guitarist and songwriter, but those things came so naturally to him that he didn’t think they were any big deal. Anyone who ever saw him perform knew that his songs came from his heart and that he was happy just to have the opportunity to share them with his audience. The overwhelming response he received from his audiences around the world was, I feel, genuinely gratifying to him.

Considering his situation, John was a good man who made a great positive impact on society. Would that any of us could do better.

Best wishes,


Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Odyssey: Preview

Cover of 'The Ulysses Voyage: Sea Search for the Odyssey' by Tim Severin In a little over nine weeks, on April 23, Nan and I will begin the sailing adventure of a lifetime, a re-creation of The Odyssey, Homer's epic tale of Ulysses's journey from the Trojan War to his home in Ithaca, Greece. We will join John Kretschmer, with whom I sailed from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas in January 2007, and three other crew members, including Harry and Velinda from that same sailing trip, to sail John's boat Quetzal along the same route taken by author and explorer Tim Severin in his historic 1985 voyage in the replica Greek galley Argo. Mr. Severin documented the voyage in his 1987 book The Ulysses Voyage: Sea Search for the Odyssey, an excellent account filled with photographs, drawings and maps, which will serve as the guidebook for our own voyage.

The plan calls for us to rendez-vous in Athens, where John has kept Quetzal, a 47-foot Kaufman cutter, for the last few months getting her ready for the voyage. We will then sail across the Aegean Sea to the ruins of ancient Troy, on the northwest coast of Turkey, to begin our Odyssey. About two weeks later, we will arrive at Ithaca, a small island on Greece's west coast. Along the way, we will sail counter-clockwise around the Aegean, then south and east to the southern coast of Crete, and then back north and west to the west coast of Greece before returning to Athens, a round-trip voyage of almost a thousand nautical miles.

John has contracted with the Miami Herald and Cruising World to write articles about the trip, and he has graciously given me his permission to write an article for Latitudes & Attitudes magazine. I pitched the idea to Editor Sue a few months ago in an email message thanking her for publishing my water spout photo, and she was enthusiastic. In addition, the Travel Channel will have a film crew on board for much of the trip producing a documentary for broadcast on TV and elsewhere. It is all very exciting for both of us, and it offers me the opportunity to start a travel writing sideline.

Additional details will be posted here as they become available. And of course, I will have a laptop and a digital camera with me throughout the trip for posting updates as time and Internet access allow.

Correction 3/3/08: I received an email update from John Kretschmer. It turns out that our voyage will end in Corfu, an island off the west coast of Greece at its border with Albania. We will be flying back to Athens instead of sailing. This will knock about 250 nautical miles off the trip, making for a total of about 750 nautical miles.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Strategies for Successful Living

One of my favorite observations is this: "The main problem with life is that there is little or no time for practice."

Life is always live. There are no time-outs or do-overs, so you had better be able to think on your feet or you will suffer the consequences. But we are not babes in the woods, completely at the mercy of what life throws at us. We each have our entire life's experience to draw on to help us with life's new challenges. We can "frame" the future with the past. For example, if I eat pizza with green peppers on it and suffer terrible gas, I will know not to eat green peppers on pizza again. This is a very simple cause-and-effect example. Where life gets much more complicated is in human relationships.

I read an article several years ago that discussed the outcome of a psychological experiment into how human beings treat each other and what the best strategy is for personal success. The experiment broke down human interactions into three basic rules: The Golden Rule, which everyone knows as, "Treat others as you would wish to be treated;" The Bronze Rule, which--though not so familiar--means, "Treat others as they treat you;" and The Iron Rule, which basically means, "Screw everybody." Role-playing scenarios were conducted in which the subjects would try to use just one of the rules through each scenario. The initial results were not surprising:

The Golden Rule subjects started out well, giving others the benefit of the doubt, but once the others figured out that the subjects would treat them well no matter how badly they were treated in return, they started taking advantage of them. The idea that it is always best to turn the other cheek will ultimately result in running out of cheeks, which from a personal perspective is not a successful strategy.

The Bronze Rule subjects experienced mixed results. If they were treated well at the outset and responded in kind, things usually went well. But if they were treated poorly and responded with poor treatment of their own, things usually went badly. This could be seen then to be an occasionally successful strategy.

The Iron Rule subjects started out well for themselves, getting what they wanted regardless of consequence, but their consistent poor treatment of others resulted in their being shunned and avoided. As a short-term strategy it might work, but over time it would leave one all alone.

Next the experimenters tried mixing up the rules. They would have the subjects start out with one rule and then, based on the response they received, switch to a different rule. What they discovered is that by far the most successful strategy was what they called The Gilded Bronze Rule: Treat others well, giving them the benefit of the doubt in initial situations, and then follow up in succeeding situations by treating them as they treat you.

For example, you're ordering a coffee at Starbucks. You make eye contact with the barista and wish her a pleasant good morning, then order by saying, "I would like a tall light roast please." If she returns the eye contact and smiles, and then says, "Room for cream?", you would smile and say, "Yes, please." The rest of the transaction would probably proceed smoothly with thank-yous and you're-welcomes, and you would leave an appropriate tip. If instead she responds by turning away without a word and going to fill a cup while continuing a conversation with a co-worker, then plunks the coffee on the counter and says, "$1.49," you would place $1.50 on the counter and walk away.

The first response is the one we all hope for in every exchange. Everyone leaves happy, you with your coffee and a nice feeling about the barista and the business, she with a nice feeling about a job well done and a little extra money. The second response might be seen as slightly cruel, and to be truthful, what are you getting out of treating the barista badly in terms of your own personal success? What if she was just having a bad day? I think what you're accomplishing is that you're showing her what the results are of her own bad behavior. If she has any insight at all, she will realize that she created the response she received. If she doesn't get that, then she either is unconscious of her effect on the world or is so thick-skinned that it doesn't bother her. If I were her employer, I would not have her serving customers.

So think about The Gilded Bronze Rule in your next interaction. It's generally a tit-for-tat world, but if you give it your best effort up front, you will usually get the same in return. And that leaves everyone feeling successful.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Boat Quest, Part 8

1979 Valiant 40 for sale in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico Last summer I spotted a 1979 Valiant 40 in the listings that looked promising. It was located in San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico, which is an easy two-day drive from Colorado. At $79,500, it seemed reasonable enough and the pictures in the listing showed that it was in good shape and well-equipped.

San Carlos Yachts was the listing broker. I spent some time perusing their website and found this useful information:

If you're new to working with a broker, here's how the boat-buying process typically works. Full specifications on the boats we represent are listed on our website. Give us a call or send us an email at if you need more details. Once you are ready to make an offer, we will work with you and the seller to come to an agreed selling price. We formalize your offer with an "Offer to Purchase" agreement which must be backed by a 10% deposit. You set the time period it will take to complete the transaction, usually between five and forty-five days. During that time, you will be able to personally inspect the boat, hire a professional marine surveyor, and take the boat out for a sea trial. Once all the contingencies in your offer are met, closing instructions are sent to the escrow and title companies to complete the process. Your deposit is returned to you in the unlikely event that the sale is not completed.

In all my investigations, this was the first time I had seen the boat-buying process explained step by step. It was more complicated than I expected, more so than buying a new car but less so than buying a house. Thinking in more familiar real estate terms, the marine surveyor would be equivalent to a real estate appraiser, making sure that any problems or shortcomings which would affect the value of the boat are carefully detailed. And like the appraiser, the surveyor would assist with compiling a list of contingencies to be met in order for the transaction to go forward.

In the real estate world, the broker normally makes a six percent commission on a sale. Looking around, it seems that ten percent is more the norm for yacht sales, which in the case of the San Carlos Valiant 40 works out to almost $8000. Surveyors normally charge between eight and fourteen dollars per foot, which works out to between $320 and $560. The title company would make at least a point, or about $800. So with all the fees considered, it would cost a little over $9000 to buy the boat at its listed price. This seems like a lot of money, but it is the cost of doing business with a yacht brokerage. If it was possible to bypass the broker and deal directly with the owner, as so many are doing now with real estate, the savings could be substantial.

As I was pondering all this new information and trying to figure out a way to convince my wife to let me drive down to Mexico to check out a boat, I happened to check the listing one day and saw that it was marked as "Sale Pending." Another hard lesson was learned, I guess: If you find what you're looking for, you need to act quickly or it will be gone.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Caucus in Colorado

On Super Tuesday, I attended my precinct's Democratic caucus at Scenic Elementary School. By 7:00 PM, there were close to three hundred people packed into an average-sized classroom, sitting at short tables on short chairs and standing three and four deep along the walls. Precinct captain Dan Robinson stood on a table to welcome us and get the evening started. He laughed as he told us that four years ago, during the 2004 election, only fifteen people showed up, so it was pretty obvious how important this election was to all of us. The smiles and nods all around confirmed his words and loosened up the crowd for what came next, an opportunity for people to speak on behalf of the Democratic candidates. Young and old, black and white, man and woman stood to declare their support for either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. The Obama supporters outnumbered the Clinton supporters about two to one. Situations like this have the potential to escalate into shouting matches, but to their credit, people were civil and supportive of each other.

When everyone had had their say, it was time to head to the gym and break up into groups by precinct number. Dan and our other precinct captain, Tom Acker, presided over our group. They began by handing out copies of the party's resolutions, which are worth presenting here in their entirety:


The Democratic Party has a long and proud history of hope, opportunity and progress toward a better life for the citizens of these United States. The Democratic Party is rooted in the ideas of our founding fathers as set forth in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This platform builds on these foundations.

Continuing Resolutions

This We Believe:

1. A healthy economy is dependent upon hard-working men and women receiving a fair living wage for their labor.

2. Working people have the right to organize and bargain collectively without fear of intimidation or permanent replacement during disputes.

3. A strong public education system with adequate and equitable funding and independence from political whims is the core element of modern society.

4. The health of an economy is dependent on the health of its environment, and it is necessary to have a clean environment to attract and keep well-paying jobs.

5. A healthy economy relies on appropriate maintenance of our public infrastructure, including roads, bridges, water, sewer, and funding of police, fire protection and school facilities.

6. While violent criminals definitely need to be imprisoned, more resources need to be devoted to programs that prevent crime, provide rehabilitation and reduce recidivism.

7. A system of universal health care coverage is needed to repair a badly broken and ineffective system currently unable to provide appropriate health care to Americans.

8. National security should not be used to limit those individual civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights on which this country was founded.

9. The constitutional guarantee to a right of privacy extends to decisions involving a woman's reproductive choices, and affordable and well-informed choices should be available to all.

10. Government support of community amenities including art and culture, parks and recreation, and historic preservation insures that they are available and affordable for all.

11. The integrity of the voting system and its accessibility must be preserved at all levels of government, with results being verifiable.

12. Freedom of speech and the press are the most vital of our constitutional rights. It is essential that we speak and write our concerns, regardless of current popular sentiment. We strongly oppose the concentration of our media in a few partisan hands.

13. The fundamental principles of freedom of religion and separation of church and state must not be compromised.

14. Social Security and Medicare reform must preserve benefits for current and future generations.

15. The right to equal treatment must be available to all persons regardless of race, creed, religion, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation/gender identity.

16. A grateful nation needs to provide its veterans with the best possible care, and, when necessary, rehabilitation.

Current Resolutions

This We Believe:

1. The proposed "Right to Work" initiative would destroy unions' ability to be a voice on behalf of working families in Colorado and would lead to more government interference in businesses and workplaces.

2. The costs to local government for supporting activities involving energy related mineral extraction must be ameliorated by a fair and equitable distribution of severance tax revenues. An increase in the severance tax rates to make them more comparable to neighboring states is long overdue.

3. The financial crisis in this state precipitated by the interaction of the Tabor Amendment, the Gallagher Amendment and Amendment 23 needs to be addressed.

4. Enhanced early childhood education and better identification of and programs created for gifted and talented students will benefit all citizens of the state.

5. In today's world, post-secondary education is critical in order to create the opportunity for success. Higher education must be available to all who seek it. Funding for higher education in Mesa County is not adequate and needs to be addressed by the legislature.

6. It is important that the borders of our country be secure. At the same time it is important to recognize that the undocumented immigrants seeking employment in the United States are for the most part responsible, hard-working individuals who deserve the respect afforded any person.

7. It is time for Mesa County to have a Recreation Center accessible to all.

8. The negative and misleading political advertising put forward by 527 organizations is abhorrent to all serious campaigners. We call for its elimination.

9. Democratic candidates should reject the abuse of power, violation of Americans' civil liberties, and contempt for the Constitution demonstrated by the current administration.

10. School districts must instill in our young people a community spirit by teaching and modeling fairness, tolerance and participation in the political process.

11. The development and use of renewable energy resources and technologies is essential to achieving lasting national security and energy independence. All energy exploration in Mesa County must be undertaken with the utmost regard for the continued protection of our health, our water, our air and our environment.

12. The future of our community lies with our young people, and their future is jeopardized by a lack of support services for children. The high rates of suicide, methamphetamine abuse and other self-destructive behaviors, and high rates of physical and sexual abuse of children in Mesa County speak to the importance of placing greater attention on the needs of our children.

13. The Women's Freedom Amendment should be added to the United States Constitution.

14. Automobile insurance needs to be affordable to all drivers, regardless of their economic status. Credit scores should be eliminated as a factor in setting rates since they most affect those who most need the insurance.

15. Economic development and jobs are important for the health and well-being of Colorado's residents, but we oppose subsidies and incentives that do not clearly result in the creation of new high-wage jobs. Furthermore, companies that move their manufacturing facilities offshore should lose any subsidies or tax breaks they may have received.

16. The No Child Left Behind Act has proven to be a failure, replacing teaching time with excessive testing.

17. The support of our troops in harm's way is compromised by the privatization of the armed forces instituted by this administration. Halliburton, Black Water and other friends of the administration have made obscene profits while shortchanging the young men and women serving our country.

18. Real science needs to be reintroduced to national health research in this country. Limitations placed on the use of federal funds in seeking advances in health care must be based on hard scientific facts rather than personal beliefs. New strains of viruses and antibiotic-resistant bacteria are potentially huge threats to the nation, and greater efforts at developing prevention are sorely needed.

19. Education vouchers and tax credits divert tax dollars away from public education and give them to unregulated and untested private schools, thus diminishing the financial support for Colorado's public schools.

With minor revisions, the resolutions were unanimously accepted. Finally, it was time for the straw poll. In my group of eighty-one, forty-six were for Obama, twenty-four were for Clinton and the rest were undecided. This worked out to five delegates for Obama, two for Clinton and one uncommitted. Hands were raised by those willing to attend the county caucus meeting next month either as a delegate or as an alternate. And then it was over.

I watched the primary and caucus results that night on MSNBC and was not at all surprised to see Colorado go for Obama by a two-to-one margin over Clinton, exactly as my precinct had. The results in other states were not so decisive, so the decision that Super Tuesday was predicted to render did not materialize. But Obama's better-than-predicted showing, as far as the polls were concerned, seemed to create momentum going into this past weekend that resulted in his sweep of all four state contests: Washington, Nebraska, Louisiana and Maine.

Tomorrow is the "Potomac Primary." Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC will help determine if Obama is indeed riding a wave a momentum, or if Clinton really is the presumptive candidate. My guess is that Obama will take all three states but win narrowly in Virginia. That will tip the delegate count firmly in his favor heading toward Ohio and Texas, but what about the superdelegates? Do they stand to thwart the will of the people? Are we heading toward another 2000 election fiasco before we even get to the nomination? These are exciting times.

Monday, February 4, 2008

"Whispering Jesse" revisited

Earlier today, one of John Denver's loyal fans emailed me John's explanation of his song, "Whispering Jesse", after which this blog is named:

There is a ski run at Snowmass called Whispering Jesse. I have no idea the story behind the name, but I've always loved it and wanted to write a song with that title. I also have a little girl now whose name is Jesse, and I wonder about what connection she may have with this song - although it happened long before she was born. I have a cabin in the high country, not far from Aspen. While I was there one night a few years ago, I dreamed about an old man sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of an old folks' home, looking off at the mountains in the distance and thinking of the life he had had there, the woman he had shared it with, the love that was theirs and the cabin they called home. I awoke with tears in my eyes. I lay awake for awhile, thinking about the dream, and then fell asleep. I had the same dream again, and once again awoke with tears in my eyes. This time, I got out of bed, picked up my guitar and walked outside to the lake, and in the beginning of the day wrote this song, which is perhaps my own personal favorite.
According to the fan, she found this paragraph on the Internet some time ago and saved a copy, which turned out to be a good idea because it is no longer posted there. I have done my share of searches and have never come across it before.

Back in March 2005, when I wrote "Where the name comes from", in which I told the story of my friendship with John, I guessed that the song was named after the Snowmass ski run and that John's daughter Jesse Belle was named after the song. Based on what John has to say, it looks like those were good guesses.

During one of my Internet searches, I found an excerpt from an article I believe appeared originally in an issue of the Snowmass Sun newspaper from a few years ago. It was a light-hearted attempt to explain some of the more colorful ski run names at Snowmass. The story behind Whispering Jesse went something like this:

When the ski area was being developed in the mid-1960s, one of the managers was a man named Jesse Caparrella. He had a reputation for shouting at his employees and thus became known as "Whispering" Jesse, like the tall guy whose nickname is "Shorty." So when it came time to name the newly cut ski runs, somebody--possibly somebody with a grudge--must have wanted to immortalize the nickname.

Whispering Jesse it was, and Whispering Jesse it remains. As far as I know, Mr. Caparrella still works for the Aspen Skiing Company, which oversees the Snowmass ski area, having celebrated his 50th anniversary with the company at the end of the 2005-2006 season.

I also happen to know that the cabin John mentions in his explanation is located on Warren Lake, near the top of Smuggler Mountain, a few miles east-southeast of downtown Aspen, at the end of the steep and rocky Smuggler Mountain Road. According to his assistant, Stephanie Ryan, John used the cabin frequently as a weekend getaway for family and friends. Most of that area is public land, so it would still be possible to visit the lake and try to find the cabin where the song was written.

Correction: An alert John Denver fan pointed out that I was wrong about the lake where John's cabin was located. It was Woods Lake, not Warren Lake. Woods Lake is located northeast of Ruedi Reservoir, which is due north of Aspen, off the Eagle-Thomasville Road. You can find it easily using Google Maps. I guess the ten years since John's death have clouded my memory. At least I got the "W" right.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Boat Quest, Part 7

Boat Quest, Part 7: Valiant 40 'Sea Hawk' in Fort LauderdaleAfter researching the Valiant 40 cutter-rigged sailboat and deciding that it was the best boat for what I had in mind, in terms of size, design, sail layout, equipment and price, I faithfully scanned the listings looking for an older one with a five-figure asking price. Due to the fiberglass blistering problem with some of the mid- to late-1970s Valiants, there were bound to be some bargains out there.

We took a few vacations during this time, around 2001 to 2007, to Florida, Mexico and the British Virgin Islands. Whenever we were near the coast or on an island, I would be on the look-out for Valiant 40s, but I never spotted one. This isn't too surprising since only 200 or so were ever manufactured.

It wasn't until I went on my Fort Lauderdale to Bahamas sailing trip with John Kretschmer that I was finally able to see a Valiant 40 sailboat in person. As the crew was getting acquainted on the first day, John asked each of us what kind of boat we owned. When he came to me, I explained that I had grown up sailing in Wisconsin and that I owned a vintage 1969 AMF Alcort Minifish but that I was hoping one day to buy a good, used Valiant 40. "What an interesting coincidence," he remarked. He knew of one for sale that was parked along New River in Fort Lauderdale, and he knew who the owner was. He passed it every time he moved his boat from its usual mooring spot farther up the river. We agreed to take a look at the end of the trip.

Five days later, after returning from our successful passage to the Bahamas, we tied up in front of the Downtowner Saloon on New River. The rest of the crew departed, but I stayed on John's boat Quetzal overnight to keep an eye on her. The next morning, John returned and the two of us piloted Quetzal up the river toward her mooring. At the wide spot where the river branches into its north and south forks, John pointed off to port and there she was, the first Valiant 40 I had ever seen. We motored over closer to get a better look. She looked worn and weathered, like she had been sailed hard for many years and then parked for many months. "Sea Hawk" was painted on her stern, and there was a badly faded for-sale sign taped to her wheel. John looped around a second time so I could try to write down the phone number from the sign. As we pulled away, I snapped the picture above. Sea Hawk is the boat with the rounded stern and blue trim between the two other boats in the center of the picture, which may be viewed in a larger size by clicking on it.

I wish I had also taken a picture of the for-sale sign because I didn't get the phone number written down correctly. When I got home, I tried calling it and found that it was not in service. I emailed John, and he said he would try to stop by and get the correct number for me, maybe call the owner himself to say hi and get reacquainted. Time went by, and John and I exchanged periodic email messages, but I never did get that number. After several months, I figured the boat had probably been sold to someone else and that I should just let it go.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Charlie's chemotherapy

Yesterday morning Charlie started the chemotherapy protocol recommended by Dr. Dernell at the CSU Animal Cancer Center. I dropped him off at the local Tiara Rado Animal Hospital, where they took a chest x-ray and an echocardiograph to check for metastasis in his thorax and provide a baseline for his treatment. He was clear but there were two heart abnormalities: an 18% thinning of the left ventricular wall and a bunching of that ventricle's papillary muscles that almost looked like a tumor on the echocardiograph. Dr. Marquis is not sure if these conditions are related to Charlie's cancer but he was concerned because the Adriamycin that is a component of the protocol is known to cause ventricular thinning as a side effect of treatment. Dr. Marquis recommended that when Charlie returns in three weeks for the second treatment, with the Carboplatin component of the protocol, we should repeat the echocardiograph to check his heart. If there is additional thinning, we may need to look at alternatives or possibly abandon the chemotherapy.

We weren't sure what to expect after the first treatment, but when I picked Charlie up in the afternoon, he was his usual self, so happy to see me that he leaned into my legs and moaned. We went for a walk when we got home, and his endurance was the same. His appetite was good as well, so he doesn't appear to be showing any adverse side effects. If his heart holds up, the chemotherapy may work well to keep him comfortable and prolong his life. I'll keep you posted.