Apple Invitation Speculation
Please allow me to indulge myself in some unnecessary, just-wait-7-days-you-impatient-moron speculation on the Apple invitation.
What I see and what it could mean:
1. COLORS - There are 17 different hues of color on the invite: 6 blues, 3 yellows, 2 purples, 2 reds, 2 oranges, 1 green, 1 pink.
We pretty much know Apple is adding colors to the iPhone lineup so that’s the most obvious thing. It could be the only thing that it means to communicate about the event. Apple tends to focus on one major announcement in the invite, but normally has other announcements as well. I don’t understand all the different shades. Perhaps it’s a just diversion to keep people from immediately reacting to the specific color choices on the purported 5C.
Apple’s practice of keeping its mouth shut leaves the door open for any announcement. Which leads me to…
2. CIRCLES - There are only circles and the Apple logo.
Why circles? Did they just get tired of using rounded squares representing app icons? Then why not rectangles? Is there something special about circles? A lot of people agreed with Neven Mrgan that the “Jony Ive Grid” and the circles that supposedly fit in it are just wrong.
But maybe Sir Jony has a little something up his sleeve.
3. WHITE CIRCLES WITH GRAY RINGS
I say “rings” because they are done a specific way; so specific that it seems they had to have been done that way intentionally. It’s not just a border to indicate there’s a white circle for a white iPhone. It’s thicker and it’s a specific color with darker borders on both sides of the gray ring.
There are four white circles total, none of which exhibit any transparency like the other colored circles. Know what else doesn’t exhibit transparency? Physical objects like watch faces.
I’m ruling out the possibility that the white circles only represent a white iPhone.
I don’t know exactly what that choice means, but I have a feeling it’s going to be a doozy anywhere on the spectrum from circular app icons or a fingerprint scanning home button to an announcement of a new device SDK.
4. HELVETICA NEUE 7 - Start with the red circle in the top left corner, go over 3 circles and then down to the left a little. It appears very similar to the Helvetica Neue ‘7’ that is being used in iOS 7.
No big deal. Just a tiny detail I wonder if they considered.
5. WORDS - “This should brighten everyone’s day.”
An exposition of Apple’s diction:
This - The event overall, meaning mainly the products and services being announced.
Should - Presumably if you’re paying attention to this invitation, it will affect you.
Brighten - Apple’s saying, “We’re using bright colors on the new iPhone 5C body. iOS has brighter colors as well. And, shhhh, but there’s also this new, amazing flash included in the 5S that can brighten an entire room, which allows you to capture beautiful photographs in low light.”
Everyone’s - Apple chose “everyone’s” over “your” to hint at the fact that the new lower-cost iPhone is meant to appeal to everyone more than past iPhones have.
Day - This is just to complete the colloquialism and pun.
Over 500 words on this topic will do for now.
So parenting has been hard in all times and places, and all times and places have put their unique (and imperfect) spin on it—parenting being hard because living is hard. Having said that, I suspect that the particular flavor of parenting in our time has something to do with our relative affluence—I think we live in a time of just soul-crushing materialism. And by this I mean both that (1) we value material possessions way too much and (2) we believe way too much that the only true or real thing is what can be immediately seen and measured—that is, we live in profoundly anti-spiritual times, and operate under the unfortunate de factoassumption that we just happen to be built such that our mental abilities enable us to know exactly everything there is to know about the universe, just as we are, no strain or work or faith in the reality of things unseen. This is a fundamentally worldly and limited viewpoint: what we see is what there is, period.
Most revolutions, though, don’t make it that far. Usually, when the leader departs, his closest lieutenants scheme and fight for the throne, and the entire movement implodes. This was always my fear for Apple: Steve Jobs was the glue that united a strong, stubborn, and talented company that continually operated under high pressure. What would happen when the glue was gone? Tim Cook has answered that question: the glue is Apple, and the ideology is design. It is a shared belief system that “No” is more important than “Yes,” that focus is essential to making great products, and that no one individual is essential. Not Steve Jobs, and certainly not Scott Forstall.
Perhaps you can quote the GTD literature chapter and verse, understand lean and MVP and the modern meeting standard. Maybe you now delete your emails with a swipe. It’s possible you’ve read not just this blog but fifty others, every day, and understand go to market strategies and even have a virtual assistant to dramatically increase your productivity.
I Don’t Have Cancer
The short version of this story is:
For about two weeks we thought I had some form of cancer. Then for a few days we thought the 6x7 centimeter mass behind my stomach area was just an extra spleen. Now, we sort of know it’s not just an extra spleen, but it’s not cancer either. It’s spleen tissue, plus some other type of tissue that ain’t supposed to be there. So, I’ll be having rather invasive surgery December 18 to get that sucker out of there. We’re quite relieved it’s not cancer. Many were praying to that end and no doubt, God heard and answered the prayers one way or another.
The long version for posterity’s sake is:
The Monday before Thanksgiving I went to my regular doctor’s office because I felt like my spine was out of alignment. We had already used up our insurance deductible for the year, and back issues can worsen long-term, so I figured I’d go see what they had to say. They did an x-ray of my back, but noticed something odd in my abdomen. They called it “pancreatic calcifications” and sent me for a CT scan the next day. Meanwhile, I hit the google machine hard; the results for “pancreatic calcifications” were not encouraging. I told myself to be patient and just see what we hear from the CT scan.
I do the scan. We get the boys down to sleep. Ashley and I huddle in our room praying and discussing what life will be like with cancer. How will we explain it to Kessler? How will we tell our families? How will we respond if it’s something really bad? We keep reminding each other I don’t necessarily have cancer. We are eagerly awaiting the results of the CT scan when a doctor friend of ours who knows people in the abdominal scan-reading biz offers to try to get us the results of the scan. We accept. Twenty minutes later he calls with the results. These are my notes from the call:
- This is just based off an initial read
- There’s a mass behind the pancreas, that’s 5x7 centimeters. It’s retroperitoneal.
- Could be lymphoma, sarcoma, testicular cancer or some other rare type of cancer
- There’s a chance it could be something benign
- First step is to get with a urologist
- Then set up an oncologist appointment
- Do some lab tests, maybe more scans
I thank him profusely, knowing it’s probably not easy to tell someone bad news like this. Then I hang up the phone and say audibly, “I have cancer.” I like to boldly acknowledge reality, regardless of its harshness. I repeat the phrase several times before editing myself to say, “I probably have cancer.” Our doctor friend was careful to explain that it’s an initial read; that there’s no way you can really know without more scans and blood work.
We toss and turn through the night. Around 3am, Ashley gives up and goes downstairs to make some Thanksgiving food. I can’t sleep either. My mind can’t fully think about anything else. But I don’t know how to think about it. Or, what to think about it, especially considering I don’t even know exactly what the mass is. I spend the whole day trying to process, asking God for clarity, wisdom, etc. Kessler and I have a man-morning where he rocks his Carhartt overalls while we rake leaves. I’m basically biding time until a 1 o’clock appointment with the urologist. Any time I’m around Ashley, she and I talk almost solely about how we’re feeling. We note different things about our lives that are going to be affected, just randomly as they come to our mind and when we’re in a spot to discuss without Kessler understanding what we’re trying to say. We meet with the urologist to give him some history, do some blood work, and schedule more scans. He kind of gives us the same story; it’s probably some type of cancer, but could be benign. We go home. The boys nap. Ashley and I try to nap and talk more and pray together. The reality begins to set in.
The boys wake up from naps and we figure we need to get out of the house. So we go on a walk. Ashley and I once again only talk about how we’re feeling as a response to the news. I try to be goofy and have fun with Kessler but it feels fake. I tell Ashley, “It’s weird. This is a dagger, a true dagger, but I haven’t really felt sad yet.”
We get back home to fix grilled cheese sandwiches and soup, the perfect after-a-long-family-walk-on-a-cool-crisp-autumn-night meal. We sit down at the table. I, representing the strong fatherly figure, say in a firm voice, “Let’s pray.” We all join hands and then I start. Kessler interrupts, “Hey Dad, I wanna pray.” In a sweeter than normal, gentler than normal voice he prays, “Dear God…” He thanks God for this day, his cousins, some other things I don’t remember and then he says, “and dear God thank you for me and mommy and daddy and Crosby.” It hits me. My lips tighten and tears bust out of my closed eyes. I hide my head low to not let Kessler see me. Then I walk away.
I make it to the steps 15 feet away and bawl like a 30 year old dude who just found out he has cancer. It feels like rubble from a falling building is piling up on my chest. I can’t put my finger on what all I’m feeling. I think some thoughts about not getting to raise my boys anymore, some thoughts about not getting to be with the best wife in the world, some thoughts about my mom watching me die.
I know the trigger was Kessler thanking God for our family. But I’m not sure exactly why it hit me so hard right then.
I have cancer. At least that’s what it sounds like. I plan to address it just like I do any other situation or circumstance in my life. It starts by acknowledging the human condition; walking dead in need of a savior. Then acknowledging that God is sovereign, mighty, holy, compassionate, and loving. God is in control. “Yep, you’re right God. You are God and I am not.”
I still can’t get the thoughts out of my mind. I go for a run to try to burn off some stress. Today is the day we’re actually going to tell other people, Ashley’s family. I shower and mentally rehearse how I’m going to tell them. First we go to my Meemaw’s house to celebrate Thanksgiving with all her family. She’s 86 and set up for around 40 people to come to her house for a pot luck Thanksgiving lunch. The weather is gorgeous; 63°, sunny, clear skies. We run around in her big back yard throwing football, playing bean bag toss, and playing with the kids. But it’s not fun. I can’t be totally present. Of course, everyone is asking me the usual haven’t-seen-you-in-a-while question, “How are things?” I anticipate the standard question but can’t come up with a good response, so I just say, “Great!”
I fake it well enough and then head up the road to my parents’ house to let Kessler and Crosby take short naps before heading to Ashley’s sister’s house. We get to Heather’s house. We’re laughing, “having a good time”, hanging out for a bit before dinner. The 3 crazies, as we fondly call our toddlers when they get together, are playing down in the basement. We adults get to be adults. We talk about football, the latest technology devices, running, etc.
It’s odd what’s going on in my mind at this point. It’s not like I’m thinking only about me and my predicament. But I’m not not only thinking about it either.
We have a great dinner and good conversation. The 3 crazies go back downstairs to continue their playing. Now I have to tell everyone the news. I pretty much stick to the mental script I’d created that morning. They respond well. They can empathize easily because Ashley’s mom has had more than her fair share of health scares in the past.
We finish up talking and head home for another sleepless night.
We head over to my parents’ house first thing in the morning to get a full day in with my siblings and their families. The plan is for me to tell them after lunch. I had to leave for an MRI at 2:30, so I needed to start talking around 2 o’clock. I try to get the kids distracted by playing downstairs and then watching a show. Time gets away from us. We only have about 10 minutes to chat before I have to leave. I do my scan, come back to my parents’ house, and we sort of act like everything is fine before heading home for yet another tossy-turny night.
The Two Weeks After Thanksgiving
We meet with an oncologist. It feels odd to meet with a cancer doctor. We walk in to the cancer center and there are lots of bald 50 year old women with their healthy husbands, lots of 70 year old men with their healthy wives, and then me with healthy Ashley. Based on what the oncologist tells us, we’re still in a little bit of limbo where we think I probably have cancer, but nothing has been determined definitively. He said there’s a chance it’s a benign mass. Or it could be some sort of Lymphoma. Or it could be some sort of Sarcoma or other weird words that he kind of skimmed over. All the blood work came back as normal. The scans came back as “indeterminate”. Basically, we don’t learn much other than the fact that I need a biopsy; they need to get some cells off the mass to determine what it is. We set an appointment with the oncologist for the following week to get the biopsy results. “If we call you any sooner, it’s probably not a good thing”, he says. “But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing.” Preciate ya, doc.
Sunday night around 7:45, a number I don’t recognize pops up on my phone. I hurriedly answer. It’s the oncologist. He says, “I hope I’m not interrupting dinner. Do you have a few minutes to chat?” “NO I DON’T HAVE TIME TO TALK TO YOU. YOU EXPECT ME TO PUT MY FORK DOWN FOR TWO MINUTES SO YOU CAN GIVE ME THE RESULTS OF A TEST THAT TELLS ME WHETHER OR NOT I HAVE CANCER?!?!?!?!”
He stalls a bit and finally says, “So, I talked with the pathologist and it ends up the cells they got from your mass are actually splenic cells.”
“Splenic cells, cells from the spleen.”
“So the mass is actually a spleen? Or did they miss on the biopsy?”
“The pathologist is sure they’re splenic cells and the radiologist is sure he got the cells from the mass. The only real conclusion we can make from that is that it’s an accessory spleen.”
“So this mass we thought was probably cancer is probably a spleen?”
I try to think of a reason to not starting dancing a jig. I can’t think of one.
We chat a few more minutes and he gives a few caveats, of course. Nothing this whole time has been clear cut. Why would it start now?
He recommends a PET scan to measure, as I understand it, the hyper metabolic activity of the tissue; the rate at which the cells are moving and growing. He also wants to present my case to the Tumor Board where 15 smart people get in a room and project fancy x-rays of patients onto a movie screen. He presents my case with the results of my PET scan.
Ashley and I meet with him the day after Tumor Board to get the results of my PET scan and a recommendation. On a PET scan, anything in the 8-40 range is cancer. This sucker came up as 3.1. BAM.
To make a long story shorter than it would be if I made it longer than I make it, he and other smart doctors recommended surgery. It’s not a clear cut decision, but considering all the facts, which are few, we think it’s best to remove this thing. I’m having the surgery on Tuesday, December 18. It’s pretty invasive and somewhat risky because this extra spleen thing is near my renal vein which connects to my kidney, and it’s near my abdominal aorta - and other stuff too.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Probably on twitter.
We got the pathology report today.
The mass we thought was a spleen is actually Castleman’s disease, a rare illness that affects immune-cell structures in your body.
Castleman can be in one spot or all over your body. It responds well to surgical removal and is associated with a benign course. Mine was in one spot. And the surgeons got it all out. Bam.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were brutal for pain, but I turned the corner today and we’re heading home tomorrow.
Thank you for your prayers.