OpenFiction [Blog]

We finally cleaned out the OCW freezer

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on September 22, 2011

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Update on Daniel

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 19, 2009

Just wanted to follow yesterday’s post with an update on Daniel.  His scans today were all clear, and there is no evidence of the return of the cancer. We are obviously relieved and thankful.   I appreciate all the kind messages and thanks to those of you who have made donations to our Jimmy Fund team.

We are deeply touched by the many notes from friends whose loved ones have suffered–and too many who have passed away–from cancer.  The SuperDans will keep all of them in our thoughts as we walk on September 13th.  Also, thanks to your generosity, I am approaching my goal of raising $500 individually.

As a team, though, we are still far short of our $10,000 overall goal, so if you are considering a donation, we still need your help.  Donations may be made on the team site ( and my individual site (

Again, thanks for all the notes of support, and thanks for helping us to support this cause.

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Help us end cancer

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 18, 2009

Tomorrow, Lori and I are taking Daniel to his next appointment at the Jimmy Fund Clinic to ensure he remains cancer free. Thankfully, the appointments are now every six months instead of every three, and now we go with a little less fear but still knowing that relapse for him is not entirely out of the question.  We are thankful he has remained free of cancer, but every visit to the Jimmy Fund Clinic is a reminder to us of the many children still battling this disease, the many families struggling to find their way back to a normal life with healthy, happy children.  As much as we would like to put the experience of Daniel’s illness behind us, we cannot forget their pain.

These children need better cures, and their caregivers need better funding.  For the third year, we will be walking in the Dana Farber/Jimmy Fund Boston Marathon Walk to ensure the care and cures will be available.  In each of the past two years, our team–the SuperDans–has raised over $10,000, and we’re aiming to do this again.  I have personally committed to raising $500, and I am asking you to help me reach that goal.  Please visit my page at ( and make a donation.  I appreciate any support you can provide.

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Productivity tools

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on August 3, 2009

I’m a sucker for productivity tools.  On a good day, I’d say it’s because I deal with a pretty high volume of unstrutured tasks and information at work, on a bad day (and probably Lori would concur) I’d say it’s because I am time and task-management challanged.   Either way,  I am always on the lookout for a silver bullet, or as it ususally turns out, a few of them.

I’ve settled on a new set of tools that has been stable for the last six months or so (somewhat of a record, so I thought it worth noting).  Right now I’m using the following:

FreeMind:  Open source mind mapping software I use at the highest level to track all of the activities in my domain at work.  I probably refer to it about once a week, just to make sure I am not letting any ideas or initiatives fall by the wayside, and to recalibrate my focus in the coming week.

GanttProject:  Project management tool I use for anything that requires some level of planning.  I’m sure I don’t use half of its capabilities, but it’s perfect for the kind of lightweight use I make of it.

Evernote:  After bitching about the license and using another digital notes program, I’ve decided the benefits offered by Evernote outweight any concerns I have (and I think they may have either clarified or modified the license somewhat).  Either way, Evernote is incredible and had helped me to really keep my e-mail inbox uncluttered (since I used to park e-mails with important information in my inbox).

Toodledo:  My work to-do list.  It’s the least favorite of my current tools, mostly becasue it doesn’t have a local client for my laptop.  I am still offline or in situations with spotty connectivity (such as on the MBTA’s service commuting home) that having to maniputlate the list online is a problem.  If I can find a list that has a nice local client and syncs with the iPhone (oh yeah, and is free) I’ll likely switch.

So I try not to lose track of things in FreeMind, plan what needs planned in GanttProject, take notes in Evernote, and draw together to-dos from Gantt and Evernote in Toodledo.  And for my home to-do’s with Lori, we use Zenbe lists.

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The tragedy of my personal commons

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on May 19, 2009

So for as long as I’ve had it, I’ve kept my wireless network unprotected, as my contribution to the common digital infrastructure. Never seemed to be a problem, except for the occasional car parked outside the house on what is a too-busy street for such a thing.

Two nights ago, though, Lori and I were watching the season finale of Lost, and kept having bandwidth issues.  After givign up and going to watch 30 Rock, and encountering the same issues on the NBC site, I realized the probelm had to be local.  I put a password on the wireless network, and the problem vanished.

Now I don’t know for sure, but it certainly seems as though someone was using way more than their share of free internet access.  The whole thing makes me a little sad.  Why can’t we all just get along?

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‘Cause you just never know

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on March 15, 2009

in the internet age:  I lost my wedding ring last week in California while touring Big Sur and Pebble Beach.  It’s a platinum band with the inscription “We are for each other.”  If anyone out there finds it and is of a mind to return it, perhaps they’ll find this note on a web search.

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Please support

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on February 24, 2009

A personal note about an issue close to me.  When my son was diagnosed with cancer, one of the very important types of support we received was from a young Rabbi who was Staff Chaplain at Dana-Farber/Jimmy Fund.  Rabbi Paskin had, only a few years before, lost his own daughter to a brain tumor, and since then devoted each Monday to serving patients and families at DF/JFC.  He also happened to be the Rabbi at one of the temples in Canton, one town over from ours.  His support as Daniel underwent surgery and chemotherapy, and his subsequent welcoming of us into the Temple Beth Abraham community, has been an important source of strength and healing for my family.

As Rabbi Paskin shares on the temple web site, the endowment supporting the Pastoral Care program at Dana Farber has been affected by the economic downturn, and positions there are at risk.  Rabbi Paskin has created a fund through his daughter’s foundation to try to generate additional support to maintain this important program.  I know too many people and families that have faced a cancer diagnosis and treatment, and have seen the importance many times of spiritual as well as physical care, regardless of faith or belief.  Whatever support you can give to this fund can help ensure that the families who come from all over the world for Dana-Farber/Jimmy Fund’s amazing treatment receive the same kind of pastoral support we did in our time of need.  Please see Rabbi Paskin’s note on the TBA site for more information about how to support the fund.

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In Shadows

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on February 13, 2009

Installment 5 in a life lived backwards.  This was our first off-treatment scan.

In Shadows

In this darkened room, we are looking
for signs this horror has returned.
For you, we make a game of this–
jelly belly and Superman pictures.
In a lead drape, your mother holds
your hands as the x-ray lays
a gunsight on your back.

I first saw you in the shadows
of an ultrasound. Like some distant
traveler from nothingness
into light, you journeyed for months,
drawing nearer. Now, in the shadows

of your own body, we are seeking
deadly signs, the ghosts
of what should not be there.
“Turn him on his stomach,” says the tech.
She works the wand across
your back three times, and then
a fourth. “I’m going to call in
the radiologist.” She leaves the room
and the three of us, suspended.

Five minutes from now,
the radiologist will enter, he will
peer into the dark cathode tube,
tell us the shape they’ve seen
is only fat–your body restoring itself,
returning to health.  But in the stillness

before he comes, you sleep
on the table–breath slow and steady–
as your mother and I sit silent
in the dim light of the machine
and imagine you falling
back into darkness, in shadows
beyond skilled hands in latex
or your parents’ desperate grasp.

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Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on January 22, 2009

Suffered a catastrophic failure of the hard drive on my primary machine. The catalog structure is completely trashed. I may yet get the files back, but it’s going to be a lot of pain an anguish to rebuild my digital life. And I’m traveling all next week, which makes it even more complicated. I’m currently using the laptop I had three years ago, which has a cracked monitor held together with three binder clips (what can’t you use a binder clip for?). Anyway, if I seem to be ignoring anyone, it’s likely a side effect of this issue.

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Conquer Childhood Cancer Act Passed

Posted in Uncategorized by scarsonmsm on July 30, 2008

I’m very happy to share that the Conquer Childhood Cancer Act was signed into law yesterday, authorizing $30 million annually over five years to support the work of the Children’s Oncology Group and other pediatric cancer researchers.  My son is healthy today because of  years of research, and this funding will help insure that more children are returned to health and others (and their families) are spared the battle.  $30 million a year is not nearly enough, buit it is a big step.

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