What ails Steve Jobs?

Two people familiar with Steve Jobs’ current medical treatment said he was not suffering from a recurrence of cancer, but a condition that was preventing his body from absorbing food, reports the New York Times. Doctors have also advised him to cut down on stress, which may be making the problem worse, these people said.

Jobs, 53, recovered from pancreatic cancer after surgery in 2004, but has appeared unusually gaunt at recent appearances.

Worryingly, Mayo Clinic endocrinologist Michael D Jensen told the Wall Street Journal:“Most hormonal
problems are eminently treatable. (But) I would be hard pressed to think of
something (other than a recurrence) that would require a five month
leave of absence.”

Jobs, in a staff letter, said he was taking medical leave till the end of June because "I have learned that my health-related issues are more complex than I originally thought".

In June last year, when Jobs appeared strikingly thin at a company conference for programmers, an Apple spokeswoman said he was recovering from a “common bug.” Soon afterward, Jobs acknowledged to the New York Times that he was suffering from digestive difficulties related to an operation he had as part of his cancer treatment. Apple revealed in early January that Jobs was suffering from a hormone imbalance that was impeding his body's ability to absorb certain proteins. recalls CNET News.

Jobs, in his staff letter, said he was passing day-to-day management of the company to his chief operating officer, Tim Cook, reports the Wall Street Journal. But he added:" As CEO, I plan to remain involved in major strategic decisions while I am out." Cook filled in for Jobs in 2004 when the Apple chief took time off to battle his cancer.

"Apple loses billions"

Apple shares dropped sharply in after-hours trading, reports the New York Times. VentureBeat notes:

At 4:46pm, before Jobs’ announcement was made public, Apple’s stock stood at $85.60-a-share. By 5:00pm just after the announcement hit, the stock had plummeted nearly 10 percent to $78.44-a-share. That’s almost $6.4 billion lost off the company’s market cap in 14 minutes.

The stock actually fell even further after the initial plunge, by 5:08pm it was at $77.94-a-share. Since then, it’s come back a bit, and currently stands just a tad above the $80-a-share mark — still well below where it ended the trading day.

Cook: "The guy who makes trains run on time"

is thought to be a good choice to run the company during Jobs’ absence,
although he’s not the person who will develop Apple’s next iconic
product, said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates,
reports Macworld.

Cook’s the guy who makes the trains run on time. He’s not the creative
genius,” Kay said. “Even though in some sense he is an excellent
manager and is the backstop for Steve … that’s not going to do anything
except make the trains run on time. That’s not going to decide what the
train should look like in five years.”

Cook, who
majored in industrial engineering at Auburn University in Alabama and
did his MBA at Duke University, joined Apple in 1998 after stints at
Compaq Computer Corp. and other companies. He put Apple's operations
back on track and is considered to be the key architect behind the
company's supply chain and logistics strategy that allows the company
to efficiently outsource the manufacturing of its products in Asia.

Jobs and his designers

Jobs' health is key to Apple, reports the Wall Street Journal. He co-founded Apple in 1976, was dismissed in a boardroom coup in 1985 and began a second leadership stint at Apple in 1997. He is widely credited for reviving the then-struggling computer maker in the late 1990s with hit products such as the iMac desktop computer.

While Jobs takes an unusual hands-on role in design decisions, people familiar with the company's inner workings say the company's design team should be able to keep churning out innovative products, barring an exodus of top talent, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Jobs serves more like an "editor in chief" in refining and improving ideas for Apple gadgets, according to former Apple executives such as Bill Bull.The hands-on work of Apple's innovations depends more directly on subordinates such as Jonathan Ive, an Apple senior vice president who oversees the company's industrial design team. His group is primarily associated with the physical look and feel of products, such as the unusually slender Macbook Air.

Jobs on death

Jobs has publicly talked before about how the prospect of death spurs him on, the Journal adds. In a commencement speech he gave at Stanford University in June 2005, Jobs told the crowd that "no one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share."

He added, "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life."

The Jobs email

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Poems and maps

I just added links to a few pages I created. Neither the Google Maps nor the poems are mine. I added the maps because Calcutta (Kolkata) is my hometown and Singapore where I am now. And the poems happen to be particular favourites of mine. Clicking on the horizontal tabs at the top of the page will lead to the maps and the poems. (And so will the links underlining those two words.)

Day Bath

Valentine’s Day isn’t complete for long-married couples like me and my wife without the significant other in our lives. My wife in Calcutta (Kolkata) loved this poem when I read it out to her over the phone from Singapore. Both of us were thinking of our son, now in college in America. This poem took us back in time when he was a baby and loved being bathed by his mum.

Day Bath

By Debra Spencer

Last night I walked back and forth,
his small head heavy against my chest,
round eyes watching me in the dark
his body a sandbag in my arms
I longed for sleep but couldn’t bear his crying
so bore him back and forth until the sun rose
and he slept. Now the doors are open,
noon sunlight coming in,
and I can see fuchsias opening.
Now we bathe. I hold him, the soap
makes our skins glide past each other.
I lay him wet on my thighs, his head on my knees,
his feet dancing against my chest,
and I rinse him, pouring water
from my cupped hand.
No matter how I feel, he’s the same,
eyes expectant, mouth ready,
with his fat legs and arms,
his belly, his small solid back.
Last night I wanted nothing more
than to get him out of my arms.
Today he fits neatly
along the hollow my thighs make,
and with his fragrant skin against mine
I feel brash, like a sunflower.

Singalong at Novena church

I had a lovely surprise when after visiting the Potong Pasir and Little India temples yesterday evening, I wound up at Novena church. Two women singers backed by two guitarists and a keyboard player were singing Christian music. The congregation was singing along encouraged by the singers. The simple lyrics were flashed on a screen with background pictures so even those not familiar with the songs could join in.

I have seen evangelicals singing similar songs but this is the first time I have witnessed such a singalong by the Catholics at Novena church. I was moved by the music. I love the hymns sung during services, but this too was beautiful. The simple lyrics and the contemporary music touched a chord in me. The singers sang with passion and the congregation responded beautifully, raising voices in harmony. It was a religious experience, encouraging worship and devotion. I wish besides praising Jesus, the group had sung about Mother Mary too. Her turn will come. There will be prayers to her on Saturday when people from all over Singapore will gather at the church to say their novenas.