Monthly Archives: June 2010

Prayer (or at least Good Thoughts) Requests

Just a couple:

First, Tara and I are heading up to Westercon for the weekend.  Since this does entail a bit of a drive (but not too far), we could use prayers for safe travel.  Additionally, we are both a bit sore and moving-challenged – Tara because of a fall at work earlier this week, me because of my hernia surgery last week – so prayers of no problems with loading and unloading the car, nor moving around the hotel, would also be appreciated.

Second, my father is getting hip replacement surgery tomorrow (and I just realized I haven’t called them since just after my surgery – bad son!).  Obviously prayers for this much more serious operation and recovery, and that it actually address his movement problems.

{Given that this is the third member of my family to have a hip joint replaced in the last several years, after my mother and one sister, and the twinges I get occasionally in my left hip, I’ll admit to being somewhat concerned about how long my hip joints will hold out, but I don’t need prayer on that just yet}

Thank You

State of Recovery

Figuring that I might have shown a decent level of recovery in the week since my surgery, I decided to see if I could take a walk today.  Before the surgery and after the move to the bus – which left me with 60-90 minutes each day stuck at work after what would otherwise be the end of my work day – I’d been taking walks at lunch time, and sometimes at the end of the day.

I have 3 or 4 routes that I commonly use, but only one that doesn’t involved a whole lot of hills, the walk along the canyon behind my office.

So, this was the walk I took.  It also has the advantage of being an out and back type walk, so I can turn around anywhere along the route and head back.  I’d kind of hoped to make it at least half-way or further.

But, after about 15 minutes, I realized that if I didn’t turn around, I’d probably be sore and tired.  As it is, I’m defiantly showing some extra tiredness and soreness.

Two things about this occur to me.  First, I’m glad that I had the wheelchair last Saturday at the fair – even if Tara suspects that I strained my abdomen some driving the chair.  But, I’m also worried about this weekend at Westercon where I may find myself wanting to spend some time walking about rather than just sitting.  Of course since I’ve got two different tables where my services may be needed (Chicago in 2012 bid and the Conjecture/ConDor/Anime Conji/San Diego Steam shared table(s)) and panels, I may be able to keep myself from spending too much time walking around.

Last Night’s Emergency

Last night, I was taking care of some business before bed in “The Reading Room” (I was also reading), and I thought Tara was getting ready to leave to be at the hospital about 11:00 for her midnight shift, when she started pounding on the door.  As she was getting ready to go out the front door, the cat – who moments before had been nowhere to be seen, and has shown no prior interest, shot out the front door.

Tara was able to watch him go into the bushes to the left of the door, but lost track of him while she went to get me.  Over the next 30 or so minutes ago, I slowly equipped myself with a shirt, sandals and a flashlight – which needed new batteries – and we kept looking and getting more and more frantic.

Sam is a dark gray cat, and we don’t live in a brightly lit neighborhood (it is North County Inland, so no neighborhood has a lot of street lighting) so it was a bit hard to find.

At one point, I got the dog out of his kennel and put him on his harness and asked him to “Find Sammy” – which often works in the house.  But outside, at night, he just wanted to sniff all of the other smells, and leave a few of his own.

About 10:30 one of the teenage daughter’s of our next door neighbor came home with her friend (I’m guessing really boyfriend), so we finally had four of us looking.  Shortly the neighbor’s friend spotted him one yard past their yard and Tara and I tried to approach him from two sides, but he slipped past me back in the direction of the house.  After a bit more herding, he headed into the house and fortunately not back out through the wide open garage.

In the house I managed to catch him and try to let him know that he wasn’t in trouble (after all, he’d had two of his people practically in tears as we feared we’d lost him).  Tara came in and – in addition to being a bit worried that I’d picked up the 17 pound cat less than a week after abdominal surgery – noticed that Sam was dirty and wet.  So she got out a towel and we dried him off a bit.  She then put the towel on her side of the bed (as much to protect the bed as anything).

It was now nearly an hour after I’d planed on going to bed, and more than that since I probably should have.  But, I was keyed up so I watched the news for a while, and was shortly joined by the cat who looked at the towel and acted like it had been put there just for him, and proceeded to sit there and finish cleaning himself – but otherwise acted like nothing bad had happened all night.

I did sleep in this morning, so drove into work rather than taking the bus.  I also made sure the cat wasn’t trying to sneak out as I was leaving.  Of course having to step over the dog who I’d decided could stay out of his kennel until Tara got home probably helped.

San Diego County Fair – Part 2

Today, Tara and I returned to the San Diego County Fair for the second Saturday, and were able to see a lot of the stuff we didn’t get to last week – and get a few bad for us food items we missed last week as well.

Since I still have a healing wound in my abdomen, I played it safe and rented a wheel chair so I could rest easily, or at least rest from walking.  We also got a bit later of a start that originally hoped for, and my breakfast ran away sooner than I’d expected, so the morning wasn’t quite a long as originally planned, but it went fairly well.

After we got inside, we worked our way over to the Ag building, where we enjoyed looking at the rabbits and cavies (a.k.a. guine pigs) at least until the crowds around the judging tables made it too hard to get through.  We looked at the rest of what was in the building and then worked our way outside.

Once outside, I realized I was getting both sore and hungry, so I climbed into the chair – which I’d been pushing before this, and we worked our way to the main hub, looking for something for lunch.  After deciding that I didn’t want any lunch item based on Navajo Fry Bread, I decided to get what I’d had the previous week – a smoked chicken panini, albiet one with bacon and probably more butter than minimally necessary.

After eating, we worked our way up the main drag a bit further, and decided that the best way to the infield – where we’d not made it either last week or last year – was through the nearby tunnel.

This was the first interesting experience in the wheel chair.  I’d forgotten to grab my work gloves we’d found last weekend, so it was a bit hard to slow the wheels without rubbing my hands to hard.  Then the breaks on the chair were uneven – on the right they bit too hard and on the left not hard enough.  So, to control speed I kept having to actually stop the wheels – and I had enough momentum to actually skid a bit doing this.

Once we reached the bottom, we decided that I’d be better off pushing the chair back up, so I pushed it around for a while while we looked at some of the first exhibits in the infield.

Then we found a tent with more youth and school exhibits and competitions which was featuring the first day of the two day youth autonomous robotics competition.  We sat for a while, not quite hearing a very good technical presentation by an older student on his fully built from parts robot – and his design for the next generation.  Not too long after we sat down, however, one of the judges interrupted him and told the other students around that if they’d been listening to him, rather than their headphones, they’d have heard the solution to their algorithm problems, and then had the presenter repeat this part.  Clearly this judge is a teacher who cannot let a teachable moment pass.

After watching some of the other teams run their buggy roomba-based robots through the maze, we headed off, only to find a life-size robotic giraffe.  Tara, and I, spent some time talking to the people who made it about how it was built and ideas for the next generation before moving on to look at some of the other local organization exhibits and returning to the main part of the fair.

When we returned over the bridge – although it looks like we could have crossed directly across the track as well –  Tara found one of the booths serving something she wanted to try.  We then made a run through the theme building – this year “A Tour of The Taste” full of more food-related displays and presentation.

Finally we worked our way back down the main drag for our last bad food – an order of cheese curds that we split, some Navajo Fry Bread for me, and some ice cream for Tara.  I didn’t tell the people in the fry bread booth that this wasn’t quite the fair fry bread I’m used to, since they aren’t actually Navajo, nor did they cook it over a Colman Stove.

Today was also the fair’s Gospel Fest, so there were a number of Christian Acts performing around the grounds.  I did pick up a sampler CD from one, local, label which is mostly modern Gospel Soul type music, but still pretty good.

We had a good time at the fair, and I think we are faired out for another year – which is good since Westercon is next weekend and the fair closes after that.

I did learn some things about spending time in a wheelchair as well.  First, I can now understand why people dependent on wheelchairs either have decent upper body condition or use powered chairs – they can take a bit of upper body energy to get moving.  Fortunately, I could apply this without stressing my recent surgery wound.  Second, I discovered that they can be a bit harder to steer than one might expect, but not as hard as I had feared.  However, only from a complete stop could I make the sharpest turns – turns where I fully stopped or reversed one wheel.  I also learned that in crowds, people seem to pay almost less attention to a wheel chair than they do a walker.  At least twice I had to stop fairly quickly to avoid hitting someone who just cut right in front of me, and on another occasion had Tara run into my back when I stopped to avoid hitting someone who’d just stopped in the middle of the way.

I also know that if – and I hope it will never come to pass – I need to use a wheelchair again in this kind of situation, I’ll need to have gloves with me.  My hands just don’t have the callouses to deal with this long term.  They are tired even with me having walked about half of the time.

Follow-up: The Draft

For what it is worth, I’ve put a draft of what I’ve written so far up as a “Page” on my WordPress site.  It can be found at

Doing (a bit) of something I normally wouldn’t think of

Between their availability through Netfix and my extra free time during surgery recovery, I’ve managed to re-watch all of Red Dwarf over the last several days, not quite in order.  Because it was on a physical disk rather than a streaming download, I ended up watching “Back to Earth” before a lot of the earlier episodes.  Not too surprisingly this was the only totally new material for me, so I was familiar with all that went before.

Now, there are some spoilers to follow, so if you don’t want to risk learning something about an unseen episode, don’t read any further.

Continue reading

After Surgery – I’m alive

I had my hernia fixed yesterday.  I’m alive, and am not doing too badly.

Oddly enough – but not if I think about where the injury is – I’m a lot more sore after this one than I was after the thyroid surgery.

I’m taking it more or less easy today – working through more Red Dwarf.  But tomorrow, I’m supposed to be working from home.  We’ll see how I’m doing.

Not Quite My Normal Job

I just spent an hour or so in our lab, hooking up test equipment.

This is a bit out of the box for me since for the last almost 21 years almost any time I’ve had to even step into a lab to do testing, the equipment has been more or less tightly controlled by a team that did most or all of the major set up and, as often as not, didn’t like software people messing too much with the basic infrastructure.

But, that doesn’t appear to be as much the way at my current employer.

This morning, the lab team moved a bunch of equipment from a shared bench in the lab to one that will be dedicated to automated testing using a tool I’m also getting ready to take or supporting (at least in San Diego, and I suspect at a higher level also in Santa Clara).  They set up one piece of tricky hardware, but left the rest in more or less the equivalent location.

So, armed with pictures of the front of the old setup, an almost certainly out of date manual, and a bit of intuition I started moving and setting stuff up.

Between what the manual said, and some memories of 20+ year old discussions with my dad, I guessed that I needed to daisy-chain the GPIB/IEEE-488 cables (which I’m sure my dad would still call “HPIB”), hooked up most of the RF connections, and plugged some USB connections into what I’m 90% sure is the correct PC.

But, there are still a couple of RF connections that I’m not sure where they go – but they are important!  And there is the whole matter of actually getting the system powered back up and start working through some tests to see if it is at least close to the state it was in before it got moved.

I think I also managed to avoid popping my hernia back out, or at least back out too badly, even though I kept moving a fairly heavy RF shielding box between the two benches trying to decide where it actually needed to stay.

San Diego County Fair – Part One

Today Tara and I headed to the San Diego County Fair (which is bigger than either the DuPage County Fair and Lake County Fair, but smaller than the New Mexico State Fair).  We got there shortly before opening – but not shortly enough so we ended up at the back of the security/entrance queue.

We had a good time, but only saw part of what we’d like.  Today we saw the art – spending a bit of time finding the best photograph – and then the crafts and collection.  We now are absolutely convinced that Tara needs to enter part of her robot collection next year.

After that we split a pork tenderloin (which is an Iowa sandwich, not a Texas sandwich in spite of what the vendor says) and looked at the rocks and the wood craft.  The wood craft also had a people’s choice award, but they were allowing (even encouraging) multiple votes which made it easier.

We also looked through the areas selling junk (and some nice stuff), some of the flower and garden exhibits and got some more food.

We left a bit after 4.

One problem for me is that, really for the first time, my hernia was out (or the intensities were outside of  hernia) and causing a bit of pain.  For much of the day this plagued me, and was worse since I’m leery of taking NSIDs (Advil) this close to surgery – the pre-op nurse on Wednesday was surprised the doctor hadn’t told me to stop already.

We are going to need to go back, which may be fun since the next time we can go (next Saturday) is just a few days after I’ll have abdominal surgery.  So, on our way out we looked at the prices for renting wheelchairs or powered carts.  When we noticed that the cart rental price was $50.00, we decided that I could make a wheelchair work – and if not I could put our bags in it and use it as a walker.  Tara won’t be able to push me and I should be either able to move it or push it without using my abdominal muscles too much.

Headache, Movie, et. al.

For several years – well since I was in the seventh grade – I’ve been subject to migraines.  Now I don’t get them as often or as bad as many people, and I can usually treat them with over the counter medication, but I still get them.

Up until the last year or so, most of the time I’d get them mid to late in the day, and they’d last no longer than until I got a good nights sleep.  But that seems to have changed.

I think I started getting my current migrane on Monday or Tuesday.  This time I had no aura proceeding any pain, so I thought for two or three days it was my sinuses.  But by yesterday mid-morning, it was clear that I had a migrane.  This one hasn’t been as intense as some in the past, but it has kept lingering, and I’ve still got some semblance of it.

Migrane or not, I did decide that Tara and I should enjoy ourselves.  So, this morning I called her before I left for work and suggested that she could meet me in Mira Mesa at or near one of the restaurants near the movie theater, and we could see Toy Story 3.  She chose Panera – which I was happy with since it is both light and inexpensive (and tomorrow at the fair probably won’t be).

Meeting her was a bit of a challenge – but not as much as taking off early yesterday.  I left work with enough time to take a back-route walk to the farthest bus stop, and still had almost 20 minutes to wait.  I then had to remember to get off at the stop near the theaters – which due to the express nature of the bus is actually the next stop.  Then I had to walk a long block, get into the shopping center and find Tara.

Not too surprisingly, I found her in Barnes and Noble near the SF section.  We then headed over to Panera and then to the movie.

Both for schedule and enjoyment reasons, I paid the extra for the IMAX version – and it was worth it.

The short preceding the movie was both well executed and very creative.  Toy Story 3 was both funny and touching – i.e. like most  Pixar features.

Shortly we are going to have to feed the dog and cat, put ourselves to bed and get to sleep so that we can get up and go to the fair tomorrow.