Playing with a Nanode

Today I spent some time playing with a Christmas gift.

I purchased a Nanode kit from Wicked Device and it arrived this week. The Nanode is an Arduino with an integrated ethernet jack. So it can be used to put web server, or any discreet network service on the internet, without running a server all the time.

Today I spent assembling and trying out stuff. This is actually my first Arduino of any flavor so I spend some time blinking and fading leds and generally dinking around.

After a bit I decided to try one of the projects that I actually had in mind for this thing. I wrote a quick sketch that implements a very simple web server (something that is very simple with the libraries provided).  And if a particular url is requested a wake-on-lan magic package is broadcast on the LAN here and my server is powered up. So now I can start up my linux box from anywhere by browsing to a specific url. Cool! I no longer need to leave it on an guzzle power so it can sit there doing nothing. (The Nanode can run all the time on orders of magnitude less power.)

For those interested in the details I posted the code as a gist.

I’m sure more will follow.

Sutures out at 19 months

Well, it has been a very long time since I wrote about my transplant.  In a way that is not inappropriate.  It has been very uneventful.

I was expecting the sutures to be taken out for a couple of doctor appointments and each time the doctor told me they were looking fine and could stay in.  Dr. Goodman told me that the longer the sutures are in the better.  He was watching to remove them before they wore enough that they would break.

So I was a little surprised on this last appointment when he asked if I had time to take out the sutures.  I did have time but I hadn’t expected it.  But last Friday, roughly 19 months to the day, the sutures came out.

It was a thoroughly unpleasant 4 or 5 minutes.  But it is now done.  When I was deciding to get the transplant done, the thought of having the sutures out was really the most intimidating thing.  Well, it wasn’t fun but I certainly don’t regret having the transplant done for a few minutes of discomfort.

Really, a lot of the discomfort was in the complete inability to consciously control my good eye.  The way it works was, the left eye was given a series of drops over a half an hour to numb the eye and to disinfect it.  Then the doctor put a clip between the eye lids to keep the eye open.  Then he told me to keep my right eye open and looking at one point.  By doing this the left eye would also stay fixed on one point and he would be able to clip the sutures and then remove them.

Well, he needed to tell me a couple times that my right eye was closed.  I eventually just reached up and held it open with my fingers.  This seemed to help.  I certainly went faster if I was able to keep my eye still.

Anyway, it is done.  Now from my experience here are a few things you should remember if you are expecting to have the sutures removed.

  1. Bring tissue (they have tissue at the office but once you leave….  Your eyes will be watering and my nose was also running a lot.)
  2. Bring sunglasses (My eye were pretty sensitive to light.)
  3. Bring artificial tears
  4. Don’t expect to get a lot of work done for the rest of the day, especially if it involves trying to read from a bright screen.
  5. I wouldn’t expect to drive home from the appointment
  6. Have Advil or Tylenol ready.

I rode the bus to work after that.  If I had known, I would have gotten a ride … home.  I ended up working for a few hours, but I was quite distracted and really couldn’t do any work.  So I went home in the middle of the afternoon.  That was a good move.  I stopped at the library and got a book on tape, Master and Commander, and then layed down and listened to it.

By the evening things were much better and the next morning everything was back to normal.  I should say that it was never painful.  I was just aware of discomfort and wanted to keep my eye closed for the most part.

After the appointment I was also given a prescription for a antibiotic and steroid ointment.  This was placed in the eye.  It  was a little difficult to do on my own.  It was just awkward.  It worked much better to have my wife put it in.  (It took a lot less cleaning up my eyelashes.)  I am also continuing to use the Predforte 3 times a week (Mon, Wed, Fri).

So I think I am nearly done.  I have a follow up appointment in two weeks.  I would still do this whole process again.  My vision though not perfect is much better than before.

I hope this is helpful information.

6 Months and The Eye is Fine

Today marks six months since eye surgery.

I had an appointment today and my uncorrected vision in the left eye is now pretty close to 20/25.  That is Fantastic!  I see better with the left eye than the right.  Takes a little getting used to, but I don’t mind.

What I’m reading (March 2009)

If there is one thing that can always be said about me, it is that I am actively reading something and normally more than one thing.  This post is a mini review of a few of the books I am currently reading or just completed.

How to Read a Book by Mortimer Alder and Charles Van Doren

This is a book that I purchased a number of years ago in response to reading How to Read the Bible for All its Worth by Gorden Fee and Douglas Stuart.  I was a little put off by the size of the book and the topic.  I mean how interesting could a book be that was about reading a book?  So it languished on the book shelf for years before I recently picked it up.

To my surprise the book has been a very enjoyable read.  The authors distinguish between 4 levels of reading and concentrate on what they call analytical reading.  One of their premises is that reading a book can be approached as learning from an absent teacher.  Since reading is a learning task there are habits which can be learned which will make that learning more consistent.  It has been helpful to think about my reading from this standpoint.

The Affluent Society by John Kenneth Galbraith

This is a book that I started reading because I was intrigued by the author.  Galbraith was an economist in the 20th century.  He was a young economist during the great depression and was a part of FDR’s war time administration.  The book was begun as a study of the poor but wound up being a treatise on the rich.  But his intent in writing the book can be summed up in this sentence from the Introduction.  “There is no blight on American life so great as the enduring poverty in our great cities and of the still unseen poor in the rural and mountain regions.  And, of course, in the larger world.”

Not being an economist this book is a stretch for me.  But as I’ve read about the history of economic thought, as he delivers it, the book is making me question some of my assumptions about how things should be.  More will follow when I finish.

His second chapter about Conventional Wisdom, which is a term he coined, should be required reading.  Since I can’t require any reading I can only highly recommend the chapter to everyone.  This chapter is an excellent explanation of why politics, both election politics and the more general politics of relationships between people, has degenerated to its current level of triviality.

When Light Pierced the Darkness by Nechama Tec

The full title of this book include the sub title, Christian Rescue of Jews in Nazi-Occupied Poland.  I ran into this book when I was intrigued by the trailer for Defiance the motion picture about the Polish Jewish partisans who formed a hidden village for Jews in the forests of Poland.  While I didn’t see the movie, and actually don’t intend to, the story was intriguing.  I found that the basis of the movie was a history written by Tec.  In looking at other books she wrote I found When Light Pierced the Darkness and I could not resist reading it.   I am very glad I did.

Tec wrote a compelling and captivating book based on her experience as a rescued Polish Jewess, extensive research, and interviews of rescued and rescuers.  Her goal in the research and the writing of the book was to try to find out what it was about the rescuers that caused them to risk their lives to save strangers in the midst of the Nazi Final Solution.   I think this is a great book.  I would recommend it to everyone.

As a trivial aside, one of the things I particularly like about this book is that, unlike many books I’ve read recently, it wasn’t summarized in the first chapter.  Many books can be adequately read by reading the first chapter only.  Not this one.  Even the final chapter with her conclusion included new ideas and not just a rehash of what had already been written.

5 Months since my corneal transplant

It has been three months since I last wrote about my eye.   That indicates how little I am aware of it.

I am able to go for a week or so without explicitly thinking about my eye.  Really the most I think about it is related to remembering when I have doctor’s appointments up coming or when allergies make my eyes itch.

Two months ago (three months after the surgery) I had a followup doctor appointment.  I was told to let the Vigamox (antibiotic) run out and then stop taking it.  I also started taking the Predforte twice a day (morning and evening).

One month ago (four months after the surgery) at my last appointment, the doctor cut the Predforte down to a single drop a day.  Since I was still having no allergy problems with my left eye, I asked about getting something for my other eye.    Dr. Goodman prescribed another drop (Alrex – a diluted version of Predforte) for my right eye, two drops a day.

Since then, the right eye is better.  The left eye is also starting to itch some now.  I assume that is just allergies.  If it is still going on I’ll mention it at my next appointment, but it really isn’t bad.

I also learned one unexpected thing last week.  I had been a blood donor before the surgery, and I scheduled a donation.   I called the blood bank the day before and found that a corneal transplant is a “permanent deferral.”   That means I won’t be able donate blood again, unless they change their rules.  I hadn’t expected that.

Thoughts on sugar consumption

I recently finished a biography of William Wilberforce.  Wilberforce was a member of British parliament in the early 1800s. He was one of the driving forces behind the abolition of the slave trade.

Reading this book raised many thoughts for me.  But today one came to the fore.

After lunch I was craving sugar.  I wanted a cookie, soda, cake … whatever, I’m not picky.  I resisted, but it brought to mind a statistic from the book that shocked me.  I had to find it again on the Internet since the book isn’t handy.  In 1793 the average person in England consumed 11.75 lbs of sugar a year.  As of 1990 the average person in the United States consumes 100 lbs a year.

To put this in perspective I did a little math.  11.75 lbs of sugar would make 118 cans of soda (more or less).  That is roughly 2 cans of soda a week and no other refined sugar.  Wow! I can’t imagine having that little sugar in my diet, although there is no doubt it would improve my weight.  And to think that that average amount of sugar is actually quite high for the majority of the English population in 1793, because most sugar was consumed by the Upper Class.

Well,  I will leave the drawing of conclusions up to the reader.

2 Months Later

Tomorrow will be two months since my cornea transplant.

First, my eye feels great!  I only occationally feel reminders that my eye has stiches in it.  More often than not my only reminder that I had surgery is that my left eye doesn’t have allergy problems.  My right eye will often be itchy scratchy watery bloodshot from allergies.  Generally driving me crazy, and I feel nothing in my left eye.  This is thanks to the continuing regimine of eye drops.

Last week I went swimming for the first time since my surgery.  No surprises here.  I’ve lost a lot of conditioning.  The difference this time is that my kids went with me too.  The pool has a lane set aside for lap swimming during the evening recreation time.  So I went and swam laps and then went over and swam with my kids for the rest of the time.  In the long run this won’t be good for my conditioning, but for now I have plenty of time to swim with the kids after I am finished swimming laps.

Today, I officially passed my drivers vision test.   It wasn’t easy.  I have new glasses which should improve my vision in the left eye to 20/40 but this morning I had to work hard to read the required 20/70 line with just my left eye.  (I am noticing that sometimes during the day my eyesight is worse and sometimes better.) Still this is far better than the capabilities of my left eye previously.  I hope it continues to improve.  Even as it is I feel less hesitant to drive at night.

Finally,  the reason I began this whole process was because I had so much trouble reading the computer screen that I was always leaning on my elbows to get closer.  I think that I am beginning to see an improvement in my posture.  I am catching myself hunched over on my elbows less and less.

Overall, I am very happy.  Only 2 months out from the surgery and some of the things that needed correction are starting to be sorted out.