Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eye-Surgery Report (I Can See Clearly Now)

Before Cataract SurgeryThis is the "before" picture of my eye-glasses. This is what I have been wearing for a year or so now as a cataract has grown in my right eye. You can see its growth in the relative size of that right lens as compared to the left. And I could have sprung for an even thicker lens over the last 9 months if I wanted to see fully clearly.

Today, by contrast, I have a plain piece of plastic in the right side; no prescription at all. And my eye doctor has just tested that eye as seeing 20/40. I'm very pleased with that measurement. Just one day following cataract surgery and I am seeing better than I have in years; better than before the cataract, I think. My doctor describes it as "a home run."

This, then, is my report to you on cataract surgery. I have a few friends considering similar surgery who look to me as a test-case. I can say, so far, that it's not so bad. The worst part was thinking about it before-hand; the idea that someone will cut open your eye is a little freaky.

Sunday night and Monday morning, thinking about it too much, were odd. But once we got to the outpatient surgery center, things went quickly and were well-organized.

I deal with stress over health issues by taking an interest in the technology and the process. I wanted to know what blood pressure reading the nurse got, and I used the beep-beep of the heart monitor to try to play bio-feedback games while she bustled about. We talked about the best places to have an IV inserted as she placed a needle into a vein on my right hand. And when the nurse-anesthetist came in to give me a minor sedative, I tried to gauge the progress of that drug as it took hold.

To be honest, though, at that point I disappeared from the process and only have a few impressions of the procedure itself.

They tell you before the surgery that it will go like this:
  1. You get a sedative ("happy juice," someone called it),
  2. They put you to sleep for a few minutes so they can hit your eye with a local anesthetic and get it fully numbed out,
  3. They wake you up for the procedure (I assume since you eye needs to be open),
  4. They brief you and whoever brought you on post-op care and help you into a wheelchair and out the door.
My experienced jumped from sedative going in almost straight to my wife (the Lovely Karen) coming in to pick me up.

I do recall being sort of awake and under a blue cover of some sort around which there was activity and some talking. I could dimly see some eye-doctor-like equipment through the cover (I assume with my left eye). I remember feeling cool water around my eye as they worked. And I think I remember the doctor saying "we're almost done."

But I really wasn't present for all that. And I am fine with that absence. The doctor assured me today (at a follow-up check) that I didn't reveal any deep dark secrets.

The whole thing took about an hour and a half.

When I got home, I felt good enough to take a self-portrait. My eye was under a shield for a few hours. When I took it off, I found I could see well-enough, though through a film of medications, to watch a little TV, but not for long stretches. My eye was a bit sensitive to light and itched a fair amount.

This morning, when I awoke, the itching was largely gone and the sight from that eye is noticeably better. I drove myself to my follow-up appointment (the post-op instructions say you can drive the ext day if you feel up to it and can see well enough, and if you have a valid driver's license).

I do find it is best if I wear the old-guy style full-coverage sunglasses that they gave me when I drive. I assume the light-sensitivity will ease with time.

I do not expect to know just how well this has worked until early January. The doctors say it takes about a month for the eye to settle in and "accept" the new lens. I have an appointment the first Monday of 2011 to find out what my final prescription will be. If any (he wrote, hopefully).

As a side note, I ran into an older couple at the eye doctor office today who remembered me from yesterday. The wife had also had cataract surgery and her husband remembered Karen and I coming in while he waited. We compared notes and found that we had had very similar experiences.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

You Can Get Anything You Want....

It's Thanksgiving, a holiday that will always, for me, bring memories of Arlo Guthrie's wonderful song Alice's Restaurant.
This year, a member at the social web site MetaFilter has posted an annotated lyrics of the song, which led me, naturally, to wordle to make a word cloud.

And, as we make our way across the Delaware countryside, through the Eastern shore of Maryland and across the Bay Bridge (to Grandmother's Uncle John's house), I hope to find this song on the radio somewhere.

Because that's just part of the holiday tradition.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Speaking of Rockabilly...

One of the artists I follow on twitter is Roseanne Cash, who led me today to a cool video clip from the 1980s and some of my favorite guitar players.

Here are Carl Perkins, Dave Edmunds,George Harrison, and Eric Clapton, all in a row. Roseanne Cash is the one seated between Clapton and Ringo Starr. This group is playing a medley of some of the fundamental tunes of the rockabilly period.

I dig it.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Legislative Mall, in Dover, DE

I've been playing around with the "panorama" mode of my cellphone camera. I only recently discovered it. I had not really taken my little Samsung Rogue seriously as a camera when I first got it. But I've come to rely on it more and more for those "saw something while walking uptown for lunch" pictures.

The panorama mode is tricky and doesn't always work. But when it does, I like the results. It is also the case that, because it is a cellphone and has a low resolution level, these images work best in their smaller forms.

Panoramic miniatures.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

At Bethany Blues: A Bo Diddley Beat

'Oh Boy' at Bethany Blues in Lewes
The Lovely Karen and I went to Bethany Blues last night to see a group of old friends play rockabilly music last night. The show was part of the on-going Sidney's Music Revival, which has brought a variety of acts, mostly blues, to the barbecue restaurant on Route 1 outside of Lewes.

This band is made up (left to right in the photo) of Barry Eli, retired music teacher from Cape Henlopen High School; Ken Schleifer, an active music teacher; Walt Hetfield, a music teacher and fonder of a rock-n-roll summer camp; and Mike Long, about whom I have to admit I know nothing.

Barry, Ken and Walt are our friends entirely through Karen; from her early days as a music therapist and from her playing in various ensembles around the area over the years.

These guys have been playing together for a while. They are less a bar-band though, and more a show band. They have a Buddy Holly tribute show, the rockabilly show we saw last night, and a "sun and surf" show in which they play music from the mid 1960s.

But that doesn't mean they didn't tear it up in the Bethany Blues bar last night. They drew a sizable crowd and they played loud, hard and sweaty. There was music by Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Link Wray and many others.

I'm an old rockabilly fan. I came of age during the rockabilly revival of the late 1970s in the Washington DC area. My high school band, the Ramblin' Beach Guys, played a bit of this music, and I was a great fan of Tex Rubinowitz and the Bad Boys. And this music is part of the foundation of so much other great music. Without rockabilly, the Beatles wouldn't be the same, nor would the Grateful Dead and many others. They all cut their teeth on what is, after all, simply straight-ahead rock and roll.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

This is Cool: Culture Edition

The author Neil Gaiman and the singer Amanda Palmer were "married" on the street in New Orleans recently in a combination flash mob, street-mime performance, and birthday surprise party.

The details are in Amanda Palmer's blog, but my understanding is that the pair were in New Orleans for a concert by her band, The Dresden Dolls, earlier this month on Neil Gaiman's birthday. They have been engaged since last New Year's.

She surprised him with a reprise of her street performance as a bride statue down in the French Quarter and compounded the birthday gift with an ambush wedding party and a ceremony officiated ("By whatever powers might be vested in me by any governing bodies or deities, living dying or dead...") by fellow musician Jason Webley.

Was it really a wedding? Are they now married? I'm not sure. But I think the event itself was pretty cool.

This is Cool: Political Edition

Delaware's present and future Congressional Representatives sat down together on Capitol Hill today. We're a small state, we only get the one.
The gent on the left is Mike Castle, the republican who leaves after many years of service to the state. The guy on the right is John Carney, the democrat just elected to replace Mr. Castle. It's worth noting that they weren't running against each other in the recent election. Mr. Castle was a victim of the tea party uprising in the republican party.

According to the News Journal's Dialogue Delaware blog, Mr. Carney wanted to meet with Mr. Castle "first to thank him for his many years of dedicated service to the people of Delaware, and second to gain insight from him on how to effectively represent our state’s best interests in Congress."

On one level, that's the normal sort of platitude you expect from politicians after the elections. But I know both of these men, in a small way, having worked for them in state government over the years. I look at this photo and I see two men who respect each other, in spite of politics, and take their responsibilities seriously.

I think that's cool.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"It Gets Worse, Senator McCain..."

Monday night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart and his staff took Senator John McCain to task for his cynical tactics in opposition to repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," the dreadfullly stupid law that keeps gays and lesbians from serving in our armed forces. It's a masterful job of reporting and strategic derision.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
It Gets Worse PSA
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity

McCain deserves to be mocked on this one. Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a travesty and he's being a jackass about it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Painting a Railing: A Weekend Odyssey

Paint failure
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
I finally got around to painting the front door and the new railing we had added to the front stoop. It hasn't gone well.

Painting the door was not the problem. It needed a second coat, but will be fine. The railing, which is clad in white PVC, has been something of an adventure.

This photo is what we found this morning after painting the railing on Saturday afternoon. It wasn't all like this, but a lot was. I think the problem was that I painted too late in the afternoon on Saturday and the temperature fell too much for proper drying.

So. What to do? I toyed with washing the paint off, but that was painful and slow. And, as the day warmed up, I found that the paint was starting to dry.

So I doubled-down and added another coat during the heat of the day today. I imagine it will need more touch-up later, but I hope to get away with it.

This is, by the way, further evidence of why I am really not qualified to own a home.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Late Fall Golf

late fall golf
Originally uploaded by mmahaffie
My golf-buddy Andy and I traveled north about an hour today to play a round of golf at Odessa National Golf Club in New Castle County. It's a course we've been hearing about and wanted to try. We took advantage of the (slightly) warmer weather today to give it a shot.

Odessa National is a tough course, and unforgiving. Neither of us played particularly well. But, we had fun.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Rachel Maddow is Correct

I think this commentary from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow is worth sharing.She's speaking here about the kerfuffle over Keith Olberman's campaign contributions and the open campaigning that goes on at FOX news.