Thursday, January 31, 2008

Buck Rogers

A long time ago, I wrote about an episode of Buck Rogers that I’d watched, where they encounter a Vorvon. And when I wrote that, I said this:

Similarly, during any of the scenes with the vampire, Erin [Gray] was doing this weird, shuddery style breathing. For me, that will always represent what a person should sound like, when s/he is scared of a vampire. (So you should probably try and find a copy of this episode, and watch it, just in case you ever happen to encounter one. You don’t want to be unprepared.)
Which was really stupid. I should have just gone to YouTube, and found a clip for you. Like this.

But while I was playing around on YouTube, I found some other Buck Rogers clips. And most interesting of all, I found the intro from the pilot.

To get the full effect, first watch the intro from the series:

That’s what the intro was for the TV show. Now, when you’re ready for your mind to be blown, take a gander at the intro from the original pilot/movie.

My first thought, after seeing it: What the hell was that?!? What’s with all of the women rolling around on the ground? (And why for so long?)

But you know what’s the most embarrassing part? A few years ago, I did a guitar solo for a Jehovah Shalom song called Even Moreyou can listen to it here—and parts of that solo sound a lot like the music for this Buck Rogers intro. Is it possible that I’ve seen this before, and when I was coming up with my guitar solo, it popped out of my subconscious? I hope not. Of all of the things to rip off, I’d prefer if it wasn’t this…

Another Facebook Article

What, another one? Yes, another one. How Facebook Exposed Us All as Freaks, from Wired.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another kidney update. (Although, really, it’s not about the kidneys anymore.)

When you get tired of hearing about my innards, let me know. (And I’ll ignore you, and keep writing about it.)

I went to the urologist yesterday. He confirmed, based on the effectiveness of the antibiotics I’ve been taking, that my symptoms were probably being caused by an infection of some kind. So I’ll finish the antibiotics, and then my symptoms should be gone.

I was also happy that he doesn’t seem worried about my kidneys at all. That’s the part of my body I was most worried about.

Unfortunately, he does want to have a look at my bladder. (Note: another detail about serna’s internal organs will be coming up in the next sentence.) Because it doesn’t seem to be fully emptying, when I urinate, he’s wondering if there might be some scar tissue in there, from the operation I had when I was younger. (That operation is mentioned in this post.) That scar tissue might be preventing it from emptying fully, and may also be what caused my infection in the first place.

Now, what do I mean when I say that he wants to “take a look at it”? Unfortunately, I mean just that. He wants to get a camera in there, and take a look around. And how does one get a camera into someone’s bladder? I can think of two ways:

  1. One could cut the person open, and put the camera in that way. This is a bad idea, because you’d cause more damage getting the camera in than you’d fix by getting the camera’s results.
  2. One could get a long tube, and stick it into the bladder, via the penis. This is also a bad idea, because it involves sticking a TUBE into the person’s PENIS. The penis is not meant to be a conduit for cameras.
Unfortunately for me, these are the only two choices, so it’s option 2 for me. (I believe this procedure is called a cystoscopy.) I’ve actually had this done, before, when I was much younger. I don’t have any real memories of the experience, except that it was… ahem… not pleasant. It’s probably not a good sign that my mind has blocked out any concrete memories of the experience, eh? My urologist assured me that they use fiber optics, these days, which makes the tubes narrower, so it won’t be as bad as it was when I was a child. On the other hand, he also says that I won’t be “getting in line to have it done again” either.

Friday, January 25, 2008

America owns the world

I found a couple of articles from Noam Chomsky today. They’re both along the same lines.

  • Chomsky on World Ownership—This is an interview conducted by Michael Shank, for Foreign Policy in Focus
  • We Own The World—This is an actual article, written by Chomsky, along the same theme as the interview above.
The article is longer than the interview, so if you only have a few minutes to spare, read the interview, but if you have time to think about this a bit more deeply, I recommend the article.

I should point out that the title of this post is intentionally ironic—I don’t really believe that America owns the world. (Regardless of what they believe.)

South Park trailers

These are both pretty old, but I was thinking about them on the ride in this morning, so I thought I’d put them here.

First, South Park Star Wars:

Next, South Park—Matrix:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Kidney Update

So here’s the deal:

A few weeks ago, I noticed some strange symptoms. They were all… well, let’s just say they all had to do with urine, and leave it at that. You can thank me at your leisure, for sparing you the details. I figured it was probably a bladder infection.

I went to the doctor, but he didn’t concur. He thought it was probably kidney stones, instead. We did some tests—including a urine test, some x-rays, and an ultrasound—and the tests didn’t really show anything. The urine test didn’t show any bacteria—at least, not anything that was out of the ordinary—and neither did the x-rays or ultrasound show any “big” stones, all of which was normal. So he assured me that the stone would just pass on its own. (He made it sound like a pretty innocuous process; “one day you’ll be going to the bathroom, the flow will suddenly be interrupted, and then you’ll hear a little ‘ping’ when the stone hits the toilet.” He didn’t mention the excruciating pain that most people think of, when they think of kidney stones.) So I went home, content that I knew what the problem was, and mentally preparing myself for a world of pain.

And then nothing happened. And then my symptoms seemingly started to get better. So I went back to him again, to find out if he was sure it was a kidney stone. And he said, based on the symptoms, that he was still sure, and that the stone had probably passed. (Which I wrote about, because I was overjoyed that I’d been spared the pain.) He told me that the stones will cause some minor damage to your insides, so the symptoms I still had would eventually pass. We also talked about an operation I’d had on my kidneys, when I was 2½. He wanted me to get some more information about the nature of that operation, and come and see him in another week, and confirm if my symptoms were gone. While I was there, he also checked my prostate, and confirmed that it was fine, too.

But the symptoms didn’t go away. In fact, soon after I spent another sleepless night, running back and forth to the toilet every couple of minutes. So I went back to him again. (Actually, this time I just called him.) He promised to get me a referral to a urologist, and I don’t remember the exact wording, but he said he’d try and do it quickly. This was a Monday.

I called his office again on Tuesday, to find out if the appointment was made. But I found out that there is only one nurse who does referrals, and she was out sick. Was there nobody else who could do it, in her absence? No. No there was not. So finally, on Friday, she came in, and faxed the referral to the specialist. Which meant another few days for the specialist to get back to her, for her to get back to me. But I found out on the following Wednesday—that’s a week and a half after I’d been promised to get my appointment quickly—that they’d made my appointment. For March.

So I’ve gone back to my doctor again, and asked him if there is anything he can do in the meantime. I’m worried because if this is a problem with my kidneys, I don’t want it to linger—I want to find out soon, and get it fixed. So we’ve decided, for the time being, to treat it as an infection. (Whether bladder infection, kidney infection, or prostititis, which is some kind of infection of the prostate, doesn’t matter. You treat them all the same: with antibiotics.) If it turns out that it is an infection, and the antibiotics work, then all the better. Personally—and I think my doctor agrees with me on this—I’d be much happier if my original urine test had showed some bacteria, to indicate that it was an infection.

So now I’m waiting for the antibiotics to work (if they will). In the meantime, I’m getting dehydrated, because I’m urinating so much that any fluids I drink are just going right through me. I’m also sick of cranberry juice. (I think I wrote that before.) I’m also missing coffee. (I think I wrote that before, too.) But I’ve decided to start coming back to the office, when I can. When I wake up, and it’s a “good day”, I’ll come in, but if it’s a “bad day”, I’ll work from home. And that’s the frustrating thing about my symptoms: Even if I feel really good, it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, because a few hours later I could be peeing like crazy again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


For Christmas, my parents got Andrea and I a George Foreman Grill, which has removable plates. (The plates are actually dishwasher safe, which is great.) One set of plates is for making waffles, and we were keen to try them out. So I went online on the weekend, and found a waffle recipe that looked good, and decided to give it a try.

I’d never made waffles before, so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. Unfortunately, it turned out badly. The waffles were sticking to the plates, so when you’d open the grill up, you’d end up with the top sticking to the top half, the bottom sticking to the bottom half, and the in-between parts not really cooked properly. It was awful. And the second batch was even worse than the first batch; Andrea and I spent a good ten minutes trying to scrape the gunk off of the grill plates.

But I did some research, and I found three things that I’d done wrong:

  • I didn’t spray the grill with cooking spray. I didn’t figure I’d have to, because they’re supposed to be non-stick plates, but I think I should have anyway.
  • I stirred the mix too much. I found out after (from my mom) that for waffles, and also for pancakes, you’re not supposed to stir the mix too much; you just get it mixed, and then leave it. Whereas I was stirring it for a long time, and then, when I was waiting for the waffles to cook, I’d keep stirring it, from time to time. Whoops.
  • I took them out too soon. The George Foreman Grill instructions said that you should cook waffles for about 3–5 minutes, whereas I cooked mine for 10–15. But when I took them off the grill, they were still steaming, and instructions I found later say that you should wait until they’re done steaming, before you take them off the waffle iron.
That last point is pretty reflective of all of the cooking that I do. If I find a recipe for salmon, and it says that the fish will take ten minutes to cook, I can be guaranteed that it will take at least forty. Which is odd, because my oven is actually hotter than it indicates, so I always have to turn it to a slightly lower temperature than instructions tell me. (Pizzas always take less time to cook than the box indicates.) And the instructions for the George Foreman Grill are like that too; anything that I’ve cooked has taken at least twice as long as what the instructions say it will.

Anyway, back to the point. Last night I tried again, using the same recipe, but spraying the grill plates with cooking spray, not stirring the mix too much, and leaving them in until they finished steaming. (They were actually still steaming a bit, but not much. I didn’t want them to burn.) And they came out great.

In the future, we might start making waffles for a treat, instead of pancakes, which is what we’ve been using for our “fun” dinners.

Still under the weather

Here, let me show you something:


You know what that is? It’s a coffee grinder. You put coffee beans in it, and it grinds them down for you, so that you can put the coffee in your coffee maker. Do you see the beans at the top? I put those there just after Christmas. And then I got sick, and decided that I shouldn’t be drinking coffee. So the beans are still sitting there. Lonely. Wishing they could be ground up, and have hot water poured over them, to make coffee. But they can’t.

You want to see something else? Here:


Do you know what that is? Of course you do. It’s a carton of Egg Nog. I bought that just after Christmas, too. And then I got sick, and, just like the coffee, I decided that I probably shouldn’t be drinking it, if I’m having urinary issues. (You probably can’t make out the expiry date, from that picture, but it expired 11 days before I wrote this post.) It’s too bad, because I love egg nog, and always have. But they only sell it around the Christmas/New Year timeframe.

Actually, it’s doubly bad, because I discovered, during the Christmas holidays, that if you combine the two—coffee using egg nog instead of cream/milk—it tastes really good. I was very much enjoying this holiday treat. Until I got sick.

This post sounds very pathetic, like I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I’m not. My symptoms are still very mild, and I don’t have any pain. I just wish I could get an appointment with the specialist, so that I could find out what’s wrong with me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

How Email Brings You Closer to the Guy in the Next Cubicle

I read an interesting article on Wired today, with the title given above. As someone who works from home on a regular basis—especially when he’s got physical problems which are probably not kidney stones, but must be something—I found it very interesting.

Speaking only for myself, I agree with the article. For myself, even if I were working from home 100% of the time, I’d still want to live in Toronto. If I were to move anywhere, it would be downtown, which would bring me closer to work.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kidney stones redux

Or maybe I spoke too soon. Based on the fact that my symptoms aren’t going away as quickly as we’d like, my doctor is making an appointment for me with a urologist. (A pee doctor—although I bet they hate being called that.)

Maybe I never had a kidney stone at all. Maybe there’s something completely different wrong with me. (Or maybe there’s nothing wrong with me at all, and my urinary system is just a rebel, that doesn’t play by the rules. Don’t try to tell me how to evacuate liquids, old man! Don’t lay your “urine shouldn’t be cloudy” trip on me!)

Monday, January 14, 2008

The kidney stone(s)

Well, I have good news, and I have abso-friggin-wonderful news. The good news is that the kidney stone seems to have passed. The wondertastic news is that there was no pain. I either had a very, very small stone, that didn’t do too much damage, or the stone broke apart before passing. Either way, it’s a better outcome than I ever could have hoped for.

(Especially after all of the horror stories I’ve heard about how painful kidney stones are. And if you want an idea why, take a look around for pictures of the things; they’re nasty looking. I’d be nervous holding one in my hand, for fear of cutting myself, let alone having it wander around in my innards…)

I still have some of the urinary symptoms—the doctor says that it can take a while for them to go away—but everything seems good. I’m going to go back and see him this week, for a checkup, and just to set everyone’s mind at rest that all really is well. While I was there, he even checked my prostate—the “procedure” isn’t as bad as people say (although I wouldn’t recommend it)—and all is well there, too.

There is one potential cloud on the horizon, though: When I was young (about two and a half), I had an operation on my kidneys, and he wants to get more details about that. I talked to my mom, and apparently the urethras weren’t at the right angle, or something, and they had to be reconnected. So I may or may not have to get more tests done, just to be sure that nothing else is wrong. The doctor says that he wants to avoid such tests, if necessary, because they can be “invasive”. (Why do I get the feeling that I might not be out of the woods quite yet? Perhaps the celebrations are a bit premature…)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry

This isn’t really a post, per se, so much as a link to an article on Wired that I found interesting.


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

“I’m tired of the waiting game! Let’s play Hungry, Hungry Hippos!”

International Spy MuseumOur trip to the States was pleasant, but uneventful, so I don’t have much to write about it. Except that we visited the International Spy Museum, which was interesting. (Not $18US worth of interesting, but interesting.) We also went to Washington D.C. and looked around. Unfortunately, we forgot the camera; can you tell that these pictures are of the capital and the Washington Monument? Neither can I.

Washington Monument

(Well, I guess you can tell which one’s the Washington Monument. It’s pretty recognizable.)

We didn’t bother stopping by the White House, or doing any other site-seeing. We just took the Metro, which dropped us off in the middle of the Mall, and that’s where I took those pictures from; if you look one way, you see the capital, and the other way, you see the monument. Most of our time was spent in the Smithsonian, which is free. Unlike the Spy Museum, which is not.

We also got to play with a GPS navigation system, which was fun. So fun that we’re going to buy one. (One of Andrea’s American cousins can hook us up with a good one, for cheap.)

And then I got home, and for some reason, I noticed that I was peeing an awful lot. And there were some other symptoms, which I won’t bore you with, that led me to think that it might be a bladder infection. So I finally broke down and went to the doctor’s, and found out that it’s probably not. It’s probably kidney stones. (Luckily, my doctor had a better idea of what my symptoms meant than I did.) What does one do about kidney stones? Well, in most cases, one simply waits for the stones to pass. One spends most of one’s day in front of the toilet, because one’s bladder is so desperate to get rid of the foreign object that it’s making one urinate constantly, and waits for the stone to come out. One also drinks so much cranberry juice that one is sick to death of the sight, smell, and taste of it.

(Have you ever had cranberry juice? I’m not talking crantinis, or cranberry cocktail, or some kind of fruit juice that has cranberry juice in it; I’m talking about cranberry juice. Organic, unsweetened, juice from cranberries. It’s bitter, foul-tasting stuff. I’m drinking a mixture that’s about 80% water, and 20% juice, and it’s still nasty.)

I’m led to believe that passing this stone is going to be one of the more painful experiences in my life. I can’t wait to write about it.