Sunday, October 21

next Smart stop: Austin

The Smart Car Roadshow is in Dallas this weekend (Mockingbird Station), so I waddled down to take the car for a quick spin. Sadly, that's about all I got, as they're cranking up to 500 people/day through the five (5) cars they have available for test (four Passion models and one Cabriolet).

First reaction: at $13,590 it's almost like having a disposable car (compared to my normal wheels - a completely unfair comparison). While standing in line, they show you the Crash Test Video which is a must-see, especially here in Texas where F350s and soccer-mom-powered SUVs have a tendency to tailgate with abandon.

The Smart US models have a 33 liter (8.7 gallon) fuel tank, which gives it a 300 mile range, more or less. The engine is a 3-cylinder, 1-liter gasoline powered engine. Don't expect the G-forces to whip your neck off, but for a city car .. I'd buy one. If nothing else, because they're Just So Dern Cute.

Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip. (repeat)

One of the more annoying things about my recent eye surgery involves The Next 30 Days, which involves a lot of eye drops. Four times a day, I'm supposed to use Vigamox (antibiotic); Econopred Plus (corticosteroid) in addition to the Travatan-Z I take before bedtime.

I calculated 270 drops in the next month, all to be taken a few hours apart. While it's not the same as Chinese Water Torture it's as close as I care to get. Time to develop a 30-day spreadsheet.

Several of the nurses noticed my long eyelashes and said that's common among people who take Travatan (to keep my IOP - intraocular pressure - in check).

Not shown: Systane lubricant eye drops (I was cautioned that they are preservative-free so each tube must be used immediately).

Earlier (in a comment) Geoff asked "why all the Tylenol?" and my answer is that I had a dull headache for a day or so after the actual surgery. It really wasn't a lot of pain - more like the dull throb I get when listening to most VP-level conference calls.

Both my ophthalmologist and eye surgeon warned me that I may want to have surgery on the other eye, and today I understand why. Everything's dandy (!) when I wear my contact lens in the non-operative eye, but wearing eyeglasses (now a clear lens on the right) is a bit like wearing flat heels on one foot and stilts on the other. It's truly odd that I can see clearly out of my right eye when I wake up - for the past 45 years I've always reached for my eyeglasses before even getting out of bed.

Odds are that I will have the same surgery on my left eye, since I can't wear contact lenses all day (they're gas permeable - hard - due to my astigmatism) and the double-vision with the glasses is unacceptable. Right now, I'm entering this blog by closing the right eye, which is now great for distance but lousy for reading or computing. Looks like a new set of Reading Glasses is in my future: oy.

Saturday, October 20

We're #2! We're #2!

Finally .. something where Texas isn't Dead Last:
"A review by The Associated Press shows Texas is No. 2 in the nation in the number of teachers sanctioned for sexual misconduct. Texas Education Agency records indicate at least 200 teachers have active sanctions on their certifications for sexual misconduct that occurred between 2001 and 2005. At least 50 more certified teachers faced sex crime allegations, but had their sanctions lifted or have decisions pending."
I'm sure that George W. Bush, Karl Rove, John Cornyn, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Rick Perry and all brimming with pride today over this accomplishment. I'm sure these Texas Republicans will do everything in their pahr (power) to make Texas #1 in that statistic Real Soon Now.

Meanwhile, here's another case where Texas is No. 1: "Percentage of People Without Health Insurance"
In 2006, the percentage uninsured ... among the 20 largest states ranged from 7.7% in Michigan to 23.8% in Texas. (CDC)

Friday, October 19

eye surgery update

I'll add details later, but .. my eye surgery ("cataract extraction and intraocular lens implant") was yesterday, and today I return to get the bandage (patch) removed. Then, I'll know whether this was a success or not. The discharge paperwork said I could take Tylenol for the pain, so I've been doing that every four hours.

From the time I checked in (07:15) until the time they wheeled me into the surgery area was two hours, so I was mostly annoyed, although the COLORS during surgery were very impressive (yes, they keep you awake during the procedure).

Tuesday, October 16

your name will be "Out of Area"

It's taken nearly two years, but I finally found something about my cellphone provider that annoys me. This reply should be self-explanatory:
"Verizon Wireless values your business, and we apologize for the inconvenience of your phone, not displaying your name on the caller ID. I regret to inform you that we do not currently provide the option to personalize the caller ID, for the calls that you place. Currently we only provide the option to display your mobile number and an "unknown, or unavailable caller ID".
Still, the alternative could be far worse. I could be one of those blokes with an iPhone, helplessly wedded to AT&T Wireless. Oh, the horror.

Wednesday, October 10

limited attention spans

I completed my screening of Ken Burns' The War (thanks, TiVo). Some people said this 7-part miniseries (17 hours total) was too long, but .. 17 hours is 70% of 24 - which would be a daily dose of The History Channel, so .. I'm not sure what they're complaining about. I suspect Limited Attention Spans [LAS] are involved here.

My only complaint about the series: they didn't use subtitles whenever a Southerner was interviewed. I couldn't understand about half of what they said.

Speaking of LAS, I took the freeway en route to this afternoon's doctor visit, and only had to travel 3 exits. Before I got to the onramp, I flipped on the AM radio to catch the traffic report (in case I had to use the surface streets). Since AM radio is dominated by talk radio (100% of which is CFRP in Texas - probably a state law) I thought I'd be able to listen long enough for one traffic report, since they update every ten minutes. No such luck. I could only stomach the lies and distortion for about 3 minutes before the blatant stupidity made me turn it off. Pity there's no more Fairness Doctrine, which would require the airing of both sides. Good thing I didn't need a traffic report, as it was moving smoothly during my lengthy exposure.

Remember the V-chip? I think there's a market for an S-chip: a Stupid-Detecting Radio. When enough Right Wing BS is detected, the radio would either change to NPR or (if there was no local NPR affiliate) play electronic cricket chirps. Ideally it would be mandatory in all SUVs - and could not be turned off or muted if there was only one occupant (98.4% of the time).

Thursday, October 4

rechargeable AA and AAA batteries

I've had mixed success with rechargeable batteries, but that's due to my early use (and ignorance) of low-capacity cells. I assumed that all 1.5V batteries were the same - not even.

I've been trying to use rechargeable batteries whenever possible and am experimenting with different brands. AAAs max out at ~900 mAh .. some are only rated at 500 mAh and drain at 2%/day! I have some (Sanyo) Eneloops en route and have higher hopes for their shelf life, although they're only rated at 800 mAh - Rayovac's Hybrid brand also promise better shelf life, too.

AA rechargeables can be had in 2500+ mAh flavors but they're not yet commonly available that way in retail - I spotted mostly low capacities when visiting the nearby MicroCenter and had much better luck (2500 mAh Nuon brand) at the (chain) Batteries+ location.

I took my Digital Audio Recorder (an Olympus DS-2300) out for a single 5 hour session a few weeks ago, and the batteries held up nicely. Odds are I'll always keep a spare set handy, though -- lesson learned with digicams, which tend to powerfail on me at The Most Inopportune Moment.

I'm using LaCrosse Technology's BC-900 (AA/AAA charger, NiCd/NiMH) which provides real insight into the charging process, although there are web reports of overheating (to the point of melting!) so I won't leave it unattended (those reports are dated early 2006 -- so it's possible mine has better firmware).

My preferred travel charger is the Energizer (NiMH) CHDC-CA although I'm not thrilled with its performance .. only the size (not all chargers can charge both AA and AAA). They have a new USB model which has onscreen monitoring, and hence shows promise (assuming I'm packing my laptop).

History lesson: my first battery charger was the (Radio Shack) Archer 23-122, which belongs in a museum somewhere. It charged NiCad AA, C and D cells. Years later, I favored Olympus' BU-100 which charged Ni-MH AA cells, but the required power cord is unwieldy for travel (it's since been upgraded - the latest model appears to be the BU-500 and there's no cord).

If you travel internationally, you'll need a power converter for the models with integrated US power prongs (115 VAC), but .. that goes without saying.

Wednesday, October 3

today's POTUS translation

This story is all over the web today:
"Bush vetoes child health insurance plan"
.. but it really deserves a translation, straight from His own lips:
"Your parents am Democrat. So, it's just gooder if you DIE DIE DIE."
.. as he says with a Cheney-inspired smirk. I've completely lost the ability to be surprised by the depravity of this regime.

Friday update: Today, President Quagmire repeated the "This government does not torture people" lie. What he meant to say was: "We Outsource Our Torture" (probably to the Albanians, Chinese, etc).

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing his reaction to the use of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" on his daughter Jenna .. on her (upcoming) wedding day. Since he's confirmed that EIT<>Torture, I'm sure he'll be okay with that.

Double-bonus points if her sister Barbara is drafted to fight in Iraq on the same day, along with 25,000 of her CFRP cohorts.