DIARY 2013














Sat, Feb 23

<16:06 EEST> Final update on the wisdom tooth surgery: the biodegradable suture thread is mostly gone as of today, and the gum area looks generally healed. In other words, it has taken 11 days to recover. YMMV.

Wed, Feb 20

<19:47 EEST> I hear all the hip young kids say "sup" rather than "What's Up?". They must be some kinds of closet mathematicians. Anyway, here is my take on the memes that seem to be the latest craze among the hip and young on teh intarwebz.

Mon, Feb 18

<20:39 EEST> A few updates on the surgical recovery. Firstly, on Friday I noticed I do have some discoloration on the cheek after all. The greenish-yellowish kind that turns up at the end of the bruise cycle. I think I still have some of it, but it never was really obvious.

The total absence of any serious ache has persevered, and I have mostly given up all painkillers. However, a few minor secondary annoyances have turned up. There has been occasional pain in the muscles since I started chewing more solid food, probably due to simply using them after a long while, which also affects most other soft tissue in the area. Moreover, there is an asymmetry of forces due to still having to chew mostly on the other side, which does not feel natural. Of course, none of this is particularly worrisome.

Another secondary effect is the excessive buildup of plaque, or whatever the microbial goo should be called, in the area which I still cannot brush properly. This might explain the throat irritation I have had in the past couple of days. However, at this point I feel safe in rinsing properly, and I have simply used the occasional saline treatment, which seems to help.

Wed, Feb 13

<20:23 EEST> Slept like a baby (if you know what I mean), woke up promptly around 8 am, and went to math supervision as usual. I did wake up with considerable swelling, but fortunately no discoloration. Also, I did nap for a few hours this afternoon, followed by being my usual groggy self.

Frankly, after the operation I have felt fresher and more present than usual, so having to tone it down is doubly annoying. I presume this may have something to do with having to give up hot drinks and alcohol; OTOH, given all the prescriptions, this is not exactly detox. Food-wise, eating less overall feels good, but the quality is questionable, since I basically have to forego everything fibrous or otherwise nutritious, and enjoy the semi-officially prescribed ice cream. Then again, dietary changes do not generally give such quick and obvious response.

As for the prescription drugs, penicillin is the only one with definite dosage. At the other end is Panacod, which is basically optional with an upper daily limit. I haven't had a single one today, whereas yesterday I had two for shits and giggles; some people seem to get kind of high on these, but I did not notice a thing. In between there is ibuprofen with a daily min and max, presumably for the anti-inflammatory effect, even if no painkillers are needed.

<20:41 EEST> One related but interesting effect is that I feel less twitchy, for example when playing the piano or computer games, but I also feel like I have to slow down my usual brisk walking pace down to average human level. My usual attitude is generally described as "long limbs, short temper", but I also take doctor's orders seriously. The feeling of being bored (pun no longer intended) is funny, because my normal lifestyle is rather sedentary, and I enjoy time on one type of keyboard or another. In fact, losing the extra twitch is not making my life any more boring, and I can actually enjoy the important bits a little more.

Speaking of a grand life-changing idea, I also look forward to getting rid of the inflammation, which has probably been there for half a year or so. It may just have been one general energy drain in my life, and it should be interesting to see it lifted.

Tue, Feb 12

<14:06 EEST> This morning, I had my second wisdom tooth removal ever. I wish I could say "extraction", like the word they use in agent films for getting a person back from action in one piece. In contrast to my first operation, this was a rather long and painful one. A piecewise process, hardly even Riemann integrable.

I was prescribed a pretty funky cocktail of painkillers and antibiotics, and I have yet to feel any noticeable post-op pain. Antibiotics are there both for the relatively large (in space and time) operation, and for the preexisting inflammation around the tooth.

Prior to the first WT procedure, I could see from X-rays that both of the lower WTs were positioned not so optimally. The one now removed was the hardest of them all, so at least one problem is now solved. My appointment was scheduled for 75 minutes, but it turned out even more challenging, and the actual operation took no less than that time. Even with plenty of local anæsthetics, there were occasional deep jolts of pain, as the roots were pushing against a major nerve channel, while being wiggled out. Of course, there was plenty of drilling around to break the tooth up in shards, and I presume also to remove some of the bone around it. I guess the image makes up most of the actual pain of the ordeal, though I still anticipate a longer-term ache for a few days.

Inci-dentally, I feel kind of bored at this point of the day. I was expecting to lie down on a painkiller trip for the whole day, but instead I felt like doing some math homework. I'm pretty sure I could have handled today's lecture, but the act of getting there may be a little too much at this time of blood clotting. Naturally I had this pre-emptive feeling of missing out on some work and play, but at least I can study at home.

<15:33 EEST> An important note about pain and swelling management is that I have been keeping a cold compress on the damaged side practically all day. (Actually, an ice water bottle would be a better description.) At least now, I can feel hints of throbbing pain building up if I stay without the cold for a few minutes. Nevertheless, I seem to be developing a bruise — but you should see the other guy.

<17:43 EEST> Some painless updates: I spent over half an hour without applying the cold, due to dining — obviously something simple and soft, but it was still a lot slower than I expected. Not that I'm particularly hungry with this lack of activity. Back on topic, that time was as painless as any of today. In fact, transitions between warm and cold seem to be marginally painful per se, irrespective of the underlying tissue damage.

A further technical point from my dentist was that some of the swelling may in fact mimic the effect of local anæsthetics, by exerting force on the nerves. This might explain the lack of any notable pain, and the very slight numbness around the area — or it could just be the cold, especially for the latter. I am pretty sure there is no nerve damage, since I can mostly feel everything as usual.

<19:16 EEST> Now, for something completely different. Ever since I got this Thinkpad, I've been meaning to scribble something about its keyboard, including but not limited to a comparison against the Powerbook, and hence reveal something about my general keyboarding habits. Today I had to use the PB briefly to access a PC Card, so I also got a decent share of retrocomparative keyboard analysis.

The big picture is rather clear in that more dedicated keys is better, having already mentioned my love for Home/End/PgUp/PgDn too many times. Some specialties of the Thinkpad also include oversized Esc and Delete, and the former in particular has turned out valuable. Delete is also pretty important, but — and this is where we segue from a clear-cut more==better land into something more subtle — I have kind of grown away from it, and I'm not sure if I need to go back.

Delete is, of course, one of those keys that the PB lacked in a dedicated form, it was only available with Fn+Backspace. In fact, this sort of logic is not that rare in modern portables, which is probably why many of the functions of Del are also available via Backspace. After all, both deal with erasing characters, the only difference is in the direction. So I've ended up developing my own ways to do this, with or without Fn depending on the situation, and it's not clear if a separate Del would make things easier.

As for the HEPP cluster, bundling these together with the arrows was initially very annoying abou the PB, but it turned out quite powerful in some cases. Namely with w3m, which I mainly use to access some local daemons with http interfaces. With the left hand on Fn and the right on the arrows, it makes for a faster switch between the arrows and the HEPP, compared to moving around the right side of the keyboard. Though again, this is not always optimal. I also came to use alternatives such as the classical Spacebar as PgDn, but these are not always consistent across applications, and now I appreciate the HEPP once again.

In the above examples, one might say that there is an optimal number of keys, balanced between easy dedicated access and the overall spatial extent. Unfortunately, the optimum depends very much on the user and the software. The Thinkpad way seems to be that it's better to have a little too much available, so nobody will miss that one crucial feature, even if not everyone uses it. For example, having both a touchpad and a trackpoint is overkill, but I'm not exactly complaining. Computers are general purpose metatools, and the same user may well have different preferences in different situations.

There is at least one point about the TP keyboard that reeks of drooling consumerism in the midst of no-nonsense business logic: back/forward keys next to the arrows. Embarrassingly enough, I've found myself using these :-j They come pretty much naturally from the fact that back/forward is Alt+left/right arrow, and these keys happen to be just above the respective arrows. In a sense, they are horribly redundant, but then again, they do make some "tasks" (if you can call web surfing that) a little faster by freeing my left hand completely for the mouse. Besides, the spaces above arrow keys are often empty.

Speaking of arrows, those of the PB are embarrassingly small, squeezed to half the height of normal keys. Thinkpad is a little more sensible in this respect, but I would still like full-size arrows, like in the good old days. I used to play games with one finger on each arrow, with my thumb on the down one, but this is impossible with current laptops.

Lastly, after the crisp and tight Thinkpad keyboard, the Powerbook now feels incredibly mushy. It is weird, because I used to regard the PB as more solid than most laptops in this sense. One explanation, of course, could be that they simply soften over time. So while this TP still feels a little too harsh to my tastes, it too will probably mushen up eventually.

(A related note about piano/synth keyboards is one of my pet peeves. I don't see anything 'natural' about the hammer action of pianos — it is a relic of technological history, and we have since moved on. Music should be about expression, not brute force, and you don't need to pound on a Remington to be a decent writer, either.)

Sat, Feb 9

<16:30 EEST> It's hardware update time once again :) Funny how a lack of income coincides with plenty of free time for tinkering. This time, I got a new USB audio interface, an E-Mu 0404 USB, to replace the Tascam that had been acting up driver-wise, and get a few improved features along the way.

Besides my relatively humble musical needs, one extra feature I was after is SPDIF, or digital audio I/O. Having been spoiled by AC3/DTS through a digital amplifier, I did not want to miss out on proper movie sounds as some of my entertainment ends up on the new laptop due to CPU constraints. As it is hard enough to find sound hardware that plays nicely with Linux, I thought I was lucky to spot a "fully working" device, according to ALSA docs, on Alas, the digital I/O bits are not fully accessible, but weirdly enough, AC3/DTS passthrough works.

This meant I needed some further tricks to get plain audio across the Dolby-compressed transport. In fact, I had done something similar before with MPlayer, for example to get 6-channel Vorbis into the amp in a Dolby format. (Of course, such lossy transcoding is kind of ugly, but so is a tangle of noisy analog cables, not to mention too many D-A conversions.) This time I needed to get a little deeper, and dig into the A52 encoder plugin in ALSA. Which takes 6 channels of audio, so plain 2-channel music would need a little expansion first.

But hey, this is exactly what Poor Man's Surround and Ortoperspekta are for! Having played with these techniques in both analog electronics and the digital realm, it's nice to see them go one step further in a modern context.

Risto A. Paju