Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shut up, two-eyes!

Argotnaut had LASIK a couple of months ago. She loves her fancy, unbespectacled eyes, and she's prattled on an on about how much more vibrant and big everything looks. As there's nobody more zealous than a convert, she has been encouraging me to undergo the same procedure.

Now understand. I have worn glasses since I was in the 5th grade. When I couldn't read the blackboard anymore, I asked the kid at the desk in front of me what was on the board. When I couldn't see the kid in front of me anymore, I knew there was no escaping my destiny. I was to be a four-eyes. A Mr. Peepers. A buck-toothed, glasses-taped-together nerd. As of last month, my eyeglass prescription was -9.5 in the right eye and -10 in the left. This is on a par with somebody with normal vision looking through window that's been smeared with a bucketful of Vaseline. But surprisingly, even my pathetic and pitiable eyeballs were not outside the transforming power of the latest LASIK technology.

So I took the plunge, and last Tuesday I let some complete strangers hack into my corneas, flip part of them back like the top of an PEZ dispenser, burn off a few microns of corneal tissue with a laser until my corneas were more or less normally shaped, and then flip the caps back.

There are a few crazy YouTube videos of this procedure that you can look up at your leisure. But I have to admit that I'm pretty impressed with the results so far. Currently, my vision is about 20/25, which I haven't had with my unaided eyes in about 35 years. So no more fogging up of lenses coming in from the cold, no more groping for the bedside clock, no more flying off of glasses when I pull a t-shirt on over my head.

The only drawback is that I can't see things up close anymore without some reading glasses. So I've gone backward in time to my old, youthful eyes, but at the expense of having to do like the old folks do and don reading glasses to look through the morning paper. It's a fair trade, especially now that I can wear sunglasses, and I can work out at the gym without the sweat making my glasses slide down my nose. When I'm fully healed, I'll be able to swim and actually see where the hell I am in the pool. If my vision stays as sharp as it is now, cycling will be a whole new contacts enabled me to see fairly well, but nothing really like this. I'm sure the Columbia River Gorge will take on an entirely new level of grandeur.

I'm also certain that watching football in high definition will now be ultra-impressive. If only the Bears were, too. One miracle at a time, I guess.

Friday, October 19, 2007

German Voodoo Doughnuts

Not much exciting to post about, so I haven't posted lately. But here's a video I made for my German language class. The assignment was to create something for this year's batch of German exchange students that would show them a part of Portland that they wouldn't find in travel books. I chose to do a little film on Voodoo Doughnuts, in operation since 2004. Even if you don't know German, you'll still get the gist, especially when it comes to my opinion about a certain U.S. President. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The times, they are a-changin'

Sorry about the eon that has passed since my last post. Not sorry about the eon, I should was a great eon. I'm just apologizing for the lack of posts during the eon.

Also, I don't have a lot of time to wax on about all the stuff that's happened in the weeks. I will soon, but because I've gotten a few requests for the photos below, here they are.

First, a bit of background.

When I was in my early teens, my Dad would always make me get a crew cut. This was at a time when all the kids wanted to look like Peter Frampton or Robert Plant, or (shudder) David Cassidy. My Dad was very sneaky about getting us to the barber shop. For instance, because he was a private pilot and licensed instructor, he would often give us kids flying lessons, and say "Hey, Andy! How about we go put some flight time in the airplane!" "Great, Dad!" I would squeal. So we'd climb into the car, but on the way out to the airport, he'd say:

"But first, a haircut!"

This phrase became infamous in my family, and came to mean anything horrible that has to be endured before you can get to the good part.

Last week, I returned to my hometown for a family reunion, and I decided that, for old times sake, me and my Dad would go get matching haircuts. Thus, I would transform the hideous and painful remembrance of those times into sweet nostalgia. Here are the before-and-after results:

My brother, who went through the same torment, looked upon my new 'do and shook his head as if I'd just gotten a swastika tattooed on my brow. "Come on, Steve!" I said. "Become one of us!"

I think he's still running.

Monday, July 09, 2007

How does your garden grow?

Pretty darn well, thank you.

Not much going on of note right now. I'm taking Liguistics 390 over the summer and so far I'm enjoying it very much. But exciting reading it ain't.

Actually, neither is an update on how the back garden is doing, but at least I can offer some nice before and after pictures:

The corn is waist high by the 4th of July, and the tomatoes are going gangbusters. The peppers are bringing up the rear right now, but since tomorrow will begin a series of days near 100 degrees (which, I understand, pepper plants thrive on), we'll see how it goes. As for how me and Argotnaut and the boys bear up under triple-digit high temps with no AC, well, I think it'll be time to organize the basement.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Okay, first I was going to title this post "Nerdfest," because it's nerds who are scientifically-oriented, social misfits and geeks who are circus performers who bite the heads off of live chickens. But after consulting, I find that, while "geek " does have its basis in circus lore and describes a "peculiar person," nerd can be a "foolish person," but nowhere does it say that a geek is stupid. And so I hope that makes me a geek and not a nerd.

Got that? OK. And YES, I know that language is constantly changing and YES I know that dictionaries can't possibly keep pace with the changing American vernacular. Argotnaut.


A couple days ago I saw an article on regarding an upcoming celestial event. The International Space Station and the Space Shuttle were going to be visible together in the night sky. The Shuttle had just undocked from the ISS so they were going to be traveling as a close pair across the heavens. (Close meaning about 10 degrees, which for the astronomically challenged reader means roughly the width of a fist held at arm's length). Those who know me are aware that I've been an astronomy geek since about, oh, birth, as the previous sentence suggests. So I couldn't pass up a chance to run out into the back yard and look up like a little kid.

The article was kind enough to contain links to sites designed to help observers find out when the pair would appear in their local skies. This site is the one I used and it's very cool.

So at the appointed hour (10:34 pm), my lovely and equally geeky wife and I went out and watched as the two star-like points of light chased each other, gliding purposefully through the celestial vault, over the tea house and behind the swaying bamboo trees silhouetted against the gently glowing summer night sky. Their journey took just three minutes, and then they winked out above the southern horizon and were gone, off to visit the skies over Mexico, then Latin America, and then the bottom of the world.

Sometimes it's great to be a geek.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lovely Creatures

I saw this flower on a walk the other day and had never seen anything like it:

Guess I'll have to dig around for our "Flowers of the Northwest" book and see if I can find out what kind of flower it is. Sure is something, though...doesn't even look real.

Also too cute to be real was this guy I saw recently at the vet:

He was tiny and had food on his nose. He was available to a good home, but that was all I needed after finding out my cat Cookie is going to have to undergo Iodine 131 therapy. Cookie's prognosis is good: his kidneys are in great shape and he's in otherwise excellent health. But it's still going to be a costly and inconvenient procedure. So no, we're not really in the market for ANOTHER pet right now, thank you. But he sure was a cute little dude, and if Argotnaut had been with me, we may have had another member of the household. But as lovely as he was, Kitty I'm sure found a good home.