Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
Yesterday I went to go pick up a surfboard for Scott from Long Beach. Odd thing is it had a dog bite, hopefully by dog he didn't mean sea lion, cause I heard those bite too. Sim, the seller was quite a character, you meet a lot of characters from craigslist. Sim was a fat self proclaimed redneck who worked for a telecon consultant. He said his job was to drive a van full of telecomunications engineers mostly chinese and arabs to test celluar networks. He said when he found the job on craigslist he showed up at a house with rows of laptops and guys praying on their prayer rugs and he thought "oh shit what did I get myself into." Bit it turns out it was legit and they were just testing cell networks for cingular. As you can imagine a van rolling aroung with a redneck, some brown guys and a bunch of laptops and antennas attracts a lot of cops and they get pulled over a lot. I thought he was lying but he said he was moving to North Carolina for their next gig and I figured no one goes through the trouble of suspending disbelief to move to North Carolina.
>On 2006-05-30,11:18:06 Blaise wrote:
>>prayer rugs, not prayer runs. I should really code an edit function into this thing.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Not all of Vegas is 45 dollar buffets.
>On 2006-05-27,18:53:11 Blaise wrote:
>>Nothing captures the pulse of a city like craigslist.
So what did I find this weekend. Madonna is the hottest ticket today, Saturday. I can get a Glock for about 500 bucks, I don't know if bullets are included. Things are cheaper on average than LA. Lot of Golf stuff for sale. Erotic is a service category and if you want to drive firstname.lastname@example.org, you'll makes $40-100 per call, gas is negotiable.
>On 2006-05-28,20:40:22 Blaise wrote:
>>Ate at Tao in the Venetian, its asian fusion which is evident by the three storey tall Buddha in the restaurant. Had the grilled Yellew Fin Tuna which was pretty good. Its salty though so order it with rice. Other interesting things on the menu were Kobe beef sashimi and all the desserts looked good. Mary had a layered chocolate mousse, Jerome had a hubongous fortune cookie with white and dark chocolate, Erwin has a fruit sorbet and Daniel had chocolate ice cream. Ambiance was good, all the waitresses were smoking hot, but it was dark so it was like clubbing hot. Our server was thin and gay Jeffrey though. Prices were inflated. My bowl of rice was 4 bucks, ridicurous. Damn I bet 4 bucks in rice would feed a tibetan village for a day.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Actually I don't know since I had PRK done. Basically the three procedure they do perform at Jules Stein and most clinics is LASIK, PRK and LASEK. LASIK is the newest and is different from the other two because of the "flap". PRK is the original procedure and LASEK is a modification of PRK. Where in PRK, the surface cells over the cornea are removed, in LASEK the surface layer, if intact will be placed back over the eye and allowed to be heal back around the eye. If the surface layer did not survive the removal then the surgeon will proceed with the procedure as PRK. My doctor, Rex Hamilton, the director at Jules Stein Refractive Laser Center said he preferred PRK over LASEK since reintroducing the removed layer can sometimes lead to more complications anyway instead of promoting healing. As I found out, the reason that LASIK is much more popular now is probably because of comfort. Having the surface later of your eye scratched out is not exactly the most comfortable thing. After I had the procedure performed, it felt like I was chopping onions all day for the two days after. For me that sensation went away when I woke up Saturday and by Sunday the sensation to close my eyes had completely gone away. The cocktail of eye drops that I was given helps tremendously with the healing.
So on Thursday i did drive in on the vanpool and dropped myself off at the center. I signed in and the collected their fee. For being a UCLA employee I get a 20% discount on the procedure. So for me it came out to $2240 per eye. Which is a little above the average. I think if you look around TLC is about the same and another national chain LasikPlus is a few hundred dollars cheaper. The price include the procedure, for me it was Custom PRK, with Custom PRK the laser ablation is guided by measurements done on your eye. So where in PRK the ablation is done based basically on the refraction, the same way that they determine what your glasses prescription, in Custom the cornea is mapped with a LADAR and the the correction is applied to the corneas topography. So based on this glossy literature they gave me and what Dr. Hamilton told me, if you get PRK, working on your cornea is without Custom is like working on an ideal sphere. With Custom you are working with the actual 3-D topography of the cornea. So you can see then that if you were to get refractive surgery later on the claims would be that their new lasers have higher resolution or possesses a LADAR with an even higher sampling rate.
Besides the cost of the actual surgery, the cost of follow ups for a year and your dose of eye drops are included too. I also got a mug and a pen. Doctors visits are, the day of surgery, then you have a 1- day follow up the next day, for PRK you have a 4-day follow up to remove the bandage contact lens, then a 1 month check up, a 3 month checkup where they dilate your eyes and 6 months and 1 year if needed. You are also given a kit with 4 types of eye drops and a prescription for Vicodin. I also got another prescription for an oral steroid to reduce swelling around the eye lids on my 1-day follow up. The first eye drop is Vigamax, an antibiotic, Flarex, an anti inflammatory, i think, Systane lubricant eye drops and a fourth which is a local anesthetic eye drop that you're only suppose to use on the first day. All by the way are made by Alcon. The first three you are suppose to use 4 times a day for a month. The lubricant eye drops you can use until you wean yourself off of it.
Your counselor will also go over your finance options. Haha, its like buying a car. You can pay in cash, credit card, or open a loan. I was going to cash in on my credit card dividends but it turns out I have great credit so I took advantage of a 6 month interest free loan from CapitalOne Healthcare finance. This is especially cool since I can park my money in my ING Direct account for a couple more months at 4%. Of course you can probably have credit like a third world country and they will still give you a loan because if you don't pay everything off before the interest free period Capital One will be grinning a 19.99% APR grin. If you want to save even even more money you can also open a HCRA, a health care reimbursement account. UCLA offers one, but this probably depends on your employer. Basically you allot a certain amount to be deducted from your paycheck each months before taxes, so you can drop your taxable income by a bracket and save a couple hundred bucks that way. I missed our HCRA enrollment though since they only do it once a year here and its done in October. I might be able to claim the procedure as a tax deduction though, which you can't do if you opt for a HCRA.
So after Capital One approves the loan over the phone I'm admitted to a waiting room. I am given another eye test and it looks like both eyes are at -1.50 again. They also dilate my eyes and start giving me a local eye drop anesthetic. They also take pictures of my eyes first with a desktop machine where you look at little arrows pointing to a dot. They then take me into the laser room to take more pictures.
The laser room has a big warning sign. "Lasers" it says, also there's an icon of a big red laser streak. The air conditioning is cooler in the room, I guess the equipment generate more heat or so, so there is an optimal temperature and humidity setting for doing the procedure. There is a bed with a machine about the size of computer tower hanging over it that moves on at least two axis. The equipment takes up more space than I anticipated. I lie down flat and the overhead machine starts moving. They hold my eye open and tell me to stare at the red dot. So I do and they take pictures of both eyes. They move me back to the waiting room and I wait for about an hour until they are ready. I think they had a few other patients to do before me.
In the waiting room, Kelly one of the techs gives me my kit which has the eye drops and the funny goggles. The shaded ones are just regular sun googles. The white ones are ventilated goggles that I'm suppose to wear at night when I sleep so that I don't scratch out my eyes while sleeping. The white ones unfortunately make it look like I've been awake for months since they leave little rings around the eye sockets from wearing them for hours. They fade eventually during the day. Everything you need is pretty much in the kit, you'll only need to refill a prescription for the Flarex eye drops and buy more lubricating eye drops later when the initial samples run out. Whey are ready for the procedure they give me paper gown to wear and smear iodine around my eyes.
We go back to the laser room. Besides me and Dr. Hamilton, his three techs are also in the room as well as another Doctor who is there to observe, its a learning hospital after all. So I am lying down on the bed again and my feet are propped up on a little wedge. They also give me a football to keep me preoccupied while they shoot laser. You get a teddy bear if you're a girl. They put more numbing drops in my eyes and Dr. Hamilton proceeds with removing the surface later of cells. I feel a little bit of pressure on the eye when he does this. The while time you're suppose to stare at the red dot. So after the right eye is prepped the laser does its first pass and collects the surface map of the cornea. After a couple of minutes the laser is ready to do the ablation. You stare at the dot and a buzzing sound starts, it sounds like an electric fly trap. You can also smell an acrid smoke smell. basically the part of your cornea that the laser is vaporizing. After about 20 seconds its done. The machine overhead moves over to your left eye and the exact same thing is repeated. When its all done I actually started seeing well, but very soon it gets hard to keep your eyes open. We go back in the waiting room and Dr. Hamilton and his observer check the work. They okay it and I'm done, but I have to return the next day for my 1-day follow up. Kelly gives me a peach colored Vicodin pill and a Tylenol with Codeine.
I left the Laser Refractive Center and took the campus shuttle back up to the Powell Library. I figured I should probably get on the couch before the codeine knocks me out. Since I won't be able to see all that well until about Saturday night I start on my audiobooks. For the post op I got "Crime and Punishment" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky since I've been trying to read it for like two years but am still stuck on page 100 or so. I also got "How to Make People Like you in 90 Seconds or Less," Boothman and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Persig. Crime and Punishment still confuses, probably not the best idea to try to follow it loaded up on painkillers. "How to Make People Like You" is a complete waste of money but "Motorcycle Maintenance" was pretty interesting, except its not so much about motorcycles or buddhism as it is about mental illness and philosophy. By about 3:45 my van picked me up, I got a ride home from Alina, one of my riders, I took my 1000 mg of Vitamin C which they recommended I take everyday for 3 months and I went straight to sleep.
The next day I woke up and my eyes were incredibly irritated. I guess I really should have filled that Vicodin prescription. Those onions that I felt like I was chopping now felt like they were being forced into my eye sockets. I used a couple drops of the numbing drops that was in my kit for the first time. That was pretty incredible. Almost instantly where it was painful was just numb. Unfortunately they only last for about an hour. My mom dropped be off at the van pick up again and I got back to campus for my 1 day follow up.
Back at the center Dr. Hamilton checked my eyes again, I was seeing about 20/40 with both eyes. He also prescribed me an oral steroid that I'm suppose to take for 6 days to help reduce the swelling around the eyes. After the checkup I went back to the library to sleep and continue my audiobooks. If I kept my eyes close its actually not too painful. But I used the drops one more time for the ride back home. On Friday before going to sleep I took two tylenol and they actually took effect pretty fast within about 10 minutes. Tylenol usually has almost no effect on me unless I take a huge dose.
On Saturday I was feeling much better, the only thing that was bothering me was the fluctuations in vision. My vision is suppose to fluctuate for a couple of weeks, but would be very pronounced the first week. It wouldn't be too bad but it seemed like one eye was fluctuating more than the other so I was seeing better with one eye than the other and it made me a little dizzy.
On Sunday it wasn't very bothersome anymore and on Monday I returned to work. I also started driving my car but not the van. The eye are tolerating driving pretty well, I think actually see the best on the road right now. At work tough I have to use eye drops a lot, at least every 30 minutes. I didn't realize how dry the eyes get from staring at a computer screen for 10 hours. So until the surface layer of cells fully heal, eye drops are my best friends.
On Tuesday I had another follow up appointment, this time the bandage contact lenses were removed and he made more drawings of how things were growing back. My next check up will be in a month and hopefully there will be no complications cause getting zapped again would not be cool. Dr. Hamilton also told me that the dry eyes are what usually causes the fluctuations. Until the cells are restored the unevenness of the layers over the cornea distorts the vision.
So if you guys are interested in the surgery or the laser center here you can learn about laser refractive procedures from www.uclaser.com
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Last Thursday I had PRK, photorefractive keratectomy, performed on both eyes. So here's how it went. PRK is like LASIK, which is mostly what is performed these days, the main difference is in LASIK the surgeon cuts a flap on the surface layer with either a knife or a laser. In PRK the surface layer above the cornea is dissolved by a solvent and rubbed away and allowed to grow back instead. The difference, as far as I can tell is that LASIK is more comfortable with faster recovery since the surface layer of cells is kept intact and flapped back over the cornea after the laser ablation.
So on Thursday I drove the vanpool in as usual and dropped myself off at the Jules Stein Eye Institute in the UCLA Med Plaza. Its pretty much the nicest building on campus, UCLA must have really done a great job on Jules Stein's eyes for us to get such a generous donation. I do find it kinda weird that one of the most aesthetically pleasing buildings here, inside and out, is for the patients who have trouble seeing. Honestly if I designed and decorated the building with my usual particleboard furniture theme, I don't think the patients would notice the difference. I guess on the chance that someone's vision is magically, or medically restored, the first sight they behold should be a thing of beauty. Thats good, but they might realize that the rest of the east side medical plaza has some hideous brick thing going.
Anyway I gave the receptionist my name but they didn't seem to have me in their appointment book. "Psst, go in the elevator and press B. You will find the man you are looking for." I look over and some old facilities guy pauses his window washing and point to the elevator I just got off. I'm confused but nod and get back in the elevator.
I get off at B and hear, "Mr. Kuotiong please get in the van."
Who am I to argue with a man that employs formal titles? So I peer in the van, I see medical equipment, a wooden chair and a round faced man with square glasses and a dark mustache to match his black hair. He shakes my hand, "I am Dr. Xer Niyazov. Call me Dr. X. Your ambulatory laser surgery has been contracted to my clinic," he taps the van. I look on the side, sure enough, it reads "Dr. X's Mobile Laser Refractive Clinic."
So I am still quite reluctant, "Of course our rates differ, and today we have a $999 special..." he mentions offhandedly.
I get in the van.
"Mr. Kuotiong, you are my first customer today, we will yet get through the day. This is our driver Carl, he nods to the other man in the van, a younger fellow with a similar but lighter mustache."
The van is surprisingly well equipped. Its no bigger than my vanpool but there's a chair, which I'm sitting on, but it kind of resembles an electric chair. On the sides there's a microscope and other fancy stuff. The doctor administers an eye exam and I read the letters which are projected on the rear of the van. I've already done it a few times and it looks like my results haven't changed.
"Ok, we are ready!" Dr. X exclaims and starts strapping me into the chair, tightly.
"How many of these have you performed Doctor?" I asked.
"And one?" I asked.
"Oh," I nod in acceptance.
"Yes, in my homeland this procedure has been performed for 20 years. It was only recently that the west has caught on with the techniques. Its reached such popularity that Crescent Frames, the state run eyeglass factory, is on the brink of insolvency."
"Oh," I nod again.
"Please stop nodding Mr. Kuotiong, I must strap your head to the chair."
As soon as I was secured Dr. X pulls out a plastic contraption. It looks like the blaster from my old Nintendo, the one that came with the Entertainment Pak but pretty much only worked with Duck Hunt. In fact I think it is. But it was hard to see, it was pretty dim in the van. "Please look at this screw," He points to a a spot on the blaster as he point the thing at my right eye.
"What screw?" I ask.
"This.." BANGGGG. Someone has slapped the side of the van, "Dr. X I told you, ya can't park here!"
Dr. X slides open the door and a meter maid, except that he was a man, looks in, looks at me, looks at the doctor, "get your van out of here." His expression didn't change the entire time.
"You heard the man Carl, lets go." Without a word the van fires up and we are driving out of the parking garage.
"Ah I forgot to collect my fee, Mr. Kuotiong!" He sticks out his hand. I'm a little restrained at the moment so I tell the doctor that my Citi dividend card is in my wallet.
"Ah, I'm sorry cash or bank check only." He replies cheerily.
"We have to go to my bank then, Dr. X." So we head over to the credit union. We, or Carl, hastily parks, the restrains are loosened and the three of pile out of the van. It's pretty bright now so we're all squinting at the morning sun. The Nintendo IR blaster is tucked into the doctor's belt, the cord trailing a little bit as we cross the parking lot. His hand is playing with the red pistol grip. The red is really bright. its like that red you see when the sun is in your face and you close your eyes. Its nice to be inside the bank and out of the bright sun. I ask for a cashiers check and am given one for $999. I hand it to the doctor who happily receives it and we are back in the van. I am strapped back in the chair, as uncomfortable as it is. The doctor slings the blaster from his belt and aims it at my left eye now. I am told to stare at the screw again and this time I see the doctor's stout finger behind it quivering a little as he applies pressure on the trigger. It relaxes.
"We forgot the auxiliary power! My apologies Mr. Kuotiong. Carl can you run up and plug into the grid?" I hear Carl get off his drivers seat and soon see him sliding the van's door open. He put on crampons and a belt and starts scaling the telephone pole behind him. A hefty black Romex wire follows Carl up the pole like a tail. Soon his feet go past my frame of view and I watch the plastic wire inch up.
"Patched in." He yells down.
The Doctor and I both assume the position again and I'm looking into the barrel of the blaster. CLICK. "Ok, now we do the right eye." The Doctor shifts his aim. CLICK. "Congratulations! You can get down now Carl!" he yells out the door.
As he unfastens the leather straps Carl gets down and tidies everything on his end. "Now Mr. Kuotiong here are some goggles," he hands me what looks like swimming goggles, "Keep these on for a few months. The lasers, they dry out and shrink the eyes, they will keep them in your head in the meantime." He laughs. He also hands me a Ziploc bag with a couple hundred pills, "and here is your Vicodin, take it with water."
Soon enough we are speeding away and headed back to Westwood. We have sandwiches, mine is seasoned with the peach colored pills and I am dropped back off at my office.
>On 2006-05-24,19:22:31 Sheila wrote:
>>okay, that sounds way shady. was funny. but i would have ran.
>On 2006-05-25,09:30:08 Kathryn wrote:
>>Whaaaaaat!! Are you for real!
Sunday, May 21, 2006
What do I care if my toilet paper is super absorbent? Ok maybe one time when I drank some tap water at Tokyo-Narita International. Otherwise I don't think number 2 cares about absorbency. Now if it said toilet paper so soft you'r think its was cut from the crow n princess' silk kimono, I'd wipe with that. Parchment so soft it had to be harvested from the backs of newborn lambs, I'd buy that. Quilted Northern isn't winning me with their marketing. Now Charmin, they've got it going, how can you not buy toilet paper with fuzzy white teddy bears on the plastic. Maybe I can done the Quilted Northern to some high school kids.
>On 2006-05-22,15:34:11 Blaise wrote:
>>Opps, there should be a question mark in there and donate instead of done.
The weather has been pretty nice lately. Well outside it was. Since I removed my air conditioner I left all my windows and doors open to let some breeze in. "Wait a minute," I thought, why don't I just sleep out there? so I took my sleeping bag out and slept on the grass. I had to put my eye drops in though so I went back inside and just slept on my bed. It's a good thing I did because I woke up this morning and it was raining.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
3 Sloth bears eats monkey in Danish Zoo. Visitors shocked. This revives the old my animal vs. your animal debate. So who would win in a fight to the death, A full grown grizzly bears or a male silverback gorilla? Hmm the bears got claws and the gorillas a vegetarian. I think the bear can take on like 10 gorillas. But who knows, dolphins and killer whales do prevail over a great white shark.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
article I saw on yahoo that yahoo took from livescience.com
Men Pay the Ultimate Price to Attract Women
Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
LiveScience.com Thu May 11, 11:00 AM ET
While it is tough to be a woman, being a man can be downright deadly.
Women live longer than men. And now scientists suggest a simple Darwinian reason: Competing for a mate can wear a guy out or get him killed.
"Women live longer in almost every country, and the sex difference in lifespan has been recognized since at least the mid-18th century," said Daniel Kruger at the University of Michigan. "It isn't a recent trend; it originates from our deep evolutionary history."
The idea is presented in the spring edition of the journal Human Nature.
In common chimpanzees, Kruger and his colleague Randolph Nesse report, mortality spikes among males around age 13, just as they're old enough to breed and start competing for social status.
Males of many species must fight vigorously for the right to mate. Think of rams butting heads. Spectacular male bird plumage is another example of biological effort required to succeed, effort that uses energy and can shorten a life.
In this scheme of natural selection, evolution shapes traits that help the best genes survive, sometimes to the detriment of individuals.
Human males don't always have to wrestle to get a woman these days, but the pressure to succeed sexually hasn't changed much, the researchers argue. Only the methods have been revised.
Drop your club
Though society may be changing dramatically even from this generation compared to the last, some things never change. Women still have to bear the greatest burden of raising a family giving birth and often take on more of the day-to-day responsibilities for the ensuing 18 years. So just as in ancient times, they remain very choosy in selecting a mate.
Now, if you buy all this logic, here's the critical part: To impress women, men remain prone to risky behavior, just as they have been for millennia and just as other male animals are.
In caveman days, being good with a club was one way to get a mate. Now, the ability to purchase a blinged-out SUV has similar value, the scientists suggest.
"Men compete for resources and social status, which are criteria men are valued for in mate selection," Kruger told LiveScience.
Own worst enemy
The pressures of mate selection might be most intense for those just coming into adulthood. And likewise the recklessness of youth, as previous researchers have suggested, is a foundation for human social systems. Young men form the front lines in wars, for example.
One old study on the topic put it this way: "Lacking the opportunity for warfare, some [young adult men] will find other ways to place their lives at risk."
Another study last year, reported in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, reached similar conclusions. It cited "excessive risk taking, aggression, and the suppression of emotions by boys and young men" as being directly related to lower life expectancy in men.
Among the not-so-beneficial behaviors this includes are smoking, reckless driving and violence, Kruger and Nesse write. This idea is reinforced by data that show low social status has a greater impact on male mortality rates than on those of women: Men of lower status or who lack a mate are more likely to engage in a riskier pattern of behaviors, Kruger said.
>On 2006-05-11,18:15:48 Blaise wrote:
>>I think owning a Toyota Prius also has its risks.
Monday, May 8, 2006
I love getting free razors in the mail. Oddly enough this came addressed to Sophia (I opened it anyway). Free Razors are great. Due to Gillete's generosity I've only had to buy refills once and I already gave half of those to Benedict. Yeah, Mr. Bigglesworth has got nothing on me when it comes to hairlessness. Shick kinda sucks though, I wish this was one of those five bladed Gillete Fusion razors with a sixth blade for trimming. I'd be done shaving in half a stroke with that. Oh well maybe I can use this to shave my leg or cats, it ain't going near my face though.
>On 2006-05-09,13:38:54 grandmasophia wrote:
>>taking my mail!
>On 2006-05-09,13:41:41 KenSwift wrote:
>>When you say you love getting free razors, it reminds me of the guy from silence of the lambs. You don't dress in the skin of women, do you Blaise?
>On 2006-05-09,15:28:31 Blaise wrote:
>>Hey Ken! Haha no, I don't own a sewing machine. Free stuff including razors are always great. I just don't know how they know its my 18th birthday and that I need a razor.