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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Wisdom Teeth

This article on wisdom-teeth removal being a scam is the second one I've seen in a week. Perhaps people are starting to realize that wisdom teeth aren't a mistake? That some discomfort as they come in is to be expected?

I should note, though. that this doesn't affect me at all, I simply find it interesting (but not surprising). My wisdom teeth never grew in, at all. X-rays show nothing there, not even an aborted attempt at the teeth.

Also, I still have two primary molars. In both cases, my current dentist expressed surprise. Primaries aren't meant to last this long, but nothing grew under them to push them out and yet those old boys are perfectly healthy. He says the lack of any attempt at wisdom teeth is much rarer and he can't explain it. Maybe I'm not human?

Friday, December 26, 2014

More Tragedy, Status Update

A lot of Corinne's friends have heard by now that Shane's cousin (same age) was killed on Christmas Eve, down in the Lancaster, PA, area.

A very good friend just called me to see how we were handling things, considering our history with Shane; so it seems like this would be a good time to clear things up as best I can.

Stephanie Kilhefner was Shane's cousin on his Dad's side (his father's brother's daughter). She had two kids. Her husband turned himself in and confessed to everything yesterday. I'm not going to offer any details, or even links to the story, but I've already given enough info that you can google it if you want to be grossed out.

(We hear about stuff like this in the news all the time, but it's grosser when it's closer.)

To answer the main question being asked by the friend that called: we're ok. I knew of this cousin but had never met her. Corinne knew her and was friends with her on Facebook but hadn't seen her since before we met, so it's probably been twenty years.

There's nothing "good" about this. There's no "phew, that's a relief." What we have here is another Kilhefner tragedy, the third big one (that I'm aware of) in the last eleven years.

So we're hurting for them. We know their pain, we're intimately familiar with it, and we're reminded strongly of it. But we're not living it ourselves right now, except vicariously.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What, Now? Wow. Ow.

My brother Jed came back East from BC for two weeks with his new family in tow, two weeks ago. We stayed at Steve Davis's house Tuesday night so I could drive them all to the airport before sunrise, Wednesday morning.

Stop-and-go traffic all the way to the airport, starting at 6am?! That's just wrong.

Jed Dillingham and Family

It was very hard to say goodbye to them all. Alycia is Jed's perfect counterpart, 4yo Michael is nearly his perfect clone (but cuter than he ever was), 4yo Rachel (M's twin) is quiet and sweet and very smart, and Gracie is curious, cuddly and learns to say new things faster than the parrots do. And repeats them more. Except for a very brief visit less than two years ago for Gil Riley's funeral, I haven't seen Jed in seven years, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried on my way back to Steve's house after saying goodbye at Logan.

Steve and I ate breakfast on their front porch and then dressed for the ride. It was to be surprisingly warm, and had rained a bit the night before so we were expecting more humidity. Before we left, we swapped my tires for the new ones I'd brought with me, then we were off.

3.7 miles into the ride, I was pulling and we were making a right. I remember thinking that it was nice of Steve to have the roads re-surfaced for our ride, and was going to say something like that to him eventaully. No, really, that's the last thing I remember about the ride. The next thing I remember is a very brief flash of the inside of an ambulance. "Huh, what's that now? Did I ride right into the back of an ambulance?" Then some jumbled stuff, and people repeatedly asking me stupid questions like, "What's your birthday?" and, "Who's the president?" over and over again. As if the president knows my birthday. Silly.

Corinne was there, somehow. It was like magic! She was ninety minutes away, at home. Probably cooking something delicious, hopefully thinking about me, definitely missing me! Then suddenly people are asking me too-repetitive questions and she's there in the room, in the background. Not sure how that happened.

I remember being put in a CT scanner. Then suddenly I was out of it again. Pretty sure there are two meanings there! I remember asking for water, and being told NO. Then being given water in the form of ice. Whatever, it's water. Why'd you say no? Now your pants are on fire!

I told them they wouldn't find anything looking my head with that thing. Clearly I was right.

Shots and other violations? Plenty. They put an IV in my left arm. "Just for fluids." At some point I pointed out something pointedly obvious, and they agreed with me and detached it because I'm a genius, and they let me have more not-water-because-it's-ice. And a tetanus shot in my right arm that I barely felt. The local anesthetic shot in the skin next to my eye so skinny doctor could put stitches in my eyelid? Most painful part of the day and I still haven't forgiven her. Not sure how injecting a cocktail of lemon juice and burning gasoline into my skin is supposed to numb the pain, but I was Mr. Tough Guy and didn't let on that my inner child was now hiding behind the headboard in his room and moaning in delirious, tortured agony. Bad doctor.

She said she liked me, though, because I was… something. Funny? Sassy? Steve, help me out here, I can't remember. Probably not funny, nobody thinks I'm funny.

What, Now?

Oh, I called this "tally," so here's my tally of momentos (keepsakes, even) from my shortest ride of the year:

  • Road rash all over the right side of my face: next to my eye, on my nose, my cheekbone, my lip and my chin.

  • Four or five stitches on my right eyelid. Skinny doctor was soooo confident that I won't have scars like I got from the other stitches in my childhood. Yeah, I'm going to be disfigured for life.

  • Black right eye.

  • My ears are so small and tucked in close to my head that the road just couldn't reach them. Undamaged! You missed a spot, so maybe next time, suckah! Nyah nyah!

  • Bruise and road rash on my right shoulder and right forearm just below the elbow. The bruise on my right shoulder is deep, moving that arm generates funny noises from my mouth. Odd, huh?

  • Scraped all the primary knuckles on my right hand.

  • Matching holes at the middle knuckles of both thumbs. Nobody can figure that one out, so I'm guessing I was sliding along the ground with both thumbs up like the Fonz (as he jumped the shark).

  • What feels like a watermelon stuck to my right leg just below the hip. It's not actually a watermelon, it's just a giant bag of hurt. The hospital was fresh out of real watermelon.

  • Road rash on my right knee.

  • A bruised and dislocated rib on — wait, can you guess? — the right side. Bruised as in "huh, that hurts to touch it, but not like it's broken. I know broken!" Dislocated as in, "I don't think it's supposed stick out from my sternum like that. And when I cough it hurts worse than the watermelon!" No external bruising there, though. Ellyn says it's because of all my rolls of fat. (I got those from the almost 3,000 miles of cycling this year.)

How did it happen?

How does anything happen, really? Forces interacted with masses at surfaces, and effects were generated.

In this case, I went around a corner, slid on a new crosswalk wet with rain, and the bike hit the ground. Me, too!

Steve went down behind me, even though he "strongly affirms" (he never swears) that it's not possible for him to lose traction with his diamond-spiked, sticky-as-bug-trapping-spider-silk tires. Which means he saw me go down and did what any friend would do and ran me over, then fell halfway across and kicked me in the eye with his cleats. He got a booboo on his right knee and right elbow. The poor guy.

Note that I have no memory whatsoever of the crash as it actually happened, so I'm trusting Steve's recounting of the story… which conveniently did not include anything about running me over and kicking me, nor him getting a ride home with the very pretty police officer that was directing traffic just up the road. So I probably made that all up.

So, congratulations! Now you understand what happened yesterday at least as well as I do.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The New BostonGlobe.com

I'm beyond impressed with the new Boston Globe web site. It's the best I've ever seen. Congrats to @beep and the rest of the designer/developer team. As +Craig Hockenberry said on Twitter, other newspapers are going to look at it and either realize they need to imitate it, or they'll keep dying.

If you have a big monitor, resize your browser window from very narrow through to full screen. Go very slowly, and watch as the layout adapts to the new size, every step of the way. The images resize, the number of columns will change from 1 to 2 to 3, each column's width changes... it's brilliant.

(What I've mentioned here is just the first-glance stuff. Look around, the attention to usability and detail is intense.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Mac and iPhone Application Bundles for the PMC

I'm raising money for the PMC again this year (duh), and doing it the same way as last year (and the year before, and two years before that). What method is that? I ask lots of developers (companies and individuals) to donate copies of their Mac apps (and iPhone, this year), and then I sell them in bundles.

Some developers donate five copies, some one hundred. Some tell me I can have as many as I want.

I don't really sell them, either. I give them away as thank you gifts in exchange for making donations to the PMC via my fundraising account. The “buyer” builds their own bundle out of the big list of available software, then sends me an email to tell me about it, including how much they'd like to pay.

The project is a huge amount of work. Everybody gets a response, even those offers that are turned down for being too low. An accepted offer involves LOTS of email:

  1. in: initial offer
  2. out: your offer is accepted, please make donation
  3. in: donation receipt as proof of payment
  4. in: “What’s taking so long?”
  5. out: acknowledgement of receipt, “please be patient”
  6. out: one registration request for every app in the bundle, sent to the donors
  7. in: one app registration per app in the bundle
  8. out: “Thank you for your donation, you can download your software here…”

(That's just the simple ones. Some bundles have twice as many messages, due to questions or problems.)

Between sending out all those messages, there's a database that needs to be maintained to keep track of everything. Apps are reserved for a “buyer” so that we don't agree to a bundle and then run out before we can fulfill it. Registration codes have to be copied into the database when they come back from the developers/donors. The buyer’s contact info needs to be entered before we ask the app donors for registrations.

It's a lot of work. I used to do it all myself. I put the project off this year because I absolutely dreaded doing it all again.

To my rescue came Corinne Dillingham (my wife) and Cindy Compton: both have volunteered many hours on this project to help me deal with all this email, via a shared gMail account.

Corinne's helping me because she loves me and knows this is important to me. Cindy's helping because she's been bitten by cancer herself, and is still fighting it... she bought a bundle last year, and this year she's in the trenches with us.

Unfortunately the project has one major flaw: it's far too much work! I keep streamlining the process, but no matter how smooth I make it, it's all still being done manually. Three people can't possibly keep up with dozens or hundreds of people making offers all at once. We fall behind. We run out of apps but the bundle builder still lists them as available because we don't even know we're out yet, as they are "taken" by email which is still in the queue. So, we keep getting more offers for apps that have sold out.

Clearly, I'm doing it wrong.

The donors have been very generous in covering our oversells. (Thanks guys and gals!) Still...

This is the last year I'm doing it like this. Let me say that again: this is the last year I'm doing it all this way.

This is clearly a great way to raise money for the PMC. Last year I raised over $14,000, and most of the work was done in just a couple of weeks. This year looks pretty good too. It's just too much work!

That doesn't mean I'm quitting. It just means that I need to finish my "PMC app" (the database app we use behind the scenes) and make it a full web-app, like a storefront, and fully automate the process.

If I don't have it working (at least crudely) by the time PMC signup opens in January, then I'm not signing up.

There, I said it. It's scary, but true. I've just given myself a deadline.

I'll have more to say about this. I know how I want the app to behave, how it should work. I just need to make it happen, and still get paying work done in the process.

Wish me luck! I don't want to give up the PMC, but there's just no way I'm doing it like this again next year. I'm quite pleased with how this has grown and improved over the years, but it's time for it to move up to another level or be allowed to die.

In the meantime, though, go buy a Mac or iPhone software bundle! We'll continue accepting bundles for at least another week or two.


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