My battle against spinal stenosis

I’ve had back problems for the last decade. Sometimes I would wake up to horrible muscle spasms in my upper back. Doctors initially tried to addressed this with anti-inflammatories & muscle relaxers. They barely masked the symptoms and did nothing to address the root cause.

Moderate scoliosis (curvature of the spine) was suspected as the source of the problem. Physical therapy offered some relief, but the problems always seemed to come back a few months later.

A couple years ago it got worse: I started having numbness and tingling in two fingers on my right hand. Reaching down to pick things up from the floor or sleeping in the wrong position could lead to my entire right arm and shoulder going numb. In 2016 I underwent a battery of diagnostic tests: MRIs of hand, shoulder, neck. EMG nerve test, finally neck X-rays revealed the source of the problem. My diagnosis: severe stenosis of the spine, a disease that involves degeneration of the disks that separate the vertebrae, compression of the nerves going between the bones.  I was told that I have: “a spine that looks like somebody 20 years older” than me.

Continue reading My battle against spinal stenosis

SpaceX Falcon9 First Stage Landing

I really should update my blog more often. So much is going on in my life, unfortunately this space has gone stale.

In other news, SpaceX just landed the first stage of a rocket they used to launch a satellite into orbit, a monumental  milestone in space exploration:

Those are some happy rocket scientists!

Confessions of a Gamer

I’m coming out… I’m a Gamer.

You can find Starcraft being taught at UC BerkeleyThis study shows that playing real-time strategy (RTS) games improved “cognitive flexibility” in those who played it.

I’m not ashamed of being a gamer any more… but only because I’ve made it to the top of my Starcraft ][ silver league bracket:

Screenshot2013-02-01 22_54_10

A good game can teach one to optimize for every single possibility, to close every possible gap, to maximize every resource and to utilize all surpluses, to minimize any waste. You’ll still get whopped from time to time, which is important because it’s the losses that teach you much more than the wins, if and only if you really analyze why you lost, and come up with corrections to prevent that means of losing later. Things start to work better for you in the long run. These are lessons that can be applied to real life. I believe that some games, when properly applied, can actually sharpen the mind.

Better living through Starcraft!

Hardware Keyboards On Android Have a Long Way To Go


I love my Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, but the keyboard is not perfect.  It works better than the touchscreen on my netbook, but it’s still very unrefined. I did however manage to use it to write this post.

Mostly, the keyboard problems are the fault of Android app developers who did not anticipate a keyboard being a primary interface to their app.  Here are some apps that don’t quite work how they should:

ConnectBot – Key maps for special characters !@#$%^&*() are broken.  These work fine for password inputs, but once I’m logged in, they’re dead.  The #1 SSH client for Android is useless for all but the most basic commands.
Gmail and Google Earth – I love using the keyboard shortcuts for these desktop apps, but they have not been ported over to their Android counterparts yet.

Voice Input – When I dock my transformer to its keyboard, I lose all ability to issue voice commands or speech to text. The virtual keyboard has a nice microphone to invoke the speech capture, but no such hardware button is part of the Asus keyboard.

None of these problems are insurmountable.  Hopefully the experience of having a keyboard on a tablet will improve with some basic software updates.