Saturday, April 21, 2007


All is well. We've been busy in a good way with visitors, and in a different way taking care of Little Boy. Our nanny is sick with some unknown infection and will be out for a couple of weeks, so we've been doing shift work at home to take care of the baby. As a side effect, our ability to do "one thing a day" has vanished, although we can each still manage to do maybe two things a week.

I hope to return to regular posting activity in a week or two. All my shots have been going well, and I'm healthy. I hope you are too.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Short Consequences

This was a four-coffee week. Little Boy is doing well with the nanny and Audrie's back-to-work schedule, but he's also taken to sleeping for shorter stretches at a time. I'm sure that my thoughts are "a little" scattered as a result, but I'm sure this post will still.

It's nice to have a day when you can just let some concerns drop off the table entirely. I don't really have the energy to care how I look on Saturdays. Crazy-haired, stubble-faced, and with a clean but randomly-chosen T-shirt on my back is good enough. Now, I recognize that I'm already biased towards not caring what other people think of how I look, and towards not really caring much myself. If I had a different personality, maybe I'd be writing about how, even if I don't feel great on Saturday, at least I can still take the time to dress elegantly. I suppose the real point is that it's a day when choices become more conscious.

Our three cats have all been needy lately, having not gotten their fair share of attention since the baby came along three months ago. Whenever I sit down for more than a few seconds, one of them will find a way to get onto my lap for some loving. But since I'm don't usually manage to sit down for very long at a time, they are displaced before they're ready. Also, it's warm enough to wear shorts again. The combined result of all this socio-climatology is that I've got a bunch of scratches on my leg where the cats fall or jump off from unprotected skin. On Friday afternoon, as I started thinking about the evening's shot, I realized I was going to have a bit of a hunt to find a patch of scratch-free skin to serve as my injection site. I managed, though, and was even able to use one of the scratches, along with a freckle, to form a little thigh sextant to help me remember the site I had chosen.

My side effects were actually pretty minimal on Friday night/Saturday morning. (Was it the Advil instead of Tylenol? Running the humidifier while I slept? Four-coffee week? Avonex that had been rendered ineffective from getting too cold or too hot? Standard deviation? Acclimatization? Sunspots? Etc.?) But I did have a dream in which J—, a fellow computer scientist at my work, is lying in bed with the chills and fever. I ask him if he wants some Tylenol, and he says no. So I think some part of my soma+psyche was well aware of whatever side effects I was experiencing.

My clever idea this week regarded my "treat" after my shot. Rewarding myself for a successful injection is a technique I learned from the Avonex support materials, and it has continued to be a good idea. Usually I get a cookie or something. This week, I decided to finish reading an article about bad video game covers (note: not completely child-friendly). Something about the writing in this particular article just makes me laugh out loud. I had actually tried reading it during a break at work, and had to stop because I was laughing too hard. At home on Friday night, poor Audrie heard me laughing from the other room and thought that I was crying. She hurried in, concerned, and it took a minute for me to get breath enough to explain.

That's it for this week. Be excellent to each other.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The Curious Case of the Missing Title

I made a new CD this week. It starts with Regina Spektor's song Fidelity, before going into Enya's Orinoco Flow and Only Time. Then a couple of tracks by Bonobo round it out. With this one, I don't feel rushed. Since relaxation is such a key to comfort with the shots, rushing is highly counterproductive.

Speaking of comfort, my caffeine experiment continued. This time, I didn't have any coffee on Friday (sorry if you own stock in Starbucks), but I still had only minimal side effects. I also had some sweets after my shot, because I had made oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookies (and I foolishly always make cookies that I really like, meaning that I eat a lot of them!). But I did also add something new to the mix. At Audrie's excellent suggestion, I put our good humidifier in the guest room, where I sleep on shot nights. Tylenol seems to really dry me out, and Avonex may too, so I've generally been waking up a lot with a super-dry throat. With the humidifier in there, I slept much better. Leif also slept quite well. In fact, he "slept through the night" for the second time in his life, this time a marathon 6-hour stretch. The kid's a maniac, I tell you. I was so inspired that I napped for a couple of hours during the day just to try to catch up.

In debugging, you often hear "change one thing at a time". This has its wisdom, but if you're really after results, I doubt it's wise to serialize your search that way. For seeking change is a search, and just as in algorithms, changing one thing at a time (linear performance) won't get you your answer as quickly as changing in bulk (logarithmic performance). So if I find some combination of techniques that seems to keep me comfortable after a shot, I will be happy. And then I'll start dropping one thing at a time; otherwise, the experiment turns from science to superstition.

Just as a side note, though: it's hard to really gauge whether you have an Avonex headache if you clonk your cranium on the corner of a cabinet at 8:30 in the morning. So I don't recommend that in the future.

On the matter of swordsmanship, I still seek to extend my proprioceptive awareness into the needle. The last few weeks, I've either forgotten in the moment or just had no success. Last Friday, it seemed like I took a step in my desired direction, though. I didn't yet have a keen sense of the needle, but I was closer, somehow.