August 30, 2005

Final mid-term surgeon visit

Posted in: Injury Time

Just back from Guy's Hospital, my third post-operative check-up. The usual round of xrays and commentary from Mr Klinke (my surgeon) provided this frank Germanic assessment.

K: Ah, they're looking quite good. Me: Like normal feet again? K: No.

He went on to explain that they're healing well and that for three months post-op they're in good shape. OK, perhaps "shape" isn't the right word as both my heel bones were mashed to pieces, some of which still jut out here and there, and half a dozen screws and a piece of honeycomb mesh puncture and perforate my right foot. He thought the mobility in my right foot subtalar joint had improved. Which wouldn't take much since it was practically seized last time he saw me.

I've been directed to start walking without the Aircasts whenever possible. After his rebuke last time I coyly admitted to having already done this "a bit" but thankfully my confession didn't draw any stern admonishment this time...

Next appointment's in three months, by which time I'll doubtless be drawing accolades in international breakdance competition, and effortlessly somersaulting ticket barriers...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 12:36 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 27, 2005

Sax in the conservatory

Posted in: Pix

Sepia Sax

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 05:23 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 25, 2005

Dyslexic experience

Posted in: Drivel

I've just been working on a code bug that's taken probably 30 minutes to resolve. I finally tracked it down but even when I used tools to help me pinpoint it it still wasn't obvious. I've been programming on and off for twenty years and have, naturally, developed the ability to pick out these kinds of things at 30yds. I've generally found the notion that you can look at two things and not see the difference or not be able to instantly see that "independant" is spelt wrong as particularly odd. So I guess this experience was an insight into that condition. Yikes.

See if you can spot the bug! The issue is that headlines are being repeated.

[% MACRO show_newspoints(nps, co, show_little) BLOCK %]
[% count = 0; FOREACH np = nps %]
 [% IF np.headline != last_headine %]
<li>[% format_date( %] - [% np.publication %]: <strong>[% np.headline %]</strong>
 [% END %]
 [% IF np.synopsis %]
 <br />
  [%+ np.synopsis %]
 [% END %]
 [% IF cgi.param('debug') %]
Importance: [% np.importance %]</br />
Sentiment: [% np.sentiment %]<br/>
Subject: [% np.subject %]<br/>
Subject UID: [% np.subject_uid %]<br/>
 [%+ END %]
 [%+ count = count + 1 %]
 [% last_headline = np.headline %]
[%+ END %]
[% IF count == 0 AND show_little %]
<li>There was little coverage for [% %] in the sources
reviewed in this period.</li>
[% END %]
[% END %]
Posted by Paul Makepeace at 16:04 | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 20, 2005


Posted in: Drivel

Since getting back from hospital and not being able to go upstairs to my PC I've been downstairs on the sofa (inadvertently) using the "laptop method" of contraception. This is a bit of a bugger as I no longer have any desire to sit at a desk and code. I haven't quite figured out ergonomically exactly what it is about desk v sofa but I waaay prefer the sofa and (it feels) get a helluva lot more done.

Work's been going outstandingly well - am on fire right now, all sorts falling into place, and solving genuinely tough problems. Our little enterprise is having a delivery problem, i.e. too many sales. Good problem to have. Music practice is a fantastic distraction and really helps clear my mind for another code onslaught.

And it's been raining, the fertilizer's been mopped up by the grass, and the garden at last doesn't look like parched brushfelt. Time for a party...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 20:31 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 17, 2005

How to run a meeting

Posted in: Drivel

Chris just produced a 10-point how to do meetings plan. Some especially good notes on enforcing start times, and the more radical suggestion of preventing latecomers from joining. This would be a tough move but kudos if you can pull it off and not politically sabotage yourself... I would add "there's no excuse not to at the very least communicate impending lateness". There really isn't.

Reminds me of something I learnt from Chris Adams at Southwestern when selling books: specify odd start times like 9:58am for the simple reason it makes people think and re-examine the implicit assumption that "10am" means "around, usually after, 10am".

Ian Fetterley passed on the idea when I was working at Schlumberger of having an applet running during the meeting that was a real-time listing of the financial cost of the meeting calculated from the group's cumulative salaries. Ten people in a room for a couple of hours can easily run to thousands of dollars.

But the best advice of all is at the end, "don't go to meetings" :-)

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 12:32 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 13, 2005

Back in the gym...

Posted in: Injury Time

Since leaving Leytonstone in Dec 2003, I haven't had a gym membership. Early 2004 I just slacked but then through Karen I discovered kettlebells which pretty much took care of strength, endurance, and fun. And since I could do them at home I actually trained more often and got stronger, fitter, and had more fun.

Continue reading "Back in the gym..."
Posted by Paul Makepeace at 20:10 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Strida saviour

Posted in: Injury Time

Mum came to visit and she very kindly signed me up for a gym membership. She took this pic after we got back. It's fair to say without this bike I simply wouldn't be getting around nearly as much; it's too painful to walk long distances, and any other type of bike would be harder to use on transport. (Brompton might be OK. I think they're another 3kg. With my feet the Strida's 10kg is perilously close to about as much as I can handle anyway.)

Paul With Strida

NB Green belt sling for the crutch. Yay for little fold-ups!
PS Today is the 3 month Landing From A Great Height Anniversary, phew...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 15:30 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 11, 2005

Work Diary

Posted in: Drivel

I've been trialling Wordpress the blogging software recently and despite its slightly self-congratulatory tone I have to say, it definitely gives Movable Type, the software that powers this bit of the site, a run for its money.First impressions are good; installing "themes" was a total snap, and certainly way easier than with MT.

Anyway, I have a second blog now I guess which is far more day-to-day and at, cunningly sectioned off in its own domain so no-one notices unless they really, really want to...

Random history: I chanced upon a technique for beating procrastination and thought it was worth putting online. was to be that site. Since then I've kicked the procrastination habit (partly also with hypnosis) so its original vision never materialised. Maybe I'll get 'round to it one day :)

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 21:58 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 10, 2005

Physio session

Posted in: Injury Time

Had an hour with a senior physio at St George's who did a full assessment. In practice, this meant him taking a thorough description of my various aches and pains. It was quite a strange exercise as for each one I had to rate it 0-10, 0 being "no pain" to 10 being "worst pain imaginable" along with a description of the pain -- specific, dull, ache, pinch, stab, ... There were about half a dozen or so things I could identify still causing me discomfort (4/10). An elderly lady in the next booth was having real social difficulty with this "oh, I hate to sound like I'm complaining...".

I am a pain, not a number!

The pain scale was tricky. 10, "worst pain imaginable", doesn't seem in my mind to have a limit. Try imagining that pain, and what it would take to inflict that pain. Now, double that. I bet you can. Double again. And again. It doesn't seem to end. Needle in the foot not painful enough? Heat it up. Still more? Try twisting it back and forth once you've hammered it into a joint. Still more? Pull it in and out so the cartilege and tissue are perforated. Still more? Jam it into the bone. Still more? Apply an electric current. Still more? Turn up the voltage. Still more? Change the voltage so it pulses. Still more? Increase 'til the current is causing the surrounding flesh to burn. Once you're foot's done, move onto your knee, nose, eyeball... Needle worn out? How's those thumbscrews and pliers doing.

There was a documentary on TV recently about people who have woken up in surgery and been without pain relief but unable to signal it because they're still paralyzed. Their descriptions were horrifying. A couple of them reached pain levels so high they just passed out. So I suppose there is a limit.

Apart from the sympathetic pains, destruction of karma, and conscience, torturing someone must be about the easiest job, limited only by creativity and sadistic cruelty.

Where was I.. Ah yes. So after some mild prodding and poking Tom essentially thought I was ready for some functional/proprioceptive rehab but was hesitant to do without clearance from the surgeon. I'm so ahead of schedule in my healing, and he could see that and wanted to capitalise on it, but at the same time was worried that I only had surgery two months ago...

My right foot is quite damaged. The talus bone which sits between the bottom of the shins and heel has really thickened up, a normal response to bones breaking ("it'll repair stronger than it was to start!"). Great, except for the fact it could be a while before I can fit the damn thing into my shoe collection... That excess callous bone build-up will recede over time but it takes ages.

My calcaneus/heel has also set at a slightly tweaked angle. I'm not sure if it was like that before though; I do have some minor asymmetry in my feet/leg mechanics.

Eh, the fat lady's not singing yet... And thank goodness I'm not a runner/construction worker/long jumper...

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 23:09 | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Round up

Posted in: Injury Time

Gosh, over a week. Some notable events:
* Thursday, first time on the Tube(!)
* Apparently got hooked on transport using it Fri, Sat, Sun too.
* Lovely trip on Mat's canal boat documented by him on travelog. It was a very lazy afternoon and I met some cool people. Yay Mat!
* Discovered the flute has very similar fingering to a saxophone, so bought one of those too. My god it is so much fun! And loud. And fun. I've wanted to play one for ages; why the hell didn't I just freakin' get one?! Anyway, after a breathless sax session I went back to the flute and managed to sound a bunch of the tricky top register ("altissimo") notes I couldn't before. I hope sax+flute turn out to be complementary to learn together.... (Started inline skating and ice hockey together years ago and came to the firm conclusion they are not complementary.)
* Cycled on the Strida fold-up to physio at St George's (4km) today in ordinary shoes. Strapped a belt around me as a sling for the crutch. I only need one crutch now for short distances. More on the physio at some point. I swear I was born to be on wheels - it felt 100% smooth, zipping about, up hills, down ramps, ... Once I'm off the bike I'm immediately reduced back to a shambling wreck again.
* Cheered by the success of using the fold-up, embarked on a mission this afternoon to Richmond Music to get my sax checked out (only a minor tone hole fix needed). Richmond Music were very helpful indeed. The journey: I took the Tube, and had with me: the fold-up bike, an alto sax, a left crutch, two feet in casts. It's a rock 'n roll lifestyle, baby.
* Interesting observation: number of men who spontaneously offered me help (I blatantly needed it): 6 or 7. Number of women: big fat zero. It was during the day and there were more women around. Cutting it on another axis, all my helpers were over 35, and there were plenty of younger people around.
* Weather's fantastic!
* Woo!
* The sax is really fun, did I mention that?

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 18:43 | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 2, 2005

Walking, for real

Posted in: Injury Time

Last couple of days I've been out on crutches, probably about a kilometre there and back, and then the day after that cycling at walking speed alongside a friend on foot. Cycling is actually far easier than walking and more controlled both in terms of graduated effort and random incidental forces, especially on a little fold-up bike. Both resulted in me back home with feet in ice water, in a tired-but-OK way.

Today I was in hospital for routine x-rays and my surgeon twisting my feet about. He couldn't induce any pain which was good, and the only specific pain I've been having I couldn't even reproduce either. Radiographs showed everything fine too. I took a bit of heat for having walked around without my boots on though, oops. Eh.

Well aaannnyway. Today, quite out of the blue, I can walk in Aircasts completely unaided! Not just teeter about like an early Segway prototype but actually stably move around (garden, kitchen, hallway, etc) without any substantial discomfort. Wild! The healing process definitely seems non-linear. This last ten days or so it's felt like there's not been much progress: Monday I'm still struggling on crutches. And then Wednesday *whoomph* I can walk. w000t!!

Posted by Paul Makepeace at 17:57 | Comments (4) | TrackBack