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The Anniversary Poem

October 11th, 2012 · No Comments

15 years! Looks like it’s time to repost the old poem (’02, ’05, ’09). Happy Anniversary, Amy!

Do you know,
I would quietly slip
from the loud circle,
When first I know
the pale stars are blooming.

Ways will I elect
that seldom any tread,
In the pale ev’ning meadows.
And no dream but this:
You come too.

–Rainier Maria Rilke

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Best DAI/Euro plug audio adapter cable for BAHA

September 21st, 2011 · 6 Comments

If, like me, you’ve got one or more BAHA sound processors, you probably have searched for a decent direct audio input (DAI aka Euro plug) cord or cable to connect the sound processors to your iPod, iPhone, laptop, Discman, whatever. I’ve tried several and I’ve finally settled on the one I think is the best. I’m passing it along here because it’s probably easier to find than buried in the BAHA_PPL Yahoo group.

The one I’ve been using and enjoying the most comes from Oaktree Products and the item number is DPV1M. Here’s a direct link: http://goo.gl/HBsLz That link goes to the bilateral version. If you only need one side (monaural), look for item number DPS800 or here’s a direct link: http://goo.gl/DxtvJ NOTE: I’ve got no financial interest in either the manufacturer of the cable, nor the retailer. I’m just a happy customer.

The reason I think this is the best DAI cord/cable is that the DAI connector is gold plated and the sheath covering the wires is rubberized. I do a lot of physical activity which invariably gets sweat around the BAHA units. Typical cords have a silver colored connector and it quickly starts to corrode and need cleaning/maintenance. The gold plated connector resists this kind of corrosion better. The rubberized sheath is very similar to current iPod earbud cables, which resist tangling when coiled. They are very nice. The best part is that my binaural cord is cheaper than the monoaural cord sold by Cochlear.com. And Cochlear.com doesn’t even sell a binaural cord (as of this writing…I heard it’s in the works).

The one catch to all this is that the seller of the cables, Oaktree Products, is a wholesaler to audiologists. So you’ll need to either be an audiologist or have your audiologist put in the order for you. Their shipping was pretty quick–I ordered a couple of cables and had them within a week. These cables are so good that I never want to run out (in case of loss or damage), so I think I’ll be ordering up another couple pretty soon.

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First tooths

March 18th, 2011 · No Comments

Asher recently lost his first tooth, and vlogged about it (I guess he’s a vlogger now). We dug up Truman’s first tooth video as well. Here they are for comparison. They’re both 6 years old in these videos…

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New “ears”

February 1st, 2011 · 3 Comments

After a 3 month wait for titanium to integrate with bone, today I was fitted with two new sound processors. These new digital devices replaced my old analog hearing aid, which had been limping along these past few years. One major benefit is that I’ve now got bilateral hearing for the first time in 43 years. That’s pretty sweet. The sound processors also accept Direct Audio Input (DAI) accessories, so I can use Bluetooth stuff or get a direct connection from audio sources (iPhone, laptop, etc) to the sound processors. That’s really nice. And the processors have a mode where the external microphone can be turned off and the only input is from the plugs…for me that’s tantamount to a very nice noise canceling headphone.

The sound quality is excellent. Much greater audible range, and much greater clarity and definition of sound. I was in a restaurant right after getting fitted for the processors, and I felt like a spy. It seemed like I could hear everyone’s conversation all around me. It was fun, but a little distracting. Some of the sensations will take some getting used to. For instance, when the battery on my old hearing aid started dying, sound got sort of dull and muted…hard to describe, but I know it when I hear it! The new sound processors have a wider dynamic range, and they treat sound differently. Sometimes the way sound is rendered in the new processors, it sounds a lot like when the battery was dying on my old hearing aid. The really trippy part is that all the other sounds around that dull sound are just perfectly clear and fine. It’ll take some getting used to, I guess.

I need to get a hair cut now, too. The microphones on the new processors are sensitive enough that they pick up the sound of my hair brushing against them, which ends up sounding a bit like static. Also, hats are apparently not going to work for me anymore, which is kind of a bummer. I really like hats. I’m going to keep messing around with this to see if there’s a solution, but right now any time I put on a hat I get a lot of squealing feedback. That’s a bummer. Also, talking on the home phone is going to get some getting used to as well. I’m not as familiar with where the microphone is located, and I keep missing it and having a hard time hearing the caller. Practice will make perfect, I guess. Along similar lines as the hat problem, I’m clearly not going to be able to wear headphones any longer. The squealing feedback on those is even worse than with hats. Considering the DAI options available, the headphone problem isn’t a very big deal.

The sensitivity on the new processors is astounding. I’m hearing cars drive by outside the house. I can hear the gravel under their wheels. I’ve never had that kind of hearing sensitivity, and it’s pretty great. I’m tired tonight, though. I think it’s because I’ve been spending most of my time thinking about hearing and focusing on what works, and what doesn’t, etc. When we were driving home after the processors were fitted, I kept saying “hmmm”, or “that’s interesting.” I was just scooping up all the new information coming in about my hearing experience, and filing it away for later processing, I guess.

I’ve got some video of the day, which I’ll edit into a final video for inclusion with the others. I thought that was something I’d work on tonight, but I’m just too tired. I’ve got a staff retreat for a couple of days this week, so maybe while everyone else is playing Uno, or whatever, I’ll work on a little video thingy.

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A New Reading

January 17th, 2011 · 3 Comments

I love to read, and I’ve been moving more and more of my reading from paper to mobile devices since my first Palm whatever-it-was. I read a lot on my iPhone these days, and I’ve got my schtick down pat. Basically, in terms of categorizing content, you’ve got: books and articles. The articles are further broken into short form and long form. Short form can be considered blog posts, Twitter, Facebook updates, etc. Long form articles are what you’d be familiar with in a serious magazine or journal.

I’m not going to list out all the different ways you can read stuff on your particular digital setup. I just want to point out some good tools that I’m currently using. For books, I use the Kindle and Nook apps. Both are free, and both allow you to lend/borrow books from other users (someone’s gotta buy the book first, of course).

I acquire my short form articles via RSS, and I use Google Reader as the clearinghouse for storing my subscriptions. I use the native Google Reader web interface on my computer, and I use the Reeder app on my iPhone. Everything is sync’d up nicely. I have a lot of subscriptions, and I’m not particularly fastidious about reading every update that comes through every subscription every day. I’m totally comfortable “marking all as read” and just moving on. I’m confident that if I initially miss something that’s interesting/important, I’ll eventually see it.

Finally, the really great trick is with the longer form articles. I’ll run across stuff that I’m interested in reading, but just don’t have the time to read. I used to mark these with a star in Google Reader and revisit them from time to time. That didn’t work terribly well for me. These days I use an app called Instapaper. The app lives on my iPhone, but I also frequent the web site. Instapaper provides a bookmarklet that I click when I’m on a page with a longer article that I’d like to read later. It simply saves the article, with advertisements stripped out, for later viewing on mobile device or computer. It’s genius, and I use it all the time to read stuff during those previously wasted minutes standing in lines or waiting for others. It’s great. Instapaper is iPhone only, but Android users can achieve the same thing with Read It Later (also available on iPhone and other platforms). Instapaper and Read It Later work so well that there are now aggregators of long form articles that might be of interest. Check out Best of the Moment, The Essayist, Give Me Something To Read, and Longform. There is occasionally overlap with the offerings, but it’s worth the annoyance.

On top of all this, there are apps like Evernote which allow you to store your digital detrius, some of which might be important documents to which you may need quick access. I view these kinds of apps as more of a backup/storage solution for certain types of information, and not a primary location for general reading. Still, it has it’s place.

What’s your reading workflow?

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Pointers

January 9th, 2011 · No Comments

Just some quick thoughts here.

  • If you’re a fan of Girl Talk, the latest album dropped a while back and it’s a free download here.
  • I had my checkup for the BAHA implants last week. It went fine. The medical resident said she thought maybe they should scrape some of the surrounding skin away. When the surgeon came in, he just blew it off as residual swelling and prescribed some steroid cream. The cream seems to be working. I’m just not sure if it’s working to the degree that doesn’t interfere with the sound processor. I go back on the 28th to get that checked out. Still scheduled for sound processor fitting on Feb. 1.
  • The Giffords shooting in Arizona is horrible. However, I’ve appreciated the backlash against using violence as a metaphor, at least in the political arena. The cynic in me doubts that the outrage will last, but my inner optimist hopes it will. The peace churches have much to contribute here, though few are listening.
  • This post on Metafilter is about a friend of a friend who recently killed himself. I’m not posting the link here as some kind of macabre gawking, but rather to encourage you to read Bill’s suicide note. Suicides are tragic and preventable, but Bill’s lucid reasoning in his note is utterly chilling and heartbreaking. I don’t know how many other suffer as he did, and I don’t know how to respond. Reading and acknowledging is a start, I guess.
  • And speaking of death, this article in the NYT is a good one. It talks about who takes care of your digital detritus when you’re gone. Yet another thing to think about with estate planning.

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On again, off again

January 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

I’m off Facebook again. I dunno for how long, but I just couldn’t take it any more (again). I’ll try not to rant about how vapid everything is over there, or how one-dimensional it makes me feel. I’ve just got a love/hate thing going with the site.

I love all the genuine re-connections that can be made. It really is fun to find old college friends and swap a few stories, then move on. And I do like sharing some of the weird and fun stuff I run across on the Internets. Also, since so many sites are rolling out FB logins, it’s going to start to be more difficult to not have an activated account. I know of a few sites I already log into using FB, and I’m not going to be able to use them while my account is disabled. The cost of sanity, I guess.

I’ve been reading a book called You Are Not A Gadget, and it’s got some really insightful things to say about interface design, coding lock-in, and our cultural tendency toward reductionism. All of which I can see clearly reflected in FB and my own usage (and your usage, too). It’s helped me think in new directions about some of my own work, especially how we treat people online and how to make better distinctions between the online presence and the real people.

Left unaided, my own tendency while reading friends updates on FB is to begin, over time, to conflate the real person with the persona presented on the screen. And they are definitely not the same. I find that I often dislike the online persona of real people I care about. That gives me a disturbing sense of cognitive dissonance. So I blame FB and I shut down my account. I know that’s not the answer, but it works for now and it buys me some time to either work it out or ignore it again.

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Griftopia review

January 2nd, 2011 · No Comments

I’m reading Griftopia by Matt Taibbi right now. It’s like an edgier and more recent version of Liar’s Poker. Taibbi is a journalist with Rolling Stone, and his writing style is pretty fast paced, a bit profane, well researched and definitely from his particular viewpoint. This book is an expanded version of this essay.

Liar’s Poker was a good story because of it’s first-person perspective. Lewis was personally involved in much of the book, and where he wasn’t, it was also well researched. Taibbi was “there” in the same sense that all Americans were “there” and his writing easily matches Lewis’ for depth and readability. Taibbi pulls no punches as he tirelessly walks the reader through the events leading up to the various financial crises of 2008. He devotes a whole chapter to Alan Greenspan, and utterly skewers him and the whole nutty Randian Objectivist movement. That chapter definitely made me think differently about Greenspan. While Greenspan was heading up the Federal Reserve, his economic analysis never quite seemed to add up, and now I’ve got a much better insight into why that may have been the case.

Taibbi walks you through the gas spike that happened during the Obama/McCain circus. That whole spike didn’t make sense to me back then, though I always figured it had something to do with instability due to peak oil. Turns out it was a direct result of some newly opened loopholes for commodities speculation, which were essentially closed to normal investors like you and me, but available to investment banks like Goldman Sachs.

And speaking of Goldman Sachs. Geez. He unloads on them (justifiably) throughout the book. Hilariously, he included a blurb from Lloyd Blankfein (CEO of Goldman) on the back of the book. Anyway, it’s a good read, though I’d be surprised if it didn’t make you more cynical about big business and government.

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Not a resolution

January 1st, 2011 · No Comments

It’s the first day of 2011. A whole new decade. Amy has resolved [redacted], and I bet she’ll do it. Personally, I’m not making any resolutions. I’d like to write here again, though. So here’s the first one. We’ll see how well this goes.

Let’s just do a little catchup, though, eh? Back in October, my hearing aid broke. I found out they don’t make ‘em anymore. And I found out that I should probably get surgery to hear better. So I made a page about it. Lots of folks helped out, and I had surgery on Nov. 1. It went well, and I healed quickly. The implant on the right side is a little lopsided, though, so I’m having that checked out next Tuesday, 1/4/10, up at Oregon Health Sciences University. And then on Feb. 1 I’m scheduled to be fitted with dual Baha 3 sound processors. That should be excellent. I intend to make a short followup video once everything is in place, and I’ll point it out when it’s ready.

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Why stop there?

October 28th, 2010 · 2 Comments

I ride my bicycle to work. It’s not far. It takes maybe three minutes on day when the traffic lights aren’t going my way.

Even though it’s not much of a ride, I still am honored nearly every day to share the road with drivers who apparently have forgotten any traffic laws they ever knew. Too many stories to tell, so I’ll just outline my favorite recurring scenario.

I’m stopped at a stop sign at an intersection. It’s not a four way stop, just a two way stop. Meaning the cars crossing my path don’t have a stop sign. A car that should be crossing my path slows to a stop near the intersection and attempts to wave me across the road. Remember, they don’t have a stop sign. Other drivers coming up behind them aren’t expecting them to stop in the middle of the road. This is insane behavior, yet I see it almost every day. I just impatiently wave them on, then cross when it’s clear. Like a sane person.

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