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eye See

15 Jun

Crisp lines and hard edges, a flower’s petals and each blade of grass, wrinkles that outline the perfect smile… these everyday novelties fill me with joy as I rediscover the world. Life has come into focus.

Glasses and contact lenses have been a part of my life since grade school. As an active, rambunctious tom-boy it was difficult, if not impossible to keep a pair of glasses in working order for very long. Countless pairs have been sat on, knocked off, scratched, bent and misplaced over the years. I learned to make due and play sports without them, judging distances by how blurry goals were and recognizing people by the shadows features made upon their faces. Eventually I tried contact lenses. Although the routine of it all put me off and the lenses irritated my eyes. I’m sure there are still a pack or two in a drawer somewhere.

I had LASIK surgery yesterday after years of letting the idea marinate in my mind. The decision was finalized after meeting someone who had the operation. She had fully recovered with 20/20 vision and was adventuring through Southeast Asia unhindered. I was in awe and completely convinced that this was something I had to do.

The surgery itself was slightly uncomfortable, but painless. After the anesthetic drops were placed in each eye, a lid holder was placed over one eye to keep it from closing while the other eye was covered with a cloth. Then a protective flap was created, a thin layer of cornea removed, exposing the area where the laser would focus. While the whole idea of having a laser beam aimed at your eye seems unnerving, I felt more uncomfortable while the flap was being created than during the actual laser process. It felt like there was a suction cup over my eye and the instrument obscured my entire area of vision; for a moment I was in total darkness. Thankfully that only lasted a moment or two, and then I was instructed to stare at the red light allowing the laser to target my cornea. The correction itself only lasted a few seconds. Then, the flap was replaced, my eye flushed and the procedure was repeated on the other other eye. There was literally no down time from the moment of surgery to clear sight. Despite my eyes watering and burning slightly, I could see the office and nurses with incredible clarity.

I was teary eyed leaving surgery. (I’m sure the whole burning sensation had something to do with it.) But I was so overjoyed! I cried again today, just looking around, being able to see; it’s a gift and a miracle. I’ve always known that this life is full of wonder, and now I can see it clearly. For the past few years I’ve lived and traveled around the world, but I’ve never seen it with my own eyes… today begins a new adventure. I can’t wait to see what happens!

PBS-Stretching California’s Water Supplies

1 Nov

I abhor the modern mainstream media. It’s a slave to advertising and mass consumer markets, the underbelly of a capitalist scoiety gone amuck. The media’s top priority should be to objectively inform the public, fostering engaged citizenship. However, it is unmistakably clear that the media is solely focused on its bottom line and appeasing its advertisers. We’re being dooped by glistening smiles and fat conglomerates. It’s a sad situation.

But there is always hope and in the case of media, hope is tangible. America’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) publishes quality broadcasts consistently. With the hundreds of channels available on the television, PBS is one of the few that has programs worth watching.

This month, KCET will be airing Huell Howser’s “Stretching California’s Water Supplies“. The program explores the organizations and technologies working to preserve California’s most precious natural resource. From motivated non-profit organizations to resource-conscious farmers, the program’s three segments will investigate the innovations behind California’s water conservation efforts and how they affect our everyday lives. I’m actually looking forward to watching it.

As the world’s supply of potable water is strained, it’s important to be aware of the issue through objective information. Not surprisingly, such information is not readily available in mainstream media. At least there’s PBS. If you’ve got the time, watch the show as it airs tonight (and throughout the month). If you can’t, at least you know there’s a problem- and knowing is half the battle.

how to take over the world v 0.1

14 Feb

Alright, enough with this facade. You think I’ve been busy earning my graduate degree, working til the wee hours of the morning, getting home fatigued and mentally exhausted from work… Fact is, I’m building an unbeatable army harnessing the powers of earth, fire, wind, water, and heart- or rather Chuck Norris, Mr. T, Adam West aka Batman, Samuel L Jackson, and David Hasselhof.

Chuck Norris Mr. T Batman Samuel L Jackson David Hasselhof
Admit it. You’re petrified.

Snakes on a KiteChuck Norris and Mr. T will lead the ground infantry units which will deploy PowerSkip scouts with air support from Samuel L Jackson and snakes on a  kite. Jackson will also have authority over my upgraded paratroopers outfitted with super classy wingsuits as well as my jetpack powered air units. Wingsuits

Adam West will provide tactical support, overseeing the battle-mechs which will require very adroit deployment considering they only shoot squishy pink balls and are limited to walking on completely flat surfaces. Battle-Mech

David Hasselfhof will be in charge of the miscellaneous and pointless divisions equipped with the latest technology, home to arguably the most extensive and self-important squadrons. For instance we have expendable water walking, bubble men (limited to a 30 minute air supply) and a squad of hovering scooters with laser beams attached to each operator’s helmet (yes, the necktie is required to operate scooters). Hovering Scooter Squad


Sorry Pinky & the Brain, I win.

beat the txt

29 Dec

Along with the holidays comes the age-old tradition of hyped up enforcement of drunk driving laws around the country. No doubt you’ve seen the sobriety checkpoints, set up to thwart drunk drivers and deter anyone sober enough to fear arrest. But fear not my liquored-up friends, for technology is on your side… in a sense…

Drivers are using text messages, Twitter, iPhone apps and other savvy tech tools to inform others of sobriety checkpoint locations. While warning others about checkpoints is one thing, using that information to justify drunk driving is quite another. Checkpoints are set up to prevent individuals from driving in the first place and broadcasting this information has the potential to deter drunk individuals from driving. However, people could use location information to come up with routes avoiding these checkpoints and encouraging drunk driving… which is slightly problematic, both for law enforcement and drivers (drunk or not).

The primary goal of checkpoints is not to remove drunk drivers from the road, but to reduce driving after drinking by increasing the perceived risk of arrest. Unlike checkpoints,  saturation patrols are the real threat to drunk drivers. These patrols are areas with a high concentration of officers on the move. Compared to checkpoints, patrols produce about seven times as many DUI arrests.

I’m all for a good time and empowerment through technology, but seriously, if you’re going to drink, have a designated driver, take a taxi, or sober it up while you figure out (the lack of) public transportation at dark-thirty in the morning. Cheers.

i think, therefore i say

28 Dec

Yes, it’s another invasive procedure, but scientists, led by Frank Guenther at Boston University, have successfully demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. Studies have been conducted implanting an electrode into the brain of a person suffering from locked-in syndrome, a condition where one is aware and awake but physically paralyzed except for the eyes. Using the brain-machine interface, it takes about 50 milliseconds for the thought-to-speech process, which is about the same amount of time for a neurologically healthy individual to speak his or her thoughts aloud.

5 years ago, scientists implanted an electrode near the boundary between the speech-related premotor and primary motor cortex within the frontal lobe of a volunteer’s brain. Neurons began to develop and extend into the electrode, and, in three to four months, these neurites produced signaling patterns on the electrode wires.

The system is “telemetric” in that it requires no wires or connectors passing through the skin, eliminating the risk of infection. Instead, the electrode amplifies and converts neural signals into frequency modulated (FM) radio signals. These signals are wirelessly transmitted across the scalp to two coils, acting as receiving antenna, attached to the volunteer’s head. The implanted electrode is powered by an induction power supply via a power coil, which is also attached to the head – so yes, another breakthrough in future headgear fashion.

The signals are routed to a recording system that digitizes and sorts them. Spikes in signal convey when a neuron fired information and contain the relevant data for this thought-to-speech system.The sorted spikes are sent to a neural decoder which connects to a speech synthesizer. Finally, the speech synthesizer generates synthetic speech in just 50 milliseconds. In time, this system could enable individuals suffering from paralysis to partake in real-time conversation. Pretty damn spiffy.

Speech Synthesizer. Credit: Guenther, et al.

Speech Synthesizer. Credit: Guenther, et al.

cyberpunk dreams

11 Dec

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have harnessed the power of your thoughts to type. This technology is too cool to go under the radar. Just think of the possibilities. Next step: Telekinesis, Kyle.

Electrode grids implanted in patients’ brains are being calibrated to recognize brainwaves associated with written language. Patients participating in the experiment have successfully typed by thought. This awesomeness does require a craniotomy, where a part of your skull is removed to expose brain surface… so people will be thinking twice before running to the nearest brain surgeon, especially when there is a non-invasive technique that has similar results and trendy headgear:

EEG wear this in style

EEG head-gear, the latest in fashion

Despite having to go under the knife, brain-computer interface technology and its possible applications are impressive. 10, 20 years down the road we’ll all be Jean Greys (hotness not included and spandex body suit optional of course).