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Archive of April, 2009

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[Permalink 2009-04-29] The Bell's Palsy Tolls

April 29, 2009:

So, Saturday my right eye was acting up. I mean, it was going absolutely bonkers. Well, it was the first weekend I'd had the windows open in a while and the pollen was nasty so I wasn't too surprised.

Then Sunday evening I realized my mouth wasn't closing right. Or more to the point, my lips weren't sealing themselves particularly tightly when I closed my mouth. But only on the right-hand side. And my hand and foot on that side were fine, and the eye still tracked OK.

No, I didn't have a stroke. I'd be kind of ticked off if I had -- no loss of motor skills and I can still speak. It would've been the lamest stroke ever.

What I have is Bell's Palsy. It's swelling of (or around) the nerves that control one side of the face. So my eye's upset because it's not closing all the way, and that's why the right side of my mouth is acting like I'm coming off Novocaine. They have me on Prednisone to reduce any swelling that might be causing the nerve annoyance, and an anti-viral called Doxyxycline because they think now that (maybe) it's caused by a virus ticking everything off. I have a gauze patch on my right eye to hold it shut and keep it from drying out, and to keep any junk from getting in it while it's slightly more vulnerable.

To their credit, both the nurse and the doctor went straight to Bell's from my symptoms. This tells me that it comes up at least moderately frequently either in medical school or in practice. I can almost see the sidebar in the medical textbooks: "Your patient with half a face not working but speaking coherently and otherwise healthy didn't have a stroke -- he has Bell's Palsy. Go ahead and tell him we don't know what causes it and give him these pills that might accomplish something."

It usually goes away on its own in a couple weeks. I the meantime I'm Mr. Depth Perception. Driving is actually OK because I have enough visual cues to figure out distance -- I can use the two-second rule, and how much of my windshield a car takes up, for example. Everything else, like getting my keys into the appropriate locks, and (to a degree) typing is a pain, because there isn't as much to help me out. And there's the minor problem of making sure I drink things properly so as not to dribble on myself.

So all of this means that, instead of working yesterday morning, I got to wait in line at the Urgent Care Clinic near my apartment (in fairness they're first-come-first-served, and since I wasn't spurting blood I didn't count as an emergency). After that copay I got to do the copay for the pills (complaint about spending money aside the PPO basically approves just about anything you throw at them), and buy a bunch of crap like gauze pads, medical tape, eye drops and cotton balls, some of which I'll actually use.

And the damn gauze eye patch is almost as annoying as just letting the eye water all day. When I peel off the patch to rub the itchy eye (yes I know I shouldn't, when your eye itches constantly for three days let me know how your self-control is holding up) I make the tape unable to stick to my skin even though it's spot-welded itself to the gauze, meaning I go through several patches a day.

If instead I go without the eye patch I have to keep any breezes out of my face since the one eye can't close... even the "breeze" caused by the vents on my car's dashboard. A/C takes a while to work its way up from the floor vents.

Ah well, just one more weird, annoying thing that can go wrong with one's body. At least it'll be over and done with in a few weeks. And it seems like one pill or the other is working a little -- the eye isn't as itchy and watery as it was before I went to the clinic.

[Permalink 2009-04-22] Circumventing My Own Retardation

April 22, 2009:

Since I'm too lazy to upgrade my Mac to OS 10.5, I've been using JWZ's backup strategy. For those who don't want to click, it boils down to: Find new hard drives that match your internal drive's connection type and capacity (bigger is allowed). Place the internal drive into an encolsure to make it an external drive. Then, use rsync to copy your whole hard drive to the new drive, making a swap-in bootable backup.

One day, rsync reported a disk-full error and my Mac's hard drive was full. Really full -- the status bar actually said, "Zero KB available." But the backup drive had 200 GB free. What the hell?

After some rooting around, and copying some of my pr0n important documents over to another external drive, I was able to run another backup.

The next morning, rsync had failed again and the drive was almost full again. Time to reformat the backup drive, I guess.

Call up Disk Utility and select the backup drive. Volume name: "Backup". Mounted at... "Backup 1"?!

Fire up the console and cd to /Volumes for a look-see. I get: Jason, Backup, and Backup 1. Backup 1 hasn't been updated since the fifth; Backup is current. OK, select Backup on the desktop (which is mounted to Backup 1 in the command line, remember), and "eject" it.

Crank off another ls -al and Backup 1 is gone. Backup is still there. OK, something ain't right here.

> umount /Volumes/Backup
/Volumes/Backup: not currently mounted.

So, nothing mounted at the mount point I'm staring at. Poke around in the ghost backup, and it's a full copy of my drive from the last successful backup. And my hard drive is almost full.

I form a hypothesis: At some point I ran rsync without actually having the backup disk mounted. Being utterly obedient (and running as root thanks to sudo) it dutifully created the directory /Volumes/Backup and filled my hard drive with... my hard drive. When I tried to mount the actual disk, it saw something in /Volumes taking up space with its name, and adapted as best it could. And since rsync runs from the command line it doesn't work around the goof-up like the UI does. It goes by the mount point, not the disk volume name.

Which leaves me at: I have a good, if outdated, backup on the external drive, and only one way to test the hypothesis.

> sudo rm -r /Volumes/Backup

A few minutes later when rm returned, I still had a functioning computer and 60 gigs of free space. Plugged the backup drive back in, and it mounted in the proper place. So I set off rsync and grabbed myself a beer.

So to recap:

  1. I attempted to run rsync to a drive that wasn't currently mounted.
  2. When rsync ran it did exactly what I asked even though it didnt have an external drive to write to and did the copy to another directory on the primary drive.
  3. This went on for three weeks, until my sparseimage got so big the primary drive couldn't store two copies of it. During this time my backup drive did absolutely nothing.
  4. Unmounting the drive showed the non-existent drive still present.
  5. Deleting everything on the drive reclaimed the space being taken up by the duplicates, and allowed the external drive to mount in the proper place.

I left out the steps that involved cussing and drinking, but that's the basic gist. Moral of the story: Your failing backups and your full hard drive are probably related.

Edit: And now that I've written that, one of the commenters on JWZ's page mentioned that exact same problem. Meaning (1) I'm not the only retard out there (2) Everything old is new again.

Edit, 4/29: Formatting to make the commands stand out a bit.

[Permalink 2009-04-20] Dogs May Be Taking Me Up on that Whole "Evolve" Request

April 20, 2009:

I was watching Ginger play with her Kong last night, watching her try to un-stick the last couple of kibbles that I cram in to keep it from giving up the goodies too fast. After trying to bounce the toy around and use her teeth to extricate the food, she pinned down the Kong with one front paw and picked a piece out with a toenail on the other front paw. With the logjam broken she could bat it around the living room and roll treats out of it.

That's a decent amount of problem-solving right there, especially for a critter with a brain about half the size of a tennis ball. And given that I've never seen dogs or wolves pick at their food with both front paws -- I have seen them hold it with either/both paw(s) and gnaw -- I'd say this is a new technique in addition to the problem solving.

Now, Ginger is no doubt very far from being the first to figure this out. But it's something I didn't teach her, and something that likely doesn't happen in the wild. I was impressed.

For about half a day. She still lags a little behind the frontrunners. From the article: "The clever canines board the Tube each morning. After a hard day scavenging and begging on the streets, they hop back on the train and return to the suburbs where they spend the night... [T]hey even work together to make sure they get off at the right stop -- after learning to judge the length of time they need to spend on the train."

I, for one, welcome our new train-riding canine overlords.

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This page last updated Jul 19, 2019 4:07:42 PM.