January 2006

The State of the Union: about as good as our most ignorant citizen

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

As someone who has [nearly] made it through college with financial aid programs, work-study, spending my own personal savings from high school, school loans, and funnelling summer job money into my education, I am appalled by the two-facedness of President Bush on the issues of competetiveness and education.

President Bush was handed not only his riches but also his presidency by a political dynasty and a largely unrecognized system of political nepotism. Other Americans have worked hard in the face of adversity, and are still given a raw deal with low wages, incomplete health coverage, and an uncertain future.

If we want to remain competitive, we have to preserve the American spirit that encourages rugged individualism, but we must also recognize that it is only when people break free of the shackles of ignorance that they can excel and contribute to our society.

In my view, the government’s primary domestic goal should be ensuring there be affordable (ideally free) education to all of its citizens so that they can be lifted out of the shackles of ignorance and thrust forward into upward economic mobility. This President treats education like an afterthought, first spearheading a bad program (No Child Left Behind) and then underfunding it. President Bush would seem to prefer if all schools were private like the ones he attended, accessible only to those fortunate to be born into rich households.

When will the $400 billion dollars we fruitlessly spend on “defense” (about 6 times more than China spends, they’re #2) start to be the target of cuts, instead of our precious few social programs and our public education system, which are so desperately in need of preservation and expansion?

My Median Nerve

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

I’m continuing to struggle with healing from carpal tunnel syndrome. Nonetheless, I am making progress. Through splinting, and visits to the occupational therapist, and icing twice a day, I’ve seen marked improvements to the way my wrist and hand feels. In addition, because the median nerve runs all the way up through the shoulder, I’m feeling relief even in my shoulder and neck area.

More than anything else, what is probably helping is that I’ve been laying off my right hand entirely. Rest is the best form of healing.

About a half-hour ago, I experienced a weird sensation. I was icing my wrist as I usually do, and at a certain point I realized my wrist was really cold. I then performed Tinel’s test and found the pins and needles sensation that I have never felt before. When I tapped on the base of my wrist I could feel pins and needles all the way up into my three primary digits: my thumb, index and middle fingers. I could literally feel exactly where the median nerve was running. I didn’t really know whether this is a bad sign; I’ll ask my doctor tomorrow. I can only get a positive Tinel’s sign result when my wrist is under ice for a long time, like 10 or 15 minutes. What’s the physiological reason for that? I’ll have to find out tomorrow.

Till then, keep your nerves healthy.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking working

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

So, I promise that I would start blogging again once I got Dragon NaturallySpeaking working. Well now it is working and fully trained and surprisingly my voice is controlling my computer. I’ve been laying off my right hand very much, and had a custom splint made him by an occupational therapist who has also been prescribing a steady treatment of anti-inflammatories, ultrasound and cortisone therapy, ice and heat. So far my symptoms are going the way; specifically, pain that used to radiate up into my right shoulder has completely disappeared and pains in my right wrist are subsiding. At first, I wasn’t going to be very optimistic, but I really like the way this is going.

I’ve been thinking a bit about how carpal tunnel syndrome seems to be more congenital than it is acquired through repetitive strain. That’s not to say that repetitive strain does not exist; only that some have a predisposition for acquiring the painful symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. My mother had carpal tunnel syndrome — which she got over through conservative treatments — so it would make at least some sense.

I don’t want to come to any conclusions at this point, and I’m enjoying the break that I have from computing, so I will continue to lay off this blog for a while, at least until all of my major symptoms subside. Until then, keep thinking about all the issues that you think are important, and maybe while I’m taking a rest for my thinking chair, you’ll stand up and act. For starters, how about we oppose this horrible reconstruction of Washington Square Park which is going to ruin my commencement/graduation from NYU?

Outsourcing Homework

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

I only skim the headlines of /. lately instead of getting caught up in the commentary. But one caught my eye: the increase of “rent a coder” programs for CS students who want to fake their way to a degree. (Essentially, students are “outsourcing” their homework.) My favorite comment was the following:

If that’s your approach, why not be a buisness major instead? I mean, if you’re not really passionate about the work, why not pick an occupation that a) pays more and b) is easier to fake your way through?

Heh.

Hand trouble

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Many of you who know me know that I take computer ergonomics very seriously. I started doing so in my sophomore year (~1.5 years ago at this point), where I started to experience symptoms of a RSI from my intensive computer science classes.

Last semester, I took a long break from computers and saw my RSI symptoms disappear. Once I got back to work last semester, they came back even worse than before, and it even affected my performance in classes and such due to the strain and time I had to spend nursing the injury.

This break, I’ve been researching ways to get over this problem. I am still not sure if what I have is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, DeQuervain’s Syndrome, a muscle inflammation or pinched nerve (or all of the above), but I’m trying self-treatment by immobilizing my right wrist in a wrist splint, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (i.e. ibuprofen) and using my left hand for as much as I can.

We’ll see how it goes, but I have to take a break from this blog for a couple weeks, most likely. (Unless I get Dragon Naturally Speaking working under Windows!)