Posts filed under 'Personal'

I can still see clearly now – 5 years post LASIK

Five years ago I underwent LASIK eye surgery to correct my short-sightedness. I reported at the time that it had been a complete success, and I’m not going to change that opinion now. In fact it has possibly gotten even better.

I was suffering a little from slightly blurred vision and occasional dry eyes during that time, nothing that would make me an unsafe driver or get me worried that the procedure was beginning to fail, I am approaching 40 after all and assumed that it was normal aging of the eyes. However two years ago I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic after a routine medical exam, and I switched to a low-carb diet to control my blood sugars (very successfully I might add, I’m not on any diabetic medication at all and my last HbA1C was 6.2, I’m hoping to get it into the 5’s next time). Due to my now controlled glucose levels the occasional blurry vision has cleared up, and the only remaining side-effect of the LASIK are the occasional dry-eyes. That, I think, is a price worth paying for better than 6/6 (or 20/20 for non-metric people) vision.

So my advice remains the same, if you’re thinking about getting LASIK, give it some serious thought and see at least two different clinics; but it has definitely worked for me and five years down the line is still working well.

November 15th, 2009

Farewell, Sir Arthur

There are few authors who have had more influence on my life than Sir Arthur C Clarke, from his eminently readable hard sci-fi novels to more esoteric fare like his Mysterious World. I try, at least once a year, to read a couple of my favourite books, Rendezvous with Rama, and The Songs of Distant Earth; each as intelligent and well-rounded as they are different from each other.

I still have vivid memories from my childhood having this shit scared out of my by a picture of Loy’s Ape on an episode of Mysterious World, when I was probably far too young to actually be watching it. My childhood interest in the paranormal almost certainly was fermented then, and although as an adult I’m an arch-sceptic, I’m still fascinated by that world and the (mostly bonkers) people who inhabit it.

So tonight I shall start re-reading Rama one more time – I’m probably overdue in any case – and I can think of potential future worlds and remember a remarkable story teller.

Ninety orbits on this pale blue dot is more than most achieve, but you’ll be remembered for many, many more.


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March 19th, 2008

Things I like

My infrequent blogging has mostly been a little ranty, so to balance the cosmic forces or something, here is a small list of things I like:

  • The fact that men over 60 continue to wear a shirt and tie every day. I need to be drugged to put on a shirt, let alone a tie; but somehow seeing these older gents dressed up makes me feel happier with the world.
  • Islands. I love islands, the smaller the better – there’s something inherently pleasurable to me knowing that I can walk the length and breadth of an island in one day. When I win the lottery I plan on buying one, nothing too showy, mind.
  • Talking bollocks nonsense. Sometimes when I’m just chatting with a very good friend of mine we just start talking absolute nonsense, but in such a way that it sounds like it should be perfectly clear. It is almost like a jazz riff, it achieves nothing but still is utterly entertaining.
  • Ceiling fans. I just can’t get enough.

July 24th, 2007

I’m surprised…

According to this quiz:

You know the Bible 82%!


Wow! You are truly a student of the Bible! Some of the questions were difficult, but they didn’t slow you down! You know the books, the characters, the events . . . Very impressive!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

And, as I have said before, I’m a hardcore atheist.

Nearly 20 years ago, after being goaded into it by some fundies I used to like arguing with, I read the Bible (King James version). Cover to cover.

It was the most grueling, uninteresting, unbelievable chore I have ever voluntarily endured. Some people see great poetry, some see the it as the ultimate form of the English language. I just found it to be an impenetrable mess of deliberately-obfuscated language designed to give the impression of great insight while in fact telling mediocre stories that a seven year old would find hard to swallow (much like Jonah’s fish).

Amazingly enough (indeed it surprised the fundies) I came out the other side as much of an atheist as I was before I started, if not slightly more contemptuous of those who actually believe that the guff presented as literally true.

I have also skimmed the Quran (like with the Bible, nothing there was remotely believable), and glanced at the Bhagavad Gita; as works of literary history they are valuable, but as works of history they are flawed at the very best.

Show me a quiz about football, however, and the score would be in single digits…

January 21st, 2007

Ears are weird things, sometimes

I reckon being ill as one of the great pleasures of lifeSamuel Butler

I don’t often get colds, my immune system seems to be quite good at fighting them off most of the time. Even when it fails to do so everything’s usually over with within 24 hours and I’m back to full strength.

However, whatever dread plague I picked up before Christmas has been determined to lay me low for the entire holiday.

The general feelings of crappiness and overabundance of phlegm are mostly over, however I’m suffering from a side-effect that’s both bothersome and strange.

My right Eustachian tube is blocked, and nothing I do will clear it. The one major attempt to clear it by holding my nose and blowing hard resulted in the sound like a rifle going off and the room spinning like the barn in The Wizard of Oz for a few minutes. Subsequent attempts merely make noises like a blocked drain – my hearing is still somewhat impaired but I do get to hear myself breathing, which is reassuring I suppose.

So, on a slightly lop-sided note, happy new year 2007, may your various tubes remain un-gunged.


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January 1st, 2007

No, I don’t recycle, thank you

It’s true, I really don’t recycle. It isn’t because I want the Earth to be turned into a wasteland for future generations, it is simply because it’s not economically viable.

Think about it for a second, it if really made economic sense to recycle, people would be paid to do so and big industry would be falling over themselves to do it without being forced to by governments.

This is already true for aluminium, which is significantly cheaper to recycle than digging out bauxite and producing from ore, it’s twenty times more efficient in fact. Which is why there has been an aluminium recycling system for decades.

Paper, on the other hand, is certainly less efficient. The waste paper has to be pulped, treated with chemicals to remove the ink (producing waste), not to mention being transported to the recycling plant in the first place. So what about saving trees? The majority of paper is produced from trees grown specifically for paper production, in sustainable forests, and the demand for paper increases the amount of trees planted in the first place. So by recycling paper you’re actually discouraging forests.

Add to this the requirements for more man-power to collect and sift through the waste (you don’t really think that they believe what people put in the specific recycling bins do you? Of course not, it all ends up being largely sorted by hand) plus the additional collections and it soon starts to look less and less compelling as a means to save the Earth.

Naturally, if I was a gardener I’d be composting organic waste for the garden, but again, the benefits of this have been widely known for decades so it’s hardly a new thing.

I view the current recycling fad being forced onto people by governments as a means of making people feel good about ‘helping the environment’, while in actuality it’s the large subsidies being offered for recycling schemes that’s pushing it. Ultimately, we’re all paying for this, either directly through our taxes or indirectly by giving our time to go through the efforts to put waste into the designated containers in the first place.

The green lobby will no-doubt excoriate me for my opinion, but, frankly, they should be concentrating their energies on areas that make more sense economically, as they will, in the long term, improve our lot much more.


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December 9th, 2006

I can see clearly now

A year ago today I had LASIK surgery correcting myopia (short sightedness) of around -3.8 in the left eye, and -3.5 in the right, as well as a mild astigmatism. One year down the line my vision is still clear, my right eye slightly sharper than the left, but I don’t need glasses for anything anymore – even such focus-critical tasks like photography.

Before the treatment I had several visits to the clinic to determine my suitability, which including having eye drops to dilate the eye, and having my corneal thickness measured with a probe (a very strange sensation indeed).

The procedure itself is unpleasant rather than painful, and over within 20 minutes or so. I decided against taking a mild sedative, and although it was at times hard work – trying to focus on a red dot when it was so out of focus it was the size of a beachball – the ophthalmic surgeon performing the treatment was very professional and I was kept informed during every step. One word of warning – if you can’t handle the smell of burning hair, this isn’t for you. 

I was driven home by a good friend and driven back the following day by another for the post-op review, looking a bit worse for wear with swollen eyes and a minor corneal scratch that didn’t bother me in the slightest. One all-clear later I was driven home as I still wasn’t able to pilot a car.

I suffered about a week of mild discomfort, with bright lights being a problem, as well has having to use eye drops regularly. Even so, I was legal to drive within two days, and one week later my vision seemed to be pretty much normal.

My pupils were on the border-line for being too large when fully dilated, which means I suffer from halos around bright lights at night, including street and car lights, but it have lessoned over the year and doesn’t pose a problem any more, or I’ve just learned not to notice it any more.

The one problem I suffered from the longest was dry eyes, for at least six months I carried around eye drops (meant for users of contact lenses) to moisten my eyes. Certain environments – smokey or air-conditioned for example – still cause my eyes to dry fairly rapidly, but I always keep some drops in my jacket in case I need them.

All in all, I view it as being a complete success – having worn glasses for 27 years before the surgery, I won’t say my life has transformed, but I will say that things like being able to wake up seeing clearly, sleep without having to remember to take off my specs and have a wide choice of sunglasses available have had nothing but a positive effect on my life.

If you’re thinking of getting LASIK treatment, I would give it a hearty recommendation, but go to a reputable clinic and get a second opinion from another, your eyes are precious and it’s a fairly major intrusion upon them.


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1 comment November 15th, 2006

New theme

I thought I’d try a new theme for the blog, so I’ve used Dark Blix with a change of the main graphic to a picture of a sunset I shot a few years ago using a Canon PowerShot G2, which harks back to my days when I was just getting back into photography.

Overall, I quite like it, so I think I’ll stick with it a while to see how it comes out in the wash.

PS, here’s a picture from the same shoot, I was going through a phase of photographing churches at the time and I recall it was a bitterly cold November in 2002 and it was blowing a gale. My fingers were quite numb so you’ll have to forgive my chopping the top off the picture, it was a tricky shot to get!

Nice light though, that’s the magic hour for you.

October 12th, 2006


When I got back into photography a few years ago I started to re-train myself from the point-n-shoot mentality and to actually think about what I was shooting. I spent quite some time learning framing, controlling light et al, to get the technical side of photography sorted out so I could concentrate on the creative side without really thinking.

Then, one day, I was firing test shots with a new lens, paying no attention to any of the above, just seeing how it handled. I was shooting through a dirty window, with the curtains in shot most of the time, you know, basically messing about.

And I got this shot.

Many people have told me they really like it, yet there was no thought to any of the technical matters, it was pure luck.

Ok, I did some post-processing, mainly to fix the framing to remove the shadow of the curtain from the right hand side and colour-correct it.

Since then, I've gotten a whole lot better technically, not to mention gotten better equipment, but I still like the shot even given it's completely serendipitous origins.

October 9th, 2006

Book buying orgy, oh my!

Sometimes I throw caution (and my bank balance) to the wind and buy a load of books in one hit, then work my way through them. They’re usually thematic; photography, technical etc. My last blow-out was on religious topics, specifically:

I did buy other books but I’ve not gotten round to reading them yet, the next on the list is The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, whom I’m a huge admirer of.

Some may wonder, why a self-professed militant atheist would be reading books about the history of religion, but it’s history I’m currently fascinated by, and the fact that certainly people actually take these stories as being literally true means that a little education on the topic is very helpful to me.

Maddeningly, it’s obvious to anyone with any degree of objectivity that these stories are as historically accurate as tales of Thor, Odin, Zeus, Mythras or Harry Potter. At least Harry Potter is more entertaining to read, and in most cases, more believable.

October 7th, 2006

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