Making the hand better

My hand was a lot better overnight, as in easier to sleep without being uncomfortable because of the bandages. But it’s still very bruised and sore today, and I’ve been spending some time massaging it firmly as the doctor advised, which just makes it feel more sore. But there’s definite improvements in strength and flexibility since yesterday, so that’s good. I can do almost anything I could before, except things that require significant left hand strength, such as opening difficult jars.

I made some Darths & Droids comics today, and converted another Sydney Walk photo essay into a web page, this one titled: Artarmon, Naremburn, St Leonards grunge.

In the mail today I received a small bicycle light which I bought to try attaching to Scully at night, so we can see her. It turns out that the light is way too bright. Your eyes adjust to the light and it’s not possible to see Scully herself at all. I might try covering the lights with tape to filter it down a bit.

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Stitches are out

I had my appointment this morning to inspect my healing hand and have the stitches out. I went to the hospital for 08:15 and was seen to after a short wait. First a hand physiotherapist saw me and removed the bandage. He checked the fingers for sensation and range of motion, and that the wound had closed properly.

Next a doctor saw me and inspected the wound. She determined the stitches could e taken out. She also told me to begin a program of massaging and exercising the hand as often as possible, to break up the scar tissues and adhesions and improve the range of movement. She said to massage it firmly, even though it hurts, as much as I can stand before it gets too painful.

I took this opportunity to ask her, “So, can I play the piano now?”

She said, “Yes.”

I said, “Great! I couldn’t play before.”

She completely ignored that and turned the conversation to something else. She may have been trying to suppress an eyeroll.

Now… sure, she’s a hand doctor, and she’s probably heard people attempt that joke a hundred or more times, but for me it’s (hopefully) the only chance I’ll ever get to use that joke in my whole life. The least she can do is politely pretend to laugh. Heck, if I was training hand doctors, reacting to that joke would be part of the bedside manner that they’d have to nail to pass their final exams.

After the doctor, a younger guy took over and removed the stitches carefully with tweezers and a scalpel. It was a bit tricky with a few of them, as the knot was embedded under a protruding fold of skin, but he got there in the end. It turned out I had a total of twelve stitches, not the ten that I’d heard stated on the day of the operation. He also gave me advice on how to massage the hand and stretch it to improve the mobility and strength over the next few weeks, advising again to do as much as possible within my pain threshold.

I was out of the hospital by just after 9 o’clock. To celebrate having the bandages off, I had a pie on the way home. 😄

At home, I worked on converting another of my Sydney photo walks to a web page, and this was a very long one. I also added a lot of historical research. This should be an interesting one because it illustrates the walk most of the way from where I live to the Sydney Opera House.

And I’ve also been studiously massaging my hand muscles to reduce the scar tissue. It hurts like hell when I’m doing it, and takes several minutes to calm down afterwards. But already I can see an improvement in the range of motion, so that’s positive. Now to keep it up for the next few weeks…

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Long weekend Monday

It always feels like a Sunday again when Monday is a public holiday. Sleep in a bit, got out for a bit, get nothing done.

I recently got a new expansion set for the board game Carcassonne, The Tower, and my wife and I wanted to try it out. We played a game yesterday, and I offered her a bit of tactical advice with the new tiles and rules, and she beat me 102 points to 99.

Today I didn’t help her so much, and she beat me 138-98! Here’s the game in progress:

Carcassonne + The Tower

And at the end, after we’d removed all our final scoring pieces:

Carcassonne + The Tower

Next time we play I’m not offering her any assistance at all!!

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Long weekend Sunday

It’s a long weekend here in Sydney! So tomorrow is a holiday Monday, but that means Sunday also feels special somehow, because you don’t have to get up early on Monday.

My wife and I did our usual morning long walk with Scully. We took a different route home, through some bushland, which we’ve been avoiding for the past few weeks because of COVID, and the large number of walkers out taking that route along narrow walking tracks. But today it felt like the right time to be ale to do it again, and it was nice.

I did more rewriting of photo walks to convert into web pages, completing walks 11. North Sydney and St Leonards Park and 12. Greenwich Baths. While researching historical details for the first one of those, I found out something amazing about St Mary’s Catholic Church in North Sydney. It looks like this:

St Mary's Catholic Church, North Sydney

St Mary's Catholic Church, North Sydney

Now, it looks like it’s built of sandstone, and I’d always assumed that was the case. But not quite!

There’s been a church on this site since 1855, when services were first held in a tent. The first church building was built in 1856 of wooden boards, supported by tree trunks, with an earthen floor. In 1868 a church was built of sandstone, which was then enlarged in 1896.

In 1938 they rebuilt the church, demolishing the old sandstone one, to create a larger church building. But they reused all of the sandstone blocks, the roofing slates, the marble interior decorations, and the stained glass. To make the new church bigger they built it of brick, and then they cut each sandstone block of the original stone church in half, and used the thinner stones as a veneer over the brick structure, to make it look as though it’s solid sandstone!

It’s amazing the stuff you can learn by researching local history.

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Winter walking

My wife had stuff to do this morning and asked me to take Scully on a nice long walk to keep her occupied. I walked down to Greenwich Baths – basically this walk that I did a photo essay on a few weeks ago, although with some extra pieces and a minor changes. It was chilly, as the weather has turned quite wintry here in the past week.

And I was surprised when we got to the baths to see an old lady, must have been in her 80s, getting ready to go swimming in the water of the harbour! As I watched, rugged up in my rugby jersey and a jacket over the top, she descended the ramp into the water and proceeded to swim laps. I’m don’t know how she even got in there, as the baths are fenced off and closed during the winter months – either she sneaked past the fence somehow, or she has some sort of secret way to get a key.

Back home, I worked on another photo essay, converting into a web page – a shortish one I did of a round I played at a local golf course. Maybe not as exciting as all the cool historical architecture I’ve bee learning about in the other walks I’ve been doing.

My wife is getting into cooking with me unable to do so (easily) because of my bandaged hand. Today she made pesto pasta with asparagus, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese for dinner, and it was really good. I should get her to cook more often! 😄

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Handy hand day

My bandaged hand gave me grief during the night, with some pain that kept me awake a bit. The thumb had become bruised looking and tender, and there were areas that felt a bit numb. It was a little bit concerning, and the fact that it’s my hand meant that I really didn’t want to risk not seeking medical attention if there was any possibility of something serious happening. And given that it was Friday and this coming weekend is a long weekend with a public holiday on Monday, I didn’t want to have to end up in emergency on the weekend rather than the hand clinic (which keeps more normal hours).

So I phoned the hand clinic and described what was happening, and asked if this was normal and nothing to worry about, or if it was potentially a problem. The doctor there asked me to come into the hospital so they could have a look. I went in, and after a short wait (maybe 20 minutes), a doctor examined my hand, removing the bandage and inspecting the stitches and the bruising around the hand. He said it looked to be healing normally and the hand looked fine, with no infections. He said the bruising was to be expected, and prodded various parts of my thumb to check the numbness. He said it was localised to an area that was not concerning, and may have been caused by the tightness of the bandage pressing on a nerve, which matches my experience with the bandage pressing a little painfully on the inside of the base of the thumb.

A nurse then cleaned and rebandaged my hand, with a lighter dressing that isn’t quite as tight, so I now have a bit more movement. It feels much better than the old one. So all seems good! I still have my appointment on Tuesday to have the stitches removed.

This evening I’m playing my fortnightly board games night with my friends, in our current COVID-safe online mode. We’ve played some games of Dice Forge, Seven Wonders, and now Kingdomino.

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Fish & chips!

My wife surprised me today by suggesting that after her morning shift of work-from-home we go out together and get some fish and chips for lunch, from the shop 10 minutes walk away that I go to occasionally. We took Scully and made a family outing of it. We bought some delicious fried food and went out to the lookout overlooking Sydney Harbour where I like to eat, and enjoyed a lunch together under a chill but bright blue winter sky, while Scully ran around on the grass, free of her leash.

It was lovely, and delicious.

I made some comics today, and uploaded a large batch of photos to convert into a web page write up of one of my recent Sydney walks, now visible on this page. I did a lot of research on the various historical buildings I’d photographed, and found a fascinating history for one of them, involving threats of demolition, counter-threats of heritage protection to make demolition illegal, and a lawsuit to settle the usage of the property. It’s amazing how little you know about places that you walk past frequently, until you do some research and learn how amazing it is.

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Blurry days

The last several days are starting to blur together in a melange of restricted left hand mobility, taking Scully for walks, and mostly working on Darths & Droids. We’ve done a lot of story planning in the past week, and I’ve written thousands of words of notes. Today I switched to actually writing scripts for comics and assembling comics, which are needed for the next week or so of publication.

I also spent a bit of time updating one of the old Sydney walks I did with a couple of new photos of an historical building. I only learnt about this building while doing research for the photos that I had taken earlier, and I decided I had to go back and find it and get some photos. It’s an old stable that was part of a 19th century estate – you can read the history and see the photos here (scroll down near the bottom for the “Valetta” stables).

Valetta stables, Artarmon

My hand has been giving me some pain today, and last night while trying to sleep. I keep trying to do little tasks using my left hand, and end up with some sort of muscle twitch that aches for a while. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have full movement or strength in it yet.

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Winter chill

Winter hit with full force today. It was rainy early in the morning, and a cold air mass had come in overnight, so it was really cold today. I had to put a jacket on to take Scully out for some morning exercise, and I’m glad I did.

The past few days have been much the same stuff for me. I’ve been writing up a lot of story planning notes for Darths & Droids, and working on sorting through my photos database. Which I’ve been mentioning a lot, so it’s kind of boring to go into it again.

So for something new, a few days ago when I was lamenting to friends how difficult it is to get the good bits out of a pomegranate, one of them pointed me at this article about a machine that uses a computer vision system to separate pomegranate seeds from the pith. While this seems like an acceptable use of computing technology to make our lives easier, I wonder where it may lead…

In three years, Cyberdyne will become the largest supplier of pomegranate aril separating systems. All fruit processing plants are upgraded with Cyberdyne computers, becoming fully unmanned. Afterwards, they separate pomegranates with a perfect operational record. The Pomegran-Net Funding Bill is passed. The system goes online on August 4th, 2027. Human decisions are removed from fruit processing. Pomegran-Net begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 AM, Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug.

One of the processing robots is called the Term-granate-r. Played by Aril’d Schwarzenegger.

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Photographic archaeology

Monday! Today I discovered an old folder full of animal photos from a visit to the zoo back in 2009, and it had a bunch of photos of birds that I hadn’t recorded in my bird photos database. So to scratch the itch of completionism, I ended up spending much of the day processing the bird photos I hadn’t done before, posting them on Flickr, identifying the species, and doing some coding work to make it easier to enter them into my database.

Nicobar pigeon

I also went for another longish walk, and along the way I passed an electronics shop, so I went in to buy some parts to make a small LED light to attach to Scully’s collar when going out for walks at night. Because she’s black, and some of the streets around us a dimly lit, it’s almost impossible to see her in some places where we walk after sunset, which is much more often in winter than in summer. There are commercial dog lights you can buy, but most are too bulky and heavy for Scully. I bought s smaller one last year, but it was so badly constructed that it fell to pieces the first time I tried to turn it on! I returned it for a refund.

Anyway, I figured I could make one myself, so with a bit of assistance at the electronics shop I got a selection of LEDs of different brightness, some resistors, a battery holder for a CR2032 button battery, one of those batteries, and a micro PCB switch. I’ll borrow a soldering iron off one of my friends and make myself a super-light and cheap light to attach to Scully.

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