Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Carticel @ 8 months

I had my 8-month post-surgery check-in with my carticel knee doc yesterday and got a very positive review.

First, here's a recap of where I am @8 months: after Carticel implantation for a defective femoral condyle last summer, I am fully mobile, with roughly equal strength in both my "good" and "recovering" knees. Knee pain has been minimal, and typically only after prolonged effort, although I have occasionally had sharp pain when torquing or turning my knee. Walking straight and climbing stairs are completely without issue for me, though my walking gait is not totally back to normal.

(Here's my prior Carticel patient blog entries, from oldest to newest:

For the last ~2 months I have been doing my own exercise and PT after completing formal PT. I have been wearing a short unloader brace on my recovering knee for short periods on strenuous days and during all physical activity (e.g. biking, PT.) Exercise has been limited to no-impact activities (elliptical trainer, stationary cycling, swimming, etc) though on warm days this winter I have cycled outside, racking up ~140 miles over ~10 rides. Doctor's order were to limit biking to routes that do not require me to 'stand up' on the pedals, so I have minimized hills - not an easy task when you live at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. My longest ride is ~1:30, though around 1:15 I start to "feel it" in my knee.

Doc update:

I passed each knee test with flying colors - the doc reported knee flexion at 145 degrees, and he was very happy with the tested strength of the knee. I was asked to squat and also to lightly jump with my feet shoulder width apart. Doctor Z reported mild surprise at how well I managed both tasks. (These were both things things that I hadn't tried since surgery 8 months ago, and my initial (internal) reaction when asked to squat was "are you sure that's a good idea?")

I mentioned my (minimal) knee pain and knee tenderness (especially after prolonged activity, like biking for 1:30). Doc reported that this is normal - the new tissue in my knee is only 8 months old, and the analogy he used was that in the case of newborns, new tissue doesn't handle full weight stress until 9-12 months after birth. (i.e. when the baby starts walking.)

My guidance going forward is basically a continuance of existing guidance: continue with no- and low-impact exercise (biking, swimming, etc.), though I can now restrict brace wear to only those times when there is an obvious need for care. (In other words, I do not have to wear the brace while biking, but I should put it on if I know that I will be spending time walking over uneven ground, such as a walk in the Blue Ridge.)

I'll see the Doc again in 4 months, at which time I will probably (possibly?) be permitted to do some light running and other physical activities involving turns.

So, I'd say this sums to "so far, so good!"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Doing it again! (iPad arbitrage)

About this time last year I caved and bought an iPad. I had resisted, thinking that it was just a giant iPhone, and not necessary since I already had a MacBook Pro for mobile computing. I was totally wrong - the iPad is fantastic, and I am sorry that I did not get one sooner.

Because of my caution last year, I decided to buy a used 1st generation iPad just after iPad 2 was announced. I got a great deal from an early adopter who wanted to sell her 1st generation iPad to make room for an iPad 2. (I paid either $200 or $220.)

Word is that the iPad 3 is coming soon, so I began looking at the aftermarket for iPads. To my amazement, original iPads are still in demand and the market is generally ignorant of the imminent arrival of iPad 3.

I have a Craigslist advert up for my original iPad, and I expect to reap ~$275 for it (for a profit of $55 to $75!) I haven't decided yet whether to use the proceeds for a new iPad 3 or a used iPad 2. I expect, though, that iPad 2 aftermarket prices (~$350-$400) will fall by nearly half after the release of iPad 3. I might just rollover my sale proceeds into an iPad 2 and see if I can make a similar profit this time next year!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

What if football disappeared?

Tyler Cowen is an economist and publisher of the blog Marginal Revolution (tag line: "small steps to a much better world.") I read and follow Cowen not just because of his economics-driven insights and analysis, but also because he'll apply his thinking to surprising areas.

(Oh, and he's got excellent taste in food.)

Cowen (with co-writer Kevin Grier) regularly apply their thinking to sports at Grantland. In their most recent installment, Cowen & Grier propose a future where (American) football falls out of favor. (Hint: economic productivity might skyrocket.)

It's an intriguing thought, and jibes with what I've been wondering for years - who in the world would ever encourage their kid to play at a high level a sport notorious for intense and permanent physical and mental damage?

(Never mind that playing at that high level likely requires adopting a freakish physique and adopting a violent mindset where to be your best you have to accept maximum physical risk and celebrate imposing maximum physical violence on your opponent.)

Growing up, my parents forbade me from playing tackle football for all of these reasons. I didn't see the wisdom at the time, but seeing the toll that football can take on your head, heart, or joints really makes me appreciate my parents' decision. Seeing how violence on the football field has increased since my youth makes me wonder who would encourage playing the sport.

Strangely, though, I am a football fan and hold season tickets for my local team. My fanhood, though, has probably more to do with deep-seated allegiances (school, hometown).

I share Cowen and Grier's wonder at how long football may stay on top of fan interest. We already regularly see players permanently paralyzed during games, yet football popularity has never been higher. Will it take an on-field death to change opinion?

Friday, February 03, 2012

What do the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, SOPA, and Bank of America have in common?

Not taking a side in the current Planned Parenthood/Susan G. Komen Foundation kerfuffle, but instead reflecting on the trend of internet popular opinion rallying to steamroll somebody's newly unpopular initiatives.

Bank of America announced a monthly $5 debit card fee, but withdrew the idea once popular opinion roared in protest.

Likewise, SOPA & PIPA were on the fast-track for congressional approval until popular protest took off.

Now Komen has announced a policy change that has rallied fans of Planned Parenthood. I'm seeing a lot of counter protest on Facebook, and I won't be surprised if Komen reverses themselves or otherwise makes a concession.

So what's going on here?

The internet changed the calculus for each of the sponsors of change. The internet concentrates and amplifies popular opinion, and in some cases places activist action or retaliatory action an easy mouse click.

But for years political activists have generated grass roots (or sometimes astro-turf) campaigns, which means that either the internet has brought about a change in the magnitude of grass roots response or the sponsors are reacting differently (overreacting?)

My guess is that the latter is true - these recent protests are louder and more intense than previously experienced, but their duration is unknown, as the sponsors (BofA, etc.) have caved quickly. I think we will see more of the same until either some group answers popular protest with a certain "no," or rallies counter-protests online. I think, though, that the bias in popular opinion is against new initiatives, so I expect to see many more successful online protests - generally a good thing, except for public policy, which equates to mob rule.

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
Click to go to my online photography

World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous