Has it really been 30 years?

This ¬†year is 30 years since high school. Hard to believe it’s already been 10 ¬†years since my 20 year high school reunion.

The last time I saw anyone I went to high school with was at the reunion, but thanks to Facebook I can see what some of them are up to these days.

It’s unlikely I’ll be able to make it back home this year if there ends up being a 30 year reunion thing going on. I hope that if something happens, everybody has a good time and posts pictures of the festivities.

One last visit

Stopped at my local Radio Shack again to see if it was still open and much to my surprise, it was, although today was the last day.

There wasn’t much left in the way of components, but I still found a few more things to pick up. Hard to turn things down when they’re marked down 90%. A few packs of 1/8 W resistors, 3 packs of terminal strips, 4 spools of speaker wire, some RF chokes and 4 PIR sensors.

Radio Shack haul part 1
Radio Shack haul part 1

After a bit of hemming and hawing over whether I should go back for more (didn’t want to seem greedy or anything), I headed back for round 3. At some point, someone else had stopped there and bought out the rest of the resistors, so I settled on (nearly) cleaning out the capacitors. I’m already pretty stocked up on resistors from the first trip anyway. Also picked up the rest of the heat sinks, IC sockets and a couple of telescoping antennas.

Radio Shack haul part 2
Radio Shack haul part 2

I probably could have grabbed a few more things, but they weren’t things that I would have easily found a use for.

Now to start setting things up so I can build things…

Little black spots

On the sun today

Sun 20170329
Sunspots on the Sun 20170329

Still working on getting the hang of getting pictures of the sun with my little solar telescope. A little blurry, but a couple of sunspot groups can be seen pretty easily. At first I thought they were specks of dirt or dust on the telescope optics, but a check of spaceweather.com showed there were indeed two groups of sunspots (2644 and 2645) on the surface of the sun.

Used the little Barlow lens with the camera adapter for this shot. Gives a larger image of the sun but not quite as bright, and the smaller FOV means spending more time hunting for the sun.

Recovering from surgery

Everything seems to have gone well with the back surgery to remove the bits of the L5/S1 disc that squished out. Checked in to the hospital just before noon yesterday, and was home by about 5:30 that afternoon. The actual surgery only took about an hour (so I’m told) so most of the time was waiting, getting prepped and then recovery in the PACU.

Pain from the surgery site has been pretty minimal (~5 cm incision site in the middle of my lower back). No staples or stitches that need to be removed later, so all I need to do is rest and let everything heal up.

The leg is feeling better with less weakness and numbness. I imagine that will improve even more as the nerves recover.

Off work for the next week and a half for recovery. Planning to use that time to catch up on some reading, do some more work on my equipment tracking application, and binge on some Netflix.

Fixing the back

The sciatica problem from last month resolved itself fairly quickly with a course of steroids and plenty of ibuprofen and I haven’t had any problems with pain since then.

Unfortunately, some leg weakness and tingling/numbness lingered on afterwards. Nothing bad enough to seriously affect my day to day activities, but abnormal and annoying.

I was able to get an MRI a couple weeks later which showed a ruptured L5/S1 disc (“Well, there’s your problem right there!”). The displaced disc material (circled in red) is pretty easy to see on the sagittal images

Sagittal MRI of Mah spine
Sagittal MRI of Mah spine

The axial image shows how the blob of disc material is pressing up against the nerves (where the left end of the red line is pointing).

Axial MRI
Axial MRI

The weakness and numbness hadn’t resolved by then, so that got me an appointment with a neurosurgeon today (four weeks later) who told me that because of the disc material pressing against the nerve, my symptoms weren’t going to get much better and that I was going to need surgery to remove the chunk of disc material.

If everything goes smoothly with the insurance approval process, I’ll be having that surgery about the middle of next week. Should be a pretty simple procedure he said and that I should be in and out with no problems. A week or so for recuperation and I should be good as new (until more disc material decides to ooze out).