17 December 2016

celebratory hmph

Ahoy, mateys! Let's embark upon yet another fairly vacuous update voyage.

Medically, things are looking great! After, ugh, five whole years of this surgically-induced bedtime, my wounds are about 95% healed. I've been able to get up in the chair on weekends (thanks for the inspiration, mr. controller), and I'm pondering the risk/reward balance of doing so more than just once or twice a week. It's a bit of an adjustment - I've become rather complacent in tolerating the bummer that is 24-hour bed rest, which means "normal" getting-upness at least feels like a lot more tedious work. But oh, what a dream an actual shower would be... Anyway, I look forward to the readjusting party, because chair time is freedom!

Also, could it be: did I really make it through all of 2016 without a single trip to the hospital???

Elsewhere? Yeah, about the rest of life. This year sucks, and I've done essentially nothing with my time. But hey, enough optimism... I got a new computer! On top of that, I used it as an excuse to get a new TV, tee hee hee. My new laptop-in-name-only is proof that if you spend enough dough, you can get a feature that should be an option on all lapsters. That's right: I have a matte screen again! You may recall that I made a big deal about having my first glossy display way back when, trying feebly to cast it in a positive light (zut alors, I used to write so much better.) Since the days of that dinosaur, I've been through another machine that had an even more egregious offender of a pixel placard. There was no pretense of "antiglare" on that one - with a dark desktop background, I could read the tag on the curtains behind me. Ick. Now, well, I suppose I'm oblivious to my horrible posture, but at least movies and games don't have a haunting aura of my ugly mug lurking in the background (rather, foreground, honestly) of every dark scene.

Oh, right, it has processy bits too, but that's not as amusing!

Hmmm... What else? I know - I'm desperately in need of a new music adventure. I can only buy so many albums from my (fortunately prolific) go-to favorites before I reach the saturation point, at which I realize that I already own all of the good ones. So if you've got something/someone to push on me - the weirder the better - now's your chance to take over my speakers. Pretty please, indulge me. I might even offer my own recommendation oddities in return.

Okay, let's call time and hand in. Happy end-of-this-miserable-stupid-year, pals.

23 October 2016


joyeux anniversaire

(hers, not mine)

30 July 2016

pushing the right button

Well hello there! Sit down and hold on to something solid - I've actually sort of done something. [Post-edit: also steel yourself for some Jenga-level sentence constructions.]

Secured? Okay. I've been getting up in the chair some. It hasn't been very much, just for a few hours at a time on Saturdays and/or Sundays. But it's a start! Just the first day that I got up was more time spent donating to chairity than I'd accumulated over the past 9/2 years. Of course, it's generally too cold in the rest of the house, and my power chair battery doesn't hold enough charge for me to go anywhere, so all I really do is sit around in my room instead of lying around in my room... Wheee!

Well, that's a bit of a lie. Using the "carrot" motivational approach, I did lure myself out of bed. I've been known to take occasional pleasure in diversions of the interactive digital variety, but as I've boo-hooed before, I'm mostly stuck playing meticulous talky-talk RPGs or myriad variations of glorified Risk or chess (sorry, Civ and XCOM, I'm throwing you under the bus again.) Not anymore! Thanks to the lovely folks at Broadened Horizons, I have traded most of my net worth and an undisclosed portion of my soul for a game controller I can sort of operate. That, mes amis, is a good reason to get up.

Uploads are misbehaving, so here's a picture of one of their controllers that's pretty similar to mine. It's a so-so apropos BroHo photo.

At first glance, it looks like the controls ripped out of an (admittedly complicated) arcade cabinet; a "fight stick" with enough buttons and sticks to completely replicate the inputs of an Xbox/PlayStation controller. (They're isomorphic!) It's split into halves, which lets me play some simpler casual games while in bed (one half on each side of the laptop monstrosity), but anything more complicated than run-and-jump needs to be played seated upright for maximum whackability. That's partially why I got it, after all!

The large, whack-friendly layout alone lets me fumble through some games, but there's more to it than that. On the back panel of one of the halves, there are quite a few ports to connect various external triggers, including some standard 3.5mm (headphone-style) switch jacks, a couple of connections for extra analog joysticks, and a little nozzle to connect tubing for sip/puff functions.

Quick note: If you're not familiar, sip/puff switches are a pretty standard accessibility control method. It's just some tubing connected to some sort of pressure-sensitive activator. You use the tubing like a straw to change the air pressure and trigger the activator - inhale (sip) or exhale (puff). I had one of these to call the nurse and operate the ECU while I was in inpatient rehab post-injury at the RISL. It's a closed system, so you don't have to keep inhaling/exhaling to keep it activated; if you want, you can trigger it and then just put your tongue on the end to maintain the reduced/increased air pressure. Don't worry, you weren't sharing the mouthpiece... I hope...

I use the controller mostly as-is, only adding one orally-activated control. At first I tried using a simple bite switch - chomp to activate - for whatever a game's most pressing (ha) function may be: think "jump" for a platformer, "shoot" for a, uh, shooter, or "gas pedal" for a racing game. That worked great for a solid, oh, three weeks or so before I started feeling that slight tingling sensation of electricity on my tongue (come on, you've all licked a 9-volt before), and I realized that I had turned the bite switch into a nonfunctional electronic snack. Oops! So I replaced that with a sip/puff apparatus, which has the added bonus of granting me two mouth-operated functions (inhale and exhale) instead of one. It's not quite perfect - I can't seem to sip and puff simultaneously, for some strange reason - but it means I can play a surprisingly large number of games with just the left stick and sip/puff.

On top of that, all of the buttons can be reassigned on the fly without external software, and with the necessary cables, adapters, and other requisite gizmos, it'll work with PC, PS2/3/4, and Xbox 360/One (plus a few others, but those are the highlights). It's occasionally a little fiddly to get it to work on PC; not all games recognize it as a controller. However, you can map keyboard and mouse functions to the controller with Joy2Key or Xpadder and trick games that way if necessary. That's how I fumble through Payday 2 - with the dual sip/puff actions, I can even fix those stupid drills. Seriously, millions of dollars of heistybucks, but we can only afford equipment with a 100% failure rate?

So there you go. I'm sooo productive. But hey, it gets me up in the chair.

Is it worth it? I can work it. (push the prog button, flip keys and reverse sticks)

08 May 2016


Well. It's Mother's Day today. Does it mean anything anymore? Just another opportunity to rip open the wound?

The worst part of all this - well, obviously not quite the worst - is that it's essentially routine now. Would there be a funeral? We'll just do like we did with Tim. Let's have a party - that went well the last time. Ugh.

26 March 2016

the dearthsleys

Ahoy! Just here for a quick check-in. Health-wise, there's not a lot new; my surgery wounds are (slowly) cleaning up quite well, and nothing has gone horribly wrong since the last hospital stay. Hooray? I started up with a new PCA a few weeks ago, and the extra set of arms will, ahem, come in handy in the near future - the main thing keeping me out of my chair at the moment is the risk of tearing fragile skin areas open again, but with two muscular volk available, I can transfer bed <-> chair without dragging out the Hoyer lift. It doesn't mean shower time yet, unfortunately, but it's a start! After all, I have 4+ years of accumulated stray junk just begging to be knocked over.

Elsewhere, does anyone have any good bizarro music recommendations to offer? I've been in a rut of near-silence since I got back from the hospital in December, but major slacking has been going on in the tunes department for longer than that - I can't even remember when I last acquired a CD. If I tried to redo/update my musical experiment from March 2009 (zut alors, seven years ago!), it would be depressingly boring, monotonous, and most of all, empty. I guess my main bands are getting older and not releasing much, but I've been too lazy/uninspired to latch onto anyone new. I have at least been cranking through some audiobooks while (not) falling asleep - that's what happens when your sleep meds are changed after a decade of efficacy - but it's no replacement for a few rock solid albums.

Hmmm... Yes, must check for any new releases. Step zero: transcend inherent laziness. That's the trick to just about everything though, non? Paz afuera, home fries.