Friday, April 23, 2010

What To Expect After Total Hip Replacement

I see a lot of articles and forum posts that either try to set expectations for after THR surgery, or ask questions about what to expect. There are no correct answers, so i hope to provide one more data point. My facts:
  • I had my surgery at the age of 46.
  • I was very active until about a year prior to my surgery (marathon runner, black belt)
  • Mine was a left total hip replacement necessitated by osteoarthritis.
  • I had a posterior surgical procedure. My procedure was also "cement-less".
  • My new hip is a Stryker model with ceramic surfaces.
  • My surgery was on Monday afternoon, and i went home on Tuesday evening.
  • My first time standing was the morning after my surgery. I walked three times with a walker on that day.
  • I used a walker for the first week and a half after my surgery, and then i switched to a cane.
  • I had at-home physical therapy for the first two weeks.
  • I had to self-inject blood thinners for three weeks after my surgery. This sucks.
  • I started driving about 2 weeks after the surgery.
  • I returned to work after 2 weeks at home.
  • At 4 weeks i could walk without a cane.
  • I had outpatient physical therapy from 2-6 weeks (twice a week).
  • At 6 weeks i started riding my bike trainer.
  • At 10 weeks i started doing tai chi again. My left leg is still weak at this point, but not painful.
I'm at about 11 weeks now. For the last two weekends i've ridden my bike on the road, for almost 2 hours the last time. I can walk for about an hour, but i get some pain around my incision near the end of that.

Should you come across this via search engine or something, don't hesitate to ask questions.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Beat

Went to see The English Beat yesterday at a place called the Canyon Club in Agora Hills, north of LA. It was primarily a party for my sister-in-law's 40th birthday, and to a lesser extent, my son's 16th birthday.

The English Beat (originally The Beat) is (are?) one of my favorite bands from my college years. Maybe a half-dozen of their songs are classics, and Save It For Later is one of my favorite songs (they also did a few General Public songs). The band still sounds great, and they are awesome live. They don't really have new material, so their show is a recap of their catalog from the 80s for the most part.

It was an all-ages show, so my kids and a few others were there, but most of the crowd was the band's original fans, which is to say, middle aged white people. I'm sure most of them were having fun, but as is my nature, i found the depressing essence at the core of it. For example, i learned that there is a uniform for middle-aged guys, which consists of "relaxed" jeans and a collared shirt worn un-tucked (except for the requisite dumb-ass wannabe hipsters with the soul-patches and black jackets). This outfit delivers the message "I am still cool, but i am also 25 pounds overweight". Sadly, i fit in a bit too well.

My wife hit the dance floor to hang with her sister, so i spent my time primarily keeping an eye on the kids, particularly Henry who was going back and forth into the crowd, and my older son's girlfriend Erin, for whom i felt particular responsibility among a crowd of hundreds of drunk adults. The club was a bit warm and i had too many layers on, so i spent much of the last hour of the set outside with the smokers. I got to look around the strip mall in which the club sits, and its odd juxtaposition of nightclubs and antique shops. Although, i guess it's not really that strange of a contrast in this case, since the band is effectively an antique.

It was a good show, but nostalgia is not my thing. Being reminded of a time when i was young and hopeful and had all my original parts doesn't appeal to me that much (it's probably significant also that on my own 40th birthday i did a two-day solo bike ride). If i had to repeat something, i'd much rather go see the Aquabats with my son and his friends again.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Asymmetry of Trust

Trust is asymmetric in many ways. For example, to trust is not to be trusted. Also it takes many examples of demonstrated reliability to develop trust, but only one instance of unreliability to break it. There's another more subtle form of asymmetry though.

Suppose that someone takes your lunch at work. If you approach a person you trust and you ask "Did you take my lunch", you have an expectation that the person will tell the truth. Whether they say yes or no, you believe their answer (although "yes" might piss you off or make you trust them less). On the other hand, if you approach someone you don't trust, while you might have an expectation that they will lie to you, you would probably accept a "yes" answer as truthful. In other words, while you have a low expectation of a "yes" answer in both cases, you are about as likely to believe this answer from either a trusted or untrusted party, whereas a "no" answer would only seem trustworthy from the trusted party.

I'm not sure if this is already a well-understood phenomenon in decision theory or game theory. It would probably be expressible in terms of prior and posterior probabilities in a Bayesian sense. The prior probability favors a true answer for the trusted party and a false answer for the untrusted party (there's a probability p of a "true" answer and a probability 1-p of a "false" answer). Given a "yes" answer the posterior probability changes in favor of true for the untrusted party, but not for the trusted party.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

10 Most Influential Books

There's a meme floating around about listing the 10 most influential books on a personal level (rather than in a historical sense). Nobody asked me to, but i made my list anyway.

Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien

Kind of a cliche, but like many people i found LotR very comforting during my high school years when i felt like a bit of a freak. I even had a "I'd rather be a hobbit" t-shirt.

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky

I read this the first time when i was 18 and i was spending the summer with my grandparents in Tucson. There's nowhere in the world less like St. Petersburg than the Sonoran desert, but for some reason the oppressive heat in my grandparent's double-wide mobile home seemed appropriate to the story. I read it again in college while studying Russian literature, after i had learned some Russian and i had visited St. Petersburg (Leningrad). I'm not sure i would have done either of those things had i not read the book.

The Making of the Atomic Bomb -Richard Rhodes

I probably could not name my favorite work of fiction, but this is easily my favorite work of non-fiction. It's an amazing story, amazingly told, of events that profoundly affected the course of events during my lifetime and history in general. This book had an interesting effect on my personal politics. On one hand there's an inspiring story of science and engineering and how the virtually impossible can be accomplished with will and money; and on the other hand is a great cautionary tale about how Pandora's box can be pried open with enough will and money.

The Moviegoer - Walker Percy

I read this book originally as part of a college English class. I don't think there is any other book that i have spent so much time thinking about. I still think occasionally in terms that i learned from the book (like "vertical search" vs. "horizontal search"). This book made me seek out (and become a fan of) The Third Man because of the "kitten and the carbine" section.

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting - Milan Kundera

I also read this in college. Blew my freakin' mind. Completely changed my idea of what fiction can be. It's hard to say "this book is about such and such" since it's not just some thinly-veiled political allegory. It's not even really a narrative so much as a sort of exploration, like many impressions of the same place and time that build to a single effect.

1984 - George Orwell

I read this in high school and it quite literally scared me. At that time, people of my age and culture would equate Big Brother with the totalitarian Soviet Union. My thinking about that has grown more sophisticated over the years (i presume), but after visiting the Soviet Union, i still had that in the back of my mind. No book has had more influence on my political beliefs, or at least my attitude about privacy and personal freedom. I once read a criticism of 1984 by Isaac Asimov in which he stated that it was overrated because Orwell had so badly predicted the mileu of future times (in other words, it was bad science fiction). On the contrary, what scares me about this book is its plausibility. Today, 25 years after Orwell's setting, it feels more possible than ever.

The Republic - Plato

I think these lists are supposed to be filled with profound works of philosophy that change lives and minds. This is clearly one of the great works of history and it did definitely make me think differently about certain things. But the notable thing about this book is how readable it is, even in translation. With a few exceptions, the topics still seem relevant and it's possible to imagine having a serious conversation about them with a few smart friends. This book really drew me to read other classics and look for similar connections between my time and ancient times.

The Bible

This might seem odd here if you know my personal beliefs, but again this is about the books that had the most influence on my life. When i was growing up we'd go to church and there would be "Bible readings", passages from the Old and New Testament that would often form the basis of the day's sermon. Similarly, in my Lutheran school we'd have "devotions" built around a few verses. One summer I said to myself "you know, i should really read this thing", so i sat down with the revised standard version that my grandmother gave me for confirmation and i began to read from beginning to end. Soon i realized why we never did that in church and school. Wow. If you read the Bible in it's entirety, and you really absorb what it's saying, there are really only two possible outcomes: zealot or atheist. Still not quite sure which i'll become.

The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen

I read Matthiessen's Wildlife In America not long before this (it would be 11 on this list), and it was so eye-opening that i read everything Matthiessen has published. The Snow Leopard is ostensibly a recapitulation of Matthiessen and George Schaller looking for snow leopards in the Himalayas. So it may seem strange for me to say that this is the best book i've ever read about Eastern philosophy. I don't know that a book can be spiritually enlightening in the way that personal experience is, but this about as close as any has come for me.

History of Western Philosophy - Bertrand Russel

It might sound glib to say that this is one of the funniest books i've ever read. I still remember laughing at Russel's description of Spinoza:
Spinoza (1634–77) is the noblest and most lovable of the great philosophers. Intellectually, some have surpassed him, but ethically he is supreme. As a natural consequence, he was considered, during his lifetime and for a century after his death, a man of appalling wickedness
Opinions vary radically on how good of a book this really is, but it made me seek out the full works of these philosophers, so it served a great purpose.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Rocky Votolato

My latest musical obsession is the singer-songwriter Rocky Votolato. My favorite song of his so far is Maker's, which i believe refers to Maker's Mark, a brand of bourbon. Here's a youtube video with the audio of the song:

His songs inhabit that happy land between melancholy and desperation, which for some reason appeals to me. Makers has one of the best choruses ever, both lyrically and musically:
The bones inside your mind where all broken
The keys that opened any answers were all stolen
Filling and refilling up the glass with makers
We both agreed
The Final Moment!
The sweetest remedy to ever be delivered!
Heaven or heavenless we're all headed for the same sweet darkness