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Wednesday, 31 January 2007

Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!

So last night at about 23:30 I had this sore feeling in my lower tummy. At first I thought it was just how my laptop was sitting on me and poking into my abdomen. If only.

The pain quickly became excruciating, as if I were being stabbed in back in the kidney area, and the most unbearable spikes the knife being twisted. So around 01:30, with no end in site and the brief respites really only five to ten minutes of slightly less excruciatingness, I called a cab to haul my butt downtown to Cambridge Memorial Hospital.

To cut a long story short, after several shots of morphine and a CT scan of my lower torso, I found out that I have a nice 2.9mm kidney stone working it's way from my right kidney, down the ureter and into the bladder. According to both emerg docs (I was there from about 01:45 to 10:15, across two shifts) and the nurses, that is the painful part.

Thank God! I am no stranger to pain, having had morphine a few times in the past for severe abdominal distress, ultimately related to the intussusception I suffered at age ten. This, however, has got to be the absolute worst physical pain I have ever experienced.

So just before I was discharged they gave me a final shot of morphine, a scrip a whole bunch of medications and the doctor showed me the picture series of my CT. And now I am going to bed since I have been up for a little over 27 hours. :-)

Thursday, 18 January 2007

A Canticle for Leibowitz by William M. Miller Jr.

This is a good book and, in spite of the fact that it was written in the late 50s it does not come across as out of place. I'm sure you've read that sci-fi book from decades ago that has the characters talk in awe about a closet-sized computer that is light years in advance of the typical room-sized, vacuum-tubed behemoth. That's typical of “hard” sci-fi which is almost as much driven by describing the science as it is by the plot.

Canticle is more character-driven. In each of it's three sections it focuses on a specific individual and tells the story from their perspective, albeit in third person style. It's much more of a literary sci-fi and, as such, more suitable to the non-geeky. If there's somebody whom you're trying to get to read sci-fi but they're resisting, thinking that sci-fi is still the crappy pulp fiction stuff from the 50s and 60s, give them this book. They'll like it (and understand it!) a lot better than they would something outré like cyberpunk.

I give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Kirlian Quest by Piers Anthonly

The third novel of the Cluster series, it is still readable by itself without demanding that one has read the previous two. It takes place two thousand years after the first novel and one thousand after the second.

While I liked the novel, I do find the biologies of some of the various alien species to be a bit hard to believe and occasionally this would “bump me out” if the willing suspension of disbelief required for most science fiction stories. Like many of Anthony's novels there is a lot of exposition that goes on inside the primary character's head and at points the plot can go very slowly.

I've never thought that Anthony was a fully A-list writer like Asimov, Niven or Gibson, but neither have I considered him a hack like so many others do. He can be a trifle formulaic but I have enjoyed virtually all of his books that I have read.

I give this book 3.25 out of 5 stars.