Monthly Archives: December 2009

Help me build a clock

So last night at about 3AM I had a stroke of brilliance exhausted delirium and I made a funny little clock. Well, I shouldn’t say “little” because it’s 1200 pixels wide, so don’t download it if you don’t have a high res screen. It simulates a 7-bar LED with hours, minutes, and seconds, but instead of turning LED lights on and off, it makes the numbers out of scrollbars, and jiggles the “on” scrollbars aggressively. It’s rather difficult to read, but sort of funny. If you’d like, click the picture to download the program.


Anyway, I’m really enjoying doing some more programming lately, and I thought it would be fun to write a nice alarm clock application with various IRL and online friends. So on that note, I’m seeking clock designs! It could be anything from a concept, to a handdrawn clock, to something like the TokyoFlash watches, or anything else, and anything from simple time-keeper to full alarm clock with any implementation that strikes your fancy. If you’re interested, email me your idea and any artwork it needs (unless you need me to draw it), and if you want me to include a credit page in the program, your picture, name, blog link, or whatever. Might be a fun project if anyone has fun ideas…

Check out my jiggly insides

There aren’t enough slices to make much of an animation…


Medical Imaging Day

A week before leaving on our vacation I got a phone call from the hospital reminding me of my MRI on the 17th. I told them that I thought there was some sort of mix up because I couldn’t be MRI’d due to the implanted magnets. The tech was a little outraged at me having wasted his department’s time, saying, “well why did you agree to have this scan then?”

I told him that I had not agreed to it, and would not agree to it, because I know I can’t be scanned magnetically. He seemed to get more irritated, and demanded to know why I had signed the consent form then? Asking for clarification from him, he told me that he had a consent for the MRI procedure sitting in front of him with my signature on it. I asked him to describe the signature — “it’s just a scribble” he said (check) — and I felt a little like I was slipping into the Twilight Zone.

“There must be some mix-up I said,” which he clearly found hard to believe as he was utterly convinced that he had a consent there in front of him that was signed by me, and I was even beginning to wonder about it myself. Had I somehow signed off on this by accident?

“You are Shannon Larratt…?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“…110 pounds…?”

“Wait… No! I’m more than double that size!”

So who knows what happened. There’s only one other Shannon Larratt in this world — Shannon Charlene Larratt, a distant female relative who lives in South Africa (and who also is a fair bit chunkier than 110 pounds). So I don’t know what happened. Somehow they have a form there with my name and phone number on it, perhaps my signature, but someone else’s details and procedure. Thank god it wasn’t an amputation surgery or something more damaging!!! Anyway, they told me they’d call my doctor to get it straightened out and that was the last I heard from them. I just assumed I’d sort it out in the new year.

When Caitlin and I got off our return flight from Cuba I turned my phone back on, and it beeped at me that I had a message waiting. I called up, and it said that I had a CT scan scheduled for the morning of the 23rd — today — and that this was their courtesy call to remind me. I had been expecting a CT scan, so I put it on the calender and decided it was the good side of the trip cancellation. Yesterday I got another call from the hospital telling me about medical imaging and before the receptionist could finish I said, “yes, I know, I have a CT scan tomorrow morning — I’ll be there… thanks for calling to remind me!”

“Umm… This is the echo lab, not CT. We need to schedule an ultrasound of your heart, and if you’re coming in tomorrow anyway, why don’t you come up to the 16th floor after your CT scan and we’ll check your heart then.”

So that all worked out, and this morning (after posting on ModBlog’s Nazi tattoo fiasco, one of the first times I’ve posted there in a year) I headed off to the hospital. I brought my netbook along to do some programming (the source code to ZenCash is now about 8,000 lines and very satisfying to work on), but the wait times were very limited so I didn’t get much done. First they squeezed me into the CT machine, having some trouble doing the specific scans because I’m too big to easily do scans of my shoulders and the other stuff needed for this sort of muscular dystrophy (I heard them saying they thought it was the “limb-girdle” form, but I’m not convinced at all by that preliminary diagnosis because AFAIK that form is painless, and whatever I have is quite painful).


The scan took about an hour with me in nothing but socks, shoes, and a pair of hospital gowns. As I kept getting plunged into the doughnut shaped CT scanner over and over and started getting very bored, my mind strayed to the “sex in an MRI scanner” study and I had the horrible fear that I was going to get a boner and be totally mortified when the nurse came back into the room. Luckily the fear did not come true and I forced my mind onto the most unerotic things I could imagine.

Speaking of embarrassing, after the CT scan, I went up for the heart scan, which only required me to be topless, but did not allow for me to be covered with a gown, so the Eastern European male ultrasound tech had a full on view of my dirty tattoo. He asked me, “so what is going on here”, and I sort of mumbled and giggled and wasn’t sure what to say, but the guy kept looking and asking about it.

“So that guy at the door… What is he… walking in on his… wife?”

“Uh, wife… Yeah, something like that.”

The heart scan was pretty neat. I recorded a very short five second video which you can see on YouTube if you click on the picture. I got a CD of the CT scan so I’ll try and post that in the next couple days (it doesn’t seem to be Windows 7 compatible so I’ll have to ask Caitlin if I can use her computer), and in a week or two I should get a CD of the full heart scan data. I really enjoyed watching my heart beating from various angles on the screen, with the blood changing colour depending on the direction of flow.


The only bad thing about the heart scan was that he had to put sticky pads on me for the sensors, and the first one caught my beard, gluing my beard to my chest… Ouch!!!

On my drive home I had a nice phone call from my dad, and then from my brother also. My brother as well as Caitlin’s mom have both kindly and warmly invited us out for a “plan B” Christmas, but I think we’re having a good time enjoying some rare time where it’s just the two of us and will stay here. The other good news on my drive home is that I discovered that my favorite candy — Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups — is now available in white chocolate. Yummy!

Good food, good company

On the bright side of this vacation getting canceled fiasco, we’ve been having fun here, and eating lots of good food. Yesterday we had lunch at Whole Food’s awesome salad bar, and today Caitlin cooked a feast including vegetarian cabbage rolls (which I think we’re actually eating tomorrow) and some kind of mussel pasta that I’m eagerly awaiting as I write this. I also ate a whole cherry pie all by myself over the last couple days, but that is not particularly unusual.

Yesterday’s date to Avatar, which we saw in “Digital 3D” (rather than Imax 3D), was incredible. It took my eyes about fifteen minutes to adjust to the 3D and at first I dreaded a headache, but wow, I sure do recommend going to see it in the best theatre you can. I’ve never seen a CGI movie like this — it’s so incredibly complete and realistic and immersive — no uncanny valley here — and I just can’t imagine the amount of time that went into doing all the art and modeling for the project. I was totally blown away by the movie on every level, but most of all technically. I’m a fan of Cameron’s movies in general, but he really hit this one out of the ballpark. I won’t give away too much of the story, but one of the themes of the movie is the interconnectedness of all life, and that being the theme of my forehead/skull tattoo, I definitely appreciated that plot — which he managed to do without being at all cheezy or new-age.

In the “not so satisfied” category of media enjoyment, boooooo to the finale of Survivor. What the hell were they thinking with their pathetic vote?!?! Russell in my opinion is quite likely the best player in the history of the game, and he deserved to win. The fact that they went with someone who got there only by following him around is bizarre to me — and unpredicable as well, given that when a disliked but great gameplayer makes it to the end in reality shows, they almost always get a “I hated you, but you played a great game” vote from everyone. So I was very surprised, and I shared some kinship with the tears in Russell’s eyes.

So, making the most of being here in Canada — appropriately we just watched the überpatriotic freedom-touting 2005 documetary Escape to Canada again… I had a doctor’s appointment today, and tomorrow morning I go in to the hospital for a CT scan on, I assume, my legs and perhaps arms and more, and then after that they’re doing some sort of ultrasound on my heart to see how long I have to live — hopefully my heart is completely unaffected by the Muscular Dystrophy, assuming that diagnosis continues to stick… It wouldn’t be the first time one didn’t stick, so don’t hold your breath. I’ll see about getting copies of the scans and seeing if I can make a Youtube video like I did with the very first scan I got.


Edit: It was clams, and it was delicious!

The twenty minute vacation

I guess my cop soft-harassment was divination.

There were minor hassles — a first for me — by the TSA-types in Toronto, but things really got hard to handle after we sat next to a screaming baby for three hours. The mother seemed to have complete apathy for her infant and was doing nothing to comfort it, so it’s screeching was pretty bad. I thought the über-bitchy stereotypical bad-attitude future wannabe-MILF sitting in front of her was going to attack the mother, but she kept it to loudly cursing her with various profanities. But when we landed in Cuba, after coasting over and idyllic looking series of islands, the nightmare began.

After being treated like drug dealers for the jars of spices that we bought and brought along to give as tips/gifts to the hotel staff, trying to be nice — and my saying that I didn’t even drink alcohol to their accusations just made them assume I was a druggie even more — the customs officials, who clearly had a problem with the way I looked (you think tattoo prejudice is bad, big beard prejudice is even worse) and were making it really obvious that I was a “suspect”, pulled me into a room where they accused me of being in the country to deal drugs (apparently having been in Panama earlier in the year made us both especially suspicious — Caitlin was accused a little more lightly outside the room), and then had a “doctor” come in and explain to them that my prescription medication — with all appropriate prescriptions with me — were a “drug” and that if I was actually in pain that I’d be taking ibuprofen instead. The “doctor” even said that for all he knew I could have faked the scars from my surgeries and that without x-rays and copies of my medical transcripts that they were going to have assume that I was a drug trafficker. I can’t imagine a more unpleasant way to have our Christmas vacation canceled.

It was very hard, and we both left the country with tears in our eyes, the early morning rise and sleep we sacrificed to make the plane making it even harder to keep it together. The topping on the cake was some middle aged chain-smoking slag shouting at us that we were assholes for delaying the plane (which was held back for all of five minutes to expedite throwing us out of the country).

The bright side is that at least we’ll get to watch the Survivor finale, and, most importantly, I will still be spending the time with Caitlin, and that’s really what counts.

And in the style of Perez, the only souvenir of the trip.