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Sunday, March 5th, 2006

Time Event
World Market on San Antonio
I dropped by the World Market on San Antonio just off Middlefield today. Not Cost Plus World Market -- this store is just a little ethnic grocery store tucked away among the light industrial and commercial buildings in my neighborhood. Their specialties seem to be Eastern Europe (especially Latvia) and Jewish. Not a lot that especially excites me (doesn't turn me off, just, I don't have a standing craving for gefilte fish), but I did buy some very dark chocolate (three bars, from Holland, Russia, and Latvia). We'll see how they compare.

When you first walk in to the store, your eyes have to adjust to two things: the light difference (it's a little darker inside than "sunny day" outside, and also, the visual "frequency" of the place. All the shelves are metal grating, so you see everything in the store all at once. And, the floor is this wacky stone tile that's very busy, so it doesn't help rest your eyes. Just, pick up a basket, make like a customer, and chill in the corner for a moment to acclimate.
I like microcontrollers
I need to play with microcontrollers more. I'd forgotten how much fun they are. I'm doing a project with my Dad, doing some consulting work to drive a small circuit. It's really easy and really fun, to make something that actually _does something_ non-trivial. In this case, it's a bunch of timers and inputs for voltage levels (through A/D converters) and some configuration jumpers.

Coding for the part, Holtek HT46R47, is pretty slick, too. They have an IDE, and a well-written technical reference manual. I want to configure PA0-1 as inputs and PA7 as an output? There's a section on the PAC control register, with a little table telling me which bits to set and clear. Whee!

It's funny: this is really how I got a start to put me where I am today. Way back when (1993), I had the good fortune to have a USENET post of mine, asking for tech specs for a graphics chip, be answered by someone at the company that made it. The fellow was a tech writer, and sent me a copy of the tech reference manual, gratis. Having just started a CS degree, I spent a lot of time figuring things out with the graphics chip. This experience eventually landed me an internship, then a part-time job, at the same company (Cirrus Logic), and where I got to do a lot of exploration and geek project building.

Anyway, I seem to be reminiscing. I should get back to adding One More Feature to the timer microcode.
Regenerative tissue matrix
This week I have periodontal surgery, to treat an attached tissue recession I have. In other words, the gums around my teeth are receeding, and if I don't do anything about them, they'll eventually expose so much of my teeth that I'll lose my teeth. A future I'd like to avoid.

So, surgery. The plan is to graft donor tissue around the base of my gums, to provide support beneath the exposed teeth. To borrow an analogy my periodontist likes to use: think of a cliff with a line of trees on it. If the cliff erodes too much, the trees fall off. Even if you stop the cause of erosion, it's really hard for earth to just rematerialize there. But, if you put some scaffolding up, as a framework for earth to collect, then the cliff can rebuild itself. Thus goes the theory of the surgery. The "regenerative tissue matrix" is just a scaffolding, on which my own tissue is supposed to regrow and rebuild. The long term prognosis isn't really to cover the exposed teeth, it's just to provide support and stop the recession.

What's novel about the plan is that I'm using AlloDerm, ie, donor tissue. Someone else's skin tissue that's been separated (to removed the epidermis from the dermis), treated (to remove the cells themselves leaving just the protein matrix), and freeze dried. Some people have gotten all wigged about this idea -- "you're putting dead person's skin in your mouth?" -- but I'm surprisingly nonchalant about it. Probably because I know the alternative: cutting into the roof of my mouth for all the graft tissue. And, I need a lot of it. I'm far more loathe to experience the world's worst pizza burn for the next several weeks, than to leap with both feet into the donor tissue world.

So goes my plan for the week. I'll be on soft foods for a while afterward, and I apparently shouldn't brush or floss the area for a week or two afterward. Don't worry, I have those little Listerine strips. 8) I think I'll buy myself a toy this week as a treat for going through this pain.

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