Friday, October 2, 2009

I can see eerily now; the pain is gone

Well, mostly gone.

I talked to the eye doctor this morning. All the bacteria are dead, and my only regret is that we could not make them suffer first. My eyes should need another week to heal, then back to normal. Until the next appointment, next Friday, I am limited to 4 hours per day of contact lens wearing. Much better than zero.

He gave me a new pair before I left his office. This was in fact doubly eerie (or quadruply, if you count twice for each eye). Normal vision was disorienting. I wandered around Hauptplatz confused, marvelling at trivialities. And it was eerie to feel that way about my normal state. Evidently, the human brain starts adjusting after only three days of blindness. Perhaps research could reveal that my hearing or foot-sensitivity improved slightly. The basic idea was confirmed in some cool EEG studies from UCSD over 20 years ago, but that was with people who were congenitally deaf or blind, or had been so for a while. Three days, and my cortex started remapping itself.

So I am still in cripple mode for part of the day, and quite functional the rest of it. It reminds me of countless literary figures: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Odysseus amidst the Sirens; at least one fairy tale each from Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm; Prince Rilian from The Silver Chair. Yes, I know. C. S. Lewis is Tolkein Lite. There are some hilarious letters between the two of them, when Lewis was trying to present them both as equals, and ol' Johnny Ronnie responded quite diplomatically, or not at all. The latter is often the most diplomatic tactic of all, and one I should work on.

On to the fun of eating while blind. I could split the remainder into Eurodining IX, but it's more thematically consistent with the blindness theme. And, I hope the latter theme ends, whereas there will be a Eurodining IX and X and who knows what else.

Dining out is especially entertaining. You're limited to places you have been before, so you know where you can sit, and can hope the staff will be sympathetic. Special thanks to my friend at Molly Malone's Pub, normally called Joe, but temporarily dubbed White Shirted Blur, About My Height and Shoulder Width, whose identity was only confirmed when he opened his mouth. He's the only one at this Irish Pub with an Irish accent. Bonus thanks for making the tasty (St)Eirish stew at the Styrian fest 2 weeks ago, as noted below.

Even with a familiar wait staff and restaurant, it's a different experience. You can't see what you are eating. You can't even ensure a reasonable composition within each forkful. No more bites with one piece of pork, some potato, and sauce. It's pot luck. Cutting meat is quite easy as long as your face is just above the plate. I had some luck eating at home; yogurt and bananas and grapes are not too demanding. I then promoted myself to more advanced culinary adventures, shown below.

"Quesadillas del Ciego"



You will need:

Two corn tortillas, handground by an old Mexican woman (can substitute worse tortillas)
about 10g Monterrey Jack cheese (can substitute gouda)
about 10g Tillamook Extra Sharp cheddar cheese (can substitute the bland mild cheddar that Europeans prefer)
A pan
A spatula
A stove
Poor judgment

Slice each cheese block in to about 4 pieces. Place between two tortillas. turn stove on medium heat. Place proto-quesadilla on pan on stove. Fumble blindly. Upon smelling burning rubber, remove molten spatula. Remove pan from heat and place in sink. Recognize glass breaking sound, and realize that there was a glass in the sink that you could not see because it was clear. Make the first smart decision of the day: don't fish around for broken glass, in a sink with a hot pan and molten spatula, until visual system is back online. Turn on faucet to cool nasty concoction. Open window. Turn off stove. Go out to eat.

That was yesterday. Today was a major buffet and party with my labmates and very many other people. Here is only one part of the buffet. They later had several dessert trays, and trays with bread (including their delicious pumkpinseed bread), cheeses, grapes, and oil (including their delicious pumkpinseed oil, which is great with the aforementioned bread).


An Austrian buffet, from Jöbstl restaurant. No, I can't pronounce that properly.


Changing of the guard: Profs. Pfurtscheller and Neuper


Three of my coworkers. Had the Beach Boys visited Austria, their most overplayed hit would have had a different title.


Changing of the guard II: The next generation BCI researcher, who I will put on a grant proposal someday, probably a few years after Erik Schalk.

In related news, there was a Styrian festival here a couple weeks ago. The town center was flush with happy Austrians in lederhosen. With one exception: their bandleader, who wielded his baton with great authority but no apparent joy:


A bandleader who looks like he would rather be elsewhere.


Emphatic but still humorless bandleader. You can see his baton pointing toward the upper left of the picture with far more enthusiasm than the responsible human. I know, the bottom two photos suck. It's not that they look fine to me, though such joking would be deserved.

1 comment:

David said...

Ear, ear! Sounds good. Glad those bacteria aren't pinna you down anymore. I heard your message and appreciate that you'd Corti me for a pun war. Though I lobe to pun with some frequency, and your pitch was perfect, I've been so busy it Hertz. So don't put me between a hammer and anvil or get cochlear thinking your hot hair cells. I'll get back to you when I canal.

Oh, crap! Did I just use the wrong modality?