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Dr. Timothy Kuklo

Dr. Timothy Kuklo

I have had back problems for about a decade, and a while back I finally needed back surgery.  My usual doctor referred me to a surgeon who was a bit messy and had a ratty carpet and tacky artwork in his office.  When I asked his office assitants who in their office was a perfectionist, they said, “all of our doctors are perfectionists.”  Right.  Then this non-perfectionist surgeon told me he’d have to cut away part of my spine to then cut off a small part of a spinal disc.  Time for a second opinion.
After stumbling around the internet, I found a “doctor finder” website that listed the number of medical whitepapers a doctor had published.  “Ahah!”, I thought.  “I’ll just look for the doc with the most scholarly papers published to his name!”  And that turned out to be one Timothy Kuklo, with 67 whitepapers published.
I went to see him.  Dr. Kuklo’s office was immaculate, his staff exceedingly professional.  He had a not a single hair out of place.  In short, he looked like the kind of doctor you wanted operating on your back.  And when he told me he didn’t have to cut off any bone to reach the disc, that the incision would be at most two centimeters, and the recovery easy, I was sold.
Indeed the surgery was successful, and my recovery ridiculously short and easy.  I never even used a single one of my Oxycodone pills (eat your heart out Mr. Limbaugh).  All was well!  For a while . . . sadly, eight months later I suffered a sports injury.  My primary care physician again recommended surgery and (again) referred me to the non-perfectionist surgeon.  Right.  “Hah!”  I said to myself.  “I’ll just schedule a consultation with Dr. Timothy Kuklo again!”
So I called up his doctor’s group and they said he was no longer with them and they didn’t know where he’d gone.  No problem.  I’ll just Google him.  I did so, and what did I find, but a New York Times story on a$800,000 case of fraud and scholarly dishonesty involving one Dr. Timothy Kuklo being paid to falsify the results of a whitepaper whilst forging the signatures of four other doctors!  Wait, this couldn’t be MY Dr. Kuklo, right?!  Alas, he was the very same man.
Now the fraud was so ineptly carried out that I think Dr. Kuklo was probably a fairly honest man prior to this indiscretion.  No, lifelong scoundrels are sure to “misremember” things or fudge the facts, depending on what your definition of the word “is” is.  No I think Dr. Kuklo probably was what he seemed to be at first: an excellent surgeon.  I think he just went off the deep end when he thought of all that money offered him.  Sad really.
This all brought one memory screaming back to me:  When I first met Dr. Kuklo, I explained how I’d chosen him because of his 67 published white papers.  He chuckled and responded, “Well . . . that’s not always a good way to choose a doctor.”  I guess he was right.
Now, my back had indeed healed well, so I wasn’t really worried about the quality of work he’d previously performed for me.  However, one doesn’t want a man guilty of lying in exchange for $800,000 from a pharmaceutical company to cut on oneself a second time.  I need a perfectionist who is also a decent guy.
I think my next surgeon should have a fancy car AND homely wife.  I’ll let you know how well that turns out.

Messier Object 68

Messier Object 68

I was reading through my Digital Image Processing book (2nd edition) about something called Fourier transforms. Without explaining the math, suffice it to say that any 2d image can be transformed into the Fourier domain. When you do a Fourier transform on a normal image, you get what looks like a cluster of stars. So me being me, I thought, what do you get if you do a Fourier transform on a picture of stars? SECRET MESSAGES FROM SPACE!?

How to decode messages from space.
1. Find a good candidate photo from space. Should have a bright spot in the very center and be 512×512 pixels.
2. Convert the photo to floating point precision.
3. Perform an inverse Fourier transform (I used a shake plugin from pixelmaina), using the same image as both the real and mathematical “imaginary” portion (you know, the square root of -1) of the Fourier transform.
4. Center, Scroll, or otherwise (Filter>Other>Offset in Photoshop) the resulting image so that the brightest part is in the center.
5. Interpret the results.

Messier Object 68 in Fourier space

Messier Object 68 in Fourier space


Messier Object 68 in Fourier space after recentering

Messier Object 68 in Fourier space after recentering



Results:*
Messier Object 5 in Fourier Space

Messier Object 5 in Fourier Space


Messier object 5 (M5) clearly shows that somewhere in the universe, a noisy television exists.
Messier Object 30 in Fourier Space

Messier Object 30 in Fourier Space


M30 likewise.
Messier Object 68 in Fourier space after recentering

Messier Object 68 in Fourier space after recentering


M68 shows a planet with 50 moons and a race of sentient dogs.

*Final interpretations will be subjected to peer review as of Aug 2090.

Areas for Further Research:
The three Messier objects I have thus far decoded clearly show a low signal-to-noise ratio. In analyzing other Fourier images, I note that bright pixel clusters are extremely rare. Rather, the image is comprised of individual pixels of varying brightnesses(eses). Thus, my photos of stars are not true Fourier images. For better results, I must use a diagram of the stars instead of a photo, with each star being a maximum of one pixel in diameter.

3d Dot Heroes Screenshot

3d Dot Heroes Screenshot

About five years ago I saw Mister Ghrib 4 : Carl’s Memories by synj, which reminded me of a 3D Super Mario Brothers 3.  What if you could take a 3d camera down into the 2d video game world so that you could see each individual cube that made up all the characters and the entire game world?  Wouldn’t that look cool?  Last year I stumbled onto Metroid Cubed, a full voxel port of the original NES Metroid game.  This was great, but it was still not quite what I had imagined.  I wanted the user to be able to zoom the camera in and see the lines between the blocks.
Well, today I did another search and found two great looking games, Fez, and 3D Game Dot Heroes.  3d Game Dot Heroes is exactly what I had in mind of an old-school 2d game brought to 3d. You can see the individual blocks of every Zelda and Final Fantasy parody! Sadly, this is slated for a November release in Japan only! (Curs-ed Language Barrierrrr!!) The other game, Fez, is a really neat concept, a sort of compressed 3d game world. It’s 2d, except while you are changing viewing angles which is when it briefly becomes 3d, then the world is squished back to 2d. This allows some really nifty spacial puzzles, making the game look like huge fun to play. It’s as tough to explain as Narbacular Drop, so check out the trailer.
Inbetween I experimented with making my own voxel Mario (way bigger pain than it was worth), attempted to program my own game in OpenGL (another big pain), and saw some other videos that reminded me of this cool concept. Fez and 3d Dot Heroes are way better!


Last year I was introduced to “The Immortal Molded Gourds of Mr. Zhang Cairi” and was amazed. This man has single-handedly revived a centuries old art form that was outlawed for decades. My clumsy words do his artwork injustice. Seriously, check him out! He inspired me to think I could mold any relative of the gourd into any shape I wanted. I was already trying my hand at watermelons, but they would be so expensive that only a few people would buy them after coming to gawk. What I needed was a plant that was a smaller, cheaper alternative to watermelons that could be an impulse buy. After a bit of search I decided on Zucchini. They grow fast, take little maintenance, and what I learned with them could be applied to my more labor intensive watermelon efforts. For molds I decided on used plastic soda and water bottles from work. (now THAT’S recycling!) Zucchini in a bottle!
My first problem was finding a Zucchini small enough to stuff in the bottle. Either they were too small, with the flower still firmly attached, or they were far too big to fit down a 20 oz. neck. I tried squeezing in a zucchini that was a just little too large, but I damaged the tender skin, and it stopped growing. I had to check the Zucchini plants every day, or they would quickly get too large. For airflow, I poked holes in the bottle sides and bottoms with a thumbtack. Eventually, this became tiresome, so I tried using a few bottles without air holes. After baking in the sun for a week, all that was left of those doomed zukes was a smelly, liquid mush. So, the zucchini need airholes. When it rained, I had to check the plants morning and night to catch my window of opportunity. So I had several zucchini growing in bottles. All good. How long should I let them grow in the bottles? AND THE ANSWER IS . . . until the zucchini neck starts expanding wider than the bottleneck. If there is a little unfilled air space left near the bottom or the top of the bottle, that’s ok. Only the rare zucchini will completely fill the bottle. Pull them from the stalk to harvest, but fight the temptation to cut them flush with the bottle opening. They’ll keep longer if they stay intact; cut they’ll last at least week in the fridge. One thing that shocked me was how hard it was to peel the bottles off the zucchini. The next time I grow them, I plan to pre-cut the bottles to make removal easier. So my plan was to call these novelties ‘Cchini in a Bottle and hope that people would pay $2-$5 for each bottle. One last note, Zucchini will never grow to fill a 2-liter bottle. They’ll get as long as a club, but never thicken enough. My Amish neighbors down the road discovered that.

Dripping water onto a diaper-icepack.

Dripping water onto a diaper-icepack.

I needed a gel pack a while back and was offended at the high price for them at the store.  I thought there had to be a cheaper way – it was just some plastic and a chemical, right?  But which chemical?  And how could I get it cheaply?  That had me stuck for a while.  Until we went swimming as a family.  At the time, we had a toddler still in diapers, and when she got out of the pool I noticed her hugely swollen diaper.  It’s easy to forget just how much water those things hold!  And it hit me.  After it absorbed water, the chemical in the diaper was like jelly.  Could it work for a gel pack?  Well, when I got home, I tried it out.  I wet a clean diaper, sealed it in a gallon zip lock, and stuck it in the freezer.  Several hours later it was cold yet malleable!  I posted my results as an instructable. But the next morning I found a problem.  After leaving the diaper gel pack in the freezer overnight, it was no longer squishy, squishy.  Yep, hard as a rock.  I was disappointed and embarrassed that I had not solved the problem after all.  And that’s when I was saved by kindred spirits.  The other intructablers commented that one part water to one part alcohol would make a nice gel pack.  Well, I modified that to only one cup alcohol and posted my newer, improved results.  So check it out, step by step, or take the summary below:

1.  Add one part rubbing alcohol to one part water and pour over a disposable diaper.

2.  Seal the diaper in a gallon zip-lock bag and place in the freezer.

3.  Use for your aching elbow and reuse on your knee.