I’ve been recovering from a bit of minor surgery yesterday. Apparently I had some gum recession around my lower front teeth, because my labial frenum — the little flap of tissue that connects the lower lip and the gums — was too tight and pulling the gums down. So I needed to get a frenulectomy, basically cutting out part of the frenum to relieve the tension. It may also be necessary to graft some gum tissue onto there from elsewhere (behind the upper front teeth is where it would come from), but that won’t be for months at least.
The procedure was fairly easy, thanks to modern technology. I needed to get a novocaine shot, but the periodontist used a little gizmo that vibrated against the area and apparently distracted or overstimulated the nerve endings so I hardly felt the injection(s?). (Plus there was a topical anaesthetic with a “bubble gum” flavor, which was the worst part — I don’t like bubble gum.) Then once I was numb, he used a laser to do the actual cutting, so there was no blood (or maybe that’s just what he was telling me to reassure me). Plus there was a TV over the chair and they gave me a pair of headphones connecting to a handheld wireless thingy that let me control the volume, so I got to watch Maria Sharapova playing at Wimbledon during the procedure, a nice distraction. I had to wear safety goggles because of the laser, and their green tinge made it look like I was in the Matrix.
They’ve got me on the maximum permitted dose of ibuprofen for now; I was told that some people need more, even Vicodin, but fortunately I’m doing fine with just ibu and frequent application of icepacks. But I have to avoid hard, crunchy foods or foods that I have to bite into; I can chew things, but they have to be in small enough pieces that I don’t have to bite with my incisors, lest I drive food down into the healing area. I can’t brush there either, just dab with a swab dipped in a prescription mouthwash. And I’m having to avoid hot foods for the first 24 hours. I wish they’d told me this ahead of time so I could’ve shopped with those parameters in mind. So I went out this morning and bought some stuff that seemed appropriate — two kinds of pasta salad from the deli for today, some cherry tomatoes, some cut strawberries, some hummus mix, some pudding cups, things like that. And I put the bread I recently bought in the freezer, since it seems I won’t be having sandwiches for a while. (Well, I could have a sandwich, but only if I cut it into little pieces, and that seems a bit silly.)
With all that high-tech stuff they had to make the procedure easier, it’s a shame they don’t have some gizmo that can speed up the healing.
Well, I finished my outline for the new Star Trek novel today and turned it in. I sought out the opinions of a couple of my colleagues, since I’m undertaking something new and I wanted to make sure it worked, and they seem to think it works pretty well. Hopefully I’ll get to talk about it soon, though with the way things work these days, the news is likely to break when some online catalog gets updated.
What I can talk about is what I did afterward. Recently, I’ve begun buying fresh green bell peppers from the store instead of settling for the diced frozen ones in bags (although I still do freeze most of each new pepper for later use, since I’m only one person). And now that I’ve gotten used to buying whole peppers, I became oddly possessed with the desire to take the next step and stuff one of the things. To my surprise, though, none of my (three, count ‘em) cookbooks had a recipe for stuffed bell peppers, even though at least two of them are supposed to be about essential guidelines for cooking anything. So I searched online, and found a surprising lack of consistency in the available recipes. By the time I sorted out enough of the essential principles to formulate a plan (yesterday), the pepper I had in the fridge had been sitting too long, so I chopped it up and froze most of it, and then went grocery shopping with the intent to buy another one (along with other groceries). But the local supermarket didn’t have any decently fresh ones (or a couple of other things I was looking for), and since I found that out at the start of my shopping, I decided to drive to a more distant supermarket to do my shopping.
So this afternoon, after turning in my outline, I went to work, making sure I had plenty of time to prepare the meal. I scooped out the pepper, I parboiled it for 5 minutes, I sauteed some onions, garlic, and veggie crumble, I poured in some diced tomatoes and instant rice, then I stuffed that mix and some grated cheddar inside the pepper and put it in a baking dish (meat loaf pan, actually — all I have) with spaghetti sauce coating the bottom and more poured over the pepper (I guess to moisten it so it didn’t burn?), then covered the pan in aluminum foil and baked at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. I had some trouble figuring out how to get the pepper out of the boiling water and splashed some on my hand, though it didn’t hurt as much or do as much damage as I would’ve thought (Leidenfrost effect, maybe?). Otherwise it went pretty smoothly, except the pepper I got was a bit lopsided on the bottom and I had to prop it up along an edge of the pan so stuff wouldn’t spill. And then when I took it out and put it on the plate, it tipped over and split open anyway. Although it was all still on the plate, so it was just a messy presentation. I had a knife and fork ready to eat it with per online instructions, but when I saw how it looked, I got a soup spoon and ended up eating it with that. The pepper was tender enough that the spoon cut it easily.
So how was it? Pretty good, I guess. Interesting, though not hugely different from the kind of stuff I occasionally make using roughly the same ingredients but with the pepper diced up and mixed in. It was a nice experiment and a reasonably satisfying meal, but I derived more satisfaction from having cooked it than I did from eating it. Ultimately I don’t think it was worth all the trouble I went to in order to make it — plus all the dishes I have to wash later. I don’t think I’ve ever expended so much time and so many cooking vessels and utensils for just a single food item. I’m not sure it would be worth repeating the experiment, at least not until I move to a place with a dishwasher. But at least now I can say I’ve done it.
Well, Barnes & Noble was behind in getting the blurb and such posted for Only Superhuman, but ahead in making the book available in e-book form. Amazon.com has now caught up; Only Superhuman can now be preordered in Kindle format.
It’s worth pointing out, since I’ve gathered lately that some people aren’t aware of this, that even if you don’t have a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader device, you can download free e-reading software for the computer or mobile device of your choice wherever e-books of the corresponding format are sold.
Only four months and four days to go!
Thanks to Marco Palmieri for tipping me off on this: Apparently Publishers Weekly magazine has just begun publishing a bestseller list, and look what’s in the debut edition (yellow highlighting added by me):
In case the small print is hard to read, it says that Star Trek: DTI: Forgotten History is #10 on the Top 10 Science Fiction list for the week of May 21-27 (sorry, I cut off the heading saying what week this was for). But look at those numbers on the left: last week it was #4, and this is its 6th week on the list! Apparently they’ve been tracking these results internally but this is the first time they’ve published the list. So I’ve been a bestseller for weeks without knowing it! Neat!
It’s been a process of adjustment getting used to my new monitor — both literally adjusting its settings and adjusting to it psychologically. I’m not crazy about the widescreen design. I understand that’s become the default these days, but the screen has less height than my old one along with more width, so there are things I can’t do anymore, like fit a whole page of a word-processor document or nearly a whole page from my Star Trek: The Complete Comics Collection DVD. Why not make it both taller and wider? Where’s the harm in having blank space above and below a widescreen image? Well, maybe it’s my own fault for getting the smallest monitor they had, but I’m not sure a bigger one would’ve fit either my workspace or my budget. (I kinda wish I had one of those monitors that could rotate 90 degrees, so you could have it widescreen for watching videos or tall and narrow for reading documents.)
Once I discovered the controls, I tried turning down the brightness, to save power and to make it easier on my eyes, or so I thought. A few days later, I realized the monitor was giving me migraines (not too bad, but frequent) — and I didn’t figure this out until the day after my 2-week return window at the store expired. So I was worried about what I was going to do. But I researched monitor-induced headaches online, and I learned that the problem is that LEDs, the source of this type of monitor’s backlighting, can’t be dimmed; they’re either on at full brightness or off completely. So the only way to dim them is to make them flicker between on and off — the more they flicker, the dimmer the average light level gets. And though I couldn’t consciously perceive the flicker, I must’ve been sensitive enough to it that it triggered the headaches. Turning the brightness all the way up again has effectively resolved the headache problem, though it’s probably not great for my eyes to have it so bright. Well, all the more reason to step away from the computer more often, I guess.
The folks at Tor sent over some uncorrected advance reading copies of Only Superhuman. These are paperback printings of the second-pass galleys (so despite the “uncorrected,” they incorporate all the edits I asked for, except for a few bits in the appendix which should be fixed in the final book), intended for sending out to reviewers and such for advance publicity. I gather they’re mainly for sending to book reviewers in magazines that have a publishing lead time of several months, so that they can get reviews published in a timely fashion.
Aside from being in paperback (and having a cropped version of the cover painting, presumably because the hardback cover is a bit larger), it’s apparently representative of the look and feel of the finished product. So it’s pretty cool to get to hold it in my hands and page through it. It’s the next best thing to getting the actual book come October.
I put a copy on my science fiction bookshelf, as I’ve been waiting to do for a very long time. It’s sitting between Timescape by Gregory Benford and The Stars, My Destination by Alfred Bester. A pretty cool place to be.
It’s actually a thinner book than I expected, though that could be due to the paper stock or something. And I guess it’s not that long a book; the final draft came out to around 115,000 words, and of course a hardcover or trade paperback can fit more words per page. And no doubt the hardcover’s, uh, hard cover will add more thickness.