Monthly Archives: May 2023

hostess gift

L is traveling to France in 8 or 9 days. She will be staying about 10 days with a host family. What should give her to bring as a gift? They seem extremely nice, and I’d like to thank them somehow. She is not allowed to gift them money or alcohol. It also must be small as she’s responsible for moving around her own suitcase.


Good news

Is this not awesome?

“To achieve this result, the researchers first implanted electrodes in Mr. Oskam’s skull and spine. The team then used a machine-learning program to observe which parts of the brain lit up as he tried to move different parts of his body. This thought decoder was able to match the activity of certain electrodes with particular intentions: One configuration lit up whenever Mr. Oskam tried to move his ankles, another when he tried to move his hips.”

“Over the next few months, the researchers fine-tuned the brain-spine interface to better fit basic actions like walking and standing. Mr. Oskam gained a somewhat healthy-looking gait and was able to traverse steps and ramps with relative ease, even after months without treatment. Moreover, after a year in treatment, he began noticing clear improvements in his movement without the aid of the brain-spine interface. The researchers documented these improvements in weight-bearing, balancing and walking tests.

Now, Mr. Oskam can walk in a limited way around his house, get in and out of a car and stand at a bar for a drink. For the first time, he said, he feels like he is the one in control.”

It’s worth reading the whole article in my opinion. What a breakthrough! And it seems like the type of breakthrough that will dramatically improve with time and research. For example, the article now that this does not yet restore upper body movement. But that seems like the sort of thing that could be developed with time.

“Subtle intentions in the brain are difficult to distinguish, and although the current brain-spine interface is suitable for walking, the same probably cannot be said for restoring upper body movement.”

If I had unlimited money, I’d go back to school and work on something like this.


I was very sorry to hear that Dooce had died. I read her blog religiously for years and occasionally for more years. Reading the comments online, many people appear to attribute her death to social media and vitriol she was on the receiving end of as a blogger. But Armstrong herself said that blogging helped her deal with her mental health struggles. Many people seem to think ill of her because she made her living off the internet. They lump her in with influencers. I see this kind of disdain often; it’s like some people can’t handle the fact that some other people have managed to monetize the internet and make money without doing “real work.”

One of the comments on the New York Times summarizes my thoughts:

“I hope she is remembered as a beautiful, talented, entrepreneur that had an incredible voice that was poignant, witty, insightful and honest and that she tragically died of a terminal disease that deserves greater research and compassionate attention.”

furry visitors

We had two visitors yesterday – a cub (not shown), and later, his mother. The cub came right up to our glass sliding doors in the family room and I think I was about 12 inches from him, separated by the doors of course. He was so cute! I managed to get my cell phone camera and video the momma bear. We got bears regularly at our old place, including a momma and three cubs on our deck on one occasion, but they always came at night. I don’t remember seeing a bear up close in our yard during the day. However, they enjoyed going through our trash, and we store food waste in our freezer until trash day. When we moved here, we optimistically put food waste in our food waste bin outside, and it got raided by bears within a few days. I guess they were making the rounds yesterday. Do you get bears where you live? My aunt in rural MA gets a lot of bears, but my parents in rural VA don’t get any.