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    • The shape shifters in their usual form.
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First Run

I have been having trouble getting to sleep at reasonable times, leading of course to trouble getting up at reasonably times. Part of the blame, I believe, was the lack of physical activity that I have fallen into since tearing my ACL. So today I decided to change that and go for a run.

Well, the bad news is that I’m once again not in great shape — so much for best shape of my life at 25. The good news is that my knee held up well, and I think the run did the trick — I am ready for bed!

Running with a knee brace took a little bit of adjustment, but I’m sure the extra lateral protection is well worth the small distraction.

Aflame

A Japanese Maple

On a day like today, who could ever want to leave? Not I!

A Long Day

8:45 wake
9:30-10:20 CSE 467 Lecture
10:30-3:00 Capstone lab
3:00-3:30 lunch
3:30-5:00 Bioen 499 Lecture on Cochlear Implants (very good!)
5:00-11:00 CSE 467 lab (not done!)
midnight-2:45 work
2:45-3:00 saw 4 people being chased by or already pulled over by cops

Death Tomorrow

Also known as first Biochem test of the quarter. Then three more to go, and no more stupid memorization-only classes after that.

And the Quarter has Officially Begun

The first all-nighter of the quarter, courtesy of Computational Bioengineering.

Open Government

Another great piece fromt he Seattle Times:

A government that’s open, accessible and responsive

By Brian Sonntag
Special to The Times

Democratic government is built on the foundation that its power and authority rest with the people. To preserve that power, citizens absolutely must have information about the actions and activities of their government — through the news media’s watchdog role and through access to public records and meetings.

It is never wrong to open government’s doors and let the people in.

In Washington state, we have strong public-access laws citizens themselves put in place in the 1970s by using their power of initiative. The preamble of one of those laws — the state Open Public Meetings Act — makes clear citizens’ intent:

“The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”

All public officials, the media and individual citizens share a deep responsibility to make sure that the preamble is valued and that public-access laws remain strong.

Judge Damon Keith, of the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, said: “Democracies die behind closed doors.”

Elected and appointed officials have a fundamental obligation to keep government’s doors wide open to the public. Yet, legitimate concerns about personal privacy and identity theft have created a rush by government to close information to the public. Citizens’ right to information has become a question of whether or not the public needs it.

That must never be the question.

To me, the fundamental question boils down to: Whose government is it?

It’s ours.

Most public employees are honest, hardworking and dedicated to doing the right thing. But, some agencies simply don’t want to be bothered. It is easier for them to deny a public-records request, for example, than to take the time to fulfill it.

We also see instances in which public officials deliberately shut the doors and run a government as if it were their own private club.

For all of us in government, we must never forget whom we work for.

Thomas Jefferson said: “Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe.”

The First Amendment recognizes the critical role the news media play in their vigilant scrutiny of government and their reporting of information citizens need to stay abreast of actions and policies that affect their daily lives.

The continued concentration of media ownership legitimately raises concerns about press bias and independence. Also, technology that enables anyone with a computer to become a mass communicator raises doubts about the truth and accuracy of some information.

Media owners must remember that the bedrock of our democracy is formed on the press’ responsibility to provide a fair, complete and accurate account of government activities. It is up to the media to cover the news and uncover issues. They must ask the hard questions and seek the truth.

To fulfill our own constitutional responsibility, the Office of State Auditor regularly audits and reports on government stewardship over public resources. And, while we do not have enforcement powers, we are able to shine the public light of day on conditions we find. We report our work broadly, and often find the media and citizens using it to further discussion on a wide range of issues.

President John Adams said: “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right and a desire to know.”

Individual citizens have a civic duty to keep informed and to actively participate in their government. Complacency and apathy are enemies of accountability.

I define accountability as government being open, accessible and responsive to people. Government must listen to citizens, and when it talks to people, it must tell them the truth.

Open, accessible government is the soul of our democracy. It breeds citizen trust and confidence in their government. But, that trust is fragile.

It is never wrong to open government’s doors and let the people in.

Brian Sonntag is the Washington state auditor.

Meeting The Surgeon

Today at 10:00, I left for the UW Sports Medicine Clinic (not to be confused with Hall Health Sports Medicine, where I initially went after my injury). There, I filled out some paperwork and then met Dr. Chris Wahl, whom Dr. Jonathan Drezner at Hall Health Sports Medicine referred me to. After another short exam and looking at MRIs, Dr. Wahl shared his conclusion that I have a ruptured (nearly to completely torn) ACL and a sprained LCL. The LCL he thinks has a good chance of healing on its own because it is outside of the middle of the knee. The ACL, on the other hand, has no chance of healing on its own, and will need ligament reconstructive surgery to restore stability to my knee.

My parents were kind enough to attend with me, and we each asked a number of questions about the surgery, the recovery period, timing, and so forth. The end result is that I am headed in for surgery on the 9th of November. I think of it as a sort of early birthday present from Dr. Wahl. The surgery will involve harvesting two of the five hamstring tendons from my right leg and using these to replace the ruptured ACL. Also at the time of the surgery, the state of my LCL will be reassessed, and if it is determined to not be healing tightly enough, I will receive an allograft (cadaver tissue) reinforcement to the outside of the right knee.

The hamstring autograft procedure ends up being stronger than the original ACL, and out of hundreds of reconstruction procedures that Dr. Wahl has performed, no one has ever had any problems with their hamstrings afterwards. If the LCL reinforcement is necessary, I will end up with a much bigger scar on the outside of my right knee. This is because of a nerve that runs near where the surgery must take place; they must move this nerve during the surgery to avoid cutting it, which would prevent me from feeling or controlling the muscles at the top of my foot. The ACL procedure, on the other hand, involves only three small holes around the right knee.

My confidence in Dr. Wahl is high; it was further supported by the following exchange between myself and a UW EE professor:

Me: I wanted to write you to thank you for showing us the cleanroom and lab areas during Albert’s Neural Engineering class. I’m also the student who hurt his knee, and you had mentioned a knee specialist that I might want to talk to. If you can easily find his name, that would be great, but even if not, don’t worry; I think I’m in good hands already.

EE Prof: The name of the doctor is Christopher Wahl, he is probably still and assistant professor in UW Medicine.

Me: Amazing! Dr. Wahl is the surgeon who I met with today and am going to have reconstruct my ACL in about three weeks. When I said I thought I was in good hands, I guess I was right!

EE Prof: That’s great! My friend had a very good experience with him, and he was recommended to her from others who said very good things of him.

Fortuitous!