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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

Microturismo por Coghlan

Ay­er se quedó mi tren yen­do al tra­ba­jo. Co­mo no me ten­go que hac­er mala san­gre me ba­jé, me fui a pasear, saqué unas fo­to­s, cam­iné un poco, y llegué jus­to antes que ar­ranque el tren de vuelta.

Los grafi­tis y mu­rales son de las pare­des del hos­pi­tal Pirovano, los fla­men­cos de hi­er­ro son in­ex­pli­ca­bles.

The Pleasures of a Cheap Phone

When it comes to phones I am a cheap guy. I don't buy ex­pen­sive phones, I don't buy flag­ship phones, I don't even buy "cheap flag­ship-­like phones". I don't buy un­known chi­nese brands that make amaz­ing­ly cheap but awe­some phones, I don't buy mid-range phones, I don't buy mis­tery phones. I buy cheap phones. Or at least that is the plan from now on.

My pre­vi­ous phone was a for­mer flag­ship, a LG G4 which had awe­some specs ... for 2015. Of course I bought it in 2017, but stil­l, it was like, nice? The cam­era took good pic­tures, and all the apps ran smooth­ly and the bat­tery sucked and dropped to 50% be­fore I had fin­ished my com­mute.

I hat­ed that phone's bat­tery life. It made my life 10% more an­noy­ing. So I de­cid­ed to try an ex­per­i­men­t. I con­sid­ered what the hell I want­ed of my phone. And here is the full list, not in pri­or­i­ty or­der:

  1. I want it to have In­­ter­net

  2. I want it to play FM ra­­dio (no da­­ta us­age!)

  3. I want it to take pic­­tures, but not nec­es­sar­i­­ly awe­­some pic­­tures. I am more in­­­clined to do things like tak­ing a pic­­ture of a fun­ny street sign than any­thing else.

  4. I want a large-ish screen be­­cause I watch Net­flix on the train some­­times, or read books in the Kin­­dle ap­p. No need for su­per-high res­o­lu­­tion. Hon­est­­ly, 720p is just fine. I know be­­cause I checked.

  5. I don't want to wor­ry if some­one steals it. In­­­sur­ance here is to­­tal­­ly worth­­less. I had it on a pre­vi­ous phone: it was more ex­pen­­sive to use the in­­­sur­ance than to just buy a new phone (re­al­­ly).

  6. I wan­t­ed a met­al back. Why? I like how met­al backs feel. Glass backs are id­i­ot­ic.

  7. I want apps to run. I don't mind at all if there is an oc­­ca­­sion­al slow­­down.

  8. I want a bat­tery that does­n't ag­­gra­­vate me

So I took those pa­ram­e­ters and con­sid­ered all the phones avail­able. And I bought a phone most peo­ple con­sid­er a piece of crap. And I love it.

Let me in­tro­duce you to the glo­ry that is the Mo­to E4 Plus (by Lenovo)

Let's cov­er all the items in my list.

I want it to have Internet

Be­cause this phone comes in a "world ver­sion"­by de­fault, it sup­ports pret­ty much ev­ery band out there. I get 4G and it's plen­ty fast. Or, fast enough? It does have a small prob­lem in that for some rea­son it does­n't see my of­fice's WiFi net­work but who cares. I have enough da­ta.

I want it to play FM radio

It does! It suck­s, but it work­s. Good for emer­gen­cies?

I want it to take pictures

It has a cam­er­a. That is about as much as you can say about it. It even has two cam­eras! Front cam­era has flash! They are both hot garbage! It's bare­ly good enough for me.

I want a large-ish screen

Maybe 5.5 inch­es is not a large screen for you, but it is large for me. It is, in fac­t, about as large as I can use sin­gle-hand­ed. So, yay. It's bright, and it's 720p res­o­lu­tion is not awe­some but who cares? I can see what's in it even in di­rect sun­light, so all good. A bit of a fin­ger­print mag­net.

I can read fine, Net­flix pics look good. That's it.

I don't want to worry if someone steals it

This thing costs $120 (US) or so. Do I mind if some­one steals it? Yes. Do I just walk to the next store and buy an­oth­er one if it hap­pen­s? Yes too. So, yes yes yes. In fac­t, con­sid­er­ing it's last year's mod­el it's prob­a­bly worth even less now. So I may just buy a E5 plus now that it ex­ists and give this one to my son. Or not, since it works fine.

I wanted a metal back

Yes, it has a nice curved alu­minum back. It's a bluish grey and I think it's pret­ty.

I want apps to run

They do run! Ok! Most of the time! Some­times (once ev­ery cou­ple of days) things get slow for a sec­ond. Then it fix­es it­self. Sure, the Kin­dle app takes a sec­ond or two to start if I have not used it in a while. So? What can pos­si­bly be the prob­lem with hav­ing a app that con­tains ev­ery book I bought in the past 6 years (and that's sev­er­al hun­dred book­s) avail­able in my pock­et to read and reread at any mo­ment tak­ing 2 sec­onds to open?

I want a battery that doesn't aggravate me

Be­hold my bat­tery graph a while ago. I had a heart at­tack and was in a hos­pi­tal por 3 days, which means charg­ing the phone was pret­ty hard (no USB ports on ICU bed­s) but the phone was the on­ly way to be con­nect­ed to peo­ple or not be bored out of my skul­l, so on 4G net­work and us­ing it most of the time.

It says I have 6 hours of bat­tery left. It's ac­tu­al­ly un­der­es­ti­mat­ing it a lit­tle. On nor­mal us­age it lasts two days. Two whole days. TWO DAYS. Not two work­ing days, not two days on stand­by, but two whole days of just us­ing it nor­mal­ly for smart­phone-­like nor­mal ac­tiv­i­ties like one does, play­ing games, us­ing twit­ter, tak­ing a pic­ture of two, watch­ing a movie on Net­flix, read­ing on Kindle, check­ing email, stream­ing mu­sic to a blue­tooth head­set, mak­ing call­s, and so on. TWO. Not one, but two days.

Did I for­get to plug it at night? Who cares, I will plug it to­mor­row.

The charg­er even lets you get 4 or 5 hours of us­age by charg­ing it for 15 freak­ing min­utes.

I am in love with this phone's bat­tery. I want to mar­ry this bat­tery and have lit­tle elec­tric chil­dren that will run and run and run and nev­er shut­down.

You don't know how much your phone's crap­py bat­tery (and yes, your phone's bat­tery is prob­a­bly crap­py) stress­es you un­til you are re­lieved of the con­cern.

Random Nice things

  • It's wa­ter re­­sis­­tan­t!

  • I dropped it on the floor a few times and noth­ing hap­pened!

  • It has a fin­ger­print sen­­sor that works well!

  • It can use the fin­ger­print sen­­sor for con­trols and then you don't need on-screen but­­ton­s, so your screen is "big­ger"!

  • It has pret­­ty much stock An­­droid, even though it's a ver­­sion that is now a bit out­­­dat­ed.

  • Even though it's a bit thick, it's thinnest than your fan­­cy thin phone af­ter you put it in a sleeve be­­cause you care about it.

Random Not Nice Things

  • The speak­er is garbage

  • The FM ra­­dio tuner is garbage

  • The cam­eras are garbage (yes, I al­ready said it, but they re­al­­ly are)


I ab­so­lute­ly love this phone even though sev­er­al of its com­po­nents are garbage. It gives me peace. The bat­tery gives me peace that it will work. The price gives me peace that I don't need to wor­ry about it much. It does what it has to do. It feels good in the hand.

But why do peo­ple buy ex­pen­sive phones, or new phones? If I were to buy an Iphone X, that costs about 8 times as much as this one, what would it give me that this one does­n't? Nicer pic­tures. Pret­ti­er screen. Not much else.

But it would make me feel like I spent a sub­stan­tial amount of mon­ey on just that. Sure, one spends a lot of time us­ing the phone, so it makes sense to spend mon­ey on mak­ing that time more pleas­an­t, but ... the iPhone X is more ex­pen­sive than my bed. And I spend 9 hours a day there.

And I would wor­ry about that phone.

And I would care about that phone.

What can it give me that pays back even 2 min­utes of wor­ry­ing?


Quick Nikola Feature: document APIs using pdoc

A us­er asked in the niko­la-dis­cuss if there was a way to use Niko­la to doc­u­ment APIs. Well, there was­n't and now there is. I took pdoc and wrote a wrap­per as a plug­in for Niko­la.

And now you can just doc­u­ment python mod­ules us­ing it in a cou­ple of min­utes.

Here is the doc­u­men­ta­tion for the re mod­ule from stdlib as an ex­am­ple.

Yes, the out­put is not great, and it needs CSS, and many oth­er fix­es, but it's easy to im­prove now that it's there, as long as there is in­ter­est.

So, I had a heart attack

Tl; DR: Yes, I had a heart at­tack, but I am ok.

First, some back­ground.

  • I am fat (~130 kg re­­cen­t­­ly)

  • I have had high blood pres­­sure for a long time

  • I have fat­­ty liv­er syn­­drome

  • I am in­­­su­­line re­­sis­tent

So, a heart at­tack is prob­a­bly not an un­ex­pect­ed thing, but hey, I lived to tell the tale, so here I tell it.

I walk ev­ery­day when I come and go from work, around 20 blocks each way. That is good, and is some­thing I need to do! How­ev­er around au­gust 23 I start­ed hav­ing some chest pains when I did. I walked a few block­s, chest pain start­ed, I stop, pain stop­s. Not a hor­ri­ble pain, maybe a 4 in a 1-10 scale.

Be­cause I am noth­ing if not good at ig­nor­ing mes­sa­ge­sI don't want to get, I blamed in­di­ges­tion, or what­ev­er. It was most­ly some dis­com­fort. Who cares, right?

It turns out at some point be­fore then I had had a freak­ing heart at­tack, and what I was feel­ing was lack of oxy­gen in my heart be­cause of in­suf­fi­cient blood flow. I did not feel the heart at­tack, I was feel­ing the se­quels of it.

BTW: cowork­er­s! That means I went to the of­fice a few days af­ter I had the heart at­tack :-)

In any case: it turns out some­thing be­tween 30% and 45% of those who have heart at­tacks don't no­tice be­cause of what­ev­er rea­son­s, and on­ly fig­ure out they did when they sud­den­ly die (yes) or go for a rou­tine check and the doc­tor says "dude, you had a heart at­tack at some point and did­n't no­tice".

So, I kept ig­nor­ing this, but on the week­end my blood pres­sure was high. How high? Run-­to-the-ER-high. 190 over 120 high.

I took my pill­s, it would go down a lit­tle, but on the next mea­sure­ment it would go back up. So I would take my pill­s, it would go down, and then back up.

So, on mon­day I went to the ER. Got an EKG and tro­po­nine as­say and ... "dude, don't wor­ry about it, let's call an am­bu­lance and take you to a hos­pi­tal that has a coro­nary unit. You know, be­cause you had a heart at­tack. In the mean­time, here is some IV ni­troglicer­ine"

I get car­sick a lot. Rid­ing an am­bu­lance, ly­ing down and look­ing back­wards ... not good for me. But any­way, they took me to the Sana­to­rio de la Trinidad in San Isidro.

There I got more EKGs, more blood test­s, and in­deed it looked like I had had a heart at­tack, so they told me I would need a pro­ce­dure. "It's not surgery it's just a pro­ce­dure" ... and dou­bled the amount of ni­troglicer­ine.

Fun­ny thought: who was the first guy that de­cid­ed to see if in­ject­ing un­sta­ble ex­plo­sives in­to your veins may have a good ef­fec­t? Be­cause it does! It does a kick­ass job of open­ing your ar­ter­ies thus less­en­ing the chance of you dy­ing right away. Al­so gives amaz­ing headaches.

I got a nice room, got hooked up to mon­i­tors, IV, BP cuf­f, Rosario got a nice couch, and got put on hold.

If I were hav­ing a heart at­tack right then, then they would have done the pro­ce­dure right away. Be­cause I was­n't, it could wait a day or two. I will not go in­to the in­dig­ni­ties in­volved in bod­i­ly func­tions when you can't move. There are a bunch of them.

I was hav­ing a killer headache, they were in­ject­ing an­ti­co­ag­u­lants in my bel­ly, my hand had a IV hang­ing (which hurt­ed), and they were draw­ing blood ev­ery 4 hours, so my OTH­ER arm was hurt­ing, and the BP cuff was in­flat­ing ev­ery 15 min­utes ... so, not a very rest­ful night.

Next day they tell me I will get "the pro­ce­dure". It in­volved open­ing the ra­di­al artery in my writ­st, slip­ping a hose in­to it, wig­gle it all the way back in­to my heart, in­ject a liq­uid that would make my blood opaque to X-rays, then look and see where it wen­t. If there were ob­struc­tions and they could be treat­ed, they would do it right away.

A nurse gave me a quick bath (there was a chance they would go through my groin in­stead, so it was the po­lite thing to do).

I wait­ed a few hours, and they took me to the hemo­dy­nam­ics room. Fan­cy mon­i­tors hang­ing off ro­bot arm­s, nice chat with the anestesy­ol­o­gist, and then they gave me the pa­per­work.

It's a huge list of bad news.

  • The pro­ce­­dure in­­­volves con­t­in­u­ous X-rays and it may be nec­es­sary to use high in­­ten­si­­ty.

  • All that ra­di­a­­tion has side ef­­fec­t­s, so let us do it

  • Pos­si­ble side ef­­fects in­­­clude per­­ma­­nent de­pi­la­­tion of the chest (re­al­­ly)

I signed off (be­cause what's the al­ter­na­tive?) and they tell me "move a lit­tle to the left in case you fall asleep you don't roll of­f". Be­cause yes, you are awake. Ok, awake-ish, at least I was in a drugged haze all through it.

I seem to have fall­en asleep at some point and woke up just to tell them "my arm and my chest hurt a lot!" which they an­swered with "well, yes, we are pok­ing in­side your heart, dude" and sme ges­ture which I in­ter­pret­ed as "just put this guy to sleep al­ready" be­cause I woke up in my room.

They put three stents in my heart, be­cause I had a bunch of ob­struc­tion­s, in­clud­ing one in the main car­diac artery, so, good thing they in­vent­ed those.

Back in the room, I feel awe­some. Re­al­ly. I blame the drugs.

They slow­ly start­ed cut­ting down on the ni­tro, so no more headache.

By that night I was well enough I could start play­ing canas­ta with Rosario (via an An­droid ap­p: no need to deal a ton of card­s, no way to cheat by mak­ing up rules, so awe­some), watched a cou­ple episodes of Forged in Fire, slept on and of­f.

Next day, wednes­day, bor­ing.

Next day, thurs­day, I was al­lowed a bath! I could walk to the couch and sit down! I could wear un­der­wear! Al­most civ­i­lized.

Thurs­day af­ter­noon I was dis­charged. The dol­lar had gone up 30% while I was not look­ing.

Spe­cial note for my US read­er­s: there was no hos­pi­tal bil­l. My job's health provider (OS­DE) took care of ev­ery­thing, I need­ed not pay a dime. I was just put in a wheelchair, wheeled to the door and told to have a nice day.

We went to buy all the medicine for my new regime (12 pills a day).

There is a an­ti­co­ag­u­lant pill I need to take for a year, and if I skip it I die. There are pills to con­trol the BP, which if I skip I may die, there is a pill for the pain, which if I mix with an­oth­er pill I wil die, and there is as­pirine just be­cause they need­ed some­thing a lit­tle less dra­mat­ic.

Went home, and in the next cou­ple of days had a cou­ple more checks with a hos­pi­tal car­di­ol­o­gist and with my car­di­ol­o­gist, a nice and wise la­dy who I should pay more at­ten­tion to.

All through this my wife was by my side, a friend took care of our kid, and ev­ery­one at work was cool about it, ask­ing how I was do­ing and in gen­er­al be­ing their usu­al awe­some.

So, those are the events. What hap­pens now?

I need to stop be­ing fat, so I sup­pose I will try.

I am in sort of the same sit­u­a­tion as Aeschy­lus. There was a prophe­cy that he would be killed by a fall­ing ob­jec­t, so he tend­ed to stay out­doors. Then he was killed by an ea­gle drop­ping a tur­tle on his head, be­cause it looked like a shiny stone.

I sort of know I will die of this. But there is no rush, and I will do my best to avoid it for many years. I will try to avoid the ob­vi­ous ways, like Aeschy­lus. And if fate deems it nec­es­sary that an ea­gle drops a tur­tle on me, at least it will be a fun­ny sto­ry.

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