May 272016

This morning, for the first time in a very long time, I got medical test results that actually definitively pointed at a specific problem. Not only that, but it’s something that could actually potentially be addressed for a change. Then I went to an evaluation for physical therapy and got even more interesting information. Let’s review, shall we?

First off, about a month ago I had a nerve conduction study performed on my left foot area, because of major numbness and loss of sensation in my big toe and the one next to it. It turns out that this is not part of my usual peripheral neuropathy! Instead, the diagnosis is an unexpected one: tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is the lesser-known sibling to the common carpal tunnel syndrome we all fear in my line of work. Something is compressing the tibial nerve, causing damage and the resulting numbness and other symptoms.

From here out is where things might be considered TMI, especially if you’re squeamish about medical things, so I’m going to tuck it into a spoiler box to protect sensitive eyeballs. There’s nothing creepy, just kinda deeply medical.

Medical details ensue!

My neurologist and podiatrist suspect that the varicose veins I’ve developed over the last 25 years or so are responsible. This could also explain why I’ve had leg swelling lately. So they’ve recommended I find someone to look into that.

Less than an hour later, I was in physical therapy, being evaluated for work to begin on treating the foot that’s been so painful. Over the course of a very long exam, a few new things came up:

  • At first glance, it looks like lymphatic edema, in which fluid buildup results in swelling. This can also be a cause of varicose veins.
  • Over the course of the discussion, and after some research, I suspect it’s more likely chronic venous insufficiency. This is more in line with the specific symptoms and the situation as it stands, as well as the explanation that was given to me as to what seems to be going on.
  • This is all probably unrelated to my usual neuropathy, although that assessment could be mistaken.

So basically, what seems to be happening is that some of the veins in my legs have lost the battle against gravity and have stopped properly feeding back up to my heart, resulting in swelling and other yucky things. This has progressively worsened for many years now, until finally the swelling began to impinge upon nerves, causing pain which haws continued to worsen.

Fortunately, there are things we can do!

  • First, the therapist is going to use compression equipment and exercises to try to encourage that fluid to migrate upward. This will let us see if it improves my comfort level. It is not a permanent fix, though. If it helps, then we evaluate how to correct that problem over the long term.
  • We then (or also, depending) look at having the non-functioning veins closed off so that they don’t keep sidetracking blood flow away from veins that still function.


Something for which we have plans of attack! This is unheard of for me! I’m actually quite excited. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

Please, please let this actually respond to treatment… just once, I need that to happen.

 Posted by at 6:05 PM
Apr 032016

Today—April 3, 2016—marks the tenth anniversary of the day I started working at Mozilla as a writer on the Mozilla Developer Center project (now, of course, the Mozilla Developer Network or MDN). This was after being interviewed many (many) times by Mozilla luminaries including Asa Dotzler, Mike Shaver, Deb Richardson, and others, both on the phone and in person after being flown to Mountain View.

Ironically, when I started at Mozilla, I didn’t care a lick about open source. I didn’t even like Firefox. I actually said as much in my interviews in Mountain View. I still got the job.

I dove in in those early days, learning how to create extensions and how to build Firefox, and I had so, so very much fun doing it.

Ironically, for the first year and a half I worked at Mozilla, I had to do my writing work in Safari, because a bug in the Firefox editor prevented me from efficiently using it for in-browser writing like we do on MDN.

Once Deb moved over to another team, I was the lone writer for a time. We didn’t have nearly as many highly-active volunteer contributors as we do today (and I salute you all!), so I almost single-handedly documented Firefox 2.0. One of my proudest moments was when Mitchell called me out by name for my success at having complete (more or less) developer documentation for Firefox 2.0—the first Firefox release to get there before launch.

Over the past ten years, I’ve documented a little of everything. Actually, a lot of everything. I’ve written about extensions, XPCOM interfaces, HTML, a broad swath of APIs, Firefox OS, building Firefox and other Mozilla-based projects, JavaScript, how to embed SpiderMonkey into your own project (I even did so myself in a freeware project for Mac OS X), and many other topics.

As of the moment of this writing, I have submitted 42,711 edits to the MDN wiki in those ten years. I mostly feel good about my work over the last ten years, although the last couple of years have been complicated due to my health problems. I am striving to defeat these problems—or at least battle them to a more comfortable stalemate—and get back to a better level of productivity.

Earlier, I said that when I took the job at Mozilla, I didn’t care about the Web or about Firefox. That’s changed. Completely.

Today, I love my job, and I love the open Web. When I talk to people about my job at Mozilla, I always eventually reach a point at which I’m describing how Mozilla is changing the world for the better by creating and protecting the open Web. We are one of the drivers of the modernization of the world. We help people in disadvantaged regions learn and grow and gain the opportunity to build something using the tools and software we provide. Our standards work helps to ensure that a child in Ghana can write a Web game that she and her friends can play on their phones, yet also share it with people all over the world to play on whatever device they happen to have access to.

The Web can be the world’s greatest unifying power in history if we let it be. I’m proud to be part of one of the main organizations trying to make that happen. Here’s to many more years!

 Posted by at 2:59 PM
Jan 082016

This morning I had an epiphany. A vision. A prophecy, you might call it. It’s groundbreaking (in a story arc kind of way, not in a real-life kind of way). Since it’s spoilery, I’m going to tuck it into a little disclosure box. Here it is:

My ephiphany

What if Rey is the Chosen One?

Anakin failed to achieve the prophesied role; instead of bringing balance to the Force, he nearly destroyed humanity’s connection to it forever. Some have theorized that his destruction of the Jedi order, leaving, eventually, just him and Luke Skywalker as Force users, established balance.

Perhaps. But what if he wasn’t intended to be the Chosen One. What if Qui-Gon was mistaken? Anakin was, instead, a Force-talented but reckless kid who should never have been a Jedi at all.

Rey, on the other hand, is so powerful and in tune with the Force that she is learning to wield its power through that innate connection, instead of requiring training. Much like the earliest Force-users must have done. This puts her in a unique position—better, perhaps, than Luke Skywalker—to build a new Jedi order. One which is more inclusive, more in tune with everyday people, and so forth.

This also explains much about the vision Rey has when she first touches Luke’s lightsaber. In it, she sees the end of the Luke’s fledgling Jedi order at the hands of Ben Solo and the dawn of her new Jedi order, founded by her, perhaps with Finn by her side, as they do combat together against Kylo Ren.

Rey is the Chosen One.

 Posted by at 5:06 PM