Chris Llana

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About Chris Llana

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    Fallbrook, CA
  1. Recording of Einstein playing Mozart

    An examination of Einstein’s brain revealed that the area of his brain cortex devoted to the movement of his left fingers had developed a large fold called the Omega sign, which is common to violin players who have developed fine dexterity in the fingers of their left hands. Piano players’ brains develop the same Omega sign, but in both hemispheres of the brain. So it's apparent that he was an accomplished violinist.
  2. Don Noon's bench

    Don, did you consider using Wittner geared fine-tune pegs as an alternative to fine tuners on the tailpiece? Just personal preference? Using the mechanical pegs introduces string friction over the nut as a possible disadvantage (tension can be different on either side of the nut due to friction between nut and string). The contact of the string over the nut would seem to be significantly greater than the contact area of string over the bridge. In both cases the friction may be inconsequential for a violin. It's a factor with electric guitars where string bending pulls some string over the nut—from between nut and tuner, that doesn't all return when the tension is released (there are electric guitar bridges that incorporate fine tuners).
  3. Aging Eyes and Seeing Things

    I had my cataract surgery performed at a major university hospital eye center; the surgeon was ranked as one of the leading in the country. That said, it was a teaching facility, and the surgeon trained a rotating parade of residents, who were tasked with helping functions, often unsupervised, and seemed as often as not to be guessing when a decision had to be made. I believe it was one of those followup decisions that led to my first detached retina. Also, the surgery followed the old-school hands-on approach, so residents-in-training could better understand what was happening. There are newer procedures where a computer-controlled machine does all the precision alignment and laser cutting, but perhaps that's not a good teaching moment. If I were to do it again, I would find a private practice. My new implanted plastic "intra-ocular lenses" were single (distance) vision. There are also now lenses that allow you to see both near and far, although they are more expensive. I read that patients with the new lenses were happier with the result than those getting the simpler distance-only lenses. I opted for the basic lenses because at the time I read there were fewer complications and distance vision could be clearer with the old lenses than the focus-able ones, but I've recently seen there are more new models of the ones you can see near and far. Best to discuss the pros and cons with your ophthalmologist.
  4. Aging Eyes and Seeing Things

    I had cataract surgery, although at the time the cataracts were not too bad, but I was lured by the promise of 20/20 vision without glasses. Actually got the 20/20 vision, but also got the "rare" complication of a detached retina, something that requires emergency (within a couple of days) surgery to avoid permanent blindness. A year later, vision was blurry again, this time due to posterior capsule opacification, a common (50%) complication to the cataract surgery. This is fixed by a simple, quick procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy, which however also produced for me the "rare" complication — detached retina, again. This time in my other eye. So six eye surgeries. With age, most people develop posterior vitreous detachment. The vitreous — the gel-like layer covering the retina — pulls away and produces floaters, and may also produce flashes (bright lights in peripheral vision), caused by the vitreous tugging on the retina. If it tugs too hard, you can get holes/tears in the retina and a detached retina. If you suddenly see lots of floaters and flashes, go immediately to an eye doctor. My detached retinas manifested themselves as a black semicircle that started in my peripheral vision and gradually grew larger, moving toward the center of my field of view. If it reaches your macula (area at the middle of your field of view, where vision is most detailed, surgery may not be able to restore your vision to what it was). The surgery to correct my detached retinas was called pneumatic cryopexy. A very cold probe is pushed against the outside of the eye while the surgeon looks inside the eye; the probe is positioned where the retina holes/tears are and when triggered, it freezes the tissue all the way through the white of the eye (sclera) to the retina, forming scar tissue which tacks the retina to the underlying pigment epithelium. Then they inject a gas into your eye, which forms a big bubble, which floats to the top. The gas bubble holds the retina against the underlying tissue, so it can heal. Then for the next week or so, you hold your eye so that the detached part of the retina is "up." In my case, upright with the head tilted left. All day and all night, 24/7, sleeping sitting upright. Beats going blind. The scar tissue can shrink with time, wrinkling the retina around that spot. (There are other things that cause scar tissue formation, including pigment cells landing on the retina.) That's called a macular pucker, and it is mostly benign (a small distortion in your vision), but it can have complications, including retinal detachment. If the macular pucker becomes a problem, surgery (delicate) can correct it, but the surgery can also have complications, including retinal detachment. Cataract surgery is one of the most common procedures in the U.S., and one of the safest, but it's not without risks. So my vision is now more or less 20/20 after all of this, but I have a collection of reading glasses ($15 over-the-counter) in powers 1.25 (for computer work), 1.5 (for reading paper documents), and 2.0 (for closer needs). Also the usual head visor magnifier for really close work.
  5. Recommendations: Face Shield and Respirator

    I've been using this full-face respirator for a few years. Great fit and doesn't fog up. Protects both eyes and lungs. I have both organic vapor and dust cartridges. Costs $150 but how much is your future health worth? How much do you spend for a single doctor visit? This is a size large; they have a medium for about $125.
  6. Don Noon's bench

    Congratulations! Well deserved!
  7. New changes to The Peg Box

    Sign-in worked fine for me; the box said to input "Display Name" and not User Name. And you can click the box that says "Remember Me" to keep you signed in (presumably, until you shut off your computer).
  8. Don Noon's bench

    Viola looks stunning! And the photography is exceptional!
  9. Don Noon's bench

    Viola back has impressive figure!
  10. 8 violin clips for tone evaluation

    Liked #2 the least, #6 the most.
  11. Firewood fiddle - a test of the worst

    Lodgepole pine would also work: "Heartwood is light reddish/yellowish brown, sapwood is yellowish white. Heartwood color tends to be paler than Ponderosa Pine, and isn’t always clearly demarcated from the sapwood. Lodgepole Pine commonly has pronounced dimples on flatsawn surfaces, (which are vaguely similar in overall appearance to Birdseye Maple). Such figure can help distinguish Lodgepole Pine from most other pines which lack this feature, with the exception of Ponderosa, Jeffrey, and Jack Pine, which also have similar—though usually less pronounced—dimpling." Ponderosa pine would work as well; lodgepole and ponderosa are often mixed together and sold as construction lumber. "(Because of their generally narrow trunks, Lodgepole Pine lumber can sometimes be separated from Ponderosa Pine on the basis of the width and clearness of the wood—Ponderosa Pine usually furnishes wider, more knot-free wood than Lodgepole Pine.)" Here are 10x enlargements of end grain for lodgepole and ponderosa:
  12. Firewood fiddle - a test of the worst

    I looked through my wood book for a species with the right specific gravity (0.43 - 0.44) that was also native to southern California. The only species I ran across that seemed to match (and also looked like the sample) was Sitka Spruce — not a good firewood but perhaps why it was so cheap.
  13. Firewood fiddle - a test of the worst

    Do you know what species the wood is, Don? Spruce is rarely used for (commercially sold) firewood.
  14. Don Noon's bench

    The photos against the black background are really nice, Don. I preferred the lighting on the first three. Adjusting the lighting in Photoshop (or similar app) can make a good photo even nicer.
  15. Don Noon's bench

    Gorgeous back!