fj: (health)
Like so many people, I have lower back problems, mostly because humans are underdesigned for this whole Walking Upright business. They went away for a long time here in the UK, but gaining some muscle weight has shifted the balance of my spine, and they are back.

[ profile] commonpeople posted recently that a FOAF is a massage therapist, properly trained, and formerly employed at spa in NYC with celebrity customers, and now in London wanting to work again, and doing a ridiculously cheap special. I am always up for trying bodywork from highly experienced people at bargain prices. And yes do I need the work done.

I took the Tube out to Ealing Common, which is quite the trip from Central London, and ended up in a beautiful large room in a big house talking to Jenne about my diagnosis of lifelong mild spondylosis, my physical therapy, and the following years of just making the back stronger as a way to deal with the fact that the nerves, as my PT put it, lie to me and tell me the back is way more fragile than it actually is, that cleaning last week that had me bend forward a lot which just did not help. And oh yes, I did straight-legged deadlifts that morning, just so it would be in an extra special state for her.

I didn't ask for a nice relaxing massage, although I am sure she could do them with her work history. I asked for deep work, and didn't offer much other guidance, see what she would find or fix. From the first touch of her elbow on my back -- I recognized what was touching me as an elbow because I could also feel where her hands were -- I realized Something Was Going To Happen. Her very methodical work showed us that the problems start way higher than I ever realized in the last 30 years, and that this week they were pretty solidly baked in. She did think she had found some interesting lateralization of the issues, but I had to disappoint her: the pains happily change sides, and this week it was simply on the left. She diagnosed some very specific muscles as being confused into being in an always-on state when they shouldn't be, and I just looked it up on Wiki that indeed, it is the QLs which she mentioned along which, on various points, the pain always happens. Which solves the mystery for me why the discomfort is always the same kind of sensation but always in subtly different places: it's just a different part of the same big muscle that is unable to cope this week. I never would have known without her, and she easily got to them even though they are buried below other tissue.

This was the most intense deep bodywork I have ever had. Jenne was completely unrelenting in the daunting face of buffed-up and now overworking cramped-up core supporters, she would not stop or lay off -- I swear she held one point without any fluctutaion in pressure for over a minute till the goddam muscle gave up and flowed already. When I came off the table my body was very unsure how to do that whole standing upright, as she had effectively pushed muscles into states of normalcy they were not used to. I moved as if I was a stiff 80 year old ([ profile] pinkfish knows exactly what that looks like) because I had no idea what the new limits were and was protecting as much as I could: everything along the base of my spine was alive going WTF PEOPLE WHAT THE HELL IS THIS MOMMY! I could feel something was going to be worked out.

During the Tube ride back just sitting upright had made my back feel familiar enough to itself for me to feel secure again. I came home and sat behind the computer and soon felt I needed a brief nap. I woke up 2.5 hours later, forced myself to be awake so as to not completely screw up my rhythm, and then slept 10 hours more as if in a coma. Something was being worked out. Last night I slept 11 hours again. Today I walked all day around the cohoclate festival in Southwark and noticed it was my legs that were getting tired. This is novel.

There's gonna be more of this. We need to find out more about what is going on here. Yeah, I want to have her work on me again, you bet.
fj: (Default)
  1. Since I have returned to innerspring mattresses, most of my back problems have gone. This started a year ago with the mattress at my temp lodgings. I do have back-pain right now, but that is because of a slight pull again, which is nearly gone.
  2. I am working a short contract right now, helping out a small UI consultancy that is contracted to Vodafone. I hope to piece together money through short contracts this way, from CSS wrangling ot high level strategic design and research, while looking for a permanent job.
  3. I like my small flat. I have had boiler issues in the last few weeks, but those were fixed by nice gas maintenance people coming by. I have re-upped to stay here until at least September.
  4. I do not travel to NL enough. This has to do with unstable money issues.
fj: (NL)
Ach, is dit nieuws? Want in the 5e lagere school -- ik ben van voor groepen (maar na de 2e Wereldoorlog, dat nog net wel wel) -- kregen we nog inderdaad een hele serieuse mijnheer langs voor een ochtend om on over sigaretten en drank te vertellen.

Voor zover ik weet, rookte en dronk er nog niemand van ons.


Sep. 2nd, 2008 03:31 pm
fj: (health)
Woke up yesterday feeling sick, poisoned. No fever, but throat and glands hurt, woozy. Somewhere around 3 PM I wanted to rest a little and was unable to get out of bed until 5PM. Decided to spend the rest mostly in bed. This morning I feel better, but still not healthy. Will skip the gym again.

Still not working. is pretty much set up. I have decided to simply do a portfolio project to address weaknesses that have come up speaking to other people and keep myself busy. If only I could keep my eyes open.
fj: (Default)
Watching 'Intervention' anorexia episodes on YouTube makes me want to get Ben&Jerry's.

Posted with AutoPostBot
fj: (phkl)
Horrible jet lag. Unable to go to the gym yesterday; after I came home from my job interview and the supermarket, I felt so tired I had to briefly lie down, and fell asleep at 6. Woke up at 10. Made dinner at 11.30 in a brain haze, went to bed at 1. Recruiters are calling me at 9.30 (two this morning) so at least I do not sleep in too much.

One of them was for a luxury woman's apparel website, and the email asks to respond with anything besides my CV that would indicate my suitability for the role. I wondered how to write down and back-up a professional version of "I am a style-obsessed homo." I sent my portfolio instead, it includes some concepts I did at previous gigs for Moms, and the PHKL.

Incidentally, no PHKL mail in months. I still have the top results in Google for "pink hello kitty laptop" and "hello kitty laptop", but the availability of officially licensed laptops is focusing the efforts of the computing 11 yo set better, I think.

How It Was

Jul. 11th, 2008 03:55 pm
fj: (travel)
So, contradictions. Düsseldorf is an impossibly chic little city, but rents in the central area, not at all run down, are ridiculously cheap. Germany is going through a prolonged economic malaise due to reunification, but organic-ish vegetables and perfectly lovely store brand products in my local supermarket cost nothing. And this gig was in Germany and yet I was caught dead doing it1.

This gig for Vodafone was one that my agent has been trying to get me to take fo a while, but I never liked the terms: one had to be in Germany at least four days a week, which means that if you do not move outright for the whole thing, you end up in London only one full day, and I went to London 6 months ago to live there, not in Germany. But after not having worked for a month and a half after that single week with the consultancy, and my savings being equally unhappy after this move, I was more receptive. Then my agent called and said he had talked them down to three days at the office, which means two days of work and weekends at home, plus an unbelievable dayrate as long as I paid my own travel and lodgings, but that those could come off taxes, and I said ok. It's only a 55 minute flight after all.

Logistics-wise, the gig turned out to be better than I thought it would be. Of course the first week I overpayed for a hotel, not knowing what and where. The next week I didn't because I knew where the Hotel Ibis was, a Europe-wide brand of cheap business hotels near train stations. By the third week, my appartment had been arranged, and that made me the slow one in the office: the MZW agency can do that in a day, and had for most of my colleagues who flew in like me. €580,- a month for a big studio in the center of town. Almost every name on the letterboxes, stuck on with label-maker tape, was Indian. The landlord basically rents to all us temp workers. Only drawback of my lovely space: it's a 6th floor walk-up. Oh yeah. The city was rebuilt in the 50s after the war, and elevators were not a priority.

So, little cheap Bio supermarket on the same street. Streetcar stop on the corner which I could take to work. The Vodafone tower and adjacent buildings are pretty much on the Rhine, and modern and spacious and open. My co-workers were nice, and it was kind of fun to sit in the auxiliary room together with all the young designers from the contracting firms chattering away. The work was perfectly do-able and started out bringing me further along to mastering the bread-and-butter of mercenary UI designers (which I am still relatively recent at) but by the end had me back writing strategic documents about revenue opportunities in new media (which I can do in my sleep if you tell me the focus).

I looked at all the gyms online, visited a few from very middle-of-the-road to very expensive, and settled for a bodybuilder's gym that had a good 3-month rate and was in the city center. I walked a lot with my backpack with this heavy computer and gym clothes, I ended up never buying protein powder but just eating a lot of eggs and chicken and tuna and fromage frais (known as Quark in German).

I settled on a routine for flying in and out on Monday and Thursday evenings. This means Mondays were always chaotic as I had to get ready to leave, spend a lot of time actually traveling (bus from Oval to Paddington, Heathrow Express, Plane, Taxi), and still get a whole day of work in and exercise, while Fridays were a mess while I had to get a whole day of work in, do expenses paperwork and time sheets, and was just a general tired mess from flying in Thursday night. Every Friday night when I got in to bed having juggled and hurried and done everything and eaten and worked out at two gyms and not dropped any balls, I just collapsed, and then reminded myself I'd get to do it all over again in two days. Sometimes with having to go to the bank on Monday as well to travel with €1K in cash, as using my UK and US cards was either impossible or expensive for things like rent or food. Never used it for shopping, though, as I never had time by day. This last trip I was able to just walk the whole of the shopping street and see how for a small city, Ddorf is just really well supplied in high-end fashion, all in a really nice area. Balenciaga's black knitwear for this season is Teh Raumpatrouille Orion Sex2.

The constant planning got tedious. What clothes were where, what should I bring, do I have enough cash for the taxi, what was in what fridge (which is important if you often arrive after shops close), what did I need to bring to work, what would fit in what bag. When I came back in London from having stayed over a weekend to visit my family I learned that Tesco's Finest Orange Juice is not pasteurized: the bottle had bulged, opening it was a plopping adventure, and the OJ had been diligently fizzily carbonated by little entities. The only way to deal with all the planning was routines: everything had to have a place and time, from when I switched currencies, to when and where I would switch keys on my key chain, to when I would pull out my passport and when I would put it back to what I would buy and when I would leave. I couldn't keep track of it all at the same time, so I kept track of each thing as it happened and put it in a place that would be predictable for the next time this part of the routine had to happen. By the end it was actually all really relaxed trip-wise, I just ran through the steps, back and forth, with the only spanner in the works being the damn planes. I only got three outright cancellations in the whole period.

As for visiting my father, one of the reasons I took this gig, that didn't happen because it was really hard to schedule him. He was busy every weekend in May, and I only stayed over on the continent once to see him in June. I will this weekend, but the whole let's go to Rozendaal often just didn't pan out much. The work did, minus two weeks, and the weather was often very lovely. I'd do this again. But now, two days in Amsterdam, and then to Dad, and then Monday to London.

1Ancient Euro rivalry alert
2If you are into paying €1200,- for a sweater, that is.
fj: (Default)

For The Record
"For The Record", Nokia N73, London, 2008

fj: (Default)

For The Record
"For The Record", Nokia N73, London, 2008

Alternative Titles: "Comment Whoring (But I Just Loved The Color Of The Light)" and "Do I Have The Bedhead Thing Down?"
fj: (Default)
So the white hair is actually coming. You know, supposed to give me some gravitas, lift me up from visual adolesence, graying at the temples, distinguished, etc., etc. Except for this little detail: it's not coming in on my scalp.

It is coming in here... )
fj: (health)
Waking up tired, I powered myself through Thursday, even trying out a new gym to join in Düsseldorf. Yesterday after airline adventures I came home at 1 PM, ready to work, and was unable to do even the minimum of what I would call a normal days output. Juts puttering around all day, catching up on BSG (3 episodes), go to gym, and feel like I won't last 10 more weeks this way on this schedule. Like my body is running on empty.

It's 4.30 PM now, and all I have done is sleep and eat all the healthy food I bought. Then I remembered: Wednesday I felt slightly feverish, but my good friend Ibuprofen took it away overnight. Yes, I am tired, and in Germany I do not take as good care of myself as I should if I am going to be in an airplane and under this work pressure every week, but obviously I am working out some sort of infection right now. Now that I have a flat I can get it together in Germany as well, and I will be ok. Work out. Prepare food I need in portions I need to take to work. Drink more on the plane, even if a small bottle of water costs €3. I just have to have a very slow weekend now. I think tomorrow I will be even able to catch up what I should have done yesterday. And not even consider going to the birthday party at last weeks club being thrown for the East End bouncer we met through chatting with his wife, which'll probably be attended by all his other, equally beefed-up bouncer friends, random East Enders, and sexual deviants he seemed to know last week. His wife, who put me and [ profile] iejw  on the guestlist at 4 AM, probably will have forgotten all about us anyway. Can't go. Want to go. Can't go. Must sleep more now.

( Watched latest BSG, made me gasp at the end. Spoilers in comments.)


Mar. 2nd, 2008 06:03 pm
fj: (health)
In the US I lifted weights pretty reliably 5 times a week, and ate around 200 grams of protein, of which almost half was in the shape of whey protein powder. During the last year, one or two of those five sessions were with a personal trainer who stretched my boundaries of what hard work was to almost masochistic levels. I came to the country in 1995 around 180 pounds, ate and lifted my way to a bloated 226 pounds, quit most starches and high GI foods 4 years ago until I dropped to 200 pounds so fast I though I had cancer or something, and left the country at around 198. No six-pack, some slopes of muscle under my hairy skin, nothing rock-hard.

I landed in the UK and had 5 days of fever. Now I am eating 5 times a day again, allowing grains again in muesli and one chicken sandwich a day of store-bought sandwiches of which I recognize all ingredients on the packaging. I am still eating meat three times a day, doing most of my own cooking. But I haven't bought protein powder yet. I can't stand these store prices for what is basically a bulk rest-product of a major industrial process -- making cheese -- so I was waiting to have an address to order mail-order, and I was also wondering what all that protein was actually doing for me. But I have been often walking for hours a day, and still working, best I can in the small gym, as hard as ever 5 times a week or so.

Well, now I know what it does. First of all, if the scale in the gym is to be believed, I am down to 187 pounds (85 kgs). You can pull my size 34 GAP jeans (thus that 34 is generous) off my ass with one strong tug, even while the belt is closed at its tightest. Still no six-pack -- which makes me beleive this is not a feature my body can produce without me looking really crappy starving -- but good shape, although the armband tells me I have lost some muscle, and probably all over. Nothing looks abundant or ample, but it is all there. This is what happens when you remove a significant source of calories.

I also, today, failed a lift that should have been no problem. Alas, a straight-legged deadlift. Lower back is a little stiff and sore now, but nothing major or bad, I have woken up in worse pain some mornings from just sleeping on a wrong mattress. But it does remind me that if I am going to do this kind of schedule, I need to actually feed myself what is necessary to keep myself in working order. Well, I get the keys to my new flat tomorrow at noon, and will be moving in over the week. And the tubs of whey and milk protein are already on order to be delivered.
fj: (Default)
Well, no gym today, as the gym I went to had 3 months as their shortest contract. Nuh-uh, not until I sign a rental contract.

Which I struck out on too, kind of. Of the four realtors I entered, one had a flat that might do, but with little charm and of course "will be gone soon so call us now". I need to arrange a viewing for [ profile] spwebdesign too. Let's hope it is still there tomorrow. Turns out these landlords want character references and guarantors and bank statements -- not that easy for a guy with no local history and no job yet. Feels like when I came to the US in 1995 and had no credit history so I didn't exist.

Still, I went into shops and talked to strangers over and over. I have written before how going into retail to talk to salespeople about stuff I cannot firmly point to gives me anxiety, and I confronted and dealt with it today over and over. Will try some other ones tomorrow, and the other gym. Helen gave me homework: write down my perfect job and have that on hand to give to recruiters, instead of just listening for what they have available. Get ready to make them work for me. Have my story together. I will not get my perfect job thrown in my lap.

But what to charge in salary? I need to look at jobs out there on jobserve to see what jobs like I think I belong charge. Well, that I can fake I belong in.

New Week

Feb. 11th, 2008 08:35 am
fj: (health)
Another day of aimless shiftyness or shifty aimlessness in a rented room in North West London, or something.

Actually, I have a plan today of finding some realtors and walking to find housing [ profile] spwebdesign and I can move in together in. My thinking here is that yes, if I got the job I normally have I could go and rent the London version of the lifestyle I used to have (London version would be the same minus 300 sq ft I bet) but it seems like a smart idea right now to save money and live small. For one thing I don't have that job yet. Which is actually good because if I did, I wouldn't have time to find housing.

I dealt with my sense of doom and uselessness Saturday by calling old friends and spending the day with them; Barry & Adam were happy to have an excuse not to paint their banisters and come into town. Yesterday lunch with [ profile] chrishansenhome and [ profile] spwebdesign where I found I lost out on a high-paid grunt job doing HTML and CSS because my resume is basically too abstrat and I don't have proper samples -- which is not surprising since I usually just abstract specify sites and, if at all, make modifications to large systems to make them happen. So another task, should I actually want short gigs of this work, is to write a highly buzzword laden CV of of projects. And hit Monster for my usual job.

I need to call California tonight to check in with Helen and discuss some of this path. I am way overdue of doing so. The problem is is that when I am in my room at home, I collapse at 8 PM. I cannot keep my eyes open. It is a horrible feeling to fall asleep over your own keyboard, because I know it will not get me to sync up with local time. Still, I had to go to sleep last night at 8 or fall literally on the floor; I almost did. With just one interruption, I slept until I woke up at 6.30. Obviously something is still very weak about me.

I need to hit a gym, get EFA oils, and go back to high-protein life. It's been two weeks since I have lifted iron, and I think that is not helping.
fj: (Default)
No fever, feel super woozy and unstable, still easily exhausted. Suspect inner ear issues, still. Had lunch with Roger P. in SoHo. Back in bed recovering.
fj: (Default)
Bridge Burnt: called Disney benefits and stopped COBRA. It's the NHS for me from here on out.

Meanwhile, I no longer carry my Greencard with me in my wallet. My new Oyster card will go there instead, I think. Attempted to open the bank account with HSBC, they'll send paperwork to my contact address in a week or so with which I can pick up my debit card. No progress on real housing, but did get agreement I could extend my current easily. Cancelled an interview for tomorrow when I came home: only two hours out, one small conversation at a bank, and I was exhausted. I could not do a full day of discussions at a handset manufacturer by tomorrow.

Back in bed now.
fj: (Default)
Day 6: I wake up at 4.45, my head is woozy, like my cranial filling is twice as heavy as usual. It's felt like that since I went out to dinner with [ profile] spwebdesign last night to discuss sharing a flat together and freelance HTML / UI work to be had -- what I would consider low- to mid-level grunt work that for some reason commands outrageous daily prices here: CSS-tweaking to manage cross-browser issues, HTML aligning, stuff like that, not even AJAX. I could do that for the cash, for a while, making sure my brain never gets to the point it will want to revolt and run off without me to Djakarta or some place like that as punishment for boring it so.

I stay in bed until it would be a normal time to wake up. I feel weak, no body pains, obviously my brain is working because I am writing. I took my temp while I minced my banana to add to my muesli with fresh grapes and Greek yogurt. 37 degrees Celsius, 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. I can't turn my head quickly without feeling like I am about to fall over, but obviously what I am dealing with now is the crappy combo of carefully nursed jetlag allowed to linger by sleeping when I wanted to instead of forcing myself to be awake in tune with my surroundings, and the result of 5 days of almost continuous fever. I still need to take it slow, very slow, but I want to get stuff done. But the jetlag needs to be snapped out of. I'll try to only nap for two hours today, even if I am still convalescing. I have to start. I will try to do all the chores I still need to do that I an do online, from passing over my TiVo account properly to managing taxes over 2007.

Didn't get to the banking thing yesterday, will try today. Will also have to ask the leasing agency for another week in this room at the weekly rate, I lost too much time being sick considering I am only starting now.
fj: (health)
Every morning for the last couple of days I have been waking up hoping to be healthy. Today yet again, I am disappointed. However, thanks to yesterday's foray, I can quantify how I am doing. 100 degrees Fahrenheit, 38.5 degrees Celsius. The pseudo-ephedrine keeps me able to breathe, but the tylenol is not controlling the fever as much as I'd like.

Still, I will go out today to get a bank account -- HSBC has a specific banking product for people without a permanent UK address -- so I can pay rent and have income deposited as soon as both those transactions become relevant. After a nap or something. Also, dinner with [ profile] spwebdesign to learn about his experiences. Since I cannot currently explore regions on my own -- going into confined public spaces like The Tube would be irresponsible right now -- I will have to get information 2nd hand so I can accelerate my search for housing next week. I worry no-one will rent to me since I do not have a job yet.

Fridge is also stocked for a few days. Being at supermarkets has been enlightening. My diet in the US consisted of lean protein sources, vegetables, and tons of fruit, fresh and frozen. Looking at what it would cost to continue that I am being strongly confronted with the fact that I now live on an island in winter. Christ. On the other hand, trans fats, hormones, and high-fructose corn syrup are totally easily avoided here. Still, I feel the UK public is being conned when it comes to fruit juices. Various manufacturers are selling mixes of juices touting specific super-nutritious fruits like cranberries or pomegranates. I am skeptical, of course, having always bought the pure juice versions of those that aren't blends: by themselves, blueberry, pomegranate, cranberry, acai, and many other super-fruit anti-oxidant juices are basically undrinkable, they have to be mixed. I know that if they are sold as part of blends or smoothies in a carton in the juice isle they have to be diluted with other fruits. Still, I get almost angry when reading the label: these blends with their red fruits on the box and big anti-oxidant push are almost always between 50 to 70% apple or grape juice. Those juices have close to no nutritional value over sugarwater, especially white grape juice. The healthy part of an apple comes from all the fiber action, which the juice does not have. Grape and apple juice are basically the cheapest juices in the food inventor's arsenal. And they're asking for tons of money for this shit of flavored fructose water with some blueberry and banana in it. No fucking way.

Read the labels people. Know what your are consuming, wherever you are, and get the least processed foods if possible. And if you want liquid anti-oxidants in Britain, just buy a box of green tea.
fj: (health)
The crap in my lungs is almost gone, now, though, but my sinuses have started producing like crazy. I see changes in my illness as a positive sign. I am not racked by chills as much, although I still get them, and the hot flashes are also not as intense. However, whatever state I am in, it doesn't matter: I have to get up and walk to a pharmacy. I packed my very few prescribed meds -- most so unused I bet they have expired -- but only brought my travel amount of Advil. Well, that is gone now, and I have nothing to control the fever. Also, some food is running out. I promise not to exert myself and lug too much.

Up I go. It is sunny here. Nice neighborhood too, btw, all white 3-story tony row-houses, tons of them being remodeled.

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