Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Sentinels

I don't know about you but when I see something I'm not familiar with, I try and guess from context what it is or what it might be used for.

For instance, there is some construction going on near my office building and just the other day when out on my walk I noticed these strange dealies sitting ready to be included in the process somehow.

The logical part of my brain suggested that they looked like something that might be used in the foundations.
This was a pretty safe bet as they're just finishing up preparing the ground and are getting ready to lay the foundations.

The part of my brain that gets most of the votes on what to think about concurred on the foundations part but decided that they looked like dog kennels and that if someone was going to place dog kennels in the foundations of a building they would probably be placed at four points in the foundations and contain guardians, an act of sympathetic magic to protect the building being constructed.

Now these guardians could be of several natures:
  • Artificial. Made out of stone or other such materials and placed symbolically like Terracotta warriors to arise when needed.
  • Supernatural. Immortal creatures that can endure without sustenance or sunshine and whose presence provides a real occult protection which moves from passive to active if the property is under attack. Hopefully being confined underground, possibly for decades or centuries, wouldn't drive them insane otherwise demolition work would require superhuman effort and bravery.
  • Sacrificial. My least favourite, real dogs are placed within the kennels and entombed when they are inserted into the foundations of the building. The sacrifice of the living creatures  is a compact with the gods and is supposed to ensure that their spirits are bound to the building which they then vigorously defend.

 And these are the things I think about when out for a walk.

Makes sense to me.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Unhelpful Uncle

At a family gathering yesterday a few different people seemed to have things to say about our upcoming trip to Nepal.

One aunt was chatting away about a story she'd read in a weekend paper supplement about a guy who had spent a few months trekking around in the mountains of Nepal and who then had to spend 6 weeks in hospital recovering after he got home.

That was OK, we're not planning to be as high for as long or to push it like that fellow.

Then my uncle decided to chime in.
"I have to tell you that a woman I used to work with went and did this trek with a Canadian girl and the Canadian girl never made it back.
She died of Mountain Sickness.
They got her back to the Kathmandu hospital whilst she was still alive but she didn't pull through."

'I didn't need to hear that' I thought.

"Of course, she'd been having breathing difficulties for a while. Sounding all bubbly and wheezy.
But she kept saying 'it was only a little bit further' and refused to turn back.
And she was drinking alcohol the whole time.
And this was 20 years ago."

Thanks, unhelpful uncle.
So not only did she get Mountain Sickness (which I will forever hear in a 'Tales of Interest!' from Futurama voice) because she went against specific medical advice after experiencing symptoms of difficulty, she was drinking and not getting adequate rest or hydration etc.
And as it was 20 years ago they probably knew less about altitude sickness and if she was even part of a guided tour they probably weren't as rigorous about safety and First Aid Training and their guides (assuming they had any) won't have been trained in monitoring and treating the symptoms of altitude sickness and definitely won't have been carrying an inflatable decompression chamber.

So thanks for amping up the idea that I might die of 'Mountain Sickness!' for no reason :-/

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Alien Concepts

It feels like we're in a unique point in history and it's both intriguing and a little bit melancholy.

We've watched huge leaps in technological advancement being built on the achievements of the previous generations, each leap a little closer in time to the last and yet taking us further in concept each time.

This means that we're a generation more used to large changes to our lifestyle and our ways of thinking.

We've seen more of the elements of our science fiction favourites being brought into everyday life and have a better ability to predict what may be possible and to strive for what is on the edge of that possibility.

And all this means that we are able to look at our lives and experiences and predict what things are going to fall by the wayside and how quickly.

I might be incorrect but I get the feeling that even though our parents and grandparents knew that change was inevitable they still were taken a bit by surprise when things that they'd grown up with or used their entire adult lives were rendered completely obsolete within a matter of months or a year by a new development.

I know even for people my age it was a bit startling at first watching VHS getting superseded by DVD (with a brief bit of competition from HD DVD format), but as DVD is nudged in the back by Blu-Ray there's more of a 'ho hum, another one bites the dust' feeling.

Even as something new comes out now we know that it has a finite lifespan and that the new thing will be not far behind.
Whether the new thing will last or not is unknown but we know it's coming.


So in honour of that, here is a brief list of little memories that the next generation won't get to experience.

  • Doing Presentations Using Overhead Projectors. I don't know about you but I used to love doing these. When you were younger you were set loose with some special textas that wrong on the plastic projector sheets and had to very carefully try to write or draw as much of your presentation as possible onto your sheet so that you didn't look like that one weenie whose last sentence had to turn sideways down the side of the page.
    In university I got to have one last play with an overhead projector and printed a colour photocopy of an Italian Renaissance painting onto a sheet of clear plastic for an Italian Art and History class presentation. I spent an embarrassing amount of time holding it up to the light and just gazing through it from either side. It was like having my own very detailed stained glass window.
Overhead Projectors: They Are Cool
  • Get To Play With Cassette Tapes And All The Fiddling That Entailed. I mean really, think about all the experiences associated with cassettes.
    -Rewinding them and listening to that clunky 'click!' as they got to the end of the tape.
    -Winding them up with a pencil when they unspooled or if you were fiddling around.
    -Learning to listen to that moment of emptiness that signalled that it had got past the blank bit of tape at the start and you should start recording from this point onwards so that you didn't cut the start off your favourite songs.
    -Physically turning a cassette over unless you had a 'fancy' deck/walkman that did it for you.

    (I know these all sound like the things that old people go on about much to their grandchildren's chagrin but this is the point! We're getting to the nostalgia part of life about 30 or 40 years ahead of schedule!)
  • Going To The Video Store To Rent Movies. If video stores last another 5 to 10 years I will actually be a bit surprised. What with downloadable movie/TV series rental services already up and running, purchasing your own movies and so forth cheaper than it used to be and the high incidence of movie piracy that goes on amongst the social bracket that used to do all the renting because they couldn't afford to buy*, the profit margins must be getting pretty slim these days.
    But not having that experience of being given a time limit for picking movies, a SET number of movies that was NOT up for negotiation due to the deals the store was offering, and all the bargaining and arguing that went on with your siblings... Well where is the drama and the excitement with doing that from home?
    If you're sitting in front of the family computer with your Mum saying 'I'm only clicking one more item, which one is it going to be?', where's the fun in that?
  • Being Excited About Songs On The Radio. You can still get excited about your favourite songs coming on the radio but now that you can just go straight to Youtube or another online service and listen to any song you like on demand at any time, it just isn't the same thing.
    Waiting by your radio with your finger hovering over the record button to catch a song on cassette helped you develop lightning fast reflexes.

There are tonnes of other examples but these are the ones that have popped into my head which I felt met the criteria without straying too far into 'They won't remember telephones with cords' which is a different kind of deal.

It makes you wonder whether as we become more used to change going into the future whether our growing adaptability will be our biggest asset or whether it will lead us to be so flighty in our attentions and loyalties that we're going to shoot ourselves in the foot as a species.

I guess we'll see.

*This is definitely a big generalisation but the more bogan-y a person is the more likely it is that they're pirating movies.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

I Am An Idiot

Remember when my friend had her baby and I said I was going to do some stealth tidying for her?
Yeah, well it had some unintended consequences.

I ran around, did some dusting, tidied a few things up, ran the vacuum around... and pulled a muscle in my back.


Apparently due to the bending, twisting and pushing involved in vacuuming, vaccuming is a big ole back-muscle-pulling-danger-zone that is putting the children of healthcare professionals through school.

Especially if their patients are idiots.

OK, here's the timeline:

Saturday 14 July: Do speed vacuuming, pull a muscle without noticing - no really, I didn't feel a thing which I'm told is not uncommon - and don't start feeling achey for a few hours and assume I'm just tired.

Sunday 15 July: Wake up and 'achey' has progressed to 'my back muscles are wings of a prison and they are all in lockdown' also known as super-stiff.

Monday 16 July: Ring up and make an appointment to see the myotherapist on Tuesday (thankfully she had an appointment available that soon) and get through a day of work.

Tuesday 17 July: Work a half day, drive to my appointment, make sad face at the myotherapist who tortures me for money. Feel a LOT better.

Wednesday 18 July - Monday 23 July: Do the walking, stretching exercises and heatpack stuff I have been ordered to, take it easy and feel SO much better.

Tuesday 24 July: Get tortured again by the myotherapist who tells me that if the last bit of residual tightness across my lower back isn't gone in a week I'll probably need an adjustment from a physiotherapist because it'll mean that a join is out of alignment.

Wednesday 25 July - Friday 27 July: Continue being good and feeling better.

Saturday 28 July: Feeling so good apart from that last little bit of tightness that after my walk and heatpack stuff I decide to see if I can just stretch it out a little in case it's just being stubborn.




Sunday 29 July: Well done jackass, it's prison lockdown time again.

Monday 30 July: Appointment with physiotherapist (thank goodness she had one available so soon!) who tells me my sacroiliac joint was slightly misaligned which was why the muscles wouldn't settle and the tightness etc had persisted, then folds me up like a camp bed, puts her hand under my bum, pushes on my knee and realigns my misaligned bits. Everything feels looser.

Tuesday 31 July - Wednesday 1 August: Yay!

Thursday 2 August: Nope, the muscles that tightened up when I tried my stupid stretching trick are still tight enough that they aren't letting my back settle all the way down.

Friday 3 August - Sunday 5 August: Walking, heat pack, gradual improvement, tightness, blah.

Monday 6 August: Another appointment with the myotherapist who works me so hard that I'm sure I will get bruises on my bum but who leaves the muscles all loosened up and hopefully allows the joint alignment to settle the rest of the way.

In short, I am an idiot and have finally learned the 'do what you're told' lesson when it comes to injuries, especially when they involve your back.

Post Script [Wednesday 8 August]: Yep, little bruises all over my tushie, like a constellation in black and blue.

Post Post Script [Monday 13 August]: I just had another session with the physiotherapist who had another go at the joint and thinks it should be good now. Now just to stick to what I'm told and not think 'herp-a-derp I bet I can fix it if I just do this!'
If I had left well enough alone and just made the physiotherapist appointment for Monday 30 July it would have been done and dusted in two weeks instead of a month plus however long I need to be careful with myself to avoid re-injury.