Creaking Along

June 14, 2011

These last few months I’ve been suffering from aches and stiffness in my back and neck. No mystery as to why: although I probably spend far less time at a keyboard than I used to when I was working full time, these days instead of sitting in my nice adjustable chair with everything set up along ergonomic principles by the Safety Elves, I’ve been working at my (gasp!) laptop on a (shudder!) kitchen chair, in whatever room happens to be warmest at the time and that turns out to be the recipe for pain and suffering. Unfortunately, although I do actually have a desk and could get a chair and a separate screen and keyboard for my laptop and I could occasionally listen to my mother and sit up straight instead of hanging on the small muscles of my back, the fact is, I know I’m not going to do any of those things because the desk is currently in the coldest room of the house. Whatever I might do in the summer (and when the summer comes, could you let me know? I’ll be under the duvet with a hot water bottle and may not notice), come the winter I’ll be working in the kitchen anyway and there’s no room in there for half an office.

So an alternative was needed. I tried standing at my computer, which a lot of people swear by but I found it a bit hard on the feet and also surprisingly difficult to concentrate – my brain is conditioned to only working while I’m sitting down, it seems, which may explain a lot. I’m looking into finding an Alexander Technique teacher, but that’s a long term proposition, and my neck and back were getting worse, to the point where only a night on Babymother’s futon brought any relief, a somewhat impractical proposition given that she lives about 400 miles away.

Fortunately, my physiotherapist, who doubles as my mother, had a more practical suggestion. For the last three weeks or so I’ve been working at my computer sitting cross-legged on the floor, with the laptop at eye level on the coffee table. It’s not perfect – the keyboard is too high – but it’s better than the old arrangement. Sitting on the floor makes me sit up straight and it’s also less tempting to spend hour after hour in front of the keyboard than it is in a chair, which may, thinking about it, be how it works.

There is one tiny flaw in the ointment. My mother assured me that after a while my knees and hips would get used to the position and that I would soon be able to spring up from the floor instead of having to straighten myself s-l-o-w-l-y a-n-d c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y all the time fully expecting some important part, like a leg, to fall off if I move too fast. So far, there’s no sign of this and I’m beginning to think that sitting cross-legged on the floor is one of those new tricks that my 42-year-old knees aren’t going to learn too quickly. So far, the stiffness wears off reasonably quickly although I have had a few comedy moments from trying to walk on legs that have gone to sleep. And on the whole the back thing was more worrying than the leg thing and no bits have actually fallen off to date. So I’m going to persevere with this for a little while. But I would ask you that if you’re in a position to phone me, you give me plenty of time to get to the damn thing to answer it…

Oh, and if you’ve got Safety Elves in your place of work, be nice to them and actually listen to their advice. Because it turns out they do know what they’re talking about after all.


Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My

December 20, 2010

We’ve had a glorious day’s walk along the Arkansas river today but – sunshine, warm December days and mountain views notwithstanding – signs like these:

Make me quite glad our rural hazards are generally a little tamer.

UPDATE

The other half would like it on the record that he thinks Britain would be vastly improved by the addition of mountain lions.


Caution Contains Nuts

June 12, 2009

It’s comforting to know that however far you may roam

Caution! Contains Sheep

Caution! Contains Sheep

And however secure you may feel

Caution! Contains pollen

Caution! Contains pollen

Messrs Health ‘n’ Safety have got there before us to assess all the dangers and point them out to us,  sometimes with little pictures:
health_n_safety1 health_n_safety2 health_n_safety3

Even the ones we might reasonably expect to have handled before

aieee

And yet, amazingly, they let us out to cross the road – and drive home – without any warnings at all.

(all images taken from one not-very-dangerous heritage site – by no means the worst offender. And that wasn’t even all of them…)


Licensed to Strim

August 15, 2008

So I was chatting with a man about volunteering opportunities and he mentioned in passing that – if someone was to commit long term – he’d even be prepared to send them on a course to get their strimmer licence. Now, I can see the need for a chainsaw licence, and a driving licence and even a tv licence (although hello? BBC? We’re paying up and we’ve not had either of your fine channels for three days now. Are we the only people on the planet who haven’t access to the olympics?) but a strimmer licence? What the hell – short of ‘don’t wear flip-flops’ and ‘don’t try to strim the dog’ – can the training course consist of? I’m almost tempted to sign up to find out – I’m hoping for competitive strimmer racing, strimmer slaloms, artistic strimming interpretation to classical music, maybe even special strimming events for the people who didn’t do so well on lesson 1 and have strimmed off their feet. It would make up for not getting the olympics. But I’m guessing they just say ‘don’t wear flip-flops and don’t try and strim the dog and that will be fifty quid please.’ It’s the last part that makes it official.

So please, please, please, provide me with your anecdotes of terrible gory life-changing strimmer accidents in the comments so I am not forced to go all Daily Mail on you and declare:

it’s health’n’safety gone mad.


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