Slippery Elm

Posted by matthew on May 30, 2005 in health

One of the only good things about feeling unwell for a significant period of time is, of course, the feeling of relief when you have a good day. I caught myself saying to Lotte tonight “I feel so happy when I’m not sick”. She just laughed. But it’s really what I was feeling.

It’s all because of Slippery Elm. By last weekend I’d had enough of feeling nauseous all the time and was getting an increasing amount of indigestion too. It turns out that the uneasy stomach associated with this inner ear infection can result in gastric reflux. Great. So I decided to go off to the local Pharmacist and ask him what I should be doing about it. The answer was to take a strange substance called Slippery Elm after meals. It’s just the inner bark of a tree ground up. The stuff comes in capsules, which I just break open and mix into tea or aloe vera juice. It’s actually not all that bad tasting and man, it works. So if you’re ever feeling sick, look out for this stuff.


Finding Your Passion

Posted by matthew on May 24, 2005 in life, music, tv

I seem to be waning on the blog entry side of things. No excuses! Instead I’ll give a quick update on as many things as possible. First, the building work on our house continues apace. I can hardly believe that I have failed to document the entire process with pictures, but I’ll try to get some tonight. Of course, pretty much all there is to see now is a bunch of freshly painted walls looking extremely nice, but anyone who visited our place prior to the repairs should see the improvement. We’re both delighted with the quality of the work. They are clearly using very good quality materials and doing the hard stuff like the details as well as the more obvious stuff. They’re even repainting walls that didn’t need to be repaired at all so that everything matches exactly.

The weekend was quite relaxing. Lotte has been doing quite a few sleepover shifts lately while we save up for our trip, so Squigs and I had a couple of nights to ourselves towards the end of the week. I decided I needed to get a new game for the Xbox to while away those nights and went with a pre-loved copy of Medal of Honour: The Front Line on the recommendation of Thomas from Holland. Not a bad pick up for only $25 I thought, but I haven’t really had a chance to play for long yet. I’d like to try it in multiplayer mode but I doubt it would compare to BF 1942 (which rocks on the new iMac G5, by the way).

We went to lunch at Mum and Dad’s on Sunday. It was really great to see the famdamly and as a bonus Gran and Uncle Dave were there. Uncle Dave is the funniest uncle ever, I think, and he never fails to crack me up. It’s always fun to see Lotte’s reactions to his jokes because I know she’s thinking about the our particular family’s brand of humour. Anyway Lotte had to go to another sleepover shift and I had some time to kill before going to see the Cairo Club at Mayfields, so I went and saw an early evening showing of Star Wars III. The reviews are right. It sucks slightly less than the other two prequals. That’s about all I can say about it though. The lego version of the Star Wars characters are more human than these cardboard cut outs if you ask me. It’s just so disappointing. I’d vote for Ron Moore to remake the entire series if I could.

Speaking of which, I am really starting to miss Battlestar Galactica. I’ve tried to keep myself occupied by reading the Battlestar Blog (minus the spoilers) and watching the series again as it went to air. I even read Philip K. Dick’s The Simulacra, which I expected to be a good sci fi novel about human identity. It was not. It was a load of complete and utter drivel that I cannot believe is written by the same guy who came up with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which of course was adapted to become Blade Runner. I’ve read a few works now by Philip K. Dick, and some of them weren’t great, but none were as impressively ridiculous as this one. Does anyone out there have recommendations for better stuff by him? I’ll be interested to see the film version of A Skanner Darkly. It’s a pretty short story so I’m wondering how they’ll get a full feature movie out of it actually.

The plot summary of A Scanner Darkly says “Caustically funny, eerily accurate in its depiction of junkies, scam artists, and the walking brain-dead, Philip K. Dick’s industrial-grade stress test of identity is as unnerving as it is enthralling.” Yeah, maybe it’s eerily accurate because apparently one of my favourite sci fi authors was not unknown to illegal substances himself. That helps to explain why an awful lot of the character development in The Simulacra is along those lines. It’s not that it’s not accurately written, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to add much to the story. And there are so many little ideas that just don’t get followed up in the plot that it feels like a lot of things are happening but there just aren’t any real consequences. Even by the end I couldn’t really figure out who the main protagonists were let alone start feeling any kind of empathy for them. I’ve never gotten to the end of a novel before with the feeling like I hadn’t gotten to the main story yet. Maybe I’m just missing something. I’m sure I’ve just offended a lot of hard core sci fi fans, but maybe someone will explain why I’m wrong.

One thing that I must start writing more about here is the theme that seems to link a lot of my interests together: identity. I’ve noticed that this is the real area that interests me about my thesis, and the related themes about performance, constructing the self, subjectivity, and ontology are really just ways of investigating “the big issue” for me. Gameplay and educational issues like authenticity are definitely of less importance in terms of my interest. That’s weird I think because I’m an educational designer who loves games. I’ve mentioned that Blade Runner (whose main theme is human identity) is my favourite movie, and that BSG gets me for exactly the same reason. The same thing with Total Recall (another Philip K Dick remake as it happens). Clearly I’m not alone in finding this theme of identity compelling, but I do find it interesting to notice that my academic interests have come around to it as well. One of the things that Paul Gruba (co-author of Writing A Better Thesis) says is that you really need to take notice of where your passion lies. Well, I can’t write my thesis about Lindy Hop or cricket, so I guess this will have to do.


A challenging week

Posted by matthew on May 19, 2005 in health, life

No blogging for a few days from me. Sorry about that. I seem to have been a bit to preoccupied with being dizzy to blog, and it all just seemed like more of the same, so I didn’t bother. Basically the story for the past few days has been the same — mild nausea and dizziness with occasional bouts where it becomes too difficult to walk/work/do anything. I went home from work on Tuesday and just had to sleep. Last night I didn’t have any symptoms until about 9.30pm, when I started to feel bad, and I just went to sleep early. Woke up feeling okay at 8am. The rest of the morning wasn’t so great, but I’m feeling mostly better again now.

Meanwhile the builders continue to cause havoc, but are progressing quickly. They’ve now put ducting under the house and today seemed to be shaping up to paint our newly repaired hallway wall. This is a very good sign because it hopefully means that there will be less dust around the place — no more sanding back the new plaster. Until they start work on the other walls at any rate. Lotte picked a good time to have two night shifts because yesterday the dust was all the way to the back of the house (including completely covering one of Lotte’s red shoes, turning it white).

Yesterday after some relationship troubles Ursi booked herself on a flight home to Zurich. It was sad to hear that she was leaving early, and when I responded to her message we arranged to meet up for a coffee to say goodbye. Unfortunately Lotte couldn’t come because she was at work. Anyway she was in reasonable spirits — quite philosophical really, and we talked about meeting up again in Herrang. She’s still deciding whether she’ll come back and study here next year. I hope she does.

With one thing and another this has been a challenging week for us and a lot of our friends. The Swede went in for surgery yesterday on her hip. I spoke to her last night though and she was doing really well. Sounds like the surgery was a big success, but only time will tell for sure. I hope next week will be a better one for everyone.


Goddank voor het winkelwagentje

Posted by matthew on May 14, 2005 in health

Thank goodness for the shopping trolley. That’s what Lotte said as we left the Barkly Square shopping centre car park. Something about that shopping centre sets off my labyrinthitis, I tell ya. That’s the third time I’ve had a dizzy attack there this week, and this one was the worst. I literally had to wheel myself around with the shopping trolley. Then I bailed and just sat it out on a chair outside Coles while Lotte finished shopping. We came home and I took a Stemetil (an anti nausea drug) and slept for an hour. I still feel like crap now. What a crazy party animal I am sitting at home at 7.30pm on a Saturday night in my jammies.

Last night was a different story. Again I didn’t notice any real ill effects of dancing when we went to the Fun Pit. I definitely wasn’t dancing at my best, but I didn’t feel dizzy or nauseous. I did feel tired towards the end of the night though. I have this theory that my brain works overtime trying to keep me in balance and it tires me out.

On a cheery note Dory just called and invited us to breakfast tomorrow morning. Last week we did the same and it was really a lot of fun so I am determined to be right by then. The dizzy spells only ever seem to go for a short while anyway. Maybe an hour or two at the outside. Sometimes they are no more than 15 mins long. Also Ursi textmessaged Lotte to ask after me. Awwww.


Sea Legs

Posted by matthew on May 13, 2005 in health, life

This ear thing is really not a lot of fun. Just when I thought I was feeling really great I had a pretty bad afternoon. This morning I woke up and felt absolutely fine, with no symtoms at all. I got through till around midday before I started feeling bad. I probably had about half an hour of feeling like crap before I cae good again. Then Lotte and I met up for lunch and just before we got there I started feeling bad again. It’s really hard to describe the feeling. It’s a bit like you’ve been away on a ship for a week and you’re trying to find your land legs again. On top of that every now and then there’s a big swell. Only problem is, nothing is actually moving! My stomach feels constantly on the edge while this is happening and I get this sensation of being out of control. If I’m walking, I feel compelled to immediately slow down and have to fight the feeling to continue walking at all.

For the past couple of days I’ve also felt a dull headache that goes all the way up the back of my neck to the crown and behind my right eye. I decided this was one thing I could try and fix and booked in for a neck massage with our favourite massage therapist, Bernie. He is a true pro, and concentrated entirely on the magic spot in the right side that was sending a shaft of pain along the exact path of my headache. So now at least my head feels a little better.

On a positive note, last night was my first try at dancing since Monday, and I found I was able to dance with absolutely no feeling of dizziness whatsoever. It really seems as though the dizziness is not related to what I’m doing at all. In fact I seem to be more likely (or maybe I notice it more) to suffer a dizzy spell when I’m sitting down for a while. I reckon I’m also more likely to start getting the spells when I’m feeling tired, which makes sense too. Until I start feeling better I am going to try to rest up as much as possible. But I am going to try dancing again tonight.


Permission to dance

Posted by matthew on May 11, 2005 in dance, health

I’ve been doing some reading about labyrinthitis and all the advice I’ve seen tells me that I should now be getting back on my feet and moving.

For example, the Vestibular Disorders Association website:
If treated promptly, many inner ear infections cause no permanent damage. In some cases, however, permanent loss of hearing, ranging from barely detectable to total, can result. Your doctor will be able to advise you about the usefulness of hearing aids in your individual case. Permanent damage to the vestibular system can also result. Fortunately, the brain can adapt to damage to the vestibular system, particularly when the damage is partial and/or confined to one side. This adaptation may take days to months, depending on how severe the damage is and how quickly the body is able to recover from the infection. Symptoms of dizziness, difficulty with vision, and imbalance may persist as long as the adaptation is incomplete. This adaptation can only occur if the patient makes an effort to keep moving around despite the symptoms of dizziness and imbalance. Sitting or lying with the head still, while more comfortable, can prolong or even prevent the adaptation process, and should be avoided if at all possible once the worst of the infection is over.

I take this as my permission to dance. I’ll have a rest night tonight, but tomorrow I’ll be teaching again. Unfortunately I am still experiencing the dizziness today and it can be quite offputting, but it sounds like it’s not a good idea to just stop alltogether. Suits me. I find it boring to sit at home anyway. And I feel absolutely fine apart from the nausea and dizziness.


Fletcherising in Cairo

Posted by matthew on May 10, 2005 in dance, music

I’ve been thinking a lot about a 20s – early 30s themed dance night at MLX this year. The main reason of course is the continuing evidence that Peter Milley’s 10 piece Cairo Club Orchestra is one of the most engaging and talented swing era bands playing in Melbourne. On top of that, we have never actually heard CCO play at MLX, and there is an increasing interest in big band music from an earlier era — particularly that of the early 1930s. The downsides of such an idea are few, but one of them is that many dancers find the tempos of the hotter stomps and charlestons to be too difficult, and the durges are too slow for some people. So it’s this feeling that the night could be frustrating for some dancers.

My first thoughts are to try to talk to Milley about the idea of tailoring a song list for Lindy Hoppers. We usually do that anyway when hiring a band for MLX. But then I got to thinking about the idea of asking if he would consider looking for arrangements of particular tunes that I know the dancers would go for. The trick is that the line up CCO uses is very consistent and almost always includes a banjo, giving the band that very particular Charleston/dixie feel that only a banjo can. I know that they use a guitar sometimes though. And maybe their banjo player can also play guitar, or they can use another guitarist on certain arrangements.

Anyway in my fantasy world they would transcribe or find arrangements for the Fletcher Henderson classics like Big John’s Special, Christopher Columbus, Wrappin It Up (The Lindy Glide), The Sugarfoot Stomp, The Henderson Stomp, and The Moten Stomp. These are all particular favourites of mine. I’d also be interested in talking to him about some Chick Webb and Jimmie Lunceford stuff of course, but I don’t know if they would go for it. Webb’s Strictly Life, Go Harlem and (oh my) Harlem Congo, and Lunceford’s Four or Five Times, Lunceford Special, Tain’t What You Do, Harlem Shout and For Dancers Only would all be great. Food for thought.


The swizzle

Posted by matthew on May 9, 2005 in health

One ingredient turned out to be more important than all of the others in that recipe. The swizzle. Turns out I have viral labyrinthitis, which explains why I was feeling so crap this morning. Basically it’s extreme dizziness and nausea caused by a virus getting into your inner ear. It got worse after I posted, and I had a bunch of dizzy spells over the weekend so it all fell into place when the doc peered inside my ear canal. I can’t work like this. I have felt ill all day and dizzy for most of it. So it’s off home (or somewhere) to rest, a course of antibiotics, and anti-nausea drugs for a couple of days.


Recipe for extreme sleepiness

Posted by matthew on May 9, 2005 in health, life

1 Friday night dance night (5am or later)
1 Renovation preparation box-moving exercise (start 10am or earlier)
1 Saturday night birthday party (4am or later)
1 Breakfast with friends (start 10 am or earlier)
1 Contact improvisation class (2 hours or more)
1 Mother’s Day family meal
1 Host film premier with extremely fast dancing involved (12 am or later)
1 Early morning commencement of renovations (7am start)

Take all of the above and stick them together in one weekend. Garnish with the remains of a cold and swizzle.


That twenties feeling

Posted by matthew on May 8, 2005 in dance, music

Tonight was the premiere of the SwingCity DVD. The band was the Cairo Club Orchestra, and we’ve just arrived home tired and aching and covered in sweat. Cairo Club is an authentic 20s dance band, and there really is nothing quite like it in Melbourne. They play charts you won’t hear anywhere else, like ‘My Canary Has Circles Under His Eyes’ and a really beautiful version of ‘The Mooch’, which remains one of my favourite songs. The quality of the band is such that every soloist is compelling without dominating the arrangments. I also absolutely love the trumpets in this band, of which the bandleader Peter Milley is the lead. They always amaze me with their precision, and they make a lot of use of mutes, which I always love.

The DVD went down very well, and we finally have our first batch of re-authored DVDs (i.e. without the sound glitch in the first run). It’s satisfying to see it on the big screen and hear people laughing and joking in the audience. Naturally we talked all night about what we were planning for this year’s event. We’re officially excited again. It always takes a long while.