July 1, 2016

Life continues to go on (, , , , , )

by fluffy at 12:28 AM

A summary for people who don't follow me on Twitter or Tumblr and have missed out on all of my GLORIOUS TALKING ABOUT MY LIFE:

  • Got rid of the Beetle, bought a new(!) Mazda3. It's a lot of fun.
  • Am getting better about driving on freeways again (it helps that the Mazda3 is so much fun to drive and has a bunch of safety features that make me feel way more comfortable with driving on the freeway)
  • Work is going great, except my wrists suck pretty bad and I haven't been able to draw or work on music very much
  • But work is trying to help me out and I'm taking two weeks off soon and if that's not enough I'll look into medical leave
  • For the first of those weeks I'll be in NYC for Song Fight Live, come see me at the Sidewalk Cafe NY on Sunday July 17! (probably, there's a small chance I might end up at the other show on the 16th instead but that seems unlikely, but the lineup as shown on the Sidewalk site is complete fiction right now)
  • Oh and accompanying me will be Spud (on bass) and Paul (on drums), and Paul is probably my oldest friend at this point (we go back to when we were like 12!) and we haven't performed together since a single what-were-we-thinking show back in (I want to say) 200...2? so that's pretty cool
  • One of my cats keeps on shitting on the carpet and I'm pretty sure it's Werner
  • Oh uh I finally came out to friends and family and coworkers and transitioned legally and changed my name and gender markers, I guess that's kind of big news?

November 26, 2015

This thing still on? (, , )

by fluffy at 1:17 PM

What's happened since June?

  • Album came out, sales were better than any other Sockpuppet album so far but still kind of disappointing
  • Started working with a couple of music placement agencies, but nothing's come of it yet (and I'm pretty sure the first one just took the money and ran, ugh)
  • The thing I'd been working on for a year finally shipped, and I changed teams to a more graphics-oriented R&D position
  • Gave up on trying to get my vinyl pressed via FeedBands, so I signed up for Qrates, where it's been one of their featured projects for quite some time (and I even got a nice note from them) but still isn't getting enough preorders to get made :(
  • My wrists still suck, and I haven't been working on comics. Except I have but it's been going very slowly.
  • I've been completely infatuated with Undertale since the day it came out
  • Still doing most of my blogging over on Tumblr.

April 17, 2015

Current wrist stuff (, )

by fluffy at 5:15 PM

So I'm in a lot of pain again and my usual techniques aren't working. So I had an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon today, and got the following feedback:

  • The Internet is wrong about tendinosis (among other things)
  • The forearm exercises I'm doing will be helpful, but only after I get proper physical therapy
  • There's more, better stretches I should be doing
  • Gentle, warm, self-massage: good. Massage therapy: bad.
  • While I might be in a lot of pain right now there isn't that much to worry about, and I just need to take it easier (but there's no particular reason to take a leave of absence just yet)
  • I should keep using software to enforce typing breaks, which is a really good idea; for some reason the surgeon had never heard of this before which is a little alarming...
  • Pretty much all hand/wrist therapy is "no better than placebo" so it's a matter of finding what works for one's individual pain

She gave me a much better splint for sleeping in, and scheduled a nerve study in case it really is carpal tunnel syndrome (but it probably isn't), referred me to a physical therapist, and left me feeling underwhelmed and meh. Hopefully the PT will help. I'm pretty much at my wits' end here.

August 28, 2012

Updates (, , , )

by fluffy at 12:48 AM

I guess it's been a while since I've posted, so here it is in brief:

  • Job is going pretty good so far. The way computers are set up now is very different than five years ago, so I was able to actually figure out a decent work setup that works well. Also, my coworkers are pretty excellent, and in particular I'm getting along well with one of the engineers who is an old friendly curmudgeon from Syria. I'm also getting a handle on the codebase quicker than I expected, and this team is way more laid-back than anyone else I've worked with.
  • My offer on the Firehouse 25 condo still stands, and I just accepted an offer on my condo in SF (whee). The offer I accepted wasn't as high as I was hoping for but it was still above my asking price and makes the timing work out really nicely (and my realtor pointed out that because of labor day and Burning Man I'm unlikely to get more offers in the next couple weeks anyway, and then that means it'll be sitting on the market for a while and that has a way of tainting things). I'm still making a decent profit on it anyway.
  • I got sick of not having any guitars with me and I figure I need a better 6-string acoustic, and Guitar Center is just up the street from where I'm staying, so I figured...
  • Werner is still going nuts, but hopefully he won't have to put up with this crappy apartment much longer.
  • The ISP situation in Seattle proper is pretty dismal. Looks like the only real choice right now is Comcast. Maybe Paul Allen will stop working on his urban-renewal vanity projects and start trying to establish a FTTH provider to improve the city that's already here. But I'm not holding my breath.
  • My wrists still suck, my butt still sucks, and I still have anxiety issues, but somehow life goes on.

July 12, 2011

Current wrist advice ()

by fluffy at 9:05 PM

It's been a while since I've posted anything about my wrists. I've mostly had them manageable, although my left wrist still hurts quite a lot much of the time. But based on a couple of people asking me specifically for what I've been doing for my wrists (hoping it would help them as well), here's some quick, non-professional, I-am-not-a-doctor-or-ergonomoist things I've found that help:

First, exercise with negative resistance is very helpful. Negative resistance is where you're working against a force (such as walking down a steep hill). The best device I've found for negative resistance on the arms is the Powerball gyroscopic exerciser; I got mine (which I'm very happy with) from NSD Powerballs, but there are a bunch of other ones on Amazon that I haven't tried. They're a bit hard to learn how to use at first but it's worth the effort.

Another important thing is to take typing breaks and to stretch during them. These days I use RSIGuard, which costs $65 (and has a 45-day trial). On Windows and Linux there's Workrave which is nearly as good (although it doesn't track actual usage/strain and its stretches aren't nearly as comprehensive or well-designed). The least-terrible free RSI timer I've seen for MacOS is TimeOut, although it's pretty bad (which is why I eventually broke down and bought RSIGuard). During these typing breaks is a pretty good time to use the Powerball.

July 2012 I no longer recommend RSIGuard on the Mac, as it's fragile due to some underlying design flaws (which mostly come down to its Windows and corporate-deployment legacy). Unfortunately there are some issues with Mac OS X which makes it difficult to make a properly-working typing break application (because of some strict "user-friendliness" issues when typing break software must be inherently unfriendly), but the application I use which is the least bad, all things considered, is BreakZ.

A good ergonomic setup is also very important. Most keyboards are way wider than they need to be (pushing the mouse further away than is really comfortable), and most keyboard trays suck badly. I use Apple's wireless keyboard and trackpad (which also work with Windows with a bit of effort, and also in Linux) and instead of a keyboard tray I use Ikea's DAVE laptop desk, which is nicely height-adjustable, easy to place in a comfortable spot, and pretty much stays wherever you put it. It's way better than any of the $300 professional keyboard trays I've used.

July 2012 I've been using a Filco Tenkeyless keyboard (a clicky one at work and a quieter one at home). It's only somewhat better than the Apple Wireless Keyboard, but every little improvement makes a big difference. The price is pretty off-putting, though. As far as a pointing device I've gone back to a normal scroll mouse, although I think that's been detrimental. I still haven't found a perfect pointing device.

Finally, when I sleep, I usually wear a wrist brace. I like ACE's TekZone ones; they're much more comfortable than any of the others I've tried, and are easy to adjust to be tight without being constricting. They're available on amazon although I'd recommend going to Walgreens or CVS or whatever so that you can size them properly.

Of course, I'm not a doctor or an ergonomist or whatever, so if you have access to a professional ergonomist definitely take advantage of it.

August 23, 2010

Reasons I like Apple (, , )

by fluffy at 7:50 PM
When I was en route to Chicago, the battery in my MacBook Pro began to swell, so bad that my touchpad stopped working and when I opened the battery cover, the battery popped out with a great deal of velocity. So I made an appointment at the nearest Genius Bar (which is annoying to have to do), and when my appointment came up (after a few failed checkins) I showed my quite-round battery to the Genius(tm) who immediately just gave me a new one for free, despite my MacBook being about a year out of warranty. It never hurts to ask nicely (although I was prepared to argue for it anyway).

Also, having previously been dissatisfied with a compact Logitech keyboard and a Wacom Bamboo Touch, I bought the Bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad, and while it's weird to spend $140+tax on a mouse and keyboard, these are actually quite comfortable, and I have them on a little Ikea lap desk and it's much more comfortable on my wrists than trying to put up with my horrible keyboard tray. Hopefully this will help a lot. Unfortunately, the lap desk is a bit thicker and squishier than I'd like, so I'll have to try a couple others out, but still, not a bad setup, and altogether costs way less than a proper keyboard tray (and a desk that can hold a proper keyboard tray).

July 2, 2009

TODO list for wrists ()

by fluffy at 5:17 PM
Things I meant to do after my checkup but got distracted:
  1. Make an appointment with the referred neurologist to get another nerve conductivity test
  2. Make an appointment with the referred orthopedic surgeon to get treatment options, including (hopefully) reputable massage therapists
Not wrist-related but other action items resulting from the checkup,
  1. Get the labwork done (fortunately that's a walk-in and I can do it before work on Monday)
  2. Make an appointment with the referred dermatologist for the skin cancer screening (my idea since I've been a bit concerned about a couple of moles lately)
  3. Also wasn't Walgreen's supposed to call me about my Albuterol prescription when it was ready? It's been well over an hour. I guess I can head over there now (grumble).

June 29, 2009

Carpal Tunnel 2: The Revenge ()

by fluffy at 10:30 PM
So back when I was 18 or 19 I started to develop wrist pain, and that led to full-blown carpal tunnel syndrome (pain radiating up both arms from my wrists, tingly fingertips, reduced grip strength, twitchy fingers, and so on). I got it more or less under control with a DataHand keyboard, but then with my first job out of college it came back full force and I quit and went back to grad school.

While in grad school I got the CTS under control thanks to massage therapy and a significant reduction in typing volume, but I was left with permanent tendon damage (which I later learned was most likely tendinosis). This tendinosis would continue to flare up now and then (every other year or so), but the carpal tunnel syndrome remained at bay.

Today my fingertips got numb again, and I'm showing all the signs of a resurgence of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Of course this would happen two weeks before an important musical event that I've been looking forward to for months.

Hopefully I can get it under control pretty quickly but my suspicion is that I will not be playing any non-drum instruments at SFRR (fortunately I already have a backup band partially lined up, so I guess the rhythm guitarist will simply be the guitarist), my posting frequency will diminish even more significantly, and I won't be able to do comics or music or the like (not that I've been posting music on my sites lately but I've been doing a few side projects). And of course I can't help but worry about, you know, my career. Basically, this really sucks.

Fortunately I have a two-week vacation coming up (starting with Song Fight Live) so maybe I can keep myself away from the Internet enough during that time to give myself time to heal again.

June 3, 2009

The state of the fluffy (, , )

by fluffy at 9:39 PM
I haven't been particularly posty over here, mostly because I haven't felt like talking about things going on in my life. So, in bullet list form:

January 9, 2009

A new symptom ()

by fluffy at 10:36 AM
Usually my left wrist is more painful than my right (which is the case currently), but lately it's my right wrist which sucks more. It's like my fingers don't want to move correctly sometimes, and sometimes my right thumb twitches involuntarily, like there's a nerve problem or something. I've been drawing a lot more than usual lately so that probably has something to do with it.

My grip strength is still excellent, though, and I don't have numbness in my fingertips, so it's not carpal tunnel syndrome (I did probably have CTS 10 years ago but since then most of my wrist problems have been more likely some form of tendinosis).

Man, why does biology have to suck?

For now I'll try mousing with my left hand, and maybe try to figure out a more ergonomic setup for my Wacom tablet at home (I'm not going to try drawing left-handed though).

June 17, 2008

NSD Powerball (, )

by fluffy at 11:43 AM
So, after an Ars Technica thread about dealing with RSI, I decided to order a Powerball, which arrived a few days ago. I played with it a few times but couldn't figure out how to get it going, until I searched Youtube and came across this useful video.

I got the Techno model which only shows your score after a certain threshold (which I haven't reached yet) but even without that, this thing is great. Just a couple minutes of it feels like I've been working out for hours, and I can barely move my arm afterwards from the muscle fatigue. It finally gives me something useful to do during my typing breaks (and it's certainly more fun than lifting dumbbells while watching TV).

Of course one has to be careful when using one in an office environment.

Hopefully this will finally help me get over my long-term wrist problems. I'm sure I'll keep everyone updated.

January 14, 2008

Still not under control ()

by fluffy at 3:27 PM
For the last month or so my wrists have been getting really bad again, and for some reason I've been in denial. Argh. I guess this is the same cycle I go through every few years. This time around I think it's a combination of bad ergonomics (my keyboard tray at work kind of sucks and I have no keyboard tray at home) and other stress factors.

In particular, over the last couple weeks I've been playing guitar and drawing a lot, which probably has a lot to do with it. Also I haven't been sleeping with my wrist braces for the last, oh, 6 months. So that's something I'm going to have to start doing again. Meh.

October 3, 2006

Dear fluffy, ()

by fluffy at 10:54 PM
There hasn't been a "Dear fluffy" in quite some time, but Chris just writes in with this:

Googling for leads on what's been plaguing me for the past six months brought me to your site, specifically this post:
I've been diagnosed with everything from tendinitis to deQuervain's to nerve damage in my neck with no luck so I still hunt for answers. Since your wrist posts seem to end after that one I'm very curious: did anything in that post work for you? Have you had any improvements or progress? Living with this, I sincerely hope you have


November 16, 2005

Computer keyboards suck (, )

by fluffy at 8:09 PM
Once upon a time, I had severe carpal tunnel syndrome. During this time I went to Hong Kong, and while I was there I discovered a copious number of small form-factor keyboards, which had minimal key travel and were narrow enough that I could keep my mouse at a reasonable location rather than having to either reach awkwardly for the mouse or keep the keyboard off to the side. Within a few months, these keyboards helped me to reclaim the sensation in my fingers. I bought several keyboards, and sold many of them to my computer scientist compatriots back in America, keeping two for myself.

One day I spilled a soda on one of them, and a few years later the other one wore out.

June 23, 2003

Wrists suck ()

by fluffy at 8:51 AM
As impossible as it would be, taking a month-long break from the computer seems really appealing right now.