Twothousand Fourteen Health

It’s actually pretty cool to be sick in 2014. Not like the early naughts, the nineties, or — I presume — before that. Technology has made being not all upright a pretty easy and enjoyable (within the framework of, you know, being sick) affair.

My doctor emails me and responds to my inquiries via the same. He’s on Hangouts if I really need something quick, pops off when he’s off work, and can — in those cases where it’s warranted — initiate a quick video Hangout. My prescriptions are coded onto my health card, one swipe at the pharmacist’s and I get what I need, no chickenscratch accidents. If one of my renewals runs out I can SMS or email the lady in charge at the hospital and she’ll renew me, right there, while I wait at the pharmacy. I book my appointments online, my calendar gets an automatic sync and Google Now reminds me when to leave to be there in time.

Something like a three day fast can be researched from the comfort of my own office, the best resources marked and tagged in Google Stars for reading on the train.

A quick Google search and I am a member of three communities of people dealing with the same issues. Worst case I could find the appropriate Subreddit or even ask on Quora.

Detractors claim this takes away from the human contact. False, I say. I spend less time in solitary confinement inside waiting rooms and more time speaking to my caregivers and people like me. I miss no appointments and a coded health history and prescription record helps my pharmacy to have a chat with me about supplemental things and remedies. Because I found my doctor via a recommendation engine I have someone I trust completely that makes me feel cared for. The system knows I am no friend of faith healing or faith in general and abhor the abomination upon thinking homo sapiens that is homeopathy and other quack remedies of its ilk. It recommended accordingly, a fact that makes it easier to speak freely with my medical counterparts.

It’s not just being able to play Leo’s Fortune while waiting to have needles stuck into me. But it helps.

Sentiment – made simple by looking at Internet comments


A Google Executive is found dead on his boat after having been injected with heroin by a call girl. She fled the scene without calling for help and was caught after cops analyzed the security camera footage on the boat.

Right leaning commenter:

This shows, once again, the decay of moral values in the United States. A good Christian man would have been at home with his wife and children and would not have been on a boat with a prostitute doing drugs. If he’d been a Good Christian-America[tm] this would not have happened.

Left leaning commenter:

This illustrates clearly the failure of US drug policies. If drug use were not illegal she would have gone to fetch help. It’s the criminalization of drugs that leads to deaths.

German commenter:

Typical. She got caught because he violated her rights to privacy by filming her. This so clearly demonstrates that Google and its employees are nothing but troopers in a surveillance  apparatus. Did you expect anything else from Google?

2014-07-17 10_31_26-Callgirl soll Google-Manager umgebracht haben

Why a Female Thor is absolutely a-OK

… and why it has nothing to do with 21st century gender sensibilities.

When Marvel announced the next version of its iconic Thor would be female, the (nerd-)world imploded. Half found it amazing and a great gender awareness move, half seemed appalled that Marvel took liberties with a beloved comic figure, historical mythological creature, and religious symbol.

Thor battling Jörmungandr

Some defenders of the move approach this from the “likeness but not representation” side, which is — frankly — idiotic. If Marvel used a male version of Mother Goddess Parvati, complete with name and live-in love life with another male god named Shiva, no one would presume it just being inspired by Hindu mythology. It’s a gender-swapped Parvati, simple as that.

Some of the offended point at Thor’s qualities, his “male” traits, violence, honor, that stuff. Which is — even more so than the defense above — idiotic. Mythology (even within Norse) and history has many female violent, honorable, torn, ignorant, and duty-bound to a fault characters. One only needs to look as far as Thor’s mother, Fjörgynn (Hárbarðsljóð 56 and Völuspá 56), who is both Earth personified and had a brief relationship with Thor’s father, Odin, and (as Fjörgynn, Gylfaginning 9, and Skáldskaparmál 19, Lokasenna 26) the father of Odin’s wife Frygg.

Both arguments are tractionless within the framework of Norse mythology, however. Unlike Christianity and many other mythologies, Norse embraced the impossibilities and grandstanding of its stories. Few Norse actually “believed” in Thor, Odin, Frigg, or Loki, and instead viewed the stories of Æsir and Vanir as just that — great stories, meant to convey a deeper meaning upon which humans built their own brand of morality.

Thor dressing in a bride’s outfit to travel to Jötunheimr with Loki, impersonating Freya.

Snorri Sturluson opens his Prose Edda with this explanation, that humans who once won wars were venerated and eventually became gods in the stories told around the hearths and campfires of their people. Whom better to take it from than the man who essentially developed the image of Thor used in Marvel’s comics?

Even outside Snorri’s intro there’s ample evidence that to the peoples of the Viking age the gods and goddesses of their stories were fantastical figures with no claim to realism. The storytellers of old freely wove in Roman, Greek, Baltic, Slavic, and Celtic attributes and story elements, turning the whole Norse pantheon into a source of inspiration and fables meant to convey meaning, not reality. While it is true that the Temple at Uppsala saw its fair share of human sacrifices to Odin, many mythographers argue that these sacrifices were more to an idea than a manifest god.

In “Stargate” Thor is an Area 51-looking genderless alien, few complained about that one.

In a sense then Marvel’s comics are closer to the reality of Viking era storytelling than the idea that Thor or other Norse gods have a definite personality or gender. The comic book artists of today follow in the footsteps of Norse storytellers who used the loose framework of a divided universe and familiar name/place combinations to create stories that inspired, invigorated, and suggested specific modes of interaction with the world around the listener. Thor, Loki, Odin, Frigg, Njord, and others were convenient and well known antagonists and protagonists (the latter more than the former), comic book heroes in the hands of crafty tellers of tall tales.

Let’s celebrate the fact that — while the message changes — the tools remain the same. It fills me, as a convicted follower of Norse morality, with pride and hope when the devices that informed the lives of many Norsepeople before me will still be used to further the ideas that should be common sense – from gender equality to the fact that sometimes you need to swing a hammer and smash someone’s head in, no matter your chromosomal makeup.

Getting Personal

This morning I went to see the doctor, which — considering my advanced age — is never a bad idea. The long and short about it is that there are a few indications in a small batch of first tests that I might be suffering from a case of malfunctions of my originally issued genetic code sequences.

I’m not going to holler the C-word just yet given there’s still a battery of tests to be done, a number of things to be checked, and experts to be consulted, but I’ll be spending some quality time in sterile rooms … again. The good news is, it’s 2014 and everyone has a smart phone, so I won’t be bored.

I’ve stared down the Reaper before, I can’t fathom it’ll be any different this time. But in the meantime I think I’ll endeavor to have some fun with this. After all, googling for “Cancer Fun” doesn’t autocomplete. All you get is “fundraising,” which isn’t what I am concerned about in this, medically and socially advanced, country. Maybe food and wine pairings? Does a 2012 Domaine de Terrebrune and Poulet de Bresse go well with colon cancer? How does a William Larue Weller Bourbon (the 10yr) pair with testicular cancer? Something like that.

Standing Desk Part II: Return from the Outskirts

Not having a car is pretty much a non-issue in this town. Within the city limits I am doing public transit, throughout the rest of the country it’s trains and the odd cross-country bus ride. All in all this costs me a flat $6000/year, roughly 60% of the cost of a car, gas, insurance, parking, and vehicle fees and taxes would. If I need a car, there are six (yes, six) car share companies I have access to, one even included in my $6k with only gas and mileage coming extra.

This works for all places. Except, until recently, IKEA. Luckily there’s now a tram and bus connection so I could go and execute Step Two of the Standing Desk adventure.

You may remember this as the first standing desk prototype using Modernist Cuisine and boxes.

Since last we spoke, Version One bit the dust. Almost literally, in a cloud thereof, surrounded by pain and screams when the whole thing came crashing down onto my socked feet – ’twasn’t the genius contraption I’d hoped it to be.

Enter version two. V2.0 isn’t at all my doing. It’s one of those “genius hack” recommendations floating ’round the web using IKEA parts against their intended use – namely a wall mounted (book) shelf and a small table.

Only problem here is: those were last year’s US items. No such luck in Germany. A little tinkering later, however, I managed to assemble something that worked.
Continue reading “Standing Desk Part II: Return from the Outskirts” »