Sunday, September 19, 2010

Greek Bearing G.I.F.T.

My friend Stella Unpronounceableadopolous and her husband Dr. Mensch came to visit a while back. Far enough back that I was flat on my back, still in the depths of ruptured disk-induce pain.

You should really see a surgeon Dr. Mensch said.

You should really meet my friend Silke Stella Unpronounceableadopolous said.

Since the surgeon had a four-week wait for an appointment but Silke was available that Tuesday, she got me first. She even made a house call.

Hello, I am Silke Silke said, arriving at our house exactly on time. Because Silke is German. A German-Immersed-in-Fitness-Training, aka G.I.F.T. May I take your picture?

At this point, I'd been MRIed, ultrasounded, and electro-stimulated. I wasn't about to be phased by something that can be done at any Kmart with a bad floral backdrop and a shag-carpeted hand rest.

So I let Silke the G.I.F.T take my picture. Actually, she took a bunch of them. Then she whipped out a clipboard and started taking notes on every aspect of my posture.

Which it turns out sucked.

My posture, I mean. Her notetaking didn't suck. It was immaculate. She is, after all, German.

And her Duetsche-ishly detailed and diligent denoting clearly revealed that somewhere along the way, I had become as crook-limbed as a contortionist flying coach class.

Luckily, Silke the G.I.F.T could offer more than a packet of peanuts and a complimentary beverage.

Because Silke the G.I.F.T gave me the gift of Egoscue.

(Pronunciation guide: Egoscue sorta rhymes with He toss shoe, appropriate enough given that my inability to tie my shoes had been leading me to toss everything from footwear to hissy fits for quite some time).

Egoscue is not some Eastern European method of torture smuggled out across the Alps.

It was actually smuggled out of San Diego. By Arnold Palmer.

And it's not torture. It's just postural alignment. Which you attain by doing a bunch of exercises with charming monikers such as Hooklying Gluteal Contractions and Frog Pull-overs.

Really, frog pull-over. The closest I'll ever come to my childhood dream of dressing in Garanimals.

(Not to be confused with my adult dream of decorating in animal print, which I am achieving quite admirably).

Silke the G.I.F.T. spent a couple hours teaching me my exercises, which she told me I had to do every morning.

Which I did.

And which--unlike the prescription painkillers, the steroid tapers, the over-the-counter NSAID, and the $1000+ worth of physical therapy--actually worked.

Four days later, I rode my bike twenty miles. Two weeks later, Silke the G.I.F.T came back to take more notes and give me new exercises. Then another week later, she moved back to Germany. But by that point, I'd been to see the surgeon but realized I was improved enough not to need to go under the knife.

Besides, Silke the G.I.F.T. left me in the hands of another Egoscue practioner. Who has been slowly but surely getting me back to a fully functioning back.

Moral of the story: if you didn't believe the American healthcare system is completely screwed up, ponder this: the warmth and sympathy of a German was the best thing that happened to me during this entire medical odyssey. This is not a concept that comes easily to members of my tribe.

But I suppose it's better to have one's simplistic associating of all things German with the Nazis ruptured than to have one's L5-s1 disk ruptured. Henceforth, I swear, I'll stop being so catty when it comes to Krauts.

Okay, maybe not. But at least I'm parodying with impeccable posture.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Descent from My iPhone

How in the hell can Apple sink so low?

No, I'm not talking about the kind of shit product releases that can be summed up in three words and one numeric symbol:

iPad=my bad

I am talking about the kind of shit morals that requires two freaking hours of masterful condemnation by a man who comports himself much like a Revivalist preacher with a cult following.

Except sweatier.

Of course the cult in question is ... well, let's just say I bit the fruit and now I've been cast out of Eden.

Not that sweat is inherently antithetical to Apple. I happened to require some customer dis-service at our local crApple store this week, and the pimply-faced staff were so sweaty the place smelled like a college dorm during Finals Week.

And people, I used to teach at Reed College, so I know from smelly students.

I suppose I shouldn't have been so judgmental of the mouth-breather behind the counter who was taking so damn long to help me. He was probably only mouth-breathing to avoid smelling his shiny, happy coworkers.

Although, given their perspiratory tendencies, maybe that should be sheeny, happy coworkers.

But still the sweaty man rang out his righteous indignation.

Except, actually, he's not a cult leader. He's a cult follower. And he knows you are too. And even though he spent those two hours telling you how freakin' evil the freakin' cult is, he doesn't actually ask you to leave it.

Just to email it.

Which, if you are like me, you will be doing from a burnished-silver keyboard annotated in VAG Rounded font.

Welcome to that very special case of self-hating ethnics, the morally outraged Apple user.

iWouldn't actually buy an iPad, because it is a stupid, purposeless product.

Not like my iPhone, which I bought because I needed to make and receive calls.

Which I can do on my iPhone.

On rare occasions.

If I'm not trying to call someone who also has an iPhone.

Case in point: my best friend's mother died, and I called to offer my condolences. But we both have iPhones. To make a long cancer-ridden death short, after we were cut off fifteen freakin' times, my friend finally Skyped to Chuck's cell phone--which, unlike my SmartPhone only has middling intelligence but which with the regularity of any idiot savant is able to make or receive calls any time the owner wants. All that, just so I could say the usual You may not be able to realize it now, but I promise, life goes on tripe of condolence, by which point it was moot since your iPhone not working is actually life going on. And on and on.

Oh, wait, I'm the one who's going on and on here. But not about what I meant to go on about.

Let's get back to the sweaty man.

He comes to Portland to tell us what's wrong with the world. Which was one thing when he was telling us how evil the President is when the President was George W.

But quite another one he is telling us how evil the President is when the President is Steve Jobs. As in president, or rather CEO, of Apple.

Which, as well all know, makes personal electronics that are to die for. We just didn't know how literally.

At least not until the sweaty man told us.

Now, I'm the sort of shmethically-driven consumer who won't eat a Hershey's Kiss for fear it's been produced using child labor.

But the thing about a Hershey's Kiss is, at least it works. What should I think knowing my iPhone, and all my other damn electronics, functional or not, have been produced with child labor?

Luckily, the sweaty man was there to tell me. In no Arid-Extra-Dry terms.

One thing you can say about Mike Daisey is that he is nobody's bitch.

Which makes him different than me.

Because once upon a time, I wrote a piece for Bitch magazine about the evils of worker abuse in Chinese factories.

And since Bitch has feminist response to pop culture right in the title, I figured it was a pretty safe bet to talk about how multinational corporation Viacom exploits factory workers in China, exposing them to lead and other chemicals, to produce cheap Dora the Explorer toys to sell to Americans.

Which promptly led to a helluva lot of hate mail to Bitch about me, from people saying I was racist for criticizing a Latina cartoon character.

Racist? Nope. Naive? Maybe. Because see, I expected people to give up their cheap slave-labor made toys.

Not like Mike Daisey. He says you can keep your iPhone. Hell, you can even watch Dora the Explorer on it. Just so long as you email Steve Jobs first, typing with however many thumbs you happen to have (hint: if you've been working at the Shenzhen factory that makes Apple products, it may be fewer thumbs than you started with), to tell him that you think anyone who's as big a genius as he is can probably figure out a way to get products manufactured that doesn't involve child labor.

Or even adult labor, if those adults happen to be laboring 80+ hours per week, and/or sleeping 14 to a ten foot by ten foot room in the company dorm.

Because really, Apple should leave the evil to those who do it best: Microsoft.