Category Archives: employment


Starting today, I am once again a wage slave.  But this time, only half a wage slave: my regular commitment is part-time.  As usual, I’ll be working from home, using our information infrastructure to work with colleagues around the world.

I think this should be an excellent arrangement: a regular income together with the freedom to undertake other tasks – paid or otherwise.  Including the magnum opus on which I’ve been doing quite a lot of work of late (but more on that subject in due course).  I hope I’m right about part-time working well for me, though only time will tell.

Today I have done some paperwork, grabbed some software from github, and spoken to my new boss.  I expect to do a lot of interesting work with that software in the coming weeks and months.

More to come, I’m sure.  But I have yet to discuss blogging with my new masters, so for the time being at least I’ll take the side of caution over saying anything more specific.


Heard an interesting program on back pain on the beeb[1], featuring some apparently-novel clinic whose mission is to help sufferers cope and alleviate their pain.  Most of what they were doing sounds very familiar from my own experience.  But what they didn’t say was how ignorance amongst non-sufferers can lead to decisions that make things cripplingly much worse than they need be.

I’m interested in this because I have a history of back pain going back to my teens, and the long daily journey on a ghastly school bus.  Maybe it’s because it came upon me so young that I’ve learned to manage it, so that nowadays I rarely suffer anything more than mild discomfort (though I am at risk when my posture is constrained, for example in a theatre seat, or anywhere my legroom is too badly blocked).

But dealing with back pain does have an impact on my lifestyle.  Most importantly, it’s a (maybe even the) major reason why I work from home, having suffered badly in office environments at various times in the past.  It also affects what I can wear (clothes and shoes cannot have tightness or pressure in certain places, and definitely no wristwatch), how and where I can sit or lie, etc.

On the plus side, some things I enjoy doing are positively helpful.  Cycling is great, probably because of the muscles that get exercised.  Carrying the right backpack helps, probably because it holds me to a good posture.  When I worked in an office and suffered serious pain, these were sometimes the only reliefs that kept me going, though at worst even cycling was difficult.

There is a critically important point that the program did not make.  We should have more public information, not just for sufferers themselves, but for people who hold power over them.  The worst possible thing in an office is a bad chair, but almost as bad are most office desks, and above all those marketed as computer desks/workstations.  That’s because they force the legs into unsuitable positions which cause rapid onset of serious pain.  Best is to sit not at a desk but at a table with ample legroom under.

An office manager who insists on furniture conforming to institutional norms can basically drive a back pain sufferer out of a job.  It’s happened to me, and I’m sure I’m not alone!

A lesser gripe is with those supermarkets whose trolleys have a coin-operated lock on the handle.  I can’t push a Morrisons trolley, because the lock forces the right hand into a totally unsuitable place and buggers up my posture.  Since Morrisons[2] is now my only local big shop, this is a real inconvenience.  I’ve tried complaining, but all to no avail: presumably there’s simply no appreciation that it might matter.

In other health news, my tennis elbow has mended to the point where it’s no longer a significant problem, just something I need to be aware of and avoid setting it off again.  But I’m still using a mouse left-handed!

[1] Tuesday, but I fell asleep before blogging it.

[2] When I moved here, it was a Safeways, and the trolleys were not encumbered with those infernal locks.