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Star Wars
By MillMan (Mon Jun 09, 2014 at 05:53:54 PM EST) (all tags)
since it's been a long time.

Recap -

  • Finished the motorcycle trip at the end of 2012.
  • Screwed around for several months.
  • Went to Europe for a bit.
  • Spent the summer of 2013 in a sublease in SF, looking for a job (both technical and massage), had no luck.
  • Moved back down to San Jose.
  • Did the "advanced program" at my massage school, from October of last year to the end of April this year.
  • Got a job as a massage therapist a month ago.

It took me a long time to find a job as a massage therapist. Long enough that I was genuinely scared that it wasn't going to happen, and with the savings dwindling, I set an end date after which I was going to move back home to Minnesota to regroup. That would have been good in some respects, but terrible in most. The first half of this year was rough.

My job doesn't really pay the bills, but it almost pays them, which is a lot better than no income. If I'm able to run my own practice in a few years I'll be able to live off about 15 hours a week of work. That's living pretty cheaply, but still. And yes, even in the bay area.

For now I'm just starting to look for a 2nd job, and that was planned as I knew I wouldn't be making enough out of the gate. It would be nice to do something tech related, but given that it will have to be part time and I'd like to avoid corporate stuff, I have no idea what it will be.

This is where I am a little bummed that comp sci didn't make sense for me back in college. You still have to land the jobs of course, but versus engineering gigs it's an order of magnitude more flexible in terms of part time work, short term contracts, working remotely and from home, and plugging in to already extant teams. A six month contract doing what I used to do would net me two or two and a half years worth of living expenses, but they don't exist from what I can tell.

There are definitely growing pains at work. Out of three massages one will go really well, one will be ok, and one will go poorly (in terms of their response). The massages that go poorly are hard to deal with. Unlike engineering there is no easing in to the work. I tend to work in one specific way and for those who don't like that style it tends to not go well, so I am trying to learn different approaches and how to read what clients want (usually you can just ask them, but that doesn't always work).

That said I really enjoy the work, and it's good for me mentally. That's why I chose it along with the potential for working far less hours. Even at $franchise_spa it's low stress, no boss telling me what to do, and I can set whatever hours I want.

While in the advanced program I got into nerve-biased manual therapy and pain science in particular. Pain science is pretty fascinating in that our current best model of pain is 15 - 25 years old and it is extremely poorly integrated into medicine, much less physical therapy, massage therapy, or chiro (which I now hate with the passion of 1000 suns, maybe you saw my rant about it on bookface a few weeks ago).

It also turns out that manual therapy can't do much more than convince the nervous system to relax muscles and downregulate pain - either through placebo / non-specific effects and (maybe) helping entrapped nerves untrap themselves. You can't press on someone really hard to get rid of knots or "soften" tight muscles. You can do that with dead tissue by tenderizing it with a hammer - you can't do it with living tissue, not without destroying it in the process. This is pretty much sacrilege, and like everything else in a society / culture there are multiple levels of inertia that keep the dominant model in place.

Anyway in the long run it would be cool to have my own practice teaching people pain science and doing some minimally invasive massage to go along with it - something like a light version of what good physical therapists do. There are a ton of pretty difficult steps I will have to take to get there, but it's a worthy goal.

< Hooo boy | trivial diary entry >
an update | 20 comments (20 topical, 0 hidden)
Ooh by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #1 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:37:10 AM EST
You could market yourself as the anti-woo model of massage therapy!

What is the sort of clicky sensation in my shoulders when I get a massage then? Simply stuff moving again with more relaxed muscles?

sounds by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 12:15:34 PM EST
I have no idea. You CAN move "stuff" around, you just can't deform it manually. If your muscles have relaxed / lengthened during the massage you'll probably have greater range of motion in your shoulders, so you're going to be stretching and squishing the inert structures more than usual.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
A question by lm (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 08:59:49 AM EST
As someone who is completely unread in the literature of the field, I don't understand this statement: ``You can't press on someone really hard to get rid of knots or "soften" tight muscles.''

It sure seems to me that this is exactly what happens when I use my foam roller or lie down on top of a golf ball to put pressure on specific places in my back and shoulders that are tight. If this isn't pressing really hard to get rid of knots, what is it?

Kindness is an act of rebellion.
if softening is occuring by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #4 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:59:16 AM EST
it means the foam rolling is stimulating your nervous system to relax your muscles. The muscles are entirely a puppet of the nervous system.

In addition fascia can't be deformed with forces that humans can generate on their own:

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
chiro question by marvin (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 11:57:33 AM EST
or chiro (which I now hate with the passion of 1000 suns, maybe you saw my rant about it on bookface a few weeks ago)
No facebook, although I'd be interested in reading it. I don't subscribe to the loopy "chiro will fix everything" viewpoint, but when something in my spine is painfully out of alignment, a quick crunch makes it better. I might visit a chiropractor once every 2-3 years.

I won't repost it by MillMan (4.00 / 3) #5 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 12:09:41 PM EST
but most chiros are salesmen who set up a dependence relationship with their clients, with no desire to free them of pain, and they don't understand pain regardless. They want lifetime paying customers. So they pathologize their patients - you have scoliosis, slipped discs, etc - often times not true, and even if true, chronic pain has no correlation to injury (no, really). Here's a long-ish blog on the topic.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
I've heard that by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 07:19:22 PM EST
And I've never been able to avoid the "woo" feeling myself.  But my wife saw one, and not only did he (apparently) fix some chronic neck issues she'd had for years, but when my wife was in a fender bender and asked him about subsequent back pain, his response was that it was nothing and that it would get better on its own.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
yeah by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #11 Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 11:23:03 PM EST
There are good chiros out there. I think this world has a place for a manual therapy profession that requires a bachelor level college education and biases closer to empathy / caring about the patient than does traditional medicine. It's an unfortunate artifact of history that chiro fills that niche. Chiro has black-hole levels of baggage with its faith healer / huckster origin and its subluxation theory of disease. Even if a lot of chiros are more soft tissue oriented these days their universe is still about bones and joints. Incorporating pain science and its implications for therapy is impossible for them.

As far as your wife's pain - it's possible the chiro applied a stimulus that her body needed to resolve whatever issue it felt it had; it's also possible that his actions (on any level - from interpersonal to handling) convinced her "critter brain" that the threat had passed, so it shut down the pain experience.

I'm not really against chiro because it's woo instead of science - especially after reading this blog entry my perception of the whole thing became more complicated.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
Why didn't I switch to Comp Sci? by georgeha (4.00 / 0) #7 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 03:09:40 PM EST
I liked programming, and I was already in a very rigorous program. It might just have taken another year or so as an undergrad. Still, it would have been just before the internet exploded.

Gosh, a career where I could get a job almost anywhere.

personally by MillMan (4.00 / 0) #8 Tue Jun 10, 2014 at 05:12:21 PM EST
I needed something that was at least a little hands on.

I was doing "computer engineering" for half a year (just a CSCI / EE hybrid at the time), so I took a required class where the programming was done in scheme and I actually failed it. I just could not understand recursion. I get it now no problem, but that's not the point.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
I did do Comp Sci (well, actually AI) by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 05:28:27 PM EST
I literally bust a gut with my first job due to [perfect storm of life fuckups that I didn't have the skills to cope with]. I didn't get many interviews come 5 years later when I got my mojo back. I finally gave up trying after 'failing' a technical interview.

Which involved the bloke taking me through several million Oracle admin screens and asking if I'd seen them before (I didn't claim to know Oracle, and this was pretty normal CRUD app).

Finally, he came to the thing he'd been working for months on. He didn't expect me to understand it fully. And the problem he was coming to was a bunch of if statements wrapped around string comparisons nested about 10 deep. I wrote down the regular expression to match it.

He was not impressed.


Where I work now, our "data warehouse specialist" has been working about 3 weeks on a single join. We work with about 250,000 rows of data in our largest table. I have to confess I was getting pissed off in my last job working with that much data in Excel.


Sorry for the self-indulgent, self-aggrandising whinge.

[ Parent ]
omg say it with me: by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 01:11:16 AM EST

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
well, it's more complicated than that by infinitera (4.00 / 1) #13 Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 06:32:55 PM EST
Big data is anything you can't fit into Excel.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
No, but it's handy for dicking around with 300k li by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #14 Fri Jun 13, 2014 at 09:13:35 PM EST
Much easier to do that without screwing things up than to use it for data collection.

[ Parent ]
Interesting by littlestar (2.00 / 0) #15 Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:49:58 AM EST
 It is fascinating how so much of our physical healing is built on ancient, very wrong, pain models. I'm also surprised and interested that one out of three massages goes poorly for you. It makes me curious of your style, is it hard or too soft? What don't people like? i guess its probably not always the same thing. I get massages and now again have been disappointed, (slightly, ive never felt it was horrible) and it has usually been because pressure is too light. I'm betting I would like a massage by you. If you were coming to husistock I'd pay you to find out, and give you an honest opinion. I had been led to understand that massage (like IMF) can release muscle tension enough to allow some nerve healing to take place, what is your view on that? I know that I have had some incredible, unbelievable type response from my body from IMF, but studies seem spotty. Is be interested in your informed opinion. :)

What is IMF? by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 03:46:36 AM EST
Haven't heard of it before.

The incorrect pain model stuff is fascinating, yeah. It's even more fascinating due to the fact that placebo effects are a real thing, and we've only recently started to get the barest glimpses of why, and that's why traditional techniques persist. On the downside this severely retards progress, such as it is.

When people don't like my massages I think it's some combination of

a) too little pressure
b) I work really slowly and some people don't like that
c) my energy / persona / body language didn't make them feel comfortable at the beginning of the session when I met them
d) general skill - quality of touch and flow

Working on C is my main focus at the moment, even in a month I've made some improvement. The first impression is as critical for massage as it is for anything. Since you know me at least a little bit and (I believe) have a generally positive view of me, that increases the odds that you'd enjoy the massage.

I have two repeat clients so far and they are both people I would be friends with outside of work, which is not likely a coincidence. As (and if) my skills grow that should extend out to a much broader group of people.

Studies on manual therapy will never have conclusive outcomes, at least until we have diagnostic tests for pain and soft tissue injury on the one hand, and a paradigm shift to an understanding that what we need to "measure" is the nervous system and not the rest of the body, and even a framework for what we would measure is still science fiction, much less the measuring.

I can't make it to husi stock...just don't have the money :/ So it goes. I wish I could.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
contract work by garlic (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 12:58:07 PM EST
there's no short term EE contract work, or it's just not flexible enough for you? The first seems surprising, but the second doesn't. I got a linked in note just today about local contract work doing FPGA design.

well by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:36:44 PM EST
my qualifications are fairly narrow - I was a mixed signal semiconductor test engineer. There are maybe 25 companies in the world I am immediately qualified to work for, along with a smattering of small start up type places. There is plenty of stuff I could learn to do in short order, but it's hard to get jobs that way without networking in, and generally not as a contract.

FPGA stuff I can believe, since that's more toward the software side.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
YOU TAKE THAT BACK! by garlic (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 11:31:13 AM EST
it's engineering!

[ Parent ]
haha by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 12:55:28 PM EST
hey, technically most of my work was in C++.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
an update | 20 comments (20 topical, 0 hidden)