September 28, 2007

It's All About Amy

This week I had two medical appointments. The first was with the physiotherapist that I mentioned in an earlier post. The second was with the City of London Migraine Clinic.
For about six years now I've been suffering from headaches that come on every four to six weeks and last for three to four days. They are AWFUL.
Back in San Francisco my GP at University of California San Francisco identified them as migraines and then happily sent me on my way with about 200 pill samples. I tried them all, including a spray, and none helped. Over the years I gave up hope for treatment and after several self-treatment disasters with sinus meds and ibuprofen I also gave up trying to make the pain stop.

My appointment today gave me new hope. The doctor listened to my stories, asked me lots of interesting questions and started drawing some conclusions. Nobody seems to know what causes migraines (by the way, this is pronounced Meegraines in the UK) but most of my symptoms said migraine to her.

While I sat there, telling the tale of Amy to a medical professional for a second time this week I realised how indulgent it is to pay someone to listen to you. Yes of course that's what therapists do but this was different. This was Amy giving her health history and someone making observations and trying to draw conclusions. I can see how this could become addictive.

It reminds me a bit of Frida Kahlo who, some theorise, would pursue operations and treatments for her back to the point of obsession or even addiction. Just look at her paintings! She knew that Diego Rivera would be there for her, would leave his mistresses, to be by her side when she was in pain. I've always wanted some kind of connection to Frida but I think I'll take a pass on that one.

A cool point to note is that the Migraine Clinic has a suggested donation of 50GBP but you can pay more or even less. This then allows them to get a government match called Gift Aid. You get good service, make a donation and support a charity. If they can solve my headaches I'll be a donor for life. (That statement is not legally binding and this is not my Will :-)

September 26, 2007

Gluteus Maximus Holiday

I've been having some leg pain - they've been feeling heavy and tired. To check it out I went to a physiotherapist the other day. He observed my balance and leg movements, and then made the following ass-essment.

Physiotherapist: "You're not using your large gluteus maximus."

Amy: (laughing) Excuse me?

Physiotherapist: "You're not using your large gluteus maximus muscle."

Amy: Oh, you mean muscle - OK - I thought you were saying I'm not using my large rear end."

Physiotherapist: "I'm sure it feels very comfortable to sit on but you're not using it so your calves and hamstrings are overworking. Push against my hand with your foot. See how overly developed you're calves have become?"

Amy: (glowing) "Yes, I am strong, aren't I?"

Physiotherapist: "Except for your large gluteus maximus and gluteus medius."

Amy: "They're on holiday, having a drink."

Physiotherapist: "Yes, they need to pack their bags and get with the program."

Okay, you get the picture. I am now working on awakening my large gluteus maximus with some targeted exercises.

September 22, 2007

Shall We Play a Game?

After visiting the Geffrye Museum we met up with two of Stephen's work associates who were on the first leg of an ambitious adventure - to drink at pubs located on all the streets featured in the London version of Monopoly. It's called the Monopoly Pub Crawl. Yeah, they're nuts.

The cool thing was seeing a variety of pubs, many of which are located near my office! Along the way we actually passed folks dressed as Monopoly characters. Yeah, they're nuts.

Here are photos of Marrion, Bob and Stephen on the Metro tube line looking quite pissed after five gin & tonics in 2.5 hours. Why that drink? Quickest to go down with least impact - at least that's what they tried to make me believe. Yeah, they're nuts.
We experienced pubs 4-9 and then I had to take control of the situation and call it quits for me and Stephen.

Geffrye Museum a Hidden Treasure

Today we discovered a hidden treasure the Geffrye Museum in East London. They were hosting a fantastic ceramics sale and we purchased some cool pieces.

More about the museum. It displays examples of middle class housing and decor from 1600 to present. I think they should do an exhibition on the impact of Ikea on middle class decor. Image to the right is their keyhole logo. Clever.
Most impressive was the building. "It is set in elegant 18th century almshouses with a contemporary wing surrounded by attractive gardens, which include an award-winning walled herb garden and a series of period gardens." states the website. Apparently an almshouse is a poor house.

What I liked was that it was an old space made new. The property has a large yard for picnics and herb gardens for wandering. Plus, a fab restaurant overlooking the gardens. This photo is of a lovely porch with a beautiful painted mural, seats inviting you to sit and a garden library for perusing.

September 21, 2007

Furry Little Friend

Is it bad that I think the little mouse running around our office is cute? We're in an old building located above The Poor School theatre (maybe the name indicates why we have mice?) and there are many furry friends that visit at night. But today we saw one live and in person. Our intern calmly freaked, very impressive.

Our boss has suggested we get a cat.


September 20, 2007

Quick Poll

I'm trying something new - check out the quick poll on the top right of the blog. Let's see how it goes.

One Year and One Week and Now I Speak the Queen's English

Can you believe I've lived in London for one year and one week? Feels longer and shorter. No worries about a fake accent, I still think in American. However, I do have some nifty new expressions in my vocabulary.

Blag - talking your way into the VIP room

Cheeky - smooth talk to get your way

Pear shaped - something has gone completely wrong

Cheers for that - used mid-sentence to say thanks "Got the file you sent me, cheers for that, it was really useful."

Cuppa - a cup of tea "care for a cuppa?"

Bugger off - describing how you told someone to get away. "That guy kept bothering me so I told him to bugger off."

Chugger - charity mugger - this is a concept unique to the UK. People stand on the sidewalks and accost you into making a donation. Feels like you've been mugged by a charity. I give them the evil eye and shake my head "no" which seems to work. Kinda like using bug spray.

Do you think the Queen would be proud of my adoption of her English?

September 18, 2007

Tastes Like Heaven

My mum-in-law made the most amazing raspberry jam and gave us three jars to enjoy. Three jars? What do you do with three jars? Well, you get some scones and clotted cream and pig out. That's what me and Simone did this evening. Heavenly.

Photo from wikipedia.

September 15, 2007

Updating Book List

I'm updating my book list, usually visible on the right side of the blog, to make it easier to read. Gone for now. Soon to return.

September 14, 2007

RSS Feed from Career Goals: Take the Lead

Check this out - I've added a blog feature on the right side column - an RSS feed that shows recent postings to my other blog If you want to read my thoughts on career development take a visit now and again.

September 12, 2007

Scotland Makes French Toast

Scotland is playing France in football and one of their biggest fans is in our living room.

Loch This Tay

Some images from our fishing adventure on Loch Tay or as my dad calls it Latte.

Here's dad catching a trout which he returned to the Loch for more cooking. Too small. At least we caught something.
Not sure what Mom and Stephen are looking at - I think Stephen just caught some muck off the bottom. That's me running the motor.

September 11, 2007

Fishing on Loch Tay

We've just returned from a get-away weekend on Loch Tay in the Scottish Highlands with my folks. It was breathtaking. I am going to wait to describe it more fully until I get home to London and can upload my images. Here's a sneak preview...

September 8, 2007

Let's Face It

Now that Stephen has a page on Facebook I had to try it out. Can't let him be more socially-networked than me. I signed up (Amy Kweskin Duncan) and it instantly found people who use my email address. A bit freaky. My former San Francisco housemate Julie Trell instantly become my virtual friend as did Hearts in San Francisco artist Michele Pred.

I looked at my social timeline, thinking that it should say I was just born, but in fact it says that I was roommates with Julie in 2003 and then went underground from 2004-2007. How the heck does it know that?

Clearly I'm a facebook neophyte. Now I have to be sure that this doesn't become an addiction.

September 7, 2007

Twisted Spire Church

On the train from Coventry to Edinburgh (6 hours) yesterday I spotted the most amazing church. At first I thought the train's window was creating an optical illusion of a twisted spire. Nope, the real thing is twisted!

Construction of the Twisted Spire Church in Chesterfield was completed in 1360. So surprisingly modern. Was it deliberate?Looks like it belongs in Barcelona.

September 5, 2007

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Well, yes, we have over 100 Doctors, all with PhDs that is, here at the Researching the Voluntary Sector conference.

At first I was intimidated by all these PhDs presenting their research papers. That feeling was reinforced by the snooty-patooty facilitator of the first break out session who quickly put me in my place by snorting at my question and then saying I couldn't ask another. I instantly blushed, making the verbal slap even more painful.

You see, I didn't "get" the presentation format. Of course IF it had been explained at the start of the conference I would have understood. The researchers present their papers, you ask clarifying questions after each presentation and then at the end you discuss (attack?) the sum of their information. If you are very clever you make links between the three or four papers when you ask a question. The audience are all PhDs too, except for the few mystery folks such as myself.

What's been insightful for me, besides the fact that I will always be recognised as an American first and an individual second, is that these PhDs gather data and crunch numbers. Ask them anything outside of this info, such as drawing conclusions about influences, emotions, concerns of their research subjects and they get all confused. For instance, one team conducted focus groups with donors. "We observed that people were uncomfortable in the focus groups." Okay - why? "Because they don't like to talk about money?" That was as far as they took it. How is that conclusion helpful to a charity trying to use the research findings? So I said, "Is it perhaps that giving is very personal and is influenced by issues that are important in their lives. Talking about these charities could reveal things that they do not want to share in a group." The snooty-patooty facilitator said, "No! It is because they don't want to talk about money." In other words, "You don't understand our culture so bugger off."

But last night, having reluctantly decided to attend the awards dinner (not even sure what the award was about) I sat next to fantastic people who could talk openly and honestly about ideas, despite being PhDs. I repeated the story and they said, "actually, you are probably closer to the truth." Thank you. Check please.

The other interesting thing I'm hearing is that findings are always interpreted negatively. Example: "People are campaigning through consumerism Buy-cotting and Boycotting. They purchase Fair Trade products, shop at farmers' markets and buy organic and think they are making a contribution. What a terrible loss this is for the charity sector." Hello? I see this as an opportunity not a loss. Same with this example: "people are no longer volunteering or voting but they do spend their free time on the internet. What does this say about the sad future of our country?" Hello? It says that people are "volunteering" their time to create facebook pages, blogs and open source. Talk to them in these forums.

But you know what it is? If you are a researcher you are invested in analyzing your area of focus. If that area shows change you may have to change your research focus. Doesn't seem like people want to make that change and risk their reputations. Also, many of these folks seem to have their theories all nicely defined but have had no experience in reality - meaning the day to day operations of charity organisations. You can just hear it in the conclusions they draw from the research.

My Conclusion: I am so happy that I didn't pursue a PhD and instead am within the sector, developing and sharing best practices as a practitioner and consultant.

September 4, 2007

Away at a Conference

I'll be at the Researching the Charity Sector conference at University of Warwick for the next two days and then hillwalking and fishing with Stephen and my folks in Scotland. Will try to post as much as possible.

38 Moon Walkers

There's something about being 38 that is standing out to me. Perhaps it is being just a few steps from 40 that I'm more alert to other people who are also 38 and wondering what they've accomplished in my same lifespan. That whole ReGenXers thang that I'm noodling.

Today's New York Times's article Film Takes Us Back 38 Years, to That First Walk caught my attention. Perhaps there is a subgroup of GenXers who are Moon Walkers - those of us born in the year of the first moon walk. Is Saturn now in retrograde for our us? What does that mean anyway?

Perhaps it is my birthday being on 3-8 this year when I'm 38 that is encouraging the extra contemplation.
Photos from NYT article.

September 2, 2007

Simpsonize Me!

Forget The Simpsons movie (disappointing) check out the movie's website (rocks!) and make your own character. Really fun. Meet Ayme pronounced "Aye! me!"

September 1, 2007

Midcareer Arts & Culture Managers Survey

Arts management consultant Victoria J. Saunders (we both participated in the Americans for the Arts leadership think tank in July) is conducting a research survey amongst midcareer arts and culture managers. She has been asked to write an article about the state of the arts and mid-career leadership for CultureWork (an online publication from the University of Oregon's Arts Administration program).

Participate in Victoria's research by taking a few minutes to complete the online survey. Deadline for participation is Wednesday, September 12. Also please feel free to pass the link on to others who you feel fill the - mid career criteria (defined by Victoria as 15-years in the field(+/-) and 35 years of age and older.)