This is the blog of Ant Miller, senior research manager and dilettante geek at large at the BBC.
I wail moan and cuss about the challenges and fun to be found here.
These are my personal opinions, and not those of my employer. Or anyone else here for that matter.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Looking After the Neck

Spinal disk arthroscopy, disc replacement, neck stretching, whatever you want to call it, is a brilliant technique and one that has basically given me my life back, but it's not something I'd recommend if you're bored on a rainy Tuesday.  I'd like if possible, to avoid stuffing my core structural musculo-skeletal system up any more than I already have, so returning to work has posed something of a challenge.

I live an appreciable distance from my employers main location of operation- it's about two and half hours as the train limps, each way.  On reflection it seemed obvious that this regular long distance schlep was responsible for the rapid decline in my health over the period before the neck properly conked out, so a new arrangement has been devised.  

I am up in London for two or three days a week, staying with a lovely hospitable friend, and  I work at home for a day or two a week (or will be once I'm back up to full full-time shortly) so need to tote a laptop with me, and that includes about 40 minutes of walking.  Up until recently I have used a succession of excellent back packs.  I used messenger bags for perhaps a year or two, but I never found their asymmetric loading comfortable.  Now though, I found the shoulder based loading of the backpacks unbearable.

I therefore launched myself upon a small research project- to identify ways of carrying a laptop and enough gubbins to see me through a day or two away from home in a back that placed no strain at all on my delicate shoulder/ neck region.

I quite quickly homed in on the idea of a big bum bag, or fanny pack as linguisticly challenged colonial types might refer to it.  The type is surprisingly rare in general retail and to date I have yet to fine one that is specifically designed with the transport of laptops in mind.  With few exceptions they seem to be universally focused on the hunting market, and more specifically stalking deer in woodland with high powered rifles.  I shit you not. 

I've actually ended up with such a device (that I have modified slightly) but before I get to that, here are some interesting 'runners up':

Snugpak make the best and best value sleeping bags in the world, and they make them in the UK, so I'm sold on that kit, and the response pak is a very interesting little bag aimed squarely at the modern day man at arms- the military market.  I didn't go for this in the end, as I wasn't sure at all if it was big enough, but it is a very clever little bit of kit, probably ideal for hill walking, and would make an excellent alternative to a backpack design daysack. It also has a shoulder harness to help keep it stable and spreading the load.  Nice kit.

Boblbee are perhaps at the other end of the spectrum from Snugpak- their bags tend toward the extraordinary, pretty expensive, and occasionally evincing a delight in gimmick over practicality.  Cool though, dead cool.  Charly's Angels wear them.  Quite.  However this pack did interest me in that it was very much focussed on the modern traveler and his or her needs to cart around a decent amount of kit.  And it had cool side pockets, and I think, somewhere, I saw it had a shoulder harness too.  On the downside.... HOW MUCH!?

Ok, here we are, the serious huntin' shootin' fishin' stuff.  Apparently the idea is that with a low down waist mounted bag one is freer to shoulder a decent sized rifle and pop off a harmless ruminant.  And then, once one has said fluffy woodland creature reduced to a lifeless corpse, you can drape it across the top of your little bag, and slope home.  Or stride home.  Depending on how you feel about the relative merit of defeating a small creature using a high powered rifle.  I might stride truth be told, but that's just one of many ways in which I may be counted a 'wrongun'.  Anyway the little bag is a good size, has a big wide padded hip belt, a few decent pockets, and weirdly lovely suedey deep forest green fabric.  The shoulder straps proved a little short at the front, but a quick trip to a local camping shop furnished me with the necessary to lengthem them, and it is now currently serving me very well on my commute.  
I still fancy fettling up some internal straps to hold a laptop a little steadier.  Still 'n all, the nice people at Bush Wear sorted me out with a really lovely bag- thanks chaps.

1 comment:

Cy said...

Replace laptop with Raspberry Pi. Keep screen at work, use Tv at home. Carry in pocket.

Downside. Reduction in ability to lie in sofa watching Quincy when working from home.