Over-training or the Flu?

So my week went like this:

Tuesday: I worked out at the gym having taken nearly a month off. I pushed myself to levels of which I knew I shouldn’t have attempted, but it felt good to be back in the gym again. See, I’m a bit abnormal in the fact that I love lifting weights and dislike doing cardio (indoors at least, cause I love mountain biking or hiking). Many of my friends are the other way around, and I know plenty of people who maintain a gym membership for the cardio aspect alone. So when I take a few weeks off from working out, I want to get back into a routine as quickly as possible – not smart. I’ve been working out (off and on) for well over a decade now. Granted there were times in university when I’d give it up for months at a time, but generally it’s simply been a part of who I am – meaning I should know better than to over-train.

Wednesday: Started feeling a bit ‘out of it’ but figured it was just my lack of sleep the night before. By Wednesday afternoon I knew something was wrong, but figured I had just pushed myself a bit too hard in the gym. However, when I got home I started getting aches and chills, with the onset of a slight fever. Once again, these are classic symptoms of over-training as well. I took some pain killers and slept it off.

Thursday: Made it to work but was definitely useless throughout the entire day, and couldn’t focus as I was still masking a fever with pain killers. At this point I was feeling worse and started wondering if I has a strong cold or the flu instead of over-training. By Thursday night I was absolutely miserable. Couldn’t sleep much throughout the night, which just made things worse. My fever held at around 102 (39) but didn’t get any higher.

Friday: Knew I couldn’t go to work, so I stayed home and drugged myself up watching the rest of the season one of “24”. The fever wasn’t even going away with 1000mg of Panadol at this point, and my head was pounding like I’ve never felt before. There’s no way this was a common cold, but it’s been years since I’ve had the flu – and I couldn’t remember how that felt. I decided I should finally get to the doctor. He literally laughed at me when I asked if there’s any chance it could be bird flu – so is that Indonesian for “yes, you will die soon” or “not a chance”. He quickly responded with, “If you had bird flu, you would have been dead yesterday and wouldn’t be standing in front of me now.”. What a warm human being.

They took my blood, and the results showed a very strong immune system with no problems at all – meaning he couldn’t give me anything to get better, cause I simply had the flu. Finally I asked for some stronger pain killers and maybe something to help me sleep. I’ve never tried a sleeping pill in my life, but it didn’t even work – maybe I need to double the dosage. Once I got home, I checked out the painkiller on the ‘net. Oddly enough, the drugs he gave me were specifically marketed towards menstrual pain!?! Yes, they have the effect of killing pain overall, but were targeted towards menstrual cramps. Who cares cause they sure helped!

Saturday: Finally, the fever has subsided and I’m feeling a bit better. I know I won’t be feeling like myself for a couple of days still, but I’m MUCH better than yesterday.

So here’s my theory:

Lifting weights is, by nature, a process involving the breakdown and rebuilding of your muscles. When you work out too hard or over-train, you can greatly reduce your immune system’s capabilities in the short term – therefore opening your body up to viruses, etc that you normally may be able to fight off. Whether or not this is the case in what happened to me, I do know that if you’re going to take time off from working out, you should really ease back into your routine. This is advice that I’ve never taken. I always tend to push myself harder than I should, and I guess combined with the fact that I’m getting older and living in a place that has many different ‘bugs’ that our cool-climate bodies aren’t used to, you just have to take a bit better care of yourself.

I’ve noticed that ‘colds’ or things like that are a bit different here. It seems that because of the fact we’re in air conditioning most of the day, it’s easier for germs to become circulated and spread to others. For me, at least, when I get a cold here in Indonesia, it seems to hit harder than in the States, but only for a few days versus the usual week or more. Many Indonesian doctors also remark that germs and viruses are different here than in N. America – is there truth in that?

All I know, is that it’s not too cool to get the ‘regular’ flu, when I’m living only miles from the past outbreak of the bird flu virus – it definitely makes you re-think your priorities.

“If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything.” – The Princess Bride

Bus Ride From Hell

I had a chance today to wander around some of Jakarta’s more “gritty” areas. Raw, visceral, and brimming with textures, I rarely tire of simply hitting the streets with my camera. I do, however, grow increasingly annoyed with the act of getting to these places. Since I don’t use a driver, I punish myself with the traffic on a daily basis. There’s hardly a day that passes when I truly believe my chances of getting hit and/or hitting someone else are below 99%. When I had the big bad-ass Blazer it wasn’t a factor cause I was the one with the “C’mon, bump me!” attitude. Now that I have a new Honda, the roles have reversed and I’m the one who’s paranoid about getting side-swiped.

Without throwing exaggeration or frustration into the mix, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a city with worse drivers in all of my life. It’s not so much that people are sleeping at the wheel – because they know they’re making poor decisions. When you have gigantic buses storming along at 120km/hr ON THE SHOULDER, you know there’s just a different respect for lives. Mungkin mereka mau bertemu Allah.

There isn’t any true answer to this problem. If I hire a driver, then I’m placing my life (and keys) in their hands. I had a friend who came back from a 2 month vacation only to find out that his driver stole his car – and the insurance wouldn’t cover it cause technically, it was his own driver. If I take a taxi, (besides having the chance of being robbed literally, or non-literally), I am without a much needed seat-belt in addition to the fact that they’re likely pulling an 18 hour shift to pay the bills. Motorcycles are out of the question since my head-on collision in Bali this past July. And bajaj are, well,…bajaj. The only option left would be a bus – which clearly isn’t an option in the first place.

I would absolutely love to see Jakarta build and maintain an effective, safe, and corruption free mass-transit program. I realize it’s a pipe-dream, but if Bangkok can pull it off why can’t we?

A Day in the Life of a Bajaj Driver

The Bajaj is a three wheeled vehicle made in India and used throughout Jakarta. They can technically fit two adults in the backseat, although I’d consider it punishment to attempt three. For about 50 cents you can get around for a couple of kilometers – the distance many people need throughout the day, or grabbing some groceries.

Cheap, exceedingly noisy, and completely uncomfortable, they’re the staple of many people’s transportation – or at least those that cannot pay for a taxi with rising fuel costs. The other options are insane bus drivers, vans packed to the gills with people, or suicidal ojek (motorcycles). I’ve nearly lost my knee caps riding with them as they attempt to squeeze between cars.

Like a tall tricycle, bajaj feel a bit unstable when cornering faster than a walking pace – especially when carrying a big ‘bule’ (foreigner) of 200 lbs. I’m pretty sure we’ve gotten them up on two wheels on a number of occasions.

I have a small series of shots I’ll post in relation to these mechanical wonders of the developing world.

Blogging Bits: Flickr vs. WordPress vs. RSS?

I had no idea so many of you were viewing the blog via RSS, but it seems that the general consensus is that I have two separate groups of visitors – those that check out the blog and those that drop into Flickr. I’m guessing the Flickr community most likely doesn’t view the blog too often and now I see that many of you visit the blog and not Flickr – therefore, I will start posting more of ‘everything’ on both.

The majority of my photographs do revolve around Indonesia, but as I’m continually striving to improve different aspects of my photography, I venture into other subject areas. Two things I’d really like to experiment more with would be portraiture and night shooting. I picked up a book last night from Michel Comte (but resisted buying!) – and felt like a kid with a toy camera after viewing his work.

As you may have noticed (unless you read via RSS 😉 ), I’ve started organizing this entire site by the use of more effective archives, technorati tags (fun? annoying?), categories, and an AJAX live search tool (pretty cool if you haven’t tried it). I have yet to categorize about half of the blog’s archives, but it’s on my to-do list. I have also started delving into my ‘blogger’ archives – everything from 2002-2004. I’ll move many of those old posts over to WordPress soon (although I’m definitely seeing a different side of myself in hindsight!).

To answer a few of the comments left on the previous post:

By the way, how is Smugmug working so far? Have you been able to verify the quality of the actual prints? Any impressions?

I honestly haven’t given enough time or effort into Smugmug at this point, considering I’ve already paid $100 for the “pro” account. I’ve also only uploaded a half dozen photos, so it’d be unfair for me to make any judgement at this point. I haven’t been able to view any actual prints, as I believe they only ship within the U.S. – I’ll have to have my brother order some for critique.

My usual pathway to javajive is via RSS, so if you post your photos on the blog, it’s easier for me to enjoy ‘em.

When I have the time, I go into the flickr site – but that is not something to do casually. Your work deserves attention, concentration.

javajive is quite possibly the best photoblog out there. Please keep up the excellent work. Baiklah!

I really appreciate your comment, Elisson, but in all honesty, the more I learn about photography, the more I’m feeling like a complete amateur. It’s almost overwhelming to see how much talent is oozing from the creative pores of the ‘net. When I view sites like Quarlo, Chromogenic, Chromasia, Top Left Pixel, Smudo, Big Empty, and File Magazine, I sometimes wonder if I should pack up and move on to another passion.

Post here. I find Flickr way to slow to load photos and rarely go back there, even though I am the admin for over a dozen groups based on Asia travel. Also, how is your Flickr Social group doing? Great idea on that one.

Interesting to hear your thoughts on Flickr. As far as Flickr being a great place to display serious work – I’m not too fond of the layout, white background, and comments – but for the community aspect and (generally) useful feedback, I’m stickin with ’em. I am admin to a few different groups, but the one to really take off has been FlickrSocial with over 2000 members. Unfortunately, I haven’t been active in the group in quite a while, and have appointed some other great people to help out as admins.

On another note, I’ve been slammed with this message every hour today:

The domain thejavajive.com (javajive) has reached 80% of its bandwidth limit.
Please contact the system admin as soon as possible.


No Matter Where You Go

I finally had the chance on Sunday to spend a few hours with my new camera – a Canon 350D – otherwise known in the States as the Digital Rebel XT. The camera is nothing short of phenomenal. Something with a similar feature set was thousands of dollars only a couple of years ago. I’ll be posting photos from my first shoot in coming posts.

I spent a few hours on foot, walking around south central Jakarta with only my backpack and a smile. The Indonesian children were fast on my heels, shouting “Mister, photo yah?”. I generally bring a bag of candy or some extra cash with me to hand out, but unfortunately forgot. They’re all too quick to pose and point out ‘good’ places to take photos. I find that the best spots are those that most locals take for granted on a regular basis. The vibrant colors of their neighborhood was fascinating enough to catch my eye over and over. I find that simply walking and chatting will provide some of the best photo ops in this country.

People are almost always eager to help in any way possible; that’s something I’ll miss when I do leave this place. You never feel too much of a stranger, no matter where you go.

Cameras, Corvettes, and Confusion

From my brother’s gallery:

What does a Corvette have anything to do with cameras? Absolutely nothing, but that’s a privilege of writing your own blog.

I just heard that my brother crashed my dad’s Corvette last week. Apparently he hit a deer (or rather, the deer hit him) and caused him to do a 180 spinning into a ditch. Both are bruised and battered I’m sure, but fine otherwise.

He’s currently hosting a photographic exhibit at the University of Michigan. If you have yet to see his work, please do. He has some amazing work from Japan, China, South Africa, Indonesia, and Namibia. Not bad for a 23 year old.

On another subject, I’ve decided to upgrade my camera from a Canon 300D, otherwise known as the Canon Digital Rebel – to a Canon 350D (or Rebel XT). It’s been a wonderful tool in my thirst for photographic knowledge, but I do feel that it’s time to move up a bit. I considered the Canon 20D, but simply cannot rationalize the additional $500 for a camera with virtually the same image quality. I’ve been scouring the web in my usual way – bordering on obsessive. From what I’ve seen / heard / and read, I believe the 350D will be a good stepping stone. Stepping to what? The 5D of course! :) Too bad it’s coming in at around $3300.

I’ve also considered the following lenses –

Canon 10-22
Canon 17-40 L
Canon 17-85 IS

If anyone has any experience with them, I’d love to hear your opinion.