So far today

2019 04 10 - 10:44

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Human rights - Social justice

2019 03 10 - 17:40

I've just encountered something that had never occurred to me before, something that explains so much about how different parts of the world handle things like health care, for example. I mean, I knew it, I'd just never seen it put in these specific terms.

I've just read something by a professor of social work in the US, who talked of how such things are viewed in different parts of the world. Health care, for example, in peer nations elsewhere, is seen as a human right - but not in the US. In the US, such things are seen in terms of social justice.

It is, indeed, a very nauseating consideration, to turn a person's very well-being (their access to basic health care, to life-saving insulin, or their access to clean drinking water), into something that they should be granted by the state as a form of charity, or as a form of donated fairness from 'well-meaning' haves to the have-nots, as opposed to those things simply being accepted as the very minimum of a fair and decent existence, and, indeed, being the obligation of the state to provide for all citizens and others under the state's care. Yes, the wealthy should, because they can, but they shouldn't, because the state should, but neither are, because of greed and indifference, holding fast to the I've-got-mine philosophy of the blinkered and wilfully blind.

Why are these things even a question? The water is poison. Fix it.. People are dying. Fix it. These should not even be a debate, but they are; and I worry for Canada, that we will turn fully down a road of self-interest: self-interest of the haves over the have-nots, self-interest of the few over the many, self-interest of the 1%, turning human rights into charities, as opposed to a nation that doesn't question a person's right to exist, to eat, to be healthy, to be safe, to stay alive.

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Heirlooms - Saving things that can't be saved

2019 03 08 - 23:23

I had a brief interaction with someone today, who was lamenting that her upcoming move into a small apartment from where she's been living, meant that she'd have to give up a lot of things that belonged to her grandmother - furniture, dresses, baptism gowns, things like that.

We're funny creatures, us humans, with our seeming depthless need to save, to preserve, to not be able to let go. Some of us are better with keeping memories than things, but sometimes it's nice to have the things too.

I suggested to the lady that if she could bear to cut the clothing, or even the upholstery that wasn't otherwise being sold, given away, or recycled, that she could frame the fabrics and have a little something to decorate her walls with. Dollar store frames would do, and a square of fabric big enough to fit the space. A few of those would certainly pretty up a wall nicely

You can frame fabrics, jewellery, pages and covers of books, documents, albums and album covers, menus, programmes, stones, shells, other small mementos or knick-knacks, and all manner of things that will go into a frame or shadow box, that can go on a wall where you can actually enjoy it, rather than in a closet where it takes up space and never sees the light of day.

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Secular Saints - a work in progress

2019 02 27 - 13:54

This used to include musicians, but I think they'll need a list of their own.

Suggestions welcome.

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How to play Patriarchy Chicken: why I refuse to move out of the way for men

2019 02 27 - 09:21

"The point of Patriarchy Chicken is not just that you get where you're going marginally faster (although you do) or that you irritate a number of men (which you also do). The point is that men have been socialised, for their entire lives, to take up space. Men who would never express these thoughts out loud have nevertheless been brought up to believe that their right to occupy space takes precedent over anyone else's right to be there. They spread their legs on tubes and trains, they bellow across coffee shops and guffaw in pubs, and they never, ever give way."

This give-way situation, and its attendant use-of-public-space friend, also holds true for, as a friend mentioned, based on race - it also holds true for plus-size people. People with more socially-acceptable-sized bodies will expect you to defer to them, to give way to them. Believe me, I've seen it. They walk past you like you aren't even there, and walk at you the same way. (Mind you, my favourite ones are the ones who make faces at you when you eat in public. I may be visually impaired, but oh lawdy yes, I have seen that happen.)

I have not played Patriarchy Chicken, but I've played Cellphone Chicken. Sometimes I've actually stopped in my tracks when I see someone walking along staring down at the phone instead of looking up, and I wait, and let them walk into me. This kind of oblivion hasn't been appropriate since y'all were two and stumbling around your playpens without regard or awareness of your environment.

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The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles

2019 02 22 - 16:27

“You can do something you love, just because you love it.” (When did I become Ask Polly?) And suddenly the sentence that both of us needed to hear came out of my mouth: “You don’t have to monetize your joy.”

But our culture "reinforces the idea that [our] attention belongs more rightfully on profit than on pleasure," because we "live in the era of the hustle. Of following our dreams until the end, and then pushing ourselves more. And every time we feel beholden to capitalize on the rare places where our skills and our joy intersect, we underline the idea that financial gain is the ultimate pursuit."
 
Possibly we'd feel less need to turn everything into the dollar-dollar, if our economy wasn't so stacked against us that we have to earn off everything we do, or we won't be able to eat. This whole idea of, and the author mentions it, of loving what you do so it never feels like work, is a scam to trick you into further enslaving yourself to your employment, so you won't notice the shortcomings of your economic status. There's nothing wrong with loving your work, and there's nothing wrong with making money from your hobbies or joys, but there is definitely something wrong with those things being turned into necessaries or obligations, or, worse yet, flaws if you don't.
 
We've over-structured everything to the point where a good chunk of our population now has no idea how to relax and just be, nor even that they can do just that, and it's okay to do just that. Children have gone from play to play dates. Every hour must be filled with something. The pragmatism of the Protestant work ethic has struck again, and it never strikes in a very good way. It keeps telling us that whatever we're doing, it's not enough. We could maximise our time better, faster, more. We're scheduling and monetising ourselves to death.
 
Why don't I do things for money? Why don't many of us? Because we want to keep enjoying them, that's why. I'm not obligated to turn my joy into your pragmatic money-maker.
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Shopping

2019 02 22 - 13:16

I tend to have a fairly boring diet - partly because I hate cooking, but also partly because I'm severely visually impaired, so all I can get at the grocery store is what's right in front of my face.

If it's too far up, I can't see it. If it's too far down, I can't see it. I have to pick up every single package to read it, so I know what it is. Produce and meats are a little easier, because each meat is a particular colour. I still have to pick up the package to see what cut of meat it is, for example, but chicken is a particular colour, and beef the same, and so on. Granny Smith apples are a particular green that stands out, which makes life simple    . Unfortunately, peaches and nectarines bear an unfortunate resemblance to certain types of apple, so yeah, I've touched apples thinking they're peaches.

It's an enormously frustrating pain in the ass to have to pick up every single bloody thing so you can read it, so you know what it is. I have to do this at book stores, art supply stores, every store. I can't browse the same way others can. This is partly why I got very much into shopping alone rather than with friends, because it takes me forever to do what others do in a much shorter span of time than forever.

Now, I don't normally shill for the house when it comes to any business, but I've got to tell you, that grocery services like Grocery Gateway, and now Instacart, are a godsend to me. I can browse a website, and someone else does the picking and choosing. I can not be utterly frustrated by the entire shopping experience, and/or having to ask for help every time I need something. I can actually buy things that would normally be outside of my "reach", because someone else is doing the heavy-seeing part.

If, by the by, you think I don't have to ask for help when ordering food at a fast food mall joint that has no paper menu I can hold in my hand, because I can't read the overhead behind the counter menu, then you'd be wrong. Every. Damned. Time.

As a much younger person I used to be embarrassed and even more frustrated by things like this. I thought there was something wrong (in more of a way than just physically) with me. I tried to hide it or get around it as much as I could, and get angry with myself because I had to intrude on other people to do simple things. I had no ability to articulate my disability, my frustrations. It took me years, decades, to figure my way around that one. I thought, for a very long time as a younger person, that I wasn't supposed to tell people I needed help. I don't know why that is. It doesn't matter now, because I have no issue saying, "Sorry, severe visual impairment. Can't read your menu/package/whatever."

Ah yes. Packaging. The thing I have to take pictures of with my phone and zoom in so I can read them. Thank you, modern technology, for the invention of the cameraphone. You are a miracle deserving of sainthood.

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I'm on a bus, on a psychedlic trip, reading murder books, trying to stay hip.

2019 02 10 - 15:19

Last year I played a little game of Telephone with Google Translate, using my favourite James Bond quotation: Darling, I give you very best duck.

Today, I've done it again, using my favourite Billy Idol lyric:

I'm on a bus, on a psychedlic trip, reading murder books, trying to stay hip.

to French: Je suis dans un bus, dans un voyage psychédical, en train de lire des livres de meurtre, d'essayer de rester hanche.

to German - Ich bin in einem Bus, auf einer psychedischen Reise, lese Mordbücher und versuche, hip zu bleiben.

to Bosnian - U autobusu sam, na psihickom putovanju, citam knjige o ubistvima i pokušavam da ostanem bok.

to Greek - Se éna leoforeío, se psychikó taxídi, diávasa vivlía gia dolofoníes kai prospathó na parameíno sti zoí.

to Yiddish - es iz a lempert, mit psikhish taxis, divaza lebn dalafon é nes gi prospathu aoyf di eykhes.

to Hawaiian - no ka mea,?o ia me na taxi psikhish, a me na lekale?ale?a, a me na mea nui.

to Irish - toisc go bhfuil sé le tacsaí psikhish, agus na tráchtearraí, agus an ceann is tábhachtaí.

to English - because it is a psikhish taxi, and the commodities, and the most important.(psikhish is apparently a Yiddish word for 'psychic')

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Education - a future shouldn't be a short-sighted spite-fuelled cash-grab

2019 02 10 - 04:39

Many moons ago, when I was taking distance courses via a university here, I was part of the students' union, and, consequently, part of a group that managed a scholarship fund for needy students.

One year we received an application from an incarcerated male. He'd been using all his prison earnings and commissary money to pay for university courses, one course at a time. He'd been writing all his essays using only what he could find for research in the prison library, writing them by hand in pencil, as he wasn't allowed a computer or pens. We naturally gave him the award that year, which constituted enough money to pay for one course.

As I was lying in bed trying to sleep during one of my many it's-still-the-middle-of-the-night wakeup periods, it occurred to me that it wouldn't be a half-bad idea to provide no-cost education to incarcerated individuals. It provides two things in the immediate: a way to step up their lives on release, or even before, and something to keep them occupied to keep out of the muck of prison life. Also, it's nice. You know, kindness, decency?

Really, we should be providing low- or no-cost post-secondary education (of all types) for everyone. We've long, long since passed the tipping point on that level of education being the minimum required to function past a certain level in this society. It is, in fact, the very reason high school long ago stopped being only something that those with money could have, because it used to be a pay-as-you-go institution as well. Education isn't a luxury, it's a necessity.

As I've said before, post-secondary education is a responsibility of a society that expects to have certain jobs available to it, that expects to be bolstered and backed up by certain positions - like doctors, teachers, accountants, bricklayers, machinists, and the like. If you want it, you need to provide it. These aren't only the pipe-dream positions you think they are. If you want an individual to spend their future serving you, then provide them the best possibility of doing so. You will find yourself in a blighted future, if you cut your nose off to spite your face now.

There is absolutely no good reason, other than short-sighted and mean-spirited spite, to continue to make education, and all the attendant costs of attaining it, so expensive and problematic, that students forgo safe housing, or any housing at all, for example, just to get it. This is not a recipe for success. In Canada, there are students sleeping on common area couches even, because they can't afford a place to live, rental prices being as insane as they are. And it's grotesque to punish these kids because their parents were unable or unwilling to provide the funds for their kids' futures.

Stop being so short-sighted, mean-spirited, and downright dumb. Provide no-cost post-secondary, and help build a future, rather than turning future into an elitist cash-grab, like so many other things are becoming, like decent housing and food.

Addendum: 2019 02 18

Not educating/training persons, is a punishment we inflict on ourselves, because we end up churning out more people that are more likely to become a burden on the system, either by further incarceration or by not being able to contribute in a productive way.

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Public Sector

2018 10 20 - 13:35

So, my job in the public sector is clearly a make-work project; and if it isn't, it sure smells like one. I can't imagine they'd pay someone to do what I'm doing on a permanent basis. But, my workload is so light, if they did want someone to do it, they wouldn't need more than two of us - maybe not even that - and certainly not the seven of us that are there. There are some days I could handle the entire workload on my own. There's a week of the contract left, and every single day I keep hoping to hear that they are - if not making it permanent - at least going to extend it for a month or three. The idea of getting a public sector paycheque every two weeks for the rest of my working life, is an idea I do not hate.

It is a monumental delight to finally work a job where someone isn't micromanaging your every move and every moment of your time. The amount of flak one receives in the private sector - in retail specifically - for things like being ten minutes late, is unholy. Here, if I'm ten minutes late I'm not even sure anyone would notice, and I suppose they trust that I'll make up the time - which I have done. I get an hour for lunch, so I don't have to wolf down my food like a starving person, and I have time to run an errand or two. The biggest difference, though, is that when there's downtime - and there is an enormous amount of it for me - I can use the Internet. The only thing I can't do is stream stuff. But, since I can have my phone at my desk, unlike with retail or call centre work, I can just use that to stream things. I've worked in call centres where we couldn't even have books at our desks, never mind our phones. So, during downtimes, there was absoolutely nothing we could do to fill the time up, other than talk to each other, which I didn't always want to do. It's two in the morning on a Tuesday - no one's calling for a taxi - telling me I need to spend my time concentrating on my job, is utterly laughable in a situation like that.

The biggest personal difference for me, is that I do not have to talk to customers. I am so sick to death of customer service. I loathe it. I am enormously relieved to be out of it, even for a short term. The mental break is delightful. The very idea of having to go back to it after this week is up, nauseates me. Customer service is just so... relentless. And I am tired.

So let us all hope that my gig gets extended; or, better yet, made permanent, so I can spend the rest of my life making some actual money, rather than having to scrabble from paycheque to paycheque just to cover the basics.

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