The Poor Need a Guaranteed Income, Not Our Charity

2017 07 13 - 21:57

" 'Do you worry about running out of food before you will have money to buy more?' and 'Do you skip meals so someone else in your house can eat?' "

If questions like that are on a survey, then something is severely wrong, and you shouldn't need to be told that. No one should have to be asked these things. If you can see things like this, still demonise the poor, and still think that a charity band aid is all that should be done about it, then you're off your meds. And if things keep going the way they're going, it isn't just the current poor that are going to need help. Food security is not jyst a poor man's issue; but the world is full of short-sighted and greedy people.

On the note of charity, though, I keep wanting to volunteer at a food bank, but the idea of seeing people hungry guts me. I'm not sure I could witness it without being too hit by it to do it at all. I should see if there are stocking and packing positions open.

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Open Carry

2017 07 13 - 17:55

When I was packing up after class yesterday, having made the decision to not change into street clothes because it would mean missing the bus, a kendoka who was waiting made a joke about me wearing my sword to really make sure no one would bother me.

Now here comes an interesting question of legality.

My sword - which I already knew - is not illegal. It is not on the prohibited list of weapons in Canada's criminal code. However, it is still a weapon, and could be used in an offensive manner if I chose to do so. I was under the impression that I could not openly carry it; that I had to keep it in its bag when not at home or in use at the dojo. Turns out, not so much. I just spent ten minutes on the phone with the police to clarify it. I can openly carry that sword when not in its bag. If I use it as an offensive weapon, or in any situation where it is assumed by another to be an offensive weapon, then I'm subject to prosecution under the law; but if I'm just walking down the street, I can have it in my belt.

I don't believe I'll ever be doing this, but now I know.



2017 07 13 - 16:33

After watching the first episode of Salvation last night (no specific storyline spoilers), I've come to the following thoughts:

It, like a lot of "network"-made sci-fi below the fold, is over-the-top.

It glorifies "types" - the social misfit working alone, the rich benefactor genius (who always seems to be a male), the female mole/spy, the nosy reporter - like we haven't seen that shit before, dozens of times.

It tells us that a rich man is going to solve our problems. One day, I hope, someone is going to take that trope and shove it where the sun does not shine. Stop glorifying the wealthy. At least this time, though, he's a man who became wealthy through brains and work. The only good thing that generally comes from this trope a good bit of time that it is used, is that it tries to teach some kind benovolence to the rich. I think we all know that not everyone is Warren Buffett (not that I think he's some kind of saint; but at least some of whatever money it is he gains in whatever ways he gains it, goes towards doing good for others - please show me anyone in the current White House 1% that are doing even a fraction of that); but it sure would be lovely to see a few more of them toss a few more dollars and resources down the rungs of the ladder a little further than they do.

In all truth, it probably will be nerds that save us; which would be a lot easier for them to do if they weren't hampered by the glorification of the cult of ignorance that exists so widely in some areas. Outside of a laziness factor, I've honestly never understood why people would want to be so willingly and gleefully stupid. It shocks me, sometimes.

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Humans Need Not Apply

2017 07 11 - 09:38

I come from a generation of people who, when young, were told that a university education would get you a job. And for the most part, that was true. It's no longer a guarantee of any kind; and even when it does get you a job, the likelihood that job has anything to do with the education you received, is very slim. University educations will make you employable, they just won't get you employed.

So, the idea that automation will push everyone into 'better', more skilled, job markets might have been a true and believable thing at one point, but it no longer is. There aren't enough brain-powered jobs to go around.

Automations on all levels are one of the reasons that a lot of people are pushing for a Universal Basic Income. It is going to become absolutely necessary for governments to subsidise their populations, because there really will not be any jobs for those populations to have. It will not be a matter of people not willing to take what is available, because there won't be anything available.

We already don't need people to prepare food, teach, drive, or build. The idea that the arts are safe has long since been rendered untrue. If you look at decor in a pragmatic sense, decor and art that's hung merely to take up space and add colour, you don't need an old master for that - any bot with the right program can make something for your wall.

We're all on this rock together. One of these days we're all going to have to come to terms with that, and start taking care of each other, rather than determining that our individual ego is more important than survival for many.

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Pretty Enough

2017 07 07 - 20:59

Someone once said to me that my art was pretty enough for something you were going to hang above a couch (which, I think, is the goal of many artists - to be bought and hung above someone's couch). It came out as a criticism, and not in a constructive way. At the time I let the comment slide, because I've never told someone to go fuck themselves to their face; but that was precisely what ran through my mind - especially since they very quickly followed it with comments about how artists are "elevated". Are they, now? That's the sort of attitude that makes non-artists hate the art world; that over-lofty ego.

I never took this person's comment about my art to heart though, nor took it seriously; but it did solidify something I already knew: Not all good art has to bear a message, or have any other impact than to be pleasing to the eye. We can't all be Picasso, or Kandinsky, or Pollock. There's not a damned thing wrong with not being a groundbreaker. If you are one, good for you. I applaud you and your skills.

I do not like "artiste" ego. Never have. I think it's part of my long-time distaste for posturing of any kind. I know we're all guilty of it to an extent; but some folks whip that horse 'til it froths at the mouth. I enjoy people who enjoy their work, and enjoy making that work.

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2017 07 06 - 17:44

While my main focus is singing jazz, there are also some pop songs on the list - and blues.

Here's the thing about the blues:

You need to learn to growl, to scream, to really pull it up from the belly. I have enough problems getting over my timidity enough to sing jazz even; it's going to take a lot more work to get myself into the mindset of singing the blues without feeling embarrassed about it. It's a kind of gut-wrenching singing that really draws attention, and attention is why I don't sing in public.

So, there we are. I have a talent. I know I have a talent, and no one else knows it, because I won't share it.

That's a pickle.

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Some Ways In Which My Shitty Eyesight Impacts My Life

2017 07 06 - 12:52

The usual practice is to have a computer monitor set back from the edge of the desk some - either with blank space in front or a keyboard. This does not work for me with my vision. I need to keep the average monitor right at the edge of the desk. My face has to be within eight or so inches of the screen, or I can't read it properly. At that distance I am using an 18 point font in my text editor.

Because I need the monitor at the edge of the desk to see it, it means ( can't use a desk without a keyboard tray, because there generally isn't enough room to put the tray on the desk between me and the monitor - although sometimes this is possible with a bit of balancing. If I do use a desk with a keyboard tray, it has to be one where the try stays in, and has enough room for my hands to go under the desk's top so I can use the keyboard with the tray in. I can't leave the monitor on the desk's top, and pull the keyboard tray out as most folks would use it, because then I'm too far away from the screen. There are not, let me tell you, enough desks on this planet with a keyboard tray lowered enough so I can fit my hands under there.

You're going to ask me why I don't just enlarge things on the screen. I'll tell you why: because that messes up the use of the screen. It makes it harder to navigate around when there's a lot of stuff open. It also means I can't have my eye on a whole window at once - I'd have to move it around to see all the things I need on it. That is an enormous pain in the ass.

You're going to ask me why I don't use a bigger screen and sit further back in a normal-ish fashion: because my vision issue isn't just about size, it's also about distance. I had a 50 inch flat planel TV as a monitor at one employer's, and I still had to sit within a foot of it.

I'm trying to remember my numbers... this is WITH correction, so WITH my glasses on:

left eye: 0/200 with 5 degrees
right eye: 80/200 with 40 degrees

That's what was on the medical form sent to the government.

I can read with my left eye, but only if I put my face right against the screen with the font size I'm using now; and even then it's not the most clear. for all intents and purposes, I have just the one working eye - only the one eye I 'use', or read out of.

The distance issue is specifically why I don't use a laptop, and never will. I'd have to be hunched over all the time to try and read the screen. My vision is also why, when out in public, I will not look up when someone honks a horn at me or yells my name from a distance. I can't see people's faces from a distance, nor what they're doing, so if  you're waving at me from a car on the road, I won't know it's you. So, I just don't look up. It's better than having people assume I'm being rude by looking at them - or so they think - and not waving back, when I can't tell they're waving. If you're more than five feet away from me in a public space and want my attention, yell my name and give me a direction - or, don't yell my name. I have had people accuse me of being rude because they've walked by me and waved and they think I've ignored them. So, really, the best thing to do is just get in my face, within two feet of me should be good.

The distance issue is also - in part - why I avoid any film or TV show that relies heavily on subtitles. At a distance, I can't read them at all; up close, I can either watch the pictures or read the text. I can't do both at the same time.

Oddly, it wasn't until well into my adulthood that I realised I had no depth perception. I've learned to compensate for that so well that I never realised how bad it was. When I was a baby, and we were still living in Glace Bay, we had a tile floor in the kitchen - green and red squares. I wouldn't walk across it, but would slide my foot from square to square, because I couldn't tell they were at the same level. This was after the surgery but before glasses. Whatever issues were caused by the lack of depth perception all those years, I mis-assumed they were related to not being able to see at a distance. I still catch a ball like a small child - either with my hands up warding it off, or arms stretched out to hug-catch it with my face turned away. It does mean, though, that I can't watch 3D movies, or sometimes navigate a staircase without sliding my foot along the floor until I find the edge.

It makes creating art, choosing food at a buffet, and playing with swords interesting, that's for sure.


Futon, Electrickery, and Running Water

2017 07 06 - 00:49

I was never much of a nature person. Whatever hippie gene my mother might have had, did not get passed on to me; although a love of Otis Redding seeped through the uteran wall during my gestation. Apparently she listened to a lot of Otis while I was baking.

I didn't ever enjoy camping - still don't have any craving for it - and a lot of what's involved does nothing for me. A lot of what's involved is also precluded by having a severe visual impairment. The most, for example, I'm ever going to notice about a bird, unless it's right at my feet, is that it's flying - a black dot in the sky. It could be an alien craft up there, for all I know. It's the same for walking in the woods. I have to spend all my time looking down, to make sure I don't fall on my face. Details are utterly lost on me. Green. Brown. Lighter brown. Wet brown. Grey. Blue. Possibly flower colours, but I woukldn't know they were flowers unless they were right in my face. Even though I'm short, that's all I see from the eye level of someone who's 5'4 1/2", are just fields of colour. I have the same problem with buffet tables. That could be cheese... or it could be melon. That could be tomato... or it could be red pepper. That could be sliced chicken... or it could be pork... or even fish.

Sometimes I've even had to get other people to get food for me, or at least tell me what everything is. It's kind of discouraging, but it's a necessity. I'm sure I've talked about all this before.

I don't hate nature, don't get me wrong. It's just that because of my vision, and having spent so much time (by necessity as well as exposure matters) living the urban life, my taste for nature is minimal, and very specific. Someone's back porch (in the shade) is sufficient for me. If I really crave trees, I can go stand in some for half an hour, and I'm good. There are several sufficiently enclosing groves of trees within ten minutes walk of me. If I really feel like a woodsy experience, I can hop a bus to the RBG and walk through Hendrie Valley - which has fisheries and lawns and gardens and woods - woods that have paved paths, which means I can walk and enjoy green, brown, and blue, and not have to worry so much about falling flat on my face. There are also not pathed woodsy parts, which are also quite lovely. The RBG is a great place for people who want nature in small and selective doses. I can enjoy nature for as much as I need to, and go home - where there is a futon, electrickery, and running water.

I think that part of the reason I don't like camping, is that I am trapped. I feel trapped. I am in a place that I can't get out of, with no options for entertainment other than things I have no enjoyment for or capability for. I am nowhere near a bus. I can't walk anywhere where there might be one. I am completely dependant on others for motor vehicle transportation since I can't drive, so anywhere outside of a bus drive away, means that I have no choice but to stay. I really don't like being in places that I can't leave at a moment's notice if I'm really inclined to. I have even avoided family functions because of that; because of people who live in places where there is no bus access. I think they probably thought I didn't like them, or wasn't interested; but here's the truth: I felt trapped. I just didn't know how to tell anyone that without feeling like a complete idiot. I've avoided other social functions for the same reason.

That's a funny thing, feeling trapped in the outdoors.

Oddly, and despite all this, I do have a fondness for certain kinds of desolate places - Death Valley, the summit of Kilimanjaro, Uluru. Actually, what I like the most, are abandoned places. There is an allure about them; I am fascinated. I've never been able to define, why; but those others who also enjoy abandoned places, will understand what I mean. I should get someone with a car to take me around some ghost towns.

I have also become such a solitary creature, that sometimes I just don't feel comfortable anywhere but home. I used to be able to sleep anywhere, but I can't do that anymore. I can't sleep well, or even at all, if I'm not in my own bed. Home is my sanctuary.

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You wear it well

2017 07 03 - 02:05

The process of dressing before entering the dojo - putting on the keikogi, the obi, tying the hakama, setting it all right - helps to shift you from being 'out there' to being 'in here' - in the dojo, and in the right frame of mind for what you're going to do.

Appearance is important on a lot of levels - respect for others as much as respect for the self and for the art. If you look like crap, it's like telling your fellow budo that you have no respect, either for yourself or them. Your appearance also affects your performance. If you're dressed sloppily, it's thought that you'll perform sloppily. During an all-day seminar, for example, things loosen and shift, so I take every opportunity to go to the ladies and take everything off and put it all back on again. Fresh dressing resets everything, resets the mind, helps you feel ready again.

In some aspects of the translation of the Kanji that make up the word Iaido, even, it means "a state of preparedness/readiness". Really that refers to being prepared for the attacker, but readiness includes more than just how fast you're able to get your hands on your sword.

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The Hospital

2017 06 26 - 09:14

When I used to volunteer at the hospital I got very good at "not noticing" things. There are things you just don't see, in order to preserve what might be the last shreds of dignity a person has. People generally weren't there because they were having a good day. You needed to treat everyone like there was nothing wrong, but in such a way as to show understanding or compassion, because something generally was terribly wrong.

You always do see things, but it didn't sink in how adept I was at the above, until the day a lady came back a week after her initial visit to the ER, to thank me for not judging her because she'd come in still in her pyjamas.

That would be the last thing I'd judge anyone for in a hospital.

I hate hospital ERs. You see things there that just take the heart out of you.