Unannounced change to ODSP takes a lot more money away

2019 10 17 - 16:20

A change was made to the ODSP system that involves debt payback, from, say, income that you didn't report that resulted in what ODSP terms an overpayment. They would then take a certain percentage from your ODSP each month until your debt was paid off. Fair enough.

The minimum used to be $25 per month, which you could request if you found that the overpayment amount was proving to be too much of a hardship - which it generally always was. The rules were recently changed, colour me shocked, and no information was disseminated in any way to warn people or inform them of the change.

The new minimum is now 10% of your ODSP amount. That means if you're receiving $1200 from ODSP each month, right off the top, instead of taking the old $25, they'll be taking $120.

Because gawd knows that the economically disenfranchised can afford that large a chunk of money to just not be there any longer, and for it to just not be there without preparing them for it.

Super cute how they did this at the same time as announcing that they're going to let you keep even more of your income if you do have a job, which is going to result, of course, in no one making more money if they do owe a debt to ODSP.

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Strategic voting is bullshit. Stop it.

2019 09 21 - 13:21

This may offend or hurt some dear people, so please accept my pre-emptive apology, because I'm not having at you, but at something you profess that I hear from too many sources.

Strategic voting is corporate-sounding clap-trap, and trickling it down into governmental voting might sound intelligent, but it is such garbage bullshit, and a tool used to weaponise your vote against you. Stop it.

If every person I've recently heard say they were going to vote Liberal just to keep Scheer out, and paired that desire with the "strategic voting" concept, actually spent that vote on the Greens or NDP instead, the Liberals wouldn't win, nor would the Conservatives. I get it. You're worried, sickened, and afraid of that right-wing twat Scheer becoming PM. Some of you are in the other camp and want to vote for Scheer to keep Trudeau out, because he's an idiot with about the cultural sensitivity of a cement slab it seems.

There are other choices. I've said that so many times I'm sure some folk are sick of it. But this continued Lib-Con see-saw is going to kill off the beauty of a system that allows for multiple parties, and multiple parties with an actual presence. There are other choices. We've made sure there are. We embrace the fact that there are. Why the fuck, then, are you people throwing your votes away on fear? Why not stop voting for old, white men who want to cling to the status quo when the status quo is what's killing us?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So stop doing the same thing. Let the old guard die out of the limelight like they deserve.
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I wish I could abandon Canada Post

2019 09 17 - 10:59

I'm developing a hate for Canada Post.

They don't deliver packages to my door as they used to, but pretend they did and say they left a card, which they either don't or it arrives the next day. Since the closure of the postal outlet around the corner from me I now have to go to the mall to pick everything up since Canada Post won't redeliver anything. This is becoming a massive pain in the ass.

They aren't required to climb more than one flight of stairs to deliver, so they would often just buzz me from the lobby and I'd go down to get the package. I was fine with that. And since I'm home most of the time, since what work I do I do from home, there's rarely any reason for them not to put a package in my hands directly.

I'm really starting to understand why people can't see the justification of keeping them in existence. Service gets worse and worse every year. I tried to contact their customer service, and instead of an explanation of why the item wasn't delivered to my door given I'm home, all I get is endless apologies.

I don't want your apologies. I want my package.

I suppose the only thing I can do at this point, and I encourage everyone to do it, is to request from all the companies you buy from that they stop using Canada Post as a delivery service.

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No Labour Day

2019 09 02 - 19:36

Today is Labour Day, so I am going to talk about labour-related things that tend not to get their due consideration when it comes to the out-of-work portions of our population.

Just because there are jobs available does not mean any of those jobs are going to the people that need them. That person isn't the only one applying. Some jobs literally get thousands of applications, so any application handed in by someone looking for a job is sometimes just another piece of paper/email. An acquaintance once applied for a bookkeeping gig, a one or two-day a month thing with a local business person. During their interview the subject came up of how many applications she'd gotten through her Kijiji ad before she shut the ad off: 3400, and a fair bit of them were from CPAs for whom bookkeeping work was way beneath their skillset.

So, as I said, just because you see jobs out there, or just because someone wants one, does not automatically guarantee that someone you know who needs the work is going to actually get the work.

In the past year I have applied for something around 90 jobs. I realise that does not seem like much, but with my vision issues my choices are limited. Out of those 90 or so applications, guess how many I got a response to? Two, neither of which turned out to be viable. It has always been thus.

Now, I realise I'm a special circumstance, but I know from hearing the struggles of others that people with better educations than I have, and without the disability I have, are facing similar difficulties in finding work. It's not that they aren't trying, it's that they're not the only people looking for a job. These folk are competing with hundreds of others with the same qualifications for jobs they are trained and suited for. When they lower their standards, so to speak, they aren't considered because they're overqualified. When they aim too high they're beat out by people who are properly qualified. When they apply outside their field they lose out for not having enough of the right qualifications.

Anyone without post-secondary education can be tossed by the wayside because so many jobs that once were simple to walk into now require a BA minimum. It used to be that if you did have a BA you could walk into just about any job you wanted. Now even that's becoming insufficient - which is why post-secondary education should be covered in the same high school became covered when it was finally accepted that high school was the base minimum required to function in our society. High school has long since stopped being the baseline. I had a very hard time trying to explain to someone I knew who was about 15 years younger than me, that when I was younger we could go to university and never worry about finding work after, and it didn't matter what we studied. We didn't have to worry about market trends and job trends. She didn't understand why it was that so many people didn't study those things before going on to post-secondary, and just couldn't accept that it was because so many folks of my generation and earlier just didn't have to.

If you're ageing you can be screwed out of work for being too old, and If you're not a beauty, or happen to be overweight, then you can be screwed out of front-of-house/reception work because of it. I know this, because it happened to someone I know, and that person's employer was none too subtle about it. I'm pretty sure I've been "profiled" as well, given some of the circumstances surrounding jobs I did get called in for an interview for. There was a period of time around 2012/2013 where, within a single year, I showed up for six different job interviews only to find that the interviewer was not there - or so I was told. On one occasion the business was closed for the day. On another, it later turned out that the interviewer had a death in the family, so that's a pass. The rest, well, I showed up and they decided they just didn't want to talk to me, I guess. One of them even said that they'd left me a voicemail saying they'd had to cancel the appointment - a voicemail on a phone line that wasn't even in service that particular day, as I was too broke to pay the bill and the service had been suspended for a couple of days.

I think the worst thing though, was the day I found out that even having a name that's too ethnic-sounding (read: not "white"-sounding enough), can get you ignored right from the get-go, a thing borne out by a UofT/Ryerson study from some years back, and studies from even earlier. I started to wonder if that particular grotesque bias had ever played a part in my long stretches of time getting no response to my applications, because while my middle name might be straight-up English - it's Anne - my first name sure as hell isn't, and it's my first name I go by.

All that said, I do know there are people out there who make the entire situation as difficult on themselves as they possibly can.

There are some solutions for those out of work. Moving is one, for those who can afford to do so - which generally isn't anyone working a minimum wage job, or anyone depending on local supports that would disappear if they moved. There are work-at-home options that can make the wait between brick-and-mortar work a little easier to bear, or replace it entirely. If you have the financial wherewithal and time you can get retraining or re-education. You can volunteer, which can help pad out a resume, teach you new skills, and help you look employed even when you aren't. It's true that the best time to get a job is when you have one.

The upshot of all this? Well, I hear a lot of judgement from people about why some folks are unemployed, and very few of those people seem to take any of the above into consideration. A person is not always out of work because they want to be out of work, or because they are lazy, or any of a myriad of other judgement calls that get bandied about. There can be a lot more behind a person being out of work than an ill-informed categorisation.

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How to get a good/bad transcription

2019 08 03 - 15:50

Transcriptionists/transcribers sometimes perform feats that seem magical, but there's a lot of damned hard work that goes on to make it seem that way. When you spend your day with bad audio and people who can't communicate, it can sometimes be a herculean effort to create a finished product that is usable to a client.

I'm not going to give too much preamble, but just get to the list of things that clients should consider in order to ensure that they have the best chance of getting a good transcript.

My advice to interviewees would be this:

My advice to interviewers:

My advice to clients in general:

And the most important advice of all:

Transcriptionists/transcribers can work wonders, but they aren't sound engineers. There's only so much they can do - and only so much they can be reasonably responsible for or expected to do. The rest is up to the client.

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Your politics are your world-view

2019 08 03 - 13:14

Your politics are your world-view.

I remember reading something about that a while ago, which I can't recall the source of. We like to talk about politics as this detachable entity that we can leave out of the equation, like we leave out our tastes in food, and whether or not we use bleach in the wash. Can we talk about the fingers and ignore the hand? Maybe, in nebulous conversations in a political science lecture hall, we can turn politics into some kind of Socratic tea dance; but outside of that conversation? What you speak is what you are. I'm not talking so much about where you vote, since people often enough vote differently than they believe. But that says something about a person as well. What you vote for is what you're willing to tolerate. You can't separate your self from your politics any more than you can say that what you are at election time is not the same person you are the rest of the time. It all matters. The idea that you can separate your politics from the rest of your existence is a Western privilege; or, at the very least, the privilege of the secure - something you should be grateful for, and realise the preciousness of, and not use as a bludgeon to thump those who call you out. It's an intellectual advantage that should never be weaponised, but sometimes is; and that's a frightening act. It falls in the realm of blaming the 'other' when you yourself are the fault; or, at the very least, an asshole of the 'devil's advocate' variety.

Your politics can show whether you care about others or don't, whether you are a liberal thinker or a tight conservative, whether you're insular or global-thinking, your kindness, your ability or willingness to see a bigger picture rather than merely the environs of your own front yard, whether you are visceral or cogitative, whether you're generous of spirit or miserly, whether you care, whether you don't care, if an angel or an ass, a demon or a saviour. They can be a measure of a person's fear, rage, stupidity, intelligence, or even hope. They measure how you feel about the 'other'. They can show you off or show you up, possibly in ways some other things might never do. There are enormous grey areas in human morality sometimes, but elections are a black or white, yes or no indicator of what you choose as your priority. Sometimes that priority is fair, wisely thought out, and considered as a basis for future betterment; but given the blind knee-jerk way that many vote by, voting can be a litmus test for your baseline, in an "in vino veritas" kind of way.

I hate politics; rather, how politics evolves around an election specifically. I despise the mental midgets it turns some folks into, and the animals and bullies it makes of others. I hate the jockeying. I hate how it can bring out the worst in people. I sometimes hate it because it forces you to find out things about people you'd rather never have known. I'm a realist, for the most part; but even I'd occasionally rather live in the little bubble that doesn't force me to see just how depraved the human race can be. Politics can tear down heroes, and expose the raw inner flesh. I dislike its divisiveness; which is pretty useless in the situation in which we're living, where we're all on the same boat, and we'll all drown just as hard and fast by everyone fighting for the oar.

I have my beliefs, and I'll stand by them, but the whole subject is about as appealing as having a root canal without anaesthesia; especially when part of the inner conversation you're having with yourself is whether or not you can still respect someone whose politics are so divergent from your own that you wonder if they are not objectionable as a person.

- - -

To round back to the point before I depart, what you vote for is what you are willing to tolerate, so I'll be blunt. If you vote for someone with racist allegiances, then you are willing to tolerate those racist allegiances and what they could bring. Scheer openly hired a member of Rebel Media as his campaign manager. A politician of his level does not hire someone like that without being completely aware of the optics of doing so: either he accepts what this person believes, or he's willing to use that person's connections/abilities for his own ends. Both of those things are, to put it simply, distasteful.  In fact, when questioned about Marshall's appointment, Scheer is quoted as saying:

"I didn't ask Hamish about every client he had," Scheer said in response to a question from the Globe and Mail. "He has a variety of clients. He's a small-business owner himself, and I asked him to do a job and he helped me out on my campaign."

That sure is some "Hey, look over there" weak tea, Andrew.

When presented with opportunities to show that there was truth in his speechifying about how there's no room for racists in the Conservative party, Scheer took no action. Members of the party retained party status, and their positions. If there's a no tolerance policy, Andrew, why are  you tolerating it? And given that Scheer spent a good portion of his current reign trying to maintain his two-tiered citizenship system that Stephen Harper advanced, don't think he won't take whatever opportunity he can to strip at least a million Canadians of their citizenship protections. If this does not make sense to you, it means that anyone with dual citizenship would no longer have any consular protections abroad, and their Canadian citizenship is revocable with, potentially, no recourse. If you are now wondering why they don't just renounce the other half, remember that they shouldn't have to to begin with, and that some countries make it extremely expensive and difficult to do so.

That there's a good slippery slope catalyst. Whose citizenship gets the chop next?

We have been lucky enough in this country to be able to watch the theatre of the far-right evolve and unfold on the stage of our neighbours to the south. Don't think that can't happen here. Socially, it already is. Just remember that we don't have to help it politically when election time comes in October. Don't give it air, ground, or teeth. Tell it to go packing.

Don't think that the old-style, puppy-dog faced, Joe Clark fiscal conservative is lurking there beneath the surface. That party no longer exists. It hasn't existed since the federal Conservatives merged with the Reform, which is the single worst thing to ever happen in this country politically. I'm sorry it did. Now, those who are fiscally conservative but not socially so, have no party (or so they think). But they still vote that way because they think there's no options for them. There is. Just read the major party platforms again. You'll see it yourself.

Really, there is no left any longer. If you're still afraid of what Tommy Douglas did in this country, then you've got other problems that need addressing. There are certain realities about the future of this country that would not be well-served by a Conservative leadership - and certainly not by Maxime Bernier's crackpot alt-right - many of which are layered and complex and need to be addressed, but the two most impactful to consider right this very minute, and in October, are not giving any more ground than we have to to the right (and racism), and making sure that someone gets elected who can responsibly deal with climate change issues and the environment, even if that means those of us who self-indulge on that score have to suck It up and think of breathable air 30 years from now, and not just our bank accounts tomorrow.

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Etsyalater

2019 07 27 - 15:15

I was watching yet another video on YouTube today, decrying the changes Etsy is making to its shipping and shop ranking policies - which are not good.

If you're not aware, Etsy has decided that it's going to offer free shipping on any orders from within the US that are $35 or more. It doesn't matter whether or not you're shipping FROM the US either. If your shop is somewhere else where the shipping costs TO the US are high, any order from your shop that's $35 or more is covered by the free shipping.

Etsy expects anyone who would be affected by this simply to roll these shipping costs into their prices - regardless of distance, actual shipping costs, or anything. This means that you could end up paying more for an item than it's actually worth, because the rolled in shipping fees would have to compensate for shipping to an entire planet worth of possible locations.

If you choose to opt out of this shipping program, then your shop items will no longer receive high placement in search rankings. So, you can either choose to play their game, or get punished for not playing. I believe that's called coercion, and that's not any more legal than hiding shipping fees in an item price.

In fact, even now, when you do a search for things on Etsy, shop names are no longer listed along with the items. It's like Etsy's stripped any personal flavour from search results.

It's under debate as to whether or not this expectation to roll shipping into item costs is even legal under US law. It isn't, by the way. It is not legal to add hidden fees while claiming that something is free.

A lot of Etsy sellers are jumping ship, and rightly so. One of the more "curious" reactions, though, was someone who told one of the Etsy sellers who's leaving, that they should just "grow up" and roll the shipping fees into their item costs.

Grow up. Yep. Right there is the problem with late stage capitalism and conservative politics - dressing greed (and thereby intentionally screwing people) up as adulthood, and vice versa. The whole idea of that, of giving over to that manner of thinking because that's "what you're supposed to do as you get older", is a lazy mindset that continues to feed the very system that's going to bleed you dry and give you nothing in return. They want you to think that way, because it perpetuates their agenda.

Pardon me for using the term agenda. I should only ever use it when talking about day planners.

I never did buy anything from Etsy, and now I definitely won't, nor ever set up a shop there. There are other commerce sites you can use, ones that don't cost as much, and also give you a lot more autonomy.

Addendum:

Oh, and as regards the rolling shipping into item costs and its illegality, Etsy is claiming no responsibility at all for it. If you participate in this, and it's determined you're doing something illegal, you're the one getting screwed. Etsy has washed its hands of complicity in that matter - even though they're 'encouraging' you to do it.

It's all part of the fun world of internet gentrification - of which YouTube and Patreon are also part - whereby they are trying to weed out the small-scale sellers so they can concentrate on the influencers whom they can more easily control, and from whom they can extract larger slices of their earnings pies.

July 29th, 2019: Not that I ever used it or anything, but I did remember that I had an account on Etsy which I have now closed.

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Favourite films

2019 07 13 - 09:10

Someone in a forum I frequent posted asking for everyone's favourite films. This is by no means anything less than a herculean undertaking in some folks' cases. There can't be only one.

My list, so far. I'm still working on it.

Favourite classic film: Lawrence of Arabia

Favourite war film: The Bridge on the River Kwai

Favourite beautiful film that I actually hate so I never watch it: The Fall (Tarsem Singh)

Favourite 80s not-even-remotely-guilty-pleasures: Trading Places, Major League, Private Benjamin

Favourite silent film: Battleship Potemkin

Favourite Bond film: You Only Live Twice

Favourite old Hollywood musical: An American In Paris, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

Favourite movies that I put on when I go to bed because sometimes I hate silence: three of the five Alien Nation post-TV series films: Dark Horizon, The Enemy Within, The Udara Legacy

Favourite John Hughes film: The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink

Favourite film that I can never watch again because Matt Damon is a Harvey Weinstein apologist: Good Will Hunting

Favourite mindfuck: Altered States

Favourite film that was so emotionally affecting that I can never watch it again because it'll break my heart, again: A Taste of Honey

Favourite Star Trek film: Save the Whales (IV: The Voyage Home)

Favourite Christmas film: Scrooge (1951, Alistair Sim)

Favourite films to watch just for the colour: just about anything by Zhang Yimou, so Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower, and also Tarsem Singh's "The Fall", but I hate that movie

Favourite weekend afternoon films when I was a kid: The World of Henry Orient, the two horrible Peter Cushing Doctor Who films

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I prefer, v2, updated for your viewing pleasure

2019 07 01 - 23:34

I prefer

citrus to berries
humour to comedy
bright light to mood light
spongy pillows to feather
barefoot to socks
tea to coffee
working from home to working in public
black ink pens to blue
micro-fine tip to broad
Friday to Saturday
Hafiz to Rumi
bar shows to arena shows
beer to wine
pepper to salt
punk to metal
The Clash to the Sex Pistols
cool days to warm
urban to rural
shower to bath
crunchy peanut butter to smooth
spring/autumn to summer/winter
political left to political right
social liberalism to social conservativism
atheism to religion
subtle to gross
black to white
Dune to LoTR
blunt/direct to overly careful
trains to planes
orange to apple
navel to clementine
green grapes to red/purple
savoury to sweet
drama to comedy
clever to crude
chicken to turkey
Austen to Bronte
being guest to host
pie to cake
Paul Simon to Bruce Springsteen
milk chocolate to dark
flat shoes to heels
tree shade to sunbathing
reading while sitting to lounging
Madam Secretary to Scandal
abstract/surrealism to photorealism
acrylic to oil
printmaking to painting

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Buzz kill

2019 05 23 - 21:39

So, I had this nap today where I dreamed a drone was buzzing my building taking photos through people's bathroom windows. Turns out, not so much. I found, upon being woke by it, that it was a huge bug of some kind or other stuck behind my curtains. This thing was about an inch and a half long.

And no, I didn't take pictures of it, before or after its death, and I intend to take my glasses off when I remove its corpse from behind my curtains, so I don't actually need to directly see it.

Any bug loud enough to wake me up, I don't need to see with the naked eye.

Also, dear jodoka, I want you to know that what I killed it with, is the $15 dowel I picked up at Rona to make my own for-now jo with. It's first kill: giant, filthy insect bastard.

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