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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Salvation

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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Pickle

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.

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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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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.

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25 Things You Do as an Adult When You’ve Experienced Childhood Emotional Abuse

2017 06 22 - 13:23

Emotional abuse can manifest differently. It leaves scars, pain, and sorrows that you don’t remember having. Especially when it happens in your childhood. As an adult you have the stability to handle it, but as a kid? It stays with you for the rest of your life. But how exactly do you behave when you’re emotionally abused as a child? TheMighty recently asked their community about it and the results were heartbreaking.

1 - Conflict - Hearing other people's fights kind of... freezes me up. I feel stuck sometimes, too; like a fly trapped on paper it can't get off of. Or, rather, a deer trapped in a car's headlights.

2 - Compliments - Sometimes I have no idea what to do with them. I think that with some kinds of compliments, I just have no idea how to attach to it or have contact with it.

3 - Achievements - With me, I just try to never get myself into situations where I might be forced to ask for evaluation. That way, I'll never have to know. I just don't ask people's opinions. If they offer, I take it; but I do my best not to openly fish for it.

4 - Asocial - Sort of. I don't like parties, large groups of people, I always feel lost in them. I end up hiding in a corner at parties, feeling that I'm not a part of the group, that no one will be interested in my company. I like small groups, or one-on-one.

5 - Trust issues - Well I'm sure not very good at having faith in people.

11 - Rejecting love - As desperate as might be for it, I avoid situations where it might happen.

14 - Don't ask for help - I used to be terrible for it; I didn't want anyone to think I was stupid. I still don't want to be thought of as stupid. My life is so solitary most of the time, though, that being self-sufficient is sort of necessary.

15 - Growing attached - I have an issue that way, but I'm not going into that openly. But yeah, attachment issues. They're there.

16 - Shy - I was horribly timid as a child; so much so that my one Aunt nick-named me "Mousie". I'm better at talking with people now, but I'm still not ... forward.

17 - Hiding parts of yourself - All the time, every day.

18/19 - Low self-esteem/self-worth - Well, it's hard to have that when you grew up with an alcoholic who had no problem calling you a cunt. It's also hard to find value in yourself when you grew up with someone who spent all their time talking about how great other people were, but never said good things to you. It happened so rarely, in fact, that I received compliments from the people who raised me, that it would shock me when it happaned.

22 - Pacifism - I used to avoid conflict like it was an unholy plague.

24 - Don't know the kind of person you are - That's for damned sure. I feel, sometimes, that whatever is on the outside does not match whatever is on the inside. More specifically, I don't know who this external person is; and, a great deal of the time, I don't want to be it, or it appears like a stranger to me.

When growing up, the raising that we receive has much to do with our coping skills as an adult. And I have noticed that I, and other victims of emotional abuse, have certain behaviors that separate us from the rest. If you, or someone you know was a victim of abuse, then you may want to read through these. Just being able to understand where another person is coming from, or understanding yourself better, can make all the difference.

4 - You Are Tough, But Also Very Sensitive - Gawd I can take a lot - sarcasm, ribbing, crap - but not all the time, not every day. Sometimes I wish people would just be chill and quiet and say something nice to me.

6 - You Are Self-Disciplined - Not really, but I sure have gotten used to a life where I don't take certain kinds of help from people.

9 - You Have a Defensive Nature - I won't deny that. I don't take well to being thought of as stupid. I don't always understand a person's motives in what they say to me.

13 - Constantly Beating Yourself Up - I take on a lot of gut-rotting guilt for simple things sometimes, misperceived slights or offences I only think I've caused - generally there's no basis. The other party's forgotten about it.

14 - Having Issues Getting Close to Others - I do very well at things when I can keep people at arm's length, keep control of the situation.

15 - You Are Quiet - No, talkative, sharing, but a friend once said that I was very good at talking about myself without saying anything. I do like my down time though.

18 - You Don't Feel Valid - No, never.

20 - You Are Angry - I'm not a violent person, not that kind of angry. I'm... frustrated angry, crying angry, sad angry. Lost time, lost opportunities, opportunities that I never got but should have.

26 - You Are Humble - No, I don't think so; but I don't deal well with people complimenting me for having been so tough, or how I deal with my disability, or anything like that. My life was my life. I don't feel like I've done anything special or noble. Especially since I'm far from perfect and have many flaws.

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Preservation

2017 06 14 - 11:54

A friend of mine is looking for a copy of yesterday's Toronto Star because there's a picture of her in it and her mom wants it as a keepsake. I'm of a generation, and so is she, that did this sort of thing as a matter of course - if something important was in the paper, something that we wanted to keep, we'd clip it out and put it in a scrapbook, fold it inside the front cover of a book, frame it and hang it on the wall. It was the only way we had of preserving certain kinds of memories.

This was, of course, prior to the Internet.

As I was looking at her request, it occurred to me that we are now facing generations of young people who might have absolutely no understanding of why we'd want to do this, since the Internet allows them to acquire and save anything and everything, for posterity, for the next five minutes, for the length of a Snapchat memory. The Internet might have an attention span of only a day, but its memory is as eternal as your harddrive's viability and your proximity to a delete key.

We are also facing generations of people who live a kind of ephemera that we of older generations might never quite understand, even though we live it too. We put a lot of stock in physical manifestations of things, finding them to be the only 'real' version of a thing - a picture is only real if its in a frame on a wall, a book is only real if you can hold it in your hand. I still struggle with this idea a little, of seeing digital material as being 'real'. I think, in some cases, it has a lot to do with control - we can control what happens to things we can hold in our hands, but it's hard for us to trust in the reality of something that we, in essense, have no control over at all because it's not in front of us.

We also have a far different notion of privacy than the Ephemera Generation, because we grew up without being exposed to things that could allow us to share every thought every day, to put our lives on display for the world. You can't escape the long memory of the Internet though, so I think the oversharing might end one day, when folks realise just how much it can come back to bite you in the ass - or, they just might grow up not caring that it will.

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Former Hamilton bank employee speaks for thousands who can't over sales pressures

2017 06 13 - 22:56

"Canada's big bank employees who are speaking out against the questionable sales tactics and pressures they face"

Having worked for a bank offshoot sales program, I can honestly tell you that the pressure is tremendous. Mind you, I was in a call centre not affiliated with the bank in any way other than having been hired to sell its products, and sales centres are there only to do one thing - but the bank, and the insurance company they partnered with, were there all the time, pushing; and when they aren't, the team leads are.

Sales is an insidious thing, nasty at its core, and I'll have none of it. It does ugly things to people. The people at the centre who became good at it, and liked it, became unlikeable people - with only a few, very rare, exceptions. The environment in that place, and in every call centre I've ever worked at (for one reason or another), is... gossipy, smarmy.

I don't like selling things to people - I find it cheap (in the low-rent sense), dishonest, and invasive; and it's even worse when you're being pushed to sell something that you couldn't possibly believe in, or even buy yourself, but you're there because there's no other job to have. That kind of sales is nothing less than verbal, adult bullying, with the bulk of its victims being vulnerable people - the elderly, the poor. Every time I managed to make a sale, I felt dirty. I hated it; I hated it so much that the second HR came around the call centre talking about a work-from-home position that didn't involve sales, I leapt on it. I leapt on it so fast that I got in shit from my team lead for leaving the floor to apply for it.

On the note of selling things to people that aren't worth being bought, don't ever get credit card balance protection insurance. It's bullshit. You'd be better off having your balances protected under mortgage insurance, which is cheaper.

Also on that note, in Canada at least, it's not legal for a bank to sell insurance - this is why call centres are hired to do it. So if someone says they're from TD or CIBC or Scotiabank and they're calling to sell you insurance, they aren't in the bank at all. They're in some anonymous call centre somewhere.

And on the note of banks specifically, judging from the calls I got in that call centre, I'm fairly sure that CIBC has the worst credit card security in this country.

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