Archive for June, 2008

For Global Voices: About wheelchairs and mobility

For everyone I met and spoke with at Global Voices Citizen Media Summit I would like to pass on some information about mobility, disability, and wheelchairs. I got a lot of questions about my wheelchair and a lot of compliments on how well I get around. Here is my FAQ with some answers that people might like to know.

My wheelchair is a type called an ultralight rigid frame. It weighs 17 pounds (8 kilos) and though I am not particularly strong, I can pick it up with one hand. The wheels come off just like a quick-release bike wheel. I can take off the wheels in about 10 seconds, fold the chair, and put it into a car or into the trunk of a taxi.

A standard hospital wheelchair can weight 40, 50, 60 pounds (18-28 kilos). They are often designed to be pushed by an able-bodied walking person. With a lighter weight wheelchair, more people can gain independence.

The major manufacturers of ultralights are :

Quickie (Mine is a Quickie Ti)

http://www.quickie-wheelchairs.com/

Ti-Lite

http://www.tilite.com/store/

Colours

http://www.colourswheelchair.com/

But, these wheelchairs can be extremely expensive.

Here are two international projects to spread the availability of light weight, durable, low cost wheelchairs:

is an open source project meant to help people across the world to set up entire factories or shops to produce low cost, very durable & rugged chairs.

http://www.whirlwindwheelchair.org/

Free Wheelchair Mission is a project to ship very, very cheap and maintainable wheelchair kits to every possible country.

http://www.freewheelchairmission.org/thewheelchair.html

Getting the right size of wheelchair is also important. But, given a choice between the wrong size in a light weight, and the right size that’s very heavy, I would take the lightweight chair.

Two good sources of information are Wheelchair Junkie forums, and Gimp Girl, a community for women with disabilities.

One more thing, to answer the other question that you all are asking me:

My hair is dyed with Special Effects Blue Velvet and Punky Color Plum. It’s been that color for about 10 years. About once a month I put a little bit more purple to keep it bright.

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Thoughts on Budapest

Not like I’ve seen any of it but the airport and the hotel!

Hungarian food is goddamned delicious! It’s the best ever! The little pastries even beat the Belgium pastries!

There are billboards like crazy. It could have been Houston, getting off the plane. I noticed advertisements in London were oddly restrained and dorky. Brussels… what advertisements? Other than Antiquities and snooty-looking fashion and billboards for the opera I did not see any evidence of popular culture or the hopes and dreams and chains of regular people. But, the billboards in Budapest were all full of people bursting out of reality, leaping in the air in gravity-defying ways, living it up at water parks or wild with laughter and romance. The billboards were all along the highway next to row after row of identical enormous concrete block apartments stretching as far as I could see. The billboards seemed perhaps related to the feeling of wanting to escape, wanting some wildness, having the ability to get out of the concrete block. There was plenty of graffiti. It’s scruffy like Beijing but not so full of earnest and callous Industriousness. A lot of women on the street have dyed bright red and purple hair.

I am happily ensconced in my swank hotel (Novotel Centrum) which is lovely & perfectly accessible.

I might go venture out by myself if I can’t wake up Zond-7.

I blogged a bit of the conference and have notes on later panels but then I conked out completely, took a nap, had a bath, read Iain Banks, worked, slept again. I am walking okay, in fact I feel like I could walk a few blocks as I did yesterday with no problem, but my legs hurt a lot and I have the burning and buzzing down into both feet. So, I want to go out to see the city, and yet lying down for a while longer would help my legs feel a little more normal.

I’m sad that I won’t see more – it is beautiful and interesting and jumbledy here

I have been feeling really grateful for my in-between-ness and ability to get around and yet also frustrated & impatient at not just being all the way better. It’s hard because, what would you rather do, walk 5 blocks painfully and not be sure you could continue on with people going somewhere, or just give up and wheel… thus being set apart and judged and also an annoyance and yet freed to go as far as you want to go…

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Thoughts on the geography & economics of cyberspace from the Brussels airport

I noted the shapes of houses as soon as we crossed from France to Belgium. Houses even built alone in the middle of a field go straight up in a narrow box shape, like a brick stood on end, and a pointy roof, as if built into an invisible row of narrow box townhouses crammed together. I wondered if they had been in a row over the years and fire, age, or war destroyed the others? Or is it the function of laws and the accepted size of a single plot of land and house footprint? Or style detached now from any of those things so that if you built a house in the middle of a field, it would be that obelisk shape like a slice of cake standing alone?

I noted in my 4am haze on the way to the airport that there were not many billboards. Our notions of wasted space, bare space, unused, *needing* colonization and exploitation. Once you start painting “Chew Mailpouch” on the side of barns and slotting tiny ads into parking meters, every informationless space is an opportunity. Our rush to ad-driven web is such a colonization. We don’t put ads in the margins of books – but we do in magazines, which are replacing the book. Cyberspace was thought of by Gibson & Sterling early on as a sort of cave that paralleled our reality but underneath it or outside of it, using stuff it internally knew to build models of corporations, people, geographies, wealth and power. Relationships were not modelled that I can think of, other than as the flow of money – or were they modelled as information flow as well? But when I look at the world I am seeing it with *missing information*, missing overlays as in Spook Country or Stross’s Halting State, with not just facts and advertisements but game systems and fiction, enhancements to objects and thus to geography. Already I notice that my own geography differs from other people in that (as Zond-7 and I just did) I head for a power outlet or a wifi hot spot, rather than a chair and a window. We compete with other little technocratic foraminifera for the most mineral-rich spot in our ocean, detecting currents invisible or unimportant to our fellow travellers.

As I consider information-rich areas as somehow attractive or nutritious I think of windows again, or televisions, or paintings and art.

The “wasteland” idea I was talking about in my last post: we invent the idea of wasteland or uncolonized space, as with Patagonia or Antarctica or “The West” or Mars, areas that are occupied in one way or another but that by circumscription of language can be made empty. I was thinking of this as I looked at the cultivated fields next to the strips of land (waste land) alongside the railway (and that exists also along highways) and wondered that it is not under cultivation. That ecological niche costs too much to exploit, it has a particular transaction cost and the economy is such that it is not “worth it” to produce goods from the strips of land. Then i thought of the fire prevention goats in my county, a flock of goats which is herded from area to area to eat the underbrush in dry weather, entire fields of thorns, weeds, tall bristly grasses. In an area where people keep goats in order to survive, the roadside and “vacant” area weeds would be a hot commodity. In ours, the county actually pays someone to feed their goats. The roadside could grow hay mowed and sold, or it could be mowed and composted (which perhaps it already is). The amount of things that it is less expensive to *throw away* than to use boggles my mind and seems inherently wrong. So I looked at the side of the road and thought “why isn’t it being used?” and then realized that no — the weeds provide seeds to birds, habitat for insects, unpaved surface for rain to return filtered to groundwater reserves, and other benefits I can’t think or or see and which in fact drive me crazy when I see pointlessly concreted-over areas next to streams, where there could be useful weeds. When I was 17 or 18 I used to glue or wheat-paste little posters with poetry and stories on them onto parking meters, bus stops, bathroom stalls, or any places where people seemed to be waiting or liminal or stuck, as “OccuPations of Uninhabited Space” , OPUS for short, named after Takver’s mobiles in The Left Hand of Darkness, as an attempt to counteract the information colonization by advertisements with a different kind of information — the encrypted information, the steganography of fiction and poetry. My colonizations were invasive, were graffiti, were wrong, in a way that paid advertisements were not. Easy construction of web pages have made more space, more territory, for all of our information-emitting habits, our billboards to the future, our overlay of stories. I knew the instant I saw Mosaic for the first time that there would be enormous attention grabbing flashing colored advertisements not just colonizing the screen space of our machines but the internal landscape of our attention. A certain kind of space would be created in us that was not there before, for the organization and absorption of information.

Thus, the way it is “wrong” or colonialist/imperialist to look at the Patagonian landscape or a small town by quiet river and seeing it as empty and unused, full of potential, or misused, unfertilized (coded female and in need of impregnation) because not full of industry, mills, factories, garbage dumps, bustling workers and trains and tourists — in that same way I would question our assumption that “the Internet” is an empty space with infinite ecological niches waiting (yearning!) to be discovered and exploited. What we are seeing as “the Internet” while obviously a real thing is also an idea and a geography. I thought of the roadside weeds, the in-theory-valuable growing power or living-space of the land by the train tracks, and the way that pay-for-recycling created paying work for people collecting cans and bottles from trash, and speculated that “there should be” a movement to find and expose and create infrastructures for people to step in and use tech tools to create entire economic niches. A way to use web tools to lower the transaction costs, for those flocks of goats or the opportunity to publish books on the seat backs of buses. I thought of couchsurfing.com, and the site that lets people register the fruit trees in their suburban yards, to get rid of a surplus of plums, lemons, apricots. There *are* many such niches. But is this approach doing harm in some way? We might say of course not as “the Internet” does not have previous inhabitants to be damaged or ecosystems destroyed but it is the potential I wonder about and what avenues become narrowed as we barrel down these particular highways. For example, everyone wants to publish a book. They have photocopiers, they have paper and pens, why don’t they publish it in the sense of making it public by pasting it up on the wall somewhere public? It is not just the ambition of making it big and “publishing” 50,000 copies of that book because of the ways poets jockey and shark for their little 200-run letterpress hoo-ha dumpster-fillers or space-taker-uppers unread on their friends’ shelves. It is also because of property rights; it would be illegal for me to paste up my novel’s pages on the wall of the train station, even though it wouldn’t be particularly offensive, it might entertain people waiting in line, it might be aesthetically just as pleasing or unpleasing as the bare wall. As we colonize our vacant planet of Internet we have to watch out for the pressures that then make every space owned, even potential space (consider domain names).

Okay. I’m ready for my overlay implants now.

Onward to Budapest!

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Pastries and sidewalks in Belgium

New blog tagline, “History of Europe through sidewalk curb cuts and things available in cafes” since that is clearly what I’ll be writing about.

I expected the tunnel under the British Channel to be different somehow and momentous rather than just a tunnel you barely notice even if you’re looking. It should have some flashing orange lights and enormous stripey caution signs that go “WARNING! WARNING! YOU ARE UNDER THE MOTHERFUCKING OCEAN”. Instead I thought vague thoughts about roadsides, railway right of way and land ownership, property rights, the San Mateo flock of fire prevention goats, eminent domain, ideas of waste and use and exploitation, geology, glaciers, farming, compost, and forestry. I expected somehow that Britain even by the railway would look more cultivated than the U.S. in the sense that the land has been intensively in use for farming and permanent buildings for so long. In other words that there would be not so many vacant lots and fields that don’t seem to be growing anything or providing pasture or otherwise being used by humans to produce stuff. Once we got through the tunnel, France from the train looked a bit more like that and Belgium even more so.

I liked the train station at King’s Cross/ St. Pancras. Giant Quentin Blake cartoon on building as you pull out of the station… (or really as you pull in as it is a “welcome” message). Odd moment when train station guy came up and accosted me and began to order me around. “No… really… we’re just wandering around this mall for a couple of hours and getting lunch… if I need help I’ll find someone and ask” “NO BUT OMG YOU HAVE TO… AND… ” No actually I don’t THANKS. The hostility that comes through is amazing.

We were in first class in the train because you’re automatically put there if you are traveling in your own wheelchair. The expectation though seemed to be for me to be fairly completely unable to do anything. (Stories later.) The train was lovely and comfortable and the food was fabulous. I did feel strongly that the model of disability and being disabled is utterly broken as there were many frail older people or people traveling with small children who could have benefitted from being in first class and having help with bags, etc. when I just would like a bit more ramps and can walk up the train steps myself and even haul my wheelchair after me if need be. So again as with the broken model of AIDS education that most people got (if you are in a “high risk” category of person etc. etc rather than “if you do X then Y”) it is about identification, instead of behavior, action, immediate situational needs. So the identity politics model works for some things and situations, but for this situation, it doesn’t. The Eurostar staff was clearly trained to see “disabled person: this is what you do” but without any thought of “ask the person what they need” or “be flexible for anyone who needs it”. It is wrong and vile to be treated as a sort of pitiable sub-elite. I notice it everywhere but more here than in the U.S.

Hotel – steps, ugh – amusing punch-card plastic door key that I swear I saw described in some ancient back issue of 2600 magazine – room nice – so happy to nap – no wireless in room, extreme hardship – dinner with Zond-7′s Work People, at The Staff restobar (food fabulous, atmosphere perfect) talked of science fiction with G. who recommended the book “Godfather of the Kremlin”.

Morning, Zond-7 went off to the meeting and I tried to work from the lobby (no wireless in room) but the wireless was far too slow for me to even download my 500 emails much less do web page testing or fixing and to deal with Drupal on any level at all. I set off down Avenue (?) Louise recalling various cafes. Everywhere had a lot of stairs and I can of course do stairs but it seemed daunting to do with all my paraphrenalia and then be trapped in the gravity well and I realized that while I can get into a cafe and its stairs I cannot hang out in it all day long when bathroom is even more inaccessible and just the navigation around the cafes I looked into was multi-level as well. I went a few blocks past Zond-7′s meeting building and then realized everything was uphill; tried the cafe right next to it, which was nice but impossible to deal with; gave up and went to the office and just camped out trying to be oblivious that I was weirdly crashing this meeting that had nothing to do with me. (I did not go into the actual giant meeting but I did sit on the floor in the offices outside, ate their food and used their wireless and bathroom.) Oh well! Embarrassing! But I had to! I worked all day. Went back to hotel around 4 when I was starting to fall asleep sitting up. Oh,,, uphill up the horrible curbs and sidewalks of boring diplomaticky financial districty overpriced fashion-y clothes Brussels, it was really hell! I’m sure it’s a nice city… somewhere that I wasn’t! Napped. Read and got dressed again & Zond-7 came back & we went out to dinner at Brasserie Poelaert which was a lovely spot but not really great food. Worth it for the nice spot on the patio.

Our taxi got lost on the way there & we ended up in streets and streets of endless Antiquities and Tribal Arts and Anthropological Antiquities until I felt kind of sick to my stomach. Not like I come from anywhere that can hold its head up but, man, could you put some of Africa back where it came from maybe? OMG. Everything so reeking of wealth. The buildings I had been admiring with their amazing stone work seemed less beautiful and more signposts to colonial and capitalist horrors.

Dinner, I mostly listened and made occasional polite conversation because it was a very Worky Dinner involving what I think of as Global Foods (which I will explain again or link back to my explanation of but it is from Doris Lessing and I use it as my marker of U.N. cosmopolitan elite) and for me not being part of that world (though in my own technocrat one in parallel, in intersection, and perhaps in competition ultimately) to be there was a perturbation. So if you think of the job of that Global Foods job as being, absorption of tremendous amounts of detailed information and synthesis of it correctly and then telling people how to act, or trying to act collectively or in coalition — it is a hard job and very thinky and talky and yet it is difficult for other people to see what the hell you are actually doing. And moments like this dinner are the moments which I see as people being like conduits for information, they are points or nodes which need to intersect and people have to talk with each other. It would be lovely to quantify and analyze and people of course do. But, I feel in those situations that it is best for me to shut up as much as possible so people can get on with talking with each other. I am also vastly entertained by cosmopolitan informational tidbit exchange ie chatter about one’s favorite restaurants in various cities and tips on jet lag and how wearying Travel is but acceptable if the hotels are of the best. (All true. But nevertheless hilarious from outside of the upper class perspective.) I did explain myself and my presence a few times and had some nice conversational moments with GH and S. and the guy from Italy who explained to me about Article somethingorother which means the govt. has to consider open source software before it buys anything and how he is helping linux groups to band together formally in a way that the government can talk with. Interesting! I told R. from Germany about the way campaign contributions are public and were mashed up so you can see who on your street gave what, with google map info. (Shock and dismay!)

Tried to pack. Must get up and go to Budapest at 4am.

I forgot to say about the pastries. They were astonishingly great. Those little fruit sponge cake things soaked in liqueur, wrapped around custard, with a glazed egg yolk thing on top – was it actually a whole egg yolk? It stunned me. Well, Belgium does not know how to build a ramp, or a sidewalk, or have free wireless anyfreakingwhere, but its inner city roadways are very sensible and its food utterly rocks. (Also apparently it still knows how to loot the hell out of Africa and get rich off it, as i think of not just Antiquities but of Chocolate.)

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London rocks for wheelchair access at least for me

So far things are totally rocking. I have taken three cabs and they’ve all been nearly instant to stop for us, and all been accessible for me as they’re roomy, i can get in with the hand rail inside the back seat, then pull my (very light) wheelchair in after me, fitting it into the back seat without even taking the wheels off or folding the back down. There’s been a few curbs and stairs but even with jet lag I can manage. So if you are in a powerchair you’d have to scout or plan but if you can pop a small wheelie or go up a curb backwards you will be just fine in London in a manual chair.

Down sides are cabs cost buckets of money. I was on one train so far – the Heathrow Express – and had to get someone to let me through a hidden gate – and then holy crap when they say Mind the Gap they sure mean it. I see you are supposed to get someone to stick a ramp across the gap for your chair. I made one “gap” ie ABYSS FROM HELL but the other at Paddington was ridiculous – I got up and walked out which fortunately I am able to do and dragged the chair after me.

Visited C and A to pick up keys. Held their soothing and sweet baby who is in the kicky using-muscles stage and also cutting first teeth. Bonded telepathically with Washlet. There are stairs. I will Deal. Most of the time we will be in Foxy Hotel (for the days it was cheap) but the 3 days at c’s will save us like 1000 bucks (covering perfectly the days Foxy Hotel was insane like $350 a night rather than 80-ish).

Ate at Cantaloupe which seems like a vaguely latin american hipstery bar/burger/steak place. It was nice to lie back on soothing leather couches and contemplate the terracotta-red walls and green ceiling, and the hanging plants coming down. I had a mojito. There was free wireless.

Shoreditch/Hoxton seems the exactly right and fun neighborhood for me… We have space to work in next week out of c’s office

Our hotel near Waterloo sort of blows. it’s swanky and interesting but has only just begun to live. The supposed-to-be-fancy bathrobes actually suck, and mine has a funny tag on the lapel, a sticker that says “Rental…” with a price tag and bar code. The bathrobes are rented! Hahahah! And no one took off the price tag! I immediately broke an espresso cup, used all the bath towels (purpling one) and bled all over the sheets by accident when I fell asleep on first arrival. We have packed in a miracle of compact light carry-on-bag packing yet that means we have to unpack everything to find anything, so underwear and electronic gadgets are strewn all over the room. Later I will list our gadgets and cords for your amusement.

Passing out now. Wish me luck tomorrow on the Eurostar… I look forward to all this but very much to coming back to hang out in Shoreditch.

Weather is not too hot at ALL – it is springlike and mild – jackety in evening – I erred in unpacking my pajama pants and adding a skirt to sleep in – hotel has a/c

I am overlooking all the huge trains at Waterloo and can see st. pauls from bed

Taxi drove us past the Albert Memorial. I screamed uncontrollably with laughter for about half an hour – it was the Best Thing Ever.

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Somewhere in the air over Greenland in the middle of the night

As we took off and flew over San Francisco Bay, Oakland, the sharp line of yellow hills and maze of rivers, I felt a sort of agony that we can’t just leap up in the air and fly around. From above the world seems quick & beautiful and it’s simple to be first in one place, then in another. We’d remember all the possibilities around us. Why don’t we have anti-gravity! It’s so sad.

Somewhere over Colorado I was in agony again that we don’t have cities in the clouds and in space. Cathedral anvils! We should be zipping around them! Floating cities in layers, all over the place, with hanging gardens and impossible crystal palaces!

I had secret chocolate stashed away as a surprise and Zond-7 had downloaded the latest Dr. Who episode and brought a y-connector for our headphones so we could both hear it!

I messed around with eeebuntu some more on my eeepc. It’s been a while that I’ve been itching to play around with Hardy Heron. I like it and am looking forward to customizing it and really merging with my little machine so that I work smoothly on it.

I’m listening to “Disco” by The Butchies, a little delirious!

Now going back in time to this morning, I was too scattered still to be that ideal mom and partner I had thought I would have time to be but have not been for a while. I miss Rook and Moomin already. Moomin was so awesome with his friend Dragonboy . They both had really big stuffed animal snakes and were running around with them, and were playing Godzillas.

A new song… “Rocketship” by Shiny Toy Guns fits my mood, with its countdowns, gay dance club energy, and cheesy sentimental lyrics.

I came back from the bathroom at the airport gate to find Zond-7 lying on his back with his head on a heap of bags, laptop propped up on his chest, industrious and casual looking, surrounded by stuff like a funny little pack rat, in torn jeans and a tshirt and a suit jacket. It was so exactly what I do in an airport that I burst out laughing. As I joined him he remarked that we would look as if we both fell out of the wheelchair. It was very cosy there in the middle of all the airport people in our little world on the floor with computers and conversation. I told him about the totally insane blogs that I had seen all about packing one’s suitcase and travel, and the woman who declared exactly what one should and should not wear on an airplane with amazing snootiness as if there were some reason to all dress like bank tellers while riding in a damned airborne cattle car. As far as I could tell it boiled down to a whole lot of outrage over flip-flops. Who knew? I have never in my life thought of flip-flops as actively OFFENSIVE. We looked around at a crowd getting off a plane from Dallas. About 2/3 of those people were wearing flip flops. Horrors? Ahahahah! We tried to spot someone, anyone, dressed with the philosophy of this one blogger (who I’ll link to when I have net again, but she’s linked off Rose’s comment in an entry on Badgermama), and saw maybe one woman but then realized she worked at the airport, and then a bit later one guy who was so overdressed in casually draped scarf and white sunglasses that he was clearly a gay supermodel. Everyone else was in sweatpants, and jeans and regular-person clothes.

Our flight was delayed, we missed the connection, but lucked out and got onto the next flight to Heathrow which was boarding immediately. I had been rebooked magically I guess from special cripple-fu. They put Zond-7 first on standby when it got to our turn in line I think also from travelling-with-a-cripple-fu. The flight attendants got us seats together with a bit of embarrassing fuss… It wasn’t even really that stressful. I was in pain by that time but popped a vicodin as soon as I was sure we were staying on the plane.

The book I have to read, “Out” by Natsuo Kirino, is so annoying I’m not going to finish it! It seemed gruesome yet promising but I really don’t like where it’s going with the positioning of the rapist-murderer guy as the detective hero. I realize none of the characters are supposed to be likeable or ethical, and was able to read about the group of women chopping up the one dude’s body which was quite perturbing but, I could deal. But the internal monologue of the rapist & torturer was too much for me to handle. I also was very annoyed at the normalization of rape — the rapist at the factory is described by the women as a “pervert” and the narrator shows us that they are sort of turned on by the whole idea and were flattered or felt lucky to be harassed or in fear. So, that was beyond annoying to me. I could see it was heading towards a climactic rape-torture scene of the main female character. It is just the sort of incredibly annoying book they would make a big action movie out of.

I enjoyed the Dr. Who episode, “Turn Left”…

Minor SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

I have not seen all that many episodes of Dr. Who so I don’t have a lot of context or background. I enjoy nearly every episode I’ve seen, old or new!

In this one my criticism is that Donna is set up to be all Special but her agency is undermined. (Denial of Agency!) She does something, but doesn’t know what she’s doing or why, and then doesn’t remember it. She remembers little pieces, but doesn’t know what they mean!

I liked Donna though and her bravery and attitude.

Did you notice how the monster is mostly unseen, but that makes it all the more creepy?

So, nearly passes Bechdel test, but didn’t, because if you think about it Donna talks to the fortune teller (but about the Doctor, or because of him) and then with her mother (about Donna’s hypothetical desire to meet a man) and then with Rose (about the Doctor, again).

While I noticed those things I still liked the story and it made me want to go back to see all the episodes I’d missed that it was referencing.

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A city’s soul and a fat rant

For the next three weeks I’ll be traveling around! London, Brussels, Budapest, then London again. See you at Global Voices / Open Tech ! I’ve packed really well for the trip!

My tiny computer is very cute! I am still setting it up, but now it has functioning wireless and ubuntu on it! I described the process of installing eeebuntu on it!

Here’s a very lovely blog I came across thanks to paraleipsis, beautiful & inspiring & clean & messy all at once, really a poet of vignettes & cities:

http://rocalberto.blogspot.com/

One of the things i like about this city ( and of course i didnt like everything, you can see in many ways how spoiled many americans are) is that being direct is a quality, its just an arrow that goes directly to your heart, somethimes you say ouch!! now THATS a quality, If you are like that you skip many many problems on the way. They have created the city of either you are strong, direct and fast or you are dead, and self consciusness is high .

I liked the photos and thoughts on all those rusting things, and also when he goes to be a fireman for one week in a fireman class and thinks, Fuck Art, this is much better.

Every once in a while I come across a stranger’s blog and fall in love a little bit. Today I’m in also in love with Joy Nash and her Fat Rant #3:

I have a big juicy blog crush on justmylife and her dilemmas over her mom in law and swimming in the pool, and how her husband comes home from driving his concrete mixing truck and falls asleep in the recliner, and her potty mouthed bitching which I totally identify with and do all the time about every detail of my life complete with detail and overanalysis. There is something about the totally honest way she writes about the complexity of her extended family and daily life that I really admire. I think she is the secret-blog-friend I would most enjoy hanging out with in real life of all the hundreds of blogs I have seen in the last two months in my new job! She makes me miss Texas a bit… though I don’t know where she is…

Today in Actual Real non-blog life I dropped Moomin off with my friend SuperT (You remember her from WoolfCamp?) and her son Hamster; I worked like a dog; I then had a nice gossipy lunch with Sarah and then we had a supposedly 1 hour meeting which was so productive we just kept going for several more hours. We do work well together! And she is a fantastic project manager! We were on the same wavelength or something and just cut through all sorts of confusions, design issues, usability, and all that stuff.

Then I drove back hauling ass through massive traffic to pick up Moomin and I got to hang out a little bit with SuperT! I gave her a cd with mashups and I showed her how to make music playlists in iTunes and how to organize bookmark toolbar in Safari! A little computer help is a birthday present too! We sat and sweated and talked about our lives! I miss hanging out with her.

And of course I am still completely fascinated by the Obama with roses and unicorns. I would totally get this airbrushed on my truck if I still had a truck. Hello! He’s ejaculating roses! He has sparkles! What is he holding in his hand, I can’t tell?

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Action movie preview rant; racism in Indiana Jones

I went to my friend’s steampunk beach wedding with Rook and Zond-7 and all and sundry!

there is no charge for awesome

Aren’t they cute as hell?

Held a giant chiton (described in post below, but here’s the photo to show how huge it was!)

Went to RoboGames! Drove all over hell and back! Drove to Oakland and hung out with Minnie and Moomin and small Mr. Screamypants!

I saw the Indiana Jones movie, loving it and hating it. I was steeling myself for an inevitable ancient-Harrison-Ford romance with a plucky yet needing to be rescued 24 year old actress, and indeed the movie had all the pain of Smurfette Syndrome, ie, a bunch of male characters of varying kinds and one plucky girl. BUT…. it had the saving grace of having TWO female characters. The plucky girl was older than one would expect from craptastic sexist ageist Hollywood, like actually old enough to have a young adult son, and old enough for it not to be completely stereotypically annoyingly prize-like for her to be involved with Indiana Jones. And she got to kick ass some of the time. The other female character was the totally awesome Evil Psychic Communist in uniform complete with shiny black gloves and obsession with aliens and mind control. She was okay.

There was a really stupid and unnecessary racist bit with the …. clay-covered “naked savages” springing out of the masonry to defend the temple. Why, why, why? Why was that necessary? “Insert mob of non-white naked howling irrational people here.” What??? Why?! Covered in MUD! Wearing GRASS SKIRTS! HOWLING! I believe even ULULATING! Inexplicably kept alive for 5000 years! Fanatically DEVOTED! Mayan, yet Peruvian, yet grass skirt wearing yet wielding BOLAS! Then awe-struck, and bowing to the Artifact! Arrrgh. Rook and I sat there groaning and scoffing. Come on! More skulls, giant insects, sword fights, stone mechanisms rolling shut just a hair too late, waterfalls, yes, Racist Crap no. Anyway!

The pulp-like “ooo mayans” and “ooo nazca lines” and “ooo now we’re in the amazon” was just funny and overblown. I didn’t even get annoyed by it like I did with the weird stuff in Emperor’s New Groove. It was so bad it was hilarious. Same with the “magnetism”!

Back to the villain – I enjoyed the bit where

SPOILER!!!!!

She was going, “I WANT TO KNOW” and staring at the alien skeleton and the aliens began to beam stuff into her head! Yay! I wanted her to know! Go, Hero of the Order of Lenin! Go, psychic scientist crazy woman! My higher level analysis was that her gender was being conflated with communism and the “hive mind” of the aliens. Manliness was the independent thought and maverick status of Indiana Jones and his little rebel boy sidekick. The communist villain spoke at length about her evil plot, which was to gain enormous psychic powers so that everyone in the world’s thoughts would be like hers, they would be taught right thinking, but they wouldn’t know it wasn’t their thoughts. They’d think they were having their own ideas – but it would be communist mind control. Then, she ended up marvelling at the beauty of the alien hive mind, and merging orgasmically with it and squirting up into an interdimensional portal. You can see why I cheered. I don’t think I was meant to and instead it was meant to be punishment or comeuppance and a fit ending. I think also the idea of women in authority, in positions of equality and authority, in communist countries, was mixed up with current (and past) anxieties about feminism, PC-ness, and women’s rights, so that woman in authority = hive mind = evil.

Onward and backward to the previews!

The movie previews promised to be good since they would be action movies. I’m a HUGE sucker for explosions, chases, fights, and other action movie bullshit. Add space battles and I’m extra happy. So, no horrible “romantic comedy” previews I had to suffer through. Instead I got to admire the explosions, while bitching about the Smurfette Syndrome about 5 times in a row. “The Spirit” – Frank Miller movie, made fun of preview already, hilarious voiceover with superhero going “The city screams, she is my mother, she is my lover.” Sooo that makes you a motherfucker then? *sigh* So stupid! So annoying! So unnecessary! Then yet another movie about a Man having Important Man experiences with women as peripheral sex prizes (some movie about a guy living backwards in time. I would prefer they just LEAVE WOMEN COMPLETELY OUT, thanks but no thanks. Give explosions and battles, keep nasssty chips.) Hellboy which looked fucking awesome!!!! Awesome! Hello! Just great! But again, is man having his Man Moments because hollywood if in an action movie has to show how being a Man is all about heroism and heroism is all about being a man! I am so annoyed. I bet if the female characters have any good fighting moments of bravery it will be only because they are defending their man, or their dad, or their brother, or carrying out their father’s last wish, or some other annoying-ass thing whose subtext implies that women only exist in relation to men, especially when they kick ass. Then, Eagle Eye, which looked to be even more of the same. It is all about the profound experience of the lone man who in his lonely way has an Experience. Do I make myself clear, here? Why is this always the plot? It’s like the Joseph Campbell sexist as hell Hero’s Journey just mutated itself into every story possible.

Don’t even get me STARTED on Wall-e. FFS. I mean, I want to see a fucking awesome movie about some robots. In space. Why must it get all messed up with gender stuff? Why not just put some eyelashes and lipstick on that rescue-screamy-flirty-sexy robot girl? WTF with the robot gender roles? You know, if I were a robot, I’d think the nicest bit of would be getting to be ungendered. Like we didn’t go far enough with the movie where all the ants were heterosexual male/female couples (??) and the Bee one, and the one where the (male) cattle had udders? What?

Okay I’m glad I got that off my chest! Otherwise I had an intense few days (and nights) at work, a weekend packed with social events, I am concentrating hard on walking but it’s very hard, and Rook and I gardened a little bit, which was super nice since it’s been so neglected.

I have been noticing how my car is like my spaceship and everywhere I go is like an expensive gravity well. Some places, like the building I work in, or a grocery store, suck you into their enormous gravity well and it is hard to achieve escape velocity. For those, I need the powerful shuttlecraft of my wheelchair. For gas stations, small cafes, and places that can be traversed easily, I can achieve escape velocity handily with only the EVA jetpack of my crutches or cane. You think I am joking about imagining that those annoying slow wheelchair lifts are the airlock? No… I’m really imagining it and enjoying it with a slightly embarrassed smile in case anyone can read my thoughts. I prefer the Belter lifestyle without going near those annoying gravity wells where I am way too heavy, give me the asteroids any day. What this means in practical reality is that I go to the Carl’s Jr. drive through a lot these days.

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Waving out the window

As I drove in heavy traffic down Embarcadero halfway around the tip of San Francisco I noticed a really bored kid in the SUV in front of me and waved. Wow, he lit up! We began waving and making faces. He was excitedly telling the grown ups about it.

At the stoplights I would make horrible faces and give myself rabbit ears and pretend to be fighting my own fist. He was totally glowing with un-boredom and surprise, which made my day.

I like to think that years from now he will remember his family’s tourist trip to SF as “that one time when the crazy stranger lady made the faces at me in the car”!

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What will it take to impeach Bush and Cheney?

I am so sick and tired of hearing politicians and journalists shake their heads and say there is no way Bush will be impeached because we are in a war. Oh great … so why not just go TEAR UP THE CONSTITUTION right now? If you’re not going to actually uphold it, or uphold your goddamn oath to defend it, then what good is it to keep around?

I am so disgusted with Nancy Pelosi, with Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein and even with my representative in Congress, Anna Eshoo. What are they thinking? They just don’t want to make Democrats look bad, politically, or something? What do they think they’ve been doing for all these years? Hiding like scared idiots…. Looking worse than bad. Why don’t they make up their minds to do what is right?

I have been blogging since the war started that we should impeach Bush and Cheney, I’m not a powerful person, if I can say it, why can’t they? What is wrong with my stupid political representatives? Don’t they have the slightest particle of ethics aside from misguided “pragmatism” and covering their own asses? Would ANYTHING make them stand up and say something?

Seriously, WHAT would go over the line for them?

I really expected better of Nancy Pelosi than to see her up there saying that there is no way she will ever back impeachment.

No way at all? What the hell?

I would like an actual journalist to ask Pelosi, where is her line? What would be an impeaching offense? Can Bush just do anything he damn well pleases? Apparently so! What would make her say, like Rep. Cynthia McKinney did, that we should impeach Bush?

Thank you former Representative McKinney for doing that!

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2006

Ms. McKINNEY. Mr. Speaker, I wish to enter the following into the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD:

ADDENDA TO A RESOLUTION INTRODUCING ARTICLES OF IMPEACHMENT AGAINST GEORGE WALKER BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, AND OTHER OFFICIALS: FURTHER ACTIONS BY THE PRESIDENT THAT WARRANT FURTHER INVESTIGATION AS POSSIBLE GROUNDS FOR IMPEACHMENT AS IDENTIFIED BY MANY SCHOLARS, LAWYERS AND CONCERNED CITIZENS

I. FAILURE TO ENSURE THE LAWS ARE FAITHFULLY EXECUTED

(1) Self-Exemption From Laws Upon Signing.

(2) Suspension of Basic Legal Proceedings.

(3) Promoting Illegal War.

(4) Promoting Torture.

(5) Promoting Kidnappings and Renditions for Torture.

(6) Use of Illegal Weapons.

II. ABUSE OF OFFICE AND OF EXECUTIVE PRIVILEGE

(1) Obstructing Inquiry and Detection.

(2) Replacing the Veto With Signing Statements.



It goes on from there! And it doesn’t end for a good long while.

I hope at least the Democrats and certainly some of the better Republicans will WAKE UP and realize, they can’t cover their asses forever and we are NOT heading to police state USA.
The cold light of history will expose their complicity in Bush and Cheney’s war crimes.

Write to Senator Boxer: https://boxer.senate.gov/index.cfm
To Feinstein: http://feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=ContactUs.EmailMe
To Pelosi in her role as Speaker of the House: http://www.speaker.gov/contact

Just write to them and let them know your mind.

I don’t know what good that will do, but let’s do it anyway. I feel like blogging about it is more effective, and for me it represents how I feel a lot better, but I’m doing the direct emails too in the hopes that my drop in the bucket will count for something.

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