28 Feb 2005, 8:07pm
Comments Off on Good Vibration or Bad Vibe?

Good Vibration or Bad Vibe?

Thanks toPresurfer we now now that sex toys can come from wall dispensers in Netherlands in at least one city, just like in Japan while remaining illegal in Alabama and Texas in the US. In the Canada I’ve seen they are treated like liquor is my province i.e. at speciality age check stores only. Which I think is rather absurd. Why not in departments stores like everything else from kitchen sink stoppers to dried salmon and running shoes? Why should it have to even be debated on grounds of medical device? It’s not something with inherant moral, religious, political or pathological aspects any more than a fork has to be colored that way.

But for the estimated hundreds of thousands of Alabamans who have a disability, according to the article by Regina Lynn Wired News, You have a Rx for that Vibrator?, the restriction could be a pain from viewpoint of privacy, autonomy, and motor control or pain, paralysis restrictions.

Cory Silverberg, a sex educator and co-author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability, says that unfortunately, “sex is not considered an activity of daily living” when it comes to attendant care for people with disabilities.

“It is illegal for a caregiver to refuse to cook a meal,” he says, or to perform other intimate services such as help with toileting and bathing. “Yet (an attendant) can refuse to put a condom on someone who wants to have sex with his partner.”

That doesn’t seem right. It seems to overstep boundaries of respect to deny the options the way you might try to limit a child. I don’t like squeamishness and overly delicateness. Who or what is that taboo to serve? It takes nothing from sexual innocence any more than displaying tampons or pads, or having condom machines, would corrupt the “mystery” or “intimacy” of female or male forms. It isn’t as if sensualness is likely to suddenly become hackneyed nor an obession to shut down society. There’s too much else in the world to gain a monopoly.

Literacy and options can only improve on silence in this case at least.

Soundtrack: Popcicle Toes and I’ll string Along With You by Diana Krall (that voice would be an adjunct to world peace!)
Menu: pumpernickel bread, red and brown rice, miser wat and peas.

27 Feb 2005, 6:50pm
Poem Drafts
1 comment


A first draft poem:

i would photograph my goosebumps
and show them to you but the focus
of finding camera, rummaging,
in the time it takes to turn
a mechanical eye on myself
the skin has flattened
from cats tongue to cream again

A new issue of Subtle Tea is steeped to be poured.

26 Feb 2005, 12:53pm

Poetry Faceoff Season

It’s national Poetry Faceoff season again. The bravest and best poets shout out, whisper, rap, sing or strut their best poem on the theme selected by the national broadcaster for a chance to be the regional, provincial or national champ. Many of the live events are over but have yet to be broadcast.

3 poets I’ve had the pleasure of hearing before, Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm, Kevin Matthews and Ritallin the Cerbral Stimulant, are among the finalist competing March 1st for the Ottawa title.

Every year the pot gets bigger. Regional winners get featured in a short film this year.

Vancouver’s winner will be announced later today. Endre Farcus already won in Montreal on the 15th. Toronto’s compettion is the same time as Ottawa’s. The flash site lists air times. The next is Monday between 4 and 6 pm (EST) for Regina’s winners.

To hold you over, try Nafeesa with some at CD Baby.

Coming up, the previous Poet Laureate will be one of the workshop leaders at the Victoria School of Writing this summer. That’s the he who seized the moment two years ago with the attention gambit press release,

Bowering claims the Americans have had these poems, ominously referred to as “Slam,” since the early-to-mid eighties and have been trying to topple the literary traditions of other nations ever since.

He has entreated the UN to get involved by sending in trained Poem Inspectors and has condemned U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins as a “puppet laureate” for allowing such notions to spread under his administration. “At least with Robert Pinsky, we in Canada felt we could sleep under the gentle swelters of melifluous moonlight. But now that Collins and his allow-all airs have seized power, we fear, we fear; oh, we fear,” said Bowering.

From GotPoetry. Lastly, later this week will be a conference on Poetics and Public Life. Too late for me but maybe if you’re closer or free then…

24 Feb 2005, 5:20pm
Comments Off on Who is In Charge of Government?

Who is In Charge of Government?

The national budget came down yesterday. There’s something to love or hate or yawn to regardless of whether you’re a pessimist, optimist or just missed. There’s so much of a kuffufle, it makes some want to just buy an island and live simpler without so much intervention of tax and trade, funding and feuding of governments affecting choice of day-to-day. But governments are nothing but a collection of individuals who are trying to sort out too many time demands like the rest of us.

With so many people involved, each wanting something different of the govenment they can’t please everyone unless Everyone settles among themselves one list of what they want. As a government it must sometimes seems like playing a chess game with a group of hyperactive children who keeps changing the rules as the game goes along.

It’s frustrating in part becasue we may intellectually know that that the bureaucratic structure of checks, balances were made for a reason but can feel how easily it could be so easy. Names, “Do as I (Joanne Blow on the street) say now.”

It would be straighforward if it weren’t for them and whose job it is having hundreds of higher priorities to do as I Joanne Blow say. There’s the issue of mandate, manpower, who will or won’t get compensated for their time. Accountablity of time can tie wrists of common sense as we do this marathon limbo of meeting minimum requirements, priorities based on squeaky-wheel politics.

Priorities shift with whomever has the floor and everyone runs to wherever the loudest squawk comes from. No one has any slack to pick up the extra bits that are no one’s mandate. The usual ease of day-to-day life is what makes overdesigned, overlegislated, rough-and-ready clunky objects/ exchanges/sytems so objectionable. Expediency makes us want to blow past all the nonsense not applicable to this real situation of the moment, say, to throw out a peed on sofa from a public space and just get it done.

To flip the identities in my metaphor, an issue is a baby and we are the adults, right?

So the scece is as if there’s a tantrumming child that you are babysitting. How to respond? Quick and dirty seems to shortcut all the fuss. Where do you draw the line and firmly say “no, not me, not now” and call mommy to take back the kid because it’s her baby anyway? Mommy Government is there for a reason. And if Mommy hems and haws and says “uuuuuuh, sure….I’ll be there…sometime…” how does a babysitter pull rank on Mommy? Or on the problem baby for that matter?

Grafitti on public property, vandalism, consistant filth in a bus shelter. Lodging complaints jsut to create a paper trail to be called on by legislators at funding time seems counterintuitive. Wordlessly fix it ourselves seems more practical. A rogue move is almost the most sensible. Even though theere are people emplyed to do these jobs, the funding is not there to allow them enough time to do a job that they can be proud of. Everything is backlogged from courts to hospitals to cleaning schedules. Schools don’t have phys. Ed teachers, nor music teachers nor librarians. Parent and student effort supplements sports and libraries where the government used to distribute funds.

Where does indivividual responsibility to pick up the slack stop? Do we train to be medics as well as funding overstretches what doctors ahve time to do?

I’m all in favor of being well informed, active citizens taking initiative, autonomously cementing society with good works. But to just pay out of pocket or out of sweat and do it yourself is sort of a nail on the wall versus closet organizer system and we already have a closet organizer system. We’re living in a closet when we’re with a collection of groups, communities of knowledge and in society broadly. So why do so many feel like tacking nails up?

Once you have so many hats and whatnots to hang, a closet organizer starts to make sense and an exposed system where all the clutter of nails seems bad. The system was built so it is in place to handle minutae just like this so the Average Joanne can be free to specialize in task as government sepcialized in their task so each person doesn’t have to personally negotiate rules and exchange with all the suppliers needed to run a modern life of world economy.

It’s simple with a government. You call. They act.

Unfortunately the call centre is known to have the switchboard overloaded with people talking at length with emotionalism that just saps productivity time.

And of course getting anything to be that easy, to look seamless not to mention to be streamlined is never easy or fast. The simpler it is, the longer it takes. You know that with writing, with mastery of anything. It takes blood, sweat, tears and guts it takes to eschew the bells-and-whistling-it-up so that each contributor has left a mark to show they are doing something that contributes. Is the bottom line, bunary yes-no question, Does it work? yes or no?

If no, do we throw the baby out with the bathwater or take a firm active hand in raising it to our image of a responsive, responsible part of society?

It doesn’t make a difference is a cop out. We have to get off our duffs and speak to the appropriate ears that can lead to action, be willing to spend the time and public coffers on organizing and plebiciting and showing up. The last year’s consulation on changing voting boundaries had distributed flyers to the 1 million municipal population and 25 sent a written reply and under a hundred actually showed up for the process.

In this case fewer hands make lighter work. Less debate. More bellyaching from armchair citizens after the fact.

Enough, to music:
Living Out Loud Lyrics

All my demons, I have fought ’em
Inhibitions, I have lost ’em
It wasn’t easy, but I taught ’em
To just get out of my way
And now, every breath I’m breathing,
The air is so much sweeter
Now that my heart has finally found a way

To start living out loud
My soul’s been dying
To scream and shout
And shatter the silence
It’s a beautiful sound, when each moment counts

24 Feb 2005, 1:29pm
Ergonomics / Design
Comments Off on Doing One Thing Flawlessly

Doing One Thing Flawlessly

Have you

  • lived where the lightswitch was just not the right place?
  • lived where the cupboard door height was in your blind spot and you somehow banged your head more than once?
  • Driven a car which had the window controls on the dash but the lock controls where the window controls usually are?
  • Worn something with a buttonhole a tiny but too big or too small?
  • Had a program with features under an odd menu item that baffles you?

How about something simple you need done but have to go through voicemail menus only to finally land at a machine? Or something simple you have to get done but it is nobody’s job to do it and you run from department to department to get authorization or help?

Things are sometimes overly complex, too poorly thought out for every function. But sometimes, most of the time, things go smoothly. The elevator doesn’t buck and black out. The power comes on and stays on in maybe places that don’t do rotating brownouts. When you get on a bus (at least here) you can expect to get to your destination without hijackings, robberies or bus breakdowns. When you open the closet in the morning all the hangers haven’t buckled. As poorly designed as the stove’s controls might be it makes heat. Things largely go according to plan. People don’t exactly understand each other but seem to get the functional just much of the time and can sort it out the rest of the way as need be.

beautiful hanger
Figure A.

It is ergonomic, simple, unflourished, understated and functional, not drawing attention to its design or designer.

This hanger is an example of detailwork done well. Using it is not a tiny hassle.

  • It isn’t wood with slivers to find and seams to open.
  • It isn’t thin metal that slowly turns into a diamond shape under the weight of pants.
  • It has no paint to chip off,
  • no rigidity to shear under a wool coat’s load,
  • no metal that rusts onto clothes,
  • no paper of foam thingee to fall off of it or clutter its lines.
  • It has no plastic coating to age, crack and leave sharp edges.
  • Nor does it have built in clamps, hooks or ridges to keep a garment from slipping off.
  • It doesn’t ding merrily against the other hangers as if it were a windchime.

It does one thing and does it well. Each day, it is a simple pleasure to use, touch and see.

hanger2 hanger1

The grey hanger is gracious. It’s more common counterpart is fairly good but is less ergonomically satisfying. The twists of wire may be useful for strengthening but do they need to be there? The finish is uneven and the neck always takes that extra flick of the wrist to hike it over the bar because of its curve. All the little twists add nothing to function from the user-end, however they may serve from the manufactuing- and design-end.

It’s simple like the solutions for astronaughts writing in space. (You may have heard the Russian program’s solution was to just use a pencil while NASA spent millions researching a ball point pen). The space pen is nothing to be sniffed at. No boondoggle. It can write upsidedown, under water in a an astonishing range of heat without every skipping a bit. It never explodes from pressure or temperature change unlike your typical Bic or Papermate. It has a beautiful hand feel and sleek design.It has no grooves to catch up dirt, and unfailingly works. Pens are lovely. I collected them but this space pen has made the others obsolete and folk-art jobs really. Good quality has that effect. It’s like being in the room with personal integrity , someone who asks the basic questions

  • what are we trying to do?
  • what impact do we expect?
  • how do we know when we have achieved it?
  • what tells us that we know the cause and effect?
  • does everyone see how useful that idea was?

Positivity. Ever so useful.

Menu:Avocado and tomato on rye and banana, next: long macaroni with bolognese sauce with TVP

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