Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Decolonize DC? (un)Occupy DC?

Saturday we had a group discussion about the future directions of OccupyDC. It was quite clear that privilige was a major issue. Not just that it was talked about a lot by marginalized communities but by the fact that it caused a lot of disruption to the process. At the end of the day we listed what we would do and I put my name down for working on a name change. Well, here is the current draft of the proposal.


After our big group meeting it was pretty obvious the issues of privilige and minority voices was a pretty large issue. Without rehashing all of the details I am guessing that was pretty clear to anyone there! It is not like it will go away soon. The absolute worst thing we can do is to ignore it too as each time it comes up it will be an even bigger issue and I doubt anyone wants that. Just look at the movement as a whole to see what happens when voices are constantly supressed. Remember that all of the minority groups are part of the 99% too. In fact when you add all of us up you get a pretty significant amount of it! People of colour, women, people with disabilities, anyone outside the gender or sexuality 'norm', on and on.

So I am making a proposal that we change our name. There are many other things we could have done instead, the key thing is that we actually believe in what we do to address the issue. Putting something progressive in the site guidelines or our goals means nothing if people do not actually believe it was A Good Idea. This proposal focuses on our name precisely because it is about our identity. It is not just something we changed to placate one group or another.

Back to the proposal. The term 'occupy' is extremely problematic to indigenous communities, both in the US and abroad. Here we have been occupying since 1492. In other countries the colonization is more overt. For both the terminology brings up a lot of issues. Two possible ideas (unless someone suggests more) based on what other groups already used are "Decolonize DC" and "(un)OccupyDC". Maybe something like "Decolonize K Street/OccupyDC"? These name changes tie us more closely to the DC statehood movement too.

As one of the major groups (if not by size, at least by location) a lot of people look to us and what we do. We are in a better position to change the name that some small group in the middle of nowhere. Yes, GAs are independent, just as the people that form them are individuals, but the price for being in the position we are in is we have to always be mindfull of the examples we set. From a PR perspective we are one of the few places where a rebranding has the most chance of sucess.

This may seem like yet another group advancing issues that at first seem to have no relation to our goals. I would maintain all of them are linked to what we stand for though. For those that are calling BS on that I am most familiar with Pine Ridge Reservation so go and google that when you can.

Look at the pictures of the houses. Do you really think they are not in a housing crisis?

Look up the average salary (I will save you the trouble, it is $3000). Would giving everyone an equal chance not help?

Read up on the history, specifically broken treaties. Are these the actions of a noncorrupt democratic government by and for the people?

Dig deeper. Do you not see how greed, corruption and what companies illegally obtained exasperated the problem?

Okay, so what will changing the name do for all that? We are recognizing the problem. Not just as lip service but by our actions. That has had the most impact on everything we have taken on so far, rather than just yelling in the streets we have actually been building the community we wanted. By doing so we will get more people involved in the movement. Not just indigenous people but anyone who can see how that reflects on how we want to be seen. That we recognize issues and are willing to change our behaviours.

I have talked about indigenous communities because the connection is the most obvious. It does not take a huge logical leap though to tie those arguments (and sometimes the word itself) to every marginalized group.

I can see the arguments against this particular proposal so repeating them back does not add information. Wanting a common name. That even if every Occupy group became some other name overnight the rest of the world would still call us Occupy. That the word occupy is shorter and more concise.

No matter the outcome I still think this is a worthwhile discussion though. At the bare minimum we get these issues out in the open. If you are against giving margiinalized communities a voice please ask yourself why. Really ask yourself, not just give some pat reflex answer that you thought of in a few seconds.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Occupy and power

What is Occupy’s end game? What do they want? Who is the leader?

People insist on missing the whole point, the issue is to point to a problem. The solution is not something you can put in a soundbite but the general shape is easy to see who wants to.

It is about giving people a chance to take their power back.

Look at it this way, the power of an individual’s vote is the same for the most down-on-their-luck homeless person as it is for the richest person in the country. Government is absolutely nothing without the consent of the people.

The encampments and protests are important because they give something to focus on, that the movement is not going away. They are not the movement though. Individually, people are realising that, yes, they have the power to change things when they band together.

Whether it happened by accident or not, a lot of things are ideal it seems. Decisions need to be made so there is a general assembly, then people learn again what democracy actually is and find their voice. Due to logistics people have tents, which are probably more important as symbols than any sign or slogan.

Back in early October I predicted that we would see some pretty big changes in weeks or months. Not long after the news reports were filled with stories about how we had changed the public discourse. Based on that it looks like 2012 will be an interesting year.

Friday, October 07, 2011

October 7-9, 2011 #occupydc

The first day and first weekend there. While it started on the 1st I was unable to get there so had been following the tweets. While obviously basic at the time, by they had some clear directions. While the end result of this will be wonderful, the process just in getting there is amazing!

Kate Bornstein tweeted that she just got home to NYC and wanted suggestions of what to do. Of course, I immediately replied "occupy wall street". She did and had a blast.

While holding signs for the traffic occasionally some of them will yell at you, but they are hilarious when they try. The top 2 were 'get a job!' (actually, I have one, but thanks for the advice) and 'hippies!' (I take being compared to people I look up to, most who were hippies in their youth, as a compliment for some odd reason, so thanks again). This is a symptom of why the occupy movement will not be gotten rid of, people and governments think they know how to 'deal with' protests and this one completely breaks all of their ideas on how to do so.

The usual, signs.
SIgn Pile

A reporter.

The food table grew up from things on a bench just since Friday!
the food bench grows a table

The information table, the library is on the ground.
info table/library

What? There is a daily meeting to decide things here by consensus?
General Assembly - 10/8/11 #3

Well, I guess I will make a sign too.
my sign - 10/8/11

Wake me up when September ends

This ties in nicely to the most 'recent' post in this blog too which was about the student revolution in Iran. By now most people know about the Occupy movement, particularly if you are in the United States.

As October draws to a close (yes, as it closes, I will backdate posts dealing with Occupy as needed to put them in context of what day it was) it makes for an interesting look back. A month ago most people were not even aware of it. Even though I follow protests I was only dimly aware of it because a major project was due at the end of the month that even sleep could not escape from.

Then things changed. The march across Brooklyn Bridge on Oct 1, 700 arrested, hundreds of other Occupations sprang up overnight in cities around the world and the official count would pass 2000 cities (with more than 1 occupation in some cities, and some of those 'cities' are state coalitions) by the end of October.

OccupyDC started on K Street (McPherson Square) on October 1. Some confusion comes in because an unrelated group (although individuals cross over naturally) started an antiwar protest in Freedom Plaza on the 6th and decided to also call themselves 'occupydc'. Because of various time commitments I was unable to get there until the 7th so will change the date on this to be then.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The new paradigm

[note to ppl in the non-English world, I am using 'Alice in Wonderland' references to tie things together]

"Is that a rabbit in a waistcoat with a pocketwatch?"

At the cursory level, there was an election in Iran. It was pretty obvious to most people around the world massive election-rigging went on. The losing party demonstrated and the government fought back.

"Why is it running towards that tree?"

The protest quickly became not about the election, but about fundamental rights. That could be easily seen from both what the protesters were doing and how the world was interested in it.

"It looks like there is a funny hole in it the rabbit went into."

A cause people quickly pointed to was the prevalence of the internet. This is an easy one to do as it is nice, neat, and explainable. In one sense it is true: how can you not feel am emotional tug when you read what may be the last thing another human being typed?

"The inside of this tree looks funny ..."

I think the world is shifting to a new way of looking at things. It the past individual countries were stand-alone entities. A web with others of treaties and animosities, sure, but completely separate when you came right down to it. Now though people are starting to see themselves as world citizens first. Hurt any part of that collective and the whole world feels the impact and stands beside the affected part of it.

Recent events show it more and more, but it seems to be on the increase. Look at the reaction to the 9/11 attacks in 2001. That was forgotten quickly though. Now 8 years later look how linked people are to the events in Iran even after the news has stopped covering it.

True, there are cultural and legal differences depending on what country you are in but you have that if you compare, oh, Boston with a small town in Alabama.

So we have gone from what looks like a localised political squabble to a worldwide movement. How far down the rabbit hole will this path take us?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Things so far

(note that, for consistency, all reference to times are EST unless noted, Iran is 8.5 hours ahead of us)

Leading up to this weekend I heard Iran mentioned the previous weekend when I was out of town, but without a context I did not know what was going on. Then all week there were street rallies there. While there was clear injustice involved, there was little violence so I did not lose much sleep over it. Green my twitter icon and change my location there, set up a TOR proxy on Friday, and all that.

There was a huge news blackout and the typical news sources (CNN, MSNBC, etc) were lagging far behind the events. So people were turning to social networking sites, particularly twitter, to get news and pass it on. There were Iranian government agents in the crowd, but they were usually spotted soon after they started spreading disinformation and blocked. In fact, twitter was regarded as so important as a news link that the state department had them reschedule a maintenance downtime.
It was announced that Khomenei would be talking on Friday, after he led a prayer service. Thursday night I was watching Rachel Maddow’s show. The talking head she had on gave three options of what he would say: overturn the election results, stall for more time to let the process work, or solidly support an obviously stolen presidential election.

Well, he chose the last option instead. Essentially saying if people were not for him they were against him. Not only did he throw his support behind the selected president, but he was quite clear that the protests had to stop. A huge protest had already been planned for the next day, so the entire world was watching to see what would happen. The people who would be protesting in Iran made twitters and posts that were clear acceptance that they might die the next day. Reading them was heartbreaking, knowing there was little anyone outside of the country could do.

Early Saturday morning I could not sleep. I woke up before the protest was due to start and checked out twitter. After being up for a few hours I went back to sleep for another hour or two waiting for things to start. At the appointed time it looked like nothing was happening. Police were blocking the entrance to the square where the protesters were going to gather. Several tense hours went by … then everything erupted and events happened quickly. I will let the tweets I have at the end of this blog post speak to them, as they also give a sense of my state of mind.

Saturday evening I needed to take a break and process things. I walked about 1.5 miles down the Mt Vernon trail and walked back. On Sunday morning I was grabbing sleep about 2 hours at a time, then getting up to check on twitter and the TV news. Sunday afternoon I was at a rally in DC (the Sea of Green that was called for, I had been avoiding the regime change marches, but unfortunately the two groups merged). After that was the midsummer ritual at my Wicca Circle … my sending energy, strength, healing, and protection to the protesters.

As I type this another rally is going on in Iran. It also sounds like the general strike is being planned to start tomorrow.

Through twitter news and images got out. I verified as best I could each one before retweeting them, so read my twitter archives for the full story. Which also gives you an idea of my sleep schedule this weekend. Note that the times are Iran times in order to confuse the authorities. Also that ‘RT” means retweet (a relayed tweet). It was so hard to pick and choose, but read the archives for more. A few of the following have comments from me in brackets. Some of them starting on Thursday and ending this morning:

RT BBC have film of rally with John Simpson. Biggest crowd to take to streets in 30 years. Estimate more than 2 mill #iranelection #gr88:

RT @InfoTick EVERYONE everywhere set ur LOCATION 2 TEHRAN, IRAN! Confuse them.They can't follow everyone! PLS RT! #IranElection
[a pretty popular thing to do]

RT Simple ways to help Iranian free speech: http://is.gd/13U0V #IranElection #gr88 Pls RT

RT From Iran: "140 characters is a novel when you're being shot at."

RT from Iran MOUSAVI - This Gov is not what Khomeini wanted for Iran - I will change all this - This is the SEA of GREEN - RT RT RT


RT Death to Theocracy! Khamenei has confirmed that if you are not 'for' him, you are "against." reminiscent of G.W. Bush.

RT from Iran Iranian ppl will go w/Ganhdi-like protests, we genuinely believe peaceful protests 2 B most powerful.

CNN, BBC not covering Iran much this AM, more news from twitter, some from MSNBC :(

RT FROM MOUSAVI CRUCIAL Demonstration on Saturday 16:00 in Tehran and all around the world, please spread this message around.#iranelection

RT CNN Breaking News: (e-mails from Iran) Quasi Martial Law in place now! Checkpoints/Roadblocks w/ armed state militia!!

RT: Mousavi asks ALL WORLD to WEAR GREEN SUNDAY! Help FREE IRAN! Please Participate Spread Message Beyond Twitter #Iranelection #GR88

really humbling that some tweets I am reading from Iran could be from ppl that will not be here by the time I wake up
[this is not just the news on the tv, it is real people who I am following on twitter]

RT from Iran I have one vote. I gave it to Moussavi. I have one life. I will give it for Freedom.
[how someone prepared for what would happen]

RT "On 9/11, the world said we were all Americans. Tonight, we're all Iranian" -Daniel Mangrum #iranelection
[that is for sure!]

to the Iranian protesters: know that the entire world would be proud to call you friends #iranelections
[that is not an exaggeration]

I spent the past few hours having convos with all 7 of my deities (I am a Wiccan) how they could each help over there #iranelection

as my partner and I both get up (no, not wake up) and stumble towards our computers ... #iranelection

[here they go …]

RT from Iran Helicopters pouring acid on people from the sky - #Iranelection

RT from Iran Mousavi - Confirmed - I have prepared for martyrdom - #Iranelection

re @persiankiwi it is also World Refugee Day today ... remember that anyone trying to get to an embassy #iranelection
[people were going to embassies rather than hospitals, as they risked arrest there]

RT From Iran: Bassij opened gunfire on people near Sadeghieh, West of Tehran,till now 4 died! #iranelection
[the authorities are desperate]

RT @persiankiwi: Mousavi - confirmed - IF I AM ARRESTED THE NATION IS TO STRIKE INDEFINITELY - #Iranelection RT RT RT

RT RT: VIDEO GRAPHIC: PLEASE RT DEATH OF MY SISTER http://bit.ly/LuB5L #iranelection
[first video I saw of someone being killed in the protests]

DC people - 3 pm tomorrow - Dupont Circle - sitin wearing green - http://twurl.nl/ge1gpi

RT Tehran 6-20 GIRL STANDING WITH HER FATHER MURDERED BY BASIJI http://tiny.cc/vbQcA #iranelection #gr88 #tehran
[this was Neda … who became a martyr and a symbol, there was no turning back now]

RT Beautiful quote today: "Iran isn't falling -- it's standing up."

RT IRANIANS Confirmed injured protesters removed from hospitals and taken away by Basij. INJURED GO TO EMBASSIES NOT HOSPITAL. #IranElection

RT from Iran: Mousavi willing to die for Iran, but Ahmadinejad doesn't have the courage to show his face for his country. RT
[what a leader, huh?]

rt @i64 This is my last tweet, I will be in the protests, I might tweet tomorrow, can't be sure about it. (sent 8 hrs ago, nada since -K)
[I really hope the person just meant the last weet of the day]

going for a walk now, I need to get out and meditate for a bit
[this was my break Saturday evening, I needed to clear my head and process things]

@ferenain @sf4t9rfan1 huh? where did I say I was ashamed of Obama? I do not envy his choice in this, but the US can not be officially in it
[we do not have a good history over there, he made the best choice he could have]

June 21 is midsummer, a time for magic, a LOT of protection spells will be cast by us pagans for the protesters, blessed be #iranelection

RT @persiankiwi: Brothers and sisters were killed before our eyes today - the innocent blood of the martyrs of Allah - #Iranelection

RT @persiankiwi: confirmed - Bank Melli hospital Tehran - at least 9 dead - #Iranelection
[Neda may be the symbol, but ppl realize she represents the rest]

RT @persiankiwi: confirmed - Rasoul Hospital Tehran - at least 11 dead - #Iranelection
[I wonder how many hospitals they have there?]

the leaders over there must be desperate, you NEVER create martyrs if you want to stop something! #iranelection

RT @persiankiwi: Mousavi - we have gone too far to stop now - #Iranelection
[about what everyone knew, but good to hear it]

@oxfordgirl what kind of leader hides? nero fiddled, hitler was committing suicide, .... hmm, I am starting to see a pattern here ...

can not sleep

RT @austinheap: "It’s not about the opposition leaders anymore; it’s about the people." http://is.gd/17YE6 #Iran #iranelection
[this started as an election protest, now that is a side issue]

to #iranelection protesters (1 of 2) "If I fall, another will take my place, and another, and another. " -- Delenn, "Babylon 5"

2 #iranelection protesters(2 of 2) "This body is only a shell. You cannot touch me, you cannot harm me. I'm not afraid." --Delenn, Babylon 5
[I thought those 2 quotes might lift their spirits somewhat]

@austinheap what is this 'sleep' word of which you speak? :)
[he was coordinating the tech stuff]

RT @persiankiwi: Many ppls was killed in Iran Saturday - hospital sources say 'tens of ppls killed' - #Iranelection

ponders a green button that says simply 'sleep?' .... does IV caffeine exist?

RT Basiji beats 7 year-old boy in Tehran (youtube) http://bit.ly/12mkT8 #iranelection #neda

RT CNN Says 10 dead in tehran today. Also students boycott final exams.. #iranelection (bear in mind CNN will be conservative -Kara)

RT @persiankiwi: If you catch militia - do not use violence do not kill him - treat him as your brother - #Iranelection RT RT RT

RT @persiankiwi: UNCONFIRMED - several of the pro-democracy leaders in prison have started HUNGER STRIKE - #Iranelection RT RT

RT @persiankiwi: Mousavi - Neda is not an angel - the angels aspire to Neda - #Iranelection - Allah Akbar - peace be upon Neda - RT RT RT

yes, I know having 'allah akbar' in those RTs prob makes me a bad pagan, but is a direct quote & the Iranian protesters draw comfort from it

RT TODAY 4pm - Haft Tir Sq - Meydan 7 Tir - Tehran - candle vigil - sitting on floor - in memory of our martyrs - #Iranelection RT RT RT

RT @BreakingNews: Iranian state media reports that Iran is "reconsidering its ties" with Britain.

RT @persiankiwi: In memory of Neda - the fallen ANGEL of Freedom - #Iranelection RT RT RT http://bit.ly/WD9tC

RT @oxfordgirlBritish Foreign Office withdrawing families of embassy staff from Iran RT RT RT #iranelection #iranelections #gr88 #neda

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Trans as a Gender and Generational Views

I tend to see trans/transgender as a gender identity unto itself. Or to be more exact, a collection of related identities. A bit akin to using it as an umbrella term for a variety of related identities.

On forms for GLBT places it is not uncommon for the part for gender to say ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘transgendered’. Assuming it is a web form that will only allow one choice which one should I choose? My transgender identity is as important to me as my identity as a female.

Since I can only speak for myself I will list how I view things with respect to transgender issues and how the two generations that flank me seem to view things. Note these are just how I have observed each group and they are generalities, so obviously there are plenty of individual exceptions.

Gen Yers and Baby Boomers: did I call it right? Gen Xers: are your views similar to mine?

Age of starting transition (or equivalent):
Baby Boomers: 40s
Me: 30s
Gen Yers: 20s

Baby Boomers: follow it to the letter
Me: use it as as advice
Gen Yers: meh

View on Gender over life:
Baby Boomers: originally birth gender, then trans, then surgery, then target gender
Me: originally birth gender, then transwoman
Gen Yers: it can be constantly in flux

Baby Boomers: it all depends what stage of above they are at
Me: transwoman
Gen Yers: increasingly often genderqueer

Importance of SRS (or whatever surgery is applicable):
Baby Boomers: it is the Holy Grail
Me: it was nice to get to, but would not have been the end of it all if I had not got it
Gen Yers: varies

What is transition:
Baby Boomers: just a temporary phase between one gender and another
Me: transition never ends
Gen Yers: it may or may not exist

In general, Baby Boomers seem to be more conservative in their approach to trans issues. At the other extreme we have Gen Yers who are extremely fluid in what they do. I seem to find myself between those two extremes, but much closer to the Gen Y end of that spectrum. So am I acting as a bridge or what? Probably this also explains why I relate better on other stuff to people in their 20s than to people my own age.

There is a long established tradition of the previous generation of trans people helping the next on their journeys. As the journey changes, I can see that mentoring changing too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

FWD: On-going Human Rights Violation: Hunger Strike for Improved Services May Prove Fatal

From: Andrea Shettle
Date: January 21, 2009 9:44:14 PM EST
Subject: On-going Human Rights Violation: Hunger Strike for Improved Services May Prove Fatal

We in the disability human rights community have an opportunity to save a life.

A quick summary: a woman with disabilities in Sudsbury, Ontario, Canada (Minna Mettinen- Kekalainen) is SUPPOSED to be receiving home care services. The North East Community Care Access Center has been denying her these services. Minna says this is because she had complained about their nurses because they had failed to follow her doctor's orders. Minna is now on hunger strike in an attempt to pressure the CCAC to provide her the services she needs. However, someone who knows Minna and who is familiar with the way that care services work is concerned that this tactic will fail, and that Minna will die. Please take a few minutes to support efforts among disability rights activists to save her life.

1. First, read more about the situation at the following link. You will also want to read the comments that people have left, because people are using the comments area at this blog page to exchange more information and ideas on how people can help:


2. Send an email to the following people to urge them to intervene on Minna's behalf so she can receive the home care services that she is asking for:

Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci
Constituency Office email: rbartolucci.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org
Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services email: rick.bartolucci@ontario.ca

Minister of Health & Long-Term Care David Caplan:

Non-Canadians can use these email addresses, too. If enough individual people write to them, they may take notice.

3. Consider also communicating with the North East Community Care Access Center on Minna's behalf (unfortunately there seems to be no email contact for them):

Phone: 1-800-461-2919

Mail: North East CCAC
Rainbow Centre
40 Elm St, Suite 41-C
Sudbury ON P3C 1S8

To access the Long-Term Care ACTION Line call: 1-866-876-7658 or TTY: 1-800-387-5559.

(More detail on their Complaints and Appeals Process at http://www.ccac-ont.ca/Content.aspx?EnterpriseID=13&LanguageID=1&MenuID=8

4. Please circulate this text further via your network of contacts in the disability and human rights communities, Facebook page, blog site, etc.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I think I may have Asperger's Syndrome (aka, high functioning autism).

This past weekend I was at an autism group in Second Life, although not because of how I identify. They were talking about accessibility technology and I was invited because I know about devices the Deaf community uses (my partner is Deaf). While there I noticed a poster of Einstein (one of my heroes when I was a kid) and looked up on the web why they would have a pic of him. I noticed some similarities to my own story and found more once I started researching the topic.

So I guess that places me in the self-diagnosed category, but I plan on talking to my neurologist about it next month. After that either another appointment or a referral to a psychologist (I have already picked one out I want to see). I really *hate* being in that grey area, especially since I can not do a proper diagnosis from inside as it were. For example, even though transsexuality is something people self-report as, I was unable to fully identify as such until a therapist agreed with me.

I tend to obsess about something (I have sucked up lots of info on this the past few days) but am lousy at social interactions. Good for computer programming but not so good when I need to interact with people, be it work or otherwise. Recently my partner needed to get our clothes from the laundry room: I said just a minute, and I was still on Second Life when she returned.

There are a triad of impairments for diagnosis:

Social Communication: I repetitively miscue how someone will react to what I say. At work usually I am instructed not to speak directly with customers/clients/superiors. I moderate several email support groups and when I actively moderate them usually a flame war erupts with people telling me I took the wrong action.

Social understanding: I really take things literally. When I get tasked with something I follow instructions to the letter, even if there was a mistake in what I was told and I knew it. I tend to avoid groups (parties and such) and when I do am not quite sure what to do or what to talk about.

Imagination: I time my walking patterns to hit lights exactly when they change or get on the right point of a train to make my transfer. Recently they keep changing the timing of the lights on my route to work -- this causes no end of stress. Another thing is over-compensating in planning: maps to walk a few blocks, building in *way* more time than is needed to get somewhere (so usually waiting for everyone else), notes to myself about things I would know to do, and doing "dry runs" in advance to get somewhere, and so on. Even this post was over-planned: writing it, editing it, checking it for completeness, repeat as needed.

I have been diagnosed with a host of things that are associated: epilepsy, giftedness, hyperactivity. Whether or not transsexuality is co-morbid too is a matter of debate. Maybe I should list a few things from my past too, bear in mind people with Asperger's are typically great at focus but lousy with social cues:

Grade school:
* Drew a spaceship -- including the detail of adding time travel devices to it. Yes, in 2nd grade I had already grasped the problem of long durations in traveling to other planets so knew I had to find a solution to it.
* At the urging of other students matter-of-factly pronounced to the cafeteria cooks the food tasted like dog food. I was shocked when they actually took offense.
* Took an IQ test and got classified as gifted when it was somewhere north of 130. Which they found odd because I had also been diagnosed as hyperactive. I enjoyed it: it meant a tutor, summer day camp, and a special class when I got to middle school. All where I was encouraged to explore whatever I was interested in (which is how I knew how to program before middle school).

Middle School and High school:
* A relative died. My 1st reaction when I got home? To program my computer to spit out quadratic equations and then start solving them as fast as possible.
* I was falsely accused of yelling an epithet at a cop. When my parents confronted me about it I replied that I could not state I didn’t (how do you prove a negative?). They assumed I was trying to weasel out of it and that earned me the same punishment as if I had actually done it.

College and Graduate School:
* My first degree was in physics, having been interested in science as far back as I could remember. I went through what is typically a 5 year program in 4 years. Then decided to hop over to computer science in the short span between looking at grad schools and applying to them.
* I accidentally (honestly!) found some ways of doing things on computer networks I was not supposed to be able to do. Usually because I was so intent on doing something else or just exploring. Generally to the consternation of systems managers. Their solution was often to tell me not to tell anyone else how I did what I did. An early boss challenged me to break into a new computer: I informed him he should take back the challenge.
* The last thing in grad school was a comprehensive exam covering all of my classes. We were instructed to read all of the instructions -- I glanced at them and raced into the exam, being one of the first ones done. Only afterwards did I find out I had answered everything and the instructions had said to pick which questions in each section to work on. I was so tunnel-visioned on the questions that I did not notice that in the instructions.

One of my favourite work anecdotes:
A client made a change request to a design. My response was to tell him "Why would you want to do that?" and then list all of the details of the design (which was huge!) that would need to change and how 90% of what he wanted was already there anyways. I did not realize it sounded like sarcasm until I was told so. I just reasoned they were paying me for my professional input so I had to be honest. My boss at the time (who was new) learned the hard way that I was not the person to drag to a client meeting and agree with everything that was said.

So does it sound like I meet the criteria?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Change for People with Disabilities: Time to Email Obama!

My partner, Andrea Shettle, wrote the following and is circulating it:

Change for People with Disabilities: Time to Email Obama!

On November 4, 2008, millions of people with disabilities across the United States and around the world joined our non-disabled peers in watching the United States election results. Obama supporters cheered or wept to learn that the next US president would be Obama. Then we cheered or wept again when Obama mentioned people with disabilities in his acceptance speech. History was made–not only for America, not only for Black people, not only for Kenya and all of Africa, not only for Indigenous peoples, but also for people with disabilities.

But we cannot afford to allow the moment to end here. Whether we supported Obama, McCain, or another candidate, we all know there is far too much work ahead before we can say, “Yes, we have made real change for people with disabilities.”

It is time for people with disabilities, our loved ones, our neighbors, and colleagues to join together, across ideological divides, to reach out to Obama. We should all send an email to Kareem Dale, Obama’s National Disability Vote Director (at kdale@barackobama.com), WITH COPIES TO Anne Hayes, a volunteer on the Obama Disability Policy Committee (at ahayesku@hotmail.com).

First, we should thank Obama — and also Kareem Dale — for mentioning people with disabilities in Obama’s acceptance speech on November 4. Ensure that they understand how much it matters simply for us to be included. How did you feel when Obama mentioned us? Share your story.

Second, we should tell Obama and Kareem Dale that we are aware of Obama’s disability platform. He promised to increase educational opportunities; end discrimination; increase employment opportunities; and support independent, community-based living for Americans with disabilities. And he promised to sign the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), the first international, legally-binding human rights treaty for people with disabilities. Tell Obama and Kareem Dale that we are ready to call Obama to account if he fails us. But more importantly, we are ready to work with him for change for people with disabilities.

It is important to send your disability-related emails to BOTH Kareem Dale AND Anne Hayes (kdale@barackobama.com AND ahayesku@hotmail.com) between now and inauguration day. Kareem Dale’s email address may change between now and January 20, 2009. Anne Hayes can help ensure that emails sent to Kareem Dale are not lost during this time of transition.

Both Kareem Dale and others who have worked on disability issues within the Obama campaign are ready to receive YOUR emails on disability-related issues for US President-elect Obama. Emails are welcome from across the United States and around the world. If you are a US citizen, then please say so in your email.

Learn more about Obama’s plan for people with disabilities at: http://origin.barackobama.com/issues/disabilities/

Yes, the video is captioned. And if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, you can download Obama’s Full Plan for people with disabilities in PDF format (62 Kb).

Read Obama’s acceptance speech at: http://www.barackobama.com/2008/11/04/remarks_of_presidentelect_bara.php

Want to read someone else’s letter to Obama before you write your own? Come to: http://reunifygally.wordpress.com/2008/11/05/thank_you_obama_disabilities/

Learn more about the CRPD at http://ratifynow.org/ratifynow-faq/

If you wish to contact Obama’s staff on some topic other than disability, then you can send an email via his web page at http://www.change.gov/page/s/ofthepeople

Please circulate this email freely, or post this at your own blog or web site.

This text was first posted at http://wecando.wordpress.com/2008/11/07/disabilities-email-obama/ The most updated version will be here, so please consult before cross-posting.

“It is the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, DISABLED and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.”
–President-Elect Barack Obama
Acceptance speech, November 4, 2008; emphasis added

Monday, November 03, 2008

Remember, Remember, the 4th of November ...

The two days are right next to each other, fate?

Guy Fawkes evening: (Nov 5)
Marked in a former world superpower (the UK) between two groups (the Catholics and the Protestants).
A person (Guy Fawkes) representing one group (the Catholics) went on the attack (tried to blow up Parliament).

Election evening: (Nov 4)
Marked in a current world superpower (the US) between two groups (the Rebublicans and the Democrats).
A person (John McCain) representing one group (the Rebublicans) went on the attack (produced negative ads).

Guy Fawkes failed in his attempt and the UK marks his execution. See where this is going?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Linking Dual Identities and Disability Issues in SL

I have noticed an interesting upswing in the number of correlations on the net between Second Life and disability issues recently. Blogs (like this), alternative SL clients, talks at SLCC, Second Ability, more disability groups in SL constatly springing up, and so on. It almost looks like a meme.

Given my own connections (having a Deaf spouse who works with disability issues and my having epilepsy) it only makes sense that I would want to reflect on the question of how this relates to my two characters. Maybe also delving into the dichotomies between them.

My older character (Kara Spengler) is pretty close to myself with a few tweaks. Okay, so I am not a humanoid cat, but otherwise we are pretty similar. Unless my last name comes into it, someone talking to my avatar is pretty much the same as someone talking to my RL self. [btw, when I say Kara below I mean the character rather than just not using 1st person when talking about myself]

At the beginning of the year I also created another character (Caitlyn Clawtooth). After a few days I decided to have her be a child. I have written about that decision elsewhere and will probably repost it here at some point too. Kara occasionally takes on kid-form and looks pretty close to Cait and the two have some matching things in their wardrobes.

It is almost like they are two completely different people at times. Their personalities are quite different and I tend to interact with SL differently depending on which one I use (for Kara SL is more a tool she uses a lot to extend reality, for Cait SL is a completely different world). The ties between the two are very close though. For example, Kara walked away from being an officer in one thing when Cait was not welcome there, Kara is extremely protective of Cait, and kid avatars in SL in general.

Now that I have wandered way off course how to get back to the main thread …

For purposes of simplification we are dealing with two populations in SL: disabled users and non-disabled users. While the former group tends to immerse themselves into their second life, the latter views it as just an extension of how they conduct their RL. It is my position that Cait represents the first view and Kara the second. Kara likes SL but as that character SL is interesting but just another electronic communications medium. Cait only exists in SL and things relating to it.

Interesting how two characters that you would think would be similar have some pretty fundamental differences.

Monday, September 08, 2008

These Old houses

Well, it must be fall since I am feeling reflective.

When I was growing up I lived in an 1800s farmhouse in New Hampshire. Well, technically my first year or so were in 2 other houses, but my memories of those were only because of there being pictures of me at them. It was a nice relaxing place: 60 acres of mostly woods and a few fields. Leftover buildings from when it was a working farm. Little traffic on the road. My cousin’s family within walking distance. Basically the kind of place a kid would love.

College and graduate school were a succession of dorms and apartments. Some great friends there, but the buildings were no more than where to keep my stuff. After that I lived one place for a year, then in another for the past 11+ years .... but both of them I call ‘home’ only by default. I have been living in Virginia since 1990 ..... but will always consider myself a New Hampshireite and my apartment here just where I happen to be at the moment.

It is more about the area than the specific building, even though it holds memories. When my parents sold my childhood home I did not come forward to say I wanted it .... but I get misty-eyed when I visit their new home up there the moment I start seeing rocks that are not down here.

In Second Life I built the house I wanted (even though my building abilities were rudimentary at the time). As much as possible it was built to blend into the environment. To the point where someone would be walking through what they thought was a park (my roof, actually) and get startled when they walked over a skylight. Some of the features:
- grass coloured walls
- large flat roof area (trees, rocks, a fire circle, etc)
- built to look like part of the landscape around it
- most of the inside was one huge room, which had trees, a large rock, and the ground being the floor

The pics of that house are at http://www.flickr.com/photos/35176807@N00/sets/72157603859039586/detail/ .

I was tweaking it constantly. The biggest annoyance was some ads near me spoiling the tranquil atmosphere but I was working on that. As I was making progress an ad tower much larger than the others cropped up. It was a huge setback, but not a complete defeat.

I became deeply involved in setting up another SL project earlier this year. With being there all the time, I was rarely at my house. Paying the monthly cost of it almost seemed pointless, but I still liked the place.

Then I reached the last straw,

One of the ad farmers bought a plot next to me and put up a huge monstrosity. A big green thing spewing particles 3000 meters in the air, spinning xxx ads, and lagging the area to 1/3 of the speed the area was at before it was built.

Ok, that was it, I was out of there. The ironic thing was she always goes on about her being part of the native american culture, a culture that respects the environment. But who was littering the landscape and forcing something meant to be in harmony with it to be taken down and sold? Right now I am living on a sky platform near there and continuing my original mission to clean up the area, but I do miss that house.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

They're Coming to Take Them Away, Ha Ha!


Finally Linden Lab is cracking down on advertising in Second Life. After allowing them to do whatever they wanted for years, they will put new stringent rules (including licensing for any they want to continue) in place on Octber 1.

Many parties will probably be slated for that day. :)

News headline it would have been nice to see 8 years ago

"After a recount, Gore wins in Florida"

Friday, August 22, 2008

Blast from the past

While browsing around I found some of my old entries on a blog I completely had forgotten I even had here. I need to start keeping track of things like that.

Decisions, decisions ...

Andrea and I currently have Sidekicks that are now contract-free,

The iPhone is out.

The Sidekick 2008 is out.

The first Android-based phone is rumoured to be due this fall.

A phone for mobile ASL over existing networks is being tested.

Now the hard part. To stat pat or decide what toy to buy.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The sidebar widget says it so it must be so

blog readability test

Blogs 'n me

When I first started blogging it was at livejournal four years ago. Eventually I also had one at Free-Association and quite a few other places. It certainly was a whole lot easier than my old manually editing HTML all the time! I blogged about all kinds of stuff: from a diary of my SRS trip to geek stuff to daily observations to memes.

Because I was using livejournal so much I bought a paid account. I did not really need it, but I liked the ability to post by mail and wanted to support the company. Within the past year I created two more livejournal accounts for my main two SL characters.

Then LJ went downhill. The blurring between paid and basic accounts. The usual corporation sale to someone bigger. The creation of a new account that paid for itself with advertisements.

Finally they went too far. The announcement that free accounts would show advertising unless you were logged in. Not only that, you would have no idea what was being advertised using your work if you were logged in when you looked at your page.

Bye-bye LJ.

I am stuck choosing between blogger and wordpress though. While I like the wordpress software, I do not like the support I am seeing at the wordpress.com site ("I have never heard of twitter so it must not be popular" from an employee). With blogger though I am seeing lots of things I like, including features I was paying for at livejournal (like posting via email) and ones I did not even have access too (the various connections with twitter for example). Looks like blogger won the contest to be my new blog site. I have created another blog here for one of my second life characters and will combine the other (Kara Spengler) into this blog.

Hello Blogger.

Some of the features I like here:
- third party integration, so I can hook up things for blog notifications to my twitter and archive my twitters here
- all sorts of gadgets you can use, including non-listed ones like having my recent tweets
- an extensible framework
- posting via email is free, including attaching pictures
- a thriving beta features program with a real discussion area about anything on it
- what looks to be good support in general
- integration with one of my existing logins *and* openid
- owned by a stable company so I do not need to worry about someone coming in and changing policies
- I am sure I will realize others as time goes on

Now the question: I do not want to leave livejournal with content they can use as advertising pages.  However I do not just want to throw away 4 years of writing either. Anyone have any good ideas? I have set my mail blog there to be friends-only, but that is only a temporary measure.