dogriver: (Default)
The American Printing House for the blind is an amazing organization.
Over the past hundred and fifty years, their excellence has been
unparallelled in many respects. They have put out voluminous amounts of
books for the blind, and they have designed and made many devices and
other pieces of equipment used by the blind.

However one area where they, along with many other American companies,
fall very short is in their treatment of international customers.
Currently, APH offers an online store. It is only available to
Americans. Their stated reason is the variance in shipping costs around
the world, this despite the fact that many nonprofit organizations and
companies deal with this just fine on a daily basis.
Being Canadian, my working hours are pretty similar to their own. This
gives me a few options. I can either phone my order in, this making my
credit card number available to anyone in my office within earshot, I
can fax it in, requiring both sighted assistance and permission to send
a long-distance fax, or I can mail my order in, adding days or weeks to
the order time and putting my credit card at risk of mail-tamperers. The
message I get from all this is that, because APH and
organizations/companies like it can't be bothered with international
shipping rates online, my security as a non-American is somehow less
important than the security of an American, who can easily, securely,
quickly and without sighted assistance, place an online order.

It's not only APH. There are many others, and I am very tired of the
third-class treatment non-Americans get from American businesses and
organizations.

This does not apply, by and large, to the American people. Once the
average rank-and-file American is made aware of the inequality, he or
she generally agrees. My American friends are wonderful people, and I do
not want to transfer my anger toward these companies who will not offer
equality onto the American people. But this message needs to get out
there: If America believes that all are created equal, then it should
treat all equally.
dogriver: (Default)
Many articles have been written about why capitalism doesn't work. What I want to do here is to discuss for a little while while socialism doesn't work, and then suggest that capitalism and socialism, in an ideal universe, would go hand in hand.

There's a good reason that socialism tends not to work. And when you cut to the chase, that reason is precisely the same reason that capitalism doesn't work: human greed. We people are a greedy bunch, and no matter what socio-economic model we choose to follow, that greed shows.

So how does greed manifest itself in socialism? In two ways, really. First you have "big government", which can be every bit as people-hostile as big business. To complicate things, "big government" is often in bed with "big union". Unions are essentially organizations who, in their heyday, fought for the rights of workers, but who have started looking after their own interests at the expence of those same workers who fund the whole thing. So Big Government gains power on promises of being a socialist, and therefore people-friendly government, and then proceeds to use that power to further its own interests.

Then you have the rank-and-file people who support socialism. The problem there is that most people who preach socialism believe that socialism is a corporate and governmental responsibility, but that they as individuals are exempt. The message: My money is my money, everyone else's money should be shared in the name of kindness and gentleness. Usually this takes the form of blaming all the world's problems on people who are richer than we are, ignoring the fact that there's someone poorer than we are blaming us. So when you have a bunch of individual socialists all convinced that socialism is the responsibility of everyone but them, then no one takes the responsibility for making it work. The result is a form of capitalism, the worst kind of capitalism, a capitalism without responsibility. What's mine is mine and what's yours is ours. In the 1990's I had a fiancée who espoused that logic, except she made no efforts to hide it.

So in an ideal universe, socialism would be the way to go: everyone looks out for the interests of everyone else, which means that while you're busy looking out for the interests of your brother or sister, another brother or sister is looking out for you. If everyone could be taught to look out for everyone else, we'd have a utopia. Capitalism would go hand in hand with this type of socialism. We'd take on the responsibility of helping others, instead of hoping that our taxes would allow the government to do it for us. For social responsibility to work, fiscal responsibility is a must, and for fiscal responsibility to be successful, we should all look out for everyone else, knowing that someone is putting in just as much effort looking out for us.

Unfortunately, though, we are not in an ideal universe. As long as greed plagues us, as long as we expect others to take up the responsibilities we preach, we'll have problems no matter which socio-economic model we choose to follow.
dogriver: (Default)
I'm not a fan of huge multi-tweet rants on Twitter, so I thought I'd
blog my rant here and make it easy to skip past it if people so wish.

Yesterday I woke up with a splitting headache. I decided that I would
not go to work, so I canceled my Handi-Transit trips for the day. You
have to give them half an hour's notice to avoid being penalized. But
very quickly after that, the headache cleared, so I decided the only
ethical thing to do was to go to work after all. I thought I would
reward myself with the luxury of taking cabs instead of Handi-Transit.
It would cost me about $40, but hey, it would be nice getting taken
directly there and getting picked up immediately after work.

The trip to work was just fine, no major incidents. I got there
in plenty of time, all was well.

I booked my return trip online at www.duffystaxi.com, because I like
ordering and booking things online. The procedure went smoothly enough,
I filled out the addresses of my pickup and drop-off, and in the "driver
instructions" field I noted that I was blind. I requested a 3:50 pickup.

Because I'd been in something of a hurry that morning, I had neglected
to bring my cellphone. I stood between the two sets of doors until about
4:30 waiting, when it finally occurred to me that I had a nice phone
right upstairs on my desk that was just waiting for me to use it. So I
did, and I called the cab company. The gentleman with whom I spoke told
me that my cab had in fact been there on time, but the driver had failed
to look at the driver instructions telling him I'm blind, and had
therefore marked me as a no-show when I didn't come out on my own. He
told me that I should note my blindness in the name field if I'm going
to book online. So my big crime here was the ridiculous, wild, and
totally off-base assumption that drivers looked in the driver
instructions field for driver instructions. Silly me.

So I had them send out a second cab, and that did work out well, except
that by now we were into the thickest part of rush hour and I
consequently had to pay more for the trip. Thankfully I had a little
extra cash on me, so this wasn't a problem. But my nice, convenient,
quick ride home, which should have gotten me home at around ten after
four, wound up getting me home at twenty after five.

And that was my day yesterday.
dogriver: (Default)
  • When a point is irrlevant or of no consequence, it's a moot
    point, not a mute point.
  • The word "an", not the word "a" should be used when the word
    following it has a vowel sound. You don't send a e-mail, you send
    an e-mail.
  • You use the words "and I" if the phrase in question is in the
    subject, but you use "and me" if it's in the predicate.
  • The comma was invented to be used, not to be ignored or abused. The
    comma is your friend: use it as intended.
  • The word "waranty" and "warantee" do not mean the same thing. The
    thing you buy is a warranty, with a "y", and once you have bought it,
    you then become the warantee.
    With a double "e".
  • My being on a mailing list with you does not make me your friend. It
    is our being friends that makes me your friend. So don't use the word
    "friend" unless you truly believe that your recipients all are your
    friends.
  • Your dog did not write your e-mail. Your dog did not know you were
    writing the e-mail, and would not care if he or she did know. Your dog
    does not even know what an e-mail is, its purpose, or its consequences,
    so signing your dog's name to your message is an untruth.
  • If you are a ham radio operator, you are part of a minority. You are
    probably one of maybe 0.5% of the population of the planet who has any
    inkling of what "73" means. Don't assume your recipients are also in
    that 0.5 percentile.
  • Do you not see the irony in cluttering up the list members' e-mail
    boxes telling them how tired you are of people cluttering up your e-mail
    box?
dogriver: (Default)
I've read about it in history books. If I think far enough back, in fact, I may even have owned one far off in the oh-so-distant past. But humanity seems to have forgotten this device, none seems to exist any more.

Here's what I envision: it'a a cellphone. What does it do? It makes and receives calls. What else does it do? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No phone book, address book, text messaging, hotkey for popular WEP-compatible porno sites,, you can't connect it to anything, let alone sinc it with anything, because there's nothing to sync. It's just a cellphone that makes and receives calls! Nothing more!

You see, my contract with Rogers ends in February. Because I hate Rogers's coverage in this area, plus their narrow definition of what constitutes a local incoming call, I've had it with Rogers. I personally want to cancel my cellphone completely at the end of February, to save cash. Most people I know are trying, very nicely, to dissuade me from this idea. I might be more receptive to it if I could just find a good old-fashioned no-frills-whatsoever phone. I don't want to play MP3's on my phone, I don't care what the ringer sounds like, as long as I can hear it, I don't care if it keeps track of all my appointments, as if I were important enough to have all these vitally important appointments. Why can't I just have a nice cellphone devoted entirely to the making and receiving of calls? I can't afford one with 80 gigs of internal flash and all the other stuff to make that talk. And I'm not complaining about what I can or can't afford. It seems to me that a phone to do what I want wouldn't cost a whole lot. But I don't know, because such a phone simply doesn't seem to exist!
dogriver: (Default)
So what does the recent US election mean to Canada? The answer, for me, is a resounding I don't know.

You see, we're the little country next to the most powerful country on Earth. This has implications that no other country in the world has to face. For whatever reason, the American government regards Mexico as the good guys, and Canada is one step away from being a part of the axis of evil. How many troops does Mexico have in Afghanistan again? And the United States government has the power to make or break us as a country in so many ways. Yes, in many respects that's Canada's own fault, for making ourselves so dependent on the United States as a trading partner. Yes, we're also the United States's biggest trading power, but the American government doesn't need to worry about losing us, because we need them, and they have the power.

The result is that Canada doesn't even show up as a blip on most American politicians' radar screens. They get attacked on 9/11, we take their people in, and gladly, and Bush makes a big show of thanking all the other countries for their assistance and omitting Canada. Small thing, of course, but it's indicative of a much larger picture of utter indifference toward us. Just as our premier has an utter disregard for our farmers, because that's not where the votes are, so too America has an utter disregard for Canada, because we just don't matter, we're just not important enough. Who can blame the American government, really? but that doesn't make it an easier pill to swallow.

So is Obama good for Canada or would McCain have been better. I really don't know. We didn't come up in the discussion. Okay, Obama has a sister in Canada, McCain has a brother in Canada, that's all the pundits could come up with. It's just not a lot to go on. So what's in the future for us? I dunno.
dogriver: (Default)
So apparently October is fire prevention month. You didn't know? Neither
did I. Well, it is.

So they told me on Monday morning that we would have a fire drill
sometime in the next two weeks. Now, I hate these things under the best
of circumstances. But it's been particularly miserable here.

We have two main exits here: the Portage Avenue entrance, AKA the front
entrance, and the Wall Street entrance, AKA the side entrance.
Typically, our particular office, because of how it's situated, is
supposed to take the side entrance. This would be fine, except that,
being a side entrance, it doesn't have the best sidewalks. So you go
out, take a completely uncalled-for step down, cross a parking lot, walk
up Wall Street, cross Wall Street, and you're in the Credit Union
parking lot. What fun, what fun. I hate it.

So what do we have?
    <.i>I hate fire alarms.
  1. I hate not knowing precisely what's going to happen, and when.
  2. I'm told there's going to be a fire drill.
  3. They don't tell me precisely when, two weeks is quite a window.
  4. The route to the Credit Union parking lot is not exactly
    blind-person-friendly.


So I express my concerns to my co-workers. I'll give them credit, lots
of it, they understood and did their best to make accomodation. So the
deal now was that I could take the front entrance, which has better
sidewalks and is a much better route to deal with.

So the maintenance guy, really nice guy, stops by to give me a heads up
about ten minutes before the drill. I wait. I wait. Finally the bell
goes off, and we head down the hallway, only to be stopped by a lady who
tells us we can't exit via the front of the building. So we have to turn
around, go out the side, and use all those wonderful uneven sidewalks.

The nice thing about it was that we were told we could go back in
quickly after we got to the parking lot, and the elevator was working
immediately. Apparently the lady who told us we couldn't use the front
entrance will have the misinformation corrected for the future. Well,
that's over, hopefully for a long time to come.
dogriver: (Default)
1. Teddy bears; Winnie the Pooh; Care Bears; bears are always
represented to children as being cute and cuddly, lovable and friendly.
In real life, your average bear considers children good eating. Why the
dichotomy?

2. How can anyone eat a fungus?

3. How can anyone not like the Douglas Adams books?

4. How can anyone not like Corner Gas?

5. Who has the authority to tell me about what syntax I am or am not
allowed to use in grammar, and on what basis did they earn that
authority? Why do we bow to it?

6. Is the fact that it's 9:18 AM as I write this at all relevant?
dogriver: (Default)
So yesterday I got four, count 'em, four, messages from blinknation.com. It's supposed to be some social networking site. I got four messages, one to each of four e-mail accounts I use or used, thanking me for subscribing and asking for my verification.

This is spam in the truest sense of the word, and I resent it. At worst, the site admin is trying to solicit membership by grabbing e-mail addresses from mailing lists. At best, the site allows for indiscriminate signing of of e-mail addresses with no form of verification in place to attempt to prevent this sort of thing. Either way, in my opinion, the site is responsible and needs to be held accountable for the e-mails I received sent through them. I don't care if this site is the best thing since sliced Coke, if they are not going to behave responsibly, then they need to be taken to task. If I had received a personal e-mail asking if I would like to join, that would be different. But the nature of the e-mail clearly indicates that it was automated, and so I will not be giving these people the benefit of the doubt.

I also hate teh term "blink". To me, a blind person calling him or herself a blind is the equivalent to an African-American calling him or herself by the N-word. I know not all blind people agree with me, and that's fine, this is just my personal opinion.
dogriver: (Default)
I'm proofreading a book for work now. As I so often do, I checked th
freely publicly-searchable NLS catalog to see if the book had already
been produced in braille. Not terribly surprisingly, it had. But because
NLS refuses to sell books outside of the States, we are forced to redo
what has already been done: if a student wants to read this book here,
we have to braille it ourselves even though the work has already been
done. NLS's slogan is "that all may read". The slogan is a very un-funny
joke.
dogriver: (Default)
First of all, this is not a treatise against guide dogs. It is also not meant to be disparaging of anyone who has a guide dog, who wants a guide dog, or who thinks they may one day want a guide dog. This is just about me, personally. I also want to make it clear that I love animals, including dogs.

I will never get a guide dog. Plain and simple. A lot of people have asked me why. I think the main reason is that I don't want the responsibility inherent in having one of these working dogs. In so many ways, a guide dog controls its owner. And again, that's not meant to be disparaging, it's a necessary reality of having a guide dog, and some people are cut out for it and others, like me, are not. But I, personally, don't want to live my life around getting up at set times, following set routines that the dog will understand and recognize, and have to ask myself at every turn whether such and such an environment or situation is suitable for the dog. It's just not the sort of thing I want to deal with. Then there's the hair and other messes that come with the territory. I almost stepped into a still-steaming guide dog patty once at CNIB. This did little to make me more prone to liking the idea of guide dog ownership. But again, it's just me.

Then there was dinner on Wednesday. I come from the old-fashioned school of thought. I know it's outdated and barbaric, but where I come from, you used a table to put food on when you weren't eating it. disgusting and primitive, I know. But I'm set in my ways. So when I was visiting a friend on Wednesday, I made the mistake of practising this bit of savagery, and put my really yummy meal down on the TV tray in front of me. I leaned back for a second, and immediately, there was the guide dog, eating out of my plate. I'm sorry, but I will not, can not, eat out of a plate that a dog has just been slobbering out of. I lack the cultural refinement, I suppose. So there was a whole bunch of good food wasted.

Guide dogs are wonderful, please don't get me wrong. They have done immense good for a lot of people, and if a guide dog is for you, you have my full and undying support. And if I am around you, I will treat your dog with respect, I will follow all of the protocols, and when your dog is out of harness, I will gladly and with joy play with your dog and we'll have a great time! But just don't expect me to ever get a dog, that's all.
dogriver: (Default)
I'm a land-owner. I was given eighty acres of farmland from my father
before he died. I rent this out to my brother.

We have this evil thing in Canada called the Goods and Services Tax,
GST. It used to be 7%, but the Conservatives cut it to five. My brother
is required to pay this 5% GST on the rent of the land. It is my duty to
collect it. The government won't reimberse me the cost of the check, nor
the cost of the stamp. Tax collecting should be the government's job,
but I am obligated to do their work for them, to pay any associated
costs, and it's free labor. What a country! If you're a retailer, a
land-owner, or anyone else who takes in money for which sales taxes or
the GST need to be paid, you're doing the blasted government's job for
them. Is that fair? And if you do their job well, do you get thanked for
the free work? Nope. You get a notice from them telling you they won't
fine you for another year. What a country! What a world! What a society.
This is civilized, folks, this is a sign that humanity has improved over
the years. Get what, guys, it hasn't. Humans are the same collection of
ignorant morons we've always been.
dogriver: (Default)
Over the span of the last fourteen years, I've hade the questionable privilege of moderating many mailing lists on everything from TV shows to Paul HArvey News to blindness-related issues to partners of survivors of sexual abuse. All too often i tend to come back for more, and I really don't know why.

Being a list moderator has got to be the most thankless job on the planet. For any one person who privately tells you you're doing a not-too-unsatisfacotry job, there are at least a dozen more who make sure the world publicly knows that you suck. They seem to think list moderators get paid to take the abuse, when it is rare that they do.

At the present time, we are dealing in the so-called blindness community with an adaptive technology company suing another adaptive technology company over patent violation. I don't pretend to be at all a legal expert here, so i will not say anything about the trial itself, other than to acknowledge that it exists.

When something like this happens, people on the blindness lists immediately want to get into a hot political debate. Invariably, and i mean invariably, when such debate is allowed, it results in name-calling, very bitter feelings, anger, and a lot of good people feeling needlessly hurt and having their opinions belittled. A case in point was last year, when there was another lawsuit on the books. The debate was allowed on several lists, and the fallout was very palpable.

So now many list owners are asking that the discussion of this particular suit not be done on their list. The aggression has been channeled, as a result, to the list owner. Name-calling abounds, as does sarcasm, and the list owners are expected to just sit back and take it. These people have no clue, absolutely no clue, what it's like to sit there and read message after message of insults, profanity, name-calling, and false accusations, their reward for trying to minimize the discord among list members. It's shameful, childish, immature, and utterly unacceptable behavior, but no one is willing to stand up for the list moderators who stick their neck out just to have it axed. I've been there, I know, and I have no sympathy at all for people who treat list moderators like "the help" and have no regard for the fact that these people are human beings.
dogriver: (Default)
It looks as though many people have forgotten what the difference is
between "effect" and "affect". An effective example of correct usage
would be:

If we effect those changes, the modifications will affect all of us.

In the last few weeks especially, I've been seeing people consistently
using "effect", when they mean "affect": "This won't effect us", that
sort of thing. How far will the language have slid by the end of the
century, I can't help but wonder.
dogriver: (Default)
IMPORTANT NOTE: This message is written with tongue firmly
in cheek and is not to be taken seriously.

[livejournal.com profile] kittytech and I have reached a point in our relationship
where I am not sure if she can be forgiven. Just how does one forgive
the utterly, totally, and absolutely unforgivable?

For the last several weeks, she has been including links to the daily
trivia sampling from FunTrivia.com. If you haven't
checked this out, you may wish to add yourself to our little group and
have your daily scores compared withours. I've gotten two ten out of ten
scores, of which I am immensely proud. But I digress.

So one of the questions in today's quiz was as follows:

No, wait, on second thought, if you want to find out, you can check it
out for yourself. Go to [livejournal.com profile] kittytech's LJ and follow the trivia
link in the most recent entry. The question she actually got wrong,
horror of horrors, is #2. How could she? And after all we've been
through together? The pain is unbearable, to think that she would have
gotten that question, of all questions, wrong! It really hurts. Can I
forgive her? Is reconciliation possible? My heart aches with grief.
dogriver: (Default)
Okay, this Friday the Thirteenth [insert unthinkable expletive here] will never make sense to me. The days of the month are arbitrary. I mean, since the leap-year was invented, everything shifts every four years anyway. So someone tell me, please, how you could possibly explain
  • (a) how a certain arbitrary day of the week falling on an even more arbitrary day of the month could possibly makethe slightest bit of difference, and
  • (b) why any being, force, or whatever would bother with something so ... so ... so ... I can't even come up with a word for it.


I think I'll go walk under a ladder or two, throw some salt over my shoulder, go down to the Humane society and buy a few dozen black cats to ensure that they cross my path, break a mirror or two, and step on all the sidewalk cracks I can find.

Now, my tongue is largely inmy cheek in this message. I realize that I also have beliefs and ideas that probably seem sily to some, so be it. But if anyone can come up with a logical, rational explanation why it should matter a pair of fetid dingo's kidneys what day of the month/week it is, I'll be very interested indeed.
dogriver: (Default)
I know, I've gone on about this before.But today it's buging the crap out of me and, this being my LJ, I'll talk about it if I want to.

The use of incorrect grammar is really bothering me today. I'm seeing just about everyone use "a" when they mean "an", and over the past few weeks, more and more people have started saying "don't" as opposed to "doesn't". So-called creative spelling has sunk to new lows, particularly among blind people. Why send these people to school if your intent is to not teach them anything? Seems like a phenomenal waste of tax dollars to me. Typos are bad enough. I make those all the time, and nobody is more frustrated by them as am I. But outright lack of knowledge of basic spelling? It's inexcusable. But it's as though Jed Clampett and his family had taken over the school system. Yee hah, we done don't have to study our timeses and our guzintahs, we's all goin' to the see-ment pond while there are still people in the world who know how to make them. People are just stupid,really stupid.
dogriver: (Default)
Well, the next step that a lot of people are suggesting I take is to turn off UAC in Vista. Since I'll be doing that anyway, I might as well try it. I seriously doubt that will solve my problem, but stranger things have happened. All I want is for this to work. First I went and bought a non-expandable machine, and now this. I don't want to have to send it back toDell. I hope I'm totally wrong and turning off UAC actually solves this problem.
dogriver: (Default)
I don't understand why this bothers me so very, very much, but it does. I'm seeing, particularly among blind people, a total and utter disregard for the word "an". People just right "a", even if the next sound afterwards is a vowel sound. Every time I read it, it makes me want to yell!
dogriver: (Default)
Late last year, Caroline and I started hearing from a lot of people about this great new service Twitter. So, after a few people started bugging us to join, we did.
We fell in love with the service. Basically, you get a bunch of people who also use Twitter to add you, you add them, then you start shooting messages to each other. We were hooked. It was the best thing since sliced Coke.

The love affair lasted about three days. It started to get inconvenient, then annloying. I really don't care when someone else on my Twitter list wants to use the bathroom or go for a smoke break or whatever. It just got stale, boring, and annoying very fast.
I'm reading of a lot of people now who are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon and loving it. I just smile, sit back, fall off my chair, sit down again, not leaning back so far, and wait. In about a week, $20 says they'll be bored or annoyed to death with it.

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dogriver: (Default)
Bruce Toews

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