Moving stuff around, Jeans for freedom, and ALL THE FRENCH STUFF

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I have fiddled with the layout of my bedroom the past couple of days. This wasn’t what I started out thinking I would do – I wanted to take the rug from under the bed and put it in the sitting room, but once things had been shoogled about a bit I liked what I was seeing.

cozy, comfy, change of scenery

This layout avec rug is super cozy, AND, as Ten pointed out, good for yoga. Which I did this morning for the first time in ages.

old layout. hooks not for sexytime – olly had a hanging headboard arrangement.

Also this morning, I got THESE in the post – S01 & 2 of Barquo. I now feel confident that my immediate tellywatching is catered for.

vids in the post. also NHS letter referring me to the headache clinic at the neuro hozzer

***

Meanwhile elsewhere in France - les feminists francais Femen are celebrating the repeal of a 200 year old legislation against the wearing of trousers.

FEMEN celebrate the legalization of pants in Paris. In their joy, they walked through the city center in the pants!
But the happiness was rudely interrupted by police patrol as a barbaric act to go out lot topless in Paris has not been canceled yet. This and many other shameful discriminatory laws FEMEN promises to win, even if for the sake of it will have to break the legal pants.
We remind that the residents of Paris officially permitted to appear in public wearing pants. The ban, which was introduced in the year 1799, cancelled by decision of the Minister for women’s rights Nejad Vallo Belkasem, The Daily Telegraph reports.

not my photo, obvs. taken from their fb page.

Work done, we may now rest

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We were running out of poo bags so I tipped the whole basket of Poppet things on the floor to fish out any that were left straggling.

Poppet, on the other hand, decided to help herself to various balls and toys, take them into the bedroom and work on their annihilation. I didn’t even know she’d be particularly interested in toys indoors any more, but it seems she is.

***

Meanwhile, I have been working hard on getting a PhD proposal in, and managed to hit send one hour before midnight on the day before the deadline. It’s still not perfect, but it looks a lot more like a proposal than the noodly jazz style of writing I started off with.

This is what I ended up with;

Desire Lines – Creating the Sustainable Digital City

In Finland planners are known to visit their
parks immediately after the first snowfall,
when the existing paths are not visible.
People naturally choose desire lines, which
are then clearly indicated by their footprints
and can be used to guide the routing of paths.

Earls Court Project Application 1 | Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
Cultural Strategy | June 2011

The concept of digital personhood is of a piece with an ongoing discussion within discourses about ‘what is identity’. We are individuated from others and we identify with others, and in our online groups, as in any subculture, we have ways of expressing who we are within multiple groupings. Unlike physical culture, however, we do this through the ether, using an ever mutating linguistic metre, and through a digitally specific mode of ‘sharing’ (Kleon 2012). We reblog and share everything from political information and mobilization to Lolcat macros and animated gifs rather than, for example, expressing ourselves with dress and going to a particular night club or cafe (Hebdige1979). What is unique to digital identity is it’s location online and it’s freedom from geography and from the embodied self. How that manifests in the digital realm can be as unelaborated as the daily rapport I have with my dad playing Words With Friends (without ever engaging in any kind of conversation) or as proliferated as having continuous dialogues with individuals all over the internet using more than one username each. Over a variety of IFTTT (IF This Then That) pathways, for example you can have your activity under one name show up in a stream you have under another name and host discussions of a single item through various blogging platforms with different audiences. 

One’s own set of digital identities can be confusing as can keeping up with those of our friends. I have been on Facebook long enough now that I have forgotten who I knew primarily from Livejournal, and who else they might know from there until someone from one part of my life comments on someone who feels like they are from another part of my life’s post. I can then have a small moment of having my mind blown that someone I know tangentially from a visit to New York is actually quite friendly with someone who I now know in person who lives in Kirkintilloch, and they don’t know each other through me. 

The virtual world is thus threaded together with lines of code running without much respect for geography. It’s boundaries are elsewhere. Underneath the user interface is the code – what is secret to the user manifests as strongly delineated fields where one may or may not interact. What is given and what is created are in constant flux, and are more or less transparent to us depending on whether we are conversant with, happy with given constrictions, or whether we want to cut across the field.

The coders and content creators of the past decade or so are frontierspeople as well as early adopters. What is interesting to me is that this generation of people are effectively a liminal group – they are people, for instance, who may have learned analogue recording techniques and photographic techniques before digital technology existed and had to work out how to digitize before scanners, digital cameras, and monitors, for instance, were in common use. But it is not just professional artists and developers who interest me, but simply the creativity of everyday life (de Certeau 1980) as manifest online. Oral histories from this group of individuals would constitute a unique archive. The age group I am looking at will be anywhere between 30 and 60 years old right now, and are a distinct group from digital natives largely through having engaged with rapidly emergent and changing technologies. 

The City/The City

Digital culture reveals itself in two ways. First, the ‘hardware’ and it’s real time and real space relationship with buildings, cities, countries, their economies and international relations, and secondly the ‘ghost in the machine’ – how we, ourselves, connect, express ourselves, and maintain social connection through work and leisure online. 

The ‘digital city’ wouldn’t even be possible as a metaphor, were it not for the time we spend there voluntarily. We can ‘work, rest, and play’ online. 

I will argue that the internet already hosts a multitude of cultures beyond the hegemony of Google, Mac and Amazon which posit the ‘user’ merely as ‘customer’. I will use Marx’s theory of Cultural Reproduction and the later developments thereof to show that despite big business and governmental wishes individuals will use the internet and it’s elaborations in surprising ways and to their own ends.

At it’s simplest, Marx says ‘every schoolboy knows’ that any viable culture is only viable if it contains within itself it’s means of reproduction. As in the petri dish, so in society. Further elaborations include Althusser’s ‘ideological state apparatuses’ which show how power reproduces itself, and Bordieu’s more culturally inclined ‘cultural reproduction’ (Jenks: Routledge 1993)

If the internet is a city, then by extension we can use it as a source of extended metaphoricity. Grounded as it is, we can map it, we can look at various ‘boroughs’ we can consider places we work and play there, and we can consider infrastructure – the very brickwork and plumbing it relies on, its’ highways and byways, and its’ social spaces.

We can consider how it mirrors the development of ‘the city’ with the emergence of the coffee house, for instance, and how tea mediated women’s society, and compare these to the social spaces online.

Imagining the internet as a city implies stratification, routedness over rootedness (Gilroy) social mobility, spaces for interactions, all the conveniences and advances of ‘civilized’ life, and like the advent of civilization itself, we are often inventing as we go along.

If this is a city then it has been a gold rush Wild West city but perhaps it is becoming another kind of city, a Soft City (Raban, Harvill Press 1974) a non linear city with direct lines to the past, personal memories and indeed legend itself. It is a city with underground passages, secret codes and worm holes leading us blinking back into the half light of a repurposed town hall for a meeting of Dorkbot. This, then, is a city where we can invent and reinvent ourselves, meeting others who share our interests or online modalities. 

Situated Knowledges/Digital Personhood – Groups and Identity

From the Cartesian selfhood of being human because we are neither machines nor animals, to Haraway’s cyborgs, we have traveled a long road. From the startling inception of the use of the fork at table to using our iPhone to identify a leaf on a ramble, we are human because we are somewhat animal and somewhat machine. If you read through to the end of Pepys’ diary, for instance, you will discover that he did not write his diary all the way to the time of his death, but abandoned it for want of a technology many of us take for granted – eyeglasses. 

All of human life is here, and it uses the technology in whatever way is transparent and useful to their needs. In the event of governmental or brand lockdowns other means are found. Agency flows through the structure stopping only to notice it when it’s annoying and either doesn’t work properly or there is any element of learning to be done. The general fuss whenever Facebook changes something is extraordinary when you consider how little it takes to adapt to a new iteration. 

How, then, do digital technologies mediate self expression, self curation, and perhaps even self deception? I will look at how we define ourselves as individuals separate from ‘the group’ and as part of groups, utilizing interdisciplinary methods from sociology, anthropology, linguistics and literature. Though historical analysis, action research and ethnomethodological epistemologies I propose to study how digital culture might reproduce itself, and how digital personhood is constructed through processes of forming and norming in social spaces online and how restrictions and regulations are mediated by individuals and groups.

***

I wouldn’t have thought of applying for a PhD except for two factors. One was that I was asked to submit, albeit casually (on Twitter, in fact!) As an art/social science kind of person I wouldn’t have thought of applying to something put out by a ‘Faculty of the Built Environment’ anywhere at all, and perhaps even more particularly Heriot Watt, which is a uni I would never have got into as a young thing.

The other reason is one you may be familiar with – the ongoing and increasing duress that people on the ESA are being put under. I’d thought if they sent me to work it’d be fine, because I’d be stretchered out within a couple of days anyway, but it’s not that simple. The whole thing is super stressful – if you read my recent post about half an hour spent at Reed then you will know that I can’t deal with this kind of stress very well, and it’s set to increase.

A recent Panorama docco, The Great Disability Scam investigated the companies carrying out the ‘work’ for the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) highlighting these firm’s policy of cream and park. A spokesman for the DWP said this;

…which is not how the private companies commissioned to roll out “support” are doing it.

currently too ill to work – not something they give any quarter to.

the right support- yeah, right. These companies are staffed by sales staff. They are not specialists.

when they are well enough - from April we will be treated as jobseekers, with all the proving you are seeking work and appointments that that entails.

gradually – we are being pressured into taking a self employment route which will be supported for one year if taken before April.

One of the firms employing these functionaries was ratted out by an ex employee who told Panorama  “Triage call their disabled clients LTBs (lying, thieving bastards)” It is interesting to observe that in order to dehumanize their clients enough to justify their cruelty the Triage ‘workers’ employ hate speech.

“Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions.”
― Primo Levi

Were I to be accepted for the PhD it would take me out of this war of hatred against the vulnerable for three years. At least if I got the thing, if things are as bad in three years time I can insist on them calling me Doctor.

The Banality of Evil is alive and well and is represented by ATOS and the UK Govt.

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Okay, call me on it if you like, but we are way beyond Godwin’s Law right here and now. We are in the realm of Hanna Arendt’s ‘Banality of Evil’.

Susan Neiman breaks it down a little here

So, the problem is less that we need to recognize political, and for that matter big business leaders as the sociopaths they very well may be, but that there is a myriad of people who are entirely happy to carry out their cruelty. We now live in an era which splits the wrongdoing into bite sized chunks for different individuals to carry out, so that when you point out that you are not able to do whatever they are demanding of you it is not in their remit to, for instance, assess your disability, just to ensure you find a job.

The way it breaks down for me is the initial assessment form from ATOS the firm who are ‘not’ the govt, just carrying out orders, and from which they deduced that I was capable of being put in the ‘working’ group. These forms are dealt with very quickly, and it would appear that multiple disabilities do not count – my ‘points’ were based on my psychiatric status not fibromyalgia, and not chronic migraine (classed as chronic if you have more than 16 a month, at which point the World Health Organization consider a person to be more disabled than a paraplegic) and without contacting my GP or Consultant Neurologist or Psychiatrist. Nothing against nurses, but if you do get assessed (which I wasn’t) it is carried out by a nurse in a short interview, without reference to any of the hours you have spent with your more qualified GP and your very much more qualified in their specialist area Consultant/s.

THEN to add insult to injury, the govt has commissioned companies to carry out work previously done by specialist career counsellors with appropriate specialist qualifications. Attending a “voluntary” (compulsory) meeting with my unqualified ‘counsellor’, in conversation he told me he was ‘going’ to become qualified, but that he ‘didn’t read’. This may sound snobbish, but how does someone who ‘doesn’t read’ advise someone with two degrees and sundry other qualifications about the best career path for them?

For the past few months I have been left in a state of grace to get on with dealing with my myriad aliments, this being something that I am not even on top of, so how I am supposed to work as well as manage shopping and eating regularly (difficult) my medications (horrendously difficult) and personal care and environment (always a case of catastrophe management) I am not entirely sure. When I was called in for an ESA (Employment Support Allowance, the benefit I am on) group induction (with less than a day’s notice, the advisor phoning from a screened number and when the call was dropped he didn’t even phone me back to tell me which office it was going to be held at) I honestly doubt I would have made it without Ten shepherding me there. I was in full migraine incommunicado. Ten switched the mic on on my phone before I went in, because I wanted to be able to listen to it afterwards, but the sound quality was too poor.

We were herded into a room and told that from April we would be treated as Job Seekers. (Job Seekers have to show that they are applying for jobs and have to account for themselves on a regular basis.) If you do not attend for any reason you will be sanctioned. I get about £90 a week, and I have heard of benefit being cut to £21 a week for protracted periods for non attendance – even if this was because of a hospital appointment. I said that I was awaiting a tribunal to go onto the other version of the EAS which is for people deemed too ill to work. I was told in no uncertain terms that this was not their problem. They are not there to consider your disability, just to find you work. In the same breath they apprised us of their ‘Member Charter’ in which they state that they will treat you with ‘respect’. A respect which does not take into account your disability. What kind of respect might that be?

They were very keen to have us consider self employment. If we sign off and become self employed before April we will get benefits not far off what we get now, for a year. Their great idea for us is to become hairdressers or cleaners from home, or sell Body Shop products from home. This, with no respect for how many people visit us (in my case Ten, Lottie, and my neighbour Stephen and Ian and Al most months, other people less often) or OUR DISABILITY which might prevent us from cleaning, for instance. I used to work as a cleaner, you have to be bloody fit to do a good job, and I only just keep the worst of the physically endangering mess and dirt at bay at home. If you get DLA (another benefit – one I have never managed to get) or are a single parent you can consider yourself self employed if you do 16 hours a week. If not, like me, you should do 30 hours a week. That’d be 5 hours a day six days a week which would be the equivalent of me being accepted onto a space programme or running a marathon. I doubt I could do 5 hours a week. I’ve done considerably less than 5 hours a week setting up the Training With Awareness website, and it’s still quite crap. And I couldn’t have done more.

Evidently the govt wants people off EAS ‘working’ group and into work. Probably they don’t fancy putting us into workfare, since being stretchered out of their partners in crime’s premises wouldn’t look good for them. So we are being funneled into this self employment thing – which, lets face it, is going to fail for most people. Usually when people go self employed they do way more than 40 hours a week (the nominal weekly full time hours in the UK) and a LOT of them fail. This, with money to put in, full energy and ability to focus on something they are probably passionate about. So what’s going to be the reality for ‘us’? We are expected to earn £71 a week – if I could earn £71 a week I’d sign off ffs!

In the “Charter” they claim they provide “a welcoming, comfortable and positive environment” – The strip lights in the windowless room meant that I was glad I was wearing shades, there was no concession to physical disability whatever, and I consider the way they treated me as being about a -3 on “welcoming”. They were irritable, bossy, and disrespectful. Ha! Point two is “We will listen to you and treat you with respect.” Really? They go on to describe themselves as “helpful, polite, and professional at all times”. I was disinclined to communicate with them and spent most of the time in silence. When they asked if any of us had hobbies we could turn into self employed professions, the woman next to me said shyly that she liked to write. She was put firmly in her no mark place!

D’you know what? I’m not going to go through the rest. I expect you can see from this tiny taster the sort of bullshit we are dealing with here.

So what am I going to do? Pretend to be self employed for a year and hope to god something rescues me this time next year? Tough it out and maintain my more or less silent protest? Hoping that I don’t get so financially penalized that I lose my home?

Re the tribunal – the likelihood of the tribunal happening before April is quite slim. One is considered ‘work capable’ until or unless a tribunal overturns such a judgement, but even getting a tribunal has taken over a year. From what I am hearing going from having your appeal processed to actually having a tribunal can take several months.

I guess I’d better have my St Ann’s bag packed. With a copy of Janet Frame’s An Angel at My Table in my bag for added irony? Feeling that a mental hospital is a sanctuary from ordinary unhappiness exacerbated by a slew of people ‘just doing their job’ seems to me quite a good example of ‘the banality of evil’.

Have at it, Godwin, with your Law!

Goodbye to All That, New Year Navel Gazing, and PhD or Poundland

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Okay, Christmas is over, people, lets get on.

Diane Arbus, Xmas Tree in a Living Room, Levittown, L.I., 1963

It’s December 29th! Lets do a little Navel Gazing!

Year on year I don’t really seem to make many advances migraine wise. Yet I wouldn’t go back. So… something is good. Or better. Maybe increased insight is worth having even if the net result on migraines is actually nil. I do feel like I am getting somewhere. And little things matter to me. And if you can take pleasure in small things then life is a LOT sweeter. Frinstance, yesterday I blogged about Die Antwoord which is something I have been meaning to do for weeks, and changed up my tumblr theme – again something long overdue. AND I changed all my links on this blog, twitter, and tumblr to #2c749e which is a lovely blue – replacing a hot orange (so last year, my dear). I haven’t done a tumblr post for a long while – I should rectify that – but I am pleased to say that at some point wordpress decided to Xpost to tumblr, and my wp posts have been reblogged several times, which means possibly new readers – fingers crossed!

I also hoovered and mopped, which left me with a bad back, a difficult night and a migraine in the  morning, but with Ten gone the sitting room is READY for me to do stuff. The stuff I have to or want to do includes boring paperwork (urgent), painting (haven’t done any in a little while, need to get into a rhythm with that) and AND and a PhD application.

That’s right, you read it here first. Or second, I’m pretty sure I have mentioned it somewhere already. Anyway, I was in conversation with someone on twitter, and he was promoting a funded PhD. I said it wasn’t quite my thing, but I’d share and he ended up encouraging me to apply. The deadline is end of January, so I will have to look sharp. Thing is, that I had really given up the idea of doing such a thing some time ago but in practical terms it could be the very get out of jail free card that I need. At any rate, I will write a proposal and see if it flies.

So, the way they put it was about ‘Creating the Sustainable Digital City’ which, from the blurb looked like it would be rather about politics and hardware.

It’s being hosted by the department of “The Built Environment” at Heriot Watt university. Not somewhere I would naturally think of applying. I like that I have a month to get it together, though. Plenty time, but a short enough deadline to get me moving on it. If what I come up with loses steam quickly I will know it’s not for me – and same goes if they reject it. If, however, I got in, not only would I not have to live in Edinburgh, but I wouldn’t need to stay put at all, and I could go all global and travelly. Always assuming I got through the next firey hoop – applying for AHRC funding for a grant. It wouldn’t be do-able otherwise, and the great thing about being on a grant for three years is I could get out of this hell hole of being on benefits during a Tory hate campaign against the disabled.

Whether I would be up to the job is a whole other question. PhDs seem to make people ill and mental, but given that I am starting from that point things could either be just fine or go horribly wrong quite quickly. A better option than waiting to be sent to work at Poundland, anyway.

Thoughts on Prompts and Pictures of the Tiger Worm Hotel

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Now that I’m back on the blogging trail, and now that I have done some serious worm hotel construction and had my bath, my mind turns to what to blog about today. During my mega migraine bonanza I missed a whole week of prompts for NaBloPoMo. Lets see what they would have been…

Monday, November 5, 2012

What are your thoughts about tomorrow’s election in the United States?

Well, what with all the hindsight, I can just say it’s a bit of a relief. Not because Obama is going to be a total angel, but because things would have been a great deal worse if Mr Mitt had got in. Like here, we have a tory mayor of London and a tory Prime Minister. Romney as icing on that layer cake would have been unbearable.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012
If you were President of the United States, what would be your first act in office?

Stop the drone strikes. Drones seem to me to be a war crime in conception, construction and use. They are no better than land mines. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Talk about the last compliment you received.

Most probably the Kirsty I play Words With Friends with. She is very generous when I paste her! However, we are very often neck and neck towards the end of the game, which is very exciting. We are very evenly matched. Also, she is usually up already when I wake up, so we often play live, too, which is nice.

Thursday, November 8, 2012
If you could have any job (and instantly have the training and qualifications to do it), which job would you want?

I would like to be David Sedaris, but that job is already taken. 

Friday, November 9, 2012
If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would it be?

I would magic away the migraines and fibro crap. Then i would be able to do ANYTHING!!!!!! Except be a child prodigy, astronaut, ballerina, stunt double, body double, chess master, or opera singer. Those are all off the table no matter how well I got. If I could, I’d be a writer. So much tidier than painting, and I admire writers so much. I don’t think I could really write fiction, though. 

Well! That didn’t take long! Now I am all caught up. Well done me.

***

I dare say you are dying to see the Worm Hotel. Let me just dry my hair and I’ll take the camera out and see what I can offer you.

tottenham hilton under construction

the black thing was full, but the compost not fully, well, composted. so in moving the contents to the clear hoppers i may be needing quite a few of them to complete the job.

ten asked how the worms would reach the holes in the next box up – i am including quite a lot of twiggery for them to climb on. ‘like an adventure playground, then’, he said

i am not sure whether the worms will like the clear plastic. they do like the dark, it’s true, but then they also like to escape. i have found quite a few who think they are steve mcqueen.

So, very much still IN PROCESS as you can see. But I am getting there, and the new drill bit is paying it’s way. Obviously if I was building this entirely from scratch I wouldn’t risk the clear boxes, but since I have so many of them it is a good re-use and if they don’t work out I will just have to get some opaque ones. Although ordinary composting needs dark I am not sure if the worms do. If you leave the lid off they come up towards the light, so who knows what they are thinking.

No Sleep til Night time, Unbelievable Government Bullshit, and The AIDS Memorial Quilt

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Good God! If I thought yesterday was uninspiring blog fodder, get today’s action.

Now, you may not know the joys of medication, but I take GET ON WITH YOUR DAY drugs in the morning and GO TO BED drugs at night. That’s right, I am actually Alice in Wonderland but more boring, older, and a bit fat. So what I do, when I get my medication, is to put them in those plastic holders with the days of the week on. I have two, a clear one and a blue one, so the clear one can be for morningtime and the blue one can be for night time. Annoyingly they start the week with different days, but that shouldn’t be an issue. However. More than once I have taken the wrong drugs at night when I am tired, and I have taken the GET ON WITH YOUR DAY drugs before bed, resulting in staying awake all night. I have done it the other way round, too, but only once. What I did to help this situation was to put the night ones in my bedroom, but when you fill them up it’s easy to forget and just put the whole lot in the kitchen drawer. SUCH WAS MY LOT, dear reader, when last night I went to bed. It took me ages to realize my mistake. I can report that nights are quite long when you are awake enough to be bored but not awake enough to do anything about it.

So today was a bit of a wash. It had rained a lot of the night and it was still raining this morning. Now, some staffies won’t even go out of doors to pee if it is raining. Poppet doesn’t mind a bit of rain, though she gets a bit itchy and needs to sulk under a blanket if she gets too wet. Luckily Ten was here, and he took her out in a break in the rain and played ball with her. But this afternoon, she really wasn’t interested in going out. We finally persuaded her when Ten’s bike tire exploded and he had to go into town to a bike shop and decided he’d take her with him. She loves the train and she loves shops, and it isn’t actually raining right now. However, there may have been a little something extra in the mix, because as she jumped off the bed she also projectile vomited all along the floor! Nice! Still, better out than in, I suppose. She does like a little casual dining when she is out, and not everything is within it’s use by date… even for a dog.

And that is basically my whole day except playing words with friends and watching episodes of Parenthood. I can’t wait til I can take my GO TO BED drugs and finally go the fuck to sleep.

***

There was something else today, though. I was reading some blogs and I shared this shocker on facebook.

“Iain Duncan Smith launched an astonishing attack on step-parents, single parents and LGBT couples this week in a move that could see welfare to work sharks brought into the family home and even the bedroom.

Speaking at a conference on social justice, the Secretary of State warned that in future the proportion of children no longer living with the same parents from birth would be a new government measure to monitor the growth of ‘social problems’.”

I mean, targeting step parents? In what way are they part of the problem and not part of the solution? This government beggars belief, I can tell you. Any smugness in comparing the UK to the USA is pretty much over right now. I can only hope that they really are wildly out of touch and we’re not just about to be forced to wear stars and triangles and so on, because seriously, this shit is scary. It inspired a fair amount of swearing in the thread.

***

While we are being bummed out, this might be the time to share the news that The AIDS Memorial Quilt has been digitized in it’s entirety.

Sobering stuff.

letter from poppet, birthday pics, and richard o’dwyer extradition petition

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Migraine Awareness Month #25: “Through My Children’s Eyes.” Write a letter to yourself from your children. 


i don’t have children as such. of course, i do have my lovely dog, poppet. she doesn’t care about migraine though she does like a cuddle.

der laine,

i laik the fud. also walk in park. is saf to et squirls? i’m nevr sur.

party yestiday was kite gud. not sur abot dog, she laiked eting from thi bin, and that is mine.

nao can i go bak to slep? yu intruptx a god drem.

lov, popit.

“National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by www.FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.”

***

now then! birthday!

happily, i had a proper photographer on hand, because i am not one for taking pictures in company. ellis took these. pictures of people mainly came out blurred – damn camera was probably on manual, it’s an awkward beast. still, he got some good shots of CAKE and so on, which is the main thing.

i asked stephen from next door to bring in his piano since we had so many musicans handy, and he brought in a couple of guitars as well. so we had sing songs which was lovely.

i had the best day. i love bringing people together. it was a nice mix – nearly everyone knew more than one other person and everyone had lots in common. i had a little lie down about threeish, and then rallied. in the evening stephen, ten, poppet and i watched limitless, which was just the sort of tosh we were fit for.

***

this kid is being threatened with extradition to the US

“Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has made a rare political intervention to call on Theresa May to stop the extradition of British student Richard O’Dwyer to the US for alleged copyright offences.”

click through here to read the full article and sign the petition – pretty please!

doctor doctor, karl marx credit card, and a little music for you (earworm alert!)

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Migraine Awareness Month #20:  “Run, Forrest, Run!” Describe the approach you think is best when it’s time to more on to a new doctor.

generally, in the uk, we now have group surgeries more often than not. a little while ago we had a doctor called sutcliffe who got a little bit murdery and it was thought that it would be a good idea to roll out the group practices. this is great news for anyone with complicated or chronic conditions, because it’s pretty hard to change practices, but easy enough to just start seeing another doc within the group. i recently moved house and had to register with a new doctor. as you might imagine, i have had lots of appointments, yet i have actually never met the doc i was registered with. my main criteria was that i should get some continuity of care and that the doc i stuck with should be clever and up to date. i am pretty pleased with the guy i ended up with.

on the other hand, although you get some initial choice when you go fishing for a specialist, once you get an appointment you are rather stuck with that person. the NHS is changing at the moment. we expect to get more superficial choice but ultimately less quality, so it’s probably an idea to get fixed up asap. due to a quirk in circumstances i could stick with the guy i have now, but i am considering not doing – and in this country that means another random card. but better for me, probably, than sticking with the hand i have been dealt.

it’s a tricky question, really, because on the one hand continuity of care is important to me, and on the other hand things can get a little stale. i’d say you have to sit and consider your needs every so often and ask yourself if you are better off sticking or twisting.

“National Migraine Awareness Month is initiated by the National Headache Foundation. The Blogger’s Challenge is initiated by www.FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.”

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a german bank has issued a marx credit card. seems apposite for the times, no? a complicated mixed message indeed. although it is a fact that economists as well as sociologists study marx.

if you want to know how money works now you could do worse than watching this video. it’s an hour long so i won’t blame you if you don’t.

also, money is COMPLICATED, yo!

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if you don’t want to watch that video you could watch this one. i warn you, though, the reason i am even thinking about it is because @thebustocrookes namechecked it in a tweet. i have had it as an earworm for days now and i can’t shake it.

one of the backup singers is a young kirsty maccoll. poor kirsty. she was amazing. i could never really get with the whole lady di’s death drama, but i was horrified when kirsty maccoll died. also john peel. loved john peel. anyway, here’s some kirsty.

libraries, poppet, art stuff, colourbox, scottish referendum, gardening, instapaper, tea, workfare, cooking.

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1. soooo… ANGRY at this. sneaky FUCKERS. and not in a good way. what body of people moves *things* at 2am when they feel comfortable and legal and whatnot with their decision to do it?

almost particularly when those *things* are BOOKS. BOOKS! people! stripping a whole library at 2am. and now i am really going to swear.

MOTHER FUCKING FUCKERS.

2. poppet all better, and taking the best seat in the house (well, garden).

harraw!

she’s doing well. i think the ear with the stitches in it might get itchy at some point and i will have to put the lampshade back on but she’s mostly NAKED and happily putting it all behind her. and yesterday we went out with mark and charlie, so she had lots of bull terrier fun with her young luvvahboy.

3. these look like some groovy sites for sharing your creative journey. not being active in the visual art world i hadn’t heard of most of them, but i have seen the colour one before. big fan of colour/color.

4. play some more of that colourbox stuff again!

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5. so much for 2012. you’d think it was the END OF TIME the way people are going on about it. there will be life after the olympics, and there is a whole nother EVENT to look forward to. or, at least, there is for those that are interested in these things. september 2014 heralds a referendum on scottish independence. the debates are starting now. you can read a bit about it here if you’ve a passing interest.

IN THE 70’S THERE WAS A REFERENDUM FOR A SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT. ONE OF THEIR SLOGANS WAS “IT’S OOR OIL”.

i don’t live there any more, as you know, so will not get a vote. on the one hand, it will be bad for england if scotland becomes independent, at least in the short term, because MANY more people vote tory here. on the other hand it may radicalize people even more than the occupy/banking crisis/workfare stuff is doing already. and if scotland did become a kind of english speaking scandinavian country that would be kind of cool.

for them.

however, there is another side of NATIONALISM. as amy from lucy’s football  likes to say “what have we learned?” well, we have learned that nationalism can get a bit RACIST. yes it can.

think ON, scotland.

6. i’ve had my mum visiting, for the past few days, from scotland. we’ve been having a heatwave and have spent most of the time in the garden. this has meant that i have started FIDDLING with things. i’ve moved plants around, de-strangled some of the things i’d like to live, and banished the ferny thing to the bit where there is just london clay and pebbles. nothing else will grow there anyway, and it looks nice. you just can’t let it ENCROACH is all.

ferny thing. nice enough, and welcome in the pebbly clay, but a bit of an encroacher.

most things that i have moved have seemed happier where i have put them. all except a really sad poppy which hung it’s head tragically post move. it may rally overnight or it may not. i’ve not moved a poppy before.

i’ve put in some of my neighbour’s herb robert, and am excited about it. you can have the leaf tips as a tea.

7. you know what i like? instapaper. can’t remember where it was recommended, but i have been using it lots. it’s great for people who end up with more tabs than they can even see on their desktop. with it, you can just save a page for later IN THE CLOUD and happily close some tabs. it’s like having a good memory. most pleasing.

8. here’s something for our ken;

it isn’t credited on tumblr, which usually means i won’t post, but it’s too good not to show at least my blogging homies. 21,059 reblogs, as well! i wonder if the OP even knows that… no hits on tineye either.

9. you may notice that i yammer on about ‘workfare’ now and then. if you are not in the uk you might think ‘what on earth is she banging on about?’ especially if you don’t realize i am seriously unable to work for a living. here is a guardian column in which the writer covers quite a few of the things that make me worried and ballistic by turns.

10. sorry to whoever i nicked this from on twitter, but here is a hilarious tumblr pipcooksthebooks where the eponymous pip shows us the difference between the ‘showroom’ version of the dish and what it actually looks like when a normal person tries it. you have to click through. i’m not even going to try to find my favourite.

more workfare shenanigans

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i’ve just added a WORKFARE page to my blog. since this is now a part of my life i had to decide whether to blog about it and risk who knows what in sanctions or to keep it to myself and risk a hernia.

reader, LETS GO! FUCK WORKFARE AND THE HORSE IT RODE IN ON! because imma blog the fuck out of it.

so, where were we? yes. this morning i decided to make an introductory page about it which is basically cut and pasted from last week’s protected blog post, so if you read that you are up to speed. if you didn’t here’s the link to the page. you can find it any time, though, because it’s right up there at the top with ‘about the author’ etc. i will be updating it as i go along.

well, monday i had to go to another “work focused interview”. i was super anxious, since i had decided that i didn’t want to sign their incomprehensible paperwork, and i had printed out one of these consent withdrawl letters to hand to my ‘advisor’. my stomach was in knots about it, but the thing is that DSS (department of social security) paperwork is all kitemarked by the plain english campaign, so whether you like what you are signing or not it is at least unambiguous. if i have to have something explained to me  verbally i don’t like to sign it, because what, then, are you signing?

the consent withdrawl letter i used is all DWP (department of work and pensions) policy quoted verbatim. it’s written in legal english, which is difficult but not ambiguous. i was worried that it would mark me out as ‘anti’ and make for tense times at these mandatory meetings.

ten walked me up there, and i went in to the crowded open plan office. the bloke i see is nice enough, and clearly does want to help me, but it would seem that he is woefully ill informed about LOTS of things. lots and lots of things. let me be an education for him.

so, i explained to him that it was nothing personal, but that i declined to fill in the forms he had given me. i gave him the letter and a copy for me to read and sign, and unsurprisingly, he was disinclined to sign it right then and there. however, happily, he appeared to not take it personally, and the rest of our meeting went ok within the bounds of as ‘ok’ as it could ever be.

in fact, i told him two things about not signing the paperwork. i told him that it was unclear and that i didn’t want to sign it, and that legally i didn’t have to sign it, and i also told him that due to my heightened anxiety levels i no longer considered myself mentally competent (mental health act 1982, if i had to quote it, though i didn’t – i feel i need back up for EVERYTHING now). it seems that St Anne’s Hospital has lost my referral from the Complex Care team to the next team i will be handled by, for people with chronic health conditions, so if i want my medication looked at i will either have to wait til the original psych comes back from holiday and re-sends his referral, go to emergency, or get my GP to review my meds. this all seems too complicated for me to think about, so am currently just gritting my teeth.

at the top of the meeting he asked me how i was. obviously, in a normal situation i simply lie and tell people i am fine because that is the answer to “how are you?” however, it behooves me to tell the truth in this instance, since i need him to understand that i am very much not fine and expect to be not fine for the foreseeable future.

now, since receiving the letter about the changeover from Incapacity Benefit to Employment and Support Allowance, and my categorization in the work related activity group i have read it rather closely. obvs, i didn’t read it properly when i first got it, since i was OFF MY FACE on antipsychotics at the time. i tend not to read letters. i didn’t even open the original form, and had to phone them to ask for clemency because i hadn’t returned it during their time frame. guess what? that’s part of mental ill health. i was too busy having suicidal ideations to open letters, sorry.

anyway, now that i have read it more closely i have noted a sentence on page 4 which reads;

“You are required to attend and take part in work-focused interviews as a condition of continuing to recieve benefit. If you do not attend or participate in a work-focused interview your benefit may be reduced.

However work-focused interviews may be deferred if there are good reasons as to why it is not appropriate or of no assistance at that time.

i showed my advisor this, and HE HAD NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE and he asked me if he could take a copy. OF COURSE he could have a copy. the better informed he really is the better for me. it would appear his masters don’t want him knowing that he needn’t continue with someone who is clearly not well enough to attend interviews (this is, after all, how the organization makes it’s money, processing the sick and poor for profit).

of course, i have been thinking about what i would do if they took my benefit off me. unfortunately, my work based fantasies are just that, fantasies. if  i were well enough there are any number of things i could do. my thought was that i could do murals for people, because if i could do them then it wouldn’t take many to replace the ESA money. so, i mentioned this to him. OOH! he loved that. it was like i had thrown him a bone. i think it is evident to him that i would not be able to manage anything like a regular job, so i expect he was expecting a bit of an uphill interview.

if you do 30 hours a week paid work you can claim working tax credit, he explained. (that would be an income of half what i get on ESA, but of course, better than nothing, i suppose.) it would get me off ESA which would be a win for statistics, and more importantly for his company, a big fat cheque for getting me ‘into work’. he explained that i didn’t really need to be working 30 hours, that lying on the sofa thinking about my project would count as working. HA! if there really was a job called ‘lying on the couch and thinking’ i would be fully employed!

he printed off a ream of paperwork about self employment for me to take home. he is completely in denial about what i have told him is my physical state. bless him. he is also extremely uninformed about how working tax credit works. he did tell me that i would have to be making £70 a week. if i could make £70 a week doing anything i would have signed off so i could be free of this farce and the duress it puts me under.

i have looked up the regulations for working tax credit. as it happens, if you are considered ‘disabled’ the weekly hours go down to 16. still more than i could manage, but does he not know that? and according to their paperwork i could claim it, were i actually going to do this, while claiming EAS.

anyway, it’s all in the realm of myth right now. if i were well enough to work i would be happy to go to the job centre where the career advisors are more well informed about guidelines if i wanted to be self employed or if i was entitled to working tax credit. if i were well enough to work, though, i’d much rather get a job. self employment is, in reality, incredibly hard work and involves a LOT more than 30 hours of work a week. the stress alone would put me back to square one.

sorry for banging on! unfortunately, dear readers, i will likely be blogging about this for some time to come. i hope that what information i glean can help others in my situation. go forth! be well! and if you are dealing with this abomination yourself, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.