Saturday, December 16, 2006
I think the story goes that Jordan can't really sing so they use an autotune device to make her sound good in the studio. But some naughty recording person recorded the two of them doing their duet before her voice was synthesized to sound good.
It's hilarious. And Jordan is extremely mad that it got onto YouTube ... claims it has been faked to make her look stupid. "Ahh but she's a good bizniss woman innit, gotta respeck her for that ain't ya?"
Friday, December 15, 2006
I so completely badly want to learn to speak German! I bought some CDs by Michel Thomas (who I believe is dead now?) 5 years ago and really intended to go through all 8 disks and learn. I got up to disk 4 once butfor some reason didn't continue. Leave it a few months, come back to it, and you realise you have to start again. These quickie learning devices aren't nearly as good as continual practice of a language at school or living abroad.
So I'm on CD #1 again. I'm learning things like !"come with me, please" and "can I come with you this evening". I've forgotten what else because, to be honest, the last time I heard disk 1 was a week ago and it's all slipping from my mind.
TIP: never try to learn a language in bed at night. It's not quite the same as just flicking on LBC and falling asleep to it. It seems your brain needs to stay alert.
My girlfriend's family is half german. I'm sure there will come a time when it'll become useful. her grandmother was over in the UK last year and there were a few awkward silences when the rest of the family were out of the room leaving me and her. Ormy? Ormie? Not being able to see, I couldnt even just sit there and smile ... visual language is out the window too. So, apart from my personal wish to learn, it also has it's practical purposes. I'll be able to communicate with the in-laws ...
In Vienna we went to the Freud museum, the mozart museumhouse thing ... did a disappointing bus tour ... went to a restaurant that had an old man playing a Hungarian Gypsy instrument (we gave him a 10 euro tip and he played 'if I were a rich man' for us). We went to the Christmas market in front of the town hall ... shopped ... and lots of other stuff.
it was nice that Vienna was cold. London just isn't cold enough in winter any more.
And then all this stuff about the murderer in Ipswich broke! Kristina's little sister lives there; she's just moved there with her boyfriend. nasty to think of someone living in the thick of it ... she's sensible though.
talking about serial killers, though, I live very close to where that nice Denis Neilsen (SP?) bumped off and boiled his victims in the early 80s - known at the time as the Cricklewood Murders. Rather irrelevant now as he's out of harm's way. I don't remember whether he's in a secure hospital or a prison but I do remember him being interviewed on an ITV documentary in the mid 90s ... and it was chilling. He was goading the interviewer, "no it wasn't bloody. Have you never come across a dead body before?" as if he had the upperhand and was better because of it. Horrible. I can't put it into words but it was rather chilling.
So, there ya go, Vienna through to chilling murderers. I wish I hadn't tied the two subjects together like that. My holiday was great ... shame that I never seem to really relax until a day before it's time to go home. Sounds like a cliche but true in my case it seems.
It's the Ouch Christmas Podcast party on Monday. Wahey yip yo. Really looking forward to it.
Thanks to katie fraser for her marvellous Xmas gift to the Ouch team. We scoffed most of them today. mmmm shortbread with orangey chocolatey bits.
Where's my cab it's ten past seven for crissakes.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble are exactly what they say ... brass with a kind of hip hop beat. Talk about amazing! No synthesizers or electronic sounds but totally fresh and vibrant; classic and modern. An amazing fusion from the soul!
Check out Hypnotic Brass Ensemble on YouTube.
I've got to find their album somehow! My initial Googling tells me they're from Chicago. I need that music now ... I'm off to buy it no matter how.
Have downloaded one of Gilles Peterson's Podcasts too ... first time I've really taken a lot of notice of the DJ - who also has a show on Radio One - he certainly has an ear for quality ... an interesting kind of classicness.
[update] Here's a link to the track I like Jupiter. You need to hear it in its entirity really because, at length, it is hypnotic. This clip is from somewhere near the end when some vocals kick in though I prefer just the brassy music. Interested to hear what others think.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I daren't go into the amount of effort, phonebashing and unforseen issues around making this podcast happen. It's put us back several days. Suffice to say, I'll be looking forward to meeting the 15-20 or so fire risks that we've invited along to the 'cast Thursday. Can't you just all learn to walk or something? How hard is it? Mik Scarlet is giving it his best shot after all on TV this Thursday at 7pm isn't he? What a role model!
Special guests at the podcast will be Mr Bennet the caretaker from Take Hart, Vicky Liquorice from Saturday Superstore and the man who wrote the Nationwide theme tune ... the early 80s one not the one everyone knows.
My anxiety is that if i upgrade it'll become inaccessible to screenreaders meaning I'll never be able to post again! Other Google products aren't very accessible so I don't hold out too much hope. I'm aware I can delay the switch for a while but not forever because the entire system is going to swap over.
When I'm eventually forced to switch, this blog may die forever. But maybe it won't? If you are a screenreader user and have made the switch, can you tell me how you got on?
If I go very quiet ... you know why ...
Sunday, November 19, 2006
WE all congregated thanks to an invite from Lady Bracknell (whose blog is far too popular for me to bother linking to here). Lady B received her MBE last Friday. Congratulations. Now for the next spiffing wheeze, i.e. to make her an actual Lady, one of them wot can sit in the House of Lords and uphold our democracy. Can you do it online these days? I figure if you can get AA car insurance online then Lordships and Ladyships can't be far off.
Spoke to everyone quite a bit except for Ouch messageboard wag Turtle who buggered off quicker than I thought she was going to. Again I'd link to Turtle's blog but I think there's a link down the side here somewhere and I'm trying to write this quickly to get in front of my TV in time for the new series of Lost later.
I didn't leave the bar until gone 7pm. Thanks to, or no thanks to, the excellent/inexcellent taxicard scheme and ComCab who are a bunch of sheisters.
The missing were missed: Marmite Boy, Fang and Becca Viola. Hopefully I'll be able to meet you all another time.
All this jibber jabber will mean very little to those who've not clicked the links to other blogs from this blog ... and to those who've never been to the Ouch messageboard before.
All really lovely people ... and one hell of an effort was taken to get us all round the same table. For those who made the most extreme efforts I salute you. Be great to meet up again.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
I'll do another round-up of happenings that show TV is dying and user generated content TV is on the rise, soon.
Today though I saw this in the MediaGuardian by Jemima Kiss:
YourKindaTV takes web TV shows onto Sky. Basically what we have here is website yourkindatv.com - a user generated newsy website - has bought some broadcast space on Information TV which you can receive if you're a Sky customer.
They're pretty much just showcasing their web content in a half hour weekend TV slot they've bought. Information TV, it seems, is one of these broadcasters that sells its own airtime. That's how it makes cash. You can buy an hour of time on Information TV for just one thousand pounds.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
It's big, it's silvery coloured, it'll hold more food and drink than ever before ... and it'll just about fit in through my front door. Or, at least, the calculations we've done using a retractable steel measure and, well, our heads, basically, suggests we'll be OK. Just. With maybe a teensy bit of luck on our side.
For a little while, then, we will have two fridges: the fucking big one (we've discussed this already) and a not quite so fucking big one but still sizeable. Almost as tall as me (6 ft 2 ins).
We really wanted one of those that have a water cooler built in. Sadly it seems you need to plumb those in (I guess that's how the water gets in) and it's too far from the water pipes.
My idle hope is that the fridge will make me eat more healthily. The last month I've somehow gone on a bad food kick. Well, that's not to say too bad but I've been eating quite a lot of it. Just a temporary thing and I reckon that we've now got enough space in our FHF to make and freeze some lovely healthy foodstuffs.
Weirdly, Kristina has managed to go on a diet kick through the middle of my fat kick. I have suggested that she, as the main person who prepares food round these parts, is trying to fatten me up so that she looks better than me. If I get to the bottom of this and discover my suspicions are right ... well there'll be hell to pay. Seriously. I think those wife beaters may just get a bit of a bad rap just like disabled people too ... it's hard to sort it out in my head. Maybe I'll just trip her up when she comes in. There.
Other thoughts in my head today:
* That blowing-up-tube-under-the-Thames bloke came from round here. I wonder if I met him. Honestly though, terrorism is beastly ... I can't condone it.
* I don't appear to hav any Diet Coke in the house.
* I called a locksmith today for the first time in my life. I'm an adult!
* I'm going to an ironmonger tomorrow ... naw just joking
* Digital radio is rubbish and sounds like it's under water half the time.
* Channel 4's Jihad TV last night had lots of subtitled footage when people spoke in Arabic. I couldn't effing follow the programme. An important document of the times but made inaccessible to those of us who can't see so well (understatement)
* My guide dog hasn't had a shit in three days.
* we used to get farepak Hampers when I was a kid ... parents were agents in fact. I seem to remember that Noele Gordon was the face of Farepak back then ... then when she carked it Gloria Hunniford took over.
* What shall I spend my Amazon vouchers on?
* Is anyone else following Lost?
* My toe hurts.
PS: Sorry about the wifebeating gag. Really not funny if you're a wife and you've been beaten. Bad Damon. Funny how I can make gags about spastics but feel bad about this ... I left it in to see how I felt about it. Damon? Yeah? Whatever.
PPS: What happened to my blog entry about staying in a castle last weekend? It isn't here any more.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
It's a load of fucking blind crap. I need some of that chemical stuff I was talking about the other week, maybe that'll also cure my manic depression, seizures and illogical bank heists I keep getting involved in (even though I know I shouldn't)
Have I ever mentioned I've got a bit of a thing for Sky News's Anna Jones? Everyone says she's got a "small face" but I don't think that necessarily has to stand in the way of a fruitful relationship. Anyone? Sky under-use her, she does mornings now but was great doing the analytical stuff on Sunday nights on News 24 in another life.
North Korea may be about to test a second nuclear device ... a penis envy thing if ever I saw one
Today's news says we're all going to be drinking treated sewage to solve the water crisis. I thought Londoners had been drinking treated sewage for donkey's years? (that's not a stupid joke, I really thought that was the case?)
Vaughan might be moving out of hospital he told me yesterday. Good news!
I'm quite excited about this and think you will be too.
It was my birthday last Sunday so I was given a rather large Toblerone bar. Unlike other chocolate bars I recall from my youth, I swear yours has got bigger. Is this true?
Whilst eating a chunk of your marvellous product today, I had something of an earth shattering idea I felt I needed to share with you.
Clearly you have cornered (no pun intended) the market for triangular chocolate. Well then, how about creating a circular bar to complement your range?
Just round off the triangular tips on your bar (they can hurt the roof of the mouth a little if you're not too careful actually, I don't know if your user testing has ever discovered that?) and a new bar will be born.
I've been singing in the bathroom and, it's OK: 'circular' fits equally well into your jingle which is already non-sensical, i.e. circular people, circular stteepels, bees, honey, etc. So no great marketing budget needed. In fact, I'd happily sing 'circular' in the places where 'triangular' currently appears ... if that's at all useful. I'm quite available: you can email me via this blog or call me in the office like Katie Fraser does.
I know what you're thinking. Wouldn't a circularesque Toblerone look a little like failed 80s chocolate bar, Logger? And yes, you might be right. But remember, Logger was an inferior bar with no chew even if it has the semi-circular / flat look that I envisage the new Circular Toblerone bar would have.
I do hope I have helped you out a little with your ultimate gift confectionary. To be honest there has been little innovation over there in Switzerland (I assume that's where you're still based?) after white chocolate Toblerones and those snow-capped ones you started producing for the Christmas market in the mid 90s. I don't want to use the word 'disappointed' but Christmases and birthdays are getting a little samey now that I'm in my 30s.
Damon A Rose
Sunday, October 15, 2006
I was the biggest Swap Shop fan, but, even I didn't really enjoy watching them again some 25 years later. GULP 25 years later?????
Anyhoo, playing around on YouTube earlier, I found a clip of Swap Shop where Noel is interviewing Leela from Doctor Who (Louise Jameson who went on to play Rosa Dimarco in EastEnders. I'm guessing it's an episode of Swap Shop from the late 70s.
Here's the Swap Shop video clip.
It's funny that nowadays, when we're marketing or trying to make something sound cool and modern and hi tech, we say it's 'digital' or 'high definition' or 'interactive'. In the 80s Nicam Stereo was all the rage ... but in the late 70s it was just good enough to be Multi-Coloured.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Fame TV launches on Sky in November
MTV Flux launched in September | Read Wikipedia's entry about MTV Flux
Propeller TV propelling student film makers and emerging talent up the career ladder (195 on Sky) | Read Wikipedia's entry about Propeller TV
Current TV Al Gore's much talked about station coming to the UK in 2007 | Read Wikipedia's entry about Current TV
YouTube.com - Broadcast yourself (recently bought by Google) | Read Wikipedia's entry about YouTube
GoFish | Read Wikipedia's entry about GoFish
Read more about video sharing on Wikipedia
STUFF TO READ
Related stories from newspapers and the web in the last two weeks.
The vision thing -- A year after it was launched, YouTube is being sold for almost £900m. But what is Google buying? The world's biggest collection of pop videos and silly
home movies - or something that could change the face of policing, politics and the web? John Harris reports.
Gore joins forces with Murdochs for user-generated web/TV network -- "the democratisation of the television medium" says Gore. Current TV service to launch in UK before going global. BSkyB says deal is first step to more initiatives.
Murdoch says future is user-generated -- Speaking about Sky's collaboration with Current TV, the head of BSkyB says that the new video sharing trend will push existing production companies out of their comfort zone. "Producers have to engage with wider communities [and recognise] that it is not a fad, a niche, a blip that is going to go away." says James Murdoch.
Google nets YouTube in $1.65bn takeover -- The founders of the video website YouTube last night accepted a $1.65bn (£880m) takeover offer from Google for their 20-month-old venture, which has a big
online following but has yet to make money.
Am hoping to update this weblog entry at some stage, so if you see it reappear it's an update not a repeat ;)
Friday, October 13, 2006
To cut a long story short ... there is no point trying to get a disability TV show on TV any more. Not on the big mainstream channels. Whatever you might want to see as a disabled viewer isn't going to happen.
Informed realism in the way I would want it isn't going to make it before TV starts to fragment hugely and 'mainstream' as a concept dies.
Mainstream, as we know it now, isn't going to be around for too much longer. To put it another way, everybody wil be a broadcaster soon.
If you want your ideas to 'get out there' and succeed then Youtube.com and other similar sites are going to be the answer. And if you remember that the web and TV are going to be less and less distinguishable within the next 5 to 10 years, it's not going to be a geeky backroom 'sit forward' office thing, it'll be a living room 'sit back' experience.
Lets stick with YouTube for a sec. Google have just bought it for just under a billion pounds. Already they're discussing that the business model for YouTube in the future will include advertising. The suggestion is that, if you upload a video, you will receive a share of that advetising money. And so if you can get enough people to watch it, via whatever means - viral marketing, press publicity, word of mouth, blog talk, whatever - you could be sitting on a small fortune that could sustain your lifestyle as an artist. An artist with a following could make lots of money if 90,000 or 8 million people click onto their latest video.
Who will be the stars of the future? Minority markets could well drive huge numbers of hits, especially if they are starved of the kind of content they'er after on mainstream channels. That's if channels still exist. By May next year we will be saturated with dozens of new ways to download, vodcast, podcast and share television and radio. Sky, BBC, Channel 4, Ch Five and even the usually slow ITV are all developing their various Video on Demand / iPlayer models.
They may be on the net to begin with but how are we going to be consuming video in the next few years anyway? The iPod TV is going to launch next year. The new Windows Vista operating system (replacement for XP) is launched with more multimedia capability and emphasis on transmitting to your TV set. BT Vision launches this November: it's a broadband TV set-top broadband box; some are calling it Freeview plus because that's what it is - Freeview ariel TV integrated with a seemless broadband offering that will let you get Video on Demand from its servers.
Sky are buying up broadband companies like nuts. Why? Because rupert Murdoch realises now that he has a hell of a white elephant on his hands. Sky has 9 million households with ugly great dishes on their rooftops. Lots of people would like to get rid of those dishes, dishes he gave away for free! He badly needs to get into what's been dubbed 'multicasting' - TV delivered over the web (IPTV protocol for the geeks out there). You can't do Video on Demand with a limited satellite system, nor via the airwaves with current Freeview boxes.
ADSL via your phone will be the main driver of multicast / Video on Demand TV. Broadcasts from many to many unlike broadcast which is from one transmitter to many. Advertising will be a dream too on this multicast platform, direct ads for the kind of person it already knows you are based on your TV viewing habits that it monitors.
Back to the disability point though:
production companies could well soon have the upper hand over what we now see as the main broadcasters. Content is king. If you've made some content, wy do you need a channel to show it on when Video on Demand exists? Why does Endemol need to sell Big Brother to Channel 4 if it could just stream it for itself?
You could just put your home made TV show up on your own website/servers in the future. All you need to do then is get the message out there that your show exists or get it listed somehow on the electronic programme guide connected with the set-top box system you've got with BT or NTL or Sky or whoever.
The first stage of Video on Demand will be a closed circuit, BT Vision for instance will not immediately be hooking up to the entire internet from this November we think but that will have to change.
They're already talking about including YouTube players in settop boxes. Or BBC / ITV players. Who will get there first? Whose software will be king? Don't know. Will it even work like that? It'll definitely be hooked up to your main broadband connection though.
What will mainstream be? The things at the top of the electronic menu this evening?
Disability groups round the world, creative people etc, should be thinking hard NOW about possible productions. I predict lots of applications to the Arts council to make TV shows in the near future. I predict a supportive network for minority TV. I predict also that some minority TV shows will get picked up by what we now call the mainstream. The 'mainstream' broadcasters will find that current easy-to-watch bubble gum TV might be discarded in favour of very niche shows that individual viewers have heard about. The mainstream will be wanting to go niche too.
This isn't a fully worked up article, it's a stream of consciousness that I'm hoping to turn into an article soon. Am interested in any feedback from anyone on this.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
The fact that the podcast has come to an end is not down to me. There are policy reasons, good policy reasons, ones probably a bit too dull to get into, as to why we were only granted a 'trial' in the first instance. I can't really say any more than that, sorry. I'm not meant to use my personal blog for work purposes and I don't intend to start now.
All I can do is hand it over to you. I'm aware that an online petition has started - nothing to do with me - so if you want to show your support please stop emailing me at home and go and speak to the petition people.
Despite taking the flack, can I just say that it's actually really nice to know that for the last six months we've been doing something right, something really popular.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Saw Memoirs of a Geisha on DVD today. It's one of those classic occasions where, of course, the book was much better than the film. The book is complex and about emotions as well as an amazing insight into the customs of the geisha, the film is really just a toe in the water ... but I understand it's visually fascinating which I miss out on being unvisioned as I am (trying to dodge cliches and make up my own PC terms today. OK, blind).
We're about to watch Derailed. I have no idea what it's about. But Derailed, and also Geisha, have audio description on them - hence they figured high on our choosing list. The Memoirs of a Geisha DVD confused us though because, instead of having the phrase 'audio description' on the box like every good logical DVD supplied should do ... they used the term 'audio commentary'. we almost didn't bother hiring it from Blockbuster until the fella behind the counter said we could bring it back if it didn't have AD. It did. Oh and BTW, the DVD playe player in the store was broken else we'd have got him to check it out.
Other notable interesting things of the week ... I got a webcam, so did my mum and dad. So, since Thursday, we've had a visual connection on the web. Must be nice for them to see their son; their son who hasn't bothered popping down to see them since Christmas.
Lastly ... got a good response about my insomnia post, innit. Nice one. Maybe others would be interested in this subject and maybe it's more of a disability thing than just a blind thing? Perhaps we should delve into it on Ouch. Thanks for being my testing ground - utterly unintentional though. Guess it is quite interesting.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
But no. I am an insomniac. Or rather, I have sleep difficulties generally, even when not going thru a major coffee blitz. God I hate reading people's blogs when they start talking about this kind of thing, it's so damn dull. So, let me just furnish you with the stuff that interests me:
1: I'm blind. You need light to help set your internal body clock. I don't get it, hence I have a rampant body clock.
2: I read somewhere once that blind people are more likely to have a 30-hour body clock, not a 24-hour one.
3: Therapies exist involving melatonin
Firstly, I rather like the idea that I don't have a regular boring old standard 24-hour body clock. I run in a different timezone to everyone else. I think it's quite cool to not click in with the rest of society in this way.
Downside is that having a 30-hour body clock, if that's what I've got, means my sleeping is all over the place. Social pressures mean I have to conform to this 24-hour malarky that everyone else is so set on ... which further confuses my innards.
Melatonin is the chemical produced when in light, I think? I think it's what's missing from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) peple too. Does this mean I have constant Seasonal Affective Disorder because it's 'forever autumn' or 'forever mid winter' in my head? Is it this winter effect I'm feeling in my lower moments?
But mum says my body clock was shagged even before I lost my sight. So, whaddya say to that? Either a) my mum hates me and is just trying to piss me off by breaking my new unified theory of the world, or, b) she's right and I'm making up excuses.
Typical effing cripple aren't I.
But if anyone asks, I'll be saying "I have a 30-hour body clock" cos it sounds cooler. Now just have to wait for someone to ask me that most unlikely of questions "Damon, do you run on a regular 24-hour internal body clock, or what?"
Monday, September 18, 2006
Bought an exercise cycle recently. Broke it yesterday. At least it shows I'm using it though and it hasn't become a coathanger. Bloody pedal fell off. Scared of trying to fix it now. Took long enough to put together out of the box from Argos in the first place. Kristina can do it.
Back to the caffeine.
It's like I can't throw enough coffee down the back of my throat at the moment. It's like, if I weren't such a good boy, I'd be onto the harder stuff by now. I feel I need it at the moment. Lots of little things swimming around in my head, lots of bitty things at work - coffee is the glue, coffee keeps me sane and going.
I wrote a column on Friday. Have since binned that column. It was utter crap. I can only imagine I didn't drink enough coffee that day and my colleagues didn't leave their desks enough, saying: "I'm going downstairs. Is there anything anyone wants from the canteen or wherever?"
I was quite impressed that I sank two coffees before 10am today.
Coffee = life glue. It keeps you together. It hardens your arteries, supposedly, but god it's the stuff of life.
Have lost interest in alcohol lately. Anyone know why?
Saturday, September 16, 2006
I hate smarties. There's an unsatisfyingly small amount of chocolate in them, there's too much sugar coating, they're shiny, they stick in your teeth, they're too sweet, they make me go sugar ballistic afterwards, they're the epitimy of shite ... even though the current media spin from them is about 'new healthier Smarties with all natural colourings' where blue Smarties had to die because they couldn't find a natural alternative for blue.
Party cakes with Smarties on must die, though. And exactly who likes Iced Gems? I cannot, for the life of me, work out what is in the least bit tasty or attractive about tiny weeny biscuits with big dollops of dry 'orid icing on them. They truly are abhorrent. Colourfully mouth-hurtingly sugary-sculpturingly abhorrent.
Looking forward to seeing the return of Jamie Oliver's School Dinners this Monday, Channel 4, 9pm.
Friday, September 15, 2006
bad environment story
If I read them at work, I get the distinct feeling that everyone is looking at me and blaming me for the melting of the polar ice caps.
OK. I've got a dishwasher. But this fella from Thames Water on LBC a few weeks ago said that, actually, if you've got a modern dishwasher, and you fill it full, it uses less water than manually washing your dishes in the kitchen sink.
I'm getting my environmental messages mixed up because, although it's part and parcel of the massive '4 years or you're fucked' environmental disaster we're all about to face e, the lack of water is down to global warming because of people using their dishwashers, flying to New York from London and leaving their computers on all the time so they can just dip in and consult google at a second's notice.
I'm sitting here at work after having spent half the day, on and off, trying to write my latest column which went a bit haywire but I think I'm taming it now. It's gone 7pm though and my cab firm has let me down badly. I should be enjoying my time off now, shouldn't I?
I've got tickets to see The Flaming Lips and you haven't so ner.
Tried to get tickets to see The Killers when they went on sale today but sadly the Ticketmaster website is inaccessible due to those captcha graphic things - type what you see in this graphic". I've got a good mind to sue the fuckers because, during ticket rushes, their websites are just inaccessible to some disabled people: blind or with motor function or cognitive stuff, as the time limits they put in place are clearly not achievable for many peple.
Is it going too far to say I'd like to see the head of Ticketmaster on a pole with blood and brain tissue flowing out of the bottom of it? Proffit greedy fucker.
I believe I now have to write 'these views are not those of the BBC' on my blog due to recent new workplace rules. No. Can't imagine Director General Mark Thompson standing up and endorsing the bit about brain tissue ... certainly good to clarify this though, I'm sure all readers were wondering if I were speaking for the organisation here.
Bless em though, I appreciate the basic idea behind the blog edict and they do pay my mortgage ... x x x
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Bargain, kidz. Check out Travel Supermarket. The best cheapest 'scraper' website, as they call them.I got a ticket to New York for 170 quid, which includes all airport taxes etc. There's been a price war going on between Continental and Delta, it seems, or so Money Saving Expert told me at the end of last week. Great website! If you're in the UK, go there, sign up to its newsletter, tell all your friends.
Am I warped?
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Lets run through it then:
* smashed head very hard on door on the way out in a bad act of malcoordination when bending down to pick up my mobile phone I dropped while rushing to get out of the house. Really hurt. Big glancing blow leaving me with a small bruise that somehow doesn't justify the pain and later effects.
* Had to take Liam to the vet to have his second in a series of tests to see what's up with him - liver we suspect. (liam = guide dog)
* At work, my computer failed to even boot up. I can't just move across to any other computer cos I have screenreader and Braille display hooked up to mine ... so sat there for almost two and a half hours while IT got their act together.
* Kristina called. She was on her way home in a cab. She'd stood on an object in the middle of her office floor and damaged her twice-broken ankle. A big twist. She was taking work home so she could 'put her foot up' while tapping on her laptop.
* At 2:15 or thereabouts I got a cab home so I could at least work on my home computer.
By this time I was feeling worse though. That bang on the head had rocked me quite a lot. So by about 5:30 I found myself lying on the sofa feeling really quite woozy and sick with it all. Mentioned it to my dad later who talked about concussion. Surely not? I think it probably just triggered off a migraine. I get those. Dreadful.
So there you go. That was my trivial 9/11 - well trivial, that is, if I haven't sustained long-term brain damage as a result of that bang.
I fear I've lost a fair bit of data on my work computer as it seems my hard disk died. At least I can attribute this to 9/11
And just one more thing to rub the ./11-ness of yesterday in ...
Kristina's sister gave birth to her secondborn, who, as yet, has no name. Actually she gave birth on September 10. Steph was really quite pleased about this because her firstborn (Isobel) celebrates her birthday on July 7 ... would've been a bit rough if her new little brother was a 9/11 baby. The terror twins? Bad omen averted.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Just got back off a rather nice week in Italy. Stayed at Kristina's parents converted farmhouse in th the middle of very rural Le Marche, in Italy ... about an hour's drive from Ancona airport.
Ancona is served by the dreaded RyanAir; an airline that disabled people shudder at when they hear its name. In the end though, we didn't ask for assistance (deliberately so as not to make ourselves known to them) and busked our way through the airport. We had no real problems. Stansted is a small airport with only one real direction you can go in ... thankfully.
Anyhoo. Very relaxing. Very very relaxing.
I note that it's 9/11 today. Five years on since that dreaded day in New York. 14 months since that day in July, London. 2 and a half years on since Madrid. And just a month since the unfolding 'bomb plot' for which people are still being charged bit by bit by the Met Police.
It was the dying days of the BBC's Disability Programmes Unit on Sep 11, 2001. We were all sitting round desperately trying to think up ideas for programmes with a disability theme that might get a commission by Jane Root - then controller of BBC TWO. Sadly she rather thought of us as the Work experience Unit, didn't like what we were doing, didn't like our new zeitgeisty ideas, and no commissions soon translated into no unit.
I was meeting with Ally Scott when plane number one hit the towers in Yew York. Nancy, then Asst Producer, shouted across that a plane had hit the tower. We were interested but assumed it was a low level accident; think the reports were saying it was a light aircraft at the time.
Then a few minutes later Nancy shouted across that a plane had hit the second tower. We stopped our meeting and rushed to the TV set.
Not knowing much about these things, I remember vaguely thinking that maybe the air traffic control computers had gone a bit wild and directed the planes incorrectly. Other more cynical sorts had already predicted the end of the world. I was confused because I'd been to New York a year earlier and, on my visit to the Empire State Building, had learnt about an aircraft crash into its side in the 1940s, and knew that no aircraft were allowed to fly over Manhattan since that day 60 years earlier. so I was a little confused at why this had happened at all.
Everyone on the ground floor of the BBC's White City building - including everyone in the Watchdog studio/office which was just down the corridor, were glued. No one was working. Sorry licence fee payers.
As the scenes unfolded, I remember sitting there in a state of terror. I know in hindsight that London wasn't effected, nor anywhere else in the world, but at the time our skies were being locked down too, all sorts of security measures were taking place, Government was said to be having an emergency meeting, and we were all wondering what the hell was going to happen next.
Was this just part of a localised attack on New York? Or was this a wider attack on the western world? News reporters were frantic. Little titbits were getting on air about missing aircraft all over the US and UK ... missing aircraft meant 'potential disaster'. Could London Docklands get the next hit? I thought the fabric of the world was falling to pieces for a few hours.
At around 4 or 5pm London time, we all began to realise that it was probably all over.
Just a few brief memories.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Government has issued a warm weather warning. Do they usually? Is this new? Like Coke Zero? Is it a good thing or is it simply patronising? Um, the warning not the new bloke Coke brand. If I hadn't heard the warning I would still have stayed out of the direct sun and taken a bottle of water on the tube with me.
Since the last time I blogged I have been to Athens for a conference on Disability and Mass Media. It was interesting. Without sounding patronising they are a little behind where we are in the UK. It was hot there too by the way.
Went to see Avenue Q a couple of weeks ago. It's a musical at the Noel Coward Theatre off Leicester Square. An adult version of Sesame Street, it has songs in it such as The Internet is for porn and Everyone's a little bit racist. You can see the first song on the youtube site if you do the right searches. If you have watched Sesame Street, loved it or hated it, you'll like this. It features humans and puppets on stage: Kate Monster, Christmas Eve, Rod, Nicky, Trekkie Monster, Princeton, Lucy and others. I recommend it. Go. Concession ticket was about a tenner. We have friends who are going back a second time.
So, should I get up and get ready and go into work early in the cool early morning breeze before the heat of the day? Or should I slob around a bit first. I think maybe I'll do the erly thing.
I hope everyone reading this has listened to the latest Ouch Podcast? It's the best yet.
Friday, June 16, 2006
Crap. Dunno what to say about stuff at the moment. Crap. Just crap. It's all crap.
Something big has happened at work that I am not going to go into for the sake of others, privacy, etc. It's just too big. But I'm gonna talk about the D-word. Disability. That word Jeremy Beadle said he didn't like on our podcast. And this week I'm agreeing with him. It's shit. It's a horrible label, it warps what and who you are (because it's such a loaded word, even though it shouldn't be - revisionists unite, etc).
But when something big happens, when you or someone you know has a setback, something that seriously affects their life and lifestyle, well there's nothing good about it, nothing to celebrate, nothing interesting, nothing but hard hard knocks, too much to think about, a mindfuck challenge of extraordinary portions (yes I said 'challenge' cos sometimes it's applicable and not meant patronisingly) ... life can just be fucking hard when medical matters catch up with you and there's NOTHING YOU CAN DO about it.
The D word thing. What can I say.
Yes it's spawned an interesting and worthwhile sub culture and counter culture. No denying it's important and good. But lets not lose sight of why it was spawned in the first place ... not because we love having things wrong with our bodies ... but because, when we eventually get our heads round our lives, know who we are, and feel we want to strike out and hit the world ... it's then that we seek strengths, we want pride, we want dignity, we want respect and equality. But getting to that point isn't something you can achieve with ease, it's not something that all people can understand because events are just too damn harsh and life limiting oftentimes, it's a road not to be sneered at or sniffed at. But with time, support, perspective ... things move on. They do. I've been there several times. And you don't recognise you're moving forward until you look back five years later.
When I became blind ... my erly memories are of shame. I was ashamed of who I was. I was only 13 but I didn't want anyone to see the new me. Thinking back 22 years to that point in my history, I feel anger mostly. Anger that I allowed myself to feel that way and anger that I had no counselling to give me an alternative view. But I did meet others at the time who were blind and stronger than me. I found it astonishingly enlightening ... and it was only then that doors started to slowly creak open. In the meantime ... small comforts.
And talking of such, I'm going to make a cup of tea.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Basically we have a situation where quite a few London cinemas have AD capability but don't bother ensuring that they put a described movie in the screen that has the technology.
So, my local cinema is Finchley Road VUE at the O2 Centre.
Here's how VUE are doing this week:
Acton: Mission Impossible 3 all week.
Croydon, Grants - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Croydon, Purley Way - Mission Impossible 3 all week.
Finchley Road - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Fulham - Ice Age 2 all week
Harrow - Mission Impossible 3 all week.
Islington - Ice Age 2 all week.
North Finchely - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Shepherd's Bush - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Staines - Mission Impossible 3 all week
Thurrock - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Watford - Mission Impossible 3 all week
West End - Scary Movie 4 sun/tues only.
There seems to be a little bit of a pick-up this week. And look, their flagship cinema West End are showing something this week! Hurrah. Is Scary Movie 4 any good? That's the one most likely to get me visiting the cinema out of the above choice of MI3, Ice Age 2 and Scary Movie 4 in London.
If you look outside of London you discover that many cinemas show 2 different AD movies per week. And that there seems to be a greater choice around the UK.
And you'll have seen that Finchley Road, my most conveniently close cinema, is again showing nothing with AD.
Is it a case of going to Blockbuster again? The latest DVD releases with AD on that look most promising, are: The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Producers (2005), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Dr Who series 1 box set is also available but still haven't made my mind up about it and prefer David Tennant to Chris Ecclestone.
Check out VUE's AD and subtitled movie schedule for yourself.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
He openly admits to having hacked into the computer systems of the US forces including NASA. He did so over the course of 2 years from 2000 to 2002.
Today British courts have said that the US are free to extradite him.
What fascinates me is that he says he was looking for evidence of extra terrestrial space craft knowledge. Read: Hacker fears 'UFO cover-up' (BBC News). What's more, he found the evidence. Read the article. He also found evidence of suppressed technologies; i.e. that US scientists had backwards engineered technology found in capture alien spacecraft and worked out how, for instance, to create FREE energy (from matter) and antigravity.
But there are some rather big holes in what he says. He claims he kept no documents or pictures. Really? I know that I would have done.
That said, I really don't want to see him go to prison and his hacking exploits have helped the US Forces patch up security black holes.
Monday, May 08, 2006
The idea that it's fairer goes rather out of the window when you discover you have to gamble 5 quid to win up to a million. But more than that, you have to choose to play five lines all the same in order to win a million.
Each week there are two draws.
Draw 1 could win you up to 100,000 pounds.
Draw 2 could win you up to 200,000 pounds.
You can choose to play 5 lines, each line goes to a different charity. So that means you can pick and choose who you donate to this week - the charities are different each week with 70 in circulation (Born Free Foundation, RNID, Shelter and two that I've forgotten this week)
So if you play a pound for each charity (5 x 1 pound = 5 pounds) and then choose the same numbers in each of those 5 lines then in draw 2 you could win 5 x 200,0000 = 1 million quid.
There are lesser prizes for 5, 4 and 3 just like the regular old Lottery.
If you don't win a penny though, you are put into the losers draw where you could win 500 quid a month for a year!
So, basically, if you spend one quid you could win up to 200,000 quid. No more than that. Interestingly though I did find myself wondering whether I wanted to play all five because they weren't my favourite charities. I can imagine other people picking and choosing how much they play based on the chosen charities in a given week. So being able to choose who you donate to in this way is kinda nice.
I'll tell you how I get on tomorrow. I know it's crap and yes I know it's a tax on the stupid.
Have you seen the story about the housemates for the Big Brother house which starts next Thursday 18 May? (a Thursday?, you can't have a BB party on a Thursday) Look at Digital Spy for the latest BB7 gossip.
So far I've not yet got it working. Has anyone else? I've only been playing with it today though so maybe it's been working before today and is having issues at the moment. Thus far I've tried Goldfish's and Fang's blogs. NO others.
Anyone? Is it just me?
[Update] I was able to hear the audio verification by right clicking on it, saving it to my desktop and then playing it. I don't know why it's not streaming for me. It is suggested in the documentation that quicktime works well for playing their wav but why not any other player? Seems a bit weird to me. Anyhow, a solution now exists for me even if it's a little time consuming ;)
In case you're not up to speed, or if you're American or something (same thing?), Britain had some rather big local council elections last Thursday. Tony Blair's Labour Party lost 300 seats, I think that translated into about 19 councils round the country in real terms.
On Friday morning, Blair presided over a big cabinet reshuffle. The beleaguered Charles Clarke went, the beleaguered Tony Prescot went and then oddly Jack Straw (now former Foreign Secretary, Condy's counterpart in the UK) lost his post too.
So, being as he hadn't apparently done anything wrong as per Clark (oops I let lots of foreign prisoners disappear off our radar, we forgot to deport them, they commited further crimes including rape) and John Two-Shags Prescott (I'm sinking to tabloid depths now) ... what led to his sacking?
Yesterday's Independent on Sunday carried the following:
Jack Straw's fate was sealed in a phone call from the White House to Tony Blair last month, according to the former foreign secretary's friends.
They say President George Bush was furious that Mr Straw said it was "nuts" to use nuclear weapons against Iran, an option reported to be under active consideration
Downing Street had already warned Mr Straw repeatedly to tone down his complete rejection of the military route as "inconceivable", insisting it was important
to keep all options on the table.
Read the article: The Washington connection: Did Bush stick the knife into Jack Straw?
So, Straw could've gone because of American politics? Because Bush still harbours a desire to attack Iran with real weapons. Killing weapons.
OK, so let me put a cool head on things for a sec, not too easy to do in the face of a potential muslim v christian war (I believe that's how it's seen on the world stage).
The game has set in. Clearly a war of rhetoric has started. You can plot the escalating language from the Americans. It's about seeking resolutions, it's about getting things done, it's about calling Iran's bluff if nothing else. The same happens in reverse with Iran putting their point of view. And, to me, in a world with an impending energy crisis, it makes complete sense that Iran would want to look into a nuclear energy solution. After all it's apparently what both Bush and Blair have seized upon as the best answer currently.
But Straw said it was 'nuts' to think we'd go to war. I personally agree with him. There's so much more at stake here. In our 'global village' we're seeing society break down with the post 9/11 cross cultural scism. And an anti-superpower anti-capitalism scism too. The effects are now very real and apparent.
But equally ... all options, I guess, should "appear to be" on the table right now. The language of diplomacy is actually quite facinating. It's the same language as media spin ... and we all saw how Blair subtly shifted his rhetoric on the approach to the 2003 Iraq war. Just the dropping of occasional words for instance.
Diplomacy and media spin have different goals though, clearly, even if there are similarities.
Hey, former Labour Party PR man Alistair Campbell said something interesting yesterday which puts the media attack on Blair into perspective. He said something like: "media will always be able to find people who are against the prime minister to fill air time'. And he's right. Media do create stories. It can give false impressions. Even if they do give an apparent balance in a piece headlined 'Labour Party on brink of civil war' - the seed is planted in the public consciousness. And that's all that's needed to bring satisfaction levels down, to make pollsters whoop with joy when the next results show a drop of 5% in support of the prime minister, etc. "I'm always facing my worst week ever" Blair said to the excellent Nick Robinson the week before last after the so-called Black Wednesday. It's just a headline. There's no great truth. But at least the media acts as a check and balance on the political system and its people. Where would we be without media?
God I'd be fascinated to be a fly on the wall of some cabinet meetings, wouldn't you?
Just how many of those apparently carefully thought out plans presented to the British public were thought up 10 minutes before they were announced in a press conference? Just how much are they driven by the desire, or need, to appease media and political commentators such as Richard Hitler Littlejohn ... spit spit spit.
Monthly press conference with Tony Blair at midday today. Meeting with his Mps this evening. A potentially interesting political day ahead but bound to end with little drama and I have no real doubt that the press machine will smother the 'Blair must go' momentum. Ministers and party people are practically throwing themselves at TV cameras, microphones and reporters today.
Just blogging, brainstorming into my computer. I'm off to watch Noam Chomsky's manufacturing consent now.
I had intended to spend lots of time this week writing. Remember that 'novel'?
Trouble is that on Friday afternoon at work the pain started. The G-word. Arthritic hell. My right arm started to really hurt. So I've stoppped myself from using the PC all weekend ... packed my arm in ice, took my sick-making drugs that keep me tied to the house for 2 days or more ... and I think I stopped it from becoming a massive attack. It's barely swolen but hurts.
I've stopped. But I'm really anxious that I now might not be able to write as I'd wanted to this week. I've been on the PC now for 20 minutes and keep checking to see if the pain is getting worse.
I've turned KISS off now and onto the far mor respectable tones of Today on Radio 4.
Gosh, Blunkett is on. Wait a sec. He's talking about the headlined 'pending labour party civil war' ... and that the leadership acknowledges the dismay felt by last week's local council election results. Interesting that he's been wheeled out as if he's a cabinet member ... he's no more than a back-bencher now. But he's a Blairite and an old stager.
Being a news junkie, and someone fascinated in the cut and thrhust of politics and the characters involved, I'm quite pleased I've got this week off because some real interesting politics could be starting to unfold this week. Tony Blair has a meeting with his MPs this evening where he'll be addressing the whole issue of his timetable to leave'.
Labour does need renewal, as Gordon Brown put it yesterday on Sunday AM. When I think back to 1992 and how Neil Kinnock lost that election. I was gutted. I signed up as a member of the Labour Party at the time. I was a member for about 3 or 4 years. Scarily my membership forms seemed to follow me round the country as I moved from house to house around that time. I have no idea how they did that. Even had knocks on the door about my membership! But anyway, I feel rather liberal through and through ... but beginning to realise more and more that you can't always just throw money at problems. Creativity and other structures need to be part of an overall solution, too. I hope that doesn't turn me into a Tory ... I do worry sometimes. They say you turn into a Tory as you get older ... I look at Tony Benn as my hero though, he's kept the faith, kind of.
God don't ya just love Rabbi Lionel Blue? He's a man who could give me faith. (he was just on Thought for the Day). Listen to him.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I'm extremely surprised, though rather delighted, to report that my local cinema is showing '16 Blocks' with Audio Description from tomorrow.
What's going on? Have they been reading my blog? I barely even got into the stride of slagging them off! :)
Well, great, I'll be off to see it some time in the next seven days. I've got next week off work so I may even go alone while girlfriend toils in office.
I had mentioned in my last cinemawatch posting that I quite wanted to see 16 Blocks. Uh-oh, wait a second. On further inspection it's only on for a very limited period though. Why? Sun 16.40 Tues 19.10 . That's not all that good is it when you take into account the fact 8 out of every 10 films now receive the AD treatment. Where are the rest? Anyway, mustn't look a gift horse in the mouth must I. BE MORE GRATEFUL DAMON.
I'm gonna try a little experiment now ... ssshhhh ... hey I'd really like to see that Wal-Mart movie, or Enron or Davinci Code soon?
Lets have a look at other cinemas in London this week:
Acton - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week. In other words: "we've got the equipment we just can't be arsed to switch it on"
Croydon, Grants - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Croydon, Purley Way - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Dagenham - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Fulham - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Harrow - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Islington - 16 Blocks. Sun 15.50 Tues 18.10 (just two performances, so at least I've got the choice between 16 Blocks and 16 Blocks this week in the north part of town)
North Finchley: Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Shepherd's Bush - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Staines - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Thurrock - 16 Blocks. Sun 14.10 Tues 19.10
Watford - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
West End - 16 Blocks. Sun 15.10 Tues 20.50. Why just twice? Why?
Jesus VUE ... wha'ts going on? This is appalling. All the above cinemas hav the equipment but have chosen not to show an AD film this week. And they complain no visually impaired people come along? That's cos you don't show anything! The above is London alone, metropolitan cool cinema-going London.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Here is the page I look at. It details audio described what and subtitled movies are available at VUE in the UK.
If you followed the link today, you'd see what it says against Finchley Road VUE cinema:
"Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week."
I think they had a kids film on the week before last but most weeks of late I've seen the above apology.
* Approx 8 out of 10 films have audio description.
* Usually only one screen per cinema has the AD technology installed.
* This week VUE are showing films that definitely come with an AD disk ... but they're choosing to show them in the screens that don't have the AD technology that broadcasts to the headphones of visually impaired people in the audience.
Cinemas are kicking up that visually impaired people just aren't turning up. It's not surprising when they either show really crappy family oriented PG films every week in the AD screen (lowest common denominator and thus usually the most visual and less rewarding even if described) or don't show any at all.
How about showing 16 blocks? I'd quite like to see that.
Q: Hey Damon, what about traveling somewhere else in London, another VUE cinema perhaps?
Great idea! Only if you check the page you'll see that VUE have pulled the same stunt in most of their London cinemas this week.
Fulham - sorry no audio description
Shepherd's Bush - the website says they're showing CRAZY with AD ... but apparently Crazy doesn't actually have an Audio Description disk! Is the ice cream seller shouting out the missing narrative, then?
West End - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Islington - Sun 17.30 Tue 19.30 ... two opportunities in the week to go and see it. Why isn't there AD on all the time? Unlike subtitles you don't need special screenings because it's delivered via headphones and no one else is interupted. Maybe they've gone and mistaken AD for subtitles again? They do it regularly apparently.
Acton - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Croydon, Grants - Ice Age 2 is on Sun 13.55 Tues 18.05 ... just the two showings of a family animation? Is this real info or, as discussed, are they mixing it up with subtitles again? It's hard to tell.
Croydon, Purley Way - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Croydon is a bit out of London anyway ... but perhaps I'd have been willing to travel if they were showing a really good film? NO chance buster.
Dagenham - bit out of town but ya know maybe I could make it for a great film: Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Harrow - middlesex but only half an hour by taxi ... they're showing Ice Age 2 just the once on Sunday at 14.30
North Finchley - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Reading - Maybe a trip via train but Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Staines - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Thurrock - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
Watford - Sorry, no audio description or subtitled screenings this week.
FOR CHRIST SAKE'S VUE CINEMAS! This is London. It was a Bank Holiday weekend. What on Earth was going on?
Looking at the choice of films showing around the rest of the country it was a bit pityful compared to the amount of films that have AD disks available.
Something is going very very wrong with the way this happens. There is no cohesive system. No one is thinking about AD customers in a logical way.
More next week in Cinema Watch week #2
Monday, May 01, 2006
I thought I'd look for a definition via Google. You know how you tap in a word and it becomes highlighted meaning there is a definition if you click it? Disablism and ablism don't have definitions yet. But I guess that's why we're blogging about it.
Like racism and sexism and homophobia, disablism describes prejudice against disabled people. But the interesting thing about prejudice to this group (of which I'm one) is that oftentimes disablism is mistaken for kindness.
"I didn't give her the job because she's disabled and it'd be a strain on her geting into work every day." -- employers have been heard to say this kind of thing despite the fact that a very employable disabled person has presented themselves for an interview wanting to get some independence and a better quality of life perhaps. The employer sees her as hassle and believes she must be mistaken and helps her by not giving her the job. It's kindness not to burden her with that kind of strain?
I spoke to a local radio phone-in producer a couple of years ago who told me that a man with a stutter had called in to make a point on air. She said that she didn't put him on air because people listening might laugh or make fun of him and maybe he didn't realise. She thought she was being nice but she stopped him from being part of a public debate in a democratic country. She asked me if she'd done the right thing expecting that I'd say yes. The answer is: "well he called up, didn't he?" She was a bit embarrassed by him because she didn't have to deal with stuttering or differences daily.
I find this dangerous. Kate talks about it really well today in her BADD blog entry on her pages Everyone Else Has A Blog go and read it!
I struggle with disablism sometimes though. I'm not 100% sure how to define it ... plus still keep my mental health in so doing. Some things you have to let go. Maybe you shouldn't but you do.
I really wanted to work something in here about lack of access to books for visually impaired people. But is that disablism? Lack of a human right that could easily be solved because the technology is here and has been for some time now. Is it disablist that government recently refused to fund a pilot project that would make books accessible to the UK's 3.5 million print disabled? This is also about access to education too.
Maybe that's just politics though. A long hard battle to fight. Yet another. It's certainly someone else disabling me though and not allowing the easily-grabbable solution to happen.
I had a bit of a revelation a few years ago. Some people talk weirdly to me because they are confused about the eye contact I'm not giving them. They shout to be heard because I don't appear to be engaging in the way they're used to even though I may be listening intently with my eye footprints landing a few milimetres to the right
of where they're used to.
Not knowing that blind people can be anything more than piano tuners. Not knowing the oh-too-commonly used phrases bound to piss disabled people off. Not really understanding why parking in a disabled parking bay can mean no food this weekend at the supermarket. Can these basic little issues be down to the fact that we're in a disablist society? Whose media doesn't reflect disability experiences? Or, again, are these just things, stuff that happens, what's expected if you're in a minority group. And what can be done about this? The answer, of course, is that disabled people become more proactive. This blogging event is an example of how we can be more proactive.
Rambling a bit today but I'm gonna drag it all back to where I started. It's subconscious disablism that is most dangerous. Thoughtless 'not my problem' disablism which might be a small moment in time for the person disabling you but the rest of your life if you are the person being disabled. And it can certainly wear your self esteem away.
In 1995, 8 months before the DDA came in, I was arrested outside a nightclub by two police officers. The bouncers hadn't let me in because "you don't have a carer and we can't be expected to look after you". I was rightly pissed off. I stood outside the doors for two hours taking customers aside and telling them what the bouncers had done and urging them to reconsider going into the nightclub. I should add that I regularly attended other clubs - I was 24 after all.
Lots of people didn't want to talk to me. That was fine. A bit heartbreaking but fine. I was chuffed about the ones who said they would never go back.
But at 1am I was arrested "to prevent a breach of the peace". They agreed I hadn't breached the peace but were worried I might contribute towards something or or other. I was upset that my right to protest against the establishment that had just barred me for disablist reasons had been taken away from me. I was later enfuriated to learn that the police officers had arrested me to protect me. It was a double hit of disablism. I wept openly on the streets. I felt my life wasn't mine and control was not in my hands when the police bundled me into their van. It made me take to my bed for a week. It all happened at a time when I had applied for approx 50 jobs after leaving university and not got anything.
I quite like the word 'disablism'. It's a good solid word isn't it. I hate the phrase 'social model'. IT sounds like an essay. I think we should hurl out the social model v medical model term and just think of things as disablist or not disablist. It's far more understandable linguistically ... and it might catch on. Plus you wouldn't take someone to court for being "too medical model" would you? Doesn't disablism embody all these ideas?
Friday, April 28, 2006
What will I write about? The glass ceiling? The drip drip drip of little comments that serve to wear away at you and display a lack of appreciation/respect? Badly designed gizmos that visually impaired people can't use? I'll see.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out Blogging Against Disablism Day and get ready to write about it on May 1. Spread the word and all hail the Goldfish.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
So, being as I've spoken about it loads, I'm going to post the first couple of hundred words in the first chapter of my 'novel' (note the apostrophes). It's from the chapter one that I worked up in my writing class about 6 weeks ago. Here it is.
SHE'S WATCHING HIM
Qualified teachers do not run video stores, people who hate films do not run video stores. Most importantly, blind people do not run video stores. In fact, blind people don't run any kind of shop, do they?
Mark Kent had fucked up. If he didn't take a grip on his life soon he was going to end up a lonely unfulfilled sad blind man in an old people's home. He imagined himself in the corner not even being able to take part in the afternoon fun that was tea, ginger biscuits and a nice game of charades. He was thirty-one, after all. That meant his life was almost set in stone, didn't it? And do thirty-one year olds still wear jeans and rock band T-shirts? He wasn't sure.
He hated his job. He had no social life to speak of. He lived with an idiot and, when it came to love, well he hadn't had a date in years and by his own admission was getting a little desperate.
Mark's Mum regularly liked to remind him that he hadn't had a girlfriend since that nice Justine. "When was that again, Mark? Five years ago?" she'd say down the phone. "You of all people need children so that they can look after you in later life, you know."
His Mum was nuts but everyone else seemed to get what they wanted so easily and right now, this Wednesday morning, this wet, cold, and presumably grey day - the day after the night before - was weighing down on him. Even if It looked a nice crisp blue to those who could see it, it was overwhelmingly overcast in his head, and probably flecked with blood too.
His white cane swooshed a few broken bottles into the gutter as he tapped his way down the high road to the shop. Then, ouch, he managed to once again walk into the orning in front of the bakery 3 doors down. Some mornings he judged the angle perfectly and missed it - cool way to go Mark, confident looking bloke who can't see. Today, a foot off course, it poked him directly in the right eye - pathetic, loser, needy, embarrassment, stick him in care for his own safety for goodness sake.
I dunno though, I think I might be a bit dull. I want to know more about Japanese culture, Chinese politics, the impending world energy crisis, the environment, how big corporations are screwing us all, etc. Can anyone lift the lid on a good website or blog? Or many? Or anything you think I'd be interested in besides? Obviously it goes without saying that all bloggers who have previously posted here all have fantastic blogs ;)
C'mon, amaze me. I want websites that I'll keep going back to for more.
[update] Just read this entry back. Have I turned into a student or something?
Saturday, April 15, 2006
This week's busy-ness is down to recording the next podcast (slightly early cos Mat Fraser is zooming off to the states on Monday) and also Tiger Woods didn't help.
It was a weird week, my Assistant Producer was away on annual leave and suddenly the heavens broke. I was working ridiculously long hours - wednesday I worked 5am til 10pm.
Tiger Woods. I have to say I don't particularly care that he said spaz though I am minded of the whole little acts of degradation debate that Ragged Edge are having at the moment.
I posted an article late Tuesday morning soon after the news broke. Within 3 hours we were receiving approx 1 email per minute about it. WE must've had hundreds now in the past few days. The vast majority were from non-disabled people all keen to a: rubbish us for mentioning it and B: point out that spaz isn't a disability related word in America "it just means idiot" wrote one person. "it describes someone who is a klutz, lacking balance, undignified, clumsy and uncoordeinated" wrote another (I paraphrased that last quote).
Isn't this the whole point though? Do I need to say more?
Clearly language changes though. Idiot in Britain was, if I recall correctly, far more offensive 200 years ago ... referring very specifically to people locked away for being mad? We now use it in a friendly way. It has no real sting. But then I spoke to some Americans who were offended by it. We're aware a journalist got Tiger to repeat his phrase replacing the word 'spaz' with 'wreck' ... so what does that say? It must've been very quickly understood that it was offensive, no?
The hundreds of emails we received were from the "political correctness gone mad" brigade. The tone was unpleasant. Particular kudos to the person who wrote calling us cunts ... and the other person who cleverly said that Ouch was more of an offensive word to him. Brilliant.
It's all been an intersting debate though ... but maybe I'm finding it interesting for the wrong reasons. I'm fascinated by the human response to what I wrote.
On Wednesday I wrote a very balanced and fair article which summed up the situation to me.
Amazing response. Yet more emails. I'm told almost half a million people read that article in its first 24-hours of being live on the news site. Certainly Ouch's hits quadrupled too.
I'm told we made Popbitch and B3ta websites and newsletters too. And also the Drudge Report???? (I've yet to find reference to it on that site though, if anyone could help that'd be appreciated).
Course, with a name next to it, the emails got that bit more personal towrds me. But above many things I've written recently, I'm really quite pleased with that BBC News article. I hope it places the whole language thing in a context, of sorts.
As a journalist you want response so I was very pleased. I'm aware people probably clicked and read it more because they were surprised to see the word 'spaz' on a BBC news website. Oh and many more uses of the word spaz to be heard on Radio 4's You and Yours programme this Monday when they review the Ouch Podcast. Incidentally presenter John Waite loveds the podcast.
Have lots of other things to say. Very impressed by the whole Blogging Against Disablism idea that Goldfish has come up with.
Talking of blogs, Ouch's own weblog is about to get updated. At the moment it's a little bit of an unsatisfactory user experience as you have to wait hours if not days (if it's a weekend) before your comments go live. Well, we'll soon have a 24-hour moderation system in place which means it can be a truer live'er blog. And we really hope that disabled bloggers will be keen to post that bit more because we love having those links back to your personal blogs ... it'd be great to grow that disabled blogging community some more and intertwine and cross reference it all that little bit more. We all know there are lots of experiences from disabled people that just aren't shared ... never see the light of day ... the blogging community could be a powerful source, a powerful POLITICAL source of growth, pressure and appreciation around disability matters and our lifestyles. I've tried to arrange protests before and there is a real issue with getting disabled people physically into one place at the same time for so many reasons. Cost is another reason. Doing things adhoc in real life non-webspace is an issue. SO hail to the Goldfish and congrats for that mention in The Guardian.
Saturday, April 01, 2006
We really need publicity for it so, bloggers out there reading this, could you link to it from your weblog? Pretty please? And then get your mates to link to it from their weblogs or websites too, please? We need to convince people that it's worth continuing with ... and it's a great bit of razor sharp disability humour that we can point at and say "look, it can work, you don't need to be scared. Disdability is cool!". I think programme makers would like to do more on disability, would like to be innovative, but need examples of things working.
Tell your mates about it. Tell people who aren't your mates about it. Tell journalists you know.
It's called 'The Ouch Podcast'. It's presented by actor Mat Fraser and comedian Liz Carr. They're fantastic.
If you've got iTunes, cut and paste the following line into the bit that says 'add a podcast':
...this'll make sure it's forever on your list of podcasts and you get the latest one delivered to your iPod as soon as it goes live on the web.
But, of course, you don't need an iPod. You can listen to it on your computer like other audio stuff, radio stations etc. Or you could download it, burn it to a CD if ya like, or put it on any MP3 player not necessarily those iPod thingies. That word 'podcast' confuses a lot of people and I guess it's not surprising ;)
If you're gonna link to it on your page and want to help it raise to the top of Google and other search engines, then can you help us by following these instructions:
Use the following words as the linked words: 'BBC Ouch Disability Podcast'
So, highlight all those words and make them one big link to our podcast page http://www.bbc.co.uk/ouch/podcast/
If you want to know why I'm asking you to do this specifically, drop me an email and I'd be happy to tell you about the cunning trickery that is 'Search Engine Optimization'. Mail me too if you have other ideas on how we can promote it. Newsletters, whatever. We want this to be a 'word of mouth' success, something the disability community can own and be part of. Doesn't matter where you are in the world, all this will help.
Add it to your favourite sites on your blog if you like ... and/or write a blog entry linking to us and talking a weeny bit about us. We'll love you forever!
Does this sound like begging? Anything you can do is fabulous.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Was really pleased with the outcome. Everyone had really positive comments about it and - after sharing what the rest of the story was going to be about - it got a larf. Have to say wasn't quite expecting that reaction ;)
(Katie A2 read no further if you've not read the chapter yet cos you're not allowed to hear my thoughts)
Currently I dislike the main character. I think he's duuuullllll. One dimensional. I also dislike the job I've given him. Stuff is missing. Oddly I quite like the female character I've invented though ... in as much as there's more meat on her bones, more of a character and a personality.
But ... I told this to the class and they urged me not to change it. So, dunno what to do here. My instinct is to change the main character.
But chapter one is chapter one. It's a little condensed at the moment and I'm sure I'll take bits from it and play some of them in the rest of the novel. The condensed nature was an anxiety for a couple of the students on class, wasting some ideas that could be developed more. I keep saying "if I ever write this". I've been told by several parties now that I have to.
I've got my timeline. check.
I've got my interweaving plot idea. check.
Some of the incidents en route to the main ending are a bit not there. not check.
God, can't believe this weblog entry is in the least bit fathomable or interesting to anyone bar me. Don't humour me.
On other news ... signed up the presenters on Ouch's forthcoming podcast. It's gonna be a blast! Can't wait. Katie F, sorry it's not Mik.
Off to Amsterdam on Thursday! Wahey yip yo.
Friday, March 03, 2006
I have some issues with it. As Katie 2 on the last entry said, it'll be nothing like the final version. I had a time limit and by the time I had written 2,000 words I'd already substantially painted myself into a corner in terms of setting, motivation etc.
Course, not entirely sure I'll ever write this book. It was chapter one, yes, but more 'a chapter one' than 'the chapter one'.
With more time to think and research, I would probably have gone for something a little less like a fractured love story and possibly written something a little futuristic. Near future though, proper progressive today work, not very alien aliens.
Had a bit of a crap couple of days. Kind of want to lay in bed all weekend with duvet wrapped round me. Duvets protect you from everything don't ya know.
Oh ... I had about 1 minute to think up what the novel might be called ... in that time limit I called it 'She's watching him'.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
I have my notes in front of me. I've been here since 11:30, give or take trips to the fridge (Diet Coke #3 on the go right now).
I haven't actualy started writing. I've written yet more notes though. And also, standing in the kitchen earlier I had a revelation that has altered the story, or changed it back to an earlier idea that I had discarded.
I can't seem to ve in. I've even written a plan for Chapter One (that's what's gotta be in by Friday) I know what I need to do to get from A to B (B being where I want to be at the end of the chapter, what I want the readers to know by that stage) but I can't write.
Weirdly writing this blog entry has helped with my flow ... so far from being a procrastinatary sidetrack that I'd first imagined, it has actually helped a bit.
Off I go back to the novel.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
It's just this big sprawly big fat novel thing it's so daunting. My dissertation at university was around 100,000 words, it's doable. Admittedly that was a textual analysis of UK radio phone-ins and whether or not they are a democratic forum.
Screw all that for a bit though. I just had some oats. Aren't oats fantastic? Raw oats with a drop of milk and a sprinkling of fake sugar (Nothing Comes Closer To Sugar - Silver Spoon, the best sugar substitute out there). Got about 1 stone to lose To get down to my ideal weight now. Everyone says I don't need to lose it but they're wrong. Wrong idiots. Don't worry this is not a food disorder emerging.
Where was I? Slouched a lot yesterday. Am now kidding self that I need to do nothing and just relax in order to cure current bout of insomnia that is waking me up at 3am and all the antisocialness that it then brings about when I'm knackered by 11am and absolutely must sleep by 5pm for a bit.
In the novel writing class this Monday we will all be commenting on the first chapter of 4 of the students. They sent them out by email on Friday. I've not yet red them. Am gonna pour over these shortly, once I've got a cup of tea.
Goldfish I think you're probably right with the two person perspective thing but I worry that this is the best way forward for my novel. If I submit chapter one and it's only from one person's perspective and doesn't give the basic idea (you'd need to read two chapters to understand the two main characters) ... it's not what I'd be wanting to put across. I realise chapter one isn't going to be anything like my final chapter one but, ya know, it's a pride thing. I know I can write well and want to display it a bit to best effect.
Third person would be the next best ... but ... I dunno.
I'm always a last minute person. I like to mull things over so that every last idea is thought through. So that the environment that I live in, the world, has the opportunity to drop in new things that could help me with the construction of my work. I do this with my columns on Ouch, used to do it with essays at university. Never understood those students who wrote their essay within a day of receiving instructions ... they would either hand it in straight away or sit on it and find themselves rewriting it. And This was in the days before students had lots of good access to computers and it was still ok to submit handwritten work. 1994 before you start making up how old I am. 1994 was also the year when we stopped using pit ponies in Britain ... bet you didn't know that? Just heard it on LBC.
Chapter one, then.
Needs to explain the background of the main character ... who, oddly enough, is a blind fella. Background isn't the right idea, more about motivation really ... to understand him well enough to then be able to write about him and have the reader understand why he might do or think things ... and also so that the reader starts to care about the character.
Why do I write this blog? To get my writing juices flowing. ON days when I don't write the blog I'll be writing something else, just to get things flowing. I had writers block last year and that wasn't good.
Apparently if you mix a bit of honey into some dry oats and, stick it in the oven and bake it for a short while ... they come out rather nice and crispy and delicious. I need to try this.
On another topics ...
Weirdly I've developed a bit of an intolerance to caffeine these past few weeks. But, to add to this, since Thursday I've noticed I've got a real problem with sugar too! I get a nasty head rush and headache shortly after consuming anything sugary. It happened on Thursday after eating a Kit Kat. I'd rather badly had only a muffin to eat all day and when I got home I had a 2 finger Kit Kat which sent me reeling. Same happened yesterday when I had a Kit Kat. Sugar is dreadful. If they invented it now it would be banned.
Friday, February 17, 2006
There will be a way through.
Trouble is I've not yet written a word. Not one. My previous joy (two posts ago) on how I've worked out the plot for my novel has now disintegrated, my confidence has dipped hugely in it. It sounds like a love story? Did I really want to write a love story? OK so it's a weird kind of love but I really don't want to have it turn into a piece of chick lit.
Let me say at this stage that there's nothing wrong with a good drop of chick lit, I read bits myself (Jane Green?). I read all sorts of things very deliberately. but I just hadn't envisaged myself writing something like that.
I guess there's no point angsting. Though the synopsis currently might read like a bit of a fractured romance, the actual piece shouldn't be quite so love oriented. It's about people. If I don't want it to be a romance, it won't turn into a romance, right?
I'm looking at this so entirely in the abstract at the moment. I have a synopsis, I have a plot line-through, I've planned out some elements of the plot in detail, I've worked out the peril and the actions and reactions ... so I'm being very structural right now. Next step: pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard.
Course, sitting here writing this blog entry I'm thinking: this desk is crap for writing at. I need a new desk. And also this keyboard is a bit worn, I need a new one. Can't possibly write anything until I've got a new desk and a new keyboard. Oh and possibly a new chair. FYI: I bought a new desk, new chair and new keyboard this time last year. I didn't like them pretty much as soon as I installed them; health and safety would go nuts. The desk is too high, means you hold yourself at a funny angle and - yes Gimpy - it means my elbow is almost constantly rubbing up against the edge of said desk causing that constant pressure that can bring on arthritis attacks. Gout if you like. Won't mention gout but it's now a writing issue. Fucking gout, who the hell else gets gout. It's a kidney problem, that's what causes it in case you aren't aware. Crap. Why do I have to suddenly get a kidney problem.
Anyhoo ... 2 weeks left. I need to start. Where do I start. How do I introduce the character? What's the style?
I'm thinking seriously about doing that fashionable thing of one chapter written from one perspective, and another written from another. But I really don't know. Do I do it third person? Third person restricted or third person omnipitant? I'm thinking maybe third person ... but perhaps two x first person. I am also trying to work out what other themes should be in there, what the characters like to do when they're not engaging with plot pursual as such. God I'm talking so abstract ... I don't even really think in these terms it's just I don't know how else to express it simply on this blog.
And the other question is ... why am I writing a blog entry when I could be writing the novel? Novel. Damon's novel. Feels odd saying that. Bit wanky. Why should Damon have a novel? Why does he deserve a novel attached to his name? Weird. Feels odd. Sad aspirationalism or something. Like I'll ever finish a novel and it'll be any good.
I still haven't learnt how to pace a plot / novel. Just any thoughts on that would be useful right now. Not necessarily direction, or instruction, more just hearing what people have got to say about it. Other peoples' experiences.
This keyboard is sticky and clunky and needs replacing. Anyone else get through keyboards as quickly as I do? Approx one every 9 months. I'm a touch typist, I use it a lot but don't hammer it.
Going. Way too early. My insomnia is making me wake at 3:30am this week. I'm sleeping again between 6pm and 7pm and then having a proper sleep at 10:30pm.