Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sex, Canada Customs and home care support workers

We have a household crisis: Vibrators, or rather the lack of enough vibrators. My disability has altered the delicate balance of horny, sex and satisfaction. For instance, I have the most energy in the morning but Linda is at work (and since she works for the government, phone sex is frowned on). By the time she gets home I am flagging. And we still haven’t worked out the “am I moaning in pleasure or having heart palpitations?” issues. We thought of semaphore (signaling my pain/pleasure with flags) but it seemed a bit cumbersome. Also, giving oral sex while using an oxygen feed is.....challenging. But we’ll figure it out. Until then, well, we still have sexual needs. But that’s why God made the Garden of Eden (yes, the internet shoppe, what did you think I was talking about?).

But now, with the Canadian dollar almost at par, it seems a crime to buy vibrators in Canada when we can get the same or better for half the price in the US; especially when I have a US Post Office Box. While I am very “pro-sexual” for women, I have noticed that many, many customs officers are not. Did you know that Canada Customs officers are STILL the enforcers of what sexual is allowed into Canada? And this is entirely up to the mind of the individual officer. Did you know they have even seized cookbooks going to lesbian stores? The important question was: how exactly do we smuggle in these vibrators when we pick them up on a day trip? No, I know what you’re thinking but that only works in the fantasy land of erotic film. And as cool as I am about saying “Hi, I’m Beth, and I masturbate” (and have to several priests and church pastors), the thought of having four customs officers debate the duty while arguing if vibrators are “home electronics”, “medical supplies” or “home entertainment” (or “industrial tools”?) isn’t really a happy thought.

Plus I keep getting this vision of a stern faced officer, “Have you anything to declare?”

I pull out my vibrator.

“That’s obscene!” they say.

I say, “I know it looks big but actually once you relax...”

They cut me off saying, “No, I mean this falls under obscenity and pornography and am confiscating this....this....”

“Waterproof Dolphin” I finish.

At this point the nightmare sort of gets muddy as the thought of losing my vibrator so close to home traumatizes me. I am not sure if listing how this is a SPECIAL one that has to be bought from New York because it is not only waterproof, vibrates, rotates and undulates but also comes in nifty purple would actually help my cause. That’s the nice nightmare; the bad one is where all the customs officers are my Victorian Values matron aunts.

However, the amount of time I spend eyeing vegetables indicates this is urgent business. Also back to practical function, masturbation is the best way to greet the day because a) it is when I have my greatest motor control and b) This isn’t something I am comfortable asking the home care workers to ‘give me a hand’ (they come in afternoon and night to assist me to “do things I am having trouble with”). That being said, I am still unsure exactly what home care support is supposed to do. I used to think it was to help me eat, prepare food, help me get dressed, stuff like that. Yet on Monday, the home care worker spent most of her time going through my Victoria Secret catalogues and talking about bras. It is not that I don’t mind a little fantasy shopping bonding, but is the government subsidizing my care to find out that my care worker likes the maroon support and push up bras and doesn’t like low cut panties while I like the t-shirt and Pink line bras and multi-colour leopard skin panties?

This is not all we did, we also compared our breast sizes and I tried to explain to the worker (I’ll call her Ivy) who came from Vietnam that Linda wasn’t just a nice person who dropped by. Ivy, who slept in the same room with her mother until 29 and is used to females sleeping in the same room was confused. She also has a minimal grasp of English.

Ivy: "You are so lucky to have a friend who comes over and make a sandwich for you."

I tried to tell her, Linda doesn't come over, Linda lives with me.

"You sisters?" Ivy asked. No.

"So you are like sisters?" No.

"So you are friends, that nice." No, more than friends.

"You special friends?" Ivy asked. Yes.

She said, "I know, I know, this man I know he like living with another man, I ask him all the time, "why you not move out and get married" and he say he like living with man."

I am still wondering if she really "gets" it or just thinks that some people just really like being with their friend more than getting married. But I can't bring myself to tell her, "We have sex" (making strange hand gestures) - so I think, oh close enough!

Okay, one government audit of Elizabeth’s use of home care coming up.

P.S. – if you want to mule vibrators across the Canadian border, please let me know.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Playing wheelchair tennis in the summer sun

I played a little wheelchair tennis today. There are three courts a few blocks from where I live and I try to go every week to play. The guys there are pretty good (no females spotted yet) and give me the corner court. It sure is different playing in a wheelchair, mostly with the angle of return (hit hard and it goes in the net) and serving. But it must be good exercise because every time I go I come home exhausted.

The first time I played I lost 5 games to 0. Playing doubles with Linda we lost 5 to 3. But with the practice I’m getting better and last time I played Linda I still lost but only 3 games to 5. And today Linda and won in doubles 6-1. Linda has told people at work that she likes playing me now that I’m in a wheelchair a lot more. I think this is because I took it in college so she probably felt like I was playing down to her while now she is the one who has to have good control of the ball. I hope it isn’t just because she’s winning more.

We go in the evenings when it isn’t too warm. I like being able to do something where I am on my own side of the net and Linda and I are meeting equally, no one is helping me, I play and win or lose on my own. I’ve made a short music video of some of clips from today’s game to give you an idea, also to show that it is fun (less so when they hit it way over your head but still). See, now there's another reason to come visit. You could play me in tennis (or if you insist, just send the $2,000 so I can get a cambered tennis wheelchair, whichever).

Friday, July 27, 2007

How Marie made nihilism sexy for me and other nice stuff

Just a Friday amusement until I can get my post on boxing and how great getting hit repeatedly in the face by bright pink gloves can be (by a girl wearing French nails no less). I am still doing lots of medical meetings and tests with specialists. The only thing specialists are ever sure about is that you are going to be doing a LOT more tests (usually accompanied with “hmm”) And you begin to feel like you are down the rabbit hole. For instance, after two doctors concluded that my thyroid was not a problem, an internist did not believe them (other doctors, bah!) and did a full spectrum of tests and concluded himself, that yes, the results show my thyroid is not a problem. But now, the endocrinologist has looked at the SAME test results and concluded the thyroid IS a problem so we are doing ALL the tests over again at a different lab. But even if the tests come out exactly the same, the endocrinologist doesn’t actually know or have an idea what is wrong, but that something is wrong, so (you guessed it), more tests. And I do stuff like this twice a day.

How do I keep sane you ask? I have been watching the same two videos for the last week. The first is Marie-douceur, Marie-colère the French version of Paint it Black by the legendary singer Marie LaForet which I find actually better than the original. But then I like undulating female voices whispering the sounds of excited nihilism in my ear. It goes to a video of MGS4; a sort of Black Hawk Down II (is it violent...oh yes!).

The second way I keep going is my religious inspiration which of course is a) completely self referencing and b) completely offensive to most Christians (hey, that’s what they say, not me). So I have been listening to the song God is a Girl by Groove Coverage. Hello, of course God is a girl! But apparently this is so controversial that most of the people posting videos using the tune put “Of course I don’t believe this” in the notes box. Geez, God is caring, has empathy and produced the whole human race – FEMALE! Anyway, I watch the version with Sora from anime Keleido Star. Sora is the type of girl who thrives on people saying “that’s not possible” and spending lots of time practicing, pushing herself and trying her hardest – she doesn’t give up. Like Linda said about me tonight at boxing, what was the word she used? Insane? No. Psychotic? No. Driven. That might have been it, or ‘Determined’ or ‘Did you realize your right arm was trembling the whole night?’ One or more of those.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I lack faith for a miracle and the rest of my day

I know previously people have disbelieved my stories about Mr. Ho, my epee coach. Things like how “You so stupid!” was a favorite phrase (translated: I want you to do something else). Yesterday, he saw me in the wheelchair for the second time. The first time his wife had told me “Don’t listen to anything he says.” Okay!

This time he looks at me and says, “Why don’t you get up and walk!?” Followed by, “Are you lazy?” and “You don’t want to sit in a wheelchair all your life do you?”

Wow, and I thought only villains in Dicken’s novels actually were so insensitive. Actually, thinking about it later, I realized that Mr. Ho was treading the path of Jesus and Paul with his more verbally abusive version of “Rise and walk.” However, since Mr. Ho’s higher power is….Mr. Ho. I did not receive a miraculous transformation. Perhaps my faith is weak.

Other strange events in the last 18 hours:

*While on oxygen and unable to talk, a woman coming to the wheelchair, laying her hands on my head and praying out loud.

*Being told that “You need to believe in miracles, You need to believe you will get well.” (Why do no Christians understand how depressing it is when you put those sentences together?)

*Being told that the solution to my medical problems is to…see a psychic (for only $50).

*Being told: “It’s probably a ‘gland’ thing.”

*Having a guy tell me that most guys would rather be hit in the groin than wear a cup (the guy installing my wheelchair bars explaining to me why guys in epee fencing don’t wear cups) – also said that some guys can get kicked/hit in the groin and not react for several hours. I didn’t tell him that made me want to do some experimenting (Ad in paper: “Males needed for impact test, $20”)

*A woman I’ve talked a few times tell me: “I’ve been thinking a lot about disabled people lately. You know, like how people with Down Syndrome just bring out the good in you…” (I cut her off before we got down to my cosmic purpose).

*A different guy telling me about “The Gun Store” in Las Vegas where you can shoot machine guns because “you probably need something like that about now” (Oddly later I asked Linda if we could go on vacation to Las Vegas – from the review site: “Ever feel the need to shoot automatic and semi-automatic weapons after a long night of debauchery while in Las Vegas?... I fired the fully auto M16 and fully auto AK-47 and that was a crapton of fun.")

*Being told (again) by an EMT, “You have no pulse.” (us disabled vampires get that a LOT)

*After six EMT’s come, two male ones recognize me and ask if they can play with my swords while the others are checking me out. They go and hit the ping pong ball a few times. (yes, seriously!)

*With the EMT (ambulance/911) being called even though I indicated strongly they not be called, my least favorite EMT guy, “Mr. Goatee” arrived. While Mr. Sensitive is taking my history and trying to make sure I call “anytime I don’t feel well”, Mr Goatee comes over and says, “If the doctor’s tests are coming back negative, maybe you should take another look at yourself….” (as in “Stop calling us you hypochondriac attention seeking hysterical female”) When I point out that my tests aren’t negative (B12 at PA levels, elevated adrenal function, borderline potassium) he dismisses it. I ask: What does he think it could be? Answer: Fibromyalgia (translation: male assuming a “borderline female thing” which most males don’t believe actual exists).

Well, that’s it, I’m off for two more medical appointments tomorrow. I just have two questions: why is it when six EMT guys show up at your apartment, in five to ten minutes it starts to resemble a “kegger?” and do you know any guys who want to earn $20?

Monday, July 23, 2007

The girl, the gang & the wheelchair: Devotees, Pretenders, Wannabes

The wonderful/icky aspect of humanity is that we can seem to be sexually turned on by just about anything. Invent something and five years later there is a fetish group on yahoo dedicated to it. I bet right now someone is stroking their computer mouse in ecstasy. It wasn’t until I was a wheelchair that I became aware of DPW’s: Devotees of wheelchair users (usually female users), Pretenders (people who pretend to have a mobility impairment for sexual/attention and/or other reasons) and Wannabe’s (people who want to be permanently mobility impaired).

I was planning to do an objective survey about this for some time but every time I have tried I tend to get mentally and physically ill. So, this isn’t going to be objective for a few reasons:

1) One of the ways I found out about DPW’s was finding links to my youtube videos and/or blog photos on sites I couldn’t access.

2) The subject matter is one which I am living through. My mobility is an ongoing issue with high emotional costs. Reading someone having a life fantasy to “replicate” my mobility state while being perfectly healthy brings out strong emotions. Reading about someone enjoying my mobility impairment brings out stronger ones.

3) The methods of some Devotees are very similar to those I used to fight in the UK regarding exploiting naked pictures of young children including: the requirements of sending in x number of pictures to get into a “Sharing” club, taking photos and videos of females in wheelchairs without consent, sharing photos and video and selling them without a person’s knowledge or consent.

Am I saying “Devotee’s are pedophiles.” No. What I am saying is when I come across a “closed” site which says, “to become a member send one movie, which shows a female para with naked feet” and earlier in the week I find that some of the people subscribed to my films also are subscribed to films of women in wheelchairs taken “secretly” I begin to wonder what the hell is going on.

I guess that is the first question: what is going on? What is the focus of the interest in these women? When I look at the blog Wheelchair ladies in movies there are common themes: very traditional looking women and a sexual description of wasted legs: “She gets off when he spanks her lifeless legs.”; “Her atropied little legs are of no use. Raven drags her crippled legs into the car and is on the move.” Linda believes that this is an extension of the view of women who are innocent, helpless, and vulnerable and I agree. Recently I have been approached by several people who come across as “devotees” including some who follow me quite some distance before approaching with a “can I push you?” and ending usually with them giving me their number to call them. A site called Devotee central, which gained 24 members in just the last week, features a photo which clearly makes the wasted legs the most sexual aspect of this woman (indeed, her breasts, hips or other traditional erotic markers are not visable, even in outline). I am sure some good feminist crit could jump in now and tell you why some devotees love the “flaccid useless foot” and others the wasted leg of women in wheelchairs. Since I am watching the atrophy of my own legs, the growing inability to feel and move them in significant ways along with the very, very likely prospect that I will not “get better”; that doctors haven’t talked about recovery in a long time, it is with some horror that my physical degeneration and emotional trauma is getting someone’s dick hard.

You see, when the villain in Seven makes someone waste away, he is a monster. When a woman does it...it’s erotic?

Of course there aren’t too many links to my boxing videos because while there are guys who like being dominated by strong women and guys who like weak, helpless or sexualized women in wheelchairs there aren’t many guys who like strong women beating four types of pain out of heavy bag from a wheelchair. Guess I’m not the right “image” yet, lucky me. My PT said that when one of the children she fits with wheelchairs was a bit actor in some films her picture kept showing up on “sites we needed to get it removed from.” I guess children in a wheelchair are more vulnerable and exciting than just plain old children for some.

See, right now, writing this post, I want to just reach through the internet screen and grab someone and say “I am not a toy, I am not a masturbation fantasy, stop dehumanizing me for your pleasure.” I know that guys with tall fetishes would come up to me a lot, usually with “I saw you.....” Okay, I dealt with that. Yet being secretly filmed or watched during moments of my greatest vulnerability like a chair to pool transfer seems vastly different. Obscene.

I read some wannabe stories, as much as I could. Reading what has been the most difficult, painful and traumatic change in my life being somewhere between an erotic and a wish fulfillment makes me feel nausea, feel angry, feel tired. I wish I could somehow depict my life enough to make these people choke. Wake up! I don’t get attention, I don’t get extra love. Instead, what I want is the assurance I will not shit myself and my bed over the next month. Want me to keep you updated? A pay-per-view blog on my bowel control?

There are some, you know, pay-per-view sites of para’s with sexy wasted leg pictures in various poses. Like Candisland at $29.95 (or $65 for three months) with updated pictures/videos of her crawling up the stairs or transferring into bed and other such erotic events (I wish I was kidding). I guess the idea of pimping my disability as sort of exploitive deconstruction seems interesting, but not until my emotional scabbing heals over. Of course now I am thinking, “Damn, how much money could I have made on those corset shots?” (That was a joke, a sick joke).

I guess the other burr in my paw is that these people are pretty ignorant of the type of people who use wheelchairs. If a woman moves her foot they assume “Pretender” while I assume “Muscular Dystrophy” or “MS.” The fantasies, the pretend, the erotic all tends to assume paraplegics. Life is more complicated than that.

Perhaps the double shock is because for all intents and purposes I have no sexual or erotic currency as a functioning woman. I have asked straight guys how they view women in wheelchairs and it is basically, “Too complicated, look for something as good looking but upright.” Can you have sex? How hard is it? These questions bring all too much complication when on babe alert apparently. So after complaining about the guys attracted to me as tall/strong women for so long, now I started to miss them. I have 20 year old’s calling me sweetheart in the way you talk to a girl who has lost her balloon. Yeah, all those years of getting the doctorate are really paiding off. So now, ho ho, someone is interested in me, only it turns out they like the wheelchair more and talk to me as long as I stay within the bounds of innocent, vulnerable, etc (I scared one off permanently by whipping out the oxygen). Who would have thought I would miss the “good ole days” of some guy staring at my breasts?

Ask me some other time, some other year and maybe I’ll be philosophical about it, or maybe I’ll be selling photos and videos on a CD for home viewing. At one point I felt that at least wannabe’s and pretends have SOME idea of what being in a chair is like. Now I feel that until that squat, inefficient, expensive piece of metal sits in the middle of your conscious, dictating every decision from where you go to eat, to vacation, how you get places, what places you can get, everything, then you don’t know. As usual, I take it all in my mature fashion: I fantasize about getting strong enough to find the next person who puts up my picture on a “site,” slide out of chair and beat them with the wheelchair itself. Eroticize that!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The 8 things meme....at last.

I have been tagged by Zephyr, Ruth and Kate Olson to do the 8 random things.


1. Let others know who tagged you.
2. Players start with 8 random facts about themselves.
3. Those who are tagged should post these rules and their 8 random facts.
4. Players should tag 8 other people and notify them they have been tagged.

1) When I was 10 or 11 I won a screaming contest (on who could scream the loudest), they actually didn’t let me finish, but as most of the hundred+ adults present were sticking finger in their ears the presenter ran up shouting, “You win, you win!” to make me stop. Who in their right mind would come up with a contest of screaming children?

2) Though all of high school and my first college degree I used an Underwood #5 from the 1920’s. For some reason I thought writing stories on an Underwood and sending off letters for submission with it made me appear more “literary.” (as opposed to “fruitcake”). Since it had no correction ribbon my submissions were littered with white out and XXXXX over a misspelling. I honestly believed this gave unknown editors a BETTER impression of me.

3) At an Appalachian hills home without running water, I got accepted by outshooting all the ‘good ole boys’ with a .22 (they were, admittedly, drinking at the time). Guess all those summers at Christian survival training camp came in handy. They fed me and let me use the “hot tub” (giant metal mixing pot with wood fire under) resulting in the worst food poisoning I have ever had.

4) The last six months I have done eight different sports; six of them in a wheelchair; four of them I still do on a regular basis: Wheelchair boxing, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair jogging and disability sailing.

5) I have never smoked a cigarette, though I held one once while it burned down....just to be sociable.

6) My father used to read either a) the Bible or b) Homer's Iliad to us as little children to put us to sleep.

7) I like searching university library lists for things in storage and asking to borrow them. By nature, books in storage MUST be better than those on the shelf (which is how I found a collection of early 16th-17th century hymn books in the English Literature Library).

8) Linda and I have no bed and have slept on the floor on thermarest camping mattresses for the last 10 years.

I tag: Wiccachicky, GayProf, Sober, Daniel, Cooper, Kathz, Katja, belledame222, and KateJ when she decides to go back to blogging. Also God can answer if she choses.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Oscar Pistorius v. I.A.A.F: excluded for "purity" & "fairness"

The IAAF have introduced a rule to stop one man, Oscar Pistorius, from running the 400 meters on the basis that he has an unfair advantage over his competitors; he has no legs. Indeed one of the arguments against Oscar is that while other athletes have lactic acid build up in their legs, he doesn’t, because he doesn’t have any: unfair advantage. Strictly speaking he has no lower legs as they were both amputated below the knee at 11 months of age. What makes the IAAF rule such a open example of “not one of us” decision make by fear are the striking parallels it holds with the arguments which used to be made about black athletes, female athletes and those still made about transitioned athletes.

Oscar Pistorius runs on carbon fiber composite legs called Cheetah’s Flex-Foot by Ossur. Indeed every serious amputee athlete seems to use Flex-Foot including Aimee Mullins, who is shown wearing them in photos for the recent Sports Illustrated article naming her “supercrip.” The I.A.A.F. contend Flex-Foot prosthetics give Oscar the advantage. Indeed? Note that Aimee’s best 200 meters is 34.60 seconds while Florence Griffith-Joyner holds the world record of 21.34 seconds. Oscar began running four years ago and set world records in the 100, 200 and 400 Paralympic events. Three years ago he started running against able bodied athletes in his native South Africa. When Oscar started running against able bodied athletes no one had a problem, at least until March 2007 when he finished second for the 400 meters in the South Africa Championships. Suddenly Oscar’s comments about going to the Olympics, no not the Paralympics, the able bodied Olympics didn’t seem so farfetched. Not only does he want to go as a 400 meter runner but he might have already qualified to join the South African 4x400 Olympic team for 2008. Oscar’s fastest time is 46.56, Michael Johnson’s Olympic record is 43.18. When Oscar showed up on the podium the IAAF (and others) started saying that he must have some unfair advantage. Those years Oscar spent in training when he went to running meets and lost to able bodied athletes didn’t bother the IAAF at all. However less that two months after reaching second place in South Africa his use of prostethic legs was banned by the I.A.A.F.(for “fairness”).

Here are some of the complaints against Pistorius: The IAAF made the ruling because they “heard” that his strides were three to four meters or more due to the prosthetic legs (they are now recording his running to see if this is true), Leon Fleiser of the South African Olympic Committee says that the rule book states the foot must be in contact with the starting block and wonders if a prosthetic can be counted as “a foot.” Then there is the argument that if Pistorius is allowed and manages to win, athletes will start to chop off their legs in order to get better times. The I.A.A.F. also claims they may decide he is a danger to other athletes since he is unstable at start and could topple over injuring others. They suggest and worry if Pistorius is allowed it will “open the door” to any other assistive technologies or as the Director of Development for the I.A.A.F. put it; “Next will be another device where people can fly with something on their back.”

If Oscar Pistorius runs, concludes the director of development of the I.A.A.F. ““It affects the purity of sport.” The I.A.A.F. and others want him “back where he belongs, in the Paralympics.” This seems to be the essential argument and it is also the most familiar. While the rhetoric of society is that disabled people are equal, there is an obvious fear of even the possibility of a man with prosthetic legs lining up with able bodied men and winning. “bottom line is it is apples and oranges. The man is truly inspirational and my hat is off to him. I would love to see him compete against "normal" people but not in a competition of equals.” This fear of “loss of purity” seems the very same as the one which kept Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion from being able to challenge for the title: “Blacks could box whites in other arenas, but the heavyweight championship was such a respected and coveted position in America that blacks were not deemed worthy to compete for it.” Similar decisions kept blacks out of baseball until 1947. In the same way, women were excluded from running races longer than 200 meters in the Olympics until 1960. Debates on women with Marfan’s (a genetic disorder which tends to make tall women with risk of heart problems) were raised when the question of transitioned transsexual athletes was addressed. Woman with Marfan’s have a genetic advantage in some sports due to their height, should they be excluded? It was determined no, but ironically, in 2004 a new cardiovascular screening has been introduced to find and disqualify those with cardiac risk, citing Marfan’s specifically (which would now include Flo Hyman – a Hall of Fame Athlete).

But the argument of not including the “other” makes the strongest parallel with transitioned athletes who according to 2002 Olympic IOC rulings based on scientific panels have a protocol for accepting transitioned athletes. However, that tends to go out the window when the transitioned athlete starts to win. Michelle Dumaresq found that out when she took up the sport of downhill mountain bike racing in 2001 at the suggestion of female independent film makers. She entered, she won. Two wins later, Cycling BC suspended her license. After trying to get her to quit, she was given a professional license but protests against her continued. After her 2006 national win, the second place finisher, Danika Schroeter, wore a shirt reading '100% Pure Woman Champ.' (Danika was suspended, but the suspension was moved to off season when it would have no impact). Another transitioned athlete, Mianne Bagger, also faced complaints and suspicion of “unfair advantage” when she started as a pro golfer. Her appearance caused the LPGA to modify their rules to exclude her. With only one event to attend as a pro, the Australian open, eventually the Ladies European Tour allowed her to play as a professional. The complaints of “excessive testosterone strength” and other issues vanished when Mianne disappeared into the back of the LET circuit rankings. Though even now she has to put on the top of her home page her LET distance hitting ranking (163rd) which obviously is the “perceived advantage” opponents to her playing thought decisive. Like the numbers of Oscar and other amputees, there are tens to hundreds of thousands of transitioned individuals in the western world; but it only takes one or two examples of winning to bring up comments of "advantage."

Like transitioned athletes the question around Oscar remains, is he “one of us?” (A question that must immediately arise anyone uses the word “purity” as a reason for exclusion). No one really cared if plucky Oscar flailed around on the track showing his positive spirit and losing heroically. This after all is the role of disabled people in the West. But the realization that a) he is really trying his hardest to win and b) that he is starting to win has created some strong opposition. Dr. Ross Tucker from the University of Cape Town seems to have made it a life mission to have Oscar Pistorius excluded. He demands that the onus is on Oscar to “prove” he has no advantage. Dr. Tucker believes he has an advantage including decreasing his time by lengthening his stride but then hedges his bet to say “Just because his stride may be the same length, does not mean he does not have an advantage.” Errr…okay. Though Dr. Tucker lays out what he calls “the first and ONLY evaluation of all the evidence” concluding that Oscar has an advantage, two weeks before Dr. Tucker had his opinion grounded in “My gut feeling, based on a few observations and physiological principles, is that the limbs do give an advantage..” A “gut feeling” later followed by argument as “evidence” to convince others you are right does not make science; it does however make a very good “creationist theme park” in the US.

Besides the obvious head scratcher of how a piece of bendy carbon is better than the complex bioengineering that is the human leg; Oscar argues that a) the same type of prosthetics have been around for 14 years and b) where then are the other “advantaged” athletes. It hardly seems logical that the I.A.A.F. or others want to exclude Oscar from running because athletes will amputate their legs to get carbon Flex-Foot when by de facto logic, there are already many athlete with leg amputations who, according to the critics, should become superior runners to their able bodied competitors by simply buying Ossur Flex-Foot Cheetah’s. So where are they?

The decisions to try and stuff Oscar back into Paralympics where ‘he belongs’ is the act of cowardice. If there was a problem with the prosthetic, why not talk to the makers and put restrictions on the prosthetic instead of the athlete? Why pass a rule which will make it impossible for Oscar to qualify for the Olympics? Oscar is inspirational as an athlete NOT because he had his legs amputated but because as an athlete he is training and pushing to reach and race the highest mark he can. Because he is visibly different, this has become a political as well as an athletic conversation with decisions being made as much to stop anyone from imitating Oscar as from stopping Oscar from running in I.A.A.F. races. Winning is good but participating is better. The I.A.A.F. and others, in their fear have lost sight of the purpose of amateur sport which is the benefit of individuals and the community in participating in community sport. The I.A.A.F. in their zeal to make sure Oscar and other visably different althetes like him can’t win are stopping them from even participating. When the Paralympics is not longer an option for athletes but the place they “belong” and the only place they will be allowed to compete then the Paralympics is just a constructed ghetto no different than the old Negro Leagues of Baseball. And the I.A.A.F. or the South African Olympic committee, in their insistence of feet to touch the starting blocks, reveal a bigotry demeaning to the sport itself.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sad searches and the comment "Not all incest is bad"

I thought I had gotten used to the strange searches which bring people to my blog like “Victoria Ass Parade” or “hello kitty nude water fight” to “female masturbation pick up lines.” Come the weekend the real nuts come out to play as “nude boys” and “how to find child porn” somehow end up reading my blog.

Hey according to Mingle2 my blog gets an NC-17 movie rating simply Online Datingbecause recent posts have sex (12), porn (8), pain (6), death (5), sexy (4), penis (2) and knife (1). I say, “Hey what about ‘masturbation (39) and lesbian (127)’?”. I mean, I am shocked, shocked!

And I tolerate the fact that creepy sex people are visiting my site mostly because THEY don’t comment. At least until today when someone who googled “Need Incest” and ended up at blog entry: “Incest, child abuse and a need for heroes” decided to comment (anonymously) “Sorry folk, but not all incest is bad. I think it is worse to have a stupid parent that divorces your dad and makes you live in poverty than a father that wants to have sex with you. Not all incest is abuse.”

Not all incest is abuse? Because if your Dad doesn’t get sex with you (or your sibling), he may leave? Non consensual sex from a father to his child is the LESSER of two evils? Because “not all incest is bad.” This isn’t like wine, where a bit is good for you and too much is bad. It is incest. I don’t want a poll on here to see how many people think incest is bad because I will tell you: incest=bad. Okay, any further people looking for your incest needs; if you think incest is “okay” or “alright in some circumstances” go to a counselor. If you are the one committing incest and believe that; go to the police (or go to a counselor and then the police). It is not all right, it is not good, it is not healthy or happy. The choice of poverty or incest is one tens to hundreds of thousands of children and teens have made when they run away from home to GET AWAY FROM INCEST. I hope I have made myself clear.

Monday, July 09, 2007

BC, Canada: hosting 2010 Paralympic Games PLUS wheelchair outhouses

“Where can I find a wheelchair accessible outhouse?” Honestly, not a question I’ve thought much about. A question I hope virtually no one in North America has to think about. Yet, here I was, only a 40 minute ferry ride from Vancouver on the famous Sunshine Coast where sea front lots go for $800,000 (no house, just the lot) and a mere 50 yards away from a $2 million house (with plumbing!) at the Sargeant’s Bay Provincial Park when I rolled up to my first “Wheelchair/Disability Use outhouse.”

For those urbanites who may not be familiar with pit toilets/outhouses: Often in remote provincial/state parks where there is no plumbing you dig a big hole, you put a seat on top, you build a shack and you are ready to go. In the 19th/20th century this was replaced with indoor plumbing. When we recently visited the Sunshine Coast of BC we went to Sargeant’s Bay because it was listed at the “prettiest small bay on the coast” plus it listed a wheelchair accessible trail. We parked the car in the bumpy dirt parking lot, we assembled the wheelchair, transfer and start looking for the trail. That is when I saw the outhouse; and more important, the universal blue sign attached to it. “A wheelchair outhouse?” I, of course, have to see this (it might be more wheelchair accessible if they didn’t put a ring of rocks around it!). And it really is a wheelchair designed outhouse. There is a specially made wide door with a low handle and inside..... Inside there is the traditional seat with shit splatter around it, about six flies just under the rim and the cone of excrement about four feet beneath. Vile! But it also has space to park a wheelchair, and indoor trash can and wheelchair bars for transferring onto the outhouse seat and back.

I am familiar with outhouses because my grandfather had a rule when I was growing up. I used to come up to BC in the summer to help him cut wood for the winter for his house in the woods. The rule was: once you went outside to work, you couldn’t come back until tea-time. If you had to go, there was still the outhouse he built when he first built his house. Of course, to get there you first had to push through a lot of spiders. After one trip there, just the thought of it became an early life experience in “holding it in.”

Now I am I in a wheelchair, I have a simple rule: never pass by a wheelchair accessible toilet. Two days before this, during our travels, I let Linda know I had to go. It took three hours to find an accessible toilet. So, here I was, wheelchair outhouse in front of me. Did I go? Hell yes. Inside, eventually I just couldn’t hold my breath any longer and odd screeches and swear words came from inside the brown hut (good thing I actually carry some Toilet paper in my wheelchair backpack). I rolled out sputtering to Linda, “That is wrong, that is just so wrong!” Indeed, I think the phrase “Wheelchair outhouse” is by nature a “wrong” phrase. It should never exist (who cares about sliced bread; indoor plumbing is human’s greatest sign of civilization).

I have to admit that Sargeant’s Bay was a nice place, it was very pretty and windswept with that driftwood thing on the beach (not wheelchair accessible). However, every single person I met on the trail I kept saying, “Do you know there is a wheelchair outhouse back there?” Yes, I was in emotional shock. I was having Post Traumatic Outhouse Syndrome. This also tended to make people have very short conversations with me. Because they might talk about seeing a beaver dam nearby and I would just keep muttering, “A wheelchair outhouse?” I mean honestly, are these two things you put together in your mind? When you see someone in a wheelchair do you immediately think; “Gee, I wonder if they are able to have full access to outhouses?” I live in Canada which has no disability act like the USA so my bank has two stairs to get into it, I can’t get into a lot of stores including grocery stores, a bus can have a wheelchair ramp but the driver can choose not to pick me up because no one is going to sue the transit company because public transportation isn’t a right. So somewhere in there I missed the crying need for outhouses.

The wheelchair accessible trail was loose gravel with clumps of weeds to block the front casters; it was under the “theoretically possible” side since wheeling in loose gravel is like doing a breast stoke in a swimming pool of treacle. But I took it slow, met some dogs and a few people none of whom (besides me) were pondering the existence of a wheelchair outhouse. Now this isn’t just because I approach the outhouse with my face fairly close to the toilet seat instead of several feet away, but rather the implications behind its existence. As, without any laws, there is no requirement for wheelchair toilet needs to be available at provincial parks. Indeed we had visited many in the last few days with no wheelchair toilets OR outhouses at all. That meant someone (hopefully not the same someone planning the 2010 paralympic games in Vancouver) had to say, “Gee, at this little park we could have some sort of wheelchair toilet facility.....how about an outhouse?” Then a government employed engineer would have had to create the design, figuring out how much space inside, how wide the door should be, where to put the wheelchair bars for transferring and what material the outhouse should be made of in order for the bars to hold (and smooth concrete for the floor). Then all that would have to be commissioned for construction and inspected, all over a period of months to a year. I just have to wonder, with all that effort, couldn’t they have just brought in the water plumbing from 50 yards away? (If anyone from the government of BC is reading this I add a hearty “PLEASE!”)

Anyway, consider it a tourist attraction. Canadians don’t live in igloos anymore. No, here you can get your modern first world amenities, like drive through at Wendy’s or Pango Pizza and then come on down and see the wheelchair outhouse. Here in (the provincial motto coming up) British Columbia: the Best Place on Earth!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Getting angsty about blogging, plus a new use for peas

My week? This is my week. I go down to my local alternative video store to rent the Korean film Lady Vengeance (which should tell you where my mind was focused) when Rob, co-owner takes my $5 and gives me...no change. “Where is my change?”

“It’s the weekend.” He tells me (on the weekend recent foreign releases are $5, weekend at video stores start on Friday).

“It is not Friday.” I state with certainty.

“Uh, yes, it is.” Rob replies.

“No, I am pretty sure it isn’t Friday.”

The rest of staff assure me it is leaving me to return Lady Vengeance (hey I’m unemployed, so $2 rental or nothing) and feel very unsatisfied and somewhat disoriented. It’s not a confidence boost. The last few weeks I am trying to do whatever it is that is on the calendar for that day; a doctor’s appointment, a medical test, a scheduled activity (for some reason all the disability recreation organizations in this city only have activities from June to August). Between doing these things and recovering from doing these things, I have tended to lose track of stuff (time, space, logic, where I left my keys, etc). Many of the days I don’t have time to blog, some of the days I don’t have the energy.

Like Thursday (I am pretty sure it was Thursday) was a hot day. My “heat intolerance” now has a name, Uhthloff’s symptom, a condition where a small change in body temperature upward causes a worsening of symptoms. If the body returns to a cooler temperature, the symptoms will likely disappear (over minutes or hours). On Thursday, I set a new record as I went through two bottles of oxygen. My GP’s receptionist put me in an unventilated south facing room. When my GP arrived, I couldn’t breath. He opened the oxygen and tried to take my blood pressure, which failed twice (machines don’t like me when my heart is all a flutter). Remember what I said about people seeing the face eating alien inside. Well doctor’s don’t like it either, as he told me “There is a whole new layer of complexity in your symptoms, I am not comfortable with this” and ended telling me to come back in two weeks. He will make a decision between now and then if he will drop me as his patient (because “I cannot tell if you are getting comprehensive care and if you are not I don’t want to be on this case.” ????? When I asked if he dropped me as a patient, what would happen to me, he just smiled and said, “That’s a good question isn’t it?” – I see the doc has a psycho side!). I used up the rest of that oxygen tank when I waited for my Victoria Transit Bus which stopped to take on all the foot passengers at my stop before the driver told me he was “too full” to take me (though no strollers, walkers or wheelchairs were on board). Shutting the door on a person in a wheelchair with an oxygen breather on their face rather than spend 1 minute getting people to move back; that is the Olympic caliber callousness of a professional transit driver with all the caring beyond “when is my next break” squeezed out.

Anyway, I was pretty fucked up by the time I made it back to my apartment and air conditioning.

Back home I talked to the MS clinic at the hospital. This is because at the end of a day I lose fine motor skills. Sometimes, when I turn my hand to bring my fork to my mouth, it drops out of my hand. I sometimes miss my mouth. I drop things. When I get tired or it gets hot then the problem gets worse. Good thing July doesn’t have a lot of hot days.

The woman on the phone (let us call her Mary after one of the saints) asked me to explain the problems. Then she said, “I can hear you have difficulty speaking, there is a trick MS people use, which is to get a bag of frozen peas and put them on the back of your neck. Do you have a bag of peas?” I did and she waited while I applied them. This was, in over six months of doctors, specialist, hospital visits, medical assessments and testing the FIRST time anyone health associated had given me an actual useful suggestion – something I could DO to make things better. And yes, the peas helped me start to speak better. Soon Mary wanted to take on my doctor and the whole system to get me assessed and some home care. Wild. She must be a temp.

After I talked to her, the Red Cross people came by to deliver a sliding board and transfer belt. I need this because I am sometimes too weak to transfer using my own power. One time I got hurt as someone attempted to transfer me to the wheelchair pulling up on my arms. It turns out as the muscle control weakens that this is an excellent way to dislocate a shoulder. I told the Red Cross guys, “When someone panics, usually I’m the one who gets hurt.” One of them liked the phrase so much I think he is making a coffee mug with it on there.

Then the hospital called to tell me that I now had an appointment for a CAT scan on my head Monday night (all right, we’re going tumor hunting!). That was when I was supposed to do my boxing class. Suck! But now I was too tired to do anything but sleep.

I awoke after 6 pm and remembered that Boxing was on Thursday night too and if I had to miss it on Monday, I was going to take it today. This was more of an “I wanna do what I wanna do!” decision than anything else. My instructor Ian told me I was “crazy” to be there, as he would be resting somewhere if he was in my condition. That would have been more convincing if he didn’t have a purple bruise as large as his head covering his right hip (and teaching the class). So after the stretching and push-ups I rotated through the speed bag, the heavy weight, the boxing against the pads and other portions. Wow, was I was weak. I mean, in just two weeks I was much weaker. And with the heat in the gym, I needed to take some breaks and eventually continue with oxygen. P., the girl I was doing padded glove training with said she was cool with it as she had a roommate with similar problems. In fact the more we talked the more she said, “It sounds like you have what she had.” Was she still alive? I wanted to know. P grimanced, “Well sort of alive....on a lot of morphine.” And her diagnosis? She never got one.

At the end of the class we did the “Warm down” stretches and I was so tired that after sliding down from my chair to the mats, I didn’t have enough arm strength to move my legs, so I left them where they fell. Afterward the assistant coach said that I looked like I was putting more effort into the warm down than most people did the whole class (Linda said my facial expression was, “This is killing me but there is no way I am going to give up.”). I thought coaches and assistant coaches were supposed to INSPIRE you, not depress you.

Linda had to wheel me home as I was now officially somewhere between a muppet and a gumby doll. I could not keep my balance even to sit up, so my body jerked back and forth trying to stay upright. I tried five times to hit the elevator button but not getting close. My arms were twitching and I had to treat them like a gun with a bent barrel, just aim left of where you want the right arm to go and maybe you’ll get close. Later that night, I didn’t much sleep because even with a pain pill and a muscle relaxant I couldn’t sleep or drifted in and out of delirium, talking to Linda and the other three people in our bed (who it turned out the next morning weren’t really there!). So that’s my “average” day: Thursday.

See most days are just about doing stuff, getting by, recovering from stuff and watching the Weather Forecast (that whole getting hot getting worse thing). I get fatigued a lot; I get confused, it is hard to focus. With all that, can I have the luxury of the time and distance of doing light and amusing blogs? Because I know no ones wants to tune into the physical degeneration blog (and if there some sort of sexual fetish about it, leave me in ignorance). My problem is that not much is impersonal right now. While I care about private prison abuses, politics, and human rights I REALLY care about how I am going to get to the bathroom. I could be spending time on the computer finding funny videos but I instead try to watch things so I can stop thinking about “Do I have ALS/MND?” “Are there any other neuro conditions that I could have?” “What do I do when I can’t dress myself?” “Am I going to end up staring at my custom built manual wheelchair from a hospital bed set up in my room?”

But blogging about really personal stuff? When you need someone at times in order to eat or bathe, and you need someone to get places or back, and when you can’t control if you fall over or not and everyone you see regularly knows how to turn on your oxygen INCLUDING the people at the video rental store then what separation is there between your personal and your private life? I don’t know but I will keep blogging, I just may scatter around on days when I can’t see the funny.

Got a letter. It’s the government. They still want me to pay on my student loan.

Monday, July 02, 2007

US horror "torture porn" versus French (snuff), UK (creep) and Japanese horror

Some quick comments on horror films particularly as the BBC has stolen the thoughts out of my head and done a piece on US horror films called Torture Porn films. This is about the growing tendency in US films to have extensive torture scenes of beautiful females. I have often wondered why North Americans have to watch someone get hacked and slashed to call it a horror film. As anyone who has read Poe can attest, it is the horror of anticipation which is far more compelling than that of the actual.

I recently saw the French thriller/horror film Tzameti 13, about a 19-21 year old young French male from a poor family who takes a letter from a junkie whose roof he is fixing. The junkie has died but the young poor worker has overhead that the letter will bring great wealth. What it brings him instead in being trapped into a world of snuff gambling, of “players” and “betters” and bullets. Through his innocent eyes we see this world until it almost seems normal (when he arrives his “handler” doesn’t understand why he isn’t on morphine “it’s great, all the players take it, don’t you want some?”). I would NOT recommend watching this film before bedtime since unlike the slash and hack horror, it seeps into your head, until you are unsure whether you WANT the tension of holding a gun up to someone’s head, hoping to pull the trigger before they pull theirs. Like our hero, once we have chosen to start the film, we are in, and once in, we cannot go back; and you will watch until you begin to notice the anticipation in the betters, in the players, in the judges has become the same as your own. Trailer below.

While on this side of the Atlantic, the US film Hostel II with its prolonged torture scenes of three American girls is supposed to get you into the head of torturers. Well, I suppose if that is what you want. Myself, I have always found much in life horrific and not needed to look inside sadist torturers minds to find it. Besides my greatest turn-off for American Horror is that basically everyone is STUPID. That usually ranges from the killer to the people about to be chopped up. Now British horror like Creep or Descent tries to get you inside the head of both the “heroes” who are trying very hard to survive but also the villains, who often are more sympathic. For instance in Creep, you get to point where you are so understanding of the poor mistreated character you have to shake yourself and go: “Yes, but remember, caging and eating people isn’t the right way to work out that inner pain.”

I, of course, love Japanese horror. First because they seem 10 times as scary as American Horror but can do it by simply showing you a shot of a girl’s dripping feet. The Ring, which would be the Japanese film most American’s might have seen is a good example. The protagonist is trying very hard to save her child. She does research. She is desperate but working both physically and intellectually to reach out and avoid “Fate.” Another good one in this line is Premonition. But the one film I have told people to watch for years is Pulse also named Kairo (Avoid like death the american remake named Pulse which does to the film what US sometimes does to cuisine; remove all original ingredients and add ketchup: gag me!). I had Kairo about six years ago on DVD from Japan after it won two awards there. It is by far the creepiest film I have ever seen. I can watch about 20-30 minutes of it IN DAYLIGHT. It is not just the plot but the whole set, the way the characters interact, the distracted camera work which makes you feel that something really really bad is happening pretty much ALL THE TIME. When I was manager at a video store I gave it to a guy who only watched horror films. He have it back to me in a brown bag saying: “I don’t want to see the cover of that film, it freaked me out so bad, I couldn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t go near phones!” No chopping, no slashing. Try just watching the first minute of the trailer (by the way, “tasukete” is Japanese for “Help me!”) HERE

The director of Kairo/Pulse is Kiyoshi Kurosawa who has a very strange mind. Another of his early films from 1997 available now in the West is Cure (winner of 9 awards) as well as Séance (2000). Cure, which has a trailer below will really take you out there. Kurosawa seems to have a fascination with how humans operate in the extreme (another one of his films Charisma is about a bunch of people fighting over/guarding a single tree, with a policeman who has burned out walking by and getting sucked in). Cure among his other works are so horrific because they break many of what Desmond Morris would call the rules of The Human Animal. For instance humans are supposed to work up to acts of violence (shouting, then pushing, etc), and US horror films reflect this. To Kurosawa, silent acts of triggered violence are a back drop to his themes within the film. It is this inane fear of people acting in ways we don’t understand or things happening to us without warning that he taps into. No matter how much we might like a character…try not to get too attached. Trailer for the decade old crime thriller/horror The Cure below.

I made the mistake of watching a new anime series of which I knew NOTHING about called Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni which I thought was a mystery/school life anime where new guy moves to town and gets to know the girls in his small one room school. First episode was pretty slow and then…my God, did things turn creepy. Turns out that people in this small town kinda disappear. Particularly around an odd festival the town holds (no, no Wickerman knockoffs here). Simply watch the first four episodes (19-21 minutes a episode) at 1:00 am and see if you can do what I couldn’t...go to sleep. The first part of episode one is below and you only need to go to episode four to have a full story arc (the rest of the episode and the other 3 are found here)

Happy dreams!