Saturday, May 31, 2008

Five Alive: Janeane Garofalo's HBO Special


Whenever I'm at home during the mornings I sometimes watch the stand-up comedy hour on Comedy Central from 11 to noon. It's a nice way to get a good laugh during the day and it's a nice break after working over the previous 4 to 5 hours.

Last week I caught a Janeane Garofalo comedy special from 1997. It was interesting and I jotted a few notes down after it was done. Here are five of those points:

  1. What a difference 11 years makes with some items that are terribly dated. Case in point - quips on Jack Kemp and "who's your favorite Spice Girl?" (Janeane's answer: Sporty. I always had a small liking to Ginger).
  2. Still, some things aged rather well. The use of "Cannonball" as the show's intro song coincides well with The Breeders' return, and Jeneane still looks really nice as evidenced by the 2007 photo above.
  3. Her comedic anecdotes were solid, especially those that were non-political. For instance, she told about the time she saw a businessman getting hit by a taxi and, as painful as it sounded, I shared in her humor when retelling the incident and how even the cops laughed about it. Then again there were some stories she told that I unintentionally laughed at such as the concept of a holistic pet store.
  4. If excessive muffin eating means that you have an eating disorder (as she jokingly said) then I'm worse than your average bulemic.
  5. I can emphatize with her claim that telling someone that you like them is like "the kiss of death." (Mainly since that's happened to many a prospective relationship I've attempted). But being overly distant doesn't work either. Does it?
Oddly enough when the special was done and I was looking for paper to write on I couldn't find anything either big or clean enough. After rummaging through the trash I found a suitable writing surface in the form of an envelope that was used to send a free antacid sample. Mercifully, the paper did its job and I didn't need to pop any antacids after the show was done. It was a damn good special.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The disabled treaty and LatAm and the Caribbean

As a service to the public (so to speak) the following is a list of Latin American and Caribbean countries and what they have done regarding the "Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities". The source comes from this U.N. website and the list is written from least to most action taken by governments:

No action
Bahamas
Belize
Grenada
Haiti
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
United States of America
Venezuela

Signed convention only
Barbados
Colombia
Guyana
Uruguay

Signed convention & optional protocol
Antigua and Barbuda
Argentina
Bolivia
Brazil
Chile
Costa Rica
Dominican Republic
Guatemala
Paraguay

Ratified convention
Cuba
Honduras
Jamaica
Nicaragua

Ratified convention & protocol
Ecuador
El Salvador
Mexico
Panama
Peru

What observations can I draw from this? Here are five quick points:
  1. Just over one-quarter of states have yet to sign the convention. I expected a lower figure though I see that most of those countries are small and/or developing.
  2. Of that list of countries who haven't signed two stick out: the U.S. and Venezuela. From the get go it was obvious that the U.S. would not sign to the treaty despite participating during several Ad Hoc committee sessions. Venezuela does surprise me since they seemed to be active during Ad Hoc committee sessions and their government has placed such a strong emphasis on social services.
  3. The Colombian delegation was one of the most passive ones during the Ad Hoc committee sessions I attended. (I'll explain why another time; all that I will say for now is that I was not proud of their attention to distractions). Thus, imagine my shock when I find that they at least signed the convention.
  4. The five countries that ratified the convention & protocol where very active during the Ad Hoc committee meetings not only through their government representatives but also via NGOs.
  5. Fun facts: Jamaica was the first country to ratify the treaty in March 2007 while Ecuador's ratification last month allowed the treaty to go into effect.
Could more countries from the region ratify the treaty? I honestly don't know though that can certainly change in the upcoming months.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Speech time!

For the third straight year I will be going to an annual luncheon sponsored by the Physically Challenged Irish And American Youth Team in honor of a delegation of disabled children visiting from the emerald isle. Last year I was a nervous wreck preparing and then giving a short speech to give to the event’s attendees but it thankfully turned out very well:

In the end I got a standing ovation (from those who could stand, that is) and it was then that I was filled with pride in accomplishing both what I had been sent out to do as well as to overcome the mistakes I made in previous occasions.

This year I will probably be made to speak again. Honestly, I don’t mind having to talk in front of crowds big or small. My main preoccupation is with saying the right thing in the right way to the right crowd. In retrospect, I nailed the first two parts but I don’t think it resonated well with the kids.

Yet if I’m granted the opportunity to speak at next Tuesday’s affair I anticipate that I will have the kids’ attention. The topic for my speech will be on the late Henry Viscardi Jr. - a visionary who emphasized that disabled people deserve to be empowered in order to be functional members of society. I was lucky enough not only to graduate from the school that bares his name but to also have met him on several occasions. He was truly an inspiration and someone I have never forgotten.

In a small cabinet in my bedroom I have a copy of one of his books: Give Us the Tools. I believe it is in that book where he said:

"Life demands love. Loving means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all. Faith means believing the unbelievable, and to hope means hoping when things are hopeless."

I am ready for the luncheon.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Airiel

My hand was still bothering me today which is why I’m going to link to a video tonight. I think I’ll try icing my hand up tomorrow morning before it gets puffier and more painful. The last thing I want to do is visit my doctor; I’m thankful that have good health insurance yet I really need to play catch-up after pretty much taking last week off.

Airiel is a Chicago-based shoegazer outfit that I adore listening to. (I’ve previously professed my love for shoegazer music here). The following video is of them singing “Thinktank” at a ’07 gig in Lima, Peru. The clip is pretty damned loud and there are annoying strobe lights but I could listen to that music all day.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Puffy hands

Bloody hell, this poor blog has been way too abandoned!

Unfortunately this past week has been (surprise! surprise!) a very busy one. Yet what's made it worse is that my right hand has puffed up around the knuckles, outer edges of the palm and some of my fingers. It hurts to use it for things like holding utensils and writing; thus, typing has been a great inconvenience.

Thankfully, most of the swelling has gone down especially after I visited my doctor last Friday. She said that it was an "accumulation of fluids" due to my lack of mobility and she recommended that I try to move around more. I've been dutifully heeding her suggestions and they've worked relatively well.

Despite all the work that I've accumulated and that I must tackle in the next few days I'm going to try my best to post here over the next few days. There are far too many issues stewing in my mind that I want to touch on such as this and this. I will try not to write as much as I had in this post though something substantial is better than nothing.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Boo

I'm too sleepy to blog anything above 100 words tonight. Hence, I'll play it lazy and merely post the below video. It describes how I was feeling late last night. (Maybe I'll explain why tomorrow).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Pleasantries

No matter what I do and regardless of how content I may feel something will get on me and drive me down.

Tonight was no exception.

Although I was busy mom interrupted me this afternoon to ask that I prepare a check to pat a bill for one of my brothers. I did it that night and I wrote the check for a few dollars more than the bill requested. (It’s something I usually do as a sign of good faith and it’s usually good to leave a bit of credit on the bill whenever possible).

As I was trying to finish some typing at 10 she barges into the bedroom screaming.

“Why did you pay so much on the check?!”

I explained to her quietly and calmly that it’s something I always do as a sign of good faith, etc.

“Why are you gifting the clothing store so much? They just take the money and run! Don’t you know that by now!!!”

Naturally her yelping woke my brother up; the one whose bill I was taking care of and who was trying to get some rest before getting up at 4am.

My attempt to explain again was rebuffed anew. This time, she took the check and emphatically tore it up while admonishing me for my check-writing abilities.

By then I wanted to scream at her not so much because I could have been wrong but due to her taking such a simple task and blowing it way out of proportion. I am the one whose job is to pay the bills and I write out roughly 6-7 per month. I never get thanked for what I do.

What also perturbed me was that yet again she took me for granted. For the past 32 months I have sacrificed far too much of my sanity and well-being for her and the good of my family. Most of the time I don’t mind doing so and I realize that it’s a task thrust upon me since dad died. Yet a little gratitude can go a long way; a simple “thank you” can suffice. There’s no need to scold me like a toddler or yell like a banshee if I make a mistake on a silly task. I have to endure this huge burden of stress and responsibility upon me and it’s unfair to have to be treated as if I were an immature, unkempt child.

Ultimately I decided to throw in the towel and not refute her anymore. I interrupted her scolding, told her I would write a check, and promised her that I would take care of it. She kept up with her nagging though my calm assurances finally convinced her stop and she left the room.

Mom has gone through countless emotional outbreaks since dad passed away three years ago this September. Even when they would argue he served as her emotional keystone; one which was removed when he died. Though my brothers and I try our best to replace that keystone it’s just not the same. No matter what we do she will never recover from the mighty blow she received from his death. All we can try to do is lessen it as best as possible.

Unfortunately, my sympathy is tempered with rage; a tempestuous anger thriving off of stresses big and small. 9 times out of ten my calm demeanor really reflects the tranquility and rationality I feel. Yet there are occasions like tonight when it is merely a fa├žade; a mask which hides my sorrows, rage, and disappointment. I would have loved to scream back at her and quell some of the rage that had built up in me. Doing so would have been fatal since she would’ve lashed out with even more anger and alibis, justified or otherwise. It would’ve shattered her own emotional state and brought forth who knows what. I did not fight fire with fire and though emerged burned it could’ve been worse.

Rarely are the occasions when I curse at my father whose soul is in the heavens above. I wonder why he had to go and leave me stuck with such an enigma. What did I do to deserve someone so loving and kind yet also so paranoid and crazed? In the end, whether I like it or not, whether I am happy or sad, calm or enraged this is what I have to live with. I have no other option but dutifully accept the positive with the negative and hope that the future can be better.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lousy Smarch Weather

If there’s one thing that annoys me is when my best laid plans became thwarted despite my best intentions.

Today I was supposed to head to a special ceremony at the U.N. commemorating the entry into force of an international treaty for disabled people. I touched on the convention briefly the other day, and expressed my pride and joy that such an accord could come to fruition. My hope was that I could attend today’s event and be one of numerous disabled individuals present and showing support to what can hopefully be a new era for the disabled.

Alas, it was not to be since I was unable to make it to Manhattan.

The fault lies with the crummy weather today. I don’t mind if it’s cold and today was a bit nippy. However, 30 MPH winds along with 45 MPH gusts are dangerous for those in wheelchair with a high center of gravity like mine. Worse still was the steady rainfall which made commuting a pain in that it was a perfect day for delays and late pickups on the Access-A-Ride system.

In the end, I stayed at home doing some cleaning and organizing of paperwork. I was feeling a little too crabby to do any meaningful work.

At least there’s a bright side; I’ll try tomorrow to catch the archived webcast of the ceremony despite my having more pressing matters to attend to. Furthermore, I’m going to accompany my mom and one of my brothers on Wednesday to his medical appointment. That should give me the chance to enjoy some time with them outside of the sometimes claustrophobic confines of the apartment.

A little fresh air never hurts!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Bert and Ernie on Clinton and Obama

I don't like to cross-post with The Latin Americanist but I can't help myself on this occasion:

It’s silly.

It’s juvenile.

It has no direct relation to Latin American affairs.

Yet it’s funny:

For the record, I’m not gung-ho on any of the presidential candidates.

(Hat tip: Wonkette).

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Off to see the wizard…

It’s been roughly a week that I’ve been stuck at home playing catch-up with several projects. Thus, its’ a relief to be able to head out for a few hours today. First, it’s a quick jaunt to Bobst Library in order to return a recalled book. Then, it’s a slow but steady trip on the M5 and M16 to go see my shrink.

Mercifully, I'm not as wound-up as I was the last time I saw my shrink two weeks ago. Then it was a chore to see him and try to explain how I was on the verge of a breakdown. Today's appointment should be less strained since I feel upbeat and grateful for his advice.

It isn’t a glamorous outing, admittedly. But it’ll be a relief to be able to step out and do a few productive things.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A New Era for PWD

As I mentioned on Saturday, an international treaty for disabled people took effect on that day. Thus culminated the efforts of hundreds of people who dedicated lots of time and energy to creating the accord and the beginning of a new hope for disabled individuals around the world.

I had the good fortune of attending several of the conferences of the ad hoc committee which worked diligently and (for the most part) in good faith to create the treaty. The sessions were marathon events taking two weeks at a time roughly twice a year and convened government representatives along with members of numerous NGOs. My role was mostly an observational one; showing up to workshops, gathering notes, and talking to different people. It was a refreshing look at how group efforts can (usually) work and it provided me some valuable insight into the inner working of the U.N. bureaucracy.

Next Monday there will be a special ceremony commemorating the entry into force of the treaty for disabled people. I may see some familiar faces during the event, though to be perfectly frank with you that isn’t my primary concern. My main issue is that the pact can lead to significant strides for the disabled, especially in underdeveloped nations.

Disabled people receive the stigma of being complainers who are wholly uncomfortable with the world and whine solely for our benefit. That may be the case for a small amount but I’ve found that what we, the disabled, really want is the opportunity to perform to the best of our ability. It may involve asking for some help but in the end we are empowered and given the chance to reach our goals.

I suppose the best and most succinct way to say it is by using the title of a book written by the late (and missed) Henry Viscardi, Jr. – Give Us the Tools

Saturday, May 03, 2008

A New Era for the Disabled

Today an international treaty aimed at improving the lives of disabled people around the world went into effect. I will discuss this in further detail on Monday, but not without mentioning that I sincerely hope that the convention can help those achieve the equality that they so richly deserve. It may not have a huge impact for my generation though I have faith that it will for future generations to come.

(Video link):