This is what is wrong with our politics… when our national flag cannot be displayed when voting.


You wonder why the Americans have such a strong sense of rights waving their flag at every opportunity?

You wonder why they fight and scrape to the point of insanity about freedom to do what they want?

You wonder why they are nutso about guns, money and religion?? Hell they even pullout 200′ flags at sporting events just to remind everybody that football and baseball are American.

Well, in Canada we can’t even show our flag on a pin because of bullshit revolving around colours of the liberal party. How stupidly insane is that?

Now the conspiracy nuts will say its a conservative initiative (which may not be too far from the truth) but the reality is that if we as the citizens of this country cannot even muster around our own flag, then why are we even a country.

Whomever made the call on this particular issue should be charged with treason.

 

Follow the link: http://cnews.canoe.com/CNEWS/Election2015/2015/10/17/22563433.html

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Every star wars (original) fan needs to see this….


So this made me want to go back and watch robotech, star blazers and akira.

A Geek on Wheels has a new home


Posting this just to doubly announce that I have moved Geek on Wheels to its own venue. DarthObvious will live on with my gaming friends, our emails, the occasional post sent to both here and my new site. It won’t die.It’s been around since before Facebook was born. Even if it ends up being amateur gaming clan name…it will never die! (until we get and frame the cease and desist from Disney)

I’ve just had a few opportunities starting to creep at the edges of my conciousness that I felt needed their own identity.

How’s THAT for being overly philosophical?

I announced GeekonWheels.ca on Facebook and Twitter back in October 2014, I was reminded that some people may have been following my posts directly via WordPress. If you have, now that I’ve worked out some bugs with the new site, I hope you’ll head on over to http://www.geekonwheels.ca/ and subscribe and/or follow my new meanderings. I hope to add much more content, thoughts, random silliness and general observations of a life on wheels there.

Life is still changing. Let’s see what this new direction brings. Care to join the trip?

Bill Cosby – What happened to innocent until proven guilty?


So, now we have protestors at the Ontario venues where Cosby is going to show up to perform. In a hamilton news interview, some lady was collecting tickets for those people no longer interested in going with the intent of putting protestors in their place.

For the record, Cosby has been accused of sexual misconduct/rape/assault by a slew of women. All of them a decades old allegations and none as of the date of this post have resulted in charges or any kind of investigation. Of course, Cosby’s camp denies everything and his lawyer even went so far as to say if any of it was true, how come no charges have been laid?

I’m not defending him, or saying I believe either side at this point because plainly i don’t trust the media and when celebrities are involved in a scandel, all kinds of corruption to the truth can happen on both sides of the fence.

What galled me the most was the lady collecting the tickets didn’t say “Alleged” or “Accused” in regards to Cosby, but rather talked with language that already had him convicted and labelled as a sex offender. They already have organized protests and interest groups who are going to hound Cosby wherever he goes.

I thought in north america at least, innocent until proven guilty was the right of the accused.

Again, not trying to defend him but it seems kind of ridiculous that all the tens of millions of dollars he has donated to a variety of charities and educational organizations, all his business works that involved helping his communities goes up in flames when accusations fly without him being able to defend against it. It is almost like he has to go to court because the accusations are more devastating than the actual court process.

Let me give you an example in my world. If for some reason, I was publicaly accused of a crime. Any crime. During the time it took to clear my name, whether it was the accusers back pedaling or going to court and proving otherwise, do you think my business clients would continue to do business with me? Do you think they would want to be associated with me and stick it out until the truth came out which could take years? Some might….but i would bet that there would be some who would have to err on the side of their own feelings and reputation to dissapear and disassociate with me as fast as possible. It is only natural and the accusation alone has done the damage.

What I’m saying is that allowing protestors who have already judged him to be guilty and potentially spreading incorrect information or even descriminatory information should be curbed somehow. The right to protest is protected but as we have seen with the Westboro Baptist church, not all protests or protestors have the truth on their side.

What the new Star Wars Movies should be… (Ep 7,8,9)


So there was a cute comic-con posting about what people wanted Ep 7 to be and rather what they don’t want it to be.

Though everybody wants good movies, Lucas’ track record has been crappy since he announced Ep1.

Now to be honest, for me, Ep 1 was not so bad. I didn’t even mind Jar Jar so much in the grand scheme though he could have been completely eliminated. The one item that bugged me to no end which basically wrote off the whole star wars universe can be summed up in 1 word: midichlorians.

But the truth is, from our childhood of the original 3 movies, the only expectations I had of Ep1 was the following items:

Epic light sabre battle by jedi who were properly trained – Hence the uncut sequence between obi-wan and maul 100%
Epic starfighter sequence – Anakin/r2 flight sequence with bonus podrace which was 100%
More Jedi powers – speed, jump etc.

So for those elements, i got what i wanted.

Ep 2 for me is barely a memory as it was only there for “plot development” and i think i’ve only watched it once. Total write off.

Ep 3 was better and worse in the same breath. Anakin’s collapse into Vader was done well. Even though the acting was wooden, in its context, I liked it. It was sort of what I had in my mind’s eye for 20 years. BUT then the cut scenes of all the combat which would have been great killed it. The sheer amount of CG that they used took away from the feel of the original trilogy and then there were little things like Leia “giving up” which made less sense once they got to that plot point.

Over all my biggest beefs for 1,2,3 were:

midichlorians (which changes canon)
origin story of Bobafett (WAYYYY different from canon, and which is now changed canon to match)
Leia “giving up” her will to live
Jar Jar
the setup to have clone wars tell the story of Anakin in between 2 and 3 whereby we KNOW he will slaughter every character in the cartoon that is introduced… I liked Clone wars as a series, but i hated that they chose Anakin’s aspect and made it kid friendly when the reality of the character was very dark and let’s face it… EVIL.

The rest I can forgive.

for the new movies, I want them to just use ep 4,5,6 as the model and guideline in filmmaking. Not a CG romp… don’t change the characters and story just to indulge cameos and merchandising opportunities outside of the movies… don’t add Cool effects like lens flares just because you can. Don’t “clean” up the star wars universe… if anything, the lack of CG in the originals made it more real. Made it something we could relate too even though it was a different galaxy.

It does NOT have to compete with Marvel right now. Or be the “same” as the Star Trek reboots. Just make it good. People will see it and it will make billions of dollars even if you don’t add the laugh track….

Now for Comic-cons advice (via The Chive):

hey-mr-abrams-this-is-what-we-want-to-see-in-the-next-star-wars-49-photos

Well, its to be expected…


I took a moment to google “darthobvious” just to see what would come up. Lately, I’ve been googling my name and company for busines reasons so I figured I’d try the obvious and see what was up….

This is what I got:

darthobviousgoogle

Yup… after basically 15 years, we finally got knocked of the optimization list and some gamer is going around with the actual name and avatar @darthobvious

I’m not surprised mind you. Pretty much this blog has been abandoned for the Facebooks but since I’m the “voldemort” of facebook, I find it amusing to bitch out my thoughts here where nobody will read them.

I think, now that I have figured out how to post directly from my phone (which is a whole bitch fest unto itself), I may drop little notes here over time just to have it floating around out there in the interwebs.

After all, we still own the name and domain so what the hell.

Geek on Wheels ponders a curse of good manners


So I have a dilemma. Something that is pissing me off in that I don’t know if I’m happy with how I reacted to a frustratingly weird event today.

Regulars to my rants will recall about a year ago, I went on a royal rampage about how I didn’t need to be cured. That there was nothing wrong with me that could be prayed out. I got a lot of good and interesting responses to that post. Let’s see what people think about this one.

Cut to the scene!

Parking lot outside the Metro grocery store on St. Clair. It’s a hot day, sun blazing down, but the weather is due to change, getting quite cooler for the week. By now, I know that means my legs will misbehave quite regularly, which makes loading and unloading the chair an interesting challenge. Regular readers will also know that I no longer turn down offers to help, pride being useless versus the chance of injury.  I was quite grateful when  two women walked up, one a tiny hispanic lady, the other of some caribbean descent with an accent that was harder for me to understand than small town Irish dialects. Her pink paste in her hair that looked like someone had dripped paint down the front made for an interesting view. Calling it streaks would have been an understatement…but I digress. She offered to help load it, so I stepped out and leaned on my walker (both hands firmly on it mind you…bear with me) and she loaded it quite well, on its side as I asked and I thanked her profusely…but then…it got weird.

Her little friend tried to hand me a pamphlet…even though she had just seen me using a walker with BOTH HANDS. I groaned inwardly the moment I saw it and tried to put a nice smile on my face. The loading lady turn to me to ask what happened. It’s my most common question after all, so I thanked them both and told them it was a spinal cord injury. She clucked her tongue, threw her head back and I swear she cursed at my spine. Really. That’s what it sounded like anyway. Then it got REALLY awkward.

The little woman pushed the pamphlet back at me, and I grabbed it with two fingers as the loading lady asked me, “Have you heard of the Healing School my friend…the lord has worked miracles for us there…you should come!”

All I could think was…how do they keep finding me??!?!

I took a deep breath. Thanked them very much for the help, but firmly stated I wasn’t interested and that no faith healing would cure nerve damage…have a good day. She continued to go on about the lord’s work as I slowly walked around to the driver’s side and then walked away.

So my dilemma?

Well first, I’m pissed off that I didn’t use my line I promised I’d use the next time: this ever happened…”why is there something wrong with me?”

Second, I wonder if I should have stopped being so bloody gracious and confronted this foolishness head on. I know in the short-term, it would have done nothing to change the opinion of these ladies…but this is something that gets under my skin. There is a lot of really good, REAL science being done right now to help people with much worse spinal cord injuries than my own. From laser scalpels that can detect scar tissue and only cut it away while avoiding healthy tissue, to stem cell regeneration of nerve damage, to even the exo-skeletons that I have mixed feelings about, but that I recognize the value of. This is science. This costs money. This needs resources that could be put to real world use.

There are far too many, though, who would rather donate money to some faith healing church on the basis of a belief with no reality to it. In fact, their beliefs often hinder the science that COULD help so many.

Now look, I am not painting every one of faith with the same brush. I have many family and friends who believe differently from me who give me fantastic support. I appreciate there prayers and good will, even if I don’t believe as they do. I truly thank them all because their support is based in reality and helps in many ways.

It is just certain types of people of faith, for example many of those who go to mega churches with  TV shows that feature some charismatic guy  in a perfect white suit and the best smile money can buy…sorry am I being too specific there? You see after Shannon read up on this pamphlet (and really its more a mini-magazine, Matt Kean will love this thing) it turns out this Healing School has a TV show on Vision TV, a faith-based station in the Toronto area. They claim to have cured a woman with some “rare” disease of both her blindness and her paralysis of 12 years. Apparently, she jumped from her chair and danced on stage as she was healed.

Uh huh.

Because muscles atrophied from 12 years of paralysis regain strength in an instant, eh?

Of course if you want to be healed, you have to apply and go through a screening process. Wonder what gets screened eh?

So tonight I am kicking myself. Perhaps I handled it “properly” making my point while still thanking them for their help and being polite…but another side of me wishes I had done more. My manners be damned.

Maybe one day I should take them up on the offer…but then I’d probably just be told it didn’t work because I didn’t believe.

Uh huh.

 

A Geek on Wheels gets licensed…again!


I’m back. It was a spring where I got tired of whining and complaining, but summer is now in full bloom, trips coming up and fun in the sun to be had. Before any of that could happen I had one major issue hanging over my head that had to be addressed.

My driver’s license.

Months back I posted pics and details about how I still drive, even with my legs basically useless to me anymore (long story but yes this year they have got worse…no whining in this one though), but I glossed over one major detail. Despite the fact that I had been driving with the hand controls for almost four years, the government had never got around to actually sending me the notice indicating I needed to be retested for them.

I didn’t hide it. Every medical professional I met with was informed I had them. For some reason, the paperwork never went through…until about midway through June this year. Finally, I got the notice that I would need to be retested for my license due to “changes in my medical condition.” I only had a few weeks in which to do a vision test, the written test and then a full on driving test before my license would be suspended. Yikes!

So with huge thanks to Remo Minichiello and his company Drive Again, I got the latest version of the study book, found some online practice tests and began a quickie refresher. Remo mentioned to me that if everyone on the road were to be forced to do these tests today, probably 70% of drivers would fail. Don’t you doubt that for one minute. I know full well that a lot of the written knowledge I had done in my test, 20 odd years ago, was long forgotten. How many demerit points before you are called in for an interview? How many metres away from a fire hydrant do you park? What is the official distance behind an emergency vehicle you have to allow? Holy crap I have to know all this?

So I studied and rolled into the Downsview testing centre for the vision and written test. I give them great credit in that they helped out big time when they saw the reasons, making sure then got the vision machine tilted down to my level, and finding me a spot to write the test from my chair. Despite how bloody blind I am (remember I AM the definition of coke bottle glasses), I passed that part easily enough. Next though was what I was really nervous about…the written.

I mean seriously, two tests, one on rules, the other signs, and you can only 4 wrong on each. Get every one right on one, but 5 wrong on the other, you’re screwed. Now I did have an advantage. Since I was there due to medical reasons, I could ask for a retest immediately if I wished…and I wasn’t being charged for any of it. Dammit, though could you imagine the teasing I’d get if I failed…then failed again? No wait…I’d actually have to have admitted that…hmmm…just thought of that. In any case, I wrote them. After they first gave me the wrong test…somehow I knew something was wrong when the test started talking about walk around checks of busses. Ok right test finally…let’s do this.

Rules first. The first 10 questions, no problem, a few trick ones, pick the best answer, not just the right one, but easy enough. Then to page two. Oh crap. Four questions in a row. On the G1 and G2.

Now for non-Ontarians I should explain. We have graduated licensing in Ontario for new drivers. You get your G1, which I believe you have to be on for a year after doing a written test, then graduate to a G2 with a driving…and here’s the trick. I suspect I even got THAT description wrong. You see when I got my license the system was entirely different! I had something called the 365! You got it as soon as you passed your written test and in theory you could book your driving test the same bloody day. I never had to study anything about G1’s and G2’s! Oh crap.

Answered as best I could, went back to check the other’s, now paranoid as I was, before moving on to the signs portion. That was simple. A few trick questions, but to be honest if anyone CAN’T get 20 out of 20 on that part I’d be questioning them…especially after driving for 20 years.

Hand it in…roll back, nod to the others of various ages (very few teens surprisingly) and wait…and wait…and wait…you can’t even pull out your smartphone! It’s a testing centre! So you wait…and then finally your name is called. By the time you’ve figured it out. If they ask you to confirm your birthdate and address, you are good…if not…ack! Jason! Come up please….and can you confirm your address? Oh thank god! 3 wrong only. Damn G1!

Now comes the fun part. Seriously, do you even remember how nervous you were when you took your driving test? How old were you? 16? Did you wait a bit like me? Do you remember sitting in your car, waiting for the examiner to walk up, introduce himself and go over the rules? “First, I will never ask you to do anything illegal…”

Seriously, I was a 41-year-old man, more nervous than any day OTHER than my wedding day, with Mr. Silent as my examiner, hating the fact that I could call the guy “young”.

I made a stupid joke…and we started. And…I passed. As we parked, with Shannon waiting patiently for me, I had to resist doing a Kermit flail of joy before I had the car in park. Damn, it felt good to get that out-of-the-way. Though I did have to laugh as he told me what I had to “work on”.

Don’t reduce my speed when changing lanes (Ya, thanks bud I was being paranoid about freaking speeding!). Remember to check my mirrors more often (cause you know we ALL check our mirrors every five bloody seconds).

In all honesty, if I hadn’t done a quick refresher with Remo the day before, I’d have flunked it. From the tricky 30 km/h zone right at the testing centre, so remind me not to cut the lines on the on ramp…I’d have been toast. Seriously, though…30?? That’s just being mean.

With that…I passed. I get the little condition of “HC” on my license. One more challenge down.

On to the next.

Geek on Wheels ponders…confinement


I’m probably cursing it, but it appears, just maybe, that spring has finally arrived, up here in Toronto.It almost got into the double PLUS digits today and we’re down to only the biggest piles of snowplowed hills left. Hell, I even heard some birds earlier this week…they driving our Chinese Sharpei, Toby, nuts! With the onset of spring, we wheeled ones can finally start to look past our winter confinement…but that really isn’t the type of confinement I’m thinking of tonight.

A few weeks back, my partner Arthur sent me an article looking at the idea of some new cybernetic leg units that might one day help those of us with SCI’s to walk again. It’s an interesting concept that the sci-fi geek in me loves…but there was a term used in the article that struck me.

“it would help those confined to a wheelchair.”

Now, realize something here. I don’t usually worry about politically correct terms. I also know the media in general tends to overuse its metaphors and catchphrases and clichés for the sake of keeping things simple when they are on a deadline. This really got me thinking though.

The one place I DON’T feel confined is when I am in my wheelchair. Ever.

When I’m having to use my walker, and stumble along carefully to my car, off-balance, watching each step. When I’m having to use more upper body than lower body to climb four stairs. When I’m having to bum my way down stairs into my own basement. THAT is when I feel confined. (granted seeing my nephew Liam learning to walk down stairs and looking better at it than I have in years just makes me laugh)

My wheelchair is not confinement in any sense. In my chair, I’m quick. I’m agile. I can turn on a dime, make skid turns when at a good speed, use walls to help me take corners faster and dammit when the zombie apocalypse comes (oh come on, just go with it), just you remember something. You may have two good legs to run…but I’ve got four good wheels to roll on.

Are there limits to it? Of course. Stairs. Stairs. Stairs. The bane of all of us on wheels. Even then I damn well intend to get skilled at going down them at least. Heights? Well, thankfully, even sitting I’m still 6’2″. That makes me a very tall sitting man. While it’s better that I ask for help when stuff is too high, I can find a way. I make it work. Period.

The cliché of people with spinal cord injuries being confined to a wheelchair is another one of those things I never thought of before it happened to me. I’d be willing to bet, though, that just about anyone in a chair…manual or powered…doesn’t see their chair as their confinement.

It is our transport. Our tools. Our freedom to live our lives. It is NOT confinement.

Do I wish I could still bound up my stairs 3 at a time, like I could just 3 years ago? Of course I do. That isn’t reality, however. An individual can choose to see a wheelchair as something confining if they want to let it define them. The media though, needs to stop using that cliché to define all of us who use chairs in our daily lives.

I can still hope for those biomechanical legs…or even better the nerve regrowth that was recently linked to me as well. I won’t let waiting on it confine me though.

Now if we can just get ourselves caught up to our southern neighbours when it comes to being truly accessible. Tell you what oh USA…we’ll lend you the lessons of healthcare for the masses, if you’ll do the same with accessibility for the masses.

 

 

Geek on Wheels ponders…once more with feeling!


No, I couldn’t resist the Whedon reference. Also have a Bon Jovi song running through my head (10 points to the first to get it)

Here’s a question for you. Before reading any of my rantings, ramblings and inane scrawls (truly, you should see my handwriting)…did you give much thought to what it must feel like for a para- or quadriplegic? I don’t mean emotionally. I mean physically FEEL in those areas of their bodies that no longer function as they should. If you were anything like I was before my chaired life began, I made some terrible assumptions. I didn’t know anyone who was a spinal cord injury victim (I do hate that word mind you). SCI’s were stories we heard, inspirations in the form of Rick Hanson, the work by Christopher Reeve and his foundation, but it wasn’t all that often you actually met someone with an SCI. When I saw them, I just assumed that if they were a paraplegic, they had no feeling in their legs and the legs were just…useless…flopping without help or support.

Of course, that was naively wrong, but I didn’t have any basis to know otherwise and didn’t have reason to give it much thought. I always assumed that the damage to a spinal cord meant nothing went down to those areas. No feeling, no pain, no signals from the brain. Now obviously, I can’t speak for all cases, each is unique…but with my own, it appears that it isn’t so much that the signals stop. They just get very…weird.

Why do I bring this up? Two words:

Pain and spasticity. (and please, don’t make me explain spasticity…it’s exactly what it sounds like)

For almost 3 years (frak has it really been that long?), my body has been fairly stable. Weak, nearly useless right leg, stronger and stable left leg. Sure, I’d utterly ruined my right ankle in between that (read earlier posts on how that one happened), but things weren’t really changing much…just a slow steady decline in the bad leg. Things change though as literally days after my 41st birthday, my body decided to sneak many in on me…and not in a good way

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night, where for 3 years one of your legs hasn’t worked but the other has “behaved”, mostly obeying you. This time though you wake up and both of your thighs, thighs that haven’t felt anything at all during those 3 years, suddenly feel like they are burning from the inside out. You calf muscles are spasming so hard you can see the knots through the skin. The muscles are tensing so much your ankles are turning inward and it feels as if they are going to snap of their own accord. You have to reach down and manually push at your knees and pull at your ankles to straighten your legs, feeling them fighting against you the whole time.

Then go to your waking hours, where sitting they bounce of their own accord, straighten out at odd angles, or as my right leg is doing even as I type this, they jump and slam your heel down to the floor with a strength you didn’t think was left in withered limbs. You try to control it, to stretch the muscles, to work them at the gym, to move them, even to stand with help to get some weight on them. Sometimes it helps…sometimes not.

You can’t find a pattern. Nothing that acts as a trigger. No stimuli that causes the spasms. No movement that explains the burning pain. It just starts…and then…stops. No rhyme or reason.

Now, please know, I don’t write all of this as a “woe is me” cry for help. I’m seeing my doctors, working on the exercises and doing the treatments…and I must admit that it has helped to almost separate myself from my own legs…in my own head of course. I can look at what they do, almost as a detached observer…which is fair since my legs have decided to detach themselves from my own control. It is actually quite fascinating to ponder just how amazing the human body is, how much has to work in tune for all of our body functions to work as they are supposed to. I can sit watching TV with Shannon and watch out of the corner of my eye as my right leg decides to just start twisting…and wonder what caused that. Shannon only really blinks at it any more if I grunt from a more painful spasm. She’s been getting used to it. These new changes though…they are something entirely different.

Now before you ask…there are meds I take…wow are there meds I take. Depending on how bad the spasms are I take 3-4 different pills nightly. These help to calm the spasms and help me sleep, which in turn helps Shan sleep, which in turn helps to keep us both a little more sane. There are downsides to these meds, side effects that I don’t even want to ponder to other parts of my body…and they make waking up in the morning VERY difficult…and everyone knows what a wonderful morning person I’ve been my whole life. I wake slowly, and spend anywhere up to a half hour each morning stretching those legs out, working them around, depending on how they ended up as I slept.

It’s funny, as I used to sleep in the oddest positions. I found sleeping crosslegged, flat on my back, legs almost in a full lotus position quite relaxing back in the day. It freaked the hell out of friends who saw it for the first time. Now though, I can’t do it. Sleeping with my legs bent at all leads to terrible muscle pain when I wake…so now I find lying flat as a board is the best I can do…not the most comfortable, but the best.

And so my body changes. The doctors and therapists come up with new plans. I keep moving on with life and just making it work. There are options…some I plan to explore and experiment with. This post was actually prompted by another blogger I’ve been following by the name of Rachelle Friedman. If you are on Twitter, look her up, or take a gander at her facebook page. She has some great thoughts of living with a spinal cord injuries and recently posted a fascinating look at how medicinal marijuana shouldn’t be so hard to get (she’s in the States). This was after she wrote a GREAT article about the stupidest things someone can say to someone in a wheelchair. I was actually jealous I hadn’t come up with that one myself. That being said, I think I’ll be sharing my own thoughts on marijuana soon.

It was her open admission of the pain she deals with daily that hit home with me…and made me ponder it more deeply.

And yes I know. I’ve been damn quiet since just after Christmas, but let’s be honest… it’s been one hell of a winter. And really? Who needs to hear anyone saying that over and over again. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a disability or not, this winter in North America has been brutal on us all. I freely admit, I don’t want to be whining about snow trapping me, or pondering those neat ski-style attachments for the front casters of my chair…I haven’t had the energy. Last week we got what I hope will be the last brutal blast of winter, the March lion roaring once more. It trapped me under orders from all to not risk trying to get out the door. So this got me to thinking…and realizing I do need to write…It doesn’t matter how many read it, or who reads it…it’s an outlet, an exploration, and an escape all of its own. So here’s to more to come.

Now don’t mind me going back to the ’80’s. One more time…with feeling!