Tag Archives: privacy

A Dissenting Voice Against Stephen Harper

I never thought I could feel my reputation as a Canadian in the world was sullied, but then Stephen Harper came to town.

Under Stephen Harper, since 2006, Canada has enjoyed George W. Bush-quality leadership.

Rejecting climate change, encouraging destructive environmental practices like the tar sand oil refineries, creating division and hate between right and left, the Harper Government is anything but about bringing Canada together.

They practice active misinformation, enjoy peppering the news with stories aimed at distracting Canadians hot-button issues (by way of talking about changing Oh Canada lyrics, and other foolishishness), and use scary rhetoric on issues of catastrophic importance, like Iran (because, hey, war is good!).

Stephen Harper, like George Bush, seems to have a “divine right” sense of rule, like old-time monarchs who believed they came to power with their bloodline because the gods deemed it so.

The latest issues in Canada?

Harper wants to build more prisons. He wants to impose mandatory sentencing on crimes.

And he wants to give the government and law enforcement the right to invade personal privacy in email, on cellular transmissions, and more.

And, with a majority government, the odds are in his favour.

Oh, Canada… indeed.

I’m not the only one who’s concerned that the government is looking to expand the books on law, push for tougher sentencing, and increase incarceration capacities at the same time that they want to invade a nation’s privacy.

Hey, baby — incarceration is good for business when you’re trying to appease the big business that got you elected, like Stevie is. Here’s to self-incrimination and the web! Now, about those emails…

Aw, who’s kidding who? Nothing’s REALLY private on the web. Want private? Stay off the web. But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna sit by and watch more and more of my privacy erode with a great, big government-approved snooping stamp on a new law, thanks.

You can’t assume an entire country’s in on crime and throw open the doors to electronic monitoring. It didn’t work well under McCarthy or Hoover, and it won’t work here. Creating more paranoia and suspicion isn’t what Canadians need, Harper.

When I grew up, I’m sorry, but I grew up believing Canada was more free than the United States.

Pierre Trudeau said government had no business in the bedrooms of Canadians in 1969. We allowed free speech, but not hate speech. When slaves fled the US back in the day, they came here. My dad gave me a book on the Underground Railway when I was 10, so I had this pretty noble view of Canada in the world.

We had so much pristine nature, so many parks. We had so much to be proud of, and my parents raised me to believe that.

It wasn’t till I got to travel, see the north and the prairies, that I realised the immensity of how little a population we were in such a great, big land. Like a 5-year-old wearing his father’s clothing, there are wide expanses of beautiful nothing where population has yet to grow, even now.

These days, those naively innocent feelings on how great Canada is are a thing of the past, as much as I still love what being Canadian means to ME. I only dream we can bounce back after Harper with a leader who inspires people on the world stage, like Obama, who didn’t turn out to be the second coming, but he’s certainly sitting pretty now.

Under Harper, the erosion of privacy, the divisiveness, the refusal to work with — let alone not LEAD — the world on the issue of climate change and the Kyoto Treaty, elimination of arts and equality funding, our declining stance on human rights around the globe, and so many other issues make me cringe when I think of how far Canada has fallen in the eyes of the world.

Because it’s our fault. We haven’t allowed Stephen Harper to get into office ONCE. We’ve elected him THREE TIMES.

No leader of Canada has ever disgusted me as much as Harper does, and it’s the apathy of the voting public and the lack of turnout at polls that’s to blame.

Now, Harper and his henchpeople want to stomp all over your privacy.

Are you gonna let them do that? Or are you gonna take 30 seconds out of your life to sign this petition, to tell Harper, Toews, and co. to go fuck themselves when it comes to reading your emails and snooping on your phone calls?

Join OpenMedia.ca and fight the invasion of privacy that will tie up cops’ time and raise your utility costs. Sign here.

And start speaking up.

This is OUR Canada. Harper has a MAJORITY MANDATE until October, 2015. We need to stand together to keep the Canadian pendulum swinging too far left. I’m in. Are you?

I HAVE A HAMMER, Therefore I DIY Blog

HEY, people.

You know what I haven’t told you yet? I’m blogging over at BUILD DIRECT, your building supply geniuses on the web.

There, you’ll find me doing home improvement and DIY blogs on a whole range of topics.

If you like the content on the following posts, please comment on the Build Direct blog, not here. Share it, like it, tweet it — whatever you like.

Here are the summaries of my recent posts, and stay tuned for more.

  • 6 Ideas for Balcony Privacy: Honestly, sometimes the best thing about apartment living is spying on the neighbors. The flipside is, sometimes the worst thing is knowing neighbours are spying on you. In the summer, the world’s a fish bowl when it comes urban apartment balcony life. It doesn’t have to be that way. With creativity and crafty splurging, you too can enjoy a special outdoor space while not letting yourself be a spectator sport… READ MORE HERE.
  • Picking Paint Colors: It’s Personal, Not Theory: Committing to a new paint color can be nerve-wracking. A friend once taped 15 paint chips to the wall, and asked her visitors to choose their favourite — of 15 variations on beige. Her inability to break the Bonds of Beige isn’t unusual. Embracing color is a lot to ask in a neutral world… READ MORE HERE.
  • Area Rugs as Wall-Hangings: A Magic Carpet Decor Solution: It’s the oldest of decorating truisms: a house isn’t home until something’s hanging on the walls. It’s personalized touches like artwork or family photography that define your space. Today, it’s rare to see original art hanging in a home, or unique knick-knacks. As a result, we have a crisis of decorating identity… READ MORE HERE.
  • Rethinking Storage: A Personal Story: Space: Everyone wants it, but in a square-foot world, it’s increasingly a luxury. A material age presents a lot of space-making challenges. Where do we put all that stuff when urban dwellings are shrinking? READ MORE HERE.

Coming up in May, I have a whole series on DECLUTTERING the home. I also have a two-parter on growing a kitchen garden. And there’ll be other stuff coming up as well.

Are there DIY stories you wish were getting covered? Are there home-improvement ideas you’d like my thoughts on? Here’s where you can tell me that. Thank you! Enjoy the reads.

I Done Been Bugged: A New Era

We like to think We Get It.

We’re all big-hearted people that grasp other people’s adversities — yada, yada, yada.

The trouble is, a lot of us don’t talk about our adversities, so how could you possibly grasp what you’re not even aware of?

I’ve been really bitchy for a while now, and it’s only in the last couple weeks that some of that has begun to evaporate. The trouble has been a few things, and I’ve sort of been sitting on it more than talking about it, because sometimes talking about it just doesn’t fucking help.

In fact, when it comes to cockroaches, talking about it makes it worse.

I’ve never understood pest problems, or why people lived in shitty buildings, or how you could sit idly by while your situation worsened and worsened.

But then it happened to me.

About five weeks before I blew my back out, in September ’08, I saw my first cockroach. I cleaned everywhere, but they kept appearing here and there as a result of a garbage-collecting Dumpster-diver on the first floor (fucker). Then I blew my back out and had to live on the floor for about six weeks as they escalated in numbers.

The last 22 months were an endless battle.

Honestly, I’m not sure I would have moved had I had the money. After all, once you get a cockroach infestation, I mean, geez — have eggs, will travel. You’re best to stay put once you get people working on the problem.

Right around then was when my bathtub faucet started to malfunction too. Naturally, having a hot bath’s a bit of a necessity when you have a back problem brought on by fucked-up overtense muscles.

For the last year, I’ve been running a bath by using the shower.

Then there’s the decaying kitchen floor.

It’s been a really fucking long two years — just on the “around home” front.

See, I don’t write about money and shit very often. It’s not really your business how I live. But here’s the thing: I’m pretty smart about how to live The Appears-Good Life on a budget. I buy cheap wine that isn’t lighter fluid, I know how to make little pieces of meat go far in tasty brilliance, and I buy a few “quality” ingredients to give me the impression I’m living it up.

But what I’m really doing is living very cheaply in an expensive city. I don’t buy clothes, go to fancy salons, or any of that jazz. Life hasn’t made income very disposable for me. When I eat out, it’s usually because others are treating me or because I’ve budgetted two weeks ahead to afford that dinner-and-a-beer.

And that’s the way it goes. It’ll continue that way now that I’ll be returning to school to learn basic business accounting and other self-employment skills for the next year, too, while I journey down the Working-for-Me future.

So when it  comes to “home life”, it’s really important that I like where I live — because I’m financially, & writing-hobby-wise, required to stick around a lot.

This spring, the cockroaches reached the worst point ever.

They began escalating in February.

By the end of May, I’d now had a couple cockroaches in my bed (clutched one under my pillow one night), had them crawl on food, and other horrifying things — all for someone who’s had a lifelong terror of bugs.

Despite 18+ months of persistent problems, I’d never had them outside of the kitchen or in any kind of numbers like they’d now become — and they had full reign of my home, invading every corner in a matter of weeks.

I couldn’t invite people over for shame I’d have a roach run up the wall in front of them.

In my part of the world, cockroaches are NOT common, and there’s a stigma attached to having them. And the fucking people who say, “Why don’t you move?” ARGH!

Like it’s that easy when you don’t like what you’re dealt. Just pick up and go? Not everyone’s reality allows these things, and a little more empathy and less judgey “Well, gee, that seems easy to solve” sanctimony would go a long, long ways.

You want to bankroll what life requires on my behalf? No? Then don’t fucking ask why I didn’t move. Because: Money.

Well, I finally learned the laws and realized I had a very, very easy time to file an official complaint about the state of living. At the end of May, I called City and reported my building, then I called my landlord and informed him that, NOW, I wasn’t working, and NOW I had the time to make his life a living hell if he didn’t stop making mine one, now that he had 6 months to get started on it. I said I had a very, very strong desire to fulfill that threat, and a REAL GOOD way with words when it came to writing letters to politicians and shit.

Unbeknownst to me, because of the cockroaches, an inspection happened immediately (without notifying me of entry, thanks!).

Two days after, pest control was begun throughout the entire building for the first time!

Three weeks later, I saw my last roach. It’s been nearly 2 months after pest control and the last week or two has finally seen me begin to fall asleep without the last thought before I shut my eyes being of all the cockroaches I’ve seen, or of grabbing one as I flopped over and stuck my arm under my pillow in bed.

Yesterday and today, my landlord has begun to repair my complicated bathtub problem.

Next month I get a new kitchen floor.

I wish I’d gone to the city sooner. Thank you, City of Vancouver.

We think the government doesn’t give a shit, or that the system will never help us, but all we’re doing is just removing a possible solution from an otherwise grim outlook where we need ALL possibilities to be explored.

This morning, I was telling a friend about how much life in The Time of the Cockroaches sucked, and I got all emotional and began tearing up and gasping.

I hadn’t realized what a burden it’d been and how cynical it made me of life and people while I fought and fought for resolution to my problems — but I fought in the wrong direction and went to the wrong people.

Fighting the fight isn’t good enough.

Fighting the fight requires it being the right kind of fighting, and against the right opponent. It means knowing where to turn and what you need.

But, mostly, it requires you believing you’re in the right to pursue that goal.

I became outraged at the end of April, flew into a rage on the phone, but with the most calculated and well-thought series of viable threats I’ve ever strung together.

And now I await my landlord’s return with the Final Parts so that I may once again bathe with pleasure. And without hot water dripping from a shower.

___

We do things wrong.

And things go south.

And, if we’re lucky, we learn a lot about ourselves in the process, making a difficult experience not have been in vain.

I’m lucky. I’ve learned a lot. I know what to worry about in life now, I know when life kinda sucks for realz. I also know I’ve only scratched the surface of what others endure. Yeah. I’ve learned a lot.

Don’t think you know what people are living with. You often haven’t got a fucking clue. Lord knows most of my friends didn’t.

Should I Stay or Should I Go Now?

I had an end-of-the-night chat on Twitter with my friend Tris Hussey (@TrisHussey), one of Vancouver’s best WP blogging smartie-pants, about the strange life of being a vanilla girl in a sex-blogger-world.

It’s had me thinking since, which is why I like smartie-pants like Tris.

See, he thinks the world needs more sex-positive voices — especially from everyday-peoples like me, I guess.

Me, I still have a hard time swallowing the role. So to speak.

That’s what my whole journey in sex-blogging was about. Discovering my own sexuality in a more positive way, where I no longer judged my tastes or worried what things might suggest about me ethically or morally.

It was a hard fucking battle and I’m not even sure where I am on that road right now because I’ve been abstaining for too long. Just… because. I didn’t want to think about sexuality. I had to think about me.

But I’ve thought about me. I’m a better “me” than I’ve ever been. Now I’m ready to be more. Again.

I think the reason my sex-writing has been so successful at being applicable to the average person is because I am one. I’m not interested in burlesque. I couldn’t give a shit if I ever experience a threesome. I don’t have anything too crazy going on in my closet, can’t tell you about any really freaky encounters or swinging parties. I don’t have really odd kinks, I don’t need to push any boundaries. I don’t need more/crazier/harder to get off than I used to.

I like a little bondage, a little kink, trying creative positions, and have a little thing about sex in interesting places if time/lack-of-visibility allow. That’s about it.

I’m not off-the-charts with my sexuality, and I’m not even promiscuous. I’m old-fashioned.

But I think into every sex life a little doggy-style must fall. Or maybe a lot. It’s open for debate — let’s bang-out a plan of attack. What can I tell ya?

I think sexuality is probably one of the biggest journeys we all take.

How many people ever truly get comfortable in that context? How many people not only get comfortable with being truly sexual, but do so in a healthy way — they don’t overconsume porn, hurt others in their quest for fulfilling needs, or develop unhealthy dependencies on any particular activity, person, or lifestyling?

The world doesn’t have enough oft-laid happy “average” people skipping through life with a “I”ve been shagged SILLY” bounce to their step. How many accountants do you see walking bow-legged on Monday morning, huh?

The attitudes we DO have about sex, unfortunately, are being shaped by really fucked-up messages on the media, in Hollywood, and the internet. Sleeping around’s more popular than it’s been since the ’70s,  STDs are on the rise, people are experimenting left, right and centre because media’s showing all these alternative approaches to us…

But where’s the heart?

Where’s the emotion?

Why’s there such a profound disconnect between what we’ll let ourselves feel in the crotch versus what we’ll allow our hearts to feel?

What the hell are we thinking?

Sigh. Don’t ask me, man. I’m only beginning to even attempt to crack that nut.

For the last 2-3 years, I’ve not been considering sexuality and society as much as I once did. Re-reading my work has reminded me of why I’d been so angry about it all in the past, and has rekindled my interest in being one of the voices to bring some reason to the argument.

I think so much of what’s wrong with us as a society can be explained through our skewed perspectives on sex.

I’m not suggesting getting laid equals world peace.

I’m suggesting that it’s the attitudes we associate with sex that matter, not necessarily about whether we’re getting laid or not.

When we do get shagged, how vulnerable do we truly let ourselves be? How willing are we to let our loved ones into our deeper darker places we’re scared to admit exist? How ready are we to open the doors to where we keep our skeletons?

Sex is the physical realm of mental trust. What you’re willing to do mentally SHOULD translate sexually, vice versa.

Yet how often is that true?

Are you open to others, do you accept all ways of life, can you trust those around you, are you comfortable expressing your needs? Tell me what kind of lover you are, and I’ll tell you the answer to those questions. Again, vice versa.

If everyone was open, trusting of others, accepting of other lifestyles and worldviews, willing to be versatile, able to be vulnerable but also strong when needed, and could let others lead when necessary but follow when called for, what kind of world do you think we’d live in?

Don’t tell me sex can’t heal us.

Don’t tell me sex isn’t an important statement on who and what we are as a people.

And don’t even think of telling me we’re okay.

I’m not crazy about standing up here and being the sex-positive poster-girl. I’m not enthused about the judgment or speculation it promises to hold for me. I’m not happy this job needs doing by anyone.

But there’s no one out there talking about sex for ME.

There’s no one *I* get. No one echoes the battles I’ve fought, the lessons I’ve learned, and the thoughts I’ve had in a way that really resonates.

And I know how alone I felt and how fucked up and self-judgey I was, and for how long.

Someone needs to speak for me.

So I will.

And hopefully it’ll mean a few other people feel spoken for.

Because I’m getting real fuckin’ tired of the people who’ve been doing all the talking so far.

Where’s Steff?

Hey, kids. I’m still looking for work. Honestly, it’s just beating the creativity right out of me. Like a fucking dog in an alley, my friends. I don’t feel like writing. Today was a two-interview day, which is great, ‘cos it’s interviews, but I didn’t receive any other responses, so I feel like there’s an insta-wall in front of me. I don’t really have the time to “wait it out.” Either I get a job and keep a place to live, or the fit hits the shan and I run like the wind.

I should be getting greater responses, but there’s a pretty crazy job market and who knows what’s going on. Either way, I’m frustrated, I have nothing of value to say, and there’s not a lot of point in updating unless something good happens. It comes and goes, the goodness. This morning’s interview was good, but the second wasn’t that great. It went well, but they kept me waiting thirty minutes for the interview to begin, and I’m not sure I want to work for a company with so little respect for my time already. Unfortunately, I have no choice. I’ll take the first job that comes.

I didn’t get the job from the other day. They decided to look elsewhere. I decided that was fine by me after I saw them repost the ad before they decided to tell me I wasn’t up for it any longer. Again, it’s a question of basic etiquette and doing the right thing. It’s a pity I seem to be more an anomaly than a common standard when it comes to perception of what the right thing is.

I should tell you about a strange thing that occurred, though. Were one to Google my full name, it wouldn’t take long for this weblog to appear in connection with it. I am a Scribe Called Steff. Shit, it’s on my resume, the “Scribe” moniker. Whatever. I’m not ashamed of what I write here. I toe the line between smut and sexy with aplomb, I believe, so, y’know, “whatever.”

However.

I do NOT publicize a certain email address in conjunction with this blog. There’s an address that is explicitly tied to my resumes, and nothing else. A few friends have it, and some publishers, and that’d be that.

The other day, I got a pretty overtly sexual email (and I have ideas about who sent it) and the person emailed me at my “job” address. This leads me to surmise only one thing, that a potential “employer” has specific designs on what writing about sex means about me as a person. Whoever he is, he has another thing coming.

I have to say, it pisses me off, the judgments that are made on the basis of who we are behind closed doors. I’ve written about it before, and I’ll write about it again, but this recent occurrence has really irked me a bit. The fact that this person sent the email to the board’s email, and THEN my “employer” email as if to say, “Hey, look, I know who you are,” is what creeps me out.

Whatever. Suffice to say that looking for work isn’t as fun as I wish it could be. It’s essentially a prolonged exercise in vulnerability and submissiveness — both qualities I try to endure in very sparing quantities. I want a job. I want this over.

And when it is, I’ll be a better writer. For now: Hi, I’m Stressed-out Steff and I’ll be your tourguide through the jungles of the jobless, where the prey pray for fortune and speedy resolution. Sigh.