Jul 04

Pride 2016

Pride 2016 has come and gone and it was a challenging one on a number of fronts.

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Obviously Orlando weighed heavily on everyone’s minds and there were numerous signs showing support.  The float in the picture above was empty… and later 49 marchers solemnly passed, each carrying a sign with the name of one of the victims.My favorite sign simply read, “Keep dancing Orlando”.  At 3 pm the Parade came to a planned stop and a moment of silence was observed.

On a more personal level pride is very important to Zuimei.  It could be that they don’t have a Pride parade in Tokyo, or that it’s because we met at pride, but ever since he started Touhenboku he has made a point of participating, celebrating and supporting pride every year.

Due to a snafu however his truck was sent along way before his group of people were.  As a result his group didn’t have water, t-shirt or bags to hand out. This was very disappointing to Zuimei since he really goes all in for this.  While other groups (like the banks) are handing out stickers, candy or beads, he hands out shirts and cloth bags.  He spent a considerable about of money on it and it was disappointing that someone f’d it up for him.

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Touhenboku Pride truck at the beginning of the parade

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Touhenboku group near the end of the parade

On the plus side, the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau joined pride as the first sitting PM to ever do so and Toronto Mayor John Tory returned to the tradition of joining pride since Rob Ford’s refusal to attend.

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PM Justin Trudeau and Mayor John Tory

The PM was also joined by Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, as well as Toronto Mayor John Tory. The security around them was tight to say the least.  The number of “marchers” with ear pieces and vests on was considerable.27966442442_b11f8ff66d_z

Pride ran into a bit of a situation when the Black Lives Matter group, who were granted an honoured group position halted the parade for over a half hour while demanding the Pride organizers sign an agreement.  Here is the list of their demands.Cmepp96XYAAklXg

Personally I am of two minds with this.  My initial reaction is “Fuck you! Go high-jack someone else’s parade!” They were given an honoured position and included and they threw it back in our face!  On the other hand…Gay pride which started with the Stonewall Riots was started by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera two trans-gendered women of colour.  Along the way in out fight for equality we have left some of our brothers and sisters behind.  Perhaps is it a sign that we’ve made it when Pride has become part of the establishment.

I was talking with a friend today and mentioned how Pride had changed, even in the 14 years I had been attending. I remember my first pride seeing a float go by with someone in S&M gear whipping a guy with a hood on. Now, It was much more corporate; every bank has a float, even beer companies, and Pfizer are present.  There wasn’t much of sex in it anymore.  Maybe somewhere along the way we had lost our roots.

Some of the BLM demands I like and some I have issue with.  I love the idea of BQY funding, especially if it is a space in jeopard but I would throw this back and ask BLM_TO to also contribute, if not funds then time and support.  I feel like there was a lot of shouting about Black lives matter and the gay and trans support was an afterthought.  Number 6 is a must.  We must increase the representation of other communities.  Which makes me curious as to why American Sign Language is mentioned twice both in demand #4 and #7.  Is there someone in particular they are thinking of?

I completely disagree with number 8.  It’s been a long slow road from the raids of the bath houses to the chief of police, Mark Saunders, marching in the parade. I would like to see more inclusion, not less.

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Jun 16

Pride

I don’t normally go to PRIDE anymore. It was exciting the first few times I went, when I was younger and that part of sexuality was new to me.  When I first saw a muscle bear in chaps in real-life. (only seen it on the internet before that) Or the first transgendered person I met.  In fact, I met my husband at my first gay pride.

But as time went on I began to feel less and less connected with the gay community.  I don’t go to the village. I dislike bars. I have only seen one musical.  Honestly I don’t feel I have much in common with gay culture other than the fact I have sex with a man.

Pride became, in my mind, more of an excuse to party and an excuse for corporations to show their rainbow coloured support than to further the fight against inequality

My gay agenda is all about equality. I want to be able to have a life without constantly being defined by my sexual preference.

I am more concerned with paying my mortgage and whether or not I remember to buy eggs than I am with whatever it is gay culture is concerned about.  Honestly I had no idea what the hot topics of conversation were until last week.  I suppose in some sense means we must have made it since I don’t really need to fight for equality, we have it. It’s not something I need to think about anymore.

However, after what happened in Orlando it seems we still have a long way to go.

Caleb McGrew,Yosniel Delgado Giniebra

The shooter in this religious fueled rampage, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, was apparently upset that two men kissed in front of him. In fact a little research would seem to suggest he was a very confused individual with some serious self-loathing issues.  But attacks on gays is nothing new.  A quick search will turn up dozens, if not hundreds of incidents of LGBTQ2 individuals being assaulted.  What makes this one so shocking is the number of victims thanks to assault weaponry and the ties to a terrorist organization.

That same terrorist group, Daesh, has claimed that Toronto Pride is an excellent target.

Now I don’t know if they are trying to scare people away from pride, but if they are they clearly know nothing about gay history.  The first pride was a riot. In fact, it was a riot lead by a drag queen of color, and a transgendered woman.  At pride we celebrate the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, and that outrageous act of defiance.  We celebrate those who said “enough is enough” and kicked off the gay rights movement. Pride is equal parts celebration, protest and community building.

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Which that is why I will attend Pride this year with my husband. I will not cower in fear of hate-mongers.  I will not change who I am, or who I love. And I will support my community.

 

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May 17

No more landlords

My husband and I have been very fortunate in the property market here in Toronto.  We managed to pull equity from our first home, a condo, and buy our house on Gerrard.  We got some fantastic tenants for the condo who quite frankly took better care of it than we did.  As a result, if the Zhang’s called to say something was wrong, I just called the appropriate tradesmen and had them go in and fix the issue.  This is because I knew the Zhang’s would have tried to fix it themselves and they wouldn’t bother us with something minor.  We wanted to keep them happy.

We also had Ian living in our basement at Gerrard.  He had been there for many years before we bought the house and was an excellent tenant.  Also capable of taking care of things himself, he never caused a fuss and if he asked for something, we just provided it.

After about 5 years we sold the condo and bought our house in Newmarket.  This is when things on the rental front dipped.  We converted Gerrard into a rooming house.  The original idea was we would rent to Japanese exchange students and employees of Zuimei’s restaurants.  Unfortunately that did not work very well.  Short term tenants are very hard on property.  They simply don’t give a shit.  They don’t care if the heater is on while the windows are open in the middle of Winter.  They don’t care if the bacon they cook every morning is splattering grease all over the cabinetry.

Since neither Zuimei or I were interested in policing the property, nor able to upkeep the property the way it should have been we sold it.  With the penalty from Scotiabank for breaking the mortgage (and they royally fucked us over) we ended up about even on the payment front.  We paid off 13K of the principle and then got hit with a 13K penalty.

One of the things I learned while being a landlord is how the entire system is slanted in favor of tenants.  There is now a proposed landlord licensing system.  Now I firmly believe that everyone should have a safe, comfortable place to live.  But it’s a two way street.  You need to protect landlords as well as tenants.  I think the landlord licensing system might be a good idea, with a few provisos.

  1. The fact that the TCHC is not subject to the fee is ridiculous (just do a small search and see how many issues these guys have).  If it is a good idea then the city should be subject to the same rules and fees as everyone else.
  2. Monies collected should be spent on helping landlords, not just tenants. Whether it is educational materials or checklists, or document templates if the money is not spent in improving the system then it is just a money grab by the city.
  3. Slumlords should be named and shamed.

One thing I have never understood is who there isn’t a Yelp for housing.  People should be able to read the reviews on buildings and landlords.  These are businesses, there should be no expectation of privacy.

The flip side is there should be a tenant registry.  If someone is a serial rent dodger you should be able to warn other landlords.  Take Nina Willis for example,

At the provincially funded Landlord and Tenant Board, Willis complains of maintenance issues — which can result in a rent abatement or buy time if an inspection or repairs are ordered — and she typically alleges harassment and discrimination.

When ordered out by the board, she appeals, putting the eviction on hold. She has lost her last seven appeals and has left a string of landlords thousands of dollars in debt.

If you question how totally slanted the rules are look at this:

My landlord said there are no pets allowed in my building, and that I will have to move out or get rid of my pet. Is that legal? No. Even if your lease states there are no pets allowed, it cannot be enforced under the Residential Tenancies Act. However, if your pet is considered dangerous, causes allergic reactions, or is overly noisy, the landlord can ask the Landlord and Tenant Board to issue an Order to remove the pet.

In other words, a tenant could lie, have a pet, move in and then the landlord would have no legal recourse to remove them. Or what about these guys who are serial renters who then sub-lease.

Without a doubt there are unscrupulous landlords and they need to be dealt with.  But the system must also recognize there are unscrupulous tenants and provide landlords with the appropriate means to deal with them as well.

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Apr 10

Ma’agalim

I came across this charming animation video on reddit which /u/xChipsus translated.

Ma’agalim – Jane Bordeaux from Uri Lotan on Vimeo.

 

Nights turn into days
Days turn into years
And among them I was going faster in circles
Winds are blowing on me
Blow on the back of my neck
Everything seems too far too big

I’m not moving forward
It’s the time that drifts away
This is another passing train
It’s a further tightening rope (knot)

Sunrises sinking fast
As more seasons pass
And I stay the same in this shortening time

(x2) I’m not moving forward
It’s the time that drifts away
This is another passing train
It’s a further tightening rope (knot)

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Apr 06

Encouraging news

There were two news stories recently that I found very encouraging.

The first was the Panama Papers.  The Panama papers is this massive leak about the offshore holdings of the filthy rich. While having offshore accounts isn’t illegal in and of itself, it usually smacks of something nefarious and maybe it should be illegal.  It has implicated everyone from the Prime Minister of Iceland to Lionel Messi.

What I find encouraging is it was leaked at all. It was probably leaked by someone little.  Similar to Edward Snowden who was just a data monkey but had access to everything the NSA did. The time has come to hold the 1%’s feet to the fire.  The second part of the Panama papers that I love is that people are beginning to be held accountable.  The Prime Minister of Iceland was forced to resign after massive protests.

God I love Icelanders.

 

The second story that gives me hope is the Brandon University requires victims of sexual assault to sign gag order.  Not so much to the story but what happened afterwards.  So as the CBC reports,

The contract, which Brandon University confirms is authentic, spells out that the signer cannot have contact with the other person involved in an incident and that they are not to discuss what happened with anyone else other than a counsellor.

Students are threatened with suspension or expulsion if they breach those conditions, according to a copy of the document obtained by CBC News.

Which as you can imagine re-victimizes women who have been assaulted by forcing them to remain silent.  We Believe Survivors posted a copy of the contract here, which the university acknowledges as legitimate.  One has to question whether it is the student’s well-being the school cares about or their own reputation.

Anyway the encouraging thing is a day later the University admits the gag order is a mistake, and has said it will rectify the situation.  Yay for progress!  Now if we could only get people to stop raping all together then we’d be all set.

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Mar 27

Adobe Summit 2016

I was fortunate this year to get to go to Adobe Summit in Las Vegas. If you work in analytics, or marketing and you haven’t been to one I would highly recommend it.  Now obviously because it is put on by Adobe they talk a lot about their products, but even if you’re tool agnostic, or prefer another brand it is still worth going.

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Brad Rencher’s keynote at Adobe Summit

The theme this year that I took away was customer experience trumps everything; and is going to be the next wave in business. In that we need to recognize our customers, remember who they are their preferences, and recommend products or services that will appeal to them.  But these recommendations have to be relevant to the customers.

What I found interesting is that Adobe put this into practice at the event.  Everywhere I went, staff would greet me by name. Now of course I am wearing a nametag which makes it a bit easier to recognize my from the ten thousand other attendants, but it still has an emotional effect when you’re greeted every morning with “Good morning Dave”.  They also provided everyone with a backpack which was very relevant (and appreciated) because you’re collecting notes and handouts at each lecture.   They would have people walk through the venue reminding everyone when the next set of sessions would start.  And they had these recommended meet and greets.

At summit you will meet a very eclectic group of people.  For example I met a fellow named Phil from New Zealand.  I wish I had taken a photo of him because he looked like Billy Connolly but more hip. He was in education and was looking at what they should be doing to help their students and the organization. He was looking for not only tools that could help them stand up the various sites that needed to be developed but also meet their future needs.  I met a lot of analysts and developers such as myself, which was nice because there isn’t really anyone at the bank I can speak to about this stuff from a dev perspective.

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Slide from one of the presentations I attended

Summit will also confirm that you’re not alone in your organizational struggles. All large organizations have the same issues with silos and fifedoms, analysis paralysis, and education.  One of the things you can get from summit is strategies around how to beat these issues from people who have done it in their own companies.

Now there are lots of parties and dinners and things you will get invited to.  Some are vendors looking for new customers.  Some are vendors thanking existing customers for their business.  The best party is Bash, which is the one Adobe throws.

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Brian and Maja on the way to Bash

This year had xGames motocross, fireworks, food trucks, lots of booze and Weezer!

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Weezer at Adobe Summit

On top of all this, Las Vegas itself is an experience. I described it as being in a busy mall you’re in 24/7.  There are lights and noise constantly, people everywhere; which quite literally stimulus overload; which is intentional. If you look at the way the buildings are designed they are intended to keep you in the casinos and distracted so that you gamble more.  For us this became overwhelming so on the last day in vegas, after Summit we decided to rent a car and get out to the desert.

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All in all it was a very successful Summit for us.  I think everyone had a good time and I have some items I will try to put into practice at the bank.

 

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