Making my house smarter (& more accessible)

With my pain and fatigue, I’ve been trying to find ways to save a few spoons whenever possible. As someone who has been living in the Southeast U.S. for almost ten years, I’m also always trying to find ways to trim my electric bill in the summer (because air conditioning is a must…both heat and cold can exacerbate everything physical).  I’m also a bit of a control freak, so when I have brain fog (or my spouse leaves lights on) but can’t get to the lights.

I’m also a bit of a wannabe tech geek. So when I found out that I could get an Amazon Echo Dot on a payment plan, I figured I’d give it a go. I bought my Kindle Fire on a similar payment plan, so I knew that this was a legit way to be able to afford trying this out (it also helps that I’ve been doing Swagbucks to earn gift cards for non-essential items as well).

I did a little research and realized that the easiest thing to modify in my home (especially since it’s an apartment in a very old house) would be outlet adapters that I could use to control lamps, particularly in our office and bedroom. I picked up this smart plug adapter that was the cheapest with the best reviews and decided to give it a go for our home office because my husband’s lamp is tucked in a corner where I can’t reliably get to it (he sells gaming supplies and accessories through Amazon).

Once I got both the Echo Dot and the smart plug adapter hooked up to our wifi, it was amazing. You have a few options for the device’s name (so you don’t have to use Alexa if you don’t want to…we have a friend with a similar name, so we opted for Echo…the only danger there was that she sometimes responds when I’m talking about my favorite artist Echo Chernik). Not only could I voice control the light (“Echo, turn office light off”) but I could also ask for the weather, time, news updates, music, and even games. This ended up being even more amazing when I’m light sensitive because I can listen for her responses instead of trying to fumble with my phone settings to look information up. I’ve also been using Echo for grocery lists! The device syncs with the app on my phone so I’m not fumbling for paper lists and my spouse and I can both add items when we realize we need them (like in the middle of cooking, cleaning, or in too much pain to move).

This worked so well that we ended up picking a second outlet for the bedroom lamp as well. This lamp is next to my side of the bed, but now allows my husband to turn off the lamp without jostling my side of the bed (or tripping on pillows, blankets, or clay ice packs that inevitably become hazardous terrain). It’s also nice knowing that we have two lights in the place that we can turn off to save electricity while we’re gone but not worry about stumbling to light switches when we get home. It’s been one of the few times that saving money and saving spoons have happened at the same time!

We aren’t planning on getting any more smart plugs or other things in the near future, but my long term goal is to get a couple smart bulbs so I can alter the dimness/brightness or blue light visible to help deal with both light sensitivity and sleep problems. Most of these things are also controllable through an app, so it also would be useful for travel (kind of like the timers some people set on vacation).

While the Echo Dot isn’t always accurate in her understanding of various accents or voice pitches (and once she randomly started talking about a product without prompting), I’ve been really happy with this as a way to make my life a little easier with chronic illnesses & disabilities. If some of you are interested but still dubious, check out the first referral link below about certified refurbished items. Amazon’s customer service has always been fantastic for me as a customer (and pretty awesome for my spouse as a seller) and includes multiple ways to get a hold of them if something doesn’t work as advertised!

Referral links:

Shop Amazon Devices – Save on Certified Refurb  (includes Echo Dot device I mention above)

Prime Student – Earn a bounty for each 6-month trial you drive If you’re a student, you can get Amazon Prime for half off…that’s how I got started with Prime

Prime Discounted Monthly Offering I haven’t tried it, but there’s discounted Prime if you provide proof of EBT benefits. Let me know if it works.

 

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Disability Erasure And The Apocalyptic Narrative

Shoshana Kessock

This week hasn’t exactly been a fantastic time for me. Losing a parent can really make you get stuck in a maudlin, even slightly dark frame of mind. So it’s no secret that seeing photos coming out of Hurricane Harvey of elder folks near drowning in a nursing home due to lack of evacuation and inability to move well put me in a foul mood. It also got me thinking of conversations I’ve heard over the years about disability and the end of society.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. You and your friends are sitting around and having some beers, and the conversation turns to the apocalypse. Maybe you’re watching The Walking Dead, or reading Divergent, or even going to your favorite post-apocalypse live action roleplaying game. But in between talking about what happens if Daryl dies on the show and exchanging larp armor suggestions, someone…

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A real update

As anyone who has been following this blog can see, I’ve pretty much fallen off the blogging bandwagon and this happened over a year ago. The beginning of December 2015 was when I was kicked from my pain clinic for an opiate-related medication error (I was at an academic conference and accidentally messed up my meds, which showed up in the drug test they do for people on opiates…which is supposed to catch people abusing their meds or selling them, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant that I haven’t brought myself to write). I had a friend die, I had my dissertation chair get a new job with short notice, my sleep doctor found cardiopulmonary problems that are probably related to my birth defect, found out I have a (benign) tumor on my spine, then a teenage family member died, then one of my cats died last week…

In short, the past year has been tumultuous. My depression has been out of control for most of this year. I’ve considered quitting my PhD program repeatedly because of trying to find the right mix of faculty members to be on my committee (I have to have at least four members, two from my department, and the other two can’t be from the same department) as well as my pilot research crashing and burning (and with the current state of affairs in the U.S., finding grant money to make it happen is highly unlikely).

To channel my grief and frustration, I’m currently fostering a four month old puppy former stray who had an abscess removed for the local animal shelter. She’s an absolute sweetheart, but absolutely petrified of everything (except for my cat…she thinks he’s interesting). Even though it feels like almost everything else in my life is melting like a Salvador Dali painting, it feels good taking care of this puppy who will be with us while her stitches heal. She may only be with us for six days, but we’re showing her that people aren’t so bad. Even though fostering has a lot of unknowns, it feels stable and makes me feel like I have value and worth when my brain is telling me otherwise.

NWSA 2017 Fat Studies Call for Papers

Call For Proposals

National Women’s Studies Association 2017

Fat Studies Interest Group

November 16-19th in Baltimore, MD

Papers on any topic at the intersection of women’s studies/ feminism/ womanism/ gender/sexuality and fat studies will be considered. This year’s conference theme is: 40 Years after Combahee: Scholars and Activists Engage the Movement for Black Lives.

Your submission should fall under one of the sub-themes for NWSA 2017. Detailed descriptions can be found under the full CFP at: http://www.nwsa.org/Files/2017/CFPFinal2017.pdf)

  • Solidarities: Trans-national and local  
  • Arts and culture: How is social media & visual culture changing how we view, engage & change the world?
  • Revisiting intersectionality in theory and practice
  • Engaging, confronting and transcending the state
  • Sexualities and representations
  • Movement building and freedom-making
  • Violence, militarism, empire and trauma

While this is an open call, topic suggestions include, but are not limited to:

  • Women of Color and Fatness/Body Size
  • Transnational Fat Bodies (immigration, globalization)
  • Fat Sexualities (including asexuality, hypersexuality, deviant sexualities)
  • Fat Activism & Intersectionality
  • Fatness & Institutions
  • Visual culture, social media, and fat activism
  • Fat Masculinities
  • Defining and Refining Fat Studies
  • Fat Feminist Research Methods (including role of the researcher body)

If you are interested in being a part of the 2017 Fat Studies panels at NWSA, please send the following info by Wednesday, February 15, 2017 to NWSA Fat Studies Interest Group. CC BOTH Co-Chairs Katie Manthey and Candice Casas: (Katie.manthey@salem.edu and cdbuss@uncg.edu). Please make sure one of us confirms receipt of your submission.

Your submission should include your:

  • Name, Institutional Affiliation, Snail Mail, Email, Phone
  • NWSA Theme your paper fits under (and fat studies topic area/s if yours fits any of the above)
  • Title for your talk
  • A one-page, double-spaced abstract in which you lay out your topic AND its relevance to this session
  • An abstract of no more than 100 words (NWSA requirement)
  • Rationale for A/V equipment, if needed

Each person will speak for around 15 minutes, which will leave time for Q&A. In order to present with your name in the program, you must become a member of NWSA in addition to registering for the conference by the NWSA summer 2017 deadline.

If you submit a fat studies related paper or panel, you can tag it with the keyword ‘fat feminisms,’ and likewise search the program for ‘fat feminisms’ to find relevant panels. If you submit a paper or panel on your own, we encourage you to use this keyword if your paper or panel fits the bill. We thank NWSA for adding a keyword that helps conference attendees locate fat studies panels.

Academic nerdity

Since life lately has meant I’m either horrifically busy or sick, I’m going to post random things that are catching my interest so y’all know I’m still here 🙂 Today it’s journal article abstracts & links for things that are making me think or are things that others might be interested in. Unless otherwise noted, most of these are behind paywalls (but check out places like Academia.edu because some people will upload their papers there).

Renovating Body & Space

Sleeping around, with, and through time: An autoethnographic rendering of a good night’s slumber

‘Must I seize every opportunity?’ Complicity, confrontation, and the problem of researching (anti-) fatness

Using a smartphone app in qualitative research: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Leveraging the London 2012 Paralympic Games: What legacy for disabled people?

What’s in a word? On weight stigma and terminology (open access)

Stories of methodology: Interviewing sideways, crooked and crip (open access)

Paralympics links!

I’ve been in a bit of a blogging slump because of health issues, but I want to pass along some Paralympics coverage and commentary (partially because I just lectured to undergrad kinesiology majors about disability sport and physical activity, and partially because I did this for the London 2012 games when this was a baby blog)! I realize this is overdue as they’re over, but it’s something….

Here we go!

Upworthy: “Meet the woman who won the first gold medal in PT2 triathlon Paralympic history

How Did We Get Into This Mess?: “Sports and Disability

Rolling Stone (same author as above): “Paralympic Games: Why Playing Sports While Disabled is Always a Radical Act

Crippled Scholar: Can we talk about that Paralympics ad?

Upworthy: The amazing reason that medals at the Paralympics make a sound when you shake them

Enjoy!

 

Handicap Awareness at Gen Con

As a Gen Con attendee since 2012 (and other cons since 2008), these are things that are great to keep in mind n all sorts of large gatherings of people

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Gen Con is nigh! With less than two weeks to go before the best four days in gaming (as of the time I’m posting this), I’m not going to rehash what so many others have put out there; there are tons of blogs and articles out there with advice regarding large conventions like Gen Con. My advice is going to be different. I am going to rehash what I’ve posted in previous years (they’re my most popular posts!). To most of it, Wheaton’s Law applies. For those of you who are link-averse, Wheaton’s Law is this: Don’t be a dick.
However, the things about which I’m going to speak, are the sorts of things people are not aware they’re being dickish about. They’re not being malicious; they just don’t have any personal experience with these sorts of issues, so when they start breaking Wheaton’s Law, they don’t know they’re doing it…

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