June 30, 2003

the value of domestic labor

Category: Alzheimers,Health — Biella @ 7:43 pm

Now I know why there are less women on the web, blogging, and doing other cool shit–> Domestic Labor. I am here in PR helping out my mom who is sick with a rare form of alzheimers called posterior cortical atrophy. We did not know what was wrong with my mom for a long time and it was a New Yorker article by Oliver Sacks who writes about strange and rare neurological conditions that made us realize what was going on with my mom.

PCA is a form of alzheihmers (so they think because really it seems like so little is known about it in the first place) in which your spatial coordination is basically short circuited. She can see functionally but she cannot act and behave as if she can see because her sense of space and spatiality is pretty much warped.

It means that I have to do a lot for her right now although she has developed little tricks to help her get by. She functions a lot through memory, knowing for example that all the forks are in the first drawer. She has to feel around a lot for things and is oriented a lot by color which she already tended to love. It is sad though as my mom was such a spatial visual person especially in the last twenty years when she turned to art during her own mid-life crisis. A real tragedy for someone who already has had a pretty tragic life.

As I care for her (and she is still functional enough to do a lot of things on her own but can’t do some basic things at times, like use a phone), and cook and do some of the cleaning in the house, it has really made me see how hard domestic labor is. It is especially harder when you are supposed to manage the lives of others, usually a mother having to manage a lot of details about the kids, and other things like keeping up the house which is a lot more than cleaning I am discovering.

Frankly, I am wiped from it all and also disturbed from this experience of parenting before being a parent. Domestic labor and parenting are forms of labor that are so under-valued and kept well hidden as significant yet the world would fall to pieces if it were not for it. Wall street could vanish and life would go on. Care giving in whatever form is essential.

It makes me mad to think of of all the women who labored at home and never got much recognition for it all the while money was usually kept in the hands (or at least managed) by the supposed bread winner. One can win bread only if the wife is at home baking the damn bread or at least buying it and doing a lot more.

Also, working mothers who have no hired help at home probably have it way worse. I think that though men more than ever are partaking in the domestic sphere, women, by default take up most of the domestic slack. They just get fed up with having to hound a partner about help or feel at some commonsense cultural level that that is their duty do do the bulk of the work so they end up doing more of the house work.

Doing serious “learning” and “creating” type work, whether it is writing, programming, networking, music, requires chunks of focused time. Domestic labor and duties really take away from that sort of time that is needed to really delve deep into something. I am feeling the brunt of it now, tired after a day of like a million small little errands and cooking. Even blogging feels hard. A lesson learned though, that is for sure.

June 24, 2003

the non-pleasures of driving

Category: Personal — Biella @ 7:05 pm

I have not had a car in a long while and now I am back driving in one of my least favorite places to drive–> PR. I love it here, I hate driving here. Not only do drivers not let you change lanes, they speed up when you switch lanes while drivers stop about 10 feet after the stop sign or intersection to see if you will stop first so that they sneak ahead of you. I feel like these driving patterns are like a mini-windows into a colonial mindset in which people are trying to see what they can get away because they are already in a lousy situation. No one really let’s anyone go, so you have to fight your way through so you find yourself in a catch 22. If you wait till someone lets you go you might be waiting forever, so your lurch forward. Given the tapones (jams) and given the tons of street construction right now, you really might be waiting for a very long time… Wonder if driving patterns would change with if the status changed to independence or statehood?? :-)

And then what about the potholes here? Is it lousy engineering or the rain? Whatever the case, your car is in constant danger of getting busted, nice tax dollars at work.

Bitter? No, I mean, 5 hours in a car today just gives one time to think of these things…

June 22, 2003

strange delights

Category: Personal — Biella @ 8:24 pm

Today has been a strange day, which is not unusual in PR which is a land of strange delights. This morning, my mom, sister, Chinny, Micah, and I headed to Caimito to the Zen Center de Puerto Rico where we did a little of that meditation thing. It has been a while since I have done the sitting thing and I was reminded how hard it is just to sit…. and be still…. and listen to the rustling leaves. The head monk, Wanda, gave a nice “charla” (talk) about ego, attachment, and how the self seeks forms of pleasure, to the excess, which helps to keep the self seperate (in that sort of how I experience the world sort of way) from all else and in a state of dis-unity.

Back in San Juan, before heading to the beach, we ran into a horse protest, which was a lot like critical mass because the riders were on the streets, letting other drivers know that horses should be allowed on the streets and that spaces should be created/preserved for horses. That riding is at was at once a form of transportation, a cultural activity, and sport. Given the extreme urbanization and concretization of this little isle, this was a powerful environmental and cultural message wrapped in one, with lots of street manure ;-)

At the beach, we were watching a volleyball final as part of the festival for “San Juan” (Noche de San Juan is tomorrow night, the tradition being that you walk into the ocean 7 times backwards for good luck) when we got a phone call from my cousin whose business partner works and lives down here to see if we wanted to go on a helicopter ride. Sure, why not? Start the day with meditation being warned of the excess of pleasure and end the day with those same forms of pleasure that a small class of folk experience as a daily fact ;-)

June 19, 2003

gender changers

Category: Politics — Biella @ 5:56 am

gender changers is holding registration for their second summer electic tech festival in Greece. Looks incredible…..

June 18, 2003

Made it

Category: Personal — Biella @ 8:42 pm

We made it yesterday morning after flying all night via jet blue airlines which has direct TV. Being that the mad next to me snored all night long, I watched cheesy 80s videos on VH1 Classic. Sort of re-living my past as I was flying back to my past.

I think I am somewhat recovered from the all night trip and jet lag but I am still hazy (also I am back to thinning my caffeine consumption, which will leave me dazed and confused for a long time). Tonight I went to see some activist movies sponsored by the Puerto Rico IMC which just recently formed. The videos were great although you could not hear too well due to the colonial architecture of the buidling we were in. Tall as hell ceilings made for bouncy acoustics. The turn out was really large and it was great to see that they have been approved and now they need to get their site up.

June 16, 2003

Sailing Awayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

Category: Personal — Biella @ 3:49 pm

All right, not sailing, flying, on Jet Blue to PR–> Red Eye, yuck, at least the salt water will sting at first but soon soothe. So, I am almost out of SF and I have yet to write my long SF rant but at least I got the
karaoke photos up. More narrative is needed, but basically it, ROCKED and of course, karaoke is a strange bird, so it attracted some strange things, whether it was a random couple who had met like 2 hrs earlier and were making OUT like rabbits or the group of Japanese tourists that sang and swayed with us for awhile. It was great fun but I need to really get out of here, so sato will be back soon, blogging from where the sato really roams….

June 15, 2003

Karaoke Hangover

Category: Personal — Biella @ 1:02 pm

I have a karaoke hangover, like for real. I am so out of it. I must have sung like 10-15 songs. My lips are dry, my body is sore from packing, moving, and dancing and now I have to finish my interview with Seth Schoen. I also was reminded that today is father’s day via Google. You don’t just find stuff online but it reminds you about things like needing to call your father.

More later with photos from the party…

June 14, 2003

One More Thing–The Ethical Dance

Category: Anthropology — Biella @ 12:09 am

If you have ever wondered what it is like to do research with and on Debian developers, here is a short movie that captures, with swift detail, the joy, the wonder, that is fieldwork on and with Debian hackers.

Shot in the offices of the EFF during my goodbye party, I was speaking to a friend about ethicalization on Debian. To my right, is one Debian developer (you can immediately idenitify him via his swirly shirt which he wears with total pride) and a prospective Debian developer, who we can call “Barney” to keep his identity private.

Just as I am talking about the minutiae of embodied practices that promote ethical adoption on Debian, the two fellows on my right are doing what I shall call “the ethical dance”, the Debian developer carefully leading the prospective developer into the new dance moves that will refine his ethical skills to match those of his hacking skills. I mimic the punches as I explain to my friend the intricacies of the dance, that only take on ever more enigmatic dimensions when done online, in the so called dismebodied realm. The depth of the dance only takes on new added deepness to make up for the shallowness of bodies…

The movie ends panning out to a very tan and jolly Karl Marx (yes of Kapital fame), who nods in deep satisfaction with the realization that ethical doing (materialism) and not just ethical thinking (idealism)
is in full swing right before his eyes.

Enjoy, it has taken me a long time to figure this ritual out….

June 13, 2003


Category: Uncategorized — Biella @ 10:39 pm

I am nearly done packing. Really. The bike, the books, files, odds and ends. Even my bags to PR are almost packed. I still have 1/2 of my stuff to move to my friend’s basement but otherwise I am nearly done. I mean sure there is lots of stuff left to do: find a hub, get my free 45 day earthlink account activated (it is mysteriously not working), ship a couple of boxes, email and email, write my reflections on SF, see friends and of course karaoke tomorrow night. If you are in town, please come at 8:00 to Ocean beach. I promise it will RawK. Bonfires are fun, karaoke bonfires are HOT.

But now I am tired, so tired lying on my bed (loving wireless), my brain nagging me to get offline till I am better equipped to deal with with typing, computers, blogs and all…

June 11, 2003

On the beauty of TeX

Category: Tech — Biella @ 11:42 pm

The other day in the car, I realized that LaTeX was like one great social hack. It makes that which does not look clever and smart, look clever and smart, a point made here.

I wish there was a way to make moving feel a lot easier than it is and I guess there is one: $$$$$ But right now all I have is time and labor and not the green ones so I am swimming in dust, boxes, books, files, packing away, and I can’t say that I enjoy any of it right now.