(sliding) doors

January 24, 2019

as a pragmatist, I’m conscious that automated doors can be expensive or impractical for disability toilets but i don’t understand why some doors are really heavy and require at least two people to open it (and keep it open).  Some of them aren’t designed properly:  there are doors that open the wrong way, there are quite a few doors where you’ve got to form a plan in order to open a door with a walking aid or wheelchair, and there was even one where you couldn’t close the door with a walker inside.  Moreover, there are locks that are problematic as well: some don’t indicate when they’re locked (or are not that obvious to the occupant), there are a few double locks so you’re not sure which to use (and sometimes you need to use both as the engaged indicator is seperate), and few locks require fine, manual dexterity to operate.  It underscores how compliance isn’t a substitute about thinking about the practicalities of actual use.


stranger in a strange land

November 9, 2018

we were recently in Japan for my wife’s conference.  she usually doesn’t bring me and my son but my in-laws were also overseas – while I can manage on my own (admittedly, with some difficulty), I can’t look after my son and all his needs.  It was a holiday tacked on to a business trip.  There’s a lot to unpack so where do I begin.

language problems were common so my wife had great difficulty arranging for an accessible room for me.  Once she said “accessible” and got “accessi” as a clarification. Another time, she mentioned with enough space to accommodate a “wheelchair” she was told that there was no “chair” in the room only a “sofa”.  Apparently, they refer to it as “barrier-free” over there but knowing that fact didn’t really help.  Thankfully, she had a relative there that could speak the language.  She facilitated the search but some things were still lost in translation.  We managed to get a room that fit all three of us (instead of the two rooms that seemed at one time, the only option for us).  However, they could only manage a short, plastic stool instead of a shower chair so my wife helped me to sit down so I could shower by myself (and not have to get her wet in the process). To some extent, this reminded me of a few of the challenges that we faced in US hotels.  One of the “accessible” rooms was on the ground floor but there were only stairs entering the hotel – luckily there was a rail i could use to go up and down.  Moreover, my wife had to help me shower.  There was another room were the bathroom was suitable but getting there on my own was problematic: a bed effectively blocked my path.  There too was no ramp at the hotel’s entrance but there were also steps and a rail for me to hold onto.

most of their street cuts were too “high” – so my son and I had to help my wife get me on the pavement as my combination, “lighter”. travel walker/wheelchair doesn’t allow for “self-propel”-tion. And, most lifts could only hold me and my family (did I mention I’m claustrophobic and try to avoid elevators if possible – I know, ironic for someone who has difficulty walking and can’t use escalators or travelators) as well as difficulty getting me out of typically-narrow hallways.  That said, we took trains most of the time (as taxis were really much more expensive but occasionally depending on the destination we didn’t have much choice ) because all platforms were (eventually) reachable via lift(s) (granted some were outside the station, some times you had to take more than one, some escalators could be made wheelchair-friendly with the assistance of staff (a first for me) and it’s not for people who are easily lost/poor at directions) and there were prominent “gaps” on to and off a few trains.  But this was better than our prior experience, as we learned first-hand, there were only a few elevators (only select stations had them and they weren’t always working) on the New York subway.

In 2020, Tokyo will host the Paralympics.  In my mind, that’s both good and necessary.  Usually, hotels have only one or two barrier-free rooms despite UN WHO stating that about 10% of the world’s population identifying as disabled.  Sure, not all of them require mobility or sensory aids but that’s still grossly disproportionate.   We missed the mad-rush for hotels in making rooms more accessible by a month.  Like America, the intention is there.  It only goes to show that it’s only not just an issue of wealth or access to technology but about education.  Originally I was upset  (admittedly, i still sometimes do in very extreme cases but you shouldn’t hold it against people for their ignorance but inform them of the proper “etiquette” (and the often unintended consequences of their actions).  Say what you will about Australia’s shortcomings when it comes to disability but i’m yet to find another country that does it better.




we recently came back from an interstate trip.   we watched a concert, ate somewhere I wanted to go and caught up with good friends while we were there.  I don’t say it enough but I had a wonderful time with my family. I reflected on what I have (hopefully I’ll be more conscious of the things I need to be grateful for).

In some ways it’a blessing that my condition is unknown – that way I don’t have a set expiry date and are encouraged to make the most of each day.  I don’t know when “my last good day is” so I should try to make the most while I still am able to.

It’s true what they say:  something just clicks.  It’s not about when other people prescribe  you should be “ready” but when you realise it for yourself (for some it’s about “hitting rock bottom”).  It’s about others facilitating but not dictating.

I’ve made a deliberate choice to try to make hay of the resources given to me while I still can (but still remaining pragmatic – I’ve a son and wife after all).

last Sunday, we took my wife’s cousin and her husband for lunch at Stamps in Mitcham.  It was to treat them for staying at our house while we were away.  Also, it was an excuse for us to eat out. I’m thrifty but I don’t mind spending on food.  The way I view food is not purely utilitarian: you eat just not to live. It’s okay not to like things if you’ve at least tried them.  That said, certain things are an acquired taste so you need to exercise some judgement.

I think delayed gratification can pay dividends.  I save so that I can afford what I want.  Little things eventually add up.  I draw distinctions on pure needs versus mere wants. I set aside funds for the future and for a rainy day – not just hoping the present will go on without some hitch.  You can’t only think of the here and now but also consider the long-term.  We are not as invincible as we think so we better be prepared.

It’s partly who I am but I think my parents and grandparents helped imbue fiscal responsibility.  Even at a tender age I was taught to use money wisely and to not just look for bargains but real value.  My life experiences also help.  In school, I saw some of my classmates practically “throw” money away.  At home, I was fortunate enough to see our financial standing improve – without the earlier days, I would be hard-pressed to be “grounded”.  I’ve heard of stories in Ayala Alabang of individuals who found it hard to adjust to “diminished” fiscal resources.

I always used to wonder why I was given a “lump sum” for uni while my other siblings received weekly allowances.  I guess it can be viewed as vote of confidence – they knew I would have a go at making the money last.  In the end, I managed the funds well enough last for my entire stay at college.  Moreover, I “stretched” my meager student’s stipend to help subsidise local trips with my now wife during breaks.  There is a method to my madness.

I’m also learing hot to “cheat” in oder to bring balance.  As with most things. moderation seems to be the key.

midnight oil

February 22, 2012

the price of a barrel of oil went up again to the chagrin of most people.  we need to do something about our reliance on fossil fuels.

the death of distance

February 15, 2012

everyone was looking at Greece with the European “bailout” with bated breath to avert GFC 2.0.  in a world where economies are so intertwined, even an “isolated” continent such as Australia is not exempt from financial woes.  i agree with Thomas Friedman that there needs to be a balance of fear and greed for capital markets to remain in check.