Greetings from Washington, DC

I have spent the past 10 days in DC for conferences and playtime. Jehan tagged along too.

· DC is an imperial city. Large, dominating architecture. Roads lined with marble curbs. A better name for it would have been “New Rome.”

· DC is also a holy city — coincidentally, like old Rome. It is the centre for America’s true religion: the constitution.

· Relatedly — and I’ve said this before when travelling through southern Europe — we in the West are all Romans. Though the empire fell, the Roman civilization never did. Pay attention and you will see it everywhere, but it is palpable in DC.

· Since arriving, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m being watched — all the time. There are police, of all varieties, everywhere you go. Now think about the ones you can’t see. Now think about the cameras.

· And you think twice about what you say in public — even jokingly. It’s like the entire city is an airport. It sucks.

· Segregation, segregation, segration. It lives.

· There are a lot of homeless in DC — in epidemic proportions. And I can’t figure out why.

· People say that Americans have no culture, especially food culture. But that’s silly. You will find magnificent southern fare in DC.

· DC’s best quality? Free, amazing art galleries. Oh, and Shophouse.



[Photo thanks to Jehan’s super-amazing shenanigans]

2015

In 2015, I…

· Formulated a theory of high-end disruption.
· Became a transportation economist.
· Celebrated the summer solstice, all night.
· Got engaged.
· Almost got married.
· Lost my Shisha.
· Gained one partner and two roommates.
· Celebrated the winter solstice.
· Continued hard work for the future.
· Which is why I neglected this blog — in its 10th anniversary, no less.

My mantra for 2015 was “You’ve got to be willing to crash and burn.”
My mantra for 2016 will be “Be less polite.”

Sugars [Later post from 2008]

An interesting story….

When I was, say,  7 years old, my friend/classmate Jonathan had a Batman costume for Halloween which he wore to school to show off (by the way, I used to looovvvvvvvee Batman). Oh how beautiful that costume was. I wanted one for myself!!

I told my mom and dad about it and, since Halloween was still 2 days away, they instructed me to ask Jonathan where his parents bought his costume. So the next day (October 30th), I asked him where he got the costume. “Sugar” he said. “Huh?” I said. “Sugar!” I was very confused — that’s an odd name for a costume store, I thought to myself.

But anyway, I told my mom and dad that the place to get the best Halloween costume ever was at “Sugar”. Unfortunately, no one (including my parents) had ever heard of a store called “Sugar”.

So what do you do when the internet doesn’t exist yet and so you can’t Google the store you’re looking for….? You drive around looking for it! Which is what we did….for 2 hours.

Alas we never found it. I always assumed 7-year old Jonathan didn’t know what he was talking about.

Why is this important? It’s not. But in 50 years when my memory isn’t that great I’ll be able to come back and read this story and remember something about my childhood.

Oh yeah, and I saw the store on Avenue Road while driving home from work the other day. It really was called Sugars.

True story.

Ms. Alisha Lee

My lovely niece, Alisha, passed away several months ago. She was very loved.

Whenever I think about Alisha, even when she was alive, I get very upset because of how unfair the world was to her. I don’t mean unfair in the sense of the severe physical disability she had to live with her whole life — that sucked, but was a random thing that happened and was no one’s fault. I mean unfair in the ways the world around her treated her that were completely unrelated to her disability — or at least should have been unrelated to her disability.

An example: When Alisha was trying to work a way to attend York University — which is technically in Toronto, right at the Steeles border — she was unable to get wheeltrans service to the university because York Region wheeltrans isn’t allowed to leave York Region borders. Hard as she tried, she was unable to find a reasonable workaround this issue — and why the fuck should she even have to spend her time doing that? Sigh. Alisha didn’t want special treatment or accommodation — she just wanted common sense. All that was needed for this non-problem to go away was for one bureaucrat in the wheeltrans system to recognize the intent of the rule, that this was an exceptional circumstance where the rule did not apply, and to turn their head the other way and stamp approval. Just one person in the long chain of approvals needed to have that little bit of courage, and little bit of empathy. Alas, bureaucrats are incentivized to follow rules — very rigidly — nevermind the intention.

There are countless examples I can give similar to this one, occurring at many points in Alisha’s life, whether in the education system or health system or legal system or transit system or even the tax system, and which I don’t want to discuss here. These obstacles were never related to Alisha’s disability directly, but were the result of misaligned, one-size-fits-all, know-it-all systems. Too many people in the cog resolving: “That’s not my department. Hey, I don’t make the rules.” No empathy, no courage.

Nobody wants special treatment or special accommodation — people just want empathy. And it’s not fair.

Out of Office

Just came across my auto-reply message from when I was away for a year back in 2012-2013. It made me chuckle.

Hello! And thank you for your message!

Unfortunately, I am not in the office until September 3, 2013. That 2013 is not a typo. I may respond to your email once I return, but I cannot make any guarantees. In the meantime, you may want to contact Xxxx Yyyy (xxxx.yyyy@ontario.ca) instead.

Be well,
Sina.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts [Later post from 2012]

An unnamed person told me the I’m strange for the following reasons:

1) I find and make geocaches
2) I spontaneously do big things, like decide to bike from Niagara to Toronto and then do it 4 days later
3) I have a blog
4) I have a blog that no one reads

Here are my rebuttals:

1) geocaching is the sh**
2) okay fine, but that’s not strange — it’s called courage
3) lots of people have blogs!
4) popularity should have nothing to do with it!