Bad Inventions: The laptop girdle and the standing desk bra!

I have two new Bad Inventions for my collection of ideas that I will never implement and everyone is free to steal!

First, let me introduce the Laptop Girdle (or laptop belt)!

I often am working on my computer while lying on my back with knees and feet up on pillows to relieve strain in my low back and keep my painful ankles elevated. I’m sure many other people use their laptops in bed or on a couch lying down. One problem with this is the laptop needs to be specially propped up so it doesn’t slide upwards on your torso. Another problem is that your stomach or your belt can accidentally mess with the laptop track pad so that you suddenly click with your belly. I don’t even have that much belly and it happens all the time since my MacBook Air has very little space between the bottom edge of the laptop and the trackpad. Same with my belt. So, the Laptop Girdle will be a belt with a special groove meant to hold a laptop in place, immune from belly or belt-buckle clicks!

Also good for playing games on your ipad in bed!

The laptop belt is also useful for people who are sitting up with laptop ON THEIR ACTUAL LAP.

I think that boob clicks are also possible in this scenario so the laptop girdle must protect against boob clicks for those of us who are generously endowed.

Which thought leads us to . . . the Standing Desk Bra! Standing desks are amazingly popular with hipster programmers who aren’t me! There is one in my hotel room right now! Now, I am also not a person who needs a marvelously sturdy variety of bra which has the structural engineering of a suspension bridge. But for those of us who do wear amazingly constructed bras imagine if its support framework also had something that popped or folded out or attached on the underneath of the front of the bra, that would be a convenient shelf for your laptop, reading a book, or use as a handy drafting table! YES. The world needs Standing Desk Bras!

Please send me your drawings of these inventions as soon as possible so that we can make it happen. OR just make something like this and you are welcome to your ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

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The wtf-ological imperative

On the last day of Open Source Bridge I had a hilarious random encounter. I was taking some notes and making badges while listening to the lightning talks (which were great). A guy came up to me and gave me a post it note where he had written, “Wikipedia:” and then some links to articles on the categorical imperative, Karl Popper, and a couple more.

He said something like, “You might benefit from reading these, young lady.” Not sure what I said; something like “Ummm thanks. Why are you giving me this?” He said “I like SCIENCE.” I agreed that I also like science, asked his name, and shook his hand. Then I told him it was weird to call me young lady since I’m obviously old enough to be his mom. He went back to where he was sitting and the lightning talks carried on.

I really wondered what was going on. Had I ever met this person? Was he doing this with everyone or was he fixated on me for some reason? I looked at his web site. It didn’t seem odd. Maybe this was just a slightly socially awkward act, and not a Gift of Fear moment from a member of some odd corner of the manosphere. Maybe this is how Dark Enlightenment people try to make frenemies!

At some point later I was standing next to the same guy reading the unconference schedule. I asked him why he called me young lady and why he gave me those links. “Did I do or say anything in particular, at the conference, during my talks, blogging somewhere, that made you think I am in need of special education about empiricism?” He said everyone should have it. “Yes . . . but why me today? What is it? And why call me young lady? I’m 45. You look like you’re in your early 20s.” The guy said it was because of my tshirt. I was wearing my “End Patriarchy” shirt where the word patriarchy is in html markup as an “end” tag; a mildly nerdy feminist joke. He explained that he dislikes postmodernism. I said it was an odd thing to do. He then explained further that he calls every woman “young lady” and that even if I were 70 he would still call me that.

I had to leave the conference to catch my flight so missed out on this puzzling conversation, but I added as I went away that it wasn’t very polite and it seemed even not very empirical of him to classify me as young no matter what. I don’t always care about politeness, it isn’t that really; it’s that his action and the way he talked to me were mind-bogglingly condescending!

I thought about how communication generally happens. I have passed out flyers to people on the street or during rallies or events but usually not as a shorthand to tell them that they’re wrong in real life. Argument at that level generally happens in something that is framed as, well, argument, or public discourse, or has some other teaching, learning, or activist context. But perhaps my tshirt with its feminist joke is like an invitation to philosophical debate! Yes, I asked for it by wearing this outfit…. *snort* I think if this is going to be a movement, the enlightened ones need something more catchy than a torn pink post-it note. There should be some Kantian Chick Tracts for budding deontologists to hand out on the street to anyone who expresses some identity politics or looks like they might edit the Geek Feminism Wiki. Like creeper cards, but you just hand them to people who are sitting in a chair minding their own business! There could be a whole series of philosophical and political comic books that let feminists and other wrong headed folks know where we missed the logic train. It would be especially great as part of a cult to save our scientific souls! Like Less Wrong, but *even sillier*!

Maybe trading cards or a collectible card game so that I could whip out an Instant and like, counterspell the dude’s Karl Popper with a Paul Feyerabend card drawn by Katja Foglio. It really needs more elegance and fun to be playable!

In short I could not take this moment seriously and had trouble believing it even happened. So I honor that WTF by pausing a moment to record it for all time and make fun of it on the internet.

Chick tract

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Top Ten Useful Mobility Gadgets

Here’s my top picks for useful hacks for cripples.

Think about getting some of these for older people who might need help but don’t want to be seen as disabled. Seriously, once they try a bathtub rail they’ll never go back. The boomer generation has not really tapped into all this. I don’t even know what you call the generation before boomers… but they’re hopeless, they won’t use it till they’re losing it. I dunno, maybe if you make it all tie dyed or decorate it with hippie beads, or make that junk look like a ridiculous fancy sports car. Gen X will be so much easier, they will go for the duct tape and stickers as I have. We’re cheap that way. Pretend it’s a skateboard… whatever…

And now, the top 10!

1) A good wheelchair

Beg, borrow, or steal a really nice, light chair. You could always boot someone else out of theirs if they’re more crippled than you are. I like my Quickie x-frame but I’d rather have a nifty Ti-lite, Zephyr, or Boing. If you are in one and you see me watch out because I might kick your ass.

2) Fancy walkers

Walkers with a built in place to park your butt and a bike basket on the front. I’ve never had one but they appear to rock. There is a certain panache to the old-school ones with tennis balls on the back legs. But the new-style walkers seem way more useful for shopping or standing (sitting) in line. (Although I always want to slap people who har-har and comment that they wish they could sit down in line too. Hey, dumbass, want to sit down? Just sit on the floor then, nothing is stopping you, no need to comment on my wheelchair…)

3) A reacher/grabber

Any of them are okay, but I like one with a textured gripping claw. I can pick stuff up off the floor with my 3-foot long robotic cyborg arm! I can get coffee mugs from off the shelves way up high!

4) A bathtub rail
Lumex makes a great portable one, very easy to install. It’s like a rubberized vise grip that grabs onto the rim of your bathtub. It makes getting in and out of the bathtub easy and not scary.

They seriouly market this shit all wrong. It looks hospitally and geriatric. They need to be all like “COOL-ASS GNARLY FREAKY BATHTUB RAIL”. And it needs to have flames.

5) Fancy canes

Oh there are such fabulous fancy canes out there. Flowered ones, scrolly gold ones, and most of them fold up in segments. Mod it up with a velcro strap to keep it closed. There is even a vibrating cane! File off its sharp handle edges for a little more ergonomics in your vibrating fun.

6) Pockets

Get pockets in your clothes. Seriously now! A guayabera is very nice – a Cuban shirt with 2 top and 2 bottom pockets. Why get up. Just carry your junk all around with you. Photographer vests are good. What the hell, who cares if they’re ugly, they’re useful.

7) Duct tape and stickers

Huzzah, duct tape! Modify anything! Build pockets for your crutches or a cup holder for your wheelchair. Then, decorate them.

8) Phone holster

Wear your phone on your belt. Don’t put things in your back pockets any more. You have to lean forward to get them out of your pockets. Screw that.

9) The perfect wheelchair shopping cart

No one has invented this yet, but I thought of two ways to do it.

– Easy-install clamps that would go from the lower front of the chair to the lower back of a child-size shopping cart.

– a lap basket that clamps onto the chair’s sides, so it hovers just off your lap and the weight doesn’t rest on you.

10) Booze and painkillers

I just had a seriously painful nerve conduction study where I got like 20 zillion electric shocks to my leg with needle electrodes and this taser thing and they also wiggled the needles. While I was crying and screaming and naked and covered in snot. Now I can’t walk even more. I swear to god. I’m already crippled, now I have to be tortured? Pass the bottle please. Again.

I’ll just go drool over the chairs on that Colours site again… thanks…

No, wait, I have some honorable mentions for useful gadgets. Shelves, heating pads, electric blankets, sippy cups, trays, and keys on straps around your neck! Add more in comments!

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Geek dress code, Silicon Valley version

Skud blogged a very funny comparison of geek vs. non-geek dress codes. I think the geek code allows for a more fine-grained analysis!

THE GEEK DRESS CODE
With elements of clothing listed in order of ascending formality
================================================================

Shirts:

Tshirt your mom bought you at Kmart when you were in high school. Ill fitting; 80s colored; perhaps with abstract designs.
Tshirt for tech company, probably white, grubby, boring.
Tshirt for unboring tech company or science fictional thing.
Cool tech tshirt, black.
Cool tech tshirt, black, tucked in, with belt.
Snarky geek tshirt perhaps from threadless or Thinkgeek; tight fitting to show off boobs and/or muscles.
Snarky geek shirt with sports jacket; best multitool on belt.

Underwear:

Underwear worn yesterday, turned inside out.
Underwear your parents or s.o. got you for a utilitarian present.
Underwear that is actually cute and fits, that you bought for yourself.
Underwear with snarky geek saying on it. Impressive!

Pants:

Baggy pants, too short, bought in high school by mom; used to be either green, grey, black, or brown; now a greyish nothing-color; holes optional.
Jeans.
Jeans without prominent holes.
The “nice” jeans; no holes, no stains; they fit.
Black jeans!
Pants that are not jeans but are not quite suit pants either -OR- a misguided Utilikilt.

Skirts:

Long flowing hippie skirt, unfashionable, no underwear, or boxers
Skirt that is more current style of some sort.
Miniskirt and combat boots ( with snarky tshirt, multitool, and jacket, this is punk geek formal).
Ball gown of amazing ridiculousness, with sneakers.
Actual fancy dress that looks fantastic, with girly shoes (to be used sparingly).

Bras:

None.
Tank top.
Tank top with shelf thing built in.
Actual bra, scungy.
Fun colored lacey bra -OR- none, with Snarky geek shirt, tight.

Stockings:

Mismatched white tube socks.
White socks.
Black socks.
Fun socks.
Tights.
Ironic leg warmers.
Stripey knee socks.
Stripey thigh highs.
Fishnets, pristine.
Fishnets, artistically torn, with safety pins. Especially on guys. Guys, y’all are taking notes, right?

Accessories acceptable for dressing up:

Laptop backpack.
Laptop bag, fancy.
Laptop modded in any way; stickers; etching; plastic case.
A funky vest. (For hippie chicks or old unix sys admins).
Pocketwatch. (Sys admins ONLY).

We could keep going, I’m sure! I can’t even begin to touch upon shoes.

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