Category Archives: NaBloPoMo 2010

Yep, I’m blind

This post might sound like I’m complaining, but I’m really not.

For the most part, the fact that I’m blind just kinda lives in the background layer of my life. It’s not something I constantly think about, it doesn’t define me, but it’s a huge part of my life, obviously. Listening to my screen reader every day or interacting with jayden are constant reminders, but they aren’t bad reminders.

Not long ago, when the budget made me wait before I could download a book, I actually thought, ‘I’ll just borrow one from B.’ Um, wait no, that won’t work. It’s thoughts like that that make me forget I’m blind. No really. I forget. The way I live now is such the norm that I forget I’m missing a vital sense.

Then there are days like today, where lots of little things add up for a bbig whopping reminder. If I’m not careful, these things can leave me feeling helplesss.

It started off with not being able to find Timmy this morning, to lock him up before taking Jayden out. Tears threatened to spill at the feeling powerless of it all. B got up and found the stupid cat. Great.

Then just picking up Jayden’s waste was a reminder. He picked a spot right by the stupid bush and I practically sat on the bush. Then I couldn’t find the poop. I hate landscape rocks. Try feeling around landscape rocks with your hand swathed in plastic, waiting to feel squishy. Ewww.

Then when I set my coffee down on my laptop cart, my cell phone went flying. Then I couldn’t negotiate the lining up of USB chord and port. Frustrating making.

What topped it all off was my heater wasn’t blowing very hot so I called maintenence. I had thought we were changing the filter regularly, but apparently we had forgotten. Also, the vent in front of the filter was caked with grime, which the maintenence guy vacuumed off. If I could see, I would have replaced the filter, I would have noticed the muck and cleaned it. Just another glaring reminder. Then he showed me where the doors to the hall closet, which are ventilated doors to allow air flow, are getting dirty too. I ran my hand along the slats and cringed.

Like I said, most of the time this stuff just doesn’t bother me. In fact, my life has gotten pretty awesome since going blind. After all, I wouldn’t have Jayden and I wouldn’t know you all.

Unfortunately when the reminders hit, other things that might be a nagging bother get blown up. The latest one? How on earth will I make sure the formatting for my novel is correct when it comes time to submit my first fifty pages to an agent? How am I going to make sure it’s a Microsoft document when I use an Apple? Will I need sighted help just to make sure the novel isn’t a formatting disaster?

Granted, I’m a ways away from submission. I’ve got about 60,000 words, but no ending yet, having taking a break from it for a few days.

Anyway, just some observations. Ever have one of those days where *everything* reminds you you’re blind?

Oh, and a discussion on Facebook has me thinking too. I haven’t decorated for Christmas since going blind. There are a few reasons, like B’s cats not being trained to stay away from things and fear that if a cat were to knock off an ornament, Jayden might eat it. Really though, what’s the point?

I’m sure lots of blinks decorate for Christmas. But I just don’t see the point in expending my already short supply of energy on digging out the suitcase full of decorations from my mess of a store room, putting everything up, worrying about the cats, and not even being able to see it. Why bother?

I might be bah humbug about it but, oh well. B wouldn’t care anyway and he’s the only one who could see it. I do miss my decorations, and maybe I get a little bummed at the thought of them. Maybe I’ll think about digging them out…but therein lays a whole ‘nother blink problem: finding it in the mess of the storage room without killing myself. Yeah, no point.

Ok, that’s it, really. 😉

7 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, blind opinion, cats, holiday, I might be a writer, Jayden, Microsoft, NaBloPoMo 2010, random stuff, spoons, Timmy

Where is my motivation?

I cannot get motivated. It’s cold. Cold and windy. I think the heater is sucking my energy. I have plenty of indoor stuff I need to do, like the cleaning I’ve been slacking on. All I want to do is read. I need motivation! Desperately! But It’s cold. And it’s warm on the couch with Jayden. My body doesn’t feel like moving to get the vacuuming done. I don’t even feel like writing or crocheting. Have you seen my motivation? Is there an ambition lost and found? Hmmm.

3 Comments

Filed under Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, random stuff, weather

Artsy fartsy me

A silly blog post

writing it all in haiku

because I’m a dork.

It is sad making,

I just finished downloading

Westerfeld’s last book.

Not really his last book,

the last one available

to get from iTunes.

Oh well at least I

can enjoy another one

before October.

For in the tenth month

Goliath will be released

happy making, yes.

If you will comment

challenge yourself to haiku:

be silly like me!

Five and then seven

finish with five you will find

a silly poem!

8 Comments

Filed under Audio books, iTunes, NaBloPoMo 2010, random stuff, silly girl

Being wireless

I love wireless! I’ve wanted wireless headphones for awhile now, especially back during baseball season. I just never really looked into it. Then back in October when B bought me the wireless keyboard, I realized just how cool having wireless headphones would be, since I don’t have to be tied to a screen.

Wireless headphones are like the only thing Apple doesn’t seem to make, but on their website they recommended a pair of Motorola Bluetooth headphones. From the reviews, it seems as though they would work with the laptop, so I found them cheap on Amazon and ordered them.

They totally sucked. The paring was easy, but Alex sounded like he was talking from a storm drain. No internet audio worked, no baseball, no youtube. The sound quality was crap for iTunes. They just plain sucked. They had that classic Bluetooth clicking that was just awful.

So I looked into USB headphones. I had found out from a techie at a small electronics store that Logitech products work well for both PC and Mac, and from the reviews and the product description, they sounded like a good bet. They were much more than the Bluetooth ones, so I was waiting.

Yesterday B went to Best Buy. Yes, on black Friday. He found the headphones and made sure the packaging said they were both Mac and PC compatible and they were. They were the ones I had looked up on amazon after finding out about the awesomeness that is Logitech.

He brought them home and we had to attack the fortress of packaging to free them. B looked at the instructions and said something about a light on the transmitter being a certain color if it was communicating with the headphones. I didn’t even have to charge them!

There’s a little transmitter, about the size of a thumb drive that plugs into your USP port. There’s a little expansion cable but I don’t so much get the point of it, that you can attach it to. I attached it to it, just to have a larger thing so I’m less likely to lose it.

On Pc’s, I’ve heard they work right away. I had read that with Mac, you need to go into System Preferences, select audio, then select the headphones from the drop down for output devices. The headphones showed up immediately and once I selected them, Alex came through them in all his human sounding glory.

To get the computer’s audio back, you need to unplug the transmitter or reselect the built in output, which is kind of a bummer, but I don’t mind. It’s easy with the laptop. Also, you charge them right from a USB cable, and you can use them wired if you need to charge them while using.

The buttons are fairly straight forward on the right ear piece. I can control the computer’s volume right from the buttons. There is an on/off switch, not a button, which I like because I can really tell when they’re off.

There’s a swiverl microphone attached to the left ear piece. I doubt I’ll ever use it unless I make my one Skype call per year, so I can’t say anything about that. The headphones have the behind the head design and just like with any of these design, the tops of the ears can get a little irritated. They are fairly light weight though, and fit snugly on my ears. The cushion on the earphones is comfortable.

I immediately tested youtube and heard the internet media just fine. I walked around the apartment listening to a video and it was fine. I started an audio book and went outside. The sound was crystal clear.

I just love them! It is wonderful to not be tethered to the computer, to not get tangled in the chord, to not struggle with the chord while putting the headphones away.

I have’t noticed any interference with phones, cell or cordless. I can take my wireless keyboard and get on my computer from anywhere in the house. I’m so excited!

No one is paying me to write this, and I’m not hooked up with Amazon. If you’re interested in these headphones, they are the Logitech Wireless Headset H760.

I highly recommend. They are a bit pricey, but totally worth it! I can’t wait for baseball! I won’t miss a single pitch!

2 Comments

Filed under Alex, Amazon, apple Inc, baseball, cool product, NaBloPoMo 2010, proud geek, techie tips, treat for me

Conceptualizing a redesigned guide dog harness

Through the ether, a university student has found my blog and has asked for help with her school project. I think it’s an awesome idea for a project, and volunteered to help pass the word and help her gather information. Here’s what she wrote when I asked her why she was asking the questions she asked, I will post after her description:

“The reason why I need the feedback from the users is that I am a Industrial Design Student at U of I and I am working on an International Housewares Student Design Competition. I picked Pets category at first and found out that most of the pet products are overpriced and unnecessary after volunteered to help at a pet show in Taiwan . Then I saw the flyer of a Guide Dog Organization and I realized how meaningful guide dogs are yet not many people have noticed it. So after some research, I decided to redesign the Guide Dog harness. Users feedback are one of the most important part in a design process. I need to know how the users feel and think to be able to put myself into their shoe. Beth has been helping me a lot through this process. However, I need more of a variety of users experience that is why I made this survey.”

Isn’t that cool???
The Beth referred to is Beth fink who had contacted me before about Eva’s project, and gave Eva the link to a post I wrote about a day Jayden and I had.

If I’m not being very coherant, my apologies. I’ve been fighting a migraine since yesterday.

Anyway, Eva needs our help gathering information for her project, due at the end of the year. She’s sent me some of her concepts, which I have to say are pretty darned cool.

Here’s her survey, copied from her comment

“1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

Thank you so much for taking time doing this survey.
Much appreciate your help.”

If you are so inclined to answer her questions, you can leave your answers in a comment here, or email her at: eva617 at gmail dot com

She gave me her email with permission and I’ve spaced it out here so she doesn’t get spam bombed. Please feel free to link to this post if you think others might want to participate on this project. Ok, here are my answers:

1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

I’ve had my first guide dog for about nine months and have used one harness.

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

I have an offset handle. When I first began training with Jayden, I used a straight handle and didn’t know the difference. Then one day the school asked if I’d like to try the offset and I did and it was instantly much more comfortable. My arm seems to be in a more natural position, with my palm angling more towards my body. With the straight handle, my palm faced straight out behind me. This position was quite unnatural and caused pain. The offset is just much more comfortable for me, and also helps me walk closer to Jayden without stepping on him, since I can hold my arm closer to my body.

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

*Sheepish grin* I have not cleaned the harness yet. I think it’s mainly because I haven’t felt that it’s dirty. Since I do everything by touch, I can usually feel when something is grimy and I can’t stand it, so I clean. But the harness just hasn’t felt icky, so I haven’t cleaned it.

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

Vertically, I’ve never thought about that. I’m not really sure how that would work, but it might be fun to try it. I think having some variety in how you could position the handle might come in handy, since we all naturally change positions. It might help to be able to move the wrist or the arm during long periods of work. I haven’t really thought about the material and using a different kind.

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

If we are inside, and I don’t need to control Jayden, I put on the harness before his leash is attached. If we’re out and I take the harness on or off, I was trained to step on his leash to control his movement and keep him from walking off. I use both hands, since I use my hands to see and guide the pieces together. I don’t think it would be possible to buckle it with one hand. Maybe, but I need both hands to do just about anything, since one hand acts as “eyes” and guides the other hand.

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

Nope, too expensive. I just use a good old fashioned braille compass.

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

I haven’t noticed any problems with Jayden developing any problems. One of my biggest complaints is adjusting the belly strap. There’s a buckle along with the quick release clip. The buckle is for adjusting the looseness or tightness around Jay’s belly. It’s rather difficult to do, but I’ve only had to do it wonce and really the dog’s weight shouldn’t fluctuate much, so it’s not a gigantic deal. Jayden just filled out a bit after we got home.

My palm does get a little sweaty, and my arm gets sore, but that all depends on what kind of day it is. If Jayden is working beautifully in a place I’m familiar with, there’s no discomfort. If Jayden is working a little off, or we’re in a place I’m a little uncomfortable, there’s more pain because I’m tense.

I used to drive, so I can make the steering wheel analogy. You know when you’re in terrible traffic, you’re on high alert and you grip your steering wheel a little tighter maybe. You might “white knuckle it” when driving is stressful. I find I do that with jayden sometimes too. I have to remember to shake out my arm a bit here and there. Other than that, I don’t have any complaints, because frankly, I don’t know any different. 🙂

***

I’ll paste the survey without my comments at the bottom of this post, so it’ll be a little easier to answer. Plese take the time to answer if you can. It’s nice to think that someone out there is thinking about us, and I can’t wait to see what grade she gets! 😉

Again, you can answer in the comments here, she’ll be checking, or email Eva at the address provided above. Please feel free to link to this post on your blog as well.

Here’s the empty survey:

1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

Yes, I posted the survey three times. Blame the migraine lol!

11 Comments

Filed under cool blinky stuff, gratitude, guide dogs, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, plugs, survey says

Doggy Diaries – More than just writing

Since I’ve mostly been firing off short and random posts for NaBloPoMo, (is that how it’s spelled?) I haven’t written much about life not involving writing. It really is too bad that I didn’t know about NaNoWriMo in time, since yesterday I surpassed the 50,000 word count. The only other hurdle left to jump to say I completed NaNoWriMo even though I didn’t enter, is to actually finish the novel, which is about to happen. There are scenes I had in mind that are no where near close to happening, which only opens up the door for a second book. Soon the revision will begin however, and that might trim the novel down or make it even longer. We’ll see how fun I think the writing is when I begin to fine tune it. 😉

I think I’ve only been writing for about a week now. It’s amazing how I’ve lost all sense of time while working on this novel. Wait, didn’t I say I’d write about something other than writing? Yeah, oops.

Jayden and B and I are going to Gamma’s in a bit for turkey dinner. It’s finally gotten cold here, well cold for Arizona. Low thirties at night and I’d guess maybe low sixties during the day. It’s fabulous because it helps my aches big time. I had missed my massage a couple weeks back when I thought I might be sick. During the summer if I missed a massage, my body was screaming in pain. Not this time. I was two weeks overdo but felt pretty good. In a writing tip by Justine, I’m sorry, I can’t spell her last name, she wrote ‘Liar’ and is Scott Westerfeld’s wife, she talks about getting a massage once a week when she’s writing a novel. I hadn’t thought at all about needing to take care of yourself when writing a novel, but believe me, it’s a lot of work. By the end of the day, my eyelids feel as though they’ve got weights on them, and I’m not even stuck staring at the screen. Look at that, I’m talking about writing again. It’s been my life recently though, so it’s kinda hard to discuss life without referring to it.

The week I thought I was sick, I didn’t go work out, and then I started writing so I haven’t been to the gym. Bad Ro. Justine also says exercise is important for writers. Once I get this zero draft done, I’ll get back to that routine.

Jayden is just awesome, but are you surprised? He’s hadnled me working like a champ and anytime I feel a little guilty, I just imagine the dogs who are under a desk. Jayden gets to be free at home, usually curled up right beside me on the couch, as he is right now. Sometimes this makes using the wireless keyboard a little difficult when he decides to put his head on my leg. In that case, I twist and sit not even close to ergonomical to type on the laptop. If I’m gonna continue writing, I really need to consider a desk, though I have no idea where I’d put it.

One of the things that’s been frustrating me lately is the realization that in this town, we can’t just set out for a walk and get things accomplished. We need to get to places using more than our feet. The one place we can get to has a road that Jayden refuses to work. I talked with Dave about it Tuesday, finally telling him that Jayden and I just need to work it as often as possible and there’s really nothing left for Dave to do. He knows I know how to be safe, and that’s his main purpose. There’s no point in him following us and watching me try and get Jayden to work. So Dave won’t be helping with that anymore, not until I finally get Jayden to get down the road, then Dave will help me fine tune the entrance to the store, which is an accessibility nightmare.

I’d had an idea on Tuesday, a way to help the problem of needing transportation anywhere. I thought of a shopping center with a Target and a craft store. If we take the van or a cab, we can get quite a few things done there. So we went and checked it out on Tuesday and they really did an awesome job in this shopping center. They’ve even got raised domes at the wheelchair ramps. So we patterned first, doing sighted guide with Jay on lead. We found the customer service desk where I’d ask for help, then we went and checked out the pet supplies. I’m still gonna need to get to a pet store for Jayden’s needs, which is a bummer because there isn’t one located near another convenient type store. That’s what I’m trying to find, the place where we can get dropped off and get more than one thing done.

Anyway, we then patterned to the craft store and I showed Jayden the counter where we’d get help. I asked about their slow days and they were very happy I thought to find out what days would be best for them to be able to help. I think it’s only courteous, if I’m gonna go in and ask for help, that they not be slammed. Some people might think otherwise, that it’s our right to get help and sure it is, but I think it’s nice to do it when a place isn’t slammed. Not just for the employees, but for my sanity as well.

We did human guide back inside Target and then I worked Jayden out of the store and over to the craft store. He was doing a lot of weaving, which Dave explained was due to potted plants and flat electric outlets in the ground. Jayden went around those rather than over them hehe! He was only shown the way once, but he got me to the craft store and up to the counter no problem. There’s a bench outside where we could wait for a ride and all I had to say was “find the chair” when I knew we were near, and he took me right to it. He is such a smart boy. If only our road wasn’t presenting such a problem…

Dave and I sat on the bench and talked about how I’m getting really close to not needing him anymore. There are a few more places I’d like to check out, but really I can do those with friends too. I explained to Dave that my sighties just don’t ahve much time, and I’d really like to check out the places once with Dave and then I’ll be good. When I first got home with Jayden, I needed to do things several times to feel confident. Now I’m like, just show me once please. Haha!

So that’s bittersweet, to be coming to a close with Dave. I’ve been blind two and a half years now, and he’s been there every step of the way. I’m so grateful for that man. He assured me that anytime I need him though, he’s just a phone call away.

Aside from that, I don’t have much to report. Jayden’s work is incredible and once we get that road problem fixed, we’ll be good to go. Oh I had a follow up call from GDB’s alumni group, and we talked about me starting a chapter here in AZ. I was interested in it back at school, but then life happened. We’ll see if I want to try and start one, though it would be nice to meet up with other GDB grads here.

Now that it’s cold, I’m happy. We can go out whenever we want now and not die. It’s probably the best time to work on the road so we’ll just keep it up.

I haven’t been reading any blogs, so I hope you’re all well. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

4 Comments

Filed under blind opinion, desert life, Doggy Diaries, family, Gamma, GDB, gratitude, holiday, I might be a writer, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, Orientation and Mobility, weather, working dog

I hate fingernails

I should clarify. I don’t hate fingernails. They are dead useful for peeling off stickers, or opening cd cases, or scratching an itch.

I should say I hate long fingernails. However in all actuality, I don’t hate those either. They’re pretty, after all.

But as a woman who uses her hands to see, long fingernails are a major pain. I don’t know why I decided to grow them out, but I did. And I jam them constantly while reaching for the wall to navigate myself inside, or reaching into the cabinet or the fridge. I’ve taken to reaching for Jayden using the back of my hand so I don’t poke him. And texting on my little phone with the full keyboard, those tiny little buttons hard enough to push accurately without a finger extension? Yeah, I think that’s what is going to make me finally cut the barking things off.

Typing hasn’t been too bad, luckily. If I can just hold out a little while longer and have long nails for the Christmas party, then I’ll cut them off.

How do you feel about long nails? I think my general consensus is, long fingernails are not meant for girls who use their hands. Maybe that’s a poor generalization. They aren’t meant for girls who use their hands to see. Maybe even that’s a generalization. I should just say they aren’t meant for me, except every so often.

A pointless post, indeed. I’ve got over 48,000 words now! I will definitely be exceeding the 50,000 word mark!

2 Comments

Filed under I might be a writer, NaBloPoMo 2010, random stuff, silly girl

Oh Apple how do I love thee!

I did a Safari update today not expecting anything to be any better, but I think it just might be! There was some improvements attempting to follow comments at Vomit Comet but it’s still not perfect. So I thought, could Blogger be fixed now? Might I be able to access my labels without crashing Safari? YES I can!! I have my labels back!

Now that I’ve got some lines written here in Blogger’s text editor, let’s see if I can edit line by line. If I can do that, then the majority of my problems are fixed! Ok, nope not really. But composing blog posts offline is working just fine. At Least I have my labels back!!

Ok, back to my novel. The final puzzle piece clicked in my brain last night, so I’m super excited. I haven’t worked on it much today, having gotten quite a few phone calls and being out with Jayden this morning, but my word count as of right now is 42,151. Too bad I didn’t sign up for NaNoWriMo eh? Ah well. 😉

Not editing this since that little bug isn’t fixed.

1 Comment

Filed under apple Inc, gratitude, I might be a writer, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, proud geek

Doggy Diaries – Night and Day

Taking a break from the novel to write about Jayden. 🙂

He is such a different dog when it comes to mornings and evenings. After he has his breakfast and relieves, he immediately curls up on the couch for a long nap. I like this as I know his food is getting settled calmly, and it allows me to get my caffeine levels to a theraputic range.

In the evenings after he has his supper and relieves, he walks around the house, bringing me the few toys that are safe enough to leave out, like his NylaBones and Goughnut. I try and find ways to play calmly after supper so he doesn’t get riled up with a full belly.

I was telling Gamma about this this morning and she wondered if other guide dogs are different, so I just knew it would be a blog post.

So, does your service dog behave differently with different feedings, if you feed twice a day that is. What about the puppy you’re raising?

I’m just really curious, and so is Gamma. =D

(The novel is coming along nicely. Writing it seems to be the easy part. I’m sure it’ll be a different story when I start the first revision. I will be pulling my hair out, indeed. Should easily be done by the end of the month! Hope I didn’t just jinx meself!)

5 Comments

Filed under coffeeholic, Gamma, I might be a writer, Jayden, jayden quirks, NaBloPoMo 2010

Perspicacious!

Listening to audio books sometimes presents challenges. I don’t know how words are spelled. As regular readers know, I’m totally hooked on Scott Westerfeld right now and my new favorite word is perspicacious. I went to look it up even though it’s defined in Scott’s novel ‘Behemoth’. I wanted to know the actual definition. Unfortunately, all the pages I’m finding don’t seem to like to load for Apple, so I just grabbed what little I could find in the search results page. I’m sure I could dig deeper, but I have writing to do. So, according to the small blurb I found, perspicacious is having keen mental perception and understanding; discerning: to exhibit perspicacious judgment.

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have a fabricated beastie who is incredibly perspicacious? If you go read ‘Leviathan’ and then ‘Behemoth’, you will fall in love with a little perspicacious beastie. Perspicacious!

Yes, my brain is totally wrapped up in my novel right now so I’m a little silly.

4 Comments

Filed under Audio books, I might be a writer, NaBloPoMo 2010, silly girl