Category Archives: no no sightie

Blind People Can’t Do That – Changing our Expectations

My friend @BigBadEd sent me a link to a This American Life podcast episode this morning. I told him I’d listen while eating my serial, I mean cereal.

I had seen a retweet from Ed for a podcast asking the question, can expectations make blind people see. I gave it a split second thought about listening and then just kept reading tweets about the Golden globes and skipping passed pictures of cats. But then Ed specifically sent me a mention with a link to the podcast so I changed my mind and decided to listen. Why the initial hesitation? I had contempt prior to investigation and figured it was just more sighted people talking about something they think they know about even though they don’t. I trust Ed though and since he made it a point to bring my attention to the podcast, I decided it must be good. Especially since it’s a This American Life podcast and they brought us Serial which I loved. Also, the episode was called Batman. Huh? Did I hear that right? Yep, it’s called Batman and you can play it here.

I opened the tweet on my iPad and started the episode while I poured a bowl of chocolate frosted mini wheats. Shut up, they’re good.

The podcast begins with some fun science about rats that I found interesting. Maybe science is the wrong word. It was a social experiment with rats. Then it moved on to talking about this blind guy and I was like oh great a blind guy. A blind guy who clicks. This was nothing knew to me but it was entertainment while I ate my mini wheats.

This guy has been on the news showing off his clicking and I was like what’s special about him? He’s riding a bike which he can do because he can click? Before I went blind I saw a Dateline show or 20/20, one of those shows, about a blind kid who rode his bike and played basketball, all by clicking. Just the way this guy in the podcast rides his bike. the podcast acted like this had never been seen before and I just kept thinking about that kid I saw, literally months before I went blind. I even told B I should learn that clicking thing in case my other eye ever went blind. I clicked my tongue a few times, we had a laugh, I moved on. Just FYI, that is a really hard skill to learn, the clicking thing. He’s lucky he figured it out when he was a kid.

But then I warmed up to this guy on the podcast when he admitted how much he hates showing off his bike riding skills. It’s like, yeah I can ride a bike or bake cookies or take a computer apart or insert whatever it is that I or you or your kid or sister, blind or sighted, does. It’s like so what? That was this guy’s attitude.

One of the first blind people I met when I started getting my “blind education” at Saavi all those years ago is a guy just like this clicking guy except he doesn’t click. I was amazed by him, that he could get around the blind center without a cane. I was amazed by him because I was newly blind and didn’t have that confidence yet. Granted, I still would not walk around the blind center without a cane or Jayden like he does, but he was blind since he was a baby just like this clicking guy. When you learn skills as a child, it sticks.

*Aside* You know what’s weird? I had a dream about that guy just last night. The day before Ed sends me a podcast about a clicker guy who reminds me of dream guy. I was getting a manicure and the guy from Saavi walked in to tell me he got a Mac. He wanted to shake my hand but my nails were wet. Huh?*End aside*

So the podcast went on to talk about just that, and they talked to clicking guy’s mother and how she let him just be when he was a child. She let him climb trees and fences even when neighbors and the police told her oh no, he could get hurt. I was thinking, any kid could get hurt climbing a tree. I sure did when I was a kid. I remember watching a friend fall off our fence right on her face. We were all sighted. clicking guy’s mom let him be a normal kid and he’s grown up with the ability to see even though he has no eyes. The point was that her expectations for him were that he would be independent, especially when she saw how he developed ways of doing things without sight.

Ding ding ding! That’s when I got excited and thought about how my own blind life has been influenced by other people’s expectations for me. The point of the podcast was that we can see in our ways when the sighted stop putting expectations on us. There were interviews with other blind people, with professionals who work in the blind field etc. It turned out to be a very good podcast.

It got me thinking about how Saavi treated me when I started going there for training. They eased me into getting around there independently. On the podcast, they talked about how so many blind kids and newly blind adults are led around constantly, how food is brought to them etc. I thought back to my experience at Saavi and at Guide Dogs for the blind and they would certainly help you get around if you asked but they didn’t force the issue. After I learned how to use the white cane, I got around on my own at Saavi and actually led other blind people around who didn’t know the center yet. yes, the blind leading the blind. Saavi taught me how to safely use a knife and a stove. They taught by showing and then having us do. How else can one learn? I joke about Dave, my old orientation and mobility teacher, locking me in an elevator at the mall. Yes, it was a scary experience when he told me to go to the bottom floor and then come back up and then he walked out. My heart raced and I couldn’t believe he left me but how else was I to learn to do things on my own without him?

However out in the real world, people aren’t like the people at Saavi and GDB. They see a blind person getting near the street and freak the freak out. They don’t realize that being blind means we have to get up close and personal to something a sighted person can see from hundreds of feet away. I have to find a curb with my cane that you can see from way over there. Jayden can see it from way over there too but he has to take me right to it so I can feel it with my foot.

This is where the problem is and the podcast pointed that out when the clicking guy was working with a five year-old who had to find a curb by walking right up to it. His godmother freaked out and stopped the kid from learning how to do it his way.

Damn but this helped me understand the people in my life! When I’m on my own, I just do things. When I’m with B, the way I do things change. His expectations bleed on to me. When I’m out on my own I figure stuff out in my own way, the way I’ve had to learn to do. There’s no way sighted people can read my mind and know how I’m going to do something and the expectation is that “blind people can’t do that”.

Wow.

I never thought I would learn something about sighted people by listening to that podcast when it first started. Since I’ve gone blind I try to be an open book, to answer questions people have without getting offended because I remember when I was sighted being amazed by blind people. I don’t ever want to stop being open, but I did find myself being closed with that pesky contempt prior to investigation. I’m so glad I listened to it.

When the kid’s godmother stopped him while he was trying to find the curb, I thought back to an experience I had at the hotel in Florida. Jayden and I got lost and no one jumped out to help. I don’t think anyone was around or if they were, they were very quiet. Jayden and I wandered around for awhile until I got sick of being lost and asked a jogger for help.

That’s how it should bee. Don’t jump in and help because you assume someone needs it or that “blind people can’t do that.”

I could go on and on about this but just go listen to the podcast whether you’re blind or sighted. For the blind, it might shed some light for you on why the sighted are the way they are. For the sighted, well I can’t say what it might shed light on for you.

This goes so much deeper than how the sighted people’s expectations effect the blind. How about expectations about men and women, black and white? Could the root cause of all the isms out there simply be caused by expectations? We expect a woman to be weaker than a man, a white person to be better than a black person? Is it all down to expectations causing groups of people to be what they are? B thinks it would be dangerous for me to walk in my neighborhood since there’s no sidewalk, or along the nearby street that has a sidewalk but lots of driveways because he can’t imagine doing it the way I do it so that fear has rubbed off on me and I haven’t gone exploring even though I have the needed skills to avoid getting hit by a car. Heck, i pay more attention than some sighted people walking down the street texting. The news and social media expected the destruction in Ferguson. Did that have an effect on the people there? We expect people to act in a certain way so they do?

Food for thought.

PS – I appreciated that clicking guy said anyone could learn that skill and use it to ride bikes and hike and stuff as long as they didn’t have another disability stopping them.

Random Link from a Random Tab

A tab I had open when I opened the podcast link had a Mental Floss article about why electrical plugs are different in Europe. I thought I’d share for your inner Arthur Weasley.

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, blind opinion, dream, fellowship, GDB, Jayden, no no sightie, Orientation and Mobility, plugs, twitter me this, white cane, working dog

Thoughts from a…I don’t know how to describe my mind at the moment

I wish I could blog about the last couple weeks with brutal honesty but I can’t, unless I want to completely embarrass myself, which I don’t want to do. Hahaha! I’ll just say, imagine some of the strangest things you’ve ever had to do, the weirdest you’ve ever behaved about something silly, and there you have it. It’s been an interesting start to the year, to say the least.

Things aren’t bad at least. Routines just haven’t gotten back to normal. Hopefully by next week they will. The combination of waiting on the repair guy, strange physical ailments and now B being off this week has made it hard to get back into exercising like I was, which has caused it’s own set of problems.

I can tell you this. If you exercise regularly and then stop for a brief amount of time, becoming more inactive than normal, do not, under any circumstances, chew a Pepto Bismol tablet every day for a week, no matter how badly a medication upsets your stomach. Just don’t do it. I really have no desire to explain why so just take my advice if you trust me. If you don’t trust me, still do not under any circumstances take a Pepto Bismol tablet every day for a week. I assume the liquid is just as bad if taken daily. Don’t do it, you hear?

Ok, now I feel better.

Today a question was asked on Twitter, not by anyone I follow, it was retweeted: Why do blind people have lights in their homes?

As you might be aware, we don’t have any living creature with working eyes in our homes, so why on earth would we need lights? Blind people only mate with other blind people and if they have sighted family, they don’t invite them over. Sighted people aren’t friends with blind people. So yeah, we really don’t need lights. Cats are designed to see in the dark, and blind people having guide dogs is purely a myth. No such creature exists. This blog is a lie. If I had a guide dog, he’d surely like light at night when it’s dark.

In other news, I have a crush on a man named Barbie who doesn’t exist. I think that’s the safest kind of love, right? I curl up in bed with him every night as he tries to save a town from a crazy man. When I’m tired, I go to sleep and leave him in mid step sometimes. He is who he is and I know that will never change because that’s how he was written. Pretty perfect, wouldn’t you say?

Ah, I just paused in writing this to take a shower. I still have no idea if the repair man will be here today. Story of this year so far. B had stepped out so I waited for him to get back. It was one of the best showers I’ve ever had. There’s something about a shower when you haven’t been feeling good that just feels amazing.

Ok, it’s now a one week countdown until life gets back to normal, hopefully. Clock…start…now!

PS – My computer hates the word “retweeted”. It always corrects to “retreated”. So if there’s ever a post I don’t feel like editing when I type something like, “David Price retreated me again”, you’ll know what I meant.

PSS – Can one retreat another? Can that be an adverb describing something a person does to another person? And if so, what exactly would David Price have done to me if he retreated me?

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Filed under guide dogs, humor as coping skill, no no sightie, quirky words, random stuff, sicky sick, silly girl, twitter me this, workouts

Doggy Diaries – Year ago recap 3 and it’s spring already *edited*

As I write this, it’s about 2:45pm and thinking back, I think I had just taken off from Phoenix finally, on the way to San Fran. Today was the travel day, a Monday. You’ll notice the post’s date is on a Sunday, and that’s because when I first arrived at GDB, I couldn’t get connected to the internet, so I was journaling in text documents. I got everything caught up that first Sunday when we had down time.

*Edit* I forgot about the post I wrote that morning before leaving. Oops!

The travel day was exhausting and quite eventful, as you’ll see when you read the post from a year ago.

In that post I mention just needing to cry in my room before the class meeting, but I had left out nearly falling asleep on the couch while a student kept asking question after question after question. I remember being so frustrated, just wanting to eat dinner and go to my room and be alone and unwind. Man am I grateful I’m not traveling today!

Jayden and I had our first spring fever walk today, that’s for sure. After a vacuum adventure which I won’t post here, I only wanted to mention it for my own memory, Jay and I set out to the office to pick up a bag of stuff Georgie dropped off for me yesterday while I wasn’t home.

It was about 1:30 or so and it was almost too hot. Already??? Ugh. Everything was going fine until someone felt the need to introduce themselves. I said a pleasant hello but didn’t want to stop and the man actually put his hand on my arm to shake my hand. He didn’t sound like he was all there or I would have gone off. Maybe I still should have.

It’s crazy how you learn to tell when someone is bending towards your dog. I heard his voice move down and I said, “please don’t pet him, he’s working.”

Why do people suddenly just walk away when you say that? Geez. After that I could tell Jay’s focus was off and there was a yip yip dog barking in an apartment nearby so I stopped and ran through obedience to get his focus back. He was definitely more sniffy than usual and by the time we were almost back and had stopped at the mail, he was panting. It can’t be warm already. Noooo!

Oh well, it’s actually really perfect right now. Doors and windows open, fresh air, birds singing. It won’t last long though, that’s for sure.

Definitely a much nicer day today than the traveling of last year haha!

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, dogs, GDB, Jayden, no no sightie, on this date, weather, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Re-works and ice cream

Soon the desert heat won’t be so oppressive and isolating and I cannot wait! Dave and I were talking about all the stuff we’ll get to show Jayden when it cools off. Nice long walks Jayden doesn’t even know will get to happen. I can’t wait! The timing of getting Jayden was pretty good, but getting home in March meant we didn’t have a whole lot of time to start learning the bigger routes. Luckily there was enough to do to really solidify the bonding that we weren’t at all hindered. I can’t imagine trying to get back with a new guide dog in the hottest part of summer. We would have been immediately isolated and stuck indoors. I’m so glad GDB agreed with me on that and got me in to class as soon as possible. Thank God for that cancellation!

We usually do our outdoor stuff with Dave on Tuesdays since we can get out early, and our indoor stuff on the fifth day of the week. There’s not much indoor stuff left to do so this morning Dave suggested an abbreviated lesson, re-working the street crossing on the route to the store. On Tuesday when we did that crossing, Jayden tried to take me into the middle of a busy street. He had never done that before, and Dave thought it might have been because of all the turmoil with B going out of town and stuff, that threw Jayden off his game. So we drove to the spot since it was too hot to walk it.

Jayden nailed it every time and his pace was even better. Very strange. I guess Tuesday was just an anomoly. I don’t feel like looking up how to spell anomoly lol.

So then Dave asked if I needed anything since the lesson was short. He had just been worried about that crossing since he’s almost ready to sign off on the route so he was glad I agreed to work it. I pondered awhile, not really thinking of anything I needed and then thought mmm ice cream lol! Then the idea occured to me to work the upcurb in the parking lot, which I had never thought to work on with Dave.

When I’m out with friends, which never seems to happen anymore, but in the past when we’d get out of the car and approach the upcurb into a store, Jayden would blow it. I never fell or anything because I could feel him go up. So I was hoping he would do it with Dave so Dave could give me some feedback.

Luckily, Jayden blew it and since I was expecting it, I was able to give a firm NO and have him heel, sit tell him careful, the whole re-work. We went back to the car and he showed me the curb. Dave had said that when we got out of the car, he did like a normal sightie would do and watch me and Jayden and he made eye contact with Jayden. Dave said as soon as we got out of the car, Jayden was actually looking at Dave to follow him and forgot he was working.

So we stood by the car and pretended to chat and then I picked up the harness and told Jayden forward and he showed me the curb. Loud booming praise and kibble.

Then we did the same thing from across the parking lot. Dave acted like a friend and we chatted and Dave got ahead of us and stepped up on the curb to see if Jayden would follow, but he wasn’t fooled. He showed me the curb and got more praise and kibble.

It was a really good experience. I remember in the follow lecture, it said that a dog might start to rely too heavily on following people, so not to over use it. I therefor don’t use it often unless I’m getting help from a store clerk. The thing is, we weren’t really shown too much on what to do when out with friends. I never thought about how Jayden would decide hey, we’re with this person a lot, I’ll follow his or her lead. So now I know to get his focus on me immediately and be sure I’m directing him more than just having him follow.

It’s good to have had Dave see that from the perspective of a sighted friend. Of course a friend is going to be watching to make sure we’re ok, and they’ll look at Jayden, not knowing about the whole eye contact thing.

Since I can’t see the interaction between Jayden and people, I would never have known that. I can put a stop to verbal communication. Plenty of people whether friends or strangers, will talk to Jayden and when I hear that I can stop it. But I won’t notice them making eye contact with him.

I’m really happy with the way today’s lesson went and I sooooooo can’t wait for the weather to cool of so we can go exploring! I was telling Dave the main reason I haven’t done much venturing alone is because if it’s too hot, I could get sick and be totally screwed. So it’s nice to have someone with me. Often times I and others forget that my main disability is not my blindness, it’s the MS. Sometimes I get down on myself for not going out much, but that’s just how the summers have to be. Jayden has been totally fine, as the school assure me he would be as long as we found stuff to do here and there and did plenty of obedience and mind challenging stuff at home. He was just dream wagging on my leg, so I know he’s a happy dog. Just wait till it cools off Jay, you have no idea how much fun we’re gonna have!!!!

Oh yeah, and Jayden said I should get four pints of ice cream at the store as a reward for my hard work. 😉

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, GDB, Jayden, no no sightie, num num food, spoons, treat for me, weather, working dog

ACB – Letter to Shapiro about H.R.3101, “The 21st Century Telecommunications and Video Accessibility Act.”

I wish I had saved the email with the article Shapiro wrote about all this, but I didn’t. Below is a response an ACB member sent to Shapiro. I’ve omitted the writer’s info. I’m sure some googling would find the article about Shapiro’s opinion about it all. I think Shapiro should spend the day blindfolded and try to find his favorite shows on tv, or use his cell phone.

***

Hello All:

Below please find a copy of the e-mail message I sent to Mr. Gary Shapiro,
President, of the Consumer Electronics Association in response to the Opp.
Ed. Which he wrote that appeared in the Washington Times on June 9
discussing H.R.3101. Read and enjoy.

start letter:
Hello Mr. Shapiro:

This message is my response to the Opp Ed by you which was published June 9,
2010 by the Washington Times, against H.R.3101, “The 21st Century
Telecommunications and Video Accessibility Act.” I will respond from three
viewpoints, as a person who is totally blind, as a leader in the organized
blind movement and as a professional working daily in the field of adaptive
technology with people who are blind or visually impaired.

You assert that H.R.3101 is not needed, since industry is moving to address
accessibility. If industry is doing such a good job, then why does there
continue to be only one truly accessible cell phone out of the box for
people who are blind or visually impaired, that being the IPhone? If
industry was doing such a great job, we consumers with disabilities would
have many more choices of accessible cell phones. While there are cell
phones such as those made by LG that offer off the shelf accessibility to
some features, as I stated, the IPhone is the only fully accessible phone
off the shelf providing access to all of its features. While there are
people who are blind who use and love the IPhone, many others to whom I
speak on an almost daily basis do not want to use a touch screen interface
such as that on the IPhone. Many, myself included, do not want to be
limited to AT&T Wireless as the only cell phone provider we can use. By
your assertions, you are saying it is OK that we who have disabilities and
want to buy cell phones should have limited choices.

I use Verizon Wireless as my cell phone provider. In order to get a fully
accessible phone, I had to spend $300 over and above the cost of the phone
to purchase a software package that makes all of the phone’s features
accessible to me via speech output. I, fortunately, am employed and had the
money to do this. However, nearly 70% of people who are blind or visually
impaired are not employed, and therefore, cannot afford this extra cost.
H.R.3101 when passed will insure there will be more choices for off the
shelf accessible cell phones.

My wife and I purchased a home theater system about 10 months ago. Because
this system requires the use of on-screen menus to configure its settings,
we had to ask my brother-in-law to give up over half of his Saturday with
his family to come over and set the system up for us. What if something
goes wrong and the system needs to be re-configured? We will need to find a
sighted person to come help us. Contrary to what some believe, we don’t
have sighted people at our beckon call for everything we need. Synthesized
speech chips and software are widely available, and it would have been very
simple to include a setting where I could have requested voice guidance
through the setup of this system. If speech synthesis technology wasn’t so
widely available, why then are all of the weather forecasts you hear on NOAA
Weather Radio done using synthesized speech? Why in airports do you hear
announcements being made using synthesized speech and not humans? I ride a
commuter rail system each day to and from work, the second largest system of
its kind in the nation. When announcements are made concerning such things
as train delays, they are not made by humans. They are punched into a
computer somewhere and broadcast using synthesized speech.

My wife and I have digital cable service. We pay the same rates per month
as others with comparable plans. Yet, about all we can do is adjust the
volume, turn on and off the TV and switch channels. All of the other
features are inaccessible to us because they require use of an on-screen
menu which is not available to us via speech output. I hear announcements
about movies on demand and cannot access these to enjoy them if I wanted
too. I can’t use Digital Video Recorder (DVR) service to record programs I
want to watch later. If industry was doing such a great job, there would be
a speech output feature that I could access on demand which would allow me
to access these and other features. What if tonight after composing this
letter, I cannot sleep and want to know what is on TV? I cannot access the
program guide and I don’t have a sighted person at my disposal for that sort
of thing. I’d like to keep my friends as my friends, maintain peace in my
family and have good relationships with my neighbors. Since you assert
industry is doing such a good job, tell me how I can access the program
guide. I’m waiting.

If industry was doing such a great job, why then didn’t the designers of the
Kindle II Book Reader sold by Amazon design menus and controls that could be
accessed using speech output? After all, they designed in speech output to
read the content of books, it would have been a simple few extra steps to
make the menus and controls accessible via speech output. If Industry was
doing such a great job, why do people who are blind or visually impaired
have to pay eight or nine times the cost that sighted people do to enjoy the
benefits of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology? After all, GPS
devices like those made by Garman, Magellan and Tom Tom provide spoken
directions. It would be a simple few steps to include a keypad and voice
output of menus and controls so these systems could be independently
programmed by people who are blind.

These examples and countless others totally render your assertions about how
good industry is doing pointless. The fact is, Mr. Shapiro, that there has
been nothing achieved in the area of disability access without assistance
from the Government. We'[re seeing an example of this on America’s streets
right now. Hybrid cars, which are very good for our environment are
designed to operate using an electric motor when stopped or moving at speeds
below about 25 miles per hour. When they were initially designed, no one
considered the fact that pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired and
others would not be able to hear these vehicles and know that it is safe to
cross the street. Thanks to advocacy work which has led to the introduction
of legislation in Congress to address this problem, the car companies are
taking notice.

I, personally, am one of the strongest believers in the free market you will
meet. I know that America has countless talented people, ready to innovate
and design great new electronics. But I also know that at times, Government
needs to step in and help make sure people are doing what is right so that
those of us with disabilities are not left behind. Apple is to be commended
for making their products accessible to people who are blind or visually
impaired right out of the box. Not all of us want to purchase Apple
products. You and the Consumer Electronics Association should be
encouraging other companies to follow Apple’s lead as Apple has proven that
off the shelf access is feasible. Since it appears you have not, then
H.R.3101 must be passed and signed into law. After all, the more devices we
who have disabilities can choose to purchase, the more profits the consumer
electronics industry will make as a whole. The population of people who are
blind or visually impaired is expected to grow exponentially over the next
several years. Most of those who will develop vision problems will be
seniors as they live longer. They are used to being active, being able to
do all sorts of things. They’re not going to stand for being told, sorry,
you can’t access this computer or that television set top box, and they
shouldn’t. By passing H.R.3101, we can unleash the talents of designers and
engineers in electronics companies across the world to come up with products
everyone, including those with disabilities can use. You should want
nothing less, for remember, the minority group of people with disabilities
is the only one that you, a member of your family or a close friend can join
at any time.

Thank you for your time and attention. I hope you will re-think your
demeaning, ridiculous assertions about H.R.3101 and come out in support of
true access to the latest and greatest devices for all of us.

39 Comments

Filed under ACB, accessibility, apple Inc, no no sightie

Doggy Diaries – Mother of all updates

As I was writing the title, I got a nudge from Jayden saying hey, what about me? Haha! He’s so good about letting me know when he wants some love. After some silly affection giving, he’s now curled up next to me. We’re gonna go for a walk in a bit.

Anyway, I haven’t updated in a bit, so I’m just gonna write whatever comes to mind.

Jayden had a big work day yesterday. We were going to the memorial service for the man in the fellowship in the afternoon, so I groomed Jayden in the morning and got some things done around the house. The only appropriate clothing I had was a long dark brown skirt with a brown colored print top. Well, nothing fits anymore, so the skirt was threatening to fall off. About a half hour before we were leaving, I took Jayden out to relieve, and Timmy ended up getting out. The big dog doesn’t scare him away from the door anymore. Luckily a neighbor was outside, and she helped me wrangle Timmy, all the while Jayden thought he was getting a visit, and I was worried about my skirt falling off haha! So I called Lish to see if she had any safety pins but she didn’t, so we left early to stop at Walgreens. I was able to work Jayden the whole time. He was such a champ! I was able to follow Lish because I could hear her shoes. Jayden didn’t get distracted or anything, and the regular clerks got a kick out of watching him.

We got to the church and had to park a ways and Jayden worked like a champ all the way to the door. There was a speed bump though, which he walked right over. We never talked about speed bumps at school. Is he supposed to stop for those?

Once it got crowded, I heeled Jayden and did sighted guide with Lish. An usher found chairs for us in the disability aisle, where Jayden wouldn’t get stepped on or be in the way. I had just told him to lay down when the priest said, please rise. Haha! That was the only time though. We stayed seated for the rest of it. Jayden was really good about laying there quietly, though he kept trying to put his head under the pew in front of us lol.

The service was really beautiful and very comforting. All the scriptures read where ones of peace and letting us know we are not alone. Though I am not religious, I do enjoy sermons like that. It wasn’t at all preachy, just very comforting and very spiritual. The eulogy was lovely, filled with tears and humor, and as a special request from the family, the priest said the Serenity Prayer. You could feel all the members of the fellowship let go at this.

After the service, we waited for everyone to clear out. It was huge, with a lot of people. Jayden stood there wagging at everyone and through sniffles, I heard little exclamations of cuteness. I think he was a comfort to people as they left. The usher came after everyone was gone and said he hadn’t been an usher with a service dog before, so it was a good experience for him.

We went to the reception room which was packed and there was food. Jayden did great. He was calm the whole time, though I just had him on leash. Most of my friends asked if they could pet him and they were all good about doing it calmly. Jayden just ate it up. I had one woman start petting him, and she is a woman I don’t get along with very well. “Please ask me before you pet him.” “Oh, why?” “Well, if he had ben working, that would have been like me grabbing your steering wheel.” “Oh! Clever, you should write an article.” “There’s lots of articles already written.” Lish said, “Yeah, most people just don’t read them.” That was the only ify experience.

We milled around awhile and I saw some of the other oldtimers I love and we talked about why I haven’t been to meetings, to which they were totally understanding, which warmed my heart. Those guys know me well enough to know that I’m filling my life with the program whether I’m in the rooms for an hour or not. It meant a lot to me that they didn’t lecture me about it, and they are men I really admire.

After we got home, Jayden did his usual after work routine of dropping to the floor on his back for a belly rub and romp session. Then he passed out haha. I talked to Carol for a bit before the game.

9-3 Rays over Yankees wooooo hooooooo! David Price was incredible and he got run support. Couldn’t have asked for more. We won the first game against the Yankees last year too, and they came back to win the next two, so we’ll see how today and tomorrow go.

I don’t have a whole lot new to report about Jayden. His work continues to be wonderful. We are having one issue, which will be a gigantic issue if we can’t get it fixed though. I tried calling GDB on Thursday but the phone was busy busy busy. On Tuesday, Dave and I were working on the route out of the complex, which had been a little difficult, because it’s not straight forward. There are two curbs I want him to target, but he was having other ideas. So Tuesday I got out the clicker. Fun! Dave hadn’t really seen clicker training before, and he enjoyed it a lot. After the final back chaining, starting from the beginning, Jayden targeted both curbs without issue. Yay! Then the trouble really started.

After the second curb ends, it’s a country road. That means a long straight road with no sidewalk. Asphalt right next to dirt. Jayden does not want to go down the road. We work it on the left, facing oncoming traffic. He doesn’t want to budge. Dave suggested trying the dirt, that maybe he would see that as safer, but no go. He does not want to go down the road. I wanted to end the day on a good note, so we crossed to the other side. He has no issue on that side. He goes no problem and again, we’re facing oncoming traffic. It’s exactly the same. There isn’t a lot of traffic and it’s not a dangerous road. So I don’t know what the issue is. The country road lesson at school was absolutely horrible, horrible. So bad that when I got back to the dorm I was in tears and had to call Kevin to get me out of a rage. I really tried not to let it transfer to Jayden, but what if it did? I’m afraid that’s why he’s hesitant. But then he’s fine on the other side. I’ve tried the GL and it’s the same. It’s not like he’s sniffing or distracted. Until he masters that, we can’t leave the complex on foot. I’m sure I’ll get through to Grad Services soon, but does anyone have any suggestions?

After we got home after that, I took Jayden’s harness off and let Dave finally say hi. He is definitely a dog person haha! I have never seen Jayden go so crazy hahaha!! Bouncing around and running as far as his long leash would let him. It was really fun.

I did the same after my workout on Wednesday, let Lisa and Glenn say hi to him and he was so happy.

Oh, yesterday Lish said Jayden just looks so happy when he’s working. That made me very happy to know. She said his tail was going the whole time and he was smiling. Yay!

He’s still doing great at home. He’s free except at night, where he’s still in his kennel. He lost his tug rope privilege for awhile though. I had it on a tall dresser, and he actually went and got it down and was chewing on it. Noooo. Haha! So it’s put away for now, and he’s rediscovering his tug ring, goughnut and kong.

He loves to chase after Spinelli. I let him briefly until she starts hissing. After I stop him his heart is racing and he’s panting hehe!

We’ve definitely gotten to the place I’ve heard some handlers say as, he’d crawl into my skin if he could. We are peas in a pod, love to be together. He’s rarely away from me unless he hears something outside and goes to check it out. After I shower he comes into the bathroom like, I knew you were there but I couldn’t see you. Haha!

I just love him and everything about having a guide dog. I can’t wait to go for a walk. We’re just gonna go walk the complex, since he hates the road leading out, so I won’t try that alone yet.

I think that’s about all. Oh wait! I lied!

Thursday was laundry day and I had two loads since I hadn’t done it the previous Thursday. So first thing in the morning I got everything sorted and Jayden and I took the first load down. He did great! I’ve taught him to always target the mailboxes when we go that way, not just so he knows where the mail is, but because it’s a landmark for my orientation. I paid extra attention to my inner distance meter so I’d know when we were close to the laundry. There isn’t always noise of machines and smells of detergent, so I’ve realized I have to know how far we’ve walked in case he misses the door like he did the time we got lost and had to call for help. I put the first load in the wash and we came ack home, no problems. We left again a little later for the second load and the laundry swap, and he did great again. We came back home, I took his harness off and then realized I hadn’t put a washer sheet in the second load. Arg. Harness back on, back to the laundry room, except I use the front load washer and you can’t open it once it’s started. Arg. So my clothes got a good soaking haha! We came back, then went down again, to restart the washer and bring the dry clothes back. No problems, except some neighbors distracted him, but since I’m now getting better about being aware of how far we’ve walked, I cought it quickly and got him back on track. Then we had to go back to swap the load to the dryer, walk back home, then back down to get the last load. It was exhausting hahaha! But I think we’ve got the laundry down hahahaha!!!!

Oh and also on Tuesday after the country road thing, we did the route down to the office which I hadn’t done yet. I wanted Dave there, even though its a pretty straight forward route. Well, we didn’t need him once. As we approached the office, I heard people and a very aggressive sounding dog. So did Jayden. He stopped dead and didn’t move. When he does this, I now know he is checking out a situation. When he’s distracted, his body moves and his head is going back and forth. When he’s concentrating, he doesn’t move a muscle. Once he could tell the dog was contained, he continued. I absolutely love how cautious he is. He does that with cars too, even if they aren’t too close. He won’t move until he knows what they’re doing. I love it. I feel so safe with him.

I told Dave I wasn’t surprised the office route went fine, because it’s straight forward, a sidewalk to follow the whole way. Dave laughed and said, no it’s not. Don’t you remember accidentally following a branching sidewalk into the parking lot with your cane? Oh yeah. I forgot there are a lot of possible paths that Jayden could have taken. But he kept on the straight route, and really that’s how he was trained anyway, not to turn unless I tell him. I still feel good about that walk though. There are lots of flowers and bushes along the way and he didn’t sniff once.

Ok, I think that’s really it. Yeah. Unless I remember something else haha!!!

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Filed under baseball, Doggy Diaries, dogs, fellowship, GDB, guide dogs, Jayden, jayden quirks, laundry, misty eyes, no no sightie, Orientation and Mobility, sobriety, Spinelli, Timmy, transitioning, working dog

Doggy Diaries – Huh?

Man it’s easy to get out of the habit when I don’t tell myself to write every day. It hasn’t been that long; I think I just skipped yesterday. I’m a bit brain dead at the moment. Allergies are really killing me lately. Of course I don’t get normal symptoms. I get the ears being all funny, which makes me paranoid that it’s more than just allergies. But usually allergy pills makes them better, so I’m hoping that’s all it is.

I wonder if I’ll ever write a post that isn’t a doggy diaries post? Probably not for awhile. There’s not much to write about me that doesn’t include Jayden right now.

We’re getting back into the sort of routine I had before I went to school, so yesterday we took paratransite to Saavi so I could work out. When the van pulled up, we approached it and where Jayden stopped, I didn’t feel the doors. The driver got out and I asked where the doors where and he said, “Oh, they didn’t tell me you were visually impaired, just that you had a guide dog.” Uh. Ok. Yeah. I get on and told Jayden to find a chair, not knowing people were on the van. He took me to a person. Finally we squeezed into the very back seat and we on our way. The passengers were dropped off before me, and when they got off, the driver said, “He didn’t look good.” “Oh?” “Yeah, they’re going to {mental health agency} so he’s probably on meth.” Wow…I wonder if any more judgements will come out of this guy?

We continue on and he asks about Jayden and I say we’re new, etc. He says, “You know what I’ve noticed about all these guide dogs?” Here we go. I’m expecting the “too skinny” comment. He then says, “They’re all fat.” Huh? “Really? I’ve been told that people think our dogs are too skinny.” “No, I see them all the time and they seem fat. I want to tell these people their dogs aren’t going to live very long. And I don’t understand why people in wheelchairs have guide dogs when they can see.” Oh I’m getting it now, things are clicking. He thinks all service dogs are guide dog. “Oh, those aren’t guide dogs, they’re service dogs.” I say. “Oh, what do they do?” “They pick things up that people in wheelchairs drop, things like that.” He then goes on to talk about seizure alert dogs and stuff and I tell him about diabetic alert dogs and hearing dogs. Then he says, “You know what they are, right?” I ask what but don’t hear his reply so I ask again and he says, “They’re slaves.” I roll my eyes and say I’ve heard that argument before and he says they’re like ‘Planet of the Apes’ where the apes have to do all the hard work. I explain that I can’t speak for all guide dogs, but when mine isn’t working, he’s a dog, we play and stuff. And he gets excited when the harness comes out. He didn’t have anything to say to that.

When he drpped me off, we were behind another van so we weren’t right in front of the doors. He asked if I needed help but I just wanted away from him. I told Jayden forward but he tried to take me to other doors and then he ran me into a pole. Ugh. I heard the driver tell someone else, “he’s new”. Great. The judgemental guy is standing up for my dog.

The workout went ok but my abs were killing me after Monday. I cried out at my first attempt for a full sit up and Jayden got all worried lol.

After I got home I talked to Carol for a bit. Oh wait, I left out the annoyance of sitting in the lobby waiting for my ride. But that’s just complaining so I won’t bother.

That was pretty much yesterday. Today I had off, so I needed to do chores. I used my cane to take a load of laundry down and then decided to test Jayden with the cart to go switch the clothes to the dryer. He did fine both ways, so I took him to get the clothes once they were dry. Mistake. He walked past the door and I didn’t notice and we got turned around again. I had the cart behind me and couldn’t hear traffic. We must have been in a dead zone. I had no clue where we were and “find home” didn’t work. I had to call the apartment office and S, the maintence man, had to come find us in his golf cart. Blech. I got my clothes and came home. After that I did some cleaning. The kitchen needed a good scrub, and I cleaned up the toaster oven I’m giving Carol.

I straightened the living room and did some dusting and then did an online grocery order. I only do one about once a month, because you have to have a minimum of fity dollars and I just don’t need that much on a weekly basis. So my order should come tomorrow afternoon.

Tomorrow is supposed to be windy and bad for allergies. Joy.

I think I’m the opposite of most people. I’m really dreading summer. It’s already getting warm. Soon, we won’t be able to do much outside. Yuck.

Wow, this post sounds kinda negative. I’m really not feeling negative, just a little out of it.

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Filed under desert life, Doggy Diaries, guide dogs, Jayden, laundry, no no sightie, transitioning, weather, white cane, working dog, workouts

Doggy Diaries – Without Jayden

I had to use the dreaded stick today to do laundry. We have to take the same route as the mail to get to the laundry, and I just wasn’t confident enough on that rounded curb to try and direct Jayden while dragging my cart behind me. So I put him in the kennel where I felt he was most safe and then I felt horrible lol. I had two loads to do so rather than let him out and then put him back in, I just left him in the whole time. I kept talking to him and at one point when I got back with a load, he whined but a “quiet” stopped that.

Man, it sucked using the cane hahaha! It was so tedious heading down there. Anytime it got caught on anything I cursed it. It also didn’t keep me from running into the open mailboxes. The mail lady was there and I was walking towards the boxes with my cane and she said hello and I said hello and then ran into the door containing all the little mailbox doors. She felt so bad and I laughed because I had just made the UPS guy feel bad not minutes before.

He came to my door and said UPS and when I went to the door I could hear him walking away. I was like, is the package right here? Nothing. Truck starts. I come outside. Truck stops. UPS guy goes, oh man, I forgot, I was pointing, oh man, I’m so sorry. I’m laughing asking if it’s right there. He’s like, I’m coming, don’t move. He came up and handed me the box. He felt so silly and I was like it’s ok. I was getting shipments almost every day there for awhile but I haven’t in a bit so he forgot hahaha. I was just too happy to get my baseball shirts.

After I was all done with laundry, I harnessed Jay up to go get the mail, and we probably could have done the laundry together. He nailed it. No issues. So after I got the mail I decided to show him the laundry room. It’s a left turn around the building from the mail with a short curb to follow and then the door. He took me right to the door as if to say, see you didn’t have to leave me home. I would have found it. I took him inside and let him check it out and then we came home. It’s sooo much faster to have Jayden walk it, wow.

It’s already getting hot though. We were out about noon or so and it was feeling hot.

After that I groommed Jayden and man is he throwing his winter coat. Lots and lots of fur. I took off his collar to do a good groomming there and he lay down and just let me go to town in that area. Then I brushed his teeth and cleaned his ears. His summer coat is more coarse than the winter coat. He doesn’t feel quite so soft.

That’s pretty much it for today. I can’t wait to get back into my routine so he has more to do. Tomorrow we go out with Dave again and then I should be resuming workouts Monday. Yay!!

Oh yeah, before I went down to do laundry, I had the cart sitting in a stupid spot and forgot it was there. I had Jayden on leash, walking to the bedroom and he stopped. He kept me from running into the cart even though he would have cleared it just fine. And he wasn’t even working. Nice!

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, guide dogs, Jayden, laundry, no no sightie, silly girl, transitioning, treat for me, weather, white cane, working dog

Blind frustrations done funny

Oh this is great. Check out ‘Talking Blind Man’s Blues’ over on Vomit Comet. If you’re blind, you’ll relate to the two audio clips. If your sighted, you might learn a thing or two. And the second clip is Vomit Comet’s very own Steve.

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, funnies, humor as coping skill, no no sightie, plugs

Doggy school – Yesterday was hard

Yesterday was just jam packed busy. We went to San Fransisco in the morning and sat at a coffee shop waiting for our turns to work. I was last. So I had a mocha that wasn’t as good as Starbucks, talked to some Italians who visit every February and they were cool and really nice. Then we walked a ways and there was so much more going on than in San Rafael. Jayden did great though. He only sniffed once and ignored a pedestrian who tried to say hi. Good boy. We were gonna take the bus back so we did some obedience while we waited and then the bus came. Weird bus, electric. Sounds like a spaceship and I was tripping out lol.

We got back and went back to the dorms.

After lunch we finished clicker training with the dogs and that was a blast. I was teaching him to find a chair. Then we we all went into a room and were quiet as each of us came in to find a chair. Then we all shifted. It was loads of fun but exausting.

Then we went downtown and did a bus to lounge. They dropped us off and on the way went over the route with us. Cross four streets, thrun left, go up a block and turn right then find the lounge. There would be instructors around but they wouldn’t help unless we sat our dogs and stood. I was fine until I got to the first crossing and then I couldn’t feel the curb. So they helped and we continued. Did fine until after the left turn and then Jay stopped at what felt like a flat curb so I did a right but it was a driveway and an instructor popped out before I could work it out on my own. Then we got to the curb and turned right and were doing fine until Jay stopped and I didn’t know why. The instrctors popped out and we were at steps. They were like, you know, those steps that we usually don’t take. I’m like, what steps. I was never shown the steps. By this time the fatigue had hit hard and I was crying because that happens when I get so tired.

We made it to the lounge and I broke down in the bathroom with another student, then the nurse.

We got back and I thought I was gonna hurl. I went to the nurse for my vitamin C and broke down with her. She calmed me down and I was skipping dinner.

I tried to play with Jay but he was exhausted too so I layed down after my shower and after talking to the councelor and another friend auto immune. They had to wake me to relieve Jayden and then I went right back to sleep.

Feeling good so far but it’s raining today. We’ll see what’s in store. The best thing about hard days is I sleep like a freakin log haha!!!

Just had breakfast and have to meet soon but wanted to quickly post.

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Filed under coffeeholic, Doggy Diaries, doggy school, Jayden, no no sightie, spoons