Category Archives: Silicone Sally

My Not So fiery Thursday

Picture it: Sicily I mean Tucson, a beautiful day in mid April, a 1950’s era home with doors and windows flung wide, a breeze full of deliciously fresh spring air dancing from door to door and door to window.

It was about 12:30pm on Thursday and I was contemplating making my lunch while doing something on the laptop, probably reading Twitter,while Jayden snuggled beside me on the couch. All was quiet and lovely and I was in a wonderful mood after a surprise from iTunes that morning.

After preordering the new Josh groban album, Stages, I was confused to hear the tritone chime alerting me to new downloads. Since the album isn’t out until the twenty-eighth I wasn’t expecting a download. Was it because I preordered the deluxe version? I knew some of the songs were out in the wild since I’d read tweets from people commenting on them. I have avoided reading the song list or listening to any of the new ones, wanting to experience the album song by song, sight unseen.

Curious, I searched my library for Stages and had songs! What was this magic? I didn’t check how many, wondering which songs they would be, anticipation building as I grabbed my bluetooth speaker and settled in to listen.

I had four new Josh Groban songs! four! Is it April 28 yet? April has been an awesome month for books and music, I must say.

So a few hours later as I contemplated making my turkey and radish sandwich before my Thursday call, relaxed back on the couch with my laptop, it took me a few seconds to understand the sudden horrible blaring screeching noise, Jayden bounding off the couch and running, cats running, everyone running and the blaring, was it coming from outside? No. In the house? yes. Do I smell smoke? No. Jayden was leaping around, nails clicking on the tile floor, if the screeching was hurting me it must be killing him.

Follow the sound, it was bouncing off tile and walls, bedroom? windows open in there, the only windows with screens. Neighbor burning weeds again? blaring. I can’t hear myself think. I can’t see. I can’t hear, anything but the blaring. Is something on fire? I don’t smell smoke. Are we ok? I don’t smell smoke. Bedroom, it would be up near the ceiling. run my hands along the rough brick of what used to be the outside of the house. I mutter the word help. A neighbor will hear the blaring and come to help. I can’t reach it. Run out of the bedroom, close the door.

Hurry away from the sound. Pull my phone from my pocket. B might be taking a lunch break. He has working eyes. He can come make the sound stop.

Ding ding: Call B.

Siri: Calling B.

ring ring. Ring ring. ring ring. voicemail.

Hi, um everything is fine and nothing is on fire but the fire alarm thing is going and I can’t stop it but you didn’t answer, think I’ll call the fire department just in case.

Ding ding: Call 911.

Siri: calling emergency in five seconds.

Blaring fire alarm. Head pounding. Nervous giggles threatening.

Silicon Sally: What is your emergency?

Silicone Sally? Seriously?

Um, fire alarm is going off.

Dispatcher, a real woman.

Your fire alarm is going off?

Yes and I’m blind. I don’t smell smoke.

Her voice takes on an edge. You’re blind? Ok sending a truck right now. What is your address?

I tell her, beginning to spell the street name and she interrupts.

I’ve got the spelling. Go outside and wait for the truck ok?

Ok. We hang up.

I freeze in the living room. I usually put timmy in a room when I go outside so he won’t escape. No time. No time to find timmy. He freaked out with the other animals anyway and is probably hiding. Go to back door, grab Jayden’s leash , go to front door, put leash on, step right outside the door, stop.

Wait. In school we always had to walk away from the building. Jayden’s harness is right inside the door. Step back in, grab his harness, step out, put it on, direct him to the curb.

The distant siren growing closer and then the sound of a heavy engine turning the corner. I waved, feeling so happy to hear them so fast. Even though I knew nothing was burning, I was running on pure adrenaline, and that blaring, so loud, hurting my ears…I had known what it was like to lose that all important sense, at least in a way.

the men stomped towards me and cheerfully said hello and I followed one back to the house. Jayden stopped at the door and a fireman behind me said the door was closed.

“I thought he went in ahead of me.”

“He did, he left you in the dust,” a fireman said with a chuckle. We all tromped into the house and the blaring suddenly stopped.

“Did you have anything on the stove?”

“No.”

“Did you have a candle burning in the bedroom?”

“No.”

“We could smell something sweet in there,” he prompted.

“Oh well I have a Plug-In in there.”

They went on to tell me the fire alarms were all rather old. I said I would call the landlord. the first fireman said he left the detecter on the dresser next to the fan. I mentioned the neighbor burning grass and I could hear the eye roll in the first guy’s voice.

“He shouldn’t be doing that.”

I was so wishing he were, so he would get caught at no fault of mine. It was the smoke alarm’s fault.

The men left and I sent a thank you behind them.

Firemen. Even without vision I could tell they were hot. I was suddenly aware of the fact that I was wearing no braw under a t-shirt and men’s pajama bottoms. At least my hair was freshly cut!

B arrived five minutes after the men left and it was good he did because the smoke detector started chirping. We walked around the house thinking it must be one of the other ones but no, it was the same one. The fireman had pulled it off the wall and stopped the screeching but it still had its battery, which B promptly popped out. I left a message for the landlord, b went back to work, and I had my Thursday chat.

Not to worry, if I had smelled smoke, B would not have been my first call. It was a good learning experience. I will get another leash to keep by the front door and will grab Jayden’s harness in the event of an emergency so we can walk to the curb just like I learned in elementary school. The day was interesting, to say the least. And one word: firemen.

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Filed under apple Inc, cats, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, music, Silicone Sally, Timmy, twitter me this, working dog

And it would have been fine if it hadn’t been for those meddling headphones

This is why I really shouldn’t make plans. Strike that, I need to be prepared when a wrench is thrown into the works. It’s not even like I had crazy awesome plans, but I had my Saturday pretty much mapped out to be leisurely after a stressful week. I planned to give a book a read through to write up a post on it today. I managed to read the book but then…enter the wrench.

Last night I discovered something I didn’t know about my Mac that is pretty sweet. I had this book in a text document but I have no way of holding my place in such a long document so I planned on recording system audio during a time I wasn’t on my computer. Luckily I mentioned this to my Mac expert friend Ricardo and he informed me that the Mac will convert text to speech into a sound file in itunes. No way! Way! He explained how to do it and it worked. So Today I had an audio file of Voiceover reading the book just like an audio book with the ability to play and pause when I needed to.

So after I was done with my morning reading which included an email with content that got my blood pressure up and my heart rate pounding which started a headache (this is foreshadowing), I settled back to go over the book and drink my coffee.

B stepped out to run errands so I took my Logitech USB wireless headphones off and plugged them in to charge so I could enjoy the book over my speakers and also to throw some additional charge into the headphones. Sometimes on Weekends the charge doesn’t last all day and while I can use the headphones while they’re charging, I don’t like being tethered now that I am so used to the freedom of wireless.

I was jotting down notes for my write-up when B got home and I plugged the receiver for the headphones in and switched them on. Nothing. Hmmm. Switch off and back on. Nothing. No beep. They usually beep when switched on and then beep again when connected. Nothing. Over and over, on and off and on. Nothing. Unplug receiver. Nothing. Headache getting worse.

I dig out the old Logitech headphones that I had taped together to salvage them until B got me a new set. Nothing on those. I switch off and on. One beep. Ooh! Then nothing. Both sets were dead. Head is pounding.

Ok, so remember the vicious murder of the coffee maker?

I stood up with the Logitech and tightly grasped the earpieces in my hands.

“I’m going to break this,” I grunted through gritted teeth.

“No!” B exclaimed, making the moment sound very dramatic.

“Why not? They’re already dead!” I said, stomping towards the kitchen, prepared to snap the things like a wishbone. B stammered something and I came to my senses. I’m not sure if it was him or the Lexapro that kept me from destroying the Logitech. It turns out the charger for the headphones will work to charge B’s phone via his computer, so at least something good came from it. For some reason, both dead Logitechs went back into my drawer.

I began the task of shopping for a new set of wireless headphones. The major thing I didn’t like about the Logitech was the behind the neck design. The tops of my ears begin to ache after prolonged use and I can’t rest my head back on the couch. So deciding to try something new meant that I wanted to find a set with the old headband design.

If anyone has any questions about wireless headphones for computers, I think I read about nearly every kind out there. I asked Twitter for recommendations and it failed me for the first time. No one had opinions which shocked me. Actually one person did recommend a Plantronics set but that was after I finally settled on something.

I don’t remember how I finally found these but I decided on this Soundblaster Tactic3D Wrath wireless usb headset from Creative> After reading that page I was beginning to drool and after I read reviews on Amazon from extreme gamer types I was sold. Headphones are an extension of my computer for me. I need to be able to hear my screen reader when B has the TV on and I also don’t want him to have to hear my computer. Not only that but my music, books and movies as well. Oh and let’s not forget baseball! They must be wireless, especially for baseball, so I never miss a minute of a game when I have to walk away from my computer.

B had already agreed that a Best Buy trip would be in order once I found the headphones I wanted. I checked the website and they carry them but it said that store delivery or something wasn’t an option. That worried me. I called to see if they had them. After getting through the Silicone Sally prompts, I was told one caller was ahead of me. Loud, no not loud, blaring synthesizer Christmas music began pumping through my bluetooth. Headache. Got. Very. Very. Pissed. I thought to myself, if they have the headphones, the obnoxious music will be worth it. They didn’t have the headphones.

This was a few hours after the death of the Logitech. I had my old wired headphones plugged in and had even tried paring the Plantronics bluetooth I use for my phone to the Mac but it sounded awful and I scared myself, thinking I had killed the connection between it and the iPhone forever haha.

So when we found out Best Buy didn’t have the Soundblaster headphones, we were both dumbfounded. What other electronics stores are there? We both drew a total blank. Finally I just Googled electronics stores and remembered Radio Shack which made me remember Gamestop and SWS. Neither Radio Shack nor Gamestop had them. The man at SWS sounded regretful to inform me he didn’t carry them either but at least he had the knowledge to tell me it would probably be hard to find Soundblaster devices in stores. He told me they make soundcards and such but that I’d need to get the headphones online.

“Yeah, my headphones broke today so I was hoping to replace them today,” I said, defeated. He went on to tell me he carried Logitech and I thanked him and hung up.

I went back to Amazon and put in the order. I’m saving fifty bucks. Go Amazon! In the meantime I’m tethered to my desk. I kept getting tangled in the chord . Once you go wireless, you just can’t go back! I began to wonder how I could sit on the couch with my headphones when I remembered that my Samsung Gomic has a headphone port in it. Perfect! So I’m using that as an extension for now so I have a little more freedom of movement.

I said to B after that was all over with and we ordered dinner that this was the first day on the Lexapro that I really felt my emotions go out of control. He said the headphones must have just been the last straw. Just yesterday I wrote about taking care of the little things. They can still totally sneak up on you. This morning I had a hard time catching Timmy so I could put him in the room to keep him from escaping while I took Jayden out. I collapsed on the floor sobbing, and the darned cat came right to me. This was after awakening from a nightmare that someone had stolen Jayden. Then the email happened, then the headphones died, all after a tough week. Perfect recipe for a breakdown. It wasn’t awful though and getting some emotion out was actually a relief. Good floor time with Jayden made the headache go away.

At least no electronics or appliances were harmed in the making of this day.

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Filed under Amazon, apple Inc, coffeeholic, dream, Jayden, mental health, NaBloPoMo 2012, proud geek, screen reader, Silicone Sally, Timmy, twitter me this

First day with the iPhone and Voiceover

I’m very lucky to have gotten help from family for that ridiculous deposit I had to pay to start a contract with Verizon. The nice thing is that after a year of on time payments, we’ll get that back with interest, so I’m just gonna set up automatic payments. Now that that ugliness has passed, I can get to the awesomeness that is iPhone.

My other phone was completely on it’s last legs, dying constantly and making it so I was uncomfortable going out. For those interested, I had the T-Mobile Dash, basically a Blackberry, with Mobile Speak installed. Sure, tactile buttons were nice, but the screen reader was quite garbled, and unless you were on a home key or the D key with the dot, you had to really be certain which button you were hitting. I basically kept one button poised on delete since I didn’t know what button I was pressing for sure, until I selected it.

I called Verizon Tuesday morning and got my iPhone via FedEx yesterday. I was surprised when the driver showed up at 10:30. Yay for not waiting all day! On a side note, she asked me a very odd question. After she helped me sign that tablet thing she asked,” so do you just stay home all day?”

I had been giving myself pep talks about the iPhone. I knew there was going to be a learning curve so I just kept telling myself to take it slow, be patient, don’t throw it.

I set the box gingerly on the coffee table and opened it up. When I took out the slim, sleek, square device, I was surprised at how sturdy it felt. It’s also got a heft to it I wasn’t expecting.

I had been talking to Georgie that morning and she said there were two volume buttons on the upper left side as well as a switch to turn off volume. She described the home button on the bottom middle of the phone and also a slider on the touch screen near that button that you have to slide to unlock the phone. I was glad she told me about these things.

I found the USB cable and plugged the iPhone into the Macbook. iTunes had been open, waiting.

The sales associate told me I would just plug in the phone and iTunes would finish the deal. Sure enough, there was a message from Verizon that popped up on iTunes solidifying the contract and such. After all that I was able to go into the iPhone through iTunes and turn on Voiceover by selecting the general tab and scrolling down to Universal Access, I believe it’s called.

As soon as the checkbox was checked I heard a female voice come from the phone, saying voiceover was on. I was ready to go. Incredible.

I left it plugged in to the computer since the battery hadn’t come fully charged. I began dragging my finger around the screen, listening as the voice told me what I encountered. At the top left is my signal strength and then as I moved right I heard the time and charge level. As I moved down there were icons like mail, messages, phone, Safari, iTunes, iPod, etc etc.

You activate nothing while you’re doing this. If you stop after you hear messages, the voice says, “messages. Double tap to open.”

Oh and that slider Georgie told me about? The voice says “slide or double tap to unlock.” Very easy.

Initially I was amazed as I dragged around exploring. Once you select something like messages, basically all that means is you stop dragging when you hear what you want, the focus stays there. You double tap anywhere on the screen to open. You don’t have to double tap on the icon itself, which is nice. Can you imagine trying to aim a double tap when you can’t see?

All my contacts were synced from the address book in the Macbook, so everyone was already there. I was able to open up a contact by double tapping anywhere on the screen when I heard their name.

Unfortunately there was one step the sales rep hadn’t mentioned. The phone was on and stuff, but not hooked into Verizon’s network. I tried calling it from the home phone and got a recording that the number had been disconnected. So they cancelled the T-Mobile account and imported my number, but the iPhone wasn’t talking to the network.

I didn’t know how long that switch took so I kept playing. I decided to see if I could dial into voicemail and when I tried, it asked me to enter the phone number. Haha! I thought, it’s gonna take me five minutes to find the keypad so I started saying to Silicone Sally that I needed customer service. That Sally isn’t as smart as T-Mobile’s Sally, but she finally got what my frantic words meant and I got a representative.

Turns out I had to activate the phone. She gave me instructions and I wrote them in a text document on the laptop and began. I double tapped the phone icon which brings up your keypad. It tells you you’re in edit mode so you know you have a keypad or keyboard.

I had to enter star and then three numbers. It was tedious and new, but fairly simple. I managed to hit send. Then I had to press one. Aaah ok drag around, hear one, double tap. Then it had me enter the mobile number. I wasn’t fast enough. Sally kept saying invalid invalid and hung up.

deep breath. You can do this. I must mention it’s harder to work a touch screen for the first time in your life when your hands are shaking because you’re feeling rushed.

I got it on the third time, even when she asked for the last four of my social. Finally it was done and I could now make and receive calls and text messages.

I managed to send B a text that read, “iPhone text”. That took about five minutes hahaha!

I practiced answering a call by calling the iPhone from the home phone. The answer button is on the bottom of the screen and while the call is coming in, you can still drag and wait to hear “send”, then double tap. The phone announces who is calling.

Gamma called shortly thereafter and I was able to answer the call.

I somehow managed to call B when I was trying to reply to his text message and it took me awhile to figure out how to end the call. That was a long voice message haha!

There was never a moment of oh my God I can’t do this, no moments of sheer frustration and panic, nothing. I just played and explored.

I opened up youtube and managed to do a search. You just drag until you find the search field and then double tap. The phone tells you you’re in edit mode and you find your keyboard. I’m a fast typer on the laptop so I know the layout of a keyboard. This helps as you’re dragging to find keys. I would find the key and double tap. It was tedious. I managed to search for Emeel Salem and clicked the Rays Talent Show link that popped up. I played the video. It was awesome! Oh, and you can actually control youtube videos on the iPhone, unlike with the Macbook where I can’t pause or anything. You can on the iPhone. Sweet!

I spent the afternoon just playing. Of course I had to do the most important thing of all – assign ringtones. I can even give people custom text tones. Now I won’t ignore B when I’ve got baseball texts coming in.

I was able to answer the call when B called and end it this time. Hahaha!

Pretty much all I knew about how to work the iPhone was from this page. I had checked it out briefly a few times but didn’t want to lust after the iPhone too much until I was in a position to have one.

A few hours after I had it, I listened to the video there. It showed me a much better way to type. Using both hands, drag a thumb around until you hear the key you want. Leave your thumb there and tap anywhere with the other thumb. Sooooo much faster.

The voice says the letter with a higher pitch so you know you’ve selected it. When entering secure text in a password field, it won’t repeat the letter, playing a sound instead, and only enters bullets. Someone could still hear what you’re entering unless you’re really fast, so if you’re in public, use your headphones if you’re worried.

The phone came with earbuds that are also a headset so you can talk into them on a call. They feel kinda flimsy. I hate ear buds because they tangle so I’ll probably sync my Bluetooth at some point for calls.

I have yet to put music on the phone but that’ll be soon.

Oh one thing I really like is the fact that the screen locks pretty quick after it’s idle. I thought that would drive me crazy having to unlock it but it’s fast and when it’s locked, nothing is going to happen when you pick up the phone. Also, when it’s locked and you hit the home key, she says the time. Nice and easy way to check the time in the mornings.

I haven’t figured out how to adjust volume and rate of Voiceover, but it’s actually good where it is. The voice is much easier to understand than Mobile Speak was.

Since I’m already familiar with iTunes and how to control iPods through it and such, it’s nice and easy for me to do anything to the iPhone like adding apps and stuff. For someone completely new to all of it, it might be a little challenging, but there’s always help online.

Especially with Twitter. You get answers fast. Amanda helped me find the Twitter app she likes and another friend helped me figure out the three fingered swipe to page down in my contacts list or on the ringtone page and such.

There’s a lot more left to learn, but I had the basics down by the end of the day.

I love it so much. If it asked me to marry it, I would!

I had seen an iPhone for like five minutes back when I could see. I knew nothing about it really until I had it in my hands. Remembering where things are is key and once you’ve got that down, you’re gold. You can also move icons on your home screen so things are positioned where you like them. That’s fun, to be able to drag and drop again.

Ok I think that’s it for things to touch on. If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment. Also, if you know of any good resources for really getting in depth with the iPhone and Voiceover, let me know. I learn best when I have a web page or a blog with hints and such. Apple’s site is great, but I’d like some more in depth stuff.

Oh wait, the compass. Have to mention the compass briefly. It’s already on the phone and it’s amazing! I use a braille compass for orientation so I really like this feature. Ok, that’s it. REally.

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Filed under apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool product, emeel salem, Gamma, iPhone, iTunes, proud geek, screen reader, Silicone Sally, twitter me this, Voiceover, wow, youtube

Doggy Diaries – Year ago recap 1

I’ve decided to do a recap of this time last year. Not really sure if recap is the right word, since I’ll be talking about current stuff mixed in with links to posts from last year and doggy school. I meant to start this post much earlier, but got distracted by the shiny Dirk Hayhurst and his live stream of himself reading a few chapters from the next ‘Bullpen Gospels’ book. It was tres cool so now I’m firing off this post before I start to wind down for the night.

When I was looking back on the thirteenth of last year, I had to laugh because the first of three posts listed that day was a survey I took as a boredom time filler haha. I remember it well because it was a Saturday night before Valentine’s Day and I was leaving for GDB on Monday. I remember filling out the survey to kill some time. I think the funniest thing about it was a question about hair, which I described as black, long and straight. And now it’s shades of brown and short. Here’s the link to that post.

The second post that day was all about B paying the Comcast bill and dealing with Silicone Sally. We were wrapping everything up and paying bills and such, because after B dropped me off at the airport, he was going to drive to San Rafael and visit me at GDB. Some of you know what happened with that, but I’ll get to that when I write on the fifteenth. Click here for the Silicone Sally post.

Oops there were four posts I wrote a year ago. The third was a quick landing strip post, the ones I do with search queries that land people here to the Roof. I’ve got one about ready to go that should be fun. Here’s a brief ‘They landed here’ post from a year ago. Coke in the laundry anyone?

The last post written a year ago was about the send off Carin and Steve gave me with a recording over an hour long. If you’ve seen us reference Mafia Guy Bladder, that post explains it.

I wish I had thought to start recapping last year sooner, but you can always go raid the archives. I remember it being a very scary and emotional time, mixed with excitement and accomplishment, since I wasn’t even two years blind when I got on that plane to meet Insert who turned out to be Jayden.

I’m really excited to recap the next few weeks and remember class, and I’ll probably go a little beyond that to remember the transitioning once we got home.

Phew, ok, got that post hammered out, time for Jay’s nightly treat to get him to drink some water and then I’ll edit and post. YYes, I bribe him to drink at seven so he’ll pee before bed. πŸ˜‰

Doing a quick edit of this post, I remembered all my half packed luggage that was all over the house haha!

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Filed under Doggy Diaries, GDB, Jayden, on this date, plugs, Silicone Sally

Doggy Diaries – Dress party hair

It’s been busy around here, so time for a monster update.

I’ll start at Wednesday, since I finally got back to the gym then. I had been in quite a slump since the week of not knowing whether I was sick or not. The lovely vicious cycle of auto immune, get fatigued, need to rest, rest too much, non activity makes fatigue worse, fall out of routines, get nothing done, mental state gets affected by messy kitchen and not working Jayden much, finally get the energy to start to snap out of it, special circumstances not relating to auto immune interrupt attempt, mental state gets worse, event coming up that must be planned for, have shopping date lined up, not looking forward to it, party coming up, dreading it, planned day arrives and is perfect medicine for getting back to life. And on and on and on lol.

It felt great to work out Wednesday but I was still just really blah. Thursday I had plans to go shopping with Georgie for my holiday party dress. She’s at the university, so things have been crazy for her, and the day before the party was going to be the best day for her. I was dreading shopping, even though I normally love it and this year was going to be even better since I’m at my slimmest. Luckily once she got here, I was finally looking forward to it.

We went to JC Penny because that just seems to be the best place for holiday dresses. You get something cute but don’t spend a ton. Georgie was armed with what kind of material I needed. No wool or velvet or anything that would make dog hair cling. It seems as though the fashion this year is that one strap look, which I did not want. Georgie found four different black dresses. I hadn’t really had an idea in mind about color, but it seemed black was it.

The first dress I tried on was the one. I tried on the others for fun but the first one was a no brainer. It’s black but on the bottom it’s embellished with little silver things. It’s knee length and A-line, which Georgie said just looked amazing on me. It passed the dog hair test, fur just falling off. It also had these tiny little snaps under the straps that went around bra straps. I’d never seen that before, genius!

We went to the shoe department. I wanted flats; I do not do heels. She handed me a shoe but it had a corduroy type material on it. That would not pass the dog hair test. She found another pair and went to go get them from the sales person.

I’m sitting there, Jayden at my feet, my dress in the chair beside me. I hear the bell ringer outside. Ring ring ring. Jayden had been very distracted by that when we entered the mall and I couldn’t hear Georgie over it. Finally the ringer had taken a break so I could get inside. Ring ring ring. JC Penny announcements over the intercom in english then spanish. Someone walks out and sets off the security thing. Silicone Sally says, “Please return to the nearest sales associate. We must not have removed the security device.” She repeats in spanish.

Ring ring ring. Ring ring ring. People talking. People everywhere. I hear murmurs about Jayden. Children in the distance. Ring ring ring. Where’s Georgie?

I finally start to get a little panicky. Eventually Georgie runs over and tells me she’s waiting for them to get the shoes, they had finally gotten to her, only two people working the shoes. She goes back over. Then finally comes back. Shoes way too big. She goes back. They don’t have a smaller size. Sales associate comes over, apologizing for the wait, asking if she can help us find anything else. Georgie explains about dog hair. The associate finds a pair of black leather ballet flats with silver decorations on the bows. Oh perfect! Please have my size! She goes to get them. Georgie and I sit there. Ring ring ring. Associate comes back. They fit! Let’s get out of here.

I saved over a hundred dollars. The dress was a hundred and so were the shoes, both marked down to thirty. Wow! Georgie and I went to lunch. We went to the diner. They’ve closed. Man. We went to Denny’s. They have patty melts now. We both get that and then Georgie orders half the appetizer platter. We used to always get that. I accuse her of trying to make my dress not fit. It’s a size 10! Last year’s was a 14. My new dress fits perfectly. What’s all this food gonna do?

Before Georgie had come to get me, I had been working out getting to a hair appointment on Saturday, the day after the party. I’m more excited about that than the party. πŸ˜‰

Friday comes and I took it easy, talking on the phone for most of the morning, then slowly beginning the getting ready ritual. Sometimes getting ready really wears me out, so I did it all in stages. I had to wonder if the party was the fun part, or if the preparation was? All the exfoliating and moisturizing and pampering. I blow dried my hair even though I rarely did that, to make my hair even straiter and fuller. It reached my waist, long and black against my black dress.

B took some pics of me with his cell phone cam. Sorry I can’t share them here. I new the sun would be setting and it would be perfect. I put the pics on FAcebook and got compliments before I even left the house. Nice!

We drove out to the party. It was at this golf resort where it had been the first time I went to B’s holiday party. We parked and began the long trek inside. I don’t think B wanted me to work Jayden because he told me to grab his arm. We had to walk through a parking garage and there were lots of moving vehicles. Once we got up to the floor where the party was, it was mayhem. People everywhere! I had Jayden on a tight lead and did human guide with B. It would have been really hard to work Jayden and keep track of B with all those people and noise. The doors to the ballroom weren’t open yet. B asked if I wanted to go outside where it looked quieter. I was going to use the GL since Jayden was quite attracted to all the people. We went outside and found a friend of B’s and his wife. The friend had retired, but was still doing some consulting. His wife had just had foot surgery, so she was gimpy. I didn’t have Jayden’s GL, oops! I’d forgotten it was in my backpack. It was fine though, I just moved his collar up. Just that little thing makes him listen better. We sat outside for awhile and more people came over, some I had met before. One couple were admiring Jayden and how good he was, so I gave them a crash course in puppy raising. I also let them say hi to Jay and they were just in love with him.

Finally the ballroom doors opened and we went in to find a table. B’s friend found a table near the hallway doors, perfect. We wouldn’t have to weave through all the tables. I sat by his wife and we instantly started talking. We hit it off quickly. Before dinner was served, B took Jay and me to the restroom. This was the main place Jay did his job haha! Thank God for him, because the restroom was huge. No problem though; he’s perfect in restrooms haha!

When we got back, Jay instantly lay on my left. He usually passes out quickly but he was alert for the longest time, sitting there with his head up. I kept reaching over to touch him and make sure he was ok with all the stimulus.

The salad was yum and then our main dishes arrived. We had ordered about a month before the party and I didn’t choose the meat dishes because it was either steak or chicken, too hard to cut. I had ordered a vegitarian dish even though when B had described it I couldn’t quite tell what it was. When I got it, I was pleased to find it in a large bowl. Perfect for containing mess haha! It turned out to be almost like a greek plate, kinda like ravioli but in a pastry instead. It was delicious! All through dinner I chatted with my new gimpy buddy and we laughed about our men waiting on us. There was coffee nearby, Starbucks yum, so B kept going to refill for me. Her husband went and got her decaf. We had fun being waited on.

I met countless people. I saw people I hadn’t seen in awhile. Jayden finally passed out around when I started eating dessert, a custard type thing in a pastry thing, with blueberries and raspberries. Yum!

I was nervous about how it would be when the music got louder for dancing, since last year it was insane. But it wasn’t bad at all this year. We were able to still sit and talk, so we just hung out by our table. I wanted to see if we could find a spot for Jay to pee so B and I went outside and found a large grassy area. Grass! I gave B the leash after Jay relieved so Jay could just walk around and take a break from work. After that we went back inside. Jayden went under the table this time, completely hidden by the table cloth. Several people made comments after I said he was under there lol. There’s a dog under there???

We stuck around for the raffles but didn’t win anything. My new friends left about twenty minutes before we did, and after the last raffle was done, we took off. Things hadn’t gotten crazy like last year, at least not yet. We didn’t stay as late as we did last year haha.

I should mention that even when Jayden was on lead and B did human guide, Jay still worked, putting his paws on steps for me. When that harness is on, even if I’m not holding the handle, it’s like he knows he’s on duty.

We drove home and encountered a ton of cop cars. Still don’t know what was up with that. When we got home, I changed quickly for a good play session with Jay. He just goes nuts after a long work session. He ran around with the Wubba, dropped it, ran back for it, ran around some more, dropped it, lather, rinse, repeat.

We finally crashed out about midnight. What a night! It had been great. I don’t know why I had been dreading it. I’m sure it was because of my lack of energy leading up to it. I was able to conjure enough to make it through, though.

Yesterday morning I woke up excited. I was going to the salon with Lish.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a ton of Scott Westerfeld’s blog and ran across this post about a girl donating her hair after reading ‘Uglies’. Read that post, it’s really sweet. After I read it, I followed Scott’s link to Locks of Love and discovered that they now take colored hair. I had never tried donating before because I’ve colored my hair for years. This was exciting.

I posted about the possibility on Twitter and got several responses telling me how cool that would be. I had been thinking about cutting my hair and finding out I could donate it just cinched the idea. Long story short, through the wonders of Twitter, I found out about a salon in town that gives complimentary cuts and styles when you donate, and they take care of shipping the hair and everything. I had been there before for a trim a long time ago and used to get brow waxes there. Lish used to work there too. She offered to take me and before georgie had shown up on Thursday, I had an appointment for 1pm on Saturday to cut off my long lovely locks.

Friday night was my last night of long hair and I really noticed it. I noticed how it got caught in my purse strap, how I had to pull it back with a clip to eat, how it got caught between my back and the chair. I thought about all the hair that fell out around the house, how it always got stuck in Jayden’s face if it wasn’t pulled back, how I always had a hair band around my wrist. I was nervous to cut it, but knew it was time for a change and knew that someone needed it more than me.

At the salon, they have their apprentices do the complimentary cuts. They are trained stylists, but they are learning that salon’s way. I really liked my stylist. He listened to exactly what I wanted before cutting my hair. He sectioned it into four ponytails, to maximize the donation, Lish explained. She had donated her hair before too. When I felt the stylist snipping, I squealed and so did Lish. Lots of laughing haha!

Jayden did great at the salon. I think he was still exhausted from the night before. He just passed out beside me. Girls kept coming up and saying what an awesome dog he was, how they wished they could get a lab like that. I explained about career change adoptions and how to look into that. They were all very excited.

The cut took awhile. He did a great job of really shaping and doing what I wanted. I had told him I wanted a bob but not a crazy angled bob. He gave me just that. So now my hair falls just to the nape of my neck and gets a little longer on the sides. When it’s tucked behind my ears, it barely comes passed the lobes. It’s way short! Each ponytail was a foot long. Nice!!

When he was finishing up with the cut and style, the colorist came over for a consult. I’ve colored my hair with boxed temporary black for years now. I want to go lighter, so we talked at length about that process. I have an appointment in early January to start the lightening process. I can’t wait!

So that, in a nutshell, was the last few days. After we walked out of the salon, I felt my fatigue begin to say hi. It had held off for the time I needed it too and now it was begging for coffee. We got home and B couldn’t believe how short my hair is haha! I had told him before we left that I’d be back with his new girlfriend. He just kept saying wow, wow, wow. Haha! He likes it. πŸ˜‰

I forced myself to stay up until about nine last night and then gratefully took Jayden for his last relieving and crawled into bed. I’m looking forward to washing my new cut today. Oh, I also lied to Gamma. I told her Lish and I were going to lunch. I want to surprise her today with my new cut. It’s gonna be fun!

I think I’m taking the day off tomorrow. I can definitely feel how all the activity over the last few days has me tired. Time to finish my crochet projects. I must get them shipped out. Talk about delayed.

Ok, must get through another few hours and then I can relax. =D

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Filed under coffeeholic, Doggy Diaries, Gamma, holiday, Jayden, num num food, plugs, puppy raisers, relieving, Silicone Sally, spoons, treat for me, twitter me this, working dog, workouts, wow

Doggy Diaries – He’s in love

Jayden has a new best friend. I have been replaced. Yep. I should just turn over the harness. πŸ˜‰

Wednesday night, B’s dad arrived from West Virginia. B’s birthday is today, so his dad came out for the occasion. He stopped by on his way to the hotel from the airport at around 9pm or so Wednesday night. I have never seen Jayden go so absolutely nuts!

Usually he gets excited when people come over but pretty quickly he goes back to his calm self. Not with B’s dad. Jayden was just sniffing and wagging and wiggling and getting all excited. He gave B’s dad tons of kisses. When he left that night, Jayden stood by the door as if to say, where’d he go? Can’t we keep him?

Yesterday morning when B’s dad, you know I’m just gonna call him dad, came back, Jayden went nuts all over again. Oh I forgot to mention that the night before I had put Jayden on leash for a little bit until he calmed down some. Yesterday morning I didn’t, after dad had made it clear he didn’t mind. So Jayden greeted him enthusiastically again and I just kept marvelling at how much he loves dad already.

We hung around for a bit and then loaded into dad’s rental car, a nice bright red Impala. I like those cars, lots of rom. We went to Saavi so dad could see the place I write about so much.

It was fun to walk around there and say hi to people and be in clothes that aren’t gym clothes haha! I showed dad the gym where I spend so much time and then walked around the rest of the place. It was cool to work Jayden and show dad how it all works in a place I know so well. Jayden seemed a little confused that he wasn’t getting on his exercise mat haha!

After we left Saavi, we went to B’s office which was really cool because I had never been there. Just after I lost my sight, his office moved to a new location and I haven’t been able to picture it. I got to sit in his chair and feel around his desk to get a good mental image of the place.

Jayden did pretty well during all the touring, but I have got to work on his love for people. He wants to say hi to everyone. I know part of it is that they say hi to him first because it seems no one knows any better, but Jayden just can’t seem to avoid temptation. He doesn’t do it a whole lot at Saavi, because most people there are well trained when it comes to guide dogs. So, after getting a really good show of it at B’s office, I know I’m gonna have to do some work on that.

After that we came back home and the cable and internet were down. Uh oh. Not good. Call cable company. Silicone Sally says, “We recognize your address of {insert address here} is part of a service outage. We are working on the problem. Would you like a call from out automated system when the problem is corrected?” I select yes. They never give you an ETA in those recorded messages. They didn’t seem to understand that we needed the cable back by 4:30. The West Virginia football game was on then. Dad said we could use the tv at the hotel as a plan B. I showed him my computer so he could see how I do all the stuff online. Even though we couldn’t access the internet, I’d had a few webpages up that he could see and I wrote out some stuff so he could hear it. and he left to get a nap.

B played his video game and I made some popcorn and listened to a movie. It’s amazing how unconnected you feel when the internet is down. Wow. It’s such habit to check email and FB and Twitter and blogs.

I went to clean out my email because it’s just gotten insane and I’m finding that I’m missing emails, meaning I get them but amid the clutter, I’m not reading them. I never got around to cleaning it out though because suddenly emails were pouring in. The net was back, baby!

I got the automated call from the cable company about forty five minutes later. Thanks, Sally, I know it’s back.

Dad came back about 4pm much to Jayden’s delight. At halftime they went and got burgers from 5 Guys Burgers and Fries. Yummmm.

After the game we sat around for a bit and talked. Jayden mostly stayed by dad. I had to beg him to curl up with me on our couch. That brat. πŸ˜‰

After dad left for the night, Jayden and I went to bed. Jayden was one tired boy after all the work that morning and the excitement over dad.

I just heard a car door and thought he might be here and so did Jayden, who tore to the door. He should be here any time now. It’s sooo nice having him here. I wish it would be for longer, but he leaves Sunday morning.

Not sure what we’ll do today. It’s B’s birthday. Happy birthday my love! I got him a new desk chair, which I’ll have to write about in more detail in another post. The funny thing was, when I sat in his chair at work, I noticed that the new chair is pretty much identical to his work chair haha! He was so surprised and happy about his new chair for home, though. I gave it to him Tuesday rather than make him wait until today. Really, there wasn’t a way to hide it haha! Carol helped a great deal with getting that chair, so I’ll write a post about it soon.

Tonight we’re going to the Melting Pot for B’s birthday dinner. Yummmm.

Alrighty, there was a large gap in there since dad got here right as I finished writing about the Melting Pot. We went and did some shopping. Jayden got some new toys and the cats got some things. We checked out the cat houses, but we’re not sure we’re gonna get one yet. Jayden got a back up Kong, a Kong Wubba, a Kong Wobbler and a two sided Kong tug toy. Finally, some new toys. I don’t think that Wubba is gonna last long, though. The top part already has some fraying. Geez.

It was loads of fun when he was figuring out the Wobbler, though. We had a good time just sitting on the floor with him while he worked on it.

B and dad just stepped back out to do more shopping and I stayed home. I’m exhausted. I thought about making some phone calls but I’m too tired. Just finishing up this post. Oh yeah, there was another dog in one of the stores. That wasn’t fun. Blech. It wasn’t the pet store. It was an electronic store. I’m not even gonna write about it.

Anyway wow, I started off this post all jovial and now I’m just tired haha!

Oh PS – Jayden did great with all the shopping. πŸ™‚

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Filed under birthday, Doggy Diaries, dogs, family, Jayden, num num food, Silicone Sally, sports, working dog

I will not throw electronics

I’m not sure if I’ve told the story about the murder of the cell phone. I’m pretty sure I mentioned before about wanting to put the laptop in the freezer, though.

A few years back, I got a sweet deal on a phone upgrade. I opted for a sleak Samsung slider phone and was thrilled that it took pictures and video. It was a Christmas present I had bought for myself; my first Christmas in my nice new apartment.

Five months later, I was diagnosed with MS after my right eye went blind. I was trying to apply for disability and was calling Social Security for something. I had been having problems with the phone dropping calls in my apartment and had spoken with T-Mobile about it. The day I murdered the phone, I was sitting in my bedroom making my phone calls.

I can still picture the scene. At the time I had a light green feather comforter, a bargain I had found at a thrifty store. The blinds were open and the room was bright and cheery. My back faced the window and in front of me across the room, was the solid oak dresser my Gamma had gotten for me as a house warming. It stood tall and proud with five roomy drawers.

I dial Social Security, get through all the Silicone Sally speak, enter in all my information, tell Miss Sally I’d like to speak to a human please, and get placed on hold.

Tick tock. Your call is very important to us. Your call will be answered in the order it was received. Tick tock.

I’m pretty sure that was in the days before it told you how much longer you had to wait. I stayed by the window, because it seemed I had better reception and less chance of dropped calls if I stayed by a window.

Tick tock.

I know it was about thirty minutes because I remember thinking that was the longest I had ever been on hold.

Tick tock.

A cheerful voice comes on the line finally. How may I help you?

Dead air. Dropped call. Phone goes flying before I can think, hits the proud solid oak dresser and shatters.

I sit stunned. Then I laugh. I go inspect the remains. It’s dead all right. Gutted. I could have called the time of death but I don’t think I was in a morbid mood. At that point all I could do was laugh.

Luckily I still had the old flip phone and T-Mobile runs on sim cards, so I just swapped them back and was not out a phone. I put the crumpled and shattered remains of my viciously murdered phone into a Ziplock baggy. I took them to the store where they informed me there was nothing they could do. I didn’t have life insurance on my phone, so I was just out the fifty bucks I had spent after rebates.

I never threw an electronic device after that. I could have today.

I’ve been listening to Stephan King’s ‘Duma Key’ on my nifty iPod nano 5g, which doesn’t need headphones. It’s really great for listening to books. Last night I was laying in bed listening when the battery died. No, I did not almost throw it. Remember I said I could have thrown an electronic device today, not last night. Plus, I had been expecting the battery to die. When I charge it, I lose my place in my book and then have to go hunt for it, so I just play it until the battery dies, keeping it paused at night. I can just hear all the Victor users screaming at me to get a Victor. I’m sure you don’t lose your place with Victor. Anyway, this isn’t about Victor.

So today I decide to find my place in the book in iTunes on my laptop while the iPod is charging. I didn’t feel well this morning and into the afternoon and was nursing a migraine which eventually took it’s leave.

I’m listening to my book for awhile and it’s just riveting. One of King’s best I think. It’s getting really good. It’s nearing what I can tell is going to be a climax, a snapping of the rubberband with all the tension going on. My two writer friend’s will appreciate that.

It definitely reached a climax and then took a turn. A turn that was making me nauseous. A winding road, no make that a narrow winding road, on the side of a mountain with nothing but jagged rocks and seething wild water below. Yeah, that’s how it felt. Then it felt like the car was about to plummet. All it took were about ten words penned by Mr. King. They weren’t even scary words. Nothing gross or rotting or ghostly or even supernatural was happening yet. It was that foreshadowing that he is just such a master at. A very obvious piece of foreshadowing that he had been alluding to but which I kept pushing away, hoping he wouldn’t go there. And then he did. At least he sure made it sound like that’s where it’s going.

I thought I’d vomit. I couldn’t pause it fast enough. Had it been the iPod, I might have thrown it. Had it been an actual book, it might have gone in the freezer. All I could do was scramble to hit pause and keep my mouth covered and Call Carol. She didn’t answer so I took Jayden out after texting B and telling him the book almost made me vomit. He’s the one who bought it for me after reading it himself.

So what’s with the freezer, you might ask. I’m a big fan of ‘Friends’. In one of the episodes, Joey is reading ‘The Shining’. Coincidence that it was a Stephan King book? Hmmm. Anyway, Rachel walks in and Joey is shoving the book in the freezer because it scared him. Later when he’s reading Little Women and a death occurs, Rachel asks if he wants to put the book in the freezer, to which he mumbles “yes” in a choked sob.

So until I can read braille well, I don’t think any of my electronic devices will rest easy. I can swear that I’ll never throw one, or put one in the freezer, but there are no guarantees, especially when it comes to the likes of Stephan King.

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Filed under apple Inc, Audio books, braille, cool product, Gamma, humor as coping skill, iTunes, Jayden, random stuff, Silicone Sally, silly girl, spoons

Silicone Sally and B

B is so funny when he pays bills and has to deal with Silicone Sally. The last few times he’s paid the Comcast bill, it’s been a nightmare. They keep changing their systems, so just when you get used to one menu, it changes. They used to just require you to push buttons, and now it’s a mixture. So for some stuff, you have to speak and for others you can just press buttons.

We use different cards to make our payments because we pay different shares, and for months now, it will only let us make one payment in a day. You make one payment, and try to make another and it tries to transfer you to customer service.

anyway, so he calls tonight to pay my share since we’re taking care of everything before we leave. They’ve changed the menu again. So they’re saying all the options and nothing about making a payment. B says, “what the ****?” Sally says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that’ and launches into the menu again. So B says it slowly, “What. The. ****” Again Sally is confused, so B hangs up.

He called back again and figured out where to go to make a payment and then Sally asked a question like, is that correct. When B said yes, she said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite understand that” or something. So B puts on a really polite voice and says, “Yes! That was correct!” To which Sally replies, “Ok, thank you.” Haha!!

It goes on like this, B having to give complete sentances for her to understand and then she repeats my card number and finally gives him the confirmation number. Then she asks if she should repeat the confirmation number and B says, “No ma’am!!”. And finally the call is over. I said that was painful. He said it was comical haha!

So that was our Silicone Sally fun tonight. I’m getting really nervous and not much is going on on Blogger and FB or email so I’m going a little crazy.

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Filed under humor as coping skill, Silicone Sally, where is everyone?

Happy New Year!

I had to laugh this morning when I checked the time on my phone and he said “January zero 1, twenty ten”. I don’t know why that made me laugh. Guess I got so used to hearing two thousand and nine”. He actually said the “and”.

I slept a blessed ten hours aaah. Oh sleep how I love thee. I had a decent night last night. Got to blow off some steam with Carin and Steve which was wonderful. It’s amazing, I think I’ve only known them since like October or something, and having them go away caused a glitch in the matrix or something. Carin put up a screen reader singing Aulde Lang Zine. I just realized I have no idea how to spell that.

B and I had Hungry Howie’s pizza. I had them once years ago and when B got home, there was a flier for them on the door. It’s the first time for either of us that that kind of marketing actually worked. They have this flavored crust, very good.

Then we watched Robin Williams – Weapons of Self Destruction. L had put a link to a clip of him up on Facebook, because he does this bit where Bob Dillon is a GPS. I watched that the other day and was laughing hard, so we watched the whole thing last night. In the youtube clip, he does a Silicon Sally type bit too and it’s too funny. Here is the clip, but if you don’t like swearing, don’t watch it.

I realized that I need to watch more stand-up comedy. It’s pretty perfect for a blink. Not a lot of fisuals. Hey Steve and Carin, who’s that blind comedian? Comedy is good for the soul lol. I liked this one too, because Robin Williams is like me. He admits it, so I can. And his jokes about alcoholics cracked me up! I think the combo of sleep, comedy and my favorite Canadians are responsible for my waking up in a good mood.

2009 was actually a pretty good year, despite the horrible economy and everything. So I guess I should say that 2009 was personally a good year. So hopefully 2010 will only get better, but I hope I didn’t jinx myself by saying that. Ok, 2010 can be just as good as 2009, it doesn’t need to get better. There, did I un-jinx myself?

Cats are going wicked nuts right now. They tend to do that when I get up. Like, mom’s up!!! Yay!!!! We don’t have to be quiet!!!!

I have that too much sleep headache. Just a little one. Coffee is slwoly taking care of that. It’s like my body is going, you are 2 to 3 hours late with the coffee. Wtf? At least I’m not hungover, yay! This was my 5th New Year’s Eve sober woo hoo! Oh, if you’re hungover, I always liked mixing Gatoraide with Canada Dry ginger ale. Or of course, the hair of the dog that bit me, but I’d always wait until noon, so the gatoraide and ginger ale combo held me off till then πŸ˜‰

Anyway, oh holy crap I was about to close this post when timmy and Spinelli came running in and clawed their way up the other couch. I always have to pause, because I never know if I’m about to have a cat jump on me. Ok, back to closing. Happy 2010 everyone!

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Filed under cats, coffeeholic, gratitude, holiday, new year, plugs, screen reader, Silicone Sally, silly girl, sobriety, spoons, youtube

I want to but I can’t

Happy Friday the 13th. Blech. Its living up to its superstition.

I want to write about my phone adventures today, clearing up that insurance stuff and introducing Silicone Sassy, Sally’s sister, but I just don’t have the energy.

I’m sitting here with a Vicks scented tissue jammed up my left nostril. I feel completely whiped out. Good thing I stayed home.

I have to write a post for that 30 in 30 thing, so I’m writing this right now in case I pass out and don’t come back to the computer.

Maybe afternoon coffee will give me enough pep to introduce Silicon Sassy, and another blogger gave me the idea to write about my vacuum experience.

Fun posts lining up, but my spoon drawer be empty.

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Filed under coffeeholic, NaBloPoMo 2009, random stuff, sicky sick, Silicone Sally, spoons