Category Archives: Voiceover

Baking Blind Part 1 – Measuring

I decided to write some posts on how I bake blind. I asked on Twitter if anyone had any questions and the only response I got was from Davis:

@newspaper_man @Raynaadi yes…are you nuts? lol 🙂 i’ll think of something serious soon.

Davis is sighted and has always expressed interest when I tweet about cooking and such. Honestly, when people are impressed by something I do, it eggs me on and pushes me towards trying progressively harder things. I often think back on when I was first blind and my friend had to microwave my frozen tamales for me because my microwave wasn’t yet tactilly marked. Oh, how far I’ve come.

One of the classes I took at the blind center when I began my “blind education” as I used to refer to it, was basic cooking. We learned how to safely use a knife to cut, how to use hot things without burning ourselves, basically just how to do the things we used to do but this time without sight. We were given the recipes of the things we made in class and a friend of mine came over one day so we could make the stuffed mushrooms. Delicious! I had her put them in the oven though. I still wasn’t comfortable with that.

I think the stuffed mushrooms were probably the most complicated of the recipes. We made this awesome fruit dip, french toast, a microwave egg thing, different meats on the George Foreman grill, all with safety in mind.

When I decided a few months back to tackle baking, I combined what I knew about baking from Mom back in my sighted teenhood and added things I learned from the blind center. Practice began to make perfect and several batches (and another pant size up) later, I’ve come up with a system that works pretty well for me.

I was talking to my friend Chupa on the phone yesterday and we got around to talking about my desire to write baking posts. She laughed and said she almost suggested I write about baking when I asked for blog ideas on Twitter to help during NaBloPoMo. No one seemed to have any ideas in the Twitterverse haha. Anyway, on the phone she asked me how I measure things. So that’s what I’ll answer today.

Before I do anything, I move my coffee maker and paper towels off the largest part of my counters and wipe the entire surface down. Like a painter with a blank slate, I have to begin with a clean surface and tidy kitchen.

I had forgotten a lot of things about baking. I noticed this when I started again. I couldn’t remember if a measure of baking soda was heaping or level. Twitter helped a lot to refresh my memory, thanks bakers! It all came back to me. Baking is pretty precise in the measurements of things like baking soda/powder and flour. Those are the base ingredients that make a cookie a cookie or a cake a cake. Most recipes will call for whisking together all your dry ingredients in a bowl to be added later, which is nice because I like to measure all the dry stuff before my countertop gets wet. Measuring my flour etc first allows me to put the bowl away from the sink and any wet mess that happens.

The blind center gave us a handy tip for measuring small amounts of liquids and I’ve carried this tip over to my small amounts of dry ingredients. I use aluminum measuring spoons bent into miniature soup ladles. Wow, Voiceover can’t pronounce the plural of ladle haha!

We were taught to pour liquids into a dish so we could ladle out the proper amount. Vanilla extract for example. In class, we poured dry ingredients over the ladle, holding it over a bowl, and leveled off with the flat of a knife. We used a funnel to put the ingredient back into the jar.

I adapted this technique to fit my preference though. Instead of putting the dry ingredients back after measuring, I just took them all out of their original packaging.

I am my Gamma’s granddaughter. I save plastic containers. Small margarine container? This might come in handy. Cottage cheese container etc etc. So now my cinnamon and cream of tarter live in butter plastics (as I call all plastic containers). My baking soda is in a cottage cheese plastic. Oh I also keep some salt in a butter plastic. I keep that on top of the baking soda plastic so I don’t mistake it for cream of tarter. Ew! This makes it all super easy to just dip my ladle measure into the powder and level off with the flat of a knife.

To level I just hold the ladle over the container and run the flat side of a butter knife along the handle until I feel the spoon part and then I just run it across and the excess falls back into the plastic. Now I have a perfectly level ladle of the powder the recipe is calling for.

Back to the vanilla, I leave that in its original bottle. I have these little cups that came with my mom’s Corell dishes way back in the seventies haha! All the dishes are white with this green trim of flowers all around the edges. I don’t think I’ll ever use any other dishes. Anyway, one of the little cups has a pour spout on it. So I pour some vanilla into that cup and ladle the called for measurement into another dish. Then I slowly pour the vanilla back into the bottle. I do this over the sink in case I drip.

I jumped ahead a bit since I always do the vanilla and eggs after I’ve measured all my dry stuff, including flour and sugars. For those bigger amounts, I do it the same way I did when Mom taught me all those years ago. I still use her Tupperware measuring cups! They stack into each other nicely so it’s easy to feel the ascending order. I couldn’t remember what was what though so I did Facetime with Carol and she read what was what on the cup, wrote it down on her end, and then I typed the measurements into a text document. Only problem was, I kept having to check the document when a recipe called for something other than a 1/4 cup or 1 cup haha! Just the other day I was like ok I need to memorize these. There’s only six of them. Yes, I should just be able to think of them in terms of fractions and how they grow larger, but my brain doesn’t work that way. So now I just think to myself,4,3,2,3,4,1. That translates to 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4 and 1 cup. That’s just what works for me.

So Mom taught me to put my cup on a plate and then add what I’m measuring to the cup, making it nice and heaping. Then I take the flat of the knife again and level off the cup, the plate catching the excess. I keep my ingredients in containers with openings wide enough to easily pour the excess back in. I use the same plate for all my ingredients, just making sure it stays dry. Flour is done first since I measure the other ingredients it’s usually mixed with first, like baking soda and salt and such. Granulated and brown sugars are usually mixed together so I do my brown sugar last since it’s stickier.

Recipes almost always call for your brown sugar to be packed so there’s an extra step when measuring it. I use a large soup spoon and after every scoop of brown sugar I add to my cup, I use the round side of the spoon to pack it into the cup. I don’t level the brown sugar, just scoop and pack until it’s at the top.

I think that pretty much wraps up the measuring part of baking blind. My rule of thumb is, baking soda/powder and flour should be measured precisely as the recipe says. Ingredients like cinnamon and salt and even the sugars can be tweaked a bit based on taste. Oh chunky ingredients like oats and raisins and chocolate chips and nuts (yummmm) I measure in the specified cup but they’re usually slightly heaping, especially raisins.

Who’s hungry? I am. If you have any questions about measuring, just leave a comment. If you’re curious how I do other parts of the baking process blind, please leave a comment. Also, if you have a different way of doing any of this, I’m curious to know! These are all just ways I’ve learned or adapted to suit me.

Oh last thing. Mom taught me to wash my hands before starting a thing and never to touch my face or hair or clothing with my clean hands. I am a stickler about this especially now that my hands are my eyes and I touch everything. Good hygiene in the kitchen is important to me, so if you ever eat any of my baked goods, rest assured nothing except ingredients will be inside haha! I don’t go so far as to wear a hair net but my hair is always pulled back. Ew, hairy cookies!

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, blind tips, Gamma, mom, NaBloPoMo 2013, num num food, twitter me this, Voiceover

“Midnighters #2: Touching Darkness” (Midnighters Trilogy) by Scott Westerfeld – narrated by Voiceover (iOS Kindle app)

Link to Midnighters #1 review

Friday morning I was super sleepy after Snorey McSnorison kept me up half the night so I wanted to just lay down again for a bit and decided to return to the ‘Midnighters’ book I had abandoned way back in May or June. I had forgotten about upgrading my iPhone since then so I had to sign back into Amazon in the Kindle app and when I returned to the book, it seemed like the bookmark had jumped ahead a bit. I tried to go back and ended up at the beginning of the book. I decided to just listen again since I couldn’t really remember much. I left it at my usual speaking rate instead of slowing it down like I had with the last book and before I knew it I was back at the halfway point where I had left off. Turns out the bookmark hadn’t skipped ahead haha. I finished the entire book in one day with Voiceover talking nice and fast. I certainly couldn’t imagine doing all my books that way, but for books unavailable in audio, it’s a great backup.

One thing that really stood out to me in this book is that usually the second books of trilogies tend to be my favorite. There’s no setting up or concluding so second books tend to just be action packed good fun. This book didn’t really do it for me. The first one was so creepy with the introduction of the monsters that come out in the secret hour. This time I knew what they were so the creep factor was negated. Though the new human element to the monsters was kind of interesting.

I’ll read the third book at some point because it’s Scott Westerfeld so come on, of course I’ll read it. I’m also betting the third book gets crazy as the trilogy is concluded, especially since now a Midnighter might just have an inside track on the monsters.

This series just is not my favorite from Mr. Westerfeld my hero. I really have to believe that the fact these aren’t in audio format is playing a huge part in how I feel about them. I just don’t experience that heart pounding adventure that I do with a good narrator. Very grateful for the Kindle app though, that’s for sure.

“Touching Darkness” at the Amazon Kindle Store

More Roof Reviews

***Completely unrelated to books, have six happys. It might get a bit dusty when you read that. I think I might start adding random links to things I like in my book posts. Maybe. Who knows. Like Easter Eggs? Haha!***

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Filed under 2013 Book List, Amazon, iPhone, NaBloPoMo 2013, Voiceover

Handwriting in iOS 7 – Most Excellent!

The other day when someone retweeted @Ducktail’s demo of handwriting in iOS 7 I played the demo not sure what I’d find. Not long into it my hands were covering my face as I listened, completely amazed and filled with gratitude toward Apple.

In iOS 7, we’ll be able to draw letters on the screen! Not only will this allow us to hand write text, but it can also be used to search the device for apps. Looking for Sound Hound? Draw an “s” on the screen and a list of all your apps beginning with the letter “s” come up. I cannot wait for this feature! I hadn’t thought about how much I miss writing letters!

It seems like this could definitely be difficult for those who never used handwriting, for sure, but for someone like me who wrote the letters of the alphabet until I was twenty-nine, this will bring back something I thought I’d lost forever! The ability to hand write! Oh man. I’m so excited hahahahaha!

Ok, as LeVar Burton likes to say, bydhttmwfi. go have a listen to the demo. It’s an auto play Dropbox. Just go listen. Oh man! So cool! So amazing! Thank you, Apple!

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Filed under accessibility, Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool product, demo, gratitude, iPhone, misty eyes, plugs, screen reader, twitter me this, Voiceover, wow

“Midnighters #1: The Secret Hour” (Midnighters Trilogy) by Scott Westerfeld – narrated by Voiceover (iOS Kindle app)

I have listened to every Scott Westerfeld novel available in audio format and was deeply dismayed not to be able to find the Midnighters trilogy. Every time I read something on his website that referenced the trilogy I would feel sad and left out.

When my friend Ricardo told me the Kindle app for iOS was accessible, the Midnighters trilogy was the first thing to come to mind and I was so excited to find that Amazon had it. I wasn’t too sure how I would feel about having a synthesized voice read me an entire novel but I had gone without for so long it was worth a shot. It really wasn’t that bad. I slowed the voice down quite a bit and it basically turned the book into an audio book. I definitely wouldn’t choose it over a human narrator but it’s certainly better than not having access to a book!

Soon after Jessica Day arrives in Bixby Oklahoma where her mom has gotten a new job, Jessica discovers that the hour of midnight is strange indeed. It seems like the world around her freezes for exactly one hour, everything but her. Imagine what it would be like to run through frozen rain drops as they hover in the air! It’s not all beautiful though as Jessica soon finds out. It gets downright scary. There were several times as I read this that I shouted at Westerfeld, “what was going on in that head of yours when you wrote that!”

I very much enjoyed this book. For me it wasn’t up there with “Uglies” and “Leviathan” but that could be due to the fact that my phone read it to me. I haven’t really known how to include books I’ll read with the Kindle app here, so I decided I just won’t give them the ratings I do with audio books. I’d recommend this if you’re a Scott Westerfeld fan or just want to read some good young adult fiction. I started the second book in the series but have been distracted by some really good audio books. I’m sure I’ll get back to it before long. I wasn’t able to listen to it for hours like I can with an audio book and I can’t imagine laying in bed at night getting sleepy listening to voiceover read me a book haha. I’m so grateful the Kindle app is accessible now, yay!

Bixby, Oklahoma, is that the same Bixby from the movie Tremors I wonder? Staaaaaaaaampede!

“Midnighters #1” at the Amazon Kindle Store

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Filed under 2013 Book List, accessibility, Amazon, apple Inc, gratitude, iPhone, screen reader, Voiceover

A Phone Call from a Light Dependent Person

It’s Sunday morning and I had just started a podcast when I heard my phone ring but it was just the harp and that’s the no need to run ringtone. I couldn’t hear Voiceover to know who had called so I checked the phone after the podcast and it was my massage guy. Hmmm, why is he calling on a Sunday? I checked the voicemail and had a panicked message from his wife that went something like this:

Hi Ro, S is making the switch to the iPhone so I started playing with the screen reader on mine to get familiar with it before he takes it over and all of the sudden my screen went black and I don’t know what to do and I know you’ve gotten really good with your Iphone so I decided to call so if you could call me back that would be great.

Those weren’t her exact words but I think it’s pretty close. I was laughing as I listened to it and called her back immediately on my massage guy’s phone. She answered laughing which was a good thing and I laughed with her. She put me on speaker and I could hear as she unlocked the iPhone.

Me: When the screen went black did you hear the phone say, “screen curtain on”?

Her: No.

Me: Hmmm, well, try doing a three finger triple tap.

Her: The screen is back!

Both of us burst out laughing. I still don’t know why she didn’t hear the phone announce the screen curtain but at least that was all it was. After we finished laughing about that she asked me why a double tap made her music play.

Me: A double tap? That’s odd, I mean unless you’re on the play button or something…

Her: No actually it’s when I double tap with two fingers.

Me: Oh! Yeah, a two finger double tap will start your music or any audio you had been streaming.

Her: Ok so that is supposed to happen then.

Me, laughing: Yes, that is normal.

We discussed getting together so I can help S get to know his phone. He’s been pretty resistant to the iPhone, being stuck on the whole no buttons thing like so many blind are. I know once he finally makes the switch he’ll be happier than a pig in…you know.

I just thoroughly enjoyed helping a sighted person with her black screened iPhone! She is a “poor light dependent person”, her words. Fun stuff.

Oh, note to self, give her and S a must run ringtone for future iPhone emergencies.

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Filed under apple Inc, funnies, iPhone, random stuff, screen reader, Voiceover

Demo: Making a Text to Speech Audio File with the Mac

[[rate 360]]

I’m going to be writing up a cool book on echolocation tomorrow. I would do it today but I have a demo I want to record and I want to take advantage of an empty house since B is off this week and he’s out right now. This is different because usually I record stuff and then write up the post. This time however, I’m going to use this text to demo using the Mac to make an mp3 recording of a text document.

The book on echolocation prompted me to discover this because the author sent me a text file containing the book. I have no way of holding my place in such a large document so my friend Ricardo explained how to make an mp3 of Voiceover reading the text.

In the demo, I am going to convert this text you’re reading into an audio file. It’s so cool!

Text to Speech Demo

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Filed under Alex, apple Inc, demo, iTunes, NaBloPoMo 2012, techie tips, Voiceover

From the Desk of My Sleep Deprived and Hopeful Mind

I suppose it’s time for another sleep deprived stream of conscious post. And now I have to Google “stream of conscious”, because I can never remember if that’s correct. See it’s a good thing I turned to Google since it’s actually “stream of consciousness”. I think I knew that deep down but then I thought well conscious works too. I mean I’m conscious. I’m sleep deprived but I’m awake.

I woke up at around 2:30am. Mafia Guy Bladder woke me up and I checked the time because my body felt awake. You know those times? When you wake up and your body feels awake so you’re like oh it must be time to get up soon but you check the time and it’s only 2:30am? I could tell I wouldn’t get back to sleep. YOu just know. I gave it the old college try though. Lay there for an hour and then just wanted coffee.

What’s with the saying, “gave it the old college try”? Don’t we use that when we fail at something? Yeah I gave it the old college try but it just wasn’t meant to be. So are we referencing failing college?

The Rays gave it the college try but it wasn’t meant to be. They won last night but were eliminated when the A’s beat the Rangers. I don’t feel like talking about that.

I went to the doctor yesterday and had an anxiety attack. Yes! Yes? Yeah, I was happy about it. You know when your car is making a funny noise and you take it to the mechanic and it stops making the noise? I didn’t want that to happen. I mean I know my doc and she would believe me when I told her about the anxiety and depression but I’m just glad she got to see it. I had scheduled my appointment for 1:10, her first appointment after lunch. Paratransit got me there about 12:50 and they had to unlock the door to let me in. Receptionist said they’d call me up in a bit to check me in when it was time so I used the restroom, came out and sat down. I heard another paratransit and then I heard a white cane and a woman checking in. A slight pang of fear went through me, wondering if they signed her in ahead of me but I thought they knew that duh, I was there, right? Wrong. They called her back first even though I heard her say her appointment was at 1:20. Normally this kind of thing wouldn’t bother me. I know it’s usually a wait at the doc but at mine it’s never that bad. The problem is that taking paratransit means you’re always watching the clock. I thought I scheduled it fine, just like I always do. My return window began at 2:10, an hour after my scheduled appointment. It would have been fine, if it hadn’t been (for those meddling kids) a Monday first of all and then I later found out that they were implementing a new computer system as well.

By 1:30 I hadn’t been called back yet and I felt the anxiety well up. I gave myself a pep talk. If I miss my ride, it’s fine. It’s not going to harm me. I might wait awhile but it’s going to be fine. Stop panicking. Stop it. Oh crap there’s the tears. Well, at least she’ll see what I’ve been going through. When they took me back to do vitals the M.A. tried to help calm me down. I did a little and she said I’d be done by 2:10, the doctor was just finishing up and she’d be right with me. I sat in the room and time ticked by and I started dreaming of grabbing stuff and throwing it. When the doctor came in and saw me she said my dog looked worried. Not, oh hey what’s wrong, why are you crying. Your dog looks worried. My doctor is brilliant. Get me talking about my dog. Calm me down. I love that woman. She assured me I’d be done in time and we were just wrapping up when the driver got there. When you hope the driver will be late, they never are.

Long story short she checked my heart, it sounded fine, she ran through questions and I’m starting Lexapro. I couldn’t get it yesterday. Insurance problems. But of course, right? It’ll be a low dose. I’ve been on it before; it’s what they gave me when I went blind to help me ease into the adjustment. I probably should have just stayed on it. Oh well, lesson learned. I was also cleared to exercise again so yay! There is hope. I feel hope.

I do have to laugh though. She asked me if I’m sleeping. Oh yeah! I sleep great! It’s 4:40am as I write this and I’ve been awake for two hours haha!

I’m going to take a break from this for a minute. I’m hoping to record some blabbering later since I got a new mic so I don’t want to just write everything that’s on my mind and have nothing left to blabber about.

Well that wasn’t much of a break since Twitter is kinda slow. Speaking of Twitter, I has a funny. I’m going to include this in the audio too but this is just too good. Yesterday on the way to the doctor I was on the paratransit and wanted to send a tweet so I started typing in Fleksy listening with my Bluetooth headset. Unfortunately Voiceover just isn’t very loud on the Bluetooth and the paratransit van was noisy so I didn’t really hear Fleksy correctly. I tweeted the following:

@Raynaadi – I’m getting notion sink on this transport wide. #vomit

I didn’t know this until I got home and checked my mentions and Steve asked if I meant to tweet that or if it was an autocorrect fail. I thought with Fleksy you couldn’t have autocorrect fails but apparently that only works if you can really hear Voiceover well. Lesson learned, next time I’ll turn spell mode on when surroundings are loud. It sure made for a great belly laugh though when I really really needed a good belly laugh. I favorited the tweet for future laughs. I’ll definitely include it in the audio though since it’s funny to hear Voiceover say it.

It’s 4:54. I think I’ll edit and see what we’ve got.

I heard a Twitter mention and a DM. Wow both! I also have that Call Me Maybe song in my head. I started thinking about the Rays rookies dance number and now that song is in my head. *Shakes fist* damn you James Shields! I’ll get you! And your little meddling kids too! Or dog. Kids? Dog. Ding don the witch is dead! Another mention, shiny! Ok, that’s a wrap. A 30. It’s 5:16am. Do you know where your slippers are?

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Filed under assistive technologies, baseball, coffeeholic, doc, funnies, gratitude, humor as coping skill, Jayden, mental health, rambles, random stuff, screen reader, Sleep Deprived Fun, treat for me, twitter me this, Voiceover, workouts

Demo: The Awesome ootunes radio app

I am in love with this app! I had planned on blogging about it and decided it needed a demo so now there’s going to be both. I found ootunes thanks to this AppleVis post about it. I explain in the demo why it appealed to me after I read that link. There’s all the information you need about the app there, the ootunes website, App Store link etc. It has the support email address which I used the other day. I talk about that in the demo as well.

There are some things I didn’t mention in the demo or that I want to elaborate on that I noticed when I listened to it:

*I forgot to mention that I favorited all the local sports stations so I might actually get into Arizona sports! I’m excited about this since I used to be a pretty dedicated Wildcats fan in my youth. Baseball has spoiled me now and the only way to listen to sports is with radio. I can do online radio broadcast of college sports but then I can’t really multitask well since I can rarely control the volume on those feeds. So now I’ll have radio feeds on my phone and can just use my bluetooth! I’m very excited.

*I failed to mention how accessible this app is though I’m sure you can tell on the demo. The developer has made a point of making things accessible and this is even mentioned on their app description. This is very cool since I rarely notice that. It seems most apps don’t want to mention that dirty little secret of Voiceover. I’m sure that’s not how those developers see it but I kinda do, and I find it very cool that ootunes advertises Voiceover accessibility.

*I should mention that I have experienced app crashes, but that mostly seemed to happen the night I was doing a lot of favorites adding and starting and stopping. It doesn’t seem to happen during regular usage. Also sometimes the feeds dip out for about twenty or thirty seconds but they almost always come back. That’s just the nature of wireless I think. That always happened with my baseball games until I went hardwired.

*The favoriting part of the demo was confusing, but that’s because I think the favorites feature is a bit confusing. It would be nice if you could add to a favorites group from the get go, but you have to add the favorite and then add to the group. I’m not complaining, I love this app too much. I think I’m going to suggest that to the developer though.

So, if you’ve got thirty-five minutes, come join me as I stumble around this app a bit since I’m still novice, listen as I experience my first “worldly” station, laugh along with some comedy, walk with me down memory lane while I reminisce about cassette tapes and other random ramblings.

ootunes demo

(The file didn’t want to play for me at first so I just opened it again. I think Dropbox might have changed some things.)

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Filed under accessibility, cool product, demo, iPhone, music, plugs, sports, twitter me this, Voiceover

Hanging with Ro Episode 12 – Apple Style

So this episode is all Apple. I’m just showing some new features to some people who were curious and I enjoy doing this stuff. I’m a geek haha. It’s about thirty minutes or so.

Topics include:

*iOS 6

*iPhone 4

*Magic Bullet speaker

*Emeel Salem

*Random stuff

Hope you enjoy!

Episode 12

Uh oh, I’ve got the new Blogger interface. I think I’ll be able to post, crossing fingers.

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Filed under apple Inc, emeel salem, hanging with ro, iPhone, proud geek, twitter me this, Voiceover

Yahtzee!

I think I’m the last one in the blind community to get on board with RS Games. I’ve tried to participate in this gaming site pretty much since I’ve been on Twitter and saw all my friends talking about it, but I could never get it to work. When they added Yahtzee, I tried furiously with no luck. I absolutely love Yahtzee!

Today a friend was talking about it and I asked if he plays on his Mac. He does. I tried downloading again, no go. He put me in touch with the RS Games support person on Twitter and we finally fixed it. I have to turn off my screen reader to play. I kept thinking my computer was shutting down, but it was Voiceover, it looks like.

The game client has its own screen reader I think, but it also detects yours to use. I had to change my system voice back to Alex since Vicky was driving me nuts in the client. The thing is so cool! You don’t use your screen reader to use it, so once the tech guy told me that, it made total sense. I’ve checked out all the games, but Yahtzee is by far my favorite. I used to play that for hours with Mom and my friends back when I was a kid.

I think the last time I played Yahtzee was when I was a drunk playing on the touch screen at the bar. It’s been that long! Today I played three games with bots, the third with two bots and the fourth game with Carin. So far, I’m four for four!!

I figured I’d better fire off a post quickly before I get sucked back in hehehe! Sooooo happy!!!!

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Filed under Alex, apple Inc, cool product, mom, plugs, screen reader, twitter me this, Voiceover