Category Archives: blindness

Why Android is important to the blind. 

In this world we now basically have 2 different types of people. One who likes Android, and One that likes IOS. I’m just kidding. I’m an Apple guy, because I still think as a blind person I can be more productive on my IPhone than an Android phone. The gap is closing, but Android still has a ways to go. In applications so many unlabeled buttons I repeat so many. Ken and I go back and forth on this he says that Android has 3 apps that work better, and somehow that is supposed to win an argument? Haha I will have to give him a link to this, because I think what I’m about to say would surprise him.
 
Android needs and has to keep becoming more accessible to the blind. Not so much for phones, but for other things. I bought a Sony 4k TV. Okay I don’t want 4k, don’t need 4k, and honestly 4k looks as good to 780p to me, but this TV has something that not many other TV sets have offered Android TV with Talkback. For those who don’t know Talkback is a screen reader on Android much like Apple’s Voiceover. With this TV I can change picture and sound settings. I can set timers do anything and everything imaginable which is amazing. As a blind person I’ve never been able to adjust settings on a TV without memorizing something or asking someone for help. I know Abby probably thinks I’m crazy for buying the technology I do, but man I love the fact I can pick up my remote and navigate it like anyone else. The cool thing about this TV is even if you have a cable box that isn’t accessible you can pull a guide through Android. I like it, because my Dish’s speech is painfully slow. I can’t set a dvr recording with it at least that I’ve found but the guide is nice. It even comes with a IR blaster so once you find something you like it changes my dishes box automatically. I will put up a Facebook video for those who are wondering.
 
Android is going to be powering many devices. For the blind people who get caught up in Apple vs Google that’s cool and all, but android will be powering many appliances in the future. Unfortunately because of Apples closed environment you won’t see Voiceover on an ATM machine or in a Washer. I’m to this point where I’m rooting for accessibility just to be an option in as many things as we could get, and so should you. That’s why when I see the NFB propose only Apple should make every app accessible it frustrates me. Again Apple things are not going, and will not in the future not work on non-Apple things. I’m no longer anti google like I may have been at one point. I still don’t like some of what they do, but they also are pushing boundaries of what tech can do. It’s a shame things like talking Microwaves are so hard to find anymore. A few blind living websites have them, but you’ll pay $350. It’s not fair that just to cook pizza rolls I have to ask someone sighted to set up a Microwave with bump dots. What that is for people who don’t know they’re little dots that are raised that stick on to things. When I moved in to my house I had them put on my Microwave, and oven. I’ve not had any fall off yet but it is possible.
 
At work they got me a fablet to test on. It runs Google Tango, and some of what Google is doing with Tango is cool. It has a lot more sensor’s in it than your common phone. On the back it actually has 2 cameras, and can do things like measure depth perception. As I said I wouldn’t buy an Android phone yet personally, but I’m glad it’s an option and some feel that it is better than Apples offering.
 

The importance of braille.

With this blog I’ve said and put in to words a lot of different experiences that I’ve had. I want to talk about something important that a lot of people ask about, but I really haven’t put in to words. Is braille still relevant today?
 
I first got in to this conversation when I went to Ball State. Ethan and Whitney asked me about it after reading an article that someone wrote questioning if braille should still be taught. My opinion has gone back and forth on this, but with my new job especially where I am working with the first ever low-cost display my opinion has changed again.
I would start here would you want your kid to only learn by speech? If your child is sighted I am going to guess your answer would be no. Why are we trying to dictate that blind children would be illiterate? I hear things every day when I sit down with my IPhone or my computer, but being able to read what I wrote is life changing. I want you to take what I am about to say and think about it. I’m 31 years old, and for the first time writing this on my couch I can view my writing. I can see commas, question marks, periods, quotations, and etc. I’ve never had this access before.
 
The reason being is cost. The IPhone came out in 2009 and mainstreamed accessibility by putting Voiceover on every device. As a blind consumer I can go by a phone and turn on speech and use it with no additional cost. I had access to a braille display in college, but it eventually broke and a new one was $3000 and that wasn’t in the budget. Imagine just to be able to read what you wrote if they charged you $3000 for paper and a pencil, so that left me with speech. A lot of my childhood I had speech in everything, but braille really hadn’t become electronic yet so I missed a lot because it wasn’t available.
 
The fact that in a month or so that schools and parents will be able to buy a braille display for around $500 is huge. That is still a lot, but it puts braille in more children’s hands. My dad and mom used to joke but were serious when I went to school in Kindergarten that I had the most expensive backpack. I had a Braille N Speak 640 which was $1500, but it only talked there was no braille output. I went and observed some kids playing with these braille displays and it was amazing. My niece and nephews all have access to IPads or Kindles, but if your blind and a child you don’t really get exposed to braille until your school aged. My 2-year-old Nephew can point at a Netflix logo and say Thomas the Train, but a blind child doesn’t have that ability.
At work in the mornings I usually spend some time talking with Ken. He reminds me of an older version of myself, but smarter. Well maybe I’ll get there. We talk a lot about parents with blind children, and how they try and do too much limiting the things that child could learn. I get the privilege to work with Larry who created one of the first screen readers for Windows, but he cuts his own grass. Ken works on a lot of things in his house. I never learned these things. My parents were really good about letting me experience things, but on some things they still say to me I will help you.
 
One thing I’ve found challenging is doctors’ visits. When I was a kid my mom would fill out the paperwork, and I’d see the doctor. The other day I went in for a toe surgery, and the lady hands me a card with an appointment time and says you can give this to whoever drives you. Really? Again people make me feel like I can’t possibly do something unless I have a sighted person managing things. Maybe that’s an extreme view, but it’s frustrating. My parents doing that when I was little sheltered me from these types of attitudes. Let your kid try things, make mistakes, and then help them learn how to correct it. Being a helicopter parent does nothing useful for your child. One day you will die then what?
 
Sorry back to braille. As an adult I really haven’t had the opportunity to read a lot of braille books, because of convenience. With this display I can pair it to my IPhone and read a book from Amazon or Bookshare. I have things at my finger tips that I’ve never been able to have before. It highly offends me when sighted people discuss the merits of braille and it’s use. Should I do the same for print? After all you can get your newspaper on any device why do you prefer getting an actual copy? I don’t think people stop and think about how much reading helps you with spelling, grammar, sentence structure, and etc.
 
The other thing is graphics are coming a long way also. Ken is in charge of a display that refreshes graphics. Imagine being able to feel long division on a graphical braille display! It’s coming. We’re going to be seeing in the not too far future huge advancements in teaching math to blind children which opens the door to a lot of things. I’m excited to test that display when it’s done. The other thing is you can draw on it. I can make a shape or even draw what I think something looks like then someone sighted can draw me what something actually looks like. That display for now will be out of my price range, but as the Orbit braille display is doing to price maybe in a few versions the graphical displays can also come down. I think as a braille reader were entering an exciting time period for being a braille user.
 
I am doing okay. I am getting better with the cane I don’t feel like a novice anymore. A lot of it is coming back. I think about Robin every day probably always will. I really enjoy the on this day feature on Facebook, because I would write in things and include her so whenever I see one it helps. I still can’t believe how fast her health declined.
 
My friend Denny came in to town last weekend and we had a lot of fun. Abby, Denny, and I all went to the Bats game Friday against the Reds. They did not have the game on the radio, but we just talked the entire time so it was still a lot of fun. Cold, but fun. Sunday we went to Abby’s and she made us lunch it was great. We also sat outside for the first time this year for a few hours. It’s funny we listened to baseball and played Dice World on the IPhone.
 
Abby and I are doing well. It’s hard to believe with each month that passes were nearing 2 years together. Her dog Bancroft has really gotten to be closer to me now that Robin is gone. Not that she wouldn’t allow it, but they both are really close to their owners. I’ll never forget the last weekend with Robin she followed me everywhere she wanted to be in the same place as me all of the time I think she knew. The MLB season has started, so I’m pretty excited to see where teams end up.

Update plus Google vs Alexa

My new job is going well! I get to play with technology, see some cool new things, and look for issues within the software, so really how can it get any better? I still think about Robin every day she crosses my mind. I imagine it’s like a parent losing a kid. I’ve never gone through that, but we were with each other so much I have this void. Even if I get a new dog I’ll miss her the new dog will be fine, and it will do great things, but there not replaceable. I went to a new shopping center over the weekend, and people really do not respond to a cane. I said sir excuse me could you help me or ma’am can I ask you a question? No one responded. Abby and I went to Kroger both with canes since Bancroft her dog, and my boy was getting a bath. We walked in, and got to the pharmacy ourselves with no one really taking notice of us. Finally, a person saw us and came over. Why Kroger do you guys put your customer service counters in weird places that have no cues for blind people to find you? Do you do this on purpose? Lol
 
My friend let me borrow his Google Home, so I thought I’d talk about what I like and dislike as well as compare it to the Echo. I think the Google Home is a solid product. It’s presentation as far as skill quality in my opinion dominates Alexa. For example, if you ask Google to flip a coin you hear a coin flip. If you ask Alexa to flip a coin she just gives you the result.
 
The Google Home just recently received IHeart radio as an option putting it on the same level as Alexa. They both have Tunein as well. I think purely on asking a device to play radio stations Alexa is dominating. I would ask Google Home to play WULF, and it could never get it. Alexa on the other hand got it every time. You can also ask Alexa to play local stations for example play 94.3 and she does it. It was hit and miss on the Google Home. Asking it to play 94.3 gave me a Spanish station from California.
 
Google home wins on directions as expected. Any place of business I asked it Google found it. Alexa wasn’t bad, but she would miss a few times. I asked Alexa once the address for Coals Artisan Pizza, and it gave me the address for the department store. Lol
 
One place where Alexa does beat Google in surprisingly is the calendar. Hello Google you control Google calendar right? At this time Google Home cannot add events or I cannot get it to read my calendar events even though it says it’s supposed too. Alexa on the other hand adds events tells me about my day, with no problem. This test shocked me.
 
Sports they’re about even. Both really don’t know a lot. I thought Google would be better, and I guess if I had to choose I’d pick Google, but both have a lot to learn here. Siri is really good with sports knowledge. For example, I will wait go ask your IPhone or Siri device who was on the 1975 Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team. It will give you the answer. Now ask the google home who plays on the team from this year, and it can’t help you neither can Alexa. Both do good with finding out a particular score.
 
As far as setting timers and alarms both do well, but I do like Google Home a bit more. Main reason is I can set two or more timers. For example, I can set one timer and call it kitchen, and then another timer for soaking my foot. With the Echo you only get one timer option. Alarms work the same. I was surprised however to find that the Google Home didn’t have a sleep timer. One feature I use constantly with Alexa is go to sleep in 2 hours. Google really needs to add this feature.
 
As far as actions go Alexa has so many. Google has some, and they do feel maybe more professional, but honestly there is just so few it’s hard to tell. One I love though is Weather Sky. This action allows you to get forecasts in great detail. Also you can ask it what was the forecast for Louisville KY on March 11, 1993, and you’ll hear the details for that day. I’ve looked for a skill like this for a long time. It’s amazing! To be fair to the Home Google has only been taking action submissions since December. Alexa has had 2 years. Amazon though seems to be working with a lot of top companies, and I haven’t heard much from Google. I love the MLB audio skill Alexa has I will be using that so much this year.
 
One thing I do like I wish Amazon would do with alexa is I do enjoy the casting ability. For example, I listen to a lot of podcasts, so if I’m in the middle of one when I get home I can cast it to the Google home, and continue where I was on my phone. On Alexa there really is no way to do this other than Bluetooth. I don’t mind Bluetooth, but Casting is just easier.
 
Amazon also has the advantage of getting Alexa in to so many devices. My baby got me a Fabriq speaker that has Alexa in it. They also have the Tap and Dot. Alexa this year will be coming to cars, lamps, clocks, and a lot more. Google is trying to figure out how to put their own assistant on all android devices still. Lol Let that sink in. Probabilities are that even if they do release it if you have an Android phone your carrier won’t let you get it. Okay I will stop bashing Google now, but seriously? It will take them a while to get this done I’m still not sure what it will look like. For example, we have a Pixel at work I’ve played with, and the assistant is on there, but you can’t play trivia on it like you can on the Home. I’m not really understanding what the differences are between Home and the Pixel’s assistant, because they say it’s supposed to be the same, but it isn’t. Long story short Amazon is getting Alexa everywhere true Google has the advantage of having so much market share on devices, but if you really don’t control how many devices will get the upgrades it will stunt growth for a while.
 
Amazon also really does a good job with their services. I signed up for Amazon unlimited music even though I’m an Apple guy normally. How can you beat $70 a year? Google really doesn’t offer me much on the Home besides Pandora which Alexa has also. The YouTube casting is a joke, because you have to sign up for YouTube red to do it. Also can Google make their subscriptions any more confusing? I mean I did a trial until July, but I think with a subscription I can get Google Play music as well? I don’t know then on YouTube red you still can’t cast just any old YouTube video. It’s annoying, and way more frustrating than its worth. Amazon has a much easier and less complex system. I really wish Google would improve on this either open up YouTube Red to everything on YouTube, or something I’m not really seeing the point to using it with the Home.
 
If I had to pick one at this point, I would choose Alexa. I think Amazon does a great job getting you in their ecosystem it’s also not so confusing. I also think Alexa just understands radio call letters better, and deals with media better. I do really enjoy Googles production, and it’s way more cheerful. Over time I don’t know which one will win, or if there even will be a winner, but for now it’s Alexa. If you can get a Google Home I would say get one also, because asking it to play different animal sounds is fun. I heard a Buffalo man I would not want to run in to a herd of those on the Prairie. Alexa is easier to say consistently. 

 

Cain travel takes time

Using my cane again has been a learning opportunity to say the least. I learned Muncie with a cane first then got Robin, but here in Louisville I never used my cane I learned it with Robin. I went to a building the other day for an appointment, and I found myself frustrated because it took me longer to find my way inside. It has a ramp, and Robin would just go right to the door where I got to the building and had to figure out if I went right or left. It’s hard to describe in words, but when your working with a dog they find you the door making your job way easier. The cane I have to do a lot more analyzing and paying attention.
The holidays were good, but there was this Absence without Robin. My mom came down and spent a few days here before going home for the new year and Christmas with my family. I walked out of work and I had no Robin to get excited to see her truck. I didn’t always like her over excited cries, but now that I don’t have them I miss them so much. When we were coming home my brother and dad drove me back. My dad said he realized she was gone when I would have to grab my cane.
Of course the question I keep getting so much is will I get another dog, and I have no idea. I hate using my cane again, but it’s so emotional if I do it again it will because Robin proved so much to me. It’s weird when I was going to get her I had so many thoughts of would this work could I really trust a dog over my cane? Now I feel opposite, but do I want to make the emotional investment for another 8 or 9 years? These dogs because there always with you it’s like what I feel like losing a kid would feel like. We were partners, and I feel a little of me is gone. I also feel if I answer no people usually have this response of taking care of a cane is easier. If I say yes I haven’t really heard that response. My question for you is why does everyone always have to have an opinion? What happened to listening? If I choose not to it’s not because I didn’t enjoy taking her out in the cold, or because I have to make sacrifices I don’t have to make with using a cane, but maybe because emotionally I just don’t want to have to lose something like that again.
I bought a picture frame and put her death certificate in. My sister also made me a picture frame of Robin looking out the window. It says best dog ever on it. I have that picture next to her box and the certificate behind it. I love it I think it would look nice. I do miss still not being able to see a picture of her. I touch her box a lot, but I always wonder being able to see photo’s if that enhances your memories. For me I have to have a trigger, or purposely think of a moment, where if you see a photo you normally can instantly come up with that memory. All this is moot I guess, because if I could have seen or could see photo’s I would never have had Robin. For me touching the frame it helps, but I recorded her barking once and usually listen to that. I keep telling myself she is in a better place, but it doesn’t really make it any easier.
Everything is a trigger lately to a time we shared. Tonight during the Kentucky game they kept referencing the UCLA game, which is the last game we watched together. Were coming up to a month on the 6th, and words really don’t describe how tough it’s been.
I can’t leave without saying happy new year! Abby came home with me, and we had a good celebration. It’s hard to believe were on year two now. We have talked about doing some cool stuff this year. We already have a few concerts lined up, and were figuring out the summer. We will take a trip somewhere just not sure where. The original plan was to go to Wrigley Field, and that’s where I would have retired Robin. Obviously that didn’t work out as to plan, so even though I would love to take Abby, because she’s never been that may be a little bit longer. I want to take her to a major league park since she has never gone. Whatever we do I will keep you updated. I also would like to say rest in peace to my grandpa I think about him often and find myself listening to a lot of songs that meant something to me when I was a child because of him.

A few stories to add!

I’m nervous Tomorrow I go back to work, but today I found doing things difficult. I woke up at 6 or so on the couch. I feel a connection there since I held Robin the day before. I also find it easier to have her collar near me. I’m sure these things will pass, but for now it helps me. I just now took out the trash something I’ve been meaning to do all day, but that was something Robin would walk out stand at the gate and watch me roll the can to the end of the drive. When I would come back to the gate she’d always give my hand a lick. If I was in a hurry I’d leave the front door open so she could see out, and it would be the same result. Something so simple made me cry.
I made spaghetti and listened to Kentucky Sports radio like I stated and that helped. Once that went off I felt tired and I needed to sleep. I slept from 1-4 and then woke up and spoke to a long time friend. Abby got me a pizza, so I ate on that for dinner. the house is so empty now it’s haunting.
I thought of 2 stories that should have been in the tribute. I know there are so many which is why she is so special. For my first job at Future Choices in Muncie I had to go to a kids camp in Columbus Ohio. I decided not knowing how mature the kids were I’d leave Robin with a friend Dina. I think the camp was 4 days, and man I missed my girl. Anyway I came home and Dina brought her buy and she had the window halfway down and Robin got stuck in the window, because when she saw me standing in the parking lot she wasn’t going to wait for the door to be opened.. She was okay, but I got so many kisses. She did not let me out of her sight for a bit after that. My friend Sue was staying there assisting Dina who was recovering from surgery, and I would call and check in or text. Yes I am that guy, but I missed my girl. Sue told me I know your schedule now. I said what do you mean? Well Sue said she cry at 6 to go outside then I got nicely back to sleep and at 7:15 she cried again for food. I said you have it down.
The second story Abby loves to hear so I thought I would mention it. I decided to dog sit for my friend Carlos;s Seeing-Eye dog Derek. It happened to be the night of my friend Ethan’s Bachelor party. I decided I’d take the dogs out before we left that would give us time. Well I may have had a little to much to drink. I wrote a blog about this incident called something like Braille and strip club. Anyway they dropped me off and I got Derek out just fine. However for Robin I remember her going to the bathroom and then I decided I was tired and I would go to sleep under a tree. I went over and laid down instead of Robin panicking or being alarmed she let me hold her in my arms. Ethan happened to come back and got me up apparently we had a bit of a crowd around us so we got back inside. I just thought it was funny that Robin was like I’m with my dad everything’s fine move along.
She taught me responsibility for something, and helped me mature so I’m thankful for her. Not saying I didn’t do anything else stupid, but I did far less than I would have. I’m just waiting now on her ashes, and will post a link at that time for the company as well. Since Robin was a service animal they will cremate her for free. It is such a great feeling that people and companies give thanks for her work. I’m off to sleep and will post once I get her back. I plan to keep her in a nice spot in my house. Finally last time I checked her post had around 230 views today. Thank you for sharing it, and reading. I felt like it helped me a little to write all of that, and people were able to pay there respect. Sorry about all the errors I’m dictating, because it’s just easier. 

Robin

I would like to start off by thanking a few people an places. the first and foremost is The Seeing-Eye for matching us 8 years ago on July 21 2008. It was dog day and I was brought this beautiful German Shepherd named Robin! I remember her looking around she did give me a lick but wanted to follow Rivi her trainer more than stay with me. That is normal. I remember getting down on the floor with her and she would be close then as soon as I got comfortable she would move to the end of her leash! I could barely pet her when she was that distance. In class I had issues and had thoughts about if I had mae the right decisions maybe a cane was better for me. I remember her stopping on route and I said Robin forward and she wouldn’t go, so again I said Robin forward. I started to move my feet and I fell in to a bush. For me gaining my confidence and my trust were big issues I struggled with at first. Here I am not having any feedback with the environment around me I’m just walking very fast with the dog. The walking fast was a really awesome sensation because for the first time I could out walk someone sighted and actually hit my pace.
I think it took us 6 months to fully bond. We definitely had growing pains, but looking back at it I would not wanted it any other way!
I’ve written different things, and I honestly could write a book on how much I love her. I’m thankful that even until the end she wanted to work. Work for me now is a lot different from when I got her. Working at Humana with Jaws and people talking al day I am tired when I get home. Work moved and taking the city bus and walking home stopped, because it isn’t a walking friendly area where we moved. I think one reason she was able to work longer was we’d get up get on the door to door bus and walk in. It wasn’t physically exhausting for her. I also didn’t travel much the last year, because I felt it was harder for her, and it was nothing for me to make that sacrifice.
After I graduated college it took me about a year to find a job. I actually found something about a week after graduation and got the job, but on the way to Apple they called me and said it wasn’t accessible for the current state of screenreader. I was devastated after this news! I bought in to the lines of you can do anything you want no one ever stated unless it isn’t accessible. It really brought on for me depression, but with Robin she wouldn’t let me just lay in bed she had to go out. She wouldn’t be ignored for long she would lick me in the face. I thank her for giving me a reason to get out and walk her and just for that time we had together. At that time I was also playing with the first GPS unit you could walk around with, so if I was done filling out applications we would just walk down streets and see where they’d go. In Muncie one of my favorite things to do was to walk on the Wheeling bridge. I could hear the river running below, and just found it peaceful. I took Robin back to Ball State for my friend Dina’s graduation and her memory of are routes was just amazing. At that point we’d been in Louisville for a year, and I walked to the restaurant we were going to meet at that night for memories sake. When I crossed the intersection of Petty and McKinley. she tried to pull me down towards the bus stop where’d i catch the bus to go home or to the store. Even after a year she still remembered I just thought that was so cool.
My favorite moment of her work was going on my first job interview. I still to this day and now get emotional, because for the first time I didn’t have to grab someone’s elbow when touring a job. At that interview for Apple we just followed everyone like I was just another person part of the group. I was so gratifying. Thank you Robin for that my sweet girl. She loved my mom to much to really work her around my family so they missed out on some of her abilities she really got emotional around her. She was like that from the start I tried to correct her but she knew my family.
When I moved to Louisville it was a chance to go somewhere new, and have an airport and bus station. In Muncie you only have so many work opportunities. I met Matt and Amanda so I knew 2 people, but otherwise I knew no one else. I still today thank Ethan and Robin for being there and making this place feel more comic home. Robin and I spent 2 Thanksgivings and 1 Christmas by ourselves. Either my parents came down early or I couldn’t go home do to work. We’d watch the football games, and she’d just be with me.
I have way to many things to say about my favorite things about Robin. I liked her ears, the soft fur on her face, the way she would give you kisses if you asked or when she thought you needed them, her intelligence, her ability to adapt to my changes in work schedule and travel, her partnership during a game or whenever, and the way she’d bark when a bus driver would say my name. They would come in and say my name and you’d hear Robin goo woof and wag her tail. She wasn’t much of a tail wagger, but I always felt it hitting the back of my legs when I’d say Robin forward. I could at times get her tail to wag when I’d sing to her. When I’d be sick she would just know and lay on my legs to keep me warm she never really did this unless I was sick. She’d also usually not leave me during this time. Normally she’d sleep beside me until I was sleeping then go on patrol of the house. If I shut my door then she’d just move from one side of the bed to the other.
For a few months I got her nails painted, and she really did think she was something else. I’ll never forget I was walking to dinner on forth street live, and behind me I hear this lady go I wonder if he notices one of her nails are chipped. I just smiled haha
We went to a lot of sporting events together. Her favorite times were when she could snag a bun or something someone dropped on the ground. She also liked to watch people. I would have to hear her thoughts. Two of my favorite trips with her involved going to Arizona with her. Once we went with my dad and she did beautiful work. I’ll never forget I took my dad to 5 games in 4 days and I learned Robin’s nose could get sunburnt. We also took a trip to the Grand Canyon and the Hoover dam. The second trip I was a finalist for a TV gig with the Diamondbacks and we went to the new Cubs park then caught a bus to see a Podreys game. We got off at the wrong stop and I got real nervous but one thing about being lost with a dog vs a cane is you can pet them collect your thoughts and they can backtrack. Robin was amazing at correcting my mistakes, or in this case bus drivers that give mis information. We got to the park just fine once I caught another bus.
The last 6 months she really went downhill. She started having diarrhea issues in the house. My girlfriend Abby helped me with that and we just kept being supportive of her. Those incidents took so much out of her, and I know she didn’t mean for it to happen.
Today I’ve been thinking about everything I can I miss her so much. I wish I could just reach down from my chair and she be here. I have a few times and felt the floor it sucks I hate this. Anyway she had some annoying things she’d do that would just get under my skin from time to time. I’d be doing something like listening to a ball game and she’d go to my room. She would get on my bed and lick my pillow. I don’t know why she’d feel the need to do this, but I would come in and she’d jump down and I’d lay my head down and it would be all wet. What I wouldn’t give now to walk in my room and have her jump down and have a wet pillow.
I also would like to thank Plantation Animal Clinic for being supportive talking to me whenever I needed, and also making today so peaceful. Dr. Kleinhelter or Dr. K for short was amazing. She told me what was happening and was so respectful thank you so much to her for the last 6 months I just wish I’d found you earlier. Not that it would have fixed anything Robin went through, but she got really great care there. I don’t know if you can just donate to them, but they didn’t charge me anything for today, so if you can please donate to them and the Seeing-eye. that would be great. I stayed with Robin so did Abby I asked her to and Abby was like her mom. The last year we’ve spent a lot of time together. I just wish Robin could have been there to see us get married, but she and Abby’s first dog Alice will have the best seats in the house.
When I came home I regretted the thing I just had done, because my best friend, partner, and daughter was gone. I slept a lot today and when I woke up around 9 I know in my heart I did the best thing for her but I’m still not there in my head. I love you Robin.
We set the time to put her down on Monday, so you just watch time and feel it passing way to fast. We spent time in my bed listening to Kentucky Sports Radio together something we’ve done since Ethan died. Listening to the show just takes my mind off things so Mat and Ryan I need you guys a lot the next few weeks. She got me up and her tummy was making awful sounds and she started to puke. I knew I was making the best choice for her. Abby came over and brought dinner. She couldn’tt keep anything down so I asked Abby if she could get Robin a meal too. Abby got Robin a kids meal of Chicken and rice from QDoba. I took video and if I ever feel like sharing it’s the greatest sound. She licked the entire bowl clean. I then gave her chips she loved that. Instead of 20 minutes needing to go outside she didn’t have to until about 2 am.
I slept with her on the floor last night keeping my hand on her most of it. Again feeling time pass knowing was hard as hell. I posted a status on Facebook and afterwords I just put my face next to her and cried so hard. She licked my tears again and then moved and put her head under my face so I could cry on her neck. Another thing April Goesman put a survey up a few weeks ago where she said she loved the smell of her boys hair. I didn’t really get that until this moment. I smelled Robin’s neck and kept my nose there it was nice. Dealing with everything she had gone through and she did have a new oder I really enjoyed the smell of her. That might sound weird but I miss it now.
It’s so strange at my house. She’s not there to follow me and just knowing I’m here alone is so hard. Abby offered to stay, but I wanted a little time before going back to work. Humana let me take Wednesday off too. I will take that day to myself to reflect on memories, cry, and hopefully feel a little better. Robin was amazing she made me better, she gave me so much in so little time. It’s weird to think about time when I got her the iPhone still wasn’t usable to the blind now it’s my most used gadget. I know she will always be part of me, but that doesn’t stop the pain for now.
I wanted to also mention another person who helped out today. When I first moved to Louisville I rode with a driver named Larry. He reminded me honestly of another bus driver from Muncie named Larry, so I instantly liked him. I went a lot of time without seeing him, but he picked us up today. He kept my mind off of what was happening. It also just worked out Abby was on are ride as well so we picked her up. Abby had popcorn which I asked her to bring because I didn’t have any. Robin loved popcorn. I fed her the ziplock bag full on the way. When we got there Larry gave me a hug and petted Robin and started to cry. It just touched me in a way I can’t explain even now I’m tearing up. So many times in life we bicker over shit that is bigger than us, and we forget were humans. Thank you Larry hopefully I will ride with you soon again to tell you in person how much that meant.
Abby took care of things while I slept so a big thank you to her I wouldn’t be writing this now if she didn’t let me vent to her.. Thank you for also loving Robin. Also thank you Brian Q for being an ear tonight.
This was the hardest thing I’ve done. I’m happy for the 8 wonderful years I got with Robin. You will always be in my heart, and again you gave me so much in a short time. I lost my sight to cancer and now Robin, so fuck it. Robin thanks for always putting up with me, being so loyal, and putting up with my annoying habits like not listening to your warnings.
One day at Ball State I was late for class and I came out of my apartment to catch the bus. I old her Robin forward and again she wouldn’t go. I did this twice more and she even turned to the left I should have listened girl. I decided to drop the harness and pull her behind me. I took the first step and water got in my shoes and was real deep. I have a feeling if I could have seen her face she would have been laughing at me. I told you so daddy. Just like her licking the pillow I’m not perfect either ya’ll.
I love you so much Robin. 6/18/2006-12/06/2016 heaven gained a new angel thank you girl for your work for never just wanting a break, and for loving me.

Sorry for the long wait but I was parking my car

I haven’t written in a long time. Let me get you up to speed where things are. Also Happy Thanksgiving y’all.
 
Abby and I have been together more than a year now. Every day we get closer, with us and the two dogs we have are little family. One of my favorite trips we did so far is we went to Lexington to watch a Cats basketball game together. It was last year and they were playing LSU. I’ve gone before but usually with someone sighted who would drive me. We caught the bus here in Louisville and got to Lexington. Once there we caught a Uber to the game. We left the dogs with Jerry and Lee because we didn’t have accessible seating and I didn’t want them to get stepped on.
 
The funniest thing happened in Lexington. After the game we waited for the usher to help us out to the front. In Louisville usually you get one person, but there they are mainly volunteers so you get handed from one person to another until you get to your destination. Once we were in the elevator heading out the guy asked us where we parked? We advised him we took Uber and would catch it in the front. We went to a restaurant that was a former church made in to a pasta place. The bar was actually where the preacher would have stood. Anyway when we were leaving a guy grabbed my hand and helped me down the stairs being over protecting making sure I wouldn’t fall. He then goes where did you guys park? In my head I’m thinking seriously you registered I was blind, but now you’re going to help me to my car to drive Abby home? No wonder are streets are so scary. We left dinner with a few hours to wait for the return bus to Louisville and we learned they lock the station so we went over to a Burger King. I called a Lyft to go to the bus station when time and the driver showed up but we couldn’t find him so I called him. I advised I and my girlfriend are blind and we couldn’t see him. He said what? I repeated I’m blind and can’t see him. You’re BLIND? He yelled it or had a weird sounding voice. I said yes sir he was really cool actually once we were in the car. It turns out the Burger king was about 500 feet from the bus station so I tipped him nicely for his troubles. Lexington was fun just watch out they think blind people can drive which when you think about it is I guess cool we can do anything else I guess.
 
Robin has had a rough year. I took her to the vet last weekend and she either has Irritable bowel disease or cancer of the intestine. If she has the cancer she has a year roughly to live. If it is the IBD then not so serious, but it is still so hard to watch her age. She has lost 16 pounds since last November which scares me. Now that it is getting colder I will wake up in the night and she will jump up on my bed and cuddle against my legs. I cherish every moment like this. One morning I had a hard time getting up and she raised her head up and gave me a lick on the cheek that got me moving it was like she was saying hey daddy stop being lazy. I have her on a new food that she is eating every ounce of so I’m hoping it will put some weight back on her. When I touch her back and go towards her tail it just makes me so sad to see how much she has thinned out. We still play but only certain times. She likes to get on my couch when I’m in the chair and she is 10 so I’m okay with that. We’ve been through so many battles together. Trying to get gigs on radio and TV going from city to city in the last year or so we’ve really settled down. I know she can’t travel and do the things we once did and I’m excepting that for her. We don’t do a lot of street crossing right now because my work isn’t in a walking friendly area so it works out that she still comes with me If that changes I will retire her. She has stayed home more than normal and she has begun chewing the hair off her legs the vet told me it’s a behavioral thing acting out because of changes so truthfully I know she would be right beside me if she could be. I’ll never forget we were crossing an alley when I lived downtown and she stopped and backed up suddenly, and that’s when I heard a car backing out. A second later and I would have been hit. When you are a team it is so rough and so hard to see them getting older. To some she is a dog, but for me it’s more than that we have this bond that I’ve never shared with anything else. Robin you’re the best and thanks for your years of work, and also thank you to the Seeing-Eye for matching us.
 
Next year on the docket is Abby would like to go to Chicago to see the World Series champs!!! Yes I can say that the Chicago Cubs!!!! I cannot believe they did it. It was a really emotional night my grandpa Hoyer got me in to the Cubs, and listening all those years baseball is unlike any other sport. I’m hoping to take Abby to Wrigley. This year we went to a lot of Bats games they were fun except one which the radio was on a delay so people are cheering and were 2 pitches behind. Thankfully they fixed it for the final game. I miss baseball already. Were also going to Tim McGraw and Faith Hill here in Louisville. Finally so far we have tickets to see Aaron Lewis in Feb which I am so excited for. I will try to write more things are just really busy.

Technology has come such a long way!

Recently I got a thermometer that is called a smart thermometer that basically connect Bluetooth to your phone and allows me to read my temperature as it’s processed. It’s so amazing how far we’ve come and technology. I’ve never actually had a talking thermometer but recently I’ve struggled with some health issues and I’m trying to pinpoint if my body temperature is fluctuating so I wanted to get something that would allow me to do so. Basically with my iPhone when I take my temperature and then automatically puts it in the Health app where I can manage and look over my data for the last few days. It’s so funny on the reviews for the product it’s one complaint is it doesn’t have a screen on the thermometer so cited people can see their temperature it’s a little payback all these years for not having a talking one for me. We got in a little discussion about how far technology has come for blind people in general and it really is amazing! Even from when I was a kid I would never have thought that I could go to the same store and get the phone that everyone else wants and be able to use it right out of the box. Does voiceover and Apple have some faults sure but nothings perfect! We are blessed to be in this position that were in today I know this is an upbeat post from usual but it is at times a good thing to look back on the flexion and do things in a positive light.
I will make a post later about my birthday I’m dictating so I’m sure there are several mistakes sorry. I just wanted to show that I was updating still and I will try to be more frequent. I will make a post about my birthday that should be appear tomorrow. I hope you guys are all well talk to you soon. One more thing actually we celebrated the two-year mark on this website where we just had amazing numbers even when I don’t update regularly. So I’m glad to find that you found it entertaining and I’ve come back to check in overtime thank you for that!

Apple Watch

I got an Apple Watch a week ago, mainly because Best Buy had it at $100 off. I know a new one is coming, but 400 on a watch is hard to swallow, but somehow logically 300 sounded okay. Haha So far I love it honestly. I have things I would love to see them improve, but overall I’m satisfied, and I’m hoping it helps me with my health.
 
The Fitbit can be accessible, and I know some that use it, but I wanted something that would be a bit more powerful and 100% accessible. Lately I’ve wanted to gain control over my health, and have a better grasp on it. Being able to see my heart rate, and having something that reminds me to stand once an hour is nice. Honestly at work I forget to do so. The little taps on my wrist have become a nice part of my day.
 
· THINGS IT COULD DO BETTER!
The Apple watch first generation does have some flaws. I am starting here, so by the end it will be positive. I wish the processer was faster, or more specifically I wish opening apps could be faster. I think this is the biggest flaw I’ve read its better with watch OS 2, but I still think it could be better. Some of the third party applications I think sell themselves short. For example Amazon’s app the only thing you can do is search for a product or add to a wish list. It would be cool to be able to track an item or have access to your recent orders. From a blind perspective I would like the second generation watch to have a better speaker. The one it currently has is okay, but in the slightest noisy environment it becomes hard to hear.
 
The good!!
 
Alright now the reasons I decided to keep mine simply come down to these things. It’s so handy for notifications. I can text people easier, and stay in touch more with people than I do just using my phone for some reason. I also like having a time peace again. They now have an app called Timebuzz that allows you to turn voiceover off and unlock the screen and it will vibrate the time in different patterns which is great for meetings, or when you don’t want someone to know your checking the time. It’s comfortable. Honestly the most comfortable watch I’ve ever owned. I have the sports band which is nice, and I also bought the Milanese Loupe which is the best band ever. That soft mesh is unbelievably comfortable. While cooking it’s nice to say set timer for 5 minutes. Yes I do know you can use your phone but the watch is easier to do that on, and not worry about getting your phone dirty. Finally the health aspect. I know having reminders and goals I can set for the day that it keeps my progress to live a better healthy lifestyle. Reminders to stand are nice as well as a nice little hey your goals are being met good job is rewarding.
 
My final thoughts don’t listen to negative internet people who never have used the watch to make an opinion. I think the watch has flaws and some areas it could be better, but overall for the first product it’s amazing. I love it, and the fact I got it at 100 off just made me jump for joy. One thing I thought Apple did that was cool or at least a nice touch is the watch has different watch faces you can choose from. One announces the seconds who is cool, but there is a Mickey Mouse one where his feet are the hands. When you move your finger over the time Voiceover starts talking in a higher pitch. I thought it was touching since I obviously can’t see Mickey but to still gain something from it. Apple is always doing little things like that for me I thought it was a cool gesture on the part of Apple.
 

Going to the doctors

It’s been awhile sorry life’s been crazy. I also have got through a point where I didn’t feel like sharing. Things have been good. My girlfriend Abby has met my family and fits in well. I’ve been sick, and it’s nice to have someone that can take the dog out or just be there. I felt bad because I wanted to start the new year out right instead I started it out sick. I have a double ear infection and let me tell you what being blind plus my ears out of whack it’s not fun. I can’t really even stand to have the tv on. I mainly listen to my IPad or iPhone on a low setting. Even typing this is a struggle, but I wanted to put something out there that I went through today.
I went to the doctors today, and I found a place that is real good about helping me fill out paper work, and at least communicating to me like I am human. However the nurse today just all the sudden made me say aww and then put a tip in my throat to do a swab without telling me. I hate that please let me know what’s coming I don’t like to be taken by surprise. That’s why I hate going to doctors they get so fascinated with my artificial eyes or the fact I’m there to even freakin diagnose me it seems. Once the nurse left my doctor was really pleasant she said I want to be careful getting between you and your dog. I asked what do you mean? She said I don’t want her to think I’m hurting you. I advised she is okay.
After my appointment I took a Lyft home and waited an hour called an Uber to run by my Walgreens close by. I got a guy named City and I’ve had a guy named that before so I was excited. I didn’t even take my cane since I figured he’d know me and we could hit the drive up. Turns out there are two people named City and god I was nervous for a few minutes like I’m sick, can’t hear well, plus now I don’t have my cane with a stranger. I explained to him I was blind and could we use the drive up and him take me home. He then told me a story about a Youtube video about a guy who was blind who was asking people to make change, and when one person ripped him off he said no I’m not blind you ripped me off. He said it was a peace on how you just can’t trust people today. I’m not sure if he thought I was faking or what but he was cool. I’m just wondering what other blind peoples experiences are with doctors? I will be going to a consistent doctor starting this year so maybe things will change since it won’t be random people.