Category Archives: life

Fireworks have different colors and images but year after year they have the same sound.

In a few days it will be July 4th! It’s weird I used to post articles of political nature to Facebook trash talk others and try to convince someone my opinion is right and they were wrong. Lol it’s so exhausting. Not to mention pointless. The older I get I do fear that people are so set in there thinking. I still try to remain balanced whatever that means anymore but people can’t sit and have a conversation anymore. I miss being able to hear ones side and than give my side and feeling okay that we think differently. I now feel if for example I am pro something someone automatically puts me in a box and I can’t think another way about something else. Obama becoming president I think started this polarization, and then Trumps took it to a new level where the media gives us nothing else anymore.

All that said blind people get worked up about things going away. Maybe changes are coming, but I’m so happy for the opportunities I have here, and I am so humbled at times. I was talking to a gentleman from India the other day, and he was telling me the Braille access issue in India. We put out a $449 Braille display, but he was saying in India for most to afford it we need to be around 100 dollars. I’ve always been fortunate to have Braille or audio at my disposal, and it’s important for everyone to have access to it. I think we get lost in chasing money or self worth, and we don’t stop and say how lucky we have it enough

Thank you. For me it’s all the mobility lessons when I was young from Ms. Tammi making me step outside my comfort zone and shop for her groceries. I just hope and wish we all could just stop and breathe a minute things we love are worth fighting for, but we need to remember were all human and all have different backgrounds.

I find myself struggling with the little things without a dog. Robin and Frasier would both put there paws on my feet during the work day. You can’t help but bump them as you work, but just knowing they were there made such a difference. If your having a bad day you’d feel them put a paw on your foot and you’d reach down and pet them and instantly everything got less heavy. I think I am having a bout of depression I sleep when I get home then I’m up at 3 in the morning. I don’t feel unhappy, but I feel my body dealing with the downs. Having a dog gives you that I have to take this thing outside and you gain responsibility.

Abby and I went to the movies, and she maneuvers people and objects while I feel clunky running in to things. I’ve been having this thought I should go to Dunkin Donuts and just have a donut and write or read some news. With my dogs I wouldn’t have thought twice, but since I haven’t been there I really am struggling with the layout and if I want to go explore or not.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but I feel I am a great cane user, but the level I have to be at with it is perfect. If I’m off or maybe I have a cold or it’s windy instantly I feel more nervous and thoughts of should I go out come in to play. I remember in college I’d have days I felt fine, but I just didn’t want to have to deal with bumping in to people or interactions so I’d just not go to class. I don’t know why looking back on it I got so overwhelmed, but when getting the dogs it helped with those feelings.

I’m torn I do like the ability to jump in a Lyft or Uber and get to a location and go in without any hassle but then once I am there if its a new place I’m not as comfortable as I was with a dog if that makes sense. It’s like I’m constantly up or down and I can’t figure out what I want to do. Abby and I have been talking about going to Indy or Nashville or NYC for a weekend and it’s difficult for me to imagine doing it with a cane. Especially NYC maybe if I’m successful or not it will be the deciding factor if I go back for a dog or not.

One thing that makes me more and more nervous is people being able to take there dogs places. I’ve been reading about more and more work places being excepting of bringing your pet dog to work. As we become more relaxed in things of this nature I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for blind folks and guides. Maybe I’m overthinking things.

As I get older I things I found that were fun for me have changed. Fireworks now for me are all the same. Year to year the sound of them never changes yet the images colors etc. do. I used to love being at the county fair or going to one of the lakes listening to them. Now sighted folks make it worse by playing shitty soundtracks with the fireworks trying to have a theme. Why? I want to hear the boom it’s the only fucking enjoyment I get from these things and now your covering it up? Stop it! I love Thunder over Louisville because it is booming, but even they do it. I know some blind folks who use Aira to describe the fireworks but still if you’ve never seen color I’m not sure how cool that is. Since Louisville does Thunder in April July 4th here pretty much is nonexistent.

One thing about the 4th I loved as a teen my brother and I would buy fireworks and set them off. I learned to light them and run and get low to the ground. Once by myself I put a bottle rocket in a 2 leader bottle lit it and ran and dove. The thing shot right at me lol. What’s life if you don’t take risk’s? Happy Forth everyone! To the Canadians happy Canada day on Sunday!

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Part 2 plus if I could talk to myself from high school

This post is a continuation to the last post in ways, but may be a bit more rational will see. I want to say RIP Mr. Rekey Frank. I should have said that in my last post. I got worked up at the end. I just think the could be me. I’ve been with people who’ve ran a light it happens, but that article was written with no regard to Mr. Frank. He was a blind man who thanks to that article I know was blind for 20 years. That’s all. I know the other guy had a job lol. Let me tell you something about penalties and having to follow the law.

For a year after college it was a struggle for me. I couldn’t find a job I got hired by Apple than fired because there system for answering tech support was not accessible. In this time I made $638.00 per month from the government on SSI. After a year I found a job. I had a meeting with someone at SSI and they told me about a blind work program. If you made a certain amount you could keep SSI because they would take off travel and work expenses. I did exactly what they told me, but when I moved to Louisville to work at Humana I received a letter from Social Security. It said I owed $1800.00 and it had to be repaid. I had no way to fight this and this would have been a year after stopping anything from SSI. Now I have student loans and I’m having to pay $75.00 to Social Sucurity every month. Basically that hour I spent learning about the blind work program cost me money lol. I paid the fine back, and it was a struggle for the first year I lived here. Again though I didn’t kill anyone I was just given money by the government. I had no forgiveness rule this story just baffles me. Also student loans aren’t forgivable debt yet killing someone where you have a fine is forgivable if you do the community service?

One thing if I could go back in time and tell myself in high school is to relax. Looking back I do wish I had attended the blind school for at least one year. I’d like to have gone my 9th or 10th grade year just to be around people like myself experiencing puberty. That was hard in public school being the only one blind. Looking back at it I’ve learned so much. When I went to Bal State I think that was the biggest growth for me. I met Carlos who was blind and he taught me the bus system something I never had access to where I grew up. I met my first blind female that I was around for more than a week at a summer camp. I think that experience would have been nice to have during high school when all those changes are happening. Sighted kids steel a dirty mag or video and figure things out lol it’s a little different being blind. I think the pressures of high school also do you want to be the person dating the odd kid with no vision? Reading this that sounds like I am being hard on myself but kids don’t want to do something others might find not normal. I also think as a person I missed some of the nonverbal communication that if I had it may have changed things also.

Abby and I were watching something where they referenced eye contact and how nice it was just looking at someone’s eyes. Abby says that eye contact must be some amazing thing? It got me thinking about a paper I had written in college 90% of communication is done with eye sight. I know in college I missed some opportunities with dating, because I think I didn’t interpret something correctly. My first girlfriend in college when we broke up she called me drunk and asked if she had a bad personality since I broke up with her? In her mind it couldn’t just be that we didn’t have the right chemistry it had to be she had a bad personality.

Whenever we go out with friends you know they look around and watch people. It’s amazing how much people can observe that I miss. Abby’s mom for example gets annoyed that I look at my phone when were out eating. I don’t really get it, because I am mainly looking at a sports score or news article. Yet during the same conversation she may bring up the score of a game because they have it on a television nearby. I’m not just picking on her it’s came up a lot over the years, but I don’t know how it’s fair for you to glance around and see things yet I can’t listen to my phone and hear some updates? I was going to say maybe because when seeing you can stil listen, but sighted folks get distracted and don’t always hear you.

It’s 4:21 AM I have a CPAP which is helping me sleep, but now I’m just left with the blind staying asleep issue. I no longer stop breathing during my sleep scaring Abby, but not I am refreshed at 3:30 ready to get my day started. That not seeing light does suck to keep your body in rhythm.

So Sighted people can kill us now and just do community service tell all your friends.

I want to say first of off Happy Birthday to my Robin. I saw a video of Abby and I opening gifts for her and it made me smile. I miss her so much. I want to thank the instructors, trainers, and staff at the Seeing-Eye for all they do. The instructors have to train a string of dogs walk miles upon miles in rain cold or shine, and I do want them to know how much I appreciate them. Maybe I’ve been a bit harsh on the school lately I’m just frustrated. They gave me 2 great dogs that made such an impact on me, and I don’t want to hurt the hard work from those people. That being said maybe out reach or communication needs to change. If I go back it would being to the Seeing-Eye because of how they do ownership of the dog, plus no dumb extra stuff like graduation etc..

Recently Abby rode home with a cab driver and he said Joe doesn’t need to get a dog because technology is so much better now. First off technology has improved, but it’s still clunky at best. I think now the only thing that is 100% is I know where I am with GPS. Meaning I have an idea with in 30 feet or so. Cane technology hasn’t gotten any better. I actually got 4 different cane tips to play with and they all seem cheep and not useful but my old faithful marshmallow rolling tip. Canes even have gotten worse since people want them thinner and lighter they just break so much easier now. Sure they have laser canes so fancy but not practical.

I tell you what I want Aira is awesome but sucks if your cell connection sucks which is more than I’d like with Verizon or at&t. What I want is a device that can keep you in a straight line. I have to look drunk as hell walking down the street, because I veer left and right. The dogs kept me straight and also could follow the sidewalk making it less work for me. I miss that so much. To that cab driver or to anyone else who is sighted who thinks they should weigh in on what a blind adult should do how about you put on a blindfold and just walk 10steps then remove it and see where you are. Honestly look at something put the blindfold on and move 10 steps. I bet you veered off track a bit. Now go to a busy street or have a damn lawnmower factoring in and see how walking 10 to 20 steps is now.

My other annoyance has been passing people. Man Robin and Frasier were so good about maneuvering me around people it was just awesome. Today I got behind another blind person and couldn’t get around them. Every time I would go right to pass they would veer right so I kept tripping them lol. It’s so frustrating though to not be able to pass someone when I want.

This next story my friend shared, and I can’t believe it. This guy kills a blind man by running a red light. This infuriates me that no one seems to care. What if it was me or Abby? We’re going off parallel traffic hoping you guys pay attention. Driving has become such a wright when it should be a privilege in this country. Recently I was crossing a light and a car blew its horn first off don’t do that. I don’t know if your honking at me or something else. I think a car was trying to turn which I still the light and they were signaling me to wait. It’s just scary out there even easy intersections have become difficult because no one enforces the laws we have. I like in this article it points out what the sighted person was doing he is going to work, but what was the blind gentleman doing? All I know reading the article he was blinded 20 years ago. Maybe he was walking to see his granddaughter, or just exercising this is a piss poor article and the writer should be ashamed. I guess even though the sighted guy ran the light the blind man was just in his way. It basically paints the sighted person as this working class citizen and the blind person who was by all accounts correct in his street crossing worthless. In the comments tell me I’m wrong and misinterpreting this article.

http://www.koin.com/news/local/multnomah-county/driver-who-killed-blind-man-admits-careless-driving/1247569655

You’re blind so don’t you know this blind guy met 10 years ago his name is Bill from Little Rock?

I wonder why some times during school or when I was a child people kept me away from certain paths? For example shop class my teacher never taught me how to measure or hammer a nail. Is it because I was blind and no one thought a blind person could do these things? It’s funny I used to go out to the barn with my grandpa Hoyier and just hammer nails in to boards and make shapes or just mess around. I enjoyed this, but in school my shop teacher let me stand around with my thumb in in my butt basically. Never even thinking of reaching out for a Braille tape measure or talking one. Maybe I’d be good at that, but since I wasn’t ever taught the skill set I can never flourish. Maybe I wouldn’t have been good enough to make it a career, but at least I could fix something if it broke.

I contemplate this on the eve of selling my house. I will miss that place. My last days with Robin were there my first days with Abby were there. Yet when going to sign today I felt awkward in a room full of strange sighted people. The lawyer a smart woman who I thought was maybe the best reader of legal documents I’ve met asked if my dog would help me sign the documents? She wasn’t kidding I explained just put my finger where you want me to sign, and I will do the rest. After about 23 signs the deal was done and my old Kentucky home was sold. I then came back to my new Kentucky home and wondered why at 32 I still feel awkward in a room of sighted people? Why do I feel dumb when I shouldn’t? Why do I feel people try and talk for me when I am right there? Oh wait they try and sometimes do.

Maybe an article I read about how even though in the world it’s the best time to be blind still only 30% of us are working. I’m no better than any other blind person I’ve just been lucky. I know the struggle of applying for a year after college and hearing nothing. Going on interviews where they talk about the dog and hardly about any of my accomplishments. When will this end? When will sighted folks see the value in what blind people could contribute? The scary part is Tomorrow I could be back in the same boat as the other 70% which makes it hard to relax.

Why as kids can’t we learn to fail at something? I think one thing that made me successful is my parents let me fail. However teachers didn’t for the most part. By all means I am not blaming anyone in particular, but let that blind person hammer maybe he or she will hit there fingers with a hammer, but they will learn. We try as a society to think of things a blind individual might be good at rather than let that blind individual maybe experiment and do something outside the box. Why is it we have the most technology possible, but 70% of us still can’t find work?

People find it amazing I can move from point a to point b. In Germany blind people for the most part still have sighted guides and aren’t given the freedom to do the things we do. Most countries are miles behind us here in America yet over half of us can’t find work. I also wonder why those blind people in other countries aren’t able to break away from the notion they need a sighted person to navigate?

I’m interested what traveling will be like in Germany. I wonder if people will look at me funny as I move around with my cane? So many people tell me they’ve never met a blind person and so many have questions. Why is the only blind person we meet or know about Hellen Keller? Braille is hardly mentioned in school no wonder people have no idea.

My friend Joe took a Lyft tonight and the driver was asking him how can you be married to someone? How would you know if they’re sexy? This was asked by a 62 year old woman who was a airline worker. I am sure she saw some blind people in her time one would think. She also asked him if he knew Bill from Little Rock who is blind that she had met 12 years ago? I guess were all supposed to know each other. Anyway I will go now just thought I would write this.

Maybe one day I can walk in a room with sighted folks and not have to talk about the dog or come up with some amazing blind fact about myself. Maybe I can just maybe be me and you can see that and be okay with it.

A quick update wedding plans in Germany

The wedding planning was going great until Abby called the park to check something and they said we had picked a smaller venue which we confirmed when ordering in December but whatever. Long story short we found a place and also a spot for the reception it will just be smaller than we intended. Making cuts was hard because I didn’t want to hurt anyones feelings. I think at the end of the day I did good with making a selection. All cousins are off the hook. I wanted y’all there, but we have a huge family. I also didn’t want to invite 1 and not another causing hurt feelings. I hope everyone understands Abby and I still love you.

It’s hard to believe were getting close to the wedding day. It goes fast. I leave for Germany in a week which I am looking forward to. I had to make a tough choice, but I think I made the right one. Germany has no ADA so it is up to each proprietor whether or not they would allow Frazier to enter there venue. I talked to some blind people who said they had good luck, but others who didn’t. I called the hotel and was told he could sleep at the hotel with me but couldn’t enter diners and such with me. Thank god for the ADA I know there is a bill trying to get rid of it, but it’s this bill that has brought so much progress for those with disabilities here in America. Shame on you congress and etc. for trying to over right the progress made here.

Frazier and I are doing well. We went on another trip about a month ago to SanDiego . I really want to go back and take Abby. They had so many audible traffic signals and walking around there was nice. Frasier was a champion. I am amazed with his ability to backtrack.Robin was good at this also, but he always remembers. He has had a barking issue and that still comes up from time to time, but he is getting better. I can’t wait to take him to a ball game which when we get back to Germany were going to one. I get back Sunday and we’re actually going Tuesday night.

I am typing this on an IPad Pro which I got recently. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but I am going to sell my MacBook Air. Typing with a keyboard on this thing feels great, plus with multitasking with apps it’s just as nice as my Mac was. Plus it’s more portable at the end of the day. I am not much of a computer user these days anyway. I decided to go with the cellular version on T-Mobile. One cool thing is I am leasing it month to month so when the next IPad comes out I can give it back for the new one if I want. Work also wanted me to get one so they are pitching in money also which is worth it.

Abby and I have been playing with a new service called Aira also. We love it. The first time Abby used it she went up and was able to get her own drink from a soda fountain. Basically how Aira works is you have glasses that connect you to an agent who can see from the camera in the glasses. They also can see where you are with GPS. I used it in Chicago to get me to the pet relief area in the Airport, and also to find my gates that changed 2 or 3 times. It’s awesome, because you don’t have to ask for assistance you can get the info from the Aira agent and then do it yourself. If I had waited to get an Airport worker in Chicago that would have waisted time depending on how much time until your next flight things may not be possible to do anyway.

I will make notes while in Germany and do an update when I get home. T-Mobile gives me free data while there so I’m glad that isn’t a concern. I love them as a company and coverage is getting better all of the time. In Louisville it is better than Verizon with speeds and in buildings which surprised me. Anyway I hope all of you are well. I am going to miss Abby, Bancroft, and of course my boy while I am gone. I have to go back to the dreaded cane. I hope to do some travel on the train while I am there. I’m also working on taking a ride on the autobahn I want to go over 100. I have 2 free days so only god knows what kind of trouble I can get in to. Lol I will just miss my family back in KY for sure.

I am engaged Uber said no to me Washington trip went well!

It’s been awhile, so let’s start with the biggest news of all. Abby and I are engaged. I kept buying a ring from her secret thanks to Daniel for finding it. Also thanks for Jenny, Michelle, and my mom and dad for looking at the picture I sent them. Once I picked it up I was more nervous than I thought with it. I put it in my pocket planning on making a speech after dinner, but I couldn’t wait. She went to get some lemonade, and I put the ring on her finger. I of course put it on the wrong hand so at first she thought I was playing and it wasn’t real. I didn’t exactly know how to explain to someone blind that the ring was real. We’re talking about different options, and I think we’re going to do something small next summer. I’m excited to plan and see how the future goes.

Frasier and I have been doing well. I love him more and more each day. We went to Washington for work, and it was amazing feeling him work through stuff. Once though he ran me in to a huge branch which I corrected him for it was morning rush hour, and this lady after I corrected him was like I’ll get the branch, and I just said no we will figure it out. He did he stopped which was nice of him the second time. Lol

I did do one thing on that trip that amazed me. At work were working on indoor navigation I can say that, because it’s actually released in the versions of Nearby you can get now on IOS. I hadn’t really gotten a chance to test it in a place other than work, so I said I would get to the airport early and try and navigate to my gate on my own. I usually don’t do this, because I ultimately just want to get to my destination easily. It started out a bit rough, because my bus driver from Louisville dropped me off at arriving not departing. When I first walked in I saw on my IPhone using Nearby Explorer all of the rental car places. I saw a glimpse of an elevator, but it disappeared off my app, and walking around didn’t bring it back. I finally stood in line at the rental car place which I was ignored for a long time maybe 10 minutes apparently maybe they thought it was a gag a blind person trying to rent a car. Anyway this lady finally says can I help your sir? I walk down to her and ask where the elevator is to get me to departing flights. She says over there. I then say over where? She again points, and I say I’m blind can you give me some direction? She walks out of the booth and says I will take you over there, but I’m allergic to dogs. Apparently most of the world is or I think rather if you’re scared of them it’s an excuse you come up with. Anyway that story will come later.

She takes me over to the elevator and I get back on my way. I get to the second floor and on my app can now see TSA check in. I set it as watch. I navigate to that walking down a long hallway. I get up to the end of the rope and get a box to put my shoes and etc. in. I go first then call Frasier he comes through just fine a bit excited. I then get my shoes and bag back on and start looking for my gate b15. I ask a lady what direction the gate is from here. She says follow the moving sidewalk when it ends take a right. I do that and then look at what I can see in my app. I can see some b gates but not 15 so I set b9 as watch and start moving again. Frasier took me around a Starbucks wall that stuck out. Then Nearby started telling me all of the restaurants I went past. That was really cool! I then got to B9 and searched for my gate again and found b15! I set that on watch and navigated to it. I told Frasier to find a chair and he put his head on one and we sat down. I gave him a huge hug which he was panting pretty good, because we had walked a lot, and I am sure it was stressful for him being somewhere new trying to figure out what the hell were targeting.

I was meeting a guy named Robert who I work with, so I decided to wait for him to see how close I was. I needed b15, but sat at b16 which is about 10 feet off. It was amazing to gain that independence and be able to use the tools and my dog and do it myself. I can’t tell you how I hope indoor keeps expanding we will need a community effort, but this is really cool! This was an experience though that is good for growth for Frasier and I. Washington in general was amazing for that also crossing streets and being somewhere new to both of us.

I met 2 different people that I have met at the Seeing-Eye in Washington which was really cool. I met Lori who I met when getting Robin, and Matt who I met this time getting Frasier. Are dogs being great, and it’s cool seeing and hearing their stories also.

When I got home I took an Uber once to work. I went outside and stood waiting for the driver to get to me. She pulled up, but was at my neighbors drive. Frasier led me out to the car, and I started to get in when the lady said sir is the dog going with you? This question gets asked so much in these situations, and I don’t understand why? Maybe because you’re an idiot who clearly doesn’t read any of the Uber, Yellow Cab, or Lyft ADA laws? I proceed to say yes he is going with me she says I’m sorry, but I am allergic to dogs. I said ma’am you do know the ADA laws that allow me to bring a service animal along with me so you denying me is breaking the law. She says it’s the hair I’m allergic. I said then you shouldn’t have signed up to work with the public then. I’m blind you don’t see me being an optometrist do you? She then says you will have to cancel the trip. I said no if your denying me you need to cancel the trip. She gets in her car and sits there for about 2 minutes maybe a bit less. She then gets out and says sir I can’t cancel it I said you’re the one not taking me call Uber or figure it out. She gets in and cancels it which I’m pretty Shure she knew how to do this the entire time. I then called for another Uber and got one.

I have to say Uber has a really nice app for reporting service animal issues. I have been denied on all the services and by far there’s is the easiest to report something. They also called me Monday and said they fired the driver, and gave me a credit. The thing I find irritating to me is I did nothing wrong, but because someone didn’t want to follow the law I’m late for my appointment. I’ve seen blind people say themselves I’ve never been denied a ride, so maybe you’re doing something wrong? It’s insulting, because nothing happened that should have warranted this. I also hope for you blind folks that haven’t had this happen that it never does. For those who say don’t take Uber or Lyft Yellow Cab does the same thing and they’re way more unreliable. I have no answers, and nor do I think anyone else does on this matter, but sighted people reading this please don’t refuse a blind person a ride if you drive for one of these companies. I understand wanting to make some extra money, but if you truly have a dog allergy than be a cashier or something where not taking passengers in your car.

Frasier is so playful he is really enjoying the fact it’s getting colder. He gets so excited to go out for park time sometimes he tries to jump on me and engage me in extra play. I got him a toy for his birthday which will just add to my house full of them. I’m spoiling him probably more than I did Robin at this age, but truthfully you never know when you won’t be able to do that anymore.

I think I covered it all. I wrote this on my lunches at work mainly, and some at Abby’s.

Chapter begins

Frasier and I’ve been back for about 2 weeks now. Were doing well. I’ve taken him for several walks, and he has gone through several work days with me. I love him. I forgot about how bad the public is with dogs talking to them. They will literally say out loud I know I’m not supposed to pet, and then either go ahead and pet the dog or ask. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to just walk away. There is a guy at work who annoys me, because he will walk by and make eye contact with Frasier, and then say good morning Frasier. I’ve said just ignore him yet he does this anyway. Today Frasier stood up and he was like no lay down. I just spoke up and said see that’s why you should just ignore him so he doesn’t get excited. He now is ignoring me to, but honestly I have way more important shit to deal with. I don’t know if people just don’t take me seriously or what?

He loves to play my living room looks like a pet store. I’ve had to toss several toys, because they didn’t stand up to his chewing on them, and I didn’t want him choking. He gets along with Abby’s dog just fine. Bancroft is 7 all most 8, and is quieting down with playing so I think Frasier is good for him also. Watching them play tug is awesome.

My next airport trip wwich will be soon I’m going to Washington I am going to not ask for assistance to the gate. We now have the Louisville airport mapped for Nearby Explorer. This means with my Iphone I can hear the gates or terminals as I pass them. We’ve been working on indoor navigation at the Printing house, so I will test it out for real. I’m excited if successful that will be the first time I’ve done that on my own. I know some blind people do it already, but without some sort of feedback from either gps or something I wouldn’t want to try. I just want things to go easy, but now that this is ready I figure why not. I think Frasier and I are up for the challenge.

In a lot of ways his work is similar to Robin’s, but in other ways they’re different. It is so hard going from an older dog to a newer dog. Not hard, but a lot of work, discipline, and praise. Getting back in to the mindset that I have to treat him like a baby, because he is. For example, my back yard I could trust Robin out there she wouldn’t jump I knew where she was him I think he’d be in China if I left him out there for a minute. He pays attention to the neighborhood like she did, and I’ll be honest just with him around I’m sleeping way better when Abby isn’t there. Before I got him the only time I slept well was when Abby and Bancroft came over, because someone else was there and I was comfortable. He also doesn’t come when I say to come he’s testing me and such, but were working on it. Those things tend to frustrate me most, because it’s hard to rationalize hey this is someone new. He loves to play as I stated before, and I think bonding with him in this way helps us.

We went and got lunch during work, and feeling him navigate around things in my hometown was again so refreshing. I hated the cane. I also noticed my confidence was back up. I am a bit nervous crossing streets that’ll probably take me a bit to feel good again with him, but so far he is doing so good.

I wrote this over several days, but yesterday I took him out on a longer leash to explore the back yard. He is in love. This morning after he ate he made noises at the back door like please let me out.

It’s blindness month, and I see a bunch of blind people writing crazy long posts on Facebook about remarks how they’re normal and bla bla bla. Look I get annoyed to at the public and sighted people, but you have to remember were not even 1% of the population. Other than observing you on Facebook most have never encountered a blind person. What annoys me most is when sighted people work for a blind company, and try and act as if they’re know all of all things blind. At the end of the work day sir or ma’am you go home and use a TV without speech, or write and read things on paper or a computer without a screen reader that doesn’t face any inaccessible issues. Yet you’re going to speak for me or us pretending you know what a day in our lives is really like. We were talking recently about flattop stoves. I used to be nervous about them until I met Abby now I wouldn’t live without one. Anyway the sighted people were like we have to do something tactile so blind people can feel where they’re at on the stove. I spoke up and said no I have one now, and I just wave above the heat then I place my pot. After I set it down I then feel around the pot to make sure no extra heat is coming from one side or the other. All of the sighted people were so amazed they were like oh were taught to stay away from that. These are people who stove makers are talking to for designing something to make my life better yet they don’t even know how were using the products we use now? Here’s a brilliant idea instead of talking with the sighted guy why don’t you talk to me? They don’t because of dumb sighted person who’s worked for a blind company 5 years feels he is an expert. That’s the type of thing that drives me nuts, because your addressing an issue that isn’t an issue for us. You know what is? The touch screen with 50 options I can’t read not the burner that heats up that I can feel.

Sighted people have blindfolded themselves and used a screen reader for a month or two, and yet this still gives you know real experience because you know at some point that blindfold is coming off. Unless your permanently in a situation you can’t be an expert. It’s like people who read braille with their eyes congratulations, but that’s not being an expert. Yet these eye braille readers chime in on quality, or even changes to the code itself.

I think I’ve written enough for now, but I wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the time out to write me while I was out training with Frasier. Also thank you again to Jenny, and Dawn from Wave as well as anyone else who donated or took the time out to make things easier. As I finish this he is laying on my foot chewing on his bone. I really missed having a dog laying on my foot. I’m proud of myself for being able to look at him as a different dog, and allow him to be himself without expectations he will replace Robin. Dogs to me are like humans you can’t really replace them. After Ethan died Whitney wrote some things on Facebook and it’s a different chapter now. You cherish the old chapters and never forget, but it’s great to have my vision back, and move so freely again. I met this lady who has had 9 dogs in her life time, and I thought that was so neat. She was 80 years old and was in great shape I hope to hell I could do the things she did when I’m 80. She’d walk 2 miles like the rest of us.

The ending with a dog is so difficult, but give yourself sometime between them. That moment when Brian brought Frasier to me I was so nervous to see what he’d feel like or act like. I hugged him and petted him for about 30 minutes, and then I put the harness on him, and we went out for a quick first walk. That moment when your hitting your normal pace, and your maneuvering obstacles not even realizing they were there is just amazing. Brian would be behind us saying he just moved you around some chairs or a flower pot, and you didn’t have to bump it with your knee or your cane. Having a dog requires more work than a cane, but I’m glad I did it again. Not only was I sad after Robin died, but also I hated going out, because I had been to my Kroger a thousand times with her. I could always get to the service desk, but my ability to feel her move around carts or even at my normal pace vs a cane pace things were just off. I’d turn to soon thinking I had reached the place I needed, because in my head with my cane I still moved as fast as Robin and I. In my head I felt her moving me around things or the turns she’d make, but in reality I’d be so far off target. Now it’s just getting him used to the baseball park or Kroger. The first 6 months a lot goes in to learning how we communicate.

I haven’t posted this, so more and more happens. Today I went up for lunch a few blocks away, and coming back I was crossing a street and he pushed me to the right. Last week he did this on the sidewalk to try and say hi to a dog. Without thinking I dropped the harness something was taught not to do. I had a panic moment I’ll freely admit. As I reached out my hand to give a correction I felt a car blocking the sidewalk. I couldn’t hear it, because it was a blind killer or Hybrid. I picked up the harness quickly and told him to hup hup which means find a way around it. He continued right and got me to the curb. We really hadn’t had any issues before, and I gave him a bug hug once we got up on the sidewalk. I don’t know why I didn’t just follow him when he was doing it. I guess that’s that trusting thing. I went out about an hour later to try again, and another car pulled out of a parking space and did the same thing except this time it was on the other side. I followed him this time. I try to tell myself I’m a hundred percent comfortable, but this is a reminder we as a team have growing pains to work through. He pushes me pretty forcefully which is different from Robin. I like it just different. I will stop blabbing now.

Shock

I got a big shock. My friend Jenny called me and asked if I wanted to do lunch. I said sure. I told her to meet me at the front office, and I would get her checked in. As I came up the steps she said hi Joe. I was kind of confused. since I didn’t sign her in. I think I even said how did you get past security? She said I know people. She then said she had a surprise visitor with her. I heard someone say hi, and Jenny told me it was Dawn Gee a local journalist/news Anchor. I love Dawn and all she does to help Louisville! She also had a little stroke earlier this year but it didn't slow her down I admire her resistance! Then she started putting 100 dollar bills in my hand. I was a bit overwhelmed lol. I know that might be hard to believe.

Dawn asked me to talk a bit about Robin. That was hard for me to sum up 8 years in a short time I could have talked forever. I shared some stories, and a bit about how much she meant to me as a companion and my eyes.

I did think about something later I wish I had said. After Robins passing I do the bare minimum to get through the day. I don’t like to take risks. I’ve always been a good cane traveler, but I hate crossing streets with my cane, because of veering fears. Crossing streets with Robin was so easy, and after the first 6 months I never worried about it. I think that’s why when Abby and I walked and crossed West Port I really realized if I want to do this I need a dog. I’m getting so excited, because were getting closer and closer.

Anyway Wave 3 donated money that will really help me pay bills while I am gone. I’m so grateful I was worried and doing calculations on how long I will be without a pay check, and I was really nervous. This helps so much, and makes that worry dissipate. I thank Jenny for contacting them and making it happen. By my calculations it’ll be something like 5 weeks without a full paycheck. I am working with APH now to see about doing some work on the weekends or when I can, but I also don’t want to get to worried about that. I want it to be about the dog first then everything else after that.
I went to my friend Joe’s house, and we talked about how Robin and I came to Louisville alone. I’ll never forget when we moved out of my downtown apartment to one off of New Lagrange road we were packing up, and we had moved my bed and Robins crate to the truck. Robin went in to the bedroom and my dad and I walked in, and he said she looked sad. I gave her a hug and told her we were going to a different apartment. I remember her just standing looking around. I know she loved moving to the house because of the yard.

Joe hasn’t had a dog in 20 years or so, but he still remembers his dogs so vividly. I know that’s how it will be for me. You never forget them. Trading stories about things your dog done or did is just so cool. He told me before his dog Timmy was put down he had some people over to say good-bye. I thought that was a neat idea. Even though you have no petting and things over time the dog becomes part of a group or people are drawn to it. If I hadn’t had Robin at Humana I may not have met Jenny, Leslie, or Michele. The reason I say this is I would have had my cane, and I walk in sit at my seat and walk to the bathroom, and then go home. I would have interacted with Mel, because she was my boss, but others I may not have found. Having Robin had me taking her out on breaks doing some things in the morning it made me more active as a person. I also think right or wrong some people just don’t approach you with a cane. Not all people are animal lovers, but it for those who are it sparks that wheelhouse. I would drop Robin off at the groomers and go to Walmart. With a cane waiting for my ride to go get her no one talked to me or said hi. My god though with Robin I had to be a therapist to some people they couldn’t stop talking. People would be like I had a dog named bla 10 years ago man she was a great dog. I would say yes sounds nice. Then they would go on with a story about their dog lol. I should have brought tissues with me.

As weird as it was at times with people you would encounter it created something I didn’t have before, and that was easy access to finding someone. If I stand somewhere with my cane appearing lost, because I am no one says anything to me. If I stood lost with Robin except in Arizona where no one spoke English people would constantly come up and ask if they could help which I didn’t always need, but was nice.

Okay one more thing about technology. Recently an app from Microsoft came out called Seeing AI. This thing is amazing as hell. I never thought I could have the abilities that this thing gives me. I also never wanted wearable glasses until this app. In the app it has several channels. Short text’ document scanning, bar codes, people, and scene. Short text is what I will focus on mostly here, but you can take your phone point it at something and hear it reading. It’s amazing. I took it to the Outlet malls in Simpsonville and it read me Bose as I was walking by Gucci or however you spell it as we were walking by. In Sam’s it read me office furniture when pointing it down the aisles. I asked my mom if something said office furniture, and sure enough she said there was a sign. This thing shows me how much text sighted people deal with constantly, and how much as a blind person I miss. I love this thing so much, and thank you Microsoft for boosting my confidence in you as a company, but for also pushing AI technology.

I am really excited to go get my dog, but I am sad about leaving APH for a little while. I really do enjoy coming in to work every day, and the working with the people here. It’s refreshing I’m sad to leave maybe they’ll realize they don’t need me. Also I feel like I am now comfortable here leaving again for most of the month then returning will be interesting. All that aside it’s worth it. I just post this part so you can see all of the emotions that play in to this. It’s not like buying a car. Imagine if you had to get fitted for your car based on personality then to drive it you had to go somewhere else and stay for 2 and a half weeks while you learned about your car. I think we’d have a lot better public transportation if this were the case.

Thank you again Wave 3 and Jenny that really was touching. The fact I can bring Robins story to others, and help them see how much these dogs play a roll in our lives is so cool. I think today we can get lost in ourselves and loose that community feel. I love Louisville, because it’s that big small town. I talk about moving in retirement, that’s a long ways off, but if not I love it here. Besides a major league baseball team I have everything I could ever need here. Growing up in Indiana a lot of people made fun of Kentucky, but I love this state so much. We have mountains, knobs, big cities, and lakes. What more could you really want? I want to get back in helping young blind kids get technology they need. I would really like to focus on eastern KY in particular. I’m not sure how to get something started that can benefit kids the way technology donated by the Lyons and Mr. Lanbright helped me, but I’ll come up with something. Also football is about to start lets go Cats! I bought tickets to Florida, but since I am coming home with my dog that weekend I decided to give my ticket to one of Abby’s family members. I want them to have fun the dog and I will cheer them on from home with Tom on the radio, and of course Kentucky Sports radio pre and post-game.

Happy anniversary Robin

On July 20th 2008 I received one of the greatest gifts in my life my Seeing-Eye dog a German Shepard named Robin! We worked for about 8 and a half years before she passed in December of cancer. She worked up until the end we took it easy the last 6 months, because I knew something was wrong just had no idea it was cancer until about the last week. For this post I want to focus on the first days and months after receiving Robin, because I think people would be interested in that. Some of the things I’ve said before, but hopefully you’ll learn something new. Before I start my girlfriends first dog that passed celebrated a birthday a few days ago. Even though I didn’t get to meet you I hear stories, and I bet we would have been great friends so happy birthday Alice!

I got to New Jersey on a Saturday in 2008. For the next day and a half, we would walk where trainers would watch your pace, personality, and get to know you. You got your dogs on Monday back then I think it’s changed I will soon see hopefully, and blog along the way. On Monday after lunch we all went back to our rooms, and waited to be called in to receive your dog. I remember that moment being nervous not sure what to expect. Rivi called me in she was my instructor, and described Robin to me. She then brought her in and she licked my hand and seemed excited. We went back to my room where that excitement melted a bit, because now Rivi was gone, and I was alone with her, and Robin wanted Rivi not me. I would sit on the floor and pet her and she would move as far away from me as she could. I’d scoot to her again, and she would again move away from me. During training she was always on leash for the most part or on tie down. We would do obedience every day where you practice sit, come, rest, and down. She was really good at it, but tested me the first few times to see what she could get away with.

We would get up about 5:30 and take them out to park and feed them. I remember the first morning I woke up and Robin licked me in the face. That was the first time I felt like she wanted me. For the next few days she would cry when Rivi was near, but she was pretty good about it for the most part.
After we first get them you go on your first walk where you walk around the Seeing-eye’s leisure walking course. It’s basically a circular shape with a gazeebo in the middle. I may not be accurate it’s been 9 years. Anyway we had to put the harness on and go outside. I ended up putting the harness on upside-down somehow. Robin was so patient not carrying she knew what the harness meant though we were going to go somewhere. We went out and walked, and man it was so neat. For the first time I didn’t have a stick I had to rely on her to tell me what we were approaching, and feel her to know what to do. I never had been out there without a cane, and we moved so fast. I felt really great after that walk.

The next few weeks we would go in town and walk around sidewalks doing routes learning each other. I remember one-time Robin told me to stop, and that I should turn I didn’t listen so I said forward and she wouldn’t go. I started moving forward and fell over a bush. Rivi said I needed to start to listen to girls because there always right or something to that affect.

There was part of the training where I felt like maybe a dog isn’t for me. I was so used to the cane, and being without it was difficult for me. I wanted a dog, but I just felt lost, and unclear of what to do. I have this dog stopping and communicating, but I couldn’t understand it to a degree. For 21 years all I’ve ever known is cane travel, and I’m good at it with the dog I am falling and tripping on things is it for me?

We went out for a night trip, and I remember we did really well. We got to a part where Robin thought I would clear a sticking out step and I didn’t and I fell. We continued on and on the way back she slowed down and watched for me I felt that. We went in to New York City, and that was the first time I really felt like man I couldn’t walk this with a cane. To feel her weave around people was amazing. I felt sighted I was passing people. You know people were actually in my way for once! Robin would slow down or bump them with her nose, and we’d move around them. I loved that trip I think that’s where I made my decision that I wanted to keep her.

When we got home to Muncie I had to walk her and practice some routes. I remember I took her on a bus route I did a lot, and I got turned around. With the cane your traveling and it’s objects you feel along with changes in pavement. Your mind is always processing things. With the Robin I could just sit back, and she’d get me by something and I never knew it was there. I got off the bus to go home from Wal-Mart, and we got turned around somehow. I had to ask someone where I was. I felt frustrated, because again I’ve done this successful hundreds of times why with Robin can’t I do it? The answer is you have to pay attention to what the dog is doing I know longer feel trash cans or brick columns at corners I am just on the curb. It took me the longest time to get that. I’d say about 6 months and we were fully in sync with each other.

One thing I remember I had to take a test my final writing assignment at Ball State, and I couldn’t sleep. I laid down on the floor with Robin, and she let me hold her which she never let me do before. That was like are first moment where we had been together for a while and she trusted me. I did things with Robin I hate doing with a cane or now I can’t even imagine trying with a cane. I will do it, but I hate it. Example we went to several Louisville Bat games together, and crowds never bothered me, because Robin would get me through them. I took my cane out about a month ago, and people are tripping on it, or I’m having to hold on to Abby and Bandcroft I just can’t do things as easy as I could when I had Robin. It’s funny how my thought process changed from thinking I couldn’t be without my cane to not wanting to have to use it.

That bond you share with a guide dog is so incredible. She was never too far from me I will never forget the last week we had together. She followed me everywhere I miss that. I miss her I still can work myself up and cry about it.

I’ve shared this story several times, but my first job interview was with an Apple Call Center. I had some interviews when using a cane, and they were uncomfortable, because I had to use sighted guide where you grab someone’s elbow. My thoughts on that are that person already thinks something of me, because they have to lead me around. When I went on this interview Robin followed the guide, and I was just part of the group. I was so amazed by the end of that tour I was speechless. It was the first time in my life where being blind really wasn’t mentioned other than people asking about the dog. I felt sighted. When we would walk in to restaurants, and I could tell her to follow the hostess to the table without having to do sighted guide it was such a confidence builder. With a cane I don’t have to do sighted guide I’m not saying you have to rely on it, but for me why struggle with saying where are you hello I lost you. I just take their arm to each blind person to their own I just want to get to my table or to an Airplane and move on why add stress.

I wish Robin could be with me at my new job she’d love being back downtown. I’d like to explore the area more, but I’m a bit nervous to do it with the cane. Abby and I walked to a bar the other night, and I lead the way for some of it, and it was okay, but man nothing beats walking with a guide. I learned Louisville with her I never used a cane here until now. Anyway happy anniversary to my girl, and thanks for every memory I cherish them all.

I used to think about how I’d react when the day came when Robin would pass, and nothing could or can prepare you for that. Time has helped, but I still find myself randomly getting sad wondering about her. Is she okay? What happens to us? People say it’s hard to lose a child as blind people we outlive are guides so I think that we really feel that loss. Abby and I often talk about Alice and Robin. I’d say once a week we share a story or rehash a memory. It’s nice she understands that I’m not sure someone sighted would. I know Abby thinks about Alice as much as I do with Robin. I have 2 videos I watch about once a month one is of Robin barking. Another is of her eating her last meal. Abby brought Doab over, and Robin had a kids Chicken and Rice. She couldn’t keep anything down for long anyway, so I wanted her to enjoy it. She did she licked the bowl clean. Then I gave her chips which she loved. In retirement I planned to spoil her a bit with people food something I never gave her. I am really strict and will be with my next dog on that. They have their food, and I have mine. Lol

Happy anniversary to are partnership!!! I plan on cooking spaghetti and trying out a new beer delivery service tonight. They charge normal store pricing then $5 to deliver. I don’t drink that much anymore, but it will be nice to be able to see all the beers they have. Nothing frustrates me more than asking what wheat beers they have or what loggers they have and only getting one choice. I wish sighted people could experience that one time maybe things would change. Say I go grocery shopping I have to know what brand and exact thing I want. If I go to a coffee isle and say what types of coffee do you have? That person would think I was nuts or they’d fire back with what do you usually drink? I don’t blame them, but we often miss new products or aren’t aware something is even available. Anyway just wanted to rant about that. The internet has changed this that’s why I love Amazon so much. I will report back on how this goes tonight! After I have one or two for Robin!!!

AirPods and Robins birthday!

Time gets away, and I don’t blog as much as I’d like. Abby and I are doing well. I’m excited to take her to her first MLB game in a few weeks. Pretty soon we will be celebrating 2 years together which is pretty cool. It’s gone by so fast. I had pneumonia two weeks ago, and that wasn’t any fun. Abby came over and helped take care of things. I tell you what when you have that you can’t do anything but sleep. I’d try to stay up, but couldn’t. I am feeling better, but it’s taken awhile.
Abby and I both got a pair of AirPods recently. I tell you what they are some pretty cool technology. Basically what they are is a wireless earbud. You don’t even know you need them until you start using them. I have Bluetooth headphones, but sometimes you just want to wear something smaller. As a blind person traveling on the street an earbud is easier to deal with than an over the ear headphone, because it allows you to hear more. With my Iphone they pair so seamlessly! Then once paired it’s connected to my Icloud for pairing on any other Apple device. For my Mac all I have to do is click on Bluetooth and then Joes AirPods and sound comes through them.
 
Battery Life is decent for a little earbud they get 5 hours music playback, and 2 hours for talk time. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but they also come with a charging case you drop them in there and with in 15 minutes they have 3 more hours of charge. They do well, and battery hasn’t been an issue in my wee trial. For comparison the Samsung Earbuds only get 1.5 hours of battery life when using them to play music from your phone. With those however they do have onboard storage where you can play music without a phone however battery life playback is still only 3.5 hours of play time. They also cost more than the AirPods,.
 
I am really enjoying my new job it’s fun being able to test new applications, and also see new tech. I honestly can’t believe they pay me for it. Lol Larry and I are going to be starting a website for Android TV soon, so I am excited to be involved with that. I don’t think I’ve talked about it here, but I bought a Sony Bravia® TV recently which for the first time I could set it up entirely myself, because it has speech on it. Even just being able to play with the picture settings is so neat. Before I had no idea what my tv offered as far as picture settings, because it didn’t talk. I honestly have no idea why or how it’s not required that every tv at this point doesn’t have to have some sort of screen reader built in. I am happy to see Amazon is going to make the new 4k fire tv they’re selling with Alexa also have Voiceview on it so a totally blind user should be able to set it up from scratch themselves also.
 
This month would have been Robin’s 11th birthday! Also it is 6 months from her passing. I think about her in some way every day. I did apply for a new dog, but It will probably be next year until I can do it. The pneumonia wiped out any chance I’d have enough vacation time to be able to go out and get a new dog if they had one to offer me. The school has to first have a dog that matches your speed and personality first you can’t just use any dog. I’m going to Vegas for a tech show, and really wish I had Robin, because there is tons and tons of people at this thing, and using a cane will be a nightmare. I know I’ve posted this sentiment before, but the way a dog can weave you in and out while in a large crowd is just breathtaking. I don’t give a damn how good of a cane user you are or think you can be you just can’t have that same freedom in an event like that.
 
I just want to say happy birthday to Robin on the 18th. Thank you for being the best Seeing-eye dog you could be. Thanks for the service you provided, and wanting to do it until the end. Thanks for being my friend and partner moving from Muncie to Louisville and several apartments to eventually my house. I know I wasn’t always easy to live with, but no matter what you never seemed to mind. I’m glad I had those 8 years with you, and we created lots of memories. I’ll never forget one time I had to leave her to go to a camp for work. I was gone 4 days, and when I walked out to the parking lot to get her she jumped out of the window of the car to get to me. When I was sick I thought a lot about how she would come lay on my legs, or on the floor by the bed. I miss that companionship a lot! I’ll probably have some desert for her day, and make the best of it.