Category Archives: life

Portland Maine

It’s been about 2 months, but I wanted to reflect on the vacation we took to Portland Maine. The first question we get is why Portland? My answer is something like why not Portland? For a while I’ve gone to big cities to get away, but I wanted to escape the big city feel for a bit. Portland had Uber and Lyft, and I figured Abby and I could get around it fine. I never expected to love it so much. The people we met plus all the things we did still leave me missing it.

We got there Tuesday evening. It was cold and Rainy, and the first thing I noticed was the smell of the ocean in the air. Also how clean it felt to breathe. We got to the hotel and Abby took Bancroft out to use the bathroom and eat. It was raining and I looked at my GPS app to see what was close. I found an Italian restaurant with in walking distance. Even though it was raining we decided to walk. When we got to the place I ordered and so did Abby. We moved down to pay, and I asked where the tables were and that’s when I realized this was more like a local market rather than a sit-down diner. We ended up getting an Uber back to the room, so walking there was really pointless, but regardless I loved it. The people weren’t that friendly, at the restaurant, but we made do. Abby also found a brownie just by feeling things and it was good.

The next day we went out to a place called the Lobster Shack. It was about 10 miles outside of Portland. We took an Uber. We got out and I looked at my phone realizing I had no data coverage. I was a bit nervous, because to get an Uber back of course I needed data. I played it cool, because I didn’t want Abby to worry and said we will be fine. We went in and I had 2 lobsters. I gave Abby a peace of mine and she had a lobster salad. She discovered she didn’t like lobster. After we ate we decided to figure out how to get back. I checked WiFi and of course I found 2, but they were both secure. We walked back outside and I found a spot where I found a bar of LTE. I called the Uber, and it was about 12 minutes out. We walked towards what I thought was a parking lot, but it ended up being the waves of the ocean we heard. It was so beautiful to hear the water moving so fast. We were standing listening when a gentleman approached us and said his mom was blind and he grew up with descriptive video. He asked us would you like me to describe the scenery to you guys? While describing he went and got us some rock to show what the landscape was made of. Looking back on it later I found myself being so grateful he approached us. When we travel scenery really doesn’t mean much to us, because being blind being told the sun is setting or something really isn’t going to stick with me the rest of my life. That guys description and the feel of the rock and the sounds of the waves of the ocean always will. If he hadn’t been there it wouldn’t have meant as much I don’t think. I will tell you are island story and I think this one will make sense of that.

Abby and I caught our Uber back to Portland and got some Ice-cream. We then met Abby’s friend Gabe who she had meant through a guide dog group and we went to a Portland Seadog game. Oh my gosh the elevator at the park was older than the Boston Redsox I’m sure. It couldn’t hold all 3 of us, so I sent Gabe his dog Abby and Bancroft up then I came up next. The radio broadcast was right on point with the game, and they had wonderful crowd interaction. Please Louisville send folks to see how it’s done Bats games are so boring now. Also Iheart needs to get the radio broadcast from being 20 seconds behind. Anyway we got to see a double header, but during the second game we all got cold. Nights in Maine are cold once that sun goes down you’ll need a jacket.

The next day Abby and I went down to the main dock and caught a water taxy over to Peaks Island. We could of gotten on a fairy, but I wanted to see what a water taxy felt like. We got to go pretty fast which I enjoyed. It was about a 15 minute ride over to the island and it was relaxing. When we got there we were just left on the dock so we went exploring. I love this kind of thing. I found a giftshop and people weren’t at first eager to help us meaning the folks working. Abby and I started feeling things. Most of it was shirts so of course we didn’t get to much info. I found the back of the line and waited. Finally one of the workers came out and described some shirts to us as well as other merchandise. I then got a $8.00 shake which was good, but I was shocked it was $8. When did shakes start costing so much? Anyway I’ll stop being an old man. Neither of us were hungry so I called and got the water taxy to pick us back up. Abby and I both reflected on it later in that it was fun going over to it, but not being able to see anything sort of made it feel like any other place. I talked with the lady as she walked with us around the store and got a sense of how small it was, but not being able to see it really didn’t mean much. I did like the fact we saw no cars only what sounded like golf carts was pretty neat. Also everywhere we walked I felt like we were going up or down a incline.

One of the best things we did was the lobster expedition. We got on the boat and they took are picture holding a lobster. I thought it was fake at first and mentioned it to Abby. She grabbed it’s claw first and it moved and she let out a surprised startle it was adorable. Captain Dave was great about describing things to us as we navigated. In one of the traps we had a crab and we felt it’s shell. That was really neat. We caught a few baby lobsters but none we could eat. It takes a lobster 7 years to be big enough to eat. We also learned how to tell male lobsters from female. I ate 2 males later by the way. It was really neat. When we go back to Maine we are going to do the paddleboat experience. Where you just peddle and drink lol and cruse around on a boat.

We also visited a candy store with this really sweet lady who we saw twice but both times she assisted us and let us sample things and was just so friendly. Abby and I both comment that we miss the friendliness. I go in to stores here in Louisville, and I think folks wish I wasn’t there. We’ve ordered from the store online because we miss it.

On the trip we decided to go to Boston for a day to visit Abby’s friend Cory plus just to do something different. We took a bus Boston was about an hour and a half from Portland. It cost Abby and I $80 total to go to put that in comparison to go to Lexington it cost us $180 from Louisville so I really like the transportation. We had so much fun in Boston. We toured the first school for the Blind, and then we had lunch quickly looked at the aquarium, and did the duck tour. One event happened though that has made me sort of reflect and try to figure out a way to convey blindness to the public in a different light. We got out of the Uber at the bus station and we were in a parking garage, so we were searching for the door to the inside of the station and this homeless man I am just assuming he smelled of alcohol says shit and I thought I had problems. Now listen I know being blind is scary to some of you but if having to pick between my life and his I’d take mine any day of the week. Being blind isn’t that bad I have a house an Xbox different blog for a different time, and a good life. I’m tired of feeling like blindness is the worst thing that could ever happen to someone people really need to stop thinking like that. Yeah will it be depressing sure, but can you still enjoy things? Of course you can. It’s all about attitude and prospective. This event though did really impact me I don’t fully know how to handle it yet but I am thinking.

The other topic I want to quickly mention is when I got back sighted and blind folks both asked me if someone went with us? That answer is no. I never travel with a sighted person unless I was dating them or they were a friend, but I want to experience things the way I want not the way some sighted bloke thinks I should. This amazes folks people who I was surprised it did. My message to blind folks is this don’t be afraid to go on your own what’s the worst that can happen? Obviously don’t do anything stupid like me in my 20’s, but you never know what you’ll find just trying. Not all adventures were successful like are Italian restaurant adventure but we still got food and it still worked out. After we got home I was pretty tired and glad to be back for the fact it does take a lot of concentration but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Portland was really walkable and so friendly without any knowledge or much research I think we did pretty good! We will be back for sure Maine it’s my happy place and the humidity here in KY really does suck.

One other quick story Abby brought her guide dog of course and we did some walking on the ocean. now they had this boardwalk feeling thing but little gaps in them every 10 feet or so. She was moving quickly with Bandcroft and I’m back behind a little nervous so I don’t fall in because also I could stick my cane out and hit water no rails. i was a little nervous so she was harassing me a bit and so I said do you want to trade? She just laughed!

Advertisements

Reviewing multiple headphones

This started innocently with a friend of mine that I made while working with Sonos years ago who now has gotten in to the Headphone side of things said hey Joe would you like to test some Sony phones for me? He sent me them, and it started my quest to find the best Noise Canceling headphones I could find. You may ask why noise canceling? I used to rock the Airpods like most of America, but found myself any time things got loud turning them up which will lead to hearing loss. Being blind that scares me. I had the Bose QC1 which Abby had gotten for me 3 or 4 years ago for Christmas. It was an amazing gift. The padding on the headband has warn down, and I wanted a bit newer tech. I ended up giving them to Abby, because her in ear buds were starting to bother her. Audio is super subjective, but I am going to talk about the following headphones. Bowers & Wilkins PX, Sony WHXM3, Bose 700, and Master & Dynamic MW65.

Style

My favorite here is the Master & Dynamic MW65. They have real Lamb Skin earpads and let me tell you those things feel great. They have a vintage look, and every part on them is beautiful. I also like the fact they have no plastic anywhere. Seriously Google them you’ll think they’re pretty too.

Bowers & Wilkins also feels premium real leather, but boring everywhere else.

The Sony’s felt like $100 headphones, and felt like they could break. So much plastic.

Bose has a new design on the 700’s which has been how long in years it’s been since they’ve strayed away from the QC look. I like it metal in the headband and no clicking when you move the earcups. I do hear from sighted folks that the overall look of them is a bit bland.

Sound and Noise Canceling

Sony has a really great headphone for noise canceling however for me it tends to hurt my ears a bit I feel some pressure. Also the headphone has just to much base. They do have an equalizer, but the problem is when you start messing with it the sound stage decreases which is a shame. Man the sound stage on these phones is great. If your in to base you’ll love these. The other thing for me that became a problem is the earpads made my ears get to warm and I didn’t like them for long listening sessions. Everyone’s a little different, but take that in to mind when looking at these.

My favorite for the most part here for sound is the MW65’s again. The highs and mids are clear and beautiful. I have to be honest when I put them on and heard the detail of songs I hadn’t heard before I just smiled. These have 3 down sides though that break them for me. I’d love to just have them to listen to tracks in my house, but for there price tag I just can’t do it. If I were to keep them they’d be my main headphone, and they fail in a few spots. The first is if you bump the earpad on the outside near the buttons for example you hear this clanking noise win your ears. Also if you laydown with them on they are obnoxious, because you get this sort of banging noise in your ear, so for $500 just sit in one spot and don’t move. . Secondly noise canceling is good here but not great like the Sony’s and Bose. I am excited to see where they go with this though maybe the second gen will be even better. Finally for $500 they just don’t have enough features for me. I love the build quality of them, and I love the sound, but they have no aware mode or no Alexa support. They do have Google, but I’d rather see Alexa. I did weep a little when boxing these up and sending them back, because the sound was just so good from them. Thanks Andy for hooking me up with a review set.

Bowers & Wilkins PX. I was excited, because I’ve heard great thinks about B&W, but after having these for a day these weren’t for me. They are heavy. Seriously it felt like I had a big offensive lineman sitting on my head. They isolated well and noise canceling was really sufficient, but that’s where my love for them ended. Just so damn heavy.

Finally the Bose 700. I looked for them all over Maine, because I went in to a store tried them on, and fell in love. Maine didn’t have them yet, so I ordered them from the hotel and they came to me when I got home. The clamping took about 2 days, and then they got lighter and felt better. These though are not as comfortable as the QC line. I’ve grown to like them, but you always notice them, or are aware they’re on your ears. The QC’s I could forget I had headphones on super comfortable. The sound hasn’t changed much, but I think the base is tighter. Something else I do think the sound stage is a bit better defined, but also seems to be song specific. If you have the QC line and don’t have any trouble with them I’d say just sit tight. If you love tech get these. One thing in my case I love is the microphone quality. Not so much how it sounds, but that I can pretty much whisper to it and it hears me. This is great for Alexa. In are house we use headphones so much, that I sort of got away from using Alexa because I’d rather have something on the headphone. Now with these I press a button on the side of them or just say Alexa if you have the wake word on, and it responds. Seriously I can all most whisper which is great, because I won’t bother Abby that way if I’m up late listening to baseball or rugby. Noise canceling is about the same now as the Sony’s. They now have gotten rid of some of the white noise the QC line had, which is great! For me for the features they have, and the more noise canceling they offer these are my new headphones.

Final Thoughts

I could make a review for each headphone and give you way more info, but they don’t pay me for this. Reviewers often give Sony the number 1 spot, and while I think they’re good they do have flaws. If it’s cold for one the touchpad doesn’t respond. Secondly people complain that the Bose 700 don’t fold, but yet one of the breaking points on the Sony’s is the hinge. I don’t think you can go wrong with either also the XM4’s are coming out soon. If your trying to save money, and don’t want a expensive set the QC35 will go on sale, and you can those. I like the 700’s, but I don’t think they are miles ahead of the QC II.. Also a reviewer may have placed a bid on Ebay for the MW65, because they sound just so damn good for Bluetooth headphones.

Trying to find normal

I’m writing this in Word for the Iphone. So far so good. Lol but were only few words in. The last month I’v been watching Australian football which is pretty fun I have to admit. I actually wake up at like 4:30 am to watch a match. You have to be down to find your way back up. I’ve just been grieving so I’ve wanted little human interaction and a lot of Australian people talking. Baseball season is approaching and usually now Denny and I would be gearing up for our annual picking where we think the teams will finish in each division. I may put something together and put on Facebook or here.

I’ve been reading a lot also and I’m sot of irritated we live in a society where a social networking site is where we go to feel like we have friends. It’s kind of sad I am friends with a cousin that honestly I don’t know if I would even recognize her voice if she were to talk to me in real life, but yet she comments on posts of mine like were besties. It’s strange to me. It’s something Denny and I talked about the last time we talked. I keep it around, because maybe people will understand blind people are just like them, but maybe that’s just a fantasy.

Besides the AFL I’ve gotten in to soccer a bit. I mainly sleep and then get excited the 2 minutes that it looks like someone is goin t score, but fuck it I’m doing it. Go Chelsea. How you can play 90 minutes and still be scoreless and call it a tie and be satisfied as a fan is beyond me, but again I’m just rolling with it. I even bought a VPN, to get around regional blocks from radio coverage. The one game I listened to that I can’t get in to is cricket. It can last multiple days or even 8 hours for a match depending on the format of the competition. Folks think baseball is long.

Abby and I have been doing well. We went to a German restaurant that was here locally and it was pretty good. She got her passport so were looking to go show Ireland first a good time. I’m excited to go somewhere with her over the pond it’ll be fun and open my eyes to things. I’ve gotten frustrated lately with my blindness everything is the same. I get no amazing sunsets or mountain ranges too look at so maybe that’s why I am so fascinated lately with new sports. I heard this bird chirp the other day from a cricket match in India that I’ve never heard before and it was so neat. I’m not sure anyone can relate to these type of feelings, but it’s ho I feel. I love Louisville but no sound here is any different from anywhere else in America for that matter. One thing I did like about visiting Redman Washington last year is it smelled so good all of the pine trees. That’s something I don’t get here much. Were going to Portland Maine for a week in June and I am so excited because we will be on the Ocean and I’ll hear some new sounds that I don’t hear every day. I guess I your sighted imagine being in a box and everywhere you went you saw the same inside that’s what it feels like lately to me. I wake up walkt work I encounter the same smells same sounds nothing changes.

Even the radio it’s all the same. New York sounds like Louisville which sounds like Florida. I miss local music and personalities. I flipped on a station out of New Zealand and they were debating if streaming tv was a good thing or not. The radio guy took calls and actually listened to the callers and what they had to say.

We went up to Denny’s celebration of life. It was so nice, and it helped me some to be around people who he touched. It was a little overwhelming, but I guess when someone close is no longer around yit takes time. Man I wanted so bad to call Denny and tell him the rules of the AFL or laugh at how much during a broadcast they’d mention McDonald’s but would have to stop short. Then I look at Facebook and see I have 750 friends and yet none of them can make this transition any easier. That’s where I am one day at a time hoping to encounter a new sound or environment or something that makes me appreciate the small things.

This one belong’s to Denny

The subject line is taken from Reds Radio. Whenever the Reds win a game Marty says and this one belongs to the Reds. I thought it was fitting. I hate writing these sort of posts, because they take me so long to do, and stir up feelings and emotion. I was taking a break from Facebook do to it killing my battery and also just the annoyance of it. I find myself for the last few hours refreshing reading comments and thinking. Closure is hard to find on something so unexpected. To get to here let me start in the beginning.

When I moved to Muncie to attend Ball State I met Carlos. He invited me to his and his girlfriends house for a Christmas party. This guy named Denny was there talking about how he couldn’t order food from a website. Me being a smart ass I asked him what screenreader he was using and he said Jaws. I said that’s your first problem it works with Window-Eyes. Man we laughed about that comment for years. I don’t know why I said it, but it just came out. Denny and I would go on to talk for hours. Literally in college I would call him at 11 and we would end at 4 am. Blind people never sleep lol or at least it is a struggle.

Denny was a big baseball fan. Every baseball season during spring training we would pick who we thought would win the world Series and who would finish where in the division. I’m going to miss shooting the breeze. He was so excited about what the Reds were doing this offseason.

We started this tradition where he would come down and we’d watch opening day together. It started because one year the Reds played the Bats I think it was in 2013. Denny, Robin and I all went to the game. It had rained and was like 48, but the wind was blowing. The more we told the story the colder it was lol. Seriously though I froze, and Robin started shaking against my leg so I took off my jacket and put it around her. They played 7 innings and then called the game. I remember we’d get a pizza and sit and watch games. Usually we would watch the Cubs and Reds and than anything else that looked good. The last time he came down for opening day Abby made dinner for us. I think they had 3 games on a Sunday and then real opening day was Monday. I just remember the 3 of us sitting outside, because it was nice all playing dice world on are phones listening to the Yankees game talking about batters and anything else that came up.

I feel in life you meet a few people who help you become better as a person. For me not in any order it would be Carlos, Ethan, Phil, Steve, and Denny. Anyone of those guys I could talk for hours too and just be me. I had a lot of depression and anger I think looking back on it during my younger years and Denny helped me he understood. When I drank to much and had alcohol poisoning in college he understood and when I struggled with just being treated differently from piers he got it.

He was always a helpful guy. I was searching for an email for something unrelated and I found emails he had sent to me years ago. Some for assistance in switching screenreaders some just a link with hey we talked about this yesterday what do you think of this article? He also had a hearing impairment which he never really complained about. I always admired him for trying his best. Being blind and partially deaf had to be tough.

One time I met him and his daughter to see an art project she was working on. We were walking through the building and some lady said it’s cool you bring your son to these events. Not missing a beat Denny said I know thank you. From that moment on I’d randomly call him dad. He was about my dads age minus a few years so it worked. I think the last several times we talked he knew how much I loved him. Well I’d be proud to be his son, but I got to be won of his best friends so that is pretty cool.

Yesterday it was so pretty, and Abby and I went for a walk. I’ve been struggling to sleep lately my clock is screwed up again blind people suck at sleeping. I sleep when I don’t want to and can’t sleep when I do lol. Anyway after the Kentucky game I told Abby I was going to go sleep for a bit. About 11 she woke me up letting me know she had read Denny had died earlier in the day. It’s crazy I texted him about 8 this morning. It’s the funny thing about life is you just never know. Thankfully he didn’t suffer, but I talked to him recently. The Older I get the more I try to let people know you know what it was great hanging out or seeing you. I’m probably annoying or more emotional about it than I would normally be, but you never know when that last meeting will be. In my life as most I’d say I’ve had to say good-bye to early to friends to much it seems. Anyway I’m pretty emotionally tired of writing now. The funny thing is I just purchased a Jaws license Friday, and was going to tell Denny about it so he could have a good laugh. Thank you for all the memories, and I’m going to miss you my friend. Baseball won’t be the same without being able to call you, and complain about how they’re ruining the game. They don’t need clocks in baseball. Love you dad I hope this makes you proud.

I will leave you with one unrelated story. I got in a Lyft Friday to go to work, and the driver and I started chatting. He said last night at the women’s Louisville game the national anthem was so emotional. He said a blind kid about 8 years old belted out the anthem in all red in her Louisville gear. I said well I can’t believe her parents would lie to her she thought she had UK stuff on I’ll forgive her. He didn’t know what to say. Lol I love catching people off guard. On a side note the news reported that an 8 year old blind girl sang the anthem at the game. Why does the news have to put the fact she’s blind in the story? I haven’t heard her sing yet, but if it’s amazing then just let her be 8. I digress maybe one day.

CES thoughts

I am out in Las Vegas for the 2019 CES Consumer electronic show. I am pretty people fatigued lol. Over 180 thousand people come this conference. I saw so much my brain is a bit mushy on it. If your company is making anything with a speaker on it I think you have a chance to do well.

One thing I observed on the first day was when I would ask for a card or paper the person would hand it to my coworker. I decided at that point I wanted to go around myself. I used AIRA and navigated perfectly. I’ve walked in NYC but this was awe full because people are looking at phones and shoulder to shoulder. A few times I lost my connection or the AIRA agent couldn’t see well enough to assist so I found things like an escalator or hallway. I actually met a lot of nice people doing this, but it’s always somehow focuses at first on the disability aspect. This nice man helped me around people just standing and he said my son has a disability. I honestly enjoy these moments though, because maybe for him it was eye opening that his son could be more independent or accomplish what he wants to do. I’ve said this before my parents didn’t really know anyone blind it really is a miracle they just raised me normal for the most part. I think parents try and be to protective at times and don’t let there kids experience life. My parents just let me get drug by a full grown steer. All over the yard

I met up with a friend of mine from CNET Jesica. I’ve known her for a long time from a podcast she and some other folks did. I used to tease her about Android boy did she give me some shit lol. Were going to hit up In and Out Tomorrow and say good-bye we met up last year. I told her she needs to come to a real state like Kentucky and meet Abby. I hear In and Out is incredible I’ll let you know.

Tonight I had some German food and a leader and a half of great beer. I’m doing well. I think this year I am going to learn German I need a new hobby other than headphones and cellphones so that might be one thing I try to learn. If anyone has any suggestions please feel free to contact me just remember it can’t be visual.

We were out walking last night, because after CES closed it was a hour and a half wait for a cab and ride sharing wasn’t much better. We decided to walk to get out of that area. I think about this from time to time, but honestly if I don’t entertain myself life is pretty boring. For example were walking by these water falls that are timed with the music. To me the music and the water fall are both annoying as hell, because it’s disturbing my traffic listening. But then I think on it and I realize I miss that beauty of things. It can be hard I’d like to say fuck it and move forward, but so many nice things I can’t appreciate. Even something like a sunset it’s just disappointing. Not to be rude, but I lately just want 5 minutes of quiet as a sighted person you can go drive somewhere to clear out your mind I get in a damn Uber and have to make small talk. I must have a friendly face or look like a shrink or something, because these drivers tell me an entire life story when I just want to sit in silence. I’ll be fine in the long run, but I just thought I’d share those thoughts.

I am just cranky I’m sure. I miss Abby being around and even Bancroft. Haha he can’t read this just kidding buddy. I’m only sleeping about 4 hours. I’m also pretty amped up. Today I spoke to Samsung about accessibility. They were pretty impressed on my opinions and changes I had. I do love my Samsung stuff as far as replacing Apple I am about 90% happy. I wish I had a way to read PDF’S I haven’t found an accessible client yet on Android. Also doc files from Word. That is somewhat irritating, because things I could do on the phone have become a bit more challenging. Teufel noch mal. For those wondering Google says that is damn it in German see I am already learning! Christ though that’s a mouth full damn it just sounds better and quicker. I’ll get there I promise. Anyway Samsung was pretty responsive and I think the future looks bright.

Sunglasses that have speakers are becoming a thing. Bose has some I want to see, but I couldn’t find them here. I did see some from Aftershocks which are bone conducting. I said if they could stick a camera and make it work with Seeing AI my department head would be over the moon.

I saw some accessibility gadgets too. I won’t mention the company do to where I work and I don’t want to have a conflict of interest or anything, but honestly I wish people would ask someone before assuming the product they make will work. To be fair maybe I needed more time with this, but let me explain. Someone here has this computer mouse looking device that has 1 Braille cell on it. You can change it by moving the device to the right. Basically the Braille changes below your finger but you only can read one letter at a time. Now the dev of this product is I’m sure a wonderful human and I mean no disrespect when I say the following statement. When I told him I can read the Braille but by the third letter I’ve forgotten the first letter alone trying to peace together a sentence. He goes well I met a girl earlier that could do it. Well great good for her proving again I am not the smartest rooster on the farm thanks sir. He goes you just need to change the way you read. Oh really are you an educator now? How about this what if I take you to a room and hold up flash cards with one print letter on it and see if you can read what I am trying to convey to you. Every suggestion I made he’s just like no can’t do that. I suggested maybe putting 4 cells on it so at least you could have some context. My other one was instead of moving the device maybe just put a sensor on the right that would advance once you moved your finger somewhat simulating reading Braille in the first place. Let’s not listen to the blind guy me over here with sight I know more than you about that bumpy stuff you read, and I just can’t figure out why reading one letter at a time would be freaking stupid. Okay I feel better now. For the record some sighted folks do know more about Braille than me I’m sure he isn’t one of them though, but again though I am a dumb rooster.

On that note I am wrapping this up. I do have one more story when I got to the Louisville airport I used Nearby Explorer with the indoor navigation to get to my gate. Before I talk about that I was going to Southwest because for some reason no one was outside for curb pick up. I walk in and this friendly gentleman from Delta started walking with me asking where I was trying to get to. I said I am going to the Southwest counter. He says man you walk fast. I guess in his mind I’m blind so I am supposed to be slow? I just responded yes sir. I didn’t ask for you to walk along side me I don’t care, but it just strange. Anyway once I checked my bag I used Nearby to get me to the gate it was so awesome doing it independently I can’t express enough it’s just me my skills and a computer voice telling me what I pass. I just wish it were everywhere. this time I used my cane no Frazier of course like last time I had done it by myself. I did find every damn rope bar thing in the airport, but besides that it was such a great walk and experience. It just makes me proud that I know the developers and get to test this for a living. I just hope one day blind people don’t have to ask where it is available it just is. I bid you Frieden which Google tells me it means peace in German. I now know 3 words before this blog post I knew 0 so that’s a hell of a start.

Trip to Muncie.

Last Monday I caught the bus and got off at my transfer point. I use an app on my phone that tells me when my next bus is approaching. It goes off alerting me it is 1 minute away. The bus stops but is in the street it didn’t pull all the way up to the curb. I start walking towards it to get on because I thought it was my bus. My cane went around the poll but my face didn’t. I smacked it hard and started to bleed. THis guy gets off the bus and is like are you okay? I’m saying every 4 letter word I can think of in my mind, but I reply yeah. Ending up it was the wrong bus. So I got a bloody forehead for nothing. God that hurt.

Last weekend Abby and I traveled up to Muncie it was a lot of fun. I hadn’t been back for 7 years. I was hoping to fit seeing some people in to the schedule, but we did good. Are time in Indy was so short so unfortunately I couldn’t see Monica and her family, Collin or Jonathan.

We got to Muncie on Friday and we met Carlos for lunch at Scotties. That wrap was so good. I didn’t get a beer that would have been truely nostalgic, but it was good. I told Abby about some of my adventures there. I’d meet Ethan and some guys and on pitcher night and then stumble home. Then when I got Robin I’d walk there have a beer and walk home not so tipsy. After that we took a shuttle ride to the Bell building. I saw the new accessible tech lab man it is so different from when I was there. Carlos has done a fantastic job keeping it up.

One thing I did was get the door to door service set up so we could get around cheaper and more reliably. Muncie is a small town so Uber is setup there but you may not always have one available. We rode out to the Best Western with a driver named Viola. I actually rode with her back in the day to work. She would keep dog treats for Robin and hand them to me when I’d get off so I could give her one when I wanted. Needless to say Robin adored her. Thats one thing I miss we have so many drivers here in Louisville we get to know some, but there it’s more like a family feel.

Anyway we went in to the Best Western and found the desk. The person behind though made no noise and we stood there for about 5 minutes. Abby said this isn’t good maybe no ones here. Finally the guy cleared his throat. Can you believe that shit? Seriously if we were sighted this wouldn’t happen, but my guess is he didn’t know how to deal with 2 blind people. Later Abby and I joked that blind people just walk in and hang out in hotel lobbies for the fun of it. After awkward guy checks us in I ask him what direction is the room? He fucking points and says it’s that way. I say to the right? No it’s that way. Finally I just start moving. We walked through a door and I guess he finally maybe understood we couldn’t see and he met us and showed us where the room door was. You just never know what your going to encounter. The hotel though was easy to navigate and I found the pool hot tub, and vending machines all with ease. I used AIRA to learn what was in the soda ones, so that was cool.

For dinner we went out and celebrated my long time friend Phils birthday at Red Lobster. I saw some folks I hadn’t seen in years and one in particular made me laugh. This lady named D is visually impaired so she can see a bit. I said hi D and she sort of hesitated so I knew she didn’t recognize me. I said it’s Joe. She says Oh my gosh I didn’t know you since you put on so much weight. Lol when you can’t see yourself people calling you a fat ass makes you feel good.

After Red Lobster the driver Steve said he enjoyed me and Denny going back and forth. He took us back to the hotel and said he could come get us in 40 minutes saving us a cab to Denny’s. Again that small town kindness was just so nice. We went back out and hung out with Denny for a bit. Our first night went well.

Saturday we went to Dina’s Christmas party. I have so many memories over the years of this. So back in the day this event was my first gathering of mainly blind folks. Maybe at a later time I will talk more in detail about this, but being around folks that are going through the same struggles is comforting. Over the years it’s become like a family event. I also got to see Sue and M’lee Sue’s daughter. M’lee I forgot to mention this to her the fact she has an ‘ in her name just rules. Anyway the party was lots of fun and I really enjoyed seeing everyone.

Alright now to the fun part. After the party I asked some folks to come over and we would just hang out and drink some wine. Phil, Dina, Steve, Sue, Carlos, and Denny all coame over and man it was a blast. Carlos brought 12 beers honestly I thought to myself no way were drinking all of those. He got me some Gumb Ball head from 3 Floyds oh my gosh so good. Needless to say we finished them all. I was bar tender. Abby, Phil Dina, Steve, and Sue had wine. I thought we may get in to trouble for being loud, but no one said anything. I know I don’t see those folks much, but I love seeing them and being able to tell old stories as well as new ones. I love them al, and it was a great trip.

It’s funny since the anniversary of Robin’s passing in my head I try and go over old memories and being back in Muncie brought up a lot. I’d say Robin not only increased my independence and made me more confident, but she provided stability and made me grow up. It’s like when you have a kid you can still drink and probably more, but your responsible for something else. Robin helped me realize that and made me grow up. I wanted to make the Seeing-Eye proud and wanted to have her on display working and doing a great job.

Carlos and Kelly took Abby and I downtown after we had some breakfast of course and we caught the Gray Hound home. It was great seeing Kelly I wish she could have come to the hotel also. Abby and I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed sharing that part of my life with her. We plan to go back again it won’t be 7 years. Abby and I are wanting to go to Portland Maine next summer. Some of that depends on when I get my new dog, but we really want to explore and see some places we haven’t been to. Plus I want some fresh Lobster. Anyway happy holidays to y’all.

7 years in Kentucky Y’all better consider me a Kentuckian now!

It’s hard to believe 7 years ago I took a job at Humana moving from Muncie to Louisville. At the time I wanted to do move somewhere new with an airport, and bus station. I know my wants are so low. Seriously though it was a struggle to get transportation besides friends out of Muncie. I wanted to try and chase a dream of being in radio, and I needed those things to try and do that.

I’ve always been a sports fan, and grew up thinking I could be in the NBA. Then my mom told me I had two strikes against me. One I was blind and 2 I was white. Now trust me I think if I were black I could have played damn it. Anyway when I moved here I liked both teams. I always thought the Kentucky Wildcats had a much better radio play by play announcer, but regardless I kept neutral.

It was 4 years ago roughly that my life and views on the world and people changed. I got a call that Ethan had killed himself. It changed me in several ways I try to tell people I love them and what they mean to me now. You never know when that last time will be. I would just come home from work and sleep. Reading was about the only thing I could do that took the numbing away.

I then got in to a radio showed called Kentucky Sports Radio with Mat Jones. It’s about sports, but it usually is the ridiculous banner that comes up that makes me enjoy it. For the first time in a month or so I could laugh again. I started really [pulling more for Kentucky. I got in to the teams that year loving the roster of guys for both Football and Basketball. In many ways it brought some new normalcy back for me.

I still have a hard time with the NFL. That was something Ethan and I shared the passion for and would talk about. I try to watch, but it hurts and that enjoyment isn’t there. Life is funny that way we all take the little things way to much for granted. I remember thinking at one point in my life no woman would come between me and my sports. I loved sports so much then Ethan dies and it’s tough to get through a NFL game.

Tonight Kentucky ended a streak of 31 years losing to Florida. I went to the game 3 years ago at Commonwealth and we should have won that game. Abby went last year I’d just got home with Frasier and decided that would be two much for him. They should have won that game, but fell short. Abby and I both until the end thought we may lose this yet, but when they won oh man we were both so happy.

Then I had to hear what Matt and the other fans thought. It made me so happy listening to folks who’ve gone for 30 years to games and finally got to celebrate. That’s the thing I like about Mat’s show. Most radio and Tv is based out of New York or has a national appeal but when you listen to Mat’s show it’s folks from this state who just love there team.

Anyway I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since taking that leap of faith that things would work out. Robin and I learned downtown, and then got a house. Now I have a wife it’s crazy how I’m becoming part of this wonderful city and state. Anyway I wanted to reflect on things tonight and I realize how fortunate things have been for me. Wrapping up go Cats!!! Also miss you bro I think about you still every day. Give Robin a hug up there,, and I’ll see you on the otherside.

Wedding and the Honeymoon!

Finally I have the time to update y’all on the wedding and honeymoon. Before that in a month I get to go see Microsofts campus in Washington for work. As a tech enthusiast is really cool. I have actually been looking at the surface line, but still feel the IPad Pro line serves me better. I still think it will be neat to spend a few days there.

The wedding. I first want to say it was such a nice opportunity to see people who I haven’t seen in a while which felt great. I talk to Phil and Denny once a week, but I haven’t seen them in a few years. My friend Sue came and I hadn’t seen her in about 5 years. Muncie and Ball State I met a lot of great people. Having Carlos there was awesome. Anyway I don’t want to call out people by name I’d be here all day and I wouldn’t want to forget anyone. The weekend went so fast and the day was a blur while it was happening. I do just want to thank anyone who came y’all are family and I love you.

We had a dinner Friday night where anyone who came in from out of town we just sat around and talked with. I got to see Linda and Dan. Linda was a professor at Ball State who went blind later in life. Carlos and I would go out drinking with her some back in the day. Real quick my favorite Linda story has to go on here and this is a great time to tell it. We went out for her birthday and we all had several drinks. We call a cab to take all of us home. Linda has hearing issues also which makes her orientation a bit tricky. So she starts climbing in to the cab and she has her butt on the dash and says so. The cab driver goes honey you can sit in here any way you need lol. I still tease her about sitting the wrong way. Seeing Dan was cool he has gotten Parkinson’s and that was tough for me to see. Dan was a handy man good with his hands and a hard worker. Now he told me he doesn’t have the energy and has the shakes and fatigue which is difficult for him. It was nice sitting with them and made me reminisce on hanging out with them at Carlos and I’s apartment many years ago.

Seeing my uncles and Ants also was really good. Were not a huge family in that a lot of my childhood I’d see them a lot. I wish we could have had all of my cousins and had them there, but Abby and I wanted to try and do something but not spend tons of money.

Anyway the night before I got about 2 to 3 hours sleep. I went to Denny’s room and I sat up joking with him, Rachael, Bridget, and Phil. I used to play dolls with Rachael now she is about to drive, and she is turning in to a nice young lady. Man where the hell does time go?

I went back to Phil’s room and slept on the couch. Before falling asleep we showed each other some electronic gadgets. The couch was short, so my legs kept falling off. Anyway in the morning I woke up and went to my mom and dads room. We had breakfast as a family which was really fun.

The minutes counting down to the wedding were nerve racking. I remember pacing a bit, and just ready to get to it. Once Abby walked down I settled in. The ceremony felt like it took a while, but viewing a video later it was only 13 minutes or so.

The reception went really well. I was starting to feel the fatigue a bit, but I think I saw everyone at least twice. Jenny told me I had to cop a feel of Abby’s dress cause by that point I still hadn’t. On the way home I looked at it man those things are so cool. Being blind I haven’t really seen them much, and all of the fabric is just incredible to feel.

For the honeymoon we went to Chicago. Abby hadn’t been to a Major League Baseball game so we wanted to go see the Cubs. My grandpa took me to a game in 2001, and I’ve visited a few times over the years, and being there is just a great feeling. I will never forget her first reaction to the stadium. We got out of the cab and were about a half block from it. We encountered a bunch of people right away and she grabbed on to me tight, and kind of froze on locked in to the sound of the organ playing and all of the crowd noise. I said honey we have to move and she said wow this so busy. When we travel together even though she has a dog I get in front with my cane and she hangs on to my shoulder. We do this, because if she were to use Bancroft I would never find her again. A lot of people assume that Bancroft guides both of us which really isn’t the case. It really is hard for them to guide two people because they really only clear for one so it’s a bit dangerous to try that. Anyway I got to the gate and asked for assistance to will call to pick up the tickets. This guy John helped us. Man he was so good. He got us to will call and then to the team store, and then to our seats. He came back in the 7th to see if we wanted to stay or not. The game went in to extra innings and the Cubs won in a walk off. John helped us get to a street that wasn’t blocked off to catch a cab out of there back to the hotel. This was useful so that the next day I would know where we could do so. I think if we were there more Abby and I could get out on our own like we do with the Bats here at home.

One thing we did when are first night was we went to navy peer. I had always wanted to go, and so we took a Lyft over to it. I used my GPS app, and also Aira the service I’ve talked about her before. We took an architecture boat tour where you get on a sailboat and go on to Lake Michigan and can view the skyline. Okay I will stop there. Most of you may be like what the hell do blind people get from this? Actually I just wanted the boat ride. Lol the wind and smell of the lake were so nice. However with Aira I had the lady take pictures and she also described some of the views for Abby and I and that ended up being nice. After we got done with the tour we walked to the gift shop. It took us a bit, because the gift shop ended up being inside what I would call a small mall building. When asking sighted folks along the way they made it sound like it would be a little store on the peer if that makes sense? It ended up being us walking threw McDonald’s in to a small mall lol but we found it. The lady in the gift shop was so great about explaining the different souvenir’s we could get. I think this the hardest part it’s not like online shopping you have to really ask whaat do you have? The hard part is whenever doing this people tell you what they see they like not what you may want. I think that is where online shopping is so great. Me myself can find what I want it has drawbacks though because sometimes an item feels different than I would have pictured lol.

One night we went out for pizza, but the place had a hour wait, and we both got cold. I said we need to find some other place. Abby pulled up a few places on swarm and we settled on a place called Bottled Blonde. We walked about 2 blocks and found it. Oh my gosh this place was like a night club I would have visited in college. The music was loud, and rather than tables and chairs we sat on a couch and had a coffee table in front of us. I told her I didn’t realize were going to visit a night club on our honeymoon. The pizza ended up being good and I had an Oldstyle so it was fine. Afterwords I said lets take a Uber to Shakeshack. In the Uber we told him it was our honeymoon and Abby hadn’t ever had it before. I had in NJ last year gettting Frasier. I forgot we were in Chicago and nothing has a drive through so he parked his car on the side of the curb and went in with us. I told him we were fine, but he said he wanted to buy us shakes for our honeymoon. I was so worried about the car would it get toed? He said it would be about a 50% chance which didn’t make me feel any better. Anyway we got back and the car was still there. I got to say the Uber drivers were so kind and we had so much fun with them. We took both Lyft and Uber and they’re so nice. I tipped him nice, because he didn’t have to do that and we weren’t wanting him to go above and beyond like that.

We took the subway in to the game on Sunday which that was fun. I love taking the trains and subways when we can since we don’t have them in Louisville. When we got off at the Wrigley stop it was so crowded. I got us to a broken escalator going up we walked up, but then hit a massive line of people. A guy asked us if we were going to the ball park? I said yes, and he said grab my elbow. He took us right up to the gate but helped us weave through the crowd. That was such a cool experience to do it like someone who lived there. Saturday we did the tour of Wrigley and we got to go on the field. It also gave Abby a chance to feel how big the stadium was.

By the end of our trip we missed home. Everywhere you go you encounter people or horns it’s just so much more easy going at home. I love the bustle, but it does get fatiguing after a few days. Overall though it was a wonderful trip and something I know we will reflect on for years to come. One more thing I was surprised the hotel didn’t’t have Braille in the elevator. We got a tour of the place a few times. We learned where the buttons were after a few times messing up, but it shocked me that they wouldn’t have them. We’re in downtown Chicago!

I am starting to hear the Wedding bells.

Were less than a week away from the wedding. Abby and relaxed this weekend since the next few will be pretty busy. We have the wedding next weekend and then the honey moon the weekend after. I started hearing from friends this weekend, which got me excited for next weekend. My nervousness is building a bit, but I am just going day by day. You can stress yourself out, and my mindset these days is to just relax there’s know reason to worry.

We tried a place I heard about on a flight to Vegas. It’s a restaurant called Dragon Kings Daughter. I had some top quality sushi and one of my favorite beers Gumball head on tap. We also did a lot of odd and end things like get Bancroft a bath trim Abby’s hair and stop buy the bank.

I tell you what Lyft and Uber make life so much easier just being to move between locations easily and on our terms. I tend to try and get to a shopping center with multiple things I need. For example we dropped Bancroft off at the pet groomer, I walked down to the UPS store and mailed something off to Bose, and then Abby and I walked to a Chinese place for lunch. After that we caught an Lyft to the bank, and then to the Salon. When she was done we caught a Lyft back to pick up Bancroft and then to go home. The amount of things we got done at one time was great and before this would not have been possible. I say all of this, because I see New York trying to put restrictions on Lyft and Uber slowing things down, and complicating things. Hopefully things sort themselves out, and that Louisville never threatens my independence. I see so many posts on Facebook and Twitter I’ve done it also getting angry when Lyft or Uber deny a ride for having a service animal. The thing is Yellow Cab did this also, but the thing with them is I can’t see the cab number with them. If Uber or Lyft do this I have the drivers info on my screen.

Recently I’ve started a new obsession yes move over technology. I started a love for real leather briefcases and bags. I’ve been researching them for about 2 months reading up on vegetable tan vs chrome tan. My main reasoning for wanting one is I like the idea of using one bag for a life time and being able to pass it along to your family. If I use this bag for the next 20 years, and then I’m able to give it to one of my nephews somethings just really neat about that. Anyway I got the Marlondo double spaced briefcase. My god it’s beautiful. I’m blind lol, but it smells so good, and so soft feeling. It was a bit stiff at first, but I’ve broke it in. It can hold a lot, and I can pack my lunch in it, plus all my tech. It’s heavy as these full grain leather things are, but it’s just so nice. If anyone’s looking for something like this just ask I will share my knowledge in research on these bag companies. I also was able to speak to a leather maker in Australia for a little bit, and talked to him about kangaroo leather which is much stronger than cattle leather it’s also thinner. He is selling a kangaroo leather wallet I have my eye on. I don’t know what’s caused me to geek out on this, but I’m loving it.

Something I’ve stumbled upon recently is these YouTube channels from Gamers from Twitch. These guys and girls have channels where they talk about there lives and they have a huge following. It must be a generation thing, because I don’t get it. I’m going to watch a guy or girl play a video game all day and not play myself? When I was growing up we had game faqs, but the idea was you’d still play it yourself. To top it off though these YouTube channels are like podcasts or radio shows where these kids just talk about life. It’s so weird that people are so obsessed with these video game players. I’m not the brightest ball on the tree, but I just don’t get it.

Arms as big as a tree trunk

The other night Abby and I went to Acoustic Jam put on by WAMZ. This had 6 different singers at it, and I loved the format. They had 3 bands up at a time and they each played a song, and joked with one another. I really loved Mattie and Tae, Travis Denning, and David Lee Merfie. The concert was at a place I’d never been to called the Mercury ball room. According to the tickets there was no seating. Abby said they will find us a place to sit, because sighted folks are nervous about us standing. I said I don’t know, but sure enough we sat. I am not complaining we were out of the way and it was nice not to have to worry.

When we got to the venue this security guy came out and took us to a bench inside. I grabbed his arm and it was amazingly huge. I mean I couldn’t put my hand around his arm. My brother and dad have big arms, but god this guys arm well I’m going on and on like a school girl would. When your blind pretty much the only image you have of people is from feeling yourself and the handful of others along the way. I went home and pumped some iron I want Abby to be amazed by my arms lol. Whenever I hear Stern or guys gush about women part of me goes Christ haven’t you seen it all by now, but the part of being blind that is sad is truthfully everyone is different and we miss so much of that. It’s probably a gift and a curse all at the same time.

We had to leave a bit early since it was a work night. We couldn’t get anyone’s attention because it was loud in there. Abby grabbed my shoulder and I put my cane out in front of me. I hit several feet, but people move and were nice. I knew which way the door was, and moved towards it. A guy came up and said need an elbow? I said yes sir, and he navigated us the rest of the way outside. It was a great venue as are most in Louisville for assisting and not a bunch of confusion to help us get in and out.

I want to address a comment I heard recently, about blind folks being parents. I was on the bus talking about getting married to someone and I was asked if we wanted kids. I said no were older, and honestly I don’t have the energy for it. I love seeing others kids and loving on them, but it’s great when the house is quiet also. Someone recently mentioned you should want kids so they can take care of you. Dude I’m not 90 or in a nursing home. They then said yeah but they could make your life easier. Kids for the first 4 years first off do nothing but shit, cry, eat, and the other 1% do something cute. I actually got kind of offended with this comment. Help me? Make it easier? If Abby and I had a kid it’s going to be a kid. Does your 4 year old make your life easier somehow? Then it got worse the conversation that is. They said well once the kid grew up it could drive you around. Okay dip shit seriously that would be 16 years at the earliest and honestly I’ll have a flying car.in 20. I don’t even know where to start here. With Robin and Frasier I’d always hear some sighted folk go you take care of him don’t you? It always pissed me off. If I didn’t feed the dog, take it out to shit, or do the cleaning or maintaineding of the dog where it would it be? I feel like people think having a kid all most makes it a slave to the blind people which is just crazy! The blind parents I know take there kids to dance practices, soccer games, and anything else the kid wants to do. I don’t know where this kids taking care of a blind parent mentality comes from, but it needs to stop, because it‘ so absurd.

I am still not sure if I want to get another dog. The time away again, uncertainty if it will work any better than the last time, and the fact is I’m getting around fine. Yeah for sure when we go to Chicago I will miss what the dog provides,, but that’s random instances. I took a few Lyfts and Ubers this week, because I’ve been sick, and it’s been nice to get in not having to worry whether the driver is going to cancel or not which is sad, but if I’m being honest with myself it is nice. It’s been slower getting around, but I’m fine. I’ve encountered a blind person lately who is completely silly with her dog. She treats it as if the dog has choices which it shouldn’t have. She told her dog to sit 5 times before it did, and still gave it a treat. No corrections just acted as if giving a command five times before it listened was normal. These schools that don’t believe in corrections trouble me. Her dog was from a school out in California I think. Both Robin and Frasier if they didn’t sit when I said sit it was correction time.

I wanted to give a shout again to my teachers in the past. I was really lucky and had a teacher who taught me Braille, and knew the code herself. Ms. Tami taught me Braille when I was 4 years old. I remember her bringing over a rubber board and putting pins in it to represent the dots. I recently have witnessed and also told about kids who are graduating school knowing parts of the Braille code, but not all of it. I sort of have to be careful here, but I will speak my mind and be honest. I was somewhere doing a presentation on a product for work. A teacher asked me if rather than something being displayed in Braille could it be displayed in print? She said they struggle with reading braille. Wait what your a teacher of the visually impaired yet you yourself struggle with reading braille? How can you teach something to someone if you don’t know how to do it yourself? Tami taught me so much when I was really young on technology, and how to navigate things. The teacher then said she didn’t know how to use voiceover on the IPhone or IPad so she normally does something with it off then turns it on for the student. Again how do you teach this to a student? Tami Could use Win Vision or a scanning program she taught herself then me. If she couldn’t figure it out she called a company and learned. I’m sure there forcing kids on these teachers, but god you got to know the tools that can help these blind kids succeed. Maybe I need to get my masters and go help educate these kids I feel so bad for them, and the fact some of these teachers are earning a paycheck and don’t know braille or the technology these kids need.

I am really a technology guy, and I am trying to not continue to buy new things and just enjoy the ones I have. I had a HomePod but Apples wall garden started to annoy me. My Alexa can play MLB audio, Podcasts, call and message people, and more. My HomePod can only be used with Apple Music which I don’t want, and could Airplay. I just wanted a speaker that could do everything I wanted so that brought me to sell my HomePod on EBay and get a Sonos 1. I love it. I have Alexa built in, and plus I have Airplay 2 now. This speaker can do anything I need. Airplay put the Sonos over the top for me that was it’s one big drawback. If you have Android it still lacks Google cast, but maybe it will show up when the google assistant does later this year. If not sorry you have a inferior operating system. Hahaha just kidding. I’ve had it a week, and love the sound plus all the services that are integrated in.