Category Archives: Travel

You must be newly blind?

I think it’s a wonderful time to be blind. For the first time in my life as far as technology goes you can go to any of the big companies and use their operating system Straight Out of the Box. Microsoft, Apple, and Google all offer options straight out of the box that are accessible to anyone who is blind. That really is a dream come true saying that statement. When I was a kid I would have to buy a laptop for example then pay around $1,000 to add on a screen reader. You couldn’t just buy a cheap computer back then no computers were really cheap but even the cheaper ones wouldn’t work with a screen reader you had to have extra Ram to make it work efficiently. So we would spend around $1,500 on a laptop plus then an extra thousand for the screen reader. That isn’t the end of it though unfortunately! What would happen is the screen reader would have to be updated every 6 months to a year depending on how fast technology was moving. So for that you would have to buy what’s called a maintenance agreement which would cost around $25athree upgrades. Things have gotten a lot better since then really we have apple to thank for making voiceover accessible and so good out of the box it has Force Google and now Microsoft to play catch-up and do the same. After seeing Microsoft I really feel that they are wanting to make they’re operating system accessible. This hadn’t been the case under the previous CEO but I really do feel they are trying hard to catch up and possibly become better than what we currently have. It will take time but meeting the people who are actually developing narrator and the other products I do believe in them. Four jobs we need them and Jaws to become better!

I had a few moments out there of just realizing how far technology has come for blind people and how affordable it’s becoming. I think I told you last post I switch to Android! I actually trade in my Galaxy S9 in for a new Galaxy Note 9. I did that because I wanted the bigger battery and even though I’m not thrilled with having the bigger phone the battery makes up for it. This note 9 simply is the best phone I’ve owned in 2 or 3 years! It’s fast and gets me through the day and then some. I used it the entire day once getting to the airport so I had a four and a half hour flight to Chicago and another hour to Louisville. It did amazing I still had 50% of my battery left when getting to the airport to call an Uber. Accessibility wise I do run into a few frustrations with apps however it’s nothing that I can’t manage I’ve pretty much replaced any app that I used on a regular basis on iOS besides games. I wish Android had a few more games that were developed for the blind or that were developed for everyone that worked with the screen readers! I miss my card games! I think though I’m going to stay with Android for the foreseeable future

It’s funny though I was at the airport waiting to fly to Chicago and I heard voice over coming from someone’s iPhone. I thought I wonder if I know them because you know all blind people know each other! See how I plan to the stereotypes? Anyway I heard the guy talking and I said George is that you? He said who is that? I said it’s me Joe. I had met this guy George at the world blind Union conference that was going on out there he works for the American Federation for the blind. I also met his colleague Matthew so I assumed Matthew was with him and I said Matthew are you there too? It was pretty cool recognizing them from afar.

I didn’t have a moment though we’re I realized as a blind person that we still need to push forward. I have contemplated ending the blog and not giving updates because honestly my life isn’t that interesting. However I met Chris in Chicago who changed my mind. So I get to Chicago from Seattle and ask for an agent to get me to my gate because I only have about 30 minutes and didn’t want to risk being late. So Chris meets me and asked me where I was coming from so I mentioned that I was coming from Seattle he asked if I was there on business or pleasure? I responded business. He said just out of curiosity what do you do? So I gave him the run-down and advised I was out at Microsoft for 4 days. He said wow you can work at Microsoft? I didn’t really know how to handle this question but basically what I actually do. He said oh so you must be recently blinded? Me know I have cancer when I was a year old. Chris damn dude you must be really smart! Me that may have been a? I apologize but I’m dictating. Anyway I said no I work with a lot of people who are smarter than me I’m just a tester. It really is true I’ve talked about this and other post I feel that the blind developers I work with do not get the same recognition they deserve for producing these products. Anyway it’s sort of irritates me that people still have this opinion that blind people just sit around and do nothing all day. It’s sort of baffling to me for someone who has worked their entire life! Well maybe not my entire life but most of my adulthood. I’ve had the struggle that most blind people face in finding employment but I’ve been fortunate I know there’s people out there who aren’t as fortunate and haven’t found work and it’s guys like Chris that really irritate me because unfortunately you have some of those same folks hiring. The problem is that I feel you go into an interview and people look at you and say wow how would he do this or how would she do that? They’re not looking at the realization and the abilities of person actually has their seeing themselves as a blind person. It was completely out of the normal for Chris to think that a blind person could actually work at Microsoft never mind that I had actually met three blind people who work at Microsoft while I was there.

I feel like the dictation so far is killing apples! I haven’t corrected anything yet. Any mess-ups probably are from me not speaking clearly. Anyway it’s been a crazy few months hard to believe I’ve been married for two already! Abby and I are doing well our heat went out today so I called and have a repairman coming tomorrow. This happened once before at my house and it was a cold night thankfully and Louisville it’s not that cold yet! It’ll probably get down to about! I’m enjoying being married though we are a good team! Her more so than I probably. I haven’t had to sleep on the couch yet so that’s saying something! The next entry I’ll be back to the keyboard well as long as Apple fixes their damn iPad keyboard issue. I bought an iPad to be a replacement for a laptop lately since iOS 12 though for some reason when I click on a box my keyboard refuses to type the thing it’s supposed to do the best! Too bad apple doesn’t hire me to be a quality assurance person for them I would have pointed this out and beta! It really is driving me nuts.

I’m going to be real with you guys for a minute. I recently just got back from a trip and I do like to travel but the older I get I realize there’s a sadness with that. As a blind person I don’t enjoy going places as much as I used to when I was a kid. I think as I’ve aged I miss some of the things people who can see get when they travel. For me all the sounds are the same. I think that’s why I enjoy Germany so much because it was actually different. I gained a lot of experience and her new things that I don’t often hear here. Seattle or Redmond felt just like Louisville! I used to flip on the radio and go up and down the dial listening to different shows or programs because city-to-city they would be different. Now radio is the same no matter where you are! So that’s gone. I didn’t even bother. However went out walking or driving around in a Uber. I noticed all of the same restaurants and the same things that Louisville has. I mean sure I could go to the Space Needle but what am I gaining from that? I don’t know maybe I’m just being a little grumpy but it is true the more we grow and become unified the more things are looking the same. I know that may not have hit you guys yet as people who can see, but for blind people it really is sort of becoming sad. I think that’s why I enjoy going to see Fraser in the country because it’s different it’s quiet not many people around and it’s just something I don’t get to experience every day. I also grew up on a farm so it reminds me a lot of my childhood but these are all feel the same to me for the most part. Other than being definitely more pine trees and sort of forest e feeling it was Louisville! I just had to travel five and a half hours to sort of be in the same place. I think some services are helping with describing different scenery and things, but at the end of the day it’s sort of his old the same to me. For example when Abby and I were in Chicago and we did our sailboat river cruise we learned a lot about the city’s architecture, but nothing really remain with me from that. The feelings of being on the water in the wind were incredible and that is what stuck with me. Mainly because it’s something I don’t experience every day here in Louisville. I’m sure though if you asked a majority of the people on that same Cruise they would point to a picture of something in the skyline from Chicago or something they salt. After that cruise really Chicago is just a big city experience. I don’t know it’s sort of made me sad in a weird way that I feel this way, but there’s not much I can do I’m just saying and sharing my experience. I wish that going to Seattle or going to anywhere else somehow felt different. I tried to go to some local restaurants while I was there and did. I had a great shrimp burrito for example, but most of the places that we were near were chain restaurants. Due to timing I ended up having to go to Red Robin one night and Jersey Mike’s the next. Maybe that also maybe just sort of feel like I could have been anywhere else or at home. I had a co-worker with me the first two days and he was walking around and describe some of the scenery to me which helped! One morning on his own and I met him at Microsoft. He was telling me about all the things he saw on campus which I thought was me but had I been with him I don’t think I would have felt any different than I do now. It’s great that they have a treehouse but I can’t see that..

I’m a pretty positive guy so I’m not sure I wanted to end with that. I don’t have much else to say other than it is a great time to be alive with all this technology! I know this might be hard for you to understand but I don’t honestly sit around and think about having sight at all. Just when reflecting in a forum like this and hearing people talk about visiting Seattle and things they did I realized that there are definitely disadvantages that I’m seeing. I’m very content with being blind I honestly if given the chance probably would not take Vision if it were available to get. I would have to relearn everything I’ve talked about that and other post. I will give you guys one break quote from me. I think that we’re all custom to what we know. The grew up in the country sometimes the city could be scary. If you grew up in the city sometimes you might think the country scary. Ultimately how we grew up the things around us develop the character we become. I’ve been blind since a child and to think about having sight randomly is sort of scary. When I sit in my chair and listen to a baseball game for example I have no light perception my brain is completely focused in on that game. Or an app. Anyway if I could see I would constantly have light hitting my eye Michael May talks about that in his book crashing through when he was able to get some Vision back.

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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!

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

A week with my cane

A week has gone by and I am doing okay. I miss Frasier a lot. My walk with a cane takes about 24 minutes where it was 13 to 15 with him depending on the day. I find a lot more trees and bushes than I did with him. Our house has changed also with him gone. This weekend I think I hit a bit of depression realizing I’m without him.

He met the fedex driver Saturday and got a treat according to Lee’s text. He is a good boy and is doing wonderful with them. I think it is what he needed and that helps. I never worry about him, because he is with people that love him I just miss him.

It’s strange before when I used my cane no one talked to me, but now that I’m back to it I am attracting some interesting people. I will try and video some of the experiences along the way and put them up here. Last week I met a guy who says his great grandfather took the famous picture of Babe Ruth’s called shot. He talked about it the entire bus trip until I got off. It was a really cool story actually.

This blog amazes me how much visits it gets from around the world. Frazier’s retirement post was viewed a lot in India, South Korea, Japan, and the UK. Of course it does well in the United States also, but I could have never imagined it reaching all of those countries pretty regularly. Again thank you for reading.

I am now writing my blog in an app called Drafts 5 on the I-pad Pro. It’s really nice and allows me to have a few options that I don’t have in the Apple Notes app. I also from time to time say Alexa how do you spell then a word. Lol.

Abby tried her dress on this weekend and got some alterations done and it should be ready next weekend. It’s hard to believe the day will be here in about 2 months now. I’m getting excited, but nervous.

My Apple AirPods didn’t hold up so long. I have had them about a year, and I”be noticed a pretty bad battery drain. They used to last about 5 hours a day now they’re down to 3. Still not bad for the size of them, but it makes a work day a bit harder. On another electronic thing though one thing about losing Frasier that has been tough I miss talking with him on the way to work. I wouldn’t say much, but at times I may say it’s hot buddy, or not much traffic today. I now wear the Bose Soundware until I get to the bus stop and then put it in my bag. I like it, because it still keeps my ears open so I can listen for traffic. Also pausing it is quick and simple. Thank you Bose for this product I also use it a lot around the house when taking trash out or cleaning.

Retiring Frasier

Today was pretty rough and shitty as days go. The Seeing-Eye came out to help with an issue we were having at work with other dogs. After witnessing the dog issue it was recommended that I retire Frasier. The news hit me hard, because I felt maybe there could be a way to fix it. The heartache returned it felt like losing Robin all over. My throat got tight and I literally couldn’t;t talk for about 15 minutes after they left. Frasier has brought me some hard work and his barking was an issue for me, but I always felt I could overcome it. He healed a part of me that broke when Robin passed that I never thought would work again. I know most of you won’t get that at all, but these dogs are our partners.

Friday I was walking across a drive way and a car pulled out and Frasier backed me up. I couldn’t hear it because it was a hybrid. He saves my life Friday and Wednesday I’m retiring him and without a dog? Life is a tornado sometimes.

The crazy part is when talking to the Seeing-Eye if I have no one that can take him or if I can’t keep him basically I will know when he’s placed with someone but I no not much else. So again my buddy who did his job I know nothing on how he is doing or where he is. It’s not the Seeing-Eyes fault I guess I’m not trying to be a dick about all they’ve done it just is frustrating.

We’ve bonded I need a facebook or twitter connection to him just to get an update once and a while the not knowing where he is or how he is would kill me.

I left work early because I couldn’t do it, and came home and cried and held Frasier. I also ate a large pizza thanks I’ve been working hard on my figure. Frasier has become part of the family. Him and Bancroft play he follows me around like my shadow which I secretly love. He also now pushes the door open while I am in the bathroom to lay at my feet. God I don’t know why he does that. Lol but he does. I never thought time would be this short.

Thankfully when talking to my friends Jerry and Lee they offered to take him. They were looking for a dog they wanted a bit smaller than him but they’re excited to take him. This also works for me, because I can still visit. I want him to be there dog once I drop him off, but knowing he is in good hands has helped my mood and also the writing in this blog tonight. Tears have been lessened since I know where he will be, and that he’ll be with good people that I love. We went and visited them a few weekends ago and he loves the yard they have. He ran out for hours chasing his ball. Lee told me he will walk to there mailbox and back with them which is about a half mile I believe.

I did think about keeping him, but he is so young and if I get another dog it might be tough on him and also be a lot of dogs we have to care for. At this moment I will be collecting myself and try to figure out if I want to put myself through it again. It’s so hard I feel I failed him. I did everything they asked he just is a dog and didn’t respond to the conditioning. I called several times even asking for someone to come out and pretty much got ignored for some reason. Every time I got new advice on trying something, but maybe seeing what I was seeing would have helped things.

Monday when going to the bus it’s just me and the cane again. It’ll feel weird I’ve never walked this route with a cane so things Frasier took me around I’ll hit and curse and then move on. I know he wasn’t perfect none of us are really yet working dogs all most have to be. He was a great worker he picked up on things so quickly. For example in Louisville or most of America they never fix sidewalks so we have a lot of broken parts. Once I tripped on it, and Frasier never forgot it. Every time he would stop I could stick out my foot and there the broken sidewalk would be. I’d always thank him and scratch his chin. Even after a week off when I went to Germany when coming back I thought he’d forget nope like a champion he got it right. I’ve been thinking about all the things he’ll miss and we can’t do together and it just kills me. He was going to be in the wedding as my best man. Were not doing a wedding party to save us from all of the drama lol. Now in the blink of an eye it’s gone. I want him to enjoy his life and I know he will. I thank him for his short service, and thanks for being my dog and guide for the last several months. I know he’ll never understand how much that meant to me.

My trip to Germany!

It’s hard to believe 2 weeks ago I was on an airplane coming home. I want to talk about my trip to Germany and things I learned about blind people and the culture there.

I was excited to go, but also nervous since I was leaving Frasier. I think the longest I ever left Robin was 4 days, so this is now the new record. I put Frasier in his crate and caught a Lyft to the airport. The plane ride was long by the end my hips, legs and butt were all just like lets go. We got to Germany at 7:20 local time which is 6 hours ahead of Eastern time. Going through customs was easy they actually opened a new line for us so the blind people could get through quickly.

We caught a bus to the hotel and the stops were spoken in German and then English. The hotel was connected to the airport and employed 90 thousand people so it is a pretty huge building. Anyway I got checked in and started noticing differences from the states. I caught an elevator and there were no bells or audible information what floor you moved to. All week I just guessed or asked people. A few times I got off on the wrong floor. Once getting off the elevator the next surprise was nothing had Braille. In the elevator the buttons were arranged vertically so I could count to my floor, but there again no Braille. In fact the entire time other than the conference program I observed no Braille. Thankfully my room was two from the end, so I could find it easily.

One morning I woke up and ventured around on my own to see what kind of trouble I could get in to. I found the breakfast place and it was 30 euros for a hot plate. I said no and walked back to my room. When doing this I went to the ground floor and to get back to my room you had to use your key card on the elevator to get it to go to your floor. I stuck the key in backwards or upside down it just didn’t work. There was a guy who said I need a way to figure out what side was the top on the key card. Normally I put tape on it, but hadn’t yet. He actually chipped away some of the top layer so I could feel a little notch. I thought this was cool and something he didn’t have to do. He I think was a worker at the hotel but props to him for doing this. I met him in the elevator, but he used what he had to make something accessible. I just thought it was cool.

We went out and walked around Frankfurt and things I observed were the following. My god it was so quiet. We passed several outside diners and folks were just laying on the riverbanks and the noise was so minimum. In are cities noise is so crazy loud. The food I had in Germany was amazing. My favorite was curry worst. The beer was also really good.

I went to a dinner hosted by another company and it was decently loud. Thankfully I sat near a couple from Belgium, and we talked the entire evening. It was neat to learn about there company and family. She had a guide dog named Bootsy trained in Belgium. Hopefully one day Abby and I will go see them! We exchanged contact information and I really enjoyed the evening and getting to know them! I only saw 3 dogs though the entire time, and honestly the stress of everything I am glad I left Frasier. It was hard, but I knew he was safe with Abby.

On Saturday we had a free day, so we went to Heidelberg and viewed an old castle. It was really accessible to touch and explore. I will say this I thought a castle would be tall, but this was more compact and spread out. It was cool to have that much access to something so old.

One funny story in the town we stopped by a gummy bear store and Dave asked what can I get here you don’t have in the states? The lady replied we have gummy breasts and penis’s. It was just so unexpected.

When I got home Frasier jumped all over me. He didn’t want to leave my side. It’s funny I fell asleep during a Celtics game last night and Abby tried to take him out and he would walk away from her when she’d call him. He wanted to stay near me. By the way go Celtics please beat the Calves. Also the radio team for them is just amazing. Cedric and Shawn are the best.

I got Abby an Apple Watch this week. I am thankful for all that she does. She cooks and did a great job looking after Frasier and she puts me first. I wanted to show her how much it means to me. She spoils me all most every day and I had been slacking since I got the ring. Anyway thank you for everything that you do.

I really loved the opportunity this trip presented and I learned so much. I left Humana a little over a year ago and while that job served me well and I made several friends there I’m glad to be where I am. Technology is my passion you should see my room and my gadgets.

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.

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.

A new beginning

All most one week down here at the Seeing-Eye. It’s gone quickly I was matched with a German Shepard named Frasier. He is so handsome. My instructor Brian brought him in to me after two walks to determine my dog they’d match me with. He described him to me which was cool. I can’t remember all of the colors, but he feels amazing.

We’ve walked twice a day, and did some complicated routes. Feeling him push me around something or passing someone is awesome. I really feel how much Robin slowed down the last year or so. I’ve called him Robin a few times, but I feel now that I’m honoring her by doing this. She paved the way for me to feel confident enough and give me my sight back. Me doing this is saying hey you were successful, and I miss the partnership.

Boys have advantages one is I can hear him piss. Lol Robin was difficult to hear, and I learned how to tell, but he ain’t fooling anyone. A typical day is you wake up at 5:30 and take the dogs out to go to the bathroom. Then you feed and water them. Then you have breakfast at 7. You walk with them to the dining room. After breakfast you go out and walk a route usually about a mile to 2 miles long. Then you come back for lunch and then repeat the last route again. Then you have dinner and finally a lecture on different dog aspects. After that we have an 8 bathroom time, and then you can go to bed or die whatever comes first.

I’ve really enjoyed being here, and getting the time to bond with Frasier. We received there puppy profiles today, and his raiser was an Autistic boy I’ll leave his name out. A puppy profile is the only contact The Seeing-eye gives you to the family who razed him as a puppy. They do a lot of hard work like taking the dog outside to go to the bathroom and how to not poop or piss in the house. It said that the boy took him to Autism events, and Frasier was so gentle with the kids, and helped them open up. I just thought that was so cool that he helped one disability just being a puppy now he gets to go help me. He’s also gone to baseball games, so he shouldn’t have a hard time adapting to me lol.

I bought him some toys today he really enjoys them. Really at this point he is attached to me all the time unless were sleeping it’s to strengthen the bond between us. A lot of changes have happened for him he’s gone from being in a kennel going out once a day and being able to play and sleep to now having someone different in his life. He’s done so well I’ve not fallen once, but we still have time. He feels like Robin when we walk to an extent. This time I have it figured out I’m confident that having a dog makes me better as a traveler. When I got Robin I really wasn’t sure, and it was such a change from the cane.

Tonight I stretched my legs out and Frasier fell asleep lying inside them. I hated to move him. One thing that they’re trained with knowing that Robin hadn’t really learned is clicker training. For example if you need to find a light pole to push a button and you can condition them to find it. You can also do this with bus stops, maybe a chair in a restaurant, or etc. This will come in handy in a lot of situations for finding light polls in Louisville. One thing that is cute he does even though I don’t tell him is when I’m zipping up the crate he tries to stick his head and paw out. I always give him a hug and softly push him back. He is super sweet.

We have a great class of people. I’ve socialized some, but my main focus is on Frasier and sleeping. Lol I met someone that had the same eye cancer as me which was pretty neat until I met her I’ve never met else that had Retinal Blastoma.

Finally I’ll end this on another note completely different. When I got off the plane I met a guy and he drove me to the Seeing-eye. He said man I love the south, but with all the statue stuff going on it scares me. That stuff honestly is blown out of proportion, but regardless what sides you stand on don’t forget was all human and we shouldn’t let hate take us over so much. Live each day like it’s your last, and to the fullest. With the hurricane bearing down on Florida, and the one that hit Houston I hope everyone comes outs okay. My thoughts are with all.

The Seeing-Eye called

Last week the Seeing-Eye called me and told me that they had a dog for me and that I could come to class. I’m so excited. I wasn’t sure if I was ready until last weekend where Abby and I went out walking. We had gone to some baseball games where I missed having a dog, but I miss how a dog can keep you walking in a straight line. Something I cannot do with my cane, and I miss it. I’ve been nervous a bit honestly thinking about its name, what it will feel like, and just that investment and bond we will share.

I was asked to be in a wedding a few months ago which I excepted, because I really enjoyed the groom and bride. We hung out with them a lot. They’re Abby’s neighbors, so I enjoyed how easy it was to see them and such. I advised the groom that I might be getting a dog, and he was happy. However, on Sunday he responded with an awful text message. I’ve never received anything quite like it. At first it shocked me, then it angered me, and finally I just wanted to be done with it all. I will paste in the message at the bottom of this, but I want to say something first.

He states getting a dog is a trivial thing and a privilege. Now this is someone who can see mind you. Oh really a privilege? Yes, sir it was a privilege to have cancer and lose my eyes. It was a privilege to never know what the sun looks like, stars, or anything else for that matter. It’s a privilege to wait for the bus and be soaking wet while all of the rest of the world passes you in a car with their windows up and heat on. It’s a privilege to be able to not walk a straight line or fumble for the walk button, because sighted people decide where the best place is for the polls for the walk signs. It’s a privilege not to be able to see the traffic sign that says walk. Don’t you ever tell me being blind or getting a dog is a privilege, because that’s a world you know nothing about. I understand this is the most important day in your life, and until you sent me this I thought we were close, but you also have to understand things happen. This is not like I am blowing off your wedding to go see a movie. I am going out to NJ for 2 weeks without pay, and using up all of my vacation time to get a Seeing-Eye dog not just a dog. Guide dogs provide a tool for me that make me feel more independent, and confident. Yes, I can get around with my cane, but it isn’t as easy as having a dog. Have you had to cross Shelbyville road or West port road blindfolded with a cane? You should try it since it’s such a privilege, and let me know how it goes if you live. Blind people advised me I should educate you, but the fact of the matter is if you don’t understand Robin was more than a dog to me then you’ll never understand. I am not angry for you calling them animals, but I did think of Robin and it made me so angry that you took that tone. I will be at your wedding, because I made a commitment, and it will work out with the Eye, but it’s to be a bigger person than you, and then I’m done with the friendship. The next time you want to go to dinner and Abby and I bring are dogs I’ll think of how you spoke about them, and I just can’t be cool with you.

Your iMessage, Your iMessage, Ryan Hey Joe. In light of the revelation that you are considering skipping standing up with me at the wedding, I've done a lot of thinking. Our wedding is a very big deal to us. We were very careful who we chose to be in the wedding. We wanted people who exemplified the love and trust that makes us the happiest. Asking someone to stand up at their wedding is considered an honor. When you committed to this months ago, I thought you were completely on board with fulfilling your commitment. I am completely disappointed that you are so quick to turn your back on this commitment. Not only are you turning your back, but you are doing it for a reason that is trivial. Getting a dog is not an emergency. Getting a dog is a luxury. The selfishness of pulling yourself away from a commitment that holds so much meaning let's me know that you didn't hold this commitment in the same high level of honor that I did when I asked you to stand with me. I thought the friendship that we had developed warranted including you. Clearly I was wrong. I tried to ease the process of standing with us by lifting the burden of having to pay for the clothes. This luxury is ALWAYS gladfully paid by groomsmen. I cannot recall a single wedding where the groomsmen had their clothes paid for. Even this is not enough. I am deeply hurt that you're even considering dumping your commitment for an animal. I won't wait until Friday Link Link Link to hear what your decision will be. I won't wait until Friday Link Link Link to see if I play second fiddle to a fucking dog. You have until 7 PM tonight Link to tell me whether you will be in the wedding or not. If you choose not to respond then I will assume you will choose the dog. If you choose the dog be prepared to pay in full the amount of your suit, tie, shoes, socks and belt. The cost will be $455. You will need to pay this by the end of the week. Being that you've already had the suit altered, you've wasted the gift card. I need you to understand, I'm not angry, I'm just crushed that something as ignorant as a dog would be the reason we even have to have this conversation. Let me know by 7 PM Link Link Link what you are going to do., 10:35 AM Link Link Actions available, 11:46 AM Link Swipe up or down to select a custom action, then double tap to activate., 8:11 PM Swipe up or down to select a custom action, then double tap to activate.