IN CASE OF BREAKAGE: A Needed Accessory for My Mantis

First, I shall note that I’m not getting anything for promoting this website because… I’m not that big of a deal. Yet! Ha ha. I’m just writing about it because the product I acquired is something I’ve been needing for a long time and I figure that someone else may need or just want it too.

I listen to a biweekly podcast called Mystic Access. It’s run by a blind couple who also oversees a company that makes tutorials on blindness technology products. On their show, they do demonstrations of some of these products, along with many mainstream solutions, and talk about some of the challenges and opportunities that come with living as blind individuals.

As I listened a couple weeks ago, I heard them mention having acquired a case for the Mantis Q40 from a company called Turtleback Low Vision. As an assistive technology training specialist, I have to carry my Mantis up and down my hallway at work. To this point I had been holding it against my body in its default case, which is little more than a plastic shell affixed to the back, and hoping not to drop it. I also like to take it with me on impromptu car rides and would prefer not to have to lug my backpack on these often short journeys. So intrigued, I took a look.

This case does cost a pretty penny, $145 worth of them in fact. But as you may remember in my post about the NLS display, I dropped the Mantis in my office, broke it, and had to shell out a cool grand to have it repaired. So my calculation is that having a case that adequately protects the unit and allows me to move around easily with it was worth the investment.

And thus far it definitely has been. I ordered the case on a Wednesday and was told via the auto-generated email that it would arrive the following Wednesday. It actually got there by that week’s Saturday, only 3 days later. It’s a sturdy-looking leather case with a rubberized bottom that keeps it from shifting when on a table or even on my lap. But what makes me happiest is there is a good-sized zipper pocket on top of the case into which I can fit my iPhone and even my hearing aid batteries. So I no longer need to take the backpack everywhere I go to make sure I have my most critical items. I only wish the USB port area were a little more enclosed, as I worry that in a significant downpour the ports might be in danger. But this isn’t a really big deal as I could just bring along a waterproof bag in the hopefully rare cases I find myself in soakers.

And finally, I like the magnetic clips that hold the case shut. Older cases often used Velcro, which wears down rather quickly. With the magnetic option, this isn’t a worry. I would say overall that I have been very happy with this purchase.

#GAAD: On CAPTCHA

Today, May 16, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Its purpose is to increase awareness of and understanding around why sites and components of sites need to be accessible. Of course complete accessibility refers to much more, ensuring that all areas of life are available to persons with disabilities. But I think this day has a primary focus of digital and web accessibility. In that spirit, I want to show what can happen when the various accessibility issues have not fully been addressed.

I made a post way back in 2006 in Live Journal, (remember that? Almost 20 years ago now!) In this post, I railed against CAPTCHA, which stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (Taken from This site.) First, that’s a mouthful. And second, it has been the vain of my existence since its inception. In those days, those of us who were totally blind were pretty much left out of the experience entirely. This meant that, for example, we could often not sign into websites that had put CAPTCHA in place, because we couldn’t “type the characters you see on the screen.”

Eventually, and I’m sure with a lot of elbow grease and advocacy, web developers began to understand that there were a significant number of individuals who were being barred from accessing their products because of this spam-fighting tool. So they answered the call by creating audio CAPTCHA, where words or numbers are spoken aloud, often with some kind of noise in the background to make it harder for computers to pick up what is being said. The voice is also usually not completely clear. And this works for a lot of totally blind people, meaning they are able to “pass the test” and get done whatever it is they are trying to accomplish.

The problem? What happens if you have little or no hearing and partial or total blindness. I am totally blind and significantly hard of hearing, so even the clearest spoken language can be hard for me to follow. If they deliberately make it hard to understand what is being said, I will be lucky to get, say, two of the five words they say correct.

I had this happen just yesterday. While trying to complete a recovery of my Microsoft Outlook account (I locked myself out because I couldn’t remember the password, another issue about which I could write an entire entry,) I encountered one of these lovely CAPTCHA. I switched from visual to audio and must have tried eight different sets of words before I gave up in frustration. I’ll have to get that sorted eventually, but at least I’m still receiving email to my account. I assume it will be lost if for some reason I log out of my Outlook.

Ovviously, this can cause much bigger issues if one cannot access a site that uses either visual or audio CAPTCHA, and as far as I know deafblind individuals don’t really have a way to get past it without sighted assistance. I did try to have some of the various AI solutions locate and read the characters on the screen, but I don’t think they are easy enough to discern.

I guess I’m wondering why we even use these methods, in the age of two-factor authentication. Maybe a code could be texted to a user’s phone? I know this would not be a complete solution as some folks do not have phones that can read text, but it would allow many more to have easy access.

Alternatively, I’ve seen some sites that ask relatively easy math questions for the person to solve to prove their humanity. Whatever the case, I hope people continue to be aware of this issue and the very real stumbling block it puts in some people’s path.

SHIFTING SANDS:My Much-needed Trip to Myrtle Beach Part 3

Friday, May 3. I awake a little after 8 AM, because I love listening to a local radio morning show as this is one of the best ways to get a feel for the area. I can kind of simulate this on my phone with apps like OoTunes, although it’s not quite the same given that I just go in and select the city I want and find a station. And it can be hard to tell if the station is actually in Myrtle Beach and not, say, Wilmington North Carolina. Ah, sometimes I miss my good ol’ analog walkman. I suppose I need to poke around and see if I can find something that simulates that closely enough.

Anyhow, I find a station, Mix 97, that I think is local to Myrtle Beach. The only thing they really talking about was the latest celebrity gossip, but this probably stems from the fact that I didn’t find it till nearly 9. The earlier you catch the show, the better.

We head out of our hotel room just after 10 to one of our Myrtle Beach favorites, Hot Stacks. It’s an area chain of breakfast restaurants that, as far as I can tell, only operate in Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach. On this trip, I go with the sausage omelet and plain grits, eschewing something they have called Trash Grits. I would get these grits on Saturday, and they were actually much better than the plain grits as they had sausage gravy and flecks of some kind of meat in them. I joke with my wife that if they’d shredded napkins and straw wrappers into the grits, we the customers couldn’t really be surprised. We have that weird sense of humor. Hot Stacks also has delicious coffee, nearly on par with that found at Waffle House.

After eating, I get to explore again with my GPS apps as my wife heads over to the Carolina Pottery to check out some arts supplies. She’s made quite a business making rag wreaths, wooden signs and the like in particular and selling them via Etsy and Her website. If you’re into that sort of thing, check it out. At this location, she finds some hard-to-locate ribbons.

After a short jaunt back to the room to get ready, we head down to the beach with my cousin and his wife for the best part of the trip. The sun is dealt out in just the right measure, with clouds thrown in so we don’t become too toasty. My cousin and I sit on the shore and chat about our similar fields of employment. He is also an assistive technology training instructor, as many of us blind folks fortunate enough to have good jobs are. I just hope our work is starting to give people the skills to open more doors, though the larger change must happen at a societal level, as still too many think non-working eyes means incapable of work.

Anyhow, our wives frolic in the water as the tides roll in. Mine says she is nearly knocked down by a big wave and decides to migrate inland. I join her briefly in the surprisingly warm surf, heard the news say it’s unusually warm which portends a bad hurricane season. Let us hope not.

We wrap up our time waterside in a deliciously warm hot tub. Only I, genius that I am, neglect to take off my shirt as I enter the water. This made for a fairly cold, drippy walk back to the room. Y’all, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.

Beach time is chill time, so we sprawl on the couch a bit while watching the news before heading out for supper. We join our other couple for dinner, tonight at Giant Crab. They mainly have a buffet, which is kinda pricey at $48 a plate. But it is also pretty good. I have two crab cakes, two servings of mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and shrimp. As we eat, we all allow some of our unique marital inside language and jokes to come out. This is one of the joys of being with someone for a long time, the unusual way we come to understand the world and create our own world.

And finally, we head to my cousin’s room on the 16th floor, where we spend a little more time on their balcony and then inside of their much nicer suite. The balcony is up so high that the ocean is a little more muffled. And that cool breeze starts to get to me after a while, because yup, no long-sleeved shirt. But overall, the night and my trip were just the vacation I needed. They help to reset my perspective as I continue to try and help people broaden theirs.

SHIFTING SANDS: My Much-needed Trip to Myrtle Beach Part 2

Isn’t it funny how much easier it to wake up wen one is planning to travel? Heck, I also find it hard to sleep, mostly because I am and will likely always be a big kid.

After Wednesday’s tire craziness, we had decided we would wake at 10 AM. I am up by 8. I make my way to my mancave, taking care to grab my hearing aid kit (if I forget it I could have a very long trip indeed as it dries out wax and other moisture) and start packing. I try to remember to get a little of everything, jeans, shors, button-down shirts. But the one thing I don’t get and should have is a long-sleeved shirt. Hey, I can’t remember everything.

Before hitting the road, we make a stop at that venerable Southern institution Bojangle’s. The sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit they give me is actually tender and well cooked, and I’ll admit that this can be hit or miss as sometimes they’re hard and not very fresh tasting. But my favorite, the seasoned fries, really hit the spot. I settle in and prepare for the roughly three hour trip.

A big reason I love travel is the ability to discover. I have three GPS apps, and they all give me slightly different information as we zip through small North Carolina towns. Good ol’ Ariadne, in addition to being the one that produces maps I can tour with my fingers, tells me the exact street addresses and even some of the neighborhoods, if they are labeled. BlindSquare makes it easy to see GPS coordinates and nearby restaurants. And the Goodmaps Explore app displays real-time information on changing points of interest as we move, to a degree that BlindSquare does not. It can almost be too much information, but it is also fascinating to really get a look at what we’re passing.

Not that we passed too much as we wound down I-40 and Johnston County, to I-95 and Cumberland and Robeson Counties. Just over the South Carolina line, after passing through a town called Taybor City (Columbus County) on the NC border, we kind of lose the direct, interstate route and are forced to navigate a series of backroads until we finally arrive at Myrtle Beach proper, in Hory County.

We arrive at the Sea Watch resort at nearly 1:30, having made good time. We enter the North Tower lobby and are jostled about by excited passersby as they to get ready to enjoy their journey. Seasoned traveler that I am, I have my credit and ID cards out and on the counter practically before the person checking us in asks for them. We are given room 712 in the South tower, which in itself is 16 stories.

I remember during our last trip out of North Carolina prior to this one, way back in January of 2020 (because of Covid) we walked through an endless hall in a Tampa boutique hotel called West Wing and had a ta-da experience upon entering an amazing, large room. This room, while fairly large, was… let’s just say a lot less ta-da-ish. My wife said it still appeared stuck in the 90s, with a dirty landline phone (ever seen one of those?) rusty hangers in the closet, and spaghetti sauce droppings in the kitchenette. The Sea Watch is really a collection of condos, or rooms that different people owned, so you get a lot of variability from property to property. But then as someone on my Facebook said “you ain’t going there for the room.” True enough, though of course one still likes to have a place that makes one feel safe and comfortable.

Anyhow, we shuck our “road clothes” and don waterwear, me putting on a pair of shorts for the first time this season. But we don’t remain oceanside too long, because even with our nice new beach chairs, snacks, and cold water, the heat soon wins. Well I am not really too hot, mostly because I’m never hot. But I knew my wife had to be getting toasty with the sun remaining out, and I know that even if I’m not feeling hot I still have to be careful of sunburn and heatstroke.

Our evening wraps up with what is now a regular pilgrimage to Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, this time joined by my cousin and his wife. A lot of fellowship is had, with conversation having been improved by the kind hostess who saw to it that we were seated in our own section to accommodate my cousin’s and my hearing difficulties. While we chat, I scarf down some delicious meatloaf, the best fried okra I’ve ever tasted, and macaroni and cheese that was pretty decent (I’m a harsh macaroni critic). Oh, and the biscuits that arrive before the family-style entrees get there can nearly fill you by themselves, so eat with care. I don’t even need dessert after this meal.

And that makes up my Thursday. It is very much the kind of day I need, as I fully emerge from Winter’s lingering effects. And there is more where that comes from on Friday.

SHIFTING SANDS: My Much-needed Trip to Myrtle Beach Part 1

We’d planned this vacation just after Christmas, as my mom, wife, my cousin, his wife, and I sat in our humble home on the southeast Raleigh. Full off of some delicious eating at Logans, a chain steakhouse, we enjoyed relative warmth inside, and contemplated where outside warmth might be had.

The idea was to take my always-hard-working mom down to the beach, as she doesn’t do a whole lot of traveling. We decided the first weekend of May, this weekend, would be a good one, as it is typically warm but the beach is not yet crowded. My cousin and his wife have a timeshare, so they booked in their property of choice, the Sea Watch Resort. I then booked a room for me and my wife in that same hotel. And I felt happier already, because having this trip to look forward to would make staying on the work grind easier. It’s always better when you feel you’re working toward something, right?

So time passed, and a week or so out my mom said she would be unable to make it due to something having come up. Also we had initially scheduled to remain out there from Thursday to Sunday, but my wife asked that I move our checkout day to Saturday so she could get us back in time to relax a little before returning to her teaching duties. This was all fine and good, and I was just happy we would get to go in some capacity.

well… sort of. Our story begins, inauspiciously, on Wednesday night with a nail. The first thing we needed to do was get the dog to my sister-in-law’s house so she could be looked after. The nice thing about our tiny Pomeranian, and I know I’ve written at least one entry about her but am assuming you won’t feel like trying to find it, is that she is easily taken care of. She only needs food and pee pads and she’s good to go, similar to a cat.

So we made the 30-minute ride across Wake County to drop our furry child off, chattering and feeling increasingly excited about the days of sun-splashed sprawling that awaited. Went inside and chatted, as the dog in residence, a biggermix of Pomeranian and some other breed, greeted our arrival. He’s older, but still hanging in there. Fortunately for us, we’d only stayed inside for about 20 minutes.

as I slid into the front seat and buckled in, my wife said she was hungry and we began the usual dance of trying to figure out where to get dinner. As she started the motor however, we heard the ominous beep that means the car is telling us something. Turns out the PSI in the back right tire was dropping fast. The other three held steady at 37, while that one had already plummeted to 25. Being the glass-half-empty person I am (I know I know, I’m really trying to work on that mentality) I feared the trip was gonna be swallowed before we even hit the highway. And worse, we were already inside of the 24-hours one has prior to arrival that the hotel reservation could be canceled. So I’d also be eating $200+. Great!

Off we went, slowly losing speed along the way as the pressure continued to drop. She swung by her dealership, already closed as it was 6:30. So she plugged in (ha, ha) a query for places to fix tires, and came across a Pep Boys that would stay open till just 8. Happily it was only a little over three miles away, so we practically limped over there as the pressure was down to 21 PSI.

“Can you help,” she asked the woman as we got there.

“We’ll take a look,” she replied (there are four cars ahead of you.”

So I collected my things and followed her inside, where the temperature was set to frigid and the air smelled so heavily of rubber that my head immediately hurt. I tried to read, found it hard to concentrate as we contemplated the possilibity that we’d be parting with a big chunk of change for new tires or significant repairs. 7 became 7:30 became 8:00, and the place emptied out. Finally, mercifully, they got to our ride. As luck would have it, we were the last customers to be seen, well after 8 as we had arrived early enough. They told us, a little before 9, that she had inded run over a rogue nail and the tire only required a patch. $25 and lot of relief, and we were good to go again! And with that, your friendly neighborhood pesimist learned a lesson again in how things can indeed work out in the end. More, hopefully, on the actual trip tomorrow. Or Monday? Sometime within the week!

O the Days of Yore

Describe a phase in life that was difficult to say goodbye to.

So I’m writing in here again, mainly because I’m still paying for this thing and can’t bring myself to give it up after all these years of hard work. I’m going to use these writing prompts to try and get back off the pad (I’m reading a book about shuttle launches, hence that metaphor) and get the writing flowing again.

With that noted, I’m to write about a phase of life I found hard to let go of. Truth is, I still find it hard to let go of.

1997. I stepped from my mom’s car into the steamy Charlotte afternoon, stomach fluttering, as I readied to begin my biggest adventure yet. Freshmen year of college at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. And I may have written about this elsewhere in my blog, but hey I’m old and I ain’t going back to check.

Anyhow, my mom and I made a few runs up to my room to get all of my stuff installed. I briefly met my room mate (probably the part to which I least looked forward, and rightfully so) then we headed out to visit my sister in her apartment. She was also starting her attendance at that university, though unlike me this was not her first year in college overall.

When we returned to my dorm, my mom gave me a hug before parting and placed me on the wall. “Do you know how to get back to your building,” she asked.

“Yes,” I answered timidly. There was no way I knew how to get back over there yet, as I hadn’t undergone the grueling orientation and mobility (O&M) training I as a blind student would have to endure to get used to the campus. But I was too terrified to admit otherwise.

College, the five and a half of years I spent there, were far from perfect. I had some periods where depression became so intense that I was urged to seek counseling. I also didn’t do so well in some courses not because of my inability to understand the work, but rather an unwillingness to seek the resources I needed.

But college was fun. It seemed I rarely had to study to get good grades. I also made friends easily, and if I hadn’t been as shy as I was I would have definitely gotten into even more things. (Granted it’s probably good I didn’t get into some of those things, but I’m just sayin’.)

People told me over and over again that those days were not reality, and now that I’m an adult I can see that. Reality is for me, as for most of us, waking at 5 AM.M. To slog off to a long workday to bring home the bacon, as they say. As I do that, I’m glad I have those years to reflect on and give me many good memories. I also still have especially the music I listened to in those days, as it is so easy to just live in the ‘90s using SiriusXM and Apple Music. There’ll likely never be such carefree days again.

Freeing Refreshable Braille for More Access

Many in this era worry that the advent of digital audio technology will mean the end of braille as we know it. And there is already some truth to this, as very few totally blind people know or read braille as it is. But and I’ve seen this frequently in my training, those who depend heavily on audio to consume written content often are less able to spell correctly, which may well affect their ability to gain employment. Given the degree to which the cards are already stacked against us when it comes to getting jobs even without this challenge, we need to gain every advantage we can in any area.
These days, the answer to being more able to read materials in braille without having to produce the paper and take up the space this medium requires is to use a refreshable braille display. I’ve had a few of these devices, from the Braille Lite I got way back in the late 90s during my college career to the Brailliant BI 40 received from the I Can Connect program for deafblind individuals. And in 2020, I of course got the Mantis Q40 display I’ve written about a few times in this journal. And each of those devices opened up more of the written word in ways I could not have imagined.
The problem with these displays is and has been their expense. Most of us blind folks can hardly afford $2, 3, or $4,000 to get even a low-end display. Happily though, at least in the U.S, the National Library Service for the Blind (NLS) is making refreshable braille available for any eligible blind individuals. You have to be enrolled in the library for services, as I am, and call your regional library to request one.
There are two models of NLS Ereaders, as they are known: one provided through Humanware and another through Zoomax. I think you get the brand of reader that your library has available, so I received the Zoomax machine.
These models contain 20 braille cells, which is as much space as I had on my Braille Lite but only half the 40 cells on my other units. Reading with 20 cells is certainly doable, but it requires a lot more pressing of the panning buttons to advance through a single braille line. I’ve found though that as I practice I’m already getting better at it. My Mantis is currently on the fritz and I don’t know when or if I’ll ever see it again, so having this option so quickly available is vital to me being able to continue my work. I also like that it has a handy carrying case with magnetic snaps that keep it closed, which is kinda cool!
This reader is primarily designed to download and read NLS BARD books. However, it can connect via Bluetooth to your smartphone, and USB to the PC. It’s got an SD Card reader, and USB C port for the PC and a USB A port for a flash drive. I love that such a small unit contains so many ports.
It’s a pretty good device on the whole. The only issue I really notice, and this may be only in my unit, is that the battery gauge is unreliable. It says I have 50% charge, then 77%, then 19%, then 54%, so I can’t really tell how much juice it actually has. This is not a big deal though, as I’m usually close enough to a charging port at all times. I even have a portable battery I can plug in.
I am happy such a program exists. If you would like to take advantage of it, again just call your regional library and ask if they have an NLS Ereader. There was a slow roll-out, but they were at least hoping that all states would have units by the end of 2023. And happy reading!

2024 Arrives: On Work and Books

Hello to 2024! I know, I was pretty much nonexistent in this blog last year as I adjusted to full-time work on the computer. I probably said the same thin in my prior entry, but it’s been so long since I wrote that that I can no longer recall.
Anyway, I thought I’d quickly catch whomever still reads this thing up on my life’s goings on. And well as much as I’m about to have to shell out to keep this site active, I figured it was high time to start generating content.
Work is work. I pray, and feel like, I’ve really settled into this role now. I’ve chugged away at teaching JAWS in various formulations and based on the folks with whom I’m working. Every day is an important lesson in that regard. And of course every trainer is only as good as the learning they take on. So to that end, I continue to obtain certifications. I just got my NVDA screen-reader certification last week. I’m happy for that, but still have much to learn about that program. It’s free though, so could be useful for those who might not be able to swing JAWS. And that studying broadened my knowledge to boot. This work takes a lot of thinking at times, but it can also be quite rewarding.
And now I’ll document my reading. Because of course I’ve been doing more reading than writing, which I’d like to start to change someday but I ain’t making promises no more y’all. This year, thanks to my learning how to use Excel as part of the training I can now deliver, I created a handy spreadsheet to help keep track of the books I read, in addition to adding them to the Goodreads app so I could see what others have read as well. In total, I completed 79 books. Only 13 of them were nonfiction, I listened to 43 audiobooks and read 33 in braille. I assigned a 5-star rating to 30 of my books and gave only 3 of them 3 stars. I just didn’t finish nooks I would likely have rated lower, because there is not enough time to read the ones I want to read, let alone slogging through something I’m just not into. I’ll put my 5-star reads at the end, if you’re curious.
And that’s what I’ve had going on for the last little while. I’m curious to see how 2024 unfolds. 2023 was probably the best year of my adult life, something I’ve been saying since 2015, with the exception of course of the Covid-warped years of 2020 and 2021. So hopefully the up and up continues.
Five-Star Reads
1. Invisible Child, Andrea Elliot
2. Thank You for Listening, Julia Wheelan
3. Memphis, Tara Stringfellow
4. Hell Bent, Leigh Bardugo
5. The Maid, Nita Prose
6. The Calculating Star, Mary Robinette Kowal
7. The Fated Sky, Mary Robinette Kowal
8. The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal
9. Corrections in Ink, Keri Blakinger
10. Loyalty, Lisa Scottoline
11. Woman On Fire, Lisa Barr
12. City of Refuge, Tom Piazza
13. The German Wife, Kelly Rimmer
14. My Love Story, Tina Turner
15. Drowning, T.J. Newman
16. African Town, Irene Latham
17. The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, Tom Hanks
18. The Apollo Murders, Chris Hadfield
19. Remarkably Bright Creatures, Shelby Van Pelt
20. Out of the Corner, Jennifer Grey
21. The Last Thing He Told Me, Laura Dave
22. River Sing Me Home, Eleanor Shearer
23. The Catch Me If You Can, Jessica Nabongo
24. Things We Lost to the Water, Eric Nguyen
25. Cabin Fever, Michael Smith
26. Happiness Falls, Angie Kim
27. The Country of the Blind, Andrew Leland
28. Three Words for Goodbye, Hazel Gaynor
29. None of This is True, Lisa Jewel
30. Borderless, Jennifer De Leon

Time of My Life

I happen to be reading Out of the Corner, a memoir by Jennifer Grey. She’s the one who played Baby in Dirty Dancing, which came out nearly 40 years ago now and which my sisters watched for the equivalent of 2 months of their lives. I’ll admit to enjoying listening to that while stretching out on the floor during those long, languid summer days of youth. Anyway, that’s where the song in my subject line originated, and it’s an apt descriptor of this, the 44th year of my life. It really has been a “time.”
First, I haven’t written in this thing in ages. I guess I’ve just not felt as much up to it, given that the day job is now working on the computer all day. But I’m beginning to find my way back to writing, one ponderous word at a time. I’m actually working on another book (I know, I haven’t even finished the first, but this idea that my wife helped me germinate I too good to let pass). And, now I’m getting at least one day of remote work every week, on Tuesdays. And it’s great, now that I have a perfect home office with a nice high desk, a big comfortable swivel chair, and even a sleeper sofa. I’m living the life, truly.
As far as the actual work goes or has gone, it’s been good and is getting better. At this time last year, just a day prior to my birthday, I was getting wound up for an interview that I knew would set me onto a new career path. Since I have
• Yes, gotten off to a bumpy start: those three or four months of initiation made me grow in ways I couldn’t imagine and I just thank God I survived it and was willing to listen to people as they tried to help
• Made it to February, where I began to round the corner (trust me blind folks, it’s really important to learn proper document formatting in order to make it in today’s workplace)
• Did my first heavy-duty training starting in April with folks wishing to go into Customer Service
• Launched a JAWS class at the beginning of last month, where I had to learn to take a breath and give people time to process information and ask questions
• Am now preparing to do several levels of JAWS, iOS, and other computer instruction while working with a partner who’s going to do the career development/resume/interview kinds of things
So yeah, certainly from a work standpoint this is by far the most fun I’ve ever had. As I turn 44 tomorrow I find myself in deep introspection, with much to be thankful for and in anticipation of twists and turns I cannot see yet (blind joke, too easy). Maybe I’ll be around these parts more with the good stuff as it unfolds, but I just felt inspired tonight.

The New House, Our New Home: Moving In Drama

Now that we actually own the place, I am changing the name of this series. It will continue in ways I can not now foresee.
So we have arrived in the spot, having, basically, completed our move in yesterday. Well that’s a long story, parts of which I will tell, but at this moment I’m enjoying hearing SiriusXM piped from my windowsill as I type in the room I dub my Man Cave 2.0. I like the acoustics in this room better than my other.
I took yesterday off work so that I could help my wife load some materials as we prepared to make the trek from our apartment to the house. It’s about a 35-minute journey, and we were up and at ‘em by 6:30 A.M. So after slinging a couple of large trash bags full of clothes in the back, we made our way along i-40 in a persistent rain while wolfing down Bojangles biscuits and their delicious seasoned fries! Well at least I had seasoned fries.
We got to the house and made our way inside, and I began to come to terms with the fact that this was now my new residence. I went into our bedroom and crashed on the surprisingly sturdy air mattress we had inflated in lieu of our king-sized bed which was due to arrive later that day. They sure don’t make air beds the way they used to, and now they can really support your entire body quite well.
Anyhow, I wiled the day away listening to men’s college basketball conference tournaments and interesting podcasts. My wife had the movers scheduled to begin collecting our furniture from the old place at around 2:30. They arrived, and from what I gather things were bumpy from the start. First, they only sent two individuals when really there should have been three. And one of them had only completed two other moves, and well in the end he decided, rather unprofessionally, that this would be his last. So upset was he by the difficulty of the job and his inability to work with the other guy that later that night he just walked off of the job saying he’d quit.
But before we got to the pinnacle of that craziness, things just kept dragging along. My wife eventually told me I’d need to find my own food, as it was taking far longer than planned for them to complete operations there. So I called up one of the delivery services and found a delicious restaurant in my new area of town called Demario’s, from which I ordered 6 (SIX!) “drummettes,” which are small chicken drumsticks, green beans, and mac and cheese. The food was fantastic, if a little heavy on the pepper and salt (the green beans had a kick to them and the mac and cheese dried my mouth a bit). But I will definitely eat there again. I’m always pleased when I find a spot from which I can get a real dinner plate on days when I want something fast.
So the movers finally arrived at our abode somewhere around 8 P.M. They continued to snipe at one another and got very little done. The individual who did at least try was forced to throw in the towel after being abandoned by his partner. So he decided he would go ahead and help put our bed together as we’d need something to sleep on, and they’d take most of the rest of our furniture to a secure storage facility and bring it back to our home today to be offloaded.
This morning, three men showed up at around 8, even though they weren’t due to get here till about 10. They finished the job with far less drama, even as I shivered in the cold that came from the constantly open door and all of the windows also being open in deference to the fact that they were working and would likely get warm. It was a small sacrifice though to finally have this place mostly up and running. Now some things just need to be unboxed, and as usual when one moves we just have to relocate all that may have potentially been lost. But we’re here and ready for this new start. I have transportation set up to take me to work via the GoTriangle Access paratransit service on Monday, and we’ll just see how that goes. If anything interesting happens therein, you can bet I will write about it.