Anatomy of an Audio-Described Blind Man’s Binge

I’ll bet you’ve done it before. Bounced onto your couch or recliner, bowl of popcorn or snack of choice in lap, you tap your smartphone or use another tv-connected device to access a series you’ve desired to watch. Then you allow yourself to sink in, emerging occasionally for bathroom breaks and the like.

I have never really been inclined to participate in such activity, given the difficulty involved in keeping track of programming and even the challenge of making a choice on which to watch.

For me anyway, this has begun to change with the introduction of Apple TV+. They seem to have a relatively small amount of content, but I’ve found myself liking nearly all that is available via the app so far.

Naturally, I signed up to check out the series “SEE,” which takes place in a society where blindness prevails and sight is seen as a curse. I confess though that I have not been as able to get into this series, personal preference, but I highly recommend that you watch for yourself as you may like it, and especially if you’re into stuff like Game of Thrones. I do think it’s cool that this sort of programming is getting into the mainstream while giving actors with blindness or low vision a chance to perform on-screen.

I have, however, enjoyed other programming therein. Some of my favorites are The Morning Show, which examines the world of broadcast journalism and how it has been effected by the Me Too movement, and Servant, a show I admittedly don’t entirely understand but enjoy for its strangeness.

But my favorite thus far is For All Mankind, which imagines that the Soviets have beaten the United States to the Moon, thus causing the Space race to continue. Apollo 11 does make it there, sort of, but the nation’s mood continues to spiral down as the Soviets one-up NASA out as far as I have seen in the series, which is episode 4. The story arc is pretty good, but at points they try to address so many elements at once that it becomes a bit clustered. But as a Space junkie I am intrigued by the concept. They certainly assume a level of knowledge by the viewer, so I suspect that this, as with other programs, will have a subset of really interested individuals.

Without question, I would not be able to get into any of these shows if not for audio description, the essence of which I have chronicled in a prior entry. I think we really have rounded that bin where mass media companies are starting to understand the importance of bringing in those with blindness, even while confessing that initially I thought that activism herein would largely be fruitless. I applaud those who charged ahead anyway, and thank them as I now benefit from such progress. I also think that the mixing of audio-described tracks has vastly improved, so that they no longer have to aggressively turn down the movie’s sound in order to convey what is happening. This makes it immensely more enjoyable. So here’s to the (described) future, and continuing to suck us in to these online networks as with the rest of the population.

Just What The Doctor Ordered

I have meant to write this post for the longest time, but life and things keep getting in the way. And I don’t really expect that to change at the holidays, but I really need to go ahead and get this said.

“Just because you don’t know, doesn’t mean it’s not happening”.

This quote brought to you by my wise cousin, and while it can of course cover a vast array of life issues, he and I were specifically referring to medical maladies.

That’s right, we (putting myself firmly in this statement) need to do more about fear of confronting possible issues with our bodies, those that we can see through clear changes and those that might need to be diagnosed by a specialist. Remember when I last wrote about acquiring my first real primary care physician? As the whole blood pressure saga, for which a solution is still being sought, began? Well as I prepared to transition into marriage in mid 2017, I was forced to relocate to Charlotte. This, along with the fact that my awesome doctor, really a resident, was about to leave the practice with which I was associated anyway, caused me to lose contact with her.

Long story kind of short, I didn’t bother re-establishing another physician until my employer, or more specifically its insurer, forced me to do so at threat of rising premiums. I visited this new doctor in December, almost to the date of this posting, and found him to be relatively friendly but…

Now let me preface this by noting that most medical professionals, even those who do not work out for me individually, are doing the best they know how in their field. I know that every day they make difficult, life-changing decisions on the fly, and I give them all the respect for that. But it must be said that some are, shall we say better at really listening to the patient? than others. Bedside manner, they call it. When this does not happen, it can compound the fear and nervousness one already feels when dealing with changes that may or may not be occurring for various reasons.

“NOTE: Ellipses mark redacted information). I would speak to him stating that “lately my …”. “Oh, well this is normal, I would say” was his reply. “Ok? But I’m also experiencing …”. “Yep, that happens in most people under your circumstances.”

“Well can you administer tests at least?” *silence*

(Internal thought) Ok then, why am I even here!

Now, another mistake I had admittedly made here was scheduling my appointment for late in the day, sometime after 4:30 PM on a Friday. But I’m a working man with not a whole lot of time to take off, and this office makes those hours available. So as a patient, I figured all should be ok.

I went to visit this doctor a couple more times, each with the same result. So just before my birthday, I kind of made the decision that I would not bother anymore. But life has a way of showing us when ideas we may harbor are not the best ideas, and due to some sad occurrences in my own family I was compelled to return to the office and ask for a different physician. And my goodness, how much of a difference it makes. She immediately rolled her chair over and sat in front of me, listening carefully to my needs and explanations of what I felt was happening to me. She examined me closely, took thorough notes that she reproduced for me to take home, wrote up a couple of prescriptions, and had the lab run tests. And I realized at that instant that all the anxiety I was feeling had been generated by the responses I had received over prior months. Of course all this medical stuff still scares me some, but when I feel like I have someone who is going to get down there and battle with me to figure out what may or may not be going on, I also feel empowered. So I leave you with this nugget: if you feel you are not getting or have not gotten what you want from your physician, please ask for a change. On a basic level, it will help you to seek that preventative care we all should seek. At a deeper level, it just might save your life.

Freezing Fall Farm Fun

When was the last time you found yourself on a farm? That wide open feeling, the fresh air washing over you with a crisp, Fall tinge. Most of us rarely go to such environs these days, choosing to take so-called “outdoor time” at pools, ball games, and the like, to the extent that we bother with outdoors at all. And even then, our heads are buried in small screens.

Well, I got to visit a good-sized farm in Pittsboro, North Carolina for a “weenie roast” with my wife and some of her co-workers. About 30 miles from our Cary apartment, the absolute quiet I experienced when stepping from the car made it feel as if I had traveled not only a great spatial distance, but also back in time.

Of course, I had never met any of the individuals present, but they had heard lots about me and so were not surprised with the self I present. Handshakes and introductions were passed around, and I immediately began to worry about the cool air as we were starting at 4:30 PM and the yard’s big trees stopped what little sun might have been available. And cold was the day’s theme.

Initially, we just milled around near their fire pit, and I made small talk with anyone in the area. All of her co-workers are female, and they brought along their husbands, boyfriends, and children. Someone’s daughter had attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as I had, so I of course had to represent 49er nation.

After a little more chattering, alternating between big, wooden chairs placed around the perimeter and standing in front of the blessed fire pit heat to increase my core temperature, we grabbed a table to eat some food. I had a hot dog piled high with Cole slaw and ketchup, some baked beans, cheese balls and a cold cup of sprite. As we sat, the little kids played and rode around with a small tractor, and we laughed as the ten or so cows made their lazy way around the open pasture. “It’s a real cow!” A woman from the North shouted, making everyone laugh even harder.

Once everyone had gotten their fill, the real fun began. We all, numbering approximately 30, scrambled aboard a sizable hay-filled wagon to be pulled around that same circular pasture by a tractor. This hay was compacted into solid bales though, lining both sides like benches, so one did not end up with hay in every undesirable place as I have on previous hayrides. Someone exclaimed that the cows might charge us, but of course they just lopped along in a line probably wondering what we all were doing. I actually found it less cold while we were in motion than I had sitting out at the tables, perhaps because there were so many crammed into a not-so-big space.

On returning, we all gathered around the fire pit again for s’mores with roasted marshmallows. Being the city slicker that I am, this was my first time eating a s’more. I liked the complementary flavors of graham cracker and roasted marshmallow, though I managed to make a little bit of a mess. But then maybe a s’more isn’t a s’more unless you get good and sticky.

After consuming and washing up as best we could, we took seats around the fire and continued the merriment. By this point, nearing 8 PM, I needed to place myself in front of a blasting heater and feel my fingers again. So I suggested this as gently as I could, and the party was already kind of breaking up anyway. Just as we readied for departure, a cute German Shepherd wanted to introduce himself to me by aggressively trying to leap into my lap. I found it amusing though, as I love dogs.

And that was about the crux of it. I enjoyed it as a different kind of experience, giving me the feeling of a Fall Harvest celebration and, as I said at the beginning, something that we just don’t do enough of anymore. And it sure did give me a new appreciation for being warm! More adventures await.

The Big Four-Oh: On Birthday Blessings

I remember a time long ago when 40 was old. Well it’s not so old anymore as I find myself thundering across that line. All the cliches apply: the ever-faster revolving roll of toilet paper that represents time; the lengthening field of decisions, some good and some questionable, that litter the path behind me, and the unrealistic view of the past that often makes me feel that I want to go back. And speaking of time, if I’ve done it correctly, you will see this post at the exact time of my birth.

While I do miss plenty from my former life iterations, I think the more important thing to do as I enter a new decade is to look both forward and at what I have around me right now. And what I have is a log.

First, I am very blessed with my wonderful wife, who gives me a gentle nudge when the alarm buzzes, due to my unaided hearing. I reluctantly slide out of bed to start the workday, assuming a position on my knees where I sort of meditate while gathering my clothing. It helps me to sort my thoughts and get ready to head in.

Another individual who makes me feel blessed is my four-legged therapist. I know I’ve claimed her as my daughter, but she is a wearer of many hats. And if you have one, you likely know of what I speak. She saunters over to my table as I spoon some breakfast in, and bangs on my chair asking for a pet. I often wonder if she does this solely for herself, or because she wants me to feel better as I prepare to face the world. Studies have shown, and I know it to be true, that dogs have an uncanny ability to sense the underlying social and emotional needs of the humans with whom they live. Oh, and as I”m heading to the door, she has this bizarre routine where she barks frantically in my direction and basically chases me out. I’m… not sure if this is a good or bad thing. It gives early-morning amusement, though.

And in looking forward, the last five years of my adulthood have been the best of said period hands down. Certainly a large part of that is due to my partner, but it also comes from the idea that maybe finally, this career thing is getting into motion. Remember the Technical Writing project I wrote about way back in July? Well, after a month of quiet, it moved into the next phase. I have officially started training with an organization called SourceAmerica, with whom I suppose my company has a partnership. These folks have as their mission to help people with disabilities find better employment. To that end, they have created a series of training courses online that offer different test modules at the end to check what the individual has learned. I have been registered for 24 of them, running the gamut from writing-related issues to accessibility, and even addressing my need to gain confidence and decrease shyness in the work setting. I am liking them thus farm though some of the courses present tests that are difficult for me to complete on this Mac. I’m thinking it likely that I will soon need a Windows PC.

Anyhow, as you read this I am sadly on the way to work. NO birthday off for me this year, as I sucked up so much of my time earlier. Hopefully it will still be a good day though. Thank you all for helping it to be so just by caring.

DC At A Glance (Part I)

Life, at least my life, is largely defined by the journeys on which I embark. These can be solo excursions, or as has been the case for me during the last five years, partnered jaunts that open up my perceptions of travel in a way I cannot often get when alone.

My cousin, his wife, my wife, and I recently took such a vacation to our nation’s capital, Washington DC. We set out on Thursday August 22nd by the light of the moon, and returned on the 25th fairly early in the morning. It was our first road trip of this magnitude, with the four of us actually riding in one vehicle to a destination, but we thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our primary tour site was the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. After a Friday morning spent by ourselves (my wife and I had breakfast in a huge, multi-story Burger King wherein the cashier asked her “is he your son?” Surprised I’ve not gotten this question more often) we piled into an Uber and headed to that museum. I had gone to the National Holocaust Museum, so the concept and floor plan were similar. Instead of going up though, as you do in the latter, we descended into the bowels of the earth, where we would begin our trek through African American history.

The first thing you feel is claustrophobic, being stuffed into a fairly narrow space with people pouring through it. Naturally, this is the portion wherein we learn about the slave ships and what it was like for the many people who were fired to come to these shores from 1619 till the mid-1800’s. We believe they created this pinned-in feeling on purpose, so that we would get as much of a sense of what the sailing was like as is possible in a building.

The history, or what we saw of it anyway, was pretty much the stuff you know about: the Civil War and Reconstruction, Jim Crow and segregation, and the fight for civil rights. They did make it come to life though even for this blind person, with tons of audio and even artifacts, such as a train car that designated where the two races should sit, a Whites Only waiting room, and the like. The most poignant exhibit there, and the only one of which no one could take photos, was the Emmett Till Memorial. First, we had to stand in a long line to enter. Then, we passed a casket at the door, and listened especially to his mother speak about why she wanted his body to be presented at the funeral in the same way that it had been mangled by those who killed him in Mississippi. Many cried.

After this point, the museum takes on a generally lighter feel by highlighting the achievements of well-known basketball players and media personalities like Oprah, who has a significant stake in the museum. I also like that they have a Contemplation Room that allows you to come to terms with whatever you felt while seeing the tough exhibits and meditate near a fountain. Finally, we found the gift shop nearly impossible to enter, because the line was really long. My wife had intended to purchase a magnet, but gave up on this pursuit when the rest of our party called in search of us.

If you have been to DC, you know that it seems to rain nearly every day there. All four times I have visited have ended in soaked clothes, if not shivering cold. While we did not encounter the latter this time, it was late August after all, we did end up running through a gentle but steady drip to a restaurant called the Penn Quarter at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue. My cousin and I both opted for Chili Cheese Burgers, his turkey and mine beef. We marveled, because the server took all of our orders without taking anything down. While our wives were away, she ambled back over to the table to ask about which burgers we had indeed ordered. The place got louder as more people packed inn but it remained easy to hold conversation. We contemplated taking the Metro back to our hotel, as the rain had finally stopped by this point. But they decided that the logistics would be too confusing, so we grabbed another Uber and headed back in. Our accommodations were at the Days Inn at 4400 Connecticut Avenue NW, a decent spot by Days Inn standards but not particularly flashy. It’s good for a room and rest. It’s also well-located, as there are several Italian restaurants within easy walking distance, as well as a delicious bakery about which I will write in the next installment. By the time we hit that door though, my tiredness instantly caught up with me and I dove under for an hour and a half. I have no idea when I last walked like that, but ultimately it did feel good. Back with Saturday’s fun hopefully tomorrow.

DARKER BUT DEEPER: My Review of The Lion King

The circle of life spins on, and eventually brings us back movies of our childhood. I have to admit, before going to see The Lion King with my wife, two of her sisters, and a nephew and niece who are young kids, I wondered why bother. Sure, I knew that the new version would use “real” animals as opposed to animated, as was done in 1994. But I thought that other than that, the movie would be the same. It wasn’t.

But before I go into detail about my thoughts, I wanted to note the experience of obtaining audio description so that I would know what was going on. You can read a prior post I made with this title if you want a deeper sense of what audio description is. I was aware that most movie theaters nowadays would have it, so as we arrived at the Holly Springs AMC Dine-in 9, I asked my wife to speak with the customer service rep at the counter about obtaining the device. He hadn’t really known of what she spoke, but the manager did, and that manager also educated him so that future transactions would go more smoothly. I was not surprised at the rep’s lack of awareness, as I would guess that few customers need this. But I was pleased with their willingness to learn.

They asked which film we would see, and programmed the little box accordingly, then I clipped it to my pocket and took the little pair of headphones that come with it. Then we entered the auditorium, wherein there were reclining seats with tables attached. Instead of a concession stand, one orders food straight from the seat by pressing a button. Because we had eaten breakfast only a couple hours earlier, having gone for a 3:30 showing, my wife and I were not too hungry. So we just got popcorn and drinks, and smuggled boxes of raisinettes. As we settled in with our grub and the movie started, I realized that the audio description device was not working. This was rectified by simply locating and pressing the power button.

The quality of the description was pretty good. It was done by a woman with a British accent, which can be a bit challenging for me to follow, but I just sort of concentrated on digesting the more visual scenes and slid the set off of my head during dialog-heavy sections. The audio was presented in two channels: the left ear got the description, while the right ear was fed the movie. This would work wonderfully for one with normal hearing I suppose, but unfortunately my right ear is insufficient with regards to hearing. But that was ok. I think my pie-in-the-sky dream would be that somehow a text-based description app would be brought into existence that would allow me to follow the movie with my Braille display. Amazon’s x-ray is actually not far from this as it shows the scene title and who plays in the scene. I would think adding an extra line of description to that would not be too complicated. This would allow even deaf blind people to follow the action in a movie. My wife informed me that they do have a device that can be placed in a seat’s cup holder and allow a deaf person to read the closed captions, so that’s pretty cool too. It is great that we live in a world where access is being extended to everyone.

The movie began as one would expect, with the Circle of Life song. The elephant hole portion and the part where Scar outlines plans to take down the king were notably darker though, and especially as they basically removed Scar’s Be Prepared song and replaced it with a more march-y beat that made slight reference to it. That song had actually been one of my favorites in the original, but perhaps it was less necessary in a non-animated movie.

I have to say though, I was less a fan of Scar’s voice in the newer iteration. It just lacked the gravitas brought to it before. Nala’s older voice, played by Beyonce, was also less impassioned. On the whole though, the movie was more effectively tied together: with elements like a lead female hyena who tussled with Nala; a more developed relationship between Timon and Pumba, the outcasts Simba meets when sent away from Pride Rock; and a more sensible return by Simba in the end. It seems some effort was made to be more culturally sensitive as well.

This version in many respects felt less like a kid’s movie overall, not that kids wouldn’t get into it, but just that without some of its wimpy, Youngers folks might not connect with it in quite the same way. As an adult 25 (TWENTY-FIVE!) years later, I pretty well enjoyed it, and given that there were some fairly lengthy visual portions where nothing was said, I was happy I had opted to get the audio description box. The movie-going experience was so different from what I remember of my last attendance, which I think was in 2004? That sounds like a long time, but I can recall no more recent ones. I may well go to the movies again soon.

STOP SPREADIN’ THE NEWS: On Decreasing Mainstream App Access

Have you noticed a subtle shift, especially among mainstream news delivery services? Yes, the impending pay wall. These services, such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and even some local outfits, allow you to view an enticing tidbit from an article then say “to read more, sign in,” for (in the case of the former) $38 a month!

Now, as one who wishes he could write for a living, I do understand the need to be reimbursed for people’s services and hard work. I also know that advertising revenue is becoming a smaller and smaller slice of the pie, as people have become privy to and largely just ignore the annoying messages that pop up everywhere up to and including their Facebook accounts. But I remember when I first gained access to the Internet now 20 years ago, I was shocked by the fact that I could browse articles from the Charlotte Observer for free, giving me more access to news and happenings than I had ever known previously.

And therein lies my issue with these new pay walls. In order to complete my recent project at the job, I had to read an article on the Wall Street Journal’s website. Fortunately for me, they had a sale for July 4th in which one could sign up for just a dollar. So I did. I downloaded the app, which really opens up access as it lets you “follow” different authors and choose which kinds of articles you wish to be notified about. I get the notifications, but when I click on them all I hear is “null article,” “null article.” And even trying to press that link does nothing. I find this extremely disappointing.

And especially as we celebrate ten years of the iPhone having a text-to-speech option, VoiceOver, as Shelly Brisbin noted in her fascinating documentary. I know when that thing came out in 2007, I and my blind peers worried that it would quickly shut us out of the changing cell phone market. But with one fell swoop, that whole idea was turned on its head.

As we see though, having it truly stick is going to require that developers continue to be made aware of what this technology is and how it works. I can certainly understand smaller-scale companies not knowing about this, but the Wall Street Journal? I mean sure I can read most of the articles online, but I am still being denied a significant advantage by the app’s lack of VoiceOver functionality.

And if I am allowed to indulge, let’s move away from news and talk about travel. I specifically am taking umbrage with the Hilton Honors app. Again, there are other ways for me to gain most of the information on Hilton Hotels, but if you go through their app there are spectacular prices to be found. Their issue is the way dates are displayed. You have to move by headings from month to month, but it will only let you jump two months or so before losing focus and jumping way ahead or off the page entirely. I’m wondering why they can’t just use the standard calendar as almost every other app does.

So these are some of my worries. As the best stuff continues to move more into the apps and away from websites, it is inherent that people make at least a little effort to understand what standards need to be followed or as I’ve seen suggested by some, that a company like Apple mandate accessibility testing, if for no other reason but to let people know what works and what doesn’t. To do less is to (inadvertently) exclude a portion of the market that has waited a long time to gain even basic access in the first place.

2019 Part II: Starting It Write

Hello, and welcome to the second half of 2019! Has any year ever gone faster? I can tell you I have never had one with so many fireworks (which perhaps explains why I have generally posted less here, but hopefully these pages can be darkened again on the regular.

From April’s evaluations, to May and June’s Music Narratives to: something that… holds promise? Yes, a development for which I have been waiting, I am now getting to try my hands at technical writing with my current employer.

What is technical writing, you ask? Well, I am still learning the ins and outs of it myself, but as best I understand it it’s writing about business happenings and technologies that can benefit those within a business or users of its services.

To test my abilities in this area, I have been given two projects to work on for three-hour stints throughout this week, with July 4th providing a natural day off for pondering before submission. I will do these projects; a white paper that addresses some kind of accessibility issue and provides a solution, and a user manual or guide that helps a blind person learn to use a device; within their computer room over said days.

Today was my first go at it, and I actually quite enjoyed it and myself. First, I kind of had to re-familiarize myself with a Windows computer, after having typed on this Mac for a little over two years now. I have limited experience with Windows 10, but did not find it hard to learn the few new things I needed to know. What did make things fun at first was remembering that the cursor in Jaws works a little differently than it does in VoiceOver. I kept typing in the wrong place and having to erase. I’ve also gotten used to the autocorrect function on the Mac, so had to remember to go back and correct errors more frequently in the Windows environment. But, I’ll be right as rain by the time I get back at it tomorrow.

With regards to the projects themselves, the user manual is proving pretty easy for me, as there is a really good Internet template into which I have only to insert the relevant information. The biggest challenge there is making sure I know exactly what I am talking about. With the white paper, I think I am going to change direction from my initial idea, because that approach is kind of a slog. I’m actually thinking of doing it on Paratransit and its lack of flexibility. I have cooked up a couple of articles and will mine them for some kind of potential solution, especially as this is something I find quite relevant, and it says we can discuss travel-related accessibility issues. We shall see.

One thing is for sure, just flexing my mental muscle like that made me feel something I’ve not really experienced since grad school. So I hope I get to do this sort of thing some time soon. Wish me luck as I continue to work on crafting and ultimately expanding my skill set to include an idea I had not really considered, but as with the music thing, now wonder if I can run with. More later.

STAYING FRESH WHILE AGING: Our Trip to Duplin Winery

To produce great flavor, grapes must be planted just so; given consideration for current climate, desired outcomes, and how much capital is available. I feel like relationships are similar. They can be better with time, if the right attention is given to their surrounding environment and the resources one has at hand to truly nurture them. So, my wife and I make a conscious aim not only to enjoy the things we have always, but to keep expanding those commonalities where possible. The prior weekend, we took a simple walk to a local fast food chain on Saturday night, taking in the others strolling along our strip and having a meal in a relatively empty dining room while chattering. But yesterday, we made good on something proposed a while ago, a trip to Duplin Winery in Rose Hill NC for a tasting.

The drive is about an hour and a half from where we are located, and once we arrived, parking at first seemed illusory. After a couple of lot circuits, we slide into a spot that someone has just vacated and make our way inside. The winery has a store where the four bars are located, and where the various types of wine can be purchased. A tasting, which lasts approximately a half hour and involves ten of the 42 varieties they carry, costs $5 without the crackers that help cleanse pallets between wines, and $10 if the crackers are acquired. We opt for the latter, because I want to be able to taste the difference.

The total amount of wine consumed amounted to just one glass, and as our staff person prepares to pour each dollop, he explains the type of wine and how it is prepared. We try white wine varieties first: with one called Carlos that was named after an NC State professor which we found to be ok but a little strong; the Magnolia wine, named after a nearby town and the one my wife and I liked the most; and three other whites that made not particular impression on me. The stories that come along with the tasting are amusing though, and make it worth your while to go and check out if you can.

The most important thing I learned is that I can, in fact, distinguish between whites and reds. I must say that this was the only time I had actively tried to do so, and I found it educational. While white wine tended to be sweeter, the red had a flavor that I find hard to describe. Most of the five we tried did have more of a kick, which she did not like at all; but that I could drink, if someone just eve it to me. The only of those she did mostly like was the sangria rosé, which contained a certain amount of sweetness as well, and a frozen wine slushy that we had at the end where I couldn’t even taste the alcohol.M/p>

I think the entire tasting may have actually lasted a bit longer than a half hour. Being the sociable person my wife is, she met a woman whose husband was in the room but had opted not to participate. We noted, not surprisingly I suppose, that most of the other attendants were couples. There were a few families though, including a grandma and grandpa, and even a baby whom I’m guessing was not partaking of the festivities. I enjoyed it though, and appreciated the different experience. One more thing to add to our memory bank. What has been the most unusual thing you’ve done this year, with or without a partner?

THE BIG REVEAL: Or, What’s This Music Thing I’ve been Doing?

First, I should note that I have been asked by the good folks at Vibbidi to write a post introducing you to their product, but all thoughts and opinions herein are my own. Thank you.

If you have been following me on social media or even picked up on the coy bits I’ve dropped in this blog, then you know that our the last couple of months I have been writing for and involved in a music community. They call it Vibbidi, and its aim is to be part music streaming service, part social media platform. They have artists from every genre on the site, which had been an app but will soon be converted entirely into a web-based platform accessible from any internet-ready device.

Of course they have singles, albums, curated playlists, and even videos, as well as cover content generated by the users. But what makes this site different is its album narratives. These are posts, written either in blog form or as a story, they say really however you wish as long as it kind of relates to the album, that can introduce people to new performers in an informal way. You can read my narratives, the few I have generated thus far, on my personal Vibbidi page. I’m enjoying it, and finding that it gets me more into music than I have been in a long time, both by bringing up memories of those singers to whom I used to frequently listen and connecting me to those I hadn’t yet discovered.

Once they roll out the full service some time this summer, you will also be able to write these narratives if you wish. If you think you’d be interested in doing so, let me know and I can put you in touch with the right individuals. From a blindness perspective, the app is kind of a challenge to use, but I think the web page will be considerably easier. At any rate, I have notified them of my experiences, and they seem receptive. So give it a look, with the awareness that everything is currently under construction. And let me know what you think. Thanks