A Farewell to Dern Durham

That’s a phrase jokingly applied to this area by some, because of the way it sounds when you actually pronounce the city’s name. I’ve heard some foreigners call it “Dur-ham” stressing each part of the word. When I was a kid, I thought it was Durm, because that’s how we all said it. I’ve seen the Bull City’s image improve, having recently become known nationally for its foodie culture but still sadly seeing more violence than one might like. But then again, that’s probably the case for any fast-growing urban area, right?

1540 (plus or minus, don’t break out the calculator on me! Haha). Buy the time I depart this apartment on June 24 in the year of our Lord 2017, that will be nearly the number of days I will have resided herein. Outside of my time in Charlotte, I probably have not remained for so long in one place; not even Southern Pines as I lived there prior to college for only just over three years. So naturally this wonderful local community, in which I found a place to be a regular (granted it’s a chain but still,) met neighbors who always took care of me, and even found ways to be entertained while going to work has come to feel like home.

Of course, life does and will continue to change, and I very much welcome this as it forces me to grow. The coming change will represent a middle transition, as I’ve taken to calling it, between the last vestiges of bachelorhood and marital bliss, the latter now set to begin in January/February. During this period, I will reside with my cousin and his wife back in the Queen City, relocating there for the first time in almost eight years. I am actually excited about this, primarily because I am attending Queens University of Charlotte online anyway and being closer to that facility will help me as I conduct research for the Capstone, their term for the Master’s project. What that research will be has yet to be determined, but I have some ideas.

That excitement is tinged a bit though by the fact that I am essentially being forced into this move, due to the apartment issues I have chronicled in two previous entries. I am fortunate enough to have somewhere to go at least, but I know some who are going to really be struggling. So one of my new advocacy challenges will be trying to learn about affordable housing, how it can be saved (yeah right in this society) or at least kept remotely in check. I won’t forget about y’all!

The cumulative stress of this pending life shift is causing sleep to be near nonexistent, as I have been since Sunday operating on fumes. I had already decided a couple of weeks ago that this would be the last week with my current employer.
RELATED Job Days No. 5
Which I am now glad about as I can use that in-between time to recover a bit from this horrible insomnia and to try and make progress on the practice research project we are now doing in my current class. I also plan to start making inquiries about ways to generate income once I relocate, mainly by visiting the university’s career center. Hey, I’m paying for that service so why not!

And, not much else. The typical thing is happening as I get ready to leave the community; I am meeting all sorts of fascinating individuals whom I would have enjoyed talking to if they had dared to speak earlier. But this is ok I guess, it is paradoxically a sign that the time to move on has very definitely come. I guess only time will tell what awaits around the bend.

I know I hadn’t posted as often as I would like (the goal is once a week), but not surprisingly as classes gear up the posts fall off. But I know I already have a couple of fun pieces that should be coming up, including a trip to a new destination that I will tell you about after it occurs. More later.

Rare On The Road with the EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases

I think I’m in this group pic? With my T on

There are few events in one’s life that can be called “Life-changing,” and often the use of this term is overblown at best. Probably those that I could say qualify are high school graduation, completion of undergraduate study, and the attending of the 2009 conference of the Norrie Disease Association. Not excluding especially personal markers of course, such as my relationship and coming marriage, but I think I’m speaking more of professional encounters here.

In my role as president of the Norrie Disease Association, I have always been on the outlook for possible opportunities to expand our reach. These days, such chances are most often found via social media networks like Twitter. In that forum, I discovered the EveryLife Foundation for Rare Diseases, which works to change public policy to enhance outcomes for persons with rare diseases through political and other advocacy. They tend to have more of a focus on research/medical issues than the NDA does, the latter being primarily a support group, but as I discovered in attending their first Rare On The Road meeting, much of the information they supply can be of good use.

So first the backstory. As soon as I saw that this conference would take place in Atlanta, I scrambled onto my apps, found great air and hotel deals, and decided I would go. I guess I am one who looks for signs of the “rightness” of a thing, and the fact that I got low prices to travel and lodge at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, along with a $5 coupon from Lyft to use them for airport service like a day before I needed it were good omens indeed.

Not surprisingly, once I arrived at that mammoth hotel Friday night, I began to wonder about the sanity of staying there. I hustled up to my 27th-floor room, unpacked, and… got lost in the hall for perhaps 15 minutes trying to find the elevator! But y’all, it ain’t a blind folks party till something like that happens. And a blind folks party don’t stop. It all ended well though, because I quickly discovered on return how I could more easily navigate that labyrinth with a giant rail that almost looks like its purpose is to guide, even though it may not be. I had gone down to the restaurant for a slightly overpriced but pretty good burger, fries, lemonade, and chocolate cake, consumed as people whooped to the NBA playoff game on the TV.

Once I had retreated to my room, I snatched a little time to enjoy the luxurious surroundings before putting myself down. I awoke that Saturday morning, checked out, and made my way to the Loudermilk Conference Center about a half mile away where the event was to be hosted.

Always with these things, I wonder how the hosts will treat me. Immediately on entering, the registrant greeted me and served me a breakfast of blueberry muffin, mixed fruit, and coffee. Then I pretty much remained at that table all day, speaking largely with a woman named Lisa Raman, who introduced all of the speakers as well as leading off with a nice speech about her own journey to this sort of work through engaging with her son who has a rare syndrome. She was really nice, being willing to help me empty my bladder when that coffee, some water and juice poured right through me.

Of course a primary function of most conferences is networking. And while I do not yet know exactly how my newfound connections will play out, let’s just say there’s some real potential there. I got to talk wit two people who are now working with me to make some things happen with social media and in expanding our knowledge on rare disease issues.

As for the conference itself, probably the most helpful thing to me was talking with other organizational leaders and discovering that our challenges are quite similar. These include sustaining membership, finding ways to keep people motivated within the organization, and increasing fund-raising/awareness.

As is common with such events the entirety of it is difficult to capture. But here are my key takeaways. First, story construction for persons or organizations is important. They noted that stories have three main elements, especially as relates to advocating for funding or other action from politicians and the like: an issue/problem, proposed solution, and call to action. We were then told to create elevator pitches that address these areas, a bigger challenge than one might think. SIDENOTE: It was cool to have my Braille display in that situation, as I could type my response into the iPhone and read it back. The other attendees thought this was neat.

The second main takeaway is that we should contact our senators and representatives and let them know of our personal issue. They spoke a lot about the coming healthcare changes, and of course I acknowledge that you have your own views on these, but I agree that whatever our side, we need to be aware of what’s going on and how it might affect us. I know in many NDA member’s case, loss of certain supports would make it harder to get the early intervention and therapies that can improve quality of life for children with Norrie. So I will indeed reach out to my senator(s) for what it’s worth.

This was the essence of what was covered in the conference, but the fun wasn’t over! My second networking contact occurred because she had overheard me saying I had stayed in the Marriott, and allowed me to share an Uber car with her to retrieve my bag. So one never knows when these things might happen. I got the business card and successfully scanned it with the KNFB Reader app on my phone. (This was a trip definitely made more possible by that little device, for sure). Bag gotten, I survived another harried ride to the airport with a driver who said he had glaucoma but could still see well enough (um…,) booked it to the gate through the gargantuan Atlanta airport after another needed potty break, and came on home. It was quite a fun day and weekend, with results yet to be fully realized.

On Rites of Passage: 20 Years Since High School and Apartment Follow-up

I was listening to a recent episode of the Spark CBC podcast in which someone noted the importance of nature, especially when one finds oneself at a major life juncture. Go for a walk in the forest, find a nice, calming trail, or my favorite, visit the ocean. Ironically after the apartment thing met its conclusion, which I will get to later in the post, I was already due to head to the beach with the fiancé. The story claimed that, along with just feeling less stressed, blood pressure and other physiological indicators moderate as well. I can truly believe it, as the sound and feel of those unusually warm waves put my frazzled mind at ease.

Even as I stand at a new, very big precipice, probably the most important in my entire life, I find myself reflecting on a prior time. It amazes me that 20 years ago this month, I was about to celebrate the completion of a long, fun high school career. The thrill of singing in the chorus, as one of three seniors we also got to perform Rent’s Seasons of Love, so that one will always hold a place in my heart. The wonderful friend who helped me secure a 97 keychains that I still regularly finger whenever I need something to ground me; wrote me a Braille birthday card with her car keys (how cool is that); and ensured that I was able to enjoy senior picnic by offering to take me paddle boat riding on the lake we were visiting. (Ugh, that lake was so full of trash, but that’s beside the point).

And then the proud moment of graduation, May 22?, 23?, how do I not exactly know. I still remember the honor’s rope hanging from my neck, and not even knowing what it meant till right before going to the ceremony as my Aunt told me. The junior martial who escorted me across the stage, saying she was getting teary-eyed thinking of her own approaching graduation. And the too-warm, packed auditorium.

Ah, the memories. I know I know, I lie too aggressively in the past most of the time. In my present though, I have taken another step toward completing my current Master’s degree, having finished a class on Computer-mediated Communication. We did a podcast for that class as well, of which I am a little less proud but also understand that it all is a learning process. It was still fun to create.

And now to the news you’ve all been waiting for. Regarding the apartment outcome, I have been told that I must move on, as they are going to renovate starting June 24th and rents will rise. After thinking about it, I feel that this might not be such a bad move for me as I kind of need to get beyond this neighborhood anyway. But for folks like one of my neighbors, without going too deeply into her personal business, it will cause her significant difficulties as she needs to stay over here and will need family to help her absorb the increased costs. I just want to point this out, because I hope someone continues to see the need for affordable housing, and especially as it applies to older individuals, and those with disabilities who mostly live on fixed income. *sigh* sometimes that part of things truly feels like a losing battle.

Wrapping around to the beginning, I am certain that if I had not immediately schlepped off to the water, I would have felt a lot more panicked about the required changes I must make. That time away allowed me to categorize, prioritize, (are they’re anymore “ize”s?) It’s such an obvious thing, but we city slickers should remember to keep ourselves connected to surroundings. While I am not always afforded the luxury of the ocean, yet, I do usually take a walk or at least sit on my porch and listen to the real tweeters, the birds! Find that something for yourself.

Some pretty exciting stuff coming in future entries, so stay tuned. Till then, breathe deep and revel in pleasant memories.

#FridayReads Someone Knows My Name, by Lawrence Hill

If you were to read the summary presented on the NLS site, you would get the sense that this was all the book was about. By itself, I figured “hmmm, it could be worth the read”. But that description hardly does it justice.

As the story starts, we see the main character (I suppose her name is spelled Aminata Dialo, but that’s where audio can get me in trouble), in London toward the end of her struggle, working with the British to have slavery abolished. But then we almost immediately flash back to her residing in an African village, I think somewhere around present-day Mali, where she and her family practice Islam and farm the land. It takes on a Roots-like feel, as she is snatched, placed aboard a slave ship for the vivid ride over, and taken into a property on St. Helena Island off of the South Carolina coast.

The story continues in this vein, flashing forward to London at the beginning of each major section then back to the time that had been left off, spanning from approximately 1754-1793. She doesn’t experience the outright cruelty that is often seen in such tales, but the psychological trauma along with people’s constant betrayal of her trust are just as bad in the long run. And of course, she continues to dream of returning to Africa, which eventually happens but doesn’t turn out to be all she had hoped either.

Aminata, (called Nina by people in what would become the United States), tells the story in first person, with the amazing rhythm that comes from her initial culture, and even some snippets of the language she spoke. Interestingly, Colleen Delany the NLS narrator who reads this, reads the entire thing in an African accent. I must admit she does pretty good with this, as well as an American could be expected I suppose. Probably her American slave accents were not as good, but one really does not have issues when listening, as the power of the story itself takes you away.

I think the thing that interests me most about this piece is its presentation of a little-known portion of the history of slavery in the US, how Britain and their soon-to-be-Canadian colonists treated these individuals after they had aided in the fight against the American colonies, and even many Africans’ unwillingness to truly assist them. The latter happened in many respects because those coastal folks were being sweetened by the resources provided by their European colonizers.

I don’t know who this Lawrence Hill guy is, but I want to see if he has anymore work. Because this book, 18+ hours of audio, has me so captivated I can hardly put it down, even when I grudgingly have to at work. This woman’s life was amazing, and it does us all well to expand our views of how people lived under and rebelled against that awful institution.

Booking It With Libro, Supporting The Locals

As a blind person, I consider myself incredibly fortunate to exist in this era, where for the first time in history I can partake in printed, or recorded, words as they are revealed to the public. Books, maybe not necessarily the opiate of the masses, but the opiate of me. The only thing that makes it possible for me to slink along through this crazy life and the work needed to thrive in it.

I remember when I was first able to consume books on my own, be they in Braille or on tape. The specialized programs in our school subscribed us to our North Carolina branch of the National Library Service for the Blind (NLS), and we would receive a well-used copy of some hopefully interesting title that we needed to send back after consumption. Discovery was kind of fun though as often we had no idea what they might push to us, but in many cases we didn’t enjoy it either. And we didn’t have a whole lot of choice, aside from giant Book catalogs that would be distributed on a bimonthly basis and from which you could order, assuming your library’s branch even had it on hand.

The Braille books were bulky and often stretched across several volumes. The tapes, recorded for play in a “long-play cassette player especially designed to allow them to be slowed (or sped up, I’m not the only blind person who had tons of fun turning everyone into chipmunks) would often get lost or meet a bad end being “eaten” by the player. It was fine though, the library would usually take it on good faith if you reported a lost or destroyed item and allow you to continue . receiving new titles.

Even with that generous system, most of the time the best we could hope for was to be reading a book nearly a year after the hype had died down. But more commonly, we only had access to at most 5% of readable material, and that was better for us here in the US than in much of the world, a difference I hope is going away but which I fear still persists to some extent.

Anyhow, imagine my, our, joy when the Internet came into existence. Of course the NLS has digitized its collection, and really nowadays they get a lot of support from commercial outfits as well, which is nice because it definitely grants us more access than we’ve ever had. Then in the textual arena, there are services like Bookshare, which even further broaden our ability to grab great titles and take them in via Braille display.

On the larger stage, in the instances when commercial titles are not available via NLS, I had often purchased them from Audible. I suppose I like Audible well enough, but A it has become an Amazon company (something of a “big guy” in town, and B, I had often wondered how I might support independent booksellers. I believe these community stores do just that, enhance and keep our communities thriving. I met Rachel Simon, the wonderful author of Story of Beautiful Girl and Riding The Bus With My Sister, at Charlotte’s Parkroad books, for instance.

So, I grasped at the first opportunity I saw to merge both of those worlds, a site called Libro.FM which has Audible-like functionality (they’ve just introduced a $14.99 membership credits model), but they allow the Indies to take a cut from each purchase. You the consumer are allowed to decide which store you wish to support, and so I chose Chapel Hill’s Flyleaf Books because we also have a thriving writing scene in this area. Simon pegged her earlier titles while residing in the region, and my current favorite, Carla Buckley, is still putting out the good stuff while residing here as well. I want both my writer friends and the stores that in many respects support the work they do to continue to survive, even as the world turns into one big chain.

And on top of that, Libro has great customer service. Via Twitter, I pointed out, when downloading the iPhone app and taking in my first title, a few unlabeled buttons when using VoiceOver. They began working on it, and emailed me recently asking me to go back and take a look. I hadn’t had a problem with it even then, but it is still great when developers care enough to take the time to look into and fix an issue.

So I suppose that, for the time being at least, I am going to move away from the larger entity and stick with these folks for a while. If you would like a way to help the locals out in this digital age, I would invite you to do the same.

When Gentrification Arrives At Your Door

Or renovation. Rapid re-creation of a whole neighborhood. Call it what you want, the effects are the same.

We’ve all read the stories. Person, hard working, toward the lower end of the economic ladder, suddenly finds him or herself homeless. As we read this, we sit back and wonder to ourselves how this could have happened so quickly. Well I would venture to say that our current rental structure can contribute.

I have resided in my current large community here just northwest of downtown Durham for over four years. Each year, the costs have increased by about 20 to 30 dollars. Not too bad, right?

Except this year, they’re gonna hit me with the haymaker! They have been engaged in a steady process to re-design all of these older units to make them trendier, and probably more amenable to modern appliances. And let’s call it what it is, more expensive.

I get it. Located close to two medical facilities, Duke Hospital and the VA Medical Center, as well as that major university within easy walking distance, there is lots of money to be made in this area. And as guardians of the community (however all that internal stuff works), they have a responsibility to get that money flowing into their coffers if at all possible.

But what are those of us who are barely hanging on supposed to do? It’s a question I probably ask at least once a year, and every year it becomes demonstrably worse. Affordable housing is simply disappearing, and especially from places that need it the most for instance near said medical facilities and along transit lines. An example of this need? I have (had? well I think she’s still here somehow) a neighbor who moved into her apartment and lived there for 25 years so that she could have easy access to Duke Hospital in the event of somewhat regular heart emergencies. My guess is she has some kind of special dispensation that will allow her to remain there for as long as she pleases.

Certainly other than that though, I have noticed that this place has become a lot quieter. Most folks started packing up and moving out a good while ago, and my guess is it will be a while before the upper incomers start trickling in, once all of the reconstruction work has been completed.

As for me, this is not a tremendous deal. This is because I would have been moving on by January anyway, so that I can begin life as a married man. To transfer for the six or seven-month gap between now and then (I must depart by June 24th,) I have to pay these fine folks an additional $330 a month. That is a sixty (60!) percent increase, and would mean I would be living a lot closer to significant disaster due to any unexpected occurrence than I wish to experience. It seems silly though to relocate to some entirely unfamiliar venue for such a short period, and even if I decide to do that I am not sure where that would be as most of Durham, the Bull City’s prices have crept in that general direction. In any event, I have a couple of weeks to figure this out, on top of possible needs for other employment, grad school, and other general living interests. Chaotic, to say the least. But, it’ll all work out somehow because it has to. Wish me well.

Continued Community Integration: I’m in a @GoTriangle Video

If we, people with disabilities, wish to have our voices heard, then we must first make an effort to be part of the conversation. I have often done this with GoTriangle, our local transit system. I fairly regularly leave feedback, good and sometimes less happy, to their Twitter feed, and I usually receive a prompt response when one is called for.

Last month, I asked their social media person Samantha Allen to participate in an interview for the podcast I posted from the prior class. (I got a 97 on that by the way, which makes me very happy). I was pleased with all of the assistance I got in putting that together, and so I jumped at an opportunity to do my part by adding comments regarding GoTriangle’s push to create a light rail line that runs through Durham and Orange counties. I was indeed featured in the video which you can see buy clicking that link. My clip is about 30 seconds in, and lasts for approximately ten seconds.

I am impressed that they managed to distill something useful from that hour-long conversation, because it was difficult to think straight after a long workday that had left my brain in a fog. Beyond what was played, I discussed how blind people make use of automated announcements (which seem to have been modified slightly already,) the need to ensure that any such system would be accessible to all, including persons in wheelchairs, and the potential viability it could add to the community. I do think my thoughts were heard and considered, which I appreciate.

I saw on the video that a commenter already made the point that “disruptive technology” (think, Uber) is changing the equation when it comes to public transit. Well I don’t entirely agree with that. I think these two systems can work in concert with each other, especially as ride-hailing costs considerably more. It is good to have in a pinch and can grant me access to other areas that are not as easily reached by public transit, but for an affordable way to and from work as well as better crowd-moving during sporting events and the like large-scale mass transit still can’t be beat. Not to mention that it actually does contribute to the life of the community, resulting in real connections that change things.

So I am looking forward to the creation of this system, assuming I will remain in the area long enough to see it come to fruition. Frequent, widely available transit will increase my choices for where to live and work, and I believe that we all deserve as broad a level of access to those dimensions as we can get.

Thanks again to the folks at GoTriangle, who in my op[inion are in fact making an effort to get input from every aspect of their communities before going forward with this project. I will continue to generate comments as they come up during my commute.

I’m The Mac Daddy!

Pressing and stressin’, thinking and screaming, all of these have been the music of my household this past week. Why, you ask? Because I have chosen, I think I’ve about settled on it anyway, to leave the Windows computer environment and venture fully into the world of Apple. I have acquired a Mac.

As the dust settles, I can admit that if I’d known what I was getting into, I may have made a different choice. I got this thing last Sunday, and it is fair to say that I really didn’t get all the kinks worked out till this morning. I guess I hadn’t conceived that a system could be so fundamentally different, but why not?

Back in 1997, when I gained my first exposure to Windows so that I could complete a test in the university’s disability Services office, I remember being frustrated multiple times because I would press a button and my previous results would disappear. Definitely a harrowing way to learn a machine as one is also worried about surviving a difficult exam.

It took till 99 for the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation services to realize that the current blind and low vision college students could benefit from at least a crash course in Windows and the Internet, and so they shipped us off to Governor Moorehead in Raleigh where we stayed for a week to learn from their technology people. By the time I returned in the fall, and spent many an hour in the university’s lab ostensibly doing work but mostly firing off e-mail messages to women, I was becoming an expert.

Anyway, it is easy to forget the accompanying angst that initial computer exposure caused, until one’s basic structures are rattled again. So it has been with the Mac. First, there seem to be so many keystrokes to remember. But yes, I know I will become ever more fluent in them as I use in real time. Second, and the bigger problem, is the devil of security. Of course I’m not naive about that, I know it is very much needed. But two-factor authentication in particular is a bear to me. It usually requires me to quickly enter a code sent to my phone into the computer, and I just kept failing at that. Then attempting to turn it off proved difficult, because I was unable to verify the email address, answer three security questions, and sacrifice a lamb in time before the security timed out. (that last is an exaggeration, but only slightly). I give credit first to our local Apple tech support guy, a blind man who actually works at the store, for suggesting that I call the Apple Accessibility hotline to try and work it out, and then to Bonnie, the rep who spent nearly an hour trying this and that problem until we got it to work at least provisionally. Whew!

So now with that madness out of the way, I can get onto the fun part of really learning the ins and outs of this beast. I have already sent my first tweets, done a discussion board assignment for class, and completed an email message for someone from this surprisingly small console with keys that look like they should be hard to type with, but that I can actually bang with relatively little thought. Autocorrect is on, which helps of course, but also there just seems to be something more natural about the finger response. It’s kind of fun! And without doubt, the more I learn with this tech stuff, the deeper are my career and other such possibilities. So we’ll see how I feel as next Sunday, the last on which I can return this thing if I want a refund, approaches. Until then, VoiceOver On!

On Creating a Show/Podcast

Grad school is filled with many projects that have me pulling my hair out one by one, or banging it’s container on the table as I try to slog to the end. Probably the week 1/4 paper exemplifies that to the highest degree I have yet encountered.

Thankfully though, I followed that extremely challenging literature review, where I was to collect 20 articles and design them into something remotely coherent, with a more fun podcast. This was to be on employee identification within organizations. I had to locate three interviewees, one of whom should be a leader of sorts. I tapped my network and was able to speak with a newspaper reporter (thank you Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan,) a director of Community Relations (thank you Linda Convissor,) and a social media manager (thank you Samantha Allen.) I had to then ask questions that get to ways in which people operate in the ever-changing, now always-on culture.

I recorded the interviews with my iPhone using Voice Memos, and actually got pretty clear audio. Then I used Bossjock to convert them to MP3 so that I could import into Audacity, where things could be edited and moved around. After hours of manual reading and clicking this and that, I finally masted the basic art of adding clips after I spoke. Extraction of my first clip took nearly an hour, but once I fully understood the technique I’d gotten clip removal down to mere seconds.

Is it top-knotch professional? Well I’m not silly enough to think that. First, I still feel my voice is too monotonous, and maybe I need to try and drop it a bit so that I sound more authoritative. Also, obviously I didn’t have the real studio set up that I would need to remove the resonance that comes from being in a relatively hollow room.

But did I enjoy it? Indeed I did. I think if nothing else maybe I can be the one who writes the copy that an anchor/reporter reads. I had fun constructing the narrative and deciding what fits and how. I could probably also improve my audio editing skills fairly quickly, an area into which I plan to look more thoroughly upon completion of my degree. Finally, I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever really have a “radio voice,” but do wonder if there are courses that could help me pursue that goal as well.

I’m stating pre-grade, but whatever the outcome this project was the most desired thing I have done during my time in the program. It obviously comes close to my stated aim to do some kind of work for NPR, and I feel I can grow a lot from that experience.

And with that, another course largely ends. Amazing how quickly these things move! I do have a mini-reflection paper to complete next week, but the “sweaty stuff” is now behind me. Do I want to see what’s coming around the corner? Hmmm, I don’t know… More later.

Job Days No. 5

Well so what I’ve usually done these in March, this is my fiefdom and I do as I please! And besides, there is some precedence, as my second such post was done in April of 2014, rather than the somewhat arbitrarily agreed-upon date of March 23 on which many of the others have fallen.

RELATED: Job Days No. 4

I’m making it now, because I have lots of reason to be evaluating my place in this job/career world. I’ve now started year five (5!) with my current employer. This means that in all likelihood, I’ve already worked there for more days than I had during my time in the Charlotte blindness workshop location, as I never quite worked a five-day week there.

As fate would have it, I’m about done working five-day weeks here as well, at least for the foreseeable future. Yeah that grad school thing? And the important sleep thing? Don’t, quite, mix. And, that is causing big problems at the workfront, as the latter wishes to take me away at wholly inopportune times, prompting intervention from substitute supervisors. I do respect that lady though, as she not only gave a verbal notification, but was also willing to listen to my challenges and help me initiate the solution, which is to downgrade to four days. I just need more time to master these massive projects coming down the line at me now.

So that’s the biggest change. Let’s take a look at how much my routine has altered since last year. In order to really capture it, I write this post prior to having reviewed the last entry. I don’t want to be influenced by the nuance, after all.

4:45: Alarm sounds, whether it is needed depends on the day (see above). Out of bed, shower, dress.
5:05: iPhone in hand to begin reading until and after departure, even on six-minute walk to bus. Had been pleasure-reading, but academics are taking a larger and larger chunk of my time. (In one book this week, for example, we have to read from pp. 1-86, and 157-198. And about seven other articles! Where is that kind of time, y’all?)
5:32: Hop onto bus and resume reading, which had stopped so that safe street crossing could be had. Continue reading for 18-minute ride to Durham Station.
5:50: Chat with other regulars, (esp person who works six days a week, often from 7 AM-9 PM, and I thought my day was long!) Bemoan hot, cold, wind, rain, whatever the flavor of the day is, until bus pulls in (hopefully on time at 6 AM).
6: Listen to podcasts as GoTriangle 700 Express Route whisks me along Durham Freeway and I-40 E with no stops, to arrive at 6:15.
6:20: Stand in increasingly long line as people attempt to clock in with newfangled (touch-ID) tech, get buzzer that says “try again!” Finally check in and walk to break room, where podcast listening recommences. Fire off arrival text to fiance, usually about having missed sleep yet again.
6:35: Read other book on Braille display till time to go in.

As far as the actual work goes, I still do the same job of packaging light sticks. I have managed to gain another order of magnitude in speed, and now can go just about as quickly as the fastest person back there. So I finally rarely get complaints about that, unless they are about how we’ve gone too quickly and thus have run out of work. It is hard to win in there!

And that’s about all. As usual, I am crossing my fingers that year five will be my last, but with the increasing depth and richness of my network, this has never seemed more likely. Let’s see if I can secure this Master’s degree first, which does appear to take some doing on my part. I’ve just got to find my feet right now, but am still ok on the whole.

So, how long have you worked with your current employer? For class, we’re reading a book by Dalton Conley called Elsewhere U.S.A, in which he proposes that job mobility has not actually changed as much as we think, and that most still work the same place for 20 years whether they like it or not. That book was written in 2008 though, and so I find it rather difficult to believe this still holds true. I think even over the last ten years, things have changed significantly. But probably more on that in an upcoming post on my audio editing fun as I attempt to create a podcast for this class. Till then, keep rockin’ and a-rollin’ and workin’ in the coal mine!