#NDEAM, From Awareness to ACTION

Welcome to October! In a year where I guess I’ll do well to post once per month, because we’re still largely living under the COVID caution flag so not much is happening. I’m anxiously watching as numbers again begin their descent, and praying that maybe this time will be for real, but with the coming holidays one never knows.
But I’m going to talk mostly in this post about National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). Or more specifically, I’ll muse on how we can begin to take that awareness and move the needle more towards action. Certainly there are big systemic barriers that make it difficult for us to overcome, but those are to a greater or lesser extent out of our control. I’ll spend most of my time thinking about that which I can control, and use an acronym of the word ACTION that popped into my head late one night. I’m especially feeling reflective as I’ve just completed my first full Jaws tutoring course with a student, the last session of which we spent talking amongst ourselves about what went well and what could use some work. I was relieved to discover that I was not the only one of the three tutors having the kinds of issues I was having, most notably ensuring that people had a basic knowledge of keyboard layout and could thus follow our instructions. Anyhow, here’s what I’ve thought of as it pertains to actions we can take to move ourselves toward a better career.
Acclimate: The first thing we need to do is to get used to the various types of technology and/or physical settings that a given line of work might require. I am not knocking manufacturing work such as that which I do, because as I’ve said before I know I’m fortunate to have it and it keeps the bills paid for many of us with disabilities. I’ve just heard via the SourceAmerica Twitter feed, (that’s the company which ultimately oversees most of these agencies that employ people with disabilities) that the number of employed blind persons has risen from 30 to 44%, largely due to such agencies. Compared to the regular population, that’s still a staggeringly low number of course. But it does mean that more of us are getting at least a basic chance to feel productive. But if you never get to experience other things, such as how to operate computers as one might in an office setting, then basic is what you are likely to be limited to. As the environment changes rapidly these days, having and augmenting any skill sets becomes more important.
Create: To do this, one has to first create a plan. How will I get said experiences. What do I think I might wanna do? What can I already do. I hope that I’m helping others in my own workplace to do this by so-called tutoring them, and of course it has the byproduct of helping me also as I have to really learn the ins and outs of Jaws and commonly used programs as well.
Translate: Once the plan is created, you have to take the most important step of turning those ideas into concrete action steps. This is the part where I usually get lost, and it is helping me tremendously to have a sort of mentor (the Workplace Development Specialist) who is willing to withstand all of my uncertainties and continue to gently propel me in the right direction. I hope it’s starting to pay off, and especially as I now have my new laptop rockin’ and rollin’. Even my writing may not be entirely done for, as this past Saturday I blew the dust off of my NaNoWriMo manuscript and have gotten to work on editing it. I hope to continue the story once I’m caught up and can remember what all it was about. Hey, I guess I can do it for the next NaNo, which is about to start in November.
Initiative: Anyhow, one is most able to carry out the action steps if one can find that initiative to persist through whatever. I’m starting to, finally, as I’ve also restarted attempts to take the 508 Trusted Tester Certification course online so that I might attain an accessibility position. Clearly I’m not sure exactly what I am going to do, but I know that whatever I choose will require a lot of drive.
Opportunity/Networking: I’m going to combine the last two, because of course they are related. If ever I do figure out exactly what I want to do, then I must both seek opportunities and try to get to know some people in the field in order to make them happen. This is usually the most difficult part for those of us with disabilities, s it can be hard to just convince people that our own knowledge, along with reasonable accommodations and massive advances in technology, mean that we can now do a wide variety of jobs as well as anyone else. I would never say I can do “everything,” but of course none of us can realistically do everything. It takes all of us doing different things to make the world go round, after all, so that’s perfectly fine.
So those are my thoughts as we move through this month of trying to increase employment for those of us with disabilities. Awareness is important, but I think that taking tentative but true steps toward fulfilment is even more helpful. And hopefully we’ll reach a day when writing these kinds of posts won’t even be necessary, because everyone is easily able to gain access to whatever avenue best fits their talents and matches how they wish to spend their time.

Come To My Window(s) On My Return to the Microsoft PC

After a little over 4 years and much thought, I have decided to return to my roots and re-acquire a Windows machine. I guess I am not, in fact, a Mac Daddy after all. For starters I’ve rarely used the Mac since completing grad school in 2017, though I credit it with helping me to survive that program and do pretty well with it. But especially as I’m working to tutor someone at work on Jaws for Windows, a screen-reading program from Freedom Scientific, I am realizing that I just am not productive on that platform.
Now, I am not one to “blame” the Mac per se. I am aware that a lot of my lack of productivity has to do with my own inadequate knowledge on how to get the most out of said computer. But I think that if I have something I am comfortable with, then perhaps I’ll get back to writing as well as learning some of the stuff regarding accessibility that could present me with real advancement opportunities within my employer. So I think this transition is worthwhile.
I received my new Dell Inspiron laptop this past Tuesday, after the post office ingloriously left it sitting right in front of our door in plain view. I was glad that it got there at 4:15 and I arrived only a couple minutes later. Excitedly I extracted it and its cables from the box, plugged the cable into the machine and whacked the on button. And… nothing. Do you see the problem here? Because I sure didn’t at first.
“Is this thing on?” I said as I fired up the Seeing AI app to try and gauge whether anything was displayed on the screen. Then I spent the next thirty minutes railing at Windows for not having made the installation process accessible, as I thought it would be by this point. I finally shut it down till Friday.
As I pulled it back out to review the issue, I first asked myself if the correct cord was plugged into the PC. How could it not be? But wait… is the other end of the plug in the surge protector! The answer to ath was no. I fixed that, whacked the power button again, and Cortana immediately began chattering at me. “…if you need screen-reader assistance, press Control+Windows Key+Enter.” I sheepishly did as told and was off for the races. Never forget, try the simplest thing when nothing else works.
And now I have most things set up as I want them. I’ve also gotten the Jaws Home Annual License, which I’m glad to see they offer in lieu of their $1,000 perpetual license. I just love having the feeling that I really know what I’m doing with this thing, and I can again have easy access to some of my favorite games and an easy-to-use Twitter app. I’ve also spent more time in the chair my wife got for me this past Christmas in the last two days than I had otherwise, combined. So I hope this thing takes me onward and upward, toward great places. More soon.

LABOR DAY: The Grind Continues

Happy Labor Day! As I like to say, this is the one holiday where you are supposed to relax and just take it off. Of course I say that knowing full well that not everyone gets to take it, as stores, restaurants, movie theaters and other businesses continue to operate. But hopefully many at least get off early or have a day of relatively light traffic.

I know that most of my posts of late have been jobs-related, but that aspect has been the most salient for me as uncertainty continues during this period.

Thankfully, I am still working at my job. I guess I didn’t write about it in my last such update, perhaps because it wasn’t happening yet, but now in addition to the afore-mentioned Employee Resource Group, I am tutoring an individual in JAWS for Windows, the computer program used by many blind and low vision people to hear on-screen text spoken aloud. I have sort of done this before, way back in 2016 when working with a blind individual to acquire basic email and internet skills, but as I’m not really a teacher it’s challenging for me. My “student” insists that he is learning something, and the Workforce Development Specialist at our employer keeps “kicking me in the butt” to keep me going. I know I need this, if I am ever going to really advance. I of course also need to get some real training and a certification in this area myself to really take it to the next level, which is what I think she very much has in mind.

Even as I work to advance myself in this area, I am exploring other possibilities which I will go more into should anything come of them. But let’s just say that I’ve learned a thing or two about persistence as I worked to file applications on sites that are, to greater and lesser extent, accessible. One of the reasons I’m being forced to rethink what I am doing and where is changing transportation needs. My wife had been taking me to and from work faithfully for the entire time I’ve been back during the pandemic. But her job has now changed. This means she definitely can’t take me home everyday, and fortunately the bus line I need to bring me back to the Cary bus depot is still available. It also means that taking me in the morning is tougher, as our schedules don’t exactly line up. Sadly, that morning bus no longer runs, and the door-to-door service I use says they do not have available drivers at the time I’d need, arriving by 7 A.M. Like everywhere else, they’re suffering from driver and other staffing shortages. So it’s a hard problem for me to solve without spending a truckload of cash each day. I do not yet know what the answer is.

On the whole though, life is trending upward in exciting ways. I’m enjoying what’s left of this summer and my 42nd year of life (I’m turning 42 next Monday but that means I will have completed 42 years). I’m happy and finally healthier, as I worked out that the biggest issue behind my heart rate acceleration was that I wasn’t consuming enough water. Since I’ve corrected that, blessed relief and much better sleep have occurred. Small changes, but ones that required me to listen fully to my body. I hope all is well in your corner too, and will be back with more soon.

On Job Changes, and What To Do Next

I’m suddenly finding myself in the same place that many have during this pandemic: with a rapidly changing job situation. Shipment and order slow-downs have led management to do something they hadn’t in the entire nearly eight years I’ve been there, downshift most departments to four days a week until further notice. Only one area is still working at 5 days, because they tend to have a lot of demand.

So as this new landscape unfurls, I am more than ever considering what other kinds of things I can do. The most likely answer, of course, is some kind of freelance writing But how to get paid for it?

I have been reviewing books for Reedsy Discovery for almost a year now, though admittedly my new selections from their catalog have dropped off of late. This is because I am putting more time into my GoodReads profile, in the hopes that I can get a site like NetGalley to allow me to review titles before they are published, the way a burgeoning reviewer really makes his mark. To that end, I have and will continue to review every book I read for the rest of 2021.

While I enjoy reviews, I know they’re not likely to be the true moneymaker I’ll need to generate enough income to at least supplement that which I get from the job. So I’ve tried to sign up for a big freelance site and app called Fiverr. I find it somewhat difficult to navigate though, and wonder if they just have layered-on accessibility without making sure that the underlying structure really works for blind folks. So I’m about to start googling around to see what if any other ideas might exist. Too bad my music site gig from a couple years ago no longer works, as that was as easy as pumping out 1000-word narratives and getting the 50 bucks on the other end.

I guess not all has been iffy on the job front though, as I am participating in what we call Employee Resource Groups (ERG’s). My group is LC (I)mpact (cute name, right?) Anyway, our job is to help LCI connect with its internal and external communities more effectively. For me, this means I’m getting to flex my writing muscle a bit as I generated the campaign that I presented throughout the plant to drum up interest and try to get people to tell their stories of volunteerism through written and audio interviews. I would like this aspect to continue, as I need the experience in both of those areas.

Have you made any significant job changes during this pandemic? What kind of side hustle do you have going, and is it proving to be lucrative. I saw somewhere that a record of new startups were created last year, as people are moving into other areas either because they are forced to or just having been locked in made them see things in a different light.

Local Reporter Writes Interesting Novel

Given that today is Labor Day, one that many (though I’m aware not all) of us have off, I thought it would be fun to highlight a book that examines another career: that of news reporting. Few other professions result in us feeling that we “know” a person more than that of one who covers events big and small and brings them into our living rooms via TV and internet-connected screens.

So as it happened, I came across a book by Amanda Lamb, a crime reporter for WRAL News. The story, called Dead Last, follows Maddie Arnette, who had also been a crime reporter but moved into features reporting where she profiles silly animal stories after her husband’s death.

As it opens, Maddie just happens to see a woman collapse onto the ground while running the Oak City Marathon. I should note that the story takes place in the North Carolina Triangle, though the towns are given fictional names. Anyone from this area will enjoy pondering which real towns most closely fit the descriptions given.

Maddie’s story becomes a lot more complicated as she entangles herself with the woman, Suzanne, after visiting her in the hospital. It turns out that Suzanne is afraid for her life as she fears her husband, who is a well-liked doctor but may also have a dark side, is attempting to kill her. Maddie feels that she should not become involved, especially as serious questions arise about the veracity of Suzanne’s story, but her own background with domestic violence (she lost a mother to it) compels er to at least assist Suzanne in discerning the truth.

I liked many elements in this story, but my favorite parts involved what life was like as a news reporter. Maddie makes one statement that floored me, as it hit so specifically close to home. I’m paraphrasing here, as finding the exact quote in the audiobook (narrated by the author as it were) would be difficult: Sometimes I feel like being a reporter is like being an assembly line worker, packing sticks into a box and throwing them onto a conveyor belt. Well anyone who has followed this blog knows that this is exactly what I do, box sticks and throw them onto a belt. So that thought made me chuckle.

I also laughed at the references to 70’s-era detective shows that we see in her inside cop friend, and as previously noted at the names given to the book’s towns. For example, Oak city? Well Raleigh, our state capital, is also known as the city of oaks.

These moments of levity aside, the book tackles serious topics in a way that really makes one think. How do we decide whom and when to believe as potentially dangerous situations unfold. How do we define friendship, and what happens when we feel we and our profession might be used in ways we don’t want.

Lamb has written nine books, mostly about true crime, but this is her first novel. She says, as the subtitle “A Maddie Arnette Novel” indicates, that this will be part of a series with the second book in editing and the third already underway. So we can look forward to more of this deeply introspective and powerful character. The entire story is told from her first-person point of view, lending a depth to it that might not have come otherwise. I would recommend checking it out, and especially Lamb’s audio narration as she of course knows how and why Maddie responds in certain ways. I mean how many other news reporters do you know who have written novels too?
RELATED: Job Days No. 7: Work in the Time of Covid

Meanwhile, Back At The Plant: The end of my 72-day quarantine

THE CALL finally came that Tuesday after Memorial Day. No surprise, really, as I expected upon North Carolina’s entry into Phase 2 of Covid recovery (if one can call a record-breaking 1,000 cases a day a recovery. It’s got me terrified, truthfully). Anyhow, I knew my time relaxing and hiding inside would draw to an end soon.

The number originated from the Hazelhurst, Ms. Branch of my employer, so I initially didn’t take the call. “Hello, this is a message from LCI for John Miller about coming to work.” So, I tapped the number, returned the call, and affirmed hat I would return on Monday June 1.

After discussing it with my wife for a time, we decided that at least for the time being it would be easiest if she takes me in and picks me up, when possible, because as noted in a previous entry dealing with public transit or Go Cary Door-to-Door presents a number of challenges in this environment. And honestly it’s working out a lot better for me, as I can wake 40 minutes later and depart the apartment only 20 minutes before my 7 AM shift begins. I could actually wake even later if I wanted, but I like having a little time to quickly check out podcasts and news as I get ready.

So the first week has ended now, and mostly it went well. Monday was long, as I had to re-remember how I get through the day without music or books except on breaks. And without being able to take the random nap, which was a little problematic that first day as my still-recouping gums let me feel not pain really, but a little pressure. The least fun part was wearing that mask for eight hours. My nose was stinging by day’s end, as I had breathed so much air into my own face. I know it is absolutely necessary to wear it though, and washed my hands whenever possible along with sanitizer when too far away from a sink. I certainly do not want the ‘rona, and don’t want to pass it onto my coworkers either, if I can help it.

The only glitch in this week occurred on Wednesday, when I awoke to a non-functioning right-side hearing aid. It started working after an hour or so, sort of, but I knew that it was still time to get both aids retuned. I’m amazed they’d gone a year and a half without requiring service, definitely far better than I got out of my previous aids, but they usually need to be tended to as soon as the heat and humidity arrive.

Covid protocol meant that I had to give the aids to the office receptionist, who came out to the car to collect them, then sit there for 20 minutes in silence while they were repaired. But as usual, when they were returned to me I marveled at how much louder and clearer everything was. The changes in hearing level are so subtle that they can go unnoticed until corrected.

And for the most part, that makes up the news of my return to work. Nothing groundbreaking really, but the week was nice in the sense that I felt great each workday, even managing to get enough sleep to be functional. That time off definitely helped me to get my health back in order, and for that first week at least, I reaped the benefits. Let’s hope this continues, and I sure hope that sometime soon my state, the nation, and the world can begin to find the path to healing that 2020 so badly needs.

Job Days No. 3

Well, it amazes me to look up and realize that I’m already about a quarter of the way through year three at Durham’s LC Industries, my current place of employment. I guess I’ve made it something of a habit, mostly for my own records, to take an annual look at how things are going, and whether I’m making any progress towards where I would like to be. The last two evaluations have been at about this time of year as well, so I figured why not go for it?

First, I ask myself if my morning routine has altered any. It’s amusing to ponder how small changes here and there slowly turn into something quite different from what was, isn’t it?

  • 4:15: Alarm rings, I spend another three minutes checking email on the phone and coming up with every other conceivable thing to view to keep myself wrapped in those warm covers.
  • 4:20: I grudgingly roll out of bed, find clothes, and totter into the warm shower stream. Usually, too-loud singing commences and mingles with the sound of falling water that is largely undetectable to my unaided ears.
  • 4:35: Dressed and with socks on, I plug the phone into my table speakers and rock out to either Pandora, or increasingly, our local stations on TuneIn Radio. I like Pandora, but they tend to play the same stuff too often sometimes.
  • 4:45: After banging dishes around, I make a bowl of cereal, sometimes getting the kernels and droplets of milk onto the tabletop as well. Hey, I wasn’t built to function this early in the morning!
  • 4:57: I scramble around in the fridge to see if there are any sandwich products available, either Bologna and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, (crunchy, gotta be crunchy!). If the former, I have to make a concerted effort to remember not to leave the opened jar of mayonnaise on the counter. Man, I’ve lost at least 12 nearly full jars that way. (Refer to earlier bit regarding morning person status).
  • 5:08: Brush teeth while dancing to a tune in the living room, attempt not to actually sing while so doing as choking on toothpaste would probably not be a good idea.
  • 5:15: Out the door, on way to bus stop. I’ve gotten considerably better at crossing the street now as I know there will almost always be a point when it is totally quiet.
  • 5-35: Step aboard, while engaging random passengers in groggy conversation. I guess more and more people have come to know me with time.
  • 6: Catch second bus, fire off texts and more email with the Braille display as we whizz down the highway, and try to mentally prepare myself for the day.
  • 6:30: Arrive in break room, where I read till the bell rings, calling me to my station around 7 AM.

I guess the biggest difference is that I now make lunch nearly every day. I’m not sure if that helps or hinders me though, as once 12 PM rolls around and that stuff is being digested, I usually have to overcome some pretty powerful waves of sleepiness.

Now onto what I do in there. I still work in Light Sticks, packing ten to a box and vaulting them onto a conveyor belt as I had last year. Master Locks has pretty much reopened now, but I assume I will not return to that department and will just remain where I am for however long I stay at this organization. I’ve sped my production up about four times as compared to where I was, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be as dexterous as the true fliers back there. I guess that’s ok, as long as I no longer have people having to swarm around me nearly all day in order to ensure that my bin doesn’t get too far behind the others. It took me a while to understand the innerconnectedness of that whole area and just what was expected from me, but I think I’ve made pretty good strides nonetheless.

And so the final question: what am I doing to prepare for some other career opportunity. Well, still kind of trying to figure that out actually. I continue to learn and grow as President of the Norrie Disease Association, and especially in attempting to plan for our Third International Conference coming this August. (It’s harder than it looks! So many different things to juggle.) I have had a few at least semi-accomplishments though: successfully contacting two potential speakers/panel participants, getting initial info on a tour of the Perkins School for the Blind, and working with other board members to sort out registration challenges. It’s fun, dynamic, and definitely something that I think could help me down the road. Maybe I’ll work for a nonprofit in some capacity, who knows. I’m chewing on that…

So overall, I think things are going as good as could be hoped for. I’m used to just going in here and doing what I have to do, five days a week, and continuing to work on myself in other ways wherever possible. Still trying to fully sit back and enjoy the ride! Always appreciative of those who support me in doing this in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.

Preparatory Thoughts

In pondering the next few days, I am inspired by a couple of my good blogger friends. I will mention them when referring to what they have said that so inspires me.

So here we are yet again, having arrived at that time of year when things either will or won’t change. Grad school? Some new way into my desired career? I’m still not entirely sure, but I do think long and hard about it as I jam light sticks into the packs each day.

Last week, I had a job evaluation. The supervisor concluded that I have indeed improved in nearly every area, and especially in speed of packaging and quality of the final product. These areas of growth didn’t necessarily occur passively, but rather I had to generate some active strategies to cut down on wasted time and still maintain or increase efficiency. I believe that these strategies will be useful for me wherever I end up.

I posted about this on Facebook, and some suggested that I should just make sure not to settle or even be too entirely pleased with my current situation. Well there is some truth to that, but I believe that in order to get what we want, we have to work hard on taking a more positive inclination to our lives. I’m telling myself this more than anyone else, because I’ve never been particularly good at doing so. I can gain something useful from this little job, if only that I can pay rent, travel, and get the stuff, especially iPhone and accessory-related, that continue to enhance my independence.

I’ve been pondering this since reading Amy Juicebox’s post What I’m Thankful For after their Canadian Thanksgiving celebration. Thanksgiving, MMM food! Anyway, I’ll try not to think about that just yet, as while it will mean bountiful food, it will also portend the beginning of the real cold months.

Second, I dove-tail a bit off of Natasha Ramsey’s post entitled Passion? Do I know what it is? Do you? Boy am I ever trying to figure this out! I posed this question to my Twitter followers once: does everyone have at least one thing that they’re good at? If so, how do we find it. I’m not really sure if I can move on until I do, but then how will I find it if I don’t actually move on. It’s the old chicken and egg problem.

I’m hoping to get some kind of momentum by attending the Thorpe-Mitchell Diversity Scholarship dinner this Thursday. I had won this scholarship while in grad school, which then led me to meet Dr. Brenda Mitchell, the person I considered my mentor. It’s been far too long since I last spoke with her, mainly because I have so little time outside of employment to venture over to the University of North Carolina. So, it will be nice to catch up with her and the rest of those folks, and I’ll try not to get too down on myself based on my current situation.

The thing is, they want us to speak to the audience about where we’re going and how the scholarship may have ultimately helped us get there. I know what people have to say regarding my possibly returning to grad school and largely agree. Have I thoroughly considered other options? Will I be financially prepared. Well, I hope so. Very tentatively starting conversations with people about Master’s programs in either Communication Studies or Journalism. As far as I know, grad school is still my best chance to make more happen. And the thing for which I feel the gratest passion is this thing I’m doing right now: writing/blogging. So, I’d like to take a shot at making something happen with that. As I learned last time, you may as well not even mess with grad school unless you’re going to be able to find that drive! So, we’ll see. Still a long way to go before I know what will happen.

I suspect I will post a bit about my experience at this scholarship dinner. I think it’s pretty cool that I was even still invited. How do you feel about your current job/career? Is it anywhere near your passion, assuming you’ve figured out what that is?

The Real Deal 5: Show Over, What Next

For many, the show doesn’t end till Saturday, July 19. But my time is up on Wednesday the 16, a day I haven’t been looking forward to.

I have to think that I have come up with the most ingenius packing solution ever. I’d just taken all of my clothes out on arrival, and put each outfit back into the bag once I was done wearing it. Thus, really nothing to do prior to departure but make sure I’ve collected all newly acquired goods and found somewhere to squeeze them in. It wouldn’t do to forget my $50 Bluetooth speaker!

I’d set the alarm as a precautionary measure, but don’t need it. I am awake by 6:15, and out of the door in an hour. In the elevator vestibule back on the main floor, I meet two of the most well-known individuals in the ACB who assist me to the check-out desk. We take an outdoor shortcut that I wish I’d known about earlier.

As soon as I turn in my keys, I step outside to find that my super shuttle vehicle is already there. It is only 7:40 and they aren’t actually due to pick me up till 8. I think a couple of others join us as well, and so it takes a minute to get everything stowed and all inside. Soon enough though, we bid the Riviera Hotel adieu and head back towards McCarran International Airport.

Despite having had several flights without being tagged due to an expired ID, I am not surprised when they call me asaide for this issue again as they had in Raleigh. It seems like once that cat is out of the bag, it won’t be put back in. So, I must in fact do something about it now, a truth that is proving harder to rectify than it should. The darn DMV isn’t really open in a way that accommodates working people! All of the other three-letter acronymed government agencies probably don’t like me either. It will be dealt with eventually, somehow.

In any event, I am far less rattled this time by being subjected to a more aggressive security apparatus. I am mostly relieved that I will indeed get to depart Las Vegas. I had started to contemplate how I would get an apartment, job, etc there. Kidding, I think.

My flight departs at 9:30, and so by the time all of that is done I have only to stand at my gate for 10 minutes while waiting for a flight attendant to run over from a just-landed plane so we can have a full crew. I should’ve recorded the silliness of those attendants. I think her name is Sally, and she has us all laughing from the second she starts talking.

I also talk to my seat mate, an older woman who says she had been a real estate broker, but retired since 1980 to travel the world. Can I get that job? She also states that her husband wears hearing aids as wel, having lost his hearing due to age. They live in a small town outside of San Francisco, and have traveled from SFO to RDU, where they will then be driven to an NC town called Reidsville to meet family. I’ve heard of this place, but never been there.

Once airborne, I have three bags of peanuts, a pack of cheese crackers, two bags of chocolate chip cookies, and some kind of delicious chips. Fear not though, I don’t actually eat all of that while onboard. I just stash some of it in my tote for consumption later. I opt to purchase WiFi, because it is a 4 and a half hour flight and my phone is at 99% charge. I was most wanting to hear the NLS Talking Books narrator speak during ACB General Session, so I scrambled to get the WiFi set up and hoped perhaps they’d be slightly delayed as they usually are. Only this time, she seems to have spoken on time! Bah, I missed it.

Not much else of substance happens.
After flying around some “weather” we arrive more or less on time.

“In the airline industry,” Sally begins as soon as we touch down: “many say that landings are like a box of chocolates. Ya never know what you’re gonna get. Wouldn’t you say that one was coconut cream?” This drew clapping from the cabin.

Bladder mercifully emptied inside of the airport restroom, I head downstairs to await the unnerving bag reclamation process. I really start to fear that mine will not arrive, as it is just about the last to come trundling through, but finally it does show up.

At this point, the time change already begins to descend upon me like a wave. Still, I choose to catch the bus back home and save more dough. While waiting, I meet an individual who says he has flown in from Seattle and is barely remaining upright too.

And that is pretty much the meat of my trip. I’ve spent most of my summer counting down to it, and now that it has come and gone I’m not sure how else to remain motivated. The first couple of working days back, Thursday and Friday, were excruciating, especially as we’d run out of our normal work and were doing some other blah task. I finally started to adapt on Friday afternoon though, and did better with it today. Still it has me feeling, lonely? somewhat depressed? I just don’t know. Needing to move on! But trying desperately to figure out where to. We shall see. More whenever there are new developments.

I definitely enjoyed my time at convention and the people I hung out with, friends new and old. Thank you for a nice time.

A Crazy Workday’s End

This post is kind of an extension of what I’ve already put in my Facebook status. Monday fun day? It had been a pretty good one until…

It’s about 2:25. I’m keeping myself awake with the many thoughts buzzing through my head regarding preparation for my coming trip, plans once I get out of there today, and the like. And keeping myself awake is an effort, as I’ve managed only about two hours of sleep the night before. I still get wound up like a kid when pondering travel!

Eventually, maybe five minutes later, I start to smell something. Because of my 2007 experience with a fairly significant fire, it takes no time at all for my nose to identify it as the first toxic whiffs of something burning.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if the fire alarm starts chirping shortly,” I think to myself. If only I’d had the good sense to sling my bag onto my shoulders and place cane in lap while I continued working, which I could have done.

Sure enough, “deet, deet, deet”.

Naturally, one’s first instinct in that situation, even if one thinks it is a drill, is to just jump out of the chair and make a beeline for the nearest exit. This gut reaction is tripled when there is already an acrid smell in the air. Part of my mind, the asleep part, says don’t worry about taking a half second to grab your stuff. It’ll probably just be a drill anyway.

It wasn’t.

I grab an arm as it hurtles by, and we shoot a good ways across the factory floor, into another vestibule, and finally outside. This is why they suggest that totally blind individuals get assistance in a fire situation, because we don’t use the routes we’re used to. Given that, I left not only my trusty, much-needed cane, but also my bag behind.

Out into the blazing sun, where everyone milled about chattering and awaiting that eventual all-clear that usually comes. 2:45, 2:53, 3:00, and 3:15 pass. Quitting time is 3:20.

“Ok,” one of the supervisors pipes up as we draw near to that time, “they’re not letting us back in because the smoke is too thick. Anyone who can still leave, please consult with a supervisor to get a ride to the other side of the plant where all buses will gather. If your stuff is inside, you’ll have to wait. I’m in the same position, as I’ve left my keys in there!”

I and a couple others groaned, knowing we would miss the 3:30 departure of the 700 bus to Durham Station. It was even worse for the individuals who needed to meet paratransit. I think the supervisors agreed to take them home.

Fortunately, I suppose, not much else happens. I guess the fire folks just gathered up all of the items we wanted and brought them out to be reclaimed by about 4. They inform us that the smoke is so thick we may not be able to go in tomorrow either, and so I’ll have to check that before attempting to catch the bus. The biggest issue while waiting is the intense sunshine, causing every part of me to go bone dry.

All things considered though, it could have been a lot worse. I don’t know what may have caused the fire, and wonder also why it took a good 5-8 minutes after I smelled it for the alarms to kick in. Perhaps we’re gonna need to speed that time up a bit. And despite the inconvenience caused by doing it, I still believed I made the correct decision to skidaddle rather than gathering my things, especially as I hadn’t done so when I first noticed something amiss. I can replace those, but I can’t replace me!

Definitely not the plan I had for today, but that’s how life works sometimes. Now I’ll suck down this pizza and not feel guilty about it, and then it’s outside to read. I guess I can say never take a moment, a thought, a breath, for granted. For things can change before you even know it.