Housekeepers and Cooks

Memorial Day, 2017 and it has been raining off and on for all three days of the holiday weekend. Right now it is ‘on’ and raining hard.

I have been taking the opportunity to do some other things. For example, I pulled out all of the furniture in the sunroom and ‘really’ cleaned. All the while I was doing that I was listening to the latest Jeffery Deaver book, The Burial Hour. Good ‘read’. Love my BARD.

I also wrote the questions for the review game for DBT class. Wednesday is the last day of distress tolerance and we go right into mindfulness. Get ready for more ‘thoughtful insights’! Ha!😎

And in other news, I have done some very basic cooking. Gasp!

If you have been following along you know some basic and not always flattering things about me. For example, I am a slob. Also, if God wanted me to cook, He would not have invented restaurants! Domestic goddess? Not me!

While I am not planning on retiring (and as of last week, no one was planning on letting me go! Praise be!), I am cognizant the time is coming I will be home with time on my hands. Also, on a budget that may not allow regular restaurant meals. Maybe it is time to practice (how about start to develop?) my culinary skills!

To that end – and also for a page! – I came upon what looks like a nifty little web site. The title of the site is BlindHow. This thing has links to other sites with cute little monikers like Cooking Without Looking and The Blind Chef.

But the site also has other stuff. There are links to just about every practical skill you can think of. Shopping? Laundry? Personal finance? They have links.

Speaking of audiobooks as I did above, I found a link entitled 91 places for free audiobooks online. If you do not quite qualify for BARD, you could probably find an audiobook site that is not as ‘exclusive’. La di da.

The site also has links to information on movies with ‘descriptive audio’. From what I gather, this is a system aiming to keep the blind guy in the back of the theater from asking “what’s happening now?!?!” in all of the suspenseful or sexy parts of the film when everything has gone quiet.

Anyway, following a link, I found a site called MoPix and sponsored by the Media Access Group. They have a list of about a dozen movie theater chains in the US offering headphones and devices that will allow you to access the description apparently embedded on certain flicks. The list of those was pretty long, too. [Lin/Linda here:  I found this link that says that MoPix has shut down. Their Facebook page had no recent posts. Sorry.]

I would volunteer to go and check it out for you but our local movie chain is on a short list of chains that do NOT offer the service. (Did you notice the local paper was not available over the phone either? What the…..?)

Oh, but if you don’t have cooperative local providers (dig, dig), the American Council for the Blind sells ALL of the DVD and Blu-ray discs manufactured with descriptive video since 1997. Do you need any special equipment? Not sure. Links for some of the movies take you right back to Amazon. I did not see a special offering of DVD with audio descriptions but I am legally blind; remember? May have looked right over it. [Lin/Linda here:  I do not think that you need special equipment for DVDs & Blu-ray disks but check here first to be sure regarding particular devices. ]

Anyhow, BlindHow looks like a winner. Problem is, it probably just took away all my arguments for a housekeeper and a cook! Dang. Continue reading “Housekeepers and Cooks”

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Yesterday’s News

Good morning! Lin just shared a video clip from something that looked like a local TV, health program. The clip was on geographic atrophy. That is GA to those in the know.

I have no problem with information being shared with the public. In fact, I think it is a good thing. The more exposure we get and the more noise we make I am hoping two things will happen. One would be law makers (read the deep pockets of government) will be more aware and sympathetic to our plight. (They might also come to realize it is going to cost BIG bucks to care for us!) The other will be people who have AMD will become more knowledgeable and go for help and support.

There are some drawbacks to these little TV presentations, though. For one, they are a bit behind the curve when it comes to breaking new news. The show talked about a fantastic, recent development that would help people with GA.

Fantastic? OK. Helpful? Yep. Recent? Only if you consider research published in 2013 to be recent.   So shoot me. I am an information snob. That information was just too yesterday’s news for me.

I also think they present half information. If you listen to the clip you will hear the expert talk about a ‘subset’ of patients who cannot be helped with current treatments. Not to put too fine a point on this – and look out because I can feel myself getting ready to rant! – but, honey, the group that can be helped with current treatments is the subset! 15% of AMD patients ‘go wet’. The 85% of us who are left are not the subset! (Told you I was going to rant!)

In the clip there is the implication that replacing RPEs will restore sight. We have talked about this a dozen times before. In GA the photoreceptors are dead. There is no sight without photoreceptors. The RPEs are support cells for the photoreceptors. They do not do any of the ‘seeing’.

But my big complaint about this clip? The expert says your world ‘ends’ when you develop GA!!! (Now I am really revving up. Head for the storm cellar!)

With every significant loss, there is a time of dismay and distress. That does not mean the end of your world! Everyone of us here is made of tougher stuff than you could ever have believed. Maybe you have never been tested before, but the steel is there.

Today I taught my class. I attended a staff meeting and saw two clients. Then I came home, walked the dog and made a meal. I am now writing this page. After that I have a psych report to write. Then maybe some down time ‘reading’ a BARD book.

Tomorrow I work, walk with a friend and go to my yoga class. I am making plans to go into New York City with a co-worker next month. The list goes on.

In short, if my world ended a year and a half ago, nobody bothered to tell me about it! I am still going pretty much full tilt!

So, bottom line? I guess it would be listen to the stuff in the media but remember it might not be accurate or current. Once again, caveat emptor. Best sources still remain published research. If you cannot read it or cannot understand it, ask Lin or me to look at it and we can tell you we don’t understand it either!

And about that end of the world business? Don’t believe everything you hear! GA is not a walk in the park. However, if you want to, you can still do that and dozens of other things as well.

Continue reading “Yesterday’s News”

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Get Your Magazines

Not quite sure what I did with myself before I had an iPad. After making pancakes for breakfast, playing in the snow and helping my husband dig out – again – I went searching online. One thing I discovered was this: I love National Geographic magazine more than I thought I did.

The reason is pretty simple. Being at loose ends, I had rummaged through a pile of magazines and wished it were easier to actually READ them. Just for crap and giggles, I went online and discovered National Geographic print magazine subscribers get FREE digital access. Yippee!

It was fairly easy. I went to the support center and typed my question. What came up was a question from a subscriber asking how he could read more than one article online at a time. The site gave two ‘click here’s. One was USA and Canada and the other one was the rest of you guys.

They ask for your mailing address and your email address. They also ask for the subscription number. The subscription number is on the address card that comes with the magazine. It is the number directly above your name. You create a password and you are in. Easy peasy.

The site does zoom. Score! Once it was zoomed in I had some problems scrolling and also had some incidents of the ever delightful flying off the page, but all in all, not too bad. Better than not having Nat Geo. The photos are even better on the iPad if that could be possible. Also, no more nasty glare from the glossy paper reflecting the light on the CCTV.

I started searching for other magazines that offer the same service but did not have a lot of luck. My other subscriptions are Nat Geo Traveler and Reader’s Digest. Traveler would be assumed to have the same offer because it is a Nat Geo product. Maybe. Didn’t actually check. Reader’s Digest did not seem to have the same service. Pooh. At least I could not find it and that one I did look.  [Lin/Linda:  A Reader’s Digest subscription does give you both print and digital version. With National Geographic Traveler, you can get a digital only subscription or print only or both.]

Reader’s Digest disturbed me even more when I discovered they are not available for free on BARD. Both Nat Geo and Nat Geo Traveler are represented in audio format. Good people the National Geographic Society.

If you are able to get BARD and like magazines, check out the listing. There are several dozen there. They are not necessarily right up to date but pretty close. I found February, 2017 and this is mid-March.

BARD has Playboy in audio. Apparently there are guys out there who really do get the magazine for the articles. 😎

Better yet, they also have Playboy in BRAILLE! I do not want to know what that is all about! My imagination is running away from me as it is!

If you subscribe to a print magazine and would like online access, check it out and let us know how you make out. There are certainly others that offer free access online. Especially if you find Reader’s Digest, let me know.

And if you work for Reader’s Digest and don’t offer free access? Shame on you! Continue reading “Get Your Magazines”

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In a Pig’s Eye

About three hours later and the ‘tapering’ snowstorm is not tapering. Anyone ever read ‘Ghost Story’ by Peter Straub? It scared my socks off on a summer day. On a day like today I would probably be quivering under the covers!

In ‘Ghost Story’ it starts to snow. They cannot keep the roads open and it snows. The electricity goes out and it snows. The phones go out and it snows. Eventually some smart soul figures out there is a malevolent force at work in this small, New York town. Yipes!

‘Ghost Story’ is on page 3 of the Gs in BARD. It is available as an audiobook on Amazon for $17.95. If you are still able to read print, you can get it used for about ⅕ of that price.

Another way to scare your socks off? ‘Turn of the Screw’ by Henry James. This one is a classic and free on Kindle. It is on page 15 of the Ts in BARD.

I will vouch for them both as excellent reads. Anyone else have any recommendations they would like to share? Just because we cannot see so well, doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy a good book. Since we like to think of our group as a cut above, try to avoid recommending trashy novels.  Although for a whole series of semi-trashy novels I would recommend the ‘….in Death’ series by J.D. Robb, also available on BARD.😀 [Lin/Linda: one of my favorites, too, but I don’t think I’d call it ‘trashy’ but definitely R-rated.   Click here for the list in order of publication date.  They’re available at amazon.com, too.  Click here for the first one ‘Naked In Death’.]

Anyway, that was NOT the way I was going to start this page. Not the topic either. I just looked outside and found it all a bit surreal. We are approaching an accumulation of two feet. Not much for some other places but impressive for Pennsylvania.

What I was going to do was tell you about “in a pig’s eye” and how the phrase now has a new meaning. For our international friends, “in a pig’s eye” is an old American expression that implies disbelief. It is the antiquated version of “No way!”

Now, they are finding a way to study drusen in a pig’s eye. Well, actually in a culture medium in which they have placed retinal ‘pig’-ment epithelium cells. (Alright, so it was corny, but I couldn’t resist.) They have found out that pig RPEs are similar in many ways to human RPEs. They have discovered the RPEs in early AMD are actually still functioning and the Bruch’s membrane may have more of a part in the process than previously believed.

This should just be the first of many good discoveries to come out of the pig’s eye experiments. Because they are now able to do a lot of manipulations of pig RPEs being grown in cultures, research can go faster. A lot faster than it would go trying to get people to have all these manipulations done on THEIR eyes.

So there is ever increasing hope here. When you tell people there is a bright future for AMD folks and they say “in a pig’s eye!”, your response can now be “Exactly!”

Keep on keeping on. There is hope.

Now could somebody stop this snow? Enough is enough already! Continue reading “In a Pig’s Eye”

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Can An Old Dog Learn Braille?

A reader made a suggestion I could learn Braille. At first it sounded sort of fanciful. I am 63 years old and she wants this old dog to learn new tricks! I am sure it is REALLY hard. I am sure it will take me FOREVER.

Then I thought I should practice what I preach. Turn the mind and be willing. I could at least look into it….besides, it is good for a page and I am running out of ideas. Anyone else out there willing to share? I could use a little more, wonderful help like we got from Lara, Jennifer, Rick and Andrea.

VisionAware has a page on All About Braille. They tell us Louis Braille invented the system in France in the mid-1800s. Braille ‘cells’ are made up of two columns of three rows. Each letter and symbols is made up of a pattern of one or more dots.

The letter ‘s’ is dots in the second column-first row, 1-2 and 1-3. U is 1-1, 1-3 and 2-3. E is 1-1 and 2-1. There! I spelled my name!

I probably would want to learn alphabetic Braille first. That is letter by letter Braille. There is also a form called condensed Braille in which whole words are represented by one cell of dots.

Being part of the special education system, I know a little bit about sign language for the deaf. American Sign Language is not just standard English you ‘speak’ with your hands. It is its own language with its own rules and specialized characteristics. Condensed Braille reminded me of that. It is also just one of a number of systems, just like ASL.

Problems with learning Braille as an older adult include finger sensitivity. Some people are blind because of complications of diabetes. Diabetic nerve damage may interfere with learning Braille.

Right now, I really don’t see Braille as an option for me. Not totally because it would be difficult and time consuming to learn, although those are factors. The major reason is right now I have options that work for me just fine.

I have magnification through my CCTV, reader and iPad, as well as ZoomText on my work PC’s. My computers and my phone also have options that allow me to be read to. I don’t use those options simply because they are so dang irritating! However, if I get to the point I cannot navigate around my desktop or my phone, I may be happy to have them.   [You can review how Sue uses these by going to her pages A Day in the Life and A Day in the Life: Work Day.]

And speaking of being read to, don’t forget my KNFB Reader. Then there are BARD books and the newspapers on my phone.

If I want to write as opposed to read, I do have a few touch typing skills. Speech-to-text is also available to me. Of course, we all know some of the things that happen there.

For example: I tried to speech to text the text “we find our adventures where we can” and the message my friend got was “we find our dentures where we can.” Took a while for her to stop giggling.

OK. Gotta go. I have a staff party tonight and I still have no idea what I am going to wear. Could be worse. At least I don’t have to find my teeth!

Click here for an article on how Braille is useful on the job in case Sue changes her mind. ::smile::

Continue reading “Can An Old Dog Learn Braille?”

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All the News You Can Use

Being visually impaired is no walk in the park. However, things are getting progressively better. There is now a way to get your daily newspaper in a format you can easily access.

BARD books and magazines are great but not all that current. However, the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, the people who give us BARD, has teamed up with the National Federation of the Blind to bring you your daily news. Same day, current news.  It’s called NFB-NEWSLINE.

I just filled out the application form.

The page will pinch and zoom. (Have you noticed the number of sites “for the visually impaired” that don’t even do THAT much?)

The whole process took about five minutes. They require proof of vision status. I put down my standing, hopefully in good standing, with BVS and BARD. There is an “other” box so I imagine you could list your retinologist.

Supposedly – this is technology, remember – you can call from any touch tone phone in the United States. All you need for the first time you call from that line is your registration number. After the first time the system will remember you.

There is a 10-selection, branching menu. You can even pull up sale circulars and TV listings! Of course, with a branching menu, it is possible for someone like me to get hopelessly lost, but they do provide an overview of what is what on the webpage.

I checked the list of available publications and it is extensive. Several local communities have their papers available. The newspaper for my old hometown is available. The local rag for this town is not. Oh, well. We won’t discuss how often I look at a local paper.

Apparently, newspapers must express interest and sign up for the program. However, it looks like people are able to tell NFB which papers they want to read and NFB will contact that paper.

There was also something about funding. However, there was no mention of any direct cost to the actual consumers. That would be us.

So that is pretty much it. Use your phone to ‘read’ the daily news once again. Cool. Continue reading “All the News You Can Use”

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