Archive for July, 2009

This Just In…

Posted in LCB on July 29, 2009 by Brian

Got Staffing today.  For those not in the know, Staffing is your Feedback Session by the Staff and a non-formal scoring system.  I had mine today and they were the best scores I have received yet!   The staff told me the areas in which I have been doing well and gave me pointers for areas in which I need improvement.  Altogether, I was quite pleased.. That says a lot, as most who konw me, realize that I don’t shine well in the face of critizism.

I have been given a tenative graduation date today by the staff.  They have agreed that I can graduate a little early if I continue the pace I am on now.

The plan is I will first finish Shop Class (within a week), and then I will take those two hours and have extra Braille lessons 3 days per week for the 2 hours and extra Cane Travel Class the other two days for those two hours.   With my current class schedule included, this will mean that I will have Braille for 4 hours per day for 3 days per week and Travel Class for 4 hours per day on the other 2 days.  My only other class is Computer Lab for 2 hours every day.

I have only one more thing to complete for Home Ec. and that is the meal for 40 people.  Although, we have a small number of students currently, about 14.  Capacity is 34.  I have the meal scheduled for next Friday, August 7, 2009 at Noon.  No, I don’t know what I am cooking yet.

My Cedar Chest is coming along very nicely.  I have finished the Danish Oil and it has cured.  I have placed two layers of neutral wax as a sealer.  I will buff it tomorrow.  I might put another coat on there; I haven’t decided yet.  I will then put together the shelf/inner tray.  Once that is completed, I can assemble it!

Travel Class is becoming intense, however, I no longer have difficulties.  I am given multiple address per route now.  It is more lrealistic, more like running errands.   I will begin left turn-light controlled intersections this week as well and more indepth intersecting roads, drives, etc.   I will then work on residential addresses, more city bus travel and then close to graduation, I will have “drop” routes, Greyhound out of town bus travel solo, and lastly, a 5.6 mile detailed route through and around Ruston.    Well, I have to read some Braille and eat dinner.  I will update again soon.

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Motown Recap

Posted in LCB on July 24, 2009 by Brian

Ever been to an Elevator Rodeo?  Well, I have.  2871 Blind people trying to use 12 elevators in a 72 floor hotel simultaneously  is a NIGHTMARE!   I have a song stuck in my head; from the Wizard of Oz; “Canes, and dogs, and booze, OH MY!”  Well, something similar anyway.   The 2009 Convention of the National Federation of the Blind is over.  Thank God!   It happens every year in the First week of July.    This was my first and perhaps my last convention (I will have to think about it more).

Information overload,  Exhibits abound, Presentations aplenty, etc.   Don’t get me wrong, I found quite a few things of use.  I also got to visit the Motown Museum.  That was really cool.  Barry Gordy took an $800 dollar loan into $20 million in 7 years.  WOW!   Studio A was kept original.  All the instruments and equipment was left as it was in 1972 when Motown moved to the West Coast.

The highlight for me was performing in the Play “The Truth Repels”   The play was written and directed by our Braille Instructor,  Jerry Whittle.   It was a portrayal of Louis Braille’s struggle to have his reading and writing code accepted as the standard means of learning for the blind.  This year marks the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth in 1809.    At the behest of the NFB, the U.S. Mint has struck a Silver Dollar with Louis Braille’s image on it .  It is the first coin in history with readable Braille writing on it.  The Mint has produced 400,000 of said coins and they will be available this year only.  All remaining unsold coins will be melted back down .  The goal is to sell all 400,000 coins as part of the proceeds go to the fund to increase Braille Literacy.   Since the first release of this coin on March 26, 2009, there have been over 160,000 sold.  These are a great collector’s item and are available as uncirculated and proof  coins.  The uncirculated coin comes in a removaable plastic case so that you can feel the writing on it.  The proof is a sealed version never held be hands.  Again these are Silver.  Wow!, I feel like a commercial announcer.   Sorry.

Unfortunately, only about 10% of the blind can read Braille.   Here is a sobering fact:  The Braille Literacy rate in the 1950’s was over 65%.  A huge decline over the years.  With the advent of talking books, most public schools stopped investing in a child’s ability to become literate.   Please help support our efforts to bring Braille back into the mainstream for the blind by purchasing the Louis Braille Bicentennial Commemorative Silver Dollar.  They are available at the U.S. Mint web site:  http://www.usmint.gov

Well, gotta get some sleep.   Tomorrow morning, going to put Danish Oil on the Cedar Chest I am building.

in communicado

Posted in LCB on July 18, 2009 by Brian

Apologies to all.  I have been off the grid for quite sometime.  I really want to say it was an oversight, or I was terribly busy.  However, that would not lend itself to the truth.

It is much more difficult than I realized to live on a fixed income of such small proportion.  In short, my internet service was disconnected due to past due balance.  Honesty is the best policy.  I would be remiss if I did not share all the trials as well as tribulations.

Much has transpired since my last post:  Independent bus travel, great Shop progress, web page navigations with JAWS (screen reader),  nearing the finish line on the Braille Code so I can start reading novels again!

Let’s start with Bus Travel and drop routes.  We are taken to Monroe, LA (nearest city with public transit) and given an assignment to find a location or two. Obtain proof that we were there such as a business card.  Then get back on the bus and return to the terminal and find the bus which goes to the mall.  Find the Food Court and meet myh instructor for lunch.  Then I am given more locations inside the mallo find.  This is much harder thatn it seems as people who work in the mall apparently do not know where other stores are!  I get directions like “go straight”.   Go Straight!?  Compared to what, I am blindfolded.   Or my personal favorite, “it’s that way”   Hello? I can’t see what way you are pointing, dufus.  Of course, I must remember that I am representing the blind community when I address someone, therefore, I really don’t say it quite so sarcastically.  And I try my best to avoid disdainful and mocking words such as “dufus”… most of the time.

My instructor took me on a drop route.  This exercise is to test the mastery of your skills to date.   We ride in a van, driven all around town (left, right, circles, etc. to prevent memorizing locations) and dropped off.  We then have to use sounds, smells, traffic patterns, and location of the Sun to find our way back.  Sounds like a blast, right?  NOT!  As we cannot ask directions.  Well, I found my way back.  I AM INVINCIBLE!  and a little delusional.  I had a little luck.  The car tires make a distinct sound on Alabama Avenue.  So I knew what street I was on in the beginning of my jaunt.   The Sun was to my back at 9 AM so I knew I was facing West.  I now knew what street I was on and which direction I was traveling.   Now, I have only to find a familiar cross street so I could determine which side of the city divide I was on (West or East Alabma Ave.).  After about 20 minutes walk, I realized that the traffic grew thinner and I heard fewer intersections and businesses.  I reversed course and found an intersection controlled by a stop light.  I then smelled Martinizing, you know that Dry Cleaner smell?  Well, this meant I wa near Monroe Street and from there, it was simple to find my way back to the school.

Now, Shop class.  I have finished sanding all the parts to my Cedar Chest.  Once I return from Vacation, I will begin assembly.

I used to really struggle with trying to read the internet with my face up close to the monitor.  So very slow, inefficient, and uncomfortable.  With the JAWS, Screen Reader, I can now move much faster online. I can hardly believe the difference.  I can find things faster than some of my sighted peers. And I don;t even need a monitor.  This is wicked cool!

As I mentioned previously, Braille is rolling right along.  I am almost finished with the code.  Four more lessons and I will be able to read books again!

The play we have been practicing went very  well at the 2009 National Federation of the Blind National Convention in Detroit, Michigan.   The audio recording of the play will be availabel in about a month.  Those insterested in a copy whould contact me. That is all for now. Next post will be after I get back to Louisiana next week. In that post I will describe my first National Convention experience.