I Still Hear the Bell Ringing

Posted in LCB on September 7, 2009 by Brian

Graduate.  That is what they call those who complete a training program.  I have completed the training program at the Louisiana Center for the Blind.  I don’t consider myself a graduate.  I call myself…whole.  I feel complete as a man again.  The program at LCB is not something to be done, but rather, it is something to experience.  An experience which changes lives.  I cannot convey in words that which I have gained from the faculty and staff in Ruston, Louisiana.   A small town which contains big hearts.

Thanks go to J.D., James, Arlene, Jeff, Marilynn, Jerry, Josh, Bethel, Neita, Angela.

The other students and I have one thing in common.  That provided a bond and friendships that will last a lifetime.  Not being with them everday will be difficult.  I will mss you all.

The training is complete, but the journey will continue.

Here Endeth The Lesson

Posted in LCB on August 27, 2009 by Brian

The most diffcult 5.6 miles of my life?  No.  Wasn’t that bad really.  Low humidity and not so hot conditions allowed my Graducation Route to be  pleasant yesterday.  However, I am tired.  As part of our graduation requirements, we are assigned a 5.6 mile walk around Ruston.  Quite a thriving Metroplolis.  NOT!  Construction everywhere made things a bit of a struggle, but I had a great deal of confidence.  The skills I have learned here to this point gave me the certainty of navigating my way around the city.  One more Drop Route today and I am done with Travel Class!  But, the journey for the Travel of my life has just begun.  As is written on m hat: “Life is good”.Thanks for my hat Sweetness!  I love you.

Code Name: The Box

Posted in LCB on August 24, 2009 by Brian

I have code named my Industrial Arts Final Project: The Box.   I too, am as cool as Microsoft.  They always code name their projects and then change them on a whim.  I reserve the right to do the same.  However, I do not think I will go from codename: “Longhorn” aka Windows XP, or code name: “Desert” aka Windows Vista, or even codename: “Fuji”  aka Windows 7 (not yet released).  I think I will go with “The Box”  aka Cedar Chest.

Well, enough of  that diatribe.  Project: The Box is now COMPLETE!  That’s right, it is done.  I put the finishing touches on it today.  I will put photos on this posting later this week so check back for the update.   I finally got to see it today.  Right again, I have never seen the project during its progression save for today.  It is GREAT if I do say so myself.  I am very pleased with it and I have a great sense of accomplishment.  A little secret:  I have never hugged furniture before until today.

I completed my solo out of town travel yesterday.  I was supposed to do it on Saturday but I missed the bus.  I overslept. Shhh.   So I went Sunday.  Word of advice: if you go to an unfamiliar town to ride the city transit, make sure said transit is operating on that day!  Duh!  I rode Greyhound to Monroe and from there I was to use the city bus and negotiate my way around (blindfolded) for the day.  Go to the Mall, lunch, etc.  Well, I had to hoof it.  I walked about 7 miles in total yesterday.

Today I had my first solo Drop Route.  This is an exercise to find my way if I am left in an unknown location.  Let me tell you, it was not that bad.  It took me about an hour to get back to the Center.  Oh, yeah, we aren’t allowed to ask directions or location from anyone.  Using solely the skills acquired at this point.  Such as the position of the Sun, the flow of traffic, the sidewalks and landmarks, smells, etc.  It was kinda fun.  Like a puzzle.  I have never been one much for puzzles, but that was enjoyable.  I did not share this enthusiasm with my instructor as she may have them drop me off somewhere much more difficult tomorrow.

The gang here will be going on a White Water Rafting trip on Sunday.  I will be HOME that day.  I graduate on Friday, August 28, 2009.  I will receive my Freedom Bell and fing it on the plane on Saturday!

Leave The Driving To Us

Posted in LCB on August 19, 2009 by Brian

No. Blind people cant drive.  Yet.  I will be taking the Greyhound to either Shreveport or Monroe for the day and travel independently(under sleep shades all day).  Got to show these people how it’s done.  I will go this Saturday so that I have more time during the week to finish my other classes respective assignments.  More later.  Gotta eat then study.

The Courtesy Rules Of Blindness

Posted in LCB on August 17, 2009 by Brian

When you meet me, don’t be ill at ease.  It will help us both if you remember a few simple rules of courtesy:

1.  I am an ordinary person,  just blind.  You don’t need to raise your voice or address me as if I were a child.  Don’t ask my spouse or companion what I want–“Cream in the coffee?”– ask me.

2.  I may use a long white cane or guide dog to walk independently; or I may ask to take your arm.  Let me decide, and please don’t grab my arm. Let me take yours. I’ll keep a half step behind to anticipate curbs and steps.

3.  I want to know who is in the room.  Speak when you enter.  Introduce me to the others.  Include children and let me know if there is a cat or dog.  Guide my hand to a chair, but do not place me out of the way such as in a corner.  I like to socialize like anyone else.

4.  A door to a room, a cabinet, or car left partially open is a hazard to me.

5.  At meals, I will not have trouble with ordinary table skills.

6.  Don’t avoid words like “see”.  I use them too.  I am always glad to see you.

7.  I don’t want pity.  But don’t talk about the “wonderful compensations” of blindness.  My sense of hearing, touch, and smell did not improve when I became blind.  I only rely on them more and therefore I may get more information from those senses than you do.–that’s all.

8.  Blind people perform ordinary tasks and they are not “amazing” or “wonderful”.  I go out to eat, go to the bank, go grocery shopping.  Just as you do.

9.  I will discuss blindness with you if you are curious, but it is an old story to me.  I have as many interests as you do.

10.  Don’t think of me as just a blind person.  I am a person who happens to be blind.  Blindness is just a characteristic much like someone having red hair.  It is just part of who I am.

Feeding the Masses

Posted in LCB on August 15, 2009 by Brian

I have never been so glad to have a meal ended in my life. Yesterday was the meal for 40 people.  I prepared Spaghetti with a homemade sauce (134 ounces and not enough), salad with tomatoes, sweet onions, black olives, and croutons.  Homemade Italian Bread and homemade garlic butter, and for dessert: Watermelon & Cantaloupe salad with a mint vinagrette dressing.   It was a big hit.  No leftovers at all!  I am so tired.  That is a lot of work.  From start to finish, I worked on that meal Thursday from 8 am to 6 pm and then Friday 8 am to 1230 pm.  Then the lovely cleanup process began. The last time I saw that many dirty dishes and pots/pans, I worked at the Marriott Hotel.  I didn’t finish cleaning up until 5pm.  Whew!  Sooo glad it’s over.

Next week I will finish the Cedar Chest project in Shop and begin Residential address location in Travel/Mobility class as well as out of town independent Greyhound bus travel to Shreveport, LA.  and finally the 5.6 mile graduation route!  Braille is getting better.  I will most likely be at my goal of 40 words per minute.  The average speed for those who learn Braille as adults is 30 words per minute.  So, that is a respectable figure.

Computer class is breezing along.  Learning Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet and Workbook creation.  I will touch on Power Point and revisit Word and Outlook as a refreher in the next couple of weeks.  I will be done with my Computer Final Project by Friday of next week (maybe sooner) .

I will be graduating in two weeks!  I  will be so glad to go home.  This program has been the most intense endeavor of my life.  It has also been the most fulfilling and rewarding.  Gaining true independence and great confidence in achievements being blind is incredibly liberating.   After this, there is nothing I can’t do. I can now re-invent myself.

Most people can’t imagine being blind or even pity those who are.  Some have even stated they would  rather die than be blind.  It is not a tragedy or the end of life.  It is just a little different. The Louisiana Center for the Blind, its students and graduates together are changing what it means to be blind.  We are not “broken” sighted people.  We are regular people who just can’t see.   It is no longer shameful, frightening, crippling, helpless, or incapacitating to be blind.  But rather, it is merely an inconvenience or at most, a nuisance.  The program here at LCB has once again afforded me the feeling of being whole.   These are not just words or simply a state of mind.  They are facts.  Being blind is not to be pitied; it is respectable.

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.