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July 15th, 2012

I rarely blog anymore, but today is the eleven-year anniversary of my
creating this blog, so I thought I'd jot a quick entry. I suspect that if
ever there comes a day where someone reads this thing from beginning to end,
the reaction after reading will be, "Wow, there are sure a whole lot of gaps
in the narrative." True enough, dear reader, true enough.

For the past year, I've been attending courses at the
University of Minnesota with the thought that I might get a bachelor f
something in computer science. I met with an advisor a couple weeks ago, and
we determined it would take between 3 and 4 years due to the university's
math requirements. A different university system has a degree in computer
science. I believe the degree has a much lower math requirement, and also
teaching more practical and less theoretical information. I have an
appointment this Tuesday to discuss what receiving an education at this
university would entail as well as discuss what sorts of career options I
would be in for after I graduate.

The American Council of the blind convention just ended. I
did not go this year. The convention was in Louisville, KY. I attended the
2008 convention in that city, and loved it. Money is tight though, and
since I'd been there before, I decided I didn't need to go there again. I
listened to most of the proceedings on acb radio, and tweeted much of it.
For me, the highlights of convention included:

Introducing a resolution asking Sirius Xm radio to make all of its radio
platforms accessible,

Hearing about the amazing state of audiodescription in the UK.

Watching the unfortunate handling of a resolution brought by an acb member
to support an nfb initiative

Being proud of the fact that acb was able to get signed into law
requirements for accessible medical labels.

I listened to the nfb convention stream. Hearing that stream made me proud
I am associated with acb. NFB has initiatives ranging from braille literacy
to ensuring all disabled people get paid at least minimum wage. According to
a convention presentation, they have 100 office staff and over 27 million
dollars. The fact acb can get three major pieces of legislation passed in
three years (accessible currency, 21st century video and telecommunications
act (I'm sure I have the name wrong on this one,) and the food and drug
safety act) with perhaps 10 office staff and well under 5 million in total
assets speaks volumes to me about what a hard working group of people can
accomplish.

I've had a few people over the years tell e I should get
into voice over work. Over the past few months, I have been able to
co-author and voice some material (not yet publicly available.) I have
begun to take a small amount of pride in my voice. I feel my braille
reading skills need a great deal of improving. I can read to myself fine,
but for reading out loud, I must be much faster, and accurate. There is a
lot of do over work that happens for the moment. I'm concerned because of
this I couldn't yet market myself professionally. Because I am going to
school, the rehab agency is going to help me obtain a Braille Edge. It has
support for memory cars, so I can use it as a standalone notetaker, but it
also has Bluetooth, and an act as a braille display. I feel I will be
getting the best of both worlds. I hope having this 40-cel display will
improve my accuracy.

Around September or October of last year, I bought myself an iPhone. I am
loving it. I have a currency identifier app, I just found a scanning app
(text detective,) which seems promising, and I love being able to listen to
podcasts with a hand held device. Son, NLS books will be readable with the
iPhone. A GPS solution for individuals who are blind should be out in the
next couple months. There are already some, but I find they don't work
nearly as well as did mobile geo. I also question the accuracy of the
built-in iPhone GPS. Time will tell. I am loving this device. Patti bought
me a dock for the unit, so I can carry around a very portable set of
speakers and listen to radio, podcasts, or books converted to mp3.

I suspect I will not be teaching this fall. The institution where I taught
is planning to hire a full time instructor, and that person is slated to
teach the course I was teaching. I loved teaching a single course, and would
love to do so again someday, but there is enough going on in my life that
I'm not going to be overly sad if I don't teach for a while.

Patti and I are doing well. We did spend a night camping at a park. We set
up a tent drank beer, roasted hot dogs, listened to the wind in the trees,
talked languidly. It was a very enjoyable evening, and I hope we do it
again in the coming year.

I will be turning 40 in a little under a month. This bothers me more than
it should, I expect. I feel a great deal of apathy and some days have
trouble finding the energy and excitement I know exists out there for me to
find. I have structure in my life, so I know apathy won't get the better of
me, but still.

I wish I could end on a positive note, but not sure what to say. I'm
getting together with friends tonight at a pizza place I really enjoy. That
will be cool, as I don't see these friends as often as I'd like.

Also, I had 2 people over on Friday for dinner. One came early and listened
to the acb convention coverage with me. The second came after work. We had
chicken, biscuits, and salad. It was an enjoyable day.

Here's hoping I write more later. It's amazing how hard it can be to make
even small changes in your life into habits. Two weeks ago, I said I'd
exercise more. The first week, I did great, the second, I didn't exercise
much, though I did walk outside when I had errands to run.

Here's hoping this week, I can exercise a bit more, and blog a bit more as
well. I need to start writing about my life again. I'm sure many small
pleasurable things have happened about which I haven't written, and about
which I will forget because of this fact.

August 3rd, 2011

There is a wonderful website called Allrecipes.com which
allows you to look up recipes for almost anything. If you find a recipe you
like, you can store it in your recipe box. The only problem with the site
is that deleting recipes from your box is not a straightforward process. I
do wish the company would make a more accessible way to do this, but until
they do, here's a method that appears to work.

Note: I'm certain there are equivalent methods to do the below steps in NVDA
and Window Eyes, but since I don't own them, I can't speak to them.

1. Pull up your recipe box.

2. Hit tab until you find the title of a recipe you want to delete.

3. Route jaws to pc.

4. Activate the pc cursor so you are now back in 'virtual mode.

Routing jaws to pc causes your mouse to "hover" over the title. This is what
is needed to bring up the "options" link for a specific recipe.

5. Arrow down until you find the "options" link and click it.

6. Click on the "delete link"

7. Go to the top of the page, then Use the "level 1 header" navigation
feature to find a header that says "delete recipe"

8. The text below this verifies the name of the recipe you are about
to delete, and asks if this is what you want to do. You can click "delete"
which is a link, or "cancel" which is a 'mouseover'

Hope this helps someone.

July 3rd, 2011

stuff and things

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In two weeks, it will be the ten-year anniversary of my live journal. Ah,
remember when I used to update?

The big news is that I am registered for two courses this fall. I will be
taking precalculus 1, and a course simply called "structures 1" which is the
prereq to many of the computer programming courses at the u.

I have a meeting tonight of the resolutions committee, which I am very happy
about. Helping to create resolutions is one of my favorite parts of acb
conventions. I'm not sure why I decided to do it, but I signed up for a
session on how to perform first aid on dogs. It ought to be interesting. I
also signed up for a networking session, as I'm still not great at live
networking, a session on some midi program, the BITS mixer, the BITS board
meeting, a discussion on mobility in today's complex environments, and the
banquet. I registered for the 5k, and ought to win an award for least
amount of money raised (none to be precise,) but I'm walking, and I
registered, so as far as I'm concerned, acb is still getting money. It's all
good.

Not much else is new. Besides trying to swim a half mile a day (usually I
fail at this but sometimes I manage,) and reading, not much else is up.
Last week was spent buying clothing for convention, getting my state ID
renewed, and having dinner with a friend who has the authority to sign the
paperwork needed to revalidate my ability to use paratransit (precisely,
he's a medical professional who can attest to the fact that I have not
regained my sight in the past few years.)

My former guidedog is throwing up and has diarrhea. The vets
are unsure why. She is keeping water down more often than not, and does eat
a bit, but I'm concerned that Tuesday, she may have to go back for more
tests. I don't want her to be sick when I leave for convention, and I don't
want this to be a mystery thing that requires tons of trips to be diagnosed.
I'm not usually the praying type, but I am praying for her. Hopefully, it's
less serious than I am worried it may be.

Yesterday, I attempted to roast garlic for the first time. It came out
crispier than I would have liked, and I suspect that's because the olive oil
might not have been distributed equally over the garlic. The flavored olive
oil I created to dip french bread in was quite good. Patti made spaghetti.
It was a good day.

Tomorrow, I am planning to get together with a small gathering of friend to
celebrate the fourth. After that, god knows what I'll do to pass the three
days before convention.

June 7th, 2011

stuff and things

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And so my day is well underway. I got up late this morning, and headed to
the Y. I swam my half mile in about half an hour, which is faster than I
thought I was. I was told that an elliptical machine, a treadmill, and an
exercise bike all have Braille on them, so I will start figuring out how
they work so I can add to my exercise regimen.

It was very hot yesterday, and is very hot today. It is
supposed to reach 100,, so for the most part, I'm staying inside. Patti and
I bought Twins tickets for a game next week. My brother is coming into town,
and I wanted to go with him to the new (as of last year,) stadium which was
built for the team. The Twins are not doing well, and I really don't care
for baseball much, but I'm excited to hang out with my brother, and to see
the new digs. It's an outdoor stadium: something we haven't had for at least
30 years.

As I've written before, I have things to do, and no motivation to do them
with. Not sure how to find the motivation, but I'll figure it out
eventually. I have a strange ability to put things off, and then get them
done in time to finish whatever needs doing, and to still do whatever the
task was well.

That's about it for now. I need a shower. I prefer to shower at home after
I swim. That way, I don't have to carry around all of the accoutrements
needed to clean oneself decently. I should probably change this behavior,
as the result is that the chlorine dries in my hair, and I suspect it's
harder to wash out than it would be if I rinsed off after swimming. Oh well.

June 5th, 2011

past couple days

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I suppose the biggest news of the past couple days is that I took the
university of Minnesota's math placement exam. I don't know what my final
score was, but I was told I scored well enough to begin taking math courses
in the fall. My plan, I believe is to take one math course and hopefully
one course having something to do with the IT field. Not sure just what yet.

I found out that 32 lapse of the pool where I swim is a
mile. I'm not up to that yet, but have set a goal of swimming half a mile.
I used to swim for half an hour, but I decided I'd rather take pauses if I
need them and swim as long as it takes to make half a mile. Maybe I can get
up to a mile by the end of the summer. That would be nice.

Does anyone know if there is an accessible book that shows sample meals
based on the government's food pyramid? I know I'm supposed to be eating far
more fruits, veggies and grains than I do, but quite frankly, I don't have
enough knowledge of food to know how to eat dishes that contain more of
these things. I grew up a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I love salads, but
want to learn how to make dishes that incorporate more grains, veggies, etc.
and perhaps less meat. Slowly trying to get my health better.

Last night was a beautiful night. Patti came over and we
went to Old Chicago, a pizza place we both like. We ate outside and ate a
Thai pizza: chili sauce on a sesame crust with chicken, cheese, onion, and
broccoli. A couple pints of hard cider rounded out the evening.

Today, I did my half-mile swim and spent an hour sitting
outside with a Braille book. Usually in the summer, I make a point of
reading at least one, if not more, book in Braille both to keep up my
skill, and because I enjoy sitting outside reading. Today is in the upper
70s, but I love being hot as well, as long as I have plenty of tea to hand.

I don't have much planned for the coming week. I might crack
open the java certification book. I have a chicken to cook at some point.
Other than that, we'll see what comes up.

May 26th, 2011

so what's next?

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It's been a long time since I updated here. Major world events (a huge
earthquake which caused a nuclear disaster in Japan, the final destruction
of Osama Bin Ladin, massive political unrest in Egypt and other countries,
and the misprediction of the Rapture [alright scratch that last one in terms
of major world events]) have all taken place since I last updated. I suppose
Japan was the one which seemed most relatable to me. It was an awful
tragedy, and I know someone who had a daughter in Japan at the time. For
the most part though, these events had very little effect on my day to day
existence, and life became routine, accept when it wasn't and for those
times, I didn't write.

But here I am again.

Another quarter ended in my teaching job. I'm supposed to teach again in
the fall. If any students complained about my performance as an instructor,
I haven't yet heard about it. This makes me happy. I still love teaching.
This also makes me happy. I want me to teach the same course, which means
that I won't have to spend the entire summer learning a new topic. This
also, yes you guessed it, makes me happy.

I finished my algebra course (the equivalent of the last year of high school
algebra) with an a. I got an a both in the course, and on the final. I am
now working with the U of M to take their placement exam to see if I now
have enough ,knowledge to start taking math at the college level.

I feel spectacularly unmotivated to do anything. I finally
got frustrated enough with my self-image that I decided to change it a bit
by joining the YWCA. So far, I've worked out every day but one since last
Friday.

I purchased a waterproof mp3 player 5 years ago, but it seems not to work
anymore. I'm wondering if I can exchange it for a new one. The Y has
wonderful staff, but they aren't always present when I'm swimming. I can't
read the clock, and can't tell how long I've swum. Since I am not yet
consistently swimming back and forth, I can't count laps. An mp3 player
preloaded with a set amount of audio would let me know how long I've been in
the water.

I am supposed to go to the acb convention this summer. I won
a contest which gives me seven nights in a hotel. This is the only reason I
can afford to go. I am very excited about it, as I haven't been to a
convention since 2008, and this year is the 50th anniversary of acb. There
is a 5k I am going to do. I should ask all of you to help sponsor me, but I
haven't yet registered, and anyway, most of you are trying to raise money
yourselves for the same 5k I bet, so acb will just have to be content with
the fact I'm walking.

What else am I planning for the summer? Not sure. There is a Java
certification I should probably get, and if I'm going to try and get it,
summer is the best time for me to study for it I believe.

If I qualify to take math at the U, I will see if the text can be made
available in Braille by this fall. I refuse to use anything other than
Braille for my primary interaction with math. I'll accept audio in addition
to Braille, but not in replacement of Braille. If I can't take math in the
fall, I may see if I can find some undergrad computer science courses to
take. I know fall isn't that far away, but for the moment, I'm pretending it
is.

It's the memorial day weekend coming up. I think I'm getting together with
a friend to drink and eat chicken wings. Patti and I may be going to a
party. Beyond that, I have no clue.

Here's hoping I write another update or two before the summer ends. This is
the ten-year anniversary of my keeping this blog. Some years have been
better for updating I'm sure. When I'm dead, people will probably read this
and say

"Wow, I remember lots of cool stories that aren't in here." So be it. Life
goes on, and I don't usually have the energy to write about it. The time I
spent a couple weeks ago smoking flavored tobacco at a place in Fridley
designed specifically for hookah smoking was fairly amazing, but not
something I intend to do often. It was a great night with friends, and
reaffirmed my love of middle eastern food. It was something rather out of
the box for me, as I never have smoked before. My lungs felt very strange
the next day. The flavor of the tobacco was quite enjoyable.

Oh well, enough for now. I need to work up the energy to go walking on the
treadmill. Today, I'm going to work out at home. I heard somewhere if you
do the same exercise every day, your body becomes used to it. Not sure if
it's true, but it sounds good, so no swimming today.

November 9th, 2010

still here

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There is a fair amount to say, but most of it should be put in a private
entry, and I don't feel like writing. The future is both positive and
uncertain. Nothing new I guess. I have things I'm waiting on and how those
things turn out will determine what I do with the next couple years of my
life.

Off I go to get ready to cook food.

Bye for now.

July 2nd, 2010

past couple days

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The highlight of yesterday was wandering through the
farmer's market with the step son of my house cleaner. I bought
Strawberries, cinnamon-roasted cashews, snap peas, and he decided to buy me
a package of some wonderfully plump, slightly zesty breakfast sausages. He
also helped me find a free sample of something he called a lichi berry (I
probably have the spelling wrong. The berries are from Asia, and are most
yummy.)

Patti came over for dinner. I picked up spaghetti, meatballs, and garlic
bread. Patti made dinner. After dinner, she watched television, and I
worked on a job application about which I'm rather excited.

I think I mentioned I took a math placement test at a university and
discovered I needed to relearn algebra. A local tech school teaches basic
math through calc. I am going to take their math test so they can tell me
the specific class I should start taking. The university gave me the
distinct impression I should study before embarking on their math program.

I need to pack a brailler and some scratch paper. I will write more soon.



Michael

June 29th, 2010

so here goes Tuesday

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Yesterday was a relatively laid back day. I applied for a job, and did my
hour of exercise. I remembered to read a short story from the collection I
have sitting on my coffee table. I really need to ship the Braille back to
my local library. I still prefer to read Braille using paper as apposed to
the 80-cell display I have. If I had a note taker, I'd probably use it to
read web Braille, but I don't like being tied to a computer for leisure
reading.

I applied for another job today, and once again did my hour of exercise. I
have a lunch meeting with a family friend to get his take on where the world
of computers is headed. I'm still feeling up in the air about where my life
should be heading.

I discovered that the most basic math course at the university starts with
an algebra review, but quickly moves to trigonomitry. I asked what people
who feel they need more than a quick review of algebra should do and I was
told I should seek out other educational resources. I called the technical
college and find out they have two math tests: one basic math, and one
algebra and beyond. I'm going to take both tests, and then hopefully start a
math course in the fall. I need to act fast, as getting math books in
Braille is challenging with only a couple months to school starting. I have
faith in my local agency for the blind, so am sure it can be done. I am
also planning to see if there is a computer course I can take at the u of m
that will require little math in order to compete. There must be one, but
it may take some writing to individual professors

Off to take a shower, and get ready for my lunch meeting.

June 27th, 2010

domestic day

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Not much going on today. I got up and did my hour of exercise. I have had
a braille book, titled, "Murder is No Mitzvah" sitting on my coffee table
for what seems like forever. I have made myself a promise of reading at
least one short story a day until I finish the book. I sat outside, drank
diet coke, had the dog out with me, and enjoyed the morning.

The rest of the day I expect will be really uneventful. I made a small
lunch, a large pitcher of tea, and don't really have plans to do anything
else. Laundry is done. Not every day is exciting. Tomorrow, I have things
to do so not doing much today is fine in my book.

We had a good thunderstorm last night, and when I took the dog out, it was
raining. The rain came down moderately, but it was a worm rain so I
actually enjoyed getting wet.
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