Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dark Snow Dead Chairs



It was beautiful when I left this morning. It was snowing. I usually have some forewarning that the snow is coming but not this morning so I was taken completely by surprise. About an inch had fallen and the snow was coming down still. It was a weird snow though almost a brittle snow, a coarse snow but it was warm too warmer then it has been. I was quite pleased to be off to the train in dark light of the early morning now.

I think this morning’s snow took everyone off guard for as I motored up to work the streets had yet to be plowed and I silently broke fresh snow pack as I headed toward the station. I noticed the snow flaked became much more puffy and now the flakes were huge. In fact the flakes were so huge they actually cast shadows on the snow which was already on the ground. What fascinated me was that the shows left by the flakes were ,of course, black and exact negative of the flake which produced the shadow. The shadows were being reflected by the street lights along the way to the station. The flakes falling were cool, producing the black shadow right till they hit the ground and then the snow flake would vanish. This phenomenon was so cool to watch just the negative and positive universes coming together. The snow hanged even further as I neared the station, the snow lightened in the intensity of how heavy it was falling. By the time I reached the station the snow was fine and had almost stopped. It was magical.

About 11:0 this morning I was working at my desk and suddenly my power chair lost it’s power! The modulator has been getting more and more loose the pastcoule of weeks and I was not sure but would not have been surprised if this had something to do with the malfunction. When the a chair like mine looses power they are just a 300 pound paper weight. One must keep in mind that I am the only male on staff here which is not a big deal under most situations, but today being thee only male on staff was just weird. So, the only way to move this “paperweight” is to disengage the motors-this is easily done and was done. My regular back up chair I took home a couple of weeks ago and have never brought the chair back. But I do have some manual wheelchairs I keep at our pffice to gve to folks in need. These chairs are new but they are also junkers and very uncomfortable. Looks are pretty deceiving and I pass myself

off as being pretty independent but reality states that I am an quadriplegic and I am pretty damn chunky and without my chair I am almost immobile. Staff banded together to move me and it all of them to do the job, couple to hold the chair a couple to try and lift me and at least one to keep my pants up and me half way covered because my pants come off pretty quick. It’s not pretty its just the way things are.

I was able to gymp round, painfully, in this manual chair satisfactorly . I called my wheelchair repair place who sent out a mechanic, even thought they were “slammed” and he came out and fixed the problem…just a connection had come undone super easy fix and I am back in the saddle. I am in some pain but grateful I will be able to get home tonight. But I think I’ll bring the green chair back tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Quarry Boys




In the foothills, North East of Boise is an ancient stone quarry. This quarry is ancient to me since the quarry has been there as long as I have been alive. The quarry was founded in the 1800’s. They quarried sandstone from Table Rock mountain a very interesting plateau rising from the Boise Valley. The first stone house in the valley was built with this sandstone as well as the stone for the state capitol building, Boise High School ad other notable buildings in downtown Boise. The quarry is located probably a mile or so North and East of the Boise River and as kids my brother and our best John and Tom spent a lot of our free time wandering round Boise River bottoms crossing the river and hiking all the way up to table rock.

I wish I could say I knew the process of how Table rock came to be . I suspect the flat outcropping constituting the West end of this little mountain came to be from the slabs of sandstone being chiseled off the sides leaving vast planes of smooth surface. Looking back I guess surfaces could rise thirty feet off the quarry floor. The quarry was abandonded by the time we started exploring its remain. Great slabs of stone were scattered round the quarry floor piled on top of each other, some times being stack like books and in other places jumbled and jostled leaving warrens of natural tunnels. These were great to explore.

We were warned that we had to be very careful in the heat of the summer because these stone formations were a wonderful gathering place for Rattle snakes. I do not remember ever seeing a rattler in all my days messing round the quarry but the warnings always kept me alert. Of course in the winter , Fall and spring this was not an issue.

On the flat top of table rock a huge cross has been erected and lighted. In the dark lf the evening the cross can be seen for miles across the valley. Some of my earliest memories of driving in the car after dark and seeing the cross just floating in the air. The cross was nondenominational made of huge I-beams painted white. The cross itself was out in the open and easy to get to. In fact I can remember now how defaced the cross was I was surprised. The cross was lit with neon and was lit most of the time. I don’t know now if the cross continues to be lit in light of all this constitutional separation of church and state. I have not heard. I imagine the cross is still there I’ll have to ask.

The territory round the quarry was pretty rugged going and I could not return now if I wanted—unless Boise has built an accessible trail up there. I’ll have to check this out. If there were access to this area I surly would return to see the quarry all over again.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Time Machines

I just finished reading Stephen Baxter’s Time Ships. A good read but not as good as some of his work. However the subject matter was entertaining. Baxter writes as the title suggest, about time and the movement backward and forwards there in. Baxter did sort of a re-write of Orson Wells’ The time Machine with a nice application of quantum mechanics. The book has got me thinking though ‘if I had the ability to time travel where would I go?’

Most nights as I fall asleep, I fall asleep by truing to remember a specific time and event and going to that point in my memory as best as I can. This system works well because soon I am, asleep. Most often then not I choose to go to the twin bridges just South of Boise, Idaho in the summer 1964.

So, I guess I would return to Boise, Idaho 1964. I am 14 years old in this summer of 64, the Beatles have stated their invasion of the USA along with other Brits. It’s July and the second cutting of hay is still two or three weeks off. It’s hot the day I return. I had finished what chores my father had left me to do and I was free. I told my mom headed for the bridge and I jumped on my hand me down schwinn ten speed and pump down to the twin bridges.

I would get to the bridge about one- o-clock. Mom always made us wait an hour after eating lunch before we were able to swim. By July the heat is intense warming the water sufficient to sustain long term swimming and by this time in the Summer there was always a crowd of five to ten people hanging out at the bridge. Teenagers and kids. We stood round talking and listening till it was too hot to stand then we jump over rail of the bridge into the cold, cold water. The older teenagers smoked and occasionally would show up with cans of beer and sometimes get rowdy. There were occasional fights as the teenagers established dominance but it was mostly a neighborhood crowd. The summer afternoons seemed to last forever. If you were lucky you were able to coax one of the older guys out of one of their Lucky’s and get dizzy smoking it. If you were really luck lucky Tuck (the local fantasy chick) would wander down to the bridge in her cutoffs and tank top. Tuck worked at the hospital 3-11 shift. She often spent her mornings and early afternoon lying out in her back yard nude working on her tan. I knew this because I knew Charlie who was Tuck’s younger brother and we had a tree house over the spot where she laid out. She thought she was safe from view from the road but not from the tree house—or maybe she did not care about the tree house…and that would be another day to go back to.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Who Me?

I was laying in bed this morning where everyone I knew in high school is and really not so much high school but junior high. Since I had my neck breaking accident in the summer before I started high school I never did get much of a feel for what would have been my high school crowd.

I was pretty excited when I first started getting into the INTERNET and realizing with this tool I could re-connect with all the people I used to know particularly those folks I knew, or thought I knew and wished I could have kept on knowing. I even signed up on the old high school website thinking this would be a way to find these people. I saw some of the names of the people I wanted to contact and dropped a couple of emails to them. I got a couple of returns, superficial at best. I was surprised to say the least but did not think too much about it. Then about a year later I was contacted by a person I barely remembered Roger someone or another. We had a couple of classes together. He was your run-of- the mill four eyed, non descript almost a hood but not. I remember he stood next to me on the line in P.E.

Well, I got the email from Roger. He was now living in Southern California. Roger had been through a couple of marriages and was working as some sort of a mechanic or grease monkey. Roger had also developed a website in his “spare-time”. I of course looked it up to find images of non custodial children motorcycles past and present, images and references to time spent with the US Marines and a lot of heavy metal. Then good old Roger dropped the bomb, “ Hey, man I have some time coming in a couple of weeks. Why don't I saddle up and bike down to visit.?”

Now I have to admit I was sort of freaked out about the thought of Roger coming to visit. I could barely think of anything to write while I was emailing let alone trying to do something in person; plus all the other issues, did Roger think he was going to stay at our place, would we have to feed him or just go out to dinner and on and on and on. I stopped responding to Roger's emails finally the emails just stopped coming. I guess that was cruel but what else could a guy do?

So the question of the hour is...am I everyone else's “Roger?” I very well could be just that guy 'what was his name? You know the guy who had the motorcycle wreck just before 10th grade. We visited him a couple of times then everyone put their pictures together that Christmas and gave it to him when he was in the hospital'. When I first realized this I was a little freaked but it sort of makes sense now. I never hung with their group as it was. I donot think I was an outcast, I was basically accepted, I think but I knew I was weird and I knew that people thought my group was weird then.. so why would things change now?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Of Printers abd Tacos

I cannot stand it. I am cut out to me a geek, a total geek I can do lite-geek stuff but I cannot roll up my sleeves and get in and do geek stuff on computers and other electronics like camera and printers. Today it's printers. The computer I invested in last summer is no longer functioning. I of course figured the problem was connections or maybe power supply or something evident. I cleaned off the printer , checked the connections and then tried to print a document and nothing happened. I was pleased to find that sense I had just installed this printer this past summer the installation disk was still in the back of the computer. I figured I would do the heavy duty stuff and re-install the whole washable. I jumped into the project and the Install CD seems to be corrupt somehow. I tried to install the software three times and no go. I cannot get the computer to recognize let alone recognizing documents to print

Dianne reminded me that I purchased this printer: HP Deskjet 5440 only this last summer and should not the printer still be under some sort of warranty? I grumbled “yes” and did I purchase a service agreement? I honestly do not remember. I hope that I did but I doubt I can find anything which will prove that I did. I AM SOOOO STUPID!!! Maybe I stuffed everything into a folder or something but know myself, I doubt it. So, I may have to see what I can do with COMPusa tomorrow. I was thinking maybe I could down load the drivers needed to bring the printer back to life I just do not know, and the thought of doing so just exhausts me. When am I ever going to learn to get organized so i can find this documentation when I need it?

A few weeks ago before this cold started with it cruddy inversion we had taken my mother out to eat, Chinese. She mentioned then she has been thinking of Mexican for some time. We said sure we would do some Mexican soon. We had been waiting for the weather to clear and warm but that does not seem to be happening. We called yesterday and invited mom out to lunch today along with my brother and sister-in-law. The weather is cold but the weather has been cold for so long that we are all getting used to it—I imagine sort of like how the Russian survive their winters. Dianne and I got the restaurant first got a table and mom's group soon followed. My brother and his wife had not been there before. Mom was looking well and doing well for her 95 years. We sat and visited briefly then ordered. Mom was not sure what she wanted and I recommended the soft chicken taco. She was surprised at the size of the taco but I have to admit the taco seemed dry and not too appetizing to me. I asked if she wanted to order something else and she did not or if she wanted some of my dinner and she didn't. She just sat there and choked down her taco after covering it with ketchup. The day seemed like failure all round but I was able to see mom and spend some time with my brother. I jut wish mom's taco had been better.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Lost Minutes and Found Time



We had a “prep” meeting for my quarterly Advisory Board meeting. I have never had a “prep” meeting before and was mildly astonished that all of the regular staff attended—this could have been a little “Over Kill” but still I appreciated the input. The meeting is still almost three weeks away and at times the meeting was annoying from input from staff who did not know what they were talking about. The meeting took nearly 90 minutes but I was finally able to come away with an Agenda for the meeting. So I will be able to get the Meeting Announcement and The Agenda finished and posted next week.

I returned to my desk following the meeting and immediately started searching for the minutes for the last meeting, of in this case the October meeting. I was feeling a little fuzzy over where I may have stored this item and began running searches with my Word program: nothing. I ran it again and changed the spelling of the document, I did a search my date and even a search by “words inside document” again, nothing. I started getting nervous and began to feel like the bad guy (Tony Goldwyn) in Ghost where he cannot find the money he hid in Sam’s account and Goldwyn is madly searching through all the companies data banks. That’s how I felt. I was not too worried. I still have tons of time and worst-case scenario I could reconstruct the minutes if I had to. I was sure I had mailed the minutes out and if I could get my hands on one of those copies I could just scan the minutes into the system. There are other documents which I Can get my hands on and as I assembled them I came across a document we used Survey Monkey to produce and then it dawned on me. I did not do minutes of the last Board meeting because we did not have a formal board meeting. We were in the middle of hosting a number of focus groups aimed at better serving our customers and I had planned to use the information from the focus group as the minutes for last quarters meeting. This revelation greatly reduced my stress levels.

So this is the end of the first week with the new secretary, as I wrote early the office dynamics are quickly changing nothing glaring yet but I sense the “the pot is beginning to boil”. I am not sure what it is but the staff is slightly irritating. I am sure it’s the old setting boundaries thing. She definitely has a different way of doing things—which are not bad or wrong it’s just change and you know how I hate change. Part of it I have not been “told what” to do for as long as I have been in this office and not this new person is almost ordering me to do things. As I write, this truly looks silly but it is how I feel. There are some other things as well but I shall not go into those right now.

The gunge is still in the air maybe for another week but that is not stopping us. Tomorrow Dianne and I are planning on taking Mom out to Mexican. Mom has been talking about Mexican food since Christmas. It should be fun.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Food Courts, Blick!

Every once in a while I have to expose my self to the ware of the food court. It does not matter which food court since food courts, in this day of age are somewhat ubiquitous. I would if this is a national plot to keep food courts looking to different one from another. Anymore all food courts must have something Mexican, Chinese, Italian , at least on sandwich offering, pizza, hot dog variable whether it’s, Dog on a stick and fish offering of some sort. Anywhere I go it’s always the same.

Today I had to go ,to the mall across the street from my office to pick up a book and while I was there I thought I would talk myself to lunch—run down top the food court. I had taken a late lunch and as I has surmised there were no lines. I was excited until I opened the door to the food-court and realized everything at th court was old, no new choices. TacomTime looked to heavy, Chinese Express looked to greasy, Dog on a Stick looked too sexist, and McDonald’s well, too McDonalds. Instant food funk and once I have the food funk the best I can do is order the least expensive. If you cannot eat good then you might as well eat cheap.

I finally caved in under a ticking clock and a growling stomach. I chose Subway Sandwich.

Subway’s big deal is that you get to examine your sandwich being constructed. In fact you are vested in the sandwich’s construction. The only trouble with this system for person in a wheelchair is that the system is built for someone who stands. So there I am sitting in front of the sandwich building zone, the adolescent is asking me what I want on it and she cannot hear my answers. I am basically left to pointing to the items I want on my sandwich like a trained chimp in some sort of a primate exhibit. Never mind that through this whole process the adolescent in the transparent plastic gloves was flirting with this guy in the line next to mine. I got one of the toasted choices, a steak sandwich. I always have this mental image of the commercials I am bombarded with during the dinner hour as I watch the news. Fat succulent sandwiches that never look like what I order. In fafct I don’t even order what I really would like order which would be the Hot meatball sub. I would never order this on a work day. I would look dreadful when I would be done with that.

I finally get my toasted steak sandwich and scurry over to a table. I splurged for a bag of vinegar chips but no drink. I sit and watch people as I scarf my sandwich. Little teenage “bone” chicks eating big mac’s then running to the bathrooms to ralf it all back up. I cannot finish soon enough. I swear I’ll never do the food court again but I know that is a promise I cannot keep. I’ll forget in a couple of weeks just how bad foodcourt life is and show up looking for the least of the evils to eat.



Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cookies!



The new secretary at the office has a daughter who is an active girl scout andf you know what that means? Girl Scout cookies! One of the best and most accepted direct sales program ever established. In the “old days” it was brown skirted, beanie wearing, lasses going door to door taking orders for cookies. Two to three week later, after I have forgotten totally, that I even ordered the treats the boxes show up on my desk with a nice little request for payment, simple as that. I the short bread, the gooey one with chocolate criss-cross and one of the peanut variety. Ordering Girl Scout cookies is one of the example of self deception I know of. Like who needs Girl Scout cookies, absolutely no one. But for three bucks and fifty cents a box, which is not a deal, you get a box of flour and sugar and the noble feeling that you have helped a program in need. Nowadays a respectable parent would not allow their girl scout to wander neighborhoods un-escorted, its just easier and safer to just send the order form to work with mom or dad or both and have the parents circulate the form all over the office or plant. This just boggles the mind when one ponders the financial ramifications this method must have for GSA( Girl Scouts of America)!

I bought three boxes of cookies, the lady in the office next door bought one, my partner one and I am sure my boss will buy a couple of boxes. So that is $35.00 dollars right there and sounds like she is going to take the list to friends at the office she just left. I bet she gets at least fifty sales from her work contacts.

As a kid I never understood direct marketing. I could not never see how one could make any money selling things door to door. It’s not like you were guaranteed a sale every time you knocked on the door. You were not even in the running to make a sale unless someone, 1 opened the door, 2. listened to what you had to say , three did not bodily throw you out. You had to get past these four steps just present the sales pitch and coax them to purchase, get them to sign the dotted line.

I sold scout jamboree tickets, candy bars for wrestling, magazines, light bulbs and these great cans of candy. I never did very well like I said—in some cases I just ate the inventory other cases I lost the money or just lost track of the sale. The reward of the successful sale was just not quick enough for me. Oh there was also the fear of “selling” the person who was going to answer the door. I did not understand the mathematical concept of probabilities. I did not understand that if I just kept selling that I sooner or later would make a sale. Sales was all numbers. I know that now and I have done well with sales when I have had to. I certainly not Think and Grow Rich kind of stuff but I can survive.

I hope where ever you are you have someone in your space selling Girl Scout cookies. Order yourself a treat and do something good.



Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lost Day

I just have to say that today is a lost day. I was up again all night on the toilet. Then when I did get back to bed I could not get to sleep because I thought I might still have to use the porcelain throne. Dianne thought I should stay home but I just could not since it is exactly a week since I stayed home last. It was last Tuesday, the day after MLK day. I want to avoid the appearance of habitual sick outing. So when 4:30 rolled around this morning an I tried t roll out of bed ended up spending another half hour in the sack. How ever I was able to make it to work before the eight o clock hour. I was a bit more then surprised myself.

The boss had told me that she was going to be a couple of hours late so I knew it was just going to be the new person, who started yesterday. I figure I had better be here to help out incase she needed some direction or whatever. It seems like a energetic new employee always wants to get the “lay of the land” so to speak when they come on board. The scrutinize the staff and find the safest looking staff and then start with the questions. I forgot to mention not only safest but “long term staff”. I fit that description. I am a fairly nice guy; especially with my new glasses and I and the longest full time staff member at this office. Now, I have been too quick to trust in the past and have gotten burnt. So the when the new person started asking THE questions I just smiled at her and shook my finger. It’sd way too early for me to be telling you, the new person, the secretes and telling her where the skeletons are buried. I exchanged a little data: a couple of safe stories about some staff and some consumer but all safe.

A month a go is was just a couple of days before Christmas. The longest darkest nights of the year and hardly any staff filled this office. Since then we have hired four staff—one full time and three part-timers. So, there is a buzz again in the office a tension and a sense of things happening. Since so many staff have come on board all at once I have not seen the pairing up or the dividing of staff into camps as I have seen over the years I have worked here—or anywhere. I am sure the camps will develop and the secrete conversations will take place it’s just a matter of time. In the mean time Salt Lake is caught in it’s annual Winter Inversions. Clear sun lit days filtered through particulate matter from, mostly vehicular omissions and some smoke from wood burning stoves. Cold dirty air trapped in the bottom of a trough—just sitting and polluting those who have to stay in the trough. The rich, famous or fortunate rise above the inversion zone to ski or play at Sundance or other Film Festivals currently happening in the State. The rest of us are rolling back and forth from work, every day pretending what ever is in the air is not bother us. We wait for a storm, or wind or a miracle to bring back a breathable environment.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Once Again:Assume the Position

It’s happening again, it’s a little thing, but it’s happening again people with disabilities are being inched out of the community a little bit and again. I found out this morning that Transitional Living Center(TLC)a place in Salt Lake where people with sever disabilities can live and learn the skills needed to live as independently as possible. Granted, the disabilities in question are folks with spinal cord injury(SCI) or head injury but these folks need services too and I’ll tell you what these services are not out there in Salt Lake are really anywhere else.

The TLC I a small, 7 unit apartment complex on Salt Lake’s East side. These units are own by the Community Services Council—a local do-gooder operation which is becoming nothing more then a colossal food bank. Food banks are all important, do not get me wrong but to get rid of other things a community truly needs just because of it’s cost or complications that is another thing entirely. The TLC has been a place where folks who haven usually, incurred some sort of spinal cord injury, after they have completed their physical therapy, could go to put into practice those skills learned at PT/OT in the hospital setting. People with SCI with nowhere else to go had the TLC.

When you got an apartment at the TLC it was for at least for six months and more often a year. Not that it took a year to learn these skills as much as it might take a year or longer to find an accessible unit when the person was ready to transition out. The TLC is owned by the Community services Council and managed in conjunction with the independent living center, Housing Authority of Salt Lake City. The TLC also works with service providers to ensure that folks who need attendant care services has access to these services. The TLC is also on a wheelchair accessible bust route. In fact when the accessible bus routes were first designated it was essential that one of the first routes would be NUMBER 5, or Fifth East, right infront of the TLC.

I worked for more then 13 years as housing coordinator for the independent living center. Salt Lake had no designated accessible housing then, 1984 and the City has some designated housing whether it be subsidized housing or private rentals. The privates prices are so high that few if any persons with a disability living on Federal subsidies can consider or be considered to live in one of these units. The Federally subsidized units owned or managed by the PHA’s (public housing authorities) have waiting lists years long. It’s a joke.

Lowell Bennion essentially created the TLC. Lowell Bennion was a truly good person, one of the few to come along. I doubt Lowell would be too happy to see what his organization is being morphed into and that in doing so has caused a rend in the housing fabric of this community large enough to let a whole population to slip through.

It’s happening again, it’s a little thing, but it’s happening again people with disabilities are being inched out of the community a little bit and again. I found out this morning that Transitional Living Center(TLC)a place in Salt Lake where people with sever disabilities can live and learn the skills needed to live as independently as possible. Granted, the disabilities in question are folks with spinal cord injury(SCI) or head injury but these folks need services too and I’ll tell you what these services are not out there in Salt Lake are really anywhere else.

The TLC I a small, 7 unit apartment complex on Salt Lake’s East side. These units are own by the Community Services Council—a local do-gooder operation which is becoming nothing more then a colossal food bank. Food banks are all important, do not get me wrong but to get rid of other things a community truly needs just because of it’s cost or complications that is another thing entirely. The TLC has been a place where folks who haven usually, incurred some sort of spinal cord injury, after they have completed their physical therapy, could go to put into practice those skills learned at PT/OT in the hospital setting. People with SCI with nowhere else to go had the TLC.

When you got an apartment at the TLC it was for at least for six months and more often a year. Not that it took a year to learn these skills as much as it might take a year or longer to find an accessible unit when the person was ready to transition out. The TLC is owned by the Community services Council and managed in conjunction with the independent living center, Housing Authority of Salt Lake City. The TLC also works with service providers to ensure that folks who need attendant care services has access to these services. The TLC is also on a wheelchair accessible bust route. In fact when the accessible bus routes were first designated it was essential that one of the first routes would be NUMBER 5, or Fifth East, right infront of the TLC.

I worked for more then 13 years as housing coordinator for the independent living center. Salt Lake had no designated accessible housing then, 1984 and the City has some designated housing whether it be subsidized housing or private rentals. The privates prices are so high that few if any persons with a disability living on Federal subsidies can consider or be considered to live in one of these units. The Federally subsidized units owned or managed by the PHA’s (public housing authorities) have waiting lists years long. It’s a joke.

Lowell Bennion essentially created the TLC. Lowell Bennion was a truly good person, one of the few to come along. I doubt Lowell would be too happy to see what his organization is being morphed into and that in doing so has caused a rend in the housing fabric of this community large enough to let a whole population to slip through.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Brand New Specs





I finally got dressed this afternoon and the only reason I did that was I had to pick up my new glasses. My $500.00 plus specks. Snow fell during the night, a small front push through but the front cleaned the air out and the mountains were visible again and the sun gave the illusion that there might be some heat outside somewhere. I was wrong. So I hustled and go out to the van did the mandatory ten minute warm up then over to Eye World (EW). I have only visited this place on Sundays and each time my experience has been weird; not necessarily bad but just sort of strange.

When I got to EW there were three or for other customers in the showroom or just coming in like me. What was strange was I could not see any staff. There was a “cosmopolitan” going through frames. A burly kind of guy just looking round like he would rather be anywhere on Earth at the moment then here. But something happed during his week that forced him to be here and then there was a family with two or three kids all looking like they could not afford to be here but I bet the “ buy one get two pair free” brought them in. Yet there was no one to help. This same experience happened to me two weeks ago but I was the only one in the showroom then I heard noise in the back and finally rolled into the break room where staff were playing. I heard the same noise this week and sure enough thats where where the staff were. I put my chair in gear and broke up the party. I did not glare but gave a good “Adult waiting” look and soon Kerianne was out to help me. Kerianne, a skinny post adolescent with black and blond hair and enough mascara on to look like a muscat raccoon, you take your pick. Kerianne is most likely a recovering goth.

Kerianne was shocked to see so many people waiting and called for reinforcements. Kerianne could not find my new glasses at first but after a search of another room came out my glasses. Kerianne spent an inordinate amount of time polishing the glasses but finally called me over and slipped them onto my face. I have to admit the glasses felt good and I was surprised at how well the glasses felt and how better my vision instantly was. Kerianne asked all the right questions, “do the feel Ok”, “Oooh, you look great”, “Do you want a hard or soft glasses case?”

I have to admit the experience went a lot better then anticipated. I thought sure I was going to be saddled with a pair of specs I would hate, but not the case. The glasses look good, feel good and see good. What more could I want? A pair which cost less then $500.+

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Flat Tire and New Compressor






I have been limping round the house for the past couple of days in my manual wheelchair. I let one of the tires go flat, an insidious leak. I meant to get the tire filled with air but every evening I was too tired and the task never got done and by Wednesday the tire was completely flat. The left tire was just fine and I was able to get by but I had had enough of limping round last night I vowed that today I was going to get that tire fixed today.

Its funny when you “live” out of your wheelchair any little change has a marked effect on your quality of life. How you sit in your chair, transferring in and out of bed even dressing. It took me an hour just to get dressed this morning. Your entire mood can is really based on what condition your wheelchair is in. I finally got my boots on and laced and I was out the door in my power chair, warming up the van, throwing water on the windshield so I could see and heading for Goslen's bike shop. I had called Goslen's and was excited to find that Goslen's indeed did have the inner tube I needed for my wheelchair. Well, I popped the wheel off and took it with me.

My buddy Alan Kimball or Larry Orr, both paras, would never have considered so much work for getting a flat tire fixed. They would have just thrown the chair on it's side take pulled the tube out and either patched the offending tube or installed a new tube. then pumped the tire up and been on their way to go play basket ball or ski or something—maybe twenty minutes out of their day. But not me—I am a quad. I have to have someone else just about do everything for me. Last time I tried to change a tire I punctured the tube and my self esteem so bad I elected to pay someone else to do the job. I fact the last time my tire lost enough air that I needed to call someone for assistance. I drove over to Sears and purchased huge air compressor so I could keep my tired aired up anytime I wanted. I came home put the compressor in the garage and realized to use the compressor I had to be in the garage, when the garage was clean enough that I could access the garage. Also getting to the garage in the winter is a trial at best. So after I got the tire repaired I stopped by Harbor Freight. Harbor Freight that great store where the best Red Chinese tools are sold t price the common man can afford. There I agonized over their compressors for an hour or more and finally settled on a one gallon compressor, light weight and small enough I can keep it in my computer room and use it when ever I need all by myself.

The air is still frigid and I wear my gloves where ever I go. I am old now and I have to do a lot of things like that. It was snowing as I drove home.

Friday, January 19, 2007

In The Eyes of the Beholder




Remember in the movie A Christmas Story ( the movie which made the Red Rider Bb gun famous along with the line”…you’ll shot your eyer out”? I the movie there is a great part where Ralphie’s dad wins some contest and is sent a plastic women’s leg which has been fashioned into a table lamp? This scene is truly indicative of “in the eye of the beholder. I snapped this image today,with my new camera, of , what I believe a similar work of art.

This lamp was built by a friend of mine who lives in Roosevelt,Utah. The fellow has had some significant head injury in his life and has had some significant challenges to over come in his life. Bryon built this lamp a year or so ago and has been dragging the lamp round the state in hopes of finding a buyer. This is so much more then a lamp, it’s a work of art. He should really consider placing the lamp on Ebay and see where it goes. Bryon has made a couple of these drift/desert masterpieces. Sadly none of the lamps have sold very well but have made great gifts at fund raisers. This lamp is well over five feet tall, needs a lampshade but could also do double duty as a coat rack. Bryon loves this lamp, its his lamp he fashioned it with his own hands. I know his attachment. Some of you readers who have been with this blog know I make hooks. I fashion hooks from discarded pieces of oak I get from furniture manufacturers. I think I love each and every hook I make out of a plain piece of oak. I knock off the edges then either turn on a lather to round or jut vice up and go at the stick with an orbital sander or just sand paper. When I have made a piece smooth to my standards, I drill a hole in one end then I twist a bike hook in and I’m done. I think my hooks are wonderful examples of low-tech assistive technology. I love my hooks and I can barely give them away. A couple of years ago I was really hyped up to do a mail order delivery business of hooks from my garage (actually I was just tying my expense and time on this wood project. I bet I made over a hundred hooks that year and sold maybe three but gave a lot away. I was selling the hooks cheap too! $5.00 for a regular sized hook( up to36 inches) and $10.00 for my deck hooks, hock which can 48-60 inches long, long enough a person could pick a hose off the lawn from a yard deck. I still have hooks in my garage and I still lover my hooks and believe in them. In fact, just last week I fund a new source for oak and plan to secure a van load of wood this coming Spring when the Winter passes and I can clean out my garage enough to work in my shop.

There’s not a whole lot of difference between old Bryon and me: just two guys driven to work with their hands and trying to be validated for their efforts.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


The pup is wearing me out. I am sure I have rendered some form of irretraceable mental illness on the poor little beast but ginger is out of control! Ginger must now be in the 14-18 week age. She has progressed into the taunting stage of her life. I will be surprised if the little dogs survives this stage. She has got to know the house well enough now that she has favorite hiding places round the house where she loves to go when she is being chased by hostile owners. I swear she has grown yet another two inches. Ginger has realized now she can use her paws to reach and grab things like never before especially food items. Ginger has turned into the typical brat literally running from one mess to another, evading her owners and pooping and peeing at will. In fact we now keep a disinfected mop sitting in the corner and we go over the disparaged floor on a regular bases.

This last week Ginger has learned to launch her self onto the rawhide couch in the TV room. Cinnamon in all her days was never allowed on the couch and I doubt there will be a special dispensation cut for Ginger. Ginger’s cage is kept in the TV room and Ginger usually keeps as far away from her box as possible. If the door is left open she will go into her cage nd actually take a nap. I have only seen this happen three times. Where she has learned that she can run and propel her self on to the couch she has not generalized this behavior to the bed in our room, the bed in Auni’s room or the kitchen table. I am sure those times are coming.

The backyard is Ginger’s domain the whole area being her reserved toilet. We thought we had the backyard secured but she has found a way to escape the yard anfd more then once when turned out back to “do her business” we have been surprised with scratching on the front door; she has escaped the backyard. Luckily she is too stupid to realize that once she is free of the backyard she is free and she could be long gone but thankfully the little dog has not done the math…yet.

Ginger runs, she runs everywhere, food dish, kitchen, check all doors to all the rooms to see if one has not been closed, check table to see if she can reach anything of any interest from food to newspapers, run, run, down to the laundry and grab some socks to run round the house with, there’s a shoe GET IT—chew, chew,chew…stop mouth full of dog food then a drink of water then over to try to jump up on mom’s lap . After being thrown off the lap or pushed down start all over again. Oh yeah I forgot to poop in th bedroom if I can get in (puppy thoughts not mine).

I am afraid, I have bonded with the canine now. When I get home from work Ginger does the craized “ I have not seen you in a million years dance and jump” and play with me because no one has for an hour or more and I will fall apart or something if someone does not rough house with me soon…where is Gabe or Mark A I know they would play with me if they were here. This goes on till nine-o-clock when neigher Dianne or I cannot take it any longer and we hurl ginger into her cage, douse the light and retreat to the bedroom to watch the news and retrieve our sanity.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

A Nother Camera

I replaced my digital camera this afternoon with an identical camera: another Nikon coolpix L3. Replacing the camera was kind of scary but I did it anyway. I was torn in wanting to upgrade to a different image taking systemt knowing if I were to get anything more sophisticated then what I already had I am just asking for trouble. Actually, I should with a tougher camera. Actually the coolpix is not bad just dropping the camera the way I did damaged the item beyond affordable repair. If fact that conversation this morning is what dove me out in this afternoon’s brisk, chill air. I got someone at the Nikon technical desk and he said that maybe the system could be repaired but even if they were able to repair the camera the cost would be equal or more then the camera is worth. This idea was reinforced when I next I called the Gateway Office Depot and person I spoke with said the same thing.

I took off at lunch for the new Office Depot which is kinda of across the street from my office. I was kind of hoping there would have some close out’s which may cost less—but that is one of my life’s problems: always trying to find something which cost less. So, I stopped myself and purchased the Coolpix with a replacement warranty. I should have purchased one when I bought the ordinal camera.

Am I irresponsible for just going out and purchasing this camera ? If I had sat and pondered, debated with self and possibly others. I have the resources to do it so I did it. I cannot say I really needed to have an functional camera. It is not like I am a photo journalist or even the editor iof a newsletter. I write a blog and sometimes I include images of my day in this blog. Is that enough to justify going out and splurging? The only other things I buy for myself are pens, some computer equipment and books( paper back novels). I pathetically sound like I am trying to justify my actions. So bottom line is I want a working camera and that is all I am going to say.

For those of you who care. I was ill yesterday—actually I took sick the night before—nothing serious just diarrhea, kept me up all night and I was exhausted yesterday so I stayed home while my stomach settled down. I even stayed in bed a good part of the day. I hate staying home on a “workday. Television sucks, I am really not up to sitting at the computer to work and a person can only sleep for so long. In fact I woke in the middle of the night my body thinking that it is time I should be getting up. I hate lying,wide awake in bed, in my house in the middle of the night. The clocks tick loudly, the house settles and I can hear the traffic out on the INTERSTATE endless driving o their endless destinations. I hate lying nthee wide away knowing that the morning time is coming when I will be expected to rise and face the world fresh and happy. Knowing each minute I lay awake now will make me that much more sleepy then.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Opps Not Again





I did it again! I have destroyed another digital camera. This camera was my favorite too. Not all is lost, I am hoping the camera can be fixed at least I am going to try. The bottom line is maybe a digital camera is too fragile a device for a quadriplegic to try to credibly use for any extended period of time.

I was up early this morning the dog was fairly quiet, Dianne was sleeping so I was creeping round the house trying to take some creative images and as I was fiddling with the camera the unit slipped from my hands and fell to the hard wood floor and that was that. The camera is a Nikon Cool pix 2 and the problem is that when the camera fell to the floor the camera lit on its telescoping lens and bent the mechanism which pushes the lens out and brings the lens back. When I turn the camera on the lens slaves to move but cannot. I am hoping if I take the camera to a camera craftsman he will be able pound the unit back into to use able condition.

This Cool Pix was my first 5 mega pixel. I like it for that reason. The camera has some nice features, motion picture option and a neat audio recording function. But the whole system shuts down with this lens issue.

My first digital camera was a clunky 1 mega pixel Sony, and my second was a 3.2 also a Sony. I terribly liked all three cameras and learned a great deal from each. If I must replace this third I really do not want to go any higher then 5.1 mega pixels if I do not have to. Any higher, then I think you're waisting card space and making images so huge it's impossible to really send or use. I am really hoping everyone else will want to get as high a MP as possible which should make the lower MP cameras in lower demand. I wish I had the patience of my son, mark A, who has used EBAY a lot to get his cameras. I have to admit he has done quite well.

Some of the things I have learned I need to have a camera which selects the shooting features my button rather then by twisting a knob. My second camera was a knob twister and it quite literally wore out. The dial stripped so bad that I could not even turn the camera on with my teeth. I have been purchasing entry level gear and I have been getting entry level results. I have been pleased with the close up shooting but have not been pleased with long distance images. I also have not been happy with how long these low end cameras take to recharge to take the next image. Yet, I sure do not wand to spend anymore on a higher quality of apparatus just to drop it and loose it. That would make me cry. Right now I see this experience as a good excuse to acquire another picture taking machine.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Sunday Ramblings

It is still too cold to leave the house unless there is a damn good reason to so I stayed in yet another day. Reading, surfing on the Net, some art work and playing with the pup. We finally did cook the New years ham but basically did inside stuff.

It's the two coldest months of the year and as I sat in side and looked out I saw sheets of ice on the sidewalk, where the snow will melt leave a very shallow pool of water on the walk which freezes hard during these old spells.

In Boise where I grew up the New York canal cut thew our property. The New York is a huge irrigation canal which waters farm through south west Idaho. The canal, for the most part has cement sides and bottom . The floor is flat so when the last day of irrigation is completed and the flow of water is stopped large pools of water remain on the floor of the canal. Some places the water can be a couple of feet deep. There is of course fish trapped in these pools and we would have great fun hunting these , usually suckers with rocks or pitch forks. However, by December the fish were gone and most of the water but there were always a few long, wide sheets of water which would freeze into ice. My two friends John and Tom and my brother Ross found we could simulate skating by sliding our feel on the ice. We then found long tree limbs broke them off at the joint which would make respectable hockey sticks. Add a fairly flat and round stone and we would have a puck. We would then play hockey all morning long. We found we had to play in the morning because as the day warmed the ice would melt. The New York runs East to West and we discovered the sun rarely rose high enough to hit the South most side of the canal and there the ice would stay the longest.

Following the first year we discovered ice in the canal the four of us ordered ice skates for Christmas and got them! Ice skates opened up a whole new experience. Speed and grace far above sliding on the ice with your shoes. We skated the canal and we were even lucky enough to find skateable patches of ice on the Boise River by John and Tom's place.

By the middle of February the ice was gone as the season turned toward Spring. The skate were thrown to th back of my closet to patiently wait for another winter. It's weird but it seems to me that no long after that the Boise winters did not seem to get so cold as the winters once did. Global warming? This was the early 60's years and wars before the menace of global warming was thought of. The only threat in the sky then was Sputnik, Russian ICBMs and the occasional UFO.

On cold days like today its nice to reflect back on a time when the colder it got the better it was.



Saturday, January 13, 2007

Holiday Weekend






MLK day is one of those “guilt” holidays where it's hard to really enjoy. MLK is still a part of our history. We knew of him, many of were actually contemporaries sharing the same life space for a while. President's Day, Veteran's were like MLK Day but time has diminished the true meaning of the day other then th day's cherished value as a national holiday for boozing, gaming and shopping. Though I have to admit the local RC Willy's and a couple of car dealerships are have MLK sales. Gauche I know but what can I say—this is America.

I have to say that I am impressed with my boss. When I asked her what she was going to do for the holiday—he paused, looked thoughtful and said there were a couple films running at the local adv ante guard theater. The films were depictions of major events of Dr King's life. Wow, that's why she is the boss. She is always doing stuff like that. She even indicated she would be doing similar films next month for “Womens Month”

I am such a fark, I have not even gone out of the house today. The temperature is way to cold out there. I just checked the local temp it's 1 degree! The dog won't go out under her own volition. Dianne drags Ginger to the back door and heaves the dog out onto the deck to “do her business” and slams the door shut. Ginger squats, pretends to whiz then attacks the door until we let her in. Then she sprint to the floor vent under the front window where she will remain until she has generated enough urine to repeat the operation. I spent the early part of the day digging out my computer room but I have mostly read. I want to finish one of the books I am reading by the end of the holiday.

So, it “dead winter” a good time to pull the socks on and stay inside. Luckily before this cold snap hit we got the coffee beans purchased, bacon is in the fridge with the eggs. We will cook the New Year's ham tomorrow and gave cold cuts for “24”. It's a great night or throwing another comforter on the bed and and snuggling in bed with one of my good books and waiting for the cold to pass.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Do You See What I See?







The snow storm which came through this region yesterday brought bone chilling temperatures with it. Today I had a table at an information fair over at the blind center. For this reason I drove the van into work today which is good because it is freezing out there. I got back from the Info fair about a hour ago and I still have not warmed up. On top of this my throat seems a little scratchy and I am feeling a little sickly. I am feeling tired and achy. I am sure I’ll perk up by the time I get home.

Luckily for me the Info Fair at the blind center was just over lunch. So just about three hours gone from my desk in the middle of the day. Unlucky for me the Info Fair was showcasing assistive technology for people with vision impairments i.e. blind and none of the information I have is readable by those of low-vision and with out sight. I did a lot of talking today. Actually I was pleasantly surprised to have a steady stream of people come up to my table and either ask good questions or ask for literature even if the literature was not brailed. However, I was interested to find a piece of software being sold at the fair capable of printing brail tape which can be affixed to business cards and brochures. This software might be the best way to work on the problem of no brailed materials. I passed out cards, brochures, refrigerator magnets, can openers, and lots of pencils. Today’s main item of desire was the can openers. Actually, the device is a key ring hooked to a small plastic can opener. I will take an image of the can openers and up load the device with this posting. The opener is used to lift up the ring on a pop top cans like soft drink and beer cans.

I have a buddy named Sachin who works for a university up North of this city. Sachin works for the Center for People with Disabilities (CPD). Sachin is quite blind and is their Assistive Technology(Blind) guy. He uses a black Labrador retriever for a guide dog. Sachin was at the table right next t mine. On the other side of Sachin’s table was a guy named Earl from back East somewhere and this guy was also blind and had a huge beautiful cream colored Labrador. The dogs were separated by the table. Something happened mid-afternoon and for reason or another these dogs suddenly went after each other. Massive barking and growling, quite unsettling but the two blind guys pulled the dogs apart and that was that. Sachin said something about territories are something. There must have been atleast eight other guide dogs in the room and they were all cool. I wonderful if blind folks have to deal with this kind of dog behavior often. What a hassle.

I have known a lot of blind folks, cane users and dog users they are interesting folk. I tend to like them. Like the deaf the blind are a culture unto themselves and I like visiting their worlds every now and then but I am always glad to come back to my comfortable disability. It's like coming home.




Thursday, January 11, 2007

Go Duane!!

My Buddy Duane just got a directorship of a State Agency or program all I now that he is now the top-dog. This is so strange to see these young guys take positions of State leadership. When Duane was this new face in the local Rehabilitation constellation. At least I had never seen him before. I was still working in Independent Living and this new guy started showing up to some of our staff meetings and other activities we had going. Then I found out Duane was heading up the Center for Assistive Technology across town, who says they are independent but are really Vocational Rehabilitation. Old Duane liked us guys in wheelchairs ,actually he really liked the para’s (the jock heads) but he got along well with the quads on staff as well. I chairs though and he got to be one of our best supporters.

Duane and I started doing lunch, usually one a quarter. I felt I was spying on Rehab at the time. I was surprised to see him as one of them young toughs at the Agency. Duane did not necessarily make trouble but he did not shy a way from a fight. I did not know that his position with in the rehab agency was as high in the organizational food chain as it was and then something happened and the next thing I new he was gone entirely. I doubt he got fired but Duane was no longer with rehab. Duane popped up in another State office entirely and Duane was doing good real good. He worked hard. We did not have lunch as often as we did and he had to cancel a couple lunch dates the guy seemed totally busy. I stepped back, figured Duane had to do his thing. I got involved in my job and we sort of lost track...it's easy to do. Then this morning an email blooped up on my screen. It was one of the State Directors announcing my buddy Duane was being installed as director of one of the largest and toughest Divisions in the State. This is going to be a big ass job. If i thought Duane was busy before I bet I bet I ain't seen nothing yet.

I don't really know how tough Duane is. Do I think he is tough enough for this job I think he is. I guess if I am concerned about anything it is the political side of the position. Duane is a real person, genuine and has never had time for the crap these types of job puts a person through. Duane reminds me of Bruce Willis, he looks good when he shaves his head, wears a tank top muscle shirt and wears those little granny sun glasses. He looked cool almost like he was trying to recapture his youth. I guess he was to degree but I think he was also biding his time till this kind of position opened up. He got the plumb now and I guess the other stuff will go to the back of he closet. I will miss them but I will also be very interested in seeing take this new responsibility on and sees how he wears it. I fired off an email to my buddy Duane after I got the notification, congratulating him and telling him to make time for me when the snow melts and he gets settled into his new office. It's one of those nice things a person writes to a friend when the moves on with their lives to a level where you don't fit. Half an hour later I got a reply...'make time for me, Meadowlark let's do lunch in a couple of weeks.' I smiled to myself and printed out the email.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Make Em Happy

One of my goals this year is to meet with each of my offices financial providers and have their staff present their operation to me so they are sure I that am sure that I know what I am talking about when I refer people to their program. I went with their staff right after lunch—not a good time for me since I am always a little dozey after lunch and feigning attention is a skill I never picked up at University.

I have been doing this job for almost eight years now and I have never gone over to the funders for this kind orientation. Not only is the orientation good for me as an Information Officer but really make our operation look good. Going to the providers is like going to the fountainhead. The office I had to travel to is just four blocks away from my office. I took my lunch an hour before the meeting so I would have time to stop of at the Crown Burger on the way.

Today I met with Chuck, Betsy and my board rep from this agency Angie. The program manager who is also a PhD. Now this Program Manager has never really impressed me but I diid see him on his home turf today and I have to admit I did come away from a way from the meeting seeing him in a new light. Not a whole lot changed in my opinion of the bureaucrat. What I saw today was a misplaced wannabe professor type. Actually, as my memory serves me correctly that is what he was. He se seemed in love with himself and his position, weaving or trying to weave word gardens to explain himself and his programs and hideout all at the same time. The guy reminded me of a couple of my Psych professors who were still trying to be the cool hip cat they thought they once were. It was sad because this bureaucrat was so far from the image he wanted to portray it was laughable. I did not laugh then as I did not laugh today-at least not in their presence- I have pretty keen survival skills. I know more then once my eyes glazed over and I was doing the mouth thing where you try to make a cavern inside your mouth to hide a yawn in all the while looking, alert, attentive. The mouth thing happened numerous times.

The other presenter was great. An RN who knew her stuff and told me what I needed to know and then let me go. I was at the at Anti-human services just about an hour. I got brochures and phone numbers and a new respect for the Waivers program. I still will approach any of this information with a healthy dose of cynicism because I hear back from the consumers and the consumers families at just what services are not being renders and I know about the unmoving waiting list and a couple of other items or which this particular bureaucracy this infamous.

One down and two agencies to go…I’m making progress…

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Game Night

My office shares office space with the State Developmental Disabilities Council. When I first came on board here at Access and the DD council were quite separate. But as my funding streams eroded during the conservative occupation of the White house and Congress, Access and DD Council have blended as the Council has had to “bail-out” access when we could not make rent. Now good, bad or indifferent Access is nor firmly a part of Council. We cover their phones and they use our “800” number and there is much confusion as to the separation between Access and the DD Council. On the Outside people constantly think we are the same. So I guess now we are more the same then we have ever been before.

Today was Council Day, council members converge, are fed and progress is , hopefully, made on the Council goals. Since I am “Staff” I staff one of the Council breakout groups. In this case, I staff the Transportation committee. The Transportation Committee is chaired by one of the Council who IS actually developementally disabled. As Staff to the committee I make the copies, keep the minutes of the meetings and help the committee chair run an effective meeting. My Committee is great—she works hard to make and take assignments. Chairing this committee is hard for her and I watch her struggle with the challenges leading such a group can be. But She is doing it, she is chairing the group from calling the meetings to making the report to the full council of the Committee’s work.

I have chaired many various committees and meeting over my career in private non-profit/State government. So, at times I bridle at the bit as I sit through meetings chaired by some of these new “legions” of people with disabilities gaining the skills they will need to be tomorrow’s leaders in the Community of people with disabilities. Then I sit back and remember the first meetings I chair and some of the meeting I still chair today. I am not a good public speaker, I stumble and fumble all over but the folks in these groups put up with me. I continue to grow…and maybe one day I will be the chair I think I am.

So I am happy to sit back and enjoy Keli leading the meeting. I have the easy job to be the inviseable ninja in the background making sure the Chairperson has everything she needs to bring off a perfect meeting.

The sun has almost set, as I near the end of my work day, even though we are now lengthing the day every day by a few moment each day the sun still set early. Looks like a game night though—the local pro basket ball the local parking lot hawkers are in place with their orange cones, green vests and and flash lights trying to encourage game goers to use THEIR lot to park for the night…only S9.00 bucks.


Monday, January 08, 2007

Win Some Loose Some

I run a mini-call center for the State. We take calls of course regarding questions people might have regarding disability. Like any goof call center we have soft-ware which is supposed to track these communications with the end goal that when report time comes we can just type a couple of keys and get reports, charts and all kinds of information which can better explain to our funders what we do.

It’s a long, sad and woe some tale of the problems I have had in trying to either purchase software which will do this or build such software. This bureaucratic nightmare stretches over more then a decade (Remember the Y2K scare?) and has cost this little agency, my budget $1000.00’s. Five or Six years ago We purchased software from the local 211—information and referral agency. The director of that program wanted all the I&Rs throughout the state to use the same software which allow him and State programs to blend all of this information together so State leaders could write grants and produce beautiful reports with wonderfully hard data.

Over the four or five years since we purchased the soft ware we have had one glitch after another. The software was built on the Windows platform, which is good. I found out after I purchased the software the whole company consisted of two people-the person (Slick)we negotiated with for the purchase and the “behind the scene man” the guy who actually built the software(John). When ever I had questions bout the soft ware I had to go through Slick. Most of the questions I have had were questions I needed to speak to the developer of the software. But Slick would never let us speak with John for an appreciable length of time. On the few occasions we were able to either speak direct to John or have John physically visit our domain. Our problem was fixed in minutes. About six months ago slick left the Local United Way which made getting technical support way more difficult. In fact the last time I was able to corner Slick and ask for John to come over and help us find aa solution to a problem we were having Slick threatened us( kinda) by suggesting we were going t have to start paying for the tech support we were getting. Hey. I have no problem with that at least we would be able to get our needs met and our board satisfied.

Last month Slick and John’s old boss left the Food Bank and popped up as director at a United Way in a city to the North. I called Jodh this morning and was going over the problem and he advised me that John had gone to work at the same program as Slick had( big shock) and I could contact John direct. In less then five minutes I had john on the light and two minutes after that I had a solution to my long time software problem.

My information drought is now over I can run reports again, produce multi-colored diagrams and control my bureaucratic disteny. The only thing I cannot do is increase the amount of calls coming in…HELP!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I can See Clearly Now the Money's Gone...

Its funny how one event can start a larger chain of events which you feel you are completely out of control but of course you are in control and you choose to do nothing about. When I go to bed at night I place my glasses on the seat of my wheelchair. I do this so I know where the glasses will be when I get up the next morning. This morning as I was throwing the covers off of me when I got up I inadvertently knocked my glasses off my chair and into the spokes of my wheelchair. Darkness still ruled the morning and I tried to free my glasses by feel. When I had finally dislodged the specs I found I had torn one temple free of the frame. I still cannot figure out how I managed this feat but when I finally finally found the temple the screw was gone an hinge where the temple linked to the frame was mangled pretty bad. I really had nothing else planned to do day so I figured I would at least get the glasses fixed.

Auni was still with us and Dianne was pretty tired so I hung round helping out with Auni and the dog but I needed to escape before I failed completely as a grand parent. I needed gas-up the van and I also wanted to pick up a new SD card for my camera so I knew I would be making lot of stops. So, I stopped first at Eye World to get the repair done on the glasses.

The glasses were fixed, the sun was shining and I figured as long I was there I would get the new set of glasses. I was kind of hoping that they would be too busy to take me but I was informed they just had two cancellations and they would be able to take me. I gulped and said sure better to get the pain over with. Before I knew it I was turned over to Keli the optical tech. Keli directed to an exam room which is never accessible. I could get into the room but I had a difficult time getting up to the machine I had to look for the eye exam. Keli was great though. She was a small but tough. Keli informed me that she was a trained CNA(Certified Nurses Assistant) and she just jumped right in. Pulled me up straight in my chair and between the both of us snugged the eye machine up to my face and got the measurement. This completed she turned me over to the O.D.

Now the OD was a weird duck. I had to speculate ODs which have sprung up in Sams clubs, markets and places like Eye World across the country. Are these guys who could not find work in real offices. He seemed to be a bumbler. In fact the next test came when I was going to have to leave my chair. The doc just stood back and wringed his hands while Keli jumped in gave me a great frontal hug and braced my legs and threw me from my chair to the exam chair. I was impressed.

Fifteen minutes Keli and the doc got me back into the chair and I was handed my “free” prescription and sent to Debbie.

Debbie was ais one of those middle aged women who was probably a pretty cute “Debbie” in her day but now was just a nother “big nurse” character running the front office. I was told to pick the frames I wanted and to report back. In the mean time I had noted that the waiting room had filled up with all kinds of folks. And by that time I just wanted to get out of there. Eye World has this gimmick of “buy one get two free”. These are just gimmicks to get the fool in the door. I just wanted my glasses an I wanted to get out of Eye World...Twenty minutes I had turned over my Debit card and was $578.00 poorer with the promise on new glasses in a couple of weeks. I could not get out of there fast enough.

So, knocking my glasses of the wheelchair early this morning led to this purchase this afternoon. I did not plan this way it just happened.


Saturday, January 06, 2007

Saturday Lost

Today has been one of those lost Saturdays. I had a meeting at 1:30 which really prevented me from doing anything else. So I got up and dressed in slacks ad hung round till it was time to go to the meeting.

This morning we had both granddaughters so we did SHREK and STAR WARS IV. The dog has been be side herself with excitement to the point that Anakah tied Ginger up on her new leash to one of the power wheelchairs, and oddly enough Ginger been fairly compliant. She will focus and bark and whine for a while but soon will be good which is the same as being quiet. By 12:30 Dianne was up from her short nap and were half way through SWIV and I had to get going to the meeting I had been drafted into.

I had been to called a special meeting of the Board of Directors of West Branch Home Owners Association—a condominium complex on the cities westside. The instigator of the meeting is a woman who trains service animals, specifically dog for people with disabilities. I have communicated with her for years but I have never really met her in person. It's funny how you build an image of a person and how that image is dashed when you finally meet the individual in person.

Annie is a post middle aged women with shoulder length silver hair. Annie easily could be a lost child of the Sixties. She resents authority and takes on the establishment in behalf of the “little guy” more often then not people with disabilities. Annie wants to force her condominium into access compliance. There were about six folks there five in sympathy with Annie and one the Association rep, Mark , a big guy who you could tell pays the bills. Mark was all quiet and serious wearing shorts on one of the coldest days of the year.

I felt kind of bad because I know Annie had invited me to this meeting as the “ big ADA guy” “ the governor's disability rep. Annie wanted me to bring down the wrath of the ADA on these violators. Sorry, but I don't work that way even if I could. Annie yammered on about a whole lot of bleeding heart stuff about people in the condo community who have been hit by cars because the wheelchair user had been forced into the street. The place only has thirty open parking spaces and Annie wanted five of them designated as “handicapped” parking. I informed them that to be in compliance they only had to designate one space. I was surprised when Annie did not have a “melt down.”. Annie quickly accepted my input and gratefully moved on.

I mercifully brought the meeting to a close after about an hour. It seemed like a good place to close, Mark , the big guy, was more or less smiling realizing I was not there to draw financial blood., Annie was happy that I had shown up and seemed to support her agenda. I promised the group I wanted to come back when the weather was warmer and the snow was off the the sidewalks and streets and I would be happy to do a roll through and offer other suggestions for bringing access to their community without breaking their bank. If I do this right I can talk them into a BBQ too.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Double Booked Again!

I hate it when I double book myself and each time I do it I promise myself I will not double book myself again and already, the first Saturday of the New Year I have done just that. I was called by a old friend of my a bout two months to come out to her condominium check it for access to people with physical disabilities and maybe give brief presentation regarding the Fair Housing amendments. This was back in November before Thanksgiving and I said “sure! Not a problem.” Then I promptly forgot. I wrote the meeting down in my calendar but then got a new calendar for Christmas and somehow the new date did not make it across to the new planner. In fact I new I was supposed to have given the presentation but could not remember when the presentation had been scheduled. I had listed on my “to do” list all week long to contact Annie the person who had made the appointment but the days would run out before I could make contact. Then yesterday when I came into work I had a message from Annie, a reminder that I was scheduled to give the presentation this Saturday at 1:30 pm. Of course I have already promised to tend Jasmine tomorrow over the same time period.

Tomorrow I/we were to watch Anakah starting about 5:30 but with the revelation of Jasmine coming over in the morning we decided to have Anakah come over and spend the night this evening so that Anakah will be at the house when Jasmine comes over. If Anakah comes over Anakah can help tend Jasmine and also have someone to play with other then the new dog. The event tomorrow afternoon should not take much more then two hours.. I figure can take Jasmine with me if I need to but maybe Dianne can keep the two occupied while I am gone. This is a lot of balls to keep in the air at one time but I think we can do it without a meltdown.

It’s once again, Friday afternoon and I am the only one in the office. Which is OK I do like the silence. Got word earlier in the week that my insurances would cover the maintenance needed on my power wheelchair the new batteries and tires I have been whining about for the past couple of weeks. I called and scheduled to have the work done at 3:00 pm this afternoon. Figuring I would just take a couple of hours and get the work done. But then Claire takes off, Marsh falls and breaks her crown and Dawn has a toe operation and Vicky is just plain out of hours , of course leaving just me. The work on the chair should be finished by 4:30 pm. I plan to skip the office at quarter to five which should give me ample time to get to Magic rest and collect my power chair and get home. I am currently sitting in my green manual chair and it is a dog. I cannot wait to pick up my Quantum.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Different Approach

I was supposed to meet with the Russians tonight, the Sister City program. I was actually up or the meeting even getting psyched for the meeting. Joe who schedules the meeting( all the Russians use American christian alias’) sent out an email yesterday letting everyone know about the meeting and that this meeting, the first meeting of the year would be a special meeting and everyone in encouraged to bring a favorite dish. “ Cool” I think to myself and return to my day not thinking anymore about the meeting./dinner. So, this morning when I open up my emails I have this from Joe


>>> Sergey 1/3/2007 8:23 PM >>>

Dear Friends, unfortunately, it looks like everybody is very busy this Thursday for our meeting, because nobody give to me replay, yet. No problem, lets do it at next time.

Please, let me know, if you have other though.

Sincerely,


This email went out to a bunch of people I cannot believe that not one of us had the consideration to reply. This is sad. The snow is falling today with gusto so I feel it is just as well the meeting was canceled. I really don’t want to be driving in this stuff after dark any later then I have to. The good part about the cancellation is that I brought my van in because I did not want to have to ride the train home after 8:00 or 9:00 pm. So with any luck I might even be able to get hoe before true darkness sets in.


For some reason I had some real feelings of inadequacy this morning when I came into work. I felt I should know more about resources and information I give out over the phones. I have paid close attention to what I do all this day and I think I am doing all right regardless of what I may not know. I need to carve some time out of my day and do some boning up on bits of information I need to know better i.e. ADA legislation, Transportation issues and direct care issues in the local area. The boss informed me over lunch she did a newspaper article this morning and she listed our phone number for inquisitive folks who want to know more. What I have found is that I tend to spend a great deal of time with the phone calls I get—many times the callers are convinced there are no more solutions for them to their problems. In a great many cases this maybe, sadly, there maybe not be an acceptable solution. But in almost most every case I get to work on, even those with poor solutions the caller feels marginally better when I true the caller loose off the phone. Maybe be that is the skill I bring to the job—I can look up the specs of what ever I need to or the phone number—any trained monkey can do that. But what I do well is,I give the caller insights and hope and backdoor approaches to problems they had all but given up on.

I am feeling better now then I did this morning. I still have work to do but I am doing OK.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

OK, I am thinking, I am thinking.



If you could pay all the bills, keep all your toys and eat to an accepted level of happiness and not work would you work? Should you work? This is a question I have been “chewing” on all week, ever since we figured out that in fact if I were out of work and elected to return to subsidized living (SSDI) We could actually make it.

A couple of years ago the question :If you are a person with a disability do you have an obligation to work? was floating round the Independent Living Community. We often came away from such bull sessions feeling yes! If you can work you should work. I was shocked more then once when more then one of the national IL leaders indicated they did not necessarily buy this line of thinking. These guys came back with questions like : Why work if you will nopt be able to make enough money to cover your expenses, or What good is working if you do not have the energy left at the end of your or if your working tears up your body so bad you become more disabled.

So, I am starting a very unscientific survey. I am calling my friends with disabilities and asking them the above questions. Would you work if you did not have too. I talked. I called my old friend , JB who works at a local private non-profit as a counselor for folks with disabilities. Julie herself is a partial quadriplegic using wheelchair for mobility since she was two. She has worked at this private-non-profit for nearly twenty years. JB feels she needs to work, that she HAS to work to help pay the bills at home. JB works a 40 hour week and she is getting tired. She has been in her wheelchair for about 45 years and she like many of us older crips is just wearing out. JB be says that she would have no problems at all, not working if she could get away with not working.

As I have perceived this question in regard to me, personally, I am finding that I really am considering the idea of retiring while I am still physically and mentally able to enjoy life. I could retire then go back to work and work just enough to get benefits (if I need them) or to keep myself alert.

I have to Admit as I returned to the office following a week’s vacation I was surprised to find I did enjoy coming back to the office. I liked getting up early being forced to be dressed and out the door and to an office, a phone, a computer and other liker minded folks. I like the train ride in and back at the end of the day. I liked doing my job, interacting with people who called and giving them the information they wanted and listening to these folks respond like I had done something really special just for them. I guess I could do all this from some sort of a volunteer platform but that is just not the same as being “officially part of something, with a picture ID, password and a 401K.