Archive for May, 2011

The Hangover Part 3

May 27, 2011

No, I have not seen the movie The Hangover Part 2, and this blog is not about getting drunk, and being hungover the next day, just a catchy title, so for those of you who have landed here hoping that this blog would be about the sequel to a cappy movie that already had one sequel currently in theaters, you can stop reading now. Spring and Summer bring a lot of things, the birds singing, the flowers blooming, warm weather, a bright glaring sun that drives someone with a visual problem absolutely nuts as even with dark sunglasses on the sun still hurts your eyes and gives you headaches, but not the kind that would give you a hangover, and worst of all the change of season brings people and stores hanging plants outside there stores. Ah, yeah you get where I am going with this and the hangover now. The other morning, Nash and I headed out for his morning trip for him to do his business, and of course I was still half asleep, which normally is not a problem. We headed out my building, down the street, went to turn the corner, and WHACK! Face first into a hanging plant that had not been there for a year! Reaction kicks in, and Nash got a pretty stern left handed correction, and a little yelling at, which I never do, but my head was throbbing, and I was not thinking logically. We got to Nash’s bathroom spot, and as he did his business, I think I was still mumbling at him, as my head was throbbing pretty good, still not thinking logically. We headed back inside, and I was still talking to Nash rather sternly, as I was pretty ypset with him. We got into my apartment, and Nash immediately went running for the bathroom, I think it is his little hiding spot for when he doesn’t want to be bothered. He rarely does anything wrong or gets yelled at, and after a little bit I realized he was still hiding out in the bathroom. I went in there, and apologized for yelling at him, but told him he needs to pay attention better. Nash came out of the bathroom and settled in on my feet, and all seemed forgiven. A few hours went by, and it was time for another walk, so we headed out, got to his bathroom spot with no problem, and weren’t even thinking about the hanging plant when we headed back to the apartment, and WHACK! I got hit in the other side of the head, and reaction kicked in, and Nash got another left handed correction. The yelling wasn’t as severe this time, but I did find myself telling Nash he needed to pay more attention when we were working. We reworked the corner, and Nash took a nice turn to avoid the spot, but I did find him really picking up the pace at the spot, and booking around the corner. Still thinking had not kicked in. I put in a call to the Guiding Eyes help line as me smacking my head was not something I was going to live with as getting a hangover without the fun of the night of drinking didn’t seem fair. Immediately upon speaking with the GEB instructor, it him me, and not like the plant did. The plant was way out of Nash’s sight line. Not sure why that didn’t hit me originally, I guess when you smack your head into a plant all logic and thinking goes right out the window kind of like your thought process during a night of drinking. I felt like such an ass for giving Nash the left handed corrections and yelling at him. Like I said, I rarely if ever yell at the little guy, even when I am having a bad day which has been a lot recently. Unfortunately, Nash still thinks he did something wrong, as when we get to that area, he takes off, because he knows he got a pretty good correction, and he is not sure why. Since the hangover incidents, when we get to that area, I have to walk with my hand up to make sure that I don’t smack my head again, and we have reworked the corner several times, and Nash has got a lot of food reward to get him over his fear that he did something wrong. Of course, I have never thought that Nash doesn’t see anything above my waist line when we are working. I guess he does such a good job that I never thought about it. Nash does do such a good job, but I don’t want to get decapitated because he doesn’t see something which of course would not be his fault. I guess I need to start looking in to getting a seeing eye parrot that can sit on my shoulder and take care of making sure my head doesn’t slam in to anything. Curious, as I do not recall going over this at Guiding Eyes, but we did have an awful lot of information to take in during the month we were there, and we may have and it mah have just escaped me. With NYC constantly having to be under construction, I mean seriously will they ever finish, or once they do do they just start working on something else? There is constantly going to be low over hangings, so at this point, I am still not sure what to do to protect my noggin besides the parrot idea, because I do want to avoid those plant induced hangovers. Here’s hoping the next time it happens, my first instinct is not to give Nash a left handed correction!

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Nash and My Day Trip To Guiding Eyes For the Blind

May 26, 2011

Last week Nash and I headed up to Guiding Eyes For the Blind. Now I know you are asking yourself what is so significant about this, as Nash and I have been there several times over the past two years. Well, this was the first time that Nash and I headed to GEB all on our own using public transportation. Let me start off by saying, wow was that a hike for us. I didn’t realize how far GEB is from the city, and how complicated it was to get there. We started off leaving my apartment at 640 in the morning, and as soon as we got outside we were greeted with heavy rains. Oh boy this is going to be an event. Lately Nash has been stuggling a little with certain things, or let me rephrase, the two of us have been stuggling a little working together. I have been told that this fairly common after the winter we just had as Nash and I were probably not getting out and working as much as we should be together. It is tough when you are freezing your ass off. Anyway, we headed off to the subway, and for some reason Nash does not like leading me to this cerrtain subway stop because it was the second time in recent memory that he would not go directly to the subway stop when I was telling him to. The frustrating thing was I was dressed to the nines, not sure where that expression comes from or why it would pop into my head at this point. Anyway, we kept turning around and trying to find the subway stop, and I asking him to go to the subway and the stairs, but he wouldn’t, and at this point we were starting to get drenched and just beginning our trip. Amazingly at 640 in the morning the streets of NYC are pretty empty. Finally, a woman stopped and asked if we needed some help, and she helped us get to the subway stairs. This would be the first of several nice people we would encounter on our trip to GEB. We get through the turnstile of the subway station and down both flights of stairs, and as we are waiting for our train, an announcement comes over the loud speakers that due to a train derailment the E train is not running. Great how the hell are we going to get to the East side? As we stood there with me trying to figure out how to get to the East side, they make another announcement to take the NRW due to the outage. Ok, cool I can do that, than it hits me, the NRW does not even come to this stop. So we stand there pondering what to do, and it hits me how in the world is the subway station this empty on a week day. It feels like the opening scene of Vanilla Sky for those of you who didn’t see it, Tom Cruise is dreaming and he comes out on a NYC street which if I recall he may have been in Times Square and it is completely empty. Cool scene, and great movie, but you need to see it at least twice to fully understand it. As I continue to stand there trying to figure out how Nash and I are going to get to the East side, an E train pullls up. Hopefully it is not completely empty or I could be dreaming like Tom Cruise i n Vanilla Sky. I wasn’t dreaming the E train was running. Great job MTA with the announcements. Amazingly later in the day when I got back to the city, they were still making the announcement that the E train wasn’t running due to a train derailment and guess what, it was running. Efficiency at its finest. We took the E train to the east side, and transferred to the 6 train, something I have not done in years. It still amazes me how much more crowded the trains on the east side are, as the six train was completely packed. We had to take two trains to go a total of three train stops to Grand Central Station, as we would be taking MTA Metro North up to Yorktown Heights. Nash and I had to navigate our way around Grand Central. I had no clue where we were going, I just knew and recalled from the days when I could see that in the middle of Grand Central there is a information booth, and knew if Nash and I could get there, than I was sure they would be able to have someone get us down to the train track. For those of you who have never had the fun of taking a train out of Grand Central station, let me tell you how much fun it is for a blind guy. They have a big board of all the trains listed, and about five minutes before they leave they announce what track the train will be leaving out of. Let me rephrase, as they do not announce it which would be helpful for a blind guy, they post it on the board, so if you are blind this doesn’t really help you. Anyway, as soon as Nash and I got into the main corridor of Grand Central, someone came up to us and asked us if we needed help. Yes, can you help us get to the information booth. What a break as we were running behind for our 739 train. The gentleman helped us navigate to the information booth through the rush hour crowd, and I realized that he was a cop. I asked if he could help us get down to the train track, and sure enough he did. Cool, we may be able to catch the originally planned train. We got down to the track and the train was still loading up, or rather I should say sitting there, as there were not really a lot of people getting on the train as most of the traffic at this hour was coming into Grand Central and not out of. The officer got us on the train, and I thanked him and Nash and I were on our way to Yorktown Heights. I absolutely love taveling by train and I think Nash does too, as from what I could tell he spent a good part of the train ride looking out the window. I do have to give props to the MTA Metro North, as not only do they discount disabled tickets, they do not charge you extra for purchasing the ticket on the train. As Nash spent the train ride looking out the window, I was able to pick up a WiFi signal so I was able to check emails, listen to ESPN radio, and read some of my RSS feeds on the train ride. You would not believe how fast the train ride went by, as the Iphone lets you do so much while on the train. Nash and I got off the train in Yorktown Heights, and not one other single person got off the train. One of the conductors yelled out to me the stairs were to the right, as the train left. Oh did I forget to mention that it was still raining, so now Nash and I were getting drenched for a second time before we even got to our location. This part of our day was a little scary as we were on a fairly narrow train play form, and Nash was having a little difficult of a time figuring out how to get us off it. I kept telling him to go the stairs when I should have been telling him to go to the door, as there were no stairs to go to. After about ten minutes of being real careful on the platform Nash and I finally made it to the door. We walked through the door, and ended up at a second door and walked through, and oh shit, we were back outside and on the platform, so I turned around and headed back inside figuring we missed something, and nope we went back through both doors and were outside on the platform again. Things were starting to get pretty frustrating. Then it hit me, this wasn’t the entrance into the train station it was a indoor waiting area for trains. Oh boy, more navigating of the platform. We made it a little further down the platform and hit another door, and finally got inside the train station. Relief. A woman came up to us immediately, and asked if we needed some help. ¬†Wow, it wasn’t even 9am yet and we had encountered three nice and helpful people this day. The woman assisted Nash and me down to the cab stand, and se even waited with us. As we were waiting, and at least there was an over hand as yes, it was still raining, she told me that her mother was blind. The cab pulled up and the woman knew the cab driver, as it seems like everyone up in Yorktown knows each other. Nash and I got into the cab, and what a nice change it was to get into a cab where the cab driver didn’t say something like no dogs like they do in the city a lot. The city cab drivers still have a long way to go, as a lot of times when I am with a sighted person they are telling how many cabs are driving past us that are available and not even stopping for us because they see the dog. I told the cab driver 611 Granite Springs Road, and he didn’t know the address but as soon as I said Guiding Eyes For the Blind, he said with enjoyment of the doggie place. He then said to me the woman who was waiting with you Mother was blind, and I said yeah, she told me, and then he said, what a trajedy. I asked what, and he began to tell me that her Mom fell on to the train track and was killled by a train. Oh God, I did not need to hear that. On the very same platform Nash and I wer ejust on. I couldn’t believe how long the cab ride was from the train station to GEB, as I thought GEB was pretty close to the train station, but it was a thirty dollar cab ride, and about 25 minutes. Nash and I made the turn in to GEB, and Nash who was laying down in the back of the cab popped up and started wagging his tail. He knew where we were, and he was excited to be back. As I headed into GEB we ran in to Miranda who just happened to be popping in, she was the head trainer for our class, we sat and had a cup of coffee and got caught up as we had not seen each other since I had left GEB. In fact, she did recall that she even took Nash and me back to the city, and worked us around my neighborhood a little. Wow, that seemed like a long time ago. While at GEB I got Nash’s nails clipped, and funny as we were in the jennel and a bunch of other dogs were barking, Nash remained quite like he always does. I guess you can take the dog out of Guiding Eyes For the Blind, but you can’t take the Guiding Eyes For the Blind out of the dog. Lucky us.

Nash’s Anti-Social Behavior

May 5, 2011

Lately Nash has taken to sitting in my bathroom, which is strange considering he has many more pleasant options like his bed, my bed which he thinks is his bed, and of course my feet. He started doing this a few weeks ago. There is a bath mat in there, and he seems to curl up on it, but I am out in the living area, and I know Nash likes to keep an eye on me. At first I thought he liked to sit in there, as he could see who was coming and he wouldn’t get stepped on, but it is a pretty narrow bathroom, and when I go in there, he does get up and brush up against me on his way out. I have also noticed that it is a little cooler in the bathroom, but for the most part it has been cool in NYC and in the apartment, so that shouldn’t be why he is spending so much time in there. May be he doesn’t like the voiceover voice on the computer, and it is quieter in there, but he does still spend a good amount of time on my feet while I am working on the computer, so the voiceover voice shouldn’t be bothering him that much. The only thing I can think of is that when Nash is in an anti-social mood he goes in there not to be bothered. It is strange becuase lately he has been spending so much time in there. When he does come out, I say oh hello Mr. Anti-Social. Today though, he has spent a lot of time on my feet at the computer, so maybe he is coming out of his anti-social behavior, although as I am writing this he got up off my feet and went some where, not sure if he is on his bed, or in his new resting spot.

Why do so many websites feel the need to mess with something when it is working. Every time a website changes its layout, which for some is quite often, us blind folks have to take awhile getting used to the changes. This can be quite frustrating, as a lot of time a site that works with a screen reader will be updated, and then not work with a screen reader. The latest to do this is Facebook. Ugh, Facebook, leave it the way it was. Facebook updated its inboxes and messages, and now I cannot access my messages on Facebook. Damn you Facebook. I can still access my posts when someone posts on my page, but cannot access the private messages to reply to someone. I do get my messages sent to me, so can read them in mail, but have no way of replying. I have yet to ry accessing my messages on my mobile device, so that may still work, but it takes me forever to type on my iphone, and I can type very fast on my computer, so when at home, I like to access everything on the computer. This is just the latest in several annoying updates to websites that completely ignores the blind. The government really needs to get more involved in making sure that common websites are accessible to screen readers and should meet a minimum criteria. And no Nash has yet to come back to my feet, I guess he is still being anti-social, but not to worry, as it won’t be long as it getting near his dinner time, and they say dogs can’t tell time, but Nash always knows when it is near his feeding time!

The One Handed Shopper!

May 3, 2011

When I was at Guiding Eyes For the Blind two years ago, I had several questions for the trainers. One of them was how does a blind guy shop with a guide dog? I recall one of my fellow students saying, the easiest way to shop is to use a backpack. When Nash and I returned to the city two years ago I remember going to Duane Reade with my back pack, thinking, wow what a smart idea. I walked into the store and could still see enough to shop on my own. I went to the aisle to get the first product I needed, probably, diet Dr. Pepper, which I have since learned is the number selling soda in NYC. Which to this day makes me question if it is the number one selling soda in NYC, why not carry more 12 packs than their usual four boxes they put on the shelf each week? It is constantly sold out, yet the shelves are always full of lesser sodas ,and I need my Diet Dr. Pepper fix. Anyway, I picked up the 12 pack, and of course it would not fit in my back pack, so I tucked it under my arm and walked to retrieve the next product I needed. Nash carefully navigated the crowded aisles. For some reason Duane Reade finds it necessary to fill up every open space in the store making it narly impossible for a visually impaired person to navigate the store without knocking over displays of crap people would never buy, and constantly hearing clean up on aisle 4, and so on following them around the store. I got the next product I needed, and honestly, I have no clue what it was, but I do recall picking it up and going to plavce it in my backup, and saying wait a minute isn’t this going to look like stealing? Not sure where that other student lives and ships by walking around the store and placing the items they need in their back pack. I think Guiding Eyes may have placed a clepto in my class.Instead of being a clepto over the past two years, I have had to learn to shop with one hand and arm, as the other is occupied with Nash leaving me around. Not to get off topic, but Nash sure does love the Duane Reade across the street. He is amazed by all of the smells i nthere. He does do a good job of avoiding the candy aisle and not trying to drag me down it. He has gotten very skillful at avoiding all the displays, and getting me through the store without knocking over displays on each visit to Duane Reade. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to do all of my shopping in one visit, as my one available arm can only carry so many things around the store, and I can only carry things in one arm on the walk home. As my vision has gotten to the point it is at now, I now have to go to where I think the product is in the store, and wait for someone else to walk down the aisle then ask for their help finding it. On a good day, I am able to find an employee at the Duane Reade, and they help me pick up everything I need. I do have to give most of the Duane Reade employees credit, as over the last two years, I have gotten to know them, and most of them are pretty helpful, and very friendly. Some of them even know what I am picking up most of the time. I also have to give props to Nash because as far as I can tell he has never tried to eat anything off of one of the lower shelves in Duane Reade. He does have to sniff the entire floor, but who knows how many things have been dropped on a floor in a store that is open 24 hours a day, and I have noticed that the store is dog friendly to non Guide dogs. One of the other amazing things about Nash is we usually walk past another dog on our way back to the pad from Duane Reade, and the other dogs always have to bark at Nash, and Nash just ignores them and keeps going on his way. He is almost like, do you know who I am, and I am not even going to acknowledge your bark!