The road to hell is paved with helpful people.

We’ve all seen it, whether we’re blind or otherwise disabled or not. We’re in the middle of something, and all of a sudden we’ve got an extra pair of hands–or sometimes two–we weren’t planning on. Some well-meaning soul has decided we could use that extra pair of hands, for reasons known only to them, even while things wouldn’t go anymore perfectly if you paid them. You almost feel bad about turning them away–after all they were, as they’ll tell you if you’ll let them, “only trying to help”. But if you don’t, you’ll have a whole new problem to deal with–these same well-meaning people guessing at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, and in the process, that thing you thought should only take you 10 minutes is now making quick work of the better part of half an hour.

This, I think, becomes even more noticeable if you happen to also be blind and trying, for instance, to avoid small armies of people while getting yourself from A to B. At least, it’s more noticeable if you’re me. To the tune of this happened at least three times throughout the course of yesterday–when all I was doing, as it happens, was going to and from class… Which I’ve done for ages, now.

It’s the first week back to class for most people, so naturally everything gets several different flavours of chaotic. And my schedule this term has me either coming or going right when the not quite so organized chaos is potentially at its worst in some places. But because I’ve been doing this for ages, the fact that there are more people trying to squeeze themselves down every hallway in every direction than should even be possible doesn’t overly concern me–provided, that is, they’re not standing in the middle of that hallway staring at their phone and therefore oblivious to the fact they’re about to be warned of my approach by way of a stick across the knees. On my way to class, I had two particular very well-meaning people stop me for the sole purpose of asking 1: if I knew where I was going, 2: if I knew how to get there, 3: if I needed help to get there, and 4: if I was really, really sure I didn’t need help to get there–this after one of those people kept themselves a few feet behind me and called out directions to the door of the building, which… Well… I was rather already heading for, though perhaps not exactly how he invisioned it. One of them even offered to guide me directly to where I was going, just in case. Which I suppose seemed like a good idea at the time, right up until they needed to ask someone else for directions to an area I conveniently enough have to walk right past to get to my classes. They meant well, and I didn’t end up late for class, so in that respect even if they couldn’t help, they didn’t hurt.

The problem shows up, though, when people skip the asking and get right to the helping. Now, I like to think I know my way around campus enough that I can hit most places fairly easily. There are a few tricky spots, mostly on account of I rarely go there, but for the most part I’ve ended up being the one giving directions. Still, when it gets chaotic, I occasionally need to find me a spot out of the way and wait–not necessarily for people to get out of the way, but so I can figure out more accurately where exactly people are. Let me explain largely how I work for travel purposes.

Everything, if you’re me, becomes a reference point. And I do mean everything. Walls, furniture, rooms I’m walking past, people–if it’s there, I can probably use it. If you’re coming out of a hallway behind me, I can easily use the direction you’re heading in to figure out where I should be going. And I’ve done this thing too many times to count–to the point now that I almost do it subconsciously, and have probably done it more than once without realizing. So if I’ve decided to occupy a spot out of the way for half a second, it’s probably because in a section of the campus where there are something like 2 or 3 very closely aligned hallways, I’d prefer not to have to guess at which one and spend the next 5 minutes undoing what I just did because I guessed the wrong one. I don’t need to do that very often–I can usually cruise right on through without breaking stride, but there are days.

On one of those days, it was slightly busier than usual–I think the college was doing some sort of open house session, possibly. There were probably three times the people there that there’d normally be. Again, no big thing–I do it so often now that people are just another indicator of where I am and where I’m going. But there’s one particular place at the college where there are two almost identical hallways that will take you to very different parts of the campus. Those hallways are at a slight angle from each other–you could come out of one, lean a slight right turn, and end up down the other while being half asleep. So if you’re approaching that spot from another direction, it’s very easy–and I’ve seen too many people do this just by not thinking–to aim for one hallway, miss, and end up down the other–only realizing it when they actually stop talking long enough to look at the rooms they’re passing. On this day, that spot on campus was rather full of people doing it didn’t look like much. Most of them were trying to push past the rest of them, who were seeming to be content with just taking up space. I was doing my usual navigational trick, ducking in and around small clumps of people wherever I could invent me a hole. Some kind soul thought they’d do me a favour and direct me out of the majority of that group of people and toward the other side of that intersection. There was just one very small problem, and it took me a stretch to realize it was staring at me. The hallway he directed me to and the hallway I actually needed to find were two entirely different–and, arguably, completely unrelated–things. So I get to where I know my classroom should be, come to find out instead I’m walking into a small cafeteria (bright side: I now know where I can go to hide if I want food and no one to find me). Then there’s the small matter of the obligatory few minutes figuring out where in the hell I am and how in the hell I got there. Eventually, I managed to answer both questions, then figured out how I’d be getting back to where I needed to be–which was easier this time, given I was already in the same general area, and the majority of the people who would have been otherwise in my way the first time had cleared out, so that was the end of that. Again, I didn’t end up being late for class–though in this case, that may have had more to do with the fact the professor was, but if that had been my first actual exposure to campus, things could have probably ended up going a lot differently and very quickly.

There’s a rule I like to toss at people when they get surprised their help didn’t produce the expected results. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If you already know exactly what you’re doing, or where you’re going, and someone comes along to offer help, things get complicated before either of you catches on–mostly because they know what you’re trying to do, but if they can’t wrap their head around how you’re doing it, they’re going to do it their own way–and their own way is going to probably not give you the results you’re after. And this is why, as much as it gives some folks I used to run with a headache, I don’t often opt for accepting the volunteered help–whether or not they’ve asked first before volunteering. I know where I’m going. I know how to get there. You might even know the same thing. But I know the way that gets me there in about 5 minutes. If you take a different way because, for whatever reason, you don’t know mine, I may not have any idea where we’re going–it depends on how creative I’ve been with my wandering the place ahead of time. Which also means if you decide that no, you actually don’t know how to get where we’re going, or if it turns out the way you know doesn’t work out for any number of reasons, not only have you actually not been helpful–but I may not necessarily be able to undo it and get back to doing what I know eventually works. It’s no slight against the helpful–sometimes, it’s actually incredibly useful. But often, some might say far too often, the road to hell is paved with helpful people. And if you’re already having a day, it’s an incredibly short drive.

Leave it to Cracked to be mostly accurate about the blind.

I should seriously devote more time to reading sites like Cracked. Not just because, hell, some of what they toss up there is freaking hilarious. But because in a lot of cases, some of what they toss up there is freaking accurate. Take an article they wrote on how the rest of the world pretty much makes it harder on blind folks than it oughta be. That isn’t to say, naturally, that it’s open season on the world and bring on the pity party, but let’s be realistic/honest here. We might still have our problems, but we’d probably have less of them if the people we have to deal with on the regular would exercise their right to be braindead a little less frequently. I may go into detail a bit more in other entries, but with the exception of 5 (and I’ve been around quite a few with varying levels of vision and haven’t noticed much in the way of accusations of faking), the article pretty much looks like an almost exact duplication of my own observations. That isn’t to say there aren’t more than a few blind folks out there with a nack for making complete and utter dicks of themselves for no real good reason. But for the rest of us, we spend most of our time dodging headaches that aren’t of our own devising. Which, I think, is part of what makes those of us who actually want something to happen probably a little more likely to get it. But that’s just me. The guy next door may brand the whole thing a conspiracy against the teeny tiny blind population in both the US and Canada. At which point, I suppose I can’t really blame some folks for deciding to exercise their right to be stupid. In some cases, it’s probably deserved. But in most, you’re just creating headaches because it’s cool. Knock that off, would ya?

Putting priority back in priority seating.

I haven’t the slightest idea if this is a thing unique to Ottawa or what, but I’ve noticed no matter what the actual intent of priority seating was supposed to be, it almost always defaults to whoever someone else thinks needs it. A run I took a few days ago put this back in my head, where it sat because I’ve probably gone over it before. But it hasn’t managed to convince itself to go away yet, so here’s me.

An up front disclaimer: I’m not opposed to the idea of priority seating–I’ve taken advantage of it myself, whether it was entirely justified or not, because it’s a lot less time consuming than wandering around the back of the bus looking for a seat that already doesn’t have a butt in it. But that’s a fairly far cry from insisting I need/deserve/am otherwise entitled to it, which is not what this is about to be.

I’ve always believed priority seating on buses should be, without question, reserved for people who either can’t be standing on a bus while it’s moving or, for whatever reason–pregnancy, for example–probably shouldn’t be standing on a bus while it’s moving. Somehow, in the eyes of a lot of people, blindness ends up equating to one or both of those categories–exactly how that happens to this day still escapes me, but it happens. But I’ve had more than a few cases of people who probably have a valid reason for sitting there getting up and either moving, or clinging on to something to avoid them possibly losing their balance, just to let me have a seat. Which, usually results in a conversation not entirely unlike this.

“Really, you don’t need to get up–I’m only going a couple stops.” “Yes, but you need this more.” “I’ll be fine for a few blocks. The eyes don’t work. The legs do.” “But you shouldn’t be standing in here–you can’t see.”

And it goes through variations of that every time. Usually, unless I literally am only going like one or two stops, I end up taking the seat just to avoid a potential argument. Or, you know, possibly offending someone who thinks they’re being nice–occasionally, I do think things like that through. It just doesn’t happen all that often. But every time, I go back to wondering who comes up with the seating rules? Who actually has it decided somewhere that, say, a 50-year-old with a little trouble walking but not enough that they require something like a walker has to hand over his seat to me, just because I showed up? Perhaps more importantly, where’s a guy supposed to line up to secure his copy? Because clearly it will help in my quest to at least pretend to be something other than “that asshole next door who just refused my politically correct gesture of good will.”

I get, I suppose, why people lean more towards that–they see, not entirely incorrectly, that it’s largely reserved for the disabled. The problem comes in, though, when it gets down to your definition of disabled. It’s a given, for instance, that when someone shows up in a wheelchair, they’re getting a priority seat. Common sense, and all that. But beyond that, it gets a little blurred. A pregnant woman, for instance, may not necessarily be disabled. But should she still give up her seat to someone who just has, for whatever reason, general and overall balancing issues? And should that person give up his seat to someone who can’t see? I honestly can’t say I know the answer to any of that. But I do know on the list of people who ought be entitled to priority seating, I shouldn’t be a priority. Which is why, where it’s at all practical, I’ll keep having that conversation I summarized earlier. Because there are people who deserve and need those arrangements a lot more than an otherwise able-bodied geek. In the meantime, I’m serious about finding a copy of those rules. If I’m going to start trying to rewrite them, I may as well have a comparison.

Week made. And I had very little to do with it.

And sometimes, things just happen that make you take a step back and appreciate the fact that not everyone you pass is a walking advertisement for Toolsville. Take this past Tuesday morning. I’d left here to head off to class (that gets its own entry later), and was about 3/4 the way to the bus stop. A guy walks past me with his kid going the opposite direction, either back home or walking his kid to the school across the way–whichever. Kid sees me, sees the cane, and immediately makes with the 20 questions. It took a second for it to click that that’s what was going on, though, not because I was having a slow morning (I *did* remember to caffinate before poking my nose out the door), but because he wasn’t stopping to play 20 questions with me. Instead, he was playing 20 questions with the guy he was walking with (I’m assuming his dad, but I’ll be damned if I could be sure). The kicker, though? Dad wasn’t just answering for the sake of making the kid shut up–you know the type, you guess at the answer and kinda hope enough of it sticks that the kid buys at least part of it and moves on to the next distraction. No, this time, dad actually gave it an honest to goodness try. And the answers not only stuck, but what I caught of them didn’t border on giving me a migraine–I call that significant humanity achievement unlocked.

Kid seemed very interested in how it is I managed to get where I was going. So dad explained about the cane (he called it a stick, but I can forgive him that infraction), and he actually got the general idea of what it was supposed to be used for. But as they were leaving earshot, he took it a step further and went into an explanation of how we as blind folk use that in step with what we can hear around us to figure out where we are versus where we’re going. Naturally he didn’t nail all of it, but hell, for a guy who I’m going to assume has had very little if any dealing with blind/visually impaired folks, he didn’t do all that terrible a job with it–I’ve heard much worse attempts at it from people who’s job it was to actually handle blind/low vision folks. And from what I could tell, the kid seemed to be hanging on to what he was being fed. Which, okay, could have just as easily meant the guy could have fed him a line of absolute crap and he’d have taken it, but you know. However it is the rest of my week ends up, this just pretty much escentially stuck it in the awesome category. A few more people like dad over there, and the universe will have just made my month. And if it sticks in that kid’s head when he gets older, that will be a new brand of wicked. And that right there makes spending the next couple hours bored out of my head just a little bit more worth it. My week, made. And all I had to do was not much.

On OC Transpo’s public disservice announcements.

I’ve mentioned the automated bus stop announcements they’re now using up here for OC Transpo. They were a long time coming, and it’s actually nice to see they work really quite well–so long as the system’s been appropriately kicked into gear, but I expect that these days. On recent trips, though, I’ve noticed they’ve become somewhat less effective in actually keeping up with announcing stops. I’d like to say it’s the fault of the technology–either the GPS is off, the software needs a tweak here and there, whichever. But actually the problem has more to do with administration than the platform being administered.

I’m not exactly sure when it started–I want to say somewhere just before the official (finally!) rollout of their Presto system, but they made a change to their automated system such that every so often now, the same guy what announces the next stop will come on with a tip, or safety instructions, or something. I’ve heard him talk of how you can lend your Presto card to someone in your fare class if you’re not planning on using it–though he doesn’t actually explain what a fare class is. I’ve heard him more than once advise people, in both official languages, that the seats at the front of the bus are for people who have difficulty standing (related: I still don’t quite see how that translates to a guy that has difficulty seeing), and so they should move to the back of the bus when someone requires one. And just this morning I heard him remind people to “Let’s help keep each other safe.”, and to report any suspicious activity to your operator (interestingly, in french he says driver instead, but I’m knitpicking). All well and good. Common sense things that people maybe aughta know, but common sense not being so common these days, good on OC Transpo for including them. Except when they get in the way.

This morning’s trip, which is actually what reminded me, cut it close to getting in the way. There are a couple of pretty near back to back stops on my route home from the college. One such stop is, conveniently, the stop right after I get on the bus. So if someone who maybe isn’t as familiar with the route happens to be on the bus and needing to get off at, say, Baseline station, it’d be somewhat important if that person actually have a bit of warning before pulling into–and, on the off chance no one needs to get on or off there (it’s happened), pulling right back out of–the station. Some of these announcements, I’m not sure if it’s the timing or the fact the guy making them likes to–or is required to by some municipal regulation or another–take the long way around to get to his point, but by the time he gets there the system’s needing to play catch-up. So you’ll have it doing its PSA dance, then shift gears right into announcing the next stop–if you’re lucky, before you go flying past your next stop. This doesn’t happen insanely often, thank whichever divine creature’s got a hold on that, but when it does happen, it can potentially be problematic. As I said, this morning was a fine example. I’d just gotten on the bus leaving campus. We’re about halfway between stops, and his “keep each other safe” PSA comes on. Now, I’ve done this route often enough that I can recognise where we are by more subtle things, like turns in the road and things like that. So if I needed to get off at Baseline station for one reason or another, I myself wouldn’t be completely screwed–this time. The PSA does what it does, and when it’s done, we’re about ready to make the turn into Baseline station. It announces Baseline station as we make that turn.

Fortunately, I both know the route and don’t actually need to take advantage of that, and to my knowledge this particular trip didn’t have anyone who didn’t know exactly where they were going and when–or anyone who didn’t have the ability to actually look out for the stop they need, so this wasn’t as much of a problem on this trip. But if I’m taking a route for my first time ever–let’s say I need to figure out where I’m going because I’ve got a job starting in 2 weeks and, well, it involves places I haven’t had any reason to go prior to now and so didn’t bother to just get up and go out of sheer boredom, this poses a bit of a hang-up. If I’m a blind shmuck with no idea where I’m going and still need to get there in a reasonably not quite late fashion, I need to be able to somewhat accurately judge where my required stops are. If I’m doing this thing on a daily or even monthly basis, that’s less of a problem–once I get used to it. But if I’m just figuring out the workings of this new place I can’t very well look out the window to spot, I actually pay attention to what the automated system’s trying to tell me–as opposed to doing it just so I can scan the thing for issues that could be problematic to me or some other poor sop that might actually need to use it on some regular route of mine. When a public service announcement shows up the way these do, even if it doesn’t happen necessarily all that often, it throws off the automated system–which in turn throws off the people using it. That results in missed stops, which results in mobility complications–trying to find your way back to where you should be, either by walking back and hoping you don’t blow right by it, or locating the bus stop going the opposite way and hoping you don’t get to wait an age and a half for a bus you later learn doesn’t actually stop where you need it to. And that results in awkward phone calls on your first day of work wherein you get to explain to a guy who’s probably never heard of automated stop announcements that your bus made you late. Yeah. Career boosting move right there.

I’m not sure if they can improve the timing of these announcements or even just shorten them by a bit. I honestly don’t know how much if at all doing either one would help. But as it stands right now, OC Transpo’s public service announcements, which on the surface I support, are turning into public disservice announcements at the moment. And in so doing, they’re actually hurting the effectiveness of what I think is otherwise an awesome–and yes, much overdue–system. They’re useful, and a halfway decent substitute for a lack of common sense, but sooner or later, somebody’s going to miss their stop because it wasn’t announced on account of one of these PSAs. I’m not sure I’ll want to be anywhere near OC Transpo management when somebody makes that an issue.

Death of a 5-year weekend. Or, an epic crash course in college mobility.

I haven’t had a job or anything like it since the recession sent mine overseas. That was in 2008. Since then, I’ve been telling folks I’ve been on one continuous long weekend. Oh, sure, I’ve had the occasional interview that may or may not have resulted in a “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, but then it usually kind of just sat there looking pretty and that was pretty much that. There were education related things tossed in there as well, but they usually fell apart for one reason or another–I’m staring directly at places like Everest College. So since 2008, it’s been weekend.

Effective as of this past Monday, that weekend officially died a death. And my brain went right along with it–did I mention I despise math with the passion of a thousand suns? But the death of a 5-year-weekend was only part of the fun that was getting things started. The rest of it came about when I went to untangle exactly where it was I was supposed to be showing up to kill this 5-year-weekend. As it turns out, you’re not officially a blind college student until you’ve obtained, in your first couple hours on campus, an intense familiarity with the layout of the said campus.

Some background, for background’s sake. Algonquin College is awesome, for the most part–aside from their still unexplained requirement for a math. They’re also, at times, awesomely confusing. So much so that even the fully sighted have been known to admit defeat and occasionally just follow the crowd in the hopes the wall of people in front of them is going roughly in the right general direction for them to just kind of let go and be dropped in front of their classroom. So when I got a phone call last Friday what said I’d be tromping pretty much across campus from where I thought I’d be to actually get to class, I was prepared to do some early morning mapping. My class was at 10, which meant if I could get away with it, I was going to be on campus and trying to see how lost I could get by 9. so I show up at 8:30 to finalise things–apparently, spreading paperwork out so you’re finishing it the day you start classes is not actually unique to an official college program. And I’m told when I get there that no, the person who told me I’d be campus hopping was wrong and that I’d be going this other direction and finding this other room instead. Well. Okay, then. I mean annoying, but at least this other room’s in the same building–so no trompings to places in which one could become mildly confused just trying to aquire the general vicinity, nevermind the specific classroom. Awesome. So I’ll have some free time, says I, to go grab coffee and maybe see if other people are in so May and I can pick brains before I go to class and she does what she does. So I go and I find what I’m told is the new classroom. Not difficult to get to, thank christ. And away I go to get other things done so when the class is over the only thing I need to accomplish is get my ass the hell home and give my brain a rest.

So that gets done, we go about the business of finding and picking at other people to make sure things are in place so 1: I can take this course without falling on my face and 2: May can start her course later on without it blowing up in her face. We manage to mostly do that, then figure it about time for me to show up at class. Give me a few minutes before the start of class to actually have a hi how are ya with the instructor and figure out how we can make this thing happen in a way that ends up being doable for me and not migraine inducing for her. For the record, my instructor is a box of awesome, but more on that in probably a less novel-like post. So it’s back over to that section of the campus so I can get set up, start actually getting my work and yada yada blah. And doesn’t the person I spoke to when I got there catch me. “James,” she starts, “I’m so terribly sorry. It looks like you’ll be going over to this other room after all. Oh but don’t worry, you just go down this hall, make a left, then a right, then straight, and a left, and you’re there.” If I had more than 20 minutes to actually find the new class, I’d have very likely used some of it to throttle the right royal hell out of her. But I didn’t, so I didn’t. I did turn around and bail it the hell out of there before it got too tempting–and also because I only had 20 minutes in which to find a less brainmelting way to find my class and do any interesting little workarounds that need doing to make it happen.

So. I planned an hour for tromping across campus in the event I got my ass lost. I ended up with 20 minutes for trompings and no getting my ass lost room. And I still had little to no actual idea where I was going. Awesome. Okay, time to cheat a little. May knew most of the building the new class was in, just not the specific area my class would be. So, fine. So between the two of us, we got at least to the general vicinity. Then it was ping a random and have it point us in the general direction of the specific room. Fun times all around. And it somehow happened with about a minute to spare. Don’t ask–I have no idea. But before I even started class, my brain was twitching like a crack addict on a cold streak. Not bad for a Monday. Now, let’s have at the rest of this thing. Just, er, hold the general failure, deal? Well, I can dream.

Guest Submission: New Worlds Ateraan attends the ACB convention

Have you ever read a book and wondered what it would be like to play one of the characters?

This year at the ACB convention you can learn about the text only online role playing game known as New Worlds Ateraan.

This high adventure, fantasy role playing game is based on the book The Light of the Path and staff members from New Worlds Ateraan will host a seminar on Monday and Tuesday evening.

Come to the seminar and you will learn how to become immersed in the world of Ateraan, a planet like earth where you walk among mystical creatures and live in an incredible country of fantastic magic and intrigue.

The seminar will introduce screen reader usage, character interaction, and the best methods of role playing by your host, a professional film and theater actor.

Now you can join hundreds of men and women characters like Neechi in an online adventure that becomes nearly real.

Join us this year at the New Worlds Ateraan Seminar at the ACB convention.

To see what a few other players have to say about the game look here.


Mobility musings. Because half past late.

If you’ve read the “about me” style pages linked on the left side of this thing, you’ll probably be made vaguely aware that I have this problem (*) wherein vision just doesn’t happen. The same can be said for a few of the folks what read the thing. So it’s with that in mind that a thought type deal’s been circling my head like it’s got nothing better to do. And, oddly enough, it has to do with the very most basic of basic mobility.

Late in 2012, the city of Toronto started a pilot project wherein they placed specific markers at one intersection, as a way for the visually impaired to be able to tell when they’re approaching the street. And, that got me thinking not entirely sarcasticly. Does Toronto have a “blind person wanders into middle of intersection unknowingly” problem that maybe hasn’t been reported, or that places like Ottawa haven’t developed quite yet? It was an honest to goodness question that, well, not having been in Toronto in a number of years I can’t really answer with any degree of accuracy. But having been in all manner of places near Toronto, and well past it, I can say if it has, it would be a new one on me. So I have to ask. What problem is toronto hoping to solve?

I do my fair share of travelling, when I can. Probably not as much as I aught to, but more than your average John Q. Sighted figures me capable of 9 times in 10. I’ve run into some wicked nifty cool intersections that, okay, don’t make themselves blatantly obvious if you happen to be 3/4 the way asleep. But pretty much everywhere I’ve been, be it in Ottawa or elsewhere, has always had some kind of general indicator that, hey guy with the cane, street incoming. The only way you’d miss most if not all of those indications is if you were walking the streets completely and utterly oblivious–and if we’re being honest, John Q. Sighted’s probably a little more guilty about that than he’d like to admit what with the texting and walking and all that jazze. So seeing this project underway pretty much begs the question. What are we not seeing?

Don’t get me wrong. If this solves a problem, I’m all for it. I’m just trying to wrap my head around exactly what problem is being solved, here–and, relatedly, if it’s even a problem at all. I’d assume it is, simply because Toronto isn’t exactly swimming in cash at the moment and is kind of hoping the province will kick in just a little money to help support their transit system (Let’s not touch the fact the province is about as swimming in cash as toronto is, shall we?), so they wouldn’t–you’d hope, anyway–decide to go on a random toss money at a solution and hope it catches a problem. At least that’s the working theory. Because the alternative is a significant number of visually impaired folks in and/or around toronto are somehow asleep at the switch, posing all manner of risks to life and limb–usually their own–for the sole purpose of getting from A to B. And really, that doesn’t come off too pretty either. So I haven’t the slightest. Are the sidewalks in Toronto that bad? Are folks over there that caught up in their whatever they’re doing that isn’t paying the hell attention? Or is this a solution looking for a problem. Inquiring minds are inquiring. Just in case future trips in the general direction of Toronto necessitate I expect random things in my path that are supposed to be warnings. Because nothing says welcome to a new city quite like sidewalks that don’t actually look like sidewalks when you go to actually do things with them. Or maybe I just can’t think like someone from Toronto.

(*): John Q. Sighted tends to see this as a problem. I, rather, can’t see much of anything.

Update to add: I fail at HTML, so the second link on this thing may have slightly broken. It’s since been fixed. Now if I could just have remembered to fix the thing when I was in here fixing other things earlier.

Things to note when taxiing a blind dude, in list format.

I do a fair bit of cabbing from here to there, as does any person who doesn’t quite know how to shuffle the bus system from A to Z. Since I’m hardly the first to do it, and hardly the first blind fool at that, I thought it might be useful to toss together a little reference something that maybe some enterprising cab dude can read while he should be paying attention to the road. I’m even croudsourcing this one, so if someone somewhere thinks a thinggy or three can be added, it will probably be added. And because I know some fool somewhere will read this while driving, and because I’m all for minimising distractions while driving, have it in list format. Also because lists are lazy, and lazy is win, therefore lists are win. So. Without further BS, the taxi guy’s reference guide–what not to do, blind guy edition.

  • Let’s clear one thing up right off the bat. Blind. Kay? Means unable to see. Cannot eyeball. You wave randomly in my general direction, a lot of people are gonna wonder what the hell kinda meth you’re on. And I’m going to ignore your face. Mostly because I can’t see your face–again, blind. Follow so far?
  • Related to number 1, but also critical: Honking. Yeah, just don’t. Especially if you’re in a parking lot with at least half a dozen other vehicles. That happens fairly often in this building–and let’s be honest. Not every car that pulls in here’s a cab. Not every car that pulls in here and honks is a cab. I’m not going to assume you’re a cab if all you’re doing is honking. Especially if I’ve told you before to knock that noise right the hell off.
  • this one’s simple. If you make with the grabby, I get to make with the stabby. I’m capable of navigating from door to vehicle, provided I 1: am familiar with the area from which you’re picking me up and 2: it’s relatively straightforward-ish to locate your vehicle–for instance, if we’re outside this building and your vehicle’s the only one in front of the door running. If I’ve been to an area before, same goes from vehicle to door–provided you haven’t found somewhere completely ass backwards to park us. That I’ve started to move does not mean grab me by the shoulder, the arm, the hand, the wrist, the cane, or any other extremety or implement secured to or belonging to my person. Unless, of course, you don’t mind a cane in the eye. I’m quite obliging when asked.
  • This one might be vaguely obvious, but it still gets missed a lot. Pay the fuck attention, dude. Seriously. You’re asking a blind guy how to get from A, to B, to C. Last I checked, that was kind of what I was paying you for. Yes, okay, I do know my way around at least most of this end of the city. But I don’t know precisely where we are when you ask me, “So it’s just up here and to the right, yeah?”. Know your shit, or use your GPS if you absolutely must–even if those things have a nasty little habbit of occasionally being both dead wrong and all in favour of me paying more. Or be prepared to answer at least 3 questions having to do with exactly where the fuck “just up here and to the right” is. Failure to do either of those gets you this point in lecture format from the back seat. I’ve done it.
  • The answer to the question, “where’s the door?” is not, “Just go straight.”. That particularly is the exact *wrong* answer when one is still sitting in the car, having not yet gotten out because he’s waiting on your slow ass debit machine to get around to approving his transaction. Providing that answer will result in at a minimum an angry stare, and at a maximum a very detailed explanation as to why exactly that is perhaps the most wrong answer you can provide, next to no answer at all. Hint: you just read it.
  • This should be common sense in some places, and simply not breaking the law in others, but it takes on a bit more importance when driving a blind guy. Get the everloving hell off the phone, for the love of pepperoni. Not only does yacking on the phone prove you’re not really paying attention to where the hell you’re going, or what the hell the passenger(s) is/are saying to you, but especially in the context of blind passenger, you will more than likely miss something vaguely important–like, for instance, the afore mentioned request for the location of the door. If you’d put down the phone for at least the duration of the ride, you’d have an increased chance of actually hearing your passenger–be they blind or otherwise–tell you that they’ll be paying via your slow ass debit machine. At which point, that transaction can be slightly less slow as crap, because you’ll–preferably–have taken a couple minutes while finding somewhere to park to get the machine ready to actually process the transaction.
    • Exceptions can be made for things like, for instance, asking for directions. But pull the hell over if you’re gonna. That’s not so much because blind dude. That’s because, well, legal. At least if you’re an Ontario cab driver. I have my own issues with distracted driving laws, but they’re still there. And if you’re gonna get yourself slapped for not following them, I’d prefer to not be in the cab when it happens.
  • Blind guy is not new guy, okay? Odds are, even though I’m cabbing it there, I have a fairly decent idea where there is. I just haven’t yet figured out exactly how to translate directions into useable by blind person on foot information. So when trying to get from A to B, especially if you’ve already started the everloving metre (that’s another rant for another day), let’s not waste us some time by sitting in the driveway arguing about how to get from here to there. Especially if you’re going to throw it in your GPS and have it tell you exactly the same route I just freaking told you. That’s an incredibly quick shortcut to a free trip if I’m feeling particularly challenging that day. And since neither of us knows when that’s going to be, I’d suggest maybe not poking that switch.
  • speaking of slow ass debit machines, they may be incredibly slow at times, but for the love of everything sane, get you one. Believe me, they’re not just for blind folk anymore. This couldn’t have been made more clear when I lived in small town Ontario. The guys over at the Vomit Comet ran into it too, and they’re in bloody Kitchener for crying out loud. If you’re new, or hell, ya just don’t show up in town all that often, you’re not going to know where $place is, nevermind how far away it is from where you’ve been scooped. Leaving aside the fact that it’s bloody 2013 and no one caries cash in bloody 2013, guessing at how far you need to go at the going rate for that city just to reach a rough estimate of how much pocket change you should be carrying with you can be and has been an exercise in migraine. Guys. Even the pizza delivery guy has those wireless debit thinggies, kay? They can’t be too expensive. And with some of the rates municipalities let yall charge us, they can’t be entirely all that unafordable. Get you one. Or two–because hey, sharing is caring. Forget making things convenient for us. You wanna get paid, yes? This guarantees you do. Well, or at least guarantees that if you’re not up and being a tool about the rest of the trip, we’ll be that much more likely to get you paid. make sense?
  • further to points re: pay the fuck attention: your GPS is yelling at you. Meanwhile, you’re panicking because you haven’t the slightest idea where you’re going. Pro tip: even if you haven’t the slightest, your GPS has at least that much. Stop, look, listen. Or at the very least, shut up so I can–and maybe then *I* can figure out where the hell you’re going.
  • I hear about this way too often to be healthy. You’re called to pick up person and guidedog. That does not mean offer to pick up person, then bitch about picking up guidedog. This is one of those situations wherein the law trumps everything except fatal alergies–including your freedom of religion. Don’t approve? Behind the wheel of a cab is not for you. Don’t approve and voice said disapproval loudly? In front of a cab works just fine.
  • that thing I’m holding? Yeah, that thing. It’s a cane. It’s not a magical locator beam. It won’t randomly lift off and shoom its way to your vehicle the second you hit the breaks with me holding the other end. fortunately, if you’re me, as these things aren’t very good independent navigators. Since this thing isn’t programmed to find you, you’re just gonna have to hop your happy ass outa the vehicle and come find me. I’m sorry. But hey, if you do it right, you’ll get paid. Call it corporate motivation. Hey–it worked when I had a thing with a paycheck.
  • Here’s a thing for the thought mines. There are two people standing on the front steps of a house, in front of which you’ve just parked your happy ass. Both are holding those things that are not locator beams. Both are clearly visible, as evidenced by the fact you’re parked pretty much in throwing range of the front door. It’s a very short walk to the front door. It’s also in earshot. Staying in your vehicle and calling the house to let us know you’re here, therefore, is a teeny tiny bit counterproductive. It’s also highly likely to get you mocked in a “how not to taxi a blind guy” entry. Don’t. Just don’t. Because no one will answer, and you’ll be waiting for us, and we’ll be waiting for you, and only one of us will come out looking like an idiot. Also it’s just plain uncool.

There will probably be more added as they’re thought of, or sent to me. In fact I’m pretty sure there will be. But in the meantime, if you know a cab driver who’d find this somewhat useful, by all means slap the link in several dozen places with a strong suggestion to read it. In fact I’m thinking of printing this off for a couple drivers we get around here regularly. In the meantime, happy cabbing. And remember, just because I can’t see doesn’t mean I can’t slap you for being an idiot. Let’s not make me prove it.

I don’t think I’ll fall in love with this iPhone.

I was out doing things that needed doing, that will eventually warrant their own entry if I ever get around to doing something that doesn’t involve news article mockery, and I got to where I needed to do the mobile version of multitasking. Which, for those who don’t do it very often, involves doing something with one hand (in this case, I think, I was putting something away for Trish), and trying to navigate the insane that is Apple’s obsession with the idea that people who can’t see the screen absolutely have to know exactly where everything is on the screen to be able to use it with the other. Now, I like to think I can do a passable job with it in most cases on a good day, particularly since I’ve had the thing now for about a month and for a couple days during the move, I had that plus the laptop as my only means of actual communication. I can at least not take 10 minutes to find what I need to access anymore, anyway. But trying to translate that into being able to use it the way most people who don’t have a lot of time to be sitting/standing in one place for long need to use their mobile devices? That’s just not happening. Navigate the screen one-handed? Try again. Navigate the thing without a headset? Sure, but I’d recommend doing it with the phone flat in front of you or, if that’s not practical, up side down–the speaker is in a very, and I do mean very, crappy place (Apple, are you taking notes, here?).

I’ve never been an overly large fan of the way Apple’s designed their user interface–for the sighted, nevermind the blind. And don’t even get me started on typing with the thing–that’s an entry for after I’ve had sleep. But this evening’s adventure in interface navigation succeeded only in reinforcing the already enforced idea that such a thing would require a third hand. Making or answering calls? Awesome. I can, in a sort of pinch, manage that without putting everything else on pause–done that more than once. But if I wanted a make and receive calls device, it wouldn’t be made by Apple. I wanted a phone I could use. For on-the-fly whatever–email, texting, bouncing random passing thoughts off of my lately rarely used Twitter profile (I did once, when I had 5 minutes to not do anything), or just general reviewing of info while enroute somewhere potentially meaningful. I’m not feelin’ it with this device. Yeah, great, it talks without costing me an additional $100. Thanks for that, Apple–no, I mean it; my wallet thanks you. But where’s the rest of the plus?

I like the iPhone–for a phone. I could get used to it for other things, with enough brain breakage–except that typing thing, but I’m investigating options. But I’m not in love with this iPhone. Nor, I think, will I ever be–not quite. It’s a device with potential. With the right kind of tweaking, there could be some reality to that potential. But for what it does? I’m not in love with it. For a thing that’s supposed to be the future of smartphones everywhere, that’s a small problem.

Attention 1310 news: there is nothing “special” about Victoria’s stolen iPhone.

Sometime last week, a University of Ottawa student wound up needing to replace her iPhone. Someone decided she didn’t really need the one she had, so offered–rather forcefully–to take it off her hands. Two things make it headline worthy, according to 1310 news–one of which is untrue. The girl in question was blind–and, if it’s who I’m thinking of, I actually used to know her, and less accurately, the iPhone was incorrectly labeled as being specially designed for her with text to speech software in place. As much as I disagree with apple on several hundred levels, I do have to say they’ve at least done that right–the same text to speech software is available in every iPhone sold, at least in the last year or so. This particular one just so happened to have it enabled. That’s what made it extremely easy, once they decided to do it, for three Rogers employees to replace the phone. Had the technology she was using been specially designed for her use, the story probably wouldn’t have had the ending it did. Now if every news article could end kinda like these ones here, special needs included or otherwise.

Related: If this person’s the same one I’m thinking of, I kinda wondered what happened to her. Now, I know. Thanks, 1310, for that if nothing else.

Note to american Airlines: It’s a cane, not an explosive.

I don’t think Bill diamond will be flying American Airlines any time in the near future. Particularly not after a flight attendant on his trip from Pittsburgh to Chicago decided his cane was, in fact, some kind of threat to airline security and promptly asked him to surrender it.

Now, whether or not you agree with how he handled himself during the afair, it’s a no-brainer this shouldn’t have even come up. Especially given the thing was folded when he boarded–after being taken, I’ll add, to the plane in a wheelchair. I’m not even going to get into the whole issue of his being told to hand over his cane under threat of arrest. Well, except to say um, hell no.

A little note to American Airlines. He’s not carrying a weapon. He’s not carrying something that any sane/reasonable person would determine to be a weapon. And it sure as hell wasn’t potentially explosive. It was a tool for mobility, and whether or not he could get around without it–apparently, this one couldn’t according to the article–you don’t get to decide whether or not he has the option. But, thanks for trying. Next time, try a little harder.

There’s a special place in hell reserved for you, sir. Right this way.

Further proof that blind does not, in fact, mean an easy target, just in case folks are keeping track of things like this. A guy in Windsor, Ontario, walked into apartments belonging to two blind people while they were occupied–one was in the bathroom, for crying out loud–and proceeded to steal from them. His first victim, the one who was in the bathroom, reported her glasses and some jewellery missing to the police, and said she got at least a partial look at the guy doing it on his way out–so, okay, she wasn’t totally blind, but still. The second was kind of an act of stupid on both their parts–the victim was apparently asleep, with his door unlocked. The guy leaving woke him up when the door closed, at which point he discovered his wallet and cell phone missing. When police found him, they called the missing cell phone, still turned on and in his pocket. Can we say busted by ring tone?

Needless to say he’s not doing so hot right now. Still, the fact this guy was specificly targetting blind people–yeah, even if he had some incredibly horrible luck with the ones he picked–puts him in his own, special little category. There’s blind folks out there who, for lack of a better way to put it, don’t have the observational skills or the mental capacity to put it all together if something like that should happen to them. Which I get the impression was what this guy was expecting. I should know–I went to school with a few of them. He could have easily walked in on one of those type, plucked up whatever he was interested in, turned around and left without even breaking a sweat. If anyone noticed at all, by the time they did he’d probably have already done whatever he was going to do with what he stole and realisticly, finding him at that point would be a little more than difficult. These two just happened to be part of a shrinking minority, so he was escentially screwed from the second he opened the first victim’s door. Still, for someone who’d try something like that, regardless to his chances of actually pulling it off without the victim either reporting him or just outright kicking his ass, it takes a special kind of character. There’s a special place in hell for that kind of character, if you believe in such things. Personally, if such places do exist, he’s got himself a first class reservation. Here’s hoping he likes the view.

Introducing KNFB’s new fail in a box.

Warning: this is a blindness tech related entry. You may read if you wish, or you may not. It’s here either way.

KNFB is usually pretty well known within the blindness community for software, usually for your cell phone, that’s actually useable by folks who can’t see. So you’d think, when they team up with someone who’s got a bit of experience with similar software only for the computer, they’d come out with an accessible solution, right? If you said yes, give your head a shake then keep reading.

Their new e-reading software, available today for the PC and being called Blio, is branded as an accessible reading solution for the disabled. Except for the part where it isn’t. In their defense, they say there’s one coming. In our defense, I say so’s Christmas. Any bets on which one gets here sooner? Now, granted, even if it was accessible I’d very likely not use it–I rarely listen to audiobooks, nevermind the e-variety. But still, if your bread and butter is accessibility, you may not want to flub off on that. Not if you happen to have any sense of self-preservation, anyway.

On blindness, faith, and blind faith.

Disclaimer: This entry may be offensive to the religiously sensative. I only wrote it; you chose to read it. You have been warned.

I used to see it only on rare occasions, but the more time I spend watching and interacting with the community, the more a patern sticks out that kind of has me at least somewhat scratching my head. There are an aweful lot of blind folks out there who’ve decided to fall into religion. Of the religions out there, the most common one for folks to fall into, at least in my experience, has been Christianity–and not just the absent belief in God, but often times some of the strictest definitions of Christianity.

Some were very likely raised on it, and would have very likely fallen into it whether they were blind or not as a result–there’s an entire sub-entry on that subject I’ll get into when I’ve got a little more brain power. But a surprising number seem to fall into it later in life, and usually fall hard as a result. I sometimes wonder what prompts people to suddenly flip that switch on in their brain that throws them into ultraconservative mode. I’m not sure it’s a particular type of personality or what have you that does it, per say. The more level-headed usually end up being for some reason or another nudged in that general direction by someone/something either known or not to them, whereas folks with less balanced personalities tend to make the decision to do so at the drop of a hat–there are several dozen examples of folks well-known for doing things that most Christians would be convinced they’d be on a fast track to hell for doing, who have suddenly had a change of heart, and overnight seemed to switch off that other lifestyle/persona, and switched on the lifestyle/persona who would have probably sat in a room with their previous one and been more than happy to spend 20 minutes on exactly how many levels of wrong and in exactly how many ways that lifestyle was. And there are still some who, quite probably out of not knowing exactly what they’re trying to accomplish, seem to float somewhere between the two–one minute they’re a Christian, and the next they’re into the whole bondage thing or what have you that, once again, their Christian side would probably want to slap out of them. Twice.

It probably doesn’t help a whole lot when you consider that Christianity in particular, though I suspect other religions as well, regularly refer to blindness as just a part of the evil that God will wash away if you’d just let him–the phrase “Was blind, but now I see” comes to mind. In my view, no one reinforces the viewpoint of blindness being somehow bad/wrong/evil/whatever better than a large portion of Christianity. I can see folks who are uncomfortable/unhappy/disenchanted/whatever about being blind gravitating to it for that, possibly–the thought that if they try hard enough to believe/pray/do all the things a good Christian’s supposed to do, they might possibly regain–or, in some cases, gain–their sight. According to the bible that’s how it’s supposed to work, right?

Is being blind, even having been born so, such a life-altering experience that your only option in most cases is to cling to the first thing that offers to “cure” you, or is there more to it than that? And what about the people who, while they say they’re perfectly comfortable being blind, still cling to a faith who escentially dictates that by virtue of not having a working pair of eyes, they are somehow less equal at best, sick at worst, and the ideal beneficiary of some other honest Christian’s cherrity in either case? What draws them to the church? What keeps them there?

A conversation was had among friends a few weeks ago that really started me thinking about that aspect of this entry. A girl who lives a ways out of the city for her own reasons has to rely on people in her church group to help her with doing her grocery shopping. These people don’t necessarily approve of the way she eats and/or in general keeps herself, and make no bones about trying to change her mind–forcefully, where possible. This includes things like offering to take her for groceries, on the condition that said groceries do not include dog food in the hopes that she’ll get rid of her dogs and move into the city, or the purchase of supposedly healthier products because they don’t approve of her usual choices, in spite of the fact the offending healthier products just so happen to be products she’s apparently alergic to. Yet she stays there, and still goes to that church, and still goes with that group for her groceries in spite of that.

On a more personal level, and one that seems to back up the perception that at worst you’re viewed as sick, on one of my very first few trips down here, Jessica and I were coming back to her apartment from somewhere and we were stopped on the street. A nice, apparently young lady asked us if we knew where a particular church was–the name escapes me at the moment. Not being Christian or having had any other reason to be in or near that church, we didn’t, and told her as much. Then, without missing a beat, she responds, “Well, our service is at 9. You should come–God will heal you.”. When she left, Jess and I stood there and just looked at each other for a minute or two with that “Bwuh?” expression on both our faces, before continuing home. I think the exact words that came out of my mouth when we’d cleared earshot were “Do we need healing?”. Someone clearly thought we did–and that’s probably far less surprising than it should be.

It’s things like that, among several others–but this entry’s already a mile long, that make me wonder just what it is blind people in particular see in it, and why so many, even if they were never really brought up around it, seem to be drawn–or, if you’d prefer, run screaming–towards it. Is there something mixed in with all this other crap that I’m just not seeing? Do people actually like a lot of this other crap? Is it something else entirely that I just plain won’t understand on account of not being one with the collective? I’ve spent years trying to wrap my head around it and only succeed in wrapping it around a headache. Is there some connection here between blindness and faith, or is it just blind faith? Inquiring minds want to know.

Braille is dead. Long live braille.

If you’re one of the few blind people on this side of the border that still actually uses braille, you may be looking to learn the inner workings of a new standard. Until recently, Canada’s been relying on the rules of braille as published by the Braille Authority of North America for its teachings to folks growing up learning braille. I was one of those brought up on that system, back when I didn’t have much choice but have everything in braille. There are rumours–albeit unsubstantiated ones, according to my google ability–that we’ll be switching in the near to immediate future to the adopting of Unified English Braille.

What the hell does that mean for anyone who actually still reads braille? Good question. Beyond having to relearn what goes where and when according to a new standard, I’m not exactly sure. I’ve not exactly been keeping up with current braille-related politics–largely due to the fact I don’t generally give a damn. I haven’t really actively used braille since college, and even that was only barely. I’ll be quite surprised if I land myself in a job wherein braille usage is going to be necessary. So, to me, it doesn’t really translate to a whole lot of anything. But to folks who still on a daily basis make use of it, you might be going back to school to relearn how to read. Of course, the CNIB would probably be all over this as something really and truely awesome for blind people everywhere. And why not–they stand to make a kkilling off fund raising to teach the poor lost souls who supposedly depend on them to breathe how to use this new system. But, beyond what it does if anything for CNIB’s publicity, I’d bet my next paycheck on it not having much in the way of significant advantages for anyone else. That is, if I had a next paycheck to bet.

Congrats go out to the industry, though. They ran out of reasons to make blind people in general come off as approximately this far from educated, so they went out and invented one. Ladies and gentlemen, braille is dead. Long live braille.

Braille display technology, meet the mainstream.

As a blind person, I tend to associate with a fair few others in similar situations. Among them, one of the things that crops up every now and again is, “I’d get a braille display, if it would read more than one line of bloody text.”. Which is, rightfully, a valid criticism–I, personally, find it a hundred times faster/easier to just have the computer talk to me than to try and read, for example, some of the news articles I plan to link to on one of today’s braille displays. Fortunately, for folks who happen to be fans of using braille display technology, someone’s looking out for you.

Researchers from North Carolina State University now say they have devised a display that would allow visually challenged users to read a full page at a time — and at a much lower cost than existing displays.

“We have developed a low-cost, compact, full-page braille display that is fast and can be used in PDAs, cellphones and even GPS systems,” says Dr. Peichun Yang, one of the researchers working on the project, who is himself blind.

Braille display tech, meet the mainstream. Next stop, maybe? Quite possibly inside your cell phone. That is, if it ever gets beyond the experimental/theoretical stage. Either way, though, it’s this kinda stuff that keeps me interested in all things geeky. Hey, if you’re blind, this is geeky. Work with me here.

In which I learn my body may or may not be broken.

Since birth, I’ve had glaucoma, which has resulted in, among other things, my retinas being detached–a significant contributing factor to my not having sight. When I was younger, the resulting fluctuations in eye pressure glaucoma triggers made for some very insane headaches. It was discovered that those headaches were as a result of the pressure quite literally being out of controll. Several surgeries later, and they managed to fix that–I’ve gone years without having headaches to that extent or that frequently. The headaches I did get after that point were, well, no different from the types of headaches anyone else would get–and a lot more manageable.

Possibly because of my higher than normal pain tolerence, or because I’ve had and survived more powerful headaches, a typical headache usually doesn’t bother me. I can and usually do go through a normal headache day without breaking stride–anyone who wasn’t me likely wouldn’t know I was dealing with a headache. Where most folks would be reaching for the tylenol or something like it, I’d usually just turn down the TV.

Lately though, I’ve been dealing with more frequent headaches of the type I actually have to take notice of. These particular headaches, one of which I actually spent last night taking care of, usually take up residence right behind my left eye–the one that hasn’t suffered as extensive damage from my dealing with glaucoma. And, more often than not, they usually result in me having to actually take it easy for a few hours until they pass. In the event that doesn’t work, I have been known to pop a tylenol or two to get rid of the last of it.

Because I’ve had pressure issues before, and the symptoms are somewhat similar, I’m partially wondering if it may be the result of the glaucoma starting to get a little more out of controll again. It hasn’t happened since I was like 3 or 4, but that’s not to say it hasn’t started. Since my left eye has pretty much not been all too badly harmed by it, short of the detached retina and the need to replace a cornia, it might very well not be beyond logic to suggest that we might have a tiny case of reappearance in that eye.

Since I’ve been curious anyway about exactly how undamaged the optic nerve actually is in that eye, and–though I don’t know that I’d actually go through with it–if there was a way that, should the nerve still be relatively healthy, it could be put to some use in an attempt to at least give me partial sight, I’ve thought about getting myself in to see a specialist anyway. Never having had sight before, it’s not something I’m all over getting or my world will never be the same or anything, but I like knowing what my options are, should I someday decide hey, this is worth considering. In doing that, I may also bridge the headache topic with the specialist at that time, should I decide to actually go that route. Not to suggest they’re definitely related, but it would be an excuse to see one way or another. Until, if, I actually get around to doing something like that, however, it’ll be business as usual for me. Including whichever down time I need to deal with another just like it. It’s only a few hours–my day’s not completely written off as a result, so I don’t see it as a huge deal. Besides, it could always be worse–I hear migraines are hell.