Sunday, January 31, 2016

Worst Things About Going Blind

Recently I have been working on a series of videos which integrate with posts on this blog. They are just short videos. They are meant to describe my experience of going blind in middle age.

As some of you may know I began to go blind in late 2001. I had a series of Central Retinal Vein Oclusions over the first few years of this century. This led to my losing most of the sight in my right eye and being left with mere light perception in my left eye.

In this,, the latest of the serries to be relased on YouTube I talk about some of the problems caused by CRVO. The visual halucinations, lack of clarity in vision and also the difficulty of night blindness.

In my other videos in the series I talk about positives, the practicalities of day to day living and also some of the funny things that have happened to me since losing my eyesight.

So if you have enjoyed this video, please give it a thumbs up.

If you have any questions about my experiences then please ask questions in the comments below or on the video.  Also ask questions that might be valuable as future video ideas.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Behind the Scenes

Today we recorded a new edition of the "Low Vision Kitchen". The show is now in post production, some editing is required and then it will be uploaded to YouTube.

When a show is being recorded it is often easy to forget that there are lots of things going on around the presenter, studios are busy places with lots of technicians doing their own thing.

I am guessing that I can claim one of the most attentive studio staff members around.

This is what my Guide Dog, named Leif, is doing whilst I am demonstrating the making of 'Scotch Eggs' for  the latest program in the 'Low Vision Kitchen' series.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Exclusive Premiere of My New Video: Misconceptions of Blindness

Ok folks. I am trying something new.:  Misconceptions of Blindness is one of my latest videos on  YouTube.

I am giving all of you the weekend to enjoy a full episode of this my "Life With Blindness" video before it goes public next week.

If you enjoy the video please give it a thumbs up and if you really like it share it on your social media.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Central Retinal Vein Oclusion CRVO Playlist

Recently I was looking around YouTube and decided to create a playlist for information on Central Reinal Vein Oclusion (CRVO).

This  is the link to the playlist, there you will find videos from those who have had a CRVO and also medical experts on the condition.

This playlist is not in itself a means of diagnosis, you should always consult a physician or eye specialist to discuss any changes in your vision. This playlist is merely a means to encourage your further research into the condition.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

What Would You Do With a Powerball Jackpot

I have to admit that even I am pondering a win on the Powerball Lottery this week.

As of the time of writing the prize money fund for the jackpot stands at $1.5 Billion. Which would give one winner a payout of about $930 million.

For those of you who live outside the United States and are wondering about the difference between the headline payout and the actual winning payout, the answer is simple. Here in the U.S. lottery wins are taxed by the Federal government, many  States also impose an income tax on lottery wins and even local governments sometimes impose a tax on lottery winnings.

So for American lottery winners the bad news is they lose a good chunk of winnings before they see the cash. I found this a big shock coming from the United Kingdom where lottery wins are seen in the more favorable light as an Act of God. To tax God would make no sense. So while most "Acts of God" are seen in a bad light, being struck by lightening and such insurance get out of paying clauses. Winning the lottery is a nice little earner for the winner alone, taxes only come in later when you start spending the winnings or earn interest from the winnings.

So What Would I do With $930 Million?

First bearing in mind California is a common property state I would see that my wife had her 50%. I know she has plans for her share.

I would also look for financial implications of course.

Then taking financial advice it seems most likely that I'd  look to secure the major portion of the win in a pot to give me some regular income. I would look at only keeping an income around $5,000 per month here. I am not extravagant and could live on that.

The rest of the pot could fund a foundation. This appears to be a common policy for high earners such as NFL footballers and other sports stars. 

The purpose of the foundation could be varied.

  • I am very thankful that organizations like  Guide Dogs for the Blind exist. So some of the foundation could make regular donations to guide dog organizations.
  • Guide dogs also need veterniary care and veterinary school is pretty expensive. Here I might like to create a scholarship fund for a veterinary school student. 
  • Rural areas are often underserved by veterinary surgeons, so it might be possible to fund  a veterinary graduate in creating a clinic in an underserved community.
  • It would be nice to possibly fund a resource for those who go blind in their late teens or adulthood. From personal experience I have found these groups to be underserved outside major cities. This resource could educate, be a social meeting place and place of initial response after they lose their sight, pointing them to other resources and advocating for them..

What Would I Do for Myself?

By now I would be pretty much down to small change.  Say $1 million.

Having sorted an income earlier I would be pretty secure. I might buy a house over by the coast, if I could. Not a mansion just a modest three or four bedroom to allow for guests. I am sure lots of friends and family would want to visit during the heat of a central valley  summer.

I might buy a modest compact car for myself. Of course I would need a driver too. Wages for a driver may be an eligible deduction from the foundation. Or maybe I could fund a network of Google cars across the nation. This is a what if afterall.

If by any chance I do win the jackpot tonight. All $930 million, after tax. This would honestly be my blueprint. Whether it would work in reality, well we can leave that up to the lawyers and accountants. But it is nice to have a dream.

Let me know what you would do in the comments.

Good Luck

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Affordable Braille Displays?

It appears that an affordable full page Braille display may be close at hand.

In Sean Brewster's article  In Pursuit of an Affordable Tablet for the Blind   in the MIT Technology Review we are shown the work of University of Michigan researchers looking to create a pneumatic full page Braille display.

Braille displays are at present prohibitavely expensive. A single line display at the moment can cost over $3,000 taking it out of the price range of most individual blind or vision impaired users. The researchers are working on a full page renewable Braille display, which could open up a whole new world for users of Braille text books, or manuals. At present a full page display might cost over $50,000, , so unless you know the winner of the Powerball mega lottery this week, this item is a definite luxury.

Using pneumatic miniaturization researchers estimate the cost of the new Braille display could mean that a finished product may be available at a cost of less than $1,000. Little more than the price of a tablet or even a high end mobile phone.

What do you think? Would you consider buying one of these affordable Braille displays?

Tell me in the comments below.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Low Vision Kitchen: Cheese on Toast

One of the simplest and most delicious meals or snacks that I know is "Cheese on toast" or as many Americans call it "Toasted Cheese."

I love the variety of flavors that this simple meal can have. Bringing together any combination of cheeses and breads is delicious in itself but you can also add pickles, fruit like apples and tomatoes and make yourself a meal made in heaven.

Here is my video

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rain, Earthquakes and Gardeners

I am sitting here in my little office, the sun will be rising in a few minutes and to my mind all should be peaceful.

But beneath my feet the floor is stirring and shaking.

OK so I live in California,  "It must be an earthquake, mustn't it?"

No sadly it is not an earthquake. "Sadly?" you ask.

No the silence of the pre dawn and the shaking floor is the product of the gardeners. I live in an apartment whose manicured lawns and trees are maintained by a flock of gardeners. Nice men all. Except for the Tuesday morning ritual.

The leaf blowers!

Tuesday? But today is Wednesday?

Yes it is Wednesday but on Tuesday morning it started to rain just after the leaf blowing started. So my morning began with a soft tappity tap of rain on my windows instead of the constant roar of leaf blowers.

I don't mind the rain. Though it does find the holes in my leaky shoes. I am English. We are born with webbed feet, my second language is duck. Quack quack.

I cannot understand why the gardeners even have their leaf blowers out. The rain yesterday washed almost every leaf from the grounds, they lie in soggy mounds  on top of the rainwater grids at the bottom of the street. A quick rake and a shovel would clear the gratings to let the rain drain away. But no.

They are en masse gathered outside my house, leaf blowers in hand. Leaf blowing the wel manicured lawn for no other reason that I can tell but to fulfil their quota of leaf blower time.


Happy New Year everyone.