Friday, September 30, 2016

September- Fun, football and Food

We are here, at the end of another September. I have had a great month really, despite the getting lost
A photograph rendered to artwork by the prisma iphone app.
William in Chicago Bears ShirtPhoto rendered by Prisma App
In roadworks, getting a year older  and well, what is there to say about "Da Bears."

This month I did a few exciting things, I created a website for 'Blindside Fresno' The site will give news updates for the television program, provide links to the individual shows and also look to raise money to enable me to keep working on the program. Take a look at the site at Blindside Fresno

Also very exciting news for this blog; it passed the 40,000 views mark in the first couple of days of the month. Now it stands at the 43,000 views mark. WOW!  This means that September 2016 is the most viewed month since this blog was created way back in 2011. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. You the readers, likers and subscribers to this blog.  Without you this blog would not exist.

It would be nice though if you would get involved, add a comment or two. Tell me the posts that you enjoy, share some of your experiences.

Another birthday has passed, in this case my fifty-fifth.  It seems no time ago when I was sitting in school listening to a careers teacher telling me all the things I couldn't do. Work with computers, work in television, write. How I had to prepare for a life of work in a chemical factory, like every other pupil at the school. Now looking back I have done most of the things I wanted to do at some time or other. I think though being a jet fighter pilot might be a little beyond me today. But you never know!

Football season began here four weeks ago, another thing I don't understand. Years seem to pass between February and September then football season starts and we are already one quarter of the season down, and I hardly blinked! What is it with that? Well talking about down, my Bears. The Chicago Bears, at week three and half the team are wounded and looking more like the dogs of the NFL. Come On, Bears it is thirty years since you won the Superbowl, half a dozen years since you won a play-off spot. Time to give us fans a break and just win a game. Though the win against San Francisco in their nice new shiney stadium last season, was precious. Wasn't that the Bears last win? Maybe or maybe not, it just seems like it was.

With the end of September comes the time of more exciting food. There is a chill in the air, even here in California. That means few days of salad type foods, less cold meat sandwiches. A return to hot soups, roasted meats and stews.

This time of year brings me my favorite foods, and starting with the king of sweet pies, the Costco Pumpkin Pie. I had never tried pumpkin pie until 2002. The last night of my journey around the United States was spent at SeaTac airport. On the menu was pumpkin pie. I asked the waitress what it was like and she was at a loss to describe it. I guess like many of us we think our common place is the same for everyone. She ate pumpkin pie and so must everyone else. So I ordered some, thinking it may be the only time I would get to eat it. Little did I know then that only a few days earlier I had met my future wife, and America would become my home.

Well that first bite, the sweet cinnamon taste, the soft pastry that crumbled in my mouth took me back to sneaking a bite of my grandmother's custard pies as a child. I had loved those custard pies and this pumpkin pie was just a custard pie in  another guise.

Now the season of good food begins, Pumpkin Pies are in Costco, my wife is talking about making soup and Turkey is sounding good on a plate instead of a sandwich.

It is good to be at the end of another September. Go Bears! Please?

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How Long Does It Take A Blind Man To Cross A Street?

Some days you just have to laugh at yourself. Amid a confusion of traffic and roadworks, bus routes and traffic cones. The is a blind man and his dog. Wandering hither and thither. With only a determination to get home and a desire not to be some motorisits hood ornament.

 Devil Thumbing His Nose Hood Ornament

Today was one such day. How Long did it take this Blind Man to cross the road? Two hours, two whole hours of muddle and frustration. The  reason, roadworks and a moved bus stop.

Well first a little background, this morning I had to go to see one of my eye doctors. Getting there is pretty easy, I cross the eight lane highway using a bus, I simply take my bus around the cornerr, down the highway and then off at the first stop over the highway. From there I double back a little and walk a few hundred yards to the doctor's office. I could walk the whole distance in about twenty five minutes, if it weren't for that eight lane highway, it's 50 mile per hour traffic and a myriad of turning lanes in the way.

So I got my bus, to the sttop, crossed the street, booked into my eye doctor's and saw the doctor, having my eyes dilated of course. Why they insist on that I don't know, but my vision of course goes from pretty bad to I can't see a damn thing through these eyeballs.

Well all well and good, make an appointment to see this doctor again in nine months. This is not my retinologist by the way. So after making the appointment, wishing the receptionist a happy Christmas and New Year. I leave.

Well at this point Leif my guide dog and I have a little chat, he wants to take me back the way we came, but I want to go a quietwer route. We are only half way between bus stops and my way means we get a nuice quiet street crossing rather than the route we came with traffic turning in several directions and me unable to see anything.

So Leif, turns his paws in the direction I want and we head up the street. After a few minutes walking, I can smell the unmistakable odour of bitumen. Plus a high pitched bleep bleep, bleep.

Er! Are we going into roadworks? I ask Leif and myself. Leif doesn't say anything at this point. But I get a little nervous. The bus  bustop is across this street and now there are roadworks. How far do the roadworks go? Will the bus still stop there. Has it changed its route for the  day?  I pull out my phone.

I call the bus company. "Will the bus be stopping at Spruce and Millbrook? I ask. " There seems to be lots of construction and congestion.

"Sure." Says a cheerful voice, we have no notice of changes on that route today.

""Er well it seems awful busy around  here." I say.

"The bus is due in seven minutes." The voice answers.

OK I cross nervously, my quiet sidestreet is now a boiling mass of tar layers, cars and trucks pushing through closed lanes, cones and a rather reluctant guide dog watching traffic coming from four directions at once.

So we make it to our bus stop. Good, soon be home I tell Leif, who slumps with a grunt to the ground. We wait, we, wait, we wait. Ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes.

OK Leif something is up I say. Let's go back to where you wanted to take me first. So we make our way back through the cones, through the smoke and fumes of the tar, through a scramble of cars and trucks.

Part way back Leif decides it is now time to give me something else to do. "You can carry my poop too!" he protests. I dutifully pick out a poop bag, pick up his gift and we make our way back to the stop where the bus had left us a little over an hour earlier.

We find the crossing and apart from on motorist trying to cut around us as they rushed a red light we crossed safely.

I decided to call the bus company again. I repeated my question about if there was any change in my bus route, to be told there was no change. But of course now  I was wary of such cheerfulness.

In a few moments our bus arrived. I got on showing my ticket, and in passing I asked the driver if there is a change in the route up ahead. "Oh yes." He said, " "There are roadworks so we are not going through Millbrook"

OK Good to know I thought,  pity no-one tells your folk back at the office.

So a journey, which should have taken me forty minutes at most, took over two hours.

My apologies for all typos in this post. My eyes are still pretty dilated and it's hard to type.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Magnificent Seven - Movie Review

I have just spent an evening at the movies. I have to be honest in saying that I was not looking forward to seeing "Magnificent Seven". Mainly because it is a remake and having recently suffered through the remake of "Ben Hur" this was looking to me like it would be one remake too amny.
Cinema poster for the magnificent seven released September 23 2016
'Magnificent Seven' Movie Poster IMDB

Having said that, I will now say that I was wrong. I really enjoyed this movie. The action has moved from the original classic from a small Mexican town to a town supposedly three days ride from Sacramento, I am guessing California unless you know of another Sacramento. Well I know California can be hot and desert, but this hot desert is not three days horse ride from Sacramento. This  place is serious desert. But allowing for that. The story somewhat follows the classics line. A small town threatened by a thug, who causes the towns people to look for safety  by hiring  a band of gunfighters, this time led by Denzel Washington as Sam Chisum.

This movie does have a huge body count. Mainly due to the bad guys falling right and left. Plus there are long action scenes at the end where the villain tries to force entry to the town.

I was sad that the cinema where I watched this movie had no audio description available, for some reason it was down, and they didn't bother to tell me. So my wife had to return to her old role as audio commentator for me.

Throughout the movie there are little tips of the Stetson to the 1960's classic. Often the soundtrack will almost trip into the familiar strains of the original movies soundtrack and the audience is finally rewarded as the end credits begin to roll with Elmer Bernstein's original title score. A nice touch.

The characters in this version are a little less well developed than in the original. They are not so much gunfighters facing a world that no longer wants their kind. In this movie we learn one or two of the characters back stories from their conversations but most are little more than bodies on the screen.

Where this movie loses on depth of story it makes up with bangs, and there are lots of loud bangs in this movie.

I enjoyed it, it was fun, it was loud and I came out  fully satisfied with my evenings entertainment.

See The Magnificent Seven (1960) on amazon streaming service.

Listen to Elmer Bernstein's Magnificent Seven Film Score

Amazon Search

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Three Wishes Answered

In April 2014,  I wrote a post called Three Wishes. In that post I imagined that I had "Three Wishes", one to have a supply of Cumberland Sausage, the second to show people how I see, and third to be able to draw.
Wish number 1 granted, I made my own Cumberland sausage
Wish 1: Cumberland Sausage

Well within a few weeks of putting that post up online, my first wish came true. If you can't go to the store and buy ready made Cumberland sausage, you can buy pork, sausage skins, spices and if you have access to a sausage making machine and willing helpers, in that case my wife's parents you can make as much Cumberland Sausage as you like. The outcome of that wish was blogged in May 2014 in the post  How To Make Cumberland Sausage.

That was fun but one wish out of three? That is just silly, I could have made the decision to make the sausages at any time couldn't I. Maybe just putting it in writing allowed my wife to see how much I missed food from home.

Well let's just say Wish Number One was granted.

Wish number 2: Letting people know how I see. I am going to be very broad with this one. Some people who have followed my blog for some time might have an idea of what I actually see. For those here for the first time, my left eye has barely any light perception, I can see a dim shadow of a hand move in front of a light. For the right I have no central vision, a grey fog fades from the left by
In the TV studio besides a camera, headset on head with the set in view through the camera viewfinder.
Becoming a TV Producer,
my nose to the right where I do have some peripheral vision. But here I would also add, I don't see myself as incapacitated, incapable of productive effort nor do I accept that I should retire to never set foot outside my front door again. That is just not me.

So which way is this going? I cannot show you my visual world, you might be visually impaired yourself, so what purpose would you knowing what I see be? You may just not have a large screen, maybe just a cell phone to look at this blog on in that case you don't have enough viewing screen to see what I see.

So here we will take the second idea of seeing. Seeing blind and visually impaired people as capable individuals who can contribute.

Well in joining CMAC, the television collaborative, producing 'Blindside Fresno' supporting others work. There I feel that I am allowing people to see things my way, and people have commented that their perception of blindness is changed because of my perseverance.

Something that I am pleased about. And shall we say Wish number two has come true? I will say so.

OK, so two wishes, fulfilled in a sort of way. But Three. Even blindness and low vision could not make me a expert drawer.
Using the prisma app I converted a photo of Leif my guide dog into a reasonable drawing.
After processing through Prisma app I have a drawing

Well no, I cannot draw very well, I can draw the occasional cartoon face, I used to be able to draw birds , trees and flowers pretty well. But I was always a better photographer. So we'll take photographs yes? I can do that, there is often enough contrast on my cell phone screen to allow me with the help of Siri to get a good picture. Photograph means to draw with light doesn't it

Then a few weeks ago I was listening to a podcast on my phone in which they talked about an app  called 'Prisma'. The app is available for both IOS and Android devices I believe. I downloaded it and even with poor vision, I can choose a photo, press the selected artistic style, ranging from comic book to detailed pencil sketches, even artists like Van Gogh or Piet Mondrian are included. In moments my selected photograph can be a wonderful sketch.

The thing is I now see these wishes come true. Maybe not in an intended way, no I can't buy the sausages at the store, no people don't see exactly what I see through my eyes, but they do see my attitude to my vision loss and so an app on my phone means I can now draw anything better than I ever could.

I am happy.

So do you have three wishes? Leave a a wish list in the comments below.

They say writing down wishes can make them come true. It worked for me.



Do you have a Wish List?  Amazon has a wishlist just for you.

See what people are wishing for today:

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Blindside Fresno: Interview With Olivia Ostergaard Author

The third program of 'Blindside Fresno' has just aired on local TV here in Fresno so I am free to release the episode to my YouTube channel.

The program is an interview with Olivia Ostergaard, a local author here in Fresno. She talks about her life, born premature she was placed in an incubator after birth and lost her sight due to complications of the procedures that were set in place to keep premature babies alive at that time.

She has recently written a book about her experiences obtaining a guide dog. In the book, "Looking at the Unseen: My Guide Dog Journey', Olivia describes her first stumbling moves to obtaining a dog. Unsuccesful twice and at the third attempt finding the perfect dog, Fenway, a black Labrador Retriever.

You may purchase the book "Looking at the Unseen: My Guide Dog Journey"  from any good bookstore or it is available in both paperback and on Kindle from amazon or by clicking on the link image below.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Blindside Fresno Program 3 Scheduled to Broadcast

I am pleased to say program three of 'Blindside Fresno' is scheduled to broadcast shortly.

We see Yvonne Schwemmer, voice over actress, in the recording booth headphones on head, reading from Olivia Ostergaard's book "Looking at the Unseen.
Yvonne Schwemmer Working in the Voice Over Booth during Recording

The first airing of the program, "Blindside Fresno: An Interview with Olivia Ostergaard' will be September 13 at 8:00pm PDT.

The program is an interview with author Olivia Ostergaard, and she talks about her life with low vision and how she came to write her book, "Looking at the Unseen". The book tells of her story  and how she came to work with her guide dog, named Fenway, a black labrador retriever.

A small portion of the book was read by voice over actress, Yvonne Schwemmer, , we can see Yvonne in the photograph above working in the voice-over  sound booth at CMAC.

You can watch the program by following this link, Blindside Fresno: Interview with Olivia Ostergaard, Author At your local time  equvalent to 8:00pm  Pacific Daylight Time  Then follow the links on the CMAC website to watch.

Alternatively, this program will be available to watch on my Youtube channel sometime Wednesday September 14. I will post a link to that as soon as the program is available.

The book is available on and all good booksellers. It is available both in paperback and amazon Kindle.

'Blindside Fresno' Gets a Website

Well Sunday was a long day in the Elliott household. I had hoped to watch some football, the first
Title image from my television series, Blindside Fresno
Blindside Fresno Logo
Sunday of the season after all. But then my itchy fingers got to me. Sitting beside a TV was not going to work, so up I got, went to my computer and decided to buy a website for 'Blindside Fresno.'

It seems that everyone today has a website, except me that is. Yes I blog here, but I never had a whole website to myself, owned domain etc.

Setting up the website was pretty easy at first, I bought a domain, then created hosting with Hostgator.

Having done all of that, I tried to log in to create my website. Arrrggggh, then the frustration hit as my browser refused to let me find my website. I didn't realise that it takes several hours for a website to actually set uup before the promised "You'll be posting in minutes" actually happen.

But anyway, after a chat with technical support, thanks Ali at Host Gator, things went well and a full ten hours after first creating the website, a couple of posts were up and I turned my attention to starting to link back to it to help it proliferate a little more in the search engines.

Take a look at the new website and if you like it then share it to your friends and followers.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

September,: A Month of Parties

Well we are now definitely into September. It's the tenth already!  Today is one of my favorite times of the year. We are at "The Last Night of the Proms."

I will be listening to the BBC today to hear the concerts live. Listen on BBC Radio 2  

The Royal Albert Hall in London is the venue for the Last Night of the Proms, Image contains thousands of people inside the Hall, there are lots of flags and streamers being waved by a colorful crowd from the floor  up through several levels of balconies.
Inside the Royal Albert Hall, London. U.K.  (Image B.B.C. Website)

The Last Night  marks the end of what was once called "The Season." In years gone by the British aristocracy would migrate in and out of London for parties and meeting with friends during the period  when their estates required little management. They would attend parties, go to the horse races and spend most of the summer  whiling the days with entertainments like the theater. Before returning to the country to oversee the harvest on their estates. Now the Proms still remain as a legacy of those days of Empire.

Many see the Last Night as a bad thing, jingoistic and nationalist. Personally I love the Last Night. Like the Americans see Labor Day, last weekend here,  for me the Last Night is the start of months of fun times.

Before the end of the month, there is my birthday. For those of you who wonder I'll be 55.  October sees preparations for Halloween. The back in England I would have been planning for Bonfire Night on November 5, this year I am hoping to produce a program about Bonfire Night for local TV. Then of course being here in the US there comes the Election and Thanksgiving. Followed rapidly by Christmas and New Year.

But memories of Septembers past cram my mind today. The bite of a frosty morning as I walked to school, the joys of going to look for conkers in the park. Then claiming or trying to claim the title of playground conker champ for the season with my great, twentier. The special conker, preserved for years on my bedside table. The conker that conqueored all comers. The Last night of the Proms, 'Rule Britannia" and "British Sea Songs."

Do you remember this secen last year, recorded as I listened to "No Place Like Home"?


Yes, Leif laying on his back, sleeping as the Radio plays. I have to smile at this dog.

Finally, I will leave you with one of my favorite renderings of "Rule Britannia" from the last decade of the Proms. Sarah Conelly dressed in full Late 18th Century, Naval Officers Uniform. Enjoy the fun, and singalong if you like.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

A Day in the Mountains

Well September is here and Summers lease is almost done. Labor Day Holiday marks the end of Summer here and like many this week end Leif, my wife and I took a trip into the mountains to enjoy a walk and picnic. Many people take along a barbecue, we took a couple of sandwiches and a bag of kibble for Leif.

Guide Dog Leif a black labrador retriever sits besides William Elliott on the road across the Bass Lake Dam in the hills near Coarsegold CA. Behind them is Bass Lake and the hills which are covered in dense pine woods.
Leif, Black Labrador with William at Bass Lake Dam

Leif enjoys the occasional trip out of harness. Working everyday is no fun for anyone, even a guide dog and so just for the day Leif was a pet, out of harness though his harness was not far away, in the trunk of the car, just in case we needed to go into a diner or store.

The day was spent in walking around the various stopping points around the lake. Best of all was that it was only in the high 80's in the mountains, refreshing after the over 100 degree temperatures we have just had in the valley.

Walking over some of the rougher terrain is not easy when you are visually impaired but it is still good for you.  My wife makes a good sighted guide on these occassions and she also takes the photographs.

I have been working a lot myself lately. Since the early Summer I have been putting more effort into making the ''Blindside Fresno' television programs, we have  another program waiting for a broadcast schedule date this month and are recording another show on Saturday September 17.

Then on top of those I have spent a lot of time marketing and creating new items for my zazzle store, Bretsuki's William's zazzle store.

So a day away from the computer and television studio was a nice  change for both Leif and I.

Friday, September 2, 2016

DeRoyal Liquid Level Indicator Review

I have used several liquid level alarms since I began to loose my vision. Liquid level alarms are simple devices, in basic terms they are two copper wires, which hang over the rim of your cup, mug or glass attached to a buzzer or vibrator and a usually 9volt battery.

When the liquid being poured into the glass or mug reaches the two copper wires a circuit is created and electricity from the battery is allowed to flow, triggering the buzzer or vibrator.

The major problem I have found with the buzzer type alarms is that they are very, very loud. Designers seem to equate blindness with deafness.

Since the buzzer sounds at full volume immediately I often find myself 'jumping' with surprise. The act of jumping then makes me spill very hot liquid onto the worktop. Exactly the situation I mostly wanted to avoid.

So I turned to this model,: The

DeRoyal Vibrating 2 Level Liquid Indicator

The DeRoyal Vibrating Liquid Level Indicator  is much easier on the ears and makes me jump less, it basically clatters against the side of the mug or glass as the level of the liquid reaches the two copper prongs.

I would recommend this product to anyone who doesn't want a fire alarm like sound everytime they pour a cup of coffee or  pour a glass of water.

 Thank you for using this amazon affiliate link to see the DeRoyal Liquid Level Indicator.