Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

This Thanksgiving is a pretty tough one.

Caduseus staff, a winged staff wrapped with two serpents.
Caduseus: Symbol of the Medical Profession

I have Bronchitis. Since last Saturday afternoon when I started with a burning in my lungs as I breathed, and progressed to a cough all night Sunday and about twenty hours of sleep on Monday afternoon until Tuesday lunchtime.

Now my breathing has eased a lot. My ribs feel raw though and I did not get to do all the work that I had planned for this week already.

One bad thing about being self employed is having to do the work as and when planned. Whether or not you feel  well enough to do it. Well this week the work did not get done and I feel pretty bad about that today. Having missed my deadlines I am out of my comfort zone. I had planned a few things that could only really go out this week. Now those items are not really worth working on.

I never like feeling sick at the  best of times but this week I just didn't need to feel as sick as I did.

Talk about frustration.

One thing I am glad about though is I couldn't get in to see my doctor. Of course being Thanksgiving he was fully booked and the earliest I could see him with a scheduled appointment was December 5.

I was happy enough to say to myself that I will be ok by then and going by how much happier I am today I think that will work out fine. He would of course would have prescribed anti-biotics, those would have worked on the cough and I would have not had a cough. But then I could be open for a host of other malardy's this season. After all I will be going into crowds of people. As stores fill and the Christmas crush begins in it's fullest fury.

All those people wanting to push past me, pet my dog, or just sneeze all over me, to spread the joy of their colds.

Going into this season with no defences after taking a dose of anti-biotics is no dream of mine. So now. My body is fully armed with bacteria killing anti-bodies, I am naturally recovered from a bad cold and ready to get back to work for myself again.

That is something that I am thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Grand Tour - Review of the Amazon TV Program

Do you like cars, trucks, boats or middle aged men being allowed to play with great toys? Well I do. Yes I know that I am blind and don't have a hope in hell of getting to play with all this great stuff. But that doesn't stop me loving Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard "Hamster" Hammond getting to play on my TV.
A bright red sports car, lit from above with shadow beneath and the words 'The Grand Tour' Program review.
'The Grand Tour' on amazon

For those of you who may not know, Clarkson, May and Hammond were the front men on the BBC car program 'Top Gear' until early 2015 when Clarkson was dismissed by the BBC and Hammond and May left the program too. 'Top Gear' still continues on the BBC but has less sparkle without these three. Instead Clarkson and the others fell into the company of amazon, who were looking to fill a slot with a proven team of  "entertainers" The result is "The Grand Tour."

'The Grand Tour' has been eagerly awaited by old fans of 'Top Gear'. The fans loved the quirky antics of Clarkson, May and Hammond. Clarkson a tall, loud and very opinionated man, May, also known as 'Captain Slow' is more refined, knowledgeable and cautious and Hammond, game for anything, feisty and excitable. Together they provide great chemistry, it is almost too easy for them, they gget to drive fast cars around fast race tracks, they drive in some of the most exotic locations around the world and just for good measure they blow things up!

This first program took us from the High California Desert to a race track in Portugal to a test track in England. We saw Porches, McLaren Ferrari's race and a BMW put through it's paces. All the time with the under tow of English public (that is private school to my American readers) school humour.

These men are never too proud to let their inner nine year old to show. Except for one moment when Jeremy Clarkson pressed the wrong button in his McLaren and almost lost control at over 200 miles per hour. As he said "The pooh came out."  Fun, childish pranks, race fixing and explosions are bound to come throughout the season.

The program is sure to be a great success. My wife and I loved it. My wife is not so much interested in the cars as in the antics of these three. She grew to love them as aviewer of the old 'Top Gear' for over a decade. Now both of us look forward to this first season of 'The Grand Tour'.

To read more about 'The Grand Tour' CLICK HERE.

Here are some more links to Jeremy Clarkson.




Thursday, November 17, 2016

Frustration at Department of Rehabilitation

I have a love hate relationship with the California Department of Rehabilitation. Well actually I just really love to hate them.
A red explosion graphic with the word Bang in gold across its center.
BANGLove Hate Relationship With the Department of Rehabilitation

I had my first dealings with the Department of Rehabilitation back in 2009. Not a good year to start dealings with an organization like the DOR. California was on the way into a financial tailspin and I did get the promise of a cane. A white cane costing $25 took over 18 months to obtain from the DOR. I had bought my own in four days from amazon. com.

They had allowed me to have five hours of training with a cane. Thank God for such generosity. Then after a few months of being told  that I could not have lessons in using other adaptive technology they  genorously  closed my file.

After several attempts to re-open my file I reapplied to the DOR for help. I knew that I was planning to move home, now to be closer to medical resources and possible training. Maybe they would help. They did. They told me I couldn't move home. Well for that part it wasn't just my say, my wife had the offer of a new and better job and I would have been left to live alone in a small town, seventy miles away from all my doctors and that was only accesible by one bus per day in each direction.

Well after I left my job and moved home. The DOR did relent a little. They did agree that I could have some access to training on adaptive technology and typing training. Plus I would have an advisor who would put me in touch with employers.

Well things were definitely looking brighter back then. In eighteen months though I have come to learn that the promises of the DOR are nothing short of lies.

The classes eventually stopped at the end of 2015.  The person who advises on jobs went on a little longer. I didn't mind writing an e-mail every week about my job search. Listing all the applications and a detailed description of what each job was, but something told me that she did not particularly understand that finding  jobs for a blind person is fraught with some difficulties. I don't know what it was, whether the job application she sent me for a truck driver, the application to spend the Summer working on  an Alaskan crab boat, or maybe it was the telling me at ten in the morning that I had a chance of an interview that very afternoon if I could get to a place just out of town, by two o'clock.  Sadly for me at one o'clock I had my monthly eye doctor appointment to atten to and with no cash to pay for Uber, nor having a friend or relative available to drop everything and get me to the place to work everyday, I felt it more prudent to decline.

Back in May I had also told them of my ideas to spend more time working on  my blogs   and my amazon FBA business   So I did begin working more than full-time hours on those things as well as continuing to look for other work, of course avoiding long distance truck driving, being an airline pilot or deep sea fisherman.

Well just over a month ago I received a call from the DOR. They  wanted to check on my case. I told them of all the things that I have been doing, my businesses, producing TV programs, as well as doing presentations to school children on working with Guide Dogs.

Well for the DOR this is not looking for work. I am earning some money, it is an income that has grown throughout the past six months. I have the support from my wife for doing what I am doing, but I do not have the support of my case workers at the DOR.

They describe me as "not ready to participate in the workforce." Which I take to be government gobbledigook for not willing to play their game.

The vast majority of the blind and visually impaired community is unemployed, employers will not employ the blind, they see us as a liabillity. Because of employment regulations it is more difficult to fire a disabled person. They see the blind as a risk of filing a suit for injury from falling or they see the blind as lacking in motivation to do a days work. The blind are of course  not more likely to take time off, nor are they more likely to sue an employer. But that is the reality of being blind, if you are blind and want to work you are pretty much screwed.

So I took an option, work for myself, and work hard. True at the moment I don't earn a lot of money, but with every box of books I ship to amazon to resell, with every blog post I make, with every design I submit to my zazzle stor the potential grows.

But my case workers at the California Department of Rehabilitation don't want to see that. They want me to fail, to be unemployed for life, to discourage me at every turn. My success at making work for myself is a step closer to failure for them. Because if I don't need them, then what is their purpose. If every disabled person who can created their own life, did what they can to the best of their abillities then only the truly needy would need the DOR. But the truly needy would mean that case worker's would need to work on cases.

My view is, the DOR seek merely to procrastinate, frustrate and disenfranchise the majority of otherwise able bodied people, merely to create a need which allows them to exist. They need to let those of us who want to help themselves do so. Allow us to live as we wish. Not to pose as assistants who are out to help, when they merely hamper. Nor should the tax payers of California be cheated by this body of incompetants living off the public purse, enjoying benefits and pensions which the ordinary taxpayer can only dream of.

What do you think?  Leave a comment below. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Blindside Fresno: Blind Mom Part 2

This is the second part of the program talking to blind moms, Debbie Flowers and Sarah Harris.

Both Debbie and Sarah talk about raising their children while losing vision in Debbie's case and after suddenly losing her vision in a road traffic accident  in Sarah's case.

Both Debbie and Sarah are happy to share some of the funny situations that they have found themselves in and also talk about how sighted people often react to them as blind parents.

Friday, November 4, 2016

In the Studio: Remember, Remember

A few weeks ago I was in the studio at CMAC, to read the article that I posted back then read I am on Green Screen in the Studio.
Uploading Remember, Remember to YouTube left the play button looking like a bright red nose on my title guy fawkes mask.
An Unfortunate Guy

That was just one month ago. After about twenty hours in post production, editing and adding of graphics the completed program was scheduled to show on CMAC's channels last night and is now available on my YouTube channel.

The program' Remember, Remember'  follows the story of the "Gunpoder Plot" from May 1604 until the execution of Guy Fawkes and six other conspirators in January 1606.

Why Choose the Gunpowder Plot?

Well the answer to that is simple. It is November 5 tomorrow.
 and many people outside Britain don't know that for one night of the year, regular as clockwork since 1606 the British have celebrated the failure of the plot to murder the King and all of the political executive. That mass assination was to have taken place on November 5, 1605.

So visitors to Britain are often quite amazed to arrive in the country which explodes into smoke and flames with all sorts of fireworks and parties at this time of the year.

I also love history. I do have a B.A. in History after all and so love to share items of interest from history. So why not bring together talking about the customs of my homeland and adding some of the brutal history of Britain too.

One of my wife's most enduring memories of her time living in England after we married is going with me to a viewpoint high over the River Mersey, the road was crowded with hundreds of people and we all watched fireworks bursting and bonfires burning for about twenty miles around us. From the towns along the Dee Estuary to the South -West, across the Wirral Peninsula and Liverpool to the West. As far as the old mill towns of Lancashire and Manchester to the North and East. It was spectacular and went on for two or three hours on a clear, crisp November evening in 2005.

Take a look at 'Remember, Remember' here on my YouTube Channel.

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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Congratulations To The Chicago Cubs

Baseball is a strange game to me. I just don't understand the game. I have seen a few real life games, going down to my local teams ballpark. But on the whole I prefer football. My team is the Chicago Bears.
Chicago Cubs 2016 Topps baseball card pack factory sealed
Chicago Cubs 2016 Topps Baseball Card Pack

As a Bears fan I know real pain. I know what it is to hope for a win, and the seeming promise of "next year." So it was with great surprise a few weeks ago that I learned of the coming World Series teams histories.

I even included a "What do you mean the Cubs are in the World Series?" "No you can't be right the Cubs, don't do the World Series!"

The Cubs it seems do as well with big games as their neighbors, the Bears.  We both share a pain.

So last Sunday with my in laws visiting I sat down to watch the "Indians" win the World Series. They were in the lead  just one win and they would send more pain towards Chicago. All they needed was a win to take the series four games to one.

But then the Cubs, did something. Well, surprising. They won at Wrigley Field! They would live to take the game back to  Indian Territory. To lose on Tuesday, but at least the fans would have the memory of a glorious victory to remember for next year.

Then again on Tuesday, now I was glued to my television set from the National anthem to the last ball. What the Indians lost. Well of course the game plan must be get the fans to pay more for those seventh game tickets tomorrow night. The Indians can't lose three in a row, not against the Cubs.

Well the seventh game came around. Wednesday night. Within minutes I was on the phone to my wife. The Cubs are up and just got a Home run! I screamed down the phone.

It was minutes into a game that would have me on a rollercoaster ride of emotion. The Cubs shut out the Indians, got a few more runs. The Indians hit back, hard nearly tied the game by the fourth inning. Then the Cubs pulled away again.

"Oh God! The Cubs are going to do a Bears on us. Drag defeat from the jaws of victory."

Factory sealed Topps Cleveland Indians baseball card pack. Factory sealed.
2016Topps Cleveland Indians Baseball Card Collection
The Indians hit back again, scores level. One inning left.

The Cubs are all out! The Indians are going to win. "No! Please?"

"They're out "How can they do  this to me?"

"What's happening on the Field?" "What do you mean it has been raining a while and there is a belt of heavvy rain coming?" "You didn't tell me about any rain!"

They're back. "Please, Please. God I will do anything. Let the Cubs get a Run, or load the bases and get a home run would be even better!"

They got one! They got Two!

Out No!

"Oh God. Don't let the Indians come back. " One out.  Two out.

No. They just got first!" "Please God! Just one more OUT!"

Yes. Oh thank you God. The Cubs Won. They won. This is next year. It is time.

Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs. I didn't see you win with my eyes. I am not even a fan, but you took me from pain to ecstacy in just a few minutes this week.

Thank you and congratulations on winning the World Series 2016.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

How to Make Shepherd's Pie

I have recently completed another program in my Low Vision Kitchen series, this program is entitled 'Shepherd's Pie.'
a golden brown potato topped shepherd's pie is one of the worlds greatest comfort foods.
The Finished Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd's Pie is very easy to make it is a meat and vegetable filling topped with mashed potato. Traditionally in England Shepherd's Pie is made with Lamb, if the meat in the pie is beef then the pie is known as 'Cottage Pie.' But in the United States any pie topped with mashed potato is generally known as Shepherd's Pie.

My ingredients for this pie was"

1 Large Onion

One Pound of Minced Beef 80/20

Mixed Vegetable I used a mixture of frozen peas and carrots. You may use any vegetables that you prefer.


Teaspoon of Worcestershire  Sauce

Minced Garlic (Optional)

Two packets of dried mashed potato.

This Video describes the method to prepare your Shepherd's Pie in detail.

Pre-Heat an oven to 350 degrees F Gas Mark 4.

First chop the onions and cook them gently in oil to soften but not fry them.

Add minced meat to the onions and brown the meat while stirring the mixture. Add salt pepper and other seasonings.

Allow the meat to cook through while preparing the vegetables

Prepare mashed potatoes to your liking.

Put meat mixture and vegetables in a heat proof dish.

Top with potatoes.

Place dish in the pre-heated oven for between 20 and 45 minutes to allow vegetables to cook through.

Serve hot, you may add a salad if you wish.


T-Shirt Worn in Video 

This shirt design red letters on white shirt worn in the video is available from zazzle the link is in the caption below.
Blind Not Deaf Shirt Available from Zazzle