Friday, May 22, 2015

Just playing some cards

Sometimes it’s the simple things.

As ,y vision got worse, one of the things I had to give up was playing poker. It was something I wasn’t necessarily all that good at, but I enjoyed it none the less.

I’d read some stories about people that were blind pulling up to the tables and trying it, so I tried to back in September before Jen and I were planning a trip to Vegas for a family get-together.

But I wasn’t just going to show up at the poker room and say “How are we going to do this?” That’s just not fair to anybody.

So I placed a call to the poker room at Wild Horse Pass to talk with someone on how we would work out any accommodations that I’d need. I got escalated up the food chain two or three times before I got transferred to a supervisor or manager or someone with instructions to leave them a voicemail and that I’d get a call back.

Well, that never happened.

I called a few more times and didn’t get any farther, so I did a little digging around on their website and found the number for their guest relations manager. I left him a strongly-worded voicemail where I may have mentioned the Americans with Disabilities Act and the next day I had everything worked out. I had approval to have my wife sit behind me and whisper to me what my cards were. As far as the community cards, the dealer would just read them to me.

So, with that worked out, I went to play a tournament just to see how it would go. I played like crap, but it went well.

I played a few more times before the trip to Vegas, including a trip o a different casino in town. I called them as well as the Monte Carlo, where we were staying in Vegas, and asked if the same arrangement would be ok with them and neither casino had any objections.

It’s taken some time to get comfortable with the arrangement, but it works out pretty well. But, more importantly, I felt like I got a little chunk of my life back since I got back into one of my hobbies.

Now, one of the things that I get asked a lot is if I feel like I’m at a huge disadvantage not being able to see the other players. While I do miss a few things, I feel like it’s not a huge disadvantage since I always read more into people’s betting patterns than what faces they were making or anything like that.

As far as Las Vegas, I’m going again in a few weeks and will be playing at the Monte Carlo again. They were so awesome with us that I won’t stay anywhere else.

No touching!

No, I’m not just making an Arrested Development reference for the heck of it.

I know you may mean well and are really just trying to help, but don’t grab me when you want to guide me somewhere.

I’ve had this happen before, but an incident that happened on Monday just got under my skin.

As part of a mobility lesson with rehab, I was getting on a light rail train downtown and taking it down five or six stops to meet my instructor. It was the third ride like that which I had taken that morning, with another light rail trip and a bus ride.

Anyways, when I got onto the train, a lady saw me with my cane and offered me her seat. I started to walk towards where I thought she was, but apparently wasn’t exactly on track. She decided to just grab my shoulders and basically push me to the seat.

If I grabbed her and had tried to move her, I would have gotten slapped. Twice. Once by her, and once by my wife when I told her about that bonehead thing I did today. But. for some reason, people think it’s ok to just grab a blind person and steer them like a car or something.

Remember, I can’t see that you’re about to grab me. When someone unexpectedly grabs me, it surprises me. When, after that, they decide to steer me, it throws off my balance. I’m clumsy enough just standing still on my own, the sudden shifts don’t help anything.

It’s not that I mind the help, I promise that I don’t. What I do mind is someone invading my personal space and potentially screwing up my balance.

If you want to help out a blind person, just ask if you can guide them. More often than not, we’ll say yes. Then simply offer us an elbow to grab onto. That’s how we’re trained to let folks guide us, after all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Counting down

The countdown has begun.

I had a meeting yesterday with all my instructors at rehab. After cutting my schedule to three days a week a few weeks ago, we have chosen next Wednesday as my last day.

That means just two more days!

When I look back, it amazes me just how far I have come.

Just as an example, I wrote this post using just a braille note taker, a device that allows me to type using the same type of keyboard I'd use if I were brailing a piece of paper. It also allows me to read things in braille. I'm trying to get my speed up so I can use it to take notes when I start school in the fall.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The questions kids ask

This afternoon I walked with my mother-in-law. We went to lunch and did a little grocery shopping, taking advantage of the rarity of a 75-degree day in the middle of May.

As we were walking back to the house, we ran into some kids from the nearby elementary school who were going home for the day. One curious little boy walking home with his mom saw me moving my white cane back and forth and asked me “Is that a detector?”

I said no at first, but realized that it kind of is.

Anyways, I thought that was a cute little story and wanted to share it with y’all.

Is this thing on?

Yes, that’s right, I’m back.

A lot has changed since I last wrote here.

The one thing I want to write about today, which is the reason I’ve been away for so long, is my vision loss.

Over the last couple of years, my vision started to get worse, to the point that I had to quit my job about a year ago.

Since then, I’ve enrolled in Arizona’s Vocational Rehabilitation program, which helps people whose disabilities prevent them from working gain the skills necessary to either join or rejoin the workforce. It’s one of those programs that even someone with my libertarian leanings can get behind.

Anyway, I’ve just about completed the comprehensive rehabilitation part of the process. That’s the part in which I, among other things, learn braille, how to get around using a white cane (though I plan on getting a guide dog at some point), cooking and cleaning with my vision loss, and how to use a computer with JAWS, which is software that reads the screen for me.

That’s right, I’m using a computer with just a keyboard to navigate. It’s actually a lot easier than you’d think, but I’m sure that my tech background helps me out a lot. Though I have to give a ton of credit to the instructors in the Adult and Transition Services program at the Foundation for Blind Children here in Phoenix. They’ve been pretty awesome through the whole process.

And now that I have my own laptop with all the tools I need, I can blog again. Thankfully Windows Live Writer plays nicely with JAWS.

Anyways, once I finish the comprehensive rehabilitation program, I’ll be returning to school to get a degree in Information Technology Support, again with the help of FBC. Once I get my degree and find a job, VR will even help whoever hires me with getting and setting up all the extra technology and other things I will need.

I’ll be blogging about my experiences here, as well as anything else that comes to mind.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Winning the small battles

Won my first battle in my new position at work today.

One of the things we do is offer loaner headsets for agents that forget theirs for some reason. Each headset had a name. Pink zip tie and orange zip tie are simple enough, but it got confusing when you got to “paper orange zip tie.” It’s something that’s driven me nuts since I started working back at the WFO desk.

“Why can’t we just number them?” I asked. I was told “That would be too easy.”

Well, today I got most of our broken loaners replaced with new ones from the group at work that controls them.

Then I got to label them.

I took a post-it note, folded it into quarters, put it around the top of the headset, and stapled it. Then I wrote numbers on the labels.

I even grabbed the one we didn’t replace and put a number on it.

I won!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Back to blogging

I haven’t done this in a long time.

And I realized tonight that that’s a damn shame.

So much has changed since October.

I got two promotions at work, I moved up from just a regular agent to an ICU agent, meaning I dealt with harder stuff. Then about six weeks ago I moved out of the production side of the call center and spend my days buried in reports, Excel sheets, and the like as an analyst.

It’s one of those kinds of jobs that opens your eyes to how things really work.

It’s also found me with a lot more time to fill, since Jen and I are working vastly different schedules now.

Which brings me back to the blogging thing. I’ve suddenly got more time to spend on it since I’m going to wind up being up until 2 or 3 AM on this 2-10 PM schedule.

But did you miss me?

Yea, didn’t think so.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

2012 MLB Playoff Predictions

I’ll admit, I haven’t followed baseball too closely this year, so this could be a trainwreck, but here goes nothing…


St. Louis @ Atlanta – I think Atlanta’s the better team and will win this one.

Baltimore @ Texas – Texas will finish the choke job that lost them the division in a sweep at Oakland and lose to the Orioles.


Atlanta v, Washington – I want to say Washington really, really bad, but I’m afraid that shutting down Strasburg is going to come back to haunt them. I’m going Atlanta

Cincinnati v, San Francisco – I’m saying Reds just because I hate the Giants.


Baltimore v. New York – The two teams went 9-9 against each other this year and I think they’re pretty even. This one’s a coin toss. My coin lands on Baltimore

Oakland v. Detroit – Detroit went 4-3 against them this year, but Oakland’s on fire right now, winning six in a row. I’m going Oakland.

NLCS: Atlanta v. Cincinnati – The Reds take this one easily. They went 5-1 against Atlanta this year.

ALCS: Baltimore v. Oakland – This is like the Oakland-Detroit series, Baltimore went 4-3 against them this year, but Oakland’s crazy hot like the Cardinals were last year and I think they’ll make it to the Series.

WORLD SERIES – Oakland v. Cincinnati – Oakland’s being hot peters out here and the Reds will win it all in what should be a pretty good series.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

So, Justin, what’s been going on in your world?

Oh, nothing really.

Just that after the wedding my left eye started acting up and got scratched pretty bad. Not sure how it happened. Eye docs said I had some cornea swelling and that it made me more susceptible to the scratch.

I’d had my corneas replaced as a toddler as part of cataract surgery and I’d known for a few years that I’d have to have some more work done with them eventually. Basically eventually came, and the docs here recommended that we do a partial transplant where the layer that’s acting up would be replaced with another donor layer.

Anyway, I had the surgery (just a 20-minute procedure) on Monday and I’m slowly recovering, seeing a little better with the new one each day. I’m still struggling to read things clearly, but I’m seeing improvement each day and I think I’ll be good enough to get back to work in another week or so.

And then maybe I’ll blog a little more.

Or maybe not. Who knows.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

They see me trollin’ They hatin’

trollfaceArizona’s apparently managed to take care of all the pressing issues facing the state since a bill that basically bans trolling on teh interwebz is sitting on Jan Brewer’s desk.

Being obnoxious on the Internet may soon cease to be a fundamental right in Arizona, where lawmakers approved a measure that effectively makes trolling illegal.


Like so much other knee-jerk technology legislation, Arizona’s bill is noble at heart. Its goal is to stop cyber-bullying by outlawing threats and intimidation delivered via Internet.

But as Media Coalition–an organization that includes film and music industry trade groups–points out, the bill is far too broad, both in its language and its scope. By using vague terms like “annoy” and “offend,” the bill risks criminalizing standard Internet practice of acting like a jerk in the comments section of a blog post. Because the bill isn’t limited to one-on-one communication, all open communication on the Internet could be considered a Class 1 misdemeanor if someone deemed the language offensive.

Never mind the mess of a legal battle this will create (like Arizona needs more with SB 1070 and the state’s reluctance to actually implement the medical-marijuana referendum passed the same year), it’s just another instance of government trying to regulate something it doesn’t understand.

I’m sorry, but the internet is not just a series of tubes. And it’s time that they figure that out.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Things I’ve learned from this year’s NCAA tournament

Random Thoughts style:

  • Don’t look at your bracket the first weekend. It’s always going to look like garbage and a lost cause. It’s just a fact of life. It’s probably a good thing I was in Vegas getting married that first weekend, I didn’t have time to check it after Thursday
  • For two of the three years I’ve tried to, I’ve had a better bracket than Obama. Kansas’ win tonight locked that up for me.
  • I can put together a damn good bracket. Better than some of ESPN’s analysts, at least. And I probably don’t spend more than a half hour filling it out.
  • Yes, one of the regionals was in Phoenix. No, I didn’t go. I only went in 2008 (language alert) so I could say I’ve been to one. It was a blast, but the whole thing’s too expensive IMO.

I feel like I really should have more to say about March Madness, but I don’t. Maybe because I haven’t watched much. Oh well.

And remember, kiddos, baseball season starts this week! GO ASTROS AND DIAMONDBACKS!