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I do still exist

For those who are still reading (and I do see that a few are still here), I am posting a very, very short summary, like one of those very short introductions I despise. I will try to check in more often but I cannot make any guarantees.
I have been teaching Hebrew for four years in the online program at Anderson University. I put a lot of work into this! It is a low-enrollment program; but the Hebrew courses have stabilized and this year I will have four or five in Hebrew III. This is a huge breakthrough--there are never that many students in second-year Hebrew, on or offline. Perhaps hard work pays.
I enrolled in the D.Min. program in 2016 and this is my final year. For my final project, I am studying the factors that contribute to student success in the online Hebrew program. The students are giving extremely good feedback!
I am looking at options for further education--I would really like to pursue a Ph.D. after this. However, I am still adjuncting and I don't want to be an adjunct with $400,000 in student debt. This is a hard choice: I cannot advance without a Ph.D. but I can't Ph.D. without funding.
Kevin is well and we are happy. We were able to buy a house last year and it is the perfect house for us. I have been working braille transcription jobs on the side. The jobs are waning this year, though. We can meet our needs; but I will not have an extra source of income after this year.
I have put my application in for dog number 6 after four years of doglessness. I am waiting, waiting, waiting for news on a training date.
If anyone would like to keep up with me on FB and isn't already doing so, look up Sarah Blake LaRose.

about me and friending info

If you add me, please leave a comment so that I know who you are.

I started my journal in 2005 with the intent of blogging about life with disabilities and chronic illness. My hope was to increase awareness of accessibility issues, social concerns, etc. Over time, I made friends on LJ and began posting less public entries.

My journal has seen me through the completion of a Master of Divinity degree, ordination as a minister with the Church of God (Anderson, IN), and many other things. I have kept a journal offline for many years. Blogging online has been a fun way to meet people and share perspectives.

I have an eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity. I had a partially detached retina as a child, leaving me a small amount of usable vision. The damage to my retina led to other problems with my eye over my lifetime which have caused me to lose my vision, get treatment, regain my vision back, and repeat this process several times.

I have several other medical conditions as well: asthma, atypical migraine with vertigo, sensorineural hearing loss, and rheumatoid arthritis. When people look at me, they see a person who is blind, and that is what they perceive is hard for me. From one day to the next, my life may be challenged by any of these six things, or by none at all.

Welcome to my journey.

Tired of tests yet?

Just testing another ap. I think I don't like it, but it does update both blogger and Lj and seems less clunky than the other LJ app. So far the best blogging app I have found in terms of accessibility is the Wordpress app. Blah. Sadly, I do understand why people keep going to Dreamwidth.

Gotta go check on the pots of food on the stove.

Need help managing correspondence or spiffying up your school paper? Contact Sarah Blake LaRose for help: www.sarahjblake.com


I am testing the IPhone app to see how accessible it is. Supposedly you can do a cut but I think I have to get skilled at selecting a lot of text.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.


warning to LJ users

I just got an email saying appearing to be from Livejournal saying that someone sent me a message. Inside was a link appearing to be to YouTube to "watch the message." There was another link to "go to your inbox." If I didn't know better, I would think this was legitimate.

The tip off? This did not come to an email address associated with my LJ account.

Friends, LJ would not send you messages like this with links to YouTube. If your email notifications are enabled, the text of the message is always shown inside. Never click a link like that. In fact, it is best practice never to click go-to links from inside suspicious emails at all. I will click reply links from inside emails where my message is quoted and someone's comment is shown. Those always lead to http://3kitties.livejournal.com/blahblahblah (entry number and comment mess--the key here is 3kitties.livejournal.com). If the link takes me anywhere else, I should not put in my login info.

Just a friendly warning about a new type of phishing attempt that seems to be circulating using LJ identification info.

friends list housekeeping

I have done a cleanup of deleted journals. If you were accidentally removed and would like to stay, or if you have left in the past and would like to come back, please let me know and I will add you back.




The cat did it...

Somebody stole my keyboard.

See what happened when I was busy...

conference notes on independence

I am posting from Henryville, IN, where I am attending a conference called Candle in the Window. There are some 14 blind people here... The topic of the conference is different each year; and this year it is independence vs. interdependence. This morning we examined definitions, and this afternoon we are talking about family issues (parents, siblings, children, etc.) Tomorrow we will talk about marriage relationships.

This is an extremely nebulous topic, and I really wish I had more time to reflect. (This is why I am writing a post while I am sitting in the middle of a session.) Fortunately we are going around the room in a circle, so I can keep up with who is next, etc. I could probably write volumes on this subject. (And where is my money for self-publishing anyway??)

Someone asked this morning why we think that independence is such a buzz word for blind people. Answers included things like because our independence has been taken from us, because independence has been emphasized throughout our lives, because teens strive for their identity, and numerous other things. As I listened and participated in this discussion, it occurred to me that the answer really depends on the context. Independence can be defined differently depending on the discussion and its context. Are we talking about people who lost their sight? Kids who are learning how to function as adults? Girls learning to dress for success? Little kids learning to cross the street? Adults who need to maintain an identity as equals in the community? Independence means something different in these groups.

More notes in time...

footwashing and faith

Doing this as a public post... A friend and I had a discussion in her LJ that meandered onto the topic of footwashing, and I promised a post here about the two most meaningful footwashing experiences I've had. I should preface it by explaining that my church does recognize an annual footwashing event. It is optional; and because there is great variation among congregations over matters like men washing women's feet, it is handled in various ways depending on where one goes to church. I don't have any outstanding memories of attending these events during my childhood, though I do remember teachings on footwashing. The practice in general has never seemed strange to me. It has been something I associate as part of my faith tradition. I do, however, understand and respect why many people find it disturbing and have difficulty applying it meaningfully to their own faith.

Read more...Collapse )

A new (or at least modified) theology on footwashing...

notice to spammers and LJ abusers

Someone tried to friend me; and when I went to see their page it crashed my computer. I will be reporting it. I am really tired of comment spam and related issues on my LJ. So this is a public notice. If you use my LJ for such purposes, you will be reported and hopefully LJ will pay attention. LJ is a place that I have been using for nearly seven years. I started my journal as a public journal. I now use it in mixed form. I don't tolerate bullies.

disappointment with LJ

So LJ does not let me mark comments as spam when I delete them anymore. I am not happy with this at all since I have deleted several commentes plugging what looks like porn sites from my public posts lately. This is really souring me from blogging on LJ, at least with public posts. If anyone knows anything about this, I would appreciate a comment.

hilarious YouTube video

If you need a really good laugh... Listen to the loudest purring cat ever. This ranks right up there with the laughing quadruplets!

I've been getting more and more of the following kinds of comments on my public blog entries: "Keep on doing whatever it is that you do because it is something that such a person like me likes it." Or, "What a great resource." I am not even unscreening these--they're often on entries where I've shared pieces of my personal story. I do this for a reason, and at one time in my life it actually seemed to have a beneficial effect for people who read, as indicated in the comments. This is actually how I met many of my LJ friends--I am not active in many communities, and I link my other blogs to my web site. However, I do not post my blog entries in order to be spam breeding grounds, and I'm getting really tired of this stuff.

Now if this entry generates a "what a great resource" comment, I will be amused, though it might be appropriate since I'm going to reveal how I actually got work on a freelance site. I still won't unscreen that nonsense.

On to the topic du jour... I have been attempting to get work via Elance again. I swore it off last fall after getting my first job, which turned out to be someone who didn't want to work via the Elance system at all. What a mess! There were other issues with that particular job having to do with my personal situation, and I ended up feeling like I might spend my whole month attempting to get work and never land anything that would make it possible to even cover the cost of the membership.

I decided to give it another try, this time revising my strategy a bit. I updated my profile a bit; and I started paying attention to the already submitted profiles on jobs I wanted. I can't see the bid amounts; but I can see the bidders' locations and the first couple of sentences of their pitch. If I see that the bidders are all international, I might have a higher chance of getting the job, especially if the written English is poor and I am bidding on a writing or transcription job. I am also learning the art of writing the sales pitch that doesn't sould stupid. It really has to go at the top, and then I introduce myself; and that is a mistake that probably a lot of people are making. The jobs are going to companies who are starting their bids out by saying, "We do this, this, and this fast." So I started mine out by saying, "I know your field and will give you blah blah blah." I got the bid.

allergy relief product review

Stage 2 has begun in my allergy cleaning frenzy. I attacked the house with Allersearch ADMS Anti-Allergen Dust Mite Spray. This comes in a round 32-oz bottle with a sprayer. The sprayer is detached when it arrives; and I just unscrewed the cap, put the sprayer in, and screwed its top on. I have a lot of places to work on in terms of dust in this house, so this will be a long process. I am impressed with the initial work.

My top dust annoyances are my Yamaha keyboard and the top of my Juliet braille embosser. The keyboard usually takes a fair amount of work to get the dust out of, and I have to do this every few days. I applied some of this spray to a rag and went over the keys; and it was dust-free in one treatment. Likewise after treatment of the rest of the top of the keyboard. The embosser top took a little more work; but I have never been able to get the dust off the top of the case, and it is now dust-free. (I would not go near the electronic parts of the machine with this stuff, ever.)

It seems to be doing nicely on desktops and the mantle. What remains: windowsills. I will also give it a try on my mattress pad before putting on clean sheets. I have another product to try today: allergen-removing laundry detergent. I'll post about that separately--I haven't kicked the cats off the bed yet.

another update on the air purifier

This is another update on the Hamilton Beach 04383 True Air Allergen-Reducing Air Cleaner. I have now been running it for a week and have vacuumed twice. Normally, I track the need to vacuum by the severity of my asthma attacks and the amount of hair and cat litter on the floor. This brings me to the point of my update.

I have had only two asthma attacks this week. I did not feel the heavy, obstructed feeling in my airways that I normally feel. Instead, I felt a little tightness and shortness of breath. It was uncomfortable, and I was tired; but I didn't feel that I couldn't function. In the first case, it took 18 hours before I realized what was going on. The second time, I had a better idea what was going on, and instead of treating first, I ran the vacuum cleaner and put some de-allergy treatment on the dog. I will treat momentarily; but doing these things resulted in some relief. There was much less hair on the floor than there has been in the past and much, much less litter around the cat boxes.

the kitchen meme

1. What is your favorite kitchen tool?
I've never thought in terms of a favorite tool... I have a particular knife that I use because it is easy on my hands. I also have a veggie chopper from Pampered Chef, and it gets a fair amount of use. My favorite thing in the kitchen is probably my coffee press--I enjoy creating drinks for people.

2. What is your favorite spice, or blend of spices?
Garlic and onion, hands down, though I will pile other stuff on top. I have had to limit some spices that I used to love, and that truly breaks my heart--I used to eat a whole lot of basil and oregano.

3. Are you a "by the book" or an "Invent along the way" kind of cook?
Very much invent, though I am having to learn new ways of cooking so am going back to recipes in order to learn some basics so that I can start inventing again based on what I can eat.

4. Dishes-- do them as you go, or at the end?
It depends on the day and what I am making and how I'm feeling.

5. Why do you cook?
Any number of reasons. I love to cook for other people, but I don't get the opportunity much. Right now my cooking is very much about feeding myself, and it is depressing.

6. What is your favorite condiment?
Bbq sauce is probably the only one left that I can still eat, and this in extreme moderation. I used to love mustard and Worcestershire sauce; and my favorite thing was to make recipes that allowed me to mix them.

7. Do you cook sweet or savory things?
Both! And I love to do big meals that allow me to serve everything!

8. Which cuisine is your favorite to cook?
I really don't have a favorite. Most of my recipes are midwestern, down-home cooking; but I like to do different things. I grew up in Houston, so I like spice. Give me chili with beans! My niece loves my burritos; and I have a reasonably good home-made spaghetti. I would love to learn to cook Chinese at some point--if I could still eat any of it.

9. Electronic gadgets, or elbow grease?
Elbow grease. Electronic when I'm in too much pain.

10. Is your kitchen organized, or cluttered?
Mostly organized, though I have a very tiny kitchen.

air purifier update

This is an update on my adventures with the Hamilton Beach 04383 True Air Allergen-Reducing Air Cleaner. I cooked breakfast meat at too high a temp this morning and set off the smoke alarm. I have been moving the air purifier around from one room to another depending on what is going on--right now I'm using it to dissipate the haze in the kitchen from the breakfast meat cooking. The back bedroom is in great shape, and the bathroom is not doing too badly despite being in need of a little vacuuming. One thing I have noticed significant improvement in is the condition of the cat boxes. I have two self-cleaning cat boxes, and I check every day or two for clumps that have gotten stuck. The sticky gunk on the bottom of the box is gone and there is just litter there for the cats to use. This tells me that the machine is picking up the ammonia from the air and surfaces, so I can scrape the boxes for clumps that don't get automatically cleaned as needed but I doubt they will stick so badly. Over time, I expect quite an improvement in odor control. I will be purchasing another of these units to leave in the bathroom so I don't have to move this around.

I have not nebulized in two days. I am somewhat irritated after the breakfast meat cooking incident, and I should cook it on lower heat next time to avoid smoking up the house. But being generally able to breathe is very, very nice. Nebulizing would increase my general stability. I just needed a break from everything medical and am glad I could take one without hurting myself in the process. My sinuses are clearing, and that almost never happens--my airwys are probably too overloaded from one day to the next to allow for clearing.

Still happy.

Hamilton Beach air cleaner review

I am posting this as a public post in case someone needs the info; so a little back story is in order. I live with severe allergies to cat and dog dander, molds, pollens, dust and dust mites, etc. I have three cats and a dog guide and have so far managed my pet allergies with vigorous regular cleaning, de-allergy treatment of my animals, etc. However, I recently found myself wearing an allergen mask in my home because smoke from my neighbors' leaf-burning project was blowing into my house despite my windows being closed. I had been considering purchasing an air purifier; but that was when I made my final decision. Finding the right machine was going to be important for me--not only did it need to do its job well, but it also needed to be fully usable for a person who is blind.

I bought a little ionizer in 1996 and was fairly disappointed. It is still sitting in my closet, and I have not touched it in years. It has a filter that needs to be cleaned every so often--I cannot tell when the filter is clean or not clean because it is essentially a sponge filter. The machine has an off/on switch but the ionizer is controlled by a button that is just a toggle, and a light comes on to indicate whether the ionizer is running. It leaves a lot to be desired in terms of accessibility. It is also horribly loud--I couldn't tolerate it.

So I went into the project of buying a new machine with a lot of demands. I have cat boxes and a lot of pet dander in the house, so I wanted to see reviews by pet owners. I wanted to find something with accessible controls if possible. And I didn't want to be replacing filters all the time--I can't afford it.

Enter the Hamilton Beach 04383 True Air Allergen-Reducing Air Cleaner. From reading the info on Amazon and other review sites, it seemed that it might fit the bill for what I was looking for. I could spend a lot of money to get a machine big enough to do my whole house; but realistically it might be bettter to run little machines in each room since I can't afford a big machine and since I'm not really dealing with an area that is open-concept. So I started with one machine and thought I'd move it around between the two most-affected rooms and see how it does. Right now that means it is alternating between the leaf-smoke and cat box-affected back bedroom and the bathroom, which also has a cat box in it.

I ran it for a couple of hours in the bedroom last night and then moved it to the bathroom overnight. I slept well for the first night in weeks and woke up rested and ready to get up, no joint pain, no overwhelming depression, no hacking cough. I can actually feel air in my lungs. The bathroom doesn't smell like cat box or mold/mildew at all--I can deal with being in there without feeling like I need to open a window (which is the last thing I need since I'm allergic to everything out there). I had enough energy to vacuum the entire house instead of having to do it in phases. I will move the machine back in here and run it during the dday, and I think I'll get continued improvement over time.

The machine is not overpowering in terms of loudness. I am running it on high at the moment. It is like a fan on the mid setting--it sucks in air from the room, cleans it, then blows it back out, so some noise is unavoidable. On the low setting, I can tell it is on, but it doesn't bother me at all. I wouldn't run it if I was recording something that required absolute silence; but it doesn't generate any more noise than my Netbook fan.

The control is just a knob that clicks into place for each successive setting: off, low, medium, high. Getting the filter out is rather complicated--I really can't describe this well, and I had to do it in order to remove it from the plastic wrap it came in before use. Now that it is out, I think I can just vacuum-brush it for cleaning. We will see. The reviews say that this only needs to be done every few months. I'll know when the air stops getting filtered.

So far, I'm quite impressed.

the dog guide at home

When I talk to people about my dogs, they often assume that my dogs are by my side 24 hours a day. Since Loretta is currently rolling on the floor at the opposite end of the house, I suppose it is a good time to debunk this myth.

I have had dogs in the past who preferred to hang out near me when they were off duty. Loretta is not one of them. Perhaps this is because she feels secure and likes to amuse herself where there is lots of space (in the living room). On the other hand, perhaps she just needs a break from me. I sure need a break from being around the same person after so much time!

Loretta doesn't exactly make her work easy. She is extremely in tune with my emotions as well as my physical state. I have chronic pain and neurological conditions in addition to blindness; and these things affect the way that I travel. None of this tuning is a part of Loretta's training; but she chooses to set her pace according to her apparent opinion of my safety needs. She is always right. I imagine this makes her life a bit more stressful than it might be if she was simply guiding--she is thinking about more than just her guiding responsibilities.

She also engages in this tuning behavior at home. If I am talking on the phone and my voice gets animated for any reason, she will come and check me out to see if I am ok. If I am just excited, I give her a clear-to-play signal, or include her in the excitement, and she settles down. If I am painful or upset, she will stay with me until I settle down. I suspect this also increases her stress level, and she certainly deserves and needs her lounge time in the other room. And I am certainly all right without her.

Oh, and by the way, Loretta is also used to being tripped over... She doesn't exactly go out of her way to get up when I come through the area. This is a trait that all of my dogs have shared. I think they must be doing their best to convince the worle that either dog guides aren't really so fragile or else that blind people aren't exempt from having to get around whatever is in our way. People seem to make a habit of jumping in front of me to clear things out of my path that they're afraid I will trip over... I might trip over the person one day... Perhaps it would be a good idea to take a lesson from Loretta. I have quite a bit of experience getting around objects--and beings--that don't move out of my way.

conquering Facebook mobile

In the past few days, there has been great uproar among blind users of Facebook because all the links on the mobile site (which is the popular "accessible" site) seem to be functioning as "same-page links," meaning that when you click them they send you right back to the top of the main page. Screen reader manufacturers deny any responsibility for this problem. In this particular instance, they are correct. It is a browser problem. Fortunately, solving the browser problem (without upgrading to a new browser that still may have some issues with your screen reader) can make your screen reader and Facebook play nice again.

The following solution has a lot of steps but does not require going into the registry or any other administrative area of your computer. It is not screen reader-specific and should assist those of you using Internet Explorer who are experiencing the same-page links problem.

  1. 1. Press alt+t to go to tools.
  2. Select manage add-ons.
  3. Tab to find more toolbars and extentions link.
  4. Press space. The Internet Explorer add-ons gallery will open.
  5. In the search box, type user agent.
  6. Locate UAPick User-Agent Switcher--you can do this by looking for it in the headings if you navigate by headings. It will be a link at heading level. Press enter on this link.
  7. Below the add to Internet Explorer button is a link to the add-on homepage. Press enter on this--it goes to the most recent version. This is important, as this version includes a checkbox to reuse the UA string in new windows.
  8. Press enter on the link that says install UAPick. It will prompt you to save or run the file. I normally encourage people to save installers. In this case, choose run and follow the steps. When it finishes, restart Internet Explorer.
  9. Press alt+v to go to the view menu.
  10. In the toolbars submenu, make sure the command bar is checked. If so, press alt to leave the menu. If not, press enter to check it and leave the menu. (Pressing enter toggles the checked or unchecked state.)
  11. A "set uA string" option is now available in the tools menu. In this dialogue there is a combo box that provides several options. Among them is "IE mobile." This actually makes FB work. Select it and also check the box to use the UA string in new windows. This will allow you to open FB stories in new windows if you choose. Press ok--you will actually have to confirm the change by pressing ok twice.
  12. When you are done on FB, you should probably set UA string back to your IE version. Other pages may not work as intended on IE mobile.
  13. You will need to repeat the previous two options whenever you visit Facebook and then finish with it.

There is a similar add-on for Firefox. I have not installed it; but based on the results here, it should have a similar effect.

Voice Post

433K 2:37
“I'm back. The therapist. We're talked this evening. I need to clarify something. I don't know. Somebody reads the comments on my ___ but I'm going to explain one. Because it really do ___ explaining. I had a question ___ the accident. The question was what do you call 2 pieces of bread with meat in the middle. And I said the answer was sandwich. And I got a response saying the answer was slash burger. Now there's a back story there. Before I tell the back story of this slash burger. I need to explain why I added the question in the first place. I added the question because my mom actually knew someone at one point who called that thing sandwich. And I never heard that in my whole entire life. Because personal ___ particular area of the contour I wanna have this ___ because if you're listening to this and you said the word sandwich. You must comment. Anyway. The slash burger story. That person who preferred slash burger was referring to 2 pieces of bread with ground beef and tomato sauce. Alright tomato sauce paste ___. Everywhere that I have lived we call that floppy Joes(?). So Alexis otherwise kind of bring ___ 27 ___ went. We've been here for a couple of years and we have an ongoing argument about what that is supposed to be called. Because he said it was called slash burger. And actually we looked it up on Wikipedia. And we apparently have a number of names. ___”

Auto-Transcribed Voice Post

Voice Post: the accent challenge part 2

This post includes the answers to questins 9-12 from the last post as well as a question I added:

13. What do you call two pieces of bread with meat in the middle?

227K 1:23
“Ok still have some questions left. So this is part 2 of the quiz. No. 89 is what do you call no I'm on no. 9. What do you call your grandparents. Now that is complicated but I have 3 sets of grandparents. My mom has step parents so there's one set that I called grandma and grandpa. I had another set that I called granny and gramps and I have another set that I called granny and grandad. What do you call the wheel contraction in which you carry groceries at the store. Either a basket or a cart. What do you call it when rains fall while they sun is shining? Oh my God it's just raining while they sun is shining. What is it that you change TV channel with a remote. Ok that is all except for the question missing and just to make this amusing the question that's missing is what is the thing with 2 pieces of bread and meat in the middle? It's a sandwich. Ok that's all.”

Auto-Transcribed Voice Post

Voice Post: the accent challenge

Here are the questions that go with this voicepost. My answers are not included in the text--it's too hard to write this.

1. Your name and/or username:
2. Where you're from:
3. The following words: aunt, roof, route, wash, oil, theater, iron, salmon, caramel, fire, water, sure, data, ruin, crayon, toilet, New Orleans, pecan, both, again, probably, spitting image, Alabama, lawyer, coupon, mayonnaise, syrup, pajamas, caught, orange, coffee, direction, naturally, aluminum and herbs.
4. What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
5. What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
6. What do you call gym shoes?
7. What do you say to address a group of people?
8. What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
9. What do you call your grandparents?
10. What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
11. What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
12. What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

836K 5:08
(no transcription available)

Voice Post

689K 4:06
(no transcription available)

Star Trek blog

For those who like Star Trek, I am trying to revive my Star Trek blog. Getting my writing juices flowing is going to take a bit of effort... Reading back through the first entries, I like some of them and I think others are not bold enough. Ah well... I can save and re-use later. It's my own writing... Enjoy.

Which Star Trek character am I?

Your results:
You are Deanna Troi
Deanna Troi
Beverly Crusher
Leonard McCoy (Bones)
Geordi LaForge
An Expendable Character (Redshirt)
James T. Kirk (Captain)
Jean-Luc Picard
Mr. Scott
Will Riker
Mr. Sulu
You are a caring and loving individual.
You understand people's emotions and
you are able to comfort and counsel them.
Click here to take the "Which Star Trek character am I?" quiz...

Vitamin D update

It is the third day of megadose vitamin D. I am functional to a reasonable degree. I no longer feel like I am going to attack everyone for the least tiny infraction; and I only cried once--over something legitimate.

A few things are noteworthy. Last night I felt like listening to music for the first time in several weeks. I was awake and thinking but also a bit anxious, and I hoped the music would help settle me down. It did in some ways, but I only slept for two hours.

A friend offered me some workspace in his office to give me a change of scenery since I am not getting out much lately. I accepted; so my day looked like this.

  • Met with ordination mentor.
  • Went over to invade Marshall's office.
  • Worked on a language braille transcription project.
  • Did some beta testing for a software testing project.
  • Lunch with Marshall
  • Home and a small bit of housework.
  • More beta testing.
  • Did some JAWS training.
  • Talked with a couple of friends.

I had a mini meltdown in the evening; but it is worth noting that I had been doing a lot of brain-intensive stuff today and did not really rest much or eat well enough. It might make a difference. I will tread a little lighter tomorrow and make a fresh pot of soup and see if I can stack up a bit on nutrients to help the rest/recovery process along. This is not necessarily going to be fixed overnight, even though I am getting a lot of Vitamin D in my system.

improvements in sleep apnea machines

I got a present of sorts today. In 2001 I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and I started using a machine at night that helps keep my airways open when I sleep by blowing air into my nose all night. This is called continuous positive air pressure (CPAP). I have had the same machine since that time and it was serviced once in 2004. While kl1964 was here, his machine bit the dust and he got a new one. He was telling me the new machines are smaller, and I got jealous. He made a joke that if I just broke my machine I could have a new one.

A few weeks ago, my respiratory therapy company called and said that I was eligible for a new machine since it had been five years since I had gotten it. So today I got my new machine. It is quite different from the old one. I can't say that it is lighter, but it is more space-efficient and I can adjust the heat on the humidifier to my liking. I'll have my first nap with it tonight.

vitamin D and me

Both my rheumatologist and my internist's office called me today because my vitamin D level was low on last week's bloodwork. The rheumatologist's nurse said, "Your level is a bit low, so you should take a supplement." I finally dragged the info out of her after three tries of, "How low?" The fact that I had to work so hard to get factual information irritated me to no end. I didn't ask how much I should take. I didn't expect I would get any useful recommendations after that kind of interaction. I normally take 2,000 IU but have been off supplements for a few weeks. During that time I happened to experience a marked change in mood (depression, anxiety/panic/anger), and fatigue. That is a self-feeding cycle; and this week I filled the vitamin box to see what happens. I am doing somewhat better, at least getting things done and having less obsessive thought patterns.

The internist's office was a lot more forthcoming with info. The internist actually called in a prescription for vitamin D: 50,000 IU/day for one month. Wow! That is a lot of vitamin D! I thought the receptionist was reading it incorrectly and perhaps meant 5,000 IU. When I checked with the pharmacist, he said that it really is 50,000. Perhaps I do not really know what it is like to feel well... I did tell someone the other day that depression has pretty much been a norm in my life for a long time. That is a very sad thing to have said. Much of it is situational; but there are also studies linking vitamin D deficiency and mental health problems as well as asthma, autoimmune disorders, chronic fatigue, and diabetes. I could comment on this at some length, but I don't quite have the energy or presence of mind right now. At some point I will come back to it. For now I will just say that I am somewhat torn between skepticism and intrigue. I will be interested to see how I feel in a few weeks.

Urban Rebounder

Over the last 18 months or so, I lost 40 pounds and then stalled. I have maintained that weight loss for the last six months. I've wanted a treadmill for a long time, but they are quite out of my price range. So my parents got me this for Christmas: a nice way to do low impact workouts. It is a little portable trampoline with a stabilizing bar. I can do various types of exercise on it; and I can either use the bar or not depending on my needs. It is a perfect solution, especially with me having vertigo episodes. I am quite looking forward to this! We will see how I do with getting past my weight loss plateau now.

Voice Post

555K 3:17
(no transcription available)

a trip to remember

Click to read about my adventure on Monday.Collapse )

A fascinating day, for different reasons than my previous tour... This kind of day makes me realize anew what an amazing time and place I have grown up in and how I need to find a way to document it... I have witnessed so much change in the resources and technology available to people who are blind... Things considered basic necessities now were not even dreamed up when I was a child--even in some cases when I was old enough to think critically about my life and about what blindness meant and how it impacted me. I can remember how things used to be hard and why they are not now... Part of the reason these tours fascinate me so much is that I begin to understand that things that have been part of my life are taking their place in history--not because they are old but because life is becoming so incredibly fast-moving that history is being redefined. It used to be the case that "history" was 50 years old. I suspect that this definition may not be so appropriate anymore. At least, it can't be for me. History is something I must be in dialogue with, something that still lives, just as my own past still lives...

dual core Netbook!

If you use a Netbook and have been thinking of upgrading it, or if you think they're so cute but don't know that they would really do all the things you want to do on your laptop, it is finally here: the dual core Netbook. This is the upgrade to the Netbook I am using, which is a model of the Asus 1005Ha. This one is the ASUS Eee PC 1015PEM-PU17. It has the new dual core Atom N550 processor and 1GB of DDR3 memory. This is important. The former models had DDR2 memory, which is slower. Like other models of the Asus Netbooks, the memory can be swapped out for 2GB of DDR3. There is a link on the Amazon page to purchase them together along with a case. I have not seen this particular case--I have a different one and like it quite a bit. I won't be buying a new one. This machine comes with Windows 7 and a 250GB hard drive. It promises to be fun times!

In case it isn't too obvious, I'll be upgrading my computer in the next couple of weeks. I'll also be upgrading my scanning/OCR software. Excitement abounds!

What I did last week:

  • one doctor's appointment
  • Xolair injection
  • two chiropractic appointments
  • one meeting with former professor
  • one dinner with friend
  • worship team practice
  • finished theological statements
  • laundry
  • took cats for claw clips
  • trip to Fry's and dinner with mom
  • visited friend with quadruplet babies whom I had not yet seen
  • </li>church yesterday</li>

      I missed church the previous Sunday and two appointments. Considering I was battling a severe reaction to a food allergy, I choose to let these missed appointments go. I wrote these out not to demonstrate my accomplishments or beat myself up. Instead, I wrote them out to illustrate a point.

      I wrote in my last entry about having difficulty with such a chaotic schedule. One of the most difficult aspects of this chaos is that even though these appointments were mostly scheduled, I had to weave in time for things at home that needed to be done (e.g. theological statements and laundry). It was relatively easy for me to check the schedule when necessary and see that yes, I had an opening for dinner with Jenny on Wednesday evening. However, it is difficult to start and stop things so many times instead of working with long blocks of time.

      It is also difficult to move from a week like this back into a week when I have fewer things scheduled and I can create my own schedule. This week, for example, I have chiropractor this afternoon, dinner with a friend this evening, tutoring for some Greek students tomorrow evening, and three back-to-back appointments on Wednesday. This is a somewhat easier schedule to work with since I have longer blocks of time free. The challenge is to shift gears from thinking of little things that I can start and drop, as I was doing last week, and move back into a focused type of work in which I am sticking with a single project for longer periods of time... I am sure that I juggled this to some degree in seminary; but the addition of chiropractic treatment to my schedule adds a new layer to it. It is worth doing but is very much a challenge to manage my schedule as well as my mind.

      To do this week: much laundry, bulk cooking, scan some books, misc housework things, some computer maintenance...

thoughts on my jumbled week

I had medical appointments five times this week. Since they were spread between three mornings and two afternoons, my days were all broken up. I also went out to dinner once and had a couple of other things to take care of. During the off time, I worked on writing my theological statements for my ordination and licensing committee.

This doesn't seem like much to do in the grand scheme of things; but I am surprised at how tired I have been. For one thing, I have not generally been sleeping well. For another thing, handling all these appointments required me to juggle a mass of information that is not regular. I don't have these appointments every week. Remembering what appointment went where and which doctor's office was in which building and in which suite number was very difficult for me. I should work on mastering the art of accessing information in my phone quickly so that I can use it as an information access tool--I did choose it because of its PDA capabilities. This, however, will take time, which means I need to be free of obligations that require me to write or run around for a few days--and I need to not be tired from said obligations.

I did much better when I was in seminary, even though my time was much more occupied and I was less rested. I think that simply having a more dependable way to organize things on a regular basis was helpful in maintaining my energy level. So either I need more structure, which seems doubtful, or I need a better organization system for the jumble of things going on. This should make an interesting thing to continue documenting.

this and that

The weather here is odd. My weather outlook predicted 90s today, but it has been much cooler. This has been good for me. I only have window units; and the electric wiring in my house is done very poorly. One entire side of my house (the side with the AC units on it) is all on one circuit; so the circuit is broken often on very hot days. I have spent the hottest days of the summer just running fans in order to keep from breaking the circuit. That means I'm very fatigued much of the time and don't get much done that needs to be cone. Today I am finally catching up on some work around the house--and some rest.

Greek is officially over, though I am still working with a couple of students who fell behind. I am getting my mind set for whatever the next new thing is. I don't know exactly what that will be yet. We shall see...

Since I do a lot of work with audio, I use external hard drives as storage solutions. I have a 500GB My Passport drive from Western Digital that has served me well for about 18 months. I don't use the back-up and sync software on it--I'm not certain that it is accessible, and if I'm going to use such software, I would like to choose my own solution.

I am not alone in my preference. When Western Digital released its new 500GB and larger drives, they began including automatic back-up software which could not be removed. Users complained; so they next release a removal tool. This still did not satisfy users (and the tool was not accessible to users with disabilities).

WD has finally released drives without any software included. If you use large external hard drives, the release of the Western Digital Elements SE 1TB USB 2.0 Portable External Hard Drive will be a piece of great news to you. It contains no bloatware, which means you pick your own back-up solution or use it as a storage solution without back-up software. There is a 500GB option drive, also without bloatware.

Elements drives appear to be similar in size to the Passport drives; and they are getting great reviews. Passport reviews, sadly, have dropped tremendously since the addition of the automatic back-up software which requires removal using WD's proprietary tool. I shall post soon, when I have the new drive in my hands--I have been in desperate need, and this news has been what I have been waiting for.

Hiss 'n Spit updates

With Dad's help, Sable's Hiss 'n Spit blog has a new layout--Blogger doesn't really give much usable info about how its templates are laid out. There is also a new post up--it is quite obvious that Sable does a lot of thinking about food.

for your amusement

Because I needed to exercise my creativity and amuse myself...

Sable has her own blog. Enjoy. It will be a fun place to creatively vent stress.

captcha smaptcha

Tried setting up an account on www.odesk.com which is a freelance site. I can't file a feedback request there either due to captcha. I am not switching browsers, and I am tired of running into job sites with inaccessible captchas. I am not surprised by this on little mom and pop stores, but sites that run big freelance networks need to get with the program. I shouldn't have to go through all kinds of hoops just to fill in one form field. We may as well not even have section 508.

I am getting really tired of this as it is keeping me from finding contract jobs I could do.

GPS demo

I have been installing and configuring a product on my cell phone called Mobile Geo which works with a screen reader to provide GPS access for people who are blind. My first task was to install 12 GB of US map data onto my storage card; and then I set about learning the very basic steps in virtually exploring the neighborhood. This means I can "wander the streets" without ever leaving home. This will come in handy when I am in new areas and want to see how the neighborhood is laid out.

I took a walk this morning to see how it works in realtime. I understand now why people with dog guides are often cautioned that use of GPS can interfere with working their dogs. I also understand that there are ways in which it can help. I needed to have my mind on numerous things at one time: what my dog was doing, what the device was telling me, what the traffic was doing, other environmental sounds, and my own thoughts. This is not always easy; and not everyone can do it. There are times when I need to put the device away, times when I need to stop walking and think, etc. A police car came down the road and the siren distracted me badly, and Loretta started to get jumpy. I stopped, had her sit, and waited till it passed by. I was able to continue after that. This kind of thing often disorients me badly.

Mobile Geo gave me information about points of interest that I passed and which side of the street they were on. If I walked down X street after getting off Z street and approached Y intersection, it said, "X street, so many feet, 12 o'clock Y street 6 o'clock Z street." If I turned down Y street, it said, "Y street, heading whatever direction (e.g. west)." This will be very helpful if I veer and need to recover. It also gave me information about the direction of streets at intersections when I pulled up detailed information.

I am just beginning to learn about the capabilities of this software. I walked down to the drugstore and home. My home destination did not identify correctly, so I'll have to work on that. The drugstore was identified accurately when I was walking across the driveway. Some false points of interest were also identified along the way. This indicates that GPS software is not entirely reliable. However, having access to a good bit of information about my surroundings increased my general feeling of alertness and safety. It amazes me that blind people are supposed to travel confidently, reject assistance, etc, without such information.

Right click and save to listen to a sample recording from the walk.

This is a public post. I will be screening all comments on public posts both to avoid spam and to ensure that content from locked posts does not bleed into public entries via comments. Nobody would mean to do this, but since I have posted so many locked entries related to my health I ask the indulgence of my regular readers. It is not personal.

When I was in seminary, I did a lot of reading that spurred some potentially profound reflections; but I had very little time to expand on them. Since graduating, I have had the intention of doing just that; but various things have gotten in the way.

What got in the way?Collapse )

I have slipped into a fairly bad depression regarding my lack of employment or steady freelance work. Rationally, I know that I have skills which would enable me to work and generate income; but I feel emotionally paralyzed the longer I go without earned income. Living with such excruciating pain does not help my state of mind; and lately I have begun to wonder about the link between high levels of pain and mood-altering neurotransmitters in the brain. I have undergone many years of intensive psychotherapy in order to build skills to cope with ongoing stress associated with chronic illness and chronic unemployment. This is the reason I am able to think rationally about my options while I am also aware of the deep depression. I have been able to spring-clean my house in preparation for a guest with allergies to cats and to maintain a general state of affairs since getting finished with that task in spite of the depression; but I am having difficulty pushing myself to do anything about income-generating possibilities...

Perhaps I am missing a step... In my rambling thoughts somewhere in my internship journal, or perhaps in one of my ordination reflections, I talked about the need for a someone to write extensively about faith and illness/disability from the perspective of having lived with it. I have read various books about theology and disability. In the most recent one, the point was made that no one has written from the point of view of a theologian and a person with a disability. This is a vital piece missing from disability theology; and I am very aware of it and very keen to fill it. I am also a teacher; and I think that it is important for a person with disabilities to write about disabilities and biblical studies. It matters not just for the disability community but also for the church because they learn from our perspectives and they are so often drawn to the healing narratives as sources of encouragement. I need to let my life interact with these texts, let my vulnerability be part of what I do... It is hard to do this when I am in pain; but that is something I cannot do when I am well and working as if I am not really very disabled. I can't let the depression take hold of me and control me, though it matters that I acknowledge it is there.

I have no idea what will happen regarding my employment possibilities, freelance work opportunities, etc. I really hope something turns around soon. Chronic pain is not going to change. It is something I have learned to live with. I made it through seminary as a full-time student; and there is no reason why I should not be able to rise to the challenge and work, barring any more six-month headaches. In the meantime, I must rise to the challenge and do disability theology. I think that there are people who need this; and I think that for now this is what God has given to me to do.

just need to say it

Just need to say that getting off Prednisone is both wonderful and horrible. If one thing happens that upsets my emotions too badly, I can work to handle it. But two or three in rapid succession ... and my body goes into all kinds of meltdown: I get the shakes, upset stomach, crying/hyperventilating, etc. I am working on learning to manage this, but it is going to take some serious hard work, and the things that send me over the edge would probably seem very silly to most people.

thoughts about Amazon.com reviews

amyb0223 turned me on to a couple of products recently, just to feed my coffee addiction without breaking my bank: the AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker and Aerolatte To Go, Milk Frother, Black. Some of the reviews are extremely well-written and helpful. On the other hand, some of them are ridiculous. If you don't take care of your product or you use it in a way it is not intended to be used, and then it breaks or doesn't hold up well, it isn't because the product isn't made well and you shouldn't grade it down because of your own carelessness or misuse. Likewise, don't downgrade a $20 product because it doesn't hold up like a $200 product. Know what you are buying! You paid $20 for the thing! Treat it with care and it will last a long time. Throw it around and it will fall apart--like any $20 appliance will. That is also not the company's fault. If you want something you can drop 50 times or leave lying around and expect durability, pay extra!

End of rant about Amazon reviews. I could talk about the need to read reviews critically, but I won't... kl1964 bought me the coffee maker as an early birthday gift. I might buy the milk frother so we can experiment with making lattes while he's here. I have no expectations about this thing--I drink drip coffee most of the time and might get a latte from Starbucks or Panera a couple of times a month. It will be a fun adventure to see what I can create. If it ends up tasting anything like a real latte, I will be very surprised, but I don't really expect to create anything that good. The fun part will be the fact that it is my own creation.

Podcast showing off my new toy

Right click and listen listen if you dare!

I've been working on this for a few days. It is a podcast showing off my new toy, the latest incarnation of the Olympus digital voice recorder. I tried it out in church this morning and am quite pleased!

Buy one below:

Olympus Digital Voice Recorder DM-520

exciting news

In my church choir we are doing a very hard piece by Randall Thompson called "Alleluia". The only word in the piece is, as you can guess, "alleluia." It is impossible for me to figure out how to learn it and where to come in when we start in the middle of the song in rehearsal--I have no measure numbers to work from because I don't have a piece of music to read from. It is useless to write out, "alleluia" over and over to read from...

One of my deepest frustrations is that I am a braille music reader and have no braille music... This means I am never able to truly contribute fully.

I found "Alleluia" on the National Library Service's braille music download site! This means I can emboss it and take it with me to next week's rehearsal. And I will be able to stumble through it just like everyone else! The director sent a link to a recording of the piece on YouTube, so I'll be able to practice with it in the meantime. For lack of a better word .. "Alleluia!"

interesting link

The cats insisted that I post this link about cats and libraries for catlovers and bookworms. A good distraction...

comments on being defriended

I sometimes get into discussions online in which I disagree with people. I have a fairly direct style of communication; but it doesn't mean that I don't care. If I feel that I am being manipulated, I will say so. I don't have time to do a lot of circular dialogue. However, if someone is in deep distress and needs time spent, I will make time if I can at all do so.

The fact that I post something with a strong opinion does not mean that I am being "nasty." These kinds of accusations are very hurtful to me, as they are attacks on my personal motivations. If you choose to defriend me over something you don't like, that is fine; but please do not accuse me of nastiness to the rest of your friends behind my back. If something I say upsets you, either simply remove me quietly or take it up with me personally. Please do not further wound me in the process of defriending me.

I welcome people back at any time. I do not enjoy disquiet in relationships.


Sarah Blake LaRose
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June 2018

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