Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2015 12 29 Gearing Up and Winding Down December 29, 2015

And here we are, gearing up for New Years, or are we winding down from Christmas? Six of one, and here’s your half dozen.

Looking back, I find that the year that was 2015 was a blinding blur. So much went on as we spun around the sun that it’s hard to believe we could stuff it all inside 365 glorious days on this big blue spinning marble we call home.

And here we are, T-Minus three days and counting. Or is it just two?

I haven’t written as much this past year or so, and I’m blaming it on too much school work. Actually though, I’m pretty sure that isn’t the whole reason. I lack a lot of ambition that I had a couple years ago. I know it’s probably due to my health, but that just seems like I’m making up an excuse for my laziness. I have been writing quite a bit for school assignments, but compared to a few years ago, I’m not writing anywhere near what I was. I have though been picking up my guitars more as of late, and even played a little personal rendition of a Christmas song at our last Sunday night’s writers meeting back on the 20th of December. I was a little nervous, but strummed my way through it. I even sang like only a goat can. I did up a version of Silent Night for the other members of my writer’s group, and actually had a good time doing it. I’d put it on YouTube, but I’m afraid with so many views, it might completely crash the internet

Hahahaha! grin.

I’m still listening to mp3 Christmas movies on my iTouch, and will until New Years day. It’s become a yearly ritual for me, and when you add in a few holiday music albums into the mix, how can a goat go wrong? I actually listened to quite a few movies this season without description. No narrator telling you what’s going on. Just your good old imagination filling in the empty slots of movie stuff. I find that if I’m able to get into the movie after five minutes, I’ll stay with it, even though it isn’t described. The first movie I ever listened to with description on my iTouch was War Horse back in spring 2014. I became instantly addicted to the format and fell back in love with movies. It’s fair to say that I painstakingly fell away from watching movies after 2010, except for a few that I watched with my wife.

By the way, she is a fabulous movie narrator, but with the excessive pausing and playing with the remote control, she could burn through a fresh pair of AA batteries in a couple weeks.

I think she misses not describing movies and other shows to me, but although I hate to say it, having a scripted movie narrator tell you what’s going on is a huge difference.

One thing I really seem to enjoy is being able to listen to a described movie that I previously watched back when my eyes worked. It’s actually almost like watching the movie for the first time, especially when it’s narrated by someone from Great Britain. They use so many different terms for describing things that it’s rather enjoyable to the point of being almost like a learning experience from across the pond.

And here we are again, this 29th day of December, 2015. Where on earth did the time go? How do the days move around us so fast? Didn’t the geese just come back north a few weeks ago, or was that those same gooses I just heard heading their tail feathers back south? I’m sure they got it right, no matter what we think, right?

As we head towards 2016, I’m reminded that I’m just about ¼ the way towards my associate’s degree, which means that I’m closing in on a 2032 graduation date. Give or take a decade or two. Grin
It’s a good thing I’m in no hurry. I’ll try to beat my grandson, as he makes his way towards his high school diploma.

He’s turning 10 this April.

I better get my goat hooves moving, ay?

I hope you all had a marvelous Christmas and that the spirit of the season flickered its flame deep within your hearts. I’d also like to wish you all the best as we slide on into 2016. May this New Year give you every opportunity to grab hold of something good, whether it’s something you work towards, or an amazing surprise that just happens to fall into your lap. With a little effort, it usually works out, and with a lot of effort, there’s just no telling what can happen.

Thanks for stopping by my blog this past year. I appreciate all your comments and look forward to piling on even more goaticious tales of Surviving.

Take care and God bless you all.

dp

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2015 11 21 No Matter Where You Go November 21, 2015

No matter where you go, there you are, so pay attention, ok?

I always have loved that saying. It’s true, you know? Wherever you go, there’s a pretty good chance that you just arrived there too. Grin

With all the things swirling around us, piling up at our feet or tugging on our shirt sleeve, chances are that they’re surrounded by life, in its simplest form, in all its amazing glory, in every obscure shape and size imaginable. There it is, in your face, and don’t look now, but it’s happening 24 / 7, without you ever having to ask for it, expect it or understand it.

It’s alright if you are one of those folks who don’t understand it, because I’m one of them too. I’m kind of used to it, which doesn’t mean I like not understanding, but more importantly it announces my ability to recognize my own areas of insufficient knowledge.

Boy, that takes up a lot of room. Area I mean.

I just read a couple chapters from one of my college text books, and within those sixty or so pages, I was amazed just how much I didn’t know about the subject, which was music. I was amazed that after living my whole life, listening to music throughout, so much information could just escape my wandering mind. I mean, its music for God’s sake! Music! One of my most cherished things on the planet!

Out of the classes I’m taking this semester, I’m having a harder time with this music class. I know, I know, right? You’d think that with all the music I’ve listened to over the course of my lifetime, I’d have a better understanding of it all. I suppose that even though those tingles I get up my spine when a song plays that I really like, I’d be able to remember and know more about it.

And, I don’t, so there.

No matter where I go, there I am, but that doesn’t mean I’m always paying attention. It doesn’t mean any of us are really paying attention. Not that we shouldn’t or anything, but with so much time and so much information about so many things to take in and retain, how on earth could we?

55 year old uninformed goat coming atcha, like it or not. That’s what I feel like sometimes. Uninformed. Not misinformed, although I can be easily persuaded some days.

What the hell am I writing about now? Do I even know? Did I veer away from some atmospheric script or something? Should I know what’s around the next corner? Am I supposed to try and teach someone something right about now? Did I just learn a lesson? Did you? Have you already stopped reading this post? Can you even read?

I didn’t know where this writing would take me when I started it, and I still don’t. Hopefully when I reach the end, I’ll be aware of it and stop writing.

I was talking to my college technology accessibility tutor at school a couple days ago, and when I told him that I had posted three hundred or so entries on my blog, he told me that I should have them grouped into a book and published. I thought about it for a few moments, but realized that it would be like Captain Kangaroo having a dump truck full of ping pong balls dumped onto his head. Little white balls of hither and thither, bouncing to and fro, with no direction in mind, just a reactionary moment among friends who don’t have a clue where they’re going either.

Hey, wait a minute.

So, it’s like, umm, no matter where they go, there they are, right?

 

2015 09 13 Accessibility, And Then Some September 13, 2015

Accessibility, and Then Some

I love digital technology. Always have, always will. Probably the first taste of it I can remember is sitting in the bowling alley with my little brother Scott, playing a duck shooting game that completely hypnotized me. You see, you could sit all the way across the bowling alley with a gun controller in your hand, point at a screen on the other side of the alley, and point and shoot the little plastic gun to nail those little duckies flying across the screen. Digital technology at its finest.

This was around 1972 or so, and from there, the innovations came charging at us with a fervor that has never looked back.

From television, to cruise control, cell phones, video games, refrigerators, washers, dryers, baby monitors, pool pumps, LED lighting, hospital monitoring equipment, wheelchairs, Bluetooth headphones, answering machines, and so on and on and on, the new gadgets just keep coming and coming, right? It seems as soon as you purchase that new computer, or smart television, then get it home and out of the box, there’s a newer version waiting to take its place. Cheaper, better, faster, stronger, smarter and so on it goes. Gotta have it, have always needed it, been waiting for it, just bought it, waiting for them to deliver it, wondering why I bought it. I’ve been there. Read the book, saw the movie and bought the t-shirt.

Did I say I love digital technology? Did I ever tell you that I couldn’t have picked a better time to lose my vision? Do you know that the advancements in assistive technology these past five years has totally amazed me? It’s true, you know?

I am blessed beyond belief at the incredible stuff that’s available to lend help to those who can’t see, and it’s only getting started. Now, don’t get me wrong. Assistive technology isn’t always a bowl full of chocolate ice cream, peanut butter cups and hot fudge. Oh no sir it surely isn’t. Assistive technology can give you a helping hand, but it can sometimes smack you upside the head, rending you completely flustered and totally annoyed. I’ve tasted both sides of the story, and I much prefer the tasty chocolate side myself, but there’s no avoiding the unpopular other side, as I have found out this past week.

I am finished with week one of my fall semester at community college. I am taking two online courses, which means that I am totally relying on digital technology to be able to get at and do my course work. I have been up against it from the get go, and have learned probably more in one week than any other week since I saw the color purple for the last time. I love the challenge, but this kind of challenge can quickly let the air out of your balloon. Good thing I have my handy dandy personal life support pump only a few feet away in the form of Mrs. Dunster’s chocolate sugared donuts in the fridge.

Thank you and may I have another please?

I came, I saw, figuratively speaking, I dove in, I jumped out, I ran to the help desk, I asked for help, I received an amazing array of assistance, I ran back to the pool, I jumped back in head first, I jumped back out and shook off, I stepped back and thought for a moment, I again asked for help, I figured and pondered and worried and growled and scratched my head and then I dove back in.

Week one is finished and as the dust settles down I can dig my heels in and ready myself for week 2.

Do goats really growl?

 

2015 07 20 One Down, Fifty Something To Go July 20, 2015

Well I did it. One down and fifty something to go.

A couple days ago I finished up with my first online class at KVCC, and I’m here to tell you that although Blackboard was a nightmare, I did it. Grin

Back last April and early May, I was having fits. I never thought I would be able to figure out the Blackboard program. It just seemed so cumbersome to learn, and as the weeks winded down towards the first day of class, things started falling into place. A lot of hard work and determination ended up making the difference. My wife giving me rides to campus for some pre course tutoring didn’t hurt either. She never gets enough credit for how she has helped me these past few years, and hopefully if I can pull my head out of my butt for a while, I can appropriately show her my appreciation.

Well, there I was this past May, heading into week one of the course which was Sociology 101. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I felt as prepared as I could. The work load wasn’t that bad, some reading, some writing, some more reading and writing, and voila! Course complete!

I only had a couple incidents of incorrect posts and disappearing assignments, but the work load wasn’t as overwhelming as I had first anticipated. There was a ton of writing, but me and writing seem to get along fairly well. I sit down, I start to type and before I know it, three or four pages are staring back at me. Piece of cake. Piece of crumb cake.

So here I am, taking a break for a week or two, and then it’s time to gear up and head towards two more online classes for this fall. I already have one of my text books ready to go on my Learning Ally ap, but I have to get some help for the second book, which is available on a different platform that I’ve never used before. One more thing to learn.

I’m going to be taking English 101 and, get this, The History of Rock and Roll. Yup. You heard it right. As much as I love music, this is one class that feels like it fell down from the musical part of the heavens. Makes me wonder if all of heaven is under the influence of music. I suppose it depends on the person, right?

I’d like to thank my tutor and mentor at the college. His name is Nick, and he really has made the difference with being able to learn and work through some difficult items, like the Blackboard.

Thanks Nick.

Oh ya, I’ve been asked to be part of a mentor program for first year students this fall. I was humbled beyond belief when I was asked, and with much honor, I accepted the position. I’m not sure how much mentoring I’ll be able to do, but if I can pass along a little piece of what has been given to me then I’ll be one extremely humbled and happy goat.

I hope your summers are going well. The muggy weather is here for a couple days, but overall it hasn’t been that bad.

Thanks for stopping by, and please take care, or else!

dp

 

2014 12 18 Week 17 – A Big, Beautiful Blur December 18, 2014

Week 17: A Big, Beautiful Blur

Excuse me? Have you seen my fall semester? I was sure I set it down right over, umm, hmm, that’s weird. I know it was right over here just a little bit ago.

Could it be? Is it possible? Perhaps the fall semester is over and done with? Perhaps it came, it became and it went riding off into my past? Perhaps I typed that last phrase in my last post?

To tell you the truth, I don’t think I have ever had four months go by so fast in my life, let alone the whole year. It’s like, here you go, and there it was, gone. I remember hitting the mid term and thinking that I couldn’t believe how fast the first half of the semester seemed to have chugged right by. Now? Well, let’s just say I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how time can speed by so fast.

The semester is finished. The final tests and papers have been turned in. The laptop bag is slung over the chair until a few weeks into the New Year. The time is at hand to take a look back, and reflect. So much has happened these past four months. So many things have spun me around sideways as they came hurdling by. So many times during the past few months I have had to step back and keep telling myself that indeed, I was in college.

Overall, it was an incredible learning opportunity for me. At the onset, I tried to get in touch with as many people at the college as I could. I needed so much information, and I also needed reassurances that I had all the bases covered, leaving nothing behind that I would wind up needing later on. The accessibility challenges were hard, the work was even harder, and the ability to look past my own inhibitions proved to be the biggest achievement of all.

I remember a month or so into the semester, as I worked on a 3 section homework assignment in Tech Math. I sat and listened to my audio version of the text book, and the gentleman reading the problems to me, and then I remember asking myself why I would think I could do all this work. I asked myself how I was ever going to finish all of this incredibly, long, hard, demanding work. I looked down, shook my head, chuckled to myself, then started in on the next exercise. I think I worked on Math about six or seven hours that afternoon and into the evening, and as I finished the last problem, a sense of accomplishment swept through me that seemed to chase all the doubt away. Each time, during the semester when I ran up against the odds, I found myself continuously putting my head down and moving forward, and with each time, there seemed to be a calming, quiet tone inside that kept telling me that everything would work itself out if I just keep trying. And try I did. There were a few moments of second guessing, but determination reigned supreme, and coupled with the amount of assistance I received from the school, well, one semester down, and a few more to go.

My mobility with the campus only caused me a few embarrassing moments, like over shooting the main entrance at the Hinckley Campus, or not being able to find the door to my math class, or walking straight across the hallway without knowing it and entering the book store. There were ups and downs and ins and outs, but all of them added together equaled a semester full of first time experiences.

I know I’ve said this a few times, but it really is true that I owe so many, so much. None of it though would have been possible without one ingredient. Me! I have accomplished something that will be with me until my time here is done, and then probably even longer.

I’ll end this post by thanking all those who had a hand in helping me in my college quest. It has been a most remarkable experience, and I owe so much of it to you all.

May you have a wonderful and Merry Christmas, and here’s hoping the New Year brings you a year’s worth of magical memories that last you until 2016.

Be well all, and I’ll see you next semester.

dp

 

2014 12 09 Sweet Sixteen December 9, 2014

Sweet Sixteen

Some might think it’s just another week on the calendar. Some might not notice the significance of what this past week meant to some others. Some people just considered it the first week of December, and the start of the holiday season. For me, this past week took on a whole new meaning that I have never experienced before. It represented a path in my life that I never thought could ever exist. It represented sixteen weeks of testing me in a totally different way. It represented a reachable goal, a surmountable task and a purpose I began to understand. It defined the willingness to lay it all out there in the wide open, and coming away with an unbelievable prize that I still haven’t fully understood.

This past week marked the sixteenth week of my first semester of college. As the others before, it came, it became, and it went strolling into my past, leaving behind a plethora of memories and lessons that until this year, never ventured across my path, or should I say, I never noticed them venturing across my path.

‘Tis the season! “Tis the time to revel in the magic. “Tis the moments that make up this day, today, right now and there you have it.

When I walked through the double doors of Lunder last August, I sensed something in the air. It was all new, and strange, and different, and to say it was exciting is putting it mildly. I was entering the halls of college with a wide open mind, and a wide open heart. I was scared, unsure, anxious and full of doubt. What I was met with can only be described as a gift, for you see, what I encountered through these sixteen weeks can only be measured by my own achievements. I was handed something extraordinary, and through my own efforts I was able to make something of the opportunity. And what an opportunity it has become.

I have tried, through these sixteen weeks, to show my gratitude to those at KVCC, and to tell you the truth, I have run out of appropriate vocabulary to fully depict my appreciation. I have written time and time again how gracious my welcome was. I have written how the obstacles that being blind presents. I have written how the inspiration that I have felt has propelled me into and through a world of an unimaginable quest.

I have written about our incredible ability to absorb, adapt and advance. I have written how by placing one foot in front of the other can take you on a journey of the mind, body and soul. I have written how the gift of inspiration is something that never dies, and with it, our own ability to inspire others is born from within. I have written, I have experienced, and I have grown. Through it all, the reading, the writing, the mobility lessons, the anxiety and smiles and hand shakes, I have emerged with a knowledge that never existed before. I have learned so much, about so much, but I have learned even more about myself and what I’m capable of. The mind grows foggy and lazy through time if you don’t use it to its potential. It did take me a few days to recalibrate and oil the gears, but once the pistons started firing, what a ride I have had.

I’m half way through week seventeen, which is the final week. I have one more test to take, and one more report to submit. I have come a long way since those first days of late August, and I’m here to tell you that it’s far more than I ever imagined.

Sweet Sixteen. No matter how you say it, it holds a significance that will never die. With all the footsteps I have placed, one in front of the other, I still have many, many more to go. I am on a quest unlike anything I have ever done before. I am learning things I never knew before. I am meeting people that have never inspired me like this before.

One more test, one more research paper, one more lesson to learn.

And away we go.

 

10 10 14 Seven Weeks October 10, 2014

Good Bye Week Seven

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in college for seven weeks now. Each week, from the time I climb up the staircase in Hinckley on Monday morning, to when my ride arrives to take me home on Thursday afternoon in Fairfield, it’s a blinding blur, brought on by a beautifully woven tapestry of campus activity. I don’t know where the time goes, but man oh man does it ever.

I’ve experienced many firsts in 45 days. I’ve soared through the highs, sidestepped along the lows, made a few friends, learned a few things, been reminded of a few more, and I have to keep telling myself that I’m just getting started.

I’ve had a few fits with my new laptop, or should I say, a few more than a few. I am gaining with Windows 8.1 though, and as far as Office 2013? Well, let’s just say I haven’t thought of anything nice to call a ribbon yet. I’m working on it though, and sooner or later, those pesky little buggers will pay!

I’ve had some days when my lack of vision hasn’t bothered me, and other days when it was all I could think of. What I’m able to see changes as quickly as the weather, and if it wasn’t for the hours and hours of mobility lessons I had this summer, I’d probably still be trying to find the staircase in the Averill building in Hinckley. Probably be trying to find the doorway into King 112 also. How much I can see through my fogged up, waxed paper view really determines how some of my days progress.

My health has been good though, which I should never take for granted.

I have some wonderful instructors who have bent over backwards to try and give me the materials in an accessible format. You have no idea how wonderful it is to know that you all have my best interest at heart. None of this would be possible without your accommodations and insight, and I thank you all.

There have been a few things that have sent me spiraling, but with each incident, I absorb, adapt and advance towards the next opportunity to experience and learn.

I have been offered help by a number of students in a number of different situations, and all of them have been met with a slice of humility that reminds me just how generous and compassionate the human heart is.

I have come a long way in seven weeks. I have learned a lot, but mostly I have discovered an unquenchable thirst to learn even more. I’ll never get back the years that have led me to this point, but without them, I probably would have ended up somewhere else, and I think I prefer being right where I am.

I’ve learned how to see things differently these past four years, these past seven weeks, and the gained insight can be measured only with my actions and abilities.

Accessibility has come a long, long ways over the years. I couldn’t have picked a better time to have lost my sight. With all the technological advances that the digital world has brought to the blind community, it’s exciting to think where it’s headed, and what will become the norm in probably just a few short years. I don’t take anything for granted any more. I can’t afford to.

It’s been seven short weeks of one of the most incredible experiences of my life. It’s been 45 days of highs and lows, surrounded by pure possibility.

I look forward to the next seven weeks with courage, faith and hope, thanks in part from the encouragement I continue to get from all around.

I am extremely blessed to have crossed paths with you all.

dp.