News, updates, and happenings with the Kragnes family: Phil, our Seeing Eye Dogs, and (me) Rebecca.

Archive for June, 2012

the Internet: once in a while I astound myself

I know that everyone — blind or sighted — depends on the Internet. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that blind people use it to do things which make us more independent of the help of family and friends. Phil and I regularly order groceries and dog food on the Net. Phil does a lot of shopping on the Net, and it’s not just buying the stuff. He really digs into the reviews and makes sure he finds the best he can for what he is willing to spend. We know sighted people shop this way too, but printed sources aren’t as available to us as the Net.
We download our library books from the Internet and use it to find other information which we would have had to call on another human to find before it’s existence. I’ll admit that I’d rather pick up the phone than do an Internet search or try something on my own. There’s a reason I panic if I don’t have a phone near me. but whether it’s looking up a word, a synonym, an album, or a period of history
, the Internet gives us options. It’s even more effective if you are like Phil and can envision dimensions and picture something without putting one’s hands on it.

Even almost twenty years later, I’m still overjoyed that I can read the words of sighted family and friends in an E-mail. Very few sighted people knew Braille when I grew up, and if I received a letter, someone always had to read it to me. I know the stories about the loss of privacy in the general sense as E-mails travel through various computers to get to our in-boxes. But not to have to use a human being to read things still is a thrill for me. Being able to express myself to many people at a time in this blog without having to find someone to make sure the correction tape worked, , make sure the typewriter or printer is producing visible, legible print, spell-check the work, and make copies is wonderful. Of course there’s one of my favorite activities which is acquiring music. I don’t miss the days of going into the store, finding a customer service person, asking for them to find the CD, read track listings, and help me learn how to hear the scans on the CD’s in later days.
I was engaged in this activity and had just purchased a few albums when — horror of horrors! I was somehow disconnected. In the past, I always had a backup plan. I have the number of the Amazon MP3 center, and they’ve helped me acquire music when it wasn’t downloading for me. Our speech software depends on the Net to run, so when I was disconnected, it started throwing a fit. I tried the unplugging of the modem and plugging it back in to no avail, so that meant rebooting the whole system. That in turn meant shutting down the program downloading my music,which caused me to internally curse a blue streak and rail about how much I hated the Internet. I was discouraged when the Internet didn’t seem to be coming up with the reboot. I unplugged the modem for longer, and — when plugged in — I heard the glorious noise of tweets coming in from Twitter. I remembered that music downloads were good for three hours, so after looking at the albums on Amazon’s site, I figured out where the download program was and how to open it, and — miracle of miracles — it started and completed my downloads!

Some of you are far better computer users than I am, and this wouldn’t probably be a big deal to you. But Phil and I were just having a conversation tonight about talking to others to figure it out or at least trying to do it ourselves. I tend to do more of the former — living with a technically/ mechanically gifted person and having technically gifted friends — until all sane people are asleep and Amazon is closed for the night. I knew if I didn’t get it done, it would happen tomorrow. I also knew I wouldn’t sleep well knowing I didn’t at least try to get it done.

there are some things Phil highly recommends I don’t try. One such thing is untangling two chords or chains from each other. I inevitably make it far worse than it was to start and the biggest, hardest knots known to humanity. It’s also easier to try something when I have a model to examine. If there are two latches, and one of them comes undone (assuming that it’s not broken), I can examine the other one to get some idea about how it’s supposed to fit together. I am not exactly known as the logical one in this family, so figuring out what to do tonight was truly momentous.
Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)
E-Mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes


battle and bike

First the bad news. Phil is back in the hospital for the third time in three months. His fistula clotted again. They were hoping to take care of it outpatient but got a particularly high reading on the potassium. A temporary catheter had to be inserted to dialyze him tonight. Tomorrow he has the procedure, and they hope to do it early enough that he’ll come home. I know a certain German Shepherd who will be glad to see him. Phil thinks this might have something to do with some test done at dialysis, as it has clotted after both of them. Doctors seem pretty confident they can get it unclotted and ready to go.

Before he discovered he wouldn’t hear his fistula last night as he was getting into bed, he’d been on his second bike ride in a week. He has a 29 year old captain — the person who sits on the front of a tandem bike. Last Monday they went 12 miles, and something in the bike made them wipe out on a hill. No one was hurt. they left Garron home both last week and this week, because they want to get this thing fixed before hooking up the trailer. Phil purchased an eight speed hub, and a wheel is going to have to be rebuilt to put this thing on the bike. I don’t completely understand, but it’s going to make the bike safer. Phil got on a web site for Schwinn Twinn bikes after getting a reader to find the serial number. The site had a chart which showed a range of serial numbers of Schwinn Twinn tandem bikes made on each day of many years. the tandem was made on February 23, 1966.

nothing terribly new with me, except I look forward to getting off of a board and having more time to devote to music. I tested something out at church last weekend and got some positive reactions. I’m reading biographies of musicians, and they have the mind churning a little. I also am working on getting music and books more organized and CD’s properly ripped and labeled. I’m also battling one of my doctors, because he’s charging a tax the insurance company says he can’t charge, and Phil’s really pushing me to fight it not only for me but for all of his patients. He says he’s doing this with all of his patients, and at least those using our insurance company should be charged according to the contract. It’s not fun fighting this, but I hope it turns out OK. this and another battle brought about the music I tested this weekend.
Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)
E-Mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes

Porch Storm Boo

online interaction: it’s ups and downs

I have made no bones about the fact that I probably won’t get on FaceBook, because it sounds like a lot of bother and reciprocity. Someone friends you and writes on your wall. Then if you don’t write on their wall or friend them, they feel bad about it or vice versa. FB has a lot more things like that, but though I enjoy Twitter, audio Boo, a game community for blind people called RS Games, and even E-Mail, there are still some of those social networking ups and downs.

The ups are easy. I enjoy following and getting little glimpses into the lives of musicians I admire and even facts about some of my preferred products and the people behind them. Meeting people is another cool thing — particularly when meeting friends of friends I already have come to know and discovering cool similarities. But sometimes those personal connections can lead to the downfalls too.

I’ve blogged about an incident in April in which someone I highly respected sent an e-mail which got back to me saying I was a little strange. I have put that behind me for a couple of reasons, and one was that I still truly like the person and believe in true forgiveness. Secondly, it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I truly understood how Twitter worked. I had people complaining about my retweets, and I truly didn’t understand why. I thought that all my followers saw every tweet I sent including replies. How would my followers know what I meant if they didn’t see context? I also saw companies and celebrities retweeting in exactly the same way I was, so I didn’t understand why people saw it as wrong. People told me to reply, but it took a longer conversation to understand that only people who follow both participants of a conversation receive replies — not every follower. I truly think this misunderstanding and my resulting tweets had something to do with the perception I was strange.

In a related incident, I was really upset when I learned someone I had really come to want to know blocked my tweets. I’d enjoyed her audio boos and really felt that despite our differences in lifestyle, we had similarities and could get along beautifully. We met online, because we had several followers in common, and a mutual friend at the time advised me to e-mail her and let her know how I felt. The person who had me blocked truly didn’t know it had happened. she unblocked me and was the one who educated me on Twitter replies.

Those of you who know me understand that if I was a dog, I’d be a Golden Retriever — ready to take the blame for anything wrong in the world
. But like everyone else, I still manage to stick my foot in my mouth and remain oblivious to it until someone tells me. A couple of weeks ago, I did that by writing something on twitter I thought was funny, and when I learned how deeply I offended the parties involved, I did my utmost to apologize. But there’s one thing I’ve learned about some people, especially some I meet online only. I am really disposable to them. We write and we talk on recordings or phone, but their lives will go on just as stellarly if they never speak to me again. Because I met my husband online (and it has worked beautifully for years), I tend to be a lot more loyal about people I meet online and really don’t throw people away if I consider them true friends. Don’t get me wrong. I have plenty of friends outside of cyberspace, but I value the connections I make here too. It’s a hard lesson to learn at forty that even if I like some people, I do one or two things that upset them — even unintentionally, and I’m out of their good graces forever! A cooling down period and Forgiveness are not options, because one or two actions obliterate whatever else I’ve done or whatever relationship we’ve built. I thought that stuff went out with Junior high, but apparently not. It’s the old lesson parents tried to get through to all of us when we admired and wanted to get back into good graces with people who treated us like crap. If people treat you this way, you probably don’t want them as friends. I see things I really admire in them, but I know I’m probably better off moving on. As a mutual friend told me tonight, “you can’t be everyone’s friend” much as I wish otherwise.

A strange thing is happening with the election results of the new board and my term coming to an end. I’ve alluded to the fact that I tried not to take sides in the myriads of conflicts which have plagued this board for the last six months. Sometimes even a tiny gesture in one direction was seen as me taking the other side. I’ve determined that there are people in both factions that I really like and could befriend outside the board. There are things which have happened on the board which make friendship with one or two near to impossible. That saddens me, because if we’d interacted under different circumstances, we really could have built something cool. Others and I have had differences of opinion on the board, and it has strained the relationship outside of the board. I look forward to not having those issues between us anymore. The level of relationship with some will be determined once I’m off the board, and they no longer are required to contact me for board business. The next board is going to have challenges between personalities, work styles, beliefs, etc., but once I’m off this board, I’m a free agent and can associate with most of them or none of them if I want. Part of that will be up to them.

My final two paragraphs deal with something about online interactions I really find complicated. There have been a couple instances in which people want to become friends with me out of pure loneliness, and I’m not compatible. We play a game, or they find me somehow, and suddenly they want e-mails or other messages back and forth, and either I feel I don’t know them well enough yet, or I can tell from their content or profiles that they are too immature, and I truly don’t want to know them. I feel sorry for them, but I really don’t know how to proceed. The last thing I want to do is hurt them, but it’s just so obviously not right.

At least I can easily fend off the people who are single and lonely by saying I’m happily married. I feel sorry for the sad ones who truly are searching for the one. I know I’m not it though, and the sooner I inform them of that, the better. I feel sorry for friends of mine who have to change their screen names in order to get away from sleazy creeps. And Some of them aren’t cautious about it either. One guy — without knowing anything about me — sent me a private message that said “sex”. Whatever!
Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)
E-Mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes

House Outline Boo 3

House Outline Boo 2

House Outline Boo 1

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