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

Apologies to everyone who sees this info twice. I’ve had to divide my latest writing into two entries.

A friend asked me to write a paragraph about why I blog for a magazine article. I decided to adapt it for this blog entry.

I blog for a few reasons. the first is the nature of my blog which is to keep people up to date on me, my husband, and our dogs — the Kragnes family. I used to write E-mail messages I called updates which went to many people. As time progressed and spam E-mail became more of a problem, distributing them to many people at the same time became harder and harder. Therefore, when I found an accessible blog, it was a God send. I had a sighted person drag a wigit on my blog which allows people to subscribe by E-mail, so it was just as effortless to receive blog entries as the e-mail updates used to be. then I learned how to tweet links to my blog entries for those who follow me there. I connected Audio Boo — a platform for making audio recordings — to my blog. this expanded both my audience and ways of being able to distribute information. The second reason I blog is related to the first but has to do with my husband’s health. Because he’s waiting for a kidney transplant, on dialysis, and used to be an extremely brittle Diabetic, information changed quickly, and distributing it in one place helped me not have to repeat myself and inform many at the same time. the third reason I blog is to get thoughts out of my head and somewhere else. A lot of times these blog entries are more like essays, but writing them helps keep the thoughts from looping around and around in my head. A fourth reason is as an education piece. Even family members say they don’t always understand how Phil and I live as a couple who are blind and have other disabilities/conditions, and writing what’s happening teaches people that it’s possible and how we do it. the final reason I blog is to look back someday. I wish I would have saved all of the updates I have written, because even reading the few that I have from years ago helps me gain valuable perspective. I don’t know if anything other than the blog will result, but certainly some of the things I have written — particularly about our dogs — have been the basis for stories I’ve had published.

Speaking of audio, I plan to continue the audio tour of our house I started and will also have an audio Boo for women — especially those who are blind — explaining what my mammogram was like. Mine came back with no issues, but I thought it might be a good idea to inform women of my experience and a thing or two I learned.

the biggest news of the last couple weeks is that our home computer has decided that after a certain point in the start-up process, it will not continue and goes to a blue screen. On this blue screen are lots of possible reasons for it’s existence, but despite several people with computer expertise trying to go through the process of elimination by using the computer in safe mode (in which our speech doesn’t work), a solution has not been found. Everyone is dependent on computers these days, but I would guess that between Phil’s work and all the things for which we both use the computer to maintain independence, we probably depend on it more than the average household. Phil had a computer at work and his IPhone at home, so his routine wasn’t as disrupted as mine. Fortunately, we still have the laptop from Phil’s work that he used in the hospital in spring 2011 when he couldn’t speak. He typed out his responses for nurses etc. Right now, the laptop is our temporary computer until the new one we order arrives. We have discovered a few advantages like being able to plug two keyboards into it when we play computer games. Still, considering that my plan was to organize files on my external drives, this has set that project back a couple weeks. I am thankful I don’t have any major responsibilities during this period between home computers.

Most of my music I routinely want to hear is on SD cards, but of course, there are those one or two albums on an external drive that I wouldn’t mind having. Dragging this laptop to the spare bedroom / office to connect it to the drives probably isn’t going to happen, especially since Phil and a few friends have been so good about helping me get as many things set-up on this laptop as possible. These include games, a spell checker, and a way to plug in my SD cards full of music. Obviously I have e-mail, but I don’t have access to my e-mail address book. For the most part, I can reply to messages sent to me, but the one exception was the e-mail address I needed to send blog posts. I find writing my posts in e-mail to be the most blind-friendly way to edit them.

I’m going to appear to change subjects, but stay with me. this will make sense after a while. On Twitter a few blind people have been having a discussion. One quote said, “there are two kinds of blind people: those who can and those who think they can’t.” Another was something like, “if you want to find a way to do something, you will, but if you don’t want to find a way, you’ll find an excuse.” Certainly, there are circumstances in which the above quotes are true, but I’d like to suggest that this compulsion to find a way or thinking you can — which I’ll shorten to tenacity — doesn’t always do the job well or efficiently. Now back to finding the e-mail address for this blog. Phil found some instructions on the site for doing it, and I was up almost an entire night trying to follow them. I had the instructions in one window and my blog controls in another. I’m not going to explain it step by step, but I will say this. they had steps one through four listed for the process. they neglected to mention sub-steps 2B and 2C which made all the difference. There were links beside the instructions for the steps, but I was then presented with .jpg or picture files. Perhaps these instructions with their pictures are adequate for a sighted individual, but after scouring the suggested screen and then clicking on almost every conceivable link *not detailed in the instructions, I finally found what I needed. I had tenacity, butt even with Phil’s help, it took me a lot of a night to do this task. My guess is that someone who could see the screen would have assessed it in five minutes. There’s the example of tenacity not being efficient.

You may remember that Phil and I have a Keurig which makes delicious hot drinks and even cold ones with ice. Ever since we got the machine, I’ve had a problem seating the water reservoir down in the appropriate place. I’ve tried pouring water from a pitcher, but because of the position of the reservoir, I had to pour with my nondominant hand. Let me tell you, that makes a mess! Besides, the reservoir has to be cleaned and rinsed, so it needs to come off the machine. Putting it back on after filling it is where I go wrong. I use both hands for the task with at least one pointer near the groove where the reservoir is supposed to sit. I do my best to line it up feeling where machine and reservoir are supposed to meet. Phil tells me it should automatically seat itself in the right place, and it’s happened that way for me occasionally. Mostly though it feels like it’s seating itself, and when I look, there’s a gap between reservoir and machine. Worse yet, it’ attaches in such a way that it is stuck. When Phil finds it in that condition, he gets frustrated, and I can’t blame him for that. Phil worries I’m going to have it so stuck together, it will break one day. Tenacity isn’t worth breaking something like this, so until I can finally have someone help me figure out what I’m doing wrong, Phil is in charge of seating the reservoir. The people promoting the world view on blindness and tenacity I discussed earlier say I’m just using my blindness as an excuse. I have tried, and I just can’t agree with them.

Rebecca Kragnes with Seeing Eye Dog Zane (Black Lab )
E-mail: rebeccak
Twitter: RebeccaKragnes


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