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

March mixed Message

Phil is sleeping after getting many warts on his hand frozen today. Warts are a part of life as an immune-suppressed patient, and he generally leaves them alone. But given their location, he was catching them on things and hurting himself. He’s in some pain, but given the last six months or so, it’s all relative. Speaking of the last six months, we are hoping to make March our first hospitalization free month since September.

It seems the mouse community in the house is not as controlled as we might like. The pest control person comes Wednesday. Especially at this time of night, I get to hear the squeaks and the rustling, and it’s a bit unsettling. Everything is going in hard boxes with tight coverings. We were disgusted to find that a big bag of Skittles — Phil’s favorite candy which helps produce saliva making his fluid limits less uncomfortable — had to be thrown out, because these vermin chewed through two layers of plastic.

It’s probably going to be a shocker, but the rest of this update is going to be positive! We’ll start with looking forward to playing in my green at the Malt Shop this St. Patrick’s Sunday

Besides the coming spring-time with moderate temperatures, Lilacs, and our birthdays, We are hoping for another positive change in the next couple months. Phil’s supervisor is retiring. It is still being determined what the application process would be like, but he’s hoping to have a fair shot at the job. Friends have wondered whether there might be some discrimination because of Phil’s health problems. Given that he is known for his work ethic, I don’t think that will be a problem. I thought the way he informally expressed interest was clever.
He was asked by the department director to put together a list of qualities he felt should be considered for that position, and the director seemed to like his list. She asked if he could think of anyone who fit the description, and he jokingly said that President Obama probably wouldn’t want to leave his current position. After a bit of laughter, she asked if there was anyone in the department or at the University who had these qualities. and this is when he said that perhaps shameless self-promotion should have been added to the list, because with 15 years of experience in his current job, he felt he fit the criteria. He showed me his list, and as the totally unbiased wife I am, (ha ha ) I believe he does fit the list. Obviously the increase in salary would be nice, but that’s not the only reason he wants to apply. Five years ago, he said that he wouldn’t want to give up wearing shorts and the one-to-one interaction with students and employees. He’s still hoping for some interaction and has a keen interest in helping especially employees. But the reality is that there is no further advancement in his current position. I think he’s looking for new challenges and to make a difference and influence issues more broadly. As one of the people who has worked longest in his department, he has seen several Administrations and organizational structures come and go. Over the past couple years long before his supervisors’ retirement was announced, , I’ve heard him express a lot more interest in the managerial/administrative side of things. He has heard that they’d like to have someone work in the position jointly with his supervisor before she retires at the end of May. so we are hoping the application process will begin and a decision made fairly soon. Depending on how the application process is structured, Phil could be competing with a friend and colleague he helped hire and supervise. This man is another highly-respected person at the U, is currently working in another department, and has expressed some interest in coming back to the department in which Phil works. Though obviously he’d rather have the job — Phil has told me he feels he could be comfortable being supervised by this friend and colleague . Phil saw this dynamic work very well in his early years working at the U. Phil’s former-boss was a man who hired a woman. Eventually, this woman became this man’s supervisor.

I may soon be going to the Apple Store for the first time. My iPhone is wonderful, but there are things about it which have puzzled us. It acts very differently than others, and we’d like to figure out why. A phone call didn’t get to the bottom of it, so we’re taking it to the experts.

And speaking of the iPhone, I’d like to end by telling you about a few apps which have and will continue to revolutionize the way I am able to use it. I type well on the computer, but this one-finger typing on the iPhone’s flat screen just doesn’t work for me. An external keyboard can work, but it isn’t very convenient on the go. Dictating is great, assuming what you are saying is not private and the environment is quiet. There are apps which supposedly guess what you’re trying to type, but it still feels clumsy to me. On January 31, a new app called BrailleTouch was released which uses the Braille keyboard to enter text. It is currently useable with only uncontracted Braille, but even with that, I am typing so much faster. When editing capabilities and contracted Braille are added, it’s going to be even more wonderful! I can send e-mails, texts, and tweets. Copying and pasting to and from the iPhone’s clipboard means I can use Braille input for a lot of apps!. BrailleTouch without all of these abilities — just the typing) is free in the app store. It might be fun for sighted people to play with it. Read2Go is an app which produces synthesized speech for some books available through the Web site http://www.bookshare.org. this spring another app will be available, so library of Congress audio books will be able to be downloaded and read on the iPhone. I hope the day will come when I’ll be able to own a Bluetooth Braille display to read Braille transmitted from my iPhone. Valuable information can be gained for blind people by using GPS apps to learn about establishments nearby about which we may not know. My sister Amanda tweeted me an article about an invention being considered which would take maps appearing on the iPhone and make them available in Braille. There is an app now called Tap Tap See which identifies objects after a picture is taken. When I was sick, I used another app called VisWiz to send a picture of an unlabeled pill bottle to someone who told me what was written on it. LookTell is an app I use at the Malt Shop to read currency using one of the iPhone’s cameras. Despite today’s many challenges, I feel fortunate to live now when all of this technology is available in one small device to increase my independence and make accessible more information than ever.

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Comments on: "March mixed Message" (2)

  1. Bonnie Clark said:

    Becky, all the apps and new technology make my head swim.

    I am glad Phil has a chance to apply for the position. Of course he fits criteria and intention.

    Lia and Rick may be visiting Saturday the 16th. Thought we would go the the Minnesota History Museum in St. Paul. About 5 new exhibits.

    My niece and her husband are raising another grandson born December 5. Her daughter is in Shakopee Women’s Prison. Whenever her daughter gets out of prison over the years, she breaks her parole, uses drugs, gets pregnant and here were are with child number 4. He’s a cutie. Oldest boy is now 13. We’ll just have to talk soon. Love you, Bonnie

    Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2013 07:44:17 +0000 To: silverfox699@hotmail.com

  2. Jeanie Vejil said:

    Hi Rebecca.

    Outch! I think I’d be sleeping too were I Phil!

    Wouldn’t it be nice if he gets the supervisory position? I wish him the very best of luck.

    How cool is it that you’ll be playing on St. Patty’s Day, and you’ll get to wear green, green, green!

    I tried the iPhone 4s back in July of last year and only kept it for the trial period of 14 days. The supposedly necessary gestures, sweeps, double tapping, and the inability to type in numbers when checking on my paratransit scheduled rides made using the iPhone impossible since there is no way to speak the necessary client ID and my pin number, so I took it back. In all honesty, I really couldn’t afford a $38 higher phone bill since I had to have a data plan anyway.

    If you listened to the teleconference call or the recording of it from Seeing Eye, there was a place where Jim Kutsch said grads should be using face book and twitter, but I have no information about either of those social sights, so didn’t let it worry me. Since they should be aware that not all of us can use face book with JAWS, their communications between them and us should always be in the form of a printed letter or an e-mail.

    I’m rooting for March to be a hospital free month for Phil!

    Happy St. Patty’s Day early!

    Jeanie and Trudy

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