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

Archive for April, 2013

social networking decisions

For many years, I have resisted getting a Facebook Account, because I thought it was nothing but photos and other visual material. Then I’ve watched Phil work with the Facebook app on the iPhone this fall and winter and decided to give it a try. Last week on Twitter, I had a discussion about whether to connect the two accounts and got some great advice and perspectives on doing so — including an app to allow me to choose which Tweets get posted to Facebook called Selective Tweets. I still have to test to see if I did it properly, but if so, the below may help my followers decide whether to interact with me on FB, Twitter, Skype,, 4-Square, Audioboo, games, and/or any combination.

The number of followers has never been as important as that people who follow enjoy the content. One person cautioned me that if the content is the same on both, she will unfollow on one of the accounts. I am making content decisions based on that and frankly my own preferences. There will be overlap of my blog entry links on both. I am aware that — some exceptions — my Twitter and Facebook followers are different “audiences”. I have a lot of sighted and low-vision friends and family members on Facebook and have received very positive feedback about connecting my 4-square account. My FB followers are interested in the places I go and perhaps photos of them.
I personally dislike 4-square notifications and links to photos on my Twitter account, and because it’s a text based social networking platform, I have more blind followers over there. I know there are those who post photos and 4-square on Twitter, but my sense is that most blind people feel as I do. Because I have my Audioboo account connected to Twitter, Twitter followers will be the only ones to receive most of my audio content. Occasionally I’ll include links to audio content in my blog which will be posted to both. But if audio is more your speed, you may want to follow me on Twitter.

On FB, you’ll find me with a simple search. My twitter, Audioboo, and Skype names are RebeccaKragnes. My user name on both Dice World and the iPhone Game center is RebeccaK425.

41st and Facebook birthday

I want to write about the birthday events as the last minutes of my birthday are waning. My friend Eric came to see me on Monday, and we had a delicious delivery sub supper with Phil. His knee and hands have been hurting, and with the snow early in the week, I thanked God the person who drives him to and from work in the snow was back from vacation. Eric and I talked (Internet Radio Station) mushroom FM, movies and music the whole afternoon, and that’s both of our idea of a good time! Those who follow me on Twitter or AudioBoo or listened to the clips I posted in my last entry know that my pre-birthday dinner occurred Tuesday night the 23rd with four dear friends. Those details can be heard in the clips, but I can’t recommend Wok in the Park highly enough!
The 24th included a few birthday events. My friend Deb came with her gift of the Nicki Minaj perfume called Pink Friday. I loved it on the lab Tech at the hospital, but I like even more what it does with my body chemistry! I think Phil does too! The shape of the bottle is interesting and makes it easy to put the lid on and take it off.

Our reader came last night, and the one card from my parents was really meaningful this year. Usually birthday cards are pretty standard, but I have the impression from the way this card is worded that it was picked with particular care. It hasn’t been the easiest year, and even though the card is written in print, I’ll probably keep it. I’m going to produce it to the best of my ability at the end of this post.

Then last night I joined Facebook. People say there’s drama on Facebook, but that hasn’t been my overall impression thus far. I’m still learning to get around. I started around my birthday, so I’d have the motivation to really work with it to read birthday greetings. I’m also hoping to do a better job of keeping track of other people’s birthdays.

I was up late playing games with another friend, but as is typical for me, I didn’t want to miss a moment of my birthday. I used some birthday money to go get my hair cut, and that’s the first time since fall that Zane and I have gone anywhere by city bus. It was just too slippery until recently. I do 4-Square, and the app reported I hadn’t been to the salon since November of 2012! I had so much hair cut off, and I was going on about how darn thick it was! My beautician cautioned me to be thankful, because so many ladies come in with little to no hair. It still felt like a big weight had been lifted from my shoulders. While waiting for the bus to go home, we met a restaurant delivery driver who sometimes drops off our meals. He was walking his dog,, and I petted his dog a little.

I friended someone on Facebook whose name sounded like it was the husband of a graduate school friend. However, he turned out to be another blind iPhone user, and he lives in Hong Kong. We briefly talked on Facebook, but the sound wasn’t very good. I’d never used Face Time with anyone, because generally I prefer not to have people see me if we aren’t in the same room. I asked him why two blind people would want to use it, and he called and showed me just how good the sound quality is between two iPhone users on Face Time. It is also free between two iPhone users if they have Wi-Fi.

After starting a load of laundry, eating some lunch, and emptying and filling the dishwasher, I spent the majority of the afternoon on my porch in the sun listening to a book and some music. I had a few minutes of panic when I couldn’t hear the computer. Then I discovered I’d turned the volume down too low during a phone call.

Phil had dialysis, and I had my book club by phone while putting away laundry. We had a meal delivered, and a friend dropped off a white cake with chocolate frosting all made from scratch! I’ve been eating the white cake with chocolate frosting and green balloons another bought for the pre-birthday dinner, and I’m sure this cake will be yummy, too! Phil will be home to eat cake with me in the next couple days, which will be another blessing.

My last surprise was an Amazon gift card from my friend Eric. We are both so addicted to music, so he knows it will be put to good use.

With nice weather ramping up and Phil being home with me an extra day, I hope I can come down gently from what has been a wonderful few days! We have the pups to the vet, dinner and my late gig Friday and an theater accessibility focus group on Saturday before he goes to dialysis and I go to church. Sunday is the Malt Shop, and then a new week begins. Now, as promised, here is my reproduction of the card from my parents. It folds out from thirds into a long card from top to bottom, is white, and the back ground coloring throughout the textured letters is blue and green.

HOW TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL LIFE
Reflections For A Daughter On Her Birthday
Love Yourself,
MAKE PEACE with who you are and where you are in this moment in time.

Listen to your heart. If you can’t hear what it’s saying in this noisy world,
MAKE TIME for yourself. Enjoy your own company. Let your mind wander among the stars.

Try. Take chances. MAKE MISTAKES . Life can be messy and confusing at times, but it’s also full of surprises. The next rock in your path may be a stepping-stone.

Be happy. When you don’t have what you want, want what you have. MAKE DUE.. That’s a well-kept secret of contentment.

There aren’t any shortcuts to tomorrow. You have to Make Your Own Way. To know where you’re going is only part of it. You need to know where you’ve been, too. And if you ever get lost, don’t worry. The people who love you will find you. Count on it.

Life isn’t days and years. It’s what you do with time and all the goodness and grace that’s inside you. MAKE A BEAUTIFUL LIFE …THE KIND OF LIFE YOU deserve. (Handwritten) Love, Mom and Dad

audio boos about pre-birthday dinner

I received some feedback that those who could access my audioboos really enjoyed hearing my voice. There should be a play button on the pages which should just start playing these, but I know some have had trouble hearing them. Still, for those people who like hearing my voice, here are three about my pre-birthday dinner at one of my favorite restaurants with friends.

Wok in the Park 1 boo
http://t.co/z2wTuEw1fj via @audioboo
Wok in the Park 2boo
http://t.co/FKWuR4I2nT via @audioboo
Wok in the Park Homemade ice cream with hot fudge sauce Boo
http://t.co/xRsnoF4oET via @audioboo

Thank you, God for Friends! Thank you friends!

Phil and I work very hard to try to be self-sufficient as much as possible. But God knows there are just some times in life when no one will help us out of the jams in which we find ourselves but our friends. Remember how I wrote about winning the battle over the mountain of laundry? Ah but not so fast! I went downstairs to check on the latest loads and was mystified when the load in the drier was still wet, despite the fact I had given in a generous amount of drying time. I was downright angry when I checked it an hour and a half later, and it was still wet! I could feel heat, so I knew that wasn’t the problem, but as I turned the drier on and then opened the door for it to turn itself off, I didn’t hear the wuffa wuffa wuffa sound of the spinning innards slowing. I also didn’t feel it spinning at all. I gradually took laundry out and tried again with similar results each time and on a completely empty drier. This was after midnight, a long night of playing with very few tips, other frustrations on the home front I won’t detail here and lots of angry tears. We are smart enough to have a total repair plan on our home appliances through our gas company, and given the calls they must get, I thought they might at least have a service to take messages regarding quandaries like mine. I immediately called in hopes of getting closer to an appointment to have the drier repaired today . The good news was that I talked to a human being. The bad news was they were now booking Wednesday appointments. I have plenty of clothes put away to wear, so that wasn’t the issue. I had two baskets of wet clothes I didn’t want molding. I’m sure there are blind people in this world with contraptions to roll their clothes to the laundry mat in one hand while using their guide dogs or canes in the other. Because we don’t have a mat near our home, and I normally have a convenient washer and drier in my basement, we aren’t set up to do this in more April snow which is forecast tomorrow. I had been meaning to call my fellow night owl friend Bonnie to ask about driving me to the colonoscopy on June 7, and this was an added incentive. Since we are briefly on that topic, my friend Michael stepped forward to volunteer to bring his Black Lab guide and puppy sit mine on that day. Bonnie has us on her calendar for June 7 and is going to stop by and pick up the wet clothes to dry for me this afternoon.

In my last entry, I also wrote about trying to stop isolating myself, and I was really looking forward to a friend’s visit this afternoon. I haven’t had a anyone over to my house in months because of everything going on. I am so grateful for Bonnie doing this and not to have to cancel my plans because of this little snag. We’re having a little pre-birthday gathering. I’m having another one with some more friends on Tuesday evening at a restaurant we all love. Phil can’t do this restaurant because of the high salt content, so it’s a real treat to have an excuse to go.

Thus far, it looks like I’ll spend the majority of my birthday physically by myself. But with the advent of technology, I’ll have company on the internet radio and the phone with my book club of many people I consider friends. Yes, we have to hire some things done, but for the little things which add up and barely keep us breathing above water, it’s our friends hands-down who make a difference. I believe we have some of the best friends in the world.

the April theory

I am unsure whether I pay attention to what happens in our country more in the month of April because of my birthday on the 25th. but I have had a theory for a while that April almost inevitably means a month in which there will be tragic violence among the Masses in America. Granted, shootings in schools and other public places have sadly become way too common during all twelve months of the year, but there is something about April which seems to bring out violence in some people. I noticed the trend starting in high school. There seemed to be more fights and controversy breaking out in the spring, and it wasn’t just the seniors who wanted to graduate and get out. My older sister would come home and tell my mom about the latest goings-on, and there would be talk about how the warmer weather was bringing it out in people.

On April 19, 1993, there were shootings as the Branch Dividians were dealt with in Waco, Texas. That same date in 1995 was the Oklahoma City Bombing. April 20 of 1999 was when the Columbine shootings occurred. April 17, 2007 was the date of the Virginia Tech shootings. If only April 15th this year could have been just another tax day, but the Boston Marathon Bombings happened. (Fortunately for us, that day included a very nice evening spent at Red Lobster with Phil’s cousins.) Just a few days later on another April 19, the whole country held its breath as one of the suspects was brought into custody. It seems like I have forgotten things in my Chronology, but I do think warmer weather brings out something in people. I’ve certainly felt it myself in past years. I’m a little edgier … a little more of a loose cannon, and I really watch myself as a result.

This year, I think the weird, unseasonal snow and cold has made me feel more restless than the anger which usually permeates this time of the year. Many of you know I have Seasonal Affect Disorder, and fall and winter are hard times for me. There were many days this winter when I couldn’t do much of anything, because it was just too much effort. Although I managed to get Phil’s laundry done, my laundry sat in hampers and baskets for very long periods, and I never did get to the bottom this winter. The dead mouse smells and the events in our lives meant very little motivation to put my clothes away. With the smell out of the closets, I’m working on that mountain of laundry, and if it ever gets warm, I’ll put away the heavy, dark, colored winter clothes in favor of the lighter fabrics and colors of spring and summer. I’ll sit on my porch and take in the sun on spring days and move to the deck when the sun pouring into the porch is too hot in the summer. when the snow disappears for good, I’ll try to go more places on the bus with Zane instead of depending on the more expensive, time limiting Para transit system. I hope I will isolate myself less and feel more like talking to people. Friends have asked why they haven’t heard from me, and frankly, I just didn’t have much to say worth their hearing.

I Am having a couple of small get-togethers with friends for my birthday, and although I’ll probably spend most of my actual birthday by myself, at least I have the April book club meeting by phone that evening. Phil is taking Friday off to spend the day with me, and I have a nice gig that night, which I hope will turn into other playing possibilities if the planner who booked me likes what she hears. Saturday Phil and I will go to a theater very close to where we live and give input on accessibility issues before he goes to dialysis and I play at church. The Internet Radio Station to which I often listen is having a big birthday weekend with exciting programming next weekend. Mushroom FM and I have the same birthday, but I’m only 38 years older.

I look forward to serene and social spring days and pray that people in my city will be so grateful for warm weather that we won’t have any major violent events.

Finally, Phil attended a lecture on hope earlier this week, and the speaker defined hope as not only wishing and longing for something to happen, but also working toward it’s occurrence. Phil and I are hoping for that position to become his later this spring. It would be such a positive step for us both but of course especially for him. With more energy, I really want to make the piano a friend of mine and maybe get it tuned. I hope the warmer weather and lighter days will mean I’ll have things to say through music as well.

It’s really our own sins we should hate.

This week I read a blog entry which really touched me. I will provide its link at the end of my comments. I also had a conversation with a friend about using the Bible as a weapon. I’d never heard that phrase before, but I think he’s absolutely right that many Christians do this today. We need not look any further than a saying that to my knowledge has no Biblical roots which says, “Love the sinner. Hate the sin”. I’d like to ask if that is what is really being done, and if we aren’t doing that in some cases, why not.

My purpose here is not to argue what is and isn’t sin, but let’s start with the assumption many Christians do — that gay sex acts are a sin. Even I don’t think there are too many Christians who would argue that every human being on earth is a sinner in one way or another. Even if every gay person in the whole world disappeared tomorrow, every human being on this earth would still be a sinner. So why are we singling them out as sinners by making them feel unwelcome in our churches? One person told me she wants to welcome them without affirming what they’re doing, and frankly, I think that’s pretty easy for the average church-goer to accomplish. But fingers are pointed, the yard sticks come out in the form of quotes in the Bible. By doing anything which singles out gay people, we are doing more than hating their sin.

And let’s not forget our politicians who are being denied the Eucharist, because of how they vote on a particular issue. Once again, an example of hatred — or at least withdrawal of love — is occurring, because of what others view as their sin. The argument is made that by voting not to legislate abolition of abortion, they are responsible for killing babies. I wonder about all the people who didn’t vote to set limits on the kinds of guns and put more background checks in place on who buys guns in the last few days? Are we willing to say they are just as responsible for all the people unjustly killed? This is a very similar scenario, but you never hear about those people being denied the Body of Christ. How about those voting in favor of the death penalty? It doesn’t occur to people to deny them communion, does it? In the Catholic tradition, we all admit we are unworthy before going up to receive communion. But by denying communion to anyone, those being denied are being branded as even more unworthy.

I am not advocating denial of the Eucharist to anyone due to their sins, because frankly, if that is a reason for denial, then no one should receive communion. If we are all sinners, then how about doing as Christ encourages and looking at the log in our own eyes before trying to remove the speck in the eye of our brothers and sisters?

Lest everyone think I’m picking on conservatives (which I admit is probably true above) let me make something else clear. Just as we shouldn’t use a yardstick to examine others’ sin, we also shouldn’t use acceptance as a litmus test either. I have trouble with the rainbow sash campaign. People write letters to the celebrant (usually a bishop) saying they will be wearing a rainbow sash as a person who is in the GLBT community or allied with them. They will walk up to see if they will be given or denied the Eucharist. I don’t care which political side one is on, Using the Body of Christ by denial or testing to see if one will be denied is putting politics above Sacrament. I won’t point fingers and say that is sinful, but I do ask whether this use of the sacrament or any Bible passage against a certain group of people is really stopping at hating the sin. It seems to me that it is a lot closer to hating the sinner. Furthermore, do we really have any business hating sins other than our own? It seems to me that hating and conquering our own sins should keep us busy for all of our lives.

Now, here’s the link to the blog entry I promised at the beginning of this article.

http://wp.me/p1ML21-ss

no dicey details

This week has been full of little annoyances. We owe a little to the feds on taxes. Nothing serious, but the timing isn’t the best. Our cleaning guy rescheduled for 3:00 and then showed up at 5:00. We try to have them in when we’re both gone or at the very most with only Zane and me here. This is because as happened when all four of us were here, , we were stuck in one room to stay out of his way while he cleaned. This put our whole evening on hold, and we didn’t finish eating until nine. It’s bad enough having to do this on dialysis and reader nights, but this was truly annoying. and Before Phil and Garron got home, some guy came to the door saying he was from Comcast and tried to push his way into the house. Some of you know how annoyed I am with people who are not my friends just showing up without an appointment. We don’t have Comcast for any of our electronic communication, and I bluntly asked him to leave. At first he just stood there, and I asked him a second time. I will be calling Comcast to see if anyone was in the area that day. We suspect this guy was not with Comcast, and I was glad our cleaning guy was here to back me up if need be. I also had my iPhone around my neck in case I needed to call the police.

Today was the day I’d been dreading — the pre-colonoscopy visit, and like the colonoscopy itself, the prep was the worst. Despite my prep (of which I will not share details), the doctor never looked at me. He said he’d do that at the colonoscopy, which is scheduled for June 7 — a Friday afternoon. I pushed it way out in order to have the opportunity to recruit a driver or drivers. I need to do this for three reasons. I’ll be under sedation for the procedure, and we’re positive they won’t let me on a metro vehicle just out of sedation. Second, Phil doesn’t think he’ll be able to take the day off to watch Zane while I’m gone, so Zane may have to be with the person who drives or have a puppy sitter here. And the third reason for recruiting a driver is because as I discovered today, using Metro Mobility for doctor’s appointments can be a drag. I was already disgusted because aside from signing my name on some paperwork, everything else could have been done by phone or e-mail — postal mail for the colonoscopy instructions at the very worst. It was good to have the opportunity to ask questions, but it was bad that my doctor was running very late! I arrived at 3:10, filled out paperwork from three thirty to four, saw the doctor at 4:15, and the nurse to take me through the instructions for the colonoscopy at 4:30. As I was waiting for the doctor at four, I called Metro Mobility and said I was concerned about my 4:40 ride because I hadn’t seen the doctor. They could cancel it — they told me –, but because of the lateness of the cancellation (within the hour before the ride), I would get a no-show for the ride. I did it anyway and requested a 5:30 ride home. Of course, I arrived downstairs to wait for my ride at 4:44. The reservationist asked me to call at five about my 5:30 request. When I did that, they couldn’t fit me in until 6:06. the options were to sit for an hour, cancel the ride and take a cab, or try to find someone to get me home and call back in to cancel. However, — because it was so close to an hour before the ride — if I called around to find alternatives and called back in to cancel, I’d get another late cancellation penalty for this ride. I took a cab home, and luckily it wasn’t very far.

Some areas of the house are clearing of mouse stink, and thank God one area is the closet! Now I can do laundry and feel comfortable hanging clothes there again. If the weather ever warms up, I’ll be able to wear spring and summer clothing, but tonight and tomorrow a late winter storm may produce a foot of snow here in the Twin Cities. I’ll be doing laundry and putting together a newsletter which should have been done a week or two ago. I don’t have to go anywhere until Saturday, and hopefully by then, this horrible mid-April weather will turn back to traditional mid-April weather.

It doesn’t sound like the colonoscopy prep is as unpleasant as it used to be. I won’t be drinking any “go lightly. I start a clear liquid diet and hold my iron the day before the procedure. Then I take some pills at noon and starting at six that night drink powder with no taste mixed in some Gaideraid which can be any color/flavor except red. At nine the morning of the procedure I drink something which isn’t too tasty but which can be chased by some clear liquid. I stop drinking or eating anything by ten, and I’m to be at the hospital by 12:15 for a 1:00 procedure. I was assured there was no stomach upset or being up all night in the bathroom.

Meanwhile, Phil is finishing up his application for the position about which I wrote in an update not long ago. We are hoping April will be the hospital-free month for both of us, and since the application process closes on April 24, perhaps I’ll get a late birthday Present of having Phil called in for an interview. Then he’ll get a birthday present at the end of May when he’s offered the job. OK, one can dream.

I’ll close with a paragraph for anyone who has a smart phone and enjoys dice. Dice World is a free app with Yahtzee, Farkle, Pig, and a fourth game I’m still learning. One can remove adds for $1.99, and people can play each other across the net and chat within the game. We’ve had spotty success with other games while playing on the net, but this one is rock solid. This has really helped Phil’s dialysis go more quickly, and we’re both having fun playing games with each other and other people. It’s all the rage in the blind community, because the developer is really going the extra mile to make the game accessible for us. So if you like dice games, look us up. My Dice World user name is RebeccaK425, and Phil’s is PMK.

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