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

Archive for December, 2013

Kragnes Kard and Karol, 2013

To the Tune of “My Favorite Things”
All year long we try to be self-sufficient.
But like most people we are not omniscient.
We still need help. Upon others we lean.
Here are our helpers in 2013.
Some help’s professional some volunteer.
We reimburse costs for some who are here.
Paid or unpaid or somewhere in between,
Appreciated help, 2013!
When the mice squeaked,
A dog was sick,
Both would drive us mad.
We called on our helpers in 2013, to maintain the Kragnes pad.

Help with the lawn and not only snow shoveled,
Fixing our dryer when it was in trouble.
A mom and son who helped keep the house clean.
Some of our helpers in 2013.
One with her own verse, our volunteer reader.
Came once a week as we really did need her,
Read mail, tossed many a print magazine,
Essential helper in 2013.
Read directions,
Sensitive when,
Had to read bad news,
Without a good reader in 2013, we’d most likely have the blues.

Thanks to the radio people who broadcast,
Whether it’s live or replayed on a podcast.
To uplift moods they don’t have to be seen.
They made a difference in 2013.
Outside the home, healthcare and transportation,
Requiring many folks’ participation.
To name them would need an infinite screen,
Important helpers in 2013.
Dialysis,
Lots of therapists,
Getting there and back.
Without these great helpers in 2013, our lives would be so off-track!

Watching dogs while we were in the hospital,
Being there when we were stressed, just a little,
List’ning and reading when life felt so mean.
You were our helpers in 2013.
A constant presence at home or an errand,
This last verse is for our Zane and our Garron,
Smart, loving puppy-dogs with eyes so keen.
Very big helpers in 2013!
Right before us,
The last chorus,
Then the letter ends.
So Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all family and friends!

Protests, Injustice, and Organizations

When I sat down to supper with Phil tonight, I asked him if there is anything in which he believed for which he would be willing to break another law. I learned today that a friend who had never been arrested recently protested for a cause and purposefully got himself arrested. It was an organized protest in front of an office, and when there was no response, the protesters went into the street and blocked traffic in one direction. When the police came, my friend was among the tenth of the people who did not remove himself from the street, and after many warnings, he and the others were arrested. The cause had nothing to do with traffic. In my younger days, I would have simply scoffed at anyone who protested like this, but these days I can see the courage in doing it. I still don’t think breaking one law in protest of something completely different does much good. I think there are negative implications regarding inconveniencing others and diverting police attention from people who more urgently need to be arrested.

If I had been a Black person in the era of Jim Crow laws, I very well may have sat at lunch counters which was illegal at that time. I can understand breaking the very law against which one is protesting, and in this particular case, less people and possibly no one are being inconvenienced. After all, white people sat at lunch counters, and other white people had to wait their turn. Getting arrested for breaking a law for which one is protesting makes sense – at least sometimes.

There are times when breaking the same rule about which one is protesting is inappropriate. For example, I’m glad blind people refusing to remove themselves from exit rows are not as common today. I understand that in the 80’s, a group of blind people wanted to change the rule which eliminated them from sitting in the exit row seats on airplanes. They believed they could help others out of the plane and do anything else required of them in the event of an emergency. So they purposely sat in exit rows and wouldn’t move when asked. I heard about people being carried out of the plane because of this. If I had been unfortunate enough to be on a plane when this was happening, I would have been angry and would have gone right along with the majority of passengers clambering that blind people get their butts out of those seats, so the plane could take off. Unlike sitting at a lunch counter, I don’t see sitting in the exit row as a right, and I definitely don’t think it does anyone — blind or sighted — any favors to sit there to prove how independent blind people are.

After discussion of these things, Phil and I couldn’t help turning next to the recent case of a blind man who was removed from the plane with his guide dog. The plane was on the ground for an hour, and although the dog was moved under another passenger’s feet, as time progressed, he moved back out in the aisle. Then the flight attendant copped at attitude, and a representative of the airline came on and removed them. According to TV interviews the man with the guide dog has given, it was only at this point that the man became combative — especially when he discovered he was the only person being removed from the plane. frankly, I would have too. I know this person well enough to know he would be ready to do as much as he could do to not inconvenience others. He and I served on the board of Guide Dog Users INC. (GDUI) together for a year, and although we were ready to fight for our right to have our dogs with us, he and I had conversations about having to try to be ambassadors and good representatives as guide dog users.

It is well documented and well-known in the blind community that the current president of Guide Dog Users Incorporated has no love for the man removed from the plane. I was caught in the crossfire between the two of them before I finished my term on the board. I wasn’t surprised that the organization did not come out in support of him, but I was deeply saddened. I was discreetly asking a board member some questions about what was going on in GDUI and quietly asked about this issue. I was told that no other organizations had come out in support of him, and the appropriateness of the man’s behavior in the scenario was questioned. The next day, someone else much more publicly asked some of the same questions I did privately about how an organization supposedly advocating for guide dog teams wasn’t supporting this team. This same board member accused me of somehow orchestrating this more public confrontation. I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

The paranoia of this board and president doesn’t seem to have any bounds. People have been kicked off the board without going through any of the processes set up in the constitution for dealing with such issues. I find this truly ironic, because during a meeting when I was GDUI’s secretary, the person who would later become the current president protested against actions taken against others simply because they weren’t liked. I respected her for calling people out for being unjust, and it was one of the many reasons I considered her a friend at the time.

The newsletter editor has quit, because an editorial board was convened to approve articles. This job typically falls under the duties of an editor. However, the editorial board — comprised solely of members appointed by the president — was convened after more than one viewpoint of events in the organization was discussed in the newsletter before her resignation. Free speech has been similarly curtailed on official lists of the organization. I was asked to write my regular column in the latest newsletter and decided in good conscience, I couldn’t do it. This entry is probably full of the ideas about which I may have written.

Neither this writing nor any future actions of protest I may take will get me arrested, but I hope it will make some waves. It’s important that people realize many members are dropping GDUI like a hot potato, and until some semblance of order and balance is restored, I don’t believe GDUI deserves one red cent of donations! When I came on the board of Guide Dog Users INC., I was proud of the organization. During my term, I saw that especially the GDUI board definitely had egotistical people, personality conflicts and serious deficiencies. Still, I was proud to be a member. Just a year and a half later, I’m disgusted by the obvious cowardice, lack of compassion, and favoritism in GDUI leadership. The only reason I am even considering becoming a member again is to get these people out of office in case the drop in membership hasn’t already destroyed the organization. Whatever decision I make regarding rejoining GDUI in 2014, it will be an act of protest.

Last Few Days and MushroomFM

These past few days have been a mixed blessing. I did pretty well at my IDS Crystal Court gig allowing me to pay for dinner and the cleaning for this week. I’m at about ninety percent and have finished the antibiotics. That’s good, because I maybe out shoveling snow tomorrow.

Phil’s hearing is not back to normal yet. He tells me every human voice sounds like a smurf. The antibiotics have also caused periods of extreme stomach upset, heart burn, and acid reflux. He landed in the ER this morning, because some bumps on his skin began bleeding over the weekend and wouldn’t stop. Some were skin tags which he freely admits he should have left alone. But in other cases, he didn’t know what started the bleeding. When on anticlotting medication, things don’t scab over as easily. We don’t know of a lot of Over the Counter things to stop bleeding. They had some foam which seemed to seal off the bleeding.

I had a fairly good night at the Malt Shop which allowed me to buy Phil’s lunch when he forgot to make it today and was in a hurry to get to the ER.

Saturday night after dinner, I received word that the Internet radio station called MushroomFM ceased broadcasting. I never dreamed when I wrote the Open Letter to Present and past MushroomFM Staff that it would be so soon after there would be no more MushroomFM. Yes, I would have loved to broadcast there, but that’s not the main reason I’m sad. I was intrigued when I found out the station had the same birthday as mine — give or take only a few years. Their slogan was “The Home of the Fun-Guys”. They threw elaborate birthday weekend events. During the second birthday weekend in 2012, we went on a virtual cruise on the Good ship Fungus. This year the birthday celebrations were held in the Aagarette Castle in Scotland. There were drawings for big prizes at the end of each celebration. I won a Mushroom FM Tote bag in 2012 and this year a MushroomFM keychain shaped like the castle with its four turrets blasting out the music genre of the presenter for which each was named. As in Harry Potter, listeners and “Fun-Guys” stayed in each turret, and points could be given or taken away from each turret by “Fun-Guys”. I think of the Shroom every time I touch it. The presenters also put together a murder mystery to solve this year. At each birthday celebration, they played the first song ever on the station “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung and another song I really thought was the stations anthem called “Keeping the Dream Alive”. It was the first time I’d ever heard the song or the group, and I fell in love with it.

In the summer there was MushroomStock at Fungus field where an audio virtual concert atmosphere was created, and through the power of live digital music, musicians long broken up reunited, and the dead rose for one last hurrah.

I was only around for one Christmas countdown. We all submitted our top ten favorite Christmas songs, and they were tallied and played over several hours. I wisely put my top ten in a folder and listened to them today. I considered that one of my final gifts from MushroomFM

Most of the presenters were blind, but not all of them. There are other stations with blind DJ’s, but I haven’t heard any with the consistent professionalism across DJ’s as as on the Shroom. The Shroom had over 40 presenters and the most live programming in its genre.

I valued the fact that the Shroom kept podcasts of the latest shows available for listeners. If I couldn’t hear something, I could always grab the podcast or listen to a replay of it in “the Can” which was on when there was no live programming. I’m glad I kept copies of some of the shows including the Christmas countdown. Tonight I listened to the last show ever broadcast on the station, and the next to last song was “Keeping the Dream Alive”. That song will be forever linked with the Shroom. Incidentally, the last one was a song Shroom Founder Jonathan Mosen absolutely detests, but even he laughed along. I’m glad they didn’t end with the anthem, because there was a lot of laughter on the Shroom!!

Jonathan Mosen Founder of the Shroom is a brilliant man who is creative and funny. He has recently made some life changes and can’t devote the time to the station he feels is necessary. He picked several internal candidates to take it over, but none of the three could commit to it. Everyone is an armchair quarterback, and I can’t help wondering what may have happened if he had chosen to open it up to people or even groups other than these three. In any case, although some would say that the Shroom was about one person, I disagree. Every person associated with the station made it what it was.

MushroomFM was more than just a radio station. Presenters (AKA DJ’s) came to know their listeners quite well and often picked out songs they either thought or knew a particular listener would like. It wasn’t just music, which bonded us — although it did. Some DJ’s known which kind of food and wine their listeners preferred. It sounds trite to say we were a family, but perhaps better said we were a community. Presenters and listeners interacted on the social network Twitter and sometimes through e-mail. I loved learning about new music or facts about songs and musicians. As I said it my post last week, MushroomFM was there during times when Phil was in the hospital or there were other bad things going on. I certainly intend to keep in touch as the presenters find other stations on which to broadcast. Some may not broadcast at all or take a long break before they do
I wasn’t lying when I said friendships were formed on the Shroom, and I’ll do my part to maintain them.

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