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Adventures in the Life of a Blind Computer Geek #anticipation November 23, 2016 keith

Or, the Joys, and Risks of Computer Upgrades

Decided to see if my desktop computer would upgrade to Windows 10. I reserved a copy shortly after it was released, but balked for months. Then I discovered my video card might not have compatible drivers. Not to mention, I knew my screen reader technology wasn’t going to work either. No voice for me, and no screen for an assistant to look at for help. Not going to happen.

Lately, I’ve been hearing how much improved Narrator is in the latest releases, and my fallback screen reader, NVDA has been up to speed with Win10 for some time. Should I? Or shouldn’t I?

I’ve been using Windows 10 with growing success, and ease on my old Dell laptop, but it bit the dust with hard drive failure. Windows 7 is still a good workhorse for what I use my desktop for, but since my laptop died, it has had to double more as a personal computer, instead of being strictly a home file server. I finally decided to check on updating. No system errors about video drivers. All I gotta do is ditch my age old, tried and true screen reader… gulp…

OK, let’s do this thing.

I sat, watching the progress bars tick slowly by, missing a chat session I like to hang out in. Tick, tick, tick. “You may continue using your computer while Windows updates,” my computer cheerfully told me. So I did. There I sat, comparing files from my back up drive, to motes I have on my web site. Yeah, I know, exciting stuff, but it kept me busy while I waited the process of files trickling from Microsoft to my humble little hard drive.

The process completed, software began doing it’s behind the scenes black magic, and starting yet another process of checking for updates, and upgrading the upgrade. After agonizing minutes that bled into hours, an empty stomach, and drooping eyelids, it was time to abandon the computer to take all the time it wants, while its human component shuts down for the night. With a fresh boot up in the morning, it was time to see where my computer left off, or if it needed human interaction to continue.

It needed to know which of my adaptive software to remove. Grudgingly, I said goodbye to my screen reader, fired up my back up, and clicked. I was soon greeted by an error that brought the update to a halt, and a reboot was demanded. How rude. Good news and bad news awaited.

The bad news. I was going to have to restart the update process from scratch. All those hours of waiting, lost. And the thrill of more endless hours was in my future… well, not exactly.

The good news. Using an alternate method of getting the update started, I saved an easy 3 hours, and probably more.

Within a short time the initial installing was done, but now comes the cycle of reboots, and waiting, as things still aren’t quite to the point of talking to me. About 2 hours in, I finally have some assistance to look at my screen… 37%. More waiting, but at least I know there’s progress. I can get back to it after breakfast, and a pot of coffee. I can also tend to a misbehaving sump pump, and a semi-flooded basement. Ah, real life encroaches on my fantasy, cyber reality.

Will Windows finally load? I’m sure it will, just gotta wait for it. Will the sump kick in and start pumping water again? I’m sure, its main problem seems to be a clog. Putting in a substitute pump we borrowed, while the other gets cleaned out. For now, we’ll just have to wait, tackle the small things that come our way, and anticipate the best.

PS: Thanks to #DailyPost, and the #dailyprompt: Anticipation

Crazy Pilgrim Friends #ThanksgivingCarol November 20, 2016 keith

Or: My Lame Thanksgiving Carol.

Pilgrims feast, and then grow fat.
So sad, but way too quirky;
They need full bellies of deer and turkey.
Or pants could fall down, with buckles on shoes and hats.

A harsh winter carved numbers down;
But harvest gave plenty for all.
So we now celebrate with football.
Pass, punt, and kick! Touchdown!

Chorus:
O, Pilgrims and indians can be friends;
And so can we, to the end.
Don’t be so jerky,
Ad pass me the turkey.
O, the Pilgrims and indians can be friends.

A Lifestyle of Waiting October 18, 2016 keith

People tell me, “it’ll be OK.” They offer encouragement, advice, or relate what happened to them, or somebody they know, But nobody offers real solutions. I’m told that government programs will meet my needs, but the process is endless.

Strangers poke their nose into my business. They want an exact accounting of my personal life. Income, expenses, assets, lifestyle, medical, not to mention the endless forms to fill out. Papers filed, with what seems like the same information. Endless papers, endless and tedious waiting for my piece of paper to filter down the stack, and finally reach a human being who can make a decision. Will the support really be enough? I’ve heard that line before, and the assistance turns out to be barely enough, and plenty enough to keep me buried well below the poverty line. I’m assured the wait is worth it.

So, here I am, Waiting, without recourse. No body to ask where my piece of paper is in the stack. Excruciating nothingness screeching through my head with the mystery of what will happen to me. Where do I stand in this process of waiting. Where am I down the dark tunnel of red tape. No ray of light, and no way to talk to anybody who knows how long.

“Just wait,” is the official word. “Why the long wait?” is the question on the lips of everybody. Mental numbness, and the only lame response I can offer is, “I don’t know.”

I’m told it’ll be worth it. The longer they take, the more back pay I’ll receive. That’s nice, but what about now? What about where my next meal is coming from? What about how I’m going to pay my housing, or utilities, or provide for my kids? What am I supposed to do, pack myself up into a closet, pack myself into mothballs, and wait? How long? Should I just tell my bill collectors to just wait for… Oh I don’t know… sometime in the undetermined future… and don’t worry, it’ll be worth it. I’ll be telling them that from the homeless shelter, while I wait with a better response in a soup line.

I called once, and the stock answer was it can take ten months. I wish it were ten months. I was told that over 6 years ago. I would love a decision in ten months, it would be an answer to prayers. An end to a long, slow, decline into the dark, endless tunnels of time and red tape. Why so long? I don’t know. When will I hear where I stand in the waiting list? I don’t know. When will somebody contact me? I don’t know.

Agonizing.

But wait. What happens if the hidden decision makers of my fate tell me something is missing in my papers, or I used the wrong form, or I used the wrong wording that isn’t in the dictionaries and lexicons of government lingo? I get to refile my papers, and go back to the end of the line… and wait. Believe me, this is a reality. I know, because it has already happened.

Don’t worry. I’m doing OK. I manage. I keep on keeping on. But while I plod through life, and keep busy… I wait…

Wait…

Wait…

Wait…

DailyPrompt:

I Could Really Use a Cup of Coffee, or an Asperin, or a Long Nap October 13, 2016 keith

What a day. I feel like a fire hose has been going off in my head. Information overload. Cramming data, doing word searches, cross referencing, gathering, and packing it in. Where will it all go? How will I use it to make sense of the topic I need? There’s way too much. I’ll never need all this data. What should I focus on? All I need from all this squirreling away is enough to cover an outline to last ffor 20 minutes.

I can’t think any more. All this is sounding the same. My back is beginning to ache, sitting in this easy chair. I should have went to my office. I love my office chair, the back support is so nice.

Finally reached the bottom of my resource list. Now to smooth things out, sift through the data… Heck no. Forget that. I need to just let it cool off, and get back to it tomorrow. Gotta give my brain, and back a rest, besides…

What now? The phone is ringing. Hmm… It’s time to grab a bite of dinner… It’s my brother… OK, I can talk, and munch on a hot dog. Decompressing… but the nice little chat turns into a long one. Missed a phone call. Oh well. I’ll call them back, just as soon as…Well not now, it’s time for another appointment, and an hour long meeting.

I can’t help thinking of all that scrambled data. I’ve already released it in my mind to return to later, so I’m not worried about giving it space in my head. Still, what will it all mean? What direction do I need to go in paring it down. Just a 15 minute outline, that’s all I need. I know I said 20 minutes, but it always seems easier to go longer than shorter when doing the presentation.

I still feel like my head has been pelted, and power washed with firehoses. I need a cup of coffee… no… it’s too late for that. I’d never get to sleep. A shower. That’s what I need. A nice hot shower, and relax in bed with a book, until I drift off to sleep. A good night’s rest, then I can get bogged down with miore projects I’m behind on… mailing list, follow up ccalls, notes to write, and 0post for the podcast…. the blog… the… I need a shower, and maybe a couple of asperin for my aching back.

The End of a Bad Day October 12, 2016 keith

Or: Water Babies

Janet returned to the living room after tucking the baby in for the night. Sitting back in her spot on the couch next to Dean, she commented, “You should probably be going home now.”

“But, we’re finally alone,” Dean replied, knowing full well that Janet wouldn’t stand for him staying any later, but what kind of boyfriend would he be if he didn’t tease her a little? “I’ve been good. I even helped you out with the little squirt, and her bratty brother.”

“That’s right,” Janet remarked, pleased at Dean’s maturity. “It wouldn’t be right for the babysitter to have company over, and you’ve been here long enough. And I’m so proud of you for behaving. Especially when Zack turned out to be the kid from the park that had been bothering you.”

“Yeah, and it’s been awfully hard not to kill him,” Dean grinned to himself over his good deed. “Don’t I deserve something special for that?”

“Yes, you do,” Janet replied as she looked deeply into his eyes, “but you still can’t stay. It wouldn’t look right to have you stay late.”

“Not even for a few minutes?” asked Dean innocently. “I won’t tell, and nobody will ever have to know.”

“No,” was her answer. “I’m getting paid for an overnight babysitting job, and if the parents thought that included an all night boy friend, nobody would ever trust me again to sit up with their kids. I’ve already let you stay longer than I should have Now go home before your mom starts to worry about you.”

“My mom won’t worry about me if I don’t get home until late,” Dean said.

“Don’t tell me that,” Janet gave him an accusing look.

“She wouldn’t worry about me,” Dean finished, “she’d be a lot more worried about you, if I got home too late.” With that Dean gave Janet a quick kiss on the cheek and headed for the door.

Just as he stood in the door, he heard the commanding voice behind him say. “Stop right there mister. Come back here and give me a real good night kiss.” After the long embrace, the young couple separated, and Janet again told him, “You did so well with Zack tonight. Taking him popcorn to his room, even after he locked himself in to hide from you.”

“It was nothing,” was Dean’s modest response. “The kid needed something, since he skipped having supper with the rest of us. He sure seemed thirsty though.”

“You’re so sweet.” purred Janet.

“I kept telling him not to fill up on the sodas. Too much of that stuff will make a kid pee the bed or something.”

“Dean,” Janet scolded, “you didn’t say that to him did you?”

“Well, it’s true.” Dean defended himself. “He shouldn’t drink so many, especially right before bedtime.”

As Dean disappeared out the door, he called over his shoulder, “Give me a call when you’re ready to leave tomorrow. I’ll pick you up. Let me know if the kid wakes up in a water bed.” Dean’s laughter at his joke lingered in Janet’s mind as she wartvhed the tail lights disappear down the street.

Back in the house Janet turned down the lights, and flipped through the channels on TV. In her bedroom, the baby was cozy, warm, and dreaming peacefully. In Zack’s room, where he had been remorseful at his misdeeds during the day, then terrified of his sitter’s boyfriend, then confused at the nice treatment from him, had just awakened after drifting off to sleep some time earlier. “I guess I’d better turn off the light, and get some sleep,” Zack mumbled as he kicked the little pile of empty soda cans out of his way, where they laid in the floor of his room. How many did he drink anyway? There had to be at least six… maybe eight empties. As he drifted off to sleep, he began to have a strange dream. One where he had an incredible urge to use a restroom, but there wasn’t any to be found.

Note: If you feel like you’ve missed something here, go back and read the earlier misadventures of Zack, and his day of misbehaving.

Disclaimer This has been a complete work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, place, or event is purely coincidental.

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