Turn It Off & Turn It On Again

As I was going through the early stages of sight loss i never thought using a computer would be possible again. i found myself using a tiny magnifier which turned print into a magical new readable size on all of the letters from the gas company and the council tax letting me how much money i couldn’t afford to pay. But when it came to using the same lens to read the ever growing world of intrusive weirdo’s studying your every move on social media, the magnifier just wouldnt cut the mustard. Instead of the magical large print, all I ended up with was an enlarged pupil as if I had been popping the wrong kind of happy pills.
So after pretty much going day in and day out with a headache trying to read my conked out windows 98 cobwebbed covered PC for over a year, I was introduced to Dolphin computer systems. Having not known previously that dolphins knew anything about PC’s, I thought the person telling me was taking the piss. It turns out he was doing anything but.
At the time I was not a tech guy at all. I knew my way around a computer but that was about it. Everyone reading this should of course know what the basics are, I knew enough to take a PC apart and clean the fan to stop it over heating. Not that advanced really. So, when I discovered Dolphin Computer Systems I was very interested to see how it could help me.
Supernova which is the system I use myself is a screenreader along with screen magnification, I have no idea how it works and the binary doesn’t really bother me. But the simple fact is, it is life changing. In a world which is dominated by computers, Supernova gives me the ability to work in a professional environment effectivley. In fact, i am confident enough to say that it puts me on an equal playing field with most sighted people. For me thhe only problem is, it can’t always keep up with the speed I type at.
To Give you an idea of what the software does, and this makes it sound very simple when I am sure it isn’t. Basically, everything I type, everything I am looking at is both magnified and i spoken aloud to me, As someone who spent far to long playing championship manager giving myself worse headaches than Jagameister does, this is a big relief.
On a professional level it gives me the ability to work without restrictions on computing and frankly without it, I honestly couldn’t do my job. I couldnt write this blog and probably wouldn’t ve anywhere near the person I am now.

Dolpin themselves are a really good company with years of experience and I am always happy to promote their products not only on my blog but at the shop that I run in Cheltenham called Insight Gloucestershire. They have computer colutins to suit all needs and should you get stuck there friendly team are always on hand to jump on your machine and sort it out for you.

This is the first product review i have done on the blog, i am going to post a link to the Dolphin website. Please do let me know if you get pictures of Dolphins come up and not the market leader in accessible PC solutions as intended. If I am being totally honest I am using my Humanware Prodigi to write this blog. (sorry Dolphin).

http://www.yourdolphin.com

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Blind Dating and Awkward Romance

Dating and romance, here we go, buckle up everyone, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. If you can excuse the pun there I would like to talk about the miserable world of dating. I hate it, I am not good at it and it makes me feel awkward. God I am a catch with my sweaty forehead and clammy hands. Ok, so I will take you out for a meal and you can watch me bat some peas around my plate and observe as gravy drips off my beard onto my un-ironed shirt because I was too afraid to burn my fingers. Good times indeed. Do you want me to walk you home? Tough, I can’t find my way home without you. This is just the start of the crazy world of dating that I have found myself in. It’s all well and good to pull out a chair for your lady of choosing or even opening the door for her,  but you got to find the damn thing first. So as your trying to impress her with your normal personality and charm, the inevitable problems of sight loss which you are desperately trying not to show to often all come crashing around you. The nerves jangle, the wine bottle get’s knocked over, you look silly groping around doors, you walk into the wrong toilets and you most likely trip over a step banging into the Jones’s on table four with their kids laughing at you. Great date, we should do it again sometime.

That’s it, you failed, better get back onto POF or Tinder too get rejected by every other unemployed single mum in the northern hemisphere. Ok, here we go again. I managed to lure the last one with some cheeky one liners, after a whole load of pointless pandering to each other we realise that yes, you are the one for me. So we do it all over again. Repeat stage one and fail all over again. This dating lark is tough.

If I can offer a word of advice, don’t ever do speed dating with out research first. The bars can be dark, and there is a lot of movement. Not the good kind of movement either. Check to see if there are mirrors on the wall, as good looking as you may be, you aren’t going to get anywhere by chatting up yourself in the mirror. lastly, try to be sure that the person you are talking to is indeed a of the right sexuality that you desire. It’s awful when you are chatting up someone thinking it’s a girl and then your mates come over to inform you that in fact it’s a dude with long hair and skinny jeans. These blokes should be banned. If you ask me. Its just too confusing.

So yes, I am still single. I don’t expect this post is going to help my chances of finding anyone anytime soon but hey, somethings you just have to get off your chest right? At the end of it all, I just find that online dating is very judgemental. It has turned me into a left swiper sometimes just because the girl is on there with a picture of a bloke, could be her dad for all I know. But for some reason my brain is going into overload and my finger just can’t stop but swipe left and say know. That’s another potential love match gone. Ah well, there’s only another three billion or so women left on the planet to get rejected by. But there is someone for everyone so she has to be out there somewhere right? If you see her can you let her know I am waiting. Chances are I will end up living with 52 cats in a bungalow crying into a pillow.

That’s it for now

 Just to clarify this is not a rant at anyone in particular, it is merely Real Life Humour.

MRWG

Blind Dating and Awkward Romance

Fancy a Game?

For as long as I can remember I have loved sports, both watching and playing. After losing my sight playing sport became a little bit of an after thought, I mean I was blind, what sport could I possibly do. Having no idea that there is a whole world of sports adapted to suit disabled people. Now I use that term very lightly indeed. Disabled should not be a word used to described some of the incredible people. Talented beyond belief. Differently abled is more suitable. People with disabilities yes, but the ability to play sports at a higher level that I could even dream of when I was fully able bodied.

So, not that I had any aspiration to be anywhere near Paralympic level, I started trawling the internet on my tiny mobile phone which was pretty well useless. Tech at the time was no where near what it is now. My efforts to find some kind of sport I could play in resulted in me playing tiddlywinks at an old peoples home. Mrs Smith had the years on me and beat me every time. I am sure she was cheating some how. Don’t even get me started on Reg and Arthur. Those boys knew every tiddlywinks trick in the book.

I gave up looking for what I could join in the end and decided I  had to take matters into my own hands. After a lot of hard work and getting the group which is now known as Outlook off the ground I, along with a few others founded the Gloucestershire Visually Impaired County Cricket Club. A sport I had never played before one late summers day some five years ago now. It seems like just yesterday.

Blind cricket you say? You must be mad!!! Well, the truth is, I probably am a bit mad but you have to be to start such a venture. Cricket after all is a game played with eleven players and at the time we had 6. Great squad numbers I know. At the time I was dubious, many conversations would take place between myself and the coach at the time about whether or not we could get it off the ground and make it work. It seemed unlikely to ever happen when we turn up a the ground for only 3 or 4 people to be there most without any knowledge of cricket at all. But hey, you have to start somewhere right?

Over the years we have grown and attracted players from far and wide. Even people from the mighty cricketing nation of Wales. It is advantageous to have Wales so close as they do not have a blind cricket team these day’s. We are close enough for people to jump on a train and come to join us so thank you Wales.

So the team now known as the Gloucestershire Growlers after one infamous afternoon in a wooden shack in Gloucester have developed into a good unit. We have our moments of brilliance where very few batsman can touch our bowling, we have our moments of epic fails where we can lose a game on the last ball as someone runs when it was wiser not too. But with all of the mishaps and all of the good cricket our motley crew produce, it is always fun. The bus journeys are full of laughter, the banter is always on point and you can always guarantee a good pint after the game (or before in some cases) not that we endorse it.

At the end of it all when I look back to all of the struggles and the hours spent to form the embers of what is now a club burning brighter and brighter every season, you have to say, it was all worth it. Friendships for life are formed, exercise is always good and my trophy shelf has some welcome additions which for a while I didn’t think would happen. After all there is no prize for winning tiddlywinks at an old persons home.

That’s it for now

Speak soon

MRWG.

 

 

Fancy a Game?

Moses of the High Street

From the heading of this blog you can probably tell what it’s going to be all about. Humour me though.

It took me an awful long time to even consider picking up a white cane even though I knew it would help me. There was always that stigma of finally admitting yeah, you are blind. I didn’t want to be that guy. So I continued to not use a cane and continued to bump into things and trip over God knows what was left in the streets. Be the A-Boards or the tables and chairs outside the Costa Coffee (other coffee shops are available). But as many times as I would walk into something and end looking like a fool with arms and legs waving around trying to regain some sort of dignity from the situation, I still refused to pick up the dreaded cane of doom.

With pressure from colleagues and one all mighty fall over a tree stump (seriously, who put that there) I decided to go for it and start some training with a long cane. If I had to use one word to describe the first time I through that thing around the streets of Stroud, it would have to be terrifying. This was is, I am now looking at a whole life of blindness, I finally had to accept who I now was and instead of being worried about I have to now embrace it.

After a few training sessions I was allowed to keep my very first cane and use it all by myself. The stabilisers were off and there was no stopping me now. Apart from the over hanging trees of course, I will cover them in another post.

For me the freedom that a long cane gives you over a symbol cane or no cane at all of matter is overwhelming. I feel confident, people notice it and above all it has become an extension of my arm. Gliding and guiding me from place to place with seem less effort, but the best thing of all is that you could be walking along the high street in a busy town and you are quite simply, as the heading would suggest, The Moses of the High Street. Just like the  red sea did for him, the people part for me. It’s actually quite amazing.

Since using my cane I have moved towns and started a whole new life away from the place I spent my whole life in. But truthfully, it was the best decision I ever made. Pushing myself to achieve things is what life has been about for some time now and that will no be changing any time soon.

The morale of this story is that what helps you doesn’t always seem appealing to you when you are first going through sight loss. However in your own time, when you can accept the condition and learn to live with it, there are many, many products that are designed to help and make a big difference in your life. But it has to be when you are ready and not before. It must never be pushed upon you, you will know when the time is right.

That’s it for now, Until next time.

All the best

MRWG

Status

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

Today I want to talk about the good the bad and the ugly sides of being partially sighted. I am going to look at some of the more interesting aspects of the journeys I have been through, be it emotional or physical.

Granted to many it would probably seem like there are very few upsides to being partially sighted but you would be wrong. For one thing I have a free bus pass. Well free to a point at least, before 9.30am and after 11pm the bus companies seem to think we have magically been given our sight back so the bus pass becomes obsolete, just sat in my wallet craving attention like the Nectar card that hasn’t seen the light of day since I first got tricked into having it. Don’t even get me started on the Matalan card. But hey, for every other journey it is totally free. Thank you HMRC.

A second up side is the tax allowance, an allowance of £2000 on top of the generous £10500 of our hard earned money that we are allowed to keep. Good work Nick Clegg. (if memory serves). Fair play the Lib Dems didn’t do much with the small amount of power they managed to blag somehow but I do believe raising the tax threshold was their idea. Thumbs up for that one.

Blind sports is another brilliant upside. I simply love team sports, I always did and I always will. Being able to play cricket with sight loss for me is incredible. I used to be quite good but then my sight got worse and now I see double all the time and I am never quite sure which ball I am meant to be hitting. This would be one for the bad sides. Double vision is a real pain in  the arse. I have always said since its onset, I can live with sight loss but the constant double vision just gets on my nerves. It makes me feel dizzy. This brings me onto my second downside. Sight loss and a dodgy ear. Not sure if these go hand in hand, there is no reason to suggest it does but my left ear is useless. As such my balance is awful. I could be completely sober but look like I have been on a bender with a group of randy darts players. I do try and be as positive about as many things as I can be so I keep downsides to a minimum and to be fair randy darts players does sound like a fun weekend.

The left eye not being straight to me is ugly, I have seen it close up in a photo and I don’t like it. In fact I hate it, this brings me to the ugly, now I haven’t seen myself in a mirror for nearly 10 years, when I look into a mirror for all I know I am looking at a blank wall. In fact I am quite sure a lot of the time I am. But I do know one thing, the ugly side of sight loss is not from looking in the mirror at my once perfect reflection, it is from the narrow minded people that treat you like second rate citizens. Many times I have been out with friends or family members and people find it fun to hurl abuse my way for whatever reason. It used to really get me down until I realised that ugly is exactly what they are. There’s no decency to a person that can talk to a total stranger in such ways, just ugliness.

There are many more positive things I will talk about in the future but I can’t give all of my secrets away straight away now can I.

Until next time

All the best

MRWG

 

The Good the Bad and the Ugly