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nanowrimo 2010

Louderblog

Diary of a Blind Madman

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First week at AlphaPointe
nanowrimo 2010
louderback
Saturday 6 July
Jefferson City, a 4am invasion and a day of catching up.
Morning came too early at 4:00. My nephew Darrell arrived with three friends, Darrell, Sean, and Donnie, I think. They rang the bell at 4:00 and my mother was up and at the door before I could rouse myself. I was awake, but my trazedone leaves me groggy in the extreme. I couldn't bring myself to move for perhaps twenty or thirty seconds. They were on their way to the Lake of the Ozarks and needed a place to stay. Apparently their hotel over booked them out of a room. The price of using cheap internet reservation systems, I suppose. I never had that sort of trouble in the olden times when I used my own credit card and the telephone to get a room.

In any event, I did not go back to sleep. I made myself some toaster pancakes, topped them with an over-easy egg and snarfed my breakfast quickly. I then began on this project. It has taken me since about 5:10 this morning to complete this (it is now 13:25). About another 30 minutes will be required to finish this off and paste it into my journal (I write all of this stuff in CoffeeCup HTML editor - my favorite such software.

Janet and Bill took off to Buckhorn for a local Bike rally. Darrell and friends came upstairs about noon. The boys (well, men, they're all 21 or over) were new to me. My mother knew the second Darrell, he having been my nephew's friend from High School. The other boys were newcomers. All four boys are exceedingly handsome. Pretty people do tend to hang together. They loaded up their cars and cut out quickly. Off on some holiday activity.

The order of the day today is laundry. I'll do a week's worth and take two weeks worth back to KC with me. I may stay over next weekend. I may also ride Amtrak back to JC on the 19th Just to do it. I haven't been on a train for about thirty years. I guess I rode the El in Chicago for about a block back in 98. I can't count that as riding the train. If I did I might as well count the airport shuttles.

More later, perhaps.
Friday 5 July
AlphaPointe, Friday after a holiday and an expedition.
Friday was the day after a holiday. In any shop that is the day when everyone who can takes the day off and those who do appear don't work hard. Such was the case at AlphaPointe.

I met twice with Clay who came in a few minutes late. Susanne spelled him, giving me a test orally until he arrived.

Susanne is the chatelaine of the group and this particular castle. Secretary does her injustice, executive assistant is inappropriate. I suppose factotum is the correct word but it too is out of fashion. She does everything, knows everything, sees all, hears all, and is the linchpin of the whole operation.

I had a slightly embarrasing moment with Susanne. She handles herself well and does not use a cane so I handed her a bit of paper and asked her what it said. She looked at me and said "I don't know." It was my first clue that she had vision problems. Several people negotiate the area quite well. I don't know if anyone on the staff has vision problems besides Jim and Susanne.

Shojun took me on the 13:00 bus. We rode it from 29th street about two blocks north to Crown Center. We found there a movie theatre, several restaurants, and the hotel. We walked through the catwalks (remember those things that collapsed?) to the old Union Station. There is nothing of trains remaining. It has been filled with a food court. I understand there is a train somewhere around, but nobody knew where. The Amtrak station is just down the street. We walked so much that I became exhausted. I wasn't really tired, but when I walk very far (more than a city block) my feet begin to hurt. Because of my neuropathy, my body treats it as pain even though there is no damage taking place to my feet (or at least no visible damage). This causes my metabolism to kick into high gear and I usually break a sweat. It was 97° outside and only slightly better inside the catwalks. I was soaked by 13:30. We rode the bus back to 29th Street and the walk back to AlphaPointe was not too bad. I was glad to spend the rest of our session listening to a tape. A boring tape. A really boring tape. Really. Uh, did I mention that it was tedious in the extreme?

I learned early in the day that I did not need to check out over the weekends, the Inn has me there continuously through the 19th. I called and left Sheila a message about it at RSB. Needless to say, nobody was in on an after-holiday Friday. I don't know how payment is arranged on the hotel room. I hope it all goes smoothly.

Bill and my sister picked me up at about 16:00. We returned home, chinese dinner in hand, at about 19:20. I crashed about an hour later. "Hello Bed! I've missed you!" Really, I haven't missed my bed, but the bed at the Inn has lumps in different places. Old familiar lumps are better than new and undiscovered ones.
Thursday 4 July
Residence Inn: unfulfilled ambitions & unscheduled naps.
The fourth was a day I intended to use to explore KC and maybe go see some fireworks. That plan went by the wayside quickly.

I gorged on an enormous breakfast. The cook and I had a long conversation. She is a tall, thin black woman, with reddish-blondish hair. She is a delight to talk to and a wonderful cook. I offered to keep her in luxury (well, mediocrity) and threw in a puppy, but she could not be induced to come home with me. She cooks perfectly fluffy scrambled eggs, bakes scratch biscuits worth writing about and has a r'epertoire that is extensive. I hope she has opportunity to exercise her talents to the limit while I'm at the Inn.

I slept much of the day and spent my awake time eating and watching old episodes of Law & Order. I watched the show with some regularity quite a while ago (First season I assume) but dropped it after a while. The latest episodes I've seen are quite good. I may try to make up in re-runs the episodes I've missed.

I was appalled at the LAX shooting. How can they assume it is not terrorism? Even if the man was working on his own, what else would you call it? Terrorism doesn't have to be part of some grand scheme to be terrorism. <sigh>At least it is the only incident of it's sort for the holiday.</sigh>

Lunch was chips and salsa. Supper was a frozen pizza. I must extract all these meal-related comments to dinner.
Wednesday 3 July
AlphaPointe, Testing and various questionnaires.
The day was largely consumed with tests. I met with Chip again, with Jim, Shelly & Jenn, and met Shojun.

Shojun seems to be oriental. Japanese, I think, but I am not really able to see his face in enough detail. He is a slender man who speaks very quietly. He is the mobility instructor and took me outside on a walk around the vicinity. I tire easily, and perspire heavily in this heat. He is very concerned about my welfare when we walk. Too much so, as I am actually pretty resilient for someone in my miserable state of health. I am just a sweaty guy with sore feet, that's all. Shojun (how am I going to train myself not to say "shogun?") has a bit of an accent but his tendency to speak very softly is more of a barrier to understand than his speech.

I gave Jim my copy of Opera and did some more word processing tests. I did some global changes quite easily.

I filled my weekly pill carrier for Shelly & Jenn. My next meeting will be with Jenn, solo. We did more on my diabetes document.

Lunch was best not discussed. I am definitely bringing my lunch next week. I suppose they do as best they can, but the portions are small and the preparation leaves much to be desired.
Tuesday 2 July
AlphaPointe, written on breaks
I met Chip today. He is a big man with a soft voice. His manner reminds me of the gym teacher I wish I had had. He has a nice staightforward approach to his work. I'm not sure his precise area of assessment but I'm taking the math-oriented tests from him. I believe he does "educational" stuff. I like him and think he likes most people.

I also had my first session with Jim. We talked a bit about JAWS and Opera. I promised to bring him my Opera software. He had me correct spelling errors in a word document. Easy for me. I don't think he expected me to do it the way I did (I used alt+f7 to traverse the list of errors).

I met Mary today. SHe does Braille and communications things. She seems like a New Yorker. I usually use that to describe someone that I dislike at first impression, but I don't mean it a pejorative. She seems like the real hard-case in the group, but we got along fine. I expect to do a good bit of work with her on my level 2 braille.

Nothing much on the testing front. The day was consumed with very simple assessments and a run at Meyers-Briggs. I think I came out INHJ but I don't recall. I try not to remember such things as I wind up taking M-B again and again and don't want to slant my answers. Most of the paperwork consisted of "intake" documents - the same questions over and over.

I worked, in the afternoon, with Shelley and Jenn. They did mostly intake information and got a little about my diabetes care and knowledge.

Mary asked me to make a list of ways to use braille. It is a harder task than I thought. I need, also, to bring my medicines to AlphaPointe to let them get the details and see me fill my weekly thingie.

Lunch was hamburger-like. Not very. The Jello (orange with pineapple) was the best thing on the tray. I am constantly amazed at the things will put in Jello. Lime with plums . . . cherry with nuts and bolts . . . nothing seems to be out of bounds.

I wrote yet another poem that I'm not going to put in here.

This is the second night of odd dreams. Sunday night was abominable, real nightmares. Monday night was only a little less sinister but was not nearly as alarming. I am going to record them in baddreams.
Monday 1 July
At AlphaPointe, Third Floor, of the now defunct Trinity North Hospital.
I spent much of the day making introductions. I met most of the staff, counselors, teachers, whatever they are. I had appointments with

Katherine: Self-appointed "bad girl" of the group. She told me she was hard to get along with and tried to be a bit of a hard case, I think. I may have deflated her a bit in that such things simply don't bother me. I think she and I will get along quite well, actually. She seems to have a firm grip on the realities and a willingness to be straightforward. She gave me some sort of personality test - "Wunderlich" I think it was called. It seemed to contain a bit of pattern recognition and some cognitive elements.

Susie: I'm not sure what Susie's role is, ultimately. I believe she is an independent living specialist. We did an intake document in the morning and then met for her "group". This is a Monday-afternoon activity every Monday. The topic was self-esteem. I have no problems in that quarter, I think. <smirk>But then, who am I to say?</smirk>

Jennifer; "Jenn". I like Jenn. She and I started at AlphaPointe the same day. I told her if any of those mean old instructors teased her I'd beat up on 'em on her behalf. She is pretty and has an engaging and professional manner. I think we will get along. She is port of the daily living contingent and is the keeper of the diabetes "lab" room.

Clay: The Boss. He has some boss-like qualities but mostly he is a nice guy. Lots of tests on his agenda. He is a thorough person in my estimation. I think he has developed the habit of covering all the bases carefully.

Jim: The computer guy. He is a slender, twitchy man, who seems to be completely blind. He makes me a little nervous, but I like him a lot. He seems to be a sensibly knowledgable man. I can't explain precisely what I mean, save to say that his knowledge of computers seems to be that of a skilled trainer rather than that of a power user. He is a patient soul. He and I hit it off at the beginning. I think I am more facile with computers than most of his "students" or whatever it is we are to be called. He seems like he might be older than the other staff, but I am not sure. He has a pleasant voice. He took me on a whirlwind tour of the cafeteria. I had to re-explore afterward, which would have been the case no matter what, I imagine. <sigh>I never really learn my way around unless I do it myself. </sigh>

I also met the students, uh, excuse me, "consumers";

Mike is a smallish guy with about the same vision as me. He sometimes uses a cane and sometimes does not. I started a poem to describe everyone I met. I won't transcribe it here. I am going to put in my collection of daily things that I am constructing on my web site. I categorized him as the local "hunk". He looks like a "shorty" type, solidly built, but not too tall. He is about nineteen, I think.

DiKenyon is handsome young black man, about nineteen also. He seems to perpetually have earphones in and a CD going. He talks less than some of the others, but seems to be a smart guy.

Felicia was the first person introduced to me. She has very little vision, I think. It is pretty hard to tell sometimes in this crowd. She is a small, rotund, black girl who seems High School age but is, I think a bit older. She is friendly, charming, and a good conversationalist with a delightful laugh. I enjoy every chance I get to chat with her. She has an ingenuous manner about her that is pleasant and somewhat reassuring. I think she has spent a great deal of time in programs such as this one.

Erica seems as addicted to soft drinks as I. I think she is quite smart, but tends to hide it somehow. She always says a little less than you think she might. It may be some sort of defensive posture on her part. She sometimes stretches her "assertiveness" to the limits but always knows the limits. She is fun to be around and will be a pleasant companion in the coming weeks.

Stacy is a pretty girl who has been around AlphaPointe before. She is the most mature-seeming of the crowd. She is nevertheless, quite young. I guess her at twenty or twenty-one by her appearance but would put her at thirty by her manner. I enjoyed talking to her. She, like Felicia, has a pleasant laugh and uses it often.

As I meet others I will introduce them.

Lunch each day is 11:30 to 12:30 in the cafeteria. The first day's lunch was lasagne-like but not to any extreme degree. There were green beans involved as well. I don't think that this free lunch is worth what I'm paying for it. I don't much enjoy the cafeteria as the building is largely occupied by people in substance-abuse and psychological problems programs (like me?). A "rough crowd" is a reasonable description. I may not eat in the cafeteria again.
Sunday 30 June
The Residence Inn on Main Street in Kansas City, MO.
It took two and one half hours to get from home to Kansas City. It took another half hour to find the Mariott Residence Inn near 29th and Main. I failed to get good directions. It worked out.

The room is on the ground floor and it is quite comfortable. It has elements of death trap in the barstools and the coffee table, but I have handled them.

The room consists of a kitchenette with refrigerator, microwave, stovetop, and oven. A living room with a love-seat and a small desk. A double bed next to the sliding glass door to the walkway outside, and a bath and dressing room. I wish they had made the bath the size of the dressing room and vice versa.

We spend most of an hour looking for a grocery and found, instead an Eckerd Drug. I got some soda and a few dinners that require no refrigeration. I also picked up tostitos and salsa. Supper that night, while not nutritious was enjoyable.

It took me only minutes to settle in. I had from circa 16:00 through to morning to kill time. I spent entirely too much of it eating and channel surfing. I remembered at the last minute to request a wake-up call.