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I have a love of life. Some may call me a cynic but I'm truly an optimistic realist. I work on the philosophy “If you expect the worst but aim for the best, you'll land somewhere that's comfortable.”

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27 July 2017

Gàidhlig Agus Mi


Ciamar a tha sibh? (How are you?)

Tomorrow sees me do the last few modules of level 1 Gaelic/Gàidhlig. For those that don't know or are confused as I was – Gaelic is pronounced Gah-lic at least when speaking about Gàidhlig (Scottish Gaelic). What the Irish choose to do is their choice.

The course I've been on is ran by Fife Council. It's usually ran over 24 weeks/6 months and conprises 24 units. FC didn't invent the course, they use Ùlpan, which was developed by a clever linguist fello.

I wont say it's been easy because it's not. It's been doable with occassional periods of genuine crashing of the brain. On one unit my head went numb, I was flicking my forehead and couldn't feel it. Given I've ADHD it could be I over applied myself. My brain was still recording and I was able to do a document recovery the next day when we did our breif revision of the previous units.

I am yet undecided weather or not being blind is an advantage or not for learning how to speak Gàidhlig. Since the words look nothing like English phonics your brain struggles to work out where on earth the sounds are coming from. A bhail thu deiseil? Are you ready, pronounce ah-vel-oo jehshul. The only issue I really have is know how many words are in a sentence or phrase. A bhail thu runs into one word. Tha gu math, I'm well - the T is silent and so is the TH at the end so it runs into, hagewmah.

Thankfully I've an ear for languages so when I listen to BBC Radio Nan Gàidheal my brain is able to desypher the phonics and find some sense in all these lovely new noises that I'm hearing and making.

The educator said that there are 8 fewer letters in Gàdhlig but 40 more phonics. Some of the phonics are almost indistinguisable from one another either because they're slightly softer, change in internation or it's a double sound with one of the two parts being different.

As with a lot of languages Gàidhlig genders it's nouns. This confuses me generally coming from a place of genderless nouns. Eggs, I think we can agree are pretty much excusive to females but in Gàidhlig are masculine… Milk however is feminine yet males can produce it too… Since 80% of nouns are masculine, I've decided to make everything masculine and 4/5 times I'll be correct. This as a feminist is not ideal however it's more important to be correct most of the time… that way I'm showing women can, right?

I used to think Gàidhlig was pointless and should die off naturally. After all, it's just as imported to Scotland/Alba (al-ah-pa) as Latin or English. However, Gàidhlig was spoken more widely than Latin historically - so Gàidhlig is the de facto native language of Scotland. If there are any Pictish speaking folk out there do let me know. I now feel it's important to save Gàidhlig both as a language and the culture around it. If we can get people growing up bilingual with English and Gàidhlig that would be great. Is it useful? Not for calling your ISP no. But for conversations with others that speak it, especially as an act of exclussion :D; to save beautiful poetry and songs and to make the world more interesting and less samey for sure it is.

I don't think there are many, if any Gàidhlig only speakers still alive, so changing road signs to include Gàidhlig place names seems somewhat of an expensive action by the Scottish Government. So does re-marking the Scottish Police helicopter while we're going through a time of great gabs between those that, hae meat and can eat and those than wad want it – to crudely paraphrase Rabby. (Rabby burns wrote in Scots not Gàidhlig FYI :) )

I'm very grateful that my partner and I got our places funded on this course and I believe teaching as many people as possible to speak and/or read and write Gàidhlig is important. But, most people wont see “Poileas Alba” on a chopper which doesn't serve the biggest population of Gàidheal. It is based in Alloa near Stirling half way (ish) between Glasgow and Edinburgh 270Mi south of the outer Hebrides. If however, they were to re-brand their land vehicle that would maybe be more logical. Even if they only changed from POLICE to POILEAS. Obviously this would be done on the basis of when a vehicle dies the new one is given the new branding, so the costs would be roughly the same as adding the livery to any new vehicle. The helicopter was re-branded as part of the lease agreement with Bond Air Services after the lost of the helicopter that cashed into The Clutha Vaults in 2013. There are figures of £100,000 knocking about but I don't know how accurate they are despite quoting them else where, oops, bad me for poor research.

I do know the resigning of roads etc cost £2,000,000. Once again, I have been quoting higher figures in real life when I was against Gàidhlig and even still think that it's a silly amount of money. Partly because no Sat Nav yet supports Gàidhlig so you'd have to be reading the English or translating the Gåidhlig. If you're navigating by road signs only then please let me know how the 1800's are and your horse. Yet again, a replacement rather than remediation scheme would be more logical. It would still be a novelty project to a degree.

Ireland and Wales have kept their languages alive along side English so why shouldn't Scotland? If Scotland had more of a separate identity from England I could maybe see the logic in Scottish Independence. I can understand the view point of Siol nan Gàidheal as far as the English didn't exactly bring us wine and chocolates when they came calling. But the U.K. isn't England it's a newer separate entity. Don't say the words out loud someone may hear you – I'm beginning to feel Scottish. I'll always be British first. I've lived in Scotland for 19 years, I was born in Scotland and half my family are Scottish; I speak and understand Scots and Scottish English yet I've never felt all that Scottish until now. That maybe a bit of an exaggeration, it's been a growing sense of Scottishness since last year. Learning Gàidhlig has only served to strength that part of my identity.

In conclusion :) :
• Gåidhlig as a language and culture needs to be saved.
• As many people as possible need to learn it.
• Overtime we should re-brand everything to Gåidhlig and English where possible.
• Scotland might be worth more with its own true identity but not at the cost of required resources.
• I used to dislike but not like Gåidhlig.
• Gåidhlig reading and writing is going to take me far longer to get than speaking.
• Learn Gåidhlig if you can, it's a lovely language, even if a little tricky.
• Always keep hydrated and wear sun block…

8 June 2017

Foot of The Bridge


This is a poem reflecting on a sailing trip that didn't go to plan. It talks about successful suicide. It's weird why it's only come to the surface, forgive the pun, after so long. I have to cross the bridge in question pretty much anytime I go south and back north.

The only way I could express this is in a strange set of rhyming couplets.

Foot of The Bridge


I went out to sail my boat,
She went out because she couldn't emote,

We both ended in the same place
but we arrived there by traveling through a different space,

I went under
She went over,

The wind turned
Her brain burned,

Pan, Pan Pan I called over the squawk box,
She said nothing before hitting the rocks,

The lifeboat came,
By now she was lame,

We abandoned ship,
She wasn't to take another trip,

We rushed to the scene,
But no signs of life were to be seen,

At the foot of the bridge is where we met,
I was warm and dry and she was dead and wet,

I couldn't travel that way again,
She would never travel that way again because of her internal pain,

I still wonder why,
That she had to die,

I went out to go sailing,
She went out because nobody heard her wailing,

24 May 2017

Terrorism…


Yo! Talking about terrorism here peeps.


• Once more the UK has been hit by another terror attack against private individuals.
• Once more people have started shouting about closing borders, raising draw-bridges and rolling our the cannon.
• Once more everyone is scared.


I grew up as did most 20/30 somethings in Britain with terrorism. Maybe they didn't have foreign names and/or different hue of skin, but they still wanted us to be scared.

Unlike most kids I grew up in a military family. This made the areas we lived possible targets for terrorists. Maybe they thought they were freedom fighters and that they were fighting for a cause but if they are killing people because those folk don't believe in their views thus making everyone fearful, they were taking freedom from other individuals. I don't care what you want to believe, if you can pray to your God and do it openly without state interference and in all other ways, live a law abiding life without hounding from the state you are free.

The Black Panthers were labelled terrorists… They, black people, weren't given/aren't given the freedom to walk down the street with equal rights and without suspicion. They had to fight – they had to be in the spotlight. Given the shootings of unarmed black people in the US, I'm surprised a militant lobby hasn't re-appeared. I know why it hasn't though – in today's world the best way to make change happen is by changing minds. Now private citizens can have a voice on a world wide platform, they're not just shouting at televisions, politicians have to listen. Plus force, it seems, will always be met with force.

I get that the bad stuff in the world needs to be covered. However, when images are being beamed into everyone's faces, there needs to be a primer/decoder because not everyone will see the images for what they are. Pictures of terror incidents are horrid and evocative. What they don't say is that we all have the potential to do these crazy things. Maybe not to do them in the name of a faith or overtly political ideology but in the name of freedom and protection. Killing those that threaten us doesn't help. It only makes a group of confused, angry, isolated and threatened people get more of all of those things.

If you want your country to only be ran by BRITISH (swap for your own nationality) people, that includes people that might not be the same colour or faith or political stance as you. The people that carry out attacks against 'soft targets' aren't fighting oppression – they are fighting us all. The only difference is that we can't/wouldn't/shouldn't meet their death toils with an equal or higher score sheet.

I know that this post will get launched into my echo chamber and wont change the views of anyone that I'd like it to but it's here for them if they get curious…

Once more to attacking the media – Saying things like the threat level is at its' highest level, does, not, help, anyone. People themselves are all ready hypervigilant. Words like highest, critical, severe are all very strong words. Those that are numb/not caring people wont change because of them but those that do care will be made more scared. A colour system maybe more useful. I understand this isn't the medias choice to increase or decrease the terror threat but they choose to cover it. The information is right on the MI5 webpage for those that want to see it. I'm guessing that the people writing 'highest threat level in a decade' haven't used the webpage because they'd see that it was set to 'critical' for 3 days in August 2006 and for 4 days in July 2007. These are short periods of time that will keep people scared for longer. Once it goes back to 'severe' people might think they are safe/safer when we're not.

Putting cops and soldiers on the street with firearms, or cops without firearms in reaction to this kind of attack is pointless and doesn't make anyone feel safer. Maybe I'm generalising. If you see someone carrying a firearm you don't think they are there to keep me safe, you think what are they keeping me safe from. The truth in my mind is they're not keeping us safe/safer. Not because they're incompetent but how can they. If you have people acting on their own with knives and cars and less often with bombs, none of these people know what's coming. If a terrorist is successful, security has failed. If they're not stopped before they get out of their door then it's too late. It might be a cop or a soldier that gets killed rather than a private citizen. Does this make a difference to their family? Does this stop hate towards the people that are already feeling so isolated they have to do crazy shit for us to notice them? Most importantly, does it give the public a sense of safety or the terror organisation a point on their kill sheet?

Sure we need to stand together against hate (in all forms) and terror. BUT, we need to do it along side the people that are being hated against. Something can't be talked about without hearing everyone's voice. Don't fear people who are brown because they are brown and they MIGHT be a terrorist. You are playing the game you are being expected to. You are being manipulated and you are better than that right? Don't fear anyone, except for maybe yourself. If you can judge someone because of their faith, race, sexuality, sex or gender identity among many other variables you could be the next person doing the next news flash.

FYI – You get people of all faiths with all different skin colours. They don't all need to be converted' they don't all need to have a different voice from you and they don't all have to be from countries outside of your's.

22 May 2017

Do Medicines Discriminate Against Blind People?


I've been playing with a hypothesis for a while now. What if in the words of The Verve, the drugs don't work, because I'm blind?

What difference would that make I hear you ponder. Well, there is some evidence that suggests the colour of a drug influences the outcome for the patient, even only if perceptually. In a review study from 1998, red, yellow and orange are suggested to be good for stimulents and blue or green for calming drugs. There is a whole load of colour combinations and cultural factors too but the previous is true for western folks. (While finding the sources to link to I also found this article from The Atlantic discussing "The Power of Drug Color")

Although I'm not totally blind, I don't have enough sight to see the colour of my pills every dose.

There has also been a recent study on the power of open label placebos. Open label means that the researcher and the participant/patent both know what is in the pill/substance. Placebo, is a control pill/substance that contains no active ingredient. I've an amusing anecdote about using a placebo on someone which I'll save to the end.

In the study report it doesn't say how many patients, if any, where blind or visually impaired so i'm going to presume 0. The study found, in brief, that the body can sometimes fix itself by power of suggestion. That is not to say the people with the conditions are faking it or are deluded rather the ind is a powerful thing. I suspect that the 1998 study about colour plays a part in this too. Since the participants knew they had been given a medical sweet – it can only be put down to two things:

• Physical Action
The action of taking a pill and expecting that pill to have an effect, despite knowing it has nothing in it. Then feeling slightly better and then this becoming a gradual but significant improvement. It helped last time, why shouldn't it help this time?

• The Colour
This pill is, insert colour of your choice, therefore the patient feels less pain. In this study the pills were presumably white. I can't find a description of them other than being OLPs. In the 1998 study, white was noted as improving perception of pain and pooping problems.

It's really quite impressive how good our bodies are at fixing themselves, despite being told by big pharmer for the last few hundred years that we need to take X, Y and Z. I also find it a little worrying how easily our minds have bent to think a pill of colour X can help with problem K. This is NOT to say we don't need drugs at all.

Big pharmer doesn't want to make us better, they want to make money. The truth is, some of their products we do actually need. In fact we need more of their products. We need cures and vaccines along with medicines to manage conditions. Colours aren't just used to trick our silly little brains. They are used to help identify medicines along with their shape. In an ideal world, all pills would be white and the same shape. That would then allow a better look at what works 'really' and what works through the power of suggestion.

In drug trials, before the drugs are tested on the people with the problem, they are tested on animals. The animals are injected with the substance more often than not, in my understanding at least. This allows the developers to see if it helps or not. It also gives them an idea of potential risks and side effects. Then human trials, healthy humans are tested upon. This is to see if the drugs will be harmful in humans, which sometimes it turns out they are. If you take part in a drug trial you are generally told:
• How much they'll be paid
• how long they will be needed for
•What they will be expected to do, rub on a cream, take a pill or be injected for example.
• What the drug is being designed for
Not always in this order, generally – what the drug/treatment is being designed for is one of the first things people know.

When you are paying someone to test drugs with the expectation of a certain outcome, especially with the knowledge or the two previously mentioned studies, along with the fact everyone wants to be approved of and help sick/ill/disabled people get better; all you can test for is side effects.

In phase two and three trials the drugs are tested on people with the problem. Unless it is something that isn't based on perception like an infection or growth, I'm not sure how we can be sure these drugs actually work. Of course drugs are tested against other drugs but when you are chronically ill you will, will anything to help. Obviously, with pain we can look at neuro-functions under the influence of substances and the same is true for other issues in the brain. But what can't be done is ask a desperate person for a non-bias opinion of how they feel a substance is helping them. I know, I would try anything to fix my body's dysfunctions. I would take any pill or injections or eye drop. I have tried many drugs for many things and they all for for a while. Maybe in light of the placebo trial we need to be asking, is it drug tolerance we develop or is is that we stop believing that the drug is helping?

As well as questioning if I'm not getting the full effects of the pills I pop. I wonder, maybe I just don't want to get better? It's not a case of the pills don't work, it's a case of I don't want them to work… Maybe, I need to be more positive and be demanding of myself. This is partly a true thought but also slightly sarcastic. I know I can't think mountains smaller or places closer. Bodies and drugs sometimes get on and sometimes not. But, when someone is desperate they'll generally reach out weather that be for a hand, pill or something else. We, I, need to accept it's ok to not be ok. Never-the-less it's crap to feel crap.

Final note; The Open Label Placebo trial had 83 people at the end and it only lasted 3 months. It's a small number of people and a short time. For it to be more useful you'd want more people taking part and the assessment period to be much longer. I also think a mixture of pill colours, shapes and sizes would be useful. After all, it's the concept of a placebo you're testing not if that one placebo pill works.

The placebo-dote:
my partner had a practice test before their driving test. I had floated the idea of them taking one of my beta blockers to help calm their nerves. They weren't sure it would be a good idea incase they had an accident and they had a drug that was prescribed to them in their system. I used their trust in me to convince them to blindly take a pill, which would definitely help calm them. They went away and aced the practice test and came home happy and confident. Since they did better than what they thought they could, they demanded to know what I had actually given them because they didn't want to take the test without knowing what it was.

It only served to give them more confidence the next day in their actual test, which they passed, when I told them it was a multivitamin and nothing more…

9 May 2017

I Want To Die…Sometimes…Lots of Times


Heads up! I talk about suicide and crap MH…




Thanks to @bossarocker on Twitter for 'inspiring' my writer's flow to write this. This might not be 'magic' but it has been cathartic to admit to myself/the world how I'm feeling.





This week, in the UK anyway, is “Mental Health Awareness Week”.

I'm always aware of mental health. Not only do I have mental health, so does my spouse, my dad, your mum and brother… We all have mental health.

We're all fed the rubbish that we need to have this stunning body like all those basic bitches desire so they can be individuals, while being all the same. We're also all fed this image of people being able to cope through everything in their life. When characters in all medums depart from the 'normal' behaviours that come with such an imense ability to deal with everything, they become sinister, comical or pittiful.

My mental health exists just as much as the next persons;. My mental health is as capable as my physical body. That is to say, it isn't reliable.

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder and depression. I don't mean life isn't going my way and I'm a bit 'meh' rather I often battle with thoughts of : topping myself; offing myself; harikari; premature ejaculation from life or just suicide.

My anxiety has me sitting here wondering if I can cope with my shift on a helpline this evening or will it be too much. I'm also aware that it will be fine and I have all the support I need if it was too much. My anxiety also means that if I hear a creak during the night I think there is someone malicious outside my bedroom door. I've been sleeping with a window open in my room and for a spilt second my eye has been telling my brain there is someone standing by my bed. My anxiety can be triggered by too much noise, too little noise too many people or the look of a car's behaviour – following our route for too long. All these things affect my sleep, conscious decision to go to places and when to go.

My depression gives me feelings of suicide, it also gives me feelings of pointlessness and hopelessness. When you feel everything is collapsing it's hard to keep hope alive. I'm optimistic sure but only selectively.

When I was younger, I was able to roam the hills; helm boats; ride a bike, swim and run at competitions. I had free movement. By which I mean, I could move freely within a space. Now, I have to rely on one of three things: a white stick; a person or a dog. Neither of these feel truly comfortable. A person feels lame, it feels like you're a child again who needs to be supervised so they don't try playing with the traffic. A dog is okay, when you have feelings of “I can't be fucked” it makes it difficult to care for another living thing – even more so when you're not too bothered about your own existence. The stick, well, I've been a stick/cane user since I was fourteen. At first I was self conscious and not very keen on it. I eventually saw that it made people treat me special which was cool and kind or fun. Then once I learned it was because they saw me as vulnerable and/or weak compared to another person similar to me but with sight, I resented it. Now I know it's a symbol of vulnerability – I don't feel safe going outside on my own because in todays world, may in every age, criminals have no self respect and will attack the vulnerable in society.

I know I'm more than just a queer crip with tits. I'm a whole person. I don't know how most people label me at first contact but crip, tits and queer feel the most likely. Only after they've noticed these things they'll find out true me. For most people however, biases influence their future thoughts. For a blind person you're pretty cool. You're pretty for a queer… these are things that have been said to me.

Ask yourself, what reasons do I have to be a happy person? When I'm happy inside it's more than likely, you wont notice. I put on a show and get the best comments, 'For someone who has so much going against them, you're really positive…”. I am positive, positive that I hate my situation. Unlike the person(s) that have said such things, I'm not an insular muppet. I know things could be so much worse for me. I could be in a wheelchair, missing limbs and being tube fed while being blind and having pain and mental health troubles. Why don't I use that as a constant thing to boost me up? It only does to those people who are less able – what more able people do to me. They're no more inspiration/positivity porn than I am.

I will go to my shift this evening, I might cope (probably will) and I probably wont kill myself. I will be guided to the toilet; I will be driven to the building and I will have my dinner cooked. I probably will have a crap sleep, I'll probably feel glum then happy and then glum again. I wont give up though. I am not strong or resilient. Most of all I am not well/healthy but this doesn't mean…

I'm Your Inspiration

23 April 2017

Re-Thinking The Concept of Independence



I wrote a post previously (13th of May 2013) called Independence & Disability, I was going to edit it to make it more inclussive of all disabilities and not just blindness. However by the time I edited it, it included more about interdependency and how nobody is independent. I've kept the first few bits the same as the earlier concept, which still exists in its original form. My thinking was sparked by this blog post: Access Intimacy, Interdependence and Disability Justice.

Can disabled people be 100% independent? Simple answer, no. Nobody can or there would be no need for medics, pilots or engineers.



The dictionary defines independent as:

“1.Free from outside control; not depending on another's authority

More often than not, disabled folks need social welfare. This is provided by the government. They may need additional care (also controlled in the UK at least) by the state. 0-1 to me.



“2. Not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.

See above. 0-2 to me.



If we use Maslov's hierarchy of needs as a basis we'll soon see that:

1) Crips cannot be independent.

2) Nobody can be independent.

3) Humans are not designed to be independent.



Over to Abe...



Physical Needs:
All of our bodies need at least air, water and food.

Air I for one cannot produce clean air for myself let alone another person. I depend, as do we all, on others to be considerate in how much poluition they create and the steps they take to counter that. If you cut down trees, you've just screwed us all over not just the person with a respiratory problem. How the Welsh are still being effected by Chernobyl


Water Unless you have an off grid desalination plant, r you're happy to drink collected rain water. Chances are you rely on others to keep clean drinking water flowing into your chosen drinking vessel - which you probably bought – and for an example of people that are being harmed by the break down of interdependence there's the Flint water crisis.


Food It's unlikely that you grow your own food or in enough quantities to sustain yourself on. If you do, go you! If not, why aren't you being independent, is there a barrier(s) to you doing it? Anyone for a side of food fraud?



Safety Needs
Nobody should be unsafe, but where interdependence has broke down people are.

Personal Safety Unless you have a firearm in your possession, which makes you less safe, you are probably going to be dependent on others (the Police) to stop that creepy person along the street from murdering you and your family. You also probably entrusted the building and installing of your home security measures weather it's just a locks or a super locked down system. For a disabled person this might mean a person to stop them coming to additional harms that a abled person may not face. Such as managing their finances so their 'friends' don't steel it.Which has become such a problem it has it's own name "Mate Crime ".


Financial Security In most places in world we buy and sell things. From sex to million (Insert currency appropriate to you) Yachts. Neither of these things are necessities but as above air, water and food are. Being able to afford a home in an area with clean air is not a luxury that everyone can afford. It may be down to actual financial capital. It could also be because of their time capital, if they work long hours they might not have enough time to commute. Either way unless they want to starve they work to earn money. For a disabled person however, they are reliant (in most cases but not all) on social welfare as their primary income. For many this can vanish at the blink of an eye because an assessor of their claim form decides they don't meet the criteria to get that support. Everyone dreams of not having to work but at the same time in that dream, thee is also a high expectation of comfort. This level of comfort doesn't come on social welfare. It's a kind of job in its own right. Trying to balance finances with needs; quality with cost.


Health And Well-being I doubt many people could demonstrate the heroics of Leonid Rogozov. If you can, High Five to you! For the rest of us feeble humans we rely on people with skills to chop, sew, scan and diagnose our bodies and minds. Sometimes, probably more often for the general population, they get it right, right away. For those of us with more complicated health and well-being needs it may take many trips to the specialist medic, nurse, psychotherapist or physiotherapist to get – no better – but to a point where we aren't feeling like death is the next person to walk through the door, even if we feel it might be welcome.



I could go farther down the list but I think it's fairly clear that nobody is independent. I also think that you would be most disappointed if a farmer told you to go away and grow your own food and you're lazy for not doing so. It is a double bladed sword, you can either force people to do more than they are able to – weather they have a disability or other barriers (time, money or space etc) or, we all have to help each another.



We have lived in groups for millennia, not because we want to. Rather, we need to. It takes a special kind of person to be 100% self sufficient with no human contact at all. Can you imagine being in a place with nobody else' you have to do everything yourself; there's no radio or entertainment; you have no vehicle (you wouldn't need one)...? It sounds like hell right?


This is not to say everyone has a disabilty. But, most people take interdependence for granted to the point those that do have a disabilty are seen as a weak link in the interdependency chain. I'll leave you with the consideration: What if disabled people took all their spending power out of the economy? The British Government estimate businesses could be missing out on £212,000,000,000 through being inaccessable to disabled people. This is only the number that businesses could be missing out on - the actual power therefore must be higher…

17 April 2017

Happy Birthday! ... Is It?


I turn 28-years old in just over 24 hours. Woo Birthday! Not quite.

You see I'm still trying to get passed an issue that started 34 years ago. The problem nae problems are:
1) The patriarchal society that tells a woman of 21 (very nearly 22) she can't keep her baby because she isn't married. That also looked down upon her for having a second child out of marriage, the first being born four years prior.

2) The upset that the woman felt every year on the date of her adopted-out baby's birth

3) The fact that she never tried to hide that upset for the child she did have in the future, which by some sick freak of nature landed on the same date as the previous baby's birth.

I know, I should have compassion, however, it's a difficult thing to have when all your birthday's that you can remember have been miserable. I also know, that kid might be angry or questioning their sense of self. This to I can imagine is difficult but honestly not something I can understand since I'm 'fortunate' enough to know my mother.

What I do know is Dean Duncan born the 18th of April 1983 in Aberdeen was adopted to a couple from Perth/Perthshire and the husband was a fire fighter. That's all the information I have about why my birthdays have never been as fun as other people's.

I've not lived at home for about 9 years, I'm a grown woman (not an adult!) but yet every birthday is still miserable. It feels like I'm still not allowed to enjoy it. I shouldn't ask to do something special because it's not what someone else wants to do. When I try to do something special I feel guilty for being happy.

I'm sure I'm not the only person with a mother who has reacted (understandably but not justifiably) in the same way as mine has. I'm sure to some it wont be a surprise to know that the damage making someone give up a child can do to them and future children. I'm sure I'll never get those lost days of happiness back but I hope by writing it down and letting the world know how I feel on the 18th of April – it might get better.

The only good birthday I remember with any clarity was when my dad and his colleague/friend/my courtesy uncle Steve took me pony riding. Before anyone judges, I know how privileged that sounds. In lots of ways growing up I was privileged in others I was deprived. Money is great for accessing things like pony trekking or buying roller-blades – it's not good for reaching your mothers emotional side unless you're the one giving her the money. Anyway, after the pony ride my dad got me involved with an awesome charity called Riding for the Disabled Association. The RDA, is a UK wide charity that gets people with disabilities interacting with horses. At that time I was only sight impaired. The reason I say sight impaired an not blind is because I started riding with them when I was 'Registered Visually Impaired' then in November of 1995 I was 'Registered Blind'. Us lot have to be registered incase there is a power-cut with not back-up lighting available or the sun goes out so that we can help sighted folk live independently.

Feel free to post me money, cake and material things but leave your happiness at the door please. Also, no damn cards, I can't read them!

14 April 2017

I'm Alive - Ask A Blind Person


I would state the obvious by saying it's been sometime since I last wrote a blog post but... You can see that from the date stamp on the last one.

So, what's happened? We've not quite got to world war three like I purposed, however, I don't think that we're all that far off now. Ever the optimist.

Now the UK is leaving the EU and we have Trump. By we I mean the world. I can't really complain I voted for both, despite not being a US citizen... That one is so worn but I'm into recycling.

In my life, I completed University. Well, one module which was ample education in social sciences for me. I'm fairly sure University is a waste of time unless you want to, cut people open and build stuff. Even then I don't see why a modern apprenticeship would work for either of those. I may go back and do a module about personal finance, at least that way I may learn where all my money is going.

Ask A Blind Person? (#AskABlindPerson)

 I was going to write a whole #AskABlindPerson post but that didn't get very many questions, so you can stay ignorant for all I care just don't blame me if I give you a dressing down for being silly. You have had your chance!

For those that did ask questions here are some answers:

Yes
No
Noo
Definitely

Q) How do blind people use Twitter etc?

A) I use a screen reader on my phone called VoiceOver. This is built into Apple products as standards. It's quality varies from device-to-device – their phones and tablets are the best in that order. Where as, their computers have some way to go to compete with other screen readers like JAWS for Windows. There is a similar but less functional screen reader on Android devices called TalkBack which personally is a heap of crud. I think on both platforms you can access Voiceover/TalkBack by going to Settings → (Apple) General → (Both) Accessibility → VoiceOver/TalkBack and then toggling it on. It's worth barring in mind that to turn them off again you'll need to double tap the toggle switch.

The only thing that screen readers can't do is read images. At least those without Alt tags added in their coding. However, Facebook and Apple are changing this. Facebook has developed a not so good version of Apples idea of auto text. This works using some sort of dark, sinister technology called AI. It analysis the image and comes up with a best guess of what is in the image based on what humans have told it similar things are. Facebook has told me that I'm smiling and the picture is a close up, with me wearing shoes – yes, I was smiling, Yes, it was sort of close up but no, I was just wearing a hoody, bra and pants... Some way to go yet. Apple's process was able to describe Stonehenge as a megalith which is a good shot. It also tells you if someone is smiling and if the image is sharp or blurred but this is often not so sharp itself.

Q) Don't you get bored watching movies because you don't know what's going on?

A) No because there is a thing called audio description, see my earlier post about this. It's more and more widely available. Netflix and BBC iPlayer have it on their streaming services. Netflix allows AD tracks to be downloaded unlike BBC. However, in the BBC's defence, their DVDs often have audio navigation, meaning a blind person can navigate all those menus that come with DVDs these days.

Q) Do you read... oh sorry... I mean...?

A) I can read, like letters and words and stuff. I often tend to use audio formats because my eyes tire really quickly and sore eyes aren't fun. I could read braille at one point but then someone decided all braille should be the same and I haven't bothered trying to learn the new modified braille code. It's fairly pointless while I have ears to listen and fingers to type with. Plus, my braille skills were so crud that I was reading o n e l e t t e r a t a t I m e, so it wasn't very fast. I'm sure I would of got quicker but technology right?

Q) IF I WRITE THIS ALL IN CAPS WILL YOUR PHONE SHOUT AT YOU?

A) Firstly, well done for knowing the answer to Q1! Secondly, no. VoiceOver will either read it as a normal word or it will read out the letters individually. You could maybe use the loud speaker emoji to tell us blind people that you're shouting. Or, keep your shit together an have a rational conversation, even in real life, if you shout I stop listening. Also, it's SUPER ANNOYING WHEN YOU REPEAT EMOJI 🐸🐸🐸🐸

Q) How do you have/do sex?

A) Pretty Well! No complains so far at least... Seriously though – not everyone has/wants/does sex and if they do it's often tackled in different ways. Otherwise there wouldn't be a need for sex toys and sex-bots because we would all be satisfied and we wouldn't complain she/he/they don't do X, Y or Z the way I like/at all.

Q) Do blind people only see black?

A) Black is a colour. Colours are concepts that require us to agree on what frequency of light waves we are all seeing. I refer you back to 'that dress'. If you can't see light you can't see black. I have a little bit of sight but for those that are totally blind (I've been one of those for a short time a couple of times as a kid) – you see nothing your eyes don't work. Put your hand in the air (if you have a hand) and task yourself what you can feel? The answer presuming you're not in pain is nothing. You feel your hand and that's all.

I did get some other questions but I can't remember them or maybe I'm lying and there were no others... If you have any, tweet me @Pipa)Riggs or comment below.