Category Archives: Life

I Haven’t Disappeared… Yet

I Haven’t Disappeared… Yet

Um… Hi… No, much to the chagrin of my few mortal enemies I have not been mauled by a pack of wild bores resulting in the loss of my hands and therefore stripping me of my ability to type.

I haven’t posted in a while owing, mostly, to the fact that I am lazy and procrastinate. (sidebar: also the same reason we have not podcasted in a while). So, I beg your forgiveness and indulgence as I try to catch you, who are still paying attention, up on the goings on around the Niner compound.

As I alluded to in an earlier post I got a job in May. I have been hired as a Resource Specialist by the Independent Living Center in our area. Our agency (Treva works there as well) is a private, nonprofit, consumer directed and controlled, organization which serves people with disabilities in a 7 county area in this part of the state. We provide 4 core services to our consumers:


  • Advocacy, both for individuals and systems change. We not only help people with disabilities receive the services they need to help them gain, or maintain, their independence, but we also work for broader community changes such as increased public transportation, curb cuts for people with mobility impairments, accessible public facilities, and other issues of that nature.

  • Information and Referral. We provide information on community and private resources including housing, transportation, benefits assistance, educational services for children, and other areas of interest to people with disabilities and their families.

  • Peer Support and Mentoring

  • Independent Living Skillt Training

Everything we do can end up fitting into one of these categories. Our goal is to empower people with disabilities and help them to find the services and products to help them live as independently as possible.

My job is quite a challenge for me. It involves a wide range of areas that are completely new in addition to some of the things that I have done before. I am responsible for new program development, supervising fundraising efforts, helping with grant writing, budgeting, clinical supervision and caseload management/assignment, computer database systems (including rewriting the consumer database I wrote 3 years ago [it has some issues]), quality assurance, staff training, working on our website, being a verbal punching bag for the 7 women in the office (there is a 7:2 female/male ratio), and of course the all-encompassing “other duties as assigned.”

I still may enter the arena of public safety in some capacity at some point in time. Rebekah thanks for the encouragement, it does help! For now I’ll see how this goes. It’s been fun, challenging, and of ourse occasionally frustrating, but I’m learning a lot and gaining some valuable skills.

Other than work, we’ve been trying to keep busy. We started out the summer by putting a new roof on the house over Memorial Day weekend. Treva’s family and my Dad were a huge help with that. We started tear-off about 11:00 on Friday morning and I hammered the last nail in at 21:00, in the poring rain, Saturday night. The rain was great though, it washed things down, cooled us off, and gave the roof a leak test. I guess it was just Mother Nature’s way of pitching in too.

June has been crazy too. We just got back from Wisconsin/Illinois where we attended my cousin’s wedding. It was a wonderful ceremony and I’m really excited for her. Her new husband fits right into the family and I think they will be absolutely blessed by God on their journey together.

Last week we were in Muncie for another friend’s wedding. Sheesh, I’m noticing a pattern of weddings. Scary! 🙂

Friday we ead for Atlanta for the 2007 NFB convention. This is going to be a crazy fun week for us. I can’t wait.

In honor of the NFB convention, we are going to do something special for the podcast. We’re going to do one show on general blindness stuff, and one specifically on technology. So post your questions here or send them to me in email if you want and we’ll try to answer them.

All right. I’m off to bed. Hopefully I’ll get some more posting in. I’ve also got a new phone that talks to me and let’s me do fun things like e-mail, so there’s a good chance I’ll pop random thoughts in from time to time. 🙂

I love all of you for not giving up on this blog and deleting it from your reads list.

Being Toyed With

Being Toyed With

I’ve written here at length about my job frustrations. Well, now that may be coming to an end, but in a way that I never expected.

For the past several months I’ve been working on possible jobs outside of the area we live in now. All of them are in the extremely preliminary stages at the moment and I have no idea if any will come through. It honestly feels like I’m a rabbit and someone’s dangling a carrot in my face and yanking it away when I go for it. I got a call today giving me the opportunity to work full time and stay in the area though.

The job is nothing that I ever considered doing for a living before, but it involves a lot of work I have either done before or occasionally do now in a volunteer capacity. I just need to pray and make sure that it is what God wants. It really has come out of left field and I didn’t really expect it to happen, but the more I consider it, the more I think I could like it and be good at it.

I’ll give some more details if it all works out, but for now I’m excited and this might just be what we’ve been looking for.

Also, before I forget. I want to thank everyone who commented and e-mailed with words of support regarding the 9-1-1 job. It meant a lot to me! I’m still pursuing a solution to that issue.

I’m just praying that God shows me which direction he wants me to go and that I stay on his path.

It’s A Good News, Bad News Kind Of Thing

It’s A Good News, Bad News Kind Of Thing

Hmmm. Has it ever been a week.

First of all, for the past 2 days I have been doing new system deployments for a client. That went really well actually. You know it’s a good deployment when the biggest problem is that “It doesn’t look like it used to,” and, “I need my favorites.” Both were easily fixed and everyone is happy… for now 🙂 I told the customer to basque in the satisfaction from his employees enjoying their brand new machines, for the 5 minutes it will last until something brakes :-).

Also. A message to the UPS WorldShip Customer Service line. If you’re going to read from cuecards please, for the love of spam, at least read from the right set. If I tell you I have version 9 and you give me version 8 instructions it’s almost a sure bet we’re going to have a communication breakdown somewhere along the line. Nevertheless, 90 minutes, and 3 calls to tech support, later the software was running and the data was where it should be.

Today I got news about both jobs I’ve applied for.

The good news. I have moved on to phase 2 of the testing process for Kenosha. April 28th is the day of the written test which, “will begin promptly at 9:30 […] and may take up to two and one-half hours to complete.” Uh… Exactly what are they going to be testing on? I think just to be safe I’ll find some sort of condensed, Reader’s Digest, index of all human knowledge and memorize it.

And now… onto the news that makes my blood boil with indignation.

I won’t be getting the other job and it’s because of the reason I was afraid of. The guy actually admitted to a friend of mine that he didn’t interview me because I am blind. He also indicated the agency’s lawyer said that was acceptable and legal to do. I am so beyond pissed right now and it’s been like 2 hours since I got the information.

Whatever happened to judging a candidate on their qualifications and not your preconceived notions of how you could or couldn’t do the job if you had the same characteristic? And yes, I do use characteristic and not disability because I consider my blindness to be one. All be it annoying at times, but a characteristic nonetheless.

I can understand how a potential employer, colleague, or whatever wouldn’t know how a blind person could do the job. A lot of people I talk to don’t know how we do things as blind people. That’s fine, they don’t usually have to think about it. I have. I thought this through long and hard before considering it. (since I was like 16.) I just want a fair shot. A chance to convince them I’m qualified… that I’d be good at it. They can ask questions to learn how I’d do the job. I’d be happy to explain what accomodations I would need, and that the state vocational rehabilitation agency and not the employer is responsible for the costs of those accomodations. We tried the computer program that talks to me with the CAD software. It works. A light probe would tell me what nonemergency line is ringing (the 9-1-1 line has a pretty distinct ring so that’s easy enough to figure out). Braille labels on the paging console would take care of knowing which buttons drop which tones. My handheld reader can read anything that is typewritten that might come through on FAX or be handed to me or whatever. Am I missing something? Is it just too out of the realm of possibility to expect someone give me a chance? Is it really that much riskier to train me than anyone else? Just because you can’t see yourself doing the job as a blind person, does that mean I should be denied the opportunity to try?

ARGGGHHHHH!!!!!

I’m just so annoyed right now. I can’t see straight…

Shush! You know what I mean :-).

I guess it makes me even question the Kenosha thing. How do I know they aren’t just going through the motions because they know it’s illegal to disqualify someone based on a disability? Maybe they’re just jerking me around and have no intention of giving me serious consideration. Maybe I’m just being uber paranoid, but I can’t help thinking that way.

I know God has a plan. I just wish I could see it a little more clearly. I wish I wasn’t so furious and unsure of what to do. I wish they had just given me the opportunity to interview and asked their questions (okay, well they can’t unless I bring blindness up first, but I would have. I wanted this job enough that I would have convinced them I could do it.)

Okay… calming down now… sort of.

If I’m really nutso and/or just plain crazy someone please tell me.

In the meantime, I’m going to sleep.

Thanks for reading… sorry it wasn’t more interesting.

7788/99.5

7788/99.5

WOO HOO!! YEEHA!

I’m doing the Happy Dance right now. I passed my data entry test with 7,788 keystrokes per hour and an accuracy rate of 99.5%. The mistake I made is one I usually make. I wrote “Bldv.” instead of “Blvd.”

The test itself wasnt bad at all. I had to enter records into a database. There was an ID, a name, address, city, state, zip, contact person, position title and phone number. After a 3 minute warm-up, I took the 5 minute test and it was over.

Now I just wait to hear when the written test is going to happen.

Pickup Sticks

Pickup Sticks

Since Niner has gone to Wisconsin, I felt that as his associate I should let you all know what is going on here. Well, it’s a bunch of goofiness. I thought all of the goofy stuff happened to Niner, but apparently I’m not exempt.

Thursday evening I got home from work and watched T.V. for a little bit, talked to Niner and generally unwound. Then I decided to make myself a very unhealthy but tasty dinner of mozzarella sticks. I took them into the living room and sat in front of the T.V. to enjoy my time alone. I was trying to get myself situated and hold the plate and open my can of pop at the same time. This didn’t work out too well because suddenly my plate of mozzarella sticks slanted forward and the sticks flew to the floor. All of them except two. I picked them up and cleaned up my mess, or so I thought.

Later on, I decided to watch a DVD. I began looking through my collection to find a good chick flick that I know Niner won’t watch. Tucked between the DVDs, I found 2 very familiar cards. In fact, they were already typed out thank you cards for our wedding gifts. Yes, two of our guests didn’t get their thank yous. It’s a year and a half later so it’s too late to do anything about it, but the real question is how did they get from the study to the DVDs in the living room. It’s not like we have kids to drag them there. Well there is Niner, and he’s a lot like a kid, but I have no clue as to what happened.

After all that I decided not to watch a DVD and watched American Idol and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader (a hilarious game show hosted by Jeff Foxworthy). So, at some point while I was watching these I kept thinking about the weird places things turn up. Then I wondered if I had really found all of the mozzarella sticks that I had dropped. I went over to the T.V> and felt around more thoroughly, and yes, there on the shelf was another mozzarella stick. I give up! I wish Niner were here. I would just blame him for all of it!

My Crazy Wednesday

My Crazy Wednesday

(Or, How My Day Did Not Go According To Plan.)

What began as a simple enough plan, Meet with a client at 10:00; buy DVD lens cleaner at the mall; get chicken salad, shampoo, chitos, and fabric softener at Kroger; go home; inhale lunch; mail a package; attend a meeting at 14:00 at the City Building; and meet Treva at the office to do something with her computer, was pretty much shot by… oh… 08:22. When…

08:15. I call Orange Cab for a 09:30 pickup, “We can’t get you until around 10 or so.” Fine. I’ll call the other guys. Never On Time Cab told me they could do 09:45, allrighty, close enough.

09:47. Cab pulls in and we’re off to the races.

10:05. Out at the client’s. Return pickup scheduled for 11:30.

11:40. Cab pulls in. I ask them to drop me off at the mall. “No problem, but we have to pick up one other person.” The other person is at a location on the northwest end of town, we are on the southwest, and okay… I’m flexible.

12:10. After picking up the other passengers, and stopping for them at an ATM, I’m at Radio Shack. I go in and ask the guys if it is cheaper to buy a lens cleaning kit, or just for fun, a new DVD player. Turns out, since one is on sale, the price difference is only $6 for the new player. Cool. A new player it is.

13:00. Run into Kroger, get supplies. The meeting at 14:00… not going to happen.

14:00. Home, drop off the groceries and eat.

15:00. Mail the package, find out I no longer have to go to Treva’s office. Time to go back home, and hook up the new DVD player.

Hehe, all in all, it was a successful day. It just didn’t quite go according to plan. I found out later that the bulk of the meeting got rescheduled anyway, so no big loss there.

Okay, time to finish getting everything together for the trek to Wisconsin tomorrow. I’m leaving at 04:30 tomorrow morning. The test got pushed back to 11:30 ET, so wish me luck.

Data Entry Test

Data Entry Test

Wow. I actually heard back from Kenosha County. I have to go take a typing test. I called to find out if there was somewhere I could take it down here, but she said the job centers aren’t that well connected. They’re going to try and get me a back-to-back testing date for the data entry and the other written test which I really appreciate.

Now I just need to work on my accuracy. I have to do 6200 kph (which works out to like 30 wpm) with 95% accuracy. The speed, not the problem. I tend to type too fast and end up backspacing a lot. I wonder if they count it against you if you correct when you realize you made a mistake.

I think I’ll just take Treva’s advice and slow down and work on the accuracy since I know I can type around 70 wpm.

It’s kind of exciting. Although, I’ve gotten to the testing phase before for other jobs, so it’s really nothing new. Nonetheless, it’s kind of cool.

Update: The personnel department called back. If I want to guarentee a spot for the data entry test I need to go on the 26, 27, 1st, or 2nd. She said the Job Center couldn’t guarentee an appointment when the next Saturday written test is since they don’t know when. So, unless God leads me otherwise, I think the plan is this. I’m going to get to Indy on March 1, take MegaBus to Chicago, Metra it to Kenosha and crash with the familia. I’ll take the test Friday and come back Saturday… or Monday. Whichever is cheaper. Yeah, I’m cheap. I know. 🙂

Snow, You Suck

Snow, You Suck

Dear Snow,

In the future please endeavour to fall only on the portions of the earth normally covered by grass. This would enable me to continue being my normal jovial pedestrian self without falling on a snowbank and severely twisting my ankle.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
In Pain in Richmond

P.S. This sounds incredibly familiar. I believe we had this same discussion last year. If your aggressive behavior continues, I will be forced to seek legal counsel.

Another 9-1-1 Job Possibility?

Another 9-1-1 Job Possibility?

Last night I received an e-mail from my father with a link to a job posting for a Public Safety 9-1-1 Dispatcher with Kenosha City/County Joint Services. KCCJS is a consolidated public safety group providing, among other services, 9-1-1 dispatching to all law enforcement and fire/rescue services in Kenosha County… Wisconsin. (Yeah, I knnow I’m threatening to leave Richmond again.)

I read through the info and filled out the application. Let me tell you, this was a pretty serious application too. Six pages, plus a 2 page checklist (which I will explain more about later). Additionallly they said you could give them copies of your resume, and any relevant educational information. I enclosed my highschool transcript and copies of the certificates I’ve earned from FEMA’s independent study courses. All told, it was 15 pages worth of stuff when I dropped it off at the post office today. Hopefully it will all arrive by the deadline on Friday.

What I found particularly interesting in this application was the “Dispatcher Checklist.” This 2-page document was a list of 30 odd items that they would like a potential applicant to consider before applying for the job. The application packet sites an unacceptable rate of attrition of new dispatchers because they are unaware of the more difficult aspects of the position. They ask that you read and consider each item and check it off indicating your consideration.

I found this an interesting approach to curbing the attrition rate. I’m not entirely sure how effective it will be considering you could easily check things off without reading them. I’m sure that lack of attention will show up eventually, but I’d be interested in seeing some statistics relating to this before and after including the checklist in the application packet. Below is the list they included.


    WORKING ENVIRONMENT
  1. Unable to physically leave your worksite (i.e. walk around, use the restroom, get coffee, etc.) At any time other than two 15 minute breaks and a 20 minute lunch scheduled dependent upon workload
  2. Unable to schedule your own lunch or rest breaks
  3. Unable to smoke at your worksite at any time
  4. Work at a small, confined work area in a room with low lighting
  5. Have a very limited opportunity to talk with your fellow workers during your work shift
  6. Work within an organization structured on the “military” model, i.e – Working through a highly structured “chain-of-command” -Having all phone and radio activities monitored/taped       -Having a disciplinary policy
  7. During training, be regularly reminded of errors and mistakes
  8. Work at a rapid pace over which you have little control
  9. Maintain intense concentration and attention for extended periods
  10. During training receive a daily rating of your job performance including criticism
  11. Work at a radio console and a computer terminal at keyboard rate of 30 wpm for a full shift
  12. Required to work different shifts
  13. Required to work weekends on a regular basis
  14. Work Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and any or all holidays
  15. Obtain child care between 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (swing shift) or 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. (graveyard shift) as well as during the day
  16. Obtain child care for weekends and holidays on a regular basis
  17. Work overtime, before or after a shift, sometimes with little notice
  18. Have limited choice about which shift you are assigned to work
  19. Have limited choice of which days you work
  20. During on-the-job training, you may have to work all shifts
  21. Be in a high stress environment
  22. May be criticized by co-workers, officers and/or citizens



    TYPES OF CALLS

  23. Answer telephone calls where someone screams at you
  24. Answer telephone calls where the caller directs obscene language at you
  25. Answer telephone calls from suicidal subjects
  26. Answer and respond to telephone calls where the caller is hysterical, intoxicated, irrational, or confused
  27. Answer and respond to rescue and fire calls
  28. Give medical instruction over the phone
  29. Answer and respond to calls where a violent crime is in progress
  30. Answer and respond to telephone calls in which the caller is almost impossible to understand
  31. Make quick decisions on which one or more person’s safety is at stake
  32. Prioritize calls to be dispatched, deciding which is most serious
  33. Tell someone who expects police service that their problem does not require police unit response

After reading through this, and being aware of most of it from sit-alongs at WCECD and dispatcher blogs, I still want to give this a shot. Probably proves I’m a little nuts, but, as most of you know, I really have been interested in this type of work for a long time. We’ll see what comes of it.

Unteachable?

Unteachable?

I have a question for my readers. Especially those of you who are teachers. Is it possible for someone to be incapable of learning something, or is it merely finding the way to teach it to them?

Example.

If I am paid by the state Vocational Rehabilitation agency to train someone in the use of software required for a job, including screen access and Microsoft Office products, and that person has absolutely no grasp of what I am teaching them how do I handle that? When I taought this person a specific task and they could not repeat the task mere minutes later I begin to wonder is it a problem with my teaching or their comprehention. I have also been told that this individual has already been taught everything I am reteaching her.

I’m kind of frustraited. I have an obligation to the state to teach the client the software they purchased for her. I have an obligation to the employer to teach the software required for the job. I also have an obligation to my student. Is there, however, a point at which I say, “hey. I’ve taught this task eleventy-billion times and there is absolutely no retension. This person is not trainable.” Or am I just giving up too soon.

I know the fundamentals of the screen reader are there. The person knows how to open programs, type, surf the web, so they are capable of learning new things, but why can’t I get them to understand how to switch folders in Outlook and remember that task 5 minutes later.

Maybe I just suck as a teacher.

I’ve got 2 more hours of traiing authorized before I have to ask for more if necessary. I’ll see on Tuesday if anything I have taught has sunk in.

Treva said that if it were a child she’d say repeat, and reinforce (or something like that). I don’t know that the state will pay for that, and I know the employer won’t be happy with that either. All the time I spend training is time taken away from productivity.

All right. Chime in. Please????? *pathetic wine* 🙂