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  • Vegan week – Day 2

    I was working from home today so I wasn’t up and out so early.

    The coffee with the Coconut milk is ok but it’s not great.  It makes the coffee taste very strong.  I usually like a good strong coffee but this was different.  It’s tolerable but not great.

    This afternoon I tried Almond milk instead.  This makes the coffee as smooth as with normal milk.  I’d definitely recommend it.

    Of course I started with my normal bowl of Weetabix.  I made My daughter Méabh’s first using normal milk but she has her eye on the coconut milk.  I’ll probably work from home again for a day or two this week so I must let her try it.  Again, it’s fine.  No major difference. I find that the Weetabix goes a bit dry faster than with normal milk but that’s a minor annoyance.

    This afternoons dinner was late.  Sometimes schedules just can’t be met. I had a lot of work on that wasn’t being very accommodating to my need to have sustenance around 1PM so I waited until about 4.

    Today’s dinner was a Vegan shepherds pi. The recipe is below.  Please believe me that it was one of the nicest things I’ve ever tasted.  It was just fantastic.  That’s definitely one we’ll do again.

    Dinner can be found here.

    I’ll hold my hands up and say that because we are using fresh produce for everything I’m absolutely useless when it comes to cooking this stuff so as one of Emma’s aunts pointed out, Emma has taken an on a lot of the challenge of this week.  This isn’t lost on me and I really appreciate it. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start with a lot of these new dishes.

    We weren’t in the mood for anything substantial later today so Emma made these small biscuit things.  Again, they were really good and apart from the bit of jam on the top, they were very healthy.  Unfortunately, Emma didn’t particularly like them but I thought they were fine.  Again, the recipe is below.

    The snack can be found here.

    Thanks for following along and thanks for the comments.

    Vegan Shepards pi just made. File 16-02-2016, 23 04 29 File 16-02-2016, 23 04 49


  • Vegan week – Day 1

    To the Vegans:
    Please don’t think that I am belittling or disrespecting your choice if you are a Vegan. If anything, my exploration of one aspect of your lifestyle is a sign of admiration for the choice you have made.

    Here goes. Day one. It started like all days. Up at 6:40AM, Grab a cup of coffee and a bowl of Weetabix before jumping into the shower, shaving and running out the door. However, today I couldn’t have dairy so instead had Coconut milk. First impressions are that it’s actually not that bad.

    Dinner was a vegetable biriyani. Rice, a truck load of vegetables that I never eat and some kind of sauce.

    At this point I need to credit Emma. She’s doing all the hard work in preparing these recipes.

    Dinner was lovely. The vegetables and no meat made for an unusual texture but the taste was fantastic. There were a few vegetables in there that I wouldn’t really like but you really need to understand that from a very early age I have had a loathsome relationship with vegetables. I hate the things with a passion. A small bit of a carrot on my plate is enough and only very rarely. That’s one of the reasons I’ve taken on this challenge. I except that I need to change so this will force me in the right direction.

    Dinner can be found here.

    Tea was a vegetable burger. It’s a recipe written by Jamey Oliver. Not the nicest thing I’ve ever eaten by a long shot. The description suggests using sauce and after trying the burger without the sauce I fully understand why that’s a suggestion. Ordinarily I never use sauce. I think it’s almost disrespectful to the cook. It’s basically saying that you need to hide the flavour of what has been cooked by using an over powering sauce. That’s probably what is needed with this burger but it wasn’t bad with a small bit of sauce so that will be tried again later in the week. There are still two there so we’ve put them into the fridge for Wednesday night.

    That’s it. Short and to the point. Today was the first day of my week long challenge. It wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would.

    the burgers can be found here.

     

    Pictures:

    eFour Veggie burgers in a pan File 15-02-2016, 23 40 10 File 15-02-2016, 23 41 13 File 15-02-2016, 23 41 34


  • 30 Challenges in 2016

    Jenny is to blame for the following posts.
    She’s turning 30 on Thursday. Wish her a happy birthday in the comments or over at her blog. To mark this she wants thirty challenges for the next year. I became very interested in this and stole the idea a few weeks ago.

    Since then people have given me a number of suggestions such as

    • Learn to use a compass and read a map. Using some kind of accessible method.
    • Clime Croke Patrick and play a tune at the top.
    • Knit a granny blanket.
    • Make finding a basketball hoop accessible to someone who can’t see where it is.
    • Eat vegetarian food only for one week.
    • Learn a tune on the fiddle
    • Play music for 24 hours solid.

    There’s more but I’ll give more detail in the next week or two.

    I love all of these suggestions and where possible, I’m taking them to a slightly new level. For example, I’ve heard a lot about veganism in the past few weeks so instead of just eating vegetarian for a week I’ve decided with the help of Emma to go all out and try a vegan diet for a week.

    This week I’ll explain some of what this will inhale.

    As those who know me will understand, I love meet. Chicken, stake, some fish, pork, it’s all good. Having no milk or dairy products or in fact, no products based on animals at all will be a shock to my system. However, I think it’s an important exercise and challenge so I’m up for giving it a go.

    The following posts will explore my vegan week in more detail. Look at the 30 challenges in 2016 tag for more.


  • Babies, houses and star wars. Beat that for a title!

    Are you going to Star wars? I’m hoping to get to it in the next few days. I must look later to see if there are any cinemas that are providing audio description. There are a few around Dublin city that are good at it.

    This site is now twelve years old. Imagine that? During the life of the site I’ve said this next part too often but here goes again. I’m very sorry for neglecting this lately. But It’s Christmas, the end of yet another year so let me make up for that slightly with a bit of a post.

    When I say a lot has happened since my last post I’m really under stating it.

    Emma had a baby. I now have a son! He was eight pound ten ounces at birth. Now he’s a monster at about fourteen pounds or more. He’s now just over two months and he’s growing at an incredible rate every day.

    I should have written about the birth but I’ve been far too busy enjoying time with Méabh my two year old daughter and Rían my two month old son to spent time putting into words the incredible memories and thought’s I have.

    I was so fortunate to be there and involved with the birth of my son. I was even more involved compared to Méabh’s birth. It was such an incredible experience. Although I really didn’t care if it was a boy or a girl I felt a tiny tinge of delight when I heard I had a son. As always, the mid wives and nurses couldn’t have been more professional, efficient and helpful. I am very thankful for the care and time they gave Emma. Nothing was a problem. Nothing was an inconvenience.

    Méabh absolutely loves her little brother and from the first day we got back from the hospital she has been really helpful to us and loving to her brother. Jealousy is something we were told to watch out for but just over two months on all Méabh has done is watch after her little brother. We hope it will continue like this but all indications are that it will.

    Off the baby topic, we’re doing a huge amount of work to the house. The number of jobs the builder has taken on are actually too long to list but some of the highlights are:

    • New driveway. Finally we’ll get rid of that stupid slip of contract that fit the car and no more.
    • New stair case. People tell us we’re mad doing this but I didn’t like the design of the old stair case and no one could actually upgrade the existing stairs fully without leaving bits behind that would stick out so this is going to be a better job.
    • Moving light switches and burying wires in the hall. Again, we were going to get this done in 2008 but there’s a lot of work involved which will cost a lot to do right.
    • Renovating the garage. My office is moving from upstairs into the garage so as we can give Rían his own room.
    • Insulating the shed and basically making it into a part of the house for storage. This wasn’t part of the original idea but it makes sense to do it now.
    • Reinsulating the front wall of the living room. This was done when we bought the house back in 2008 but we’ve still had problems with the heat in that room so this will help.
    • More insulation. We’re also insulating a lot of the ground floors and the roof in the extension.

    It’s incredible to go in every night to find that the house has been ripped apart and put together again.


  • The Apple Watch with Voiceover review – Day 7

    Someone made a comment a few days ago about the Apple Watch and specifically Voiceover that I found kind of interesting. She said that the Apple watch isn’t like a normal talking watch. A normal talking watch has very slow speech feedback and the volume is static. It also usually chimes before announcing the time to the world. An Apple Watch might not be as discrete but it has a coolness factor at the moment that slightly negates the annoying factor for people around me. I can only hope that lasts. Her point was that the Apple Watch speaks much faster because I have it configured at that speed and if I’m going into an environment that’s quieter I can set the volume of the speech appropriately so that while in a quiet meeting for example it doesn’t shout my notifications out to the world.

    In most reviews of the Apple Watch I’ve read that people get annoyed by the number of notifications. I have to say that I’m not annoyed by them at all. I find that I actually miss most of the notifications that come in to the Apple Watch. This is because the tap is so slight that unless I’m not busy I really won’t notice. The iPhone demands attention but the Apple Watch quietly asks for it.

    I’m a techy. I love all things techy therefore it’s a given that I’ll get to like the Apple Watch but I don’t love it. I don’t see myself feeling naked without the Apple Watch like I do when I forget my phone. Sorry. That’s not quite true. I don’t feel naked without my phone but I feel like I’m missing something important. The Apple Watch isn’t that important to me. Apple announced on Monday that Apple OS version 2 will be out in September or October. I’m really hoping they address the short comings I’ve outlined on this blog in the past week. I’ll be emailing accessibility@apple.com to make sure they are aware of my problems, complaints and annoyances. I can only hope that every other Voiceover user of the Apple Watch does the same thing. If people don’t tell Apple what they are doing wrong they really can’t expect them to fix the problems for the next release.


  • Apple Watch with voiceover review – Day 2

    Day two with the Apple watch was quite uneventful.

    I was working from home so I reached my standing goal and my activity goal but I didn’t get anywhere near reaching my exercise goal. I’m hoping today will be a little better.

    Because I was at home I also didn’t have any problem with being unable to hear the watch due to background noise.

    I spent some time before work learning more about it. I still haven’t figured out how to turn off the noises for Voiceover but I learned that I can increase and decrease the volume reasonably easy. Double tap the screen with two fingers then slide up or down. The problem that I’ve encountered however is that when you release your fingers from the screen the volume can go up or down a bit. It’s not very accurate. It’s also not all that efficient so it can’t be done in a hurry.

    I also noticed that in glances you can move through the items by using the scroll area at the bottom. This is much faster than flicking up and down and then double tapping on next or previous item.

    I’ve enabled digital crown navigation. This can be done by triple tapping with two fingers. I like this method of navigation. Especially for notifications. The problem I have encountered though is when you use it to quickly move down to the last control labelled dismiss voiceover doesn’t always tell you that you’re there. It feels like an unfinished feature.

    I looked through the manual yesterday to try to find a list of Voiceover gestures. I had no success. If they are in a manual, they are well hidden.

    I’m still very irritated by the watch constantly turning on when I move my hand. Obviously I use my hands for everything. Finding things, opening doors, typing, playing music, my guide dog etc. The watch has absolutely no awareness of this though and constantly turns on and off. Each time it turns on Voiceover plays a sound and speaks the time. The problem is, I like this feature but I’d prefer if it was more intelligent. The funny thing is, I’ve read other reviews of the Apple Watch that have complained that the wrist movement isn’t fluid enough. In other words when the reviewers moved their wrist the watch face doesn’t turn on. Maybe this is something Apple have rectified and as a result have made it over sensitive.

    I have liked getting the notifications on my wrist though. Especially for work. I don’t get over loaded so it’s nice to get the important things even when I’ve stepped away or I’m talking to someone.

    Speaking of stepping away, one of the draws of the Apple watch for me is the fitness and activity side of things. I know I need to be more active. This is showing me exactly how much more. It may not be as accurate as dedicated devices on the market but it’s accessible and it’s accurate enough to send me in the right direction.


  • The apple Watch with Voiceover – Day 1

    The Apple watch on my wristI ordered the Apple Watch a few days after it was officially available in April and it arrived yesterday, a bit sooner than I had expected.

    I had tried one in the Apple store in Belfast back in April but the demonstration models didn’t have the ability to enable Voiceover so my conclusion wasn’t definitive on if this was going to be a benefit or not. However, as I like all things techy, I decided to go and buy one regardless.

    I want these reviews to be comprehensive without being too long so let me jump right into it.

    Firstly, there is an offal lot of packaging. I don’t know how Apple is ticking its sustainability box when it has so many little bits of packaging around the watch. It came in a card board box. Inside this was a card board shell which suspended another card board box. Inside this was a plastic box with the watch in the middle. The watch was also wrapped in about four types of plastic from the outside of the box to the strap.

    Fortunately it had plenty of battery when I started with it. It wasn’t at 100% but it was probably around 90. I turned it on, successfully paired it with my phone and within a few minutes the Apple watch was talking and working well. It’s just as well it was a quick process as I got it into my hands at 7:35 and I had to be out by 7:50PM last night.

    The fact I had to go straight out after the watch was configured meant that I didn’t really give myself enough time to get even slightly comfortable with this new user interface. I knew how to check the time, get to glances, open notifications and move around applications but I hadn’t yet customized the watch face or installed the update to 1.01.

    On the up side, bringing the Apple Watch out straight away meant that it was thrown into a real life scenario right out of the box. I had to meet the rest of my family for a big event so the room that we were in was very noisy. This posed a challenge for the Apple Watch from the perspective of a Voiceover user. How do you gain the benefit of the apple watch as a discrete extension of your iPhone when you need to have the volume up so high that everyone in the room can hear it or you need to hold your arm close to your ear like someone doing a type of very weird salute? It was one of the reasons I have a lot of reservations about the Apple watch. I have always hated talking watches with a passion. Do I really want to use one?

    I’m in noisy environments a lot so I’ll explore this potential problem more as the days go on.

    The other problem I had was when we were eating. I’d move my arm and the watch would start talking. It’s very irritating but yet I see the benefit of this feature being enabled when I’m walking. Unfortunately there’s no quick way of disabling this that I know of however I must say that I haven’t bothered reading the manual yet. I probably should have read some of this by now but I generally only read the manual when all else fails.

    I got the opportunity to configure the watch a little more last night when I got back at 1AM. It seems easy enough to use.

    One complaint I have is that voiceover is far too sluggish. Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s very slow to respond, it just means that it’s slower than the phone to respond to flicks and taps. This is probably an unfair comparison to make. The phone has a much more powerful processor but if the screen reader doesn’t respond instantly to gestures the user interface feels sluggish and the experience feels very cumbersome.

    I’m being harsh. This is the first version of the Apple Watch but for the price I’ve paid for it, I demand a certain standard. The Voiceover implementation doesn’t begin to live up to that standard.

    One of my plans when buying the Apple watch was to make my own watch face. This wouldn’t be a visual face, it would use the taptic engine to provide the time in a sequence of vibrations. Unfortunately Apple put a stop to my plan by restricting the development of watch faces.

    One very positive point to the Apple Watch is it is smaller and lighter than my TISSOT TOUCH SILEN-T watch.


  • You can lead a horse to water…

    A friend of mine would stop and talk to homeless around her area. Many of these homeless people were alcoholics or drug addicts. When I asked her why she spent so much time on these people her response was that life is a roller-coaster. You’re up one day and the next your down. There’s a half an inch of water and you think you’re going to drown. That’s just the way the world goes round. She said that you really never know when that could be you some day. The least you would want people to do is treat you like any other person. Dignity, respect and understanding don’t cost anything.

    So when I heard of a friend of a friend who had recently become homeless these words rang like alarm bells.

    I offered to let the person stay in our house because I know from previous encounters that they are a fantastic musician and it would only take the right contacts to get them back in the gigging scene again. Within no time I know the person would have a stable income and be able to properly afford a home again.

    I have also made the mistake before of trying to help too much. I came across as being too forceful and possibly even patronizing. From that experience I also know that peoples pride can never be under estimated so basically, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. With this in mind, when this person came to our house during the week I gave a couple of suggestions but I didn’t push or over state anything.

    I freely gave the use of two 16.5 inch RCF speakers or a small boes digital speaker and amp along with a mixer and as many mikes, stands and cables as needed. With this person’s talent and equipment like this at their disposal it would only take a few days to start building up some really nice solo gigs.

    I then gave a few numbers of some brilliant friends of mine who would jump at the opportunity to be introduced to such a good musician.

    Finally, I have quite a few contacts in the social housing industry so I offered some information.

    Without pushing or favouring any solution, I was basically handing this person the means to get out of this homeless situation without asking for anything in return. Within a week the person would have built up a contacts list that would have resulted in a flood of performances and enough money to put a deposit down on an apartment rental.

    I was kind of shocked when not only did the person not jump at any of these opportunities, they didn’t even get up to wash a cup or put away their bed clothes the next morning. As we don’t have a spare room at the moment our living room was the only option. Fortunately, our living room has a very comfortable couch that has been used as a bed many a time by visitors. Yes. By visitors in case any of you get ideas.

    24 hours after the person came, I decided that they really didn’t want any help to get out of this situation. They were quite content to live off the generosity of others. My generosity has a limit and I have absolutely no intention of helping someone who won’t help themselves so I put an end to my offer.

    It’s frustrating. I would have gladly given more time if the person had even bothered to help out around the house. I would assume that someone who finds themselves homeless would do absolutely everything possible to get a home again. But in the meantime, when depending on people to shelter you from the elements at night, the least you can do is use the opportunities given to you and contribute as much as you can to the people who are giving you somewhere to sleep.