• Tag Archives Personal
  • How are things?

    How’s it going?

    Is life treating you well?

    Not bad weather out there today is it! It’s a bit nippy but the sun was shining when I was out earlier.

    Any plans for Christmas? I’m off for two weeks around the end of December. No major plans for it just yet but I’m really looking forward to it! Just think! No work for two weeks!

    Good catching up with you.

    I’ll talk to you again soon yeah?

  • Some random thought’s

    Do you ever hear music that is so damn fantastic, you actually shiver while listening to it? Some stuff is just so good that it feels like I’ve just been dipped into a bath of ice cubes.

    I have had to ask Emma, my girlfriend to change deodorant as she’s started using one that my sister used when she was younger. I didn’t like the smell then and I still don’t like it now. Plus, From a person who really judges certain things from smell it was very very off putting.

    The Friday before last, I got so drunk, I’m almost afraid to drink too much again as although the hang over was mild in comparason to some, I did things that were not in character for me while out. I was almost afraid to return to the same pub this Friday. Fortunately nothing was said though!

    I’m listening to a CD at the moment from a group called Tripwire. I’m loving the different rhythms. Not exactly traditional. It’s more galithian sounding.

    I haven’t gone to a live gig in ages. I’m too busy playing music. I’m hoping to get a few gigs in around Christmas. There’s a few groups coming to Dublin and Drogheda that i’d love to see.

    I’m doing a lot with media center stuff at the moment. basically, i@m connecting all the media in the house. From music to movies to pictures, it’s all beginning to be accessible from any room at any time. And it’s all working with my screen reader. I’ll post in more detail about this again shortly.

    That concludes my random thought’s for today. Most of these are posted regularly on twitter. You’ll find the twitter feed on the left of this page. You can follow me at the username digitaldarragh

    Have fun.

  • Good dog!

    There’s nothing particularly special about this, it’s part of his job but still, I wanted to write it up here because if it wasn’t for him, I’d not be writing anything today.

    We were simply walking around the corner to a meeting in another building. On the road that connects both offices, there are three car park entrences. We’re aware of these so Freddie always pauses for a split second before continuing past. We’ve never actually met anything coming out or going in but he is trained to stop at kerbs and it’s something I like him to be aware of.

    Today was no different. We passed the first and the second entrence without issue and had stepped off the path for the third. Half way across though, a car started to my left.

    I thought nothing of it though and kept walking. Cars regularly park there as although it’s not a legitimit space, it’s handy.

    Before I could think any more about it though he must have begun reversing. I didn’t notice so kept walking. Before I knew it, I was pushed back by Freddie swinging across to my right. When he swings around like that, he lands across my body blocking my legs from moving any more. If he does it fast enough, he can push me back. It’s not really something he’s been trained to do, it’s just a reaction when he knows I shouldn’t move any further. I’m sure other guide dogs do something very similar.

    When I got back to the kerb I started from, I heard the car reverse into the car park.

    the stupid fool driving it obviously didn’t bother looking where he was going.

    I’m sure it wouldn’t have been a big deel, he couldn’t have been moving very fast but I’d say he would have hit both me and the dog if I wasn’t pushed out of the way.

  • Boxing.

    Boxing is never something I have really taken an interest in but it just happened to be on while I was over at another’s house last night.

    Tyson Fury faught some other fella who’s name escapes me at the moment. What was funny was Fury was a tower of a man in comparason. Both were heavy weights but Fury was almost a foot taller than the other man. How it was fair I won’t understand. There must not be a heavier weight that he could participate in. Anyway, it was quite funny. the commentator explained at the start of the match that Fury was only into his ninth professional match and hadn’t been beeten yet. You have to think to your self, if all his aponents are that different in height and weight, it’s really not surprising is it? It’s hardly a fair match!

    Even still, although Tyson Fury is known for generally winning on average on round two or three he lasted right to round six last night. If memory serves.

    The commentators complained that Fury was using a clawing action with his right hand and he wasn’t going to get very far with that kind of bad habbet. Although at the start they thought he was a sure bet, they spent most of the match putting him down. In fairness, it did seem like he was having way more problems than he should have had fighting such a smaller and lighter aponent. Of course, the size and weight isn’t everything but it’s a good help!

    At the end of the match Fury explained that he dammaged his right hand early on and couldn’t hit as hard with it therefore limiting what seems to be his trade mark right hook. But, he changed to south paw, i.e, seemingly using his left hand as the dominent and still managed to win all be it with a margin of three points.

    I was surprised at how entertaining it all was.

    Oh, then Bernard Dunne, after all his big talk over the week about how he was going to win this match in the memory of Darren Sutherland, a boxer who died last week, lost on round three. The aponent he had was much much better than Bernard and it seemed obvious from very early on. I hear that that first left hook dropped Bernard like a tun of bricks!

    So, Dunne’s lost his title. I definitly feel sorry for him. but, I think basing a marketing campaign on the tragic death of someone is kind of unscrupulous so he kind of deserved it.

  • The moral of the story is? You cant appreciate the good times without the bad.

    So, why write such personal and depressing posts such as The Low point and Live and learn?

    I wanted to make the point. even though I doubt it needs to be made, that if you don’t live through the crap and really hit a low then you cant appreciate enough when things are going well.

    I wouldn’t swap one moment of my time in that city refered to in the low point post with her for anything in the world. It was posatively a fantastic time until I blew it all to hell.

    Equally, although my memories of that time in Dundalk aren’t as posative, I learned too much about my self to ever want to take it away. Yeah, I was trampled on, taken advantage of and all that kind of stuff but moving away was the kick in the right direction I needed to really take responsibility for things.

    It’s been fun hasn’t it?

    Now, what to write about next!

  • Live and learn

    It was January and the start to a new year, a new way of living, a new town and a new sense of independents.

    I had moved my stuff into the apartment that I would share with two other people that I had yet to even speak to before on the Sunday afternoon. It was a new building but a small apartment so although I had my own room, the other two people shared the second room and we all used the shared living space.

    The apartment was finished to a poor standard. The walls were painted but there was no plaster on them. Wiring was surface mounted using what seemed to be metal industrial sockets. The apartment I had was on the ground floor and was actually quite cold but I didn’t care. This was my first place away from home that I was actually paying for my self and no one was helping with anything so I was happy. Oh, plus, they offered free Internet access so that was kind of a big selling point.

    I sat that evening with my room resembling some kind of order as a result of the previous five hours organization. Worrying about the people who would be living with me, about how I’d manage things like cooking, cleaning, money and living! Although I’d spent most of my time from the age of five in a boarding school in Dublin and therefore being away from my family in Drogheda was nothing strange for me, being away now was a very different feeling. I suppose, I felt the same as any other student living away from home for the first time. In my mind it was different though. At the time, I thought I had more to learn. I thought things would be harder for me. How was I supposed to learn how to wash clothes properly? How would I cook! How would I survive every month on such little money!

    I knew that my parents would have no reservation in letting me move back home but that was never an option. I was absolutely and completely determined that this would work.

    So, still I sat at the desk. Waiting, watching the time go by while I waited for the other two people to arrive.

    8:30! 9PM! 9:30! Still they didn’t arrive. I was going crazy with the anticipation. I was sure they were told that someone new was moving into the apartment but did they know that he was blind? Would they react badly to it? Would they be easy to get on with? Would they be what I thought was the normal student and spend their time drinking and smoking?

    It was 10PM before they arrived. I sat listening for a while before I could even consider leaving the room. The loudest person had a very thick Dublin accent and he seemed to be very sharp with his words. I over analysed everything he said. Waiting for a moment when I could come out without interrupting them. The second person sounded less intimidating. He sounded like he was from Navin or around that area. He spoke just as much as the first person though and seemed to have been in an argument with someone the week before.

    Before I could get out, two women came in. I assumed at the time that that they were with the two men who would be living with me. They all immediately began talking very loudly. One of the women was quieter but seemed to be battling to make her self sound as confident and as out going as the other. The louder of the two seemed as crude, obnoxious and as crazy as you’ll find anywhere else and I loved it!

    I was intimidated though. At the time, this kind of woman who was as certain of her self and who was as certain of the power she controlled over men was a very frightening and thrilling person.

    I finally found my chance and made an appearance. I still wasn’t confident with the layout of the apartment so as confidently as possible, I marched forward to greet the people that I was going to have to live with.

    The encounter was awkward for me but seemed to be as natural as walking for them. They were very comfortable and seemed to completely ignore the fact that I was blind. The only thing the quieter of the two men said in relation to it was that I could shout if I needed anything.

    My awkwardness, apprehension and timidness didn’t disappear easily though. In fact, it stayed with me for about a month.

    I listened, observed and spent as much time out of my room as I could attempting to get to know them. Gradually becoming more confident and comfortable.

    Weeks and months went by and the mindset that I had struggled with when moving into the apartment seemed to be dissipating. I began to get to know a lot of people from the apartment building that I lived in and the realization that most of them really didn’t pay any consideration to the fact that I couldn’t see began to teach me one of the most important lessons of my life so far. That being that for the most part, preconceptions can be reversed by initial impressions and that most people don’t think about disability all that much so don’t really have deep rooted misconceptions in the first place! That realization was a huge kick in the ass for me and was the foundation of my fantastic social life in college.

    As time went on I became almost infatuated by the louder of the two women. She was not as I previously expected involved with one of the men who I was living with and in fact wasn’t tied down at all! Her wild and spontaneous personality had me hooked and I spent a lot of time with her.

    In February, things started to go my way. Being the shy, quiet and hay, lets face it, inexperienced person I was, I had no idea what I was doing or how to proceed.

    But, proceed we did. All the way to May. Hay! That was a long time for me! I was new at all this stuff. And I genuinely couldn’t understand why a person who got on with absolutely everyone liked me so much.

    Anyway, I’ll skip forward.

    Oh, I need to tell you something funny! At the time, I didn’t have a phone that spoke so I needed to rely on someone else to read my text messages. I could send them so it was just the responses I had problems with. I got all sorts of people to read my messages. Family, friends, even people on busses! I remember on Saturday afternoon, I had to get my mother to read a text message. This was usually fine. I’ve quite a good relationship with my mother so not much could embarrass me. And, let’s face it, I had to read the message some how and there was no one else there! To my horror though, the message read something like this:

    Not doing much at the moment. Sitting on my bed watching porn.

    See the kind of person she was? Hahahahahahahaha.

    My mother probably went a shade of bright red and after clearing her throat calmly and cheerfully said,

    Darragh, you might want to get someone else to read those messages in future.

    Needlessly to say, I never got someone I didn’t know or a family member to read those messages ever again.

    All through these few months, I got on with another person who was a really good friend Lets call him Mr. X for the moment. From telling me that chicken was best cooked by boiling it to walking with me back from the other side of Dundalk with the two of us far too drunk to remember after a college Christmas party.

    So, back to the woman. That’s more interesting anyway isn’t it?

    I remember in May, we had just finished the final exams for the college term and I was going to walk with her into town. Along the way, we met up with another friend of ours who walked with us. Two minutes in to the conversation, the friend who met us commented on large bight marks all over her neck. Without even considering it, she explained how Mr. X seemed to take lumps out of her. In my disbelief I probed further. It was completely incomprehendable let alone why someone would cheat but how someone could actually so openly acknowledge it! They continued talking completely oblivious to what had just happened. We got another five minutes down the road before I made an excuse that I’d forgotten something and turned back.

    Unable to figure out a reason behind all this I walked back to my apartment and closed the door to my room behind me. Viciously I packed a bag and left for the first bus without even checking the time. I sat at the bus stop for an hour waiting while the events of the past two hours made me dizzy.

    How could she cheat!
    How could he cheat!
    How did she so openly admit it!
    What would he say?
    Would I get revenge?

    Dozens of questions flooded my mind. I sat gripping my cane for the entire hour. I got on the bus and continued gripping my cane. I arrived at Drogheda and my fingers and knuckles hurt with the tight grip I had kept on my cane. Fury doesn’t begin to explain how angry I was.

    So, in my parent’s house I sat. In a quiet room with my thoughts continuing to drive me crazy.

    It was later that night before I snapped out of it. A friend called me to invite me for a drinkso I jumped at the offer.

    At 11:30 though, after my mood had not improved for the entire day, I jumped on a late bus that stopped right out side the pub back to Dundalk.

    I wanted to confront Mr. X. Luckily though, he didn’t answer his door. I called and demanded an explanation. His reasoning was

    We got drunk. Thing

    s happen. I saw her outside looking for a lighter to have a smoke. I invited her up to my room to get one and one thing led to another.

    That was a great reason wasn’t it?

    I called her afterward to get an explanation from her. I think she had been on something because she was much more remorseful than she had been earlier that day.

    The rest as they say is history.

    Why did I write this and the post titled “The lowest point” yesterday? Simple. Shitty things happen from time to time. Things go so badly that we don’t know how to get through it. I’ve had bad experiences that seem like a walk in the park for some people but for me, they were the worse things imaginable. The whole cheating thing for example made me suspicious for years afterward. So much so that I couldn’t trust anyone for fear of them doing that again for years. But, even with that mistrust I was still caught out again. Some things you learn along the way, some make you stronger, some leave a scar that you’re stuck with but most of the shit that hits you can be washed off so you can start the next day smelling of roses. God that sounds really stupid doesn’t it? I’m leaving it there though because the point is a good one.

    Oh, to finish up the apartment side of the story, the two fellas who I lived with were great people. They wouldn’t exactly be the people I’d like to hang around with but they’d not do anyone any harm. I remember, I was the last one to leave the apartment that term so I had to clean it. I got rid of bags and bags of rubbish and more buts than I ever want to see again. It was a horrible job. But hay! It showed me that I never wanted to live with people in that environment ever again.

    What happened with Mr. X and the woman? Nothing! I don’t think they saw each other again. But, she’s keeping something from him. Not something that’s fair but it’s something I have no say in.

  • What to do when you meet a sighted person.

    People who use their eyes to acquire information about the world are called sighted people or “people who are sighted”. Legal sight means any visual acuity greater than 20/200 in the better eye without correction or an angle of vision wider than 20 degrees.

    Sighted people enjoy rich, full lives working, playing and raising families. They run businesses, hold public offices, get arrested and teach your children!

    How do Sighted People get Around?
    People who are sighted may walk or ride public transportation but most choose to travel long distances by operating their own motor vehicles, usually one passenger to a car. They have gone through many hours of extensive training to learn the rules of the road in order to further their independence. Once that road to freedom has been mastered, sighted people earn a legal classification and a drivers license which allows them to operate a private vehicle relatively safely and independently.

    How do you assist a sighted person?
    Sighted people are accustomed to viewing the world in visual terms. This means that in many situations they will not be able to communicate orally and may resort to stammering, pointing, hand waving or other gesturing. Subtle facial expressions may also be used to convey feelings in social situations. Calmly alert the sighted person to his or her surroundings by speaking slowly in a normal tone of voice. Questions directed at the sighted person help focus attention back on the verbal rather than the merely visual.

    How do sighted people remember things?
    Often they don’t remember things. In fact this is one of the most painful aspects of the visual affliction, the degree to which sight inhibits detailed memory. Often, the sighted person must reacquire the same information each time it is needed. You can help by being sensitive to their struggle by learning to anticipate their need and providing them with the information they need when it is necessary. Don’t tell them too much too quickly. Be sensitive to the capacities of the individual with whom you are dealing. These limitations vary from person to person and it is deeply upsetting to a sighted person to realize that you recognize their mental short comings.

    At times sighted people may need help finding things, especially when operating a motor vehicle. Your advance knowledge of routs and landmarks, bumps in the road, and traffic lights will assist the sighted person in finding their way quickly and easily. Your knowledge of building layouts can also assist the sighted person in navigating complex shopping malls and office buildings. Sighted people tend to be very proud and are reluctant to ask for assistance. Be gentle yet firm.

    How do sighted people use computers?
    The sighted person relies exclusively on visual information. His or her attention span fades quickly when reading long texts so it is best to write in bulleted lists of very brief items. The use of bright colors will help the sighted person stay focused. Computer information is presented to the sighted in a graphical manner to assist them in comprehending their world. Coordination of hands and eyes is often a preoccupation with sighted people so the computer mouse, a handy device that slides along the desk top, saves confusing keystrokes. With one button the sighted person can move around his or her computer screen quickly and easily, if not necessarily efficiently. People who are sighted are not accustomed to synthetic speech and may have great difficulty understanding even the clearest synthesizer, falling asleep between syllables or becoming distracted by a spot on the carpet. Be patient and prepared to explain many times how your computer works.

    How do sighted people read?
    Reading is accomplished by the sighted person through a system called “print,” which is a series of images drawn in a two dimensional plain. People who are sighted generally have a poorly developed sense of touch. Braille is completely foreign to them and severe bouts of disorientation can sometimes result from over exposure to the use of the higher senses.

    Sighted people cannot function well in dimly lit conditions and are generally completely helpless and often devastatingly frightened in total darkness. Their homes are usually very brightly lit at great expense as are businesses that cater to the sighted. Naturally these costs are passed on to the consumer.

    How can I support the sighted person?
    People who are sighted do not want your charity. They want to live, work, and play alongside you on as equal a basis as possible. You must ignore their tendency to display feelings that they are superior to you. Failing to allow them this delusion may promote aberrant and antisocial behavior. The best thing you can do to support sighted people in your community is to simply open yourself to their world and help open their limited world to the bounty of your experience. These citizens are vital contributing members of the community, real people with thoughts and feelings, hopes and dreams and a story to tell. Take a sighted person to lunch today and make them feel like you truly care.

    Author Unknown

  • The low point

    We’d just had a meal and because she had work the next day, we got a taxi back to her place.

    I’d been reading signals for the past three days and I was convinced I was right. Sure, there were other signals that should have cancelled out any doubt in my mind and for the most part, I was absolutely certain that this would work. For the other parts though, I couldn’t see how I was wrong. Surely I wasn’t good enough. Surely we were just too different. Surely the two different worlds we were from would constantly drive a wedge between us.

    In the taxi from the restaurant, I sat silently. Mulling everything over in my mind. Did I really want to do this? Would she care? Would she be devastated? Was I jumping the gun? May be I misread the signs!

    I don’t know if she picked up on my internal turmoil or not. I think she may have because she didn’t interrupt my quiet reflection.

    Then, the taxi stopped. I went in with her to make sure she was ok.

    Once inside, I did it. I crushed her hopes and dreams.

    She gave me the opportunity to see how stupid I was but I didn’t take it. I remember stopping in my head for a minute to recap on what I was doing but I’d committed to this action and my stupid stubbornness made me charge on. Even while I was explaining my self I knew I was making the wrong decision. But still, I continued and still I watched while I crushed the person in front of me who for so long meant and continued to mean so much to me.

    What probably only lasted a moment felt like an eternity. It really compounded the lesson, what takes years to build can be destroyed in seconds.

    Even as I walked away, down the single flight of stairs that led to the door, things around me seemed in slow motion even though I was practically at a sprint.

    I got into the taxi to take the trip home. I remember feeling enraged at my self for doing something so stupid. About half way there, the taxi driver attempted to start a conversation. I almost told him to shut up because I was so angry.

    I got home to an empty room. My rage still boiling out of control. My knees shook with the adrenalin that seemed to be shooting through me. It took an age for me to finally calm down. It took a few calls to a few people to really make me see how stupid I was. One person bet the crap out of me over the phone and the other tried to sympathise. Actually, the sympathy made me feel even worse! I wanted to be told how stupid I was. I needed a way of fixing what I’d stupidly broken.

    I don’t really know how I came to the decision, but I ended up back at her place. Knowing that I’d no chance of rebuilding what I’d just destroyed but hoping against hope anyway, I begged and pleaded for her to forgive my stupidity. Utterly unsuccessful, I left.

    I remember standing across the road about fifty meters away for a while thinking about everything that had happened. Its funny how something that seems so justifiable at 4PM can seem like the most stupidest, senseless and unthought out thing you’ve ever thought of by 8PM.

    I could have caught a bus back into town but to attempt to clear my head, although I didn’t really even know where I was going, I faced in the direction of town and kept walking. I had no dog at the time so I only had my cane. I walked through quiet roads with no people or cars for a long time that night. Thinking, listening to the rhythmic sound of my cane as it scanned left. Right. Left. Right. Left. right. Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Right. It’s strange but I often find that sound very calming. It is a distraction from everything else in my head. It’s almost like listening to a clock in large quiet room.

    Again I returned home, but although I should have been tired enough to collapse into unconsciousness I remained awake for hours.

    The next day, as arranged, I paid her a visit before work. But still, my hopes that my mistakes from the day before could be forgiven did not happen. Recognising that the hurt I caused was not something I was going to be able to fix, I left.

    A lot happened in the next three days. Circumstances at the time meant that I was completely isolated, without anyone to speak to and in an unfamiliar city. I deserved absolutely everything that was thrown at me. I walked for most of the days exploring my environment while failing to remove the thoughts of the Sunday events from my mind. Of course, I probably didn’t try too hard. My thinking was that I deserved to feel so low because of the stupid choices I’d made.

    At night, I eat alone and went to bed at a ridiculously early hour.

    Although two days is a really short time, when you’re alone, with absolutely no one you know around you at the lowest point that you can remember in your life, it may as well be two years.

    To be clear, it wasn’t the first time I had finished things with someone and it wasn’t going to be the last time either. What was different was that it was my own lack of self confidence and my feeble and wildly inaccurate attempt to read signs that actually destroyed something that was great and it was completely my fault.

    The last time I saw her was as I was leaving for a bus. If there was ever a gut wrenching, brain frying moment it was then. I won’t go into it too much but although things were very frayed for that entire afternoon, I held out hope for the entire day that I would get to speak to her alone to attempt to smooth things over. But, it wasn’t to be. The moment passed and I was left standing at a bus stop going a completely different direction.

    It took about seven or eight hours travelling before I was back in familiar surroundings again. During about six of those hours I wrote, thought and listened. My brain was completely stuck on a loop.

    Strangely, during the last bus connection, my mind gradually began snapping out of this repetitive cycle that it had been in for the three days prior. Thoughts that I’d had began to seem less necessary and solutions became more accessible. Not accessible enough to be viable yet but accessible none the less. Does that make sense? It’s not meant to. Nothing made sense at this point.

    Should I go further?

  • Pictures of Leitir Móir, an Island off the west of Ireland.

    Maire, a very good friend of mine has recently posted some fantastic pictures of the area that she grew up in.

    I’d suggest that everyone go take a look.

    Even if you cant see, Maire has created a really fantastic way of explaining the images to you. You’ll be impressed……. I certainly was. and continue to be.

    If only more bloggers took her initiative.

    The pictures are at: http://kittee83.blogspot.com/2009/09/walk-through-leitir-moir-to-tra-bhain.html

  • The wow factor.

    I’ve been twittering for the past week about a surprise that I was organising for Emma. It’s always hard to get Emma to show her excitement in anticipation of a surprise like that. She hides it well. Partially because she knows it bothers me that it looks like she doesn’t care! But, with the public clues on Twitter and my misdirection throughout the week, she tried to hide her curiosity but it didn’t work. It all got the better of her by Friday evening.

    Win 1 for me! ha!

    Anyway, let me explain just some of what I had organised.

    I rented one of the largest suites in the five star Radisson SAS hotel in Belfast city centre. This was a major upgrade from their normal room that included a separate living area with a leather suite, a 40 inch TV, a DVD player and air conditioning. It also had the largest bathroom I’ve ever seen that included a massive bath, two sinks and a shower with the funkiest tap thing I’ve ever seen. The room was on one of the top floors so from the window Emma had a great view of the city lights.

    In addition to this, I also upgrade the service to something called a touch of luxury that included Champaign, chocolate covered strawberries, fresh fruit, slippers and a dressing gown and a few other things that I can’t remember off hand at the moment. It was way way more than Emma had expected!

    The hotel was only one part of it though. I also had to do the usual thing of organising a meal. This was in a new restaurant that was also five star called Burbin. Don’t get me wrong. I’m usually not bothered by how many stars something is or how sophisticated they say they are but I wanted to make this whole thing something that Emma had never experienced before.

    There were a few other things organised as well but I won’t go into everything here.

    I’ve a few pictures from Sunday night shown below.

    Move your mouse over them if you want a text description. If you’re using a screen reader, you’ll get these descriptions automatically.

    Emma standing with a dress on and her hair straightened.

    Picture of a table in the hotel suite with the bottle of shampaign, glasses, flowers and the chocolates and fruit layed out.

    A picture of the huge huge bed.......

    A picture of the two sinks in  the bathroom.  Emma thought this was really cool. I think she wants this.

    A picture of the very large bath.