Online Window Shopping #WotW

Hi again everyone. Today I’m joining Word of the Week. The idea is to sum up your week in a word or phrase. Today’s phrase of the week is: online window shopping.

You see, like I mentioned last week, I had resolved not to spend any more unnecessary money until my benefits arrived on the 23rd (last Friday). I actually kept this promise to myself and didn’t buy anything, but over the week, I did have a lot of ideas of what I wanted to buy once my benefits arrived. Then when they did, it was almost the weekend, so I decided not to spend my money yet because my packages wouldn’t be sent out till after the weekend anyway.

Most of my online window shopping involved crafty stuff. Like I mentioned yesterday, I got it in my head that I wanted to try latch hooking again. Thankfully, my day activities staff remembered that a client at my pre-COVID group at the day center used to do this but no longer did. She went looking for the supplies and, on Thursday, I had a bit of canvas, a latch hook and a whole lot of yarn. The yarn was cut too short for me to work with right now, but I had some yarn and lace in my room too. Learning the craft again was hard, but I eventually managed to make some knots.

I also found a really cool polymer clay ornament while browsing some other blogs and this got me thinking of restarting polymer clay. Like jewelry-making and latch hooking, I did this in the past but threw my supplies away because I couldn’t manage the craft fully independently. Now that I let go of that ambition and actually have the one-on-one support I need, I am really thinking of restarting the craft. This blogger used an embossing folder and glitter glue to decorate her ornament, which had me looking at card making stores again too. I’m pretty sure that’s the only craft I’ll never pick up again.

I also did some online window shopping that didn’t involve crafts. Like, on Thursday I found out that NVDA, a free screen reader I occasionally use on my PC, now works with the Vocalizer voices I’m used to with JAWS and VoiceOver (my regular PC and iPhone screen readers). I immediately downloaded the add-on, only to realize that of course I’ll need a license. I mean, NVDA may be free, but the Vocalizer voices are not. A license costs €99. I’m still undecided as to whether I want to invest in it or wait for JAWS to fix the one major bug that leads me to using NVDA, that is, the inability to use the WordPress block editor with it.

Lastly, on Friday, I got talking to my assigned home staff about stim toys. Specifically, chewable jewelry. I initially thought that only U.S.-based sites sold them, but it turns out several of my fellow clients use them. I looked up chewable jewelry and found several online stores in the Netherlands that sell them. Of course, they’re marketing them mostly for children, so I may need one for heavier chewers. I haven’t yet decided on buying it though.

How would you sum up your week?

Word of the Week linky

Early Days Online

Yesterday, Rory asked whether we remember our first times online or with a computer in general. I certainly do. I may have shared some of these memories before, but just in case I haven’t, I’m going to dedicate a post to them.

I got my first computer at the age of eleven in January of 1998. That one didn’t have an Internet connection though. Its operating system, Windows 95 SP2 (which my father explained was like Windows 96), did support Internet Explorer, but my screen reader didn’t. That screen reader, Slimware Windows Bridge, was quite primitive. So was the Braille display, which I remember to be attached to my computer via the printer port. Though it did work with just Braille, without speech, if the speech unit in the Braille display malfunctioned, so did the entire thing.

In 2002, I got my second computer and my first JAWS version. For those who don’t know, JAWS is the most commonly-used screen reader today. This computer had Windows 98 installed on it and it did have Internet access.

My father at first was adamant that I use the Internet as much as I want, even though we had a dial-up connection back then (not the kind where you can’t phone and go online at the same time). He said that, if the bill got too expensive, we’d get broadband. Then when the bill did get to over €300 over the summer, it turned out broadband wasn’t available at our house. After a few months of my parents trying to restrict my Internet access and my trying to evade said restrictions, we eventually got cable.

I got my first online diary that fall of 2002. It was on DiaryLand if I remember correctly, though I often switched between DiaryLand, Diary-X, Teen Open Diary and whatever else was available. The only service I never actively used, was Xanga. I also had a Dutch online diary.

The worst mistake I made, looking back, was not taking care of other people’s privacy. I not only wrote out every argument I’d had with my parents in detail, but also referred to other people, such as my teachers, by their real names. One teacher in particular had a rather unusual last name and at one point was googling her name for genealogy purposes. Not surprisingly, she stumbled upon my Dutch diary. Though I (interestingly) had used a nickname there, she quickly found out it was me. She personally didn’t mind, but did caution me that others might.

What mistakes did you make in your early days online?

Braille Display #WotW

Hi all! What a week it’s been! From frustration to complete panic and back to relief, all because of my Braille display. That’s my word of the week for this week. Let me share why.

Like I’ve shared a couple of times before, I’ve had problems with my current Braille display ever since I first got it two years ago. Dots kept getting stuck, leading to errors in my reading. After all, Braille characters are comprised of at most eight (for computer Braille) dots in a rectangular cell. When, say, dot four is stuck, an A reads like a C or vice versa. It’s workable as long as it’s just one or two dots that are stuck out of the forty times eight dots on my forty-cell Braille display. However, at one point several dots in one cell were stuck, meaning that one was essentially useless.

After a technician had come out to repair my Braille display several times, he sent it back to the manufacturer for checking out in June of last year. I got a replacement on loan until it’d been fixed, which never happened.

Fast forward to last Sunday. When not one, but two or three dots were stuck on my Braille display, I decided I’d had enough and wanted it fixed. Either that or I wanted the original one back. I E-mailed the company, also asking what I could do to prevent dots getting stuck again. On Monday, I got a relatively generic response: other than not touching my Braille display with wet or dirty hands, there was nothing I could do. Well, I always make sure my hands are clean and dry before touching my Braille display. On Tuesday, the company’s repair planning called me to schedule an appt to get the thing repaired today.

Then on Wednesday, the company’s business developer called me to inform me that they’d found that my original Braille display – remember, the one that was with them or the manufacturer for a year -, had suffered water damage. All 40 cells needed replacing at a cost of €1500. Health insurance wouldn’t pay for this. Maybe home insurance would or I’d have to pay out-of-pocket.

I decided that, if I had to spend €1500 anyway, I’d be looking at getting another brand of Braille display, since I don’t trust my current one. I mean, I always handle my Braille display with care and not just the original one, but the replacement one too had problems. I actually got a little excited looking at what’s available, but at the same time quite panicked at the prospect of having to spend at least €1500 in one go. I’ve literally never made purchases over €1000.

Yesterday evening, I got an E-mail confirming the appt for repair of the replacement Braille display. I panicked again, since what if they decided I’d somehow ruined this one too or I got a huge bill after it got repaired?

Today, my husband called the business developer. He had seen the photos of the so-called water-damaged original Braille display, which the guy argued proved that I had somehow ruined it. Well, my husband argued that, since they’d had it for at least as long as I had originally had it, there was no way to prove it didn’t get water-damaged or anything while with them. Since I have no recollection of it getting wet at all, there is no way home insurance is going to cover a repair. In fact, they’d too argue that there’s no way the company can prove it isn’t their fault. The bottom line is I can keep the replacement Braille display, it would get repaired and I won’t have to pay. The technician who came out to replace the cells that had damaged dots, confirmed that it hadn’t been anything I had done causing this one to malfunction. Now, at least until/unless more dots get stuck on this one, I’m so relieved and happy! To be honest though, I’m so used to dots being stuck that I keep checking I’m reading my Braille display correctly. That’s okay though. Now let’s think of what I can spend those €1500 on. No, not really.

Word of the Week linky

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 16, 2020)

It’s been several weeks since I last joined in with the #WeekendCoffeeShare community. I was thinking of doing a post earlier in the evening, but it was just too soaring hot in my room still. Now it’s past midnight, so technically Sunday and I’m joining in.

If we were having coffee, I would ask you how the weather is where you are, only to complain about the weather here. It’s been over 30°C here all week. Today was slightly cooler, but the humidity made it very exhausting. I’m almost hoping for some thunderstorms tonight. You know, I’m scared of them, but I really hate this heat.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my computer crashed on Monday. I guess it got hit with the heat too. It was fine again Tuesday after leaving it off for a night and is still fine now.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the woman who lives in the other home that’s part of my facility whom I often talk to, had her birthday on Thursday. I gifted her a keychain that I’d made and she loved it. She did feel a little uncomfortable when my staff asked her whether she’d like to have me visit sometime, but that’s because she needs time to process.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I made some delicious banana and strawberry milkshakes over the past few days.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I got a bargain on some peaches and blueberries at the local supermarket. They were three packages of fruit for €5. Blueberries are pretty expensive so I got a small package of those, but I got two large packages of peaches. They are the wild, flat kind of peaches and they’re delicious! I got them on Thursday. Though I ate all the blueberries that evening, I haven’t even emptied the first box of peaches yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I talked to my nurse practitioner on Thursdday. I sent him some piece of writing I’d done for my staff about how I’m feeling. I left the link to my blog in my signature, which I’m not sure was the right thing to do. He said he’d been browsing around a bit. Of course, that made me feel uncomfortable, so I asked him whether he had some type of weird idea about me now. The main reason I asked is because he asked about the meaning of my blog URL, which of course refers to my seeing myself as multiple. I’m trying not to care, of course, and I won’t be censoring myself based on who might read my blog. I know this is a public blog so to be careful about my and especially others’ privacy.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I have a ton of ideas for blog posts in my mind, but for whatever reason (the heat, maybe), I cannot quite concentrate enough to write them. I’m also thinking of finally starting up my journal writing prompts blog, which I registered with WordPress some months ago. I will post a formal announcement when/if this happens.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that my husband came by for a visit today. We’d originally planned for me to go to our house for a night, but my husband proposed we eat somewhere and go for a walk. We ended up getting a burger and milkshake at McDonald’s. The walk was short, as I didn’t want to walk in a forest because I had my sandals on and it was too hot and humid to walk anywhere else.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (May 2, 2020) #TToT

It’s been forever since I did a gratitude post. Right now I’m feeling a little frustrated with the fact that I am blind. I want to participate to the fullest in the social media thing, but it seems images are often required and I can’t do them. Other blind people apparently can, but I can’t. Anyway, to cheer myself up, I’m taking part in Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT. Here’s what I’ve been grateful for lately.

1. The beautiful weather last week. Okay, it’s been raining a lot this week, but last week-end, it was sunny and warm. I loved it!

2. Being able to take regular walks in spite of the bad weather this week. Somehow, my staff and I managed to find time inbetween rainstorms to go for some walks. Yesterday and today, I even took some late evening walks after most of the other clients were in bed.

3. Making plans for more activities I can do with my day activity staff. On Monday, we will be trying out a basic oatmeal recipe with banana. I remember my sister ate oatmeal for breakfast when she was little and I didn’t like it. I hope I like it with the banana added. I’ve also looked into overnight oats recipes. I definitely like that.

4. The orange puff pastry we ate with our coffee for King’s day on Monday.

5. Getting crunchy muesli for breakfast. It took the staff some time before we found the right one, the one with four kinds of nuts and crunchy muesli, not granola. Yes, I’m picky like that.

6. My teddy bear getting washed. I thought it’d gotten a hole in its fur, but it turned out to be just dirty. After I finish this blog post, I’m going to cuddle up with it in my bed.

7. My computer. I’m really enjoying using it. I know, I’ve had it for ten months already, but up till this week almost always chose my phone to do most things on. I’m now actually loving writing this post in good ol’ Notepad.

8. Having finished the #AtoZChallenge. I’m definitely proud of myself for actually getting it all done.

9. Keeping my writing mojo now that the challenge is over with. I don’t know for how long I’ll be motivated to keep writing, but we’ll see.

10. Being more alert in general. Okay, I think I may be a little overalert, but then again that’s a lot better than being tired and depressed.

What have you been thankful for lately?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 26, 2020)

Hi all, how are you all doing on this fine Sunday evening? I just had a drink of my favorite soft drink, called Dubbelfrisss. I had my favorite flavor too, apple and peach. I also had some chips. If you’d still like a cup of coffee, I’m sure I can make some for you. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

If we were having coffee, I would tell those of you who follow me from the coffee share linky that I’m rather active in the blogging department. I’m still going strong with the #AtoZChallenge. I in fact still have a long list of things I want to blog about even after this challenge is over. I really hope the writing juices keep flowing.

I did downgrade my WordPress plan from Premium to Personal. I, not being very tech savvy, can’t use most Premium features anyway and I don’t need the upload space, as I hardly ever post images. The only thing I used from the Premium plan, was Google Analytics, which was rather depressing.

Also in the tech department, I’d like to tell you that I’ve been struggling for weeks to get an eHealth app called Minddistrict working. Somehow, the E-mail that should have been sent to me to sign up, didn’t reach me. My CPN from mental health contacted some guy in IT about it, who replied rather bluntly that his role is not to teach clients to look in their spam folder. Well, if that had been the problem, my CPN could have told me. I’m not stupid! I eventually contacted my hosting provider, who want to look into it but need the headers of the bounce message Minddistrict should have received. My hosting provider was trying to be very helpful, but still the whole thing frustrates me to no end.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I reached my 10K steps three out of the seven days of this week. On two more days, I got over 8K steps.

I also got weighed in on Thursday. I didn’t use the same scale I normally use, because that’s at the day center. As such, my results may not be accurate. However, if they are, I lost over 1kg. According to this scale, I just about crossed the line back from obesity to overweight. Yay!

If we were having coffee, I would share that the client who came to our home as an emergency placement two weeks ago, left again yesterday to go to a more suitable home.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been exploring personality traits a bit more. Like, I’ve joined some Facebook groups for what I think is my MBTI personality type. Most other people see me as INTJ, but I honestly think I’m more INFJ, as the feeler/thinker dichotomy is based on how you make decisions. Note that I learned in psychology class in college that one changes personality type about every month if dichotomous scales are used. I’m a clear introvert, but have no strong preference on all three other determiners. I’ve heard cognitive functions can make the MBTI more reliable, but I find most tests that include that pretty inaccessible.

I also have been exploring the concepts of HSP and empath. I read Elaine Aron’s book The Highly Sensitive Person in Dutch back in like 2006. I downloaded the 2013 English edition on Bookshare a few days ago and got some books by Dr. Judith Orloff too. It does remind me that, when the Dutch translation of one of Aron’s books first came out in 2004, my father read me a skeptical article in the newspaper about everyone needing labels nowadays. He said I was an “asparagus addict”, making a bad pun on the Dutch word for asparagus being similar to Asperger. That got me to stop self-identifying as autistic. Well, I guess I don’t care now.

What have you been up to lately?

2019: The Year in Review

Wow, can you believe 2019 is almost over yet? It was truly an eventful year. I want to do a review of the year. I originally intended on waiting till the 31st to do it, but I’m not sure I’ll have time for it then, as I’m celebrating New Year’s at my in-laws.

I had a theory when I was a teen that said life ran in cycles, by which every three years I’d find myself struggling significantly, then the next year would be one of hope, and the third year would be one of disillusionment, by the end of which I’d spiral into despair again. 2001, 2004 and 2007 were all years of despair, whereas 2002, 2005 and 2008 where years of hope. I didn’t continue to be superstitious about this past that point and honestly looking back each year was really a mixed bag. By this logic though, 2019 would have to be a year of despair. It was to begin with, but it ended on a really positive note, whereas by my teenage logic, the fall of the year of despair would be the hardest.

Well, let me say this year was extremely eventful indeed. At the end of 2018, we had just mailed out the application for long-term care funding. I started the year really hopeful by looking at a living facility and having my long-term care assessment in January. Then in February, I grew cynical. I decided everything wouldn’t be okay till 2021, as that would be the year people with lifelong psychiatric conditions would be allowed access to long-term care. I was right. My funding application got denied.

March, April and May were all largely months of waiting, as we sent out the appeal letter and my appeal was looked at. In late May, my support coordinator told me I would most likely not be granted long-term care funding this time either, but the lawyer in charge of my appeal was going to see if she could find a way to approve me anyway. She did somehow. I feel the long-term care regulations put people with multiple disabilities at a significant disadvantage. I remember writing blog posts explaining the legalities of long-term care back in like 2009 on my very first WordPress blog and I already felt the rigid care packages based on primary disability, were stupid. I don’t know how they managed to grant my appeal and even if I knew, I wouldn’t share it here.

By the time my long-term care funding was approved, my support coordinator had been informed that the care facility in Raalte with her agency had several available rooms. I started the intake process. By late August, just as I was losing hope again, I was told I would be accepted. I moved on September 23.

The past three months have been good. I feel a sense of calm, even though I still experience meltdowns. I had one tonight. Like a fellow patient on the locked unit said once, I can move around all I want, but I still need to look to myself for improving my own mental health.

When I looked at my review of 2018, I saw that my husband had been warming me up to us buying a house in his work city. I thought then that this may not happen if I go into long-term care, and indeed the house we bought isn’t in his work city. However, it’s still a house he likes. It is legally my house too, of course, which is good, in that I can move there if I ever get kicked out of long-term care. I also try to stay involved with renovation plans, but I struggle with this.

I took a look at my hopes for 2019 as I was preparing to write this review. I can be pretty satisfied with how I did on them. The only goal I didn’t meet, was to have a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I’m doing okay on the healthier eating part, as I haven’t had binges much since coming to the care facility and make sure I don’t indulge into my every food whim. However, I don’t exercise nearly as often as I want to, though I get about as many active minutes as I did when living with my husband.

I did buy a new computer. Two, in fact, as I wasn’t happy with the Mac I bought and sold it to my mother-in-law. I am very happy with my current Windows PC though. Having a working computer again enables me to do so much more with my blog than I could when only using my phone. This helps me keep a regular blogging schedule too. Finally having found a feed reader that works in my browser, also helps. That was my only initial frustration with my current PC, as my Mac had a good feed reader and I struggled to find one for PC.

My last hope for 2019 was to stay mentally stable. I’m pretty sure I have reached this goal, as I’ve not been in serious crises at all. I’m also more than happy with how my staff handle my meltdowns or short crises as they do happen.

Gratitude List (July 27, 2019) #TToT

I haven’t participated in #TToT in forever. Today, I’m wanting to join in once again. I recently joined their Facebook group too and I promised to be active then. So here are the things I’ve been grateful for lately.

1. A lovely walk on Monday. We got a heatwave here, so for most of the week, it’s been impossible to exercise or go outside much at all. It’s summer break, so the intern who normally takes me on the weekly walk, isn’t there. Thankfully, the staff decided they can have me join in the walk anyway.

2. My computer behaving as it’s supposed to. I got a new PC a few weeks ago and sold my Mac and overall, I’m so happy I did. It took a little getting used to trying to figure out E-mail, feed readers and such, during which time I spent $36 on a feed reader that wasn’t ideal. Then I finally decided that if I just accept that I’ll need to use both Google Chrome and Firefox regularly, I’ll do fine with my old friend (no pun intended) The Old Reader. It after all works fine in Google Chrome, but Facebook doesn’t. Now I’m just so delighted I have a Windows PC again.

3. Having been able to save more money than I expected. I will probably soon get a bill for €140 a month or more in copay for my long-term care. My husband offered to contribute more to our monthly bills so that I do not have to be responsible for cutting the full amount of money, but I’ll still need to save some. As such, I’m so delighted that I saved over €100 more than I’d expected during the month of July.

4. My husband and I probably buying a house soon. We placed an offer on it last week and, after some negotiation, reached an agreement on the price. We’ll soon sign the draft agreement and hopefully be house owners by late September or early October.

5. Having gotten through the worst of the heatwave. It was boring at day activities, because I couldn’t go outside. Then again, I made it through and did okay. I made sure to drink enough water. As a side note, my autistic perseveration side does love the weather records that were broken.

6. Peaches. I bought some with my support worker on Thursday. I love summer fruits, but blueberries are too expensive for my budget now.

7. One-on-one time with a support staff at day activities on Friday. She had to return a walker to another day center that they’d been trying out for another client. She offered to take me, so we drove to the other day center, then to a hotel to have a drink at its restaurant. She told me to have something to eat too, so I chose tiramisu. My husband’s tiramisu is better, but still it was a great treat.

8. The weather being slightly cooler now. Like I said, all heat records were broken on Wednesday and Thursday and, though it’s still pretty hot, I’m enjoying the slightly less extreme temperatures now. Mind you, it’s still supposed to have gotten to 30 degrees Celsius today, but it feels almost cold now that my husband just opened my window. (I can’t open or close my window because I can’t reach that far.) Phew!

As you can see, I didn’t get to ten things to be thankful for. I blame this on the heat and my brain melting away. I hope you’ve all been grateful lately.

A Month Without a Laptop

I am writing this post on my new computer. I love it. Definitely a PC is much more user-friendly than a Mac if you are not too tech-savvy. My mother-in-law would say the opposite, but oh well. I’m just glad I got to sell her my Macbook.

Today, when I read on another blog about someone having to do without a laptop for a few days, I was reminded of the month I spent without a computer. Of course, people older than me will remember the years they spent without a computer and, in fact, I didn’t get my first computer till I was eleven and didn’t have access to the Internet till nearly sixteen. I quickly became addicted though, so when my laptop broke down in 2009, I was lost.

I had at the time just transferred from the locked psych unit to the open resocialization unit. The locked unit didn’t have a patient computer. This got me to consider getting a wireless cellphone-like modem for my laptop. However, at the time, I was too scared of getting Alzheimer’s from electromagnetic radiation. This meant that, in the early months of my hospitalization, before I was allowed on leave, I didn’t have access to the Internet. I had a computer though.

The resocialization unit did have a patient computer that was connected to the Internet. It didn’t have a screen reader on it, of course, but I just removed the network cable from the computer and plugged it into my laptop. And then one day my laptop crashed. This was, obviously, before accessible smartphones. In fact, though I had a phone that could connect to the Internet, I could only use it to make phone calls.

I was frustrated, but not as frustrated as I’d be now if I lost access to the Internet. For an entire month, I typed up my diary in Braille and listened to audio books and magazines on my digital talking book player. I do still have my Braille typerwriter and my digital talking book player, but both are pretty much useless.

Since having no computer for an entire month, I usually make sure I have at least two devices that connect to the Internet. Currently these are my PC and my iPhone. My old PC could probably be revived if need be too.

I also did finally get myself a wireless modem. I just threw it away yesterday, as I’ve not paid f or the data that goes with it in years.

I guess I could technically (no pun intended) deal without going online for a while now. However, I am always very happy to discover that a potential new living faciltiy has WiFi. I guess some people take this for granted, but the psych hospital didn’t have WiFi till 2015 and even then it was very limited.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 14, 2019)

Yay, it’s Sunday! I am once again joining in with the #WeekendCoffeeShare fun. It’s relatively early for me to write this post, so the most recent drink I had was actually coffee. I usually drink only one cup of coffee at breakfast )or lunch, as it was nearly afternoon), but my husband made me a second cup saying it’s good for the heart. I don’t know whether that’s true, but oh well.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that my husband picked up my new Windows laptop on Monday and installed it on Tuesday. The adaptive tech guy came by on Wednesday to bring me a new Braille display and install the JAWS screen reader on my computer, so that I could actually use it. I have been playing with my computer ever since. I hope the tech company will get me training on the screen reader and Windows 10, but even without training, I like this computer much better than my Mac. Right now, my husband is resetting my Mac, so that my mother-in-law can have it. I think I just closed the tab with instructions on it from my iPhone.

My mother-in-law offered to pay more for the Mac than the Windows laptop had cost, but we refused. I don’t want to get extra money from switching computers.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share that I visited the living facility in Raalte that’s with my current care agency on Wednesday. It was great. There’s tons of sensory equipment in both the house and day center. The staff are also really nice. The house they felt was the most suitable for me, has twelve clients living there. There are two staff during the day and an extra staff during times the clients get showered and such. The manager and care consultant were a bit vague about the waiting list to move in, but I hope to hear more about that soon.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that yesterday, my husband had the yearly driver’s day at his work. He is a truck driver for a large transporting company and the driver’s day is sort-of-mandatory. I spent the day at my in-laws. Well, my father-in-law had just left for vacation, so I was alone with my mother-in-law. We went for a walk with her dog. Wow, it was hot and humid! My husband came to my in-laws’ house after a few hours when he’d had enough of the event at work. My mother-in-law cooked us dinner, although she was interrupted to pick up a kitten from the animal shelter. She volunteers to bottle-feed kittns that are too young to be kept at the shelter. The kitten was lovely!

How was your week?