2017-05-06 08:26 pm
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Obstacles Getting in My Way

Not all of my goals have been hard to accomplish, but some of them have been a bit difficult. For instance, I have a goal to be more independent with transportation. This goal has been a bit difficult for me but not impossible. Several years ago I applied for ADA paratransit certification, and at the time this service was rather disastrous. In order to reserve a single ride, I or my mother had to get up at the crack of dawn on the day prior to my scheduled trip. So for example, if my trip was on a Saturday I or my mother would've had to phone in on a Friday morning. At the time there was only one reservation line, and it was only open for a half hour each morning. Often times the carrier would call back at suppertime, and inform us they were going to have to bump my ride times back or ahead of schedule. The drivers at the time would often get lost, and they had to ask for directions from the passengers. I felt uncomfortable doing this, primarily due to the fact that I cannot see anything but light and dark, but also because these drivers were the ones supposedly getting us where we needed to go.

But there have since been several improvements made to our ADA paratransit service, and it is now so much better than before. As a matter of fact, I took a paratransit bus here to the heARTwords workshop. Today's trip went very well. However, there is still the thought in the back of my mind that one of my drivers will get lost and ask me for directions to my destination. This would be "Destination Unknown!" When I took paratransit to my parents' house a couple weeks ago, my mother was kind enough to email me directions to get there. Keep in mind that I had not previously traveled to this place by myself. But as it turned out, I didn't need her directions because these drivers now have GPS devices in their vehicles..
2017-04-08 06:10 pm
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The Mood I'm In

I am currently in a good mood, because of the weather. It has once again warmed up a good deal, and I hope it stays like that this time. I am able to see sunlight. My mood has never been affected by the changes in weather, but still I like to get outside now and then. I only go out when it's nice and sunny. For example, this afternoon as I was waiting to be picked up for heARTwords, it was a bit warm and the sun was shining. There was a nice cool breeze blowing as well, which felt very good. Often times when I'm on my back porch with my neighbor from across the hall or by myself, I can feel the nice cool breeze blowing.

I like to listen to rain and thunder, but I don't like to be outside during a storm. This goes for snow as well. I've had to travel by foot in the snow and ice, and that's not fun at all. It is especially not fun when it's blustery out there.
2017-03-11 06:10 pm
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One of the best meals I've ever had in My Life

I've had many a great meal throughout my lifetime. However, one which stands out in my mind took place at a nearby restaurant.

It was about 2 years ago, and I was with one of my friends from Best Buddies. We went to a restaurant called The Lucky Platter. We went there for supper. His name is Bill, and he was with me for almost 2-1/2 years. Bill read through the menu, and I made my choice. That evening I chose to have a gouda burger, with a side of smashed potatoes. I ordered an egg cream to drink.

First off I'd like to say a couple of things about the service at The Lucky Platter. Our server that evening was very friendly and attentive. She brought us exactly what we had requested, and she did so quickly. In addition, she talked directly to me rather than Bill when taking my order. After all, I can and do speak for myself. I forget what Bill had to eat and drink. But we both enjoyed our meal. My food came out nice and hot, and it was also fresh. This restaurant bakes their own bread with and without glutin I think. I'm not allergic to glutin, but this is what I've been told. It is very yummy! We did not order dessert that evening, but I had dessert at least once at The Lucky Platter. I've also had breakfast and lunch there with friends. I am not a wheelchair user, but this restaurant can be managed well by those who use wheelchairs.
2017-03-11 06:06 pm
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Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert

Breakfast: For breakfast I usually have a bowl of cereal and/or fruit and toast. I also like pop tarts, doughnuts, muffins, and other kinds of pastries. But I've also been known to have omeletts, French toast, or corned-beef hash.

Lunch and dinner: My CIF life-skills tutor Dave helps me shop also for lunch and dinner items. We cook a lot of good things, and these are what I usually have for lunch and/or dinner.

I'm a big fan of dessert. I usually have a cookie or two or three. But sometimes I have other sweet stuff. I have a big sweet tooth!
2017-02-11 08:38 pm

The Best Thing That's Ever Happened to Me

A lot of great things have happened to me throughout my life. However, one event that stands out for me is getting my MacBook Air. My parents gave it to me for Christmas in 2013. Actually the MacBook Air that I tried out at our local Apple store is the very same one on which I am typing this. I was a Windows user for a very long time, and was rather skeptical about switching. But I'm glad I went with my instincts and my parents' advice. This is a great little machine. Contrary to what some people who have visual impairments think, Apple is very dedicated and committed to making their products accessible to all.
2017-01-14 06:29 pm
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New Year's

One of my New Year's resolutions for 2017 is to do more pleasure reading. I honestly don't know how well this will go yet, because I have very chatty neighbors. In addition, I have a very busy work schedule which is another story. More on that in another entry. But I'm going to give it my best shot. I read audio books. I download them to my computer, and then copy them to a USB thumb drive. I can't listen to them on my computer though, because they are in a copy-protected format that only works on my digital talking book player. Fortunately, this player is super easy to use. Additionally, I didn't have to pay a single penny for it and the books are free.
2016-10-16 02:30 pm
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I've Changed

I moved out of my parents' house in August of 2004. At first I thought I was at summer camp, and my neighbors and others around me were all the counselors and other camp staff. Then as I got to know them better I began to realize that they wanted us to become as independent as possible. But they would help us along the way, and that's exactly what has happened to me. I now work with 2 tutors, who were actually never camp counselors but are very good.
2016-10-15 06:35 pm
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Something I Need Everyday and Can't Live Without

I don't know how many people know this, but I had 2 kidney transplants. I have been on a few medications for them. I have seldom forgotten to take one of my medications, and there have also been times when I've run out of one or two of them. Each time this happens, I feel as if my day is missing something. I take meds in the morning and then again in the evening. I've been very good about doing this. As a matter of fact, I have done this for so long that it has just become part of my daily routine. In other words, it is second nature for me and I don't even have to think about it. Some people are not good about taking their medication when needed. I never want to be like one of those people, because I could end up with a lot of problems and I might even die without these meds. I don't think my healthcare team would like it very much if I neglected to take my meds.
2016-10-01 06:19 pm
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I Heard A Knock

I woke up one morning to hear a knock at my bedroom window. This was back in the summer of 2004, not long after I moved into the apartment building where I am today. There was not just one single knock, but about 3 or 4 loud bangs. I found out that evening that the place next-door had been broken into by some guys, and many valuable things were stolen. These included a window air-conditioner and at least one laptop computer. At the time my building was owned by a group which included my parents, and they had a gate installed shortly after the break-in. That evening at the mandatory weekly meeting, we were told to please be very careful. A neighbor friend was awake anyway at that wee hour, and he saw the whole break-in and called the police. Since that time various safety measures have been put into place in and around the building.
2016-08-21 09:12 am
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Editor's Note: The first part of this entry is not totally accurate. I did that on purpose. Not all of the heARTwords writings are factual, even other people's writings. But the second part of this entry is true.

If I found myself in a situation where I was being discriminated against because of my disability, what would I do? I have actually never before faced any disability discrimination. But if someone or a group of people were to do this to me, I'd first try to tell them that discrimination against anybody is illegal and to please stop it. I would be nice about it, but firm. If they still didn't stop, I'd threaten to contact an advocacy organization and get them involved. Then if they stopped I wouldn't even contact an organization, but if the discrimination still continued I would have no choice but to involve the organization.

What do I think is the biggest misconception about people with disabilities? I think the biggest misconception facing those of us with disabilities is that we're not real people, or if we are then we're all exactly alike. Well, the truth is that we are all people but we're not all exactly alike. In other words, one size does not fit all. To borrow from some Disability Awareness trainings, "if you've met one person with a disability you've met *one* person with a disability. No 2 people with disabilities are exactly alike, just as no 2 people are exactly alike." Period, end of story.
2016-08-07 10:29 am
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Things That Make Me Angry

Things that make me angry include the following:

Bullying. I've never been bullied in the true sense, but somebody called me one time and chewed me out over the phone. It was actually 2 people, but that's a story for later. If anyone wants to hear this story, I will be happy to tell you. Just let me know in the comments. I do not like it when people are bullied, because it's mean. I've actually heard of friends with disabilities being bullied before, and that really bothers me. Nobody can help it that they have disabilities. I wish I could've done something about it, but I was never there when the bullying took place. I didn't even know a few of these friends yet, or perhaps I did and like I said I wasn't present when they were bullied.

Discrimination. Discrimination against anybody is illegal and should not be carried out. I wish all the discrimination that is still going on would just stop immediately. I've often read and heard that those of us with disabilities currently experience the most discrimination of anybody, but I'm no legal expert. I have personally experienced a little bit of discrimination, but not that much. But regardless of how much of this one has experienced in their lifetime, it should cease immediately because it is illegal.

Lying. It is never a good idea to lie to someone. I admit I've lied to a few people in the past, including my parents. So yes I am guilty of this too. But I have since learned my lesson well, and have stopped lying. If people constantly tell lies, they cannot be trusted. Please see below for more on this. The only kind of lying that should be done is lying down: either on a pillow or perhaps in the grass.

Politics. Politics makes me angry. It wasn't always like this, but over the past several years events have taken place which really made me mad. I honestly feel that the whole electoral process as we know it should be done away with. It seems that most politicians are good for one thing and one thing only: telling lie after lie after lie, just so that they can look good. But there are some politicians who are not like that. It seems these few are not given enough power though.

Violence. Violence of any kind is not my friend, most especially physical violence. But in addition, violence and hatred needs to be done away with altogether. Guns need to be used responsibly, if not disposed of for good.
2016-07-30 08:50 pm
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Honesty is the Best Policy?

Honesty is indeed the best policy. It is not good to lie to people. The more you lie to people, the greater the chances are that they won't believe and trust you. The only time one should lie is on their pillow, or down on a bed of roses. I believe everybody should always be honest. One or 2 lies as a kid is okay, but beyond that they're not good at all.
2016-07-02 08:11 pm
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My Wonder Land

What is my wonder land? My wonder land is a place with unending sweets and beverages. There would be cookies, candy, and all things unhealthy. I would invite the whole wide world to my wonder land. I would call this Sweetland, kind of like the Candyland of that famous song. There would be absolutely no limit put on the amount of consumption. Those with dietary restrictions would be welcome here too, and highly encouraged to partake in everything. I would have glutin-free stuff, and whatever else people requested for their dietary needs. This includes the beverages. I'd stock alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for everybody. I'd put a big sign out front and one out back. Both of these would welcome people with disabilities, and they would have big arrows pointing to all the access features. Sweetland would be universally accessible. Nobody should be left out of anything. People would be allowed to stay there as long as they wanted, because this would be open 24-7, 366 days a year. If and when people wanted to go work out, they'd just have to fend for themselves.
2016-07-02 07:44 pm
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Something Nobody in the heARTwords Community Knew About Me

I was born in St. Louis, Mo. I've been back there a few times, and have some relatives still living in Alton, Illinois which is not far from St. Louis.
2015-07-01 11:58 am
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Things Most People Probably Didn't Know

Most people don't know that I had not 1, but 2 successful kidney transplants. At least I don't think many people knew that. But if you already did know that, you know it again! Most people don't know that I used to be scared to death of my first elementary school's fire alarm. Most people don't know that my next-door neighbors just had a baby girl. I think lots of people knew it though.
2015-06-30 08:18 pm
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Three Things Chicagoans Love

People from Chicago love deep-dish pizza. I'm including myself here
even though I'm not originally from Chicago. People from Chicago also
love road rage. Finally, people from Chicago love hot dogs without
2015-05-29 06:26 pm
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If I Could Be An Event

If I could be any event, I think I'd be the Consumer Electronics Show that takes place every year. I would let everybody walk around and look at all my cool exhibits. I would designate at least 2 booths towards accessible electronics, and not just for people with visual impairments. I'd invite anyone who wanted to come share in this experience.