Posts Tagged ‘hell is other people’

And the hits just keep on coming! (32/49)

July 26, 2009

Kelly wants to know:

What is the one thing you wish sighted people knew?

Well, it’s after midnight, and I’m a bit punchy, so for me, I’d say that I wish they knew that they care a lot more about my blindness than I do. I do not want to talk about it all the time. I do not know every other blind person (despite the fact that I currently have 3 of them in my house). My life is not significantly different, and certainly not significantly worse, because of my blindness. And while I have nothing personal against sighted people, 90% of the problems caused by my blindness are because of other people. And they’re usually not blind. So, um, yeah.

What is your favorite Boston memory?

I….um…..I do believe I’ve been stuck speechless. Because I love Bosotn, and I can’t imagine narrowing it down to one. Can I think about it?

Post #: 32/49
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What not to name a dog (15/49)

July 25, 2009

At some schools, dogs are named alphabetically. Everyone in the same litter has a name beginning with the same letter, and you can tell who’s related to whom. Sometimes the staff pick the names, sometimes they come out of a computer. At GDF, it works a little differently. You can sponsor a dog for $6000, and part of what that gets you is the right to name a dog. And some people abuse that right.

I’m not going to go into names of current dogs, because people are out there working those dogs, and it’s not right to single them out. I have a girl dog with a boy’s name, but I’m pretty okay with that. Some people have dogs with long names that are silly or hard to pronounce. Of course, there are some perfectly decent and simple ones – there are a zillion black labs named Midnight or Shadow, and a ton of golden retrievers and yellow labs named Goldie. And some have nice human names, although I always worry about the person who gets a dog with their spouse’s name. The dog’s had it for a few years already, so what are you going to do? People do change their dog’s names, but it’s a bit of a process, I suspect.

One very popular name is Buddy, partly because there are lots of dogs by that name, and partly because it was the name of the first guide dog in the US, so people think they’re being all historical and stuff. It’s a perfectly fine name for a non-working dog. But the fact is, every third person on the street or so is going to come up wot your dog and say, “Hey, buddy!” And what do you know, that’s the dog’s name, and it responds! That’s the last thing someone needs while they’re working a dog. Not that people should approach working dogs anyway, but they do.

I think the worst name you could give a working dog would be Doggie. Because every time I walk down the street with Ms. Pup, eighty bazillion people of all ages yell, “DOGGIE!” at her. And she ignores them, because, thank goodness, it’s not her name. Fortunately, no one names guide dogs Doggie, but if they did, that poor handler would be under a truck in five minutes.

Post #: 15/49
Total so far: $1045.34
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Unclear on the concept

December 8, 2008

I like people in general, but sometimes they’re a little dumb. For example, the other day I was at the gym, being decidedly not-buff, and of course Ms. Pup was with me. I sat down at the shoulder-stretcher (or whatever it’s called), all ready to dislocate my upper torso in the name of better health, and she plopped down next to me, as she is wont to do. Immediately, this guy wanders up and starts petting her. I clearly need a better opening salvo, because, “She’s working,” only works about half the time at getting people to leave the dog alone. This occasion fell into the other half.

“She’s working.”
“Oh, are you training her?”
“No, she’s trained.”
“And she’s yours?”
“Yes, she’s mine.”
“So she’s working right now?”
“Yes, she is.”
“So what’s her job, what does she do?”
“She’s a guide dog.”
“For you?”
“Yes. So please stop petting her.”

But the petty little examples of, “Huh?” in my life don’t hold a candle to the gem that found its way into my inbox this week. In the famous words of Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

A gun manufacturer is trying to get a gun approved by the FDA as a medical device – and covered by Medicare.

Seriously. Note that this gun is not yet in production. It is a theoretical gun. (I guess that’s the safest kind). And it is theoretically designed for easy use by elderly folks and people with disabilities. And because it is specifically for elderly folks and people with disabilities, it must be a medical device! Of course! So let’s get it approved by the FDA! Even though it’s, y’know, a GUN. Or rather it would be, if it existed yet.

In order to get it to exist, the manufacturer needs money. So this theoretical gun is being sold for real money, on the premise that it’s been approved by the FDA as a medical device, and that for its next trick, it will become reimbursable by Medicare.

The FDA itself is skeptical, at best. They say that what they sent the manufacturer was no approval notice; it was simply a confirmation that they’d received a registration. And Medicare reimbursement? For a gun? People have enough trouble getting new wheelchairs! And you’ll notice that the wheelchair hasn’t exactly needed a campaign to convince folks that they don’t kill people, lately?

I have no problem with the existence of adapted guns, at least no more than I do with the existence of any other kind of gun. If people without disabilities get to run around with deadly weapons, then hey, people with disabilities should be able to run around with deadly weapons too. (And in fact we do particpate in sport shooting; paralyzed riflemen and women use sip-and-puff mechanisms, among other things, to shoot rifles competitively in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games). I have a huge problem with the concept of a gun as a medical device, much less one approved and reimbursed by the government. I’m also not thrilled that anything used by people with disabilities is automatically viewed as a medical device. By that logic, my computer, my TV, and my sofa are also medical devices. Except less dangerous.

Although Ms. Pup is a designated medical device according to the folks who administer my flexible healthcare spending account. I’ll admit that I don’t complain much about that. But guide dog versus gun – sorry, no contest there. Also, my dog actually exists. I know, because she ate the middle finger out of my glove this evening while I was having dinner.

Not the clue bus

November 10, 2008

Because my life is not nearly surreal enough on its own, I make sure to ride the bus just about every day. Lots of people ride the bus, many of whom are fascinated by my guide dog. I don’t blame them; she’s cute, alert, and good at her job, and she’s unusual-looking for a guide dog. The less familiar with Earth customs they are, however, the more likely my fellow passengers are to start up a conversation with me.

Wednesday morning I boarded the bus in a fine mood, if a bit exhausted. I smiled at the people near me as I sat down, still buoyed by the festivities of the previous night. A man across the aisle noticed my dog and asked, “Shouldn’t she be a shepherd?”

I get that occasionally, and as I said, Ms. Pup is not a usual guide dog breed, but other than having a tail and a snoot and a lot of smarts, she doesn’t really resemble a shepherd.

“Not really,” I said as politely as possible, and started fumbling with my iPod.

“I thought they were all supposed to be shepherds?”
“No, there are a number of different breeds used as guide dogs: labs, goldens, shepherds…”
“Didn’t they start out all shepherds?”
“Sure, in the ’20s and for a while after that.”
“I guess you could train pretty much anything to guide, right, if you worked hard enough at it?”
“Not really; they need to be able to-”
“I heard about a guy once, he was blind, and they trained a turtle to guide him around!”
“A…..turtle? Aren’t they a bit slow?”
“Oh, he was an old guy, so it worked out fine. See, you really can train just about anything to do that job.”
“Um, not exactly. The animal needs to have the mental capacity to carry out the tasks of guiding, including intelligent disobedience, problem-solving…..”
“Hey, can your dog answer the phone?”

At this I paused. Ms. Pup actually does trot over to the phone when it rings, in the hopes that it will be someone interesting, but she doesn’t answer it. “No, she doesn’t,” I said.

“But you could train her to do it, right?”
“….I guess so. I mean, if I needed to.”
“Hey, do you have, y’know, one of those special phones? With the special ring?”
“Um…I have a phone, and it rings, and I talk on it, but that’s about it. It’s just a phone.”
“Oh, okay. I figured you had a special phone.”

Nope. And the only turtle I have is the stuffed one I gave to the dog about a month ago. She has since chewed off its shell and face. I’m thinking it’s not going to be doing much guiding.