Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Still Here

I've moved to faceme.wordpress.com. I'm still living the questions, but at a different address. Hope to see you there.


Monday, July 28, 2008

SWC Convention - Day Four

Since we hadn't been satisfied with the previous morning's buffet offerings, Robyn, Paul, Mike and I decided to go out before the workshops began. I tried several times to get hold of Lorne too, but his phone wasn't working and he wasn't checking his email. We found a nice little deli not far from the hotel where I bought a yogurt parfait with strawberries and granola.

The morning began slowly with workshops scheduled for 9:00.

Side bar here-- I forgot to mention the other wonderful workshop given by our beloved Gayle in my last blog post about Thursday. Gayle types CART for us. This time she introduced Remote CART. I loved how it worked, and found it fascinating to hear her perspective as a CART provider. With remote CART, a person can be in one state, and someone else will provide CART for them via the internet in another state. ALL you need is an internet supported laptop with Skype and a good microphone. During her demonstration, her CART partner did the transcribing. I was amazed what she was able to pick up in the room considering we had over 70 people in attendance. The microphone was quite powerful! Anyway-- that was the third workshop on Thursday, and now I'm reporting on Friday.

First thing in the morning, we had visitors from the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss. Presenter Wendy Cheng gave a short overview of the different qualities of music, then played her viola a bit, and answered questions. The most awesome piece of information I came away with was that I might be able to hear the the piano again!!! They suggested the use of an equalizer with microphone so I could adjust the volume of the high pitches-- which I'm not currently able to hear. If that doesn't work, I could try using an electronic keyboard with equalizer built in. I had never thought of this and was super inspired by the concept. A couple others came over to discuss in more detail afterwards-- an HH pianist and a sound engineer. I'm just so HAPPY about all of this!! I know a sound engineer/musician here in the NW who I'm sure would work with me on the set up, and I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have to spend a fortune because stuff like this comes up for sale on ebay all the time. The AAMHL website is full of information on how to enjoy music with hearing loss!

The next workshop was given by Tina Childress from Advanced Bionics, LeAnn Boone from Med-el, and another woman from Cochlear Americas. I have mentioned Tina before, as I saw her speak in Vancouver. Wow-- does she get around! She speaks EVERYWHERE! This workshop was about cochlear implants. Sad to say, I wasn't feeling well so I left early and missed most of her presentation. However we went to lunch later and she asked a poignant question about the experimental hybrid I had qualified for last Nov.-- "Since you're still losing your hearing, what would they do if you eventually needed a regular implant?" I don't know the answer to this. But after the two conventions I attended this year I realized it's probably best not to pursue the hybrid implant seriously at this time. More about that later.

After the workshops, Lorne, Paul, Michael, Robyn and I went exploring down Elfrey's Alley-- supposedly the oldest street in America. Amazingly, people still live there. Robyn clicked her camera non-stop. We spent a long time walking around, then it was time for lunch. My mouth still watered for those Amish apple-dumplings Robyn mentioned the previous day. We took a bus to the Reading Terminal, then circled around in search of the apple dumpling booth. I decided to have a salad first, then attacked the dumpling with abandon. All I can say is YUM!! Afterwards, we split up. Robyn and Michael left since they'd already seen all of Reading Terminal, while Lorne and I continued browsing around. We finally caught Phlash (the tourist bus) to the Philadelphia Museum of ART. That place was huge and they had some fabulous collections there-- things I only get to see on special exhibits to Seattle. Unfortunately the museum was scheduled to close early because the governor was visiting. All we got to see was the Impressionist section. I was especially pleased they had my favorite Van Gogh painting of the sunflowers. They also had several Monets and Renoirs. I could have sung-- and would have-- if Lorne hadn't been there.

We left when security guards began gathering like ants to cotton candy. The Phlash bus was packed, and I thought I might die from or thirst or heat stroke or both. Would anyone have noticed? By the time we walked into the hotel all I could think of was a drink and shower, but before I even got undressed I fell asleep. We went to dinner very late at the same little deli I ate breakfast that morning, which offered reasonably priced vegetarian salads and hummus on pitas. Philly's Old Town is pleasant on summer evenings after the sun goes down, so we ate outside enjoying the night air and gathering crowds of young people for the Friday night bar scene.

This was SWC's "game night." By the time we made it back to the hotel, the game room getting crazy. Someone asked me to make a paper airplane. Next thing I knew she sent it flying at someone else. Before long my airplane was whooshing everywhere. Eventually Lorne aimed it at Michael hitting his beer, which spilled all over his clothes. NOT MY FAULT!! That was the end of my airplane. I went to bed.

SWC Convention - Day Three

In the morning we had workshops. Usually convention hotels provide "breakfast" in the form of rolls, fruit and coffee or tea for those attending meetings. I managed to find a yogurt and a sliver of honeydew melon before everything ran out. Many complained about the skimpiness of our 'breakfast', and I'm happy to say our catered buffet overflowed with fruit and muffins the following day.

Our first presenter was Neil Bauman who has written about ototoxic drugs. Let me say I do believe drugs can sometimes cause harm to hearing, and I appreciate his earnest effort in getting the word out. Neither my doctor or audiologist ever said word one about prescription drugs and otoxicity until I brought it up after stumbling upon Bauman's website years ago. A couple times doctors have done a double-take when I mentioned it because they were not even familiar with the word 'ototixic'. Since then my GP has changed a few prescriptions after consulting the PDR at my request.

However, I didn't feel Bauman's presentation included enough convincing factual information. I had hoped for more charts and detailed scientific studies from research institutions to back up his theories. Instead he related several amazing testimonials from people who claimed to have lost their hearing after using prescription drugs. Many of their stories had been gathered on-line in his own informal study from victims who wrote to him.

Never-the-less I've known several people who lost their hearing from prescription drugs and also during hospital stays. I just hope people can put Bauman's information into perspective when deciding to have medical treatment. While it's true prescription drugs can harm your hearing, the chances of experiencing such side-effects are very small.

The next workshop was about webcaptel, which is an exciting relatively new technology put out by Sprint. Instead of needing a special captel phone, all you need is a computer and a phone. The Sprint representative showed a video, then went through the steps for how to access webcaptel. It's simple! I tried it out later. Like captel it's a bit slow, but it's accurate and I can use it practically anywhere-- at work, when I'm visiting my parents out-of-state, or at a friend's house. I also like that it allows me to use my voice and other people don't know there's a transcriber typing what they say to me. It feels so much more natural than my old VCO.

Next was the hosted lunch for everyone in SWC who volunteers on a committee. Like the previous morning, restaurant service was incredibly slow. We had all pre-ordered so you'd think we could have been served in time to finish before our Philly Duck tour, but no . . .

The "ducks" are both a car and a boat. We were all given quackers, then driven around town to sitesee, and finally ended up in floating in the Delaware River. My only complaint was the tour bus was hot. I was happy when we finally went into the river as it felt cooler there. Someone bought little rubber duckies for everyone, and wrote our names on them with a sharpie. I was struck by the murkiness of the Delware, even though our tour guide said it was the cleanest it had ever been in over 200 years. I suppose it has something to do with mineral content or silt. I am not well-educated on river water.

Later that night Lorne and I walked around town looking for a good place to eat. We finally settled on Rotten Ralph's -- a small bar and grill with rare vegetarian variety. We found a quiet table on the second floor above all the street noise. My eggplant was delicious. Lorne's fishNchips were just "ok." Robyn and Michael joined us for beer as we were finishing up.

Then we all walked back to the hotel and bar. I got a craving for ice cream, mainly because Robyn had mentioned her apple-dumpling experience in Reading Terminal. I couldn't stop thinking about sweets. Since the bar was closed the waitress wouldn't give me any. So I asked the hotel manager where to go for an ice cream in "Old Town" after 10. He was kind enough to dish up a bowl of delicious Philly ice cream-- no charge!! I honestly had no problem with the hotel staff.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Philly Day Two at the Zoo!

Day Two in Philadelphia there was nothing planned until the Welcome Party at 7pm. Lorne would be flying in around 4-ish and Robyn wanted to see the zoo. She had never seen American animals in real life, she said. Which ones, I asked? She wanted to see a raccoon, which made me smile. I've got a family of raccoons living right in my yard. I actually don't like them very much because they aren't nice to cats. She also wanted to see squirrels, snakes and bears. I have ALL these in my yard. Bears do not come into my yard often, but I have had one. She had to say 'bears' three times then spell it because I couldn't understand what she meant with her accent. It looked like she was saying bees when I read her lips. The New Zealand 'r' is very soft. I couldn't believe they didn't have bees in NZ. HAHA! They DO! Of course!

We got up early, then went to breakfast in the hotel. It turned out Michael, Paul and RuthAnn also wanted to come with us to the zoo, which was fine with us-- the more, the merrier!

Robyn planned on bringing her marmite to breakfast so us Americans could try it, but she forgot. I was SO relieved. It stunk! OH! Before I forget. We became extremely upset with the breakfast service. They had a buffet but several of the board members didn't want that much to eat, so ordered a light breakfast instead-- Robyn included. After an hour and a half, they started throwing down their napkins and getting really pissed off. Nothing came. I got down to breakfast late. I was not hungry because I was still full from Robyn's pineapple lumps the night before. They're SOOOOOOOO good. So anyway, I went up to the desk, and complained about the slowness of their service. My breakfast order was taken and served within minutes. The rest got theirs too. We had tons of problems with the hotel staff throughout. More about that later. None of us ate breakfast at the hotel again until the final breakfast buffet where they went all out to please us, but our silver and plates were not well cleaned. Two people at my table sent their service back. Mine was OK.

Back to the zoo--those of you who know Robyn know she's into photography in a big way, and she takes beautiful pictures. I urge you to go to her blog if you haven't. Photography was the whole point of hitting the zoo. I should mention here, it was the oldest zoo in the country. It opened in 1874. It's a very, very small zoo-- but I sorta liked it because the animals were close and the buildings were old and beautiful. In the Seattle zoo, all the animals have much more space which means they often wander far away from the viewing area. This is better for the animals I know, but I kinda liked being able to see them up close in Philadelphia.

Anyway-- it was hot out and they had confiscated my sunscreen at the airport-- so Paul and I bought some there. It was really cool cuz the bottle has a little metal ring you can attach to a belt loop or your tote so you won't lose it. I LOVED this idea! So did Paul! Now we have matching sunscreens!

We got separated several times at the zoo, so we all exchanged phone numbers and texted each other all the time. Somehow the first time I texted Paul to see where he was, he sent back the word, "just." ARGGHH! Later, when Paul and I couldn't find Robyn, she sent back the word "just" too. This has become a joke -- or maybe it's a secret code I've never figured out.

I should add here Philly is very easy to get around without a car. They have these tourist buses that will drive you to all the fun places tourists like to go. You don't have to worry about navigating a strange city by bus because it goes in a constant circle. If you miss your stop you'll end up there again in no time. Our zoo driver became upset and stressed out when he ended up driving behind a horse drawn carriage traveling on the wrong street. Then he became upset again when another tour bus parked in his spot. I was happy to be riding in the bus instead of driving.

It didn't take long to go thru the zoo. Robyn and Michael decided to do some more exploring. I went back to the hotel with RuthAnn and Paul. On our way back, we ran into some more SWC members going out for lunch, so we tagged along, ending up at a little coffee shop/deli. There I had the worst lunch ever-- though it initially sounded good. A sandwich with roasted eggplant, spinach and white cheese that had no flavor at all. The spinach wasn't sauteed or anything, so it was also tasteless,but it would have been fine if the cheese had some flavor. It was AWFUL! But I ate it up anyway.

Then it was time to go back. Several people by now knew about my stupid mistake with the flight arrangements, and they let me know Lorne got in OK-- ALONE. I hoped he wasn't upset with me. It was time to shower and get ready for the Welcome Party.

I had a blast meeting up with several people I had not seen in over a year. Some of them spoke ASL and I was happy I understood. I let one woman try out my pocket talker cuz she had never seen one. Robyn had brought some wine from New Zealand and was handing out samples. I talked to several others there-- One of the BOD members had some special fortune cookies made up with fortunes that said things like, "If you talk to my back, expect to pay." HAHA! Lorne showed up and assured me he was not mad. I felt better after that. We all had to move downstairs into the bar after 10 so the other hotel patrons could get some sleep. I should not post pics of people without their permissions, so I disguised them all with Photbucket tools. I LOVE Photobucket tools! I took the picture of the flamingoes above too, then turned them into a painting!

I miss Robyn. She's still texting me from CA, telling me where all she's going. Today while at my Weight Watchers meeting she let me know she was eating ice cream on the beach. . .PFFFT.