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I have a love of life. Some may call me a cynic but I'm truly an optimistic realist. I work on the philosophy “If you expect the worst but aim for the best, you'll land somewhere that's comfortable.”

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15 June 2013

Time For A Third, World War?

So, we've forgotten about North Korea for this week and turned our attention back to Syria.

With Hezbollah now getting involved and the conflict looking like it could spill out of the Syrian boarders into surrounding countries. Is a Third world war a possibility?

If the Syrian Government are allowing Hezbollah to fight along side them it is almost certain that it won't be long before Iran pipes up and tries to join in. After all, there's strong links between Hezbollah and the Iranian Government.

We've already seen air-strikes from Israel on targets inside Syria. We all know what great buddies Israel are with Iran and other Muslim states. I'm speculating that Israel aren't going to let Iranian forces move in next door and let them be. So this then gives the U.S. A reason to back up their mates the Israelis.

At this point the rest of NATO will be breathed into the zone.

Before going into Iraq, the main intel that got the U.S. Interested came from the French – or at least an informant of the french intel services. It later turned out he was speaking out of a muscular ring between his lower cheeks. Admittedly, it also came out later that the C.I.A didn't look at the statements from him as well as they could. We already have the French confirming the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian state against the people – which was one of the “red lines” both the UK and the U.S. Said they'd not tolerate. So, I'm not saying they're wrong against they've been the primary informant if you wish to the U.S. Who's interest has surely got to be greater now. After all, the set limits and stick by them.

But, it's all over there isn't it? For the first few months maybe.

Remember, when we talk about war with Israel and Iran all common-sense is lost. It becomes a war of religion. Unlike two children fighting in the playground we know Iran would be happier without Israel around. We suspect Iran has a plan to make nucular weapons for this purpose. We know that Israel has nuclear capability.

We also know the Russians are happy to feed the war and so are China. China and Russia also back North Korea who are against the South Koreans who are backed by the U.S.

Even if the U.S. Can, keep their fingers off of any weapons trigger – there eye will be off the ball when it comes to North Korea. Times have changed dramatically, I know! Let's not forget though, the only reason the U.S. Got involved in WWII is because of the Japanese hitting Pearl Harbour. With two states (Iran and North Korea) itching for a fight with the U.S. I can't see them leaving them be at peace.

So, we have on team A (Allies)

Team B (Bad Guys)
Syria+Iran+N Korea+Russia+China+A lot of other Islamic States

The interesting country will be Turkey – they are friendly with the U.S. But are far from friendly with the Israelis.

Even if we're sat at home feelings of safety because it's so far away “abroad”. Let's not forget what weapons Team B are happy to use. Their own bodies loaded with explosives, small firearms and bladed objects.

The number of extremists is “low” but how long will it be before that changes. Religion is thicker than blood. Once they see their own being killed it's only time before they take action from the inside.

Nobody, feels safe. Everyone suspects everyone, don't forget white, black, brown and all other colours of people can be any faith they choose.

It might seem very unlikely but let's not forget also – the Syrian war and the Bahrain protests are both based on religion!

If it doesn't go as described above I can almost say the “Teams” will be exactly as above in the third world war.

18 May 2013

Independence & Disability

It may be my negative mind at work once more or it may just be me taking a step back and asking a question nobody else will.

Can disabled persons be TRUELY independent?

I can only speak for myself, with my disabilities. However – I'd say no.

The dictionary defines independent as:
1.Free from outside control; not depending on another's authority
2. Not depending on another for livelihood or subsistence.

Can a blind person get up in the morning (or anytime of day to suit) – get themselves to work completely on their own, with no additional communication? 

I don't think they can. Weather it's asking a bus driver to let you off at a certain stop or calling for a taxi, when a sighted person could drive/learn to (presuming they don't have any other impairments). This is in the perfect world where every blind person has a job and the bus drivers always remember to stop and let the blind person know a) that they are a bus, and b) which number they are.

So, we're at work now. Can a blind person walk in off of the street into any office, with just the clothes they're wearing? No, they most likely need specialist software or devices in some instances. Of course unless we're talking about a job that is specifically created for the person's needs such as braille proof reader or something. Yes, some jobs don't involve computers all be it an ever unlikely situation where that is true. So, we look at a less tech driven job. Can a speaker or a personal trainer get from place-to-place by driving or public transport totally solo? No, they need a driver or additional communication.

...We've finished our mornings work in the office or being a gym queen with our Personal Assistant making sure the client isn't going to drop a load of free-weights on their chest causing them to suffocate... It's lunch time! We have three options here.

  1. Bring food in (packed lunch).
  2. Get something from a local store.
  3. Join our workmates for lunch somewhere.
    So, option 1 is easy right? Nope, it has exactly the same problem as option number 2. You may be able to find the shop with your cane or dog - but, you can't find what you want in the shop. So... you have to do the “independent” thing and ask? That's right you're independently asking for help to buy the food you need to live. I've been unfair here, and presumed you've not done you're shopping online and had it delivered by a person who will tell you what everything is because you can't see it.
    With option 3. You'd be reliant on a co-worker reading a menu to you and guiding you to a table at the very least. That's presuming you know where you're going to from your office and you're also fine with finding the toilets when you're there.
    Now we've been to work and got home and cooked dinner.
    How did we cook dinner? We used a recipe (probably not from an off the shelf Waterstones book) or possibly our memory. We may have used a talking jug or talking scales – maybe even a talking microwave. We didn't use a off the shelf jug or digital or even analogue scales. We could possibly have used a standard off the shelf microwave presuming it's had bump-ons attached to it.
    Of course there is always the other option of ready meals... But, they all have different cooking and standing times. Some you put in for a minute; take out; stir; do a slow waltz before putting them back in for another three days others you stick in for ten minutes, ping, done! You get the idea. So, once again, you'd have to ask someone to read these instructions for you and put some sort of mark on the “identical to the next” box to allow you to discriminate between them and their cooking requirements.
    Medication, not a problem at all these days! it's got braille on most of it. Oh! but the prescription... It needs a bit of box ticking. What will we do? Yes, “independently” ask for someone sighted to do it! If we drop a pill and can't find it we? Leave it for the vacuum cleaner or someone sighted, possibly our dogb to find it.
    Cup of something before bed? Kettles boiled “click” - grab a cup, milk and whatever else you need for said drink. STOP! Before tipping scolding hot water into a cup – don't forget your liquid level indicator to tell you when to stop pooring - to prevent spillage and/or injury.

Now, we're in bed! Yes, that's right - you're lucky enough to be in bed with me! Nice, comfy, warm and safe. See you in the morning and you can read the post that someone sent to me.

Sure, we're all limited in one way or another but there's an average that is given. A non mechanic may need a mechanic to repair their vehicle. We all have our specialities, but you can't really claim to be “independent” if you need help with routine tasks. If you're disabled, by the nature of the word – you are dis-abled from doing “standard” things. This is not to say you're incapable of living a “normal” life with certain restrictions or help. However, you are not independent.

The reason for writing this post – isn't to slam those that try their best to lead a full, wholesome and intergrated life; but to tell people to stop pretending independence is achievable with a disability - or at least my disability!

As a child, I was told I could achieve anything I wanted – I could be like my sighted friends. That is of course, unless I wanted a fancy car that I could get in trouble with by driving at silly speeds; if I wanted to join the military or go back-packing around the world (without a rifle). There's many other examples of what I couldn't/can't do, that you and my sighted friends could/can. I'm not going to list them all because – well, what purpose does it serve...?

Just be very mindful, when you tell someone they can be as great like …... because nobody is the same. I can't be Joan of Arc – you're child can't be the next Beckham. I'm not saying aspirations are a waste of time, I'm saying we're all different and by virtue of that we can never be the same as anyone else. We can aspire to be as good as we can be. If not so, Hitler should feel ashamed, he was nowhere near as “evil” as Genghis Khan and Beckham is not nearly as good as me at reading braille upside down with one hand. I am as good at writing as myself and possibly better than a few others but not nearly as good as another few.

Be yourself and don't pretend to be something you're not or that others wish you to be. Most of all don't give others false hope - things simply might not get better.

13 March 2013

Bedroom Tax - Shu'up!

Some may say it's because I'm stupid or a Tory voter, some may say that those aren't exclusive, but regardless – I think the “Bedroom Tax” is a good thing.

Firstly it's not a tax. They're just reducing the level of Housing Benefit [HB] you receive in the first place not removing it post payment.

I am a benefit claimant, I am disabled (but not exempt), I am already a 'victim' of the changes that mean I'll receive less Employment And Support Allowance [EASE] and I live in a two bedroom flat which is occupied by my 'wife', my Guide Dog and me.

The only reason we live in a two bedroom flat is because, we need the garden for the dog. Previously we were in a 9th floor flat in an area which wasn't ideal. The dog was attacked twice within six months of getting her. This flat was the first that was offered to us, so naturally we took it. We didn't know about the fore coming changes to HB and the rest of the DWP benefits, neither did anyone else.

If we had, we still would of took it because we just needed to move.

Since moving we've done the place up to a reasonable standard at a cost to ourselves. However, we've decided once the dog retires we'll move to a one bedroom place.

Yes, it is our choice; yes, some people won't want to move; yes, some people do think they are entitled to two bedrooms because that's what they're given. But, is it fair to keep a family with children waiting longer than needed for suitable accommodation so they can be comfortable rather than living on top of each another? No! It's not. A single person or a couple can live in a one bedroom place easily. You don't need a spare bedroom/room for any other purpose.

Our spare room is used as an alter room along with our treadmill. We could quite easily put an alter in the living room when we need/want to use it. The treadmill is so I can go for a run without a guide and without damaging local street lighting; poled signage and other street furniture. So, if I don't have that will I get fat and be miserable with no outlook on the future? No, I'll just have to go out more, which for me is a good thing but also difficult as I struggle with anxiety. Rather than sitting inside with the internet, I'll be forced to go out to the shops if I want to keep in shape or get a guide runner.

Anyway, as usual I digress some what.

The other thing to remember is that local authority housing is subsidised to varying extents across the country. Locally it's around the 40%.. No, not everyone lives in social housing because there's not enough of it. They live in privately rented accommodation with landlords that buy, often, specifically with the intent on renting to DWP claimants. They know the rules and they know exactly what they can charge. In addition, there are some people that rent properties in pricey areas because they know the Government will unquestionably pick up the tab. Don't full yourself and say there isn't because I considered doing just that and I can't be the only one nationwide.

So, this leaves people that have chosen to take on a tenancy in a pricey area that had no choice. But didn't they have a choice? Travelling is tiring when done over great distances by horse and foot, yes. But, in today's world we have something known generally as public transport. “It's expensive though!” - here I must say, I have a blind person's travelcard that entitles me to free travel around Scotland; and free travel by bus with a companion and I have used this entitlement. Should I be given such an entitlement? That's a different post. However, the key to all cost arguments is budgeting.

“Some people can't budget!” - that stands to reason a baby can't walk but they can learn to. If the child wants something they learn to ask for it or they go without it. Same for people in life, if you budget you can afford things and if you can't budget your life is always wanting. Alternatively you go and get credit and lose track of the total borrowed and wonder why you're getting hassled for money. So, learn how to budget and you'll be able to travel – admittedly maybe not as often as you'd like to but it's a like not a need.

With people who genuinely need something the help is out there all be it very disjointed and often not very visible. With all things in life you need to be proactive to achieve anything.

So, back to my point, again. You could move somewhere the rent prices are less. Even if you can only get to see your family once a week or once a fortnight, rather than daily or weekly. In addition to public transport in today's insane world we have computers and now even telephones that don't require a landline, known as cellular or mobile telephones. You could keep in contact with either of these devices in any form. Slightly less high tech, but you could write to them. I know not everyone can read and write, due to dyslexia and not being taught etc. Once again there's classes out there for people to learn how to read and write if they've slipped through the educational net.

To say, you can't move because of family is not an excuse in my book. This again could be because I don't really talk to my family. But the one's I do talk to, I use talk to mean communicate with generally, I do it by SMS text message, Skype, e-mail or, wait for it... phone! My family live everywhere from Dundee and Darton to Demam in Saudi Arabia. I don't get to see them nearly as often as I'd like to, partly because of cost and partly due to other factors.

The other excuse that isn't really viable is “all my friends are here”. They weren't always your friend, and a good friend will stay in touch. Once again maybe not as often as you'd like but they do stay connected.

Work, is another reason for a choice in location. See my previous about travel. Also if you are still requiring support to meet your basic needs, is it really worthwhile working? Some may say of course it is, it gives me a better quality of life. Does it? Working all day for money that you're not going to see most of and then complaining about it is better? If you're able to enjoy your money fully, then why do you claim benefits?

I hate not working, but I love the fact I can live my life for me. I'm also massively grateful for the financial support I receive from the state but in some respects the owe me, but for legal reasons I can't go into that matter.

Basically, if you can't budget and your pay won't support your property costs, move and commute. If that's not possible Just try budgeting and if that doesn't work, maybe it's time for you to look hard at what's best for you.

Claiming benefits, isn't always a good thing. It can cause life wastage and boredom, but only if you're not smart enough to keep a tab on your own life path.

In all life decisions you must come first. Not what other people might think. Then once you've decided what's right for you then you've got to look at what's best for society. Is it cost effective to keep someone in a two bedroom property, that can live in a one bed fifteen miles away. This person also suffers from depression that is medicated, this medication is provided free to the person at the cost of the NHS. They're depressed in this case because of money. They work really hard but don't achieve anything other than debt. Change is hard in life, I know this from a first hand point.

So, work, friends and family have been sorted.

“I can't move because my wife/husband is ill and we need the extra room for me to stay in and look after them.” As crass as I'm going to sound here think about it.

If it's terminal, you're not going to need that room in the long term. They'll be gone and then you're still going to have to pay for the extra room.

If you can't be in the same bed as them, get another bed for yourself, if there's not enough room for one without putting it in another room – your current bed is too big for that room as it is. The alternative is get a camp bed. They make them pretty comfy these days. As a 16-year-old I changed my bed for a camp bed because it gave me a better night sleep. The latest one I've bought (I have a fixed bed now) is still more comfortable than my bed but I don't have a camp bed because luckily, I can share a bed with my “wife” although she'd love the camp beds rather than a fixed bed we'd miss out on the intimacy of cuddles and sleep fighting. This however, isn't an issue if you medically can't share a bed.

Once again, I know it may come over as crass etc but it's pure logic.

Now, let's come to the people in life that can't support themselves because of budgeting incapability. These people could be dealt with by the government in the same way as the aboriginal people in Australia. The aboriginal people didn't have alcohol or other drugs until us British introduced them to it. GENERALIZATION ALERT!: Since then they've had an issue with it. The state realised the money they were giving them was only fuelling that set of problems - to assist them. They basically said: “we'll pay you on a piece of plastic like a bank card and you can only use it for certain things and we'll teach you how to make your money work”. So, in our country this wouldn't help the incapable but it'd limit the stuff they can waste their money on. They also gave them additional benefits like clothing allowances and the such operated differently. Never the less, they stopped giving them cash in it's hardest form. Which reduced the issue.

If you can't live like an adult on the money your AWARDED by the state, should you really be given a free rein with the rest of your life? Controversial I know but I'm not here to dress my words up, just to get my ideas, thoughts and feelings out in the world.

Unless you're a hard working, completely self sustaining individual, contributing to the national economy by paying taxes complaining doesn't do anything except make you look like a money grabber to those that are hit by taxes. It's also not productive. Admittedly, I don't know if all these changes will make the slightest difference in the long term, neither does anyone else, but what I do know is we're British and we'd not have a DWP that pays benefits if we as a nation hadn't suffered in the past. Suck it up and go without if needed and just remember, that 50” flat screen you have is worth something. If you want a 50” flat screen cheap but reasonable priced chat to the person the previous comment was directed at. Or... save up, it might take months or years, but then you've got the sense of achievement of saving. Don't forget to shop around and there's frequent sales.

Please feel free to come back at me, challenge my views and call me a prick if you must but that shows something about you.

18 February 2013

How I Get Around The World - Virtually Anyway...

I’ve been asked on many occasions: “If you’re blind how can you read this” and other similar variations of the question, and if you don’t know what they are referring to by “this” they mean text online.

I use a couple of methods. I will ever use a magnifier and the remaining sight I’ve got in my eye. Or, I use a built in native screen reading software on the iOS platform. The software is called VoiceOver and is available at no 006xtra charge on all iOS devices. It can be accessed by going down the following path:

Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver

I’d suggest you read the operation instructions before trying it because the touch commands are slightly different.

Anyway – I use VO on my iPhone to read Tweets and to reply along with all the other things you can do on Twitter.

If I am on my computer I tend to just use the 'left overs' of my sight.

I prefer using the computer to the phone because I can type a lot faster. But, with my phone it saves me getting sore and tired eyes.

If I am doing anything longer than a brief e-mail, text or Tweet I just relent and use a computer.

To me this post is a very boring one but I’m sure for many people it will answer lots of questions.

I do the whole tech thing like everything else I do, in a way best to suit me. Some other blind/Severely visually impaired people may just use a magnifier or just a screen reader.

A screen reader; is a piece of software that reads everything on the screen. It identifies things like, links, images and other such landmarks.

You can get screen readers for PCs and Macs but I like to see what I can. As long as I have some sight, I’m reluctant to use VoiceOver on my iMac. Not only would it reduce my browsing experience, it would use up too much additional brain power. Or, in the beginning it would.

I have a basic know how to see me through if the worst did happen but, here’s hopeful that I’ll never have to.

Why have an iMac/iPhone if you can’t see all the flashiness. Simple the cost of a normal none Apple device with an equivalent screen reader would cost the same give or take a few pound. With the none apple devices and the third party software there’s the problem of system vs software conflicts and software vs software conflicts. When a piece of software is designed and run on a machine with the exact software designed for that machine that pouch of problems isn’t there.

I hope this helps and please feel more than free to contact me, via this, twitter or my webpage with any relevant questions. (