Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Better Living with Fred's Head

Here's a story in which it is shown that the regular use of the Fred's Head blog can improve one's quality of life.

Greg Samsa awoke one Saturday morning to the sound of a baby crying. He got out of bed, remembered that his wife had left for a teacher's convention the night before and knew that he had to take care of things. He put on his bathrobe and went into the nursery.

"Jen-ny" he sang. "Daddy's here, Jenny. Daddy's here." He felt around in the crib for the baby and picked her up. Jenny's crying continued, but with less force.

"Are we hungry?" Greg asked, bouncing the little girl in his arms as he carefully navigated into the kitchen. He put a saucepan of water to heat on the stove, then prepared a baby bottle one-handed and set it in the saucepan. Jenny's cries continued. "I've got to change her diaper," he thought. Laurie usually took charge of that task--manipulating the diaper while he helped to clean the baby-- but she was in Chicago.

"Why didn't I think to get some practice while she was here?" he asked Jenny. "That's okay, Muffin. Daddy will fix it."

One important lesson Greg had learned in graduate school was that not knowing an answer to a question was not nearly as bad as not knowing how to find an answer.

Greg went into the living room, where the computer was. He always left the computer running, so it only took a moment to get online. He selected "Fred's Head" from his bookmark file. He went straight to the edit box with his screen reader by pressing the letter "e", and typed "baby diaper" in the search field. He got How To Diaper A Baby as a result.

"Piece of cake!" Greg said to Jenny. "I think."

Greg carried Jenny down the hall to the nursery and followed the instructions he'd gotten from "Fred's Head".

"Fold this…" he said to himself. "…check that she's covered…peel this… peel this… Done! That wasn't too bad!" He put a clean romper on Jenny and they went back to the kitchen.

The bottle was ready, so Jenny got her breakfast. After she had eaten, Greg got Jenny settled into the baby carrier and started making his own breakfast. Greg fixed himself some oatmeal and toast and wondered what else it was he wanted to eat.

"Fried eggs!" Greg said. "That's what's missing. I want fried eggs!"

He went back to the computer, hit the letter "e" until he landed on the search box, then typed "frying eggs" into the search field.

He found two results: Frying eggs using an egg ring and American Egg Board Recipes.

Greg hit the link for Frying Eggs Using An Egg Ring and read over the record.

"Seems easy enough," Greg thought. "I know we don't have the egg rings-- but maybe those metal cookie-cutters will work. I'll give it a try."

Returning to the kitchen, Greg got a frying pan and set it on the stove. He set the burner to 'medium high' and put two tablespoons of oil in the pan. The Samsa's keep their oil in a wide mouth jar near the stove. A metal measuring spoon whose handle had been bent 90 degrees fits through the wide-mouth opening and serves as a ladle for the oil, providing an accurate measure.

Greg pulled the two largest cookie-cutters out of the bottom drawer. One was used for making gingerbread men; the other was a large five-pointed star. He added them to the pan. He grabbed two eggs from the refrigerator and started cooking.

After cleaning up the breakfast dishes, Greg got ready for work. He didn't have to perform any weddings this week, but he wanted to stop by the office anyway. The new computer was delivered yesterday and he hadn't finished setting it up. He also wanted to fix a couple of weak spots in tomorrow's sermon.

Greg got dressed for work and took Jenny next door to the Davis' house. Mrs. Davis was the regular babysitter, and she was expecting Jenny today. He knocked on the door.

"Good morning."

"Good morning, Doris. How are you today?"

"Okay. I'm watching Scooby Doo."

"Are you? That's nice. Do you like it?"

"Yeah," Doris nodded.

"Good. I liked it when I was your age. I'm here to drop Jenny off. Is your mom around?"

"Yeah. She's upstairs." Doris ran off, yelling "Mom! Reverend Greg is here." She soon ran back. "She says you can come in."

"Thanks, Doris." Greg stepped into the house.

"Hi Greg! Isn't it a lovely day?" Mrs. Davis' voice came from above and to the left. Her voice got louder and closer as she walked down the steps. "Would you like a cup of coffee?"

"No thanks, Sandra. I'm trying to decaffeinate."

Greg accepted a glass of water and chatted for a little while, then headed off to the church. The church was nearby, only seven blocks away. Greg always walked there when the weather was nice.

The Thomas Merton Unitarian Universalist Church was a former Methodist church. It was originally built in the early 1800s and had been expanded twice since then. The building had lots of narrow hallways and steep staircases; there was even a spiral staircase that led from behind the sanctuary to the choir loft. Greg had been minister here for seven years, so he was familiar with the layout and was comfortable navigating to his office. He went directly to his desk and turned on the computer.

He had spent most of yesterday getting the various cables connected and getting his software installed. He still needed to get desktop shortcuts created for his most-used programs. It had been four years since he made shortcuts on his old computer, and he had forgotten the procedure. The computer manuals were not accessible, so he got online. He hoped that "Fred's Head" could help. He typed in and added it to his bookmarks. He searched for "computer shortcuts" and received several results.

Greg selected How to Transfer Settings and Files From One Computer to Another with Magic Transfer and found the information he needed.

Greg saved this article to his favorites for reference and created his shortcuts and he was quickly finished. He then opened up tomorrow's sermon: "The Importance of Heroes: Role Models in Modern America." He decided that he was happy with it, especially the part about how product endorsements and advertising in general had adversely changed the role of modern heroes, but it still needed another good example. He went to "Fred's Head," looked under the "Browse Articles by Subject" heading, chose the Role Models link, and was rewarded with several results.

"These are just what I need to round out the sermon!" Greg thought.

He used some of the results to strengthen the weak part of his essay. Pleased with the finished product, he typed up an outline to use as a guide in the morning. He went to the closet and turned on the braille embosser then shut the closet door. He went back to his outline and chose 'print' from the file menu. The clattering of the embosser was loud even through the closed door.

Greg checked his email. There was a short message from his brother.

"Greg, I just heard on the radio that someone published a book on astronomy for blind people. Does that make any sense to you? Love, Bill"

Greg decided to check "Fred's Head" before replying. A quick search on "astronomy" returned several articles. Greg opened the article The Sky's Not the Limit: Astronomy for the Blind and Visually Impaired to learn more.

Greg emailed the record to his brother along with this message: "It makes good sense to me."

The next email came from the church's music director.

"I want to do some movements from Bach's Cantata 140 for that special memorial service next month." She wrote. "The arrangement has an important trumpet obbligato. Would you be willing to play the trumpet part? Let me know soon. Thanks, Callie"

"That would be a lot of fun," thought Greg. "I wonder where I can get a copy of the braille music?"

Greg decided to search "Fred's Head," for "braille music". The first result was titled Braille Music." Greg opened it and began reading.

Greg saved this information to his desktop, intending to research the location of the trumpet part after lunch. He knew APH's Louis database had over 200 thousand entries, so he figured that the trumpet part would probably show up there.

He checked the time: 11:30-- "almost time for lunch," he thought, "Just a couple of things to get done first."

Greg needed to replace his old tactile metronome. He had knocked it off the shelf while practicing two days ago and it had shattered when it hit the floor. Greg clicked on the "Fred's Head" Assistive Technology link and the computer responded with a variety of results.

Greg selected Finding Adaptive Technology Is As Easy As Abledata, and the computer displayed the article.

Greg surfed over to the Abledata site and bookmarked it. He found a replacement metronome in the music section; the description included the manufacturer's contact information, including a web address. He surfed over and found that they supported internet sales. Two minutes later, his new metronome was on its way.

The other thing he needed to do before lunch was to find something special to cook for Laurie when she returned from Chicago. Once again he called up "Fred's Head," this time he clicked on the Recipes link."

Greg decided to browse through the Cooking subject, he enjoyed cooking and had found good ideas there before. He learned the trick about keeping his oil in a wide mouth jar and using a bent metal measuring spoon from "Fred's Head" a couple of months before. "Maybe they've added something new since the last time I was here."

"These are some great articles!" He thought for a moment. "I've got a few tricks that I learned from Laurie that I'd like to share with other blind and visually impaired people."

Greg used the letter "h" on his keyboard to navigate to the "YOU Can Contribute to Fred's Head!" heading and clicked on the link. He typed his idea into a new email message. He checked for errors and then clicked the send button.

"Alright. That's enough for one day." Greg thought. He shut down the computer, collected his braille outline and turned off the embosser. He placed the outline on his desk and decided to put off searching for music and to spend some time outside with his daughter instead.

Greg stopped at the sandwich shop across the street from the church for some lunch, and then went to get his daughter.

The End.

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