Month: January 2012

Will this IRS believe this one?

My accountant told me that if I want to deduct my car insurance as a part of my business expenses that I need to keep a very accurate and detailed log of my mileage.  So as of January 1 I’ve been very good about noting down everything:

House – mileage  –> office – mileage –> post office – mileage –> office – mileage.  You get the point.

The little spiral bound notebook I kept this in was a little more flimsy than I thought and started losing pages.  No problem.  I tucked them in and thought I’d transfer this mess to a spreadsheet one of these days.

Monday we had quite a windstorm.  As I opened the car door the suction pulled one of those little mileage sheets out of the door and into the air.  I waited for it to land so I could chase it up and down the building.  Except… it didn’t come down.  There was an updraft. I watched it fly up and over the top of a FIVE STORY BUILDING.  The last I saw of that piece of paper it was headed towards the next town over.  All I could do was wave good-bye.

My accountant responded to my FB lament with, “Sounds fishy to me.”  (Yeah, thanks.) My roomie graciously said, “I told you to get an app…” Uh, huh, so now I’m checking out applications for mileage, business expenses, etc. I know the iPhone won’t fly away.  I’m so dense sometimes.  (sigh)

Since I’ve largely gone to commenting on hearing loss and since I love dogs I want to share this very touching commentary with you. I hope all my friends who love their pets will take the time to read this and to wish Amie more days, weeks, and months of joyous life.

Deafened But Not Silent.

As you may know, dear reader, my Hearing Ear Dog “Amie” has been living with cancer in her bladder (invasive transitional cell carcinoma) for some time now.  In fact, it has been almost 20 months ago that we were given the news that she may only have 2 months to live.  Somehow, she has beaten the odds and has survived much longer than expected.  All the vet can tell us is “Keep doing what you are doing.  I am not sure what it is is, but it seems to be working!”  To be honest, I am not sure either.

My wife and I were reflecting on the impact Amie has had on our lives.  In addition, how how Amie has changed my personality.

Here are some of the lessons Amie has taught me:

  1. Praise is Better than Punishment for Changing Behavior.  Amie never responded well to being punished.  She…

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Invincible Summer

In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. ~ Camus (variant translation)

Because of the crystalline cold during the last few days where moisture seeps from the air and dusts the land with what appears to be snow but is in reality hoar-frost, I offer my favorite photo of Boston during the heat of the invincible summer that lies within me.  I’ve tried to replicate it several times, but apparently just walking on a bridge near South Station is insufficient for the reflections to appear this vividly.

Even in the steaming heat of a summer day in Boston, where flesh ponders the coolness of the water so near (and yet so far) and you now know how a steamed lobster feels, there is beauty.

 “Beauty above me, beauty below me. Beauty in front of me, beauty behind me. All around me, beauty.” ~ Navajo Prayer 

I’ve lost it! Just why do I want to find it?

Today I went to a noon meeting. On the way there I realized I’d lost my phone in the car. I pulled over to the side of the road and searched for it. After not finding it I drove to the meeting, arriving barely in time, and then searched some more. It had to be in the car, because I got the address from it for the GPS. I had to find it to so I could leave it in the car instead of either being interrupted or being disruptive in the meeting.

Then sanity hit.

I locked up the car, went to the meeting and yanno what? The phone was there (on the floor, partly under the driver’s seat) when I got back – where it could not interrupt my meeting.

Grant me the Serenity to stop looking for the one thing I actually do not want…

Do cars make noise?

…and other strange questions the hard of hearing or deaf might ask.

There is endless fascination on my part how much noise there is in the hearing world. Until I got fitted for my first hearing aid I never got things like why people gave me dirty looks for reading the newspaper. Even then, there’s a lot of noise that’s lost on someone with significantly impaired hearing. Like escalators.

And now, after lovin’ my new hearing aid I realized the car was no longer quiet. Today I asked my roomie – how much noise do cars make? This was not an academic question. I figured it depended on the car because I remember commercials for quiet cars. Then she realized I mean MY car. Since I’ve never really heard anything more than sort of a quiet hum before, I was a little alarmed that maybe nuts and bolts were going to start falling off.

Tonight at ASL meet-up I talked to a deaf participant and we got in a conversation about how hearing people deal with all the noise.  So how DO you deal with it?  If I am hearing only a fraction of what the rest of you do, it must be like living inside a cement mixer filled with ball bearings. And you can’t turn it off.  Don’t you ever want to stick your fingers in your ears, scream, and run around in circles until you collapse from exhaustion?

I have friends who burp or make other body noises and feel compelled to point it out to me, saying, “Excuse me,” and I often say, “The nice thing about having a hard of hearing friend is never having to say ‘excuse me’ unless it smells bad, because otherwise I’ll never know.” I sometimes wonder just how loud body sounds are.  Is it like listening to someone banging on a radiator with a pipe or something?

Moon over Boston

On the way home from ASL III class there was the most incredible moon rising over Boston.  Optical illusions being what they are it was just huge in the sky, flooding the city with light and turning the Charles into “Moon River.”  Traffic was so light I almost dared the fates by pulling off to the side on Storrow Drive – not a good move.

Although I wasn’t able to get the photo I wanted, I found some on Flickr that looked just like it did tonight. So, with a Creative Commons License I present to you some fabulous photos by a photographer we probably all should pay attention to – Werner Kunz.

And they call it audio love

It’s official.  I’m smitten with my new Naída S by Phonak.  What’s that, you may wonder? It’s a hearing aid. A water-resistant hearing aid I could wear in the shower!  Wow!  It’s also a bluetooth device that lets me take incoming phone calls and listen to streaming audio on my iPhone. And it connects with my bluetooth FM System.

Most people would probably not wax rhapsodic, but after a progression in hearing loss I am suddenly hearing better than I did before the downturn in hearing. It is not that I got my hearing back, it is that the technology is such that it enables me to maximize my residual hearing better.

I no longer have a bluetooth headset hanging off my one good ear. Now I wear a microphone around my neck.

I’m fortunate I’ve got insurance that covers the vast majority of the cost of this hearing appliance and I got help from a rehab organization to cover the rest. I also paid out of pocket for some of the adaptive add-ons.  Then again, if I didn’t need it for work related reasons I would never have sought out this sort of very high-end equipment.

I’m also blessed to have connected with a highly competent group of audio professionals dedicated to providing high quality service to the hard of hearing community. I practically worship at the feet of Joel Rubin, my hearing aid tech. He’s the one I go to with questions about how best to address my highly specialized needs to deal effectively in my business and my life. He really listens and has more ideas than anyone I’ve ever met before. I recently found out he has a degree in Engineering from MIT and used to do product engineering. That explains it.

Because I’m an unabashed hearing aid user and interested in making sure others get their hearing needs met, I’m constantly referring people who need help to his office. I’ve burned through a lot of  less adept hearing aid providers over the years. It isn’t easy to find highly competent and professional folks who are more interested in serving a population than making a sale.

So if you think you need a hearing test – get one. Go to an audiologist or an ENT. Don’t do the denial thing. Really.  Find someone who really understands hearing aids and what all the options as well as what is best for you. Don’t settle for some provider that sells only one brand – and I don’t care what brand it is. If they don’t handle top of the line brands like Phonak, Siemens and Starkey then go somewhere else. Find someone you can depend on because you’re going to have a relationship that lasts for years, through cleanings, computer updates of the hearing aid software, and eventual replacement of the unit.  This is someone who has to be honest as the day is long and as reliable as the sun coming up in the morning. Oh, and if you’re like me and you have to ask “How much noise is a car supposed to make?” (because you have never been able to hear it), if your tech can’t tell you the phone apps you can download to test out the noise level of your environment – find someone better. Like Joel. 😉

Its a dog’s life

I ponder that it is a good thing there are basic minimums for toxicity before one’s dog keels over from ingesting, say, chocolate.

I’m for renaming Duke with his real name: Bandit. Everything is fair game for him. Today he’s snatched one pair of reading glasses, a kitchen towel, two tennis shoes (unmatched), a sock, and part of my chocolate flavored flax meal muffin.  I know there’s not enough chocolate in there to poison him, but there’s that sinking feeling when I realize he’s gotten on the table – again – while my back was turned,  has gotten the last bit of food and is now running and gulping simultaneously. I’ve never had a dog I had to watch so closely. He reminds me of a small version of Chet from the Bernie and Chet mystery series. I’m sure if he could, he’d eat tennis balls as well.

It speaks to me

Tonight, on the way back from ASL class I got out of the car, looked up and found a gibbous moon high in the sky and some of the brighter stars.  It still speaks to me – the night sky.

I wonder how many places are left today where a child can lie down in the velvet blackness of the night and look up into a field of stars so dense that you just know there’s someone out there looking back. I can’t remember the last time I saw a night sky unobstructed by light pollution.

Did we dream of going to the stars because we could so easily see them?  Reach out hands out to them and almost touch them with our minds, if not our fingers?  There are so few places left where the night sky is not paled by our own lanterns fighting off the dark. Perhaps this is the reason the dream has died.

Its all your fault…

It’s all your fault I’m this way because … you got divorced and now I have abandonment issues. You didn’t get divorced and I was scarred for life from the bickering in the house.

You moved around too much, depriving me of having a stable family home so I feel rootless. You lived my whole life in the same small town.  I never got to go anywhere or do anything.  It was the end of the world and you stifled my development.

It is all your fault for taking me to the doctor too often so I became a hypochondriac. It is all your fault for not taking me to the doctor when I needed to go so now I believe my needs will not be met.

You didn’t get me pets.  You did get me pets, they died and I was traumatized

If you will only read these books that will demonstrate how bad a parent you were and how you screwed up my life then, perhaps I will speak to you from my lofty perch of judge, jury and executioner and potentially deign to communicate  to you, directing your actions and supervising your visits.

I ponder that when I was a kid my Dad screamed and yelled and waved his hands around in the air like a helicopter, his face got red and he was literally spitting mad.

Somehow I grew up and learned to cope without abandonment feelings. It was more like “don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out” feelings.  Dad belted me and I punched him back. He broke the tone arm off my record player and I cut his favorite tie in half.  We glared at each other and reached a grudging Mexican standoff.

Half the time when I was hurt I never got to see a doctor because it was too far to town and you made do with a band-aid, except when I got a really bad cut the doctor chewed me out for waiting too long so he could not give me stitches and I have a big scar. One time I almost did die from the wasp sting, but I didn’t, so that’s that. I tend to be tough about things like that – it is paper cuts that drive me nuts. And the time I got the serious second and third degree burns on my lower arm – that was bad.

My Dad and his sister had to get up in the dark in the morning and walk across a field and get water for the house. They were scared little kids. And yet the did it every day. Strangely enough they did not grow into addicts, drunks, street people, nor anything else particularly  bad … although I admit my extended family tended toward the odd side now and again.

Everyone plays the blame game sometimes. And sometimes others do things that really do leave a mark. Remember, though, that the same flame that melts butter tempers steel. You could be steel instead of butter.