No National Service Dog Team Standard! Yea!

I have a happy update to the Canadian service dog team standards story. They have scrapped it!

I guess all the comments, meetings with MP\s, and whatever everyone else did convinced them that a one-size-fits-all standard does not work, as we all knew it wouldn’t.

Of course, there are articles like this one that make the standard’s being scrapped sound like a horrible idea.

The future of the federal government’s bid to pair veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder with service dogs was thrown into doubt Wednesday by the unexpected decision of a federal regulating agency to pull out of the project.
The Canadian General Standards Board announced it will not develop a nationwide code of acceptable training and behavioural standards for the animals.

I’m sure if Veterans’ Affairs wanted to, they could learn from the many accredited guide dog associations how to build a good standard. This one was going to cause all kinds of problems for current service dogs, and they wouldn’t have wanted that either.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that some other entity could start trying to draft another blanket standard, but for now, it looks like we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

The Further Adventures of Googoo and Odessa

Here’s another video demonstrating why Grandma would not like an Amazon Echo.

It doesn’t matter how many times I watch this video, it’s just as funny. I can’t help but crack up when she yells “Ok Goo goo!”

It’s fascinating to watch her hitting the speaker thinking that will make it wake up. It totally makes sense, it just doesn’t work that way. It’s the little things like that that I forget would be super weird for an older person to get used to.

I really thought it was funny when she ran away from the speaker when it told her the weather. I wonder if she ever got it to play her song.

And just for fun, here’s a funny Amazon Echo video, but not about seniors.

That would so be happening to my dad…if he could remember to make sure it was on.

I Have Loose Lips, Doo Doo Doo Doo…

Ever since Dave left CJOY, we haven’t had the desire to listen to it in the mornings anymore. I’m sure the guy who replaced him is trying his level best, but he’s just not Dave and it shows. So, we started listening to CKWR, and it’s kind of fun because they have so much more freedom. I have heard some really wacky stuff in the mornings, some of which I’ve never heard before, and it gets the day started nicely.

Among the songs I’ve never heard before is this one by Alfie Zappacosta called “Start Again”. We have previously had the poor bus stranger, now we have the poor long-time friend.

Here, have some lyrics.

I don’t believe it, how have you been it’s been a long time
Nice to see you again
What you been up to, you look well to me
Come down to my place
I’ll pull out some cheer and we’ll talk again. it’s nice to talk again
My brother, he was doing o.k. he worked in plastics
Made a good wage
Too much pressure to be faced everyday and so his problems
Got carried away
And he gets to the booze once too often
Don’t know why he wants to get so high.
He stays up, while things go down
In good time he’ll come around
Easy come and easy go
Do, do, do, do, do,
I can’t seem to stop him he just starts again
He just starts again
Did i tell you, bout the love of my life
You know she left me, it cut like a knife
Another story, so you can see
Though we’re apart now, she’s still dear to me
Can there still be respect for one another
And can we still sleep together once in a while
We stay up, while things go down
In good time we’ll come around
Easy come and easy go
Do, do, do, do, do,
It seems when we’re broken
We just start again
We just start again
It’s nice to talk again
As we start again

Wow! Can you imagine getting that onslaught? “Hey! Nice to see ya! You look good. Let’s go have a drink! Oh by the way, speaking of drinks, my brother drinks too much and he’s cracking under the pressure, but everything will work out somehow. Oh, and my wife left me. But I still want to sleep with her. La la la la la. So nice to catch up!”

I wonder if this poor long-lost acquaintance wrote an answer song. Hopefully their life hasn’t been nearly so turbulent.

I Will Go…Nowhere Near This Ever Again!

I was in a cab, and this atrocity assaulted my ears.

Uuuuuuuuuug!

I could end this post right here, because that is a horrible version of a beautiful song, but there is so much more I have to say.

First, just in case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the original.

I’m not usually a fan of opera-like stuff, but this song has a very special place in my heart that starts with neighbour Cam who passed away nearly 13 years ago. Before he died, he lent me the Andrea Bocelli Romanza album, simply saying he liked it. I listened to it, and though it wasn’t my style, I gave it a chance, and some songs did sort of crawl into my head. You know how I feel about merrily singing foreign songs without knowing what they mean, so I read translations of the lyrics. From what I understand, although Con Te Partirò means “I will go with you” if taken literally, its true meaning is something like “We have to part ways, but I will be with you in spirit.” When they translated the title, they changed it to “Time to say goodbye.”

When my neighbour passed away, this song was played at his funeral, and I learned that he would listen to that whole album while he was getting radiation treatments, and he said it sounded like he was being sung to by angels. I went out and bought the album, and sometimes I listen to it and think of him. Do you see why this version made me want to scream?

I understand that anybody can cover a song any way they like, and some covers are really cool. This, to me wasn’t an example of cool. Not only did it sound cheap, but the words came straight out of opposite land. If you don’t believe me, read the translation of Bocelli’s version.

When I’m alone
I dream on the horizon
and words fail;
yes, I know there is no light
in a room where the sun is absent,
if you are not with me, with me.
At the windows
show everyone my heart
which you set alight;
enclose within me
the light you
encountered on the street.
Time to say goodbye
to countries I never
saw and shared with you,
now, yes, I shall experience them.
I’ll go with you
on ships across seas
which, I know,
no, no, exist no longer.
It’s time to say goodbye…
When you are far away
I dream on the horizon
And words fail,
and, Yes, I know
that you are with me;
you, my moon, are here with me,
my sun, you are here with me,
with me, with me, with me.
Time to say goodbye
To countries I never
Saw and shared with you,
now, yes, I shall experience them.
I’ll go with you
On ships across seas
which, I know,
no, no, exist no longer,
with you I shall experience them again.
I’ll go with you
On ships across seas
Which, I know,
No, no, exist no longer;
with you I shall experience them again.
I’ll go with you,
I with you.

Now, here are the butchered lyrics that were set to that techno garbage that I heard:

Stranded alone on a sea of emotion
You found me
Your love was a light
In the darkness that shone
So profoundly
Say that you’ll stay
Do not be afraid, afraid
You, you’re my breath
The air I breathe
You are my imagination
Su le finesse
Song of my heart
Secrets I’m not afraid to whisper

Con te partiro
I’ll go where you lead me
Wherever you are
(forever and ever we’ll stay)
In love together
I will go with you
I’ll go where you lead me
Forever true
(forever and ever we’ll stay)
In love together

Stranded alone on a sea of emotion
You found me
It’s you who first found me
Come here, come here
Put your arms around me,
Come here
It’s you who surrounds me
Come here, come here
Come here
Come here
You, you’re my breath
The air I breathe
You are my imagination
Su le finesse
Song of my heart
Secrets I’m not afraid to whisper

I will go with you
I’ll go where you lead me
Forever true
(forever and ever we’ll stay)
In love together
Con te partiro
I’ll go where you lead me
Wherever you are
(forever and ever we’ll stay)
In love together
I will go with you
I’ll go where you lead me
Forever true
(forever and ever we’ll stay)
In love together

Con te partiro
I’ll go where you lead me,
Wherever you are
I will go with you
I’ll go where you lead me
Forever true
In my…
Heart!

Um, barf! One is saying they can’t be with someone anymore and they may never see them again and the other is just being all “smoochy smoochy I’ll follow you like a loyal puppy.” Barf!

And if that wasn’t bad enough, in some places, they channelled their inner Ken Lee, farted in some ducks, and just made up words. I am pretty sure there is no reference to “say that you’ll stay” in the English translation of the Italian, but the Italian lyrics sure kind of sound like that. also, all the “come here”‘s to sub in for con me, which means “with me”, annoyed the living hell out of me.

Am I the only one who cares? Have I become an old woman who is out of touch? Does this bother anyone else? Or should I lighten up?

For Future Reference…

A few weeks ago, I learned something that I thought I would pass on to other blind folks. If you ever get asked by someone to be a passport reference, if you actually get the call, among the things they will ask for is a physical description of the person for whom you are serving as a reference. Some blind folks are amazing at remembering what people look like. I am not one of them.

It was an embarrassing experience. I felt like such a fool. Here I am saying I’ve known this person for virtually a decade and a half and I can’t remember the length and colour of her hair, the colour of her eyes, or how tall she is. It got worse as I began to panic, because I knew she was getting an emergency passport renewal, and if they didn’t think her references were credible, bye-bye passport. I felt so pathetic, trying to think of as many obscure things that might be on the passport application, even though these obscure things were kind of odd to mention, such as her having prosthetic eyes. Come on, I was desperate! I mentioned her birthday, and I had already said where she lived and where she worked, so I was hoping I just needed something small. Words you never think you have to say to a passport person: I think her hair is a bit long, but I’m blind and I don’t often reach out and touch someone.

So, my advice to you, if you’re like me and don’t remember physical descriptions worth a darn, talk to the person who is asking for a reference and get it verified so you don’t end up spluttering out all the embarrassing things. I guess between my reference and her second one, the woman from Passport Canada must have gotten what she wanted because the passport went through.

Head-Spinning Flight Safety Videos

Yes, I’m back home. I went to CSUN, the first time in four years. I flew two United flights, and thankfully, they didn’t try to break me or Tansy on either one. Very good news!
But I did think their safety video seemed really weird. The words were normal enough, but the surrounding music was just messed up. And, what’s up with the barking dog? My reaction to it kind of reminded me of the story of the patients with aphasia thinking a president’s speech was absolutely hilarious simply because the facial expression didn’t match the tone. They couldn’t understand the words, but his appearance and gestures were so fake that they thought it was a really good joke.

So here’s the video. For me, things get weird at about a minute 10 seconds and just continue to get weird. I can understand the party music at the beginning, maybe they’re imagining that we’re all headed for some vacation or something, but the dogs and the crazy Flight of the Bumble Bee-like music and the ripping something or other and the other weird music is just odd.

Am I the only one that finds the music really distracting? I’m glad I’ve flown before and have gone through more than a few safety briefings.

They’re All Gonna Laugh At You!

After reading a story about people’s Amazon Echo devices laughing at them at random, I’m really glad I didn’t get one for my grandma. That would have scared the heck out of her, understandably!

Seriously. Sometimes out of the blue, or in the middle of a conversation that has not included the word “Alexa”, or after being given a command, some Amazon Echos have decided that the last spoken phrase was a real knee-slapper. Here’s a recording of one of them laughing. Of course, the recording was created by the person triggering her to laugh, so it isn’t as freaky as if a random laugh had been captured, but still.

I can’t decide what I would find more creepy. Having it randomly laugh out of the blue would be weird and startling, and be a definite reminder of how it is listening all the time. But I can’t say I wouldn’t get the chills at the idea of it laughing in response to a command as if she has decided that the idea of her doing such a thing is hilarious. Sure, one part of my mind would say that she just misunderstood my command, but there would be another part that would have this urge to call her Hal.

It is a freaky idea that these speakers can’t do anything on their own, and all their updates are handled on some server somewhere. Nope, I still don’t want one.

I Was On The News Talking About Fake Service Dogs

I didn’t realize it when I woke up yesterday, but I was going to be on the news by the end of the day. Don’t worry, it wasn’t for something scary or stupid. I guess an old friend from school ended up talking to a reporter about the problem of disservice dogs and how businesses don’t know what to do. When the reporter asked him for a local person with a service dog, he thought of me, and so it went.

It all came together pretty quickly, from “Would you be ok talking to a reporter about this?” to “Where do you work? I’ll meet you in an hour!” I was a very nervous human being, super afraid I was going to be misquoted, or say something that could be taken out of context.

Here is the resulting report. I babbled and rambled at her a while, so I’m glad she got at least a good line. I apparently looked fit to be on camera too, which is reassuring, since the wind blew my hair all crazy when I first arrived outside.

I feel like they threw this together quickly, and for the time they gave it, they did the best they could. I almost wish they could turn this into a series because this report barely scratched the surface of the issue, but they won’t. I also know this came together quickly because the reporter doesn’t know a heck of a lot about service dogs. The first thing she did was try to greet Tansy. She respected me when I said no, but the fact is she greeted her, which is a short leap from trying to pet her.

I wish I had been more articulate in my rambles because I have so much to say but it won’t come out in a controlled manner. There are so many parts to this. Fake service dogs have the potential to cause damage to legitimate service dogs either indirectly or directly. They can cause harm by making business owners worried about having dogs in their establishments because one of the fakes behaved badly or peed or crapped on the floor. Or, a fake service dog that isn’t well-socialized might attack a real service dog simply because they are sharing the same space. These fakes are being stressed out by being put in this situation, and their owners have no idea what harm they’re causing.

Also, I’m afraid that the pendulum of acceptance of service animals might swing in the opposite direction. After the initial fight to prove that service dogs can be in public spaces, people became very accepting of them, and if they made a mistake or did something mildly inappropriate like sniff someone in a moment of weakness, most people didn’t say much because most often, the dog’s behaviour was excellent. Now, I’m afraid that if my dog commits an infraction at all, we may reach a point where her legitimacy may be questioned. I’m not saying that I let her get away with murder because I can and those days will be gone, but I’m saying that because of the fakes, we will be under a microscope even more than we already are.

I wish they had offered some actual pointers to business owners instead of the message of “there are fakes, what are ya gonna do about it?” I guess they mentioned that actual service dogs don’t bark and run around unleashed and such, but there wasn’t anything beyond that. After I tweeted out the news report, a friend asked what would be a polite question to ask. The ones I thought of resembled the ones recommended by the ADA in the states. Is the dog a service dog? What tasks has the dog been trained to do to help with a disability? To be brief, you could ask the person what the dog does for them. Then the person can talk about the dog’s job instead of having to talk about their disability and medical condition. Hopefully this would also work for people with invisible disabilities so they don’t get the embarrassing comments like “You don’t look disabled, why do you have a service dog?” I think anyone who has a canine walking along beside them should have a response to the question of what their dog does that preserves their dignity at the ready because there are going to be questions. It is inevitable. It is something service dog handlers have to accept as soon as we decide to become service dog handlers. Also, the answer can’t be “He makes me feel good.” I know there are actual tasks that some dogs do to help with anxiety, but the handler should say what the dog actively does to help ease stress, such as watching out for people coming around corners or helping the person find an exit from a crowded room if they get overwhelmed. If business owners learn how to differentiate the good answers from the crap, and only ask when they’re not so sure, I think this might help. Finally, business owners need to know that, whether the service dog is legitimate or not, if it’s behaving badly, dog and handler can be given the boot. I always joke that even if I’m allowed to shop anywhere I choose, as soon as I start punching people and defiling or stealing property, I would be escorted out post haste.

It would also prevent a situation that happened to me at Walmart last summer. I walked into the store, and was immediately told that there was a pit bull in the store and that I should go wait at the courtesy desk or they should get my items for me. I asked if it seemed like the pit bull-like dog was a service dog, who knows if it was actually a pit bull, and they said no. I asked if they allow pets in the store, because if they don’t, pit bull and owner should be asked to leave. Their response was they don’t feel like they can ask anyone to leave. I was ushered to courtesy and asked what I came for, but I had a rather complicated list. I eventually persuaded someone to go with me and keep an eye out for the dog. I knew I was taking a big risk, but I felt I shouldn’t be treated like a second-class citizen while this person, who they couldn’t even locate, was wandering through the store. Who knows how long I would have been standing in the courtesy area? We got through the store just fine, but the point is that staff at Walmart had no idea how to handle the situation, except to put hands over ears and go “La la la la, everything will be fine if we just put our heads in the sand and hope for the best.”

I didn’t like the final line about how people are going to develop a licensing standard and people have to prove they need a service dog. Hmmm. That sounds a lot like this proposed service dog standards garbage that won’t do anybody any favours. It also sounds a lot like a pendulum swinging the other way. Once again, legitimate service dog handlers will be the ones that will have to jump through more hoops than they already do.

I’m glad a story was done on this topic, and I’m glad I was part of it. I have had people I barely know say they saw it on the news, so it grabbed some attention for sure. I wish she had pronounced my name correctly though, especially since she had me say and spell it. Oh well, lots of people get my name wrong. I could think of way worse things to screw up. I hope it starts some kind of dialog with the right people so no group of handlers gets screwed by the outcome, and business owners don’t feel so powerless.

The Hogewey concept Is Moving To Canada

I was going to put this post directly above the post about memory, but I forgot. Har har har.

It looks like there’s going to be a village like Hogewey in Canada, and there might be two! The first one is supposed to open next April in Langley.

Ok, am I missing something, or does the math not seem right here?

  • They say they plan to house 78 residents
  • in 6 cottages,
  • and two of the cottages would allow for a couple each.

By my calculations, they would have to put 13 residents in each cottage. I’m going to hope that the reporter was just really super unclear on something somewhere. I’m also a little conflicted about *no* locked doors. I don’t know if I want some other wandering souls just confusedly coming into my cottage instead of theirs. It sounds like there would be lots of staff, so maybe that wouldn’t be anything to worry about.

Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how it does, and if they can get the price down a tad.

Microsoft Soundscape Looks Neat, But I’ll Have To Wait To Try It

Even though this isn’t available in Canada yet, I’m still posting about it because it’s cool.

Microsoft has released another interesting app to help out us blind kids, this one is for navigation. It’s called Microsoft Soundscape. It’s kind of like Blindsquare only in a videogame-like format. As you’re walking, you will hear where points of Interest nearby are, and you will hear them in that direction. So if TD bank is to the right of you, you will hear “TD Bank” spoken in your right ear. You can create beacons on landmarks, such as the exit from the park that you take to go home, or some side door of a building, or some such and they will make knocking noises as you pass them. It made me think of the old PakMan Talks videogame when it would go “Super power. Super power…” Of course, I think you would have to wear bone-conducting headphones for this to work at all, but heck, I usually am doing that anyway. Here’s a video to show how it works.

Slightly cheesy, but hey I shouldn’t criticize, I hate making videos.

I will have to reserve judgment on how awesome it is until I can actually try it. I wonder about the accuracy of when it says something is somewhere. How does it handle when you’re in a place with a lot of things right close together? I wonder about how good the beacons are. It feels like it does a lot of the things Blindsquare does, but in a way that’s very instantaneous and close by, as if you’re just scanning your immediate area with your eyes. I definitely want to try it out when it becomes available and see how I feel.