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Wednesday, 2 April 2014

My Future Harvest

Every year I have a go at growing my own food. Not a lot of my body works any more but the one thing I can do is watch my plants grow. It's probably unlikely that I will have my own kids so my fruit and vegetables will have to do. Until that is I cook and the eat them. Most of the time I don't do very well. In fact last year I only managed to grow about 5 tomatoes and 4 pumpkins. In my eyes this was still an achievement. Maybe a disappointing one but an achievement nonetheless. Unfortunately, my chilies did not grow and to this day I still don't really know where my squash plants went. I'm sure I planted them but only pumpkins seemed to grow. I had also planted some chilies but they were a massive failure. I was really disappointed about that because I had bought a special "quadgrow" which promised to dramatically improve my harvest. Now, I don't want people to think I do not approve of this product because the plants did not actually die. My theory is that I did not set up the plant pots correctly and/or I might have put the plants out before the last frost. It's really difficult to judge whether where I live. All of a sudden you have a mini heatwave so you put your plants out only for it to snow again sometimes even in the beginning of April. This year, I still have not put my plants out. I plan to put them out in the middle of May. Even then I will do this in a small greenhouse. One for my chilies and one for my tomatoes. This will mean I will need to buy another "quadgrow" with 4 pots. I already have two "quadgrows"  with 3 pots which I will use again for my chilies this year. I will get a new one to grow my tomatoes in. Hopefully this year I will be able to grow something decent and not some tasteless failed chilies.

This year I had planned out a varied crop. This crop consists of sungold tomatoes, gardeners delight tomatoes, jalapeno chilies, Twilight numex chilies, cucumbers and pumpkins. I also have some asparagus growing but they take a while. When I say planned that is exactly what I mean. I knew how many seeds to plant in my propagator and how many of them to re pot and eventually put in my garden. I was also going to keep a few back to grow in my house. I was going to put three of each variety of chilli in my special pots in my cloche. For my tomatoes I was going to put two of each variety in my new "quadgrow" in a greenhouse which I am yet to purchase. Then, seeing as my cucumbers were not really my main priority I was just going to put them in some grow bags to see what happens. Last year my pumpkins were quite hardy and coped very well outside so I will use the same method as last year with them.. As I said everything was planned down to a tee, well until lots of people bought me more plants as presents. I appreciate the presents but it has made it more difficult for me to decide which plants will make it into my garden and which ones will stay in my kitchen window. More importantly which ones will not make the grade at all. I think I may have to do a garden X factor style tournament. My extra plants are some yellow tomatoes, chilli peppers that look like willies and some chilies from Nandos. What I might do is take away one chilli out of each "quadgrow" and put a Nandos chilli in one and a willy in another. I will also keep one of each in my kitchen window. Along with one of each chilli variety and tomato variety I already have. That just leaves my yellow tomatoes to sort out. These were a present from my grandparents so they will take a special priority. At the moment these tomatoes and outgrowing one of my varieties which looks like it is dying so they may have already got a slot to fill. This will make my life much easier. With planting all of these seeds I am hoping to have a good quality mixed harvest.

Hopefully, this should do the trick. I've got much more to talk about this month but I think I will spread it out over a few posts. Also nobody needs to tell me that I have left it too late to start growing my plants because I have already planted the seeds a while back.

Take care and until next time, Bert out.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Recent Shenanigans of February

As last month comes to a close I can reflect on how well I have kept up with my own plans. In my opinion I think I have done relatively well. College is going well and in my free time I have cracked playing a new game. These might sound like minor achievements but to me they are bit more than that. I have also bought some seeds for my garden but have not planted any of them as of yet.

Stuff at College


The College course I am on for bookkeeping is going quite well and the new tray I had made is really making an improvement. It is surprising how well you retain the information when you can actually do the tasks yourself. I always find for me repetition is the best way for me to learn something. The only problem with that is that as soon as I stop doing it I generally forget it unless I have been doing it for quite a while. It came as quite a surprise to me when the lecturer told me that there were only 13 more sessions until the exam. I don't think it is very likely I will get a job with this especially seeing as everybody else on the course already has a job and/or experience with office work or accountancy. However, if I do okay in the exam I might consider doing the accountancy course which would make me a member of AAT and then I would be an accounting technician.

Those other small college courses I was on about (Rasberry pi and basic electronic) didn't turn out as I planned. I was hoping for them to be a lot more theory than practical. As it turned out the electronic course was more wiring plugs than making small circuits which is what I wanted. Also, I don't really have a need to use a Rasberry pi and even if I did it would probably be more convenient for me to buy a book and do it myself.

Games


The new games I was trying out I am not playing any more. I've enjoyed eve but not enough to pay for a subscription, at least at the moment. Also KSP didn't really work out. After several failed attempts to get my little astronauts into orbit I gave up. I figured I was lucky that none of those little dudes perished and that I should not push it too far lest my blood pressure go through the ceiling.

My latest foray into new games was minecraft. I really loved Lego when I was little so the idea of a 3-D game I could play when I could essentially do the same thing really appealed to me. It was a little bit tricky at first especially seeing as I am a one handed Gamer and not really a very good one at that. It took quite a bit of trial and error with glovePIE but eventually I managed to make the game playable for me. I needed to use a combination of glovePIE and altcontroller scripts to do it. Now, whenever I press the right mouse button I can switch the function of the left mouse button. I can switch between attack, use and run. I then use my voice to jump and access the inventory. I cannot really go up against any monsters though

Well that's about it for now. I don't think this really counts as a brain dump as I did the last one quite far through the month. This was just a little review of what I have done so far. Hope you are all well, Bert out.

Friday, 14 February 2014

February 2014 Brain Dump

Well, the second month of 2014 is well underway. There seems to be a lot going on but then this is always the case for me. I start every year with loads of great ideas and plans for success. I charge at it with great drive and determination but then the further through the year I get the less drive and determination I have. So, for the time being I am going to use this blog as a way of doing a brain dump. So I am just going to talk about all my devious plans and schemes with the hope that it will help me achieve many more of them. Also, I am sure that there may be some people out there who may be able to impart some of their own wisdom.

My College Course


You may be aware from reading some of my previous posts that I have started a course at college for electronic bookkeeping with the intention of maybe one day getting a small job. That course is turning out quite well and for the most part I am enjoying it. I haven't really talked to many people that are doing the course as well. That is not really my strong point and it is something that I can definitely have to work on in the future. I think that the main problem there is my ability to project my voice but that's a topic for another post. At the moment I would not be able to pass the exam but then no one else can. What I am pretty confident in is setting up a business, changing nominal accounts and adding customers or suppliers. However, I am sure that in time I should have no problem.

Wheelchair Modification


One big issue concerning being at College was the fact that I could not actually use the computer. The way my wheelchair is set up does not allow me to drive up to any old desk. In fact the desk use at home is quite a mess but it does the trick. Anyway, this made all my work even more difficult as I had to instruct my carer in order to do the tasks set out. I've managed to get in touch with wheelchair physics at my local hospital and told them of my situation. Like the A team they dispatched an engineer who measure my wheelchair for a tray to hold my mouse. The guy went away and came back about a month later with a perfect tray. It is quite unusual for them to get it right first time. That is not because they are incompetent, not by a longshot. Normally what happens is they make the item and then modify it. This was perfect straightaway. I will be able to use this in college or anywhere I need to use a computer. This will massively increase my productivity, alongside speech recognition I will be invincible. At least in the office.

Custom-Made PlayStation Control


My plans for making my own PlayStation control at the moment temporarily on hold. I can get a little light to flash when I press a button but it is not reliable. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. My only conclusion at this moment is that the connection is not stable and that may be something to do with the fact that I have not yet soldered the pins to the circuit. I am looking into getting someone to do this for me and then I can begin experimenting with the programming.

New College Courses


I have absolutely no electronics experience nor do I have any experience of programming microcontrollers. I Program in Java, C C++, HTML, CSS and PHP no problem. No sooner than I started struggling making my PlayStation control I have found two new short courses at my local college. One is a basic electronics/electrical course and the other is Rasberry PI programming. For me seeing as I am unemployed they only cost £5 which is excellent especially if it turns out that I am physically unable to do the Electrical course. I should learn all about how circuits work at least enough for me to botch my way through. Who knows, if I am lucky I may find someone who could solder my little circuit.

I Found Some New Games


The three months of World of Warcraft I bought towards the end of last year ran out. I was okay until the boredom started to set in. I had nothing to do especially seeing as our country is rapidly sinking and going outside is not really an option at the moment. I was going out of my mind until I read about a massive space battle in another MMORPG called EVE Online. I was intrigued so I downloaded a two-week trial. Needless to say this game is like no other. It is huge and it is quite tricky. Every individual component of the game is simple but added together it gets very complex very fast. The tutorial is not very good for someone who is completely new but I found some really good YouTube videos which did the trick. I've never had to watch seven hours of videos to learn how to play a game before but it did the trick. My demo has run out but I think in not too distant future I will be paying for a subscription. At least a subscription long enough for me to decide whether or not I can play PVP.

Keeping on the space themed game I found another game where you manage your own space program. You build rockets and can go to the mun and even other planets. It's called kerbal space program. The only problem with it is that I have to use the on-screen keyboard which makes it exceptionally hard to control my rocket or at least get it into orbit. There is an auto pilot which I am going to download to do that for me but hopefully that will work and I can enjoy this game as well. I may be in a wheelchair but apparently I can be an astronaut as well.

Anyway, this post is starting to seem a bit excessive now so I think I will call it a day. Stay safe and stay tuned for a brain dump at a later date. Happy Valentine's Day, Bert out.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Happy New Year 2014

Well, another year has passed. Goodbye 2013 and hello 2014. I like to take this time to look back on my previous year and think about how we went and what improvements I can make. I look back on all my schemes and devious plans and wonder is there room for more deviousness? The answer is a resounding yes. The cooking was amusing and pixel art was cool but to be honest I've lost a bit of interest in that one. Towards the end of the year I started putting in time at college and also in programming again. Hopefully, with a view to taking it somewhere maybe a job or something like that. In fact I think my ambition for the year ahead is to get a job. That would be cool.

With a New Year comes new hope. Maybe they will come up with a new treatment for me or a decent way of controlling my wheelchair or computer. That would be nice. Anyway with this new hope I decided to do what many people do at this time of year and that is to join a dating website. I figure when I go out people cannot hear me and this way may be more successful at getting myself across. Unfortunately, this time around it is definitely not my first rodeo. I have been updating websites on and off, free and paid for for about the last six years with little to no success. Hopefully, this time my profile is just right and my picture of me in my tuxedo will do the trick.

I also like to look back at all the blogging I have done in the previous year. I did intend to do one post a week but that didn't really work out. Most of the time it's because I get distracted or something. Although I did do 13 posts which are close enough to monthly. Monthly is probably a more realistic target for me. This is a target that I will try and stick to even if it's only a review of my month.

Last year I also went on a cruise which was the first time I had been on a decent holiday in ages. This gave me a new lease of life and I have already booked a cruise with one of my friends for this year which gives me something to look forward to. This is always a good thing. This time we will be cruising around Spain.

Also last year I discovered something really cool which has allowed me to start programming again and go to college. It has also opened up a new world of possibilities for me to get back on track with what I was doing when I left university which was programming. Due to the advancement of my disability I lost the ability to use a keyboard and had to resort to doing my dissertation using the on-screen keyboard which was a painstaking task. The on-screen keyboard is just not designed for program and it took me ages. This hindered my progress and in my opinion reduced my overall grade by at least a point from a 2:1 to a 2:2 however, I can think of a few people that disagree and will tell you I was lazy. I digress. Anyway I have discovered how you can hack into Dragon Dictate and have all sorts of commands using Python. Now I have started relearning JavaScript, HTML/CSS and J query with a view to learning Python, C++ and possibly C# which even if I do just as a hobby I would be quite happy.

Also, I have just got my new power chair football wheelchair. It still needs to be adjusted to fit me but when that is done I will be able to take part with my local team which will definitely give me something to other than sit in front of my computer and play warcraft. Don't get me wrong I don't plan on quitting that just yet but it always helps to have more than one hobby.

So just to go over again with this New Year I will hopefully find a job, find someone on the Internet and dramatically improve my programming skills. Not to mention finish my new course at college which is computerised bookkeeping. Who knows one day I might be an accountant. Not bad for someone who hates maths if I do say so myself. I might even try and knock swearing on the head but to be honest I wouldn't hold your breath to long on that one.


Hope you also have a nice New Year and hopefully you can read more from me next month but with any luck I might squeeze in a new post before then.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

My Cruise in Review

Well I'm finally back. My holiday was not that long. I just happened to get a bit of a nasty chest infection when I got back and then I just could not be bothered to update my blog. Not to worry I am now fully functional and hopefully back with more posts. Also, I had to reformat my computer which was a bit irritating. Anyway, on with my post…

Given that I have not been able to go on a decent holiday for so long, I was really looking forward to going on this cruise. I was still quite a bit apprehensive because so much could go wrong. In my experience if something can go wrong it will most definitely go wrong for me. After just over a year of planning and preparation I went on my first ever cruise. Suffice to say, I hope it will not be my last. This was definitely one of the best holidays I have ever been on. Especially seeing as I am I probably in the end stages of my condition. I'm not getting pessimistic because for a lot of people this "end stage" can often last a decade or two. A lot of the time in my position you spend most of a holiday or trip worrying about accessibility, disabled toilets and that sort of thing that you forget you are on holiday. This really was not an issue this time around. For a start everything on the ship was fully accessible. There were one or two little problems but overall they were easy to cope with. I could enjoy all of the shows and other facilities with ease. That is not to say that I could not get off the ship. I have to say that most of the accessibility in various places we visited quite often put my own country to shame. We only booked one excursion. This was with a very nice taxidriver who took us all across Rome. Even to places the other "accessible" excursions did not go. Rome was fantastic but it also had some of the worst access for wheelchairs. As I understand it if we put a bit more planning into `that particular trip it would have been quite a bit better. Aside from a bit of difficulty finding ramps and some cobbled streets it was really good. Apart from them those cobbles the whole trip was awesome. Even when we went to places where we have not pre booked fully accessible coaches which were very cheap. One of the things I was quite worried about was getting onto and off the ship at the various different ports. Some of the ramps were quite a bit fruity but there were plenty of people to help me get on and off. Also, the fact that I have six wheels really helps.

We visited many different places. Enough to make up for my lack of trips over the past few years. We went to Spain, France and Italy. Every place we went to I got a fridge magnet so now my whole fridge is covered. I really hate cold weather and that was definitely not a problem here. I am definitely going to consider another cruise.

One of my other main concerns was seasickness. I wasn't sure if I would get it, if I would have to take medication and also what medication I would actually be able to take. As it turned out even though you were most certainly aware of the ship's motion it was not enough to make me feel any effects. Maybe that was because I don't have to worry about keeping myself upright but anyway I didn't get sick. I didn't see what all the fuss was about. My only real problem with the cruise was that the disabled toilets were only cubicles within the name toilets. This meant that in the cases where I have a female carer she would have to go into the male toilets or I would have to go into the female toilets. Apparently this sort of behaviour is frowned upon.

I would definitely give this trip 9/10. I went away for two weeks and that was only one problem that I took issue with. I would say that that is very good going, wouldn't you? After going on a cruise I have decided that for me it is the only way to travel. If you are in a wheelchair I think it is certainly something you really have to look into. Now, if only I could win the lottery I would be sorted.

Bert out.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Holiday

I really hate to travel. There is so much for me to take and so much that can go wrong. Getting on a plane for me now is impossible until the airlines do something. My travel options are really limited because of this. I used to go to the Calvert Trust for a week annually with a group of my friends but that doesn’t happen now. The only reason I went there is because they are totally kitted out for access so I have few worries. Also it’s about 50 miles away. Half of the stuff I need is already there so I don't need to take as much.

Equipment


I don't like going into the unknown, I'm not at all keen on surprises. When I'm at home I know my bed, hoist and bathroom are ok. I know if my ventilator or food pump breaks I can ring someone. If I need a medipack replacement it is a phone call away. The bottom line is that help is readily available. When I travel, if I leave the country I lose that. It's my safety net, it’s not like a child’s teddy, it’s not because I prefer it I most definitely need it. For me a long distance trip is like going to the moon, if you need something you had better make sure you take it. However, I need loads of stuff and I mean loads. Aside from my wheelchair there are 3 things I really need:

  • A Ventilator x 2
  • A Food Pump
  • A Special Mattress
  • A Hoist

If I don't have my vent I would not make the night. As this is the most critical thing I need, I must take a spare. My main source of nutrition is via my PEG although I could drink enough calories to survive. So with that in mind I can get away with no spare. The last thing is my mattress. I can't sleep on a normal one or risk pressure sores. I have a special airflow inflatable mattress. I could manage using a Lillo so I don't need a spare but it wouldn’t be pleasant. Even if I needed too, taking 2 is unfeasible. I also need a hoist as I cannot be lifted. In fact if the hoist or vents broke I would be buggered. There is actually one thing that isn’t vitally important that I find more comfortable and minimises the risk of injury all around, that’s a powered adjustable bed.

But wait, there’s more


In addition to the above I need to take components of that stuff. Let’s say a 2 week trip, I need:

  • 2 Vent masks
  • 2 Vent mask straps
  • 14 Bottles of feed + spares
  • 2 Peg tubes
  • 1 pressure release tube
  • 14 Giving sets + spares
  • 2 Hoist slings

As well as that I have a massive variety of creams for all purposes and 3 medipacks of tablets.

Apart from me and everybody else’s luggage that’s it. So if I want a guaranteed good holiday I need to bring all this stuff myself or go somewhere that already has most of the larger items there. This drastically lowers the amount of locations I can go.

Another option I have would be to rent out some of the equipment I need and have it delivered to the destination. The problem with this is that the more pieces of equipment I need and the more places I need to rent it from the more complicated it gets. I need to make sure that I can coordinate all the deliveries to happen smoothly. It would mean that I have to put my faith in other people which I really don't like to do unless I know them.

After all of that


This year for the first time in ages I am actually going on a proper holiday where I will visit other countries. As I said before I really do not like to travel. The main reason for that is I cannot get on an aeroplane. The obvious solution I found was the cruise. When one of my friends who are also disabled said they were going on a cruise, I figured if they can do it then there is no reason I cannot do it. So anyway I mentioned this to my parents who have been very desperate to go on a proper family holiday and they went and booked it before I could change my mind. We are all going on a Mediterranean cruise. I am getting a wheelchair accessible cabin and the whole family is coming. I have managed to get all of my important stuff except a ventilator and my hoist into one rather large but manageable suitcase which isn't too bad. I am going to have to bring my own hoist and manual wheelchair because these things were just too expensive for me to rent. I have however rented out an electric bed just in order to test the principle of renting out equipment.

The only thing at the moment I am really worried about is staying in the travel Lodge because they just have a normal bed and my mattress goes over the top of that. The hoist I have only just lifts me up and does not get my backside out of my wheelchair. I am worried it will be tricky to get on the bed. Then after that once I have my first night on the ship and everything works like it is supposed to. Then I will relax and be able to enjoy myself. Then the only other thing I am worried about is me hurting my back which is relatively easy for me to do. Once I have sorted out worrying about all my disability related stuff I can worry about the normal stuff such as getting up early for some of the excursions and seasickness.

All being well, I will have a wonderful holiday and see a lot of wonderful places before I get eaten by sharks.

Bert out.


Tuesday, 21 May 2013

“I wish my son had cancer” – My thoughts on this

So, I hear that there is another campaign being started up for Duchenne. “I wish my son had cancer”. I understand exactly what this guy means. With cancers there is the chance of a remission but with Duchenne there is none. Duchenne WILL kill you and they can only try and delay it. At the moment I am 26 and greatly benefiting from some of the effective treatments available. Nocturnal ventilation, Steroids, Heart Meds and Cough Assist Machines to name but a few. These things have greatly increased my life expectancy and quality. Also I am alert and aware. My life is tough, challenging and sometimes painful but I get through. It can always be worse and in my opinion people who have cancer are fighting equally if not more. I am almost paralysed from the top of my head but all of the treatments I use are pain free. I do not have to go through gruelling chemotherapy sessions which may or may not work. Whilst I don't agree with what this guy says I applaud him for his courage. At the end of the day all us guys can feel are things we can’t touch such as love, which this guy has plenty. Loads of kids die of cancer everyday so you need to think carefully before you actually wish that.

I want to offer the following words of support. When I was diagnosed there were to my knowledge no medicine based treatments at all. Average life expectancy was teens. I survived. When I was 16 I started nocturnal ventilation, heart meds and steroids. I survived. Ten years later I am still here and the average life expectancy has followed me. The average life expectancy is late 20’s in most cases and often much later. Imagine if I'd started these treatments earlier. These treatments are available for you now. I am sure when this guy’s son reaches his 20’s better treatments will emerge and life expectancy will increase.

All you can do is concentrate on life quality.

Peace out.