I hope the year so far as been going well for you. There are so many upsetting things going on in the world that when I am working on these newsy emails, I can shut them out for a while. I hope they give you a break as well.
First, What’s Been Going on With Me
The Search for a Replacement for the Y
Now with our nearby Y having closed, we found two local fitness facilities that will take the same free senior fitness facility access program that is included in my Medicare Advantage insurance plan. While membership is free to me, the facility receives a payment from the insurance company each time we swipe in.
The first place was one of those no-nonsense fitness places. Lots of machines for serious people and little else. The guy at the front desk gave us the 5-minute walk around. but after that he explained you’re basically on your own, since he runs the front desk and is the only person there. Besides the floor being dark and all the equipment being dark purple, I thought it was as well-lit as your average coal mine, to which my wife agreed. While it is closer and might work for her, it won’t work for me.
The second option is our relatively new Senior Center named 125 Live. I agree, a weird name. The 125 relates to its street address. I suppose the Live part means you can only use it if you are alive or at least mobile. Grin.
There, we got an almost hour-long tour. The fitness areas come with our plan, but the social stuff which seemed two thirds of the place, is extra. Having all the social activities that our lives currently can handle; we chose to pass on that part. The weekend after we signed up, we returned so I could begin to start getting oriented to the equipment layout and how to adjust each device. I found that first visit frustrating even though my wife did her best to help.
The next week, we got 30-minutes with a trainer which is offered to new members. After that and with my wife repeating his orientation, I felt less overwhelmed. It is going to take many visits before I feel confident navigating the facility and agree I’m getting a good workout. But I’m motivated, so give me time.
Progress on my Braille Journey
Braille is a tactile language read by fingertips gently touching tiny raised dots. It’s versatility and efficiency are very impressive. I’ve now got the feel of Identifying each letter and number. I’m now working on the flashcards containing words.
One curious reader not familiar with braille asked what is a braille cell like? Since I’m no braille expert, I’ll describe it as follows. The raised dots are the diameter of a quite small nail. They rise above the paper a little more than the thickness of my fingernail. Now here’s how to imagine the pattern and the “footprint” of the 6-dot cell
First, start with a typical egg carton holding a dozen eggs. Now cut it in half so it now holds a half dozen. When you stand the carton up vertically on the cut end you have 2 vertical columns of 3 eggs, I mean dots. That is the pattern of the braille cell. I hope you removed the eggs first.
The width of the two columns of dots is about the width of the narrow side of a small paper clip. In other words, my forefinger is wider than a single cell. I hope that helps to draw you a picture. Next month class, we’ll talk about writing braille.
A Night Without Snickers
No, I’m not talking about the candy bar. I’m talking about a cat. Not just any cat, but one belonging to one of our grandsons. He was so named because to the then 3rd grader the cat’s coloring matched the candy bar’s wrapper which was something he knew well. Here’s why I thought I’d share this particular episode I had with the furry little guy; the cat not the grandson.
He lives with daughter and family who happily live less than 4-blocks away. So far over Snicker’s 6-years of life, we have cared for him in our house many times while his family was away. Each time, he was driven over in his cat carrier along with all the stuff needed for his care and feeding. Yet, throughout the years he’s figured out his way between our two houses, occasionally showing up for reasons known only to him.
He is a medium- sized male with a thick coat and a long tail. He can be very loud and lets you know when he wants in or out. He is permitted outside and often known to be gone all night and occasionally for a day or more. I know this behavior can be controversial and I make no comment on it here.
Earlier this month, we received a 6-day cat- sitting request. But this time, with the coincidence of my wife needing to be away during the same time, I had sole responsibility. Usually, not much of a problem as he sleeps most of the day and wants out around dinner time. Once out, he might return before I go to bed or show up the next morning.
I live in Minnesota and during that particular visit, day time temperatures were in the single digits below zero and got 10 degrees colder at night. I don’t mention the windchill because windchill is about exposed skin which seems lacking on a cat.
Before his family left town, they confirmed it would be okay if he wanted out into the snow, wind and cold. Those first couple of days, around dinnertime, when his loud command to open the door began, I dutifully responded to make it so. Before I’d head up to bed, I’d hear him yowl and let him in, which I was relieved to do. He sought and received head scratching and a few cat treats. Soon, he wandered off and we set off for our separate beds for the night.
But one particularly brutal night at around bedtime, he wasn’t at the side door seeking entry. I waited up till midnight and finally went to bed. I had trouble sleeping and at 4 AM went downstairs to check. Hearing nothing, I paused before heading back upstairs. An unhappy thought crossed my mind. I pulled opened the main door and slightly parted open the storm door and called his name. I was instantly hit by an icy blast, but heard only the whistling wind. Fearing the worst, I swept my foot around just outside hoping to not bump into anything.
Encountering nothing, I drew in my cold leg. As I pushed the door closed, I tried to convince myself that he’d be okay and I could do nothing more. With a heavy sigh, I called it a night.
Around 8 the next morning I was fixing breakfast and wondering what I’d tell my grandson when I heard a familiar yowl. I hurried to the door. The little stinker ambled in behaving as if nothing unusual had just happened. I crouched down and fussed over him. While his fur felt cool, he made no signs of discomfort. As he softly purred, we played his favorite game, “scratch my head” as he rubbed his way back and forth against my leg for what seemed a longer than usual time.
Eventually, he had enough and headed straight to his food. Once nearly crunching through his entire food bowl and making countless water lapping sounds, he vanished for the rest of the day. Last night must have been a bit much, because he showed no interest in going out again the next night. If only he could talk. Wouldn’t you love to hear his story?
And Now for Some Business News
The 2023 Calendar
I received a final proof version early in the month. While all the hard work was done by my graphics guy with oversight by the ladies at Prevent Products Inc (PPI), I remain highly motivated that everything in it be correct. I always check the dates indicating the start of holidays. Most holidays begin at sunrise but some lunar- based holidays start at sunset. I double check to be sure such holidays in my calendar appear on the correct day with the note “at sunset”.
You may notice a couple of small changes in the 2023 edition. The thin black page edge has been slightly widened due to popular request. Then because it will help me and maybe you, I’ve made the following changes on the weekly pages. The headings and the day and date have a bolder font and their font size was increased from 60pt to 65pt. I hope you find all of these changes helpful.
The Address Book and More
I provided the Prevent Product ladies with printouts of all the type of pages including the covers. I then prepared a document with all the discussion topics for moving forward along with all the production questions I could think of. Soon I will meet with the ladies of PPI to finalize the decisions needed before sending off our questions and requests to the printer. After that, we wait for answers.
The Mystery Product
I hate to continue to be coy; but I’m still at the fact-gathering stage. Meaning, it is too early to name the product idea. So, to avoid getting egg on my face if it won’t work, I can’t spill the beans yet. Hmm, eggs and beans sound good.
I have received a first set of samples from the company I may contract with to manufacture this product. I’m wading through what they can do versus what I will want. Many emailed questions and answers have been flying back and forth.
As with my two current offerings, there is a high bar to reach if I were to cause this product to be made and sell it. They must be noticeably superior to anything else in their category and something that I’d buy. If those conditions can’t be met, I will move on. That means you’ll need to tune in again next month for another spine-tingling episode of, what the heck is he talking about. Grin.
That’s enough for now. My best wishes to you and thank you for your interest and support,
Check out the elderly fall, slip and skin protection products
made by my licensee, Prevent Products Inc.
Wikipedia is one of many ways to learn more about braille.
Edward is a low vision senior living in southeast Minnesota. He is the founding owner of EZ2See® Products LLC. Visit his website if you or someone you care about is looking for innovative products for those living with
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