Welcome to my home page. I became blind at birth. I started programming computers at a young age. I also earned my general class amateur radio license, KA3TTT, a hobby to which I have returned with great joy. I practice Qigong, and consider it the most important thing in my life. I cook gluten-free vegan meals. I use Linux as my desktop and Android as my mobile OS. For the rest you'll have to read my blog.
When I began practicing Qigong last April I had severe eye pain. Moving my eyes took effort, but Qigong immediately began to help.
A number of weeks into my practice, my Qigong teacher told me that one of her students named Helen Rice specialized in something called Neuroplastic Pain Reduction. I emailed Helen and she replied, but I felt in so much pain that I couldn’t deal with it. Two weeks past and she followed up. Her empathy and understanding of my condition impressed me, so I scheduled a free consultation.
After five sessions I had the tools to approach my pain in a whole new way. The brain responds to emotional stress in the same way as it does to physical stress, and an emotional pattern has a physical trigger in the body. I will give an example I don’t mind sharing. When going to school I had to carry several bags of heavy technology. In time this caused shoulder pain. I literally had too much on my shoulders. Now as an adult, if I take on too much responsibility I will still get the pain in my shoulders, but without carrying the bags. Carrying the heavy bags as a kid created the neural pathway which activates as an adult when under that particular type of stress.
This process caused me to go back through all of my emotional patterns, back to my first memories and even before birth. At times it felt like such a hard path, but ultimately it has led to a greater level of self awareness. I understand why I made the mistakes that caused everything to come crashing down two Thanksgivings ago, causing me to have so much eye pain that I had to stop working. That will never happen again.
If you can find someone in your area who does neuroplastic pain reduction then I recommend at least trying a consultation. If you decide to go for the process know that it will take all of your strength, but you will ultimately know victory if you stick with it. It compliments other modalities wonderfully. Between this and Qigong I feel like a whole new person!
Two ham radio events happened to me over New Year’s Day. I set a new record for distance, and I won a certificate in a contest without trying.
While listening for the foxes in the QRP Fox Hunt, I heard K5N, a CWOPS 10th anniversary special event station in Texas. I figured why not try to knock out a quick contact, and when the station returned from a break I succeeded. I had to repeat my call a few times, but we exchanged signal reports and logged the contact. QRZ shows the station as 1047 miles away. Not bad for 5 watts into an Alpha Loop sitting on my window sill!
I checked into the HARC weekly net, and Saul, W3WHK, congratulated me for winning a certificate in the Pennsylvania QSO Party for QRP operation in Philadelphia county. I only made one contact, but the power multiplier gave me a grand total of eight points. I wanted to go through the motions of entering a contest - making and logging a QSO, and uploading the log for submission, and I ended up getting a certificate. I’ve heard hams say to submit your log even if you make one or two contacts, because you may still win an award, and this happened to me. It made my night!
I have some good news for blind hams. I wanted to find an accessible logging program. I settled on YFKlog because it has a text interface. I noticed an easy change to make it more screen reader-friendly and emailed the programmer. He quickly completed a fix and released v0.6.0. Now the blind have logging software with minimal system requirements and good accessibility. To my delight, Handiham published my announcement in this week’s issue of Handiham World.
73, Austin, KA3TTT
In 2010 I appeared in a documentary about interactive fiction called Get Lamp. You may also know interactive fiction as text adventure games. I loved playing them as a kid on my Apple II/e, later the II/GS, and on my Keynote PC+ running a crappy version of MSDOS 2.1.1 burned into the ROM. Infocom made many of the well known games. Authoring tools allowed anyone to create these games, and thanks to these tools the art form continues to this day.
At some point - I don’t even remember when - I received an invitation to join the accessibility testing committee of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation. The blind have always enjoyed text adventures, but they have become less accessible as the technology has changed. This committee wanted to help by writing a report to the interactive fiction community. I agreed, and the quest began.
Meetings happened off and on for some time. In 2016 they got Jason McIntosh to manage things. He wrote a blog post of his own. We began having biweekly meetings. Authors wrote two games for testing. Earlier this year we recruited testers. We did not get as many screen reader users as we had hoped, so a few of us put out the call and luckily some of you answered. Finally we bring you the finished report!
This report will permanently live at this address, so make sure to bookmark accessibility.iftechfoundation.org and share it to all relevant communities.
A lot of time has passed since I have last written. My healing journey has continued with a lot of success. I wanted to share a fascinating revelation I had while floating in a sensory deprivation tank.
A few years ago i received echolocation training. This enables a blind person to see by making a tongue click. I use it all the time. It really does work.
To make a proper click, you need to keep the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth while snapping the middle part of the tongue. Explaining it makes it seem even weirder. I finally understood it by imagining the sound one might make to call a dog, but sharper. This pronounced sharpness gives the click as high a frequency as possible, which gives the highest resolution.
Learning to make a consistently high quality tongue click requires several weeks of practice. The muscles in the tongue take time to build. While developing this skill, my trainer recommended making an “Shshshshshshsh” sound. This produces a fuzzier image than a sharp tongue click, but it works, and requires no training. You could start using it right now.
I have gotten deeply into traditional Chinese medicine to heal myself from chronic pain. I use all four branches, especially Qigong. I practice for at least two hours every day. I find it extremely helpful.
In traditional Chinese medicine, each of the body’s five organs have energy meridians which branch out to the sensory organs of the body. The liver connects to the eyes. The five organs each store a different type of emotion. The liver stores the emotion of kindness if healthy, or anger if unhealthy. I wonder if this explains the seemingly large amount of angry blind people. If someone has anger towards their eyes then this would create a negative feedback loop.
Many Taoist traditions have an exercise called the Six Healing Sounds. Each of the five organs has a sound to cleanse it of its type of negative emotion, and the sixth sound clears the body of excess heat through the triple heater. The liver has the healing sound of “Shshshshshshsh.”
How interesting that the Healing Sound for the liver, which connects to the eyes, can help the blind to see. It also soothes a headache, my other major symptom. I love Qigong! By the way, Spiritual Tao sells an excellent version of the Six Healing Sounds. My Qigong instructor Iris also taught me a standing form. Find a version and give it a try.