Hobbits and Wizards and Elves, Oh My! (guest post by my Hobbit)

When my Hobbit asked what I wanted for my birthday (which was Monday) — #itsmybirthdayandillblogifIwantto, I asked him for a guest blog post.  So here it is:

Hobbits and Wizards and Elves, Oh My!

[POSSIBLE SPOILERS!]

Our home is into hobbits and wizards and elves (and almost everything fantastical) so naturally there was much excitement and anticipation over Peter Jackson’s latest Hobbit installment: The Desolation of Smaug.

Noelle said that she rather liked the dwarf/elf romance in Desolation of Smaug, and I admit that even though it is totally outside of Tolkien canon, it makes for some interesting Peter Jackson fanfiction.

The “interracial romance” suits me because at some point in our marriage I decided that Noelle was a Fae Queen and she decided that I was her Hobbit. Don’t ask… But, in case you were wondering, a hobbit/fae romance can work out quite well, thank you very much.

The Queen of the Fae has magical powers that I don’t have. For example, when I spill a bag of ice, she can see into the murky nether regions called “the floor” and find those stray ice cubes that I can’t see. She can also hear speech and music which are quite beyond the range of my hobbit senses, and she can interpret them in the High Tongue of Calinor: American Sign Language.

The Queen particularly enjoys interpeting Christmas music in the High Tongue.

So, in a way, she does have semi-magical powers that I don’t have. But I fancy that I bring the sturdiness, steadfastness, and plain hobbit-sense to our household which would otherwise be lacking. That’s what she tells me, anyway. The Fae Queen often calls me “her rock” just because I am so reliably me.

So let’s hear it for noncanonical dwarf/elf romances, and even crossover hobbit/fae romances. As you might have noticed, we take our fantasy roleplaying seriously here in the Realm of Calinor!

+Sam

Rough Stone Rolling

The prophet Joseph Smith said that he felt worn and shaped like a rough stone rolling, with all the rough edges knocked off of him.  I feel like that a lot – like a rock in a tumbler, with no control over who/what I hit in the process or where I will rebound.  How strange and funny that we feel worn smooth or thin (like butter spread over too much bread), when the world sees us as harder and more solid.  Though we feel worn smooth, we also feel less like the child full of wonder who actually found smooth stones quite remarkable…

Conversations With The Hobbit: Part 1

My Hobbit: i just wonder if there’s more ‘science’ than we think in scripture
Me: well, I’m pretty sure that scriptures/prophets weren’t all that concerned with science. That’s like asking an astronomer what he thinks about rotating crops: you know? It’s really not fair to expect them to be an expert in both fields, especially when that option really wasn’t available to them. They knew about sheep. They could tell you how to breed a good ewe. That’s about all the science they knew, but for their time, that was pretty damned important and yet, people always expect prophets to know more about science than scientists know about faith (or sheep).

Hobbit Fables #1

My husband and I were talking about the kids and their incessant whining this morning–mom is so evil! She makes me do dishes!–when the Hobbit came up with this lovely Fable that reflects our lives:

 

A dad had kids who refused to eat end pieces of bread. So he told his kids: “Hey, kids, the end pieces are like rolls. You like rolls, so you shouldn’t have a problem with the end pieces of bread.” So the kids quit eating rolls.

 

The Valley Of The Sham – Guest Poem by My Hobbit

The Valley Of The Sham

I saw The Great and Secret Show
Lost in the Valley of the Damned
Got past the shame and saw the Sham
I loved the Demons, I loved the Whores
The Light of God shone through the Doors
Caught in a rabbit Trap I never made
My Soul transmuted beneath the shade
The Fire burns, it burns so well
I never knew your Heaven was my Hell.
+S

Three Cheers for the Kindle Fire HD!

The Kindle Fire Experiment

Last Saturday I was bemoaning the fact that I can’t really listen to radio. I mean, I can listen to it, but I can’t really follow the conversation. My word comprehension with lip reading is perhaps 60% with the CI but it drops to around 40% without lipreading. So when you can only hear 4 out of 10 words, listening to the radio is like an aggravating game of Wheel of Fortune.

Noelle suggested that I try plugging in my CI to her Kindle Fire HD. I sighed mentally (and perhaps audibly) because I had already tried connecting a double-sided headphone jack from the CI to my computer, and the sound quality had been terrible. I assumed it would be more of the same. But, on the other hand, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try connecting the CI to the Kindle, and I reasoned that I might be pleasantly surprised.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. VERY pleasantly surprised.

First, Noelle had me read and listen to an ebook/audiobook combination via something called WhisperSync. This program syncs the exact text to the exact words on an audiobook read by a human. In other words it wasn’t text-to-speech software, but text-to-audiobook sync. She was able to magnify the text on the Kindle Fire HD so that I was reading four lines per page at the “wide” angle (landscape mode), in reverse video (white text on a back background). The cursor jumped from word to word in sync with the accompanying audiobook.

It was fantastic. I then decided to close my eyes to see if I could understand the audio without cheating, and to my surprise I could understand it very clearly. I’d estimate I understood maybe 75-80% of the text just from the audio alone. I hadn’t experienced anything this good with my CI since I had it turned on in 2003.

I had tried connecting my CI to other devices, but apparently none of them were very good audio quality. The Kindle Fire HD, on the other hand, worked extremely well.

I even tried listening to an ambient music station on Pandora. At some point after I got the CI in 2002 I decided that I liked ambient and synthesizer music (Vangelis, Brian Eno, Kitaro, Tangerine Dream, Peter Gabriel, etc.)

That’s probably because the CI already has a certain degree of synthesized sound, so ambient and synthesizer more naturally (or unnaturally) fits with the synthesized sound of the CI. I often joke that I listen to Borg music (a la ST:NG).

I could tell that I needed to get my mappings upgraded to be able to appreciate the music, but I am certain that once I do get a new mapping that the music clarity will improve substantially. It is quite good as it is.

So Saturday’s experiment was a fantastic success. And now I actually want a Kindle Fire. Everybody else in our house loves it, but I didn’t particularly care about it because I didn’t think it would be all that accessible. But it turned out to be a big accessibility WIN.

So it turns out that I can listen to radio after all, if you count Pandora (and I do). And in case you were wondering, the ebook/audiobook I experimented with via WhisperSync is called “Tolkien’s Ordinary Virtues” by Mark Eddy Smith. As you might have guessed, Tolkien has a rather large influence in the Realm of Calinor.

+Sam (aka The Hobbit)

An Hour In The Life Of A Deaf Blind Man (guest post by the Hobbit)

An Hour In The Life Of A Deafblind Man

I wanted to do something sweet for my wife and stepkids, so I decided that I would get my wife a dozen yellow roses, and a couple of packs of candy valentine hearts for the kids.

I walk to the store, and on the way I realize that I don’t have a notepad and a magic marker with me, but I hope that it won’t be a problem.

I went to the bank near the store to withdraw money from the ATM. Unfortunately it is midday, and the sun is shining too brightly on the outdoor ATM for me to be able to use it.

So I go into the grocery store to see if they have an ATM. I ask one of the cashiers where the ATM machine is. He points me in the direction of the bathrooms, so I go over there only to discover there is no ATM. I go back to the cashier and pull out my ATM card and slide it back and forth. He points in a different direction, and I find the ATMs.

I can’t read the fonts on the grocery store ATM very well, so I sort of stab at the buttons until I can see ‘checking’ and enter the amount I want ($20). The machine shows another screen, probably asking me if I want to pay the transfer fee (which I wouldn’t have had to pay if I could see the bank’s ATM machine). I figure it’s 50/50 so I push one. The machine doesn’t give me a $20 and flashes a message that I can’t see.

I sigh with exasperation.

I go to look for the flowers anyway, figuring that I can use the ATMs at the cash register, which is kind of a pain because I can never read the LCD readouts that ask me if I want to use credit/debit do-you-want-cash-back, please-enter-your-pin, and the order isn’t always the same from store to store and I haven’t tried it here yet.

I find a dozen yellow roses and ask the cashier how much they are. She scans it, but I am unable to see what the price showing on the monitor is, so I ask her to tell me. She tells me, but I can’t hear her, so I tell her that I am both visually and hearing impaired, so can she write it down? She does, but it’s in pen, so I still can’t see it. At this point I feel like a terrible nuisance.

I am not completely sure exactly what my balance in my checking is, so I go *back* to the bank, only this time instead of using the bank’s ATM (because the sunlight is still glaring on it too much to see) I go inside the bank and wait in line. Once I get a bank teller, I ask her if she will tell me what my balance is, and I tell her that since I can’t hear, would she please write it down for me.

She writes it down in pen, but it is too small, so I apologetically ask her to write it larger so I can see. She writes it out, and I see that I actually did have enough in my checking account to be able to use the bank’s ATM as well as the grocery store’s ATM. I get enough money to buy flowers, and I head back to the store.

After I get the flowers, I remembered that I wanted to get the candy hearts for the kids. So I ask the cashier which aisle the candy hearts are on. She calls to someone else, who tells her, then she tells me, but I can’t hear her. So I ask her if she will show me with her fingers what aisle they are on, and she holds up a 1 on one hand, and a 3 on the other hand. I figure it’s aisle 13 (rather than 31) so I say “13, right?” She nods, and I thank her.

I go to look for the candy hearts, squinting hard at the aisle numbers, and after a few minutes of squinting at candy boxes, I find them. I can’t see the price for the candy hearts. Since I only have approximately $2 left, I grab two boxes hoping that I have enough money to cover it.

I go to another register to buy the candy hearts, but I wanted to be sure I had enough so I ask the lady if $2 will cover it. She says something, but doesn’t nod or shake her head, so I am unsure. She seems to be asking me for change, so I fish in my pocket for change and show her what I have, and ask her again “is that enough?” she hands me back a dollar and rings it up. Apparently I had given her too much, not too little, but I just couldn’t hear what she was saying.

Finally, I leave the store, flowers and candy in hand, and I decide I should probably call my wife to let her know why it is taking me so long. I can’t see the numbers on the phone very well, but I’ve dialed the number enough to be pretty sure that I am dialing the correct number. I wait until the screen changes so I can begin to talk, but I can’t hear whether my wife is on the phone or not. I speak into the phone telling her “I don’t know if you are getting this or not, but if you are I am on my way home now.”

Then I walk home, and give the flowers to my wife. I am grateful that I managed to bumble my way through it, and I can literally feel all of the tension from the pent-up deafblindie frustrations melt away as she hugs me.

— by Sam

Crash Into Me

Today my husband stepped on my foot and said he was sorry. I said “It’s okay, I’m used to it.” I have to be careful to pay attention to sounds of footfalls, so I don’t come around a corner and crash into my own husband. He literally can’t see me if I am standing beside him unless he is looking directly at me.

Dave Matthews has a song: Crash Into Me, that is a metaphoric love tale of how two souls collide when in love. When you’re married to a blind man (with RP), this metaphor becomes reality.

You’ve got your ball
You’ve got your chain
Tied to me tight tie me up again
Who’s got their claws
In you my friend
Into your heart I’ll beat again
Sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock
And sweet you roll
Lost for you I’m so lost for you

You come crash into me
And I come into you
I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream

Touch your lips just so I know
In your eyes, love, it glows so
I’m bare boned and crazy for you
When you come crash
Into me, baby
And I come into you
In a boys dream
In a boys dream

If I’ve gone overboard
Then I’m begging you
To forgive me
In my haste
When I’m holding you so girl
Close to me

Oh and you come crash
Into me, baby
And I come into you
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show your world to me
In a boys dream.. In a boys dream

Oh I watch you there
Through the window
And I stare at you
You wear nothing but you
Wear it so well
Tied up and twisted
The way I’d like to be
For you, for me, come crash
Into me

Who got you off when you got yours?
Who was the first to spill your soul?
Who got you off? Well, I’m the one
Dreamed of doing it day and night
Oh sweet like candy to my soul
Sweet you rock and sweet you roll
Oh I swear over and over
It’s you like a wave into me

When you come crash into me baby
Please come crash into me
Come crash into me
In a boy’s dream
In a boy’s dream

No miss you all (?) what runs your way?
Who runs up side you and begs everyday?
Who’s watching you through your window?
Night Comes
Who celebrates with the moon?
That you’re like a wave come again

Come and crash into me baby
And I come into you
In a boy’s dream
In a boy’s dream

Oh now it’s here I build my soul
I swear, friend, don’t you know
I’m bare boned and crazy for you

Oh when you come crash into me yeah
And you come into me
And you come into me

Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
Hike up your skirt a little more
And show the world to me
In a boy’s dream yeah
In this boy’s dream

(Dixie Chicken outro)
I’ll be your Dixie chicken
You be my Tennessee lamb
And we will walk together
Down in Dixie land

Crash into me
Crash into me
Crash into me
Crash into me

Oh I wanna play with you

Better Than A Reality Show

Whenever my dad comes to visit and see’s all the things we deal with on a normal, everyday basis, he will remark how our household would make a great reality show. It would be much better than Jersey Shore, I’m sure, and probably a lot more culturally edifying–at least Deaf Culturally edifying. You could probably learn a lot about how to handle broken glass and the many uses outside of Christmas for string lights. You would probably learn a lot more ASL than either my children, my brothers or my nephews. You might not need to use it as badly, but you’d be welcomed to visit.