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Friday, July 31, 2009

Flowers for Friday: In My Friend's Garden

Pretty in pink: petunias and daisies (?).

Rose: my friend's specialty

Hibiscus - wouldn't you like to tuck that behind your ear?


Side view of lily

I needed inspiration for this week's post, so I asked my Green Thumb Friend if I could visit her garden and take photos. She graciously agreed.

Sara Chapman will be pleased to know I used my new camera for all these pictures. In case you're wondering, it's a Sony Cybershot. I especially liked this model because it had a 5x zoom and it can take short videos in HD.

Doesn't my Green Thumb Friend have a lovely garden? I'll post more photos soon. I have to learn how to resize them. Forgive me if they took a while to load this time.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A Clinic for the Late Deafened

This weekend I've been reading Maeve Binchy's new book Heart and Soul about a clinic in Dublin set up to help those with cardiac failure. Immediately I started dreaming about a similar setup for people newly diagnosed with hearing loss.

Here are some quotes from the book that I've altered by inserting hearing loss where the author was speaking of cardiac failure:
"What it [the community] needs is a good positive system set up, something that will go on helping people to make the most of their lives after the initial setback of hearing loss."
"Why do you call it hearing loss?" "Because that's what their ears are doing: failing to work at the optimum levels."
From my own experience I know that being diagnosed with a permanent hearing loss is a blow to one's psyche, even if there was a suspicion that something might be wrong. Understanding one's hearing loss and explaining it to friends and family is also difficult. It's not as though one has lost the ability to hear completely! But realizing one doesn't hear at an "optimum level" as Binchy put it does have an impact on one's life. It takes a while to sort out the ramifications.

In Binchy's novel, the patients who come to the clinic are helped tremendously through the reassurance of the staff that their medical condition can be managed and they can live full lives. Certainly there were changes to be made and life did not go on as before but life wasn't over either.

Here's a few more quotes that I have changed slightly to illustrate the point:
"She had seen trust and hope among patients who felt that they were learning to manage their hearing loss."
"We have found that those who come from a positive background, from a home where people really believe they will adjust, do adjust."
The staff of Binchy's clinic help their patients through educational programs and regular checkups to monitor their progress. Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were a place like that

  • where one could be shown many different types of hearing aids and that frequent adjustments to the aids one selects would simply be part of the process of becoming accustomed to wearing them.

  • where one could go for assistance with learning to lipread, learning what accomodations are available and the best way to ask for them, and learning some basic signs and finger spelling.

  • where one could meet others who had already been through the adjustment process and be reassured by them that a diagnosis of hearing loss isn't a prison sentence to a life of lonely gloom.

Have any of you ever experienced such a place? I met some audiologists once from a big city hospital that seemed to offer wonderful services to their patients. I vaguely remember they even had a room where you could have your hearing aids adjusted to hear music better. It sounded fantastic but also out of my reach as I didn't live in that city. Sigh.

My local audiologist offers just a basic diagnosis and fitting service. After receiving my new aids, it was pretty much up to me to cope with the adjustment process on my own. It seems as if there could be a better way. If it can be done for heart patients, why not for those with hearing loss? Am I only dreaming?

One of my readers provided two examples of organizations offering these services in the comments section. Thanks, Mog! The first is an organization in the UK called Hearing Concern. The second is an organization in Canada called Canadian Hearing Society.

Has anyone had any experience with these two organizations? Do you know of any more examples?

Further Updates
Here's an example from Ms. Toast Burner: Island Deaf & Hard of Hearing Centre (Vancouver Island) and from Jacki: Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (Saskatchewan). Jonathon mentioned the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association as a good resource.

Canada seems to be ahead of the United States in this area. Has anyone found a helpful clinic in the US?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Flowers for Friday

It's been a busy week and to be honest our garden is looking a bit neglected right now. So this Friday I only have two flower photos for you. The first one is a macro shot of a hosta bloom. The second one shows the single oriental lily that blossomed in the middle of a mass of daylilies. Both photos were taken with my cell phone camera. Have a great weekend, everyone. I hope to spend lots of time in my garden.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Say What?

This past weekend my family participated in a youth golf tournament. During one of the group meals, I struggled to keep up with the conversation. Deciding to take matters into my own hands, I introduced the topic of a vacation to Scotland my husband and I had taken five years ago. This tactic didn't turn out so well for me when a parent sitting across from me commented, "Did you know Paris Hilton is in Scotland?" That puzzled me as I was pretty sure this woman wasn't a fan of celebrities. I turned to my husband and repeated what I had heard. He couldn't hold back his laughter, when he replied, "No, she said 'Did you know the British Open is in Scotland?'" Oops.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Flowers for Friday: Hydrangea & Lilies

Hydrangea closeup

More hydrangea

Yes, Jelly! They finally bloomed.

Oriental lilies reaching out to say hello!

Oriental lilies closeup.
Do you like their spots? They
remind me of freckles.

Lilies picked from the yard
for a cheerful bouquet.

Lily closeup for Marnie

Thursday, July 16, 2009


I never got to the conference for my final day. A headache I'd been battling for a couple days developed into a full blown migraine. In defeat, I reached for the migraine medicine and slept.

Later that afternoon, I fell while outside in the backyard with my dog. Unfortunately, I landed on the bricks that form our garden beds and slammed my tailbone hard. Since then I've been bruised and sore. Rest, my heating pad, and Tylenol have helped tremendously in managing the pain. My medical book tells me to expect to be sore for quite awhile.

Through it all, my darling dog has stuck close to my side. Isn't he a sweetie?

Monday, July 13, 2009

ALA: Day Four

Interesting display at McCormick Place

Day Four began with an early morning program on electronic resource management systems. Which lasted for two hours. That really felt like work.

Next I went on to a fun workshop on the topic "Tech Support is Reference Work" about the importance of answering technology questions at the information desk. As usual I had taken a seat near the front so I had to chuckle when one of the speakers proclaimed herself the "loudest librarian in Michigan" and her partner chimed in "or the world". I definitely had no problem hearing her. In my book a loud librarian makes an excellent conference speaker. The two speakers were coworkers and they had a great rapport. They actually had to encourage the audience to leave at the end of their session by saying "Really, we're not that fascinating. Go to lunch already."

Me and Library School Friend

I met a very good friend of mine since library school days for lunch. We scrimped and only paid $5 for a slice of pizza and $2 for pop. This "going to lunch" lifestyle gets expensive. I sure hope our expenses will be reimbursed. In the photo above, we visited the exhibits area briefly before our next workshop.

My final meeting of the day was a panel discussion on Library 2.0 [a buzzword to make librarians seem cool]. One of the speakers was someone I had heard when I went to the Computers in Libraries conference last year. What was most interesting to me was that the speakers commented on how they knew each other through their online activities, particularly their blogs. I know I feel blessed to have "met" many people through this blog.

Look, Ma, I made it to ALA!

Tomorrow's my last day at the ALA conference.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

ALA: Day Three

Travelling to ALA today was more of an adventure because I had to switch trains to get there. I had never made this switch before, so to be certain I didn't miss my stop, I crossed off each stop the train made in my schedule booklet. This worked wonderfully and I didn't have to ask for anyone's assistance. Actually, this is a tactic I've used before when travelling somewhere new on Metra and it occurred to me today that maybe that's just a way I've been coping with my hearing loss for years without realizing it.

At the switching station platform, I saw a group of ladies who had that librarian look about them. I edged closer. They were talking about the conference so I just barged into their conversation with a "Did I hear someone say ALA?" They welcomed me into their group and I got that safety in numbers feeling.

I felt particularly drawn to one of the ladies who also seemed to be a stranger to the others. I sat by her on the train and we started talking. This was rather tricky for the two of us as she had speech difficulties and with my hearing loss I had a tough time understanding her. All the same, we wanted to chat. We managed successfully by having her write to me on a notepad and then have me speak back to her. All too soon, we were at our stop.

Once inside McCormick Place, I broke away from the group as they were all going to the exhibits area and I was going to a meeting straightaway. My first program was held in a small room but I got there early enough to grab a seat in the front row. The room started filling up with people and someone behind me set a piece of paper on the chair next to me. I turned around to inquire about it and found out it was being saved for a friend of the ladies behind me. More people continued to come in and people started sitting on the floor now.

One of the conference assistants was concerned about the empty seat next to me. The ladies told her their friend was on her way from the "bus room". The assistant seemed annoyed. "Bus room? What are you talking about?" The ladies continued to repeat the phrase and a light dawned in my head. I butted in to the conversation and said, "Bathroom. She's coming from the bathroom." The ladies behind me were grateful for my intervention. I guess I knew what they were saying from all my practice at taking the nonsense I hear and turning it into something that actually makes sense. They told me they were a group from Egypt and needed to stick together.

The program was all about simple stretches one can do to relieve the strain that working on a computer causes your body. I found it very useful and look forward to adding them to my daily work routine.

My second program of the day was on metadata. This one was held in a very large room and again I scored a seat in the front row by the speaker. Once seated, I noticed a woman in a chair facing the audience off to the opposite side of the room. Watching further, I noticed she was using her hands to communicate. Could she be an ASL interpreter? I went over to ask and yes she was and yes I was welcome to come and sit in that section. I moved immediately. I signed my name and nice to meet you to the Deaf librarian sitting on my left and she signed her name to me. As fate would have it, the person to my right was the woman with the very soft voice I had sat next to on Thursday and Friday. I asked her if she knew ASL and she said she didn't. I turned on my Pocket Talker but kept my attention on the interpreter.

An interesting moment in the program came when the speaker used the word "shibboleth". I knew what that was but the librarian on my left and the interpreters didn't. I quickly wrote the word down and what it means on my notepad, showed it to my neighbor, and she communicated it by fingerspelling and sign to the interpreters. They were still a bit puzzled so I wrote "Bible word" on my pad and watched as that was signed realizing I probably could have managed to sign that phrase myself.

At the end of the program, I wrote out the Shibboleth story on my notepad and shared it. In case you're unfamiliar with this tech term and/or its Old Testament basis, here it is. Shibboleth nowadays refers to a computer system's way of authenticating that someone is an authorized user. The Bible story goes like this. "Shibboleth" was such a difficult word to pronounce in its native language that guards used it to see if someone was one of them or an enemy. Right after "Who goes there?" came the "Say Shibboleth" test. You can read the story for yourself in Judges 12 or find out more here (scroll down past the first definition). The ladies were impressed that I knew that so I signed to them "Sunday school" which brought big smiles. [See Mom and Dad, I did pay attention!]

Then it was time for lunch break. I met up with two of my coworkers and we joined the throng in the food court. We had to pay $11.75 for a hamburger with french fries and cole slaw. Pricey!

My last workshop of the day was on books and blogs. Two things I love, naturally. This was a panel discussion and I chose a seat in the back as I had to leave before the end to catch my homebound train. [The next one left an hour and a half later.] I got out my trusty Pocket Talker and the librarian next to me asked if I was recording it. "No," I replied, "this helps me hear the speaker better." Strangely she asked, "Is it worth it?" "Yes," I replied and left it at that.

For the train ride home, I travelled with my two coworkers. This time I had no need to cross off the stops as I was familiar with when my stop came. Arriving home, I greeted my family, relaxed a bit with them, and then took a blissful two hour nap.

Tomorrow I get a break. I will return to the conference on Monday. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, July 10, 2009

ALA: Day Two

Yesterday I referred to the numerous acronyms that were part of my training sessions. I thought I'd serve you up a small helping of our program's acronym soup. I'll be interested to know how many (if any) of these acronyms you've ever encountered.

RDA Resource Description Access
DC Dublin Core
METS Metadata Encoding Transmission Standards
MODS Metadata Object Description Schema
DLF Digital Library Federation (has a Star Trek ring to it, doesn't it)
NSDL National Science Digital Library
MADS Metadata Authority Description Schema
VRA Visual Resources Association
FRAD Functional Requirements for Authority Data
VIAF Virtual International Authority File
SKOS Simple Knowledge Organization System
ONIX Online Information Exchange

Hungry for more? How about this mouthful: OAI-PMH Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting? Generally the terms were defined once and then ever afterwards referred to by acronym. Heh, you want to fit in with the metadata crowd, don't name drop - acronym drop!

Today I had a more deaf friendly day. I had the same speakers as yesterday and today they consistently remembered to repeat participants' questions and comments. I am so impressed I am going to make a point of noting it on the evaluation form.

I had lunch with the new friend I made yesterday. We didn't discuss metadata once. Instead we swapped stories of our hearing loss experiences. We let each other know when the wait staff were hovering just behind us as neither of us could sense their presence when they were out of view. We talked about how we don't quite fit into the hearing world or the "capital D" Deaf world. We discussed ASL and we gradually began incorporating it into our conversation. It was great getting to know her better and I hope we will stay in touch after the conference ends.

CSDGM Content Standards

Flowers for Friday: Chicago Style

It's Friday and I've got flowers on my mind again. Here's a bed of begonias and ferns I passed on the streets of Chicago. Within my block and a half walk from the train station to the meeting location, I also passed several large concrete urns with lovely arrangements. A cafe with outdoor seating had flower planters on display as well. Ahhh. Summer in Chicago is so much nicer than winter!

Inside the hotel where today's program was held, I took this mirrored photo. I really liked the result.

For this picture I used my cell phone camera's sepia setting. What do you think? Which shot do you like better?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

ALA: Day One

Today was my first day at the conference. When I arrived at the training location, I noticed there were several available seats at the front of the room. Excellent. I also noticed a LOUD fan noise coming from the back righthand side. Eh, not so good. I decided to take the farthest left seat in the front row to minimize the sound of the fan. I rationalized to myself it's always nice to be at the end of a row anyways. No climbing over anyone to get to your seat. But not so convenient for lipreading, though.

Then I spotted an unattended red bag on a seat in the center of the front row and got to wondering if the speaker had saved me a seat as he promised. I asked him and was told that "No, he hadn't as he saw there were seats available." Hmm. I wonder what would have happened if I had run late.... Fortunately the lure of a free breakfast had gotten me there in plenty of time. I also arrived early enough to score a sinfully delicious blueberry muffin. So that part worked out just fine.

Our other speaker was a vivacious lady who decided to begin our program by having all forty of us introduce ourselves. She got her podium microphone down and carried it out to where we were sitting. Well, that worked fine for the front row, but her cord wouldn't stretch any further than that. Which meant I couldn't hear what the people sitting in the four rows behind me had to say. Oh well. At least they looked like nice people.

Before the program began, I had struck up a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. She was very interesting to talk with but she had a very soft voice. She seemed uncomfortable facing me to make conversation so I ended up doing the social bluffing act. I should have just told her my situation up front! I did get out my Pocket Talker which she didn't seem to particularly notice and that helped tremendously. Of course, I'd brought it for the presentation.

As I mentioned yesterday, I was told this program featured Power Point slides. To my surprise when we arrived, we were each given a 3" thick binder with all the Power Point slides. What a lifesaver! Usually I'm unable to take notes during a presentation as I need to give all my attention to listening, but with this notebook, I was able to make a few quick notes as needed. I noticed I was mainly writing out what the various acronyms meant so I had to smile when our male presenter referred to "acronym overload".

Our speakers had clear voices and I managed pretty well with my Pocket Talker although it picked up the fan noise too. I cringed when the first speaker mentioned she'd prefer to stand closer to us and talk without the microphone. Fortunately, she scrapped that idea and stood at the podium like a speaker's supposed to! (tee hee) After our lunch break, I asked the speakers if they would repeat the questions from the audience as I was unable to hear them. For the most part they remembered my request. Sigh.

The absolutely best part of the day came when I approached another attendee at our last break. I had noticed she was using an assistive listening device too. Hers had a part that the speakers clipped to their clothing. I wanted to know more! She was happy to tell me about it. With hers, she does not wear a hearing aid. Instead she uses an earbud attached to a receiver similar to mine. She commented it was too bad that my receiver didn't work off her transmitter the speakers wore. Then she added that the drawback with her system is that she can't sneak out early. She has to remain until the end to get her device back. I got a big laugh out of that.

She said she had never met anyone with a hearing loss at a meeting like this before. We exchanged business cards. She promised to send me information about her ALD. I told her about my blog and got her permission to share the story of our meeting. She got a kick out of my moniker, Speak Up Librarian.

It was great sharing my work related hearing loss experiences with someone who understood. Someone who faced me when she spoke. Someone who wouldn't mind repeating anything that I didn't quite catch. Someone who understood that listening is tiring.

I'm hoping we can talk more tomorrow as we work our way through Day Two of the 3" binder.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Getting Ready for ALA

Tomorrow I'll be attending my first American Library Association Conference. I'm pretty excited as I've been a librarian for a long time and never been selected to attend until now.

As regular readers of my blog know, I've gotten three other conferences under my belt in the last year and a half, so I should be able to navigate this event just fine. All the same I was pleased when an ALA conference ambassador contacted me by email. She provided a warm welcome and lots of helpful information.

I also received an email from the instructors of a 2 day training session I'm attending. As I didn't ask for any specific accomodations when I registered for the conference, I thought I'd ask them about the format of this training. Listening all day can be exhausting for me, especially when there's no visuals! Fortunately this event features Power Point slides which should help a lot. On top of that, when one of the instructors read in my email that I'm hard of hearing, he graciously offered to reserve a seat for me in the front. Perfect. From my previous conference experiences, I've learned that a seat in the front is the best accomodation for me.

Google Maps: Downtown Chicago

Today I reviewed the logistics of travelling to Chicago and finding my way to the conference locations. Thank goodness for Google Maps and online train schedules.

For my librarian readers: Are any of you going to be at ALA? Have you been to past ALA conferences? Any advice on accomodating a hearing loss in this situation?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

My Mother's Garden

My mom didn't want me to
miss seeing her hostas when
I visited her house today.

Here's another hosta variety
from her garden. I love
this green and white kind
and want some for my yard!

This pink rose has tiny blooms,
perhaps an inch in diameter. I used
a macro camera setting to take this closeup.
My mother told me she
loves this bloom's lacy quality.

CoreopsisMy mother said this flower
reminds her of a star.

This fuchia hanging basket
hangs just outside my mom's
kitchen window. While we were
sitting at the table admiring it,
she mentioned that last year a
hummingbird visited it regularly.
Just then, two hummingbirds
appeared, the first she'd seen this season!

As I'm still experimenting with
my new cell phone camera, I
wanted to try taking a sky watch
photo framed by these teeny red
berries that the birds love.
But by the time I snapped it, the
lovely shaped clouds had moved
almost completely out of the photo.

This is my first attempt at taking
a shadow photo. I really like the
shape of the shadows cast by these
potted geraniums and the curlicue
shadows from the corner post of my
mom's front porch.

Happy Birthday, Mom!
Thanks for the tour of
your beautiful garden.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Flowers for Friday: Red, White, and Blue

I couldn't resist taking this photo
of my red/white petunias with the
4th of July holiday coming tomorrow.

Does this qualify as blue?
We bought it as part of a blue garden
package from a catalog. I can't
remember what it is but
my husband identified it
as a perennial geranium.

The wave petunias in this photo
also look rather blue to me.
In the background you
can see our hostas have bloomed

Hosta walkway in bloom.

Our hibiscus plants continue to grow!

In various parts of the yard,
lilies are in bloom now. I love
their gorgeous colors.

Asiatic Lily

first one to bloom
(for Marnie)

This deep purple lily is my
favorite photo this week.

All the pictures were taken with my
new cell phone which boasts a
3.2 megapixel camera. I am still
experimenting with the various
settings for this camera. Most of
these photos were taken using
the macro setting. I used auto focus
on all but the yellow daylily photo.
For all of them, I used the
lowest resolution setting 640 x 480.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It's the Thought that Counts... or Is It?

I've always heard "it's the thought that counts" but now I'm wondering about that.

Recently a colleague who came back to work after being off a few days for a medical procedure said to me, "Thanks for the card, Sarah." It was an awkward moment as I didn't know what to say. I had certainly thought of buying her a card and sending her get well wishes. But I't actually... gotten around to doing it.

Assuming someone had sent a group card and signed my name for me, I replied "You're welcome," feeling a twinge of guilt. I've asked around since then and no one will own up to sending such a card. I've even wondered if there could be another Sarah around here who deserves her 'thank you' but is not getting it because she gave it to me by mistake. Surely my coworker wouldn't have said something like that sarcastically as if to say "You should have sent me a card!"

I almost feel like fessing up to her that I didn't (gulp) actually send her a card. But that seems even more awkward. What would you do in this delicate etiquette dilemma?

****Update*****July 2****
Today I found out that someone did indeed send a group card and signed my name for me. Phew! Glad that mystery's solved!