Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Still Internetless

We have been waiting almost three weeks for our internet to be hooked up and we are still waiting. Apparently it will be connected next Monday, so here's to hoping.
In the mean time I have managed to keep myself fairly busy. Some of my supplies for bath salts and soap have arrived so that aspect of my life is moving slowly along. I am still considering going to school for either a master's degree in Performance Psychology or Sociology, but that probably won't start until next September.
Mr. K is keeping even busier than I am. He is working on his fourth painting and we've had some friends on Facebook say they want him to paint a picture for them. I had originally posted that our stuff was up on our website, but I was incorrect. With not having internet, the paintings have made appearances on Facebook and such, but nothing has been displayed on our actual site.
As for our boys, things are moving in a positive direction. We had a visit from a Guide Dog Scotland representative yesterday and he gave Mr. K a few tips for dealing with Roscoe's dog distraction issues and they seem to be helping. Glacier and I went for a walk and the Rep can see where I am frustrated, but we all think that with some time, patience and work Glacier and I will be a working team yet again.
I knew that after retraining that the move to Scotland could put Glacier into a backwards slide and it has sort of happened, but I think the more he and I work together the more confident we both will be. The Rep said I was a good handler, which made me feel a lot better because I was feeling like I was terrible. I think it is beneficial to have a fresh set of eyes look at the situation.
I've been messing about with Furdemonium as well and can't completely decide what to do with it. Currently, I am doing some research to figure out approximately how much start up  capital will cost to start an actual pet boutique. We're living in a great area for something like that and it is an option for the future. Did I ever mention that I am not good at sitting still? :)
Other than that, things have been moving right along. I had a fight with the coffee maker my friends gave me. It is second hand, which is fine, but was brought over  to Scotland from Europe and it was missing its filter and then I discovered it was not compatible with the outlets in our flat. It took a few days, but I now have a working coffee pot-such things as working coffee pots are imperative to my survival! Perhaps I should say that working  coffee pots may be imperative to Mr. K's survival? He's the one who has to deal with me when I haven't had my coffee.
I can't say how much I love it here. The city is charming, the people are nice and we can get out and do things independently.
That is it for now, but I will write soon and hopefully sooner than later.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where's Jess Been?

In my own flat-that is where.
Mr. K, Glacier, Roscoe and I moved ourselves and our stuff over to our new flat on Friday. Tenie was a great help as well and hauled a gigantic suitcase. I spent some time that day unloading suitcases and putting items where they belonged while Tenie and Mr. K returned to Tenie's flat for another load of stuff.
Glacier and Roscoe are, as I assumed, a little out of sorts with another move, but they seem to be boncing back. They both moped about a bit on Friday and part of Saturday, but seem to be back to their happy selves today. I am having troubles with Glacier being a bit light in the harness and kind of not caring that he's guiding, but I am hoping that with some patience and time he will improve. I have also scheduled an appointment with the guide dog organisation here for next Monday and hopefully we can nip this unwanted behavior in the bud  before it gets out of control. I expressed my concerns to the representative and he seems to be optimistic that we'll be able to straighten things out.
The flat itself is quite lovely and feels very homey. We are still working on organising and decorating it. Mr. K ordered a couple of portable drawer units to store excess computer equipment and such in. We're also on the market for an inexpensive, fashionable area rug. We have a small gas fireplace in the living room and although it looks like a box with a grate on it, it would be nice to put the rug in front of it. The rug would also give Glacier and Roscoe somewhere to stretch out rather than just on their bed in our bedroom. Ever since my Glacier issues starting again, we have gone back to basics and the dogs aren't allowed on the furniture.
We have sort of come to the conclusion that Glacier has a harder time differentiating between working and not working. He needs a lot of structure to be spot on and in a large city like Edinburgh, he needs to be spot on. Roscoe has been quite dog distracted as well, so it won't hurt him to go back to a more structured lifestyle. It may also make them feel more secure and correct some of the problems we are having with them. So, even at Auntie Tenie and Auntie Carmen's flat, they have to lie on the rug and not the couches. Both boys were a bit confused by this new development today, but they are now snoozing soundly together on the purple, rug in front of a fireplace.
We do not have the internet hooked up at our flat yet, but that will be rectified next Monday. Our hot water was also not working, but a repair person is supposed to come by this afternoon and fix it.
I've put my Pet Consulting business on hold as I am unsure of the market here for that sort of thing, but Mr. K and I are starting an art website where we will showcase and sell our creations. Mr. K has recently started painting and my products will be of the jewelry and body product variety. I've started making novelty soaps and my first jewelry pieces for the website will be posted soon. Mr. K will be adding new paintings, sketches and photos that he has taken  as well. I'm not sure how successful it will be, but I think it will be a good outlet.
You can visit the website
but just be aware that one of Mr. K's paintings is the only thing that is up right now.
Anyway, I think that is all of the news for now. Hopefully once we have internet, I will be better able to keep you updated.
Thanks for reading and I will be by to visit everyone just as soon as our internet is working in our flat.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


A while back I mentioned that Glacier and Roscoe seem to be a bit too exuberant for the dog owners at the park that we had been taking them to run at. Mr. K and I thought it would be better to run them by themselves as not to run other dog owners off. The one run we had taken them on, about three or four dog owners and their charges left the park after Glacier and Roscoe ran up to say hello. They didn't jump up or anything, but I think their over excited wagging and the fast pace at which they approached the people, made the owners uncomfortable. Being that we're not from here and that we want other people to enjoy the park as much as we do, we opted for midnight runs instead,  and last night that is exactly what we did.
Around eleven , we roused the boys from their comfortable sleeping positions on the couches and put their leashes on. I stuffed my pockets full of poop bags, recall treats and a stuffed, squeaky cow. I think they were both a bit confused as to why we were assembling the "going out to run" stuff, but they both obliged excitedly. We had been out working all afternoon and since it was supposed to be bed time, they both seemed to be a bit subdued. I'm not complaining-Glacier's a big guy and when he gets overly  excited, things get complicated.
Upon reaching the park both dogs were still a bit confused. We had them relieve themselves as it was their normal night time "park" time and then had them both hold a "sit stay" for a prolonged period of time. Mr. K even had Roscoe do a few puppy push-ups off leash and Glacier sat patiently with his leash unclipped. The first couple of times we had gone to the park during the day, both dogs had horrible recall. I think it was a myriad of factors that turned their ears to stone.
First of all, it was a new place and life was just so exciting. In hindsight, perhaps we should have waited to let them have off leash runs until they were more settled. I guess we thought that they just really needed to run and get some of their "beans out." That said, refusing to come when called, or taking your sweet A** time is not acceptible behavior.
Second of all, this particular park we took them to is incredibly busy with people and dogs alike engaging in various activities. There are always children playing soccer (or football), dogs playing fetch or just strolling through and people just out getting some fresh air. In previous runs, the dogs have been designated to dog parks or remote bush trails. Off leash laws are so strict in Canada and the United States, that we were required by law to keep the dogs on leash in public areas. That said, in parts of Ontario, guide dogs are lawfully allowed to be off of leash running free, but we never felt comfortable exposing unsuspecting people to our off leash dogs. So, I think with the new smells, the stress of moving across the world and a whole lot of stimulation the boys just couldn't handle it. Coming when called was not even an option. We're a lot more settled now and they have had to walk through that park hundreds of times while working, so I think it set a new kind of precedent for off leash runs; good behavior was rquired and demanded, not a choice.
With less stimulation and much calmer, more settled in dogs we tried the off leash thing again. The experience was like night and day. Recall was much better and I mean much better. After waiting in the sit stays they were both released and they took off like shots, racing along side each other. What was nice about it just being us, I could hear Glacier's paws pounding through the grass and Roscoe's collar clinking as he ran. Tenie was there of course to be our sighted supervision, but both boys were excellent.
They raced around like crazy dogs, but came running full throttle when called back. The squeaky cow came in handy. I would call Glacier happily and squeak like mad and he would come running back. Once he arrived we'd play a bit, I'd pop a treat in his mouth and send him off again. I also switched it up. Sometimes we played, sometimes he just got a treat or he was rewarded with both. I wanted to keep him guessing and to keep coming back exciting and unpredictable. I think Glacier's too smart for his own good and rewarding him the same way every time doesn't work. He gets bored and disinterested. I guess he's kind of like Jetta in that sense, but I didn't know enough about dogs to realise that is what was going on with Jetta.
They only ran for about twenty minutes,  but I think it was enough for them both. Tongues hanging out and tails wagging we clipped their leashes on in anticipation of returning to Tenie's flat. As we were about to leave, a little pup ran up to us and at first we were worried he was ownerless. Tenie scanned the park and in the limited light, saw his person walking towards us. I have to tell you, there is nothing like puppy kisses. I knelt in the grass and he put his paws up on my lap and cleaned my face thoroughly. Glacier sniffed him all over and he just wagged and wriggled about. I wanted to snatch him up and take him home with me. His person finally arrived and muttered something about it being his dog.
Well, yeah. Why do you think we waited for you to get to us?
Then he grumbled about the dog being a little "sh**" and right then and there I wanted to scoop him up and take him home for real.
Perhaps his owner isn't a bad person, maybe he was having a bad night. I really hope so because getting mad that your puppy wandered off to see the other two big dogs is normal. In fact, it's healthy. Not to mention, we knew it was his dog. We had waited for him because we didn't want the pup to follow us across the road. Either way, that little run with the puppy made me miss our little guys and wish we still had a pet dog. Guide dogs are great and we are so lucky because they get to go everywhere with us, but they just aren't pets. However, a third dog is not feasible right now and it would be very irresponsible of us to get one. I had looked into volunteering with a rescue here, but didn't have much luck. Perhaps I'll try again and hopefully that will satiate my puppy appetite.
It was a great outing and I am so proud of our boys. They were well behaved and their recall improved ten fold. I think we'll keep trying our midnight runs and slowly make them earlier. Introducing the boys to excessive amounts of stimulation over time may make coming when called a bit more reliable.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another Hair Brained Idea

I feel that  sometimes I can be the most indecisive person. I have flip flopped back and forth so much lately trying to decide what course my life should take and nearly every path I have started down has lead me to re-evaluate. When I found out from Queen Margaret University that I really didn't get into the program  due to a clerical error on their part, I sort of didn't know where to go. I threw some ideas around and tried a few out, but the last couple of days a different sort of idea has been nibbling at the corners of my brain.
I have applied for a few jobs here in the UK and was denied. I'm not giving up my search because of these run ins as I am completely aware that a lot of people get denied. Really, in truth, I haven't given up at all. I still search the "wanted" ads and still have not found anything I would be qualified for.
One of the problems is that massage therapy is not regarded the same way here as it is in parts of Canada. I ran into this in the United States as well, but was willing to work in a spa. Spas here aren't looking for massage therapists because most massage therapists here do not have much training and can't offer a whole lot. The ads run for "beauty therapists," or as we know them in North America, aesteticians. I don't wax or paint nails and my training goes way beyond a simple rub down. So, one option that I have been throwing around is opening my own clinic.
Financially that would be incredibly risky and it still does not change how people view massage therapists. I'd have to open a spa to be successful and I'm not sure that is the type of business I want to run. I don't think I would be challenged mentally and this is part of the reason why I had gone into massage therapy in the first place. Enter idea number two.
Why not go back to school?
I am going to be the most over educated blind person out there. Education is always an investment. It is something that can be never taken away from you and it would also increase my qualifications.
With a Sociology under graduate degree, I am sort of qualified for working in the non-profit sector or other such fields, but with an MSC or a PhD, I would be even more qualified. It's a glaring fact that disabled people often have to be better than average just to be considered for a position. With a Master's degree or PhD, I will be better than average and hopefully open up more avenues. I have also wanted to get my PhD for a while, but thought it was not going to be possible due to financial reasons.
Mr. K and I had a nice long chat last night and we both think being over educated is not a bad thing. He also said that he wants me to go back to school rather than open up a massage clinic because I would never reach my earning potential that way. He has a point and I hate business. Besides, it really wouldn't be a clinic if I actually wanted to attract clients. I would have to run a spa.
Since my little brain storm, I've been in contact with the University of Edinburgh to see if I would be able to write a PhD in the Disability Studies realm. It was a topic that always interested me during my under Grad degree, for obvious reasons, and it has flared back up with my run in with the discriminating employer. I even have a great idea for a research topic; it will just have to be refined a bit.
The department emailed me back yesterday and said that they do not have a professor based in Disability Studies, but if I were to write a four page proposal outlining my topic, they would be better equipped to advise me on whether or not someone at the university would  be able to supervise me. The more I think about it, the more excited I become.
Wanting to get my PhD is not a foreign concept to me. During my stint at Wilfrid Laurier University, I had thrown around the idea of becoming a research professor, but I felt very defeated after four and a half years of fighting for accessible textbooks and just didn't have the heart to keep going in the Sociology field. Having some time away lit the spark again and I think I could really add to the body of knowledge of Disability Studies and hopefully improve things for disabled people everywhere. Plus, I also love teaching and obtaining my Phd would be a way I could teach at the university level.
Can you imagine? In four year's time I'll be signing my blog Doctor Jess. ;)

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Differences

It's almost impossible not to compare one thing against another. It seems to be something a person can't really get away from. Comparison isn't always a bad thing though. Ever since I moved here I can't help but compare Scotland to North America and as I've mentioned, that is not always a bad thing; at least in this case it is not.
One of the biggest differences I have noticed is how the street crossings are structured. In North America most blind people are taught that you never cross busy intersections unless you have "parallel traffic" to listen to and cross with. Basically, if the traffic to your side and not in front of you is moving, you can go. Some intersections beep and have two different tones for each crossing. For instance, say I were to be standing at the corner of a street called University and another called King, a sort of "cuckoo clock" noise indicates that it is safe to cross University, while a weird, mechanical chirping lets you know that King Street is the one to be crossed. If, as I said, there isn't an audible signal available at that particular intersection, you cross with your "parallel traffic."
In Scotland, and from what I can tell England as well, all traffic is stopped and it is then safe for pedestrians. This allows people to cross diagonally if they would like. That is a huge "no no" in North America for blind travelers. Some of the intersections have an audible signal here as well, but it is only a high pitched beeping. There are a few that actually talk and say,
"the traffic has been signaled to  stop (insert street name)." Also, a lot of the crossings are what we in North America would call "indented." I think I described these when I was back at Leader Dogs for the Blind retraining. Usually these are used for "country" or "sidewalkless" travel. To indent, the pedestrian walks a ways down the intersecting street and crosses that. For North Americans, this technique is employed in order to ensure   you cross straight when you do not have a sidewalk to indicate a straight line of travel. Here, for the most part, it is to avoid "round abouts" and pedestrians having to try to cross those.
These differences are not bad. They are just something I have noticed and have had to get used to. A few times we've been out and a friend has said it is safe to cross and I've been like,
"no it's not!"
because I've been waiting for the parallel traffic to drive. I'm still figuring out a trick for the crossings that do not have audible signals. A lot of the time, I can tell it is safe to cross when I hear the traffic hit their brakes and come to a stop. I wait for the vehicles to be idling for a bit before hauling butt across the street. Don't even get me started on the vehicles driving on the opposite side of the road-that was slightly unnerving at first. Again, not bad, just different. I do thoroughly enjoy that the majority of crossings have tactile strips at the curb's edge. Those are present in North America as well, but not as frequently; at least not in the cities I've been to.
I've also noticed a plethora of off leash dogs. I haven't decided if this is good or bad yet. I think there are pros and cons to having so many off leash dogs. In North America, it is illegal to be in public with an off leash dog. Here, it is common practice. For the most part, these dogs are all well behaved and stick with their owners, but not always and it is these times that make me a bit nervous. A guide dog was attacked just a few weeks after we arrived just outside of the grocery store that we go to all of the time. The dog in question was off leash and even though it put six puncture wounds into the guide dog, it was given back to its owner with a warning.
I am completely aware that these things happen in North America as well. There are irresponsible dog owners everywhere in the world, but with the leash laws, at least there is more dogs on leash and under control.
That said, it is so cool to walk down the street and see these dogs just hanging out with their owners, not even interested to go and greet our dogs even though they are leashless. I haven't completely figured out why this is, but part of me thinks that dogs may be socialised differently here. Just from observing dogs off leash in a local park and those who do not wear a leash on the streets, I do not think they are socialised to be "friends" with other dogs. They do not have play dates and they stick to their owners like glue. They are also not as outwardly excited to see strangers as North American dogs are. With all of the dogs roaming around, and believe me there are a lot, I have pet only two other dogs since I've been here and they belonged to the same person. (With permission of the owner of course).
If you go to a place where dogs can be off leash in North America, nearly everyone's dogs come up to greet you and lean into your legs for a good ear scratch. Even dogs on leash are excited to meet strangers. These are general statements and do not apply to all dogs or all dogs' owners. My experience here has been that dogs will move away if a stranger goes to pet them and a lot of owners seem put off if you ask to pet their dog. Again, this is not necessarily bad, it is just an observation and could actually be investigated further with regards to training well behaved dogs. The only thing that makes me nervous, besides the off leash stuff, the dogs not being as excited about strangers here is that they are a bit more territorial; not to be confused with aggressive.
Glacier and Roscoe have been growled at quite often and we usually scare people off at the park if we let our dogs run free. They seem to be too exuberant for dog owners here. We've decided that off leash running may have to be done at night when no one else is around so that other people do not leave the park anymore.
Do you know what else is different? The taste of a lot of the food. The meat in particular tastes different, but I like it. Sure there are things about North American food that I like, but there are a lot of things about the food here that I enjoy and one of them is that the meat has more flavour. If we make something with ground hamburger, or Mince as it is called, it just seems to be tastier. I love food, so I am not complaining.
The coffee is quite different when you go out to eat as well. I haven't quite figured out how to order my coffee so it is the way I like it, but I am getting there. Usually, the cups are much smaller and the coffee is way stronger. Again, I'm not complaining since I found the coffee incredibly weak when I was living in SC. I hardly ever ordered coffee out because it tasted like dirty dish water. Here though, is a whole different story. I have to add sugar to these little, tiny cups like a mad woman and you only get one cup. In North America, quite often coffee comes with free refills. However, the coffee is so strong here, that one small cup usually is enough for me.
There is one thing that is different that I am not so excited about. A lot of the times, not always, but a lot of the time, the public bathrooms smell awful. We've been to so many cafes or restaurants and had to pee, but have waited until we got back to the flat because it smelled so bad. I don't know why this is, but when a bathroom smells that badly, it is somewhat off putting and it makes you wonder when the last time they actually cleaned it was. That is not to say that there aren't gross bathrooms in North America because there are, but clean and non-stinky ones are more common.
I'm also so amazed by the historical architecture still  standing. North America isn't that old and so the beautiful, intricate architecture is kind of lacking. Our flat that we will be moving into on Friday, for example, is near the water and was probably used as a warehouse for the ships. We are on the second floor, but have to climb three winding, steep, stone staircases to get to our front door. The stone steps are so worn from years of feet climbing them that they are warped and slanting. It is better to walk on the sides rather than down the centre because you have less chance of slipping. The bannister in both mine and Tenie's flat are gorgeous too. They are big, thick bannisters with little curly bits at the bottom. Iron pegs are holding my bannister together. There are cobble stone streets everywhere as well. It seems like if there was a cobble stone street present in a lot of North American cities, they were taken out and replaced by pavement. We'll be walking along a street and Tenie will read a plaque on a building that said it was built in the 1400's. Canada wasn't even a country until four hundred years later!
The differences are countless: they have chippies here, they do not exist in North America; the flush button is usually on the top of the tank here whereas in North America it is on the front; tumble dryers are not a common thing here, but in North America a person would be mad if they rented a place that had a washing machine but no dryer; fridges are tiny and would be considered beer or apartment fridges in North America; and so much more. Despite these differences, I love it here and the differences are what make it all the more charming.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

What About the Boys?

It's been almost four weeks since we left sunny South Carolina and landed in London. I can't believe how the time has flown. The first week or so that we were here, both Glacier and Roscoe were incredibly difficult to control. We were stopping frequently for puppy push-ups and Glacier was back to wearing his Newtrix constantly. Within the last week though, Mr.k and I have seen great improvements in both dogs and we're both quite relieved.
I knew Glacier and Roscoe would go through an adjustment period. Everything here smells different and eventhe structure of most street crossings is different. They've had a huge shock and a lot of stimulation in a very short period of time. Not to mention, staying in a flat with five other people was very overwhelming for them. They would  often get crazy excited and cause mayhem and destruction with their coffee table height tails. They still swipe the coffee table clean on occasion, but most of their anxious behavior has started to subside.
What bites about this whole situation is that they have just finally started to settle in and next Friday we'll be moving them again. The only good thing is that they have both been to the new flat a few times; that way it won't be completely unfamiliar.
With this settling in comes a good work ethic. Both dogs have relaxed enough to focus on the task at paw. Their heads are mostly pointed in the right direction and stopping to sniff a particularly good smelling lamp post has decreased drastically. I've even been able to work Glacier without the Newtrix the last couple of days.
This afternoon we wandered up to a local cafe run by a Turkish family to have breakfast. Although we walked with a few friends, Glacier and Roscoe guided Mr. K and I carefully through crowds, across busy streets and around puddles. Their guiding was controlled and dependable, which was a huge change from some of our earlier outings. It used to be that Glacier was so excited to get out and work that I was being dragged along behind him, nearly powerless to stop him if he wanted to go faster. He was also insistent on sniffing and no amount of correction could deter him. I knew it would all subside, but I could feel my patience wearing thin and I was beginning to worry that the work we had in retraining at Leader Dogs for the Blind was for nothing. Since Roscoe was being a nut as well, I had hope.
Don't they say, "good things come to those that wait?"
Well, I think our waiting and patience have paid off. Of course they're not perfect, they are dogs, but improvements have been made and I have confidence in Glacier's ability to get me safely from one location to another.
Both boys are crashed out on the couch beside me. I think all of this working wears them out, but as I've said before
"a tired dog is a good dog."

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Sweet Home Edinburgh

Guess what?
We have a flat! Yay! Mr. K and I have our own home. Tomorrow we go to pick up the keys and sign the lease. Very exciting stuff. We haven't actually seen the flat yet, but we're both pretty happy to be moving into our own place. Everyone in this flat have been incredibly accommodating and nice to us and we are very grateful. After we pick up the keys and sign the  lease, we'll head up to the flat and then take a bus up to Ikea and pick the stuff that we will need such as sheets.
We also picked up our cell phones today. We both figured that two blind people wandering around an unfamiliar city without any form of communication would be bad. So, cell phone shopping we went. Mine's just a little thing that calls; nothing fancy. I really like Iphones because of the accessibility options, but since we don't have credit in the UK yet, we couldn't get one. I'm satisfied with a phone that dials though.
On another note, last night we headed out with the entire flat for drinks. The cafe we went to was quite nice. I had a cup of peppermint tea because it was a cold and rainy night. On the way home we stopped at a "Chippy,"which we do not have in North America. Chippy are kind of fast food with deep fried everything. I had a smoked sausage. After consuming our very unhealthy midnight snack standing on the street curb, we began walking home. Carmen was guiding Mr. K and Tenie was acting as my eyes for the night. We had opted to leave the boys at home as we didn't know how full the cafe would be and we also didn't want the dogs getting all wet and stinky right before bed. As we walked along, Tenie and I leading the way, we heard a gigantic crashing sound. Tenie turned around and managed to pull me out of the way as Mr. K came crashing towards us.
Apparently, he had tripped over a loose cobble stone. He was quite sore walking home and today his back and shoulder is sore. He didn't actually fall down, but in the effort of trying not to roll his ankle, he had thrown himself forward sort of causing whiplash. Good thing his wife is a massage therapist and can fix that right?
As for my legal troubles, I contacted a lawyer and she is reviewing my case. She is supposed to be in touch tomorrow. We will discuss the financial side of things after she has gone over the details. She had advised me to look into Scotland Legal Aid Board to see if they would be able to give us financial assistance with the legal fees, but we were denied. Mr. K and I decided to proceed regardless as we both feel that this is very important.
It would appear that everything is moving right along. I am not sure what day we will be fully moved in, but I may be absent as we will not have internet at our new place right away. That said, I will probably be over at this flat harassing my girls, so I still may be able to update you lovely people.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Oh the Rage

I am sitting here currently waiting for the phone to ring. This phone call is highly anticipated as it is coming from what Americans would call the ADA. This is not the ADA, but a UK version. Yes, I've been here for two and a half weeks and I am already stirring the pot.
I went to my job interview last night and knew as soon as I walked in something was wrong. The person interviewing me said,
"Does he always go everywhere with you?"
She was not referring to Mr. K. She was referring to Mr. G. Considering Mr. G-AKA Glacier-is my eyes, I replied that he did. I explained that if any of my clients had dog allergies  I could make adjustments. She seemed satisfied with that answer and we proceeded with the interview that consisted of me massaging the woman for an hour and a half. (Perhaps I should bill her).
Personally, I thought the massage went well, but something didn't feel quite right. I was comfortable with my techniques and performed well, but I could tell she didn't like aspects of what I did because it wasn't what she would have done. I hoped that she would be open minded enough to differing massage styles to suggest I get the position to her boss, but that obviously didn't happen. That said, that is a whole other can of worms and isn't what is  making me angry.
I am angry because I received an email this morning telling me that I didn't get the job because I am blind. That is what she said. Oh wait. First she commended me for being courageous and inspirational-even though I have never met her-and then said "however" I didn't get the job because I am blind. She said there were health and safety issues and that insurance wouldn't accept me.
She went on to say that she "could not allow dogs into the salon."
This statement implies a lot.
First of all, Glacier is not a "dog," but rather a "guide dog." Big difference!
Second of all, you have to let guide dogs into the salon because it is illegal to deny them.
Third of all, this statement implies that she would not even provide services to a paying customer if they had a guide dog because she "cannot allow dogs into the salon.
I had told the woman that interviewed me that I would be willing to leave Glacier in a different room if a client was allergic and that I had no problem sweeping up every night in order to decrease the amount of fur present in the clinic room. I, by law, do not have to do any of these things. In fact, they are supposed to be accommodating me;  not the other way around. I just offered because it is something I don't mind doing and I can usually be a reasonable individual.
I think this needs no further explanation. Does everyone else see the problem with this statement?
Let's go back to her health and safety concerns.
I can get insurance. Mr. K and I already looked into it, but in her haste not to hire a blind person, she didn't even check the validity of that statement. Not to mention, any health and safety issue that may apply to me,  would apply to the rest of her staff. If that is the case, she might want to make some changes. I know how to unplug and shut off a crockpot. (The hot stones for massage are heated up in a crockpot). She also assumed that I couldn't do the laundry. Part of the conditions of working there was that the therapist would be responsible for the cleaning of linens. Let's think about this.
I came to the salon in clean clothes. I have been a massage therapist for two years now. Does she not think that I haven't done laundry in the years of being a therapist? What about the fact that I've been doing  my own laundry since I was twelve years old?!
She also assumed that I didn't know how to or wouldn't be able to clean the stones in a timely manner after each massage. I took the damn course didn't I?! I passed the damn course didn't I?! I'm pretty sure I know how to clean the stones. I was never asked to demonstrate my stone cleaning ability.  Not to mention, the therapist that tested me last night cleaned them wrong. The way she cleaned them would spread an infectious disease if it were to get onto the sheets. In fact, her therapist did a lot of things wrong that I planned on changing but didn't say so because thought it would be rude. But you know...I'm apparently under qualified...according to her therapist.
I could argue the "under qualified" aspect quite strongly, but I won't even go there. The blind thing is the biggest issue right now.
I'm really sick of people deciding what I can and cannot do without meeting me or asking questions. I'm rreally tired of people deciding my capability based on a stereotype.
Perhaps this is petty of me, but her therapist, who I was interviewing to replace, wants to go back to Canada and massage in Nova Scotia. I don't think she realises that she would have to take a board exam and judging by her knowledge and practices last night, she will not pass. I'm angry because I am a capable, knowledgeable therapist. I'm not going to say that I am the best in the world, but I am good. I'm not sure what other health and safety issues she thought might arise. Maybe she thought I'd ingest nail polish by accident or something. Last time I checked, I don't go around swallowing substances that stink.
Regardless, I am going to be speaking with the anti-discrimination  people and taking this further. This sort of behavior is not okay.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Long Over Due

You may want to grab a snack before sitting down to read this because I think it's going to be a long one.
I'm not entirely sure what time it is here in Edinburgh, but I can't sleep. I'm sprawled on my friends' couch typing away with a cup of Orange Spice tea. Oh, and a fuzzy blanket of course. I left Glacier curled up on his make shift bed of blankets and sheets with Roscoe, since they both seemed to be sleeping peacefully. The tea is good and the house is quiet as most people usually sleep during this time of the night, so it is a good time to actually sit down and write.
Mr. K, Glacier, Roscoe and I have been in the UK for about two and a half weeks. Part of me feels like we fit right in and that we've been here forever and another part is still excited and can't believe we're actually in Scotland. Every once in a while, during the normal activities of every day life, something will happen and remind me that we are in fact living in Scotland. Today, for example, I was sorting through our clothes, trying to get things organised because we have completely taken over Tenie's room, and a pound coin came flying out of Mr. K's jeans pocket. We have Loonies in Canada and dollar bills in the United States, not pound coins. As I picked it up and jammed it back into Mr. K's wallet, I couldn't help but smile. We are really here.
What have we been doing since we got here?
The simplest answer would be, everything.
Thursday we went to the zoo and spent the day wandering the grounds. We saw so many different animals and Mr. K managed to capture a lot of them on camera. Pretty impressive for a totally blind guy if you ask me. A lot of those photos can be found on his photo blog
His blog is mostly photos, so it may not be the most blind friendly website to browse through.
We also meandered down Princes Street and even stopped in at the Disney store. I love Disney. Glacier and Roscoe were incredibly well behaved on that trip; even passing by a few dogs without either of us knowing. They didn't accompany us to the zoo as it is not really an environment for them. Too many smells and distractions and that would definitely stress out the zoo creatures. LDB also frowns on taking your guide dog to the zoo and I completely agree.
This past Sunday we attended the Mela festival, which is a celebration of South East Asian culture. We had a great time, despite standing in line for an hour to get food. I was amazed at how busy the festival actually was. It was held in the park close to the girls' flat, so we were able to just wander over at our leisure and enjoy the festivities.
Earlier today we met with a representative from the Guide Dog Association  who is responsible for the area we are living in.  The Rep had a lot of good things to say and is willing to work with us in getting acquainted with the area and to work with us on any problem areas. He even said we could try out one of their harnesses just to see what it is like. The harness style  is quite different from what we are used to and it would be interesting to see what it would be like using one of those harnesses. We obviously would not be sticking with the equipment change. We briefly talked about Roscoe's barking problem and he seemed willing to help. Also, on the way back to the flat, Glacier decided to skip a curb, so when I talk with the trainer again, I'll let him know that will be something we will need to address. It wasn't a curb of a quiet street, absent of vehicles. It was a very busy street with cars moving on it; very not safe. Most of the curbs here have tactile strips on them and I love it, but I'm not sure if that new addition is throwing Glacier off. I'll give him more time to settle in and see how he does. I harness corrected him, more out of reaction than anything, and I think I scared him. Actually, it was more of a "pull dog away from fast moving car" harness move than a correction. I was worried he was going to get clipped by a car. Besides that incident-I will not call it small because it is not-he is doing very well, considering everything is so new.
We also spent part of today perusing the shops in the mall that within walking distance as I have another job interview tomorrow and need appropriate professional looking massage therapist attire. Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a women's polo shirt in black? We considered sticking me in a boy's navy blue polo shirt, but found a plain black t-shirt thingy that was satisfactory.
Later this evening, I will be going to the beauty salon and massaging the massage therapist I would be replacing if I were to get the job. The treatment is to be an hour long and what is crazy about it is that she is Canadian and is leaving the salon to go back to Canada. What a small world. If all goes well, then tomorrow I will be meeting with the owner of the salon to go over financial type things and the conditions of the contract. I really hope that everything goes well because this job sounds perfect for me.
As for our flat hunting, it is going interestingly to say the least. We have been waiting since we got here to hear whether or not we get a flat we have put an application in for and still nothing. The landlord uses a Letting Agent who in turn uses a third party company to do financial background checks and it is going very slowly, despite being told that the processing time was five business days. We have already sunk money into the process as we had to pay a deposit, administration fees and a holding fee, so we're not quite ready to cut our losses and move on. Quite frankly, it is getting ridiculous as there are seven of us staying in this flat-sometimes eight as one girl has her boyfriend over frequently-and so we really need to get our own place. Everyone has been great and we do not feel like they want us out by no means, but it would be nice to stop living out of suitcases.
I still absolutely love this place. It is so full of history and the city is very charming. It is such a breath of fresh air to be able to walk almost anywhere you could possibly want to go. And, if you can't walk there, you can hop a city bus and be there in no time. I had my first ride on the top floor of a double decker bus the day we went to the zoo. Since we didn't bring Glacier and Roscoe, we were able to climb the narrow, twisting staircase to the second floor of the bus. I felt pretty fancy riding around up there. :) All I can really say is that Mr. K and I both love it here and every day we know we made the right decision.

P.S. Thanks to everyone for your supportive comments. Once I'm in a more settled environment, I will try to play catch up with everyone. :)