My Spot

Friday, January 27, 2012

Learning Braille

Learning Braille by Cobra_11
Learning Braille, a photo by Cobra_11 on Flickr.

About two weeks ago, after seenig a TV documentary on blind people and literature, I became interested in Braille. When I studied it more closely, I came to the conclusion that it's a genius way of writing information: computers complicate with a bunch of zeroes and ones: when I wrote my name that way, I used up 2 pages. Braille, however, only takes a few dots. I therefore decided to learn Braille. I looked up a tutorial on the internet and went to work. I memorized the alphabet, the numbers and a few symbols in a couple of hours. I also practiced reading and writing by drawing the dots on paper. A couple of days ago I went to Ljubljana and bought a Braille slate (it's the silver plate on the photo), which is used to write proper Braille as little bumps on paper. Before, I learnt Braille visually by looking at the dots, but now I'm learning it properly: blind writing and reading by touch. The writing must be done in the negative: you have to write from right to left and mirror the letters, so that when you turn the page over everything is written correctly and you can read from left to right. I'm pretty good at writing already and I actually find it easier to write with my eyes closed, just feeling the cells and the dots. Reading, however, is trickier, mainly due to the fact that my feeling of touch is not particularly sharp yet, but I can recognize the letters and words by feeling the bumps already. Practice makes perfect, right? ;-)

I intend to introduce as many people as I can to Braille. This way, people will get to know each other better and start living together, not just existing side by side. The world will be a better place then, I believe... :-)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

On A Lunchbreak...

On A Lunchbreak... by Cobra_11
On A Lunchbreak..., a photo by Cobra_11 on Flickr.

I finally managed to get a clear and closeup shot of a robin! This little bird has been living in my garden for quite a while, but it's very shy. However, a delicious lunch did the trick: the bird came up to my window and had a delicious meal on the branch about 2 metres away from my camera. It's the first time this little robin did something like this. I've been feeding the birds in our garden for years, but the robin never came to the birdfeeder - it just picked up what the other birds dropped down. I hope it will keep coming back! :-)

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Mission: Duct Tape, or, How To Get Rid Of Funny Or Poisonous Smells Coming From Your Neighbours' Apartments

First of all, let me explain that these photos were made and put together as an instruction, so this is not meant to be artistic.

Do you live in an apartment building / a block of flats and you have neighbours upstairs, downstairs or to the sides of your apartment / flat who smoke all kinds of stuff, from normal cigarettes to drugs? Your apartment / flat gets all stinky and life in it becomes nearly unbareable, even dangerous (don't forget: drugs are poisonous!!!). You get completely frustrated about what to do. Well, we've been living like this for almost two years. My entire family suffered from medical conditions (skin rash, inflamation of eyes, breathing problems, irritation of the upper bronchial system and lungs). We've bought four air purifiers so far and these little machines really do wonders. However, having four machines each producing 50 decibels of noise is just not comfortable. In fact, sleeping in all that noise is just not working on the long run. Over time our neighbours have started to produce far more stench than our machines can handle. So, I had to come up with something that would block the smell completely. I had to think about the problem from a different direction:

1) Where does the stench come from?
2) How to seal the stench-outlets?

Well, the stench travels through the electrical wiring system. This means that all the electrical switches and outlets (where you plug in stuff) are a major source of poisonous stench - if you remove them, you discover big holes with wires sticking out and that's where the stench comes out. Messing with the electricity is dangerous and a complete rewiring of the apartment is too expensive for the time being. Therefore the cheapest and the quickest solution to seal the stench out almost completely is good old DUCT TAPE! Here's an instruction on how to do it:

1) Get some strong transparent duct tape. DO NOT USE PACKAGING TAPE - that one is usually cellophane, which does not seal properly. The tape has to be plastic. In my case I used a 3M tape, which is quite thick and has a very stron sticky side. THe duct tape MUST be at least 5 cm / 2.5 inches wide.

2) Get the tools. You will need a pair of scissors and an old ruler.

3) Prepare the material. Cut the tape into strips that are at least 2.5 cm / 1 inch longer that your electrical outlet.

4) Start sticking. Half of the strip must cover the outlet and the other half of the strip will come on the wall.

5) Always stick the strip of duct tape on the outlet first. Then, take the ruler and pres the duct tape along the edges of the outlet. Then just press the tape onto the wall. Do this one strip at a time, edge for edge.

6) Use your fingers and press all the duct tape neatly on the outlet and on the wall. There must be no creases, cracks or air bubbles in the tape for the seal to work.

7) If your electrical switches have bolts in them (as you can see here on the photo - top left corner), be sure to cover them completely with duct tape.

8) Go around the apartment and do this with all the electrical outlets, the switches, and wire crossings.

9) Check the electrical outlets for use. Do you use all of them? The outlets that you do not use should be additionally sealed. You can do that by "child-proofing" the outlets: plug in those safety-plug caps. They are cheap, but they will block the holes in the outlets and the stench will not come out.


11) Think about other outlets of stench, too: lights on the ceiling, the fuse box, etc. Stick duct tape around all of those, too.

12) Sit back and enjoy your newly gained fresh air :-)

I've done this all around our apartment / flat yesterday evening and thonight was our first night in peace and quiet and fresh air in two years! The air purifiers were not necessary and there was no stench at all. Now, some of you might say that some stench will still enter your apartment / flat occasionally. I'm not saying that this will block the stench completely, but I guarantee you that it will remove 98 % of the stench. Do your sticking carefully and precisely and I guarantee you fresh air :-)