Before I Was Born

I just joined the writer’s club on “Friends of Bookshare” which posts a topic to write about for every day to keep us in practice.  Today’s story with the topic: Before I Was Born follows.




Before I was born, Kaye, my would be mother, said to Arnie, my future father, “Let’s have a baby.”  Arnie, a very nerdy chemist scratched his head and said, “Why not?”  So, after a few sessions of the old in-out, in-out one of Arnie’s sperms became friendly enough with one of Kaye’s eggs and they decided to fertilize.


At that point, Arnie and Kaye lived a pretty quiet life in Manville, New Jersey.  Arnie worked for American Cyanamid, a huge and environmentally disastrous chemical company who, in a big way, helped Jersey gain its reputation for poisonous rivers and amazing spectroscopic sunsets, and Kaye taught at a local grammar school.  On weekends, Arnie and Kaye would often go to Jersey City to visit one or both sets of their parents or into the Village to hear the beats read and the be-boppers jam.  Their life had few problems and even fewer fears.


Then, one day the sperm met the egg and they joined together to form a family which is how we became the BC bunch.  This didn’t occur immediately, the sperm and egg spent some time as a zygote and, for reasons of their own, caused Kaye to puke often.  After a while the sperm and egg decided to move into a bigger apartment and chose a fetus as their new home as such can easily support expansion. 


The fetus had all sorts of rapid additions grow forth from what once had just been a sperm and egg.  Loads of child, grandchild, great grandchild and beyond cells joined the fetus and, after a while, the fetus became me.


Arnie and Kaye felt a lot of excitement about becoming parents for the first time.  I, the fetus, didn’t much care about the future.  Arnie would say, “If the baby comes out as a girl, we should name her Audrey.”  At that point in his life, Arnie had a major league Audrey Hepburn fetish and often had to run off to masturbate when one of her movies would air on television.  Kaye didn’t like the name Audrey and replied, “No, we’ll call her Elizabeth,” the name my younger sister got six years later. 


When they discussed boy’s names, Kaye might suggest something like “Ignatz is a good name, we can name him after my uncle Ziggy.”  As I had no notion of the forthcoming David Bowie album that made Ziggy into a cool name, I would kick pretty hard at Kaye’s innards.  Arnie would say, “What about Christian,” a name I thought pretty cool and ultimately ended up with it attached to me.


For what seemed like an eternity in the warm dark place, I enjoyed sloshing around, kicking and punching for fun and to correct something Kaye might have said that disturbed me, especially when she would run down a list of extremely ethnic Polish names that I knew for certain would get my ass whooped at some point in the future.


Arnie and Kaye continued going to the nightclubs and visiting their parents but Kaye, for no reason apparent to me, stopped drinking the red wine that I so enjoyed.  After a while, the warm dark place started growing pretty dull.


On July 4, 1960, I ruined my mother’s doctor’s Independence Day Party by deciding to throw one of my own.  Dr. Dommer spent hours in the delivery room with Kaye trying to extract me from deep in the cavern in which I lived for my entire life.  Arnie paced back and forth in the waiting room smoking Marlboro cigarettes and looking like he had witnessed a train wreck.  Kaye pushed and pushed and, at last, I popped out and flew into the awaiting catcher’s mitt that they used to gather babies as the flew out of the shoot back in those days.


Dr. Dommer announced, “It’s a boy!”


“No shit,” I thought, “these big people have a solid grip on the obvious.)  Then, the bastard spanked me for reasons I still cannot understand, he was probably some sort of infantapheliac S&M pervert.


He handed me to Kaye and Arnie came into the room.  They had big smiles on their faces but I found the bright lights and noises quite annoying so I screamed for them to tone it down a bit but, not understanding the language of an infant, they kept making coo like sounds that one would ordinarily associate with a pigeon during mating season.  All I wanted was the lights turned down but everyone who could perform such a trick just smiled and made senseless noises at me.  Life hasn’t changed much since.


— End

Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential


Yesterday, Blind Confidential,, after posting 294 articles since we went online 2 years and 135 days ago, received visitor 500,000, a number that continues to grow.  I know that BC’s popularity among the community of people with vision impairment consistently grows but I’m not entirely sure why.  I enjoy writing the posts but BC hasn’t exactly informed too much in the past six months but, apparently, it has entertained.


For the most part, I have avoided writing about screen readers as my critics from two opposing camps either say I treat FS too kindly or that I write too favorably about JAWS and its fellow products.  I have found a few bugs in the latest JAWS update but reported them directly to FS and didn’t bring them up in a public forum.  I find that ignoring FS causes me much less anxiety than when I write about their successes and failures alike.  I still use JAWS on my XP machines but, by default, I use System Access on Vista.  I’m doing a lot of research into no cost and free screen readers for my job but still have little feel for that category of programs but will learn soon.


So, I suppose BC readers weren’t terribly compelled by stories about screen readers as they continued to read long after I stopped publishing stories about them.  I have written some items about AT products – mostly the Vic which I really love and hope others like too. 


I would like to make one suggestion about the Vic though.  Specifically, in the information that is read when one hits the zero key repeatedly, the Vic announces the time for the entire book and the time remaining.  I can not believe that it would be too difficult to add an option to speak the total and remaining time counts based upon one’s speech rate.  If I’m running at 300% normal, the time indicators  should be divided by 3 and, for example, be announced as, “time remaining 1 hour 24 minutes at the current speech rate.”  Knowing the amount of time remaining at the default rate is really not too useful unless that is the rate at which one is listening.


I get regular email from fans of the Gonz Blinko stories and may make an attempt to pull them together into a cohesive bit of fiction to be published on the oft promised but never actually existent web page.


I would like to thank all of the readers as I’m really blown away by thinking that a half million times my blog was visited by people who enjoy the dumping of the contents of my mind over morning coffee.  Maybe they don’t enjoy it but feel drawn to BC for some other reason but the hit count continues to grow.  Please keep visiting and I’ll keep writing and maybe it will all make sense someday.


I would like to thank certain people specifically.  Will Pearson has been a regular reader since day one and has provided us with some of our most insightful comments.  When Jamal Mazrui started his CSUN presentation by asking his dueling operating system contestants to sign up for our RSS feed, we enjoyed a spike in subscriptions and new readers.  Chairman Mal has provided us with our most entertaining comments providing laughter, fear and loathing in the way only a truly gonzo mind can do.  Joe Clark has provided us with serious issues to debate and has brought over a lot of readers from his blog to BC.  I really enjoy all of the private emails I get from people in the AT biz thanking me for making some ballsy statements about their employers, products or competitors.  Now that I’m out of the biz for nearly four years, I think and write about it less often and keep information leaked to me under my hat as I don’t need the aggravation, I’m a lazy slob…


I do find the growth of interest in and work going on in the free (as in freedom with a lower case “f”) segment of the AT world very interesting.  NVDA and FireVox, two programs I’m just now studying, have impressed me in a way that I haven’t felt too often in the recent history of AT software.  I love the free software, GPL model for this market as it provides the community with the liberty to invent our own technological destinies rather than relying on a hope and a prayer that a closed source and closed minded AT company will get around to fixing our favorite bugs, supporting the applications we need or want to use and creatively innovating into new areas discussed on this blog and others.  The Diaspora of blind hackers can, if we work together, create some tremendously cool stuff that would be cut out of a specification as too risky by the AT companies.  With NVDA and other programs, we have a good platform from which to launch what will be the next few generations of the AT we need.


Well, I’m off to get a yellow Labrador tattoo of the likeness of my guide dog on my left forearm.  I hope you have fun days as well.


— End


Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential

Phone Call

Our phone rang a few minutes ago.  As I sat next to a receiver I answered.  A young woman came on to inform me that my wife has a medical appointment with a “Doctor Smith” tomorrow at ten.


My initial thought, “Yeah, Doctor Smith, that’s your real name,” nearly came out of my mouth but this is the kinder, softer and gentler BC who still startles himself when he withholds a perfectly obnoxious comment.


I called Susan, my lovely wife, to the phone and then thought, “Hmm… Doctor Smith, ‘Warning, Warning, Will Robinson, Warning, Warning…” and thought of asking if he might have gotten himself lost in space at some point in his lifetime.  Then, based upon the sound of the receptionist’s voice, it occurred to me that our ages probably differ by about 25 years and that her birth may have happened after “Lost in Space” stopped running in reruns.


How many cultural cornerstones did I grow up with that people who have grown to adulthood have missed altogether?


Recently, on cable channels, Time/Life has been pushing the complete first season, including the rare color pilot of “Man From UNCLE” for a mere $29.95 if I act now.  Do younger adults have a clue as to how wonderful this show was back in its day?  What of the Avengers and its S&M overtones, did those reruns last long enough to inform and pervert this new group of adults?


Do these younger adults realize that Morticia Addams was, without a question, the sexiest woman in the history of television?  Do they understand that Eartha Kitt as Catwoman and Natasha Nogoodnik, a cartoon character, tied for second place?


Maybe Jeanie and the still beautiful Barbara Eden on “Love Boat” reruns may have sunk in as they seemed to be replayed for years.  Did Dawn Wells do anything in her post Gilligan years?  Her Mary Ann beat Daisy Duke hands down for the hottest butt in cut-offs.  Julie Newmar and Lee Merriweather the other Catwomen deserve a solid mention and Bat Girl, even though she appears in only a few episodes, taught us eight year olds the true meaning of serious leather.


Sure, Tuesday Weld tantalized as a good girl but it was the bad girls that caused that inexplicable feeling of warmth in our shorts.  I’m sure I’m missing quite a few from that era so please send in comments on your favorite hotties in television history.


To be fair, I’m a heterosexual male so my list is made up entirely of women.  The gay men and female readers should add male hotties as I never found Earnest Bourgnine nor Gomer Pyle terribly attractive.


— End

Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential

Office Suites and Search Engines

For what seemed like an eternity, the battle for mainstream software was fought over office suites and for primary AT over how well they supported office applications.  No major software vendor could not have a suite even if it comprised little more than a bunch of marginally related programs held together by a bungee cord.


Around 1994, Perfect Office from WordPerfect Corporation and Microsoft Office from MS dominated the market but Lotus SmartSuite: 1-2-3 for Windows, Ami, a weird word processor that didn’t understand the WYSIWYG concept terribly and some random and long forgotten database program that I can’t recall anyone actually using still had inroads into professional environments where 1-2-3 remained king.  Not to be outdone, Borland bundled Sprint, a really bad word processor, with Quatro Pro for Windows (which actually contained some code I wrote), Paradox and Sidekick for Windows which the Accessories that ship with Windows more or less obviated.  Another oddity involving Borland was that Quatro Pro and Paradox were also the spreadsheet and database in Perfect Office through their partnership with the WordPerfect guys.


Soon afterward, WordPerfect was, in what would be the largest acquisition of a private company up to that point in history, was purchased by Novell for $1.1 billion.  Novell knew a lot about selling complex networking systems to corporations but nothing about marketing works packages to end consumers.  A few years later, Novell would sell the WP division to Corel for $100 million.  I sent Bob Frankenberg, then CEO of Novel an email suggesting that the next time he wants to spend a net one billion dollars and get nothing in return that he should call me and I’d save him the headache of a lot of legal wrangling involved in such large transactions.  Bob didn’t reply.


Meanwhile, the Borland board of directors forced Philippe Kahn, the heart and soul of the company out of the business and PK went off and started Starfish Software which he would later sell to Motorola for a bundle of cash.  The new Borland leadership hadn’t a clue and, today, the company, after a few name changes, still exists and is called Borland again but no one can explain what they actually sell.


A little more than a decade later, the search engine has replaced the office suite as the top dog in the drive for dominance in the software world.  Google clearly leads the pack but, in Vista, it seems that I can’t hit a TAB or do much else without landing in something that will search my email, my desktop, my hard disks my documents (inside and out) and nearly everything else one might accidentally misplace. 


Searching the Internet is a really important task that grows more important as the web increases in content And complexity.  The sheer enormity of data on the web makes finding almost anything popular nearly impossible as one will get more hits than they could read in a lifetime.  Google seems to do a better job of this than anyone else but common search criteria, for instance, I searched for a friend of mine who is now a Catholic priest.  Have you any idea how many guys named Father Kelly live in or around the New York and Boston areas with their huge Irish immigrant populations?


All of the big players seen to think I need a search button bar or control in nearly everything I own.  Saving a new file in MS Word or, even worse, trying to open one, provides me with a bazillion search options.  I’m a really organized guy.  All of our PCs back up daily to our home server and the big back up disk backs up to another for redundancy sake.  I have loads of files and folders that I find easy to navigate and the files for which I want to read or edit at any given moment.  Does everyone else forget the names of their files and folders and just leave them strewn about their disks?


On the other side of the coin, while Microsoft tries to muscle its way into the search biz, Google is building an office suite.  Thus, we’ll have MS Office and MS Live Search plus Google Office and Google searches to help us find the things we misplaced on our local computers and home networks.


Competition is great but it also seems that MS and Google are trading blows in a manner that could be more innovative way.  Before MS got heavily into search utilities, they made a really good Office suite; before Google got into the office suite biz, they had a really great search facility.  Why don’t these very rich companies try to go out and build new technologies that are currently not served very well rather than trying to grab a piece of the other guy’s sandbox.  Go to the beach, there’s enough sand for everyone there.


n  End


Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential

Visit From Boris Part 1

By Gonz Blinko


“Somebody called me on the phone,

They said, hey, hey is BC home,

Ya wanna take a walk?

Ya wanna go cop?

Ya Wanna get some Chinese rock.”

n      The Ramones


The house boat phone rang and Samhara answered.  “Are you here?” She shouted in a way that the caller would certainly here.


“Sure, why not, who is it?”  I answered and asked.




“Really?”  I asked as I reached for the handset.  “What does he want?”


“How should I know, I just answered the phone and called you?”


Speaking into the phone, I said, “Doctor Blinko.”


“Boris Throbaum,” he said, “What’s up with this Doctor thing?”  Did you get yourself a PhD?”


“Sure did,” I replied, “I got an email that said that if I sent $30 to a University in Kansas, I would be granted a PhD from any of the top universities in the world.”


“So,” Boris started trying to hold back laughter, “Which university do you have a PhD from?”


“Edinborough .”


“Why did you pick Edinborough?”


“Well, for starters, I have never been to Scotland so no one can claim they saw me there.  Next, I don’t know a single person associated with the university so they can’t claim that my work sucked and, finally, I liked the idea of a university with such an ancient tradition.”


“Why didn’t you pick Krakow?”


“I don’t speak Polish and I have visited the place.”


“Makes sense.”  Added Boris.


“Ok, with that aside, what can we do for you?”


“I’m in Florida up at BC’s place and wanted to visit you.”


“Sure, it would be fun seeing you.”


“What’s your address,” asked Boris.


“Hang on,” I said and yelled to Samhara, “Where are we?”


Sam responded with three numbers separated by periods and I repeated the sequence to Boris.


“Excuse me?”  He asked, “What the fuck do those numbers mean?”


“They are GPS coordinates, we don’t exactly have an address other than those coordinates and the description that we’re in the 10,000 islands region of the western Glades not terribly far from Dismal Key.”


“I have a rental, how do I drive to this place?”


“Well, you drive to EvergladesCity and a friend of ours will run you out on his skiff.”


“I need a boat to get to you.”


“No, a friend of ours, calls himself Chuck, needs a boat to bring you out to us.  You don’t need a boat, you need a ride on one.”


          * – * – * –


“Samhara?”  I asked.


“Yeah Gonz,” she replied as we sat in the screened in roof deck atop our house boat.


“How long have we been running together?”  I probably could remember if I tried but I wanted to hear my lesbian attorney tell the story in her beautiful African?  West Indian?  Jamaican?  Accent.  I never learned exactly where she came from and as she never told me, I didn’t want to pry.


“Oh, you remember,” she started, “You got your ass tossed in the lock up in Kingston and I had just started out as an international attorney and somehow I got your case and got your bony white ass out of Jamaica and later they dropped the charges.”


“What year?”


“It would be 1988, it’s our twentieth anniversary.”


“You know,” I started, “In all of that time, neither of us got into a really long term relationship.  Neither of us got married either formally or otherwise.”


“And?”  She asked.


“Why not, why do we always end up living and running together?”


“Don’t know.”


“Are we in love?”


“Define love,” demanded Samhara.


“Fuck it.”


          * – * – * – * –


A few days later, while I was pitching lures into the mangroves in hopes of scaring up a snook for dinner, I heard Chuck yell to me from his skiff running on his electric trolling motor in water this shallow.  “I’ve got one serious asshole for delivery, if you do not sign for him, I’m leaving him on some obscure island to die from starvation and exposure.”


“Hey Chuck,” I yelled and heard Samhara starting to laugh.  It had been five days since Boris called and invited himself into our floating abode and I was starting to think he might have thought better of the visit.


Chuck pulled the skiff along side and Samhara started laughing out loud.  “What’s so funny?”  I asked.


“If you could only see,” choked Samhara through her laughter.


“See what?”  I asked starting to get annoyed.


“Boris…”  She stammered and fell into useless hysterics.


Chuck piped up, “Your weird and annoying friend is wearing a Hawaiian print short sleeve shirt, silk Tommy Bahama shorts, Sperry Topsiders and a fucking pith helmet.  He’s carrying shopping bags from a bunch of designer stores and he screamed at me every time water sprayed onto the skiff.”


I started laughing and Boris, now realizing that he was the center of some kind of freakish joke shouted, “What’s so goddamned funny?”


“You,” said Sam and Chuck almost simultaneously as she helped him with his shopping bags as he stepped onto the house boat.


“I’m tripling my fee if I’ve gotta run him home,” added Chuck, “Of all of your weird, fucked up, twisted bastard friends, this one takes the fucking cake.  If you get annoyed with him, I can use him for crab bait.”  Chucked motored off slowly and yelled, “Samhara, I love you!”


Sam replied, “Cut off your penis and we’ll talk.”


          * – * – * –


“Where’s my room?” Asked Boris.


“We don’t exactly have rooms.  We set up a cot for you on our roof deck.”


“The roof?”  Asked Boris.


“Yup,” said Samhara who then asked, “Where did you get all of this designer shit?”


“I stopped in SouthBeach to hang with El Negro and did some shopping to get some Florida style clothes.”


I was wearing an old t-shirt with a huge fish blood stain on it, a pair of old cut offs, flip flops, sunglasses and a hat advertising some fishing tackle company.  “From what Sam says you brought with you, you spent a whole lot of money on clothing for a different Florida.  Out here, you wear crap that can be stained, ripped, covered with fish guts and, more than anything else, attire that you won’t care if its stained by the Coppertone Sport and Deet we practically bathe in.”


“But what if we go to a restaurant?”  Asked our befuddled old friend.


“You can see, take a look around, do you see anything resembling a place that may have a restaurant?”


“What do we eat?”


“I tend to catch a lot of fish and Chuck brings us a grocery run once or twice a week.”


“So, you mean we don’t leave this floating chunk of a trailer park?”


“Listen fuck-tard, this is our winter home and we really love the place,” snapped Samhara.


          * – * – * – * –


I climbed the ladder to the roof deck where the X-Dog was laying in a shady spot.  I could hear Boris following me and Samhara asking, “What do you want me to do with all of this shit?”  referring, of course to Boris’ new clothing.


“I’ll take care of it in a little while,” answered Boris with the first productive statement he made all day.


I sat near my dog and lit a cigarette.  Boris asked, “You guys have any beer?”








“Gin and tonic and lime?”




“What the fuck do you have?”


“Fresh grapefruit juice, some orange and a couple cases of Freska.”


“Vodka to put into the grapefruit juice.”




“No booze at all?”  He practically whimpered.




“What, did you guys become Mormons or something?”


“No, we got clean and sober.”


“Why?”  Asked a very puzzled Boris.


“Our lives had become unmanageable, we were always in trouble, we were completely unreliable and we would probably be dead if we kept going.”


“No intoxicants at all?”


“We smoke a little chronic a few times per year and Sam has a cocktail here and there but otherwise we enjoy thinking clearly.”


“Shit, I’d have brought booze if I knew it would be like this.”


“Look around, hundreds of species of birds, an amazing estuary for fishing and fish watching, American crocodiles, alligators, – in the cooler months living out here alone with Sam is a life second to none.”


“Damn Gonz, you have gone mental.”


“that’s Doctor Blinko to you.”


-*-* – * – * –


I left Boris on the deck with his thoughts and climbed down to help Samhara prepare a blackened redfish dinner.  As I started chopping up tomatoes and onions with a Damascus steel knife, Sam asked quietly, “A life with me is one second to none?”


“I hadn’t thought about it much but when I’m with you, when we’re here in the Glades, when we read and write and talk, well, it is second to nothing else I, we have ever really done.”


“Even without sex,” asked Sam.


“Sure,” I replied.


“Are we in love,” she asked.


“Define love,” I insisted.


“Fuck it,” replied Sam.


          * – * – * – * –


We awoke to Boris yelling something.  I climbed out of my bunk and shouted, “What the hell are you doing?”


“It’s raining.”

Starting to actually wake up, I felt a few drops and said, “No shit.”


“What am I supposed to do?”  Asked our guest.


“Well, you might start by getting out of the rain,” I answered as sarcastically as possible.




“Come down and we’ll make some coffee in the kitchen.”


Boris skittered down the ladder and said, “At least you guys haven’t given up coffee.  It does have caffeine right Gonz?”


“Of course it has caffeine and that’s Doctor Blinko to you.”


Samhara got up, naked as usual and dove off the lower deck for her morning swim.


“What a fucking waste,” stated Boris in a matter of fact manner.


“What do you mean?”


That such a perfect specimen of the female form is a dyke.”


“Fuck you Boris,” I said as I started preparing the coffee.


“What, what did I do?”


“Just fuck you, that’s all, F U C K you.”


****To be continued****

Subscribe to the Blind Confidential RSS Feed at: Blindconfidential