Friday, December 2, 2016

NOT a Christmans Carol: My Home's in Montana

What this season needs is...

...drum roll please...

...random musical moments having almost nothing to do with the upcoming holiday buying binge!

RantWoman means to aim for approximately weekly offerings for awhile. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

NOT Giving Tuesday

RantWoman in charge of your organization's PR? RUN FOR THE HILLS.

RantWoman's email inbox is overflowing with worthy organiztaions seeking contributions as part of #GivingTuesday. RantWoman is considering many invitations but in the meantime RantWoman has a NOT Giving problem.

Oh, wait, here RantWoman is going to bend over backwards and attempt a couple attitudinal backflips and extend a GIANT benefit of the doubt about well-meaning nonprofits that maybe sometimes do not get all their phone calls returned. RantWoman is not going to name the Greenwood area organization that has not returned phone calls from multiple very capable representatives of the organization that would be happy to contribute to a neighborhood food drive.

RantWoman is going to mention the word BLIND so that maybe the neighborhood organization will recognize itself and figure out how to return phone calls. Look, a local chapter of a blind organization would be really happy to contribute to a neighborhood food drive. We might like to show up and photograph ourselves so that we can put the event in a newsletter and maybe inspire other chapters to do the same thing. We might blow everyone's mind by showing up on the bus or some other way besides personally driven vehicles. But the point is, we would be glad to contribute to the food drive!

RantWoman imagines that people from said blindness organization might sometimes have benefitted from such food drives. RantWoman further imagines that that people come through the doors of the food drive organization who might benefit from connections with other blind people. In other words, what do y'all have to lose? If you recognize yourselves, don't leave a comment for RantWoman unless you truly cannot find the phone numbers several people have left you. Word?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Preparedness, thankfully.

This week in Disaster #Preparedness:

When the power goes out just as the faith community's potluck Thanksgiving feast is about to start:

--Be glad there is a gas stove.

--Make mental note to ask the relevant committee to MAYBE consider more than one battery-powered light, for instance for the windowless restrooms. Oh, and a crank device for recharging other devices...

--Remind people of the 3 sink + bleach dishwashing sanitation routine everyone used to know before the faith community got a zippy modern washes in 3 minutes but loading / unloading causes people back strains new modern dishwasher.

--Be thankful for the CityLight crews on call to fix...

--Remember that the TWO rounds of crockery crashing to the floor from a cupboard with unstable shelving probably has NOTHING to do with the power outage.

At a greater distance:

Be thankful for bus schedules. In spite of the rain, RantWoman was  glad to have legroom on a bus and not to have to figure out comfort in  , say, some kind of carshare.

Be thankful for a friend living in Costa Rica who checked in online
ne as safe during Hurricane Otto.

Pick from any number of newsworthy war zones, earthquake localles, and protest sites. Be glad NOT to be there no matter how much one cares about the issues.

Now settle back, COUNT BLESSINGS, and reflect about how wonderful it is to add Cointreau to the traditional cranberry orange relish.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Final Design Open House: Judkins park station

RantWoman meant to post this a good while ago. RantWoman posts it here just for the record.

Quick notes, Impressions from the most recent Sound Transit final design open house  at the NW African American Museum for the Judkins Park / Rainier Avenue link station and accompanying other changes.
Sound Transit Judkins Park Station project page

Warning: there is ONE visual. One, to appreciate aawesome Open House Swag: Hi vis zipper pulls as captured by RantWoman's Smartphone, accidentally mimicking RantWoman's visual experience.

The latest in SoundTransit swag: reflective zipper pulls
The rest of this is words. Sorry all you visual thinkers. You are going to have to use your words just like Blind people do, and RantWoman is penning this a little too late at night to be as gentle about such points as she aspired to during the day.

No, RantWoman did not spend the whole presentation period yelling at the presenters to please use the mic. RantWoman did do this a couple times and thought about doing it a couple more times. Then RantWoman decided she needed to save her breath and general RantWoman presence for other causes.

Yes, of COURSE there was Powerpoint and thus by definition enough Death by Powerpoint moments to send RantWoman on a fantasy involving a mobile hot spot, presentations on the web and ways for people to click in and follow the presentation on devices 12 inches away instead of many feet away. On the other hand, RantWoman has learned that the world does not necessarily stop if she does not interact with every digital scribble in a Powerpoint deck. On the third hand, sometimes RantWoman remembers to make reasonable accommodations requests either for copies of the Powerpoint via email or for links to a web location. Sometimes RantWoman remembers to make such requests. RantWoman did not remember to make such a request. So for now we will rely on RantWoman's cultivated sort of somewhat enhanced capacity to focus orally on key points and on RantWoman's memory.

RantWoman takes note again: the existing ramp up to the Rainier flyer bus stops is too steep for people in manual wheelchairs. The only wheelchair RantWoman has talked to about this problem usually just rides the bus further downtown and makes connections via the International district tunnel station.

For the record, RantMom with her cane also is not too crazy about the steep ramp; if she were travelling regularly, we might complain louder. As it is, the ID workaround is a fallback.

RantWoman mentions the steep ramp problem though because adding an elevator on the Rainier side of the station will be a step forward in accessibility. Adding TWO elevators, one for each side of the tracks would be better, but there are details like cost and preserving SOME of the existing bridge structure. (on the pro-2 elevator side, ask RantWoman about a certain 3-week-long elevator outage at the pedestrian overpass over International Boulevard at the SeaTac station)

At the open house, RantWoman zero'd in on two questions.

1. Bicycle and pedestrian streams near the bicycle freeway, please excuse RantWoman the Mountains to Sound Greenway. When the new station opens, ther e will be:
--bicyclists commuting through the area and not wanting to be impeded by pedestrians
--Bicyclists wanting to use the bike lockers as they get on and off the light rail
--pedestrians who need to cross paths with the commuting bicyclists.

RantWoman very much appreciates that someone else asked a question about these two non-motorized people flows.  RantWoman can handle the response, basically 
"we haven't figured it out yet, except that leaves RantWoman wondering whether any substantial design adjustments should be considered. Maybe the world just goes out and gets data with the design as it is and then for future stations....

2. The at-grade track crossing, necessary because of building only one elevator. This one did not come up in the presentation to the whole room. RantWoman is glad to have found the conversation about it after the public presentation. The points RantWoman came away with:
--RantWoman is still having trouble visualizing different elements of this including the track crossing.
--Provision HAS now been made at least to add tactile indicators such as yellow domes to the at-grade crossing path. This at least will help blind or deaf-blind riders find a safe crossing path.
--The at-grade crossing is on the side of the tracks where the train will be stopped in the station. The assumption is that the driver will see any pedestrians including  deaf or deaf-blind pedestrians and not start the train until the pedestrians are safely across the tracks.
--No there is not any kind of barrier system approved for this context and there are big liability concerns even trying to consider design of such a barrier system.
--Here somehow RantWoman thinks of the option of taking two stop light cycles to make it all the way across both tracks and both directions of traffic and of the barriers in use along MLK for the at-grade crossings NOT in the stations. RantWoman definitely would not mind understanding a little better exactly what is supposed to happen in the new station.

Additional notes:
At transit open houses, after the presentation, RantWoman tends to fog around, find someone's easel and ask what they are there to talk about. RantWoman scored when she did this and wound up talking to the representative from Metro tasked to talk about what will happen to the bus routes that usually stop at the Rainier Flyer station. RantWoman is wondering whether the final design session is too soon for the whole room to start to hear more about what will happen during construction.

Tonight's conversation mentioned either bus stops at Judkins and 23rd or bus stops on Rainier at Charles. RantWoman is a little unclear about details regarding both but does have a concern. RantWoman gets the concept of temporary bus stop but definitely strongly prefers that there be a stoplight near any place where there are bus stops boing both ways.

RantWoman ADORES the current I 90 flyer stop because on the right buses from the tunnel it is one stop  out of the bus tunnel to Rainier Avenue under the overpass. RantWoman thinks sending a bus out of the tunnel up Jackson and down 23rd or out of the tunnel and to something else along Rainier will add travel time, not just travel time but travel time in annoying stop and go traffic.  At this moment RantWoman does not have a better idea. Plus Metro has bright talented service planners who, in RantWoman's experience, listen well and get paid to think about such problems. So Here is a RantWoman vote encouraging them to do so.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The beginning and end of the 2016 WA Council of the Blind Annual Convention

RantWoman has this problem sometimes when she goes to big gatherings: it takes longer for her brain to get home than for her body. RantWoman's body has gotten home with an asterisk as described at the end of this post; her brain has not an her inbox is bulging besides.

RantWoman is still collecting and digesting experiences and impressions from the most recent WA Council of the Blind state convention. Here are a couple especially warm moments, though even the warm moments remind RantWoman there are things to follow up on.

Seatac Mayor Pam Fernald offers notes about her experiences

In her welcoming remarks, Mayor Fernald mentioned 3 gardens. RantWoman remembers there were three but only remembers  the name and story of one which Google seems to list jointly with a second.

Highline Botanical Gardens and Seiki Japanese gardens

Mental note for future convention planners: RantWoman enjoy s local sight seeing but cannot necessarily put excursions for herself together on short timelines. if we remember to consult with local contacts a little further upstream we can also help people plan to visit interesting local destinations. RantWoman would LOVE to hear in her various media streams that maybe a few people from the convention found their way to the gardens Mayor Fernald suggested.

RantWoman does live close enough for a day visit, there is a trip planner, and a trip to the gardens would probably make a cool excursion with RantMom.  A number of years ago RantMom moved to WA from MT but she is less likely to go find excursions on her own than to consult RantWoman so stay tuned.

RantWoman thanks Mayor Fernald for mentioning Bernie and his Guide Dog. This jogged RantWoman's memory about a topic RantWoman will post about separately.

Much else transpired between Mayor Fernald's opening remarks and the closing banquet but skip ahead to the closing banquet and presentation of a number of awards:

Steve Raible and Warren Moon Accepting WCB One World Award

Just watch the video! This IS RantWoman so there could certainly be more to say. But RantWoman was so touched by several circumstances and elements of the video that RantWoman is doing the best she can to save her ambivalence about sports for some other occasion.

Production note: the audio includes a lot of banquet silverware clinking. RantWoman also has enough vision to find the visuals panning a room with a cellphone induce vertigo so some readers may wish to ignore the visuals.  RantWoman is further used to securing photo releases or advising attenders that people may be video taping. This may be a quaint concern in the age of ubiquitous video possibilities, but RantWoman admits to being old school.  Aspiring podcasters and digital audio geeks can probably find a number of WA Council of the Blind members who might be able to help them work on such issues. RantWoman herself this week is working on better attribution about use of photos as well as the applicability of the word "editor" for this blog.

Getting to and fro was  no mean feat for Light Rail riders. See details:
SoundTransit Elevator Outage saga

Thankfully, RantWoman has also received notice that the elevator outage vexing 10 or so conference attendees who came and went by Light Rail, the outage which lasted from October 24 to November 10 or so has now been repaired, so next time RantWoman plans a trip to SeaTac....

Sunday, November 13, 2016


RantWoman's signed Ballot Envelope
From the curled up edged depths of RantWoman's drafts folder, while RantWoman tries to shepherd together something coherent from the actual results.

The RantWomen done VOTED,in time to get ballots into the mail weeks ago.

Set the Stage:
RantWoman arrived a little early for the usual Sunday supper with RantMom. RantWoman came toting the main course but the RantWomen were not quite ready to eat yet. Instead RantWoman pulled out a magnifier and fat pen and the RantWomen plunged into the side of the ballot with the candidates on it.

The soundtrack: Classic King. Something noodly and Baroque with bassoon continuo in inadvertent homage to the long deceased RantDad. Later Villa Lobos and something East European by someone from Brno. RantWoman was surprised the Classic King host seemed to have trouble with Villa Lobos' name, but never mind: this is about the voting.

Mind-altering substances? Nope! Ice water. RantWoman thought of wanting a stiff drink but stiff drinks are not to be had at RantMom's house and RantWoman did not think to bring anything stiffer than ice water.

The menu, trademarks intended; RantWoman's turn to "cook," though RantMom promised the dessert
carved turkey footlong with cranberry mustard on 9-grain bread
Sweet potato soup which would have been boring without dried cranberries and whole grain Goldfish crackers.
Homemade apple crisp

The olfactory experience: RantMom has a new burner. RantWoman who does not pay attention to burners in other people's houses innocently set the pan for warming ont eh soup on the new burner. The resulting odor of electronics seems like the perfect olfactory metaphor for hot mic tapes, email scandals, and media sucked down a vast tunnel of vapidness. Yo teams! Y'ALL can do better.

President? Do you have to ask?

Senator: Do you have to ask?

Congressional Representative: the RantWomen both live in Adam Smith's district so do you have to ask?

Lieutenant Governor: "just vote for the blind guy" is definitely a great problem to have. Honestly, RantWoman has observed retiring incumbent Brad Owen being, please excuse RantWoman for excessive bluntness, DULL AS PASTE while presiding over the Senate. RantWoman read a press article from early in the fall where Mr. Owen lectured Sen. Habib about how basically that is the job description; Sen Habib presented Constitutional analysis sufficient to convince RantWoman he knows what he is getting into. RantWoman wishes it were in the cards for Sen. Habib to become Senate majority leader but hopes he will be able to help move things past the Senate's partisan constipation about virtually everything.  RantWoman frets that Sen. Habib has too much personality for the job but she enthusiastically endorses him and not just because he is the blind guy!

Secretary of State: RantWoman respects Sec. Wyman for taking the time to pursue a specific certification related to her job. RantWoman heard interesting ideas from Councilmember Podlodowski but they seemed more visionary and technologically gee whiz than many counties in WA can carry out. Then RantWoman went back and forth about partisan considerations and the smell of partisanship in the campaign. Then RantWoman just shut up and the RantWomen made up our own minds. Whoever gets elected needs, however, to borrow from her opponent's

District Court judges: RantMom does not know what happened to her second half of the voters' Guide. RantWoman did NOT want to print out 150 pages of something she received in PDF RantWoman thought of consulting her phone for Stranger vs Seattle Times Bakeoff? Then the RantWomen decided that it has to be fine sometimes just to punt.

After supper, the initiatives
Advisory Votes? NOPE, RantWoman thinks people get elected to do jobs and RantWoman STILL refuses to second guess them even when there is a tax increase involved.

Proposition 1, #St3: Do you have to ask? RantWoman thinks the proposed package is a bit of a Christmas tree with more parking garages for instance than rantWoman would be crazy about. However, RantWoman thinks it long past time for the different counties of the Puget Sound to invest in things that knit the region together.

Here RantWoman will stop with one further shout out: RantWoman is THRILLED that she can get results in a simple txt file instead of a PDF that is hard to work with. RantWoman so far has not downloaded the results but is very grateful for the opportunity to do so.

As RantWoman types the world's stomach is churning about the results of the Presidential elections. Enough said. Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Elevator and ...Humor?

Please excuse RantWoman.

RantWoman has been collecting data about all sorts of things and until today RantWoman failed completely to appreciate the humor of the situation.

RantWoman has been complaining about matters related to this announcement posted October 24 on the @SoundTransit Website and updated October 28

Elevator Outage at International Boulevard Pedestrian Overpass

It is now Nov. 6. Only today has it occurred to RantWoman to check the Soundtransit website for alerts. The alert is still in effect; visual evidence from RantWoman's last ride home
Elevator, Sign still there

Honestly, lots of people have Smartphones. If there are going to be generic outage signs at sites such as the affected elevator, reminding people of the url and to check the website would not be terrible.

RantWoman and a number of other #blind people had particularly piquant experiences Nov. 3-5 while going between the SeaTac Airport station and the hotel where an annual WA Council of the Blind  convention was occurring.

RantWoman first learned of the problem Thursday afternoon. RantWoman has enough vision to read the sign; other blind people reported various forms of "help," help finding the stairs, help with something that took someone down to the not preferred side of International Boulevard.  There was also a gap between promises in program and reality on the convention side, but RantWoman did not hear any experience except her own about that point. RantWoman also did nothing to fix the gap between program and reality but will put the topic on the list for planning next year when the event will be in Pasco and RantWoman will get to learn about rather different transit realities.

RantWoman was able to find stairs and handle all 4 flights. RantWoman was also able to find a phone number of Sound Transit security. RantWoman put on her "member of the host chapter" hat. The nice woman RantWoman spoke with recognized the importance of RantWoman's point that there might be a number of blind people vexed. The nice operator nenver mentioned either the website or the workaround involving the Tukwila station and the A line. Sigh.

The operator also called RantWoman back to say they have the necessary part and "are working on it." RantWoman briefly nutured the hope that repairs might occur before it was time to go home. Silly RantWoman? Mention of the Tukwila option would have been fine help though then there would be the question of directions a blind person can follow. RantWoman would not have been able to call such to mind without going there to check things out.

A couple people complaining at convention reported hearing warning messages in the downtown transit tunnel. That is nice, but RantWoman never went to the tunnel. RantWoman is unclear whether anyone heard warning announcements in the train. RantWoman did not.

RantWoman realizes it MIGHT be prudent to check for alerts affecting one's route before setting out. This is not automatically a habit for RantWoman

RantWoman's real guffaws chimed in while grumbling to someone in her faith community. Turns out faith community person has even funkier story: Faith Community friend needed to catch a plane ona day when there was a blockage on the tracks serious enough that the train stopped at Othello station and people got buses to the airport.

Airports and transit frequently mean there is luggage too. Did the buses let people off at the transit point near the airport where people have paths that do not involve 4 flights of stairs? Nooooo! RantWoman burst out laughing. The only thing more "fun" that four flights of stairs is four flights of stairs while toting luggage!


After penning the comments above, RantWoman has still been scratching her head about life for wheelchair users especially when BOTH the elevator at the pedestrian overpass is out of order and people are being bused between link stations. If people are being bused between stations, there is no train to solve the problem of access to the airport for wheelchair users. Yet another reason besides luggage that RantWoman would strongly encourage Sound Transit to drop people at the transit hub at the other end of the airport where there is more plausible wheelchair access than at a stairwell with  4 flights of stairs rather than at S 176th St.

But then, RantWoman is not getting paid to figure this out and MAYBE she should leave the work to people getting paid.
Tough. One dollop of Free Advice!