Thursday, October 26, 2017

Different concert experiences

After my recent concert experience, I wanted to reflect on previous concert experiences and my hearing.

The very first concert, I was still in high school (it was summer time, when I was about to be a senior in school), and it was in Denver. Of course, it was a Hanson concert. They were doing their Underneath Acoustic tour at the time, and I really wanted to attend a show. This was my first concert experience, and I remember being in complete awe to even be in the same venue as the band. At this concert, I was able to get close enough to front row, so I was able to see the guys and I had decent enough hearing, even though I only had just one lone hearing aid at the time. I did have to fiddle with hearing aid at times, but it wasn't bad.

The second concert experience was another Hanson concert the following year for their Underneath tour. My mom and stepdad took me to Kansas City, Missouri for this concert (we made a trip of it, stopping in Omaha for a bit and whatnot). I even had won a meet & greet pass for this particular concert, but because I didn't always have constant internet connection (I would quickly check my emails in the hotel's "business center"), I had no idea the time for the meet and greet had been moved up so I actually missed it. But the guy who worked for Hanson and handled the meet and greets was able to make up for my missing it by getting me back stage right after the concert so I could get their autographs, which was really nice of him to do.  Anyway, during the concert, I had front row but had a heck of a time trying to hear at first. The guys came on stage and started playing, and all I heard was the audience echoing in the venue. Ugh! It was miserable. I fiddled with my hearing aid, trying to find the right setting... I ended up taking the hearing aid off, and whoa... I could hear the music. Wow. It was loud enough over the speakers that I didn't even need my hearing aid in! I was then a happy camper once I discovered this. As I said earlier, I was taken back stage so I could meet the guys and get their autographs.. well, of course, because I was amazed that I could hear the music with no hearing aid, I had to share this fact with the guys. Taylor thought it was great!

I've gone to three more Hanson concerts since this tour, once in Charlotte, N.C. in Oct. 2007 (I flew out to S.C. to stay with an online Hanson fan friend and we went to this concert together), once in Minneapolis in Set. 2008 (I stayed with my uncle who lived in Minneapolis at this time and I met up with some members at the venue), and another one in Denver in Nov. 2008 (in which I went to this concert with my stepdad's niece as I had a spare ticket). In Charlotte and Minneapolis, I was up in the balconies, and there was more fiddling with the hearing aid, taking it off, and trying to find the best way to listen to the music. The second Denver concert, I was on the floor close to front. Don't think I did too much fiddling with the hearing aid then.

in Charlotte, NC (Oct. 11, 2007)

Minneapolis, MN (Sept. 28, 2008)

Denver, CO (Nov. 8, 2008) 

I did attend a local concert once... if I remember right, it was a Skillet concert, but Hawk Nelson was opening, and that was who I wanted to see. I liked some of their music, even if I wasn't completely familiar with their stuff as I am with Hanson, but it was a different concert experience. I remember trying an assistive listening device that the venue had available for deaf/hoh people, and that just plain did not work out. I gave up on the device, and just relied on my hearing aid. I left shortly after Skillet hit the stage and headed home.

After I had gotten my left cochlear implant, I bought a ticket to a Michael Jackson tribute show that was taking place locally. Kenny Wizz was the performer, and he was doing his HIStory Tour. Since I am never going to have the chance of seeing an actual Michael Jackson concert, I thought this would be the closest I would get, since I grew up on Michael Jackson's music (as a child, I was absolutely fascinated with his music videos, appreciating all the visual aspects and creativity he included). Anyway, I really enjoyed this show. I was able to follow along with the music, though it sounded different because it was a different person singing the songs. It would take me a while to figure out/recognize the song Kenny was doing, but I would always figure it out.  It was a different experience, but very enjoyable. There were visuals and dancers while Kenny put on a great Michael Jackson tribute show.

It would be three years after going bilateral before I would finally make it to another concert. Hanson, again! This year marks their 25th anniversary as a band (they were 6, 8/9, and 11 when they started), and 20 years since "Middle of Nowhere" was released. Because of these anniversaries, the brothers wanted to do a world tour, playing their greatest hits at the concerts. I figured, this would be a great "first" concert with bilateral implants, and it was! Not once did I have to mess with my implant processors; they automatically took care of everything. Volume was not too loud, but just perfect. When the audience screamed, that did not hurt in the slightest bit as my processors automatically controlled it.  It was a fantastic show and I absolutely loved it! I loved being able to hear with both ears, and to hear clearly too! I also was really aware of the vibrations from the music. I really enjoyed myself at this concert, hearing the music in stereo, and also feeling the vibrations of the music through the floor of the balcony. I would have to say, this concert was the best concert, sound-wise, for me.

Denver, CO ( Oct. 14, 2017)

Having bilateral cochlear implants has truly made a world of difference for me, and I could not be more pleased. I can only imagine I'd be enjoying even more concerts with bilateral hearing in the future, whenever that may be.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Concert weekend!

Finally the time had come, it was inching closer and closer to the day I would travel down to Denver for a concert! This would be my first concert with bilateral cochlear implants, and while I was extremely excited about the concert, I wasn't sure of how things would sound. I recalled issues I experienced at past concerts with a single hearing aid, and hoped I wouldn't have to worry this time.

First things first... on Friday the 13th, I had an appointment with the CI audiologist who made her trip here to meet with clients. We weren't doing any actual adjustments, as I don't have any insurance coverage at this point and didn't quite have the finances to pay for a mapping session. She did update the software on my Naidas though, and we switched out the T-mic filters. I swear things were louder after the switch! I was then on my way. I greeted my dog Bryan as I got back into my car (I had my car all packed up and ready to go, and brought the dog along so I could take him straight to the vet for boarding after my appointment, which was quick).

I dropped Bryan off, and was on my way! I hit the interstate heading south, and jammed out to Hanson the entire way down. I mean, I'm going to a Hanson concert, so why not! I was going to enjoy myself and have a fun Hanson-y weekend.  I made it to Denver and checked into my hotel close to the downtown area, and just hung out in my room for the rest of the evening. I was tired after a long drive, and just hitting the Denver traffic was enough to stress me out.

I tried to watch some TV in my room while I was relaxing, but I could not figure out how to turn on the captions. The remote didn't work properly and I couldn't navigate the menu options (the arrow buttons only changed the channel/volume, rather than go through selections like they should have). So I gave up and focused on my iPad, wishing I had brought my laptop along too. Ah well. I made the best of it.

The next day, I got up and got dressed. I texted with a friend of mine, who made the trip to Denver from Omaha for the concert, and we made plans to meet up and hang out, something we both were very much looking forward to doing! We have been internet friends for 20 years, meeting through a Hanson e-pals list online (like pencils, but via emails instead). Over the years, we would not only continue with emails, but chat on AIM/MSN/whatever messenger was popular at the time, become MySpace friends, Facebook friends, Twitter, etc. We tried to meet up once a few years ago during a trip to Omaha (my mom and I like to make occasional trips to Omaha), but it never happened. She ended up picking me up from the hotel and we made our way downtown, hunting for a parking spot so we could have lunch. We lunched at the Cheesecake Factory, and then drove around, trying to find something to do. We ended up at Hammond's Candies and checked out their shop (we were too late for a tour, which would have been cool to do but perhaps another time).

Eventually we made our way back to my hotel room and hung out for a bit, charging up our phones and getting ready for the concert. Uber was called and we got a ride to the venue, and waited in line until the doors open. We did lose track of one another after I went to check out the merchandise that was being sold, so I made my way up the stairs and ended up with a pretty decent view. I did find my friend in the crowd and we texted back and forth throughout the night.

Lights dimmed, and the brothers Hanson came on stage to start the concert. I was stoked! My first concert with bilateral cochlear implants, hearing with BOTH ears (for once I am at a concert, hearing in stereo!). I was thrilled that I was able to hear the music well, not hearing too much from the audience. At one point, Taylor was encouraging the audience to scream, as he always does, and boy did they ever scream. But, it did not bother me or hurt my ears in the slightest bit. I was real pleased with my implants and how they handled high volumes. The concert was at a perfect volume for me without being too loud. It was great! And of course, being the camera geek I am, I took tons of photos and recorded several videos. I absolutely enjoyed myself at this concert. The concert ended, and I found my friend outside by the tour bus and we hung out some more while I waited in line for the after party.

Taylor Hanson has been doing after parties in some cities after the concerts, acting as the DJ. I had read from others online who said the afterparties could get awkward, with fans just standing there staring at this musician playing songs off his MacBook, but I figured it could be fun to at least experience it anyway. Back into the venue I went, with a brand new wrist band (we had to get wrist bands for the concert too), and was right up front off to the side.  I watched Taylor do his thing as DJ, but didn't stay for the whole thing as it was getting cold out and my friend was still out there waiting. Didn't want her to freeze to death. I found her, she called for another Uber, and back to my hotel we went. She got her stuff out of my room and headed back to her hotel.

Sunday, I slowly got up and going. Checked out of the hotel, and made my way to a Krispy Kreme to buy a dozen pack of donuts, eat some lunch at another location, and then finally hitting the road. I swear, the drive home seemed to take much longer! Sure was real glad when I made it back home and back into my own place. My dog would have to wait until the next day to be picked up as I didn't arrive back into town until about 5ish (the vet is only open from 4-4:30 on weekends for pick ups and drop offs so I missed the pick up time). First thing I did the following day was get Bryan picked up and taken home, and he sure was happy to get back home too!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Kudos to Home Depot!

One day early in this month, I received an email from Home Depot requesting I call a certain number to set up for a job interview (I had applied online). I called the number via the Sprint Internet Relay, and went through the process. We eventually set up the interview for August 16th, and I was really looking forward to this interview!

Fast forward to the morning of Aug. 16. I quickly checked my emails, and noticed I had an email from Home Depot. Oh no! Oh wait... They wanted to reschedule my interview so they could have an interpreter on hand. Really? I didn't even request an interpreter. I guess because I called using the relay, they decided they should go ahead and call for an interpreter.  Ok, props to them. I appreciate their efforts! But I was disappointed that the interview had been postponed. I called the local Home Depot number and told them I appreciated their efforts, but I would be absolutely fine to do an interview without an interpreter on site. The person I spoke with said she would inform HR and that HR would take it from there.

Yesterday, I received another email, from HR. Apparently they were still trying to get a hold of an interpreter, and asked if I could wait until a later date, when this out of state interpreter would be available. I responded and said I would be happy with this date, but again, I do not need an interpreter. I explained that I have bilateral cochlear implants and get by without needing an interpreter. I mean, I do still struggle with the phone (it's more of a me issue, I.E. "did I hear this person right? huh?" and anxiety). When making phone calls, I still prefer to use the relay... it's handy to be able to read what is being said, and also be able to save the transcript after the call has ended, if needed. I know there are captioning apps (CapTel, InnoCaption), but it requires actually using my phone and then I would be paying extra on my cell bill (I only have the text and data plan, no voice plan added).

But seriously, kudos to Home Depot for going that extra step! All the other potential job interviews I've gone to in the past has never gone out of their way to accommodate me just for an interview. Normally, if I absolutely feel like I need interpreting or accommodations of some sort, I will request it, which is pretty rare for me to do outside of classes. I really absolutely do appreciate Home Depot's efforts though.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017

This is my video of the total solar eclipse that happened August 21, 2017 in Wyoming, right in the path of totality.

I live right in the path of totality, which was pretty neat. No traveling necessary. Just drove the few blocks over to my mom's, and we chilled out in her backyard with our cameras. This was the first time we've experienced a total solar eclipse, and of course we had to pull out our cameras and capture some shots. It was very interesting to feel the temperatures drop as the moon moved across the sun, watching as daylight darkened. As it got darker, the solar-powered lights that were scattered around the backyard lit up. I meant to take some photos or get a video shot of the lights having turned on, but missed the chance.  As we reached totality, we could hear the entire neighborhood cheer! That was pretty awesome. Some fireworks went off too, from the sounds of it.

Here are some of my photos:

Afterwards, I did go back downtown to the festival, just to roam around and mingle for a bit. I didn't know what else to do with my day!

It was most definitely a very interesting, exciting day.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

What is that beeping?!

For weeks, late at night, I'd hear this beeping sound out of nowhere.  😲 I would go around my apartment into different rooms, checking the smoke detectors and all, and could never figure out where the beeping sound was coming from. I always gave up, and decided it must have just been my imagination.... My brain playing tricks on me (wouldn't be the first time!).

Well, just last night (okay, make that VERY EARLY this morning), the beeping started again. What the?! I looked at the time on my laptop, and it's 1 a.m. Then I got to looking at my watch, as the beeping seemed to get louder as I moved my left arm/hand closer to my head. Lo and behold! The alarm on the watch is set to go off at 1 a.m. I'm not sure how I managed that.... But mystery solved! I turned off the alarm signal. 🔕

At least now I know it's my watch, and I can quit worrying about the smoke detectors or thinking I'm losing my mind! 😄

I don't think I would have ever heard this with just a hearing aid.... The beeping wasn't that loud. But it's enough that I can hear it with my cochlear implants, even if it takes me weeks to figure out what it is.

Is this wall deaf or something?

Oh the  joys of having magnetic headpieces.... Anything metal will attract the headpiece and steal the entire processor right off my ear!

But the fun part of having magnets under the scalp.... I can stick paperclips, metal bottle caps, or other small metal items to my head for the fun of it!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Connecting with Supernatural 12x11: Regarding Dean

Watching Season 12 of Supernatural on Netflix these days, and episode 11, “Regarding Dean” comes up. Just what Sam was doing for Dean to help his memory, made me think of my own childhood. There’s Sam, writing names to objects of their hotel room onto post-it notes and sticking them onto the actual objects. My mom did this when I was a kid, as a way to help me learn the name of the different objects. Being a deaf kid, I didn’t always hear the words, and it was while I was also learning how to read too. Being able to read these words on notecards taped to different objects helped me. It helped with my reading, and it helped me learn how to identify different things. I learned how to make the connection between different words to objects.

It’s funny how something in a TV show or movie will bring back memories.

Dean: This is a gun. This is a coat. This is a…a…a… light stick.

Sam: A light st– All right. We’re gonna get you some help.

Dean: Look, we could figure this out, okay? Don’t go callin’ Mom or Cass with this.

Sam: Fine, but until you get better…(Sam puts post-it note on the lamp with the word “LAMP”)

Dean: Lamp. Right. So close.

There was also a scene where Dean is watching a security surveillance video from when he followed someone out of the back of a bar, and he was trying to read his own lips. This
made me laugh

Dean: I’m trying to read my lips. “Now salsa you mittens”

Sam: You can’t read lips.

Dean: I can’t read lips.

This is true for many D/deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals. A lot of hearing people seem to think just because we're deaf/hoh, we can very easily lip-read everything. Not true. And I'm proof of that. I'm a horrible lip-reader, can't lip-read to save my life really. I can only read lips if I also have the auditory input. Take one or the other away, and I'm lost.
My teachers at the deaf school worked hard with all of us, teaching us how to lip-read and listen, trying to give us as many tools as we could carry in our toolbox for life. They wrote sentences and words on pieces of paper, laid them out on the table/desk/floor/wherever we are sitting, and they will say the sentence/words and hope we pick out the right piece of paper. For listening, they would cover their mouths; for lipreading, they turned off their voices. We had a lot of practice as kids, but lipreading just didn't stick with me. Now as an adult, even with bilateral cochlear implants, I still need a combination of tools to make sense of what is going on around me.

SPN quotes and graphic came from