We are on Boys’ Retreat, Randy and me. Memorial week at the lake. Just the two of us. And my gizmos and gadgets.
I am the King of the iCloud. With my devices, I listen to a best-seller, surf the Net, text my buddies, tune in to the BBC and tell which can is refried beans and which is dog food.
But my simplest tool might be the most valuable. With my slate and stylus, I Braille label my environment. The water shut-off valve. The air conditioner. To do lists.
I love my gizmos and gadgets. They connect me with other people and the world. I love the feeling of mastery they give me. But without electricity and cell phone towers and satellites, I am deaf, mute and blind.
A decade ago, I tried to coax my middle-aged fingers into making sense out of the little Braille bumps. It did not come easy. I got frustrated. I was angry that I needed to learn Braille at all. Then I took a Braille by mail class from the Hadley School and learned my alphabet and numbers. I labeled my stuff. I never intended to read War and Peace in Braille. I leave that to friends who learned Braille as kids. They’re the experts; I remain a rank amateur.
Today, my first task is to Braille a list of cable TV channels. The channels have different numbers up here in Wisconsin. I want to tune in the White Sox game. They’re in first place. I’m ready to punch dots, working backward. I’ll start at the top of the dial, with 2 ABC. I think I can handle that. I’ll work my way up to the tougher letters like TNT and WGN down the line. But I’ll get them all sooner or later. I have to. The White Sox are counting on me.