SLUDGEAHOLIC OF THE MONTH
John Powell, III
Back around our 4th Anniversary, we had a post that thanked all the various Sludgeaholics. We mentioned fat Sludgeaholics, poor Sludgeaholics, crackhead Sludgeaholics, and even blind Sludgeaholics, though we didn’t think we had any. How could you be blind and read a website?
Well, little did we know, that is possible and we do have a blind Sludgeaholic! Except he doesn’t read Metal Sludge, he listens to it!
Now John Powell is what being a Sludgeaholic is all about. He’s been dealt a tough hand but still maintained his sense of humor through it all and is brave enough to share his story with us. And he’s a fucking lawyer on top of that!
Congratulations to John for being our November 2002 Sludgeaholic Of The Month!
1. Where are you from and how old are you?
I?m from Houston, Texas, and I?m 34.
2. You?re the first, and only, blind Sludgeaholic that we know of. Were you born blind, or did you lose your site after seeing Vince Neil perform or something like that. How blind are you?
a. No, I wasn?t born blind, just sort of grew into it.
b. Though I can honestly say I?d rather be blind than be forced to watch a roly-poly impersonation of what used to be a moderately cool singer, neither that, nor a tendency to overindulge myself in self-gratification when young caused the failing vision.
To summarize ? I caught meningitis, and when I complained of a splitting headache and nausea, my wife took me in to the ER of a hospital I had worked at some years before. The wonderfully talented ER doctors there (sarcasm mode turned off)told me that I had ?Chronic Migraine Syndrome,? completely disregarding the fact that I?d never had a migraine headache in my life. I went back to the hospital three more times in the next couple days, and they continued to misdiagnose my condition. By the time my family freaked out enough to yank me out of that hospital and ship me off to another, where a doctor who didn?t have his head up his ass checked me for meningitis, I was in deep shit. I went into a coma over Easter weekend of 1999, stayed under for three days while showing signs of impending brain death. Not good.
Ended up waking up out of the coma on Easter Sunday, and I can guarantee that the significance of the date was not lost on me. When I finally got out of the hospital ICU, I had dropped from 6?3? and 225 pounds, to a mere 180. And, I had developed this little problem with my eyes, which brings me to?.
c. My left eye doesn?t work worth a crap anymore, except for a small flat section at the uppermost portion. I can tell if the light is on or off, that?s about it with that side, similar to trying to look through a glass mostly filled with dirty motor oil. On the right, it?s like trying to see the world through a piece of notebook paper, or maybe a cotton ball. My optics are fine, I used to have 20/20 vision, and my focusing hasn?t changed, but the nerve damage from the meningitis is a bitch. I had surgery on my right eye to correct a pressure buildup of some kind, to keep what little vision I had, and that ophthalmic surgeon told me that what remains in my right eye is barely 20/700. If anyone wants to try it out, just close your left eye, tear a piece of paper out of a notebook and hold it up in front of your right, and go walking around your house. It?s a trip, literally.
If I sound bitter about it, I might be, a little, still. Sometimes it?s difficult to talk/write about this stuff. I apologize if I brought anybody down with it. But hey, you did ask. Anyway, on to the good questions.
3. We understand that you don?t read Metal Sludge, you listen to it. Explain how that works and how much of a set up like that might cost!
It?s a standard PC setup. I?ve got a screen reader program called JAWS for windows that I use, though there is another major one I know of called WindowEyes. Without getting too techie about it, the software program interacts with the video card of the computer, determining how the video card will represent the necessary output on the screen, then takes that output and translates it into speech. That?s what it?s called, actually, a text-to-speech engine. In practice, it?s a complex sum-bitch, but you get so you can do lots of things on a computer faster than sighted person, and that?s no bullshit. I have a mouse hooked up to my system, but I don?t touch the thing, it?s so my wife could use my computer if she had to, in a pinch. The video card knows that such and such character is represented by this or that graphic, and the software program, in its turn, knows what sound to apply to that graphic. Only one problem: I can?t recognize pictures on the screen at all. Looking at the screen, I do have one, I can tell that there?s something there, just have no damn clue as to what it might be. I can tell that there?s a picture there, but it might be a close-up of some chick?s butt, a horse, or a golf ball, for all I could tell.
Depending on what version of the program you want, it could be as low as $750 or so for the program itself, plus the system to run it on. I?ve built my system, running it on a 600MHz, 512 Mb RAM system, with a SoundBlaster Live sound card. The extra RAM makes it easy for the processor to multitask the different programs I use with the JAWS. If anyone is bored and wants to check out the company that is responsible for all kinds of goodies for blind/low-vision folks, check out www.freedomscientific.com.
4. Ambitions: Oh hell. Here we go. I?m going to try not to brag, OK?
1. Before I got sick, I was close to testing for my Fourth Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo. I still want to do that, just to prove that I can to my dad. Oddly enough, I can still spar, sort of, which starts up all kinds of ?The Force is Strong in this one? jokes all the time.
2. Also, I am chasing a black belt in Aikido, and one in Judo. I?m currently Ikkyu in Aikido, which is the rank just below First Degree Black. I started Aikido after losing my vision. The Judo, I started in law school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at Yoon?s Judo & Taekwondo school, where I traded teaching TKD for Judo instruction. I?ve started competing in judo tournaments, since they have rules that allow blind judo players to go against sighted guys. That is so much fun, I can?t even describe it.
3. While I am an attorney, I don?t dig on it that much, which I?ll tell you about later. I?m trying to start a professional writing career, which might explain my tendency to have diarrhea of the mouth/keyboard, like here. I?m nearly three-quarters done with my first novel, a murder thriller thing with a martial arts, big surprise, spin.
4. This is out of character for lots of sludgeaholics, but I have a driving ambition to be a good husband and father to my family. I love my wife, and she?s the reason I?m still alive, and that is not an exaggeration. She stayed with me day and night the entire time I was in the hospital, praying for me, and I?m still here. I think that God just got tired of listening to her nag at him, actually?.
1. My wife in a bikini. She?s a little hottie, one that I picked out back when I could tell exactly how hot she is, and she?s only getting better. Come to think of it, thinking of my wife in almost anything, or out of it, is a turn on.
2. Oral sex, giving and receiving. I?m not going to pull a Zakk Wylde here, but I enjoy trading orally as much or more than straight, or twisted, sex. No, I don?t have a beard, just the goatee.
3. Sex in public. Not as much fun anymore, now that I can?t really tell if there?s anyone around, but she and I used to get nasty in the strangest places (the men?s room in the gay bar in Tulsa comes to mind. That?s a long story in itself).
4. Writing sex scenes. Guys, girls, if you want to get worked up, just write out a sex scene, or a seduction scene if you are into soft-core, and give it to the person you were thinking about when you were writing it. Unless, of course, that would get your ass kicked, then don?t and say you did.
1. 9 to 5 jobs.
2. People who don?t watch where they are going. I?m back up over 200 again, and when I?m walking, I don?t stop for some twit who isn?t being alert as to where she?s walking.
3. Bad service when out. Lunch, Dinner, or clubbing, I can?t stand surly service. I like tipping well, but I?ll stiff you if you can?t manage to be civil. I think that comes from years of being a bouncer.
4. People who like to fight, or seem to. Be careful. The next fight you pick just might be with Jackie Chan, Jr., and you?ll be pulling your head out of your ass, with someone?s assistance. That?s a pet peeve, also related to being a bouncer in undergrad.
7. You are also a lawyer, and lucky we?ve never needed one, but if we do we?ll know where to go. What type of cases do you deal with and do you know of any other blind lawyers?
1. We?ve got our own national organization. You know you can?t actually exist without a website, though, so it doesn?t exist yet. The American Blind Lawyers Association is a subservient group under another big blind folks? group, the American Council for the Blind. They are at http://www.acb.org/.
Right now, I?m mainly handling Estate and Family Law cases, both of which suck to deal with. Last year, I finished a post-doctoral program at the University of Houston, earning what?s called an LL.M. in Health Law. So far it?s been worth exactly zero, but maybe when the economy gets off its duff the hospitals will be hiring again. Right now, nobody is. Like I said, I do mainly Family Law right now, mostly custody stuff, but I?ve done some personal injury, intellectual property, Real Estate work, and contracts. If I can get a career writing fiction off the ground, it?s quite likely that I?ll pitch the whole law thing.
8. How long have you been coming to Metal Sludge?
One of my best friends sent me to the sludge to read the interview with Dream Theater?s Mike Portnoy when you guys put it up. Whatever week that was, that?s when I started. Been quite a while now, and I made the page my homepage a while back. Easier that way.
9. Favorite bands:
1. Metallica, until recently. WTF?
2. Megadeth, as long as I ignore Risk.
3. Corrosion of Conformity & Pantera = Down. It?s all good.
4. Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society. Releases off of both.
5. Rage Against the Machine
7. Soundgarden, so I suppose I?ll like audioslave, too, but I?ve only heard the first single so far.
Classical stuff – . J.S. Bach, W.A. Mozart, Gustav Holst, Ravel
I know the last four are composers not bands, but I like their music. Holst?s ?The Planets? is really good. Listen to it, and see how many movie themes you can determine were filched from this piece.
10. Least favorite bands:
1. Ms. Spears. She should be making girl-girl films with the Vivid pictures people, not singing. Hottie, yes. Singer, no.
2. Pick a boy band. I?m probably just jealous of all the play they get?.
3. Rap Rock, and yes I know I put RATM in the question before. Most of it grates, I can?t explain the logic, if there is any.
11. Do you realize that the photo that was sent in of you has you wearing a shirt that says ?I Like Men? on it?
My wife?s idea of a way to keep the girlies off of me, I suppose. She?s funny that way.
12. When did you lose your virginity and how was it?
C?mon. I?m a guy, so it was fantastic! Of course, it didn?t take very long, but I remedied that with immediate practice. I was 15, and of all things to be doing, away from home to a summer computer camp. Co-Ed, of course. Nerds like sex, probably more than pretty people, and she and I were pretty nerdy, back then.
13. Five CDs that I can?t live without:
1. Metallica, Ride the Lightning.
2. Megadeth, Rust in Peace.
3. Black Label Society, tie between Sonic Brew and 1919 Eternal.
4. Another tie, this one between Corrosion of Conformity ? Wiseblood, and Pantera ? Cowboys from Hell.
5. Yet another damn tie. RATM, original album, and Tool ? Undertow.
I?ve got to put in honorable mentions for Megadeth?s Rude Awakening, and Halford?s Insurrection Live. I?d be willing to fight for the right to take another five?.
14. If we have a typo on the page, or we post an email from an illiterate Slaughter fan with nothing spelled correctly, that must be difficult for you to understand what’s going on. How often does something like that happen?
With you guys? Almost every day. Assuming, of course, that you update the site, that is. But, I?ve learned to translate the way people misspell into the way things ought to be without thinking about it much, so it?s not a problem.
15. How do you feel being our November 2002 Sludgeaholic Of The Month?
Like I am the Shiznit. I?m going to rub it in the faces of all my boys who come to the sludge to check it out from now on?.
16. Personal Motto: ?They are able who think they are able.?
unless of course, it?s the weekend, then it?s ?If it?s sloshing, go get a fresh one.?
It?s early, but Happy Holidays, from Turkey Day through X-Mas and New Years, to all the billions of sludgeaholics and sludgettes!
Not only is he blind, but he could still probably kick our asses and then sue us afterwards. John’s the shit. Congratulations to him for being our November 2002 Sludgeaholic Of The Month. And we’ll try to work on the typos too!