The Battle For ORCAM

I’m attending a Frankfort Lions Club Board of Directors meeting this evening. I resigned from the Board a few years ago after fifteen years. It was time to let the young people direct the club. I have switched my efforts to the BOD of OASIS, which serves those with vision problems. The issue on the table is that OASIS inherited a device called ORCAM from someone who passed. It is well over ten years old, and now we are trying to determine what to do with it. A quick call to the ORCAM distributor gave us some information that was in error. We were told that the old device needed to be upgraded. Like most computers, it requires some serious upgrading to handle today’s software. The cost was quoted at $1600.00. A brand-new one costs $4500. It was my job to sell this upgrade to the Lions Club. They, of course, are much smarter than I am and challenged the cost. The list of questions fired at me, the messenger, were too many and too complicated for me to answer. I went home with my tail between my legs, head down, and a bleak look.

I am not a total dummy, so I sought help getting answers and recruited two more Lions to assist. Happily, this evening, we will present a happier picture. The story has changed from $1600 for an upgrade of a 2011 unit, which will make it function only slightly better, to $1600 for a new unit with all the bells and whistles of 2023.

I believe the Distributor’s Representative tried to discourage us from seeking the upgrade, and has changed his original story from upgrade to buy a new unit, and since he screwed up so badly he is willing to give it to us at cost. If we (I) fail tonight, we will merely dig our heels in deeper and devise a new plan to secure an ORCAM for a deserving person.

For those of you who don’t know what an ORCAM is, I’ll explain to the best of my ability.

ORCAM is a company in Israel that invented a device that attaches to a pair of eyeglasses. The body of the ORCAM holds a tiny camera, a computer, and a speaker. The wearer can hold up a document, and the camera sees it for him. It then reads the printed words and transmits the sound to the wearer’s ear via a speaker built into the rear of the body. Between the eye and the ear a computer recognizes the words and converts them to sounds. The unit can also recognize faces to tell the wearer who he is talking to. That feature requires that pictures of people be entered into the ORCAM memory.

I Love the Smell of Freshly Cut Wood

Today, I treated myself and got lost in my workshop to test a new toy. As a treat to myself, I bought one of those genius spot heaters that are supposed to save the world. My workshop gets very cold, and I have to add a couple of layers of clothing when I work there. Why not add a space heater? Anyway, the heater works fine, but only winter will tell. Currently, the temperature outside is in the sixties, and the basement is still warm. Now that I know the thing does function, the real test will come when it is zero degrees outside.

When I finished my Libre project, I closed the shop and went away to do other things, like writing a story that will become a book. Libre is the title of my last Intarsia work depicting a Bald Eagle in descending flight. Libre and I were fast friends from January until August, when I finished the work and hung it under the spotlight. Since then, I’ve learned that three and a half months is sufficient time to get over a love affair with wood. This month (November), I secretly began a new project, but today is the first time I cut wood again. I have decided to use Zebra wood, naturally light-colored wood with brown striations running through it. It is costly, and I learned it is scarce. It is expensive because it is scarce, or it is scarce because it is costly. It doesn’t matter; I only know that I shelled out over a hundred dollars on wood and must go shopping for more.


This is the first Intarsia project I am making that is relatively flat, allowing me to use thinner wood than usual. The thickness will enable me to cut faster. The half-inch Zebra cuts like a hot knife through butter. The problem with cutting fast is that I struggle to stay on the line. The more wiggles there are in a piece, the harder it is to match the wiggles of an adjoining part. So, the benefit of using thin wood is lost because I must cut slowly to get the precision I need to make the art piece look good. I can’t complain because this is why I do what I do. It is a hobby, so it is supposed to take time. After all, what else do I have to do, write a book?