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This blog is no longer active as of 2017.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Party Responsibly

SpeakupLibrarian wants to remind everyone to party responsibly. You never know when a family member or friend may be lurking around with a camera. Heh.

Photo: courtesy of my terrific Aunt Louise who tells me this photo of yours truly was taken in 1968.

Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Deafening by Frances Itani

Growing up as a hearing child and then experiencing hearing loss in midlife it's hard for me to understand what it might be like to be deaf as a child. When I visited my local public library and saw Deafening by Frances Itani as a featured selection, I knew I had to read it.

Deafening tells the story of Grania, a Canadian girl who becomes profoundly deaf at the age of five from scarlet fever. Suddenly the world which was just beginning to open up to her becomes much more difficult to navigate. School is a nightmare. Her older sister is unable to be of much help there as she is grouped with the children her own age. At home life is difficult as well because her mother refuses to accept her deafness continually praying for a miracle to restore her hearing. Her father is clueless that his mustache interferes with her ability to know what he's saying. Only her beloved grandmother Mamo seems to understand how to help her. She is the one who insists that Grania attend the Ontario School for the Deaf even though it breaks her heart to be parted from her. There Grania learns sign language and makes a best friend with whom she can finally communicate freely.

The story continues with Grania growing up and falling in love with Jim Lloyd, a hearing man she meets through her job at the school hospital. Jim is fascinated by her world of silence and tries to explain the world of sound to her. The two marry but are soon separated by World War I when Jim goes overseas to work as a stretcher bearer in an ambulance unit. Letters and memories are all that connect them through this difficult time. Jim is trapped in a world of horrific battle sounds while Grania is confined to an unbearable wait for his return home to her.

To be completely honest, I skipped over some of the war parts. I was much more interested in reading about Grania's relationships with her beloved grandmother Mamo who teaches her to read, her sister Tress who uses home signs with her, and Fry her best friend from deaf school and the first person she can fully communciate with since becoming deaf. I liked the early part of the book the best. I felt so bad for Grania when she was sent to public school with her sister and the teachers had no idea how to help her learn. Her sister tried to help her not become isolated from the other children but the difference in their ages made that difficult. I was glad when Mamo convinced Grania's parents she needed to go to deaf school but was saddened when it meant a lengthy separation from the family and no visit home at Christmas.

My absolutely favorite lines from the book were these sentences: "Her hands, to her surprise, and jerkily at first, begin to send ideas out. Her face and body punctuate; her eyes receive. She is falling into, she is entering a new world. She is joining the larger conversation of hands." [page 84] This book is definitely pro ASL! I also didn't know before reading it that Canadians used ASL.

Very interesting to me was the discovery that the author herself is not deaf. Before writing this story, Frances Itani studied ASL and participated in the Ottawa deaf community. Her own grandmother was deaf but this is not her personal story. It's a novel not a biography.

For those interested in learning more about Deafening and Frances Itani, check out these links:
1)Christian Science Monitor's eloquent book review.
2)Washington Post transcript of an interview with the author.
3)another book review. This one directly speaks to the author's use of language.
4)a brief 44 second video of Frances Itani talking about the book.
It isn't captioned so for my deaf readers I've typed out what she says here: "The reason I wrote my book Deafening is because of my long association with my deaf grandmother. She was born in 1898 and died in 1987 and I loved her very much. And that is the reason I began to write this book. It's a book about Grania, a five year old child who becomes profoundly deaf from scarlet fever. It goes through her childhood at a school for the deaf up into her adulthood where she meets and falls in love with a hearing stretcher bearer. It's a book about World War I. It's a book about love and loss, about hope and despair, and about love in its many guises. Love between the main characters, love between grandmother and child, and between sisters and war buddies."

This book is definitely worth reading. I highly recommend it to you.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Naughty is the New Nice

Tis better to give than to receive. How true especially if you've been a tad bit naughty with your gift giving. Smirk.

Last year I found an irresistible gift for my parents who are just a little leery of receiving affection from my big friendly golden retriever. I got them t shirts that said "Ask me about my grand-dog" with a nice large paw print on the front. Tee hee.

By the way that wasn't their only gift from me. In case you were wondering.

The shirt can be ordered from this Animal Rescue website.

This year when asked what she would like for Christmas, my mother said she wanted a dish towel. C'mon, a dish towel. I could do better than that. I knew she would really enjoy getting a pair of sapphire earrings to match her favorite ring. The problem is she's one of the last holdouts on pierced ears and she only wears clip on earrings. I scoured the Internet for sapphire clip on earrings but came up empty. Hmmm. What to do. Eureka! I would get her a matching necklace instead.

I found a lovely sapphire and diamond necklace at Kohl's. On sale too. Perfect. Next I found a dish towel in her favorite color yellow. I wrapped the jewelry box up and placed it inside the dish towel and then wrapped that up. You want a dish towel you're going to get a dish towel I thought evilly.

I couldn't wait for her to open her gift Christmas morning. I was all ready with my camera and snapped this photo to share with you.

See, naughty really is the new nice.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Recipe for Holiday Cheer

Here's an excellent dish to bring to a holiday family gathering or a company Christmas party. Make sure any Scrooges get an extra large helping.

Recipe for Holiday Cheer
slightly adapted from Taylorstales Genealogy

2 cups Genuine Interest
4 spoons of Understanding
1 cup of Recognition
1 cup of Appreciation
2 spoons of Tenderness
1 cup of simple Courtesies
3 glasses of Kindness
4 spoons of Faith
1 cup of Friendship
1 jug of Laughter
1 jug of Smiles
2 mugs of Consideration for Others

Take Genuine Interest and make an effort to Understand. Mix thoroughly with Recognition and Appreciation. Blend with Simple Courtesies, Kindness and Tenderness. Add Faith, Friendship and an abundance of Laughter. Top freely with Smiles and Consideration for Others.

Be sure to enjoy the wonderful smell while this dish bakes in your heart. Just before serving, garnish with Love.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Meet Feel Good Librarian: Excellent Service in Action

Feel Good Librarian is the person we all secretly hope to see behind the desk when we come to the library for help. She's knowledgeable, compassionate, and willing to go the extra mile.

For those of you unfamiliar with her inspiring blog, here are some of her classic posts:

Picking Stone: how she taught a bipolar senior citizen to use a computer.

Among the Living: how she helped a woman who wanted to know if her husband was dead (when most of us would have been running to hide in the stacks when faced with such a question).

Long Lost Cousins: how she tactfully helped a man avoid becoming enmeshed in an internet scam.

After reading her stories, you may be wondering if Feel Good Librarian's coworkers and patrons appreciate how truly wonderful she is. Yes, they do as seen here: Psst

In this holiday season, it's good to be reminded that there are angels among us. Sometimes they can even be found at the library.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Was this Library Insensitive to Deaf Needs?

Update 3/2014: Some links that were available when this blog post was first published are no longer valid and have been removed. 

Karen of Deaf Mom Shares Her World was denied access to a close captioned video yesterday at the Naperville Public Library.
You can read the full story here.

The problem for Karen was that her daughter needed to watch a performance of A Christmas Carol for a school assignment. The rest of her class was going to a theatre to see the play live. Unfortunately the theatre was unable to provide an interpreter so Karen's daughter received permission to stay home and view a close captioned video recording of the story. Karen went over to the library where she regularly checks out nonfiction videos to get a copy of the Christmas classic.

And the library had one in their collection. And it was available. But not for Karen.

All because it was classified as a Fiction Video.

You see the problem for the librarian who helped her locate the video was that Karen wasn't entitled to the video according to library policy because her taxes are paid to another library. Here is the reciprocal borrowing policy as stated on their website:

Update 3/2014: This policy was in effect at time of posting by Speak Up Librarian. For current policy, please check with the Naperville Public Library.

A Reciprocal Borrower is one who uses a library card from a reciprocating library to check out materials at Naperville Public Library. As a REGISTERED reciprocal borrower you may check out most materials and use the online Library catalog. REGISTERED reciprocal borrowers will have the same rights and responsibilities as Naperville card holders with these few exceptions (Your home library may provide these services.):

Cannot borrow Adult fiction videos and DVD's
Cannot borrow Adult audio books
Cannot place Holds.
Cannot use Interlibrary loan Services.
No access to Online Databases remotely; you can use them in-house.
Cannot reserve computers in computer labs.

For full service at Naperville Public Library, a card may be purchased for an annual fee, giving the borrower full access to all services.

A Reciprocal borrower who has paid an annual fee of $100 is entitled to unlimited checkouts of:

Adult fiction videos and DVD's
Adult and children's talking books.

Update 3/2014: This policy was in effect at time of posting by Speak Up Librarian. For current policy, please check with the American Library Association.

Interestingly enough the American Library Association has this quote about their Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy approved in 2001. "Libraries play a catalytic role in the lives of people with disabilities by facilitating their full participation in society. This new policy will help libraries improve services for people with disabilities in their communities."

This policy specifically mentions the deaf and hard of hearing. You can read a copy of the policy here.
On page 7 of the policy under a section entitled "Open dialogue with participants" the question is posted Are there instances where the library should make special accommodations for users? [emphasis mine]

So you may be thinking why didn't Karen just go to her home library for the video. They didn't have it. The librarian found that out for her with a phone call.

Obviously in my opinion, knowing that Karen's library didn't have the video and that it was needed for school, the librarian should have made an exception to the policy to accomodate Karen's daughter's need for closed captioning. At the very least, the librarian should have offered to let Karen's daughter view the video at the library at a mutually convenient time.

What happened instead? Karen was given two choices: Fork over $100 to receive full access or Call a friend who lives in Naperville to come out in the cold and check it out for you. Which would you have chosen? Neither option was acceptable to Karen.

In this situation, a librarian chose to follow the RULES and missed her chance to be sensitive to the needs of her community. I'm saddened by it. But I hope that writing about it on my blog will help raise awareness of how well intentioned rules can be used to deny access.

January 16, 2009: In the comment section, Kay posted the link to DCMP the Described and Captioned Media Project This free service is a federal project that provides described videos for the blind and captioned videos to the deaf. Note: to qualify for the service you need to be a K-12 student who is blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. Teachers of these students also qualify. Thank you, Kay!

January 6, 2009: In the comments section, you will find a reply from Julie Rothenfluh, the Deputy Director of the Naperville Public Library. She states that Karen was offered more choices than the two I mentioned here (which I got from Karen's original post.)

Blogger Bill Cresswell has suggested this resource for subtitled DVDs: Thanks, Bill!

Another blogger has posted on this situation. Scrooged by Library Rules

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Isn't it Ironic?

All anyone has talked about at the library this week is the Blagojevich scandal. Imagine my surprise when I saw these book titles come across my desk for withdrawal today!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How do you play THAT game?

My coworker Diane called me at the reference desk with an idea for an icebreaker activity for the online class we will be teaching this winter. An icebreaker activity helps students get to know each other at the beginning of a course. She said the game was called "Name that cowlick." Say what? How do you play that? I wondered briefly before asking her to repeat what she said. This time I got it right: Name that colleague. Tee hee. I think my version sounds like more fun.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Nick & Starr Win It All

It was a tight race to the finish line but brother and sister team, Nick & Starr Spangler won the $1 million dollar prize. Separated couple Ken and Tina gave them a run for the money and touched my heart when they put their wedding rings back on at the finish line and vowed to give their marriage a second chance. Frat Boys Dan and Andrew fell behind from the start and were not really contenders. There wasn't a glimpse or a word of Toni & Dallas' fate at the finish line so they must have been still in Russia arranging for replacement passports...Sigh, it would have been nice to have a video clip of them congratulating the winners.

To find out what really happened to Toni & Dallas in Moscow and if Dallas & Starr are dating post-race, read the Reality News Online Interview here.

Thanks CBS and racers for an exciting season of the Amazing Race.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tonight's the Amazing Race 13 Finale

Last week Dallas and Toni were eliminated after Dallas lost the team's money and passports. Andrew and Dan had an astonishing second place finish even with an extra speed bump task! Nick and Starr came in first and Ken and Tina who struggled with finding the last clue box were third.

Who will cross the finish line first tonight? I predict Nick and Starr as I have since episode one. But if Andrew and Dan win instead, I will truly believe in miracles.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Candy Christmas Wreath

One of my favorite holiday traditions is making a candy Christmas wreath for my mother-in-law. I thought I would share the directions with you. Here's what you need to purchase for this craft: 2 bags of hard candies (red and green peppermints are traditional but I use Werther's butterscotches because they are my mother-in-law's favorite and they look so festive in their shiny gold wrappers.)curling ribbon for attaching the candy to the wreath. (This year I used 3 colors: red, green, and silver.) and fancy ribbon for decorating the wire coat hanger (I purchased ribbon with a metallic gold sheen to it at Michael's craft store.) Here's what else you need that you may already have around your house: wire coat hanger, scissors, hot glue gun.

Start by bending the wire coat hanger into a wreath shape. My husband did this for me. Thanks, honey! Be sure to retain the hook at the top. This will be used to hang your wreath! Use hot glue to attach the fancy ribbon to the wire coat hanger. If this is your first time using hot glue, be careful. It really is hot and it's easy to burn your fingers with it.

In years gone by, I didn't take the time for this step and when the candies were eaten off the wreath, the wire coat hanger underneath looked pretty lousy. Adding the ribbon just dresses up this simple craft a bit more.

For the next step, you will need to cut off 12" lengths of the curling ribbon (by the way, you can find curling ribbon in the gift wrap aisle). Take the cut curling ribbon and tie it around one end of the candy so the two ends of the curling ribbon are approximately the same length. (This is art not science, so don't worry if it's not exact.)
At this point I like to enlist help from my family so we can say that we all contributed to Grandma's present. It's helpful to sort the tied candy by the color of the ribbon. You want to end up with the same number of ribbons in each color.

Now you are ready to tie the candy on to the wreath. I tie it twice to make it hold securely. Then I curl the ends of the ribbon by rubbing the blade of the scissors against it quickly. I alternate the colors like this: red, silver, green, red, silver, green, ... I position the candies so some are above the hanger loop and others are below it. You can also gently slide the candies so they are as closely bunched or spread out as you like.

The final step is to attach a pair of scissors to the wreath. I used an extra length of my fancy ribbon for this. I wrapped the length around the wreath a few times so it could hang down longer as the candy gets eaten but for now would hang near the middle of the wreath. Here's what our family's completed project looked like this year. My mother-in-law was very happy to receive it at Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Reading the Silver Screen

The night before Thanksgiving I went to see an open captioned showing of Changeling with my friend Diane. When I purchased my ticket, the teenaged ticket seller said apologetically, "It's not a problem is it that it's open captioned?" "No," I replied emphatically, "that's why I'm here!"

Have you seen the trailer for this film? It's based on a true story of a mother whose son disappeared and when the Los Angeles police reunited her with him months later claimed the boy wasn't her son. Was she telling the truth or was she delusional? A captioned trailer is available on Bill Cresswell's blog. I don't want to give any of the plot away but I will tell you there's a real tough part that neither Diane nor I were expecting. Don't bring your children but don't miss it either!

For those unfamiliar with open captions, the words of the script are projected onto the movie screen. For this film they were printed in white letters which were sometimes difficult to distinguish against light backgrounds. This was my second time to attend an open captioned film. The first film I saw at this theatre was Elizabeth, the Golden Age. I especially wanted the captions for that movie because I knew it would be full of dialogue and accents. Unfortunately, I have to be selective in the films I choose as the theatre is not close by and only offers open captioning on weeknights.

I was really interested in what Diane's reaction was to the open captions as it was her first time viewing them. She told me she liked them! She thought they helped her and she doesn't have a hearing loss!

Seeing Changeling was a great start to my Thanksgiving weekend. Once the film was over, I couldn't wait to see my son and give thanks that we had never endured such an ordeal. I was also thankful to spend time with family (in person and by phone) feeling truly grateful that I'm not alone in this world the way Angelina Jolie's character was.

Hope all of you reading this had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends and for my international readers hope you had a blessed weekend as well.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Amazing Race 13: Episode Nine

I missed writing about two Amazing Race episodes. Here's a brief recap of episode seven: Divorcees Kelly and Christy were eliminated. Nick and Starr came in first. In episode eight: Sarah and Terence were eliminated largely because they went for the fast forward at Terence's insistence only to find he couldn't handle eating the sheep butt they were served. Nick and Starr who were successful at eating the local delicacy finished first once again.

Now on to Episode Nine and this week's burning questions: Can Nick and Starr maintain their winning streak? Will Dan and Andrew continue the race in stocking feet?

Previously, Dan and Andrew made the strategic error of leaving their shoes behind at a puppet theatre when changing into a cow costume. They wrongly assumed that they could retrieve their shoes later when returning the costume. At the beginning of this leg of the race, they have donned hotel slippers purloined from a maid's cart. Fortunately for them all the teams are stuck waiting at the airport for the first flight to their next destination: Russia. Dallas helpfully points the Frat Boys to an airport shoe store. Everyone knows that airport shops don't offer bargain prices. The boys take a risk and purchase the cheapest shoes they can find figuring that prices will only be higher in an expensive city like Moscow. Surprisingly, we didn't see the Frat Boys doing any "begging" as teams on previous editions of the Amazing Race have done when in dire financial straits. I would have thought the hotel slippers would have made someone feel sorry for them.

The racers' first task in Moscow is an easy one. Locate a monastery and light a candle. Easy if you can find a cab driver who knows the way. For Toni and Dallas and Nick and Starr no problem. Not so for the Frat Boys and Ken and Tina who are lost until their cab drivers stop to ask for directions.

In the lead, Toni and Dallas proceed with ease on to their next destination, a decomissioned military base. This time Nick and Starr do not as their cab driver has no idea how to get there and is unable to communicate with them in English. This causes the brother/sister team to fall into last place as Ken and Tina and Dan and Andrew arrive at the military base ahead of them. There teams find a Detour choice of Boots or Borscht. Both tasks require teams to don military uniforms including traditional foot wrappings which take the place of socks inside their boots.

True to form Andrew struggles with wrapping his feet correctly. In exasperation, the boys take off their uniforms and head over to the kitchen area to serve borscht (beet soup) to 75 soldiers. Once there they realize they were required to do this task in uniform so they go back to their starting point. Meanwhile mother and son team Toni and Dallas have easily completed the Boots task of marching the grounds with a troop of Russian soldiers. Ken and Tina also have no trouble with the task and take the time to compliment each other on how good they looked in their uniforms. That was a nice moment to share. Coming from behind Nick and Starr make up time by also completing the task without a hitch.

Unlike Andrew and Dan who continue to experience difficulties. Once Andrew gets his uniform on, the Frat Boys decide to complete the Boots task counting on Andrew's experience in marching band to carry them forward. Unfortunately, Dan has not had marching experience and he puts on an unintentionally hilarious performance trying to coordinate his arm and leg movements. Even the stoic Russian soldiers crack up laughing at his antics. The drill sergeant says, "Nyet, nyet" (no, no) over and over until the Frat Boys decide to head back to the kitchen. There they enjoy serving the soldiers using their Russian language skills to say "Anna Kournikova. Maria Sharapova." Ha, ha.

At the Roadblock the teams' task requires some heavy lifting - 50 bags of flour each weighing 55 pounds have to be unloaded from a truck and brought into a bakery. I wondered how would the divorcees or even Sarah and Terence have managed this task? Dallas takes it and powers through under his mother's anxious eye. Not surprisingly Ken takes the task and falls back on his football training to soldier through the pain and fatigue. Inside the bakery, a woman oversees the stacking of the flour bags and receives a kiss on both cheeks from Ken when she hands him his clue. The race is on to the Pit Stop and this time Dallas and Toni greet Phil first.

Back at the bakery, Nick takes the task for the brother/sister team and sets a slower pace for himself carrying a single bag at a time. He finishes ahead of the Frat Boys but he and Starr lose time while looking for a cab to get to the Pit Stop. Dan takes the task and redeems himself with a good performance. The Frat Boys would have come in third rather than fourth if only they didn't come up short with cab fare for their driver. Dan offers the driver his shoes but he isn't interested. When Dan gives him all the money he has the driver finally accepts and drives away.

Amusingly Phil tells Dan and Andrew at the mat that he's sorry to tell them "it's a non-elimination leg of the race". Their relief is palpable. Next week's preview shows Dan struggling once again with coordination on a task and announces that one team loses their passports and money. Yikes!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'm the Answer to a Trivia Question!

My good friend Sheri and me at the Homeschool Reunion

This past weekend I had an opportunity to attend a reunion of a homeschooling group I was a member of a few years back. It was great to see people I haven't seen since my full-time return to the workforce. Fortunately the moms looked familiar although it was hard to remember some names. But, wow, the kids have changed so much. Luckily, I had thought ahead and brought a photo of my son so they could see how he had grown too.

I had thought the event was going to be for socializing open house style but actually there were speeches and recognition awards planned. Several speeches and then an open mike time where anyone could come forward and share a memory. Finally two hours into the event, food was served and the informal socializing could begin.

While waiting to eat, I was tickled when I looked over the trivia quiz tucked inside our programs and found the following question: Who was the brave mom who used to run with our kids during the Presidential Fitness testing? Hey, that was me.... I remember that I dressed up in an American flag shirt and carried a "torch" with red, white, and blue streamers and ran alongside the kids to encourage them. None of them wanted to run slower than a mom so I was a good motivator and a big hit with the moms looking on from the sidelines. It was fun but I had to take Tylenol for a week afterwards.

The best part of Saturday's gathering was seeing my good friend Sheri again! She has a daughter my son's age and we were very close during my homeschooling days. Back then we shared a lot of laughs and a few tears and many hugs. It was good to catch up a little and promise not to let so much time go by before getting together again.

In this photo from years gone by, Sheri and I were unpacking cookie dough containers we sold as a fundraiser. Sheri was also the answer to a trivia question: Who sold the most cookie dough? It's good to be memorable. I think...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My Night of Accessible Theatre

Me and Marsha with the theatre entrance seen in the background

Last weekend was my big night out in Chicago with friends I had made through my local hearing loss support group. Julie, Kitty, and I met that afternoon at our group leader Kim's home, and the three of us squeezed into the backseat for a wild drive downtown. Kim's husband is an experienced city driver and can weave in and out of traffic with the best of them. We arrived safely and in record time!

Kim and her husband are season ticket holders while this was the first time for Julie, Kitty, and me. At the theatre they introduced us to two options for captioning. One was to read the words projected on the wall. For this play, they were shown on the wall to our left which meant turning your head back and forth between the action on stage and the script off stage right. The second option was using a portable small screen closed captioning device and lining it up as close as possible to the line of sight with the stage. Julie and I took one of these and positioned it between our seats. Kitty sat somewhere else.

Of the two options, I preferred the writing on the wall. As annoying as it was to have to turn my head, I couldn't stop reading the play! I kept telling myself the volume was loud enough that I could just watch the action on stage but I found myself watching the words nonetheless. It was just so much easier than having to listen and figure out what was said! I didn't like reading the much smaller print on the portable device and its brightness level also bothered me. On the other hand, Julie preferred this captioning option so I was glad we had given it a try.

Along with the script, the captioning included descriptions of the music and sound effects even giving clues to the emotional tenor of the action. Eurydice, the play showing that afternoon, was a modern retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus' descent into Hades to retrieve his dead wife. The play's staging was minimal and there were only seven actors so the music and effects were important to conveying the ideas of the play. What I liked best was how the play portrayed the Greek idea of the underworld as a peaceful place of forgetfulness and sleep.

Not everyone liked the play. Some said it was just weird. Actually the best part of the evening was when we ate dinner at a small restaurant across the street. Our group of five met up with about nine others from the Chicago ALDA (Association for Late Deafened Adults) group. We made one long table by pushing several small tables together. To communicate we used several strategies including lipreading, fingerspelling/signing, repeating, and writing on a pad of paper. It was just like ALDA's motto "whatever works"!

For me it was very inspiring to meet others with the same or even greater communication challenges who are enjoying full social lives and remaining employed. Everyone was very welcoming to Julie, Kitty, and me and hugs were freely exchanged at the end of the evening. I hope to socialize with them again soon.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Amazing Race 13: Episode Six

At the beginning of this week's episode, my family answered Phil's recurring question, "Who will be eliminated next?" with the unanimous reply "Dan and Andrew". Then my son edited his response, "No, it should be Dan and Andrew will come in last." We were sure it had to finally be a non-elimination leg.

This week the six remaining teams left Cambodia for India, a country that previous seasons' racers have found difficult to navigate easily. All teams travelled on the same flight so Frat Boys Dan and Andrew had an even chance. The racers first task was to find Moonlight Motors and paint vehicles with green paint to indicate they run on natural gas. This was a great Roadblock task as the racers got the chance to do something useful for their hosts.

Amazingly, Andrew finished first. Yes, the team we predicted to do poorly rose to the front of the pack. But not for long. The Frat Boys' failure to find a taxi allowed three other teams to pass them. Terence and Sarah fell into last place as Terence harangued Sarah on her painting technique. He could have taken a cue from Dallas who coached his mom through the task being a help to her rather than a hindrance.

The next challenge facing the teams was a Detour choice of laundering clothes or laundering money. Laundering clothes involved pressing twenty pieces of laundry with an iron heated by charcoals. Hot, hot, hot! Nick and Starr arrived first and cleverly pulled out cotton gloves they had packed for colder climates. They were the perfect protection for their hands. Other teams arriving after them, noticed their gloves and were stunned to find out they were personal items rather than something provided for the task. Divorcees Kelly and Christie made due by wrapping clothes around their iron handles. Mother and son team Toni and Dallas cooperated well on this domestic chore while Dan and Andrew really struggled. As they noted, "There was never any ironing going on in the frat house."

The other Detour choice, laundering money, involved creating a money necklace with a precise combination of Indian rupee notes and finding a groom at a packed wedding party to receive delivery of the finished necklace. Terence and Sarah and Ken and Tina chose this option. Both teams finished before Dan and Andrew completed their ironing. Was our prediction coming to pass?

In the end, Nick and Starr came in first, followed by Kelly and Christy and Toni and Dallas. Unfortunately for Ken and Tina, taxi cab woes landed them in last place. Since this was the expected nonelimination leg, they remain in the race but must complete an extra Speed Bump task somewhere along the next leg of the race. If they come in last again, they will be eliminated. Unpredictably, Dan and Andrew survived to race farther around the world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election 2008 Reaction

Say it ain't so, Joe! Joe Plumber that is. The blue collar vote just didn't come through for McCain/Palin.

Congratulations, President Elect Obama! Your election is history making and a breakthrough in another way. Change is in the air. Make the most of it and bring our country to better days.

God bless the U.S.A.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Accepting Accomodations: Day Two

October 30
Day Two went much better! It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do! This time I knew right where to obtain my morning coffee and muffin. I understood the layout of the conference center and could navigate to the various room locations without wandering around in a daze like the day before. Off to a good start.

This time when I attended the general session in the large auditorium I arrived early enough to find my way to the assigned seating. When I got there another woman was sitting in the section. I struck up a conversation with her and found out she was an ASL interpreter. For this presentation two interpreters took turns signing what the speaker said. I was so pleased to get this opportunity to improve my ASL reading skills. Especially since the talk was very IT (information technology) heavy and much less interesting than the previous day's speech on brain research. Now I know the signs for "embedded computer" and "internet". How about that!

The next presentation was on "Confessions of a Digital Immigrant". That topic sounded fascinating to me. A digital immigrant is someone born before 1982 who has had to learn all the technology that digital natives (those born 1982 and later) take for granted. I found my assigned seat in the front row and was all excited to hear the speaker's wisdom. Unfortunately, this speaker took the liberty of changing his presentation to a talk on what it's like to be a CIO (chief information officer). I could not relate to that at all. Grrr. However, the speaker had been honored with an award at this conference so out of respect and politeness not to mention my conspicuous seat practically under his nose I stayed to hear his talk. But I didn't tire myself out listening too closely.

A much more interesting talk on social media was given by a young woman with a prominent pink streak in her hair. For this session, I ended up at the back of the room but I used my Pocket Talker and heard everything. I also used my assistive listening device for a talk on how one university has implemented mobile devices (ipods and iphones in this case) into their curriculum. That's something I've been asked to get involved in looking at for my own school.

In the afternoon I explored the vendors exhibit area. I heard a great presentation by Camtasia. I am very interested in their Camtasia6 product which would enable me to add captions to the podcasts I'm creating of my library's technology workshops. Their sales reps were really helpful in answering my questions about captioning and even gave a step-by-step demonstration of how it's done. A man from Duke University happened to sit next to me during the demo and while chatting with him, he gave me a great idea for assessing these podcasts. Brilliant! The Educause conference emphasizes the importance of networking with others in your field to share ideas and this is where that happened for me.

It wasn't all business. There were lots of free giveaways and drawings in the exhibit area. I got three t-shirts (one for me, one for hubby, and one for my son) from different vendors and loaded up with cool pens. I "won" a set of golf balls at one booth for taking a swing at a mini golf hole. I "raced" a toy car around a track. I picked up assorted gizmos and some nice cloth tote bags at other booths. Best of all was my enthusiastic greeting from the Wimba owl! I didn't even have to be at Disney World to get my picture taken with a friendly costumed character.

The fun continued that evening with a Halloween party at Universal Studios City Walk.
There was a generous buffet laid out and music and performers all around. I met a Chicago icon (John Belushi as one of the Blues Brothers) and had my photo taken once more. Of course, this outdoors party (designed for hearing people) was very loud so I didn't stay the whole evening. A pair of foam earplugs would have come in handy. I got back to the hotel and found out my husband and son had a wonderful day of their own exploring more of the Universal Studios theme park. Day Two was fun.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Accepting Accomodations: Day One

October 29
Hello from Orlando. I'm starting this post on a computer available at the conference center. At the airport my family got our first surprise when we had to pay $15 to check our bags. What? Since when did this fee come into effect? Thanks, American Airlines.

My first day here has been so overwhelming. Looking back, it probably wasn't a good idea to fly in late the evening before, get up early, and try to face a new and challenging situation... My second surprise of the trip is that the Orange County Convention Center is huge. It just goes on and on. Note to self: next time pack rollerskates! After I located some coffee, I was ready for the opening session. Following the email instructions I had received, I approached a staffer with a radio and asked for directions to seating for the hearing impaired. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people entering at the same time and we were all sort of herded along and I didn't find the assigned seating section. Fortunately, though, there was seating available in the front where the volume was good. Even better the speaker was displayed on enormous video screens making lipreading a breeze. So far so good.

For the second session in a much smaller room, I found the sign for my reserved seat located right in front of the speaker podium. Funnily though, the lady who made the introduction of the three panelists was short. All I could see of her face over the open laptop on the podium was her eyes. tee hee. Fortunately the male panelists were taller and I could see their faces with no problem. But...the second speaker had a very soft voice! I was just reaching for my Pocket Talker when another audience member asked him to please speak into the microphone. Ahh, much better.

Session three had my assigned seat not in the front row but about row four. Strangely it was located right next to the slide projector. Grrr, now I had to deal with that noise competing with the female speaker's voice. I used my Pocket Talker to boost her volume but I could still hear that projector. This session was one that I thought would best relate to my new job but it turned out to be completely unrelated. Drat.

After lunch, I went to a session held in a computer lab setting. I made a switch to attend this one so I knew there would be no reserved seat for me. When I entered the room, I asked the speaker where would be a good seat to sit to hear well. He told me he would be moving around the room, so I decided to sit on the aisle halfway back. As it turned out, he did not move but stayed in the front. Fortunately he had a good strong speaking voice and I was able to hear him alright. His female colleague, who said very little during the presentation, had a very soft voice so I just ignored her contributions. This session was also challenging because we were seated in front of laptops and expected to be logging in to websites and posting contributions to a group discussion all the while listening to the speaker. Yikes. I struggled with typing on an unfamiliar keyboard let alone thinking of something worthwhile to contribute. I did my best to multitask but I'm sure I missed some of this speaker's presentation.

Back at the hotel that evening, I rejoined my family and heard about their exciting day at Universal Studios. We went out to dinner at the hotel restaurant which featured Caribbean food. My salmon dinner came with a flower! How lovely. There was one funny moment at dinner when my son talked about "barrels flying in" through the open door when he and my husband ate breakfast there that morning. What? Oh my bad, not barrels but sparrows. Day One is over.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Assistive Listening Device

This is my assistive listening device, a Pockettalker Pro by Williams Sound. If you are new to hearing loss, you may wonder why a hearing aid wearer would want an assistive listening device (ALD). Aren't hearing aids alone enough? Well, yes and no. I bought my ALD to help me out at the reference desk. I still struggle with people who whisper or speak in low tones. The Pockettalker works with my hearing aids and boosts sound with its own microphone. What I like best is that it has a dial on it so I can adjust the volume up and down, something I'm unable to do with my hearing aids. This model has a clip so I can attach it to my clothing when I need to walk from the reference desk to a computer terminal to help a library patron. You'll also notice that I bought mine with a neckloop which I can hide discreetly under my clothing.
Last month I brought my Pockettalker along when I went to a library training meeting at a hotel conference room. I was glad I did when the group of people I went with decided to sit in the middle of the room rather than the front which would have been my first choice. The ALD worked well with the sound system in the room and I had no trouble hearing the speakers. Unfortunately, whenever someone at the table opened the top on a soft drink bottle I also heard that noise too at a startlingly loud volume. Well, nothing's perfect, right?
Those are the only uses I've found for my Pockettalker. For me it hasn't been helpful at movie theatres or at home watching TV. I'm planning to take it to Florida with me as a backup in case the accomodations I requested don't work out.
Do you have an assistive listening device that works well for you?

Amazing Race: Episode Five

Seven teams remain as well as the following questions. Will Ken and Tina continue to dominate the race? Will divorcees Kelly and Christie patch up their feud with brother/sister team Nick and Starr? Will last place team Ty and Aja catch up to the other teams?

In this week's episode the racers moved on from New Zealand. Selfishly, I was disappointed by this as I would have liked to see them spend more time there so I could see how the country's changed since I visited there twenty years ago. Oh well. The teams' next destination was Cambodia.

Ken and Tina's Fast Forward advantage quickly evaporated as they were joined on the first flight by Terence and Sarah. All the other teams (except long distance daters Ty and Aja) caught up to them in Singapore for the connecting flight into Cambodia. There was a moment of drama when it looked like Frat Boys Andrew and Dan might not make it onto the second flight but their persistence in speaking to the airline employees paid off and kept them in the race. Not making this second flight crippled Ty and Aja's chances for this leg. Their only hope was that another team would make a major error, have serious transportation trouble, or that this would be a nonelimination leg of the race.

The first task in Cambodia was locating a gas station where they would pump gas a truck using the local method of hand pumping. On this task Andrew and Dan floundered wondering how the other teams were able to perform it so easily. The trick Dan discovered was to "do it like a madman." The four other teams completed the task easily and had fun travelling to Siem Reap Harbor in their fully fueled trucks. En route to the Harbor they jockeyed for position, gleeful when passing another team and determined to forge ahead when passed. It was great to see the teams enjoying the spirit of the race. The fun continued as they raced in boats to a floating restaurant where they would discover their Detour options.

Their choices were Village Life and Village Work. For Village Life teams used their boat to visit three locations: a dentist, a tailor, and a floating basketball court. At the dentist they would receive a set of teeth, at the tailor a doll, and at the basketball court, a basketball after each team member made a successful shot. For Village Work, teams got into the water and retrieved two fishing nets with fish and hauled their catch back to the harbor in their boat. Village Life was chosen by Ken and Tina and Kelly and Christy. There was a funny moment when one of the divorcees thought the set of teeth referred to a patient's tooth being extracted right then. They were so relieved when they saw the toy chompers on a table. tee hee. Village Work was chosen by Nick and Starr, mother/son team Toni and Dallas, and Andrew and Dan.

Next, teams travelled to Angkor Wat for their Roadblock task. One member of each team was required to search this massive temple for a small room known as the Chamber of Echoes. Most teams used smart thinking and got someone familiar with the site to lead them to the room. Tina wandered aimlessly and walked through the room just as captions revealed she was saying, "I must be blind." ha, ha. A stone tablet in the room directed teams to Bayon Temple, the Pit Stop for the race. Nick found the tablet first and cleverly hid it under his shirt until he left the temple.

Nick and Starr found Phil first. Hey remember, I picked them out as a good team from the very first episode. To their benefit, they seemed to have let their rivalry with the divorcees go at least for the moment. Starr's arm which was injured last episode turned out not to have been broken and she seemed unhampered by it during this leg.

Alas, Ty and Aja never did catch up and were eliminated at the mat. They ended on a positive note with a renewed commitment to their relationship. Ty vowed to move to LA to spend more time with Aja. Awww, a happy ending for another AR couple.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Who Let These Dogs Out??? Halloween Style for Pets

I received these funny photos in my email and thought I would share them with you for a laugh. If only my dog could see these, it would be just another reason why he loves me - I never dress him up beyond wearing a patriotic style bandana for the Fourth of July.

Which was your favorite? Do you dress your pet up for Halloween?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Asking for Accommodation

I've asked for an accomodation for the conference I'm attending next week. This is a new experience for me. When I attended my first ever library conference in Washington DC last April, I didn't make my needs known. I coped by sitting in the front or close by a loudspeaker. I managed but found it very tiring. My coworker, mentor, and friend Diane advised me that next week's conference would be a much larger affair with many more people in attendance. With that in mind, I marked the box on the registration form that indicated I am hearing impaired and may need an assistive listening device.

Soon afterwards, I received an email from the Director for Conferences and Educational Activities. She asked what type of device I needed. I wasn't sure how to answer that question so I explained that my hearing aids had T-coils and a device that was compatible with that would work for me. The Director also inquired if I needed an interpreter. No, I replied, I don't know sign language. Another question of hers was if I needed assistance with transportation to and from the conference. That puzzled me a bit. Did she think I would have trouble communicating with a taxi or shuttle bus driver? Fortunately my hotel is within walking distance from the convention center, so I confidently replied that transportation would be no problem for me.

My next communication from the director said that an onsite AV company could set up systems in the session rooms I'd be attending. They would provide me with a wireless beltpack with headphones. I was also offered the opportunity to reserve a seat for the sessions I'd be attending. All I needed to do was tell her which of the many workshops available I wanted to attend. I had already created a schedule for myself so it was no problem to forward her that information.

Then I got to wondering, was I creating too much of a problem? Were my needs really that great that someone should go to this trouble for me? My personality style is to keep a low profile and not draw attention to myself. Asking for accomodation felt slightly uncomfortable. Then I remembered how tired I was at the conference in April and thought of how using an assistive listening device could make my experience in Orlando much easier. I thought of how by voicing my needs, I was validating the fact that hard of hearing people can have professional lives and benefit from attending conferences that will help them in their careers just like their hearing colleagues. Okay, I was good on that part. Then worrywart that I am, I wondered if now that I was expecting accomodation, what if it failed to happen? I decided to bring my own personal assistive listening device along just in case.

This morning I received a very nice email stating that reserved seating would be available for me in as many sessions as possible. I was directed to where the seating would be available for the general session which everyone attends. For the featured sessions, I was told to look for seating in the front marked with a sign "Reserved Hearing/Sight Impaired". That sounded good to me.

I'll be sure to write afterwards about how my experience with accepting an accomodation turns out and how I was treated at the conference. Meanwhile if you have any helpful advice or a similar experience to share, I'd love to read your comment.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Making Childhood Dreams Come True

One of the great joys of being a parent is making your child's dreams come true!

When my son was a preschooler, one of his early passions was an intense desire to be a garbage man. Over and over he would set up film canisters in a row on the floor and move his toy garbage truck along his "street" stopping at each can and dumping its shredded paper contents into the truck.

Fourth Birthday Cake

Our public library had a video titled "Garbage Day". It was my son's favorite and we would check it out repeatedly. The highlight of his week was garbage pickup day. I would get up early in the morning with him and wait outside by the curb for the exciting arrival of his hero, the garbage man. It was a little embarassing to be seen out there by neighbors on their way to work in the morning, but I stood proudly by my little man. One especially kind garbage man allowed Charlie to help him lift the can into the back of the truck and gave my son a company hat for Christmas.

"Driving" a Garbage Truck

One day I chanced to meet the owner of the local waste disposal company and explained about my son's love for garbage trucks. "Could we come to his company for a tour?" I asked. It was arranged and my son had a great time.

Among my favorite memories are the theme birthday parties I planned for my son. We had a couple of sports parties and one year I did pirates and another year I did dinosaurs. But was I in for a shock the year I asked my son what he wanted his theme to be. He told me simply "green". What? Green was his favorite color and he insisted that was what he wanted. This dream of his challenged me but on his big day I came through with green themed games, decorations, and foods. All the children came to the party dressed in shades of green adding to the fun.

Why am I blogging about this you may be wondering. Well next week I have the opportunity to make one more dream of my son's come true. It means a lot to me because he'll be a teenager soon and who knows how many more chances I'll get to bring a smile to his face. Last year I was surprised to find out that my son wanted to go to Disney World in Florida. He had never mentioned it before and I wasn't sure this dream was doable because Orlando is an expensive place to visit.

Fortunately, my library is sending me to a conference there at the same time my son's school will be on holiday. Discussing it with my husband, we decided to go for it, despite the costs, and have the two of them accompany me to Florida. I will attend the conference and the two of them will explore Universal Studios. On our last day in Florida we will all go to Walt Disney World.

In the words of Jiminy Cricket, "When you wish upon a star...Your dreams come true!"

Monday, October 20, 2008

Amazing Race 13: Episode 4

This episode was personally exciting for me because the teams travelled to one of my favorite places in the world - New Zealand. Yes, I have actually been there! I found it to be one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen - very pastoral of course with sheep everywhere.

The eight remaining teams all travelled from Bolivia to New Zealand on the same flight so that effectively wiped out any time advantages from the previous leg of the race. Once they arrived in Auckland, they were directed to a marina where they would find a Gordian knot to unravel. My understanding of the Gordian knot story is that the knot was so difficult to untie, it had to finally be sliced through with a sword. In comparison, these knots didn't seem so tricky to untie. Once the knots were undone, two slips of paper were revealed. One had the next destination and the other announced the chance for the first Fast Forward in the race. Completing a Fast Forward task first allows a team to head directly to the Pit Stop.

Ken and Tina and Frat Boys Andrew and Dan battled it out to arrive first at the Fast Forward location with Ken and Tina winning by a slim margin. To earn their express trip to the Pit Stop, the pair had to climb the Auckland Skytower all the way up to the tip top and retrieve a Travelocity Gnome. The last part of the climb was done on the outside of the swaying needle. In my opinion, accomplishing this daunting task deserved a reward. Well done, Ken and Tina.

Everyone else went on to Mount Eden and one of the most fun Roadblock tasks I've seen on the show. At the summit, racers found a group of Maori warriors performing a war chant. Each one had unique markings on his face. The Roadblock task was to match a tattoo on a card with the warrior wearing that tattoo. The first team to arrive actually had to do this in the dark. Fortunately Terence was wearing a head lamp.

While Toni was completing the task, son Dallas commented, "Just don't eat my mom!" Tee hee. The warriors did look fierce. The one stationed at the clue box had a lot of fun growling at Blonde Belle Brooke. Once a successful match was made, the warriors showed their softer side by bumping noses with the racers. Awww.

Next teams travelled to an Auckland hotel rooftop to spot Travelocity Gnomes posed as participants in New Zealand "wish list" activities. Aaagh, the sponsor tie-in rears its ugly head once again. Enough said. When the racers retrieved their gnome, they were directed on to the Detour segment.

Option number one for the Detour was crushing kiwis (remember Lucy and Ethel stomping grapes?) in a vat to make 12 quarts of juice. Racers were then required to drink a tall glass of it. Option number two was for each team member to assemble a blokart (a go kart vehicle with a sail) and ride it for 3 laps around a track. Terence and Sarah and Divorcees Kelly and Christy rocked the kiwi juicing and finished as teams two and three. The remaining teams (except the Blonde Belles) tried making juice but gave it up in frustration and went to the blokarts instead. Dan struggled with assembling his which gave Andrew his chance to shine. Starr crashed and hurt her arm. Uh oh. Is the karma I mentioned last week coming back on her? She managed to complete this leg of the race but stay tuned for further developments as her feud with the Divorcees continues.

The Blonde Belles struggled throughout this episode. They were last to arrive at the marina and had difficulty finding their knot. They had a chance to catch up when Aja and Ty, another team that had fallen behind switched Detour tasks, but alas it wasn't enough. The two sweet natured girls, who wondered if they like blondes in New Zealand, arrived last at the Pit Stop. In tears, they received a hug from the greeter - Phil's Dad! What a wonderful surprise and a nod to all the faithful viewers who were aware that New Zealand was host Phil Keoghan's homeland.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


The first leaves to fall
lay scattered on lawns and sidewalks
like sprinkles on cupcakes.

Posed on porches sit pumpkins
carved with crooked grins.

Robins gather in the yard
discussing their plans to fly
to places south.

The air is cooler
refreshing renewing
after the heat of summer.

Overcast days are heavy
with clouds like cotton
from the vitamin jar.

Nightfall comes sooner.
Morning light comes later.

Autumn is
the briefest interlude
before the midwestern winter.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Never Mind" You Say, "No Problem" I Say

It happened again just the other day at work. I was looking for something in my cubicle when a coworker who was waiting for me spoke aloud from across the room. I was completely out of visual range and partly around a corner. I caught perhaps one word of what she said and didn't pay much attention to it. Surely she wasn't expecting me to hear her under those circumstances. But actually she was. When I walked up to her I asked, "Were you talking to me?" She responded "Yes, but never mind".

I know those two words are the bane of some people's existence. In this blog post Jamie Berke asks, "How does a deaf or hard of hearing person cope when told never mind?".

Here's my response. I let it go. Here's why. Until two years ago I was blissfully unaware of my hearing loss. My life has been lived in the hearing world. Let me tell you that hearies talk a great deal about very little! I think that when asked to repeat something in a casual conversational setting, they realize in that moment that what they said was actually of no importance. It was just idle chatter. In other words it's not worth the effort it would take you to hear it. Possibly they've already forgotten what it was they did say.

According to Wikipedia never mind is a command which means "it is not important," "do not be concerned," or "I withdraw my previous statement". When hearing folk say never mind, it shows that the fault is on them not us. Remember Gilda Radner's Emily Litella from Saturday Night Live? She made the words her catch phrase. In her case it meant "my mistake".

How someone says the words makes the whole difference. If they're said to you in exasperation, that's a different story. Never mind is unacceptable if the information is vital to you. Of course the burden is on us to decide if it's worth pursuing the missing words or not.

Generally I would say that most conversation is not worth fretting over. Hearing people say never mind to each other all the time. Just let it go.

What do you think?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Amazing Race 13: Episode Three

This episode took my breath away and had me reaching for my inhaler. The nine teams remaining traveled from Brazil to La Paz, Bolivia, a high altitude city at 12,000 feet above sea level. Viewers were spared any airport drama as the action skipped over flight arrangements to show teams arriving in La Paz. They were directed to a statute of Simon Bolivar where they would spend the night on the street. What looked like locally made blankets were provided to add comfort and color but really how awful must that have been to sleep on pavement while adjusting to the altitude! The next morning when a stack of newspapers arrived, teams grabbed them and started searching inside for the clue that would direct them to their next location.

At the beginning of the episode when Phil announced that one team "may be eliminated" tonight my family guessed at who it would be. We chose the Blonde Belles because of their poor performance so far. When they were the last team to find the clue for a "hat sale" in the newspaper, I thought this episode would be pretty predictable.

How wrong I was. Departing from the store with a traditional cholita hat, Mark and Bill failed to read the clue correctly. They took a taxi to their next destination rather than proceeding on foot as directed. Oh no! This was the team I lauded last week as the "smart ones".

Sarah and Terence on Bolivian bikes. photo credit

After purchasing cholitas, teams had a detour choice of walking through the streets with a marching band or taking a bone rattling bike ride. Warning - a U-Turn was ahead. A U-Turn is a chance to select another team (arriving after you) to perform the other detour option as well.

The Frat Boys and Blonde Belles chose the musical option and seemed to have an easy time of it. Everyone else opted for the faster but riskier bike ride. Twice riders took nasty spills and Christy was injured slightly. Would the divorcees end up being U-turned? It looked for a minute as though they would be as Nick and Starr debated it only to choose against it in the end. No team used the U-Turn option this time.

Nick in the ring. photo credit

At the Roadblock, teams turned in their cholitas and chose one team member ready to "pick a fight". It turned out that the racers would be fighting a woman in a mock wrestling match! Tee hee. After being coached on a routine with six different manuevers, racers wore a colorful costume to perform in front of a large crowd. If they were successful in performing all six moves correctly, they received their clue. If not, they were thrown out of the ring to receive more coaching.

Ken was at the arena first and he made it look easy! Ken and Tina breezed to an assured first place finish. In contrast, Bill struggled with altitude sickness and had to use an oxygen tank. I wondered how walking in La Paz instead of riding in a taxi would have affected him. Mark and Bill arrived next to last at the Pit Stop but had to sit out a thirty-minute penalty for their mistake. This allowed Christy and Kelly to remain in the race as they arrived just before the penalty had elapsed. Mark and Bill were eliminated - drat, I was really sad to see them go.

Amazingly, the Blonde Belles came in as team number four - their best finish so far. They really surprised me. I'm also reevaluating Team Kids (Nick and Starr) as they seem to be creating unnecessary ill will on the race. Last week Nick burned Andrew at the roadblock and this week Starr created conflict with Kelly and Christy. We'll have to see if karma comes around to haunt them further down the road.

If you missed the episode, check out Reality News Online's full recap or the CBS recap.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Would You Implant a Cell Phone in Your Arm?

Last week at the library, my colleague Diane and I presented a workshop on mobile web. We demonstrated the various websites that can be accessed through your mobile phone and explained some of the related technology that makes it all possible. At the end of our presentation we included a few slides showing prototypes of future cell phone applications. One of them is an implanted cell phone with a digital tattoo interface.

It's designed to work using a person's blood as a power source. See the diagram and explanation below for a more detailed description.
This isn't a joke. This prototype was entered in the 2008 Greener Gadgets Competition. It's considered green technology because cell phones as we know them now contain toxic materials that require special recycling. You can read more about electonic device recycling here.

Even though it says the tattoo disappears when not in use, personally, I feel squeamish just looking at the picture! That's why I was so relieved to receive the following joke in my email today:

Three women, two younger, and one a senior citizen, were sitting naked in a sauna. Suddenly there was a beeping sound. One of the young women pressed her forearm and the beep stopped. The others looked at her questioningly. "That was my pager," she said. "I have a microchip under the skin of my arm."

A few minutes later, a phone rang. The second young woman lifted her palm to her ear. When she finished, she explained, "That was my mobile phone. I have a microchip in my hand."

The older woman felt very low-tech. Not to be outdone, she decided she had to do something just as impressive. She stepped out of the sauna and went to the bathroom. She returned with a piece of toilet paper hanging from her rear end.

The others raised their eyebrows and stared at her. The older woman finally said...."Well, will you look at that...I'm getting a fax!"

All kidding aside, here's your chance to sound off. How would you respond to the question, "Would you implant a cell phone in your arm?"
Would you implant a cell phone in your arm?
No way! That tattoo looks like the Mark of the Beast.
No. I don't want to be seen talking to my arm!
No. I use sign language and would only have one hand available to sign with, duh!
No. It hasn't been proven medically safe.
Yes. I'd consider it. Pacemakers, cochlear implants, this is just the latest thing.
Yes. I'd never have to look for my phone again! free polls

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If She Only Knew....

I got this Maxine cartoon in my email and I had to share it after my recent experience with a ghostly sounding coffee pot.