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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.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Something to Look Forward to: An Evening of Accessible Theatre

I'm so excited! My new friend Julie and I are going to a closed captioned theatre performance of Eurydice at Victory Gardens Theatre, Chicago next month.

I've been a theatre buff all my life. My parents took me to community theatre productions when I was a kid. Linda, my best friend from library school, and I once went to Stratford, Canada for their Shakespeare Festival. That weekend we saw three plays: The Gondoliers, Amadeus, and A Comedy of Errors. We were part of a tour group so I prepared by reading all the scripts in advance and finding out what the critics had to say. I wanted to be able to discuss the plays intelligently with the others on the long bus ride to Canada. Linda and I really enjoyed ourselves on that trip! Before my son was born, my husband and I used to attend a dinner theatre where you could enjoy a great meal and then watch a play or musical afterwards. Sadly, that theatre closed. Two years ago, to celebrate both of us turning the big four-oh, Linda and I drove down to Indianapolis to see Underneath the Lintel, a one man play about a librarian who travels the globe to solve a mystery.

That memorable event was about six months before I was diagnosed with hearing loss. Since then, I haven't been to a play. I considered going to one with a church group, but I hesitated wondering if I would enjoy it or simply find it tiring trying to follow the dialogue. I let that opportunity pass by. Now I'm excited that I will be able to enjoy a play the same way I enjoy a film -using captions.

Through the Victory Gardens Access Project this theatre offers productions that are accessible in three different ways.

There is sign language interpretation for ASL users.

There is closed captioning for the hearing impaired like me.

For the blind there is audio description.

I'll be sure to tell you all about our evening come November. For another blogger's experience with captioned opera, read Kim's recent post.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Amazing Race 13: Episode Two

This leg of the race was rather easy as teams only traveled within Brazil. If you missed the show, you can find RealityNewsOnline's detailed recap here.

Episode two was all about brains vs. brawn vs beauty. Which attribute would be the most important? Mark and Bill, the obvious brains in the bunch, really stood out on this leg of the race. They began by choosing a detour task that played to their strengths. They were asked to find a warehouse container using a computer database to find a code and searching the warehouse facility for the container matching that code. This was one of those tasks that seemed like a needle in a haystack, which may have been why other teams avoided it, but this team's attention to detail and sharp eyes made them come out ahead of everyone else.

That brings us to brawn. The other detour option was strength based. Teams were required to use logs to roll a boat along a sandy area until they reached the water's edge and could be launch their vessel. For the physically fit, this was the obvious choice. Most teams didn't seem to have much problem with it.

Unfortunately, Sarah and Terence made a costly error after quickly completing the task when they were unable to find the provided transportation to the next stop on the race. As team after team passed by them, they frittered away their lead and could have dropped to last place if not for the assistance of mother and son team, Toni and Dallas, who told them where the taxis were. Terence and Sarah simply needed to pay more attention to the directions - a recurring theme of the episode.

Which brings us to our two beauty teams: Divorcees Kelly and Christy and Blonde Belles Brooke and Marisa. Kelly and Christy made two strategic errors. First they misread the instructions at the boat detour task and thought they needed to receive a container. When they didn't get it from the locals, they started desperately digging in the sand next to a race flag. Oh dear...Fortunately they eventually gave up on this and proceeded on to the taxi stand. Having read the clue during the ride, they should have remembered to ask their taxi driver to wait for them while they completed their next task. Oops - in the excitement of the moment, they forgot. When the taxi driver pulled away the ladies freaked. Luckily for them, the taxi driver actually stayed in the parking area with the other taxis. Of course, the women didn't realize this for quite awhile and wasted time trying to hail another taxi. Sigh...

Blonde Belles Marisa and Brooke told the camera that they want us to know that Southern beauties aren't stupid but then conceded they may be "a little slow." Smart women everywhere rolled their eyes. The ladies initially chose the detour option that Mark and Bill did. But they neglected to pay attention to the signage when directing their driver and they ended up at the physical task. This cost them as they are not (again in their own words) "strong" and they ended up in the back of the pack headed towards the roadblock task.

This challenge involved looking at a wall with many words in Portugese written on it and determining which words revealed the next destination on the race. Bill went to the head of the class when he figured out the best approach would be to write all the words down and read them aloud to the local until the right location was spoken. This worked! Mark and Bill would have come in first place for that but unfortunately, Tina noticed what Bill was doing, copied his strategy, and she and Ken pulled it out ahead of them by just a few seconds. Team Brains were very gracious at the mat which made me respect them even more. Eventually the other teams all figured out this same strategy and arrived at the Pit Stop.

The last team to arrive was Anthony and Stephanie. It wasn't much as a surprise as they had received a "loser's edit" throughout the show. The two came on the race hoping to win money so they could get married. Traveling through Brazil showed them how much they already have to be grateful for in comparison to others less fortunate. It really is eye opening to see how others on this planet live and that's one of the reasons I enjoy watching this show.

All photos are from the CBS Amazing Race website.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The "Turn it to the Left" Song and Lyrics

This is a must watch video! I couldn't have said it any better!

"Turn it to the Left"
Rap song written and performed by Ben Jackson

Turn it to the left
Turn, turn it to the left!
Repeated three times

Now what kind of sounds can attack your ears?
Well it's all kinds of noise you've been hearing for years.
We got traffic, airplanes, power tools, and lawn mowers.
Anything ya have to yell to be heard over.
But the number one risk around
Is when the volume goes up when it should go down.
So be aware of the sounds that you're listening to
and when it gets too loud you know what to do!


So tell me what does it sound like when ya can't hear?
I mean how can ya tell when you're losing your ears?
Well do ya have to lean close to hear the words?
Do ya have to read lips, just pretend ya heard?
Do your ears hurt? Do they buzz or ring?
Are ya turning up the volume on everything?
Ya know ten million people in the U.S.A.
are saying yes to those questions everyday!

It ain't no fun, man, it ain't no fun
When you're twenty years old but your ears are eighty-one!
Imagine what it's like to be hearing this trash.
'Cuz the words are all muffled and the beat is whacked.
So if ya love music, turn it down, don't wait.
Because your hearing can't return to its original state.
That's right once the damage is done, it's forever.
Your ears can get worse but they can never get better!


Now tell me what can I do to protect myself
And make sure I'm maintaining good aural health.
Ya got one set of ears to last your whole life.
So listen up close and follow my advice.
Protect your ears when ya hear a loud sound.
When you're listening to music, turn the volume down.
Use good headphones, don't listen too long.
Get your hearing checked and memorize this song!


Find out more about "Turn it to the Left!".

Casper the Friendly Coffee Urn and Other Mysteries

I've been thinking about Tania's blog entry about how she is starting to discover new sounds with her cochlear implant. Sounds she was unaware of before and now must learn to identify - such as the gurgling sound gas makes when it runs through the pump into your car's fuel tank.

I'm actually having the opposite experience these days and I wonder if that's normal with hearing loss. I have a couple of recent examples to explain what I mean. The other day I was sitting in the kitchen with my husband and I became aware of this low buzzing sound. I thought it was coming from the kitchen sink area and I couldn't imagine what it was. I commented on it to my husband. He replied, "No, that's the computer in the living room." I had turned on said computer about five minutes beforehand but even so wasn't convinced my husband was right in this case. I said, "No, I really think it's coming from over there." When I got up to investigate, sure enough, my husband was right. [a reversal of Do You Believe Me Now? Tee hee.]

I was shocked that my sense of direction with sound was so far off! But that's happening more and more to me lately. It's especially bothersome in the car when someone honks their horn. I hear the horn but have no idea which direction it came from and if it was meant for me! Is losing your sense of direction with sound normal?

Another time I was sitting on the couch with a friend when I heard the strangest noise. "What's that?" I asked. My friend reassured me that it was just the sofa springs squeaking. In that case I couldn't believe the sound was so close by and it was really embarassing not to recognize such a common sound.

Photo credit

Early yesterday morning, I had an amusing experience with a truly mysterious sound at a soccer game. I was working alone at the concession stand when one of the other parent helpers brought out a large coffee urn and plugged it into an extension cord near me. Ooooohhhh, whooohh. Ghostly sounds started to emanate from the pot. I put my head right next to it to be sure it was coming from there.

The PTO Lady in Charge stopped by and thought the situation was quite funny. Aware of my hearing loss she asked me if I could hear it. I said, "Yes....Is it loud?". "It's noticeable," she replied tactfully. One of the other soccer moms hanging around said, "I couldn't stand to sit next to that. It would drive me crazy!" I responded, "I guess I'm the perfect person to sit here then!"

Commenting on why the coffee urn was moaning so weirdly, Lady in Charge speculated that the pot had been used for so many funerals (my son goes to a church school) that the spirits had gathered inside. Hmmmm. As for me, I found it really friendly sitting next to Casper the coffee urn. He talked to me more than the other parents did! Once the sun started shining on us an hour later he quieted down. Lady in Charge decided that proved her theory on the spirits.

So readers, what do you think? Is losing the ability to identify common sounds part of normal hearing loss? Have you ever experienced not knowing which direction a sound is coming from?