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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not Quite the Shape I Want to Be In

Originally uploaded by
Life Design Strategies

I wrote yesterday about my workout efforts. The frustrating thing is that even though I've been exercising for a year now, my weight has stayed exactly the same. It's enough to make me want to throw my scale against the wall. My friends try to reassure me that I've gained more muscle and that weighs more than fat.

Does muscle weigh more than fat?
Find out here. Check out a more detailed explanation here.

Hmmm. Oh well, maybe it's just time for a new scale! Anyways, I had to laugh when I received the following "conspiracy theory" in my email. Enjoy!

This is happening right now! Have you noticed that stairs are getting steeper. Groceries are heavier. And, everything is farther away.. Yesterday I walked to the corner and I was dumbfounded to discover how long my street had become!

And, you know, people are less considerate now, especially the young ones. They speak in whispers all the time! If you ask them to speak up they just keep repeating themselves, endlessly mouthing the same silent message until they're red in the face!

I also think they are much younger than I was at the same age. On the other hand, people my own age are so much older than I am. I ran into an old friend the other day and she has aged so much that she didn't even recognize me. I got to thinking about the poor dear while I was combing my hair this morning, and in doing so, I glanced at my own reflection well, really now - even mirrors aren't made the way they used to be!

Clothing manufacturers are less civilized these days... Why else would they suddenly start labeling a size 10 or 12 dress as 18 or 20? Do they think no one notices? The people who make bathroom scales are pulling the same prank. Do they think I actually 'believe' the number I see on that dial? Ha! I would never let myself weigh that much! Just who do these people think they're fooling?

I'd like to call up someone in authority to report what's going on -- but the telephone company is in on the conspiracy too: they've printed the phone books in such small type that no one could ever find a number in there! All I can do is pass along this warning: We are under attack! Unless something drastic happens, pretty soon everyone will have to suffer these awful indignities.

Please pass this on to everyone you know as soon as possible so we can get this conspiracy stopped!

LOL, there's a grain of truth in there. At a coworker's suggestion, I recently increased the font size on my computer screen. What a world of difference it made! Ah well, such is the life of the middle age plus. Don't mind me, I'm going out shopping for an accurate scale.

Can you relate?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Treadmill Time Rewarded

Since February I have been participating in a fitness program sponsored by my employer. The deal is if I exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes and have this verified by human resources employees or fitness center staff, my name gets entered in a biweekly prize drawing. As stated before I love prizes, so the incentives really motivated me. So far I had been lucky enough to have my name picked for a t-shirt, a pen, and a $5 gift certificate to the campus bookstore.

Yesterday was the last day of our official program. Fitness participants sporting their red prize t-shirts gathered expectantly for the final prize drawing. This time all the remaining prizes were laid out on a table and winners were allowed to make their own choice. I was delighted when my name was called and I nabbed a $5 gift certificate to Olive Garden.

Speeches by university executives followed with the surprise announcement that the program would continue after all. Prize drawings would now be limited to once a month and two outdoor walking paths would be marked for those who wanted to get some fresh air and sunshine. Hooray!

Then it was time for the grand finale drawing for those who had participated each week since the start of the program. Six lucky winners would receive two tickets to a university theatre performance. Drum roll, please.... Yes! I was one of the lucky winners! Whoo-hoo! Now my husband and I could have a date night to see a play. When I called to arrange the seats, I was informed we would be in the balcony. Well, not my first choice (obviously) but hey it's free. I'll bring along my PocketTalker and enjoy having a night out with my sweetheart.

Just for laughs, I've posted this amusing video. It's of a song performed on treadmills. For my deaf friends, I've watched it with no sound on and it's still fun to see the innovative choreography. I hope you'll enjoy it. Needless to say, I haven't progressed to this agility level yet myself.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Does Research = Hope for the Hard of Hearing?

When my audiologist first told me about my hearing loss, she tried to reassure me by saying there was lots of research being done on my type of hearing loss. Today I read on Science Daily "How Human Ear Translates Vibrations Into Sounds: Discovery Of Ion Channel Turns Ear On Its Head" and wondered what impact this new information might have. Anyone who wears hearing aids knows they help but they definitely don't restore normal hearing.

Here's a few quotes from the article:

"Anthony Ricci, PhD, associate professor of otolaryngology, and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin and the Pellegrin Hospital in France found that the ion channels responsible for hearing aren't located where scientists previously thought. The discovery turns old theories upside down, and it could have major implications for the prevention and treatment of hearing loss."

"Ricci explained, "Location is important, because our entire theory of how sound activates these channels depends on it. Now we have to re-evaluate the model that we've been showing in textbooks for the last 30 years."

Don't ask me what an ion channel is because I don't know. The pictures I found on Google didn't make it any clearer to me, either. I just have to trust the scientists on this. Apparently these researchers worked with hair cells from rats rather than the hair cells of bullfrogs which had been used in prior experiments. From that statement alone I think the scientists still have a lot to learn about human hearing.

What do you think? Are you hoping for a scientific breakthrough? To keep up-to-date with the latest research on hearing loss, check out the Science Daily newsfeed in my blog sidebar.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Carrying a Grudge Doesn't Slow Down Margie & Luke

In last night's episode, it was apparent that Margie & Luke are still upset at Jen & Kisha. Luke stated, "I'm done. I'm not going to talk to them." The sisters said in an interview they were ready to move on and be over it. The two teams kept a wary distance from each other during this leg of the race.

With four teams left, everyone was focused on making it to the final three for the race to the finish line. At the airport, Tammy used her Chinese language skills to arrange for a seat near the front of the plane while requesting the other teams be seated near the back. Game on!

The racers flew to Beijing, home of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Tammy & Victor had just been there to attend the games! They said, "If we don't survive the Beijing leg, we will bring disgrace to the Chinese people." Could this be foreshadowing?

The first destination was a foot massage spa where racers were asked, "Who's feeling manipulative?" For this Roadblock, one team member must drink Chinese herbal tea and receive a foot massage. Sounds easy enough but there was a twist. The foot massage was extremely painful and if a racer cried "uncle" before 10 minutes had passed, the massage would start again. This was unpleasant to watch. I think someone at CBS has a sadistic streak. First racers had to run in their underwear in Siberia and now they had to endure a massage that brought them to tears. CBS, on behalf of your viewers I'm crying "uncle" here. For the record, Cara, Kisha, Tammy, and Luke got the massages and all made it through their ordeal.

Their next stop was a nautatorium where Michael Phelps swam in the Summer Olympics. Racers were given the Detour options of Sync or Swim. In sync, they were required to jump off diving boards and hit the water at the same time. In swim, the teams must swim 400 meters and compare their time with Phelps'. Yeah, right.

Tammy & Victor chose sync but after numerous tries were unable to hit the water at the same moment. They gave up and switched to swim. Jaime & Cara who are strong swimmers had already powered their way through this task. Margie & Luke also put in an excellent performance in the water, finishing second.

As seen in last week's preview, Jen has a strong fear of drowning. She & Kisha first tried the diving task. Looking down at the water from the diving board, Jen backed out and insisted on the other task. Her sister swam her lap but when it was Jen's turn she just couldn't do it. She told Kisha they need to go back to diving. After unsuccessfully diving, Jen was in tears saying she wanted to go home. To her credit, Kisha was extremely patient with her sister. By now all the other teams had completed the Detour and gone on to the Pit Stop destination. Kisha urged her sister to "finish strong" by swimming. She wore a life jacket even though she didn't need one to show support for her sister who did. Certain they were out of the race, the sisters nevertheless completed the swimming task without quitting.

Meanwhile in their taxicab, Jaime and Cara recalled other times on the race they had left a Detour first only to arrive at the Pit Stop after another team. This time, they get to Phil first. But something was wrong. He didn't proclaim them "team #1". Instead he handed them a clue and told them the leg wasn't finished! The words "To Be Continued" appeared on the screen and that's the last we saw of this episode. I guess we can't count Jen & Kisha out yet. I would have liked to have seen their reaction to Phil's surprise.

The preview for next week showed teams sampling Chinese delicacies and the cheerleaders struggling with the language barrier. Go, Luke & Margie, go.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Flowers for Friday: Orange You Glad It's Friday!

Orange tulips in bloom.

Daffodil with an orange center.

View of one section of our flower beds.
There's a creek behind the trees in the upper right.

First look at the hostas which frame our stone walkway.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Books: Are They Passé or Here to Stay?

Photo originally uploaded by PPL2a

Are books passé (behind the times) or will they be around forever?

This is an interesting question for me as a librarian who is now working almost exclusively with digital materials rather than the traditional hardcover books. My day is spent looking at a computer screen, tapping away at a keyboard, and exercising my mouse while searching online catalog records and verifying that Internet links are correct.

Currently I am the only employee of the library who is cataloging digital materials. There are four catalogers handling print and audiovisual materials. Last summer I was transferred summer from the Cataloging Department to Library Technology which has just been renamed Digital Library Services. I am happy about this change because frankly I still have lots of years to go until retirement and if there's even the slightest chance that books are going to kick the bucket, I still want to be employable.

That being said, however, my personal reading experiences remain old school. Okay, I admit I have read a few books online through NetLibrary but I haven't read them beginning to end or "cover to cover" as we used to say. It's been more of a browse really. Nor do I own any of the portable devices that are available and am not too knowledgeable of them (new job department title notwithstanding). I'd characterize myself as an avid book reader with generally several titles on my nightstand. In order to feed my need to read, I'm a regular patron of my local public library where the books are free rather than a customer at the bookstore. I don't know if it's the influence of my choice of career or not but I own relatively few books.

To solicit input from others I took an informal poll on the topic at work. I asked people whether they thought books in a physical format were as of now passé or here to stay. The five coworkers I got to take me seriously all voted for here to stay. Some qualified their remarks a bit saying things like "in a hundred years or so it might be different" and "the digital ebook readers will have to get a lot better" but everyone was confident that books will be around for quite awhile yet.

Here's a look at the other point of view:

Voices for Passé

"With most media being converted to digital formats in order to be made more portable, such as music and movies, it’s only a matter of time before books make a similar leap. Sure, there’s a certain comfort brought by carrying around a real book, but just like the warm-sounding vinyl records before them, they’re bound to become a relic owned only by serious fans. What’ll replace them? Digital books."

Quoted from post "Sony Reader Hints Towards the Death of Books" on (January 2008)

Photo by Kevin P. Casey for The New York Times

Edward Wyatt of the New York Times reported that the Kindle (pictured above) was the talk of the BookExpo America trade show in June 2008.

Electronic Device Stirs Unease at Book Fair
"Booksellers, who make up the other major group attending the
publishing convention, are also concerned that electronic books could become more than a passing fancy for an electronically savvy subset of customers. “It certainly does feel like a threat,” said Charles Stillwagon, the events manager at the Tattered Cover Book Store, a large independent bookseller in Denver.

Nearly all publishers say their sales of electronic books are growing
exponentially. Carolyn K. Reidy, the chief executive of Simon & Schuster, said its sales of electronic books will more than double this year compared to last year, after growing 40 percent in 2007 from 2006. David Shanks, the chief executive of Penguin Group USA, said his company sold more electronic books in the first four months of 2008 than in all of last year."

Read full article here.

But on the other hand....

Voices for Here to Stay

"It is an immutable law that the Death of the Book must be debated at least once a year.....The book is an artefact of the heart. Because the mind responds more viscerally and profoundly to words on paper, it gets an emotional charge, a deep connection with the characters, a yearning desire to know the ending that is not found on a screen. Books hold our personal histories; our bookshelves are the record of our lives. Our childish loves, our adolescent passions, our sudden crazy obsessions, are all up there in our room, to remind us. The physical act of opening a pristine novel, getting the scent of it in our nostrils, and yes, holding it close to our heart, are sensory and uniquely human experiences. We carry books to show who we are, to impress new crushes, to protect us when dining alone; we take down an old favourite down when we are shattered from heartbreak, or demoralised by illness, or overwhelmed by life."

Quoted from The Guardian 4/17/07 "The Death of the Book, Again". Read full article here.

I'll finish up with a quote from a librarian I read in a book just this week.

"And when you walk into the library, you still notice the books: shelf after shelf and row after row of books. The covers may be more colorful, the art more expressive, and the type more contemporary, but in general the books look the same as they did in 1982, and 1962, and 1942. And that's not going to change.

Books have survived television, radio, talking pictures, circulars (early magazines),dailies (early newspapers), Punch and Judy shows, and Shaekespeare's plays. They have survived World War II, the Hundred Years' War, the Black Death, and the fall of the Roman Empire. They even survived the Dark Ages, when almost no one could read and each book had to be copied by hand. They aren't going to be killed off by the Internet.

As written by Vicki Myron a library director from Iowa in her best
selling book Dewey The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World.

What do you think? Passé or here to stay?

*Update* Read Liz's experience with purchasing an ebook here.

*Update 12/09* Megan from Hearing Sparks has written a post on four initiatives to make ebooks more accessible to the visually impaired.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Off to a Good Start

On Monday I learned I have a new boss. Today he brought in these delicious oreo frosted cupcakes with a little mini oreo on top for my coworker's birthday. Delicious! You can see we lost no time in getting into them as two are already gone from the package!

Jelly, he would be a dream boss for you! Want to come work at my library?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Conflict at the Clue Boxes and Confrontation at the Pit Stop

In tonight's episode the teams travel to China. This is a welcome development for Tammy and Victor who speak Chinese. Margie comments that traveling in countries that don't speak English is an eye opening experience for her. Luke states he would like to go to a country where everyone is deaf and signs. That's where he would have the advantage.

In last week's preview we saw that conflict erupts between Margie & Luke and Kisha & Jen. While riding in a cab, Jen interviews that if she sees someone in front of her, she is going to knock them over. Both sisters recall that Margie & Luke's taxi driver in Bangkok purposely gave their driver wrong directions and they are still sore about it.

At the clue box, Luke and Jen race to arrive first with Luke edging out Jen. She comes right at him (instead of waiting a second for him to get his clue and move out of the way) and he elbows her out of the way. Jen then calls him "bitch" saying it was a bitch move he used on her. Of course Luke doesn't hear her but Margie does! She fills him in on their cab ride to the roadblock. Luke tells her, "Good thing I'm deaf, if I had heard her call me bitch, it would have been on!" He is obviously very angry at this turn of events.

All the teams except the stuntsmen arrive at the roadblock around the same time. For this task, appropriately named Fowl Play, one team member works with a local to toss fish in the water for a trained cormorant to retrieve. Jen & Kisha finish first and are pleased when they see Luke has been bitten by one of the birds. Ouch! "Bad duck" Luke says while the sisters think aloud "karma."

Meanwhile the stuntsmen are working on their Speed Bump task of washing and drying two customers hair outside a salon while locals watch. The guys enjoy shampooing, rinsing the ladies' hair with water from a tea kettle, and giving them a vigorous towel dry. They finish quickly and hurry to catch up with the others.

At the next clue box, Luke and Jen collide again. This time Jen arrives first and the clue box slides over a few feet upon impact. Jen nearly loses her balance. Margie & Kisha hurry over to intervene.

There's no time to argue as the racers move on to their Detour choice of Calligraphy or Choreography. The cheerleaders opt for Choreography while Margie & Luke, Jen & Kisha, and Tammy & Victor choose Calligraphy. For the Choreography task, Jaime & Cara learn a complicated dance routine and perform with other couples. They are stunned when they have trouble getting the judges to approve their performance. They walk away to switch tasks when they realize that perhaps they only needed to perform the routine for the whole song rather than only one time.

Meanwhile, Tammy & Victor's fluency in Chinese helps them communicate with the four local artists who paint Chinese characters for the racers to copy. Kisha & Jen and Margie & Luke follow closely realizing the siblings have the advantage here.

In a footrace to the Pit Stop, Kisha & Jen arrive first and win a trip to Barbados. Tammy & Victor arrive next with Margie & Luke coming in right behind them for third place. A confrontation between Kisha & Jen and Margie & Luke erupts as each tries to explain to Phil what happened at the clue boxes. At one point Luke walks away and calls out "bitch" over his shoulder. Phil asks him to come back and tell his side. Margie becomes extremely upset when it's Luke's turn and she believes the sisters are laughing at his way of communicating. She and Luke explain how difficult it is when all his life hearing people have tried to put him down for being deaf. Kisha denies she was laughing, only smiling because of the tense situation.

Oblivious to all this, the cheerleaders arrive and are pleased to learn they are still in the race. Later the stuntsmen arrive (they chose the Choreography option, by the way) and are eliminated from the race.

In next week's preview, Jen is shown breaking down when faced with a swimming task due to her fear of water. Could it be karma?

What did you think of tonight's episode?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Flowers for Friday: First Tulip Sighting

Yellow hyacinth with daffodils in the background.

The first tulip to bloom this year.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

SpeakUp Librarian's Bookshelf

Be sure and check out my new Shelfari Bookshelf in my blog sidebar located just below my avatar. For this collection I've selected nonfiction books on being deaf or hard of hearing and fiction books with characters who are either deaf or hard of hearing. These are all books that I've read and either learned from or enjoyed. If you run your mouse over a title you can see a brief description of the book. The number of stars indicates how much I liked the book.

If you'd like to join Shelfari and create your own bookshelf click here.

You can find my complete collection on Shelfari here. It's a work in progress. If you have any books you'd like to recommend to me, I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Really...I'm Not the Best Person to Ask!

Tee hee. I have to share two hearing loss related anecdotes from the reference desk.

On my shift today a woman came up to me and complained about another patron talking loudly on a cell phone. Hmm. Okay. I got up from my chair and walked back to the public computer area looking around for the offender. I could see that another person was annoyed about it as well.

"Which person is it?" I asked after not spotting an obvious culprit. The complainer looked at me incredulously. "She's right there by the copier! Can't you hear her?" "No," I admitted, "I'm hard of hearing." Understanding dawned on her face - as if she was thinking no wonder the librarian isn't upset by this rude person.

I was in an awkward spot. It's difficult for me to access whether or not a person is being disruptively noisy. Although in this case having two people complain should qualify. Of course, the patron pointed out to me was one of our more sensitive regulars. I would have to be careful of myself here. I went over and touched her arm gently and said in a quiet voice, "We don't allow cell phone conversations in here." Then I walked away.

Fortunately on my way back to the desk I got grabbed by another person in need of assistance with a scanner so I had a legitimate reason for not sticking around to see if she ended her conversation or not. Noise enforcement is not my forte! While I was helping this person, the cell phone lady came by, touched my hand, and said sweetly, "I'm sorry. I forgot the rule." Phew, glad that played out the way it did.

My other funny story happened on a different day. My colleague was talking on the phone to someone with quite an unusual reference research question. In disbelief, she handed the phone to me saying, "See if I heard that right." Ha, no one ever says that to me! I listened and yes the request was definitely unique. I had no problem passing it on to one of our subject specialists to handle.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Margie Recovers for Another First Place Finish with Luke!

Last week Margie frightened me when she fainted at the pit stop. She appeared to be suffering from heat exhaustion. I wondered all week whether she would be able to recover her stamina and continue this grueling race. Well, I need not have worried as Margie lived up to her "Bionic Woman" reputation by rocking all the tasks on tonight's episode.

She easily assembled a propeller at the Roadblock. Then at the Detour she searched through bowls containing 50 dentures to find perfect matches for 5 dental patients. Eeew, I would have trouble overcoming my squeamishness but Margie's background as a nurse helped her here. I say her because she found all 5 matches. Luke was not much help. At one point he even tried to put bottom dentures on a patient that needed uppers - oops. The other Detour option chosen by everyone else looked a lot more fun. They got to take a ride in a "party taxi" while singing a repetitive karaoke song in Thai with three locals.

Throughout tonight's episode Luke & Margie made smart racing decisions and finished first again. Whoohoo! Their prize tonight was a trip to Puerto Rico. Cheerleaders Jaime & Cara finished second even though they had their usual difficulties with taxi drivers. Tammy & Victor fell behind early in the race when Victor struggled to put together the propeller but ended up finishing just behind the cheerleaders.

The other two teams, Mark & Michael and Kisha & Jen, made the very poor decision of leaving their belongings behind with their waiting taxis at the Roadblock. Their assumption that they would be returning to that spot proved wrong. Even worse, the sisters left behind their passports and money on a dock. Yikes! Luckily the sisters were able to convince a taxi driver to give them a free ride back to their starting point. That driver's generosity kept them in the game.

In contrast, the stuntsmen used personal possessions to pay fares on two taxi rides which was a violation of race rules. Even though they checked in ahead of Kisha & Jen, they were given two 2 hour penalties by Phil at the mat. Apparently they didn't learn their lesson from last week. Kisha & Jen finished with more than 3 hours remaining on the brothers' penalty clock. Fortunately for the guys it was a nonelimination leg.

Mark & Michael will face an uphill battle next week with their departure delayed by the remaining penalty time and a Speed Bump task only they will have to perform. I wonder if we'll see another U-turn opportunity? The previews showed Luke and Jen colliding twice at clue boxes and each calling the other a b rhymes with witch. Temper, temper! Phil's eyebrows are raised at this turn of events. Stay tuned and continue to cheer on Luke & Margie. Go, Luke & Margie, go!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Flowers for Friday (one day late)

No photos for Friday as yesterday was cloudy and my phone needed charging. Fortunately today is sunny and bright (although still cold). I took these photos this morning in my backyard with my cell phone.

Daffodils are such a cheerful flower. I love their yellow blooms.

Hyacinths have such a lovely smell. Purple ones are my favorite.

Perhaps by next week our tulips will be in bloom.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Bill Cresswell

I'm finding myself becoming more "caption dependent" all the time. This week I went to a movie with open captions that I wouldn't have gone to otherwise. The movie (Duplicity) was so-so as I expected but getting to see the dialogue was very enjoyable. In my house, it's become standard practice to switch the captions on for a DVD as soon as the previews are finished.

That's why I want to take a moment to salute Bill Cresswell, whose personal mission is "captioning the Internet one video at a time". He has published an Open Letter to Studios and TV Networks calling for them to caption internet videos. In the meantime, he has stepped up to the challenge of captioning videos for those of us who need them through his website. He regularly captions movie trailers and will caption videos upon request. I asked for his help once and he responded very quickly to my request. He does this on his own time at no charge. His website even includes a link to donate to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, an organization in his local community.

Bill is hearing. He is a self described "web developer, family guy, and singing fool". He works for a theatre that provides captions and described audio (for the blind). He's learning ASL and is a true friend to the deaf and hard of hearing.

From the bottom of my heart, Bill, thank you for all you do.