Dear Reader

This blog is no longer active as of 2017.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

On a more personal note...

2009 has been a better year for me than 2008 was. I have been on a personal healing journey and have seen relationships restored and friendships renewed. It's taken me awhile but I've finally realized the simple message the angel (below) carries is true. True for me and true for all of us.

I'd like to say thank you to everyone who has had a positive impact on my life these past twelve months. I'm feeling more hopeful about the future than I have for a long time.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of 2009 Speak Up Librarian

Best Pop Art

Best Amazing Race for recaps

Luke Adams is the first deaf contestant to run the Amazing Race.
He and his mom, Margie, finished 3rd.

Best Video posted from YouTube

Best Poem

Tinnitus is
No one else ever hears. An
Inner ear
Tingling that rings
Unceasing. The
Secret soundtrack of my life.

Creative Commons License
Tinnitus is by speakuplibrarian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Best HOH Funny
What I heard at a golf outing: Did you know Paris Hilton is in Scotland? What was actually said: Did you know the British Open is in Scotland?

Best Photo

My 2009 Blog Mantra: "To Live Out Loud and Not Fall Silent"
I lived up to this with 188 posts throughout the year.

Speak Up Librarian Blog Visitor Stats:
January 2009 - 10,000+
December 2009 - 33,000+

Avatars Have More Fun

I hate to admit this but.... my avatar is younger looking than me, MUCH thinner, and has a fabulous wardrobe to show off her figure. She gets to pose in front of interesting backgrounds and look pretty on my blog sidebar. No dark circles, acne breakouts, bad hair days, migraine headaches or tired feet for her.

Do I sound a little jealous? Perhaps....but I've been thinking for quite awhile now that she needs to have a disclaimer posted above her, something like the message on my side view car mirrors, to let you all know that she's not a true reflection of me. If she ever saw me, I'm sure she would definitely want you to know that, heh.

Last week I saw the new film Avatar. I wasn't expecting to like it much from what I'd seen of the trailer, but it had a very good storyline and I did like it. In the movie, the Avatars are actually more like clones and are not restricted to computer generated worlds. They are free to move around in a real world environment on an alien planet. To control the Avatars, their owners lie down in coffin like pods and connect their brains up to the machines' wiring. While the Avatars are awake, they consume all of their owners' time. Once the Avatars fall asleep, their owners can experience life in their real bodies again. At one point in the movie, the main character says his life has gotten all backwards, so that the Avatar life seems real and the real life seems a dream.

Have you seen the film? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Beware of Loud Toys Underneath the Christmas Tree

Originally uploaded by 1001things

Did you know that playing with loud toys poses a risk to a child's hearing? If not, here's some facts you may want to know.

  • Almost 15% of children ages 6-17 show signs of hearing loss.

  • The acoustic standard for toys adopted by the American Society for Testing and Materials is 85 db for most toys and 65 db for toys held close to the ear.

  • Not all toys currently available on store shelves are within these decibel ranges.

    The Pennsylvania Public Interest Group recently released their 24th annual report outlining toy safety guidelines for parents and citing examples of currently available toys that may pose potential safety hazards. They offer these common sense recommendations for parents when in comes to loud toys.

  • If a toy seems too loud for you, then it is probably too loud for your child.

  • You can put tape over the speakers of any toys you already own that are too loud or remove the batteries.

    Specifically, the report cites the following toys as being louder than recommended when tested by their organization.

  • Mattel Secret Saturdays Cryptid Claw

  • Playskool Kota and Pals Stompers Triceratops

  • Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Learning Phone

  • Vtech Bright Lights Phone

    The complete report entitled Trouble in Toyland can be downloaded here.
  • Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Hotels and the ADA: Information for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Travelers

    If you are traveling this holiday season and will be staying in a hotel, you may want to be aware of what services a hotel is required to provide you by law. According to the U.S. Department of Justice,

    "Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), hotels and motels must provide effective means of communications for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing to ensure that they have an equal opportunity to enjoy the goods, services, accomodations, and amenities offered."
    • TTY: A hotel must provide a TTY on request for use in guest rooms. Per the U.S. Department of Justice guidelines, a hotel needs to have a TTY at the front desk and have trained desk staff in handling TTY equipment.

    • Closed Captioning: These guidelines also specifically mention having closed captioning available for guest room televisions. But be aware that they don't specify a need for staff to be trained on accessing this equipment feature.

    • Visual alarms connected to the building's emergency alarm system: Only required to be present in a certain percentage of guest rooms. Be sure to ask for this when placing your reservation.

    • Visual notification devices for alerting deaf and hard of hearing guests to incoming telephone calls and door knocks/doorbells. Again this is required only for a certain percentage of guest rooms. Presumably they would be available in the rooms with the visual alarms, but it would be a good idea to discuss this as well when placing your reservation.

    The information in this blog post comes from the ADA Business Brief: Communicating with Guests who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in Hotels, Motels, and Other Places of Transient Lodging which can be accessed on the web through this link. Further information on the ADA is available at the U.S. Government's ADA website.

    If you find yourself not accomodated at any hotel, you have the right to file a formal complaint following the guidelines stated here.

    Thank you to Danielle who provided me with this information so I could be a more informed and better accomodated traveler.

    Wishing all of you safe travels this holiday season!

    Saturday, December 19, 2009

    Unabated Baking

    Gingerbread Men

    I've continued baking. I was halfway through making these gingerbread cookies when I noticed I didn't have enough ginger. Oops. I made a quick run to a local shop for this vital ingredient. The cost was an outrageous $5 for a small jar of the spice. But what could I do?

    That wasn't my only baking mistake. As I mentioned in a recent post, I had planned to try out my mother's and grandmother's cinnamon roll recipe this week. Fortunately, the recipe needs to be baked in two separate batches. Here's why.... My husband and I were sampling the first batch fresh out of the oven and realizing they didn't taste quite the way mom's do. While eating my fourth bun, I wondered aloud if she uses more brown sugar. Then it hit me, I had forgotten to add the cinnamon. When my husband heard that, he pointed out to my embarassment that cinnamon would have to be a main ingredient considering the name and all. Needless to say, I made sure to add cinnamon to the second batch and they tasted closer to mom's. But hers are still the best!
    Sugar Cookies

    Last night my son and I made up some dough to use in our cookie press. It's practically an antique handed down to me from my late mother-in-law. To our disappointment the cookie press no longer works. So we rolled out the dough and cut out these sugar cookies instead. I'm planning to give these bell shaped cookies to a friend of mine who collects bells. I think she'll enjoy them. I had fun decorating them for her.

    Sugar Cookies

    These Christmas tree shaped cookies are decorated with cinnamon candies. Some of them melted during the baking process. My son and I decided those were the ones we'd eat. Mmmm.
    Tonight we plan to make chocolate covered pretzels. Yum!

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Window Wednesday

    Photo of my window's reflection of our Christmas tree.
    [Taken from inside the house]

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Been Busy Baking

    What's making Rusty's mouth water?
    The wonderful smells in the kitchen.
    I took a week off of work and I've been
    busy baking. Here's what I've made so far...

    White Chip Chocolate Cookies
    [recipe from Hersheys]
    We call this the reverse chocolate chip at our
    house. It's very rich, almost like a brownie.

    Pumpkin Cookies
    I had some leftover canned pumpkin from baking pumpkin
    bread and I decided to try my hand at these cookies.
    They are delicious and aromatic.

    [recipe from my trusty Better Homes and Gardens
    cookbook] These classic cookies are easy to make
    and there are no unusual ingredients to buy.

    Tomorrow I'm going to try my hand at a cinnamon bun recipe that's been handed down from my grandmother to my mother and now to me. I was surprised when I asked my mom for the recipe that she had the ingredients and directions completely in her head. She doesn't have them written down anywhere! It's a two day project which explains why I've never gotten around to making them myself. Not to mention that my mother spoils us by bringing them when she visits and regularly serving them at her house.

    Then it's on to making more traditional Christmas cookies: gingerbread men, cookie press cookies, and sugar cookie cutouts. We also like to make chocolate covered pretzels for Christmas too. Fortunately, this year my teenage son has shown a great interest in helping me bake and has been willing to help clean up afterwards. Of course he (like me) enjoys sampling the goodies. Cookies taste best hot out of the oven.

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Photo Fun for Friday: First Snow of the Season

    Left out in the cold.

    Not an inviting seat tonight.

    Outdoor Christmas light closeup.

    Don't the Christmas tree lights look nice
    with the snow on the branches?

    One of our bushes alight in the night.

    Our Christmas tree Advent Calendar
    is getting more decorated by the day.

    Last weekend my husband got our outdoor wreaths and lights up. Tomorrow we will put up our Christmas tree and decorate it as a family. The school Christmas concert is this weekend. I've got most of my Christmas shopping and writing of Christmas cards completed. Next up - baking Christmas cookies.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    Beautiful Blogger Award

    Thank you Jelly for choosing me for this award. Now it's my turn to nominate 7 other bloggers for the award. The envelope please.... [sound of envelope being opened.] Leaning into the microphone [picture the stage of the Academy Awards] "My nominees for Beautiful Blogger Award are..."
    Liz A blogger buddy who I consider a friend even though we live an ocean apart. She's creative and pursuing her dream of writing a children's book. She's also the new owner of an adorable hamster named Bubbles.
    Glenice Author of beautiful poetry. She has a cochlear implant and revels in the sounds she is now able to hear.
    Deafinitely Girly Most definitely! She is a prolific and honest blogger with an amusing way of referring to her friends in her writing by pet names.
    AmyKay I hope this award might motivate you to blog more frequently. I've missed your voice in the blogosphere.
    Danielle Someone I've only connected with online recently. I'm interested to know more of your story.
    DebAnn and Kim - who were both previously nominated by Jelly but who have been such a part of my blogging journey that I couldn't overlook them.
    My final duty is to tell you 7 "interesting" things about me. Frankly, I can't think of anything, so I'm just going to write the first 7 experiences I love that come into my head:
    1) going to the beach (a warm sunny day sounds so good on this cold night)
    2) discovering a new "favorite" author - particularly one who writes series so I can gorge on book after book
    3) falling asleep on the couch while my family watches tv (can you tell I'm feeling sleepy about now?)
    4) sharing a friend's good news (it's so nice to be happy for someone else and be a part of their joy)
    5) taking a photo I can be proud of (I'm still experimenting and learning so my standards may be lower than yours)
    6) sleeping in on Saturday mornings (did I mention I'm a bit tired?)
    7) falling into the oblivion of sleep (my eyes just won't stay open any longer)
    ....zzzz.... Good night, everyone!

    Monday, December 7, 2009

    Meghan and Cheyne Win: Amazing Race Finale

    I've been thinking it over and I've concluded that Meghan and Cheyne were the ideal Amazing Race team. Not just for this season, but of all the seasons I've watched. Meghan was a strong athlete who held her own with the male contestants. Her partner Cheyne was sharp. He always seemed to figure out what needed to be done to give them the competitive edge. For example, in last night's episode, he figured out in two tries how to assist his partner in completing the task. Something that Brian and Ericka who had a substantial headstart could not emulate. Coming in last to the task of counting out $1 million in poker chips, Cheyne kept a cool head and immediately sized up what needed to be done. He and Meghan were the perfect partners, always patient and encouraging to each other. That's especially impressive as they are a dating couple. If I had the chance to speak directly to them, I would say, "Meghan, Cheyne is a keeper. If you decide to make a lifetime commitment, I wish you both all the happiness in the world. For now enjoy the money and spend it wisely."

    For those who missed the episode, despite an early lead, Brian and Ericka ran in 3rd. The brothers came in 2nd. To my disappointment there was no final challenge that required any recall of events that took place during the course of the race. I hope the producers will bring that back for future seasons.