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Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year’s Resolutions for 2013

          I’m not a huge believer in New Year’s Resolutions. Mostly their impact on my life comes from all the people who show up at the gym in January because they resolved that this is the year they are going to get in shape. So, for a while the rest of us have a longer wait to use machines. Of course, it’s generally not the year, and the resolved go away by February.

          I made some general resolutions a few years back that have served me well and I continue to work toward those goals – read more, continue to work out, pursue writing, and somewhere along the line I added an effort to improve my diet. The last one has essentially equated to drinking more water, mostly because my diet isn’t over-the-top healthy but it’s really not that bad either.

          Anyway, those core resolutions seem to be just about all I need. They’re solid, realistic ambitions that don’t come with success or failure. They’re not about the immediate result. If I slack off, I just have to hit a point where I realize it and “get back on the horse.” But not much has changed in my life in the last few years, at least not in the ways I wanted, and I fell short of a couple specific goals in 2012 that I wanted to accomplish. So, aside from continuing the efforts mentioned above, I have some 2013-specific resolutions:

·       Publish I’m Not Here to Inspire You, my book of essays on experiences living with a disability. I spent a lot of time trying to get it published this year, and received some good feedback from a couple of trusted sources that I hope will lead to having it out in the new year.

·       Finish writing the novel I’ve been writing on-and-off for a couple years tentatively titled No One to Trust. I’ve been making it more and more of a priority, but came up short of finishing a rough draft this year. Accomplishing this goal may include less or no more blogging and tweeting. It just eats up too much of my time and energy for writing and doesn’t accomplish enough if anything. I also want to make my blogging, tweeting, and other social media efforts, more directly about promoting my writing. Coupled with the fact that I’ve already given up regular sports blogging, making the “Page 2” reference outdated, I may be making some adjustments to my blogs and Twitter accounts.

·       Stop wasting time on Facebook. It’s a good idea that has gone horribly wrong. Even my thought (read: my excuse to keep using the site after swearing it off in the past) that it could be useful as a news aggregator didn’t hold up. Also, engaging commenters on links to blog posts has generally provided more evidence that people feel empowered by the lack of actual human interaction on Facebook to say obnoxious and idiotic things often without even reading what I’ve written. Political debates on the site never lead to worthwhile discussion and are just another waste of time and energy. As I mentioned I will still use “social media,” including Facebook, to promote my writing and hopefully my book. I just need to stop engaging in nonsense and reading the 10 meaningful, life-changing sayings that people have liked or shared on a given day. And I don’t need to know the intimate details of the life of people I went to high school with and barely knew back then. And I’m sure they don’t need to know details about me. This is not about being anti-social. I’ve changed my settings on Facebook to receive actual messages from friends via e-mail. (Remember e-mail? Where people communicate directly to each other?)

·       Expand my boundaries on the trike. I did this a little bit last year and, due to the width of my bike, doing it as much as I’d like is not always in my control. However, there were at least a couple of opportunities that were under my control that I failed to take advantage of in 2012. This resolution includes becoming a stronger cyclist, and possibly doing the MS Ride 2013.

·       Create a regular “pickup game” of wheelchair hockey once a week or once a month to have some fun, get a little exercise, and just have another activity to enjoy. Years ago I stated another goal of creating a rec center geared toward people with disabilities. It was always intended as a long-term goal and remains just that. I figure I will need to have a historic run in Vegas some day or make the best-seller list for it happen. As an interim goal or resolution with some of the same ideals in mind, I’ve been asking around if anyone would be interested in playing manual wheelchair hockey. If I can get a few people interested, I hope to ask the Y or maybe a local college if they could help us out with space to play. Obviously, considering the realities of living with a disability, it will have to be more organized than a true pickup game, but I want it to be a casual, fun thing to do without making it a major commitment for people to show up every game. I’ve been aware of the Philadelphia PowerPlay for some time, but that seems to be strictly for power chair users. I’m also aware of the sled hockey team of the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports program, but I don’t have the upper body control to play on that level. I was thinking of something for those of us who fall in the middle of those ability ranges.

          Five steps to a better me? Worth a shot.

Friday, December 28, 2012

#WePush2 Finishing 2012 strong – 70mins, 15 miles, L8 manual on the bike; 13 miles at the hour mark...

(after which I drop to L5 for about 90 secs for some water). Also doing 30 minutes on each the ergo-meter (L7) and the rower for an hour of upper body aerobics. I was finally up to 50pds, 150 reps on the ab machine, but the Y literally just changed machines. I could only do 30pds on the new one and it’s almost impossible not to involve the arms. I don’t post to brag; hoping others with disabilities who aren’t necessarily on the Paralympian level will join the conversation about working out with the hashtag!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just watched the worst Christmas movie I have ever seen: Christmas with the Kranks.

Shockingly based on a John Grisham novel, Skipping Christmas, this movie had a dumb premise that I didn't care about 10 minutes in, and simply got worse and worse as it dragged on. They were still trying to create story lines that were worse than the main one in the last 20 minutes of the movie. I wasn't expecting much, having DVR'd the movie on FX to kill a dull night at some point. I was looking for a few laughs and expected a rather cheesy plot . . . and it still disappointed. I can't believe Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis starred in this ridiculously bad film that also featured Dan Akroyd. Movie fans may not want to skip Christmas, but they should absolutely skip Christmas with the Kranks.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I'm tired of hearing people say, "Guns don't kill people." ...

Yes, they do. Enough with clinging to an amendment that was meant to allow citizens in the 1700s to actually defend their country when people were using muskets! I can't conceive of what the parents of the kindergarten children and others are feeling tonight and will feel for the rest of their lives. I understand the desire to post messages of sympathy on Facebook, etc., but it's time to do a lot more than that. It's time to get rid of the guns that make it possible for these murderous acts to happen over and over.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Are we all getting scroogled? Check out the video here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kudos to Bob Costas for not only saying something of substance about the need for better gun control in this country, but . . .

for not backing down to idiots in the media suggesting he had no right to say it. The comments were made on an NFL broadcast after an NFL player orphaned his daughter by killing his girlfriend and himself with a gun. To suggest his comments were somehow misplaced is absurd.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanks to the kindness of a stranger ...

I was able to get my driver’s license renewed today. After being given the wrong ticket by the guy who didn’t focus all that hard on what I said I needed to do at the DMV, I was eventually sent to a woman who spoke broken English when I finally had my number called. She may otherwise be a very nice person, but she clearly wasn’t comfortable assisting me in any way. To be fair, I’ll even admit that I don’t know how often someone with my level of physical disability would need to access the DMV, so this is not a complaint about the woman nor the lack of accessibility in their system. (Previous experiences have actually been extremely easy, in fact.) But between signing things with pens that were chained to the desk and having to access a number keypad to answer questions on a computer that wasn’t equipped with adaptive features, the process quickly became frustrating. Then a middle-aged white guy – and I mention those characteristics because he is part of a group that is generally the least likely to offer assistance to me in public in my experience even though I am more or less part of that group – got out of the waiting area to assist me. He wasn’t asked to help, I’ve never seen the guy before in my life, and I have no idea what prompted him to do it. But less than a week from Thanksgiving on a day that turned out to be filled with frustrating customer service (or lack thereof) in places where it should be expected I was very thankful for his assistance.

Friday, November 9, 2012

I decided to rephrase this from last night, but I’m still tired of people suggesting that they go to work to support lazy people under Obamacare. Well, no, you don’t....

The Health Care Reform Act has a work requirement. I specifically see many people saying this who grew up much like me -- white and middle-class economically, if not better. Some really didn’t work all that hard to get where they are. They started in the right slot, muddled through school, and got the career they always assumed they would. They also grew up able-bodied, and most of them work in places that wouldn’t even consider hiring me because I’m disabled. I know, most will say, “We don’t mean disabled people.” But that has started to seep into the public dialogue. And who exactly do you mean? Yes, some people scam the system, but that’s a failure in enforcement, not the law, and probably happens in as many “good” neighborhoods as the ones in the minds of people saying this stuff. Who exactly doesn’t deserve health care? By the way, one of these comments came from a person suggesting America died on Tuesday. This morning I saw a post from a serviceman actually saying goodbye to America...because he was leaving to defend it for 6 months. Try some facts before you gripe about having a job.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Voting in Support of Obama, Democrats, especially to Defend People with Disabilities

          There are many reasons that I’ll be voting strictly for Democrats on Tuesday. President Obama is not only at the top of the ballot, he’s at the top of the list of my reasons. I think he has served honorably despite an onslaught of vicious attacks that I don’t think any other president has faced. He can’t and won’t call it out as the racism that it is, but many realize he has forged ahead without once responding to the blatant prejudiced he’s faced veiled as political banter. I think he has chosen to do what is right over the easy political move time and time again. And I think he has worked to move the economy in the right direction for everyone as opposed to giving the rich every advantage in the world and hoping everyone else gets a few leftovers.

          However, my vote will also be a vote against the Republican Party that has become elitist, openly scornful of anyone in a minority status, very much including myself and other people with disabilities, has inexplicably and repeatedly chosen to attack victims of rape, and at this point has a presidential ticket that seems to lie as a matter of course. (Mitt Romney has actually been called out for his latest lies by the auto industry.)

          Most of all my vote will be intended to protect the rights and integrity of people with disabilities, who have been regularly attacked by republican candidates for reasons beyond my comprehension. While our president has not been as forceful as I would like to see in working to further the struggle of people with disabilities to become equal members of society, the republican party seems to find our mere existence an affront to their misguided sense of right and wrong.

          Here’s just a few reminders of their unacceptable attitudes from previous posts:

·       Live from Hell’s Kitchen recently reported that Bob Marshall, a republican from Virginia, blasted Planned Parenthood, saying “that God was punishing women who had abortions by giving them disabled children. . . . has his direct quote: ‘The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,’ said Marshall, a Republican. ‘In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.’”

·       Republican Mark Ewing of Alaska, running for the state House, said, “We are spending millions and millions of dollars educating children that have a hard time making their wheelchair move and, I’m sorry, but you’ve got to say, ‘no’ somewhere. We need to educate our children, but there are certain individuals that are just not going to benefit from an education.”

·       And the quote that stands out from all the rest even after almost two years, Republican Martin Harty said, “‘[T]he world is too populated’ and there are ‘too many defective people. . . . You know the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions – the defective people society would be better off without.’ . . . Harty [added that] the world population has increased dramatically, and ‘it’s a very dangerous situation if it doubles again.’ . . . Harty said nature has a way of ‘getting rid of stupid people,’ and ‘now we’re saving everyone who gets born.’ . . . Harty [also] stated, ‘I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population.’” In response, Republican House Speaker William O’Brien’s main point was to say that Harty had earned the right to say whatever he thinks, and I saw no reports of any republicans rebuking Harty.

·       In his speech at the Democratic National Convention, President Obama at least mentioned people with disabilities. It’s a start Mitt Romney didn’t take.


          Disability issues aren’t the only reasons I will be voting Democrat on Tuesday, although I would have no problem if they were the only reasons. In fact, I think anyone with a physical disability voting Republican is a masochist.

          Yet, the republicans have given me plenty of other reasons to vote against them. They include the words of Mitch McConnell, republican minority leader, saying, “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term,” and the continued existence of Fox News.

          McConnell is the epitome of what’s wrong with our government. The only difference between him and other republicans in what he said was that he was dumb enough to say it for media consumption. Regardless of any other opinion, I don’t understand how anyone can support a party that openly opposed the president for the sake of opposing him. It’s a disgrace. It’s not what they were sent to Washington to do. And it should not be tolerated.

          Fox News is probably the biggest fraud being perpetuated on the public at this time and possibly any other. They have completely abused the right to free speech in calling themselves a news network, which they simply do not even resemble. Their lies fill their network 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and their viewers are known to be uninformed on basic facts according to numerous studies. They give air time to cretins like Ann Coulter, and aside from mimicking the graphics and talking mannerisms of actual news networks and journalists they have nothing to do with the news. Their right wing agenda is blatant, a slap in the face to the American public on a daily basis, and, according to none other than the party itself, comes directly from the Republican Party.

          Before President Obama ever took office republicans began talking about taking back our country. Despite the thinly veiled context they were using, the sentiment actually does apply four years later. We need to take back our country from the extremists in the Republican Party who seem to think they can spew their lies and prejudices to get their agenda back in the White House.

          I hope to do that by voting for the president and the Democratic Party on Tuesday.

Even big business, which Mitt Romney is supposed to be the champion of, is calling the man a liar.

See the article here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

#WePush2 First time I did 70 mins of continuous pedaling on the exercise bike - 60 + 5 “cool down” + 5 after I ...

could restart; learning as I go; don’t necessarily have to go slower during the “cool down,” though it might be a good time to really drink some water. Did around 13.8 miles in the first 60 mins on level 5 (best yet on current bike), maybe .5 in the cool down, and another mile on level 6 after being able to restart. Thinking about the 2013 MS Ride with a goal of beating my 9+ hours to complete the first day – 75 miles – in 2010. My biggest fear is the recuperation. It could have been coincidence, but the year after was filled with numerous minor health issues. I think drinking more water during the ride would help – couldn’t get enough afterwards last time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

#WePush2 Stretched AT the gym as opposed to BEFORE leaving the house and had my best ride on the new exercise bike w/ 13.59 in 60 mins....

Also tinkered with how to get around the 60 min limit the gym puts on the bikes. Hoping to really improve on the bike in the coming year.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I’ve been doing an exercise of checking and the Fox “News” site each morning....

I’m going to stop because I think I can feel myself losing IQ points every time I go to Fox. Just this morning a sampling from the dominant stories on the alternative universe of Fox includes the story of e-mails taking credit for the Benghazi attacks under the huge headline “THEY KNEW,” another trying to turn Obama’s quip about bayonets around as though he, not Romney, made a clueless statement about defense, voter fraud, and “biased” reporting on fact checkers who pointed out that Romney's claim of an “apology tour” by the president is false. Meanwhile, CNN has the story about the e-mails, a candidate (shockingly, a republican) calling a pregnancy from rape God’s will, and, oh yeah, regular Fox contributor Ann Coulter calling the president a “retard” during the debate. (As far as I can tell the tweet from this bitch isn’t even mentioned on the front page of Fox.) Are we still at war with Eastasia?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Don’t know if I find this disturbing (because it exists) or encouraging, but ...

I just saw odds on the presidential election. Barack Obama is -165 to win, meaning he’s favored, while Mitt Romney is +145. (For the uninitiated, a bettor would have to risk $165 to win $100 on President Obama, while $100 on Romney would bring in $145 if he won.) In the sports world, these are significant odds making Romney, well, a pretty big ‘dog. Regardless, many thanks to whomever put tonight’s final debate against the NLCS Game 7 and Monday Night Football. I won’t be watching politics. I’ve had enough of the one-liners and made my decision long ago.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

#WePush2 Strong workout on the exercise bike - 13.17 miles / 60 mins / level 5; one of best since ...

changing gyms/bike in March; stretch I recently learned for the hip paying off in conjunction with my usual hamstring stretch. Trying to get back to 1 hour a day with my hamstrings.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I Saw from the Presidential Debate

          Maybe someday our media will grow up enough not to talk about “winners” and “losers” in a presidential debate. Maybe someday they won’t bore us with interviews after the debates with people offering rehearsed talking points and nothing but spin. Maybe someday catching the republican candidate in a blatant lie won’t cause Fox “News” to call the moderator biased, though I seriously doubt it. Actually, what we should hope for is that someday our country will grow up enough to not allow the republican PR station to pretend it’s a news network.

          I didn’t see the entire debate because I’m sick of being lied to by republicans and watching neither candidate answer a question. I did see President Obama not answer a question about capping gas prices, though Romney followed suit. I saw Romney steer every question he didn’t answer back to the economy, which he seems to think went bad the day Obama took office. It didn’t. I also saw Romney talk about women needing flexible hours so that they could get home and whip up a meal, which was only a little less creepy than the mention of the binders of women candidates he had to ask for to find viable female candidates for his gubernatorial administration.

          I’m tempted to say at least women’s employment issues were discussed as opposed to those of people with disabilities, but maybe we’re better off. How creepy would that have gotten? I’d give 5-to-1 odds Romney would have spit out the word inspirational in discussing an employee with a disability. Of course, the accepted number of unemployment among people with disabilities has risen from 75% to 80% recently, so the president doesn’t have anything to brag about. Maybe I’m being ungrateful. After all, there was a debate specifically on disability issues . . . that neither candidate attended and wasn’t televised.

          I also saw the attacks in Libya become a political volleyball. I’m not sure when exactly it became a bad thing to take the time to figure out what the hell happened in a terrorist attack, but that seemed to be the message the republicans were pushing.

          This actually started out as a tweet and I was tempted to leave it under that label as I don’t have a polished ending. But, then I realized, neither does the political process.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Slightly depressing conversation about the state of publishing this weekend. Opinion was ...

if youre not writing about werewolves, no one wants to publish your work. I wasnt speaking to an expert, but someone on the periphery of the business. Im not a book worm so maybe Im part of the problem. Ive heard others say you cant get published without an agent, and agents are as choosy about the clients they accept as publishers used to be about manuscripts that they publish. Im not sure I buy the argument entirely  we certainly dont have a shortage of new books coming out. Is self-publishing the cause making it too easy in some ways to publish and flooding the market or the solution? Just wondering aloud.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I think what bothers me more than anything about Ann Coulter’s “white guilt” comment regarding President Obama’s 2008 ...

victory in the election is the condescending attitude it exhibited that people with disabilities also see so often. We expect the racism from her and Fox “News” – that’s old albeit still tiresome. But the elitist attitude that suggests that the only way a black man won the presidency was through some baseless notion that America felt guilty is just as disgusting. I once heard a co-worker, equally as ignorant as Coulter and as incompetent as her interviewer, Megyn Kelly, frustrated with her computer say, “Give me Rob’s computer, he doesn’t do anything anyway.” I sat right next to woman, who was openly known as the office idiot, and I got a newer computer when I was hired due to the lack of accessibility features on the company’s existing computers. At the time I was an assistant editor still thinking I could build a career in the corporate world and didn’t have the guts to tell-off the bitch. Nor did I register an official complaint because despite the ADA bashers who say otherwise, most of us are taught that making such complaints merely backfires. My co-worker, of course, didn’t face any repercussions. Coulter shouldn’t be afforded the same luxury. Any other network that allows an elitist like Coulter, who can’t conceive of the notion that Barack Obama was elected based on his ideas for the country and was a better choice than a ticket that included an airhead like Sarah Palin and instead excuses it with her prejudiced notions, on their air without revealing her as the joke that she is lowers itself to the level Fox “News.”

Friday, October 5, 2012

If I’m going to share positive messages regarding disability and accomplishments, I think I should share the other side at times. ...

Yesterday, fears got in the way of participating in a bike ride I wanted to attend. Plans to go with family fell through, and I was hesitant to drive a new road, drive home at night from the city, and wasn’t sure if I’d end up cycling alone (only because I hadn’t planned ahead and didn’t want to take someone else at the ride away from their original plan at the last minute). This week I have been working a lot on the book I’m attempting to self-publish called I’m Not Here to Inspire You, and thinking a lot about the teens and young adults with physical disabilities I especially hope will read it. As a kid, and even now, it would really piss me off when I let things like this happen. Of course, my mom and some others would tell me not to worry, it happens to everyone, etc. And they’re right, it does happen to everyone and you just have to move on. But there was always something about letting fears like this get in my way that bothered me. It felt different. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I think the difference was that the people trying to encourage me weren’t disabled, so I felt like they didn’t specifically know what I was feeling. I could be completely wrong. But this is one of those things I think people with disabilities need to talk about more. I don’t know that anyone without a physical disability can truly feel the anxiety someone with a disability might feel going into a situation without being sure you have a grasp on everything you might need to do physically. Of course, plenty of people with disabilities can just plow ahead. We are as different individually as any group of people. I’m working on an essay in which I hope to introduce a hashtag for readers, especially those with disabilities, to communicate about their workouts. Something specific for us that says, keep going, keep pushing. It’s a message I think we all need to hear sometimes, maybe especially on days when we didn’t push.

Monday, September 17, 2012

New Fall Shows I’ll Be Watching (and You Should Avoid)

          With the new fall season beginning, I thought I’d provide a public service and mention the new shows I plan to watch. These are shows viewers should not bother getting interested in watching. In recent years, almost every new show I watch ends up cancelled in record time.

          Remember how much ABC hyped up V? It barely made it to the second half of its first season according to reports, and was cancelled after the second season. How about Ashley Judd in Missing? Bagged after one season complete with a cliffhanger ending.

          There are too many shows to remember them all, but The Event fell pretty quickly. Studio 60, one season. No Ordinary Family, no shot. My canceling abilities go back years. Anyone remember Hack, about a crime-solving cabbie? OK, even I knew the premise was stupid, but once you got passed that problem it actually wasn’t bad. Two seasons.

          Last year was actually a raging success for the one new show I watched, Last Man Standing. It ran for the entire season with just one short respite, but, unfortunately, Tim Allen and crew have been bumped to Friday night this year and, I think, one of the daughters was re-cast. Let’s just say I’m not looking for a Christmas episode this year.

          I mostly tried a new tactic last year – latching onto already successful shows. So far, only The Mentalist seems doomed, banished to Sunday nights. Thank the techy gods for the DVR, although with football always running late on CBS recording could be an issue. As far as I know Blue Bloods, NCIS Los Angeles, and the original CSI, have survived. But can they really be all that secure with me watching?

          Here’s the few new shows I’m looking forward to this fall:

·       Vegas: Michael Chiklis is back playing a bad ass. The first few seasons of The Shield were the best episodes of TV I ever watched, and I’m hoping putting Chiklis in a similar role works again. (Somehow his FX show avoided my jinx.) Dennis Quaid plays the good guy sheriff, apparently Chiklis’ adversary in this show about the early days of Las Vegas.

·       Last Resort: I guess I have a mini theme going because this one is produced by Shawn Ryan, who produced The Shield. I don’t even think this will last, because I can’t figure out where it goes. The crew of a submarine capable of launching a nuclear weapon refuses orders to fire and, based on what I’ve read, takes over a remote island. But Andre Braugher just doesn’t seem to take bad roles, so I’m hoping for the best.

·       Revolution: This looks like a classic overhyped NBC show that they pull the plug on before Thanksgiving. Yet, I’m a sucker for sci-fi, start-civilization-over stories. In this one, the power goes out. Everywhere. Forever. Yeah, I know. It’s even on Monday night, so I’ll be DVR-ing (as I watch football), but what the hell. It might work.

You’ve been warned.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another 20 miles on the bike down by the Schuylkill as cycling Saturdays start to dwindle, especially ...

with my God sons football season starting next week. Beginning to think I need an MS Ride type of challenge for next year, though maybe not quite that far! Also trying to think of a hashtag like #keeppushing unique to the Ink to encourage readers, especially those with disabilities, to join the conversation on working out. More on that soon, but hashtag suggestions welcome in the comments section.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A new low for Fox “News.” It takes a lot for me to go out of my way to get the attention of a Y employee while I’m ...

sweating my butt off on the exercise bike just to change the channel of a TV. (If you know anything about CP, you understand why.) But I just couldn’t take another 5 minutes of watching a jackass like Karl Rove and his Fox cronies politicize the attacks on U.S. embassies, along with the rest of the stream of lies they constantly spew. They simply abuse the concept of free speech. I know, I should tune it out but when there’s a big-screen HD TV about 5 feet from me almost at eye level, it’s a little tough. And at this point, I should probably point out, I really don’t go looking for stuff to rip Republicans over. If anything, I feel like I don’t watch and read enough non-sports news. As a side note, Rove complained about the time it would take for President Obama to fly to a campaign event instead of dealing with the crisis, adding that he wouldn’t even be talking to the crowd that long. Does Rove seriously think Air Force I isn’t equipped with everything the President of the United States would need to stay on top of the situation? Watch some West Wing reruns, Karl.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why are Republicans waging war against people with disabilities? Another day, another jackass...

from the Republican party. From a blog called Live from Hell’s Kitchen:

A member of the Virginia legislature, Delegate Bob Marshall, was holding a press conference blasting Planned Parenthood. This tragic elected official proclaimed that God was punishing women who had abortions by giving them disabled children.

Yep, you hear that right. has his direct quote:

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican.

“In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

          All I can do is ask the question again: Why is the Republican party waging war against people with disabilities?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ewing Adds to Slippery Slope Republicans Have Us On

          Are Republicans just trying to piss people off at this point?

          Just days after Todd Akin coined the disturbing phrase “legitimate rape,” another Republican, Mark Ewing of Alaska, running for the state House, said, “We are spending millions and millions of dollars educating children that have a hard time making their wheelchair move and, I’m sorry, but you’ve got to say, ‘no’ somewhere. We need to educate our children, but there are certain individuals that are just not going to benefit from an education.”

          I’m sorry, too, Mark, but I’ve got to say, you’re an a--hole. I try to keep certain standards with my writing, but this is one of those times that more polite terms just don’t cut it. (I had to force myself not to spell out the actual word in deference to some level of professionalism.) Of course, Todd fits the same descriptions, but I’m going to focus on your stupidity today. These days you just have to make tough choices when it comes to responding to the idiotic statements coming out of the mouths of Republicans.

          People are already trying to come to Ewing’s rescue by explaining what he really meant. You know, those let’s-get-real geniuses, who just happen to generally be white, upper to middle class (financially, that is), and don’t usually have to deal with imperfections in their lives like someone with a bothersome disability.

          They want the rest of us to believe that Ewing was talking about kids who are so severely physically and mentally disabled that they can’t possibly benefit from an education. Let’s say for a moment that they’re correct – they’re dead wrong, but let’s pretend. What exactly would Ewing like society to do? Lock such people away? Just sort of let them die? And what does it say about a man (and, as in the past, I have to use the term man only in the biological sense for a politician) who thinks this is the answer to budget woes?

          By the way, in my experience most kids who fit the above description are more than likely in school all day with a small group of children with similar disabilities in one classroom – if they get that much. To suggest it’s costing “millions and millions of dollars” in a local race is complete BS, and implies costs nationally that are just as phony. Despite the Ewings of the world, even if his supporters’ premise about the kids he was referring to was accurate, budget cuts aren’t a viable excuse to deprive kids with the severest of disabilities the chance to have all of the stimulation they can get by being around other people. If that’s actually all a kid could get for an education, it’s as important as the education of anyone else.

          But, let’s do “get real.” Ewing wasn’t referring to kids with the most extreme disabilities. He referred to “children that have a hard time making their wheelchair move.”

          At the risk of validating a suggestion I’ve already heard that I make these things about me, I’m not as adept as some at making my wheelchair move. I essentially use one arm and my legs to move my manual chair, and I even use a power chair to go places independently – like to college, for instance, before I graduated with honors.

          No, I actually don’t think Ewing was referring to people with disabilities similar to me. But exactly where would he like to draw the line? Before I was mainstreamed I went to school with a lot of kids with Muscular Dystrophy who could barely push a wheelchair. Would they have just been sh-t out of luck under Ewing? MD is a progressive disability. Most kids with MD, I believe, are essentially able-bodied at a very young age. Do we cut off their schooling after they need a wheelchair or wait until they can’t push a manual anymore? Maybe Ewing has a speed limit in mind? Slip under 5 m.p.h. and time’s up?

          Actually, I went to school with some kids with the exact types of disabilities Ewing referred to. Guys like Timmy, who I knew for years. His cerebral palsy was much more severe than mine. Talking was such an effort it would often make him sweat, his limbs were strapped down to his wheelchair, and he probably never got much passed a fourth or fifth grade education. He was also a pretty funny guy who liked all the same stuff other kids did, and, like a lot of the kids I knew, lived in a home for kids with disabilities. I shudder the think what would have happened to Timmy if Ewing and his apologists ran the world. Keep him at the home all day? Or would even that be too expensive? How about 20 years from now when society has adjusted to the Timmy’s of the world staying in a home all day because they’re not worth the expense of sending them to school and the economy tanks again? I suppose it will be time to “get real” and take away their homes.

          Oh, by the way, if I remember her stories correctly, my mom was once told by doctors that I would never move. They probably thought I’d physically be a lot like Timmy. I wonder how much chance I would have had to prove them wrong without going to school where I received physical therapy.

          Hopefully, the consequences of what Ewing really said sound asinine to most people. The problem is Ewing’s words don’t sound absurd to all people. Based on his words I feel very safe guessing that Ewing has had no experience having someone with a disability in his life. His words were flip, thoughtless comments spoken out of ignorance, stupidity, and arrogance.

          It wasn’t long ago that while everyone dismissed Martin Harty, another Republican, as the dumb old man that he was and still is if he’s alive for suggesting that people with disabilities be shipped off to a place like Siberia, some Republicans were defending his right to speak. Now, some people want to explain Ewing’s words as if they have validity on some level.

          The Republican party has us all on a very slippery slope that seems to be getting slicker by the day. Voters need to wake-up and give them a dose of reality in November.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

NBC Not Airing the Paralympics Says Plenty . . . About Us

          Earlier this week my usual early morning check on Facebook brought me to a post from one of the smartest people I know who discusses disability issues. She posted a link to an article with a headline decrying the number of hours NBC dedicates to covering the Olympics versus the hours it airs games from the Paralympics – NBC: 5,000+ Hours for Olympics, 0 Hours for Paralympics.

          It’s a familiar complaint within the disability community, and a legitimate one on some levels. But the fact of the matter is that we shoulder some of the blame for what many seem to suggest is a lack of respect for the disability community. NBC doesn’t air the Olympic Games out of some sense of national pride. It’s a business decision. They reportedly paid $1.18 billion for the U.S. rights to air the Games. The only reason they do that is because they believe it will help them ultimately make money.

          I certainly don’t know all of the ramifications of airing the Olympics, but obviously airing commercials is a huge part of the deal for NBC. It’s a safe bet they can charge companies premium dollar for a 30-second ad during in the middle a summer day for two weeks instead of whatever they get for a rerun of The Ellen Degeneres Show. Prime-time coverage no doubt skyrockets the price. They can also pump viewers with promotions for their regular prime time shows. In fact, pushing their own shows may be the bigger factor as the report linked to in the last paragraph suggests NBC was projected to lose money in actually airing the Olympics, but may end up making a small profit. But, ultimately, the article suggested that profits equated to “gross revenue at $1.25 billion.”

          This only happens because people watch the Olympics. Again citing the same article, this summer’s Olympics were “the most-watched event in U.S. TV history.”

          More to the point – and I know I’m spelling out the abc’s of television, but bear with me – consumers were watching the Olympics in record numbers this summer.

          If people with disabilities really want to do something about the Paralympics reportedly getting zero hours of coverage this month, we need to do more than complain about NBC. This is a classic example of a topic grabbing our community’s attention, everyone crying “foul,” and nobody discussing the real problem nor even trying to do anything about it.

          NBC cares about revenue. Advertisers mostly care about getting their product in front of consumers.

          The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2012 recently reported, “As of January 2012 only 20% of people with disabilities were either working a paid job or seeking employment in the national labor force, compared to 69% of the general population.”

          Obviously, if our community had jobs, people with disabilities would be more a part of the consumer base. The more we become consumers, the more television networks are going to care what we want to watch.

          Of course, employment leads to much more important things than networks caring what we want to watch – home ownership, security, more options in life in general. You know, little things like that.

          So, once again I’ll beat the drum that we need to force so-called advocates funded by tax dollars to help people with disabilities get jobs to do their jobs. The fact is that the accepted figure for unemployment of people with disabilities was 75% for years.

          Blaming the economy for the 5% increase in the already horrific unemployment rates among people with disabilities is a joke. It represents a complete failure by agencies charged with helping the disability community get into the job market.

          By the way, it’s about time we start insisting that all advocacy agencies for people with disabilities to do their part by hiring qualified candidates with disabilities for meaningful jobs. I was a “client” of more than one agency charged (read: paid) to help me find a job and worked for another advocacy group. Never once did I see anyone with an obvious physical disability employed in a job that would bring a professional type of salary by these places. In a job I held for two years with an assistive technology foundation, my part-time salary was paid via a grant from an endowments center across the state and I was treated like a poster child. Yet, the rest of the staff, all able-bodied, was paid directly by the foundation. If these agencies, especially those trying to convince companies that hiring people with disabilities is a good idea, aren’t willing to employ the community they serve, they have failed before they even started.

          We need better. We deserve better. But somehow we better figure out ways to make it happen, because clearly no one else intends to do so.

          It’s the only way we’ll ever have an impact on decisions like whether or not networks air the Paralympics – and other, more important decisions in our lives.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

You Got Your Politics in My E-mail!

          In a series of forwarded e-mail from someone I would barely call an acquaintance, I was recently told that I am essentially a bad Christian and/or Catholic if I vote for Barack Obama in November. One e-mail extolled the virtues of the Catholic church. It’s sheer size seemed important to the author, which seemed to equate to a certain rightness in being a Catholic. I was then urged to pass the message of “replacing our present president” on to “all of my Catholic friends.”

          While the identity of the forwarding fool no doubt irked me as much as the message – a classic example of those proclaiming righteousness the loudest while displaying no actual sign of it in their life – something else bothered me about receiving these messages.

          The more I thought about it, I came to the conclusion that these messages were nothing short of an invasion of privacy. They are a violation of personal space. They literally come right into my home.

          Most people will tell me to just hit the “delete” button and ignore it. Yet, due to the subject line, even that solution allows the basic message to register with the recipient. In my experience, blocking a person’s address is problematic as I inevitability hear about other e-mails that I’ve missed when using that option. Taking the person out my contacts at least filters the message to another folder aptly named “Junk,” but the problem of deleting the message persists.

          Perhaps it’s petty of me to suggest that I just damn well don’t want to have to delete someone else’s politics, but I don’t. E-mail is my primary source of communication with most of my family and friends. Hearing the “ding” that comes from my personal e-mail account is akin to most people’s cell phone ringing. I even have a separate account and e-mail program for my blogs, shopping online, and other activities that people should expect will bring unwanted messages.

          But regardless of my personal heavy use of e-mail, we should all have a right not to be accosted by political propaganda, racism, and religious blather, in our personal space.

          Sure, we’ve all been guilty of forwarding the occasional e-mail to a few too many people. But the political climate has changed in the last six years. The tone is incessantly angry, personal, and charged with the aforementioned subjects of race and religion. To forward your views to every address in your contacts is simply ignorant.

          I finally responded to one of the many messages simply stating that I voted for the president and would be doing so again. The message should have been clear: stop sending me your opinions.

          Instead I received another forwarded message with the same type of propaganda as well as a reply stating that the individual was “sorry to hear” of my voting choice. I voiced my utter shock at his surprise, and offered a more direct request for him to spare me what was often his racist babble. This also failed to stop the e-mails.

          Another, more direct response of “lose my address” to more propaganda – after trying to simply delete yet another e-mail – didn’t do the trick, either. I received a reply stating that this person would “still pray for me.”

          One of my biggest shortcomings is that I don’t generally react very well to this type of thing. I had already replied rather calmly three times (and somewhat politely, at least the first time). In fact, I think I maintained some decorum in all three requests to stop receiving the e-mails – I at least hadn’t ripped into the guy.

          The need for a fourth response . . . well, I could have told anyone that wasn’t going to go well. I may have suggested that the sanctimonious asshole save his prayers for himself. It took the deletion of yet another response from him and a threat to file a harassment complaint – and a few other things we won’t discuss that were in my fifth response – to stop the e-mails (so far).

          Admittedly, this is where I’m always questioning whether or not my experience is the same as what others would have experienced. I don’t know if the sanctimonious one would have offered prayers to an able-bodied responder. Certainly, people with disabilities aren’t the only ones who experience patronizing behavior, though I’m guessing we’re more familiar with it than most. Interestingly, in my experience it often comes from those claiming religion as a guide for their actions. However, in this case, I’m guessing my disability had little to no impact.

          Post your politics on Facebook. Tweet them for all the world to see. Even blog about them, as I have on occasion, ‘til your heart’s content. It’s your right as an American citizen.

          That’s your space. I can choose to “friend” you or not, hide you from my “news feed” or not, and follow you on Twitter or not. I can choose whether or not to check out your blog and absorb all of the political genius you have to offer. You can even e-mail your actual friends or acquaintances who agree with you or enjoy debating politics with you.

          Just keep your damn politics out of my inbox and the inbox of every friend, acquaintance, or flat out stranger, who was unfortunate enough to have you come across their e-mail address.

          Because unlike the commercials that showed the accidental mixing of chocolate and peanut butter that turned into a delicious Reese’s peanut butter cup from years ago, unwanted political messages aren’t so tasty.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hunger Games – Book Review

          Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games is one of the best books I’ve read in quite a while, and not just because I haven’t read nearly enough lately. In fact, if it wasn’t for an ending that didn’t quite measure up to the rest of the story I’d be tempted to call it one of the best books I’ve ever read.

          I feel a little silly praising the novel that much because it seems to be extremely popular among kids from what I’ve heard. Of course, that amounts to knowing that my nephew got through the book in about a day. I also read the book at an extremely quick rate despite going on a mini vacation just after starting to read. So, I might go a day or so without reading at all, but whenever I sat down with it I read large portions of the book. Normally I’m setting goals of how many pages I want to get through in a day.

          I found the story incredibly inventive as selected kids from different districts of a futuristic North America are forced to fight to the death once a year as punishment for a previous rebellion against the capitol. The main character, Katniss Everdeen, was very likeable from the beginning, and, while her ultimate fate is somewhat predictable, her compelling spirit leads to plenty of tension in this page turner.

          I’m a bit surprised Hunger Games is considered a young adult novel due to the overriding sadness that pervades the story due simply to the nature of the action. These kids have no choice but to fight to the death to secure their own survival.

          The ending comes up just a little short because the author seemed to be working too hard to set up the next novel in the series. That said, it’s certainly not a “bad” ending nor does it do much damage to the overall story.

          I can’t wait to watch the movie, and would absolutely recommend Hunger Games. It’s been so long since I tried to write a full review of anything – which I’d like to think of as recommendations or opinions at this point for various reasons – I’m struggling to remember the scale I used in the past to rate books. But after a quick glance at some of the old posts I’ve written I would say it is worth it to make a point read this novel.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reluctant Re-entry

          I’ve never been good at re-entry into my daily routine after a vacation. As a writer who hasn’t been paid a dime for his work all year and sets his own schedule, I shouldn’t have all that much difficulty nowadays. Yet, somehow I still resist getting “back to normal.” I can’t even describe how bad I was at it when I had an actual 9 to 5 job in an office.

          Even a short trip to Ohio to see my niece from Hawaii play in a national volleyball tournament during the week of July 4th had me struggling to get back into blogging. It turned out to be a really nice trip. I saw the female side of the Hawaii family, learned that my brother and his family are surrounded by some truly nice people, and watched the kids play a sport I’ve never paid much attention to. I even learned that it’s actually possible for young people to have a coach who is competitive, yet still understands who his players are and that they are still kids. It was a very refreshing change from what I saw at my nephew’s baseball game day before I left, where a father with a son on the other team screamed about the umpire through the entire game.

          For me, the highlight of the trip was the unexpected connection I felt with the coach of my niece’s team. My mom and I drove to the tournament – unfortunately, mom had to do 99.99% of the driving because once again I confirmed that driving on major highways just makes me too tense – and by coincidence the coach and his wife were the first two people we saw. They instantly remembered my mom from a previous tournament she had attended and obviously liked her a great deal. It was especially fun for me watching the coach match my mom’s level of sarcasm, teasing the hell out of her, instead of the usual compliments that flow her way. Don’t worry, my mom loved every minute of it and can dish it out just fine.

          I know mom was always with us, but I really felt like the coach and I connected a bit – a pretty rare occurrence for me with someone I just met. We had dinner two of the three nights we were with the team and sat with him and his wife, and just had some drinks together the last night. He just has a great outlook. He was the same guy on a bad day for the team as he was on a good day. And it was obvious he loved to tell stories; he had an energy for the details of what he was telling you about. He knows my brother and nephew as well, from their neighborhood, and it was very funny to hear about my brother through the eyes of this guy.

          After being back home for about a week, I was almost ready to begin blogging again. I was working through the doubts about why I bothered, given the miniscule amount of hits I get, and the time and effort it takes away from writing that great American novel so many of us think we have in us.

          Then I watched Meet the Press on Sunday morning followed locally by @ Issue. In fact, the shows were just sort of on in the background. Yet, I heard dribs and drabs about whether or not Mitt Romney left some company when he said he did and the controversy over the new law requiring voters to have an I.D. at the polls. Instead of searching for the truth and/or solutions to what seem like readily answerable questions/problems, there was nothing but debate.

          Somehow it brought me right back to where I was mentally before the trip to Ohio. In the spring / early summer I was interviewed for an Inquirer column because I had the audacity to question whether or not there were too many events down by the Schuylkill River, where people are supposed to be able to cycle on weekends but get crowded out by the charity of the week. I was thrashed in the comments section of the online version of the article. Later, I spoke up on a disability listserv questioning a particular topic that has led to a post on this blog getting large amounts of hits and brought several comments filled with anger toward me. (I’m so averse to dealing with the topic that I don’t even want to mention it by name here.)

          I don’t mind debate and, in fact, expected the reaction that I received on The listserv reaction was absurd to the point that I resigned from the group. But the amount of noise and nonsense that came from these two minor occurrences in my life coupled with the endless national rhetoric over every issue that comes up has me wondering if “resigning” from everything from trying to follow politics to producing a minor blog is the only way to avoid the chaos that has become public debate.

          Every comment section of every newspaper article seems to be filled with vitriol from everybody looking to push their own agenda. Commenters often commandeer articles and literally make their online pages about completely different topics. The anonymity of commenting online seems to give “beer muscles” to us all, and has destroyed the natural filter that stops most of us from making outrageous or just plain rude statements when our face and name go with the over the top words we speak or type.

          Even a show like Meet the Press has become nothing more than people pushing an agenda. There’s no sense of conversation any more. People are too busy screaming over each other to hear anything. Maybe it’s always been that way.

          It has all made me wonder not for the first time what I’m doing with my time and if there’s some better way of spending it. Is blogging really accomplishing anything? Will I ever publish? I’ve even drifted into the bigger questions we all ask ourselves now and then like, is it all just a lot of noise?

          I’ve been here before and eventually I get over it. Getting over it may not include tweeting / Facebooking and/or blogging any more, but it probably will. It will certainly include writing of one form or another. Whether I’m doing it in an office for a salary or on my own to keep my sanity, writing is one of the things I always return to.

          It would just be nice to have a few more nights of having drinks and a few laughs with some new (or old) friends sprinkled in to the regular routine to help deal with the noise. It was nice to have a few of those nights in Ohio.