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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in KC




















Right around the middle of November every year, my work has an extended staff meeting - one where we all sit on a call and hash out vacation coverage. Every year, this is routine - we all know how much vacation time we have left, we know how much we can carry over into the new year, and everyone wants to use it all up. Some people hadn't taken much vacation all year - you know the type, the workaholics, the guys who only take half a Friday off here or there to take a long weekend away, or those that just forget about having fun until they have to.

Of course, by the time you have to use your vacation, sometimes the only place you can go has snow drifts 3 feet high. Such is the case with me, in where I spend my vacation time not in my usual pilgrimage back to Los Angeles, but instead I'll be spending it in Kansas City and Colorado. Thus comes my first true white Christmas!

It's not that I've never seen snow on or around Christmas before, but this is the first time I a) voluntarily stayed home and b) was unable to go out due to the whole city being shut down. Ever heard of the phrase "not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse?" Yeah, that was yesterday - powerful winds and chilly temps definitely made this a quiet December 25th.

Would I have liked to have been somewhere warmer, somewhere sunnier? Definitely. I operate so much better when I can see sunlight and not have to pile on the layers. It's harder to exercise, to keep moving, and keep motivated. Just gotta stay positive and think warm thoughts!

I'm ready to hunker down and ride out this winter. Stay safe, everyone!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Round 2 of snowboarding




















I can't sit down.

Ever gone skiing or snowboarding in the ice? Well, I didn't really think it was going to make much of a difference, but now my tailbone and leg tell me otherwise. Last night, I hit up Snow Creek again with Tara and Kel, expecting my 2nd go-around on the board to be a little faster, a little edgier. Instead, the mountain smacks me down and shows me I ain't all that, and I'm gonna have to EARN that right to shred.

Ow, my bum.

Landing on your tailbone while trying to turn on a snowboard isn't.... pleasant. I still haven't figured out how to control my speed so I end up with some spectacular collisions with the hard surface of the hill.

I ended up doing something to my left leg - I came close to nailing my ankle pretty bad tumbling off a ski lift (why can't they come up with something better than throwing ya off your seat in this day and age?), but then not too much later I took a spill that sent my body in a couple of different directions. My shin/ankle/knee decided to be the first to give and let me know bearing my weight was not gonna be an option anymore that day. Frack!

Now, despite all the above, I came to realize that I needed an attitude makeover. There's no sense getting mad and pissed at myself when trying to learn. All that's going to happen is that I'm going to focus on my anger and not on doing things correctly. Kel pointed out that there's no one to compete against - it's just me and the mountain. I need to dial back the whole thinking I'm invincible mindset and just humble myself through the stages of learning. It's not going to be easy, but if I want to enjoy myself, I need to learn to let things go.

One thing I did learn for sure - Santa Claus is on ski patrol! It seems like jolly ol' Saint Nick takes time off from flying reindeer and checking his naughty and nice list to patch up folks like me in the ski lodge. I should have told him what I wanted for Christmas....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shop shop shop until ya drop...









Christmas shopping. Eh. Not my favorite way to spend a Saturday, but it needs to be done so my fam can get something to enjoy during the holidays.

This Christmas is going to be the first that I haven't spent with most of my immediate family. There has been only one other time in my life where I wasn't in Los Angeles during 12/25, and that was when my mom and Mikey came out to St. Louis for Christmas. I think that's the only time my Mom has ever been out of L.A. for Christmas too - she just has so many ties to her (now passed) parents and siblings in the greater metro area. She's always bouncing around from one family gathering to the next. Well, this year, since my little brother can't get away due to his retail job, I'm going to keep him company and make KC my home roost during the holidays.

Is that such a bad thing? Not really - just means I have to make more of an effort to shop online during this time, sending my gifts weeks early instead of dogging it at the last minute like I always do. My excuse for that is that it didn't make sense to buy gifts while in the Midwest then ship them out - and then when I get to L.A. it's too late to buy online anyway. Yeah what a convenient catch-22! ;-)

I've been thinking about my holiday family experiences. I grew up in a divorced family - I can only vaguely remember a few Christmases before my parents split up. My Dad pretty much immediately remarried and this new family was much more... extravagant. Every year, I'd have to spend Christmas Eve with the big fancy fake Christmas tree that you couldn't touch in the house that 6 kids were in where you couldn't be loud and be around people who treated me with indifference because I couldn't often understand them. Makes me realize that I'm glad I am far removed from being tied to any family traditions... and am free to make my own.

I'm gonna go pull out my teeny tiny tree tonight and put it out for the party I'm having at my place. Deck the halls with zombie brains.... yeah it's game night!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Capri-Sun




















Move over, Snapple, this is the best stuff on Earth.

When I'm thirsty and need a pick-me-up, I'm not reaching for a Gatorade bottle - I'd much rather get a Capri-Sun pouch and guzzle the goodness down.  When I was in elementary school, this was my drink of choice - even though half the fun was trying to figure out how to get the danged straw inside without making the bag burst.  I'd be trying so hard that I'd drive the straw all the way through to the back and leak out half the fruit punch contents all over my school clothes.  If that isn't cool, I don't know what is. :-p

The drink stuck with me all the way through high school, being a lunch favorite and a staple at my volleyball tournaments, which lasted all day and I wasn't the kind to buy from the host school's cafeteria or go out and grab Carl's Jr.  I'm not sure when or even why I stopped having it - I'm sure my mom just stopped getting it and I didn't realize it for a long time.

Not too long ago, I started getting them again.  Sunday night, I hit up the slopes with Kel and Tara, strapping a board to my feet and remembering just how hard snow is when you smack into it at what feels like 50mph.  Snow Creek was awesome, I think it's the perfect introduction into snowboarding - the hills are gentle, the snow wasn't a frozen hunk of ice, and it wasn't crowded.  People of all skill levels were clearly there and stayed out of my way while I relentlessly threw myself down the mountain at breakneck speeds.  Breakneck being trying to get off my butt and fully upright - man, gravity really does have a hard time letting me go.  No wonder I'm such a space nut, free fall snowboarding all the way! ;-)  

When I delivered the Capri-Sun goodness to Kel after riding, she made a comment about my choice of flavors.  Well, I did on purpose select the one with volleyball on the front, the clever cartwheelist correctly caught on to it.  What she didn't know was that I remembered a commercial growing up that has Capri-Sun and snowboarding in it!



The things you remember from childhood....

In any case, the weekend was a blast!  I'll have to post pics of the snowboarding sometime.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Toys













Coming up in a few weeks is the Consumer Electronics Show to be held in Las Vegas, NV. Lately, I've been talking with a bunch of companies about their upcoming products and often I'll hear, "Oh, and we're gonna show this off at CES." It seems like nowadays a lot of new technologies are being unfolded at that event.

I'm starting to think that in 2011, I need to take time off to fly to my Dad's place in Henderson and then spend the rest of the time just walking around the exhibit hall. It's HUGE - so huge that the 4 or 5 hotels and exhibit centers it's in doesn't even contain it all - there's even more private booths and suites hosted by the companies with top secret tech.

What's my point writing about this? My gosh, I'm a toy-a-holic. I'm generally restrained when I buy gadgets for myself, but man, I LOVE looking at stuff. This place.... would be totally heaven!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow run














"Get air... and slam it!" There was a commercial in the 80's that I vaguely remember as being from Nike that touted the ability of their shoes to help jump and get air to slam dunk a basketball. I'm pretty sure it was an Air Jordan commercial, man that guy just rocks.

Now, lately, snowboarding's been a pretty heavily discussed topic for me. Next week, I'm hitting up Snow Creek to get my first taste of balancing on a waxed board and holding on for dear life (oh, wait, I'm strapped in, no need to hold on) barreling down the mountain..... err I mean mere bump in the road. It's all in preparation for the trip to Colorado at the end of the month!

Whenever I see videos of the riders grabbing some height.... that commercial floods back to me. Doubly so when I see the dudes crash! Ow.

My balance has been improving lately, so I think I'll be able to handle this. At least snow's a bit soft to fall on... again.... and again... and again!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Jobs

For the last couple of weeks (months, actually), one major thought that's been on my mind has been my job and where I'll be in the future as it pertains to my career.

I've been of the mindset that no job is permanent, where if you're not changing jobs every so often, you will become complacent and the tools that keep you valuable to a company will become stagnant and old. I see and hear too many horror stories of people being laid off, or not advancing with the times, to want that to include me.

I was fortunate to find a "career job" right after college. I've stuck with it the past 6 1/2 years, because I have what motivates me to come into work every day and do a good job. But even at my company, I've had to dodge 4 to 5 rounds of layoffs, sometimes two layoffs in a year. To see my best efforts going into a company that is dwindling, to take the relationships I've built with my teams get cut down due to people leaving, and to worry about if I'm next, takes its toll on me. How can I plan for the future with no knowledge of how much I'll get to spend next year? How can I get ahead of the game when I have to continually stop and write down my knowledge, not knowing if someone else needs to take over for me if I have to leave?

I've been working in a field that directly applies to me - helping people with hearing loss use the telephone. So I see the efforts I make helping people like me out. But I'm always tempted to, even in this economy, leave and find a better way of doing things. Maybe I need to get out of this niche field and get into a more mainstream service - biotech, for one example, getting involved in cochlear implants or bionics; space, planning out the trip to Mars or putting together the next space vehicle; or even finance, figuring out how to best predict supply and demand for products and deliver them to the right places on time.

I'm rambling a bit... but it's just because it's on my mind.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Crisscut fries















Nom nom nom!!!!

I love crisscut fries. I grew up on 'em eating at Carl's Jr, a fast food restaurant mostly in the western US. The tasty Western Bacon Cheeseburger and crisscut fries combo meal definitely ranks as one of my top meals, ever. However, I can no longer eat it due to my gluten allergy... which makes me sad!

Actually, I can no longer eat most fast food. The flour in hamburger buns contains gluten. Most fast foods are fried/breaded and that contains gluten. French fries by themselves are usually gluten-free, but are contaminated when fried in oil that has touched other glutened products such as onion rings or fried chicken, etc. To be gluten free means to not have any contact with items that contain gluten, or even contact with items that have TOUCHED gluten-bearing food such as utensils, cutting boards, cooking oil, and even the gloved hands of workers who have touched food. Makes it kind of difficult to eat out.

However, I've found the BEST tasting crisscut fries from Costco. Mmmmmm. Baked, even! Now I can get my crisscut cravings on.... my horse for a halfway decent Western Bacon Cheeseburger, though! ;-)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

UCLA















UCLA rocks, dang it!

Growing up, I was a big professional sports fan. My dad would bring me to Dodgers, Lakers, Raiders, Rams and Kings games. I mostly remember the Dodgers and Lakers games - those were numerous, and always eventful as they were big winning teams when I was watching them. I collected baseball and basketball cards, thinking their values would last forever.

As I entered college, though, I began to have more appreciation for college level sports and a more "for the love of the game" playing style. Perhaps I had become disgusted and disenchanted with pro player attitudes - the 1994 baseball lockout that ended the baseball season, the rampaging fights on the field, the snottiness of players refusing to autograph anything unless they were paid - made me look for some other sports that would be more in line with my philosophy.

Enter college sports. Besides my penchant for volleyball, I was paying attention to college football (UCLA, Notre Dame, and Miami Hurricanes to name a few) college basketball (UCLA, Duke, Kentucky), and hockey (Minot, Wisconsin, Boston College). Players were no-name - but they were no-names with talent to get into the pros. It was exciting to watch players that weren't dominating their sport, but had to play hard to get recognized to get into the upper echelons of the next level up - and to get paid!

UCLA was my favorite, the home team, basically - right in my backyard, I went to a few Rose Bowl games, tailgated, what have you. They didn't even allow tailgating for the Raiders/Rams games anymore - "too much risk of fire" in the dry parts of SoCal. Hmph. So college games were a haven of fun, of getting out and getting fired up.

Now that I'm a Kansan, I cheer for KU. KU as a school has a lot of things I like - compared to the other big name college across the border, which shall not be named, as they ungraciously robbed KU of a big win yesterday. Sad! But even today, I will cheer for UCLA when they play against KU - of which hasn't won me many friends around here. Of course, everyone around here takes sports sooooo seriously. ;-)

Go UCLA basketball! We'll see who wins on October 3rd and 6th. Hehe!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Slake's limbo




















There are a number of books I read growing up that have had a profound impact on my life. For some people, they cite some literature they read when they were in high school, maybe some classic novel, or a series of books by a single author; My adventures and imagination stems from the "Just for Boys" series of books in the Weekly Reader Books series published by Charles Schriber's Sons. My grandparents got me some subscription as a Christmas gift at least one year, and I still have a lot of those books.

One book that I identified with heavily was "Slake's Limbo," a story of a teenager who was basically a target of bullying and who escaped into the subway labyrinth of his modern-day city. It was a fantasy I played with as a kid, running away from my troubles and being able to survive on my own. There were a number of parallels in the book that mirrored my life, so I figured maybe I could do it... if I lived in a place with a subway. Little did I know that L.A. actually did have subways! ;-)

Basically, the idea of independence resonated with me from that book, and so I still carry it to this day.

Recent NYC events prompted me to get it out again. Sometimes real life imitates art - not precisely, mind you, but the events of this story about Francisco Hernandez Jr. with Asperger's sure make me think of the book. Social anxiety, surviving in the subway, scavenging, etc.

I'll be loaning the book to Kel shortly, in exchange for her snowboarding book. Oh boy! Colorado's a month away!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Looking for hearing loss stem cell evidence

What proof is there that stem cell treatment for hearing loss will work for everyone?

Where's the peer reviewed journals? Where are the clinical studies with control groups? Where are the observations on the "placebo effect" and real treatment results?

There's a fair amount of hype going around about an U of A student who was supposedly treated over the summer in South Korea for some kind of auto-immune hearing loss. A single press release was put out over PRNewswire, a infomercial-style video interview of the patient and parents, and a slick website for the company are the only publications out there.

A number of people have rabidly latched onto these morsels of information and are lining up to get treated. Makes me think of the whole "I'd rather be dead than deaf" survey that was going around. http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20091106025148AA4EiJK

Maybe some people feel that way. Their life is on hold, nothing can happen, no success will be had, until that cure is found. I used to think that for myself too. Until I realized that hearing loss isn't the end of the world. There are tons of avenues open, opportunities available, doorways to success that I can enter. I am unique and stand out, and I can use it to shape my life however I want.

My life isn't going to stop until I get treated. So I feel bad seeing all those people who, day in and day out, obsess over their hearing loss. One tiny thing consumes your life, just makes the rest of it all seem so... hollow.

For those who will stop at nothing to get treated - I came across this article which was a fascinating read on just how far companies that are defrauding others will go:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-sci-stemcells20feb20,1,1036275.story

Ask yourself - what proof is there that this stem cell treatment is the real thing?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ow ow ow

I knew I was gonna pay after last night... but it's been a while since I've woken up all stiff and feeling glued together.

Let's recap:

I'm entering week 5 of my exercise program, P90X. I've mentioned it here and there during previous posts, but I don't think I've gone into how I've revved it up from only a once a week thing supplementing my gym workouts, to replacing my gym time entirely with this "about an hour a day" routine. It's grueling... and it sometimes doesn't seem to be getting easier.

I play volleyball as often as possible - down to once a week right now during the holidays, but picks right back up again after until summer. I'm still practicing with the Deaflympics in mind - so I'm making sure that stays in progress, raising the bar on my talents and abilities. I want that gold medal!

Last night, my deaf rejects flag football team (labeled the "Meet the Favres" team) played our last game of the season. We missed two practices in a row, so I wasn't real sure how we'd play. Sure enough, the other team kept scoring and we kept making silly mistakes. All of us, myself included. We played hard, though, ended up getting 3 touchdowns. Kel even made her first touchdown catch! Way to go, girl!


I'm in the most physical period of my life right now. For the last two years or so, the whole Deaflympics volleyball goal set into motion the need to be in tip-top shape, to stay sharp, to never skimp on practice and form. It's only been recently that I've been able to enjoy time with people I can hang out with after a game - instead of "game over" then "bye!" it's over then we chill for a bit in the clubhouse... even though I was freezing my butt off after getting splashed "gatorade style" after the game last night. Some people are gonna learn..... oh, there will be blood!

;-)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkey Sunday!

Can you see the big smile on my face? If you were at my place sometime between the hours of noon and midnight of this past Sunday, you definitely did. I just had the best time ever hosting a hexadecimal group for a thanksgiving potluck. These people are definitely the closest to me in my life right now, and I hope all had a fantastic time. I know I did!

I was talking with a couple of them during the dinner and it was the first time for many to really celebrate thanksgiving without feeling left out - spending time with friends who were able to clearly communicate with each other, either through sign or speaking - and I think it went off with nary a hitch. I like hosting but I gotta admit, I was nervous as heck all week - at times, my organizational abilities can be hit or miss and I had the biggest responsibility of all -preparing the iconic turkey dish! This was a daunting task for a first-timer who has only eaten the end result, never taking part in the actual cooking process. I didn't even know that you're supposed to thaw a frozen turkey for several days before actually roasting it. So this year, I got educated - picked up some pro tips by someone in the know, got things right and planned out several weeks in advance - and it still came down to the wire. Heh.

I picked up a 20lb turkey four days before cooking it. Let it thaw out in the fridge set at about 40 degrees F, any colder than that would have made it thaw slower. I took the bird out of its wrapping (contrary to the written instructions on the package) and stuck it into a big ol' roasting pan. Sat there in my fridge, looking back at me.... taunting me.... mocking me... oh wait no that's the bowl of jello next to it that's looking mighty tasty. Yum. Anyway, last night I got the turkey out in its mostly unfrozen state and took out the neck and giblets. Then I slathered it with some cook-able margarine mixed with lemon herb for flavor. Smelled great! Let that soak in until the morning... set the fires for 325F, plugged in Scotty-bird and set ablaze for 4 1/2 hours. It quickly turned brown so I put on some aluminum foil over to focus more cooking....

So why I am detailing the boring parts of the cooking? 'Cause, dang it, I want to do this again. Not this year, mind you (I'm so glad it's over!) but because I think writing down what I did right will lead to greater success the next time I make it! This, coupled with the one-plate-per-person potluck gave us OMG plenty of good eats!

There were so many leftovers that people were telling me to keep the munchies and have 'em for food this week. Looks like turkey's on the menu for a few weeks now....

I wanted to give a big shout out to the kickass helpers of the event - Alex, for doing awesome mid-event clean up without even asked; Seth, for guiding me with advice and direction about food when needed, and making some of the whooaaaaaa greatest hot chocolate ever; Kel for being her wonderful self, and being superbly helpful and staying late after; and everyone else who helped make the time pass so quickly!

I am now officially zzzzzzonking out....sweet dreams all!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Stem cells used to cure hearing loss




















I've been keeping mostly silent on the issue of stem cells lately. I usually take a "wait-and-see" approach to technologies that I don't fully understand, especially tech that generates intense emotional reactions, such as things that reduce a person's privacy or makes it impossible for me to enjoy music that I own on various devices.

Now, I'm not a geneticist, but I have been getting quite a bit of education regarding genes lately. On top of that, I really like the field of biotech and have been watching it extensively since I was in college. Biotech is one of those fields to be in right now - there are a whole host of factors such as an aging 1st world population, lower birth rates, trends towards recurring treatments instead of one-time cures, and more and more research being done by for-profit corps instead of research universities. If you want a good paying career, biotech's where you want to be.

Over the summer, I participated in the Hearing Loss Association of America national conference. It was an exceptionally enlighting conference - I blogged pretty much every day I was there. The landmark presentation was on hearing loss treatments by stem cells. This was a widely attended seminar - the enormous room was pretty full, I'd estimate at least 500 people attended. I took notes, and the consensus of the 4 presenters was that it'd be at least 25 or so years off before we'd see viable treatments. That prompted a whole line of HOT, aggressive questioning to the panel - "where's a clinical trial I can join now?" "if I pay you will you let me in?" "how soon will you start a trial?" "what's taking so long?!"

Keep in mind, only animal testing is going on with regeneration. Chicken and mice are the two main test subjects at this time. Human testing in the US is not expected to happen any time soon. Funding is a major issue, as always.

However - after this summer, a South Korean company released a video out onto the web. It supposedly showcased a certain University of Arizona student who had lost her hearing 3 years ago. This video touted an unbelievable amount of success, "90% hearing improvement in one ear, 50% in the other!" Never mind that percentages aren't supposed to be used as a way to gauge hearing loss, but that video was SLICK. Infomercial slick, I tell ya. But where were the papers, the journals, the peer reviewed submissions? There are none yet. Clearly, this suspicion is shared by many others with hearing loss, and HLAA hosted a webchat last night.

The speaker was one of the presenters from over the summer, Dr. Douglas Cotanche. He's got more than 25 years in the field of hearing loss and regenerative treatments with Boston University. An excerpt I'll quote from the webchat:

================
Question: There has been an individual promoting this youtube video on hair cell regeneration as being proof that [stem cell treatment for hearing loss] is happening now. Is this true?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_jqPbTc0Ug

Where should we go for credible updates on hair cell regeneration?

Dr._Cotanche: Hi,
Thank you for pointing out this video. I am very suspicious of this testimony because they give no details of what therapy they are talking about. And when I go to the company website there is no information on this case or for using stem cells to treat hearing loss. I would be very cautious about believing that testimonial, even if both her parents are MDs. They need to provide more scientific data and show it happens more than once to demonstrate that the therapy she got was actually responsible for her recovery of her hearing. There may have been other things going on or other therapies she got that contributed to the recovery.
A good resource for reliable information would be the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communicative Disorders (http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/) at NIH in Bethesda, MD.
=====================

I'm more willing to believe a presenter that I've met in person and can review his research at length than some video that plays like a TV advertisement.

Other strikes against the stem cell treatment announcement:

1) The only news release I can find about it is actually just a press release. People are misquoting that this press release (which is released from the company itself, not a news site) as "being reported by Reuters, a reputable news company" which is NOT the case. Reuters is simply reposting what was written by the company itself, no verification or reporting is done by anyone. I know this for a fact because my company has done the same - put out product press releases and Reuters picked it up. You can tell by the "PR Newswire" heading.

2) Prior to the video being released, quite a number of people were already contacting that stem cell company months before due to rumors being spread that they had proof of treatment. That gives the company an incentive to create advertising to drive more business to them. A number of statements I caught at the HLAA conference were basically "I would give anything for this to be cured!" Who wouldn't want to take advantage of bilking you out of your hard earned money without you seeing proof of success?

3) People are throwing themselves at this and believing there will can be no downside. "Either I'll get some hearing, or nothing, but I'll keep my residual hearing." Bold statements when there have been no clinical trials and cases are starting to come out stating that yes, even stem cells can cause tumors:


So, while I want to give stem cells their chance to prove themselves, this is one organization that isn't gonna get me as a customer until they give us verifiable results. I sure hope they don't start taking peoples money and run. Be safe!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pajamas

It's getting colder and colder, and that means one thing to me - long pajamas!

Yeah, why the heck am I talking about long pajamas? Because every time I put a pair on, it actually makes me think of my cochlear implant.

Yes, I'm serious. I closely associate my CI with pajamas. I never wore anything like a long pair of flannel pants until I got implanted. Growing up in balmy Southern California, there was no need for wearing anything resembling pants to bed, and so I grew up not even knowing what they were, or even why those characters I see on TV wear them so often. Y'know, like the kind you see on the dad in the TV sitcom when he's walking around in his PJs and robe. Example:















I always kept thinking, "Who in the world wears stuff like that?! Those prudes!" Due to the comedy shows I watched, I actually came to the conclusion that people wore that stuff only so that if they get locked out of the house fetching the newspaper, that we locked out looking somewhat decent...

Well, when I had my CI surgery, I was not permitted to wear pullover shirts or sweaters post-surgery. Apparently your melon swells up and it's not good to have to force yourself into those kind of clothes. So, my mom, who was taking care of me, got me my first real pair of button up flannel pajamas, and.... it's been my kind of "CI wear" ever since.

I still haven't added in the wearing a robe and slippers yet, though. ;-)


It snowed for the first time this season last night. Normally the snow happens right around Thanksgiving, so it's right on time this year. Too cold for my blood! I was really enjoying this past summer, so I hope warm weather comes around soon!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm surrounded by geeks (and a geekette!)




















Do people tend to hang out with others of similar personality? I.e. do birds of a feather flock together? I used to not think so... even though I made friends who had one or two things in common, I didn't meet people who "got" me. Even in groups that I was looked up to, or was a role model in, I was still an outsider, a special breed, I guess. What was that? I am a geek, a nerd, a brain, versus the non-socially awkward fellas and gals I hung out with in college. They were mostly sports types, who didn't have the patience to read the latest in gadget news or understand what relevance biotech has in our lives. So even though I made good friends, they weren't... reflective of who I am.


Where I am now, has much better representation about my character and my true self. Just the other day I was yakking with Vic about his CompSci projects and the latest in phones and gadgets - animatedly exclaiming our joy over remembering LISP or determining if the Blackberry Bold was the next best Blackberry out there. Toys and serious business. The last time I can remember doing that was when I was swapping tech support stories with this guy ten years older than me in St. Louis...

On top of that, it's fun to see that there are even girl geekettes out there who ooh and ahh over the silliest things - my friend Tara on Shakespeare and RenFests, or Kel on her analyzing people in fast food restaurants to determine if they have Turner's syndrome or not.... ;-)

It's just nice to feel like I fit in with people who are on my level, to be enjoying things.

Anyway, I'm rambling, and this blog is actually a day late. Off to work!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dave & Buster's















Dave & Buster's is like one of the most fun places on earth. Totally.

Last night, my entourage hit up a restaurant to watch the KU men's basketball season opener. To be honest, I didn't watch the game much, spent most of the time chatting with my buddy Vic. Truly, it's nice to have a friend who can completely relate to the finer points of computer geekitude - while I couldn't immediately place the language SCHEME, I was familiar with LISP and we detailed some of the finer points of computing...

But the real fun didn't begin (yes, geek talk is fun!) until we took off to catch one of my CSUN friends who was in town for another KU sport, the Saturday college football game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. She's a Nebraska fan. I'm surprised my cadre didn't... dispatch her on the spot. ;-) We can be a pretty rabid group of fans (except when I'm supporting UCLA.... oops I said it!). But games can bring everyone together, and so my group of deaf people got to game on!

That makes me think a bit. Am I hanging out with people like me too often? Am I getting enough diversity in my life? Kel sometimes talks about how she feels she isn't getting enough exposure to hearing people, situations where she has to lipread, stuff like that. I get plenty of exposure to hearing people in professional situations - but is that enough? It's almost as if I've segregated my hearing and deaf lives neatly into business and pleasure. Quite so, actually. The businesses I deal with, the companies I call, the management in my company, all pretty much are not in the deaf culture, and are maybe mainly exposed to it through me. Even though I'm not culturally deaf I do carry around the ability to interact with those who are deaf...

I'll have to meditate on that further. Now I'm off to a baby shower! Well, the kind where the guys get to goof off together shower... need to plot some excitement for tonight! :-D


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hot cocoa!



















It's definitely hot chocolate weather outside.
I'm one of those oddballs in my choice of drinks. Everyone in the office goes for coffee. Me? Hot cocoa. Heck, I bring in my own mix and hot water jug so I can refill at my desk. How's that for productivity?!

I guess the same goes for my other beverage habits. Most of my friends are beer and wine aficinados. Not me, I can't really stand either. I'd rather have a soft drink or something that can get set on fire. ;-)

I was talking with one of my old volleyball teammates last night when the new league season started up. She was going on and on and on about her recent Hawaii trip. It's definitely one of those places I miss now that winter's getting near, during the times when it's getting dark as I'm leaving the office at 5pm. Almost makes me want to move down south, closer to where the waves and sand are. I worry that I might be one of those snowbirds as I get older, migrating south for the winter. ;-)

Then again, I wouldn't have any excuse to drink yummy hot chocolate if I did!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The holidays
















The holidays used to be a time of dread for me. Man, oh, man, did I hate having to shop and travel and deal with snow and cold and darkness and.... let's just say I used to have a greater appreciation for the Nov-Dec timeframe when I didn't have to deal with those things.

Ever since I moved to Kansas City, I've been spending my Thanksgiving with friends who are kind enough to make a spot on the table for me. One year was with a deaf family and friends, and the next was a group of hearing people. I did enjoy both meals, but I had a much more interesting time with the deaf family - I was more involved in the chatter, aware of what was going on, having a blast and feeling like I belonged. Not that I didn't appreciate the other family's effort and they adored having me there - I just never had that full-on, involved in everything family thing. Made me realize that's something I want in my future, for my family.

In about two weeks I'll be hosting a big turkey roast at my place, turning my home into a crazy restaurant of flying fingers and food fights. At least at this one I'll be armed with the 20lb fowl! Twenty people are expected to show up - the size of which I've never hosted a meal for. Thank gawd Kel really wants to lend a hand and help out - you rock!

Looking back, I've really never been much included with my family at events. Most of the they'd want to include me but I'd never know what was going on. When I first started having my deaf fraternity celebrations of things like holiday exchanges and spring break in Vegas, that's when I knew how much I was missing out. So I'm looking forward to turkey sunday and being included!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Getting back on track

Sometimes I feel like everything's been squeeeeeeeezed into such a short period of time. This past week has definitely felt that way, both for personal and for my professional life. There was an article I read on Sunday (the "fall back" day for us Americans who choose to set their clocks back to get more sun in the morning than after 5pm) where we seem to give up more and more of our lives to cramming everything in, using every nanosecond of our life for something, anything. It's like we've become slaves to our mobile phones, our electronic calendars, our emails, our instant messengers. We wait for the next message to affect our lives - one second, I gotta take this.





... done. Where was I? Oh, yeah. That message can come any time, and we even interrupt our in-person activities to rush and read that message. When I was playing flag football recently, I was listening to someone tell a story and then I got distracted by someone else asking me a question. The person telling me a story got extremely irate, like I was disrespecting them on purpose. But you can get away with that behavior on the phone or computer - how does the other person know you're being interrupted by someone else, or if you're just distracted, or busy?

So does online behavior make one more patient? Or less? Did anyone read the rest of my blog after I took a short break? Is anyone reading this? Bueller? Bueller?

Ooops, there's the horn... off to worky work! Half day yay! Gonna go see Paramore!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Balance

I've talked about my experience in wanting to be able to do a handstand, cleanly, for a satisfactory amount of time, by the end of the year.

http://positiveterminal.blogspot.com/2009/09/handstand.html

The difficulty of this task is compounded by my inability to make use of any sense of balance at all. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but dang, I really got a wakeup call of just how far I need to go yesterday.

I'm doing the P90X workout program. I've been doing it for several weeks once a week with a group (the rest of the time I'm at a standard gym doing my weights). Now that I've got a set of discs, I'm following the prescribed Classic program which is 90 days of a pretty strict routine. I figured this would be easy to follow, it's extremely structured and straightforward - do this that day, change it up this time, don't do that, etc etc. You figure even my little brother would take to the rigidity of it (which he hasn't and seems to find pain in joints he's not even exercising to get out of it).

Yesterday's program was "legs and back." There's about 2 or 3 leg exercises for each round of pullups. I've got a pullup bar in my home, works great, and I'm doing about 80 or so pullups per workout. Not too bad - my goal is to get up to 120 by the end of the program. These aren't straight up chinups - they're varied, some much tougher than others, some wide, some with hands close together, stuff like that. Killer!


But what really burned me was the leg exercises.


I'm good at legs. I press, I squat, I jump, I play volleyball, I run around at football, all that. But man oh man I can't balance worth jack.

Lemme give ya a sight. There's a drill that imitates "speed skating." You're on one leg, then in a motion you're sweeping your other leg back while leaning forward as far as you can. Your hands are up for balance. You're NOT supposed to put your sweeping leg down at all. You're all supposed to be "swish.... swish.... swish.... "

And me? I'm "swish... swish.... *fall*" "swish.... *stumble*" "sw-*trip*" $@#$@%!!!

At least it felt that bad. There were a couple of more exercises that really just made it feel like gravity had it out for me. Deadman lifts (squats on one foot), sneaky lunges (lunges on the toes of your feet for 3 minutes), and even backwards lunges (lunge behind you).

No wonder I'm so interested in going into space.... ;-)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Self-contradictory

















I'm a bit of a flip flopper. I wholly admit it - there are times when one thing that's suited me, will change and I'll do a complete 180. Then I'll probably flip back and keep doing what I was doing all along. ;-)

It's actually come up several times lately, but two I'll recount:

This past weekend, I was planning on attending KC's awesome haunted houses. Basically, it's kind a tradition for me, Seth, and Pam, to go in and have a blast winding our way through the corridors, actually getting lost even though we've been through the place enough times to probably do it in our sleep. I greatly enjoy the atmosphere, the creativity, the interaction with the ghouls and zombies and chainsaw wielding maniacs and denziens of the mansion. You think that you're not vulnerable because you've seen it all? They'll find a way to catch you off guard.... BOO!

Contrast to that, I've decided to "screw tradition." Life goes on, things change, and I've got other stuff in my life. New traditions can be made. Maybe this year, we won't go, the three of us. Am I bummed over that? Not really.... the haunted houses won't make or break my year.

"Screw tradition" I think for me came out of a realization back when I was attending church. I've been to a number of different churches, but what really got me was that so many of them have a set ritual, something they have to do just because someone said so or some book told them so, and now it's set in stone. Why do people kneel at the altar to pray? Why do we always have to eat the bread and drink the grape juice? Why do we sing hymns, then announcements, then more hymns, then lecture, then more hymns, then.... ackpth. There was always more focus on the routine actions than on what I believed was important, which was the relationship with God. It felt like everyone lost perspective.... so I no longer do any of those things.


So that's flip flopper 1. Flip flopper 2... football!

I go out and tell people I'm QB and I need to make sure I pass to everyone.

In the game, I tended to toss only to those big guys on my team. I realized later that the girls were open, and they can catch, but I wouldn't spot them in time. Eh!

Now I need to practice throwing to everyone! Goooooo team!

Off to work now....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Audiology 101





















Saturday morning, I'll be leading the Hearing Loss Association of America's KC chapter into a presentation on Audiology 101, "Things you wanted to ask your audiologist but were afraid to ask." It features community audiologist Sam Bittel, Au.D., who was invited by member Minda Nelson to speak.

My history with audiologists is pretty.... sketchy. All my life, I continually confused who my audiologist and hearing aid dispensers were - it was a constant rotation of people I really didn't know nor understood what was going on. It seemed like it was basically just another excuse for my mom (always my mom, never my dad) to get me out of the house and into some other kind of doctor's waiting room and then getting in this big vault room talking to the lady with the paper over her mouth. Then sometime after that we would see this guy who would mix this bright pink putty-like substance then squeeze it into my ear. It tickled. ;-) I would also need a really good cleaning of my ears before and after that, because my earmolds kept the earwax from being cleaned away naturally. Gross!

As I started getting older, I started actually paying more and more attention to what was going on in the audiology office. Finally, when I was in college, I actually went to one by myself - and found out I had upwards of 100dB hearing loss. I was devastated - up until that point, I thought I had a little bit better hearing than that. It wasn't too long after that when I got my CI - being faced with the actual numbers and what they meant instead of letting my mom deal with it.

Nowadays I'm somewhat more versed in audiology lingo and am definitely more self-advocating - but I really do wonder what I should have been asking from my audiologist all along. I may not have understood it, and I certainly wasn't taught for a long time how to read an audiogram to make any good judgements about it.

Maybe that's a good thing. I've met a number of people who are just sooooo obsessed with the numbers on the chart. Numbers don't tell the whole story, though. Hearing and understanding are two different things, and quantifying understanding is still not fully possible. Even those tests where you repeat or pick a word that you hear don't quite get down to "did you understand what was said?"

I'm just glad I have the hearing I have and I'm where I'm able to understand people comfortably in most situations. I'm also able to adjust in situations where I can't understand. I'm in control of my life and my needs. How about you?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Streeeeeetch!























Oh, boy, what an evening! This is the first time I've dedicated an hour just to various stretching methods, from the top down. It certainly does make you feel limber and flexible!

Growing up, I never was very bendable, absolutely nothing like Gumby or Pokey. I had a massage at some point in my life where the masseuse straight up told me that my problem was totally in my back and stretching that out would work wonders. Every time I tried, though, I kept getting frustrated at my progress and quit before I saw real results.
Last year, I went to Teen Institute Camp and met an interpreter who stretched every morning and before bedtime. His goal? He wanted to do a split by next summer - ow! However, his attitude inspired me to get on with my own stretching and soon enough, I was able to put my head on my knees! Yay!
So, now, I'm watching "So You Think You Can Dance" in preparation for the tour of Season 5 that I'll be seeing next month. It's pretty silly - lots of drama, tension, and suspense, picking who will be in the upcoming season 6. I want to see more dancing!
I first really got into dancing when I was in college. One friend of mine started asking me to join her at swing dancing - and I really got into it! I would go just about every other Saturday, picking up new moves such as the Charleston, the Lindy Hop, and the slide. I guess I've picked up a few more dances since then, but most of 'em I've forgotten.... I think I need to take up dancing classes again, just for the heck of it.
Off to do some more P90X.....

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Zombie movies



















I'm weird - I would get up early in the morning to watch a zombie flick. In fact, that's what I'm about to do right now - there's an early morning showing for Zombieland at the theatre with captions on - and heck, after the kind of flat movie I saw last night, I'm in the mood for something upbeat that involves bangs, booms, and splats.

I'm not sure exactly when I started liking zombie movies, but I'm pretty sure the movie that kicked it off was the remake of "Dawn of the Dead" and also "28 Days Later" They're not incredibly horribly scary, but throw in a bit of action and it keeps my interest for an hour or two.

The horror genre as a whole doesn't really grab me. I'm not a big fan of movies that are meant to gross you out by showing people dying in grotesque ways, stuff like that, but I'm fine with a movie that tries to scare you with anticipation or the unexpected.

I think zombie movies have risen in popularity mostly because of the fears of a global pandemic happening, such as if the avian flu or swine flu or even mad cow disease gained traction within the human population. I'm not so sure a sanitary society is the answer - people using those purcell hand sanitizers and popping antibiotics at every opportunity, creating strains of superbugs that are resistant to standard drugs. So it all comes back to people's fear of science in a similar way that people have a fear of robots taking over the world. Next up will probably be genetically modified people ruling the world... oh, wait, that's already been done. ;-)

Off to see the flick! Football practice later today, hope that'll go well.... come on Favres!!!!!

UPDATED:

I just got back from the Zombieland showing... I admit I liked the "battles" and the beginning and end of the flick, but the middle was just a bunch of dialog that could have been done without. Lots of social commentary and attempts to appeal to a more cerebral audience.... come on just show me the bang bangs! ;-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Football results




















Aaaaaaaaand it's the kickoff!

"Meet the Favres" played some down and dirty sandy flag football on Monday night. Everyone on the team except 1 is deaf and most of us have never played competitive football in any form.

I tried out (briefly!) for my high school football team, the William S. Hart High School Indians. This year, it looks like my school is not the number 1 team in my area (which has grown tremendously from 4 high schools -the 4th was graduating its first senior class- to 6 full size high schools in 10 years). I got frustrated when the coaches basically had no willingness to work through my hearing loss and thus I had to walk out of tryouts. Been into volleyball 100% ever since!

I hope this team learns quickly, as there are a lot of little rules in the game such as 2 women must be on the field at all times, there must be 3 people on the line and standing shoulder to shoulder to snap the ball, players have to shout a count to 3 to then go after the quarterback.... it's a madhouse on the field when you can't rely on your ears to play!

We're gonna practice tomorrow and hopefully we'll be a bit more cohesive now that we've tasted how the game is played.

Some action shots below. All photos courtesy of John Slaughter.








































Thursday, October 15, 2009

Deer me



























Dennis 1, Deer 0.5
Round 1: After so eloquently dodging numerous run-ins with those ever present critters of the night, I managed to get in a brawl with a friend of Bambi's.... and won.

Let me back up. After football practice on Sunday, I'm leaving Shawnee Mission Park and see protesters who are against the plan to cull 75% of the deer in the park. I recall news about deer overpopulation being a problem in the area. By May of this year, there had been 22 deer-related incidents in the area alone - I haven't been able to find an update how many more have transpired since.


The protesters are protesting the lethal methods that are planned to be used against the deer, AKA sharpshooters and/or bow hunters. I have no problem with that as long as people aren't harmed. But the protesters wanted some silly fencing and contraceptive and natural death solution - definitely not a feasible plan.

http://www.shawneedispatch.com/news/2009/sep/17/protests-deer-hunt-shawnee-mission-park-continue/

So here I am, heading home out of the park and looking forward to a get together later that evening when this doe slams into the side of my car. It was so sudden that I didn't even realize it was a deer until I looked in my side mirror, watching it struggle to get on its feet. I didn't see any immediate damage so I kept going for a few more seconds. Then, I started feeling this cool draft.... and just knew something was up. I pulled over, get out and see this:

















OUCH! The windows BEHIND the driver's seat and the trunk were knocked out, spilling tinted glass everywhere.
















My poor car!
















Luckily, nobody was riding with me, and I was especially glad no one was riding in the back. I had a couple of friends wait with me while the police got in order and showed up to take my report. Someone later told me 5 cars all together showed up.... for a deer incident on a Sunday?!

Oh, well, the car's in the shop now getting all massaged back into shape. Hopefully it'll be a-okay soon! Driving around this little red car with TX plates now.... boo Texas!

Actually, side note.... I went to the KU v #2 Texas Longhorns women's volleyball game last night.... and Kel was blaming me the whole time for jinxing the game, since the KU girls lost in 3. I got just one thing to say to you, Kel - :-p!!!!!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Let's recap....

This has been a heckuva week away from the blog. Wayyy too much going on for me to post entirely, so I'll just give a short update:

Friday:

I'm on the board of the government agency of the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, overseeing their performance serving those with hearing loss in the great state of Kansas. All meetings are public and cover a wide range of topics, from interpreter certification to educating emergency services about how to best serve the community. The meeting was in Hays, which is farrrrr out though! Had to get in to the hotel pretty late Thursday night after work, and boy was the drive freezing. I was going to check out the Sternberg Museum of Natural History before the meeting at 10, but got roped into a work emergency. *grumble* It's DINOSAURS!!!!! I just shouldn't have answered my phone...


Saturday:
Kel had an appointment with Killer's Tech Support, Inc, so I got to play doctor with her timewarped laptop. Apparently just about every piece of technology she touches eventually has a catastrophic failure.... and hopefully my tech karma will balance it out! She has somehow been able to lock up my Zune music player, which is definitely a feat as that baby is rock-solid stuff.

In the meantime, while that laptop was undergoing recovery, we met up for drinks with Morgie and my HLAA buddy Patrick. Patrick's heading out to South Africa to do a project that will help poor and rural parts of the country to gain better access to hearing care resources. His plan is to distribute hearing aids with solar powered rechargable hearing aid batteries, with the help of audiology resources in the area. He'll hopefully be a catalyst that will get more equality in disabilities there! Go Patrick! If you want to check out his work, he'll be on hearnowsa.com and blogging as he gets settled and going. Please make a donation if you can!

Sunday:
Flag football season is upon us! What does a good team do before starting the season? Well, how does one get to Carnegie Hall? PRACTICE! Played for a little while tossing around the ol' pigskin.

As I was leaving the park in my Xterra, there were these protesters who waved at me. I had heard in the news recently that there was an overpopulation of deer and there are plans to thin those numbers. These protesters were against such culling of the herds. I'm sympathetic to their views, but I think it is a problem and too many deer is a bad thing. I was proven right when....

WHAM!!!!

Oh, hello, deer. Were you just being friendly by knocking out only my two back windows of my car? 'Cause it could have been much worse. I'll have a more in-depth post soon on that.


Monday:
Back at work and fires are still raging. I need an asbestos suit for all the fires I'm putting out. At least that night we had our first football game!

I'm running out of time, so I'll provide some pics on my next post!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Goin' green




















I'm a proponent of "green" initiatives. My thinking is that businesses I patronize, from retail stores to online purchases to even the kind of cell phones being put out, I want to encourage those businesses to continue to find ways to make things better for the environment and also save on cost. For example, Sprint (full disclosure - I work for 'em) has been talking up their green efforts quite a bit lately:



I love hearing about how companies have already taken action to do something instead of saying "we will do X in Y years" In Sprint's case, it talks about 80% of its World HQ power needs comes from wind power (I've also seen large solar panels on the tops of the parking towers), collecting more customers into "online billing only" to save on paper bills and mailing costs, and the packaging materials for those phones they sell have been getting better and better, more recyclable and less waste. That's definitely what I'm looking for from other companies!

Google is currently my favorite "eco-friendly" company. They have an app called "Google Power Meter" that, when combined with a compatible smart meter, you can analyze and take action to reduce power consumption. I think the biggest waste, in America at least, is definitely electrical power - which leads to building more polluting plants like coal or gas power plants. I think we just have so many electronics that draw power even when they're turned off - so things like "Kill-A-Watt" have been growing in popularity. I think that as more and more people get to SEE how their electricity is consumed and can tell what's drawing the most power, they can be empowered to save electricity.... thus saving money too!


Now, even with all this environmental talk, I still do have my excesses. One is a dream that someday I'll own a Moller Skycar - preferably the M400. And I probably would have it in cherry red.... :-D

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Text messaging
























I'm a technophile. I believe that the reason why we invent new, cool, useful (and even not-so useful stuff) is because we're out to make our lives better. Not necessarily faster, cheaper, more energy efficient... but better. I'm able to sit at home on a lazy Sunday morning, sipping some hot cocoa with water boiled from my electric kettle, checking Facebook and the news about the nationwide Sidekick outage, waiting for my laundry to wash and my USB drive to backup my work laptop.

Where would I be without technology? Honestly? I don't think I would be able to survive without an infrastructure that gives me my.... life support. Glasses? Contact lenses? Cochlear implant? Potable water, hot showers,? I can barely survive a week camping, let alone what may happen if zombie apocalypse were to happen....

Ooh, I've been hearing fun things about Zombieland - when is it gonna be capshuned in my backyard?

So this whole weekend, some phone company's somewhat popular phone service has been out, save for texts, or more specifically, SMS. SMS stands for "Short Message Service" where (for the benefit all you 2 or 3 people who've been hiding under a rock all this time and only came out to read my blog ;-) ) you can only send a message of up to 160 characters at a time. Admittedly, I mostly eschew SMS because of that limitation - IM, email, pictures, web, Facebook, and soon video by far leave SMS in the dust for convenience.

I'm wondering just how those people who are experiencing that Sidekick outage are faring - are they going crazy without their constant updates on Twitter? Are they experiencing Facebook withdrawl? ;-)

The nice thing is that SMS is a standard that will work just about anywhere there's cell coverage - which is why they're considering it for providing access to 911 via text. That's going to be interesting when that comes to fruition!

Off to the gym then to food shop. The Paramore concert on Tuesday is postponed due to the lead singer coming down with laryngitis. No orange hair sighting this week! Aw! ;-)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Snowballs

Ackkkk. When it rains, it pours, but in around here, it piles on! I had a nice wake up this morning -- until I realized I was going to be late to work! Now I'm stuck at work today, dealing with the usual when I realize I forgot my wallet at home, so lunch is out the window. I couldn't even get away long enough to see Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer, NASCAR racers, hang out on campus. Not that I care that much, but that's now twice in a couple of months where I missed out on famous people coming over. Grahhhhhhh!

I'd go home for lunch now, but I have to leave early from work to get my brother and take him to the airport for his trip down to Dallas, TX. Hopefully he'll have a good time, but those people down there keep making him think it'll be all a bed of roses if he moves down there with them. Maybe I ought to let him go down and make mistakes that I can't help him out of - clearly, he will continue to waffle as long as he thinks the grass is greener on the other side. Seems like I'm just the troll on the bridge to him... so who are the 3 billy goats?

This coming weekend is the Walk 4 Hearing in St. Louis. I'm not much of a runner, but I think I'm gonna test my endurance this Saturday and see how fast I can make it. Contrast that to my dead-last finish in the Sounds in KC Walk a couple of weeks ago with Kel and Brewster.... I hafta blame the dog for my finishing place, it's like the walking version of "my dog ate my homework!" ;-)

I've been catching quite a few ASL related films recently. I'm all for the advancement of deaf culture and sign language to the level of equality within mainstream films and society, however, both films I saw just leave me feeling disappointed in the direction the movies chose. The most recent one I caught felt like it was an angry deaf person's lashing out at the rest of the world, accusing us all of oppressing her and her culture, and it did not win me over to her cause, in fact I would go so far as to say she alienated people who are not deaf like her - the only people who would enjoy this movie were those who felt exactly like her already! Talk about preaching to the choir....

I'm heartened about the possibility of another movie coming in the future that may be more moderate, or win over people to support sign language. http://www.seewhatimsayingmovie.com/ I'm gonna keep my eye on this movie....

Argh, back to the grind - looking forward to getting out of here soon enough!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bowling for HLAA

Something's always going on. If it's not a volleyball game that I'm training for, a get-together I'm attending, or gym time that I'm working through, then it's definitely HLAA time! There have been lots of things going on since we had to replace our chapter president, so I've been scrambling around making sure things get completed. I have to admit I didn't plan on taking on this role this year so I'm making adjustments and have been relying on Secretary Shanna and Treasurer Minda far more than I should. I wanna give them a shout out, you two rock, been absolutely supportive and you truly care about the chapter, so I want to make sure I do my part to keep things moving along!

Part of that includes making sure our events for HLAA are properly advertised and the word spread to those who want to attend. Just yesterday, we hosted a bowling social at Incredabowl in Overland Park, about 10 people showed up, including two ASL students who needed to interview deaf people for their classes. A great time was had by all, and I've made a few new friends out of it.

Bowling.... is such as dang tough sport. Could it even be called a sport? ;-) Eh, well, if hitting a ball over a net constitutes a sport, then I guess rolling a ball down a lane could be too. I just couldn't get in a groove all day until near the end of the 2nd game - lo and behold, the strikes and spares finally popped up. Yay! My younger bro still beat me, which is a feat since he nearly paralyzed his hand a few years ago.

Two years ago, a freak incident happened at my mom's house in L.A. where he was opening a drawer in the bathroom and the ceramic handle spontaneously broke off and severed nerves in his index finger and thumb. To save his ability to use his hand, they performed surgery to restore the nerves - they were mostly successful, as today if you see his scars on his hands, he has most of the feeling in them, though there is still stiffness and slight numbness. Whew!

Off to do some cleaning before the gym - my stepsister is coming into town before flying back to L.A. She's apparently in a wedding in Topeka for her sister (or half sister? I don't think it's the same dad...) and wants to use my house for a launching pad to the airport. I'd say it's almost the same distance from Topeka to the airport as it is from my place!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Handstand



























Sometimes I come up with the weirdest goals. But for the longest time, I've always wanted to be able to stand on my hands. But when you have the hardest time balancing even on your own two feet, you'd think inverting might just be pushing it. ;-)

However, I've been reading up on just how to do a handstand. Seems simple enough. Of course, by this time next week, I'll probably wind up in the hospital with a subdural hematoma (link not for the squeamish) from doing more of a faceplant....

I'm gonna be able to do this by the end of the year, no doubt!


A follow up to my last post - I came across this article on a blogsite somewhere, but it bears sharing some more - it's been reported that 76 athletes with hearing loss competed in NCAA and NAIA, with about half in Division 1 sports. That's great!



Off to see some NHL hockey tonight - LA Kings vs NY Islanders in the Sprint Center. It's not the Mighty Ducks, but it is an L.A. team, so I gotsa represent!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mainstream success in sports

I'm always heartened to hear when people with hearing loss are achieving their dreams in sports outside of the deaf community. The true litmus test of one's ability to be good at a sport is to complete against everyone who plays the sport, at the same level as everyone else. When Kenny Walker made it onto the Denver Broncos, that was a big deal to the deaf community, but I saw that as "wow, he's achieving his dream, hearing loss or not." I went to the first round of NCAA basketball championships back in March this year to watch my alma mater CSUN play against Memphis - coincidentally, freshman Michael Lizarraga was on the bench, ready to play in what I hope will be many more NCAA championship runs.

Today I'm heading out to catch a KU soccer game with a couple of buds. KU just happens to feature Emily Cressy, who apparently is kicking butt and winning games. So KU soccer just might go all the way this year! Come on, 'hawks!

On a side note, I caught an ASL film last night. It's made me compare my recent experiences watching films made by people with hearing loss. My friend Rhiannon created "When I'm not Alone" for her school project which was absolutely phenomenal. The ASL film, in comparison, cannot hold a candle to Rhi's documentary. But pretty much the entire audience at the ASL film loved the ASL film, the "best ever." I'm flabbergasted - am I really that high of a film buff, to see this flick and go "it really had glaring problems that prevented me from enjoying it."

Oh, well. I'm gonna put it behind me and go play some volleyball tonight! Woooo!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Flag football

With summer winding down (it's not over until the Autumnal Equinox!) it's time to put aside the sandals and slip on some sweatpants. The daystar is waning - lights up at 7, lights down at 7... nooooo! Pretty soon I'll be cooped up all day at the office with no sunlight for weeks, not looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I've been categorizing things I'll be doing this winter to stave off cabin fever. A list I've generated thus far:


1) Sunlamp
2) Gymnastics late on Monday nights


wait, no, I need to re-order my list.

1) INDOOR VOLLEYBALL 3x a week!
3) Gymnastics late on Monday nights
4) X Factory/Gym
5) Guitar Hero
6) Sunlamp
7) DDR
8) Trip to Las Vegas or L.A.
9) Snowboarding trip to Colorado
10) Milk runs on Snow Creek
11) Sunlamp
12) Hot cocoa
13) Studying Japanese
14) Planning my trip to Japan
15a) Skydiving
15b) .....or bungee jumping....
15c) ....or both!
16) Blogblogblog
17) Partypartyparty

One item that's definitely not my winter sport but will be keeping me out of the house is Flag Football! I've played some football growing up, kind of hard to avoid it when you end up going to a high school that tends to win championships. Never made the team, but still got to play some good ol' flag. Now, coed flag football, I've never done - so this'll be interesting. I tend to sometimes play a little... rough. :-)













Seeya out on the field!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Paramore concert




















Naaa-naa-na-naaaaa! Discovering new music is one major joy that just happens spotaneously for me. Listening to internet radio, reading what's good in Rolling Stone magazine, or even just checking out a friend's playlist really nets me some great results. So, last year, Seth emailed me out of the blue and was like, "Check out Paramore!" Apparently he had been playing some Guitar Hero (yeahhhhhh!) and played, I think, the song "Misery Business" and it sounded so superb that he had to go and get their two albums, "All We Know Is Falling" and "Riot!"

I liked their sound too - alternative rock with some heavy guitar riffs and some thumpin' drums. You know someone really likes a band when they create a playlist of just that band's top songs ;-) So you can tell I'm definitely stoked when just yesterday I find out they're set to hit town on 10/6 at the Uptown Theater. Yesssss!

One reason I'm thrilled is because I've always had a good experience at Uptown - seems to be a well organized place, good sound, and free parking. Can't beat free parking! And I shoudn't forget to mention that the club has been excellent about providing sign language interpreters upon request - phenomenal job, actually, and I hope that this time will go just as smoothly!

They'll be showcasing their new album "brand new eyes." Now I have to actually listen to their newest single to see if it's any good...

Off for lunch!