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Thursday, October 29, 2009


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.

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


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


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!!!!!


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.

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:


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...

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 and blogging as he gets settled and going. Please make a donation if you can!

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....


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.

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


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. I'm gonna keep my eye on this movie....

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