Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

I was doing a little research to find an appropriate video to post to ring in the new and exciting year we are about to embark upon; and found one I hope you enjoy.

Many of you remember the 70's with fondness of the days when you had hair, and lots of it, wore platform shoes, danced the night away in a disco and could stay up later than 10 PM. Women had the Farah Fawcett hair style and men wore the cool, or so they thought, polyester disco suits. Bell bottoms were cool and basketball players wore short shorts.

Now, many of my readers weren't even born until at least the 80's, and look back at their parents' wedding pictures and laugh at the powder-blue tuxedos, platform shoes, long hair and mutton chop sideburns. How things have changed!

I hope you enjoy this video and have a great 2009! We are all in this together and change is on the way. We will get through these tough times and come out the better for it. Like the man says, "Yes we can, yes we can."

View this nostalgic Happy New Year's video by clicking here.

Take special notice to the clothes and hair. Then, if you are of that generation, think about what you looked and acted like!
Ah, to be young again!

Any comments will be welcomed.

Later,

Mike

P.S. I do miss my hair!

My friend Tom Wallace and me on the Berkeley campus, 1974!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Lights

'Tis the season — right? Everywhere we drive these days we see peoples' houses and yards decorated with lights, ornaments and now I've noticed more and more inflatable lawn figures. Some of them are very well done, others ... not so much.

Maybe you've seen these videos of a couple of incredibly elaborate displays. Look at these two videos and then check out the letter and photo of the last one. Friends have sent these and many others that fall somewhere in the middle of time and energy spent to make their own personal statement about the holidays.

I'd like to make this a contest and ask you to tell me which one you like the best. The first video is from 2005 and the second video, letter and photo are from this year. Please take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and watch the videos, read the letter and look at the picture at the end. Then, leave a comment and tell me which one you like the best. Thank you.

video


video

Now, read this letter and see what this fellow did to decorate his garage:


Hello All,

It's that time of year again.
The Mrs. has been on my case to get the Christmas lights up for a couple of weeks. They are up now and for some reason she will not talk to me.




Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all!

Later,

Mike

Monday, December 15, 2008

Project Walk

I just learned of an organization that exists to help spinal cord injured people who may have the ability to walk, to help them do just that. It's called Project Walk and it's main location is in Carlsbad, California.

They discuss how important the first first year, and especially, the first six months post injury are in getting SCI's up and walking again. They are seeing some amazing results. I am very encouraged for new injuries by reading their website. You can view their site by clicking here. Their site is full of interesting information.

According to their website, their Mission is: Project Walk® exists to provide an improved quality of life for people with spinal cord injuries through intense exercise-based recovery programs, education, support and encouragement.


If you are, or know someone who has just suffered a spinal cord injury, I encourage you to at least check out Project Walk and see if you might be a candidate for their program.

Please feel free to comment. I look forward to them.

Later,

Mike



Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Remember The Wassup Guys?

Can you believe it was 2000 to 2002 when the Wassup? commercial was on TV all the time? The years seem to fly by faster and faster for me. Well, the guys are back with a new commercial and this one isn't endorsed by the original sponsor. Watch for the disclaimer at the end of the video.

You need to know this video is heavily critical of the current administration and is a clear endorsement of the new President-elect. It was produced in October, during the campaign. It is still being viewed thousands of times a day and generating an interesting discussion in the Comments section.

I have said before, I like dark humor. This video definitely has some dark spots. This would be very funny if it wasn't so, as the characters say, "True."


Check it out and see if you agree with me:



After watching, and considering all of the changes we have each gone through both individually, and collectively in the last eight years, what changes do you see for yourself in the next eight years?

I'm curious to read your comments.

Later,

Mike

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Windspire

I am always fascinated at the rate of change we are seeing today. In doing some research for a post on change, I came across this video and website from Mariah Power in Reno, Nevada. Mariah Power is building a unique, new wind generator they call the Windspire.

You can read more about them by clicking here. I also encourage you to check out this video to see just what their new Windspire is all about:



It shifted my paradigm about the new wind power technology we are seeing today. We now know the huge wind farms beginning to dot the landscape are not the only way to generate power from the wind. The wind generators of today are drastically different than the windmills from our parents and grandparents farms of only a generation or two ago.

Change is happening in virtually every aspect of our lives these days. To think young people in school today will be working in careers in five to ten years that are not even invented yet truly amazes me!


What are some of the changes you are experiencing in your life? I look forward to reading about them.

Later,

Mike

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Problem Isn't The Issue ...

If you've ever heard me speak, you've heard me say, "The problem isn't the issue. The issue is how you deal with the problem." Well, I want to introduce you to a young man who is the living embodiment of that quote. His name is Nick Vujicic, and he is from Melbourne, Australia.

Nick is twenty-five and building a very successful speaking business. He travels the globe speaking to groups of all ages. One theme is his very strong Christian faith. From the looks of his schedule, he's really racking up the frequent flyer miles. You can check out more about him by going to one or both of his websites here:

Life Without Limbs

or

Attitude is Altitude


There's one more thing, he was born without arms or legs. A couple friends sent me a video of him recently, and when I went to play it today, it had been pulled off YouTube for some copyright infringement. No problem, I know how to Google! There are dozens of videos on Nick and I'd like to share this one with you. Enjoy, and be prepared to get inspired!



In this season of giving thanks, I hope Nick's story gives you pause to think about the reasons you have to be thankful.


Comments are always welcome.

Later,

Mike

Monday, November 17, 2008

Max Warburg Courage Curriculum

Max Warburg was another young Max who has left an amazing legecy for a child who died from leukemia at age eleven in 1991! The Max Warburg Courage Curriculum was developed by his parents, Stephanie and Jonathan Warburg, who worked with the Boston Public Schools, a team of doctoral students from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and educators from across the country. It is inspiring youngsters in sixth grade classrooms to be courageous in the face of the problems they face. You can learn more about them at their website by clicking here.

Also, learn how Max's courageous fight affected his classmates and everyone his short life touched in this 1992 video:



I also found this story very moving. It was written by his mother Stephanie and Charlotte Harris. You may read it by clicking here.

As always, feel free to comment.

Later,

Mike

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Everybody Has A Talent

You've heard people say everyone has a certain gift or talent, right? Well, how would you like to be Stevie Starr? He has a special talent like none I have ever seen. I found out how he came upon his gift and how he nurtured it on his website. You can learn more about him by clicking here. Here he is in all his splendor. He is truly amazing, a real "One-of-a-kind" individual! Plus, he has a great Scottish accent!

Check out this video of Stevie Starr:



What do you think?

What is your special talent? Have you ever done anything to develop your uniqueness? If not, why? If you have, how is it working for you? I'm not suggesting you have or need a uniqueness as different as Stevie Starr, but imagine, he found his special talent at age four!

In contrast, I found my ability and fondness for public speaking when I was in the ninth grade and my speech teacher TOLD me I was going to emcee the annual variety show. She said I would tell some silly jokes, everyone would laugh at me and I would not want to get off the stage! And, she was right! Now, forty years later, it's not just my career, it's also my therapy. I can't imagine getting a real job! I absolutely love what I do. Can you say the same about your chosen career? I hope so.

I welcome your comments.

Later,

Mike

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Imagine

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I'm a big fan of 60 Minutes. Tonight they ran an extraordinary piece on new, cutting-edge technology I would like to share. They showed how an individual can now sit in front of a computer, and think, and the computer can tell what the person is thinking!

The ramifications and possibilities, especially for people with disabilities are truly amazing! One of the reasons I'm so excited is the possibilities it creates for people with a spinal cord injury. I won't say anything else, just watch this piece:



Watch CBS Videos Online


As with all new discoveries, there are many levels of development until it gets to a workable project. Obviously, this idea is in the beginning stages of human experimentation. It will be exciting to watch as this technology develops.

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Friday, October 24, 2008

Max Farias Is Cool

Young people constantly amaze me. October first, I shared the story of young Dalton Sherman and how he is a gifted public speaker. Today, I want to share a story about another extraordinary young man who just handled a possible life-threatening situation like an old pro.

His name is Max Farias. He's fifteen years old and a sophomore at Sunnyslope High School
in Phoenix. He lives with his mother and father, Tammy Patrick and Jeff Farias, and their dog, Brutus. Oh, and he's my nephew. Here's a picture of Max and me in the Badlands of South Dakota two years ago. Yes, he was only thirteen years old!


Max was held hostage for about two hours Wednesday afternoon in the family's home by an armed gunman as helicopters circled above, police cordoned off all the surrounding streets and SWAT teams encircled the house!

During the entire ordeal, Jeff was doing his radio show in their studio in the back yard. To hear Jeff tell the story, I encourage you to listen to the first fourteen minutes of The Jeff Farias Show from yesterday, October 23rd's podcast. You can listen to the podcast by clicking here.

Am I a proud uncle right now? Absolutely! Is Max a hero? In my mind, absolutely! Could the situation have ended differently? Absolutely, and many of the scenarios could have been bad! The critical thinking skills he demonstrated are truly astonishing!

It's just another example of how many of our young people are being nurtured by loving parents who are teaching their children to do the right thing. Like I've said before and will say again, "Young people may not always tell you how important their relationship is to you as parents, but you are the most important role model in their young lives!

WAY TO GO, MAX!

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike



Friday, October 17, 2008

When "It" Happens

Julie Smith, Ph.D., has done it again. Her latest project, When "It" Happens To Your Health is a comprehensive program which consists of a process with five action steps people can use when "It" happens to their health. You can read the flyer on this project by clicking on these images to enlarge them:


Julie asked my mother and me to be a part of the project and interviewed us for the DVD which is an integral part of the support kit. I am happy to say Mom did a great job speaking as a mother who has shown how to be Change-Resilient when your son's world literally gets turned upside down.

The change-resilience support kit is based on this book and is an excellent tool to help both patients and families take control of their recovery after "It" happens to you, or someone you love.

It will be available soon and you can learn more about it by clcking here to go to LifePath's website.

If you contact the people at LifePath, please tell them, "Mike sent me." Thank you for doing so.

On a side note: after our interview, Julie incorporated a few of my statements in Jerry, the book's main character. That was kind of cool.

Any comments?

Later,

Mike


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Power Of The Internet

I'm always looking for more material to share with you and it constantly amazes me what we can find online! Besides doing my own research, people are often sending me links to sites I have used as the basis of a post.

A friend sent me this humorous video the other day, and I laughed out loud several times while viewing it three or four times. The thing that really struck me however was, the number of people who have viewed it and commented on it. With more than 67 million hits and almost 100 thousand comments, I believe it is the most watched video I have ever seen!

Imagine, 67 million times someone has watched this funny video!

Here you go:



Personally, I like dark humor. I think this is funny as well as amazing so many people have viewed it!

Any comments?

Later,

Mike

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

You Need To See This

Imagine you are standing on a small stage in the middle of an arena filled with over 20,000 teachers, staff and administrators, and you are the keynote speaker for the back-to-school convocation of the Dallas Independent School District. How do you feel? Oh, and there's one more thing, you are ten years old!

Your name is Dalton Sherman and this is what you said:



A friend sent me this video the other day and didn't suggest I post this, he said, "You have to post this."


He was right. This precocious young boy gave me shivers up my spine, and that's hard to do because I'm paralyzed! I certainly couldn't have done this at ten. I couldn't do this today!

He has a gift and I hope he is nurtured and taught well to enhance his gift so he reaches his fullest potential. In my opinion, he has a tremendous future as a professional speaker. I wish him well, and I plan to follow him as best I can. With YouTube, that should be fairly easy.

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Friday, September 26, 2008

ADA Amendments Passed!

It's official, the new amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act have passed the Congress and the President signed them into law yesterday.

Thursday, Andrew Imparato, President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities, stated, "Today President Bush has followed in his father's footsteps and taken a stand for equal opportunity and full participation for all Americans. I deeply appreciate the bipartisan leadership in the Congress that brought us to this point, and I thank President Bush for his leadership in signing this critical civil rights law that will make a real difference in the lives of millions of Americans with disabilities and chronic health conditions."


You can read the entire AAPD Press Release by clicking here.

It has reversed four Supreme Court decisions which were slowly eroding the rights for people with disabilities which were granted in the original law from July 26, 1990. This is a huge step forward for people with disabilities. I applaud the Congress and the President for getting this significant piece of legislation passed.

As always, feel free to comment.

Later,

Mike


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oscar Did It!

Just hours ago, Oscar Pistorius accomplished his goal of three Gold Medals in the 100, 200 and 400 meters in the Paralympics in Beijing, China. He won the 400 meters in World Record time for the T44 category, to lower his own record to 47.49 seconds. For you non track and field aficionados, that's fast! The Men's World Record for able-bodied runners is held by Michael Johnson of the USA of 43.18 set in 1999, while the Women's Record is held by Maria Koch of East Germany of 47.60 seconds set in 1985.

You can read all about Oscar Pistorius and his recent accomplishments by clicking here.


It is his 27th world record. I'd say that's a great accomplishment for someone who has no feet!


He still wants to compete with the able-bodied runners in the London Olympics in 2012. We'll just have to see how well he does.

Right now, I'm sure he's very pleased with his three Paralymic Gold Medals. At least he looks happy in this picture from the China Daily.com.cn.

Good for him!

Any comments?

Later,

Mike


Thursday, September 11, 2008

What Do You Remember?

I used to watch CNN every morning while my attendant got me dressed, into my chair and ready for the day. I'll never forget watching live as the second plane came crashing into the South Tower of the World Trade Center over Aaron Brown's shoulder.

Like most of you, and much of the country, I spent the rest of the day glued to the TV and watched with horror as the day unfolded and stories began to fill the airways. It was a day none of us will ever forget.

Can you believe it's already been seven years? It seems like it was just yesterday. I'm guessing that may never change for me.

I would like to know what your memories are of that fateful day. What did you think on 9/11? Please feel free to comment.

For my subscribers, click on the title of the blog link at the bottom of this email and you will be directed to my blog. Then go to the bottom of the post and click on Comments.

For other readers, simply click on Comments to leave yours.

If you do not want to subscribe to Blogger or are not already a member, just click on Anonymous and you can leave your comment. It's easy to do, just follow the directions.

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Paralympics Have Started

For you regular readers, you know I profiled Oscar Pistorius, the "Blade Runner," in my May 23rd post and his bid to compete in the Olympics held last month in Beijing. If you haven't read it, you can click here and read the post.

He didn't qualify for the Olympics for his South African team, but he has qualified for the Paralympics and has started out in tremendous fashion. He already owns the World Records for the 100, 200 and 400 meter dashes, and his goal is to win gold medals in all three. In the process he may even lower his own records.

He won his preliminary heat in the 100 today and seems on his way to achieving his goal. You can read an informative article from the China Daily by clicking here.


I plan to follow his quest. Who knows, I may put up another post to keep you informed of his progress.

Once again, feel free to comment.

Later,

Mike



Saturday, August 30, 2008

Football Is Here Again

Yes folks, the State Fair is winding down on Labor Day, NFL preseason games are about done, and once again many of us will be watching football games on one or more levels. Whether it's the little kids in the park and rec leagues, middle school and junior varsity during the week, high school on Friday nights, college on Saturdays, or the NFL on Sundays and Monday nights, it's time to crank it up again.

I love watching football on all levels; although
over the past several years, I have seen a decline in good sportsmanship and an increase in showboating, dancing in the end zones and just a general decline in decent behavior by players on all levels.

The younger children see their idols making all kinds of efforts to show off and put themselves above team. I think they forget they wouldn't have scored that touchdown or made that sack or interception without the assistance of their teammates. They are role models for the youth who are watching — whether or not they want that responsibility. I think it's very sad to see this trend.

Anyway, a friend sent me this video the other day, and, although it's not a football video, I think it's a great tribute as to why you shouldn't show off when you are an athlete. I believe you should let your actions on the field do your talking. Then after the game, win or lose, line up and shake the hands of your opponents. See if you agree with me about showing off after you watch this video:



What an idiot!

I don't condone fighting, and I despise this type of macho activity, but I think it makes my point about letting your actions do your talking for you.

As always, I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Friday, August 22, 2008

For You Boomers!

I came across this video the other day of Tom Rush. If you Boomers out there occasionally have one of those "senior moments," or as I learned recently, they are also known as "intellectual interruptions," I believe you will appreciate it. Enjoy!

For my younger readers, don't worry, life is short. Your time will come soon enough. :-)

He has several more videos on YouTube.
Check him out. We all need to laugh at ourselves every once in a while.



I have watched it a few times and laugh out loud each time.

Later,

Mike

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Riane Eisler's View

I heard an interview last week with the eminent social scientist, Riane Eisler, and was very impressed with her ideas and way of thinking. She was promoting her latest book, The Real Wealth of Nations and she struck a cord with me. I just spent an hour reading several of her articles learning about her philosophy of education and changes she feels are necessary in our ever-changing world. You can go to her website by clicking here.

As I have stated in previous posts, I like listening to other speakers. As I listened to Dr. Eisler, I realized I was listening to an
extraordinary woman. I read one article that goes into detail on what she calls the Six Keys To Partnership Education. You can read the whole article by clicking here.

Here are her six keys:

Tools
Values
Structures
Science
Integration
Inspiration

I encourage you to check
out this article, and others you can find on this page, just click here. I found all of her articles very informative.

In her sister website, The Partnership Education Institute, Dr. Eisler states,
"If we prepare today's children to meet the unprecedented challenges they face, if we help them begin to lay the foundations for a partnership world, then tomorrow's children will have the potential to create a new era of evolution."

I couldn't agree more. Change is one thing we must all address. How we handle it will be the key. Funny, that sounds like another familiar quote, "The problem isn't the issue, the issue if how we deal with the issue." I knew there was a reason why I liked what she was saying.

Later,

Mike



Monday, August 4, 2008

Three Things

I just learned of a wonderful resource for the Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury community. It is called Brain and Spinal Cord Injury.org. You can go to their site by clicking here. It is full of good information.


Their August first blog post has some great advise for someone who has just had a TBI or SCI. Their three points are:

Step 1: Educate Yourself

Step 2: Focus on the Present

Step 3: Prepare for the Future

To learn more about these steps, click here.

I'm curious to see what you think about their recommendations.

Later,

Mike

Monday, July 28, 2008

Randy Pausch Has Died

On July 25th, the Last Lecturer lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. Randy Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and his Last Lecture has been downloaded millions of times from his website, YouTube and countless blogs. It also led to a best-selling book by the same name.

Here is his last lecture:



It is 76 minutes long, but it is very good.

His legacy is impressive and can
inspire us all. I am always looking for new opportunities to learn, and I learned a great deal by watching The Last Lecture.

Randy Pausch was only 47.

Later,

Mike

Monday, July 14, 2008

SCI Facts and Figures

In reviewing some of my recent posts, it seems I am focusing on disability issues. I want to continue doing that and give you a great website to learn more about spinal cord injury facts and the incidence and prevalence of SCI in the United States. If you are a spinal cord injured person, have a family member or friend who has a SCI, or just want to learn more about the issue, you should check out this page and the rest of this website.

According to the
National Spinal Cord Injury Database's website:

The National Spinal Cord Injury Database has been in existence since 1973 and captures data from an estimated 13% of new SCI cases in the U.S. Since its inception, 26 federally funded Model SCI Care Systems have contributed data to the National SCI Database. As of October 2007 the database contained information on 25,415 persons who sustained traumatic spinal cord injuries.

You can get to the rest of this piece by clicking here.

One of the interesting trends I have seen these last several years is the changing terminology. One word in particular is changing — quadriplegia is being replaced by tetraplegia. They mean the same thing, and I am not quite sure why the change. Do you know? This article uses tetraplegia throughout.

In my mind, I will always be a quad. To me, a tertra is a tropical fish. Of course, that's coming from an old quad.

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Founding Father Had A Disability

One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had cerebral palsy. Stephen Hopkins was active in Rhode Island politics for more than forty years. He was elected governor nine times. Hopkins was more than just another signer: he was a key leader in the revolution. As he signed, here’s what he said: “Though my hands shake, my heart does not.”

Hopkins is the man wearing a hat standing in the back of the room. You can learn more about him by clicking here.

We all know Franklin Roosevelt was stricken with polio, and dealt with its effects for much of his adult life. What you may not know is just how many of our former Presidents had disabilities of all sorts. There are several.

Here is one of only a few known pictures of FDR in a wheelchair:


There was a feeling in the country if a leader were to have a disability of some sort he would not be fit to hold office because of his disability. Hopefully, we know better now. We have had many examples of leaders with disabilities since FDR's time. From former Alabama Governor George Wallace to
former Georgia Senator Max Cleland, to name just two, we know people can carry out the duties of their elected offices and make important decisions despite their disabilities.

I find it interesting one of our Founding Fathers had a disability, and it took over two hundred years to enact the Americans with Disabilities Act that granted certain rights and protections to an entire group of about fifty million people.

I will have a job as long as disability awareness is a topic we need to address.

As always, I welcome your thoughts.

Later,

Mike


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Promise of Embryonic Stem Cells

I can't tell you how many times I've watched the 60 Minutes piece I posted a few weeks ago. It has given me renewed hope they will find a cure for spinal cord injury and so many other diseases that will improve and even save lives! That doesn't even mention the idea they may be able to grow replacement tissue and organs for people who need them. It is fascinating!

In doing a little research on human embryonic stem cells, I came across this Position Statement on the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation website. Go to it by clicking here.

The highlight of the article for me is:

The Key Facts About Stem Cells

Stem cells are the building blocks of our bodies. They have the unique ability to turn into and regenerate the specialized cells that make up our tissues, bones and organs.
  • Adult type stem cells are found in the body tissues, including tissues in the bodies of adults and in discarded umbilical cords and placentas. Scientists have been conducting research with adult stem cells for over 50 years and have developed a number of medical therapies that use adult stem cells, such as bone marrow transplants to treat leukemia.
  • Embryonic stem cells are the new frontier in stem cell research. There are two basic sources of embryonic stem cells: leftover fertility clinic embryos that would otherwise be discarded and a process called Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT).
  • SCNT is a recent medical breakthrough that can use a patient's own cells and an unfertilized human egg to make embryonic stem cells that match the patient's genetic makeup. Embryonic stem cell research does not use or harm an embryo or fetus in a woman's uterus.
It truly is a fascinating read. Let me know what you think.

Later,

Mike

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Who Needs Oil?

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know I skip all over the place with my subject matter much like I do in my speeches. I do that intentionally because I want this blog to be all about education and diverse learning. It all goes back to my basic premise, "The problem isn't the issue. The issue is how you deal with the problem." That's why the subject of this post hit me. It's about gaining knowledge. It's all about the process, the journey, both yours and mine.

My last post about the American's With Disabilities Act was done because a friend sent me the article and it just fit. I am excited to see what will happen with the new changes.

I learned about the article for my inspiration to write this post while listening to the radio the other day. The Internet is really pretty cool that way. If you're not already aware, you can learn a lot by spending time on the 'net. (He said jokingly.)

According to a February 22, 2008 article in Technology Review, a startup company in South San Francisco, Solazyme, is converting various forms of algae into biofuels in a new, unique way. It truly is a fascinating read. You can access the article by clicking here.

Check out this video Solazyme has produced to explain what they are doing:



Imagine condensing a 150 million year process into three days! Talk about "CHANGE"!

Regarding change, I'd like to paraphrase our current President and say, "Bring it on!"

In doing a little research on the technology, a quick Google search pulled up 173,000 sites for "green fuel algae." There is obviously something going on here. It will be interesting to watch the technology develop.

Obviously, this is not the only part of the solution to solve our energy problem. But, it promises to be a good start. Other renewable energies like solar, wind and hydroelectric will definitely play their part.

Let me know what you think of the article and video.

Later,

Mike

Monday, June 16, 2008

ADA Improvements Coming

The New York Times is reporting a substantial update to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). ADA was signed into law July 26, 1990 as this photo shows. It has five titles and covers a wide range of issues. They are:

Title I prohibits employers, including cities and towns, from discriminating against qualified job applicants and workers who are or who become disabled. The law covers all aspects of employment including the application process and hiring, training, compensation, advancement, and any other employment term, condition, or privilege.

Title II prohibits state and local governments from discriminating against disabled persons in their programs and activities. Title II also sets forth the applicable structural accessibility requirements for public entities.

Title III prohibits private enterprises who provide public accommodations and services (e.g., hotels, restaurants, and transit systems) from denying goods, services and programs to people based on their disabilities. Title III also sets forth the applicable structural accessibility requirements for private entities.

Title IV makes available telecommunications devices and services for the hearing and speech impaired. These regulations spell out certain mandatory minimum standards telephone companies must maintain to be in compliance with the ADA.

Title V includes some miscellaneous provisions that relate to the construction and application of the ADA, including alternative dispute resolution.


To read the Time's article, click here. It is well worth your read.

Let me know what you think.

Later,

Mike

Monday, June 9, 2008

Howard Hughes Medical Institute

I am a big fan of 60 Minutes, and last night they ran a story on the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and what a good story it was. Here is the piece:



The reason it was so exciting for me to see was the fact they are funding research projects which are studying embryonic stem cells and how they may help find a cure for spinal cord injury. They have no restrictions on their research because they receive no federal funding. If you want to learn more about the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, you can visit their website by clicking here.

If you didn't see 60 Minutes last night, I encourage you to watch the video. I am curious to read any comments you might have.

Later,

Mike

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Mentoring Works

We all know mentoring works. What we are learning is just how huge the issue is! According to MENTOR's website:

MENTOR recognizes that, although nearly 17.6 million young Americans need or want mentoring, only 3 million are in formal, high-quality mentoring relationships. That means more than 14.6 million young people still need mentors. That unmet need constitutes what we call the "mentoring gap." 

MENTOR is a ten-year-old National Mentoring Project located in Alexandria, VA. Their goal is to expand the world of quality mentoring. You may learn more about them by clicking here.

If you're interested in helping to close that "mentoring gap," or just learning more about mentoring, I suggest you go to their site, and click on your state to find a mentoring program that fits your needs.

To see how effective mentoring programs can work, and what happens when funding dries up, click here.

If you are a mentor or mentee, good for you! If you're not, why? Personally, I'm involved in one formal mentoring program, and informally mentor several young, and not so young, people on a number of things from youth activities to coaching new speakers.

Please let me know what your experience is regarding the issue. As always, I welcome your comments.

Later,

Mike




Friday, May 23, 2008

Oscar Pistorius Can Run

The "Blade Runner" will be allowed to compete for the opportunity to run in the Olympics in Beijing, China in August. Why is that significant? Because the South African athlete had both of his legs amputated below the knees when he was only eleven months old! Here is a picture of his blades as he is getting into a set of starting blocks:


Initially, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned Pistorius because they claimed his carbon fiber blades gave him a mechanical advantage over the able-bodied athletes. Just a week ago, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAF) overturned that January ban and ruled Pistorius could compete in the Olympics. He will also be competing in the Paralympics in Beijing in September.

You can read a good Associated Press article about him by clicking here.

This is a HUGE ruling for people with disabilities throughout the world. It means someone with a disability can compete with able-bodied athletes on an even keel. He still needs to qualify. Right now, he is 1.01 seconds from the qualifying time to compete in the 400 meters. Even if he doesn't get down to the qualifying time of 45.55 seconds, the South African team may put him on the 4 by 400 relay team. This is a big step (pardon the pun) for equality for people with disabilities and will be fun to watch play out.

Even if he doesn't qualify for the Olympics this year, he is only twenty-one years old and plans to continue training for the 2012 Olympics in London.

It will be an interesting story to follow. If you would like to watch him run, and see a good video about Oscar Pistorius' story, check out this video:


Later,

Mike


Saturday, May 17, 2008

It's Prom Time

The annual rite of spring is upon us and it brings loads of fun. Yes, it's Prom Time! Unfortunately, prom night and subsequently, graduation night far too often end sadly with a traffic accident that affect thousands of teenagers, their families and countless friends. Many of these traffic accidents involve drinking and driving. Spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and very often death are the tragic results.

According to Gary Pace, PhD, the clinical director from the May Institute's school for children and adolescents with brain injury, "Statistics reveal that eight young people die every day in alcohol-related crashes. Many of these deaths occur in the spring and summer months following prom night and graduation parties. And many of these fatalities are caused by traumatic brain injuries that, in most cases, are preventable."

Pace states those numbers come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). His entire article may be read by clicking here.

Check out these related statistics and facts from the Centers for Disease Control.

As adults, we all know from personal experience how teens feel invincible. I remember as a 16-year-old telling my mother not to worry about me. "I'm not going to get hurt playing football." Or so, I thought.

Because of that sense of invincibility, many young people don't use their seatbelts. Studies show seatbelt use amongst teens goes down dramatically the later the hour.

If you're a teenager: buckle up, no matter the time of day, who's in the car or how far you're traveling. And please, please don't drink and drive, or get in a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking.

Parents: take the time today to have that talk. If you've already had it, have it again!

I hope both you teens and parents have a wonderful prom and graduation night experience. Make sure you get plenty of pictures. It will give you something to look back on in a decade, or two, or three and laugh about!

Have a wonderful and safe spring and summer.

Later,

Mike

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Classic Carson

Many of us grew up watching Johnny Carson hosting The Tonight Show. Sorry kids, Jay Leno hasn't always been the host! My cousin sent me this hilarious piece from 1969 when the show ran for ninety minutes.

His guests that night were incredibly funny people, namely Bob Hope, Dean Martin and he was interviewing George Gobel during this clip. Watch what Dean Martin is doing as George Gobel is talking to Johnny. Everybody seems to be aware of the joke except Gobel.

The reason I put this post up is to show just how far the paradigm has shifted with what we find funny and what used to pass as good, clean fun. Also, note both Martin and Gobel were smoking. We don't see that anymore.

See if you agree with me about how humor has changed.

Enjoy:


video

Change is a constant in our lives. It is happening faster and faster all the time. I think it is important every once in a while to slow down and see where we have been to better appreciate where we are now and contemplate where we are going. I believe humor is a good barometer to measure change. What do you think?

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Spinal Cord Injury — any questions?

That's me, number 26, on my back, in the end zone, September 3, 1971. It was the end of my first life and the beginning of my new life as a quadriplegic. The journey I was beginning has been extraordinary, with many ups and downs. It was a traumatic event that affected not only me, but all my family and friends. It also affected the community and many people in the area around Worthington.

Click on the image to enlarge:


Dr. Roger Hallin was a physiatrist who happened to be at the game that night. He was also my rehab doctor when I was in Worthington. One day my physical therapist had me on the mat in the PT gym doing range of motion when Dr. Hallin came in. He gave me the best advise I have ever received. He said, "I want you to learn everything about your body and your injury you possibly can because you will be in situations when people won't know how to handle you, and you will have to tell them what to do."

I have learned a great deal about SCI, it's effects, the hope for a cure, and much more. However, a friend just sent me a website with answers to many other questions I had not even thought about.

The Morton Cure Paralysis Fund has a wonderfully informative website you can peruse and learn from by clicking here.

The following paragraph comes directly from their site:

"Spinal cord injury is devastating, not only for the injured person but for families and friends as well. While much information is available on the Internet, most of the material is scattered and out of date. This article summarizes answers to some of the most frequently asked questions by people who are encountering spinal cord injury for the first time. Spinal cord injury disconnects the brain from the body. This leads not only to loss of sensation and motor control below the injury site but may be associated with abnormal activities of the spinal cord both above and below the injury site, resulting in spasticity, neuropathic pain, and autonomic dysreflexia. Many functions of our body that we take for granted, such as going to the bathroom, sexual function, blood pressure and heart rate, digestion, temperature control and sweating, and other autonomic functions may not only be lost but may be abnormally active. Finally, contrary to popular notions about spinal cord injury, recovery is the rule and not the exception in spinal cord injury. The recovery takes a long time and may be slowed down or blocked by the muscle atrophy and learned non-use. Finally, there is hope. Many therapies have been shown to regenerate and remyelinate the spinal cord. Some of these are now in clinical trials and many more should be in clinical trial soon."

If you are at all interested in learning more about spinal cord injury, I encourage to check out their site.

I look forward to your comments.

Later,

Mike

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Chicago Gun Violence

Last night the CBS Evening News showed this story on the rash of recent gun violence in Chicago:



It always makes me sick to learn of senseless deaths, especially those
of young people. The story told about one young victim who was only
ten years old!

According to the report, "Since September, 24 students have been
murdered, most of them shot. The dead amount to a classroom of kids. ... Last school year 34 students were killed. That's 58 deaths over what amounts to a 17-month period. And that makes an average of one child getting murdered every eight days."

Several years ago, I was in a high school about twenty miles out of Minneapolis, and asked a class of seniors what they wanted to be doing in five years. I got a number of responses like, "I'd like to be in grad school," "I want to be done with college and starting on my career," "I want to be married and starting a family," among others.

After seven or eight answers, the one black male student raised his hand and said, "I want to be alive."

I asked him, "Why would you say that?"

His response was, "Because the life expectancy for young, black males isn't very great."

I asked, "Why is that?"

He said, "Because we don't know how to solve problems. It's just easier to pull your gun and shoot the other guy. Back in my 'hood, I could be shot in a drive-by at any time. That's why I drive all the way out here through the open enrollment program."

Then I asked him, "If you decided to get out of your old school and drive out here, why don't you find a different group of people to hang with who don't hang out on the street to be targets for drive-bys?"

You should have seen the look on his face! That thought had never occurred to him. My thinking was he had made the decision to switch to a safer school, why not make the decision to make safer friends?

How do we change the paradigm of violence?

I'm interested in your comments on the subject.

Later,

Mike

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Get Your Boy Reading

In my April first post, I discussed the issue of boys and their lack of interest in reading. Within hours, I received a comment from Daniel, a young man who loves to read. If you haven't read it, you can jump to the post by clicking here. If your boy isn't like Daniel, and doesn't like to read, here are six ideas you might try to help turn those interests around.

I want to share 6 Clever Ways to Get Your Boy Reading. This piece is from that article. I believe it makes good sense. Click on the image to make it larger:



I have one more suggestion. That is, read. Set a good example for your children. My sister and brother-in-law are both avid readers, and their fifteen-year-old son also spends a great deal of time reading. Tammy and Jeff started to read to Max when he was very young and as he grew and learned to read, he continued his love of reading.

Today, Max is reading some of the classics and wants to discuss them with his grandmother. By the way, Mom usually has two or three books going at any given time! Her father, Grandpa Joe to me, had an eighth grade education and started reading at an early age. He farmed his whole life and read until he passed away at age 85! He had a well-used, tattered dictionary next to him at all times, and if he didn't know the definition of a word, he looked it up on the spot! Do you do that? I just look it up at dictionary.com.


Any comments?

Later,

Mike

Monday, April 7, 2008

Dropping Out Is An Epidemic

According to a study by the Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) Research Center, young people are dropping out of high school at a mind-numbing pace. It is especially high in our inner cities. Look at these numbers:

Click on the image to make it larger:


It comes from this article, published online April 1, 2008 by Education Week and written by The Associated Press. You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Former Secretary of State, and founding chair of America's Promise Alliance, Colin Powell states, "When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe."

There is a good video on the bottom right side of America's Promise Alliance's home page that gives you an idea of what the alliance is doing to try and stem the tide of students dropping out of high school. You can view it by clicking here.

As always, feel free to comment. I'm curious to read your thoughts on the subject.

Later,

Mike

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Boys Think Reading Isn’t Cool

Why do boys think reading isn’t cool? Why do boys lag behind girls in reading scores? What can be done to level the field? Those are all questions being asked today about the discrepancies between boys and girls and their attitudes towards reading.

More than one expert believes it’s because boys are wired differently than girls. Many believe it has to do with testosterone. Others believe it has to do with socialization. Some believe there is a bias towards girls. I’m guessing it is a combination of all of the above and then some.

Mike Knight writes an excellent piece in the September 2007 edition of Mpls St. Paul Magazine entitled The Truth About Boys and Reading. You can read it by clicking here.

He talks to a group of male authors, academics and librarians that discuss the issue and comes to the conclusion we need to rethink our whole approach to the way we teach. Imagine that!

"I would say there is a crisis," said Walter Dean Myers, a children's book author. "Too many parents have walked away from this idea ... that education is a family concept, is a community concept, is not simply something that schools do."

Another article, Boys' lack of interest in reading tackled by groups, written by Paul Nyhan in the October 24, 2007 seattlepi.com quotes Pamela LaBorde, children's librarian at the Seattle Public Library's Ballard branch, "A lot of times, when boys get to middle school they are feeling sort of disenfranchised from the educational experience.” You can read the entire article by clicking here.

The next seven paragraphs are directly from Paul Nyhan’s article:

“The problem isn't necessarily that boys don't read, it's that they are often practical readers,” LaBorde said, “reading magazines and even manuals.”

The reasons behind the reading gender gap are complex — everything from cultural changes to behavioral differences — but researchers know the brains of boys and girls develop at different rates.

They also may feel ignored. That's because the publishing industry tends to focus on girls, Myers said.

"The publishing industry doesn't think there is a market, so they just don't market them," said Hayden Bass, teen services librarian at Seattle Public's Library's downtown branch.

To engage male readers, books need to tackle their issues: what it means to be a man, walk away from a fight, play sports and even go to war, Myers said.

"I've never had a male editor," the New Jersey-based author said. "When you see the books that win the awards, you see books that are much more suitable for girls."

When Myers wrote Fallen Angels, a teen novel about Vietnam, it was a big hit with male readers.

Nyhan finishes his article with the following two paragraphs:

But like many student challenges, the first steps begin at home.

"Getting kids reading ready by talking to them, by having conversations with these boys and telling these young readers that they have to join our society, we don't have to join theirs," Myers said. "You have to interact with your children."

If you are a male, what do you like to read? If you are a female, what do you like to read? I’m curious, what are your thoughts on the subject?

Later,

Mike