November 22nd, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
I know Thanksgiving is about spending time appreciating all of the things you have in your life; health, family, a roof over your head and food to eat.
I do appreciate all of those things
I think some of my favorite holidays took place as a child. The smell of my father’s cooking; especially his famous stuffing was the perfect aroma to accompany what had to be one of the best days in television.
WWOR channel 9 featured a Thanksgiving monster marathon. Not those scary monsters, I’m talking about King Kong, Son of Kong, Godzilla and mighty Joe Young.
It seems fitting that today I pay special thanks to YouTube. It seems whenever I want to reminisce about my childhood all I have to do is visit the site.
For those who grew up in the NYC area in the 70′s and 80′s; I’m sure you will appreciate these links.
King Kong, Godzilla, plus classic commercials like Crazy Eddie, Martin Paint…
If you were in the Bronx you should remember…Play World!
Have a great Thanksgiving!
July 7th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
Today began the first leg of the Reid Road Trip which includes stops in:
- Cleveland, Ohio
- Louisville, Kentucky
- Johnstown, PA.
Of course all of the places you expect a brother from the Bronx, a sophisticated city sista and their two Diva’s in training to visit, right? Well why not? That’s a bit Bourgeois of you don’t you think?
Ok, well the trip is actually planned around the ACB Convention and Conference in Louisville and a required visit to Johnstown for PCB related business.
I had a very good experience a few years ago during an ACB Convention in Florida. This year I hope will be even better. Honestly, not so much because of the convention agenda, but rather this is our longest road trip with my wife captaining the ship.
Since the drive from the Poconos to Kentucky is over 11 hours, we decided to break up the drive both ways. The first destination is Cleveland, OH for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The captain required we leave around3 – 3:30 AM. You see the Captain has a terrible allergy to traffic. Some of the symptoms include twitching, sudden punches to the steering wheel and occasional foul language.
As the Captain is number 1, and number 1 makes it so, the rest of the Reid crew was up and getting ready at 2 AM. Yes you heard me, 2 AM. No we weren’t going fly fishing or Quail hunting – things I imagine requires waking up at such an ungodly hour.
I think the ride was very good. A slight bit of traffic due to an over turned truck in Ohio, but we made good time even with two rest stops.
The Hall of Fame was pretty cool. They even have old Hip Hop fliers promoting some of the early parties featuring legendary artists like Afrika Bambatta, Treacherous Three, the Cold Crush Brothers and others. Those with a connection to early Hip Hop may recall the graffiti style art production of these fliers. I still appreciate the art and style put into the early marketing. Yes, a bit of Hip Hop geekdom!
Tomorrow we should arrive in Kentucky in the mid afternoon. Captain says we’re sailing at 8 AM. The crew is already turned in so I should probably try doing the same. Captain likes staying on schedule!
June 19th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
There was a time in my life when I subscribed to the motto, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” The idea behind this of course, is an over exaggerated way of declaring an inexhaustible level of energy and tireless work ethic.
Working hard of course is honorable and is still a quality I pride. Unfortunately, sleep, the all-important necessity for good physical, mental and emotional health has been lacking in my life for years now.
Around 40% of adults in this country do not get the proper amount of sleep.
Doctors recommend – between 7 and 8 hours a night.
I was, and still am, one of the adults included in this statistic, albeit for different reasons now.
Sleep was something I could do whenever and wherever I had an appropriate opportunity. My daily routine consisted of me waking up in the morning quickly getting ready to head to the gym. I would walk to the bus only to snuggle into a window seat in order to make myself comfortable to catch another hour of sleep. More than often Mr. Sandman would visit before we made it to the second bus stop only a few blocks away.
Falling or staying asleep was never a problem for me. That was, until I became blind.
Have you ever experienced that moment when you find yourself turning over in the middle of the night searching for that more comfortable position enabling you to fall back into a soothing sleep? If you’re fortunate, you probably don’t really ever think about this, because you do return to a dream state.
The problem begins when you realize, you are finished sleeping and it’s only 2:30 or 3 AM. This is really upsetting when it becomes a nightly routine.
So called remedies like, Sleepy Time tea, warm milk, or hot baths were not helpful. I later learned of Melatonin. I found it necessary to cycle Melatonin with Tylenol PM on a weekly basis. These really help me stay asleep for a solid 5 hours. I was somewhat satisfied and learned to manage the ever present desire to nap.
Check out this video describing a similar experience to my own.
I recently decided to participate in the Non 24 hour Sleep Wake Study.
Last week I was informed that I qualified for the clinical trial of the drug to aid this sleep disorder.
I can’t tell you how much I hope this is going to be an effective solution to this problem.
My concentration level has been extremely low. A lacking appetite and what seems to be a decrease in taste. Add short term memory loss and you have the motivating factors moving me to participate.
Last night was my first time on the drug. There was an obvious improvement in my sleep, but whether that is due to the medicine or something else remains to be seen. The total quality of my sleep was not much different, but I was able to fall back to sleep when I awoke in the middle of the night. I spent less time awake during the night, but I was still groggy in the morning.
As I write this in the late afternoon, I’m feeling like I need a nap, but not as badly as say this same time a week ago.
I am looking forward to reporting positive results, but even more importantly I’m looking forward to a good night’s sleep!
April 17th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
I always had a love and appreciation for music. I never formerly learned how to play an instrument outside of the recorder. (Maybe one day I’ll record my very soulful interpretation of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star!)
I previously wrote about my use of audio as a way to capture memories ever since losing my sight.
Back in high school, I used to take multiple cassette players to create my own multi track recording. I knew nothing about 4 Track Recorders nor could I afford them at that time. I knew about sampling machines, but once again, no dinero!
In 2005 I began playing with an accessible sound editor called Gold Wave. This was a lot of fun, but made me long for access to a multi-track digital audio workstation (DAW). I think I was longing for that feeling of creating a finished product from an idea like when I was young.
I heard of some blind musicians using a program called Cakewalk and some customized scripts that provided access to the program.
I couldn’t really justify the cost of the program for something that was not even a hobby. Along comes the Reaper! No, not that guy dressed in a hooded black robe waiting to take me to the afterlife. I’m talking about Reaper – an affordable multi track digital audio workstation that thanks to a developer featured an accessibility component for screen reader users.
I’ve been playing with this program to do various productions including TAG (Talking Advocacy & Government), and even a fun song with my daughters. (Big thanks to my girls for giving me permission to post this song – OMG, what a fun time!)
One of the most difficult things about producing for me is finding the right voice for the job. As my experience tells me, it’s often best to use whatever you have at your disposal.
The inspiration for this latest project was literally at my fingertips.
So here it is, check out the Screen Reader Rap.
April 6th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
Gil Noble and his award winning program Like It Is, represents some true milestones in my life. With his recent death, due to complications from a stroke last summer, I can’t help but reflect on what his show meant to me. If my life were a movie, Like It Is would have to be included on a television screen in at least two or three scenes.
Like It Is, was the only television show in New York City that covered issues of the African diaspora fully from the perspective of those within the community. It was unapologetic during a time when it was more common to tone down and seek mass appeal.
If you were to ask me to describe a perfect Sunday while I was living in NYC it would include two NYC treasures; Hal Jackson’s Sunday Morning Classics on WBLS and Gil Noble’s Like It Is. I honestly considered not having these two influential programs in my life as a factor in moving. In fact, I was under the incorrect impression when I moved out to the Poconos that the cable company carried the NYC ABC affiliate which I thought would allow me access. Fortunately, I still enjoy the Sunday Classics via the online stream.
There’s no way for me to think about Like It Is or Gil noble without warm fond memories of my father.
My introduction to the show and an afro centric perspective was more like a rites of passage.
My father would watch “Brother Gil” religiously. As a youngster I wasn’t really interested in watching two or more people sitting around a table talking. However, around the age of 13 or 14 my father didn’t ask me to join him he very politely commanded. I was smart enough to obey.
This started a process that would repeat each week until I was ready to go off on my own. I could be in the kitchen getting my favorite “Jungle Juice” fruit punch and my Dad just seemed to appear announcing “Let’s go, Like It Is.” Into his room I would follow taking my place on the floor in front of the television. In the early days, I would hope for the episodes featuring people and things I knew, Dr. King, Malcolm X or the black Panthers. I loved the black and white clips of the 1950′s and 60′s. I would have a hard time staying awake for the round table discussions about Pan Africanism or political issues that I couldn’t understand.
My father would point out elders like Dr. Ben and john Hendrick Clark, making sure I was aware of their importance to our history.
The day came when I graduated from my passage training. My Dad no longer sought me out when he realized I was already in front of the television waiting for it to start. Then I was in my own room watching it alone. I never knew then how much I would miss the early days we shared watching the show together.
I was fortunate enough to meet Gil Noble during a small intimate presentation I attended at Baruch College around 1991. He spoke of his experiences in the media. It was easy to see that he enjoyed these opportunities to hear from the next generation and use the occasion to encourage. He was one of those speakers that seem less concerned with time or a busy schedule and more so with his audience.
I don’t know if my father ever met Mr. Noble. I wish I could have taken my Dad with me to that presentation, but he was already diagnosed and well into his experience with Parkinson’s disease.
As a father now, I know what it would have meant to him to attend the presentation with his son. It was obvious that he wanted to assure that I was equipped with information and a healthy perspective of what it means to be an African American man. In a way it would have been both a confirmation for him that I received what he was teaching and it would have been a thank you gift right back at him.
My Dad wanted for me the same thing Mr. Noble wanted for the community.
Dad knew the importance of instilling a true sense of pride. He knew there were other personalities and stories from our community that would benefit his child’s self-image.
Mr. Noble had the ability to bring the community the other side of stories that mainstream news organizations too often failed to present.
The archive of this show is truly a treasure chest containing over 40 years of information on all relevant issues impacting the African diaspora. From politics to culture Mr. Noble has interviewed them all.
In this age where information is so readily accessible, I would hope that something is done to not only preserve the Like It Is legacy, but make it available to all via the internet.
Thank you to my Dad and Gil Noble for introducing me to the true history of African Americans, Africans throughout the diaspora and subsequently myself.
Now all I can do is my best to pay it forward.
April 5th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
That simple statement can be spoken in a variety of situations. I know when I was a new father, I was told horror stories by some Dad’s I knew that began with a similar declaration.
Recently I had the pleasure of hearing these from my oldest.
When I first found out I was going to be a Dad, I knew that I wanted to be the type of father that my child could talk to regardless of the subject matter.
Then I found out I was having a girl.
“Would I be able to handle delicate topics” I thought.
In fact, I don’t think I even knew what counted as such a topic. You could say I really didn’t do delicate.
Several mistakes were made along the way. I’m not sure what advice I could impart to a new father, but I sure have a list of things not to do.
Case in point…
There’s going to come a time when your child may ask you if Santa Claus is real.
Do not, I repeat do not follow their inquisitive question with something like…
“Do you want the truth?”
Ok you Monday morning quarterback, of course it’s easy to see the error of my ways now!
Who knew what I was thinking? Maybe it’s a naive optimistic belief that truth is appreciated. This has been a problem all my life. Don’t get me started on questions like, “How do I look in this outfit?” Yes, I fell for that one too!
Even today, in theory, my response to this natural question heard by parents all over seems logical. Except it implies that you will or have lied already
The bigger problem is most children want to know the truth, so they will instinctively request that option. Chances are though, that if they did not figure out anything for themselves at this point, they’re probably not ready. And yes, that is what happened to me. I fell for the okey doke!
Should I have run for cover, bob and weave my way around it or maybe just keep up the story?
Even to this very day my daughter will pull out this memory and blame me for some post Santa trauma.
In comparison to questions about anatomy, puberty and relationships, well Ol’ Saint Nick seems much easier to handle. The truth is you never know and when dealing with females, you better be prepared for anything.
Now I’m probably not the one who should dispense advice, but if there’s anything I can share with a young Dad, do not shy away from this stuff. You are building a relationship and you are becoming a valuable resource to your child. This is good, but yes very scary. If you’re lucky, you will one day experience a conversation similar to the one I shared with my daughter.
As I sat on my couch, listening to an audio book or maybe podcast, my daughter entered my office and made the declaration, “Daddy, I need to talk to you!”
While removing my headphones, I ran through a personal reminder checklist:
- Give her your full attention
- Keep a poker face
- Listen for names and store or edit the record in the mental database (I strongly recommend this to fathers of girls!)
- Don’t say anything too stupid
- I repeat, don’t say anything too stupid
After the story I shared earlier you should understand the repetition of the final point.
Now, the details of the conversation are not important. (The final bullet points above also apply to this blog and any other social media.)
What is important is that she chose to talk to me. She valued my input and trusted me with her emotions enough to share.
I don’t think I could have reached what I consider to be a monumental achievement by avoiding or running away from the difficult conversations.
Chances are that this was probably a bigger deal to me than it was to my daughter, but isn’t that the way it should be?
This is definitely a memory I will file under D, for Daddy Daughter Days.
March 30th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
That would’ve been 1985
I was 17 a high school senior. I was thinking about college, girls, friends and my future. Like most 17 year olds it probably wasn’t in that order!
Back then we wore AJ’s, Lee’s, Adidas, Nike and yes hoodies – hooded sweatshirts. In fact, there still a major part of my work from home wardrobe. Go to any college campus and you will find all types of students dressed in hoodies; some with baggy jeans others with shorts and sandals. You can even find them in offices and cubicles in Silicon Valley, i.e. Mark Zuckerberg founder of Facebook.
I stress this idea that the hooded sweatshirt is a universal garment because people in the media are using Travon Martin’s wardrobe as a way to categorize him and judge his character.
As you probably know, Travon Martin is the young teenager who was murdered by George Zimmerman, a 28 year old wanna-be cop. As of this writing, Zimmerman has not been arrested for this crime.
Not many facts about the case are truly known. We do know that Zimmerman is reported to have called the police close to 50 times in a year. Each time reporting observing “suspicious characters.” We know he was told to stop following this so called suspicious character who turned out to be Travon. We know a young man is dead.
A real unfortunate fact that so many don’t like to discuss is that this is not new to America. African American males assumed criminals and murdered whether by gun, beating or rope. It’s a fact that those who don’t want to deal with accuse those who remind them, of “making it racial.”
Since 5th grade I learned I was no longer an innocent boy in the hearts and minds of many in this country. When clowning around with a friend in school, I alone was removed from the class. I remember my teachers face turning evil as she yelled at me in the hall and accused me of looking at her with “that face.” She towered over me, but yet said she was scared of what my face was telling her.
I learned that this would be something I would have to deal with all my life. My “look”.
Fortunately, my father explained to me that I would never be looked at the same. Now I was getting a little size, my voice was getting deeper and people’s perception of me would move me from the innocent to the suspect category.
Throughout my life, I have experienced situations that could have ended much worse than they actually did. Whether driving while black, walking while black, riding the train while black and the first incident, looking while black.
This isn’t new!
It’s hard to read and watch how this story is being played out in the media. It all starts with the criminalization of Travon’s name and image. Again, none of this is new. Next, panelists are brought out to analyze the story and bring up issues that are unrelated to the case. Yes, there’s black on black crime, yes there’s the glorification of gangster life, but none of that has to do with this case.
Emmett Till knows.
Yusef Hawkins knows.
Amadou Diallo Knows.
And so do many others who are nameless.
This case is so heavy on my mind and I’m not exactly sure why.
I’d like to hope it’s because I am human and the senseless loss of life affects me.
I wonder if it’s because I am a Dad and I can feel for Travon’s parents.
Maybe it’s because I can remember being Travon and the wonderful memories of that time in my life. So much hope and potential, but another young brother won’t have that same opportunity all because he was assumed guilty.
March 16th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
Last weekend, my family had the chance to accompany my oldest daughter to MIT in Boston, MA.
She was participating in the MIT Sparks program.
I figured I’ll take the recorder along and document the experience. Listen to our trip from my perspective in a bit over 9 minutes.
February 29th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the ACB President’s Meeting and Legislative Seminar.
The President’s meeting is a chance for leaders of state affiliates of the American Council of the Blind to participate in presentations and share information all geared to aid the growth of the state organizations.
The Legislative Seminar focuses on the main goal of the organization, advocacy. The weekend consists of presentations designed to assure all attendees are prepared to speak to Federal Legislators on pre-determined imperatives.
For more information on the advocacy side, please read my daily coverage from DC posted on MCCB online.org.
Now you know it’s just natural that I would want to focus on the impact technology has made on the seminar experience.
While this was not my first time participating in the seminar, there have been a few technology changes since my first visit to DC in 2007. Although some of the technology was available in various forms, it was not as prevalent among people with vision loss due to the lack of accessible options.
Although Twitter began in 2006 and became more popular in 2007, the lack of a truly usable interface limited its popularity and usage in the blind community.
It was great to see that access via ios devices and screen reader friendly programs has made its usage close to on par with those who are sighted.
Attendees and remote participants alike could collaborate on all things related to the seminar via the hash tag # NLS12.
I have to send a shout out to ACB National for their posting of notes during the seminar. They provided great information which enabled me to rely on their notes and comments for my own purposes.
ACB Radio has provided live coverage of the seminar in past years. A more recent development is the ability to access the audio stream while on the go. Again, smart phones, especially the IPhone, have improved this access for those of us with vision loss.
I’m almost ashamed to say that I did not take advantage of some additional tech that could have assisted my time on the Hill. Several people on my Twitter timeline talked about various Congress related apps that provide lots of information including quick access to email addresses and even Twitter handles to publicly thank the representatives for their time.
I thought of using a DC Metro map application to help with navigating our way from the hotel to the Capital. Unfortunately this thought came to me after we were on the train! Man, I must be slipping.
My focus was on providing those in my PCB family with varying forms of media to give them an opportunity to experience the seminar remotely. I attempted to shoot a video and load to YouTube, but unfortunately the audio was too poor. Video, you ask? Yes, indeed, remember not everyone in the organization is totally blind. In fact chances are that the majority have some usable vision. I know this is true in my local chapter. And why not, if we produce the video right, it is the most universally accessible and appealing.
I did get a chance to record spontaneous audio captured on the way home following our visit to the hill.
All in all, it was a great trip and I hope most of all that our efforts prove to be successful – we see the passing of HR 860 and HR 4087.
February 6th, 2012 / Author: T.Reid
A white pupil reflecting in a child's photo is a sign of eye cancer.
February 15 is World Child Cancer Day.
I remember the first time realizing I was a child who survived cancer.
Since my early teens I have been accustomed to completing the section of the medical forms that ask for information on prior surgeries and existing conditions. As usual I described my history, indicating I had retinoblastoma (RB) – a cancer of the eye that affects children usually before the age of 4.
During a physical as an adult, a nurse commented that I survived cancer.
I remember she had to repeat it because I looked sort of stunned. “You obviously survived cancer!” she said implying I should be proud of this fact.
“Uh, yes I did.” I responded.
Although I knew Retinoblastoma was a cancer…, I never focused on the fact that I had what could have been for me a deadly disease. I didn’t consider myself a survivor; I was just a kid who had RB as a child.
I’m sure my parents feared for the worst, but even in 1968 my odds of survival were greater than those outside of the US; I was fortunate. Not necessarily lucky to be born with mutations on my RB1 gene, but rather for the early intervention, proper diagnosis and privilege of living in the city where one of the premier RB specialist practiced.
While there are children in the US and other “first World” countries who do not survive this disease, children in developing countries throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia have a significantly greater chance of being overtaken by the illness.
Like most cancers, early detection and proper diagnosis is crucial to saving vision and lives.
From the Daisy’s Eye Cancer Fund (DECF):
The most common early sign of retinoblastoma is a white glow in the affected eye (leukocoria), seen in flash photographs. When the cancer fills the eye, this reflection may be visible to the naked eye in dim light.
Stay tuned for more information about DECF and some interesting things this organization is doing around the world.
In the meantime, check out the website and while you’re there please, read Rati’s
Information saves lives, share this!