Don’t Call it a Podcast

December 17th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

Continuing with audio, I decided to run or maybe just jog a bit with this concept of Reid My Mind Radio! The idea is to create a place where I can share various things I produce. My goal is simply to improve and have fun doing it. Getting something picked up and aired would be cool too! In fact… I recently produced a story for Gatewave Radio – a reading service for those who are print impaired. This includes people with vision loss and other disabilities. They broadcast on the internet and through special radios that receive a transmission available in specific locations 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Volunteers read over 100 periodicals and the station broadcasts to the NYC tri state area as well as the patient bedside of more than 60 hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, in assisted living facilities and to listeners in 28 states through more than 50 affiliated stations.  

Read My Mind Radio Presents…

 

 

Songs in the Key of life

December 5th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

It only makes sense that I share the Reid families experience at the 2014 Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life Concert in audio.

This concert meant a great deal to me not just as a lifelong Stevie fan, but as a Dad.

If you enjoy listening half as much as I enjoyed attending the concert and then re-living it with my girls, then you’re welcome!

And now, “Reid My mind Radio…”

 

Lessons From the Third Coast

November 21st, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

At the conclusion of the AIR 2014 New Voices meet up which directly preceded the opening event of the Third Coast Festival, I exited the conference room to set out on my first non-blindness related conference. When I exited the room I was immediately reminded of my inner hater voice who two months earlier tried to convince me I shouldn’t even try to attend a conference that isn’t blindness focused.

What I encountered seemed like total chaos from my perspective. The conference center hallway was jammed packed with over 500 excited, enthusiastic men and women anticipating the start of the radio producer’s conference. My self-confident and assured voice said I should maneuver my way through the congested hall without help. I visited the conference center a day earlier to learn the layout. I had a pretty good visual map of where the rooms were located and practiced trailing the wall to find specific landmarks. For example, I often choose to take the stairs when it’s an option and I knew I could easily find the stairs where the carpet ended and the ceramic floors began. However, with the start of the conference, exhibitor tables lined the walls making trailing impossible.

One of the things I knew I needed to work on during this conference was accepting help from others. It’s not something I tend to do with ease. I think it’s more than being macho; it’s what I’ve been taught all my life. Whether by our parents or society, we are taught that doing things alone is good. Self-starters, self-motivators achieving their goals alone.  Picking ourselves up by our own bootstraps is an admired American trait.

What I am only beginning to realize are the benefits of accepting assistance. In the case of navigating the crowded hallways of this conference  while I could have done it alone it would have probably concluded with a broken white cane, other attendees labeling me an angry blind guy, reduced interaction with others and in general probably an uncomfortable experience for those who come in contact with me and myself.

Accepting assistance gave me the chance to meet new people. It usually went something like this; after I literally tapped someone with my cane and they excused themselves I would say:

TR: “Pardon me; I’m looking for the [insert name] room.

Kind Woman: “Oh, that’s this way, would you like a hand”

TR: “No, but I will take an arm if you’re offering” (Actually I just thought of this one now and may put it to work in a future conference)

Kind Woman: [While chuckling] “Of course”

TR: “My name is Thomas by the way”

Kind Woman: Introduces herself and now we are having a conversation. Boom!

All of that because I accepted help.

You may notice that I specifically say Kind Woman. That’s not just because my cane only finds women, it’s also because guys don’t really ask if I need help. I’m not sure if it’s because women are just more helpful in general. I would love to think it’s because they are checking for the TR, but I don’t think that’s the case. Either way, I’m not complaining. My friend explained that it’s sort of a mutual benefit. I get to the place I need to go and the person who assists feels good about helping someone. I used to have a problem with this because it made me feel like a charity case. I don’t think people who interact with me feel I am a charity case. Even more importantly I know I’m not. The experience really ends up as an even transaction of sorts.

The other area that I worried about and in fact I know bothers many blind people is the buffet line. There’s really no choice but to get assistance. It would be rude and disgusting if I were to put my nose or hands in different trays in order to determine its contents. Someone is almost always willing to help.

During one lunch a fellow New Voice Scholarship winner assisted me with maneuvering through the buffet line. In fact, it was a man. When we got to the end of the line I realized he was not getting his own food at the same time. This made me feel awful because I knew he would need to go back out and return to the line after he helped me find a seat. I was also upset because I was looking forward to speaking with him during lunch.

The lesson here applies to so many things people with vision loss need to incorporate into our lives; fully own the process. While I may let someone guide me, it’s up to me to steer. Not steer in the context of driving a car, but rather as in setting the pace and path for a project or task. In the example of the buffet line from now on I will make    sure that the person assisting me will not have to endure the additional burden of getting back online. I want to make sure that anyone who assists me gets a return on the investment. That could be benefiting from a special accommodation like priority seating, the satisfaction of helping their fellow man or just the enjoyment of hanging out with me. Well that last one needs a little work!

Floating on AIR

November 20th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

On November 7, 2014 I attended my first Third Coast Festival as one of AIR’s 2014 New Voices. In order to explain how much this meant to me, we should go back a few years.

I had an interest in audio all my life. My early interest in producing audio began with music. In the late eighties my first “production” was an original outgoing message for my answering machine. I didn’t have any fancy computer equipped with Pro Tools or Garage Band; I had an answering machine with a mini cassette recorder and a small stereo component system that included a double cassette recorder. I had a tiny Casio mini keyboard and a very rich sounding wooden desk which served as my percussions.

First, I laid down the   beat by manually drumming on my desk and recording into my answering machine. Next while recording on the stereo I played back the beat and tapped out a little melody on the Casio keyboard. Then I added some vocals and repeated the process about 2 more times including additional vocals and even a sample from an existing cassette. I wish I still had this recording. The process was very time consuming, but I remember loving every minute. I felt as though I discovered something no one else knew about. Come to find out this was just a very crude way of multi-track recording.

This led me to think more about the real record production process and a desire to become a sound engineer. I looked into actually pursuing this, but I was dissuaded by both the exorbanent tuition and the fact that I was only a few credits short of graduating with a degree in Finance.

Fast forward more than 15 years and I find myself once again tinkering with audio. This time creating a personal project that captured my experience during my first Pennsylvania Council of the Blind convention. The piece was awful! I had no idea what I was doing, but more importantly it was a lot of fun; it felt like I was once again tinkering. Later, I began reading more about recording and audio editing and started producing segments for an existing program within PCB called PCB Reports. Eventually I started producing Talking Advocacy & Government while listening to more and more NPR shows and podcasts.

I became aware of audio production educational programs like Transom, the Salt Institute and the Center for Documentary Studies, but none of these fit into my schedule or lifestyle. I learned of the Third Coast Festival, but that too I thought wasn’t for me.

Looking back, I think I talked myself out of all of these programs. Some of them were truly out of reach due to cost and logistics, but the truth is, where there’s a will, there’s a way. That negative inner voice took over and unfortunately, I didn’t have a way to tune him out.

This year, tired of wondering how and what if, I decided to figure out a way to attend the conference and be a part of the festivities rather than sitting at home wondering what it was all about.

While reviewing the Third Coast Conference registration, I came across a link to the AIR New Voices Scholarship. Now I find it much easier to focus on my inner cheerleader who can drown out the negative talk coming from my inner hater who tried to convince me that I would never win a scholarship. He tried to get me to believe that I wouldn’t be able to get through a conference that wasn’t specifically for people who are blind. “You know what will happen, the presenter’s will refer to the screen and you won’t know what they are talking about,” he urged. “You won’t find the different conference rooms and I bet you all meals will be buffet style.” Ignoring all of his attempts to manipulate me, I began completing the scholarship application.

A few weeks later I received the congratulatory email notifying me that I was a recipient of the 2014 AIR New Voice Scholarship. So to that hater within, suck it!

Some may simply say this was a coincidence that I learned of the scholarship, but I think it was more of a gift. I’m ok with calling it luck based on;

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity” – Seneca.

Understanding that life will present me with more gifts, my goal is to do more right now to assure I am ready and able to receive them.

In Search of My Tribe

November 5th, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

Ever since my interest in audio was reignited and I began listening to different shows from This American Life, Snap Judgment to Radio Lab and The Truth, I’ve been looking for others who are not only interested in listening to these shows, but also audio production.

Every two years the Third Coast Festival holds a conference where audio producers, radio journalists and even audio listeners get together to participate in workshops, listening sessions and parties. Two years ago I thought about attending this conference, but was unable for various reasons. This year I decided I would give it a shot.

The Association for Independence in Radio or AIR offers scholarships to new interested and up and coming audio producers. This scholarship called New Voices not only helps with funding the conference, but it provides several other opportunities to meet others in the industry.

Well, yours truly is extremely honored to tell you that I am one of 26 New Voice Scholars who will be in Chicago this weekend. That’s right, I actually won. I am so honored to be in the company of some really good audio makers. Several of my fellow scholars work in radio producing for both radio stations and podcasts.

I’m not only excited for the chance to learn from the experts, but finally I think I may meet members of my tribe. The folks who like me are moved by audio; those who really feel the power of storytelling and like to create interesting things with audio. I can honestly say I haven’t been this excited to attend an event in quite some time. Check out this SoundCloud playlist of the AIR 2014 New Voice   Scholars.

This is Not A Drill

November 3rd, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

Just when I thought everything was going great, the blaring sound of a fire alarm screeches through my hotel room. Fortunately, it was late enough in the morning when I was dressed. Even more important, it was a false alarm. On the positive side, I now know how I would react during a fire; I’d get the hell outta there!

I’m even more certain now that nothing really beats experience. I can talk to others about how to manage various situations, but the best thing is to know and trust in my own ability and instinct. Arriving at a solution to for example, quickly navigate out of a burning building; well that’s probably instinct and remaining calm under pressure. If I am going to trust in my abilities then I think I need to practice   more often. Here’s to more experiences!

 

Ups and Downs

November 2nd, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

Three words used to describe life, relationships and especially my air travel experience.

Up:

All in all no complaints regarding my interactions both with airport staff and almost every individual that assisted me during this process. From my drivers to the airport “Meet & Greet” staff and the very friendly staff in the hotel. My lesson is to really focus on having conversations with the people. It’s not only an opportunity to interact, but as today reminded me it’s another opportunity to be an advocate for those with vision loss. Not only showing others what people with vision loss are capable of doing, but even teaching the ways to assist. Instructing airport staff how to perform sighted guide or showing the hotel clerk how to use tape to help a person with vision loss properly orient themselves to the hotel key card.

Downs:

When your pilot announces that the flight will be bumpy due to turbulence:

  • Believe him, he wouldn’t lie
  • Take it seriously
  • Grab the barf bag, just in case

My first leg of this trip was the worst plane ride in my life – a small commuter express flight in very high winds. My mother will be happy to know I haven’t forgotten how to say the rosary…in both English and Spanish!

Here’s hoping the flights home are just as good as my inter-personal experiences were today. Power to the people!

Better Be About It

November 1st, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

This year I have had several opportunities to travel both with my family and without. Another opportunity has recently presented itself and it occurred to me that I have yet to travel alone via air. That’s right; in the just about 11 years since I have been blind I have not traveled by plane alone.

Some may think this is not a big deal. However, as an advocate and someone who truly believes that people with vision loss can accomplish anything with the proper training and preparation, how can I promote this without having these experiences for myself?

Well, tomorrow will be my first flight alone. In fact, we’re not really talking about long flights, but I do have connections to make. As taught by my O&M instructor years ago, I have made all of the necessary preparations and I have all of the contact information at my fingertips. It’s a quick trip so I can get away with only one carry on; a back pack. As often the case, the inter-personal skills are so important in traveling for a person with vision loss. Asking for directions in a way that will produce usable results is a skill. When you’re someone like myself who is less accustomed to asking for directions, this can be a challenge. Probably even more of an issue for me is dealing with my less than friendly fellow travelers or those who think they can drag me or maneuver me as though I am an object. Picture someone placing their hands on a grown man’s shoulder and trying to turn him in the direction of the restroom. Now picture this grown man mentally running through a list of Jujitsu locks and throws, searching for just the right one for the occasion. Ok, so now you see where I need to focus my energy during my trip.

Alright, maybe that is a slight exaggeration. Maybe? We’ll find out

 

PCB Knows How To Party

October 21st, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

Ever since attending my first Pennsylvania Council of the Blind Convention & Conference, in some form or another, I have been involved with the planning and program creation. For the past few years I have been fortunate enough to serve as the Convention Coordinator.

One of the benefits of this position is I can assign myself a role. This year, once again, Marlett and I co-hosted a Saturday night Team Trivia. So I decided to not only make sure the crowd had fun, but I too decided to go in hard!

Marlett’s responsibility; finding the right mix of questions. She served as the hostess with the mostest; reading the questions and managing the trivia game process. I got to focus on in between round fun. This included the now famous, Rapid Fire Name That Tune. In this game I play a mix of 10 songs each lasting about 10 seconds. Contestants have to name the song title and artist before the song advances.

The real fun came when I had the chance to involve the entire crowd with random songs.

One thing I often think about is the mis-conceptions some have about not only people with vision loss but in general people with disabilities. I’m sure for some the idea of people who are blind having a good time laughing, dancing singing…seems out of the norm. Some may think that partying with this crowd would be a bore; you are so far from the truth. People like to have a good time. And my crew at PCB truly knows how to party. I’ve been around and have done my share of partying. I am very comfortable saying I would choose a PCB party any day. As long as they let me DJ!

PennyPushUps 2014 – The Shout Outs

October 1st, 2014  / Author: T.Reid

Thirty days of September have come and gone. World Childhood Cancer month concludes and I am happy to report another successful #PennyPushUps is in the history books. Well, maybe not the books, but definitely here on Reid My Mind.

If you’re interested in how much we raised go ahead and press play.

Just as important, we reached new people unfamiliar with Retinoblastoma. The potential of this is great. One of these individuals could see the first sign of eye cancer in a child’s photo and help save a life and or sight.

The rest of the shout outs are in the video! I’m going to go take a nap now!