Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category
Saturday, July 7th, 2012
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!
Friday, January 27th, 2012
Today, January 27 is a day of celebration!
Eight years ago today, I had surgery to remove a tumor behind my right eye knowing the chances were extremely high that the eye would need to be removed and I would be left totally blind , changing my life forever
And yes, I am celebrating!
At the time of the surgery, there was so much in my life worth celebrating. Well the simple truth is those things are still here with me eight years later.
Family, friends, health and opportunity.
Really, it’s more the opportunity and lessons that come with loss and not the loss itself.
I have the opportunity to;
- Work with really smart people
- Make a difference in the lives of folks I was never on a path to even meet
- Develop skills I really didn’t know I even possessed
- Develop my “Can Do” muscle
If that’s not enough, I truly feel more good things are on the horizon. More ways to be involved and make a contribution to things bigger than myself.
If all that’s not worth celebrating, well then just join me in celebrating Friday!!
Wow, as I write this playing in the background on the Pandora Classic Soul station is “Be Thankful” by William DeVaughn.
Can that be more appropriate?
“Though you may not drive a great big Cadillac
TV antennas in the back
You may not have a car at all
But remember brothers and sisters
You can still stand tall
Just be thankful for what you’ve got…”
Monday, October 31st, 2011
Today is Halloween. Not really a favorite of mine, but I do enjoy candy!
While many enjoy dressing up and acting out a role, I started thinking about the various roles I would love to really act out. Not just dressing up like that person or role, but actually living out the fantasy
Here’s my top 7, at least those I can share!
7. Background Singer in a Salsa or Merengue Band!
I know this may seem as though I should aim higher, but seriously, if you ever watched a good Salsa Band, the background brothers are so freakin’ cool! The got the moves, microphone technique and usually the best part of the song, the hook.
6. Guitar soloist
I’m not a heavy metal dude, but I love a good rock/funk guitar solo. The one that stands out in my mind is The Isley Brother’s “Who’s that lady?” Oh my, I truly rip that solo with my custom made Fender air guitar! I like to start off in the back, just playing that guitar riff and then as my solo approaches, I make my way to the front of the stage and that’s it, the crowd goes nuts.
5. Third basemen New York Yankees
Growing up watching Greg Nettles while I too played third base, I wanted to rob a hitter of a double down the third base line.
picture it, I’m crouching in my ready position when a shot explodes off the bat and bullets down the third base line. I dive and in one graceful motion I catch the ball and from my knees I gun it to the first basemen throwing the runner out. my knees Son, my knees! Now That’s an arm!
4. Kung Fu Artist
My home town was destroyed by the ruling class, set on taking revenge and rebuilding my community, I study with the Shaolin Monks. I master all aspects of the training including the various animal fighting styles, iron fist and the philosophical lessons minus the one about revenge not being a good thing. I travel back to my town where I meet up with my old crew. We plan our attack and take our community back. I kick major bootie in the process!
3. Announcer introducing Stevie Wonder in Concert at MSG
I could say, I’d like a chance to be Stevie and rock the crowd at Madison Square garden. I’m not worthy!
Ever since attending my first Stevie concert in Radio City Music Hall while in high school, I thought it would be a highlight of my life if I could be the person to come out on stage and get the crowd hyped up. Not by performing, but rather by talking about Stevie. I always looked at that role as both getting the audience hype and the artist as well.
The house lights dim, and I make my way out on stage. “New York City, how you feel?” “Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx are you with me?” The crowd starts going berserk. I talk a bit about a few of my favorite Stevie songs…
The music starts,…”Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, here he is STEVIEEEEEEEE WONDERRRRRRRRR!!!
2. Drummer or Percussionist
I’ve been a huge fan of the drums ever since I was a little boy and I broke my kick drum. A little too much kick. My parents never replaced it; I truly think I would be playing in a band if they did. I grew up watching my cousin play Congas. In elementary school any opportunity to play percussion in a school performance was mine all mine. Little drummer boy, I killed that! High school beats on the lunch room table, I’m a freakin’ legend. Listen to anything by the JB’s, Ohio Players, Parliament… that should’ve been me. Latin, African rhythms that’s me. The drum rules!
- Lead Singer, Funk or R&B Band
Okay, who hasn’t taken a hair brush, comb, or some object substituting for a microphone and perform your favorite song for thousands of imaginary people.
In my scenario, I’m called on stage and given the opportunity
To jam with The Roots. I tell them I want to do “Higher ground” by Stevie Wonder.
The guitar starts it off. At first I seem a little reserved, but by the time the chorus kicks in I’m running around the stage like a wild man totally rocking out. I climb on top of the speakers, jump down into a half split, (I guess it’s a fantasy so I should say full split huh? That’s just crazy talk! The crowd goes insane and we get double encores. We go down in history for one of the best performances of all time.)
Now that’s a Happy Halloween!
Monday, January 25th, 2010
Haiti’s been on my mind for the past few weeks like many of my fellow humans around the world.
I say my fellow humans because apparently there are some lacking the basic ability to identify with other human beings experiencing a tragedy.
Last week I made the mistake of letting myself get drawn into a series of comments on a Face book “Friends” status update. I quoted Friend because honestly I haven’t had any real connection with this person for over 25 years. In my book that’s not really a friend.
I understand many of us have grown up differently and subscribe to a variety of political, philosophical and spiritual views. In fact, I usually do try to avoid reading status updates that sound remotely political because I’d rather appreciate those in my circle for how I know them. And honestly sometimes learning about their views on politics or racial matters for example can make that a more difficult task.
This particular status update however caught my attention and unfortunately drew me into reading the comments. The subject was the recent telethon featuring a variety of musical performances to help raise funds for Haiti relief. It was pretty obvious that the person wasn’t a fan of the idea and would prefer focusing on those in need in the “Good ‘ol USA.”
Before launching the link to read the additional comments I questioned whether I should. I did. What I read disturbed me, not because of who said it, but rather the fact that someone could actually feel this way. This person and I were educated in the same school during the first portion of our lives. Both of us were young students who learned the basic lessons of Christianity. I thought we were taught to show love and compassion for our fellow man. Apparently fellow man is defined by borders. Lucky me, I must have been absent when we covered that particular point.
It was the comment and my “friends” affirmation that really got under my skin. The commenter directly equated the Haitians in need of support to illegals and drug addicts. Saying “A concert for the working people, not the illegals or the lowlife crack heads, or the ones scamming the welfare system!!”
Not sure which category applies to all of those children orphaned all of those who are now homeless or those who lost limbs or lost their lives because of the earthquake.
I considered responding to the comment directly, but recalled something I decided a long time ago. I will never argue with folks who don’t have the capacity to stay on the topic and intelligently articulate their position. If this person believes USA dollars should stay in the U.S, I’m okay with you taking that position, but illegal’s and crack heads, c’mon, that’s just down right stupid. These are mothers, fathers, elders and babies just like ours in the USA.
As I get older I really do believe that the most important things we learn come from the first few years of our lives. In this case, if you don’t have something positive to say, then you just shouldn’t say anything at all.
Saturday, October 24th, 2009
There’s probably no better day to begin blogging again. The rain is coming down as though it’s day 20 out of 40, as in Noah’s Ark.
I’ve had so much on my mind for the past few months, I figured I’d share a bit here.
This summer I had an opportunity to attend the state convention of the American Council of the Blind in Orlando. I have been a member of this organization since I along with 7 others began the local chapter in Monroe County, PA in 2006. I thought the experience would have an impact on me at least as much as my first state convention of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind.
There are several reasons it didn’t. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it or would plan on attending future conventions.
I think I built up my expectations a bit too much. I imagined much more in the way of vendors, and enlightening seminars and workshops. Keeping my ear to the current developments in the blind community when it comes to technology, advocacy issues and general interests it was difficult to find something new and exciting during workshops.
I imagined the convention would give me a great opportunity to meet new people who are interested in many of the same things as I am as well as a chance to share our experiences. I still believe this to be true although I didn’t meet as many new people as I would have liked.
One of the great things about attending any convention is not standing out as I travel with my cane. The hotel and conference area was pretty large with some open areas that can make it a bit more difficult to navigate. It really only took one practice walk to feel comfortable traveling on my own without assistance from volunteers or family. Not having the opportunity to do this on a daily basis really makes me miss this when I return home. There’s nothing better than traveling independently without people assuming I need there help simply because I am using a white cane.
PCB State Convention:
I recently had the opportunity to take some of the lessons I have learned during conventions and share with volunteers and staff at the Chateau Hotel and Resort, where the Monroe Chapter of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind will host the 74th PCB State Convention on November 6-8.
Along with general information such as how to perform sighted guide and dispelling some of the many mis-conceptions associated with blindness, I had a chance to address and hopefully dissuade others from committing one of my greatest pet peeves.
Many times while walking alone to my hotel room or through the hallway, I can hear an attendant moving out of the way. Noticing them, I greet them accordingly, "Good morning" for example, but I am greeted with silence. I realize sometime I have my Barry White persona so maybe I spoke to low, so I repeat myself, doing my best impression of a politician greeting potential voters, "Good Morning!" Nothing! What the umph is up with that? I hate this, people don’t do this! I can hear some of you now, maybe it’s a language barrier? Well, I kicked it in Spanish, "Buenos Dias!" Nada. I then tried French, "Bonjour" Nope! So I reverted to the universal language and flipped them the bird! Well, at least I did in my mind.
Ironically, walking into the hotel that very day I passed someone standing near the entrance and unintentionally tapped them with my cane. At first I was unsure if it was a person or some structure. When I realized it was a person, (he cleared his throat), I said "Oh, hello, pardon me!" Nothing, nada nil! I guess it would be wrong if I took my cane and…
Did I mention I can’t stand when people do this! (Breathe, T, breathe!)
This year’s convention has been pretty involved. Among several other duties, I am working on a Low Vision Expo that is being held as part of the PCB Convention but open to the general public. I have been leading the effort to promote the expo.
Based on our experience promoting MCCB events in the past, I knew there would be some definite challenges. Individual’s experiencing low vision, are often very reluctant to admit they are losing their sight. Many of which are seniors who either believe it is just part of their aging or believe whatever their current mechanism for coping is sufficient.
And whatever you do, don’t mention BLIND! That word alone probably keeps Depends in business. (Was that mean?)
We have had radio and television opportunities where I instructed everyone involved to purposely limit the use of the word blind in fear of scaring away those who are most in need of the information being presented at the expo. In fact, I have limited my own contact promoting this event because as a total, I too scare the stuff out of many of these individual’s with low vision. this is not just my opinion, the American Foundation for the Blind has surveyed and found that the most feared among the public in terms of health issues is blindness. Yes, we beat cancer and HIV/AIDS. Hey so this year, I should trick or treat as a blind guy! (Was that mean too?)
The expo is attempting to appeal to two very different philosophies. The medical centric and the advocacy centric.
The medical centric believes, the cure is the cure! Prevent and or cure blindness and we no longer have a problem. The advocacy centric is saying the problem is not based in the loss of a sense or function, but rather it’s the way society thinks about disability. The result of which plays a major role in the 60 – 70 percent unemployment rate, inaccessibility and of course, hotel room attendants and others contracting their own temporary disability, the inability to speak when spoken to.
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
I planned to write more about my experience with the iPhone using VoiceOver, but a few problems developed.
I purchased the phone a week prior to leaving to Florida for the ACB National convention, my first. I think further discussion on that is worthy of a separate post. That in itself is not a problem, it just left me with very little time to prepare.
Secondly, I had to send my laptop to be repaired. My line out/headphone jack came loose and would no longer isolate sound to the headphones. This is a big problem for me when I use my laptop in public or when recording.
Now that the laptop headphone jack has been fixed, I’m working on a audio segment for PCB Reports – The Pennsylvania Council of the Blind’s audio magazine – available from their website. Check out the latest edition for information on the upcoming state convention to be held in the Poconos. Yours truly is speaking about our upcoming Live Auction.
Rather than discussing the impact the iPhone can potentially have on Access Technology, I want to share a hidden feature of sorts.
Sending text messages can really be useful. Sometimes you don’t want to stop what you’re doing to make a phone call, maybe because of time or maybe you just don’t want to talk to the person. It’s ok, I know we all think that way, I am just brave enough to say it. Of course this doesn’t apply when I am sending YOU a text message. And YOU know who you are!!!
My 5 year old daughter has mastered the art of texting. While some people may think this is negative, I would argue the contrary. She is practicing her spelling and reading skills. Since she is new to both she continues to practice proper grammar and punctuation, rather than all of the texting abbreviations.
Almost daily, she will get a hold of her mother’s phone and begin texting me. Here’s a sample conversation:
Daughter: Daddy you are koo koo.
Me: you are
Daughter: No, you are.
Me: ok, i am but you are too
Daughter:no you are
This continues periodically throughout the night.
Just another benefit of the iPhone. Gotta love it!
Sunday, June 21st, 2009
I think I got a message from my father this morning.
My Dad passed away in 96. My last dream right before I woke up this morning was so cool.
I ran into my parents bedroom to say bye to my Dad before I went out of the house with my mother and sister. I jumped on the bed as my Dad was sleeping and gave him a kiss on his cheek. I could feel his soft skin covered by a scruffy 5 o’clock shadow.
He smiled and said, “I’ll see you later.”
One day, I will! Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and all of you out there.
Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Apple’s announcement that VoiceOver, there built in screen reader, is included in the latest version of the iPhone has the blind community buzzing.
Accessibility built in, I love it! I’m hoping to get my hands on one to test, especially since my current AT&T contract is expiring in August. More to come on that soon.
The news got me thinking about what this development can possibly mean for accessing printed materials and more.
You may recall, Amazon caved in to pressure from the Author’s Guild following their protest that the Text to Speech function included in the Kindle violated audio book copyright. Right now publisher’s have the final decision whether a print impaired person will have access to their book. Random House having the not so honorable distinction of being the first publishing house to basically say, F you blind people – that’s “forget you” of course!.
However, Amazon does offer the Kindle iPhone app. Based on the promotional text, a Kindle isn’t required.
The code turning on/off the TTS is specific to the Kindle. As long as Apple doesn’t cave in to publisher’s a person who is blind owning an iPhone could potentially have access to books as soon as they are released.
In addition to the Amazon Kindle app, other eBook apps are available.
With so many developer’s coding for the iPhone, I thought I’d start planting the seed for a few other apps.
With the built in camera included in the phone it will be nice to see a developer offer an OCR application allowing a user to snap a picture of a printed document and translate the graphic into text to be read using VoiceOver.
Turn by turn pedestrian based GPS – self explanatory. While there is an application on the market available for Windows Mobil based phones, it’s pretty expensive.
A Bar code reader to translate product information including things like price quantity and other information currently not available to an individual without sighted assistance or a separate device.
With that said, here’s my pitch for the next Apple commercial;
A man or woman, with a white cane, holding an iPhone up to an item in a supermarket
A family sitting in a restaurant with Dad listening to VoiceOver reading the menu after he takes a quick snapshot
A young woman in business attire using a white cane and receiving GPS instructions as she navigates her way to a business meeting
Following the three scenarios we hear the narrator say;
“Accessibility, there’s an app for that!”
Friday, March 20th, 2009
Soon after President Obama was elected, I wrote to my state representatives seeking tickets for the historic inauguration.
Well, take a look at what I received today from Senator Specter. Exactly two months after the event, I get my “reply.”
Note to the Senator – have an aid check your auto response system, it’s broken!
—– Original Message —–
Sent: Friday, March 20, 2009 2:36 PM
Subject: Re: Inaugural tickets
Dear Mr. Reid:
Thank you for contacting my office regarding your concern.
I appreciate your taking the time to bring your views on this
important matter to my attention. As a United States Senator, it is
essential that I be kept fully informed on the issues of concern to my
constituents. While the large volume of correspondence I receive
precludes a more lengthy response, please rest assured that I will keep
your thoughts in mind as the Senate considers this issue. If you have
any further questions on this or any other issues, please visit my
website, http://specter.senate.gov <http://specter.senate.gov/> , and
carefully fill out the contact form under contact info.
Again, thank you for writing.
Friday, March 13th, 2009
Explaining my sight loss to old friends and acquaintances has never been an easy task. In the months following my surgery I had many experiences with this. Some didn’t go as well as I hoped. There were several people who just couldn’t take the news. I imagine they believed I would become a different person. I didn’t realize the conversation explaining my blindness would be our last.
Recently I had a chance to reconnect with a past manager who I think greatly influenced my work style. I considered her an early mentor who gave me several opportunities that directly impacted my career. It took me a while to reach out and call her. I was pretty sure she had already heard about my sight loss through our network of former co workers. I have a lot of respect for this person and it would have really bothered me if my blindness now became my dominant characteristic.
It was great not only to speak with her, but to realize that although she heard the news she was still interested in supporting my career and the things I am capable of accomplishing. That’s a big difference from those who immediately question what I will “be able” to do. I don’t blame anyone for such a reaction, it stems from our ignorance of disability. However, here’s a concept, let’s focus on abilities and potential.
Maybe I’m pushing this social media thing but, can Face Book and similar social apps be a tool to aid this process?
Here’s the concept:
My assumption is that anyone I friend request or friend requests me on FB would visit my profile to answer the natural questions.
- What does he look like now? Sighted folks seem to always be concerned with that! Okay, I still find myself asking that question too!
- Does he have kids?
- Ooh, I hope he’s available? Sorry, I just threw that in there for the ego!
So, I updated my Face Book profile to reflect some of the work I have been doing as an advocate for blindness related issues. I pointed to this blog for individual’s to get an eyeful/earful of what I have been about for the past few years. All of that to say, I am blind and I’m still the same T.Reid. If you’re good with that, then holla, otherwise peace!