Archive for February, 2009
Friday, February 27th, 2009
Ok, I know I’ve been writing a bit about Stevie in the past few weeks, but what can I say, Stevie’s been on my mind. No man crush or anything, he’s just Stevie and well that’s my man and dawgonit this is my blog.
Last night I watched Stevie receive the Gershwin Award from President Obama.
As a major Stevie fan, you could probably guess that I am a little critical watching others perform their rendition of a SW track. I know it’s not right to compare a non SW version to the original. Performers should bring their own style to the song and if it works great. If not, well I’m gonna talk about you! But not in public, I try not to be a hater.
Some of the artist’s who paid tribute include Tony Bennett, Diana Krall,and Paul Simon, a past recipient of the award.
I thought I would mention a few performances that stuck out.
India Arie, is just perfectly suited for Summer Soft. This wasn’t her best performance, but there is a genuine love for Stevie. She has worked with Stevie on many occasions in the past and I always feel her respect and appreciation for his contributions. You can just feel the love!
The intro for Higher Ground, you don’t find funk like that now a days. I was surprised that the gospel duo Mary Mary was selected to perform this classic. I have to say, if I had a chance to perform with Stevie, this would be my choice. While I enjoyed their rendition, they chose not to stray from the original. If you never heard the Red Hot Chilli Peppers version you should check it out, it’s a head banger full of their mentor George Clinton’s, hot stankin’ funk – so be careful.
The most noteworthy performance from those chosen to pay tribute would have to be Esperanza Spalding’s version of “Overjoyed.” Straight Fire! Overjoyed has been one of my favorite Stevie jams ever since I heard his performance on Saturday Night Live several years before the song was released on the In Square Circle album.
The SNL performance was simply Stevie on piano and full vocals. I always thought this version should have been released on an album. His vocals were flawless.
Esparanza Spalding who is a jazz musician and vocalist took this song and blessed it with a old school jazzy vibe with a hint of Latin flavor. I thought so much of her performance I had to grab the laptop during the show and search for her on Youtube. Seriously folks, if you are not a Stevie fan (ouch!) you should check out the show for her performance. I’m hoping she covered this on an album or will do so in the future.
Stevie closed the show with Signed Sealed Delivered and Superstiscious
So with all of that said I will stop the Stevie coverage/comment until March 10, 2009 with the release of Live At Last! – a DVD concert from a 2008 performance in London
I want to take my girls to a Stevie concert someday, so in the meantime Live At Last! will have to do.
Now go on over and watch the performance from PBS – Library of Congress Prize for popular Song.
Thursday, February 26th, 2009
In a prior post I wrote about my introduction to the world of Twitter.
There has been much talk in the press debating whether this micro blogging application is useful technology or a waste of time.
So far, I think Twitter’s search function is probably the most useful. In real time, you can see who is talking about a specific subject. I learned about breaking news from those I follow on Twitter. I even learned about the plane crash in Buffalo from MC Hammer. Seriously, Hammer. Honestly, I wasn’t a big fan back in the day, but Hammer is a positive minded person and I dig his tweets (posts).
Now here’s the real power of the Twitterati…
The folks at the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust are using Twitter to raise awareness.
Parents often have very similar stories of detecting Retinoblastoma (RB) in a child. Usually the first thing noticed is the white eye reflector seen in a child’s photograph or when light hits the child’s eye. Unfortunately, often this goes undetected or diagnosed incorrectly.
In my last post I was pimpin’ my own Twitter account, but honestly, this is so much more important. They are asking everyone to become RB Aware by following and re-tweeting the website.
The thing about RB is when detected early, it can be treated which in “developed” countries is usually the outcome. The loss of an eye or total blindness being the worst case. But, as with other diseases, It’s the “under developed” countries where children die because the cancer easily spreads from the eye to the brain via the optic nerve.
So come on, if you’re on Twitter become RB Aware and if not go visit, I’m RB Awareand help spread the word.
Wednesday, February 25th, 2009
For those of us who have experienced Retinoblastoma (RB) as children, there seems to be this automatic bond with other RB Survivors. Hearing someone else had a prosthetic eye was one thing, but finding out he or she too had this very rare form of childhood cancer, well that made you feel special, but not in a negative way. Before the internet, you could probably go a life time without meeting other RB Survivors outside of those who share your doctor.
When I first learned of Ben Underwood a few years ago I was interested in his use of echolocation to navigate. Ben, an RB Survivor with both eyes enucleated by age 3, learned to bounce sounds off objects as a way of improving his mobility. Ben’s abilities were on display on shows like Ellen and Oprah.
The use of echolocation in varying degrees is common among people in the blind community. Mostly using the tapping sounds of a white cane to gather additional information from surrounding areas and objects.
I was drawn to the positive message of Ben. Especially his determination to accomplish his personal goals. He was using his abilities rather than concentrating on what he could not do – which was simply see.
I learned of ben during a time in my life when I lost my remaining sight. I was dealing with the issues of mobility, accessibility and a strong desire to regain my independence. A fellow RB Survivor, younger than me was essentially saying all of this is achievable and through his actions, he made it look easy.
Watching a fellow cancer survivor go through it again brings out so many emotions. Some are probably obvious, while others are probably unique to the experience. A strong desire to encourage them to fight and never give up because that always seems like the natural thing to do. A win for them is a win for all. Similar to cheering on your favorite heavy weight boxer in the title fight. A fitting analogy, since both are not only physical but mainly mental battles.
But Ben didn’t lose, that young brother is definitely a winner. He didn’t lose his fight to cancer He went on to his next journey and we especially all of us RB Kids won a great lesson from Ben.
Thanks young Brother Ben!.
Friday, February 20th, 2009
Let me first say, I believe every consumer electronic product should be made accessible for all. No one community should be relegated to a specific brand or device based on a characteristic. There should not be computers, mp3 players or microwaves “for the blind.” These products and others should simply be universally designed with all people able to operate.
The recent buzz about the Amazon Kindle got me thinking, would such a product, if made accessible cause a mass migration of specialty device users. Would blind people abandon their Victor Reader Stream or other DAISY Players, for a Kindle?
Reading the product page for the Kindle 2.0, I am not convinced I would cheat on Vicky. (Yes, I call my Victor Reader Stream Vicky – Read a prior post for explanation.)
However, if the folks at HumanWare are concerned, well, maybe Vicky needs to spice it up a bit, make herself a little sexier in order to make sure this relationship stays fresh and exciting. While I would obviously prefer a software upgrade, some of the features below may indeed require new hardware, let’s call her Vicky 2.0. So, Humanware, think about this list as you watch the Petition to make the Amazon Kindle Accessible grow with signatures.
My Feature List for the Victor Reader Stream 2.0:
- A Clock – preferably with multiple alarm settings –I recently destroyed my watch, since I always have my Vicky, seems to make sense.
- Built in Wi-fi – I know The Kindle has Free 3G. But we’re still talking about Access Technology, let’s be realistic!
- Bluetooth – I want to eliminate the headphone cable.
- Fully functioning Browser – Navigating a web page can be similar to navigating a DAISY book
- Direct Download for;
(Again, Kindle gets her books in 60 seconds!)
- Podcasts via built in ppodcatcher
- Skype for internet phone calls – Remember the built in Microphone
- Synchronizable Calendar and To Do List
Ok, I know I made this more into a mobile PC than just a DAISY Reader, but it’s all about the features in 2009!
It hurts me to think this way but, if Amazon’s Kindle or some other mainstream product offered such features, well I may just have to two time Vicky.
Thursday, February 19th, 2009
I just came across this post from the BBC’s blog. Apparently, some wanted news commentator’s to spell out url’s and other references rather than saying “As you can see on the screen.” This is something I know many of us have experienced and ended up missing out on a telephone number or website.
The real interesting piece of this story are the comments. It’s incredible how many people view this courtesy as political correctness.
“Unless you walk in a man’s shoes,…”
Check out, BBC News and Disabled Audiences.
Thursday, February 19th, 2009
A few tracks from Joe Cuba have been in regular rotation in the Reid house for a while now.
One of those artists that many in mainstream are not aware of until you here the track. Then all of a sudden you’re tappin’ those feet and if you’re like me you yell, “Oh that’s my jam!”
Bang Bang – The hit most know!
Now this Salsa track here, this makes me long for the days Mom would take us to La Marketa in El Barrio and I would get my favorite grape piragua (icy shaved from the solid block of ice)
If you don’t know, just relate it to your experience of culture and community – it’s all good!
Read Mourning A Giant in Latin Music from the NYTimes. When it’s my turn to go, I want it to be like this, a party!
R.I.P Mr. Cuba and thank you for the music.
Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
Here’s a doll for teaching children the “other” side of parenting.
Baby Talk Back.
This cute and sometimes loveable doll responds like a CWA, “Child With an Attitude.”
Ask the doll to do something, anything, watch how she doesn’t respond.
The doll asks questions and when you try to give her the answer to her question, she says in an annoying whining voice, “I know already!”
This doll can do it all,, suckher teeth, roll her eyes and of course talk back.
Ask her three times very politely to do her chore and sit back and watch as she:
- Slams her hand on the counter
- Stomps off in a CWA rage
- In a very realistic voice speak the two most famous phrases;
I didn’t make the mess Why do I have to clean my room?
Janey doesn’t have to clean her room.
(This programmable doll even allows the user to choose the name of their choice.)
Purchase two and watch them argue with one another.
Now, put the doll in a corner for a half hour and sit back and watch it change into a beautiful loveable child.
C’mon Mattel and other toy manufacturer’s, holla at me.
Tuesday, February 17th, 2009
The folks at Fred’s Head Companion led me to a new comic book series based on the life of Helen Keller. Well sort of!
Helen Killer, yes apparently this is true. From the site:
At the dawn of the 20th Century, twenty-one year old college student Helen Keller has a dark secret science has restored her lost senses and granted her unimaginable power. Will she use it to protect herself and her country. or will it destroy them both? Thoroughly researched, Helen Killer blends a full cast of historical characters with high octane super-spy action, examining the extraordinary spirit of one of the most inspiring individuals of the twentieth century. Written by Andrew Kreisberg who has written for such tv hits as “The Simpsons,” “Boston Legal” and “Eli Stone.” This is the first fully illustrated book by Matt Rice, a talented up and comer of whom big things are expected.
I haven’t read the comic so this is not a review.
My beef, is pretty simple.
The online version of this comic book, which features a “super hero” who is blind, is inaccessible to screen readers. What seems to be Flash based cannot be read by the blind community
Did it ever occur to those involved in this project that blind people may want to read the story?
C’mon, the real Helen Keller wouldn’t be able to independently access this information in 2009. The technology is available, but it does no good when it’s not properly used.
Since those involved with this project found it so important to give Ms. Keller her two senses, I thought I would give my two cents too!
Friday, February 13th, 2009
Every year when we approach February, Black History Month (BHM), I partake in my annual ritual. I search the web looking for events celebrating the many contributions African Americans have made to this country and throughout the world.
It seems to be the one time of year that television programming as well as events in museums, libraries and art galleries feature people of African descent. Very similar to watching a show in which African Americans are the dominant or exclusive subject matter and all of the commercials have so called black themes.
Michael E. Ross ,author of “The End of Black History Month” from The Root, is suggesting now that the United States elected an African American president, it is therefore time to eliminate BHM.
The author is absolutely correct when he says:
The issue of continuing Black History Month isn’t really a debate over its value or the worth of expanding it to a yearlong event or a decade-long event.
It’s realizing the most important thing about history in general and black history in particular, is that it provides a springboard, a lesson plan for
He later says that African American history is American history.
The problem is what it has always been, the history taught in the schools is not inclusive.
Discussing “The Dream” of Martin Luther King or approaching the subject of slavery by mentioning Harriet Tubman does not equal inclusion.
The logic suggesting that a African American being elected president of this country equates to the achievement of a balanced society, well to put it nicely is off. The appointment of New York State Governor Patterson, did not “automagically” eliminate;
- 70 percent unemployment among people who are blind or visually impaired
- Lack of accessible transportation
- in accessible currency, websites, software, consumer electronics
It just doesn’t work that way!
The time to eliminate Black History Month is when;
- History books reflect the truth- Black history does not begin with Slavery. Explain that African civilization was exactly that, civil. History, mathematics, engineering, art and so on were thriving way before Europeans stepped off their ships.
- Class discussions include the Contributions from people like Crispus Attucks to Malcolm X and so many others in between
- So called African American programming is not just marketed and aired during February.
The election of President Obama is progress, it is not the finish line.
Carter G. Woodson would roll over in his grave!
Thursday, February 12th, 2009
For quite some time now I have been reading and listening to various Tech blogs and podcasts talking about Twitter. The conversation seems to focus on how Twitter can be used for various purposes.
I decided to try it after listening to a SeroTalk podcast on social media. I think I have a way to go before I figure out how or if it would work for me. Am I just trying to be on the bandwagon? Maybe. I do get frustrated hearing about all of the new ways people are putting technology to work and feeling a little out of the loop often because of accessibility issues. Especially since I was once an early adopter.
The NY Times has an article titled "Twitter Is What You Make It." Among other things the author explains that it’s ok to use Twitter anyway you see fit. In fact, it’s even cool not to use it. I know this seems sort of obvious, but I’m sure I am not the only one who feels as though they are being left behind when it comes to tech.
Ahhh, who am I kidding, this post is really just a way to find more folks on Twitter. If you’re on, let me know. Follow my tweets (right now, not very frequent – it feels like I’m talking to myself).