Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

Daddy Daughter Love With A Beat

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

If you’re not familiar with TED Talks by now, you really should head over and give the site a browse. TED is the acronym for Technology Engineering and Design. It features presentations or Talks, from leaders in areas usually focusing on one of the three disciplines. The original TED has spawned other smaller presentations all over the globe.

I recently came across a presentation by a father daughter team on the subject of beat boxing. At first glance, I took issue with the presentation for different reasons;

  • It doesn’t align with the more cerebral TED Talks
  • While TED presentations have some diversity, to feature African American’s beatboxing can be viewed as offensive
  • I personally view beatboxing as an art form; one of the underrated elements of Hip Hop, however, these two aren’t necessarily a great representative of the art form based on the performance in the video


These were my thoughts in the first 15 to 25 seconds of watching the video. However, for the duration of the video…I loved this Daddy Daughter Duo!

I watched a Dad who by my account used his love of a low tech beatboxing to engineer his way into developing a strong bond with his daughter. In my opinion all good relationships are by design. They may start off by chance, but they take real work to build.

Speaking from my own experience developing relationships with my daughters, I use whatever I have at my disposal to create a time for us to just hang together…low tech – beats and rhymes at the dinner table, conversations about current affairs and their historical implication, knock knock jokes. Modern, recording audio/video, listening to podcasts, watching movies, jam sessions…

Give this a watch and let me know if you don’t see the love between a Daddy and his Daughter…Big shout out to this Dad, great design Sir! #DaddyDaughterDay in full effect!



Wednesday, January 6th, 2016

On New Year’s Day I received word that my cousin John was transferred to hospice care the night before.


While people across the country and world were celebrating the opportunity and possibility that comes with every New Year, my cousins new bride began the transition to a widow much too early. John was laid to rest today after going home on January 2, 2016. He was only 51.


The death of a relative is the closest thing my extended family comes to having a reunion. The setting isn’t a family friendly hotel or resort, but rather a wake in a funeral home usually located in the Bronx or Harlem, NYC. We greet each other with hugs and kisses questions about our wellbeing and the status and age of our children.


Since my own second encounter with cancer and my resulting blindness, part of preparing to attend any public event is getting ready to deal with what I refer to as the “weirdness”. The “weirdness” can occur at any moment. The beholder of the “weirdness” can be male or female, young or old, friend, family or foe. The “weirdness” takes many forms. It’s the overly sympathetic sounding voice that some use to say hello and ask how I am doing. It can be the awkwardness that ensues when I inquire to the whereabouts of the rest room. I think some envision having to take on much more than either giving me directions or an elbow!


The “Weirdness” takes on many forms;

  • Ignorant comments disguised as compliments to me, my wife or children
  • Uncomfortable stares and murmurs
  • Feeling as though we’ve been segregated when we’re placed in a section of a room and ignored


For some relatives, just like some in the general public, my blindness is less about what I along with my wife and family are doing or have been able to accomplish and achieve, but rather a tangled spool of misperceptions and uninformed ideas. Hence, the need for preparation.

I’m happy to say that my personal growth and that of my entire family enables us to show up with smiles, conversations and if sought lots of value. We have been through very difficult times and as a family we pushed through and are all better individuals for that. Still, some can’t imagine that to even be possible.


With all my experiences I’m still a little shocked when I over hear comments in respect to my blindness and loss of my eyes that remind me that there are many who believe blindness is worse than death.


Twelve years ago when faced with the loss of my sight I knew it was my preferred outcome. I couldn’t fathom leaving my family. Fortunately, my cancer was contained in the eye and orbit and I survived. Apparently, there are many out there who are in need of a reality check…


My cousin John, I believe is no longer suffering from all the destruction cancer brought including the treatments. For someone with a strong personality like him, it was probably the other things that come with being labeled sick; people  treating you differently – questions about your health being the new greeting or maybe worse people no longer contacting you as though cancer were contagious.

It’s his wife, children, mom, sister, nephews and others who remain in pain.


Those who believe they would rather be dead than blind may not realize the selfishness along with the ignorance comprised in this statement.

“A man’s dying is more the survivors’ affair than his own. ~Thomas Mann


In the past twelve year’s I am so thankful for all that I have had the chance to experience…

The growth and the work that goes into improving my relationship with my wife!

We have experienced some really low times, but as I watch how she has handled our life changes and has become even a better person from all that we experienced. These things make our good times even better.


I watch both my daughters’ blossom into their own personalities

The incredible fun and joy I feel when my girls and I sit around the table after dinner talking sometimes serious conversations, but often just laughing and joking. I know they know their dad and the different sides to my personality

I had the chance to be there for my mother along with my sister as we helped her recover from her surgery.

I wouldn’t want to have to do that again, but I see the blessing in being able to be there.


These are just some of my life experiences over the past 12 years.


John’s nephew shared memories of how his uncle impacted his life. All of the memories were just really simple things that demonstrated him sharing his time and energy. While I believe he left this earth too early I do know John was able to experience many of the joys that life has to offer. Unfortunately his family has to deal with the feelings and thoughts that come with losing a loved one. My prayer is that they find strength in knowing he loved them and they him. I hope they can focus on the great times and memories they made together. Knowing that he isn’t suffering and would want them to live their lives and make more memories with him in their hearts.


RIP My Big Cuz John!


Blindness worse than death? Seems way too easy for me to ask who is really blind…but if the shoe fits…

This is Not A Drill

Monday, November 3rd, 2014

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!


Better Be About It

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

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

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

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!