Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Broadening Horizons

I had a good week. Yes, it was long once again, but that will be just a fact of life this semester. I'm not Father Time so I can't do anything to change how many hours there are in a day, week, etc. We're just kept in check by the concept of time; if you really think about it, time is such that you can't grasp it but its there! Quite fascinating, ain't it?!

Yesterday, Saturday, I had hoped to attend a concert. Lisa Loeb, the cute singer who plays "good" music, was to play at the Hawaiian Hut, a showroom at the Ala Moana Hotel. Everyone I asked if they wanted to come with me had prior commitments, although they really would have gone if they could. Another fact of life. I was planning to go myself or with my mom, but as it turns out we BOTH were tired and drained so even I didn't go! There's always next time.

Earlier in the day, I went to a barbecue that one of my football friends had, as he's moving to the continent to play semi-pro football. At first, I wasn't really interested in going, but another friend of mine kept on me, "Let's go, it'll be good!" So I went, and I had a great time. I saw friends who I hadn't seen in a while, and it was nice to be in a environment that was so peaceful and relaxing. It was at a beach front property and the view was just amazing. I should have taken pictures, but I was caught up in just enjoying being there. Sometimes you just have to do that and not worry about capturing it for future use. The MIND is the greatest memory stick, photo album, biographical resource that we possess! It was a gorgeous day out, too.

I've been working on the National Institute for Multicultural Competence's (NIMC) Newsletter site, Pathways; updating it with announcements and archiving our first article. It took me a while to get this just right; there's a lot of testing and re-testing that goes into authoring webpages. Or maybe that's just me, I WANT people to enjoy going to the newsletter and navigating through it without and trouble. I'm very excited about the newsletter as a whole since Dr. D'Andrea receives numerous requests from individuals who want to receive our e-mail announcements on a weekly basis! The website can be found here, If ant of you wish to join the NIMC, it's a free organization, please e-mail and I'll be sure to add you to our mailing list.

My week at school was good. On Tuesday, I experienced a moment of panic as I realized that I'm a little behind on my 60 hours of direct client services for my practicum. I immediately approached Dr. Skouge (Jim), as he is my site-supervisor, and he was extremely helpful. Jim is one of those individuals who never seems to get rattled when challenges arise, he thinks it through and comes up with wonderful solutions or ideas! I felt much better after speaking to him and feel confident everything will work out.

Thursday was a LONG day; that's the best way to describe it. I arrived at work around 6:45am, ready to duplicate CD's for Jim's class later that afternoon. I knew I was under a tight schedule as I would need to leave to attend a Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB) meeting around mid-afternoon. Usually we do all of our CD duplicating in the CRC, the College of Education's library and media resource center since they have a CD duplicator that can burn 6 CD's at once. The slight problem was that they open at 9, and I felt like I should get started on this task; it HAD to get completed. So, I began the tedious task of burning the copies one by one on our computer in the office. This actually worked out fine because I got into a comfortable rhythm and the task began to carry itself. I was just feeding the blank CD's into the drive. I got 75% of the copying done and then proceeded to the CRC at 9 to finish up the task.

I spoke to Jim that morning and he asked if I could record my speech that I was to deliver to his class later that evening. I quickly remembered that the best audio recorder is a video camera, so that's exactly what I used! I plugged in the iSight camera into the computer and sat there recording my speech. I edited out the "dead air" using iMovie. Boy, Macs are so user friendly and great...a bold statement coming from someone who was solely a PC user up until a year and a half ago! I also recorded a little introductory message for Dr. D'Andrea to play on my behalf at the NIMC Conferences this week in Hollywood, California.

I value Dr. D'Andrea's vision to have as many people "hear" me through my augmentative communication device, the DynaWrite made by DynaVox. This vision parallels Jim's idea that people need to hear more of these devices so the "shock" or "awe" effect is lessened. And from my perspective, being that I survived without a true "voice" for so long, I'm getting used to the idea of being more vocal so to speak. It will be an ongoing transition and growing process for me, but I welcome this opportunity!

I attended the aforementioned DCAB meeting and I will openly admit that I was bored sitting through it! I tried my darndest to get enthused about it, but it just seemed to drag on and on, with a certain core dominating the meeting. I'm still "new" to this so I'm hopeful that I will be able to shed my tendency to be passive.

I hurried back to campus, preparing myself mentally for the presentation that I was to give that evening in Jim's Technology for Students with Disabilities class. On my way back to the office, I ran into my friend, who shared some exciting news with me. She had just received a full-time graduate assistant position! I KNOW that my reaction was very much subdued, and I'm disappointed in myself for this. I'm one who loves the idea of friends being able to share highs and lows with each other and be able to feel happy, sad, disappointed, etc. with the other person. The only explanation I have for my lack of emotion on this day was that I was entering my "zone;" athletes will often enter this so called zone prior to a game and become really focused on their forthcoming game. I very much am happy and excited that my friend received this opportunity, and I explained this to her in a conversation later.

My presentation in Jim's. This is the second semester that I've done this presentation, Jim shows the class three videos, the first being a short interview with me sharing a little bit about myself, and then the next two videos are my video poetry pieces, and I wrap up with some remarks. I could have used the same remarks from last semester, but to me that would be boring, so I challenged myself to come up with a whole new speech. I worked on this on Wednesday and hoped that it would be received well. My speech talked about the importance of taking risks and not shying away from having high expectations of their students, be it if they have a disability or not. I also spoke to the fact that assistive technology would be the tool that they would use to level the playing ground, the gap in the bridge between the disabled and non-disabled would be closed, and instead of viewing it as accommodations, we could look at it as an opportunity to include ALL people in society. I always end my remarks by saying a few words about Jim, my mentor and friend. I do this NOT because I feel obligated or to score any points, that is not what I'm about; I do this because I feel it is important to openly acknowledge people who have helped you get where you are! This is why I mention my family in my entries so often, this is why I mention friends on a regular basis, and this is why I mention teachers/professors on a regular basis.

My presentation went very well. I was a bit overwhelmed by the responses that students provided immediately following it. They ranged from "Brian, I'm sorry I didn't approach you before, even though I've always seen you around" to "You're an inspiring individual." Very candid responses, extremely honest and frank. Then on this night there would be Jim's reaction. I know and respect that Jim is an emotional person, I don't see that as wrong, but rather being extremely genuine. Jim apologized for becoming so emotional, but MY take is that apologizing is NOT necessary...emotions are real, and it is very refreshing to see a professor open up to his class and actually show emotion!

I am excited about the opportunity to work with the students in this class throughout the semester. I just hope that I can provide them with the help and assistance that they deserve.

On Friday, I knew that I would be interacting with the two deaf girls from Pohnpei State of the Federated States of Micronesia. I had been working and discussing this with Jim's colleague, Mellanie, and my co-worker, Steven, as they have had contact with these girls already on a regular basis. I was excited about the opportunity, but yet felt some uneasiness as I didn't know what to expect. What the heck was I nervous about?! The girls were so engaging and have this overall positive/happy disposition that you can't help but get happy about yourself, too! We communicated at first by using my DynaWrite and taking turns typing messages to each other. Another great example of how invaluable having a DynaWrite IS!! Our visit with each other lasted just under 2 hours and we'll be meeting on a regular basis every Friday. This will be a semester where my horizons will be broadened!

I've been thinking a lot about Art Enabled. I have a genuine excitement about being able to organize it and have it take place on July 22, 2005. Along with this excitement, I will admit to experiencing moments of stress....again self-induced stress. I think the stress stems from my desire to do as good a job as I can so that the event will be as great as it can and should be! If any of you are interested in helping and/or participating, please feel free to contact me through Today, in a few moments actually, I'll be scouting locations, particularly the McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Beach Park to see how viable a location that may be.

Randomness for the week:

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Brian at work. Notice the heater in the background!
Brrr, its cold, thus the "frosted" look of this pic!

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The Tennessee Titans and Hawaii connection!

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A cool building across the street of Ala Moana

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A cute bamboo plant in our house.
Bamboo is thought to be good luck
in Japanese culture.

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The site of Art Enabled 2005 (I'm 99% sure!)

Until next week, have a wonderful week. Thanks to everyone who has posted comments of late. My iguana friend WILL have a name by next week, I'll take this week to examine all the suggestions thus far!


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