Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More on the Knees and Surgery - Part 5

So far, so good. I've been having interpreters for my rehab in the mornings. It's been working out pretty well so far and the rehab center has been doing good on their part.

I've been making some progress here and there. It was difficult and painful enough trying to sit at the edge of this elevated mat to get the knee to bend properly, but it did at nearly a 90 degree angle. Another one was walking from the rehab room to my own room, something I wasn't able to do last week. I use a slider to help me in one of the exercises in bending the knee a bit more. The back of the knee is a bit tight.

The staples came out. It wasn't that painful, just looked it. The incision area looks pretty good, despite the knee immobilizer velcro strap rubbing a bit too much on one area. I'm using gauze pads to protect it. Sometimes I'll walk without the immobilizer. Now to see when I graduate from walker to cane.

My next worry is the steps at home since I'm in a split level. But of course, I can always butt-climb them. That's a rather easy way out, I know. Best thing to do is to go up and down the steps normally a few times a day.

According to the doctor, I go home about Monday or Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More on the Knees and Surgery - Part 4

The saga continues of getting interpreters. At last posting, I said I would be getting one on Monday. That was the rehab center's time to show that they were serious about getting interpreters for me.

Monday after rehab, no interpreter. I talked with the business office to see what was going on. They said Jamie was a good advocate. Then someone told me that the interpreters would be around on Tuesday from 10-12.

The next day, I had one. It helped out pretty nicely, as I was making progress here and there. At one point, I was to walk around this table. I wasn't sure if I could make it. Then I tried. Partway around, halfway around, back to the meeting spot.


I talked with my doctor and he said I'd be going home in a week or two. The staples will be coming out Monday rather than Friday or Saturday as I thought. He even joked about getting me to play for the Redskins.

Hmm... Play for the Redskins. Not quite.

To walk, perchance to bowl again.

It'll happen.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

More on the Knees and Surgery - Part 3

Typing this real quick from a rehab facility computer, I'm doing pretty good. I had the bandages changed earlier and the nurse I measured things.

It was also during this time that we made some headway in the interpreter issue, having had none since I arrived. Apparently they didn't quite take us seriously or didn't believe us til Jamie showed them proof. Then the business office authorized payment. As it turns out, I'll get limited service starting about Monday when I have physical and occupational therapy and am talking with the doctor, one after another.

For some strange reason, I thought I had a 22 inch incision til later I checked with the nurse again. She thought it was pretty funny. "22 centimeters, not inches." We used a paper tape to check on things and I did a little measuring myself. 22 cm is about 8.5 inches. I've got *32* staples. I should have those removed about Friday.

Fortunately, the facility is near the local metro stop, just a few stops away from our home stop, also right off a major highway.

Rehab's going good, just recently I was doing some knee exercises and it looked together with the therapist that I had about a 5-10 degree range of movement. That could double when the staples come off. I'm currently using a knee immobilizer for a bit of time. The CPM (Continuous Passive Motion) machine will come later.

Someone mentioned that I'm giving myself a Christmas gift. Definitely sounds like it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More on the Knees and Surgery - Part 2

I had the surgery Friday morning. From my meeting with the surgeon, he's told me that my knee was in pretty bad shape. Remember I said it didn't have cartilage? Lemme put it this way...

Surgery time was 4 hours. The attendants in the operating room was shocked at how bad it was. He asked how I got into his office, and I told him I used the cane. It seems I should not have been able to walk like this, since my muscles weren't keeping up with things, meaning they were going downhill some the worse my knee got. The way he says it, within maybe 3 years, due to the scar tissue from the cartilage breakdown, it would cause the entire knee to become frozen.

I'm moving to a rehab facility real soon, and am cleared by another doctor to go.

It took Jamie Berke's help together with a little MishkaZena's in dealing with some interpreter issues as well as some other things. I'll let them tell more.

Total time for recovery from this knee will all be dependent on me. Apparently I got a number of people behind me who will prod me along to make sure I'm doing good. This most likely puts my classes and other things in limbo for a bit, but I will return.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sorenson Slammed by Congress

Sherlock Steve forwarded me an email related to Sorenson being slammed by Congress amid their refusal to be audited. The PDF file below is a long read.

Deception and Distrust (PDF file)

Some things hop out at me after a bit of reading the entire file.

"In addition to the issue of overcompensation, there are questions as to whether all of the minutes that TRS providers submit for compensation have actually been incurred by people with hearing or speech disabilities, and whether provider costs are accurate."

No kidding.

The Nigerian scams for one. Then there's the teens who abuse the system.

Didn't the operators just get the power or ability to cancel these kinds of calls without harm to their jobs? Just spend a day with a relay operator and they'll see the kind of calls they get, which are not always from those with "hearing or speech disabilities" as it puts it. Just talk with my interpreter coordinator friend at a local college who works on the side with Sorenson as operator. He's complained about teens who spend hours and hours just talking.

This report, if you can call it one, doesn't even begin to address these issues. But of course, it's just the beginning.

Then there's this memo on page 42, exhibit 3. There's this interesting part... Page 44, Part D(1) under 'Other issues that affect the size an integrity of the fund.' Read also D(2).

"Consumer advocates are strongly opposed to permitting the CAs to terminate suspected fraudulent calls because it would require them to step out of their role as an invisible conduit."

That's something here... Consumer advocates? Just who the hell are they kidding? Are they advocating their own pockets! Sometimes a CA has to step out of their role. In fact, I welcome that when the need arises.

But there may be some CAs who claim these illegitimate calls as legitimate. How is their pay system set up?

Exhibit 5, page 49. ooh... Classic frustration memo writing here. Check the final paragraph on page 53.

Exhibit 6, page 55. "Sorenson did not permit us access to their staff and the relevant systems to document and test the controls associated with accumulating and reporting the minutes." ouch... Next exhibit... Now how are they doing the billing?

Once they answer these basic questions, I'm sure they can find ways to improve the TRS services.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More on the Knees and Surgery

Those of you wondering about what went on after the snafu in my Doctors and the Relay posts back in June need not wonder any more of what's going on.

Friday December 12, 7:30am, I will be having total knee replacement on the left knee. I had a physical, CBC (blood cell count), BMP (Basic Metabolic Panel), EKG (heart rhythm test), and presurgery history. I had a class of sorts with a nurse and other patients who were going through knee or hip replacement to talk about what to expect.

Just tonight, I got the message that my surgery is a GO! Showtime!

I know it's going to be a bit of work on recovery from my research. I had an arthroscopy on both knees 15 years ago and only needed to use crutches. I have a walker someone gave me. I used a cheap plastic chair for showering back then, and found an adjustable height shower chair reduced price of $10! I can easily put one of our other plastic chairs downstairs in the shower stall.

I'll be in the hospital for 3-4 days. I'll post more. Interestingly enough, later in the day after surgery, I'll be able to stand on the new knee and walk around some. Then over the coming days, I'll be attempting to walk more and longer distances and have physical therapy.

For the steps, it seems I may climb them butt-wise, and then normal stepping up and down. Right now, I'm going down them backwards or sidestepping.

Let's see... I got a walker, wheelchair, crutches, two canes, and a shower chair... It's a rest home here, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

ASL Expo, Funny Stuff

Earlier Saturday, I went with Jamie out to the ASL Expo at the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, MD. We arrived just before noon due to a previous engagement.

I thought it was interesting that it was in arena near a horse stable. Usually, most expos like this are crowded, but this one wasn't as crowded. It looked more like a demo and social sort of event, more social than sales/demo. I managed to pick out Deaf Sherlock out of a small group in the arena seating what with his shiny head and text him. It took him a minute or two to find us. Maybe he should have worn that Sherlock or PSU hat of his?

The vendor tables were fewer than before, with T-Mobile, Viable, Sorenson, and a few other well-known places as well as other smaller vendors selling various things. The place could easily have held at least twice the crowd we had for the stage shows. Interestingly enough, facing the stage was an area for kids entertainment, making stuff or just plain playing some.

For the $10 admission, things could probably have been better even though we left a bit early.

There's bound to be days when someone pops out a oneliner to a lecturer's serious question and causes the entire audience to fall over laughing. We've heard of the biology instructor who answers the question of why semen tastes salty in Snopes' Salt of the Mirth.

But in this case, Jeff Carlson posts something called Funny Thing Happened in College. Ah, total hilarity. Just something I did awhile ago that killed my entire class in my Bringing Down The House post.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Nigerian Scam Targets Deaf Youngsters

I just returned tonight from having to deal with someone's teenager who was about to get scammed. I got a copy of the chat log and knew just what was going on. I fired off a response email to all involved including the teen's teachers.

This is what I sent;

I've seen this conversation and this is EXACTLY the thing I have been seeing and hearing about all over the place.

To begin, the screen names they hit/contact can be found in two places.

The first would be from DeafVP, as it has been a major source of live AIM screen names. They would hit you with invites to a website to enter your phone number or similar info. If not DeafVP, it would be found in other places like Facebook.

The second is what I have been seeing more and more often, what you saw with the teen.

What they would do is get the AIM SN owner's password somehow. The first would be either through force or through telling them false stories. If they got it through force, they would have you visit a "poisoned" website which would install something to capture your passwords or other information. This last option I've rarely seen.

When they try to get the person's password, they would tell them that they've won money and tell them other stories. They will say they need your AIM password "to open the briefcase" or to help them in getting their money better.

Once they get the password, they take over the account by changing the password and then abuse it. How exactly they abuse it, I don't know. First, they use one of their own accounts, known as Account A, to make first contact using the "taken" account's buddy list. Then the "taken" account, known as Account B, is used to help fool other people if needed.

Account A has been known to refer to Account B, to gain the trust of the person they're talking with, making it seem like they are talking with their friend on their buddy list. Now and then this is used, but I don't see this often.

If they don't go for the password, like you saw with the teen, they would tell the person stories as to how they need to pay a fee to FedEx on delivery of the "money cash" or winnings. They will ALWAYS ask for your name and address, and to send the fee somewhere or wait for the FedEx or other delivery company.

If you try to tell them that they can take the "fee" out of the money you've "won," they will always tell you that's not how it works. It MUST be cash or something made out to the delivery company. They will not stop, just harassing you. Putting them on ignore is only a temporary measure til they get another IM name.

I received something similar some time ago, but in this case, they said they were a police officer in another state and gave me a URL. When I contacted the real person's office, they were VERY interested in getting the chat log. Another one tried to have me send an employment application to a place in the United Kingdom. When I checked the place of business out, I found they were only located here in the United States.

I have blogged about this before, and you can read it here;

Give Out Your Password? NOT! NEVER!

NEVER Give Out Your Password! (Part two)

For the second posting, there is a link to another article of interest.

Internet scammers target deaf community

If you pass all this around, it would help in reducing the number of people being scammed by these idiots.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Duty as Potential Juror

Micah Brown's post, My Civic Duty, is a little different from my experience when I was called up some months ago for jury duty. Then again, it varies from locality to locality and state to state.

When I got the summons, I checked to see if it was a legal requirement, and it was. A little under two weeks before I was to show up, I called them to say I would need an interpreter. Unfortunately, they weren't able to get one in time, so they gave me an extension. Then they called me and said I had two interpreters.

I arrive on time that day at 7:45am as requested. I made the mistake of not calling the hotline the night before to see if my group was to show up. As it turns out, my group wasn't needed that day, but the front desk people told me I had to be there since I had interpreters and they were on the way.

I sat down with laptop and connected to the wireless access point. Not long afterwards, both interpreters arrived. Then about 8:30am, one of the people start a video telling about the jury selection process.

Within the time of 3 hours, they called two groups. A little later, a bailiff comes out to thank us for coming and that we are excused from jury duty for 3 years.

One of the interpreters mentions that they don't want to pay twice, that is, for me to come in, then return the next day, as it's so expensive. As it turns out, I was to be there for two mornings, but they excused us.

Has anyone had this kind of experience?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I Have Selective Hearing?

The post by The Rebuttal, Bullying and the Deaf, reminds me of a lot of this stuff that happened to me long ago, especially around middle school up til mid high school. I posted about teasing and mistreatment here on the blog back in October 2007, Growing Up Deaf, parts 18 to 21.

I'd nearly forgotten about a few quotes until it was mentioned in the article. More specifically, halfway down, "you can hear well when you want to," "you have selective hearing," and "you're not deaf, you can hear" would sometimes be directed my way if I had a hard time understanding someone. Just because I heard someone say something or talk doesn't mean I understood them.

Jeez, accuse a deaf guy of having a hearing loss and attempting to communicate, willya?! Hey, hearie, can I accuse you of having such an insensitive attitude?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Gally Homecoming game rout

Saturday the 18th I was with Jamie at the Gallaudet Homecoming game against Southern Virginia. Sherlock Steve was there as well. Within the first quarter, the score was 0-20.

But whoa... Is it me or are the student groups improving their food offerings? Though they may be a little overpriced, there's still some gastronomic delights being served, including the ice cream table. Sorenson was there, as well as NVAD and a few other groups. Jamie was pulled aside by someone who mentioned the new Gallaudet Museum.

As the game progressed, more people started to leave the game, either to talk for awhile or just to leave campus. The bookstore is always a great place to go within the student center. The street area between the SLCC and stadium were loaded with people all through the game, and you can count on that for future games.

Gallaudet Loses Homecoming Game to Southern Virginia 44-9

In the fourth quarter, Gally managed to redeem themselves by way of a safety and a touchdown. Then the final buzzer had the score at 44-9. Tough team, that Southern Virginia, but I think we can do better next time.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Long Drives To See Subtitled Movies

When Sherlock Steve posted "Anything Screws Up Day", it reminded me of something similar that happened to me sometime around 1997.

When the subtitled movie Titanic was being shown in Cincinnati, Ohio, and I was living in Louisville, Kentucky, I made plans to go. My main mistake was not calling the theatre for when it was showing.

So, I drove two hours, arriving about 15 minutes before noon. I go in and right before I buy my ticket when I mentioned the captioned movie, the ticket lady tells me it'll be at 6pm.

Now what do I do for the next 6 hours?

So, I purchased a ticket for that 6pm showtime and did a little touring of the area, not going too far lest I get lost. An hour before showtime, I drive back into the parking lot with a sandwich and read the local newspaper. Then about 30 minutes before showtime, it started getting a bit crowded, and I went in.

It was nearly a full house with a bus from a local deaf school being there as well as a number of other deaf arriving from various locations in and around Cincinnati. After the movie 3 hours later, a lot of us started talking on the way out to our vehicles.

I didn't get home til a bit after midnight. It was worth it what with the long drive, wait, and movie time.

About a year later, I left home at 4am to drive to Detroit, MI, to be with someone to watch a captioned showing of Schindler's List.

Today, we just wait for the captioned show to come to the theatre near us, though some people from small towns may have to drive some distance.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

NEVER Give Out Your Password! (Part two)

A month ago, I posted this article, Give Out Your Password? NOT! NEVER! It's even more urgent and very important that you do not even give your password out to anyone, not even someone who claims to be your friend. Here's why;

Internet scammers target deaf community

The scam works exactly the same way in every time. They say you've won money or something like that. In reality, you haven't. The account of someone you know is compromised somehow and this person impersonates them. They'll IM everyone on the buddy list. Then this same person on a second account talks to you, and tells you to talk to your friend or your friend will talk to you.

This is your classic confidence or similar scheme.

How do you defend yourself? A good password not found in the dictionary that's at least 6 characters. That plus never giving out your password to anyone. Even better is to actually pay attention to how your "friend" is typing including use of capitals and lower case and English. There's a way to know if it's your friend or not;

- certain things only you and your friend know, change the details of them.
- Ask them about how their husband/wife is, but this time, use a completely different name.
- Ask if they're going to this imaginary event/movie next month with you.
- If the actual owner of the account has an illness, give a different name than what the illness is and ask them about it. For example, if they need surgery on their arm, ask about their broken leg.

If the person doesn't even make corrections to your 'mistakes'...


It works every time without failure.

Friday, September 12, 2008

9/11 Reflections

We, as a nation, including the world, will be remembering the 9/11 attacks. The question still pops up at times;

"Where were you that fateful day?"

I was still asleep, having spent part of the night doing some stuff on the computer. Vibrations from a neighbor's pounding on the front door woke me to let me know what was going on. It finally happened...

I turned on the TV... The Twin Towers fell after two planes were flown into it. The Pentagon had a plane flown into it. A fourth plane nosedived into a field in Shanksville, PA, after the passengers revolted against the hijackers.

I went into the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) and checked in with friends on there and in email. I didn't logoff til late that night. They were all safe, those I knew in NYC and two who worked at the Pentagon, despite some getting home very late if at all or stayed somewhere. The local metro still ran, but the Pentagon station was closed. Traffic out of DC was gridlock. The area's Kiss & Rides in Metro stations were madhouses of foot and vehicle traffic. Air traffic was grounded for nearly a week.

One year later, on personal business, I went to NYC. I made a side trip to the former WTC site. Limited traffic around the area was allowed, and media cameras didn't quite show everything. Some of the buildings still had some frontal damage.


Just yesterday, the Pentagon unveiled their memorial. I plan on visiting it sometime in the future.

Can we prevent another 9/11? Unfortunately, there's no one answer to that. More security at airports? Maybe not. Add on security and then some at bus and train stations? Going totally paranoid isn't going to do it either. Everyone needs to do their part rather than trusting the government and law enforcement for protection.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

NTID Laptop Thief Using Info?

Earlier today I got back from visiting the local Capital One bank. Yesterday, I had received an account opening statement from them which had the correct address, but wrong addressee. I took a look inside to find that it was an account that had been opened in someone else's name and SSN but the account opener used my address. It was dated a day or two after the theft.

After checking with some people, I found that the SSN and birth date did not belong to them. So, off to the Capital One location I went.

I talked with the bank people and they thanked me for bringing it to their attention. While I was there, the person talked with the fraud people and they said that there were over 100 accounts opened online recently. I gave him my name and SSN for them to place on a fraud alert watch so if the person tries to open an account with my info, it will not go through. I also put a fraud alert on my own bank account at another bank.

I don't think I'd have gotten this far had I used the relay. It was worth the gas and time to get there, a 35 mile round trip.

One thing of interest. It is a classic scheme to send things like this not to the person the information belongs to, but elsewhere in the same city, somewhere in the same state or another state. Then when nothing happens after a period of time, the person may then start using and abusing it.

So again, everyone, safeguard your personal information.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Give Out Your Password? NOT! NEVER!

There's some AIM screen names, most notably "powerball4real8," that are being used to scam more deaf out there. Watch also for any with "emerson" in it, like "pacemerson247" that kept getting others. This time it's of someone who is trying to ask you for your password to "open the briefcase" to get the person their money.

First, this is another variation of the Nigerian scam.

Second, this is a gross violation of your account security. Plenty of damage they can do with your account.

Third, it's against the TOS of any service out there to give out your password.

So in short, do NOT give out your password, no matter what. I made this mistake some years ago back in college and had it locked down shortly afterwards. Apparently, someone combined a bunch of files into one huge file and sent it to various people, including the system operators and, unbelievably, the head of operations! Needless to say, I had to do some explaining. I've even broken into a few accounts myself due to weak passwords and my knowing the person well.

Worse stuff can be done with more sensitive accounts. Again, do not give out your passwords. A password like cat-0cargo3 is quite difficult to brute-force crack. The longer your password, the longer it takes.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Textwalking, Textdriving, textwhatever...

Sherlock Steve has had some pretty good points when talking about texting while driving. The recent Washington Post article, Textwalkers: Do They Need A Heads-Up? talks about things like this including textwalking. There's even mention of laws being passed related to texting.

Folks, put down your pagers and just walk normally. You do not want to be in NYC or other city when you fall down the steps to a subway station while deep in a text convo... Same with driving, just pull over for a bit. It's not worth it being flattened by a speeding bus, truck, or train. I've seen the pics and they ain't pretty.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

NTID Reunion Recap

What a time at the reunion. I didn't want to leave, but I had to. Whoever plans them, keep doing so. They keep getting better every year. I'm hoping future gas prices will stabilize or at least be lower than how they were at the time, hovering around $4.15 a gallon. Where the artwork was, they had a slideshow of previous SVP events, with me being in one of them with my face covered with the result of a pie eating contest.

What tempered the reunion a bit was going without two old friends, James Sharer and Harold Tritt, both who died within 6 months of each other. That plus finding another old friend I couldn't find, had died also, Barbara Fallon. Steve Baier, James and Janet Byrne, Jamie Berke, and I attended Harold's funeral and burial. The art room also had a listing of those alumni who passed away.

The stage shows were pretty good. Our final time in the Panara theatre had a few surprises, with Robert Panara showing up as well as the staff tossing two cases of disposable film cameras out to the audience and Dr. Robert Davila briefly talking. We had CJ Jones and John Maucere bringing down the house. I had seen The Wrong Game for the second time, and they also showed a preview of the Dummy Hoy movie, "Signs of the Time" with the production staff answering questions.

The food was good, with the best time being Friday under the tent with a rather yummy ribs dinner with some other things. The weather pretty much cooperated, with it being sunny, and it did rain some.

Right before Jamie and I were to head to the airport, we found she had gotten a message on her SK saying Delta had cancelled our flight from Rochester to JFK airport. After a quick call, I managed to get our flight rescheduled from Rochester to Cincinnati, then to National Airport and still had a bit of time to kill at LBJ with someone.

Like I said, in all, it was a good time out there. I had to use my wheelchair what with all the standing around everyone was doing, though I parked and folded it in the wheelchair area in the theatre and moved to my seat. Sometimes it's better to join the audience...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Doctors and the relay - Hung up? - Part 2

Those of you who were following my previous post can relax. As it turns out, I went in today (Monday morning June 23) after they opened and talked to the front desk person. She took one look at my papers and computer records and realized that she had neglected to call me to reschedule. Since the doctor was there, they were able to get me in for a checkup of my knees and decide what to do next. He'll talk with his colleagues about what they're going to do next and get back to me. I'll give them a call or visit next week if I don't hear anything by then.

I also got an email response from the office manager stating that they will bring the up subject of using the relay in their next staff meeting.

Those of you wondering about interpreters, this office takes this sort of thing seriously, since it's a collection of offices in various locations. Normally, I don't have interpreters at a doctor appointment since I can communicate with them pretty well. What helps is learning what I've got, what I need to do, and what I'm facing, which helps in coming up with the right questions.

Now that was a rather good resolution, wouldn't you say?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Doctors and the relay - Hung up?

Has anyone had a doctor appointment seemingly be cancelled for no reason, and when you show up at the office, no one is there and you find out that the doctor's on vacation or something? Then when you check your emails, you see a collection of relay calls that you don't know who they're from, who called, and they're all hangups?

I sent this message to the Quality Management contact on the doctor webpage with some details removed;

Currently, my orthopedist is (doctorname) in the (location) office. Before I continue, let me introduce myself. You got my name from the headers of the message. I am a deaf patient in (town name) who uses hearing aids and lipreading to communicate with the doctor and front desk people. On my contact form can be found my home address, my phone number, and I believe my email address. This phone number is a relay number that goes directly to my instant messenger account where I communicate with the caller.

Approximately 3 months ago, I had hyaluronic acid injections in both knees and had an appointment scheduled for June 19 at 11am. Unfortunately, the office was closed when I showed up, When I used the relay to call the office, I got an answering machine that stated that the office was closed. I then called (another office called) and found that the (my doctor office location) office was closed due to the doctor being on vacation.

The problem here is at least twofold. First, this appointment was to determine what course of action would happen next if it would be knee surgery (total knee replacements) or something different. Second, I have at times received relay calls that don't even say who called or what number called. Here's one of those messages;

Subject: Missed call from Unknown Caller


Instead of a message left, I have no idea who just called and for what reason. I currently have a listing of a number of "Unknown Caller" emails in my inbox. While calling a relay number sounds like a marketing call when the operator answers and makes a connection with me, it is actually a valuable communications tool for many deaf people out there who would otherwise be dependent on a hearing person to make those calls for them. This caller could have at least sent me notification via regular mail or email since all this is on my contact info sheet.

You can see how much trouble this has caused me. I do not want to have to wait months later for another appointment when my knees are in more need of help than anything else. I deserve an immediate new appointment given the seriousness of my condition.


Has anyone else had this kind of issue with a doctor or someone in the office who tends to just hang up and not even try to make any more contact with you? What was your course of action?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Forget the DC Tax Scam. We Got An Interpreter Scam.

Never mind it being Friday the 13th today... The Washington Post Metro section had a story about an embezzlement case involving the local community college. What upset me was finding that the former coordinator of interpreters for the deaf was involved as well as one of the interpreters, and I knew Mark Kreidler from when I attended and worked with him on getting interpreters for my classes. A bit more upsetting is that I was going to use him as a reference...

The DC tax scam ran for around several years and cost DC at least $20 million dollars. (use keywords dc tax scam on Google or the Post)

I'm disappointed in you, Mark Kreidler. You may have caused damage to the jobs of other interpreter coordinators and interpreters around the nation. Your position involved more than just the trust of deaf students attending the college.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The 'Wrong Game' Review

A couple weeks ago, I was with Jamie Berke to watch The Wrong Game at Gallaudet's Foster Auditorium. Little did we know we'd be sharing the campus with a festival and what looked to be a basketball game. The movie itself was quite good, the first time we've watched a full-length ASL/signed movie. The first thing I'd noticed was no sound. Next thing I noticed was that it had no captions/subtitles for those who don't sign well or at all. Not a problem there.

All through the movie, I noticed little elements from other movies and books here and there. It's rather difficult to list them, but suffice it to say that some major elements seem to have been taken from the SAW movie series. Namely, people being stuck in a room and having to do something in order to exit a maze or room. Even though the movie was low-budget, you know they had to fake, but otherwise their acting 'told' you what was going on. Very little blood and gore was used, with the most being in the Lion's Den when a character put his arm into one of the lion's mouths on the wall... Hardly a gush by Hollywood standards.

Other elements I'd noticed came from books I'd read over the years, a little Hitchcock here, a little Stephen King there, and a few other things here and there. Some of the props and scenes were made to look even more scary and menacing by the use of spiders and snakes. It was interesting seeing Bernard Bragg, both in one of the pre-show ads and in the movie.

Whatever questions I had through the movie were answered at the end. The signing was clear, although with the "old man" character in the attic with the blue gloves was a little hard to understand what with the dark gloves color against a dark background. The camera tricks were pretty well-done as well.

No spoilers here for those who haven't seen it. Let's just say the ending was quite interesting.

Move over, Hollywood... There's a new player in town and it's called Deaf Cinema.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Designer Babies or Borgs? Deaf or Not?

I was reading up on the UK controversy regarding IVF and deaf embryos on i711's The Deaf Embryo Debate post and a few more on USA-L News. Here, it's more a question of ethics. Others have asked why are we trying to play God? This question has often been in forum- and list-demolishing abortion debates.

First, a little science fiction. How many of us are familiar with the Star Trek character called the Borg? Borg history is here - http://memory-alpha.org/en/wiki/Borg_history

"We are Borg. Resistance is futile."

Then on Jamie Berke's blog, Deaf IVF Embryos, Natural Deaf Babies, and Choices, I made a comment about the Borg and what keeps us from getting to the point where we're more machine than human.

"You will be assimilated."

When she said she was going to post about the UK controversy, something came to mind related to the Borg. What's to stop us from getting to the point where we're more Borg/machine than human or being born that way? Voyager had a scene where an away team beamed onto a Borg cube open a nursery ‘drawer’ that had a baby inside with Borg implants. This would be the "maturation chamber" shown in Voyager's Mortal Coil episode (season 4, episode 12). It seems Voyager had at least a point in asking indirectly where we will stop when we actually make a Borg. Then the question will be when being human stops and when being Borg starts.

"Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own."

What's to stop our "Borg-ed" offspring from "assimilating" others? Yes, I know it's science fiction, but even then, sci-fi has a way of coming true. Science has created nanomachines.

There was a book I remember reading where this doctor 'modifies' embryo genes so that the kid doesn't grow up to become an alcoholic or something like that. What's to stop that from happening so that deafness and other diseases are 'edited' out of the genes and 'perfect' humans are born? Some other TV show episodes have gone down this path. Historically, cultures have killed, hidden, or limited those with certain disabilities.

Think of what the total cost would be when IVF combines with embryo implantation and/or gene modification. A rich person's procedure. Something only done in sci-fi. Could it happen today or is it already happening?

What's stopping us from creating "the perfect baby and/or human" without illness or disability?

"Your culture will adapt to serve us. Resistance is futile."

Now that's Borg perfection!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

You Can Use VP Without a TV!

Have you ever wanted to connect your VP to something other than a TV? Some of you have probably hooked it up to an external standalone recording device with some success. You can hook it up to your computer with the right TV card.

Most TV cards can handle this if they use the same kind of push-in plugs the VPs use. It's best to read your manual before you do this. Even I, a techie person, have to read manuals...

I have an older All In Wonder Radeon analog video card. It has external cables which allow you to use your TV as a display display as accept input from the VP plugs and the regular cable plugs. From there, the VP can be used normally provided the right drivers and utilities are downloaded and installed.

Look around for any good analog or digital video card that allows you to use the VP cables with them. Follow your card's manual to determine how to properly set everything up and record. You may need a few gigs of hard drive space free. I've transferred things from VHS. The files are normally in AVI or MPEG format. I then converted them to DVD format and then burned to DVD. This eats up a lot of processing power and hard drive space as well as time.

Your best bet is to use AVI2DVD for the conversion and Nero to burn. If you want to view the DVD/movie you just made, use Media Player Classic. I've used it often to watch regular subtitled movies. For viewing movies with captioning, there's a few good ones, including Cyberlink.

Here's a few places to go for video help. There's more, but these three should help get you started.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Of CIs and HAs

I just had to start out this blog with a title like this, since for some reason, John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" came to mind. I've not yet read the book which is a classic often read by literature students.

I've been following the battles of those for and against cochlear implants including Tuscany mom's Re: Ci Controversial, Why? post. Both hearing aids and CIs do the same thing, amplify sound to an extent and pipe/send it to the ear. Even removed, the user still has a hearing loss. I'm wondering just what's on the parent's minds when they have their very young children implanted? Is it that they can't seem to stand the thought or the shame of their child growing up without sound to an extent? Is it that they can't seem to fathom the kid spending more time with other deaf than hearing?

What's really on their minds when they go for a CI at such a young age? Why are the doctors pushing so hard for them to have it? Is it financial reasons for them as well as the companies? The decision to have the implant should come from the future implantee.

I've often told people that with those with hearing losses, that hearing and understanding can be two different things. Just because something is heard if at all doesn't mean it will be understood or known. Too many hearing people seem to not understand this little factoid. It's kinda hard to lipread a telephone.

When I lived in Louisville, KY, I was interviewed on this. If you read the article, A Sound Barrier of Another Sort, you'll see that I've foreseen a few things mentioned. Unfortunately, it's not archived on the newspaper site.

I've pretty much got a "grandstand" view if not an "onstage" view of Jamie Berke going through the process and procedure. It's fascinating watching the healing process and then going from there. I'll let her do the writing about it. Fortunately, I'm still alive since I didn't take a post-surgical picture of her. It was her decision. I didn't make it for her. I told her if she went with nothing, hearing aids, or a CI, I would go along with her decision.

Just because she got a CI doesn't mean she's an audist or she can't do her job on about.com. Far from it. She's still using sign and interpreters. She's still the same person we've all known, with or without CI and/or hearing aids. Too many people just throw around the word without really knowing what it means.

Will I get a CI? Hearing aids still work well for me. Ask me again later.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Deaf College Students Without Support Services

As a college student myself, it's hard enough going back to classes after some time. But when you find you have to rely on other students to help out in getting notes, you risk getting a student who does not take good notes. While it's good to have an interpreter, it's even better when you have one who reads the course text(s) and sometimes actually tries to do the course work at home.

But what about students at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, who have transcribing services? This is a difficult enough thing to do at times, especially when you have fast-talking instructors and those who sometimes turn their classroom into Comedy Central.

Check this article;

Dispute between transcribers and CWU leaves deaf, hard of hearing students without key support

Can a college's disabilities services office do without a transcription service? Can deaf students use the Powerpoint slides and the course book(s) including what the teacher writes on the board? There are times when you don't need to know every single word the instructor says, just the important things and make notes of that. with the exception of classes like math. There are carbonless notebooks that that are great for notes. When one writes on one sheet, the writing appears on the sheet underneath it.

What kind of support services do you look for in a college other than interpreters? One must remember that the Typewell program used at CWU is different than CART.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Repairing a Sidekick II

Anyone have two Sidekick IIs that work to an extent? I had an SK2 with a working unit but bad screen and another with a bad unit and good working screen. In this case, you need a T6 torx screwdriver and a place to keep the screws. Avoid the hex drivers, as they won't do the job. They will damage the screw heads and make it nearly impossible to remove. Finding the T6s may be difficult, though I found mine at a local computer store. Ebay will have them, but you may not find them at your local hardware store. If your SKII is still under warranty, this will most likely void it. So, do this at your own risk.

Most importantly, make sure the units are turned off.

Remove the four buttons on the four corners of the unit. Remove the screws underneath.

Open up the screen halfway to reveal two screws and remove those. These two hold down the screen turning unit.

Carefully remove the upper and lower bumpers, making note of how they went on. Remove the SIM card as well. Make note of which SIM card you normally use in a working SK and keep it separate from other SIM card(s).

You should now be able to carefully pop off the upper part from the lower part. Be careful of the screen assembly, as it can fall off. Put aside the lower part and carefully remove the screen from the upper part.

Now put it back together, screwing in the screen assembly first. You should be able to turn it on test it a bit. If all goes well and you can turn it on and use it, you've done a good job. Now turn it off and put the rest of the screws and buttons back on.

Repairing the bad unit yourself may be more a hassle due to all the tiny electronic parts in there. There's not much in the way of parts you can use except for the little vibrator motor on the upper left corner in the lower unit half under the circuit board. There's a lot of tiny surface mount parts including LEDs under the keyboard and other places.

I've not done this yet with an SK3 or SK ID. Remember to do this at your own risk. I can't take responsibility for mistakes if you do it wrong.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fire In The Mouth!

Seek Geo's Harry Potter Jelly Beans: Weird Flavors and HP Jelly Beans: Weird Flavors Part Two vlog entries nearly had me on the floor when he tasted the candies. I'll have to try them sometime.

His reactions reminded me of when I was out in San Diego at a costuming convention a few years ago and heard about a place called University Chicken before I went. They have something called the 911 Challenge, but it's not on the menu. You have to ask for it. Before they even make it for you, you have to sign a waiver saying you're not going to sue them for anything, etc. It's a rather hilarious thing to read. Then when they serve it to you, you have 10 minutes to eat 12 wings. You have nothing to drink and no napkins.

We're talking hot stuff. I barely finished with a few seconds left. My face and nose were red, nose and eyes were running, and tongue was on fire. Halfway there, it was getting hot, and then with the last three, whoa... I just kept going, ignoring the heat and then some. I don't even remember anyone taking flash pics of me or the entire store cheering me on since I was so focused on eating them.

My prize? A tshirt mentioning what I did and my picture on the wall. They were talking about it all during the convention, even bringing it up during a puppet show at one point, even after the con in some chatrooms and forums. They were teasing me about it here and there. "You're still alive?" "Can you still talk and taste?" "Can you still eat?"

I could probably do it again, but next time I want to enjoy the food there than try to make my mouth flame out.

You know when something goes in hot, it will come out hot? The next morning...


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

AOL Releases Real-Time IMing for the Deaf!

Just came across this article;

AOL Launches Real-Time Instant Messaging Targeted to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Users

What does this mean for us? It means that rather than waiting for the other person to finish typing SEND or ENTER to send the entire message, we can see everything the person types just like on a TTY!

No more waiting for the other person! Real-time communications! Whoo-hoo! We need that!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Deaf Scams via AIM

Did anyone get an AIM message from someone claiming to be an FBI agent, law enforcement officer, etc? It most likely is a scam. They will often offer you something like this if you work for them online;

- cash every month or week, usually nearly $1,000
- a new vehicle
- pay for vehicle registration, typically a few hundred
- have you fill out an application which most likely you will send to a completely different address

They may say something about helping other deaf. Don't fall for this scam. You will most likely lose money and be a victim of ID theft. Report it to the people they were trying to fraudulently represent.

One other IM scam I've heard about is how the FBI IMs the so-called victims. Maybe the FBI/law enforcement does this from time to time when the victim requests but a lot of the time from what I've seen, they'll use snail mail or the phone. However, when one receives an IM from the "FBI," let them make the first moves. They should have all your info in front of them including your case number and related information.

My own experiences almost exactly mirror Dianarez's experience in her Scamming Deaf via Sidekick blog post. In my case, this other person tried to impersonate a police chief in Ohio. They were very interested in knowing who this person was when I contacted them. If you see ddaservice on AIM, that's the person. Another time it was a business.

One way they get your info is via DeafVP. That's a scammer's paradise right there since all IM info is out in the open. Make it so they have to email you for the info, like I do. When I removed my info, the IMs from them stopped.

Update 3/24/2009:

When posting chat logs anywhere, change your AIM name to something like [name_removed], and remove your personal info with [personal_info_removed]. This way, you're protecting yourself from worse things like ID theft.

Let's get this powerball4real8 idiot OFF the air!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Oops! I did a Faux Pas Again!

I had to laugh when I read this blog entry back in October and it reminded me of some other things.

Mind Your P’s and Q’s, Or in This Case: D’s and H’s

Those of us who tend to alternate between the hearing and the deaf worlds usually know what they shouldn't do, but now and then a foulup will happen.

Sure, we've all had to make relay calls. The post comments about how some hearing people are so rude to the point of voicing that they have a deaf person on the phone or something. I was job searching awhile ago, there was this receptionist who said "This is a place of business." I told them why I was calling, and then she sighed and directed my call to the right person. Heck, maybe I should have said "...and I'm a job seeker, so what's your point?" Another friend's dad said the relay calls were slow, and that's pretty much the truth. Hearing people can have 5 minute calls. A relay call like this could last as long as 30 minutes. "S" *pause* "L" *pause* "O" *long pause* "W" he said.

Another call I made before IPRelay and the 800 numbers, though each state had their own 800 number. I called this craft store not once, but twice, each time getting a hangup after they say something like "I'm with a customer!" or something quite rude. I had to type to the operator that I was seriously considering going out there and straightening them out. The operator's response? "GO FOR IT!"

But of course squeaky hearing aids are as equally irritating. At one point in high school, I had a crack in the tubing leading to my earmold. During the *ENTIRE* history class, it whistled. It wasn't til the end of class when the interpreter told me about it. Then there's the other funny moments I mentioned in my Growing Up Deaf posts.

I worked at this now-gone candy bar manufacturer in the office as part of coop years ago. Since I couldn't hear the monitor beeping which indicated a program just started running, someone made a poster with "beepbeepbeepbeep" on it. Then every time it beeped, they'd knock on the glass walls and show me the poster and I'd go from there. I think I still have it somewhere. Another thing I'd occasionally do is make like a speakerphone call to that person on the other side of the window, so all they had to do was nod or shake their head for yes or no.

I've probably forgotten a few things... I'll remember them.