From Eggs to Conspiracies

One Handed Egg Cracking

Can you crack an egg and dispose its shell using only one hand? If you answered “no” I bet you are in the majority. I know I have never learned to do it. I asked my wife, Karen, if she could crack an egg and get rid of its shell with one hand and she answered that she had seen it done, but that she could not do it.

So, what does  cracking an egg one-handed have to do with anything? I have never seen it done, but I have heard some people, including some famous chefs, say they could do it. While I have never seen it done I believe it is possible. I have determined that it is possible to shell an egg with one hand after, if you will, examining many sources. Perhaps someday I will even learn to do it. Meantime I do not doubt the efficacy of performing the task. I do not believe there is a conspiracy to fool me and others who have not seen or cannot see it done.

On the other hand, today we have conspiracy theorists crawling out of the woodwork telling us that Covid-19 is a hoax and that we should “liberate” our country from the fakers who are denying us our rights. These people and their rantings remind me of the time after September 11, 2001 when some said that the whole terrorist attack thing was a fake and that it was only our own government that perpetrated a fraud on all of us by destroying the World Trade Center and partially destroying the pentagon. Personally, I have never heard the conspiracy crowd explain the crash of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, but I am sure they are talking about it somewhere.

The radical WTC conspiracy groups have created many scenarios to “actually explain what happened that day”. There is even a physicist with a PHD who claims it all happened due to microwaves sent by the government destroying the infrastructure and collapsing the towers. Balderdash. That physicist needs to go back and get some lessons in reality. I am not going to debunk “theories” here although I have my own advanced Physics degree. Instead let me say that unlike the conspiracy creatures I WAS THERE AND EXPERIENCED IT ALL! I heard the sound as the aircraft hit Tower One. I felt the building as it moved and then returned to its upright position. I felt the building drop several feet as the expansion joints returned to their normal configuration. I smelled the aviation fuel while descending the stairs and I encountered burn victims on the way down. Finally, I was close by and ran as Tower Two collapsed.

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Taking Control Of Your Life

Taking Control Of Your Life

First things first. So, I committed to create a newsletter every month to discuss issues and to stay connected. March was a busy time for us here at home as it was, I am sure, for all of you. While my wife, Karen the quilter, has begun creating masks and undertaking other sewing project I have become the main cook and bottle-washer. I do a lot of the cooking anyway, but now I am adding new cooking adventures to my repertoire  as well as resurrecting some old ones. For example, I’ll take my Chex Mix over the commercial offering any day. 😊

Needless to say, speaking trips have dropped to zero during the Covid-19 crisis. I have begun conducting virtual sessions about issues of interest to all of you. Two weeks ago, I put up a Facebook post discussing my idea of doing webinars and informed my Facebook friends that I did not wish to just start discussing what I thought would be of interest. Instead I wanted posters to ask me questions that I could discuss with everyone. Here is a link to our first offering, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkZNtoEmfds. This one was an experiment from which we learned a lot. My webmaster and all-around expert, David McKinney has now researched and lectured me on such things as lighting which will make future offerings much better. Since I am sensitive to the needs of those of you who are light dependent we will make visual improvements before our next webinar. Stay tuned.

The first webinar dealt with TAKING CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE. I hope it gives you some good thoughts and ideas.

I would like to hear from you about what I can best do to help and inspire you during our stay-at-home period. I believe this will last until at least the end of May and possibly beyond. So, please send me your thoughts about future webinars and other ways I may be of help to you.

I will work to update you again next week as we finalize plans for webinar II. Meantime, stay well, stay safe, and if possible stay home. Give extra love to your families and friends as well as your pets. That love will be returned a thousand-fold.

Lessons Of September 11, 2001

Michael Hingson Visits 9/11 Memorial in NTC

On September 11, 2019 we observed the 18th anniversary of the terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center, the pentagon and the thwarted attack resulting in an aircraft crash in Shanksville Pennsylvania. Around that time, I had my first phone interview about my experiences from that day with Mike Ramsey, news director of KFMO Radio. You may hear the interview here, 

I have been thinking a lot this year about that day especially in the light of all the divisiveness and outright deliberate misinformation being spread by politicians.  Possibly more than usual, I have been pondering what lessons we should take away from the events of September 11, 2001: lessons we seem not to have learned or at least lessons we are not putting into practice. I speak often about the takeaway lessons from 18 years ago, and I want to share some of my thoughts with you. 

Lesson 1, Teamwork. 

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” 

Michael Jordan 

Let’s get the problem child out of the way first. If we are going to talk about teamwork, think of how 19 subhuman evil terrorists worked together as a team to stop the world for a bit. One cannot deny this fact. Even creatures like those who perpetrated the attacks can get lucky once or twice, but…  

With that in mind think of all the teamwork that went into the search and rescue efforts by the amazing first responders in New York, Washington and even in Pennsylvania. So many worked together to help show us the way to recover from the horror of the attacks. Thousands of people, men and women selflessly worked together to lead our rebuilding programs both in a physical way as well as a reorientation of our shocked mental psyche. 

Because so many people worked together supporting all of us we were able to move on. As a country and mostly as humans we felt a sense of unity and comradery rarely experienced. I think there was a spirit in this country somewhat like what people must have felt during World War II when everyone here was committed to do all they could to support our troops overseas and each other. 

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“Now Therefore Be It Resolved…”

S.M.A.R.T Goal Setting

Every year as I attend the National and various state conventions of the National Federation of the Blind I hear these words within each resolution that the organization considers. Around this time of year, I, like you, hear various discussions about those dreaded New Years resolutions. Dreaded because, as so many remind us, most resolutions will be made on one day with all the fervor and passion we have within us and, as soon as the new year begins, we shall fail to carry out a single one.

Why is that. Many pundits will tell us their own views on this question. Lots of them, many motivation experts, psychologists and others will even have correct answers as to why we do not follow through on our commitments. So yes, here I am with my observations which I hope will help and enlighten you a bit. I am sure much of what I will say may be familiar, but hopefully I will present my thoughts in a way that may stick with some of you more than what you have heard before. Besides, I have some challenges for you which I will present later.

I think the answer begins with a real incentive or lack of it. So, you make a resolution, but why should you carry it out? Where is the substantive motivation that would drive you to follow through? Most people have lofty goals like those I heard on New Years eve when Karen and I went to dinner at our local country club. We go there every year because we can walk to the club from our house and thus we don’t have to drive. After dinner a DJ set up ready to help us dance the night away, but first he went around the room and asked each person to tell their resolutions. I heard the usual things like “I am going to have a better life”, “I am going to lose weight”, “I’m going to make more friends” and my favorite “I am going to make 2020 better than 2019”. No way any of these resolutions will last. Do you know why?

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Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings – Michael Hingson and Roselle

I am a collector of classic radio shows from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.  If you are not familiar with the genre, it’s the entertainment that was in wide use before the invention of television.  Old-time radio is especially fun because it forces you to use your imagination unlike television which usually spells out everything.  I also enjoy old movies, especially at Christmas time.

Last week I listened to a radio dramatization of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas,” inspiring me to seek out the movie version.  In one scene, Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney cannot sleep and find themselves alone together in the middle of the night talking about their reasons why they aren’t sleeping. Bing tells Rosemary that his way to fall asleep is to count his blessings instead of sheep, and then as happens in these movies he sings a song to her entitled “Count your Blessings.”

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The Dog Who Could

Close Up Portrait of Fantasia Two Months After Her First Litter - August 2006
Fantasia Two Months After Her First Litter – August 2006

Someone once said that God made a mistake when he created dogs because their lives end too quickly. It was June 27, 2011 when I sat in front of my computer to write down my thoughts concerning the previous day’s passing of my hero guide dog, Roselle, who escaped with me from the 78th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Roselle was not the first guide dog or pet I’ve had that I would call a hero or exceptional friend, but she was and is the most famous.

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The Right To Live In The World

Businessman putting a card with text Job offer in the pocket
Businessman putting a card with text Job offer in the pocket

Today I received a notice that I was tagged in a Facebook post from @bettyFord concerning a job posting for the @UniversityArkansas. The job is entitled Access Coordinator. The job description in part says, “The Access Coordinator will facilitate access to the academic programs, services, activities, and facilities of the institution for students with disabilities.”

This job sounds innocuous enough. The university wants someone to help, in various ways, to provide and coordinate services for students with disabilities throughout the university. However, if one reads further in the job description they would find this: “Employee is required to have close visual acuity to perform an activity such as: preparing and analyzing data and figures; transcribing; viewing a computer terminal; extensive reading; and/or visual inspection at distances close to the eyes.”.

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2019 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind Review

NFB Logo
NFB Logo

I want to reach out and tell you of my experiences at the recent 2019 National convention of the National Federation of the Blind. For me it was a great opportunity to again be part of the @Aira experience and to be with over 3,300 blind people to discuss the issues facing blind and low vision people today.

I had the chance to catch up with many friends and colleagues. One of my relatively new favorite friends is @EricBurton. I met Eric last year through Aira. For years, after losing his eyesight Eric sat on a couch believing that his life was a thing of the past. When he discovered #Aira everything changed.

It is a beautiful thing to see Eric blossom and evolve into a productive and quite incredible testimony to the fact that, as Mark Riccobono the president of the National Federation of the Blind says, “Blindness is not what holds you back”.  Check out Eric’s web site at http://www.elburton.com. He is an inspiration to us all.

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Do More Foundation

Do More Foundation Logo

A Further Way Aira is beginning to work to address the issue of the cost of its service comes through the formation of a nonprofit organization called the Do More foundation. Recently I have been asked to accept the position of donor relations within the foundation to help it secure funding. Our initial effort will be to secure funds to help cities and other public facilities establish Aira access within their borders. It would be great, for example, if any blind person could go visit any city public building and travel independently to any office with Aira and not have to pay for the service because the service was subsidized by the city with the help of the Do More foundation. How about visiting public libraries? How about visiting city parks or even going to the county fair and having full access to Aira? These are all the immediate kinds of things we will be working to make happen with the help of the foundation. You can learn more about the foundation by visiting http://domore.io. Continue reading

Aira & Aira Access

Aira
 
I am saving the best new open window for last. In March 2015 I received an email from Larry Bock, a gentleman who said that he was representing a company called Aira tech Corp. As he explained it, Aira was a new company that had developed a unique and innovative product for blind people. The product consisted of smart glasses with a high resolution live streaming camera built into them, an app that would run on any smart phone and live agents around the country. Continue reading