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.”
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.
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?
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
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.”
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.
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.”.
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.
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 →
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 →
It has been a few years since I have corresponded with all of you through my newsletter from the Michael Hingson Group. There is a lot of truth to Alexander Graham Bell’s adage that “when a door closes a window opens”. Even when a door doesn’t close more than one window can open. The cross ventilation can stir up all sorts of challenges which one must address in one way or another. Let me take a moment to catch you up.
2014 my wife, Karen, became critically ill. We posted on Facebook about this and in one of my last newsletters we also discussed it. Karen recovered. At the urgings of our family we relocated from northern California to the Southland and rented an apartment in Victorville California. We never thought that we would be back so close to the areas where both of us grew up. However, sometimes things just happen, but usually for the right reasons. Continue reading →
AT&T has partnered with Aira.io in the #experiencemore campaign. Here’s a short video to check out.
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