Friday, March 6, 2015

An Open Letter to Governor Larry Hogan

I have posted many times about the challenges that my wife and I have faced with raising a son with autism.  He has been attending his current school for a little more than 5 years now and graduates in June.  Upon graduation, we had hopes of getting him into a group home situation.  We feel this would be the best situation for him to continue the progress he has made at his school.  Whenever he comes home for a visit, he tends to regress.  For this reason, we believe that an extended stay at home after graduation would be detrimental to his continued development.

We have been working with various agencies to try to accomplish the goal of getting him funding for a group home.  A few days ago, we received a letter from the Developmental Disabilities Administration in Maryland with news.  The letter stated that our son was classified in the greatest need for funding.  That was the good news.  The bad news is that there is no funding currently available.  On the advice of his transitional coordinator at school, I have written to our Governor expressing the need for additional funding for the disabled community. 

I have posted that communication below.  Similar communications will be sent to my state Senator and Delegates.



Governor Hogan,

I voted for you in the last election, and now could use your help.  I am writing in regards to my 20 year old son who has autism.  Currently, he attends school at the Benedictine School for Exceptional Children in Ridgely, MD.  He has been a student there for the past 5 years and graduates in June.

Our hope is that he would be able to get funding to enter a residential program through DDA upon graduation.  He has been classified in the Crisis Resolution category as having the greatest need for services but that funding was not available and would have to be put on a waiting list.

Sending our son to live at the Benedictine School was one of the hardest things we ever had to do.  However, it was the best thing for our son.  He has made so much progress in their program.  Unfortunately, when he is at home, he tends to regress.  If he were to have to move home until funding is available for a residential program it would be detrimental to his well being.

Governor Hogan, it is for this reason that I write to you.  I am asking that you and the state legislature to provide adequate funding so that the DDA can provide the services that my son, and other members of the community with disabilities can get the services they need.  Thank you for your consideration.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Differences Between Beach and Indoor Volleyball


Several people play volleyball for fun, exercise, and to make friends. Pick up games are constantly happening for interested individuals. All you need is some basic equipment from All Volleyball. Then, you can decide whether you prefer to play at the beach or indoors. Both options are fun, and many people play at both venues. However, there are key differences between beach volleyball and indoor volleyball. Before you join a game, it is important to understand how each game is played.

Balls

You need different balls to play indoors and at the beach. The indoor volleyballs are heavier and made of leather. They are designed to be more powerful and move quicker around the court. Beach volleyballs are lighter and softer than the balls used indoors. They are also a little bit bigger. The lighter weight helps the ball float in the outdoor air, and it can benefit the players in specific weather conditions.

Court Sizes

The size of the court is different for outdoor and indoor volleyball games. Indoor courts are larger, and there is a line of attack that the back row players cannot cross during the game. Beach volleyball courts are smaller, and they do not have the attack line. Instead, a player can hit the ball from anywhere on the court.

Players

Each team is allotted a specific amount of players during a volleyball game. When the game is held indoors, six players are aloud on the court at a time. All of these players have a certain position, and they usually rotate to their spots during the game. Typically, beach volleyball is played in pairs or doubles. The two players do not necessarily have positions. Instead, one stays on the left and the other stays on the right.

Scoring

Scoring is important in any game because it indicates which team wins. In volleyball, scoring can be confusing if you do not understand the rules. During indoor games, the best of five sets wins. To win a set, the team has to score 25 points first. If a fifth set is necessary, the first team to 15 points wins. Beach volleyball involves fewer sets, usually because there are more rallies. Teams play best of three. The first two sets are played to 21 points, and the last set is played to 15 points. For both indoor and outdoor volleyball, a team must win a set by two points.


These are the basic differences between beach and indoor volleyball. Now that you understand the differences, you can join a pick up game in your area. You will love meeting new friends and getting some exercise.

Monday, December 29, 2014

No Snacks For You

English: Snack Machine
English: Snack Machine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The other day, I was browsing through some of email news alerts that I subscribe to at work.  These alerts are usually related to the retail industry, with a heavy emphasis on the convenience store industry.  I was going to delete most of the emails, but one of the articles caught my eye and I had to check it out further.

The article was about a new vending machine that they have developed in Europe.  This vending machine uses facial recognition and can detect your age, build, and mood.  It will then go through a series of calculations, including past purchases, before the machine decides whether or not to allow you to complete the purchase.  So if you are stress eating your 4th Snickers bar of the day, good luck.  It also has the capability to tie into your medical records in the approval process.

This disturbs me on so many levels.  I know junk food is bad for me but sometimes I just need, no, want a Reese's Peanut Butter cup.  The machine doesn't have any idea what I have had to eat that day so how can it make an educated guess as to whether or not to sell me the product?  I might not even be buying the product for me.  Perhaps my son or a friend is with me and I am treating them to a snack.

Let's also talk about the fact that the machine has the potential to tie into my medical records.  That just blows my mind.  There are somethings that nobody should have access and medical records is one of those.  That info should only be accessible by me, my doctor, and my insurer.  I would not trust that the info would be safe from other eyes that have no business seeing it.

Of course my geeky side thinks that the technology is very neat.  However, that doesn't override in the least the objections I would have about it.  Way too much Big Brother for my liking.  I'd like to know what others think about it.  Would you want a soulless machine to deny you a snack because it doesn't like the look on your face when you try to make the purchase or would you like a machine making decisions for you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Office Christmas Party

Christmas in the post-War United States
Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I really feel bad that I have neglected this blog for so long.  I am making it my goal to try to keep this updated a couple times a week starting with this post.

Today was the day for my office Christmas party.  It wasn't going to be a major affair.  Just lunch and for those that wanted to participate some games and a gift exchange.  Typically, I do not look forward to these affairs.  My plan was to go to the party, sit with a couple friends, grab a bite to eat, and quietly watch the festivities.

I consider myself to be quite the introvert.  So much so that if you look it up in the dictionary you just might find my picture.  As an introvert, I tend to dislike being put in social situations that make me uncomfortable or anxious.  Even at church, I hate the dreaded "greet your neighbor" portion of the service.  Today ended up being one of those situations.  When I get forced into one of those situations, I tend to withdraw and am easily agitated.

It takes me a while to get comfortable around most people.  Once I do, I can be very friendly and talkative.  Until I reach that point, however, I tend to clam up and not say a whole lot.  When I arrived at the party today, I was handed a label with a picture from a Christmas movie.  I was told that there was assigned seating and we had to sit at the table that corresponded to the label I was given.  The idea was to force people to mingle with people that they wouldn't normally sit with.  That was strike one.

Normally, I get to the office pretty early, usually an hour and a half to two hours before everyone else arrives.  Since I get to work so early, I also eat lunch earlier than most, usually around noon.  Today's party was supposed to start around 1 pm so I was already hungry when I arrived.  It took a while for everyone to arrive.  Then there were the speeches from the bosses.  They didn't want everybody to flood the small buffet line, so they sent one table at a time to the line.  So even though my table was closest to the buffet line, we went last.  It was nearly 2 pm before we got to the line. Strike two.

I grabbed a paper plate and plastic cutlery and got in line.  Whoever was responsible for ordering the food didn't do a very good job.  When I got to the front of the line, there wasn't a whole lot to choose from.  The vegetables did not look appetizing at all.  The ham looked very dry, and you really couldn't get anything from it as all the slices were gone and there was nobody to slice more and no knife to cut it.  The chicken was gone.  That was strike three for me.  I left without eating, went back to my desk, and finished up my day.

From what I hear, I didn't miss a whole lot.  My best friend in the office told me the food wasn't very good.  And my observation about the ham being dry was accurate.  I wish that I could feel more comfortable in these situations.  Unfortunately, like Popeye, "I yam what I yam."  Even to this day, after 23 years of marriage to my wife, I still am uncomfortable when all her aunts, uncles, and cousins are at events.  I'd say maybe someday, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Easy Tips for Home Safety

Burglaries are one of the most common crimes in America with one occurring approximately every 15 seconds. However, a homeowner can do much to decrease intruders' interest in the home, to make the home difficult to break into, and to keep people and belongings safe should a break-in occur. Each of these tips is easy and inexpensive to implement.

First, homeowners must beware of leaving certain items outside that unintentionally lure intruders onto the premises. For example, burglars are attracted to expensive items on the property, such as scooters, bicycles, lawnmowers and power tools that are outside and easy to steal. Having motion detector lights installed around key entry points such as the garage or using landscaping lights around trees and bushes will make intruders less likely to creep around the house.

Second, homeowners must take special care to secure their property when on vacation. Timers can turn lights, radios and televisions each day at specified times. A trusted neighbor should be notified to keep a watchful eye on the premises when the homeowner is going out of town. In addition, vacationers should have their mail put on hold.

Thirdly, homeowners can make it difficult for burglars to get into their homes should they make it onto the property. Of course, keeping doors and windows locked when away and at night is a necessity. Outside doors and doors between the house and the garage should be installed with steel deadbolts and strike plates. Sliding patio doors can be easily lifted from their tracks by burglars; therefore, these should be secured with strong rods or dowels in the tracks as well as locks.

Finally, homeowners should use a home security system and have it monitored by a reputable company, such as Alarm Relay. These systems will notify the alarm Monitoring company if a door or window is breached or if motion is detected; these systems can also monitor for smoke or fire. The company will then notify police or the fire department in case of emergencies.

Homeowners can take a variety of easy steps to secure their properties from intruders and burglars. Making sure that doors and windows are locked each day is just the first step in home safety. Security monitoring companies help in this endeavor by having dispatchers on alert 24 hours a day to notify the authorities in case of a problem.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Crying Wolf...or in this case Racism

I confess.  I am a white man who grew up in America.  I make no apologies for it.  The reason I bring up my race is that I had a little run in on Facebook recently with one of my friends, who happens to be an African-American woman, who I went to high school with.  If you have read this blog before, then you know that I am a dyed in the wool conservative.  My former classmate, a liberal.

I wouldn't go so far as to say that my former classmate and I were close friends back in high school, but it was cordial.  We reconnected a few years ago on Facebook.  I can't recall who sent the initial friend request through Facebook, but needless to say we did reconnect.  The last time that I saw here was at the funeral of our mutual friend David Mills, who was also an African American liberal, not that it matters.

Our little run in occurred when she posted a link on Facebook with the headline "Rick Perry Refuses Obama's Offer For A Tarmac Handshake" that was on the liberal website Huffington Post.  Along with the link to the article were her comments of "So disrespectful. So racist."  That is where I took offense.

Ever since Barack Obama became president, it has become fashionable to label anybody who disagrees with him or gives him any sort of slight, it is automatically labeled "racist."  After a while, you get tired of hearing that same, tired, baseless attack.  Usually, I ignore liberal Facebook postings that I disagree with.  This time, I made a comment.  Perhaps, I should have stuck with my policy of ignoring those posts.

Essentially, I told my friend that I was disappointed that she decided to pull the "racist" card out of the bag.  Needless to say, she was not happy with my response.  I won't bore you with everything she responded with, but basically attacked me as a white man who would not understand what she experiences as a black woman.

To a degree, she is right.  I do not know what it is like to be a black woman, or a black man for that matter.  That does not mean that I do not understand what it is like or that I haven't experience racism myself.  I have witnessed racism in all its ugliness and I have been on the receiving end of racism when growing up.

When I was in elementary school, we were given the opportunity to bring music that we liked into the classroom to share with our classmates.  I brought in a record from the Disney movie "Dumbo" because I liked the song from the video below.
Several of my classmates mocked me and gave me a hard time because I brought in a record that was performed by some sort of derogatory term for African Americans.  I was quite hurt.

A few years later, I was an overweight, 4-eyed white kid in a school with a large African American student body.  I was left out of a lot of recess activities because I didn't "fit in."  Eventually, I was able to show that I could hang with the more athletic peers on the field of battle as it were and earn a level of respect.

I would be naive to think that racism doesn't still exist with some people.  People as a whole are fallen, sinful individuals, and nothing is going to change that.  Unfortunately, in the Barack Obama age, society has become like the proverbial boy who cried wolf.  The more people cry racism where it doesn't truly exist, the more likely people won't react when it really does.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A Not so Happy Mother's Day

Bowie Baysox
Bowie Baysox (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Here is hoping that everybody had a very happy Mother's Day.  I would like to say that ours was spectacular, but unfortunately that is not the case.

The day started off well enough.  My wife got up with me early and we went to my new church.  After church we went to do the grocery shopping before we started our primary plans for the day.  Our plan was to pick up our son at school and take him to a Bowie Baysox game instead of our usual visit of taking him to Golden Corral for lunch.

The visit started our well enough.  We picked him up, and he was excited about going to the game.  We got to the stadium, and he wanted a hamburger and french fries for lunch.  He enjoyed the game, but unfortunately our Bowie Baysox lost the game.  When it was time to leave, we stopped by the restroom before starting our drive back to his dorm.

That is when our troubles began.  After my son finished urinating, he announced that he didn't want to go back to school and dropped to the ground in the men's room.  Thankfully, another gentleman asked me if I needed help with him, and I had him go to the first aid station to see if they could help.  He called one of the park policeman working security for assistance.

The three of us tried to calm my son down.  We even tried to get my son into a wheelchair to try to take him out to our car.  Eventually, we had to call the fire department and have them send out a crew with a stretcher to try to get him out to the car.  I got him to walk out of the restroom, but he dropped again.  At that point, the security officer, two paramedics and I carried him out to the car.

Once we got him to the car, he got up on his own and climbed into his seat in the car.  We then headed back to school without incident.  Once we got back to school, he ate the dinner that the had for him.  While we were there, they showed us the technique they use for getting him up when he drops.  I hope we never have to use it, but it was good info to know for the future.
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