General


When I started using a wheelchair there were only two sizes — adult and juvenile.  They were not very durable — partly because of the  materials, but mostly due to design flaws.  I sometimes  had to have my wheelchair replaced yearly — even with frequent minor repairs.  And, in the worst year ever– I had 4 different wheelchairs during a 12-month span because of broken frame components.

A lot of things have changed since my youth:

  • Most sidewalks around here now have curb cuts.
  • There are parking spaces for the handicapped — although they are often used by lazy able-bodied people.
  • Wheelchairs are generally more durable — both manual and those which are battery-powered.
  • Wheelchairs can be built for special purposes — from small for a child to very-wide for the obese.  They can also be made for a specific type of athletic competition such as: basketball; rugby; track; and many other special needs.
  • People with handicaps now have legal rights to an education, employment, housing and many other things which non-handicapped people have — although, you may still have to go to court to get them!

Sometimes I am amazed at all the programs and support available for those with moderate, or even slight, impairments today.  It is a good time to have a disability, I guess!

However….

I do not agree that alcoholics and drug abusers should qualify for coverage by the Americans with Disabilities Act — but, they do!

When I hear about people misusing public programs or funding I become enraged.  I want to lock them in a cell somewhere — 1 week for every $100 they stole from us taxpayers!  Politicians would also have to be careful about how they behaved — they would not be exempt from the penalty!

I’ll end here… before I get my blood pressure into a critical range.

Have a wonderful 4th of July Holiday!  And, remember those who have made our liberties available to us.

God Bless America, please!

During my childhood and youth the term crippled was often applied to people with a handicap or disability —  The Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children is just one example I can still recall.  Of course, names were changed over time to reflect the latest politically-correct terminology.

There weren’t many opportunities for children with handicaps to participate in activities that were similar to their able-bodied peer group — summer camps were part of the experience disabled kids were largely prevented from enjoying.  However, I was lucky enough to be in a good place as some of that was beginning to change.

From the summer of 1954 through the summer of ’65 I attended Camp Fairlee Manor — located just a short distance outside the small town of Fairlee, Maryland, near Chestertown.  The summer camp was operated for handicapped children living in Delaware and parts of Maryland by the local Easter Seals office. I believe that I started with one of the earliest years this camp was running — perhaps in its 2nd year!

Each camping session began on a Sunday afternoon and ended almost two weeks later on Friday morning — after breakfast.  The sessions took place from mid-June through mid-August when schools and colleges were not generally operating — most of Camp Fairlee’s counselors were college students.

The landowner's residence appears after recent restoration work.

From the outset, the campers and staff lived in the Manor House — what had originally been a residence built for the land owner sometime in the 1800s.

There was no swimming pool so each day we rode in the back of a large stake-bodied farm truck in order to go swimming —  perhaps 10 to 12 campers and about half as many counselors.  Our trip was maybe 10 to 15 miles and the truck had straw in the back for us to sit or lay upon.

I could still walk, with difficulty, and remember we had to use a very long wooden-staircase attached to the face of what was perhaps a 25 foot cliff in order to reach the waters of the Chesapeake Bay.  A difficult climb down and worst going up!  Frequently, I was carried up the stairs by a male counselor.

Within a few years two basic summer dormitories were built — no insulation or air conditioning.  One dorm housed the boys and a smaller one was for the girls.  The number of campers per session expanded to about 30 or 40.  The number of counselors also grew — so that none would have more than 2 campers each.

Two pools had been added around the time the dorms were built:

  • One was a large wading pool — water depth of a foot and a half or two;
  • The other was a swimming pool with a diving board.

Campers had to start in the wading pool until they could prove they could float and wouldn’t be in danger in the bigger pool — most never moved out of the wading pool.

As a teen I looked for things I could do that my peers couldn’t or wouldn’t.

From the time I was approved for the swimming pool I began pushing my limits.  I could slide off the wheelchair seat onto the diving board.  Then I’d wiggle out on the board and fall off the end.  I made a good sized splash when I struck the water — which was perhaps 3 feet below the board.  Although I enjoyed making my big splash, it was something I could only do once each day — no one was gonna get me out of the pool just to let me fall back in!

I had already been holding my breath underwater in the wading pool — floating with my face down.  Being in the deeper pool soon inspired me to try getting below the surface as far as I could.  But, I couldn’t swim hard enough to get very deep — I kept bobbing-up like a float on a fishing line.

There was a ladder on the deep end which extended to a depth of about 4 feet.  I began climbing-down the ladder so I could get deeper under the water.  That worked as long as I held on — but as soon as I let go I floated back to the surface.

Before long I began asking the counselors to watch me and to time me.  I don’t recall whether it was during my first year in the swimming pool or the second, but I became able to stay underwater for longer than a minute and a half.

After my success, I spoke often about my breath-holding skill/capacity.  I’d practice breathing deeply and holding my breath whether I was at summer camp or not.  And, none of my able-bodied friends could do it as long as I.  😎

In time, I learned that I could hyper-ventilate (take multiple deep breaths in rapid succession until I was feeling a little light-headed) — then I could exhale and climb down the ladder more easily.  Once I reached the bottom of the ladder I could push-off toward the center of the pool and stick my fingers into the drain-grate — holding it to prevent my floating back to the surface.  Although I don’t remember the year, I can remember the following quite well:

I had asked one of the counselors to time me while I held onto the grate.  I was calmly watching the other swimmers from my place on the bottom of the pool when someone jumped in and began tugging on my arm — he was looking at my face and pointing upward.  When we reached the surface he started asking me if I was alright.  I said I was.  Then I noticed a crowd had gathered around the pool looking at me.

Turned-out that the counselor thought I had become stuck in the grate because I was there such a long time — longer than 2 minutes and 15 seconds.  I was told, “never do that again!”

Even though I got a scratch on my face while being rescued, I was quite proud of holding my breath that long underwater. 😎

The incident did kinda change my somewhat-risky behavior during my time at camp — I even won the Outstanding Camper Award during one of my sessions.  However, it didn’t seem to influence my behavior back home…  I’ll write about that in future postings.

In the years since I graduated from high school, Camp Fairlee Manor began having at least one session for adults each summer.  But, my life had become to involved with work and family in the meantime so I never took advantage of the opportunity.

Nowadays, Easter Seals Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore offers so much more at Fairlee Manor than they used to — excerpts from their website describes it this way:

Fairlee Manor Recreation and Education Center is a beautiful, residential/recreational and respite camp on 250 sprawling acres on Fairlee Creek which offers campers from age 6 and up the opportunity to experience the joys and challenges of camp in a fully-accessible setting.”

“Fairlee Manor’s residential camp generally serves an average of 50 to 75 children and adults each week with physical disabilities and/or cognitive impairments throughout the summer and on select weekends year-round.”

“The respite camp at Fairlee Manor serves children and adults with the most involved physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioral disabilities, including some medically-fragile individuals. The number of campers are fewer than those that attend the residential camp in order to meet extensive personal needs. The respite program operates on weekends on a year-round basis.”

Fairlee Manor also offers conference and meeting space for rent.  Cabins can also be rented on select weekends.  Quite a big difference from my days at summer camp!

Thanks for stopping-by and reading my ramblings.  The links will allow you to explore more of what Fairlee Manor has available and other programs offered by Easter Seals Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

If you watch the news on TV or read newspapers, magazines, or the internet, there seem to be plenty of news-worthy (apparently) individuals ending their marriages.  And, the media constantly reports that 50% of marriages in the United States will end in divorce — although that statistic is somewhat unreliable because all States do not report on divorces.  Also, some of the numbers may be incorrectly interpreted.

Despite the statistics, I know from time to time I’ll hear an account that supports the notion that enduring love still exists — marriages lasting longer than 50 years do occasionally make it into the headlines.  And, after surviving that long a marriage is unlikely to end in divorce.

What emotion is needed to power the Love Meter

Are humans the only creature on this planet which can bond for life — apparently NOT!  Scientists tell us that there are other members of the animal kingdom which form life-long pairings — sea horses for one.  Does that qualify as enduring love?

As a youngster, I remember being told that Canada Geese mate for life.  Storks also mate for life — I wonder if that may have influenced why some adults told children that babies were delivered by storks?  Now, I’ve learned of a news story which speaks to the persistence, and perhaps enduring love, of a pair of storks.

A female stork had been shot by some hunters in Croatia.  When she was found she was taken to a veterinarian.  The vet knew that her wing had been damaged to badly for her to ever fly again.   Although no one could be sure that she would live, an attempt was made to heal her.  And, they named her Malena.

Since her injury in 1993, Stjepan Vokic has taken care of Malena — she lives in a nest on the roof of his house.  He is so committed to her survival that he discontinued his cellphone service so he could afford to feed Malena, especially during the winters.

Approximately 8 years ago

One day Stjepan noticed another stork with Malena — seems that a male had found her and fell in love.   Stjepan gave the name Rodan to the male stork.  The pair raised a clutch of chicks that year — Rodan taught the chicks to fly because his partner cannot.

Since storks spend their winter in South Africa, each August Rodan and the young will start to prepare for their long journey of about 8000 miles.  According to observers, Malena is sad for weeks after Rodan flies away.

Malena remains in Brodski Varos until the return of her mate in the spring — which amazingly occurs on the same date and at about the same time of day each year.  Except that this year he arrived a day early!

Weeks before his return each March, Malena is impatiently waiting for Rodan on the roof and preparing the nest.  These two beautiful birds have raised 32 little storks during the last 8 years.

Amidst so many stories of pain, despair and misery I find this to be a wonderful story of perseverance, persistence and tenacity .  I hope you have enjoyed reading it.    😎

Some of you may have wondered what I’ve been doing since my birthday — given that about 3 weeks had passed between postings.

I’ve been testing a new online game from Aeria Games

Caesary is a browser-based game, so there is no software to download and install on your computer. Nothing to purchase or pay. However, as with other Aeria games, you can buy APs – Aeria Points. APs are then used to purchase things within the Item Mall — this will allow you to avoid waiting to find special items needed to Upgrade various components within the game.

I used Google Chrome for game play because it seemed a little faster for this application than Firefox — but you may find Firefox quite adequate.

I got my invitation and began testing Caesary on May 21st — the initial testing period extended until about June 6th,  I believe.  There wasn’t much information about game play, so it was “trial and error” — I was playing at least 8 hours each day.

The overall game is similar to other free online games I’ve played

You build cities, increase population and manage resources.  And, like free online war games you build armies and battle other players.

Caesary gives you an opportunity to play as a member of a League also.  After you’ve joined a League, you can chat with other members and ask for information.  You can also combine in a military action against other troops/cities/Leagues.

The historical time-frame for Caesary is ancient Rome — the terminology used will be familiar to those aware of that Era:

  • Sesterces are the currency within the game;
  • Ballistae and Onagers are heavy weapons — siege engines used against cities;
  • Hastatus, Sagittarius and Principes are terms describing the various types of foot-soldiers;
  • Equites are horse-mounted troops;
  • Speculatore are scouts used to gather information before you launch an attack.

After the initial beta-testing ended, Aeria Games conducted a week-long League Competition — the top Leagues obtained special rewards for all their members.  That was very sweet when those items were added to my inventory — I’ve been taking advantage of my good luck ever since!

The game play and appearance were very nice.  It’s been addicting, even though it took me several days playing until I felt I understood some of it — actually, I’m sure there are many of the higher-level aspects I haven’t a clue about yet!

I’ve played personal computer games since they were first available

I was aware that I’d likely get hooked on Caesary.  I’ve played many free online games during the last 8-10 years, with considerable gaps of time in-between — some browser-based and some not.  I look forward to more in the future!

So, if you like the idea of free games online take a look at Aeria Games. They have a good sized variety of types/genres which should appeal to almost anyone.

And, if you are a veteran pc game player, please feel free to leave a comment about your favorite online games — Is there a particular genre which you prefer or a company you consider as better than the others?

Whether you’ve played computer games online or not, I always look forward to hearing what you have to say.  😎

Boy oh boy…  sometimes I get involved with something new and it consumes more of my time and attention than I had planned.

It’s been quite a while since I added a new posting —  I want to update y’all on the birthday gifts my sister brought to me on May 27th.   First, a list of the classic cartoon DVDs:

  1. Rocky & Bullwinkle & friends — 4dvd set of the complete season 1
  2. The Yogi Bear Show — The Complete Series, all 33 episodes plus bonuses
  3. Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines — The Complete Series, all 17 episodes plus extras
  4. The Best of Tennessee Tuxedo and his tales — 15 adventures
  5. The Best of Mr. Peabody & Sherman — Volume 1
  6. The Best of Boris & Natasha — Volume 1
  7. The Best of Dudley Do-Right — Volume 1

Hours and hours and hours of some of the best cartoons ever to appear on TV — my personal opinion.

Tee also brought the comicbook which she had purchased as one of my birthday gifts.  She had specifically requested something with Eugene the Jeep.  However, Eugene is not present in the comic she was sold — Popeye, volume 1, number 31, Jan-Mar 1955.  It does contain Swee’Pea, Olive Oyl and other usual characters.  It also contains an episode of Axle and Cam (robots) — I don’t recall seeing them before.

Tee asked me if I wanted her to try to return the comicbook and I told her NO —  it was the thought that counted and I’d keep it.

I can surely say that I hadn’t had this many birthday gifts for a very long time — and totally unexpected!  After all, 63 years isn’t typically significant.  But, I am grateful for each new mark I add to my birthday calendar.

Perhaps some of you reading this post will comment about your favorite TV cartoon characters or your best ever comicbook heroes — or whatever you feel like adding to the mix.

I look forward to reading what you have to say.  😎

And, a very Happy Birthday it was…

My sister, Tee, had taken a day of vacation on the 20th so she could visit me without being time-constrained — she had called the day before and asked me what I’d like for lunch.  I told her I’d have to think about it a while.  After we had ended our phone conversation, I went on line to see the menus for several of my nearby restaurants.

I found grilled boneless rainbow trout at Bugaboo Creek — we had both enjoyed Bugaboo’s food in the past.  And, it had been several years since I remember eating rainbow trout.  The trout came with steamed veggies, smashed potatoes, and was available with Lemon Pepper or Cajun seasoning.  I’m a big fan of Cajun music and spicy Cajun food —  I decided on the Cajun!

I had known that Tee would be running around early on the morning of the 20th, and was not available for me to call after I had made-up my mind on the 19th, so I sent her an email with my selection and the restaurant phone number so she could order for takeout whenever she wanted to.  As it turned-out, since we weren’t in a hurry to eat, she decided to visit with me before ordering.

When she arrived at my apartment she was well prepared

Tee had brought a funny Birthday Card, a Birthday Cake with butter creme icing and glazed strawberries, 2 sodas, 2 mylar balloons, a new card table, and a plastic table-cover with Mickey Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck on it!  She also had her folding chair — the kind with the over-the-shoulder bag you take to outdoor events and family gatherings.  The weather was ideal for sitting outside in the shade and that is what we did.

I read the card and Tee told me she had bought a 1953 Popeye & Eugene The Jeep comic book for me — but she left it hanging on her bedroom door.  Tee promised to bring it to me next week.  (I’ve bought many t-shirts on eBay during the last 15-20yrs with Eugene on them — other items also.  In fact, I had a Eugene t-shirt on as we partied.  But, very few people I’ve met ever heard of Eugene The Jeep.)

We jabbered until nearly 2pm — by then we were becoming hungry, so Tee decided to order and pick-up our food before they quit serving lunch items.  Since I hadn’t spoken with my daughter, Mimi, for at least a week Tee phoned to see what her plans were.  Fortunately, Mimi had just been finishing-up with a company meeting and had been planning to grab some Arby’s roast beef or something before coming to see me.  So, Tee took another order, phoned Bugaboo’s and left.

Let the Party Begin

When Tee returned with meals for the three of us we got busy chewing — and chatting!  Mimi had ordered a salad with chicken tenders and Tee had gotten a full-rack of ribs.  Enough ribs for everyone to have some — Lola, Mimi’s pit bull, got a taste and the left-overs went into my refrigerator!  Next came the cake… and it was yummmy  Actually, everything had been yummy!  😎

Tee told me she had another surprise for me.  She had bought something she knew I wanted because she saw it on a Wish List I had written.  That kinda surprised me… I didn’t remember making such a list.  Then she said she had seen it on my blog — I still didn’t remember writing a Birthday Gift Wish List.  So, Mimi put her fancy new Android cellphone in browser-mode and started searching through The Handicapper’s Journey trying to locate the list.

Lo and Behold there it was

Within the post dated March 6th and titled Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, I had been mentioning many old cartoons I used to watch on TV — I had even created links to Amazon where some of them could be purchased on DVD.  And, near the end of the posting was: “Now I have some items to start building my Birthday Wish List” — I had no idea that sentence would move anyone to purchase most of what I had mentioned.

Tee had never purchased anything online before.  But, when she tried unsuccessfully on her own she got her husband to help her place an order.  The delivery didn’t arrive when she expected.  So, I’ll have a large collection of Cartoon DVDs and my Popeye & Eugene comic book in a week or so… absolutely amazed I am!

Then it was time to relax — Tee had a blanket in the back of her SUV which she gave to Mimi to stretch-out on the grass and lay with Lola.  I tilted my wheelchair back and did the best I could do to get comfortable.  Tee had her sport-style folding chair.  We laughed and joked ’til about 6pm when Tee said it was time to go home and see her husband.

Mimi stayed maybe an hour longer as I helped get her Yahoo email set to feed into her Android, and loaded some files onto a thumb drive for her to take back home.  Then she and Lola left.

I was very tired…  happily fatigued!

I’m going to start a Wish List for my 64th birthday right now — and I’m gonna put a day like today at the top of the list!

A disturbing CBS News Report link was recently sent to me by a family member.  The report describes the dangers to you and your confidential information which is being stored in copy machines since about 2002.

Whenever a document containing your information was placed on these newer digital machines to be copied or faxed it is now on the hard-drive! Your photograph and social security number, as well as other sensitive data, may have been placed in a leased machine which is no longer under the control of your employer, doctor or health insurance company.

Due to the financial crisis of the last few years, many companies have closed their doors or sold some of their equipment. Regardless of the reason, large numbers of previously used digital copy machines are now being sold-off cheaply which have hard-drive storage. Where will it end-up — page after page of your data on the hard-drive can easily be printed and distributed.

I encourage everyone to view the short video to learn more:

CBS News video

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