Sunday, October 22

Guardian Article about David Blunkett

Blunkett was a minister in Tony Blair's government, and talks about
the difficulties of being a blind politician in a sighted world. Now here's a perspective we don't often get, that of the blind politician. After reading this article, I couldn't help feeling impressed by how this blind man used different techniques to deal with day to day things.

Sometimes in politics, there are none so blind as those who can see
In this final diary extract, David Blunkett talks about the issues
arising from blindness - such as well-meaning, but patronising,
Friday October 13, 2006

It was some months [after my birth] before it was recognised that
there might be something wrong with my eyes. Once it was clear that I
could see only a tiny bit (normally referred to as "light and dark"),
efforts to trace the cause were under way. It was only my mother's
tenacity that prevented [doctors] from what now would probably be
described as a medical fetish - namely to remove the eyes of the
child in order to avoid further damage. There was no tumour, and it
was a one-in-several-million chance which led to the failure of my
optic nerve to develop.
I have rarely done interviews about the way I work and the challenge
of overcoming blindness. But it seems appropriate to offer a better
understanding of what it has been like to deal with avalanches of
paper, to have all print material read on to tape and to be on top of
the material in a way that would never allow people to be able to
say: "If only he could see, he would have understood that better."
When I first entered parliament I struggled to get additional
equipment (for brailling) and additional staffing hours for reading,
and will never forget a remark made to me by one colleague who became
a very senior cabinet minister when we came to power in 1997: "It's
all right for you with the extra resources you get. No wonder you can
churn out the press releases." My reply was fairly succinct: "I'll
swap with you any time."
When I first entered the House of Commons in 1987 I came across many
who were patronising, even if they meant well. Of course I was very
sensitive about people being indulgent to me, and my pigheadedness,
my inherent independence and sometimes my unintentional rudeness soon
put paid to any do-gooding. I didn't want to be promoted out of
sympathy, though it was never easy to pull off the feat of being seen
to be effortlessly on top of things. Sometimes I have thought of
nothing else but how I was going to get through the masses of tapes
that arrived in the box each weekend or the nightly tapes that had to
be done either that evening or at least first thing in the morning.
In these early years of government the sheer volume of work left no
time for "gallivanting around in London", as my mother would have
called it. I was at that time very much what the press saw (and
wanted me always to be): the dedicated, workaholic, almost obsessive,
dour northerner.
Feeding and grooming a guide dog, and of course making sure that it
is exercised and has a chance to do what the Guide Dogs for the Blind
Association call its "spend", are all-important. So each morning my
dog and I would set off walking. We would have a decent walk and the
car would collect us. We would then run the dog properly (often but
not always in New Palace Yard at the House of Commons) before going
into the office.
Each morning I would, however, have had a phone call from the press
office. They were lovely young - forgive me if I call them that -
people who volunteered to do a rota for what increasingly over the
years became an extremely grumpy man. The more difficult the coverage
we received, the grumpier and more bad-tempered I became.
Every minute of every travelling hour had to be spent working. It was
the only way. I kept a braille machine of my own on my desk so that I
could make notes. Contrary to common assumption, I didn't always rely
on my memory, although I did try to develop it, much in the way that
one develops a muscle, to ensure that with particular aspects of the
job it was possible to achieve better recall than would normally be
the case.
The same is true of my hearing and my ability to be able to sense
what is going on around me. I am still learning, and I still
sometimes get it wrong. When I am chairing a meeting I often ask
people to indicate to me when they want to speak with a quiet word or
cough, or make some other sound to show that they would like to come
in on the discussion.
And I also have to be careful not to blunder in. This is a particular
issue for blind people. Speaking at the wrong moment, intervening
just when someone else has their hand up and is about to be called,
or failing to recognise a visual indication (which often can be
discernible body language) that this is not the moment to speak out,
is something that has been difficult, to say the least.
Honesty is a mixed blessing. Saying what you think, you cannot see
the thunder in the faces around you. It does lead to honest, plain
speaking, but it also undoubtedly sometimes makes you a pain in the
Using tape machines which allowed me to speed up the sound has
helped, but even with recordings half as fast again as the normal
reading speed, it is still substantially slower than anyone who is a
reasonable speed-reader of print. Speaking in the House was never a
problem, though it was certainly challenging when I first came into
parliament, when I thought I knew it all. I had already been on the
public stage and had substantial media exposure, but the House of
Commons was different from anything else I had ever experienced. In
the space of a few sentences the atmosphere can change from positive,
uplifting support to resentful animosity.
In many ways, not being able to see required me to be much more alert
and alive to what was going on around me, as well as knowing when
people wanted to intervene and being ready to sit down and allow them
to raise a question or make a point. It is possible to work out where
someone is most likely to be sitting. It is possible to know from
their voice who they are. Question time, which for departmental
questions is once a month and lasts for an hour, I always found easy.
After all, the secretary of state has the last word.
But I found delivering written - what are known as "oral" -
statements very difficult. They are oral in the sense that they are
delivered to the House, but they are written and have to be read
verbatim. And here is the rub: I am not a good reader. Very few
people appreciate just what a nightmare it is in such circumstances
to use braille, where there are no capital letters as there are in
print, no highlighting, no underlining and, given that braille is so
bulky, masses of paper. Even a short statement requires a large
number of sheets. Delivering a statement to the Commons was my worst
If I had my time again, I would do two things. First, I would look
after my fingers a great deal better, because the skin was burnt from
cooking and toughened by manual chores, resulting in clumsiness. I
would also have made sure that they were cared for, using whatever
ointments or creams were necessary (even if that did make me a big
girl's blouse). Second, I would have practised braille over and over
again. I do regret that now, because it was certainly an achilles
heel noticeable not simply in my awkward and sometimes stumbling
delivery of the statement (in contrast to answering questions, where
I was easy, confident and articulate) but in my whole body language -
the tension, the hunched shoulders, the unrelaxed facial muscles,
which came from what inside was frankly downright fear.
January 2000

Frank [Dobson] patronised me about not being able to see. If there is
anything that absolutely gets my goat, it is other people pretending
to be nice while being deeply offensive. Give me someone who is
clearly just deeply offensive any day and I can deal with them, but
save me from paternalism. Frank will never know - or perhaps he will
- just how offensive his introduction of me as "my blind friend" was.
He went on: "What a remarkable achievement it is for someone who
can't see to have made the progress that my friend has made" -
perhaps the kind of remark that some well-meaning but ill-informed
distant acquaintance may make, but not a fellow cabinet minister of
two and a half years' standing. I could at that moment have walked
out of the room and finished Frank's campaign there and then, but I
managed to get a grip of myself, and, as so often, I let it go.

July 2000

One of the problems of not being able to see is drinking orange juice
when there is a wasp in it. This happened to me. I had it in my mouth
and was about to chew it when something told me to spit it out. I did
so, but it stung me and my mouth, face, arms and hands all started to
swell. It was one of those frightening experiences when you think:
"There's no one around, what do I do?" Living on my own is sometimes
quite frightening.

February 2001

Once, when I was leader of Sheffield city council, the Queen and the
Duke of Edinburgh came to Sheffield for an official visit and I was
hosting lunch. It was one of those very pleasant occasions when it
was possible to sit next to Her Majesty and have a genuine
conversation, but (and I know she will forgive me for recalling it)
it was strange when twice she asked me if I would like my meat
cutting up - strange not because it was not a kind and thoughtful
question, but because of the comment she made when I politely
declined: "You know, I often do it for the corgis." Well, well, well.

April 2001

I hate buffets for obvious reasons.

Perhaps my hatred of buffets merits a little more explanation. In
order to get the true picture, close your eyes and imagine you are in
a very noisy room, with everyone standing about with glasses in their
hands, normally at an angle just right for tipping over if you happen
to bang an elbow. People are milling about and someone (you've no
idea who) approaches you and begins to talk - and talk ... You are
desperately trying to avoid being rude because, God knows, you might
need help in the future ... So you try just to pop in, show your
face, hope that someone really interesting will "take pity on you",
and eat what you can. It has to be said here that this is usually a
plate of food collected for you by someone else and which
understandably reflects their taste in food but not necessarily yours.

David Blunkett praises civil servants for reading out documents and
transferring others to braille. But he expresses frustration with the
civil service as a whole

October 2001

[Leak of email sent by Jo Moore, special adviser to Stephen Byers, to
Department of Transport press office on September 11 saying it would
be a "very good day" to "bury" bad news]

The world has gone crackers, and the cause célèbre of the week has
been the débâcle over Jo Moore, which is going on and on. Steve was
intending to sack Jo Moore, but by early afternoon it had all changed
and apparently it was because, quite rightly, Tony had perceived that
this was a try-on by the civil service. It was felt that they were
the ones who had received the email and leaked it, and no matter how
appalling the email, the declaration of war by the civil service and
their ability to leak emails and thereby bring down special advisers
had to be countered. Unfortunately life is not as simple as that.
Tony's interpretation of the situation is right, but Steve's initial
decision to sack Jo Moore for the content of the email was also right
because this story has run and run and run.

In dictating this I had no idea just how catastrophic it was going to
be for Steve Byers. I think those advising really did mean well, and
it was a difficult situation to call. There is no doubt that Jo Moore
paid the price, but what price.

January 2002

I'm having a real problem with correspondence concerning Keith
Bennett, who was killed by Ian Brady [convicted, with Myra Hindley,
for the Moors Murders in the 1960s]. His brother Alan had written and
it had taken two months for the letter to come through to me. I
replied to him personally, and now find that Mrs Johnson, Keith
Bennett's mum, had written on November 15 and her letter has just
floated round until Christmas, with no one taking responsibility for
it. I've written a robust letter to John Gieve about this as I feel
it was just grossly incompetent and insensitive. How they could
possibly have missed that this was a significant and sensitive letter
I can't imagine, bearing in mind that the letter began: "Dear Mr
Blunkett, My son Keith was murdered by Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. My
life ended then ..."

February 2002

Steve Byers is in the mire because he's got rid of Jo Moore [who had
wanted to stand down in October] and Martin Sixsmith [director of
communications] and Sixsmith is saying that he never agreed to go.
Everyone eulogises about our free, independent, apolitical civil
service. They are apolitical all right - an island within an island,
a government within a government. They have clearly declared war on
special advisers and on some ministers, and they are determined to
pull Steve Byers down.

We talked about special advisers at cabinet. Steve said his bit and
John Reid said one or two sensible things about the dangers, but the
discussion wasn't going anywhere so I just launched in. I know
Richard Wilson will not forgive me for this but it's too bad -
because apparently he went grey and looked daggers at me.

I said: "Well, I think if we're going to have legislation that
protects the civil service from the government, could we build into
it protection for the government from the civil service?

"We have a situation in my department where virtually anything of any
importance is leaked. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate is
a complete shambles. The only reason we got a police reform white
paper and the reform of immigration, nationality and asylum was
because the two respective advisers worked extremely closely with me
on them ... The civil service are very lucky that we can't sack them,
that no one can sack them" - with the implication that they damn well
would be sacked if I had my way, and they would be. At the end of all
this diatribe Tony said: "Well, I think Richard Wilson's got the
message. You really love the civil service, David. You've got a lot
of time for them and you believe they're doing a first-class job" -
and everybody just doubled up.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006

Monday, October 16

Another proclaimation

Greetings. I know, another proclaimation. This one is the last one for awhile. I received this at work. This one is from the Governor. Enjoy.

Proclamation by the Governor of the State of Texas

Texas is a state that fosters progress and prosperity, a state where
economic development and job creation are prioritized and pursued as we
look toward the future. Due to a highly skilled workforce, Texas is
recognized as one of the best states in the union to do business. Now
and in the future, it is especially important that the approximately
four million Texans with disabilities continue to be vital in both the
public and private sectors.

During the last fiscal year, as a result of assistance from the Texas
Workforce Commission, 3,870 people who self-identified as having a
disability were successful in their search for employment. During the
same period, the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative
Services (DARS) assisted 14,277 Texans with disabilities in gaining
employment. DARS also enhanced services to students with disabilities
through increased availability of transition counselors to facilitate
transition from school to employment. DARS has also taken a leadership
role in promoting information accessibility in health and human service

Texas colleges recognize that developmental classes are critical to the
success of many students with disabilities, and more students with
disabilities are attending college than ever before. Additionally, state
agencies in Texas have partnered with college and university engineering
departments on new inventions to assist people with disabilities.

Highlighting the achievements of Texans, a University of North Texas
student and artist, John Bramblitt, is featured on the 2006 Texas poster
for National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM). John's
talent for creating emotion through his use of color and texture in his
paintings is evident. He successfully challenges people's conceptions of
blindness, ultimately finding that painting gives him a meaningful
opportunity to connect to others. His art and determination reflect and
reinforce this year's NDEAM theme: "American's with Disabilities: Ready
for the Global Workforce."

Another success, this year the Texas School for the Blind and Visually
Impaired and the Texas School for the Deaf are celebrating their 150th
anniversary of excellence in education to Texas students with sensory
disabilities. In addition to academics, students at both schools have
opportunities for career exploration, internships, job placement and
actual experience in the job market.

Also of note, Texas applauds all who provided such valiant service
during last year's hurricane season. Continuing to prioritize this
issue, statewide emergency response plans have strengthened evacuation
provisions, including those related to individuals with disabilities. In
Texas, today, a statewide registry allows people who need assistance
evacuating to sign up for such assistance.

To highlight the importance of equal employment opportunities for
Americans with disabilities, and to recognize the many achievements of
individuals dedicated to this cause, October has been designated as
National Disability Employment Awareness Month. At this time, therefore,
I encourage all Texans to recognize the employment potential of Texans
with disabilities. Together, we can continue to make a difference for
the future success of Texas.

Therefore, I, Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim October
2006, Disability Employment Awareness Month in Texas, and urge the
appropriate recognition whereof.

In official recognition whereof, I hereby affix my signature this the
27th day of September, 2006.

RICK PERRY(Signature)
Governor of Texas

Sunday, October 15

White Cane Day Activities

The following post was started on October 11, and compiled over the next few days.

Greetings. Today is a significant day in Austin, for its White Cane Day. This day is usually celebrated on October 15, but today was the city-wide celebration. I must say right off that, even in my years of living in Dallas, nothing like what happened today ever happened in Dallas, or somehow I never heard of it. Indeed, one person said that its probably the largest celebration and gathering of blind people for the celebration in the state, perhaps in the country.

For me, it began when I boarded the route 5 bus at around 7:45 this morning, told the driver I wanted to go to “Eleventh and Congress,” and took my seat. About 5 or 7 minutes later, we picked up another passenger who was also going to that same spot. At about 8:00, we stopped in front of Criss Cole, and picked up a few more passengers who were going there to. I should mention that by “a few more,” I mean like at least 10 or 15, perhaps more, blind and sighted people with blindfolds and canes. I didn’t mention anything to the driver about these people, who were my colleagues and some were my students, getting on at any point. Thus, I think he was caught off guard a little, since after the first five or six people got on, he said, “You just let me know when you’re ready and we’ll go.” Someone said ok, and people kept boarding and getting themselves situated. Someone finally said, “Ready,” and we were off.

We got to Eleventh and Congress at about 8:30, and as we got off the bus, we slowly made our way over to the gathering area. For some perspective on this celebration, blind people from all in and around Austin were participating, including the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (TSBVI), Criss Cole, the Austin Lighthouse, and other groups and individuals. So to say that there was a lot of people would probably be a little bit understated.

We were all gathering to march down Congress from Eleventh to Second streets, and then go West and make our way to City Hall. By the way, the State Capitol is at 11th and Congress. I had my Talks enabled cell phone with me and took the liberty of taking, or attempting to take, a few pictures. I did this throughout the day and in all, got about 14 shots. Though I don’t know how many are actually good ones or ones to keep. I’ll go through them later with someone and see, and hopefully be able to put some up on my website. Anyway, with the help of a mobility instructor I know real well, I was able to get a great shot of the Capitol.

So here we all are, milling around and talking with one another, saying hello to new people and greeting old friends. As it happened, I ended up seeing a former teacher I had both at Criss Cole and TSBVI. That was cool.

Shortly after 9, we started forming in different groups to get ready to march. Then, at about 9:15, someone gave the signal and we all started off. The deal was for the kids at the School for the Blind to lead the march, and everyone else would fall in behind. We were told that we could march on either side of Congress. So picture a mass of blind and sighted people, many with canes and blindfolds, all moving down both sides of a street. There was a television news chopper that flew overhead at the start of the march, and there were other media people all over the place, interviewing, taking pictures, and the like. Many people were wearing blue shirts that had been custom made for the event, that had the state capitol on them and said, “White Cane Day 2006,” across the front. There were other phrases on the front and back. On the back top of the shirt, near the shoulders, there was a phrase in Braille that said, “How’s my driving?” I’m sure that there were other pictures on the shirts, but I don’t remember what those were.

At around 10:15, we reached City hall. Some people stood in groups chatting and others found their way to some bleachers and other seating areas. I was off to find my way to the bleachers. I asked directions of a couple of people and thought I was going the right way. The last person I asked directions from, told me to go left. So I did, more or less, and found myself climbing a raised area. The bleachers were atop some concrete, so I thought that this was where I was. However, soon after I was on this platform, someone came to my side and asked me if I was looking for something or someone in particular. When I told them that I was looking for the bleachers, they directed me there. Before we left the platform though, I asked them where we were, and they said, “Oh, you’re on the stage.” That would have been a little awkward if the program were to start and I was standing there, kind of looking like I knew what I was doing, but not really knowing where to go.

I eventually found a spot and claimed it. After a few minutes, someone got on the microphone and welcomed everyone, which caused one of many cheers to go up from the audience. One of the people that welcomed the crowd was Elmo, from Sesame Street. I wondered afterward if Elmo had his own cane. I attempted to take several pictures of Elmo and the people on the stage. We’ll have to see how those came out, or if I even got anything.

After several people were introduced and thanked and the supporting organizations of the event were allowed to each say few words, the proclamation from the mayor was read. During all this, the crowd cheered at appropriate places, and whenever everyone felt like it.

After all these things, we all were instructed how to get to Republic Square Park, which is where they were going to have a celebration and picnic. I again took several pictures at the park, including a “tug of competition,” as someone called it, between TSBVI and Criss Cole. One of the students at Criss Cole was able to get several restaurants to participate in the picnic, including two barbeque places. That was some good food. There was also a band that cranked up at around 11 and played until one. The notable thing about this band, Blue Mist, is that all of the members are blind. They sounded good, but if I had any say in it, then I might have liked to have the tables and chairs placed a little further from the stage so the music wasn’t blaring into my face. However, they were good. Apparently, Blue Mist is the only band where all the members are blind in the Austin area.

I left with several students and another staff member at around 2, but didn’t make it back till a little before 4. All in all, it was a cool day, and one of the things that makes me appreciate my job. After all, how often can you march to City Hall, stuff your face with barbeque and sausage, and basically have a good time, and still get paid for it?

White Cane Safety Day Proclaimation

Olegario D. Cantos VII, Esq.
Associate Director for Domestic Policy
The White House
- - - - - - - - - -
Just a few hours ago, the President signed a proclamation, declaring
October 15, 2006, as White Cane Safety Day. I therefore wanted to send
the text to you right away. Please distribute this widely.
Commemoration of this occasion enables communities all around the
country to focus attention on the abilities, independence, and spirit of
blind and visually impaired Americans. Since (as you have recently
seen) October is also National Disability Employment Awareness Month,
the appropriate related themes tie in quite well.
If you would like to receive a framable copy of the Proclamation which
is worthy of prominent display (featuring the Seal of the President in
gold and the signature of the President), please fax requests to (202)
456-2806. (Note that such requests are not processed through my
- - - - - - -

Our Nation believes in the promise of all our citizens, and we must work
to ensure that the opportunities of America are more accessible to every
person. Many Americans who are blind or visually impaired use white
canes to enable them to enjoy greater mobility, engage in productive
work, and participate fully in all aspects of life. On White Cane
Safety Day, we celebrate the many achievements of Americans who are
blind or visually impaired, and we recognize the white cane as an
important symbol of their determination and independence.
My Administration remains committed to removing barriers that confront
Americans with disabilities. Since we launched the New Freedom
Initiative 5 years ago, we have worked to improve access to community
life, expand educational opportunities, strengthen training and
employment services, and promote the development of technology for
people with disabilities. We are building on the progress of the
Americans with Disabilities Act and working to make America a place
where all citizens have the opportunity to realize their full potential.
The Congress, by joint resolution (Public Law 88-628) approved on
October 6, 1964, as amended, has designated October 15 of each year as
"White Cane Safety Day."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of
America, do hereby proclaim October 15, 2006, as White Cane Safety Day.
I call upon public officials, business leaders, educators, librarians,
and all the people of the United States to join as we work to ensure
that the benefits and privileges of life in our great Nation are
available to Americans who are blind or visually impaired, and to
observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twelfth day of
October, in the year of our Lord two thousand six, and of the
Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and
- - - - - - - - - -
Olegario D. Cantos VII, Esq.
Associate Director for Domestic Policy
The White House
Washington, DC 20502

Thursday, October 12

Highlights of JAWS 8.0

Greetings. As noted on The Ranger Station, here are a few things to look forward to in the upcoming release of JAWS 8.0. In case you want to hear a program previewing the new version, you can find the appropriate link on The Ranger Station entry dated 10/11/06.

* The new “What’s New In JAWS will feature both Eric and Jonathan Mozen. It’s going to be released as a MP3 on the FS site and it’s about 90 minutes long.
This will also be included on the CD in DAISY format.
* JAWS 8 will be downloadable off the web, however, this version will not contain the new Realspeak synthesizers. As a result of JAWS now being able to
use Realspeak it will be shipped on CD to all current SMA holders.
* The version of Realspeak shipped is over 700 MB and it comes on it’s own CD. The JAWS bi fold package will contain the Realspeak CD on one side and the
JFW program disc on the other. Nothing was said about the ILM disc though.
* Public Beta releases, like those with 7.1, will return after the release of 8.0.
* JAWS will now use the Automatic Update feature more often. The plan is to update JAWS every 6 weeks.
* 8.0 no longer supports older versions of Windows. Windows 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, XP Media Center Edition and Windows Server 2003 are supported.
* The older versions of JAWS will still be available on the web but not supported by Freedom Scientific. The archives go all the way back to version 2.0
by the way.
* Eric has stated that a version of JAWS will be available on the day and date of Vista’s release. His comments seemed to be directed at the January 30th
retail versions rather than the upcoming Enterprise release.
* 8.0 will work with Office 2007, however, that program is still in Beta and better support will arrive in future updates.
* Realspeak is being adopted to give JAWS better international language support.
Bi Fold package with Realspeak CD on one side and JFW program disc on the other.
* The Realspeak English territory release will contain 3 American, 2 British, 2 Australian, 1 Castilian Spanish and 1 Latin American Spanish voice.
* Other languages will be sold regionally such as Italian and German.
* The new Realspeak voices can be used with the new Say All feature. This will allow you to navigate with Eloquence and switch on the fly to Realspeak
for document reading.
* 8.0 will support IE 7.
* Some keystrokes have changed to avoid conflicts with IE 7 but nothing that as not already been seen with Firefox support
* Virtual Buffer and Document Server loading of dynamic HTML and other content has been improved from 7.1. You can actually read pages with tickers in
real time .. and this is said to be amazing with a Braille display.
* Skim Reading will now recognize attributes and colors when searching through text
* The Startup Wizard will allow you to customize JAWS when you first launch the program after a new install. This is added from Magic and it allows you
to set your preferences without you having to sort through many of the menus in the Configuration Manager.
* The JAWS Find Dialog now has a History list of the last 20 items searched
* Application Management from Magic makes the leap into JAWS. You can go into this tool and turn off JAWS scripts in say Firefox to see if the program
is the problem or is the application specific scripts are an issue. Great for trouble shooting your computer.
* Lots of Office 2003 improvements in Excel and Outlook.
* Web Resources has now been added to the Help menu. This will take you to the JAWS HQ and other places where you can find up to date information on JAWS.
The search engine now used by Freedom Scientific for web based searches of their site is now Google based.

Though no release date has been made public, since the new JAWS will work with IE 7, and since IE 7 should be out by the end of the month, I'm thinking that that might be when 8.0 comes out, or somewhere around that time. Also, the What's New MP3 mentioned and appropriate documentation should be on the FS site about a week or two in advance of the official release. All in all, it looks like a great release. I know I'll be checking the FS site quite often between now and the end of the month.

Wednesday, October 11

White Cane Day coverage

Greetings. The following news story appeared on the local ABC television affiliate about today's White Cane Day celebration. Read on to find out more and hopefully, watch the video story. I'm in the process of compiling my own account of the various activities that went on today. I hope to have that up by the weekend. I also hope to have pictures available on my website in the next week or so. Enjoy.

KVUE News, Texas USA
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Mayor proclaims today White Cane Day

Hundreds of members of Austin's blind and visually impaired community marched down Congress Avenue Wednesday morning.
Mayor Will Wynn met the marcher's at City Hall to proclaim Wednesday White Cane Day.
All around the country white cane laws are used to help guarantee pedestrian safety, and ensure equal rights protection for the blind and visually impaired.
LINK: KVUE Online Video (Embedded to browser, follows 15 second commercial)

Tuesday, October 3

Friday Night Lights, the TV series

Greetings. I’ve just finished watching the premier of “Friday Night Lights,” on NBC. First impression: this could be big; this could be really big. This is coming from someone who’s read the book a couple of times, seen the movie a few times, and as of a month or two ago, obtained the DVD of the movie. So, to say that I “like” the story might be understating the fact just a little.

For those that don’t know, Friday Night Lights follows the Permian High School panthers football team of Odessa, Texas. The book and movie were pretty close in content. At times where the movie varied from the book, it didn’t take anything away from the book at all. I used to be picky about movies that weren’t exactly like their respective books. Now though, as long as the movie stays more or less true to the over all picture of the book, I don’t mind. In fact, if the movie enhances the book and even, if possible, surpasses it, then all the better. I’m not sure if the Friday Night Lights movie does this with is book, but that’s another topic.

Anyway, getting back to the TV series. If the TV show continues to follow the over all picture of the book, of having plenty of hard hitting football, dialog, and maintaining the themes of the book and movie before it, then I don’t see any reason why we can’t get these United States excited about Texas high school football. True, there are some differences in the TV series from the book and movie before it, such as the name of the town and the names of the coaches, players, and other key people, but the rest of the plot looks to be the same. One difference I noticed right off is that the quarterback of the Panthers was injured and looks to be sidelined for the remainder of the season. In the book and movie, it was their running back. However, the second string QB looked to be pretty good himself, once he took a few snaps that is. I found myself cheering for the panthers to pull the game out and win. There’s a sign of a good show when you are rooting for the “good guys” in the first episode. My hope is that they won’t dip into the diverse issues of high school and lose sight of the intention of the main story line, that of the football team and its season. Time will tell on that front.

For those that missed the premiere of the show, there will be an encore performance tomorrow night on NBC at 7 Central time.

Another interesting side note: the producer for the movie Friday Night Lights, produced this first episode on television. Someone else will do the rest of the season I’m sure, but that’s pretty cool. When watching this pilot episode, I was able to tell the touches of the movie’s producer and where he enhanced the show. There aren’t many shows that I sit down to watch these days, at least not on a regular basis. This one has already been entered into my note taker’s calendar though. Enjoy, and “Let’s go panthers!” Or, as they say in the book and movie, “Mo-jo, mo-jo, mo-jo.”