Handicapped parking fraud

I have seen many people parked in handicapped spots who don't have a right to be there. Sometimes I just let it slide because I see it so often; I figure its not worth getting angry over. But other times it irks me.

I stumbled across the website handicappedfraud.org which promotes strict crackdowns on handicapped parking violations and allows for reports of fraudulent abuse of handicapped parking spots.

To park or not to park, a thought which goes through people's minds when considering whether to park illegally in a handicapped spot, suaging their guilt by telling themselves they will only be a few minutes.

Fines for illegally parking in handicapped spots in the city of Calgary, Canada are going to be increased drastically from $150 to between $300 and $500, as a deterrent.

In Albany County, New York a crackdown was conducted this past weekend, with the event of Black Friday promising that shopping malls would be overcrowded. Due to the mayhem, people will do anything including park illegally in a handicapped spot to ensure they get the deals their looking for. Since 1994, this annual effort has resulted in $217,470 worth of fines.

Victory for Ian Pearl

I wanted to follow-up on a story that I referenced in a previous post about Ian Pearl, as belated as this may be. Ian, who has muscular dystrophy, was set to have his life sustaining coverage ended this Tuesday, December 1, 2009, if it weren't for those who rallied behind him to fight his insurance company, Guardian.

On October 14, The Washington Times broke the story about Guardian's plan to deny coverage to Pearl. In his defence, Ian posted a blog on the Huffington Post entitled "I Am Not a Dog" on October19. Three days later, Guardian issued a press release acknowledging that it would be a mistake to deny Pearl and others coverage. Ian's mother, Susan, wrote a letter to the editor of The Washington Times, thanking journalist William Ehart for writing the story about her son.

The national attention garnered by the article has led to the drafting of a bill by the New York State legislature which may become known as "Ian's Law." Such a law would ensure that members who have high insurance claims cannot be denied coverage.

I want a segway!

A segway is a "self-balancing personal transportation device." Traditionally segways have two wheels, and are upright, but some come with four wheels which allows the person to sit instead of stand. The average segway weighs 120 pounds and runs costs anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 dollars. Its top speed is 12.5 mph. The segway has made cameo appearances in pop culture, including use on MythBusters by Adam Savage. The segway also appeared in the movie Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

I would love to take a spin on a segway, just to try it out. The idea of it is very appealing, but not always practical. I like the idea of going down a sidewalk and not having to worry so much about tripping, but in crowded urban environments such as New York City, I imagine that the convenience of a segway would decrease dramatically. It would probably be easy to run over a few people in the street, on the way to work!

Still, I find myself wanting a segway. It would be nice to be able to tool around and not have to worry about the terrain of my environment or the condition of my joints. Call me lazy, but a segway would just be a different way of adapting to the challenges of my environment.

Live your dreams!

There are many talented people with CP and other disabilities who have alot to offer the world with their talents. Here are just a few examples.

I discovered Esté Yarmosh's guest post on the Blog Feminists With Disabilities (FWD)/Forward. She points out that even though it's good to be able to laugh at yourself, pop culture isn't allways tasteful in its portrayal of those with disabilities. She's living her dream in her pursuit of an MA in English at Simmons College after completing her Bachelors at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Daniel Corliss is indeed a remarkable person. In high school, he switched his mode of transportation from a walker to a wheel chair. However, after being hit by a car while in his wheel chair, he decided that he would walk again and began using his walker that he had not touched in 20 years. He is living his dream in pursuit of participating in the Little Rock marathon.

Frank Abate followed his dream to become a special ed teacher as well as baseball coach and yesterday he ran the Philadelphia Half-Marathon.

Shawn Murinko acknowledges that it is a balancing act to escape pity yet gain understanding from the outside world. Shawn followed his dream and has a law degree.

Carly Okyle, has several posts on the blog Your Tango. Of particular interest to me was her post on "Diary of a Disabled Woman Seeking Love," in which she describes the difficulty of dating.

Chris Ridgway appears in an article about a disabilities awareness program at West Chester University. He has followed his dreams to success as he is a two time Paralympian in wheelchair racing.

My live blog!

2:59 p.m. ~ A voice-over in J.D.'s voice expresses that it is best not to forget the kid inside of you and in the same closing scene, Dr. Kelso is seen driving out of the parking lot with the arms of the gorilla suit still on.

2:58 p.m. ~ J.D. lays some hard truth on his brother about how he's afraid to fail.

2:55 p.m. ~ Elliot is trying to mend the rift between J.D. and his brother but is not successful.

2:53 p.m. ~ Turk goes to the funeral of one of his patients that died on the operating table and forgets that patient's name in front of the widow, as a result he gets thrown out of the funeral.

2:50 p.m. ~ As punishment, Dan farts in the car with the windows locked and J.D. has to suffer the smell.

2:44 p.m. ~ Elliot is going out the lunch with J.D. and his brother to J.D.'s dismay. J.D. makes efforts to tell stories about how much a looser his brother is because he is embarrassed by him.

2:43 p.m. ~ J.D. and the janitor continue their daily feuds. The janitor is one of my favorite and more subtly humerous characters with more of the funniest single lines than most of the other characters.

2:41 p.m. ~ Its Halloween at the hospital and someone is walking around in a gorilla suit.

2:39 p.m. ~ "Stop your stupid laughing, it makes you look like a whore!" J.D. says to Elliot after imagining the sexual between his brother Dan and his on and off again girlfriend Elliot.

2:33 p.m. ~ J.D.'s older brother, Dan, shows up at the hospital to visit, gradually wreaking havoc on his life with his co-workers and friends.

2:31 p.m. ~ Turk and J.D. are shopping for a shower curtain, an employee at the store calls JD "Sir" which throws him into a crisis about his age.

2:30 p.m. ~ Now on to episode two, My Big Brother.

2:28 p.m. ~ The moral of this episode is accepting that people see you in less than a flattering light.

2:26 p.m. ~ Elliot embraces her new role as the hospital tramp, giving advice about sexual positions.

2:24 p.m. ~ Poor Ted gets in the way of Dr. Kelso's rage over Dr. Cox putting a patient in a clinical trial.

2:22 p.m. ~ Random nurse, Noel, asks Eliot where the G-Spot is because of her new reputation as a slut.

2:16 p.m. ~ J.D. messes up and causes a patient to lose his sense of smell.

2:15 p.m. ~ Ted the lawyer makes another timid attempt to give legal advice to Dr. Cox.

2:14 p.m. ~ J.D. feels left out of the boys club that is surgery.

2:12 p.m. ~ Word quickly gets around the hospital about her fling.

2:11 p.m. ~ Elliot has a one night stand with a new doctor, and asks him for exactly what she wants which is "Shirt on, lights off, no talking."

2:07 p.m. ~ Dream sequence one: J.D. meets a hot woman in a bar. Goes to kiss her, and a male opera singer pulls the wig off, revealing that she's a man singing "mistake."

2:03 p.m. ~ J.D. is wearing a new white Doctor's coat, and he feels spiffy!  Elliot says "do me, do me, do me! In the middle of a bar.

2:01 p.m. ~ Meet the cast of Scrubs

2:00 p.m. ~ For the next hour, I will be live blogging two episodes of Scrubs entitled My New Coat and My Big Brother. Scrubs is a sitcom about a group of neurotic health professionals told mainly from the perspective Dr. John Dorian and his goofy daydreams.

I will be live blogging Scrubs

I will be live blogging the sitcom Scrubs from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time,  on Saturday, November 21, 2009. Feel free to tune in to Comedy Central and comment as I post. It will be fun!

Five hour pre-licensing course

I am one step closer to getting my license, having completed the five hour pre-licensing course mandated by New York State on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 from 4 to 9 PM.

I signed in and the secretary instructed me to follow the signs across the carport and into the classroom. Once across the carport, I had two choices. The doors in front of me read "beware of dog," and "five hour course."

I walked into the classroom and I was hit by an odd smell. My first thought was welcome to hell, five hours of it anyway.  There was only one other person in the room, but by the time the class was up and running, I had 14 other people with which to commiserate.

Upon closer inspection, I realized that our classroom was not really a classroom, but a poorly converted garage with no heat.  The five hour was held in a very sketchy part of the city and I was convinced that some harm would befall me if my friend was not on time to pick me up.  It is ingrained in me not to be anywhere alone at night. Not only do I feel vulnerable from the standpoint of my own physical weaknesses, but recent security alerts from campus security were on my mind.

Then we met our instructor, Bill.  Hey Bill! Bill reminds me of a stereotypical gym teacher. The only thing missing was a whistle at the end of a lanyard around his neck.  He had facial features which led me to a tenuous connection of his resemblance to Alton Brown, host of Good Eats on the food network except Bill was older and his humor very corny, kind of like a corny uncle.

I thought that I would be surrounded by 16-year-olds ready to take their driver's test the very next day, but I was wrong. They were all 18 years or older, some were from foreign countries. No one had a name that I could pronounce.

Three hours, then I was done with it. I started to zone out. I wanted nothing more to do with watching more videos about driving, circa 1982.  The oldest video was of inmates from Germany willing to drive in excess of 50 mph into a tree to demonstrate the life-saving power of their seatbelt. Really, who else would do that? By that point, I was running on only water and a 90-calorie Special K bar. I spent my last two hours there watching the clock and wondering if my friend wanted me to be another statistic.

Asexual mess I am not

Looking back on one of my old posts entitled strictly platonic, I wonder if people look at me and other people with disabilities as if we were asexual. Such assumptions are not true. A small percentage of people show complete disinterest in sex, and therefore could be considered asexual.

It is amazing what people can manage to surmise just by looking at another person, never having talked to them, or without knowing who they are. Some conclusions may be accurate but most of the time they are not. I have been wanting want to dispel such false conclusions as they can easily be made without my knowledge. And who really can correct a first impression anyway? Not every person that gathers a first impression of you will take the time to get to know you and prove or disprove their initial hypothesis.

I don't know why people think of the disabled as being asexual or sterile. I've been asked some strange questions regarding my sexuality and ability to reproduce. Such These questions have led to some of the more baffling and awkward moments of my life. Being pat on the head like a dog, and told "good girl" when a teacher's aide in high school asked if I was capable of having children and I responded with a confused "yes?!"

I mean really, why does this question pop into people's heads and go so far as to be considered appropriate to ask? I want to go up to random people and ask them "are you fertile?" and record their reactions in some way. How would you feel if someone asked you that, in an out of the blue context? At least kids only ask "what's wrong with you?" and don't take it further than that. I never thought I would consider a curious young child to be more polite than their adult counterpart.

The good side of humanity

Here are some feel good stories about people reaching out to help individuals with cerebral palsy.

Haley Christmas, a 27 year-old with cerebral palsy from Charlotte, North Carolina enjoys waving at cars from her golf cart. The golf cart was stolen, but the community pulled together to make sure that she would be able to continue smiling at passers-by.

James Rose, 24 who has cerebral palsy and Darren Brown, both of the United Kingdom, decided to go skydiving and raise money for charity while doing it. Brown, whose daughter has CP, raised money for Scope, an organization who advocates for the equal rights of people with CP in the UK. Rose raised money for the organization from which he obtained his service dog, Canine Partners and Comic Relief.

Blake, a five year old boy from Australia, gave the gift money he got received at his birthday party to Lucy Hibbert, a three year old with cerebral palsy in need of a power wheel chair.

The employees at a hairdressers in the UK chose one of their customers to be the recipient of their charity drive, eight year old Jake Hawkins. Jake has cerebral palsy and needs a specialized bike.

In New Delhi, India, 64 people participated in a 3.5 kilometer wheel chair race for charity.

I'm Back

I'm back here at The Art of Adaptation, having enjoyed my time over at Reese in Pieces which gave me the opportunity to write about writing, one of my life's passions the major passions of my life. Thank you to Abby for bringing a sports perspective to my blog. It was enlightening, and I learned a thing or two about sports for the disabled that I did not know before. I'll have to check out that movie, Murderball.

That's All For Now Folks [By Abby]

First off, thank you for hanging in there with me over the past week. A special thanks to Heather for allowing me to be a guest on her blog! I had a great time and I learned a lot about Cerebral Palsy, the life of people with CP and how sports and CP or other disabilities can be successfully combined.

You can now find me back at my blog Run Over Albany.

As Robert Frost said and a quote that I live by, "The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep."

This Made Me Cry [By Abby]

I watched this video twice and it made me cry both times.

Truly inspirational.

CPISRA- Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association [By Abby]

Photo courtesy of: CPISRA

Photo courtesy of: CPISRA

CPISRA is the Cerebral Palsy International Sports and Recreation Association who's vision is a world where people who have cerebral palsy or a related neurological condition have the opportunity to participate in the sport and recreational activity of their choice. 

The sports that the CPISRA govern are Football 7-a-side (like soccer), Boccia, and Race Runner. Most of the sports I've been reading about over this past week are pretty self explanatory. My focus in Run Over Albany, my blog, is mainly on running. Because of that I've been looking mostly into running with CP or how running helps and affects the lives of people with CP. 

But after looking over the CPISRA website and numerous other websites one of the sports that was continuously seen is Boccia. I was initially intrigued because I have never heard of this before.

According to United Cerebral Palsy Boccia is a competitive game that can be played one-on-one, in pairs, or with teams of three.

It is played on a specially marked court, usually with a hard surface.

Photo courtesy of: UCP

The goal of the game is for players/teams to throw/bowl game balls so that they get them as close as possible to a special target ball. The game begins with a player throwing the white target ball onto the court. Opponents then take turns trying to throw/bowl their game balls as close as possible to the target ball. When the game balls have all been thrown, a referee determines the points awarded to individual or teams based on measurement of how near the game balls are to the target ball.

The use of chutes and ramps allows many individuals to participate who might otherwise be unable to compete.

Photo courtesy of: CPISRA

A player may use an assistant when using a ramp. The assistant is not allowed to view the playing court and must follow specific instructions from the player at all times.

Boccia is such an amazing sport because it can be enjoyed by people of all ages and by one to a large number of people. Boccia can be competitive or for recreation.

Most importantly Boccia can be played and enjoyed by people with a wide variety of disabilities.

Run With The Cheetahs Disadvantage Or Not? [By Abby]

Oscar Pistorius aka Blade Runner
Photo courtesy of FlyingTeachers

Oscar Pistorius was born in 1986 in Johannesburg, Africa, with congenital absence of the fibula in both legs. When he was 11 months old both of his legs were amputated between his knees and ankles because of this. Pistorius quickly learned to walk on prosthetic legs (the ones he uses now are called cheetahs) and in his early years became a very avid athlete in school.

He played rugby, water polo and tennis and in addition to all three sports he took part in Olympic club wrestling. In January 2004 he suffered a very serious rugby injury and was introduced to running.

He hasn't looked back since that day.

He began competing in the 100-400m sprints in the Paralympics. Most of the time winning and breaking world records Pistorius became known as the Blade Runner and "the fastest man with no legs."

One of Pistorius's biggest dreams was to represent Africa and qualify for the (able-bodied) Olympics.

In January 2008 and independent study stated that the use of his prosthetic's gave him an unfair advantage over runners with two whole legs, thus violating an International Amateur Athletics Federation rule that prohibits the use of technical aids.

Just recently on November 6th, 2009 a study found that prosthetic legs do not grant any advantage in sprinting.


Photo courtesy of IMBD

There are not many movies that show a good representation or a representation at all of people living with disabilities who are also playing sports. Among the few is Murderball.

Murderball is a film about paraplegics who are playing full-contact rugby. This movies shows the unimaginable obstacles they faced to compete in the Paralympics. The Paralympics are an international competition for physically disabled athletes.

 Photo courtesy of Paralympic Sport NYC

There are 24 sports in which the physically disabled can compete in. Some of the sports are split up by physical disability group. Traumatic brain injury, CP and stroke are all grouped together. The sports that this group can play are Archery, Boccia, Cycling, Equestrian, Fencing, Power Lifting, Rowing, Sailing, Shooting, Soccer, Swimming, Table Tennis and Track and Field.

Running Around Town: A Quick Link Roundup [By Abby]

Andy Sullman
Photo Courtesy of Media dis&dat

On my blog I do a weekly link round up on running and things that are going on around town. My hope for this week as a guest blogger is to first off learn more about Cerebral Palsy and second find a way to combine my love of running with Heather's life and challenges of having CP.

In doing some research I found this story about Andy Sullman an 18-year-old who lives with CP and who ran the Chevron Houston Marathon.

Running has helped him to overcome some of the symptoms of CP. He did in fact finish the marathon and he did it in a faster time than he had hoped.

There was also the story of Mike LaForgia who just completed the NYC Marathon as discussed in this previous post.

I began to wonder how common this is and I found some other stories of instances of this. Apparently running is often times easier to accomplish than walking for children and adults with CP.

Here We Go! [By Abby]

Here we are, as Heather so graciously introduced me in her prior post I am Abby and run my blog Run Over Albany. I am a fellow classmate of Heather's and am very excited about the opportunity to guest blog for the next week.

The excitement is mixed with a high dose of nervousness as my blog focuses on Running and Heather's is few and far between. I embrace this opportunity and hope I can do Heather and this blog justice. I look forward to spending the next week with you all! And again here we go!

That's all for now

This week I'm going to have a guest blogger here at The art of Adaptation. Her name is Abby and in an ironic juxtaposition, she is an athlete who runs track. Abby runs a blog entitled Run Over Albany and while she is guest blogging here, I'll be over at Reese in Pieces discussing life as a writer. See you in a week!

If it ain't baroque, don't fix it

I found ten dollars in my winter coat yesterday and I used it to buy a blue betta fish. His name is Bach, as in Johann Sebastian Bach. I named my fish after the composer as I've been on a baroque music kick lately. Even my ring tone is a snippet from Bach's little fugue in G minor. Now, if I could only find my keys. No matter how long it takes me to find them, they will be in the last place I look. They certainly weren't in the first place I looked, which was on the end of the lanyard around my neck!

I often spend my Sundays doing homework and getting groceries from the local Hannaford market. But this Sunday I will be at the local arts show helping a family friend who is a potter. I was his apprentice this summer. Though I enjoy throwing and seeing how my pottery turns out, if I had the chance to go back to school again, I don't think I would go back for that particular art form, but for a degree in music performance.  I'd like to go to Juilliard in New York City. I've only been to the city three times and I  find it to be very intimidating, but also very invigorating. In reality, I've got to stick with my English degree as I am not a very talented musician. It will probably take me another year and a half to finish school (five years in all which is only one less than the number of piercings I have in my ears).

My sister and I

My mother has always warned me not to compare myself to my sister.  My sister and I are quite often polar opposites in terms of personality, interests and abilities.

She is majoring in business management and I am an English major. She goes to school in Delaware, five hours away. I go to school in upstate New York, thirty-five minutes from my house. She has an athletic scholarship and mine is an academic scholarship. She is an extrovert and I am at times painfully introverted.

We were not best friends growing up, and certainly had our share of sibling rivalry. We are only a year and a half apart in age and we've gotten closer in the past couple of years. I guess not living together all of the time keeps us from getting in each other's hair.

Brianna recently said to me "I don't just love you, I like you. I have to love you, but I don't have to like you." Despite our differences, I miss her very much especially when she is so far away.

I like you too, Brie.

With eyes looking downward

I just can't help but look down at the ground before me. The consequences for not doing so are falling as I did today, walking down the sidewalk. Headed to the drugstore to by yet another ankle brace so that I don't have to choose which ankle hurts more and deserves bracing each morning. I found a few interesting things along with a lot of garbage discarded on the sidewalk, within the space of two blocks.

There are leaves everywhere and they are the most hazardous and the most abundant thing I find on the ground these days. More interesting to me would be the pink slip entitled "While you were out" which is a little form indicating a desire to communicate with someone and the manner in which you request contact. I wonder whose missing a white and blue sock, are you?

Idols through the years of my life

When I was five years old I wanted to be The Little Mermaid, perhaps in a subconscious effort to renounce cerebral palsy and exchange my dysfunctional legs for a mermaid's tail.

In my junior year of high school my English teacher nurtured my love for writing and literature. She was my confidant as I did not have friends or trust my peers. I wanted to get a PhD just like her.

Laura was like a second mother to me, she struck me as a strong woman, independent, free spirited and hard working. She was so kind and always thought of other people. I loved the condo she live in. I thought to myself when I grow up, I want to be like Laura from her kindness to her condominium.  In 2006 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, stage four.

I want to be a talented poet like Sylvia Plath without committing suicide at age 30. I wish to say goodbye to depression before that age too.

Sloane Crosley is an essayist who writes with what I would consider enviable wit and humor. If I can learn to tell a story as well as she does than I will be able to sell a book. Which means, I will at least be able to pay my electric bill.

I accept the fact that I am already like my mother. So many children try to avoid being like their parents, but I am already there so why not embrace it? It's not so bad. I love her, she is my best friend.

Advice on advisement

Academic advisement day is one week from today. There are many priorities on academic advisement day, the first of which is to seek counsel from one's academic advisor exploring options, counting credits and making a plan for the 2010 spring semester. In full disclosure, I myself have not yet signed up for my advisement day meeting.

Timing is key to this day, so don't be late! (especially to the meeting with your academic advisor). They only last twenty minutes at best, so don't procrastinate on planning out what you want your schedule to look like. Have a plan A, B, and C. As the times preassigned by the Registrar's office can be a cruel mistress.

Instead of using a weekday free from classes to study or spend time with friends, I will be taking the five hour pre-licensing course mandated by New York State. I suppose I'm not really escaping the class atmosphere with a five hour lecture on the agenda. Five hours, forty-five dollars and one slip of paper later and I will finally be allowed to schedule my road test.

My juggling act

Taken literally, the title seems quite absurd to me, as I cannot juggle due to poor hand-eye coordination. The juggling that I am referring to is quite common among college students and most people at large.

My dad has always told me that hate is a strong word, and he's right. I don't hate college, though I throughly dislike it at times and certainly have the capacity to get stressed out to the Nth degree. Stress continues to plague me as midterm papers and presentations linger on over the course of three weeks!

As a result of my learning disability, it is just plain fact that it takes me longer to get my work done. I also have to rely on other people for help when my technology falters or stress consumes me.

I hate this, but it is true.

I just want to be done with undergrad and move on to grad school. Right now I feel like I'm in high school, and that part, I hate! But, facts are facts and it may take me five or six years to finish my Bachelors. So, for now I'm left dreaming of MFA and MSW degrees.

Taking life and running with it: a round-up

A Life Without Limits race was held Halloween day sponsored by United Cerebral Palsy of Northwest Alabama.

Michael LaForgia of Smithtown ran the New York City marathon on prosthetics made by A Step Ahead. In 2005 Michael became ill with bacterial meningitis but he doesn't let that stop him from running a marathon!

Nicholas Dronsfield of Victoria, Canada got his chance to carry the Olympic torch despite being initially thwarted by protestors. Though his primary mode of mobility is a wheelchair, he was determined to walk while carrying the torch!

The art of parallel parking: a poem

The art of parallel parking

Parallel parking is an art,
Not a science.
Unlike everything else,
I can't do it exceptionally well.
Attempting it certainly feels like hell.

My poor depth perception does not serve me well.
More than two feet from the curb,
As the other cars swerve,
To avoid hitting me.
I see a fender bender
In my future.
The art,
That is to parallel park,
Is no calling of mine.

By Heather D.

Inspiration for this poem was drawn from the frustration that is parallel parking, as well as two stanzas of Sylvia Plath's poem "Lady Lazarus."  The two stanzas appear below:

Is an art, like everything else,
I do it exceptionally well.

I do it so it feels like hell.
I do it so it feels real.
I guess you could say I've a call.