With all the statistics about the divorce rate getting higher and higher, here's a change of pace: a couple who was married 72 years, and ended up passing away together. Read this incredible story by clicking here:
This past week has been one of deep reflection for me. No, I'm not going to espouse philosophy or anything; it's quite simple, really. The devastating wildfires here in the Austin area, along with the 10th anniversary of 9/11... both events have stirred a myriad of emotions in me, and, I'm sure, in many of you as well.
We probably know at least someone who was affected by the wildfires in some way. I know three people personally who had to evacuate, but thankfully they were able to return to their homes with little or no damage. But there were countless others who lost everything, including their homes, and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.
You always hope that there is no loss of life with these events, but unfortunately, two people died from the wildfires, and my heart goes out to their families as well.
Even if many of us weren't directly affected by the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in the sense of losing loved ones or friends, I don't think we can ever forget the sense of horror and outrage we felt when the terrorists struck. Our country was being violated, and it didn't matter whether you lived in New York or Austin, if you saw the images on television or heard about it on the radio, you felt as if you were right in the thick of it.
The dominant thought running through my mind as I ran through both events this week is the way people pull together in times of tragedy or great crisis. We worry and complain daily about our local, state, and federal government, about the economy, the unemployment rate, health care, etc. But when something or someone threatens our community, state, or country, all that goes out the window. When you hear about people opening their homes to total strangers because they had to evacuate, or give generously of their finances or material possessions, it shows more than just a sense of duty or responsibility. It demonstrates real compassion, a feeling of togetherness. It's one of the many reasons I'm proud to be an American.
Most of us are familiar with the Miss America pageant, which has been crowning winners from all over the country since 1921. There is another pageant you may not be as familiar with, but is no less important in its concept. The Miss Plus America pageant is dedicated to celebrating the inner beauty of women, along with their commitment to the communities in which they live, and the 2011 Miss Plus America Elite winner lives here in Austin.
Spruce Dickerson competed with women from all over the United States last month to capture the Miss Plus America Elite crown, which is the highest honor in the Miss Plus America pageant system.
I first met Spruce several months ago, when we were paired as co-emcees for the Statewide Independent Living Council Convention. Her positive, energetic personality and passion for advocating for the voice of plus-sized women is both refreshing and unmistakable.
"All women are worthy, and all women have a voice," she told me as we talked in my office recently. "It doesn't matter what our size is. All women are beautiful." Her mantra: "love who you are, where you are."
All contestants are required to choose a platform, and Spruce chose volunteerism, because, as she put it, "I already do that. It's not a hat that I put on and take off. My life is volunteerism."
Spruce is excited about her opportunity to represent the Miss Plus America Elite crown, which is not affiliated with the Miss America contest. She will have numerous opportunities throughout the year to promote her volunteerism platform, and her theme, "give... so that others can live." In December, she will travel to Nigeria to speak and emcee at the Miss Plus Nigeria pageant. While there, she will visit orphanages and schools, where she'll be passing out school supplies. She is also currently working on a campaign called Flip Flop To Nigeria, to collect flip flops to hand out to people during her visit.
For more information about Spruce, or to line her up for a guest appearance, email Melissa Stamper at:
You may also visit Spruce's website at:
Have you ever seen or felt what Braille is like? Have you ever run your fingers across a page of Braille? If not, have you always been curious to find out?
Your chance comes this Saturday, June 25, as the Austin Council of the Blind hosts a Braille Awareness Day at Barnes & Noble, 10000 Research Blvd. in the Arboretum from 1 to 4 Pm.
Come see what the alphabet looks like in Braille, along with books that contain both Braille and print so blind and sighted children can read together, and watch a demonstration of different writing tools used to write Braille. As a special treat, have your name or a special message written in Braille for you to keep.
For more information about the Braille Awareness Day, visit:
In conjunction with Braille Awareness Day, Barnes & Noble is also hosting a Book Fair, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Austin Council of the Blind. The Book Fair will run from June 25 through June 30. Virtually any item purchased at Barnes & Noble can be used to support the Book Fair. If you shop online, all you have to do is enter the code 10512481 at checkout, and a percentage of your purchase price benefits the Austin Council of the Blind.
For further instructions on how to shop in support of the Book Fair, visit:
William and Kate are about to hire a housekeeper-dresser for their new London home. To find out more on that, and other goings-on with the Royal Couple, click the article below:
Summer can often seem busier than other times of the year, with vacation, entertaining the kids while school's out, etc.
In the midst of all this activity, we sometimes forget that not everyone is able to do these things, particularly people who are homebound du to illness or other reasons.
That's why Meals On Wheels and More is so vital to our community, providing meals for people who are otherwise unable to cook for themselves. The organization relies on dedicated volunteers to transport 90 percent of the one million meals it distributes each year throughout the Austin area.
With summer approaching,MOWAM is facing a shortage of drivers to cover its routes, and more cancellations are expected due to summer commitments. 40 of these routes are currently open, which means they don't have regular drivers assigned to them, and are having to be covered by paid drivers. This raises administrative costs, including gas.
Meals On Wheels and More is looking for both regular and substitute drivers, particularly in north Austin and areas east of I35. If you can help, visit their website at:
Which prince had the most charming uniform at the Royal Wedding? Prince William sporting his Colonel of the Irish Guard uniform, or his best man, brother Prince Harry, in his Captain of the Household Cavalry uniform?
Find out more about the princes' military garb at:
and let me know your thoughts.
Reality TV shows are quite the rage these days. Even our City of Austin is getting into the game, and it's all for a good cause.
The city has launched a program called Dare to Go Zero. Four local families have accepted a five-week challenge to reduce the amount of trash they generate, and will document their progress on camera. Each family is competing for a chance to win a sustainable home improvement package worth over $2000!
Dare to Go Zero airs Friday nights, 7 Pm, on Austin's local Government Access Channel 6, as well as on YouTube.
For more information about the Dare to Go Zero project, visit
It's been said there's an app for everything, and I'm beginning to believe it.
I downloaded an app recently called the LookTel Money Reader. It takes a picture of a dollar bill using the phone's camera, recognizes the bill's denomination utilizing Optical Character Recognition (OCR) , and says it aloud.
Being visually impaired, this has vastly improved my ability to count and sort money independently. The app cost $1.99, and it's been money well spent.
For now, LookTel only recognizes U.S. currency, and it doesn't detect counterfeit bills, but they are working on updates to make that happen.
Check out my video of a review an demonstration of the LookTel Money Reader, and visit
for more information.
If you're a fan of Taylor Swift, you'll be excited to know the lovely singer/songwriter is coming back to Austin--again!
Swift, who was here last year, is bringing her Speak Now World Tour 2011 to the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday, October 26. Tickets willgo on sale Friday, April 29, 10 Am, at the usual Texas Box Office outlets. You can also charge by phone at (512) 477-6060, or online at:
Prices are: $25, $59.50, and $69.50.
Check out this cool video of an appearance she made on "Late Night With David Letterman" late last year, playing a song from her current album "Speak Now".
I've started a new feature on my afternoon show that allows you to decide what song i should play at 5 Pm!
Each afternoon at 3:30, I will tell you what key word to text in to the number 32961. You'll be presented with a list of songs to vote for, andthe one with the most votes will be played at 5 Pm.
That's it; nothing to it, and you get to choose the music! I'll be waiting for your vote.
For many years, scientists have cited many reasons to not drink much coffee: it causes cancer, it's addicting, it's bad for your heart, etc.
Not surprisingly, more recent studies have begun to reverse those myths, and are coming up with reasons why we SHOULD drink coffee. Alex and Terri mentioned some benefits this week on Majic In the Morning, including weight loss among women.
I happened to come across an article in USA Today that touts another excuse to have a cup o' joe: it reduces the risk of stroke, particularly among women. Read the article here:
Bullying has been a problem for centuries. I certainly was a victim of my share growing up, and, I'm ashamed to say, even occasionally dished out the insults myself. My son was also a victim during middle school.
It's no secret that bullying can have major consequences, some of which can be tragic. Many teen suicides and highly-publicized school shootings over the years have been linked to youths being pushed over the edge as a result of either being bullied or feeling ostracized by their peers.
Over the past few years, the advent of the Internet, texting, and other forms of technology have created another form of bullying that can be even more destructive: cyberbullying, where humiliating messages and images are sent and forwarded to many people. Unlike face-to-face bullying, victims of cyberbullying suffer widespread public humiliation and don't have the chance to defend themseelves before the damage is done.
What can be done to stop it? The Texas Child Safety Organization, in collaboration with the Austin Independent School District and the National Day of Cyberbullying Awareness, will hold its first-ever Cyberbullying Prevention and Intervention Conference.
The event will be held Sunday, March 6, 2:30 to 5:30 Pm, at the Anderson High School Performing Arts Auditorium. Parents, students, educators, and others are encouraged to come together in an informative, interactive session to address what is being and can be done to reduce, or even totally eliminate, this growing problem among teens and preteens.
Studies show that as many as one in every three children will be cyberbullied in their teen or preteen years, so organizers of the conference believe this is a timely and potentially life-saving first step in putting a stop to it. State Represenative Mark Strama, an internet and child safety advocate, will moderate the conference.
For more information, contact Natalie Kloss-Biagini at (512) 947-3385, or email her at:
To register for the event, go online to:
Once a year, I get the privilege of emceeing an annual Bowl-a-thon that benefits an Austin area beep baseball team, to raise money for them to travel to the sport's annual World Series.
What is beep baseball? It's a modified version of baseball played by blind individuals. The ball has an electronic mechanism that beeps, and the cone-shaped foam bases emit a buzzing sound, allowing the runner to hear where the base is.
The Bowl-a-thon is more than just a fundraiser, though. It's a chance for blind and sighted people to come together, bowl a couple of games, and just have fun. All proceeds go to the Austin Blackhawks, a team that has been in existence since 1986, and is the proud winner of several World Series championships. I happen to be a former player, although I haven't swung a bat in a game in over 20 years. The World Series of Beep Baseball is held each August in a different city, and the Blackhawks have been every year for as long as I can remember.
This year's Bowl-a-thon will be held this Saturday, Feb. 12, at Highland Lanes, 8909 Burnet Rd. from 1 to 3. It's $15 per person, and you get to bowl two games. There are also door prizes given generously by numerous local businesses, and many merchants also sponsor a lane.
The 2011 Beep Baseball World Series is coming up July 31-August 7 in Indianapolis. Watch this video to find out more about how the game is played:
Things have certainly been interesting here in Central texas due to the extremely cold temperatures: frozen pipes, rolling blackouts, and such. My apartment complex is being affected by the rolling blackouts, but I barely managed to still have my morning coffee and fixed a quick hot breakfast before the power shut off again.
However, especially in times like this, I realize not everyone is able to cook their own meal, particularly those who are ill and/or homebound. That's why I want to take a moment and pay tribute to the wonderful people at Meals On Wheels and More, thank them for their dedication during this cold snap, and to ask for your help on their behalf.
The good news is that meal delivery for today will take place as usual. The agency will continue to make deliveries unless inclement weather or other emergency makes it dangerous or impossible to do so.
However, many of their high-risk clients are in need of heaters and blankets, and the agency currently has none available.
If you have extras of these items and you'd like to donate, Meals On Wheels and More would greatly appreciate it. You can drop them by their Central Kitchen Headquarters at 3227 East 5th Street in Austin. For business hours and other information, call 476-6325, or visit their website at:
Be safe, and stay warm!
I know a good number of people who are looking for jobs; some have been unemployed for quite a while. Though the economy is improving, it's doing so very slowly, and companies aren't hiring fast enough to bring the unemployment rate down significantly.
If you are still employed, congratulations; you may have escaped, at least for now, the dreaded layoff frenzy that has put so many people out of work the past few years.
But you want to keep that job, right? Here are some helpful tips from cnnmoney.com
to do that.
For several weeks now, reports have been circulating about Aretha Franklin battling pancreatic cancer. Although the Queen of Soul is reluctant to go into detail about her health, she thanks her many fans and well-wishers for the cards and letters that have been sent her way, and says she's coming along fine.
Read the full article from Usmagazine.com here:
Hard to believe we're finished with 2010, and are heading into yet another year. New Year's is filled with making resolutions, watching the big ball drop in Times Square, and observing various traditions. It makes for some very interesting reading.
Happy New Year!
People Magazine reported earlier this week that singer Shania Twain is engaged to Swiss businessman Frederic Thiebaud. Back in 2008, Shania and then-husband Robert "Mutt" Lange split after he was allegedly having an affair with Thiebaud's wife.
Let's hope the second time around for Shania will be the charm. Here's a video of her performing a Christmas song on the "Today" show back in 1998. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!
In case you missed it, Kim Kardashian was interviewed on this morning's CBS "Early Show". Erica Hill talked with the popular reality TV star about her new book, her favorite laser hair removal process, and what really gets under her skin.
So many toys. Which ones are appropriate? What's safe? Check out this great online resource for some ideas that are low-tech but creative, and educational. These are mainly for toddlers and preschoolers, but I found myself wishing I could play with some of these.
For more Christmas toy ideas, you can also check out a recent blog from the Majic Morning Show's Alex O'Neal:
Want to be first in line for Black Friday? Sorry, looks like Lori Davenport has already beaten you to it. Check out this video:
No words (or videos) can completely describe the sacrifices our troops and their families have made and continue to make each day.
But we can certainly do our part to honor those who put their lives on the line for our freedom, not just once a year onVeterans Day, but every day.
Hope you enjoy the video from a veteran to all veterans, and Happy Veterans Day!
You may not spend the majority of your day pondering such questions as, "why do dogs shake themselves after getting a bath"? But, just in case that question has always piqued your curiosity, maybe this video will clean up the mystery.
You never know what Google is going to come up with next. Case in point: they have now introduced a RoboCar, a vehicle that can drive itself, and it's being tested in California.
Ok, there is still someone in the car to make sure there isn't a catastrophe, but would you trust being on the same road with one of these babies? Check out this video:
I'm always happy to promote awareness of community events, especially when they involve helping children who have suffered abuse.
Champions for Children is an annual event that benefits Helping Hand Home for Children, a local nonprofit organization that provides services such as residential treatment, therapeutic foster care, adoption services, and charter school education services to children who have suffered major abuse. The benefit will be held Tuesday, Oct. 19, 12 noon, at the Hilton Austin Hotel. It's an awards luncheon that honors local volunteers, caregivers, and staff of nonprofit groups who devote themselves to helping children in need.
This year's emcee is Ron Franklin of ESPN, a man I have admired for many years, and who has one of the best broadcast voices I've ever heard. The keynote speaker is Lee Woodruff, Contributing Editor for ABC's "Good Morning America", and wife of ABC News Correspondent Bob Woodruff. Lee has received high praise for her riveting account of her husband's recovery from injuries following a roadside bombing in Iraq.
For more information about Champions for Children, email Julie Freeman, Director of Development, Helping Hand Home for Children, at:
To find out more about Helping Hand Home, and the services they offer, visit:
Looks like Microsoft is trying to find ways to keep up with its competitors in the Smart Phone industry. Just in time for holiday shopping, they will soon come out with their Windows Smart Phones. Check out this video, and find out if this is somethingyou might want to put on your list.
I don't know anyone who would turn down $100, $200, and especially $1000! Especially if all you have to do to earn it is listen to your favorite radio station (that would be us, right?)
That's exactly what the Majic 95.5 Payroll Payoff is about. If you're a majic Loyal listener, you can enter for your chance to winn $100 an hour up to $1000.
Each weekday between 9 Am and 5 Pm, we'll call out Loyal Listener Club Member names at the top of each hour. That person has 10 minutes to call in and be put on the clock for $100 an hour, up to $1000.
If the person does not call within minutes, the contestant currently on the clock will stay on it for another hour, thus earning another $100.
Come on, what have you got to lose? If you're not a Majic Loyal Listener Club member yet, join here:
Faith Hill turned 43 this week. Born Audrey Faith Perry on September 21, 1967 in Jackson, MS, she fittingly grew up in the nearby small town of Star.
That's exactly what she became in the 1990's, and established herself as not only a superb country singer, but as a crossover artist into pop and adult contemporary. Her brilliant smile, movie-star looks, and much-celebrated marriage to country star Tim Mc-Graw only enhanced her star power.
What happens when telling a little white lie paints you as the most promiscuous girl in school? That's what a scheming student, played by Emma Stone, discovers in "Easy A", a contemporary high school comedy based on the Nathaniel Hawthorne classic "The Scarlet Letter".
The movie, rated Pg-13 and directed by Will Gluck, debuts in theaters this weekend. Majic 95.5 had a special screening of the film this past Tuesday at the Regal Gateway Stadium 16. See a trailer here:
I just read about a new study by British scientists claiming women are attracted to men who have flamboyant dancing moves, similar to the trademark of John Travolta.
Is this true, ladies? Are you more apt to be attracted to a man if he's a great dancer? Feel free to weigh in.
Gloria Estefan turned 53 this week. Born September 1, 1957 in Havana, Cuba, Gloria's family left Havana when she was two and settled in Miami.
Along with the tremendous success Gloria has had as a musician, she also had to overcome major injuries after a bus accident in March 1990 left her with a broken vertebra. But she came back over a year later, and is still recognized as one of the most talented female singers in the last three decades.
Now, get ready to dance!
When my kids were little, I remember them watching Dora the Explorer. My daughter, in particular, used to watch with rapt attention.
It's hard to believe that Nickelodeon is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Dora. I wonder if they knew how successful the show would be when it first began airing. Dora is more than just a little girl; she's become a multibillion-dollar franchise, and millions of children all over the world from many different cultures have benefited from her show.
Happy Anniversary, Dora! Or is it Happy Birthday?
August 16, 1977, was one of those major "where were you" days, the day rock 'n roll lost its king. In body, that is; his legend may even be bigger now than when he was alive and at his peak.
I found this video of the studio version of "My Way" from the early 70's, that has some great pics. Check it out here:
Barbra Streisand has millions of fans, but very few are as famous as Jennifer Aniston.
The 41-year-old actress, recently shot a spectacular Mark Seliger photo spread featuring iconic portraits of Streisand. The spread comes out this week in the September issue of harper's Bazaar Magazine, in conjunction with the promotion of Aniston's new movie "The Switch", which comes out August 20.
Check it out here:
Ok, soFox isn't quite ready to reveal who will replace Simon Cowell and Ellen Degeners as judges on American Idol next season. But there are plenty of names being talked about, including Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. I say let the audience vote.
I wondered how long this would take, but Yogi Bear is being made into an animated movie, in 3D, no less, to be released this coming December 17.
Yogi Bear will be voiced by Dan Aykroyd, while Justin Timberlake will be the voice of Boo-Boo. Anna Farisplays a filmmaker who travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a documentary, and runs across Yogi and Boo-Boo.
Check out a trailer here:
David de Rothschild, skipper of the boat Plastiki, sailed all the way from San Francisco to Sydney, Austrailia, a voyage that covered 8000 nautical miles over a four-month period.
This doesn't sound particularly unusual, until you discover this was no ordinary boat: it was made almost entirely of plastic bottles, over 12,000 of them, to be exact! Rothschild wanted to increase awareness of the dangers of plastic waste, after reading a United Nations report that claimed plastic waste was posing a serious threat to the world's oceans.
The 60-foot catamaran had to fight fierce Pacific storms, but docked in Sydney to the cheers of 100 people who gathered to see the unusual boat.
Very clever, indeed.
I'm filling in for Alex on Majic In the Morning for the next couple weeks, and Friday morning, I talked about an article that has another take on why there is increased problems with obesity in the U.S.
A White House Task Force recently released a report citing a class of chemicals in our food called endocrine-disrupting chemicals, or EDC's, that are making us fat.
See the entire article here:
I've always been fascinated with world records, especially crazy ones. Over the weekend, i heard about a guy from Texas who set a new world record for the longest ten-pin bowling marathon.
Stephen Shanabrook, 24, of Plano, bowled for 125 hours, whichstretched over a five day period. His scores certainly ran the gamut, from a high of 198 to a low of 5.
Check out the article here:
One of my favorite singers of the 70's turned 64 this week.
Linda Ronstadt was born in Tucson, Az, on July 15, 1946. Her 1975 hit "You're No Good" hit #1 on the U.S. singles chart. She also had 15 other top 40 hits.
A talented singer and songwriter, Linda has proven her music style runs deeper than just pop. She's also ventured into folk, Latin, country, and even new wave influences.
Happy Birthday, Linda!
Here's a new way to decide a runoff election: just draw playing cards. That's what happened in Nevada, where two political candidates were tied after a primary. Check out the story here:
Well, it was a nice run for the USA soccer team, but its World Cup hopes ended with Saturday's 2-1 loss to Ghana.
I'm not a huge soccer fan. I don't dislike the sport; in fact, I rather admire the athletes who play it. I'm just not one who will sit down and watch it on a regular basis. But it's amazing how one event, one sport, and one team can bring out the kind of interest the USA soccer team did. Everyone from blue collar workers to housewives cheered their hearts out, praying for miracles and shedding tears after the final match for the U.S.
I can't help but compare the World Cup event to the Summer or Winter Olympics. It's every four years, athletes get to represent their country in a worldwide competition, and people who aren't normally fans of this event lend their support to the team.
Will I suddenly become addicted to soccer, and watch every match I can find? Not likely. But like so many others, my heart dropped when Ghana scored what turned out to be the winning goal in overtime, and the USA Team's run came to an end. This year's World Cup has certainly given us some bittersweet memories.
Players aren't the only ones who are making sacrifices for the World Cup. Some American fans are sacrificing to make the trip to South Africa to show support for their country.
Still having trouble finding that perfect gift for Dad this Sunday? Maybe this article will give you that much-needed inspiration. Happy Father's Day, Dad!
We place a lot of emphasis (as well we should) on the Fourth of July, and its significance to our country and the U.S. Flag.
But we don't want to ignore another important day that honors our flag: June 14, Flag Day. This particular day was started bya couple of schoolteachers in the 1880's, and like July 4, is a great time to reflect on what our soldiers fight for, and what our flag stands for.
Find out more about Flag Day here:
I recently became familiar with a wonderful local nonprofit organization called Minis and Friends whose mission is to share the love and spirit of miniature horses to people who are suffering mentally, physically, or emotionally.
This group of horse lovers shares their mobile herd of trained miniature horses free of charge with children's shelters, schools, hospice centers, group homes, and many other places to interact with people of all ages. They may be children with disabilities, at-risk youth, or elder adults.
In a world filled with stress and suffering of all kinds, these caring people and their calm, gentle minis provide a welcome comfort. I am always happy to recognize individuals and groups that do their part to give something back to the community in which they live and work. Minis and Friends has various activities and fundraisers in many parts of the Austin area, so I hope you'll join me in attending some of them.
If you'd like to know more about Minis and Friends, you can watch this segment from YouTube, or visit
Have you often thought about what it would feel like to sing like your favorite artist? Or even taking it a step further: uploading a video of you singing like that artist for all the world to see?
Well, if you're a fan of John Mayer, wonder no more! Starting June 7, you will have the chance to represent Austin in a national singing contest by uploading a video of yourself singing like John Mayer!
This is going to be fun! If you're the local and/or national winner, you'll win some fabulous prizes, including an opportunity to meet John in person, and a meeting with his label, Columbia Records.
Show us your stuff! Let's prove to the world why Austin is known as the "live music capital"!
Most of us have fun plans this Memorial Day weekend: grilling, going out on the lake, visiting family and friends in and out of town. Like many other three-day weekends, it's a chance to get away from the pressures and stress of work and life.
But this isn't just another three-day weekend. It's a time to reflect on what many of our American soldiers have sacrificed for our freedom. It's the ultimate sacrifice: their lives. So while we're having fun with our activities and families this weekend, let's not forget those who died for us to have the freedoms we have, or their families who carry on their legacy.
Check out these video clips about Memorial Day from the History Channel:
Paula Abdul is expected to be back in the judge's chair during next fall's television season. No, not with American Idol, but with a new dance competition. Read the scoop here:
Cher is turning 64 this week, May 20. Not only is she a talented singer and actress, but she puts on a great show, whether onstage or on television.
I remember watching the TV show she did with Sonny in the early 70's. Here's a video that may bring back some memories, and it's one of the songs we feature on our Super Songs of the 70's weekend.
A drop in ratings and Simon Cowell's departure from American Idol after this season, and capitalizing on the success of "Glee" are just two of the things Fox TV is looking at for next fall. Find out the network's plans for the fall season here:
With increasing concern over obesity among children in the U.S., it's nice to know celebrity chefs like Rachael Ray are getting on board to promote healthy eating among kids.
Find out what Ray did Thursday at a Brooklyn School by clicking here:
I think it's safe to say almost all of us fear something: heights, snakes, speaking in public... the list is endless.
My biggest fear is deep water. I think it started when I was about five, and I stepped off into a swimming pool before I was ready. I went under and struggled a bit before my father pulled me up.
I had another experience when I was about 10 that has made me so afraid of diving boards, I haven't gotten near one since. We had a pool at the school I was attending, and the teacher told us to go to the diving board. I must have been thinking about my traumatic experience from a few years back of stepping off into a pool, because I was petrified at the thought of jumping off a diving board and not being able to touch bottom.
When it was my turn to jump, I refused, to the point of sitting on the board. Maybe if I sit here long enough, I thought, the teacher will feel sorry for me and let me get off.
That didn't happen. Before I knew it, she gave me a little push, and I plunged into the water!
I don't remember how, but I managed to get to the side of the pool and, with assistance, get out. But I have never gone off a diving board since. Thankfully, I still get in swimming pools every now and then, but stay in the shallow end; no deep water for me.
What's your biggest fear? Are you able to fight back the panic and overcome it, or do you avoid the situation at all costs? Feel free to tell me about it.
Our country has seen its share of disasters lately: earthquakes, the recent oil spill in the Gulf, and the major flooding in Nashville.
One ray of hope through these and many other trials is seeing many people pull together and help those affected. Celebrities are no exception. I read over the weekend that Taylor Swift donated half a million dollars toward helping the Nashville flood victims. Once again, Taylor proves why she is adored by so many.
Click the below link to read about the generosity of her and other stars:
A few weeks ago, I posted a story about a girl who made a prom dress out of gum wrappers. Well, thanks to Nolan Cruise, one of our weekend personalities here at Majic (Saturday mornings from 6 to noon), I think I found something to top that: a prom dress made of juice packets!
A California teen made her prom dress from 117 Capri Sun packets, hot glue, and thread. It took her three weeks to make, and her boyfriend even helped by drinking the punch from many of the packets.
They had to have been the sweetest couple at that prom! Check out the story here:
I love the Internet. No question. It has opened doors to so many things and more information than we could only dream about years ago. Facebook is one of the sites I find myself logging onto more and more each day; I've even been able to connect with friends I haven't seen since high school (no, I won't tell how long ago that's been).
But the following news item is a reminder of how careful we need to be about what we share on the Web, whether it's Facebook or an online store. We also need to stay in the know about where our personal information is going, and what we can do about it.
Here's a story I came across concerning Facebook's sharing of information with other sites, and some lawmakers who are concerned about it.
This past weekend, I decided to catch a movie while relaxing at home after dinner.
Nothing unusual about that on the surface, but this movie had an element not many people know about. It was an "audio-described" movie. Audio description, also called Descriptive Video, is used by people who are blind to follow movies, television shows, plays, and other events. A narrator, or describer, gives a verbal picture of visual elements that a blind person like myself would not be able to see: costumes, facial expressions, scene changes, gestures, etc. The extra audio narration is placed so as not to interfere with the dialogue or action of what you're watching.
The movie I watched (yes, I do use the word "watch" just like anyone else) was the action thriller "Behind Enemy Lines" which came out in 2001. It's a fictional story of the Bosnian Civil War during the 1990's, starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman.
The plot centers around an American Naval flight officer (Wilson) whose plane is shot down during a recon mission after entering a no-fly zone to check out some suspicious activity. What he discovers are mass graves from a secret genocidal operation by the Bosnian Serb Army against the local Muslim population. A trailer of the film (minus the audio description) can be found here:
Thanks to the audio describer, I was able to know as much detail as a sighted person about what was happening visually. For example: "The Admiral took a handful of documents and flung them across the room." Usually, I would have to guess what is going on, figure it out later, or have a sighted person quickly whisper it to me. What a wonderful experience I had with the audio description! I not only "heard" the movie, but "saw it" through this great innovation.
For more information about audio described events, visit:
Since the launch of the iPad, we human beings have debated back and forth on whether this is the next thing that will change the world, or just one big flop.
But who says animals can't weigh in on this subject? Check out the link below featuring two videos of a cat and a dog trying out Apple's latest product. As you will see, their reactions are totally opposite of each other (no surprise there, right)?
Who's right? Well, you decide.
A couple of weeks ago, my son James and I went to the UT football spring scrimmage. Other than getting a nasty sunburn (I usually don't think of sunscreen this early), we had a great time. I think he and I made a new friend: Big Bertha, the drum. Check out this pic.
How's this for creativity? A high school student showing up at her prom wearing a dress made of... gum wrappers? Now that's something to chew on! Check out this video:
I've only driven a car once in my life (when you're blind, you don't exactly get many opportunities to do such a thing). It was over 15 years ago, in a deserted mall parking lot late at night on Christmas Eve, and I travelled at a grand speed of 17 miles an hour, with a sighted friend telling me when to turn or stop. She and her daughter even videotaped it for me.
Therefore, I have no idea why I had a dream the other night about driving a car. Not just driving, mind you, but becoming angry at another driver to the point of wanting to ram her car!
I dreamed I went to the grocery store with a friend. As I walked out of the store, some lady started making fun of me being blind, got in a Cadillac, and started to drive away.
At that point, I was so mad I jumped in the car of the person I was with, and began chasing after the Cadillac. Let me tell you: in this dream, I was going a whole lot faster than mph17, and there were plenty of other cars in the parking lot! But, you know how dreams are; they are often fragmented, and don't always make much sense on the surface. One would think that I hit one car after another trying to get to this Cadillac, but I kept missing them, including the car I was after.
That's how it ended. I never caught up with the lady, thankfully. But it definitely left me wondering what it all meant. I'm not a violent person by nature, and I certainly don't promote road rage. I don't even have a problem with people who drive Cadillacs; my mom drives a used one.
I'm no Sigmund Freud, but it probably has to do with my sensitivity toward being made fun of regarding my blindness. It's something I've come to expect, but naturally no one likes to be poked fun at about something they have no control over, right? Or maybe I just wanted to prove to this snobby lady that I wasn't helpless, and would show her by chasing her down.
Whatever the meaning, it sure makes for a great story! What's the craziest dream you've ever had? I'd love to hear about it.
Each week, the American Idol judges hand down their sentences: either you last another round, or you go home.
For what it's worth, recent Idol cast-off Didi Benami has a critique of her own for the panel. What do you think? Is it objective, or sour grapes? Check out the story here:
If you're a fan of Marvin Gaye, the first two days of April are significant for two different reasons.
April 2 is Marvin's birthday. If he were still alive, he would have turned 71 this week. Unfortunately, April 1, 1984, was a tragic day, as Gaye's father shot and killed his son during a heated argument, cutting the singer's life short the day before his 45th birthday.
Gaye's father was an ordained minister of the House of God, a very strict Christian sect, and he frequently beat Marvin as a child. Marvin suffered from drug and depression issues throughout his life, as well as marital and tax troubles. His depression was so bad at one point toward the end of his life, he threatened suicide on a number of occasions. Marvin moved back in with his parents shortly before his death to deal with his cocaine addiction. However, his depression only became worse, which led to the bitter argument between him and his father.
I remember being on my way to one of my college classes and hearing on the radio that Marvin had died. Since it was April Fool's Day, the thought flitted through my mind that this was some cruel April Fool's prank by a radio station (yes, these things do happen in our business from time to time). But it didn't take long to find out the sad details of his death.
Like so many other entertainers, Marvin's life was marked with controversy and tragedy, but his influence on the music industry, particularly with Motown Records, cannot be disputed.
Happy Birthday, Marvin!
Most of us have pet peeves, those things that annoy or irritate us. I've often wondered how the term came about. According to Chacha.com, it was first used in 1919, and comes from the 14th-century word "peevish".
If I thought about it long enough, I could probably come up with dozens of things that bother me. Since I don't want to turn this into a whining fest, I decided to just list my three biggest pet peeves.
BEING PUT ON HOLD. Yes, I know times are tight, and businesses are having to do more with less people (it's no different where I work). But being on hold for any longer than five minutes drives me crazy, especially when the automated system comes on about every 30 seconds to say, "your call is important to us. We're working hard to take your call next. Please continue to hold for the next available agent." I'd rather just hear music, or even silence, than to have this repeated over and over.
NOT BEING ON TIME. Naturally, there are occasions this can't be helped, but I'm talking about a chronic problem. If you tell me you'll be here at 3 Pm, and show up at 6, that's three hours I could have done something else. It also makes me think I'm not that big a priority.
SOMEONE WHO TALKS WITH THEIR MOUTH FULL. This is probably my biggest one. I usually can't understand what the person is saying, and they'll have to end up repeating it. I'd rather they savor their food, then we can talk.
We may not be able to do anything about our pet peeves most of the time, but it's good to let it out every now and then. Feel free to share yours.
I've been hiding a deep secret for years, as early as my childhood. It was only a few weeks ago that I accidentally let it slip in a conversation with a friend of mine. I'm amazed I kept it hidden as long as I did, but I've finally decided to go public and get it off my chest.
Brace yourself: this could be quite shocking. I CAN'T STAND MACARONI AND CHEESE! That's right: mac and cheese, a favorite of millions of kids and grownups everywhere. Not me; I can't stand the smell, taste, or texture of the stuff. Come on now. How many people do you know who won't eat one of the most popular foods ever?
Oh, and while I'm at it, I might as well reveal another food shocker: I don't like dressing, either. I'm not talking about salad dressing; I mean the kind you have with turkey at Thanksgiving! My mother still recalls the time when I was about six, and she attempted to make me eat some of my aunt's homemade dressing. Without being gross, let's just say it didn't work out too well, and even to this day, I won't touch it.
Is something wrong with me? Do I have Popular Food Deficiency Syndrome, or PFDS? (I'm not sure if there is such a condition; it just sounded appropriate).
My friend thought I was the weirdest person ever upon hearing this revelation. What do you think? Is there a popular dish or kind of food you absolutely despise that would make someone's jaw drop in shock if they knew? I'd love to hear about it.
I do like chocolate. At least no one can pin that one on me.
Just when you think you've seen everything (no pun intended), a special device is being created to help the blind "see" by using their tongue!
Visit the following link to the story:
Remember the E-Trade Babies commercial featured in this year's Super Bowl and the recently completed Winter Olympics in Vancouver?
Lindsay Lohan certainly hasn't forgotten. In fact, the actress has filed a lawsuit claiming the Wall Street firm TV ad was taking a swipe at her.
Though her full name wasn't mentioned in the ad, Lohan's attorney claims that "Lindsay" is an equally recognizable moniker for her client, like "Oprah" or "Madonna".
Lohan's substance abuse problems have been well-documented, so perhaps the ad was taking a shot at her. But the babies do not resemble her in appearance. As for the name being totally synonymous with her? Ok, quick! How many Oprahs or Madonnas do you know personally? Probably not many. Now, how many Lindsays (or even Lindseys) have you met? I can name quite a few; in fact, I work with one here at the station.
This is one suit that might be hard to prove. But then again, you never know. Gosh, I sure hope she doesn't come after me for blogging about her!
Last week, Majic 95.5 held an exclusive screening of the movie "The Ghost Writer" at the Galaxy Highland 10.
I didn't get to attend the sneak, but after watching a trailer and reading the plot, I'm definitely putting it on my list of movies to catch in the next few weeks.
I wasn't much of a movie buff growing up, but when you have kids, you find yourself watching almost all the kids' movies they enjoy. In the past few years, especially as my son James has grown older, I've become more interested in movies, as he's a real movie buff; he even briefly worked at a local movie theater last year.
"The Ghost Writer" is directed by Roman Polanski, and stars Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, and Kim Cattrall.
A ghost writer (McGregor) has agreed to help a British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan) complete his memoirs after a former aide dies under mysterious circumstances. After digging into the memoirs, the writer discovers his predecessor's death was no accident, and his own life is in danger.
Sounds like my kind of political thriller. To view a trailer of the film, visit the link below:
Once a year, I emcee a bowl-a-thon for the Austin Blackhawks, a team that plays a sport called Beep Baseball. Yes, the name is as it sounds: a game that uses a beeping baseball, and it's played by the blind.
The ball itself is actually a large softball with an electronic mechanism inside that emits a beeping sound once the pin is pulled out. I played the game myself years ago, and I'm here to tell you, it's every bit as competitive as regular baseball, or any sport, for that matter. There's even a World Series of Beep Baseball, held every year in early August.
The bowl-a-thon helps raise money to send the Blackhawks to play in the World Series, which will be held this year in Rochester, Minnesota. The proceeds come from a registration fee to bowl, as well as corporations who sponsor individual lanes.
The event is always a lot of fun. Each bowler gets to bowl two games, but it's not a competition. It's just a way to get together, have fun, and help a great cause. Best of all, blind and sighted people can bowl together (blind bowlers use a portable rail to feel their way along the lane). The event has been going on for about the last 17 years, and usually raises several thousand dollars each year to cover the Blackhawks' expenses to the Series.
This year's bowl-a-thon will take place this Saturday, Feb. 13, from 1 to 3 at Highland Lanes, 8909 Burnet Rd. Registration begins after 12 noon, and it's $20 a person. Anyone, blind or sighted, is welcome to participate. Who knows? You might even win one of the many door prizes I'll be giving away, generously donated by local businesses.
If you're curious to find out more about Beep Baseball, check out the official website of the National Beep Baseball Association, the governing organization of the sport:
Hope to see you Saturday!
I have to say this year's Super Bowl was one of the most enjoyable I've watched in a while, for several reasons.
First, it was a close game. I'm always afraid of the game becoming a blowout early. I always like an entertaining matchup, no matter who I'm cheering for.
Second, the commercials were fabulous this year. I think I laughed at almost all of them. Doritos House Rules was probably my favorite. Check it out here:
Also, I got to watch it with my son James, who usually visits me every other weekend. Nothing like sharing a pizza and an exciting football game with your son (especially since we were both cheering for the Saints).
Ah, yes, the Saints! That was the best part: the underdog won! When Peyton Manning threw that interception late in the fourth quarter, I knew the game was over. I'm not a regular Saints fan, but who could resist rooting for them, particularly with what New Orleans has been through over the past few years. Yes, there is still a lot of work to be done to repair the damage Katrina did to the city. But, at least for a little while, the Saints have provided a nice distraction, not to mention a feel-good story. The partying will probably last a good while.
To check out all the celebrating, visit this link:
It was 25 years ago this week that Foreigner's hit "I Want To Know What Love Is" reached Number One on the Billboard singles chart, and stayed there two weeks. The song was penned by London-born singer/songwriter Mick Jones, who sang lead vocals on the song.
Also coming in at Number One this week was Barbra Streisand's 1974 hit single "The Way We Were". The song, which was the theme from the film of the same name, stayed at the top for four weeks, and went on to win both an Oscar and a Grammy for Song of the Year.
Enjoy the music!
I imagine most of us have mixed feelings about all the high-tech devices that have come out over the last few years, depending on the situation. Sometimes, they can excite us, sometimes frustrate us (especially when they don't work or crash), and there are moments when you may feel downright overwhelmed by the frequency with which they change. That cell phone you bought yesterday? They just came out with an even better version of the one you walked out of the store with, darn it!
But I think the majority of us would have to agree that most of the time, this 21st-century technology can be very beneficial. After all, what would we do if we were told we could never send another email or text message, or close another business deal on our wireless phone while away from the office, or (shudder) chat on Facebook? We'd be lost.
Another sector of the population who has enjoyed the luxury of current technology is the blind and visually impaired. Let's put it this way: I wouldn't be able to continue to do my job here at the radio station very effectively without it.
Many people are fascinated when I tell them I have speech software on my computer, which allows me to read emails, surf the Internet, or even write this blog. I have a Braille device that I use to do those things as well. I even bought an iPhone 3GS, which has voice software that enables me to navigate the touch screen, which would otherwise be impossible for a blind person to use.
Since I get a lot of inquiries about these devices, I thought it would be helpful to include a few links to some companies who specialize in this particular field. Progress still needs to be made in making today's technology accessible for blind people, and some of the devices and software are quite expensive. But these products have opened many doors to opportunities that a blind person has never had. If you know someone who is blind and would benefit from this, or if you're just curious, check out the links below.
Oops! Gotta run. I think I just got another email I need to answer.
Recently, I took my son to see "Avatar", one of the hottest flicks to come out in a long time.
We decided to maximize the experience by seeing it at the I-Max Theater in 3D. For a blind person like myself, this didn't mean anything, but I wanted James to enjoy the experience, and did he ever! He thought the 3D glasses were the coolest thing, and it felt so real, as if the action was right on top of you. Just hearing it made me feel the same way.
It's already grossed enough at the box office to be considered one of the top movies of all time. If you get a chance to see it, James and I highly recommend it. Here is the "Avatar" official website:
How much would you pay for a fish? Or, more specifically, a tuna that weighs over 500 pounds?
Well, at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, the world's largest wholesale fish market, a bluefin tuna was purchased at an auction for 16.3 million yen, or $177,000 in American green. It was the largest price for a fish at the auction since 2001. Guess the tough worldwide economy hasn't affected everyone.
To view the whole article, click below:
I've always been fascinated with the history of making New Year's resolutions, and how it all came about.
I'm a goal-oriented person by nature, but I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, mainly because I don't believe in having a set time to resolve to do something (and like many of us, I fail to follow through with them anyway). I'd much rather set realistic long- and short-range goals and shoot for them, whether it's January 1 or May 31.
But recently, my curiosity has been piqued. How did the actual tradition get started? Apparently, it goes way back to 153 B.C. The Romans believed in a mythical king named Janus, who supposedly had two faces: one that could look back on events, and one that could tell the future.
If you're interested in finding out more, click on the link below, and I hope you resolve to have a safe and happy New Year!
As an adult, I still look forward to the Christmas holiday. But things change so much from childhood to when we're grown up. When I was a kid, I had very few responsibilities, I was carefree, and able to just enjoy the family gatherings, the food, and of course, believing Santa Claus was really the one who brought all the presents.
My, how time flies, and how different things are! The pace of being a grownup just seems so much more hectic and stressful during the holidays than I remember. Now, merchants have Christmas decorations up before Halloween. Now, I have a job, and it's my responsibility to buy gifts as well as receive them.
More than ever, I find myself reflecting on those cherished memories I had as a child, like the Christmas Day when i was about eight, and I awoke to find my first bike under the tree, something I didn't expect. I remember all those times I used to help put up the tree (we always had the real ones). I loved the smell of the pine needles, and feeling so proud of being a part of putting up the decorations. I also loved going Christmas caroling, especially to retirement and group homes, bringing holiday cheer to those who were lonely or less fortunate.
I've had the pleasure of experiencing many of those same memories with my own kids. But as I've grown older, I've come to realize something even more important than all of those things. Yes, it's fun to open presents, eat good food, laugh and spend time with family and friends, and sing those wonderful Christmas songs. But to me, the real meaning of Christmas is that Jesus Christ was born, that he is our Savior, and he gave his life for all of us. That isn't just a memory for me; it's a belief that will live in my heart forever.
On behalf of everyone at Majic 95.5, I wish you a very Merry Christmas! May it bring you much peace and joy.
Time is passing by so quickly. That always seems to be the case, especially during the holidays, doesn't it? Our Majic of Christmas Toy Drive is no exception. It seems as if we just started it, but it's winding down as we head into our final week.
This Wednesday, I will be making my last appearance of the toy drive at the Arboretum, between Pottery Barn and Express. We've gotten lots of wonderful toys, but we still have room for yours, so hope you can make it by.
Don't forget about our gift wrapping party this Saturday from noon to 4 at Designer Floors of Texas, 3841 Ranch Rd. 620 South. Bring your gift wrapping supplies: paper, tape, scissors, etc. and help us wrap all the toys you've so graciously donated. Hey, Santa will even be there to help. It's become as much a tradition as the toy drive itself, so hope you can make it by.
This past weekend, I went to Samuels Diamonds in Round Rock, at Lafrontera, for one of our Majic Of Christmas toy donation drops.
I've been involved in every single toy drive we've had over the past eight years, but I'm always touched by the generosity of people who bring us new, unwrapped toys, whether it's one toy or several bags full. But I'm especially moved when children take the lead in the giving.
One of the people I met on Saturday was 12-year-old Josh, who came with his mom to drop off some toys. In the course of our conversation, I asked if I could have a picture taken with them. Josh's mom decided to let Josh take it with me, and told me it was his idea to make a donation to the toy drive.
On behalf of all of us at Majic, we salute you, Josh, and other kids like you, for being willing to help others who are in need. Check out our photo.
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and didn't stuff yourself too much (I have made an effort to not stuff myself silly, because I hate the feeling I get afterwards).
You may have noticed we kicked off our Majic Of Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving, and that means it's also time for our toy drive. All of us at Majic are very grateful to Whole Foods Market and the Assistance League of Austin for their help on this year's drive.
The holidays are a mixed bag of sorts for most of us. We revel in the joy the season brings, whether it's the music, opening presents, or the birth of Jesus. But not everyone looks at this time of year with gleeful anticipation. Some of you have unpleasant memories during this time of year. Maybe you lost a job or loved one during the holidays (I lost my grandmother three weeks before Christmas about 25 years ago, and I still think about it). Perhaps the stress of work, shopping, or having to plan the family get-together is getting to you.
I've been involved in every single majic Of Christmas toy drive since we started it back in 2001. The thing I have noticed most is how it brings our community together, no matter what the circumstances are. For the families who are nominated, it's a chance to give their children a brighter holiday season, and the feeling that maybe, just maybe, it's the beginning of better times.
For those who give, there comes with it the joy of knowing that you have made a difference in a child's life, even if all you could give was one toy. I experienced this feling myself several years ago when my family and I sponsored the children of a nominated family. Their expression of happiness and gratitude is something I'll never forget.
This year has been especially tough for a lot of people. But it is my hope that once again, our Majic Of Christmas will touch many lives. If you're able to donate a new, unwrapped toy, check our website for details on where we will be for you to drop off your donation. If you're not able to give, and wish to nominate your family or someone else's, fill out our online nomination form. You can also join us at our gift wrapping party Dec. 19 from noon to 4 Pm at Designer Floors of Texas, 3841 Ranch Rd. 620 South. Just bring your gift wrapping supplies and come join the fun!
My 16-year-old son James and I went to the UT-Kansas game this past Saturday night, and wow, was it fun! We try to do at least one game a year, but haven't been the past two seasons, so he and I have been pumped for weeks about seeing all the rennovations that have allowed attendance to be over the 100,000 mark.
We sat in the upper deck, and James was very happy with the view. Since I'm blind, it doesn't matter where I sit, but I always try to get the best seats possible for him. When it was announced that the stadium had set an all-time attendance record, James became excited.
"We picked a good game to go to," he pointed out. "Not only is Colt McCoy going to break the record for most wins in the NCAA, but I was a part of setting the attendance record. Pretty cool."
It certainly was. I remember reflecting how much I enjoy these father-son events, especially now, as he's almost grown. He must have been thinking the same thing. "We need to keep doing this, even after I'm grown," he said. "As long as my kids can come, too."
"Why, of course they can," I replied. "I'm all for that."
James was having the time of his life, jumping up and down, clapping, and cheering at the top of his lungs. He even talked a little trash.
"You smell that, Dad?" he asked me at one point during the fourth quarter, when Texas had put the game well out of reach.
Not knowing what he was driving at, I sniffed the chilly air. "No, I don't smell anything. What is it?"
"It's the smell of burnin' Jayhawks," he replied, laughing.
When I first heard there would be no Trail Of Lights at Zilker Park this year, my initial reaction was one of regret. It's been a while since I've walked the trail (my kids were very little then; they're practically grown now). But we had such fun.
The lights themselves didn't hold great meaning to a blind person like myself. But I liked walking the trail, visiting Santa's house, and just hearing the joy in my children's voices as they took in the whole event.
My, how things change. The tough economic landscape has forced the city of Austin to scale back the Trail Of Lights event this year. When I first read the headline, "No Trail Of Lights This Year" I thought they were eliminating the whole thing. As I read on, however, I was glad to find out there will still be an event, albeit a scaled-back version.
Instead of the 1.25-mile trail in past years, it will be about a half-mile, centered around the Zilker Tree. It will be a nine-day event instead of two weeks, and there will be concessions, concerts, and other entertainment around the event. Parking fees will drop from $15 to $10, and, perhaps the best news of all, it will still be free admission. The city had originally planned to charge a $5 admission to anyone over the age of 11, but they decided to do away with that idea.
No, it may not be the Trail Of Lights we've come to embrace as an annual Austin tradition, but it may still be fun. Perhaps times will be better by next year or the year after, and the full event can be brought back. At least we're still having one.
I was sitting at the desk in my office here at the station when the first email alert of Thursday's tragedy at Ft. Hood came across.
My initial reactions were the predictable ones: surprise, shock, and horror, not only because it was so close to home, but on a military base, a place I'm sure we all feel is as safe as it gets. Memories of questions about 9/11 also went through my mind. Why did this happen? What can we do to help?
The coming days and weeks will most likely answer the question of why, as the authorities piece all the information together. As to the second question... at times like these, many of us feel helpless as to what to do. But there are several things I believe we can do that truly will make a difference.
the Red Cross is facilitating what the recovery needs are. Our majic website will have more information on that, so check back often for those details on ways you can help.
I also discovered a website that is raising funds for the families of the victims. 100 percent of the proceeds go to helping in the recovery effort. The site is:
Finally, pray. I've always believed prayer heals not only our bodies, but our minds. We may never really understand why these tragedies happen, but God will see these families through, along with others at the base who were wounded or witnessed the shootings. I firmly believe that.
Last weekend, I made an appearance at the Goodwill store on Research Blvd. between Burnet and Metric. It's always fun to go there before Halloween, because they have such a wide variety of costumes to pick out.
One of the things I get to take part in each year is a costume contest, and last weekend was a real hit. We gave Goodwill gift cards to two contestants, and they had nine minutes and fifty-five seconds to pick out their costume and come back to the contest. Everyone else throughout the store got to judge the best costume; one winner took first prize, the other second. They each received tickets to Zach Theatre, the annual Ghoulwill Ball, and Mansion of Terror, plus a T-shirt.
Tammy decided to dress up as a hippie, and Lynette decked herself out as a pirate. The pirate took first prize. I posed for some photos with the contestants. Check out this one featuring them both in costume.
My blindness has never altered my vocabulary, particularly when it comes to "seeing" things or people.
Let me explain. When a person is talking to someone they know, he or she often says, "hey, nice to see you". When referring to a movie or hot new TV show, you might say, "did you see that"? "I saw her at the party last weekend" is another example.
When I or any blind person says that, it often leads to some rather interesting reactions. Some people think we're being funny or clever when we say we "saw" someone. If I tell someone, "nice to see you", the other person often responds with, "but you're blind. How can you see me"?
What many people don't realize is we're not trying to be cute or make a joke about our blindness. Obviously, I can't "see" anyone or anything, but I don't feel the need to change my wording to fit my disability. I want to be able to have normal conversations just as a sighted person would. Can you imagine the reactions I would get if i said, "hey, nice to hear you" or "good to smell you today"?
So, the next time a blind person says to you, "good seeing you", just remember they may not really be "seeing" you with their eyes, but with their other senses. It's all a matter of perspective.
See you next time.
Ever since I learned to read Braille at the age of six, I have been fascinated with reading. I remember sitting in class listening to the older kids read aloud and thinking, "wow, I wish I could do that."
I don't remember the first book or passage I ever read, but I do remember the thrill that went through me when I finished. I began reading anything I could get my hands on, literally. My parents signed me up to receive Braille and recorded books from a national library service that provides books, magazines, and other periodicals for the blind.
I haven't stopped since. I would go outside and play like other kids, but I would also spend hours reading everything from classics like Tom Sawyer and Charlotte's Web to magazines like Newsweek and Reader's Digest. I especially remember my third-grade teacher getting after me because, instead of looking up definitions for the words assigned to me, I would just sit and read the dictionary all day, as if it were a book. I probably did three words the whole day. (How many kids do you know who would do such a thing)?
Even now, with my busy life, I look for every opportunity I can to just sit back in my recliner and read a good book. It's therapeutic for me in a number of ways. It relaxes me when I've had an especially difficult day. It keeps the mind sharp, and even in fiction reading, you can learn some very interesting things. John Grisham, Louis L'Amour, and espionage writer Clive Cussler are probably my three favorite authors. I also enjoy reading about famous people, particularly athletes and singers.
It saddens me that many kids today are more concerned with playing computer games or chatting on the Internet than reading. I strongly believe the reason I do so well at my job is because of all the time I spent as a kid reading, since a broadcaster needs good reading skills to be successful. Like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get.
By the way, I got the idea for this post from a dream I had this morning. I dreamed I was on the air talking about my blog, and announced that my next posting would be about my passion for reading. Sometimes, dreams can give you real inspiration. But that's a whole different topic, and I may leave that one to the dream interpreters.
I've always had this fascination for the goofy side of news. There's so much bad news these days, sometimes I like to go online and read the lighter side of life.
I just read today that a couple southwest of Cleveland, Ohio, got married last weekend. What's so unusual about that? Well, they decided to celebrate Halloween early by getting married in a haunted house, and dressing up as vampires.
Talk about a Scare-e-mony! Click on the link below to check it out.
I went to San Antonio this past weekend and attended the American Council of the Blind State Conference. It was a lot of fun; I got to see people I haven't seen in years, and even went on a boat cruise on the River Walk.
While waiting at the San Antonio bus station to go home, I was standing in line to catch the 4:45 bus to Austin, when I realized I was in the wrong line. A lady who just happened to be in the vicinity asked if i needed help getting to the right bus. I said yes, thinking she worked there.
She took me to look for the right bus, and we discovered it hadn't arrived yet. I found out she wasn't a bus station employee, but was there to help put her daughter's boyfriend on a bus going to Waco. She graciously stayed with me until we located my bus, and even got on with me to make sure I got settled. She even gave me a hug before she got off the bus.
I think sometimes we need to be reminded there are wonderful people out there, who are more than happy to lend a hand when they see someone in need. Call them angels, Good Samaritans, or just kind people, they pick us up when we're down. I may never see this lady again (she did tell me her name was Michelle, and her daughter had the same name as my daughter Jessica). But I'll never forget her kindness. I'm sure God will bless her richly for it.
Last week, I had the chance to give a tour of the radio station to several students and teachers at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired here in Austin. I once attended TSBVI as a child, and had some wonderful experiences there. It was great to meet the group, and to have the chance to give back to the school I'll have many fond memories of for the rest of my life.
Hope you enjoy the photo.
It's hard to believe that eight years have passed since the tragic events of 9/11. While most of us have not forgotten what happened that day, we've probably allowed ourselves to fall back into the routine we had before 9/11, and in some cases, even believing that something like this would never happen to us again.
That's why I think it's important to remember this day as much as we can. Families of the thousands who lost their lives certainly have not forgotten. Neither have those who are currently fighting the war on terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with their families and friends. I'm sure none of us will ever forget the footage we saw on television in the hours, days, and weeks following the collapse of the World Trade Center.
No matter how we may feel about the state of things currently in our country (fewer jobs, difficult economy, the rising cost of health care), 9/11 did demonstrate that America can band together and stand firm against the evil that often plagues our world, and that we can still take pride in who we are and where we live.
My thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families who lost loved ones that day eight years ago, along with those who have lost loved ones while defending us through our armed forces. A big thank you goes to all of our troops and their families who sacrifice so much to help us preserve our freedom.
God Bless America!
My son James has always wanted to see the UT Tower, so we took a drive there recently.
Since we were short on time, we didn't climb to the top. However, I thought I'd try my hand at shooting a video with the new video camera I'd just bought. As big as the tower is, I figured even a totally blind person like me couldn't possibly miss it. Well, judge for yourself.
I'm sure the kids won't like this, but it's that time again when we start getting ready for them to go back to school. The good news (for us parents anyway) is this weekend, you can shop tax-free and stock up on those much-needed school supplies.
Sunday, Aug. 23 from 1 to 3 Pm, I invite you to join me at the Goodwill store, 1911 North Bell in Cedar Park. It's on the corner of North Bell and New Hope Dr. I've always been impressed with the wide selection of items Goodwill has for any occasion, and you can get everything from backpacks to computers, even vintage and boutique clothing.
As always, we'll have lots of majic prizes for you to win if you stop by our booth. i always enjoy meeting our Majic listeners, so don't be shy. I'd love to see you there.
A When you see a blind person crossing a street, or navigating a building, you've probably noticed they either travel using a Seeing Eye dog or a white cane.
Technology is changing the face of how all of us live, even those like me who are blind. I'm always interested in the newest gadgets/devices that have already come out (or are still being worked on), especially when it relates to blindness.
Our IT Director here at Majic sent me the link to an article that talks about a "high-tech" cane that is supposed to make it easier for those of us who are blind to get around. I thought it was interesting enough to share here, particularly if you know someone who is blind, or are just naturally curious about new things.
To read the article, visit:
I've never been one to take myself or my blindness too seriously. That's not to say i don't get frustrated because I can't drive myself somewhere or get turned around and have to get assistance from someone. But I've never been shy about poking fun at myself or making "blind jokes".
People who don't know me well typically are hesitant to make a funny comment or pun about me being blind. I usually don't mind, but you always want to make sure it's in good taste, and it probably feels more comfortable when you know the person better. Then, you know what offends them and what doesn't.
When I run into a partially open door or miss a turn down a hallway, I've been known to quip, "well, forgot my glasses again".
When I'm at a party, or around people who've had a drink or two, I've often been told, "maybe you should drive; you're the most sober one in the bunch."
I once had a couple of different T-shirts that made funny references to blindness. One said, "I'm not blind, I'm just outa sight!" The other, which really drew some laughs, said, "Blind Lovers Do It With Feeling!" I remember wearing that particular shirt while walking on my college campus one day, and the dean saw me. I thought for sure he wouldn't take too kindly to me wearing a shirt like that on his campus, but he thought it was the funniest thing, and would mention it to people for years thereafter.
There are certainly days when the last thing I feel like doing is poking fun at something that frustrates me. But I mostly look on the bright side, and realize that God made me this way for a purpose, and being able to laugh at yourself can go a long way in getting through life's frustrations.