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Stephen Kerr's Blog




Braille Awareness Day

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: http://www.acbaustin.org/bn_braille-awareness.htm 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: http://www.acbaustin.org/bn_bookfair_2011.htm
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Stop the Cyberbullying!

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: natalie@texaschildsafety.org To register for the event, go online to: http://www.texaschildsafety.org/
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Bowling For Blind Baseball

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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNXqN_QVmpk
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A Not-So-Easy A After All

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: http://www.sonypictures.com/previews/movies/easya/
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10 Ideas for Father's Day Gifts

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! http://www.mademan.com/mm/10-best-fathers-day-gifts.html
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My Friend Bertha

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.
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Bowling For Baseball

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: http://www.nbba.org/ Hope to see you Saturday!
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The Pirate, The Hippie, And Me

Stephen Michael Kerr poses with Lynette the pirate and Tammy the hippie in a Goodwill Costume Contest 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. happy Halloween!
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Back To School With Goodwill

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.
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