Leaving Treadmarkz Across the Universe

Archive for March 2008

Long Lost Photo of Helen Keller Uncovered

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by Treadmarkz

Here is a long-lost snapshot of Helen Keller, with her teacher Anne Sullivan, discovered earlier this week. The photo has rarely been seen by the general public since it was taken in 1888. It has only been published twice since.

Not only does this photo depict the beginning stages of a 50-year friendship between Keller and Sullivan, it shows Keller holding the object with which Sullivan would teach the blind and deaf girl to spell out her first word, “doll”. This could very well be considered Keller’s first step toward becoming an author, humanitarian, and advocate for the blind and deaf.

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Written by treadmarkz

March 6, 2008 at 1:24 PM

In Defense of the Orient Road Jail Staff

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by Treadmarkz

Boy they sure are coming out of the woodworks to cry foul aren’t they? This video is proof, in my eyes, that some people deserve to be thrown out of their wheelchairs. If this guy, Benjamin Rayburn, were on two legs and he pulled this crap, he’d be laid out, flat on his stomach with his hands pinned behind his back, and he would deserve it. So why should he expect any different? I am in a wheelchair, and I think if I were throwing things at the officers, like this crack-pipe wielding Brian Sterner wanna-be, I could expect to be put on the ground.

PS: Notice all the jailers are white just like Rayburn?

PPS: How the hell do people get crack-cocaine in jail anyway?

Written by treadmarkz

March 5, 2008 at 7:35 PM

Ronan Tynan – Opera Vocalist, Paralympic Gold Medalist, Doctor

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by Treadmarkz
I am a rocker at heart but I find Irish music to be very relaxing and at times inspiring. I am particularly drawn to songs like Danny Boy, Greensleeves, and Amazing Grace (all tend to be staples in any Irish vocalist’s repertoire) for the timeless qualities of their melodies. I particularly love performers like Altan, Celtic Women and the Irish Tenors. I have always been particularly drawn to the tone in the voice of one of the Tenor’s former members, Ronan Tynan. Here is a video so you can hear what I mean.

Tynan was born with paralyzed legs, and he had them amputated after a car accident in 1980. By 1984, Tynan had already won 18 Paralympic Gold Medals, and set 14 world records in a wide variety of track and field events. Nine of his records, in the discus, shot-put, and long-jump, have not been broken to this day.

He then went into the medical field, and he’d already spent a few years working in the development and design of prosthetic feet when he graduated from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, with a medical degree. He became a physician and with his athletic background, specialized in sports injuries.

After just beginning his practice, in 1994, he found the time to attend the Royal Opera School in London, joining the Irish Tenors from 1998-2004. He continues a successful solo career today, and often shows up singing “God Bless America” at N.Y. Yankees baseball games, or at NHL hockey games.
Not a bad 18 years: World-class athlete, doctor, and world-class vocalist. His meteoric rise in athletics, as well as his successful switch over to the medical field, followed by his most recent fame in opera prove that it is never too late to follow a new path in life.

Jeff Healey, 1966-2008: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

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by Treadmarkz

Jeff Healey, the blues/rock/jazz guitarist who gained fame in the late-80’s with the song “Angel Eyes” passed away yesterday from cancer. He was 41.

The Canadian-born singer-guitarist had retinoblastoma, a form of ocular cancer which first developed when he was one year old, leaving him blind for life. He began playing guitar when he was three, developing an idiosyncratic style of playing, with the guitar laying on his lap, which, ironically (as his disability was surely seen as an impedement) allowed him more freedom in chord structure. In recent years, Healey has stepped out of the limelight and embraced jazz music, another love of his.
I cannot say that I was a fan of Healey’s, in fact I did not know much about him at all. But when I went to the internet to listen to “Angel Eyes” tonight, I was instantly transported back to the age of 9 when this song was popular. His guitar solo in “Angel Eyes” is one of such depth, not only does it leave an imprint on your memory somewhere, but it has a texture and shape that you can almost see, feel and taste it.

But there can be no more fitting tribute, and no better way to exhibit his sheer talent and flair on the guitar, than to post his version of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Enjoy.

Written by treadmarkz

March 4, 2008 at 5:47 AM

Aaron Fotheringham: Extreme Sitter, and Mentor

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by Treadmarkz

Ever since Aaron Fotheringham became the first person on record to do a backflip in a wheelchair, he has recieved quite a lot of media attention. Fotheringham’s story is an exception to some of the things that I ranted about last night. His story is one that journalists are able to tell without patronizing him. His life is not a sob story, nor is his successful backflip considered the ultimate triumph over adversity. They put him on the same level as other skaters, while highlighting just why his contributions to the sport are unique.

Second, and even better, since his pioneering backflip two years ago, he has become a mentor to young children in wheelchairs. He is not a superhero, though his little friend in this story, Zachary, clearly looks up to him a great deal, and his ability to connect with Zachary clearly means the world to Zachary’s mom. This is what I meant when I wrote about how wheelchair athletes can provide direction and mentorship toward young people in chairs that are looking for something that will give them thrills and excitement, and something to provide them a little variety and challenge as well.

Is Brian Sterner the King Crip of the Blogosphere?

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by Treadmarkz

I believe I have a natural kinship with all disabled people. I often find myself exchanging a knowing glance with people as our wheelchairs cross paths, and I know that if I connect with that person, I have had experiences that they have also had, and that we are going to be able to establish meaningful common ground because of our shared experiences. When I saw Brian Sterner being dumped out of his chair by police officers, on the Today Show, it pissed me off to no end.
I think that the answer to the question I posed in the title of this posting will be obvious in the number of hits I get on this one. I am not trying to be a keyword whore, luring in readership simply by using Sterner’s name. But I started this blog around the first of the year. Tonight I was taking stock of how my blog is going so far, and I noticed something. Right around Feb. 14 when Sterner’s story first came out, I wrote three stories about it, and they are already my top three all-time in terms of hits. My #4 most-read post has the words “disabled” and “discriminated” in the title. Number 5 happens to be the title of a popular song from the 80’s, which I imagine gets it some accidental hits, and #6 has the words “victim” and “disabled” the title.
In this blog, I have offered advice on everything from taxes, social interaction, recreation several times, self-consciousness, and basic health, as well as my observations on Medical Assistance, the ADA, etc., stories which meant a lot to me when I wrote them, yet every day, even now, my Brian Sterner stories are often far and away the ones with the most readership here at treadmarkz.wordpress.com. Why? Because Sterner is the first disabled person, certainly the first person in a wheelchair, since Christopher Reeve to be the center of a major news story, and even in minor stories, the role of the disabled person is usually that of the discriminee, if that is a word. A lot of disabled people spend a lot of time talking and blogging about what horrible things able-bodied people have said and done to them. We all need to vent from time to time and it is certainly natural for there to be anger in the disabled community over things like the Brian Sterner case. But disabled people are making some real, tangible noise in this world. I will grant you that I have written more than a few light-weight stories about wheelchair sports and entertainers, and I will grant you that I, myself, wish I had more accomplishment to speak of. I also know that disabled people, on the whole, have a lot to give, and I want to make damn sure we all let it be known.

NOTE: I would love it if a disabled person were recognized for some accomplishment, in a news story, but with no mention of them being disabled, or only in passing. I have considered that possibility. I just know that the media could not resist making the disability one of the key components of the story. That is another reason why I feel I haven’t missed anything, and what I am saying is true.

Taxman Tryin’ to Pull a Fast One?

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by Treadmarkz

My wife and I had our taxes done today, and on the form there was a question which read “Are you or your spouse permanently and totally disabled?” I have added the italic to stress the word “and”. I am permanently disabled, barring a miracle, but I am only paralyzed from the waist down, hardly total. I don’t think anybody with any disability, barring the comatose, would consider themselves totally disabled, and even then, not necessarily permanently. For this reason, I was tempted to check “No”, especially when the tax preparer told me that it wouldn’t make any difference in my refund whether I checked it “yes” or “no”.

But I wondered, why, if it makes no difference, does this question exist? And I doubted very much that the “yes” box was exclusively for the hopelessly comatose. Well, as fate would have it, it did make a difference, in my favor, to check that “Yes” box. So to anyone who is permanently or totally disabled, be sure to set technicalities aside and check “Yes” on this question.

And to the IRS, could we take a look at the wording on that one? It can make a world of difference.

Written by treadmarkz

March 2, 2008 at 5:35 AM