Feature Writer John Christie

Feature Writer John Christie – Six Tips To Make Your New Year’s Resolution a Success

People in the New Year try to set goals and attempt to follow through with their New Year’s Resolutions. However, in a recent University of Scranton study, only 8 percent of people keep their New Year’s Resolutions. Making a list of these 6 tricks for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions will help you stay on track in keeping them all year. First, limit the number of goals. Having fewer goals keeps you focused on what’s most important for you to use your willpower on according to Social Psychologist Chris Berdik. He also said that many of us lack the structure to support our behavioral changes our new goals require.

Next, write a list of your goals. In addition, a Sports Psychologist says to take it one step further by writing what might get in the way of accomplishing those goals. Michael Gervais also says that doing this will help you identify what might be stopping you from going for this goal. For instance, if you have a goal of making 20 cold calls a day, but you have a fear of rejection, state those fears and then turn a negative rejection in to a positive one. For instance, before every call, say I am the perfect fit for this client.

The third step is to set realistic goals. According to Gervais, you want to set goals that are neither uninteresting nor overwhelming. You must set goals that are in the middle so that you won’t get discouraged or overwhelmed.

Next find a partner to help you to achieve your goal. With a partner, you will be able to stick to your goal better. In addition, you can go to a web site to have others track your progress.

The fifth step is to make a tangible goal. For instance, instead of eating a healthy diet say I will eat a vegetable with every meal.

Finally, find a theme for the year. For instance, will this be the year you will concentrate on your health?

These are just a few suggestions that will help you get through your New Year’s Resolutions. Good luck and try to stay on track.

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230534

Feature Writer John Christie – The History of Christmas

Christmas is both a religious and secular holiday and has been celebrated throughout the world for 2,000 years. People around the world celebrate it by going to church, giving and receiving gifts and being with family and friends. People also celebrate Christmas by decorating Christmas Trees and waiting for Santa Claus. The holiday also celebrates the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Christmas has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.

Christmas has a variety of traditions worldwide. For instance, in the Scandinavian countries, St. Lucia, also known as St. Lucy, is honored on December 13 of each year. The celebration of St. Lucia Day first began in Sweden, but spread to Denmark and Finland by the mid 19th century. This is begun in the beginning of the holiday season and is known as Little Yule. In Little Yule, the oldest daughter wakes every member of the family. She is dressed in a long white gown. She is also wearing a red sash and wearing a crown made of twigs. In addition, she is carrying nine lighted candles. For the day, she is called Lussi or Lussibruden. The family then eats breakfast in a room lighted with candles. At night, men, women, and children would carry torches in a parade. The night would end when the torches would be placed on a large pile of straw creating a large bonfire.

In Italy, people call Christmas “Il Natale” which means the birthday. In America, on Christmas Eve, Italians have various fishes along with a main Italian meal such as stuffed shells.

In Australia, during their summer, it’s not unusual for the temperatures to be around 100 degrees. This is why people go to the beach and barbecues. During Christmas, people have family gatherings and exchange gifts. People have ham, turkey, pork or seafood barbeques.

The one man we can’t forget about is Santa Claus. His history goes back to the third century, when he was known St. Nicholas. It is said that he gave away all of his inherited wealth. However, our image that we have of Santa today comes from the poem “The Night Before Christmas.” Whatever your image of the Jolly Old Fellow or the traditions you celebrate, have a happy holiday season.

To read more about the history of Christmas follow this link: http://www.history.com/topics/christmas

Feature Writer John Christie – Class Action Settlement Will Make New York City Taxis Accessible to Those with Wheelchairs

On a recent Friday, New York City settled a class action settlement. If the settlement is approved, half the fleet of taxis would have to be wheelchair accessible by 2020. This drew praise from politicians and advocates for the disabled. However, with a new mayoral administration people in the forefront wonder how this will be carried out. A statement from the taxicab Board of Trade says it all. “We are left with more questions than answers.” This group should know because they operate 40 percent of New York City’s yellow cabs.

The deal requires that old taxis be phased out, and new ones take their place. As of now, only a fraction of the fleet is wheelchair accessible.

Under the deal, at least half of the new medallion taxis put into service in any given year must be accessible until 50 percent of the fleet is. This is the first comprehensive settlement in the country. Other cities will be looking at this deal to see how they can make their taxis accessible.

This allows people in wheelchairs to have another transportation option to rely on besides paratransit and the subway to either go to work, school or leisure activities. Hopefully, when a cab driver sees a disabled person in a wheelchair, they will stop and give that person a lift.

The 9 member Taxi Commission also praised the deal using words like historical and milestone.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/07/nyregion/wheelchair-settlement-poses-test-for-cab-industry.html?_r=0Take

Feature Writer John Christie – Man Decides to Take Himself Off of Life Support

Tim Bowers, an avid outdoorsman and hunter died after taking himself off of life support. Bowers was a newlywed and dad to be. He was badly hurt in a hunting accident one recent Saturday. He fell 16 feet from a tree while deer hunting. He suffered a spinal cord injury. Doctors said that he could be paralyzed and would be on a ventilator for the rest of his life. For this reason, the family had an unusual request for the doctors handling the case. They wanted Bowers to be brought out of sedation to hear his prognosis. The doctors heeded the request and Bowers wanted no extra measures taken in order to stay alive. He died Sunday after his breathing tube was removed.

Bowers and his wife Abbey were married in August and were expecting a baby.

“The last thing he wanted was to be in a wheelchair,” Abbey told IndyStar.com. “To have all that stuff taken away would probably be devastating. He would never be able to give hugs, to hold his baby. We made sure he knew that, so he could make a decision. Even if he decided the other thing, the quality of life would’ve been very poor. His life expectancy would be very low.”

The 32 year old would be paralyzed from the shoulders down. Doctors thought that he would never breathe on his own.

His sister Jenny Shultz, who is a nurse, asked him if he wanted to live this way for the rest of his life and he shook his head emphatically no.

Family members and surrogates often make these decisions not the patient. Patients also don’t make these decisions immediately after an accident has happened.

Bowers’ C3, C4 and C5 vertebrae were crushed. He wouldn’t live a good quality of life. He wouldn’t have been able to hold his baby and may have lived in a rehabilitation hospital for the rest of his life and wouldn’t have been able to breathe on his own.

The last hours of Bowers life were spent singing songs and praying.

Before Bowers made a decision to live or die, he should have met with other people who were in a similar situation. In this way, he would have made a more educated decision. Imagine if someone became blind and they saw no hope in life and didn’t know of other people who were already blind and this person, like Tim, decided to die. The blind person who decided to die could have lived a better quality of life with rehabilitation and other people as role models. How do you feel about Tim Bowers? Tell us in the Reader’s Forum.

Sources: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20753329,00.html

Feature Writer John Christie – Job Fair Assists in Putting a Dent in the High Unemployment Rate for the Blind and Visually Impaired

The third annual Job Fair for the Blind and Visually Impaired was held at the former Radcliffe College gymnasium. A variety of employers were there including State Street Bank, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Bentley College, National Braille Press and many other employers. Volunteer guides were also there to assist the blind to the various tables where the various employers were. The purpose of the Job Fair was to put a dent in the high unemployment rate of the blind.

One job seeker who was there was Maura Mazzocca. In the 1980s when she could see and she was a Human Resources Administrator a blind man came in to be interviewed for a manufacturing job. During the interview, she kept on wondering how a blind man would work at a manufacturing job. In other words, she couldn’t get past his visual disability. As a result, she didn’t hire him. This would come back to haunt her as she would herself lose her vision in 1994 due to diabetes. Now as a job seeker herself she realizes the many hurdles a blind person has to go through to obtain full time employment.

Blind people are largely unwanted in the workplace. Only 24 percent of the working age blind with a visual disability have full time jobs as of 2011 according to Cornell University’s Employment and Disability Institute. This is unfortunate, especially because of technological advances that would boost their capabilities.

“There’s a lot of stigma, a lot of obstacles,” said Mazzocca, 51. “It comes down to educating employers. It’s going to take a really long time, if ever, for them to see us for who we are and what we bring to the table.”

According to National Advocates for the Blind, they bring a work ethic and loyalty as well as any skills they might bring to the table. In a rough economy, it is hard for the sighted to get a job, never mind the blind. Employers who would like to hire the blind don’t because they might be slow in doing tasks with the keyboard or need so much assistance that they might be a burden.

The steadiest sources of jobs for blind people are in the non-profit sector. Through education and changing perceptions of the blind that employers have will improve statistics positively for the blind.

In the three job Fairs that I have been to that are exclusively for the blind, a few people have gotten internships out of it and a half dozen have gotten full time jobs. By educating and training employers about what the blind can do, this may help in putting a dent in the unemployment rate for the blind as well as having more job fairs exclusively for the blind and visually impaired.

Source: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/employers-wariness-thwarts-many-blind-jobseekers

Feature Writer John Christie – Advocates for the Disabled Try to Improve the Mental Hospitals Throughout the World

Mental Asylums live on in some parts of the world. For instance, in Guatemala City, Donald Rodas, a man in his late twenties with paranoid schizophrenia murdered his parents a year ago and was placed in a psychiatric hospital. He was charged with the crime. At the hospital, he roamed the halls freely and saw patients charged with crimes mixed in with ordinary patients and the developmentally disabled. He also sees patients who don’t take their medication and are beaten and placed in a barren isolation cell. Women also sell their bodies for as little as a dollar to afford the basic necessities.

The United States began emptying out its vast asylum system in the 1960s. While it was in existence, it was filled with abuse and neglect. It emptied out 90% of the people who lived in the institutions and had them go into a community based care system. However, the funding for community based care couldn’t match the influx of people coming out of the institutions. This led to the widespread problem of homelessness and jails and prisons for the mentally ill.

However, in much of the world, the warehousing of the mentally ill is more the norm than the exception. They live in dirty, overcrowded wards and electroshock treatment is given without the patient’s consent.

Disability Rights International based in Washington, D.C. is trying to change all this. For instance, Paraguay reduced its mental hospital population by almost half by setting up group homes for these people. 130 countries have also ratified a treaty on the rights of persons with disabilities. This treaty states that the disabled should not be segregated from society. This treaty also states that countries should move from centralized asylums to community based care.

Through a lot of pressure, Guatemala has pledged to have a pilot program of group homes for the mentally ill and disabled. They will also reduce the mental hospital population by a significant amount in two years. A global effort will also take place throughout the world to reduce the population in these hospitals. If that doesn’t work, human rights law will be used to compel action.

The mental hospitals weren’t all that bad in the United States. Patients got to know other patients and there were activities for the patients during the day. In addition, they were also fed well. Patients also kept up a garden for the individual hospital. The patients from what I heard were treated well.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/opinion/sunday/where-mental-asylums-live-on.html?_r=1&

Feature Writer John Christie – Airlines Mishandle Wheelchairs for the Disabled and End Up Breaking Them

Yomi Wrong, a disabled passenger who depends on a motorized wheelchair for mobility flew to Florida for a conference. When she got to her destination, she waited for an hour until finally the airline found her wheelchair. When the wheelchair was given back to her, the headrest and backrest were broken off the wheelchair and lying on the seat. When she asked if someone from the airline or airport could assist her with fixing the chair, she was told that they couldn’t get involved because of liability reasons.

“It goes to a lack of awareness and effective training. Ultimately this amounts to discrimination to one group of passengers, people with disabilities,” she said.

Wrong’s wheelchair is made specifically for her. She attempted to fix the wheelchair with no tools. However, in doing this, she lost many hours when she was supposed to be at a conference. After her return to California, the airline repaired her damaged chair.

“This chair costs $26,000 — more than some people pay for a vehicle. When you hand your keys over to a valet you don’t expect that they’re going to crash your car and not take responsibility for it and that’s what happens to us,” says Wrong.

With wheelchairs that are electric, there may be damage that the naked eye can’t see but this damage may make the electrical circuits malfunction.

The main reason why these wheelchairs end up damaged on airline flights is because they are put with the luggage and go up a conveyor belt.

The disabled have been fighting for decades to get laws passed and enforced on this issue.

The Air Carrier Access Act was passed in 1986. This law prevents discrimination against the disabled. The law has to be overseen and enforced by the Department of Transportation. However, this law has weak enforcement. That’s why we are not seeing a resolution to these civil rights issues when it comes to the disabled.

Meanwhile, if you have a broken wheelchair you may have to wait awhile to see if the airlines will repair it. You’ll have better luck with the airlines getting a new wheelchair repaired than an old one.

The Air Carrier Access Act as of right now is weak. The law has to be made stronger and enforced. Without this the disabled won’t have a leg to stand on or a wheelchair to sit on.

Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/10/18/disabled-wheelchair-airlines-damage-air-carriers-access-act/2962483/

Feature Writer John Christie – Guide Dog Users Fight For Law to Protect Guide Dogs

A frightening occurrence is happening to our guide dogs. According to Guide Dog Users, Inc., an increasing amount of guide dogs are being attacked by uncontrolled dogs that are encountered on our city streets and neighborhoods. According to Guide Dog Users, Inc. President, Laurie Mehta of Cincinnati, Ohio, “guide dogs’ work has all too frequently been intentionally obstructed.” She also explains inadequate and inconsistent laws have prevented local authorities from treating these acts as criminal acts. For this reason, Guide Dogs Users, Inc. wants to seek a National service protection law in 2013 as part of the legislative agenda.

Guide Dog Users, Inc. conducted a survey recently of its membership. The survey found that 89 percent of the 119 members that responded reported having experiencing interference with their dogs and 42 percent experienced a full blown attack on their dogs. Of those experiencing interference, 51 percent were interfered with by the same dog more than once. 47 percent of the guide dog users planned alternate routes to avoid known problem dogs. 4 percent of the guide dogs had to retire because of the severity of the attacks. Each guide dog that is trained to work with the blind costs around $50,000.

Guide Dog Users, Inc.’s Legislative Committee Chair, Don Brown, wants to have legislation with criminal penalties enacted so that dog owners will exercise additional care when controlling their dogs in public.

Guide Dog Users, Inc. is correct to try to pass a law requiring dog owners to control their dogs in public. They should attempt to control the dog so they won’t go after service dogs. After all, these dogs cost a lot to be trained and it takes a while to develop chemistry between the dog and the guide dog user. Hopefully, the law will be passed to allow for criminal penalties.

Feature Writer John Christie – New Machine Brings Magic to Blind Children in Japanese School for the Blind

A new machine is being used at the Special Needs Education School for the Visually Impaired in Tokyo, Japan. The machine actually prints toys for blind children. The machine operates by Voice search and 3-D printing.

The machine was first invented by Yahoo! Japan. The company’s designers put a 3-D printer into a bulbous, cloud-like housing and outfitted it with a voice based user interface. The machine also has a database of toys. The way the machine operates is the children at the school will shout out a toy that they want and the machine will spit out the plastic toy. Once the plastic toy is spit out of the machine, a teacher peels the extra plastic off the printed product. The children can request a variety of toys including giraffes, unicorns, trucks, buildings, bugs, dinosaurs and so forth by pressing a big button. This is really like having your wishes come true with a magic lamp.

The idea of this machine was conceived by Osamu Aranami, head of Yahoo! Japan’s advertisement division. “I believe innovation comes from the combination of old things,” he said.

This technology is not old but will be useful in a variety of situations. With this voice recognition device and 3-D printer you would be able to make a replacement battery cover for your TV remote.

Getting back to the kids at the blind school in Japan, they don’t care about the complexities of the machine. All they care about is the toys it spits out.

This machine is amazing. It’s like a magic lamp spitting out toys for the children. It’s also good that this product will be useful for everyone as it will be able to make replacement parts for a number of products.

Source: http://www.wired.com/design/2013/10/this-amazing-machine-gives-blind-kids-any-toy-they-want/#slideid-269511

Feature Writer John Christie – Blind Man Starts Organization Which Will Help the Blind and the Print Disabled

Albert Rizzi started My Blind Spot soon after he lost his vision 8 years ago mainly because he was running into barriers finding employment because of accessibility issues. He found that the jobs he was applying for couldn’t be adapted to the blind. Another reason why he started this organization was he saw a need for in his personal life and he thought that others would have this same need.

Currently, he is working on a project with Intuit to make QuickBooks for Windows, the leading small business accounting software program in the U.S., accessible and usable to the blind, the visually impaired, and the print disabled. Rizzi also goes into schools and does awareness presentations to promote ability rather than disability. He also does this in organizations and in corporate offices.

He is also on the Disability Advisory Board in Suffolk County in New York. In this capacity, My Blind Spot has worked to get a resolution passed with the local legislature to get the county to follow the 508 and 504 guidelines under the Rehab Act. In addition, his organization has just joined the IAA team which is a collection of nonprofits and corporations that are part of the accessibility community that focus on accessibility and the work environment and education. This organization includes companies like Microsoft and IBM.

During our interview, I asked Albert if there were plans to make Quicken accessible. He stated that, “we have to work on one thing at a time. Let’s make QuickBooks accessible first, then we can talk about the other products that Intuit has.”

The Quickbooks project got started with a phone call to Lori Samuel, the Accessibility Program Manager at Intuit. She had a direct connection with someone who was print disabled in her life. Rizzi wanted to be sure the print disabled were served as well as the blind and visually impaired. This way, a broader spectrum of people would be served including people with Cerebral Palsy; stroke injured people as well as people with dyslexia.

In the future, My Blind Spot wants to work with rehabilitation agencies and agencies that serve the disabled. This would also include the Veterans.

It’s great that Rizzi started My Blind Spot because QuickBooks will be accessible to the blind and print disabled. Maybe the reason he became blind is so he would be able to start My Blind Spot and be able to meet a need in the disabled community.