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Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Limping Chicken

Researchers at the University of Essex have developed a free mobile app that turns an iPhone or iPod into a hearing aid, using the phone’s microphone and a set of headphon.

Unlike standard hearing aids that simply amplify all sounds, the BioAid app is inspired by biology and replicates the complexities of the human ear. Its creators say it puts the user in control, is available to anyone, anywhere, without the need for a hearing test, and potentially holds the key to a future where tiny, phone-based hearing aids can be dispensed and adjusted remotely.

BioAid, which is available on iTunes, has been developed by Professor Ray Meddis of Essex’s Department of Psychology with Nick Clark, formerly a Research Officer in the Department and Dr Wendy Lecluyse of University Campus Suffolk. Unlike standard aids that have a single setting, BioAid has six fixed settings each of which has four fine-tuning settings…

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formspring-q-&-a-logo

Image Credits: GooglePlay

Remember FormspringThe social q & a site that allowed users to ask questions to other users while remaining anonymous? If you’ve forgotten about this now desolate website, we forgive you. While Formspring was all the rage a few years ago, it’s hardly gotten any attention recently. In all honesty it seems as though Myspace has had more success than Formspring lately.

myspace-is-4-losers

Image Credits: The Verge

On March 16, 2013 Formspring announced plans on their website and through an e-mail sent to its registered users explaining that it would officially shut down on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. Founder and CEO, Ade Olonoh stated on the Formspring WordPress Blog:

While we’ve had great success in reaching a broad audience, it’s been challenging to sustain the resources needed to keep the lights on.

Olonoh also explained that users have no reason to worry about losing their data once the website shuts down. Users will be giving the option of exporting their Q & A’s until Monday, April 15, 2013 at which point all data will be permanently deleted. In order to export your data all you have to do is log in to your Formspring account and click the export button. Once your export finishes you will receive an e-mail containing a downloadable zip file of your data.

Formspring was created in 2009 and quickly gained millions of users. The website, while widely used, was not met without it’s fair share of controversy. The anonymity allowed users to use it as a way to bully others. In early 2010 fifteen year old Phoebe Prince committed suicide after being cyber bullied on an array of social networking sites including Formspring. Prince’s suicide had many wondering if perhaps an anonymous Q & A website wasn’t the best idea.

phoebe-prince-before-formspring

Image Credits: NY Daily News

What do you think about Formspring’s plans to shut down? Have you ever used Formspring? Will you miss it?


Sean-Forbes-Deaf-Rapper

Image Credits: Media Dis & Dat

I recently discovered deaf rapper, Sean Forbes after being referred to him by my older sister. After hearing about 10 seconds of his song “I’m Deaf“, I immediately fell in love. I wrote a long letter and in my letter I explain just what makes me love Sean and his music so much. I’d really love to hear back from Sean as he is such a huge inspiration to  me and I’d love to hear more of his story. You can view my letter to Sean Forbes below:

Sean-Forbes-Im-Deaf

Image Credits:AfroJacks.com

Dear Sean:

I have recently discovered your music after being referred to you by my older sister, Noel. Noel saw a story done about you on Fox News and immediately informed my dad about you, telling him that he had to tell me to give you a listen. My sister was interested in your music because she’s a huge fan of Eminem. Anyone that Eminem endorses, she endorses. When she heard that you were being signed by a label that helped Eminem get his record deal she knew that you must be great. More than being a fan of your music, my sister was immediately hooked on your story and inspired by the way you overcame your obstacles with being deaf to become an accomplished rapper.

Even though I am not a rapper or any form of a musical artist, I can relate to your story well. I am legally deaf (I have a 90+ dB hearing loss) but consider myself a member of the hard of hearing community rather than the deaf community because I have never learned sign language and I operate with the hearing world. I am inspired and in awe of you for going to college, getting your engineering degree, and becoming a famous musician even when everyone seemed to turn their backs on you and not believe in your ability to succeed.

Just like you’ve known from a young age you wanted to be a musician, a career that many people don’t think the deaf are capable of having, I knew from a young age what I wanted to do, and it too was in a field that many people don’t think the deaf/hard of hearing are capable of succeeding in; I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer.

Many people have the misconceptions that those who suffer from hearing loss will never be able to read, speak, write, or hear music. You’ve defeated the odds with your music. I don’t make music, but I am in love with it. I’m currently listening to some Pink Floyd and I will be ordering your album and listening to it on repeat in the very near future.

I’ve defeated the odds in my own ways, too. I never listened to anyone that told me I was “deaf and dumb” or incapable of success. When I was younger I would read everything in sight, something that I still do to this day. I took an interest in writing from an early age and published my first poem when I was just 10 years old. I have recently graduated from Rowan University with two bachelor’s degrees, one in Writing Arts and another in English along with a concentration in Creative Writing. I also graduated as a member of the Lambda Pi Eta Communications honor society. I have previous work experience in the fields of writing, social media, and editing. I am looking to expand those skills into a full time position now. I never listened to anyone that told me I couldn’t succeed as a writer due to my hearing. You know how you’re extremely passionate about music and use it as a way to express yourself? That’s me and my writing. Words are a very important way for me to communicate. I can’t always hear verbal communication, but I can always read words and write my own.

Sean, you’re very inspiring to me and I’m so glad that you’ve followed your dreams and are really making it big now as a musician. You’ve had all of the odds against you, but you’ve beaten them all. I can’t begin to tell you how refreshing it is to see a deaf musician redefining music and showing people that yes the deaf community listens to and loves music, too! I love your song “I’m deaf” for helping to bring awareness to the deaf community and I also love your song “Def Deaf Girls” for the way you show appreciation and respect to deaf girls. The deaf community is often times ostracized from the rest of society and made out to be a weird little community of people. You’re here to show the world that those views are wrong. It’s like that quote from Frederick Schreibert, “The deaf can do anything the hearing can do except hear.” I think you and I are both living proof of that.

Def-Deaf-Girls-Sean-Forbes

Image Credits: YouTube

I was sad to see on your website that you don’t have an upcoming tour dates for the Philadelphia area. I would really love to see you perform and/or hear you speak in the future. I’d really love to have the opportunity to meet you as well. I am not currently in school, but I’ve considered trying to talk to some people at Rowan University (my alma mater) to see if they could try to book you for an appearance. If I ask maybe they’d let me attend since I’m alumni and all. I was also wondering, if it’s not too much, could I please receive an autographed photo or something? Anything you had would be amazing. I’d love to continue to share your story with others. It truly is inspiring.

Thank you so much for your time and more importantly, thank you for giving a voice (a very beautiful one at that!) to the deaf and hard of hearing community. I can’t wait to purchase your album and listen to it until I completely wear it out and I look forward to one day meeting you in the future and learning more about your story.

Thanks,

Kimberly Erskine
kimerskine3@gmail.com
www.kimberlyerskine.com


allaboutmanners

What child doesn’t love nursery rhymes? It is this love which has allowed so many of these tales to survive hundreds of years. While many nursery rhymes are innocent stories, some contain morals and others have sinister or political underlying meanings. This list looks at ten popular nursery rhymes and their origins (or speculated origins).

10
Humpty Dumpty
 
 

Humpty Dumpty 1 - Ww Denslow - Project Gutenberg Etext 18546

Humpty Dumpty was first printed in 1810. At the time, a humpty dumpty was a clumsy person, so the nursery rhyme was meant as a riddle. It doesn’t actually state that Humpty Dumpty is an egg, so the aim of the reader is to guess what he really is. Of course there is not a person who knows the tale these days that doesn’t know he is an egg. There is speculation that the nursery rhyme had an underlying meaning – in which Humpty Dumpty represents King Richard III of…

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I remember when I first saw Sharon M. Draper’s novel, Out Of My Mind. It was at a Scholastic book fair my college, Rowan University, was holding to benefit the Students For Literacy club. I was drawn to the simple, yet intriguing cover which was blue and featured a goldfish in a small bowl. I then proceeded to read the back cover and was interested in how the author described her main character as having a “photographic memory”. The back cover mentioned that this character was currently unable to walk to speak, but never once said that she had cerebral palsy, a condition that I had no previous knowledge of.

out-of-my-mind-cover

Image Credits: Novel Novice

 

Sharon M. Draper’s Out Of My Mind painted a vivid picture of just what it’s like to be 11 years old and diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Main character Melody’s classmates want nothing to do with her. She have SO much to say, but no way to say it. She is mute, and for awhile, that means silenced.

Until she received the MediTalker, a device that allows her to type up the things she wants to say on a computer. It’s a lot like Stephen Hawking and the computer he uses to communicate with. What’s more, Melody can prove her intelligence, which may or may not be the equivalent of Stephen Hawking’s in the future, for the first time ever. She does so through not only trying out for, but scoring the highest for the school’s Whiz Kids team.

What-A-Meditalker-Looks-Like

 

Image Credits: CPCenter.org

However,Melody has a long way to go before reaching the same level of praise, respect, and acclaim of the talented Mr. Hawking. Despite her proven intelligence, Melody’s classmates still see her as “weird” for her condition. Some such as the novel’s antagonist, Claire, even show a hint of jealousy  Then there are characters like Rose that are torn between being a good friend to Melody or looking cool in front of the more popular crowd (e.g.-Claire). 

Stephen-Hawking-Is-Respected

Image Credits: TheVerge.com 

When the Whiz Kids have their flight for the next, big round of their competition changed at the last minute, it is Rose who is put in charge of notifying Melody. The other children persuade her not to call, telling her how weird Melody would make them look on television and reminding her of the alternatives they can use for the team. This  breaks Melody’s heart.

But it does not break Melody. Melody has a strength within her that can prevail even the cruelest comments and actions from her classmates. She is determined to shine on her own and show her classmates that she can do fine on her own, even without them. She is also quick to remind them that without her, they are nothing, which is why they only placed 9th in the compeition, receiving a tiny trophy which Melody can easily break with her hands, despite the immobility her disease causes her.

Out Of My Mind was an extremely inspiring book that makes readers think twice about their own lives and how fortunate they may be. I am a hearing impaired adult (legally classified as deaf, as I have a 90 dB hearing loss). I always thought I had things difficult because I can’t hear well and people don’t always understand or accept my hearing loss, but that is nothing compared to the challenges Melody faces.

Melody cannot walk. She will never play the sports I enjoyed playing as a child. Melody can not use her voice to communicate. When she wants to say something she has to think of just the right words and hope it comes out right. This is time consuming and can be frustrating. How does a child with cerebral palsy use sarcasm? Most people would think everything they said was true or serious.

I’m also more thankful for the little things in life. I used to enjoy eating at the diner with my friends or after big events to celebrate. Melody could do that, but with assistance. She had to be fed like a baby. This was awkward and embarrassing for her and she felt uncomfortable doing it in front of her classmates. What should have been a fun experience for her turned into a struggle, and sometimes embarrassing experience.

I think the number one thing I’m the most thankful for though is my privacy. I can get up and do things whenever I want to without having a pair of eyes on me at all times. Melody didn’t even have privacy when she had to use the bathroom — even something like that required a great deal of help and assistance.

I am thankful for Sharon M. Draper’s novel. She has invited me into the world of cerebral palsy and created such a strong, unique character that despite her differences, I was able to connect to in a way that felt like I was making a new friend. I am more appreciative of my life after reading how hard Melody’s life is. When a book inspires you as much as Out Of My Mind  did for me, you know it’s well written. Five out of five stars for Out Of My Mind. I look forward to reading and reviewing more of Draper’s works in the future. 


The-Catcher-In-The-Rye

 

I just finished reading J.D. Salinge’rs The Catcher In The Rye for about the fifth time. For those of you that don’t know me that well, Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye is my all time favorite novel and Holden Caulfield is one of my all time favorite literary characters. I frequently joke about how I wish I could find a boy like Holden Caulfield to marry.

One thing that never fails to amaze me when reading and re-reading this novel is how many things I failed to pick up on before. J. D. Salinger’s classic novel The Catcher In The Rye is packed with a lot of action and a ton of  emotion all at once. Here is a list of 5 things I picked up on this time around that I missed the first four times I read it:

1. Holden is extremely selfless and regretful. There are many times throughout the novel when Holden Caulfield seems like a bit of a brat or a cocky teenager, but when it comes down to it most of his problems stem from being a little TOO selfless and regretful.Why does Holden never let his own parents know he got kicked out? Why was he so afraid of them catching him at home when he went to go see Phoebe? Because he feels bad. He feels like a failure for getting kicked out of Pencey Prep. He knows he let his parents down…again. He feels like a horrible son that will never ever be good enough and he just can’t bear the disappointment they will feel for him. He is already regretting getting kicked out and letting everybody down.

Think this is all that Holden Caulfield regrets? Think again. If you really perform a close reading of the text you will find that even more of his problems and his depression may be caused by the regret he feels about his younger brother Allie’s death. He can never seem to stop thinking about Allie. Towards the end of the novel he mentions how he wasn’t able to go to Allie’s funeral because he  was in the hospital. He isn’t direct in saying why he was in the hospital, but one can infer that it may have been for mental issues as Holden clearly still possesses those kinds of mental health issues. Holden also seems to have a lot of trouble accepting the fact that Allie is gone. Maybe he regrets not spending enough time with Allie in the past. He did mention earlier in the novel that one time Allie wanted to go somewhere with him (I believe he said it was to the park or something?) but he said no. He may feel bad about that now because he will never have another chance to take Allie anywhere with him.

Sometimes it seems like Holden Caulfield hasn’t realized that Allie is really gone, though.When he visits Phoebe, Phoebe challenges him to state one thing that he really loves. His answer is Allie, but Phoebe is quick to dismiss his answer since Allie isn’t around anymore. This isn’t his only time referencing Allie as if he were still alive. Right before Holden Caulfield suffers from his main breaking point in the novel he shouts out phrases to Allie asking him to save him as if he can hear him or if he is still there. And if that’s not enough for you, Holden has stated that he no longer visits Allie. He doesn’t agree with the way that Allie was buried in the ground and how people such as his parents continue to place flowers on his grave. This common, recognized practiced seems foreign to a mentally disturbed, regretful Holden. 

2. Holden’s a bit of a hypochondriac. Remember when he goes to the park and it’s rainy and cold and Holden fears that he will catch pneumonia and die shortly? He is so convinced of the reality of this situation happening. He already makes himself feel bad about dying and thinks about what his parents and Phoebe will think even though he’s no where near sick.

Or what about towards the end of the novel when he picks up the magazine on the park bench and reads about the hormones and what a person with healthy hormones should look like? Holden convinces himself that he looks identical to the guy with the unhealthy hormones. He also continues to read about how people with mouth ulcers that don’t heal quickly may have cancer. The outcome? Yep, Holden overreacts and convinces himself that he not only has cancer, but that he will die in a few weeks. 

3. Holden had a horrible childhood. Why else would he be so fascinated in Phoebe and Allie? He seems to want to make sure they have or had good childhoods or he may be seeking to connect with them as a way to get back the childhood he never had. This idea is especially strong with the final scenes at the park with Phoebe. He cries  and is amazed by Phoebe on the carousel. Maybe he never had the experience. Maybe it’s something he always wanted but never had, so he is enjoying the experience through Phoebe’s eyes now and maybe that is why he becomes so emotional. 

4. Holden may have been molested as a child. When he goes to his old English professor, Mr. Antolini’s house he is completely freaked out when he wakes up and finds Mr. Antoini patting his head. Mr. Antolini didn’t really do anything wrong, but Holden is convinced that he is a pervert that will molest him. He also mentions that he always get into situations with perverts like that, subtly suggestion that he may have been molested by an older man as a child. 

5. Holden is an extreme compulsive liar, which is very ironic/a paradox. Holden hates movies and phony people, but he may be the phoniest of them all. I don’t even think it’s possible to keep count of all the lies he tells throughout the novel because there are so many of them. He lies about his age constantly so he can order drinks and a prostitute. He lies to nuns, a classmate’s mother, and even Phoebe (but she is too smart to believe his lie) about getting kicked out of Pencey Prep. He constantly lies about where he is going.  Maybe his reasoning for lying so much is because he is so unhappy with his life that he thinks that by lying about it he can create a better version of it for himself. 

 

These are just five new things I picked up on with this past reading. I look forward to reading it a sixth time in the future and discovering even more things I may have missed the first few times. That’s the great things about books, they are full of hidden treasures that you continue to find every time you pick them up and read them. 


I have been working at Walmart since June of 2012 as a cashier. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you must have heard about Walmart’s reputation for having few lanes open and having long lines where people sometimes get aggravated because it can take awhile to check out. My store is no different.

Walmart-Lines-Are-Too-Long

Image Credits: QuickMeme.com

I work at a store in South Jersey in a big township where people don’t have a lot of money. My store is one of the more popular stores. People like to shop at my Walmart because they are attracted to the low prices and the wide variety of items. Plus, my store is a “super” Walmart, meaning it has a full grocery in addition to clothes, home, entertainment, and other merchandise. Simply put, it’s one store where you can buy virtually anything.

Walmart-Super-Center-Sells-Everything

Image Credits: Walmart.com

During the first week or two of every month our store gets especially crowded. In the beginning of the month everyone gets paid from the government and receives their benefits such as food stamps/EBT, which sadly many people in the township I work for receive. Because Walmart sells so many things people like to use their EBT cards to get both their groceries and other items such as hygiene products from Walmart. I’d estimate the average cost of the an order around the beginning of the month to be about $250 and to have an average of 100 items. As you can imagine, these orders can take a really long time to process no matter how fast of a cashier you are. Now times that by the number of people who crowd the store and you’ve got a bit of a stressful situation, which at times can feel like a complete catastrophe of 6 or more people in your line with hundreds of items to scan at every hour of the day.

walmart-cart-full-of-goods

Image Credits: BlogsMonroe.com

As a cashier you try hard to get everyone taken care of as quickly as possible, usually in fear of getting yelled at or causing customers to become even more angry or irritated for having to wait so long. I myself am known as one of the fastest cashiers at my store. I recently won an award for placing second in the scans per hour contest. I am proud of this achievement and have been working to keep up the pace in hopes of placing first in the near future.

2nd-Place-Walmart-SPH

I often get complimented on by customers for processing their orders so rapidly. However, the other day I receieved a comment from a customer that was a suggestion or tip, rather than a compliment and it made me really think and reconsider my speed. He told me just one word “smile”.

Customers want their orders to be processed quickly, yes, but that’s not all they want. They want to know that their service is appreciated. They want to feel welcomed. A customer’s experienced can be enhanced so much by something as small as a warm smile and a kind gesture. A smile can show a customer that you are happy to serve them and appreciative of their business. When working in retail especially for a busy store in the beginning of the month, this can be hard to remember.

I laughed a little when my customer told me to smile. I tried to lighten up a bit and focus slightly less on my speed and more on treating the customer with a warm heart. His advice hit me hard and I became a bit self conscious thinking to myself  “Wow, do I really look that miserable? I’m not trying to be miserable or show that I’m stressed…I just want to be fast so people are happy…”

Then I remembered a YouTube video that one of my Twitter friends, Brian Humek, founder of PizzaSpotz sent me a few months back. The video is called “Validation” and can really show how much a simple gesture such as a smile can change someone’s day around and warm their heart. The video is a bit on the long side, but totally worth watching the whole way through! Check it out and next time you have to deal with customers on a tight schedule remember to take the time to smile, it could make their day!

Video Credits: Kurt Kuenne



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