Living and laughing with a disability - cerebral palsy; ordinary life, extraordinary circumstances.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Oh Hillary...

I had to run to the drugstore during the airing of Hillary Clinton's speech at the DNC tonight. I heard part of it on the radio, and saw the end of it on TV when I got home.

It was a good speech. She said the things she needed to say. But questions still linger. Why did Barack pass over her for veep? Her supporters don't seem too happy. And, how strong was her endorsement? She seemed to endorse the democratic candidate rather than Obama.

I had a hard time warming up to Hillary during the campaign. She seemed to be the presumptive nominee, and she seemed annoyed when she actually had to fight for it. She did not run a smart campaign. Lot's of missteps...even playing games until the end to secure some of the votes at the convention.

I like Barack's words. He is very eloquent. I do worry about his ability to turn his words into action, but thinking about that, any candidate have to battle for that.

Hillary finally seemed genuine to me tonight. I could have voted for the Hillary I saw tonight. I still like Barack, but Hillary's speech tonight raised her in my eyes. If Barack had asked her to be on the ticket, it would have created even more of a circus atmosphere between now and election day than it already is, but wonder if not making this final reconciliary move is going to cost the Dems the election.

This election is different than the last couple presidential elections that have been choosing the least bad of two candidates. This election is a vote for or against Obama.

Who is the other guy running?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A side trip to see Aunt Jan

We left Seattle Friday afternoon and drove to see my Aunt Jan and Uncle Bruce in Buckley.

I was expecting it to be out in the country with little traffic. Out in the country, yes, but traffic the whole way! Neighboring Bonney Lake is a real boom town.

We had a good visit. Aunt Jan is my bio Dad's sister. She is really into putting together our family tree. I have never gotten the bug to work on my tree. I was adopted by my stepdad as a kid. That is just the beginning in the strangeness in my family tree. Aunt Jan...that stuff doesn't bother her. She has learned that all family trees have strange twists and's nothing new! She just follow every twist and turn the best she can.

Her son, Karl, and his wife, Kim, came over to see us. I think it has been 20 years since I had seen Karl. We were kids! He looks a lot like my brother. We had a good time.

I can't ride the bumper cars?

On Friday we went to the Seattle Center. We let the valet service park Jet White for us...much easier that way.

E wanted to go on the rides. Jodie bought him and I a yellow wrist band for unlimited rides.

We started at the bumper cars. E went right in and picked out a car. I parked my scooter by Jodie and went up to the gate. The young guy and gal who were running the bumper cars decided together that I couldn't go on the bumper cars.

I was rather stunned. Bumper cars has always been my favorite rides, and ramming his Old Man is one of E's greatest joys!

We talked to a manager, who set the kids running the ride straight. Crazy, but I didn't feel like riding the bumper cars after that.

I did go on the Music Express with E. It was a little fast for me. I am getting a touch older.

Jodie tells me that she has always been denied access to rides because of her disability. This is the first time it has happened to me.

It makes me laugh that I can drive a 8,750 lb. van...but I'm not allowed on the bumper cars!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Quick trip to Seattle

Jodie and I have wanted to get E to a Mariners game for years. We finally managed to get tickets to a game and get a hotel room up there.

I was kind of weary about driving out monster rig around the streets of Seattle. We had our Garmin navigation to help us. I did pretty good, but a few times the directions came to late for me to make a turn. I hate being dumped on a freeway in the left lane...and having to get way over to the right in a quarter heavy traffic!

Oakland beat the Mariners 2-0. Not a real surprise considering the kind of year the M's are having. Eve so, watching Ichiro hit the ball almost out of the park, watching Raul hit the ball, and seeing Johjima's magic behind the plate, was awesome. E bought an unsigned Mariner's bat for $30. A bat signed by a player cost $300! The stadium attendants were all supremely nice to us. One gave E a baseball card of the relief pitcher that came in for Seattle.

We had an interesting time getting back to the hotel. Every way we tried to go was closed off! A couple of U-turns, and we found our way.

Local man has his tricycle stolen...again!

Eric Nelson lives not far from us here in Gresham. We don't know him, but we see him sometimes. Two weeks ago, Jodie and I drove our scooter, and our son, E, rode his bike, to the car show in downtown Gresham. We saw Eric that day on his trike.

According the this news story, his trike was stolen for the second time since 2004. Eric uses his trike to collect pop cans from his neighbors in exchange for pulling their emptied garbage cans up from the curb to the house. I am glad that a dear friend of his was able to collect money from the neighbors to replace Eric's trike.

I had a old Schwinn trike that was my main mode of transportation from grade school through my college years. I rode all over the Oregon State campus, and all over Corvallis, on my trike. It was my independence.

I am disturbed that there are people out there who would steal Eric's independence for a cheap thrill.

Thank God for the kindness of friends and neighbors.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An email gone astray

I received an email at my domain

The name before the @ sign was not one I recognized. The email made reference to vending machines.

Enough to pique my curiosity!

I started googling names. I found a lotto winner in Michigan.

I decided to Google "".

I found

"R" is in a different place.

A vending machine company in Des Moines.

Curiosity did not kill this cat...this time.

A big deal....for me....

The other day we called and canceled the daily paper, The Oregonian.

Big deal...I know.

I have been reading the paper since I was 9. My family had moved from Portland to Harbor City, California...part of the humongous conglomerate called "L.A."...or the South Bay. The paper we had there was the Daily Breeze.

When I was at Oregon State University, after a couple years of figuring out what I was not good at (engineering, computer science, business...), I stumbled into journalism. It came easy for me. I wrote features, copy edited, and had a weekly humor column titles "Witticisms" for the Daily Barometer. That was over 20 years ago...OMG!

For most of the last 20 years, I have been an avid reader of the Oregonian. Cover to cover, pretty much every day. I remember as a kid trying to understand the wars and conflicts in small nations far away. I laugh because I always thought that I would understand them better when I grew up. I guess I am still waiting to grow up.

You can probably tell by the links to all the former newspapers that I rear or use to read...they are all online now. By the time I get to read the paper version, the news is 24 hours old...I have lost interest in old news.

I spend a lot of my spare time at night reading news online. All the local stations, Google News, CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC...and many more.

And a couple gossip sites:

Huffington Post


I don't have time for "the paper".

Cross-dressing flasher doused with boiling water by bikini barista | Local News | | News for Oregon and SW Washington

Headline of the year?

Cross-dressing flasher doused with boiling water by bikini barista | Local News | | News for Oregon and SW Washington

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Eat a Lime

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said "Eat a Lime".

I could not figure out it's meaning.

A little googling, and I found its meaning.

Portland is weird, and pirates rock!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Trip to the Expo Center...

E had a buddy spend the night last night. Day time high's around here in Oregon have been over a hundred degrees.

So, what do you do to fill he time for 2 12 yo boys on such a scorcher of a day?

We headed to the Portland Expo Center, praying that they had good air conditioning...and they did.

Today the public was invited to visit the International 2008 Military Vehicle Preservation Association Convention.

We all enjoyed the show, but I venture to say I enjoyed it more myself. Jeeps, Humvees, military trucks of all sizes, tanks, motorcycles -- dating back to World War I! I kept scooting around and between them, trying to take it all in.

There was also vendors selling every military relic you can think of.

Even more impressive was watching the veterans walking or wheeling about, remembering the days of sacrifice.

We let each of the boys buy a small replica - Austin got a tank, and E got a Apache helicopter.

I wanted to buy a $200 tank.....but naa...

Friday, August 15, 2008

A true Jeff Merkley supporter

One my way to work this morning I say a pickup hauling a utility trailer filled with old furniture.

I could see a "Jeff Merkley" bumper sticker on the right most part of the pickup's bumper.

I thought of this commercial, with a chuckle, as I wondered where this guy got all this furniture:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Heeere's Johnny...

I mean Donny....

Trump to buy McMahon's home for him - Celebrities-

"Tropic Thunder" and the R-word

I suppose there is humor for some...or a lot...of people when they here the word retard.

As one who has people with little understanding call me that, I don't like it. It is a hurtful word. I heard it more as a kid than I do now.

Why would the movie "Tropic Thunder" bring back the R-word? I like Ben Stiller, but I won't be seeing this movie.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Google Summer Games 2008

Here is a great Olympic portal from Google:

Click on the "Stadiums" tab. Zoom in to see more venues appear. Click on the venue to see what events are done there.

Interesting stuff!

Olympics coverage

Jack has a good commentary on the coverage of the Olympics so far.

I added my technical two cents to Jack's post regarding Google News coverage:

Google News has an “Olympics” tab, but to get it you have to scroll to the bottom of the page under the international versions and click “UK” or “Canada English”. There you will see two nifty Google gadgets, “Olympic Medals” and “Olympic Events”. You can then switch back to the “U.S.” version and you will still see the Olympics tab. When you leave Google News and return to it, the Olympics tab disappears!

Did NBC convince Google not to include the "Olympics" tab on the U.S. version of Google News? Inquiring minds want to know.

I like this site for coverage:

Olympics are on!

We are wild about the Olympics here at the Wittren household. I have enjoyed the beach volleyball...those poor guys playing in the rain.

The opening ceremony was wonderful. I really liked watching gymnast Li Ning running suspended in air, sideways, around the top of that stadium, as the road to the Olympics unfurled before him in video magic.

Check this one out...

This is a good one!

The J-Walk Blog: The Sunday Caption Contest (Comments)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Am I disabled?

Interesting question, as addressed here.

The Oregonian has an editorial on their recent 2 part series about the slowness of the Social Security Administration in processing the claims of disabled workers.

Part 1

Part 2

I have some fragmented thoughts on the a disabled person and as an eligibility worker.

I have never not been disabled. I have always imagined that to become disabled later in life and having to learn to live with a disability would be far harder than being born with a disability and knowing no different.

I can only imagine the angst of becoming disabled and not being able to do the job you once did. Your first inclination would be to apply for a disability payment. After taking however long it takes to start the healing process, you might come to see abilities that you have in spite of your disability that might be applied toward a job.

Many people who first meet me see my cerebral palsy, my affected speech and the different way I walk. Before they really know me, they probably do not view me as very employable. I have come far from when I was two, before I could walk or talk, when doctors could not tell my mom and dad what my life would be like. I think if I had not gone to college and had I not gotten work, people probably would not think it too odd.

Some people are disabled beyond being able to work. I am just saying that working any job, if you can, is better than not working. It makes you part of something.

I use to figure out eligibility for foodstamps. I had to use all the information at hand -- as reported on the application by the client, and whatever information I could glean from the computer screens I had access to. You need to be as perfect as possible. You want to give benefits as soon as possible to those people who truly need the benefits. You also need to ferret out those who do not qualify for benefits.

The tough side of eligibility is that not all people who need benefits will get them. The thought use to cross my mind --- why not just give benefits to whoever wants them. Use the honor system. Have people put their information into a computer, and have the computer figure out the benefits. Get rid of all the eligibility workers and auditors. Look at all the money we would save!


People would cheat. Other people would find out they could cheat. Pretty soon, everybody would be getting foodstamps.

Lets bring it back to people who apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The prime reason that the process takes about five years of frustration is that the eligibility requirements are screwed down tight.

Why? Lack of money to adequately fund this federal entitlement program.

My solutions would require more money. More doctor reports, more information, more eligibility specialists. Triage cases. Quicker responses. Because of the complexity of the determinations and the size and length of the benefits, you really could not leave these determinations up to a computer.

I would add as part of a triage some sort of vocational counseling, just to open the applicant's eyes to what vocational possibilities might exist for them. Something more than just a letter that I got from the Social Security Administration when I applied for SSI after high school stating that I could be a security guard. Part of a smart triage would determine which applicants would need vocational counseling, and which would not.

Just takes more money. How do lawmakers convince their constituents, all of us, to pay more taxes to cover the costs? It's not exactly a popular issue that people would want to pay more to fix. Unless you are disabled yourself, or have a close friend or relative who is, the topic is probably of little interest to you. In fact, we have all heard stories of people cheating the system.

Blaming the government is too easy. Are we willing to pay more money so that disabled workers who apply for Social Security Disability are treated in a quicker and fairer way?

I have my doubts....