A Talk on Current Events

The video segments in this section are from a talk that Mike gave as part of an Educational Interpreter Institute during August of 2002 in Noyes Auditorium at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault.   In the audience are about 50 educational interpreters who work throughout the state.  Because it is an actual event, later texts may draw on information provided in previous ones.  Additionally, with interaction with the audience, some relevant information was not captured by the camera. The summaries provide some of the contextual information which might not be included in the video.

Schools On in a Blizzard

Mike began his talk with some reflections on being a student in the Auditorium, including a remembrance about what his principal did one time to keep school open during a blizzard.  (1:29)  Written summary of Text

The Events of 9/11

Mike begins his focus on current events by talking about the events of September 11, 2001.  He talks about his learning about what happened that day, as well his involvement on a task force on Terrorism for the Department of Health. (8:23)  Written summary of Text

In the Command Center

Mike shares his experience of having been at the State of Minnesota’s Command Center on the night of September 11, 2003 and what his perspective as a Deaf person had to being prepared in the event of an emergency.  (1:49)  Written summary of Text

Task Force on Terrorism

Mike explains in more depth about his participation on a Task Force for the Department of Health which focuses on being prepared for terrorism and other risks.  (1:35) Written summary of Text

The Governor

Mike shares some reflections on Minnesota’s Governor at the time, Jesse Ventura.  He particularly focuses on the Deaf community’s attempts to work with the Governor in creating access to what is going on in the state.  (6:10) Written summary of Text

Legislative Allies

Mike talks about the importance for the Deaf community to have allies in the legislature.  (0:28) Written summary of Text

The 2002 Governor’s Race

Mike talks about the candidates in the 2002 governor’s race in the state of Minnesota.    (5:14)   Written summary of Text

All Aboard Light Rail

Mike talks about his reasons for being a strong supporter of light rail and the concept of mass transit.    (4:56)  Written summary of Text

Putting Rail in the Budget

Mike explains how the legislature has handled Governor Ventura’s desire to move on building light rail transportation.  (0:47) Written summary of Text

The Importance of the Legislature

Mike talks about why we ignore the legislature at our own risk.    (3:08) Written summary of Text

Change Face of the Legislature

Mike talks how the traditions of legislative control in Minnesota have been shifting in recent years.     (0:57)  Written summary of Text

Redistricting and the 2002 Election

Mike explains how changes in population growth and redistricting is affecting people?s representation and the election process.     (1:36)  Written summary of Text

On Stocks and Cell Phones

Mike talks about how the corporate scandals in 2002 have affected the stock market, and how the use of cell phones has grown (and how that plays into people’s relationship with their stocks.)     (5:00)  Written summary of Text

Pagers and Beyond

Growing out of the discussion of cell phones, Mike talks about how technological developments are affecting possibilities for Deaf people to communicate.   (2:14)  Written summary of Text

Strike Three?

As this talk was given a short time before the deadline for a baseball strike, Mike talks about the impact a strike would have on baseball. (3:52) Written summary of Text

A Valuable Baseball Card

Mike shares his most valuable baseball card, that of the only Deaf player to pitch in the World Series.   (4:07)  Written summary of Text

Cochlear Implants

Mike discusses the pros and cons of cochlear implants, from the perspective as a Deaf person and as a parent.   (4:21)  Written summary of Text

Written Summaries

These summaries are offered not as definitive translations, but as support fo comprehension, analysis, and your own interpretations.

School’s On in a Blizzard

Mike tells a story about Mr. Easterline (A-C-E) who worked as a principal at the Minnesota School for the Deaf and also raised sheep on a nearby farm.  One winter day, all the students were excited because they were sure school would be cancelled due to heavy snows.  Then, from the windows of the old boys’ dorm, Barron Hall (B-H) they saw something they couldn’t believe:  a John Deere tractor arriving on the campus.  They knew this meant Easterline was there.  Sure enough, the phone rang soon after in the dorm and the students were called to school.  It didn’t seem fair that the hearing students got a day off to play while the deaf students had to make their way through tunnels to class.  Calls had been made to a couple of teachers who were able to come to school on snowmobiles.  So, they ended up having class all day.  The fact that the principal would drive into school on a tractor is something Mike will never forget.  Back to Video

The Events of 9/11

Mike gets to the point of his talk which is current events.  He encourages audience participation and discussion.  He begins with the events of September 11, which he recognizes everyone knows about.  The plans crashing into the towers turned the world on its head and 9/11 is now equally a “day of infamy,” just like in WW II when Japan dropped their bombs on December 7, 1941.  On that day, Ventura (Ed note:  the Minnesota Governor) made an interesting point.  Mike was watching his press conference at noon—which at first didn’t have captions, but after some phone calls, one channel got the captions working.  Ventura made an interesting point that during WW II, at least we knew who hit us, but on September 11, we didn’t know who hit us.  It was a different situation.  We have suspicions about who was behind it, but it wasn’t like WW II when the emblem of the Rising Sun  was emblazoned on the wings of the aircraft that were dropping the bombs.  So, with 9/11, we?re not quite sure who is behind it.

That day, when Mike got to work, someone told him that a plane had crashed into the World Trade building in New York.  Sean Virnig came over at that time, and they both were there to see the interpretation about what was going on.  Mike envisioned that it was a small plane which had accidentally crashed into the building.  He thought perhaps it was a foggy day or something.  Back in the 1940?s, an airplane had crashed into the Empire State Building on the 90th floor, and Mike thought it was a similar situation.  Then, when he saw that another plane had crashed, his suspicions were up.  Of course, everyone one was tuned into those events all day—shocked at what was happening in the world.  Mike stayed connected with it, learning about what was happening with the nation, with Osama Bin Laden, and Al-Qaeda.  That these people had been planning for years for this and that it was connected to the bombing in the basement of the World Trade Center years before.  It was the same people who orchestrated this.  Now, the news is reporting a possible “urban jihad.”  Mike then asks people if they know what “Jihad” means.   He explains it means “Holy war.”  And that al-Qaeda is planning different attacks on cities—through bombs or assassination.  CNN reported that they found tapes at al-Qaeda?s headquarters which showed how to make bombs, and how to use chemicals.  As well as showing tests of those chemicals on animals—like testing them on dogs and timing how long it takes to work.  Which means that America now knows that they have weapons of mass destruction.  All of that really intrigues Mike, keeping him reading the newspaper.

One reason Mike keeps up with the news is part of his work.  Through his work, he is on a commission—which he clarifies is a Task Force from the Department of Health.  The Task Force?s focus is Terrorism.  He is the only Deaf member of the Task force, and they have another big meeting next week.  They meet monthly to talk about terrorism here at home and what to do to prepare for that possibility.  The committee which Mike is on is “Risk Communication” which means how to rapidly communicate information, particularly to people who are Deaf, Hard of hearing, or DeafBlind.    An example of one topic they have dealt with is remote captioning.  Mike explains that captioning services don?t have to be local, though he knows Channel 11 uses local services.  But captioning could happen in another state.  His sister-in-law, who is Deaf, lives in Baltimore.  A couple of years when he was visiting, Mike was impressed with her station?s captioning.  She explained that it wasn’t her station, but that they contracted with a company in Pittsburgh.  So that was the beginning of Mike?s learning about how that system works, which he now knows well.  So, the captioning doesn’t have to happen on site, but could be in other locations.  Back to his point, Mike raised the point of using a remote captioner at the task force meeting, and people nodded in agreement that it was a good idea.  But he wondered if they really understood all of what it meant.  After another topic went around for discussion, he again raised the captioning issue and asked people to consider the possibility that a captioner might be in Rochester, but if Rochester was bombed, that would destroy that communication.  Mike wasn’t trying to play games with these people by bringing this up, but he realized that most of them didn’t fully understand the needs of Deaf and Hard of hearing people, and he wanted them to understand the need of having captioning services in a variety of places so that in the event that one went down, there would be a back-up in place.  Back to Video

In the Command Center

Mike is talking about the night of 9/11/2001 at the “Nerve Center” or “Command Center” in St. Paul.  The governor and several key military people were there.  Mike was also there, and when he entered, he immediately noticed two large TV screens—similar to the one on stage which is out of view from the camera.  In front of the screens military officers engaged in discussion.  Mike asked where the closed captions were, and was told that they were down in another room at the end of a long string of larger tvs.  The captions were on a very small screen.  Mike was accepting of it at that point, but later he explained how to improve services.  Instead of having the captions on in the corner, they should be on the main screen in front of everyone.  That way, the captions would be larger, and in case the sound on the TV went off, which sometimes happens, people would still be able to read the captions and know what was going on.  Which was a point that they hadn’t thought about but which made sense.  So if later, the sound was for some reason cut off, the military officers would be able to read the captioning and still know what was going on.  Back to Video

Task Force on Terrorism

Mike begins talking about the committee which he is involved in focusing on terrorism and our response to it.  Not just for people who are Deaf and hard of hearing, but for the public in general.  Mike then asks the audience what they think might be a new item added to the agenda of that committee?s work.  It?s related to health and is on the same agenda as dealing with terrorism.    Someone responds anthrax, which Mike says is included in terrorism.  He reminds the audience that it is a Department of Health committee.  The hot issue is finally answered by someone in the audience as the West Nile Virus.  So, it has finally been placed on the agenda for the Task Force to look at.  The virus has been showing up more often and so it?s an interesting thing for them to look at.  Mike then says that people should watch out for mosquito bites, though the Deaf School, of course,  is free from the disease.  Outside of the ring around campus, there might be infected mosquitoes, but not on campus.  Particularly there in Noyes Hall, where Noyes ghost would scare them off.  (Ed. Note:  This is a reference to Mike’s discussion of Noyes’ ghost from the previous night.  See “Ghost Stories.”)  Back to Video

The Governor

Mike starts off talking about “our friend” Jesse Ventura.  (Someone in the audience refutes that Jesse is their friend, which Mike copies to the entire group.)  Mike then asks the audience if they are happy that Jesse Ventura is almost done with his time as governor?  Or not sure?  Or if they are ready to throw him out?  (As no one responds, he wonders if anyone is paying attention or if they are counting the tiles on the ceiling, a reference to another story of his school days that is not on the CD.)  Mike then responds that he is read to see Jesse go.  The Deaf community had invited the governor to have a meeting with them.  MADC had sent a letter to the governor asking for the meeting but they didn’t receive any response.  Last month, MADC sent Ventura another letter and he finally accepted their invitation.  Which was a surprising response, but he is also leaving office soon.  There is a meeting in the next couple of weeks with the Deaf community and John Wodele, who is Venura’s right hand man and spokesperson.  Wodele is quoted in the newspaper often.  The meeting will focus on a variety of issues.  One of the complaints the Deaf community had was that there was no captioning for the governor’s press conferences.  (Mike then spends some time remembering his next point, reviewing the complaint about the press club, communication and language, and captioning.)  The other example is how, every Friday, the governor has a radio show entitled “Lunch with the Governor.”  That event is publicized in state information and on the state home page on their website.  Public money is used for that, so the Deaf community sent a complaint about not having access to knowing what was being said on that.  That all the information was being conveyed to people who can hear, but that Deaf people weren’t included in that process.  That Deaf people what to know what the Governor is saying, and what he is planning.  They voted for him, too, and want to be included.  The response that came back in regards to the press conferences that it was a media decision to have captioning or not.  That it wasn’t in the governor’s authority to dictate that, but it was up to individual media outlets.  For the concern about the “Lunch with the Governor,”  they were willing to meet to discuss ideas about that.  But as for the press conferences, that was up to the media, not the governor’s office. So, they will meet to discuss that.  Mike’s perspective on the press conferences is that if it takes place at a public building like the Capitol, it should be accessible because the Capitol is owned by the people of Minnesota.  If it?s a press conference that takes place out in the rain, Mike is fine with however it happens.

Ventura is leaving soon, but they will be ready to meet with the next Governor.  Mike is working with MADC (and he then asks if people know what MADC is, and he goes on to explain that it is the Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens.)  The collaboration is nice because MADC is a community organizations and legislators tend to listen to them more than to Mike, who is a state employee.  That as a consumer organization,  legislators tend to be more open to work  with MADC because they realize their potentials as voters, so Mike works with them to help do some arm-twisting in influencing Ventura.  Mike isn’t sure if that will work, but they’ll try.

Mike then gives an example of working with Ventura.  In talking about September 11, he references a story from the previous night of trying to get the interpreter to be closer to the speaker.  Then, he explains how there was a press conference on September 11th.  There was an interpreter there, but when Mike looked on the TV screen, there was no interpreter.  Instead, Ventura’s wife was standing behind him—blocking out the interpreter.  Mike sent a letter expressing his frustration about that lack of access.  It was not intended as an insult to Ventura’s wife, but just a concern about the lack of information to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community…because there are some hard of hearing people, too, who could get information from the signing.  With Governor Ventura as our boss, it has meant some difficult struggles for the Deaf community.  Mike begins to sign something about 2002..and then goes off on a tangent about a friend encouraging him to sign 20+0+2 because it is more consistent with ASL’s number system for separating dates into two numbers, rather than 4 separate numbers.  Back to Video

On Legislative Allies

The Deaf Community is always encouraging and looking for someone who is a friend to the community who is also in the Legislature.  Having allies in the legislature who can work with the Deaf Community is important for being able to work for the programs and services on the Deaf Community’s agenda.  Back to Video

The 2002 Governor’s Race

With Governor Ventura exiting office,Mike is talking about how will come after him in the election.  The three candidates include the Independence Party?s Tim Penny, who Mike remembers from his days as a Congressman in Washington, DC.  He was known as a “boy wonder” who suddenly left politics because of family reasons.  He?s one to watch being as politically savvy as he is.  Having left politics and now returning to run for governor.  Naturally, many people remember him from his time as a congressman.

Mike then asks the audience who the Republican candidate is and says that it is Tim Pawlenty.  And the Democrat is Moe.  Someone from the audience then offers up that the Green Party candidate is Ken Pentel, which Mike interprets as a possible show of support for the Green Party.  Mike has tried to immerse himself this year in the political scene.  He was at the DFL caucus in Rice County and was then elected as a delegate to go on to the DFL state convention.  Which was a good experience.  He begins to tell a story about captioning and the interpreter, but then backs up to say that it was an exciting convention.  His delegation was one of the front ones, but still far from the stage.  It was at the downtown convention center.  It was hard to see the interpreter well, so Mike motioned for the interpreter to move close to the speaker?s podium, because the speaker was being projected up onto large screens.  As the interpreter moved over, the camera only caught half of the interpreter.  Mike then motioned up to the camera person to use what he considered a little common sense and include the full interpreter.  Mike may have seemed a little crazy there waving his arms, but the camera person saw what he was getting at and widened the camera angle to include both the speaker and the interpreter which made the convention all the more enjoyable for Mike.  Good experience to see the political process in action.  Moe, who had been in politics over 30 years, was one of the founders of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services Division.  He was a signer on the legislation that brought the Regional Service Centers into being.  He was involved in that process in the late 1970?s that finally got the legislation passed in 1980.  Moe, Mike says, is one of the “old guard,” which some call the “good old boys? network.”  Still, Moe is a pretty smooth politician.

The Republican, Pawlenty, tries to sign because his neighbor is Deaf.  His neighbor is the President of MADC (Minn Association of Deaf Citizens) and one time, Mike and his friend met Pawlenty in the hall of the Capitol.  Pawlenty tried to sign, but not clearly, but Mike, being as smooth as he is, just feigned understanding and shook Pawlenty’s hand.  Even though it made his eyes cross to see the signing, he didn’t let on that he didn’t understand what he was saying.  After Pawlenty left, Mike turned to his friend and asked him if he was teaching him to sign that way.  But kidding aside, Mike recognized that the attempt meant that Pawlenty had a good attitude.  Back to Video

All Aboard Light Rail

Mike is a strong supporter of light rail because of his strong belief in mass transit.  He was spoiled by his experiences in Washington, D.C. and New York City, among other places.  When Mike was a student at Gallaudet, it was the fall of 1974, and the city was working round the clock to get ready for the Bicentennial celebration in 1976.    Sometimes, driving was tough because they were working so hard to get the subway tunnels ready.  They started in the center of the city and built spokes out toward the edges of the city.  He then refers to Susan, an audience member, and that she would be familiar with this system.  When he was first in DC, they had small lines built, which he rode and really enjoyed.  In New York City, the subway there is full of history.

Subways are very efficient. New York has a very good transportation system.  Minnesota’s is more of a regular system, but after time with other systems, including travels in Europe where there are many subways, Mike feels strongly that Minneapolis and St. Paul should have a subway system.  Those cities really have a terrible system right now.  Mike recently drove to South Carolina and driving through Chicago, he was surprised by how improved the traffic was.  Then he went through Cincinnati, Ohio; Indianapolis; Lexington, KY; and Knoxville, TN.  All of these cities had better traffic flow than Minneapolis and St. Paul.  It seems that here we start too many projects before finishing other ones. To Mike, it seems like we really have a bad system here.

Mike has also asked people about the old streetcars.  When Minneapolis and St. Paul had streetcars, people said it was one of the best in the nation.  Mike wonders what was wrong with Minnesotans when they decided to get rid of that system, in about 1950 (52 years ago) and exchange it for polluting buses.  The street car used to run from downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul all the way out west to Excelsior.   Excelsior used to have an amusement park which was the Valley Fair of its time.  The Deaf people he asked about it said the streetcar system worked really well.  You didn’t have to worry in the wintertime because there was a plow on the front of the streetcar that cleared the street.    So, people were able to continue working in the winter because they could get where they needed to go, since the street car would plow the streets.  It?s interesting how people decided to get rid of that system without really being able to predict the changes in the future.  Mike thinks its related to people having weak math skills.  People DO multiply.  He thinks people in the 1950?s should have been able to see that there would have been more people in the future, that it was simply common sense.  That there would be more of people, more interpreters.  Anyway, it?s interesting how the environment changes.  How urban sprawl has become more pervasive.  Some people call it progress, but Mike disagrees.  He doesn’t call that progress.  Back to Video

Putting Light Rail in the Budget

Light rail,  which was supposed to be started this year, has been put off from 2003 to 2004.  Governor Ventura is not happy about that delay.  He wanted it to begin before he left office. But it was delayed because of construction costs.  But the legislature has had to partition up the budget, and because the economy is having such a slow turnaround, not at all a quick rebound.  The long and difficult climb for the economy really makes all of this rough. Back to Video

The Importance of the Legislature

Mike begins by asking the audience who likes the legislature and receives a few affirmative responses.  He feels it is important because if the legislative process is ignored, legislators can make policies which impact his life in many ways, whether related to work, property taxes, schools, or education.  If the legislature makes incorrect decisions, they can really mess with the education system.  Right now, a hot topic is vouchers and whether or not that is a good idea.  They are also discussing home schools vs. traditional schooling; cuts to higher education and increases in tuition.  The legislature also has to make priorities.  It’s possible that they would focus all of the budget on light rail and end up shortchanging education.  Mike’s in favor of rail, but what happens to high school graduates who can’t afford to pay 100,000 dollars over four years for college.  And that’s for college cost now.  It?s hard to imagine what the costs will be in the future.  That’s why the legislature is important to try to help keep the costs down.

Mike is a daily reader of the newspaper, particularly keeping a close eye on issues that relating to education and the Deaf and hard of hearing community.  There is now discussion of a charter school with an oral philosophy; there is MDS (Metro Deaf School) and here (referring to MSAD.)  If more and more schools are set up for Deaf children, Mike is unsure of what the consequences will be of all of those choices.    He worries that there won?t be the critical mass considering that there are not many Deaf people to begin with.  With a small school of 40-50 students, it can be a good situation but Mike wonders about if it is as stimulating an environment as one that has a lot more deaf students.  So, that is an interesting part of the discussion related to Deaf education trends.  This is a new trend.  Back in Mike?s time, all of the Deaf students from K-12 came here (MSD) for school.  There were 300-350 students there then—which had pros and cons, but for Mike looking back, it was quite an experience to see all the discussion that went on in such a large group of deaf people.  Sometimes when he comes to the school to visit and sees small groups of students in the auditorium, he thinks back to the days when he was young and the same space was filled with students.  One side had 100 boys and the other had 100 girls—or maybe 150 on each side.  So, there have been lots of changes, and it’s not totally clear whether they are good or bad.  It’s important to keep an open mind, but it all goes back and relates to issues that come up in the legislature.  Back to Video

Changing Face of the Legislature

Mike talks about the traditional parties in Minnesota being the Republicans and the DFL, with Minnesota traditionally being a DFL state.  That is changing however with the emergence of the Green Party, and with Republicans taking control of the house.  The Senate is still under Democratic control, but it may be that the Republicans will gain control there too.  The governmental processes are interesting to look at, especially considering Republican budget ideas.  Mike wonders if there could be problems under a Republican budget for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Deaf Blind services.  Mike can’t say for sure, but he says that if you work for a long time with legislature, you can begin to see people?s agenda, in a sense, to read their minds.  And under the Republican house, he has seen several red fags that make him wonder what the future might hold.  Back to Video

Redistricting and the 2002 Election

Mike begins talking about the upcoming election, on the local, state, and national levels that, because of population growth, have been affected by redistricting.  So some people had their long-time legislator move into a new district and they end up with a new legislator who they don?t know anything about.  So, it?s an interesting challenge.  Mike worries because, after 9 years of experience working with the legislature, many good people are retiring or deciding not to run again.  So, there will be a line of new legislators starting at the bottom, who don?t have any knowledge of the Deaf agenda.  So, they?ll have to come up with a new game plan.  MADC will have to develop new strategies for working with legislators.  Some legislators are easy to make in-roads with while others are more standoffish.  Newly-elected legislators often come in with a whole list of ways for solving problems overnight, which doesn’t really work.  Other legislators are very smart about how they go about learning the process and what needs to happen to make things work.  Mike has seen a lot of different approaches like that in the legislature.  Back to Video

On Stocks and Cell Phones

Mike begins talking about Enron and the severe drop in the stock market.  Just yesterday, a man admitted to guilt.  His name was something like Kopper.  He was in the upper management at Enron. Those at the top had raked in millions of dollars.  It looks like Kopper will be convicted, but probably not end up with a long jail term because of a plea agreement.  In yesterday?s news, they announced that a plea was reached.  That means Kopper will name others involved in exchange for a lessened sentence.

The economic drop has really impacted people on small budgets whose investments and stocks are now just gone.  All of it due to the greed of a few who stole the money from their pockets.  Some people lost their life savings and their security is now gone.  All of that has really had an impact on Mike.  He has really taken his budgeting and investments more seriously.  Before he used to just trust the companies he invested in, but now things are different.  When he gets a notice about an election for a board, he used to tear it up.  But now he takes the time to read it, decide who is the best candidate based on their background, and send his vote in.  He really has become much more involved, influenced by the events around the stock market.  When companies send stacks of information asking for participation, he finds himself now going through it because of his sense of responsibility for making sure his investment doesn?t disappear.  He makes the point that the environment of what is happening in the world really influences him more than it did in the past.  Security simply isn?t there like it was in the past.  Even working for the State, security is not there.  The economy is simply tough and it is an influence coming from the newspaper, radio, and TV.

Mike kids a friend often about the radio and cell phones.  He began commuting a long distance about 10-11 years ago.  At that time, there were cell phones in about 1 out of every 100 cars.  Now, almost EVERY car has a cell phone. Sometimes, the husband?s driving and talking on the phone. The wife is in the passenger seat talking on another one, and the kids are in back talking on phones of their own.  One time, Mike was trying to pass a car, and as he finally passed it, he noticed the driver was in deep discussion on a cell phone.  So, Mike decided to enjoy himself, and as he pulled up to the driver, he mimicked that he was having a discussion on the phone, except he was just using his hand and he really had no phone.  When the other driver saw him, that person was a little confused, but Mike feels like it is important for people to “lighten up.”  But there are a lot more cell phones than there used to be.  And Mike teases a group of his friends that hearing people are getting rich so quickly because they listen to the stock reports on the radio and then can use their cell phones to buy stock.  But Deaf people have to drive to the office and look at the computer to see what their stocks are doing, while hearing people can listen to the radio in the car and take care of buying stock on their phone.  But one of my Deaf friends said that we shouldn?t worry, because Deaf people will eventually be rich after all the hearing people get cancer from talking on their cell phones too much.  That Deaf people will then take control of the world as a way of getting even.  Back to Video

Pagers and Beyond

Mike begins by responding to a question from the audience about whether or not he has a pager.  Which he says he doesn?t, but then goes on to say that it is true that some Deaf people use pagers while they are driving.  He tells the story of two years ago going to a reunion of his fraternity in Washington, DC, and staying at a friend?s house.  He was driving with his friend through the Washington traffic to the site of a group photo that they didn’t want to miss.  His friend was using his pager to communicate with a car four cars ahead to tell them when to exit, and to wait for others coming behind to be sure everyone made it.  It really is an improvement in communication.  Then, he asks if anyone has seen the recent TV commercial (and he doesn?t know if it is good or not) but there are four guys playing cards and he looks at his phone and sees a picture of his wife (and then he asks again if the audience has seen that ad)  and the picture on the phone is supposed to be something exciting – it?s his wife showing some food.  This wasn?t something Mike hadn?t thought of but he envisions being able to sign to his wife Jeanine and tell her that he will be home late.  The possibility is really wonderful.  When he explained it to Jeanine, she thought it was a good idea.  So, technology is really good.  Mike then envisions a scenario where he is signing into a video cell phone and he pulls up next to other drivers who look at him questioningly.  Or even having a video screen where the rearview mirror is and having conversations while driving (that need to be suspended during bad traffic.) But the possibilities technology offers for communication are really wonderful.   Back to Video

Strike Three?

Mike takes a little tangent (with permission) to talk about baseball.  He first shows the Minnesota sign for BASEBALL. (with a C contacting a B handshape) He also shows the sign like swinging a bat which is gaining currency, but reiterates that his sign growing up was the other one. When he attended Gallaudet, he got a lot of flack for all of his “Minnesota signs,” but he goes on to talk more specifically about the possibility of a baseball strike.  The deadline is set for August 30th, and he wonders what can be going on with baseball.  He had read in that day?s paper that one owner (he couldn?t remember the team) made the comment that he would be fine with a strike that lasted a year.  Which would mean from August 30 to the end of the next August.  Which would mean a big loss in revenue…

Mike then speculates about the impact that a strike would have on fans.  First thinking that it would be the fourth strike, and then realizing it would be the third strike, he thinks many fans would lose faith with major league baseball.  Since players make so much money, with the minimum salary at 200-250,000 dollars.  Mike would be more than happy to be stuck in right field catching foul balls for that amount of money.

Mike had spent some time talking with old-timers about baseball’s past.  One of these interviews was with someone at Gallaudet who was originally from Brooklyn.  And when the Dodgers were there, before they moved, players used to have to clean up the bleachers after the game was over.  Famous players like PeeWee Reese had to clean up the all the popcorn, peanuts, and pop that was left after a game.  It?s hard to imagine telling players today who make 200,000 dollars minimum to clean everything after a game was over.  (Even having them polish the floors until they ended up with holes in their knees—a reference to a story from the previous evening.)  But the difference does show how baseball has changed over the years.

That day in the paper, Mike also read about Senator Johnson from Wilmar saying that if baseball goes on strike, all discussion in the legislature about possible funding of a new Twins? stadium would be off, a comment intended as a warning to the players representative named Hocking.  Mike tends to agree with the sentiment that if baseball did go on strike, money that might have been put to the stadium should be put towards something like education.  That it should go to someone other than the “Fat Cats” who are already making such large salaries.  Back to Video

A Valuable Baseball Card

Going back to Baseball, Mike was a card collector growing up.  (He jokingly claimed to have burned them all.)  He did have one favorite card which he brought with him.  The card is of a Deaf man who graduated from the Kansas School for the Deaf in 1896 or 1897.  This person was the only culturally Deaf person to be in the World Series.  (By “culturally Deaf,” Mike means having gone to a School for the Deaf and knowing ASL among other things.)  He played in the 1905 World Series for the New York Giants.   He was a very popular pitcher named Luther “Dummy” Taylor.  Many Deaf people in baseball during that era were called  “Dummy.”  Many Deaf people now are very insulted by that knickname, and when Mike was younger, he agreed.  But with  an understanding of how historically, the word only meant that you couldn’t speak, and that it evolved over time to have a more degrading, insulting meaning—i.e. someone is an imbecile—that it became more offensive.  At Gallaudet, on the weather vane on one of the oldest buildings, the inscription reads I.D.D., for Institute for the Deaf and Dumb.  Some people want to take that down, but Mike takes no offense and thinks it should be left as a reminder of history?s legacy.

Back to Taylor, who was in the 1905 World Series, Mike was at a Baseball Card show and saw Taylor?s card.  The card was from 1906 (and Mike bought it about 15 years ago.)  It?s not that it is monetarily worth as much as other cards; the real value for Mike lies in its connection to Deaf culture and as an inspiration that someone who is culturally Deaf can “make the grade.”

The card (which he says he will pass around) is from the minor league team of the New York Giants.  (The Giants later moved to San Francisco, but at the time they played on the Polo Grounds in New York.)  The farm team was from Buffalo.  It’s very difficult to find a card from playing with the Giants, but he does have the one from Buffalo.  Back to Video

Cochlear Implants

Mike begins by showing two different ways of signing “cochlear implants.”  He then goes on to talk about an article he saw that talked about cochlear implants causing spinal meningitis.  This was published in a national newspaper.  When cochlear implants first came on the scene, Mike had several reservations about their use.  One was that it was in the head, and from a health perspective, too close to the brain.  Additionally, although the surgery techniques may have improved, originally they removed the mastoid bone.  This is the hard bone right behind the ear, and provides significant protection to the inner ear.  With it removed, there is less protection while playing sports like basketball in which an elbow might accidentally strike the back of someone?s head.  Mike then clarifies that his intent is not to be negative about cochlear implants…that they work for some people while not working for others.  For the people for whom they are successful, it doesn’t mean they are able to function completely as a hearing person.  They might be better able to discriminate words, but there still might be some struggle in catching everything.  Mike knew one person who was a graduate of Gallaudet whose office was across from his in Pollard while Mike was working at MSD.  This person had become deaf at 14.  So for some people it can work and allow them to speak, and use the telephone.  For others, it is not so successful.  Mike knows of people who had the surgery, and then later, remove the implant apparatus.  Many people ask Mike if he had Deaf children, if he would have them implanted.  His immediate response is “no” because he wants his children to have a normal experience of being able to play sports and swim.  Being able to communicate with Deaf children right “off the bat,” he wouldn?t want to have the surgery when they are young.  When they grew up, it would be up to the children to decide.  As he was raising his own children, he taught them to swim by throwing them in the water, and is afraid he wouldn?t be able to do that if his child had the surgery.  So, while there are many pros and cons to cochear implants, Mike personally has some concerns.

Going back to the newspaper article, the suspicion is that some corrosion with the wire that is used in the implant might be the cause of the spinal meningitis…which is something you simply don?t want to have.  Mike has a good friend who became deaf at the age of 3 or so due to spinal meningitis.  He almost didn?t make it through the illness, but only became deaf.  Some people in the audience may know him…his name is Steve B.  Interestingly, Steve doesn?t have good balance underwater.  Spinal meningitis destroys the sense of balance, so he can?t swim straight underwater.  Mike ends by reiterating that spinal meningitis is something you don?t want to mess with if you can avoid it.  Back to Video

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