Saturday, May 31, 2014

No pieces missing …

I’ve hit a writer’s block … or, as a friend of mine calls it …a brain fart ! So I’m simply going to wish everyone a Happy June 1st.

I am also going to include a picture of the completed 1500 piece jigsaw puzzle that my granddaughter, her fiancé and I worked on while I was in Tampa recently. They didn’t have a table large enough to hold it so we made do with a huge cardboard carton covered with a sheet and the pieces were spread out over the couch and in boxes and on the cocktail table. It was a challenge to say the least.

I was sure they would just abandon the project when I left but no, they finished it and here it is:

It’s a small miracle that no pieces are missing !  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It’s ALIVE ! No, it’s a Robot …

… a little floor vacuum called Roomba.

I was introduced to this little robot on my recent visit to my Granddaughters in Tampa. They have a large living room with a good amount of wood flooring and, with two dogs and two cats, it was hard to keep a clean house with all the animal hair that they shed. Now it’s a cinch. They just activate this little guy and he goes to work.

I was amazed to see how successfully it worked, both on bare floors and on rugs. But it sure felt to me like it was alive since it seemed to find me wherever I sat and my granddaughter’s fiancé said the same thing. He has a hobby restoring motorcycles and often does the small stuff in the living room so I guess it was no surprise that Roomba would gravitate toward his “mess”.

I wondered why I would be attacked however since the biggest “mess” I made was working on a huge (1500 piece) jigsaw puzzle. 

But, guess what ? That sneaky little Roomba actually picked up one of the puzzle pieces and, luckily, my granddaughter thought to check the contents !

So, even though it’s a bit out of my price range, I can highly recommend this little robot. Just don’t take it personally when he tries to push you out of the way.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

To Tampa and back in one week…


I had a fun get-away last week. I ran down, or actually I took a train down, to visit my granddaughter in Tampa, Florida. That’s the two of us at the Zoo.

I was contemplating driving and wondering if I was up to it when a friend suggested the train. I decided to look into it and was amazed at the convenience and the low cost. Amtrak leaves out of Southern Pines, North Carolina (the next town to Vass, where I live) and goes right to Tampa …a long ride but a delight at just $58 each way …much lower than the price of gas and a motel on the way down !

Amelia has been taking a year off after getting her 4 yr. degree at NC State but will be going back for more schooling in August where she’s been accepted at the University of Southern Florida.

She and her fiancé are getting to know the territory and have a lovely home in Tampa, along with 2 dogs and 2 cats !  It was a very relaxing week and I offered her top money to come back up and be my live-in cook but she opted out of that. I just may have to go back sooner than I’d planned … I was spoiled rotten.

Here’s a better picture of my granddaughter and the “hunter” who tracked her down and put a ring on her finger.



Monday, May 19, 2014

My “boss” … Question #3

 Question #3 …Justin, we live in an extremely competitive society. Is Unlimiters able to compete and what do you foresee in the future ?

"Two of the most common responses we receive when telling others about UNlimiters are, “You mean that doesn’t exist already?” or ”Why didn’t I think of that?” It’s such a simple and necessary concept that it even surprises me at times. I believe there are three main factors which make UNlimiters very competitive; the way we are developing the site, the vision for the company, and the name.

First, we are building UNlimiters in a way we believe will make it a “ten year overnight success.” Meaning, we think it will grow slowly in order to make sure we get it right, and then as soon as we hit our critical mass, we will start growing rapidly. UNlimiters is both a social community and a product marketplace.

For the social aspect, we currently have four dedicated bloggers representing a variety of disabilities, Melissa McPherson with cerebral palsy, Peggy Chenoweth is a below-knee amputee, Tiffiny Carlson is quadriplegic, and Ginnie, of course, all of whom represent the disability community by talking about what helps them unlimit their lives in a very personal way. We also have a section called “Shout” on the website where any shopper can recommend ideas or products they have found useful in their life, so we can then offer it in the store.

For the marketplace, there are three different type of products we sell; the more standard medical/adaptive products, specialized unique products that we display in the “Showcase” area, and everyday products repurposed in a way others with disabilities have found useful. We are creating a social marketplace created by people with disabilities for people with disabilities.

Second, growing up, I always struggled in finding products for myself to help me perform a specific task. When I did, it was like opening a present on Christmas, I loved gaining a little bit more independence. A lot of the time, I just had to adapt an existing product to fit my need. When I was young, I could only put on sweatpants by myself until my parents tried putting elastic in the waistband of a pair of jeans, thereby transforming a pair of jeans into more accessible and attractive clothing. I was the only kid who wore sweatpants to school and in a snap I didn’t feel like an outcast anymore thanks to a simple, but ingenious, idea. My vision for UNlimiters is to become a community where anyone can find products that are proven to make life a little bit easier.

Finally, to me the name “UNlimiters” says it all. I hate when others tell me I’m limited in what I can and can’t do. I strongly believe UNlimiters has a real chance to change people’s perception about living with a disability. We may need extra help, but in no way does it define who we are. Another great thing about the name is the upbeat message it communicates. There is no judgment or categorization, and you can visit the site without any negative associations. Anyone can unlimited themselves in some way, you do not need to have a disability to make your everyday tasks easier.

The hardest part of UNlimiters was (and is) actually limiting the scope of it. Starting out, everyone had their own idea of what it should be. There are so many ways we can grow in the future, and the potential is endless. Ultimately, it will be shaped by the community itself, a social marketplace by people with disabilities for people with disabilities, and the feedback we have gotten so far has been phenomenal."

Thanks “Boss” …I’m honored to be part of the team. Ginnie




Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My “boss” … Question #2

Question # 2...Justin, your website Unlimiters is amazing. How did you get it from a thought to a reality?
"I was able to really start thinking seriously about making UNlimiters a reality when I was accepted into the #1 ranked entrepreneurship program in the nation, the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship (WCE), at the University of Houston. The great part of the program was that it focused on helping students develop their business ideas so it was tailored to each of us, individually.

Right away, my mentor wanted to introduce me to people she thought could help develop my idea further. The first two people she introduced me to, Dick Lew and Christine Stevens, specialize in building brands. They revamped my logo and aided me in flushing out the idea. Later on, Jackie Townsend, a special education director, joined in for monthly brainstorming sessions. They all really supported me and got behind UNlimiters, and were a tremendous help in setting the groundwork for the company.

My mentor then introduced me to Eunsook Kwon, the director of the Industrial Design (ID) program at the University of Houston. After about three meetings, she decided to insert an UNlimiters project into the curriculum for one of her classes during my last semester at the WCE. The project involved a group of students following me around with video cameras, studying and observing me, and ultimately resulted in each student designing a product to make my life and everyday tasks easier.

Right after my mentor and I met with the director of the ID program for the first time, I was asked by the business plan team in my class if they could use my UNlimiters idea to develop a true business plan for use in national business plan competitions. Thereafter I joined the business plan team where all five of us, TattianaReznick, Randy Hannemann, Louis McEneny, Adam Trojanowski and I, wrote the UNlimiters business plan together.

In conjunction with the “paparazzi” following me around for the ID project throughout the last semester, the business plan team and I traveled around the US presenting the UNlimiters plan at various colleges. We went to four different competitions; Dallas, Nebraska and two in California. We won 1st place in Dallas and Nebraska, tied for 2nd in California, and were included in the top ten in California, winning $44,000 in total.

When I graduated from the WCE, I still had a semester left to get my diploma and the business was placed on hold. Immediately after officially graduating, my father and I began designing the UNlimiters website and started the business as you see it today. It was a crazy ride to go from an idea to a reality, and we still have an incredibly long way to go.

I am extremely grateful for everyone who helped along the way and for all those who are helping now, including amazing bloggers like you. It is truly a team effort.'

…to be continued.


Friday, May 09, 2014

My enterprising “boss” …

As most of you faithful readers know I am writing a weekly blog for the amazing website UNlimiters and my only qualification for doing so is the fact that I am an octogenarian !! Who would imagine that, at my age, I would have a “boss” in his twenties? His name is Justin and I thought you might be interested in his story so I sent him three questions and these are his answers:

Question #1 …Justin, you were born with cerebral palsy but you have such an optimistic outlook on life. To what do you attribute this and were you always upbeat?

"I have been positive and upbeat for as long as I can remember. I attribute this to three things.
I have great parents. They never put any limitations on me and I could always do anything my siblings did (even if it required one of them carrying me while doing it). From an early age. my parents instilled in me the saying, “You can do anything you set your mind to.” The first time I remember truly enacting on the saying was walking 100 subsequent steps by myself. I would ask anyone I knew at the time to count my steps for me. 5, 10, 20, 50 and finally at the age of 10, I managed to achieve my goal of 100 steps. I am always setting different goals for myself and giving up is never an option.

Being able to laugh at myself. I am a big believer in laughter being the best medicine. If you laugh at yourself, it is hard to not be happy all of the time. This is especially useful when you have a disability; it can make others comfortable and it makes life extra fun. Throughout my life, I have learned the fastest way to make people feel comfortable with your disability is to poke fun at it. Plus, having a disability provides more material to laugh at, if you let yourself. Life is fun!

Why not? Life is too short to not be upbeat and live with a positive attitude. In his old age, my grandfather started to worry about his disability - old age. I would always tell him, “You are who you are.” He enjoyed it every time I gave him my “UNlimiters pep talk.”

The way I see it, you can either be positive or be negative, and I choose to be positive. Live life to the fullest!"

…to be continued.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Still breathing ...

Some of you may remember when I fractured my hip two years ago. Part of my post-surgery procedure was using the item that you see here. It is an incentive spirometer and is used to help open the airways and prevent fluid or mucus from building up in your lungs.

I had completely forgotten that I had this until I came across it while doing a thorough cleaning of my bathroom closet a few weeks back. When I saw it I decided to test myself. I put my lips around the flexible tube and took a long, slow deep breath in. As I did so the piston inside the large column moved up registering my lung capacity. I was surprised to see that I didn’t get it up very far.

I could barely get it to the 1000 mark and that was less than what I could do while still in the hospital. This really annoyed me but it scared me too. I realized that I did not have the lung capacity that I thought I did. It was a wake up call for me to take some action.

I decided to put the spirometer in the one place where I couldn’t help but see it … on my desk, next to my computer ! … and I’ve challenged myself to use it as often as I can every day. There is a little arrow attached to the big tube and I can set it to the number that I’ve reached. This is my reminder of how high I have been able to raise the piston with my breaths and I strive each time to get it a little higher.

I’m happy to report that I can see real progress in the two weeks that I’ve been using this and I plan to keep on doing it. (I’m up to the 1500 mark …yeah !)


Thursday, May 01, 2014

Update …Lisa in China

Isn‘t this an adorable picture? The children look like twins but are actually not even related. Their parents are teachers in the same school where Lisa and her husband Glen teach in the city of Pinghu, China.

They have been in China for over 6 months now and must really enjoy it since they will be returning for another year after a well deserved vacation back to the States this summer. I can’t wait to see Lisa then !

She sent me two more pictures and I am pleased to share them with you. The first is of the school campus … a lovely shot taken from their apartment window in late afternoon, showing the canal and the weeping willows.

And here is one of their favorite places in Pinghu …one of the older neighborhoods that they hope will not be demolished like so many others in China, being replaced by high rise apartment buildings. Lisa writes about this area … “I really feel like I am stepping back in time with I walk through the narrow alleyways of this area.”