Sunday, June 26, 2011

Can't never could!

I remember being younger and my dad was trying to teach me to do something new. I would try to give up very easily and tell him I can't do it. He always told me can't never could. Which he basically explained to me you can't have that type of attitude and expect to accomplish anything new. Somewhere in my profile I explained that I love assistive technology. One of the reasons I love it so much is because it allows you to do things that some people don't think you can do. It is a welcoming challenge for anyone to tell me I can't do something. I will try to do everything possible to prove them wrong. So as a former police officer one of my goals during therapy from the very beginning was to be able to shoot again. Now I know you're thinking how can someone with no hand movement and very little arm movement be able to shoot again. Well, luckily I'm not the only person in a wheelchair that would like to be able to shoot again. So I found out at the Shepherd Center that a company made a sip and puff wheelchair mount for a shot gun or pistol. The name of the company is be adaptive equipment, LLC. At this point I was still unable to move either one of my arms and it helped me believe in several possibilities that I could accomplish. I was amazed by the people that helped create this.

I only got to check out a pamphlet about it the first time I was at Shepherd Center back in the summer of 2008. I was extremely busy during my inpatient stay at the hospital that I ran out of time to try it out. Once I got home there were several other things I needed than a sip and puff gun. I did some research about it and they came out with a new pistol mount. I was able to go back to the Shepherd Center back in October of 2010 for outpatient rehab. Once again, I mentioned shooting. So it finally came time for me to shoot again. I met with a recreational therapist in the gym one day. He had a target set up and brought in the mount. I can't explain how excited I was at this moment. I got everything set up and used a high-powered pellet rifle. At that time it didn't matter to me that it was just a pellet rifle. I was staring down the sights to a target again.I got to shoot several times and had a nice little pattern. It was an escape for a moment. I felt like I was back out on the range with all of my fellow officers. I still haven't had the opportunity to purchase one yet. I'm hoping I can in the future. I just wanted to show people exactly what it looked like and explain how it worked. I have talked about it in conversations before, and I'm sure people are wondering what the heck it looks like ha ha.

This is a picture of the BE adaptive equipment model HQ 100. There is a mounting plate that slides underneath the cushion of your wheelchair with the receiver tube coming up from the plate. If you look closely, you can see the places to make adjustments for any gun. I wanted to show everyone what it looked like without the weapon to get the general idea of what it looked like when you first set it up.
This is a close-up picture of the sip and puff straw. It is the blue straw going into his mouth. You simply give it a little suction and it makes the trigger mechanism pullback to fire the shot. It is like drinking through a straw, except with a little bit different reaction. You can also see the three adjustment knobs to adjust the speed of the motor that moves the weapon.
This is a close-up of the chin control. You can use your chin to move the weapon left to right. The HQ 100 has a small motor to help move the weapon back and forth. From my experience, it is much easier to slightly move the weapon than to try to to move your wheelchair to focus in on the target.
This picture shows you what it looks like with the gun mounted. He has also used his chin to move the weapon to his left. You can also adjust the weapon up and down.
This is a close up of the trigger mechanism. You can move it if you need to so it will fit any weapon.

I just added this picture to show the trigger mechanism in action. It just pulls back for a nice quick steady trigger pull.
This last picture is of the HQPM which is the pistol mount that you can add to the HQ100. It allows you to fit any size pistol into this mount.

The last picture of the HQPM is most ideal for me. I would love to shoot my Glock 40 duty weapon again. This device shows me that no matter what the obstacle you can find a way to overcome it. This is very ideal for anybody that loved to hunt before their accident. I am not a hunter but I still love shooting weapons. One of these days I will shoot again. Like I said before, I love the challenge whenever people tell me I can't do something. I challenge everyone to overcome whatever obstacle is standing in your way keeping you from doing what you want to do. I hope to write about many more assistive

* I used these pictures directly from the be adaptive website. Check out if you are thinking about purchasing this for yourself. The website also has videos that I could not upload to the blog. There are also other mounts for paraplegics with hand control. I just focused on the sip and puff model. There are several videos and they are very short. I recommend you check them out. The videos also show the flexibility of the mount by shooting several different weapons.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bluelight memories

If you have seen my pictures on my blog then it is obvious I was a police officer. I worked for the Oxford Police Department in Oxford, Mississippi. It is a college town, home to the University of Mississippi which is better known as Ole Miss. Ole Miss is especially known for the Grove which becomes tailgate central during football season. It is also a top party school in the country. Evidence of this can be seen on T-shirts that state we may not win every game but we never lose a party. So it is obvious being a police officer in a college town is going to involve dealing with a lot of alcohol-related problems. That is not the only issue that I had to deal with. Every day you go to work you were going to face something new.

I got to thinking about a particular night at the station. It was one of those really long nights when there were a million things going on and it finally slowed down.  Everybody was sitting around writing reports, and talking about what happened that night. I remember Officer Kimmons Gray telling me I should keep a journal throughout my career of stuff that happened to be able to remember it. He said after the years you will forget about a lot of stuff that you did. He is a great man. I really enjoyed working with him. So I wanted to give credit for the idea he gave me for my blog. I've decided to start writing about some things that I encountered while I was working. I'm going to try to fit them in between some of my other blogs.I really want people to enjoy these and also hope to show people that police officers have to do a little bit of everything.

I recently told this story so it is fresh on my mind. I was on patrol one night and got a call to go on an ambulance assist. We always went out with the ambulance to assist with finding the place and helping out in case they needed it. I believe it was called out over the radio as being an older gentleman that had fallen in the shower. I arrived at the address and turned my blue lights on. It was a neighborhood without any streetlights, and I wanted to make it easier for the ambulance to spot. As soon as I stepped into the driveway I was meet by this sweet older lady. She told me I could turn off my blue lights, because she didn't want to alarm the neighbors. I told her that an ambulance was on the way and I was making it easier for them to find her house. She said oh my word I didn't need an ambulance. She said I just told the girl I needed help. She said my husband is stuck in the bathtub. I've told him not to get a bath because he is too fat. So I went inside and helped the older gentleman out of the bathtub. The entire time she was scolding him and told me this had happened before. The man was really not overweight at all but she could not pick him up. It was very lighthearted and funny to hear her telling him that. You just have to picture this in your mind. I had him out of the tub whenever the ambulance showed up. I let them know what had happened. The lady then apologized to the EMTs that had arrived. She had already thanked me for showing up to help. It was always nice to help out people that were glad to see you. That wasn't always the case with the job.

I thought that was a funny little story to start out on with something I encountered on the job. There is a lot more to it than just writing tickets. We are actually there for people that need help for just about anything as you can see. Also you have to picture this sweet older lady in the story. I'll have some more of these stories, because it is true that over time you start to forget. I'm starting to forget about a lot of the stuff that happened, but you can relive some of my old adventures with me. It will help me remember for the future.

Monday, June 6, 2011

It's okay to be different!

What does the word different mean to you? The dictionary defines it as 1. Not alike in character or quality; differing; dissimilar:  2. Not identical; separate or distinct: 3. Various; several 4. Not ordinary; unusual. I truly believe by judging people that are different society likes to use the fourth option. Something that is different has to be unusual to them. It comes across very negative. I don't think that different is a bad word. I do believe that everyone is different, because otherwise life would be boring. The differences in people make everybody unique in their own way. I want this entry to focus on hatred that some people have towards some people because they view them as different. My main focus is going to be on the LGBT community. That stands for the lesbian gay bi transgender community.

I started watching Lady Gaga's performance at Madison Square Garden on HBO. She is seen as a very controversial woman. Everybody thinks she is very different. I really like her though. She is so unique and very intriguing to me. It doesn't hurt that I think she is hot too. Something really caught my attention before the performance started. She was playing in her hometown of New York City and behind-the-scenes it showed her crying. She stated that she always gets emotional before marquee shows and still remembers being seen as a loser in high school. She also said she still felt like that person at times. She was obviously very humble about how far she had made it. Also still very vividly remembering what she went through. Then she started getting ready for her performance and showed her strong side. She completely took control of the crowd. It just got me to thinking about the people that probably made fun of her. Can you imagine remembering treating someone that way and then seeing how successful they turned out? I realized that Lady Gaga has a very strong following from the gay community. She is very open about being bisexual. So this made me decide to look into bullying of people based on their sexual orientation. Some of the stuff that I found just made me sick at my stomach.

I know that everyone can go back and think about their memories of high school. This is a very critical point in everyone's life. Everyone knows that studies show that your brain is continuing to grow and gain a tremendous amount of knowledge. One of the other most important areas of growth during this time is your self confidence. You can almost just say your self-image. A lot of this is shaped by your peers. There's so much pressure to try to fit in that it is crazy. So it becomes very easy for you to just go along with other people making fun of somebody as long as it's not you. I know because I was the same way. Everybody knows that people that are LGBT are one of the biggest targets for this. The ugly truth is, it goes way beyond just making fun of people. I can remember sitting around in a group of people talking about hating someone so bad just because they were openly gay. I remember being this way myself at times. Just going along with the hatred with everyone else. I'm very ashamed to admit that but I would be lying if I said otherwise. Homophobia is a very serious problem. It's almost expected to be homophobic if you are a straight male. So as a straight male I feel very obligated to open up some eyes to this very big problem. If other strong guys (straight) step up to the plate and condemn some of this it could really make a difference. There is absolutely nothing wrong with standing up for somebody that is different.

Depression can have a very serious effect, especially on teenagers. Depression because of bullying can result in low self-esteem, anxiety, high rates of school absence and physical illness. While I was researching the subject I've learned a new term called bullycides. It refers to being bullied so much that it causes some teenagers to commit suicide. "Studies show that youth who were bullied are five times more likely to be depressed and to report suicidal thoughts. LGBT children and those who are perceived to be gay, lesbian or challenge traditional gender roles are among those most likely to be targeted by bullies", according to in the life website. Another study done by the GLSEN called from teasing to torment pointed out that students said the top three reasons for bullying were physical appearance, sexual orientation, and how masculine or feminine someone appeared according to their specific gender. So people are being tormented just for acting or looking different. They are not as masculine or feminine as they should be. I truly think that homophobia comes from fear of something people don't understand. It's the attitude of I can't understand it, so I will just hate it. When you think about this for a minute it makes absolutely no sense. This fear has also been fueled from society. People are afraid to stand up for what is right, because of the fear they might be categorized into the same group. They might be called fags or homo. Which are the very negative words that are used towards homosexuals. It's about time to look at some examples.

I highly recommend that you watch the videos I posted below. It is exactly the results of these negative attacks on individuals. The first video starts with parents talking about their son who committed suicide. For the last two months of his life he was constantly told to go home and shoot himself. They told him nobody would care anyways. He was a very skinny kid his whole life. Several of his peers told his parents about the constant torment he was put through after the tragic incident. He was called homo a lot for simply wearing pink shirts. His mother stated one of the shirts actually said that real men wear pink. On the day of the suicide he was once again told to go home and shoot itself. He then went home and actually shot himself. There is another story on the video of a young black boy that killed himself at age 11 because of the same anti-gay bullying. His mother tells a great story about him. It is very heartbreaking. After watching the videos, I decided to look up more incidents of anti-gay violence. I had heard of incidents of people being beaten to death because of their sexual orientation. I typed gay beaten to death on Google and the results were astounding. An 18-year-old openly gay man was beaten to death at a party by several different people. He actually thought that one of the guys was his friend. That same person ended up being involved in the beating. Some involved eventually admitted they were using anti-gay slurs while they were kicking and beating him. The group then took his body out into the street and left him for dead I saw another story of two teenagers that beat and robbed another openly gay man, who was 19 years old. They then tied him to a wooden post and left him for dead. He was found before he died but was placed on a ventilator in a coma. He died a few days later. I saw other stories of the exact same incident's happening not only in the United States but around the world. I could tell story after story of this happening. Every single one of them were very gruesome deaths. All of this just for being different.

It doesn't matter how you feel about LGBT this is very sad. There is really no excuse for this treatment toward anybody. The point that I'm trying to make is no matter what you believe about this subject you should realize there is a different approach that needs to happen. I'm not trying to get anyone to change their beliefs about anything. You may not agree with someone's personal decisions, but it gives nobody the right to verbally or physically abuse somebody. I'm trying to get you to see the tragic effect this is having on people. This abuse is affecting not only the individuals but it is a ripple effect. It is tearing families apart because of the harsh reaction of society. I have actually been nervous myself while writing this in fear of what people might think about me. Society has created that fear. I decided I am secure enough in my manhood that I could take the challenge. I also found in my research that there are other heterosexual males standing up against anti-gay bullying.

Ben Cohen is a world-class English rugby star and Hudson Taylor is a three-time college All-American wrestler. One is married with two children to his wife, and the other is engaged to his longtime girlfriend. Both started different organizations to try to end homophobia in sports. In a New York Times article recently it stated that the question that each one frequently gets is why are they involved in something that does not directly impact them. They stated, that is just the point. They said that their sexual orientation helps the message cross to broader audiences. I thought that was the best way to describe what I'm trying to do. Also recently in the news have been NBA players using gay slurs, and both were fined. One of the players was Kobe Bryant. The NBA has also helped with a new organization called think before you speak. Grant Hill and Jared Dudley of the Phoenix Suns made a public service announcement to stop gay slurs in sports. Just like many other discriminations it takes a lot of time to change people's ways. This has been a very big eye-opener to myself as well. One reason I'm writing this is because it is a big change that I need to work on in my life. I want people to look at the violence toward a certain group just for being different. I hope it makes you think before you speak.

A few extras that I didn't fit in to my writing.

*I wanted to try to fit in some lyrics from Lady Gaga's Born This Way. I'm not going to write out the whole song but take out some of the lyrics that fit this entry perfectly.

"There's nothing wrong with lovin who you are she said cause He made you perfect babe so hold your head up girl and you'll go far listen to me when I say. I'm beautiful in my way Cause God makes no mistakes I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way. Don't hide yourself in regret just love yourself and your set I'm on the right track, baby I was born this way.- Skip ahead- whether life's disabilities left you outcast, bullied or teased rejoice and love yourself today, cause baby you were born this way. No matter gay, straight or bi. Lesbian transgendered life I'm on the right track, baby I was born to survive."
(Actually didn't realize how perfectly this described what I talked about and the message it sends to those that are bullied)also notice the last line also has the word straight. She's talking to everybody here.

*I have to say my motivation for this was simply Lady Gaga.I got the idea simply from her talking about being bullied. But while I began to write this I also thought about a few friends from high school that I still talk to that are openly lesbian. It kind of made me wonder about the struggles they might have went through.I also thought about a friend of mine who constantly has his Facebook hacked into, and his status is always changed to I am gay. It has happened several times and seems to be getting a little old. It's also just not that funny to joke about.

*I also thought about the movie I now pronounce you Chuck and Larry while writing this. It is more of a lighthearted movie but does point out the same issue that I wrote about. I also like most of Adam Sandler's movies anyways.I also love the show Modern Family. The focus is on a family and the father's son is gay. The show is about the entire family, but does point out stuff that they deal with. It is also a comedy.

*GLSEN-stands for Gay lesbian straight education network

*One last note- I was having a conversation on Facebook and brought up the subject of anti-gay bullying as my next blog entry. One of the responses I got back was I hope this is not a rolling out of the closet event. Which basically proved my point as a heterosexual male to bring this topic to light. I'm just standing up for people in general, and denouncing violence. I'm man enough to do that. Just one of the few.