Sunday, February 26, 2006

Wish You Were Here

Back in 1995 I began chatting in the #autism group using Internet Relay Chat (mIRC). It was a great medium to discuss Jason with others all over the globe from the privacy of my room.
After a while I would spend time sharing information about coping. It was difficult and sometimes devastating for parents of newly diagnosed children. Considering that and I would sometimes find myself repeating myself, I began building a portal of national resources. It was generated by using a Visual FoxPro application that converted Excel data into HTML. The main page,, had a map of the US. The users would point and click a state and a page of Social Groups and Other Resources, Protection and Advocacy Organizations, Educational Resources, Developmental Disabilities Planning, Vocational Rehabilitation Centers, Insurance Departments and Parent Training Information would appear for each state. I maintained and added to this data for the site from 1996 through 2002. It was written up in Newsweek and won several awards.
In July of 2002 I worked with Walter Winfield, Ben Dorman, Jay Haroon and Ronita Wisniewski at the Autism Society of America to convert the data for their resources on-line. Currently it's called the Autism Source and although I don't maintain it anymore, I am very proud of how it came to be. What's left from is called the Chapel Hill Autism Links Underrated, formerly the Chapel Hill Autism Local Unit. Now the local unit is called the Autism Society of North Carolina: Orange & Chatham Chapter.
Early Intervention and Diagnosis is crucial in helping parents, siblings and those affected with acceptance, communication and coping with this lifelong disability.
There are a some surprizing things that Autistic people do. Ann Palmer is the mother of an amazing autistic man who will graduate from North Carolina State University in May of 2006. Her strength and determination to see her son through his many milestones in life is miraculous. She has published a book titled Realizing the College Dream with Autism or Asperger Syndrome: A Parent's Guide to Student Success. Ann sent me a link to a video about Jason McElwain. Jason is autistic and made quite an impression on his schoolmates and their parents. Visit the video titled "Autistic Basketball Player Creates Mayhem At Game". Jason also got to meet with the Commander and Chief. He is quite AWESOME!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Jewel of the Seas Winter 2006

View a WebSlideShow Instead of Reading
January 22nd, 2006

Jean and I were persuaded to go on a voyage upon a cruise ship by Betty, my Stepmom, Connnie, her sister, John, my father and Tom, her brother-in-law. The Jewel of the Seas is one of the many vessels owned and operated by Royal Caribbean International. We flew into Miami International Airport very early in the morning and by lunchtime we were ready to depart from Fort Lauderdale/Port Everglades. We had a several places to eat, two pools, several bars and a beautiful cabin with a balcony on "DECK NINE".
January 23rd, 2006
Key West, Florida - We took an excursion on the Conch Tour Train to see the architecture of this beautiful island. Points of interest are the "Southernmost Point",
Mary Immaculate, landscaping, wild chickens, The Shipwerck Historeum, The Key West Aquarium and The Sponge Man that was hitting on Jean. I did get to "Climb the Tower" so I could better understand "WRECK ASHORE!!!".
We judged the Belly Flop Contest, explored the ship, got intorduced to Captain Jim and the Lead Staff. Then we enjoyed a formal dinner with Dad & Betty and Tom & Connie. We laughed a lot when we returned to our room and found a TV watching visitor.

January 24th, 2006
Cozumel, Mexico - It was rainy and overcast and due to Hurricane Wilma the ship was tendering passengers to shore. Once we got onshore we met the local vendors and took an excursion that involved riding bikes along the ravaged coast to a beach where Jean snorkled for her first time. We were fed and we biked to a sink hole and learned about fresh water, mangrove trees, coral and the many caverns throughout the island. Tendered back, had excellent lunch & dinner, saw a show about Broadway and went dancing. When we returned we had a friend to hang out with.
January 25th, 2006
Costa Maya, Mexico - The weather was still overcast. This port had a dock to tie the ship to. The beaches went on for miles. Guess who we bumped into when we arrived. This coincidence of us crossing each others paths had occurred several times by now, really neat. Anyway, Dad & Betty and Tom & Connie went shopping while Jean and I boarded a bus that took us through the jungle bound for Uvero, which has a beach where you can swim with the dolphins, drink Tequila or just stay on the beach. They made drinks for us, we walked around a bit, played with a crab in a cup, a huge snail and an orange starfish. I swam around with goggles, tried to catch some sun rays, and really enjoyed the place.
The natives made sure they were noticed. When we returned to the port, we saw one of the sister ships. After dinner we enjoyed a Tribute to the Temptations, and then went dancing at the 70's Night. At bedtime this dude was holding my pillow.

January 26th, 2006
Georgetown, Grand Cayman Islands -We were excited about this excursion. This port was really busy and we were tendered in by on-board vessels. It was bright and sunny, many ships were tendering, and our ship had the newest and coolest. Our excursion was cancelled due to rough water (yea ryte), so we settled for a downgrade. I was upset at first, but we made the best of it because Jean was smiling so much and drinks were included.
Then we had another formal dinner to attend and Jean was all shimmerimng. She is so AWESOME!. We spent an hour in the hot tub and found a swimming buddy.

January 27th, 2006
Jewel of the Seas - Enroute back to Port Everglades the ship went around the west end of Cuba. It was very windy. Another ship was just behind. We spent much of the day in the Solarium pool. We went shopping and watched a towel folding class. The afternoon we got sun at the outdoor pool. Packed our bags, had dinner, went dancing until late and found a sting ray.
January 28th, 2006
Port Everglades - Spent much of today in the library waiting for our shuttle color to be called. We bounced Miami to Raleigh in about 3 hours. The end (Sigh)