Sunday, December 20, 2009

Disney discriminates against the deaf by removing CC from Up

I recently rented the movie Up off of Netflix. The following is my review of the movie, which I posted on the site:
Would have been nice if this movie was closed-captioned or had subtitles. But I guess the folks at Disney/Pixar are too cheap and don't give a crap about the deaf anymore. I found out they removed captioning from all rental versions of this movie, and that you need to BUY it if you want captioning. Yeah, right. Like that's going to happen now. As a deaf consumer, I am outraged. Shame on them!
Yes, you read that right. Disney really DID strip closed-captioning from the rental versions of this movie. So no matter where you rent it, and even if you get it from your local public library, then you're out of luck. If you are deaf, you're screwed. Why? Because you won't get to enjoy the movie just like everybody else who can hear gets to enjoy it.

And are they kidding me? The RETAIL version has captioning, but the rental does not? Do they honestly think that this is a clever little marketing ploy to get all the deaf and hard-of-hearing consumers out there to actually BUY this movie after being burned from the rental experience??

Come on!

I, for on, will NOT be buying this movie. I can't believe they willingly discriminated against the deaf consumer like this! It is so irritating and, yes, I am outraged.

Once again, the deaf are being treated like a minority.

They are literally FORCING us to buy a movie if we want to enjoy it.


You would think that, since this is a new movie, it would be closed-captioned. Or, at least, have English subtitles. Because by law, ALL new movies are supposed to be closed-captioned. Just as ALL new TV sets are required to offer closed-captioning. It's the law, people.

To learn that some powerhouse like Disney has the power to strip away closed-captioning, which the deaf consumers NEED in order to enjoy a movie, is unthinkable. No movie company or entity should have that ability. Not one.

It's unfair. It's wrong. And it discriminates against the deaf, plain and simple. Closed-captioning is NOT a bonus feature! Exactly what rock did they crawl out from??

Some would think that well, gee, they have open-captioning at theaters now. Why don't you just go to such a theater and see the movie without WAITING for the rental to come out?

FYI: The closest theater that offers this to the deaf and hard-of-hearing is in Salem. Sorry, but I'm not taking a 90-minute trip to Salem just to see a movie. I RELY on the rental industry to enjoy movies, because they are, supposedly, closed-captioned or have subtitles.

But now I guess that's not the case anymore. I have learned there are other "bare bones" movie versions out there in the rental market. Slumdog Millionaire is one, a movie I have YET to see and was actually looking forward to seeing. Guess I'll have to cross that one off of my list of movies to see. (Hm, would be nice if someone puts together a list of all the movies that have been stripped of closed-captioning in the rental versions. So sad and very disappointing that we'll even HAVE such a list put together. The whole thing reeks of discrimination against the deaf!)

Here are some other disgruntled rental customers:

Disney Removes Closed Captioning from "Up" Rental Release

"Up"? More like down...

Disney, you really screwed up with this. You really pulled out the discrimination card this time. I had looked forward to seeing the movie Up and in the end I was let down. I was really disappointed that this deaf consumer could not enjoy it like a hearing person can. Thumbs down, Disney. Thumbs down.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Almost Christmas

Things have been pretty crazy lately. Between me working on finishing one book while preparing for another scheduled for publication next month, coping with having a sick baby and taking care of all the holiday madness associated with this time of year, it's hard to find time for much else. Least of all among them being sleep.

I am just glad that I am finally over being sick. For a while there, hubby, Jennifer and I were all sick with a cold, which we caught from the baby.

The baby, unfortunately, has not gotten over being sick. He went from having a cold to coming down with an ear infection. His cold lasted a long time. In fact, he's been sick since Thanksgiving. I took him to the doctor for the third time yesterday (despite everybody saying I'm overreacting) and the nurse was concerned because he's lost a little weight. (He hasn't been eating as much since becoming sick.) The worst of it is his fevers. His temp has gone as high as 104 twice in one day. Last night, he woke up at 1 a.m. and his skin was boiling hot to the touch. Hubby spent some time sitting outside with him, trying to cool him off. I've also given him cool baths to bring down his temperature. Jennifer has been distressed over her baby brother being sick for so long. Last night, she broke down crying because she thought he was going to die. I assured her it was not that terrible. He just needed extra time to get better.

Because of the baby being so sick for so long, our travel plans for Christmas are on hold. We might not go to California as planned. I, for one, certainly don't want us to travel if the baby is still sick. (I have to take him back to the doctor if he's not better by Monday.) I love my family, but I have to put my children first. Family members are welcome to come out here to Oregon and visit with us, if they want to be with us for Christmas. But us traveling with a sick baby? No, I forbid it.

We have not really gotten the house ready for Christmas. In fact, we don't have a tree yet. As mentioned, we have all been sick lately, so we're getting a VERY late start in Christmas-izing the house. And, anyway, I didn't think we should decorate if we were going to go to California. Now that we probably won't, we might as well get some Christmas stuff out. That means getting a tree up this weekend. Yay!

I have managed to do just about all of my Christmas shopping so far. Millie and Allison were here for Thanksgiving, and we went Christmas shopping on Black Friday. I had also taken advantage of free shipping from and bought gifts through there, too. But there was one gift I bought that I was not sure of giving to a particular someone: My brother-in-law, Donnie. I bought him a gift since hubby HARDLY buys his family gifts (what's up with that, anyway??), but not sure if he'd like it. I finally decided he'll probably think it's a stupid gift and figured that Jennifer could give it to her teacher instead.

Turns out, we needed TWO teacher gifts!

The helper teacher was teaching the class for the early part of the semester because Jennifer's regular teacher was out on maternity leave. I didn't expect her to come back until after winter break, but I found out last night, AFTER Jen was asleep, that she'll be back today! And we didn't have a gift for her! Yikes!

I started scouring the house, looking for extra gifts or...something "giftworthy" that hadn't been opened yet. Why, oh why, did I open that package of peanut brittle yesterday?? Oh, I know. It's because I was craving some peanut brittle! But that made me think that maybe candy is not a good gift idea. What if she was a diabetic? On a special diet? She just had a baby -- maybe she was trying to watch her weight. So, no. Candy was NOT a good gift idea.

Hm...candles? The only unopened candles I had was a bag of tealight candles. I thought that was dumb. Sure, we could always use them, but I thought it was silly to hand someone a gift and say, "Merry Christmas! Here's a bag of a bazillion tealight candles!"

Then a thought struck me. I DID have something giftworthy to give away: A copy of one of my books. Why not? It's not like I'm grabbing something from my own personal library of books (though I'll admit I DID scan my own collection of books to find something, but wasn't sure what she liked to read).

I started to think. Which one? Which one? Poetry? Writing? My novel?? Hmmm. What if she doesn't like poetry? What if the novel was a genre she didn't enjoy reading? What if she didn't write?? (Well, maybe she DOES write. Or will write someday.)

As I started to decide on which of my books to give to her, I started to question if I was being vain in giving away a book I have written. Was this a shameless method of self-promotion? Was I being so prideful that I'd expect someone to really want a book I have written?

Sure, people like receiving autographed copies of books (and I did sign it for her), but I had to wonder how the whole thing would look. Was this a bad idea?

Well, it was my ONLY idea for an emergency gift. Hey, being an author is the gift that keeps on giving!

I also wondered if Jennifer would be upset at my choice. This was HER teacher and HER moment of giving her teacher a Christmas gift. Me stepping into that with MY book might hurt her feelings.

That's what I thought until I told her about my selection this morning. And, actually, she got excited that her mom was giving her teacher a signed copy of her book. She even gave me a high-five. (She's often proudly informed people at her school that I write books and I have even done readings there. In fact, there's talk of another reading to do when my next poetry book comes out!) I was relieved she was okay with this choice. "I only hope she likes poetry," I said. Jennifer nodded her head and said, "Me, too."

Now if only I can get those Christmas cards mailed. And help the baby get better in time for Christmas. Or almost better.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The last basketball game

Today was Jen's last basketball game. She was sad to see her stint playing basketball come to an end and I reminded her of the good times she had playing. She met new friends, there were great moments of laughter and hugs, and she learned new things about the game. She also grew just a little bit more in her athletic abilities. I am glad I had her take the basketball clinic last year, because it prepared her for the Real Thing this year.

Today's game was really something. Somehow, it just lasted longer than it really did. A couple of girls got hurt and I was touched to see Jen run out to check with her teammate after she was injured in the game.

The opponents were very aggressive. So much so that there was constant struggling for control of the ball. The coaches had to intervene when things got out of hand. I just had to chuckle with amusement at watching those girls play so aggressively. Pig tails and make-up just aren't the makings of these girls on THIS basketball court! They shed their girly images and took on the roles of tough, determined players giving their all to score one for the team! They weren't girls, they were GRRRLS!

Still, I was concerned about just how tough they played. I believe that contributed to why some girls got injured. It was heartbreaking to watch girls crying after they got hurt. I guess there is crying in basketball, after all. At one point, Jennifer fell and I started to feel distress when she didn't get up. The assistant coach picked her up and carried her to the bench. She hurt her knee (a nasty bruise showed up on there later) but was able to get back into the game later. I was even more distressed when one girl on the opposing team tore the ball away from Jennifer so hard, her arms went flying and she fell to the floor. I was concerned she was hurt after that, moreso after she kept clutching at her arm as she continued to play. I wanted the coach to pull her out in case her arms were hurt but she seemed to play all right so I let it go. When she came to the bench, I asked her about her arms and she said they did hurt a little but she was more angry at the girl for taking the ball away from her like that.

Aside from the toughness and aggressiveness, I was taken aback at the camaraderie that still existed among opposing teams. When a girl on the opposing team fell, a girl on Jen's team helped her up. And even though they went crazy trying to block each other from trying to catch the ball, they still smiled at each other and there was that look on their face which somehow reinforced the message that it was only a game and the main objective was to have fun.

There were cheers as baskets were made, high-fives and hugs. There were teammates offering pointers and coaches always at a player's side anytime something went wrong. And a parent was at a player's side, too. One girl started to have an episode and refused to leave the bench. Her mother had to come over and talk to her. When one girl on the opposing team complained of stomach pain, her coach benched her and sent in a replacement. I was relieved none of them were told to tough out anything.

What I couldn't get over was just how excited the girls were to play the game. They were ready and willing to play basketball! All of that running back and forth on the court and they never tuckered out. They were game for the game!

I also had to reflect on what a great job the coach did in coaching these girls for this season. The coach only had experience coaching boys, not girls, and I think he did an amazing job coaching a girls' basketball team. Yay, Coach McCarthy!

It was sad to see all of this come to an end. The practices and the games. I had a great time associating with the parents and Jen enjoyed hanging out with her new friends. There were girls from different schools, different cities, so it's not like she'll get to see that many of them too often after today. We're both sad about this because she really likes her teammates (and that's a good thing, because I've stressed to her many times the importance of getting along with your teammates), but we are both grateful that we got to meet them and know them, even in this short time.

After the game, we parents took pics of the team. I look forward to printing out all the pics I took and putting them into an album. The season was short but it was definitely memorable. We're all the more excited for what new memories and friendships next season will bring!

Friday, December 11, 2009

If you give, you get

Today, I received payment for an article I wrote for SIGNews. I showed the check to my hubby and I was tempted to rub it in his face that I am NOT wasting my time pursuing being paid to write and that I AM being paid good money for my writing.

I had plans to veg out at home today because I have caught the baby's cold and didn't feel up to driving. One thing I hate more than driving while sick is driving while sick in freezing cold weather. (It was, like, 15 degrees today.) We were also expected to get rain -- the icy variety. With my cold, I felt lousy and not up to driving. But I decided I should take care of this check today. We might need the money over the weekend (if some unforeseeable emergency came up) and, besides, I didn't want a check lying around the house all weekend. It might get lost or damaged, or something. So, despite being sick, I decided I'd take care of this check today.

I also decided to use some of the money to get us all Chinese food for lunch.

This is where hubby got upset. He thought my decision to buy Chinese food for lunch with SOME of the money from the check meant that I was going to go out and blow it all.

Uh....NO. I was JUST thinking of treating the family to something we don't normally get to enjoy. I wanted to do something nice for the family. And it's not like it would take a HUGE chunk of money from what I earned.

I also made it clear that I AM going to save the money. I'm trying to get a Web site put together and I'll need some money for that. So I definitely HAVE to save this money, anyway.

Well, I got a little steamed with him about that. He finally just said, "It's your money, do what you want."

While I was out getting the check cashed and buying Jen a pair of gloves (with my EXTRA money set aside, not from the check), I started to think, gee, maybe he's right. I shouldn't get us a nice lunch. Let's all just eat Ramen Noodles for lunch instead.

But then I decided, NO! I am NOT going to let him make me feel guilty because I wanted to do something nice for the family!

I got the lunch, anyway. I didn't care if he stewed over it.

And you know what? It turned out to be a good thing I got the lunch. Because we were offered a chance to receive a free meal on our next visit.

Now, see. That just goes to show. If you give, you get. I'm all for saving money and managing money. But I also know, and have seen firsthand, money being spent means money being earned. When you spend money, you will earn money. I don't understand how this works, exactly, but I HAVE seen it in action. And sometimes it's not money that comes back. Sometimes, it's something else: Help from a friend, a break from work, a gift, etc.

It's like a cycle of giving and getting. It was not so terrible that I bought lunch today, because we earned a free lunch in return. That's a great value, since we don't get to eat there a lot. And it makes me feel grateful that I listened to my instincts and decided to get lunch, anyway. See? Something good came out of it.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Two signs in one day

Something very interesting happened today. I ended up getting two answers to two things I've been thinking about! Very cool!

The first thing I was thinking about was a little talk I had with hubby yesterday. I'd related to him that I'm unhappy about a few things and he wanted to know what those few things were. One of the things that's been bothering me is how I'm not as successful with freelance writing as I would like to be. I wish I could break into those glossies, but after over a decade of working as a writer, it just hasn't happened. And I'm beginning to wonder if it will ever happen at all. (I've gotten a few rejections from the glossies, as well as zero responses from others.) And I'm tired of working for peanuts, which is what I label what I'm paid for one particular writing gig I have. It's just unfair. I put so much into it and get so little in return.

That got hubby started on how he, too, was frustrated with my ongoing attempts to get...SOMEWHERE with the freelance writing, and not making as much progress (read: money) at all. One of the things he said was, "I don't know why you write."

I'll admit, I started getting a little defensive at that point. I wanted to stress to him I was talking bout my failures as a freelance writer, not as a writer. With the books, I have no complaint. The books are where my heart is with the writing. And I do THAT because I want to.

Later, I was stewing over that little comment of his. I was angrily stomping around the house, wanting to scream, "What do you want me to do all day? Watch TV??" But, I kept my anger under control. He's not a writer, I told myself. He doesn't get it what it means to be a writer. He doesn't understand that drive to write, that NEED to write, the neverending impulse to create something with words.

Honestly, I tried to evaluate what I would be like if I was not a writer. If I didn't write the words and ideas which burned in my soul. But I really could not picture my life without any writing. I write's what I want to do. And maybe I was beginning to lose sight of that. I don't know, maybe I was losing sight of WHY I write: I'm a dreamer who dreams. I'm a storyteller. An entertainer. A creator of worlds, weaver of words. It's just who I am.

But I still wondered...could I ever give up writing? Would I ever give up that part of me and be the wife that hubby wants instead? The kind of wife with no hobbies, interests or dreams?

It was pretty hard to fathom.

At one point in my day, as I was cleaning the living room, I came across something on the floor. A tiny black thing. I knelt down to turn it over and it had the word "dream" on it. It was a magnet from the poetry magnet set I have in my closet.

Yes. In my CLOSET! I have those magnets in a box in my closet! Save a few, that I have on one of Jen's pictures. But how in the world did THAT end up there?? Jen hadn't gotten into that box and neither had the baby. And I didn't have it on any of my pictures, even in that room.

So, outside of the VERY slim possibility that one of the kids dropped it, I took this as a sign. It was a message to me. A message to always dream. Dare to dream! Never stop dreaming!

I smiled, comforted by this message. It was like receiving permission to continue with my writing. To dream up new stories and write about them. I won't let what others say stop me, or even my inability to be a "famous" writer or the kind of writer who earns a $1,000 check for an article stop me from dreaming my dreams. I have and always will be a dreamer. And I will continue to dream, with words. to the second sign I received today. This one is not so glamorous. But still interesting.

I recently bought Jesse a Star Trek onesie as a Christmas gift. At first, I thought I'd buy 2, because I couldn't decide on the color: Red for Engineering (Mr. Scott) or Blue for Science (Mr. Spock). I eventually decided to buy him the Engineering onesie. It just seemed to fit him best. Later, though, I thought, should I have bought an extra? In case one is ruined? After all, a baby that makes messes will be wearing it! And it is a one-of-a-kind onesie.

So I decided, yes! I'll get him another one! Just in case.

But which color? The gold one, for Command? Or blue? Or another red? Hm, decisions, decisions.

I got my answer, though, when I gave up thinking about this and instead focused my attention on the baby. I smiled at him and signed, "I love you."

Believe it or not, he signed back the Vulcan sign! I kid you not! I had to look good and hard at that little hand making that sign, because I couldn't believe my eyes!! WOW!

He has tried to imitate the "I love you" sign for some time. He hasn't been very successful, though he has gotten close. I think it's so neat he made the Vulcan sign, but also that it's a sign for something else. A sign to definitely get him the blue Star Trek onesie.

I laughed as I nodded back at him and said, "Live long and prosper."

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

World AIDS Day

This morning, I discovered that today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day.

I have never known anyone who is HIV-positive or diagnosed with AIDS. However, I have been aware of the many myths spread about how you can catch AIDS.

As a teenager, I once had a boyfriend who was a few years older than me. My father was aware that this young man had "been around the block" with many girls. He warned me against kissing him, saying that the AIDS virus travels through saliva.

This is just one myth about people who have HIV or develop AIDS. You can't catch AIDS from kissing someone who has it.

Another myth I was exposed to was how swimming in the same pool as someone with AIDS was risky, because you could catch it while in the pool. (There was even a big fuss over this at a public pool.)

Yet another myth was that only homosexuals could catch AIDS. One friend of mine even commented how her boyfriend couldn't possibly have AIDS because he wasn't gay. Wrong!

Both homosexual and heterosexual people can catch AIDS. Even bisexual people can get it. AIDS does not pick and choose among race, religion, age or sexual preference.

Sadly, I once read this article about a woman in Africa who was HIV-positive and she received heavy prenatal care and assistance to help her deliver a fully healthy baby that was HIV-negative. Unfortunately, because of tradition, her family forced her to breastfeed her baby, despite doctors warning her not to do this because the virus can travel through her breast milk. She eventually gave in to their pressure to breastfeed. Sadly, her baby developed AIDS and died. (I was not only saddened by this but also infuriated. A human life is MORE important than some stupid tradition!)

Some other myths about AIDS I have heard of are:

--You can only catch AIDS from a hypodermic needle.

--Someone who is HIV-positive is the same as someone who has AIDS.

--Someone diagnosed with AIDS will definitely die from it. (A lot of progress in medicine has helped many people diagnosed with AIDS lead long and healthy lives.)

I am glad there is a World AIDS Day. It needs to be talked about and researched more openly to avoid the spread of all the myths about it.