Archive for June, 2010

Recipe of the Week

Submitted by Ziegler Reader Dave Hutchins

Spicy Barbecued Chicken

Dave’s note: 100% would make again. This zesty chicken is great served with basil-buttered grilled corn on the cob and fresh coleslaw. This recipe is quick. 

8 Servings

Prep/Total Time: 30 min.

Ingredients

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup chili sauce

3 tablespoons Splenda brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning blend, divided

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided

2 teaspoons ground mustard

2 teaspoons chili powder

8 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (4 ounces each) 

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, saute garlic in oil for 1 minute. 

2. Add the chili sauce, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon seasoning blend and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from the heat; set aside. 3. Combine the mustard, chili powder and remaining seasoning blend and cayenne; rub over chicken. Using long-handled tongs, dip a paper towel in cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. 

4. Prepare grill for indirect heat, using a drip pan. Place chicken over drip pan and grill, covered, over indirect medium-hot heat for 3 minutes. Turn and baste with chili sauce mixture. Grill 6-8 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 170°, basting occasionally. Yield: 8 servings. 

Nutrition Facts: 1 chicken breast half equals 179 calories, 5 g fat (1 g saturated fat),63 mg cholesterol, 293 mg sodium, 10 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 23 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 very lean meat, 1/2 starch, 1/2 fat.

It’s Alive!

The reanimation of dead tissue has always been somewhat of a science fiction dream.  Stories like Frankenstein wouldn’t exist without it.  However, thanks to the Pentagon’s experimental science arm, DARPA, it may not be science fiction any more.

A biochemist named Mark Roth has discovered that if you cut off the oxygen supply to certain creatures in just the right way, they don’t die, and instead fall into a state of suspended animation.  He compares the whole process to a bear’s hibernation, though that does simplify it a little much.

He says that the great advantage to this, which is also the reason that the defense department is so interested in his research, is that if you can induce this hibernation correctly, there is no breathing and there is no heartbeat, but without either of those, wounds don’t bleed.  Thus, injuries that would’ve otherwise been fatal are now very survivable and the brain shuts down, but there is no damage done at all.  “If you were shot,” Roth says, “This is exactly what you would want.”  The key to inducing the hibernation lies in hydrogen sulfide, a substance that binds to cell mitochondria and blocks oxygen from being used by the body.

His research has been carried out on nematodes, which are incidentally very good subjects to start with when trying to discover how certain procedures may affect humans. 

Cleary the defense department is interested because of the possibility to reduce fatalities in the battlefield.  However, Roth states that this research could eventually lead to a greater understanding of this method, and thus a greater control.  Someday, procedures like his may be used to slow diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

Perhaps science fiction will become science fact sooner than we thought.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2007/12/zombie-mouse-ma/

Gates-funded Nuclear Power

Bill Gates was in the news a lot this week, and for a good reason.  Not only is he playing a key role in the previously mentioned Giving Pledge, but he is also busy funding other projects as well.  Most notably, a company called TerraPower, who have developed a new type of nuclear reactor that may just revolutionize the controversial power source.

TerraPower have developed a new reactor that is roughly the same size as a hot tub.  Gates has injected another 35 million dollars into the project.  The reactor is a travel-wave reactor, different from the more common light-water reactors.  The big difference between the two is that the light-water reactors need to use enriched uranium to create electricity, while TerraPower’s travel-wave reactor uses the depleted uranium that is a bi-product their light-water counterpart.  This depleted uranium needs to be replaced only every 60 to 100 years, as well, making it extremely efficient.  Based on known uranium reserves, these TerraPower reactors could conceivably power the entire world for thousands of years without need to refuel or beginning to utilize chemically synthesized uranium.

While their demo reactor is up and running, current models only produce 500 megawatts of power.  TerraPower’s goal is to create a gigawatt reactor that would be able to power an entire city on its own.

While the implementation of this reactor is probably years away, it’s good to see that companies are constantly working on solving our ever-growing energy problems and finding less harmful ways to do it.  It’s also good to know that they have plenty of funds to back up their research as well.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.fastcompany.com/node/1660316/print

Target Number: 600 Billion

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, both incredibly successful businessmen, have joined forces and are asking the elite community of billionaires to help them accomplish a lofty goal.  They want their peers to donate half of their riches to charity.  Called the Giving Pledge, they want their fellow billionaires to publically commit to give half of their riches to charitable causes during their lifetime, or at the time of their death. 

Their goal is to create an expectation, that the wealthy have a responsibility to give back to society.  Moreover, they want to create a panel of philanthropic advisors, who will aid those who are unsure about where their money would be used best.

The recession has hit everyone hard, and philanthropic giving dropped nearly 15 billion dollars in the last year as a result.  That money, which still exists in the hands of some of the nation’s wealthiest people, could fund projects that could create a seriously large positive impact on society.  For that reason, Gates and Buffett have set a goal: 600 billion dollars a year in charitable giving, and they hope that their peers will be a big part of that.

What is perhaps the most encouraging, though, is that they are asking their fellow titans of industry to pay attention to how people with less money give and use their stories and experiences to discover a way to amplify the amount of funds that obscure charitable causes may not have otherwise received.

It’s a well-known fact that both Gates and Buffett have committed the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.  To publically encourage others to do the same really shows that they want to make a difference.

To read the original article, please go to http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704198004575310992555489872.html?mod=wsj_india_main

A World Cup That’s Accessible to All

Cooperating together, the Swiss National Association for the Blind and the South African National Council for the Blind have teamed up with FIFA to make the World Cup games more accessible than ever.

Believing that soccer is a universal sport that should be accessible to everyone, FIFA president Joseph Blatter is excited that they will be able to offer a unique live experience for blind and visually impaired fans attending the games in South Africa.  15 seats in 6 different stadiums will be reserved for the blind and visually impaired.  Each will be outfitted with a set of headphones and specially-trained commentators will cover every pass, shot, and goal of the games.  Each of those 15 seats will also have a reserved spot for guides as well.  Trained volunteers will also be on hand to provide assistance if it is needed.

By offering this experience to blind and visually impaired soccer fans at such a large venue like the World Cup, hopefully other professional sports will recognize its value and incorporate these services in their stadiums as well.  That way, no matter what, everyone can enjoy the games that bring us together.

To read the original article, please go to http://clicknews.org/live-fifa-world-cup-2010-for-the-blind-and-visually-impaired/10483/

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Internet Radio Opens the Doors to Blind DJ’s

Do you ever turn on the radio and get frustrated because it’s the same ten songs? Do you ever miss having a DJ that was actually knowledgeable about the music? Do you wish you didn’t have to listen to long annoying commercials? Well then I have the solution for you. Internet streaming radio offers listeners a chance to find any kind of music they want to listen to as well as having real DJ’s that they can connect with. I chose to highlight this topic because of the large number of internet radio stations that are run by the blind. I am going to tell you about four options. If you can think of more, please feel free to tell us about them in the comments.

The first and probably the oldest is ACB radio. An excerpt from their website says, “ACB Radio showcases and nurtures the creativity and talents of the blind/low-vision community from many parts of the world. ACB Radio is heard by a global audience via the internet, and has visitors from over seventy countries.” Their numerous channels allow listeners to learn about what’s important to the blind community, listen to music written and performed by blind musicians, hear old radio dramas, tune into live unpredictable radio shows, and hear radio programming from blind people around the world. If you’re interested in learning more about ACB radio, or becoming a listener, go here. http://www.acbradio.org/pweb/

The second internet radio station that I’d like to tell you about is a very new one called Mushroom FM.  Their website says, “So why do you listen to radio on the Internet? You’ve told us at Mushroom FM that it’s because you like it when music is presented by people who can entertain you, who know their stuff, and who take pride in high audio standards. That’s what Mushroom FM is all about. Right from our quirky name to our fun presenters, we’re the home of the fun guys. We hope to play some of your favorites, introduce you to material you’ve not heard before, and do it all in a way that keeps you coming back for more mushroom goodness. At the very stem of our mushroom is the Mushroom FM guarantee. When it’s on, there’s a presenter. Mushroom FM is no automated jukebox. Any time we’re broadcasting, you know there’s a presenter on air ready to entertain you and interact with you via email and Twitter.” I follow quite a few of the DJ’s on twitter, and I can tell you that they really do know their stuff, and they’re quite fun. I recommend checking out one of the programs. To listen to Mushroom FM go here. http://www.mushroomfm.com/

The third is a station brought to us by the Serotek team. From their website, SamNet radio is, “4,000 of the best songs of the last 40 years, the latest access technology news and interviews, live and interactive talk shows, and much more.” To become a listener of SamNet go here. http://stations.swcast.net/samnetradio

The last, but certainly not least is, The Global Voice. As taken from their website, “The Global Voice brings together an international team of blind and sighted broadcasters, producers and radio journalists to present for you a wide range of entertaining and informative programs.” The programs range from music to discussions about issues important to the blind. The Global Voice also features programs from around the world so that listeners can learn about issues outside of the US. To tune into the global voice, or to hear archived shows go here. http://www.theglobalvoice.info/

Op Ed With Bob Branco – The Cost of Accessibility

When I was growing up, I used Braille for almost every aspect of life. Even today, despite all the modern technology available to a blind person, I rely on Braille for everything, including organizing files, labeling things, reading, and many other practical activities. I know that many other people feel the same way. Whether it’s about Braille or not, blind people want to be independent. Agencies who support and advocate on behalf of blind people want the same thing. Yet once again, it has been proven how costly it can be for us to gain our independence.
Please explain the following, and help me justify it. If I go to a printing service and ask for 75 print copies of a document on letter size paper, I would probably pay $15. If I take this same document, Braille it up, and have 75 Braille copies produced, I now have to pay $104. I am guessing that it is a little harder to produce 75 Braille copies as opposed to 75 print copies, but is it so difficult in comparison that I need to pay nearly seven times more to have it reproduced in Braille as opposed to having it reproduced in print? What additional mechanism is so much more expensive to include in the copying process when I request Braille over print? Is it really seven times more complicated? Do we really buy that logic? Should we?
When I was growing up, Braille was the key to a blind person’s world, and I really expected it to be economically available because we needed it. I was mistaken. While a sighted person used his seventy five dollar typewriter, I used my seven hundred dollar brailler which had much less machinery in it than the typewriter.
I believe that the blind population, as well as the agencies that support this population, should request stimulus money to help keep us independent. I know it sounds a bit far fetched, but given the cost to us for making the effort to be independent, as I’ve explained in the past, I’m really not that far off about this. If it weren’t for the local SHARE foundation, I would have to spend over a thousand dollars in speech software in order to make my computer talk to me, while a sighted person can buy software for less than a
hundred dollars to not type at all. It is so important for the blind to color coordinate their clothing. In order for me to do it, I would need to use my one hundred and fifty dollar color identifier.
In closing, I would like to put the whole thing in perspective this way. In order for a blind person to buy speech software, a Braille machine, a color identifier and a talking measuring tape, things that are practical for their independence, a blind person has to spend three full SSI checks in order to pay for these items.

Feature Writer Susan Roe – Hands On Living: Do Dogs Have Nine Lives?

I have always been amazed at the resilience of animals when it comes to getting themselves into horrible situations and still managing to survive.  I have had many pets in my life, ranging from the ordinary dogs, cats and birds, to the unusual such as turtles, tree crabs, bull frogs and a river eel.  Of all of my pets there was one who managed to get himself into so much trouble that we had to call the local fire department to assist us in his near impossible rescue.

This particular pet was a ninety-pound Dalmatian named Chief and he was always a handful.  Chief only liked a few people and if you were unlucky enough to not be one of his chosen few, then you learned to call ahead before dropping by to be sure Chief wasn’t loose on the farm.  If Chief liked you, then you were his best buddy for life yet on the other hand, if he didn’t like you, then you kept a healthy distance between him and your vital parts.

Chief just adored my dad and always wanted to be outside with him when he went to the barn to feed up the horses.  He had the full run of the shed yard and was truly content running from the large shed to the barn, always keeping dad in sight.  While doing this, Chief also kept a close eye on the numerous barn cats that were fed in the barn.  To him, the cats either should be in the shed or the barn and not in-between and he made it his mission to keep them in either building while he was out with Dad.

Inky, one of our smaller black and white female cats, wasn’t close enough to the barn when Chief started his cat patrol.  Dad couldn’t believe the horrible scene that suddenly played out right in front of him in slow motion.  Chief saw Inky.  Inky then saw Chief.  Inky bolted across the far side of the shed yard through some brambles and up a tree.  Chief was right behind Inky, but little did he know the brambles hid an old dry well.  Needless to say, when Inky went up the tree, Chief went down the well.

When Dad came back inside and told us there was a problem, I surely didn’t think in my wildest nightmares that Chief had fallen down a thirty-five foot dry well.  I just knew he had to be dead, falling that great a distance.  Imagine my shock when he also said that Chief was still alive.  Chief had to be badly injured, possibly a broken leg or serious back injuries, I thought.  Maybe it would have been better if he had ended his life quickly at the bottom of the well.

We all ran to the well and Dad and Matt carefully cleared away the brambles and rotted boards that had hidden the well for years.  I could hear Chief barking and wining from a long distance away.  He sounded so frantic; it broke my heart just to hear him.  How on God’s green Earth were we going to get my baby out of that well?  I wasn’t sure if even a miracle could be hoped for, but thank God for Blackcreek Volunteer Fire Department!

My dad, Luther Peace, had been a member of the Blackcreek Volunteer Fire Department for as far back as I can remember.  We use to joke and Mom would fuss that the fire department was like a second home and a second family to him.  Actually, I grew up with so many of them, knowing that there were fathers, sons, daughters and even a few grandchildren who have made their way through the years as volunteers.  I can say without hesitation that our community could not be more proud of a finer group of men and women.

Dad’s first call was to his guys at Company 12.  Of course, they left their dinner on the table and came right away.  The firemen had the call broadcast as a Public Assist so the situation wouldn’t bring a bunch of on-lookers which could only cause more problems.  Once they arrived and assessed the situation, they straight away ruled out using a ladder of any sort.  The well was just too narrow to allow someone to go down and bring up a ninety-pound dog up with them.  They even considered lowering his kennel cage, but it wouldn’t fit.  We tried using a smaller cage, which actually did fit, but once we tempted Chief in the cage by dropping a hotdog down into it, his front half went, but his back end was not going in without a boost.

Running out of options quickly, they decided on trying to lower a noose and slip it over his head.  My Uncle Dee helped me get closer to the well’s edge as he dared, but he kept a tight grip on the back of my pants.  He didn’t want me to tumble down as well and I didn’t think I would fare as well as Chief.  My calling him would bring him to the center of the well, but as soon as the loop came close he would just duck back under the dug out edges.  Looking back, it was probably a good thing that they never managed to get it over his head.  Chief was far too heavy and due to the distance, the loop would have either choked him to death or broken his neck.  Dad told everyone they needed to take a brake and he told the volunteers to go back and finish their dinner and come back in an hour.

I didn’t want to leave him there all alone, but Matt insisted I needed to take a brake and get a cup of coffee with him.  He wanted to tell me their last resort plan.  Once he told me, I decided I wouldn’t go back out there in case something went wrong.  They were going to lower someone down the well and rig a rope harness around Chief and then haul them both back up.  I really didn’t like this plan because that someone would have to be Matt.  My husband would have to be the one lowered down into that very deep well.  There was no way anyone else could do it, because it would have been like lowering meat down to a very hungry shark.

When everyone returned to finish the job and rescue Chief, I gave Matt a hug and told him to be careful.  The firemen rigged a tripod and attached a block and tackle, which would allow Matt to be lowered straight down directly over the opening.  Matt’s harness was checked and rechecked and his line was attached in the back and down they lowered him to the bottom of the well.  As soon as Chief recognized who Matt was, he jumped up and licked his face and barked as much   to say, “What took you so long!”  Matt was able to secure Chief’s rope and then lift him up into his arms for the quick return trip.  As soon as Matt and Chief cleared the edge of the well, everyone that was not attached to the hauling ropes, scattered like the barn cats.  They were not going to take any chances on Chief wanting to thank them personally.

One of the firemen removed Matt’s harness while he quickly removed Chief’s ropes.  I don’t know who took off for the house first, but Matt never let go of Chief’s collar until they were safely inside the house.  Chief ran straight for his large kennel cage and flattened himself onto his own blankets.  I couldn’t say for sure, but I think Chief was thinking that if he never saw another cat ever again, he would be a happy dog.  I sat on the floor in front of his open cage and gave him some cold water.  The well was full of red clay dust and so Chief was no longer black and white, he was dusty red and black.  When he calmed down, I went all over him and found nothing but several scratches and a cut across his forehead that hardly bled a drop.  Safe, I couldn’t believe he was really laying here in front of me and not dead at the bottom of the well.  Dad was so proud of them all that night.  Thank God for Matt and the men and women of Blackcreek Volunteer Fire Department, I guess they gave me my miracle after all.

Contributor Bruce Atchison – The Invictas: America’s Most Successful Garage Band

There seems to be a trend in the music industry where once-popular sixties acts are reuniting, The Lovin’ Spoonful and Herman’s Hermits being only two which are currently touring. A lesser-known but just-as-good group which reformed recently is The Invictas.
With their garage band sound still relatively intact, the four original members and two new musicians toured in 2005 and 2006, delighting rock music fans of all ages.
It all started during 1960 in Rochester, New York when Herb Gross heard a group of older teens practicing rock music instrumentals in the basement of the house next door. He and a few local friends decided they should form a group of their own. After doing a bit of brainstorming with school friends, they named the band after Buick’s car called the Invicta.
A local college bar, Tiny’s Bengel Inn, was looking for a house band and hired Herb’s group. As they perfected their sound and changed a few band members along the way, The Invictas began playing gigs at colleges up and down the east coast and even in
Canada.
The Invictas’ provocative single hit song, The Hump, was inspired by a couple of dancers in front of the stage at Tiny’s who were “humping,” as they called it, to the music. Herb thought the idea was so interesting that he wrote the lyrics and the tune in one
week. A record producer from Buffalo, Steve Brodie, heard the song and asked the band about recording it. Since the band members were accustomed to live performances and playing The Hump in the studio made the song sound uninspired, Herb invited 30 friends, bought several cases of beer, and The Hump was recorded. In fact, their first album, Invictas A Go-Go, was completed in one weekend and released on the Sahara Records label.
Radio stations were rather prudish in 1966, refusing to play the hump because of it’s title and suggestive lyrics. The record was even banned in Boston, a fact which the band members still treasure. After hundreds of fans flooded radio stations with requests, the record was allowed on the air. It went to number one in Miami and made the top one hundred in America during August of 1966. In Rochester, some record stores were reporting that The Hump was even out-selling The Beatles.
The members, aping the British groups popular at that time, wore English riding boots, turtlenecks, fur jackets, and grew their hair long. It was around that time too when the band started driving a 1955 Cadillac hearse on stage as a promotional gimmick. During the height of their popularity, they also played with famous acts like The Young Rascals, Gene Pitney, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, The Shirelles, and Otis Reading. Later, they opened for The Beach Boys. The Invictas also appeared on some local TV shows and played at the Watkins Glen Race Track.
The invictas became so popular that they required police escorts, had their own fan club, and attracted plenty of eager female fans. Girls waited for them on their front lawns and called them on the phone at all hours of the night. Bass player, Jim Kohler, came home
late one evening to find that some groupies had actually broken into his apartment and prepared a meal for him. Herb was once chased by a crowd of girls across a street and into a department store, where he hid in a ladies’ changing room.
Problems soon plagued The Invictas. Their hearse, which sported gold racing stripes and the band’s name in bold yellow lettering on the doors, proved to be unreliable, breaking down often on the way to gigs. Then the Vietnam war caused the band to break up. The
Invictas did reunite in 1980 for a festival tent gig. Then again in 1995, they played another gig, recording Long Tall Shorty and The Hump 95. Apart from those performances, the members remained at their day jobs.
Throughout the years, Herb had established his own advertising agency and was earning a substantial income. While he visited Invictas member Dave Hickey, Dave’s wife Marilyn suggested they go to a blues club called The Dinosaur and see a group named The Mary Haitz Band. Mary heard that the two Invictas members were there and asked them to play a number. Dave declined but Herb performed Long Tall Shorty. The crowd became excited and called out for him to play The Hump. Herb, having a Blues Brothers moment, realized that he had to get the band back together one more time.
The Invictas toured in 2005, launching their ’60s’ tour at a bar called the California Brew Haus. The members enjoyed the experience and crowd reaction at various venues so much that they toured again the next summer and recorded The Skip ‘N Go Naked tour live CD, named after a popular Tiny’s Bengel Inn drink made with gin, beer, and lemonade. Herb also found a 1984 model Cadillac hearse for sale in Oklahoma City and had his friend Dan Parsons customize it to look like the original Invictas vehicle which had long ago been sent to the junk yard.
The ’60s tour covered the northeast states and parts of Ontario while the Skip ‘n Go Naked tour happened in upstate New York. The Invictas played various northeast U. S. gigs in 2007 as well. Though the band lost money, they all plan to play whatever gigs
they can find and continue rocking into their retirement years.
For more information regarding The Invictas, go to the www.theinvictas.com website. It features band merchandise, including their 2 CDs and Banned In Boston, a live concert DVD. Herb also wrote Rock Till Ya Drop, a coffee table book about his group, featuring many photos of the band and their gear.
Bruce Atchison is a legally-blind freelance writer and the author of When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) and Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School). He lives in a tiny hamlet in Alberta, Canada with four house rabbits.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Cars Yesterday and Tomorrow

 In 1956 our family owned a 1946 Ford which had a wonderful sounding radio and comfortable seats. While driving home on a warm summer night, the music and the baritone voice of the announcer lulled us children to sleep.  When we came to a stop, we could hear the gentle tick-tock of the analog clock.  On that warm summer night in 1956, driving home from our uncle’s house in North Andover, Massachusetts, I liked the relaxing sound of music and the fresh summer air coming through the open windows.

The slow songs of this era made us feel as if everything was right in the world.  I remember that I loved tracing my fingers over the shiny patterned plastic slip covers which made the back seats feel inviting and comfortable.  Being blind, I loved the running boards, which made my footing secure as I stepped out of our car. By the end of that summer, the radio fell silent and the clock stopped ticking. 

In 1957, “True Blue,” a 1952 Chevy, would replace our beloved 1946 Ford. I did not like this car.  There was no radio and the seats had no slip covers. There was no ticking clock.  With all its shortcomings, though, this car was reliable and would be a car that would get us where we wanted to go for four years.  Mom loved this car. 

“True Blue” would take us camping on the Mohawk trail that hot summer and to a summer camp for the blind in the sultry summer of 1959.  In December of 1959, we visited my aunt, a nun now stationed in cold Biddeford, Maine. 

“True Blue” almost died in the summer of 59.  We were driving on a Connecticut highway and I heard a strange knocking sound that jarred me awake. We learned from a nighttime mechanic that we were in serious trouble; the piston rod was giving out.  I thought, and was secretly hoping, that maybe we would have to get a new car.

Much to my dismay, the old Chevy came back to us in fine style but we did eventually retire this loyal car in January of 1961 when my parents purchased a 1958 Chevy. 

This new car was very much like the old Ford.  It had a radio and was a station wagon.   My mom loved the convenience of the automatic shift.  During the two years we owned this car, it took us to Cape Cod, New Hampshire, and various other places the very hot summer of 1961.

After graduation from grade school in 1962, our family traveled to New York City. This was supposed to be a two week vacation. We visited The Statue of Liberty, the Bronx Zoo, and the Museum of Natural History.  We even went to mass at the majestic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on July 9, a brutally hot Sunday.  To my brother’s disappointment, our trip was cut short on that night when I was rushed to the hospital because of a severe seizure. I would be diagnosed with epilepsy later that month.

From the autumn of 1962 to the spring of 1963, our car would take us on an autumn trip to the Mohawk Trail and Easter trips to Maine and North Andover to visit relatives. In April of 1963, the 1958 Chevy met its demise in an unforeseen car accident.

In March of 1964, my Mom became the proud owner of a brand new Chevy Corvette station wagon. On Friday of Easter vacation she picked me up at Perkins and we drove home for the first time. There were two new accessories in the Corvette: seat belts and a litter bucket in the front seat.

The AM radio sounded fabulous, and like the 1958 Chevy, this car was a station wagon.

The elation of riding in the back did not last, though.  My brother and I were getting too old and the rough and tumble rides we had enjoyed in our old station wagon no longer appealing.  We preferred the comfort and safety of comfortable seats and the security of seat belts on trips.  That car took us all over New England in 1964 and 1965 and to Camp Allen in Reeds Ferry for blind girls. 

My parents drove to Washington D.C. in the very warm spring of 1966 to hear our chorus perform at the National Cathedral for the Anne Sullivan Centennial.

In 1969, Mom got a small sports car which I instantly disliked.  My brother got to drive the old Corvette wagon. Our new car was not even comfortable, with small bucket seats in front and the back seat was cramped.

This car was all about economy, very much like today’s smaller energy efficient cars.  It was hard to get in and out of since it was a two door car and did not even have a radio.

We had this car until 1974, when Mom bought a new Chevy Impala.  That car was luxurious and roomy and it had a radio and efficient heat during the winter.  Like the old Ford, this car was a joy to ride in.  During the ten years my mom owned it we drove to Washington D.C. during late August of 1975, and New Hampshire in July of 1981.

In late 1984, mom bought a Buick Futura, which she loved because it had the latest amenities.  It had AM/FM radio, air conditioning, and power steering, but unfortunately some very uncomfortable seats. It was nice to ride in, yet I missed the comfort and simplicity of previous cars that they owned.

While I smile thinking of simpler uncomplicated cars, I wonder what the next 20 years may bring. I believe that more cars will be hybrids or electrics, that they will all have GPS, and they will become places to complete work, gather information, and enjoy entertainment.  We may be able to read newspapers via the internet, do business transactions, watch movies, talk on phones, and listen to books and music from a vast library.  Some of this is possible now, but not integrated in one complete package like I’m sure it will become.

I think the day is coming when the elderly will drive at night and blind people will be able to drive as well.  It will be as simple as inserting a code, then telling the car where to go and how fast to drive while we sit back as passengers. With commands at the push of a button, allowing the car’s computer to be our eyes doing the driving for us, the future is looking like a whole new era for independent long distance mobility.