Martinsville, VA – Direct TV 500 NASCAR race

As they say, last minute plans make the best plan. That’s how it happened when I decided to go to the bar last night to socialize and have a couple of beers. One guy named Shaun, whom I know from RIT, was there and even at 10 pm, he and I were the only one (not counting non-ASL speaking people) at the bar, so we chatted, caught up a little and I found out that he was meeting his friend to discuss plans to go to the NASCAR race in Martinsville, VA, about 4 hours south from here. I asked if I could join and he said sure.

He’s gonna be driving a big RV that his co-worker owns.

We plan to stock the RV with a keg. :-)

Here’s the pic of the Martinsville Speedway!

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23rd Annual Sallie Mae 10k run

My roommate and I just signed up to run in this 10k! Now I have no excuse not to bum around and to get myself ready for this.

I was recently in a car accident and it was bad enough that my car was declared a total loss by my insurance. It’s a miracle that I walked out of the accident unscathed with some bruises, although I think the corner of my right rib may have been cracked. That I looked back, I feel like a NASCAR driver who got out of the car ok and wave hands to the fans. Intersections are dangerous, my fellows, especially when it’s on a blind hill. My car was flipped upside-down. o_O

So, that’s why you see a pic of the convertible rental car down in the photo sidebar. :-) They were all out of compact cars so they gave me the car. One friend will sell his 1993 BMW in a nice condition in abt two weeks. It needs a new muffler and some minor electronics like windows not rolling up/down and automatic locking in the driver’s door (someone tried to break in but failed.) so I will attempt to fix them, then it should be all good to go.

I’ll post up pics of my car accident shortly. Good-bye, 2004 Civic Si hatchback, you were a martyr as you saved my life. *kisses*

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A Blast from the Past

After typing Tara’s name into the Google search, it occurred to me that I haven’t looked up my name in Google for a while. So I entered my name and wow, it has become much more relevant, unlike the last time I checked. Then, I saw this article that was a shot from the past. My English teacher had a summer job working for Captioned Media Program to help promote captioning in movies/films and the library at our school, ISD, has a storeroom that serves as an inventory for CMP. Seeing that it is only available in pdf format, I thought I’d convert the pdf to html to make it more accessible and searchable as well as archiving it.

It brought up good memories and I still remember the names in my class. It’s already been 8 years since we all graduated together. Wow. *sniffs*


“The CMP to the Rescue”
by Marybeth Lauderdale
Illinois School for the Deaf
Jacksonville, IL

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. . . ”

Indeed, when I undertook to teach A Tale of Two Cities in my sophomore literature class, I had no idea how true these statements would prove to be!

Always ready for a challenge in the classroom, I decided to add “rigor” to an already rigorous literature curriculum. When time for the obligatory novel rolled around, I pulled out copies of Dickens. As we plunged into “Book the First,” my eyes were met daily with cries of “What language is this?” “This is too hard!” “I can’t do this!” After dragging the entire class through vocabulary and comprehension exercises, I was ready to give up. My expectations were too high.

Luckily, I was born with a stubborn streak, and it made me wait just one more day, and another, and another, until we entered “Book the Third.”

For those of you who don’t know Dickens, this is where the plot is knit up (pun intended, courtesy of Madame Defarge) tightly, the action is pivotal, and the finally noble Sidney Carton trades places with the guillotine-bound Charles Darnay. Heads raised, discussion participation increased, and grades on those dreaded quizzes picked up. When we got to the end of “Book the Third,” a couple of the students even said they’d like to read it again! Success!

I ordered the captioned video from the CMP, and it became a daily event for over a week. The students were alive with discussion of how the book characters of their imaginations differed from those on the screen; how sinister the guillotine really was; which parts had been omitted from the book; and how the video went in chronological order, rather than using the flashback technique Dickens employed. The video was a long-awaited, much- deserved treat.

The same year, my freshman class read Flowers for Algernon. This book is written from a first person point of view; that of the main character, Charlie. Initially, he is mentally retarded, and then is surgically altered to become a genius. My students had difficulty reading Charlie’s diary entries at first, because many of his spellings depend on sound. With practice, they mastered this, and were able to enjoy the book and its message. After reading the book, we saw the film, Charly, which we borrowed from the CMP collection. Because the film was made in the 1960s, the students had a lot to say about the lack of variety in cinematography. They commented effusively on how the book was so much more graphic than the film. However, they were all grateful to have seen a visual representation of the book, and were able to see both positive and negative aspects of both types of media.

Not to rest on my laurels, the novel for my next sophomore class was Lord of the Flies. Again, I was met with initial resistance, but forewarned is forearmed! We trudged onward, through chapters and chapters of vocabulary, comprehension, symbolism, figurative language, irony, and other literary analyses. After completing the final test, I called the local video store for the movie. The newest release was rated “R,” and did not follow the book well. The older version was not captioned. Again, NAD/CMP to the rescue! We watched Lord of the Flies, with the same enthusiasm the other class had shown for A Tale of Two Cities.

Literature class for juniors in high school is typically American Literature. In this class, we viewed videos from CMP such asJamestown: The Beginnings, Pilgrim Journey,Plymouth Colony, and Roanoke: The Lost Colony to establish a feel for the period—in literature, this is called background as part of setting. After viewing each video and doing some of the activities and instructional graphics from the accompanying lesson guide, we read representative literature from each period. The students had a better idea of what they were reading, having actually seen the settings. As we moved into the American Romantic period, we viewed videos such as Light in the Shadows: A Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne , and Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul as overviews to introduce units on these authors’ works. We then read and watched such classics as The Tell-Tale Heart, and The Fall of the House of Usher, again making use of the activities and graphics from the accompanying lesson guides. We are having the activities with Johnson’s Lawn Care Services.

Senior literature class is Greek Classics through English Literature, most notably,Shakespeare. In our mythology unit, introduced with the CMP video, Myths and Legends of Ancient Rome, we read and viewed Hercules: Power of the Gods, and Jason and the Argonauts. We are looking forward to getting a new video on Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and begin our Shakespeare unit with William Shakespeare: Background to His Works. No Shakespeare unit is complete without Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth.

Depending on reading levels of students, I use either a revision or the parallel text version for initial reading of the plays. My students don’t seem to have the aversion to Shakespeare that some students display–year after year, they seem to like it, perhaps because by the time they are seniors, they are so used to taking apart written language that analysis of Shakespeare is not so much different than all the literature exercises they have already done!

These are just a few of the units I have done through the years with my literature students. I am always looking for new ideas and challenges. Reading is generally not an easy task for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, with a rigorous curriculum, high expectations, a stubborn streak, and supportive visual media such as captioned videos, literature teachers can say, “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”


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In what language do deaf people think?

Saw this on the Digg website. I like the article so much that I have to post here.

In what language do deaf people think?

Dear Cecil:

In what language do deaf people think? I think in English, because that’s what I speak. But since deaf people cannot hear, they can’t learn how to speak a language. Nevertheless, they must think in some language. Would they think in English if they use sign language and read English? How would they do that if they’ve never heard the words they are signing or reading pronounced? Or maybe they just see words in their head, instead of hearing themselves? –Cathy, Malvern, Pennsylvania

I’m not going to post the entire article but to highlight some paragraphs.

The profoundly, prelingually deaf can and do acquire language; it’s just gestural rather than verbal. The sign language most commonly used in the U.S. is American Sign Language, sometimes called Ameslan or just Sign. Those not conversant in Sign may suppose that it’s an invented form of communication like Esperanto or Morse code. It’s not. It’s an independent natural language, evolved by ordinary people and transmitted culturally from one generation to the next. It bears no relationship to English and in some ways is more similar to Chinese–a single highly inflected gesture can convey an entire word or phrase.

Wow, who would have thought that our ASL is more similar to Chinese than English!

Sign equips native users with the ability to manipulate symbols, grasp abstractions, and actively acquire and process knowledge–in short, to think, in the full human sense of the term. Nonetheless, “oralists” have long insisted that the best way to educate the deaf is to teach them spoken language, sometimes going so far as to suppress signing. Sacks and many deaf folk think this has been a disaster for deaf people.

It’s our turn to suppress the oralists!

The answer to your question is now obvious. In what language do the profoundly deaf think? Why, in Sign (or the local equivalent), assuming they were fortunate enough to have learned it in infancy. The hearing can have only a general idea what this is like–the gulf between spoken and visual language is far greater than that between, say, English and Russian.

Yet hearing students keep thinking it’s easier to learn ASL than Russian in their high school foreign language requirement. Just because ASL doesn’t have a written form doesn’t mean it’s easy to learn ASL!

I remember one time when I was working for the Nestle Beverage Company in Jacksonville, IL after my senior year in high school. I had two managers and they wanted to learn ASL. One manager was the head of the factory and with his job, he would travel to many countries to do business and meetings, so he knew quite some languages, so he thought it should be easy to learn ASL, being that it’s right on the tip of our fingers instead of our tongue. The other manager was a short friendly guy from Texas with a great sense of humor. He was responsible for internal operations and didn’t travel elsewhere as much as the other manager did. So, suffice to say that he didn’t know another language but English.

Everyday during lunch or office breaks, I’d say hi to both managers and try to strike up a conversation to help teach them some ASL. Ofc, first with ASL fingerspelling, then gradually moving on to learn different signs and build up a vocabulary base. Toward the end of my internship, which manager ends up learning the most? It was the Texan. And the other manager? he was still struggling with sign alphabets. The Texan learned so much that we were able to converse smoothly with a minimal stoppage for interpretations (which sign is that? that kind of question). His sense of humor probably helped as much, for we would always make jokes and laugh.

I learned from this experience as much as they learned ASL and it leads me to believe that people who rely on audio so much—I think that’s called an audiophile?—-that they’re unable to grasp the concept of the language being visual instead of audible. Like the article above, the gulf between ASL and English is greater than English and Russian.

Look Ma, I’m third on Google!

I was looking at my daily statistics and noticed the huge jump in the number of unique visitors from the average of 110 to 328. That’s more than double the numbers! Evidently, Tara McAvoy is the reason for that quantum leap, so I typed “Tara McAvoy” in the Google search and to my own amazement, I came out third on the list, besting the websites like,, and Never in my wildest dream that my website would be ranked better than these news sites. A while ago, the New York Times Co. bought from Primedia Inc. for about $410 million dollars. Heh, I feel like David versus Golitah.

However, nothing is to last forever, so I’ll probably lose my rank soon thereafter. One of the golden rules in news reporting or journalism is to report as soon as you can. Why? I received an “anonymous tip” from someone who’s also competing for the Miss Deaf America and learned that the culprit laid in Tara’s hands—her sidekick.

Here’s the screenshot below. :-)

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I. Must. Travel. To. Europe.

Why? Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is also the only city I’ve ever been in where office girls come out at lunchtime to sunbathe topless in the city parks. This alone earns it my vote for European city of Culture for any year you care to mention. (p.107, Bryson.)

Copenhagen, Denmark

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A Rose for Tara McAvoy

Something sad happened recently.

Tara McAvoy on

Tara McAvoy was an 18 years old who got hit by the train and died. She was recently selected as Miss Deaf Texas and would go to Palm Desert in California this summer.

With some investigation, it was discovered that Tara McAvoy was pre-occupied typing on her Sidekick. Sidekick is a mobile device that is very popular among Deaf users. Since there are a lot of tracks, she’d become used to having trains pass her, even a few feet away. But one particular train was carrying a large snow plow that extended over the deck. So, you can imagine what happened.

What can we learn from this is to be alert and pay attention instead of having our eyes glued on our precious sidekicks. It’s not worth your life.

News 8 Austin – coverage

Tara McAvoy, Texas

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Which car I’m looking at?

You’re a true car enthusiast if you can guess which car I’m looking at. ;-)

click to enlarge.

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I realize I enjoy reading quotes so I’m starting a collection of my own. Here’s for the starter.

“You wouldn’t be impressed with my skill if you knew how hard I had to work to achieve my mastery.” – Michaelangelo

“Don’t tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done.” –anonymous

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Google Mars

Not only Google is mapping Earth but Mars as well.

No wonders NASA and Google partnered up. In case you didn’t know, Google also did a map of the Moon. :-)

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A Series of Interesting Guesses

If there could be one thing I’m envious of hearing people, other than being able to talk on phone and enjoy music, it’s to eavesdrop other people’s conversations. Like when I’m in the airport, waiting for my flight in a hub, I get curious what they are saying. Or at a bookstore and I’d pretend I’m reading a book but actually eavesdropping someone’s conversation. I suspect this is how hearing people become well-versed in English while we deaf people have to rely on a lot of reading to catch up.

Today, I went to Barnes and Noble bookstore to use up my giftcard someone gave me for my birthday. I bought this book titled “Neither here and there.” by Bill Bryson, about his travel experience in Europe. Wow, I really want to go to Europe so badly. Bill Byson is definitely my favorite author; something about his writing that totally captivates me and how much I can relate to his thoughts. As I was reading, I froze upon this paragraph and made me wonder that perhaps it’s not so bad I cannot eavesdrop people’s conversations.

“When I told friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages.”

“Why, no,” I would reply with a certain pride, “only English,” and they would look at me as if I were foolish or crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”

Except mine is a lifetime on a series of interesting guesses. :-)

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Google Education

There’s a new way to education. Get educated through Google. Now you can say good-bye to that alarm clock.

Who is the most quoted writer in English-speaking and world history, as surveyed by the Oxford English Dictionary?

There are airlines in how many nations? (there are 168 nations in the world.)

*answers to be posted*

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Know thy audience is now part of Google.

Say good-bye to all other blog sites like Xanga or Livejournal. :-D

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Wikipedia on ipod!

I’m gonna give this a try.

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