Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My Do’s and Don’ts

I don't walk in the woods anymore, but I do sit by the ocean.
I don't sleep well at night, but I do take naps during the day.
I don't travel much, but people visit me often.
I don't work, but I remain relevant.
I don't walk, run, swim, or bike, but I still breathe, swallow, see, and speak.
I don't drive, but I am driven.
I am dependent but not helpless.
I am disabled, but I'm not hungry, wet, cold, or abused.
I have many friends, but there is much I can't do with them.
I am left behind, but I enjoy my time alone.
I am fragile but not weak.
I am embarrassed but not ashamed.
I am a born optimist, but I don’t like my chances.
I am a prisoner in this body, but I possess free will.
I am embattled, but I remain content.
I am frightened, but I am loved.
I am frustrated and discouraged, but more often I am amused and intrigued.
I worry about the future, but I live in the present.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My New Sure Hands Overhead Lift System

IMG_1414 My April 29 post said:
“The Sure Hands lift system has the unique characteristic of allowing a disabled person to control the entire process. If I had one of these, I could transfer from bed to Invacare wheelchair to shower chair to iBot wheelchair to toilet, or any combination thereof –all by myself. How cool would that be?”
Well, it’s installed, and I’ve been using it for a few weeks, and it is very cool indeed.

As you can see from the photos, there are two “hands” that grab me around my chest just under my armpits, and there are two hooks that go around my thighs. I have a remote control hanging around my neck with buttons for up, down, travel right, and travel left. I wouldn’t characterize the lift as “comfortable.” It’s more like “acceptable.” I wouldn’t want to be suspended in this way for more than a minute or two, and luckily I don’t have to be.

I’m able to transfer from my wheelchair to my bed or to the toilet. If we put a second wheelchair or a shower chair anywhere under the overhead rail system, I can transfer to that as well.

IMG_1424 Kim likes to sleep later than me on weekends. For the past couple of years I’ve been unable to get out of bed without her assistance. I can now. Granted, the activity wakes her up, but she has been able to fall back asleep once I finish my transfer.

Until the system was in place, we were doing some rather unorthodox transfers, which carried a certain amount of risk for Kim as well as me. Those days are behind us, at least at home.

My insurance company indicated they will reimburse all but $700 of the $12,000 product cost. I haven’t seen that check yet, and I won’t believe it until I do.

Independence – it’s a wonderful thing.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Driverless Cars – Yes Please

1280px-Jurvetson_Google_driverless_car_trimmed I enjoy the thought exercise where I imagine how people 100 years in the future will regard our generation. I hope that they will be horrified by what MS patients had to endure, because the disease will have been eradicated for many years by then. I also hope they will be appalled by our mindless partisan bickering, because 100 years in the future government will be characterized by reasoned debate and rational discourse. And finally, I’m sure that our descendents will be amazed that human beings used to drive automobiles on public roads, because all personal vehicles will be self-driving by then.

What are the potential benefits of driverless cars? There are so many. Here are just a few:
1. Once the technology is in place, human fatalities from automobile accidents will become rare – maybe on par with the number of deaths from drowning. Today, automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for young people. Almost all of these fatalities are due to human error, not machine error. Self-driving cars will monitor each other and road conditions much more accurately than humans do, and they will make quicker and better driving decisions. Once in a while mechanical/computer failure or unexpected road conditions may still result in accidents, but they will be uncommon.
2. When all vehicles are communicating with nearby vehicles and with a traffic monitoring/control system, traffic jams will become much less common. Overloaded roadways will still exist, but with traffic control systems routing individual automobiles in the optimum direction, the situation will be greatly improved. Commutes will be shortened, and workers will be productive or will be free to relax during their commutes.
3. Fuel efficiency will increase as automobiles operate closer to optimum speeds, with much less stop and go driving, while avoiding excess idle times due to fewer traffic jams. Also, with increased operating efficiency will come decreased pollution loading.
4. Personal automobile ownership will drop significantly as a fleet of self-driving cars will be available on short notice, at least in urban areas. This will lower everyone’s cost of transportation.
5. And my personal favorite – people can be transported independently in an automobile even if they are not capable of driving. This will help disabled people, minors, injured people, and even intoxicated people (who are responsible for 1/3 of auto accidents).
The technology is evolving quickly. Google has a fleet of self-driving cars, and has recently developed a prototype of the next generation autonomous car that doesn’t have a steering wheel or gas and brake pedals. The biggest challenges, however, may not be technological, but logistical and legal. How will traffic laws need to change to accommodate a slow evolution from human driven to self-driven automobiles? How will we handle liability in accidents, especially if there are injuries? Who do you sue if the accident is due to an onboard computer failure – the owner, the passenger, the auto manufacturer, the software developer? Also, how can we prevent hacking and protect privacy on the roads?

I can sort of imagine what the roads will look when all cars are self-driven. But I have trouble imagining what the roads will look like for the twenty or so years when there is a transition from 100% human-driven to 100% self-driven cars. People who invest in the self-driven cars will be angry with human drivers who make mistakes that cause traffic jams or accidents. Human drivers will be annoyed by self-driven cars that go too slow or come to silly full stops at abandoned intersections at 2 AM. As laws and economics slowly push human-driven cars off the road, there will be backlash from traditionalists.

“We love our cars, so why should we have to give up the joy of driving? This is America after all.”

Some answers are in my list of advantages – especially the one that states:

“Automobile accidents are the number one cause of death for young people. Almost all of these fatalities are due to human error, not machine error.”

Is this not reason enough?

I think there will always be a place for enthusiasts to drive their own cars, but eventually it will be relegated to specially designated sections of road. I envision that human driving will become a purely recreational activity.

I can’t wait for the day when I can travel independently again in my self-driving wheelchair van. Okay, I may not live that long, but today’s young, disabled people almost certainly will.

Here are two links of interest:

And two TED talks below (or click here and here):

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Amazon Smile

Smiley Face

Aren't you sick of people asking, cajoling, even beseeching you (it’s better than besmirching you) to donate to their charity? I’m not going to do that today., the online bookseller turned video streaming company turned PROVIDER OF ALL THINGS, is willing to donate for you.

The program is called Amazon Smile. You tell Amazon where you want your money to go, and they will donate 0.5% of all your qualifying purchases to that charity. Allow me to clarify. They are not charging you an extra 0.5% and then donating it. They’re taking 0.5% off their profits from your purchase and giving it to the charity you designate. Why in the world would you not take that deal?

Mitch, how do I take that deal?

I’m glad you asked.
1. Turn on your computer, tablet, or cell phone. If you can’t find the ON button, ask a small child.
2. Go to your internet browser and type in the following website name:
3. Enter your email address and Amazon password. If you can’t remember those items then ask the NSA. They have it on file, for your convenience.
4. Select a charity. I might suggest organizations that have the words “multiple sclerosis” in their name.
5. Instead of shopping from in the future, shop from, and donations will be made automatically to your designated charity.
0.5% of your annual purchases may not seem like a significant amount of money, but 0.5% of’s sales for a year is a hugely significant amount of money. Whether or not you are a fan of, they are trying to do a good thing here. Let's hold them to it.

Tell them Mitch sent you, and you’ll qualify for a free lifetime subscription to my new blog entitled “How the Fuck Did I End Up On This Ride Anyway?”
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