Sendero Group Travel Blog

Follow Sendero travelers on their adventures using accessible GPS.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

 

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

 

Capital Public Radio: Insight broadcast with Mike May

Listen to the show

Sunday, March 14, 2010

 

2nd day at the Paralympics for the Presidential delegation

Decked out in USA sweaters, vests, hats and scarves, the US Presidential delegation first set out for the Paralympic Village for Curling and Sledge Hockey, located in Vancouver. Our tour guide was none other than Rick Hansen, one of the most famous athletes from Canada, Mayor of the Olympic village and extraordinary person. Rick was very proud of the environmental platinum rating for the village. All the facilities were world class not to mention the stunning view.

Mike and Jennifer at the sledge hockey game
Sledge Hockey teams
Group at the Sledge hockey game
Sledge hockey game
Sledge hockey game
Sledge Hockey team USA

We met with some of the members of the US Sledge Hockey team. Their average age is 23, 7 years younger than the next oldest Canadian team. Their star is rising and they hope to obtain a gold after several more games, the first of which we will see this evening.


Less than two hours since we had breakfast, we enjoyed the athlete's cafeteria although none of them were yet around.


From there, our motorcade traveled to the Curling arena. It is an unusual sport to understand but it is high on strategy and finesse. I enjoyed the crowd noise definitely led by the Canadians and Japanese. There were 4 games going on simultaneously. The fledgling US team was down to the Germans 4 to 2 but ended up winning 6 to 5. It was fun to learn about.

Curling event
curling event

Before leaving for a short break at our hotel, we had more food in the VIP lounge and watched the USA slalom races on television. Young Caitlin fell and we didn't see the other two visually impaired skiers race. A sit skier named Stephanie took a silver for the USA.


The sledge hockey match was a blast, loud, crazy and fun. The US guys beat the Czechs 3 to 0. We had a chance to congratulate the guys we had met earlier in the day. I loved being able to feel the sledge they scoot around in and their hockey stick. It is normal on one end and the pushing end has prongs on it. They have to quickly switch back and forth.

the delegation group in front of the living wall
We wrapped up the evening and our delegation visit with a dinner. It was an amazing treat to have become close to a wide variety of people in such a short time, all drawn together by mutual inspiration and by what we experienced with the Paralympic athletes.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

 

First Day of the Paralympic Games for the Presidential Delegation

Our 4 vehicle motorcade headed from Vancouver to Whistler on Saturday for the first day of Paralympic competition, specifically to see the biathlon and downhill ski races at Whistler. It was snowing but they had lots of creature comforts for us including a scarf, hat, gloves, blanket, hand warmer and seat cushion. We sat all huddled up as the athletes raced, some sitting and some standing in the Biathlon. The top Russian who ended up taking the gold, has both arms amputated above the elbow. He has a special rig so he can pull the trigger of the rifle with his teeth. Some how, he holds the rifle under his stump and didn't miss a single shot. The blind skiers were doing this too including the Canadian who was in both the Olympics and Paralympics. Andy from the U.S. captured a Bronze, the first medal of the games for the U.S.
Mike and Jennifer in the stands at the biathlon

Our motorcade then took us around the mountain for the downhill competition. This was much more comfortable. There was an indoor VIP building overlooking the course where we were warm and had food and beverage. It was a great opportunity to meet dignitaries from other teams. I particularly enjoyed speaking Spanish with the team from Spain. I had a photo taken with two women from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We had the pleasure of meeting the Premier of British Columbia, Gordon Campbell and many others.
Mike with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Unfortunately, after 2 hours of delays, the downhill was postponed due to fog. This is the same run used in the other Olympics, quite a challenging course.


We had the distinct pleasure of being allowed into the Athlete's village. We got a tour of the facilities, the same ones for the other Olympics and we ate in the dining facility with the athletes. I met the 3 visually impaired athletes of the 50-member U.S. team, Caitlin, Danielle and Mark all high partials in the B3 category. This is a very low number of competitors compared to the 80s when we had over 15 team members. They were all fascinating people and disappointed that the downhill was postponed. They will race the slalom on Sunday but we unfortunately are scheduled to attend wheelchair curling and sledge hockey and won't see them race.


I have really enjoyed getting to know the members of our delegation. Bonnie Saint John, a single leg amputee, skied along with me in 1984 but I didn't know her then. Melissa Stockwell is an amputee swimmer from the 2004 summer games. Jim Martinson is a crazy double amputee skier from the 1992 Paralympics and still competing in the X games at age 63. The Secretary of the VA, the US Ambassador and the head of the EPA along with Kareem Dale, the President's advisor on disabilities are all down to earth amazing people.

Bonnie Saint John, Rick Hansen and Mike
Rick Hansen and Jim Martinson

I keep running across blasts from the past, people who have stayed involved in Paralympic winter sports whereas I have been out of touch since I left the board of USABA. Ted Fay for example, Martha Hill and others. I love meeting the kids from the "Paralympic Experience," young people who will be our next crop of Paralympians.


Many of you may have seen the Procter and Gamble commercials about giving to the Moms. I met people from P&G and some of the moms hear on their behalf. I love the story about the Iraqi veteran whose rehab got him back into training for the Paralympics. He knew he was on the true road to recovery when his 3 year-old son, said, Daddy, I can run with you again.

Friday, March 12, 2010

 

Highlights from the Opening Ceremonies of the Paralympics in Vancouver

This year's opening ceremonies had some amazing moments. I'm happy to report that the BC Dome was sold out, so 60,000 people were there to witness the opening ceremony. The BC dome is literally within hockey puck striking distance out my hotel window.

The opening ceremonies had several goose bump moments. First, when the Canadian athletes came into the stadium and it sounded like the roof would be blasted off by the cheers of the crowd. Second, when the 16 year-old Canadian sang the Paralympic song and finally when Rick Hansen and Terry Fox were honored for their wheelchair runs. The parents of Terry Fox lighted the torch.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

 

CES Day 1

It is amazing to me how many companies have some sort of GPS device here at the Consumer Electronics Show. It used to be that I could visit a couple companies and know what was happening. Most of the products I have seen have nothing exciting. There was one designed specifically for bike riders. It had no maps and it really meant to replace the traditional bicycle odometer and trip recorder.

There was a fun product in the form of a football or soccer ball remote control. Picture your typical squishy kid's football with a remote keypad embedded in it. They only cost $4. That was probably the distributor price but even the ball might cost that much. At least you wouldn't have to worry about it breaking. In fact, you can toss it around the room.

The Monster Cable Beats Studio headphones sound really good. They have some noise canceling but unlike the Bose products, the music quality is not compromised by the noise cancelation. You can purchase an add-on controller so you can use them with your phone to listen and talk.

For those who prefer stylish earbuds, check out Monster's Lady Gaga diamond shaped earphones. Pretty cute!

How about a Schlage electronic key lock for your house with a wireless connection to a security camera or house lights or even a thermostat. You can control it all from your cell phone. You can even view the camera's video online when you are away assuming you can see these things.

Several years ago, I reported on the Motorola Blue Mini bone conduction earphone. It never came out. They have a version finally shipping called the Endeavor HX1 for $149.You can use it either like a normal noise canceling Bluetooth earphone or you can use the bone conduction mic. It picks up your voice through your head and not through a microphone which would also be picking up background sound. You can whisper and be heard when using this but presumably the sound quality is a bit restricted.

Motorola also has two new Bluetooth speakers meant for the car but they can be used as a pedestrian as well. The T215 is $69 and is rectangular and the T325 is square and runs $89They both have a 2 wat amplifier and are pretty light but not super small, say 10 square inches or so.

This only scratches the surface of what I saw today with 3 days to go.

Mike

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

 

quick blast from the Consumer Electronics Show

Greetings from Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps.

This is something like my 25th CES. Although I am always in search of GPS products, there are many other cool gadgets I will be finding along the way. At the private press unveiling last night, here are a list of some devices that caught my attention.

Two mini projectors, one from 3M and one from Micro Vision, the WX Laser Pico projector. It connects to an iPhone or Blackberry and can project an image up to 200 inches. Since it uses lasers, it automatically focuses and it is the size of a pack of cards.

V-Phone by Saigus is the first video phone in the US. It is running on an Android phone at the moment and it uses your carrier's existing service.

CompuLab has a PC which is an inch thick and 4 inches square and will cost under $400.

The B-Jive is an iPhone app which combines all your message chat clients into one application.

Super USB or also known as USB 3.0 is out and on 17 products so far. This is ten times faster than your current USB 2.0.

Mediche has an on-line and automatic insulin injecting device which keeps track of when your last injection was, when the next one should be and how the levels should be adjusted. This can also be monitored on-line which should mean that it would be accessible even though the meter isn't accessible.

Ocean Blue has a talking set top box, which will hopefully find its way into different television devices in the US.

Orbit Sound who make the T3 speaker Sendero sells, has a WiFi Internet Radio.

The Zomm Bluetooth leash for phones will alert if your phone goes out of Bluetooth range, about 30 feet. It fits on a key ring and acts as a mini speaker phone as well. So, if your phone is in a purse, you can answer and talk on it from the Zomm. It also has an emergency mode that automatically dials 911. The retail is $79.

I like the name of this company, Archer Fish.
This is a smart wireless security camera which figures out certain visual activity it sees and texts you if there is an unusual pattern. You choose which patterns to look for like someone lingering in your yard or a package being delivered to your door.

Bestalife has very cool ball shaped speakers which expand into the Lady Bug, the Firefly or the Mantis. They have iPod docking ports, look very cool and sound good.

There is a device interestingly called the mPower, spelled the same as the BrailleNote version. It doubles as an emergency flashlight and USB charger.

Klipsch has a combined speaker and LED light which screws into a normal light socket. It uses the house wiring to connect to your stereo. So, you can put speakers in any room and they will be virtually invisible as part of the light.

The Eton Scorpion is a very cool all in one AM radio, FM, NOA, with flashlight, solar cells, crank and USB charger. It is about the size of a flashlight and it is nicely weather proofed.

I am interested to check out the NXT Tunebug surface sound technology which integrates into a helmet to generate audio from the surface of the helmet without covering the ears.

Stay tuned here, on Twitter and Facebook as I post tidbits as we work the show over the next 4 days.

Mike

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