Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Monday

Memorial Day is here and it marks the unofficial start of my first summer here in Missoula. It's shaping up to be a busy summer and I'm sure I'll be sitting in class before I know it.

On Saturday night we went to the Adams Center to attend a performance of the famous Lipizzaner Stallions. It was an incredible show and the talent of these horses is truly amazing. The Lipizzaner's originated from Austria and they were mostly used as war horses during the Renaissance. They are born a brown color but at around 10 years of age they complete their transformation to white. The Stallions are trained daily for several years before they are eligible to perform.

I thought I'd start attempting to bring a bit of technology to my blog. This post has a brief YouTube video we took during the performance. I was surprised at how easy it was to put together and I look forward to putting more video of my adventures here. I have yet to experiment with shooting on our digital video camera. There's a cable I need to buy and then I can edit the video on my computer.

Last week I finally got my new custom trach. There are still problems and unfortunately I need to visit another ENT to figure out the trach mess and how we're going to treat my ulcer. Dealing with this has gotten old but hopefully this new doctor will have some new ideas.

The Pugs are all doing good and Ugga is doing great after getting spayed last Tuesday. She's back to her frisky self and on Friday she'll get her stitches out. Our old guy is getting a wheelchair from Doggon' Wheels over in Bozeman. I'm sure he'll be rolling all over the house and looking for trouble.

Happy Memorial Day and I hope everyone has a safe and fun summer season!



Monday, May 21, 2007

To Helena and back

It's been cool & rainy the past couple days here in Missoula and it made for a quiet and laidback weekend. The weather sure took a big swing downward after we experienced the upper 80's late last week.

We were in Helena last Thursday and Friday so Dustin could attend a meeting. Traveling was pretty good but there were some difficulties that were awaiting our arrival at our hotel. The hotel had occupied our reserved room and put us in a different room that wasn't accessible. It was frustrating to say the least and the night manager was less than sympathetic to our situation.

After much argument and with the help of a dear friend, the hotel finally worked towards accommodating us. In the end things worked out but it's nothing we should have had to deal with. Oh well at least we finally were able to eat at the Brewhouse. We tried a couple times during the legislative session but there was always a line out the door.

The Brewhouse brews several different beers and they have a restaurant with outstanding food. Was nice to wind down with Theresa and Dustin after a long day.

I'm in the process of getting registered for freshman orientation and I'll most likely be attending the July session. Next week I meet with my rehabilitation counselor and hopefully we can get some details nailed down. Seems like so much to do but it will be fine.

Take care for now and I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. The picture this week is of our old fella Prince while he's snuggling with his Uncle Mark :-)

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Today I received some news that I never thought I'd hear. I received my acceptance letter and now officially I'm a student at the University of Montana! This news comes with much happiness as well as anticipation and a bit of nervousness. Where this new road will lead remains to be seen but at least I'm on the road and ready for the journey ahead. As college approachs in late August, I'll keep the updates coming.

As I was getting ready to type this latest update, I realized that I forgot to share about my visit to MonTech last month. In case I didn't mention, MonTech is based on the campus of the University of Montana and it's an assistive technology resource center for people with disabilities.

Dustin and I made this appointment so we could demo some of the cutting edge computer access technology that's available. They setup the ERICA EyeGaze system and the Brain Fingers for us to try.

I tried out ERICA first and it was quite fascinating. The ERICA system allows a person to operate a computer by looking at what they want to click on. It achieves this by a camera that focuses on the pupil of the eye. It detects what your looking at and it was pretty easy to use and configure. The ERICA also is a tablet style computer and it's fairly portable. The downside is the $7,000 pricetag but there are various funding sources available to prospective users.

The next thing I tried was the Brain Fingers. The Brain Fingers was also pretty awesome and the technology it uses is like something straight out of Star Trek. To use the Brain Fingers you put on a headband type device called a Cyberlink. The Cyberlink detects electric signals from your facial muscles, eye movements and brain activity. The Brain Fingers software converts these signals into virtual fingers that operate the keyboard and/or mouse.

Using the Brain Fingers is a strange feeling at first but with practice it does work. I was put through several games that teach you how to train your brain waves. It's kinda hard to further explain but the Brain Fingers web site has a video showing the technology.

Our visit to MonTech was a fun way to spend an afternoon. The gals at MonTech were fantastic and very helpful in showing us these devices.

That's the latest from Big Sky country for now. Below are the links if you want to check out the products we tried out.

ERICA EyeGaze System

Brain Fingers

Dasher - a freeware program that is an alternative style onscreen keyboard