Happy New Year2010!
More challenging times ahead!
Happy New Year2010!
More challenging times ahead!
`The positive energy vibrations in you enable you to evaluate, make and decide on the choices and decisions made. Ultimately, it will lead you to live a happier and a more meaningful life! Remember, you are blessed with the amazing power to tap this inner power within!!'...Yam TW
"What's happening?" I repeatedly asked myself when I got admitted into a hospital at Kunming, China, following a bout of diarrhoea, and blurry vision. The next morning, I woke up and was not able to see and it was the scariest moment in my life. I was totally confused not knowing if I could ever see again and unsure about my health problems then. Yes, it was in early January 2008, almost 2 years ago, that my life changed and so did my wife's. I could vividly remember in minute details those turbulent, emotional turmoil that gripped my life uninvited.
Endless negative thoughts constantly streamed through my mind at unbelievable rapid pace. I was not able to see but only hearing voices and I was in a state of total confusion, shock and despair! The emotional support from my family was second to none, especially my wife Hong and children. They were the most important factors that really helped me crossed the thin line separating life and the yonder. I knew then that I was not alone 'fighting the war' but I had my family with me going through the thick and thin of the new dark world. They were constantly by my side providing the moral and the emotional support. My thoughts started to shift focus, from myself to my family. I soon realised that I had to make a choice - to pick up the pieces and move forward or wallow in self pity and depression. More importantly, I had to decide to ease the pain and sufferings my family was going through, perhaps, the emotional pain was much worse than my own. I had to do something about it and started to think about the options, choices, decisions, etc. It was fortunate indeed that I was able to dig into my inner strength and made the right choices and decisions that enabled me to accept and come to terms with life.. it was indeed a challenging task to 'cross the barrier' and I had not looked back since. Soon, it will be two years since I last saw myself and my family. There is the one wish that I shall continue to make. This wishful thinking too, will stay forever etched permanently in my mind. Missed seeing the dogs too!
Making choices and decisions play an important role in our daily lives especially in mine. The power to happiness, the power to choose and decide on the new type of living skills, to adopt the assistive ICT skills, the freedom to socialise and interact with and among old and new friends, are among the wonderful aspects of life made possible thru' the process of making choices and decisions . So, I am glad that I was able to discover and tap into this power within myself. This certainly has helped me in providing the courage, the road maps and the inspirations to march on in life with positive strides.
More challenging times ahead
'Tis the time of year to say bye-bye to year 2009 and Hello to year 2010! We will again, be eagerly looking forward to another new year with much enthusiasm and vigour. Another new blank fresh page to 'write down' passionately the Do's and the Don'ts, planning and hoping for improvements in our lives, right the deeds/actions of any wrong doings that were part of some shortcomings and putting our lives, etc, into better perspective. A better year ahead! Nevertheless, and without any doubts, it is always good and strongly encouraged to push ahead with great positive attitudes and strides, caution too must be exercised in doing so. The thoughts, having taken into consideration the critical factors, that will determine our future needs, requirements and 'impossible dreams' that we were told to dream at times. We are matured enough to be able to prioritise, set goals and more importantly, know what we want in life after all these years of life experiences.
It is wise, too, to take some minutes to sit back and reflect about the events of the current year and perhaps, this will help us to take stock of what we had achieved, what we need to improve and really want in the future, to strive for in the coming year and the years ahead. Do remember not to neglect our health, family and friendship as these are nature's ingredients, enabling us to live a happy and meaningful life..
On this note, I would like to take the opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the MAB Cyber Club AJK members, the many 'unsung heroes/volunteers, and all the members, for their undivided support and the keen participation. Without these support, MABCC would not have been able to carry out successfully the planned activities during the course of the current year. Recognising too, the needs to meet and achieve the set objectives and goals, lots of hard work from all are still required over the next year or so.
Happy holidays to all!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2010!
More challenging times ahead, 2010 and forward!
More challenging times ahead, 2010 and forward!
Click the link below to listen to a favourite Christmas song of mine..
Click the link below to listen to a favourite Christmas song of mine..
The day when Wern-Yi was born she was a bundle of great joy to us and especially to my late mother. She was the happiest grandma in town. She had always yearned for a girl as she had 5 sons and no daughter. With Wern-Yi's birth she finally could proudly say she had a grand-daughter instead.
Because Wern-Yi was the only grand-daughter then, all the family members doted on her. Whatever she wanted she got. She was very 'manja', meaning she was spoilt. My wife Hong was the disciplinarian at home and on many occasions put her feet down to discipline Wern-Yi but the little girl just knew how to get her own way – through her father – me. This caused many disagreements between my wife and I on how to raise Wern-Yi.
Growing up Wern-Yi was very strong willed and stubborn. She was the one child that gave us the most heartaches and worries. Being a girl, of course, we worry over her safety each time she went out with her friends and coming home late. She would all the time assured us that she knew how to take care of herself and she did.
Wern-Yi may have her faults but she is one precious princess we love dearly. While she had her own spoilt ways, she's also a caring sister and daughter, always looking out for her younger brother. Whenever her mother had her days of rest in bed nursing her headaches, Wern -Yi would be the one to pop her head into the room to ensure mom is resting well and had a glass of water beside the bed. She would also be the one responsible in reminding the brothers of parent's special days, getting mom and dad birthday presents and cards, etc.
I lost my sight nearly 2 years ago. The moment she heard the news, she flew home from UK without hesitation. Her presence was a great comfort to her mom and me. She took charge in ensuring her Mom had her rest, her brothers took turns to take care of me while I was undergoing treatment in the hospital.
It is not unusual to hear Wern-Yi screaming from her room when she was at home in Malaysia. I vividly remember the one time when she did that, we thought the roof had collapsed on her. Both her 2 brothers and I ran to Wern-Yi's room and found her standing on her bed and she was pointing to the bathroom – terrified. Guess what we found in the bathroom! A cockroach. Yes, Wern-Yi is scared of creepy crawlies and insects.
When Wern-Yi got the visa to come to UK for a 2 year stint, little did we realize that she would meet her beau here and now she is going to be settling down in London.
Jeremy first came to Malaysia last year. No doubt I could not see him but I could feel that he is a fine young man, well mannered, soft spoken and a man of few words…just like me. So when you get two men of few words together I guess you hear either little or no conversation!! And that was our first meeting. It was better during the second trip. We got to know each other better and happy to note that he was serious with Wern-Yi. I could not be more happy for my daughter. On this note I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Jeremy to my family. Our friends and relatives back home also wish to extend their congratulations to the happy newly weds.
For the old Chinese custom, when daughters get married they are considered to be outsiders to the birth family. In our case Wern-Yi will always be our beloved daughter, I am not giving her away but rather gained another son. Jeremy, I am happy to have you as my son-in-law.
Jonathan, Hilary, thank you for having Wern-Yi as your daughter-in-law. Wern-Yi has been a loving daughter to both of us and I am sure she will be likewise to both of you too.
To the newly weds, I have these words for them. As you embark on this life journey as a married couple, work the marriage and not allowing the marriage to work itself. Do not take each other for granted, keep your communication channels open at all times, respect and appreciate the love that you have for each other. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango, but I would like to add that the music accompaniment (extended family) is equally important to make the tango beautiful. So I wish both of you – `Pak Thau tol low' (in cantonese). Literary means – white hair till old, or simply put happily ever after.
It is always hard to let go of one's child especially my only daughter. I am going to miss her very much. But Wern-Yi need to be set free to start her new life with Jeremy. Jeremy, I hand over my daughter to you for your caring and loving. You will have to deal with her fears of creepy crawlies and all her screams. Good luck.
Last but not least, my sincere appreciation to all who are here today for your presence has definitely made this day a memorable and joyous occasion.
More challenging times ahead!
The International Blind Golf Association (IBGA) was established in 1997 at a meeting held in Perth, Western Australia. Today there are currently nine member countries in the IBGA: Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the United States of America.
The earliest record of blind golf is from the 1920s in the USA when Clint Russell of Duluth, Minnesota, lost his sight when a tire exploded in his face. He began playing blind golf in 1925, gradually increasing his scores until Clint managed to shoot an 84 for 18 holes in the early 1930s.
A match between two blind Englishmen and two Americans took place before the Second World War. Organized blind golf tournaments have taken place in America since the United States Blind Golf Association was established in 1947.
The first hole-in-one recorded by a blind or visually impaired golfer in a National Open was scored on September 15, 2004 by Jan Dinsdale, a B2 lady from Northern Ireland. It was on the 115 yard second hole at Shannon Lake Golf Club in Kelowna, British Columbia during the Canadian Open Tournament
Blind golf includes only minor modifications to the standard rules of golf.
The principle of playing is that blind or partially sighted golf players have a sighted coach who assists the golfer in describing distance, direction and characteristics of the hole, and helps with club head alignment behind the ball, prior to the stroke. From this point, the golfer is on his own, and it is her/his skill that determines the resulting stroke.
Other than the coach, there is only one relaxation to the standard rules: blind or partially sighted golfers are allowed to ground their club in a hazard.
Blind golf competitions are set in classes determined by the golfer's level of sight, using the same categories as in other branches of sport played by the visually impaired:
B1 No light perception in either eye, or slight light perception but inability to recognise the shape of a hand at any distance or in any direction
B2 From ability to recognise the shape of a hand, up to visual acuity of 2/60, and/or visual field of less than 5 degrees
B3 visual acuity between 2/60 and 6/60, and/or visual field of between 5 degrees and 20 degrees.
From The New York Times:
Blindness first began creeping up on Barbara Campbell when she was a teenager, and by her late 30s, her eye disease had stolen what was left of her sight. Reliant on a talking computer for reading and a cane for navigating New York City, where she lives and works, Ms. Campbell, now 56, would have been thrilled to see something, anything.
Now, as part of a striking experiment, she can. So far, she can detect burners on her stove when making a grilled cheese, her mirror frame, and whether her computer monitor is on. She is beginning an intensive three-year research project involving electrodes surgically implanted in her eye, a camera on the bridge of her nose and a video processor strapped to her waist. The project, involving patients in the
Some of the 37 other participants further along in the project can differentiate plates from cups, tell grass from sidewalk, sort white socks from dark, distinguish doors and windows, identify large letters of the alphabet, and see where people are, albeit not details about them.
Linda Morfoot, 65, of Long Beach, Calif., blind for 12 years, says she can now toss a ball into a basketball hoop, follow her nine grandchildren as they run around her living room and "see where the preacher is" in church.
"For someone who's been totally blind, this is really remarkable," said Andrew P. Mariani, a program director at the National Eye Institute. "They're able to get some sort of vision."
Scientists involved in the project, the artificial retina, say they have plans to develop the technology to allow people to read, write and recognize faces. Advances in technology, genetics, brain science and biology are making a goal that long seemed out of reach restoring sight more feasible.
"For a long time, scientists and clinicians were very conservative, but you have to at some point get out of the laboratory and focus on getting clinical trials in actual humans," said Timothy J. Schoen, director of science and preclinical development for the Foundation Fighting Blindness. Now "there's a real push," he said, because "we've got a lot of blind people walking around, and we've got to try to help them."
More than 3.3 million Americans 40 and over, or about one in 28, are blind or have vision so poor that even with glasses, medicine or surgery, everyday tasks are difficult, according to the National Eye Institute, a federal agency. That number is expected to double in the next 30 years. Worldwide, about 160 million people are similarly affected.
"With an aging population, it's obviously going to be an increasing problem," said Michael D. Oberdorfer, who runs the visual neuroscience program for the National Eye Institute, which finances several sight-restoration projects, including the artificial retina. Wide-ranging research is important, he said, because different methods could help different causes of blindness.
The approaches include gene therapy, which has produced improved vision in people who are blind from one rare congenital disease. Stem cell research is considered promising, although far from producing results, and other studies involve a light-responding protein and retinal transplants.
Others are implanting electrodes in monkeys' brains to see if directly stimulating visual areas might allow even people with no eye function to see.
And recently, Sharron Kay Thornton, 60, from Smithdale, Miss., blinded by a skin condition, regained sight in one eye after doctors at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine extracted a tooth (her eyetooth, actually), shaved it down and used it as a base for a plastic lens replacing her cornea.
It was the first time the procedure, modified osteo-odonto-keratoprosthesis, was performed in this country. The surgeon, Dr. Victor L. Perez, said it could help people with severely scarred corneas from chemical or combat injuries.
Other techniques focus on delaying blindness, including one involving a capsule implanted in the eye to release proteins that slow the decay of light-responding cells. And with BrainPort, a camera worn by a blind person captures images and transmits signals to electrodes slipped onto the tongue, causing tingling sensations that a person can learn to decipher as the location and movement of objects.
Ms. Campbell's artificial retina works similarly, except it produces the sensation of sight, not tingling on the tongue. Developed by Dr. Mark S. Humayun, a retinal surgeon at the
It is so far being used in people with retinitis pigmentosa, in which photoreceptor cells, which take in light, deteriorate.
Gerald J. Chader, chief scientific officer at the University of Southern California's Doheny Retinal Institute, where Dr. Humayun works, said it should also work for severe cases of age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of vision loss in older people.
With the artificial retina, a sheet of electrodes is implanted in the eye. The person wears glasses with a tiny camera, which captures images that the belt-pack video processor translates into patterns of light and dark, like the "pixelized image we see on a stadium scoreboard," said Jessy D. Dorn, a research scientist at Second Sight Medical Products, which produces the device, collaborating with the Department of Energy. (Other research teams are developing similar devices.)
The video processor directs each electrode to transmit signals representing an object's contours, brightness and contrast, which pulse along optic neurons into the brain.
Currently, "it's a very crude image," Dr. Dorn said, because the implant has only 60 electrodes; many people see flashes or patches of light.
Brian Mech, Second Sight's vice president for business development, said the company was seeking federal approval to market the 60-electrode version, which would cost up to $100,000 and might be covered by insurance. Also planned are 200- and 1,000-electrode versions; the higher number might provide enough resolution for reading. (Dr. Mech said a maximum electrode number would eventually be reached because if they are packed too densely, retinal tissue could be burned.)
"Every subject has received some sort of visual input," he said. "There are people who aren't extremely impressed with the results, and other people who are." Second Sight is studying what affects results, including whether practice or disease characteristics influence the brain's ability to relearn how to process visual signals.
People choose when to use the device by turning their camera on. Dean Lloyd, 68, a Palo Alto, Calif., lawyer, was "pretty disappointed" when he started in 2007, but since his implant was adjusted so more electrodes responded, is "a lot more excited about it," he said. He uses it constantly, seeing "borders and boundaries" and flashes from highly reflective objects, like glass, water or eyes.
With Ms. Morfoot's earlier 16-electrode version, which registers objects as horizontal lines, she climbed the
Kathy Blake, 58, of Fountain Valley, Calif., said she mainly wanted to help advance research. But she uses it to sort laundry, notice cars and people, and on the Fourth of July, to "see all the fireworks," she said.
Ms. Campbell, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for New York's Commission for the Blind and Visually Handicapped, has long been cheerfully self-sufficient, traveling widely from her fourth-floor walk-up, going to the theater, babysitting for her niece in
But little things rankle, like not knowing if clothes are stained and needing help shopping for greeting cards. Everything is a "gray haze like being in a cloud," she said. The device will not make her "see like I used to see," she said. "But it's going to be more than what I have. It's not just for me it's for so many other people that will follow me."
Ms. Campbell's "realistic view of her vision" and willingness to practice are a plus, said Aries Arditi, senior fellow in vision science at Lighthouse International, a nonprofit agency overseeing her weekly training, which includes practice moving her head so the camera captures images and interpreting light as objects.
"In 20 years, people will think it's primitive, like the difference between a Model T and a Ferrari," said Dr. Lucian Del Priore, an ophthalmology surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, who implanted Ms. Campbell's electrodes. "But the fact is, the Model T came first."
Ms. Campbell would especially like to see colors, but, for now, any color would be random flashes, Dr. Arditi said.
But she saw circular lights at a restaurant, part of a light installation at an art exhibition. "There's a lot to learn," she said. Still, "I'm, like, really seeing this."
More challenging days ahead.
Now, when I was handed the microphone, I was told that I could sit down comfortably on the chair while giving the talk. I chose to stand as I knew from past experiences standing would make me more at ease and relaxed. Moreover, this would provide me freedom to ‘walkabout’ and checked the reaction and response from the audience during my talk. I shall always remember the first few moments, standing and looking out in the dark, despite knowing fully well that the hall was bright and well lit up. Standing tall while sharing my experiences with this special group of friends, I was looking and glancing all over the hall, not seeing faces but hearing voices. When I started to introduce myself, I could hear the silence and this gave me the signal that the crowd was giving me their attention. With confidence, I shared my first topic on how I had coped with my loss of sight, and going forward with life during the past 12 months, making choices and decisions, relearning new skills and making new friends.
During the talk it dawned on me than I did miss seeing the body language and facial expressions/reactions of the audience as this would normally helped me to amend or add more ’juices’ to my talk. Standing while giving a talk, also allowed one an authority over the audience and taking charge, so to speak. I was glad that I made the decision to speak from my heart and my talk proceeded well.
Being a graduate of Automotive Engineering, I was able to share some information on cars with this group of blind audience who will not have the opportunity of steering a car in their life. It was a challenge for me to explain in the simplest layman’s terms about the car’s technical descriptions, how the car engine work, etc. It was certainly an eye opener for the audience, even for the sighted volunteers, as I was told later. I had to be on the same wavelength as the audience in order to explain and more importantly, get them to understand, appreciate and learn some basic facts about cars in general. I could hear all the oohs! and aahs! I was moved by these sounds of positive engagements, indicating the audience attention to my talk. The intelligent questions asked caught me by surprise as they were from people who had never driven before. I was very glad to have answered all the questions to their satisfaction.
At the end of my presentation, gauging from the excitement and response from the audience, I knew that I had done a satisfactory job, my first public speaking in the dark, an art that still has to be fine tuned and lots more to learn. Personally, this invaluable experience is another milestone in my quest of moving forward in life. Another barrier crossed, another skill relearned.
More challenging times ahead!
"I had the opportunity to 'test drive' this latest iPhone today at NCBM, National Council of the Blind, Malaysia. The iPhone was brought in from
My personal brief reviews about the iPhone 3GS:
General featureand Physical outlook:
The iPhone has a large screen which covers almost the entire length and width of this palm size phone. The large screen offers the distinct advantage for the 'touch and tap' modes and functions providing greater flexibility/mobility around and about the screen. There is only one key button at the bottom of the screen device, the Home key. However, the advantage of the large screen size has its negative side too. For a person with a small hand or palm, for example, some ladies, to hold such wide bodied phone may not appear to be comfortable.
The moment one touches the screen with the tip of a finger, the response from the screen reader is instantaneous. reading the word, menu list, folder name, etc. Similarly, in learning to use and operate any other newly acquired gadget, one needs to spend time exploring and familiarising the various modes and functions available on the phone. The female synthesized speech did not sound audible or clear at times, particularly certain pronounciation which will not be an issue after some time However, the phone's audio sound quality test drive today was somewhat disappointing, a bit of distortion from its built in speaker. It is simply amazing that one can just use one's finger to touch and activate the various modes and functions, making and answering calls, creating and sending out text messages, surfing the internet, etc.
This phone is a marvellous technological creation. In spite of only having a short and brief 'test drive' of this latest iPhone, I will definitely like to have one once the price becomes more affordable."
Yes, walking tall alone, proud with my achievement. Following my last posting `a morning train ride’ I felt such a great sense of achievement. This inspired me to move forward, that is, to grow out from the ‘baby steps’ learned so far. It was time for me to crushed the ‘fear barrier’ of walking alone, time to learn to walk tall, independently with confidence. ‘Just do it’ and ‘Walk the Talk.’ Hence, for the past couple of weeks, I stayed focus, shifted into the aggressive gear mode in improving and upgrading my O&M (Orientation and Mobility) skills to the next level in achieving my goal of becoming independent as much as I possibly could.
“Ready for today’s morning walk?” Peter M coolly asked me as he turned up for our appointment at MAB, Malaysian Association for the Blind. Peter M, in spite of his hectic schedule, had agreed to allocate more time in my O&M training lessons. He patiently walked with me, stopping several times to explain, describe the surroundings so that I could register a clear mental image or picture in my mind. This mind mapping skill was important for me to know as it would help me to visualize and allowing me to focus and be aware of the potential danger spots during my ‘walk alone walks.’ Peter M reminded me that there was no need to rush and he started to show me how to walk safely to a nearby destination and he would increase the walking distance as the days go by.
“OK! I am ready” I said to Peter M who had told me to walk to YMCA’s main gate and he would be following from behind but not shouting instructions this time round. However, he would keep me under observation from a distance. As usual, with my ole’ faithful white walking cane guiding me, I started to walk out from MAB’s main administrative office, to the main gate and began my walk to the intended destination. Like all the earlier walks, extreme focus and concentration had to come into play. I reminded myself to stay calm, utilize my sharpened hearing sense and mind mapping skills and more importantly, enjoy the walk. I could hear the traffic noise, differentiate the source and direction of the noise. This actually helped me to orientate my bearings and walking direction. At the same time, probing the tiled walking tracks along the pavement with the white cane for guidance also kept me on the right track. Suddenly, I realized I could not hear Peter M’s voice since I walked out from MAB gate. `Has he deserted me, and literary left me to manage on my own?’ I asked myself. To console myself I was hoping he was somewhere around. I continued with my walk. The most scary and challenging part of the walk to me was the traffic lights junction. It was located at the cross road intersection and I had to cross over to the opposite side to continue onwards to my destination. My ole’ faithful slowly guided me to the end of the pavement and to check my position I had to `square up` i.e. stood against the pavement with my heels touching the kerb. This would mean I would be facing the opposite pavement. Squaring up also would enable me to walk straight across to the opposite side when I had decided it was the right time to cross. I had to really focus, listened to the traffic noise, making sure the vehicles are not moving. Unfortunately, the traffic lights warning buzzer was not working. So I had to be cautious. I could feel my heart beating fast and began to sweat while making the decision to cross or not to cross the road at the opportune time. As I coolly started to walk across the road, I could hear the vehicle noise on my right, indicating the vehicle was stationary and the traffic light was in the red mode. The short walk across the road seemed like ages, and I was so relieved when I reached the opposite side, albeit a bit out of alignment. I had veered off course almost to the road but luckily at the edge of the pavement. I heaved a sign of relief and stopped for some moments to catch my breath and re-checked my bearings in relation to the destination. “Not too bad,” Peter M’s voice was heard and in all honesty, I had forgotten all about him during the exciting moments when I thought I was all alone in the world crossing the intersection. What a relief to hear his voice. I then proceeded to walk along the pavement, and had to avoid some morning food stalls located near a backyard morning market. Well, at least some of the food stall operators were kind enough to warn me or help me to divert away from their ‘danger spots’ that is, the tables and chairs placed along the walking tracks and footways. Again, I had to cross the one-way street to get to the YMCA main gate. This crossing was not as scary as the former at the traffic lights. I had to remember to avoid walking into the street lamp post that stood out like a ‘sore thumb’ in the middle of the tiled walking tracks, just outside the YMCA gate. Peter M had warned me of this obstruction earlier. “What a walk,” I said to myself. After a few minutes of cooling down and a chat with Peter M, I turned around and walked back to MAB, without hearing Peter M’s voice again until we finally arrived at MAB’s office. The return walking trip was equally exciting with me getting jittery at the traffic lights crossing again. I had to stand, wait and made sure that I was safe and confident before crossing. Again, it felt like ages just to cross the road at the traffic lights. I was mentally exhausted and my shirt, too, was totally drenched with sweat. More importantly, I was a satisfied walker! Certainly, I shall be looking forward to more of such independent walks, which I strongly and truly believe, will prepare and equip me with invaluable skill to face the challenges ahead.
Phew! More challenging times ahead!