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The Best of the Blog
If you have read any of my work, I hope you have read these posts!

Friday, September 27, 2013

@ the gym, woman leans in my face: "It's so great you're here! I'm a cancer survivor myself & we have 2 get in here & do it." Uh, ok #INHTIY

          The tweet above (in the headline) generated a few comments on Facebook that actually helped me express the thought a little better than 140 characters allowed. One person said that she was “sorry” people were so ignorant but that the woman “probably meant well.” Another commenter shared his own story while suggesting that you just have to take such comments “with a grain of salt.” I felt a need to elaborate. So I did:

          It’s no big deal any more. It happens frequently, though not quite with as much gusto as this woman offered, nor the proximity. I was adjusting a machine, and when I looked up she’s literally leaning down screaming at me. But with the book out, I couldn’t resist the tweet/post. I was tempted to say, “There’s this new book out I want you to read.” My thing is, what exactly do these people think we should say in response? I mean, seriously, they’ve essentially made a point to walk over, stick their foot in their mouth, and make it abundantly clear that while they feel compelled to connect in some small way with the disabled person, they are at a complete loss as to just how to do that. Somehow, “Hey, how ya doing?” never crosses their minds.

          One of my hopes all along has been that the book itself will generate conversation or communication much like yesterday’s interaction on Facebook. I agree with the commenter who suggested that the woman probably meant well. And, certainly, I offered the polite nod and “Yeah, sure,” comment she was looking for. But hopefully the commenter and readers of the book will start to understand that we need to go beyond thinking that meaning well but not quite understanding that people with disabilities deserve the same respect offered (or that should be offered) to everyone else isn’t enough.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Photos, Video from M.S. Ride detailed in the book

          This year’s M.S. Ride is fast approaching for many, including some of my friends from the Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports. I wanted to wish everyone the best of luck this coming weekend. I hope all of the cyclists have a safe and problem-free ride!

          Originally, I had planned to include some of the photos from my experience in the 2010 ride in my book, but the extra expense of adding pictures in the self-publishing process caused me to have to leave them out. This week seems as good as any to re-post the pictures (plus a couple extra) from the original essay that now concludes I’m Not Here to Inspire You. I’m happy to include a video taken by a friend of our family, Michael Avella, just after Team PCAS crossed the finish line. (Michael also participated in the ride with another team, and actually helped my mom navigate her way through trafficafter she provided support for Reid and I at each rest stop throughout the dayjust in time to see us finish.)
Reid, myself, another rider, and Pitzie from PCAS, waiting to start
Just before we started (and before sunrise!).
Reid and I at the first rest stop.
Reid and I at the first rest stop.
Picture from behind of me riding down a stretch of road.
Finding my groove!

A shot of the Causeways from a distance.
The Causeways into Ocean City. Can't say I wasn't warned!
Picture of the second Causeway from afar.
The last obstacle was the biggest. Causeway #2.
Reid, myself, John and Bruce, just after the Causeways.
We made it! This is just after the second bridge.

Team Picture
We stopped for a team picture just after the bridges. Team PCAS – Steve Muth (tandem captain), Dave Neibauer, Fred Neibauer (tandem captain), Reid Overturf (tandem and team captain), Doug McCullough, Bruce Lynsky (team captain), Evan (Fred's friend), James Woodson, Alton Davis, Al Leaf (tandem captain), Rachel Slamon (team captain), Rob Quinn, John Curran, Gavin Kerr (PCAS board member), Dave Bennett (tandem captain), John Siemiarowski (tandem and team captain) and Pat Bost.
Frontal shot of myself, Reid, Bruce, and other PCAS riders, very close to the finish.
The home stretch.

Myself, fist in the air, Reid, and Gavin Kerr, crossing the finish line.
The Mighty Quinn fist pump, as John called it.

Frontal shot of the entire PCAS finishing.
Great shot of Team PCAS finishing strong!
Mom and I hugging after the ride.
Mom was there the whole way, as usual.

Mom, myself, and Reid, just after the ride.
Mom, myself, and Reid, just after the ride.

This short video shows me just after finishing . . . and not wanting to pedal another foot! Michael and others can be heard cheering in the background.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Over-analyzing the Guinness Commercial

I’ve seen numerous Facebook posts praising the Guinness commercial showing a bunch of guys playing wheelchair basketball. Seemingly sad music (my opinion) plays over an obviously competitive game, with at least a couple guys tumbling to the floor. A monotone voice says, “Dedication. Loyalty. Friendship. The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character.” Toward the end of the ad all but one guy is revealed to be able-bodied as the rest simply get out of the chairs they were using and leave the gym with the other guy who continues to use the wheelchair. A couple of the players are heard saying, “Gettin’ better at this,” and “Next week, buddy.” The commercial ends with them all sharing a beer together at a bar.

Ok, nice advertisement. In fact, I would put it in the close-to-great category. I’m not sure it comes anywhere near the level of having people “utterly captivated” that the Huffington Post placed on it, but no doubt many people do buy into their suggestion that it offers “some serious heartstring-pulling at the end.

I liked the ad the first time I saw it, and thought it offered a positive message. A bunch of friends find a way to compete with a member of their group who happens to have a disability. The music was a bit dramatic, and I winced just a little at the “buddy” reference, but I fully admit that response may be nitpicking. I have a friend who uses “buddy” all the time with all of his friends, not just me, and, obviously, so do many people. I’ve probably just had a few too many people I just met want to be overly friendly and call me “buddy.”

That said, the response to the ad puzzles me a bit. I’ve seen at least two women, both involved in competitive adaptive sports, post the commercial. Neither gushed, but they were certainly positive about the advertisement. I’m not sure what qualifies as a good showing on Twitter, but the ad seems to have gotten plenty of very positive feedback on the social media site.

I’m just not totally sure why. I mean, I like the ad, and I think it’s a step in the right direction as far as depicting disability on television (or anywhere else). I’m just surprised to see people going to the point of wanting to praise it on social media.

Of course, that’s not exactly a high standard. We’ve all seen people post the fact that they’re bored, eating a sandwich, and God knows what else. Unfortunately, we all know what else because they post it for all the world to see.

But most commercials don’t get posted by individuals on Twitter or Facebook. Perhaps that’s because most of them are unbelievably stupid. If I saw one more car commercial pretending to be a summer movie I was going to swear off TV forever. (OK, not really, but I was seriously considering not watching anything that I hadn’t DVR’d.) And someday someone will have to explain to me why it’s a good idea to depict people as completely stupid until they find some 50 dollar product that’s going to make life so much better. I always wonder if viewers are supposed to watch these ads and think, “Yep, I’m that dumb, I should get that!” Suggesting your potential customers are idiots wouldn’t seem like a good marketing technique.

Certainly, the Guinness commercial is a much smoother display of attempting to attract customers. The beer producer seems to want to tie their product to these guys who find a way to include their friend. There’s a sense of the noble in what they’re doing, according to the commercial.

And that’s where I wince just a little more. Inclusion is obviously a good thing in this context, and, sadly, it’s still far from the norm. But, noble? In fact, anyone paying too much attention to the ad would realize it’s not all that realistic. Unless these guys all work at a rehab, or at least one of them does, the odds are they don’t have easy access to a bunch of wheelchairs made for playing sports. They’re certainly not just getting up and leaving them behind until the next game. Again, that last point might be a nitpick, but when you have lived with the abundance of obstacles to actually participating in sports in the way this ad illustrates, you tend to notice such things.

Finally, I had one other thought the first time I watched this commercial. How come there’s only one guy with a disability in the game? In my experience it may actually be the most realistic part of the commercial that I’m over analyzing. It would be damn difficult for me to get together with just one other person with a disability that was similar to mine for a pick-up game of basketball. There are too many logistics involved to get into here. But clearly Guinness overlooked other potential obstacles to the game they depicted, so it shouldn’t have been too hard to show at least one other guy with an actual disability. A cynic might wonder if the lack of even one other guy with a disability suggests that people with disabilities have no interest in competing with each other; they might question whether the message is that it’s better to be participating with able-bodied players.

I’m really not trying to be a cynic here. This is just a blog post. It’s little more than me thinking aloud. Having recently self-published a book, my putting it in writing on a blog now seems far less substantial knowing that, unlike a book, it can be wiped away with a couple keystrokes. Not that I plan on hitting “delete” any time soon.

Overall, it’s a very good ad. It is a step in the right direction. But if it’s popularity really is based on pulling on the heartstrings and people essentially saying, “Aw, they let the disabled guy play,” it may not be as big of a step as many people seem to think. 


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The #INHTIY Book Tour hits Delaware!

Many thanks to Joe Milewski (and Lucille) for being the first to join our tour! Weve already reached our second state! Joe shared these great shots at the University of Delaware on Facebook, saying, I’m Not Here to Inspire You “is a must read ... available on-line in paperback and on Kindle. Join the ‘The #INHTIY Book Tour’ (please click SHARE). Lets get Rob On The Ellen Show #getRobJQonEllen.
Joe holding the book in front of a gate that says University of Delaware
Joe holding the book in front of a wall with a large sign / logo that says Dare to be first. University of Delaware

Thursday, September 5, 2013

“The #INHTIY Book Tour” Begins!

          I celebrated the publication of I’m Not Here to Inspire You with my friend and editor of the book, John Ziff, at our favorite lunch spot – Slack’s Hoagie Shack on Baltimore Pike. We decided it was the perfect spot to kickoff “The #INHTIY Book Tour.”
Book shown in front of menu
The #INHTIY Book Tour begins at
Slack's Hoagie Shack on Baltimore Pike.
John and Rob with book in the restaurant
John Ziff and I on the first stop or The #INHTIY Book Tour.

          I need you to help to make the tour a success. Let’s get the word out about I’m Not Here to Inspire You across the Philadelphia area and across the country. If you enjoyed the book, join the tour by taking a picture of the book at a famous spot or just your favorite location. Be creative and don’t forget to let us know where the picture was taken along with any thoughts you’d like to add. Tag me on Facebook or mention me on Twitter to join the tour. You can also e-mail it to me with your details and I’ll post it.

          Let’s bring “The #INHTIY Book Tour” coast to coast and to all 50 states! My ultimate goal is to make the final stop in California . . . on The Ellen DeGeneres Show!  #getRobJQonEllen

          I’m hoping to get the tour to the Art Museum and some surrounding areas soon, but don’t worry about duplicates. I want your pictures by the Rocky statue, Boat House Row, Citizens Bank Park, the Link, and wherever you want. Going to the Jersey Shore for a late summer dip in the ocean? I’d love a shot by the water! Like I said, be creative, have some fun, and keep it (relatively) clean.

          Thank you in advance.
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