Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Going through a Drive-Thru.

People go through drive thru’s all the time! It is almost second nature for most people. I on the other hand, had never gone through a drive-thru. It was my thinking deaf people just couldn’t use them. After all, they didn’t have subtitles, no way in hell I could understand the person speaking to me. I would just go inside and order instead.

However, I found myself having to utilize a drive-thru for the first time last year back in 2007. I had just landed from Las Vegas in STL, late at night, around 10:30pm. Most McDonalds I knew were open all night in St. Louis. So I drove to one near my apartment and drove up.


The Lobby was closed. Crap, crap, crap…I was starving too! I didn’t feel like making anything back at my apartment. Then I looked and remembered the drive thru was open. Hmmh. Should I go for it? Well, if I want to eat I have to!

I pulled out my cell phone and called the one person on planet earth who would be able to help me out!

“Mom? Hi, it’s Alex; I need your help getting through a drive thru please”

“Alex? What… I thought you were in Vegas, and why are you calling so late, ALEX its 10:30 AND YOU WANT TO EAT NOW?!”

Well! I heard THAT loud and clear through my Cell!

“Mom, I am starving to death and McDonalds has a drive thru open and I need your help getting through, so I wanted to know what to expect.”

“Oh Geez Alex, it’s late. But all right, first you need to figure out what you want then pull up to the window. A loud beep will ring through alerting you drove over the hose type thing on the ground. You may or may not hear it (I actually didn’t). Then someone is going to speak and probably say “Welcome to McDonalds, May I take your order”

I acknowledged the instructions so far, and I pulled up to the machine. I was half expecting THIS guy to pop out at me! :)

 I didn’t hear a beep. Hmmh, maybe I didn’t pull up close enough—HELLO WELCOME TO MCDONALDS, MAY I TAKE YOUR ORDER PLEASE?! Rang through the window and right into my face!

I told him I wanted a 6 piece chicken nuggets, a Large Coke and medium fries.

“Now Alex, he is going to repeat your order and ask would you like anything else, you then say No, and he will tell you how much the price is and then depending on the location you pay at the first window and get the food in the 2nd window or you do both at the same window”

I said “No thanks, that’s all” after I heard a 2nd line come through (had no earthly idea what he said…) and I DID hear him say the price though! $6.35! I had a 10 dollar bill so I was good! I had forgotten this place only accepts cash through the drive thru so luckily I had cash on me! I was a good boy, and didn’t gamble in Vegas!

I drove up to the first window and handed him my Ten. He gave me the change back and told me to proceed to the 2nd window to pick up my order. I thanked mom for all her help, said Love ya and good night and hung up. Good Old momma for doing that for me! I pulled up to the 2nd window, and got my order, asked for BBQ sauce! Gotta have the BBQ Sauce!!!

 Got my order, and I drove home. I was so excited I was able to go thru a drive thru. Yes I had my momma help me, but could have easily misunderstood them and screwed up my order even more. But now I know that I can go through a drive-thru now!

Has anyone else had any experience going through a drive thru yourself? Funny incidents, horrible incidents? I would love to hear them!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Trips, and Mileage Runs!

Many of you all know I love to travel. I do it a lot and I enjoy it so much. Well I have two more trips coming up one is a mileage run and one is to visit someone else. I sometimes fly for the fun of it. Yes, I know, it is weird. Some people collect stamps, I collect Airline Miles. Whose miles do I collect? I typically fly on American Airlines. Yes I know I am an employee of Southwest Airlines, and used to work for them but I do like to fly First Class occasionally, something, Southwest Airlines does not offer!

What is a mileage run you ask? Thanks for asking! It is people like me who truly are crazy, nuts and simply pay money to the airline to fly them to a destination, without leaving the airport, and turning right around back to where they came from. I have done this a lot. I am doing another mileage run on American Airlines to Miami, Florida-MIA. I will be flying St. Louis (STL) to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD). Then two hour’s layover in ORD. Then I will be flying the famous Boeing 767-300 aircraft.

A huge wide body plane, with two aisles in the plane. (This is not the first time I have been on a wide body, but would be the first time on a Boeing wide body and a 767 no less!)

Then I will fly this aircraft to MIA Airport. I will get off the plane, and I have literally 52 minutes in MIA Airport. Yes, you heard. No, I will not stay overnight in Miami, go see the city or stay in a hotel. No need to. Not the point of my trip.

I will catch another Boeing 767-300, back to ORD, and hopefully upgrade to First Class in the process as well to try and sample out one of the brand new business class seats they offer in Business and First Class. It is luxurious and so comfortable and relaxing to fly in. I land back into ORD, to connect again to one of the last flights back home to St. Louis (STL) Airport. I then am done with my mileage run, and I go home. I wait a few days, and see my mileage has been posted.

What do the miles offer exactly?! Well again glad you asked! Airlines typically offer two sets of miles you have regular miles which can be earned by regular flying, hotel stays, credit card purchases really anything. Then you have what is called ELITE Miles. These elite miles are ONLY earned by actually flying on the airline and for every mile you fly actually you get on elite mile back in return. After so many miles you then become and have an elite status. The program differs for every airline, but in American Airlines, after reaching 25,000 elite miles you become Gold. The benefits then help you out in the future. It can be anywhere from free upgrades to First Class, priority in check in, fast lane for security, being able to check bags for free without having to pay for it. It really varies for every airline. What if you are not trying to be elite but just want to earn miles with the airline? That is fine too! Most airlines offer a free, round trip ticket in coach domestically within the 48 states after 25,000 miles. That is the minimum. Then again it varies by airline per program.

In AA’s case, 25,000 miles gets you a free, round trip coach ticket domestically in 48 states. 30,000 miles gets you a free, round trip ticket to Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean and sometimes Hawaii also. 35,000 and beyond, sometimes 40K, 45K, again it depends on destination and class of service (Coach, Business or First Class), such as Europe, Asia, that sort of thing. In my case, I am doing what is called a Gold Challenge where I must fly 5,000 elite POINTS within a three month period, once I meet that, I become Gold Elite Status and I get the benefits with American Airlines, like I listed up above.

Naturally, every time I fly and travel to visit someone, I try as hard as I can to be booked on American Airlines to continue the mileage. This is why I urge anyone who flies, whether 5 times a year or once a year, to SIGN UP for the mileage program, it is free and easy to do. If you all have any questions, comments feel free to ask me here how you can earn your way to possibly flying first class as much as you can!

Now you are probably just wondering HOW many miles, hours, and flights I have flown on?! Good question! I have so far up to date, flown 214 flights, flown 133, 830 miles, and flown about a total of 353 hours of flight time so far! Where have I been flight wise? Here is a route map showing it!

Now, who am I exactly visiting? I will be flying to Philly to go see the Bionic Woman, Miss. Abbie Cranmer! I whined to her that I had to see her SOME weekend, and she goes “Well get your damn ass up here!” So we collaborated on a weekend, and she got the idea it would be super awesome if I flew up for the “Walk for Hearing” event (which she mentioned and I linked to) and attended this with her while visiting her at the same time! I agreed and got to looking for airfares. The date we agreed on was weekend of October 18th, same as the Walk for Hearing event. So I decided to fly up October 17th, and return October 19th.

I found a great deal on American Airlines, for 200 dollars round trip. I would be connecting through Chicago-O’Hare International Airport once again! Oh boy. This airport is known for tremendous delays, and is one of the world’s busiest airport, and the 2nd busiest airport in the United States in terms of passenger movement. Once I got the itinerary underway, she and I texted back and forth making sure the times worked out and they did. BOOK IT, CONFIRM IT yelled Abbie to me through the text. Ok, Ok! I AM BOOKING!!!

So, with that, my itinerary was booked! So yet another trip begins for my next mileage run! I am looking SO forward to meeting Abbie and sharing a wonderful weekend with her. We have had so many fun times chatting back and forth it is literally going to be like seeing an old friend again. I hope Philly and your town is ready for me cause once I arrive, it is gonna be a rowdy weekend!


Friday, August 22, 2008

Finding a Parking Spot...

Anyone ever play the game; find a spot in the Car parking lot?! I just had to play it again today! Not fun! Add that to raining non stop, thundering, lightning, and I didn’t have my umbrella as well. This is how my lovely Friday began for me…

I woke up at 8am with the plan to LEAVE on the dot at 8:15am to get there by 8:30am to have time to park around, walk and find my new class. I noticed it was raining everywhere, sideways, up, down name a direction it was doing just that! Oh shit. I was going to need my umbrella because I knew the closest parking lot on campus near the building I was going to have class in still required a walk in the rain.

I went to my car to get my umbrella to put it in my backpack. Uh Oh..It wasn’t there. What the H?! I texted mom to ask where the umbrella was because I hate getting wet in the rain, and getting wet period. People who know me know I am very stringent about that. Plus I wear hearing aids too and it gets wet all the time when I don’t have my umbrella. Now before anyone says take it out, and put it away. Exactly how? I put it in my pants and my backpack, but if its raining my pants will still get wet as does my backpack and it HAS happened before so I won’t do that again.

I was so frustrated that I couldn’t find my umbrella. I never misplace, someone had to have borrowed it or took it to use this morning. It is always in my car or backpack so once I see it is raining I can grab it quickly with ease. It was to the point I seriously was going to skip the class on the account of no umbrella. Ya ridiculous ain’t it, but I was seriously wondering where it was.

With the rain not showing any signs of stopping, I sighed and thought I gotta go. I got in my car and drove to the parking lot. Of course I was really running late and didn’t get there until 8:45am, for a Nine am class. I got to the parking lot and time to play the game! I set my pod to play music because this was going to be a long time. I drove around, in circles. Around, and around where I stop, nobody knows!

I continue to drive, and it seems as soon as I passed a spot, some car pulled out and I couldn’t get in! Nuts! Argh! I keep going again. If I took a test on every space and concrete barrier I passed in the parking lot I’d have an A for the semester! I continue to drive around over and over. Same thing again, another car always coming out and I keep missing it!

I was also texting mom at the same time to figure out WHERE MY DAMN UMBRELLA IS! No one knew and I was getting impatient but oh well, my concern at the moment was to find a parking lot! I turned another corner and then saw a Guy coming out from my right. Hmmh, is he leaving? I saw him take his keys out. Yes he was pulling out! (No not sexually Mind you!) But while we are on that subject, pulling out in time doesn’t always make it safe sex! Use condoms! Ok after that public announcement I shall move on…

I saw him unlock his car and get in. I crawled my car up behind to ensure no one else was gonna come in from behind me and take my spot. I tightened my grip on the wheels. Placed my foot on the gas and brake ready to pull in. He slowly backed up, and I slowly came in to ensure once again I had this spot. I was coming for one thing, to kill—Oops I mean to take the parking spot! It was now 8:59am. One minute left till class started. He pulled out finally! I flew right in, probably nearly killing everyone else walking by. Got into the spot, flew out. Thankfully the rain STOPPED right then!

I looked up thinking un believable. What I was going through. Ok dokey! Now I ran to class as fast as I could hoping it wouldn’t start raining again! Finally saw the building, got to the 2nd floor, and found the classroom. Only one minute late! Not bad at all!!!

This now ends my parking lot game! Glad to see I won this one! Alex-1 Parking Lot-0! I hope everyone has a great Friday!


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Growing up with Cued Speech

I want to discuss Cued speech, the advantages it has and why it should be offered as another option along with ASL. ASL is a wonderful language and a great tool used to communicate with the deaf people in the community. The language is strong, beautiful and there are so many types ranging from different countries. It has done well for the deaf community for many centuries and has no signs of going anywhere. However there is another type of tool that some deaf people use, myself included. Many are against it for so many reasons, but I would like to discuss it and show that it should be offered as a great option along with ASL too.

When my parents found out I was deaf they did what most every other parent would do, turn to the books and people to learn about ASL. They tried to learn the language, sent me to a deaf school, and I tried to learn it. I just was not picking it up at all. ASL just was not working for me at all. It was slowing my ability to talk, and my parents wanted me to be able to talk as well. My mother was in the doctor’s office one day and came across a sesame street magazine with an article discussing cued speech. They gave an example of a girl, my age, which had the same loss I did and was trying to talk and how much cued speech had helped her so much and how it was a much better tool in terms of oral and lip reading.

To quickly brief you on what cued speech is, there are eight cues, or hand shapes if you will. Focusing only on, around or near the lip, side of mouth, throat and side of face. These eight cues create the visible aid to see how words are formed. Each movement of that cue reflects one enunciation. So if a word has 3 enunciations, like dou-bl-u, for W you will see three movements. This signifies the word has three enunciations.

My mother was amazed how quickly the girl picked up on the cueing, and how quickly she learned to talk, and read lips and how she excelled in reading and her vocabulary. This really peaked her interest as at the moment ASL was not working for us. She called the number in the article to inquire about cued speech and rest was history. She got hooked on it and learned it.

I was pulled out of the deaf school, with much protest as you can imagine. Parents were doing the wrong thing; they were not doing what was best for me or the deaf community. That sort of thing. It seems many protested against me learning cued because it pulled me away from the deaf community; it supported hearing and oralism, basically anything that was not “deaf”.

Once I started learning cued how to read it and the “cues”, my speech improved dramatically along with the help of speech therapy. I was able to visually see the words, and how they were pronounced, and once I saw it, I could sound it out with my voice. ASL could not help me with it nor would it ever in my case. My reading skills soared as well and my vocabulary got big also. However it should be made clear, cued speech is NOT a language nor has anyone ever claimed it to be. It is simply only a tool used to aid us in speaking capabilities, and lip reading. I wanted to be sure and clear that myth up, and those of us who know cued don’t ever try to claim it as a language nor have I really heard that either.

Again, only speaking for me and situation, cued speech worked tremendously for me and in my situation. ASL would not have worked for me, and given me the ability to do the things I can do now being deaf. I tremendously support cued speech for everything it does, and strongly advise it for at least educational purposes. ASL is by far the better one to use to communicate with other deaf people who know ASL. ASL is the linkage and I respect and understand that. However I wanted to bring up cued because it does exist, you cannot ignore it and it has made great strides in this community also. I cringe when I hear people talk to parents of deaf people bringing up only ASL and nothing else. I am not cringing that they are bringing up ASL but am cringing they are leaving out the option of cued speech too. It could be maybe cued will work better then ASL for that child’s situation, and just very well maybe it will not. You don’t know until you check BOTH options out.

Like with everything else there are disadvantages that need to be brought up. One is, it is not widely known. It is very hard to find someone else who also knows or understand cues. Cued Speech is not used as an accommodation for events such as plays, concerts, meetings, and speeches. It takes a long time to learn, between six months to a full year to be completely fluent in Cued speech. It is universal in the sense that once you learn cued, you can go to any country and use cued speech to translate that language.

I am taking the time to learn your language, ASL but I want you to acknowledge that there are other options to learn such as cued speech. I thoroughly enjoy learning ASL with my friend Geo and others through books and such. It is very exciting to learn a new language of any stature, and ASL is certainly no exception. I just want to be sure that cued was not left out and that it was a viable option to consider as well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Losing a Pet

It is true, when you lose a pet, it really does feel like losing a family member. One who protects you in every way. I lost my dog, Cubby, a Male German Shepard, suddenly out of the blue Monday afternoon. The cause of death was undetermined but was lead to believe it was simply heart failure, rather a collapse of the arteries. My dog was only 9 yrs old, just hitting his prime in dog years. He had a good 2 or 3 yrs left of his life.

I had just woken up and showered, and heard my mother come in for lunch. I walked out to say hello and make quick plans for the afternoon, Plans that were never going to happen. We talked maybe 2 or 3 minutes. Mom went outside to the garden to do something. I noticed my dog, Cubby didn’t follow her outside. He always did that, no questions asked. This should have been a concern to me but for some reason I pushed it away.

I walked into the living room to say Hi to my brother Jordan. I noticed Cubby lying down in the living room hallway sleeping. I thought how odd he is sleeping he doesn’t do that when we are home. I yelled his name to wake him up so we could take him outside. He didn’t move. How odd again. I motioned towards him calling his name over, stamping the floor trying to get him to wake up. I still thought he was just in a deep sleep. Then, I noticed his tongue was sticking out. It was like someone had wacked me in the stomach, I knew without thinking anything else he was dead.

But how, or what happened?! He was just alive an hour ago, we took him out, he was fine! I ran to him, and screamed his name, half hysterical, half furious no one saw anything. I shook him a bit, screaming his name again begging him to wake up. I kind of pushed his chest a bit, stupidly thinking it would get his heart going. I listened for breathing, and looked. Nothing, he was not breathing at all. I felt for his heart and gasped immediately. No heartbeat, in fact his body was extremely warm. He had just died not minutes before I walked in the room.

I started crying, couldn’t believe he was gone and again furious as to what happened. Did he really just collapse out of the blue like that?! A perfectly healthy, 9-Year-Old dog, like mine die suddenly? Not possible, I refused to admit it! I called mom in the house half sobbing, telling her cubby was dead or something was wrong with him. Mom freaked and jumped over him doing the same thing I had been doing. I kept saying stop, he is gone, and he is dead. But nothing. Kept going on. Finally after 5 or 10 minutes we accepted reality, my dog had passed away, yet so unexpectedly which created a shock and horror among us.

I called my grandma over, while Mom called her b/f over too. I called Dad to let him know what happened. We all came over and just grieved together but still so stunned and stumped as to what happened. Did he choke? No, we would have heard him. Gagged? Poison? Something killed him; dogs that healthy do NOT drop dead! Not at all. I didn’t want to wake up on that day to find my dog, dead in the living room hallway. Hell No.

We buried him outside Monday afternoon besides the garden near a bench. He is buried under the shade in the trees area. We buried him with a couple of toys, and his dog bowl. Mom kept his collar. We let my other dog, Dugout out with us. She walked near the grave, sat near her, and rested her head on the grave. She then perked up (I think she smelled him) got a bit excited, and started to dig at the grave, then stopped. She started to listen to the grave with her ears perked up. She then whined and lay back down. This was enough for me and I lost it again. I just couldn’t believe it had happened.

I went through my first day without him, and it is so very hard. I miss hearing him walk across the wooden floor. When I come home from work, I hold my breath and sigh, and listen. But, no barking from him signaling he is ok and ready for us to come home. When the doorbell rings, the silence is deafening. No barking at all, just the doorbell ringing. I sigh and go answer the door, not having to block the dog from escaping out of the house. I miss tripping over him in the kitchen as he tries to get some food from me. I sigh when I see a clump of black hair. That darned dog always had to shed! No more, shoot I might be missing the shedding!

Anyhow, I just wanted to share my feelings about what happened on that horrible day and what I had to go through. I hope no one ever goes through what I just did in the manner it was handled. Oh the vet called and thinks the dog died due to heart failure, rather collapse of the arteries. She did not want to say heart attack because according to her dogs do not have heart attacks. Whatever it was we won’t ever know.

He was one of my friends and was always there for me. I could always turn to him. I thought a nice song could help this blog as well.

"I Turn to You-Christina Aguilera


Saturday, August 9, 2008

George Carlin "Airline Announcement" Subtitled!

Hey Everyone!

For those who have kept up with my blogs know I am a huge fan of flying and aviation. I also love comedy and being funny. It is just something I do and say sometimes without thinking about it. People who know me know I typo like crazy on AIM, and blurt out sexual innuendos without thinking about it. It almost always results in extreme laughter and a great time. One of my favorite actors and comedian was George Carlin. He did have some racist and not so good jokes and history back then but one thing I always loved to listen to was his special edition of Airline Announcements. I took the time to subtitle both videos for everyone to enjoy. This is one of the MOST watched videos on you tube and anywhere else, and I know some are frustrated with the lack of subtitles. Well, you don't have to wait anymore! Here they are!!! Please enjoy them!

Airline Announcement Part 1

Airline Announcement Part 2


Friday, August 8, 2008

To Seek, or not to Seek! Trip to SEEKGEO!

It was time to go visit Geo and his Boyfriend, Jes. I was very excited. This was going to be one of my longer flights I had taken, 4 hours and 15 minutes from St. Louis to Seattle, then 2 hours changing planes before catching a quick hop, skip and a jump over to Pasco!

I had remembered Abbie’s sweet, frantic but hilariously funny, fiasco with Continental Airlines and her sight seeing all over the country and prayed this would not happen to me. I checked in at the ticket counter, and was asked if I would like to upgrade to First Class for a fee. Damn right I was going to! I swiped my credit card, and the machine spit out a flimsy boarding pass with ALEX TRUDE AMERICAN AIRLINES FIRST SEAT-4A SMOKING-NO. Well, I made a joke to myself saying the smoking should be yes, for I, I am indeed, Smoking Hot ;) Ok I am done dreaming now, moving on; I have a plane to catch.

I walked down with my carry on bag in tow heading to the first class security lane. I showed my ID and boarding pass and got through. It took me only 5 minutes to get through, ROCK ON! No having to take off my legs, arms, watches or anything. Swift and sweet! I walked down the concourse of C in Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Bit bored, but busy for a Saturday evening. I was looking up at flights and noticed an inbound aircraft; also American Airlines from Seattle a bit delayed. I inquired about it at the gate and this is the response I got from the agent. “The American Airlines plane was about to take off before it nearly collided and smashed into a landing Southwest Airlines jet. It had to return to the gate and file some paperwork before taking off fro St. Louis” OH. MY. GOD. You tell me this NOW before I am about to take off, on the same airline, same aircraft I might add to the same FREAKING DESTINATION?! *sighs* I think I was going to be drinking big time on this flight.

I hung near the gate waiting for our flight from Seattle also to arrive, before dropping off the cruise ridden, plane flown and Alaskan people off the plane. It was soon time to board. I grabbed my bag and pass and lined up when they announced first class boarding. The agent paused and looked at me with a “you-think-you-riding-first-class-honey?” I smiled, handed her the pass and said, “thank you ma’am” Her face then turned to a “damn-he-sho-is!” I got on board and sat down in my seat-4A. I watched everyone else board, I like people watching ha-ha.

Doors soon closed, and the announcement came on. This was a Boeing 757-200 so this meant we had IFE on board. This stands for In-Flight Entertainment. Only the safety briefing was subtitled and even then, not every sentence was subtitled. I was surprised. I know the whole announcement and have it memorized so was shocked to see not everything was subtitled. Shame!

We backed out and headed to the runway and we took off. So far so good! No diverting, no engine failure or anything like that! I rule! We climbed to cruising altitude and hit 39,000 feet! Flew across Missouri and hit some severe storms in Kansas City area. I looked out the window to see the engine shaking quite a bit from the turbulence. Dinner was served and was fantastic!
Pretty soon after our four hours had passed we were landing into Seattle Airport after passing Mt. Rainer. Absolutely gorgeous! We landed, after flying over downtown Seattle, seeing space needle, and many other stuff was amazing. Landed, and headed over to the S Satellite concourse. We sat and waited for 15 minutes waiting for them to open the jet bridge! Good lord! They all stampeded off the plane and I walked about oh, say 3 or 5 miles to get off the plane into the airport. No I am joking, but man I swear it felt like a good 5 miles! I wandered into the concourse and immediately got lost. Yes, I Alex. S. Trude got lost in this airport. Why?! They switched out gates!!! We were supposed to be in the A concourse but we wound up in the S Satellite concourse! This meant I had to take the train! So I walked all over changing trains THREE SEPARATE TIMES, and rode the train four separate times. Good lord I was changing planes way more then planes here! “Planes, Trains and Automobiles!” How appropriate now!

Finally we reached the C concourse and I waited around for the boarding to begin for Pasco. Finally about 5 or 10 minutes before departure they announced us to begin boarding. So off we went to the 76 seater plane that was a PROP! Propeller! *gulp* I don’t do props! I sat down and turned to face the landing gear right in front of me. Oh goodie, so if the landing gear collapses I’ll be the first to see it! I rock again! Flight attendants come on board introduce themselves and we taxied out. They announced it was a non stop flight. Non stop? No I INSIST that it stops! *reference to George Carlin*.

We took off and began the short little 30 minute flight hop to Pasco. In no time we began turning for Pasco and *thunk* Landing gear comes out! Oh praise the lord it’s out, we can land!!! Woo hoo!!! We soon touched down back in Pasco! Hooray! I texted Geo to let them know I landed. But no response. Err did they forget me?! *sniff* 5 min go by…ok WHERE ARE YOU GEO?!?! Finally *vibrates*, ah ha a message! Geo “whoa, on way now, Damn u for moving fast, see ya in a few!” He was on his way! Soon in no time they pulled up we said our Hello’s and jumped in the car to head back to the apartment! I jumped in the shower, and then we all headed to bed to rest up for the next day!