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Archive for November, 2010

In preparation for writing this review I found myself, out of necessity, listening to children’s music as background filler while working at the computer.

My usual practice of listening to music while typing is to load a CD of something very familiar and safe Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits, Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Dulcinea, one of my U2 albums, like Achtung Baby, 7, or Pop or maybe to dig a little deeper and listen to one of Dire Straits’ first two or three albums – Communique or Making Movies are standards for me.

But this past week it has been quite different. And I was transported to another place.

Ultimately what I found interesting if fairly outside my usual little box of comfort and familiarity was just how creative these materials are, just how well-made (with regard to production) they are and with such obvious professional knowledge that they incorporate. Finally, I enjoyed discovering the two music-based products were produced in my local area, originating in professional practices in the Boulder-Denver area. Even the recordings were made there.

While the strong publisher of these materials has a global reach and reputation of exceptional quality, the professionals they work with based in the Rocky Mountain region are impressive. I also reviewed one other booklet that does not include music, but not to worry; it’s a quality work as well, bolstered by the fact that this community of clinical expertise is a tight-knit one, and these practitioner-author-musician-clinicians know each other. These are the products of those top-shelf professionals.

Danceland: Fun Songs and Activities to Improve Sensory Skills, by Kristen Fitz Taylor, PT and Cheryl McDonald, PT with musical host Aubrey Lande, MS, OTR

28 Instant Songames, by “MaBoAubLo” and Barbara Sher, MS, OTR

Seeing Clearly: Fun Activities for Improving Visual Skills, by Lois Hickman, MS, OT, FAOTA and Rebecca Hutchins, OD, FCOVD

All materials are published by Future Horizons, the well-known specialty press serving the special needs community addressing the spectrum of autism-related disorders, including Asperger’s and sensory integration. These titles were originally published by Sensory Resources which was recently acquired by Future Horizons.

So, I stepped out of my normal mode to consider these materials, gathered my impressions and thoughts, here is what I came up with:
They are exceptionally well developed with obvious depth of understanding and clarity of purpose.

• They have been created by people who are outstanding in their fields both because of their practical and clinical skills, but also because of added benefit of their creative skills.

I see these as best utilized in the classroom and therapeutic settings, and with children of ages up to six. I would not expect them to be utilized with much with children any older, except in those cases where development has been at a slower rate. Recognizing the authors recommend the dance activity materials for ages 3-8, I am somewhat dubious. But I am not a practitioner nor a clinician, so of course you should take my review with a grain of salt. Consider me more of an end-user. Simply, the music and dance activities seem to be geared ideally for those younger children. Most beyond the age of six have probably moved beyond that type of activity.

• They are designed with flexibility in mind, allowing for either a very structured application, as with the dance activities (the materials are introduced this way in the prefactory notes) , or to be to be adapted and modified as the practitioner wishes, according to individual needs or responses.

I was especially impressed with the content of Seeing Clearly, with myriad activities designed to address the specific age-appropriate developmental needs of early childhood and encompassing both the requisite professional perspectives: the behavioral optometrist and the occupational therapist.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Each of these materials, while in my opinion, is designed less for use at home or with a non-professional caregiver, deserve a prominent place in every OT’s bookcase.

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Legendary rocker Todd Rundgren is going to school.

Actually, he’s headed to the IU campus in Bloomington to teach a bit about music, and according to According to the Indianapolis Star its culture, politics and economics. He will be on campus for two weeks playing his music and as a Wells Scholars Professor at IU, co-teaching an honors seminar covering all the broader aspects of the music business.

I say cool. Good for him.

VH1 must have gained a lot of new viewers made up of old rocker types when they ran their series “Where Are They Now?” (1999-2002) exploring the then-current whereabouts of rock and roll has-beens. In those heavy rock coming of age days of the late ‘60s-early 70’s everybody experienced the tragedies of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Here were more, and with all this, from my point of view, I am always impressed with those who managed to survive beyond that decade.

I am even more impressed with those who saw their futures and moved on at the right time into the next reasonable phase of life and kept moving forward. In fact, I continually find myself surprised that they even turned out to be functional.

Rick Derringer is a good example. His greatest hit was “Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” – still a great listen. Like so many others, he experienced all that the world of Rock stars had to offer, which especially in those days included heavy drug use. Today, Derringer lives a much different life. Coming from a solid perspective of been-there-done-that-and-don’t-care-to-do-it-any-more, he’s now a Christian, has a family, still plays his music, and has quite a testimony. Check him out at http://www.rickderringer.com/rd-testimony.html .

Just the name Rundgren conjures a flood of memories for me.

I was very fortunate to grow up when I did and to have an uncle who grew up when he did. My uncle John graduated from Garfield High School in May of 1969. I was turning eight that Fall.

We all know how important music is to high school kids, and so you can only imagine…. No. Strike that. Many of you can remember… the significance of the music during that time and into the mid 1970’s (until – to our horror and confoundment – disco came in prominence). The Beatles, of course, and The Stones, King Crimson, Cream, The Birds, The Doors, The Mamas and the Papas, Mott the Hoople; and some of the ones John introduced me to: Rare Earth, Little Feat, Mitch Ryder, Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush, Black Oak Arkansas, Black Sabbath, Foghat, Gary Glitter, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After and of course, Todd Rundgren.

John’s bedroom on the second floor of my grandparent’s historic house – and 1860s federal style brick structure and home to the first president of what is now Indiana State University – was the epitome of hip. It was dark, smelled of varnished wood, gun powder, clean laundry, Brute or Hi Karate! and incense and, at the time my impression was, I was pretty sure, girls. Lots and often. The ceiling was a retrofitted vault with solid wood beams and dark solid planking completely covering the wall and ceiling surfaces. His bed lay directly on the floor, just a mattress and box spring; no frame, headboard, or footboard. Wool saddle and Indian blankets here and there and his book shelves were covered with football and track trophies and ribbons and other cool guy knick-knacks. He had a huge glass jar in the corner full of coins. A large ceramic barrel or jar of sorts sat in a cornerwith a mouth probably 16 inches across – chock full of various guns: high-powered rifles and shot guns, and swords of various intriguing types. They were exotic. He even had a couch that sat low on the floor, its legs removed and an old travel chest from the previous century, converted into a coffee table with a thick sheet of glass atop – properly pilfered from an abandoned house in town or a long-forgotten storage room at the high school. That was it. His whole room – his whole life – was exotic.

And his stereo system.

His music was the central feature to the exotica. Awesome turntable, mystifying tuner-amp, so complicated my brother and I knew it had to be worth thousands; and huge speakers, hidden in opposite corners of the room. But it was the LPs that were key to it all. Rows of them. On the shelves, stacked neatly – religiously – on the floor lining the walls running the length of two sides of his room. This collection was a veritable museum; a sacred bastion of ultimate sound and knowledge and experience. My brother and I would sit there with John on his couch, our own necessarily stretched straight out and crossed at the ankles, completely relaxed and now also cool, just because we had entered his room. I’d say, “Hey, I got a new album.” I got Elton John’s Honky Chateau.” Or Ty would say, “I got The Hollies Greatest Hits.”

John was always good with us. His response would just be, “Here, listen to this.” And he’d put on something that was far beyond anything we had even tried to imagine. Iron Butterfly, Ironman, Ronnie James Dio, The Tubes, Deep Purple, Magic Carpet Ride (this one we knew, and were reminded of what we ought to be listening to), whatever; in that moment we were schooled in the ways of the Sacred Den of Cool.

We’d come over some Sunday afternoon for a regular family gathering. Food, football, somebody’s birthday celebration, riding the mini-bike, the tractor, shooting clay targets in the near field, piles of food, and sitting around talking about whatever.

And hanging out in John’s room.

John’s room was a world unto itself, a separate space in ultimate independent universe of guy-dom. By the way we treated it – and our cautious admittance to it – It was a sacred place – the Sacred Den of Cool.
Ten years later (or should I say ten years after?), my brother and I, having moved with our family to a new home across town, and probably without knowing it, set up our respective new bedrooms much the same way, most notably beds on the floor, no frame needed.

He was my primary source for all things music in those critical formative years of the late 1960’s through the early 1980’s. Not only did he know what the really good music was – what I would call the “root” music – that which was the basis for everything on the radio; the bands and musicians that the pop music world referenced during interviews as the greatest influences on their work. But he knew all the deeper background intelligence on any individual I could come up with.

Rundgren is one of those guys my uncle John can tell me about with great detail. In fact, I am fully confident that if I called him right now and pitched a name to him, he’d answer like he had been waiting for the call. In years past I have done just that. Carmine Appice, Mitch Ryder, Ian McDonald, Jeff Beck, Robert Fripp, What albums they made and the years. What bands they played in and who they played with, where those guys went and who they played with, what albums they made, and what they’re doing now.

Todd Rundgren has truly made a long-term and serious career of his talent. It’s refreshing to see he’s one of those who is still around to do his work, do it well, and even give back.

…And by the way, thanks, John. I am still listening to Rare Earth Live. I can’t find my 8-track, but like you, I have it on CD.

For more on Rundgren’s visit to Bloomington, see the October 31st and November 1st articles posted at Indystar.com.

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Honestly, I don’t know if this car is going to go or not, but I hope so. It’s cool.

Indiana’s economy is a great study in diversity and depth, and so strength and stability follow as key characteristics. With agriculture on one end of the spectrum and high technology on the other, and every kind of industry imaginable in between, the state is good bet for business development and investment. One significant example of this is what’s happening in Connersville.

Carbon Motors was formed in 2003 by a highly experienced group of forward thinking, forward looking industry professionals to address a fundamental need of public safety and for homeland defense use: A custom designed, custom built law enforcement vehicle, the E-7. It is based on a purpose-built aluminum “spaceframe” body structure to be coupled with a six-cylinder BMW turbo-diesel engine. In fact in March of this year Carbon Motors signed a contract with BMW for 240,000 copies. It is apparent they fully expect to take large orders.

While Fortune magazine has named the Carbon E-7 as one of the top ten brands to watch for, and production is slated for late 2013, we remain cautiously hopeful it will actually happen at all. With that said, Carbon’s pitch is a good one. All the requisite detail has been covered, including their promise that the vehicle will be comparatively priced with the traditional cruisers, namely the retrofitted Ford Crown Victoria, but with much more capability. In fact, that’s their strongest point: Price is to be where the comparisons end.

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The E-7 is intended to be fully customized from every possible angle, from its performance capabilities to the detail of the seating and cockpit: An officer will be able to step in and out, to and from seats designed specifically to accommodate all the equipment carried on the officer’s utility belt without catching or discomfort, and the cockpit console and dashboard will be nearly unrecognizable to a civilian. According to Carbon’s website, it will have “fully-integrated factory fitted law enforcement equipment” such as “an integrated computer system with a…multifunction 15-inch… touchscreen and keyboard” – as many as thirty purpose-designed features and options.

The E-7 is also planned to incorporate what Carbon Motors calls their Threat Detection system: it “will utilize weapons-of-mass-destruction sensors, automatic license plate recognition, infrared cameras and [a] proprietary On-board Rapid Command Architecture (ORCA™)” – a system that will “link the vehicle with central dispatch, crime databases and even other police cars.” Pretty impressive.

And the bottom line is this: Orders. When agencies begin placing orders, it will happen. Show Me The Money.

What can you do?

1. To get properly impressed yourself, and to reinforce that impression with a healthy dose of Hoosier pride and a strong sense of hope and anticipation for success in Connersville, spend a little time at their website: http://www.carbonmotors.com/.

2. When there, sign up to receive updates on Carbon’s progress.

3. Consider calling, chatting informally with, or writing to your local and state law enforcement agencies to encourage them to seriously look at this vehicle and the opportunities for Indiana.

4. Write to your representatives in Congress to do the same.

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I had better say up front that as a student at ISU in the 1980s, I attended very few Sycamore football games, so I don’t really have a leg to stand on, and I still feel guilty about it.

Perhaps this is part of my penance. I can say though, that somehow, years and (supposedly) maturity have produced something.

One thing it has produced – since my move to Colorado in 1994, along with my homesick fondness for all things Indiana – is a renewed appreciation for my alma mater and the football program. It is finally fun to see ISU having a good season, and Coach Trent Miles is right – the community ought to go and support their team. If Terre Haute has ever been accused of apathy (NO!), let this be the time to turn that around. You’re in the very midst of your opportunity – don’t miss it. Games will always be lost. But they will also – eventually – be won. The Sycamores have proven that this fall, and in fact, we’ve seen it coming for two seasons now; their talent and performance have begun to make observers around the state and conference take more and more notice. And they’re likely to continue to improve. Pride, emotion, devotion, success, failure – all things wax and wane. I think it’s in the Bible; Ecclesiastes, I’m pretty sure. Don’t get yourself labeled as a fair-weather friend like most of us did in the late ‘70’s when Larry Bird rudely woke us up and led the basketball team to the pinnacle, and then at his moving on to even greater achievements, we moved on (or back) too.

I root for the Colts now that I live in Denver. I also root for the Broncos, but right now, by the way, the Broncos are reminding me of the Colts when they first arrived in Indy, and how they performed for many years post. They were not good. In fact, when the Broncos are good, we tend to affectionately call them the Broncos, but when they bad (now) many refer to them as the “Denver Donkeys” (granted, it’s easier for a non-native).

You like the colts now, don’tcha ….now that they’re winning? Well, as the popular saying of the past couple of weeks goes, “Man up.” Nobody likes – or respects – a fair-weather friend. The Colts don’t have a bad name for bad times as far as I know, but they have had them, and will again at some point. Such is the ebb and flow of life. Get used to it. I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere too.

This past Saturday I listened to the Nebraska-Mizzou game on the radio. Attendance was around 83,000 – again sold out – every year since time began (1962, actually – 289 games). 83,000 is 80,000 more people at the game than last week’s ISU game and 20,000 more than are in Terre Haute in total. Now, I know we’re not quite comparing apples to apples; there are many more real factors to consider. Those fans are what you call devoted. I know we’re not those guys, but do we really want to be who we have been so far?


Coach Miles was right to chastise the Sycamore community – and if you’re in Terre Haute area, that’s you. Personally I feel chastised.

Heck, there are loyal Sycamore fans all over the country. Many of them even get together at alumni functions and give money to the university, and rightly so, regardless of where they now live. It might be a matter of good feelings and memories, but for those who are serious, it’s also a practical matter of doing their part to sustain a good, right, and important thing – a vital institution.

You can do it with your money, and you can do it with your butt. I’m with Trent. Go, buy a ticket, sit there and watch the game and cheer. It’s likely to be a good game.

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1. Hoping for (and planning on) Change. Today is Election Day. Enough said.

2. Coach Trent Miles and Indiana State University Football. I’m with Trent. Go, buy a ticket, sit there and watch the game and cheer. It’s likely to be a good game.

3. Carbon Motors’ E-7: Honestly, I don’t know if this car is going to go or not, but I hope so. It’s cool.

4. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: I don’t know what their personal politics are and I don’t really care. They believe that every life has equal value…and they’re doing something about it.

5. Todd Rundgren: legendary rocker-turned professor is headed to IU.

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