Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Praying for peace...

Praying for peace...

Praying for peace...

Posted: 02 Apr 2014 06:55 AM PDT

Praying for peace, not at church but on the streets...
Rezando el Rosario, por la paz, no en una iglesia sino en la propia calle...

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A Gocho's point: "don't be indiferent if you want a different country"

Posted: 02 Apr 2014 06:53 AM PDT

The point of view of a Gocho ( a fighter of the Táchira an andean state) that went by Caracas and hanged up his sign upon a post of the city to express his feelings; "don't be indiferent if you want a different country". Un Gocho luchador originario del estado andino del Táchira pasó por Caracas y guindó su pancarta para expresar lo que siente...

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Posted: 01 Apr 2014 10:52 PM PDT

Overlooking Death Valley from Dantes View at 5475 feet. Below is Badwater (Death Valley) at 282 feet below sea level.

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Imagen de Barquisimeto

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 05:11 PM PDT

El bombardeo a plenitud Esquina de Av Lara con Capanaparo

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Imágenes de Barquisimeto

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 05:08 PM PDT

La misma esquina tomada sobre los Leones

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Imagen de Barquisimeto

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 05:06 PM PDT

La esquina de Lara con Leones se escuchaban muchas detonaciones

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imagen de Barquisimeto

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 05:05 PM PDT

Av Lara con Leones hoy 1A en el momento de tomar esta imagen se hacia dificil respirar por los gases

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Imagen de Barquisimeto

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 05:04 PM PDT

Imagene de la Av. Lara con Bracamonte

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3 Alarm Fire Gables Upper Rock

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 01:50 PM PDT

Starting about 4am on Tuesday April first a fire broke out in the development of the Gables Upper Rock in Rockville Maryland. This fire raged for hours, giving the first responders a legitimate fight to battle back the blaze. After several hours and thousands of gallons of water being pumped into the building, the fire was contained. This unoccupied structure lays in ruin without an explanation of the fires origin for the time being. More to come in the future, but here is a montage of the events during and after the fire.

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The "Eagle" Has Landed

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 01:49 PM PDT

The U.S. Coast Guard Tall Ship "Eagle" landed this past weekend at the NC State Ports in Morehead City, NC. where thousands of Americans turned out to tour this ship in the cold wet weather.


This three-masted sailing vessel is used to train the US Coast Guard Academy cadets as future warriors serving America.



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Red Hook Crit

Posted: 01 Apr 2014 03:20 AM PDT

The Red Hook Crit, billed as "The World's Premier Track Bike Criterium" hosted its inaugural Women's Criterium during its 7th annual event this Saturday.

The Crit is a closed course at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal where fearless fixed gear bikers and runners qualify and compete. Its sponsors include Rockstar Games and Timbuk2, among many others. This year's event was especially challenging due to the cold and rainy weather.

I spoke with participants and organizers about their cycling experiences, how they got involved and what they liked most about the competition.

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Evolution of Fluency

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 05:50 PM PDT

When Ivan was a toddler, we couldn't wait to hear his voice. At a year old, he had severe speech delays specifically expressive language. He would get a new word for awhile only to drop it. He also wanted to know the name of everything. He would point at an object and ask "dat" (what's that)? We talked & pointed out pretty much everything imaginable. We could tell that he was building his vocabulary because he understood us and could follow directions. We started doing sign language with him around 6 months old. Since many times he did not like to be touched, we talked & sang a lot. For us, it was a way to offer comfort, let him know we were here for him. We tried to do hand activities, which he did not like, trying to do something like Itsy Bitsy Spider was intolerable. Once early intervention services started, we got into speech therapy and didn't find that to be a good fit. At 18 months old, the speech therapists were at a loss figuring out what they could do. We continued with the sign language. By the time he was 2 years old, he used over 60 signs, most ASL & some we tailor created to fit our life & avoid finger-spelling.


As Ivan's sign language acquisition was taking off, he was also learning to read. He could read simple phonetic words at 2 ½ years old & could speak 10-20 words in 7 languages by 3. Yes, we were amazed. Around 3 years old, Ivanese also emerged. He had his own language to name things. My favorite is kazoonkie, translated in English it means topsy-turvy. Ivan came up with this word while we were swinging his little sister. After having an exuberant turn pushing her, Ivan saw that she got kazoonkie & loved it.


Over the years, we started spinning far-fetched nonsensical make-up stories, kind of Seussian-style, and the wackier the better. We dove into Ivan's interests & curiosity to make up songs, play word games, read joke books and stories like the Ted Andrews trilogy about idioms. As we continued to learn through his autism diagnosis some finer points like how much of a literal & visual thinker he is, we wondered how all of this would tie together. Still not sure that we know, but I think that it's been phenomenal in cultivating a mutual pursuit of learning, growing & evolving to where we are today.


When Ivan was 5 years old, I stumbled onto something that really surprised me & I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around. Ivan did not know what the word tired meant. I was baffled because we use that word all the time & it's in several of the stories he was fond of. I could not comprehend how he was reading on a third grade level, but didn't understand tired. Of course that made me wonder, what else did he not understand? My heart ached at the vastness of possibilities.

Between the speech delays, sign language, Ivanese and preference not to talk, we've realized that English seems not to be Ivan's native language. We are still unwrapping his native tongue as we travel this journey and catch ourselves taking for granted how much or what Ivan understands because he speaks well. I started reading about echolalia and brought a deeper understanding into our awareness. I've had people doubt that Ivan has echolalia. I didn't believe it at first either. I thought it was just repeating back what someone said. His echolalia is subtle because he has a great memory, the ability to splice together bits of information and his word usage seems to fit within the context of the conversation.


We noticed early that Ivan really likes or needs rules. Most of the time this has been a good thing, but when it comes to explaining the English language, it is a daunting challenge. How do you explain a language that has so many exceptions to the rules? When he was younger, somehow he figured out the contraction rules (probably seeing patterns). So, he would say "I amn't" instead of "I'm not". We continually work on translating & dissecting English with Ivan using the opportunities that naturally present daily from understanding shows & stories to interactions with his sister & us, running errands or on social outings. We discuss matching body language, facial expressions, voice inflections/tone and word choice. This is an evolution & we let Ivan lead the way, taking cues about how, what & why we dive into the areas we do. Recently we've found online storyboards that let him create his own stories however he wants. He also loves exploring Apps & has his own Squag pad.


We try to balance talking as we do & being mindful that our speech seems foreign to Ivan. It's challenging to drop common expressions like; give me a minute or hang on a second. Phrases like these are taken at face value for Ivan. A minute is a minute. I do not believe this is rigid or inflexible thinking. It is literal & hard-wired just as is being left or right-handed.


Ivan is now 7 years old, an avid reader, amazing big brother and continuing to build and evolve his fluency in English as we also gain more fluency in Ivanese. The cherry on top… Ivan crafted his first original joke this week. And yes, it was hilarious!

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Prague: Old Town After Dark

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 03:19 PM PDT

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit a city that has always been on my list of "must see" destinations. While living in the United Kingdom in the late 90's I was always being told things like, "If you only get one place on the continent, make it Prague.", or "If you think <insert city> was beautiful, just go Czech out Prague.

Sadly, in my 3 years as an ex-pat American in the UK I never made it to Prague. I came close a few times, but just couldn't manage to get there.

Fast forward 3 career changes, 2 relocations, a marriage, 2 children and 15 years.

On what was supposed to be a business trip to London, Paris, and Budapest (another amazing city) a last minute destination change came across my desk. I was needed in Prague, and "sadly" as it was, I'd need to spend the weekend as my meeting required meeting with 2 people. One only available on Friday, the other only available on Monday.

Armed with a small camera store in my backpack I was ready to see all that Prague had to offer. I set my alarm for early Saturday morning so I would be able to follow the sun through the picturesque city. Up at 8am sharp, jumped in the shower, a quick breakfast, and then...rain. Lots of rain. Rain the likes of which only Noah can recall. The day was not to be. Streets would remain unexplored, architecture would go unappreciated, and sights would go unseen. I was crushed. The day was spent hoping for better weather, and meticulously planning my backup plan. I was confident I could "Do Prague" in a day.

Sunday morning came, and with it blue-grey skies, moderate temperatures for March, and the promise of a great adventure.

I walked for hours. Down the cobblestone streets and alleyways. Into the Old Town Square. Past museums, churches, the famous Astronomical Clock, and down to the famous Stone Bridge, or as it's been known since 1870, "Charles Bridge".

Everyone was right. The city is amazing. It's a mix of classic architecture rich with history, and more shops catering to tourists than I've seen at Downtown Disney. But somehow it's still captivating. In early March I figured it wouldn't be too busy. There wouldn't be too many tourists. I was wrong. People were everywhere, taking in everything I was. Enjoying it all. It was overwhelming. Trying to get a photo without someone jumping in was a challenge, but it kept things interesting.

Day turned to evening and the city changed. The darkness brought with it a different feel, the dim light of signs and streetlights cast a yellow hue. As evening turned to night the crowds thinned.

As I walked back to my hotel I passed a small one way street. A beautiful, parked, classic VW Beetle caught my eye just as it was passing from view. I immediately turned and looked up the empty street. It was what I had been looking for all day. I pulled out my camera, batteries fading, and people approaching. It was now or never.

The result is what you see here. A beautiful classic car, in as beautiful and classic a city. It represents Prague to me, and image engrained in my mind. There are other images I captured, the same as many before me, but this image, it's mine. The car soon after drove away. The image gone for anyone else to experience. It will be mine to cherish, and to share with others to enjoy.

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Learning to communicate

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 07:13 AM PDT

My son was diagnosed Non verbal/ ASD/ sensory processing disorder, When he was 4 years old. My son ( Jacob) was just like any other kid growing up, by the age of 18 months he said mom, dad, he even sang the sponge bob song every time it came on. By the age of 2 we noticed he wasn't talking as much, but didn't worry too much. By the age of 3 he had quit talking and just made " grunting" noises at things he wanted or would point. This was when we knew something wasn't right.

After he was diagnosed, we were completely lost.... We live in a small rural area that I call, " the end of the dirt road" There isn't much for help in this area, and unfortunately We were given the diagnoses, and the left on our own.

For the longest time, I spent every waking minute reading articles, blogs, studies looking for answers on questions I had no idea about.. One " answer" would lead to a million more questions/ what if's....

Finally by the age of 5, Jacob started speech therapy, problem is the first therapist told me he was " too old" to learn sign language, so we would try other things. Why I didn't really agree with her, I'm so lost I thought well she's the professional... So we started going 2 days a week for 40 min. I saw no improvement after 3 months, but what I did see was a 5 year old, who had taken her iPad and " Created his sessions" The therapist had a program that had sight words/ pictures of things around the room. So when you touched the picture, the picture spoke. i.e. Ball; I want to play with a ball.

I knew my son was good on computers, he has been since about the age 2, but as I sat one day speaking with the therapist, she had given Jacob the iPad and I remember thing... ( and saying) You might not want to do that.. Therapist: " It's no big deal" at the end of our 10 min conversation, Jacob had rearranged the icons, added more, deleted some.. It was so funny! I remember the therapist saying " WOW, I didn't expect that" and all I could do was laugh and say " I told you so"

Well as life does, we became very busy with work, school and when the therapist called and cancelled a few appointments I decided that Jacob wasn't getting a whole lot out of it, so we decided to take a break; and he was suppose to be getting speech therapy in school as well, ( but that's a whole different , story......)

So my husband and I bought an iPad. I started exploring the different apps, every time Jacob wanted something, ( like food) he would do one of two things.... Either he would point and make a noise, where we in return would say the name of what he wanted ( apple) and TRY to make him say it before giving it too him, or Jacob would just get the item himself...

Unfortunately, as Jacob got older he wanted more things, and we as parents didn't always know what it was that he wanted... Insert MELTDOWNS..... Most of Jacob's meltdowns happened because he couldn't explain to us what he wanted/ needed, and we just couldn't figure it out at times. i.e. We would be in Wal-Mart ( every thing would be fine) and we would walk past a display of cheap $5.00 stuffed animals ( Which later became an obsession) And my son Jacob would just loose it if he didn't get one of these animals. At first I didn't understand, and then as the years went by, I learned a few things ( from Jacob & Blogs) That Jacob has
" tunnel vision" so when he become fixed on one thing, he WON'T stop until he gets it because he can't, he doesn't understand..

Once I figured that out, life became a bit easier, I found different apps on the iPad that helped express & explain , what he MIGHT be feeling. I learned to take those cheap stuffed animals that Jacob loves so very much ( we now call them his friends) and I would make the animals talk, expressing what was happening, later I would make the animals read a book on the iPad ( which has produced amazing results)

Jacob was finally moved to a new school, and the para's & teacher there are strong & love their job, therefore Jacob has felt that and reacted to that.

Jacob is now 8, and although he may not carry on a conversation with you, he can now express his feelings, ( which is something new & still learning) but Jacob can now tell you what he wants as well. thanks to sight words, iPad apps, Disney movies, stuffed animals, hard work and dedication and most of all LOVE and understanding from his family.

The best advice I can give to other parents of ASD children who read this is to NEVER and I mean NEVER give up. Try anything and everything, and keep trying! My Jacob is now a " Parrot talker" he has learned to repeat what we ask, and what we answer.. i.e. How was your day? ( Jacob) How was your day? ( me) my day was good.. (Jacob) My day was good (me) well that's awesome! ( Jacob) Awesome!

Jacob is learning at his own pace, don't get me wrong, there are some days that it's very frustrating, hard & crazy all in one, but when I look back and see the improvements Jacob, and this family has made it honestly is one of my most proudest moments, as a parent.

Keep trying, never give up and one day you may just hit the nail on the head, and everything will click.... And then you'll look back and think.. uh that wasn't so hard..

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Sunrise San Pedro

Posted: 31 Mar 2014 06:42 AM PDT

The sunrise on San Pedro, Belize.

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