Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Get That Man Some Pants!

Just wanted to get your attention. ;)

A long time ago, around these parts, we had our Mission One going, and one of the Recipients (as they came to be called) by the name of Eric Olson (whom I have mentioned before in various places) was here on behalf of his son Liam.

It was a bit unusual to have a Father to interact with. There aren't that many of us out there. Well, not Father's. Of course there are plenty of those. I mean, Dad's who write blogs. And so since there are not that many of us, there were not that many of us who entered the original MB contest, and there were not that many who wound up as part of The Forty, then The Twenty, which we ended up calling our final group who were a part of that first Mission.

Naturally, because of that whole Testosterone and facial hair thing, Eric and I started up a bit of an online friendship.

And despite his New England Patriot affiliation, that friendship has been maintained. He's good people, so I can look past that type of flaw in his personality. Besides, I have to admit, just don't tell anybody, that I have a deep respect for Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization. To me? He is a God in the NFL.

In fact, I look at Belichick much the way Eric looks at Terry Francona, former manager of the Boston Red Sox, who Eric idolized as he wrote about a visit to Fenway Park last summer in an incredible post on his blog Pressure Support, where he clicks and clacks about his family and their journey with Liam. I love the tagline of Pressure Support. It is classic. 'My boy's ventilator really blows.'

So why am I singing the praises of Mr. Olson to you right now? Because it is my pleasure to officially announce that he is joining our little group here at Mission: iPossible. What exactly does that mean?

Nothing! I'm joking, it does mean something. It means a new era begins for us, but what I mean is that nothing is changing in a major way, so now Eric can take a breath... he doesn't need to worry about any sudden changes in his own life and write me any notes. ;)

This is an all-volunteer little band of Brethren and Sistren, and we are always open to more people contributing anything to this community effort, and it is my hope to set this place up as a sort of 'contributor type' site, where we start to get folks other than me writing here, get some regular, repeat content and other types of things going, etc., etc.

This is the first eensy-weensy, teeny-tiny, baby step in getting that going, and I think it is great that Eric is the first one taking it. I admire that as I admire him and his blog.

So welcome Eric, glad you're here, even though you have always been in one way or another. And outwardly most of you probably won't notice much of anything for a bit, because as we've talked about to each other, most of this is all just behind the curtain type of stuff for the time being.

In the meantime, the Mission 3 deadline for Candidacy is still open, so be sure to tell your friends and neighbors and get the info in for it before we start the selection process on March 09. By week's end we'll have the goal up for the Mission 4 numbers.

Oh...why the pants reference in the title? It's SEMI-interesting. You can stop reading now if you want, this next part is just for funsies, but it does come back around to Eric if you are curious.

In 2009, I entered two very different worlds. One was this world of being a Special Needs Dad. The other was being the VP of Product Development for a company called The MVP Collection. The plan for MVP was to make NFL Statuary, very high end stuff. We did pre-production development on a handful of items. We produced only two actual products. Sadly, due to a myriad of reasons, the company went under and by 2010 I was out of a job. Again.

When you do this kind of work, you need good reference. For a Tom Brady Premium Format Style Statue (here is an example of that kind of format, cloth and polystone or resin in a mixed media style, around 18-inches tall) I needed to find parts of a New England Uniform. I got a pair of official pants directly from the Patriots because I could not find them on the open market.

When I turned in all my materials after my layoff, I could not find one box of stuff that had a handful of stuff in it. In that box was this pair of pants. Found it recently because of this problem I am having with my basement. Now...the NFL is super freaky-deaky about eBay and what gets sold on there. And the last thing in the world I need in my life is the NFL breathing down my neck.

So...I wondered, what in the heck am I going to do with a pair of New England Patriots NFL Pants? They are cool, but they are not Baltimore Ravens pants. If they were, I would not be writing this post now. They would be framed on my wall. But Patriots pants? Cool, but not something I really want to display.


I told him I would send them to him. Thought maybe he could frame 'em. Heck, he could even wear 'em, pretend he's Tom Brady, whatever. Have some fun. Lord knows we all need a little Pressure Release, right?

And THAT'S why I mentioned the pants.

I guess it isn't that cool of story after all? OK, point taken. I'll leave that stuff out next time. It DID get your attention though, yeah? ;)


Friday, February 17, 2012

Mission 3

You may have heard me say before that we had acquired the funds over the winter, thanks to a rather large donation from a single donor, for around 6 iPads, give or take. That is absolutely true. But after some internal discussions, we decided not to go with 6 iPads for Mission 3, and we also decided not to hold up Mission 3 any longer than it was already being held up.

Lemme explain.

First about the delay. I've been trying to get an HTML form put together for a few weeks now in my spare time. Some type of an interface that would make entering data for your child a snap. Well, suffice it to say, even HTML for Dummies isn't helping this dummy, and I am having a little trouble getting it to work right.

But time just keeps on passing and this is REALLY gnawing at me. It wasn't gnawing at me so much while my son was gnawing at me while his behavioral problems were in massive overdrive. But now, since his behavior has started to seriously calm down, and I mean seriously, I have had a bit more time to think and I want to get things moving again.

And having things held up by something like an online form is just...well, it's silly. We can still do the giveaways the old-fashioned way while we have the means to do so, while we work out any of the other junk, know what I mean?

SO...why keep waiting, let's start Mission 3 now, shall we?

Now about the QTY of iPads. Mission 3 will be for 3 iPads. Mission 4 will be for 4 iPads. And so on and so on and so on. That puts us short for the amount we need for Mission 4, so we will simultaneously start an external and internal fund-raising effort now.

This helps, in fact it is HUGE, to keeping us motivated to work on something, have a GOAL, which we all agree is part of what we need as a tool, and it also helps to have something UP to sort of all have as constantly striving forward. Otherwise it is just always sort of hanging. Does that make sense? Hope so, because it makes perfect sense to me.

With no definition of where we wanna go there is no real path and with no path there is no journey. I just made that up...gonna be a big, big hit. ;)

The Mission 3 Recipients will be selected from the group of Pre-Qualified Candidates on the Tabbed Page on this website and any new Applicants who enter in the Comments section below. Selection will not be by Random Selection Process as before. I was not comfortable with that after all was said and done. I do not think any of us were.

We are simply going to make the selections internally and announce the Recipients. During that announcement process we'll talk about what led us to the decision regarding who was chosen in this particular round. It is not as 'easy' as a Random process, it is infinitely more difficult. I believe in this world we live in it is an opportunity to take the element of 'chance' out of the equation...something that, in a Special Needs setting is, at least in my mind, a good thing.

As before, we'll be giving away the same type of iPad.

You know the drill...the 16GB, Wi-Fi models that we gave out in Missions 1 & 2. Not the 3G capable kind.

In order to become eligible to enter this giveaway, unless you are already on the Pre-Qualified Candidates Page, you need only do the following:

Take a photograph of your child or use an existing one you already have and host it somewhere on the Internet. Then you can copy/paste the below into the comments section because you can use it as your guide to creating your entry, that way you won't forget to include what you need and have to make a second comment or, God forbid, forget something entirely and end up with a disqualified entry like the last time.

If you just copy/paste and change the below to have all YOUR INFO, you will be GOLDEN...just set up your entry like the following sample and there should be no problems at all. If you do not have a blog then just write N/A in that field.


STATEMENT: Write a statement here, can be long or short, totally up to you, regarding what your child's communication-related disability is and why you believe your child would benefit from this groundbreaking technology. Why the request for the photo and the text? WE WANT TO GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE WE SERVICE. Plain and simple. We like pictures of kids, and it is important to not just be names and numbers. This is still about community.

You do not have to INSERT your child's photo. I only did because this is a blog and I am trying to make it visually interesting. And Bennett is damn cute in that little PJ outfit. And I am just glad he is SMILING again instead of trying to rip my face off.

Anyway...if you are selected as a Recipient, you MAY be asked to fill out an Eligibility Form, Release Form, etc., similar to the ones we had up previously on our site, and this may or may not include various documentations such as a letter of need from a Speech Therapist or Physician in your child's life. (But don't sweat any of this kind of thing PLEASE...and remember...full Privacy applies to this part, any of that kind of info stays private.)

These types of things are vital so that we can verify that any Recipient is a child in need of an iPad and that said child does indeed have a communication-related disability. We are, after all, trying to fulfill a Humanitarian mission here, and we don't want to just give out iPads to everyone, though that would be great if we could.

Because of our new format, submission of Application for Candidacy is always open now, and the acceptance for entries will remain open indefinitely, but the deadline for announcement of Mission 3 Recipients will be Friday, March 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM EST. It is open to anyone...anywhere.

- Only one entry per household, even if you have more than one child with a disability.
- Entries must follow all specified guidelines or they will not qualify.
- These rules are flexible, as in subject to change and variate as the giveaway progresses.
- As always, there is no fee for entry.
- It would be much appreciated if you are on the Pre-Q page, as one has already done, to let us know if you have already picked up a device for your kiddo so we can clear a slot.

That about covers it I think...pretty self-explanatory right? Easy-peezy, yeah?

If you have any questions at all...ANY...just hit me up at with MISSION 3 QUESTIONS in the Subject line and I will get right on them.

But other than that?


Monday, February 13, 2012

Getting a Handle on the Candidates

I need a bit of a helping hand. Two...if you have 'em.

You, and by 'You' I mean, 'You-The-Members-Of-The-Community-At-Large', are always saying to me...'Hey Ken, you don't need to shoulder all this by yourself, if you need some help, by all means ask for help.'

Well, I needs me some help.

I'm trying to consolidate our list of Pre-Q Candidates before we start opening it up for new Applicants. And I want to open it up, get the revised single-page Application/Verification process up and get everything rolling on Mission 3 as of, like, yesterday.

From our little Mission 2 giveaway, this is the list I was able to put together so far, and if you don't mind, can a few of you just put your eyes on it, check it against the entries and say 'Yeah that looks about right, dude.' for me, please? It would help me a lot.


Please note that Anthony is on this list because after the giveaway the person that entered him in the contest reached out to me and communicated with me, explaining the faux pas regarding the e-mail snafu, and now I have a viable way of reaching her. It was too late to get him entered into the drawing on Mission 2, but he is a PQC from here on out.

I need to go in and...enhance the list, actually do it as Child Name, Parent Name, and then info/pic, and I will do that and make it all purty and such before I put it on the main tabbed page but this I just grabbed off the Randomizer List I had so that I could make sure I had everyone.

Now...over the last six months, since this venture started, there were a handful of people who sent in physical paper or e-mail inquiries. I have a standard language response I send out to everyone who inquires about any iPads for that. I suggest to all of them, when we are not running anything, to subscribe to this blog via the feedburner or whatever method they choose because here is where they will always get the latest updates as to when we will be running any news about any giveaways.

There isn't any way to cross-check those folks, I always had it as a sort of 'We're still sort of a 'Mom & Pop Shop' and we don't have the resources to track down every person who may send us a note. Gotta stick to that (because it is truer now than ever). SO...if you do not see your name on this list, and you sent in something before, just reach out to me, let me know you did, and if it was an e-mail send it to me again. If it was paper send me an e-mail telling me about it. I keep all that stuff on file, I'll pull it and I'll get your child's name into the PQC list.

Make sense?

If not, let me know if there is a question and I'll get on it.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Big Time

There are those people in your life, who live in this community and who take leadership positions in it, who often send you lifelines when you are floundering about with your difficulties, even though often their OWN difficulties are massive by comparison. Elizabeth, a very vocal supporter of the Mission: iPossible group, and a dear friend, is one such person.

Elizabeth will be a part of a Webinar, a Live Question and Answer session, on Valentine's Day, entitled Using Technology to Communicate with Your Developmentally Disabled Child. You'll note that when you click on the link in the title, that it is a reference to Part II.

The first Webinar, the one I did not post about, you can find at this link.

Unfortunately I've been a bit saturated with things on the home front, as you may have noticed, and I missed that one, at least the participation of 'spreading the word', and for that I apologize, to Elizabeth and to you, the community to which I owe a bit more in the way of being on my toes.

But hey...there is also something to be said about the notion of putting on one's own margarine cup oxygen thingie and getting it secured, before putting it on the person in the seat next to you. Or something like that. ;)

I'll do better in the next plane crash. Promise.


On behalf of:
The Mission: iPossible! Group

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alive & Kicking

Hi. Yeah I know. Been a while.

In BOTH places. Which is why I am simultaneously posting this in both my blog and at Mission: iPossible. It probably violates some blogoverse rule and will cause the world to implode, so sue me. To me? Whatever gets the wheels of progress turning. That is what is most important.

It occurred to me, while trying to figure out how to best serve the current Mission 3 parameters, that there are quite a few parents out there who have already done the whole 'send in the story' thang. Who have already sent in their child's information, the history, the e-mail, the whole shebang.

Why go through it again?

We don't think they should have to. So currently I'm working out something that can fit into this blog format with fairly simplistic ease (not an easy task...blogger is not as user friendly as you might think) for this and future giveaways so that anyone who enters and doesn't get an iPad and maybe who doesn't find one through other means can have their info stored here. You'll see a tabbed page now called 'PRE-QUALIFIED CANDIDATES', probably a temporary title for now, and I will work it into there somehow.

Of course, that will also require some work on our part to make sure that the people who are still eligible haven't found one already, but we'll work that out as we go.

Work in progress, work in progress. I keep telling myself that...not just here, but as we try to figure out how to work through the behavioral nightmare that is my son Bennett's latest...what's the word I should use? Shitstorm?

Hey! This, at least the Mission: iPossible site, is supposed to be a FAMILY-friendly blog, mister! It still is, don't me a family with a disabled child where an S-bomb hasn't been dropped, from time to time. ;)

We'll make it through. We always do. And to those of you who have been reaching out with severe concern for my well being? Thanks. I do appreciate it. My psychiatrist has increased my medication, sadly, to try and level me off...dammit, that was something I had hoped to avoid. But waddya gonna do? Sometimes, you have to choose paths that go through very thick weeds to get to the oasis, know what I mean? Consequently for the past several days I have been trying to adjust.

Groggy? Meet Foggy. With a dose of Sleepy and Out of It.

That very same psychiatrist, who is a true diamond in the rough doctor, a rare gift, was asking me about Bennett...trying to find out who was managing his care on the Behavioral Psych side of things. I told him no one at the moment. At Cleveland Clinic, his Behavioral Psychiatrist had retired, and we have not found one here to replace him, and we are not able to take him to the local hospital for a lot of reasons, many of which I shared with the Doc.

I did tell him that we contacted 14 Behavioral Psychiatrists here in the area...FOURTEEN, and none were taking new patients. But I also told him that things were completely out of control and I told him some of the things that had happened.

He just looked at me and said.

'I'll see him.'

And in three and a half weeks, he is going to. He said that it will require a little more work on his part, and some research into Bennett's background and some info from me, but he wants to help, as much for Bennett as for me, since I am his patient too and helping Bennett helps me too.

Don't find 'em like that much anymore, do ya?

It isn't long term, but it was something very...nice, in what has been a very long stretch of dark these past few months.

That's about it for now. Back in a bit with some more on the giveaway, an intro to a new member, and a shout out to one in our community who has a way cool webinar to share.


On behalf of:
The Mission: iPossible! Group