Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Results of Beethoven's Nightmare poll

Here you will see a video clip of Beethoven's Nightmare and the results of the poll. Thank you so much for participating the poll. Here are the results: Have you ever heard of Beethoven's Nightmare before? 52% said Yes! 42% said Nope! 6% said not sure Total Votes: 65 Have you seen Beethoven's Nightmare play live before? 38% said Yes 60% said Nope 2% said Not sure. Total Votes: 55 Do you think Beethoven's Nightmare should play at major deaf events ? 62% said Yes! 11% said No 27% said It doesn't matter to me. Total Votes: 37

I find it interesting that about 60% haven't seen Beethoven's Nightmare play before and almost 50% have never heard of them before! Didn't you know that it existed for 30 years and still not many deafies know about this band? Why? There are possible reasons.

- Not enough public relations or awareness about this band?

- Not enough consideration by deaf event planners (i.e. Deaflympics) to include them in special events as it requires some money (but it is always made possible if sponsors are asked in advance) ?

- Or deaf people in general think music is for those who have residual hearing and it is not valued?

What do you think?

This is a visual band by, of and for the deaf and everyone, no matter how deaf a person can be, will enjoy the beat and vibration along with songs in ASL. I am just trying to understand why they are not being recognized by this nation, that's all. It is just a crying shame.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Whatever happened to Beethoven's Nightmare, the only deaf band in the world?

Beethoven's Nightmare is the only deaf band in the world and they are from our dear USA. See the video clip to watch them play! In the events of the past, this unique band embedded great memories among the audience mostly deaf and some hearing. But has it been adequate for them to perform under a spotlight considering their enriched quality and experience? They had performed from time to time at large deaf events such as Gallaudet Reunion 2001 and Deaf Way II in 2002 so it would be natural to expect them play at Deaflympics but aren't they?

Based on the video, you could see how much fun the fans had and the deaf band members strumming their way in Deaf Way II. I was so sorry that I missed this a few years ago. C.J. Jones signed the songs and the spirit was so alive. They "play hard-driving, rocking music, bending on volume and pulsating rhythm. Deaf Rock Music consists of a heavy beat of bass and drums, interacting with a high level of visual art light work".

Check out their website, http://www.beethovensnightmare.com/. They even made a recent CD, "Turn it Up Louder". They will be featured in PBS documentary; "Through Deaf Eyes" in upcoming March. In other words, they are absolutely amazing!

It is understandable that the drawback involves money to cover for travel, lodging, equipment, etc. but the costs are reasonable, in my opinion. The bottom line is that it's just a shame that they are not going to Deaflympics to perform this time. I feel that this could have been avoided especially when making more effort getting the money with careful planning in advance can be made possible. And it is the Deaflympics for heaven's sake! As I have not witnessed them playing live before, I am just disappointed to miss this event once again.

Just to keep this in mind when having such big deaf-related events that involve entertainment, I strongly recommend for the presence of Beethoven's Nightmare. Your much appreciated support will enable them pursue their goals .

There are three poll questions posted on the top and please take a moment to respond.

Thank you!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Gently down the mainstream?

While surfing on the Net that has ushered me to this website when seeking for information about children who have gone to both mainstreaming program and deaf schools, the comments caught my eyes. These were made by deaf individuals who themselves and/or their deaf children had experienced both type of schools. Their comments were filled with frequent frustrations with a very few positive statements about mainstreaming programs. I am going to share you some stories you may be interested to hear.

Commenter #1 from Wisconsin about not getting an interpreter: My fiancee went to a mainstream school that refused to provide interpreters because they thought she wasn't "deaf enough". Then it was because they thought she couldn't sign well enough. Pure BS if you ask me. How about that! For a mainstreaming school to use this absurd reason not providing terps is lame! What is the world coming to? Commenter #2 from Ohio battling on getting an interpreter for his son in elementary program: From the very beginning, it was a constant fight to get them to keep an interpreter in class for him. The school system used the same old excuse of lack of funding, which is just a bunch of BS! The money for interpreters does not come directly from the local school system. Because it is based on federal law, the local system is reimbursed by the State Dept. of Ed. and they are reimbursed by the federal government. That is the excuse they use to try to get parents to sign off on an IEP that only provides services that are convenient for the school system.The school my son was mainstreamed and did not have a separate program for deaf. This commenter has to battle to get his son in a school for the deaf and to use LRE as an argument: He was the only deaf student in the elementary school, and it just wasn't a good situation. I finally ended up relocating so he could go to St. Rita School for the Deaf in Cincinnati as a day student. But I had to take the home school district to due process before an administrative law judge before they would agree to send him.They kept arguing that the Least Restrictive Environment was a mainstream school. I argued that it was most restrictive, because he could not communicate effectively with his teachers or the other students. If his interpreter was sick and didn't show up, he lost a day of classroom instruction. Fortunately, the law judge saw it my way, and ordered the school system to pay his tuition to the deaf school. Quality of education in mainstreaming vs. deaf schools: I have heard all of the old arguments that students in deaf schools do not receive as good an education as students in mainstream schools for years. I personally don't buy it. I sat in on classes before my son was enrolled, and the material was equal to the material being taught in hearing schools. Identity issues: School is about more than just sitting in a classroom and studying from a book. It is about interacting with peers, and learning to form relationships. It's about socialization. It's about discovering your identity. In a mainstream school, that was impossible for my son. He couldn't interact because he couldn't communicate in a natural way with the hearing students. His identity would have always been "That deaf kid." At St. Rita, he wasn't "that deaf kid". He was just P.J. He wasn't defined by his deafness. Differences between mainstream teachers and deaf school teachers: My son originally thought that the teachers in deaf school were meaner, too. But that wasn't it. The mainstream teachers just didn't expect much from him because he was deaf. At the deaf school, teachers said, "You can too do it. Don't try that, "I'm deaf" stuff here! We're deaf, too. Might work on your hearing teachers, but not here!" They expected his best, and he had to give his best. And that's a good thing. Commenter #2 fought her reason to have her son placed in a school for the deaf using this excellent point when combating the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) issue. This parent learned how wrong she was to send her son to mainstreaming program then fought to transfer him to the school for the deaf. Commenter #3 (unknown location): According to my hearing school experience,it was not that great but I had a good time learning from my neighbor friends more than from hearing school itself ! I had no real identity there. People usually asked me how did I have no fear at the front audience. They were very surprised that I had all the confidence without any fear at the front audience learning from my former Deaf school !! Many thanks to my Deaf school where they encouraged me to join and travel with them going to civic clubs and spoke with these people in a private roomfull of philanthropists & donors smoking cigars.I mean my Deaf school already knew my strengthness and weaknesses so I was able to contribute one of my best strengths. So this deaf school experience allowed her self-esteem to boost. Deaf students gain more confidence in enriched ASL environment where they are able to get feedback on their public speaking skills. Here is my outline of myths and misconceptions of mainstreaming programs and deaf schools but there is a lot more to it. Perhaps you can help fill in the blanks based on your experience by commenting below and I can re-post this outline that we may use this information to share with lawmakers in our states. This is a framework in progress :-) I. Interpreters A. Qualifications 1. Most terps are not certified; reception skills tend not to be sufficient ( oftenly asking to repeat fingerspelling ) 2. Oftenly students' messages are not relayed accurately B. Not-so-perfect attendance; short-term subs are usually unavailable 1. Missing out invaluable instructional time C. Lack of funding by the district (may defend for not funding due to labeling students "not deaf enough") 1. An example of cuts made from Elgin School District U46's decision to end its contract for hearing-impaired services through Northwestern Illinois Association II. Solitaire Experience A. Isolation 1. Feeling inferior and alone 2. No opportunity for authentic social growth B. No sense of identity/belonging with similar peers 1. May be a part of a small group or hook up with several hearing friends but thorough, meaningful conversation is least likely C. No dialogue in sign language with peers III. Myths and Stigma of Deaf Schools A. Myth: The academic quality at a school for the deaf is perceived as unequal to hearing schools FACTS: 1. Most schools for the deaf have teachers who specialize in deaf education have the background to teach with more impact. 2. Most schools for the deaf are obliged to follow the state standards and to prep the students for assessments. 3. Most mainstreamed teachers have lower expectations for deaf students especially to those who are not capable of hearing or not fluent in English. B. Myth: ASL will throw off a balance when learning English and speech FACTS: 1. Research has shown the greater benefits using ASL as an instructional tool to bridge English 2. Students graduating from mainstreaming schools not receiving bi-bi instruction still have an average of 4th grade reading level 3. The more a deaf student comprehend ASL/English languages, the more likely that speech will be intelligible. This outline is based on samples of experiences from deaf individuals who have gone to both types of educational programs. While researching, I have found a relatively few number of deaf students advocating for mainstreaming programs but overwhelming opponents of mainstreaming programs. Why is it that the numbers continue to rise in "alone-in-the-mainstreaming" programs? Why is it that they are not exposed to sign language and culture at an earlier age? Is it because of parents' ignorance that they are misled by so-called medical experts chuting deaf children to pathological path? Have we, the deaf, done enough to reach out and touch parents the first in line when they discovered that their child is deaf? Based on my observation, if there were a class of deaf students at the same age functioning at a similar level in a mainstreaming program with qualified educational interpreters and deaf role models, they would have better support to succeed academically and socially. Alone in the mainstream remains a big question whether or not LRE is best suited a deaf child. Research shows that students learn better when they have full of communication access in the classroom where information is shared, discussions take place and opportunities to debate the topics are available. When reading the article, " Living successful lives" written by Amy Rigard from The Beaufort Gazette, Beaufort, South Carolina, on Sunday, January 14, 2007, several parents made comments on how they have seen their deaf children blossomed when placing them in a school for the deaf. No deaf child should be left behind! Note: Most of the research information came from Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Does anybody have an emergency kit to save deaf schools from closing?

After analyzing current blogs covering about our nationwide deaf schools, it has led me further to inquire whether or not we have an "emergency kit" that consists a thorough plan to follow an orderly fashion whenever the threat on closing any deaf school is announced. Based on what grounds should we use to defend the closings of deaf schools? So let's take a deep look at the studies and IDEA law to find some ways on how we can better shield deaf schools from being ousted by the state government, shall we? We are seeing more and more about the possibility of closing several schools for the deaf in the future (i.e. Idaho and Washington State). Take Washington School for the Deaf as an example. The decision to close the school has not come to a rush because of several reasons. The Colombia newspaper of Washington website mentioned that Annie Pennucci of the Institute for Public Policy, an author of the study, admitted that "just raising the possibility of closure is controversial. Because only about 2 percent of Washington students are blind or deaf, most local school districts have difficulty providing those students with broad educational options. That is why 46 states operate residential schools for the deaf and 40 states operate schools for the blind." While it looks like a small percentage, the report showed that in October 2003, there were just over a million (1,021,926) K-12 public school students in Washington so 2 percent of that is what? 20,438.52 deaf and blind students. Yet the local school district is still unable to meet their needs as the schools don't have appropriate resources. That's why it is so important to serve this population of deaf students who will benefit greatly from schools for the deaf especially when being immersed in ASL environment and use ASL as an instructional tool to teach English. Here is the excerpt David's comment from sonnyjames blog: Also Idaho legislative committee is trying to railroad the Deaf School out of existence, including this one absurd proposal to require all students have cochlear implants. (according to this source I was in contact with.) Hiring professional lobbyist to fight for you will not get anything. It’s the community that has to work together and go on direct offensive of contacting the reps and senators in their states. Utah has been doing this method with very high success rate of getting a lot done lately, ever since we learned how to do it ourselves. David, blogger - Deaf Schools United David made a point that the community would be best suited to have more power than the lobbyists wheras a great deal of pressure can be heavier to the lawmakers. We had done that as a united community for Gallaudet with a push so we need to continue the same for deaf schools. Actually I would still keep the lobbyists but always backed by deaf community united. Mishka Zena is focusing on deaf schools united knowing that the number of support is the key in this democratic country. The majority is supposed to rule thus the higher the number of support there is, the more likely it will be saved. With this new deaf blogoland concept, anything is possibe to get us to team up. Even there is a free petition online that the Idaho deaf leaders can develop for us to sign to give support, provide us a list of contact names of lawmakers that we can send letters to, and so forth. Nevertheless, we need a stronger leadership to get more members of deaf community from coast to coast to protect deaf schools. In this website, What does IDEA require related to the child’s placement? , it tells you what are several requirements: IDEA requires that students with disabilities be educated with students who do not have disabilities to the greatest extent possible. ++++This statement encourages inclusion whereas a wheelchaired student, blind student, autistic student and/or a deaf student sits next to students who are non-disabled. This is referred to as the "least restrictive environment (LRE)." ++++Perhaps for students who are hearing and disabed as they are able to communicate more effectively. But for the deaf, it is a different ballgame. What makes a LRE for a deaf student? Being in classes in front of the terp makes a LRE? Trying to follow one's conversation but pretending to understand it makes a LRE? This is a recommended link to read: http://www.deaflinx.com/DeafEd/options_place.html. It pointed out that deaf students "learning from social interaction is less likely to occur." We must challenge more to make this questionable for deaf students. The American Society for Deaf Children has been involved in advocating for designing provisions of the IDEA but it needs a much stronger current. Wouldn't it be nice if varied organizations serving for deaf students such as CED and DeafEd unite a bit more and have the Congress develop stronger provisions supporting deaf students' learning needs and exposing them enriched language (ASL/English) environment? It requires that removal of the child from the regular classroom occur only when education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. ++++ We know that an interpreter is considered a service and what happens when this service cannot be achieved satisfactorily? Perhaps change to another terp and what if it is oh here we go again? Imagine missing out on getting accurate information during invaluable instructional time. Now take a look at the quality of interpreters among mainstreaming schools. There are some great ones but mostly are not even that close to good. Do you know whether or not your state requires certified ASL interpreters in mainstreaming programs? New York doesn't require it yet. From what I had understood was that when Florida made this law along with Parental Choice and certified interpreters in mainstreaming schools effective, it caused the ever-increasing number of FSDB students. So is that the answer? I just called FSDB and the person was not in so I will follow up with this. Making a requirement of certified interpreters will be harder for mainstreaming programs leading them to send deaf students from school districts off to school for the deaf that is, causing the number going boom. Just come to think of it. A continuum of alternative placements must be available to meet the needs of children for special education and related services. +++++So this is a pointer! The way I interpret this is that no state should be allowed to close any schools for the deaf since it is considered an alternative placement (not that I agree for a deaf school to be called alternative but that's how it is to the eyes of the lawmakers). If a state attempts to close the school, the lobbyists and supporters should use this as a weapon of defense since it is unlawful not providing schools for the deaf as a part of the continuum of alternative programs. Coming from the source from Department of Education on IDEA for deaf students, it focuses on provisions serving the deaf. A bit off the point, I find it interesting that the way this department labels the deaf is only the deaf. No hard of hearing or hearing impaired. By definition, deaf includes them all knowing that there is a different degree of hearing or none. Also who wants to call ourselves hearing impaired? Impaired offers a negative definition as it said it is ill, make worse, weak, being less than perfect, functionally defective and what not. For those of you who use that term, just do me a favor and refrain from that HI word, ok!? Note: FAPE: Free Appropriate Public Education The provision from Department of Education said that any setting which does not meet the communication and related needs of a child who is deaf, and therefore does not allow for the provision of FAPE, cannot be considered the LRE for that child. The provision of FAPE is paramount, and the individual placement determination about LRE is to be considered within the context of FAPE. Oftenly, this has been ignored. Who really blows the whistle to say, "hey this deaf child is not meeting communication needs or having his communication needs met?" How can that be measured really? Within my 15 years of teaching experience, I have seen students coming from the mainstreamed blossomed that they realized they have missed a lot when growing up in the mainstreamed. It goes the same from my friends who discovered themselves in college. They had experienced struggling in such programs as a solitaire and were not immersed in a strong communication environment let alone ASL equipped. So let me tell you a bit about myself, I grew up in a mainstreaming environment as a solitaire from grades 2 to 9 without an interpreter (in 9th grade finally had a terp only for 2 core classes). I was fortunate that I grew up in a deaf family and had the opportunity to be exposed to an enriched deaf cultural experience so I didn't miss out. Right? Wrong! I missed out a lot in an educational-social environment that I tended to bury my head in the books to learn, or self-taught for that matter, when a dialogue swapped by the students and a teacher with vocals shooting across the classroom became meaningless to me. It was a disaster growing up in this social paradigm although the quality of education was fitting for me that I was able to challenge the work having the advantage of reading comprehension but it was the "hard" way. After completing 9th grade, I had it! So I enrolled in a school for the deaf. I became so grateful to have several deaf teachers who offered ASL/English instruction that blew my mind. You can say that plenty of the light bulbs were blinking all over in my head! Sad to say that today parents of young deaf children get their implants earlier than ever prompting them to think that the earlier exposure to inclusion is the way. Six out of my son's class were "implanted and transplanted" to an inclusive environment. I have tried everything in my power to counter-influence their decisions but they turned their heads in front of me and snatched their deaf youngsters to a hearing-hearing land saying it is for the best. So far what I have seen, they developed perhaps a better listening and speech skills but not necessarily a better reader or a writer. Nevertheless, the decision they made relating to inclusion placement tends to be fully backed by the Committee of Special Education. Who would in their right mind disagree with their decision knowing that it is considered a penny-saver keeping these deaf students in their school district? I have seen data showing the amount of money saved if placed in mainstreaming schools but I am questioning the reliance of the data. I found a website stating that an educational interpreter earns a median of $27,000 but that is only for 6.5 hrs a day and 170.5 work days. Some schools like here in NY lasts a bit more than 180 days and that there are summer schools so just do the math. The cost to run per student according to the executive summary from Washington State School for the Deaf is $32,000 in 2002. So to me it is pretty much even. Anyone want to carry on this "plateform" ? Like Emeril says, " Kick it up with a notch!" So let's BAM the lawmakers with these weapons to keep deaf schools open and preserve our history and language!

Monday, January 01, 2007

It's a Small Deaf Blogosphere After All

An escalating number of deaf and hearing advocates of the deaf community who created blogs/vlogs is more VISible and LOUDer than ever in history. I am just looking back on what issues have erupted in the deaf community since the wake of the Gallaudet protest. I believe that the protest was a turning point of the deaf blogosphere. Why? It gained so many watchful eyes that had triggered me, like many other newly-founded bloggers and vloggers, to analyze the need to improve and fight social injustice for the posterity of deaf people. Yes, there were existing bloggers like Ridor and Teri Sentelle before the awakening of the event but I was in the dark until the cries of the protest had led me to the light of these sites thanks to deafread.com. Kudos to you Tayler Mayer, Jarod Evans, Carrie Gellibrand and JJ Puorro (the editors of deafread.com) Mishka Zena, Joey Baer, Ridor, Carl Schroeder, and much more! I applaud to ALL of you who have been contributing your time, energy and creativity to raise our perceptions and analysis of what is the truth or not, what should have been done or not, and so forth. As I'm currently flying on a plane returning home from a wonderful escapade, I'm able to find my time to reflect by thumbing in most of my thoughts in my sidekick. Going off the point, it looks like the airline policy no longer requests us to shut down the pagers when taking off. I've raised my pager on an eye level "plane" making it obvious on several recent trips and no longer have received orders from the attendant(s) to SHUT it DOWN! Oh well, that's fine with me as I am not objecting at all! Anyways, before deafread.com had existed, we were thirsty to find a variety of current deaf-related events that were scattered (i.e. Silent News (in the old days,ohh!), Deafnation (newspaper-to-internet), deafness.about.com (Actually, I didn't even know about this until deafread.com!). Certainly it was not convenient for us to "google" for information at different places, not to mention how time consuming it was to keep on our toes to keep up with deaf-related news. I felt like an ignorant, poor greyhound dog chasing a carrot in the race (not that I support the race mind you).

When Disney Park produces the theme, "it's a small world (after all)", it displays a variety of ethnic groups celebrating together in peace and harmony as the goal is to make tolerance more widely accepted about each other's culture.

But in reality, there are cultural wars in this small world where people are suffering and having to watch over their shoulders constantly. On the other hand, there are people living in multi-cultural environment being jolly with each other. It is a matter when people make choices on how to react based on what they have been taught or learned.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that when I say the word deaf, this term includes anyone regardless their degree of hearing loss since the dictionary defines that deaf means "lacking or deficient in the sense of hearing" and note that deficient means "lacking in some necessary quality or element." So "lacking in SOME"; not ALL, and "quality or element" refers to hearing are how the definition of deaf is written by Mariam-Webster team. I just don't simply understand why the term hearing-impaired is created as it is still used today. I even found this old-school term in an recent Odyssey magazine today quoting deaf and hearing-impaired, oh pul-eaze! Now, I owe a letter to the editor of this magazine!

Reading blog after blog, I have noticed that the same ole issue has been appearing redundantly which is how one perceives oralism, or how deaf of deaf is perceived, or how there are people with hearing loss who don't give a hoot about deaf culture, and so on. It looks like to me that there are three major groups of deaf people;

1. ASL signers 2. Non-ASL signers 3. Non-signers

Let's say that all groups mingle together with acceptance and work in harmony. So what does this spell?

U-N-I-T-Y, that is.

Now may I ask what will the deaf world be like if we go blind about every individuals' degree of hearing loss and that ASL is used or whatever the selection of communication mode is when it comes to socializing with each other? Is this really possible? Perhaps it is rare.

ASL is valued and protected by the core of deaf culture but it has been patronized by the others who even denied that it is a language. That is where the clash comes in so whose fault is it? There are multiple research papers about how ASL is proven as a language as originally emerged by William Stokoe and eventually it was shown how it can be used as an educational tool to teach English by respectful researchers such as Carol Erting and Cynthia Bailes. On the other hand, there are some research showing how deaf people are able to acquire English skills using other methods (i.e. cued speech). Based on my observation, people who have residual hearing may get by without ASL use that they are able to acquire English as their primary language since they have some auditory access to it but it doesn't mean that they should reject or diss ASL. It goes the same for people who rely on ASL as a primary language looking down to those who don't use ASL.

The Deafhood concept has come from a long way to get us to revisit the meaning and to absorb the elements on what it means to be deaf that every one gets to experience it differently thanks to the presenters (Ella Mae Lentz, Genie Gertz and David Eberwein) who revived the works of Dr. Paddy Ladd in the NAD convention as shown by Joey Baer in his blog and to the contributors from the internet. It took me a while to grasp the meaning of deafhood but I understand that deafhood exists when one recognizes herself in a positive light as a deaf person and every deaf individual's journey varies from one to another.

After witnessing the blogs who made some comments even some assumptions about the recent Deaf Unity Gala event in the Bay area honoring the leaders of the protest, the power of the taped event that was posted in a vlog presented by Joey Baer changed the opposing view of "what was thought." So what lessons have we learned here ? Oh yes plenty indeed! This is a starting point to untangle the complicated web where we are able to make our own steps by having open dialogue where we are able to raise our concerns and weed out some misconceptions that will eventually lead to heal and create a much stronger unification in the nationwide deaf community even at an international level if you will.

The year of 2007 shall bring us hope to form an even stronger unity among the deaf and hearing people advocating for the same cause which is a leap forward fighting oppression, audism, and the such. But how can we do that if you ask ? First of all, having the ability to step back and to make an open confession of error is the boldest thing to do. Nobody likes to admit making mistakes especially in the eyes of many readers but hey; to err is human.

Secondly, we must not forget that in order to make criticism, it has to be done in a constructive way. Heck, nobody's perfect but it is okay to disagree but insulting or degrading remarks becomes ugly leaving the b/vloggers feeling defensive/offensive leading the community even more divided. Who needs that right now in our little deaf world anyway ? Needless to say, I'd have already seen an array of ugly comments with no supporting facts shooting in public that have caused a great deal of harm to the others. If we continue to do this damaging behavior, do you actually think it'll encourage us to open up to each other let alone to unify? Finally, we need to feel free knowing that we are entitled to our own opinions without being hindered or threatened. Unfortunately, this is not the guaranteed case for all of us who take the risk to express our views online but we learn to deal with it somehow. Yeah, I'd hate to say that this is a dog-eat-dog world as well. So if you don't like whatever happens, you can either shove it, seethe about it, ignore it or better yet, respond with what YOU think in a civilized way by gathering the facts first before making comments that you may eventually regret. Sounds like a simple rule but hard to follow. Why? Human nature takes over where emotions carry a much more powerful force over rationale thinking. Having a control of one's emotion is the key by looking at the logistics yet it's the hardest thing to do. It requires learning experience from time to time, increased self-conscious and training to achieve this level. The bottom line is that, no matter who is right or wrong, no one should feel intimated when sharing one's thoughts and beliefs online as well as no one should make assumptions about anything or anyone before gathering the facts from reliable sources. Nevertheless, I just hope to see a continued trend of the birth of blogs/vlogs (see bibliomarket.com about creating blogs) in the year of 2007! As the saying goes, having a variety is the spice of life. Wishing you a prosperous blogging/vlogging new year !

"Let us not be stopped by that which divides us but look for that which unites us". ~Unknown