Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Missing "Miss Ann"

Howdy comrades!
Austinites and many in the nation have been morning the death of Governor Ann Richards, who was the charaxsmatic, quintessential Texas Lady with big hair and biting wit. Ms. Richards began her political career in Austin as county Commissioner. She fought substance abuse and prejudice toward women, and succeeded in becoming the first woman to be Treasurer of Texas. I met her on a number of occasions, at St David’s Episcopal Church, where she sometimes worshipped, and at State Democratic conventions. She always greeted me with warmth and encouraged my participation in the political process. “Miss Ann.” as her friends fondly called her became governor of the Lone Star State in the early 1990’s. I remember with tremendous joy, the day at the Texas Capital when Texans from all races, with disabilities, rich and poor, gay and straight gathered to celebrate what Governor Richards proclaimed to be the dawn of “A new day in Texas.” She kept her promises by opening up Texas government to all Texans. I was so proud of her when, despite the opposition of some “agency types” she signed the Texas Braille Literacy Act. The Act provided that any child in Texas had an absolute right to be taught Braille in the public school system. Moreover, any publisher who sold textbooks to the Texas School system was required to provide an electronic copy of the book in order to facilitate production of Braille textbooks.
Texas buys a lot of books, and this became a model piece of legislation for the country. Texas did not pass the first Braille Literacy Bill, but Governor Richards signed the first law requiring publishers to produce electronic copies of all textbooks used by our children. Most will remember “Miss Ann” as the charming character who said of the first President Bush, “Poor George . . . He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” I remember her as a kind lady who really made a difference in the lives of blind people. Many Texans say her best line was that one most people remember from the Democratic national convention. Actually, Governor Richards was at her comedic best when she saw her bust, a very authentic likeness of her created for the edification of blind people. In her wonderful Texas drawl, Miss Ann quipped, “They didn’t have to show all the wrinkles!”
May you rest in peace, Miss Ann. Regards, Chairman Mal: Power to the Peeps!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

End Stage Left

Howdy Comrades!  My lack of commentary in recent weeks is because of a bout of depression caused, for the most part, by progressive vision loss.  My RP has graduated from Advanced to End Stage, and the changes in my vision can only be described as weird.  I have the rare inverse form of Retinitis Pigmentosa, and what I see is really nothing like the traditional tunnel vision described in the literature.  The iteology of the disease is similar, but different genes are involved.  For most of my life, I have had very little central vision, seeing what I often call an exploding galaxy of light that pinwheels and strobes all the time, even when I close my eyes.  This can be quite disconcerting, but I’ve gotten used to it.  That’s the inverse aspect of my flavor of RP.  Now that I’ve reached end stage, my peripheral vision is failing.  At first, this looked like seeing through a screen door, with little black stitches throughout the peripheral fields.
Those stitches grew into big black bees and now swarm where I used to see.  I see the dark spots as bees because one or both ends will appear to twinkle much like the flapping wings of insects.  Moreover, the spaces between the swarming bees of blindness appear green, and I can no longer discern color without extreme magnification.  I haven’t a clue why I see green, but it does remind me of the green flash reported by observers of the horizon just before darkness falls.  Could I be seeing the nitrogen in the air?  Perhaps I also need a check-up from the neck-up as we say here in Texas!  I hope to post more interesting material now that my little pity party has adjourned.  Regards, chairman mal: Power to the Peeps!