Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I watched Blindsight (2 hours), a movie about young men and women from Tibet who are blind that set out on a trek to the summit of a mountain that was directly next to Mount Everest and approximately 23,000 ft high. Each young man and woman had a guide who had vast experience mountain and rock climbing to help them in this journey. The group made it to advanced base camp of Mount Everest, which is at 21,000 ft. They had lost two of the young students just before they made it to advanced base camp due to illnesses associated with the extremely high altitude. The decision was made, at advanced base camp, to turn back and head home and not go on to the summit. The factors in this decision were the fact that they had split up the group, the dangers involved in climbing to the summit, and the fact that some students didn't even want to continue on.

This accomplishment was truly astounding, whether they made it to the summit or not. However, the one gripe I had with the decision making process was that the founder of the school seemed to be slightly infantilizing the students despite the fact that the main theme of the movie (and rightfully so) is that people who are blind are  completely normal people. She seemed to be holding the students back from going on because she believed the students had learned enough from the experience. Frankly, I think that the decision should have been up to the students and the guides. If the guides felt confident that the students could reach the summit safely and the students wanted to continue on, they should have.

Nevertheless, the accomplishment of these young men and women cannot be denied by anyone. This shows the abilities humans possess, whether they have all of their senses or not. It is a truly inspiring story that makes you reflect upon your own life and think about the little things that make your life difficult. It puts things in perspective, for sure.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Visitor

I watched The Visitor (2 hours) because it sounded like an interesting movie that addressed a lot of issues that surround our social system today. Specifically, the themes of diversity and discrimination run rampant throughout this entire movie.

The Visitor is the story of a lonely college professor (Walter) who returns to a NYC apartment he hasn't lived in for many years to realize that a young couple (Tarek and Zainab) has been staying in the apartment without his knowledge. Walter offered to allow them to stay for the time-being, and he quickly developed a good relationship with Tarek. Tarek taught Walter how to play the drums, and the two enjoyed each other's company, playing in the apartment and on the street. The twist of the movie begins when Tarek is arrested by NYPD officers who accuse him of jumping over the turnstile and not paying for the subway, which was depicted as a drastic case of racial profiling and discrimination. The twist continues when it comes out that Tarek and Zainab are both illegal aliens living in the United States, and Tarek is taken to an illegal immigrant detention center. Walter's relationship builds with Zainab and Tarek's mother (also an illegal immigrant), who has come to check on her son because she hasn't heard from him in a few days. Walter hires a lawyer to try to get Tarek released and his green card process started, but it is to no avail - despite all of their best efforts, Tarek is deported back to his homeland, Syria. Despite building a great relationship in this stressful time, Tarek's mother decides she must leave Walter to rejoin her son in Syria. Walter's life and outlook on life has been forever changed by these three people that literally fell into his lap.

The Visitor is based around the two central theories of diversity and discrimination in post-9/11 America. Specifically, they address the treatment of illegal immigrants who have established lives in America. Walter was a lonely man who had lost the joy in his life and was living robotically, going through the motions of his mundane life that he had lost all passion in. Tarek transferred his passion of playing the drum to Walter, who gave up on piano for this new, exciting instrument. Tarek's detention also opened Walter's eyes to the discriminatory practices that go on day in and day out for people of other races. Walter was transformed into a new person by these three people that entered his life suddenly, and they truly made his life much better by simply being good people. He no longer was just "going through the motions," he developed a passion in his new found instrument and new found friends that gave him a purpose to living. Tarek's deportation outraged Walter and he lost who seemed to be becoming a romantic partner, Tarek's mother, but Walter continued to play the drum, even in the subway area where him and Tarek has planned to.

The Visitor  is an excellent movie that portrays real-world instances of discrimination and racial profiling. It also depicts how lives can be changed for the better by even one person. I highly recommend watching this movie!

2010 Lake George Polar Plunge

On Saturday, November 20, 2010, I attended the 2010 Lake George Polar Plunge about one hour north of my hometown, Troy, NY. I attended this event for five hours. This was a great way to cap off the weekend that began with attending the NYS AHPERD conference at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY.

The main event consisted of people taking a plunge into the extremely cold waters off of Shepard Park Beach to benefit Special Olympics. People willing to "take the plunge" try to get friends and family to sponsor their plunge into the freezing water to raise money for Special Olympics. Many times, notable public figures decide to take the plunge knowing that they will be able to get more people to sponsor them than the average person. This year, Glens Falls Police Captain Will Valenza took the plunge. There are incentives to raising money, including sweatshirts, complimentary stays in a hotel, and even being entered in a drawing for a new television.

The event as a whole is extremely fun for anyone and everyone (except maybe the people taking the plunge after they get out...). There are many activities to take part in and the village itself is a very interesting place.

I was very pleased to see the amount of people who came out on a cold day and vowed to take the plunge into the cold water to raise money for an admirable cause such as Special Olympics. Special Olympics provides excellent opportunities for athletes with disabilities that they may otherwise not have. I think that I would like to vow to take the plunge in one of the next coming years and I will try to get sponsored and raise as much money as I can. Being cold for a few minutes after taking a quick dip in Lake George in November is a small price to pay to benefit such a worthy cause. Overall, the Polar Plunge is a great day out that benefits a good cause, whether you are taking the plunge or not.