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Day 1 – Airports

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    The day was finally here, Scarlett and I arrived at the airport at 5:50 in the morning for our 7: 50 flight to LAX. My dad pushed me to the “check your baggage” area where Scarlett was waiting with her mom, sister, and our mentor, Kaye, who came just to see us off and take pictures. After we checked our luggage it was time to say our goodbyes and to begin out two week journey. We were sent off by taking photos with everyone and echoing goodbyes till we couldn’t see each other anymore. Accessibility or not I was off to Japan, my dream.
     I was pretty familiar with the airport regimen, security, waiting at the gate, and getting on and off the plane (first one on, last one off). There was one thing that I was unsure about as far as the trip to Osaka, Japan and that was using the restroom. I don’t like using public restrooms for multiple reasons (entrances and stalls aren’t always wheelchair friendly, doors, cleanliness, nervousness, and etc) and the way restrooms on the airplanes are I won’t even attempt them for the obvious reasons. Given that I traveled across the US with my business plan team and was at school most of the time, I got over my fear of using the public restrooms by asking a friend to take me and help me get to the stall. With that said I was with a girl and with a push wheelchair, so my normal crutch was gone. We got through security and found our gate before we did anything else. With an hour to spare we went to find some breakfast although I didn’t get anything. After Scarlett got a bite to eat we talked while we waited in anticipation for our flight. Before boarding, we managed to find an “assisted restroom” where she could park me inside the restroom and wait outside the door while I used the restroom. Finding the “assisted restroom” made me feel tremendously better about the 25 hour trip to Osaka (flight + layovers).
     We got to LAX, where we had a 3 hour layover, without a problem. We found the gate for our flight to Tokyo which was 11 hours long and again worried me because it meant 11 hours without a restroom. Since I was restroom conscious I made a point to not eat or drink. Scarlett had a small lunch knowing we would be served lunch and dinner on the plane.
     Since we had time to kill, we decided to exchange the $300 cash I brought to yen; we got 20,000 yen (the amount of yen you should get for $255) for 300 dollars. We returned to the gate and learned that’s what happens when you exchange dollars for foreign currency when the currency is still foreign (we should have waited to do it in Tokyo). As the time got closer to board a person came up to me and asked me if I needed an aisle chair, to which I said, “No, I can walk”. After she left Scarlett exclaimed, “Woah, she was the first one to talk to you and not me.”
     Next we went to look for an “assisted restroom” so I could try and go to the restroom before the 11 hour flight. We couldn’t find any so we asked the help desk if there were any. The lady replied to Scarlett (didn’t even look at me), “No, we don’t. You can take him to the girl’s restroom though.” That is something my mom did when I was younger than 5 and had no other choice; now, I’m 23 traveling with a female friend. We went back without me using the restroom; I didn’t really need to go it was just to put me at ease for the length of the flight. When we got back to the gate, we noticed that the flight was delayed an hour. I contemplated either just using the men’s restroom or risking it and trying to make it all the way to Tokyo. (Just flying for 11 hours was risking it.) I risked it.
    We boarded the plane where I was looking forward to watching good movies all the way to Tokyo. Soon after we lifted off I ate some of our snacks we brought from home. I tried watching movies, but with a mixture of bad movie selection, bad ear bud headphones, and lack of sleep, I was unable to make it through a single movie. We were served lunch and after not eating the barely edible main course, we just ate some of the sides and drank the 8 oz. of water that came with the meal.  For dinner, we opted for only the sides. About an hour before landing the anticipation started to kick in again. Scarlett filled out the immigration papers given to us at the beginning of the flight. I managed to make it to Tokyo without having to use the restroom!
     Even though we were elated to be in Tokyo, we waited for the aisles to be clear. Scarlett walked with me off the plane with her carry-on to where my chair awaited us. Shortly after getting situated in the chair, a guy with a sign that read “Justin Farley” came and helped Scarlett push me while she carried her bag. He first asked me if I needed to use the restroom to which I said no thanks (probably should have, but I was overwhelmed by being in Japan and didn’t want to make him wait). He then helped us through customs, baggage claim, check baggage, security, and getting us to our gate. In customs, I struggled with the right index finger fingerprint so he helped me guide my finger and held it still without any hesitation while the scanner took the image. In baggage claim, he took over the baggage cart when we got the luggage and let Scarlett push me. In check baggage, they asked us questions about the wheelchair (for in plane storage purposes), then asked us whether I could walk up stairs just in case the plane wasn’t attached to a dock.
 In security, they just patted me down and afterwards I said my first “arigato” of the trip. The girl laughed and said it back to me (I finally made it). We reached a bakery with snacks and he asked if we were hungry and again I said no thanks (he was just so nice, I didn’t want to make him wait on us).  As soon as we reached the gate the guy left and told us he would be back. Everyone we had met with to this point was Japanese and they did the best they could to communicate with us. I just sat, flabbergasted that I was in Japan. I was mesmerized just watching the flight attendants bow to each other (as a sign of respect) and looking at the Japanese television near us.
     Right before boarding our guy came back to help us. When we got on the flight the attendants greeted us and helped Scarlett with her bags while she walked with me. Once seated a flight attendant came over and asked if we needed anything. Even though she was speaking to us in English, I was still on the Japanese channel in my brain so I said “arigato.” She couldn’t understand me and after repeating it twice more I said “thank you” instead. This plane ride we conked out and slept pretty much all the way to Osaka.
In Osaka we waited till the plane was clear, but before we moved the flight attendant came and got Scarlett’s bags for her and walked with us to the exit. My wheelchair was right outside, with someone ready to push me where ever we needed to go. As soon as I sat down I lifted my feet and 2 flight attendants folded down my foot rests simultaneously. We got treated so well Scarlett had to exclaim how wonderful they were and how good the service was to the flight attendants. Even though most of them probably couldn’t understand her they smiled, laughed, and said “arigato” or “thank you” depending if they knew any English or not.
     The girl pushing me escorted us to baggage claim where Scarlett’s luggage came out first. While she was getting her bag I saw mine so I yelled to her, “Grab my bag too.” But before I knew it, the girl that was pushing me ran over and grabbed my luggage for me. This was probably due to the fact she saw the accessible tags on my suitcase (previously put on in Tokyo when they checked our luggage).  After we had finished getting our bags we were taken out to the taxis. Once outside we were asked if we were paying by credit card or cash, I said cash, hoping that the 20,000 yen we exchanged for in LAX would be enough.
We hopped in a taxi and left for the Sheraton Hotel. Scarlett and I stared out of the windows at all the different billboards and lights amazed we were finally in Osaka heading to our hotel after 25 hours of traveling. Being the first time in a taxi where I had to pay, I was constantly looking down at the meter to see if we were going to actually have enough yen for the fare. We luckily did (even though we got ripped off by the exchange rate, I was glad we exchanged currencies in LAX), the meter read 6,000 yen when we reached the hotel. We paid the guy (no tipping in Japan) while the bellhop grabbed our bags and my wheelchair.
     We headed in with the bellhop escorting us to the reservation desk with our luggage. Scarlett parked me while she went to ask about our room. While I sat there waiting a little kid was running circles around me and staring at me; both Scarlett and I laughed wondering what he was doing. I said, “Konnichiwa” to him (hello in Japanese) and he stopped so then we went up to our room with the bellhop. Once the bellhop left our room I checked if the toilet had a built in bidet (buttons on the side of the toilet), after seeing It did I asked if Scarlett wanted to try the bidet first. Hearing Scarlett shriek as she tried it, I wanted to try it. After finally using the bathroom, I tried the bidet for myself; by Scarlett’s reaction I was expecting something more extreme, but it is just a gentle squirt (you could control the temperature and the pressure).
     We were hungry and exhausted so once we were situated in the hotel room we decided to go to the restaurant in the hotel just for a quick bite to eat. At the first glance at the menu I was very disappointed to see it had only western style food.  Fearful of my silverware dilemma, I ordered fried chicken (finger food). Before our meals came out our waitress came out holding a regular set of silverware and tried to ask me something which I couldn’t understand, but she was looking at me when she said it so I nodded with a “hai” (ok or yes in Japanese) and an “arigato”. After shamefully eating my fried chicken as my first meal in Japan, we were ready for bed.  Even though we had really only experienced the airports, Japan was amazing and already becoming a dream come true.

Pre-Japan

     Around the age of 16, I remember watching an anime with my brother and telling him, “One day I won’t need subtitles.” Since then I started a Japanese course at school, but due to my entrepreneurship program requirements I was only able to complete one semester. I figured I would have to study on my own so I bought Rosetta Stone and completed levels 1-3.  Now I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to study online although I was so busy last semester, I got discouraged and stopped studying Japanese. This was simply due to the fact that there was no good way for me to retain the Japanese I learned.
     While I was doing all this I became more and more enthralled with the Japanese culture and I would constantly look for information to learn more about it. I would watch anime, and Japanese dramas daily (with subtitles). Several years ago I watched a drama called “Ichi Rittoru no Namida” or “One Liter of Tears” which I thought did a very good job of depicting someone living with a disability. It’s a true story about a girl who was diagnosed with a degenerative disability at the age of 15. Watching this made me fall in love with everything Japanese and made me interested on the topic of disability and Japan. Most of what I read about was how Japan was not handicap or accessibility friendly and in some families having a kid with disability brought shame to the family so they were mostly kept inside and hidden. Reading articles about this made me cringe, but everything I saw as the culture as a whole made me love Japan; respect, etiquette, values, traditions, and family oriented (and not to mention the yummy food). I started wanting to go there and maybe live there one day even though I kept reading bad stuff about disabilities there.
     I saw another Japanese drama recently called “Umareru” that touched on the topic of families keeping their kids with disabilities hidden. It was a drama about parents giving birth to kids with Down syndrome and their feelings about it; it gave all mixed opinions from shame to equal treatment. Seeing these dramas made me believe that they were aware of these issues and wanted to make other people aware of them too. More and more I wanted to go to Japan and more and more I would look up, watch, read, and study things about Japan. For me, Japan also gave me the sense of independency. I would occasionally look up foreign abroad programs to learn Japanese and accessibility. Not being able to find the information I need, I would get discouraged. But every time I was discouraged something else would encourage me again.
     Given the success of Unlimiters in the business plan competitions, I started contemplating how and when I could achieve my goal of going to Japan. With the push to start Unlimiters, I started to feel like I was not going to achieve it anytime soon. After weeks of contemplating Japan and Unlimiters with my family, my sister came up with the simple yet, brilliant idea of just going there for sometime during my summer break. After hearing this idea I went home to search for summer programs that I could register for; I found a bunch that looked interesting, but none of them had any information on accommodations for people with disabilities. My dad and I contacted some places, they were very helpful and said they would not have a problem accommodating; the problem was that the programs weren’t all day or even every day. And Japan was way too unknown to us to say whether I could manage Japan alone.
     To us this meant I needed someone to go with me. My goal was to go by myself, but given all the unknowns it would be difficult to manage a trip alone. I decided just to invite a friend to come with me without doing any sort of program. I came up with the idea of inviting my good friend, Scarlett who hadn’t ever been out of the country before; she was overjoyed with the invitation. Soon after I invited her and we talked about it, I bought our tickets to Osaka, Japan for August 13th – 28th.
     Scarlett and I became great friends in the entrepreneurship program. My mentor had been her mentor the previous year as she was in the class above mine. We were introduced when our mentor asked me to come to one of their meetings and we have been good friends ever since. Being that it was her first trip out of country and my first real trip alone we were pretty anxious. We met up weekly to discuss the trip.
     We also came up with a list of things to do to get ready; the two most important being hotel and passports. We both had to get our passports, mine renewed and her first one. Since she is a Starwood employee she managed to get us a super good deal on a Sheraton in Osaka. With our passports, plane tickets, and hotel reserved we were ready to go. As the trip came closer the more I would look up articles on disability and Japan. The articles I read said the same thing as I have been reading that Japan wasn’t accessible and you don’t see many people with disabilities there. More and more I would worry about the accessibility, and the overall treatment of people with disabilities in Japan, but I didn’t let that get me down.
     I also knew Japan was big on etiquette and cleanliness so I started worrying about the little things like eating without chopsticks and/or with my hands or taking my shoes off when needed. I respected the Japanese culture so much I didn’t want to do anything that showed or could indicate disrespect. I would constantly tell people that there were 2 options for this trip, option #1, love it over there and make me want to live in Japan more one day or option #2, get treated badly and forget about it and aim for something else. Sadly, I was thinking it might be the latter of the two, but I still had high expectations.
     The weekend before the big day after telling my brother about my fears, he posted on Reddit (popular discussion website) asking for advice for me in hope that people would say things to make me feel more at ease, but most everyone who replied reconfirmed my fears. When Sunday came around Scarlett and I planned to meet at the Airport Monday morning at 5:50.

An Incredible Semester (part 2)

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At the beginning of the second semester of the WCE my mentor, Kaye and I started to talk about the possibilities of creating an Unlimiters product line. She told me of a program in the Architecture college where students design products called the ID (industrial design) program. She thought it would be interesting if we went and talked to the director of the program about Unlimiters. She knew the director from past work in the College of Architecture and thought Unlimiters could be a great opportunity for the ID program since the products would be user-based and would bring a different experience for the students. The day of the meeting I had a bad cold so I was not at 100% during the meeting, but we told her all about Unlimiters and suggested it for a part of her curriculum. We left with her saying she was on board and would think about adding an “Unlimiters” project to her curriculum for her incoming class; she also invited us to the final review of her senior class to show us their capabilities. With no idea what being a part of the curriculum would entail, I was excited nonetheless. A little while after I had this meeting, I joined the business plan team. I brought two people from the team to the final review to show them what I had in the workings. At the end of the review the director of the ID program told me that she was definitely putting Unlimiters as a part of her curriculum for the incoming class, but she was unsure whether it would be the next semester or the semester after.
     It turned out to be the following semester because a month before spring break I received an email asking if my mentor and I could come by her office to talk about the “Unlimiters” project. She told me her plans were to make each student in her class of 13, design a product that was focused around me. She asked if it was ok if her class followed me, filmed me, and asked me questions for an entire week. Being so excited and thankful for the opportunity I could only say “awesome” which merely translates to “yes”.
     A week later I was introduced to the class and the class was introduced to their subject (me).  After the introduction I preceded to hang out with them in their studio, they were extremely accepting and immediately I felt comfortable with everyone. While in the studio they broke up into four groups and assigned each group a part of my daily routine, such as getting up, going to school, eating, studying, and etc. They also divided up the days, Tuesday through Friday.  The week this began I was a bit nervous because I did not know what to expect, but knowing they were all cool people I was able to relax. It was awkward being filmed through it all, but throughout the week it felt like I was just hanging out with good friends with no fear of being judged. It was almost like being followed by paparazzi, I was filmed eating, walking, locking my door, putting things in my wallet, and etc. They captured it all and what they didn’t have on tape they would ask me about and would record me or jot down notes.
     I was an open book and answered all their questions honestly and did anything they asked. Many times I was asked the same things asked by the previous groups, but I did not mind and answered everybody’s questions. Doing this with me for an entire week allowed them to collect data on me and gave them ideas on what kind of product they would design. A few days after spring break they wanted me to join them in their studio to go over their findings. After looking at all of the data they collected, I was astonished how well they knew me. Making references to things I didn’t know about myself and things I knew, but didn’t make clear; such as, saying something was because of laziness when it had more to do with my disability. So, amazed by that finding, I told them the reason behind this was I hate pointing to or blaming my disability for anything.
     As soon as the students decided what area exactly they wanted to focus on, the filming and the questioning started all over again, but this time individually and much more focused. I was filmed walking in front of people, getting dressed, bathing (with a bathing suit), opening containers, and on and on. This continued throughout semester. I would constantly hang out at their studio answering their questions, testing out their prototypes, and just to hang out. There were many nights where I stayed there until after 11; it was like my third home. First being my apartment, second being the WCE working on the business plan and the presentation for the business plan competitions, and the third being the ID studio. As they got closer to their final review I made a point to be at the studio as much as I could answering as many questions as they had. Sadly due to our final competition in Orange County I couldn’t attend the final review. But they held a separate event for me, my family, and the business plan team where they each presented their designs to us. Everything we saw was a great design. I was so grateful for the whole experience and can confidently say I have 13 new friends.
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Some examples of the designs include:
Wheelchair briefcase – an adaptable wheelchair easy accessible bag
Newly designed wallet – made the contents in the wallet easier to grab
Electrical outlet add-on – made it easier to plug things in to an electrical outlet
Dispenser – made it easier to pour a measurable amount of solids
Holder/opener- made it easier to open things with one hand
Button looper – made it easier for me to button buttons

An Incredible Semester (part 1)

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When I entered the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, I had been discussing the concept of Unlimiters with my dad for over two years.  During the second semester of the program I was approached by a group of four students who wanted to help me develop my concept further and enter the idea in business plan competitions representing the school. I gladly accepted the help and joined the team. The first thing we did as a group was recruit MBA students by presenting the idea to a MBA entrepreneurship class. Our presentation went over well enough that we had 6 to 7 interviews to narrow it down to two students to help us with the process. The remaining weeks of the semester we spent talking about the idea and refining it.
     The writing of the business plan began shortly before our third semester in the program. We put one of the MBA students in charge of developing the “beta” website which we planned to use mainly for a marketing analysis tool. We spent a lot of time together discussing the logistics of the business plan and the time we spent apart was dedicated to writing our designated sections of the plan. As soon as we felt a bit comfortable with the plan we started to talk about the competitions we were going to enter. We decided to enter five different competitions even though two wanted us to submit our business plan right away before we were completely ready.  We were declined by the first one since the plan was our first rough draft.
     As time went on we continued editing our plan and practicing our presentation; we presented to our class many times before our first competition in Nebraska. The general format of the competitions we entered was a 10 to 15 minute presentation and then 10 to 15 minutes of Q&A with a panel of judges. A week prior to the competition in Nebraska, we had to submit our plan and by this point we felt pretty good about it.   During our spring break we had two competitions to go to, one in Nebraska and another one in California.
     In Nebraska we placed first in the undergrad category. The day before we presented, we had a booth up displaying information about Unlimiters. We had many people, judges and other teams, pass by our booth surprised at the fact that we were undergrads. The second competition was the one where we had to submit our first rough draft, and it was also one where we had had to take our MBA student to since it was a grad level competition. We were the only under grads at this competition, and the only thing that qualified us was our MBA student. We did not place in California, but we managed to get a standing ovation, a venture capitalist interested, and we advanced to the wild card round (meaning that in the first leg of the completion we got second place out of five).  We strongly believe that if we weren’t judged on our first rough draft of the plan, we would of easily advanced to the finals. Once we got back from California we had a month break until our next round of competitions. In that time we made slight changes to the business plan and the presentation. The third competition in Dallas was during the last day of Wolffest (out senior term project running a food stand for three days). We managed to fly out to Dallas the night of our second day at Wolffest. We got there and learned we had to be up at 7 am the following morning.  Unrehearsed, we felt like we needed to practice before going to bed. We made it to bed at 11 pm and made it to TCU at 8 am where we learned we were the first to present in our leg; meaning that we had virtually no time to rehearse beforehand. We managed to place second meaning we weren’t finalists but giving us another chance to advance to the finals in the wild card round. The next day, after waking up a little after the first round we came in first in the wild card round. Then, on the third day after a good night’s sleep, we came in first beating the school that beat us the previous day. The following week we headed to Orange County for our final competition where we competed with undergrads, grads and doctorates; we tied for second place. Four competitions, two first place finishes, a second place, and one, well we tried.
     We presented one last time at our graduation for families, students, teachers, and faculty to see our winning presentation. All in all, it was an amazing experience.
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Video of our presentation (and Q&A) at TCU:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqJowLfOERY

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Mike Piazza, Matt Damon, Charlize Theron and other celebrities meandered through a casino’s grand opening Thursday night in Las Vegas. At Nine, an upscale restaurant and bar serving delectable crab cakes and spicy chicken skewer, they could have stared at a beautiful naked woman posing on top of a bar. On the other end of the Palms, the new casino owned by the Maloof family, was a sports book with all the amenities for the gambling lifer.

They came over and wanted to know why I was sitting there. I bought the ticket. I said why do you guys keep staring at me. Hate the army, f the police, the government are all w nkers, the civil service useless. But don you say a word against our NHS. Do that and by God you cross a line..

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The CNC recently stepped up the number of officers guarding the Sellafield plant in Cumbria

The 1,000 officers in its workforce also protect highly radioactive material as it travels across the country. In one case, a police constable allegedly tested positive for cannabis at work.

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Bowyer also stopped by the studios at KXAS NBC 5 in Fort Worth to celebrate NASCAR’s new television partnership with parent company NBC that began this season. The AAA Texas 500, as well as the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Texas Motor Speedway, both will be broadcasted live on NBC..

Tim Ludlow, Kyle Blair and David Mayer have continued to step up for Coach Pete Moran this season. Expect a low scoring, defensive type of game if the scores hold up for either team this year. The winner advance to the district championship game Saturday against the LaBrae Grand Valley winner..

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I think they’ve demonstrated themselves to be people of less than perfect judgement in their own right.ALISON CALDWELL: What about, though, this line?: “never in the two and a quarter centuries of our history has the United States been so isolated among the nations, so broadly feared and distrusted?”FRANK GAFFNEY: It is a strong statement that I think is incorrect. I think there are a number of times you can point to in the course of our history when we have been regarded with disdain, in some cases with contempt. It is the kind of hyperbole that I think ought to call into question some of the other judgements that are rendered here.ALISON CALDWELL: This statement comes the same day as the 9/11 Commission report which found no credible evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda.

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This was the night when the Knicks might have been limping around like the old buzzards they truly are

Patrick Ewing could have been eating Alonzo Mourning’s dust, and Charles Oakley could have been looking up at P. J. I would really like to hear from veterans and the troops coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. Especially those who have been wounded. How are they and their families doing? Are they receiving help and getting benefits that they should be entitled to after the great sacrifices they have made fighting for us? Did they have adequate safety equipment while over there? It been said that McCain voted AGAINST veterans.

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The middle panel relates the intron/exon structure and protein regions to their presumed function. Note that the GR gene has five published125 and at least four additional untranslated exons 1 (Presul et al., in preparation) of unknown significance. A/b, c, d and e refer to protein regions of nuclear receptors, the numbers denote amino acid positions.25 AF, sequences implied in transactivation; DBD, DNA binding doman; LBD, ligand binding domain; NLS, nuclear localization sequenceFull figure and legend (170K)Cell death forms: apoptosis, necrosis and the ‘in betweens’Classically, two major cell death forms have been distinguished: (1) apoptosis, an active and ordered form of cellular suicide characterized by a number of morphologic criteria such as cell shrinkage, membrane blebbing, formation of apoptotic bodies, DNA cleavage and condensation, caspase activation, phosphatidylserine expression on the outer cell membrane, etc., and (2) necrosis or accidental cell death with membrane rupture and subsequent release of potentially inflammatory cell constituents into the surrounding tissue.

For educators, the http://www.cheapraybans2013.com focus should be on keeping more kids in class. Young people who are engaged in learning are less likely to become chronic truants, juvenile delinquents or, later in life, adult offenders. A 2005 study of Chicago schools called “The Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track” found that high rates of school suspensions carried over to higher percentages of black males in prison..

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