Random Thoughts by Uncle Dale: Favorite Scientist

This is my son Max, and that is his favorite scientist Neil Degrasse Tyson. Most people don’t have a favorite scientist, but Max does.

On the day this was taken Max spent the afternoon running from one sold out Hall at the local university to another in a desperate bid to see NDT speak live, even if it was a closed circuit projection from a building all the way across campus.

He literally got the last seat available to anyone.

We came to pick him up when it was over and Max asked if we could wait in line (where NDT was signing books) so he could see him in person.

Now, I had promised Max I would drive him there and got stuck in traffic so I was late (part of the reason for the ticket scramble) and I felt a little guilty.

So we got in line.

And waited.

And waited.

For over two hours we stood on the steps of a winding staircase heading to the top most floor of the performance center where NDT had lectured. It was well after midnight when we approached the table.

NDT’s people kept a pretty tight schedule for him and it was, as I said, after midnight so they were hurrying everyone through the “sign the book-thank you-bye” assembly line. But when Max approached the table NDT stopped the well oiled machine.

Max had brought him a lab coat to sign.

He also had a book (not a book written by NDT, a children’s book about space).

And a lab coat.

NDT looked at the coat and then at Max and asked, “you’re not an evil genius are you? Because I gotta ask, what kid your age comes equipped with his own lab coat?”

Then he chatted with Max. Not long, but long enough for Max to know his favorite scientist took a real interest in him.

When Max proffered the book NDT pointed out that he did not write it.

Max replied, “I know. But it’s my first book about space. It’s the book that made me want to be a scientist and it’s what started me on my way to meet you.”

NDT took the book and signed it.

Then he did the Nerd Fighter “handshake” with Max, complete with hand motions and DFTBA!

Then the moment was over. But in that moment Max knew that for just a brief few seconds (a dot on and infinite dot in the universal scale) he, Max, was the most important thing in the world to his hero.

I found this picture the other day and when I looked at it again and remembered that moment I realized…

I have a favorite scientist.

🎼Oh There’s Nothing Like Swag for the Holidays…

Ho Ho Hello to all! Uncle Dale here! That slightly odd uncle you can love from afar because you never have to worry about being seated next to at the family dinner!

The Swag Goddesses have the elves working overtime to meet your orders! The links are at the bottom! The elves love what they do, and if you hurry they can still get this to you in time to give your friend who is Deaf:

Or this for the newly certified interpreter:

Or this for the hard working CA in your life who takes that midnight shift:

Or this for… you know who:

Or this for yourself (to wear when you see you know who):

You can even make a custom order with any Rule you want! (Fingers crossed, eyes closed, Rule 276, please someone, Rule 276…)

If you do please send me a picture!!!!

The elves are waiting! And all of them are wearing this reminder:

Be sure not to miss the other incredible items the Swag Goddesses produce to satisfy all your slightly or majorly snarky needs!

Uncle Dale’s Rules for Women

Uncle Dale’s Rules for Men

Random Thoughts by Uncle Dale: Dear Police, Please Stop Shooting Deaf People.  


It is not easy to be a police officer.  As I am not a cop I only get that in an academic sense. But I do get it.

It’s not easy to be a person who is Deaf. As I am hearing I only understand that in an academic sense. But to the extent possible, I do understand.

It seems that every time the police shoot a Deaf person (or an unarmed black man for that matter) I am encouraged by some news outlets, as well as by some people I love and respect, to feel more sorry for the hard lot that police officers have to face than for the victim of the police officers’ uncalculated (hopefully) act. They talk about fear, and stress and “tunnel vision,” words that offer no comfort when applied to a public servant we have armed and trust with the responsibility of deadly force.

I hear about split second decision-making being the difference between life and death.  But then I must balance that against arrogance like the police arresting nurses for having the temerity to talk back when ordered to violate the Constitution.

I grew up in a very monochrome world.  The world of my youth was white and so I had a very difficult time mentally processing the plight of being Black in America.  I will admit it never crossed my mind, in any appreciable way, until I went to Wisconsin with a gentle giant of a man. A Buddhist. A Black man.  We were teaching theatre classes in a community program and every time we went into a restaurant it seems they had just run out of whatever it was he ordered. I asked aren’t you outraged? He said “of course, but it’s only food and I will not trade my soul for it.”  He is one of the best men I’ve known.

It’s hard to make the leap from bad service to a bullet.  Especially when, for me, bad service is just bad service, it’s never a statement of hate, and a bullet is just unthinkable-meaning I never need to think about it, because wherever I go I am white.

I lived in Harlem for a short time.  I did not gain enlightenment there because it’s Harlem and the plight is harder to see, oh and I am white.  Maybe that’s the reason I did not have an epiphany living in Harlem.     It may be so obvious there but I missed the point completely… because I’m white.

If I really tried to pin point the time I finally saw it, or at least the hint of it, it was during law school in Boston.  Subtle, engrained racism. I saw it, finally. At first it was still so detached from my day-to-day reality I didn’t connect it. Then I met people that I started to love. People of Color that I loved, and there it was! Institutionalized, casual, pervasive racism directly impacting friends.  It did not start when I noticed it. I started to see it because it weighed down not just people I met, but people I loved. Shame on me for not seeing it earlier.  Not until I “had a reason to.”  I ALWAYS should have had a reason to.

I’m not even sure the exact day it hit me. The day or moment that I realized they are shooting people I love.  They are shooting people.

They are shooting people because of the color of their skin.

This gets me to today.

They are shooting people who are Deaf.

They shoot people who are Deaf not out of any sense of animus (who ever said “I hate Deaf people”). They shoot Deaf people out of fear and laziness.

I love the Deaf Community.  I love their language and humor and inner strength that comes from the fact that just identifying themselves as a culture is an act of rebellion.  Loving their own Deafness is daily sedition. They are cool that way.

You love those you serve.  I love the Deaf Community.

I love Magdiel Sanchez.  I never met him, but I can say without reservation that I love him. And they shot him, because he was Deaf.  They shot him because law enforcement training gives the briefest nod to dealing with citizens with disabilities and even less to people who are Deaf.

A few years ago as part of a case I did a survey of law enforcement policies in my state and found a troubling trend.  Some had policies for communicating with “suspects who are hearing-impaired,” but none had policies for communicating with citizens who are Deaf. In other words if you are only trained to deal with suspects who are Deaf then every person who is Deaf is a suspect.

Mr. Sanchez was not a suspect.  Mr. Sanchez was in his own yard.  Now, Mr. Sanchez did have a pipe.  Mr. Sanchez had a pipe. Not a gun. A pipe. The police officer that pulled the trigger had tried to talk or engage with Mr. Sanchez before he decided to pull out his gun, so he had the time to evaluate the difference between a pipe and a gun.  His partner, having all the same time and information pulled out his Taser. The police officer that shot Mr. Sanchez was not making a split second decision.

The police officer that shot Mr. Sanchez was not making a split second decision.  He had tried to talk to Mr. Sanchez.  The neighbors had time to warn the officer that Mr. Sanchez was Deaf. The second that was “split” was long gone. His partner, having all the same number of seconds pulled out his Taser.

The neighbors were yelling at the police officers explaining to them that Mr. Sanchez was Deaf.  The police officer that shot Mr. Sanchez had all the information he needed to not pull the trigger, before pulling the trigger.  His partner, having all the same information used his Taser.

One officer pulled out his Taser, and the other pulled his gun.

One officer pulled his gun on a man with a pipe while he was being told the man was Deaf, and pulled the trigger because the Deaf man failed to obey his commands.  The other pulled his Taser in order to control the situation if the pipe came too close.

One officer pulled his gun on a non-suspect who was sitting in his own yard because all Deaf people are suspects.

One officer pulled his gun while his partner pulled his Taser.

His partner pulled his Taser.

I’m not a cop. I have never had to deal with split second decisions that could mean the difference between life and death.  But here is the important part.  The part not to miss in this story. The police officer that shot Mr. Sanchez was NOT dealing with a split second decision. He made a choice.  He had a choice, gun or Taser.  We know he had that choice because the other officer pulled his Taser.

The officer with the gun chose to ignore his training on the principle of “situational awareness.” To ignore the information he had access to from the neighbors, who were obviously there before the officer or his gun, and willingly, adamantly provided Intel that could inform the officer’s choice-as it seems to have informed his partner’s.  The officer pulled his gun and in doing so chose to ignore the very idea of protecting the public, even the suspect (who was not a suspect), from harm if at all possible.  He chose to pull his gun because he was scared or lazy or both, but not because it was necessary.

How can I state that it was “not necessary?” I was not there!

His partner pulled his Taser.

Please law enforcement.  Please.

Please stop shooting People of Color.

Please stop shooting people who are Deaf.


Random Thoughts by Uncle Dale: 2017 International Week of the Deaf/Sign Language

Take a minute to share your love of ASL with someone who doesn’t sign…preferably someone who knows you sign, or it just becomes some kind of modern dance performance art and you are just viewed as pretentious for having snobby inaccessible tastes in art… and you will want to explain that in the truest interpretation of the term they are very accessible (first pun not intended but the second totally was) but don’t explain yourself! Keep the mystery alive…

Happy 2017 International Week of Sign Language!