This post is a simple and quick, but heartfelt, thank you to the nurse and tech staff of Unit 3C at Medstar Washington Hospital Center. 

This is the place that I’ve unexpectedly called home for the past month – more on that later – and I couldn’t be more thankful! Thank you all! After getting to know each of you for the past month I think it is obvious – I will miss you! 


I’m not rooting for any particular team, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not excited for this historic matchup! Today is Super Bowl Sunday, a day (and for some people, the day after is included!) that has basically amounted to a holiday in the United States! As an American, I love how purely and truly American this country’s obsession with the NFL is. But …

Congratulations to both teams who have made it to the Golden Super Bowl!
Congratulations to both teams who have made it to the Golden Super Bowl!
Read more after the jump …

Someone’s always watching.

Last year at a speaking event in Texas with a group of fourth graders, I was introduced to  the awesomeness of Kid President. His wittiness, optimism, and frank delivery made me an instant fan. Earlier this week, this picture was posted to his Facebook account. The quote caught my eye – because it’s essentially espousing many qualities that are very important to me: integrity, positivity, and optimism.

This is 100% precisely how I feel when it comes to my attitude and mindset. For me, it takes way less energy to have a positive mindset than a negative one. When I found myself getting down, I find myself getting tired; having a negative mindset just zaps the energy right out of me. Part of the reason I prefer being positive is that attitudes are contagious. Whomever may be watching may absorb those feels

And I mean this in a pretty informal way. It doesn’t have to be the fact that kids or elders may be watching you, but what if a complete stranger is watching you and something you do or a quality of your demeanor changes their entire train of thought? You may not ever know, but on the surface you have the potential to change that person’s life. It may seem like something small – but it doesn’t have to be, if you don’t want it to be. Even if they aren’t learning from you, they are at least observing you.

Think on that and consider adjusting your behavior accordingly? :)

The [Blacksburg] Stranger Dinners live on. 

If you’ve read HESONWHEELS for any legitimate period of time, you know all about how much I love to throw intimate gatherings called Stranger Dinners. If you haven’t, that’s okay – catch up here. :)

When I first started planning these dinners, I never thought of any kind of “legacy” that could be formed from it. I just thought it was a little hobby that I would keep executing as I continued to travel, and meet more “1 new person everyday”‘s and things like that (what horrible grammar…I’m not sure how else to say that though!). So you can understand that I was both shocked and humbled when I received this message from my friend Alex G. a few months back, just a few days after my birthday.

Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 11.45.15 PM

The next semester, Alex was full speed ahead. In the Facebook group, he described them as “Stranger Dinners are a way for people in the Blacksburg area to meet and connect with others! (inspired by Justin Graves)”. WUT. Inspired? WUTTTTTTTT. Mind blown. 

And his intentions were incredibly spot on. After I explained some of the loose mechanics behind the Stranger Dinner Alex said,

“I feel like there are so many people (especially underclassmen now that I’m a junior) on the campus who have wonderful stories and would be great friends if the right opportunity came along to meet them.”

That is what meeting 1 new person everyday is all about, precisely. With that ethos, I was ecstatic to see Stranger Dinners continue in Blacksburg.

On top of that, I was impressed by Alex reaching out because although we have met a couple of times on-campus while I was still a student, it’s not like Alex and I are super duper close. I always appreciate people that reach out in situations like that. To close, I want to share a photo from Alex’s first Stranger Dinner as curator. I want to also give a shout out to my friend Kaylyn D., who attended one of the previous Stranger Dinners that I curated in Blacksburg…and attended this one as well!

Mission Stranger Dinner: success! Photo taken in February 2016, Gillie’s, Blacksburg, VA. Thanks, Kaylyn!


What do new Barbies have to do with me?

Fact: kids love toys. All toys. My favorite the I was growing up? Hands down, the Power Rangers. I’m pretty stoked there’s a new Power Rangers moving coming out next year, too. But let’s stay on topic.

Had to. I always wanted an orange power ranger though. instead, the green was my favorite. And then white. Basically, I just wanted to be Tommy. Ironically enough, my favorite Rugrat was, also, Tommy. What a coincidence…?

Toys. They help pass the time, mentally stimulate, and provide a sense of attachment. Playing with them is important, as they help kids grow up and as they get older their toys get older and become more mature, too. Go to any local kid environment, and I bet you’ll find a kid walking around, maybe, with a doll that looks just like them…or would you? Here we go. Here’s what the new line of toy Barbies has to do with me.

For decades, social scientists have thoroughly researched  the potential importance for a toy doll to resemble the appearance of the child, particularly in terms of race and skin color. For example, all the way back in the 1940s psychologists Mamie and Ken Clark conducted research that is now known in most social science circles as “The Doll Test.” Here’s what it looked like, in a nut shell (but please do mind the bias: this video, the shortest I could find, is exclusively from the perspective of African-American kids):

Read more after the jump …

Flint Water Crisis + VT.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the issues with the water supply in Flint, Michigan. I’ve paid much attention to and followed the story on the news in recent weeks, as folks call for the Governor of Michigan to resign, people at the EPA have lost their jobs, and most importantly the people of Flint have been subjected disgusting levels of lead in water that they have been using to bathe, eat, and otherwise live.

Primarily, I write about this here because having clean and running water (and consequently access to quality plumbing) is the first-world benefit that I’ve never quite felt that I’ve taken for granted. Especially as a person with a disability, there are so many aspects of my life that are made possible due to clean, running water, that are even more serious than being able to take a hot shower in the morning.

Secondarily, I write because there’s a connection to Virginia Tech. If you visit this page you’ll learn much more about the students and faculty and Virginia Tech whose research has been mentioned in relation to the Flint Water Crisis in the media in the past few weeks. It’s unfortunate that I can even say “the past few weeks” because this issue began back in the spring of 2014. It’s just now coming to light 2 years later. A state of emergency was only just established earlier this month.

To be clear, the research these folks have done has saved lives. As a result of the water crisis, lives have been lost. People’s lives will, also, be affected for years to come as diseases and other ailments come to light as a result of the lead exposure. This is life-changing for these folks.

Tonight, Marc and the team are holding a prezo in Blacksburg about the work they’ve done. Here’s a link to the live stream, if you’re interested; I’ll definitely be watching.