Sunday, January 31, 2016

New MD and Overall World Records for Dynamic Wheelchair Bowling!

Timo Toivonen: 257. That ridiculously good bowling score is now the top overall score in the world for a dynamic wheelchair bowler, and also ups the record for a male with muscular dystrophy.

Dynamic just means it incorporates the movement of the wheelchair, and is not stationary ramp bowling.

And for people who know me well, or are keeping track of such bowling records, yes, Timo broke my record of 255. But I know how difficult it is to bowl that well, so I "tip my cap" and offer sincere congratulations to Timo.

The details are here.

Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Monday, November 30, 2015

Wheelchair User Bowls a 232 and 607 Series

Last month, Curtis Wolff bowled a 232 in the first game of a three-game series totaling 607 pins. That is not too shabby for almost anyone, but it is ridiculously good for someone who is essentially paralyzed from his chest down.

Bowling 200+ in a single game is quite an achievement for a wheelchair user.

Bowling 600+ (total pins) for a three-game series is truly an extraordinary achievement for a wheelchair user.

To my knowledge, Curtis is now the third IKAN Bowler® user to have ever bowled a 600 series – but the first to do it during a sanctioned USBC league.

Curtis and seven other IKAN Bowler® users are members of the 200 club.

Here are the details in a slightly edited version from how he emailed them to me…

Hi Bill,

I just started my third year bowling in a USBC league with my IKAN Bowler. I am a C4, C5 quadriplegic with acute flaccid paralysis caused by the West Niles Virus.  We’ve corresponded in the past as I let you know about my first 200 game.  Since then I’ve had several more 200’s but this past week I hit a milestone.  Going into the tenth frame of my first game I had a legitimate chance to beat your record 255.  Well, your record is still intact as I actually opened in the tenth and ended up with a 232.

But that’s not the end. The next game I shot 187 and the last game was exciting as I needed a spare and count to break 600.  I didn’t choke this time and ended with a 188 and a 607 scratch series.

Before getting my illness I was a scratch bowler and competed at the national level.  And, while I reluctantly started to bowl again, I have persevered through starting all over and my league average is 154 and on the rise.  I’ve been consistently in the 500’s practicing this summer and fully anticipate to be averaging 180 or better by the end of this season.  My scores aren’t like the old days…. yet; but, the potential is there and am planning to compete in both the amateur bowler’s tour as well as national wheelchair tournaments in the near future.

Attached are my attested league scores as well as the computer printout from the AMF bowling center.  I’m not sure if this any type of record (I’ve seen your combined awesome score) but, I think it’s important to note this was true dynamic bowling and in a sanctioned USBC league utilizing two lanes in regular league play format.  Not a group outing. I have to wait my turn, going on and off the lanes, alternate lanes every other frame and keep up with everyone bowling on the pair. (Four person teams, 30 teams) Pretty tough to stay consistent.

A three game series of 607 is a 202.33 average. Not bad and, by the way, you can see I had a few opens so there is still room to improve. Next goal 700.

This attachment with my scoresheet should open in Adobe or other readers.

Hope all is well and if you can add this to the records some way it would be great. By the way I drive with a joystick and have limited hand movement.

Thanks for helping invent the IKAN Bowler and your hard work.  Hopefully we can meet sometime and feel free to contact me with any questions.

Curt Wolff
Thornton, Colorado 

 
Terrific bowling Curt!

And I am planning to add a page on the wheelchair bowling records website to recognize 200 and 600 club members and achievements.

Keep it up Curt – if you do have a 700 series, I will spotlight it too!
 
Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Strike for Vets

A bowling fundraiser called Strike for Vets was held earlier in October to help support a spinal cord injury recovery center in Tampa called Stay in Step (non-veterans can rehab there as well).

Daniel Bolan, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout with a bowling average over 200, met retired U.S. Army Special Forces Green Beret Romy Camargo, who was paralyzed in Afghanistan in 2008. Daniel created Strike for Vets to help Romy and others by raising money for the nonprofit organization Romy and his wife Gaby started, which operates the recovery center.

I had the pleasure of going to Tampa to meet and bowl with Daniel and Romy for a pre-event news story which demonstrated how the IKAN Bowler® enables quadriplegics like Romy and me to bowl. Another story covered the actual event, and both stories can be found on the news page of our IKAN Bowler® website:
http://www.ikanbowler.com/in-the-news.html

Besides wanting to give kudos and draw attention to Daniel, Romy, and everyone who helped make Strike for Vets a success, I am also blogging about this because Daniel is planning Strike for Vets II to be held in Orlando in either January or February. I intend to participate in the event.

So stay tuned for more about Strike for Vets II!

Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net
 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Personal Update, Trip to Atlanta

I do not typically share personal updates on this blog, instead I usually save those for an occasional email to my full email list (just ask if you want to be added or removed, no worries). But the latest update was very well received, and I thought… why not post it on my blog?

Here is a slightly edited version of what I  emailed six days ago…

Hello Everyone!

The last time I shared a personal update with you, I think it was in the spring when I was working as a graduate teaching assistant in the same Masters program from which I graduated. Serving in that capacity was a lot of fun, and I received very positive feedback from my students and also the professors I worked alongside.

I am kind of on sabbatical from teaching but would like to resume this spring. But not teaching this semester proved to be "good timing" (or God timing:) because it allowed me to be hired to present at a two-day workshop for Georgia Tech IT personnel. My topic was "web accessibility and voice software use."

Last week at this time, I was in Atlanta. And that exciting opportunity is largely what prompted me to write you all now.

We had a good trip, staying three nights in a nice hotel in downtown Atlanta. The workshop was largely to help Georgia Tech IT folks understand what it's like for people with disabilities to access websites, what barriers exist, and how they can make their website universally friendly. I actually was hired by "AMAC Accessibility Solutions and Research Center" to help them present for Georgia Tech IT staff, and I had the privilege of co-presenting with two gentlemen with vision impairments.

Watching them browse the Internet using screenreader technology was an eye-opening experience for this sighted person. I gave a brief PowerPoint presentation and also a live voice software demonstration both mornings, which freed up our afternoon schedules.

I enjoyed my official duties, and received positive feedback regarding my efforts, but also enjoyed meeting and getting a personal tour of AMAC headquarters from the Director who started it all, Dr. Christopher Lee. What he and they are doing is impressive. For example, they convert textbooks to accessible formats, including braille, for students all over the world, and if I'm not mistaken, they are tasked with making everything in the Library of Congress accessible (e-text, braille, etc.) as well.

We also indulged ourselves at a classic Atlanta fast food restaurant, The Varsity, which has been featured on the food network show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I wanted to try several things, and had a chili cheese slaw dog, French fries, onion rings, and fried peach pie. :-)



Me getting ready to go into The Varsity (click to enlarge)

That was all well and good, but it was also great to see old friends and make new ones at Shepherd Center, where I did my rehab 18 years ago. Connecting with a current Shepherd Center patient (a fellow ventilator user) and his wife was time very well spent. We did that both afternoons and had dinner with them in Shepherd's surprisingly-good cafeteria the second night. Eating in the cafeteria was nostalgic for my Dad (I was unable to eat during my two months of rehab at Shepherd).

As for now, I have plenty of projects keeping me busy. That seems to be a constant, and a good thing, because I enjoy getting things done. One such project I am trying to find more time for is working on my book, which is mostly autobiographical. It is not as easy to write as one might think (or at least as I originally thought:).

On a side note, I put together a little five shot clip of me bowling with our local Quad Squad group that was filmed in July:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHyAezq2cQM

Anyway… it has been a while since I wrote you folks on my full email list, so I thought I would share the above (if you want off my list, just reply with "unsubscribe" – no questions asked, no worries).

May God bless us all, and all glory to God.

 
Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Monday, August 31, 2015

Wheelchair Bowling Records

In 2009, I started a wheelchair bowling records website to share the bowling achievements of different types of wheelchair users, and also to share some of what is possible for people, despite certain physical conditions.

The focus of the website is on “dynamic-style” wheelchair bowling, i.e. bowling which incorporates the movement of the wheelchair and mimics the able-bodied bowling process. Like able-bodied bowlers, wheelchair users can set up, and then physically approach and release the ball while stopping short of the foul line. That is exactly what the IKAN (“I can”) Bowler® allows wheelchair users to do. And because it mimics the able-bodied bowling process, the United States Bowling Congress (USBC) sanctioned the IKAN Bowler® for league and tournament play – bowling with and/or against able-bodied bowlers or fellow IKAN users.

We developed the IKAN Bowler® to attach to almost any wheelchair, thus enabling people who can safely control their chairs to be able to bowl. For example, I am paralyzed from the neck down and ventilator dependent, and I have literally bowled two dozen games of 200 or better – and I drive my wheelchair with my mouth, using a sip-and-puff system.

Cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injury are three types of conditions which can result in the need for an electric/power wheelchair, and the IKAN Bowler® can enable us to bowl on a “level playing field” with the rest of the world. People with these types of conditions are featured on the records website, and records are also shown for different methods of operating a wheelchair (joystick, chin control, head array control, sip-and-puff, etc.).

Here is the website: WheelchairBowlingRecords.com

What about other wheelchair bowling styles and records?

For decades, I would think, manual wheelchair users who still have the upper body and grip strength have been able to “park” their wheelchair in front of the foul line, lean over and toss their bowling ball down the lane. Shawn Beam and George Holscher are two men who have bowled perfect 300 games doing so. But many people require electric/power wheelchairs for mobility, and do not have the physical ability to use their arms and swing a bowling ball.

Stationary ramps can be fun for people who have enough physical ability to aim the ramp, position the ball (how the ball is positioned on either a stationary ramp or IKAN Bowler® determines the shape of the shot), and push it down the ramp. But high-level quadriplegics, like me, and people in similar conditions cannot do that.

The IKAN Bowler® is a precision-engineered ramp which attaches to its users wheelchair. After a caddie positions the ball how we want it for the shot, the wheelchair user is in control and empowered to bowl and have fun in a physical way. Not many sports and recreational opportunities exist for people who are so physically limited. A major bonus is that it is sanctioned by the USBC, allowing for genuine competition, and increasing the thrill potential for those who like to compete.

The thrill of doing something formerly not thought possible (e.g. a quadriplegic bowling a legitimate strike) and also the thrill of competition (trying to beat someone else or achieve a certain score) those are genuine thrills. And that is why our company is named Manufacturing Genuine Thrills, because that’s what we do by providing the IKAN Bowler®. :-)

I just wanted to share about the records website, and why I developed it.

Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net

Friday, July 31, 2015

Budget Conscious Computer Deal for Voice Software Use

I recently wrote about hands-free computer use and shared a demo video of me using voice software thusly.

Utilizing voice software requires a sufficient computer, and I think I found a great deal for anyone who is budget conscious (and really, who isn't, right?).

I mentioned in my earlier writeup that many folks at KnowBrainer.com are genuine experts with voice software and also computer hardware. In their review of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13, they showed the manufacturer (Nuance) minimum requirements and recommended specifications for DNS 13, and also their KnowBrainer minimum and recommended specifications. (For details, see page 14 here.)

The deal I mentioned is currently for a refurbished HP Elitebook 8440P laptop with: Intel i5 2.53 GHz Dual Core Processor, 4 GB DDR3 RAM, Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit, DVD-RW drive, 14 inch display, 250 GB hard drive, 90 day warranty (that's pretty good on a refurbished product – just test it out shortly after getting it) and it is Wi-Fi ready… for just $170* and free shipping (it's actually $200 with a $30 rebate card):

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16883250503

For that low of a price, that is a pretty solid machine. It roughly meets the  recommended specifications from Nuance, and is pretty well on par with KnowBrainer's minimum recommendations. Of course, more RAM is better, as is a faster processor (and/or more processor cores), but if money is ultra tight, this is a machine that should run DNS 13 Premium pretty decently (Premium is the version of DNS I recommend for budget conscious folks, or most people, especially if you also get KnowBrainer's command/utility package – which many of my blog readers can probably get for free – see last paragraph).

Why Windows 7 you ask? Well, the touchscreen features that came along with Windows 8, those do hands-free users absolutely no good. I asked the question on the KnowBrainer message board about which operating system is best for hands-free use – Windows 7, 8, or perhaps 10 – and several people recommended Windows 7 at this point (thread details here).

Newegg.com is a reputable vendor and a "Google trusted store" which comes with $1000 of free protection (postpurchase). Some people said that the battery was dead on arrival and could not be charged (and may have left a less-than-great review accordingly) but others said they were able to get it replaced free of charge. There's also a 30 day refund or replacement option in addition to the 90 day warranty.

If you want more RAM, better processor, etc.… they have additional refurbished machines for more money, but still a really strong value in my opinion.

I'm thinking of getting a refurbished laptop as a backup machine (my current backup is having issues). I spend a lot of time using my computer, and if something happened to my primary machine, quite frankly, I would be "lost" without the ability to operate a computer as independently as I am currently able.

Speaking of budget conscious, Lunis Orcutt is the owner of KnowBrainer, and he offers the KnowBrainer command package/utility to people with significant physical disabilities at no cost. It is a very helpful program that makes DNS more user-friendly for hands-free use, and I thank Lunis for his generosity and desire to help.

May God bless us all.

Bill

William A. Miller, BSBA, ME
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
About Bill: http://www.lookmomnohands.net/About_Bill.htm

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wheelchair Programming for Bowling Success (with Video)

As THIS post from October explains, I got a new chair last year and it has taken a fair amount of time to program/test/tweak settings that I like for bowling.

I bowl about twice a month with other local wheelchair users (we call ourselves the Central Florida Quad Squad) and I am also unable to change the programming for the different drive modes on my new Permobil C300 wheelchair. Long story short, my wheelchair guy and I set up two similar-but-different bowling modes that I thought I would like. But I have been blessed that my new chair has not had too many issues, so I have not had a lot of appointments with my wheelchair guy, and again, bowling just twice a month… that combination results in a slow process to fine-tune the programming for bowling.

But I think we finally have my chair set up to where I can drive/bowl well using my sip-and-puff controls to direct my chair.

The key is to be able to drive slowly, and make minor turns/adjustments as you approach the foul line with the bowling ball atop your IKAN Bowler®. More specifically, the forward speed and acceleration need to be slow, as do the turning speeds. I have tried accelerating and driving fast, and doing so does not add much speed to the ball (at most, users can increase the ball speed from roughly 6.0 mph to 7.0 mph) and it's not worth the loss in accuracy. Driving slowly and in control is best for bowling.


EDIT: here is a video of me bowling on July 11, at our Quad Squad outing…
 

If you have any questions, or would like to see my actual programming speeds for bowling, feel free to contact me.

Bill Miller :-)
C1-2 Quadriplegic with a 255 High Bowling Game
Co-founder of Manufacturing Genuine Thrills Inc. d/b/a MGT
Business website: http://www.ikanbowler.com
Personal website: http://www.lookmomnohands.net