So the presentation went very very well. Everybody who is anybody in Oak Ridge showed up it seemed, and as more and more people got there, I got more and more intimidated. I never am too worried about public speeking. I don't have to fret about people looking at me, and I don't even have to imagine other people or people without clothes on. This is not to say that I am not nervous. Today was not an exception.
All nervousness aside, I did my presentation and told everyone how it is that I've been able to make chemical engineering accessible to blind people. This is such a foreign topic for most people who do not work with me on a daily basis that when they see some of the tools that we have developed, they are amazed. I approach the topic by looking at not how amazing it is, but by telling it how it is. I got lots of good questions, but the one that topped it off happened this way:
Question: So how has Oak Ridge been as far as accessibility? How has the town treated you.
Answer: Well, it's been pretty good to me. Everyone's been very friendly, and I've been able to get around pretty well using the Oak Ridge Transit. I think there are some people from the City Council in the audience today right?
Reply from a guy standing right near me: Yep, there are, in fact the mayor is sitting right in front of you. I'm the mayor, lay it on me!
I shouldn't have been embarrassed, but man was I. I'm just glad I didn't say anything too nonpolitically incorrect or bad about Oak Ridge, and I'm glad I've had a good experience, because I promptly gave the mayor my report of how things were here. I guess I can look at it this way, I'll be able too tell my kids that I made an a$$ out of myself in front of the mayor.
I got to meet lots of people afterwords, including the mayor who talked to me for a bit. I even got to meet one of the main plant managers and answered some of his questions, and I also met the president of the local community college here and tried to help him out by talking to him about accessibility issues and JAWS.
I'm just hoping that I was able to make an impression with some people there because if I can change at least one person's mind concerning what a blind person can do, then my job will be done. If I can get a job out of the deal, then that's definitely a positive thing.
After the ETEC presentation was done, Bob and I finalized the Oak Ridge National Labs one for Monday. I feel pressure for the next one, especially since I'll be presenting in front of lots of PHDs and technical people, but at least I know for sure the Mayor won't be there this time. What a neat experience.
Well, I've probably better go. Too many typos are creeping in due to lack of sleep. I just hope I don't say something completely stupid when Holly's here. At least I do't have to meet her Mom while in this state. That, could be disastrous.
Edit: I meant to mention, my rib is still slightly painful, but is definitely much less painful. I brought a pain pill today with me just in case, and I didn't hhave to use it. Yay!