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CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
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January 6, 2019 10:30 am

CBS Sunday Morning

CBS Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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January 6, 2019 10:30 am

Nancy Pelosi:"We have a problem" if Trump doesn't care about governance; Almanac: The Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding scandal; "At Eternity's Gate": An open secret: Open office plans are the worst; Are you up for the longest flight in the world?; Homeless no more; Michael Caine: Not the retiring type; Running blind

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I'm Jane Pauley and this is Sunday Morning. With the new year come new year's resolutions and topping the list for many of us is the resolve to exercise more despite any obstacles. Still, try as we might, it's hard to imagine anyone more serious about going the distance than the runner Lee Cowan will be taking us to meet. Simon Wheatcroft is an endurance runner but he's endured more than you could ever know just by watching him in action. Once I'd actually ran down the road that's when it hit me that I'd just done something that was unbelievable.

The only constraint was how far I was willing to go and it's that difference that helps to guide. Step by step how a blind athlete is teaching himself to run solo without the help of a guy. Ahead on Sunday Morning. He's a legend among movie actors with a long-running record all his own. His name is Michael Caine and this morning he's reprising some of his best lines of dialogue with our Mark Phillips.

Go. There are a lot of famous Michael Caine one-liners. You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off. Which is what he's called his latest book but his most famous line was the simplest. My name is Michael Caine. I'm Michael Caine. Which has become a modern mimics test. My name is Michael Caine.

Michael Caine. They did blow the bloody doors off. Still blowing the bloody doors off coming up on Sunday Morning. And I'll have a round of questions and answers with Nancy Pelosi properly addressed since this past Thursday as Madam Speaker. Amid all the formalities of taking charge she found time to speak with us. Therefore the Honorable Nancy Pelosi is duly elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. From leader of her party to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi one of the most galvanizing and polarizing figures in American politics. You go into the arena and you understand that you will be a target.

If you're effective you're a target there's just no question. Coming up my chat with speaker Nancy Pelosi. Chris Van Cleve asks are we there yet?

Faith Salie opens up on open offices. And more all coming up when our Sunday Morning podcast continues. Madam Speaker is the proper way to address Nancy Pelosi since she took command of the House of Representatives this past Thursday.

Just one day later she took time to chat with us about the past and the future. I now call the House to order on behalf of all of America's children. Nancy Pelosi capped her comeback this past week surrounded by children. The California Democrat elected once again the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. You've become the most powerful woman in American history.

That's funny isn't it? Sadly I was hoping that we would have an American woman president just two years ago. Well that didn't happen but Speaker Pelosi is the most powerful woman in American history and the most powerful woman in American politics but you can't make the government open. Well the Speaker has awesome powers but if the President of the United States is against governance and doesn't care whether people's needs are met or that public employees are paid or that we can have a legitimate discussion then we have a problem and that we have to take it to the American people. Nancy Pelosi I extend to you this gavel.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi ushered in a new era of divided government. If we don't have border security we'll shut down the government. In the midst of a government shutdown 800,000 federal government employees furloughed or working without pay.

National parks and museums closed. Oh we're going to build the wall don't worry about it. We're building the wall. President Trump is demanding 5.6 billion dollars to fulfill his campaign promise of a wall along the Mexico border. You can call it a barrier you can call it whatever you want. Pelosi has vowed to block any funding to build it.

A tense standoff between the President and Democrats at the White House Friday lasted two hours. He said he'd keep the government closed for a very long period of time months or even years. Did you say that?

I did. I did absolutely I said that. Was that bluster hyperbole or do you think? Well I hope so but the fact is he has said it again and again. Are you recalibrating your assessment of of how you can work with this President? Well let me first say that our purpose in the meeting at the White House was to open up government. The impression you get from the President that he would like to not only close government build a wall but also abolish Congress.

So the only voice that mattered was his own. Pelosi is described by friends and foes alike as a master legislative strategist. The House will come to order. The first woman elected Speaker of the House in 2007 she was a fierce critic of then President George W. Bush but Pelosi rounded up Democratic votes to help him pass an economic bailout package. Pelosi again delivered the votes for the Affordable Care Act in 2010 which Republicans derisively called Obamacare. God bless you Speaker Boehner.

And that fall they retook the House. Nancy Pelosi is arguably the most galvanizing and polarizing figure in politics. Pelosi's San Francisco values are wrong. Another two-faced Pelosi liberal she would not argue having been featured in thousands of TAC ads.

Pelosi's wrong it's time to change Washington. You go into the arena and you understand that you will be a target and that isn't anything that that should keep you out of the arena and so I always say to women just know be yourself be who you are. Did you learn that from the experience of of being a target? Yeah I think I think so if you're effective you're a target there's just no question so they have to undermine but that doesn't bother me that's their problem. Would you vote for Nancy Pelosi for House Democratic Leader?

No. This fall she even faced a revolt from members of her own party. A matter of having new leadership. Who called for a new generation of Democratic leaders to take on President Trump. Nancy's in a situation where it's not easy for her to talk right now. But going toe to toe in a televised standoff with the President may have helped seal the deal. Please don't characterize the strength that I bring for this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory.

And she left that White House meeting in shades and a flaming red power coat that made her a social media celebrity. House Democrats are down with NDP. Nancy D'Alessandro Pelosi.

The result? On Thursday many of her staunchest critics Ryan Pelosi ended up casting votes for Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi.

Counting votes is in her blood. She was born the daughter of a congressman later the longtime mayor of Baltimore Tom D'Alessandro. She was the youngest of seven and the only girl. Married at 23 she had five children. While active in politics she didn't begin a political career until age 47. My youngest daughter Alexandra was going into senior year so went to Alexandra and said Alexandra mommy has a chance to run for Congress but we will have one more year at home so I'm hesitant to do that.

If you don't think I should go I won't and I'm happy with that decision. And she said mother get a life. A teenage girl wouldn't want her mother out of the house three nights a week.

Well I had never heard the expression get a life but then I did. Here is the very straight line from the from the center of the Capitol Washington monument. Three decades later she once again has the top job in Congress and the best view in Washington.

A Capitol on edge. Will the next Congress be remembered for impeachment or will they be remembered for something else? Well I think we we will talk about what we talked about in the campaign for the people. Lower health care costs by reducing the cost of prescription drugs and preserving pre-existing condition benefit.

Building bigger paychecks by building the infrastructure of America. So not impeachment is not high on your agenda. That would be depending on what comes forth from the special counsel's office. If and when the time comes for impeachment it will have to be something that has such a crescendo in a bipartisan way. I just want to start off by congratulating Nancy Pelosi on being elected Speaker of the House. On Thursday the president had some kind words for Pelosi. And I think it's actually going to work out.

I think it'll be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking. President Trump hasn't given you a nickname. That I know of.

That I know of. And to me it means one of two things. Either he doesn't regard you that way or he doesn't regard you that seriously that you need a got to cut her down nickname. Or that he has some respect for you.

Well in either case it doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is that he recognized that the Congress of the United States is the first branch of government. That we're a co-equal branch of government. And that we are in this represent the people. And that when we go to speak with him we're respectful of the branch that he represents. The office of the president. And we want him to be respectful of the branch of government we represent. Co-equal.

So you have to remind him of that periodically. No I don't. I don't know. We'll see.

We shall see. It isn't so much about him. It's about the office that he holds. The presidency of the United States. Sometimes I think the off I respect the office he holds more than he does. As the first woman elected speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi's place in history was already secure.

But her defining role in history may lie ahead. If Hillary Clinton had won and for the care act would be safe I would have been happy to go home. I have I have options. You would have retired. Well I don't know if I would retire. I would have gone home. Yeah I mean I see my role as more of a mission than job tenure.

And when the mission is accomplished then I can have that satisfaction that when I was needed to get the job done I was there to do it. And now a page from our Sunday morning almanac. January 6th 1994. 25 years ago today. The day the genteel sport of figure skating became a media circus. For that was the day an assailant clubbed Nancy Kerrigan on the leg as she left the ice after practice at the U.S. olympic trials.

In Detroit someone was running by me and and he just like whacked me with this long black like stick. The attack plunged Kerrigan's olympic dreams into doubt and focused suspicion on rival skater Tanya Harding. How are you feeling right now?

It's been a long week. Within days Harding's estranged husband Jeff Gillooly was arrested along with three other men. Harding herself on the other hand proclaimed her innocence.

I may have some bad points about me but overall I think I'm a pretty good person. After weeks in the media spotlight Kerrigan and Harding faced off at the olympics in Lillehammer Norway. Despite her injuries Kerrigan won silver while Harding who had problems with her skate laces finished well out of the running. I'm accepting plea of guilty. Harding later pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution receiving three years probation and a 100,000 dollar fine. In a final blow the U.S. figure skating association banned her for life. The story lives on in our national memory.

Most recently in the 2017 film I, Tanya with Margot Robbie in the starring role. Just send me to jail and then I can still skate. Just send me to jail and then I can still skate. I've given you my decision.

It's a story skating fans hope will be told and retold only on the screen and never again on the ice. All those claims being made for our cutting edge open offices leave faith salient a state of open rebellion. Here's an open secret open office plans are the worst. About 70 percent of American workspaces are set up as open you know where architectural walls disappear stripping any creative boundaries between you and your cubicle colleagues. Shared space enables team building so y'all can value add and shift paradigms while you move the needle.

Except it doesn't work that way according to science and anyone who's ever had to work in one of these open hell holes. Recent research shows that an open office plan results in approximately 73 percent less face-to-face interaction as well as a significant increase in electronic activity. Because all the hubbub causes workers to tune out with their headphones and the lack of privacy means your colleague emails you rather than ask you to brainstorm all over everyone's desks.

But we didn't need science to prove how much open offices suck the life out of your workday. Since the rows of cubicles and pods of beanbags resemble a library an open office adopts the rules of a library meaning silence at all costs. When your sister calls to fight over Thanksgiving plans you hunt for an empty conference room. When you have to pitch an important client you squat in a storage closet. Not to mention if you love your chair and don't want it swiped you'd better mark it in some way. Did you possibly switch chairs with me?

No not me. Open office spaces were sold to us as a way to create an egalitarian feel but the truth is they save money. Like the airlines your company just wants to cram as many of you in as possible and call it pop-up synergy. But there is some upside. If it's someone's birthday it's cake for all.

If it's someone's 11 a.m hoagie it's the smell of processed meat for all. If it's take your child to work day it's someone's four-year-old for all. Look if you're a parent who's ever worked from home you've experienced an open office because your children make themselves your boss. Just ask this guy how an open door office policy works out. We go to an office to get away from it all which is why open office plans put the funk in cross-functional collaboration.

It's fun to drill down with your cohort but it's not fun to hear them chew. And by the way here at Sunday Morning we don't have an open office plan which is why we're able to get a show on the air every week. Are we there yet? Plenty of parents have heard that question from the back seat. Now join us on the world's longest airline flight where many a passenger might ask the very same question. Chris Van Cleave joined the boarding line. With the mentality of a marathon runner Dwayne Brown showed up to the gate. Do your friends think you're crazy? Yes they said Dwayne are you nuts?

Are you nuts? What he is is an aviation fanatic at the starting line along with 160 other passengers for the latest launch of the world's longest non-stop flight. New York to Singapore.

Let's celebrate this with a big round of applause everyone. A more than 9,500 mile trek connecting two of the world's financial capitals in a mere get this 19 or so hours. Longest flight's been 13 hours so this will be interesting.

For Donna Scarolla and Liz Seco time is money. They're racing to get to a business meeting and are willing to pay about four grand one way to shave six hours off their trip. Makes a huge difference because we're able to get down on the ground earlier than we would have had we taken a non-direct flight. Enter this specially designed Airbus A350 made from a composite material and carried by two engines. Singapore Airlines says it's up to 30 percent more efficient than the plane it's replacing and can stay in the air for over 20 hours. Could you do this route without this airplane?

No we could do it we couldn't do it economically and therefore it wouldn't persist. Campbell Wilson is a senior vice president at Singapore Airlines. So we've been intrinsically involved in the whole process of the aircraft's design.

It's not to to make records it's to serve a customer need and a customer want. These days corporate card carrying business flyers want to get there fast and in comfort. On board there are 67 business class seats that convert into beds.

The other 94 are premium economy so while you can still get stuck in a middle seat it's not as cramped as the coach seat you'd typically have to squeeze into. The idea is that we want to get you there in peak condition. Chef Anthony McNeil is Singapore Air's food and beverage director. In an effort to combat jet lag the airline is focusing on nutrition designing a special low sodium low carb menu. The philosophy that we've taken with this particular flight is smaller portions at more regular intervals.

Why smaller portions more often? It gives you some excitement but also interaction with the crew and also the wines on board and the interaction of the cuisines allows for a much more pleasant flight experience. The airline also delivers in-seat exercise videos for passengers to get the blood flowing.

Raise legs and circle the ankles twice in each direction. Hours in and somewhere over Russia I was in need of a good stretch. It takes 13 flight attendants and two sets of pilots to get this show off the ground. There's even a shift change at 30,000 feet and they can spend their off-duty time here in the crew rest area off limits to passengers. We're going to fly across the North Pole.

Captain Ray Chaudhry showed us our flight path which takes us over the top of the world offering this arctic aerial tour. Is it different doing 19 hours than four or seven or eight? On a longer flight like this you have to manage your rest, your fatigue levels, your concentration. It's an endurance test for passengers too. I ate, watched a movie, slept, watched another movie, read an entire newspaper, ate again and we still had 10 hours to go. The handboard yet?

No because I'm a mom of three so having this time to myself has actually been a nice. And even though it's only 16, 17 hours, 18 hours I cannot wait for the 20-hour flight. To keep everyone refreshed the cabin comes with 16.7 million combinations of light to simulate different times of day. Still the marathon flight and the 12-hour time change do take their toll. We come to this final phase of our inaugural flight.

But we made it even crossing the finish line early to the delight of Donna Skarola. Jet lag, you're tired? A little tired, dehydrated.

I probably need to drink a lot more water but other than that I'm ready to explore Singapore. Which makes the time saved on this seemingly interminable flight well worth the trip. Sometimes all it takes to turn a life around is a lucky find. Here's Steve Hartman. Many homeless people are haunted by drug addiction, mental illness or a criminal past. Indeed, Elmer Alvarez knows all those demons.

But he says just because a person is without a home doesn't mean they're void of character. For example, the day he found a check. I will never forget that day right over here. For ten thousand dollars. Right over here. Had you seen that many zeros in your life?

No, well not really. The first thing that came through my mind was I gotta look for this person. First thing you're thinking wasn't like I can go cash this check and change my life? It never crossed my mind because I made a decision to turn my life over. I've been clean for three years. Congratulations.

Thank you. I didn't even know I dropped this check. The money belonged to New Haven, Connecticut real estate broker Roberta Hosky.

Where's he at? She recorded her meeting with The Good Samaritan. And I expected to find a guy with a nice cleanly shaved and a blue suit like you?

That's not what you got. Instead, she got Elmer, who cried when Roberta offered him a reward. And it shattered the stereotypes. This all happened about a year ago. But the best part of the story is what has happened since. She helped him find an apartment, paid his rent for seven months till he was back on his feet. She also put him through real estate school and together they're now working on a little real estate project.

Won't make him a dime, but it could be very rewarding. Now we identified the property. In the next year, they plan to build a transitional house for homeless teenagers and young adults.

The house will provide all kinds of services that Elmer says are crucial. I know what it is to be homeless. Nobody deserves to leave like that. Roberta could not agree more. Because I remember, I remember what it felt like to be in that shelter.

That's right. Before she built her multi-million dollar company, Roberta was also homeless. A teenage mom who worked her way out of poverty and is now offering Elmer a chance to make his dream come true as well. It sounds good to me. Eventually, he'll serve as an advisor at the transitional house. You could end up helping a lot of kids.

Yes, that's what I want to do. A lost Jack. It's amazing. Leads to a found purpose. We need that. I know that's right.

We need it. Should I just bury the past out there with my parents, Alfred? I wouldn't presume to tell you what to do with your past, sir.

Just know that there are those of us who care about what you do with your future. You haven't given up on me yet. Never. Memorable roles such as Alfred the butler in Batman Begins opposite Christian Bale have helped make Michael Caine a living legend.

But there's more to a legend than that. He talks with our Mark Phillips. Five. Four. He could have picked any number of famous one-liners from as many movies. One.

Go. But Michael Caine picked this one as the title for his latest autobiography. You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off. The line and the title of the book is from the 1969 film The Italian Job.

They never make these cars. Borrowing movie lines has worked for him before. He's already mined this film. My name is Alfie.

He called that book. What's it all about? You were how old then when you were living here? Well, I came here when I was about 18 months, two years old.

And then I was here till I was six. Michael Caine is 85 now and doesn't get back much to the South London street where he grew up poor and from where he was evacuated during the wartime blitz. A good thing too. There's a street up here which was completely destroyed and what it did is it blew all the doors and windows and everything out of this street because it was a rocket. You know, I mean it wasn't tempted to make jokes about blowing the doors off. Blowing the bloody doors off.

Yeah, well they did blow the bloody doors off. Not many actors write so many books about their lives but then not many actors have careers that go on as long or are as varied as Michael Caine's. My favorite accent to do. Oh blimey, I've done so many. Maybe he's gone on so long because he spent his first decade as a young actor learning his trade playing small theaters around Britain after he'd come back from combat in Korea.

There's basically nothing he can't do. In northern English it's talking like that, you know, and that's from up north. Cockney is very serious like that.

Everything is spelled F-I-N-K, you know, so everything's gone wrong, you know. I mean an American accent, I do that too, you know. This is the way you sound to a foreigner.

And this is the way he sounds to his many imitators. Hello, I'm Michael Caine. My name is Michael Caine.

If you say my cocaine, so like this, you go my cocaine. I don't want to say my name because that would give it away. My name is Michael Caine.

I can do that. My name is Michael Caine. Accents, he says, are what got him into the movies except his was the wrong kind.

Never be cheap and on a job if you're doing a fit. He wasn't supposed to play the posh officer in his 1964 breakthrough movie Zulu. Still a chap ought to look smart in front of the men. But an American director saw beyond the English class system and Caine's salt of the earth Cockney accent. If he'd have been a British director, even if he'd been a left-wing communist, he would never have cast me as an officer. I mean I was a real rough Cockney and so thank you America.

You got me my first part. Caine has another thing to thank America for, his name. My real name is Maurice Micklewhite. He was standing outside a theater playing a Humphrey Bogart movie when his agent told him he needed to pick a new stage name. So she said tell me a name and I looked around Leicester Square and it said Humphrey Bogart in the Caine Mutiny and I went Caine.

You picked Humphrey? Yeah, yeah. No, what happens I said Caine, Caine. She said how do you spell it?

I said C-A-I-N-E. But it was very good because the theater next door if I'd have done that I'd have been Michael 101 Dalmatians. The old ones are the good ones. Yeah, you like the old ones do you? I've used that one a lot, I'm sorry. It turns out 101 is a small number when it comes to Caine's life.

Nice, isn't it? A career spanning six decades has produced 170 movie and tv credits, not to mention a couple of Oscars and a knighthood. But all good things must come to an end, not if you're Michael Caine. I got to about 60 and I got a script and I send it back to the producer saying I don't want to do it the part is too small he sent it back to me saying you're not supposed to read the lover you're supposed to read the father and I suddenly realized I had to retire. But only briefly until Jack Nicholson brought up a script. And I thought you want to be a character actor for the rest of your life Michael and I read the script and I went yeah I do.

He looked like a janitor. Fine. I don't have an ego. Jack is my lucky charm, Jack Nicholson. I mean it was the luckiest thing that happened to me because I had no intentions of going back in and playing small parts in movies.

But you see there are no small parts in movies when you're on the screen you're big. White bats. That's the one. That's frightened me. It was a whole new career and what better character for Caine than Batman's wizened English butler Alfred. Takes a little time to get back in the swing of things.

I was walking along the street the other day and there was a load of Japanese school girls walking along in London and suddenly they were pointing me and all these young girls from Japan recognized me you know I was so proud. Bless you bad against them. They nest somewhere in the ground. In fact Caine became such a good luck charm for the cash cow Batman series that the director Christopher Nolan didn't want to make a movie without him. But how to fit him into Nolan's war epic Dunkirk.

Listen to the voice on the Spitfires radio. Stay down at 500 feet to leave fuel for 40 minute fighting time over Dunkirk. You're going to keep doing this forever? What do you ever think you will kind of hang up? To me you don't retire from movies. Movies retire you. But not yet. And now someone's come to me with a television series about an old people's home obviously.

If it's funny as I think it is. Not a rock band. No it's old people. A lot of old people. But the great thing is is I know a lot of old people.

I know a lot of old actresses who do it and a lot of old actors. So it could be fun. More material for yet another book about that long showbiz life that started back here. We lived right at the top. At the very top.

At the very top. And the toilet was in the garden. Right. You know so I had you either had good legs or wet pants. Plenty of serious runners like to boast about going the distance.

But it's probably fair to say few can match the fellow our Lee Cowan has been watching in action. Like many athletes, Simon Wheatcroft loves chasing that runner's high. I still get a real buzz from doing it. Do you? Oh yeah yeah yeah.

We really do. He trains on this path to the top of the hill near his home in Doncaster, a village in north central England. But to really stretch his legs, he takes to the open road, sharing the solitude of his run with passing traffic.

Now any jogger knows that that can be a pretty dangerous proposition. But for Simon, it's especially so. So what do I look like to you now? I don't see anything that doesn't look at you.

No, there's just a wash of light and that's it. Yes, Simon Wheatcroft is completely blind. So I was born with a better night as pigmentosa, which is a genetic disorder where vision deteriorates over time. He was diagnosed with this rare condition when he was about 11. For a while he could still discern shapes and recognize some faces. But by age 27, it was all gone. How did you handle that at first? At first, I didn't handle it very well at all. You know, I was struggling to see to move around on a daily basis. But there's nothing you can do, you know, your vision slipping away.

You can't stop that. He really hit home the day he decided to propose. In 2009, he made his way to the US with the hopes of popping the question to his girlfriend high atop Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. But halfway in, he realized the hike was more than he could handle. So what were you thinking, knowing that you had to turn back? I was incredibly angry, you know, and I was faced with an obstacle. The only reason I couldn't overcome it is because I couldn't see.

He did end up proposing in the shadow of Half Dome instead of on top of it. But what he also vowed was that he would never let his lack of sight get in the way of his mobility again. Often in life we all seek control of our own destiny.

I felt like I needed to readjust to gain control and learn to overcome these obstacles. Turns out Simon is a bit of an overachiever. He's now run the New York City Marathon three times. The Boston Marathon, also three times, and he's even attempted to 100 mile plus ultra marathons.

This gives us the haptic of vibration feedback, all while testing different pieces of technology that he hopes one day. 10 Church Fields Road will help the quarter of a billion people around the world who are visually impaired either walk, hike or yes, run without the help of a guide. I wanted to prove that my mobility could be mastered because mobility is hard for blind persons. So it seemed like the only sort of viable decision was to learn to run alone. And were you a runner before?

No. So just how does he do it? Well he started out slow. First on this soccer field running back and forth between the goal posts. To guide him he tried out an app called RunKeeper by IBM that uses voice commands to tell a runner time and distance. When you were running back and forth nobody could tell you couldn't see.

No, you know, even today I still don't particularly wear anything that says I'm blind. Soon he upped it a notch to a stretch of road about a third of a mile long that was closed to traffic. I'm just running up and down, up and down.

How many times did you do that? I peaked at 10 laps of it. His confidence grew but so did Simon's boredom. One day, almost without thinking, Simon left that closed road and ran into traffic. He couldn't see the cars but he could hear them and reasoned if they got too close they'd just drive around him or so he hoped. I was definitely overcome with emotion.

I did burst into tears and think wow, you know, I've really broken through a barrier there. He showed us how he stays near the curb on the double yellow line. He says he can actually feel the thickness of the paint through his sneakers. So right now as we're walking you're using the line? Yeah, I'm trying to feel the lines and feel the difference between one foot and the other.

So the feeling right now for the right foot feels very different from the left foot and it's that difference that helps to guide. Did the noise of the cars ever get you a little? No because I can hear them coming from a fair distance away. Yeah. So what I would do is this bit just here I'd be running this way.

Yeah. And I'd be listening out for the cars coming that way to time crossing the road across there. The more we talked the easier it became to forget that everything Simon is doing is in the dark. Up and then we're dipping down, we're dipping down, dipping down, step.

So here we go. Simon shot video once of what it would look like for him. It's pretty unnerving watching metal lampposts and street signs go flying by knowing that he can't see any of them coming. But he's memorized where each and every one of those obstacles is.

Here we go, dip, turn right. By creating a mental map of his five mile route. So then as the road now sweeps to the right we need to be taking the first right-hand turn. He knows these roads so well he could practically drive them. In fact he was giving me driving directions.

So if we turn right. You realize I'm really depending on you. Yeah, yeah, I know where we are. I know where we are.

He was flawless. Me, not so much. So you're about to sail by it. Yep, you sail by it. So go straight on it.

I dismissed the turn. So go straight on at the roundabout. It's all pretty impressive and Simon was getting noticed. When the designers of Runkeeper heard how Simon had adapted their app to help him navigate, they featured him in an ad campaign. In 2016 he teamed up with IBM to develop a guidance system that he nicknamed E-Ask Guide after his guide dog.

It was a prototype that with the help of GPS gave Simon audio cues that kept him on course. Its big test was a grueling 155 mile ultra marathon through the Namibian desert no less. He made it almost halfway.

Totally unassisted. Well the system worked. You know there was a point when I'm just running through the desert alone and it's like you know this was a dream a few years ago now I'm actually doing it. And then what happened? On the second day I managed to run into the only flagpole in the desert.

A flagpole? A flagpole yeah took a big blow from the flagpole to the face. It's not the first time he's taken a serious body blow. The worst though was when he ran headlong into the twisted remnants of a burned out car while training on his route near his house.

And then I thought I was sweating really badly but it turned out it was blood that was pouring down my arm and that's when I pulled out my phone to call my wife and say you gotta come find me I'm here it's bad. It's quite scary we didn't know where it was what we were going to find. So what changed after that incident?

I think it became a little bit more careful. Sharn the woman he proposed to on that ill-fated hike isn't always keen on her husband pushing the envelope especially since they have two young boys together Grayson and Franklin. But she knows that although it's dangerous there is a bigger picture. He wants to change the will for blind people. He wants to prove that they can do whatever they set the mind to. Pretty lofty goal.

Yeah yeah I think he can actually do it. We were there when he opened a new piece of technology to test called IRA. I feel a little space age. It's sort of a google glass on steroids. A new service that visually impaired people can now subscribe to in the U.S. Thank you for calling IRA.

How can I help you today? It works like this. A camera on those glasses beams video back to a sighted agent who then acts as the user's eyes.

Directly in front of you one is a sign if you'll go slightly to the right towards one o'clock to avoid it. Simon was the first in the UK to try it. He took it to a local market where the agent at the other end helped him browse the store shelves. Yeah I'm after the one with the green top so.

The one's got a green top. Oh perfect. Okay. The reason I wanted it is I wanted to demonstrate this to as many blind people as possible to say look look what we can get our hands on.

Thanks a lot. This can remove all those difficult points in your life and this could be a true independence piece of technology. Do you want to see the new glasses that I got?

Yes. Simon thinks IRA just might be the breakthrough that could make his dream of running solo come true. Studying for his masters in computer science and he hopes to continue perfecting more technology for the blind. The goal is that these piece of technology exist so people can do all these things and more safely.

They shouldn't have to take the risk that I took. He's no hero he says nor does he consider himself an inspiration. To connect. He's a test pilot of sorts for those who are blind or visually impaired who like him hope technology may one day brighten their world.

I'm Jane Pauley thank you for listening and please join us again next Sunday morning. This is The Takeout with Major Garrett. This week Stephen Law ally of Mitch McConnell and one of Washington's biggest midterm money men. List for me the two senate races where you think republicans have the best chance of taking a democratic seat away. Nevada, New Hampshire. Not Georgia. Well Georgia's right up there but New Hampshire is a surprise. In New Hampshire people really just kind of don't like Maggie Haas. For more from this week's conversation follow The Takeout with Major Garrett on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-27 07:37:52 / 2023-01-27 07:55:48 / 18

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