Skipper's Computer Talks Back

--A 35-year-old blind woman with a talking computer says she will skipper a 44-foot yacht named Awesome in the 2,300-mile Pacific Cup from San Francisco Bay to Hawaii on July 4. "There is no reason why a blind person can't skipper or sail a boat," said Lynne Olsen of Emeryville, Calif., who lost her sight in an accident seven years ago. The Awesome is equipped with the latest electronic gear, including computers that speak. "We have a computer that is the first of its kind," Olsen said. "It's into global navigation systems. I speak to the computer while using a headset like an airline pilot's headset." She tells the computer what she wants and "it speaks back to me." Her charts have an overlay in Braille. Olsen, mother of two teen-agers, took a leave of absence as associate director of fund development with the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco to prepare for the event, her first yacht race. Olsen's husband, Loren, who will be taking orders from his wife along with eight other crewmen, said he is certain she will be able to handle the race.

--The first mate and the boatswain--survivors of 4 1/2 days in a life raft after a storm sank the schooner Pride of Baltimore, said in Baltimore that they will marry. They were fulfilling a vow they made while treading water in the angry Atlantic along with the six other surviving crew members as they struggled in 90 m.p.h. winds to inflate their life raft. Boatswain Leslie McNish said: "I turned to Sugar and I said, 'If we ever get out of this, we're going to get married.' " "Sure. What the heck!" John (Sugar) Flanagan responded. Then the two fought to stay afloat until their rescue. They celebrated their engagement with a sip of water and a bite of a biscuit every eight hours for 4 1/2 days following the sudden May 14 squall that sank their ship 240 miles north of Puerto Rico. The eight survivors were rescued by a passing freighter that saw McNish's frantic SOS signal in the darkness. The boatswain, 30, and the first mate, 27, will marry at her parents' home in Somis, Calif., in late August.

--Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La.) a leading opponent of televising Senate proceedings, has taken to wearing clip-on sunglasses on the floor of the chamber to cut the glare of the bright TV lights. "It's not a protest at all," says his press secretary, Bob Mann. "The lights hurt his eyes, it's as simple as that." Long, who is retiring this year after 36 years in the Senate, plans to vote against making TV cameras a permanent fixture when the issue comes up for debate next month, Mann said. Long argues that TV encourages senators to posture for the camera.

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