THE CONSUMER VISION
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Publisher: Bob Branco
Editing and Proofreading: David and Leonore Dvorkin
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
In this Table of Contents, three asterisks *** are used to separate the title of each article from its author. In the same way, three asterisks *** will be used to separate articles to make using your browser’s search feature easier. If any of you have screen readers that make searching difficult or undoable with asterisks, please let us know not only that, but also if three number signs ### would be easier. If you are a screen reader user for whom neither symbol works, please let us know what works best, and we’ll do our best to accommodate.
In columns like Special Notices, Readers’ Forum, and Recipes from Karen Crowder, letters of the alphabet—A, B, C, etc.—are used to separate items.
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Discovering the Fandle, Turning Up Your Brainpower, and More
*** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
2. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Fifty Years On: A Retrospective *** by James R. Campbell
3. IF SCHOOL IS DELAYED, YOUR KIDS ARE AT RISK OF BEING MURDERED: School Violence Prevention in the Age of the Coronavirus *** by Robert Sollars
4. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: Stop the Name-Changing Insanity *** by Don Wardlow
5. WEATHER OR NOT: The Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the Dust Bowl of the 2030s *** by Steve Roberts
6. WHY MUCH OF SOCIETY REBELS AGAINST PANDEMIC REGULATIONS *** by Bob Branco
7. AT THIRTY *** by Peter Altschul
8. SPECIAL NOTICE: Improvements in the Find Feature in Microsoft Word *** submitted by David Goldfield
9. TRAVELING AS A BLIND PERSON DURING THE PANDEMIC *** by David W. Wannop
10. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
11. AUTHORS’ CORNER: Three Books and Update About Audiobook Recording Services
12. TURNING POINT *** by Terri Winaught
13. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein
14. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
15. TERRI’S TIDBITS *** by Terri Winaught
16. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Discovering the Fandle, Turning Up Your Brainpower, and More
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
A. Discovering the Fandle
Starting with something kind of fun today, I want to tell you about a discovery that I recently made.
For over 20 years, I’ve had an excellent floor fan in the basement, Duracraft brand. The basement is our well–equipped exercise area, and I use the fan when I work out to stay cool. It’s about three feet high, with three speeds. You can make the large head rotate or remain stationary.
Well, all these years, whenever I wanted to reposition the fan on the floor, I had been bending over, grabbing it by the stand with two hands, and sliding it around the concrete floor, resulting in a very unpleasant, loud screeching sound of the plastic base against the concrete. The fan is not terribly heavy, but it would be awkward to pick it up completely. Hence the sliding.
Well, the other day, David heard the sound and came down to the basement, asking, “What’s that awful sound? What are you doing?” (Don’t ask me why he never asked that before; I don’t know.) When I showed him what produced the sound, he said, “Look, there’s a handle right here! Just use this to pick the fan up and move it from place to place.” Sure enough, right behind the metal cage that houses the big blades, is a handy plastic handle. Somehow, in 20 years of countless hours in the basement, teaching my exercise classes or working out on my own, I had never seen the little thing. Like the rest of the fan, it’s pure white, and it’s also rather low, not at all prominent. So I had simply never noticed it before, and had always grasped the long stand to move the fan.
Now I use that handle all the time. I’ve dubbed it the “fandle”—for fan plus handle, of course. I feel really dumb that I never noticed it before, but better late than never. And now David and I are both spared that annoying screeching of the fan base against the floor.
I’m trying to see this as a good lesson. That is, from now on, I will look carefully at every appliance or other type of machinery to make sure that I have not overlooked some simple little something that can improve the function of the device or make it easier to use. I can ask David for his own observations and input, too.
Have any of you ever had such an experience? That is, has there ever been a time when you found a simple solution to a vexing problem, sometimes long after you acquired the object in question? I would enjoy hearing from you if so.
B. I recently ran across the September 2018 issue of my favorite health newsletter, Consumer Reports “On Health,” and thought I should send some of the information in it your way before tossing the issue.
- An odd connection: In a U.K. study of 2 million adults, researchers found that those with severe eczema were at much greater risk for heart attack, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and angina than people without it. The advice: If you have eczema, take heart disease prevention seriously, getting regular cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar screenings as recommended.
- How to reduce arthritis pain: Only about 40% of adults 65 and older who are overweight or obese and have arthritis are getting this important advice from their doctors: Lose weight. Weight loss reduces the pain and mobility problems related to arthritis. Every pound you lose takes 4 pounds of pressure off your knees.
- Brain-training games vs. other brain activities: To help to stave off cognitive decline, don’t bother with the so-called brain-training games, as they do not appear to be very useful. Instead, participate in intellectually and challenging activities that are new to you, such as learning to paint, play an instrument, or speak a new language. A large Chinese study of people 65 and older who regularly participated in intellectual activities such as reading books or newspapers, or playing board games, card games, or mahjong, had a significantly lower risk of dementia over seven years of follow-up. Social isolation is another risk factor for dementia—not good news for right now, in this Covid-19 pandemic. But once we can get back to it, volunteering is a good option for older adults who need more social interaction.
- Turning up your brainpower: One of the two main articles in that issue dealt with steps you can take to help maintain or even improve your memory and thinking skills. Here are the main tips:
Get medical attention to control health conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and AFib (atrial fibrillation). Sleep apnea, depression, and hearing loss are also bad for your brain.
Steps you can take on your own: Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week. Limit sitting. Choose a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fish, and olive oil. Limit salt, sugar, and alcohol. Mindfulness techniques such as meditation and yoga help reduce the risk of dementia. They help reduce stress, which is toxic to the brain.
Some medications may impair memory. So every year, with your primary care doctor, be sure to review your prescription and over–the–counter medications, plus any supplements that you are taking.
Signs of trouble: See your doctor if you are doing one or more of the following: asking the same questions repeatedly, forgetting common words like “bed” or “car” when speaking, mixing up words like radio and TV, taking longer to complete familiar tasks, putting objects in inappropriate places, getting lost while driving to familiar locations, or experiencing mood changes for no discernible reason. On the other hand, as you age, it’s normal to take longer to learn new information, to not recall events as well as you did, and to forget where you put commonly used items like car keys and eyeglasses.
About the Author:
Leonore Dvorkin and her husband, David Dvorkin, live in Denver, Colorado. Together, they have been running DLD Books Editing and Self–Publishing Services since 2009. In that time, they have worked on over 90 books by other authors. The large majority of their clients are blind or visually impaired. Their primary goal is to provide excellent, unusually comprehensive services at very reasonable prices.
Leonore tutors German and Spanish, now by Skype. Until March of this year, when the pandemic shut most things down, she was also teaching exercise classes in her home, mainly weight training. She started doing that in 1976.
David Dvorkin is the author of 29 published books, both fiction and nonfiction, and Leonore is the author of four books: a novel, a short fantasy play, her breast cancer memoir, and that last book in Spanish.
David’s most recent book is his 68–page memoir about his years at NASA in the 1960s and ‘70s, when he worked on the Apollo program, including Apollo 11. The title is When We Landed on the Moon: A Memoir. Full details and buying links are here: https://www.dvorkin.com/moonland/
All of the Dvorkins’ books are available in e-book and print, and a few are in audiobook format.
They invite you to visit any of their websites.
David Dvorkin: http://www.dvorkin.com/
Leonore Dvorkin: https://www.leonoredvorkin.com/
DLD Books Editing and Self–Publishing Services: https://www.dldbooks.com/
2. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Fifty Years On: A Retrospective
by James R. Campbell
As we go back in time, the events of a bygone era come to mind. As we relive the year or decade in question, we often see parallels to the news and trends of today. Such is the case with 1970. Let’s drift back 50 years and review the happenings of those 12 months. What are the big news stories that you remember from those days of long ago? If you had the chance, would you relive your life during that year?
1970 began quietly enough, given the way that 1969 came to an end. The Manson family murders in Los Angeles and the tragedy of the Altamont rock festival, at which four people died at the hands of the Hell’s Angels, threw a dark pall over the dream of the flower children. Yet we, the youth, still believed in the Age of Aquarius. Despite the evidence in hand, we still hoped for brighter days to come.
On the sunny side of the ledger, the first Earth Day brought an awareness of environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. The movement that grew from this initial beginning has mushroomed into a movement that seeks to protect the Earth from overconsumption, pollution, excessive waste, and climate change. As was the case in 1970, much debate rages between environmentalists and big business, who feel that their bottom line is threatened by the efforts of those who want to preserve the planet for future generations.
In the same month in 1970, NASA worked diligently to recover Apollo 13 after the spacecraft suffered a catastrophic explosion that jeopardized the lives of the crew. For four days, the world held its breath and didn’t rest easily until the astronauts were safely recovered on April 17.
Here comes the bad side. Four student protesters were killed at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4. The demonstrators felt that President Nixon had reneged on a pledge to end the war in Vietnam by the bombing and subsequent incursion into Cambodia. Protests and campus riots broke out across the nation, culminating in the Kent State slayings. The angst that revolved around that event was captured for eternity in the song “Ohio,” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. In the end, no charges were filed against the National Guard troops who fired on the students, who were pelting the soldiers with bottles and bricks.
We lost Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Canned Heat’s Alan Wilson in one month. Wilson was the lead singer on the hits “On the Road Again” and “Going Up The Country.” It is believed that Wilson committed suicide due to depression that resulted from a troubled relationship, although I can’t swear to that.
Fast forward 50 years. We have endured (and are enduring) a pandemic, recent riots that have claimed 17 lives, and a tumultuous campaign, and we’re facing what is all but destined to become one of the most divisive elections in this nation’s history. We are in the midst of the worst opiate epidemic in recent memory, not to mention the use of meth and other synthetic drugs, bath salts being one of the worst. One would think that after losing many of our favorite entertainers to drugs, their passing would serve as a warning. It is apparent, however, that people are more interested in escaping their troubles than preserving their own lives or anyone else’s.
Those who favor the space program celebrated America’s return to space this year. Despite the pandemic, people are coming together to help in their communities. Here in Odessa, United Supermarkets have donated $20,000 to the local food bank. I’m certain that other acts of kindness are spread across this land, but they rarely, if ever, make the national news. This is pitiful; we need more good news stories like this one.
In 1970, I was enrolled at The Texas School for The Blind in Austin. Even at 15 and 16 years of age, I kept up with current events. There were good times at the school that year; the April 25th pizza party was one of these events. The students enjoyed pizza, and one of the workers bought extra pizza for us to feast on. There were a number of psychedelic rock concerts on campus in the spring of 1970. I thoroughly enjoyed those, as did a number of other schoolmates. They were the highlights of the year, as far as I was concerned.
On October 7, 1970, 17-year-old Alex Torres, a student from San Antonio, drowned in the school swimming pool. The death was ruled an accident, but the coach was so guilt-ridden that 1970-71 was his last year at TSB. He just couldn’t do it anymore after that. His departure marked a sad chapter in campus life. Even I could see how much pressure he was under, but I won’t pretend that I knew how he felt. Only he can say how this tragedy affected his life. For me, the news was horrible. Alex was with us for a brief season, having arrived on campus on August 30th. We wish we could have known him better. After all, he was one of us; he seemed to have more in common with our group than other students on campus.
On a personal note, the passing of Hendrix and Joplin meant more to me than campus activities. Current events, as bad as they often were, served as a safe space for me. The news of the day and the sounds of the times were a shelter from life in a place I despised from the first day I was there. The music and my friends got me through it, and 1970 was no different.
As always, thanks for your time.
With loving kindness,
James R. Campbell
3. IF SCHOOL IS DELAYED, YOUR KIDS ARE AT RISK OF BEING MURDERED: School Violence Prevention in the Age of Coronavirus
by Robert Sollars
Usually at this time of year, I write a series of articles about preventing school violence. Those revamped articles will be coming soon, but I wanted to post this on the dangers of not starting school on time and forcing kids to learn online at home, and who I believe is to blame for that.
Online learning is a great tool for educational institutions to use for college age and adults. But for those who are in K–12, it’s the worst thing that can happen to them. Why? Because they’re used to socialization and camaraderie. Yet nearly 30% of parents say they refuse to send their kids to school during the virus pandemic and the overhyping and overblown media coverage that surrounds it.
The excuse given by nearly everyone is: “They can always learn by Zoom meetings and online instruction. College and adult students do it all the time.” The big difference is that children’s minds are not yet fully developed and are still evolving. They aren’t getting what they need staying at home and watching a computer screen six or more hours a day. Haven’t we been railing against children sitting in front of the computer for hours on end for decades, now?
So what’s the harm if they don’t go to school, other than socialization? Here are the drawbacks, from a security professional and parent. By the way, I blame the teachers and their unions for being selfish and self-centered by not wanting to teach real time face-to-face.
Whenever a new law or ordinance is enacted, there are always unintended consequences.
Abusive and violent parents and siblings; child abuse. The number of domestic violence and child abuse cases has grown exponentially since the lockdowns started.
The use of illicit drugs and consequent overdoses among teenagers is also growing during the lockdown.
The number of suicides among teenagers is growing at a rate rivaling that of the domestic violence epidemic. Kids are dying at home, and not because of an active shooter or the virus.
How about those kids who depend on the free food programs at school in order to eat every day? Some only get fed once a day and only while in school.
Then there are the stressors that they are enduring with no outlets for their aggressions: depression, shyness, isolation, and social ostracization. What effect will these have when schools do go back? I don’t want to see a lot of dead or wounded kids on TV. At the same time, we’ve pulled out the School Resource Officers (SRO) in many schools. What happens now when a student comes in with a firearm and no one is there to respond to shots being fired?
It’s my firm belief that the teachers and their unions are blowing this virus out of proportion even more than the media. Teachers need to be in the classroom teaching, however it can be done, without scaring the beejeebers out of the children.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t take reasonable precautions to prevent catching the virus? Of course not: wearing face masks, washing hands, not hugging, not touching, and so on. The teachers should be wearing face masks, and the classrooms should be thoroughly deep cleaned on a daily basis. Follow common sense and everything will be okay. When the swine flu and avian flu outbreaks occurred, did we close schools or businesses? No, we didn’t.
A last word on this being overhyped and overblown. The Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-1920 killed more than 22 million people worldwide. It infected more than 15-20 times that many, and that was with a world population of under two billion. We haven’t come close to those numbers yet, and if we use common sense and stop scaring most everyone, it won’t get that high.
Robert D. Sollars is the author of three books on preventing violence within organizations and one book on customer service:
One is too Many: Recognizing & Preventing Workplace Violence
Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention
Unconventional Customer Service: How to Break the Rules to Provide Unparalleled Service
Murder at Work: A Practical Guide for Prevention
All are available on Amazon. His book–related web page, with full information on his last three books, is https://www.dldbooks.com/robertdsollars/
I may be blind, but my vision is crystal clear.
Permission to reprint and share? Of course, with full attribution.
Copyright 2020 by Robert D. Sollars
4. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: Stop the Name-Changing Insanity
by Don Wardlow
On July 6, this magazine’s publisher sent his inner circle a note about the craziness of changing the name of the Washington Redskins. That was being talked about then. At press time, the fact of the name change is a fait accompli. However, the new name for the team is still unknown. For this year at least, they’ll just be the Washington Football Team, which the announcers will hate.
Messing with the language is nothing new. When radio was young, “blood” was considered an offensive word, as was “belly.” So the earliest fight announcers had to say “a right to the midsection” or “to the stomach,” and they had to say, “We can see the claret pouring down his face.” A generation later, Stan Freberg did a funny bit about political correctness. He was going to sing “Old Man River” on his radio show, and one of his stooges, pretending to be from what we would call the PC Police, said he couldn’t use the word “Old” and then ruined the song by making Freberg change almost all the words. Readers of an age have heard “Elderly Man River.”
The latest round of PC madness is worse than any invasion of its kind the country has seen. Nobody can say if it’s fueled by the pandemic giving a lot of busybodies a lot more spare time than they should have. The Cleveland Indians are having serious discussions about changing their name, the name they’ve carried with pride since at least 1920.
While the Atlanta Braves have no immediate plans to change their name, they’re backing away from their fans’ “Tomahawk Chop” chant, (a chant they stole from the Florida State Seminoles).
While I approve of brides taking their husband’s names, I am 100% against sports teams changing their names for fear of offending somebody. However, if names must go, my idea is to have the new name say something about the city in question. I offer you a few new selections.
If a name is just plain dumb, it should go. The Los Angeles Lakers? I ask you, where is there a lake near Los Angeles? It’s a holdover name from when they played in Minneapolis, but what fan of theirs knows that? Call them the Los Angeles Primadonnas, and call the WNBA team the Los Angeles Trophy Wives. If we want to use a commercial name, try the Los Angeles BMWs.
If the name Indians must go, call Cleveland the Rockers, for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which is the only reason somebody might want to visit Cleveland. Other than that, the Cleveland Burning River is a name I’ve seen bandied about on social media. The Braves have a tougher challenge. What says “Atlanta” to people from elsewhere? The Atlanta Inefficient Airport? The Atlanta Traffic?
Utah is a problem. The Utah Jazz basketball team carries another holdover name from when the Jazz played in New Orleans. The only thing Utah is known for is the Mormons, and God help anybody who even thinks of naming the team that. Every other religion will raise Cain. So, call them the Utah Nothings.
Oh, by the way, how come Protestants like me aren’t causing trouble about the New Orleans Saints? If that ever happens, the New Orleans Floods is a good name for them.
None of the Philadelphia team names is offensive, though their fans can be. Their hockey team, the Flyers, however, are stuck with another name that’s just silly. Why aren’t they the Cheesesteaks? Or go back in our history and call them the Franklins. The Franklin Institute in that beautiful city was generations ahead of its time in terms of being accessible. I hope it still is.
Apparently, the name of my beloved Yankees is under fire. That hardly makes sense. As long as I lived in the South, if I was called “Yankee” at all, it was done as a joke. Before I moved South, I was called “redneck” here in Jersey by people who knew about my taste for country music and my desire to live south of the Mason-Dixon Line. The people who did that weren’t being funny. If the Yankee name must go, I would go historical again and call them the New York Roosevelts. Two of this country’s greatest presidents bore that proud name, and both were New Yorkers.
Besides the Yankees, the name above all names I don’t want to see changed is that of the Texas Rangers. The name originally belonged to a proud body of men who tried to enforce the law when Texas was the most lawless state in the Union. Now the PC police are after Texas Rangers’ ownership because, when enforcing the law, their methods weren’t favorable to Native Americans and Mexicans. If that name must go, call them the Texas Playboys. That was the name of Bob Wills’ backup band for decades. They introduced Western swing to the country by radio broadcasts and record sales.
When all is said and done, don’t change a name if you don’t have to. But if you must, have it relate in some way to the area where the team is.
5. WEATHER OR NOT: The Dust Bowl of the 1930s and the Dust Bowl of the 2030s
by Steve Roberts
The Dust Bowl of the 1930s
From 1933 to 1939, persistent drought parched the plains and Midwest. The drought was also accompanied by awful heat. The summer of 1934 was the hottest summer of the 20th century up to then. Daytime highs were anywhere from 115-120 degrees in the hottest locations.
The summer of 1936 was even hotter. During that year, many temperature records were established throughout the plains and the Midwest. As with the summer of 1934, the summer of 1936 featured many days with highs that were 115-120 degrees. There are temperature records that were established during the 1930s that still stand.
They didn’t call it the Dust Bowl for nothing. Throughout the 1930s Dust Bowl era, there were many dust storms throughout the central United States. The greatest of these dust storms was the “Black Blizzzard” of April 11, 1935.
On Thursday, April 11, 1935, high winds lofted dust that had the consistency of powder high into the atmosphere. These clouds of dust were so thick that they blocked out the sun, turning day into night; hence the term “Black Blizzard.” Those who were caught out in this dust storm paid the ultimate price. There were some people who were sand-blasted to death. They had nothing left on them but their shoes and belts. Many houses were stripped of their paint. The dust storm darkened the skies over the nation’s capital. So great was this dust storm that ships out in the central Atlantic reported having dust on their decks.
A Surprisingly Stormy Time
Though the Dust Bowl was most widely known for its heat, drought, and dust storms, it was a surprisingly stormy time. The hurricane season of 1933 featured 21 named storms. The hurricane season of 1936 featured 16 named storms. In September 1935, we had the Labor Day Keys Hurricane. This storm had a barometric pressure reading of 892 millibars, the lowest recorded at the time. Then, there was the Long Island Express of 1938, which devastated all of New England.
Scientists say that the level of hurricane activity out in the Atlantic may have been even higher than we know, because we didn’t have satellite surveillance back then. There may have been hurricanes that formed and fizzled without being detected.
March of 1936 brought a couple of nor’easters into New England. These storms drenched the region at a time of rapid snow melt, resulting in unprecedented flooding. One year later, persistent heavy rains caused widespread flooding throughout the Ohio Valley. There were many other floods that took place during the Dust Bowl era.
The Coming Dust Bowl of the 2030s
Circumstances are conspiring to bring us the potential for yet another Dust Bowl era. During the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, the waters of the equatorial Pacific were cooler than normal due to a La Niña. The tropical Atlantic was warmer than usual due to the positive phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation. There was also a solar minimum in progress at the time of the Dust Bowl. These same conditions are combining to work against us once again. Sometime in the next decade, we’ll see a return to Dust Bowl conditions.
What will the new Dust Bowl be like? The West will be hot and dry with lots of wildfires. Out in the plains and Midwest, heat and drought will undermine agricultural practices, reducing crop yields. There will be many high temperature records set in the central United States. Extreme and persistent heat waves will cook the residents of the Gulf and East Coasts. Batten down the hatches! There could be 15-21 named storms per year out in the tropical Atlantic, with three to six of those going on to become major hurricanes in any given year.
A Dust Bowl is coming, and it will be awful for all of us. As bad as the last Dust Bowl was, the next one will be worse because of the exacerbating impact of climate change.
About the Author
Steven P. Roberts is the author of the nonfiction book The Whys and Whats of Weather (2014).
For full details and a free text sample, see his website:
6. WHY MUCH OF SOCIETY REBELS AGAINST PANDEMIC REGULATIONS
by Bob Branco
Since the pandemic began, almost every regulation seems to have a flaw in it. It either works on a double standard, or it makes no sense.
I’m not saying that our leaders don’t have good intentions, because they do. We do need to protect ourselves and everyone else from a contagious virus.
Here’s my point. If Massachusetts wants to establish a restriction against travelers from states with rising coronavirus cases, I support this effort. However, if the governor of Massachusetts recognizes the need for a travel ban right now, why wait until August 1 to enforce it? The virus is not going to wait until August 1 if it wants to infect a traveler. This is the type of reasoning that contributes to the social rebellion against these important pandemic regulations. People are smart enough and observant enough to figure out the lack of enforcement. It’s all over the place.
While we have to abide by all of these regulations, football players are allowed to tackle one another for sixty minutes. A local restaurant goes out of its way to make customers wear masks before being seated. Their staff makes sure that the tables are six feet apart. Yet they cram six people in a booth. In many cities that are close to a full lockdown, thousands of protestors are allowed to break all the social distancing rules while the residents cannot go to work or school. For a long time, we were not allowed to go to church, but women were allowed to have an abortion.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop here. My point is that society recognizes the inconsistencies in many of these mandates. I understand that we should forget about these inconsistencies and just do what we’re told. I think most of us do just that, but I get why there is some degree of rebellion going on. There are other reasons for this rebellion, but I think that inconsistencies are part of it.
Do you agree?
About the Author
Robert T. Branco is the author of four nonfiction books, one of them being his memoir, My Home Away from Home: Live at Perkins School for the Blind (C 2013). For details and free text samples of all his books, see his website: https://www.dldbooks.com/robertbranco/
7. AT THIRTY
by Peter Altschul
While running a strategic planning session at the University of Michigan in the early 1990s, I became disoriented as I wandered from room to room monitoring the discussions of two groups. I stood there, my hand absently grazing the wall, when I happened to find the name of the room in braille about five feet up on the wall to the left of the door.
This braille label wouldn’t have been here pre-ADA, I thought. Now I won’t have to ask for help.
Other benefits connected with the Americans with Disabilities Act gradually appeared. Braille labels on ATMs and hotel room doors. Brailled menus at some restaurants. Signage in braille next to elevator buttons, with sound cues to indicate at what floor the elevator was stopping. As time passed, the phrase “I need an accommodation” resulted in successfully negotiating ways for organizations to meet my blindness-related needs. More and more products—most notably iGadgets—incorporated software into their designs that made it possible for us to use them.
The most dramatic benefit, however, became clear in 2008, when I took a course at the University of Missouri. Pre-ADA, I spent almost as much time working with sometimes uncooperative professors to try to get the materials ahead of time and then getting these materials put into braille or recorded onto cassettes as I did attending classes and doing homework. Post-ADA, I alerted the university’s Disability Services Office of the course I was taking, and poof! All the materials were made available in a format that I could use.
The biggest failure of the ADA has been in the employment arena. Unemployment rates of the visually-impaired and others with disabilities continue to hover in the neighborhood of 65 percent, according to the Social Security Administration.
The reasons for this unemployment problem are complex and interconnected: unavailable, unreliable, or overcrowded public transportation; an overworked network of state vocational rehabilitation agencies set up to assist us in finding jobs; work disincentives of government programs; job-seeker foibles; career-related websites and software programs impenetrable to the software that helps us light-independent people read information on the screens of computers and iGadgets; and the sense that most non-disabled people, while well-meaning, don’t believe in our abilities.
On July 26, 2020, the ADA will turn 30 in the midst of pandemic struggles—where, like others, many of us disabled people have lost our jobs while the COVID-19 virus has hit us hard.
Change is rippling across the workplace: contract or gig work replacing full-time jobs; working from home; flattening hierarchies; an increased focus on inclusion; technology disrupting work patterns.
These changes could benefit us disabled people. Working from home might encourage others to focus on our skills instead of being emotionally disabled by our disabilities, while saving us from the wear and tear of the commute. An increased focus on diversity’s benefits might influence employers to be more flexible in providing adjustments that meet our needs. Creators of tech software might incorporate accessibility into their products, à la Microsoft, Google, and Apple, especially when they discover that some non-disabled people appreciate these features as well. A shortage of information technology specialists might encourage employers to work with organizations serving us, so that talented people with disabilities can connect with available opportunities. Maybe state and federal governments will find ways to address the work disincentives of programs aimed at supporting us.
Those of us assisting our disabled peers to find work must also think and act in new ways. While literacy skills, technological adeptness, mobility competence, and emotional intelligence are still important, we need to support potential workers to explore how best to use, build on, and sell their strengths in an increasingly fragmented marketplace.
Let’s form alliances with businesses to prepare people with disabilities to meet their needs. Let’s work with politicians to tailor Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other programs to this new world. Let’s think about universal basic income and portable healthcare, ideas with some support among conservative and progressive policy wonks. And we can all do a better job of focusing on the strengths of others.
Happy birthday, ADA! May you continue to build on your successes and adapt to the changes around you.
8. SPECIAL NOTICE: Improvements in the Find Feature in Microsoft Word *** Submitted by David Goldfield
Microsoft is planning to make the Find feature in Microsoft Word a whole lot better. Generally, if you want to find something in a Word document, you must enter the exact search term without any typos. With the upcoming update, the Find feature will support search queries beyond the exact match. Just as Bing or Google works for Web searches, Microsoft Word can search the document even if your search term has spelling mistakes. Read about the new improvements below.
Typos: When there is a misspelling in the query, search can now show related matches. For example, technincian vs. technician.
Forms of words: When there are different forms of the word in document and query. For example: tech, technology, technologies; or USA, U.S.A, United States, United States of America; or newborn, new born, new-born, etc.
Synonyms: For example: citation, quotation, quote, reference might be all the candidates for a term that you’re searching for inside the document.
Multi-word queries: A single-word query might lead to too many search results. A modern semantic search can often yield better results. For example: oil price, price of oil, prices of the oil, cost of oil can offer related matches from within the document.
In addition to regular search terms, you can also ask questions based on the document content. For example, when you’re looking at a water quality report, you can get answers for questions such as, “Where does the city water originate from?” or “How to reduce the amount of lead in water?”
These new features are already available for Microsoft Word Targeted Release customers. It will be coming soon to all general customers.
Assistive Technology Specialist
Feel free to visit my website
9. TRAVELING AS A BLIND PERSON DURING THE PANDEMIC
by David W. Wannop
For someone who normally operates with four main senses (hearing, touch, taste, and smell), traveling as a blind person during the pandemic has been complicated.
Agencies for the blind have made a few services available, and some blind people are working from home and ordering groceries online. However, the sense of touch, which we rely so heavily upon, has been curtailed.
Because I use my hands so much and sanitizers dry out my skin, I’ve been wearing gloves quite a bit. Although I wear gloves during the winter, I often remove one temporarily to use my keys, check for money in my wallet, insert cards into kiosks, and locate doorknobs. Juggling antiseptic wipes and keeping my gloves on has been a test of my dexterity. Gloves interfere with my ability to read braille indicators on ATMs, doors, and elevators.
When people hand things to me, we’re usually quite close and touch during handoff. Now, it’s a game of quick stretch and aim. Staying six feet from people has been difficult because many people instinctively approach a blind person, figuring we need assistance. I can’t always hear people standing on the walkways, especially those in quiet shoes. I end up passing them quite closely.
I’ve only taken the bus a couple of times since mid-March. People are still getting up so I can have a seat nearer to the front, but what if they’re infected? This ordinarily polite behavior could now put me and others at risk.
I live in a building with only elevators for entrance and exit. You can’t stay six feet away from people in these elevators. I try to time my escapes from the building once or twice a week for minimal contact with people. Going outside of my apartment complex takes some effort and caution because of the elevators and the exit. I also need to select a spot outdoors where people have plenty of room to pass by. I can’t identify those who are wearing masks, so I need to make extra sure that mine is on quite firmly.
Not being able to check the actions of others has made me quite the homebody. Usually I’m out
practically every day, and working in show biz means that I’m used to standing-room crowds and frequent interaction with audience members. Without a pet or roommate, I’m finding myself even more isolated and hoping for big changes in our collective fortune.
Pre-pandemic, my grocery shopping was a pleasant experience, starting with Gleaners Café at the Ninth Street Italian Market, where I would use my Philadelphia Inquirer APP to go through the news while having a bagel and coffee. I sometimes walked there from Center City, but more often I would ride the bus. I am a regular at many shops, and my sense of distance and direction, plus feeling primarily with my cane, tells me where I am along that strip. Although I know my way around, many vendors and Ninth Street regulars guide me because people and vehicles sometimes block my progress. After I make a purchase, the seller puts the items into my backpack as I get out the money. This is considered too close according to current guidelines.
Some stores have developed lines where you wait outside until other people have finished shopping. It’s difficult to find the end of the line, to stay six feet apart the entire time, and to know when others are finished without verbal cues. Customer service people at major chains are supposed to provide shopping assistance to blind people, according to the Americans with
Disabilities Act, but the current restrictions indicate that guiding a blind person around a store is now an unsafe practice. This is part of the motivation to order online instead, as conscientious blind people attempt to mitigate this paradox.
For the most part, I’ve been sending friends to do my shopping for me. This has saved me money on delivery charges and tips. However, I miss being self-reliant and integrated into the larger community. Twice, I’ve felt genuine sadness while running errands. Just before quarantine, I went to a boutique to buy soap and shampoo while I still had a chance. The woman at the boutique always gives me a hug before I leave the store. No surprise—the hug had to be canceled. A café was doing sidewalk pick-up, so I went for coffee. The place was set up for social distancing and all other guidelines. However, in the moment, the barista forgot social distancing and touched my shoulder, as she often does.
I can’t wait until my sighted and blind acquaintances can be affectionate towards me again. I haven’t had an embrace since early March. It’s like my sense of touch has been temporarily starved. Even so, I try to comply with the protocols until the numbers decline. That’s part of protecting myself, and also part being a good citizen, and most blind people strive to be good citizens. But consider one thing as you do the same. If you notice a blind person on the street during these troubling times, ask them if and how they might need assistance—remembering, of course, that they are part of the pandemic, too, and restrictions still apply.
David W. Wannop is a journalist and concert promoter based in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
10. THE HANDLER’S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs
by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
Hello, readers. Summer greetings from the lower Hudson.
Due to Covid-19 and the hot temperatures, it feels like we’re on a lazy ride on the river. I keep hoping the pace will pick up a bit so I can work Bailey. He seems a little depressed since Verona died.
Good news is that our new dog, May, is highly intelligent and precocious. Here’s a funny story about her and her personality. April, our daughter, read a post about giving your dog the egg test to find out how the dog would physically handle it. Bailey went first. He was offered an egg still in the shell and not hard-boiled. He took it, but put it down and then nosed it around, losing interest. Next, May was offered the egg. She took it, walked over to her bed, then buried it and lay down beside it, checking on it. She decided that wasn’t the right place for it, so she picked it back up, looking for the right place, which was under another blanket inside her kennel. She didn’t break the shell and was incredibly careful.
As rambunctious as she can sometimes be, she has a nurturing instinct. When a baby animal cries on TV, she watches and sometimes whines a little. When April brought the new kitten here to introduce him to our other critters, May took charge, following his every move. She policed him just like a Border Collie watching a flock of sheep. Now that Noodle, the kitten, is bigger, they sleep together. He chases her tail, bops her on the nose, and lets her groom him. The acceptance of these two species enriches the meaning of life, and I wish humans could be as welcoming and undiscriminating as cats and dogs.
I hope this story has given you a smile.
Until next time,
~ Making Meaningful Connections with Others Through Writing~
Check out my books at www.annchiappetta.com or at https://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta or read my blog: www.thought-wheel.com
Ann Chiappetta is a celebrated author, poet, and consultant. During the past 20 years, her stories and articles have been featured in both hard copy and electronic journals and magazines such as Breath and Shadow and Dialogue Magazine. Ann’s award-winning poems have been printed in numerous small press poetry reviews, and she contributes regularly to special interest newsletters. Ann’s poetry has been featured on podcasts and other audio presentations. To listen, go to http://www.annchiappetta.com
The 2015 Spirit of Independence Advocacy award winner, Ann possesses expert knowledge on a variety of topics, including blindness and vision loss, service animals, and military culture. Ann is the recipient of the GDUI Leiberg/Metz award for Excellence in Writing. Her informative and engaging presentations include topics from guide dogs to creative writing and expertly blend social awareness with educational content.
Ann’s four books are available on all bookselling platforms.
11. AUTHORS’ CORNER: Three Books / An Update About Audiobook Recording Services
A. Praise from a Fellow Author for David L. Faucheux’s Selections from Across Two Novembers
by Susan Bourrie
The following is a portion of my blog post from July 9, 2020. My blog is “Loving What Is Left While Living with Low Vision.” The title of this entry was “The Pros and Cons of Social Distancing.”
I’m excited to share with you the publication of a long-awaited book by David L. Faucheux. That is Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile. An abridged version, Selections from Across Two Novembers, was just released on BARD. Both books are in print and e-book on Amazon, and the recording of the abridgement, narrated by Adam Barr, is now available from Audible.
Faucheux’s journal, unlike the many memoirs and biographies I have read, is a remarkable and monumental contribution to the body of literature about persons who are living with blindness and low vision, because he does not just show or tell. He welcomes us into his life and into his home as if we are members of his own family or group of friends. This book fills in the huge gap that rehabilitation teachers and counselors never explain: how to live a rich and full life while experiencing low vision, total blindness, multiple surgical procedures, unemployment during times of chronic illnesses not related to any eye disease, and the challenges of inaccessible websites and constant computer software changes since DOS was replaced by Windows.
Faucheux is a complete man who enjoys the best in food, books, and travel. What makes this book so much fun is that he takes his readers right along with him to doctor appointments, church, library events, incredible Louisiana restaurants, and even into his own kitchen. His voice is tender and loving as his tone runs from simple narration to serious wisdom to playful humor. I haven’t even finished reading Selections from Across Two Novembers, but I know I’ll be reading it over and over again and taking notes. Everything I don’t know about organizations, websites, technology, and things that will enrich my life is generously mingled among stories about his personal life and his published book reviews. I am going to be very busy going to all the places in fiction, nonfiction, and online that are mentioned. This is not a guide book. It’s a meet and greet for those of us who often feel excluded and alone.
Selections from Across Two Novembers also includes facts and figures about the discrimination faced by people who are blind and visually impaired, especially in the job market. As Faucheux asks, “Could the unemployment rate for this population in Louisiana really be 98%?” rather than the 70-80% figure that is tossed around nationally. We do need these accurate numbers for every state as well as for the nation and countries around the world. [End of blog post]
David Faucheux’s website is https://www.dldbooks.com/davidfaucheux/
Susan Bourrie is a former teacher and librarian who specialized in children’s literature. She is the author of The Misadventures of Mistletoe Mouse (C 2016) and Meander: The Princess Who Had Ants in Her Pants (C 2020).
Book-related website: https://www.dldbooks.com/susanbourrie/
Personal website: www.susanbourrie.com
by Trish Hubschman
This is the prequel to the Tracy Gayle mystery series.
Available in e-book and paperback from Amazon and Smashwords.
Details, cover image, link to a free text sample, and purchasing links: https://www.dldbooks.com/hubschman/
Tidalwave’s tour bus bursts into flames while the band is relaxing on the beach. The band’s leader, Danny Tide, hires private detective Tracy Gayle to do some discreet investigation into the matter. She’s joining the band on tour as security chief. The arsonist is discovered, but much deeper, more dangerous things come to light as well: an assault, an attempted murder, and then two murders. Tracy is faced with far more than she bargained for, and her stint with the band goes further than just that summer tour. She is fully determined to protect America’s favorite rock and roll heartthrob, and they become the best of friends along the way.
About the Author
Trish Hubschman and her husband, Kevin, along with their dog, Henry, recently moved to northern Pennsylvania. They formerly lived on Long Island, New York. Trish is a graduate of Long Island University’s Southampton Campus and has a Bachelor’s degree in English-Writing. She is the author of the popular Tracy Gayle mystery series, Stiff Competition and Ratings Game. Tidalwave is the eagerly awaited prequel to the series. For more information about Trish’s three books, please visit her website, linked to above.
C. Meander: The Princess Who Had Ants in Her Pants
by Susan Bourrie (C 2020)
Reviewed by David L. Faucheux, Library Journal’s Audiobook Reviewer of
the Year for 2018 and author of Selections from Across Two Novembers:
A Bibliographic Year (C 2019)
Meander has her work cut out for her. Doing nothing, but doing it very well, is challenging. Being curious and understandably bored, Her Royal Highness explores workarounds, including baking cookies, fluffing up pillows, and gardening. But she is not allowed to do any of these by the overzealous servants into whose domain each task falls.
Her queenly mother-in-law finds cultured, artsy things for her to learn. But it is when this princess-with-a-purpose visits her fairy godmother, an appurtenance no fairy tale heroine should be without, that she learns to read and soon is caught up in the joys of books.
Meander: The Princess Who Had Ants in Her Pants is a delight and would be something for a parent, grandparent, or older sibling to share with a younger child. A book for all ages.
For sale from Amazon in e-book and print and now as an Audible audiobook.
Susan Bourrie is a former teacher and librarian who specialized in children’s literature.
She is the author of The Misadventures of Mistletoe Mouse (C 2016).
Book-related website: https://www.dldbooks.com/susanbourrie/
Personal website: www.susanbourrie.com
D. Update About Audiobook Recording Services: July 31, 2020
by Leonore Dvorkin, Editor, DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services
This important new information for the clients of DLD Books (and certain others) concerns those of you who may want to consider having your books professionally recorded as audiobooks for sale on Audible, which is part of Amazon.
All the books that David (my husband) and I edit and prepare for sale are sold on Amazon and other online platforms as high-quality paperbacks and e-books. Now we’re also working with IngramSpark for the production of hardcovers. The e-books are text-to-speech enabled, so they can be listened to on your computer, your e-book reader, or even your smart phone. But if you want your book professionally narrated, we know of three people, two men and one woman, who can help you reach that goal.
Last year, two very experienced audiobook narrators, Lilly Rowe (a.k.a. Lillian Yves) and Adam Barr, agreed to provide their services to the clients of DLD Books who are blind, visually impaired, otherwise disabled, and/or low-income at the sharply discounted rate of $100 PFH (per finished hour). That term refers to the recording in its final form, after all the editing and other corrections have been made to it.
Their normal rates range from about $180 PFH to about $350 PFH. Many factors go into determining the fee. Thus you can see that an offer of $100 PFH is extremely generous. I will add that those normal fees are not at all out of the ordinary; I’ve seen charges from other narrators as high as $450 PFH. Also, Lilly and Adam both have extensive experience, top-notch recording facilities, and much praise from clients. A few of our DLD Books clients are among them.
Note: $100 PFH works out to roughly $100 per 10,000 words. We have the exact word counts of all your books if you’ve had them done through DLD Books. Knowing the word count, you could get a preliminary, rough estimate of the cost of your recording project at $100 PFH.
In the last few days, I have been in renewed contact with both Lilly and Adam. While Lilly is pleased to continue offering that low rate of $100 PFH to clients of ours who qualify for it (see above, third paragraph), Adam regrets that he has to rescind his offer. But he will most likely be able to give those who need it some kind of discount, and even his regular rates are quite reasonable for the industry. To paraphrase what he said I could tell clients from him: “I will be pleased to review your project on a case-by-case basis and decide on a rate in consultation with you.”
Lilly kindly provided me with the name and contact information of another male narrator with whom she works; he is her current dual narration partner for books that require both male and female voices. He is Graydon Schlichter, a.k.a. Vincent Lee Grayson. (Many narrators appear to use two or more names for their professional work.) He is also highly qualified and experienced. Best of all, he is also able and willing to offer qualifying clients that very low rate of $100 PFH.
An additional generous offer from Lilly and Graydon is that if they need to do dual narration for a book by a qualifying client, they will charge not $200 PFH, but only $150 PFH. Lilly says that they are both very impressed with the work that David and I are doing for the disabled community, and they are happy to do their part. Also, Lilly and Adam have both expressed how pleased they have been to work with several clients of DLD Books thus far.
An important clarification: To qualify for these steep discounts, you do not need to be a client of DLD Books, but you do need to be blind, visually impaired, otherwise disabled, and/or low-income. Those who do not fall into these categories are welcome to contact any of the narrators (see below), but they would be expected to pay the narrators’ normal, higher rates if a contract is entered into.
Here is the contact information for these three narrators:
1. Lilly Rowe (a.k.a. Lillian Yves)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (This is her preferred method of contact.)
2. Graydon Schlichter (a.k.a. Vincent Lee Grayson)
He and Lilly share a website: www.lillianyves.com
However, I found another reference to him and his work, with a variety of narration samples, at this URL: https://voice123.com/graydonschlichter/
This second website might be more accessible for authors who are blind or visually impaired.
I was impressed with the samples, which are of works of fiction and nonfiction, and also ads.
3. Adam Barr
Multiple audiobook samples are there.
Thanks for your attention to the above information, and good luck with whatever writing-related projects you are pursuing now or decide to pursue in the future. Rest assured that David and I are here to help in whatever way we can. If you have a book to submit to us this year or next, we will be happy to add you to the editing queue.
With very best wishes,
David and Leonore Dvorkin, DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services
Leonore’s email: email@example.com
David’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org
12. TURNING POINT
by Terri Winaught
Much of the history of psychiatric care has been characterized by a caretaking model instead of a system based on and shaped by the belief that people with mental health issues can and do recover. An exception to that model, however, was Mr. William “Bill” Anthony. In a recent email from the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA), I was informed that the “father of psychiatric rehabilitation” died at the age of 77 on July 15, 2020. What made Bill such a pioneer in his field is that he founded the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center in 1979 and used that federally funded organization to teach, train, and advocate. When he saw, for instance, that veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center with physical injuries were receiving better care than those with PTSD and other mental health concerns, he worked tirelessly to change that.
May his legacy live on to inspire persons receiving services, students, and providers.
13. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)
by Penny Fleckenstein
Who Blogs At: http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com
In April, I had an email inviting me to join John and Ocean Robbins Food Revolution Summit for 2020. For 10 days, I listened to the different online interviews of doctors and professionals who advocate a whole foods, plant-based diet. It was all free, and I gained so much valuable knowledge. I encourage you to go to their site http://foodrevolution.org and read their blog and listen to the content. I’ve learned more about food here than I have in my lifetime. I hope you can join the summit next year. It will be around the same time—at the end of April going through the first few days of May.
John Robbins was groomed to be the heir of Baskin Robbins. Ocean Robbins is his son. In his teens, he visited the dairy cows and realized that they don’t have the idyllic life pictured on the posters displayed in the Baskin Robbins stores. In his early 20s, he had an epiphany and was transformed from eating ice cream for breakfast to eating a whole foods, plant-based diet. He walked away from Baskin Robbins and wrote a book called Diet for a New America in 1987. The changes his father made due to his son’s book, which was recommended to his father by his cardiologist, saved his father from heart disease and gave him many more years of good living. Unfortunately, John’s mother did not believe in making the changes, and she suffered unnecessarily with her illnesses.
During the food revolution summit, I had my own epiphany. I’ve been struggling with constipation, diabetes, vertigo, parasites, and a whole litany of health issues. I even spent a day in late February at the ER because my constipation was so bad. Clearly, I wasn’t well. I evaluated my diet and saw improvements I could make. Adding more fruits and vegetables is easier than I ever expected. As I told my son Isaac, “If you can train yourself to like alcohol, you can train yourself to like fruits and vegetables.”
By taking the time to enjoy my food, I can revel in the flavor of juicy fruits and amazing vegetables. Blueberries, raspberries, grapes, and cherries are little packets bursting with goodness, packed with nutrients that help digest them. I’m eating a bowl of fresh fruit for breakfast each morning as recommended by Mastering Diabetes: The Revolutionary Method To Reverse Insulin Resistance Permanently in Type 1, Type 1.5, Type 2, Prediabetes, and Gestational Diabetes, by Cyrus Khambatta and Robby Barbaro, available on BARD. With this change, and conscientiously drinking more water and tea every day, I’ve been able to move my bowels once or twice daily with little pain. Since I was a teenager, every time I moved my bowels, I would have to lie down for half an hour to an hour until the pain subsided.
Another change I’ve made is eating two Brazil nuts a day to lower my cholesterol. I’ve also increased my vegetable intake and am avoiding foods and beverages I once thought were good for me. Now I’ve been educated. I knew that eating fruits and vegetables is good for you, but what I didn’t know is that your gut needs them to feed the good bacteria that thrive on fiber. Hence, the more whole plant food consumed by us, the better our overall health, since we’re feeding the good bacteria, allowing for better digestion, brain clarity, and hormone balance. I’m far from totally recovered, but, with one small change at a time, I expect great improvements in my health.
Certainly, I haven’t made these changes without spending some money. I enrolled in The Food Revolution “Plant Powered and Thriving” six-week online course, which is three payments of $89. I bought the Empowerment Package offered at the 2020 Food Revolution Summit. It came with $1200 worth of bonuses, which I haven’t yet taken advantage of but will soon. That cost me $110, because I bought an ebook cookbook with it. I also purchased a machine called an Almond Cow, with a half-gallon milk pitcher made of glass, organic oats, organic almonds, and organic coconut for $250. With the push of one button and in less than five minutes, I have delicious, plant-based milk. It makes milk out of nuts, grains, or seeds. To purchase, visit http://almondcow.co It’s a pleasure to make and drink the milk, and the machine is easy to clean.
The expense of good health might be a concern of yours. However, buying organic when you can for the most important fruits and vegetables, educating yourself, and buying equipment making healthy living easier is an investment in your good health. I say you’re worth it! Isn’t it worth less pain and more energy? Show you and the ones you love more love.
Show me some love by emailing me at: email@example.com Let me know if you’ve made some good discoveries, so I can share it with the rest of our readers. My glass is raised to you and your good health!
14. RECIPE COLUMN
by Karen Crowder
August is the height of summer in New England. In early August we have hot weather, good for camping, swimming, and boating. Days are shorter. By mid- to late August, there are hints of fall on cool evenings. When New England receives enough rain, ears of delicious corn, summer squash, and tomatoes are abundant in gardens and farm stands. Juicy peaches, nectarines, and blueberries are available at farm stands and local supermarkets. Ice-cream stands and open-air restaurants are open until mid- to late September. There are no special holidays in August.
I have three recipes for this issue: Gloucester Clam Cakes, from Our New England Cookery, published by the Massachusetts NFB chapters in 1982, a one-volume braille cookbook that’s now out of print; Blueberry Pancakes; and Microwave Corn on the Cob.
Gloucester Clam Cakes
Microwave Corn on the Cob
A. Gloucester Clam Cakes
Marshall and I enjoyed these clam cakes during summer or autumn evenings. My recipe differs from the original. I add more flour, use canola oil, sugar, and add one more egg. I use more milk and often use canned clams. I use enough oil to cover the bottom of a 10-12 inch cast iron or nonstick frying pan. My clam cakes are similar to pancakes. Top them with tartar sauce or maple syrup. Accompany them with tossed salad for a light summer meal.
One cup all-purpose flour
One and one-half teaspoons baking powder
Two teaspoons sugar
One-half teaspoon salt, pepper, optional
Three-fourths cup milk
Four tablespoons canola oil
Two six-ounce cans minced clams or one pint chopped and refrigerated fresh clams
Canola oil for the frying pan.
1. In a large mixing bowl, measure flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.
2. In a smaller mixing bowl, measure out milk, two room-temperature eggs, and canola oil.
3. With a wire whisk, stir dry ingredients for one minute to blend them. With a clean wire whisk, combine the wet ingredients, adding clam juice, for one minute.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
5. Stir clam-cake batter with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth. Add canned or refrigerated fresh chopped or minced clams. Stir for one minute, blending clams into the batter for one and one-half minutes.
6. Cover the bottom of a 10-12 inch cast iron or non-stick frying pan with canola oil. Preheat it for five minutes on low to medium heat.
7. Add one-fourth cup of clam cake batter four times to the hot frying pan. Time the clam cakes for 6-7 minutes on the first side on low to medium heat. Turn cakes over with a metal or silicone spatula. Time clam cakes for 6 minutes on the second side.
8. Remove hot clam cakes and place them on a paper towel-lined dinner plate to drain fat. After two minutes, serve them with tartar sauce or maple syrup on dinner plates.
If you have leftover batter, refrigerate it right away. Prepare and eat leftover clam cakes within two days.
B. Blueberry Pancakes
This recipe is based on “American Pancakes” from a braille copy of the Pancake and Waffle Cookbook, which is no longer in print. I added more butter and sugar. Pancakes, fruit, and coffee make a delicious Sunday-morning breakfast. I made these pancakes for my friend Claire. It was a good way to use up leftover pancake batter. We both enjoyed them with fresh coffee.
One and three-fourths cup flour
Three teaspoons baking powder
Four to five tablespoons sugar
One-fourth teaspoon salt
One and one-half cups rinsed and floured blueberries
Two cups milk
Two room-temperature eggs
Four to five tablespoons melted butter or canola oil.
1. Measure all dry ingredients (except the blueberries) into a large mixing bowl. Measure out eggs, milk, and butter or canola oil into a smaller mixing bowl.
2. If you’re using butter, melt it in the microwave for 35 seconds. Let it cool while measuring dry and wet ingredients. Add the melted butter last to the wet ingredients. Whisk all dry ingredients together for one minute.
3. Combine wet ingredients with a wire whisk for two minutes and add them to the dry ingredients.
4. Mix pancake batter with a wooden spoon until it’s smooth, for one to two minutes. Add one and one-half cups rinsed and floured blueberries to the batter. Stir them in for one minute. Flouring the blueberries is essential so they won’t sink to the bottom of the batter.
5. Cover inner surface of cast iron frying pan with either canola oil or butter. Preheat it for five minutes.
6. Measure out one-third cup of pancake batter into the frying pan. Do this two times. Time the first side for five minutes on low to medium heat. Turn pancakes over and time again for four to five minutes.
Serve pancakes on plates with butter and real maple syrup. You’ll love these pancakes and will keep making them for your friends and family.
C. Microwaved Corn on the Cob
I had no idea how to cook corn on the cob when I married Marshall. I had always had it served as a summer treat by my mom. We devised a way to microwave it, and it always tasted delicious. We used to use plastic wrap. When I became a widow, I found a safer way to cook it using damp paper towels.
1. Husk ears of corn in the sink. Break the ends off the ears of corn. Rinse each ear thoroughly. Be sure all the corn silk is gone.
2. Wrap the ears of corn with slightly damp paper towels. Prick each ear with a fork several times. Microwave corn for seven to nine minutes.
You can microwave three ears on a large dinner plate. If you’re cooking six, serve one ear to each person and then microwave the next three ears. Serve corn with butter and salt. My friend Claire’s mom had a garden. Her family often made a meal with fresh ears of corn. It was delicious on summer evenings.
I hope all Consumer Vision readers and listeners have a wonderful August. Let us pray for a more harmonious and peaceful America. I hope you all appreciate these beautiful summer days with friends and family.
15. TERRI’S TIDBITS
by Terri Winaught
Hello, Consumer Vision readers.
As always, it’s wonderful to be back in touch, and I always look forward to and welcome your feedback on my columns.
Again, and as so often seems to be the case, there’s a lot going on, but I think I’ll start by paying tribute to John Robert Lewis—or, as the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., called him, “the boy from Troy.”
As everyone who keeps up with current events knows, John Robert Lewis, whose 33 years of service in Congress earned him the title “The Conscience of the Congress,” died on Friday, July 24, 2020, after a brief battle with stage four pancreatic cancer.
Having learned a lot about John Lewis’s life recently, the two characteristics by which I am most struck are his courage and his ability to forgive.
I doubt that I would have had the courage on March 7, 1965 to keep marching on the Edmund Pettus Bridge while angry men, filled with hate and racism, beat me with batons, billy clubs, and nightsticks. Of course, being white and blind, that might not have happened to me, but if it had happened to me as it did Mr. Lewis, would I have had the courage to withstand the pain of a fractured skull and a concussion?
Regarding the healing salve of forgiveness, there was a point when former Alabama Governor George Wallace asked John Lewis for forgiveness. Many people, I think, would have told the former governor exactly where he could go and precisely how to get there, but the ever-humble “boy from Troy” said in his autobiography, “How could I not forgive him?”
If there is anyone who got into “good trouble” by taking wrongs in his firm hands and striving to right them with persistent convictions, that person was Mr. John Robert Lewis. So to you, Mr. Lewis, sharecropper’s son, fearless freedom rider, and unyielding conscience of Congress’s hallowed halls, rest in peace!
Next month, I’ll share a poem I plan to write about John Lewis, some thoughts about how divided our nation has been, and a perspective on the upcoming presidential election. In the meantime, always feel free to give me your feedback by writing in braille only to: Terri Winaught, 400 Cochran Road, Apt. 409, Pittsburgh PA 15228. Call me at (412) 595-6187. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next month, take care by being safe so you can stay well.
16. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
Here’s the answer to the trivia question submitted in the July Consumer Vision. The President of the United States who served only one month in office was William Henry Harrison. He contracted pneumonia and died after delivering his inauguration speech in a snowstorm.
Congratulations to the following winners:
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Robert Sollars of Tempe, Arizona
And now, here is your trivia question for the August Consumer Vision. What is the nickname for the new hockey franchise scheduled to join the National Hockey League in 2021? If you know the answer, please email email@example.com or call 508-994-4972.