THE CONSUMER VISION
Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Publisher: Bob Branco
Editing and Proofreading: David and Leonore Dvorkin
Formatting: David Dvorkin
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: Benefits of Sardines, Where and How to Work After the Pandemic, and Dr. Dan, the Very Kind Man *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
2. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Bringing the Troops Home, a Cost vs. Benefit Analysis *** by James R. Campbell
3. TECH CORNER: Mark My Words *** by Stephen Théberge
4. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: Do You Recognize This Game? *** by Don Wardlow
5. WEATHER OR NOT: Could Climate Change Kickstart the Atlantic Hurricane Season? *** by Steve Roberts
6. SPECIAL NOTICE
7. PEN PAL COLUMN
8. AUTHORS’ CORNER
9. GOING. GOING. NOT QUITE GONE *** by Peter Altschul, MS
10. POSSIBLE ASSISTANCE FROM THE STATE FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED AUTHORS *** by Leonore Dvorkin
11. MAY RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
12. JUNE RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
13. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
1. HEALTH MATTERS: Benefits of Sardines, Where and How to Work After the Pandemic, and Dr. Dan, the Very Kind Man
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
May 25, 2021
I welcome comments on any of my articles.
A. Eating sardines regularly helps prevent Type 2 diabetes
Source: EurekAlert, May 6, 2021
If you dislike sardines, feel free to skip this piece. But if you like them, read on!
It’s well known that the high levels of unsaturated fats in sardines help to reduce cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease. Now researchers at a Spanish university have found that certain nutrients in sardines can help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. These include taurine, Omega 3, calcium, and vitamin D. The study was conducted on 152 patients aged 65 and up, people who had been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Patients in the intervention group added two cans of sardines per week to their diets (100 grams per can). After one year, only 8% of the sardine eaters were still at high risk of developing diabetes, as opposed to 22% of those who had not added sardines. The sardine eaters also had increased “good” cholesterol (HDL) and decreased triglycerides.
My husband and I love sardines. We buy Season brand wild caught sardines in olive oil from Costco. A package contains six cans. Each can is 4.375 ounces, or 124 grams, thus a little larger than the cans in the Spanish study. We like mashing the contents of a can (with the olive oil in it) plus half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and half a teaspoon of lemon juice, then either just spooning that up out of little bowls or spreading it on toast. We’re happy to know that the mixture is both delicious and very healthy.
B. After the Pandemic: Where and How to Work?
A poll by the Best Practice Institute, one reported in Newsweek, found that some 83% of CEOs want employees back full-time, while only 10% of workers want back in. A seismic standoff is building. “There’s a belief in our culture that we’ve proven that most jobs can be done virtually,” Melissa Swift of consulting firm Korn Ferry told Newsweek. “But that’s not the belief within the leadership of organizations, so we’re headed for a real clash.”
Obviously, many workplaces require workers to be physically present. Think grocery stores, construction sites, hair salons, restaurants, child care centers, hospitals, and many more. However, several studies over recent years have shown that workers who do most types of office work are not less productive if they work remotely, on their computers at home. They are often even more productive than in the office. Here’s a corroboration of this that I found online:
“Most data shows productivity is not deterred by remote work. A recent survey by Mercer, a human resources and workplace benefits firm, showed that 94% of 800 employers indicated that productivity was the same or higher with their employees working remotely.”
This is no surprise to me or my husband. David worked in offices for over 40 years as a tech writer and a programmer, and he would have loved being able to work remotely. The benefits are obvious. Remote workers can sleep more, avoid the stress and expense of commuting, save natural resources, better balance work and family life, and save the company many expenses, mainly that of massive real estate investments. Several people I know, including our son and one of my sisters, do their well-paid jobs entirely remotely, with our son in science and my sister in advertising. The bioinformatics consulting company that our son works for was set up from the beginning with entirely remote work for all employees. My sister even switched from loving office culture to preferring being at home, plus using Zoom for any necessary meetings.
It’s now my firm belief that whenever possible going forward, companies should offer their employees the choice between working in the office or at home. If they do, then the employees, their families, the environment, and the companies will be much better off.
C. A Good Man Rescuing Old Machines and Old Animals
David and I recently took our old Panasonic stereo system (turntable, tape deck, and speakers) to be repaired by a local man, “Dr. Dan,” who specializes in repairing vintage audio equipment. While many are now giving away their old records, we have over 300 LP records of both classical and popular music that we long to be able to play again. Our stereo system was one of our first purchases when we married 53 years ago, and while it hasn’t worked for over five years, it would truly pain us to see it bite the dust forever. Thus we were very happy to find this man and his highly rated service. He has over 40 years of experience doing this valuable work.
When we entered his tidy garage workshop, he gave us a laughing “warning” about his two “vicious dogs.” They turned out to be two small, obviously elderly canines of indeterminate breeds, both of them asleep on a couple of cozy blankets on the floor. He told us that they were rescue dogs. That is, they had been turned over to a shelter by their owners due to their age and their infirmities, and then he adopted them. One is blind, and the other is disabled; a large tumor had to be removed from one of his hind legs, and it left the little thing barely able to walk. But Dr. Dan, true to his obviously kind nature, took them in, and now they share his workshop (and no doubt his house as well) with him and the machines he so patiently and skillfully saves from the trash heap. He said that it breaks his heart when people basically throw away animals that are no longer young and fit. I found his words, his attitude, and the sight of the peaceful, cherished little dogs profoundly moving. The world needs many more such people as Dr. Dan.
We’ll be picking up our stereo set in a few days. We look forward to it bringing us many more years of listening pleasure, and our memory of this kind man will surely endure as well.
About the Author:
Leonore H. Dvorkin and her husband, David Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado, since 1971. Leonore teaches Spanish, German, and exercise classes, all in her home. David is the author of 30 published books, and Leonore has four books of her own. Both of them write fiction and nonfiction.
Since 2009, David and Leonore have been running DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services; most of their dozens of clients are blind or visually impaired. Their standard book preparation services include (but are not limited to) thorough editing, formatting, e-book conversion, cover design, the uploading of the files to Amazon and Smashwords (who are the main online sellers), and limited assistance with marketing. Their most basic aim is to provide exceptional, comprehensive service at very reasonable rates.
David and Leonore invite you to visit any of their websites for more information.
David Dvorkin: http://www.dvorkin.com/
Leonore H. Dvorkin: https://www.leonoredvorkin.com/
DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services: https://www.dldbooks.com/
2. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Bringing the Troops Home, a Cost vs. Benefit Analysis
by James R. Campbell
A major announcement was made this week that could have serious consequences for the global community. President Joe Biden set an official date for the withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan, no later than September 2021.
American forces went to that war-torn nation in 2001 in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11. On that day, hijackers commandeered four airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The passengers on the fourth plane fought with the hijackers, preventing a greater loss of life.
President George W. Bush vowed retribution, and on October 7, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom began. U.S. ground and air forces went to Afghanistan in search of Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden and his fighters, who were sheltered by Kabul’s Taliban regime. After hard fighting, the American-backed government that was installed in the Afghan capital pushed the Muslim fundamentalist army out of major areas, restricting their ability to engage in terrorist attacks on a global scale.
Peace talks began a few years ago, and President Trump promised the enemy that he would have our troops home by May 1, 2021. For some reason, Biden extended their stay until September.
Military officials are leery of withdrawing all of our soldiers from that troubled land. The Taliban is now in control of much of the territory they lost, and there is a considerable Al-Qaeda presence in the country. When one adds the Islamic State to the mix, it’s easy to see the validity of the concerns of the generals and others who advise against a total withdrawal.
Those in favor of a withdrawal cite the history and the indomitable spirit of the Afghan people. The British, the Russians, and now the U.S. have tried to subdue the Muslim extremists in that land; all have failed. Those people would rather die than surrender to an invading army.
Our involvement in Afghanistan’s affairs goes back to the Reagan era, during the Soviet effort to subjugate the population and bring them under Marxist rule. The Russians were successful to a point, until Stinger missiles appeared in the country, courtesy of the CIA. Eventually, the Russians left, and Afghanistan became a failed state until the Taliban stormed Kabul in 1996.
One of their backers was none other than bin laden, who fought alongside the rebels during the Soviet occupation. The 9/11 attacks were a successful bid by the Al-Qaeda creator to bloody the nose of the United States. His intent was to force America to respond. The result was our longest war.
I am opposed to the withdrawal. I deem conditions in Afghanistan far too risky for the world if the various extremist groups form an alliance and take over the country. Under President Trump, Isis in Iraq and Syria were defeated, and the city of Mosul was retaken by the Iraqi army. My fear is that leaving Afghanistan will open the door for the creation of another caliphate like the one we just defeated. I don’t believe the world can stand to go through such a scenario again, and history will most likely repeat itself. Let’s pray that it doesn’t.
Those who want the troops home are tired of the loss of American lives and the billions of dollars we spend annually to prop up a government that grows weaker by the day. I can see the validity of their argument. On the other hand, have we forgotten 9/11? I haven’t. It’s safe to assume that we’re placing the world in peril if the extremists take over Kabul. Can we afford it? Not on your life!
As always, thanks for your time.
With loving kindness,
James R. Campbell
3. TECH CORNER: Mark My Words
by Stephen Théberge
With the plethora of information, entertainment, and opinion available online, it’s no wonder that people are often confused as to where and what the truth is. I will focus mainly on Facebook and look at how email can be abused.
Anybody who has used Facebook for a short length of time will soon find a large number of recycled jokes, opinions, and other types of posts. At times, one will have the knowledge of who originated the information, although one cannot always be sure of that. There have been a few instances in which I found something on a private group which I found entertaining or interesting. Due to the privacy nature of the group, I couldn’t simply share it with my friends. I had to copy and paste it. People were amazed at my “creativity,” and I had to point out, with some embarrassment, that I had copied it from somewhere else.
Now, I often just put the line “copied...” at the top of something I’ve taken from elsewhere. These are hardly the citation methods I learned in school. I’m not advocating that social media be run like a classroom, but I do think people should be cognizant of giving some semblance of credit to others as a common courtesy, if not for the other reason of common sense. I don’t need to have my ego boosted by using someone else’s cleverness. I suspect that a lot of things on social media come from sources whose original locations may not be discoverable.
I know of a person who is prolific in sending emails to many groups. These correspondences range from seeking information to sharing opinions and petitioning people to take action, along with other sundry things. I have, on occasion, shared online links to information I thought might be interesting. I realize that there are sometimes cases where people could not, for one reason or another, open a link. This emailer in question took the liberty of cutting and pasting part of the article I’d sent. This was not an issue, but they neglected to point out the online source from which it was taken. Nor was the fact that I had sent it mentioned. It wasn’t so much an issue of me getting the credit, but more of properly citing the online source from whence it came.
I do think some people like the recognition of posting clever humor, useful information, or other posts just for the glory of having people comment on it or react to it with a “like” or some other emotional tag available on Facebook and other social media. I would rather share something I find of value, whether it’s informational or entertaining. It’s certainly nice to have others leave comments and reactions. I am more for the free flow of information, thoughts, and other things which might get attention or have people think about stuff.
I do think the line is blurring concerning proper citation of online material. It’s understandable how this can happen. Often, one need only share, which usually preserves the content of the original poster. It has happened that a friend shared a link on Facebook with me and others, and then when I shared the link to my network, the original poster’s information was lost, and the appearance and implication were that I was the original person to impart this information. Copying and pasting, as I’ve mentioned, is one way to deliberately remove a citation from its original distributor. I do think most people get caught up in the emotion of the moment and are not deliberately trying to steal credit. I speak from experience. I would like to think I’m trying to be mindful of the sources of my online posts. Of course, if I’m espousing my own opinion, that’s a different matter. Unless I find myself agreeing with somebody else, it isn’t necessary in that case.
I find that most of the time, there are not any really new or well-worded ideas out there online. Those rare instances when we find them should be attributed, if at all possible, to the originator. What would be even rarer would be for us to be the ones to have the original idea go viral online, and hopefully, we’d get the proper mention for it—not for the sake of ego, but common courtesy.
By the time you read this, Memorial Day will be over, and we’ll be at the unofficial start of summer. Maybe we can get out a bit more than last year and won’t have to worry about the stuff behind the screen so much. Have a great June.
Follow me on Twitter at @speechfb
Read and post on my writer’s blog: http://blinderwriterweb.wordpress.com
Check out my coming of age science fiction novel The MetSche Message and its sequel The MetSche Maelstrom at http://www.dldbooks.com/stephentheberge/
Watch my YouTube channel. Many blindness-related issues, and the latest Branco Broadcasts.
4. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: Do You Recognize This Game?
by Don Wardlow
There’s an exciting sport that’s been played since this past February where fans are starting to be welcomed back. The game would be nearly unrecognizable to fans and players of major league baseball, but baseball it is. Strict major league purists sneer at college baseball and only think about the “PING!” sound of a metal bat hitting a ball. Metal bats are cheaper than wood and keep college baseball in business. In our colleges, particularly the smaller colleges, where a player’s chance of becoming a pro is small, the game is much more like 1960s major league baseball than today’s game of wild swings and misses, a sport in which entirely too many no-hit games have already been pitched, and unwritten rules have been transgressed.
The beauty of today’s college baseball can be demonstrated by a doubleheader played yesterday in Glassboro, New Jersey, a small town 24 miles south of Philadelphia. Rowan University, whose team is named the Profs and which was Glassboro State College when I slept through classes there, was taking on William Paterson College for the state conference championship. The winner would go to the Division 3 regionals, and maybe on from there to the Division 3 World Series in Iowa.
Neither team scored through four and a half innings of the first game. Both teams opened with their best hurlers, and while both teams mounted rallies, the pitchers stood firm until the home half of the fifth. After three singles loaded the bases, Nick Schooley singled home Rowan’s first two runs of the game. After a walk reloaded the bases, the coach of William Paterson, showing little faith in his offense, took out his undefeated ace pitcher. In a major league game, in all likelihood the next three hitters would have struck out. In this game, Rowan’s Eric DiDomenico hit a “blue darter” down the left field line, driving in two more runs, putting men on second and third. His double was the only extra base hit in game one, though runs were plentiful. While the pitcher retired the next two men, they put the ball in play. So did Ryan McIsaac, who reached on a first baseman’s error, allowing the other two runs to score, making it a 6-0 game for the Profs. Though the visitors put up two in the top of the sixth, Rowan’s attack continued. With two men on, Schooley bunted (anybody remember the bunt?) and reached first safely. A run scored on a fielder’s choice, then one came in on a single, followed by two more on a wild throw. Again, the visitors countered with a pair, but Rowan made it 12-4, which was the game’s final score. Not a home run was hit by either side. Nobody called for an umpire’s review, though the doubleheader was televised on YouTube. Is this still baseball, somebody might wonder.
Now, to have a chance in the best of three series, William Paterson had to win the second game. Under the conference rules, Paterson played the role of the home team in game two. They trotted out their second-best starter, Jack DeFouw, who had a 7-1 record and a 3.15 ERA. He had nothing this day. He walked the first batter. Then, after a passed ball, he fired in ball four to the second hitter. The runner broke from second, causing the catcher to airmail the throw. Just like that, it was 1-0 Profs. Alex Kokos singled and Ryan Murphy walked, loading the bases with nobody yet retired. The next two Profs hit scoring fly balls, making it 3-0 right off the bat. Rowan’s starter, Eli Atiya, 7-1 with a 2.05 ERA, took it from there. He handcuffed a usually potent Paterson offense. DeFouw couldn’t finish the second inning. He got the first two men, then surrendered a single and a triple, which landed him in an early shower. The triple by Victor Cruz was the longest hit of game two. Paterson scored once in their half of the second, but with the bases loaded and none out, they looked like major leaguers, striking out three times in a row. With more small ball, the Profs scored single runs in the third, fourth, eighth, and ninth.
The truth of the matter was, from the second inning on, it was all over but the shouting—and there was much shouting and clapping from the fans, who hadn’t been allowed to attend games until the tournament finals. No home runs, no problems, as long as the Profs played the game as it should be played and won. In the next few weeks, check out the college playoffs in your area and see if you get the kind of play I’ve described here.
5. WEATHER OR NOT: Could Climate Change Kickstart the Atlantic Hurricane Season?
by Steve Roberts
Here are the seasons as they currently are. In 1935, the National Weather Bureau got a telegraph wire that enabled it to start up a hurricane warning system. In 1935, the Atlantic Hurricane Season started on June 15. In 1965, the official start of the hurricane season was upped to the first of June. Ever since then, the hurricane seasons have run from June 1 to November 30, to coincide with the first and last days of those months.
As things stand right now, the Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30. The Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season runs from May 15 to November 15. Thus there is a 15-day difference in the start and finish of the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific Hurricane Seasons. The National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida, monitors hurricane activity from the West Coast of Africa to the Central Pacific, which starts at 120 degrees west. Once the hurricane passes 120 degrees west, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Hawaii takes over forecast responsibility.
Changing the Seasonal Schemes?
During each of the last six Mays, there has been at least one pre-season tropical disturbance in the Atlantic Basin. This has compelled those at NOAA to consider adding two weeks to the hurricane season by starting the season on May 15. The idea here is quite simple: As the earth heats up, hurricanes will form earlier in the year, warranting the earlier start to the season.
But not everyone is on board with that idea. The Weather Channel’s Rick Nabb says, “These pre-season storms were all semi-tropical systems that didn’t even become tropical storms, let alone hurricanes. If these storms become hurricanes, I would be in favor of moving up the start of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. May hurricanes are very rare in the Atlantic Basin.”
A typical June to November hurricane season sees very little hurricane activity for the first seven weeks of the season. From June 1 to July 20, there is very little hurricane activity to watch. The last trimester of July (July 21-31) sees a nearly two-fold increase in the incidence of tropical cyclone activity over the previous trimester (July 10-20). Why add two weeks of virtually nothing to a seven-week early season slumber?
It’s my opinion that the Atlantic Hurricane Season should still start on June 1 for the time being. However, I also think that we should revisit this question every seven or eight years, until it is deemed necessary that the seasonal schemes be changed. If NOAA is considering the possibility of starting the Atlantic Hurricane Season on May 15, why don’t they also consider the idea of ending the Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season on November 30? By running each season concurrently from start to finish, NOAA could streamline the administrative processes of monitoring the greatest storms on earth.
Note: Steven P. Roberts is the author of the nonfiction book The Whys and Whats of Weather (2014) and a novel called The Great Winter Hurricane (2015). For full details, including cover images, synopses, and free text samples, see https://www.dldbooks.com/stevenproberts/
6. SPECIAL NOTICE
from Bob Branco, Publisher
Please join our podcast mailing list! Each week, Peter Altschul and I record a podcast called In Perspective, where we invite special guests to talk about their projects, professions, and other issues that benefit our listeners. Sometimes, Peter and I discuss a topic by ourselves. You are welcome to appear on our show, and you can subscribe to our mailing list free of charge. If you would like to receive copies of our show each week, just send a test email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll see that it's done. If you want to participate on any episode of In Perspective, we can send you a Zoom invitation. Also, if you have a topic that you feel would be beneficial for our listeners, please indicate your interest in appearing on In Perspective. You can email email@example.com, or call 508-994-4972. To check out a previous episode of In Perspective, go to www.brancoevents.com and click on “In Perspective Podcasts.” At that point, you will see a list of archived shows from latest to earliest.
Here is a list of guests for the months of June through early September of this year, along with dates and times of the recordings. Please note that all programs begin at 5 p.m. Eastern time.
Friday, June 4, Sandy Arruda, fitness, 5 p.m.
Thursday, June 10, Peter Altschul, author of Riding Elephants: Creating Common Ground Where Contention Rules, 5 p.m.
Friday, June 18, Angela Paulson, domestic violence, 5 p.m.
Friday, June 25, Rob Weissman, Beep Baseball, 5 p.m.
Friday, July 2, Justin Salisbury, Second Vice President / National Association of Blind Students, sighted privilege, 5 p.m.
Friday, July 9, Stephanie Boulay, nutrition, 5 p.m.
Friday, July 16, Alex Gray, blind Boston City Council candidate, 5 p.m.
Friday, July 23, Elizabeth Sammons, author of the novel The Lyra and the Cross, 5 p.m.
Friday, July 30, Robert Sollars, Are You Safe in School?, 5 p.m.
Friday, August 6, Donna Halper, Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies, 5 p.m.
Friday, August 13, Vicki Preddy, Non-24, 5 p.m.
Friday, August 20, Barbara Spencer, award-winning author, 5 p.m.
Friday, August 27, Ellis Hall, musician, 5 p.m.
Friday, September 3, Robin Putnam, reporting scams and scammers, 5 p.m.
Friday, September 10, Congressman John Leboutillier, 5 p.m.
7. PEN PAL COLUMN
A. Dear Bob,
I would like to be added to your Pen Pal column, please.
My contact information is listed below:
I am Shirley Barber, and I am in my seventies. I love Jesus. I like reading Christian material, listening to contemporary gospel music, and watching old TV shows. I like talking on chat systems for the blind and playing games by phone. I would like to receive correspondence by email or on a thumb drive. I will return the drive once I hear the message. My mailing address is:
P. O. Box 663
Shreveport, Louisiana 71162
My email address is: Trebloc62@gmail.com
Thank you in advance,
B. My name is Roanna Bacchus, and I am visually impaired. I am an alumna of the Perkins School for the Blind. I live in Florida with my family.
8. AUTHORS’ CORNER
THE SAYZEH SONG: BOOK TWO
This is the second volume of a multi-part memoir by Chaim Segal / C 2021
In print (182 pages) and e-book from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers
Cover image, author bio, information about Book One, and more:
My last half of 7th grade and the summer that followed brought a combination of new life experiences and a few sad farewells. A careless four words led me to suffer my first broken bone. On the heels of my recuperation, I got to witness Smoky, our family cat, giving birth. It was the first birth of any species I was ever present for.
There was the excitement of the arrival of the first early model Kurzweil Reading Machine at Sinclair Community College, and my attendance at Camp Stone for the last time would open my ears to popular music in an entirely new way. But in other respects, that session at Camp Stone was deeply disappointing.
An important part of my life would soon come to a sudden halt. The demise of choir was equivalent to the death of a very deep section of my heart.
Experiences gained both inside and outside of school since my start at Stivers would set the stage for my 8th grade year to be one of great transition. That will be the subject of Book Three.
So let’s continue where we left off. In Book One, I introduced you to my family, starting from its inception, then focused on my growth and development. In this book, we will first set the stage for the story ahead, then journey through the last half of my 7th grade year as a new student at Stivers and the summer that followed.
Again, a hearty thanks to you, my readers.
9. GOING. GOING. NOT QUITE GONE
by Peter Altschul, MS
In 2012, the publisher of my memoir, Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind, set up a website for me to support the marketing of the book.
“You need to write a blog,” my temporary publicist chirped.
“OK,” I mumbled. “What should I write about?”
“Whatever you want.”
“Any other advice?”
“Keep each blog post under 750 words.”
During the next nine years, I wrote about what interested me at the moment, and these musings resulted in two books.
In 2017, the publisher asked me to come up with a phrase, in 10 words or fewer, that would best market the first of these books.
“I hate these kinds of things,” I complained to Heath, my guide dog at the time. He ignored me from his perch on my pillow, so I sighed as my elephant grumbled, thought quietly for a while, and came up with “creating common ground where contention rules.”
Awesome, I thought, smiling, suddenly realizing that this phrase encapsulated much of my professional and personal life. So I added this phrase to the end of the original title, which became:
Breaking It Down and Connecting the Dots: Creating Common Ground Where Contention Rules
I cringed while rereading the manuscript three years later as I hid from the virus. While there was much to like, the title was too long. Some of the tone was too pompous. While the essays were grouped into categories, no common theme united them. And I was tired of the publisher’s exorbitant fees and annoying marketing pitches.
So, in November 2020, I sent my third manuscript to DLD Books, run by David and Leonore Dvorkin, a husband and wife team who work together to edit and prepare books for publication. Many of their clients are visually impaired. During the next four months, Leonore and I worked together to strengthen the text. Leonore found a wonderful image to frame the book’s title: Riding Elephants: Creating Common Ground Where Contention Rules.
Meanwhile, David created a new website for me to market my books. That is: https://www.dldbooks.com/peteraltschul/
In March 2021, Riding Elephants was published in e-book and print. It can be purchased online at Amazon.com and at Smashwords.com.
And my blog has disappeared.
“You should continue to write blog posts,” people tell me.
But my elephant doesn’t wanna.
Sure, I could build on concepts developed in Riding Elephants to write about why using polls as talking points is futile. Or about my engagement with the vaccine process while moving to a new place. Or about why I think the Brooklyn Nets will lose in the second round of the NBA playoffs. Or the wonderful awkwardness of choir-singing as the pandemic reluctantly releases its grip.
But this seems unappetizing, especially when visually impaired bloggers are raising the alarm about how those who run WordPress, one of the few sites accessible to us blind bloggers, are making it more and more difficult for us to upload our posts or even create an account.
What will I do? I have no idea, but I do hope you will learn about the connection between riding elephants and creating common ground through reflecting thoughtfully and soulfully while reading the book. Of course, I welcome your feedback.
In closing, I offer this poem:
On the back of an elephant.
With a drumstick in one hand
Skimming a line of braille with the other
With bar food on a tray upon the trunk.
“Peace be with you!” I tweet with my feet
As we soar
Through a sonorous sunrise.
Going. Going. Not Quite Gone
10. POSSIBLE ASSISTANCE FROM THE STATE FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED AUTHORS
by Leonore Dvorkin
Editor, DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services
Without revealing her name or state in order to protect her privacy, I’d like to mention that a new editing client of ours has received substantial assistance from her state, from the Department of Services for the Blind, toward the fulfillment of her writing goals. Over the past 15 years, they have provided her with an array of adaptive equipment, mobility training, job training, and employment opportunities. Now they are paying the total cost of having her first book edited and prepared for publication by us, DLD Books.
The author wishes to emphasize that she had strong support for her writing goals from a specific person in her state’s Department of Services for the Blind. Also, specifying that she would receive help from us for our editing and other book preparation services was a factor that contributed to her receiving the assistance. That was part of the process of defining the job goal of author for herself.
She does not want other visually impaired authors to assume that they will automatically be approved for such assistance from their own states. For her, the help she got seems to have come down to there being such funds available and also to her having personal connections in the department. However, as with everything else in life, you never know what you’ll get unless you ask for it, so she and I both feel that others should at least make some inquiries if they are so inclined.
She suggests that if other visually impaired authors are not already familiar with such organizations in their states, they should search for the “Department of Services for the Blind” or the “Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services.” (Here in Colorado, it is called the “Division of Vocational Rehabilitation.”) Then, even if the department is able and willing to pay only a portion of the book preparation costs, that can be a big help for low-income authors. The majority of our projects have come in at somewhere between $500 and $1500 total per book. Many factors go into the total cost.
Certainly this author is profoundly grateful for all the assistance she has received, and we are happy for her. There was some paperwork that we had to fill out in order to receive payment from the state, but it was not extensive or onerous, and they made the first payment promptly. So we are all quite happy with this arrangement.
Good luck to any other visually impaired authors who make similar inquiries in their own states!
11. MAY RECIPE COLUMN
by Karen Crowder
We anticipate May with longer, warmer days and milder nights. New England and the northeast begin to enjoy summerlike weather. Lily of the valley, irises, and lilacs bloom by mid- to late May. Fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs are available in local supermarkets. All ice cream and roadside stands open by Memorial Day.
There are three special days. Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 9. Ramadan ends Tuesday, May 11. Memorial Day is Monday, May 31.
A. Creamy Herbed Vegetable Soup
On April 22, 2021, it was an unseasonably cool evening. I created this soup using fresh vegetables, herbs, spices, and a light cream sauce.
Ingredients for the sauce:
Four tablespoons butter
Four tablespoons flour
One and one-half cups milk
One-half cup half-and-half
Almost two tablespoons light brown sugar
Optional two tablespoons heavy cream
Dashes of curry powder, garlic powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
Ingredients for the vegetable base:
Eight to nine baby carrots
Nine thin stalks of asparagus
Four whole mushrooms
Fresh dill water
Dashes of garlic powder and brown sugar.
1. In a double boiler, melt butter. After five minutes, add flour. Stir mixture for one minute. Add milk and half-and-half. Stir white sauce for two minutes, until there are no lumps. Stir sauce infrequently for 25 minutes until it is of a smooth consistency.
2. While sauce is cooking, melt two tablespoons butter in a one-quart saucepan, adding dashes of olive oil. Break up a bunch of fresh chives and dill into a small bowl. Add herbs to butter and olive oil. Sauté herbs on low heat.
3. Cut asparagus, carrots, and mushrooms, adding vegetables to herbs. Sauté vegetables and herbs on low heat for 15 minutes, covering the saucepan. After 15 minutes, add one cup water and dashes of garlic powder and brown sugar. Cover saucepan. Cook vegetable-herb mixture for 20 minutes.
4. Stir sauce and add dashes of curry powder, garlic powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Add almost two tablespoons of light brown sugar. Add vegetables and two tablespoons of heavy cream and stir the soup.
5. Cover pan. Simmer vegetable-herb soup for 10 minutes.
Serve hot soup in crocks or mugs with oyster or Ritz crackers. It goes well with egg salad, grilled cheese, or tuna sandwiches
B. Cornbread-Crusted Codfish
This recipe is originally from the March 2020 edition of Our Special magazine.
Lemon, butter, and some parsley keep these oven-baked fish fillets simple. Serve with some grits and some down-home authenticity. Makes four servings.
Four cod fillets, 6-ounce size
One tablespoon fresh or dried herbs, parsley, or oregano.
One cup crumbled cornbread
Two tablespoons butter
One-half lemon, juiced
Lemon wedges for serving.
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place cod on a sheet, tray, or medium baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top with herbs and cornbread crumbs and dot with butter.
2. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes, until topping is lightly browned and fish flakes easily with a fork.
Drizzle with lemon juice and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
C. The craziest new way to make chocolate pudding
This recipe is originally from the March 2020 edition of Our Special magazine. My recipe for chocolate pudding adds unsweetened cocoa powder and chocolate chips. In the original recipe, you can use any flavor pudding and sprinkles. Serves six.
One cup cold milk
One small package instant chocolate pudding. Jello and Royal are good brands.
Two cups softened chocolate ice cream. Breyers and Friendly’s Forbidden Chocolate are good brands.
One tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
One-half cup Nestlé’s chocolate chips.
1. Combine milk, pudding mix, and cocoa in a mixing bowl with the mixer on low speed for one minute or until smooth. Fold in softened ice cream until mixed. Add chocolate chips.
2. Put mixture in individual dessert dishes and chill for one to two hours. You can also cover the mixing bowl and chill the pudding mixture for one to two hours.
You can add crushed cookies, sprinkles, whipped cream or fruit for a garnish.
This is a good recipe at your first cookout. We always had one of our first cookouts on Mother’s
Day. The family looked forward to a Memorial Day cookout. Enjoy!
I hope everyone has a delightful May. With more Americans receiving COVID-19 vaccines, there will be lessened anxiety. We can anticipate family gatherings and cookouts again. Let us all pray for a more united America, regaining trust in each other.
Note: Anyone can receive Our Special magazine from the National Braille Press for $15 a year for six issues. The recipe column is organized by Marjorie Arnot. It is entitled “Kitchen Corner.”
12. JUNE RECIPE COLUMN
by Karen Crowder
The month of June delivers summerlike weather. Temperatures across the United States range from the 70s to over 100 degrees. The summer of 2021 will be more normal. Beaches, ponds, pools, and lakes are open again. Parks will be open for Americans to enjoy. With farm stands open, locally produced vegetables, herbs, and fruits are for sale. Unlike the summer of 2020, Americans are planning trips to see family and relatives. Anxiety has been diminished as many Americans have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Gardens begin to blossom by late June. Lavender, spearmint, chive, and strawberries bloom.
There are three special days. Flag Day is Monday, June 14. Father’s Day is Sunday, June 20. The first day of summer is Monday, June 21. It is also the longest day of the year.
I have three tempting recipes for June: Herbed Vegetable Seafood Stew, Easy BLTs, and Countryside Cheesecake.
A. Herbed Vegetable Seafood Stew
Often, cooking mistakes turn into delicious recipes. It was Thursday evening, May 7. I was looking forward to mushroom soup and a salad. I was sautéing chives, mushrooms, and asparagus, adding variety to canned mushroom soup. When I opened a can, I discovered clams. What to do? Since I could not find the scallops, this turned into a light clam vegetable stew. It was good. When I added scallops the next evening, it made this stew scrumptious.
Five to six whole or sliced fresh mushrooms
Eight to nine fresh chives
Five thin stalks of asparagus
One and one-fourth sticks butter
One can clams
One and one-half pound sea scallops
Three cups milk
One-half cup half-and-half
One-half cup light cream
One-half cup water
Juice from clams and scallops
Pinches of garlic powder, salt, and curry powder.
1. In a small saucepan, sauté broken-up mushrooms, asparagus, and chives in one-half stick melted butter for 15 minutes. In a large saucepan, melt three-fourths stick butter. Add clams and scallops. Sauté these for one-half hour on low heat. Add clam juice, milk, light cream, half-and-half, and one-half cup water. Add already sautéed vegetables and herbs.
2. Stir stew briefly and cook on low heat for one-half hour. Stir and cook stew for another 15 minutes.
Serve with oyster or Ritz crackers and a light tossed salad.
This is a fitting supper on a cool June evening.
B. Easy BLTs
These sandwiches are easy to prepare and nutritious. I microwave bacon, and the addition of fresh tomatoes and lettuce makes the sandwiches good.
Four slices either plain or thick-cut apple or maple bacon
One-half fresh tomato
Romaine lettuce leaves
Hellmann’s mayonnaise, optional
Butter, if toasting the bulky rolls.
1. Toast one or two bulky rolls in a toaster oven for 10 minutes, plain or with butter.
2. While rolls are toasting, microwave bacon on a paper towel-lined plate, covering bacon with another paper towel, for two minutes and forty seconds. (Note: Cooking time will depend on the thickness of the bacon you are using and whether it is raw or pre-cooked. Pre-cooked bacon takes under a minute to heat up to perfect doneness.)
3. Place rolls on plates. Spread mayonnaise liberally on rolls. Add two or three slices of bacon to each roll. Top with broken-up lettuce and cut-up tomato. Put rolls together and serve with strawberries.
These sandwiches are just right on a warm summer evening.
C. Countryside Cheesecake
This recipe is from Cooking from Coast to Coast. It is in one braille volume featuring two recipes from each state. It can be purchased from Blind Mice Mega Mall in Texas. Countryside Cheesecake is from the state of Maryland.
The prep time is 1 hour 30 minutes.
Ingredients for the graham cracker crust:
One cup graham cracker crumbs
One cup granulated sugar
One-fourth cup melted butter.
Ingredients for the cake:
Two large eggs
Three eight-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
One and one-half cups granulated sugar
One cup cream
Five tablespoons all-purpose flour
One tablespoon vanilla.
1. Combine crust ingredients and mix well.
2. Form into a 9 x 2 inch cake pan. Place in a preheated 350-degree oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the cream cheese and blend until creamy. Add the sugar and mix. Add the vanilla, cream, and flour and mix well. Add eggs one at a time and mix. Pour the batter into the cake pan and return to oven. Bake for 55 minutes.
4. Remove and let cool. Refrigerate for at least eight hours before serving. Serve cold.
I would top the cheesecake with fresh strawberries to make it extra appealing.
Americans are looking forward to the summer months. With the COVID-19 pandemic waning, traveling to visit friends is exciting. Getting the vaccine will lessen your anxiety about visiting others. You will love the freedom to travel.
Let us pray for a united and peaceful America.
13. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the May Consumer Vision. The letter Q is the only letter of the alphabet which is not in any of the names of the 50 states.
Congratulations to the following winners:
Cleora Boyd of Fort Worth, Texas
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Daryl Darnell of Urbana, Illinois
Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Nancy Hays of Waterbury, Connecticut
Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana
Karen Palau of Buffalo, New York
Brian Sackrider of Port Huron, Michigan
Steve Théberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts
And now, here is your trivia question for the June Consumer Vision. What is the official name for the collarbone? If you know the answer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 508-994-4972.