December 2020

Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Phone: 508-994-4972
Publisher: Bob Branco
Proofreading and Editing: David and Leonore Dvorkin
Formatting: David Dvorkin


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 Dried Fruit, Vitamin D, and Bilingualism *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin

2. TECH CORNER: Two for One *** by Stephen Théberge

3. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Maintaining Faith at the Crucial Moment *** by James R. Campbell

4. WEATHER OR NOT: The Tempests of Tomorrow, Part One *** by Steve Roberts


6. TERRI'S TIDBITS *** by Terri Winaught

7. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein

8. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder

9. TURNING POINT *** by Terri Winaught



1. HEALTH MATTERS: Benefits of Dried Fruit, Vitamin D, and Bilingualism
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
Written 11/27/20 for the December 2020 issue of The Consumer Vision
I welcome comments on any of my articles.

Hello, readers. I might list some important Covid-19 items next month, but for now, here are a few more cheerful items that my husband and I found of interest. My notes are excerpts from and paraphrases of the articles.

a. Eating dried fruit may be linked with better diet quality and health markers
Source: EurekAlert 11/24/20 and Penn State University

The researchers found that people who ate dried fruit were generally healthier than those who did not. Dried fruit is generally high in calories, so it's important to choose varieties with no added sugar, and portions need to be small. But dried fruit is portable, shelf-stable, and relatively cheap. Fruits provide an abundance of nutrients, including fiber, potassium, and several heart-healthy bioactives. Dried fruit can help people boost their overall fruit intake.

Personal notes: While David and I eat lots of fresh fruit, mainly assorted berries and grapes, we also enjoy dried fruits: raisins, prunes, figs, dates, and apricots. A mere handful of raisins can be a surprisingly satisfying snack in place of sweets. David finds that raisins and a cup of coffee make excellent pre-workout fuel. After those, he can work out hard with weights for over two hours at a time.

b. Vitamin D supplements may reduce risk of developing advanced cancer
Source: EurekAlert 11/18/20 and Brigham and Women's Hospital

Studies have found that people who live near the equator, where exposure to sunlight produces more vitamin D, have a lower incidence of and death rates from certain cancers. In cancer cells in the lab and in mouse models, vitamin D has been shown to slow cancer progression. Now, a team led by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has published their findings that vitamin D is associated with an overall 17% risk reduction for advanced cancer. When they looked at results for patients who were not overweight, they found an impressive 38% risk reduction.

Their conclusion: Vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing advanced cancers. This supplement is readily available, cheap, and has been studied for decades.

Note: The study on which their conclusions were based was rigorous and placebo-controlled, and it took place over a span of more than five years. It included both men and women and was racially and ethnically diverse. There were more than 25,000 participants.

Personal notes: David and I have taken vitamin D, as well as many other supplements, for decades. We are both light-skinned and quite sensitive to the sun, so we get little sun exposure. We take vitamin D as a kind of insurance. Previous reading that I've done indicated that vitamin D3 is what you should look for. It's very stable and is the form most often used in clinical studies. Food sources of vitamin D3 include eggs, cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, liver, and sardines, but those are often scarce in American diets. David and I do eat eggs, salmon, tuna, and sardines, but we also each take one small capsule per day of vitamin D3, 2000 IU each, Kirkland brand (from Costco), with 600 softgels per bottle. A bottle is good for several years, so we have no trouble consuming those well before the expiration date. Supplements should generally be stored in a cabinet, preferably away from heat, light, and dampness.

c. Actively speaking two languages protects against cognitive decline
Source: EurekAlert 11/16/20 and Pompeu Fabra Univeristy, Barcelona, Spain

Introductory remarks:

This article was of particular interest to me because I am fluent in German and Spanish, as well as English, my native language. I've studied various foreign languages for varying lengths of time: German, Spanish, French, and Latin. That all started when I was 13 years old and my family moved to Germany for two years (1959-1961). I have two B.A. degrees in languages and have been tutoring languages since 1988. I also have extensive German to English translating experience.

While this study was conducted in Barcelona, which is in northeastern Spain, and involved speakers of Spanish and Catalan (either language or both, to varying degrees of fluency), its conclusions may also be of interest to many Americans: those who were raised bilingual and those who have studied foreign languages. I know many people who speak two, three, four, and even more languages, and I've often wondered whether this skill might be helping to preserve their overall mental abilities as they age. I myself am now 74, and most of the multi-lingual people of my acquaintance here in Denver are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, so this question is of deep interest to all of us.

The conclusions of this study are definitely reassuring. Paraphrasing from the article:

It's obvious that we use language to communicate with others. It's our instrument for conveying our thoughts, identity, knowledge, and how we see and understand the world. Having a command of more than one language enriches us and offers a doorway to other cultures. But it also seems to provide neurological benefits and protects us against cognitive decline associated with aging. Using two or more languages throughout life could be a key factor in increasing cognitive reserve and delaying the onset of dementia. It also entails advantages of memory and executive functions.

(From Wikipedia: Executive functions are a set of cognitive processes that are necessary for the cognitive control of behavior: selecting and successfully monitoring behaviors that facilitate the attainment of chosen goals.)

The researchers found that the prevalence of dementia in areas where more than one language is spoken is 50% lower than in regions where the population uses only one language to communicate. The best results were observed in those individuals who actively used two languages throughout their lives vs. those who merely had a passive understanding of a second language. That is, using the sort of mental gymnastics involved in switching back and forth between two languages over a lifetime definitely helps delay mental decline in old age.

About the Author:

Leonore Dvorkin and her husband, the author David Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado, since 1971. As indicated above, Leonore has decades of experience as a student and teacher of several languages. (Since the start of the pandemic, she's been teaching languages via Skype.) She's also the author of four published books and dozens of articles. Up until March of this year and the start of the pandemic, she also taught weight training classes, beginning in 1976.

Together, David and Leonore run DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services, which they started in 2009. The majority of their many editing clients are blind or visually impaired. Their goal is to provide excellent, comprehensive services at very reasonable rates.

For more information about their books, articles, and various services, please visit any of their websites:

David Dvorkin:
Leonore Dvorkin:
DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services:


2. TECH CORNER: Two for One
by Stephen Théberge

As we enter the holiday season, it's customary to reflect on the past year. It's certainly understandable that most of us don't want to think about how horrible 2020 has been. I can empathize.

I have a friend who said, unknowingly, that 2020 would be the year of vision. Well, in hindsight, he would be happy to retract his half-joking manner when he said it. Although we have been physically distant, in some ways technology has made us even closer. I still look forward to actual rather than virtual contact.

We could easily call this the year of Zoom. If anything, I've probably talked to and met more people than I would have if there were no virus. I probably would not have gone to the Museum of Fine Arts at all, let alone take two virtual tours through Zoom. Perkins School for the Blind has had many virtual activities; they would not have had nearly as many of them normally. The whole landscape has changed. Even working from home, dreamt of by many for years, has become a dream come true. For some, it's a nightmare, especially for those with children. Even my remote training at the Carroll Center for the Blind seemed wonderful. Some instruction loses a lot of value when taught virtually. I probably would not have learned braille as well as I have if it weren't for the remote training. I got more lessons than I would have in person.

Whether we're working virtually, taking classes on Zoom, or just isolated at home, I have found, along with many others, that one must be self-motivated. When you have to be at work or class at a particular time, it seems easier when you actually have to leave your home. Staying indoors can get monotonous, and we have to find motivation from within.

You may be wondering why I chose the title "Two for One." Well, it seemed to me that talking about our virtual situation wouldn't result in a long enough article. Also, I didn't think I could produce a full-length article about David Dvorkin's newest book.

David Dvorkin's thirtieth book, Randolph Runner, was released on October 14 on Amazon. Having read some of his books before, and being a diehard science fiction fan, I immediately purchased and read it. I was far from disappointed.

In a nutshell, the story revolves around a person who works at the White House and is instrumental in helping a start-up robotics company come to the forefront. Firstly, the main character/protagonist utilizes the services of a robotic butler. The administration has its own plans for robots in the White House. A major plot twist, not totally unexpected, occurred in 2016, involving the president and a robot. I thought the twist was effective.

The satirical side of the story involving President Trump was at times comical. Having him take over and make the country basically a dictatorship was a logical twist. Having King Donald II after the year 2030 was a true satirical gem. Regardless of your political inclinations, there are many great aspects of Dvorkin's book, making it worth the read.

Dvorkin captures the essence of classic writers of robot science fiction stories. I think specifically of Isaac Asimov.

Randolph, the robot butler, may be the main character, but he could be viewed as a protagonist or antagonist, depending on how you view the role of robots in our lives. There is slightly more than a hint of dystopian fiction here as well. The ending was certainly surprising, but was true to classic science fiction form. Dvorkin also cleverly used satire of the Genesis creation story, which gave a nice, flavorful satirical bite.

Go here for full details about the book, with synopsis and cover image:

I hope you all will be safe and enjoy whatever holiday traditions you may observe. Let us hope we can meet again and go back to our old normal in 2021.

Follow me on Twitter at @speechfb
Read and post on my writer's blog:
Check out my coming of age science fiction novel The MetSche Message and its sequel The MetSche Maelstrom at
Watch my YouTube channel. Many blindness-related issues, and the latest Branco Broadcasts.


3. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: Maintaining Faith at the Crucial Moment
by James R. Campbell

There is no doubt that our nation and the world stand at a crucial point in history. All one has to do is turn on the news and listen to the drones and talking heads. Most of their best prognostications are filled with doom.

"The second wave of the pandemic is creating a surge in hospitalizations and deaths not seen since the pestilence began." "The election of 2020 is still undecided, even as more Republicans encourage President Trump to concede." "Protests and unrest continue in a number of cities across the US." "Another nationwide lockdown may be looming in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19."

It's enough to cause mass doubt among the population. Faith in our electoral process is waning, as accusations of mass voter fraud are rampant. The pestilence we are dealing with on a daily basis is getting worse by the hour, with no letup in sight. And the physician brother of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is urging that other countries receive the vaccine before elderly people in the United States. He is quoted as saying: "It is my opinion that life after 75 isn't worth living."

There are calls to defund law enforcement, and the concomitant drumbeat of gun control and disarming the average citizen can be heard from the leftwing members of the political establishment. The recent mass shootings are an excuse for those who want to disarm us to push their agenda at any cost.

Many are beginning to question what kind of future we'll have. Aunt Sue is among those.
She's losing faith in divine protection for this nation in light of a possible Biden/Harris administration. On the other hand, you have others who have faith that God will protect his own, regardless of a Democratic Socialist takeover of America on January 20, 2021.

For the purpose of this article, I am holding back on political commentary. Instead, the focus is on maintaining faith at the crucial moment. A lapse in faith is a weakness that we will regret later. An overturned cart in the middle of the road is a warning to the cart that follows after. Faith that is likened to flowing water will last for an eternity, while faith that is like fire will be extinguished at some point.

It's imperative for us to hold faith at this pivotal time. To do so is an absolute necessity if we are to survive as a nation at all. We can't allow the elections, the pandemic, or the wave of crime in the streets that will be unleashed in the face of weakened police departments to decide our fate. Each of us has a part to play.

The time has long passed for the powers that be to put aside their wrangling and put a platform together that has planks from the best of both sides. The Democrats have some good proposals, as do the Republicans. Let's strive to hold faith that the best days are ahead, even in this dark hour.

As always, thanks for your time.
With loving kindness,
James R. Campbell

Comments from the editor:
As of today, December 2, Joe Biden has won the popular vote by almost 7 million votes, 51.3% to 47% of the total, and he has won the Electoral College 306 to 232. Attorney General William Barr, a staunch Trump supporter, said yesterday that there is no evidence of any voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election. Thus it should be clear that the majority of the voting public believes that the Biden/Harris administration is far more likely to bring good changes than bad ones.    

I have just glanced over the multi-page platform of the Democratic Party for 2020. It includes admirable goals such as fighting the pandemic, combating the climate crisis, raising wages and protecting workers' rights, protecting the rights of the disabled, expanding mental health treatment, and much more.

For the January 2021 Consumer Vision, I'd like to go into more detail about the platform. I suspect that it will be both informative and heartening to many, whether or not they voted for Biden/Harris. And after all, more information is never a bad thing.  

-- Leonore Dvorkin


4. WEATHER OR NOT: The Tempests of Tomorrow, Part One
by Steve Roberts

Blockbuster Lows and Blockbuster Highs

Climate scientists tell us that as the world warms up, the nor'easters that develop will become stronger. How could this possibly happen? Actually, there are already ominous signs that point to a future of powerful nor'easters.

The Gulf Stream has been slowed down due to the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The slowing of the Gulf Stream has resulted in considerable warming of the waters of the western North Atlantic. These very warm waters run parallel to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

The very warm waters of the western North Atlantic release lots of heat and moisture into the overlying atmosphere. When heat or moisture is released into the atmosphere, the air is given lift. When heat and moisture are added to the air in combination, the air is given even greater lift. These very warm waters also serve as high octane fuel for the nor'easters that form out over them.

Over the last decade, we have seen a lot more North American winter dipoles. These dipoles feature a ridge in the west and a trough in the east. In a ridge, it's warm and dry; in a trough, it's typically cold and wet. Should a trough set up in the eastern United States, there would be very cold air from the poles to the Gulf Coast. This cold air would extend from the plains to the Atlantic Coast.

With the lee side of the jet stream trough access blowing parallel to the East Coast, the stage is set for the development of a huge nor'easter. The lee side of a trough access is where all the lift is. When one combines the lee side lift with the lift resulting from the very warm waters of the western North Atlantic, the sky's the limit for the vertical motion of air.

The lee side of the trough access is where all the action is. The trough access separates warm and cold air, since there is cold air in the trough and warm air in the neighboring ridge. The northerly winds blowing cold air into the trough and the southerly winds blowing warm air into the ridge help to establish the vorticity (rotation, in other words).

To demonstrate this principle, hold a pencil between your palms and move your hands back and forth. Notice that the pencil spins regardless of how your hands are moving in relation to one another. These oppositional air flows are referred to as "differential advection."

Finally, the temperature contrast helps to invigorate the winds at the jet stream level. These stronger winds help to evacuate the air out of the top of the intensifying tempest. With all of these elements in place, a truly great nor'easter can develop.

When Blocking Highs Meet Blockbuster Lows

Over the last decade or so, there has been an increase in the frequency of high over low blocking. High over low blocking occurs when an area of high pressure in the high latitudes blocks an area of low pressure to its south, causing that low to stall out. Scientists tell us that highs are becoming bigger, stronger, and more blocking.

Over the last 10 to 15 years, we've been seeing an increase in high latitude ridging up in central and eastern Canada, from Hudson's Bay to Atlantic Canada. These highs are also becoming bigger and stronger, with an increasing capacity to block storms. This has ominous implications for those of us living along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

As nor'easters have become stronger, so too have the highs that will one day block them. Sometime in the not too distant future, we will see a series of lengthy and violent standoffs in the atmosphere, as blockbuster lows stall due to persistent blocking high pressure.

A powerful nor'easter that moves progressively through the area may leave 12-20" of snow in its wake. Should that storm stall for 6-12 hours, you could be talking about 20-30" of snow.

A powerful nor'easter can produce winds of 50-60 mph. The pressure gradient resulting from its abutment with blocking high pressure could result in winds that are as high as 70-80 mph. The winds could be even higher than that if the pressure gradient is steeper.

If the blocking high to the north of the nor'easter has 1030 millibars, and the low to its south has 970 millibars, that would be a steep gradient, resulting in high winds. If the low had 950 millibars and the high had 1050 millibars, that would be an even steeper gradient, resulting in much higher winds. In the next 10-15 years, we may see a string of nor'easters that stall for days because of persistent blocking high pressure to their north.

Note: Stephen P. Roberts is the author of the nonfiction book The Whys and Whats of Weather (2014) and a weather-related novel, The Great Winter Hurricane (C 2015). For full details, see his author website:



A. Time and the Soldier
A science fiction novel by David Dvorkin / C 2011
Now in paperback, e-book, and hardcover / 391 pages in print
Full details, cover image, and direct buying links:

Short synopsis, with a longer one on the Web page linked to above:

During World War Two, in 1945, two men and one woman are selected by a secret organization named Tempus to be time travelers. Tommy Stillwell, Ellen Maxwell, and Frank Anderson will be sent forward to different points in the future. Tempus is sure that one of them will find a futuristic superweapon that, when brought back, will end the ongoing war and prevent any future wars. However, while Tempus can send people forward, it has not been able to reverse the process. In addition to weapons, the time travelers will have to find a way back. In the dangerous 21st century, time changes them, and they change time and history. War, death, and love are the only constants.

Cover images: In the upper left-hand corner is a small black and white photo of a U.S. soldier in WW II uniform, M1 rifle in his right hand, charging forward determinedly. The larger picture, in full color, shows an imaginary space station orbiting the Earth. Against the black background of space, the author's name is in red in the upper right-hand corner of the cover, and the large title letters are in white in the center. The cover design is by the author.

Note: David Dvorkin is the author of 30 published books in numerous genres: science fiction, horror, mystery, nonfiction, and more. IngramSpark is now issuing many of his books in hardcover. Time and the Soldier is just one of them. His most recent science fiction novel, a satire featuring U.S. politics and robots and set in the near future, is Randolph Runner. It is also now out in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Details:
A review of Randolph Runner by Steve Théberge appears above in section #2, Tech Corner.

B. Lessons in Love: A Poetic Autobiography
by Penny Fleckenstein / C 2020
In e-book ($3.99) and print ($8.50) on Amazon, Smashwords, and other bookselling sites
151 pages in print
Cover image, author bio, free text sample, and buying links:

The 72 poems in this book cover many types of love: for the author's three guide dogs, for her six children, for her parents and grandparents, for God and nature, for her many friends, and in a handful of light-hearted selections, for food.

The many romantic poems express love for both real people and dream lovers, for ideals yet unattained. One of the most humorous poems, "Beautiful Music," which is cleverly composed primarily of song titles, appears in this section.

The introductory paragraphs that appear before many of the poems are an unusual and moving feature. Most of them introduce the people described in the following poems; they provide a rich background, fleshing out the characters. Others tell more about the author's life, from babyhood on, their spare words providing a brief but poignant autobiography. The reader is left hoping that someday the author might choose to write more fully on these very personal subjects.

Penny Fleckenstein was born in Thailand, totally blind from birth. She has raised four stepchildren and six biological children. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her three sons and her guide dog, Bryanna. Lessons in Love is her first published book.


by Terri Winaught

Hello, Consumer Vision readers.

Again, I must apologize for having missed you last month! As I've said previously, I had so much to say that I just didn't know where to start, so I'm glad I was able to get it together for this month.

Since I'm writing this column the day before American Thanksgiving (the date is different in Canada), I want to start by wishing everyone a joyous Thanksgiving, despite so many families having to get together on Zoom or a similar platform due to the ever-increasing incidence and prevalence of COVID-19. If any of you would be comfortable sharing, I would love to hear about your Thanksgiving, even though they wouldn't be in time for publication until January 2021. Regarding Thanksgiving, did you celebrate in person while maintaining physical distancing of six feet apart, wear masks except while eating or drinking, and keep frequently touched surfaces sanitized? Or was it instead over Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or WhatsApp?

Moving on to COVID-19, I hope that none of you have tested positive for that virulent virus. If you have, I hope you're well on your way to recovery. Even more, I hope that none of your loved ones have died from the coronavirus. If any of you have experienced the loss of loved ones, you have my compassionate condolences and the hope that they are resting in peace. (I am also aware from statistics cited on national news programs and TV shows like "Matter of Fact" that African-Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans have been even harder hit by the coronavirus than their white counterparts.)

The final news item on which I'd like to comment is the American presidential election. Specifically, I know that it's never easy to lose. In fact, it really, really hurts! In addition, I also don't doubt that elections can be-and perhaps sometimes have been-fraudulent. All of that being said, although I tried to empathize with President Trump, I still felt both disappointment and anger that the leader of a world superpower would act the way he did. Therefore I couldn't be more relieved that, for the good of America, our president, while still not conceding, is allowing the transition to move forward.

Although I didn't vote for President Trump and won't if he runs again in 2024, I still give him credit for Operation Warp Speed, which has enabled COVID vaccines to be researched and developed with lightning speed. I also give him credit for economic initiatives like Opportunity Zones in African-American communities and funding for historically Black colleges and universities. If only our President treated people better by not engaging in bullying behaviors, and if he promoted better relationships with our allies, I might have voted for him, but I'm so happy that Joe Biden is our president-elect that I'm going to contact our local Democratic Committee to see how I can contact Mr. Biden's transition committee to ask if I might have the honor of singing the National Anthem at his inauguration.

I wish nothing but the best for all of you; take care, and God bless.
Terri Winaught, saying, "Thanks for reading with me."

Note: Terri has a special place in Penny Fleckenstein's new book of poetry and short essays, Lessons in Love, which is summarized above, in Authors' Corner. That is, on page 38 of that book, there is a paragraph about Terri called "A Mother's Love." Following that is a moving poem composed by Penny and Terri called "An Expression of Overflowing Love."  


7. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)
by Penny Fleckenstein
Who blogs at:

I'm here to announce that I've had the Blaze Pizza experience. Wow! How amazing it is. And tasty!

It was Thursday evening, and Isaac saw an email about Blaze Pizza doing a fundraiser for Zachary's school. For $9 if you order the classic crust, $12 if you order any other crust, you build your own six-slice pizza. I ate three slices for dinner the first day and had the other three the next day. Blaze Pizza is built on the Chipotle concept of building your own burrito. With Blaze, you build your own pizza. They have different cheeses, one of them a vegan cheese, sauces, meats, including vegan chorizo, vegetables, and additions. I ordered a classic crust with pesto, shredded mozzarella, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, spinach, and artichoke hearts. The pizzas are baked in a brick oven and ready in about five minutes.

Another pleasant surprise was seeing vegetarian options at Target. For just a few more cents than Walmart, and cheaper than these same items in grocery stores, I can buy Morningstar Farms, Gardein, and products from other companies that make meatless products. Target is nearer to my house than Walmart.

On Thanksgiving Day, after we ate our dinner, Isaac, Zachary, and I played Apples to Apples Junior, Zooreka for ages eight to adult, and Quelf. All three are good family games. It was the first time we'd played Quelf, a board game that had us do funny things. For example, we drew a card that told us to select a term of endearment for each player. From then on, Zachary was Baby Cakes, Isaac was Sweetie Pie, and I was Good Thai Mom. When a player forgot to use the term of endearment instead of the name, he or she had to move back two spaces. There was even a time when Zachary drew a card that told him to pretend he had no arms for the rest of the game. He was disappointed when he had to get off his phone. Quelf is very entertaining and hilarious. You need at least three people to play, as well as sighted assistance.

Besides Think 'N Sync, which has been our favorite game since Christmas, Isaac introduced us to an electronic game named Catch Phrase. A player selects a category, and a phrase comes up on the screen. The player has to describe the item without saying what it is. When I was told "$10 bill," I said, "Alexander Hamilton." The player keeps giving clues until the other players guess what the item is. You see how many you can guess in one minute.

The games that I've listed I've had to play with sighted assistance or braille myself. There aren't that many games available to the blind. I do play with my new braille cards I bought on Amazon. They're in a metal box. When I'm playing solitaire, I use the metal box to hold my pile of cards upright so the plastic cards don't slide all over the place.

Also this month, Joyce Driben told me about a tech company called AT Guys (phone 269-216-4798,, where she bought an iPhone case with braille dots that help your fingers line up with the QWERTY keyboard. She says it helps her, but she needs to use a very light touch. She also bought her Bluetooth headset from there. I asked Zachary's dad, Irwin, if he had bought anything from AT Guys. He really likes a book he bought for $25 titled iOS Access for All, by Shelly Brisbin. Joyce also recommended Guidelights and Gadgets (phone 617-969-7500, They carry technology and dog items. She says they're very helpful and will talk on the phone with you to help you select the items that best suit you.

I hope I've been able to help you with some of your Christmas shopping. Merry Christmas, and have a very happy New Year.


by Karen Crowder

When December arrives, so does winter, with cold and snow. The holiday season is here. Homes and apartments are decorated for Christmas and Hanukkah. In 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, everyone is encouraged to have smaller celebrations. Many families are planning to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah virtually via Zoom. December has three special days. Hanukkah begins Thursday evening, December 10, and ends Thursday evening, December 18. Winter begins Monday, December 21. Christmas is on Friday, December 25. Every holiday season is a time for kindness, charity, and celebrations with our families and friends.

The cookie and coffee cake recipes below are repeats, appropriate for the holidays.

Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Creamed Haddock with Crabmeat Topping
Birds-Nest Cookies

A. Cinnamon Coffee Cake

This is one I often make during the holidays. It's from A Leaf from Our Table, a two-volume braille book that's now out of print. The original name is "Plain Coffee Cake." I've added more cinnamon, milk, butter, and light brown sugar.


For the cake:
Six tablespoons butter
Six tablespoons granulated sugar
Two eggs
One and one-fourth cup milk
Two cups all-purpose flour
Two teaspoons baking powder
One teaspoon baking soda
One-fourth teaspoon salt
Two teaspoons cinnamon

For the streusel topping:
One and one-fourth sticks butter
Three-fourths cup light brown sugar
One-fourth cup flour
Three teaspoons cinnamon


1. Put three-fourths stick of butter in large mixing bowl. Add six tablespoons of granulated sugar. Allow butter to soften for 30 minutes.
2. Blend sugar and butter together with a fork in a separate plastic bowl. Measure flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add room-temperature eggs to the butter-sugar mixture and blend for one minute with a wooden spoon. Whisk dry ingredients for one minute and add to egg-butter-sugar mixture. Add milk and blend cake batter for two minutes.
3. Streusel topping: Put one stick brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in smaller mixing bowl. Blend these ingredients with clean hands.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a parchment paper-lined round, 9-inch cake pan. Add a little flour so cake will not stick to the pan. With a one-half cup measure, measure half of batter into cake pan. Microwave one-fourth stick of butter in a small bowl for 3-4 seconds. Put a little melted butter on cake. Add half of the streusel topping.
5. Add the rest of the batter, spreading it over entire pan with a sandwich spreader or spatula. Add the rest of the melted butter and streusel topping. Be sure it's scattered across the entire cake. Bake coffee cake for 45 minutes.
6. Cool cake in pan on counter for one hour. Invert cake onto parchment-lined dinner plate. If you're not serving it right away, cover it with plastic wrap and foil, refrigerating it overnight.

You can serve this hot with butter or cool. It's delicious any time, but especially during the Christmas or Easter holidays.

B. Creamed Haddock with Crabmeat Topping

After Election Day 2020, my friend Claire and I had lunch at a local restaurant. They had a new dish, haddock with crabmeat topping. It was good. I hope it remains on their menu. My recipe came out well, making two to three meals. It's a fantastic dish on Christmas Day with mashed potatoes, salad, and hot rolls.


One and one-half pound haddock
Four tablespoons butter
Four tablespoons flour
One and three-fourths cup milk
One-fourth cup light or heavy cream
Dashes of curry powder, dried chives, salt, and optional garlic powder
One six-ounce can crabmeat
Six Ritz crackers
One-fourth stick butter
One very small minced onion
Dashes of curry powder
Lemon juice for the pan


1. In a double boiler or 4-quart saucepan, melt butter. After five minutes, add flour and blend for one minute with wire whisk. Add milk and blend again. Stir infrequently for 25 minutes. Add cream and spices, stirring again. After 5 to 10 minutes, turn off heat.
2. Rinse haddock and place in five-quart casserole dish or 7" x 11" oblong Pyrex pan. Put a little butter and lemon juice on the bottom of the pan before adding the haddock. Add cream sauce.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix drained crabmeat with Ritz crackers, butter, and minced onion and spices. Dot top of haddock with crabmeat mixture.
4. Bake fish for 40 minutes. While this is cooking, prepare mashed potatoes and salad and heat the rolls.

With a hungry family, this dish will disappear in one or two days.

C. Birds-Nest Cookies

Marcy Segalman kindly gave me this recipe for Hanukkah in 2016. It's also good for Christmas.


One-half cup cream
One stick unsalted butter, softened
One egg yolk
One-half teaspoon vanilla
One egg white
Jam of your choice
One-fourth cup Imperial light brown sugar
One cup sifted all-purpose flour
One-fourth teaspoon salt
One cup chopped pecans, peanuts, or walnuts


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix cream, butter, and brown sugar by hand or with a mixer.
3. Add egg yolk and beat until light. Blend in flour, salt, and vanilla.
4. Form dough into walnut-size rounds. Dip in slightly beaten egg white. Roll in nuts.
5. Place on cookie sheet and make depressions with the back of a spoon. Bake 8 minutes.
6. Remove cookies from oven. Carefully press down. Cool for 20 minutes and add favorite jam.

You can make the cookies without nuts. Put a dusting of confectioner's sugar on the cookies. Marcy tells me this is an old recipe and one of her favorites.

I wish all Consumer Vision readers and listeners happy, healthy, and blessed holidays. Let us hope 2021 will bring us hope, happiness, and better health.


by Terri Winaught

Hello, Consumer Vision readers.

At the beginning of this century, mental health treatment began to change from a medical model that stressed being taken care of and being compliant to a wellness and recovery-oriented model, based on the premise that recovery was possible even from severe mental illness (or SMI, as Peer Support professionals sometimes call it). Along with recovery-oriented, trauma-informed, and person-centered services came the recognition of persons with lived experience as Certified Peer Specialists and Peer Support Professionals. As this transition advanced, many state psychiatric hospitals closed, and former patients were able to live in the community with a variety of supports.

One such support in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, where Pittsburgh is located, is a Warmline. A Warmline is a telephone support service staffed by trained individuals with lived experience of mental health recovery, recovery from a substance use disorder, or both. One of the funding sources for our Warmline is reinvestment funds that are available as a result of hospital closures.

If you will be alone during the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa holiday and just need to talk to someone, call the Allegheny County Warmline toll-free at 1-866-661-9276. Those last four numbers spell the word WARM.

Take care, and never be afraid to ask for help.



Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the November Consumer Vision. The Pilgrims arrived in America in 1620. Congratulations to the following winners:

Roanna Bacchus of Oviedo, Florida
Daryl Darnell of Urbana, Illinois
Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana
Jo Smith of West Dennis, Massachusetts

And now, here is your trivia question for the December Consumer Vision. Who wrote the song "White Christmas?" If you know the answer, please email or call 508-994-4972.

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