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: The Benefits of Dark Chocolate *** by Leonore Dvorkin
2. TECH CORNER: Will Domino’s Fall? *** by Stephen Théberge
3. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: A Different Perspective *** by James R. Campbell
4. ARE MASKS BECOMING A FAD? MORE EVIDENCE *** by Bob Branco
5. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: It Only Took 100 Years; 5 Women Broadcast Major League Baseball Game *** by Don Wardlow
6. THE TRIFECTA OF TROPICAL TROUBLE: Part II *** by Steve Roberts
7. SPECIAL NOTICE *** from Bob Branco, Publisher
8. THINKING INCLUSION ** by Peter Altschul
9. WHO IS REALLY EMPOWERING CANCEL CULTURE? *** by Bob Branco
10. AUTHORS’ CORNER
11. EQUALITY RULES *** by Peter Altschul, MS
12. TERRI’S TIDBITS *** by Terri Winaught
13. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
14. THE DATING GAME *** by Peter Altschul
15. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
1. HEALTH MATTERS: The Benefits of Dark Chocolate
by Leonore Dvorkin
I welcome comments on any of my articles.
Last month, in the July 2021 issue of Consumer Vision, I reported on my recent heart concerns and how I wore a heart monitor for a week. I’m happy to say that it showed no arrhythmia or other problems, but the blood test that was done showed that my vitamin B12 level was 10 times what it should be. The doctor also advised me to cut down on vitamin D supplements. So my new regime includes fewer supplements, more aerobic exercise, more plain water, working toward gradual weight loss, and the addition of small amounts of very dark chocolate to my diet, as that is supposed to help the heart. It’s also an effective appetite suppressant.
Every day, I’m now eating very small amounts of bar chocolate that is non-alkalized (that is, not Dutch processed) and that contains at least 72% cocoa, plus about 1 tablespoon per day of plain, unsweetened cocoa powder. I add the cocoa powder to a morning smoothie that contains whey powder, collagen powder, and several other ingredients, all with no sugar.
Non-alkalized chocolate provides more phytonutrients. Two good brands of non-alkalized bar chocolate are Ghirardelli and Endangered Species. The latter company sells many flavors of chocolate that are 72% cocoa and darker, and it really does help endangered animals. For the cocoa powder, we are currently using a brand we found online, Anthony’s Organic Cocoa Powder. Ghirardelli also makes plain cocoa powder. It will take us quite a while to use up the Anthony’s cocoa, as we don’t bake, but when we do use this up, we’ll compare prices and tastes.
Online, you can find numerous articles about the benefits of dark chocolate. Below, I have summarized three of them.
One article is called “7 Proven Benefits of Dark Chocolate,” by Kris Gunnars, B.S., June 25, 2018, on a site called Healthline.com. What the article says, in brief:
1. Dark chocolate contains fiber and numerous minerals, including iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, and more.
2. It is a powerful source of antioxidants, comparing favorably even to blueberries.
3. It may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
4. It raises HDL, the good cholesterol, and lowers LDL, the bad cholesterol.
5. It may reduce the risk of heart disease. In studies, the most benefits were seen in subjects who ate some dark chocolate at least five times a week.
6. It may help protect the skin from sun damage. This effect is from the flavonols in the chocolate.
7. It could improve brain function. (More on that below.)
A second article that I read is called “14 Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate,” published March 12, 2017 on a site called AlterNet. The author’s name was not given. Compared to the article cited above, this second one mentioned some additional benefits or simply gave more details. Here are its most noteworthy points.
1. Dark chocolate can help prevent depression.
2. It can help prevent cardiovascular disease.
3. It can help against diabetes by bolstering insulin resistance.
4. It can help prevent stroke.
5. The theobromine in it can help control coughs, sometimes better than over-the-counter cough syrups.
6. It can help in pregnancy. It improves fetal growth and reduces the risk of preeclampsia by lowering blood pressure.
7. Its benefits for the brain include improved cognitive processing, abstract reasoning, and working memory. In studies, all types of intelligence were increased by chocolate consumption, along with spoken word recall. It also helps with doing mental math.
8. It can boost your immune system.
A much shorter piece I looked at, one by Lainey Younkin, a Boston-based weight loss dietician, recommends adding plain cocoa powder to your daily diet by adding it to smoothies or oatmeal. She says that the cocoa can lead to positive changes in the gut that can increase fat burn and suppress appetite. She says to have a little in the morning to help control cravings later in the day.
I should note that there are many online articles that express skepticism regarding these purported effects. Also, note how often words like “could” and “may” are used in the above lists of benefits. However, after a little over two weeks of eating some chocolate every day, I’m noticing many of the benefits listed above. It’s certainly an effective appetite suppressant, leading me to reduce my consumption of starchy carbs such as bread, crackers, and chips. I’m mildly diabetic and need to lose at least 15 pounds, so such a change in my diet is much needed. I’ve also noticed improved mood, better concentration, and more motivation. Time will tell whether the chocolate consumption is going to result in improved blood numbers for me. I’ll have another blood test in October.
Every article I’ve looked at stresses that the darker the chocolate is, the better it is for you, and plain, unsweetened cocoa powder is the best. That last is not something you can just spoon down your throat, but it mixes fine in any type of smoothie, yogurt, or hot cereal. If you need any sweetener, just use a bit of stevia.
If you’re not currently a fan of dark chocolate, I would say to start with a bar in the 55% or 60% cocoa range and work your way up from there until you are used to chocolate in the 80% cocoa range or above. But remember that anything of 70% cocoa or above is good. Also, if you’re using one tablespoon of cocoa powder per day as well, you’ll probably find a couple of squares of bar chocolate per day to be plenty. If it’s not very sweet at all, you may well be surprised at how un-tempting it is compared to milk chocolate.
To be sure, chocolate is not for everyone. But if you like it and can eat it with no bad reactions, I hope you’re encouraged by what I’ve written above. I wish all of you improved health!
About the Author
Leonore H. Dvorkin and her husband, the author David Dvorkin, have been married since 1968 and have lived in Denver, Colorado, since 1971. Leonore teaches exercise classes and tutors four languages. David previously worked as an aerospace engineer (including working on the Apollo program), computer programmer, and technical writer. Both of them are published authors, with many books and articles to their credit. David has 30 published books, and Leonore has four. Both of them write fiction and nonfiction.
Together, they run DLD Books Editing and Self-Publishing Services. They do all the work required to prepare books for self-publication with Amazon and Smashwords in paperback and e-book formats: thorough editing, expert formatting, cover design, and more. Since 2009, they have worked on close to 100 books of many different types and lengths. The large majority of their clients are blind or visually impaired. Their aim is to offer comprehensive, excellent service at very reasonable rates.
You have no doubt noticed that this newsletter frequently contains information about the most recent book or books produced by DLD Books, and it does this month as well. See Authors’ Corner.
David and Leonore invite you to visit their websites for much more information about their publications and any of their services. If you are interested in their editing and book preparation services, they kindly request that you read the information on the DLD Books website before contacting them, as it answers many of the most frequently asked questions.
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. TECH CORNER: Will Domino’s Fall?
by Stephen Théberge
As we have just celebrated the 31st anniversary of the ADA, I thought this would be valuable. In January of 2019, the United States Supreme Court refused to rule on a previous case brought against Domino’s Pizza by a blind man. The case went all the way to the U.S. District 9 Court. This decision not to hear the case was and still is hailed as a great victory for disability lawyers and advocates.
Lainey Feingold, a leading attorney and advocate for the disability community, shared her opinions of this case online. She received a lot of negative comments from people who were not versed in the issues of accessibility. I will try to address the main points of her post.
The blind man in question sued Domino’s, alleging that their website was inaccessible to the blind. Domino’s rebutted, saying that this particular person often used the telephone to place orders and therefore could have done so. They claimed, among other things, that calling via telephone was equivalent to website access.
In 1996, the Department of Justice stated that websites should fall under public accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title III, even though there is no specific mention of websites in the ADA. Most courts have set a precedent upholding this idea. Title III specified public places such as theaters, restaurants, schools, and the like. Since the ADA was in its infancy in 1990, there was not much insight into how the internet would explode.
Many people assumed that this ruling meant that Domino’s would have to develop separate websites for the deaf, blind, and those with any other disability. This is simply not true.
Another ridiculous assumption people made was that Domino’s Pizza would have to hire blind drivers. In fact, there are provisions in the ADA that clearly state that if an accommodation would impact the safety of said individual, it could not be reasonably granted. Most people are unaware of how the ADA works.
Since Domino’s refused to comply or settle the lawsuit, they do have the option to continue defending their case in court, although it would be much cheaper to make their website and app accessible and work with disability advocates and the community to do so. However, they can now argue any facets of the case and hope a court will side with them. It seems unlikely, as most courts are siding with plaintiffs with disabilities.
Another thing in civil rights cases — and litigations such as this fall in that category — is that the plaintiff, the person bringing the case, in this case the blind man, has the burden of paying court costs, lawyers, and other expenses. In these cases, the concept of fee-shifting is utilized. If the man wins the case against Domino’s Pizza, then they will be responsible for all costs.
Feingold clearly states that litigation is a very important piece of the disability community gaining its rights. She acknowledges that there are some unscrupulous lawyers who are not advancing the cause but are merely in it for financial gain. Also, in cases like these, very little is done to ensure that the company that has paid the penalty is really complying and making their technology accessible. I can speak from experience. One law firm was not interested in real discussions of how a website or app could be improved. They simply wanted me to basically agree with an automated report generated by software stating problems with a website. Indeed, technically, I would not have to confirm the issues and could sign the complaint against said company. The lawyer’s firm would get, say, $18,000, and I’d get $1,000 for not more than three hours’ work, assuming I even put time into it. This practice makes companies leery about compliance and makes people with disabilities look very bad. I reiterate that Lainey Feingold finds legal action to be a powerful tool, and we should not abandon it because of the few bad apples and because these bad actors are not just working in the disability field.
It’s good to know that, because the Supreme Court refused to rule on the Domino’s case in 2019, the Americans with Disabilities Act is still the law of the land. On the other hand, it leaves open the possibility that Domino’s could successfully argue the case in a lower court and overturn the District 9 court’s decision that they were in violation of the ADA. That seems unlikely given other rulings by other courts and the DOJ’s opinion that a website falls within its scope. As usual, we must be vigilant and always be up on the latest developments in rulings regarding accessibility of all kinds. I’m hopeful that with responsible litigation, structured negotiation, and especially education, we will make things much more accessible in the future.
Refer to this link for the source of this article:
Have a good rest of the summer. If you watch the Olympics, be consoled that they are audio described for the blind.
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.
3. COMMENTARY AFTERMATH: A Different Perspective
by James R. Campbell
Note: The opinions expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not reflect the musings of anyone else.
July 20, 2021 was a significant day in history. In the small West Texas community of van Horn, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and three other passengers were launched beyond the boundaries of Earth for the second of two groundbreaking flights. The trip aboard Sheppard One, the capsule that Bezos designed and paid for with his own money, came one week after British knight Sir Richard Branson made a similar voyage.
The passengers onboard the capsule spent roughly three minutes in the weightlessness that lies outside the earth’s atmosphere before returning to the launch site.
The Amazon founder and CEO was six years old when the Apollo 11 spaceship landed on the moon, 52 years to the day before Sheppard One’s brief, historic venture.
Like billions of others worldwide, I watched the launch and reentry. The excitement that the new astronauts felt was palpable. Many prayers ascended into the heavens with the travelers who soared their way into the history books.
I could hear the exhilaration in the voices of the reporters who were covering the launch. Yesterday will be remembered for all eternity. I was happy that the venture was a shining success.
For me, the excitement was tempered with caution. As it has been from the beginning, space flight has its dangers. Who can forget the disaster with Apollo 13? I was fifteen years old when that happened, and most of the students at the Texas School for the Blind in Austin prayed for the crew’s safe return. We were elated when the capsule touched down.
Others haven’t been so fortunate. The Challenger disaster of 1986 and the Columbia mishap of 2003 claimed 14 lives in total. The Challenger explosion was especially bad because a teacher was on board. The subsequent investigation was a slap in the face for NASA in light of what was revealed.
The company that made the rocket boosters voiced their concerns about the poor conditions on the day of the launch. Those concerns were well-founded. Ice formed on the O-rings that sealed the fuel in the tanks, creating the chain of events that led to the tragedy. Deaf to protests, NASA went ahead with the mission. Many believe that the teacher–in–space program had a great deal to do with the rush on that day. I feel that it was a contributing factor.
The question that I keep asking is this: Is the potential loss of life worth the risk? There are those who say yes. It is their view that science has the greatest chance for progress in the environment that only space can provide. And many, my oldest niece included, believe that we will be living on other planets. This is the stuff of science fiction, Lost in Space, and The Outer Limits.
I don’t see how man could possibly live on Mars. Yet, it is the goal of the space program proponents that we should be on our way there by 2024.
We have too many issues right here on Planet Earth to deal with. If we have learned anything from the pandemic, the virus will be with us from now on, requiring the development of new vaccines every year. How much will that cost? And we can’t leave out better treatment for brain health issues, ending homelessness, or providing technology that will aid the blind who live at home and are unemployed in their ongoing struggle to participate in society. Nobody has to agree with me; I am merely throwing this out as food for thought. If even one person thinks about it, my job is done, and will be worth the effort.
As always, thanks for your time.
With loving kindness,
James R. Campbell
There are two factual errors in this essay that, while not affecting the author’s conclusions about the value of the space achievements he discusses, should be corrected for the record and for informational purposes.
First, weightlessness is not found outside Earth’s atmosphere. The Earth’s gravity extends, in theory, to the ends of the universe. In practical terms, it’s still strong enough at a distance of 240,000 miles to keep the moon in orbit around us. The weightlessness these adventurers experienced was due to the trajectories they followed. You can experience the same weightlessness right here on Earth for a brief moment by jumping off a tall building; this is obviously not advisable.
Second, it’s not entirely correct that the contractor, Morton Thiokol, warned against launching the shuttle Challenger but NASA insisted on going ahead with the launch. There were engineers both in Morton Thiokol and NASA who feared the O-rings would give way because of the cold. Managers at Morton Thiokol and NASA were against delaying the launch. It wasn’t a case of contractor vs. government agency but rather of engineers vs. managers (political creatures). In such cases, power always lies with the managers.
—David Dvorkin, former NASA engineer
4. ARE MASKS BECOMING A FAD? MORE EVIDENCE
by Bob Branco
June 24, 2021
We know why we all had to wear masks during the pandemic, so I won’t go into it right now. With that said, some people have taken mask wearing to another level, as if wearing a mask is a fad. A friend of mine wants to put her mask back on next winter in order to keep her face warm. I don’t think she, or anyone else, ever thought of doing such a thing before the virus. However, here we are. People want to make other uses of masks.
Yesterday, I learned on a syndicated talk show that a woman from California wants to keep her mask on because she is afraid of showing her naked face. I don’t know the woman, so I am not about to challenge what she said. However, I am compelled to ask this question. Was she afraid to show her naked face before the mask mandate? I doubt very much that she was walking around the state of California with a mask on her face before Covid. Nevertheless, she wants to continue wearing it. Howie Carr, the talk show host, suggested that she should wear mittens in hot weather, in case she’s afraid of showing her naked hands. If you know Howie Carr, you are probably not surprised by what he said.
In all seriousness, what are some people doing? Did they develop a dependency on masks during the pandemic, even though most of us don’t have to wear them anymore unless businesses continue to mandate them?
In my city, I still have to wear a mask on the bus and at the doctor’s office, even though the state of emergency in Massachusetts was lifted on June 15. When it’s time for me to take my mask off for good, I will be proud to show my naked face and smile at anyone who wants to look at me. It’s hard to share your smile with others if your face is covered. Imagine spending 15 months without people smiling at you because you can’t see the smile! Even though I’m blind, I can only imagine how depressing that can be if I really think about it.
As I sighted person, I can say that yes, it is somewhat depressing to not be able to see people’s whole faces and smiles if we are wearing masks. However, there are very good reasons to continue to wear masks in public. Here are some of them. Most urgently, they are needed to help protect ourselves and others against the rapidly spreading Delta variant of the COVID pandemic. Mask-wearing helped to bring about a huge reduction in colds and cases of the flu last winter. A mask can help protect your face from cold or from strong sun. (I need and appreciate both of those.) A mask can help protect you from polluted air, which millions in the U.S. are dealing with now due to rampant forest fires. In many Asian cultures, wearing masks in public was common long before the pandemic; it’s turning out that they had the right idea, as it’s a significant help toward better health. Last but not least, you can always give a friendly nod, smile behind your mask (which shows in the crinkles around your eyes), and just say hello if you want to greet someone on the street or elsewhere.
5. A WORD ABOUT SPORTS: It Only Took 100 Years; 5 Women Broadcast Major League Baseball Game
by Don Wardlow
The longer you are a baseball fan, the more you discover how slowly the game adopts changes, especially positive changes. One hundred years ago, on August 5, 1921, the first baseball game was broadcast on KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh. Regular broadcasts began in Chicago in 1924. Why did it take another 15 years for New York, the baseball capital of the world, to present its first broadcast, when the Dodgers took the air in 1939? Why did it take until July 20, 2021 for a broadcast to be anchored entirely by women?
Very slow change is nothing new in baseball. It took half a century to rid the sport of the influence of gamblers. That happened when Judge Landis became the game’s Commissioner in 1921. It took until 1947 for the first black player, Jackie Robinson, to make the majors, and another dozen years until the Red Sox became the last team to integrate. While Latin American players were allowed, it took decades for teams to understand the need for these players to either learn English or have interpreters.
Nowhere has change been slower to come by than in the broadcast booth. Bill White of the Yankees became the first black play-by-play broadcaster in 1971. Like White, most black broadcasters since then have been former players. In a culture where women weren’t welcome in the team’s locker rooms, very few people considered allowing a woman behind the microphone. The earliest to consider it was the White Sox owner Bill Veeck, who brought Mary Shane into the broadcast booth in 1977. Anything she tried to say was shouted down by the regular broadcasters, Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall. Shane was gone in a year. The Yankees’ Suzyn Waldman was an exemplary beat writer who dared to try the TV booth and drew death threats for it. She covered a handful of TV games in the 1990s and became John Sterling’s permanent sidekick on radio in 2005. Unlike Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s sidekick who saved the Masked Man from himself more often than not, Waldman isn’t allowed to prevent Sterling from running Yankee broadcasts off a cliff. He has told her not to correct him on anything he says.
In the minors, there were two women broadcasters in 2017, then four in 2018, and six a year later. At that level, there’s usually just one person in a booth, but if there are two, one will be a man.
Fast forward to July 20 of this year, and all five on-air slots were filled by women as the Tampa Bay Rays hosted the Orioles. Lauren Gardner and Heidi Watney handled the pre- and postgame. Melanie Newman (one of the Orioles’ regular radio voices) did play-by-play, while Sarah Langs did color commentary. The game aired on YouTube and is part of their permanent archive, so anybody with a computer can run it at any time. The game itself was secondary to the brilliant job the broadcasters did covering it. For a blind person like me to say anything positive about a TV broadcast, it has to be good. The Rays dominated the visiting Orioles 9-3 before just over 10,000 fans. The Rays broke on top with two in the first. The Orioles cut the lead in half with a run in the second. The home team put up one in the third and two more on a Francisco Mejia home run to make it 5-1 Rays. The score didn’t change until the 8th, when the O’s put up a pair and the Rays scored four of their own, three driven home on a triple by Mejia. Other than the broadcasters, he was the star of the night. Alana Rizzo, who was the sideline reporter, speaks Spanish and conducted the postgame interview with the star of the game.
As the old Virginia Slims cigarette ad said, “You’ve come a long way, baby.” When I was a boy, Mom knew nothing about sports and said that was normal. When a radio man said the Mets were two games under .500, she said, “I didn’t know they had played 500 games already.” The sad part is, she wasn’t joking. I heard a woman broadcasting basketball on the Rutgers radio station. As good as I thought she was, she was laughed off the air by the male broadcasters. I heard no women on my college radio station and just one on a radio station while I was broadcasting minor league baseball. I left the game at the end of the 2002 season. As a fan, I’ve suffered through a lot of bad changes: the present 7-inning doubleheader games, the “ghost runner” during extra innings, and the demolition of 40 minor league teams. Very little change I’ve seen has been good. What happened in St. Petersburg on July 20 of this year is the exception, though it shouldn’t be. In the future, I hope to hear more blacks, Latins, or Asians in minor league baseball broadcast booths, which are still almost 100% white. And I hope to hear more women at the minor and major league levels. It’s time for some men, especially the ones who act like they don’t want to be in the booth, to move aside for women who want to do the job and do it right.
6. THE TRIFECTA OF TROPICAL TROUBLE: Part II
by Steve Roberts
Stronger Hurricanes and Sea Level Rise
Stronger Hurricanes Mean Bigger Storm Surges
The stronger a hurricane is, the greater its storm surge will be. A Category 1 hurricane will produce a four- to five-foot storm surge. Take that hurricane to Category 2, and its storm surge increases to five to eight feet. Though these numbers are a rough guide to a hurricane’s storm surge, the general idea still holds.
A storm surge is a sustained increase in the sea level beneath and just ahead of a land-falling hurricane. A storm surge is often described as a dome of sea water in association with a hurricane. The waves travelling on top of the storm surge hammer away at structures built along the shore.
As hurricanes become stronger, their storm surges will become bigger. As storm surges become bigger, they will penetrate farther inland, threatening more people and property. The houses that are inundated by Category 4 and 5 hurricanes today will be inundated to an even greater extent during the stronger hurricanes of our warming world. Even if sea level did not rise, the stronger hurricanes of our warming world would produce bigger and more impactful storm surges that penetrate farther inland.
Stronger Hurricanes and Sea Level Rise
As the ice sheets melt, the sea levels will rise. The melting of ice sheets at both poles contributes to sea level rise in two ways. First, the melting ice releases lots of water into the world’s oceans, thus adding water to the water that is already in the ocean. Second, as the ice sheets melt, they also disintegrate, in a process called calving. As huge icebergs calve off these truly vast ice sheets, they displace their mass in water, much like adding an ice cube to a glass of water causes the water level in the glass to rise. Between the processes of melting and calving, sea level could rise by two to six feet by 2100. There are forecasts that take sea level rise as high as eight feet by 2100.
There is yet another process to be considered here, and that is thermal expansion. As water boils, it climbs up the walls of the stock pot. Thermal expansion may only account for six inches of sea level rise, but that half a foot has far more impact than you might think. Sea levels have risen four inches since 1992, and coastal cities are vulnerable to king tides, which are the high tides in association with super moons. Those are full moons that coincide with the earth’s closest proximity to the moon. These super moons bring the highest tides of the year.
Sea level rise will give any hurricane’s storm surge greater amplitude. This is because sea level rise will give that storm surge a higher base on which to build. A two-foot rise in sea level will give a Category 1 hurricane that generates a four-foot storm surge the capacity to produce a six-foot storm surge, putting it at Category 2.
A four-foot rise in sea level would give a Category 5 hurricane the capacity to produce an unprecedented storm surge at the time that it makes landfall. A hurricane of unprecedented intensity acting on a four-foot tide and sea level will produce an unprecedented storm surge. This hurricane will have an unprecedented storm surge that is superimposed upon a greatly elevated sea level. Stronger hurricanes and sea level rise present those of us who live on danger’s edge with a deadly double whammy, a circumstance that we will discuss in the final installment of this series.
Note: Steven P. Roberts is the author of the nonfiction book The Whys and Whats of Weather (2014) and the novel The Great Winter Hurricane (2015). For details, see his website: https://www.dldbooks.com/stevenproberts/
7. 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 which benefit our listeners. Sometimes, Peter and I discuss a topic by ourselves. You are welcome to appear on our show, and we would also like you to 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 will 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 upcoming guests, along with dates and times of the recordings. Please note that all meetings begin at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Friday, August 6: Donna Halper, Associate Professor of Communication and Media Studies, 5:00 p.m.
Friday, August 13: Vicki Preddy, Non-24, 5:00 p.m.
Friday, August 20: Barbara Spencer, award-winning author of The Amazing Brain of OC Longbotham, Broken, and The Year the Swans Came, 5:00 p.m.
Friday, August 27: Ellis Hall, musician, 5:00 p.m.
Friday, September 3: Robin Putnam, reporting scams and scammers, 5:00 p.m.
Friday, September 10: Congressman John Leboutillier, 5:00 p.m.
Friday, September 17: Patty Fletcher, author of “Pathway to Freedom, Broken and Healed: Book One: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life, Second Edition,” 5:00 p.m.
Friday, September 24: Angela Paulson, coming out as a lesbian, 5:00 p.m.
8. THINKING INCLUSION
by Peter Altschul, MS
June 24, 2021
A late Friday afternoon telephone call more than 25 years ago forever changed the way I view workplace diversity.
The call came from someone in a large corporation who told me in a young-sounding, panicked voice that she had been asked to create a program to hire people with disabilities. I mirrored her panic, as it was the last day of my first week of my first real job after graduate school: managing a federally-funded grant aimed at improving the way employers recruited disabled college students.
But inspiration struck; I took a deep breath. “Does your organization have a diversity program?” I asked.
“Yes,” she told me.
I encouraged her to talk about some of the successes of the program, and she excitedly described how their efforts were encouraging African Americans to join their company.
“Sounds great,” I said. “What is your organization doing to make this happen?”
She described their outreach efforts on college campuses.
“That’s terrific,” I told her. “Just keep on doing what you’re doing.”
“That’s it?” she asked in a startled voice.
“Well, yes,” I said. “You might have to tinker with the program to adapt it to students with disabilities and those that support them. But there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.”
“Oh,” she said. “Well, thanks. Have a great weekend.”
I have thought about this exchange often as I straddled the gap between diversity, disability, and leadership. Over the years, I’ve heard countless diversity managers say some version of, “Look, we’re focusing our diversity program on (fill in the blank(s)). We know disability is important, but—.”
This thinking is self-defeating, as people with disabilities appear in all groups. More important, viewing each underrepresented group separately masks similar challenges that members of each group face: less ability to control our visibility, an underappreciation of our skills, the tendency to be treated as the spokesperson of the underrepresented group(s) to which we belong, and the sense that we are round pegs in square holes. Viewing each group separately also suggests that a separate skill set is required to support members of each separate group to succeed, making the diversity journey much harder than it needs to be.
Consider the following training activity I have used over the years.
I ask participants to think of an example when they successfully interacted with someone they perceived to be significantly “different,” and what made the interaction successful.
While the differences exercise participants described were vast, the skills used to bridge these differences were surprisingly similar, with empathy, active listening, reaching for similarities, and managing conflicts the most commonly noted.
I suggest the following strategies for those interested in creating common ground among groups, with a focus on people with disabilities.
Stress similarities whenever possible. When I discuss the Americans with Disabilities Act-related “reasonable accommodations” concept, I point out that each of us subtly accommodates to the quirks of others; that’s what inclusion is all about.
Use intersectionality to your advantage. Intersectionality, when stripped of the controversy the term has caused, simply means that each of us belongs to separate but related groups, and that exploring these cross-currents can lead to empathy and joint action.
Differences are far less important when each member of the group is truly committed to a common, challenging goal.
Explore the connection between managing diversity and managing conflict.
Incorporate diversity concepts into existing leadership and management training, stressing that the skills learned, while more useful when working with people from underrepresented groups, work for everyone.
Adapt strategies you used to connect with one group as you reach out to other groups; no need to reinvent the wheel.
Consider the possibility that the thread binding diversity, disability, leadership, and management is inclusion.
This essay was written under the auspices of Blind Institute of Technology™ (BIT), a nonprofit organization that envisions a world in which disabled people have the same employment opportunities as their peers. They aim to help disabled professionals and the employers who hire them find synergistic success through education, preparation, and accessible technology. For additional information, please visit www.BlindInstituteOfTechnology.org
9. WHO IS REALLY EMPOWERING CANCEL CULTURE?
by Bob Branco
I have had several conversations with friends who believe that the more we talk about cancel culture, the more we empower those who want to practice it. In other words, if we bring it up, we give it more purpose. The media does this all the time. They continuously report on words and phrases that particular people want to cancel, rename, or rebrand.
With that said, there is one thing we must consider. Despite how we talk about cancel culture, we are not the ones who submit to it by renaming and changing things. We didn’t rename the Cleveland Indians. We didn’t get rid of Redskin. We didn’t eliminate Providence Plantations from the official name of Rhode Island. We didn’t ban songs from radio stations. These were the acts of baseball teams, football teams, legislators, and radio station owners. These are the organizations who are empowering cancel culture by honoring it and doing exactly what cancel culture wants. In other words, if these organizations are asked to get rid of Indian, Redskin, Plantation, song lyrics and other questionable terms, they will get rid of them.
Even if we never talk about cancel culture anymore, there will always be organizations that will submit to it and carry out these changes. Aren’t these the people who give cancel culture more purpose than what you and I do? All we do is talk about it. These other people act on it.
10. AUTHORS’ CORNER
A. Faith Illustrated: Taking Your Next Step
by Jena Fellers / C 2021
In e-book ($3.50) and print ($9.95) from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.
Cover image, longer synopsis, author bio, buying links, and information on the author’s previous books: https://www.dldbooks.com/jenafellers/
From her history of facing the diagnosis of a progressive eye disease, Jena Fellers knows how much trust is needed to tame fear of the unknown. Over time, she learned how to let go more often and started trusting others to guide her. She believes this illustration will help you with your journey of faith as well.
This book defines faith, teaches how to grow in it, and shares the benefits of stronger faith. Jena illustrates how blind individuals use a sighted guide, the trust and surrender that requires, and how God desires to be our guide.
To know how to follow correctly and walk by faith, one must understand Proverbs 3:5 better. Using personal and biblical illustrations, Jena guides us through this verse, one word or phrase at a time.
Are you ready to take your next step of faith? Faith Illustrated offers an opportunity for personal reflection, building strength to allow God to guide you where He desires with new confidence and trust in Him.
Note: The cover shows five photos of Jena walking, including with her little grandson.
B. Inheriting Ghost Manor
A novel by E. L. Roff / C 2021
In print and e-book formats from Amazon, Smashwords, and multiple other online sellers.
Print: $16.95, 420 pages. E-book: $4.99.
Cover image, author bio, and direct buying links: https://www.dldbooks.com/elroff/
The cover art is by the author’s son, Alex Roff. It shows the silhouette of a woman off to the right, the ghostly image of a woman in a large mirror that is facing her, and a rain of bank notes, symbolizing the large fortune that the main character inherits.
What would you do if you found yourself inheriting a haunted manor?
KT is having the worst year of her life. After the death of her mother, her last living relative, she’s being evicted from her family home. She’s also broke. Her fiancé has taken off with everything of value in her house and has cleaned out her bank account.
Then, out of the blue, a British lawyer arrives to tell her that she is the sole heir of a recently deceased great-uncle, one George Thorndyke.
With the generous funds supplied by her visitor, KT travels to England, where she will learn the complex details of the inheritance. She’s also eager to learn as much as she can about the history of her previously unknown family.
Once in England, she discovers that the centuries-old house she is to inherit is haunted—and that in order to receive the massive fortune, she has to live in the haunted manor for a year.
That’s just the beginning of her troubles.
C. Leaf Memories
A book of poetry and photos by Carol Farnsworth / C 2021
In e-book ($2.99) and print ($7.50) from Amazon and Smashwords / 44 pages in print.
Cover image, full synopsis, author bio, direct buying links, and free text sample:
I have always loved walking in the woods. I usually explore with my husband or daughter to act as a sighted guide. They find flora for me to touch. When I had some vision, they would point out fauna—a deer, or a bird taking flight. At those times, I was lucky to see the white of a retreating deer or hear the sound of wings in flight.
When I became totally blind, I developed my senses of touch, hearing, smell, and taste to see the world. I incorporated visual memories to complete the picture.
After two hip replacements, I could no longer walk the woods I loved. My husband and I became a tandem cycling team. This allowed me to experience nature in a different way.
I wrote this chapbook of poems after I lost my sight. I found there are many ways to enjoy nature, such as using your hands to explore, along with your other senses.
From Leonore Dvorkin, editor of Leaf Memories:
The poems are arranged according to the seasons of the year, starting with summer. They mainly tell of the author’s appreciation of the beauty of nature and her concern for the environment and wildlife. Three joyful photos show her laughing little daughter in a huge pile of fall leaves (on the cover and inside the book), Carol helping to make maple syrup, and Carol and her husband standing by their tandem bicycle.
11. EQUALITY RULES
by Peter Altschul, MS
Peter’s most recent book, published this year, is Riding Elephants: Creating Common Ground Where Contention Rules. See his website for full details.
July 3, 2021
Several years ago, my family and I spent the Fourth of July weekend at a time share near Branson, Missouri. On the way there, we stopped at Lamberts, a restaurant where servers hurl rolls at customers and serve large amounts of greasy, Southern food. While waiting for our order, Louis, my then 14-year-old stepson, announced that he was all for women being treated the same as men, but—
Annoyed, I tuned out. I’ve heard variants of this phrase coming out of the mouths of Rush Limbaugh, Dr. James Dobson, and other conservative Christian men who seem to believe in women’s rights—for those women who agree with them.
“Rolls, anyone?” called a waiter, followed by excited “over heres” and the sound of rolls thudding into hands.
“Schools treat girls better than boys,” Louis continued, and he’s right. Girls outperform boys there, in part because they tend to be more compliant and organized than boys.
“But why aren’t there more high school girls taking science classes?” asked my wife, Lisa, who recently received her PhD in biomedical engineering. She has a point; girls drop out of math and science courses as they get older.
“And if a girl hits me, is it OK for me to hit her back?” Louis demanded.
“Yes,” Lisa declared. “You have a right to defend yourself.”
But boys tend to be stronger and heavier than girls, I thought.
“There is a difference,” I proclaimed, “between treating people the same and treating people equally.”
“What?” Louis asked.
I repeated my statement.
“I don’t understand,” he said.
Our food arrived, and the conversation drifted elsewhere as we devoured meat loaf, pork steaks, fried shrimp, and burgers.
“Hey, what about this equality-same thing?” Lisa asked.
“Explain,” rumbled Joseph, my then 15-year-old stepson.
“You know about the discrimination blind people face while trying to find a job?” I asked.
I spoke about how many employers screen out applicants with visual impairments when they require that candidates have a valid driver’s license.
“That’s discrimination,” Joseph half-shouted with a smile in his voice.
I smiled. “This would make sense for candidates to be treated the same if the jobs required someone to drive regularly from place to place,” I explained, “but more and more employers seem to be requiring this of all jobs.”
“Maybe they want to be sure that employees have a way to get to work,” suggested Ana, my then 22-year-old stepdaughter.
“Or maybe they’re trying to screen out people with substance abuse problems,” Lisa added.
“I don’t know what an employer’s intent is,” I responded. “But many otherwise qualified visually impaired people see the driver’s license requirement and don’t bother to apply. And I think that hiring managers subconsciously connect ‘no driver’s license’ with ‘can’t do the job.’”
“So there’s more flexibility involved in treating people equally than treating people the same,” Lisa suggested.
“And equality is sort of an ideal that we should work towards,” Louis mused.
While we were driving home after a weekend of swimming, barbecuing, and boating, a statement by Josh McDowell, a Christian evangelist and regular guest on Dr. James Dobson’s radio show Focus on the Family, flashed across my mind.
“Rules without relationships result in rebellion,” he declared.
Rules maintain order and promote a treating-everyone-the-same ethos; we all must follow them or suffer the consequences. Respectful relationships change subtly over time based on the values and needs of the participants. They acknowledge differences and work towards managing them in an equitable way. Quality relationships support rules, and dysfunctional relationships result in...well, the Brits sure know what happened beginning on July 4, 1776.
Happy Fourth, everyone!
12. TERRI’S TIDBITS
by Terri Winaught
Hello, Consumer Vision readers.
Although the horrible condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, is no longer in the news, I still think about it. That being the case, I want to start my column by extending comfort, compassion, and sorrow to any of our readers who lost family members or other loved ones in that awful tragedy. My heart also goes out to the first responders for whom the search-and-rescue efforts that eventually became search and recovery must have been heartbreaking. Not being a first responder and never having been one, I can only do my best to use empathy to imagine what that must have been like for them, along with the continuing emotional trauma. I feel the same way about the many people who continue to be negatively impacted by the fires that are ravaging so many states out West.
Moving on to a happier note, I hope that the lifting of COVID restrictions and the availability of three vaccines has brought many lives back to a greater sense of normalcy and some happiness as a result. So that more normalcy and pleasure can continue, I would like to encourage any readers who haven’t yet been vaccinated to seriously consider doing so, especially given how transmissible the Delta variant is. I know, of course, that there are people who will still choose not to get vaccinated, and they certainly can’t be forced to; just the same, I would like to encourage all of our readers who are receptive to get vaccinated.
As always, I am interested in hearing from readers in any of the following ways:
Home phone: (412) 441-0925
Cell phone: (412) 595-6187
In Braille to my new home address: 5700 Centre Ave., Apt. 609, Pittsburgh, PA 15206
Take care, stay well, and thanks for reading with me.
13. RECIPE COLUMN
by Karen Crowder
When August arrives, days become noticeably shorter. Nights are longer, with hints of autumn by mid–August. During the summer of 2021, many Americans are vacationing across the country. New England has a welcoming atmosphere. Maine is unique because of beaches, plentiful fresh seafood, and hospitality. Massachusetts is known for vacation destinations. Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket are known for their beaches with warmer waters. They have delicious seafood, quaint shops, and a welcoming atmosphere. With cooler nights in late August, the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts are a nice escape from the heat of the cities. I anticipate visiting my step-daughter in Northern Maine. I look forward to the company and delicious food during my visit. In gardens and at farm stands, tomatoes, zucchini, ears of sweet corn, peaches, nectarines, and blueberries are plentiful in Massachusetts and Maine.
There are no special holidays in August.
A. Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Sandwiches
B. Easy Chicken Soup
A. Peanut Butter and Cream Cheese Sandwiches
I have liked the combination of peanut butter and cream cheese since my childhood. I often had such sandwiches for lunch. Cream cheese and peanut butter are not unhealthy. Cream cheese has some calcium, and peanut butter has traces of nutrients and is high in protein. You can buy lower fat cream cheese and creamy or chunky peanut butter. If you are allergic to nuts, sunbutter, made from sunflower seeds, is a good substitute.
Temp Tee Whipped Cream Cheese by Breakstone or Philadelphia Cream Cheese
Peanut butter or sunbutter
Two to four slices of white, whole wheat, or Scali bread.
1. Spread a generous amount of cream cheese over one or two slices of bread with a table knife. Spread generous amount of peanut butter or sunbutter on the other one or two slices of bread.
2. Put sandwiches together and serve them with a beverage and fruit for lunch or a light supper.
Note: Instead of peanut butter, you can pair orange marmalade, jelly, or strawberry preserves with cream cheese. You can pair a sliced banana or grape, apple, or currant jelly with peanut butter.
B. Easy Chicken Soup
There are cool evenings in August when chicken soup is just right. Bread, biscuits, or rolls and a salad make good accompaniments.
Two boneless, skinless chicken breasts (one-half pound)
Four to six whole mushrooms
One-half Vidalia onion
Four to six baby carrots
Dashes of garlic powder, curry powder, salt, and sweet basil
One and one-half cups frozen corn
Three tablespoons butter
A few dashes of olive oil
One 10-ounce can Campbell’s chicken-rice soup
Three cups water
One-half cup half-and-half, optional.
1. In a three-quart stainless steel saucepan, sauté broken-up mushrooms, chopped onion, and carrots in melted butter-olive oil mixture for 10 minutes. Add spices and water.
2. Rinse chicken breasts thoroughly, then place them in saucepan with other ingredients. Add chicken rice soup. Cover saucepan and cook chicken soup on low to medium heat for one hour.
3. Shut off heat and take whole chicken breasts from the saucepan with a slotted or stirring spoon. Place them in a glass or plastic container.
4. In the sink, break chicken breasts into pieces with a paring knife. Rinse hands and break chicken into smaller pieces. Carry the container over to the saucepan and add to soup. Add frozen corn and optional half-and-half. If you wish, add extra garlic powder, curry powder, and salt.
5 Simmer the chicken soup for 20-25 minutes.
Serve chicken soup hot with Saltine, Ritz, or oyster crackers. Accompany soup with warm biscuits, bread, or rolls. A tossed salad and a light dessert make a perfect supper. There might be enough soup for another meal. Refrigerating leftover soup in an airtight container helps the flavors set.
C. Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe was published in Kitchen Corner, part of the July-August issue of Our Special Magazine. From 50 Sweet and Savory Recipes from the Nestle Corporation, by Marjorie Arnot.
Note: I used less brown and granulated sugar, salt, and one stick of margarine. Extra chocolate chips were a substitution for chopped nuts.
Two and one-fourth cups all-purpose flour
One teaspoon baking soda
One teaspoon salt
One cup (two sticks) butter
Three-fourths cup granulated sugar
Three-fourths cup packed brown sugar
One teaspoon vanilla extract
Two large eggs
One 12-ounce package Nestle Toll House semi-sweet chocolate morsels
One cup chopped nuts.
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl.
3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate morsels and nuts.
4. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased baking sheets.
5. Bake for nine to eleven minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes five dozen cookies.
I hope the readers of Consumer Vision are enjoying a nice summer. Unlike the West coast, New England is receiving abundant rain. I continue hoping and praying for a united and more trusting America. Have a happy August.
14. THE DATING GAME
by Peter Altschul, MS
July 13, 2021
In my memoir Breaking Barriers: Working and Loving While Blind, I described how, during the first several days at my first two jobs, I became tense and disconnected while sitting through programs designed to bond me first with a large federal government agency and later with a stodgy Wall Street bank. During these onboarding programs, my fellow new hires and I completed a mind-numbing amount of paperwork and listened to endless presentations about the glories of the organizations from faceless bureaucrats whom we never heard from again. In my next three jobs, I was spared from going through similar experiences—and I was much happier.
I hadn’t thought much about the connection between my first few days on a job and my level of happiness until reading an article on FastCompany entitled “How to Solve Onboarding’s Awkward Alienation Problem.”(1) In the article, Drake Baer wrote about how employers want to absorb new hires into their organization as quickly as possible, while new hires want who they are to be aligned with what they do.
Mr. Baer also wrote about research conducted at a large call center in India where one group went through the usual “here’s-why-you-should-love-us” dance, during which each member received a fleece sweatshirt with the company logo printed on it. Members of the other group were guided through more contemporary dance steps to assist each member to focus on their strengths and uniqueness. Members also received fleece sweatshirts, but with their names printed on them instead of the company logo. After six months, members of the former group were about twice as likely to bow out, and customers were more satisfied with their interactions with members of the latter group.
But what really grabbed my attention was the connection made in the article between hiring and dating. In both, each of us is trying to figure out how our strengths and quirks connect with others.
What did you do during your first date with someone you successfully bonded with? Sit in a large, stuffy room to listen to a stranger explain the glorious history of the family you would be joining soon? Or spend time getting to know your partner, perhaps with the help of a meal, music, and a bottle of wine?
In my memoir, I described how my boss left me with a can-do spirit after engaging my guide dog and me in a spirited conversation about the project I would be managing on my first morning of my third job. I spent my first week of my next job on the road in Glendale, Arizona, laying the groundwork for my future work there addressing teen pregnancy prevention. I began learning about the culture of my next organization with the assistance of my boss and another employee. These interactions conveyed confidence in my abilities and a far clearer sense of the culture of each organization than viewing those we’re-awesome presentations those faceless bureaucrats performed.
Five days ago, I came across a list of five onboarding tips that Google created for their managers. (2)
1. Match the new hire with a peer buddy.
2. Help the new hire build a social network.
3. Set up employee onboarding check-ins once a month for the new hire’s first six months.
4. Encourage open dialogue.
5. Meet your new hires on their first day.
Onboarding is all about supporting new hires in enhancing relationships with themselves and others.
15. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the July Consumer Vision. In the play Julius Caesar, Brutus was the man who betrayed him. Congratulations to the following winners:
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Daryl Darnel of Urbana, Illinois
Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Nancy Hays of Waterbury, Connecticut
Trish Hubschman of Easton, Pennsylvania
Susan Jones of Indianapolis,Indiana
Jo Smith of West Dennis,Massachusetts
Robert Sollars of Tempe, Arizona
Steve Théberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts
And now, here is your trivia question for the August Consumer Vision. What college did quarterback Tom Brady attend before he became a member of the New England Patriots? If you know the answer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 508-994-4972.