Welcome to The Blind Perspective

Logo Description: A view from a window with lavender curtains drawn back viewing the snowy peaks of a mountain range. The words “The Blind Perspective” hover above in the sky.
October 2019
Volume 5 Issue 10

Table of Contents

Greetings from the Editor
Sponsors of the Month
Movers & Shakers
International Perspective
Exercise, does a body good
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
Spencer’s Spotlight
Computer Tech101
A Time to Plant
The Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
Dirty Work
The Beauty Parlor
Cooking Concoctions
Riddle & Brain Buster


The Blind Perspective Newsletter has been produced in such a manner that makes it easier to stroll through the articles. If you are using JAWS, System Access, or NVDA, press the letter H to move through the headings. If you are wanting to skip back simply press the shift key + the letter H. For MAC users, press Control Option Command plus the letter H and to go backwards through the articles press Control Option Command shift plus the letter H. If one of the links do not work for you just copy and paste it in to your browser and it should work.

If you have any trouble reading this copy you can go to Click Here it will take You to the read the current newsletter

Greetings from the Editor

By Karen Santiago

Greeting Readers!
We are in the last quarter of 2019, can you believe it!
Once again, all the writers have been working hard to provide you with informative, educational, and entertaining articles. So, without further ado, read on!

Remember you can also choose to listen to our audio version of the newsletter, link below:
The Blind Perspective Audio

And a big thanks goes out to Teddy for producing our audio format each and every month. If you haven't tried this option, why not give it a try!

At A Glance: Card Tournaments, Party Time, Useful Links, Changes & Facts, Shoulder, Debut, Nature, & Recommendations, Responses, Mosaics, Aira, Upgrading, Micro Greens, Assistance, Washing Soda, Defining, Yummy Chicken, Riddle & Brain Buster!

Sponsors of the Month

Blind Adrenaline Tournaments

Blind Adrenaline is the premier online multi player card game site for the visually impaired, and starting on October 1st, we’re hosting a spades and hearts championship series of tournaments with over 100 dollars in cash and prizes going to the winners.

Check this page for more details on the championship:

Blind Adrenaline was created, programmed, and is run by the blind and has been going strong for over 10 years now.

We have an elegant interface designed to make jumping in and having fun a breeze, with hundreds of the friendliest players on the web, and a strict no jerks allowed policy.

We have Spades, Hold ‘em, draw poker, Hearts, Euchre, Yahtzee, blackjack, and cribbage, with multi player tournaments every week.

If you’ve never played before, come try us out, you get a full month free to kick the tires and see what you think, after that it is 7 dollars and 95 cents per month, and even less if you buy a six or 12 month subscription.

Even if you don’t get a subscription after your free month, you can continue to play our Yahtzee game and tournaments for free, no strings attached.

Note that the Blind Adrenaline card room is for Windows only, no Mac support at this time unfortunately.

All new and existing members are eligible to compete in the championship for prizes, whether you have a paid subscription or not.

If you’ve never played online card games designed with the blind in mind, you don’t know what you’re missing, it is fantastic fun, and our quick start tutorials will get you up and going in no time.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at:

Here is the link to the website, hope to see you there:

It’s a Party, and You are All Invited!

Come and join the Out-Of-Sight DJ's for a musical blast on Thursday, October 31, 2019. This is the Second Annual Birthday celebration of The Out-Of-Sight Radio station.

We want you to join us for a day filled with favorite tunes you’ve enjoyed throughout your life! To spice it up a bit with even more fun, there will be prizes to celebrate this special day.

How can you win you say? Well, simply listen to the radio station at, Player.Live365.com

and call in to, 860-881-2221, at the appropriate times in order to win.
There will be something for everyone. Hope to see you there. Let the fun begin!

Out-Of-Sight Radio is funded by www.Out-Of-Sight.net. To sign up for a free account and meet other blind people from around the world, send us the following info:
1. First and last name.
2. Email address.
3. Preferred nickname, if any.
4. Phone number.
5. Send this info to: OOSNHQ@gmail.com

After your request for membership has been approved, we will send you a welcome letter and all relevant materials to get started.
Join us today for all of the learning, fun, and conversation!

Movers & Shakers

By Karen Santiago

For this month I am sharing a useful resource list that was sent to me by reader Geoff.


Microsoft Disability Answer Desk
Phone: 800-936-5900
Website: Support.Microsoft.com

Apple Accessibility Support
Phone: 877-204-3930
Email: Accessibility@Apple.com

Amazon Disability Help Line
Phone: 888-283-1678<.

Accessible World - Accessible Internet Resources
Website: AccessibleWorld.org

Mystic Access - Podcasts and reviews specializing in accessibility (use Firefox, Edge, & Google Chrome to access)
Website: MysticAccess.com

The Blind Geek Zone - Audio tutorials, gadget demonstrations, useful links, and programs
Website: Blind-Geek-Zone.net

Cool Blind Tech - Latest In Assistive Tech! News, Reviews and Interviews
Website: CoolBlindTech.com

AppleVis - A community-powered website for blind and low-vision users of Apple's range of products
Website: AppleVist.com

The Erasing Blindness Blog - everything related to blindness and visual impairment all in one place
Website: BlindnessEraserBlog

AudioGames.net - Accessible games for the blind
Website: AudioGames.net

Entombed - RPG game for the blind and visually impaired
Website: Blind-Games.com

Mailing Lists:

JAWS Users' List
Subscribe: Jaws-users-list-join@jaws-users.com

JFW Support List - A source for anything and everything related to JAWS for Windows
Subscribe: JFW+Subscribe@groups.iO

NVDA Users' List
Subscribe: NVDA+subscribe@groups.iO

Windows 10 and JAWS discussion list
Subscribe: win10+subscribe@groups.io

Eyes-free Android
Subscribe: VI -android-request@freelists.org
with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.

Mac For The Blind
Subscribe: Mac4TheBlind-request@FreeLists.org

with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.

BARDTalk - NLS BARD discussion list
Subscribe: BardTalk+subscribe@groups.io

International Perspective

By Karen Santiago

Unfortunately, there is no International Perspective article for this month. In order for this segment to continue I need readers to reach out to me. There are so many more countries to cover. If you are interested, please email me at my address above.

Until I get people to interview, or someone submits their story, I will go ahead and change it over to the Reader’s Perspective segment again. This means that you, the readers, are now able to submit an article on any blind/ low vision related topic. I really enjoyed the ones that were published during the summer months. So, go ahead and submit your stories, thoughts, and experiences!

In the meantime, read below for some interesting worldwide facts about blindness/ low vision, according to World Health Union (October 2018):

Globally, it is estimated that approximately 1.3 billion people live with some form of distance or near vision impairment.
With regards to distance vision, 188.5 million have mild vision impairment.
With regards to near vision, 826 million people live with a near vision impairment.
217 million have moderate to severe vision impairment.
There is an estimated 36 million people who are blind.

Globally, the leading causes of vision impairment are uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts.
Approximately 80% of all vision impairment globally is considered avoidable.
The majority of people with vision impairment are over the age of 50 years.

Exercise, does a body good

By Dan Kiely

Welcome back to another edition of Exercise Does A Body Good!
I received an email from a reader asking for more shoulder exercises. So, below I have 2 strengthening exercises and 2 range of motion exercises.
For these 2 strengthening exercises you can use either a dumbbell or a TheraBand.
Exercise 1: I call it, Emptying A Can.
Starting Position: Stand tall with a light weight dumbbell in your right hand. Arm should be at your side, at about 45 degrees. Meaning not straight in front, nor straight out to the side. Elbow should be slightly bent, not locked.
Movement: Raise your arm up just below shoulder height, and then lower it back down to the starting position.
Repetitions: do 3 sets of 15 reps.
Muscles Worked: Anterior and medial deltoid muscles.
Note: You can work one arm at a time or both simultaneously.

Exercise 2: I like to use a resistance band for this one.
Part A:
Starting Position: Tie one end of the band to a secured pole or door knob. Stand with the side of your right arm towards the door. While holding the band in your right hand, tuck your arm at your side and bend your elbow at 90 degrees.
Movement: Pull the band towards your stomach. Make sure to stand at a distance that creates a resistance with the band.
Repetitions: Perform 3 sets of 15 reps.
Muscles Worked: This exercise works your external rotator cuffs.

Part B:
Starting Position: With the band still tied securely to the door knob or pole, stand with your left side towards the door/ pole. Your right arm should be tucked into your right side, and elbow bent at 90 degrees. Grab the band with your right hand. Your hand and forearm should be positioned to the left side of your stomach.
Movement: Pull the band away from your stomach, being sure to keep your right arm tucked into your side and elbow at 90 degrees. Return to starting position.
Repetitions: Do 3 sets of 15 reps.
Muscles Worked: This exercise works the internal rotator cuffs.
Note: Be sure to repeat this exercise (part A and B) using your left arm.

Stretching exercises for the shoulders and chest.
Stretch #1:
Find an empty corner in a room. Place left hand and forearm on left wall and place right hand and forearm on right wall. Both arms should be at shoulder height, with elbows bent at 90 degrees. Now step far into the corner as you can until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders. Do these 10 to 15 times and hold for a count of 10 to 15 seconds.
Stretch #2:
Facing a wall, walk up it with your fingers, until it reaches your highest range of motion, without any discomfort. Do these 10 to 15 times and hold for a count of 10.

Health Tip
Benefits of pedicures:
*pedicurists can detect early signs of corns, bunions, and fungal infections
*Can decrease chances of infections
*Preserves skin’s moisture
*Exfoliates the feet
* Promotes circulation
*Relaxes the body

Having happy feet means having a happy body!
Till November, remember Exercise Does A Body Good.

Have I Got A Story For You

By Carla Jo Bratton

Greeting book lovers,
I bring you 2 fabulous books that are on my Holiday gift list. I know several who will enjoy one or even both of these titles. If you have a Christmas book gift in mind, share your suggestions with me please. Let’s go!

The Most Fun We Ever Had
Written by Claire Lombardo
Reading time;20 hours and 33 minutes
Not on RNIB or CELA yet

When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that's to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she's not sure she wants by a man she's not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents'.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt, given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption 15 years before, we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons' past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo's debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family's becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.

My Comments; I saw a little bit of myself in each of the women in this book. What an intriguing story of a family. This is Lombardo’s debut novel and I can’t wait until she writes another one. She is spot on. This is an outstanding book.

Brenda writes in to highly recommend Charles Martin. I hadn’t heard of him until Brenda’s note. Chasing Fireflies and The Mountain Between Us both sound good. Thanks Brenda.

Underland: A deep time journey
Written by Robert Macfarlane
Reading time:12 hours 3 minutes
Not on CELA
Available from RNIB
DB 95761

Hailed as "the great nature writer of this generation" (Wall Street Journal), Robert Macfarlane is the celebrated author of books about the intersections of the human and the natural realms. In Underland, he delivers his masterpiece: an epic exploration of the Earth's underworlds as they exist in myth, literature, memory, and the land itself.

In this highly anticipated sequel to The Old Ways, Macfarlane takes us on an extraordinary journey into our relationship with darkness, burial, and what lies beneath the surface of both place and mind. Traveling through "deep time" - the dizzying expanses of geologic time that stretch away from the present, he moves from the birth of the universe to a post-human future, from the prehistoric art of Norwegian sea caves to the blue depths of the Greenland ice cap, from Bronze Age funeral chambers to the catacomb labyrinth below Paris, and from the underground fungal networks through which trees communicate to a deep-sunk "hiding place" where nuclear waste will be stored for 100,000 years to come. Woven through Macfarlane's own travels are the unforgettable stories of descents into the underland made across history by explorers, artists, cavers, divers, mourners, dreamers, and murderers, all of whom have been drawn for different reasons to seek what Cormac McCarthy calls "the awful darkness within the world.".

My Comments; This book is a total escape machine. I know I’ll never go to most of these places and it was a joy to read all about them through Macfarlane’s masterful writing. Beautifully written, this book is on my Holiday gift list, I know several folks who will love it.

Here’s a recommendation from Charles;” I have recently read several books by Tony Hillerman and those by Ann Hillerman, any of which I would highly recommend. The stories describe the work of Navajo police and are very informative about the Navajo and native American culture. The books are well written and suspense fully describe cases handled by the three main characters.”
I completely agree with you Charles, thanks for your note. I love the landscapes in these books.

Audible mourns the loss of one of our own.
We were devastated to learn that Rick Lewis, one of audibles first employees and the voice behind the iconic phrases “This is Audible” and “Audible hopes you have enjoyed this program,” passed away unexpectedly at his home in Ecuador. His voice holds so much meaning for every Audible listener, whether setting us off on a new journey or bidding farewell after a great listen. A devoted traveler, photographer, and essayist, Rick reminds us each day to embrace the journey of discovery, and what an amazing legacy that is.

Until November,
Happy Reading, Carla jo!

The Braille Highway

By Nat Armeni

Hello & welcome to the Braille Highway,
I want to thank everyone who took the time to write in their opinions about my September article. Just a reminder, it was about James strong opinions of braille.

I asked for you folks to write in, & you certainly listened. Since I received an overwhelming response, I decided to forgo my typical article, and just post the replies I received.

Here is a little bit of what Bob had to say in his email:
“Just read your item in this month Blind Perspective. I do not use braille but I think James is a little out of line. If I had continued to learn braille back in 2003, I would be using it now. When I started to learn braille, I had a stroke which did damage to my finger tips on the right hand. This made it impossible to feel the dots. Keep up the braille stories because even though I do not use it I enjoy your items.”
Thanks Bob, I do appreciate your email.

Here are Marie’s kind words:
“Nat, I support your views about braille. I agree that braille is awesome on many fronts and it beats technology! Keep on promoting braille!”

Read on for Brett’s remarks:
“So, I conclude that a mix of both the old school, and the modern approach are valuable for today’s blind community. There are times that Braille is just not feasible. Although, there are times that I find Braille to be the best way to do things. Besides, I do carry my smart phone. I do not carry a Victor Stream, Braille note, Pen friend, laptop and scanner, or for that matter, a 6 volume Braille novel in my backpack. So, I don’t believe that either side is perfect for an imperfect demographic. We are all human, and will develop our own preferences.”
I agree with you Bret, I just feel no one should be all braille or all technology. A healthy balance of both is an ideal solution in my opinion.

This is what Kaye had on her mind:
“I read your article each month, but this is the first time in a very long time that I have felt such a compelling need to respond. I must truly take issue with the opinions of “James” about Braille, but I imagine you knew I might. James, of course is entitled to his opinion, but I do believe he is truly missing out.
I learned Braille at the age of 5 just as he did. Similar to his experience, I had Braille in Elementary school and High school, but the ability to come by Braille textbooks definitely diminished as I entered college. I then knew that it was up to me, not the school or university to keep up with my Braille Knowledge. Without Braille, I was functionally illiterate, and that was not something that I wanted for myself. I used Braille notetakers, and even made my parent purchase a Braille embosser for me. 
Fast forward almost 30 years, and Braille is still something I use today. Without the knowledge of Braille I possess, my job would be virtually impossible.”
Kaye, thanks for sharing your experiences.

Read this interesting viewpoint from Colleen, a blind mother:
“Well, as a totally blind mom. I have to agree braille is a great skill to know. It is a great feeling to be able to share reading time with your little one, to be able to read to them I believe gives the little one and mom a more enjoyable time of reading. I especially enjoyed reading her the ones with the tactile pictures. I also am able to play games with my daughter. We can play card games, UNO with braille UNO cards, and they have monopoly and scrabble as well. And many others. I also was able to braille game cards with pictures that help to teach my little girl how to identify different objects. So, you can be very creative with Braille as well. And I totally agree Braille has a way that you can quietly do things without sticking out with voice recognition. Such as telling time with a Braille watch. I cannot stand to be somewhere out and about and have to press my watch, so everyone knows I am checking the time. So, don't knock Braille, it has its good points.”
Nice hearing from a mom’s perspective Colleen!

Read Andy’s opinions as a person who is furthering his education:
“I was reading this and thought that I just had to put in my opinion. I am currently taking braille, after a decade and a half of not wanting to learn braille. I lost my sight at 25, and have gone on to obtain an associate in liberal arts and a bachelor in interpersonal communication. I plan on furthering my education with a masters in rehab teaching, which includes teaching braille. I think it is sad that less than 1 in four people who are blind or vision impaired know how to read braille. This is staggering, considering that if the same amount of sighted people could read print, this world would be in deep trouble. Plus, as long as I am on stats, it is around the same number of people who are unemployed, I echo the above statement. Think for a second, if the sighted world had 1 in four that could read, one in four that worked, we would be less than a third world country… so equality comes like this, let us get our literacy rates up and let us get our employment rates up, then we can talk about equality.”
Andy, you bring up great points, thanks.

Here is Marjorie’s email to me:
“I would like to make a few comments on the September Braille Highway. This reader boasts he can get through life without having had braille to guide him on his way. Firstly: he assumes every blind person in the world has a smart phone and knows how to use it. There are many of us who don't have one and frankly don't want one. As you said, aps are fine to a degree but for most people they can be rather daunting.
	If this reader is married and has children how did he read to them when they were toddlers and at elementary school. If he used a talking book then he didn't read to his kids, someone else did and in that way, parents don't get the bonding with their kids if they do it themselves.
	Having very tiny kids how does one even teach them the alphabet or numbers without braille unless they had a magnetic alphabet and number kit. Also, they would have to know the print alphabet to help their kids.
	if he does anything in the kitchen or in a workshop, does he run to his smart phone every time he needs to read his recipe or instructions on what he is doing. I would imagine a smart phone would be very lucky after being touched with sticky hands from batter making a cake, etc. yes, Smart phones have their use in life and am glad some folks can benefit from them, but there is nothing more rewarding than being able to read a book yourself, even under the covers on a dark wintry night. How did this wonderful member learn to spell or do math’s if he is dependent on technology? Even with sighted kids and it has been proven, they do tests on the iPad or tablet finding information on the web, and other kids who do the same tests via the written word and it has been proven that those who did the written word were leaps and bounds ahead of those who did the tests electronically. Mainly because the kids who read the questions etc. retained the information longer than those who received the questions and answers via technology. so much so that some schools are banning smart phones during school classes.”
Marjorie, I think you have given us all something to think about.

Here are Patty’s thoughts:
“I would first just like to commend you for reading and answering that angry email about Braille. That’s a lot more than most would do. I’m not quite sure how I as a promoter and newsletter owner would’ve reacted to that.
To me it seems as though “James” has some anger issues going on where his blindness is concerned, maybe someone said something to him about his braille use, maybe he’s just decided to be a difficult blind person, I don’t know. But, his arguments and solutions to not using Braille are too out of line to consider.”
Thanks Patty.

Finally, here is a response from Suzy that sums it up for me:
“I still feel that “in addition to” rather than “replacement of braille” just makes sense. Keep on the highway.” 

I would like to thank everyone once again, who took the time & effort to email me. I encourage readership interaction and input. Braille users do it with feeling. Remember to stay on the dotted line of life! Keep safe, and talk with you in November!

Kaleidoscope of Krafts

By Lindy van der Merwe

It is once again a privilege to welcome you all to Kaleidoscope of Crafts! For this month we are looking at mosaics as a craft option for blind and visually impaired crafters.

Mosaics are works of art created by using glass or ceramic tiles and grout to cover surfaces. Mosaics adorn the ceilings of many cathedrals with elaborate details, but they can be found in a simple pattern on the coffee table in your home.

Although it is possible to create detailed and intricate pictures using different mosaic pieces, simply covering a surface with one type of shell or tile can be just as beautiful.

Using some basic craft supplies, it is something that can actually be enjoyed by anyone. I always think of this craft as something between gluing and pasting, building puzzles and playing with blocks.

The small pieces of material used in mosaic art are called tesserae. They can be glass, stones, porcelain, seashells, or anything else you can find. If you don’t have any material lying around your house, you can buy from a wide range of mosaic tiles from your favorite local or on-line arts and crafts store.

The tiles, shells or stones are glued onto some kind of base. Tables, planters, bird baths, or walking stones are all great options but as a beginner you might want to buy yourself a simple mosaic kit so you can find out if it is a craft you might enjoy.

Kits are often put together to make jewelry, photo frames, mirrors, wall art with messages, picture frames or even stepping stones. One of the advantages of buying a kit is that everything has already been selected for you, so, no need to search for tiles, glue or grout.

Most mosaic kits will contain a wooden base, Tiles, Glue, grout and instructions in print. When choosing a kit, Go for a fairly small, simple design at first, e.g. a square base for a coaster, a mirror, cross or photo frame. If you like the craft, you can always move onto other shapes like birds, butterflies or any shape that takes your fancy.

You want a kit with only one type of tile as a beginner so that you will not have to deal with various colors and sizes of tesserae. It is also helpful if your tiles have a front and back surface that can easily be distinguished by touch. If it is not possible to determine this beforehand, keep in mind that you might then have to ask for a little help before starting your project, asking someone to help you position all your tiles face-up, for example.

In general, your kit could include two types of tiles. Uniform tiles are usually squares or rectangles of similar size and are placed in rows, so the only adjustments you have to make is to space your tiles so they fit onto your base, taking care that they are spaced evenly. Alternatively, some kits contain tiles that have been cut or broken into random pieces. These shapes lend themselves to projects where the shape you are covering is curved, e.g. a heart or a circle. In the second case your project will feel more like doing a puzzle, where you will need to choose different sizes of tiles, turning them until they fit into a certain space. This is quite easy to do since very small differences in spacing will be filled in by grout at a later stage of your project and is usually not obvious or distracting. If you don't like sharp edges, round, flat-back glass gems are a kid-friendly mosaic tile alternative. You can find these gems in your local craft store. They are available in many different colors and sizes.

The glue most often used for mosaics is PVA - Polyvinyl Acetate (also known as craft or wood glue). This type of glue is white, but it dries clear. It is best for mosaics that either lie flat or have little weight bearing. It is not water-proof, so is not suitable for outdoor use. Diluted it can be used as a sealant in a ratio of 50:50 to water.

Once you have your kit, you will do the following:
Step 1: Spread a piece of newspaper on a flat surface and make sure you have arranged all your craft supplies neatly before starting.

Step 2: Cover your base or surface with your tesserae, taking care to space the tiles or gems close enough to each other so that the wood or surface beneath is covered completely. Small gaps are fine, since these will be filled in by using grout in the next step.
Take special care with covering the outer edges of your project. You want these to be as neat as possible with no tiles sticking out at odd angles.
Adhesives can be applied with a toothpick, small palette knife, paddle pop stick, paint brush, a butter knife or even a piping bag.
You can either spread glue on your surface or apply the adhesive directly onto each individual tile. You could wear gloves if preferred but I like to be able to feel what I am doing. This means my hands do get glue on them but if using PVA glue it is water-based and thus no problem to remove. You can wash it off or let it dry and simply pull it off.
Remember that, while your glue is still wet, you can move your tiles into position after placing them down or even exchange one piece for another. Once you are satisfied with the placement of your tiles, leave the mosaic piece to dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 3: Wipe off extra glue with a damp sponge or cloth before going on to the next step.

Step 4: Adding grout, a fine textured version of cement mortar, will fill in the spaces between your mosaic pieces. It also unifies and enhances the design. It looks best if you pick a contrasting color so your design will stand out. Of course, if you have a kit, the color selection would have been made for you already.
Grout comes in powder form and is usually mixed with water. It is best to do the grouting outside and use a dust mask if you are worried about dust particles. I find that because I only do small projects, that dust is not usually a problem.
In a small bowl or a cup with a spout, add enough water to a tablespoon or two of grout to make a thin paste. You can then gently pour the mixture over your mosaic surface or use a spoon to transfer the grout onto the surface of your creation. Gently tilting or rubbing across the piece will ensure that the grout will flow into the spaces left between your tiles. Let the grout dry for about 30 minutes and then wipe the excess off with a damp cloth.

Step 5: Apply sealant to the mosaic to protect it. This will coat the tiles and safeguard against damage, especially for outdoor mosaics subjected to fluctuating temperatures and adverse weather conditions. It also will give a high gloss shine that will make the colors stand out.

Step 6: Lastly, lightly spray your mosaic piece with White Vinegar to remove remaining Grout Dust and then wipe dry Using a Paper Towel or Cloth.

You should Now Have a Beautiful Mosaic piece of art! I hope this article will inspire you to try mosaics out for yourself. I have really enjoyed the projects that I have made in the past.
Happy crafting until next time.


Spencer's Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer

What would you like to do today?

Most of you know, or have heard about Aira. I attended a seminar about Aira at a convention in 2015. I had never heard of Aira before so this concept was brand new to me. A video was shown depicting a man walking down a shopping strip and the Aira agent was describing the area and directing him to a doorway into a coffee shop. The agent described the environment and where the line was located. Once close to the counter, the agent read the menu, and even described the expression on the clerk’s face. I was totally fascinated. I immediately signed up for a demonstration.

I was given a funky pair of glasses to wear. They were just a frame with a square lens at the top right and the actual camera was to the right of the lens. I was given a phone with an earbud attached for me to hear the Aira agent. After doing a sound check, the demonstration began. I was in a very large open area outside the exhibit hall. The agent directed me to go straight and described the area around me as I was walking. I was able to visualize my surroundings based on her description. The agent told me there was a water fountain about 20 yards away and I said I would like some water. So, she directed me right to it and as I reached out, I recognized it as something I had come across the day before but had no idea what it was and just went past it not knowing. She then told me where the cups were and I reached out like I could see. I grabbed a cup and got myself a drink of water. She then directed me to the trash can located near the door. I went through the door and the agent described my surroundings. She was even able to tell me what the temperature was as she kept an eye on where I was going. She then directed me back into the building and back to my chair. I was blown away, wooow! It was a life changing experience to me that this was something that I would be able to use to achieve so much without bothering friends or relatives which up to this point were my main resources.

I signed up on the spot and never looked back. I had my "onboarding" in January of 2016. Here are just a few of the many many things I have asked Aira to do for me: navigate difficult web sites, describe the items and navigate the different online stores, help me set up my television, shop in a grocery store independently, find a graduation card for my Niece, and take a picture and label it. I could literally go on and on.

Aira has been ever evolving and strives to make their service available and more affordable to more and more. They have expanded to other countries such as Canada, England, Ireland, and as far away as New Zealand and Australia.

Aira is unique unlike any other service in that their agents are highly trained and are required to sign a confidentiality contract in order to protect the subscriber’s privacy. Taken from their website: “Protecting your privacy and ensuring you feel secure using Aira are our top priorities. Anyone you connect with will have passed robust background checks, signed strict privacy clauses, and undergone weeks of rigorous training.”

Recently, Aira has made their service free for five minutes per call to anyone regardless whether they are subscribed or not. Just think of all the things you can do in five minutes or less. The list can be as long as your imagination.

If you have not had the Aira experience, I encourage you to download the ap and create a free account. Aira is available in the Apple App and Google Play Stores. All Aira requires is your mobile number. As they say, no credit card, no commitment, no problem.

Here is some information I found on pricing. (United States and Canada)
Aira Intro Plan: 29 dollars per month gets you 30 minutes, only available with the phone camera.

Standard (most popular): 99 dollars with just the phone or 124 dollars per month with the Horizon kit. this plan gets you 120 minutes.

Advanced: 199 dollars per month or 224 dollars per month with the horizon kit. This gets you 300 minutes per month.

These are just the personal plans available. There are discounts for Veterans, students, and members of the National Federation OF The Blind.

A quick mention on the Horizon kit. It comes with a pair of Smart glasses with a camera built into the center of the frame just above the nose. Also included is a phone to be used just with Aira., charging equipment, and necessary cables. The connection from the glasses to the phone allows the agent a wide field of view. Communication is done with either a Bluetooth headset or a wired earbud, whatever works best for the individual. And believe me when going for a walk, it's like having someone right beside you describing everything.

Free access: individuals can use Aira for free with the different partnerships they have made with businesses.
*Limited and on-going promotions that provide free access to Aira agents, such as the Intuit QuickBooks and Small Business Owners promotion.

*Products, free to use for tasks that involve using certain products like Vispero’s JAWS screen reader. This could be the work around for reading those inaccessible captias!

*Locations, an ever-growing number of locations like Walgreens, AT&T stores, airports, and federal buildings.

For more information on this incredible service, go to their website at: www.aira.io
or call them at: 800-835-1934 (6:00 am to 6:00 pm, PST)

I am not intending to take any props away from other services that perform similar task. Each has an important place in our independence toolbox.

Happy exploring!

Computer Tech101

By Jim Morgan

Once again, we’re kinda going to ask Mr. Peabody to set the Wayback Machine. I received a question from a reader and thought that, though we’ve covered it before, in a way, I thought it worth going over again. I’m talking about upgrading Windows, or any other program, and how to know if it’s something best left alone.

The first thing you need to know is what “bit” your computer is. In case you’re unaware of what this is, it’s the chunks in which the computer stores and uses information. Think of it as a bunch of receptacles, trash cans, if you like, that are of a certain size. Naturally, the higher the number, the bigger the bin and, therefore, the faster the computer works. In this day and age, it’ll be either 32-bit or 64-bit. I can tell you right now that if you’re using Windows 8 or later, hopefully later since the Windows 8 versions were terrible, you are using 64-bit. Windows 7 has both a 32 and 64-bit version. Windows XP and Windows ME are both 32-bit. In case you’re wondering how to check it, you simply need to go to the Control Panel and click on System. The first screen will tell you a number of things including your Processor speed, the amount of memory, or RAM, that you have and whether or not it’s 32 or 64-bit.

Why is this information important some of you may ask? The answer is two prong. The first part is that older programs might not work very well in the 64-bit environment. This isn’t to say they won’t work, but they work very ugly and there can be problems. The Second part is that if you’re looking to upgrade Windows, it has a bearing on the ease of upgrade. It’s easy to go from one Windows version to another if they have the same “bit” number. However, “upgrading” to the higher number can be VERY problematic and, in some cases, require a complete reformatting of your hard drive. I had a friend going from 32 to 64-bit and it was a nightmare for him that included programs that needed reinstalling, some programs not working at all anymore, and some data loss. In other words, it was not fun and almost required professional help.

So then, given this information, one needs to ask oneself, “Do I NEED to upgrade?” In most cases, the answer is No. While Microsoft has stopped supporting Windows XP and, I think, Windows ME, these Operating Systems still work just fine and will not stop working as soon as Microsoft stops support. What it means is that they won’t be doing any more patches and that, if you have a problem requiring their help, they can’t do anything about those Operating Systems other than strongly recommend you upgrade. I, myself, have an old computer with Windows XP on it and it runs quite nicely. While I won’t/can’t use it much on the Internet, the programs on it work just fine and, in a way, serves as a sort of back up for some pieces of data.

The reader in question was contemplating “upgrading” to Google Chrome due to some Websites not supporting Internet Explorer 11. She is running Windows 7, 32-bit. After hearing the pros and cons, she decided to leave it alone. Her reason was a piece of software that she uses far more than Google Chrome, or IE, for that matter, couldn’t handle 64-bit processing very well so upgrading would create more problems than it would solve.

My stance on upgrading is the take the Engineer’s Outlook, “if it aint broke, don’t fix it.” While there are times when you HAVE to upgrade, I generally find that trying to keep up with the latest versions of things is more trouble than it’s worth.

Should you have any questions about this or would like to check to see if upgrading is something you should contemplate, please send me an email at my address located at the top of this article. I won’t promise to have the answers, but I will promise to respond either way. 
Happy Computing!

A Time to Plant

By Sue Brasel

When considering your next plants, think of their habitat. What can be grown?
Where can it be grown? Are there advantages or disadvantages that need to be thought about?

A new breed of farmers are those who use containers to garden indoors; they are called urban farmers. Plants are grown in a substrate (a form of soil) in flat containers on shelving in their homes. These farmers are growing microgreens.

Sprouts are seeds that are grown only in a water and air environment. Sprouting seeds should be used; seeds to be planted in the soil have been chemically treated to survive the germination process. Soak the seeds in water for up to a day, depending on the seeds. Jars, cloth bags, or commercially made devices called growing towers  can be the growing containers. Several times daily the seeds should be rinsed and drained. In several days to several weeks they will have grown big enough to eat. The seeds can be grown anywhere except in direct light, which could be strong enough to bake the tiny plants. They can be exposed to sunlight at the end of their life cycle to produce the chlorophyll which greens them up.

It is possible to grow microgreens with just water and light, but most people prefer to use a growing medium.

Microgreen seeds are sometimes soaked for quick germination. Most times, they are sown directly onto their growing medium. Tiny seeds grow freely in that substrate, larger seeds should be lightly weighted down. These seeds should be watered from the top, using a light spray. Drainage holes in the bottom of the flats allow drainage to occur. In the early stage of development (for the first few days), seeds should be in a dark environment. After 3 days, these plants should be exposed to light, where they grow straight up to the light. Weights covering the large seeds need to be removed. All of the root development stays in the substrate (think of a typical seed with it’s roots in the soil), while the stems and possible leaves grow above the surface. At this point, watering should only be done at the substrate level, not the stem/leaf level.

In a typical garden plant, large growth is desired. Microgreens are harvested before large growth happens, typically before the third set of leaves has grown. Because smaller plants are desired, microgreens can be planted close together, but not on top of one another.

Roots, stems and leaves of sprouts can be eaten. Typically, only the stem and leaf portion of microgreens are eaten. Microgreens are snipped just above the substrate surface, and because the root structure is established, an extra harvest could develop.

An advantage of growing microgreens is that they take very little growing space. The harvest occurs before most growth, so insect damage is virtually eliminated. Since only the seeds, not the soil around the seeds, is watered, water is conserved. Because this is an indoor harvest, you don’t expose yourself to the elements of your climate. A disadvantage is that you are responsible for your garden, you must tend to your plants!

It is now “thyme” for me to place another order for my sprouting/microgreens seeds.

the Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently

By Lois Strachan

I was chatting to a friend about a recent flight he and his partner, both of whom are blind, took. As his story unfolded, my eyes grew wider and wider with shock.

It appears the passenger assist agent had taken his carry-on bag after it went through the security check and subsequently refused to hand it to him. When they boarded the plane, the cabin attendant had insisted on tenderly taking both my friend’s partner’s hands to lead her to her seat, walking backwards to face her, which made her uncomfortable Especially since the same crewmember had just shown my friend his seat walking sighted guide as it’s usually done. Then, when they arrived at their destination, the passenger assist team not only insisted they both use wheelchairs to deplane, but even tried to push my friend’s girlfriend into a wheelchair physically when she protested that she didn’t need or want one.

WE all have stories of the ways the assist staff sometimes get it so badly wrong. I have amassed quite a few stories myself over my years of travel. Sadly, it’s often our less than ideal experiences that stick in our minds, while we forget the far more usual good experiences.

Sometimes those interactions are downright funny – like the time a woman who was assisting me didn’t see my guide dog and assumed I was pregnant when I said there were two of us checking in for the flight.

But sometimes the interactions are just confusing, like the passenger assist agent believing my blindness means I’m unable to walk. Or when I get told my guide dog “must” sit in a window seat on one flight, and then get told she “must” sit in an aisle seat on the following one, because “that’s what the rules say”. Or why sometimes I board first and sometimes they make me wait till last, which I feel is harder for my guide dog since she has to navigate her way through people and carry-on luggage. It also perplexes me why I always need to take reams and reams of paperwork with me when travelling with my guide dog and yet usually get waved through without having to produce it. Well, I get waived through once the airport employees have finished trying to pet my dog. It’s almost like the rules change every time I fly, it’s enough to make one’s head spin!

I understand there are many reasons why the passenger assist team may act differently; maybe they haven’t yet received the correct training, maybe they’ve forgotten what they were taught, maybe they’re rushed off their feet and are trying to assist me as fast as they can so they can hurry to the next passenger on their list. Maybe they’re just having a bad day. Maybe they believe the way they’re trying to help really is the correct way. And maybe the rules really have changed. Ultimately, I’d like to believe that they aren’t deliberately trying to annoy me, to stress me out, or that they believe they know more about what will work for me than I do. I’m happy to report that most passenger assist staff are more than happy to let me explain how I prefer to be helped. And most often our interactions have been good. Most often.

Here’s a few tips I’ve found useful when travelling with the passenger assist team:
1 It’s up to me to express my needs clearly and firmly to each person who assists me, we all have different needs and preferences and we can’t expect the person assisting us to know unless we tell them.

2 Always, always, always be polite, no matter how I may be fuming internally, it’s only going to make it worse if I explode at the person who’s assisting me.

3 When in doubt, ask for clarification, uncertainty is only going to make me more stressed and frustrated, so asking for more information or clarity may ease my uncertainty; for all I know, there may be excellent reasons why the process has changed.

Sure, there have been times when I’ve not been happy with the process that’s been used. And sure, sometimes I end up doing things that I’d prefer not too, like only boarding the plane after the other passengers. But usually I’ve found that stating my needs, being polite and asking for clarification when necessary has made air travel a lot more pleasant than the experience my friend and his partner had.

If you have other tips to make air travel more enjoyable, please pass them on to me so I can share them in my next article. I’m sure there’s lots we can all learn from your travel experiences as well!
With greetings from my current vacation in France, till next time… happy travels!

Dirty Work

By Manny Morales

This month I am focusing on the versatile product, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. What is this you may ask.

This is an earth-friendly, old-school household product that has been around for a while for good reasons: its inexpensive, effective, and has no synthetics. Arm & Hammer Super Washing soda is 100% sodium carbonate, a naturally occurring alkaline mineral that’s related to baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) but packs more of a punch!

Although this product is all natural, it is caustic, meaning has the ability to burn or irritate the skin. So, when handling, use rubber gloves to protect yourself!
Washing soda should not be used on fiberglass or aluminum surfaces.
Also do not use to clean or de-clog drains.

All-Purpose Cleaner
2 tablespoons washing soda
1/2 teaspoon liquid laundry soap
2 teaspoons borax
2 cups hot water.

Mix washing soda, soap, and borax in a spray bottle.
Add water.

To use:
Spray surface and wipe with clean dry cloth.

Below are two laundry soap recipes; one for those who like the powder-type soap, and one for those who prefer liquid laundry soap.

Powdered Laundry Soap
8 cups washing soda
8 cups baking soda
8 cups Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap, grated*
12 cups borax

Mix all ingredients together.
Store in a sealed tub.

To Use:
Use 1/8 cup of powder per full load of laundry.

*Since 1839, KIRK'S Gentle Castile Soap has been a high quality all-vegetable based bar soap. A gentle & creamy lather, even in hard water. Always made with 100% Premium Coconut Oil.
Available at Amazon, Walmart, Target, and other stores.

Liquid Laundry Soap
½ cup Borax
½ cup washing soda
½ cup of Dawn dish soap
4 cups hot water
Clean, empty gallon plastic jug (i.e. recycled juice/milk jug)

Combine Borax, soda, and liquid soap in the container, using a funnel will make it easier.
Then pour in the water to dissolve the ingredients.
Fill the container to the top with cold water.
Shake before each use.

To Use:
For a standard-sized load of laundry, ¼ cup should work. Use a little more for a more heavily-soiled load.

If you have any cleaning ideas or recipes, I would love to hear from you. Just email me at my address located at the top of this article.
Until next time, remember dirty work is clean fun!

The Beauty Parlor

By Christy Ray

Highlighting and contouring can be a very important step to a full completed made up face. Highlighting brings out certain parts of the face that you are wanting to emphasize such as cheekbones. Contouring is helpful as well. Both of these help make your face look thinner in some cases.
The contouring starts at the hair line on your forehead. Lightly brushing around the outside of your face to the jaw line. Go back to your forehead and do the same on the other side.
Highlighting is on the forehead, nose, cheek bones, and around the Cupid’s bow (the corners of your mouth).

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine

Chicken Breasts with Cherry Tomatoes
So easy! So sensational! Who knew healthy eating could be so savory and satisfying!
Here is a healthy recipe using chicken because its high in protein yet fairly low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Serve it with whole-wheat couscous and steamed spinach for a complete meal. Or, for delicious fajitas, serve chicken with sautéed onions and peppers tucked into corn or whole-wheat tortillas, and with a tablespoon of fat-free sour cream.

3, 4-ounce chicken breasts (skinless, boneless)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon of your favorite spice blend*
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper (salt-free)
1 Lemon, juiced
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut into halves OR use one 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
3/4 cups vegetable stock (low sodium)
3 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped

Season chicken with chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, your spice blend, and salt-free lemon pepper.
Pre-heat large nonstick sauté pan over high heat. Lightly mist hot pan with nonstick cooking spray, such as PAM.
Reduce heat to medium-high and sear chicken breasts for 3 minutes per side.
Add lemon juice and tomatoes to pan. Turn chicken breasts again and add vegetable stock to pan.
Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until chicken is fully cooked, about 8 to 12 minutes.
Transfer chicken to plates. Top with tomatoes and sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

*For a suggested spice blend, you can mix paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and dried basil.

Riddle & Brain Buster

By Alex Smart


What is a Mummy's favorite type of music?

Answer to September’s riddle:
What has to be broken before you can use it?
An egg

Brain Buster

Sports Talk
What common term, in two different senses is used in each of the following pairs of sports or games? The answer’s first letters are provided as hints.
Example: auto racing, golf. D. driver.

Baseball, bowling. S.
Golf, badminton. B.
Soccer, ice hockey. G.
Football, fishing. T.
Golf, poker. C.
Basketball, baseball. F.
Golf, swimming. S.
Ice hockey, chess. C.
Tennis, volleyball. A.
Basketball, ice hockey. R.

Answers to September’s brain busters:
Embarrassed or bashful. Sheepish.
Marijuana. Hashish.
In good order, nautically speaking. Shipshape.
Accurate aim. Sharpshooter.
Oyster. Shellfish.
Wisconsin city on Lake Winnebago. Oshkosh.
Cook food on a skewer. Shishkebob.
Top secret. Hush hush.

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