Welcome to The Blind Perspective
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
Hello fitness fans, and welcome back to another edition of an Exercise Does A Body Good! Last month, in my health tip section, I wrote about different tips to reduce belly fat. This month is about how to reduce your belly fat with compound exercises. What are compound exercises? They are multi movements that incorporate multiple muscles. A good example of a compound exercise is a squat. It uses the calf and quadricep muscles, the abdomen, and the lower back muscles. The more muscles that you use, the more calories and fat you burn. Here are four compound exercises that will help you burn belly fat. Exercise 1: Squat with front shoulders raised. Equipment: Dumbbells or resistant bands. Starting Position: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, dumbbells in your hands, and arms at your sides. Movement: Lower your butt downwards to a sitting position. Once in this position, simultaneously raise upper torso to a standing position, while raising your arms. At the top position, your arms should be out in front of you at 90 degrees, with palms facing downwards, and knees slightly bent. Now simultaneously lower the dumbbells to your sides and lower your butt to a sitting position and repeat. Repetitions: Depending on your fitness level, do 3 sets of 15 to 25 reps. Muscles Involved: Calves, quadriceps, abdomen, lower back and shoulder muscles. Exercise 2: Bird dog. Equipment: Dumbbells or ankle weights. Starting Position: Get down on all fours, like a dog. Grab dumbbells or wrap ankle weights around wrist, placing hands about shoulder width apart. Knees should be hip width apart, and knees and hips bent at 90 degrees. Keep head in a neutral position, and abdomen slightly contracted. Movement: Simultaneously lift right hand and arm, and lift left leg and foot off the floor. Hold for a count of 1 or 2. Then lower arm and leg and reversed to left arm and right leg. And again, hold for a count of 1 or 2. Repetitions: Do 3 sets of 15 to 25 reps. Muscles Involved: Abdomen, gluteus, shoulders, upper and lower back, and leg muscles. Exercise 3: Reverse bird dog, or also known as dead bug. Equipment: dumbbells or ankle weights. Starting Position: Lie on your back with head resting on the floor. Hold dumbbells in your hands, or wrap ankle weights around your wrists. Extend your arms, shoulder width apart, straight up perpendicular to the floor. Feet should be off the floor, hip width apart, with hips and knees bent at 90 degrees. Keep lower back flat on the floor, this will ensure that your abdomen is engaged throughout the exercise. Movement: Simultaneously, lower right hand and left leg towards the floor. Keeping your right arm straight, lower it towards the right side of your head. Your left leg should go from a bent position to a straightening position. Keep your right hand and left foot off floor at all times throughout the exercise. Return to starting position and simultaneously, lower left arm and right foot. Repeat exercise, continuing to alternate feet and arm. Repetitions: Do 3 sets of 15 to 25 reps. Exercise 4: Burpies. Equipment: none Starting Position: Stand with feet at shoulder width apart or more, and hands at your sides. Movement: Squat down to a sitting position and place hands on the floor in front of you, slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Kick out legs behind you, in a push up plank position, and do one push up. Then kick legs back towards chest and hands, stand up, and repeat. Repetitions: This will depend upon your fitness level. I recommend doing 3 sets of 5 reps. As your fitness level gets better, increase your reps. Muscles Involved: Well this exercise involves a lot of muscles, such as shoulders, chest, abdomen, upper and lower back, hips, and leg muscles. And most of all, your heart muscle. This is a very challenging exercise, so go slow. These exercises will hopefully help you to lose your belly fat. Remember to eat right, exercise right, and sleep right to maximize your belly fat loss. Exercise tip of the month: If you want to build muscle and strength, in addition to losing body fat, it is recommended to do your weight training first, and then your cardiovascular training second. If you do cardio first, you may become too tired to lift heavy weights, and you would probably fail to complete the necessary repetitions. Well that is it for this month and good luck. Remember Exercise Does A Body Good!
Happy December and welcome to The Braille Highway. The final month of 2019, where has the time gone! This month’s focus is on Tactile Maps produced by the LightHouse in San Francisco. As per usual I invite you to send me ideas for future articles as well as constructive feedback at my email noted at the beginning of this article. I usually use both google maps and soundscape on my smart phone when I am travelling, especially in unfamiliar places. I have come across a wonderful service that produces maps in both large print and braille. In this month’s article I had the pleasure of speaking to Greg Kehret and Naomi Rosenberg, both from the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco. Greg is the director of media and accessible design lab and has been working for the LightHouse for 19 years. Naomi Rosenberg is the senior designer in the media and accessible design lab and has been working for the LightHouse for 4 years. Dr. Joshua Miele's created tactile Maps over 10 to 14 years ago, for Smith-Kettlewell. The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute is a non-profit, independent research institute, affiliated with and located adjacent to the California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Joshua wanted for blind people to experience all that our sighted counterparts do regarding orientation and location literacy. The Smith-Kettlewell partnered with the LightHouse for The Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco who took on the job of outreach, Marketing, and distribution of the tactile maps. With financial assistants through grants a tool was created that would take the information from programs such as OpenStreetMap and automatically create a tactile version along with a large print one in the same document. Eliminating the need of someone who knows braille and or a graphic designer. Here is a simple version of how the procedure works, as I understand it. I will use myself as an example. I would begin by giving the address of interest to the person at the Adaptation store at the San Francisco LightHouse. Next, I would need to choose what size I wanted; a letter size page, 11 x by 11.5-inch page, or an 11 x by 17-inch page. If the address I am seeking is in an urban setting, then the preferable choice would be 11 x by 11, to be able to zoom in. Another decision to make is whether I want imperial or metric measurements. The 11 x by 17-inch page would ideally be used more for stationary purposes, since to carry around would be difficult not to bend. The maps are standard, whether you get them at the LightHouse or at the exhibit hall at a convention. The title is on the top left corner, the directional arrows are on the right-hand corner, and next to the left arrow is the scale ratio. For example, a 1-inch line equals 500 feet or 150 feet, whatever the calculation may be. Below that the map begins with lines representing streets. At the end of the line is a 3-letter abbreviation, representing the street name. You will also find directional information, indicating the direction in which the street goes. For example, Market street in San Francisco would have, N E and S W. this would reveal that Market Street travels North East and South West. Upon placing an order, you will receive 2 copies of the same address. One is a simple representation of the area, while the other one is more detailed. Also included is the map key informing you of the full street names represented by the three letter abbreviations. So far this calendar year, the MAD Lab (Media and Accessible Design Laboratory) has printed and distributed over 2000 maps! I conducted my interview way back in July and at that point the NFB National Convention in Los Vegas was happening. Naomi informed me that they had produced over 125 copies of maps during the convention. A smaller and portable embosser from ViewPlus Technologies was used during convention to produce these maps. But back at the home base, an industrial embosser from ViewPlus Technologies is used to produce braille and print Tactile Maps. If you wish to order a tactile map for a particular address, call the store at the LightHouse in San Francisco at 1-888-400-8933. It generally takes two to three days to produce, and then it will be shipped to you either through paid postage or free matter. The maps cost 25 dollars, but if you mention that you heard about Tactile Maps through the Blind Perspective, or use coupon code TMAP20, you will receive a 20 % discount! If you prefer shopping online, the Adaptations Store website is: www.Adaptations.org
Direct link to order a TMAP from the website is: www.Adaptations.org/OrderMaps
In both of these online options, use the TMap20 code for a 20% discount. This coupon code is valid until December 20th 2019. I want to officially thank Naomi and Greg for allowing me to interview them. I also want to apologize for the lengthy time it has taken me to publish this article. Braille users do it with feeling. Why complicate life with gadgets when you can compliment it with braille. Remember to stay on the dotted line of life. Keep safe and write to you again in 2020!
Though it is almost summer here in South Africa, no doubt it is getting colder in the north as you move into the long winter months. Where we are used to Christmases filled with sunshine, surfing and swimming, snow is synonymous with the festive season for those living in the northern hemisphere. Hence, I am sharing with you a craft that many might remember from their grade school years - making paper snowflakes. Cally from the make-it-do.com website relates such a great story on hand-cut snowflakes that I just had to share. She writes: "When my parents-in-law were newly married and both in school, they faced decorating their Christmas tree with no money to buy ornaments. The solution came from what they, as young students had in abundance… white typewriter paper. They folded and cut and soon their tree was blanketed in beautiful, elegant snowflakes. As the years passed and they had the money to buy more expensive ornaments, they found they could not give up their beautiful handmade snowflakes. After nearly 45 years of marriage, they still decorate their tree with paper snowflakes along with their favorite ornaments. Some of the snowflakes are many years old, some were even cut by loved ones who have passed away. Each year the best snowflakes are carefully saved between sheets of cardstock. Most of my husband’s siblings, our family included, have carried on the tradition of hand cut snowflakes. It started for us, just as it did for my in-laws… out of necessity, but has continued out of choice." Her words once again reminded me of the importance of tradition and of creating and sharing special moments with our loved ones. What better way to spend time during this festive season with family or friends than making simple paper snowflakes? Don't worry if you are not good with cutting a straight line. Odd shapes and cutting at an angle are actually required for this craft. If you can hold scissors, you can do this craft or if you prefer, instead of making the snowflakes yourself, show or explain to someone else from the next generation how to make unique, hand-cut snowflakes. Before you start, Make sure everybody has sharp scissors and clean hands. Dirty hands make for dingy snowflakes! Use whatever scissors are comfortable for you. In general, smaller is better. A waste paper basket is also handy to contain the snippets of paper that will no doubt result from this craft. Some people use wrapping paper or other fancy paper to make their snowflakes. Use whatever you like to create the desired effect. Cheaper, thinner (light weight) paper is actually best for this project. I stick with plain white copy paper because somehow, I get a lot of satisfaction from creating something so beautiful from something so ordinary. Instructions: Step 1. Start with a square. Those who have done origami before will find this step easy, but here is a description of how to make a square from a rectangular piece of paper. For practice it might be best to use a sheet of copy paper, which will make a fairly large snowflake. For smaller snowflakes you will of course need smaller squares. Check out your favorite local or on-line stationery or craft store for different types and sizes of paper. To make a square, do the following. Folding: Lay your rectangular piece of paper down on a hard, flat surface with the long sides to the left and right and the short sides at the top and bottom. Fold the top right corner of the paper down and to the left until you can feel that the two layers of paper lay on top of each other on the lefthand side. Follow the two layers of paper upwards to make sure they line up as closely as possible until you find the narrow, top point of the paper. While holding the two layers in this position, make a sharp crease, running your finger from the top left corner down and to the right. Now, on the righthand side, your paper will slope up sharply from bottom right to the top left corner. Notice that at the bottom of your folded paper, there is a rectangular piece, which has not been folded. It is this part of the paper that you will remove to create a true square. Weakening the paper: Concentrating on the single rectangular layer of paper at the bottom, fold your paper upwards so it covers the bottom part of your folded triangle. Crease well from left to right to create a horizontal fold and, lifting your paper from the folding surface, fold back the other way. Do this a few more times to weaken the paper in both directions. You can also run your nail along the crease or use a damp finger to weaken your paper even further. Removing the extra paper: There are many ways you can use to remove the bottom part of your sheet, including taring, cutting with scissors, rotary cutters or craft knives, etc. Feel free to use whatever method you find easiest, or ask for sighted assistance until you are comfortable performing this step. I will describe the taring method I most often use for those who would like to try this. After you have weakened your paper along the horizontal crease line, place the paper flat on your folding surface again. It works best if you now place the paper with the weakened fold in a vertical position. Place your thumbs and forefingers on either side of the crease and move your hands apart in a swift, but controlled, motion. Don't worry if the edge of your paper is not perfect. You will get better with this with practice. Step 2. Fold your square in Half Diagonally by bringing together two of the corners to form a triangle. There should already be a crease if you used the method for creating a square above. Step 3. Fold your triangle in half once more to make a smaller triangle. Crease well. Step 4. Fold the triangle you have created into thirds. Hold your triangle with its closed, narrow point closest to you. Start on the left and fold over a third of the way. Then fold over a second time. Try to get all of the folds to line up as close as possible for the most symmetrical snowflake, but don't worry if these folds are not perfect. The idea here is to create six layers to form your six-sided snowflake. Step 5. You will now have a shape with a closed point and two points sticking out at the opposite end. Still holding your paper with the closed side nearest you, cut off the bottom of the shape at a slight angle or in a rounded curve. Then, also cut in a zigzag shape along the top of the shape so that the points are removed and you are left with edges that are similar. Step 6. Make small cuts into the sides of your folded paper. Usually, cutting small triangles from the sides is easiest, but don't forget to try other shapes like rounded or square cuts. Otherwise, simply make angled snips into the sides of your paper. Step 7. Unfold the paper very carefully. Ta da! The snowflakes will not lay flat right away, so you might want to tuck them between the pages of a book for a while before displaying them. They can also be ironed by placing a cloth over them and pressing lightly with the iron on a very low setting, but this is optional. A few tips regarding cutting: Be careful not to cut all the way from one side to the other, or else you'll chop your snowflake in half! More smaller cuts are better than a few large ones. The way in which you cut the top edge of your triangular shape will determine how the outer edges of your snowflake will look. The sides are up to you. Make spiky or zigzag cuts or different sized triangles. Snipping off the very bottom of the shape at an angle will make a star shape in the middle of the finished snowflake. Make sure you only snip off a very small piece of the bottom point, otherwise your snowflake will have a large hole at its center. Remember that no pattern needs to be followed here. Because your cuts are random, each snowflake will be unique. Tips for decorating with snowflakes: A tiny piece of double-sided tape behind each point is a good way to stick them to a surface. Sticking them onto windows will make them visible from inside and out and they show up beautifully at night against the dark glass. They can be hung from the ceiling, or as a garland against a darker background. Invisible thread, or fishing line, works great for this. Use snowflakes to decorate gifts instead of a bow. Tape a single snowflake to a gift, and then put a plain gift tag on top of it. The lacy looking snowflake makes a pretty backdrop for the tag. Stick snowflakes onto a colored paper background for a nice effect when making a card or on the front of a book cover. A sprinkling of glitter on your hand cut snowflakes could also look beautiful for the festive season. I conclude with wishing all our readers only the very best for the festive season which is once again upon us and end with another word from the website mentioned above regarding the craft of hand-cut snowflakes. "I love this tradition, because every member of our family can contribute and each snowflake is unique, lovely and festive. But, best of all each year we create wonderful new memories. Share and Enjoy." Source: http://www.make-it-do.com/make-it/how-to-make-hand-cut-snowflakes/
As we approach the gift giving holidays, there is always that age old question what do I get my friends and family, and I am sure they are wondering the same about what to get their blind friends and family members as well. Are you tired of getting the same old generic gift that could probably have been purchased for just about anyone? Wouldn't it be refreshing if you got a gift that talked, or was otherwise accessible? That's what I'm talking about. There are so many things available for the blind that there is absolutely no excuse for any of us to be getting another scarf or that awful bottle of perfume, or cologne. So many companies are now selling items that are affordable that are beneficial and useful to us blind folks. Below is a list of businesses that sell fun and accessible items that you or someone you know may enjoy. Maybe you can casually slip in a hint or suggestion and you never know, someone just may be listening. Happy shopping! Amazon: www.Amazon.com
Type the word blind in the search box, and you will be surprised what you find. I actually ordered a cane! A T Guys: Your Assistive Technology Experts. Product or Service: Your leader in affordable technology including iPhone and Android accessories, keyboards, headsets, speakers, cases, the iGrill kitchen thermometer, Braille displays, and other cool gadgets. Phone: (269) 216-4798 Website: www.ATGuys.com
American Printing House for the Blind Product or Service: APH is the world’s largest company devoted to making products for people who are visually impaired and blind, and is the official supplier of educational materials for blind students in the U.S. They also have games such as scrabble and monopoly marked in braille. Phone: (800) 223-1839 Website: www.APH.org
Blind Mice Mega Mall Wide variety of items such as electronics, watches, and novelty apparel. Website: www.BlindMiceMegaMall.com
Ebay I ordered a talking scale from here! Website: www.Ebay.com
Laura Legendary with braille Jewelry Elegant Insights Braille Creations jewelry and accessories are beautiful, unusual, accessible, and inclusive. You’ll get noticed, and get compliments! Phone 1-702-605-1265 Website: www.ElegantInsightsJewelry.com
Harbolt company We at the Harbolt Company love what we do, and can't wait for you to share in our passion for all things cool and accessible. Whether you're looking for some serious high end audio equipment, searching for the perfect accessory for your smartphone or mobile device, shopping for that elusive gift for the person who has everything, trying to locate that hard to find rare and unusual item, or just wanting something for yourself or for that special someone, we’ve got you covered. You've found the perfect place for fun, excitement, and accessibility. Most importantly, a place to feel right at home. We offer audio and written descriptions of all our products, so you'll always know what you are getting. So, come join us in our unfailing love of all things unique. Website: www.HarboltCompany.com
Independent Living Aids Product or Service: ILA, 38 years strong; Keeping life MAGNIFIED, AMPLIFIED, SIMPLIFIED, and always in MOTION. We are your #1 source for independence, with a wide selection of low vision aides, tools, and technology. Phone: (800) 537-2118 Website: www.IndependentLiving.com
National Braille Press Product or Service: Braille and tactile products for sale. Phone: (617) 266-6160 Website: www.NBP.org
Maxiaids Catering to multiple disabilities as well as blind and low vision. Phone: 800-522-6294 Website: www.MaxiAids.com
Speak to me catalog Featuring talking toys, games, electronics, and novelty gifts. Phone: 800-248-9965 Website: www.SpeakToMeCatelog.com
Materialism aside, remember the reason for the season. Cherish the time you spend with your friends and family. Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season.
With apologies to William Shakespeare, which, for those of us that use Talking Books, is apropos since he is known as the Bard, To switch or not to switch, that is the question. I had a reader, I apologize for not getting back to her sooner, but the E-mail went missing on me and I don’t recall the name. Hopefully, she knows who she is and will accept my apologies for the lapse. Anyway, she asked about Google Chrome and was told by someone close to her that Chrome is Blind-unfriendly but she may have to use it for a site or two that she uses that won’t support Internet Explorer. Since we all know that IE 11 is the last and there will be no more since Microsoft will be doing Edge, I thought we’d talk about the alternatives and whether or not you have to switch. I haven’t seen Edge myself so I can’t really speak about it as yet, but I can speak to others. In my opinion, none of the Browsers are really Blind-friendly since most Websites aren’t and that’s the driving force when it comes to accessibility. Both Chrome and Firefox have menus, at least the version I have and have used do, and they will work with JAWS. Also, based on my testing, Chrome and Firefox seem to both work within most Websites; again, the site is the determining factor as to how “friendly” the site will be. I have both Internet Explorer and Chrome installed. I generally use IE because I’m more familiar with it. However, there is nothing wrong with Chrome, as far as I can see. Granted that the menus, hot keys, and so forth are a little different, but my Screen Reader, Zoomtext Fusion, just so you know, reads both programs with no problem. Also, there is no real difference with Website operation between the two programs. There are differences, of course, but I think that, with a little use, it’s no problem to use either program. I don’t personally use Firefox because I don’t really like it but I have some friends that do and, like Chrome and IE, there seems to be no problem with it “talking” during use. I do maintain, however, that while Chrome is more of a memory hog, it’s more “advanced” for use with the newer operating systems. Also, a number of Websites have been recommending the use of Chrome over other Browsers. I have a financial site that I access that has told me explicitly that they don’t really support IE but I can use it anyway. They, every so often, “invite” me to switch/upgrade to Chrome. My Chrome is already up-to-date so I just decline and go on but I foresee the day when I’ll have to use Chrome because IE won’t work. There are already some Websites where this is the case. The Described videos that you can download from Blind Mice doesn’t support IE at all and won’t allow access with IE; you must use Chrome or Firefox. This, of course, begs the question, “Do I have to switch now?” The answer, in my opinion, is NO. I feel the same way about upgrading or switching Browsers as I do about upgrading either the computer or the Operating System. That philosophy is, like the “Engineer’s Outlook”, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”. I have a friend of mine who has an older computer, about 7-10 years old, who recently said he was going to have to get a new computer. When I asked him why, he said because of its’ age. My response was to tell him that as long as the computer was working fine and would do all the things he wanted it to do, there was no reason to upgrade. However, if you come to the point, like I did a couple of years ago, where to use a specific program that you need/want to use, you must upgrade the computer, then it’s time to upgrade. As I said before, I feel the same way about upgrading both Browsers and Operating Systems. My current computer is currently running Windows 7-64 bit, which is 3 steps below the current Windows 10. I could upgrade it relatively easily but would have to pay Microsoft for the privilege. Since it does everything I need with no problem, I haven’t upgraded. The same thing applies to going from IE to Edge; I have no need to do it at this time, so I’m not going to. When IE becomes untenable to use, I’ll probably switch over to Chrome since I already have it and it works fine; I simply use IE because I’m more used to it but can use Chrome with no issues. Bottom line is to not be “afraid” of a Browser and don’t upgrade just because there’s something newer. Given my “testing” the “big 3”, IE, Chrome, and Firefox, will work just fine with a screen reader. Fusion uses JAWS for its speech so I’m fairly confident that any one of those 3 will work fine; it’s simply a matter of preference of both you and the Websites you frequent. When that dark day finally comes and you must upgrade, I suggest that you get something you’ll be comfortable with so you’ll use it. I have a friend in MD who, after years of using the same computer practically daily, finally got a new one but hated the way it worked and wasn’t interested in learning the “new” way to use it. Needlesstosay, his computer usage went way down and he was a tad unhappy with his purchase. So, again, don’t be afraid of change, but make sure that the “change” is going to work for you. Hopefully this helps anyone else out there that is contemplating “change” with regard to their computer. Should you have any questions about this or any other topic, for that matter, please send me a message and I’ll try to answer it, one way or the other. I can be reached at my email address located at the top of this article. Happy Computing!
Gardening is the process of growing and cultivating plants as a part of farming. Plants can be grown for many features including flowers, foliage and root structures. We tend to think of plants for their vegetables, fruits, herbs or appearances. Other things, such as soil composition, pest control, and sustainable gardening also help to have a better garden. In 1973, Dr. David Gibby of Washington State University Extension Service founded a program where volunteers were trained to advise and educate the public about gardening and horticulture. These volunteers, known as Master Gardeners in both the US and Canada, learn about plant pathology, soil health, entomology, sustainable gardening, and other things pertaining to gardening. They are taught by university professors and local experts. In essence, Master Gardeners are taught many areas of gardening and are willing to share what they know as they continue to learn. Several visually challenged Master Gardeners decided, independent of each other, to find ways to help others who are visually challenged or blind gain better gardening ability with their sight limitations. Safety issues and gardening hints were the most discussed items. It is wise to have a whistle, horn or some other device so you can signal others. A phone is a great way to contact someone; keep it in your pocket or gardening apron. Consider having family connection numbers handy. Personal gear such as wrap around sunglasses and/or visors might be wise. Keep hydration in mind, especially during the summer. Two waterproof radios, set on different stations, can allow you to orient yourself in your garden. A fountain or wind chimes might also help with that. Gardening gloves made of Kevlar® can protect your hands from sharp tools or thorny vines. Leather gloves may make it difficult to move your hands, but gloves where only the palms are leather, may help. Wrist or elbow length gloves provide dexterity options. You might choose to have several pairs of different kinds of gardening gloves. Be careful about falling, especially near vine plants. Level pathways with mulch, rocks, or oyster shells for traction. Use different surface textures to orient where you are. Walk with tools parallel to the ground, the point pointing down. Shears or loppers should be closed and locked. Re-purpose leather glove fingers to make cutting edge shields. By installing ropes or fences with colorful end caps you can recognize where you are. Tennis balls on stakes work here! Raised bed corners and edges can have pool noodles attached to protect shins. When mowing, line wheels up against edging. Traffic cones or flags provide destinations to aim for. Use a tool caddy or a deep (5 gallon) bucket to haul your tools, with yellow caution tape, binder twine or braided twine on the handle for easy finding. Long colorful strings of bright pink, white or blue may help because many sight challenged people easily recognize these. A small amount of color may be hard to find, but larger amounts may make it easier. Consider tying tools to your belt so you don’t misplace them. Wishing all of the readers of the Blind Perspective a very joyous and blessed holiday season. It is now “thyme” for me to check my equipment, getting things ready for the next gardening season.
Museums, they can be a fascinating experience of a historical time and place, or a frustrating waste of time for a blind tourist. With my interest in history I’ve had plenty of experience with both types of museums. Last month I was in France, in Normandy, exploring some of the history of the Allied landings during WWII. During that time I visited 4 or 5 museums. Sadly, most of the exhibits were only to be looked at from a distance which, as you can imagine, isn’t great for a blind traveler. Which was why I was so enthralled to visit the Normandy Airborne Museum, where I felt they made the experience more interactive. Not only did I get to explore a WWII glider by touch, both inside and out. But I also got to experience a simulation of what it might have been like for the paratroopers who were the first line combatants. In the airplane, I could hear the crackle of radio transmissions from the cockpit, I could hear and feel the deep thrum of the engines as I walked through the belly of the plane where the paratroopers would have waited to jump. The simulation is reinforced visually as you step out of the plane into an apparently dark night where you can see vague white shapes of the parachutes that have gone before you. Leaving the plane behind you, you are thrust into another simulation. This time of what the paratroopers might have found upon landing in France, with a cacophony of shots and explosions engulfing you. While it’s nowhere near what must have been faced by the paratroopers, the simulation left me profoundly shaken, and with a greater respect for those in the armed forces. Another museum that had a significant impact on me was the Schindler Museum in Krakow, Poland, which I visited a few years ago. I still find it eerie how effectively the atmosphere of WWII Krakow under Nazi rule was recreated in each room of the museum, engaging every sense to create an almost immersive experience for visitors. More disappointing was my visit to the Versailles Palace, the opulent home of French King Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, which is just outside Paris. We were kept well away from any of the historic items, and there were so many people being shuttled through the palace that we couldn’t even use our audio guide to get a sense of the experience. There was no attempt to engage the visitors using anything besides their eyesight. It was frustrating and unpleasant for me. I honestly felt like I was standing in a jostling crowd at a rock concert. Without the compensation of some great music to make it worthwhile. Here’s the thing. A museum that tries to engage all the senses of their visitors is going to give them a far richer and more meaningful experience. If they take the time to add sound, touch and scent to the exhibits, everyone will benefit. And it may turn a previously frustrating museum into a fascinating and inclusive experience for us as visually impaired travelers. Have you been to museums that have made an effort to give visitors an experiential way of engaging with the exhibits? How have they accommodated the needs of visitors who can’t see? I’d love to hear your experiences, so please drop me an e-mail and let me know. Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful Festive Season and, till next year, happy travels!
Some people who have sensitive skin may experience irritation when using undiluted tea tree oil. If your skin is sensitive, it's best to mix tea tree oil with an equal or greater amount of olive oil, coconut oil or almond oil.
Read on to learn more uses and benefits of this versatile oil.
Hand Sanitizer: Using tea tree oil as a natural hand sanitizer may help kill a number of germs responsible for colds, flu and other illnesses.
Hand Sanitizer Recipe
5-10 drops lavender essential oil
30 drops tea tree essential oil (0.5% concentration)
1 Tablespoon witch hazel (found in most drug stores and Amazon)
8 ounces 100% pure aloe Vera gel
¼ teaspoon Vitamin E oil*
Small colored spray bottles
Add essential oils and Vitamin E oil to a small glass bowl or container and swirl to mix.
Add witch hazel to the oils and swirl again.
Combine this mixture with the aloe Vera gel and mix well.
Transfer hand sanitizer to small, clean squirt bottles. Using the colored bottles will protect the oils from being exposed to light.
Shake gently before each use. Sanitizer should last several months with the addition of Vitamin E.
*a natural preservative to increase shelf life, and it will also help soften hands!)
Bug & Mosquito Repellent Spray
20 drops citronella essential oil
20 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lemongrass essential oil
20 drops mint essential oil
1 tablespoon vodka (acts as a preservative)
Add all essential oils to the bottle.
Add the alcohol to the bottle.
Shake before each use. Spray on the parts that bugs/ mosquitos tend to go for, such as the hands, legs, arms, neck; basically, any part that is exposed.
3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
3 Tablespoons Arrow Root Powder or Cornstarch
3 Tablespoons Baking Soda
10-20 Drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
Melt the coconut oil using the double-boiler method.
Once melted, remove from heat, and stir in the remaining ingredients.
Pour the mixture into a small, glass jar or container and let it set for a couple hours.
Apply with fingers.
To disinfect a cut or scrape, follow these steps:
Clean the cut thoroughly with plain soap and water.
Mix one drop of tea tree oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil.
Apply a small amount of the mixture to the injury and cover with a bandage.
Repeat this process once or twice daily until a scab has formed.
Athlete Foot Powder
¼ cup Arrowroot powder or cornstarch
¼ cup baking soda
20 -25 drops of tea tree essential oil
Combine all ingredients, stir and mix well.
Place in a covered container.
Apply to clean, dry feet twice a day.
Extreme cold and dry weather calls for a little extra TLC for . wait for it . your lips. Think about it, we have hats for our heads, gloves for our hands, but what about your lips? Using a lip balm is great, but pay a little closer attention to those lips of yours and use an exfoliant sugar scrub made just for your lips. And, don’t forget to use that lip balm not the chap stick. Chap stick contains alcohol that dries out your lips! One last thing that is good for your lips, and your whole body is drinking water. Water, and more water to keep from feeling dried out from the inside out.
I am starting with yummy warm, glazed cinnamon rolls. They not only will taste great, but your house will smell wonderful!
Overnight Cinnamon Rolls
Prepare these ahead of time and let the rolls proof overnight in the refrigerator so you can relax with your coffee in the morning.
For the dough:
1 Tablespoon (1 package) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105°F)
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
For the vanilla glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 Tablespoons milk
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the dough:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add warm water then sprinkle in the yeast, allow to bloom for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth.
Whisk in 1/2 cup of the flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot, about 30 minutes.
Add the eggs, granulated sugar, salt and the remaining 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture.
Fit the mixer with the dough hook and knead on medium speed until smooth, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the room-temperature butter and continue to knead, adding a little flour to reduce stickiness if needed, until the dough is smooth, 10 to 12 minutes.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Roll out into a 15-by-10-inch rectangle.
Brush the rectangle with half of the melted butter, leaving a 2-inch-wide strip uncovered on one long side.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the butter.
Starting at the long side covered with sugar, roll up the rectangle snugly and pinch the seam together.
With the seam facing down, cut into 10 equal pieces.
Place the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared dish.
Brush the rolls with the remaining butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight.
While the rolls are baking, make the vanilla glaze:
In a small bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, milk and vanilla, then stir into the sugar mixture to form a smooth paste.
Spread the glaze over the warm rolls and serve immediately.
Hash Brown Bake
5 medium potatoes
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1-1/4 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups milk
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) reduced-fat reduced-sodium condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 teaspoon ground mustard
½ teaspoon pepper
Cook whole potatoes in water until half cooked.
Drain and cool.
Peel and shred.
Mix in the onions, and place in a 13x9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Top with 1 cup cheese.
Combine milk, soup, egg, mustard and pepper.
Pour over cheese. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Directions, for the next morning:
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
Bake at 350° for 1 hour.
Uncover and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes longer or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Sausage Cheese Bake
2 slices bread, crust removed and cubed
3 1 pound chorizo sausage (pork, turkey, or chicken, if you prefer)
1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
9 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
Line 13 by 9 inch baking pan with bread cubes.
In skillet, brown sausage in small amount of water; drain.
Once cooled, spoon sausage over bread cubes and sprinkle with cheese.
In bowl, combine eggs, milk, dry mustard and salt.
Pour over casserole, and refrigerate overnight.
Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.
Uncover; bake for 10 minutes longer.
Cut and serve.
Are these three recipes not a fantastic menu for a Sunday brunch/ breakfast? I hope you will try to make at least one of these recipes and share it with your family and friends. Wishing you all the peace, joy, and spirit of the holiday season!