Welcome to The Blind Perspective

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June 2018
Volume 4 Issue 6

Table of Contents

Greetings from the Editor
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
Technically Speaking: Computer Tech101
A Time to Plant
The Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
the Rotating Trio: WindBag
Readers Perspective
Cooking Concoctions
Riddle & Brain Buster


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Greetings from the Editor

By Karen Santiago

Welcome to our June issue of The Blind Perspective!
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. I wanted to share this funny poem I came across, as it reminded me of my childhood and my dad.

Happy Father’s Day.
By Denise Rodgers

You’re the tops.
Your list of good traits never stops.
You’re smart.
You’re strong.
You’re always there to fix a bike or change a spare.
You’re good for laughs and grins and yucks
And could I please have twenty bucks?

I wanted to let you know that I, along with Dan, Carla Jo, Cheryl, Russ, and Teddy will be attending the ACB Convention next month in St. Louis. We will be selling Blind Perspective t shirts at the marketplace on Sunday and Wednesday morning. Please stop by, say hi, and purchase a t shirt. We are looking forward to meeting and chatting with you!

We are now on Twitter, our handle is: @BlindPerspectNL

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

At A Glance: Perkins; Part 1, Help Me, Compound Exercise, Blow Your Mind, Author's Interview, Safety Pins, Adapter, Sound, Containers, Touchy Feely, Menus, Significant Other, Garlic Shrimp Linguini, Riddle & Brain Buster!

Movers & Shakers

the Perkins School for the Blind
By Karen Santiago

Part 1: History & Blind Education

In late April Kevin Hartigan, Director of Volunteer Services and Tours, took me on a wonderful journey through the Perkins School for the Blind. Kevin has worked at Perkins for 33 years, 30 years directly with the students.

We began the tour with the history of Perkins, the oldest school for the blind in the United States.

Dr. John Dix Fisher: One of the founders of Mass General Hospital (Boston, MA), first doctor to ever use the stethoscope in the United States, and first doctor to ever use anesthesia for women during childbirth. While working in Paris, he visited a school for the blind. He saw something in that school that he had never seen in the United States, blind children being children; they were running, playing, laughing, and singing in the classroom. Dr. Fisher decided that this needed to happen in Boston. So, when he returned home he persuaded family and friends he knew had both the means and the conscious to help fund an American version of the Paris school. On March 2, 1829 the Boston legislature incorporated the New England Asylum for the Blind. Two years later Dr. Fisher recruited his friend Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe as the superintendent.

Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe: After visiting the European schools, he felt that they were too protective and focused too narrowly on academics. Dr. Howe wanted to teach everything; athletics, arts, music, and most importantly vocational skills. He hired two teachers and in the summer of 1831 he opened the school in his home.

Within a year the demand grew so high, his house wasn’t big enough. It so happened that one of the men who initially helped fund the school was also one of the richest men in Boston. Therefore, Dr. Howe, not one to be shy, asked him for his mansion to house the school, and he said yes. After eight years, the school outgrew the mansion, and a bigger place was needed.

Dr. Howe found a hotel that was for sale, he just needed the money. He again went to the owner of the big mansion. Dr. Howe asked him to sell the mansion and give him the money to purchase the hotel for the school. The rich man once again said yes. The Mount Washington Hotel, located in South Boston remained the school’s location for 73 years. Thankful for his sustained generosity, the school renamed itself The Perkins Institute for the Blind, after the rich man, Thomas Perkins.

The Perkins School for the Blind moved to its present location, Watertown, Massachusetts in 1912. There is now a total of 33 buildings on this spacious campus. I began my tour in the Howe building, named after Dr. Samuel Howe who was acting director for 45 years.

One of the first things Dr. Howe did was to create a system of reading for the blind called Boston’s Line Print. This consisted of raised line letters, excluding capital letters. A printing press was made and books were then made for the students to read. In addition to its difficulty and slowness to read, one challenge since it was made by a printing press was how would they teach writing.

In the classroom, every student was given a wooden frame which had lines in it. They also received a box with letters made of metal. Students would then fit the letters on the frame with other letters to create words, sentences, and paragraphs. This is how the concept of writing was taught. I tried this and it was not easy!

Once students developed the ability to build letters into words, then they were taught to write. The Perkins method of writing was to use all straight lines. For example, the letter o was not a circle, but rather a square. To organize the page so that the lines were straight, and that one doesn’t write on what they already wrote, students were given writing guides. The paper would be inserted into the guide and students could then write on the line. However, there were four trouble makers, the letters g, p, q, and y because they fell below the line. This problem was remedied in the creation of the guide by simply pushing the line down to complete those letters. When the entire line was completed, students would open the guide and slide it down to the next ridge, and so on. This writing guide was from 1890.

When braille was first introduced, the Perkins School didn’t like it. Their philosophy was to always treat a blind person exactly the same as a sighted person. In addition, they saw braille as separating the blind world from the sighted world. Philosophically their reasoning made sense, but practically braille was much faster, efficient, and easier to write. So, eventually Perkins fell in line behind everyone else and accepted braille, and became the makers of the Perkins Brailler.

The original Perkins Brailler was produced in 1951. It has remained the most widely use mechanical braille writer in the world. This durable metal case writer has a key that corresponds to each of the six dots of the braille code. It also has a space key, a backspace key, and a line space key. Similar to a manual typewriter, it has two side knobs to advance the paper, and a carriage return lever.

In 2014 Perkins released the Smart Brailler. This is a regular mechanical Perkins brailler, made of plastic, and with a computer built in. It has a speaker that provides text to speech feedback. As the user is writing braille on the paper, what they are writing appears on the screen, and a sighted person can read along.

Then I had the experience of learning and touching the most important artifact in the Perkins museum. This being the tactile globe that was made in 1837! It is made from 700 pieces of wood that were glued together. The Continents were added in plaster afterwards. It is no longer used in the classrooms since it is not tremendously accurate.

In 1837 the United States only went out to the Mississippi River. Therefore, they painted the rest of the US to please the sighted people. However, none of the tactile features have ever been changed. The important thing about the globe is who touched it; Helen Keller, Anne Sullivan, Charles Dickens, JFK, George H W Bush, and many other famous and well-known individuals. I too, delighted in feeling my way around the world on this impressive tactile globe.

Stay tuned for next month’s article when I write about three important women at the Perkins School for the Blind.

International Perspective

By Karen Santiago

I would like to thank all the readers who have recently contacted me with their interest in sharing their stories about life in their country as a blind person. The International Perspective segment is taking the month of June, July, and August off. However, all of those who have contacted me, your articles will be published after the summer break.

In addition, if there are others who would like to write about life in their country, just send me an email at my address listed above. Please read below all the countries I have covered so far.

Algeria, Australia, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Iraq, Israel, Macedonia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, Southern China, Soviet Union, Spain, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.
Canada (Eastern, Central, & Western)
United States (Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, and Wyoming)

So, if your country is not listed above why not send me an email and I can work with you to write up an informative and entertaining article about life in your country. After the break we will hear about life in Guyana, Sweden, Zimbabwe, and Northern China. Again, thanks to all of those who have shared their experiences and knowledge about life as a blind person in their home country!

Exercise, does a body good

By Dan Kiely

Welcome back to another issue of Exercise Does A Body Good. In this issue I focus on compound exercise.

Compound exercise equals compounded results. You will get more results in less time. By performing compound exercises, it will result in less time working out.

What is compound exercise?
It usually involves movement of more than one joint and muscle group. In other words, we are going to work both the upper and lower body at the same time.

Equipment needed: A barbell, dumb bells, or just your own body weight.

Exercise 1: Dead Lift, relatively easy to do
Equipment: Barbell
Muscles Involved: Quads, hamstrings, glutes, the gluteus, the latissimus dorsi (back muscles), the trapezius (back muscles), the deltoids (shoulders), and the abdomen muscles. Starting Position: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees softly bent, abdomen tucked in or slightly contracted, and head up. Grab the bar with one hand in an overhanded grip, and the other in an underhanded grip, shoulder width apart. Bend forward at the hip.
Movement: From the bent forward position, lift your body up to a standing position, arms remaining straight and at your sides. Repeat by lowering and returning to the standup position.
Breathing: When lifting into a standing position breathe out, and when lowering the bar breathe in
Repetitions: I recommend 10 to 15 reps, doing 3 sets
Weights: How much weight is up to you. I recommend using light weights and ease into heavier weights

Exercise 2: Squats and Overhead Press
Equipment: barbell
Muscles involved: Quads, hamstrings, gluteus, abdominals, deltoids, and trapezius
Starting Position: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, stomach slightly tucked in, and head up and forward. Grab the barbell with an overhanded grip, about shoulder width apart. Let the barbell rest on your shoulders and clavicle (collar bone).
Movement: Lower your butt down to a sitting position. Then come up to a standing position while raising the barbell straight upwards. Return the barbell to your shoulders and repeat movement. Breathing: Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up.
Repetitions: Do 3 sets of 15 reps
Weights: I recommend using a light weight or no weight until you get the hang of the movement

Exercise 3: Squats with Front Arm Raise
Equipment: dumb Bells
Muscles Involved: Same as in exercise 2
Starting Position: Stand with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, stomach slightly tucked in, and head up and forward. Grab the dumb bells in an overhanded grip, and have at your sides.
Movement: Lower your butt into a sitting position. At the same time, raise the dumb bells straight up at shoulder’s height, with palms facing down. Then come to a standing position and lower the dumb bells back to your sides. Repeat.
Breathing: Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up
Repetitions: 3 sets of 15 reps
Weights: Light weights (you can always increase the weight as you progress)

Exercise 4: Squats with Arm Curls
Equipment: Dumb bells
Muscles Involved: Same as above Starting Position: Same as exercise #3.
Movement: Lower your butt into a sitting position. then when coming up into a standing position, curl the dumb bells up towards your shoulders, using the palms facing up or the neutral grip, palms facing each other. Then lower your butt down into a sitting position and at the same time lower your dumb bells to your sides.
Breathing: Inhale on the way down and exhale on the way up
Repetitions: 3 sets of 15
Weights: Light weights (you can always increase the weight as you progress)

There are other compound exercises, such as the dips, the abdominals bicycle, and lunges, just to name a few. Start out slow, get to feel the movement, and breathe.
Health Tip:
Since many people have trouble sleeping, here are some tips for a better night’s sleep.
Stick to a sleep schedule of the same bedtime and wake up time, even on the weekends.
Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual.
If you have trouble sleeping, avoid naps, especially in the afternoon.
Exercise daily.
Evaluate your room; turn off all electronics.
Sleep on a comfortable bed, and in a room more cool than warm.
Good luck, and good sleeping!

Have I Got A Story For You

By Carla Jo Bratton

Hot Dang Readers! It’s finally summer!
At least it is here in Texas! Summer books abound! Do you have a summer read you are looking forward to? Let me hear about it! Share the summer fun!

This month it’s all about blowing your mind! Books that had you so twisted up, reading faster and faster and when it is over, you stood there and said, “What just Happened?”.

A book that has stuck with you over time. Here are a couple of books and a list of readers suggestions for brain tangling stories.

Shutter Island
Written by Dennis Lehane
Reading time: 9 hours and 38 minutes
RNIB number; TB17581
CNIB number; DA38753

Summer, 1954. U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels has come to Shutter Island, home of Ashecliffe Hospital for the criminally insane. Along with his partner, Chuck Aule, he sets out to find an escaped patient, a murderess named Rachel Solando, as a hurricane bears down upon them.

But nothing at Ashecliffe Hospital is what it seems. Is he there to find a missing patient? Or has he been sent to look into rumors of Ashecliffe's radical approach to psychiatry; an approach that may include drug experimentation, hideous surgical trials, and lethal countermoves in the shadow war against Soviet brainwashing, or is there another, more personal reason why he has come there?

As the investigation deepens, the questions only mount. The closer Teddy and Chuck get to the truth, the more elusive it becomes, and the more they begin to believe that they may never leave Shutter Island because someone is trying to drive them insane. This one has strong language.

My comments; I was all over the map with this one. I still am not sure of the ending, it could be this, or it could have been that. A nail biter for sure.

Gone Girl
Written by Gillian Flynn
Reading time: 19 hours and 11 minutes
DB 74888
Cela or CNIB number; DA45572
RNIB number; TB 20316

Marriage can be a real killer. One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times best seller Gillian Flynn, takes that statement to its darkest place in this unpausable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work "draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction." Gone Girl's toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne's fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick's clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn't doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife's head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge.

Under mounting pressure from the police and the media - as well as Amy's fiercely doting parents - the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he's definitely bitter - but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn't do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around. This one has strong language, some violence, and some explicit descriptions of sex.

My comments; I loved this one. Flynn is an amazing writer. This one was made into a movie. I had read it, husband Scott had not. We saw the movie. I used the headphones with the audio description. When we got in the car, he looked at me and said, “Are you kidding me? That’s the way it ends?”. Mind blown. My best friend Mary read it, called me when she finished and said the same thing. Anything by Gillian Flynn will be worth your time, but this one is really a wild ride.

I asked for books that fell into this category and here is what some friends had to say; Amanda loved The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and from Victoria, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. Husband Scott said, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Angela recommends, The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena and Buddy from Miami Manitoba Canada liked Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West.

As always, I love hearing from you, and remember, life is too short to read a book you aren’t enjoying. Put it down and move on!
Happy Summer Reading Y’all!
Carla jo

The Braille Highway

By Nat Armeni

Happy June to all!
I was excited knowing that for my June segment I would be finding out about Cheryl’s experience and opinions with that wonderful invention by Louis Braille. Cheryl is the author of Spencer’s Spotlight and she always has an interesting item to spotlight for her segment. I also need to publicly thank Cheryl for suggesting that I contact my fellow writers and see who uses braille, and what their thoughts, preferences, and experiences are.

As per usual I invite you to email me suggestions, opinions, and constructive criticisms at the email mentioned at the top of this segment. Without any further delay, please read below the replies from Cheryl Spencer.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Texas. My Father was in the army so we moved around a bit. I am the youngest of five children, 2 brothers, 2 sisters. I live in Jacksonville, Florida and have been here since 1977.
I had 20/20 corrected vision until the age of about 14. I had an inflammation of the eyes which was misdiagnosed as having blocked tear ducts when, in actuality I had conjunctivitis. By the time I was 15, I could no longer pass the eye test to get my learners permit. 40 some odd surgeries later, I was totally blind because of photophobia. Long drawn out story here. Suffice to say, I lost and got my sight back 5 times before it became permanent in 1981. I have been total since.

Q: when did you learn braille?
I learned braille when I went back to High School after having to quit public school in my Junior year, at the Alabama School for The Blind in Talladega. I took two braille classes a day, 5 days a week. Within two and a half months I learned braille, grade 2 braille, and nemith code.

Q: Have you learned Unified English Braille (UEB)?
I have not tackled UEB yet, but I have the book on it. I am sort of attached to my conventional braille. I will slowly integrate into UEB braille as I go along, let’s see how that works. It took me a long time to figure out computer braille.

Q: When you produce braille which methods do you use?
I learned braille on a slate and stylus, so I always have one close at hand. I also had the Braille and Speak, which I think was ahead of its time, it was a wonderful machine. I use a braille writer, which comes in handy for labeling my snail mail. I can write braille directly on the envelope or I use an index card and write what the mail is about. I have had the Braille Note, the Braille Sense and now the Braille Sense Mini U 2. I also invested in a 6 Dot Label Maker, which I absolutely love. I have a notebook with all my important information in it using these labels.

Q: When you read braille which methods do you use?
Sadly, I do not read braille for recreational purposes. I learned braille late in life and read slowly. I mostly read the labels I write and use. I have my Braille Sense at work to take notes, and write the phone numbers I need.

Q: Do you use braille at home and/ or at work?
I use braille both at home and at work. It is just part of my everyday routine. My daily vitamins are even labeled in braille.

Q: Give a detailed description of how braille impacts your life.
As I stated above, I label my important mail, file folders, vitamins, user names and passwords, and the list goes on. When I play games on the chat sites, I can make teams using my Braille Sense, and when I am a clue giver for Password, all my clues are done in braille.

Q: In your city do you have access to braille?
Braille is very present in my city. My office has braille numbers on all the offices, and the restrooms are labeled. Most of the elevators have braille and raised numbers. Some restaurants have braille menus.

Q: Do you have any braille games?
I have a braille Scrabble game, and my late husband and I used to play all the time. I have playing cards, and Uno cards so I can play with my family and friends. I also have a braille Monopoly game my sister gave me years ago.

Q: As a braille user, what would you say to a blind person who does not know braille to encourage them to learn it?
I am always encouraging my friends to learn braille by telling them how much it will improve their independence. It is among one of the most important tools you will ever have in your toolbox!

Q: Do you have any cute or novel story to relay that either you or someone else has done with braille?
After I completed my braille course in school, I was so excited to go back to the dorm room and begin reading my braille book. I opened the book and found the beginning and no matter how hard I tried, I could not figure out one single word. I was really upset! I was about to panic. I was walking around the room in total meltdown. After I calmed down I went back and picked up the book again and then realized, I had had the book upside down. I was so relieved, and I began recognizing the braille I had just learned.

Q: What are your opinions of braille?
I love braille!! I think it is one of the most important things I have ever learned as a blind person.

Thank you, Cheryl, for taking the time and effort to fill out this Q&A for me!
Braille users do it with feelings! Why complicate your life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille? A friendly reminder to stay on the dotted line of life!
Until we speak again in July, stay safe.

Kaleidoscope of Krafts

By Lindy van der Merwe

Hello and welcome again to all crafters!

It occurred to me again recently that some of the practical items we use in our daily lives, and probably don’t even think about, can be some of the best materials when it comes to crafting. Things like rubber bands, paper plates and plastic straws come to mind, and there are indeed lots of crafts to do with these. But one of the most interesting crafts I came across wile scouring craft sites was various crafts using safety pins.

As Sherri Osborn states in a recent article: on spruicecrafts.com: "Safety pin jewelry doesn't sound super sophisticated, but even the high fashion world has embraced the trend. For years, safety pins have cycled in and out of style, which makes them an accessory staple. Fortunately, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on a couture version of the look, nor do you have to go bare bones with safety pins like the punk rockers who sported them in the 1970s and '80s did. They make great gifts for tweens and teens or for the adult who's perpetually young at heart."

Safety pins are normally made of metal, but they are also available in different colors, or you could color them yourself using nail polish. Most safety pin crafts center around creating jewelry such as bracelets, necklaces or earrings, combining safety pins with elastic, ribbon or fabric and beads or sequence.

Another type of craft involves pins, or broaches that are created by threading seed beads onto small safety pins, and then letting those pins dangle vertically from a larger safety pin that can be worn on clothing like jeans and shirts, or attached to handbags, school bags and cushions. By following a pattern of alternating colors of beads, a specific design or picture can be formed. The supply list for safety pin jewelry is pretty simple. In addition to the pins and the beads, it is helpful to have needle-nose pliers and a small flat-head screwdriver.

The number and size of safety pins you'll need depends not only on the pattern you choose but also on the kind of jewelry you want to make.

These handy little pins, mainly used in the not too distant past to secure cloth diapers, are available from most stores and can be bought in different sizes and quantities for fairly cheap. Various types of Small beads are available, made from plastic, wood, glass, crystal, clay, metal, etc.

Our first project is a beaded heart broach or pin. For this type of project, you will require 1 large safety pin and 11 small pins.
The second project, a simple safety pin bracelet, uses pins, beads and some elastic to hold the pins together.

Project 1: Beaded Heart Broach
Materials Needed:
One larger safety pin (pattern here calls for size #2)
11 smaller safety pins
Flat-headed screwdriver
Seed beads in white and red

Step 1: Open the coiled end of your large safety pin by wedging the flat head of the screwdriver in between the safety pin loop at the bottom of the pin. Once inserted, twist the screwdriver to pry the loop open a little.
The goal is to be able to have enough room to allow each little safety pin to be threaded through this loop to the other side. This way, when you wear the pin, none of the pins will slide off.
Set the large safety pin aside for now.

Step 2: Complete the beaded heart pattern by loading seed beads onto your 11 smaller pins by following the bead pattern below.
You will be alternating between red and white beads, so make sure to keep your colors separated at all times. You might find it helpful to keep beads in a container marked with braille or large print, or in two containers that are different in size or shape.
Remember that not all beads are shaped perfectly, so discard beads that are misshapen or those with openings too small to fit onto your pins.
As you complete each small pin, close it and slide the coiled loop at the end of each pin onto the large safety pin, around the coil you have opened, all the way to the other side of the pin, before going on to the next one.

Heart Pattern
Pin 1: 8 white
Pin 2: 8 white
Pin 3: 2 white, 3 red, 3 white
Pin 4: 1 white, 4 red, 3 white
Pin 5: 2 white, 4 red, 2 white
Pin 6: 3 white, 4 red, 1 white
Pin 7: 2 white, 4 red, 2 white
Pin 8: 1 white, 4 red, 3 white
Pin 9: 2 white, 3 red, 3 white
Pin 10: 8 white
Pin 11: 8 white

Step 3: When you are all done, use some pliers to scrunch down the big safety pin's loop tight again.

For more patterns like these, see the last link under "Sources" below.

Project 2: Simple Safety Pin Bracelet
Materials Needed:
Size 2 Safety Pins (about 25 for a small bracelet, 30 for a larger bracelet)
NOTE: smaller safety pins could be used, but you also will need to use smaller beads)
beads of your choice (experiment with glass, wood, pony beads, etc.)
Elastic bead cord
Super glue

Step 1: Begin by threading beads onto each safety pin. Use one color or vary your patterns by using different colors or types of beads.
Step 2: If using different colors, place your pins down next to each other as you finish them so they will remain in the correct order as you would like them to be in the finished bracelet. You could also hang the pins on a wire, knitting needle or any thin dowel while you are completing threading the beads so they will remain in the correct order.
Step 3: Using the elastic cording, begin to thread the cord through the bottom loop of each safety pin. You could thread a double stranded elastic cord for more durability.
Step 4: Next, thread another length of elastic cording through the little hole that is in the head of each safety pin.
Step 5: Holding on to the ends of the elastic cording, gently flip the beaded bracelet craft over, and curve them around in a bracelet shape, and tie the ends of the elastic cording to each other to make a square knot, then double knot again. It is a good idea to put a drop of super glue on the knot to help secure it.
Snip off the ends of the elastic cording and the beaded bracelet craft is ready to wear or give as a gift.

Until next time, happy crafting!


Spencer's Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer

This month's subject has been prompted by a conversation I had with a friend getting an iPhone 7. There is no headset jack on this phone. So, hmm, how do I listen privately without holding this rather large phone to my head to have a private conversation?

Well, there are several options, there are Bluetooth headsets of varying styles and shapes from which to choose. There are Air Pods, if your wallet is fairly thick. The problem I have with these options is that they all need to be charged and recharged. I am not a big fan of the rechargeable headsets. Some of them are so small you have to be extremely careful about where you set them down. I can speak with experience about this, I never did find a Bluetooth headset I absolutely loved.

Since then, I have revisited the idea of going back to the good old wired headset with a microphone built into the cord. They are fairly inexpensive and the sound quality can be rather good. This brings me back to the iPhone 7. If you are like me and you do not want to shell out lots of money on these Bluetooth headsets that can be easily lost, dropped, or have to wait while it recharges to use it, then this is your solution.

An adaptor can be found at several places now that changes your lightning port into a headset jack. You can find the adapter at Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Amazon, and most any place that sells electronics and accessories. It cost around 10 dollars.

There is also a splitter version that allows for charging the phone while you listen to a book, music, or talk on the phone. The only down side to this option is that you have to keep it plugged in all the time or there is another small cord in which to keep track. In any case, like our sighted counterparts, we, also, have lots and lots of choices.

Computer Tech101

By Jim Morgan

In response to a reader’s suggestion and partly because of an experience I had in Piza, Italy, I will be discussing sound or, more specifically, how we get sound from the computer. In other words, speakers, headphones/headsets, helmets, etc. As with other pieces of equipment, I’m not going to talk about specific types of equipment since, like most things, there is user preference involved. I will focus on what to look for so that you can make your own decisions on what might work best for you.

The first thing to consider is, believe it or not, quality. Believe me when I say that a cheap, and I don’t necessarily mean inexpensive, set of speakers, headphones/headset, etc. is going to sound cheap and, consequently, you probably won’t be happy with them over time. In addition, you might have difficulty understanding speech as well as the fact that music will probably sound like it did on the old A M car radios; in other words, it won’t sound good. Unfortunately, that old adage “You get what you pay for” is true when it comes to this kind of equipment.

The next concern is Frequency Response, or Frequency Range. As you might deduce from the word “Range” in the name, this means the range of sound frequencies that the equipment will produce. For comparison purposes, the human ear can hear between 20 and 20,000 Hertz. Most of us, really don’t perceive anything as low as 20 hertz and the pain threshold for most is well before 20,000 hertz. However, the wider the range on your equipment, obviously, the more sound you’re going to get. One thing to look for is “Digital Ready”, or just plain “Digital: in the specifications of the equipment you’re looking at. By definition, this means that the equipment will handle the wide frequency range that Digital sounds, particularly music, need to be their best. Also, in most cases, a subwoofer, usually with regard to speaker systems, is desirable for listening to music. Just in case you don’t know, it is a third, fifth, or sixth speaker, dependent upon your system, that sits out of the way someplace and provides only low frequency sounds. Because of the way the human ear determines directions of sounds, you can put a subwoofer anywhere and it won’t matter; mine is on the floor under my desk. The benefit of a subwoofer is that low sounds, such as the bass in music, have a much greater richness and take some of the load off the “main” speakers. For example, I have a 3-piece system connected to my computer. The main speakers sit on either side of the monitor and the subwoofer is, as I said, on the floor. I can get good sound out of this and speech sounds good, as well.

The next thing only affects speaker systems since it really applies to output volume, and most headphones, headsets, earbuds, etc. have no “power” to use when reproducing sound; it’s dependent on the device “playing” the sounds. What I’m talking about is referred to as Wattage. What this refers to is the amount of power in each separate channel that the equipment uses for sound reproduction. As you would expect, the higher the wattage, the louder a set of speakers can operate and the more power they’ll use to do so. The first stereos only really had 2 channels but, with Digital sounds, there are several channels used. I have generally found that, for most computers, a watts per channel of somewhere between 30 and 50 seems to work well. Although if you’re planning on using your computer as your stereo, and want to fill a room(s) with sound, you will probably want a higher wattage, if possible. The principle is similar to the size of an engine in a particular type of car. If you have a big car and a little engine, the engine is going to have to work harder than it should. Conversely, if you have a big engine in a little car, the car won’t perform as well because there is too much power for its’ size. If you want to get equipment with a big power rating, and you just plan to use it with your computer, it won’t hurt, but you will probably end up spending more than you want for the equipment in question.

Lastly, and most importantly, is comfort. Of course, if the equipment isn’t comfortable to wear, or use, you won’t use it. One problem with some helmets, and headphones/headsets, is that if the fit isn’t right they will be uncomfortable, possibly even painful, to wear and you won’t get the best performance from them since they won’t be in the best position for your ears to make use of them. I personally like headphones/headsets that sit against the ear and are about as wide as the ear but do not cover it. The problem I’ve found with over the ear equipment is that your ears get hot and sweaty after prolonged usage. Also, I don’t like the earbuds because I find them uncomfortable after long periods. As I said, this is the most important thing since, if you don’t like the equipment, you won’t use it. After all, the best equipment on the market is useless if you are not using it. As with most other things, it comes down to your preferences; there are many brands and models on the market with a wide price range. However, if you have something that works for you, stick with it. For the most part, the technology has not really changed since the CD came out and Digital Music was born.

If you have any questions about this or any other topic, please send me a message and I will be happy to try to answer it. You can reach me at my email address located at the beginning of this article.
Happy Computing!

A Time to Plant

By Sue Brasel

When considering containers to put plants in, there are many choices. Which will be best for you?

The size of the container will depend on the size of the plant(s). Most times, you will want space for the roots to spread. If there is not enough spread space, the roots bind to the sides, and out those drainage holes. In a garden, plants can spread, and are not bound by space.

The shape of the container is up to you. Conventional containers can be found in many locations. Repurposing of objects allows your creativity to shine when your plants are in unique containers! Make sure your containers have adequate drainage holes.

Clay pots, known as terra cotta, are medium priced. They draw moisture from the potting soil, and often have limited drainage available. Many are quite attractive. They are heavy enough to not tip over easily.
Inexpensive plastic containers are lightweight, often with more drainage holes than other materials. They help retain moisture. Because these are manmade, their toxins may affect your food plants. Generally, their lifespan is no longer than a few growing seasons.
Metal containers retain heat and are usually medium priced. They can be decorative, and look whimsical when plants spill over the sides. They are resistant to breakage, chipping and cracking.
Stone containers are solid, last a long time and tend to insulate well. They withstand windy conditions.
Fabric containers, also known as grow bags, are lightweight, can easily be transported, and are inexpensive. Plant roots get air circulation, so don’t easily get root bound.

Depending on your growing conditions, these containers can meet many of your plant needs. I have many kinds of containers, some are on tables and windowsills, others are hanging baskets.

Check your plants frequently, making sure they have their watering needs met and stay healthy looking.

It is thyme for me to get back to gardening!

the Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently

By Lois Strachan

Last time I took you on a sensory journey of the Buqueria Market in Barcelona, Spain to show how I use my remaining senses to create a picture of a place when I’m traveling. Today we’re going to leave Barcelona and travel across Europe to Poland for another brief sensory experience, in a salt min.

It was with a sense of awe that I traced my fingertips round the three-dimensional image of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, “The Last Supper” carved into the rock salt face of a vast cavern in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow, Poland. The salt carving is just one of the many artworks and statues you experience in this remarkable historic site, which includes spectacularly carved rooms, 4 chapels and an underground lake. I totally understand why we’re usually not allowed to feel famous artworks, not only are they susceptible to damage, but I question how much I’d be able to feel from a mostly flat painting. But here, in a vast cavern almost 400 feet below ground level, I was able to gain a real sense of the masterpiece using my sense of touch. And the experience was incredible.

Knowing how important touch is to us, whether to identify objects, read braille, or trace our way round familiar places, it’s not surprising that touch plays an important role in helping me interpret places I visit as a blind tourist. I’ve had the opportunity of feeling some truly historic items, the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, the ancient standing stone circle at Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in UK, and ancient marble statues and friezes from the fourth, fifth, and sixth century BCE on a tactile tour of the Archeological Museum in Athens, Greece.

But let’s go back to the salt mine in Poland.
My awe when encountering the carving of da Vinci’s masterpiece was by no means the only feeling during my visit to the salt mine. There was the bone weariness of trudging down 380 wooden spiral steps to start the tour. There was the incredulity of what generations of miners had achieved, mostly by hand, since the mine was founded in the 1300’s. In my mind’s eye I could almost feel what life might have been like for the miners slowly and painstakingly mining the salt rock and creating the vast caverns I was walking through, hearing the sounds of picks plunging into rock, of shovels collecting the precious salt pieces and the sound of the horses as they patiently waited to cart the salt away for it to be hoisted above ground. The constant awareness that I was merely an insignificant entity over 400 feet below the ground, and a vague concern that maybe, just maybe the ground above me might collapse (have I mentioned I’m a little claustrophobic?). But above all was the sense of wonder at the magnificence and beauty that humans had created from this seemingly barren place.
Now, some of you may be thinking I have a rather over-active imagination. And perhaps you’re right, since you’re not the first to say so. But my sense of imagination, of being able to imagine myself into the time and place of the people living in a historic site adds to my experience of going there. I try to research the places I’m going to visit so their story can provide a framework within which my other senses can fill in the gaps, the texture and colour of my mental picture, so to speak.

And that’s how I use all my other senses to build an idea of a place I’m visiting as a blind tourist. Next time I want to look at some of the nuts and bolts of how I prepare to travel, I’d love to hear some of your tips, so please mail them to me at the above address.

By the time you read this I’ll be off on my next #TheBlindTourist adventure – this time a trip to Berlin, Germany and a road trip back to Krakow, Poland.
So, till next time, happy travels!

The Rotating Trio: WindBag

By Blow Hard

Menu Browsing and Smart Ordering

Note that I have lived in Arizona and Oklahoma, so the eating establishments I mention may or may not be in your area. If they aren't, I feel so sorry for you!

A problem has cropped up just about each time that blind people are among a group of diners at a restaurant. That is, as we all know, how to choose from the printed menu we are usually given. To us, the pages are blank.

Now, though, a lot of restaurants have online menus that we can browse before going to eat, or we can use our smart phones to browse along with those we eat with. There is also a trend toward apps to place and pay for our meals using a smart phone. A note on this option is at the end of this short article.

Quite a number of online menus are accessible to screen readers, although they are not quite like reading a printed menu. For example, prices change, so may not be shown on a website. This is so that changes to the online menu don't have to be made very often. Also, newer items may not appear. You use links to look at only what you might be interested in, just like browsing a shopping site. Links take you to other lists of links to the description of items of interest. As an example, use your screen reader and browse the Texas Roadhouse menu. To find the menu, do a Google search. There is a link to Appetizers. There is one to sides. There are links to the really good stuff, steaks and ribs. My preference is showing here, as you can tell. I am a carnivore! Using a link, check out one of my favorites; the 28 ounce T-bone steak!

These online menus will work with Windows Explorer and, for users of iDevices, Safari. You can, at least, get an idea of what they offer. As with brailled menus, which are my preference overall, they may not be as current as the printed menus our fellow food munchers are using.

As for apps for browsing, ordering, and paying, I have found that most aren't Voice-Over friendly, although they are slowly getting there. The What-a-burger app, for example, shows a chop house burger that is no longer available. Darn, it sounded good, too. Whether using an online menu, an app, or a brailled menu, be sure to ask your server what items have changed since the last update. If they know, so much the better. But at least you've got an idea of what you're in the mood for, and you might be surprised by something you didn't know they offered, and then you may change your mind.

Reader's Perspective

I received only two responses to our last question; Do you prefer a blind or sighted partner, and if so, why?

Margaret tells of her experiences:
“I have had both a sighted and a blind spouse. When my vision was low, I was married to a sighted person. He knew of my poor vision from the start. He and I both grew accustomed to, and adjusted to my rapidly poor vision. He passed away and 7 years later I married my current husband who happens to be blind. I never sought out to find someone who was either sighted or blind, it just happened. My experiences were different with each husband, not because one could see and the other one couldn’t, but because they were two different people.”

Here is what Stephen wrote in:
“I am 42 years old and I was born totally blind. I have been “drawn” to other low vision/blind women. I think it is due to my being around more blind people than sighted ones. I feel that being with someone who has low vision, or who is blind understands me better.”

If you have a question you would like me to pose to the readers, please send it to the email address above.

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine

Garlic Shrimp Linguini
This is one of my favorite meals! It is delicious, and quick and easy to make.

1 pound uncooked linguini
1 Tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons white wine
2 Teaspoons grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Half a lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
1 pound medium shrimp peeled and deveined

1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.
2. Add pasta and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or till al dente, drain.
3. In a large saucepan, melt butter and oil over medium low heat, add wine, cheese, garlic, parsley, juice from a half of a lemon, and salt & pepper to taste.
4. Simmer over low heat 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Increase heat to medium high and add shrimp, cook 3 to 4 minutes, until pink; do not overcook.
6. Add hot linguini to the pan and gently toss to coat.
Serve and top with grated parmesan cheese and / or parsley.

Omit the shrimp and just eat as a pasta dish
Use thinly sliced chicken instead of shrimp, and add 2 to 3 more minutes to the cooking time
Add snap peas and sun-dried tomatoes for added crunch and flavor

Riddle & Brain Buster

By Alex Smart


What food lives at the beach?

Answer to May’s riddle
I am a word of six; my first three letters refer to an automobile; my last three letters refer to a household animal; my first four letters is a fish; my whole is found in your room. What am I?

Brain Buster

Too Do
Every answer is a two syllable word, name, or phrase in which each syllable ends with the sound, oo.
Example: sound of crying; boo hoo.

*Crazy, or a kind of clock.
*Black magic.
*Popular chocolate soft drink.
*toy train.
*Completely loyal.
*Kind of eyes lovers make.
*Kind of platter at a Polynesian restaurant.
*Rock group led by Bono.

Answers to May’s brain buster
End to End
The Lone Ranger’s faithful friend: Tonto.
Car from Sweden: volvo.
Molten rock under the earth’s surface: magma.
Popular Florida city: Miami.
It can bring a tear to your eye: onion.
Place of worship: church.
Lively Latin American music: salsa.

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