Welcome to The Blind Perspective

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November 2018

Volume 4; Issue 11

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
APPetizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice
A Time to Plant
The Alternating Duo: Here's to your Health
the Rotating Trio: Potpourri
Cooking Concoctions
Riddle & Brain Buster


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Greetings from the Editor

By Karen Santiago

Welcome to the November edition of The Blind Perspective!
I want to share a link to our Blind Perspective facebook group, where you can post comments, pose a question to an author, suggest a topic, and read comments from the writers. Check it out at: www.facebook.com/Blind Perspective Group

Readers, if you have any holiday gift ideas, please email them to me, and I will share them next month. Email me at: Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com

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

At A Glance: MaryKay & BlindMice Megamall, Blind Mice Megamall, Zimbabwe, Exercise Machines, 2 reviews + A Recommendations, Maxine Interview, Advent, Audio Memories, iOS 12, Watering, Basics, Fourth quarter, Apples, Riddle & Brain Buster, & Classified!

Sponsors of the Month

Mary Kay

I am Christy, a MaryKay Independent Beauty Consultant. Since becoming a consultant, I have been finding more and more ladies that feel the way I have felt with similar stories as mine. Growing up as a visually impaired person, what am I missing in the world of cosmetics or just skin care products?

No one ever thought to mention to me or show me how to use skin products or make up. Growing up all my friends dressed up put on makeup and (mostly from fear to ask them to help me learn) so I just chalked it up to a stupid sighted thing that didn’t matter. Mainly because I did not understand how it worked or how it could make me feel.

As I have gotten older, I have tried many things like many of you may have done or are doing. I like to say I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I have been a part of a nonprofit for blind sports, participated in many sports from goalball to full marathon, play with assistive technology, and little of this and a little of that.

I am a mother and wife and a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant! With this I have been practicing how to put on makeup and show others how to apply makeup. I love to work with the skin care, and help with ideas on labeling items to make sure you keep them straight. If color is not your thing that is fine, but I am confident that everyone likes smooth and soft skin.

The holidays are also coming up and I can assist with gifts too! If you are interested in any of the MaryKay things I have mentioned or have any questions, please email me at: Christy.Aray@MaryKay.com

VIP 3000 Talking Thermostat

Take Control of The Temperature In Your Home!
The accessible VIP 3000 Talking Thermostat is a universal heating - cooling talking thermostat designed specifically for persons who are blind or have low vision. The VIP 3000 can control most Gas, Oil and Electric 24 Vac Heating and Air Conditioning Systems including the newest multi-stage (up to 3 stages of heat and 2 stages of cooling) furnaces, air conditioners and heat pump systems.

specifically designed to offer audio playback of indoor temperature, temperature settings and programming instructions so blind and visually impaired users can precisely and easily manage their indoor comfort.

Everything that is shown on the LCD display is also spoken.
built-in voice instructions.
Programmable (setback) or non-programmable (manual) operation.
built in freeze protection.
Please Note: Not designed to work with high voltage electric baseboard systems or high voltage electric wall heaters.
Free Shipping on all U.S. orders!
Sorry, international shipping is not available.
Fall Special: 187 dollars & Free Shipping*

Use this link for more information or to order the VIP 3000: www.BlindMiceMegamall.com
(Please Paste Link In Browser If It Does Not Open)
Have questions? Want to Order?
You Can Also Call 713 893-7277 (M-F 9 am - 4 pm CST)

Ultimate Tech Mods

Offering memory card upgrades for all 2nd Generation Stream Devices.
* Increase available storage
* Decrease Start-Up time
* Repair a non-working 2nd Generation Stream

If the internal memory has been corrupted, replacing the old memory card with one of our Upgrades will most likely correct the problem.

* Upgrading your 2nd Generation Stream is easy!
* US and International orders welcome!
* Free Shipping

For More Information, Please Visit Our Store in BlindMiceMegaMall: www.blindmicemegamall.com/bmm/shop
Phone: 713 893 7277 (9 am 4 pm CST)

Movers & Shakers

Blind Mice MegaMmall
By Karen Santiago

Once upon a time there were three blind mice, Mic, Bart B Cue, and Whitey. One day they all went shopping to find a gift for their friend. While walking through the mall, they got a whiff of Hickory Farms. The smell was so good, it lured them into the store. The farmer’s wife was working there since things were a bit slow on the farm. And so, you know the story, she whacked off their tails with a carving knife. The three mice sued, and they won. They decided to use the settlement money to start up a mall where the blind could shop, without fear of getting their tails cut off!
Blind Mice Mega Mall was completed and they all lived happily ever after!
Of course, this is not the real story.

Actually, the real story is Blind Mice got started by three blind guys who just decided to give it a try. They felt that blind people needed more products than just a talking watch, a low vision clock, or other similar items. They made the decision to go for it in 2003, and they opened up the doors to the Blind Mice Mart in 2004. They began with two vendors: the braille cookbooks, and an old company, SMC who offered a variety of products. From there, they started to build up a customer base.

They initially began as one website with different suppliers. Then they began getting calls from other people wanting to sell their own stuff. They didn’t have the means to take on others. So, Blind Mice Mart revamped and had a new website built. This change was in 2011, and it was at that time they changed the name to Blind Mice Megamall. They started under this new name with an additional four stores.

Currently they have a dozen stores, with additional ones popping up based on the seasons. Dale says he is most proud of having four individual store owners. He added that these blind store owners are running their stores, making a difference, and generating an income for themselves. Having your own store within the Blind Mice Mega Mall allows the owner to access, edit, add and/ or remove products, change prices, and basically do everything needed to run their own store.

The Blind Mice Mega Mall is a place to provide merchants an avenue to list their products. Dale says that they are always looking for new stores to incorporate into the mall. Some products he would like to see offered in the mall include windchimes, candles, and clothing, just to name a few.

When you visit the mall at www.BlindMiceMegamall.com, you can browse by either the stores or by products. No matter how many stores you visit and products you purchase, it’s a convenient one step checkout process. Be sure to register, as there are some discounts for registered members, as opposed to the regular price.

Here is a list of some of the stores you can find in the Blind Mice Megamall:
E Z 2See Products: weekly planner
A Stitch in Time: sewing supplies
Blind Bookstop: braille & electronic books
Blind Mice Mart: items for blind & visually impaired individuals
Body Scentz: bath & body, perfumes & cologne
En-Vision Inc.: assistive technology
J&J Trading: vast supply of products
Journeys: sprays, crystals, & jewelry
Custom Canes: mobility & walking canes
On The Go: guide & service dog products

Relax, stay in your pajamas, grab a cup of coffee, don’t worry about the weather outside, or finding a parking spot, when going to the blindMice megamall. Check out the site for all of your holiday shopping needs : BlindMiceMegamall.com

Proceeds from every purchase at Blind Mice Mega Mall help fund the Mouse Hole Scholarships. These scholarships are awarded to sighted high school students with a visually impaired parent and to visually impaired and blind high school students!
The Cooking in the Dark Show is also funded by your purchases!

The principle of Blind Mice is "Make It Count Every day!"
So, as the Mice at BlindMiceMegaMall.com say "Have a MICE day!"

International Perspective

By Tendai David Muranganwa

A bit about:
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The country has a population of 14 million people, the main languages are English, Shona and Ndebele. The main attraction is the Victoria Falls which is one of the 7 wonders of the world, the second most popular attraction is the Great Zimbabwe ruins, in the shona language it is called Dzimbadze mabwe which is translated to mean House of Stone, and this is the origins of the country being named Zimbabwe [House of Stone] in 1980 after Independence from British rule.

At Independence in 1980 the Government and private sector focused on inclusive education which saw the setting up of Schools for the Blind like Kapota and Danhiko, due to financial constraints children who are visually impaired are now being integrated into the public schools, this has assisted to change perceptions and stigma towards the blind.

In the case of schools set up specifically for the blind students reside at the school.

In relation to Adults who are visually impaired there are limited schools for rehabilitation, in my case I attended the Dorothy Duncan Rehabilitation Centre which offers training in braille, computers, daily living skills, mobility and orientation. In addition the Centre also offers Library Services free of charge to the blind and transcription services. The books can be accessed in braille, large print and audio format.

In relation to training- mobility and orientation schools offer these services in- house.

In Zimbabwe we have the Danhiko youth games, this is a national athletics event which was started by former first lady Sally Mugabe, the games annually bring together all people living with disabilities.

In terms of jobs, this has been a great challenge due to the fact that Zimbabwe at the moment has an unemployment rate over 90%, this has meant that people who are blind find themselves at a disadvantage in the job market which is very limited.

One of the greatest achievement in Zimbabwe in relation to VI has been in the setting up of Disability Resource Centres across all Universities and Colleges, this has seen many blind people enrolling for tertiary education.

The only setback has been access to assistive technology post rehabilitation and education, as most of the equipment- computers etc. is beyond the financial reach of many.

There is no separate transport for the blind, there is a provision for providing free transport to people who are blind, but this is practiced in principle and it is the discretion of the public operator to grant or deny this service, commuting within the city it usually is not applied by public transport operators, but with long distance buses operators waver fees, but the downside of this is that most blind people who are given this service are those who board buses to beg for money from passengers, in my view this has contributed to society perceiving blind people as invalids who have no capacity to earn a decent and respectful living for themselves.

Getting Around:
At the moment due to the economic crisis and decline of the social delivery system in the country there has not been much focus on visually impaired public services, however some organizations, private sector and individuals have created an environment that is conducive for the blind within their spaces.

Guide Dog:
In relation to guide dogs it is not a very common concept among the black African population, in most cases dogs are used as a part of the security apparatus in many homes and sadly the African perspective is that a dog's place is outdoors, hence trying to move around with a guide dog in public offices, buildings and spaces is a challenge. I am yet to meet anyone with a guide dog, there are centres where dogs are trained, and the ones I am familiar with are administered by the police, the other downside to owning a guide dog in our case is the cost that comes along with training and owning a guide dog. I feel as a developing country we are still a long way away from the concept of guide dogs. A lot has to change starting with our perspective on dogs.

This goes back to the current economic situation in the Country, benefits are limited due to financial constraints at a national level, and we do have a Social Welfare Department in Government which occasionally provides for the blind where possible.
The private sector and civil society also plays a great part through Corporate Social responsibility programs. Access to assistive technology is very limited due to financial constraints.

In terms of associations, there are a number of them in operation their focus is on Advocacy and disability rights, inclusive communities and education services.

Your Thoughts:
Finally I believe blind people are sometimes viewed as invalids and beggars, this is because growing up it was a common sight to see a blind person sitting at a corner in the street dressed in drags and looking pitiful and hopeless.

Moving forward I believe that blind people need to be empowered with the necessary skills and tools to allow them to function like anyone in Society.

An important component to empowerment is access to information.

Exercise, does a body good

By Dan Kiely

Welcome back to Exercise Does A Body Good!
In this month issue I write about the pros and cons of home exercise equipment such as the treadmill, elliptical, spinning bike, and water rowing machine. When contemplating on purchasing an exercise machine, you have to consider cost, space, whether you want a high impact or low impact exercise machine, and are you really going to use it or are you going to hang clothes on it.

The treadmill in my opinion, is probably the #1 fitness machine in the home. The cost of a treadmill is anywhere from 600 to 5,000 dollars. The more you spend on a treadmill usually, the better it is. now the treadmill does take up some space, however, I have seen some treadmills that can fold up when not in use. You can run on the treadmill, which is a high impact exercise. This means you will put a lot of stress on your joints, such as the lower back, hips, knees, and ankles. On the other hand, if you walk on the treadmill, it is considered a low impact exercise, meaning, lower stress on your joints.
Now for the display monitor, which can have the timer, body weight, calories burned, speed, distance, heart rate, and the many types of running and walking programs. The bad thing about the monitor is you cannot read it if you are visually impaired. I have not yet run into audible display, which would be great. I have made adaptations to make it accessible for me. I put locator dots on timer, speed, incline/ decline, and the different programs, such as cardio, and fat burning. If anyone has run across an audible monitor that is accessible for the blind, email me at my address at the top of this article, and I will share the information next month.

The elliptical is a beautiful machine for the home. The cost ranges from 800 to 5,000 dollars. The elliptical in my opinion, takes up more space than the treadmill, and I have not found one that is able to fold up. This machine is considered to be a low impact exercise, which means less impact on your joints. Another good thing about the elliptical is that it involves your upper body, providing arm movements.
The elliptical has a great display monitor, which I again have made accessible. I have placed locator dots on the start, stop, incline/ decline, and different types of program options.

The spinning bike takes up the least amount of space compared to the treadmill and elliptical. The cost can be anywhere from 350 to 3,000 dollars. The spinning bike is considered a low impact exercise. It is similar to a stationary bike but is a stronger bike. You can pedal the bike forward, backwards, and while standing on the pedals. There are different placements to grab onto the handlebars; wide, regular, and narrow grips.
There are spinning bikes that have display monitors. However, my spinning bike does not have one. My bike has a resistant knob to provide light resistance or hard resistance when pedaling. I know there are virtual spin bikes, However, I have no clue about those.

The water rowing machine takes up less space than the treadmill and elliptical, but more room than the spinning bike. The cost ranges from 500 to 3,000 dollars. The rowing machine that I have is so light that I can pick it up and store it against a wall when finished working out. This is a low impact exercise machine, easy on the joints.
Some water rowing machines come with a monitor and some don't. I chose not to purchase one with a display monitor.
It is called a water rowing machine because there is a water container on the rower, which provides resistance. The harder you pull the rower, the harder the resistance. The lighter you pull, the lighter the resistance.
Those are the 4 exercise machines that I have experience with, and I know there are more exercise machines for the home. If you have a different one, email me about it.

Health Tip:
The benefits of tart cherry drinks or tablets:
Rich in Nutrients; Tart cherry juice is rich in various nutrients. An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving contains 119 calories and the following (1): Carbs: 28 grams Fiber: 5 grams Protein: 2 grams Fat: 1 gram Vitamin A: 62% of the RDI Vitamin C: 40% of the RDI)
May Increase Strength and Reduce Muscle Soreness.
Could Help You Sleep Better.
May Reduce Symptoms of Arthritis and Gout.
might promote brain health.
may strengthen immune system.
may protect against cancer.
may reduce blood pressure.
may help lose weight.
Well that is it for this month. If you have any new ideas, questions about exercise/ equipment, or would like to share some health/ fitness stories then write to me at my email address above.
Good luck and good training!

Have I Got A Story For You

By Carla Jo Bratton

Hello again book people!
This month I bring you an apocalyptic series, a reader recommendation and a real nail biter story! Let’s go!

The After Series written by William Forstchen
Sorry RNIB and CELA, not there yet
There are 3 books in this series and it may be done, not sure. I’m going to list the books and do a bit about the series after.

One Second After
reading time: 12 hours and 31 minutes

One Year After
reading time: 11 hours and 5 minutes

The Final Day
reading time: 12 hours and 13 minutes

In a small North Carolina town, one man struggles to save his family after America loses a war that will send it back to the Dark Ages.

Already cited on the floor of Congress and discussed in the corridors of the Pentagon as a book all Americans should read, One Second After is the story of a war scenario that could become all too terrifyingly real. Based upon a real weapon - the Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) - which may already be in the hands of our enemies, it is a truly realistic look at the awesome power of a weapon that can destroy the entire United States, literally within one second.

This book, set in a typical American town, is a dire warning of what might be our future and our end.

My comments: I really enjoyed these books. At times, I was scared silly. This is a very thought provoking story and it makes you ask, what would you do?

Bob recommends;
Bringing Columbia Home, The untold story of a lost space shuttle and her crew
reading time: 11 hours and 11 minutes

On February 1, 2003, Columbia disintegrated on reentry before the nation's eyes, and all seven astronauts aboard were lost. Author Mike Leinbach, Launch Director of the space shuttle program at NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center, was a key leader in the search and recovery effort as NASA, FEMA, the FBI, the US Forest Service, and dozens more federal, state, and local agencies combed an area of rural east Texas the size of Rhode Island for every piece of the shuttle and her crew they could find.

Assisted by hundreds of volunteers, it would become the largest ground search operation in US history. For the first time, here is the definitive inside story of the Columbia disaster and recovery and the inspiring message it ultimately holds. In the aftermath of tragedy, people and communities came together to help bring home the remains of the crew and nearly 40 percent of shuttle, an effort that was instrumental in piecing together what happened so the shuttle program could return to flight and complete the International Space Station.

Bringing Columbia Home shares, the deeply personal stories that emerged as NASA employees looked for lost colleagues, and searchers overcame immense physical, logistical, and emotional challenges and worked together to accomplish the impossible.

The Last Time I lied
written by Riley Sager
reading time: 12 hours and 13 minutes
CELA number; DC57544

Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. But the games ended the night Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin into the darkness. The last she, or anyone, saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

Now a rising star in the New York art scene, Emma turns her past into paintings - massive canvases filled with dark leaves and gnarled branches that cover ghostly shapes in white dresses. When the paintings catch the attention of Francesca Harris-White, the wealthy owner of Camp Nightingale, she implores Emma to return to the newly reopened camp as a painting instructor. Seeing an opportunity to find out what really happened to her friends all those years ago, Emma agrees.

Familiar faces, unchanged cabins, and the same dark lake haunt Nightingale, even though the camp is opening its doors for the first time since the disappearances. Emma is even assigned to the same cabin she slept in as a teenager, but soon discovers a security camera, the only one on the property, pointed directly at its door. Then cryptic clues that Vivian left behind about the camp's twisted origins begin surfacing. As she digs deeper, Emma finds herself sorting through lies from the past while facing mysterious threats in the present. And the closer she gets to the truth about Camp Nightingale and what really happened to those girls, the more she realizes that closure could come at a deadly price.

My comments: Fast paced, thrilling, creepy and so much more. I give this one a 5 out of 5.

Thank you to those who have written me with book suggestions, I love reading about the books you enjoy. I save these emails to possibly use in future articles.
Thanks for being a Blind Perspective reader. Until next time, Happy reading!
Carla jo

The Braille Highway

By Nat Armeni

The month of November is upon us and we are heading down the home stretch for the holiday season. I am so happy and proud after so much bugging and harassing of our very own Maxine, author of Cooking Concoctions, that she has agreed to take part in my Q&A segment! Continue reading on to find out more about Maxine and how braille is part of her life. As always, send in your emails to the address at the beginning of this article with suggestions, feedback, and constructive comments, they are all truly appreciated!

Q. Tell us about yourself.
I'm in my late thirties and I currently make my home in rural Kansas with my husband and 2 pet dogs. I was born in the Philippines on a US army base, I am the middle child with an older brother and a younger sister. Making a long story short I was diagnosed with RP in my early twenties and have just a little light perception today.
My mom is as French as one can be without living in France. So, she has drilled in to her children about being passionate about food and always looking your best even on days you are not planning on leaving the house.

Q. How did you come about learning braille?
One day my sister informed me that I was not color coordinated. That is the day I looked into learning braille. Since I have learned braille all of my clothes have been labelled in braille as well as Tupper wear containers. I label other items such as vitamin bottles, my DVD’s and CD’s, and canned goods, simply put, anything I want to identify quickly that may feel like another item is always best labelled with braille.

Q. Have you learned UEB?
I have not officially learned UEB. However, I have picked it up with reading stuff produced in UEB, as well as picking things up on the internet.

Q. When you produce braille which methods do you use?
I most often use my Perkins Braille writer when I am needing to quickly jot down a phone number or write out a recipe. On the go, I use my slate and stylus or my newest toy, my Focus 14 display.

Q. When you read braille which methods do you use?
I use hard copy when I am reading labels and recipes and things I have brailled. I'm beginning to get used to using my Focus 14 display with reading my text messages and other things off my iPhone.

Q. Do you use braille at home and/ or work?
I use braille both at home and at work. I work as the dispatcher and the receptionist for my husband's plumbing company. I have all the suppliers and plumber’s contact information in braille, which makes my job a whole lot easier. I am able to quickly find the suppliers phone number while having a plumber on the phone waiting for that information.
As I have mentioned above, I am a big fan of cooking. So, when I am preparing a meal I like to have the recipe next to me to confirm measurements and or procedures. While one's fingers/hands may become wet or covered with ingredients, it makes a mess of the paper. I on the other hand, have taken my most popular recipes and brailled them onto the clear protective covers. Therefore, if I get them dirty it is as easy as wiping the plastic down with a damp cloth.
Prior to learning braille, it was a hit or miss when trying to pull something out of the freezer for dinner and correctly identifying the item. How many times does frozen fish filet feel like boneless chicken breast or other types of meats? I have mistakenly taken out a Tupper wear container being certain it was a frozen soup, and once it was thawed out discovered it was a spaghetti sauce. To remedy these potential problems, I prepare wide elastic bands and slide a piece of plastic paper with the brailled name of the item in between the elastic band and container. These are great since they can be reused for the next frozen container of soup, sauce, or other items.

Q. In your city do you have access to braille?
Since I live in a rural area there is not much braille in the community outside of the usual places such as: elevator buttons, menus at major restaurant chains, hotel room numbers, and public rest rooms.

Q. Do you have any braille games?
I have Uno and playing cards, backgammon, Scrabble, monopoly, and tactile dice.

Q. As a braille user what would you say to a blind person who does not know braille to encourage them to learn it?
Just learn the basics so that you can independently identify things. It will truly open so many doors and help you gain so much self-esteem. Then once you have learned the uncontracted braille, you can make the decision whether to continue on to contracted braille.

Q. Do you have any cute or novel story to relay that either you or someone else has done with braille?
I have a weakness for gummy lifesavers. When my husband and I were dating and it was Valentine’s day, he sent me flowers that were being held by a teddy bear. This teddy bear had a scarf with a heart on it. Anthony got a hold of a few roles of gummy lifesavers and sewed them onto the scarf as braille dots, spelling out “Be Mine”. I didn’t notice the message.
When he picked me up for dinner, he asked how he had done with the message. I told him the flowers and teddy bear were fantastic. He realized I had missed the message. He took my hand, placed it on the lifesavers, and told me to read it. Needless to say, I became totally emotional.

Q. What are your opinions of braille?
I agree with what the other writers have written about the importance of braille. Braille to us is the equivalent to print for a sighted person. The ability to read and produce braille makes a blind person truly literate.

Thank you so very much Maxine for taking part in my Q&A, and for sharing a bit about yourself!
Why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Braille users do it with feelings! Remember to stay on the dotted line of life. Stay safe and talk with you again in December.

Kaleidoscope of Krafts

By Lindy van der Merwe

Even though we are not there yet I have decided to share this, end-of-year project for the month of November since it is one that might need some early preparation if you decide to do it for this coming holiday season.

Historians estimate that Advent, which derives from the Latin word for coming, has been celebrated since the fourth century. The period originally began as a time for converts to Christianity to prepare for baptism, but is now more commonly associated with the anticipation of the anniversary of Christ’s birth on December 25.

So, modern advent calendars typically begin on December 1 and mark the 24 days before Christmas. Most Advent calendars include 24 paper doors that are opened, one on each day, to reveal an image, Bible verse, or piece of chocolate.

Gerhard Lang is widely considered the producer of the first printed Advent calendar in the early 1900s. Lang’s calendar was inspired by one that his mother had made for him and featured 24 colored pictures that attached to a piece of cardboard. Lang modified his calendars to include the little doors that are a staple of most Advent calendars today.

Although different types of store-bought calendars with Christmas themed pictures and little doors that open for each day until 25 December are available in many countries today, this is by no means the only type of advent calendar. You can make your own and customize it the way you want it while having fun with the kids and creating some special family traditions. Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, this is a craft that could be made for and with children and enjoyed as a count-down to any other holiday or even a child's birthday. Alternatively, use the calendars to help the children choose some fun family activities or deeds of kindness to perform during the holidays.

Don't be confined by the word "calendar" when doing this craft, though. Instead of making a large poster or board to hang on a wall, consider collecting small containers, filling them with small gifts or candy and marking each with a number from 1 to 24 in print or in braille if preferred.

Place these containers in a large box or arrange them on a window sill or on a mantle near the Christmas tree, or buy 24 ready-to-fold boxes and place them all under the tree after filling and closing them with some colorful tape.

If you would like to make something to hang against a wall or as a garland however, consider the following two options.

Option 1: Advent Garland
You will need:
Wrapping paper
24 small gifts, mini chocolate bars or wrapped candy
Pipe cleaners or twine
A long piece of thin ribbon

1. Wrap each gift or piece of candy.
2. Write print or braille numbers from 1 to 24 on tags and punch a hole in a corner of each.
3. Tie a tag to each gift with twine, ribbon or a pipe cleaner, leaving several inches of the tie on each side of the gift.
4. Arrange the gifts in order from 1 to 24.
5. Using twine or pipe cleaners, tie each gift to the long ribbon in the correct order.
6. Continue, tying all 24 gifts.
7. Hang the chain over your mantel, in a window or on a wall or door, or you could even wrap it around the Christmas tree.
8. Untie and enjoy one gift on each day or provide scissors to cut gifts from the chain. Make sure to help smaller children with this task.

Option 2: Envelope Advent Calendar
You will need:
Large cork board or cardboard
Scrapbook or gift paper
24 envelopes
Tags or stickers
24 small gifts or wrapped candy

1. Cover the board with scrapbook or gift paper.
2. Mark each envelope with a number from 1 to 24 and fill each with a gift or wrapped candy.
3. Glue the envelopes to the board in order or you could position them randomly.
4. Hang against a wall or place on a windowsill and open and enjoy a gift each day.

Another option I have come across builds on the tradition of lighting a candle on each day or evening of the 24 days before Christmas.
You will need 24 clean, empty baby food jars. Glue wide ribbon around each jar and add numbered braille or print stickers or tags.
Place a candy or message inside each jar. On each of the 24 days, replace the message or candy with a tea light candle.
Light one more candle each evening or wait until all 24 jars have their candles before lighting all at once.

I hope you will find a way to create and enjoy doing this craft with loved-ones and family this coming holiday season.


Spencer's Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer

As we approach the holiday season, we gather with friends and family and remember those who are no longer with us. We take time to reflect the important things in life and I do not think anyone is surprised to find that few things we hold most dear to our hearts involve a physical object, but rather it is the relationships we tend to treasure the most. With this in mind, it brings me to the subject of this article.

Have you ever been to a family gathering and one person inevitably pulls out a photo album and goes merrily down memory lane? And we sit waiting and hoping someone describes to us the picture they are laughing and reminiscing over.

My friend Tammy Lynn came up with the coolest idea. She calls it an audio scrapbook. She got the cassette to mp3 converter I wrote about in a previous article. She converted cassettes of her daughter she had recorded, beginning when she was pregnant, recording the ultrasound of her daughter's heartbeat. She recorded verbal memories and played favorite songs that had special meanings throughout the years. She then presented a copy to her daughter, who is now in the military.

There are a few programs out there that can be used to create these audio scrapbooks. One such program is Audacity. It is a fairly powerful multi-track recording program. It is a free download from their website, www.AudacityTeam.org
Another popular program is GoldWave, a digital audio multi-track editing software. This is available for 50 dollars. Their website is www.GoldWave.com
Here is yet another program, Sound Forge Audio Studio. I, myself am not familiar with this program. However, after visiting their website, www.SoundForge.com
I found they have several options available depending on the complexity of the project.

So next time you are at a family gathering, you can put an S/D card or a USB drive in your player and take your friends and family on an audio journey.

To check out Cheryl's audio journal about, and with Sir Tom Jones, click here: Tom Jones Audio Journal

APPetizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice

By Darrin cheney

Updating your iDevice to iOS 12

It’s that wonderful time of the year when shiny new Apple toys appear. A new iOS promises us many “must-have” features. Here are some things you should consider when upgrading to iOS 12.

Getting Started:
Apple spent a lot of time under the hood of iOS 12 to improve stability and performance, especially with older devices. Also, several new features are added to improve our health, reduce screen time, and help transform SIRI into our personal assistant. As of this writing, iOS 12 has been available for about a month and early adopters report some challenges with battery charging with new iPhones, issues with messages, and other minor bugs.

Prepare for iOS 12 Update:
An iOS update can be very challenging and frustrating. Learn as much as you can about iOS 12 before you download it and install it on your iDevice. Listen to other VO users to discover any challenges they’ve had during the update. It’s also good to hear their success stories. There are several lists you can subscribe to and podcasts you can download to learn more about iOS 12.

Here are some resources you can explore to help prepare you for your iOS 12 update:
1. Download “iOS 12 User Guide” from Books (formally known as the Apple iBook Store). The iPhone and iPad guides are available for free. The guide will take you through the installation procedure. Read the Accessibility section to learn about new features and how things work in iOS 12. The accessibility section includes a list of updated gestures, how to unlock the phone, a list of VO keyboard commands, braille keyboard commands, and a lot more.

2. Search AppleVis.com for iOS 12 news, updates, and user comments. I’d recommend reading the following blog: “Apple Releases iOS 12; Bringing New and Enhanced Features and Performance Improvements.” You will learn what new iOS features affect VO users. A list of known bugs is included in another blog post: “The Accessibility Bugs Introduced and Resolved in iOS 12 for Blind and Low Vision Users.” Make sure to read the user comments.

3. Read “iOS 12 Without the Eye,” by Jonathan Mosen. The book details the changes from iOS 11 to iOS 12. Mr. Mosen does a great job of explaining the new accessibility features in iOS 12 from a blindness perspective. The book is available from the Mosen Consulting store in epub or PDF for 19 dollars and 95 cents. (https://mosen.org/ios12/).

4. Update your Digital Emergency Preparedness Plan. In my September 2017 article, “Emergency Preparedness for your Digital World,” I discuss strategies and provide resources to help you plan and to prepare for an iOS update or new phone. (http://theblindperspective.com/newsletter/2017/darrin_2017.htm).

Perform iOS 12 Update:
Each update is a major event that will cost you time, money, and emotional capital. Create your update plan, find a tech buddy, and recruit your cheer crew. They can help you through any challenges before and after the update.
Make a list of all the apps you use and any extra items you purchased. For example, if you download a paid voice in Dream Reader for iOS 11, you will need to download the voice again for iOS 12. Make sure to review all of your apps and list any special settings. After the update, check each app, re-download any content, and adjust the settings as needed.
Back-up your iDevice to your computer and create a digital copy of anything important like your pictures. Make sure you have enough room on your device for the update.
Apple has a support article that will cover the update process (https://support.apple.com/ios/update). You can also follow the directions in the iDevice 12 User’s Guide or Mosen’s book.
Follow the on-screen prompts during the install. You will need your passcode and Apple ID account info. Make sure to take notes through the update process.

Final Thoughts:
It seems there is never a perfect time to update your iOS. Decide what works best for you and plan accordingly. Take some notes and modify your update plan for the next iOS update. Finally, make some time to explore and to learn new features in iOS 12 and consider sharing what you know with your friends. You’ll do fine. If not, Apple Support is only a phone call away… Good luck!

A Time to Plant

By Sue Brazel

Keeping plants in your house involves making sure they get watered. To find out if your plants need watering, consider their needs. Cacti and succulents require little water in their native habitat, the desert. Therefore, they don’t need constant watering. Ivy plants, for instance, need more attention to their watering needs.

How do you know when a plant should be watered?
Poke a finger into the soil up to the first knuckle. If there is moisture, the plant won’t need watering.

How should plants be watered?
Roots transport the moisture up the stem, to the leaves and flowers. Water the soil so plants can readily use the moisture.

Inside, you may feel comfortable when using a humidifier, a device which spews out moisture into an area. This does not affect plant root systems, so don’t use a humidifier as a replacement for watering plants!

Plants need moisture to keep from drying out. As the holidays approach, remember that indoor container plants stay fresh looking if watered appropriately.

If you hang a wreath outside, weather conditions may enable the greenery to stay nice looking. If you hang a wreath inside, you should have a way to keep the greenery from wilting and turning brown. Consider making or having someone make a wreath for you using a dried vine wreath, keeping the greenery in one section.

A green rectangular block, called a plant oasis, can be soaked in water several hours or overnight. Let it drain, then wrap it with cording, placing on the dried wreath, then poke in your fresh cut greenery. While this is being made, occasionally stand back and look/feel to make sure your arrangement is pleasing, rearranging greens as desired. Check to feel that the oasis is moist during the time of your wreath display; it may need to be re-watered to keep the greenery appearing nice.

A plant oasis should not be reused because the water absorbency does not allow it to function well. It could be used to hold dried flower arrangements, though.

If you plan on keeping an evergreen tree in your house this holiday season, plan on feeling the reservoir on a daily basis, keeping water at the recommended level. Fewer needles fall off the tree if there is enough water. Many cities and towns pick up these trees after the holidays, chopping them into mulch.

Dried flower arrangements or artificial plants may attract some people. However, others like the feeling of living plants in their environment. Whichever choice you make, there is a place for plants in your home!
It is now “thyme” for me to feel the soil of my indoor plants to make sure they have enough water!

The Alternating Duo: Here's to your Health

by Catherine Hall

Nutrition Basics: Bringing it All Together

Over the course of the year, we’ve been talking about protein, carbohydrates, and fat, and why each macronutrient is necessary for our bodies to function ideally. This month, we’ll bring all of that information together to explore how to create meals and snacks that are balanced and satisfying.

Putting together a balanced plate: Whether you’re tucking into a meal, or grabbing a quick snack, to make the food most satisfying and to keep hunger at bay the longest, your plate should contain some of each of the macronutrients. A meal that contains protein, carbohydrates, and fat will give your body all of what it needs to keep you going until the next time you eat. The USDA recommends building a plate by filling half with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with grains, and one quarter with protein. For more information on these recommendations, visit www.choosemyplate.gov. I would alter their recommendations slightly, changing the grains section to “starch”. Since starchy vegetables are mostly made up of carbohydrates, they don’t need to be combined with grains, which are also mostly carbohydrates.

In my version, a balanced plate is made up of half fruits and non-starch vegetables, such as green beans, leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes, etc., one quarter grains or starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, rice, bread, etc., and one quarter lean protein, such as chicken, lean beef, fish, etc. Let’s consider some typical meals and snacks that are considered healthy, and explore how to make them more balanced.

Here in the US, many people start the day with a bowl of cereal with skim milk, and maybe a banana. Healthy, right? Well, it’s low calorie, certainly, but isn’t necessarily the best way to start the day. The cereal is mostly carbohydrates, with a little protein for good measure. The skim milk is mostly carbohydrates and protein, and the fruit is all carbohydrates. This meal is very carbohydrate heavy with a moderate amount of protein, and no fat. The carbohydrates are processed very quickly by the body, entering the bloodstream quickly, and getting used up just as quickly. Once those carbs are used up, you end up feeling famished, and possibly shaky. If you’re experiencing mid-morning cravings, look to your breakfast and consider swapping out your cereal for something more balanced.

Eggs add a dose of protein and fat that will help keep you going longer. If you still want your cereal, try adding one or two hard-boiled eggs to your meal for some added fat and protein. Instead of the banana, add berries to your cereal, they have more fiber than bananas, which means they take longer to digest, so they don’t spike your blood sugar the way a banana does.

You’re more of a toast person? No problem! Try adding a couple tablespoons of nut butter to your toast, along with some slices of apple, or a banana. The nut butter has both protein and fat enough to balance out the carbohydrates from the bread and fruit and keep you satisfied longer.

A salad is often considered a very healthy lunch, but when it’s nothing more than some romaine lettuce with a sprinkling of vegetables, and fat-free dressing, it’s nowhere near substantial enough to be helpful. To make a salad that actually stands up to your afternoon, try adding protein in the form of grilled chicken breast, beans (which also add some carbs), or a handful of nuts (which also add some fat). Add some carbs by adding some cooked grains, beans, or bread. Finally, add some fat with some crumbled bacon, a sprinkle of cheese, avocado, or a full-fat dressing. Not a fan of pre-made dressing? Just add some olive oil and vinegar. Now your salad is a meal that can sustain you through the rest of your day.

What if you sit down to a healthy dinner of broiled white fish and steamed vegetables? Yes, that is low in calories, but again, you’re missing balance. How would you make this meal more balanced? You could change the entire meal, or you could simply add a couple elements to the existing meal. Add some carbohydrates with a small baked sweet potato, then add some fat by adding a little butter to the vegetables, and you have a balanced, satisfying dinner.

Snacks are basically meals in miniature, so they should also contain all three macronutrients. However, snacks don’t need to be quite as elaborate as a full meal. Add some nut butter or cheese to your apple, snack on some nuts and a little dried fruit, or wrap some cut up vegetables in a couple slices of lunch meat for a satisfying snack that keeps you going.

You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned anything about amounts of food in these examples. That is because the amount will vary from person to person. The amount of food, or even of a particular macronutrient will vary, depending on your lifestyle, activity level, and metabolism. Eat what you need to satisfy your hunger, keep you energized, and fuel your activity levels. Enjoy the process of experimenting and keep in mind that your needs will change throughout your life.

Happy Eating!

The Rotating Trio: Potpourri

By Suzy B
Fourth Quarter

Being in the fourth or last quarter is not related to your favorite football team. It is, however, marked by many holidays to which food can be related. Whether it's Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah or Christmas, the search for recipes begins.

First, check the old stand-buys, those brought by the good cooks in your family fondly remembered. Then venture out for new ones that often pop-up in your email. Select a few and then go over them, making sure you have ALL the ingredients. Make a list of the ones needed and begin collecting.

You may need more than one list since some may be ordered from favorite on-line sources, grocery list, and the local drug-stores or everything stores. If baking, this may include parchment paper, cupcake/muffin liners, maybe a new cookie sheet or muffin tin. I'm already exhausted.

If giving as gifts or taking to a Potluck, make sure you have the right baking/serving dish or containers. Start searching for options and collecting now, and then the prep and adventure will be enjoyable. Loaves of special breads can be popped into a good-sized Ziploc bag or some other airtight wrapping. Then, instead of festive paper, consider wrapping in a colorful dish towel and securing with ribbon or gift twine.

Other baked goods, treats, and sugared pecans can be stored in GLAD storage containers and pop on a bow or slide in a gift bag. A variety of storage containers are available and can easily be stacked, when filled, on your counter for easy access. Don't forget, these containers can also go into the freezer and muffins, for example, can be taken out one or two at a time and thawed or microwaved for about ten seconds. Don't leave until they feel warm, or you have ruined them.

Yes, there is a wide variety of Holiday containers available. So, enjoy the hunt, the clock is ticking, but anything can happen in this last quarter, to cover all the special events on your calendar: HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine

Autumn is definitely in the air in most of the northern hemisphere. And that means apples are plentiful. I have two yummy apple recipes below. Hope you try them out, wherever you live.

Homemade Spiced Applesauce: This will make your house smell so good. I like to eat it just made and still very warm.
8 Servings

8 apples, peeled, cored and chopped (I like a mix of Fuji & Cortland)
2 lemon wedges
1 ½ cup water
½ cup white sugar
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pour the water, juice from the lemon wedges, sugar, and spices in a large saucepan, stir well.
Add the chopped apples, stir.
Cover and cook over medium heat for about 15 - 20 minutes, or until fork tender, stirring occasionally.
Allow the apples to cool for a few minutes.
Then mash the apples with either a fork or potato masher.

Spoon into a small bowl and eat for a warm delicious snack. If not eating right away, you can store in an air tight container, in the fridge

Swedish Apple Pie: I got this recipe from my mom. What I absolutely love about this recipe is that there is no pie crust. Check it out, and if you make it, let me know what you think!

2 1/2 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples (I like Granny Smith)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup margarine, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans/walnuts (optional)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 pinch salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan with margarine.
3. Thoroughly mix the sliced apples with the cinnamon and 1tsp of sugar.
4. Fill pan with sliced apples.
5. In a medium bowl, mix 1 cup sugar with the melted margarine. Stir in pecans, flour, egg and salt. Mix well. Spread mixture over the apples.
6. Bake in preheated oven for 65 minutes, or until golden brown.
7. Serve warm with either ice cream or slices of cheddar cheese!

Riddle & Brain Buster

By Alex Smart


Which is the most curious letter?

Answer to November’s riddle:
What do you get if you divide 50 by half, and add 20?
50 divided by 0.05 + 20= 120

Brain Buster

Author, Author
Take the last name of a well known American writer, insert the letter P, and you will get the last name of a well known British writer. Who are these two authors?

Answers to November’s brain buster:
A Day at the Beach
Ill fated ship of 1912: titanic
Bicycle built for two: Tandem
Its nickname is big sky country: Montana
Popular song about a Christmas tree: O Tanenbaum
Tease by over promising: Tantalize


Audio Scrapbooks
A memory maker - unique for the blind
It's Teddy, the Audio Tech for The Blind Perspective. I assisted Tammy Lynn with the construction of the audio scrapbook for her daughter. I can do the same for you. i use both Audacity and GoldWave.
For a consultation, email me at: BlindAudioScrapbook@gmail.com

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