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February 2019
Volume 5 Issue 2

Table of Contents

Sponsor of the Month
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
Computer Tech101
A Time to Plant
The Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
Dirty Work
The Beauty Parlor
Cooking Concoctions
Riddle & Brain Buster


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Greetings from the Editor

By Karen Santiago

Hi readers and welcome to the February edition of the Blind Perspective Newsletter!
Although February may be a short month, there is no shortage of great articles this month. As always, the writers are working hard every month to provide you with informative and entertaining topics. Be sure to check out Christy’s first of many beauty/ skincare tips below. Remember your comments, suggestions, and questions are always welcomed, and encouraged.
Read on!

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

At A Glance: Blind in Mind, Out Of Sight Radio, Soundscape, United Kingdom, Pilates, three H's, Braille Pals, Wall Hanging, Speaker, Wired, Bulbs & Air Plants, Airports, Dryer Sheets, Lotion, Stuffed Shells, Riddle and Brain Buster!

Sponsors of the Month

Talking Watch

Introducing the First Ever Waterproof Talking Watch … It’s 100% waterproof to 100 feet!

Are you tired of investing in multiple talking watches each year because they always seem to die after being bumped or soaked – no matter how careful you try to be? Or have you given up on wearing a watch altogether, even though you miss the convenience of hearing the time at the touch of a button anywhere you go? Introducing the first truly shockproof and waterproof talking watch we’ve ever seen.

You can wear this wristwatch 24/7 because water will not damage the electronics. Leave it on as you wash your hands, take a shower or go swimming. And never worry about removing the watch again or trying to remember where you might have left it this time. The simplicity and durability of this watch make it the ideal choice for blind and visually impaired people of all ages. Whether you exercise and sweat a lot or get caught in a giant rainstorm, this timepiece won’t give in to the realities of daily life.

Our Waterproof Talking Watch is fully accessible to a blind person. Press the button on top to hear the time. Set and configure all functions by listening for spoken prompts or clearly-differentiated beeps. If you have some vision, activate the built-in backlight by pressing a single button (with or without the time-speaking feature).

Though both men and women can wear this watch due to its coloring and design, some ladies may find it too bulky for their liking. Packed into a reusable tin box with a large-print quick start guide, the watch makes an attractive, practical gift for anyone … including yourself. (The instructions are also available on our website.)

Our first-of-its-kind Waterproof Talking Watch costs 19 dollars and 95 cents with free shipping. To order yours from Blind in Mind, LLC, visit www.BlindInMind.com
or call 1-800-213-4567.

Out-Of-Sight Radio

It's that time again and Out-Of-Sight Radio is on the move. Here on OOS Radio we want to encourage everyone to join us for our Valentine's Day event.
So, come on all you lovers and the romantic at heart. Come listen for a day of romance.
Do you want some sweeties for your sweetheart or, a chance to win a romantic dinner for two?
Then come join us on Thursday, February 14 starting at 9:00 AM to 11:59 PM, for a chance to win goodies for you and your love.
We will be giving out daisy candy lollipop bouquets and chocolate roses bouquets, candy bars and a couple of gift certificates towards your romantic dinner for you and your special someone.
So, be there and come listen to the best station on the net. Give us a call at 860 881-2221.
Prizes will be given out at random times.
1. Only one prize per person.
2. No DJ’s, radio staff or board members are eligible.
3. Person's under 18 are not eligible.

Movers & Shakers

By Karen Santiago

Microsoft Soundscape
I recently conducted a fascinating interview with Amos Miller, who currently works for Microsoft Research, as a product strategist, in the group called the Enable Team. This team has been around for nearly three years and is All about creating new innovations for those with disabilities. They are a group that come together to bring ideas to prototypes, and then to products to positively impact the lives of people with disabilities.

Although Amos is blind himself, it had nothing to do with his position at Microsoft. He began his career with Microsoft twelve years ago as a strategic advisor to major Microsoft customers, such as banks, healthcare & educational organizations, and the public sector. He performed this work in the UK for seven years then moved to Singapore to do the same with Asian customers.

While working as a consultant in the UK he also volunteered for the guide dog organization there. One of the topics the organization wanted to explore was; How could technology impact the world of mobility. More specifically, how could technology enhance mobility and independence for blind and visually impaired individuals. Amos thought that while working for Microsoft, he could probably get some people together to further investigate their question, and that is how things initially got started.

A collaboration was formed between Microsoft designers, architects and technology developers, mobility instructors, and both cane and guide dog users. The Microsoft team observed mobility instructors as they did their work and watched how they trained visually impaired people during their mobility journey.

They noted that the instructors teach the “mobility skills”, but a lot of it is what cues one gets from their environment. Furthermore, it is these cues that enable individuals to orientate themselves in order to locate their destinations. One step led to the next, and the developers created the Microsoft Soundscape application. The app was built on the notion to help blind and visually impaired individuals build a richer awareness of one’s surroundings using audio in 3D space technology.

The Microsoft Soundscape application was first launched in March 2018. It is available at no cost on iPhones 5 and later. Currently it is available in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. They are working on adding more countries.

In order to hear the 3D audio, you need to use a stereo headset. Cues will be announced in one of four directions; left front or back, or right front or back. Where you hear the audio is where the particular landmark is located. One of the great qualities of this 3D audio is that you “don’t have to listen for it”. The audio sounds as though it is coming from further away, rather than right in your ear. This 3D space technology is wonderful since it allows the user to still hear environmental noises and engage in conversations, while audio cues are given! It is also important to note that the app is to be used to enhance your mobility experience, not to act as a GPS or replace your mobility skills or primary aids such as a cane or a guide dog.

The Soundscape App:
If a user isn’t sure where they are or which way to travel, they can hold the phone flat in their hand with the top edge facing the direction they want to go and then use the buttons at the bottom of the screen to locate nearby landmarks and navigate.

on the Bottom:
There are four buttons at the bottom of the screen. With all of these buttons, be sure to hold the phone with the top of it pointing in the direction you are facing before you press the button. Otherwise when you are walking, you can leave your phone in your pocket or bag and Soundscape will provide you with call-outs.

My Location:
Gives you information that helps you figure out where you currently are. Such information may include the direction you are facing, nearby roads or intersections, and points of interest.

Around Me:
This button tells you about one thing in each of the four quadrants around you (to the left, right, ahead, and behind). This button is useful to orientate yourself to your surroundings.

Ahead of Me:
Like the name suggest, this button tells you about things ahead of you, on both the left and right. This button is helpful to explore what is coming up ahead, or what may be down a side street or intersection, especially useful when in a new area.

Nearby Markers:
This button tells you about up to four markers that are closest to you. Nearby Markers assist you in orientating yourself to using places you already know about, and have marked.

Markers are places that you can saved. They could be places that are discoverable within the app, or they can be places you can add yourself. You can use the “mark current location” button, which is located on the home screen to add a new marker.

Automatic Call Outs:
As you approach things around you, Soundscape can call out their names from the direction in which they are located in. The app will automatically do this for such things as businesses, bus stops, and intersections. You can configure what the app automatically calls out on the “Manage Callouts” screen, and you can turn all callouts off when you want the app to be silent.

Sound Beacons:
Setting a beacon on a nearby destination allows Soundscape to keep you informed of its location by playing an audible beacon sound coming from the direction of that destination. From the home screen, you can choose to either mute or unmute the beacon. Setting a beacon is useful when you want to keep track of a familiar landmark as you explore a new area or when you are going somewhere and want to be informed about your surroundings along the way. The beacon feature does not give you turn-by-turn directions, but it does give you an audible beacon that tells you the direction to your destination, relative to where you are currently located. Using the beacon, your existing wayfinding skills, and even your favorite navigation app, you can choose how you want to get to your destination yourself.

These previously mention app features are just a glimpse of what Soundscape has to offer the user while out and about. I have downloaded the app and tried it out in my neighborhood, and it is really cool! I even marked a location, and set a beacon!

Microsoft encourages users to report pros and cons about the Soundscape app. Thus far, the feedback has been quite positive. They have received overwhelming feedback from college students using the app to help with navigating their campus.

First Time:
Amos recommends first time users try the app in a familiar environment to get acquainted with it. Start by figuring out what you hear, what does it mean, and start making sense of the directionality of the sounds. Place a beacon on somewhere you know the route to, and see how that plays out.

Contact Information:
To get access to Microsoft Soundscape check out their website at MicrosoftSoundscape
A simple and fun map app from the Enable team in Microsoft, particularly useful for people who are blind or low vision.

International Perspective

By John Snowling

United Kingdom
A bit of Information:
I live in a small city in the county of Cumbria at the very far north of England. The population is 75,306. The city has a few cobbled streets. If I were to go in a car from my home it would probably take me around 10 minutes give or take a minute to get directly over the border into Scotland.
To the west and south of my location is the Lake District national park and other famous areas where William Wordsworth wrote his poems and the children's book, Swallows. Amazon was also based in my county.

There aren't many schools for the blind and partially sighted about these days. My old school, St. Vincent's school for the blind in Liverpool now takes multi disabled people besides children with visual impairment. Most children either seem to go into mainstream education or go long distance to places like Henshaws in Yorkshire or new college Worcester, which is in the middle of the country.

Both braille and mobility are taught within school, but one can learn braille outside of school. Mobility can also be taught to individuals by a rehabilitation officer as part of your local social services. The county of Cumbria is a large county in square miles and I know we have one person covering the north and east of the county who might be in the city on one day a week. At one time we didn't have a mobility officer here and I waited close on 9 years to get a new cane and some extra training.

Blind children do play sports in school. There are organisations who cover blind sports such as Soccer, Golf, Goal Ball, and in Scotland I believe, Curling too. Some sighted clubs do have blind members like Chess clubs, but I've not seen any sports or recreation in my area.

There is a Disability Employment adviser to help with applying for jobs. Alas here though, not many people with visual impairment, including totally blind people, work because the employer has to foot the cost for the assistive tech. You can get access to work benefit which will help with costs, but because of the size of the county it’s not easy to get from A to B.

yes, blind people do go to colleges for the blind and to university too. I have been in both worlds. I went to a college for the blind for 5 years and then I went into mainstream college for 4 years, which I really loved.
Some universities are good at offering support for people with disabilities and some aren't. Students do get grants to buy equipment and I believe there is a way for students to access course handouts and stuff online.

Some parts of the country have Ring and Ride, which is a small bus that takes people from home to say, shopping. In this part of the world, I don't think we have anything like that. You can get what's called a Blue Badge so that if someone takes you out, you can park in a disabled parking spot.
I think that you can get a bus pass, but its reduced fares. There is a rail pass, again, it reduces the cost of train travel. I can call by phone for a taxi normally on the same day, but to be sure, I can order it the night before. The Transport in this part of the world isn't good. If I wanted to visit my mum, 18 miles west, there are only two busses that go from the bus station in town.
Although I live in Carlisle, I live just under a quarter of a mile from the city centre in a little area called Denton Holme. This area has some of the best shops and tons of eating places due to our high student population.

Streets & Crossings:
Some streets have what we call Pelican Crossings. When you press the button on the post, and when it’s safe to cross the road, it beeps or a metal thing spins around underneath.
The paving has tactile dots that you can feel under your feet. Some kerbs are ramped but not all.

Some lifts are brailed with buttons and one or two restaurants have braille menus. You can receive braille bank statements but they are very slow to arrive. Most banks either supply stuff on audio CD or you can check information with their banking app or by phone.

We used to have several guide dog training centres in England but I think the majority closed down. I think the nearest guide dog training area is in Scotland. I believe there are over 2 million blind people in the UK, less than 1 percent have dogs.
Even if you are totally blind, you will not automatically get a dog. You have to be traveling daily to be qualified to receive one.

Yes, blind people in England and the UK do receive benefits. At the moment, I receive Employment and Support allowance. I'm in the support group due to ill health, so I am not required to work. I also receive personal Independence Payment, or PIP which I get once a month to help with my daily needs.
In order to purchase computers or screen readers, you can get grants from charities. Our social services here don't provide SMA's for Jaws or stuff like that.

You can get talking books from the RNIB, Royal National Institute for blind people. You can get books in braille, on USB stick and Daisy CD as well as download books to Overdrive on a PC or other smart app's on iPhone.

We have the RNIB, who are based in peterborough and London. They offer advice and products for sale.
We have a company called Sight and Sound Technology, who provide equipment and also Jaws and SMA’s.
We do have a local blind society but that tends to be for older people. I have had very little contact with my local society.

I feel it’s a mixed reaction to us in this part of the country. The majority of people are helpful but there are those who can cause hate crimes like abusive taunts and that could be through ignorance. I don't really think things can be improved in this area.
Sometimes it feels like blind Organizations like RNIB and others don't listen to younger blind people. This part of the world doesn't have a ton of services.
I know if I visit my family out in the country the nearest social services is a good 20 miles away.
I have never really looked into a Ring and Ride service which I used to use when I lived in Birmingham in the West Midlands.
here I tend to get my frozen foods and groceries delivered by Wiltshire Farm Foods who do great meals for my talking microwave and Sainsbury's who deliver the rest of what I need. I have tons of food places near where I live, with my favourite just around the corner from where I live.

Exercise, does a body good

By Dan Kiely

Welcome back to another edition of Exercise Does A Body Good. I have some more Pilates exercises to share with you. Refer to my article in the January edition to see what Pilates is all about, and the other exercises.

Exercise 1: The Bicycle Wheel.
Starting Position: Lay on the floor on your right side, with body in straight alignment. Imagine you are sitting on a bicycle while laying down in this position.
Movement: Raise your left leg 3 to 4 inches above your right leg. Pretending there is a pedal at the bottom of your left foot, bend your hip and knee towards your chest and then push your leg down and straight out. Without stopping, continue to “pedal”, by moving your left leg back and around to your chest. This is the clockwise motion of riding a bicycle. Think hip and knee forward to 90 degrees, straighten leg to neutral position, and hyperextend hip, and repeat.
Repetitions: 15 rotations for both clockwise and counter clockwise.
Muscles: The bicycle wheel works the hip flexors muscles, hip extensor muscles, and definitely works the range of motion for your hips.
Note: Do this exercise slowly until you get the hang of it.

Exercise 2: Hip Adduction.
Starting Position: Remain on your right side, lift your left hip and leg about four to six inches away from your right leg. Keep your knee straight and your toes pointed. Hold your left leg in this position throughout the exercise.
Movement: Lift your right leg up towards your left leg and back down to the floor. Think of trying to put your two legs together. You do not need to hold this position, just touch your heels and repeat.
Repetitions: 15 times. After completeing15 reps of exercise one and two, roll over onto your left side, and work your right hip and leg.
Muscles: This exercise works both the inner & outer thighs.

Exercise 3: Superman With A Twist.
Starting Position: lie on your stomach with feet hip width apart. Arms, shoulder width apart, and outstretched in front of you. You should resemble superman when flying.
Movement: lift arms, hands, legs, and feet off the ground, about 2 to 3 inches, for 30 seconds. While holding this position, I want you to click your heels together, move them apart, and repeat this motion of together. And apart. Count how many times you can click your heels together in 30 seconds. Remember engage your stomach muscles throughout this exercise.
Repetitions: Do these 3 separate times, working your way up to more.
Muscles: This exercise will work hamstrings, buttocks, abdomen lower and upper back.

Exercise 4: Sit Ups.
Starting Position: Lie down with your lower and upper back flat on the floor. Legs straight out and flat on the floor, about hip width apart. Raise your hands and arms overhead on the floor.
Movement: Contract your abdomen muscles, and keep them engaged throughout this movement. Raised your arms off the floor till they are perpendicular to the floor or at 90 degrees. Then Curl your head, neck and upper torso off the floor. Keeping stomach muscles engaged, reach forward so your fingers touch your toes. Once your fingers touch your toes, slowly lower your upper torso back to the starting position.
Repetitions: 15 to 25 reps.
Muscles: This exercise works your abdomen.

Health tip:
Good Sitting Posture; How to improve posture for a healthy back.
Correct sitting position: Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. All 3 normal back curves should be present while sitting. Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips. Bend your knees at a right angle, and keep your feet flat on the floor. Try to maintain good sitting posture to prevent neck and low back pain.
Well that is it for this month and remember, Exercise Does a Body Good!

Have I Got A Story For You

By Carla Jo Bratton

Chilly greetings book readers,
One of the perks of winter is boots, perfect boot wearing weather here, and 1 more is tucking into a couple of really great books. This month I bring you 3 h’s; Historical, humor and horror.

First, the historical!
The Glass Ocean
written by Beatriz Williams, Karen White, Vanessa Johansson, and Lauren Willig
reading time: 13 hours and 45 minutes
not on RNIB or CELA yet

Her finances are in dire straits, and best-selling author Sarah Blake is struggling to find a big idea for her next book. Desperate, she breaks the one promise she made to her Alzheimer’s-stricken mother and opens an old chest that belonged to her great-grandfather, who died when the RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat in 1915. What she discovers there could change history.

Sarah embarks on an ambitious journey to England to enlist the help of John Langford, a recently disgraced member of parliament whose family archives might contain the only key to the long-ago catastrophe.

April 1915: Southern belle Caroline Telfair Hochstetter’s marriage is in crisis. Her formerly attentive industrialist husband, Gilbert, has become remote, preoccupied with business, and something else on which she can’t quite put a finger. She’s hoping a trip to London in Lusitania’s lavish first-class accommodations will help them reconnect, but she can’t ignore the spark she feels for her old friend, Robert Langford, who turns out to be on the same voyage. Feeling restless and longing for a different existence, Caroline is determined to stop being a bystander and take charge of her own life.

Tessa Fairweather is traveling second-class on the Lusitania, returning home to Devon. Or at least, that’s her story. Tessa has never left the US, and her English accent is a hasty fake. She’s really Tennessee Schaff, the daughter of a roving con man, and she can steal and forge just about anything. But she’s had enough. Her partner has promised that if they can pull off this one last heist aboard the Lusitania, they’ll finally leave the game behind. Tess desperately wants to believe that, but Tess has the uneasy feeling there’s something about this job that isn’t as it seems.

As the Lusitania steams toward its fate, three women work against time to unravel a plot that will change the course of their own lives, and history itself.

My comments; Combine political intrigue, a Southern debutante and a couple of con-women, set against the backdrop of the historical sinking of a luxury cruise ship and you get a great story. The book does flip back and forth between the past and the present, but it was very easy to follow and to get caught up in the beautiful tale.

Here’s the humor!
The Undomestic Goddess
written by Sophie Kinsella
reading time: 12 hours and 1 minute
RNIB number is TB15218
CELA number is only in braille BR73580

Workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has just done the unthinkable. She's made a mistake so huge, it'll wreck any chance of a partnership.

Going into utter meltdown, she walks out of her London office, gets on a train, and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Asking for directions at a big, beautiful house, she's mistaken for an interviewee and finds herself being offered a job as housekeeper. Her employers have no idea they've hired a lawyer, and Samantha has no idea how to work the oven. She can't sew on a button, bake a potato, or get the #%# ironing board to open. How she takes a deep breath and begins to cope, and finds love is a story as delicious as the bread she learns to bake.

But will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does, will she want it back?

My comments; This one has some strong language and some descriptions of sex. Kinsella is well known for her sharp, witty novels and this one does not disappoint.

And now for the Horror!
Bird Box
written by Josh Malerman
reading time: 7 hours and 40 minutes
RNIB number; TB700689
CELA has 4 formats, but all in French

Something is out there, something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, Malorie has long dreamed of fleeing to a place where her family might be safe. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: 20 miles downriver in a rowboat blindfolded with nothing to rely on but Malorie's wits and the children's trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey, a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motley group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside and confront the ultimate question: In a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman's breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.

My comments; Heads up, lots of graphic violence and strong language in this one. As usual, the book is very different from the hit movie. I’ll not give any spoilers. I’m glad I read the book first. I expect more greatness from Josh Malerman.

Thanks so much to those of you who have written to me, I’ve kept your book suggestions for a future article. There are some really great books to look forward to in 2019.
Until next time, Happy reading, Carla jo

The Braille Highway

By Nat Armeni

Hello and welcome to the Braille Highway for the month of February!

What a better way to begin the new year, than with a Braille Pal! You will not only be able to practice your braille skills, but you can make a new friend. The Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER), International Services & Global Issues Division has begun a “Braille Pals” initiative.

Braille users and learners at any level can develop friendships with others from around the world. This program currently has a classroom of students from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired communicating with other students in India. They welcome more classrooms and individual students to communicate and practice their braille with other similarly-aged students around the world.

The main concept of this initiative is to encourage braille along with friendships. However, braille does not need to be the only form of communication, as individuals with low vision and non-braille users are welcomed. Both adults and children are encouraged to participate.

Participants are connected initially through email. It is then up to the Braille Pals to exchange addresses to begin writing in braille or continue communicating through email.

There are several Pals from many countries who are either using or learning UEB (Unified English Braille), and they would like to have a Braille Pal to practice and communicate with. These individuals come from such countries as Algeria, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Macedonia, and Poland.

If you are interested in becoming part of this Braille Pal initiative, please email Lisa Johnson at LMJohnson1025@gmail.com
Be sure to provide your name, location (state, country), age, gender, the languages you speak, your level of braille in English (you may include other languages that you braille), and other information that may help connect you with an appropriate Braille Pal.

Braille user's do it with feelings. Why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Remember to stay on the dotted line of life. Stay safe and we will talk again in March.

Kaleidoscope of Krafts

By Lindy van der Merwe

Welcome once again to all readers to the February Kaleidoscope of Krafts. For this month we will be doing a craft we've done before, but making something a little different. We will be using macramé to make a wall hanging. Macramé is still popular and I was fortunate to have recently come across a fairly easy pattern that I am sharing below. The original article, including the pattern and pictures of the process and finished wall hanging is mentioned under the sources at the end of this article.

This pattern is an easy one for beginners. The cord used in the original project has a thickness of 3/16 inches, but you could use any thickness and kind of cord you like. Just keep in mind that the type and thickness of the cord you use will determine the size and appearance of your finished wall hanging.

You will need:
One dowel rod [about 7/8 inches or 2 cm) circumference and 28 inches or 70 cm long]
Two ceramic or wood knobs to fit over the ends of the dowel
Five 100-foot rolls of cord of your choice, e.g. cotton clothesline (3/16 inches was used for this project))

You will need to know how to do the following two knots to complete this project.
First, the lark's head knot:
This knot is used to mount or tie your cords onto the dowel from which your macramé creation will be hanging.
1. Fold your cord in half by joining the ends together.
2. Place the folded “loop” behind your dowel with the two ends hanging down.
3. Bring the ends up, in front of and around the dowel and towards the back through the loop.
4. Pull tight to secure the larks head knot.

Secondly, the square knot, which includes the alternating square knot and the double square knot.
To make the alternating square knot, do the following two steps:
Work with four cords:
First step: take the right cord and bring it over the two filler cords and then under the left cord. Then, take the left cord, bring it under the filler cords and pull it through the loop on the right. Pull on both sides to tighten your knot. This completes the first part of your square knot.
Second step: take the left cord and bring it over the two filler cords and then under the right cord. Then, take the right cord, bring it under the filler cords and pull it through the loop on the left. Pull on both sides to tighten your knot. You have now completed one square knot.

To do the double square knot:
Work with eight cords instead of four.
First step: take the two right cords and bring them over the four filler cords and then under the two left cords. Then, take the two left cords, bring them under the four filler cords and pull them through the loop on the right. Pull on both sides to tighten your knot. This completes the first part of your double square knot.
Second step: take the two left cords and bring them over the four filler cords and then under the two right cords. Then, take the two right cords, bring them under the four filler cords and pull them through the loop on the left. Pull on both sides to tighten your knot. You have now completed one double square knot.

Step 1. Preparation and setting up:
Cut the cord into 28 pieces, each 16 feet or around 5 metres long. Tie the cords onto the dowel, using a lark's head knot as described above.

Step 2. Working the pattern:
Now that you have 28 lark’s head knots (56 cords in total) tied onto your dowel, and you’ve mastered the Square Knot, it’s time to begin weaving the wall-hanging. The project consists of 25 total rows. Remember to always start on the left, from the cord indicated in the pattern, and work your way to the right for each row.

Macramé pattern key:
K = square knot or alternating square knot
DN = double square knot
S = skip
Tip: When skipping spaces between rows, check constantly to make sure they are even.

1. Start with 1st cord: 14K
2. Start with 3rd cord: 13K
3. Start with 1st cord: 3K, S4, 6K, S4, 3K
4. Start with 3rd cord: 2K, S8, 5K, S8, 2K
5. Start with 1st cord: 2K, S2, 1DN, S2, 4K, S2, 1DN, S2, 2K
6. Start with 3rd cord: 2K, S8, 2K, S4, 2K, S8, 2K
7. Start with 5th cord: 2K, S4, 2K, S8, 2K, S4, 2K
8. Start with 7th cord: 4K, S12, 4K
9. Start with 9th cord: 3K, S16, 3K
10. Start with 11th cord: 2K, S20, 2K
11. Start with 13th cord: 1K, S10, 1K, S10, 1K
12. Start with 11th cord: 2K, S20, 2K
13. Start with 9th cord: 3K, S16, 3K
14. Start with 7th cord: 4K, S12, 4K
15. Start with 5th cord: 2K, S4, 2K, S8, 2K, S4, 2K
16. Start with 3rd cord: 2K, S8, 2K, S4, 2K, S8, 2K
17. Start with 1st cord: 2K, S12, 4K, S12, 2K
18. Start with 3rd cord: 2K, S8, 5K, S8, 2K
19. Start with 1st cord: 3K, S4, 6K, S4, 3K
20. Start with 3rd cord: 13K
21. Start with 1st cord: 14K
22. (Begin this row about 5 inches lower than the last row.) Start with 1st cord: 14K
23. Start with 3rd cord: 13K
24. (Begin this row about 5 inches lower than the last row.) Start with 9th cord: 1K, S8, 1K, S8, 1K, S8, 1K
25. (Begin this row about 4 inches lower than the last row.) Start with 3rd cord: 1K, S8, 1K, S8, 1K, S8, 1K, S8, 1K

Step 3. Trimming the bottom:
There are many different ways to cut or trim the ends of a wall hanging. For this project, a V-shape is suggested. Alternatively, you might want to cut the ends of the cords to hang in a straight line and depending on the type of cord you used, the ends could be pulled apart to create a tufted look.
If you don't feel up to doing the cutting, perhaps ask someone to help with this last step. Place the hanging on a flat surface, straighten all the cords and cut the ends into the preferred shape.

Step 4. Finishing touches:
Attach a knob to each side of the dowel or alternatively, you could simply tie a short piece of cord near the ends of the dowel in order to keep your hanging in position.
Once the project hangs straight from the dowel, a final check can be made to ensure the bottom ends are neat and form the desired shape chosen in the previous step.
One of the advantages of a knotted wall hanging is of course that it will not only serve as a feature against a wall but the texture will be nice to feel as well. When choosing cord, consider things such as the color scheme of the room where you'd like to hang your creation as well as the look you want to achieve. For example, silk or satin cord in a soft color could work well in a formal room while jute or twine might look better in a more informal setting.
Along these lines, consider hanging the macramé piece directly against your wall, or you could hang it on or within a frame that will serve as a background for the wall hanging.

As always, please feel free to write with any questions or comments and I hope you will try out this project for yourself.


Spencer's Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer

Okay, I seem to be in a speaker mode. At least I managed to step away from the kitchen. This month’s featured speaker is brand new to me, in fact, I had never heard of this type of product. It was a gift from some special friends of mine for my birthday.

When I opened the box, I had no earthly idea what it was. I called up Aira and the agent told me it was a neck speaker. I thought, neck speaker? Then I had the agent read the instructions and the more she read, the more excited I became about this speaker concept.

What an ingenious idea this is especially for the blind. This is a new way to listen to your audio content. Wear your music while you do what you do. Wear this body speaker while doing chores, at the gym, walking, or just at home relaxing.

Because the speaker is situated below your ears, this is the safest way to listen to your music while being alert to your surroundings and enjoying full body stereo sound. More than just a speaker, this speaker is also Bluetooth capable, so you can pair it to your phone or other Bluetooth device and play the content through the neck speaker.

You can also answer and talk on the phone. It has a micro SD slot so you could load described movies or books on to a micro SD card or a flash drive. There is even a radio built-in.

I have really enjoyed having this speaker. One thing I have noticed about it, there is nothing on your head or in your ears. Unlike other speakers, you have to pick them up and carry them from room to room, but with the neck speaker design, the sound goes wherever you go!

This speaker is no longer in stock where it was purchased, so I went to my go to place for technology, Amazon. You weren't surprised, were you? The price ranges from around 40 dollars and up. So, my advice is if you are interested in getting a neck or body speaker, check the options, read the reviews and product details, and make an informed decision.
Happy safe listening.

Computer Tech101

By Jim Morgan

This is Computer Tech 101 Unplugged! Actually, I’m going to do a little pro / con comparison between wired and wireless devices. Both have their merits and limitations. Given that we just went through the holiday season, I thought I’d give you all some ideas for spending all that holiday Money you got ;).

Just so you don’t get excited, as far as ports on the computer are concerned, it doesn’t matter which you use so you won’t gain any USB ports by going Wireless. For those that don’t know, in the case of a wireless device, such as a keyboard, there is a transmitter/receiver that plugs into the USB port just like a “regular” wired device so that the wireless device in question can connect with the computer.

Okay, with regard to traditional wired devices, such as keyboards, mice, headsets, etc., they either use no power at all, get it from the computer through the USB port, or plug directly into an electrical outlet. The limitation is that they can only go as far as the cable that connects them to the computer and, in the case of direct electrical connections, also have to be near an electrical plug. As long as the electricity and, of course, the computer, is on, they’ll work.

Wireless devices, on the other hand, use batteries in the device even though the transmitter/receiver gets its’ power from the computer. I don’t suppose I need to say what the possible sticking point here could be. I have a family member that likes to use a wireless keyboard and mouse and has had them fail when he’s doing something because the batteries died. Now, all he had to do was to replace the batteries and he was back up and running, but it still can be an annoyance when you’re right in the middle of something. On the other hand, theoretically, he could use the mouse and keyboard from the next room just as if he was sitting in front of the computer. This could be particularly handy with headphones, a headset, or speakers and the mouse and keyboard I mentioned. The computer could be in the family Room and you could be sitting in bed using it as if you were in the other room.

For those Conspiracy Buffs out there, don’t be afraid of using wireless devices because you think the Government or Microsoft will be intercepting the signal and getting information they shouldn’t. While it is possible to intercept these signals since they are a form of Radio, it is very difficult; to say nothing about actually interpreting or deciphering the signal received. This is quite a bit different from pinning a cell phone or using GPS to locate someone. Besides, as I’ve said before about such things, nobody cares about what you’re doing unless you give them a GOOD reason to care. In addition, such things come under the heading of the Privacy Act and require Warrants. In other words, don’t worry about it.

This, of course, doesn’t apply to Network/Internet connections since, in most cases, both the transmitter, otherwise known as the computer, and the receiver, otherwise known as the Router, are both electrically powered and don’t run the risk of using up a battery. Of course, your laptop, tablet, and Smartphone do use batteries, but they’re easily recharged and, in some cases, will run off a regular electrical outlet or car-power. As I said, different rules apply.

As you all know, I don’t endorse one thing over another since we’re all different, but, personally, I prefer Wired things because I don’t have to worry about replacing batteries and the distances aren’t really important to me. But, as always, it’s up to you as to which to use since both are relatively inexpensive and mostly easy to install and use.

I know this one was kind of short, but I think we’re all still recovering from the Holidays; including me. As always, should you have any questions about this or any other PC topic, please don’t hesitate to send me a message, my email address is at the top of this article. I’ll answer as soon as I can; one way or another. Happy Computing!

A Time to Plant

By Sue Brasel

How does your garden grow? Do you remember that part of a nursery rhyme?

Due to ground and cold weather conditions in the winter, many people can only dream of their outdoor gardens. Some of us try to purify our indoor environment with houseplants.

Consider planting bulbs if you want blooming plants indoors. Find out if your bulbs have been through a chill time. Some bulbs, such as amaryllis, don’t need a chill time. Watch or listen to YouTube telling how to grow bulbs inside. Some bulbs grow well on rocks or marbles, and only need watering to produce flowers. Other bulbs need to grow in soil. Packages should tell how long between planting and blooming that you can expect to wait.

Have you heard of tallandsia, also known as air plants? These are plants that can grow without soil. Usually, they have long, thin, triangular shaped or short, broad leaves, with tubular or funnel shaped flowers. From mid Argentina to Central America and the southern part of the United States air plants can be found in their native environments. There are many varieties, sizes and colors of these beauties.

Air plants like humidity; they enjoy being misted. They will be a silvery color before moisturizing, then turn greener once spritzed. Dunk the whole plant in water for a few hours or overnight if they become really dry, then return them to their containers. Make sure these plants dry between watering.

In the wild, roots attach air plants to trees, shrubs, rocks and the ground. Some plants seem to not have or need any roots!

Keep air plants in sunny locations. You can use orchid clips to attach these plants to some surfaces, or they can be placed in containers.

Because their native habitats are diverse, there is not a one size fits all answer to caring for all tallandsias. In a warm temperature growing zone, you may notice that bats, hummingbirds or moths are common pollinators outside.

If you decide to garden with low maintenance air plants, you can expect to pay 3 to 10 dollars per plant, depending on its size. I hope you enjoy the experience.

Once again, it is “thyme” for me to get back to my plants. Happy gardening!

the Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently

By Lois Strachan

I love hearing from readers who have questions about travel. This month’s article comes from a suggestion from David, who mailed me to ask how I navigate airports.

While traveling by air is by no means the only way to get from one place to another, it’s often the quickest way to travel long distances. Like anything else, air travel has advantages and disadvantages, especially for those of us who travel with our guide dogs. Navigating airports is just one aspect of air travel that needs to be considered by a visually impaired traveler.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised my first suggestion is to prepare. Take time to think through each part of the process; how you’ll get to the airport, how you’ll get from the transport drop-off zone to the airline check-in desk, and how you’ll get from there to the gate. More than that, what will you need at each stage. Because, as the old saying goes, forewarned is forearmed! Preparation may not remove all the stress of airport travel, but it should help minimise some of the uncertainties.

As you’d expect, there are a number of ways to navigate an airport depending on your personal preferences and skills. I usually prefer having sighted assistance, either a traveling companion or a member of the airport disability services (in South Africa they’re the Meet and Assist Team). I’ve had some experiences with poorly trained M&A personnel, like when they assume that all M&A passengers “must” need a wheelchair. but I generally find they’re happy to listen to my preferences and help me accordingly. I’m lucky that I’m totally comfortable explaining my specific needs, I know some people hesitate to do so, but it really helps the person assisting you.

If I’m with a traveling companion, usually my husband, getting through the airport is simple. We climb out the car, navigate to the check-in desk, go through security, and make our way to the gate. Simple, right?

If I’m travelling alone, I try to ensure I always have sighted assistance, whether my Uber driver helps me find airport personnel to guide me to the check-in desk, or I pre-arrange for someone to assist me.

Once I’m checked in a member of the Meet and assist Team will be with me. If Fiji, my guide dog, is accompanying me I prefer for her to guide me and the M&A Team member just walks with us. If I’m travelling without my dog, I’ll let them guide me. But I guess we all have different preferences, and it helps to be able to explain what those are.

Nowadays we have another option to help us navigate an airport; technology, in this case services like Aira or Be My Eyes. I haven’t yet tried either service to navigate an airport but wanted to find out what it was like. So, I asked Pete Lane from the Blind Abilities podcast, who’s an Aira Explorer, how it worked for him.

Pete described the sheer thrill of being able to walk by himself through an entire airport as exhilarating. Never before had he been able to do so without sighted assistance. Using the Aira Horizon glasses he was able to navigate from the transportation drop-off area, to the airline ticket counter for check-in and right the way to the gate, even being able to access the restaurants and restrooms independently. He did caution that the Aira service, like any technology, is only effective when the hardware and software are fully operational and that he experienced some challenges due to the sporadic unreliability of the cellular network. But Pete said the experience was “life-changing” and added how remarkable it was to be able to tell those who offered him assistance, “No thanks! I’m fine on my own!"

A final piece of advice from me on the subject of airports. No matter how organized you are, how great your preparation, there’s still a good chance that something might not go quite as you expect. So be sure to pack extra patience, friendliness and an extra packet of smiles into your carry-on luggage, just in case!

Until next time… Happy travel!

Dirty Work

By Manny Morales
Dryer Sheets

I hope some of you used the cleaning procedures from last month’s article to clean your mirrors. Even if you don’t use them, it is nice to keep them clean. I also stated last month not to throw away those used dryer sheets. Why, you may say? Well I have many useful uses for them. I am all about reusing and recycling, as you will read in my articles.

My first use for dryer sheets is one we can all benefit from. How many electronics have we accumulated over the years? Probably a lot, right? Electronics are basically magnets for dust, since they are electrically charged. Use a dryer sheet to wipe them clean, and the static will be counteracted, meaning less dust will be attracted to them in the future.

Here is a use for dryer sheets that I use quite often. If you have a guide dog or a furry pet, these sheets are great for picking up pet hair. Simply wipe a dryer sheet over areas littered with pet hair to effortlessly lift it and leave your home looking spotless. It especially works well along the baseboards and the corners of rooms where the hair seems to accumulate.

Dryer sheets work in the bathroom too! Wet the sheet and wipe off soap scum build up from the shower. I used to use this technique to clean the sinks in the high school bathrooms.

I learned this next use from the high school art teacher. Put a dryer sheet in a container of hot water with paintbrushes to soak, and it will help lift paint from them. Who knew?

The texturized surface of dryer sheets is perfect for polishing away marks on stainless steel and chrome fixtures. Just use a dry sheet in circular motions to get surfaces shining again!

When its very cold outside, those outdoor rodents may want to take up residence in your home for the winter. To avoid that from happening, place dryer sheets in garden sheds, in your garage and anywhere else you have an issue to ward off mice, squirrels, and rats. This may not be a specific cleaning usage, but if you get those critters in your house, you’ll be cleaning up after them!

Here is one more use, cleaning up dry spills. How many of you have spilled flour and tried cleaning it up with a wet sponge or cloth, only to make a bigger mess? A dryer sheet’s slightly texturized surface and fibers will lift and hold dry particles in place to make cleanup a breeze.

So, don’t throw away those used dryer sheets as they have many more uses! Remember it’s dirty work, but clean fun!

The Beauty Parlor

By Christy Ray
Happy New Year!

Skincare tip:
During the winter months, our skin can become dryer than usual. It is alright to use more lotion. When applying eye cream, use your ring fingers. These fingers provide less strength and are safer for your eyes.

If you have any questions or suggestions to share, please email me at my address above.

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine

This month I am sharing one of my daughter’s favorite comfort foods, homemade stuffed shells! I take a weekend day and make a whole bunch of these delicious pasta delights, (doubling the recipe below). Stuffed shells are both yummy and filling, a little goes a long way. Therefore, I have plenty to freeze and save for future dinners! This dish is also great if you have a number of house guests staying with you, and it will please vegetarians too!

1 box of jumbo pasta shells
1 15-oz. container ricotta cheese
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon each basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme
1 26-oz. jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce (or your homemade sauce)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cook pasta shells according to directions; drain and set aside to cool.
3. While pasta cooks, in a large bowl, stir together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, and spices.
4. Spread 3/4 cup spaghetti sauce over bottom of a 13 X 9 baking dish.
5. Stuff each shell with cheese and spinach mixture, about 1 tablespoonful, and place in baking dish.
6. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella.
7. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
8. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes longer, until bubbly and cheese begins to brown.
Serve with an antipasto salad and fresh Italian bread for a great dinner!

Variations: Brown some ground beef or turkey to add to your sauce.
To freeze: Once the shells have completely cooled, place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer, for about 15 minutes., or until frozen. Then remove the shells, separating any that may have frozen together, and store them in a large freezer bag. Then the next time you are craving stuffed shells or need a quick delicious dinner, take out the amount you need and reheat in the oven with more sauce on top.
Bon Appetito!

Riddle & Brain Buster

By Alex Smart


What question can someone ask all day long, always get completely different answers, and yet all the answers could be correct?

Answer to January’s riddle
I am rarely touched but often held, and if you are smart you'll use me well. What am I?

Brain Buster

Overlapping States
The word marine consists of five consecutive overlapping state postal abbreviations. Massachusetts, Arkansas, Rhode Island, Indiana,and Nebraska. Think of a common 7 letter word that has the same property. Hint, the first letter is also m.

Answers to January’s brain buster
Dis Information
Blank was filled with alarm by the mess the butler left her to cclean up. Dismayed.
I managed to convince Elvis by argument not to use Blank for his blue shoes. Dissuade.
We decided to take the money from blank we found on the street and scatter it about. Disperse.
One who argues with me a lot said blank plate is not as pretty as the bronze one. Disputer.
The perfume tester said, “I do not agree with the majority, blank stinks. Dissent.

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