Greetings from the Editor
Sponsor of the Month
Movers & Shakers
Exercise, does a body good
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
A Time to Plant
The Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
The Beauty Parlor
Riddle & Brain Buster
The Blind Perspective Newsletter has been produced in such a manner that makes it easier to stroll through the articles. If you are using JAWS, System Access, NVDA, or Window Eyes, press the letter H to move through the headings. If you are wanting to skip back simply press the shift key + the letter H. For MAC users, press Control Option Command plus the letter H and to go backwards through the articles press Control Option Command shift plus the letter H. If one of the links do not work for you just copy and paste it in to your browser and it should work.
By Karen Santiago
Once again, the writers have been very busy supplying the newsletter with informative, educational, and entertaining articles for you to read. Remember if there is something you want to learn more about, or how to do something, just email the author with your question or suggestion. Each newsletter contains the direct email addresses of all writers, making it easy for you to contact them.
By the way, I need someone to interview for my May edition of the International Perspective. If interested, email me atKaren@TheBlindPerspective.com.
Enjoy this month's newsletter!
Remember you can also choose to listen to our audio version of the newsletter, link below: The Blind Perspective Audio
At A Glance: Out of Sight, Blind Sports, Mexico, Stability Ball, Road Trip, Book to Movie, and Creepy, Why Braille, Washcloths, Activated Mat, Passwords, Herbs, Questions, The Kitchen, Sunscreen, Microwaveable, Riddle, & Brain Buster, and Classifieds!
Sponsor of the Month
The time is right to join Out-Of-Sight!.
We are a group of blind fun-loving, congenial, and interesting people from all over the world, who use our screen-readers and microphones to play games, chat, learn, and socialize on our own internet TeamTalk server.
We have a full schedule of activities every day and evening and you can drop in whenever you wish. We display our musical talents and play music in our music rooms. You can get help with your computer, your iPhone, your cooking, and your chess game, or you can just simply have fun! We also have a book-discussion group and Bible groups, and we are always looking for new DJís for our Out-Of-Sight Internet Radio Station. There is no end to the stimulation, excitement, and camaraderie you will experience.
To join us and receive your materials, simply send your real name, a preferred nickname if any, your email address, and your phone number to: OOSNHQ@gmail.com
We sum it up by saying: "Catch the vision--itís Out of Sight!"
Movers & Shakers
By Karen Santiago Karen@TheBlindPrspective.com
A short time ago, I had a very enlightening phone conversation with Lance Mathena. Read on to learn about Lance and the organization he created.
Lance lives in Lakebay, Washington with his wife of 25 years. He has four children and 8 grandchildren. Before losing his sight, he was a database administrator at Madigan Army Hospital. He also had been a continuous college student most of his life.
While at a night class at Pierce College, Lance had to sneeze. To avoid sneezing on two other students in his group, he turned his head to the right and sneezed. The next thing Lance remembered was being on a gurney and a paramedic telling someone to notify his next of kin. Lance had ruptured four discs in his neck with that sneeze!
He had emergency surgery to fuse his neck. However, they only did half the job. They had left one of the nerves pinched in his neck. About ten months afterwards Lance was reaching under his desk to pick up a pen, and he heard a pop in his neck. Lance said the pain level jumped up to about 1000 percent.
Lance found another surgeon who said he could perform the surgery, adding that it was a fairly routine procedure. Lance had the surgery in August 2014, in the town of Federal Way, but when he woke up six days later, he was in Tacoma. The surgeon had an accident during the surgery and severed one of the arteries in Lanceís neck. When the doctor had packed off the wound, he had created a blood clot that lodged in the back of Lanceís brain, which killed most of the area where the optic nerve connects. As a result, Lance has about 3 to5 percent of his vision. The remaining vision is in the lower right corner of each eye, and itís peripheral. Long story short, it took 2 Ĺ years to settle the case out of court.
After all of this, Lance went to the V A blind rehab program at American Light. The optometrist said to lance that she wanted to work with him in using what limited vision he had left. So, after a few sessions with her, he was able to independently use the bottom right corners of his eyes. It was, and at times still is, difficult to be unable to focus his eyes, having to force his muscles not to move.
Lance was collecting his disability and social security benefit, but wanted and needed more than just sitting on the couch watching television. He went to a sportsman show and purchased a deer hunt from a Washington state outfitter, not knowing if he could even do it. He went out and practiced, and realized that the vision in the bottom right corners of his eyes lined up perfectly with the rifle scope. So once someone pointed out where to shoot, he could do it.
In October of 2017 Lance went on the hunt. The first thing he had to do, amongst sighted individuals, was to shoot at a target from 100 yards. This was to show the outfitter that everyone understood where they were shooting. Needless to say, Lance was sweating. Lance pulled the trigger and boom, dead bullseye. Lance said that that particular moment was a turning point in his life, because he could do it!
The next morning, they went out to hunt for deer. It took Lance four shots, but he got one, the very first day. Lance was on cloud nine for the next three days; reminiscing, joyful, not a care in the world, and being someplace that he is normally not at.
He came home from the trip a changed man. He realized that he could still have the opportunity to go out and experience some of the freedom he used to own. He then spent about six months looking for a job, even suggesting to work for nothing. Unfortunately, no one would hire him, not even the local food pantry. This was a depressing time for lance, so, to lift his spirits, he went on another hunt. In October 2018 Lance went through the process again, and came through it just fine. He got a deer on the first day, this one from 300 yards and in one shot.
With another three days to relax in the woods, Lance had been talking with Bill, a fellow hunter, and guide. He mentioned to Lance about this person who runs a nonprofit company called Home with Heroes. This company takes veterans out deer hunting. Lance thought that that was a great business, but not something he could do. Bill also added that that business was the gentlemanís way of sharing with the world, his ministry This was stuck in Lanceís head, even after he had home.
With this thought stuck in his head for a few weeks, Lance thought he had to do something. All of a sudden, the North American Association of Blind Sportsmen came into existence in his head. He realized that he would not be able to take people out and guide them. However, he could educate blind people, match them with appropriate hunts and fisheries, pair them up with the appropriate guides, and provide transportation, including air fare, lodging, meals, tags, licenses, gear, whatever was needed. Lance also wanted to be able to encourage the individuals along the way to get out and do something that they might never do on their own. In addition, help them to build some confidence in themselves and their abilities. The North American Association of Blind Sportsmen (NAABS) was founded on November 13, 2018.
Lance is the face of the organization, on the front end raising funds, meeting and speaking to outfitters, explaining and conveying the need for the services of the organization. On the back end Lance works with a volunteer force, and eventually an employee force to facilitate the meat and potatoes of getting these individuals out and doing their thing.
The best part of all of this for Lance is while he can influence the outcome, the outcomes are never about him. They are about the individual out there in the field, doing it, and making it happen!
The NAABS is a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization run by the blind, for the benefit of the blind. They fund hunting and fishing adventures for blind and vision impaired individuals through membership fees, donations, sponsorships, and grants. Their mission is to extend encouragement and empowerment to their members through successful participation in outdoor adventures they might never dare on their own.
NAABS pays for most of the expenses on these adventures. There may be small expenses that the member will need to pay, but not many, and not much.
Their sincere hope is that members who go on adventures with them will take away memories that will last a lifetime. They hope that the success they achieve with them will motivate them to change their lives. They hope that they will go out and change their world in a positive way, leaving average, and minimal survival behind forever.
Their website was just recently launched. You can go to the website, click on join, and pay the 25 dollar membership fee. At that point you will be issued a unique ID number, and will be asked to check your email for a notice regarding registration. When you go back to the site, you will go to the members area, and complete registration. Things like address, location, medical needs, food needs, medical issues, estimates of physical fitness, etc. You will be assigned a member rating based on your answers to the questions, and possibly a phone call if the answers are not clear enough. You will be allowed to apply for any and all adventures that coincide with your rating, or lower. We rate the difficulty of our adventures on a scale of 1-3. Same scale for members.
Lance Mathena, President
The North American Association of Blind Sportsmen, on Facebook
By Gerardo Corripio Karen@TheBlindPrspective.com
A Bit about the country:
Mexico is located in North America, between the United States to the North, and Guatemala and Belize to the south. It is the fifth largest country by land mass, and the 11th most populated.
Since 1993, when the Educational Reform was signed by then, president Carlos Salinas Degortari, blind children have been mainstreamed into public schools. Teachers of the Visually impaired go to these schools to help adapt materials, and to assess classroom teachers on aspects of the educational process. Parents too, play an important role, sometimes even more so than the special Education teachers. They go as far as to learn Braille themselves, to better help their sons or daughters in the educational process.
That's how it's supposed to happen, but in reality, most blind students even though they attend public school, they go once a week to what is known in Spanish as Centro de Atenciůn Mýltiple or CAM (Center for Attention of Multiple Disabilities). IN these centers, people with diverse disabilities attend in order to receive support for school. The teacher of the visually impaired adapts tasks and materials for the students.
Braille & Mobility:
Braille and O&M, are taught not as part of the school curricula, but mostly through separate blindness agencies or associations.
Blind individuals can play sports in school, local communities, and in separate sport programs. Goalball and a special type of blindness soccer are played through the blindness associations.
Most blind people here work in call centers or as a massage therapis. There are also blind individuals that work in an informal setting as musicians or blindness instructors; for which there is no certification to regulate these instructors. Those of us with university degrees, sometimes have to work outside our fields, or become self-employed in order to persue our career goals and aspirations.
IN some universities, there are programs that record, or scan books for students to read on their own. In terms of computers and other equipment, students are on their own to either purchase it or find it used. Blindness-specific technology, though, is advisable not to purchase. The reason for this is when trying to import it from other countries, like the US, lots of taxes are charged to be able to bring these devices here. Also, if a device breaks or needs maintenance here in Mexico, you're left with a museum artifact in your hands. There are no distributors that can help in sending the devices back to the States, Canada or countries of origin, for making them operational again. Here in Mexico, it's most advisable to use mainstream (Windows computers, Smartphones, or tablets), which are easier to be maintained and/ or repaired, or in extreme cases, replaced.
Here in Mexico, there are only regular taxi cabs, city buses, or relying on others to take us places when needed, or for leisure.
Sadly, it's not safe to be out and about crossing streets. Those who do because of a need, put their lives in danger! Sadly, most car and bus drivers aren't blindness-conscious of street laws and related matters. Blind people have been hit by cars, fallen into the subway (or Metro as it's called in cities where they have it like Mexico City & Monterrey) tracks, and other mishaps.
Receiving materials in Braille from banks and other utility companies would be a dream come true! Thus, Braille here in some restaurants they do have, but their menus are out of date. Also due to the fact that Braille displays are very expensive, and with no help from government or other agencies, plus as mentioned above, where if such a device were to need repair, you're left with an expensive toy in your hands. The use of Braille displays is almost nonexistent. For this reason, nowadays Braille is hardly used anymore.
There's a Guide Dog School in Mexico City. But having a Guide Dog here in Mexico, is getting into always having to fight for your rights everywhere you go. Sadly, there are no strong laws regarding Guide Dogs and their access.
Blind individuals are on their own to buy equipment for school or work. And as of this date, blind people have no monthly checks or any sort of government help to make their lives a bit less hectic in terms of economy.
IN Mexico City, there are services in which paying a monthly subscription, enables you to receive books on CDís. However, you don't select what you want to have burned, rather they burn the same CDís for everyone in the service. Blind individuals need to use Google Play Books, apple Books or other means to get what they want to read. To add insult to injury, the movie theaters have no Audio description.
Blindness organizations here in Mexico aren't regulated like those in the States and other countries. Thus, any ordinary blind group of friends can create one. Unfortunately, most blindness organizations don't prevail because the friends who create them end up disagreeing, or the services given or received, end up not being up to specs. Also, there are sometimes no specialized people who teach skills like braille, mobility, independent and daily living techniques available. thus, sadly the instruction and/or philosophical quality towards blindness, sometimes isn't the best there is.
Sadly, blindness here in Mexico, isn't given the importance it deserves. It's our job, as individuals to do so, little by little.
Weíve got a long way to go that's all I can say!
Exercise, does a body good
By Dan Kiely Dan@TheBlindPerspective.com
Welcome back exercise fans!
in this April edition, I am focusing on using the stability ball with dumbbells. Working with this combination is more challenging than working on a weight bench alone. The reason being is you have to maintain your balance on the ball, while at the same time, exercising your core muscles. Unlike the weight bench, you have to worry about falling off of the ball.
All of the below exercises will concentrate on working the chest, yep, the pecs. These are all done on your back, while lying on top of the stability ball. The ball will be placed underneath the upper back and knees will be bent at 90 degrees. feet should be at least shoulder width apart or more, for stability.
Exercise #1: The Dumbbell Chest Press.
Before beginning this exercise, sit on the ball with dumbbells in hands. Roll down onto the ball until ball is under your upper back or in between the shoulder blades, pelvis is parallel to the floor, knees are bent at 90 degrees, and feet shoulder width apart or more.
Starting Position: body on ball, dumbbells in hands, arms straight above chest, and palms grip down.
Movement: Lower weights toward chest until elbows are bent at 90 degrees. Raised arms back up to starting position, and repeat.
Repetitions: Do three sets, 15 to 20 reps.
Muscles Worked: The pectoralis major and minor muscles and shoulder muscles. With you working on the stability ball, you have also added core muscles such as the abdomen, hip, back and leg muscles.
Note: I recommend using light weighted dumbbells until you master balancing on the stability ball while exercising at the same time. Once mastered, then you can increase the weight of the dumbbells.
Exercise #2: Dumbbell Chest Flies or Butterfly.
Starting Position: Same as above.
Movement: Begin to open your chest like a butterfly opening its wings. Move your arms out, and to the side. Your wrist and elbows will begin to have a slight bend as you lower the weights outside of your chest. Continue till you reach your end range of motion. At this point, you should look like a butterfly with wings open. Once at the end of your range of motion, move your arms back to the starting position and repeat.
Repetitions: Do three sets, 15 to 20 reps.
Muscles Worked: This exercise will engage the primary muscles such as the chest and shoulders, and work the secondary muscles such as the core.
Note: Again, use light weights until you master this exercise on the stability ball. Once mastered, gradually increased the weights.
Exercise #3: Dumbbell Pullovers.
Starting Position: Same as above, but use only one dumbbell, with both hands gripping it. Arms should be out straight, and dumbbell over chest.
Movement: As you begin to lower the dumbbell over your head, you want your wrist and elbow to be slightly bent. Lower the weight over your head until you reach the end of your range of motion. Raise arms and dumbbell back to starting position, and repeat.
Repetitions: Do three sets, 15 to 25 reps.
Muscles Worked: This exercise works the primary muscles such as the chest, shoulders, and upper back muscles. It also works the secondary
muscles such as the core.
Note: Like above, use light weights until you master this exercise on the stability ball.
Let me know if you like these types of workouts using both the dumbbells and the stability ball. If so, I will continue to describe exercise that work the back, and include some that involve using your legs.
Those who suffer from low back pain or sciatica nerve pain, here is a good stretching exercise for that. In therapy they call it the piriformis streets. There are 2 ways to stretch out your piriformis:
ēLie on your back with both feet flat on the floor and both knees bent. Pull the right knee up to your chest, grasp the knee with the left hand and pull it towards the left shoulder. Hold the stretch. Repeat for each side.
ēLie on your back with both feet flat on the floor and both knees bent. Rest the ankle of your right leg over the knee of your left leg. Pull the left thigh toward the chest and hold the stretch. Repeat for each side.
Each piriformis stretch should be held for a count of 5 and eventually hold the stretch for a count of 30, 3 times a day. Good luck.
Ok, that is it for this month, happy training!
Have I Got A Story For You
By Carla Jo Bratton CarlaJo@TheBlindPerspective.com
Hello again book friends,
itís springtime here in Texas! Yeah, for warmer weather. This month I have 3 books for your consideration. A fun, epic road trip, a book that has been turned into a movie and a creepy story written by a long time favorite writer of mine. Letís go!
Road Swing, One fanís journey into Americaís sports
written by Steve Rushin
reading time:9 hours and 13 minutes
Not available on CELA or RNIB
On the eve of his thirtieth birthday, Steve Rushin decided to revisit the twin pursuits of his youth: epic car trips and an unhealthy obsession with sports. So, he jumped into his fully alarmed Japanese S U V and drove to American sports shrines for a year, everywhere from Larry Bird's boyhood home in French Lick, Indiana, to the cornfield just outside of Dyersville, Iowa, where Field of Dreams was filmed. Road Swing is the story of his journey. This one has some strong language.
My comments; Rushin is a writer for Sports Illustrated and now another one of my favorite writers. This is a must read for any sports fan.
The Silver Linings Playbook
written by Matthew Quick
reading time: 7 hours and 20 minutes
CELA has this one, but Iím not used to the new website and itís confusing
Also, on RNIB on demand and for sale
During his years in a neural-health facility, Pat Peoples has formulated a theory about silver linings. He believes that his life is a movie produced by God, that his mission is to become physically fit and emotionally supportive, and that if he succeeds, his happy ending will be the return of his estranged wife, Nikki.
When Pat goes to live with his parents, everything seems changed: no one will talk to him about Nikki, and his new therapist seems to be recommending adultery as a form of therapy. Then, Pat meets clinically depressed widow Tiffany, who offers to act as a liaison between him and his wife - provided he agrees to a secret contract that includes giving up football and performing in the next Dance Away Depression competition.
My comments: This sounds like a heavy read and a few parts are, but overall, itís a funny read. I listened to the movie with audio description and as usual, very different from the book and as usual, the book is better.
Once Upon A River
written by Diane Setterfield
reading time: 16 hours and 29 minutes
available on CELA, but not on RNIB
A body always tells a story - but this childís was a blank page. Rita reached for the lantern on its hook. She trained it light on the childís face.
"Who are you?" she murmured, but the face said as little as the rest of her. It was impossible to tell whether, in life, these blunt and unfinished features had borne the imprint of prettiness, timid watchfulness, or sly mischief. If there had once been curiosity or placidity or impatience here, life had not had time to etch it into permanence.
Only a very short time ago, two hours or not much more, the body and soul of this little girl had still been securely attached. At this thought, and despite all her training, all her experience, Rita found herself suddenly in the grip of a storm of feeling. All the old rage at God - for not being kind, for not being fair, and finally for just not being, swept her up all over again and she felt tears of anger on her face. She took the childís hand in hers, the perfect hand with the perfect 5 fingers, the perfect 5 fingernails and the words fell out of her, the words she did not know were there. It should not be so, it should not be so. And that is when it happened.
My comments; I know, this is a long one, but what a great, creepy story. Part historical fiction and part ghost story. This one is set in England in 1887, on the banks of the river Thames.
Until next time we meet fellow readers,
Happy reading, Carla jo.
The Braille Highway
By Nat Armeni Nat@TheBlindPerspective.com
As you all know I write about braille because I enjoy using it, both for reading and writing. Also, I am a huge advocate for blind and visually impaired people learning braille in order to gain more independence within their own lives. There is a way those of you who either are
Wanting or contemplating learning braille to do it! That is through the Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired, formerly known as the
Hadley School for the Blind.
Hadley is the largest provider of distance education for those who are blind or visually impaired. They are also the largest educators of braille throughout the world, serving over 10,000 students annually. Classes are free, and they are also offered to family members of blind or visually impaired students. Interested individuals can go to the website and complete the enrollment application online.
Once enrolled, there is a wide selection of courses to choose from. These include, but are not limited to the following categories; independent living, technology, business, literature, science, and recreation.
No, I did not forget braille, here are just a handful of the braille courses Hadley has to offer:
Braille Literacy 1: tactile readiness
Braille Literacy 2: learning the braille alphabet
Braille Literacy 3: uncontracted braille, UEB version
Braille Literacy 4: uncontracted braille, UEB version
The below portion of this article was written by Karen Santiago.
If there is any one of you saying to yourself, ďI am too old to learn braille now.Ē I have someone for you to meet! Clarice Cocco, who resides in Texas, is 92 years young and completed the entire braille literary series. She received the Hadleyís Braille Student of the Year award last fall.
While Clariceís vision wasnít so stable, she wondered what she would do if she couldnít read or write anymore. Terry, a representative from the blind services of Austin, told her that there was braille for that. At that time, at the age of 84, Clarice said, ďOh, Iím too old for that!Ē Then a year later, Clarice thought learning braille would be a good idea. She talks about it as if Terry planted the seed, and it took a year for it to mature.
Clarice enrolled in the Hadley School, and began the braille literary series at the age of 85. It took her six years, but she did it, completing all four parts of the braille literary series. Not only that, but she did the majority of her braille lessons with a slate and stylus! Clarice uses braille to label many things, such as her hangers to identify clothing, her crochet hooks, and her various cards in her wallet.
When asked why she decided to learn braille later in life, these were her remarks.
It took me a long time to decide to do it, but I have never regretted it for one moment. I find these little things that I am able to do have made me more independent, and it was worth the time it took me to learn braille.Ē
She added that it was great to be able to work at her own pace and that the staff was extremely helpful and encouraging. She concluded our talk with these words, ďReally, we are never too old to learn.Ē
I want to publically thank Karen and Clarice for the above article. I must congratulate Clarice for successfully completing the braille literacy course and for doing it later on in life! Well folks, here was another living example of a person putting their mind to completing something and successfully caring it out!
As always, why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Braille users do it with feelings! Finally, remember to stay on the dotted line of life!
Talk with you again in May, and stay safe!
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
By Lindy van der Merwe Lindy@TheBlindPerspective.com
With the heat of summer finally subsiding as we move into autumn here in the southern hemisphere, it is once again a privilege to welcome readers to another edition of Kaleidoscope of Crafts.
Some might remember making the craft I am sharing this month from childhood, but there is, of course, no reason why you could not make it again or try it out for yourself right now for the first time.
We will be making a pillow from two washcloths. These pillows are easy enough to make with kids or as a special gift or keepsake from a sibling, parent or grandparent. They also work well as festive dťcor for special occasions or other holidays; and, as the first source I came across for this craft mentions: ". if you have a room for watching sports, having a washcloth pillow made of your teamís colors can be great for throwing or burying your face into when your team makes a big blunder!"
What is great is that one can find such a variety of washcloths in all shapes and sizes these days, which will put a modern spin on this retro craft project. Apart from plain colors, you will also find cloths with different motifs and theme or picture cloths are very popular as well.
You can also use soft dishtowels, bath towels or beach towels; however, you will need to cut them to the appropriate size and then fold and sew the cut edges to keep them from fraying.
I am including an alternative way of doing this craft, so make sure to read all the instructions before starting your project. You will be able to choose either method 1 or 2 from the steps below.
You will need:
Two washcloths of a similar size
If the two washcloths are not exactly the same size due to manufacturing quality control issues, thatís okay. This craft is very forgiving of small differences in washcloth size.
1 or 2 colors of coordinating yarn
Depending on the method you choose below, for attaching the fringe, size zero crochet hook or large darning needle
Small pointed scissors
Small piece of cardboard (around 2 3/4 inches x 3 inches)
Polyester fiberfill or similar for filling
A. Prepare the yarn
1. Cut a piece of cardboard 2 ĺ inches high by 3 inches (or more) wide.
2. Wrap your yarn around the 2 ĺ inches high cardboard.
3. When the width of the cardboard is full, cut the yarn at the top of the cardboard, which will give you your fringe pieces.
4. Do this as many times as you need in order to have enough yarn pieces.
B. Attaching fringe (Method 1 using a crochet hook)
1. Lay the two washcloths on top of each other with right sides facing out.
2. Hold the two pieces together at a corner and insert the pointed scissors through both pieces, just below the finished edges. This will make a small slit. You can work from either the front or the back of the pillow, just be consistent.
3. Remove the scissors and insert the size 0 crochet hook through the slit you just made with the scissors.
4. Hook two pieces of your cut yarn on the crochet hook and pull the yarn tightly on the hook so that the small hook grips the yarn. Then use the crochet hook to pull both pieces of yarn through the hole in the washcloths, stopping when the yarn is about halfway. If the hole doesnít seem big enough to pull the yarn through, then try making a slightly larger slit in the fabric with your scissors.
5. You will now have four fringe pieces on one side and two loops on the other side. Bring the four fringes through the two loops and pull tightly to secure.
6. Repeat this step on the other three corners so that all four corners are secured.
7. Then repeat this step halfway between each corner so that you have the two washcloths secured at eight points.
8. You can now select one corner and begin working around the washcloths.
C. Attaching fringe (Method 2 using a darning needle)
1. Lay the two washcloths on top of each other with right sides facing out. If your cloths are very soft with a loose weave and it is possible to pull your needle and yarn through fairly easily, you do not have to cut slits into your cloth.
2. Hold two yarn pieces together and thread them through the darning needle.
3. Make sure all 4 ends of the yarn meet.
4. Starting at a corner, insert your needle from below through both cloths and pull through until 2 strands of the yarn emerge. You might have to hold two of the strands in place beneath your cloth while pulling the yarn through.
You will now have two strands beneath and two strands above your two washcloths.
5. Holding the yarn in place, gently remove your needle and tie the strands together in an overhand knot. Pull tight enough to secure the yarn but not so much that you distort the edge of your cloth.
6. Repeat this step on the other three corners so that all four corners are secured.
7. Then repeat this step halfway between each corner so that you have the two washcloths secured at eight points.
8. You can now select one corner and begin working around the washcloths.
1 Continue securing the washcloths with the yarn using your chosen method until you have about a 3 to 4 inch opening on one of the sides. You will need to leave an opening large enough to insert your hand. Make sure that your fringe is uniform all around your cloths and that there are no spaces where stuffing will show or poke out.
2. Stuff the pillow with polyester fiberfill.
3. Continue to secure the washcloths with the yarn until the opening is closed.
For other washcloth crafts I have shared in previous articles, visit www.TheBlindPerspective.com Look for the Kaleidoscope of Krafts column and then, for the word "washcloths" under the different years you will see listed.
I hope you will give this craft a try, and get in touch with questions, comments and suggestions. As always, happy crafting until next time.
By Cheryl Spencer Cheryl@TheBlindPerspective.com
This month I am straying from the norm and taking a suggestion from one of the Blind Prospective readers and writing about one of the products he is interested in learning about. So, thank you Roger from Canada for the idea.
Roger wanted to know about a pressure active mat that emits a sound when someone steps on it. As I was doing the research for this item, I thought of many ways I could use it myself! How about in front of my door to let me know when someone is there. I could also put one by the back door to let me know when my dog, or in my case, my horse is ready to come inside. Some other uses I thought of include putting it at either the top or bottom of stairs if you have small children, in order to keep them safe. Again regarding children, it can be place in front of cabinets that they shouldnít get into, as an added safety measure. It can be placed next to beds of children or elderly people who have a habit of wandering about. Who knew this type of item could have so many practical and simple solutions perfect for the blind.
To help, let me tell you about a product I found that match these scenarios.
Ideal Security SK630 Solo pressure alarm with loud buzz and pleasant chime. Notifies you of visitors, intruders or people passing by. It has two modes, alarm and chime. The alarm trigger will emit a loud 105 db 30 second sound. This would be good to set this at night before going to bed. This sounds like it would be loud enough to discourage anyone who may be up to no good.
In Chime mode, it triggers a ding dong sound which goes off twice each time the mat is activated, and emits 95db sound. A cool feature is that it can be just a mat when you do not wish to be bothered with the alarm or chime. Choices, I love choices!
Although this mat is not waterproof, it can be placed under a waterproof mat and can withstand cold temperatures to 14 degrees F (-10 c).
The alarm unit is connected to the mat with 30 feet of very thin wire so you can place the alarm unit in the best location to suit your needs. There is even hardware included so it can be mounted to the wall. In my case, I would want to maintain flexibility then again, it is nice to have a choice.
The mat is designed to be sensitive to even small animals. It will be triggered when anything exerting more than 1 pound per square inch steps on it. So, if you are sneaking around, avoid this mat.
This mat is battery operated and based on a trigger of 20times per day the battery can last up to 5 months of use.
There is no volume control, so it is either on or off.
Dimensions are 21.75X13.75.
Battery size is 9 volt which is not included.
Okay, now to the best part, the price. It is just a mere 22 dollars and 27 cents, and is prime eligible. Just so you know, yes, it is in my cart. I am sold!
Thanks, Roger, for suggesting such a useful and practical product.
If anyone would like to suggest an item for the Spencer's Spotlight, send me an email and I will certainly give it my consideration.
By Jim Morgan Jim@TheBlindPerspective.com
Our Benevolent Dictator, otherwise known as Madam Editor, suggested a topic based on a Podcast she heard. Given that itís Tax Time here in the United States, and a lot of people are doing their taxes online, it seemed relevant. Weíre going to talk about passwords and the guarding of same.
It is a principle of psychology that everybody has between 3 and 7 passwords that they use regularly; itís just human nature. Security experts recommend a password of at least 8 characters that include Capitals, numbers, and some special characters, such as the @ symbol. They also recommend strongly against all numbers or actual words. A couple of examples of this are using your last name or your phone number, without the hyphen, as a password. The reason they recommend this is due to a method of code breaking known as Brute Force. Basically, this method uses an electronic Dictionary, an electronic phone directory, and/or number generator to, very quickly, come up with all possible number combinations of a given number of digits as well as checking every word in the Dictionary and names from a National Phone Book. The entire search is done in less than a second and, assuming your password meets the criteria, it will find it.
Unfortunately, even if you use a good password, youíre still not safe. Hackers, a class of person I absolutely loathe, can break into databases and steal the information. In fact, recently, Yahoo was hacked and the thieves, yes, it is theft, made off with around 3 billion records. This statistic comes courtesy of talk show host Leo Laporte, AKA Leo The Tech Guy. Of these records, there were an estimated 770 Million Plus actual E-mail Addresses and approximately 21 Million passwords stolen. Iím sure most of us have heard of Data Breaches due to hacking; itís a big problem.
So, Iím sure youíre wondering what you can do to protect yourself as well as not lose the password and not be able to get into whatever it is youíre trying to get into. As I said at the onset, you need to ďmix upĒ your passwords and use things that only you would think of or know. For example, you might use your initials, with the first one capitalized, and the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Or, you can use a combination of letters and numbers that make a word. For example, you could use Im25463 which stands for Iím Blind. This is using the letters on the telephone dial just like some companies, such as 1-800-Flowers, use for their phone number. There are a number of ways to do it but you want to make sure it isnít something someone who knows you could easily guess. The reason for mixing things up like this is that those Brute Force password cracking programs out there wouldnít necessarily recognize a properly formatted password as a password, it would ďthinkĒ that itís gibberish and move on.
Additionally, there is a Web Site, that Leo assures us is real, is not a scam, and wonít store information, that will allow you to check both your E-mail Address and any passwords you use to see if theyíve been compromised. The term that is used for having your information compromised is ďPwnedĒ, pronounced ďpownedĒ, as in ďownedĒ with a P. The site is: www.HaveIBeenPwned.com, and clicking on Passwords. You then type in the password youíre checking, tab once to get to the Pwned button, which you can click on or press enter, and it will not only tell you if the information has been compromised, it will also give a listing of sites where it was found. This database, by the Siteís own admission, isnít all-inclusive but it will give you a good idea if you need to do some password changing or some peace of mind if it doesnít find anything. The Website comes to us courtesy of Troy Hunt, a Computer Security Researcher. Iíve gone on the Site myself and it seems pretty straightforward and echoes the promise that no data is being stored.
As far as storing passwords is concerned, there are a number of things to do. One simple way is to keep a list in Braille, for those of us that use Braille, in a safe place. This is relatively secure since one would need to understand Braille to read it and, Unfortunately, only about 10% of our community reads Braille, to say nothing of the rest of the World. There are also apps that will store the information on your phone in a secure lockboxĒ. One of these apps is actually called ďlockboxĒ and can be used to store all kinds of sensitive information securely. Of course, you may need to have a password to get into the App. Last but not least, you can store the information in a secure file on your computer. You would want to make the file name somewhat ambiguous and encrypt it so that it can only be read by you. I, myself, have an Access database which I wrote that is password secured with a password that I know so that I donít lose any passwords or other sensitive information.
In the future, weíll essentially take our passwords with us in our bodies. More and more, Biometric Security devices are being used. These are readers that scan the unique things about our bodies, such as our fingerprint, voiceprint, etc. A number of Smartphones use this now and can even use our nose, which has a unique pattern. I understand that fingerprint readers and retinal scanners are being used quite a bit now and it will only become more prevalent. At my local hospitalís ER, they use a palm print scanner for identifying patients. The only thing Iím not entirely sure about are retinal scans. A number of us have retinal issues that might, I think, cause a change in the retina pattern that would interfere with a scan; as I said, Iím not entirely sure how that works. However, itís quite secure and ďfalsificationĒ of the patterns is, at best, difficult if not impossible. It takes a lot more than just entering a code that you got from somewhere, the pattern has to match on both ends or it will be rejected.
The best thing you can do right now to protect yourself is to use good password formatting, so as not to make it easy for someone, and be smart about giving out said password. There are Scams out there, called Fishing Scams, that are specifically designed to get personal information. Remember, authorities estimate that someoneís identity is stolen approximately every 18 seconds. In other words, unless youíre relatively sure about the site, or as sure as you can be, do not ever give out your password or other sensitive information. I canít stress this enough. It is recommended that if your identity is ever stolen, you need to get a Police Report as soon as possible and keep a copy on your person at all times for the rest of your life. It is not unheard of for victims of identity theft to be mistakenly arrested. That Police Report may be your only way of proving that the person the Police, or other agency, is looking for isnít you.
Iím not trying to scare anyone here, Iím just trying to impress upon you all just how serious a business this is. I have friends and family members who have been hacked, had their identity stolen, and had bank accounts or credit cards compromised and it is a devastating thing. I am trying to help you avoid that nasty business.
Should you have any questions about any of this or need the Web Site to check passwords, please donít hesitate to send me a message at my email address located at the top of this article. As always, Iíll try to answer your question, one way or the other, as soon as possible. In the meantime, Happy Computing!
A Time to Plant
By Sue Brasel Sue@TheBlindPerspective.com
Herbs can flavor food, help with healing, and appeal to those with eye sight. If you choose to use an herb as a medicinal plant, read up on it. Check with your healthcare professional before eating or applying it to your body.
If you find someone in your local area who can provide an herbal tour, you might discover new herbs to add to your garden, or find out about edible herbs in the wild.
When seasoning food with herbs, find out which parts (roots, stems, leaves, flowers or seeds) are useful. Some plants are totally edible, while others only use a portion of the plant. Herbs and spices in grocery stores are generally recognized as safe.
What is the difference between herbs and spices? It could depend on the part of the plant used. Spices tend to be more processed than herbs. One example is that the spice coriander is the seed of the herb cilantro.
Frost zones determine which plants are annuals, those that need to be planted every year, or perennials, those that live year-round. Just because a plant doesnít have growth you can see or feel, doesnít mean that it isnít rejuvenating to grow again the following year. Perennials that grow too early in the spring, and appear dead because of a cold snap, might sprout up again at the correct time for normal growth. Many tender perennials originally came from warm climates and donít tolerate cool temperatures. Some tender perennials can be brought inside during cooler weather, and returned outside when danger of frost is past.
Many herbs with a Mediterranean background like sunshine. A great edible combination for a container herb garden might include basil, oregano and thyme. The basil is your tall, showy plant, the oregano is a medium height herb, and the thyme is a low draping herb. Purple flowered chives also look nice in this arrangement. Leave at least 2 to 3 inches when you snip back your herbs to keep them growing all season.
Some herbs tolerate shade, especially some growing in the southern United States, where direct sun all day is not good. Mint is one of these. Container gardening of mint is suggested, because of its quick spreading growth. If you have several varieties of mint, they should be kept 20 feet apart to maintain each particular variety. If you snip off mint before its flowers, you can avoid this situation. Mint leaves can flavor a glass of water or can be put in fruit salads. A refreshing smoothie combines watermelon and mint leaves. I have made a delightful yeast bread using chopped mint.
In some climates, herb plants, like cilantro, will bolt. It means that the typical growing season is over because the plant puts its production into making seeds and not growing leaves. Generally, this happens when a cool season plant gets too much hot weather.
Herb gardening is a fragrant way to enjoy beautiful plants. Edible herbs have taste appeal. Our eco-system might benefit when native wildlife species are attracted to our favorite herbs. Sharing herbs that you have propagated is a great way to spread your love of gardening!
Now, it is ďthymeĒ for me to check out my herb gardens. Yes! That is plural. I keep finding new herbs that I want to grow!
the Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
By Lois Strachan Lois@TheBlindPerspective.com
Since my last article I had the privilege of being interviewed for the Have Disability, Will Travel podcast. Some of the interview questions got me thinking, which Iíve often been told is dangerous for me! Regardless of the danger, I wanted to share some of my insights and invite you to let me know your own thoughts on the topics.
I was somewhat startled when the podcast host asked me why I travel. In fact, I honestly wondered if he meant to ask, how I travel, which is what people usually want to know when they ask the Why question. But then I took a moment and thought about it, itís obvious to me why I travel, but maybe itís not so obvious to others. So, I answered the question as it was asked.
If you ask a sighted person why they travel, theyíll probably tell you itís to discover new places and experience different cultures and all they encompass; the food, the language, the customs, etc. And I travel for exactly the same reasons. Itís only the techniques I use to do so that differ. I know there are many other reasons to travel and maybe yours are different from mine. So please drop me a mail and let me know why you travel, Iíd love to find out!
The other interview question that got my brain working overtime was why most of the accessible travel websites and companies seem to focus more on mobility impaired travelers than on the visually impaired community.
Yes, there are tour operators that offer travel experiences to visually impaired travelers, but my work in accessible travel seems to indicate there is more focus on accessible travel in terms of mobility, which seemed to reinforce the statement. Certainly, when Iíve interviewed accessible tour operators here in South Africa for my own podcast my experience has been that when Iíve posed the question about services and experiences for us as a community Iíve been met with an embarrassed silence.
I may well be wrong, but I found myself wondering if perhaps the industry doesnít feel we need assistance when it comes to travel. Either because they believe few of us travel for leisure, so the need isnít there. Or because they believe physical access to a location isnít a challenge for us. In saying that Iím not trying to pretend we donít experience challenges when we travel. Rather Iím saying that the challenges we face are seldom around whether or not we can physically access a site.
Like I said, there may well be lots of other reasons why their focus is on those who are mobility impaired. And perhaps Iím mistaken in my belief that there are fewer companies focusing on our needs as a travel community. So, please let me know your experiences and thoughts on this, Iíd love to be proven wrong!
As always, you can get hold of me through the e-mail address at the top of the article. Iím keen to hear why you travel and whether you feel our needs are taken into consideration by the accessible travel service providers.
And now Iím off to continue planning a trip to India that might happen in the coming week
Here is the link to Lois' interview: ww.accessibletravelforum.com/
By Manny Morales Manny@TheBlindPerspective.com
Many of us gather into the kitchen not only to cook, but to socialize. So, this month, and next month too, I am moving into the kitchen for your cleaning needs. Again, I am sharing homemade cleaners that are free of chemicals and toxins, but will get rid of bacteria and germs too!
Before I begin, I received an email from Lindy from Australia who wanted to know what is the best way to measure drops of essential oils. Great question, and I should have addressed this last time. As I told Lindy, the essential oils I use now come from my local arts & crafts store. The bottles are glass, and quite small. The drops are little, so my sister says. She counted them into a teaspoon and roughly counted to 100. I think the better way of measuring is to use a small eye dropper (ask your local pharmacist for one). Fill that up about three times and add it to your homemade cleaner. Or, you can use just enough to smell it in the cleaner. Essential oils can be pricy, so you don't want to spill any.
We are going to use our basic ingredients for most of these homemade cleaners, with a few new ones added in.
White vinegar: mild acid that deodorizes and disinfects, and is effective against bacteria and mold
Baking Soda: acts as a deodorizer and scours clean
Essential Oils: act as disinfectants, lemon has antiviral and antiseptic qualities, and tea tree has antibacterial, antiviral, and even antifungal properties
Dr. Bronnerís: liquid Castile soap, all natural, made from plant oils
Olive Oil: acts as a cleaner and polisher
Dr. Bronnerís Sal Suds: biodegradable concentrated cleaner made from plants and oils
All Purpose Cleaner
For countertops and sink.
Note: Do not use vinegar if your countertops and sink are made of granite, marble or stone. The vinegar is too acidic, instead use rubbing alcohol.
Pour Ĺ cup white vinegar into a full-sized spray bottle. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Fill the bottle with warm water and shake well. Add some drops of essential oil (one dropperful), such as tea tree, eucalyptus, or a citrus oil.
To use, spray counters, let stand a minute or two, then wipe with a clean cloth.
Soft Scrub Cleaner
For use on countertops, sinks, and ceramic surfaces, not on granite.
Measure 1 Ĺ cups of baking soda into a mixing bowl. Add Ĺ cup of Dr. Bronnerís Castile Soap. Stir vigorously to combine into a paste. Add enough water to make it into a smooth liquid paste, maybe ľ cup. Add some drops of essential oils, (half eye dropperful) like tea tree, rosemary, or lavender.
Store soft scrub in a clean shampoo, dish soap, or ketchup squirt bottle. If the mixture begins to dry out, simply add a small amount of water and shake well.
To use, squirt a small amount on a damp sponge and massage into surface. Add more as needed. Rinse well with warm water.
Liquid Dish Soap
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup distilled water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon kosher salt, until salt dissolves. In a bowl, mix 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup Dr. Bronnerís Sal Suds and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Add this mixture to the salt water mixture, and stir until it thickens. You can add 10 to 15 drops of your favorite essential oil for scent and disinfectant properties.
Pour mixture into a recycled dish soap container for storage.
Note: The soap may thicken more over time, if so, add a bit more water.
Liquid Hand Soap
Here is an added recipe for a nurturing and moisturizing soap that wonít dry out your hands. Using a recycled foaming soap dispenser, fill it with bottled or distilled water to within about 1 inch of the top. Add at least 2 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronnerís Castile Soap. Add Ĺ tsp olive oil and a drop or two of essential oil for scent.
Close bottle and gently shake to mix.
I will continue sharing additional cleaners for the kitchen next month. We will be making our own disinfectant wipes. If you want to be ahead of the game, you will need an empty container; the baby wipe container works great. You will also need 20 to 25 rectangle pieces of clean scrap fabric; such as old t shirts or dish cloths.
Until next time, remember itís dirty work, but clean fun!
Editor's Note: Wow, these are great. I have already made the dish soap and the soft scrub. I tried the softscrub on my glass top stove, and it's cleaner than its ever been!
I also wanted to share this link to these super absorbint microfiber cloths from Amazon. They are the best for cleaning. Thanks to reader, Judy for sharing this link.
The Beauty Parlor
By Christy Ray Christy@TheBlindPerspective.com
Now that itís starting to warm up in the northern hemisphere, and probably still warm in the southern hemisphere, make sure that you have your sunscreen on. Be sure to check the expiration dates. Thatís right, your sunscreen does expire! You can always find a good moisturizer that has a built-in sunscreen. When you know youíre going to be outside longer, apply some additional sunscreen.
If that particular sunscreen you used didnít help and you wind up with a pesky sunburn, there is always cooling aloe gels to help with that. Once your burn is gone, then I would suggest that you return to using your moisturizer as normal.
For more tips and questions you can contact me at my email address above.
By Maxine Maxine@TheBlindPerspective.com
This month not only am I sharing a family favorite comfort food, but itís microwavable. So when you want a delicious dinner and donít want to turn on the oven, try out this recipe!
Meatloaf Stuffed with Cheese
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup milk
3 slices fresh bread, cubed
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
3 slices fresh bread, finely crumbled
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Meatloaf; In large mixing bowl, mix together beef, bread, milk, parsley, salt and pepper.
Cheese stuffing; In 1-1/2-quart casserole place onion, pepper, celery and lemon juice, stir and microwave on high 3 minutes, until lightly sautťed.
Add egg to vegetables and stir to blend well.
Stir in cheese and fine bread crumbs.
Assemble the meatloaf; pat half of meat mixture in bottom of 9-inch glass pie plate.
Mound cheese filling over meat leaving about 1 inch uncovered at edges.
Spread remaining meat mixture over filling.
Seal around edges.
Brush assembled meatloaf with Worcestershire sauce.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap, microwave on high for 25 to 30 minutes.
Let stand about 10 minutes to firm before serving.
Serve in wedges with such vegetables as corn, green beans, or mashed potatoes.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
What five letter word typed in all capital letters can be read the same upside down?
Answer to Marchís riddle:
Forward I am heavy, but backward I am not. What am I?
The word ton.
Think of a word for an article of clothing worn below the waist. Then think of a word of an article of clothing worn above the waist. Put them together, without rearranging letters and you will get a word used in baseball. What is it?
Answer to Marchís brain buster:
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