Archive for January, 2010

The Final Anne Frank Helper Dies at 100

Miep Gies was one of only a few non-jews who took care of and brought supplies to Anne Frank’s family as they hid from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War two. When the family was found by the Nazis in August of 1944, Gies convinced the Austrian SS officer not to take her as well, and was able salvage Anne’s diaries so that her story could live on.

While Anne did not survive the concentration camps, her father, Otto, was able to come out of the war alive and eventually met with Gies and received his daughter’s diaries.

“There is nothing special about me,” Gies wrote in a book first published in 1987. “I have never wanted special attention. I was only willing to do what was asked of me and what seemed necessary at the time.”

After the war was over, Gies gave many speeches opposing Holocaust denial and so that she could keep Anne’s story alive and in the thoughts of many.

It is because of Gies that the diaries lived on and were able to attain their popularity. Anne’s story is now published in 70 languages and is one of the best-selling books in the world because of its vivid, firsthand description of a life lived in fear during the war.

To access the original article, please go to

Letter From the Editor

Dear Readers,

As some of you have brought to my attention, there were various formatting problems with the email version that made last week’s issue difficult to read at times. I took those into account and fixed them. There will now be a table of contents at the beginning of each weekly email. In addition to that, I have inserted the ## symbol before each article and new section so that you can use your browser or word processor’s search or find function to navigate through the material much easier. I hope that these changes will allow you to enjoy the magazine much more.

As far as content is concerned, I want to let you know what my philosophy will be regarding what type of magazine I intend to offer you. My goal is to give you a mix of general interest articles and blindness related topics to create a well rounded publication that everyone will enjoy. It is also advantageous that I am able to offer this magazine in a weekly format as well, since that will enable me to keep the topics discussed as up to date as possible. I will do my best to steer away from anything that could be seen as stale news.

I will also not write for the sake of writing. It has always been my opinion that anyone who talks for the sake of it generally has something of very little importance to say. It is for that reason that some weeks may contain more material than others. If I don’t intend to give you stale news, I certainly don’t want to start giving you useless news simply to fill space.

I sincerely hope that you continue to enjoy the magazine as it settles into its new form and I welcome any and all suggestions from you so that I can make this publication something to look forward to.

Thanks for reading.


Ross Hammond, Editor

Recipe of the Week

Chicken with Pesto Sauce


1 cup purchased pesto sauce

3-4 boneless chicken breasts

3 red potatoes rinsed and quartered

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place boneless chicken breasts in center of small roasting pan. Spread ¾ cup of pesto sauce and finely minced garlic cloves over the top of the chicken.

Place quartered potatoes to the sides of the pan and toss with remaining pesto mixture. Sprinkle chicken and potatoes with salt and pepper. Roast in 375°F oven for 45 minutes.

Tastes great with roasted red peppers as a side dish. Enjoy!

Arts and Crafts – Knitting Tips

Knitting & Crochet


Audio/Video at is a joint effort of Amy and Sheldon Finlay. Amy’s the knitter and Sheldon is the resident geek handling all the web stuff. Their videos are the most popular online instruction web site for knitters, and there is no better way to learn knitting that to practice learning the basics. You can see and hear by clicking on the various videos available such as: Getting Started, Casting on Stitches, The Knit Stitch, et cetera. Enjoy and have fun learning a new skill or perfecting the skills you already have!

Knitting and Craft Patterns in Braille

Lion Brand Patterns. Download Braille ready patterns!


Ilana Rabinowitz writes: I handle the marketing for Lion Brand Yarns. In response to an email from a blind knitter who wanted to use our patterns, we programmed a template so that all of our over 1,000 free patterns could be ready by a Brailler machine, that creates Braille from text or by a text to speech reader.  The response was overwhelming, with the most (in terms of enthusiasm and quantity) positive comments we have every received. Our site has been up since 1995. Most people who responded were not blind. They just appreciated what we did so much that they swore to buy our product exclusively from now on. Our next programming adjustment will be to make all of our patterns available in large type. Now that is a LOT of people, but the motivation to do this evolved from our first modification when we realized that appealing to people with special needs (these very targeted niches) was good all around.


Tending to My Knitting by Barbara Pierce

Knitting, the Social Equalizer

Other knitting web sites and blogs

Create a User ID and Password and you will be logged on to one of the largest sources of patterns and help anywhere on the web!

Besides news, forums, patterns there is a TV series available!

Tales from a Visually Impaired Knitter!

Blind, Autistic Musical Genius

A man born blind and diagnosed with autism at age 5 is proving to the world that his disabilities will never limit him from achieving greatness. 

Tony DeBlois has an amazing story.  At only two years old, Tony played “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on a small organ that his mother had bought at a yard sale.  It shocked his mother, who knew that her son’s mental abilities were affected in some way.  It was later determined that Tony possessed a rare mind and is considered to be a musical savant.  

Tony attended the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts where he took lessons and learned to play many of the instruments in his incredible repertoire.  Tony’s mother noticed that he was having difficulty with motor skills when doing simple tasks.  So she taught him how to brush his teeth by asking him to pretend that he was playing the violin.  He learned to brush his hair by playing the drums.  Eventually, he was awarded a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music and later graduated summa cum laude.  While he is very humble about his education and his talents, he is referred to as a prodigious savant, essentially an autistic genius.  Considering the circumstances, it would be difficult to disagree. 

DeBlois, now 36 years old, can play a total of 22 instruments, leads a jazz band, and has recorded 6 CDs of his work. 

To access the original article, please go to

Blind Students Survey Grand Canyon Soundscape

During the summer of 2008, 12 sighted and 12 visually impaired students with the Grand Canyon Youth program participated in an acoustic research study done in Grand Canyon National Park to determine the makeup and possible deterioration of the surrounding soundscape.  Essentially, a soundscape is the combination of natural and man-made sounds that can be heard in different places throughout the park.  Teamed up in pairs of sighted and visually impaired students, the groups used a series of hand signals to communicate back and forth.  The visually impaired students would use their heightened sense of hearing to gather acoustic data and then relay that data to their sighted partner using those hand signals.  The study is the first of its kind it that area due to the otherwise costly and time consuming effort it would require. 

The blind students reported hearing natural sounds like the river, thunder storms in the distance, rocks falling, even insect chirps.  They also heard airplane propellers, jets, and helicopters. 

While this survey may seem unnecessary to some, it’s important to have this data to measure the amount of noise pollution that is affecting natural soundscapes.  By using visually impaired students, they can become a seriously important part of the research being done in the national park and have the opportunity to learn about soundscape preservation and how much it affects the entire experience someone would have when going through the park.  The project went so well, that they planned another in the summer of 2009 and will most likely continue to work with the Grand Canyon Youth again in 2010. 

To access the original article, please go to

An Unexpected Surprise

A man fishing from the deck of a tanker ship off of the coast of Australia had an unexpected encounter with one of nature’s most deadly creatures: the irukandji jellyfish.  The small jellyfish, only about 2 centimeters wide, was apparently splashed up nearly twenty five meters onto the deck of the ship and landed on the man who would’ve otherwise had a pleasant time fishing. 

The irukandji is notorious for its sting.  The initial pain from the sting is normally small.  However, anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour later, the toxin takes full effect and the affected person can expect to experience severe shooting pains in their muscles, stomach and chest, nausea, headache and backache.  In severe cases, death is possible if the person goes untreated. 

After the man was stung and had begun to experience intense pain, a rescue helicopter was called to airlift him to a hospital.  When the air crewmen heard how the man came into contact with the jellyfish, despite his height off of the water, they were astonished. 

“Realistically, what are the chances of being stung by a jellyfish when you are safely on board a bulk carrier, 25 metres above the water,” said one of them. 

To access the original article, please go to

Quadriplegic Tackles Atlantic

Geoff Holt is no ordinary sailor.  The 42 year old man just completed a trip that few people can lay claim to.  Geoff sailed solo across the Atlantic Ocean from Lanzarote to the British Virgin Islands, arriving on December 10, 2009.  Oh, and Geoff is a quadriplegic.  

Geoff was paralyzed 25 years ago when diving into shallow water and has been relegated to a wheelchair ever since.  In 2007, he became the first quadriplegic to sail around Britain. However, having sailed across the Atlantic prior to his accident, he decided to return, sailing his now-incorrectly named boat “Impossible Dream”.  By using a series of hydraulic winches, Geoff was able to control the boat as any able bodied person would.  Despite the fact that he experienced engine troubles and terribly light winds during portions of his trip, he made it to the Virgin Islands unscathed and with an irremovable smile on his face. 

Mr. Holt now holds the record for being the only quadriplegic to complete this particular journey and his sheer determination and unwavering drive to complete his goal will serve as an inspiration to anyone with or without sea legs. 

 To access the original article, please go to

Blind Man Breaks Speed Record

Back in October of 2009, an amazing record was set by Hein Wagner, a blind motivational speaker.  Wagner, a daredevil at heart, has set the world record for the fastest speed ever driven in an automobile by a blind person.  

In 2005, Wagner set the record in a Maserati Grand Sport and was able to sustain a speed of 167 miles per hour during that time.  However, not entirely satisfied, Wagner wanted to go bigger and hit that 200 mile per hour milestone that every extreme driver dreams about. 

With the help of a brand new Mercedes Benz SL65 Black Series, which has a twin turbo V12 engine producing a staggering 661 horsepower, Wagner was able to reach his goal.  Representatives from Guinness World Records were on hand to confirm this momentous occasion.  In order to hold the record, Wagner needed to sustain his speed for no less than one thousand meters.  With his co-driver at his side, Wagner accomplished this multiple times with a sustained speed of 200.4 miles per hour on the tarmac of a South African airport.  At that speed, his car was traveling the equivalent of one football field per second. 

Traveling at those speeds is no easy task for a sighted person.  By not allowing his disability to hinder his goals, Wagner put his foot to the floor and raced into the record books. 

To read the original article, please go to

Dog Saves Boy From Cougar

On Saturday, January 2, an 11 year old boy named Austin was gathering firewood outside of his home in British Columbia. As the boy continued with his duties, he noticed that his golden retriever, Angel, was acting strangely. She had been darting back and forth between the house and the wood shed the entire time he was outside.

All of a sudden, Austin watched as Angel sprinted towards him. In one fluid movement, she leaped over a lawnmower and intercepted a cougar that had been eyeing him the entire time. Scared for his own safety and for that of his dog, who was now going toe to toe with a vicious cougar under their deck, Austin ran inside and told his mother to call the police.

Upon arriving, the RCMP officer noticed that the cougar had pinned Angel down with its mouth around her neck. Without hesitation, the officer drew his weapon and shot the cougar without harming the dog any further. Once the officer confirmed that the cougar was no longer a threat, Austin’s cousin ran underneath the deck to see if Angel was still alive. Bruised and bleeding, Angel pulled herself to her feet, walked over to a tearful and worried Austin and licked him all over, ensuring that he was fine. Satisfied that she had done her job as protector, she sat next to him and let out a deep breath.

“Austin said he now feels very differently about Angel. “She was my best friend, but now she’s more than a best friend — she’s like my guardian now.” Angel suffered some puncture wounds on her head, neck and one of her hind legs. Austin was not hurt.”

 To read the original story, please go to

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