Archive for May, 2010

Pedal for That Smoothie

In an effort to become as environmentally-friendly as possible, a Central Park smoothie maker is offering a unique incentive: 5 dollars for a smoothie, 1 dollar off if you pedal to make it.

You see, his operation is run entirely by a pedal-powered blender that makes the smoothies.  Any customer that’s willing to hop on the seat and pedal for their treat will get it for a dollar less than anyone who chooses to watch someone else do the work.

The truck he uses is also a very green vehicle.  It runs on cooking oil and has an array of solar panels on the roof to generate auxiliary electricity.  The owner also hopes that when they open this summer, they’ll be outfitted with a small wind turbine generator as well, to catch the breezes flowing through the park. 

Habana Outpost, as the truck is called, has had the pedal-powered blenders for a while, and roughly half of the customers it serves choose to pedal themselves.  All of the truck’s paper products and utensils will be made from recycled materials and sugarcane, and the seating that will be placed outside of the truck will be made with a combination of milk cartons and sawdust.

For anyone in the New York area that’s interested in visiting the truck this summer, you can go to Central Park in New York City, directly across from the Museum of Natural History. 

To read the original article, please go to

Op Ed Writer Bob Branco – Adaptive Baseball for the Blind

When I was at the Perkins School for the Blind, I participated in several sports, including bowling and baseball. Forty years ago, baseball was not adaptable for the blind the way it is today, so the children at Perkins played regular baseball. The pitcher would throw the ball to home plate on a bounce, and as soon as the batter heard the bounce, he swung. When the player ran the bases, he would be called to the next base if he couldn’t see where he was going. I felt at the time that the game was well-suited for someone blind or visually impaired, because of all the assistance we received by our fellow playmates and staff members.
Under those circumstances, I would feel the same way today about regular baseball. Having said that, a new form of baseball was invented exclusively for the blind. The new game, known as Beep Ball, is similar to regular baseball in some ways, but it also had different rules designed to make the game more convenient for blind participants. First of all, the ball is slightly bigger than a regular baseball, and, when not in use, has a wooden pin inserted inside. When the ball is ready for use, the pin is removed, allowing the ball to release a loud continuous beeping sound. With this sound, everyone in the game has a better idea of where it is. As the ball continues to beep, fielders can locate it easier, and the batter knows when it’s being thrown by the pitcher, giving him an opportunity to hit it. In Beep Ball, players do not run the bases the way they do in regular baseball. There are two bases, one where third base normally is, and one where first base normally is. Each base makes a sound, and someone will activate it when the ball is hit. If the ball is hit toward third, the base is activated, and the base runner would head there. If the ball is hit toward first, then the runner would head for that sound. The object of the game is to reach your base, whichever one it is, before a fielder finds the ball. If you successfully reach base, a run scores, and you then go back to your bench. The game has fewer rules than regular baseball. In other words, there are six fielders, and all they have to do is position themselves around the field to find the ball before a batter reaches his destination.
If the fielder locates the ball first, it’s an out. There are still three outs in an inning of Beep Ball.
In 2001, I had the pleasure of managing a Beep Ball team in New Bedford, and we played a few games against other teams throughout the state. I found it to be quite a learning experience, although not difficult. In case you didn’t know, Beep Ball has its own World Series, so it is organized.
We should be grateful that many sports are adaptable for persons with disabilities, allowing us a chance to use our skills.

Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – The Silver Lining Tour Experience

On Saturday, April 24, I departed from Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT on a plane headed to Chicago.  The plane ride started out smooth and relaxing but about three quarters through, it got very turbulent.  I held onto the arm rests for dear life.  The turbulence lasted about 15 minutes, but it seemed like a lifetime of bumps and sudden drops, not my idea of a good time.  The landing at Chicago was smooth and pleasant.  Whenever I fly, I always let the flight attendants know that I am legally blind and that I need assistance in locating my luggage and next departing gate.  In the Chicago airport, this is highly important because this airport is so huge.  Since I had to walk all the way to another part of the place, they brought me to a large motorized cart and drove me through the airport, down an elevator, and to my next gate.  Even riding in the cart took 20 minutes to get from my arrival gate to my departure gate.

My next flight was from Chicago to Oklahoma City.  This was a smaller plane, one where you walked up a small set of stairs to get inside.  The flight attendant was quite nice and made sure I was comfortable and ready for the flight.  Finally, we were off to Oklahoma City, this flight was much more smooth and relaxing.

When we arrived at the airport, the flight attendant made sure there was someone waiting for me when I exited the plane and the person was helpful in assisting me to claim my luggage and find the free shuttle to the hotel.  The hotel was located about ten minutes from the airport.  When I arrived, I informed the front desk staff that I was legally blind and staying at the hotel with the Silver Lining storm chase group.  The staff got me all checked in and escorted me to my room.  After getting settled into my room, I did some exploring around the hotel to make sure I was able to find my way back to the front desk and also able to find my way to the outdoor exits in case there was an emergency.  This is something I do in every hotel that I stay in for my safety.

On Sunday April 25, I met the other guests on the storm chase tour.  The tour director, Roger Hill, gave us an orientation and an explanation of storms.  This was great because even though I studied some meteorology in college, it gave me a good refresher course in how storms form and what kinds of storms can produce tornadoes. 

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the weather pattern was not conducive to any storm development so we spent a lot of time sightseeing.  We went to the Oklahoma City Memorial and saw the building that was bombed back in 1995.  We then went to the Storm Prediction Center and had a tour of the facility.  The Storm Prediction Center is responsible for issuing all of the severe weather watches for the United States.  Anytime a Severe Thunderstorm or Tornado watch is issued, it came from that office

On Thursday, April 29, I saw the first tornado of my life.  We had stopped along the side of the road in Washington County, Kansas.  I decided not to get out of the van on this stop.  Suddenly, directly above our van, Roger pointed out that a tornado was forming.  I got very excited and scared all at the same time.  I wondered, “Should I get out and find a ditch to lie in, am I really safe in this van, am I really going to die right now?”  Well, the tornado did form and dropped to the ground about a mile away in a field.  It picked up some trees, sand and brush and then dissipated a short time later.

On Friday, April 30, we chased some storms in Missouri.  We pulled over and parked the vans in a sandy area off the side of a road and watched a very large, black storm moving along.  It was moving between 50 and 70 miles per hour.  Roger pointed out to us a sound called hail roar.  This occurs when the large hail stones crash against one another in the clouds.  It sounds like thunder, but instead of dissipating like thunder, it continues as a steady sound.  A few moments later, Roger yelled to us that there was a huge tornado in the storm.  I looked and there it was, very large and black, blacker than the night sky.  It was blacker than anything I’ve ever seen.  Roger ordered everyone back to the vans and we drove away from it quickly.  We were told that there were actually two tornadoes next to each other.  The second tornado was rotating around the first, larger tornado.  It was definitely an exciting experience and all of our hearts were racing with excitement.  As we drove away from the storm, more storms were forming and moving northeast between 50 and 70 miles per hour.  We stopped to grab some fast food for dinner and headed for Jonesborough, Arkansas.  The drive took about 2 hours.

On our way to Jonesborough, Roger announced that there was a huge storm heading directly for Jonesborough.  That was fine, but our hotel for the night was booked in Jonesborough.  That made me quite nervous.  I like to chase storms, I don’t like the storms to chase me.

Upon our arrival in Jonesborough, Roger asked everyone to find their rooms but to stay up and awake for an hour as he watched the progress of the large, dangerous storm.  I nervously went to my room and didn’t unpack anything.  I turned on the TV and discovered that the storm was producing a large tornado and still was heading for Jonesborough.  One of the other guests, Chris, knocked at my door and informed me that Roger had called him and said that in about 15 minutes, he would be calling and depending on the storm’s motion would be asking us to quickly come to the lobby.  I decided to go with Chris to his room and wait for the phone call.  Roger did call and asked everyone to come to the lobby.  We quickly ran down to the lobby and met the other guests.  I got so scared that I was not listening to the information given by Roger.  We stood outside as the storm got closer to town.  The tornado sirens began to sound, it began to rain and lightning began to flash.  I thought my heart was going to explode.  To me, this was no joke.  Since I was not listening to the instructions and information from Roger, I thought we were trapped in town at this hotel by the storm.  So, I wanted to go to a tornado shelter.  Chris brought me to the shelter provided by the hotel which was not underground.  Shortly, the storm dissipated and there was no longer any tornado threat to the county.  If I had been listening more carefully, I would have known that if Roger felt that we were in danger, we would have packed up everyone into the vans and left town and found a safe place to stay until the storm passed.  What an incredible night.

On Saturday, May 1, we saw the fourth and final tornado of the trip.  It formed after dark and moved north, parallel to the road as we traveled.  To be safe, we did not continue to travel north on the road, and we headed east away from the tornado.  I have never seen so many lightning strikes in my life.  We stopped at one point to watch the storm as it moved.  Roger would not allow anyone out of the vans due to the danger of the lightning strikes all around the vans.  After the storm passed, we turned around and headed back to find the damage path left by the tornado.  When we got to the damage path, we could smell the damage done by the tornado.  I could smell things like grass, sand, wood and leaves, which were all uprooted by the tornado.  Sometimes storm chasers will find a tornado’s damage path and check to make sure that anyone in its path is safe.  If people need help, the chasers will help them and make sure that the proper authorities are aware of the situation.

We attempted to chase storms on Monday, May 3, but the storms dissipated as quickly as they formed so they were not storms that were worth chasing.  On May 4 and May 5, there were no storms to chase anywhere.  We ate some great food and the group had a post storm chase briefing.  Roger explained what happened during the three days that we chased and the group exchanged photos and videos that they took.  I am still watching my videos more than a week after I’ve returned home.

All of the staff and guests on the tour were very helpful to me.  I met people from Toronto, Canada, from Australia, Scotland, Illinois and California.  One of my biggest challenges on such a trip can be meals.  Most restaurants are not well-lit.  Even if they have a large print menu, it is still difficult to read it.  All of the guests helped me with menu reading and they helped me when we went to buffets.  They also made sure I was safe when we stopped for breaks and made sure I was safe while entering and exiting the vans.

I enjoyed my vacation, I enjoyed meeting and getting to know the other guests and I learned a lot from the tour director, Roger.  His enthusiasm made the trip that much more exciting.  I would definitely go on another storm chasing vacation and am looking forward to my next adventure.

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – A Fantastic Birthday Hero

When a grandmother of 3 decided to treat herself for her 54th birthday, she celebrated by getting high; that is, high in the sky of course. Shirley Dygert of Teague, Texas, took a tandem jump from an airplane with instructor Dave Hartsock that turned out to be everything but a celebration. They made the jump from an altitude of 13,000 feet, and trouble began when both their primary and secondary parachutes failed to open properly. As they plunged 40 mph from 500 feet above the earth, Dygert said she thought, “This is how I’m going to die?” Of course she would not die or even sustain a serious injury, and that is due to the heroics of Mr. Hartsock. He changed their positioning just before they crashed to the ground, arranging their bodies so that he absorbed the impact when they landed. As a result of the accident, Mr. Hartsock sustained a great deal of injuries, causing paralysis, but remains in good spirits. In their first meeting since the accident, Mr. Hartsock had no regrets and talked about them doing it again someday. He said, “We’re accident-proof now, baby. I mean what are the odds of something like that happening twice like that?”

To read the original article, please go to

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Gulf Oil Spill is Making it Hard to Breathe

According to a recent study conducted by the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) Louisiana residents have legitimate cause for concern regarding the air they breathe. Results of an evaluation of the EPA’s air content lead to horrific findings of excess air pollution. For example, the study showed that the amount of hydrogen sulfide in Venice Beach, Louisiana is up to 1,192 parts per billion. To put that figure in prospective, people begin to experience the effects of hydrogen sulfide at 5 to 10 parts per billion.

Abnormal levels can cause issues such as sore eyes, mucous membrane irritation, neurological damage (including dementia, disorientation, and memory failure), adverse respiratory effects, tremors, headache, dizziness, and ocular damage. Just in case this is not enough, LEAN had more bad news to report. They also found abnormal levels for some volatile organic compounds, one of which has been connected to cancer.

To read the original article, please go to

Feature Writer Susan Roe – Hands On Living: All A Buzz About Bees

Bees, bees, honey bees, that’s all I have heard for the past three weeks from my husband Matt, ever since our local bee keeper told him he was ready to transfer a hive of honey bees for us.  When planning out our gardens here at Dogwood Farm, there was more to consider than mere location, soil, water, plant varieties, and what we wanted to do when harvesting each garden.

Pollination is something a lot of gardeners take for granted and assume nature takes care of that for them.  Yes, that’s true, but sometimes nature needs a bit of a boost in the pollination department.  That is where nature’s most diligent workers come into your garden and stir up the flowers.

Honey bees are quite amazing little workers and truly do not get the credit they deserve.  Did you know that out of all the eggs the queen lays, they produce one of three different kinds of bees and each kind has a specific job assigned to them?  That’s right, and all that work and they only live for forty-five to forty-seven days.

The hive is constantly alive with activity, slowing down at night, but never stopping.  They continually feed the newly formed larvae along with every single bee in the entire hive.  The bees also have to keep the hive at just the right humidity and temperature levels to protect their young and to produce loads of honey.  If all of that wasn’t enough, they also have to protect the hive from robber bees wanting to take their food source to larger hornets and skunks who want to feed on their larvae and their honey.

You will find three kinds of bees in a hive, a single queen, drones, and workers.  The queen lays the eggs of course, and the drones, the only male bees, service the queen before she starts laying again.  The worker bees are all females and they tend to the young, keep the hive in order, gather nectar and make the honey.  All of this activity centers on their queen, because without her, they would have no direction and would have no means to replenish their numbers and would soon die off.

New queens are formed when the hive feels a new queen is needed, as when the hive gets real crowded or something happens to their existing queen.  The workers will feed a substance called royal jelly to a single larvae and the female bee that hatches is a new queen.  Usually, the older queen decides to look for more spacious quarters and she gathers about two thirds of the hive’s bees and they swarm to a near by sheltered location.  The queen will send out scouts to look for a place to set up a new hive and start building the hive system all over again.  This is what keeps a bee keeper busy, collecting the queen and her swarm to put in a new hive to work for the bee keeper making honey and pollinating his and neighbor’s gardens.

 I was quite excited once Matt brought our hive home and gotten it settled on the far side of one of our vegetable gardens.  He had already taken the time to show me what the brooder box and frames looked like before they were to be filled with the bees.  I knew I would not have direct contact with the hives after the bees arrived, but I wanted to be involved with helping Matt wherever I could.  I was more than willing to let Matt wear the bee suit and get up close and personal with his bees.  I’d rather wait for him on the opposite side of the garden for him to bring me the honey filled frames.

The brooder box is filled with ten frames and that is where the queen lays her eggs and the new bees are raised.  Honey is also produced there in order to feed the queen and young bees.  A frame is a square wooden frame that holds a fine woven set of wires that support a very thin sheet of bee’s wax.  The bees use the frames to build up their honey comb ready for the queen’s eggs or honey storage.  You only want the queen to stay in the brooder and not venture up into the supers.

The super is a box filled with frames just like the brooder, however, it is for honey production only.  These frames are the ones removed for honey extraction and then replaced to be filled once again with honey by the bees.  The super sits directly on top of the brooder with an opening between the two.  Covering this opening is a queen guard, which makes the opening small enough for only the workers to pass through and not the queen.  You can have several super boxes sitting on top of your brooder.  There is also an additional empty super box that is placed between the brooder box and your supers filled with frames.  This empty space is used to house feeders for the bees.  A sugar water solution and water is provided when the bees either can’t find enough nectar in non-blooming periods or when weather is too rough to go flying.

I know this is going to be a learning experience for the both of us, but that’s what will make it all the more interesting.  Something we can do together, researching and development is only half the fun.  Collecting the honey and bees wax and enjoying the sweet goodness is quite the rest of it. I’ve already been flipping through our cookbooks with Matt picking out recipes to try and a new batch of honey wine is always welcome.

Feature Writer John Christie – First Blind Woman to Participate in Option Program

Gwynne Widhalm finally received a call about a job interview. Naturally, she was very happy, especially since she had been out of work for a long time. The job involved working with an autistic child, so it presented a bit of a challenge. Widhalm was informed about the program in May but couldn’t make a commitment because she was expecting a second child.

She went in for the interview and was given a thorough job description.  The child, Brian, is seven years old and is about the size of a child of nine or ten. When he wants to jump and run around the room, the worker must do these things with him. The idea of the option program is to repeat the things that he does. This will help him back in to the external world. If he says something, the worker must pick up on the cue. For example, he might say “Go a Team!” In this case, the worker would show him the picture of the “A-Team” glued to the wall in his special room.

“Brian has one room in which we work. He only leaves the room to go to the rest room. He also has food and drink,” she said.  He will usually take her hand and point to what he wants or he will say “drink of water” or “hungwe, nana’. “If he says things like Hy- Vee, K-Mart, Alco,” I either repeat these things or I may sing the HyVee, the K-Mart, or the Alco jingles.”

Brian also likes to hit and pinch. This was harder for her to get use to at first because employees of the Option program can’t retaliate. They must redirect his attention. She said that they have to draw his attention to a toy or object.

Widhalm says that she has had to change her way of thinking with this program, but enjoys the challenge because it is a positive approach to treating autism. She is also happy to be a part of the “option process.”

The Option Program was started by the Option Institute in Sheffield, MA. The goal of the program is to go in to the Autistic child’s world first and gain an understanding of their world and then guide them in to our world.

Widhalm is the first blind person to be employed in the Option Program

Letter from the Editor

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a great weekend.  I have one announcement to make before we dive into the magazine.  Thanks to the Association for the Blind of Western Australia, we now have the first available audio version.  It will be available for download on our website and by e-mail subscription.  Working in conjunction with the magazine’s technology consultant I’m hoping to have everything up and running next week on the website, as well as the subscriber versions.  Once everything is in order, I’ll make another announcement detailing the ways in which everyone can access the audio version.

I hope you all have a great week and that you enjoy the magazine.

Take care, and thanks for reading.


Ross Hammond, Editor

Reader-Submitted Joke

A preacher said, “Anyone with ‘special needs’ who wants to be prayed over, please come forward to the front by the altar.”
With that, Leroy got in line, and when it was his turn, the Preacher asked, “Leroy, what do you want me to pray about for you?”
Leroy replied, “Preacher, I need you to pray for help with my hearing.” The preacher put one finger of one hand in Leroy’s ear, placed his other hand on top of Leroy’s head, and then prayed and prayed and prayed. He prayed a “blue streak” for Leroy, and the whole congregation joined in with great enthusiasm.
After a few minutes, the preacher removed his hands, stood back and asked, “Leroy, how is your hearing now?”
Leroy answered, “I don’t know. It ain’t ’till next week.”

Recipe of the Week

Zesty Pork Tenderloin

Hoisin sauce, often referred to as “Chinese barbecue sauce,” fuels an explosion of flavor from soy sauce, garlic, chili peppers and various spices. Get it in the Asian foods aisle. From eatbetteramerica.

Prep Time:5 min

Start to Finish:1 hr 35 min

makes:6 servings

1/4 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon dry white wine or water

1 tablespoon hoisin sauce

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 small pork tenderloins (1 1/2 lb)

1. In heavy-duty resealable food-storage plastic bag, mix all ingredients except pork. Add pork, turning to coat with marinade. Seal bag; refrigerate at least 1 hour but no longer than 24 hours to marinate.

2. Heat oven to 425°F. Remove pork from marinade; discard marinade. Place pork on rack in shallow roasting pan. Roast uncovered 27 to 29 minutes or until pork has slight blush of pink in center and meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160°F.

Nutritional Information

1 Serving: Calories 150 (Calories from Fat 40); Total Fat 4 1/2g (Saturated Fat 1 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 70mg; Sodium 90mg; Total Carbohydrate 2g (Dietary Fiber 0g, Sugars 1g); Protein 26g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 0%; Vitamin C 0%; Calcium 0%; Iron 8% Exchanges: 0 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 3 1/2 Very Lean Meat; 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 0

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.