Archive for October, 2010

Recipe of the Week – Apple Cider Cake with Bourbon Cider Glaze

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

INGREDIENTS

For Cider Sauce:

 4 cups apple cider, preferably fresh

1/3 cup bourbon

1/3 cup splenda brown sugar

1/4 cup dark corn syrup

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup heavy cream

For Cake:

1-3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider

3 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 cup Bourbon

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup dark splenda brown sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

Vanilla ice cream, for serving 

DIRECTIONS

To make the Cider Sauce, in a saucepan, combine the cider, bourbon, brown sugar, corn syrup, vinegar and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the cream.  Simmer the sauce over medium high heat until reduced to about 1 cup.  It will take about 20 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla, transfer to a pitcher and let cool slightly.

To make the Cake, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.  In a bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.  In a glass measuring cup, combine the apple cider, canola oil and bourbon.  Using an electric mixer beat the butter until creamy. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.  Beat in the dry ingredients alternating with the cider-bourbon mixture, ending with the dry mixture.  Beat until smooth and well combined.

Spread two-thirds of the batter in the prepared cake pan.  Drizzle half of the Cider Sauce over the batter.  Dollop the remaining batter on top, then spread the batter over the cider sauce, being careful not to mix them together.

Bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back when touched.  Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn the cake out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

Serve the cake with vanilla ice cream and the cider sauce.

Reader-Submitted Joke

A lawyer and a blonde are sitting next to each other on a long flight from LA to NY. The lawyer leans over to her and asks if she would like to play a fun game. The blonde just wants to take a nap, so she politely declines and rolls over to the window to catch a few winks.
The lawyer persists and explains that the game is really easy and a lot of fun. He explains” I ask you a question, and if you don’t know the answer, you pay me $5, and vice-versa.” Again, she politely declines and tries to get some sleep.
The lawyer, now somewhat agitated, says, “Okay, if you don’t know the answer you pay me $5, and if I don’t know the answer, I will pay you $500,” figuring that since she is a blonde that he will easily win the match. This catches the blonde’s attention and, figuring that there will be no end to this torment unless she plays, agrees to the game.
The lawyer asks the first question. “What’s the distance from the earth to the moon?” The blonde doesn’t say a word, reaches in to her purse, pulls out a five dollar bill and hands it to the lawyer. Now, it’s the blonde’s turn.
She asks the lawyer: “What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?” The lawyer looks at her with a puzzled look. He takes out his laptop computer and searches all his references. He taps into the Air phone with his modem and searches the Net and the Library of Congress.
Frustrated, he sends E-mails to all his coworkers and friends he knows. After over an hour, he wakes the blonde and hands her $500. The blonde politely takes the $500 and turns away to get back to sleep.
The lawyer, who is more than a little miffed, wakes the blonde and asks, “Well, so what IS the answer!?” Without a word, the blonde reaches into her purse, hands the lawyer $5, and goes back to sleep!

News – No Jail, But Plenty of Pizza

Found guilty of tax-fraud to the tune of $104,000, a Buffalo, New York pizzeria owner found himself in front of a judge who could’ve very easily sentenced him to jail time.  But, instead of putting another body behind bars, the judge decided to go another route.  The defendant and pizzeria owner, Joseph Jacobi was sentenced to one year of providing twelve sheet pizzas to the city mission once a week to feed the homeless and less fortunate. 

Joshua Demps, an employee of the mission, was thrilled to receive the pizzas. “Whatever meal they had planned on cooking for the day, it’s canceled,” he said. “We’ve got pizza today and everyone’s got a smile on their face, so they just love it.”

The judge left the issue of toppings in Jacobi’s hands.

This is a fantastic sentencing.  The man was guilty of tax fraud, essentially a crime against the greater public since his taxes go towards things like schools, road maintenance, and important state-run programs.  His sentence is perfectly appropriate; he took away from the public, and now he has to give back.  Instead of sitting behind bars for his crimes–something that would cost the New York state tax payers even more money–he has to put his skills to good use and help those who are less fortunate by providing them with food once a week.

It’s refreshing to see a judge thinking outside of the box and forcing a non-violent criminal to use his talents to benefit the public rather than blatantly waste them by sentencing him to jail time.  A creative justice system, one that adapts to the needs of the people, is always a good thing.  Judges that separate themselves from the normal grind are unfortunately in short order, though, as I’m sure that there are many talented, non-violent criminals who could do a lot of good and are sitting in prison right now.

What do you think?  Should more non-violent criminals receive sentences like this and be forced to give back to the public instead of going to jail?  Let me know in the reader’s forum.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/buffalo/Creative-sentencing-for-pizzeria-owner

News – Study Finds Twitter May Be Much More Than Random Talking

Twitter seems an unlikely place to garner anything more than short updates, a handful of favorite current links from friends, and a way to share your life with the world in a 140 characters or less.  However, a group of analysts have taken the time to study what may be a very important gauge of the stock market buried within the millions of tweets throughout the site.

That’s right, I said the stock market.  For years, people have been trying to formulate ways to predict the actions of the market with any degree of consistency, only to find that their predictions are about as accurate as the flip of a coin.  But now, by using a scale of emotions in the form of an algorithm and a pool of nearly 10 million tweets from 2008 to present day, they can now predict the swing of the Dow Jones about 87 percent of the time.

The algorithm is called GPOMS, or Google-Profile of Mood States, and it focuses on six emotional states: happiness, kindness, alertness, sureness, vitality, and calmness.  The final state, calmness, is the emotional state that has been shown to best predict the Dow Jones.  They measured the so-called “calmness index” against the Dow Jones rises and falls on a daily level and found that there is a pretty defined correlation between the two.  So much so, that they are continuing their study because they feel that they can routinely predict the attitude of the market 6 days in advance.

Going forward, they will need to separate international tweets from American ones in order to gain a more accurate reading, as well as take into account the fact that the correlation, while defined, may be broken into many sub-categories that combine to create their result.

Either way, it’s interesting to see that something as cut and dried as Twitter seems to be may actually be the perfect tool to measure human actions and thoughts, and provide researchers with a sort of Rosetta Stone for deciphering the attitudes of the masses.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/25900/?p1=Blogs

News – Deaf Community Given Accessible Emergency Service Notification

In New Zealand, a new system has been put in place that allows deaf or hearing impaired citizens to text emergency notifications to their 111 emergency services number.  Not only can the texts be received with the new system, but operators will be able to respond as well and keep an open line of communication with people who need help.

The system focuses on helping the deaf and hearing impaired in the community.  It is especially useful for people who find themselves in an emergency situation outside of their homes.  By allowing text messages to be received, they are no longer tethered to special fax machines or tele-typewriter phones that were typically used to contact emergency responders.  For people who may have been reluctant to leave their homes for fear that they might need help and not be able to contact someone, this really allows them to live a more fulfilling and independent life.  It’s the perfect example of using existing technology to bring accessible emergency services to the disabled community.

With the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act passing recently, we will hopefully begin to hear about services similar to this used in America.  It’s amazing that something so simple hasn’t already been implemented.  But then again, there is much work to do in many areas of American infrastructure, from crucially important services like emergency response, to something as simple as video description for our most popular television shows.  The successes of these programs are all but assured.  Now, we need to focus on the implementation of these services and features so that they are available to the public as soon as possible.

To read the original article, please go to http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/4237577/Deaf-community-gets-111-text-service

Reader’s Forum

To navigate reader’s forum posts, please search for the ## symbol by using your browser or word processor’s search or find function.

In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Heating Controls in the 21st Century

Danni Says:

I ran across a similar situation 3-1/2 years ago when I moved into a new apartment and the oven was digital! I was having my volunteer help me get things marked and uh oh a digital oven is not good if you like to bake once in a while! I was fortunate that my then landlord was quick to replace it with a much more accessible oven!

I want to also add that more clothing works well and slankets are a great back-up for keeping warm! Grin

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I wish to respond to Bob Branco’s inquiry about sighted people’s assumptions about us.

The ones I find amusing are the carefully chosen words, when someone hesitates to say “We watch TV,” or “We are looking for an item.”  I have had people try correcting me by saying, “No, you listen to TV.”  I smile, saying, “I use the same words you do.”

In this age of political correctness, people have gotten hyper-sensitive about the use of these every day words.

As for signing documents or receipts, I tell them where to place my signature guide. This usually works and I seldom have problems. Life is an ongoing process of politely educating and patiently pointing out that we just function differently in this world.

Sincerely,

Karen Crowder

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I’d like to comment on Mike Klimisch’s discussion of the Samsung Haven mobile phone.  Mr. Klimisch has some erroneous information in his article, which could be misleading to prospective Haven purchasers.

First, Mr. Klimisch said that you cannot transfer contacts from another phone, unless you do it one by one.  This is true.  Unfortunately, there is no consumer program currently available for transferring contacts from another phone to the Samsung Haven.  However, this can be done at a Verizon Wireless Store.  Mr. Klimisch said his friend was going to be charge $20, by the Verizon Wireless store to have his contacts transferred.  I do not know if this is a Verizon Wireless policy, or if individual stores can set their own policies regarding fees for transferring contacts.  I do know, however, there are at least two different types of Verizon wireless stores–those which are owned and operated by Verizon Wireless, and those which are contract stores; meaning that they use the name, but are not operated by Verizon Wireless.  It may be that Mr. Klimisch’s friend did business with one of these stores, who choose to charge to transfer contacts.  When I purchased my Samsung Haven, in August, for $169.95, the Verizon Wireless Store transferred my contacts from my LG VX8360, at no charge.

Next, Mr. Klimisch states, “First he noticed that when you set the alarm on the phone you can only set for the hour or half past the hour; I.e., 6 p.m. or 6:30 p.m. with

no 6:45 or 6:15 or anything like that.”  This is absolutely not true.  Any of the three alarms can be set for any time of day desired.  After reading his statement, I set my alarm for 9:55 p.m., and it worked beautifully.  It may be that Mr. Klimisch’s friend didn’t really know how to set the alarm, correctly.  But, the alarm can definitely be set for any time desired.

When Mr. Klimisch’s friend purchased the extended life battery, he had to purchase another battery cover.  I don’t know what the salesperson told him about this.  But, the need for a cover to fit over the extended life battery is clearly advertised on the Verizon Wireless site.  Yes, you do have to pay for the cover separately.  But, this is almost certainly because some people may want to purchase more than one extended life battery and wouldn’t need more than one cover.  So, the cover is not included in the battery purchase.

Finally, Mr. Klimisch took issue with the restocking fee charged his friend by Verizon Wireless, when he returned the Samsung Haven.  Restocking fees are very common, when merchandise (especially electronic merchandise) is returned.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  If his friend thought he might be returning the phone, he should have asked, at time of purchase, if it could be returned and his money refunded.  Had that question been asked, I feel certain that the salesperson would have advised of the restocking fee.  It is not at all the same as test-driving a car.  When a consumer test-drives a car, he has not yet purchased the car.  Mr. Klimisch’s friend purchased the Haven, changed his mind and returned it; thus the restocking fee.

I have had my Haven for a little more than a month and a half and really love it.  I’m sorry Mr. Klimisch’s friend didn’t like his or didn’t learn enough about it to have all of his questions answered.

Cindy Handel

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Regarding Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Dog or Cane, You Decide

During my school and working days, I used sighted guide most of the time.  Someone was always going at least near where I needed to go, so getting me to my destination was not an inconvenience.  That’s how I met people and got to chatting and swapping ideas and friendships can form in this manner.  This travel method, which I still use all the time, was not even mentioned in the article.  I get the feeling that the sighted guide method is looked down upon by many blind people and this shouldn’t be the case. 

Beth

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My name is Roy McCutcheon and I’m a very avid Braille reader. I wanted to comment on the article “To Braille or Not To Braille.”

I feel that Braille is extremely important to the literacy of blind people. I’ve noticed that those who mainly use speech do not spell very well. That’s because it’s more difficult to stop and check the spelling of a word or name. They especially don’t know how to spell names currently in the news that are more difficult. With Braille, you can look at spelling immediately and also look at the layout and formatting of a specific document. Sure, voice reading has its place. It’s much less expensive and more portable, although with the new portable Braille displays out that is much less of a concern. I won a Brailliant 80-cell display. It’s very portable, operates on AC power, USB, or battery and is extremely portable. I have taken it on the road many times with my laptop and can also connect to my cell phone using MoblieSpeak. I urge all of you, if you have the choice, to consider Braille. It will make you more literate. Let’s not let such a wonderful means of written communication go by the wayside.

Contributor Nancy Scott – The Great Pumpkin Caper

One Halloween, before popular plastic and ceramic decorations, I talked my father into carving a pumpkin.  Being a bossy eight-year-old, I had carving requirements.  It had to have teeth I could feel.  Carving teeth showed great talent, I was sure.

My father took the bait and created a seven-toothed, smiling jack-o’-lantern (I was smart enough not to ask why it didn’t have eight teeth).  We proudly perched this artistic brilliance, complete with candle, to be lit Halloween night, on our front porch railing post.  Back then, it was safe to leave things on porches.

Two nights before Trick-or-Treat, my father, brother and I were in the living room watching hockey (Remember when there was only one television in the house?).  Bashing, penalties, and more bashing were, according to my father, was the best part of hockey.  In a lull or commercial break, he looked out the window.  “You aren’t going to believe this,” he exploded. “Someone stole our pumpkin!”   My father was upset enough to turn off the hockey game.

After an hour discussing what kind of person would steal a jack-o’-lantern, we decided it was a compliment.  They liked it so much they had to have it.  They were evil, but they had good taste.

TV back on, we resigned ourselves to an empty porch post, until my father looked out again.  “You really won’t believe this.  They brought it back!”

Our pumpkin, candle obviously used, was back on the post.

“They borrowed it,” I said.  “They knew it was the best pumpkin in the neighborhood and we needed it back for Trick-or-Treat.  It’s the teeth.”

My father never carved any more pumpkins.  He wisely quit while he could brag about the head.

Op Ed with Bob Branco – Emailing Tips

I know that many of you already do this, but I thought I would mention an important tip when emailing to groups. How many times do you open up an email and have to scroll down because you have to go through all the other email addresses that this person is also sending their letter to?  This morning I received an email in which I had to use my down arrow key over a hundred times before reaching the body of the email, because the sender

listed about 20 other addresses, the person who forwarded the email to the sender also listed about 20 addresses, and the person who forwarded the email to the other person who forwarded the email to the sender also listed about 20 other addresses.  All you need to do, when sending an email to a group of people, is to put your email address on the “TO” line, skip the “CC” line, and list all of your recipients on the “BCC (blind carbon copy” line.  This is what I just did.  None of you know exactly how many people are receiving this email, and frankly, none of your email addresses are exposed to everyone else.  I’ve had people ask me not to include them in my groups for fear that their email address would be exposed.  If you use this method, no one needs to worry, and no one has to scroll down through half a page of addresses from several previous forwards. They can get right to the body of the letter right away.

At one time, one of you asked me not to include you in groups because you thought your email address would be exposed.  But guess what?  With this method, you don’t even see your own address any more.

I hope this was a helpful emailing hint, because I’m sure that you agree how tedious it is to have to scroll, and scroll, and scroll through several forwards, several lists, and several captions before you finally read the email.  It’s not necessary.

The other important thing that this method does is prevent unknown companies from obtaining your address in order to put you on their own mailing lists, either as part of a promotion or scam.  You may want to forward this helpful advice to your lists, and perhaps in the near future, no one will be scrolling down forever until actually reading what the sender wanted them to read.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Driverless Cars: The Future of Independence

How often have you heard people over sixty say that they can no longer drive after dark? How many accidents have been caused by aging drivers with failing vision or people becoming distracted behind the wheel?  With a rapidly aging population and dwindling budgets for public transportation, viable transportation solutions for people with disabilities will be in great demand and will become a necessity.  With new technological developments, driverless cars may be the solution to the problem. 

By utilizing GPS, the cars would be able to map out routes and special sensors would detect when objects are in front or back of the car.  Each car would have accessibility in mind for aging and disabled drivers. Braille, large print, or talking software would be included so that any driver could successfully operate the vehicle.  For security purposes, cars could require a personal code or password, which would allow only certain drivers to operate the car.  The car’s computer would ask the driver for a destination and the rest could be taken care of by speed-sensing radar and unique software. If there was oncoming traffic, the computer would know to slow down so that accidents would no longer occur.

Just imagine the sense of freedom getting in to your own car and it driving you to your desired destination. Our aging population would be spared yearly eye exams to prove they can still drive.  The worry of being totally dependent on family members or para-transit would disappear.  It would break down barriers; no longer would we use the excuse in applying for jobs, of “I cannot get there.”  The NFB, Naas, Google, and car-makers are seriously working to develop a driverless car in the U.S. and across the globe.  Moreover, everyone, disabled or not, would benefit from these cars.  The issue of distracted driving will become irrelevant. Drivers will become passengers as they sit back listening to music, conducting business, or surfing the internet while being transported to their destination.

In 2070 and beyond, these cars will be common and accidents will be rare, because all cars will sense all objects behind and in front of them. They will be everywhere, and as common computers are now in 2010.  This invention will give everyone a now-undreamed-of sense of independence.

What an exciting future for our children and grand children.  I do hope to see the start of this new revolution in my lifetime.

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Teaching Knitting at My Local Parks and Recreation Department

In my bio, I mentioned that one of my jobs is being a knitting instructor. When I started knitting five years ago, I never imagined teaching others how to take up this awesome craft. But three weeks ago, I started my fifth beginning knitting class for my local Parks and Recreation Dept. My classes have ranged from as few as 2 students, to as many as 12. For me, the best thing about teaching others how to knit is that my blindness has not been a barrier.

When I started my first class, I had to figure out how to take what is a completely tactile experience for me, and turn it into a visual one for my students. In order to accomplish this, I have written instructions that I give out, as well as personally demonstrating the techniques we’re learning. What I found, though, was that even the sighted need more than just visual cues to pick up this craft. For many of my students, what ends up helping them the most is when I manipulate their hands, because in the end, it’s about knowing how to move the needles and the yarn.

Not all of my students have finished projects by the end of class, but some of my favorites so far have included an Orange and Black striped scarf (OSU Beaver colors), a simple baby hat, and dish cloths that were made using a pattern I created. It is wonderful watching my students succeed at all the techniques that we cover, even if it takes some of them longer than they would like. I have yet to have a blind or visually impaired student, but I look forward to that challenge if it ever happens.

If you’ve thought of becoming a knitter, I encourage you to see if classes are offered through your Park and Recreation Dept., or one of your local craft shops. If you are an avid knitter, and think it would be fun to teach others, I encourage you to peruse becoming an instructor. Crafts can be done by anyone with the right adaptations.